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Fangs Fr Th Mmmrs

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Of all the things Lex Foster expected to happen on an average Thursday night, saving the life of her classmate was certainly not one of them.

 

Lex didn’t usually leave parties this early, especially not one that had free booze. Danny usually threw pretty good parties. Snacks, booze, weed, what else would your average apathetic teen want? In theory, it sounded perfect, a great way to blow off steam before trudging into the humiliating ordeal of working at ToyZone the next morning.

To Lex, it just sounded like a fucking chore that would leave her with a throbbing headache and a tiredness that would follow her around for the rest of the fucking week no matter how much she slept. 

 

Lex was not your average apathetic teen. In multiple ways.

 

Blowing a cloud of wispy smoke at the sinking sun, Lex sighed deeply and slouched against the wide garage door. The shadow from the roof covered Lex in shade like a protective blanket, though it was already dark enough that she didn’t need it. Hatchetfield looked different at night. It felt different, too. For some, it might’ve been intimidating in a way to look at the deserted streets and the last rays of sunlight disappearing behind the trees. 

To her, it felt almost comforting. Familiar. 

Safe

From where she stood, the sun was barely visible over the horizon, glowing orange like a dying ember in a fireplace swathed in varying shades of purple and pink. The trees it fell behind looked as though they were fringed in gold, and as her gaze tracked to the near clear sky, she could make out the faintly illuminated shapes of clouds drifting across the sky. 

It was almost pretty. 

Emphasis on almost

 

Lex scowled and ran her tongue over her canines. She wished she could snuff out that ember for good. It’d make her life a hell of a lot easier, that’s for damn sure. She much preferred the light of a newly lit cigarette to the ugly sun. 

 

A loud crash came from inside the house accompanied by a plethora of loud voices. Lex took that as her cue to leave for good. Taking one last drag of her cigarette before crushing it under her worn sneakers, Lex fished around her back pockets for her keys when–

 

It hit her full force.

 

Lex’s head jerked up. Her nose twitched.

 

The scent was unmistakable. 

 

Blood.

And a fuck ton of it.

 

“The hell…?” Lex scanned the streets, desperate to find the source of the smell. 

 

“Oh God.” She covered her mouth with one hand.

 

She found the source alright.

 

In the distance she could make out a figure- a man- dragging his feet and clutching what appeared to be his shoulder. Blood dripped down his front and onto the street, leaving a red trail behind him as he trudged forward.

 

“Shit!” Lex shoved her keys back in her pocket and ran across the street to get a closer look. 

 

Two forces clashed inside her:

 

Worry, first and foremost. 

And Hunger

 

As she neared the man, she was able to see his face clearer. It was clenched in pain- understandable- but it also looked damn familiar. Eh, she’d figure it out later. That wasn’t the most pressing issue, though. 

 

The most pressing issue was the giant ass bite mark gushing blood like a goddamn fountain where his shoulder met his neck. Whatever the fuck bit him must have been strong, considering it seemed to have ripped through his fucking leather jacket. 

 

“Wha– who–” Lex wasn’t even able to get a full sentence out before the boy’s knees buckled. 

 

On instinct Lex rushed forward to catch him. 

 

Good news- she stopped the poor kid’s head from kissing the pavement.

Bad news- her head was right next to his shoulder. 

 

His gory, fucked up shoulder. 

Blood dribbled from the wound in a thick, heavy stream that stained the sleeve of her hoodie as she tried to push the brunt of his weight off of her, trying to pull her gaze away from the fact that he he was bleeding out–

 

Nobody would notice if I just finished the job–

 

The young man groaned lowly, interrupting her thoughts with the sound. His body shuddered violently as he tried to get to his feet, though his legs didn’t look as though they’d be able to properly support his weight. His movements were slow and shaky, and even when he did so much as breathe, his chest rattled with the sound before he tapered into wet sounding coughs. 

 

–no, stop that. 

Now is not the fucking time. 

Get ahold of yourself. 

 

Blinking, shaking her head in an attempt to clear it, Lex tried to keep his head from sagging too much as she righted him, earning a low whine of protest from him. “What the fuck happened?” She asked, shifting her gaze to the boy’s face. It was obvious he had recently gotten into a fight. Fresh bruises decorated his right cheekbone and jaw. His head wobbled with every movement, and if his half-lidded eyes and unfocused gaze didn’t make it obvious that he was dazed, the fact that he kept trying to doggedly stand sure as hell did. 

 

“Hey.” Lex snapped her fingers in front of his face. His eyes flicked up to her fingers, and he groaned softly.

Good. At least he’s able to move his eyes and responds to noise. He’s not dead yet.

 

Her head pulsed. 

 

Yet.

 

Her breath caught in her throat as the thought skittered across the back of her mind in a rush, the coppery smell of fresh blood in the air not helping in the least

 

Focus on helping him. 

Not making it worse.

 

It was easier said than done. It wouldn’t have been such a big deal if he wasn’t bleeding all over the place– blood wetting her hoodie more and more by the second– hell, if it had been a smaller wound, she probably would’ve been okay, but this? This was making her pupils thin out and her breathing turn rougher no matter how hard she tried to hold her breath. 

 

“Um, ok… fuck ,” she hissed under her breath, ignoring a pair of jagged points that had started to prod the inside of her mouth– damn it, shit, shit– “I’m not a medic. The fuck do I do?” 

There weren’t many options. 

I’d drive him to the hospital, but I can’t get blood in my car… and I can’t just drag this fucking bleeding teenager into Danny’s house… 

 

Lex worried at her lip, throwing another glance at the boy in her arms (pointedly avoiding the river of blood traveling down his arm). She knew him from somewhere. A classmate, maybe? It’s not like she paid attention to class or the people around her. 

 

“Green.”

“Huh?” 

He lifted his head up. 

“Ethan, Ethan Green. You’re in my shop class. Mr. Houston kicked you out once cuz you set a saw on fire, somehow.” Lex realised out loud.

“Thatzme.” Ethan’s words were slurred, but he still shot her a half smile. 

 

“Ok, Ethan.” Lex took a deep breath- bad idea. Her throat tightened. She ran her tongue over her canines. Ouch. Fuck

No deep breaths. Noted. 

 

“I know you’re like, bleeding out, and it’s probably hard to walk, but we’re gonna have to cross the street. You see that house?” She nodded towards Danny’s house. “There should be supplies in there. Got that?” Ethan just stared at her. “Nod if you understand.” He nodded. “Good. Right, up we go.”

Wrapping Ethan’s arm around her shoulder for balance, Lex heaved Ethan upright with huff. “Damn, you’re heavy.” She half dragged, half walked him across the street, and sat him down in the same spot she was at moments before. She could still smell the leftover cigarette smoke, though it was muted in comparison to the scent of blood drifting through the air, the coppery smell impossible to ignore. 

 

Not that she wasn’t trying to ignore it. 

 

“Do you want me to call an ambulance, Ethan?” Lex spoke slowly, knowing he most likely wouldn’t be able to process anything too quickly.

Ethan shook his head. “No. Can’t afford it.” He mumbled.

Lex pursed her lips. Same, buddy. I couldn’t afford a hospital trip either. 

 

“Fair enough. I know where Danny keeps his first aid kit. I’ll go get it. In the meantime… um, here.” Lex quickly unzipped her now bloodied hoodie, and after a moment’s consideration draped it over his wound like a blanket. “You can have this.” It’s not like I can use that jacket anymore. The stains will never come out, dammit. “Be back in a minute.”

 

“Lex.” Ethan’s hand shot out to grab her wrist.

Lex blinked. “What?”

“That’cher…” With a small attempt to adjust her jacket over his torn flesh, Ethan gave a low groan and a shaking, shuddering inhale before trying again. “That’s... yer name, yeah?”

“Uh, yes.”

“Thanks Lex.” He squeezed her wrist briefly before letting go. 

“No problem. Stay put, k?” Making a mental note to wipe the blood off her wrist ASAP, Lex started towards the house, but paused and looked back. “Ethan?”

Ethan looked up. “Hmm?”

“If you bleed to death on my jacket, I’ll be really pissed at you.” She added. “So… don’t fucking do that.”

He huffed out a laugh. “Wouldnn’t wanna do that.” Though he still was unable to speak clearly, he at least looked a little more awake.

 

Lex pointed two fingers at her eyes then Ethan’s, drawing a weak chuckle from him. Satisfied that Ethan was at least partially lucid, Lex opened Danny’s door and stepped indoors. 

Inside, the party was exactly how she left it- overcrowded and stinking of booze and pot. How did Danny ever get that awful stench out of his house? 

Now is not the time to ask that sort of question, Lex. Save it for later, when a classmate is not currently bleeding out in the driveway. 

 

The closest bathroom was connected to a bedroom which was thankfully empty of any horny teenagers. 

Lex grabbed the first aid kit under the sink, then paused.

Don’t they have like, 4 bathrooms or some shit? And they can buy new towels if needed. She stacked 3 towels into her arms, then plodded over to the bedroom dresser. She grabbed the first black shirt she saw, added it to her pile, then slipped out before anyone could notice.

 

“Ethan, you still alive there?” Lex sat down next to him. “I got you some shit.”

Ethan tilted his head. “Thatz a lotta shit.”

Lex shrugged. “Better too much than not enough.” 

“You said yer not a medic. How do you knoww this?” Ethan mumbled.

Refusing to meet his eyes, Lex tried to look anywhere but at his face or the gaping wound still steadily oozing blood out onto the floor. “Um, I… I had training.”

 

Bullshit. I watched a shit ton of survivalist shows as a kid.

She’d learned a lot from them– useful skills that she’d employed when she and Hannah were still living at home more times than she cared to admit– but this… was a little out of her league. Even though the driveway wasn’t well lit, Lex could easily make out the deep, jagged row of punctures decorating Ethan’s shoulder as he shifted his weight and attempted to sit upright. 

 

“Ethan– stop moving and let me help, you–”

“S’not… s’not that bad… jussa… jussa scratch…” He slurred out, blearily tracking Lex’s movements as she reached for his jacket. “It ain’t… hey… wha… woah woah woah whaaat?” He slurred out, eyebrows raising in surprise. He glanced at Lex’s hands gripping his jacket, then up to her confused expression. “At leas’ buy me dinner firs’.” He managed to joke, despite being woozy from losing like, ten percent of the blood in his body.

Lex’s eyebrows furrowed, before realisation dawned upon her. “Oh! N-no, not like that! I need to get a good look at your wound, and I can’t with your jacket on. That’s all.” She explained, her cheeks pink.

 

“Oh.”

It was quiet for a moment.

“My b.”

“It’s ok, I should have warned you–”

“No no, I ashoomed… asshumed... ash…aaaah.” Ethan frowned, unable to get the word out. “Y’know.” 

 

Lex bit back a grin. “I gotcha. Can I take off the rest of your jacket?”

Ethan nodded, and let Lex slip it off and discard it to the side. 

 

“Don’t worry, I won’t take off your shirt too. I can’t imagine you’d want to take that off in front of some random girl.” Lex attempted to joke back. 

Their eyes met.

Ethan just raised one eyebrow, but didn’t say anything. Lex was filled with the urge to look away.

Anyways ,” She coughed into her fist to break the silence. “let’s see how it looks.” 

 

His white shirt underneath wasn’t in much better shape; the fabric around his right shoulder had also been horribly ripped and fully displayed how gory and deep his bite wound really was. She winced. It didn’t look like any human could have made such a terrible bite, but it was also too large to be from an average dog. Lex sure as hell wasn’t a veterinarian, so she figured she’d let him tell his story. 

 

“So. Ethan. I’ll say it again: What the fuck happened?” Lex cracked open the first aid kit and looked for something to clean the wound with. 

Ethan gave a dry laugh. “Ya wouldn’ believe me.”

“Oh yeah?” She countered, looking up from where she’d managed to find a couple of antiseptic wipes– that’d help with a dog bite, right? The bandages in the pack were laughably sized compared to the gaping wound. 

 

Gauze packs maybe?

Or was that too thin?

Fuck , why couldn’t Danny have had a package marked “in case of rabid dog bite”?

 

Concern flickering across her face, Lex gingerly pressed her hand next to the wound, forcing herself to look at it. 

Shit, could it be infected? Probably, but if it was, it wasn’t like she’d be able to do anything about it at this point. The best she could do was clean it, dress it, and stop him from losing any more blood than he already had, and if those attempts failed, she could always–

No. 

 

Pulling away as Ethan’s head bobbed in a weak nod, Lex returned his weary gaze. 

“Yeah. Ish’s wild .”

“Try me. I’ve heard some real crazy shit before.” Lex rolled up her sleeves as far as they could go, and for good measure tied her hair up in a ponytail. The less blood potentially getting on her, the better. 

 

She missed the way Ethan’s eyes shone, biting his lip as he scanned her up and down, particularly fixated on her hair. 

 

What did those survival shows say? Put pressure on the wound, I think. Hopefully this doesn’t need a turna-whatever, because I sure as hell have no idea how to do those. 

“I’m gonna put this bandage on you now. And I have to put pressure on it, or the bleeding won’t stop. This’ll hurt like a fucking bitch, k?” Lex warned him. 

 

“I can han’le– FUCK!!” Ethan cut himself off with a yelp of pain that turned into a growl that sounded… not human. More animalistic. Lex didn’t even know humans could make that noise. 

It didn’t scare Lex.

But she did suppress the sudden urge to back away.

 

“So what bit you?” Lex said, applying a bit more pressure. Though Ethan was in pain, the blood flow had already started to lessen. “I’m assuming not a human.” 

Ethan’s shoulders slumped. “Yeah, it wasn’t human.”

 

Strange.

 

“So a dog or a wolf or some shit?” Lex prodded further. “Lift your arm a little, Ethan. I’m gonna secure the gauze with… whatever this is.” She held up a roll of medical tape. “It’s sticky so it’ll have to do.”

He refused to meet her eyes. “...Some shit like that.” He murmured finally. 

 

“Who punched you? Don’t try to blame it on a dog.” Lex tried to give him a comforting smile. He didn’t return it.

“That fuckinnn... douchenozzle cop asshole.” Ethan glowered. “He totally fuckin overreacted. Shade wearin’ sonuvaBITCH.” It was almost funny how heated Ethan was getting, despite his injury. 

“Sam?” 

Ethan’s eyebrows shot up. “Ya know ‘im?” 

Lex clucked her tongue. “He busted me for weed. Missed a year of school ‘cuz of goddamn juvie. I think everyone but the goody-two shoes in town fucking hates him.” 

 

“No kiddin’.” Ethan sucked in through his teeth as Lex finished tightly wrapping the tape around the gauze. “Ha. You were fuckin’ righ’, Lex.” He leaned his head on her shoulder. “This really does hurt like a bitch.” 

“Would you prefer to be bleeding out on the street?”

“Fuck no.”

“Exactly.”

 

“Do you have someone you can call or text to pick you up and drive you to…. wherever you live?” Lex brushed a strand of hair out of her face with her (mostly) clean hand. “I’d drive you but.. I uh…” she trailed off, realising that she already sounded like an asshole.

 

“Do you like… hate blood or somethin’? You look sorta, sorta skwee… suh… squeamish. Yeah, there we go. You squeamish, Lex?” Ethan teased.

 

Lex bristled.

Now it was her turn to avoid his gaze. 

 

“I’m not a huge fan of gore. Seeing people all fucked up and hurt doesn’t sit right with me, ya know? And blood’s fucking annoying to get out of clothes or fabric or what the fuck ever.” She replied after an uncomfortable silence.

 

Do I hate blood?

The exact opposite, actually. 

 

Her hands shook.

 

She’d fucking kill for a cigarette. Or a joint. Anything to keep her distracted from the (admittedly sorta cute) boy soaked in fucking blood sitting next to her, trying his best to be nice to her despite still being in a metric fuck ton of pain.

 

Ethan was nearly fully leaning on Lex by now, and if it wasn’t for the whole blood thing, Lex might not mind that much.

 

“You’re pretty.” Ethan murmured out of the fucking blue.

“And you’re woozy and don’t know what you’re saying.” Lex returned, not trusting herself to look at him.

“No no, itz true!” Ethan sat up slightly, only to sag back down. “Ok, may not be able to stan’ righ’ now. But ‘m serious.” 

“Ethan, I’ve had drunk men tell me I look like Celene Dion before, and even they sounded more convincing than you.” Lex quipped.

 

Ethan laughed.

It was a nice sound.

 

“‘m not drunk though.”

“If it wasn’t for the wound on your shoulder, I’d think you were.”

 

“I’ll fuckin’ say it again, Miss…” Ethan faltered, “lookin’ for a last name.”

“Foster.”

“I’ll fuckin’ say it again, Miss Foster.” He tried again. “I’ll say it when I don’t have an art-terty or whatever open. Tal’ to me, at school, tomorrow.” He raised his finger. “You’re fuckin’ pretty. And! You saved my life. Super duper ‘ppreciate that one.” 

Lex snorted. “You better.” 

“If anyone asks, I’ll tell ‘em too.” Ethan tried to nod, but his head dropped. “Oof. Brain too heavy.”

 

“You know what they’ll say?” Lex lifted Ethan’s head back up.

“What?”

“How much did she pay you to say that?” Lex smiled, but it was closer to a grimace.

 

Ethan frowned. “That’s rude.”

“Welcome to Hatchetfield High.” Deadpanned Lex. “Home of the stoners, preps, basketcases, nerds, and overall assholes. An IRL Breakfast Club.” 

 

“‘N lotta monsters. Non-humans. Whatever the term is.” Ethan added. “Never was friends with ‘em. Don’t have anythin’ ‘gainst em but…” He glanced at his bite mark. “Think it’d be scary to be one. ‘specially if you’re alone.” He nudged Lex. “What ‘bout you? What’dya think of em?”

 

Lex stared straight ahead, keeping her voice flat. “I don’t think I’d ever want to be a non-human.” She scratched at her cuticles mindlessly. 

 

“Humans have it way better. No rules, or restrictions, or any of that shit.”

 

Scratch scratch. 

 

“Humans are so… so fuckin’ free, and they don’t even know it.” 

 

Scratch scratch. 

 

“Imagine turning from a human into… whatever freak flavour of the week it is.” She waved her hand. “All alone. A downgrade, really.” 

 

“...’m guessing you don’t like non-humans then.” Ethan said quietly. 

 

Lex bit her lip and looked down, feeling a fang press against and threaten to break the delicate pink skin. “...Sorry. Upbringing.” 

 

“You feelin’ alright? You’re real sweaty.” Before Lex could say anything, Ethan gently put his hand to her forehead, only to immediately retract it with a small gasp.

Jeez , you’re colder than ice, Lex!” He looked at his slightly wet palm in concern. “Ya sure you don’ wanna come with to the hospital? God, gives new meanin’ to ‘cold sweat’.” 

 

Without thinking, he grabbed her hand, only to find her hand also freezing cold. “Are ya’ always this cold?” 

Ethan, on the other hand, was incredibly warm against Lex’s skin, almost uncomfortably so– like when you stick your hand in front of a hairdryer. Even so, for the briefest moment, Lex quite enjoyed the warmth that no matter how hard she tried, she could never replicate.

 

Then she realised she was holding hands with someone she barely even knew. 

 

Quickly she dropped his hand and held her own to her chest. Shit. What the fuck was that? That was… weird. 

 

“Um!” Lex swallowed her confused feelings and forced herself to look Ethan in the eyes. “I uh, here.” After some frantic scrambling to find it, Lex threw the black shirt at Ethan, almost hitting him in the face. 

“The hell?” Ethan held out the shirt to inspect it. “Is this, er, yours?”

Lex rolled her eyes. “Yes, I just carry around an extra shirt that’s two sizes too big for me wherever I go.” 

Ethan blinked.

Lex sighed.

Right. He’s fucked.

“No that’s not mine, I… borrowed it from the party’s host. He can afford another shirt. Since your shirt is… pretty much fucking destroyed, I thought it’d be better if you got a less fucked up one.” 

 

Ethan grinned, and even in the dark Lex could see a tiny flush to his cheeks. “Thanks, Lex.” He compared to his own torso. “Think it fits?”

“Dunno. I just grabbed the first shirt I saw.” It was easy to tell even in the dark that it would be a snug fit, if not maybe even a size too small. 

“Either way, it’s too big for me. We’re definitely different sizes.” She rested her chin on her palm, watching him as he took the dark fabric in his still somewhat shaky hands before sighing and straightening herself out. “Get that on, call me back over when you’re done, ‘kay?” 

 

A woozy nod was all she earned in response, and as much as it probably wasn’t the best idea to leave him alone, she wasn’t about to stick around while he hauled a bloodied shirt off himself and put on another one. No thanks. Turning on her heel, she rounded the corner before leaning awkwardly against the side of the house and beginning to gnaw lightly on her lip despite the fact that her fangs were starting to grow more and more prominent. 

Shit. 

She had to get him patched up ASAP, before she made things worse. 

 

Sighing, she raised a hand and pinched the bridge of her nose, closing her eyes momentarily. From around the corner, she could still hear Ethan’s choppy breathing, along with the rustling of his shirt, though every now and again his breath would stop– turning to a short, sharp series of whines before resuming. 

 

“Lex… kenyou… c’mere?” 

 

Is he… flirting?

 

“Ha ha, very funny Ethan.” Lex scoffed. “I’m not gonna go there to do… whatever.” 

“No, I acshually can’t put my arm over my hea’.” Ethan’s voice was muffled, like it was covered in fabric. “Lex. Lex helf me.” 

“...Wait, are you serious? You’re actually stuck?”

Yesh!”

 

Lex clicked her tongue. “Fine, but if this is a prank, I swear to God…” 

Cautiously, she walked around the corner, hoping she wasn’t going to be victim to some weird prank or trick.

 

Oh my God. 

 

“Jesus fucking Christ, Ethan.”

 

Lex couldn’t see his expression, but she would bet money he was shooting her a hell of a dirty look. 

She covered her mouth to stifle a laugh. “How did you even–”

 

“Arm. Too smuhl. Bluh laws. Helf me.” Ethan stated, as if that explained fucking anything.

A tiny snicker escaped Lex’s lips. One of the hands stuck over Ethan’s head flipped her off, which only made her laugh again. 

 

“Alright, alright, I’ll help you, damn.” Lex sighed overdramatically like it was some sort of burden- when actually, it was really fucking amusing. The way he writhed in the borrowed shirt reminded her of a helpless worm, or maybe a snake. In fact–

 

Even as Ethan struggled, Lex saw his toned stomach heave and flex, and at the right angle she noticed the faint outlines of some abs. She didn’t know what Ethan did in his free time, but clearly he hit the gym fairly regularly if he looked like that. As for the top half–

 

Wait.

No.

Nope nope nope nope! 

The fuck are you doing, Lex?! 

Don’t stare like a creep, fucking help him. 

 

Looking away abruptly, Lex swallowed hard before forcing herself to just focus on the shirt and the pair of arms pathetically protruding out of it. “Uh, ok, just hold still,” she instructed. Carefully she grabbed the edge of the shirt- making sure to look there and nowhere else, thank you- and pulled it down in smooth motion, freeing both Ethan and his poor stuck arms. 

 

Ethan stumbled forward, nearly collapsing into Lex’s arms. But there was something… different about him now. 

His bottom lip trembled, and he clutched his head in his hands like he had a head-splitting migraine. 

 

“Ethan? What’s wrong?” Lex was immediately at his side, hand on his back in case he stumbled again. 

 

“Everythin’s so loud and bright , an’” He turned to Lex, and his distressed expression softened. “You have really pretty eyes, Lex.” 

 

“Ethan, the fuck are you talking about?” Lex was losing patience. “It’s dark out. You shouldn’t be able to see anything.”

Well.

Lex could see just fine, but that was different.

 

“No no, but I can!” He protested, his voice bordering on frantic. His eyes were brighter than they’d been moments ago, pupils a little smaller than she’d remembered them being. 

 

Is he fucking high?

She hadn’t sold to him before, but from the way he was acting, the thought of him being cracked out wasn’t too much of a stretch to make, though it would’ve been easier if he seemed a little less lucid.

 

“Ethan,” she started, trying to keep her voice steady despite the fact that she was dealing with somebody who was possibly whacked out of his mind on LSD, “you shouldn’t be able to—“

 

“Your eyes’re brown,” he interrupted, “b-but not super dark they’re… they’re… like the brown of that hot chocolate from that shitty coffee shop that Ollie loves so damn much… no, no, warmer than that… warm like the sun, and they crinkle when you laugh- don’t they?” 

 

She froze.

Okay, creepy.

When they met it was already sundown, and Ethan was barely coherent. By the time he was more awake, it was already night. So how did he know her eye colour so well? 

 

Unless…

No. 

 

When she met his gaze, that cold feeling running down her spine began to spread as she registered his eyes— eyes that shone dimly in the dark that were full of raw, cold fear as they locked onto her own. His body shivering, quaking wildly despite the warmth of the night air. “I can… I see, it– it’s so bright , a-an’ loud, I don’t– fuck–” Breaking into another whine– God, what fucking human whines like that–, he shot her a desperate look and dug his fingers further into his hair. “—it fuckin’ hurts–”

“Hey, hey,  easy, Jesus, you’re gonna make it worse if you don’t let go of your fucking head, what, are you trying to squeeze it out?” Cautiously staying where she was, Lex tried not to focus on the feeling of him trembling as she awkwardly patted his back in what she hoped was reassurance. 

 

“Jus’ want it t’ stop ,” he choked out, voice cracking–  turning to yet another sharp whine.

 

He’s really fucked up. 

 

Dragging her fangs across her lip, she gave a small sigh. “I– I know, it… it’ll probably stop soon.”

Hopefully it would, anyway.

 

Jesus, was he fighting off a rabid dog or something? He wasn’t foaming at the mouth, which was probably a good sign, but as far as Lex knew, dog bites didn’t do… whatever the fuck this one was doing to him. 

Maybe calling 911 was the best choice– she’d barely managed to deal with the bite mark, but if whatever had bitten him had given him some sort of infection, what the help could she do? She wasn’t a paramedic.

 

...I’m the best he can afford.

 

Out of the corner of her eye, she shot him a glance.

He was looking worse by the second. Sweat was clinging to his forehead in a slick sheen. His breathing hadn’t calmed in the slightest , only turning more and more ragged with each second that passed, and when he opened his eyes from where they’d been screwed shut in pain, Lex swore they looked different.

 

...god I really wish he could afford better.

 

Attempting to pull away only to have him sling one arm around her shoulders and keep her pinned up against his side, Lex inhaled through her teeth. “Did you text your ride?”

“Y-Yeah,” he confirmed, taking a shaky breath in. “I… fuckin’ awhile ago… before I got my arms stuck inna fuckin’ shirt…” 

 

“Do you think they’ll be here soon?” Lex cycled through several different situations that would explain his wack ass behaviour, but none of them truly fit. LSD? Probably would have kicked in earlier. Rabies? Well, no foaming at the mouth, at least not yet. Maybe an infection from that dog that bit him; though she still wasn’t fully convinced that it was just a simple dog– wouldn’t an infection take longer to set in?– but she didn’t have any other explanation, either. 

 

“Ow!” She winced, and looked to see the nails of the hand Ethan had tangled in her shirt slice through her sleeve like knives and poke at her skin.

Ok, I noticed he painted his nails black beforehand, but they were not this sharp originally. 

 

Lex’s usually eerily slow heartbeat sped up, faster and faster, until it matched that of a regular running human- very much not a good sign. 

Is he having a heart attack?

Fuck, no, that was stupid— heart attacks didn’t sharpen nails for fuck’s sake.

 Am I having a heart attack? 

Can vampires even have heart attacks?

 

Mind racing, Lex was pulled out of her spiral by the sound of Ethan giving another sharp whine. The arm wrapped around her shoulders slumped to his side.

 

Lex refused to look at his hand.

 

Fuck that. Her gaze stayed firmly fixed on his head as he attempted to take a step forward, stumbling slightly under his own weight before seeming to catch himself. 

“Hey, where the hell are you going?” She called after him, following, albeit, reluctantly behind him. His gait was turning to more and more of a shuffle, and although she knew she could easily match his pace, Lex… kept her distance. 

 

“Can’t’cha hear it?” Ethan’s voice came out in a husky sort of whisper– why the fuck is he whispering? – that made it sound like he’d just woken up dehydrated. “Ollie’s stupid car always sounds like that. S’gotta get th’ muffler… muffler cleaned… keep tellin’ him that, but he don’t list’n…”

Again, his voice died out, though the silence that followed it was somehow more unnerving than the whines he’d been letting out moments ago.

 

Silence.

 

No sound of a faulty engine rang through the deserted streets. Stepping closer, nearly at the sidewalk, Lex frowned somewhat concernedly. “Ethan, I don’t–”

Listen!” He prompted, raising his voice only to claw at his head at the new volume. 

Lex sighed, but obliged.

 

...nothing.

 

If she really strained, she could hear the muffled bass of some shitty pop tune blaring through the thin walls of Danny’s place, but other than that, the night was surprisingly peaceful. 

 

Not that Lex was feeling any of that fucking peace in the slightest. 

 

Biting down on her cheek and exhaling through her nose, Lex struggled not to shoot Ethan her best glare as she moved to stand next to him on the sidewalk. “Ethan, there’s nobody…”

 

This time, it wasn’t Ethan that caused her to stop talking.

 

Instead, the noise of a sputtering, rattling engine faded into her ears from down the street, and when she looked in the direction it came from, a twin pair of yellow lights confirmed that there was a car approaching.

 

Beside her, Ethan huffed. “Took him long… ngh… ‘nough…” 

“That’s your guy?”

The nod she earned was sluggish, but there all the same. “Yesh,” he agreed, furrowing his brow at the sound of his own voice, “little cuz’ comin’ through… fuckin’ finally…”

 

His cousin.

Even though it probably wasn’t the nicest thing to do, Lex breathed a small sigh of relief as those headlights drew closer.

Good. He can be his family’s problem.

Not hers. As much as she felt bad for the fact that he looked damn near close to death, it wasn’t like she could do much else for him– and to be honest, between her torn shirt and the noises he’d been making, sticking around seemed like a fucking terrible idea.

 

“Well,” she started, backing up slightly from the curb, “I should probably get home, I…”

Fuck, think of an excuse.

“Little sister,” she settled with, fumbling slightly with the words, “a-and a morning shift, I should… try to get some sleep, and you seem like you’re fine, so…”

Fine was a complete fucking lie, but she wasn’t about to tell him that. Not when he was twitching like he was and walking in a hunched-over fashion that made it look like his top half was too heavy for him to hold up or some shit. 

 

The bandage on his shoulder was starting to turn an ugly shade of crimson that more than contrasted his sickly pale skin.

A shade of crimson that Lex could practically smell

 

Yeah, she needed to go. Now. Like, right the fuck now.

 

“See you around, Ethan, I guess.”

 

Hopefully not, but probably.

 

Backing up, keeping her eyes trained on him– is he okay? – Lex forced herself to slow down in an attempt to give him a chance to respond before she took off.

 

His smile looked wrong.

Not fake, just… wrong in a way she couldn’t put her finger on. Sharp.

 

“S-See ya ‘round,” he responded, “an’ thanks.”

 

That was all she needed to hear. 

 

“Don’t mention it.”

 

Before the words had left her mouth entirely, she’d turned her back and started jogging, just a step up from her usual walking pace. She didn’t look back.

A small part of her was scared of what she might see looking back at her under the muted light of the streetlights.

Was it stupid?

 

In any other town, it might’ve been, but in Hatchetfield?

 

She’d learned it was a smart choice. 

 


 

The second Oliver opened his mouth, Ethan wanted nothing more than for him to close it again. 

 

His tone was too sharp, too nasally, and more importantly– too loud – at just the right pitch to rise above the sound of the car’s engine rumbling away.

 

“Holy shit, what happened to you?”

 

“Shuddup,” Ethan hissed, stumbling slightly, barely managing to catch himself on the side of the car even as Oliver scuttled around to his side in an attempt to help, like his fucking matchstick arms would be able to hold him up.

 

Maybe I should’ve walked.

 

If Oliver heard the slight growl in his words, he didn’t show it. Instead, Ethan was treated to the feeling of one of his cousin’s sweaty hands brushing up against his arm.

God. The little beanpole was always so sweaty.

 

“Ethan,” came his tinny voice again, this time close enough to make his lips curl back in a wince, “are you– are you okay?”

“Peachy.”

Oliver’s nose wrinkled. His grip on Ethan’s arm tightened, though his light tug didn’t do anything to move Ethan away from the car door. “Uh, no,” he corrected, “or else you wouldn’t have called me– I need to know if I’m driving you to the hospital or the bunker. What– what the hell even–”

 

“Questions needa stohp,” Ethan slurred in response, tugging his arm clumsily out of Oliver’s grasp only to halfway fall onto the side of the car. 

Was it bad that a small part of him wanted to stay there?

The glass was cold on his skin, and although it meant that the grating, awful thunder of the engine was louder, it made the pain shooting up through his skull decrease just enough to make it worth it. 

 

Oliver looked at him like he’d grown a second head. “Okay, I’m gonna pull away from the curb– if you’re not in the car by then, I… I’ll come back with help, okay?”

Ethan grunted in response. 

I don’t know how you’re going to pull away from the curb while I’m still on the fucking car. 

 

Despite the fact that his limbs felt like they were full of wet sand, Ethan managed to push himself away from the vehicle when he heard Oliver jump into the driver’s seat and click his seatbelt. 

Is his window open?

It must’ve been. The sounds were clear and sharp, rattling through the air in a way that made Ethan press a hand against the side of his head and dig his nails into his hair. His lips curled. His eyes finally seemed to have adjusted to the cutting beams of Oliver’s headlights, which was something , but it didn’t make up for the fact that the rest of him was aching all over. He felt like he’d been hit by a bus.

 

Sam may have been an asshole, but he was an asshole with a mean right hook, he’d give him that. 

 

With a soft groan and the help of a fucking miracle, Ethan managed to get the car door open without eating pavement and awkwardly slid his way into the passenger seat, the smell of whatever shitty car freshener Oliver was using this week hitting him upside the head like a baseball bat. A cough caught in his throat. 

“Jesus,” he hissed, “easy on th’ body spray, Ollie… your mans doesn’t… doesn’t need’a get pepper sprayed every time he gehtz close t’ya.” 

Behind his glasses, Oliver’s eyebrows raised. “I don’t– the only thing that smells in here is you , and the car freshener!” He sputtered before reaching over Ethan to slam the door shut, the noise enough to make Ethan’s ears ring. He almost didn’t want to breathe in, not with Oliver so close– since when did he start using fucking cologne? – but when he inevitably did inhale, the smell… wasn’t actually any stronger. 

Huh. 

Maybe his car did have some gross car-smell. A new one. Not the normal clean one, or that febreeze bullshit he sometimes sprayed around. 

 

“Now,” Oliver huffed out, returning to his own seat only after the sound of Ethan’s seatbelt clicking into place caused the older teen to groan, “do you mind explaining why your shoulder is all bandaged up and bleeding? You looked like you got stabbed–”

“Bitten,” Ethan corrected, wincing. 

Fuck. Just saying it made his skin crawl. In his head, he could see the whole damn thing playing out, right from when he’d dropped the can of spray paint and attempted to book it to the sensation of being slammed up against a dingy wall by the collar of his jacket. 

“Bitten?” Oliver echoed, at which Ethan gave a sharp growl through his teeth.

”Did I fuckin’ stutter ?” 

“Bitten by what?” Oliver turned around in his seat to stare at Ethan in concern. “God, you look awful.” 

“Does it mattah’?” Ethan placed a hand on his forehead and drew it back to see it covered with glistening beads of sweat and–

 

Wait.

Have my nails always been this long? 

And why is my heartbeat so loud?

Why is everything so fucking loud?

 

An intense pressure was building in Ethan’s head, as if something inside his skull was attempting to gouge out his eyes with some dull tool that was being ground into his fucking brain. It damn near felt like his eyes were about to pop out. 

He closed them just in case. Better safe than sorry.

 

“I’m not really into the party scene or anything, and I don’t know what you’re tweaked out on but–”

“‘m not tweaked on anythin’.” Ethan insisted, opening his eyes to shoot Oliver a squinty glare. It would’ve been worse, but the street lamps seemed to be countering the fucking icepick in his head, the bright light feeling like someone poking his eyes back in their sockets.

...maybe I am tweaked on something.

Fuck.

 

His memories felt like they were blurring, and as he turned his attention from the window back to Oliver, the rest of the world seemed to blur alongside them before everything sharpened.

It was still too bright, but as Ethan blinked rapidly, attempting to sit upright a little too fast, he was made aware of the fact that his surroundings were different . Crisper. Cleaner.

 

When Oliver inhaled, Ethan winced.

“You look like it,” he huffed out, “and I’m not going to tell anyone if you are, but your eyes–” 

Ethan narrowed them threateningly.

Oliver stopped mid-sentence.

Despite the pain, Ethan smirked.

Works like a fucking charm. Every time.

 

“Ok,” Oliver snapped, raising his hands defensively, “fine, you’re not tweaked out. Got it. Still, we should probably get you to the ER.” He lowered his voice, though Ethan could hear him easily, as if he hadn’t quieted at all. “In case you start convulsing or dying or some shit.” 

“No.” Ethan could barely hear himself over the blood roaring in his ears. His voice sounded raw. Desperate. “Jus’– Henry’s. Please.

For a moment, he thought Oliver was going to say no.

It looked like he was going to. The way he drew his shoulders up almost to his ears was a dead giveaway, but when he spoke… 

“...Ok.” From his expression alone, it was clear he still thought it was a terrible idea, but Ethan didn’t give a shit.

Some of the tension he felt drained.

 

“Thank–”

That was all he managed to get out before his world exploded into noise.

The rumbling of the engine was so much worse in the car– bad enough to cause him to double over and let out a noise between a yelp and an animalistic growl that he couldn’t even attempt to force back as he curled up as well as he could manage, driving his newly sharpened nails into the sides of his head in an attempt to get it to just stop.

 

His shaking worsened.

Everything hurt– his head, his hands– his whole body was pulsing in time to his too-quick, too loud heartbeat.

 

He knew that they’d pulled away from the curb.

He heard it.

 

His eyes stayed firmly screwed shut against the sounds of tires crunching on uneven pavement. 

They stayed screwed shut when Oliver said his name.

When the blinker clicked and clacked.

When another car passed with a noise that made him think his head was going to fucking explode and rain gore all across the upholstery of Oliver’s cheap ride. 

It didn’t.

He almost wished it would. 

He couldn’t breathe right. His breaths were whistling pathetically in his throat, and when he dragged his hands down the sides of his head, he swore he could feel his nails threatening to break his skin.

 

Which wasn’t right.

None of this was right.

 

It was all wrong, wrong in a way he couldn’t even properly describe, not around the pounding in his head and with the effort it took to remember to breathe occupying his mind. 

 

The ride seemed to last an agonizing eternity. 

 

Sweat was absolutely pouring off him by the time that the squealing of the brakes sounded off like gunfire in Ethan’s ears, just adding to the harsh, ever-present drone of the engine, god, that fucking engine that he had half a mind to just–

 

“Ethan?”

 

With a turn of the key, everything stopped.

The absence of the noise felt like a presence, though when Ethan forced his eyes open, it only confirmed what the sound of blood rushing in his ears had already told him.

 

The world was still too clear.

The car, the familiar street outside– everything – and when Oliver turned, could see the minute cracks running through the lenses of his glasses.

 

“Alright.” Oliver took a shaky breath. “You’re… not yourself right now. You need to go straight to bed, and hopefully you’ll feel better in the morning. We have school tomorrow, remember?” He smiled weakly at his pitiful attempt at a joke. 

Ethan didn’t bother acknowledging it.

 

His gaze stayed disinterred as Oliver wiped his sweaty palms across his shirt and fidgeted with his suspenders before popping open the backseat door.

“I should have gone to the hospital.” He muttered to himself. “I can’t carry him to bed.” 

 

“Um, sling your arm around me, and I’ll help you walk. Won’t be too far, promise.” Oliver placed one of Ethan’s arms– good god , his skin was hotter than a space heater on high- and attempted to heave him up. No such luck. Though Ethan was clearly breathing, other than small twitches he was completely still, and his breaths were still raspy– rattling around dryly in his chest in a way that made Oliver’s brows draw together.

 

“That’s not good. That’s reeeally not good. Please don’t faint.” He whispered. 

You couldn’t do anything if I did.

He couldn’t get the words out. Instead, he tried to shake his head, though the action only made his world spin. 

 

“C’ mon . I’ll let you sleep on the couch. It doesn’t have to be in your room. Just get up.” Oliver tugged on Ethan. He didn’t budge. “Ethan, you’re seriously worrying me.” His voice cracked, the panic he felt spilling over into his words. 

A grumble sounded from Ethan in response.

Ethan finally moved. He struggled to his feet, nearly bowling Oliver over in the process, and forced himself to look at his Uncle’s house. Like everything else, it was too sharp.

 

Oliver gingerly helped Ethan out of the car. “Oh, I didn’t notice.” He murmured, clearly trying to distract himself, “It’s the full moon tonight. Pretty.”

On a normal night, Ethan would’ve laughed at that. He would’ve rolled his eyes, elbowed Oliver in the ribs, and trudged up the front steps to Henry’s, but tonight?

For some reason, hearing those words made him look up.

 

That was where the trouble started.

 

“Ethan? You ok?”

 

Oliver’s words didn’t register in Ethan’s ears.

 

Nothing did anymore. 

 

The only thing that did was the moon and the light that made his damp skin gleam in the darkness. 

For a moment, he just stared up at it. Frozen. Oliver was saying something, and from the tone of his voice, it was important– the words buzzed in the air frantically and about an octave too high– but Ethan barely heard him.

Oliver had never seemed farther away, and from where he stood, the moon had never felt so close. 

 

He inhaled.

 

He could feel his heart beating, the unsteady rhythm turning calmer as the night air filled his lungs and cleared some of the fog that had fallen over his mind. Hell, compared to the glittering moon above him and the sea of pinprick stars, the throbbing bite mark on his shoulder seemed so small– why had Oliver been so concerned, anyway? He was clearly just–

 

A dull crack sounded.

 

Something in his back popped. 

 

Not that it mattered. To him, there was nothing. Nothing but the sound of his heartbeat and breathing. Nothing but the moonlight streaming down like a spotlight, beckoning him to just let go.

 

His insides twisted.

 

A thought flickered across the back of his mind. It was slow. Hazy. 

Okay.

Looking up at the moon… felt right. Almost. It felt more right than how he’d felt bleeding out in the driveway of some kid he didn’t know, and more right than how he’d felt when he’d called Oliver for help–

 

“Ethan, h-hey, can you stop fucking around and–”

He turned when he heard Oliver’s voice– clearer, or maybe just louder than it had been before. 

 

Like that, there was nothing but pain. 

 

His exhale turned to a scream the second it passed his lips. 

 

It didn’t sound human.

 

It sounded like an animal , something that needed to be caged without a second thought as it tore up from him and left his throat raw and ragged, ragged enough to bring the taste of blood to his mouth, not that it made him stop.

Not that he could stop.

God, he wanted to stop. 

 

The sound poured from him without pause as his muscles spasmed– spasmed and twitched and pulled taut enough that he swore he could feel them breaking– under his skin, slithering and sliding across his bones, changing, changing–

 

No, stop it, stop it, STOP IT–

 

A snap sounded from his legs. It felt like needles were tearing through the ligaments there, and as he fell forward on his hands and knees, his back hunched under a new weight of muscle mass, vertebrae clicking and popping against each other in a mess of sharp cracks. Bones elongated and shifted, threatening to pop through the skin and back into place. 

The knees of his jeans tore out with a sharp rip, his legs stretching out abnormally like those of some cheap doll being twisted too far, and when he tried to look and see what the fuck had happened, all he could make out before the pain caused him to squeeze his eyes shut were the toes of his sneakers blowing out to reveal thin, jagged claws.

 

The taste of blood in his mouth was getting worse by the second, though the fact that he could smell it only seemed to make the coppery tang heavier. Thicker. Stronger.

His teeth were the wrong shape. Their points sharpened, his canines lengthened and curved to the point where they shouldn't have fit in his mouth. 

But he didn’t have a normal mouth anymore. 

His face met the pavement, though when it did, it felt wrong, skin stretched taut over a steadily elongating muzzle, the shape looking like a living thing trying to break free from his flesh. Pointy teeth rose up from gooey gums in his new, massive maw. His tongue shifted, lolling out past his– are they mine? I don’t want them to be mine, please, please no– jagged teeth as he panted, struggling to catch his breath despite the fact that his throat felt like it was on fucking fire.

 

The air left in his lungs was stolen in a howl.

 

Even if he tried to say anything– beg for help, call out to Oliver, scream every cuss word he knew, anything– intelligible human words could no longer pass from his lips. Hell, he could barely even think intelligible human words.

 

His eyes were still open as he writhed in the driveway– what were the fucking odds of almost dying in two driveways anyway?– leaving him acutely aware of the fact that his hands looked wrong. They were turning bulky, the joints changing to stubby, squarish pads that scraped against the pavement with his every move, though that wasn’t what caught his attention. 

 

His slit pupils focused on the dark specks starting to force their way through his skin.

Hair.

Hair began to sprout rapidly on every inch of his skin at a hyper-fast speed, like a plant growing in an instant from a sped-up Planet Earth clip. But there was nothing beautiful about this; no, it was simply horrifying, seeing his usually pale skin suddenly enveloped in dark hair– no, not hair, fur, fucking fur– the colour of his natural hair.  It started on the backs of his hands– paws? – in thick patches, but from the searing, prickling sensation rising along his sides, he knew that wasn’t where it was going to stop.

 

On his back, the shirt he’d “borrowed” ripped along the seam.

Deep brown fur spilled up from where it had split, curling slightly at the ends, and as more and more of the shirt was pulled past its breaking point, the fact that his body was no longer his was growing harder to ignore– not that he could just ignore whatever the hell this was, no matter how hard he tried to.

 

This is a dream.

You’re dreaming, Ethan.

This can’t be real, it can’t be, it can’t be–

 

Another wave of pain crashed over him, hard enough to buckle his newly formed legs and pry a whine from his throat, this time, coming from the end of his nose, which was feeling considerably damper.

 

...you don’t feel pain in dreams.

 

No.

 

No, that wasn’t– it was a fucking dream , or a nightmare, some consequence for drinking or staying up too late– that was all, his mind was just fucked, conjuring up some–

 

Blood dribbled down from his shoulder, sticking to his fur.

 

...this was real.

 

His mouth wasn’t the only thing to morph on his face. His ears grew pointed, then started gradually shifting further and further up upon his head. A fine layer of soft dark fur covered them as well, though his original left earring remained, a tiny reminder of the boy this beast once was. 

 

His lower back ached, and suddenly the seat of his worn jeans burst open as a tail unfurled itself from his tailbone. It stuck straight up in the air aggressively for a moment, then tucked between his hind legs in defeat as his whole body throbbed. 

Hind legs.

Not regular two legs. 

He had fucking four of them now. 

 

Was there even any human part of him left? 

Perhaps his mind, but even then it was hazy and panicked at best. 

 

Ethan glanced up at Oliver, whose current emotional state could be summed up in one word.

 

Fear. 

He could smell it on him. 

 

Something in his mind changed.

 

His body moved on autopilot. The paws he’d found frightening felt good, right , even, as they braced beneath him, his body lowering toward the concrete. His stomach brushed lightly against the ground, though his haunches were tense– ready to spring.

Unbeknownst to him, his tail was sticking up again.

Keeping his icy eyes trained upward from where he was crouching, Ethan stamped his paws almost impatiently when Oliver’s gaze shot to his own.

 

The sound of his voice made Ethan’s ears pin back and a menacing, low snarl rumble up from his core. 

 

Shit , I– n-no…”

As he spoke, he took a step backward. 

 

Ethan tensed. 

 

Again, their eyes locked, allowing the crouching beast to see every fleck of blue in his cousin’s eyes, magnified behind those too-thick glasses to a point where they seemed almost zoomed in. He could hear Oliver breathing, hear the frantic, whistling breaths of someone on the verge of an asthma attack. 

 

Along his back, his fur began to stand on end. His muscles were bunching up. 

 

Another growl bubbled up from his throat, and in that instant, Oliver bolted. 

 

He made it three steps before Ethan pounced, his new body hurtling forward, earning a shrill, panicky scream as he slammed to the pavement inches behind Oliver– his cousin’s keyring clattering. 

 

“C’mon, n-no, Ethan STOP–”

 

The pleas blurred together in his ears. The name Oliver was crying out sounded unfamiliar, and his voice was far too sharp, sharp enough to make him toss his head and growl in an attempt to make it stop , though of course, that only made it seem even fucking louder

 

“–ETHAN, ST-STAY WHERE YOU ARE, I– IN THE MORNING, I’LL LET YOU IN–”

 

Fuck that. 

He was getting in now .

 

With another guttural noise– this one closer to a proper howl– Ethan sprang after Oliver the second he jammed his key into the door and flung it open, vaguely aware of the scrawny boy shouting something, some jumbled word–

 

The door began to close.

It happened fast. 

But he was faster. 

 

Ethan–

No.

The monster darted forwards, making it inside just before the door shut, leaving him facing his trembling, wheezing prey with malice shining in his eyes. 

 

Oliver backed up slowly, trying his goddamn best not to hyperventilate, until he tripped on a rug and fell flat on his ass with a thud. His voice was shaking more than he was, lips forming words that buzzed in the air like hornets and made the monster pin its ears back further, lips pulling back to show off its jagged teeth. 

Sprawled out on the carpet, Oliver trembled. 

 

The situation was folding out in a way that seemed to spell out certain doom for him– between the snapping, snarling beast standing in front of the door and the fact that he was shaking too bad to move, three things were becoming obvious. 

 

Ethan was gone .

 

He’d locked himself inside with a monster

 

And he was fucking dead

Chapter Text

As far as Oliver was concerned, Ethan Green was a lot of things. 

 

He was an asshole, first and foremost. Always had been, always would be– none of that “tough love” bullshit, no, he just seemed to get a kick out of tormenting his younger cousin. He was always around like some stupid shadow clad in leather and that one fucking glove– god, that stupid glove– hovering just behind him with every step he took through the school building. 

Even when he’d started homeschooling, Ethan had been a pretty constant presence, coming by on his rounds or whatever with his car sounding like it had been slammed between a wall and an eighteen-wheeler every single time it drove past where he was staying. 

He’d gotten used to the sound. 

He’d fucking trained himself to recognize that rumble, and the second he heard it, he’d feel a spike of sheer, unadulterated panic that would cut through him like a knife and cause him to slam whatever book he was reading shut before scrambling to the window. It was a rumbling he could practically feel whenever that car– car, not a fucking jalopy or whatever he calls it – pulled up the drive. 

 

It was terrifying.

 

But this was worse .

 

Panting, gasping for breath where he lay, Oliver kept his eyes locked with those of the beast crouching between him and the door despite the harsh, agitated growling rolling up from the depths of its chest. 

 

He never thought he’d wish for the growling to be coming from Ethan’s car pulling up the drive, but as he forced another breath into his lungs and dug his nails into the carpet, god, did he ever fucking wish it was just the jalopy. 

 

After all, the Ethan that would jump out of the car was one that, although a complete dick, had once beaten up his bullies so bad they’d never stepped toward him ever again. That was the Ethan that would sometimes say things that were genuinely funny , and when he stressed himself out studying and had nobody else to call, would swing by Beanies and pick him up a hot chocolate, only halfway joking that he’d spat in it.

 

But this Ethan?

 

This one didn’t look like Ethan anymore. 

 

This one looked ready to fucking kill

 

With twin glowing eyes, the creature took a step toward him, causing him to pull his legs toward himself and dig his nails into the frayed carpet. “P-PLEASE DON’T KILL ME– I– I’m warning you, st-stay back, I’ll–”

 

What could he even do?

 

The beast that had once been his cousin was fucking enormous– practically made of muscle with a set of powerful, cutting teeth and jagged claws. 

 

He had fuck all compared to that. 

 

Mentally Oliver ran through a list of spells– Goddammit, why didn’t I ever learn some fucking offense spells for fucks sake– but they all seemed useless at the moment. Some wizard he was– not even a proper wizard, not yet , though from the way the creature was looking at him, drool slipping past its wicked fangs in thick, stringy strands, the all too real possibility of never becoming a proper wizard hit him upside the head like a fist to the jaw.

 

“I– I promise I’m not that tasty, I’m just– j-just a beanpole like Ethan- like you said! Not nutritious, not tasty nope nope nope!” He scrambled, but the beast didn’t listen. If anything, the noise of his voice made those lips draw back further and that ferocious snarl deepen. 

 

The moment Oliver moved back, the monster pounced – the motion prying a scream from his throat before he could even try to choke it back. Its weight slammed against his front, two enormous paws landing with dull thuds on either side of him with that huge head mere inches from his own to a point where he could feel every rank, hot breath on his cheek. 

Its claws dug into the front of his shirt. 

 

He couldn’t make a sound. 

He wanted to. 

He wanted to scream out for help– throw every spell he knew at what had once been Ethan– but all he could do was squeeze his eyes shut and turn his head away, bracing for the blow that would surely take him when–

 

SNAP!

 

A soft, pained whine rang in his ears. 

 

The pressure on his chest disappeared. 

 

Barely daring to open his eyes past thin slits, Oliver forced himself to inhale, slowly, slowly cracking his eyes open to look up at the ceiling– the retreating shadow of the monster falling further and further out of his line of sight until he could barely even see it in the reflection of his glasses. 

 

What the hell?

 

Why wasn’t he dead?  

 

He should’ve been– that thing had looked like it was ready to dig into him and deck the fucking halls with his guts, but… now?

 

Lifting his head, Oliver tried in vain to stop himself from hyperventilating the second he laid eyes on it. Fuck , the thing was enormous. Enormous and–

“You’re wounded,” he murmured, earning himself a moment of eye-contact as the beast drew backward, slow step by slow step. 

 

Its paws dragged on the floor. With every shaky step, it whimpered, and although it gave a growl of warning when Oliver sat up, it… made no move to attack. It only shifted its piercing gaze to the deep wound on its shoulder– blood from it still wetting its matted fur and making its slow way to the floor. 

 

Oliver wasn’t the best at healing spells. He was a self-taught wizard who more specialised in charms and numerology and maybe the occasional hex. His uncle, while having the capability to do magic, was much more interested in science and never bothered to help Oliver in his studies. 

He really wished he had the extra help now.

 

Slowly, he took a shaky breath. The once frightening beast looked almost… pitiful, lying down and whining at its injury. 

 

“Ethan…”

 

Again, those eyes met his. 

Fearful, confused, and above all… a familiar cold blue, so dark it was near grey. 

Those were Ethan’s eyes without a doubt.

 

“I’m not going to hurt you, ok?” Oliver stood up cautiously, yet Ethan still growled. He tried rising to his feet– paws? Does it matter?– as well, only for his right leg to wobble and collapse again without a warning, the sharp noise of a yelp shooting through the air before Ethan’s claws all but shredded through the wood floor in an attempt to keep him upright.

 

Oliver winced. 

Uncle’s not gonna be too pleased about that. I’ll just put the rug over it and hope he doesn’t notice.

 

Pulling his attention away from the scratches, slowly, Oliver raised his hands and tried to find his words. “I’m not a threat,” he reassured. 

Even if I knew how to fight, you’d probably kill me in two seconds. 

His stomach twisted at the thought. It would be so easy for the creature–

 

Shaking his head, he closed his eyes momentarily. 

It’s Ethan. He’s still in there. 

Maybe he wasn’t completely in control anymore, but his cousin was there – there enough to not eviscerate him on the fucking spot, and while that wasn’t much to go off, it was enough to make Oliver carefully open his eyes and swallow hard. 

 

“I’m just gonna… go get help.” 

Whether it’s medicinal help or physical help to ward him off is the question. 

Probably both. 

 

He took a shaky step backward, only for the wolf to snarl and gnash its teeth– causing him to jolt and nearly fall flat on his ass for a second time– shit, shit

Quickly, he moved back to where he’d been. 

The beast whimpered softly before turning to lick at the wound standing out on his fur. 

 

Despite the situation, Oliver found his eyebrows raising. “...do you want me to stay or something?” 

Ethan whined again. 

 

Was that a yes?

 

Keeping his eyes trained on the wolf– the fucking enormous brown wolf curled up in the living room– Oliver lowered himself into a hesitant sitting position. “O-Okay,” he started, shakily, “sure. Sure um, I’ll stay. As long as you don’t try to kill me.” 

 

Or eat me. 

Or otherwise do anything aggressive, because so help me god, I will hex you into next week if I can breathe before you end me. 

 

As much as there was terror coursing through his veins, Oliver watched Ethan with a heavy heart as the wolf tried again to lick at his bloodied shoulder. 

 

How long before he turns back? 

Is he even going to turn back at all? 

 

One thing was certain. It was going to be a long fucking night.

 


 

Oliver stayed with Ethan, all night long.

 

He hadn’t pulled an all-nighter in quite awhile, but he didn’t trust himself to fall asleep around a big ass, potentially dangerous wolf that used to be his cousin. That sounded like a one-way ticket to hell, so no fucking thanks. 

 

It only took a few hours for the whimpering pulling from Ethan to fade into nothing, the haggard, rough breathing turning softer by the minute until it tapered off into a steady pattern. 

He was asleep.

 

The same couldn’t be said for Oliver. As much as his eyelids did threaten to slip closed behind his glasses, he couldn’t chance it. What if Ethan woke up? And worse– what if Ethan woke up before he did? It wasn’t a risk he could take.

 

Thankfully, when daylight began to creep through the small, heavyset windows, the enormous creature shifted back into a shape Oliver knew damn well– though unfortunately, it was a decidedly naked-er shape than he would’ve wanted to have to deal with. 

 

Because of course it was. 

 

Oliver made sure to research “shapeshifter proof pants” later on.

 


 

Lex was nervous.

Like, really nervous.

It was to be expected, sure, seeing as last night was a total and complete fucking shitshow.

Obviously.

 

God, what were the fucking odds? 

 

She met a cute boy, only for him to nearly bleed out and lose his goddamn mind. Last time she saw him, he was in fucking awful shape. As far as she knew, he’d died on the ride to wherever the fuck he was going and she was carrying around the jacket of some dead guy.

She hoped not. 

He seemed sweet– at least he seemed like he was sweet while woozy. 

Maybe he was completely different normally. 

...was it bad that she hoped not? Would it be too much to ask for for a cute guy to actually have a scrap of personality to match his pretty face? He wasn’t exactly coherent the night before– the complete fucking opposite of coherent if she was being honest– but she hadn’t been much better, thanks to the blood that had been draining from him faster than water from a leaky faucet. 

 

She hadn’t even known humans could bleed that much until she’d patched him up, and it wasn’t like her vampiric instincts had helped, no, they’d been fucking screaming. There’d been so much blood, so close to her, but she couldn’t bring herself to do anything about it. 

It would’ve been easy to. More than fucking easy– it would’ve been natural– but there’d been something about him that had made her pause and fight it off. 

 

Lex had never tasted human blood (well, not willingly ), thought she bet it was better than squirrel and bird blood or whatever she and Hannah fed on most days. Whatever dead animals she could scrounge up were usually on the menu, leaving the Hatchetfield rodent population dwindling to a point where it was getting harder and harder to actually sate that stupid hunger she had to deal with every single time someone at school had so much as a papercut. 

 

But even if this Ethan kid had looked like a snack in more ways than one– fuck, no that’s weird, don’t think like that – Lex wasn’t about to betray her morals for an easy victim.

 

He was probably dead. 

 

God. She was probably sitting by herself with some barely-washed clothes– she’d made an effort, but no matter how much Oxyclean she put in, the red would not come out of his white shirt, and she didn’t have time to fully fix his leather jacket– that belonged to a dead kid. 

 

Great. 

 

Shifting her weight, Lex tugged nervously on one of the bag’s straps. It wasn’t like she’d had to wash the clothes out as well as she could manage– hell, it was probably futile, but it action gave her a little hope, even if it left her trying to explain to Hannah why the hell she’d come home with bloodied clothes and sweat clinging to her skin in a gross feeling sheen. 

 

I shouldn’t have bothered.

She tugged harder on her bag. 

These clothes are only making my backpack heavier. 

 

Huffing under her breath, Lex turned her attention to the sad limp fries on her cheap styrofoam tray– thanks, Hatchetfield school system–  awkwardly poking at them without really looking and– 

 

Holy shit there he is. 

 

Indeed, there Ethan was, halfway across the cafeteria and seemingly arguing with one of the lunch ladies. He looked irritated as all hell as he snapped back, his hackles raised and hands curled into fists. Lex had half a mind to step in, or at least move closer, when the lunch lady said something that made Ethan go pale and storm off, both hands shoved in his hoodie’s pockets.

 

Lex bit her lip. Should I call out or go up to him or–

 

Their eyes met.

 

Ethan’s scowl melted into a smile, and without even breaking stride, he turned toward her.

 

“You’re alive.” Lex greeted him before he could open his mouth.

“So I am,” he agreed, “shocker, I know.”  Though he was smiling, Lex could see how fucked up he looked. The deep bags under his eyes– his eyes are a really pretty colour, not that that mattered– were dark and pronounced, his skin still sickly pale, and there was a shoulder wrap peeking out from the lapels of his hoodie. At least he didn’t look like he was three seconds away from collapsing, though when he changed how he stood, it looked like he wobbled a little on his feet. 

 

“I thought you’d be at the hospital or…” Lex shrugged, “not at school the next day, I guess.”

The smile he wore turned to a mock-offended expression, his eyebrows creeping up toward his hairline. “What, do you not want me to be here?” 

No, ” Lex corrected with a huff, “I want you safe , dumbass, wherever that is.”

“Aw, you want me safe? I’m touched–”

“Are you just going to ignore the fact that I called you a dumbass?”

“Yes.” 


A beat of silence passed between them, one that allowed her to take a look at his stupid, goofy smile and weird eyes– not quite blue, but not quite grey, glinting somewhere in the middle– 

 

“Can I sit here?”

She didn’t get a chance to answer before he slumped into the seat across from her, causing her to give a snicker. 

“Be my guest. It’s not like there’s a bunch of other people clambering to sit with me.” Lex gestured to her empty table. “Hard to believe I don’t have my own entourage, I know.” 

Ethan snorted. “Hey, I’m in the same boat. Don’t have a big group of friends and frankly, don’t want em either. I’m fine by myself.”

 

“Oh, so you’re like a lone wolf.” Lex joked. “Pack of one or whatever.”

Ethan froze.

“....you could say that,” he agreed, shifting how he sat slightly. 

 

...okay?

Brushing aside his discomfort, Lex made a point to change the topic. She recognized the look on his face. It was one she’d seen in her own reflection more than enough times to pinpoint within seconds, and as much as it wasn’t like she’d said anything wrong, not that she knew of, he looked like he needed an easy out. Which was fair. 

 

He did get bitten yesterday. 

 

“It looked like you and the lunch lady had a little spat. What happened?” Lex jerked her head over to the lunch line, where the same lunch lady appeared to be in another argument with a different kid. “She looks like she’s in some sort of mood.”

Ethan rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I’d fuckin’ say. That stupid Wicked Bitch of the West lunch lady got all pissy when I politely asked her if she had some meat or at least something that wasn’t shitty fries. She totally overreacted.”

Lex snorted. “‘Wicked Bitch of the West’, huh?” She echoed, at which Ethan nodded.

“I know it’s a little offensive, but for fuck’s sake, everyone calls her that– and I think we’ve got a right to at this point.”

“Don’t let her hear you saying that. She’d go fucking ballistic .” Lex chewed on a soggy fry, and after a moment, she tilted her head. “And then she’d probably start a rant about how that movie was offensive or whatever.” 

“Yeah, I’ve heard the same schtick about that movie being a bit of a sore spot for their community like, a gazillion times.” There was a bit of a tired drawl in his voice when he said it. “And if she’s gonna fuck someone over for calling her that, I’ll just point her toward whoever the hell decided to give her such a catchy fuckin’ nickname.” 

 

One of his hands shifted on the table, and before Lex could stop him, he snatched a fry from her tray before biting it and looking as though he immediately regretted his decision. 

A smirk settled on her face. “I’m not even going to give you pity for that,” she started, pointing a fry at him for emphasis, “but whatever. Look. The point is, if you’re gonna shittalk someone, shittalk them behind their back. If you do it to their face , then you might get punched, and that shit sucks. Trust me, I’ve got lots of experience on this one.”

 

“I don’t think lunch ladies can punch students, Lex.”

“I dunno, Ethan,” Lex slurped from her milk carton thoughtfully, “she might make an exception for you. I would.” 

“See,” he started, stealing another fry from her tray faster than she could swat him away, “this is why she’s out there dishing up cold, shitty fries, and you’re contained to your table of one.”

A laugh bubbled up from her throat. “Table of two, now that you and your dumb ass are here,” she corrected, at which he shot her a crooked grin. 

“Looks like you aren’t gonna be punching me, then, if you wanna keep it that way.” 

“You’re right. I’ll just have to get her to hex you.” 

Ethan scoffed in response. “I get threatened with hexes all the time from my cousin. Shit doesn’t phase me anymore.”

 

His cousin. 

 

“Oh, yeah.” Lex straightened. “What… what happened last night?”

 

Ethan’s smile fell. “Huh?”

 

“Like, what the hell happened after your cousin picked you up?” She clarified, raising one hand to drag her fingers through her hair. “You were in pretty fucking bad shape.”

Pretty fucking bad was an understatement. The guy had pretty much been dead on his feet, and now, here he was cracking jokes as though nothing had even happened. Something didn’t add up. Lowering her voice, she leaned forward a little bit, not even batting an eye as Ethan stole yet another fry from her. 

 

“You could barely talk besides rambling about shit being too bright and loud, and you were sweating like a fucking faulty fire hydrant.” She narrowed her eyes. He didn’t seem the type, but...

“Were you on drugs?” She asked, genuinely curious. “I won’t tell anyone- snitches get stitches n’all- but if you were you should definitely take it up with your dealer because I think that almost fucking killed you.” 

Ethan stiffened in his seat. “Oh– n-no. No, I wasn’t on drugs.” Shaking his head, he scrubbed a hand down the front of his face, fingers pinching the bridge of his nose. “I…”

 

Trailing off, he gave a weak shrug before pursing his lips and trying again. “Um, I– it, uh… my uh, dog bite… I was allergic. I had a uh, allergic reaction to the dog bite. And it fucked me up real bad. As you could probably tell.” 

 

Lex scooted away slightly. “Is it contagious? Did you at least get it looked at by a doctor?”

“No!” Raising his hands, he gave an awkward sounding laugh. “It’s not contagious, I swear! It’s not an airborne disease or anything, just a personal thing. Not rabies either. Kinda like… I dunno, a peanut allergy. No need to get worried.” Ethan insisted. “And my Uncle, he has a doctorate which is basically the same as a doctor, he checked the bite out and said it’s all good.” He flashed a weak smile and thumbs up. 

 

Somehow, Lex doubted that his ‘doctor Uncle’– if he even had a doctor Uncle– had cleared the wound as “all good”. 

 

She blinked. “Wait- did you just compare getting bitten by a dog to a fucking peanut allergy?”

“And?” 

Lex clasped her hands together and took a deep breath. “Boi.” She pointed her hands at Ethan. “Peanut allergies don’t suddenly increase your senses or cause you to growl or make your nails grow. What fucking allergies do you have?”

Ethan shrugged. “Dog bites, apparently.”

 

The fake confidence he had in his obvious lie was astounding.

 

“Oookay, If you say so.” Lex pinched the bridge of her nose, not feeling up to fighting such a stupid lie. 

 

He was totally on drugs when it happened. Why he wouldn’t just own up to it was beyond her, but hey, whatever. It wasn’t her place to pry, anyway– and why did she care? He was just some rando she was helping out, that was all. 

 

“So you didn’t go to the hospital? You just… what, went home, had your doctor Uncle check it out, went to sleep, and woke up completely fine?”

Ethan snapped his fingers. “Exactly,” he agreed, “‘s really not that complicated.”

 

“...You don’t think I’m stupid, do you Green?” 

He paled. “What? No! Of course not, Lex. Why would you say that?”

Lex raised her eyebrows. “You need to get better at lying. That explanation sucks .”

 

Ethan looked down at his lap. “...fine,” he grumbled. “You wanna know what happened?”

 

Why the fuck would I ask if I didn’t want to know?

Biting back the remark, Lex settled for a sharp nod, watching as Ethan made a low noise in the back of his throat and sank down a little further in his seat. 

 

“I…” Sighing, cutting himself off, he scratched the back of his neck before trying again. “I blacked out when I got home. Last thing I remember was Oliver rolling up and you saying goodbye. I got into his car, collapsed, and then I woke up in the morning with Ollie whining at me to go to school. That’s all, I swear.” Beneath the table, his knee jittered, just enough to cause the rickety thing to wobble.  “I dunno how the wound healed so fast, but my arm is definitely out of commission. I’m still in a lot of pain.” He locked eyes with Lex. “If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t even be around to feel anything.”

 

“Is that a ‘thank you’, or a ‘fuck you’?” Lex crossed her arms over her chest.

“The former.” He shot her a half-smile.

She matched his grin. “Good. You better.” 

 

“What about beforehand? You mentioned something about that asshole cop while I was patching you up.” She prompted. “Sam, that bastard.”

 

“Ergh, him.” Ethan grimaced. “Yeah, I um…” He chewed on his inner cheek “He caught me spray painting ACAB on his cop car.”

Lex whistled, impressed. “Hot damn. That takes guts. You know how the principal got pissed because someone drew 1312 on the law enforcement class door?”

“Yeah.”

“That was me.”

“Wow.” He leaned back. “Miss Foster, you’ve done a greater service than that asshole Sam ever did.” 

Lex snorted. “And all it took was a Sharpie and some spite.” 

 

“But yeah, Sam caught me spray painting on his shitty cruiser and he was pissed. I tried to book it, but he was too fast.” Ethan ran his hand through his hair. “He started fucking wailing on me, which was weird. I get into arguments with that bastard all the damn time, but he usually saves his fists for when I actually try to book it. Usually he just tried to force me in his fuckin paddy wagon or threaten to call my parents.”

 

When he paused for breath, Lex took the time to read his expression. His eyes were trained firmly on the table, and the hand that was still resting beside his tray had curled into a fist, fingers clenched tight against his palm.

 

“This time, though, he skipped all the smalltalk bullshit and went right in with a killer right hook. I got in a couple of punches and jabs, but the fucker was really aggressive. Then he slammed me against a wall and…” He trailed off, uncertainly. “It uh… gets a little fuzzy here,” he admitted.

“Did he knock your head?”

“Must’ve, but… from what I can remember, he brought out a police dog. Some sorta mutt. Real big. By then I knew ‘oh fuck, I’m in some deep shit’. I tried telling him to chill the fuck out, but it was too late. Sam pointed at me to the dog and went,” He jerked his head sharply and whistled, “and bam. Deadass thought that dog was boutta eat me. Bastard left me for dead, muttering something about how I ruined his fucking car.”

 

Lex covered her mouth. “Christ, that’s horrible.” 

“No shit.” Ethan scoffed.

 

“So why did you try to drag yourself away instead of, I dunno, calling 911 or your cousin or some shit?” As Lex finished her milk, she threw the carton away, pumping her fist when it landed in the nearby trash can perfectly. “Score.” 

Ethan frowned. “I… I don’t know. Maybe to get help from someone? I don’t remember.” He actually sounded sincere. “Bleeding out makes the mind a little hazy, ya know?”

 

Lex went quiet for a moment.

 

“How much… do you remember of me?”

 

He blinked. “What?”

 

“I mean like, me dressing your wound and talking with you and,” she tried to maintain eye contact, “you were sorta uh, affectionate while loopy.” 

A light pink blush decorated Ethan’s cheeks. “Fuck, did I make you uncomfortable? Shit, I’m so sorry!” He blurted, though Lex was quick to shake her head no.  

 

“It’s fine. Really, you didn’t say anything gross.” Lex soothed. “Though you did say some weird shit.” She cracked a smile. "Do remember that you told me you'd call me pretty at school? You were really woozy then." 

Ethan scratched the back of his neck shyly. "I mean, you are so pretty. I wasn't lying.” 

Now it was Lex’s turn to blush. 

“Shut up.” She murmured. “That’s not funny Ethan.”

“I’m not joking, honest.” He rested his chin on his palm. “I may be a bit of an asshole but I don’t lie about this sorta stuff.” 

 

They locked eyes. 

 

“...Right.” Lex resisted the urge to look away– what is this, some fucking Disney channel shitty rom-com moment where the guy and girl sorta flirt and start their ~budding romance~ or whatever? Get over yourself, Lex– and subconsciously tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, a nervous habit of hers. 

 

“A-anyways,” Lex started, hating herself for stuttering, “here. I wasn’t able to completely save the shirt, but I felt bad just throwing it away.” She dug around in her backpack, then handed a stunned Ethan his shirt and jacket. “The right sleeve is totally fucked so maybe cut it off or some shit. Make it into a tube top, I dunno. It’d be very stylish on you.”

 

She squeezed her eyes shut and suppressed a groan the moment the words left her lips. 

God I want to fucking slam my head against a brick wall. What the fuck. Where did that even fucking come from? I wasn’t even fucking thinking about that but my mouth apparently doesn’t know when to shut the fuck up. Goddammit me.

 

“That. That was a joke.” She forced out through gritted teeth. “Totally a joke. I didn’t mean that.” 

If Ethan heard her little fuck up, he didn’t react to it. 

 

“That’s really nice of you, Lex.” He mumbled, running his fingers over his leather jacket. 

“‘s no big deal.” Lex shrugged. I still don’t know why I did all of this because of some random classmate. 

 

“I–” Whatever Ethan was about to say was cut off by the lunch bell ringing.

 

“Shit!” Lex hissed. “Um, hold on.” Quickly she scrambled to grab a pen from the bottom of her backpack, hastily scribbled something on a napkin and shoved it at Ethan. “Here’s my number. In case something else happens and your dumb ass needs me again.” 

 

Totally had no relation with the fact that he was cute, nope. 

 

Ethan gaped, his face turning visibly red. “I-I– um, y-yeah! Uh–” He swallowed heavily and cleared his throat, attempting to collect himself. “Yeah, thanks. Totally. Text you later.” 

 

He sucked at playing it cool. 

 

Lex couldn’t bite back a grin. 

 

“See ya.” She waved. He gave a small wave back, still clutching the napkin to his chest and staring at her with wide eyes and flushed cheeks. Satisfied, she turned around and rushed off to her next class. 

 

Later she learned what a good idea that was. 

 


 

“Ollie, I can’t believe she gave me her number. I can’t believe I got a girl’s number just in general.” 

 

Oliver glanced at his older cousin, who was currently lying on the couch with a pillow over his face. “I can’t believe you haven’t gotten more girls’ numbers before. You’re a real catch, you know that? Though your antisocialness and general distaste for society may have something to do with that.” 

Ethan simply flipped him off.

 

“What’s so special about her anyways? Are you suddenly in love with her after knowing her for what, 24 hours?” Oliver adjusted his glasses. 

“I’m not in love, Jesus Christ. But she literally saved my life.” Ethan lifted the pillow to glare at Oliver. “Plus, she’s cute. Didn’t you see her?”

 

“Not really, it was dark out and I was mostly focusing on, oh I don’t know, my convulsing cousin. ” Oliver huffed. 

“I wasn’t convulsing.” Ethan grumbled.

Yet!” 

Wormwood, Oliver’s toad familiar, who was currently perched atop his head, croaked in agreement. 

 

Oliver shut his laptop. “Listen, Ethan. I’ve been doing some research– on your behalf, by the way, you lazy ass– and from what I can find, it appears that you’re now a lycanthrope, and this shit is serious.” His voice cracked momentarily. “I’ll admit, I’m not very up to date with our school’s social life so I don’t know how many fellow lycanthropes there are–”

“A what?” Ethan stared at him in confusion.

“Lycanthrope,” he repeated, and when he was met with another blank stare, he sighed softly. “A werewolf . It’s the only logical explanation. You said Sam turned into this weird hairy monster thing and bit you, right? Then later that night you turn into a giant wolf yourself. Plus it was the full moon. And no, before you ask, it’s not just a one time thing. It’s not like when you have magic in your blood but decide to ignore it and do something else like Uncle Henry. Like it or not, you’re a werewolf, Ethan.”

 

“A werewolf, huh. Damn.” Ethan held the pillow to his stomach and gazed up at the ceiling. “I didn’t…” He rolled over to look at Oliver again, “...I didn’t attack you, did I, Ollie?” 

 

Oliver hesitated. 

 

Shit.

 

He knew that look. That was the look he got whenever he took a joke too far and Oliver pretended it didn’t bug him. He was definitely being lied to. 

 

“No. You didn’t.”

Ethan’s brow furrowed. “Oliver–”

“I’m fine. No marks.” Oliver held up his arms. 

“...Ollie, c’mon,” Ethan prodded, “you’re sure –”

“You tackled me,” Oliver interrupted, his voice bordering on irritated– though there was a frightened twinge in it that Ethan couldn’t ignore, “fucked up the floor, and then collapsed. It’s no big deal. That’s it.”

 

Again, Wormwood gave a small croak.

 

“...shit.”

 

Oliver shrugged. “It’s over. And it’s not like you meant it– from what I read, anyway, first transformations are… a fucking production, so it’s nothing personal.” His gaze flicked to his fingers. “I’m fine.”

 

From the fact that Oliver didn’t meet his eye when he said it, Ethan knew that wasn’t the whole truth, but… 

Does it matter?

Oliver hadn’t died , or been bitten or scratched, and that was good enough for him. “Glad there weren’t any casualties.”

“Just the floor,” Oliver nodded, “you fell over and shredded it. I managed to get the rug over the worst of it, so Uncle Henry shouldn’t notice, unless he has some sixth sense for that sort of thing.”

 

“He’ll live.” Ethan rolled his eyes. “Where was he last night, anyway?” 

“Beats me.” Oliver opened his laptop again. “Probably down in his bunker or his library. I saw him chugging that weird energy drink he loves so much earlier than morning, but I haven’t seen him since.” 

Ethan grimaced. “Ugh, I tried taking a sip of that drink once. It was fucking gross. Made me feel really sick, actually. Maybe it’s old person juice, or one of those freaky ultra-healthy drinks Instagram gurus pedal like crazy. Either or.” 

 

“He is weirdly fit for an old man.” Oliver agreed. 

“You think he’s got an Instagram?”

“I know he has a tiktok.”

“Oh god, kill me.” 

“At least he doesn’t do any weird challenges. Though there was this one thing–”

 

ANYWAYS.” Ethan cut him off. God, his tiktok is the last thing I want to be thinking about right now. “Do you think I should text Lex? How many hours until you can text someone? It’s been like 3 hours. Is that too soon for girls? Or too long?”

Oliver threw his hands up. “You think I know the inner workings of a teenage girl? I don’t know! I don’t know the girl and also I’m sorta in a relationship with a man right now, so female romance is generally one of the last things on my mind.” Wormwood ribbited and hopped down from Oliver’s head to his shoulder. “I’d say ask Uncle, but he’s even gayer than I am and hasn’t been in a relationship for like, literal decades. He’d probably give even worse advice than I would.” 

 

 “Fine, fine. Jeez. Fuck me for asking a friendly question, damn.” Ethan muttered. He pulled out his phone and after a moment’s hesitation, typed in Lex’s number.

 

Ethan (4:31): hey this is ethan 

 

1 minute.

2 minutes.

5 minutes. 

No response. 

 

Chill out Ethan. Stop being so nervous. She’s probably just busy. 

 

Ethan (4:36): thx for last night

Ethan (4:38): probly wouldve died or some shit

Ethan (4:38): so. thanks for making sure i didnt :)

 

Still nothing. 

 

Wait, did I type in the wrong number? Fuck, maybe that 5 was a 2–

 

A soft buzz interrupted his thoughts.

 

Unknown number (4:42): yeah no problem, tho lets not make that a regular thing k?

 

Oh, thank God. 

 

“Based on your face and the way your breath hitched, I’m guessing she texted you back.” said Oliver. Ethan ignored him. 

 

Ethan (4:45): but what if i want to see u again?

 

Immediately he cringed at himself. Fuck, that sounded like really bad flirting. 

 

Lex (4:48): There’s always lunch. And don’t you have shop class w/ me on tuesdays and thursdays? 

Ethan (4:48): tru 

Ethan (4:49): still. i wanna thnk u irl 

 

He hesitated.

 

Ethan (4:51): other than working @ the garage im usuly free 

Ethan (4:52): so we should hang

Ethan (4:52): out

Ethan (4:52): not hang w a noose

Ethan (4:52): fuck 

 

Lex didn’t reply, and for a moment Ethan thought he blew it.

 

Lex (4:54): lmaoo

Lex (4:54): yea sure but I work too 

Ethan (4:55): morning shifts right?

Lex (4:56): ...how did you know that

Ethan (4:56): u said smthn about it before 

Lex (4:57): I can't believe you remembered lol. like you were barely conscious 

Ethan (4:57): ofc. i listen to u :) 

 

Ethan groaned and threw the pillow back over his face. “Ugh.”

 

“It’s been,” Oliver glanced at the nearby clock, “21 minutes, and you’ve already fucked it up? Wow. You lasted longer than I expected.”

 

Wormwood croaked softly, then jumped off Oliver’s shoulder, hopped across the couch, and onto Ethan’s pillow.

“Ollie, get your stinky ass toad off of me.” Ethan complained.

“He’s not even touching you. And he’s not stinky.”

“No, but he’s on my pillow, which is like, basically a part of me now.” 

“Fine.” Oliver sighed. With a snap of his fingers, Wormwood was suddenly encased in a bright light, and gently floated over to rest at Oliver’s side. “Better?”

“Much.”  

 

Ethan’s phone buzzed. 

 

Lex (5:00): That’s more than like 90% of ppl in my life 

Lex (5:00): Then again 90% of the ppl in my life are fucking assholes

Ethan (5:01): am i in that 90%?

Lex (5:03): I don’t know. I basically just met you yesterday 

Lex (5:04) So I dunno if youre a fucking asshole or not

Ethan (5:05): if we hang out more u can find out for urself 

Lex (5:06): Are you flirting w me Green? lol

 

He froze. 

 

Shit. 

Was I?

Uh, a little bit. Not seriously. 

Fuck think of something quick.

 

Ethan (5:07): asdfsfgfgasdf no

Lex (5:08): ok good lol 

Lex (5:09): I would be down w/hanging out tho

Ethan (5:09): fuck yeah

 

Ethan exhaled. The fact that she’s giving me the time of day after I freaked out on her is a fucking miracle. 

 

“Are you even planning on doing any research on the condition that now affects your entire life, or are you going to sit there grinning like an idiot?” Oliver’s tinny voice rudely ripped him from his musings. 

 

Prick. 

 

Ethan scoffed. “Yeah, yeah, fine.” Oliver narrowed his eyes at him. “Alright, damn! I’ll quit it. Christ man, could you chill out?” He huffed and pulled up his browser. “Um ok, werewolf…” He looked Oliver. “Wait, what am I supposed to look up again?”

Oliver gave a groan. “Anything! You have a whole internet at your disposal, ready to answer any question your heart desires.” Waving his hand, he pushed up his glasses and turned his attention to Ethan. “What do you at least know about werewolves right now?”

 

For a moment, there was silence. 

 

“Absolutely jack shit.”

 

“Okay.” Oliver took off his glasses to squeeze the bridge of his nose. “This’ll take a while.”

 


 

“...What a dork.” 

 

Lex bit back a grin. This Ethan kid was more interesting than she expected. Funny, too. She had a general distaste for… basically everyone at school. But from what she had seen so far, maybe Ethan wasn’t in the ninety percent. 

 

So far.

 

She shut off her phone and laid it on her stomach, gazing at her ceiling. 

 

Saturday at four, huh?

 

When’s the last time I went out by myself that wasn’t to some shitty party or drug deal? 

Hell, when’s the last time I went out with a friend? It’s been a hot minute, that’s for damn sure.

 

Still.

I can’t let my guard down that easily. 

 

Me and Ethan aren’t friends. 

...Yet. Hopefully.

 

“Lex?”

 

Lex jolted slightly and lifted her head. “Hannah? That you?

 

God, please be Hannah.

 

Even though Lex knew– she knew the pair of them were fairly safe where they were– she couldn’t stop a pang or absolute fear from twisting in her chest at the sound of footsteps coming down the hall no matter how light they were.

She had memories of shit like that– too many fucking memories.

And that’s all they are.

Memories.

 

Fuck, she needed to get a grip. Sitting upright, drawing her legs up toward herself, Lex managed a small smile when Hannah poked her head into the room.

 

“Hey, Split,” she greeted, earning a small, albeit, nervous tinged smile from her younger sister. “Everything ok?”

“No,” she responded, simply. 

 

Lex held back a sigh. “C’mere.” She patted the space next to her. Hannah sat down, still staring at the ground and clearly anxious. “What’s wrong Banana?” 

 

“The moon took him.”

 

“What?”

 

Hannah turned to Lex, her eyes shining yet face grim. “The moon took him. Turned him. Wronged a right. Two sides, not one.” 

 

What in the goddamn hell is she saying?

 

“‘Him’? Hannah, who are you talking about?” Lex asked, struggling to keep her voice steady. 

Hannah shrugged, tugging at her braids. “A friend.”  

Lex’s brow furrowed. “ Your friend, or mine?”

She shrugged again and tugged harder. One hair tie fell to the ground, unraveling her now wavy hair from her braid. Her fingers twined with the loose stands, pulling lightly at them where she sat. 

“Did…” Lex took a deep breath, “did Webby tell you that?”

Hannah nodded.

 

It wasn’t unusual for Webby to say weird shit, but for some reason, this particular omen sent a chill down Lex’s spine. 

 

Was it a full moon last night?

She couldn’t recall, but just the thought of it was enough to make her stomach twist into a knot. 

 

“Okay.” Lex picked up the hair tie. “You dropped this. Do you want me to braid your hair, or would you rather have your bubble?”

 

Sometimes when Hannah was upset, she would seek Lex out for comfort and hugs. Other times, she had her own personal bubble, and didn’t want to be touched. In times like these, it was important for Lex to ask, otherwise she ran the risk of making her even more upset.

 

“Braid.” Hannah simply replied.

“Right.” Braiding Hannah’s hair was almost as soothing to Lex as it was to Hannah. Over, under, over, under – it was a small moment of serenity in their shitty life. 

 

“Do you wanna have some dinner after this?” It was still fairly early, but dinner was usually a good way of calming her down. “I think there’s still some squirrel leftover in the fridge.”

Hannah hummed in confirmation, closing her eyes and swinging her legs back and forth as Lex finished her braid.

 

At least she seems a bit calmer now. Good. 

 

“There we go.” Lex kissed her head softly, then took her hand and helped her off the bed. “You feeling better now?” 

“Mmhmm.”

“One to ten?”

Hannah tilted her head, thinking. “Four,” she settled with. 

“Good. Better than a ten, yeah?” Lex squeezed her hand gently. Hannah nodded again. 

 

As the sisters drained the blood from some poor old dead squirrel, Lex’s mind couldn’t help but wander back to Ethan. 

Her dumbass classmate who nearly died in her arms, only to bounce back the next day with just a stupid shoulder wrap and lame arm hinting at what happened the previous night. That stupid boy who sucked at making up excuses and was really bad at flirting– or if he wasn’t flirting, he was apparently fucking oblivious to what the shit he said sounded like. 

 

But he made her laugh, and in her current life situation, that meant a lot. 

 

Hatchetfield Park, tomorrow at four. 

 

It wasn’t a date – even if the boy was cute, she wasn’t looking for a relationship or a fling right now– yet she was still excited all the same.

 

Tomorrow. Tomorrow at four. 

 

The words circled through her head almost warmly, and although there wasn’t much blood in her body, her cheeks pinkened in a bit of a blush. 

 

Which was stupid. 

 

Because it wasn’t a date. It was just a hangout session, something to get her out of the house for a few hours at best and less at worst– was it bad that she was hoping it wasn’t an “at worst” scenario? 

 

Ethan had seemed like a nice enough guy. It had only been less than a full 24 hours since she’d met him, and although the fact that he’d lied to her– no matter how poorly– didn’t exactly sit well with her… she could understand why he wouldn’t want to admit to some girl he barely knew that he’d been cracked out of his fucking mind. 

She probably would’ve done the same thing. 

 

Tomorrow at four. 

 

A smile settled on her face. 

 

God. What the fuck was that about? Was she that starved for a fucking friend or some shit like that? That was pathetic. Here she was, 18, friendless, and losing her goddamn mind because some cute guy wanted to hang out with her– and didn’t seem to be a complete asshole. 

...Jesus, her standards for friendship were low. 

 

Whatever. Maybe he’ll fuck up or something, and then this’ll all have been for no reason. 

 

It was possible. Biting down a little harder on what was left of the unfortunate squirrel she’d managed to snag, Lex tried her damndest to ignore the feeling of warmth settling over her. 

 

If he was a complete prick, there was a high chance she’d find out sooner rather than later.

 

Specifically, tomorrow at four. 

Chapter Text

To both their surprises, Lex and Ethan got along pretty goddamn great. Their first hangout at Hatchetfield park led to a second hangout, then a third, then a fourth, and so on. Even Hannah noticed her sister seemed significantly more happy in the month following her meeting with Ethan. 

 

Soon Ethan and Lex ate lunch together every day, both of them very much enjoying each other’s company, even if their conversations were sometimes rather odd. 

Well. More than sometimes. Though in Ethan’s defense, there wasn’t anything all that normal to talk about, not when it came to Hatchetfield. As much as the town was a complete dead-end in terms of… anything, boring it was not. 

 

“So, what, you just can’t swim?” Ethan asked, leaning forward a little in his chair, at which Lex shook her head. 

“Uh, no – I sure as shit can –”

“Then why not swim at Bearton?”

At the look of complete and utter disgust that flashed across her face, Ethan bit back a snicker, instead taking a bite out of one of the lukewarm fries still left on his lunch tray. It was gross– fuckin thing felt like styrofoam in his mouth, but hey, it was totally worth it to see Lex give a soft huff and drag her fingers through her hair. 

“God, please don’t tell me you’ve actually swam in that,” she groaned, “dude, how the fuck are you still alive?” 

Ethan swallowed. “Why? What’s wrong with Bearton?” 

“Uh, have you seen the water? Shit’s yellow as hell– pretty sure like, sixty percent of it’s just fish piss.” Lex started, slurping from her milk carton. “There aren’t even that many fish in the pond, but there’s gotta be some reason its lowkey yellow; and I’m betting on fish pee. The second option is nuclear waste–”

 

“Well looky here, seems little miss bloodsucker got a new friend.” A voice cut her off. 

 

In an instant, the joking expression Lex had worn completely vanished. Her hackles raised. Her pale features drew back in what looked like it could’ve been a snarl, and before Ethan could even process what had even happened, she spoke. 

 

“Fuck off, Jonathan.” 

 

Who?

 

It had to be someone she knew, what, based on her tone of voice and the fact that her words blended together in a low hiss of noise. Someone she knew and despised.  

 

Automatically, Ethan’s hands curled into fists where they were braced on the lunch table, his gaze flicking from Lex to the tall, stringy-haired asshole who was in the act of sauntering over to where they sat. He wasn’t normally one to judge based on appearance, but from how Lex was acting and the fact that this douchebag was wearing a collared, button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows, he could easily connect a couple of dots. 

Rich-Bitch-Asshole-Kid– or Jonathan or whatever– was a douchebag. 

 

Still glaring daggers at him, Lex narrowed her eyes a touch. “Don’t you have anything better to do than bother people who are just trying to have a nice lunch?”

Jonathan gave a laugh in response. “As if that ‘nice lunch’ is even benefitting you at all”, he jeered, “drain any squirrels lately, biter?” 

 

Biter?

Ethan’s brows drew together. 

That’s not a human curse, that’s for–

 

He was broken out of his thoughts by Lex hitting her hands on the edge of the table and baring her teeth– Jesus, are her canines just that fucking pronounced– at Jonathan. “Yeah, and there's a giant ugly as fuck squirrel standing right in front of me that I'm boutta drain if you don't fuck right off. Now .”

In his chest, Ethan could feel his pulse quickening slightly. A tightness wound across his shoulders as Jonathan leaned down, putting his face inches from Lex. 

“You wouldn’t dare .”

“Try me.” Lex returned without a scrap of hesitation. 

Jonathan opened his mouth, but Lex stopped him short, slamming a fist against their table with a sharp crack. “I don’t give a fuck about your family name or how much money you have. Having a rich dad ain’t gonna help you when you’re found dead in a ditch without a single drop of blood left in you.” 

“Is that a threat?”

“Perhaps.”

 

Silence fell. 

 

It took every ounce of self-control Ethan had to his name and then some to keep from snapping. Under his jacket, his shoulders tensed. A muscle in his jaw twitched. His nails felt a little sharper than they had a few seconds ago, and when he inhaled, the scent of the cafeteria was stronger. Harsher. Clearer. 

Fuck.

 

Shaking his head in an attempt to clear it, Ethan bit down on his cheek as Jonathan finally seemed to find his words. 

“You wouldn’t.”

“I dunno, would I?” 

“I don’t believe you. You wouldn’t attack me.”

“Are you really willing to take that risk?” Lex made a point of running her tongue over her fangs– 

 

Wait, fangs?  

 

“If you’re smart– well, you’re not, but that’s besides the point– I’d rethink that decision.”

“You… you disgust me.” Jonathan spat out. “Dame shame they don’t sell stakes anymore, or I’d–”

 

Oh, that was fucking it.  

 

“Fucking knock it off!” Ethan snapped, words coming out in something closer to a growl than human speech– not that he cared. “What’s your damage, man?” 

It was like Jonathan had forgotten he was there. Blindsided, the other teen pulled away from Lex, opening and closing his mouth a few times. 

Sometimes, it paid to have a rep. Lips curling back in a snarl, Ethan drew up his shoulders and leaned across the table toward him. “The fuck’s your problem? Seriously– leave her the hell alone, or I swear, I’ll–

“What’s your damage?” He pointed a finger in Ethan’s face. “Are you the same filth as her?”

Ethan’s nose wrinkled. “What?”

“Are you a drain too?” Jonathan repeated, changing the wording just enough to make Lex flinch back beside him. 

 

Something in him snapped. 

 

“No,” Ethan hissed, “I’m not– and shut the fuck up, swear to god, if you call her that one more fucking time–”

“You’ll what? What’re you going to do to me, huh, Greased Lightning?” Jonathan put his hands on his hips.

 

Ethan’s nostrils flared. “I’ll–” he started, moving to stand– pushing his chair back on the ground with a shrill squeal– fuck that, he was gonna show that asshole what the hell he’d do–

 

Lex grabbed his arm. 

 

Like that, he froze.

 

“Ethan, stop.” She said quietly. “It’s not worth it.”

 

What the fuck? Why is she just letting this slide? 

 

Brows scrunching together, Ethan glanced down at her where she sat almost incredulously, though when he met her eyes… 

 

No.

 

..with an icy scowl at Jonathan, he sat back down and forced himself to exhale slowly. Wasn’t that supposed to help with anger or some shit like that?

 

“Thanks for calling off your attack dog,” Jonathan purred out.

 

The colour in Ethan’s face drained. 

No. He couldn’t know– that wasn’t fair, that wasn’t how it was supposed to–

 

“Seriously, didn’t think a drain could be civil–” 

 

A shot of Jonathan’s name from across the cafeteria stopped him mid-sentence and caused him to look in its direction, halfway turning to walk away.

 

Of course, he didn’t walk away before leaving the two of them with a parting gift. 

 

Fucker. 

 

Leaning back over Ethan and Lex’s table, Jonathan shot them both a sneer. “This,” he started, emphasising the word heavily with a condemning point Lex’s way, “isn’t over.”

With that, he spat in Lex’s fries– and after a moment, Ethan’s for good measure– before storming off without another word, leaving the pair of them stock still for a moment. 

 

“Okay…” Ethan started, slowly, “who in the fresh hell was that? And why’d he call you all those… vampire slurs?” 

 

Lex didn’t meet his eyes.

 

It didn’t look like she could. Her gaze was trained firmly on the glob of spit clinging to her fries, and as she pushed the tray away from herself and shakily inhaled, her hands trembled. 

 

“...‘Cause they’re true.” 

Ethan’s throat went dry. “Are you serious?” 

A nod. 

 

“Yeah. You gonna reject me, too?” Her voice came out slightly strangled and tight, almost as if she was trying not to cry. “Because that’s fine, j-just get it over with and leav–”

“No no no! That’s not it at all!” Moving automatically, he carefully wrapped his fingers around her arm and turned in his seat, lowering his head to her level. “Lex, hey, look at me.”

When she did, it didn’t look like she wanted to. Fuck, she was about to cry. Although her lips were pressed together in a straight line, Ethan could hear a slight quiver in her breathing, and when she met his eyes, her own were damp. 

“...what?” 

His grip on her arm tightened slightly– not to hold her in place, no, but because he could feel her shaking under his touch. “It’s fine that you’re a vampire, okay? I dunno who the hell told you that it wasn’t, but get that outta your head.” 

 

Lex’s gaze trailed down to where his hand rested on her forearm. For a moment, he thought she’d pull away. 

She didn’t. 

 

“...really?” She croaked, the disbelief in her tone enough to make Ethan’s heart clench. 

“Really,” he echoed, “I don’t mind at all. I mean, yeah, I’m a little surprised or whatever since I thought you were human, but… that doesn’t change anything.” He consoled. “I mean, you’re still you, yeah? He ran a soothing thumb over her forearm. 

She sniffled. The trembling worsened. 

 

Fuck , did I say something wrong? 

He must’ve. 

Shit, now he’d gone and fucked up, and she was going to–

 

“Y-Yeah,” she confirmed, breaking him out of his thoughts, “I… I still…” When she trailed off, he was quick to butt right back in.

“Then who cares? I mean, fuck, you’re the only actual friend I’ve had since fuck knows when– do you really think I’d just… what, up and leave you because you have fangs? Because that’s such bullshit, and I’m so sorry if someone else did– seriously, that’s fucking bullshit.” 

 

Another small spell of silence lapsed between them, broken by another shuddering, wet sounding inhale from Lex. “...you’re really not mad? Y-You’re not–”

He squeezed her wrist comfortingly. “Not at all.” 

 

I’m just afraid you won’t feel the same about me. 

 

When her lips curled up into a weak smile, he knew he’d managed to do something right. 

Fuck yeah.

“Thanks, Ethan. That means a lot.” 

“About that–” 

 

Before he could get the rest of his sentence out– hell, before he even knew what he was saying – he was interrupted by the shrill sound of the school’s fire alarm blaring through the cafeteria at a volume that made him clap his hands over his ears and yelp. 

“–Jesus fucking christ!” He hissed, standing alongside Lex. 

 

“Everyone out to the parking lot! This is not a drill!” The intercom blared as most of the kids began to walk toward the doors, mumbling to each other on their way, though Lex and Ethan stayed put. 

 

“...you wanna skip?” Ethan suggested.

Lex smirked. “Fuck yeah.”

 


 

“So why’d you stick up for me back in the caf?” Lex asked, glancing at Ethan, who was currently zooming fifteen miles over the speed limit down the road towards Bearton Fish Piss Lake. “I can handle myself, ya know.”

“I know. It’s not that I was afraid you weren’t able to fend for yourself or anything like that. It’s just… I don’t like seeing you treated that way. Hell, I don’t like seeing anyone like that.” He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. “So I had to say something. Plus that guy seemed like a Grade A asshole.” 

“You were like, ready to straight-up fight that guy though.” Lex pointed out.  

“And?”

“That seems a little…” Crossing her arms and looking down at her shoes, Lex shifted her weight beside him. “I dunno, extreme, doesn’t it?”

Ethan hummed. “Maybe. But I don’t take people fucking with the people I care about lightly.” 

“Really?”

“Yep,” he agreed, pausing at a stop sign with a sharp squeal of the jalopy's rusted brakes. 

He couldn’t help but wince at the sound. Fuck. It was just another thing he’d never really bothered to fix, but with his wolf senses or whatever the hell they were, it was damn near impossible not to react to the noise.

Easing on the gas as he rounded a corner, almost forgetting to flick on the blinker– just another fucking sound I can’t stand – Ethan gave a small shrug before continuing. 

 

“One time some assholes called my cousin a homophobic slur, so I knocked their fuckin’ teeth out and put ‘em in the hospital. Now they don’t dare even look at him.” 

Lex arched a brow. “Damn. Were you gonna knock out Jonathan’s teeth too?”

 

...yes.

Definitely. 

 

“Mm, thinking about it,” he admitted with a lazy grin. “Is that too far?”

Lex made a so-so motion with one hand. “I think a throat punch would be better, but that’s just personal preference.” She responded with a matching grin.

“I’ll take that into consideration next time I see him.” Ethan said with a wink.

 

That got a laugh out of her, and as loud as it was, it… wasn’t a sound that made his head hurt. Quite the opposite, actually. 

“Thanks, E, but I don’t need a white knight to save me.” 

He shook his head. “Hey, never said you do. I’m not a fucking white knight, and no offense, but you’re not a helpless princess either.” 

Lex chuckled. “True.”

 

They were silent for the rest of the drive, though not uncomfortably so, the only noise being Ethan’s occasional tapping on the wheel and Lex picking at the hangnails on her cuticles. 

 

Ethan tried to stop his leg from jiggling– it wouldn’t exactly increase his driving performance– but damn it was hard, especially after everything that had just happened. He just found out his fucking best friend was a goddamn vampire, and it’s not like he had much time to process that. 

He wasn’t lying when he said all that stuff in the cafeteria. He truly did accept her, but… he wished he could have found out another way, rather than some asshole outing her because he had some rage-boner for her for a reason she couldn’t even fucking control. 

Lex probably thought the same thing.

 

When her name flitted through his mind, Ethan stole a glance at her. 

She looked calm. Though she was picking at her fingers absently as she looked out the window, the rest of her body wasn’t all that tense as far as he could see– not that the baggy sweater she was wearing really did anything to confirm or deny the thought. 

For being outed like that, she seemed fine.

Or maybe she was unhappy, but was bottling it up and putting on a brave face.

Most likely the latter. 

 

“We’re here.” Ethan announced as his old jalopy drew up to the uneven banks of Bearton Lake. “...Now what?”

“I could go for a smoke. Shit’s got me stressed.” Lex admitted. “Do you have any cigarettes?”

 

Without a word, Ethan drew a pack from the compartment on the inside of the car door and passed it her way with a grin– a grin that she returned as she took it from him.

“Hell fuckin’ yeah,” she enthused, drawing a pair of cigarettes from the box before passing the package back to him, which he quickly tucked back in the car door.

 

“You got a light?” He asked as he moved his hands back to rest on the bottom of the steering wheel. “Mine’s a bit faulty.” 

“A bit?” Lex echoed with a raise of a brow.

“...okay, a lot faulty,” he corrected, “I shut it in the jalopy’s door– sue me.”

Lex gave a huff of laughter at that. “I don’t think you could afford me suing you,” she joked, “what, if you can’t get a lighter.” One of her hands dug into her pocket momentarily, and when she pulled it back out, she had a purple lighter between her fingers.

“...promise not to fuck up this one?” 

 

Already taking it, he shot her a grin. “Well, now I might have to,” he teased, idly flicking it and allowing a small flame to spark to life– the small pool of warmth it generated causing the ends of his fingers to heat up slightly, though before he lit his cig…

Ugh.

As much as driving back to Uncle Henry’s with that post-smoke-sesh smell still circling through the air was appealing… 

 

“Maybe we should go outside to smoke. Don’t wanna stink up the car too bad, right?” 

 

She snorted in response. “Like it doesn’t stink already,” she grumbled out, popping open her door at the same time he did.

“Hey! You think I wanna waste my money on a fucking car air freshener?”

“Uh, yeah , unless you like smelling like fish piss after you come out here to swim.”

“Maybe I do.”

 

There was a beat of silence between them. Over the roof of the car, their eyes met– Ethan’s expression one of steely determination, Lex’s one closer to disappointed disbelief.

 

His cracked first.

Hers followed suit soon after. Laughing, she shook her head and pushed her hair out of her face as Ethan flicked the lighter yet again.

 

“Try not to start a forest fire,” she advised.

Ethan rolled his eyes. “Very funny.” Putting the cigarette between his teeth, he brought the flame up to the unlit end before passing it Lex’s way and watching her do the same in silence— not an awkward thing, no. One that was… almost comfortable.

 

“By the way, regarding that shit I said back there to Jonathan…” Lex took a long drag. “I was just joking,” she explained around a few small wisps of smoke that trailed past her lips, “I would never do that, not even to him.” 

“I figured as much.” With a soft grunt, Ethan hopped up on the hood of his car, and patted the spot next to him. “You don’t seem like the type to drain humans like some shitty hyperactive kid with a juice box.”

A plume of smoke shot from her mouth when she laughed. “Never heard that comparison before. But when you put it like that, I guess humans sorta are like juice boxes. The skin is like the packaging and the juice is the blood.” She sat down next to Ethan, who nodded along.

“Morbid,” he inputted after another inhale filled his lungs with a familiar smoke.

Beside him, Lex shrugged. “I was never much of a juice box kid, though.” 

 

“Same.” Ethan swung his legs off the edge of the hood and closed his eyes. “Does that bastard usually bother you?”

“He has a couple times,” Lex admitted, softly. “I’m not the only one though– motherfucker supposedly has gone after other non-humans. Vampires, werewolves, hell, even witches. It’s annoying as fuck, but despite people reporting him, the school does jack shit.”

“Yikes,” Ethan responded, opening one eye a crack in time to see her taking another puff from her cigarette.

 “Yeah, it’s some shit about his parents sponsoring the school or something? So he walks around like he fucking owns the place, spitting both slurs and literally gobs of saliva, as you saw. Sorry about that.”

 

“It’s fine. I wasn’t hungry anyways.” Ethan waved her off. “Again Lex, the offer to punch his throat in still stands.”

It’d be satisfying for sure.

It probably wasn’t a good thing to want to do or anything, but in his defense, Jonathan was a complete fucking douchebag. 

It must’ve shown on his face. 

Lex shot him a smirk. “I’ll think about it,” she echoed his earlier words, “if I need help, I’ll make sure to hit you up.” 

 

Ethan opened his eyes and gazed at Lex. “Do vampires have super strength?” 

Although the question seemingly came out of nowhere, Ethan was quick to adjust how he was sitting and cock his head lightly, 

“Because if ya do, you probably wouldn’t need any help. To be honest, I don’t know much about vampires, or even non-humans in general.” 

Except for werewolves. Ish.

 

Lex shook her head and hummed. “Not super strength,” she corrected, “I guess a bit stronger than regular humans, but I can’t lift boulders or some shit.”

Raising one hand, Lex tapped her index finger against the hood of his car, keeping her cig clamped firmly between her fangs.

“I don’t really get anything out of eating school food yet I eat it anyways. And I have basically no body heat.” She placed her hand on her cheek and frowned. “Not much of an upgrade, that’s for damn sure.” 

 

“Man, that’s… that um…” Ethan trailed off, trying to figure out what to say to not be offensive, though Lex gave a soft sigh and met his eyes.

“It sucks,” she finished, flatly. “It’s ok. You can say it.” She blew out one last cloud of smoke and dropped the spent cigarette on the ground. Ethan followed suit. 

 

“It’s fucking cold out.” Lex exhaled out her nose, watching a cloud of water vapour unfurl from her nostrils out into the chilly air before disappearing. “It’s not even winter and I can see my breath.” 

“Think that’s smoke, Lex,” Ethan pointed out, at which Lex rolled her eyes.

“I just butted out, dude, it’s not. I might be basically a living corpse, but I still have enough body heat to tell when it’s fucking cold out- and it’s fucking cold out.” 

“Hatchetfield’s never been the warmest place. Plus there’s a cold front coming up.” Ethan shrugged.

“How the fuck do you know that?”

“Nerdy little cousin.”

Lex gave a soft hum of acknowledgment.

 

Shifting his weight against the hood of the car, Ethan glanced out at the piss-tainted waters of Bearton Lake. “I used to not be the biggest fan of the cold, but now I don’t mind it much.” 

When he adjusted his weight a second time, the hood gave a small creak. “It’s a new thing, though.”

Partially because I barely feel it anymore. Thanks, wolf powers or whatever.

 

“I’m the opposite. For a while, I really liked snow and drinking hot drinks and bundling up so you’re really warm and all that shit.” Lex looked down at her hands. “Can’t really do that anymore. At least not that last one.” 

There was an almost sad lilt in her voice when she spoke, enough to make Ethan’s brows draw together as he regarded her.

 

“You’re... really always cold?” He asked with a slight frown. “All the time, no matter the weather?”

“Every goddamn second of every goddamn day,” Lex confirmed through a huff. “Fuckin’ sucks.” 

 

“I bet.” A lightbulb went off in Ethan’s head. “Wait, hold on.” 

“What are you–” Lex stared at him in confusion as Ethan unzipped and pulled off his jacket, then plopped it onto her shoulders.

Sitting back in place, he gave a soft smile in return to Lex’s confusion. “There,” he finished, “It’s not super duper thick, but it should at least protect a little bit from the cold.”

 

“Thanks E, but this won’t do anything.” Lex smiled, a real, genuine smile that made her eyes crinkle. Ethan’s heart fluttered. “I appreciate the gesture. That was really sweet of you.”

“Oh, right. Well, um, you can still keep it.” He scratched the back of his neck shyly. Also, you look super fucking cute in it.

 

“You sure? You’re wearing short sleeves.” Lex said, yet slipped the jacket on anyways. It was too big for her. The sleeves bunched at the elbows, and as she adjusted it, Ethan could see that her hands would barely be visible if she straightened herself out and let the material fall slack.

 

For some damn reason, he didn’t feel cold.

Especially not his face.

 

“Really, I don’t mind. ‘sides, I’m always warm. Here, feel.” He offered up his arm. Lex gingerly touched his bicep (despite him actually holding out his forearm, though neither minded) and exhaled. 

“Damn.” She breathed. “You are ho– warm. You’re uh, very warm. We’re like, complete opposites.”

 

Opposites attract. 

 

Ethan bit back the joke (or was it a joke?) and swallowed. “Y-yeah. Total opposites.” He stammered instead. In more ways than you’d think. 

 

A harsh gust of bitter cold wind cut through the couple like a sharp knife. 

 

“The jacket doing anything?” Ethan glanced at Lex, who was trying her damn best not to shiver too obviously. 

Lex gave him a tight smile. “Better than nothing, right?”

 

“Right.” For a hot second Ethan considered maybe rubbing Lex’s arms to help keep her warm, which was super fucking weird, considering the fact that they barely knew each other— not that it’d be any less weird if they did know each other, come to think.

 

Here, lemme jack off your arms because you look cold.

Really not the best sounding sentence. 

 

He wouldn’t mind getting to know her better, though.

 

Like the fucking dumbass he was, Ethan murmured out loud: “I wish I could warm all of you up.”

 

Lex raised her eyebrows and did a double-take. “Oh?”  She bit back a grin. “And how are you planning on doing that?” 

 

….Wait.

That sounded like I was hitting on her, didn’t it?

Shit.

Shit, fix it, Green, don’t make this weird. 

 

“I-I… not in that way!” He corrected, somewhat desperately, “I didn’t mean it like that. I just— I just meant that it sucks when you’re cold, and I wish I could find a way to make you not cold and…” Ethan felt his cheeks burning. “...I’m gonna shut up now.”

 

Lex threw her head back and laughed. “I getcha. I’m just teasing.” She elbowed him lightly in the side. “Also, I heard setting someone on fire and burning them at the stake is fairly effective at warming ‘em up.”

“Lex no.”

“Lex YES.” 

 

There was a silent beat, then they both burst into giggles. 

 

“I thought getting burned at the stake is a witch thing.” Ethan rested his chin on his palm. “Not vampires.” 

“Not anymore, bitch. It’s a new century! Time to switch things up. From now on, vampires are the ones getting burned and witches get a stake through the heart.” Lex joked. 

“Sounds fair to me.” Ethan joked back. 

 

“Speaking of vampires actually…” His smile faded. Time to get serious. 

 

“When we first met, you went off on a rant about how you thought non-humans sucked and how humans had it better. You said ‘I would never want to be non-human’. But… you’re a vampire. You are non-human.” He began. Thunder rumbled loudly overhead, but he ignored it. “So was that just... self hatred? Or what was it?”

Lex looked down. “Yeah. It was more self hatred. I’ve got a… complicated relationship with that shit, especially vampires.” 

 

“Oh. Ok.” 

 

They were silent for a bit. 

 

“Lex,” Ethan swallowed hard. Here goes nothing. He could feel his heart rate rising again, and as he went to inhale, bits and pieces of sentences crashed through his head at fucking warp speed, and they only grew choppier when Lex met his eyes. “Do you actually hate–”

 

FWOOM. 

 

His words were cut off by a sudden sheet of heavy rain that immediately drenched both of them, coupled with a deafening boom of thunder.

 

“Shit!” Lex cursed. “What the fuck?!”

“Goddammit– get in the car!” Ethan had to shout to be heard over the rush of water. 

 

Both hopped off the car hood and scrambled to get inside, diving into the front seats and slamming the doors shut. 

 

“What the hell was that?” Lex ran her fingers through her wet hair.

“Rain, I think.” Ethan replied, resisting the strong urge to shake off the water like a dog. Or a wolf. Lex probably wouldn’t appreciate that, though.

Lex rolled her eyes. “No shit Sherlock. But it was clear like twenty minutes ago; where the fuck did this rain come from?”

“Uh, the sky.” 

From the way she looked at him alone, it was a miracle he wasn’t vaporized instantaneously.

 

“Sorry, sorry.” He held his hands up in defense. “It was a joke.”

“A shitty one at that.” Lex scoffed. 

Ethan shrugged. “That’s my specialty.” His lips curled up in a teasing smirk. “And I think you actually like it.”

“Uh-huh, sure. Keep dreaming, E.” Despite attempting to remain sardonic, the corners of her mouth threatened to tug upwards in a matching grin. 

 

Maybe it was his werewolf senses kicking in, but the longer he stared at Lex, the more little details he noticed, like how her hair curled up a bit at the ends when wet, or the tiny droplets of water still clinging to the tips of her eyelashes, or that her white shirt–

 

Ethan froze.

 

Oh no.

Uh.

Shit.

Look away, Ethan. Fucking look away. Don’t be a goddamn perv. 

 

Ethan averted his eyes, trying to suppress an embarrassed grimace as his face burned hot like a raging fire. “I, um, think there’s a towel in the back. Lemme just– lemme just find it.” He sputtered, his voice about an octave higher than usual. 

“And also…” He mumbled, “you should probably zip up your jacket.”

 

“Wha– oh fuck.” Lex looked down to find her white shirt completely soaked through, revealing her beige bra under it. She crossed her arms over her chest, what little blood she naturally had making her face turn red. 

 

“‘m sorry.” Ethan muttered as he rummaged around in his backseat. “I won’t turn around till you’re done, promise.”

“...Thanks.” Lex said slowly. Her slightly trembling fingers fumbled with the zipper for a moment before zipping the jacket up fully and let out a shaky breath. “Okay. I’m done.”

“Can I turn around? I found the towel.” 

“Yeah, sure.” 

 

Ethan sat back in his driver’s seat, trying his goddamn best not to stare at Lex.

She looked damn good in his jacket. Sure, it was too big for her, but for some reason, it made the warmth on his face stick around to see her looking so small. 

 

Ethan cleared his throat. “You uh, you can have it. Ladies first n’ all.”

 

The towel was old and slightly ragged, but it was still clean enough to do the job. Lex gratefully accepted it and began to dry off her wet hair and face. “Thanks, Ethan.” 

 

“No problem.” A drop of water dripped from a stray loose curl, and he wrinkled his nose. “Ugh, goddammit.”

Lex turned to him. “What?”

“The water fucked up my hair gel. Now my curls are coming loose.” Ethan complained. He tried to blow the strand away to no avail. 

“That sucks. How long does it take you to style it every day?” Lex asked, handing him the towel. 

“Longer than I’d like to admit,” he grumbled, taking the towel from her grasp and lowering it to his lap momentarily. “Top three things I spend money on; food, gas, and hair gel.” He half-joked, wiping the stray rainwater from his eyes.

 

Should I?

Ah, fuck it.

After a moment’s hesitation he toweled off his hair too, the towel dissolving any gel that was left and leaving his hair still slightly damp and tousled. “Sorry it’s so messy.” 

“Don’t be.” Lex tilted her head and scanned him up and down. “I think messy hair looks nice on you.” 

 

“O-oh. Th-thanks.” Ethan choked out. He was sure his cheeks were redder than cherries at this point, but all he could do was shrug his shoulders and cough into his fist, eyes cast aside. “You too, I guess.” His eyes widened as he realised what he said. “I mean, um, hypothetically. Your hair isn’t messy right now , only a little wet, but ya know…”  He shrugged again.

Lex couldn’t suppress an amused smirk. “Has anybody ever told you you’re a real fuckin’ wordsmith, Green?”  

“Oh shut up.” Ethan grumbled. Lex just laughed. 

 

“By the way E,” Lex started, “you were about to say something to me earlier. ‘Do you actually hate–’ and then you got cut off. Do I actually hate... what?”

 

Ethan’s stomach dropped. 

 

“Ah. That.” He glanced down at his lap. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. His hands twitched where they rested on his knees, and as he shakily drew in a deep breath, he felt his fingernails digging into his jeans. “I was gonna say…” Forcing his eyes up to meet her concerned gaze, Ethan shakily finished his question. “Do you actually hate all supernaturals?”

Lex blinked. “Huh? No. I don’t hate all supernaturals.” 

 

A beat passed between them before Lex blinked again, brow furrowing slightly.

 

“...What’s it matter to you?” 



It was silent for a moment.



Ethan’s fists scrunched up his jeans, nearly shredding through the fabric. 

 

“...Might be one.” 

 

Another silence. A smaller one.

 

What?”

 

“I might be one.” He repeated, a little louder yet still barely above a whisper. His throat felt too tight to get the words out of— like if he raised his volume even a decibel, he’d choke on them before Lex could even hear them.

 

“I-I don’t understand.” Lex frowned. “What do you mean?”

 

Ethan gulped. “That night, it…”

 

Fuck. Why’d he have to lie to her about that? If he hadn’t, this whole damn thing would be so much easier, but fucking no.

 

“It wasn’t a dog that bit me.” Hanging his head, he felt his knee starting to bounce again under the dashboard, though he made no effort to stop it. “I’m sorry. I would have told you sooner… but I was afraid you’d reject me. Since you told me you don’t like non-humans or whatever, I kinda thought I’d… if you knew…”

He couldn’t finish the sentence.

He had a feeling she knew how it was meant to end.

 

“Wasn’t a dog…” Lex echoed, before paling even further as the realisation hit her, the fact that she looked frightened enough to make Ethan shrink down in his seat. “ Oh. ” 

 

He swallowed thickly. “Yeah.”

 

“So you’re a… a werewolf, then?”

 

Unable to find his words, Ethan settled with a hum of affirmation. “Mmhmm.” 

 

“Wait, so– that’s why you were acting so… so weird?” Jerking a hand upward, sharply, Lex pinched the bridge of her nose. “ Jesus , you had just gotten bitten and that was your first transformation, I… shit. I didn’t know werewolf transformations were so rough.” She ran her fingers through her damp hair. 

 

Ethan nodded. “Yeah, It was… fuck, it was really scary.”

Against his will, images began to flicker through the back of his mind, the memories creeping through his head in a thick, heavy fog. In his mind’s eye, he could see the moon-- feel his body buckling and the sensation of claws shredding through where his hands had once been, feel the seething pain of the bite throbbing above all else in time with his too-fast heartbeat and--

A soft ripping sound shot through the silence. When he looked down, he winced upon seeing that one of his nails– one of his claws-  had torn through the knee of his jeans. 

“It all happened really fast,” he continued, pulling his hands up to his chest almost defensively, “like, all of a sudden my senses kicked up to a fuckin’ eleven. It was like it wasn’t even dark, and I could smell all the shit from the party– like the weed and the booze- and the noise , it… fuckin’ sucked. Felt like my head was melting. Total sensory overload, and with the bite… really wasn’t a good mix.”

 

Running his tongue over his teeth, he felt his stomach drop when he found the points to be a little sharper than before. Too sharp.

Fuck. 

 

Making an effort not to open his mouth more than he had to, Ethan scratched the back of his neck. “Plus the transformation was awful. Worst pain I ever felt. At some point I put too much pressure on one leg and it just… snapped. Apparently werewolves have really quick healing, which is why my bite mark healed overnight, but my arm was still out of commission for a while. It fuckin’ sucked.” 

 

Lex chewed on her lip. 

 

Shit.

Did I scare her?

With claws jutting out from where his fingernails should’ve been despite the fact that he was trying to keep his hands out of sight and the feeling of fangs curling up from where his normal teeth were, he couldn’t help but feel almost monstrous. He’d totally scared her. Being a vampire was one thing, but being a fucking dog-

 

“I bet,” she finally answered, and then, through a sigh: “ fuck , now I feel like a dick. I didn’t know, otherwise I wouldn’t have said all that shit about non-humans.” 

 

Oh, thank god.

 

The knot in his chest loosened.  “It’s fine,” he reassured, “I didn’t know, either.”

 

The sound of rain hammering the windshield was the only noise between them for a moment, save for Ethan’s unsteady breathing and his heartbeat thundering in his ears. She didn’t sound like she’d hated him- far from it- but when he stole a glance at her… she looked as though she was considering something. Her hands were fidgeting with her lighter, letting a small flame rise up for a few seconds at a time before it fizzled out. 

 

“You know what?” Flicking the lighter closed and sticking it back into her pocket, Lex leaned back in her seat. “Screw it. You confessed something, I’ll confess something back.” 

“You don’t have to-”

“No, fuck you, I’m doing this.” 

 

Ethan’s eyebrows raised, though before he could even think of a comment to make in return, Lex gave a heavy sounding sigh and turned her gaze to stare at the ceiling. 

 

“I– damn, it feels weird saying this out loud– me n’ my sister weren’t always vampires. We used to be humans, too.” 

“Seriously?”

“Yup. We were turned a couple years ago. I didn’t catch the bitch who turned us’s name, but I think she meant to kill us, when instead she fucked up and made this .” Lex gestured to herself. “Changed our lives for the worse.” 

 

“Well shit.” 

It was all he could think to say. 

Damn, no wonder she’s bitter towards vampires.

 

Regarding her quietly for a moment, Ethan carefully stretched out in place, his shoes bumping up against the peeling carpet he hadn’t bothered cleaning since he’d bought the sorry excuse for a car.   “I’m guessing being a vampire isn’t as glamorous as the media makes it out to be?” 

 

Lex snorted. “That’s the understatement of the fucking century, she agreed, pressing her tongue against one of her fangs before wincing. “We’re either demonized or glamorized. Why can’t we just… be.” She glanced out at the window, the glass blurred from the pouring rain. “Then again, I don’t really give a shit about vampire rights or any of that bullshit. I care about me and my sister and that’s it.” 

 

A loud clap of thunder boomed, followed by a bolt of white lightning that ripped through the dark sky.

 

“Was the shit that that asshole at school said true? Like about you eating squirrels and all that.” 

I know it probably isn’t the best time to ask, but I’m curious dammit. 

 

“Yes.” 

Ethan was almost taken aback by her bluntness.

“Really?”

 

“I’m not gonna lower myself to the level of attacking other humans just to satisfy my thirst. I can’t afford those fancy plasma drinks, so… animals it is.” Shooting him a sidelong glance, Lex ran her fingers through her hair and gave a heavy sigh. “I don’t have a gun or a bow and arrow or some shit like that to hunt deer, so I usually end up eating like, squirrels and shit like that. I don’t fuckin’ like it, but…” Her hands retreated into the pockets of his jacket. When she inhaled, it was through her teeth. “ I prefer to cling to whatever little humanity I have left rather than just willingly become a monster. And if that means nabbing a squirrel instead of a human being, so fucking be it, y’know?”

 

Their eyes met.

 

Lightning flashed again, illuminating Lex’s grim face for a split second then fading back to darkness.

 

“That’s funny.”

Ethan regretted his words the moment they left his lips. Lex’s eyes narrowed.

“How so?” 

 

“Well, it’s just–” scrambling to find a way to explain himself, Ethan gave a low, awkward chuckle before attempting to get a sentence out. “I’ve heard that there are some stuck up vampires out there who say the opposite- that feeding on animals is on a lower level to draining humans or some shit like that. But from my perspective, morally, you’re right.” A drop of liquid slid down the back of Ethan’s neck to his spine, and he was unsure whether it was a bead of sweat or rainwater from his hair. “Though I wish you could eat better.”

“Me too. That’d be fucking wonderful, but we don’t always get what we fucking want, right?” She attempted to give a sarcastic smile, yet failed miserably. It didn’t reach her eyes, only lasting a few seconds before falling flat. 

 

Thick droplets of rain pounded the car roof heavily, harsh and grating like a child clumsily playing an instrument for the first time.

 

“...You’re amazing, Lex.” Ethan said quietly.

Lex huffed a disbelieving laugh. “Oh? How so?”

 

“Well,” he started, trying to turn to face her, “when we first met, I was gushing blood like fuckin’ fountain. I was a goddamn blood buffet. It would have been so easy for you to just… y’know, drain me or whatever and toss my corpse to the side, but you didn’t .”

When her eyes met his own, he couldn’t have stopped the reassurance if he tried. 

“You didn’t walk away, no, you fucking helped me. You stayed with me, even though I was practically a not really walking, groggily talking gore snack bar. No wonder you seemed squeamish and didn’t like looking at my wound. It was probably tempting as all hell, yeah?” He leaned in closer. “It must have taken a fuck ton of restraint. That’s why you’re amazing. I was an easy target, yet you stuck to your morals and held yourself back and because of that, I’m alive.” He offered a gentle half-grin. “Real grateful ‘bout that one.” 

 

Lex fiddled with the sleeves of Ethan’s jacket. “You’re not wrong.” She tucked her almost dry hair behind her ear. “I’m glad I saved you, too. It’s… really been a while since I’ve had a friend.” She smiled back.

Ethan’s heart squeezed lightly. “Same.” 

 

We’re just friends, nothing more.

And that’s good enough for me.

 

Ethan tilted his head to get a better look at the sky. “Damn. Doesn’t look like the storm’s gonna get any better soon.” He clucked his tongue. “And I don’t trust myself to drive when I can barely see out the front window.” 

Lex bobbed her head in agreement. “Guess we’re stuck here then, huh E?”

“Guess so.”

 

Neither of them said anything for a bit, both staring out the windows, watching fat drops of rain run down the glass, the only sounds being the noises from the storm and their soft breaths.

 

“So...  what do we do now?” Lex was the first to break the quiet.

“I dunno. Usually, I’d suggest lighting up a joint and chilling out to the radio or a mixtape, but I’m all out of wraps, so I can’t roll any.” Ethan said with a shrug of his shoulders. “Besides, I don’t even have much weed left.” 

 

Lex arched a brow. “You ever hotbox?”

“Occasionally.” 

“By yourself?”

Ethan shrugged again. “Yeah. It’s more fun with friends, though.” 

They locked eyes.

“Wanna hotbox together sometime?” Ethan proposed. 

Lex gave him a crooked grin. “Fuck yeah.”

“So it’s a date.”

Ethan internally winced. No, don’t say that you idiot! Now you’ve gone and made it weird!

However, Lex simply laughed. “Sure. It’s a date, Green.” 

 

Ethan’s stomach twisted into knots and his heart pounded faster in his chest. 

 

Don’t give yourself hope buddy. Friends. That’s it. 

You’re fine with that. 

 

“You said you have mixtapes?” Lex asked, breaking him from his thoughts. 

 

“Oh, uh, yeah! I like to make playlists, then put ‘em on cassette tapes since I have a player.” He jerked his head at his car’s built-in cassette deck. “In fact– hold on.” He leaned over to open the car glove box, dug around for a second, then heaved out a heavy-looking cardboard box with a huff. “Here we go.”

“Damn, that’s a ton of tapes.” Lex marveled, gazing at the dozens of multi-coloured cassette tapes scattered inside. 

“What can I say, I like music.” Ethan handed her the box. “Go ahead and pick one. I don’t care which.”

 

“Let’s see…” Lex picked up various tapes. “‘Songs To Go Absolutely Apeshit To’...  ‘Kick It Up A Notch”... ‘ACAB But Its Songs’... ‘Indie Shit I Found On Youtube At 2 AM’... Oh, this one just says ‘Annoy Oliver’. You have weird ass playlist names, you know that?” 

“True. But, you know what you’re getting into. ‘ACAB But It’s Songs’ are songs about how police suck. ‘Indie Shit I Found On Youtube At 2 AM’ is indie music that I found- guess where? On Youtube at 2 AM.” Ethan pointed out. “Generally I like to be literal with my titles.”

 

“And ‘Benis Bops’?” Lex waved an orange tape. 

Ethan pursed his lips. “...In my defense, I was like, high as fuck when I wrote that title. I promise you they’re not all songs about… you know…”

“They’re not bops about benises?” Lex finished with a smile. “Damn shame.” 

“...Shut it.” Ethan scowled, though his mouth was twitching upwards.

 

“‘Hotbox and Hickies’, huh?” Lex examined a green cassette tape carefully. “I assume this is what you listen to while hotboxing?”

“Yep.” Ethan nodded. “Still don’t have anybody for the hickies part, though.” 

 

They stared at each other.

 

Ethan spoke without thinking.

“Maybe you’ll get to listen someday.” 

 

Lex arched a brow and leaned back in her seat. “Is that so?” Despite being (mock) shocked, she couldn’t suppress the corners of her mouth turning up in an amused grin. “You’ll let me listen to your Hotbox and Hickies playlist?” 

Ethan’s face went beet red. “I-I, n-not necessarily the hickies part! It can just be hotboxing!” He scrambled. “That’s– that’s it. No, um, no hickies needed, nope.”

 

...I mean, both sound good. But usually you don’t give hickies to a friend. 

 

Lex didn’t respond.

 

Fuck I blew it. I totally made Lex uncomfortable–

 

Then, she burst into laughter.

 

Wait what.

 

“Ethan Green, you’re a dumbass.” She snickered, pressing her head against his shoulder. 

“Wha– hey, what’d I do??”

“Nothing, nothing. You just– you just make me laugh.” Lex giggled.

“Are you laughing at me, or with me?” Ethan cracked a smile. “There’s a difference.”

“With. Laughing with you. Promise."  Lex assured. 

“You better.” He nudged her playfully. “Now c’mon. Pick one.” 

 

“I will, I will!” She nudged him back. “Uh, ok…” Lex rummaged around, pulling out a random one. “‘Best of FOB’.” She read aloud. "Wait, you still listen to Fallout Boy?"

"Uh, yeah."

"Pfft. That's like, middle school emo kid shit." She teased.

Ethan’s jaw dropped, looking legitimately offended. "Oh, fuck off, FOB slaps ."

Lex clucked her tongue. “Their new stuff is too pop-y, Eth." 

"Yeah but they've made some classic songs!” Ethan threw his hands up. “Ever heard ‘Sugar, We're Going Down’? ‘This Ain't A Scene It's an Arms Race’? Hell, even "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs"? All of them are fucking bangers and you cannot convince me otherwise." 

"If you say so." Lex rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest.

"Yeah, I fucking do." Ethan did the same.

 

A beat.

 

“So are you going to play the fucking mix or not?” Lex finally said, shoving the tape at Ethan’s chest.

“Wait, we’re actually listening to it?” Ethan asked, unable to fight down a disbelieving grin. “Are you serious?”

“Sure. Why the fuck not?” Lex nodded with a shrug of her shoulders. “Maybe you’ll convince me to like them by the time this storm ends, however long that’ll take.” 

“Fuck yeah.” With a slightly shaking hand, Ethan loaded the cassette into the player and hit play. 

 

I’m gonna make you bend and break…

 


 

By the time the mixtape had ended, the sky was clear and the sun was shining once more. From what Ethan could tell, the flooding wasn’t too bad, and his jalopy was high enough that he could drive through the water just fine.

 

There was one small problem, though.

 

Namely, Lex Foster fast asleep on his shoulder.

 

She had fallen asleep about fifteen minutes ago, just after blearily mumbling where she wanted to be dropped off– specifically a Denny’s a few blocks from where she was staying, same place where he picked her up that morning. Then she buried her head in his shoulder and was out like a light. 

 

No big deal. Might be giving me heart palpitations, but it’s fine. 

 

Though he tried to drive gently so as to not wake her up, Ethan was still white-knuckling the steering wheel with an iron grip. He needed at least something to ground him, and if that meant strangling the poor steering wheel, so be it. After all, she wasn’t exactly helping keep him grounded, what, with the way her face was pressed against the flimsy fabric of his shirt and her breaths tickling his neck. 

 

Once Ethan arrived at the Denny’s, he was almost loath to wake her up. She looked so peaceful in her sleep. 

It looked good on her. 

Her brows weren’t creased in an ever-present seeming worry- her shoulders loose, her expression comfortably blank- and even as the jalopy came to as gentle a stop as Ethan could manage and she stirred softly, that peace she seemed to hold didn’t disappear. 

 

Damn it…

There goes waiting for her to wake up on her own. 

 

“Lex,” Ethan whispered, softly shaking her. “Lex, wake up. We’re here.” 

“Huh?” Lex opened her eyes groggily. “Whaat the fuck?” 

“We’re at Denny’s. The storm stopped.”

 

Watching as she carefully sat up- pulling away from him by extension- and blinked a few times, he gave her a soft smile.

“It’s getting late. I can walk you home if you’d like.” He offered, though Lex was quick to shake her head and look away. 

Something akin to panic flashed in Lex's expression. “No need! I can go by myself.”

“Are you sure? I don’t want anything bad to happen to you or some shit like that.”

 

Hatchetfield hadn’t ever been a super dangerous town, but there were… a lot more reports of missing people than Ethan would’ve wanted to see. It made sense, what, with being in a supernatural community- of course there were a few shitheads who went around ruining things for everyone else- but it still sucked ass. 

 

Lex blinked. 

In the warm car light, it almost looked like she was… blushing.

 

Weird. My eyes must be playing tricks on me.

 

“I’m fine,” she assured him, “but thank you.” She returned his smile. 

“Alright, well, I’m not gonna force you.” Ethan acquiesced. “Your bag’s in the back.”

“Gotcha.” Lex unbuckled and grabbed her backpack from the backseat, and slung it over her shoulder. She stepped out of the car, wincing a little at the sudden cold.

 

“Thanks again, E. See ya.” She gave him a little two finger salute and a wink, and was about to walk away when–

“Lex!”

She turned around. “What?”

 

Ethan rolled down his window. “You…” He hesitated.

 

You’re still wearing my jacket.

But also… you’re real cute in it.

 

“Nothing.” He leaned out the window. “Be safe, ‘kay?”

Lex rolled her eyes. “Ok, mom.

Ethan snorted. “What’s that thing moms say? ‘Have fun, be safe, make good choices’ or some shit like that?” 

“I dunno. My mom never said that to me. But I’ve heard it before.” Lex shrugged and tucked some hair behind her ear. “Any other farewell wishes?”

 

“Nope. See you on Monday, Lex.” He mirrored her salute. Lex nodded and with that walked off into the night.

 

Ethan paused, watching her under the streetlights until she faded from view, then drove away with a warmth falling over him that he couldn’t really explain, even though he didn’t have his jacket. 

 


 

Ethan had found himself staying at his Uncle’s more often than his actual home recently, partially because it was fun annoying Oliver, and partially because he also just felt more… safe, oddly enough. Like, Uncle Henry was fucking weird, and he constantly bounced back and forth between being some wack mad scientist and an old ass theater kid (and according to Oliver, with a fucking tiktok no less), but at least he cared in his own way. He was certainly more lively than Ethan’s own parents, that’s for damn sure. Ethan’s mom and dad weren’t bad per se, but they were working most of the time and fun family times were becoming sparse lately. 

Yes, Uncle Henry was lowkey crazy and Oliver was an annoying nerd, but at least Ethan felt like he could relax and be himself at the Hidgens house.

 

“Hey Uncle Hen, Ethan here!” Ethan called as he opened the front door, slamming it unceremoniously behind him. 

No answer.

“Uncle Henry?” He tried again, not bothering to take off his boots as he strode into the house. “Where is that kooky bastard?”

 

“He’s in the kitchen grading tests. I wouldn’t recommend bothering him though; he seemed irritated for some reason.” Came Oliver’s voice from the living room. Ethan followed the voice to find Oliver sprawled out on one of the living room couches, typing away on his computer.

 

“And what are you doing, dear cousin?” Ethan plopped down on the other couch, sighing as he nestled into the familiar soft leather. 

“Working on my college application,” Oliver replied. “I’d tell you to do the same, but with your grades, I don’t think any college would take you, not even Hatchetfield Community College. And they take everyone.”

“True.” Ethan agreed. “College is fucking overrated. It’s too expensive anyways.” 

“It’s not a surprise you don’t want to pursue higher education.” Sniffed Oliver, still clacking away, though after a few moments of slamming out god knew what on his keyboard- seriously, who the fuck types that fast? He’s probably just keysmashing - he looked up.  

 

“Also, you’re home rather late. Did you get caught in the rainstorm or something?” Oliver asked, tsking as an error message popped up on his screen. “Dammit. Stupid storm knocked out the power and the wifi’s been spotty as hell ever since.”

Ethan ignored his cousin’s plight. “I did, actually. Me an’ Lex skipped when the fire alarm went off. Went out to the lake to smoke and fuck around, then the storm forced us to take shelter.” Ethan kicked off his boots. “I drove Lex home once it cleared up.” 

 

“I see.” Oliver looked up from his laptop. 

Shit.

Ugh. Ethan knew that look. It was a pretty familiar one- one that Oliver got on his smug, smarmy little face whenever he was about to catch Ethan in a lie or call him out for something.

Fucking hell. 

Before he even opened his mouth, Ethan knew exactly the tone of voice he’d use, too, that nasally, self-certain thing that he liked so damn much. 

 

“Where’s your jacket, Ethan?” He questioned, at which Ethan gave a halfway shrug where he lay.

“Lex has it.”

Oliver’s eyebrows shot up to his hairline. “Wait, did you actually do something with her–”

“God no.” Ethan scoffed.

 

As if she’d want to do anything like that.

 

“No, she was just cold, so I gave her my jacket. Simple as that.” He stuffed his hands in his pockets, trying to look casual despite the fact that forcing his hands into the pockets of his jeans was a really stupid move. 

“How gentlemanly of you.” Oliver drawled. “Did you genuinely forget to ask for your jacket back, or did you ‘forget’,” he made air quotes around the word forget, “to ask her to return it?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Ethan feigned innocence. Based on Oliver’s scoff and eye roll, it didn’t work. Inhaling, he made to spit some comeback at his cousin, though before he could, a buzz from his back pocket caught his attention. 

 

Lex 😊 (5:43): omg I still have your jacket!! I’m so sorry I forgot

Ethan (5:43): lmao its fine 

 

Ethan bit his lip in his thought, his eyes flicking to his exasperated cousin then back to his phone.

 

Ethan (5:45): srry i forgot to ask u to return it my b

Lex 😊 (5:47): if you drive over here I can give it to you

Lex 😊 (5:47): again I’m sorry for my stupid car being fucked up 

 

He pursed his lips. Should I do it?

 

Ethan (5:50): u can keep it for now and give it back l8r 

Lex😊 (5:52): yea but its friday

Ethan (5:53): so?

Lex 😊 (5:54): meaning the next time we see each other is on monday 

Ethan (5:55): then give it to me on monday nbd 

Lex 😊 (5:58): you sure? I know your leather jacket is like your signature accessory. Can you survive without it?

 

Ethan snorted out loud. Oliver shot him a funny look. 

 

Ethan (6:00): for 3 days? barely lmao  

Ethan (6:01): as long as u promise to take care of it

Lex 😊 (6:03): lol ok promise

Ethan (6:04): cross ur heart? 

Lex 😊 (6:05): seriously? what are we, fucking 9?

Ethan (6:06): say it

Lex 😊 (6:07): jeezus h christ

Lex 😊 (6:07): fine

Lex 😊 (6:08): cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye

Lex 😊 (6:09): satisfied? 

Ethan (6:10): hell yea i am 



“You always get this dumb grin on your face when you text her.” Said Oliver, despite not even looking at Ethan. “Do you like her? And I mean like-like her.”

Ethan shook his head. “She only wants a friend, and I respect that,” he explained, flipping around on the couch so his head was resting on the armrest somewhat crookedly. Pulling out one of his hands, he halfway counted on his fingers as he spoke. “Sure, she’s pretty, and funny, and makes me happy and feel all warm inside or whatever. But I’m not gonna force whatever feelings I have on her. ‘sides…” He lowered his voice, “I really like having an actual friend for once in my fucking life. She told me she feels the same way. Why would I go and mess up something that’s already good?” 

 

“Just saying. No offense, but you can be fucking oblivious sometimes, so I wouldn’t be surprised that if she actually does flirt with you it just goes over your head.” Oliver swept his palm over his head. “Whoosh.” 

“Ugh, fucking put a sock in it, would you?” Ethan crossed his arms over his chest. 

 

He’s probably right, but I’m not going to let him have the satisfaction of me telling him that. Asshole. 

 

“Whatever. If you get friendzoned, don’t come crying to me.” Oliver said, returning to typing away at his computer.

“Yeah well, I won’t get friendzoned because I’m not gonna pursue her like that in the first place.” Ethan insisted. “I’m perfectly fine just being friends.”

Oliver held up a finger. “That’s what they all say. And then they fall head over heels and start pining and listening to angsty love songs and suddenly they realise they were in love all along, and every time they look at their crush their heart hurts because they foolishly think their feelings are one-sided, even if they’re not.”

Ethan’s face scrunched up in confusion. “That’s… weirdly specific.”

“Not really. You’d be surprised how many shitty romcoms have that plot.” Oliver noted. “I’ve been practicing divination recently, and I predict that’ll happen,” he pointed at Ethan, “to you .” 

“Good thing my life isn’t a shitty romcom.” Ethan smiled tightly, though there was no pleasure in it. “Also, I think your prediction’s a little off. I guarantee you that won’t fucking happen.”

 

“Just–”

“Just saying, I know, I know.” Ethan interrupted. “And if you keep butting into my life, a certain piece of precious machinery might end up smashed in the trash. Just sayin’ .” His gaze flicked down to the laptop Oliver was handling before meaningfully settling on his younger cousin once more, one brow quirked almost challengingly upward. 

The blood drained from Oliver’s face. “No way.”

“Yes way.”

“You’re an asshole.”

“You’re a twerp.”

 

Truthfully, Ethan wouldn’t go as far breaking Ollie’s computer, but he was making Ethan uncomfortable, and he needed a way to shut him up. He didn’t believe much in divination or whatever, but Oliver talking about love made his stomach turn. 

 

What if–

No, no, stop right there Ethan. No what ifs. No “haha… unless?”es either. 

Chill out. According to the internet if I freak out I could end up shifting, and I already fucked up Uncle Henry’s floor enough. Don’t wanna do it again. 

 

“Well,” Ethan huffed out, standing and giving a stretch, “have fun filling out your nerd resume or whatever.”

“It’s called a college application, Ethan,” Oliver corrected with another sniff. 

“What’s the difference?”

Oliver took off his glasses to pinch the bridge of his nose. “Being around you makes my brain hurt.” 

“That’s funny, cuz I could say the same thing!” Ethan shot back. 

“Good God, you’re insufferable.” Oliver rolled his eyes.

“I don’t know what the fuck that means,” Ethan said with way too much confidence for someone who didn’t know a sixth-grade word- the tone of voice he took enough to make Oliver raise his eyebrows in disbelief, “and I don’t care. I’m guessing that’s an insult, so like, ditto.” With that he walked off without a care in the world, oblivious to Oliver’s indignant gaping at him. 

“Wha– you’re just gonna leave your boots in the living room?” Oliver called after him.

“Yeah.” Ethan’s voice was already distant as he climbed up the stairs, taking them two at a time.

 

He paused, and pulled his phone out to shoot one last text.

 

Ethan (6:23): dont forget the jacket

Lex 😊 (6:24): I won’t lmao

 

Ethan couldn’t fight back a tiny grin– goddammit, Oliver was fucking right– and texted his reply. 

 

Ethan (6:24): see u on monday lex ✌️

Lex 😊 (6:26): see ya Eth :)




 

She should’ve taken it off once she’d realized she was still wearing it.

 

It had completely slipped her mind when she’d stepped out of his car, and by the time it had clicked in her head that the extra layer of clothing wasn’t hers, it had been more than a little bit too late to really do anything about it other than text him about it. 

 

Which she’d just finished doing.

 

Sitting cross-legged in the middle of her bed, Lex carefully set her phone down beside her before pressing the heels of her hands against her face with a light groan– unable to ignore the feeling of the jacket bunching around her elbows. The leather was stiff– well worn, sure, but nowhere near her size– leaving her very much aware of the fact that it wasn’t hers. 

Because it wasn’t hers.

It was Ethan’s – the guy she’d known for… fuck, like three weeks? A month, maybe? True, the jacket was a bit heavy, but she found the pressure comforting. And here she was with it wrapped around her like some heavy blanket.

 

Some heavy blanket that belonged to Ethan fucking Green of all people.

 

Who would've guessed he’d be such a dork? He was one of the people Lex had made a point of steering clear of when she saw him in the halls– what, with a mean streak a mile long and a dangerous glint in his eyes– and as far as she’d been concerned, he was just some wannabe punk in the making. 

 

When she shifted how she sat, the collar of his jacket brushed lightly against her neck.

She made no effort to fix it.

 

As much as she hated to admit it… she’d been totally fucking wrong about him.

 

He was funny, and although he wasn’t the smartest person Lex had ever met– not even fucking close– he was one of the few people who’d ever even attempted to see things from her point of view. At times he was almost gentleman-like, what with giving her his jacket and looking away when her shirt got wet and driving her home and all, and he didn’t even hesitate to stick up for her when Jonathan was being a jerk. 

 

What was it he said? Something like, “I don’t take people fucking with the people I care about lightly”.

Care about. 

That meant Ethan cared about her, right? That’s what friends do. They care about each other.

 

Lex could count the number of people who cared about her on one hand. 

 

That was including Ethan.



“Lex?” Lex looked up to see Hannah standing in the doorway.

“Heya Hannah. How ya doin, Split?” Lex patted the space next to her on the bed. “Come on in.”

 

“Ok,” Hannah murmured in response. Her voice rarely seemed to rise to what would be considered by many to be a normal volume when it was just the two of them together, but Lex couldn’t say she minded it. It was one of the few things she could really count on.

Hannah doing… whatever it even was she did, her anxiety spiking every single fucking time someone did so much as sneeze in the room next door, and Ethan–

 

Fuck, when did he make the list?

 

Shifting where she sat to be out of Hannah’s way a little more than she was, Lex fiddled with the cuffs of the jacket momentarily. 

 

Hannah cocked her head. “...new?” She asked, pointing at the clearly too-big addition to Lex’s wardrobe.

 

Lex looked down in an attempt to hide the red splotches starting to colour her cheeks– fuck, how come she had enough blood in her stupid body to do that?– though when she did, she made the mistake of inhaling.

 

The jacket smelled like him.

 

God. That’s fucking weird to think about.

 

As much as it was weird, it was true. The thing smelled like axel grease and cigarette smoke– the same two smells the inside of his car reeked of, along with worn leather and something distinctly him. 

She would’ve placed it as something human, but he had a pretty damn nasty looking chunk missing from his shoulder that more than proved it was otherwise, which left her with it being… a werewolf smell?

No, fuck, that sounds even worse oh my god.

 

“Not new,” Lex corrected as Hannah carefully sat beside her, “borrowed it.”

 

Accidentally.

Without asking.

Because I’m a fucking idiot.

 

“Mhm,” was all Hannah said in response, though it was coupled with a small nod of her head. “From a friend?”

“Ethan.”

Another hum followed the name, though this time, there was no nod to follow it.

“I don’t think you’ve met or anything,” she continued, “but he’s–”

“Good,” Hannah finished for her without missing a beat. “I know.”

“Do you?” Lex asked, quirking a brow slightly when Hannah sat up a little straighter and nodded– practically bouncing with the small movement.

 

“Webby says,” she explained in a matter-of-fact tone. One of her hands lifted to press at her forehead, and for a moment, her eyes flickered shut, brows scrunching in a look of absolute concentration before she relaxed and offered Lex a rare moment of eye contact and a smile. “Says… different, but good. Do…”

Trailing off, she blinked up at Lex and turned her attention to the jacket with an almost critical eye– though Lex knew she was just processing the change. It didn’t really fit in with anything else she usually wore, after all– big, bulky, and clearly not the cheapest accessory.

Her fingers tugged a little at the zipper as Hannah finally spoke.

 

“Do friends normally switch jackets?” She asked, innocently.

Lex choked on the air. “What?” She sputtered, eyes widening momentarily, “no , we don’t–”

 

More than friends?”

 

Like that, Lex felt every fucking ounce of blood she still had left in her rise to her face in a hot rush that left her without oxygen. It didn’t help that Hannah was still wearing that innocent expression she had down to an art form, either– her head slightly cocked and her brows drawn together curiously– if anything, that just made it worse.

 

“I–” she started, coughing– ducking down in embarrassment– “no, god, no. Ethan’s just a friend. I got cold and he gave this to me to wear.” 

 

Trying to keep it as simple as she could manage, Lex couldn’t bring herself to meet Hannah’s critical gaze, instead, shifting her weight on the worn-out mattress beneath her. The sleeves of Ethan’s jacket slid down past her hands. 

 

...why was it so easy to imagine it wasn’t just his jacket– that it was him there with her? Maybe it was that werewolf smell or whatever it was– ew, fucking gross, sounds like wet dog– or maybe it was the fact that even though it shouldn’t have been, his jacket was faintly warm, but whatever it was, it made Lex’s slow heartbeat increase to a point where she could actually feel the low thumping in her chest. 

 

“Just friends,” she repeated, a little quieter. 

 

Hannah looked like she was going to interrupt, though when their eyes met, the younger Foster sister nodded a silent agreement before leaning a little against Lex’s side. “Good friends,” she echoed, softly. “Different, but… good.”

Lex smiled at that. 

“Good different,” she agreed.

 

Everything about Ethan so far had been good different. For a dude who dressed like a complete punk all the damn time, it was amazing how much of his menacing appearance seemed to be some sort of act. Fuck’s sake, he’d offered her his jacket without so much as a second thought, and though she had a hard time even admitting it to herself… she trusted him.

 

More than most people, anyway, which wasn’t saying much, but…

 

He was a good person, like Hannah said. He was funny, and genuine, and yeah he was a bit of an asshole– but it really didn’t look like he ever started shit on purpose (not that she’d seen), he just finished it, not to mention, he’d stuck up for her.

Like, actually stuck up for her.

 

Just friends.

Lex’s fangs dug into her lower lip. 

That’s it.

 

For some reason, thinking it made her heart sink, and when she thought about it…

 

It was probably the same reason she hadn’t taken off his jacket. 

 

Whatever the hell that was.

Chapter Text

Paul Matthews had a daily routine.

 

Wake up, go to work, visit his girlfriend during his break, go back to work, clock out, maybe visit Beanies again for a goodbye coffee or kiss– if there wasn’t already a line– eat dinner, then go to sleep. 

 

Simple enough, right?

 

So it always irritated him when something interrupted his routine. It didn’t have to be a big thing or anything like that. Sometimes, it was just not being able to talk to Emma– which was actually a big thing– but other times, it was something inconsequential like bad weather, or a particularly loud honk from a car a few blocks over that’d set him off.

 

Today, it was his fucking leg falling off. 

 

He had to admit, he wasn’t the most graceful person out there. And this was not the first time a body part had been knocked off, unfortunately. Far from it.

 

Really, it was whoever placed that huge rock in the middle of the street’s fault. How was he not supposed to trip over that thing? 

 

Even as he stumbled, he was more annoyed than anything, though at the noise of a loud, intrusive rip -

 

“Shit, shit, shit, triple shit.” Paul hissed, grabbing his pants to check– yep, his right lower leg had definitely come off. 

 

Cursing whoever made him for the millionth time for being such a careless fucker, Paul attempted to press his lower leg to his knee together, though he knew it wouldn’t do any good. It never did. 

Perhaps he could just take it off completely and try to hop on one leg to work– no, no, that was a ridiculous idea. God, why couldn’t it be like in the movies where if his body parts fell off he could just call them back to him? 

 

Being an actual zombie was nothing like the movies.

 

It was fucking hard work, that’s for damn sure. 

 

He sighed. Damn, why’d it have to be my leg? Why couldn’t have been a finger or something? 

Fingers were easy to deal with. He’d just drop them in his pocket and hide his hands until he could go and ask Emma for help stitching him back together. He’d even managed to go a day without his hand, once, carrying the detached thing around with him as he slogged through another day at work– but hiding the fact that his entire leg had fallen off just below the knee was more tricky.

 

“Okay,” he breathed, then again, louder: “ Okay , okay. Let’s just…” He twisted his mouth in a scowl, trying to think of what to do. “Let’s just drag the leg along to work, clock in, try to avoid Ted, and swing by Beanies and have Em sew it back on.” He found saying his plans out loud helped solidify them in his mind, and as much as he didn’t entirely believe it, he let a soft self-reassurance leave his lips. “Yeah, that’ll work.”

 

Just because it worked didn’t mean it was fun. Paul swore he got some weird looks while dragging his ass (well, technically dragging his leg, not his ass) to work– then again, if he saw some rando clutching his leg and half hopping, half trudging down the street, he might shoot him an odd glance too before turning away and minding his own damn business.

 

“Morning, Paul!” Melissa chirped as Paul limped into the CCRP main lobby. “How are you today?”

“Not great Melissa,” he admitted, bluntly. “My leg fell off.”

“Oh.” Her smile faltered. “How’d it do that?”

 

“Tripped over a rock on the street and my stitches came loose.” He explained, shrugging and pressing the elevator button with his elbow. “And now?” After checking to make sure no one was around, he lifted his right leg out from under his pants and held it up in the air. “Now I have only one working leg.” 

 

Mellisa’s eyes widened. “Oh jeez Paul, that’s awful!” Placing a hand on her chest in shock, the vampire tilted her head and offered a sympathetic wince. “Does… does it usually fall off? Will you be alright?”

Paul shook his head. “Not really.” The elevator doors opened with a ding, and he and Melissa stepped inside. He carefully put his leg back in his pants. “Just as long as Ted doesn’t see it, I should be fine.” 

 

“See what?” 

 

Goddammit Ted. 

 

Speak of the fucking devil. It was like the guy could sense when someone said his name. It was almost a running joke at CCRP– though as Paul awkwardly shifted his weight, feeling his leg shifting loosely under him thanks to not being attached, he didn’t find it funny.

 

“Nothing! Nothing. It’s nothing.” Paul quickly assured Ted, who was staring at him in perplexion from the entrance to their floor. 

 

Ted narrowed his eyes.

 

Shit, he didn’t believe me.

 

A bead of sweat trailed down his temple.

Why do I even still sweat?

Just another thing to be upset at his creators for, he had to guess. They couldn’t be bothered to give him like, a regularly beating heart or anything like that, but sweat? Really? That was what they’d decided was a key human thing to include?

All it was doing was making him look like a freaking emergency sprinkler where he stood, awkward, too-tight smile on his face.

 

Ted shrugged. “Ok.” With that, he stuffed his hands in his pockets and walked away, humming the tune of a shitty pop song under his breath.

 

Paul exhaled in relief. Thank God.

 

“Why don’t you just tell him?” Melissa whispered to Paul as they stepped out of the elevator. “You’ve worked with him for years . He’s gonna find out eventually.”

“He’d freak. And Ted freaking out is the last thing I want. It’s the last thing anyone wants, really.” Paul whispered back. 

Melissa clutched her clipboard to her chest. “He’s literally the only human in CCRP. Like. At all .  He’ll have to learn to live with it.” 

“Yeah, I guess.” Paul shuffled over to his desk, and collapsed into his chair with a huff. “Somebody can tell him, it’s just not going to be me.”

 

Ted flipping out wasn’t something anybody wanted to deal with. The only person Paul could see keeping him even remotely calm was Charlotte, but from what he knew, she wasn’t exactly keen on telling him about her abilities, either, and he couldn’t really blame her. 

 

“I get that.” Melissa shot him a sympathetic smile. “I’m sorry about the leg thing. Maybe Charlotte can help?”

Paul shook his head. “No, Charlotte told me she’s better at charms and crystals and potions and all that stuff, not healing. A healing spell wouldn’t work anyways; I’m not injured I’m just…” He waved his hand, struggling to find the right words, “I’m just minus one limb,” he settled with, “I’ll get it fixed later. No big deal.” 

Melissa’s eyebrows drew together, but her ever present smile remained. “If you say so.”

 

“Are you having leg problems today too, Paul?” Bill butted in. He leaned over from his own desk and scooted closer. “I ran out of my special drink, and now I don’t have a lower half!” He gestured to his body where, sure enough, his feet had disappeared completely, and everything else below the knee just… missing. “Even worse, I’m seeing Alice tomorrow, and she hates it when I don’t appear fully human. Last time I started floating in front of her, she looked like she was going to barf.” He grimaced. “I know it must have been a shock for her dad to die like that but… it’s been years , and she’s still having trouble processing it! Hell, she took me getting a new boyfriend better than me being a ghost !” 

 

Paul managed a sympathetic wince. “I know Bill. You’ve told me this many, many times before.”

More than I can count. 

 

Awkwardly patting Bill on the back, Paul shot him a tight looking smile. “But, if it’s any consolation, your top half feels very solid.” 

“Thanks, Paul.” Bill gave him a tired half smile. “Charlotte said she might have some extra potions to spare until my new shipment comes in.” 

 

Might! ” Charlotte added, setting a cup of coffee on Bill’s desk and sipping from her own mug. “Really Bill, you need to be more careful about knowing how much you have left. I’m happy to brew you some if you’re running out, but I’m not an endless supply for ghost potion.” She chastised lightly. She turned to Paul. “Good morning Paul! I heard about your leg problem, since frankly you’re not very good at keeping your voice down.” She tapped her fingers against her cat patterned mug. “Sorry I can’t help.” 

 

“Morning Charlotte.” Paul nodded. “Is that a new skirt? Looks nice.” 

Charlotte’s face brightened. “Oh my, why, thank you!” She tugged at her floor length polka dot skirt, causing the purple fabric to bunch under her fingers. “Sam didn’t like it, but I found it quite lovely, and it was in just the right size, so… here we are!” 

 

At the mention of Sam, the light in her expression faded slightly, turning a little more forced in a way that was subtle, but sadly, familiar in a way that made Paul’s still heart twinge. 

 

“Well, it’s still nice,” Paul responded. 

 

And Sam can go rot for all any of us care. 

It was a harsh thought, but it was one that seemed to cross his mind pretty often. 

 

No one in the office liked Sam, and it was a fucking wonder why Charlotte was still with him. Not to mention, she was terrible at hiding her affair with Ted. Paul didn’t condone cheating– he’d rather die than cheat on Emma– but having an asshole husband like Sam wasn’t exactly motivating Charlotte to stay faithful, and to be completely honest, he couldn’t really blame her.

 

“Paul, would you like a cup of coffee?  I think there’s still enough left in the pot for one more cup.” Charlotte offered, though as she did, she was already reaching for a spare mug– the one Paul liked best, with the odd blue glaze and the chip on the handle. 

 

“Charlotte, you know the answer to that question,” Paul replied, watching as she poured him a cup, “I’m literally a caffeine zombie. Of course I want coffee.” He joked, earning a nod from Charlotte and a laugh from Bill. 

They’d both heard the same joke about as many times as Bill had complained about being translucent, but Paul didn’t intend on letting it go anytime soon. After all, it was part of the routine– and he really was a caffeine zombie. It was one of the few things that even came close to giving him a boost in the mornings, or… at all, really. 

 

Watching as Charlotte filled his mug and slid it over to him, Paul offered her a genuine smile and took a sip, feeling warmth flood him from the inside out.

Just another reason he loved it so much. It smelled good, it made him feel more awake, and it made his body feel warm, which… didn’t happen often. It was usually a hot drink, or being around Emma that did it, and since he couldn’t always have both, he usually had to settle for a warm drink. Which wasn’t really the same, but it was better than nothing, and it’d hold him over until he could see her again. 

 

Bill gave another small laugh beside him. “Oh, lemme guess,” he started, “thinking about her?” 

Nearly choking on his coffee, Paul was quick to set down the mug. “I–” he started, though when he did, his voice decided to betray him, coming out a little sharper than he’d intended. “–m-maybe.”

“Oh, it’s your face, dear,” Charlotte inputted, giving a smile as she did. “Every time you think of her, you get this look , you know?” 

 

He did know. 

 

But he wasn’t about to admit it. Swallowing nervously, he carefully brought one hand up to fidget with his tie. “A look?” He echoed, coughing slightly. “I… I don’t–”

Bill shook his head, cutting him off. “Oh, honestly, Paul, you don’t have to hide it,” he reassured.

 

“Yeah, you barely do, anyway,” Ted’s voice cut in. 

 

In an instant, the entire demeanour of those in the room changed. Before he even walked into the room, Charlotte perked up at the sound of his voice. 

 

Bill’s eyes widened. 

In an instant, the ghost beside Paul shot behind one of the nearest desks and leaned against it in an attempt to cover up his lower half, which would’ve worked better, had the desk had something in front of it, other than empty space. An empty space where his legs should’ve been.

 

Please don’t let Ted look that way...

 

“I mean, it’s kinda pathetic, how you’re always swooning over her,” Ted continued as he entered the room, “she’s not even the uh, latte-hottay , if you catch my drift.” A wink followed the statement, along with a practically trademarked click of his tongue and wiggle of his hips that made Paul bite down hard on his lip to stop a scowl. 

“...right,” he found himself saying. He didn’t believe it. “Well, I like her–”

“Yeah,” Ted waved him off, taking a step closer to Paul, “and it’s written all over your face like, 24/7.” 

 

“Leave him be, Ted.” Charlotte admonished Ted, putting a hand on his shoulder. Ted’s shoulders relaxed a little and he stopped, but the teasing glint in his eyes remained

 

And he thinks it’s written all over my face?

 

For someone who prided himself on being the office asshole or whatever his impromptu title of the week was, something about him changed whenever he was close to Charlotte. His attitude, his scowl, his usual uptight look– all of it fell away when she rested a gentle hand on his side, causing his words to turn to a displeased harrumph. 

 

“...fine, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true,” he huffed, turning to Charlotte, who nodded, though not before shooting Paul a soft smile. 

Paul kept his expression neutral, though the corner of his mouth twitched as if to say Thank you oh my god. Charlotte seemed to get the message, her slight grin widening. 

 

Hopefully the rest of the day would go smoother than its rough start. Paul really, really hoped so.

 


 

Work seemed to drag on and on, and by the time lunch break came around, Paul was so fucking ready to bolt over to Beanies the moment the clock struck 12. He missed his girlfriend, he missed having some good black coffee, and he especially missed having two legs. 

 

Humans really were lucky. They didn’t have to worry about having their limbs fall off if they so much as bumped into something a little too hard. 

 

Bill had somewhat helped, offering up his maroon tie in an attempt to help Paul with his problem, but try as Paul might to get the thing to stick in place, it… just looked sad against the black fabric of his pants. It flapped loosely with his every step, and every couple of paces, he'd bend over and tie it just a little tighter in place, though for some damn reason, it would always threaten to fall off again in a matter of minutes. 

He needed a permanent fix. Or, at least, a better one than a halfway-tied tie and a limp. 

 

Ted had looked at him weirdly when he’d seen it, made some stupid comment about ties going around necks– or foreheads, if whoever the hell it was was really off the shits– and Paul had just shrugged it off as a makeshift knee brace, and that… had been a shitty excuse, but it had been all he’d been able to come up with. He owed Charlotte for calling Ted away long enough for him to stand and all but sprint out the door and onto the street, though not before he adjusted the tie from Bill once more. 

 

For the first of what would be many times on a three minute walk. 

 

Beanies had never seemed so far away. Hell, if his leg hadn’t broken off below the knee, he might’ve broken into a jig when he saw the familiar green awning in the distance. 

 

A cheap tinny bell chimed as Paul opened the door– all but falling into the warmth the little shop provided. Immediately the delicious smell of coffee washed over him, and an involuntary satisfied sigh escaped his lips. Finally. 

 

The barista looked up from her phone, and her disinterested frown immediately turned upside down into an excited grin. 

 

“Hey Paul!” Emma beamed. She stood up a little taller, and straightened out her apron. “What can I do for ya?”

“Hey Emma.” Paul returned, his signature Simp Smile (as Ted called it, which had led to him scrolling through Urban Dictionary of all things late one night) already spreading over his face. 

 

“How are you? You look dead tired.” Emma punctuated her joke with a wink. “Want the usual?”

Paul shook his head. “Maybe later. Definitely later. But there’s sorta a more pressing matter.” He glanced around the room. The only people in there were a scrawny nerdy looking kid, who even Paul recognised as a regular, surrounded by 5 cups of hot chocolate pouring over a ridiculously thick stack of paper, and a woman with shocking red hair sipping from a plasma pack. Neither were paying attention, but Paul lowered his voice anyways.

 

“I need to see you in the backroom.” He murmured, leaning closer. “I need you. Seriously.” 

Emma went pink and her mouth opened and closed like a flustered fish out of water. “I– I um, I’m not sure right now would be the best time,” she stammered out, biting down hard on her lip, “I think Zoey’s doing inventory, and it wouldn’t be good if we got walked in on again–”

 

“What? No, no . That’s not what I meant.” Paul clarified, going a little pink himself. “It’s just that my leg–” 

Emma’s eyes widened. “Oh! Oh. Ohhh.” She groaned and ran a hand over her face, her eyebrows drawing together. “Goddammit Paul. Again? Seriously?”

“I do not control the rate at which my limbs fall off!” Paul protested in a hushed voice, throwing his hands up in frustration.  

 

“Hey, watch where you’re throwing those— don’t need one popping off,” she huffed, fondly, “you’re a klutz, Matthews. A cute klutz, but a klutz.”

“I—"

 

Emma rolled her eyes. “C’mon.” She took Paul’s hand and led him into the back storage room, her grimace deepening as she noticed Paul’s limp, though it was quick to quirk up into a poorly suppressed smile. “Did you try to keep it in place with your tie?”

“Bill’s, actually.” Reaching down to pull the makeshift brace off, Paul shot Emma a wry smile. “ Tied it.”

She looked like she tried really hard not to laugh, though once the door of the back room fell shut behind them, she broke into a giggle and swatted his shoulder somewhat playfully. 

“That was awful,” she informed him, though her smile… made it clear that it wasn’t all that bad.

 

Not bad at all.

 

For a moment, the two of them just drank each other in with matching, soft expressions on both their faces before Emma gave a quiet sigh.

 

“So, how’d it fall off this time?” She asked, getting the sewing kit from a shelf. 

“Tripped over something and the stitches ripped.” Paul answered, sitting down on a stool and rolling up his pantleg almost automatically. It looked worse in the light. He hadn’t looked at it much on his way to work, but in the light from the dim bulb above them, Paul could easily make out the murky, purplish-red hue of his somewhat dead flesh along with the soft glint of a bone. 

 

“Well…” Trailing off to adjust it, trying to fit it back into place, he gave a small shrug. “At least it’s only below the knee, though. Not the entire leg like last time.” 

“God, I’d rather not be reminded of that.” Emma scoffed. “What colour thread would you like?”

“Blue, please.” Paul said politely.

“K, we’ve got dark blue, light blue and-” She stopped.

 

She always hesitated before she actually stuck it in. A light blue thread was already in place, a knot at the end making sure it wouldn’t come undone, but… she didn’t move to start stitching, instead, looking up at him concernedly.

 

“It won’t hurt,” he murmured to her, at which she gave a soft sigh.

“I know. But it’s still fucking unnerving to stab a needle through somebody’s leg.” She grumbled. She pressed the lower and upper leg together tightly, and after making sure everything was lined up and straight, sunk the needle into his skin.

 

Paul didn’t even flinch.

 

“Do you really not feel any pain?” Emma questioned as she weaved the needle in and out of his flesh. It stuck a little more in some spots than others. From what he could tell, there wasn’t much resistance left in his skin. Even when Emma had to tug on the needle a little harder in certain spots, the old pock marks from the last stitch job hadn’t exactly faded. “You never seem to react when I stick it in you. The needle, I mean.”

He shook his head quietly, watching as she pulled on the thread, his leg settling neatly in place. 

“Not really.” Paul shrugged. “I don’t feel any pain when any parts fall off either. It’s like… I dunno, the same sensation as cutting your hair. You’re aware that it’s gone, but it’s not like cutting it was painful or anything. There’s just…” Trailing off, he shrugged again. “I dunno, suddenly less of it, if that makes sense?”

Emma snorted. “Yeah,” she agreed, giving the thread another gentle pull, “but it’s weird.” 


“It’s true!” Shifting how he sat to better show off his injury, Paul bit his lip before trying to explain. “It doesn’t hurt, it just kinda… throws off my balance, y’know?”

 

The thread pulled a little tighter. “Can’t say I do, no,” she tsked. “Both my legs are–” Another tug. Harder this time. “ –firmly attached, and I hope they stay that way.” 

“Me too.”

Inwardly cringing as the words left his mouth– fuck, that sounded so stupid – Paul watched as Emma found another one of the holes left from her previous stitch job and fitted the needle back through it.

“Yeah, glad you like ‘em,” she huffed with a small, fond looking eye-roll– one that was more than a little different from the ones she gave customers at Beanies. While those ones were usually followed by a glare or a scoff, this one was followed with what looked like a poorly muffled laugh and a soft shake of her head. “These suckers got me all the way across Guatemala– probably take like, a helicopter crash to even dent one.” 

 

Stitch. Pull. Loop. 

 

Paul couldn’t stop a wry smile. “What’re the odds of that?” He asked, earning a halfway shrug. 

“About the same as a musical apocalypse, probably.” 

“Probably?” 

“I dunno what the odds are of my fucking legs falling off.” Pulling the stitching tightly, she glanced up at him before turning back to her work. “I mean, I don’t plan on being in a helicopter anytime soon, and the apocalypse hasn’t started as far as I’m aware, so…” 

 

At his side, Paul’s hand lightly moved to tap on the side of the stool. “I mean, you’ve already got one zombie,” he reasoned. 

Emma snorted. “Yeah, but you don’t count.” 

 

Stitch. Pull. Loop.

 

“Why’s that?”

“I like you too much.” She said simply.

 

Stitch. Pull. Loop. 

 

Her hands were falling into a rhythm that he recognized with ease, and as he watched, the stiffness in her shoulders began to fall away, replaced with something almost relaxed. 

 

Stitch. Pull. Loop.

 

She exhaled. Her movements against his exposed skin were gentle, fingers barely even touching his leg as she worked the needle through another hole. 

 

Stitch. Pull. Loop. 

 

“I like you too, Emma.” Paul’s grip on the stool tightened. In his chest, his heart beat a bit faster.

Emma looked up, her lips curling up in a fond smile. “I know.” She teased. “You tell me that every day.” 

 

Stitch. Pull. Loop. 

 

“Do you think…” Paul started, watching Emma sew up the last few pieces of skin, “do you think next time- next time I inevitably lose another body part, I mean- you can use, I don’t know, maybe green thread? Green’s a pretty colour, right?”

“What is it with you and different coloured thread?” Emma got up briefly to retrieve scissors from the sewing kit. “Blue on your legs, yellow on your feet, red on your arms, all that. You’re like a goddamn patchwork quilt.” She tied the last bit of thread in a tight knot, then snipped off the excess with the scissors. “There. Done.” She sat back and exhaled. “How’s that feel?”

Paul hummed and flexed his foot, wiggling his toes and swinging his leg back and forth. “Much better. Thanks, Em.”

 

Emma squeezed his knee comfortingly. “You’re welcome. Love you.” She leaned up to kiss Paul on the cheek, who immediately turned red and mumbled something unintelligible. She stifled a laugh. All it took to turn Paul Matthews to putty was some soft kisses and a Love you. 

“Love you.” Paul echoed,lacing his fingers through Emma’s free hand. 

 

“Come on, up you go.” Emma rolled down Paul’s pants and helped him to his feet. “Can you walk alright?”

“I’m fine.” He took an unsteady step forward, but he didn’t collapse on the spot, so that was good enough for him. 

 

“You want a coffee? It’s on the house.” 

“Do I really have to answer that question?”

From the way that Emma laughed and lightly batted his shoulder with her hand, he took it that she knew the answer. “The usual?”

Paul grinned. “Yes, please,” he confirmed, following Emma out of the back room as she made her way to the counter, his freshly stitched leg working perfectly– thank god. It didn’t do so much as slip as he made his way to the proper side of the counter and leaned against it, watching as Emma moved with a practiced sort of ease to pour him a cup.

“Don’t know how you drink this shit,” she remarked as she carefully slid a sleeve over the paper cup, “did they just remove your sense of taste when they made you or what?”

“I like it!” Paul defended. It was a debate they’d had before– a common enough one that held no real traces of an argument. “All that shugary stuff that gets added, it… I dunno, isn’t the same.”

“As drinking mud?”

 

No.” Pausing, Paul reached forward and took the cup from her, making a show of taking a sip. “As drinking damn good coffee.”

 

The laugh that bubbled up from Emma more than made up for the fact that he burned his tongue on the drink.

Chapter Text

Since becoming a werewolf, Ethan had noticed a lot of things. 

 

That wasn’t to say he was inattentive– though he totally was– but in his defence, he hadn’t exactly been able to hear quite the same way that he could now. Even with his shitty headphones up all the way and with his head inches from the spinning blade of the table saw that had allegedly cost a few students the ends of their fingers, Ethan could still fucking hear the miserable fuck he’d been paired with breathing like a pug with asthma.

 

From on the other side of the room. 

On the other side of the room full of running machinery. 

 

That noise was bad, too, he had to admit, but it wasn’t as bad as it had been once he’d learned how to tune it out. Not to mention, the project that he was currently balls deep in was finally going his way. It was a knotted piece of wood, one that the saw threatened to bite into and wrench from his grip, but he’d managed to muscle through the worst of it and pressed his weight just a little harder against the plank. The tablesaw protested with a grating whine. 

 

He really needs to sharpen it. 

 

With a sigh, he laid off slightly. 

The noise quieted. 

Unlike the raspy breathing of the other poor fool who was trying to hammer together a drawer. No. God. That would be too easy.

 

Instead of listening to steady, certain breathing, as Ethan desperately tried to raise the volume on his headphones, blaring Green Day at the highest volume he could take without his headache getting worse, he was tasked with listening to the sound of a hammer thumping all willy-nilly against the bottom part of their project with enough force to let him know that he’d need to use an assload of sandpaper to get all the fucking dents out. It was like the kid had never seen a fucking desk before. Ever. 

 

That alone was hard enough to drown out, even with Billie Joel singing his heart out in his ears and the absolutely banging bassline that went along with Holiday, which was some bullshit– and if it had only been the asthmatic idiot in the room with him, he might’ve been able to just suck it up and deal with it, but it wasn’t just him. 

 

The whole shop was filled with noise. 

 

From the whirring of some tenth grader attempting to use one of the high power drills with the wrong sized bit to the clatter of some of the better workers rifling through Tom’s desk drawers in search of the right screws to use, the whole room was nothing short of his own personal hell. 

 

Gritting his teeth, Ethan carefully moved the ratchet he was handling to his left hand and fiddled with the volume of his phone on his right, unable to keep a small wince off his face as the music’s volume crept upward, one hand flicking to shut off the saw. 

 

That was just another thing that had changed– he was practically a walking furnace now. Already, he’d ditched the jacket that he wore like a suit of armour, and his shirt was sticking to his damp skin in places like he’d just showered, which was fucking gross, and from what little he’d managed to put together from his– mostly Oliver’s – research, it didn’t have anything to do with the heat radiating off the machine beside him. It was just his internal temperature or what the fuck ever. 

 

His jaw twitched. 

His teeth were a little too sharp. 

 

Fuck.

Breathe, Green.

 

With a shuddering inhale, he raised a hand and swatted at some of the sweat trickling down his forehead and carefully pulled the piece of wood away from the blade, blowing at the sawdust. 

It was a clean cut. 

Fuck yeah.

 

Flicking off the tablesaw without much care– the damn thing had like, a billion safety nets and failsafes if he remembered correctly anyhow– he slid the piece beside the others he’d worked through with a clatter that made him wince, though if he’d marked off all the shit he was supposed to be doing correctly

In a few strides, he crossed the room and forced himself to turn down his music as he approached his partner. Fuck’s sake. Woodshop was supposed to be a solo class. Like math, or socials if he was stubborn enough. It was supposed to be a class where he’d stay in his corner, fuck with some planks, get scolded for not wearing goggles, and create whatever the hell he wanted, but no.  

 

Tom Houston had had the brilliant idea of pairing him off with a freshman, claiming he “knew the class” or what the fuck ever, to build a desk for the kid’s… fuck, mother or something? Whatever. The details were foggy in his head, and even though he knew he probably should’ve at least attempted to work them out… he really, really couldn’t give less of a shit about the guy. 

 

But he needed at least one good grade, and since… pretty much anything else wasn’t his strong suit, here he was, awkwardly trying to figure out how to catch the kid’s attention as he stood, clothes coated with a thin, dusty film that came from wood shavings. 

 

“Hey,” he started, a cough quickly following his words thanks to all the fucking dust. “I uh… I think I cut all those out right– we could probably fit ‘em together with glue if you wanted to start shootin’ nails into the sucker and sanding.”

The boy blinked blankly. “Sucker? I don’t understand.”

 

Jesus Christ. 

 

“Ok, well–”

 

Whatever Ethan was about to say was cut short by a loud bell, signaling the end of class and the school day. He sighed in relief. Thank fuck. He left the table to gather his things and get the fuck out of there when–

 

“Hey, Ethan. Could you stay with me after class?” Tom called out, stopping Ethan in his tracks. 

 

Oh fuck.

 

Slowly he turned to face his teacher, his panicked face looking very much like he had been caught doing something lowkey illegal at 2 AM. 

 

Ethan set his backpack back down, averting his eyes as to avoid the weird stares of other students as they all filed out of the classroom. “What’s up, Mr. Houston?” 

“Come here.” Tom beckoned, and Ethan hesitantly rose to move closer. The hell does he want? 

Tom watched the last student leave his classroom, then closed the door firmly and locked eyes with a very confused Ethan.

 

“So Ethan, how are you feeling?” Tom started. 

Ethan’s brow furrowed. “Um, I’m fine.”

“Are you sure? You don’t feel sick?” Tom prodded.

“No. I’m uh, what’s the phrase? Fit as a fiddle or whatever.” Even standing up, Ethan couldn’t stop his leg from jiggling anxiously. “Why’re you asking?”

Tom shrugged. “Just wanted to check. Maybe… I dunno, are you crabby, or do you have muscle pains, or have been eating a lot recently?” 

 

Ethan’s stomach twisted into knots.

 

All of the fucking above. What the fuck.

How the hell does he know that?

 

“Damn, what are you, a doctor?” Ethan said instead with a nervous laugh.

 

Tom sighed. “Listen, I don’t like beating around the bush, so I’ll just ask you outright: Are you a werewolf? You smell like one.”

 

Every ounce of colour left Ethan’s face in an instant.

 

“What? I don’t– wait, hold on, I–” His words were jumbled and reedy, no thanks to his tight throat as panic set in.

 

Swallowing his fears, Ethan shook his head rapidly. “No no Mr. H, I’m not a werewolf. Really. Imagine me as a werewolf. Ugh.” He scoffed overdramatically. “That’d never happen. No way Jose. I’m just a regular ass human.” 

 

Neither of them were at all convinced by Ethan’s claim.

Not even Ethan, and he was the dumbass who said it.

Fuck , he’d always been a terrible liar— and from the way Tom was looking at him, he didn’t buy it. 

 

“Is that so?” Tom asked, crossing his arms as he did, though before Ethan could attempt to fix the lie, Tom continued. “Ethan, you don’t need to hide it.” He lowered his voice and leaned in. “I’m a werewolf too.” 

 

Wait, fucking what?

 

Ethan’s eyes went wide. His jaw dropped.

 

Did he really just say—

 

“You’re a what?” He squeaked. “Did you just say you’re a werewolf? Since when?”

Tom tilted his head. “Uh, since birth?” 

 

“Holy shit,” he breathed, unable to keep his absolute astonishment from showing in his voice. “I didn’t know there were others like me.” Ethan ran a hand through his hair. “Well, I know there’re like, one or two other werewolves at school, but they’re all annoying ass Chads.”

Tom’s eyebrows furrowed. “What’s a ‘Chad’?”

Ethan waved him off. “Don’t worry about it.”

 

Silence fell between them for a second, though to Ethan, it didn’t really seem like silence at all, thanks to the way his mind was racing. It was a lot to process. Tom was a werewolf — since fucking birth , apparently— and he’d just gone and fucking… what, smelled it on him? He must’ve. 

Questions churned through his mind at a breakneck pace, but before he could do so much as even think of which one to ask first, Tom beat him to the punch. 

 

“So Ethan, how’d you get–”

“Turned?” Ethan finished for him.

“...yeah, that.” 

 

“Well, uh…” Ethan's gaze lowered to his shoes. The hand that he’d dragged through his hair shifted, coming to scratch at his shoulder. Even under his jacket, even though he couldn’t fucking see it, he knew the wicked bite scar was still there— a reminder of the fact that he had been damn near close to death. 

Fuck, just thinking about it was enough to make his stomach turn.

 

“Got bitten,” he settled with, slowly, “which is the standard way of getting turned, ‘ccording to Google at least.”

 

“Do you know who bit you?” Tom pressed. 

 

Yeah.

Yeah, I sure fucking do.

 

“Um…” Ethan chewed at his lip, trying to stall for time. “Some police officer–”

“Sam?”

Ethan’s head shot up. “H-How did you know?” A pause. “Does everyone in this town know Sam?” 

 

“Considering he’s the police chief,” Tom started, “most people know Sam, yes. Not everyone is aware he’s a wolf, though. But I do.” He said rather dryly. “He’s an ass, but it’s unlike him to bite people, let alone a kid.” He scratched his beard in thought. “Did you do something to set him off– wait, does he even know he turned you?”

Ethan opened and closed his mouth a few times, trying to think of what to say. “Uh– I dunno. Sam hasn’t come after me since and it’s been a few months.” He scratched the back of his neck. “Man, I dunno how bad regular wolf bites are, but he fucked me up. Used my shoulder as a goddamn chewtoy. Thank god Lex found me, or I would’ve been a goner for sure.” He couldn’t stop the small blush growing in his cheeks even if he tried. 

 

Something in Tom’s posture changed. “Lex found you?”

“Yeah. Lex found me fairly soon after I got bitten, and did her damn best to patch me up. Even bandaged my wound and stayed with me till my ride came.” Ethan’s lips quirked up. “She helped me despite me being an easy target. ‘course, her bandaging came undone when I transformed that night and snapped my arm, but still.”

 

Tom grimaced. “You got bitten and transformed in the same night? That’s rough. First transformations are always the worst, especially if you’ve been bitten. With kids that are born werewolves, their first transformation isn’t as painful.” 

“No kidding.” Ethan scoffed. “Thought I was fuckin’ dying.”

 

“I’m glad Lex has your back. I’ve watched you two grow closer. And every time I see you outside of class, you’re with her.” A smile tugged at the corners of Tom’s mouth. 

Ethan’s grin widened. “I’m glad too.” He admitted. “She got a good head on her shoulders, even if I’m vibing with the clouds. I dunno what I’d do without her.”

 

“You know…” Tom lowered his voice even further, “nowadays, vampires and werewolves dating is generally accepted. Hell, even my girlfriend is a vampire, and we don’t get much crap for it.”

Ethan blinked. “Uh… ok. Why are you telling me this?” 

 

“Well,” Tom shifted slightly, “I don’t mean to intrude or anything, but you and Lex seem to be really hitting it off. And I just wanted to let you know that interspecies stuff is ok and–”

Ethan went bright red and cut Tom off with a ridiculous sound of incredulity. “It’s not like that!” He choked out, his voice an octave higher than usual. “She wants to be just friends. No… no romance between us, nope.” 

Tom arched an eyebrow. “ She wants or both of you want?”

“Both of us.” Ethan corrected, though he couldn’t meet Tom’s eyes. 

“Rrrright.” Tom didn’t sound like he believed Ethan in the slightest, but he didn’t press further, to which Ethan was eternally grateful for.  

 

“By the way Mr. Houston, if you’re a werewolf you have really good hearing, yeah? So how come you’re teaching shop? Just being near the buzzsaw gives me a fucking migraine.” Ethan cast an irritated look at said piece of machinery. 

“You get used to it, eventually.” Tom replied with a shrug. “Since you’re a younger wolf, your hearing and sense of smell is more sensitive than older wolves. It’s not that my hearing is gone , just that I can tune out really loud sounds better. You learn to do that with time.”

 

Suddenly, Tom’s eyes widened. “Oh! Hey, Ethan.” He put a hand on the teenager’s shoulder. “If you’re ever struggling with wolf things, you can always come to me and I’ll help you out. I can teach you a few tricks, how to manage being a werewolf properly, that sort of stuff. Going at this alone is really difficult, but I’m here for you.” He offered a gentle smile. 

 

Ethan’s eyes shone. “So you’ll be like, my wolf mentor or some shit?”

“Sure thing, kid. Swear by the full moon.” Tom squeezed Ethan’s shoulder. “Just, uh…”

 

Lowering his voice a little conspiratorially in a way that Ethan didn’t have to strain in the slightest to hear, Tom glanced around the empty classroom momentarily before his eyes met Ethan’s once more. “Can we uh… keep this between us?” He questioned. “I mean hey, the schoolboard knows, but if word gets out to the students—”

Ethan interrupted with an exhale and a shake of his head. “No, got it. If I tell, you’ve got full permission to like, were-out me or whatever.”

 

With a crooked grin, he stepped away from Tom and shouldered his backpack, spinning on a heel even as he heard Tom’s voice slipping into a slightly more exasperated tone.

“Ethan—”

“Oh! Or catch me una- were ! Though that sounds kinda weird in hindsight, actually—”

Ethan—

Ethan didn’t do so much as hesitate. He didn’t break stride. Instead, he continued toward the door with a smug smirk on his face and his chest puffed out ever so slightly.

“–though hey, whatever. Talk to me whenever, were- ever—”

 

“Ethan, your teeth are gonna were-out you before I even get the chance.”

Halfway out the door, Ethan froze in place for a moment. Shit. Tom was right. Prodding at the wicked points of his teeth with his tongue, he glanced over his shoulder at the other wolf and narrowed his eyes.

 

The fact that he hadn’t placed Tom as a wolf before was fucking sad.

The dude oozed werewolf vibes. Fuck’s sake— he had a scruffy beard and a flannel , he embodied the lumberjack-werewolf-whatever aesthetic. Sure, there was a joke going around that he was the Hatchetfield Ape Man, but a werewolf made way more sense than a glorified monkey.

 

With a sigh, Ethan scratched the back of his neck. “Got a trick for that, Mr. H?” He asked, sheepishly. 

Tom gave an almost fond huff in response. “You know what?” He asked, brushing a hand over a sawdust covered table, “you’ll figure it out.”

 


 

Ethan did not, in fact, figure it out, because Tom Houston had lied to him when he’d said that.

Fucker.

 

Keeping his mouth closed while he walked home was way harder than it had any right to be.

 

Fucking hell— even when a kid who walked way too slowly to not have some sort of medical condition cut in front of him and he ended up following the guy down the street at a fucking snail’s pace thanks to the narrow sidewalk, he hadn’t been able to do so much as politely as him to move over.

 

Not that he was really one for asking politely.

But still.

 

If he’d wanted to turn over a new leaf and be nice to the turtle-hybrid fuck, he wouldn’t have been able to, thanks to the fangs threatening to jut out past his lips whenever he did so much as change his facial expression.

 

Which sucked, but it sucked considerably less than the fact that— as much as he was sort of a liar— Tom Houston was a pretty chill dude for a werewolf who had somehow managed to shut off his ears in order to teach a shop class.

 

What were the fucking odds that someone Ethan interacted with on a nearly daily basis was also a werewolf? Ollie was a wizard and Lex a vampire, but everyone else Ethan knew was a human. 

 

That he was aware of, anyways.

 

Kicking at the sidewalk, he raked his nails through his hair and sighed. Jesus, he’d forgotten how fucking long the walk back to Henry’s was. Seriously, did the dude have to live so far out of town? Grocery runs for him were so much of a nightmare that Ethan was fairly certain he’d gotten one of his students to do them for him– how the hell he had managed to convince someone to do so in the first place was fucking beyond Ethan. Henry wasn’t exactly Mr. Charismatic. (And, based on the number of successful dates in the past few decades, he wasn’t a fucking Casanova either.)  

 

Despite the long drive and even longer walk, Ethan found himself going to Henry’s house more than his own house. His parents were away a lot- Mom working 60 hours a week to put food on the table and Dad tinkering in his damn body shop. But Uncle Henry rarely left the house, except for going out to teach classes at that shitty local community college. And Henry didn’t mind letting Ethan eat dinner with him and Oliver, or staying the night. He even had a guest room prepared for Ethan so he didn’t have to sleep on the couch. Henry’s house was big and spacious, albeit with weird architecture for the 21st century, while Ethan’s house was the opposite. Even though there were only 3 people living there, it was tiny. The kitchen, living room and dining room were all the same room, and Ethan’s own bedroom was cramped. 

Not the best place to be when being forcibly transformed into a hulking 200 pound beast every month. 

 

What if I move in with Henry instead?

 

Ethan’s grimace deepened, and he kicked at a rock at the side of the road. Don’t be fucking ridiculous, Green. Move in to your Uncle’s? I mean, sure, Ollie did it, but that’s ‘cause his mom couldn’t take care of him. Living with Uncle would be cool, but it’s not like we’re close. He doesn’t even know I’m a werewolf.

 

Ethan paused.

 

...right.

I should probably tell him I’m a werewolf.

Like, now.

 

There were only three people who knew of Ethan’s affliction- Oliver, Lex, and now Tom- and while Ethan preferred to have as few people know about it as possible, he supposed Henry should know too. 

 

Sighing, Ethan shoved his headphones in his ears and hit shuffle on his music app. Might as well listen to music to pass the time and quell the nervous knots forming in his stomach.

 

“In touch with the ground

I'm on the hunt, I'm after you

Smell like I sound, I'm lost in a crowd

And I'm hungry like the wolf”

 

Ethan snorted. “Oh, fuck off. Very funny.” He pressed skip with an irritated huff. 

 

The knots twisted tighter.

 

Goddammit. 

 


 

By the time Ethan arrived at Henry’s, it was already fairly late in the afternoon. Even 2 cigarette breaks along the way couldn’t stop his hands from shaking slightly as he unlocked the front door.

 

“Yo Ollie, where’s Uncle?” Ethan called, stepping into the entranceway.

 

No response.

 

“Oliver?” Ethan peeked into the living room, which was strangely empty. He frowned. Quickly he whipped out his phone.

 

Ethan (6:13): Ollieee 

Ethan (6:13): were r u rn

Ethan (6:13): or as that Shake-dude in my english class said, were for art thow

Ollie (6:17): Jesus Christ.

Ollie (6:17): *Wherefore art thou

 

Ethan could practically picture Oliver’s eye roll.

 

Ollie (6:18): I’m at Beanie’s, studying. I have a test tomorrow. I don’t feel like being bullied today, so please don’t bother me.

Ethan (6:19): 1, i wasnt gonna bully u damn

Ethan (6:19): 2, i just wanna no were Unc is

Ollie (6:19): *know *where

Ethan (6:20): sure that

Ollie (6:21): Good God. Last time I checked, Henry was in his library. 

Ethan (6:22): thx lmao

Ollie (6:22): You’re welcome. Also, would it kill you to have proper grammar while typing? It’s distracting. 

Ethan (6:23): idfk what ur talkin bout im not bad at gramar ur just gooder at it than i am

Ollie (6:23): I hate you. 

Ethan (6:24): luv u 2 

Ollie (6:24): Cease and desist, or I’m going to block you.

 

With a self-satisfied smirk, Ethan shoved his phone back in his pocket and strolled into the library where, sure enough, Henry was seated on a well-worn leather chair, reading some ridiculously thick book. 

 

Ethan balled his hands into fists and closed his eyes momentarily before clearing his throat. Here goes nothin’. 

 

“Hey, Uncle Henry…”

 

Henry looked up from the book. “Yes, Ethan?”

 

“I uh…” Ethan shifted uncomfortably. Fuck, this was so much easier in my head. “I have something to tell you.” 

Henry pushed up his reading glasses to perch atop his head, the thin frames nearly blending in with his silver hair. “Oh?” 

 

“I’ve been sittin’ on this for a while now– couple of months actually. I prolly should’ve told you sooner but it’s ya know, not the easiest thing to say so…” Ethan shrugged and stuffed his hands in his pockets, trying his damn best to keep eye contact and not just stare at the floor. “Henry, I–”

 

“Have a girlfriend?” Henry finished for him.

Ethan did a double-take. “What? No!” 

“Have a boyfriend?” Henry tried again.

“Also no!” 

 

“Alright, alright.” Henry dog-eared his current page, then put his book aside. “Seems I was a bit hasty. What were you going to say?”

 

Ethan took a deep breath. No backing out of this one. “Uncle Henry, I’m a werewolf.”

 

Henry blinked. “I’m aware.” He said bluntly. “So am I.”

 

Ethan’s stomach dropped.

“Fucking what?”

 

“I share your affliction, my dear boy. I’m a werewolf as well.” Henry clarified, still strangely calm. 

 

“How,” Ethan’s throat went dry, “how long have you known? Did Ollie tell you?”

 

Henry waved his hand in dismissal. “No, Oliver said nothing.” He adjusted his glasses. “Young man, I may be old, but my nose still somewhat works. When scratch marks appeared on my floor out of the blue– yes, I did notice, that rug suddenly appearing 15 feet away from its usual spot did nothing but further my suspicions– and there was a sudden distinct werewolf smell in the house whenever you came over, it didn’t take a genius to connect the dots and realise that you’re a werewolf. And now my hypothesis has been proven.” He wore a smug smile which very much reminded Ethan of Velma from Scooby Doo after catching an idiotic villain. 

 

“And you… you didn’t bother to tell me?” Ethan asked in disbelief. “Are you fucking serious?! All this time, I thought I was alone. It’s been fucking months , but now I find out that my own fucking family is like me, yet you didn’t say anything!” He could feel his nails sharpening and digging into his palms, but he ignored it. “How do I even know you’re serious and you’re not just fucking with me, huh?” 

 

Ethan knew he was irrationally angry, but he couldn’t help it. He almost felt betrayed, in some weird way. If Uncle Henry really was a werewolf, he could’ve of helped Ethan out when he was struggling with… werewolf things, but no.

 

Henry frowned, seemingly just realising Ethan was upset. “I’m not fucking with you, Ethan.” He persisted. He put his glasses on top of the book, then stood up with a sigh. “But if you really want proof…”

 

It happened in a blink of an eye.

 

Gone was Henry Hidgens. Instead, a wolf stood where he once had been, its tail slowly wagging back and forth. 

Its fur was fine and silvery, save for faint jagged black lines branching across its neck and back. It was slender, though not emaciated, and as it opened its mouth, a row of sharp white fangs flashed, shining even in the dim light. 

 

“What the fuck?!” Ethan gasped, stumbling back. 

 

“See?” The voice that came out of the wolf was undeniably Henry’s, albeit with a deeper growl accompanying his words. “I’m not fucking with you.” He repeated. “I assume this is proof enough for you?”

 

“Wha– How did you- how the hell did you do that?” Ethan sputtered. “You just changed right here! Didn’t need to get angry or look at the full moon or nothing! The fuck!” 

“I’ve been a werewolf for decades. Longer than I’ve been isolation, actually. You tend to pick up on some things.” Henry’s tail swished a little faster now. 

 

Ethan exhaled, trying to calm himself. Breathe, Ethan, breathe. “But you weren’t… born as a werewolf, were you?” 

Henry shook his head. “No. Though it has been many years. Nearly 40 years ago my humanity was stolen from me. Things were very different then.” Already he was getting that far off look in his eyes that Ethan knew quite well; the look where he was about to start a wack ass monologue that lasted for-fucking-ever. 

 

“40 years? Wow, you’re ancient , Uncle Hen!” Ethan said a little too loudly, mostly trying to distract Henry from telling his whole fucking life story. 

It worked. Henry’s ears pressed flat against his head and his nose wrinkled. “I’m not ancient!” He snapped. “I’m… a man of mature age!” 

“Sure you’re ‘mature’. You’re not a Pornhub category, man. You’re just fucking old.” Ethan deadpanned. 

The growl Henry emitted made Ethan immediately raise his hands in defense and step back. “Kidding, kidding! You’re not that old!” Ethan rushed. 

“Damn right.” Henry’s tail thrashing slowed down a little, and he stood a little straighter. 

 

“I just… fuck, why didn’t you tell me, Uncle Henry?” Ethan ran a hand through his hair. “I thought I could at least fucking trust you, like sure we’re not best buds or anything but you’re still family and,” his voice wobbled a little as his brow furrowed further, “I was even gonna ask to move in but now–

 

“You wanted to move in?”

 

Ethan froze.

 

Shit.

Did I say that out loud?

 

“I…” Ethan swallowed hard, his throat suddenly dry. “I mean, you live in a fucking bunker. I didn’t wanna accidentally fuck up my parents’ house in case I turn at a bad moment. And I’m over here a lot, so…” He kept his eyes trained on the ground, finding himself unable to look Henry in the eye. “I dunno, it was a stupid idea. Fucking forget it.” 

 

“No!”

 

Ethan looked up.

 

Though Henry lacked his regular human face, his wolf form was still able to display plenty of emotion. “Ethan,” he started, “While you are correct in that we are not ‘best buds’, I still do care about you.” His voice was surprisingly gentle. “We are family. And while analysing other people’s emotions isn’t exactly my strong point, I do know this: Your mother- my sister- and your father do love you. They might not be around a lot, but they’re smart enough to know that if you did decide to leave them… it’d be for a good reason.” 

Ethan’s lip trembled slightly. “...You think they won’t get mad?”

Henry shook his head. “No. Your parents want you to be safe, and to be quite honest, my bunker is really the safest place you could be in Hatchetfield. I built it to survive the apocalypse; hosting 2 werewolves should be no problem. And just so you know,” He moved a little closer, “just like I did with Oliver… I’d welcome you with open arms.” 

 

“R-really?” Ethan hated himself for stuttering.

“Really. By the light of the full moon, I swear it.” Henry promised. 

 

If this was a sappy movie, Ethan would have tackled his Uncle in a happy hug.

But this was not a sappy movie.

 

Ethan did, however, give his Uncle a soft, sincere smile. “Thanks, Henry.” 

 

“Of course.” And just like that, Henry transformed back into a human, looking rather unbothered with not a hair out of place. 

 

“When can I learn to transform at will?” Ethan asked curiously. “I’ve only been able to shift ‘cause of the moon or when I’m angry, and both are involuntary.” 

“Depends on how fast of a learner you are.” Henry said, putting his reading glasses back on. “I’m afraid I’m not very connected to the werewolf youth nowadays. If it is common knowledge for younger werewolves, I’m not aware. Certainly not when I was young. Perhaps I could teach you–”

 

“Nah, I already got a wolf mentor.” Ethan interrupted.

 

Henry looked frankly offended.

 

“What the fuck?” He whipped off his glasses dramatically. “Who? I’ve been a werewolf for over 3 decades. I probably know more–”

“He’s 40-something and was born a werewolf. He’s been one his entire life. That’s more than you.” Ethan bit back a smirk at Henry’s disgruntled pout.

“Alright, fine. But I have more knowledge. I’m a professor and–”

“He’s a teacher too! We’ve already had this argument, professor is just a fancy college word for teacher, Professor Hidgens .”

“Young man, would you quit interrupting me for one goddamn second?” Henry clenched his jaw tightly. 

“Sorry.” 

 

Goddamn, I forgot how scary Unc can get when he’s pissed. 

 

 “Ethan.” Henry closed his eyes and inhaled. “Here is an indisputable werewolf fact for you: Werewolves are fiercely protective of their packs. And since you are my blood kin, you are in my pack. Therefore I strongly suggest that you leave the teaching,” He put a hand on his chest for emphasis, “to me.” 

 

From the tone his uncle was delivering the words in, Ethan knew he wasn’t exactly supposed to say anything other than yes, Uncle Henry. 

 

But Ethan Green was a stubborn bitch. 

 

Setting his jaw and sticking his hands into his pockets, chest puffing out slightly, he narrowed his eyes. “I actually already knew that, Uncle Henry,” he drawled. “Google’s a wonderful thing, and ‘werewolves have packs’ is on every single damn ‘basic werewolf facts’ list out there. And I would’a let you be my teach, but… well, to be honest, maybe if you had told me, your ‘blood kin’, that you were a wolf earlier instead of waiting… gee, I dunno several months , maybe I wouldn't have to go to someone else to learn how to fucking live.”

 

Henry’s face fell. “I… I see.” 

 

Wait, does he actually feel… guilty? 

 

Guilt wasn’t exactly an emotion Henry often felt. Not that Ethan was like, an expert on how his uncle was feeling at any given time– his face was usually the only straight thing about him– and even when he did emote, it seemed almost like he was acting from how… over the top his expressions tended to be, but this?

From the mix of small details– the slight furrow of his brow, the way his gaze slipped to the floor, the fact that his head sank toward his shoulders– it looked genuine

 

...shit.

 

Even though there was still anger bubbling in his chest, Ethan forced it back and raised a hand, running his fingers through his hair. “I just… I don’t understand why you didn’t tell me ,” he finally mumbled. “I mean, shit, Hen, I… not gonna lie, I was fuckin’ scared, y’know, when it happened…”

Henry winced. “...first transformation was rough, I’m assuming?” 

A bitter laugh pulled from Ethan’s throat. Still standing stiffly, letting his hand fall at his side, he pulled his lips back slightly. “Sure fuckin’ was. If you’ve been a werewolf for so long, why don’t you tell me?”

 

“Ethan, I…”

 

The way his name was said caused him to bite down hard on the inside of his cheek to keep from snapping out a what in response. Instead, he settled for a cold glare. 

 

Not that Henry saw it. He was too busy inspecting the floor. “I’m starting to realize,” he finally mumbled, the lack of his usual… flair or what the fuck ever enough to make a bit more of that tension drain from Ethan’s shoulders.

 

He’s really serious.

 

“That I came across as… perhaps a bit… avoidant of the situation.” He finished tentatively. Shifting how he sat, the older wolf gave a tired sigh. “I assumed you’d come clean about it when you were ready, and I didn’t want to pressure you if you weren't wanting me to know, or…” Trailing off, he met Ethan’s eyes. “I don’t know, Ethan, I just thought you’d talk to me.”

 

Ethan bit his lip. Hard. 

Fuck, the old guy wasn’t going to make this easy, was he? 

 

Bunching his fingers into a fist in a pocket, Ethan could feel the tightness in his chest loosening– though it still remained to an extent, making his breaths seem just a tad too sharp. “...how the hell was I supposed to know I could?” He couldn’t keep his voice from rising slightly as he spoke. “I mean, shit , I had no idea! I— there are a whole lotta people who don’t fuckin, y’know, like people like us, and I didn’t— I had no idea if you were one of them!”

The words poured from him in a rush, and when he finally stopped to breathe again, he shoved his fingers through his hair, turning to pace a few steps in the other direction. “I mean, fucking hell , Oliver took it well-ish after I scared the shit out of him, but I had no idea what your whole deal would be.”

 

Again, Henry winced. He couldn’t seem to hold Ethan’s gaze– eyes shifting right back down to the book sitting in his lap as he ran his fingers along the edge of the cover, picking a little at a loose page. “...I see,” he mumbled again, lamely. “I… suppose I could’ve been a bit more confrontational with you, but you must understand, things have changed since I got bitten, and I didn’t know how you’d take it if I just told you I knew what you were going through, you understand? I still remember what it was like when my—”

He paused. 

Lowered his head.

Coughed, just slightly.

“...a dear friend of mine,” he corrected, softly, “pointed out my lycanthropy. I was terrified. Thought he was going to turn me in— supernaturals weren’t taken too kindly to, then, and to be someone such as myself on top of a wolf, well…” He spread his hands. “I’m fairly certain you can guess how that would go.”

 

It was Ethan’s turn to break eye contact. 

 

...fuck. 

I didn’t think of that.

 

Damn it, why hadn’t he paid attention in social studies more often? This was something that affected him now, too, and it had sure as hell shown up in his google searches on werewolves— it hadn’t even crossed his fucking mind that it was something Henry would’ve lived through. 

It must’ve shown on his face.

 

Henry offered him a tight-lipped smile. “ But, I suppose I could’ve been a bit better with you. I’ll… try not to make that mistake again in the future.”

“I’d like that.” Ethan matched his tight smile, but felt his shoulders relax a little. 

 

Henry opened his mouth, probably to say more sappy shit, when the sound of a nearby door opening distracted them both.

“Oh, that’s prolly Ollie.” Ethan muttered. Suddenly, he straightened up with a mischievous grin. “Wait, I have an idea. Gotta go, see ya Henry.” With that he left for the living room, leaving a rather confused Henry behind.

 


 

Ethan better not fucking be here.

It was the first thought on his mind as he hung his coat up on the rack and kicked off his shoes, and although it probably wasn’t the nicest one to be having about his older cousin, he was fairly certain that it was more than a little bit deserved, seeing as every fucking time Ethan showed up in the Hidgens household, he was there to make Oliver’s life into a living hell. 

His car wasn’t in the driveway, and he probably wouldn’t have walked here, maybe he—

 

“Heya Ollie.”

 

Oliver yelped in surprise, nearly dropping his bag as he whirled around to face a widely grinning Ethan. “Christ Ethan, you scared me!” Oliver put a hand over his beating heart. “I thought you’d be gone by now. Are you staying the night?”

“Mmm, funny you should mention that, lil cuz.” Ethan leaned against the wall, his smile never faltering. “There’s been a change of plans. From now on, I’ll be staying the night here, every night.”

 

Oliver paled.

What?” He choked, at which Ethan gave an enthusiastic nod. 

 

“That’s right!” He agreed, standing and taking a step closer to Oliver. “You got a new roommate now.” Ethan pointed at himself with both thumbs. “So instead of being around here some of the time, I’ll be around here all of the time.”

 

“You can’t be serious.”

 

“Oh, but I am!” Taking what looked to be great pleasure in Oliver’s obvious horror, his older cousin gave a small laugh. “I mean, I’m already over here a lot, so I asked Uncle Hen if I could move in, and the bastard actually said yes! Can you believe it?”

“No, I can’t.” Oliver replied, staring at his hands blankly.  

“Well you better believe it.” Ethan mimicked his Uncle’s dramatic speaking, drawing a groan from Oliver. 

No ,” he said again, “you’re not going to be my fucking roommate —”

 

“But think of the upsides, Ollie!” Ethan patted Oliver’s shoulder, who visibly recoiled. “We can carpool to school together,”

“We both have our own cars, we don’t need to carpool.”

“Help each other out with homework during study time,”

“You don’t even fucking do homework!”

“Eat every meal with each other,”

“With your table manners? I’d rather not.”

“Play more video games together,”

“Last time we played Mario Kart, you slammed your shoulder into me so hard I had a bruise for weeks just because I was winning. I’m not doing that again.”

“And all other sorts of fun shit! It’ll be great!” Ethan finished. 

 

The colour drained from Oliver’s face. 

No. 


God, this was like, his worst nightmare , surely he was dreaming, right? Pinching the back of his hand, inwardly pleading with himself to just wake up already , Oliver forced himself to inhale and meet Ethan’s eyes. “You’re just fucking with me,” he croaked, more to himself than anyone else. 

Ethan raised his hands defensively. “Now why the hell would I go and joke about something as important as—”

 

Uncle! ” Oliver interrupted, raising his voice to shout in the direction of the library,  “Is Ethan really moving in?”

Please no.

Please, please, please no.

“Possibly, yes.” Came Henry’s reply from the other room.

 

“Oh… oh no.” Oliver stumbled over to the living room couch, the reality of the situation hitting him like a punch to the gut. “Oh, n-no, no—”

 

“Arentcha excited, cuz?” Ethan asked teasingly, sitting on the sidearm of the couch.

 

Oliver didn’t bother to reply. Instead, he just grabbed the nearest pillow, clamped it over his face, and screamed into it.

 

Beside him, Ethan gave a laugh. “Me too, Ollie. Me too.” 



Chapter Text

It had been 4 months since Lex and Ethan had met, and they were closer than ever.

They were constantly together, both inside school and outside, whether it be skipping class to smoke together or hanging out whenever their schedules allowed it.

Well. Not together like that

Definitely not.

Just friends.

 

Lex wasn’t even sure Ethan had feelings for her. Sure, he complimented her a lot and was very gentlemanly and got easily flustered around her but maybe he was just like that, you know? He was a fucking dork. Maybe that’s just how he treats girls in general.

It’s not like Lex did anything super special to deserve his attraction. Besides saving his life. 

 

Still. 

 

But with the final days of junior year finally coming to an end and summer vacation creeping closer, that meant more free time to spend together. 

 

Like now, for instance. It was the last week of school, and both Lex and Ethan were dutifully skipping studying for finals to fuck around in a field at like midnight, smoking through a pack of cigs by themselves and complaining about life. 

 

“You know, now that I think about it, I’ve never seen you as a wolf.” Lex said out of the blue, tapping out the last of her cigarette by her side. “We’ve known each other for months, but I still haven’t seen your other side.”

 

Ethan froze. 

 

“I… don’t think you’d like that side.” He mumbled. 

“Oh yeah? Why not?”

 

“I dunno, it’s…” He waved his cig in the air with a shrug. “Not many people have seen it in general. Ollie has, though under less than ideal circumstances, so has Uncle, and…” He frowned, and twisted his mouth to the side, hesitating. “...Yeah. That’s it. So uh, guess it’s a family exclusive thing.”

 

Lex pouted.  “Ok, true. Still, we’re pretty close, aren’t we? We hang out all the damn time and text everyday.”

“It’s just…” Ethan shifted uncomfortably. “I dunno, wolf Ethan ain’t like regular Ethan.”

“Do you think wolf Ethan would attack me?” Lex raised an eyebrow. 

Ethan paled. “What?! No! Of course not! I’d never attack you, Lex! Never ever!” 

“Thought not.” She placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Eth, I trust you. And while if you really don’t want to I won’t pressure you, I would like to see all sides of you. You’re my best friend.” 

Ethan’s shoulders slumped. “Fine. You sure?” 

“Positive.” 

 

“You’ve gotta promise you ain’t gonna be scared,” Ethan started, bluntly, tugging his jacket off in a way that made Lex more than acutely aware of the muscle twitching just under his thin shirt– shit don’t think about that– with his every movement.  “‘Cause if you call animal control on my ass, I swear, I’m gonna lose my shit–”

 

Lex swatted him before he had time to finish. “ Okay,” she huffed. Raising one hand, she pressed it to the left side of her chest and rolled her eyes, lowering her head slightly as she did. I promise.” 

The words came out in a drawl.

 

Ethan didn’t seem convinced. His fingers twitched lightly on the jacket, holding it just a little too tightly for it to be something she could brush off, and as she watched his hands, she swore his nails looked sharper.

 

Like the animal under his skin was already itching to burst free. 

 

“Cross my heart,” she added, tracing a quick ‘x’ over her chest, “and all that bullshit– I’m not gonna get scared when you show me your fursona.”

 

Ethan’s hackles raised. 

It was an argument they’d had before– and every single time she brought it up, without fail, his eyes would narrow and a low, exasperated groan would tug from his throat, and today was no different. 

“It’s not–”

“It’s you as a furry fucking creature–”

“We’ve fucking been over this.” Ethan pinched the bridge of his nose. “Do you want to see it or not?” 

 

Abruptly, Lex snapped her mouth shut. 

It took every last bit of restraint she could muster to swallow the remark on her tongue. 

 

“...I wanna see.”

 

Ethan shot her a smirk. Dropping his jacket and dragging his fingers through his hair, he gave a sigh. “Kinda thought you’d say that,” he mumbled, for a moment, genuinely sounding almost reluctant to go through with it, though before she could question him, he gave a sharp nod. “Okay.”

“...okay?” Lex echoed. 

 

Again, Ethan’s head bobbed in an easy nod. “Yeah, should be good to– wait, shit.” 

“What?”

“I like this shirt.”

“And?”

“And it’s not shapeshifter proof. So it’d prolly be torn to shreds if I shifted with it on.” 

 

Lex’s gaze flicked down to the ratty graphic tee he was wearing, eyebrows raising a smidge. It was some band logo she wouldn’t be able to name if someone put a gun to her head– probably some indie or punk group Ethan would chat her ear off about later. 

 

“Then take it off?” 

 

Ethan rolled his eyes. “Uh, yeah.” Moving quickly, he hooked his fingers under the bottom of the shirt and lifted it enough for her to make out the soft strip of skin that marked his stomach, and when he pulled, the soft curves turned sharp, revealing more bare skin–

 

Fucking hell.

 

Fuckkk.

 

Ethan Green worked out.

 

She knew he fucking worked out. It wasn’t like he bragged about it or anything, but with arms like the ones he had? The dude totally did weights at the very fucking least, and judging by the rest of him, he had a damn good routine figured out for himself. His arms weren’t the only toned part of him, no, his stomach muscles were well defined too, the pale light of the moon making them look even more pronounced. His sharp Adonis belt peeked out from the waistband of his dark pants. Lex had only seen him shirtless once before– on the night they met to be specific, right before he flipped out and everything went to shit– and from what she could tell, he had only gotten buffer. Whether that was part of his werewolf powers or simply a new routine she didn’t know, but she wasn’t complaining either way. 

 

I am looking respectfully. 

 

Ethan tossed his shirt aside on the ground on top of his jacket. He stretched, reaching his arms up behind his head with a grunt and rocking back on the balls of his feet. 

 

Damn, even his forearms are fucking muscular–

 

Nope. Nope nope nopeity-nope, look away Lex.

Friends. That’s it. He’s not a model to drool over, even if he is ripped. Control your thirst. Bloodthirst and… whatever thirst this is. 

 

Lex forced herself to look at the ground. 

She wanted to look up.

But she couldn’t. 

 

Her cheeks felt uncomfortably warm.

 

“Transformations aren’t as bad as the first time nowadays. Not when I control them, anyways. ‘course, can’t control when I shift cuz of the moon, but nobody can.” Ethan said, oblivious to Lex’s internal “ Oh no, he’s hot” conflict. 

 

“R-Right,” Lex brought herself to stutter out, coughing a few times in an attempt to cover the fact that her entire fucking face was as red as it could be– which honestly wasn’t much, thank fuck for having almost no blood in her body– and to avert her eyes. 

Thank god Ethan was fucking oblivious. 

 

As he was standing there with his hair slightly mussed up from tugging his shirt over his head, Lex met his eyes— just his eyes fuck’s sake don’t be a creep— and offered him a lame thumbs up. 

 

That seemed to be all the reassurance he needed, because in front of her, Ethan Green started to change. 

 

His eyes went first— pupils snapping into thin slits, and before Lex could even process that— he doubled over. 

 

Something in his back popped , then snapped, his form bending forward in a way it never should have been able to, and in the moments that passed before he sank to the ground entirely, Lex could actually see muscle rising under his skin— twisting and slithering against his bones in a mess of waves that looked as though they were trying to rip him apart from the inside out. 

 

She blinked. 

 

In the second she did, fur sprouted along his exposed skin. A bone cracked, and seconds later, claws broke from his fingertips, forced out from within like scissors through wrapping paper, though she barely had time to even look at that before she turned her attention to his face that was now an elongated, furred snout

His features stretched.

His expression contorted. 

His ears lengthened. 

His back hunched. 

Lex couldn’t pull her eyes away as more and more of the Ethan she knew fell into the form of an enormous, wolven creature– god, he’d been muscular before, but this was on a new level entirely . The fur bedecking his body was thick, growing in patches that rapidly covered any exposed areas of his skin that bled through the mess of browns and rich, deep blacks– a pair of zigzagging strips that settled on his front looking oddly like the lapels of a certain jacket she’d borrowed. 

Even though it only took seconds, there was so much to take in that it left her absolutely reeling from it all even as the last of the transformation finished up with a couple of heavy sounding crunches that could’ve been joints popping or organs rearranging or–

Fuck, he said it didn’t hurt, right?

From the way his breathing was turning heaver– harsher– a long, pink tongue slipping from his jaws lined with wickedly sharp teeth– and the fact that his legs were still settling into place, bending and cracking under the weight of a creature far too heavy for them to support– she was going to go out on a limb and say he’d been bullshitting her. 

It was just fucking jarring , something she couldn’t quite tear her eyes away from yet something she didn’t want to see all at the same fucking time– something she knew she wasn’t meant to be seeing. 

 

And then it was over. 

 

Lex’s breath caught in her throat.

 

In Ethan’s place stood a wolf, its thick fur dark like the night sky and eyes a piercing blue. One paw was pure black, and his left ear maintained its tiny earring. It was almost as tall as Lex, even when it lowered its head and tucked in its tail. It almost seemed… nervous, for some reason. 

 

Oh. My. God.

 

Puppy.

 

“Ethan…” She breathed. “Can… can I pet you?”

 

The wolf– Ethan– tilted its head in confusion, yet didn’t move as Lex slowly inched closer. Rather, it looked more perplexed that Lex didn’t immediately fucking bolt the moment she laid eyes on it.

 

Carefully, Lex placed her hand in between the wolf’s ears and smoothed it down it’s back, feeling the surprisingly soft fur. All the tension left its body in an instant, and a soft, happy whine sounded in the back of its throat.

 

“Good boy.” The endearment fell from her lips without realising it as she moved to scratch behind Ethan’s ear, who pressed firmly against her hand. 

 

Suddenly, the wolf– Ethan, god, that’s fucking weird to think about– ran his tongue up her cheek in a giant lick, smearing drool on her face. Lex gave a startled laugh, yet that only motivated her to pet Ethan even more. 

“Look at you. You’re not scary at all.” She raised her other hand to scratch at the wolf’s chest. “Wait– oh my god, your paw– ” She noticed Ethan’s left paw and grinned. “It’s black– like your one glove, right? Damn, even your weird fashion choices transfer over to your wolf form.” She playfully flicked the plastic earring, rubbing the velvety soft tips of his ears lightly, and was rewarded with more excited licks. 

 

Can’t believe he thought I’d be scared. He’s just a giant puppy. 

 

Ethan batted the hand on his chest away. Lex’s eyebrows drew together, afraid she did something wrong, when–

 

Ethan rolled onto his back, exposing his fluffy belly. One paw gently poked Lex’s arm, as if saying Come on, give me pats already. 

 

Lex was more than happy to oblige. 

 

“So soft.” She praised, rubbing her hand over the thick fur on his stomach. She had never touched a werewolf, nor a regular wolf, so she had no idea if regular wolves’ fur was this fluffy or if this was just a werewolf thing. It didn’t really matter now– not when Ethan was looking at Lex like that, his tongue lolling out of his mouth and his leg twitching adorably as Lex scritched a certain spot. 

“God, you made it out to seem like you were this big hulking monster, but you’re just a fucking fluff ball.” She half laughed. Ethan licked her knee in reply.

 

Lex’s eyes darted to the side, where she saw…

 

Wait a minute.

 

A stick.

 

Slowly Lex picked up the stick, and waved it slightly to catch Ethan’s attention. “Hey, look what I got here.” His ears perked up. “You want it?” His tail thumped excitedly, and his head bobbed as if nodding. 

“Go get it!” Lex hurled the stick across the field, biting her lip in a vain attempt to conceal her goofy grin.

 

Ethan’s response was instantaneous. 

 

Lex didn’t even throw it very far yet he was back in an instant, holding the stick in his mouth in front of Lex, tail wagging so goddamn hard it was fucking kicking up dust.

 

Goddammit. I can’t handle this.

 

Lex held out her hand expectantly. “Stick?” On cue, Ethan dropped the already drool covered stick in her hand. “Good boy. Now let’s see you fetch this .”

Reeling back, Lex threw the stick as hard and far as she could possibly throw. Ethan barked happily and shot off, almost tripping over himself in excitement. 

 

“Holy shit, werewolves play fucking fetch.” Lex ran a hand through her hair, laughing to herself a little in disbelief.

Never thought she’d say those words out loud, but here we are.

 

She barely had any time to ponder that further before Ethan was already back, the stick clamped between his sharp jaws. He nudged Lex’s side, big blue eyes gazing up at her expectantly, and dropped the stick at her feet.

 

“Damn, that was fast.” Lex marveled, scratching Ethan’s ear as a reward. His tail wagging sped up, and without warning accidentally thwacked the back of Lex’s leg.

 

“Ow!” 

 

It didn’t really hurt that much, and the noise was more one of complaint than true pain, but it was enough to make Ethan’s tail stop immediately. His ears flipped back, and a low, pitiful whine sounded in his throat.

 

“Hey, don’t be sad. You didn’t hurt me. It was just a little thump.” Lex soothed, noticing Ethan’s sorrow. “It’s o– WOAH!”

 

Ethan suddenly pounced on Lex, knocking her to the ground and pinning her there.

 

Now, normally being tackled by a werewolf is not a good thing.

Normally, being tackled by a werewolf leads to injuring, maiming, or death

Normally, it’d be something to be very much afraid of.

 

But it was a bit hard for Lex to be afraid of the werewolf on top of her chest when he was apparently determined to give her dozens upon dozens of I’m sorry, are you ok? licks all over her damn face. 

“Ethan, Ethan, i-it’s ok, I’m fine– hey, that tickles!” Lex assured him, barely able to get the words out between enthusiastic face licks. 

 

Eventually Ethan’s kisses slowed, and he plopped down next to Lex, curling around her body and nuzzling her neck affectionately. Lex raised a hand to gently stroke in between his ears.

 

For the first time in a long, long time, Lex Foster felt warm.

 


 

Hannah missed feeling warm. 

 

She missed being able to step out into the sunshine, feel its warmth on her skin.

 

Nowadays, if she stepped out into the sunshine, it could literally kill her.

 

Never go outside without sunscreen. Never ever. Even if it’s rainy, put a little on just in case. If you go into the sun without sunscreen, within a few hours you’ll be fucking cooked like a goddamn roast chicken. Always. Wear. Sunscreen. 

Lex had drilled that into Hannah’s head, over and over again, from day freaking one of being a vampire. 

 

Being a vampire was strange, at least in Hannah’s mind.

 

There were plenty of downsides– she wasn’t allowed to go outside without sunscreen, she had to hurt innocent animals for food (yuck), she never felt truly warm, so on and so forth.

 

But there were some good things too. For one thing, Hannah had the gift of clairvoyance. Sometimes they were small flashes of the near future, sometimes they were mysterious sibylline dreams of what would come to be weeks or even months later, and sometimes they were just gut feelings that something important would happen. Having her spider friend Webby whispering in her ear helped, though she could be even more cryptic than Hannah’s dreams. 

Hannah appreciated the company anyways.

 

Hannah didn’t remember much of the night she was turned. She was down for the count pretty quick– after all, it doesn’t take much to take out a 7 year old– and the blonde lady with the cape was fast. 

 

She should’ve been dead. Or at least have a gnarly scar where her jugular was slit, or where her head met the pavement so hard it cracked open like a freaking walnut. 

 

Absentmindedly, Hannah dipped her fingers under her hair to run over the side of her head.

 

No scar. Just smooth skin. 

 

Figures. 

 

Lex never believed Hannah when she said Webby saved them, even if it was the only logical explanation. 

 

Lex doesn’t like talking about that night.

Lex doesn’t like talking about vampires in general.

Can’t blame her.

 

Speaking of Lex, she was pacing back and forth in her room, muttering to herself, while Hannah watched her quietly.

 

“Let’s see, he comes at 6:30, and it’s 5:45 now, that should be enough time to shower, dry my hair and get dressed, right?” Lex mumbled, picking at her freshly painted fingernails. “I hope that’s enough time.” 

 

“...Nervous?” Hannah piped up softly. 

Lex stopped in her tracks. “I’m not… nervous.” She insisted, her voice cracking only a little. “I just… don’t wanna be late or unprepared. I’m a… fuck, what’s the word? A punctual person.”

Hannah’s eyebrows furrowed. “No?” 

 

“Ok maybe not.” Lex acquiesced with a shrug. “ But I do wanna be a least a little put together.”

“For your date?” Hannah prompted.

“It’s not a date!” Lex snapped immediately. “Totally not a date. Just hanging out with my friend. That’s all.”

“So you’re nervous for a not-date?” Hannah asked slowly.

“Well–” Lex stopped and sighed. “Yeah, sure. Let’s go with that.”

Hannah cast her eyes down and fiddled with her braids. 

 

I don’t get it. You told me they belonged together.

 

Soon. 

 

But–

 

Then, it started. The same way it always did– with barely a warning and a sudden rush of something filling her head, something that felt foreign yet familiar in a way she could never truly place. 

 

They came in quick flashes that made Hannah’s head spin. 

 

Two hands, entwined, both wearing black nail polish. They squeeze one, two, three times.

A box full of cassette tapes.

A vaguely recognizable leather jacket.

A shiny, steel grey lighter with a skull design, flicking on and off, on and off.

A half-empty bottle of hair dye, next to a mostly empty bottle of hair gel. 

A bouquet of red roses, with the tip of a hatchet peeking out between the scarlet petals. 

Two heaps of clothing strewn about in the backseat of an unfamiliar car. 

Lex’s face, her eyes gone– Hannah never saw eyes in her dreams for some strange reason–, her lips quirked up in a wobbly smile with blood dripping from the corner of her mouth. Her lips move as if saying something, but no sound comes out. 

Closer, closer on the mouth. The blood isn’t hers, nor from an animal. The grin widens, contorts– a hearty laugh, perhaps, yet still silent. 

 

Hannah’s heart squeezed, though not unpleasantly. 

 

A touch on her shoulder broke her from her thoughts.

 

“...Hannah. Hannah!” Lex repeated worriedly. “Are you ok?”

 

After a brief moment to collect herself, Hannah gave a sharp nod. 

“Fine.” She mumbled, ignoring the way her hands shook.

 

“Your eyes rolled up in your head again. Did you have another vision?” Lex asked gently.

Hannah nodded again.

“Good or bad?”

“Good.” She answered after a moment. Except for blood. 

 

Lex exhaled. “That’s a relief.” She ran her fingers through her hair. “Listen, Hannah, if you’re not comfortable being alone, I can call Ethan and cancel our… hangout. I’m sure he’ll understand.”

But Hannah shook her head. “No.” Her eyebrows scrunched together and her lips turned down. “I’m fine. Take a shower.” A pause. “He needs you.” 

“You sure?”

“Yeah.”

“Ok. Be right back.” Lex ruffled Hannah’s hair fondly, then sauntered off to the bathroom.

 

Hannah waited until she heard water running before she flopped back on her bed and sighed. 

 

What was that?

Visions.

 

I know that. But of who? Lexie and Ethan? 

I cannot say.

 

You know, right?

 

Yes.

Webby answered after what felt like an eternity.

 

I’ve never even met Ethan. Her stomach twisted into knots. Is he scary? Is he kind? Is he—

 

Here.

 

A sharp rap at the door caught Hannah’s attention. Cautiously, she opened it. “Hello?”

 

“Uh, hey.” A tall, scary-looking young man stood in the doorway, his hand still raised in a fist. His dark wavy hair was styled stiffly with what had to be half a can of hair gel. He wore a leather jacket that looked strangely familiar, faded blue jeans ripped at both knees, and fingerless gloves– or rather, only one glove, for some weird reason. His appearance reminded Hannah very much of one of those bad boys from that crappy musical she and Lex had watched, though she doubted he was going to burst into song.

The man gave a nervous smile. “Hiya, kiddo.” He leaned down so he was closer to her height. “I’m um, looking for Lex. Lex Foster.” He glanced at the room number next to the door. “313. Yeah, that’s the number she gave me.” He turned his attention back to Hannah. “Do you know her, kid?”

 

“Who are you?” Hannah asked slowly.

“Oh, me? I’m Ethan. Ethan Green.” Ethan gave a nervous smile. “I’m a friend of Lex’s and–”

 

Hannah’s eyes widened. “ Oh! Ethan! Lex’s Ethan!”

Ethan scrunched up his face in confusion. “Huh? How do you know me–”

“Lex talks about you a lot.” said Hannah bluntly. “Come in.” She opened the door wider, allowing Ethan to enter their little room. 

 

“Huh. So this is Lex’s room.” Ethan hummed to himself, stuffing his hands in his pockets as he looked around. “I thought it’d be… I dunno.” He shrugged and shifted his weight under Hannah’s gaze. “...different, I guess.” 

 

A short silence. Ethan squirmed a little in his boots.

 

“So uh, where’s Lex, kiddo?” He finally asked. 

“She’s in the bathroom.” Hannah replied. She hopped up on her bed, then patted the space next to her.

“Oh, ok.” Ethan sat beside Hannah carefully, wincing slightly at the hard mattress.

 

“You gave Lex your jacket, right?” Hannah watched Ethan fiddle with the shiny buttons on his leather jacket. 

“Hmm?” Ethan looked up. “Oh uh, yeah.” He looked down at his lap. “When she’s cold or whatever. Well, vampires are always cold, but when she’s, ya know, extra cold. Does that make sense?” 

Hannah nodded. “Lexie likes your jacket. She didn't say out loud, but I know.” 

 

Ethan’s blush was undeniable, even in the dim light of the room.

 

“Lex likes my jacket?” He echoed softly, fondly. 

“Mmhmm. Looks nice on her.” 

“Sure does.” He agreed, smiling dreamily. 

 

He’s got it bad.

 

Ethan picked at the shitty black nail polish painted on– and around– his nails absentmindedly. Hannah frowned.

“Bad job.” She pointed to his cracked nail polish. 

Ethan scowled. “I know that. But painting nails ain’t easy.” He grumbled. “I wanted to paint them black like Lex’s, but I got a shaky hand. They don’t look nearly as cool as hers.”

“That’s because I paint them.” A little pride crept into Hannah’s voice. “I paint Lexie’s nails. And mine.” She showed off her nails to Ethan which, sure enough, were painted a soft pink.

“Well damn. You did a pretty good job.” Ethan peered at her cute nails. “Maybe you can do mine sometime.” He joked.

“Ok.” 

Ethan raised an eyebrow at Hannah’s immediate acceptance. 

 

A moment of silence fell between them as he tucked one of his hands back into his pocket, the other one tapping slightly at his hip. 

 

He was tall. Way taller than her, anyway, and as he gave a small sigh and dragged the fingers of his other hand through his hair, Hannah’s own hands raised to fiddle with the ends of her braids somewhat nervously, and the feeling of Webby’s presence in the back of her mind wasn’t entirely reassuring.

 

Hannah. Don’t be scared.

I’m not.

Her fidgeting hands said otherwise.

 

“...Right. What was your name again, squirt?”

“Hannah.” Hannah folded her hands neatly in her lap. 

“Right, right, Lex’s lil sis. I remember now. Your sister loves you a lot, you know that?” He shot her a gentle smile.

“I know.”

 

A soft curse came from the bathroom, drawing their attention. Ethan immediately tensed. “The hell was that?”

 

“Lex’s getting ready for her,” Hannah stopped, tilted her head before continuing, “...her ‘Not-Date’.” She swung her legs back and forth on the bed. “She gets mad when I say date. So it’s a ‘Not-Date’.” 

 “...Yeah. It’s a Not-Date. Not anything else.” Ethan’s eyes dropped to stare at the ground. 

 

Comfort him.

 

“Maybe,” Hannah started hesitantly, “maybe someday it’ll be a Not-Not-Date.’” 

“Maybe someday.” Ethan repeated, the tiniest of smiles making its way onto his face.

 

Definitely someday. I’ve seen it. 

 

“Hey Hannah, have you seen my hair tie– oh my God .” Lex stepped out of the bathroom, only to jolt upon seeing Ethan. “Fuck, Ethan, you scared the shit out of me.” She put a hand on her chest. “You weren’t supposed to be here till 6:30!” 

“I know. I got here at 6:30 on the dot.” Ethan jerked his head at the bedside alarm clock, which read 6:42.

Lex paled. “Shit, sorry. I must’ve lost track of time.” She rubbed the back of her neck. “I wanted to take a shower beforehand and I had to dry my hair and… I just got distracted. My b.”

 

“No problem. Really.” Ethan rose from the bed and straightened his jacket. “...Wait, are you wearing makeup?” He narrowed his eyes.

“Oh, um, just a little mascara and cherry chapstick. Nothing big.” She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “...Why, does it look bad?”

“No! No. Not at all.” Ethan rushed. 

 

“That’s good, at least.” Lex exhaled. “So uh, how do I look then?”

 

Ethan’s shoulders slumped. His cheeks turned red. A wide, dopey grin stretched across his face. “Beautiful, as always.” He answered, though it was more of a sigh.

 

Lex crossed her arms over her chest and rolled her eyes. “You always say that.” She scoffed.

 

Her cheeks were red too.

 

“Because it’s always true.” Ethan countered, drawing another scoff from Lex. “You almost ready to go?” He offered his arm to Lex.

“Yeah, lemme just grab my wallet.” After stuffing her thin wallet into her back pocket, Lex took Ethan’s arm rather delicately. Ethan’s smile broadened.

 

Heart eyes were a thing from cartoons and didn’t exist in real life, but if they did, Ethan would absolutely have them every time he looked at Lex. 

 

“Hannah, don’t stay up too late, k?” Lex instructed as Ethan opened the door. “If you get hungry there should be some leftovers in the fridge.” 

“Okay.” Hannah nodded dutifully. “Have fun on your Not-Not-Date!” 

“We will!” Ethan said before Lex could reply. 

“Wait, isn’t that too many ‘Not’s–” Lex furrowed her eyebrows, whatever she was about to say cut off as the door slammed shut.



“Ethan is nice.” Hannah thought out loud. She laid back and squeezed a random pillow. “What do you think, Webby?”

He is. The spider agreed. 

 

“I wonder if Lex likes him.” Hannah traced a random pattern on the pillow. 

Perhaps.

 

“She spends a lot of time with him.” Hannah’s fingers stilled. “Almost more than me.”

Are you jealous?

Hannah tilted her head. “...no.” She said carefully. “Happy for her.” She went back to tracing slow figure-eights on the soft pillow. “Lex’s happy, I’m happy.”

 

You’re a good sister Hannah.

 

“Curious, though.” Hannah admitted.

Curious? 

 

“Lex never tells me what happens on Not Dates,” she explained to the spider, sighing softly as she did. “It’s not romantic so…” Setting down the pillow, her eyebrows furrowing, she bit her lip and dug her fingers into the pillowcase. “...serious?”

 


 

“SWEEET CAROOLIIINNE!”

 

“BA BA BAHHHH!” 

 

Wind rippled through Lex’s hair as she stuck her head out the car window, the cool night air feeling like a comforting ice cube against her hot face.

 

“GOOD TIMES NEVER SEEMED SO GOOD!” She and Ethan harmonised, raising their bottles in the air at the same time. 

 

“Fuck junior year!” Lex crowed, the music swelling behind her words. 

 

The music. 

 

She was vaguely aware of the fact that they’d been singing for awhile, vaguely aware of how it had started thanks to Ethan drunkenly stumbling over to her– trying to grab onto one of her hands for balance before he’d started giggling like a fucking preschooler.

“What th’ fuck, Eth?” 

Lex remembered the way her words had slurred together into fucking mush– both around the twin fangs jutting past her lips and the fact rhat her mouth really didn’t seem to want to cooperate– as Ethan had broken into full guffaw and swatted his fingers against her own.

“Haaaaandsss… TOUCHIN’ HANDSSSSS…”

 

She remembered the silence that had fallen between them. An expectant one.

 

And the way he’d looked at her.

Fucking dork.

How the hell was she not supposed to respond to that when Ethan Green of all people was shooting her a crooked grin and trying his damndest to hold her hand despite the fact that he had barely been able to hold himself up?

 

“...reachin’ ouuutt…”

 

It had been totally worth it for the full grin that had split across his face– one he was still wearing minutes later as Lex gave a whoop and took another swig from her bottle. 

 

“Fuck it!” Ethan echoed in agreement. 

“Fuckin finally that year’s over. Ugh.” Taking another sip, Lex’s lips curled into a scowl. “People say junior year’s the hardest. Hopefully they’re right, ‘cuz I don’t think I can stand much more of this.”

 

“Hey, at least we met each other. That’s good.” Ethan pointed out.

“True, true. What would I do without good ol’ Ethan Green?” Lex slumped in her seat slightly, (blearily) focusing on Ethan. His features seemed to swim in and out of focus every time she blinked, though to be fair, that could be blamed on the weird cocktail of blood and booze Ethan had given her that left her with a dopey smile on her face and her head feeling empty in the best possible way.

Ethan laughed. “You wouldn’t be able to get good alcohol like this, that’s for sure.”

 

Cute laugh.

 

“Fuck you, yes I would. I got a fake ID.” Lex huffed, though there was no real malice in her words.

“Is that so?”

“Sure is.”

“Maybe I should stop supplying the booze then.”

“Wait, don’t.”

 

Ethan cracked a smile. “‘kay.” He turned the music down a smidge to a more comfortable level. “How’s the CBB servin’ ya?”

“The huh?”

“Chicken Blood Booze.” He clarified, matter of factly, “I uh, know I’m not exactly the best mixer-person– only really made like, jungle juice before this, and there’s no skill needed for that– but, ya know,” he shrugged, “I tried.”

“Oh. That.” Lex covered her mouth to hide a grin. “It’s servin’ me alright. But uh, I don’t think you should go into bartending as a job. No offense.”

“None taken.” Ethan waved her off. “I just knew you liked blood and you liked booze and I thought, hey, why not combine the two? Unfortunately there aren’t many recipes on the ‘net for combining blood with alcohol so I had to make do.” 

A laugh bubbled up from her throat. “Do you have any idea how much like a fucking serial killer you sound right now?”

 

Ethan gave a groan in response. “It was only chickens! And it was only one!”  Lifting a hand off the wheel and turning to her– eyes completely off the road– he jammed a finger in her direction, one that Lex swatted away.

Dude , watch the fucking road . Fuckin’ hell, you shouldn’t be driving– you’re gonna run us off the edge of the fucking island.”

“It’s fine, it’s fine. ” Ethan reassured, though that only made her raise her eyebrows further. “For real for real for eel. Look, you can already see the sign.” 

Sure enough, as the jalopy made its way over one last hill, Lex was able to make out the faded, fluorescent Sonic sign flickering in the distance.

 

“There it is.” She slumped down further in her seat, the liquid in her stomach sloshing a bit unpleasantly. 

 

Ethan screeched to a stop at a stoplight. “Do you want the Sonic tater-tots or not??” He demanded. “It’s tater-tot not later-th– no, I’m not gonna call you that.” 

Lex arched a brow. “Call me a what ?” 

Ethan hesitated. “I don’t wanna be disrespectful.”

 

The fuck does he mean by that? Th? Th what– wait oh my god.

 

A shaky laugh escaped Lex’s lips. “ Thot? Is that what you were going to say?” She tried.

 

She paused.

 

“If she breathes…” Lex started carefully, “she’s a thot.”

 

Please get it holy shit.

 

Ethan turned to her slowly. 

 

His face was sterner than stone. In all her days of knowing him, Lex had never seen him look this serious.

 

“...All women are queens, Lex.”

 

A beat.

 

Both of them broke at the exact same time.

 

“Holy shit, Eth.” Lex wheezed, letting out a tiny snort into his shoulder. “That joke is like, years old.”

“And it’s still the goddamn gospel truth.” Ethan replied resolutely, ripping another snort from Lex.

 

“You’re something else, you know that?” Lex looked up and locked eyes with Ethan.

“Hopefully a good something.” 

 

“Definitely.” She tore her eyes away from his to glance at the stoplight, which had already been green for a solid 4 seconds. “Shit, green.”

“What?”

“The light, idiot! The light’s green!” Lex snapped.

“Oh fuck.” Ethan hissed, scrambling to punch the gas as the car behind him honked. “Sorry, sorry!” 

 

He swerved around the corner, Lex grabbing onto his bicep for support ( only for support, nothing else thank you very much), and managed to roll through the Sonic’s parking lot and into an open slot, fucking barely missing the curb by a centimeter. 

 

“We made it!” Ethan parked the car with a satisfied huff. “See? No biggie.”

“Ethan?”

“Yeah?” 

“Can I be honest with you?”

“Sure.”

“I hate driving drunk with you.” Lex forced herself to sit upright, shaking her head foggily. “Fuck. You’d think a guy who literally works with cars as his fucking job would be better at driving one.”

Ethan threw back his head and laughed. “Hey, I specialise working with the inside of cars. I’m not a fucking NASCAR driver.” 

“Thank God for that.” Lex scoffed, grabbing a bottle of vodka from the back. Ethan just chuckled and shook his head.

 

 “What do you want?” Ethan opened his wallet and counted the few bills in there.

“To overthrow the government and eat the rich. Viva la Revolution.”

“From Sonic, smartass.”

 

“Oh. Uhhh lemme see.” Lex unbuckled and crawled over to the driver’s side, basically climbing onto Ethan’s lap to stick her head out the window and read the menu.  

She either didn’t hear Ethan’s strangled squeak, or ignored it. His hands curled into fists and his eyes darted around the car, looking anywhere but his crush seated on his lap.

“Umm, I’ve never had the Oreo shake, so maybe I’ll get that. How many tots though…” She wondered out loud, oblivious to Ethan’s embarrassed reactions as she nestled in further on his lap. 

 

Lex turned back to Ethan. “So what do you want– wow, your face is red. ” 

“‘s hot in here.” He mumbled, unable to meet her eyes. “Really warm.”

“If you’re so warm, take your jacket off.” She said simply, as if the answer was obvious. 

“I don’t think now would be the best time to strip, Lex. We’re in public.” He countered. “Plus, that wouldn’t help– FUCK!!” His words turned into a sharp yelp as Lex put her hands on his face, causing him to flinch back. “Lex! Cold hands!”

 

“Sorry, sorry.” She apologised, though she didn’t move away. “It’s jus’...” Her gaze softened. “You have really pretty eyes, Eth.”

He did. 

Really pretty eyes that widened slightly as she cupped his cheeks, feeling his hot skin burn under her cool touch.

Like twin oceans during a storm. Maybe it was the booze talking, or maybe it was true, but Lex hadn’t exactly thought about it all that much. For a pair of good friends, they didn’t make close eye contact often, and as her gaze drilled into his own, her brow furrowed, if only slightly– a look of concentration flashing across her face. 

“...Lots of colours,” she elaborated. 

The warmth under her hands only grew. 

 

“U-Uh, you um, you too, L-Lex.” He sputtered. “I, um…”

 

Why does he look so nervous? 

 

“You ok?”

 

“Y-yeah. Hunky dory.” He shot her a tight smile. “But uh…” Gently, he put his hands on her waist, only to lightly nudge her off his lap and into the passenger seat. “I should probably order those tots, now.”  

Lex blinked. “Oh, ok.” She straightened up in her seat, frowning a little as the world swayed around her. 

 

Fuck, I’m drunker than I thought.

 

Ethan pressed the red button below the menu. “You know what you wanna order?” 

Lex nodded. “Yeah, medium Oreo shake and medium totties.”

Ethan groaned. “ Don’t call them totties. Tots is fine.” 

 

“You’re no fun.” Lex pouted. 

“Yep, totally no fun. Which is why I got free booze, took us out for a drive in the middle of Buttfuck Nowhere, and am now ordering shit from Sonic. No fun at all.” Ethan drawled sarcastically. 

Lex opened her mouth, closed it, then opened it again. “You—”

 

“Hi welcome to Sonic, what would you like today?” A squeaky voice from the speaker cut her off.

 

“Yeah, I’d like a medium Oreo Shake, medium tater tots, a medium classic chocolate shake, a medium Purple O– uh, that’s a Sprite with lemonade, Powerade, and cranberry–, large mozzarella sticks, a Footlong Quarter Pounder Coney, and a Bacon Double Cheeseburger, hold the mayo.” Ethan ordered. 

 

Lex arched an eyebrow. “2 drinks and 3 food items just for you? That’s a lot.”

Ethan shrugged. “What can I say, I eat a lot.” He lowered his voice. “It’s a werewolf thing, I think.” 

 

“Will that be all?” The voice asked. “That’ll be $25.63.”

Ethan’s jaw dropped. “ 25.63? That’s so expensive!”

“I don’t set the prices, sir.” The voice replied, sounding very tired.

 

“Ugh, fine. For fucks sake.” Ethan huffed. He peeked back in his wallet. “...Uh, I don’t think I can spend much more tonight. Sorry Lex.”

“‘s fine. You’ve done a lot already. Thanks, Eth.” She shot him a soft smile, and watched the tension visibly leave his shoulders.

“No problem.” He murmured with a shy smile of his own. 

 

“How much booze do we have left? Besides this, I mean?” She waved the bottle of vodka in her hand.

“I think that’s the last of the vodka, there might be some shitty beer in the back. Don’t drink all the vodka just yet though; I wanna put it in my Purple O.” Ethan warned her.

 

Lex laughed. “That sounds sorta dirty, dude.”

“I mean, Purple O does stand for Purple Orgasm.” Ethan noted. 

“Wait, it does? Why?”

“I dunno. Maybe cuz it’s purple and it’s so good it gives you a food orgasm? Sort of?”

“A fucking what?” 

“Y’know, when food tastes really good.” 

“Why would you call it that?”

I don’t call it that, it’s just a term.”

“It’s a stupid term.”

Ethan threw up his hands in defense. “I agree with you, Lex! It is stupid. And I don’t like getting heated with you over something as stupid as a drink name.”

“Maybe I like getting heated with you.” The words left her lips without thinking.

Ethan raised his eyebrows. “Oh yeah?”

Now it was Lex’s turn to blush. “Not like that. I just meant– ugh, never mind.” 

“Hey, I get it. We all slip up sometimes.” Ethan chuckled. “Plus, you’re pretty fuckin’ drunk.” 

“True.” Lex nodded, only slurring her words a little. 



“Uh, excuse me…”

 

Both Lex and Ethan jolted. Lex shoved the vodka bottle under her seat quickly, then turned back as if nothing happened.

 

The dweeb from the menu stood at their window, barely balancing two trays filled with food and drinks. “I’ve got your order of…  medium Oreo Shake, medium tater tots, a medium classic chocolate shake, a medium Purple Sprite, large mozzarella sticks, a Footlong Quarter Pounder Coney, and a Bacon Double Cheeseburger. That’s you, right?”

“Sure is.” Ethan carefully took the trays from the boy, passing Lex her Oreo shake and ‘totties’, then handed the worker 3 $10 bills. 

“Have a good night, sir.” The worker mumbled, eyeing Lex warily.

 

Lex didn’t seem to notice his suspicious gaze, or maybe she just didn’t care. She was too busy drinking half of her shake within one gulp.

 

“How is it?” Ethan asked, popping an entire mozzarella stick into his mouth. 

“It’s– shit, fucking BRAIN FREEZE.” Lex grimaced and wrinkled her nose.

“Rub the roof of your mouth with your tongue.” Ethan advised. 

“What now?”

“It’s supposed to help with brain freeze. Helps the headache.” He explained. 

 

“Oh, speaking of tongues–” To Lex’s confusion, Ethan plucked the cherry off of his chocolate shake, and removed the stem. “You ever heard of the cherry knot tongue trick?”

Lex gave him a perplexed look. “No.”

“It’s where you can like, tie a knot in a cherry stem with your tongue.” He waved the stem in the air. “Usually it’s easier to do it with a bigger stem, but you could probably do it with something this size.”

 

Lex arched an eyebrow. “And why , exactly, would anyone want to tie a knot with their tongue?”

Ethan shrugged. “I dunno. It’s supposed to prove you’re a good kisser or some shit. I’m not sure how valid that statement is. Haven’t uh, tested it recently.” 

 

Maybe it was because she was drunk, but Lex swore Ethan’s eyes darted down to her lips for a moment. 

 

“Where’d you learn it then?” Lex took another sip from her shake, much slower this time.

“Wikihow at 2 AM. I was bored as hell one night, so I decided to raid my Uncle’s cherry stash from his bar to practice.” Ethan confessed rather bluntly. “I think I swallowed like, 2 stems. At least. Maybe more.” He laughed awkwardly. “It took a while, but eventually I got it. This was uh, pre-wolfhood though, so my teeth are sharper now than when I first did it.”

 

Lex leaned back in her seat. “That so, huh? Let’s see if you can still do it then.” 

“Um, ok. Here’s hoping I remember how to do it. It’s been a hot minute and–”

“Skip the excuses already, goddamn! I wanna see.” 

“Fine, fine.” He grumbled, finally popping the stem in his mouth. His mouth moved around, twisting into funny shapes while he struggled to tie the damn knot, his brow furrowing as he grew increasingly frustrated.

It certainly didn’t help when Lex started singing the Jeopardy theme song after he started taking too long. 

“Oh my god, shut up.” Ethan muttered in irritation. Eventually he let out a growl of annoyance. “Ok, fuck this.” He stuck out his tongue, revealing the cherry stem not quite in a knot, but more curled in a little ball. “These damn teeth keep getting in the fuckin’ way. Plus I’m drunk.” He complained, words slightly thick from his tongue being out. 

 

“Aww, can’t even tie a cherry stem into a knot? Must be a bad kisser.” Lex teased.

 

Ethan looked legitimately offended.

 

“Lex Foster, you fucking take that back!” He demanded. “Fuck you, I’m a great kisser and–”

 

“Oh shut up and let me see that.” Without warning, Lex grabbed the cherry stem off his tongue and popped it in her own mouth.

 

Ethan went bright red.

 

“L-Lex, what the fuck?” He gaped, his voice coming out slightly strangled. “Fuck Lex, you can’t just do that–”

“A-ha!” Lex stuck out her own tongue proudly, fully believing she succeeded, only for her shoulders to slump at the loose, soggy stem on her tongue. “Aw, dammit.”

 

“Ha, at least I was closer.” Ethan smirked.

“Don’t look so smug. You didn’t even do it properly, asshole.” Lex retaliated, socking him lightly in the arm.

 

“Oww!” Ethan whined, even if it didn’t actually hurt him. “Help! I’m being attacked! This is abuse! Someone help me!” He glanced around the empty Sonic parking lot. “Dammit, there’s no one here. Oh god, that means I’m alone with a vampire . Whatever shall I do.” He put his hands on his cheeks overdramatically. “I’m scared shitless.”

Lex rolled her eyes. “Christ, keep talking like that and I’ll give you something to be scared about.” She pulled out the bottle of vodka from under her seat. “Specifically, this bottle of 100 proof vodka crashing over your noggin.”

“Actually I have a pretty hard head, so hypothetically it wouldn’t do much.” Ethan said, though he scooted away slightly. “Uh, don’t test that theory though.” 

“I won’t, I won’t. Just joking.” Lex assured him with a friendly nudge. “I’d never hurt you.”

 

“I know. Speaking of that 100 proof vodka, give it here. I wanna try something.” Ethan grabbed the vodka, then opened the lid of his Purple O drink. 

“The hell are you doing?” Lex stared at him as he drained a third of the drink in one go, popped open the vodka bottle, and filled up the cup with vodka. “Oh… Ethan .” 

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Ethan huffed, putting the cup lid back on and shaking it like a cocktail shaker. “I told you I’d be putting vodka in my Purple O.”

“Yeah, but you’re acting like you’re a goddamn master bartender. Wasn’t the– fuck, what did you call it?– the ‘Chicken Blood Booze’ enough?” Lex bit her lip to suppress a smile.

 

“Ok, but the CBB was for you, not for me.” Ethan noted. After checking to make sure everything was properly mixed, he stuck the straw into his unholy mixture and took a big slurp.

 

Lex tried not to laugh at his expression.

 

She really did.

 

But she failed.

 

She failed fucking hard. 

 

“Not– not as good as you expected?” Lex wheezed between giggles. 

“‘s fine. You can uh, you can definitely taste the alcohol though.” Ethan replied, swirling his straw a little in the drink.

“Better than drinking it straight?”

“Hold on.” Ethan took another sip, and smacked his lips a couple times. He tilted his head. “...Yes.”

“Good to know.” Lex took the vodka bottle and knocked back a shot. “I, however, am fine drinking straight from the bottle.” 

“Fair enough. Alcohol’s alcohol, whether it be from the bottle or in a mixed drink or what the fuck ever.” Ethan held up his Sonic cup. “Cheers.” They clinked their drinks together.



Ethan’s wack ass Purple Vodka Orgasm drink got him drunk surprisingly fast, even while he was eating his fucking mountain of food he ordered. He practically inhaled his mozzarella sticks, demolished his burger in seconds, and devoured the giant hotdog within 4 bites, making sure to wash down each bite with a sip of his spiked purple Sprite. Even after he finished everything, Ethan still attempted to steal Lex’s precious tater-tots. 

 

“Lexieeeeee. Give back my tater-tot.” Ethan whined, trying to grab the last tater-tot from Lex, who held it over her head.

“No way, pretty boy.” Lex shot back with a smirk. “Last tater-tot belongs to me.

 

Pretty boy? ” Ethan echoed incredulously.

“Pretty boy. Greased Lightning. Green Bean. Wolfie.” Lex listed off.

“Are those all your nicknames for me?” Ethan asked, grinning that crooked grin that always made Lex smile back.

“Sure are. Actually, one of them is your contact name in my phone.” Lex said matter of factly. 

 

“Oh yeah? Can I guess which one?” Ethan rested his cheek on his palm.

“Go ahead.”

“Wolfie? Since you make fun of me for being a furry– which I’m not , by the way.”

“Nope.”

“Pretty boy?”

“Double nope.”

“Ouch. Too gross for that?” Ethan pouted in mock offense, drawing a laugh from Lex.

“That’s not it at all. Totally not.” Lex reassured. “If you get it correct for your next guess, I’ll let you have the last tot.”

“Ugh, you drive a hard bargain.” Ethan groaned. “Uh… fuck, I dunno, just Eth? E? Some variant of my name?”

 

Lex popped the last tot in her mouth as her answer.

 

“God dammit. ” Ethan scowled. “Fine, I’ll bite. What is it?”

 

“Eth, how do you spell ‘Greased Lightning’ again?” Lex smirked as Ethan’s face twisted in confusion.

“What? Uh, it’s um, G-r-e-e-s-e-d L-i-t-e-n-i-n-g, right?” He tried.

“Not even fucking close, but that is your contact name.” Lex got out her phone and showed him his contact name– Greesed Litening.  

Ethan’s lips twisted into a scowl– though it didn’t hold any real malice. “You know I don’t like being called Greased Lightning, Lex.”

“I know. Which is why your contact name Greesed Litening, not Greased Lightning.” Lex reasoned. 

Ethan blinked. “...I don’t get it.”

“Ethan Green Bean, you’re a dumbass.” Lex sighed. 

 

Their eyes met.

 

Lex’s gaze softened, and her mouth curled upwards in a soft smile. “...A cute one though.”

 

She broke eye contact to stare at a stray curl that had fallen from his perfectly styled coif to rest on his pale forehead. 

 

I should fix that.  

 

Slowly, Lex leaned in closer. 

For some reason, Ethan’s eyes fluttered closed. 

 

Delicately Lex brushed the curl away from his hot skin to join the rest of his gelled hair. “Much better.” She hummed. 

 

Ethan opened his eyes hesitantly. “Huh?” He mumbled, clearly baffled. 

“Huh?” Lex repeated. “What? Cat got your tongue, pretty boy?”

 

“God, you don’t even know what you’re doing to me, do you?” Ethan mumbled, staring at the ground 

 

“Nope.” With that, Lex fell headfirst into the crook between his shoulder and his neck.

“I think I’m gonna take a nap now.” She murmured, nuzzling deeper into his shoulder.

“Ok. You do that.” Carefully Ethan moved his arm to wrap around Lex’s side. “Good night, Lexie.”

“Night, Eth.” 

 


 

So.

 

Hell of a night.

 

Whatever Ethan expected would happen, it wasn’t this .

 

Lex was currently passed out, head buried in his shoulder, which had happened loads of times before, but…

 

Holding hands while singing with him? Sitting in his lap? Touching his tongue? Cupping his face and saying his eyes are pretty? Calling him pretty boy ?

 

All new. 

 

Not that he minded, of course. 

 

Thing is, Lex did all of that while drunk. Shitfaced, even. Regular Lex would never do that while sober. 

Though it was tempting, Ethan would never do something to drunk Lex that sober Lex wouldn’t be ok with. Drunk Lex was more physically affectionate, so what? That didn’t mean consent. 

 

That’s why he had to push her away. 

 

Ethan’s heart was still pounding from when she had almost– or rather, he thought she was going to– kissed him. 

 

She doesn’t feel that way towards you, dumbass. Get your shit together. 

 

It was completely dark out when Ethan pulled into Lex’s motel’s parking lot. Thankfully the streets were pretty much deserted at this time of night– that way no one was around to watch him accidentally drive along the wrong side of the street. 

 

Oops.

 

The most important thing, though, was making sure Lex got home safe and sound.

 

Ok… Now what? 

 

Ethan pursed his lips, staring at his unconscious crush pressed against him, trying to decide what to do.

 

Let’s see… I need to get her room key, carry her up to her room, tuck her in bed, and leave. Should be fairly simple. Where’s the room key though?

 

The realisation dawned on him.

 

Uh oh.

Oh no.

 

Ethan paled.

 

Her room key is in her wallet.

Which is in her back pocket.

Which is on her butt.

Fuck.

 

Ethan couldn’t just touch Lex’s butt. She was passed out, touching an unconscious girl’s ass is super fucking creepy. Ethan was above that shit. 

But how else was he supposed to get the wallet out without touching it?

 

“Shit.” He swore softly. Maybe if I come at it from above?

 

Gently, he flipped Lex’s body over. He frowned and narrowed his eyes, trying to think of a way to slip her wallet out. 

Biting his lip and sticking his tongue out in concentration, Ethan angled his hand and slowly, slowly removed the wallet using the tips of his fingers with the precision of a top surgeon.

 

Almost got it…

Yes!

 

Ethan gave a mental whoop as he retrieved the wallet successfully, without touching her butt. 

 

Uh, ok. Room key should be somewhere in here.

 

Ethan opened up the wallet gingerly, taking care to remain as quiet as possible, when something small fell out and fluttered to the ground. 

“Dammit.” He bent down to pick the item up. His heart stopped as he saw what it was. 

 

It was a tiny photo strip, all of pictures of Lex and Ethan together in increasingly ridiculous poses. With shaking hands, Ethan got out his own wallet and opened it to reveal his own copy of the very same photo strip. 

 

Some way, some fucking how, they both, completely independently of each other, put the same damn pictures of each other in their wallets.

 

Ethan put a hand over his mouth to hide his stupid grin, even though there was no one to see it. He didn’t even have to look into a mirror to know his face was probably red as fuck. 

 

Damn, he still remembered the day they took the pictures. A new shitty photobooth had opened in the Hatchetfield Mall, and despite it being, well, shitty, they decided to check it out anyways.

 

“Goddamn, look at us.” Lex mused, inspecting the photostrip in her hands. She tapped her finger on a picture of them doing a silly pose– or at least trying to anyways, considering the booth was so small. “We look like fucking jackasses.”

“We sorta are though.” Ethan pointed out with a smile. 

Lex shrugged. “True.” 

 

“What are you gonna do with yours?” Ethan asked, rolling up then stuffing his own copy of the strip in his pocket. 

“I dunno. I’d like to say I’d keep it somewhere special but knowing me it’ll be lost within 2 days max.” Lex replied with another carefree shrug. “You?”

“Prolly put it on my mantelpiece.” Ethan half-joked.

“Do you even have a mantelpiece, Eth?”

“Uh, well, truthfully, I don’t even know what a mantelpiece is?” Ethan scratched his head sheepishly. “I just know it’s where you put important things, right?”

“Something like that, yeah.”

 

“Now come on. I got a tenner left. Want some Cinnabons?” Ethan nudged Lex playfully.

“You fucking know I do.” Lex nudged him back, and they laughed.

 

Ethan shook his head fondly at the memory, and carefully put the photostrip back in Lex’s wallet. 

 

“Ah– here’s the bitch!” He pulled out the room key with a triumphant huff, then pocketed it. 

 

Now comes the tricky part. 

Specifically, carrying Lex’s body up 3 flights of stairs.

There was no hotel elevator that Ethan had seen, so stairs were the only way, unfortunately. 

 

Sighing, he opened the car door, wincing a little at the cool air hitting his overheated face.

 

“Ok, um…” He paused and pursed his lips, trying to figure up the best way to pick her up without waking her, even though she was fully out cold. Still, he did his damn best to be gentle as he slipped one hand under her back and the other under her knees, and hefted her up with an oof.

 

Fuck, she’s heavier than I expected.

 

That wasn’t saying much to Ethan’s strength; he was still able to lift her up and carry her bridal style with ease.

 

Bridal style—

 

Ethan’s cheeks reddened involuntarily.

 

Shit, no, that’s weird. Stop it.

 

He glanced down at Lex in his arms. A bit of drool dribbled from her lips, and her breathing was soft and steady. Pursing his lips to avoid chuckling out loud, he ever so gently brushed the drool away, thanking his lucky stars she didn’t stir. 

 

Taking a deep breath, Ethan began to make his way up the rickety stairs of the motel. Chilly wind nipped at the back of his exposed neck, and he suppressed a shiver. 

 

309, 310, 311, 312… ah, here’s 313.

 

Struggling to get the room key out of his pocket without dropping Lex (he could just drape her over his shoulders, but that wasn’t very gentlemanly), Ethan pressed the key against the sensor and pushed open the unlocked door with his elbow.

 

The room was quiet when he entered, and all the lights were off. In the dark Ethan could make out a small mound in the left bed that he assumed to be a sleeping Hannah.

 

Shit. Better not wake her up. 

 

He closed the door with his heel, and carried Lex over to the right bed. He pulled the covers back and was about to set her down then–

 

“Nnngh…”

 

Ethan froze. 

 

Shiiiiiit.

 

Slowly he turned to face Hannah, who had sat up in bed and rubbed her eyes sleepily.

 

“Who–”

 

“Shh, Hannah. It’s me, Ethan. It’s ok.” Ethan whispered. “I’m not here to hurt you.”

Hannah’s eyebrows drew together. “...Why?” 

“I’m just here to put Lex to bed. She… fell asleep.” Ethan explained quietly. 

 

He laid Lex down in her bed, and gently rolled her over to her side. That way, if she threw up she wouldn’t choke on her own vomit or some gross shit like that.  

 

“Hannah, is there a glass I could fill up with water or something?” He asked lowly. “And some painkillers– no need to get up, I can get them myself. Just tell me where they are.”

“Um… bathroom bottom left drawer.” Hannah mumbled. “Glass on sink.” 

“Thanks, squirt. Bathroom’s that door on the left, yeah?”

Hannah nodded.

“Thanks.”

 

The bathroom was surprisingly neat, save for a tube of mascara and some chapstick sprawled on the bathroom counter, though that was probably from Lex forgetting to put them away before their da– uh, Not-Date. Ethan opened the bottom left drawer and found a tiny first aid kit, with a big bottle of Ibuprofen next to it. He picked it up and shook it, surprised to hear it almost empty. 

 

Weird.

 

That didn’t matter now, though. After grabbing two pills, Ethan closed the drawer, mindful to not make much noise. He filled up a cup with cold water– er, as cold as the shitty hotel tap water would get– and returned to Lex’s bedside.

 

“Hannah, when Lex wakes up, make sure she takes these painkillers and drinks a lot of water, k? She’s gonna have a hell of a headache when she wakes up tomorrow.” Ethan instructed, setting the pills and water down on the table, as well as Lex’s room key and wallet. Hannah nodded dutifully.

 

“Oh, hold on.” Spotting a notepad and pen on the nearby desk, Ethan scribbled a quick note.

 

Pls drink water wen u wake up. I left out some pills for u to. If ur gonna throw up do it in the toylet. Hangovers prolly gonna be shit but I hope u feel better.

 

Love,

 

Ethan paused and scratched that out.

 

Love

 

Thx,

 

E

 

Satisfied, Ethan placed the note next to the pills, then turned to Hannah. “Go back to sleep, k? It’s like 2 AM. Both of you need sleep.” 

Hannah tilted her head. “What about you?”

“Oh believe me, soon as I get home I’m passing out.” Ethan tsked. He gave a little two finger salute and a tight smile. “See ya, Hannah.”

Hannah waved shyly in reply. “Good night, Ethan.” 

 


 

Hannah had decided she didn’t like today. 

 

It wasn’t like some days where Webby had told her it was a bad day– days like when she’d end up getting sent home early thanks to “acting out” as teachers would put it, or days where she’d think things were fine until she’d get home and Lex would be struggling to keep herself together– this was a day that she had decided was bad all on her own the second she’d smelled blood and felt her fangs threatening to spill past her lips. 

 

That was always a bad thing. 

 

Smelling blood was never something that went well for her, especially not at school, and it didn’t help that after she’d felt her elongated teeth, her teacher had announced that they were all to head to the gym for flu shots, which would mean noise and blood and strangers, which were all things she wasn’t exactly fond of.

 

She walked with her head down and one hand pressed tight against the side of her head, the other firmly clamped over her mouth and nose in a desperate attempt to keep the blood smell at bay. It was thick in the air, and worsened as her class passed by another in the narrow hallway— a group of kids that she knew right away had just gotten shots from the smell alone.

 

Webby?

 

No answer.

 

Perfect. 

 

Her head sank closer to her shoulders. Trying not to breathe despite the strain it put on her lungs, she kept her gaze trained firmly on her sneakers, moving her legs stiffly— focusing on putting one foot in front of the other.

 

Hatchetfield Elementary wasn’t a big building. 

Budget cuts had done a number on the dilapidated walls to a point where the building seemed slanted when looking at it from the outside— tilting ever so slightly to the left. The walls were checkered with black and white until the halfway point, where the colour faded to a soft blue, and as Hannah carefully lowered a hand to trail along the wall, she hooked her fingernails on the tiles absently, tracing the cracks between the squares until the other class passed and she felt safe enough to lift her head.

 

Bad day.

 

Smelling blood didn’t always make it a bad day, but smelling human blood in such close quarters did the trick, and the fact that the unfortunate rodent of the week in their fridge had been drained the day prior left her more than a little aware of how easy it would be to pick a target and—

 

No.

No.

She exhaled.

Her chest felt tight.

Breathe.

Webby.

She obeyed. 

 

She didn’t breathe too deep, not wanting to make her nose sting with that all-too-familiar, coppery smell that caused her fangs to jut out, but she did manage to close her eyes mid-step and inhale— this time, catching the scent of something that smelled almost like a hospital, albeit, on a smaller scale.

 

Not bad, Webby informed her. New friend.

 

She perked up.

 

There was a small sliver of fear that accompanied the action, seeing as last time she’d been shown a new friend by Webby, there’d been flashes in her head, flashes of teeth and claws and eyes that were nothing short of animalistic, but when she gingerly pressed at her head, there was no headache there. No presence. No visions of somebody she hadn’t met yet that filled her with a fear that Webby had told her to ignore. 

It hadn’t been nice of Webby to introduce her to Ethan like that in her head, with flashes of fur and the shape of the full moon hanging in the sky, before she’d even met him and found out he was actually really nice and not at all like the snarling, hulking beast that Webby had pushed into her head. 

 

Maybe that was why Webby was hanging back this time. 

 

The only thoughts in Hannah’s mind were her own.

Her own, and those of her instincts– their prodding voices enough to make her press her sleeve a little tighter to her nose. 

 

The hospital smell was heavier as the class rounded the corner and passed through the double doors leading into the gymnasium. Even with her hand against her nose and with her breaths coming slowly, she could easily pick out the disinfectant, almost sick smell that most hospitals had. It made her stomach twist slightly. 

 

Safe?

Nothing, then–

Yes.

 

Slowly, she forced herself to look up. 

 

The gymnasium had been cleared and cleaned, and where there were normally a few benches, a pair of grey folding tables were set up— two women in blue sitting at each one. Her classmates were being called up in alphabetical order, starting with the last name Anderson, and when they made it to the chairs, there’d be a soft countdown, a flash of a needle, then—

 

Blood.

 

Hannah ducked her head down. Again, her stomach twisted, though she couldn’t tell if it was from discomfort or hunger. 

From the fangs that would definitely be visible if she lowered her hand, she was going to go with the latter. 

 

...bad blood.

 

Not the good kind of blood– that belonged to squirrels and mice and raccoons– this was human blood that stung at her nose and made her shuffle her feet where she stood in line, barely aware of the amount of people in front of her in line shrinking until she felt Webby pushing at the back of her mind again and looked back toward the nurses where they sat. 

 

This time, one caught Hannah’s attention immediately.

 

Maybe it was the shock of red hair, maybe it was her kind demeanour and soft smile as she offered the child in front of her a small band aid and a candy for their trouble. Maybe it was a prod from Webby– a wordless one, more a friendly nudge than anything. Maybe it was the fact that the woman looked almost familiar , like someone she’d seen in a dream… 

 

Their eyes met. 

 

Hannah’s spine straightened. 

 

Even before the nurse spoke her name, Hannah had turned her body to face her and started walking, still keeping her hand pressed tight against her face. 

“Hannah Foster?” 

A nod was all she could manage in response. 

 

It seemed to be enough for the redheaded woman. Her lips curved into that same gentle smile that she’d offered the child before her. “Nervous?” She asked, gesturing to the chair and motioning for Hannah to sit, which she did, stiffly, shaking her head at the same time.

“No.” 

It came out too sharp. Too quick. Her leg started to jitter of its own accord, bouncing up and down at a breakneck pace. 

 

“That’s ok. Lots of other kids were nervous too. Shots can be really scary.”  The lady said kindly. Hannah nodded in agreement. “But they’re very important. Getting shots makes sure you won’t get sick, and we wouldn’t want that, would we?”

Hannah’s eyes dropped to the floor. “I… don’t think I’d get the flu.” She mumbled.

The woman tilted her head, the complacent smile on her face turning into a sympathetic one. She lowered her voice. “I know, sweetheart. But it’s required.” 

 

She knows?

 

Like you.

 

“Like me?” Hannah echoed, softly. 

 

The lady– Becky , according to her name tag– winked. 

 

...Definitely like me. 

 

“If you want, I can hold your hand during it. Squeeze as tight as you like.” Becky offered. “In my opinion, the pain isn’t as bad when you’ve got someone with you.” 

 

Hannah’s lower lip trembled.

 

“Ok.” She finally said, dropping her hand from her mouth to roll up her flannel sleeve.

 

The smell hit her full force.

She nearly gagged. Her nose stung. If her fangs weren’t visible before, they sure as heck were now. 

 

“How do you do it?” Hannah murmured, not wanting to elaborate any further than she had to in a public school gym packed with other non vampires.

“I work in a hospital, dear.” Becky replied, picking up a new needle. “After a little while, you get used to it.” 

 

Becky held out her hand. Hannah took it without hesitation. “Ok Hannah, I’m going to count down from 10 now. You squeeze my hand if you want, but just try to stay still, alright?” 

Hannah nodded again. She squeezed Becky’s hand tightly. It was cool, but still warmer than Hannah’s. 

It felt nice.

 

“10… 9…”

 

Hannah squeezed her eyes shut.

 

“8… 7…”

 

Her stomach turned.

 

“6… 5…”

 

Across from her, another kid got his own shot. She could smell the blood in the air.

 

“4… 3…”

 

She gripped Becky’s hand tighter.

 

“2… 1…”

 

Even though she knew it was coming, it took everything in Hannah not to flinch at the prick of pain in her arm.

 

“Good job, Hannah! You did wonderfully.” Becky praised, withdrawing the needle and wiping up the blood with some cotton. “Wasn’t so bad, right?”

 

“I still didn’t like it.” Hannah grumbled, still not looking at the wound.

Becky laughed. “Well of course not. I don’t think anyone likes shots, sweetie. Even I don’t like them, and I’m a nurse.” She selected a bright yellow bandage and carefully placed it on the wound. “There we go. All better.” 

“You give shots, though.” Hannah pointed out. 

“True. I don’t like seeing kids in pain, either, though it makes me feel a little better knowing that at least those kids won’t get sick later on and that they’ll be happy and healthy.” Becky reasoned. 

 

Becky presented Hannah with a red lollipop. “I know it doesn’t do much nutritionally, but maybe something sweet will make the day less sucky, you know?”

A small smile tugged at the corner of Hannah’s lips. “I guess.” Hannah accepted the shiny lollipop. “Thank you, Miss Becky.”

Becky’s smile brightened. “Of course. Run along now, dear.” She turned to the boy behind Hannah. “Next!”

 

Sticking the lollipop in her mouth, Hannah began to walk away when–

 

“Nice fangs, biter!”

 

Hannah closed her eyes. Her throat tightened.

 

Not again.

 

Her normally slow heartbeat kicked up a notch in her chest, thumping against her ribs in a way that made her painfully aware of the fact that her body wanted to move— but it couldn’t, because she was frozen.

 

Please not again.

 

Raising a hand to her mouth in a desperate attempt to hide the twin, elongated canines that curled past her lips, Hannah tried her best to focus on anything other than the tight feeling in her chest. 

It wasn’t working.

It only seemed to constrict tighter and tighter by the second. Only seemed to worsen and worsen to a point where she thought her lungs might pop. Her free hand balled into a fist at her sides, the too-big sleeve of her secondhand flannel pressing tight against her palm. She knew she needed to walk, needed to go back and join her class, but her legs wouldn’t cooperate and her lungs were far too small– her breaths bordering on hyperventilating. 

 

Breathe.

 

She couldn’t. 

 

Move.

 

She couldn’t. 

 

It wasn’t even a voice she recognized , just someone tossing an insult at her for no reason like the others at school all seemed so inclined to do, but with that on top of the blood smell– that thick, living smell that made her fangs prickle at her lips and her hand tremble against her face. 

 

Hannah. You need to move. 

 

Can’t.

 

Her teeth clamped down hard on the lollipop stick to a point where she felt them digging into the tightly wrapped paper, and when she exhaled, it came out heavy– thick with tears she could feel forcing their way into her eyes. 

 

People are looking.

 

I know. 

Can’t move. 

Stuck.

 

This was what happened. This was always what happened– something good would happen, and then the universe would slam her with something that would balance it out– and she couldn’t do a thing to stop it, to stop the whispers that always, always rose in the air. 

 

The ones that were rising now. 

 

The ones that rose along with a feeling that filled her insides, pushing and pressing as though trying to break free from her small shape, one that would probably lead to a call to Lex and those tears she was desperately choking back falling down her face–

 

“Hey!” 

 

–it stopped. 

 

Becky.

 

She sounded closer. 

 

Hannah’s eyes opened. 

 

“You leave her alone!” 

 

Slowly, Hannah turned to look behind her.

 

Becky rose from her seat, shooting an icy glare at Hannah’s bully.

 

“Uh– wh-what?” The bully stuttered, clearly startled by someone actually standing up to him for once.

“I said , leave her alone!” Becky repeated. “That’s not very nice at all! Why in the world would you say such rude things?” 

The bully shrugged. “Cuz they’re true? She’s a biter and a freak. She doesn’t have any friends since she can barely look anyone in the eye, and she cries a lot. She’s basically asking to get picked on. And she deserves it.”

That only seemed to make Becky angrier. 

“Just because someone is different than you doesn’t mean they deserve to get bullied. No one deserves to get bullied!” She snapped. 

The bully raised his hands in defense. “Chill, lady. They’re just words. It’s not like I hit her just now or anything.” 

“Those ‘ just words’ hurt her anyways. They were cruel and wrong. One of them is even a slur, which you have no right to say, you understand?” 

 

Hannah couldn’t keep from flinching when Becky raised her voice. Webby had said Becky was a good person, she’d said so, but having someone yell– no matter who at – near her was enough to make her breaths turn shakier, hand moving from her mouth to doggedly wipe at her eyes. 

Her vision was blurry. Her eyes stung, and when she raised her head, Becky was closer– standing at her side with a fearsome look on her kind face. Her scrubs were wrinkled. Her hands were curled up at her sides, and when Hannah wiped at her eyes again, the nurse took a small step closer. 

 

“You can’t just say things like that to people,” she scolded, “in fact– you owe her an apology.”

 

No…

 

She couldn’t get the word out. Speaking seemed nothing short of impossible– she’d already caused enough of a scene, and now that the quiet sound of side conversations had faded from the air, it left her with nothing but her own thundering heartbeat and whistling breaths until the boy spoke up again.  

 

“I owe the freak what?

Hannah ,” Becky corrected, narrowing her eyes. “You owe Hannah an apology, and so help me, if there isn’t one, your parents will be called, do you understand?” 

 

Silence fell. 

 

Breathe.

You’re going to be okay, Hannah. 

 

“...well?” Becky prompted, tone sharp– sharp enough to make Hannah’s shoulders draw up to her ears. It sounded almost like–

 

No. Not her. 

–she shoved the thought away as it came. 

Ran away.

No more. 

It’s over. Lexie promised. 

 

Becky was Becky . Becky was good. Becky was just trying to help her, that was it, and although Hannah knew the nurse’s intentions were good, she couldn’t blink fast enough to keep the tears out of her eyes. 

 

Look up.

 

Her lip wobbled when her gaze left her sneakers, trailing slowly up to meet the eyes of the boy across from her, who– from the smell of it– had already gotten his shot. 

“...sorry for calling you a biter,” he finally mumbled, the words coming out in a halfway sneer as he lowered a hand to pick at the bandage on his arm. 

The smell worsened when he did. 

 

Her fangs sank into her lower lip, hard, hard enough that if she had a decent amount of blood in her body, she might’ve felt it welling up along the small, twin pockmarks she was leaving in her skin. 

She couldn’t keep her gaze from tracking to the red bandaid as his nail skirted just beneath and lightly pulled, peeling up some of the sticky side to a point where the smell of blood was nothing short of overwhelming, her heavy breaths only making it worse–

 

“Hannah?” Becky asked, softly. 

 

Hannah forced herself to look at Becky.

She couldn’t speak. Her throat felt as though it was being squeezed, and any words she would have attempted to say being crushed into nothing under the force. 

 

“It’s ok now. He won’t bully you again. Not on my watch.” Becky said kindly, lowering herself to Hannah’s height. “May I touch your shoulder?”

Hannah hesitated, then slowly nodded. Becky squeezed her shoulder lightly, her thumb running soothing circles over her flannel.

 

“Right now we need to focus on steadying your breath, ok? And if you can’t stand the smell, breathe through your mouth. You think you can do that, sweetheart?”

Another nod.

“Good. Breathe in…”

Hannah took a deep breath.

“Hold it. 1… 2… 3… now exhale.”

She did just so.

“Wonderful. You’re doing great.” Becky beamed. “Now again. In…”

Slowly but steadily, Becky helped Hannah calm down, praising her between every stable breath. 

 

“You feel a bit better sweetheart?” Becky asked earnestly once Hannah’s breathing had leveled out. “On a scale of 1-10, 1 being the best feeling ever, and 10 being the worst thing in the world, where are you right now?”

Hannah picked at her nail polish. “...5.”

“Better than a 10, right?” Becky glanced at her watch and frowned. “Oh, dear. Seems school’s nearly over. Hannah dear, do you ride the school bus, or does your mom pick you up?”

Hannah shook her head. “No. School bus doesn’t go home. And I… I don’t have a mom.”

 

Not anymore.

Thankfully.

 

“Oh.” Becky blinked. “Dad, then?”

Hannah shook her head again. “Also no. Never had one.”

 

That much was true. By the time Hannah was born, her dad had left her mom for good. Lex didn’t remember much of her dad either; apparently he and her mom had an on and off relationship which meant that Lex didn’t see her dad much. Even the parts she did remember, she didn’t like to talk about. 

 

Becky’s frown deepened. “How do you get home, then? If you live close to here, maybe I can walk you home–” 

Hannah’s eyes widened. “No!” She cut her off, panic seeping into her voice. “Sister… picks me up.” A piece of pink nail polish flicked off her finger and fell to the floor. “But she… she’s late today.” 

“I see.” Becky paused, trying to think or what to do. “How about this: I’ll stay with you until your sister comes to pick you up. Does that sound alright, sweetheart?”

Hannah didn’t reply, but Becky took it as a yes anyways. 

 

 

Lex was only half an hour late, yet Becky waited with Hannah the entire time, making small talk as they sat under a tree near the school’s entrance. 

 

“Don’t have a mom, huh…” Becky murmured mostly to herself before glancing at Hannah. “I don’t have kids either, you know.” 

That made Hannah look up. She tilted her head in a wordless question.

“I wanted kids but… I dunno, it just didn’t work out.” Becky sighed. Her fingers crept over her abdomen. “It wasn’t meant to be, I suppose.” 

 

Infertile.

 

“Infertile?” Hannah repeated out loud.

Becky stiffened. “How did you–”

“Webby told me.” Hannah pressed the side of her head. “...I don’t know what infertile means, though. Sometimes Webby says things I don’t understand.” 

 

Becky sat up straighter, her eyebrows furrowing. “Is Webby your… friend?” 

“Yes.” Hannah tugged on her braids. “She’s a spider. She tells me things sometimes. And she’s never wrong.”

“Is that so? That’s pretty cool, Hannah. I wish I had a neat spider friend when I was younger. Is there anything else special about Webby?” Becky encouraged, scooting a little closer.

Hannah brightened. She’ll let me talk about Webby. No one else listens to me about Webby except for Lexie. 

“Webby helps me when I’m in danger. Tells me who’s bad and who’s good.” Hannah started. “She told me you were a new friend and–” 

 

Whatever she was about to say was cut off by a call of her name.

“Hannah! I’m here!” Lex called, rolling her car window down as she pulled up to the curb. 

 

“Oh, that’s Lexie!” Hannah shot up from her seat, a grin stretching over her face. “I have to go.” She grabbed her bag, and, in a split-second decision, wrapped her arms around Becky and squeezed.

“Thank you, Miss Becky.” She whispered, before breaking away and running off to Lex’s car. 

Becky blinked in surprise, clearly caught off guard, before melting into a smile. “Goodbye, sweetheart.” She whispered back. She waved as Hannah left, even after the car drove off in the distance.



“I’m so sorry I’m late, Frank was being an ass and made me stay extra because I was late yesterday.” Lex apologised. “I promised I’ll make it up to you and–” She looked at Hannah in the backseat, and stopped. “Hey, what’s with that smile, Banana?” She asked with a smile of her own.

 

“Met someone new. Becky.” Hannah said simply. “Really nice. And like us.”

“Like us, huh?” Lex arched an eyebrow. “Meaning… like a vampire?”

Hannah hummed in confirmation. “Saved me from bully.” 

“Hey, that’s great!” Lex enthused. “Did the shots go ok?” 

 

Hannah gazed out the window, too lost in her own thoughts to reply. “I want to meet her again. Someday.”

You will meet her again, Hannah. 

“I will meet her.” Hannah corrected herself. “...I just hope sometime soon.” 

Chapter Text

“Ethan…” 

 

The name that left Lex’s lips was a mix between a moan and a sigh.

 

Lex .” Ethan groaned in reply, trailing open mouthed kisses up her neck. 

 

Ethan didn’t remember where the hell they were or how they got there, but that didn’t matter. None of it mattered. Not how they’d gotten there– obviously they drove, since they were in his fucking car– and not why they were currently tangled up in each other– he couldn’t give less of a fuck why it had all happened.

The only thing right now that mattered was him and Lex, in his car, making out like it was the end of the fucking world. 

 

“I can’t believe it took us this long to do this.” Lex sighed. She pressed her cheek against the cool window, only for Ethan to gently turn her cheek away and pull her into yet another kiss. 

“No kidding.” Ethan agreed between slick kisses. “I’ve wanted you for fucking months.” He nibbled at Lex’s lower lip, drawing a little gasp that he wanted to play over and over again, on loop, for the rest of his life.

 

“Me too.” She admitted. “I’ve just been too embarrassed to say it and–” Her breath hitched as Ethan squeezed the side of her thigh. “Hold on.” She forced herself to sit up straighter, and before Ethan could say anything, began to unzip her hoodie.

 

Ethan’s throat went dry.

 

“I-I…” He could only stare in awe as Lex tossed her hoodie next to his discarded jacket in the backseat, then leaned back in her former position. She was wearing no shirt, only a thin grey tank top and a plain black bra that peeked through the light fabric. Ethan had seen the bottom of this undershirt many times before, usually when Lex raised her arms up enough for her shirt to ride up and expose the tank top underneath, but he had never seen it in full, and certainly not like this .

 

He hoped he wasn’t drooling. 

 

“There we go. Better.” Lex hummed to herself. She arched a brow at Ethan’s stare. “What? What’s that look for, pretty boy?”

“You’re just so fucking beautiful.” He mumbled, diving in for another kiss. He cupped her face in his hands, and noticed that her skin wasn’t cold anymore. Probably because her entire face was red and, now that she was shirtless, Ethan could see her blush traveling down her neck and making her chest a lovely pink.

 

Cute. 

Never seen her blush like that before.

Must’ve had more blood in her than usual. 

 

“I could say the same about you.” Lex replied with a grin that highlighted her fangs. “In fact…” She pushed Ethan off her, then grabbed the bottom of his shirt. “Can I?” 

Ethan nodded. “Go ahead.” He raised his arms up, allowing her to slip his shirt off and toss it into the backseat.

 

Lex smoothed her hands over Ethan’s bare chest and hummed appreciatively. “Hot.” She murmured, trailing her fingers down his abs and hooking them in his belt loops with a tug.

 

Suddenly, a switch flipped.

 

Lex shoved Ethan into the driver's seat, then straddled his lap. “Much better.” She purred proudly. 

 

Holy shit.

That’s really, really hot. 

 

Unable to restrain himself, Ethan grabbed Lex’s back and pulled her into an intense kiss. He could taste the chapstick on her lips and her tongue tasted sweet and he wanted more, more, more. Based on her groan, she wanted the same thing. 

 

"Remember,” Ethan mumbled, “when you said I was a bad kisser a while back? You still sure ‘bout that one?” 

Lex laughed.  "Oh, on our date? I take that back.” 

“You better.” Ethan teased, slipping his hands under Lex’s tank top to fiddle with her bra clasp. 

“You sure as fuck proved me wrong.” Lex put up her hair in a messy bun using a hair tie Ethan hadn’t noticed she was wearing.

 

God she looks so good with her hair up. Always has. 

 

It was true. Even before Ethan had a crush on her, even before they were truly friends, Ethan found Lex with her hair up hot– why, even when they had first met and she had put her hair up to tend to his wounds, Ethan found that attractive as all hell. 

 

Sharing one last kiss, Lex’s hands traveled from Ethan’s neck to squeeze his thigh tightly.

 

“Can I?” She whispered again, pressing her forehead against Ethan’s.

All Ethan could do was nod dumbly.

 

God, I can’t believe she’s mine. 

 

After getting the ok, Lex flicked open Ethan’s pants button easily and grabbed the zipper, ready to pull it down when–



BAM BAM BAM!

 

“ETHAN!!”

 

“FUCK!” Ethan's eyes snapped open and he shot up in bed with a gasp. Sweat dripped down his face and chest, his heart still thundering from his dream.

 

More loud knocking.

 

“Ethan! Ethan, c’mon, get up already, we’re gonna be late!” Oliver’s voice whined through the door.

 

Oliver.

Yelling.

Mornings.

Right.

 

“UGGGHH.” Ethan groaned, plopping back in bed. Fuck this. Whatever the fuck Ollie’s whining about, it’s too early in the goddamn morning for this bullshit. Plus there’s– he peeked under the covers for a moment and grimaced– there’s that to take care of too. Fuck.

 

“Eeeethan!”

 

“Go away Ollie!” Ethan yelled, closing his eyes. 

 

An image of Lex’s flushed face, eyebrows scrunched together and biting at her lip flashed over his vision.

 

Ethan opened his eyes again.

 

Shit.

Not helping.

 

“Whaddya want, anyways? I’m busy trying to sleep like a normal fucking person.” He rubbed one eye sleepily.

“I need you to drive me to the Clivesdale Science Fair.”

“The fucking what?”

“The Clivesdale Science Fair? At the Clivesdale Stadium? I promised my science teacher I’d be there and I might be able to get a scholarship there. It’s all I’ve talked about for weeks!” Oliver explained impatiently. 

“I tend to sorta tune you out.” 

 

“Fuck you. Look, just–” Oliver sighed. “Please, just this once? It starts at 8 sharp but I wanna be there at least a few minutes early–”

“Drive yourself!” Ethan barked in irritation. 

“You KNOW I wouldn’t be asking for a ride unless I was desperate— there’s something wrong with my fucking car and I need to be outta here in like 30 minutes, Ethan, please .” Oliver begged.

 

Ethan gave a whine of protest. “But Clivesdale is so far awaaayyy.” 

“I know that! Which is why we need to leave ASAP! I can’t be fucking late to this one.” Oliver gave a few more harsh knocks. “We need to leave, now.

 

“Nope. Can’t.” Ethan brushed a few stray curls out of his eyes. “Sorry Ollie Polly. I physically cannot help you.” 

Oliver made an incredulous noise. “Oh yeah? And why is that?” He shouted.

“Uh… werewolf stuff!” Ethan shouted back.

Dammit, that didn’t sound convincing at all.

“Smell that? Smells like bullshit to me!” Ollie snapped. “Just get dressed already, it’s not hard!”

 

Unlike something else.

Ethan scoffed internally at his own joke. God that was bad. “Fuck off Oliver! I’ll eat your fucking toad! Again!” 

 

“You wouldn’t dare!” Suddenly, Ethan’s door burst open. “Get up or I’ll– wait, why are you all sweaty?” Oliver stopped mid threat, his face scrunching up in confusion. “You’re really red too. What happened–” His eyes traveled down from Ethan’s panicked face to his lap.

 

Oliver turned really red as well.

 

“EW, gross!” His expression warped into one of disgust. “Werewolf stuff, more like teenage guy stuff, good god.” He scowled, pointedly staring anywhere but Ethan.

“Dude, I can’t control this shit!” Ethan defended desperately. “Do you think I want this sort of stuff to happen to me in the morning?”

 

Oliver threw up his hands. “Well I don’t want to know what the hell sort of Lex themed dreams you’ve been having–” Ethan gave a strangled squawk at that, “–and frankly, I don’t care! God, even if I call an uber I’ll still be late. Fuck, forget about arriving there early. Just… I’ll give you 10 minutes to get up. Take a cold shower beforehand while you’re at it. Otherwise I’m stealing your car. Ugh.” With that Oliver stormed off, slamming the door shut behind him.

 

“Goddammit…” Ethan grumbled to himself, dragging his hand over his face in exasperation. 

 

Stupid recurring dream. 

That was the, what, 4th time he had had that dream in a couple weeks? 5th time, maybe?

Whatever the exact number was, it was too many times. For the love of fuck, he shouldn’t be thinking about doing that with his best fucking friend at all.

The first time he had that dream, Ethan was embarrassed as all hell. Fucking mortified, even. Oliver found him slamming his head against a wall at 6 AM, mumbling about being a horrible friend. He felt like he had betrayed Lex, somehow, even if she didn’t know what he thought of her. Unfortunately, googling “How to stop having recureing dreams about making out w frend” didn’t do much (the typos didn’t help either). 

 

Should I even take the little twerp to his stupid nerd fair? 

 

Ethan glanced at his bedside alarm clock. 7:13. That’d be 47 minutes till the fair started. 

 

While it was very tempting to just roll over and go back to sleep, Ethan sorta owed Ollie. Sure he was a fucking nerd, but that fucking nerd had helped him not fail his math exam, which stopped him from having to repeat yet another high school year. Which would have mega-sucked. 

 

Sighing, he forced himself out of bed, groaning at the sudden headrush of standing up too fast. 

 

Let’s see… 2 minutes to get dressed and uh… 5 minutes for a cold shower. I can get breakfast on the way back. Never been to the Clivesdale Stadium, but I think it’s nearish downtown which is like, 35 minutes away. So that’s 5 + 2 + 35 is 47? 43? 40– ah fuck, 40 something. Either way, it’ll be close. And that’s assuming I don’t get lost on the way or get a speeding ticket again. He calculated in his head with a grimace. 

 

Urgh. I do owe him though. God, why am I so nice to the dweeb?

 

He stretched with a loud yawn, reaching his arms up above his head and rolling his head back and forth, wincing at the series of sharp cracks that came from his neck. 



His phone buzzed.

 

Lexie 💕 (7:14): morning

Ethan (7:14): mornin

Ethan (7:14): were still hanging out this afternoon ya?

Lexie 💕 (7:15): yeah

Ethan (7:15): didnt u say u got a coupon for Coldstone yesterday

Lexie 💕 (7:16): Sure did

Ethan (7:16): aw fuck yea

Ethan (7:17): want me to pick u up at like 3ish?

Lexie 💕 (7:17): 3ish works for me. See you then Ethan :)

Ethan (7:17): see ya lexie ✌️

 

Biting back a smile, Ethan set his phone down, and went off to take a much needed cold shower.

 


 

“Damn, Lexie, thanks for the Coldstone’s. That really hit the spot.” Ethan murmured through a contented sigh. “Needed that.”

 

From beside him on the bed, Lex gave a soft huff of agreement and stretched her arms out above her head, trying not to focus too much on his proximity. It was a vampire thing as far as she knew– something to do with how cold she was that left her painfully aware of how warm other people were in comparison, and Ethan was no exception. Even with a few inches of space between them, she could practically feel the body heat radiating from under his half-zipped jacket. 

 

“Yeah, not a problem.  Honestly glad you came. Would’ve sucked to get ice cream alone.” She shrugged.

“That, and it’s because you like hanging out with me, right?” Ethan prompted. 

“That too.” She added. She scooted a bit closer, mostly trying to get more of Ethan’s warmth without being too obvious. 

 

“Though it was pretty funny when you got brainfreeze like, 3 times. Are you just incapable of eating ice cream without getting brainfreeze?” Ethan joked. 

“It’s ice cream! It’s part of the experience.” Lex complained. “Plus you know how easily I get cold, E.” 

 

“I know, I know. But the scrunched up face you make is really cute.” He winked and wrinkled his nose in imitation.

 

No, you’re really cute. 

 

Her slow-beating heart stuttered in her chest. 

Her eyes widened a smidge. 

 

Fuck. 

Where the fuck did that come from?

 

If he noticed the change in her demeanour, he didn’t comment on it– thank god

 

Instead, all he did was give a low groan and sling himself into an upright sitting position, offering Lex a crooked smile. His fangs peered out from between his lips– twin, pristine points that caught the dim light. “...how the fuck do you even enjoy things that make you cold?” 

“What’re you, some kind of wuss about that? You have a literal fur coat to keep you warm, and I’m used to it at this point, so… we die like men.”

Ethan quirked a brow. “Like men?” He echoed, bringing his hands to the mattress behind him and leaning back just a little.

Lex joined him. “Yeah,” she agreed, mirroring his position, “unprepared and probably stupidly.”

Probably?”  

 

“Well, death by ice cream seems like a shitty way to go, but if you think I’d give it up, you’re fuckin’ nuts. Lotta things are just…” trailing off into a shrug, she raised a hand to fiddle with the end of her sleeve. “I dunno, worth it, I guess.” 

“Yeah?” 

Lex nodded. “Yeah.” 

“Like getting Coldstone’s?”

Another nod. 

“Yeah.”

“With me?”

“...don’t push it.” 

“Just asking –”

“But you might’ve been a part of it, yeah.” 

 

“Awh. I’m touched. I… honestly know the feeling, heh.” Ethan touched his chest. 

“Really?”

“Yeah. Y’know, some things are just… I dunno, worth being a little cold for.” He shrugged.

 

Lex arched an eyebrow. “Got a list?”

Ethan faltered. “I–”

“I already told you mine– chocolate ice cream, slushies, uh… honestly, I really like winter. All that warm and fuzzy shit that comes with it. Snow, skating… love it, so… there’s my list.” Lex counted on her fingers. 

“Forgetting something?”

Lex rolled her eyes with a huff. “I guess you’re on there,” she admitted, slowly, at which Ethan raised his eyebrows.

“You guess?

“Don’t sound so offended.” 

 

“I’m not! Honest, just… you know you’re on mine, right?”

Lex blinked once, then twice. “...what?”

 

“Yeah. Like… when I first gave you my jacket, it wasn’t exactly warm out, but… like ya said…”

Ethan’s hand slowly slid over Lex’s, and carefully entwined his fingers with hers, then gave a little squeeze.

A soft smile.

“Lotta things are worth it,” he finished, quietly. 

 

His hand was warm.

 

They locked eyes.

 

Subconsciously, Lex’s tongue darted out to moisten her lips. 

 

“Lexie, I…” Ethan started.

“I like when you call me that.” She interrupted. 

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

 

God, she couldn’t get enough of that look . That look he gave her whenever she said something funny or leaned against him or anything really. That fucking look , like she hung all the stars and moon in the sky. Like she was the most important thing in the universe.

Usually Lex squirmed under attention. She didn’t like getting looked at for too long. 

But Ethan?

Ethan could stare at her all day with that fucking look, and she wouldn’t mind. 

 

His lips parted slightly. 

 

God they look so soft. 

 

Her stomach fluttered. 

 

Yes. 

 

I want to do this.

 

I need to do this. 

 

Her hand crept up to rest at his nape. His hot skin burned under her fingertips.

 

Yes. 

 

They both leaned in closer. Ethan’s eyes fluttered shut.

 

Yes!

 

Lex closed the gap first.

 

Her lips brushed against his, softly, gently at first. A finger at his nape found a stray curl and used it to tug him closer. 

 

Outwardly her skin may be cold, but internally a wave of warmth swept through her whole body, intensified by Ethan cupping his hand loosely behind her ear and smoothing his thumb over her jaw. His hand broke away from hers, only to wrap around her back to play with the ends of her hair. 

His scent filled her nose and made her head spin. This was so much better than all the times she had buried her nose deep in his leather jacket and wished it was him; this actually was him, he was here, now, with her, holding her like there was nothing more precious than her in the whole damn world. 

 

The best word to describe the kiss was tender , which was exactly how Lex wanted it. She didn’t want to be slammed against a wall and have her lips crushed by an ‘alpha male’ (whatever the hell that meant) or some shitty romance novel schlock; she wanted to be kissed and held by someone who cared for her, someone who was her equal, someone who made her feel good about herself and forget all her worries and doubts.

 

And that someone was Ethan Green.

 

After what felt like a little eternity, Lex pulled away for air, and pressed her forehead against Ethan’s. The only sound in the room was their panting breaths.

 

Lex was very, very tempted to swoop right back in for another kiss.

 

“I care about you, Lexie.” Ethan said, his voice low and slightly gruff, like he had woken up from a deep sleep. “I care about you a whole lot.” He lightly took her hand and pressed a gentle kiss to the back of it, maintaining eye contact the entire time.

Lex felt like she was going to melt. 

“I care about you too, E.” She echoed. “And–” She stopped as Ethan pressed her hand against his cheek, giving a quick peck to her palm as well.

Her palm tingled. She could hear her heart beating faster in her ears.

 

My heart. 

 

Badump.   Badump.   Badump.

 

Even when her heart was beating ‘fast’, it was still slower than a regular excited human’s heart would. 

 

Dammit. 

 

Moving on impulse, she buried her head deep in Ethan’s chest, nestling further so her ear was pressed right over his heart– pressed there to a point where she could nearly feel every rapid beat. 

 

BADUMPBADUMPBADUMPBADUMPBADUMP

 

Lex smiled and closed her eyes.

 

Better. 

 

She liked listening to Ethan’s heartbeat. It was always fast when he was around her, way faster than a normal heartbeat. Despite that, she found it comforting to listen to. 

 

Especially when he wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly. 

 

God, this was so much better than wearing his jacket and pretending it was him holding her.

She did that more often than she’d like to admit. 

 

Ethan buried his nose in Lex’s hair in return, giving her a tiny kiss on the top of her head. 

Lex sighed contentedly. I could stay like this forever.

She wanted to. If time were to freeze and leave her in the arms of Ethan Green, in all honesty, she wouldn’t mind, so long as she could listen to the sharp thuds of his heart in his chest and feel his warmth seeping into her veins. 

 

Gently, Ethan grabbed her chin and pushed her head up so she was looking up at him. Before she could say anything, however, he gave a soft kiss to her forehead.

Then her cheekbones. Her jaw. The corner of her mouth. Her nose. Her temple. 

He showered her face with tiny kisses, each one making her chest feel warmer and warmer. 

 

If Lex had a lot of blood in her body, her face would probably be completely red. 

 

“E-Ethan, hold on–” Lex stuttered between giggles as he peppered her cheek with eager kisses. “Wait a– woah! ” Whatever she was about to say got cut off by Ethan pulling her down to lay besides him on the bed.

 

Ethan propped himself up slightly with his elbow to stare at her with the softest, most smitten gaze. 

For once, Lex didn’t want to look away.

 

“I’m yours, you know that?” He whispered, brushing a strand of hair away from her face with a feather-light touch. “All yours.”

“Yeah,” Lex whispered back. She brought a hand up to trail her fingers over his strong jaw. She could feel both of them slowly moving closer. “And I—”



Lexie! Lexie wake up!”

 

Lex shot up with a gasp, nearly knocking Hannah in the head in the process.

 

“Wh-what?” Lex mumbled blearily. “Wazzit?” 

 

“Are you ok?” Hannah asked urgently. “Nightmare?”

What??”

“Nightmare?” Hannah repeated. “Weird noises.” She tilted her head, eyes narrowing a little in the dark. “...Red and sweaty, too.”

“Huh?” Lex’s eyebrows furrowed. She lightly touched her cheek, only to feel it warm– well, as warm as vampire skin could get– and slick with sweat.

 

“Shit.” She whispered under her breath. 

Did I really just dream of kissing my best friend??

“Shit. Shit. Shit!” She reiterated, running a hand through her tousled hair. “Fuck!”

 

“Lexie?” Hannah tried again, placing a small hand atop Lex’s hand. 

That was enough to pull Lex back into reality. Lex sighed, her shoulders slumping. “Sorry. I’m fine, Hannah.”

 

“Bad dream?”

Lex chewed on her lip. “Uh… no. Not really.”

 

Was it a bad dream? 

I mean, I shouldn’t dream about kissing my friend, but it wasn’t an unenjoyable dream per se…



Lex pinched the bridge of her nose. “Ugh. What time is it anyways?” She rolled over to stare at the bedside clock.

 

1:37 AM.

 

“Fuck.” She groaned. She rolled back to Hannah, who was still staring at her in concern. “Did I wake you up, Banana?”

Hannah shook her head. “No. Couldn’t sleep.”

“Oh yeah? Why’s that?”

 

“Webby talks a lot at night. Keeps me up.” Hannah paused, bringing a hand up to press against the side of her head, her brows only furrowing further. “...Webby says really good dream.” 

Lex’s eyes dropped to stare at her lap. “...I guess it was. Better than a nightmare.” 

 

If it was between dreams of being attacked or turned and dreams of kissing and cuddling her stupid attractive friend, she’d take the latter.

Even if the latter did make her heart squeeze and her stomach twist. 

 

“Go back to bed, ok Hannah?” Lex heaved herself out of bed with a grunt and grabbed her phone. “I’m… gonna go get some water.” 

“Ok.” Hannah crawled back into her own bed, stealthily watching Lex drag herself over to the bathroom, and ducking under the covers when Lex quirked an eyebrow her way.

 

In the bathroom, Lex quickly turned on the sink faucet, the old metal squeaking slightly in the still air. Immediately, she splashed cold water on her face and winced at the sudden chill.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?!” She whisper-shouted at her reflection. 

Pressing her palms to her eyes, Lex groaned yet again. “Lex, wake up. I’ve gotta be mistaken.”

 

Where the absolute fuck did those feelings come from? 

 Ethan was her friend.

 

Sure, he was… extremely physically attractive, but maybe that could be written off as aesthetic appreciation. So what if he was hot? A lot of people are hot. No big deal. 

And sure, he was very nice, and had lovely eyes, and made her laugh. And he was really nice to hold, and gave the best hugs. 

And… and…

Fuck, I think I’m attracted to Ethan. 

 

Lex forced herself to look in the mirror.

She didn’t like the exhausted, dripping wet, distraught looking girl staring back at her. 

 

She took a shuddering breath and pulled out her phone, texting the first non-Ethan person she could think of.

 

Lex (1:42): IS IT NORMAL TO DREAM OF KISSING YOUR FRIEND

 

Lex chewed on her lower lip. Shit, why would I even text that? Fuck, I should delete that–

 

Her phone pinged.

 

Deb (1:47): what? no

Deb (1:48): Lex it's nearly fucking 2 AM what are you doing awake

Deb (1:49): wait who is this about?? is it,, Ethan?

 

Lex nearly choked.

As fucking usual, Deb was right on the money.

 

Lex (1:51): NO

Deb (1:52): you sure?

Lex (1:52): YEAH 

Deb (1:53): Lex,, did you fucking dream of kissing Ethan

 

God , reading it only solidified how weird the whole situation was. Lex slowly slid down the bathroom wall as the reality set in.

 

Her fingers shook as she typed out her totally rational, reasonable response. 

 

Lex (1:54): No why would i do that of course i wouldnt thats crazy haha

Deb (1:55): Then why did you text me so fucking early in the morning asking a question like that

 

Lex stopped.

Good point.

 

Lex (1:57): I

Lex (1:58): I dont even fuckin know

Lex (1:59): wait what are YOU doing up at 2 am

Deb (2:00): Im a fucking stoner take a guess

 

Damn, what I wouldn’t give for a fucking toke right now. At least that’d distract me from my feelings. Lex sighed. 

 

Deb (2:02): Im not gonna tell Ethan about your dreaming about kissing him or whatever

Deb (2:02): but like

Deb (2:03): If youre dreaming of kissing your friend that generally means that at least subconsciously you like him

Deb (2:04): I see that fucking bubble shut the fuck up and let me finish

 

Lex stopped typing, her face twisting into a scowl. Dammit, messages app.

 

Deb (2:04): From your reaction Im guessing this is the first time youve had that dream?

Lex (2:05): .,,yea

Deb (2:05): Thought so

Deb (2:05): obvs I cant like dictate your guys’ relationship whether it be friendship or romantic or sexual or what the fuck ever

Deb (2:06): My advice tho is dont like overanalyze the dream. dont lose sleep over shitty sleep

Lex (2:07): ????

Deb (2:07): So you had a dream that you did whatever with your friend. Ok. Thats a dream that happened. But thats it 

Deb (2:08): Last night I had a wack ass dream that my gfs dad punched an amusement park mascot in the eye and there was purple goo everywhere 

Lex (2:08): grody

Deb (2:09): yea

Deb (2:09): But thats just a dream. Its obv not gonna come true. I dont want it to come true. Its just my brain being weird and nothing more 

Deb (2:10): Same w your dream. idk how out there it was, but its not gonna come true unless you actively work towards it coming true

Deb (2:10): If you dreamed you kissed Ethan, that doesnt mean youre 100% going to irl unless you make it that way 

Deb (2:11): If you dont want to kiss him then dont kiss him. And if you do wanna kiss him then go for it I guess. Its literally up to you

Deb (2:11): Plus Ethan is definitely NOT the type of guy to force anything on you, trust me

Deb (2:11): does that make sense???

 

Lex’s frown lessened. I never thought of it that way.

 

Lex (2:12): I,, I guess so

Deb (2:12): there ya go. nbd

Lex (2:13): thanks Deb that makes me feel a lil better 

Deb (2:14): lol np

Lex (2:14): ngl tho I’m a bit nervous bc ffs I have to see him tomorrow

Deb (2:15): Date?

Lex (2:16): NO

Deb (2:17): lmao I mean Ive been practicing love potions recently so if you want a batch I got some

Deb (2:17): weed in exchange for some love magic howboutit 

Lex (2:18): absolutely not good night

Deb (2:18): lmao 

Deb (2:19): tho tbh I dont think you need a love potion to get his attention 

Deb (2:19): have fun on your date tomorrow 

Lex (2:20): its NOT a date

Deb (2:21): sure jan

Lex (2:21): 🖕

Deb (2:22): gn Lex

Lex (2:22) night Deb

 


 

“Y’know,” Ethan remarked from where he was sitting, spoon tapping idly against the side of the half-cracked waffle bowl he was holding in one hand, “I can kinda see why Alice thought we were dating.”

 

Lex choked on her ice cream. “Alice thought we were what?”

Yeah .”

“That’s weird.”

“That’s what I said– but to be fair, I can kinda see why she’d think something like that.”

“You can?

“Well, yeah.” 

 

Watching as Ethan set down his bowl and raised a gloved hand, Lex raised her eyebrows slightly. 

“Fucking how?”

 

Ethan shifted his weight. “I mean, we hang out all the time,” he started, raising one finger, “and I think you’re like, the only person who knows about my other side–”

“Fursona?”

“Shut up– I’m trying to make a point.”

“And what point is that?” 

Why people think we’re dating– were you listening? Look, that’s two things– fuck, there’s gotta be more than that.”

“What about the fact that we text super late at night?”

“Oh, shit, yeah, that’s another one. Fuck. Oh – I’ve driven you home?”

“Friends can drive each other home, though.”

“True, but that many times? At night?” 

“...okay, you’ve got a point.” 

“We get food together, too– get drunk together, go to class together–”

Skip classes together, E,” Lex corrected, at which Ethan excitedly hit the table with his hand. 

 

OH! Nicknames! You’ve got like, a fuckton of them for me.”

“What can I say? You’re nickname-able– and none of those are affectionate, dweeb.”

 

Ethan raised an eyebrow. 

Their eyes locked.

 

For a moment, it looked like he wanted to say something– like the words were right there on the tip of his tongue– and Lex swore she saw a flicker of pink along his cheeks, though before she could prompt him to speak up, he averted his eyes and ran his fingers through his hair.  

 

“...do you not fucking remember what happened last week?”

“What?” 

“When we were drunk?”

“Uh, kinda?” 

 

It was sort of the truth. She vaguely recalled what they’d been up to. There’d been booze with chicken blood in it– how he’d gotten said chicken blood she still had no fucking clue– and then they’d gone off to… fucking Sonic or something, which had been a terrible idea because Ethan already drove poorly, and when he was drunk it was worse– and then they’d… 

 

She frowned. 

Ethan tilted his head. 

“...so no?”

“No, totally not.”

“Figures.” 

 

A slight smirk tugged at the side of his mouth. “You called me ‘Pretty Boy’.”

Lex gave a sharp disbelieving laugh. “Bullshit. You’re making that up.”

“Nope. You called me Pretty Boy, Greased Lightning, Green Bean, and Wolfie.” Ethan listed off. “Wolfie’s kinda like an affectionate pet name, yeah?”

“Yeah, a name for a pet. Like a fucking dog or something.” 

“See, that’s a slur–”

“Oh my fucking god, that’s not what I meant! I just mean that calling you Wolfie isn’t fucking hitting on you, okay?”

“Keep tellin’ yourself that, my dear Lexie.” 

“See, now that sounds like you’re hitting on me.” 

“I– no! If I was trying to hit on you, you’d know about it, that’s for fucking sure.” 

Lex managed to keep a straight face long enough to take another lick at her ice cream cone. “Oh? Could’ve fooled me, Green.” 

“...I don’t like what you’re implying with that.”

“What, that you’ve been flirting with me and you’re so shit at it that I didn’t even notice?”

Yeah! I’m way better at flirting than that.”

“Bet.”

Fine! Uh…”

“Stalling, loverboy?”

 

“Fuck off, I’m trying to think of something– oh, here.” Ethan took Lex’s hand in his and laced their fingers together. “Gotta make it more authentic, right?”

Right ,” Lex echoed, leaning just a little closer to him, “sure. Go the fuck ahead, then–” 

 

His free hand brushed against her cheek. 

Her words turned to a sharp inhale. 

Fuck.

 

Their eyes locked, and when they did, Ethan bit his lip slightly, just enough to pull her gaze to them. 

His fingers lightly trailed down from her cheek to the corner of her mouth. He wiped a drop of smeared ice cream up with his thumb, then slowly, while holding eye contact, licked up the chocolate ice cream from his thumb. 

 

Lex’s mouth went dry. 

 

“Sweet. Bet you’d taste sweeter, though.” Ethan mused, licking his lips.

Lex rolled her eyes. “God, that was bad–”

 

“Who said I was finished?” He cut her off and grabbed her chin. “Look at me.”

 

Lex couldn’t resist. Her eyes met his, and without thinking she leaned a little closer, closer to a point where if she angled her head just right–

Stop. Stop that right now.

fuck , it was a challenge to keep her unimpressed expression where it was. 

 

“I’m yours, Lex.” Ethan began, moving to trace a line down her high cheekbones. 

 

Lex’s stomach dropped.

Just like my dream–

 

“I’m all yours.” He purred. “And I could only dream of someone as beautiful,” His fingers dropped to skirt across her jaw, “and funny,” He tapped her temple, “and smart,” Momentarily he stopped touching her face, smirking at Lex’s pout, and moved her hand to rest on his bicep. Lex squeezed it automatically, too transfixed on his words to notice that she was feeling him up. “...and perfect as you being mine.” He finished finally, cupping her cheek and smiling as she pressed into it. He tilted his head. “...Unless you’ll help me make that dream come true?”

 

Lex swallowed heavily.

 

…Better than expected.

 

“You should see your face right now. You’re cute when flustered.” Ethan teased.

“I’m not flustered!”

“Mmhmm. Very convincing.” He bit his lip again, and not for the first time today Lex wondered if they were as soft as they were in her dream. 

 

“I hate you.” Lex said, though not even she believed her own words.

Ethan chuckled, low in his throat. “Sure you do. So why are you moving towards me?”

“Gravity.” She answered simply. 

“That so, babe? Guess I’ll have to thank gravity for bringing us closer, then.” He replied smoothly.

 

‘Babe’. 

Add one to the ‘pet names I find lowkey hot.” list, goddamn. 

 

Lex’s breath caught in her throat.

Ethan was looking at her the same fucking way he had in her dream. That same soft expression. Like she was the only thing in the world that mattered. 

She couldn’t help but think her own expression mirrored it. 

 

Suddenly, a self-satisfied smirk spread across Ethan’s face. “Ha.”

Lex blinked. “What?”

“I win.”

“The hell do you mean, ‘I win’?” Lex’s eyebrows furrowed.

“You’re blushing.”

“Huh?” She touched her cheek to feel it surprisingly warm under her fingertips. 

 

Shit. 

 

“Didn’t know it was a competition. No need to get all cocky.” Lex scoffed, yet averted her eyes and put her hand over her mouth to hide her blush anyways. 

“I dunno, I can’t help but feel proud that I made the great Lex Foster blush. It’s not an easy task,” Ethan leaned even closer, to the point where their noses were almost brushing, “is it, Lexie?” 

“Yeah, yeah, I get it already.” Lex grumbled, hating herself for going even more red at the nickname. “You accomplished your goal, so quit it.” 

 

What the fuck is wrong with me today?

 

“Alright, alright, I’ll stop.” Ethan chuckled softly and leaned back, wearing that stupid cute smile that showed off his fangs. 

 

Stupid Ethan and his stupid cute smile and his stupid pretty eyes.  

 

Ethan let go of her hand first.

Lex immediately missed his warmth. 

 

“Though really, you shouldn’t put your fingers near people’s mouths, even if there is ice cream on it. That’s sorta gross.” Lex said, forcing herself to look at her ice cream instead.

“Would you have preferred I licked it up directly?”

 

Fuckkk. 

 

Her wide eyes flicked up to meet his half-lidded ones.

 

Smug bastard.

 

“I thought I told you to quit the flirting, Green.” Lex mumbled, ripping her gaze away.

“Sorry, sorry. I was just teasing ya, Lexie.” Ethan rested his chin on his palm with a grin. 

 

“I like when you call me that.”

 

Lex regretted it the moment the words left her lips.

 

Deb’s words echoed inside her head– “your dream will not come true unless you actively work towards it coming true”.

Was that what she’d been doing? Sure, she’d dreamed about him kissing her after Coldstone’s, but they’d been planning to go out anyway, and asking him to flirt with her was just proving a point, not her trying to get him to like her.

 

I don’t want my dream to come true. I want it to be a dream and nothing more. 

 

Not that it was a bad dream–

 

No nope nope STOP thinking about that–

 

“Is that so? Noted.” Ethan’s grin widened. 

 

“Just shut up and eat your ice cream, dumbass.” Lex muttered. “It’s almost completely melted, by the way.”

Ethan laughed. “Yes ma’am– oh shit, you’re right.” Quickly he tried to shovel the remaining nearly soup like ice cream into his mouth, drawing a laugh from Lex. 

 

What an idiot.

 

A cute, loveable idiot.

 

Chapter Text

Lex was starving.

 

Seriously. 

 

She hadn’t eaten properly in fucking weeks .

 

They were running out of food, fast, which was such bullshit because she knew Hatchetfield had a fucking enormous rodent population– but be damned if she could manage to find any. The little fuckers were out , seeing as it wasn’t even close to winter yet, but every single time she went out scavenging for either roadkill or some cowering rat downtown, she’d come back empty handed. 

 

Not that she’d let Hannah know that. 

 

They had enough half-pureed raccoon stashed away in the fridge that her younger sister could drink, and that was all that mattered. 

 

Yes , she could barely step outside the motel without being absolutely pummelled with the smells of humans around her to a point where she’d double over and bunch her shirt over her nose, pinching hard enough that it hurt, and yes , she was painfully aware of how easy it would be to just snap to make her stomach stop hurting, if only for a moment, but Lex Foster was a stubborn bitch. A stubborn bitch who would not attack anyone.

 

Ever.

 

...sometimes, Lex hated being a stubborn bitch.

 

Like now, for instance, watching Hannah finish up the last of the raccoon she’d practically had to scrape off the highway thanks to the thing being damn close to paste when she’d found it. 

 

On the table, the fingers of one of her hands tapped out a fast rhythm– chipped, black-painted nails clicking ever so slightly against the wood– the other pressed firmly over her nose and mouth as to avoid smelling said raccoon paste as Hannah sank her fangs into the mess of what had once been an animal. 

Which wasn’t helping. It was just making it harder to breathe if anything as Lex kept her gaze trained solidly on the floor beneath her feet and rapped her fingers against the edge of the tabletop, trying to focus on anything other than the hunger that made her stomach twist.

 

“...okay?” Hannah questioned. 

 

Lex’s nails dug a little further into the tabletop. 

 

No.

 

“Fine,” she responded, quietly, not daring to smile in case it made her fangs more visible, not that they weren’t already digging into her fucking lip, “that okay?”

Hannah shrugged. “Tastes old,” she commented after a moment, at which Lex gave a shrug in return. 

“Well, that’s ‘cause it is - had that one awhile.” 

“Raccoon?” 

Lex nodded. “Raccoon,” she agreed through a heavy sigh- pushing her chair out from the table and stretching as she spoke, trying her damndest to ignore the smell of blood wafting from Hannah's side of the table. 

 

It wasn’t that strong- not something that a human would pick up on, and probably not something Hannah would notice, either- but with every inhale Lex took, she could almost feel it settling in her nose, that thick, coppery tang that left her sinking her fangs deeper into her lip and her stomach twisting into knots. 

 

Fuck.

Get a grip.

You’re fine.

 

Sure, fine didn’t normally constitute having to leave work early because she was struggling with the urge to rip into someone’s neck like it was a fucking kool aid packet and drink her fill, but fucking whatever. It was what she was going with, and probably about as close to fine as she’d be able to get until she managed to get lucky looking for some unfortunate animal near the winding Witchwoods highway, though as of late, the only unfortunate thing out there in the dead of night had been her.

 

Which hadn’t exactly worked wonders for her sleep schedule.

 

She was hungry, she was stressed because she was hungry, and to top it all off, she was fucking exhausted

 

Not a good combo.

 

Standing now, hand still pressed firmly against her face in a vain attempt to keep the smell- that fucking smell - at bay, Lex pretended not to notice the concerned look Hannah was shooting in her direction in favour of digging her phone out of her pocket. Weren’t distractions supposed to help with this sort of thing? 

 

Fuck. Okay. Pull focus. 

 

Almost automatically, she opened up her messages and tapped on the first contact listed. 

 

Lex (7:17): i know that vampires arent supposed to be able to die or whatever but i am actually on the verge of like. finding out. 

Greesed Litening (7:17): thats 

Greesed Litening (7:17): not good i assume???

 

Thank fuck. 

 

He was there. 

He always seemed to be- hell, no matter what time of day or night she’d shoot him a text, almost every time, he’d answer within the minute- and it was… something. It would’ve been endearing if she didn’t have to mentally run almost every message he sent her through a translator to take out whatever keysmashing bullshit he’d sent her way and make it into actual coherent phrases. 

 

Lex (7:19): im shocked that you can spell that

Greesed Litening (7:19): y? 

Greesed Litening (7:20): r u srsly doubtign my ability to spel? 

 

A snort escaped her. 

 

Lex (7:21): seeing as you just fucking proved my point,,, yeah, Green, I am

Greesed Litening (7:22): but i spelled assume just fine? 

Lex (7:22): yea and you only know how to do that because the word ass is in it, right??

 

The typing bubbles at the bottom of her screen faltered momentarily. A few times, they started for long enough to let her know he was actually thinking over what he was about to send, though they’d quickly fizzle out every few seconds. 

 

One of her fingers tapped the side of her phone case. 

 

Lex (7:24): dude just use speech to text

 

His message stopped again. 

 

Greesed Litening (7:25): fuck you

Lex (7:25): aw

Lex (7:25): your first words <3

Greesed Litening (7:26): i am so tempted to call u rn just so u can hear the noyses im making

Greesed Litening (7:26): im fucking hyperventiling trying to b quiet

Lex (7:27): wait why?

 

Leaning a little further against the countertop, glancing upward momentarily to see that Hannah was still draining what was left of the raccoon she’d salvaged, Lex inhaled slowly through her mouth and pulled her shirt over her nose. 

 

Greesed Litening (7:27): fucking Ollie wants the hole house quiet so he can work on his fucking applicatins or whatever

Greesed Litening (7:28): so im just trying to stfu for five gd minutes and now im breathing real heavy n sound like a terradactle 

 

Lex couldn’t hold in a laugh at that. The noise escaped her in a rush, and for a second, she was barely even aware of the scent of blood in the air. 

Until she inhaled. 

Inhaled sharply

 

Across the room, Hannah sat up a little straighter and shoot her a confused look for a moment before one of her hands raised to press at her head. 

“...Ethan?” She guessed, at which Lex nodded. 

“Ethan,” she agreed through a soft, almost fond sigh. 

 

Lex (7:30): i deadass dont know how to respond to that ngl

Greesed Litening (7:30): fair

Greesed Litening (7:31): u ok?

 

“That’s good.”

 

At the noise of Hannah’s chair pulling out from the table, Lex lifted her head and watched as her sister took the now very drained husk of what had once been part of a raccoon and tossed it in the trash. 

 

Thank fucking god. That’ll get rid of the smell. 

 

It barely did, but damn it, Lex was going to cling to that small victory like her life depended on it. 

 

Greesed Litening (7:32): srry 

Greesed Litening (7:32): i mean u probably are i just wanna know why ur thinking bout vamp death

 

Fuck.

 

Right. 

She’d started the conversation struggling not to go into a spiral. 

Ethan always made it easy to forget the shitshow she had affectionately dubbed her life, and now was no exception, but she had to admit, starting a conversation so depressingly wasn’t exactly a distraction from said depressing shit.

 

Lex (7:33): i mean im fine just fuckgn

 

...do I tell him?

No. 

That’d just freak him out. 

 

Lex (7:34): going through it rn ig

Greesed Litening (7:35): oh thats no good

Greesed Litening (7:35): u wanna talk about it?

Lex (7:36): sorta hard to type out. more abstract ig? 

Greesed Litening (7:36): fair

Greesed Litening (7:37): what about in person? Im bored as shit n im nearby that old abandond grosery store that the smoke club hangs around

Greesed Litening (7:37): the smoke club isnt there atm but we can still chill 

 

For a moment, Lex hesitated. 

 

She knew the answer she wanted to type out to him, of course, a hard yes , but that would also mean either chilling with him and leaving Hannah alone, or hanging out with him and Hannah at once, which would be interesting to say the least… 

 

It’s getting late… Hannah’ll be fine…

She’d been left alone before. Their mother- Pamela , the bitch- hadn’t really given a shit what either of her daughters had done, and Hannah had been left alone in the past, though not under ideal circumstances… 

 

Her gaze lifted from her phone. 

 

Across the room, Hannah turned to look at her. “Lexi?”

“Hmm?”

“Webby says…” Hannah held her hand to the side of her head and paused, listening. “Webby says go to the Witchwoods. Liar yellow. Lost key. Undead alive again.”

Lex’s brows drew together in concern. “What does that mean, Hannah?”

Hannah shrugged. “Dunno. That’s what she said.” Her hand dropped to tug at her braids. “Not talkative lately. Mainly a spider, not lady.” 

Lex nodded, mostly distracted by trying to decipher what the hell Hannah’s– or rather, Webby’s– prophecies meant.

 

“Hannah,” she began lowly, “do you think you could stay by yourself for a few hours? Just a couple hours, not like the entire night or anything.”

“Ethan, right?” Hannah asked without a beat, cocking her head like a puppy.

Lex blinked. “Um, did Webby tell you that?”

“No, I guessed. Ethan is the only person you hang out with.” Hannah replied rather bluntly. 

 

She’s not wrong. 

 

Lex’s eyes dropped to her shoes. “...Uh huh.”

 

Lex (7:41): Sure

Lex (7:41): Tho I prolly shouldnt stay out the ENTIRE night

Greesed Litening (7:42): fair enuff lmao 

Lex (7:43): I live about 15 min away, is that ok?

Greesed Litening (7:44): thats fine lol i can wait 

Lex (7:44): Ok then. See you soon :)



Lex exhaled and put her phone in her pocket. Hopefully Eth will be a good distraction. 

It was one of his specialties. The dude had a fucking knack for showing up right when she needed him most, and apparently, today was no different. 

 

“I'll be back in a few hours, k Banana?” Lex said, tugging on her Converse. 

“Ok. Make sure to stop after 3 taps.” Hannah replied without looking up from her sketchbook.

Lex froze. “Did Webby say that?”

“No, I saw it in a vision.” A dark look crossed over Hannah’s face. “...Or something bad will happen.”

 

“Thanks… for the warning, I guess.” At this point Lex was pretty much used to Hannah’s ominous prophecies, but for some reason this one felt important. Her stomach churned. “Well… goodbye, Hannah.”

“Bye bye Lexi.”

 


 

As Lex rolled up to the old Evergreen Grocery store 15 minutes later, she spotted Ethan leaning against the front wall, playing on his phone and smoking a cig. 

 

Their eyes met. A grin split across Ethan’s face, and the tension left Lex’s shoulders in an instant.

 

God, isn’t he a sight for sore eyes.

Uh.

Not like that. 

 

“Heya Lexie!” Ethan called, flicking the spent cigarette to the ground and bounding over to Lex the moment she stepped out of her poorly parked car. “How’s it going?”

“It’s going.” Lex replied tiredly.

 

“That bad, huh?” Ethan clicked his tongue. “Well, luckily I’m here to cheer you up. I was snooping around the store while waiting and there were these weird carvings on the wall, and I think I saw a fucking dead raccoon–”

“Was there any blood left?” 

Lex slammed her teeth on her tongue to stop herself from talking, but it was too late. She has accidentally let those stupid, desperate words out. Fuckkkk.

 

Ethan arched an eyebrow. “Uh, no. The thing was pretty fucked up, and old too. Not the best meal, if that’s why you’re asking.”

“Dammit.” Lex muttered. Her stomach rumbled, loud enough that Ethan could hear. 

 

“Lex, are you hungry?” His words were slow, careful, like talking to an animal. “When’s the last time you’ve eaten?”

Lex shifted uncomfortably. “...A while.”

 

Ethan’s face fell. 

“I knew it.” He whispered, barely audible even to Lex’s sensitive hearing. 

 

What?

 

What the hell? How could he have known? She never told him that she was starving, or hungry for that matter. Was it really that obvious? 

 

“I was half-hopin’ I was just overthinking things and that you were fine but… ‘pparently not.” Ethan ran a hand through his hair. “I’ve been thinking about doing this for a little while anyways so…” He exhaled. “Wanna go on a walk in the Witchwoods?”

Lex blinked. “Uh… sure. Why?” 

Ethan shrugged his shoulders. “Got some things I’d like to talk to you about.”

 

“O-ok.” No, this is not ok, what the fuck is going oooooon. 

 

The edge of the Witchwoods was only a 5 minute walk from Evergreen Grocery, and even though this part of the Witchwoods was… friendlier than other places, it still wasn’t exactly safe. Though no one really talked about it, there still were a number of suspicious disappearances around the area. There was an unspoken rule in Hatchetfield: Don’t go into the Witchwoods after dark.

Didn’t stop people from going into it anyways.

 

“Sooooo… what did you wanna talk about?” Lex questioned. She didn’t know why she was so on edge, but every time she stepped on a twig or branch– which was a lot, considering it was a forest– she’d flinch.

 

“Ah, that.” Ethan grimaced and stopped in his tracks. Lex followed suit. “Well… We haven’t seen each other as often we had in school. I mean, we still meet up a lot outside’a school, which is good, but…” 

Pausing, scuffing his heel against the dirt, Ethan dragged his fingers through his hair.

 

His eyes met her own. 

 

Lex’s stomach twisted, and this time, it wasn’t just from hunger. Nervousness began to claw at her insides, and try as she might to fight it back, all she could do was hold Ethan’s gaze. 

 

“...I’m just worried about you,” he finished, quietly. 

 

Shit.

 

Trying her best to keep her tone the same as it had been before he’d spoken, Lex tugged slightly at her hoodie strings. “...well, don’t be,” she tried to reassure him, “I’m doing great .” 

“Sure you are.” Ethan’s tone was flat, disbelieving. “You don’t have to lie to me, you know.”

“I’m not lying!” Lex insisted, but even she didn’t believe her words. 

“I just wanna help you.” Ethan argued. 

“Help me how? You don’t know what’s wrong with me.” Lex clenched your jaw. “You know I don’t like pity–”

 

“That’s not what I’m gettin’ at,” Ethan huffed, shaking his head and raising one hand to fiddle with his sleeve. There was a hesitance about him. One Lex hadn’t seen often– if ever- the same sort of hesitance that had come along with his werewolf confession. 

Something almost shy.

Which was fucking weird

 

Slowly, she took a step closer to him. Then another. And another. 

 

The smell of the blood under his skin was starting to get overwhelming. Her fangs dug into the back of her lip, and try as she might to breathe shallowly, it didn’t help the fact that she could actually feel her body starting to kick into autopilot– some deep, instinctual feeling, something that brought her alongside him and caused her to inhale, albeit, slowly. Her breath shuddered. 

She’d never gone this long before without feeding.

In the air, she could taste his pulse. 

 

“So… what are you getting at?” She asked, quietly, barely daring to raise her voice above a whisper. 

“What I’m getting at,” he started, leaning one shoulder against the nearest tree, “is that you’re starving , and if it’d help , I could–"

“No.”

“You didn’t even let me–”

No. ” 

 

Fuck.

Fuck fuck fuck. 

Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.

 

Opening her mouth to inhale, Lex was given her answer when one of her fangs clipped up against her lip and split the skin there. 

Any normal person would’ve backed away upon seeing that. 

Ethan Green, the fucker, stepped closer, and even as she raised a hand and pinched her nose as hard as she could manage, didn’t look as though he was going to back off. 

 

“Lex, hey, it’s okay–”

“It’s not.” 

“Well, no , and I’m sorry it’s gotten this bad, but–”

 

Lex took a step away. It took every ounce of willpower she had not to try speaking, but she knew if she did, that’d leave her mouth open, which would expose her fangs, which would make it harder to keep from driving them into his neck and–

 

Stop.

 

Her hands shook. 

 

“...Lex?” Ethan tried, softly. “Hey, it’s okay– you don’t gotta be scared. Lookit me- I’m not scared. Ain’t it a normal thing for vamps to have people they can drink from?

“What’s the word–“

“Blood Bags,” she responded, flatly. 

If Ethan heard her shift in tone, he ignored it. 

 

“That’s it! If you needed one, you could always… I mean, I’m not against it if you’re starved– or ever.”

 

The fact that he sounded so genuine made her chest seize.

 

Lex shifted uncomfortably and averted her eyes. "I-I– I just can't, ok? I don't want a Blood Bag."

"I know. But I'm not a Blood Bag." Ethan insisted, touching her shoulder gently.  

"You want me to drink from you like a Blood Bag though." 

"If it makes you healthy, then yeah. I'd do anything for you, you know that." Ethan squeezed her arm lightly. “I care about you so fucking much, and all I want in the world is for you to be healthy and happy. And right now, you’re obviously not.” He cupped her cheek with a feather light touch. “So if it means giving you a little blood, then I’d do it in a heartbeat.”

Lex’s lip trembled. “...Didn’t you see the news? A human Blood Bag fucking died ‘cuz his vamp wasn’t careful and drained too much.” She put her hand over his, pressing his palm harder onto her cool cheek. “I wouldn’t be able to bear it if that happened to you. I’d–” Her voice broke, and her eyes dropped to stare at the ground. “I-I couldn’t do it. I can’t.” 

 

Suddenly, Ethan drew her into a tight hug, a hug which Lex hesitantly returned. Her fingers trembled as they wrapped around his back and tangled into the stiff fabric of his jacket. 

 

“You’re shaking, Lexie. You’re shaking.” Ethan murmured, carding his fingers through her hair. “I trust you with my life, literally. And I looked it up– you don’t have to worry about turning me, cuz werewolves can’t be turned into vampires.”

 

“Yeah, but I’m not a normal vampire.” Lex mumbled.

Ethan’s eyebrows furrowed. “...What do you mean?”

 

“I mean I wasn’t turned like a regular vampire,” she whispered, shakily. “Usually, when you’re turned, you need to be bitten then drink the blood of the vampire that bit you, but with me, that…”

 

Bringing her hands up to her head, Lex took a slow breath in through her nose and exhaled at the same time she dragged her fingers through her hair. 

 

“That didn’t happen,” she finished in a heavy exhale. “I never drank any vampire’s blood.” Her shaking intensified, and she buried her face in Ethan’s chest. 

 

Under her ear, his heart thumped away– the quick rhythm alone enough to make her melt into his embrace, the reminder that he was alive , that he was living and full of blood and–

 

“Hey, Lex, s’okay, you don’t gotta keep going,” Ethan murmured, one arm wrapping tightly around her back, pressing her against the folds of his shirt. 

 

Her vision blurred. 

 

“I just– I stumbled upon this woman draining some poor guy– h-he was screaming out for help, gurgling and bleeding, and I-I tried to stop her but…”

 

She tried to give a laugh. It sounded more like a sob. Ethan’s grip on her tightened. 

 

Breathe.

 

She did. The words were pouring from her now– she’d kept them down too long to choke them back, and now that the dam had broke, it was overflowing. “She turned around and bit me– more like, tore out my fucking jugular. And Hannah– god, poor Hannah– sh-she freaked out and tried to push the bitch away, so the vamp fucking–” Her voice cracked horribly, and she pushed down a sob. 

 

She could see it in her head, see it, feel it, smell it – that thick, coppery scent that had filled the air thanks to the substance gushing from her neck, and try as she might to force the images away, the sounds , the screams , they rose through her memories with an incredible amount of force. Her fingers dug into Ethan’s jacket. 

 

“She fucking slashed Hannah’s throat with her claws. I watched her head crack open on the pavement, and I couldn’t do shit ‘cuz I was bleeding out myself. Hannah was fucking 7. She attacked a fucking child, a-and then that bitch just walked away. Left us to die in an alleyway.”

 

She remembered it. How it had felt, how it had hurt – ached and stung and left her frantically trying to cling to a life she knew she was losing as she choked and gurgled out for Hannah, blood dripping from her lips in thick, sticky strands, vision blurring–

 

“HANNAH!” 

It came out in a mess of garbled syllables, not that it mattered, because Hannah couldn’t hear her– there was no way, not over the sickening crack that seemed content to replay over and over in Lex’s head from the moment her younger sister had smashed against the pavement.

“Han… Hannah… Hannah– HANNAH–”

 

She’d crawled. It had hurt. It had hurt to move, and her whole body had felt too stiff, too cold, but she’d forced her way through the alley until her hand found another. 

Somehow, it was even colder. 

 

In Ethan’s arms, Lex swallowed a sob. “I… I h-held Hannah’s hand as we died.” A tear rolled down her cheek. “I thought it’d be the end for us but… I don’t know what the fuck happened. Just as I was about to fade away forever, I felt a sudden burst of energy. Like a weird electric shock or something, and this voice . It, they, whatever – said ‘you’re not dead yet’, a-and then I woke up and… and I wasn’t human anymore. I became a fucking monster . Sometimes I wonder…”

 

When she inhaled again, it was too sharp. Her body trembled. 

 

“I wonder if it would have been better if I didn’t wake up.” 

 

She might’ve been able to keep it together if Ethan hadn’t taken the opportunity to hold her tighter, squeezing gently, pressing her face to his chest.

 

“Lex…”

 

She broke into a sob. She couldn’t keep it in. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair that he could just say her name like that, like it was some fucking precious thing– like she mattered – it wasn’t fair . Gasping for air, face pressed hard against him as he breathed and held her close, Lex felt her body going limp involuntarily when he trailed a hand over her back. 

 

“Hey, I… Lex, it’s okay , it’s over–”

 

“It’s fucking NOT though!” She interrupted, her own volume causing her to stiffen before she seemed to place who the yell had come from. “It– it’s not over! Every day I get up a-and I’m still– I’m still this , I– I’m a fucking MONSTER, Ethan!”

 

She couldn’t breathe. 

It didn’t stop her from inhaling harshly, her breath whistling in her throat– most of it getting wasted on a pathetic sounding sob. “I’m just a fucking monster , I–”

 

Lex.”

 

Her words caught in her throat when Ethan pulled her closer still. 

 

“...I think we both are.”

Against his chest, she scowled. “That’s not what I meant, you’re not a–” 

“I turn into a fucking huge wolf once a month and have to get locked in my uncle’s basement, Lex,” he informed her in a huff. “So I don’t eat people . Sounds pretty fucking monstrous to me.” 

 

“Well, yeah, b-but that doesn’t make you... I mean, y-you didn’t ask for it, it... it just happened , a-and then you did what you could...” Lex stammered. 

Ethan let out a quiet sigh. “...you’re doing the same thing, you know that?” 

“What?”

 

“You didn’t ask to be a vampire, and you’re doing what you can– how come you’re a monster and I’m not? Lex, you can’t just go and act like you’re unlovable because of what you are, okay? Because one, you’re a fucking hypocrite if you do, and two, you’re not a monster. Monsters are like... I dunno, the bitch who attacked you– would you ever do that?”

Lex looked up, expression aghast. “I– no! No! Never, I’d never... I wouldn’t–” 

“Then there’s your answer right there. Just ‘cause she turned you, that doesn’t make you a monster. Just makes you... I dunno, you .” Ethan began to stroke Lex’s hair soothingly. “And I like that you.” 

Lex’s hands balled into fists. “Yeah. Lex Fucking Foster– vampire extraordinaire. Fucking pathetic, stupid failure who went and–” 

 

“Lex.” Ethan interrupted. “Look at me.”

“...I’m looking.”

 

It was hard for Lex to focus on Ethan through the tears. 

 

“...you’re not a monster any more than I am, mkay? And sure, technically we're monsters, but that doesn’t mean we have to act like it, yeah?” Slowly, his hand trailed down to her chin, lifting it so their eyes met. 

 

He looked genuine. Earnest. More than she’d ever seen him. 

 

“There’s a difference between being a physical monster as in not being human, and being a monster as in you do horrible things and hurt people. Both of us are monsters in that we’re not humans. But we don’t kill or maim or do any of that shit. You’re a good person, Lexie.” He ran a comforting thumb over her cheek, and when she inhaled, he rolled his eyes. “No buts. Full stop. You, Lex fucking Foster, are a wonderful fucking person. It doesn’t matter if you’re human or supernatural, doesn’t matter if you drink blood or not. You're still the girl I–” He cleared his throat, his cheeks turning red. “...You’re still the most precious person in the world to me.” He amended. “And I, for one, am so fucking glad you woke up.” He shot her a soft smile. “Not only did you literally save my life, but you made it a whole lot better too.”

 

Lex gave a half laugh, half sob. “God, shut up, you fucking sap.” 

“It’s true!” Ethan insisted. “Totally true.” He bumped his forehead against hers.

 

“...I don’t deserve you.” She sniffled.

“Yes you do.” Ethan wiped a tear trailing down her cheek away. “We deserve each other.” 

“You think so?”

 

“I know so. And if you’re so worried about not being a monster, I know how you can prove it. Drink from me.” He suggested.

Lex grit her teeth. “Ethan, I told you, I can’t-” 

“Do it. See, a monster would’a done it already. You’re hesitating.” He tilted his neck, showing off the pale expanse of skin. “I’m offering myself up to you. I want you to drink from me.”

 

Lex’s chest throbbed.

 

“...Ethan...”

 

“I’m serious. You’ll stop before I get hurt, and you... you need it.” He took her trembling hands in his. “Do you trust me?” 

“I do.” Lex replied without a second thought. 

 

“What I want right now is for you to be better and be healthy. And if that means drinking a little of my blood, so be it.” He squeezed her hands one, two, three times. “Though I believe you know when to stop, if worst comes to worst I can pull you off or tell you to quit it. I trust you with my life.” 

The fact that he sounded like he meant it was enough to make the throbbing in her chest worsen, turning almost painful. Her lips drew together in a thin, tight line. “...You really shouldn’t,” she murmured, at which Ethan cocked his head. 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” 

“It means you shouldn’t trust me with your fucking life–”

“Lex– I feel like we’re talking in circles,” Ethan said firmly. “I know you’re stubborn, but so am I. Right now, you’re fucking sick and weak and I hate seeing you like this, and if my blood will help you be healthy, then I am more than willing to give you some.” He squeezed her hands again. “ Please, Lex. If you won’t do it for yourself, then do it for me.” 

 

Lex hesitated for a moment, then finally sighed, her shoulder slumping. “...Fine.” 

 

Ethan smiled. Her heart throbbed once more, though not unpleasantly. 

 

I really wish I didn’t have to do this but… as long as I don’t hurt him too bad, it should be fine… right? 

 

Ethan slowly unzipped his jacket.

 

Lex’s heart skipped a beat.

 

“Do you want my shirt on or off?” He asked casually. “I’ve uh, never had my blood sucked before, so I don’t know if it’ll make a big mess or not.” He tossed the jacket onto the forest floor.

 

Her throat went dry.

 

“U-uh, m-maybe keep your sh-shirt on.” She stuttered. “Um, random question, is it near the full moon by any chance?”

“Hmm? Oh yeah, tomorrow’s the full moon.” He stretched his arms over his head. “How’d you know?”

 

Lex swallowed heavily. “I uh, you look… you look different than usual.”

Not that it was a bad different.

Definitely not. 

In fact, Lex was quite glad werewolves gained muscle before the full moon. 

 

And honestly, how was Lex not supposed to look when he was wearing a dark red t-shirt so tight she could see the outline of his pecs, so tight it looked like it could potentially burst from his biceps? It just wasn’t fucking fair. 

I don’t think I could handle him with his shirt off.

 

Ethan didn’t seem to notice Lex’s staring, thank God.

 

“Oh yeah, being a werewolf does that. It’s really irritating– like, some days I wake up and bam, none of my shirts fit properly. Fucking sucks.” Ethan scratched the back of his neck. “Sorry ‘bout that. I–”

“You’re fine!” Lex cut him off. “It’s- it’s all good.”

 

If she had any blood in her body, she absolutely would be blushing.

 

“Are you keeping your hoodie on?” Ethan asked. “So you don’t get blood on it, or whatever.”

Lex arched a brow. “Ethan Green, are you trying to undress me?”

 

Ethan’s face went as red as his shirt.

 

“Wh-what? N-no! Of– of course not!” He sputtered. “I’d never– I mean, I’d never force you to take off your clothes, I-I’d never force you to do anything. I was just suggesting you take off your hoodie so it doesn’t get dirty, nothing other than that! And I uh– um… uh…” He trailed off and looked at the ground. “Sorry.” 

 

Damn, he’s cute when he’s flustered.

 

Lex snickered. “I’m kidding! I’m just teasing ya, E. No need to get all worked up about it, you fucking dork.”

Ethan gave an irritated huff. “I am not a dork!” 

“Sure you’re not. And I’m the fucking Queen of France.” Lex rolled her eyes.

“Oh my god.” Ethan put a shocked hand on his chest. “You… Your Majesty!” He made an overdramatic bow with a flourish. “I am but your bumble servant.”

That sent Lex into a fit of loud laughter. “Jesus christ, Ethan! Shut up.” She guffawed and pushed his chest teasingly. “And it’s humble servant, not bumble servant, dummy.”

 

“Whatever.” Ethan caught Lex’s hand before she could move away, and his voice softened. “So… are we doing this now, or not?”

Lex took a deep breath, then nodded. “Ok. Let’s do this.” 

 


 

So.

 

Ethan never thought he’d ever be pushed against a tree with his crush nearly on top of him, but life is really fucking strange sometimes. 

 

It certainly wasn’t an innocent looking position. Both were seated at the base of a bigass tree, with Lex firmly straddling Ethan’s lap and pressed against him at an angle that let her reach his neck easily.

 

It was very difficult to keep a straight face when internally he was freaking the fuck out.

 

Hooooh my god, Lex is straddling my lap, and I can feel her chest against mine, and she smells really good, and her lips are about to be on my neck and aaaaaaaaaaaaah. 

 

On the outside however, he simply gave her a tight smile. “You ready?”

Lex nodded shyly. “You remember the safeword?”

Safeword. Like what people have for safe se–

“Yep.” Ethan cut off his thoughts. “Green, yellow, red. Standard stuff.” He tilted his head. “...Maybe 3 taps on the back, if I can’t speak.” He added. 

 

“Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.” Carefully Lex lifted Ethan’s head and tilted his jaw to the side, exposing his neck. As Lex ghosted her fingers over his pulse, he drew a sharp breath.

God her fingers are cold. 

Hopefully they’ll get warmer.

 

“Ready?”

“Mmhmm.”

 

The moment her lips met his skin, Ethan let out a shaky, shuddering gasp that he really hoped didn’t sound like a moan.

 

“I didn’t even bite you yet.” Lex murmured, words tinged with amusement. 

“‘m sorry. Got a little psyched up ‘sall.”

 

That and I’ve dreamed of your lips on my skin a hundred times and it’s finally happening so I’m fucking flipping out. 

 

“You good now?”

Stiffly, he nodded. 

“Yeah. Sorry. Go ahead.”

 

The first bite was not pleasant. 

 

Her fangs were not thin like a needle, but were sharp enough that it didn’t take much pressure for the skin to break. Still, he winced at his delicate skin rupturing to steadily spill blood that Lex immediately licked up.

 

Ohhhhh fuck.

 

Christ. While usually Ethan would be all for Lex’s tongue on his neck, this was a decidedly less sexy situation than he initially imagined. He could actually feel his blood level dropping with every second Lex spent with her fangs embedded in his neck, and try as he might to keep breathing deeply and evenly, eyes flickering shut after the first few seconds, it didn’t take long for him to be panting. 

 

Shit.

 

Who knew having blood drained was such a shitty ordeal? 

He progressively got colder and colder the more she drank from him. His breathing quickened. His heart pounded in his ears.

 

“What colour?” Lex breathed against his neck. 

 

Red.

“Yellow.” Ethan replied instead. 

 

Damn, even if he closed his eyes, he still couldn’t imagine this as just a kiss– not with the way he could feel hot blood dripping down his neck or his mind clouding the more blood left his body.

 

Ok, this needs to stop. Before I pass out.

Ethan opened his mouth to speak.

Nothing came out.

Fuck. 

 

Hesitantly, Ethan tapped Lex three times on the back, and, after a moment, she fucking thankfully paused.

 

“What? You good?” Lex murmured, her words slightly slurred. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and sat back, her blissed-out smile turning into a worried grimace as she saw Ethan’s expression.

“Oh shit , Ethan, are you ok? Fuck, I drank too much didn’t I? Shit. Dammit, I knew that’d happen!” She swore. Biting her lip, she cupped Ethan’s face in her hands. “Can you speak, Eth?”

 

Her touch was warm .

 

Ethan took a moment to gather his bearings.

 

“You’re beautiful.” Ethan mumbled.

“What?”

 

It was true. Ethan had never seen Lex with so much colour in her cheeks, and goddamn, was it pretty.

 

“I’m serious.” He said, taking extra care not to slur his words. 

“You’re delirious.” Lex countered, though her lips quirked up in a smile. A little bit of blood dripped from the side of her mouth. 

 

“Maybe.” Ethan attempted to move his head, only for it to loll as if pulled down by a ball and chain. “You feelin’ bettah, Lexie?” 

Lex laughed. “Yeah, much better. I’ve never felt like this before. I feel… alive . It’s crazy.”

“A good crazy though, righ’?”

“Yeah. Definitely a good crazy.” Lex smiled, and wiped off the remaining blood on his neck carefully. “There we go. Wouldn’t want your shirt to get all messy, since you were so worried about that.”

 

God, just kiss me already. 

 

“...What did you say?”

 

Fuck, did I say that out loud?

 

“Huh?” Ethan forced his drooping eyes open. “What’d I say?”

“I don’t know. You mumbled something but it was a jumbled mess.” Lex shrugged. “That’s why I asked ‘what did you say’.”

“Oh. Ok.” He could barely hear himself speak. The only thing he was focused on was Lex and only Lex. “I dunno wha’ I said.”

 

“Figures. You’re pretty out of it.” Lex ran her non bloodied hand through her hair and sighed. “Dammit. Do you think you can walk?”

“Uh…”

“Taking that as a no.” Lex sighed again, and climbed off Ethan’s lap to her feet. 

 

Ethan bit back a whine.

Come back. I liked being close to you.

 

Lex offered her hand. “C’mon.” When Ethan didn’t immediately take it, she bent down and wrapped her arm around Ethan, then lifted him up with surprising ease. 

“Wow. Strong.” Ethan murmured in admiration. He leaned on her heavily, but she didn’t budge.

“Yeah well, guess that’s what being properly fed does for ya. Makes me strong.” Lex slung Ethan’s arm over her shoulders. “There we go.”

 

“I like strong girls.” 

He didn’t even know what the fuck he was saying anymore.

“That so?”

“Sure is, babe.” 

“...You’re delirious, Ethan.” Lex said again, a little quieter, more to herself than him this time. 

 

“And you’re warm.” Ethan returned. Gently he laced his fingers with Lex’s free hand. “See? You’re warm, and I’m cold.” A pause, then a soft smile. “...Like opposites.”

Opposites attract.

 

Lex’s cheeks went pink. 

 

“Y-yeah.” She stammered. “I, um…” She broke away from his hand. 

 

Ethan’s smile flickered momentarily, but broadened as Lex pressed her forehead against his and cupped her warm hands over his cheeks. 

 

“You really are cold, huh.” She muttered. 

“Bein’ drained does that to ya.” Ethan joked, then raised a brow. “This always how ya take people’s temp’atures?” 

Lex’s eyes flicked to the side. “...Not everyone, no.” Her eyes returned to Ethan’s. “This always how you look at people trying to feel your temperature?”

“Look like what?” Ethan tilted his head.

“I dunno. Like… puppy dog eyes, or whatever.”

“Oh. Nope. Just you, babe.” He gave her a crooked grin.

Lex broke eye contact to stare at the forest floor and bit her lip. “Definitely delirious.” 

 

She exhaled. “Whatever. We should get back to the car before it gets completely dark. I’ll drive.” She shifted so they were both more upright. “Wait– ah, shit.”

“Wha’?”

“It’s your fucking jacket. It’s still on the ground.” Lex jerked her head at Ethan’s jacket a few feet away. “You’re gonna have to stand on your own for 2 seconds while I go get it.”

 

“Huh? No–”

Before Ethan could even finish his sentence, Lex let go of him to grab the jacket.

 

Ethan immediately dropped. 

 

 “Fuck, Ethan!” Lex caught him just as he was about to hit the ground. “Jesus Christ! Can you really not stand up by yourself for a few fucking seconds?”

 

“Sorry. Caught me off guar’, ‘sall.” Ethan apologised sheepishly. His eyes flicked to the ground, where a large rock stood inches from his head. “Oh, shit. If ya hadn’t caught me, I totally woulda had my head cracked open like a fuckin’ egg.” He looked back at Lex. “Damn. You saved my life for like, the fifth time. You’re really somethin’ ya know that?”

“I could say the same thing to you.” Lex snarked, though she was smiling. 

 

“‘m your damsel in distress. Dude in distress.” Ethan made a snort at his own shitty joke as Lex helped him shuffle back to her car. 

“Oh yeah? What happened to Mr Big Strong Werewolf Man, huh?” Lex opened her car door, and carefully set Ethan down in the passenger's seat.

“I can be both.” Ethan noted, humming as Lex set his jacket in his lap. 

“Mmhmm. Sure you can.”

“I can!”

 

“Ok, ok.” Lex raised her hands in surrender. “I believe you. Do you remember your address?” 

“Ughhhhh, barely. Hard to think at the moment.” He groaned. 

“Can you at least type it into google maps?” Lex offered him her phone.

“Fuck, fine.” Wincing at the bright light of the screen, Ethan typed out his address, then handed her phone back.

“5249 Raven Road? Damn, you really do live on the edge of town.” Lex whistled. “Why do you live so far away?”

“Why does my Uncle live so fa’ away.” Ethan rectified. “Used to live in town, but Unc is a fuckin’ shut in who wants to be away from people. ‘s really inconv– incov– incovee– it sucks.” 

 

“Rrright.” Lex said slowly, starting up her car.  “Well, it’s not a short drive so you’ll have to hang in there.” She flicked on the radio to the soft rock radio, then after propping her phone up on the dashboard began to drive.

Ethan nodded, cringing a little as his vision spun.

“Try not to fall asleep, k? At least be semi-awake.” Lex said, glancing at Ethan besides her. “Wait till you’re home to pass the fuck out.”

“No ‘s fine. ‘m so good at stayin’ awake. If stayin’ awake was like, an Olympic sport, I’d geh like, a bronze medal.” Ethan mumbled, clearly two seconds from passing the fuck out. 

“Sure.” Lex exhaled and ran her hand through her hair. “Fine, you can sleep I guess. I’ve slept in your car so many times; it’s only fair you sleep in mine. But if you don’t wake up when we get to your house and you die in your sleep, I’ll never forgive you.” 

“Yes’m.” Ethan muttered, closing his eyes. “No dying. Got it.” 

 

The last thing Ethan remembered before he lost consciousness was Lex fixing his jacket on his lap, so it lay like a leather blanket over him. 

 

God, I like you so fucking much. 

 


 

“Ethan. Eth. Greased Lightning. Green Bean. E. Ethan , wake up already! Please !”

“Huh? Wha’ the fuck?”

Ethan opened his eyes blearily to find Lex shaking him gently, her eyebrows creased in concern and a worried frown on her pretty face.

“Oh, thank god. I thought you’d really up and died on me.” Lex sighed in relief.

“Nah, you’d get pissed at me if I died. I wouldn’t do that to ya. Plus you’re fuckin’ scary when you’re pissed.” Ethan rubbed one eye sleepily.

 

Lex laughed. “Damn straight. We’ve arrived, by the way. Uh, assuming you live in that goddamn mansion, and I didn’t just get us terribly lost.” 

Ethan sat up with a groan. “No, that’s the one.” 

 

“Ok, good. I didn’t know what I was expecting when I rolled up to your Uncle’s house but… it definitely wasn’t this.” She unbuckled herself. “I passed some fucking stables earlier– your Uncle seriously owns horses ? Like, how rich is this guy?”

“No idea.” Ethan shrugged. “He’s a biologist, so maybe he did something cool in the biologist community and got money for it?”

“I thought you said he was a community college professor.”

“Well he is, but he used to be really smart.”

“Used to be?”

“Ok, he’s still smart, but he’s just weird . I mean, it’s funny most of the time, but sometimes he’s… not 100% there? Like, one day he was acting off and mumbling to himself a lot so I asked him if he was ok and he went,” Ethan pushed his arm back and stuck his shoulder out in a dramatic pose, “‘ No!’ then left the room and didn’t talk to me or Ollie for the rest of the day. Fucking bizarre.” 

 

Lex threw her head back and laughed. “That is weird. So why do you live with him and not your Mom and Dad? Are they like, not good parents or something?”

Ethan’s mouth twisted side to side as he hummed. “They’re not bad parents. It’s mainly the werewolf thing. Henry’s taught me a few tricks, and he has this room where I can safely transform and not have to worry about like, breaking things or killing people. I’d rather live with my wack Uncle and be safe vs live with my parents and accidentally fuck shit up. Also Uncle is a surprisingly good cook, so that’s a bonus.” 

 

“I see.” A pause, then, “What about Oliver? Is he your Uncle’s son? Or grandson, since he’s almost our age.”

Ethan snorted. “God, don’t let Ollie hear you say that. He hates when people get it confused. Nah, Ollie’s his nephew. Henry had 2 sisters, one being my mom and the other being Ollie’s mom. Oliver’s been living at Hen’s for longer than me. He never really had a dad and his mom was always all over the damn place. I think his mom got a job offer in a different city, but for some wack ass reason he wanted to stay, so his mom gave him to Uncle Henry. Works out, since they’re both fucking nerds.” 

“Makes sense. Speaking of which, do you think they’re home right now?” Lex asked.

“Should be. Neither have any fucking social lives, so they’re mostly at home– though sometimes Oliver goes on dates with his boyfriend, but that’s about it. Why?”

“I don’t want you to be home alone. You might be able to talk better, but you’re still probably physically weak, aren’t you?” said Lex. 

 

Ethan scoffed. “Physically weak? Uh, I’m never physically weak.”

Lex raised her eyebrow. “Oh yeah? In that case, you shouldn’t have a problem walking home, without any help.”

“Uh…”

“Exactly. Now come on, I’ll walk you there. But you have to put on your jacket yourself- you’re a big boy, and I’m not your fucking mom who has to dress you.” Lex exited the car. “And I’d hurry if I were you– looks like it’s about to rain, and it’d suck to walk in the slippery ass mud.” 

“Um, right.” Ethan slipped his jacket on (albeit with a bit of difficulty) and took a deep breath. His head still felt heavy, his knees weak, palms sweaty, mom’s spaghetti, but less so than before. 

Lex opened the car door and held out her hand. “Here.” 

Ethan gratefully took her hand and let her pull him to his feet. “Thanks.”

 

“Thank me at the door. I might still drop you.” Lex teased. “You’re heavy.”

“It’s all the muscle. It’s a lot, I know.” Ethan teased back. “Though you’re not as light as a feather either.”

Lex narrowed her eyes. “What’s that supposed to mean? How do you know how much I weigh?” 

 

Oh, shiiiiit.

 

“Uh, I’m not calling you fat or anything like that! Totally not. I just–” Ethan gulped. “Well, a few weeks ago, while we were out celebrating junior year finally fucking ending, you got really fucking drunk and passed out. You were straight up out cold. I couldn’t wake you up, so I uh, picked you up and carried you to your room. Just that– I didn’t do anything weird or creepy. I’m not that type of guy, and I’d never disrespect you like that.” He explained. 

“Oh. Uh… Thanks, I guess?” Though she didn’t sound exactly enthused, she didn’t sound upset either. 

 

Anyways . It’s like, a reverse situation of that. You’re warm, I’m cold; you were drunk, I’m missing like 2 lbs of blood, yada yada.” Ethan pointed out. 

“Don’t think blood is measured in pounds, but whatever.” Lex slung Ethan’s arm over her shoulder once again, then helped him trudge the couple hundred feet to the double doors of Henry’s manor. “Do you have a key?”

 

“Sure do. It’s in my jacket pocket. Lemme just–” He felt around in his pockets, then frowned. “...Shit.”

“What?”

“It’s uh… not there.”

“What do you mean it’s not there?”

“I must’ve dropped it. Dammit.”

“Well then knock on the door. Hopefully Oliver or your Uncle can open it for you.”

 

“Oh uh, yeah.” Ethan knocked on the door as hard as he could (which wasn’t very hard) and yelled, “Ollie? Henry? It’s me, Ethan!”

After a few seconds, a tinny, high pitched voice returned. “Ethan? What do you want?”

“I need you to open the damn door!” Ethan knocked on the door again.

“Open the damn door yourself!” returned Oliver.

“Can’t, I lost my key.” Ethan explained.

“You lost it? How did you do that?”

“I dunno, I dropped it? Just open the door Ollie, it’s not that hard.” 

 

A beat, then. “Ethan, what’s the magic word.”

Ethan rolled his eyes. “I’m not a fucking wizard! How about ‘fuck you’.”

“That’s 2 words. Looking for one.” 

“I’m gonna take a page out of your favourite spellbook, crumple it up, and eat it.”

“16 words. Password’s only one word long, it’s not that hard. ” Oliver snarked.

“Fine. How bout–”

Please!” Lex interrupted with a roll of her eyes. “God you two are childish.”

 

“Bingo!” Oliver opened the door, and froze. “...oh.” His eyes darted to Lex, then Ethan, then back to Lex. “You uh, must be Lex.” \

“Yep. You must be Oliver.” A small silence. “Well, I’m here to deliver your cousin so… here he is. Eth, I’m gonna let go of you now, so please don’t fall on your head. Or your ass.”

 

“Um, ok.” Even with warning, Ethan’s knees nearly buckled when Lex stepped away from him, and he had to grab the door to stop himself from collapsing. 

“You good E?” Lex’s eyebrows furrowed as Ethan struggled to keep himself upright. 

“Yeah. Totally.” He shot her a weak OK sign, even if his body language said otherwise. 

“...If you say so.” Suddenly, she wrapped her arms around him in a tight hug. “Thank you.” She whispered. 

“‘course.” Ethan hugged her back, squeezing her back one, two, three times. 

 

“I have to get back to Hannah now, but text me when you feel better, k?” She stepped back, and Ethan immediately missed her warmth. 

“K.” He echoed. “Bya, Lexie.”

“See ya.” She gave him a little finger salute goodbye, then left.

 

“Hmm. So that’s the Lex you’re always talking about, huh? Makes sense. She seems like your type.” Oliver hummed, watching her car drive off.

“Oh shut up.” Ethan grumbled.

“Hey, that wasn’t an insult! I’m just saying, you two would look nice together.” Oliver defended. 

Shut it , Oliver.”

“Ok, ok, I get it. You coming in or not?” Oliver held the door open wider. 

 

“Yeah, yeah.” Ethan staggered inside, his eyes squinting at the bright lights of the living room. “Christ, would it kill ya to not have every light in the house on?”

“Are you like… ok?” Oliver shut the door just as rain started to fall. “You can barely walk and–”

 

Ethan!” 

Both boys looked up to see Henry standing at the end of the hallway, eyes wide. “Ethan, are you hurt?”

“What?”

“I smell blood. Are you wounded?” Henry urged, rushing up to Ethan and staring him down. 

 

Blood.

Forgot he had super smelling. 

Fuck. 

 

“I’m fine.”

It was a lie and Ethan knew it, but the words slipped from his lips before he could even attempt swallowing them back down– slurred together. 

 

Oliver’s eyes narrowed. “Are you drunk?” 

Ethan waved a hand dismissively. The movement was jerky. “Nah, sober as they come, Ollie.” 

 

His legs wobbled when he took a step forward. His stomach twisted. Around the edges, his vision began to blur– thick, purple spots creeping across Oliver’s concerned face, disappearing when he blinked only to return with more force, blotting out more and more of the room. 

 

“...you don’t look it.”

Well , I’m fine . Promise. Cross my heart.” 

“You look like you’re about to pass out.”

Ethan shrugged. “Maybe. Sounds nice right ‘bout now, but I’ll mana–” 

 

The next step forward he took was too much for him. Without time to do so much as cry out, Ethan tripped over his own two feet and slammed one arm against the back of the couch to keep himself from falling flat on his fucking face. 

Fucking hell.

So much for being fine. 

Wobbling, trying to play it off as though he was just leaning against the back of the couch despite the fact that he knew it wasn’t going to work, he crossed his arms and let his body sag ever so slightly against the stiff backing. His head lowered to rest on his arms. 

“I’ll manage,” he finally finished, trying to give a reassuring smile despite the fact that his head was content to loll heavily to the left. 

 

Fuck.

 

“Ethan… Tilt your head to the side and up.” Henry instructed, face stern.

 

Shit.

 

Slowly, Ethan tilted his head. Henry touched the two puncture holes on his neck and frowned as Ethan winced and sucked in through his teeth.

“2 holes over the pulse, cold skin, obvious fatigue, and wooziness… you were attacked by a vampire, weren’t you?”

 

Ethan grit his teeth.

Double shit.

 

“Not attacked , Uncle Henry.” Ethan corrected. “I willingly gave her blood.”

Both Oliver and Henry’s eyebrows shot up. “You what? ” They both said. 

 

“Yeah. Lex was fucking starving– hold on, lemme sit down.” Ethan plopped down on the couch. “She hadn’t eaten in like, weeks . She was super sick and weak and it fuckin hurt to see her like that, ya know? So I thought, hey, werewolves got a lot of blood. Maybe I could help her out.”

Oliver sat on the edge of the couch, eyebrows still furrowed in concern. “Was it her idea or yours?”

“Mine actually. She really didn’t wanna do it, but I convinced her. Might’ve let her drink too much but honestly? Seeing her face in the end… it was worth it.” A smile crept onto Ethan’s face. “She looked real pretty with that much colour in her cheeks. I’d do anything for my girl.” His smile fell a bit. “Well. She’s not really my girl since we’re not actually dating but… you know… I still care about her ‘nall.”

 

Oliver looked like he was about to say something- most likely something along the lines of “Good god, you’re such a simp”- but swallowed it back and shook his head. “...Right. I suppose you want me to heal you then–”

“No, no, ‘m fine. ‘s not that bad.” Ethan waved him off, though his arm felt like it was weighed down with iron weights as he moved it through the air.

 

“Ethan,” Henry started, “while it was very noble of you to allow Lex to have your blood, that was still very dangerous and you could have gotten seriously injured or even killed.”

“I know that, Hen. She said the same thing.” Ethan rolled his eyes. “But she didn’t kill me. I’m still here, ain’t I? Also, she made sure I was ok afterward. Helped me walk to the car an’ stuff. So it’s all good.” 

“I’m glad you’re alright, but you shouldn’t do that again. Human or not, your body still has limits. From what you’ve told me, Lex doesn’t seem like a bad or dangerous girl but… sometimes instincts can overtake you and make you do abhorrent things.” Although it was subtle, Henry’s voice seemed to almost… soften near the end of his sentence.  “So just… please, be careful. If something bad happened to you…” He cleared his throat, “it would be a damn shame. A lot of people would be upset– myself included.”

 

Ethan blinked. Since when is Hen so emotional or caring? Does my Uncle secretly have a nice twin that replaced him? Is that why he has a whole fucking gothic manor to himself? A secret clone factory?

He wouldn’t have even been fucking surprised if that was the case.

 

“Uh… yeah. Right.” Ethan nodded slowly. “I’m not planning on making this a regular thing anyways. Being a Blood Bag ain’t for me, nope, but… fuck, ya should’ve seen her. She really needed this.” 

 

“She feeds on animals, correct? Why can’t she go to the Jackalope Familiar Emporium? They sell animals there, don’t they?” Henry suggested. “That’s where Oliver gets his toads.”

Oliver balked. “Hey, hey, those animals are for magical purposes only! They sell familiars , not common animals only to be slaughtered!” He narrowed his eyes further at Ethan. “Familiars that are damn expensive, by the way. The owner practically knows me by name now since you keep eating all my fucking toads and I have to come back to get new ones. I was really growing attached to the one I bought two weeks ago before you decided to be a dick and eat him.”

 

“Actually, that one was me.” Henry confessed. “It was me who ate your last toad, not Ethan.” 

Oliver gasped dramatically, genuinely betrayed. “Uncle Henry! How could you?!” 

Henry shrugged. “I was curious. And as a professor, it is my duty to seek out knowledge and test hypotheses. My hypothesis was that either toads were somehow delicious, or they’re as disgusting as they seem and Ethan simply does it to get a rise out of you. I needed to find out which.”

“Which was it?” Ethan and Oliver asked together.

“Unfortunately for my taste buds and your poor Mr. Ribbitcus VI, the latter.” Henry grimaced. 

 

“But never mind that.” He waved his hand dismissively. “Don’t some spells require an animal sacrifice? Where do you get those animals?” 

“Uh, I don’t do that type of magic. I usually just stick to healing spells and hexes.” Oliver scratched his cheek. “...Though usually you get sacrifice animals at like, Petco. Not goats though, Petco doesn’t sell goats or big animals. I heard there’s also a secret place to get animals specifically for sacrifice or dark magic, but I don’t know much about that sort of stuff, nor do I want to know about it. I like spells that help or mildly hinder, not spells that hurt things.”

“There you go. Tell her to go to the Emporium or Petco.” Henry recommended with a self-satisfied smile, as if he had made a great discovery. “She can buy animals for consumption there.”

“No, Henry, that’s fucking expensive.” Ethan huffed. “She can barely afford rent, you think she can afford to buy mice to eat every week?”

“....Yes?”

“Oh my god .” 

“What?” 

“You– ya know what? I don’t even have the energy to argue with you.” Ethan closed his eyes, just as his phone buzzed in his back pocket. He grunted irritably but checked the message.

 

Lexie 💕 (9:05): Thank you. 

Lexie 💕 (9:05): Seriously. For everything today. 

 

A small smile flitted across Ethan’s face.

 

Ethan (9:05): np :)

 

“Welp. I’m gonna go pass out now.” Ethan announced, shutting his eyes again.

 

Oliver and Henry exchanged a glance, but Oliver slowly nodded. “Ok then. Do you at least want to pass out on your own bed?”

“Nope. Too far away.”

“Fair enough. It is upstairs, and you can barely take a few steps.” Oliver reasoned. “Well… good night then, Ethan.”

 

“Night Ollie. Night Hen.”

 

And with that, Ethan slipped into a dreamless sleep. 

Chapter Text

“...and I was sure I’d fail the fuck out of that test, so I doodled a little raven on the back page that said ‘If you really love ravens, you won’t fail me on this test’. And guess what?”

“What?” Paul gazed up at Emma through half-lidded eyes. His head lay in her lap while she stroked his hair slowly and blabbered on about her day. 

“The madman actually gave me enough bonus points that I didn’t fail. Sure, a 60 isn’t a great grade, but it’s better than the 53 I originally got.” Emma shrugged. “He even wrote ‘Excellent raven’ next to it, with a goddamn smiley face to boot. Make sense he likes ravens, considering he literally lives on Raven Road. He’s got good taste in birds, though I prefer crows myself.” She clicked her tongue twice, and her crow familiar flew over to perch on her shoulder. “Look at that. My two boys.” Emma cooed. “Paul, and Pissy Shitlord.” 

 

“Yeah.” Paul pressed into Emma’s hand slightly, like a cat. “The more you talk about Professor Hidgens, the more interesting he seems.”

“He’s unlike anyone I know, that’s for damn sure.” She stroked Pissy Shitlord’s feathers lightly as she spoke, the bird in question puffing up slightly and giving a soft chirrup in response to the attention. “He’s like, a chaotic senior citizen Ms. Frizzle who thinks the world’s gonna fucking end and is holed up in his fucking gothic manor 95% of the damn time.” 

 

“Pretty sure Ms. Frizzle’s already chaotic.” Paul raised a hand to pet Pissy Shitlord, only for the bird to peck at his fingers. “Ow! Watch it!”

“Hey, Pissbird, don’t fucking bite my boyfriend!” Emma chastised. “Be nice!”

“Yeah, be nice!” Paul echoed, though he was quick to shut his trap when the bird cocked his head and seemed to glare up at him with one black, beady eye.

“Fuck you!” Cawed Pissy Shitlord– his favourite phrase. 

 

“Alright, that’s enough. PSL, go back to your hellcage.” Emma shrugged the crow off her shoulder, and after a defiant squawk and a huff from Emma, the creature flapped his wings and flew away to his cage. 

“Why do you call it hellcage if it’s just a regular birdcage?” Paul asked, gazing at the crow now preening itself in its wiry cage that didn’t look at all hellish, unless Emma was referencing the cheapness of it.

“Because ‘hellcage’ sounds cooler than just ‘cage’.” Taking her hands off of Paul’s hair to do air quotes around the word cage, Emma gave a small scoff as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. “I mean, ‘Pissy Shitlord’ isn’t a normal name, either, so why should it have a normal cage name? It’s only fitting.”

 

Automatically, he glanced over at PSL where he sat in the cage’s keep.

When the bird looked his way, he was quick to redirect his focus to Emma. 

 

No thanks. Don’t need to get into a fight with that thing.

Again.

Seeing as the last time that happened, I had to convince him to drop my eye.

 

“Right, right.” Paul paused, then, “Back on Professor Hidgens, though… What does he like, specialise in?”

“I dunno, uh…” Emma’s hands returned to petting Paul’s hair, “I think he studied diseases for a while? Oh, and he knows a lot about supernatural shit too. He’s never outright said it, but I personally think the bitch’s a werewolf. Don’t know much about werewolves though, so maybe I’m just stereotyping the old gay fart.” 

“Knows a lot about the supernatural, huh…” Already the gears were turning in Paul’s head.

 

If he’s a biologist who specialises in the supernatural, maybe he could help me discover who I am. 

Who he was .

Whatever. 

The specifics didn’t matter– if the man studied both diseases and the supernatural– he could very well be a person Paul would benefit from seeing, even if it was just to be turned away at the door. 

 

“Is he home often?” Gotta phrase it carefully so she doesn’t get suspicious.

Emma scoffed. “That’s an understatement. I genuinely think teaching class is the only time he ever goes outside his fucking fortress house. He’s a straight up shut-in.”

Paul just hummed in response, eyes fluttering shut and smiling slightly at Emma’s gentle touches. 

 

Tomorrow I’ll go to Professor Hidgens house, and maybe I can get some answers. 

It’ll be fine.

Hopefully.

 


 

“5249 Raven Road, huh…” 

 

Paul stared up at the looming gothic manor before him. The large wrought iron gates in front of the mansion had been open just a smidge when he arrived, open enough that he could slip inside and walk straight up to the door. Even though it was barely sundown, the mansion still looked imposing and intimidating as all hell. 

He gulped. 

Somehow, it seemed to stare back.

 

Dammit. As much as I’d love to turn around and get the hell out of here, I need to do this.

 

Taking a deep breath, Paul raised his hand to knock at the tall double doors of Professor Hidgens’ house.

 

Knock knock knock.

 

Silence.

 

Then, a deep voice. 

 

“Who is it?!”

“Professor Hidgens!” Paul called through the door.

“Don’t you lie to me, whoever you are! I’m Professor Hidgens!” Insisted the voice.

 

So Emma was right about him being a weirdo, apparently.

 

“No, no. I’m Paul, Paul Matthews– uh, the boyfriend of your student Emma Perkins?” Paul leaned against the door. “I’m here to ask you a few um, supernatural biology questions.”   

 

The door abruptly, causing Paul to nearly fall over before catching himself at the last moment. He looked up at the man before him, and his throat went dry. 

 

The man– presumably Professor Hidgens– was quite similar to how Paul had imagined him. His hair was a shiny white, the deep worry lines on his forehead visible on his pale skin. Though he was more well-groomed than Paul speculated, what with his neatly combed hair and his sleek black turtleneck clinging to his surprisingly fit body, his wide eyes and near frazzled stare clued in that Professor Hidgens was not exactly a normal man. 

 

“Hello there, Paul,” the man greeted, an uncertain tinge flickering in his voice in a way that made Paul feel as though he was about to be shooed away– leaving him acutely aware of the sweat on his palms.

“...hello,” he returned, awkwardly.

 

Fuck.

He’s gonna tell me to beat it.

 

Already churning through worst-case scenarios– honestly, he didn’t know what he’d been expecting in the slightest from a man he’d never met– Paul opened his mouth a touch to explain, though before he did–

“Won’t you come in?” Professor Hidgens swept his arm towards the inside of his manor, which Paul hesitantly followed. 

 

The architecture of Professor Hidgens’ house was… weird . The living room to the right of the entryway was surprisingly modern, with comfy looking couches, a cream coloured carpet floor, and a large coffee table with various books and papers strewn about. It looked like a room from a completely different house. Meanwhile, the flooring for the rest of the entranceway was a sleek dark wood and more matched the gothic exterior of the mansion. To the left was a small white staircase going up, and straight ahead led into a dark hallway that split in two. 

 

“Nice, isn’t it?” Hidgens said proudly, noticing Paul’s staring. “I’ve lived here for years, adding rooms to make sure that if a world-ending event were to happen, I would be well prepared.” 

Oh yeah, Emma did say he thought the world was going to end.

Musical aliens? Wasn’t that his last theory?

 

“That’s uh, interesting.” Paul said politely, eyes flicking from the tall stained-glass windows that sent colourful patches of light cascading across the floor to the innocuous coffee table in the living room. A thick red notebook lay on the surface, one that looked strangely familiar, but he couldn’t quite place where he’d seen it.

“I know that room” Hidgens nodded towards the modern living room, “doesn’t match the rest of the decor, but my nephews said it makes them more comfortable and–”

 

“Uncle Hennnrrryyyy!” Hidgens’ words were cut off with a high pitched wail. A second later, the voice’s owner rushed in on unsteady legs– a nerdy lanky kid running away another teenager who looked like a freaking greaser, including a leather jacket and slick hair and everything. “Ethan ate my grimoire!” The nerd complained. 

“Yeah, out of fucking revenge!” The punk snapped, lips curling back in a snarl. 

Professor Hidgens sighed deeply and pinched the bridge of his nose. “...Ethan, why did you eat Oliver's grimoire?” He asked tiredly. 

“I asked Oliver for some water and he gave me a fucking dog bowl! That's fucking racist!” Huffed Ethan. “That’s like, basically calling me a fucking dog.” 

Oliver threw up his hands in exasperation. “It was a joke, dumbass!” 

Ethan scoffed. “Get better jokes then!” He turned back to Hidgens. “I’m not in the wrong here, he started it!” 

 

“You’re both in the wrong. Oliver, stop committing microaggressions. Ethan, stop eating Oliver’s things, whether they be toads or books.” Hidgens scolded. “Good god, every time you two squabble, another year is taken off my life.”

 

Oliver and Ethan spoke at the same time. 

“How have you not died already?”

“So why aren’t you fucking dead yet?”

 

“Very funny, you two.” Hidgens deadpanned, not finding it humorous at all. “I’m in the middle of something right now, so just… go back to your rooms. I’ll deal with this later.”

“But–”

“Don’t make me get out the spray gun.”

Both boys froze, and shook their heads in terror.

“That’s what I thought. Now go.” Hidgens jerked his head towards upstairs. Oliver and Ethan glanced at each other, then scrambled upstairs.

 

“I apologise, Paul.” Hidgens said with a sigh, and lowered his voice. “You must excuse them. My nephews are a… rambunctious bunch.” 

“It’s fine,” Paul replied, unable to keep the amusement out of his words. “I actually recognise uh, Oliver was it? I see him at Beanies a lot– that’s where Emma works.” 

“Yes, Oliver does spend much of his time at that coffee shop. Says it’s a good place to study, supposedly. Plus it allows him to escape Ethan.” The corners of Hidgens’ mouth quirked up. “Though he once complained that people at the shop, including the employees, never bothered to learn his name and have just been calling him the “Hot Chocolate Boy”, despite being a regular for years.”

“He does drink a lot of hot chocolate.” Paul reasoned with a smile of his own. 

 

“That he does. Now, follow me. It’d be better to talk in private.” 

Paul followed Hidgens through a twisted corridor and down two flights of stairs. Wood flooring turned into black and white tile, and the air seemed to get colder and colder as they progressed further.

 

“How did you slip by the gate? Usually I have to manually buzz you in.” Professor Hidgens glanced back at Paul as they walked.

“O-oh, it was open when I got there.” Paul explained sheepishly.

Hidgens grimaced and clucked his tongue. “Dammit. Ethan must have left it open again. Stupid kid.” He grumbled. “Good God, I know he’s a teenager, but he’s so irresponsible. No regard for our safety…” Trailing off with a small, irritated little sigh, Hidgens shook his head and gave a slight cough. “But nevermind that. You said you have questions on supernatural biology? I'm quite the expert on that matter.”

 

Paul nodded. “Yeah uh, actually those questions are about… me, I guess? I’m not human– I call myself a zombie, but I’m not sure if I really am one, or if I’m some weird Frankenstein’s monster or what– either way though, I have questions about whatever the hell I am that google couldn’t answer so… I came here.” Paul ended his explanation with a shrug. 

Hidgens stopped dead in his tracks, almost causing Paul to run into him. “Zombie or a Frankenstein’s Monster, you say?”

“Something like that.”

 

“How curious.” Hidgens scratched his chin. “Though I can’t say for sure until I’ve examined you, if you are indeed an artificially created human, then to my knowledge you’d be one of a kind. I tried making my own Hidgens’ Monster, but it didn’t quite work out the way I expected.”

Paul’s eyes widened.

“You what?”

“I’m a biologist, young man, and an inquisitive one at that. It’s every scientist’s dream to create something as incredible as an artificial human, and when I was younger, I tried to foolishly chase that dream.” Hidgens sighed dreamily. “Alas, I used a bit too much electricity when attempting to stimulate my creation’s muscles and well… charred decomposing flesh is not a pleasant smell.”

“Y-yeah, I bet.” Paul stuttered, because what else are you supposed to say besides Holy shit what the hell is wrong with you.

He couldn’t say that, though. Though Professor Hidgens hadn’t acted specifically threatening to Paul (yet), the implications on what that man had done were far too dark to think about right now. 

 

“Do you know who revived you?” Hidgens asked, pulling a key from his pocket and unlocking a white door. 

“No– actually, I sorta have amnesia? If I had a life before I became whatever I am now, I don’t remember it.” Paul chewed on his inner cheek. “It’s… really weird.”

 

“Is that so?” Professor Hidgens opened the door to reveal a white laboratory that looked straight out or a movie. Beakers of every size and shape held liquids of various colours, several thick worn notebooks were stacked high upon messy tables, and an exam table stood in the middle of the room. “I’m sorry my lab is such a mess; I haven’t cleaned it in a while.” He apologised. “Please, sit.” Gingerly Paul sat on the exam table, wincing as the thin paper covering crackled under his weight. 

 

“So, Paul,” Hidgens started, donning a pair of latex gloves, “tell me everything you know currently. Start at the very beginning. You said you have no recollection of your previous life, correct?”

 

“Yeah. I just… woke up one day about 6 years ago in my current apartment, along with a note saying “You are Paul Matthews, age 24, born in Hatchetfield, Michigan. You have lived in Hatchetfield all your life. You work an office job at CCRP, cubicle 314, 9 AM to 5 PM Monday-Friday. Here are all of your personal documents. Go and Live.” No signature, nothing to identify where or what or who it came from. It was bizarre.” Paul swallowed heavily. “Weird thing is… I couldn’t find a ‘Paul Matthews’ on like, the internet or social media or anything. No one I talked to knew anything of Paul Matthews.” His worried frown deepened. “Which makes me think that Paul Matthews is like, a made-up person. I mean, I had a birth certificate and a passport and social security, but those could be faked. I just have this weird feeling that I- Paul- don’t really exist. Does that make sense, Professor?” 

 

The professor didn’t look up from what he was doing– flitting about the lab– though he did give a small nod. “It does. The real question is, however… do you want to know who you really are?” He asked, searching through nearby cabinets and drawers.

“I… I don’t know.” Paul’s gaze dropped to his lap. “I mean, even though I don’t know my origins, I- I like being Paul Matthews. I like my life. I like my little apartment, I like my friends, I like my girlfriend, I like the normalcy of it all. I feel like if I try finding out who I was pre-death, I might fuck up my current life. But I can’t help but be curious. If I wasn’t Paul Matthews before death, then who was I?” 

“An interesting question indeed. I admire your efforts to find out the truth of your identity. I know I would do the same.” Hidgens mused. “Alas, I am afraid I can’t tell you your true identity but… I may be able to help you understand your body more.” 

 

“I sure hope so.” Paul fiddled with the ends of his shirt. “I mean, I call myself a zombie because that’s really the closest non-human label I can find, but I’m not a ‘Classic Zombie’. I wasn’t magically brought back to life by dark magic– er, I think–, I can think clearly and have a personality, I don’t have urges to snack on brains, all that. But considering I can’t feel pain, my limbs fall off, and literally the only thing that keeps me going is caffeine, I’m not exactly a normal human either.”

Hidgens’ eyes glinted. “Can’t feel pain? And your limbs fall off?” He echoed, clearly trying to suppress a grin. “Interesting. Very interesting indeed.” 

 

He selected a sterile empty needle, before turning back to Paul. “Do you have any blood in you?”

“Uhhh, sort of? Mainly in my head.” Paul tapped his temple. “Keeps my brain working, I guess.”

“I see.” Hidgens hummed. “Do you mind if I… take a blood sample? It won’t hurt since, as you said, you don’t feel pain.”

 

“Uh, ok.” Paul’s eyebrows furrowed. “But where will you stick the needle–”

 

Paul got his answer when Hidgens grabbed his jaw to hold his head still, and sunk the needle deeply into his temple.

 

It should’ve hurt, but it didn’t. That didn’t make seeing a vial filled with his blood any easier, though. 

 

“I cannot wait to see this blood close up.” Hidgens murmured, putting on a pair of glasses and placing a tiny drop of the liquid on a microscope slide. “You truly are a unique individual, Paul.”

“Uh, yeah. So I’ve been told.” 

But being unique can also be incredibly isolating,

 

“But also, could you um, warn me next time before you jam a needle into my head?” Paul smiled nervously. 

“My apologises.” Hidgens said, scarcely looking up from his microscope. “Usually the creatures I experi– er, examine are… not of intelligence such as yourself.”

Paul paled. “Please don’t experiment on me!”

“Experiment on you? I’d never dream it.” Hidgens chuckled, sounding absolutely insincere.

 

His eyebrows creased. “Well this is… strange.” He peered into the microscope harder. “I’ve never seen this before.”

“What? What is it?”

“Even in this small blood sample, I can see… they’re not cancer cells, they’re not white blood cells either, so what the hell are they?”  Hidgens frowned. “There are these little… green… things… swimming around in your blood.” 

 

Fucking what?

 

“Are you sure that’s not cancer? Can I even get cancer?” Paul could feel the panic setting in already. 

“No, it’s not cancer. It’s almost like your blood has been modified. Or like a substance has been injected into you. You don’t do drugs, do you?” Hidgens adjusted the microscope. “I’m not snitching, of course. But if you do use drugs, then it’s certainly nothing like I’ve ever seen before. Then again, the drug scene has changed quite a bit since the 70s and 80s when I was a young man.” 

“No! No. God no.” Paul paused, thinking. “Well, I have smoked with Emma a few times but I’m not a stoner, nor have I done any recently.”

“Thought so. You seem too clean-cut to be a user.” said Hidgens bluntly.

 

I’m not sure whether to be offended or not. 

 

“Okay, so are you saying that I just don’t have regular blood? How is that even possible.” Paul’s grip on the table’s edges tightened. “Is it slime or something?”

Hidgens waved his hand dismissively. “No, not slime either. The base is regular O+ blood, it’s just mixed with an unknown substance. It’s fascinating.”

 

He pulled away from the microscope, and looked at Paul. “You said your limbs fall off. How do you reattach them?”

“Oh, I sew them back on. Or have other people sew ‘em on. Usually Emma helps me out.” Paul shifted slightly. “It was an icy shock when a limb got knocked off for the first time, before I realized I could just reattach them.” 

 

“Sewing your limbs… clever.” Hidgens tapped his chin. “May I see them?”

 

“Uh, sure.” Paul nodded slowly.

 

(He didn’t think of the implications.) 

 

“That means, Paul,” Hidgens crossed his arms over his chest, “I’ll need you to take off your clothes.”

Paul froze. “Excuse me?”

“To be clear, this isn’t sexual nor do I have any ulterior motives. This is strictly professional. But if I am to look at your body parts and stitches, clothes would only get in the way.” Professor Hidgens lowered his voice. “You’re not my type anyways.” He cleared his throat. “You may keep your underwear on if you wish. Matters not to me.” He turned around, his back facing Paul. “Lie down on the table when you’re finished.” 

“Um, o-ok. Ok. Okay. Okay!” Paul took a deep breath. “...Can I keep on my undershirt too?”

“Are there stitches on your chest?”

“No.”

“Fine with me, then.” 

 

Swallowing heavily, Paul stripped off his clothes, save for his boxers and undershirt. He laid down, grimacing as the thin paper covering crinkled under his skin. “Ready.”

 

“Good.” Professor Hidgens turned around, and his eyes immediately lit up. “My, that’s a lot of stitches.”

Paul did his best not to squirm. It didn’t work. “Y-yeah.” 

Hidgens walked over to Paul, already scribbling things down in his notebook. “Let’s see… you have, 1, 2, 3… 16 stitches, is that correct?”

 

“I never counted them exactly, but sounds about right.” Paul nodded. “It sucks that I have to wear long sleeves all the time– I have this human coworker, Ted, who I’ve worked with for years , that doesn't know I’m a… whatever I am. Literally everyone in the office is nonhuman, except for him, and he has no idea. He’s even dating a witch. Well not dating – I shouldn’t go into office politics here.” 

“Humans are like that. Oblivious and stupid, I mean. No offense to your friend.” Hidgens brought out a tape measure and began to measure each of Paul’s limbs, as well as the spaces between each stitch.

“Oh, so you’re not–”

“No. And I haven’t been for nearly 40 years. You’re lucky you live in Hatchetfield in the 21st century, Paul. When I was young, outside of Hatchetfield, people weren’t as… accepting as they are now.” Hidgens put the tape measure to the side. “Now, where is your newest stitch?”

 

“Uh, this one.” Paul gestured to his knee. “It was fixed a couple of days ago.” 

“Did Emma sew this on for you?” Hidgens asked, staring the blue stitches on Paul’s leg in thinly veiled disdain.

Paul nodded. “Yeah, she sews on most of my parts and–” 

 

“Alexa!” A familiar chime rang at Hidgens’ sharp bark. “Remind me to scold Emma on her sewing skills.”

“Ok, I’ll remind you.” Came Alexa’s smooth reply. 

 

“Hey, Emma’s sewing skills are fine!” Paul argued. “Better than mine.” 

“And yet your parts keep getting knocked off, most likely due to Emma using regular sewing thread used for arts and craft instead of proper suture thread.” Hidgens tilted his head, unblinking. “And, if you’re so worried about having your stitches being colourful, you can buy suture thread in multiple colours online.”

 

Paul opened his mouth, then closed it, then opened it. “...O-oh. Ok.”

He’s got a point. Dammit. 

 

“Besides because of poor stitching, are there any other reasons why your limbs fall off?” Hidgens asked, flipping to a new page in his notebook. 

Paul shook his head. “Not really? They usually have to have something physical happen to them in order to fall off, like getting stuck in a door or kicked in the leg or– oh, there was this one time where Emma’s crow, Pissy Shitlord, hit me in the back of my head while I was eating and knocked my eyeball into my soup. He… really likes stealing or messing with my eyes, now that I think about it.” One of his eyebrows twitched ever so slightly at the memory. His vision had been just a touch fuzzier in that eye ever since the incident. “Stupid bird.”

Hidgens looked up from his book. “Pissy Shitlord?” He repeated.

Paul nodded. “Yeah, that’s the name of her familiar. She shortens it to PSL because Pissy Shitlord is a little long.” 

“Seems Emma has good taste in names.” Hidgens chuckled. “My nephew tries to name his toad familiars cool things too, like Wormwood or Merlin or Mr. Ribbitcus, but Pissy Shitlord is a much better name.”

 

...Now I know why he and Emma get along. 

 

“So, your hands, arms, legs, and feet are easily detachable, correct?” Hidgens listed. “What about your…” He trailed off.

“My what?”

Hidgens sighed, and took his glasses off. “Your genitals, Paul.”

Paul went red.

“My– no no no, that doesn’t fall off! My hips are fully attached, and it better stay that way!” He scrambled to explain.

Hidgens raised his hands in defense. “Alright, alright, that’s all I needed to know.” He scribbled something down in his book. “Interesting that you can blush, though.” 

 

“You’re really blunt.” Paul muttered, mostly to himself. “And not in an endearing way like Emma.” 

Hidgens didn’t seem to hear him. 

 

“When your limbs detach, can you still control them? Like moving your arm when it’s several feet away, for example.” Hidgens opened a nearby drawer filled with surgical instruments and knives.

 

A chill wound down Paul’s spine. 

What… the hell?

 

The scalpels the professor had at his disposal seemed to glimmer in the dim light of the room he was in, and although Paul’s skin was crawling along his back, he forced himself to swallow hard and choke out a reply. 

 

“Er, no. Once it’s off the main body, I have no control over it. If I did, my life would be a hell of a lot easier, and–”

 

The professor’s hand fell to one of the larger knives, and with a smooth motion, he pulled it from where it lay. 

 

Paul's breath caught in his throat. 

“–what are you doing?” 

 

“Hmm? Why, I was hoping I could examine individual body parts.” Hidgens waved his knife. “Removing them shouldn’t be a problem, right? I promise I’ll reattach them afterward– with proper sewing, of course.” 

“You can just pull out the thread.” Paul pulled at the thread with his knee stitch, his leg sagging to the side as the hold loosened. 

“Oh. I-I see.” If Paul didn’t know better, he would say Hidgens sounded almost… disappointed. Even his body language seemed disheartened to an extent, the way he dipped his head momentarily and sighed more than enough to make that acute feeling of discomfort that had settled over him grow exponentially. 

 

Put the knife down… please…

 

Hidgens did not, in fact, put the knife down. The professor lowered it slowly, which did make Paul’s fight-or-flight (definitely flight leaning) start to calm, but the fact that he was still holding the thing wasn’t exactly reassuring. 

 

“I suppose I’ll just…” Trailing off, gesturing broadly with the knife in a swipe that made Paul flinch, Hidgens tapped the point of it against his chin momentarily. “Use it on the stitches then, hm?” 

“C-Couldn’t you use a smaller knife?” Paul stammered, reflexively flinching as the professor brought the sharp tool back toward him once again, poising it over one of his legs. 

The blade paused, the tip hovering inches from Paul’s skin. 

Slowly, the man holding it blinked. 

For a moment, Paul thought he was going to agree. After all, the blade was far too big to plunge into his stitches without sinking into his skin, so–

 

“I’m already holding this one.”

 

The blade met the thread. 

 

Paul squeezed his eyes shut.

I can’t look.

 

… The blade didn’t pierce the skin. 

 

Paul peeked one eye open.

 

Instead of the giant knife being firmly embedded in his skin like he had expected, his leg was fully intact. Hidgens held the cut thread in the air, frowning.

 

“Really, she should use better thread.” Professor Hidgens huffed. “Doesn’t even use proper surgical knots. Maybe I’ll teach her someday.” His eyes fell upon Paul, and he arched an eyebrow. “What? Why do you look so frightened? I’m not just going to slice you open without your permission.” 

“Uhhh, I um, don’t give you permission to slice my open. I’m still alive. Even if I’m potentially made of different parts, I still have a consciousness and personality. So please don’t dissect me.” Paul stated firmly.

 

“Fine, fine.” Hidgens waved his hand. “Wait… are you sure you’re made of different parts?”

Paul’s brows drew together. “Uh… I don’t really know,” he started, though when he went to continue, the professor had moved closer and leaned in– inspecting him even further. 

 

“Your skin tone matches everywhere, though that theoretically could be faked… Mind if I study another part to compare? Maybe a finger or a hand?” Hidgens raised his knife again.

“No no no no, I can take off a finger myself! Please don’t chop off my finger.” Hurriedly Paul undid the stitch on his right ring finger and handed it to Hidgens. “And I want them back afterward.”

“Of course. What, you think I’d just keep them here overnight or longer to study them?” Hidgens pursed his lips, obviously to avoid grinning.

 

Yes. Yes I do think that.

 

As Hidgens took the parts to his table to do… science shit on them, Paul laid back and sighed, closing his eyes. He knew Emma had described Professor Hidgens as chaotic, but he didn’t expect the professor to be nearly fucking crazy . Already he was regretting giving Hidgens his damn leg– god, the fuck was I thinking?!– but it was too late. Paul just wondered if he was this… freaky while teaching class. 

 

“Hmm… That’s extraordinary.” Hidgens mumbled.

Paul sat up from the exam table. “What’s extraordinary?”

“Well, both your parts match. Meaning that you are not an amalgamation of body parts from different people, but rather all of your body parts are from the same source, but were for some reason removed.” Professor Hidgens clarified.

 

“What, so I’m like some toy who’s leg fell off and was sewn back on?” Paul stared at him disbelievingly.

“That’s… not how I would have phrased it exactly, but sure. Making you less of a ‘Frankenstein’s Monster’ type of creature made of different parts, but more of a… revived person? Really, if you’re so concerned with labels, ‘Undead’ would probably be the best fit.” Hidgens straightened his jacket. 

“Undead, huh…” Paul echoed. “So then, how did I… become undead?”

 

Hidgens tapped his fingers on the table. “How indeed. I don’t think you’re a product of necromancy since you’re not whole, so my gut instinct would be that you were scientifically resuscitated, but to my knowledge that’s never been done before. Maybe you’re a top secret government project hidden from the rest of the scientific community. Who knows. Either way, you’re far from normal in every way.”

“Pretty sure that’s not it.” Paul scratched his neck. “I think that’s a little too crazy for me.”

“Just throwing out some guesses. You got anything better?” Hidgens arched an eyebrow.

Paul bit his lip. 

“...No.”

“Exactly.” 

 

A small silence passed between them– one that left Paul painfully aware of the fact that he really, technically barely knew this person who’d partly dismembered him. 

And now it’s awkward.

Shoot.

He could… fix it, probably. He just had to be subtle and–

 

“Oh wow, look at the time!” He blurted with an exaggerated glance down at his wrist– his bare wrist– and watch that certainly wasn’t there. “I-I should really get going. Emma’s got a late shift, and I was hoping to be there when she got home and…” 

His excuse fizzled out. Bringing his hands back down to his lap, Paul gave a weak shrug and met the professor’s eye. “...yeah. I gotta go.” 

He wasn’t exactly lying– Emma did have a late shift till 10, and he did want to be there for her, but he very much doubted it was anywhere near 10 currently. But the sooner he got the fuck out of here, the better. 

 

“Oh, of course!” Professor Hidgens nodded curtly. “Though I assume you want me to sew your leg back on before you go?”

“That’d be great, yeah.”

Hidgens brought out a spool of thin blue thread and a sharp needle. “Sit up, please.” Carefully he lined up Paul’s leg and his stump, then began to sew them together. Paul watched him in silence, noticing how the Professor was quick and sure with his stitching, a contrast to Emma’s slow and cautious strokes. 

“Can you move your leg?” Hidgens tied the final knot. Paul hummed in affirmation, rolling his ankle and swinging his leg. “Good.” 

 

“Is there any way I can contact you again? Like a phone number or something?” Paul asked. 

“I have email. College forces me to have an academic email but I don’t use it much besides answering student questions.” Hidgens replied. “The best way to contact me is through passenger pigeon.”

Paul blinked. “What.”

“That was a joke, young man. Passenger pigeons went extinct a century ago… at least, that’s what the modern scientific community believes.” Hidgens smiled slightly, pleased by his joke.

“O-oh. Uh, funny joke.” Paul returned the smile, albeit nervously– following it with an out of place laugh. 

“Thank you. Young people nowadays don’t really appreciate my sense of humour. Seems you’re one of the few that do.” Hidgens patted Paul’s back gratefully. 

That was more of a pity laugh, but sure. 

 

“...Right. But I um, really need to go now.”

“Ah, of course. Let me show you out.” Hidgens said with a nod, then guided Paul up the stairs and through the twisted hallways.

 

“I’m sorry I was unable to give you definite answers, but I hope I was able to shed at least a little light on some questions you asked. Though I did open up more, hopefully those will be solved another time.” Hidgens led Paul to the front door, and shook his hand with a tight grip. “May we meet again.”

“Er, yeah. You– you too, Professor Hidgens.” Paul managed to pry his hand from Hidgens’ handshake and smiled tightly. “Bye.” With that, he booked it back to his car.

 

Paul didn’t look back as he drove away. 

His hands trembled on the steering wheel. 

 


 

Having a mental breakdown on the living room couch was not unusual for Paul. 

But this– this was something fucking else.

 

The horrifying implications of what just happened crashed over Paul the moment he stepped through the door of his apartment, leaving his knees weak.

He collapsed on the couch, running his fingers through his hair and staring up blankly at the popcorn ceiling. 

 

Not good. 

 

He didn’t know how long he spent zoned out staring at the ceiling, but he couldn’t stop shaking, even when the apartment door clicked open and Emma called out his name.

 

“Paul? I’m home! Where are y– oh, there you are.” Emma popped into Paul’s field of vision as she peered over the back of the couch. “You spacin’ out?” Her smile fell, however, once she saw Paul’s expression. “...Babe?” 

 

Paul knew he needed to stop shaking, because if he kept at it at this rate, a part of him would fall off and PSL would try to eat it, but as he met Emma’s eyes and tried his damndest to force a smile, all he could do was shake harder, which wasn’t fair, because then she’d know something was wrong, she’d–

 

“Paul?” She asked, quietly, voice already riddled with concern in a way that made the knot in his throat tighten. “Everything okay?”

 

The shaking worsened.

“Fine.”

 

Emma stepped closer.

Instinctively, Paul shrank back.

 

Shit. 

 

Even before he met Emma’s eye, he knew right away that she’d be wearing a concerned expression, though it didn’t keep a small twinge of guilt from tightening in his chest when he actually saw it, saw the way her brows had drawn together and the way her lips were pursed just so. 

“...Paul, hey, what’s wrong?” She murmured, closing the distance between them despite the fact that it only made the knot in Paul’s throat tighten as her hand brushed between his shoulderblades– Paul stiffening almost reflexively against her touch. 

 

The cushions creaked slightly as he slid away from Emma, drawing his shoulders upward. 

 

He couldn’t speak. 

 

If he spoke up, she’d know right away that something had gone wrong. Something big , and while he was fairly certain she already knew thanks to the fact that he’d never been much of an actor, Paul couldn’t help but feel guilty when she sat down at his side. 

 

“‘s nothing.” He finally murmured, more than a little aware of the fact that his voice pitched upward ever-so-slightly. 

“Bullshit.” Emma’s tone was stern. She pulled him into her arms and squeezed. “I love you Paul Matthews, but you’re an awful liar. Seriously, what’s up?” 

 

“Just thinking. Mostly about me being an undead freak.” Paul let out a shaky, tearless sob. “He was right, I’m just– I’m n-never going to be normal, n-never gonna be–“

When his voice broke, she held him tighter, rubbing slow circles across his back and shushing him gently as his whimpers filled the air.

 

“Hey, Paul, slow down– who said that?”

“P-Professor Hidgens.” The words slipped out before he could choke them back.

Fuck. 

Emma’s eyebrows shot up. “ What? ” She tensed. “Wh– when and where the hell did you meet Professor Hidgens? Did he– shit , did he hunt you down or something?”

“No. I sought him out myself.” Paul shook his head, unable to meet her eyes. “You told me he lived on Raven Road so…” He shrugged his shoulders. “I went there.” 

Emma’s eyebrows furrowed further. “Why the hell would you do that? What, were you trying to get experimented on?” Her head pulled away from his just slightly to better look him in the eye, and when it did, Paul felt a wave of sickly, heavy guilt roll over him. 

 

“I wanted to…” He started before feeling his voice shudder and trying again. “I wanted to know what I am. Am I a zombie, am I a fake human, am I– am I real at all?” Paul took a shuddering breath. “I thought he could give me the answers,” he explained, unable to meet her eyes. 

Her hand found his shoulder. “And? Did he?”

 

“Yeah. Sorta.” Paul bit his lip. “He said… God, this is gonna sound really weird but, he said that while I’m not like some Frankenstein’s monster made up of many different people’s body parts, it’s like all of my parts had been previously removed, then sewn back on.”

Emma blinked. “What? Like, you were blown up in combat or some shit? Aren’t you a little young to be a veteran?”

 

“I have no idea. I don’t remember anything about my past life.” Paul stared at his scarred hands mournfully. He’d always hated the way they looked. The only time they ever felt right was when Emma was holding them, and even then, he’d always noted the differences. Hers were smooth– smooth and gentle and warm – and his were cracked in spots, rough and cold

Inhuman.

A stone settled in his stomach. 

“But Hidgens said that to his knowledge, science hasn’t found a way to bring back full humans so… I’m a scientific mystery.”

 

“What about necromancy? Can’t that bring people back?” Emma asked. “Like, I know it’s really dark magic that I wouldn’t touch with a 500 ft pole, but I heard when performed successfully it can revive humans.”

Paul shook his head. “It’s not as simple as that. Necromancy takes a lot of effort, and why would a dark wizard choose a nobody like me to resuscitate?” He ran his hand through his hair. “You know my buddy Bill? He’s a ghost, right?” Emma nodded. “The reason why he’s a ghost and not, you know, permanently dead is because his divorce lawyer who happened to also be a spirit medium summoned him, per his wife’s request, so they could finish the divorce paperwork properly– since Bill died while going through his divorce. Problem is, usually spirit mediums summon ghosts to talk with them, and then the spirit goes away. But Bill… didn’t. He was brought into the living world, but he couldn’t go back to… wherever he was while dead. It was really stressful and– what?” Paul stopped as Emma covered her mouth and looked away. “What is it?”

“That’s just… sorta funny.” Emma muttered, shoulders shaking in an attempt to contain her giggles. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be laughing.”

“I mean, it was quite a shock when I went to Bill’s funeral and two days later came into work to find him sitting at his desk. I’m not sure if I can physically have a heart attack, but it sure did scare the shit out of me.” Paul smiled, albeit weakly. “I asked him, ‘Why are you at work? Didn’t you die?’ and he said, ‘It’s been a really hard week, and I just want a bit of normalcy in my life.’” Paul’s smile faded. “...I wish I was normal too.” 

 

“Paul…” Emma squeezed his hand. “You are normal.”

“No I’m not!” Paul snapped, before softening. “I-I’m sorry. It’s just– I’m not a normal human, I’m not a normal zombie, I’m nothing normal! I’m the opposite.”

 

“Yeah, you’re not a normal human or zombie. But you’re the normal you.” Emma stroked her thumb over the back of his hand. “And before you say some dumb shit about not being normal at all, newsflash, Paul, we’re both freaks, m’kay?” 

“You’re not a freak!” Paul insisted. “Not at all.”

“Neither are you. We’re both not entirely human but that’s okay. Close enough, right?” She smiled tightly. “I know you’re about to say something stupid like ‘you deserve a normal man’, but guess what? I don't want a normal man. I want you , Paul.” 

It wasn’t fair that she could look at him and say a sentence like that one. 

“I want you too, Emma.” Paul mumbled. Emma wrapped an arm around him, and he buried his face in her shoulder.

 

“Hidgens didn’t... hurt you, did he?” Emma asked tentatively. “Because if he did, I swear, I’ll fucking–”

“He didn’t hurt me. I don’t feel pain.” Paul assured. “He took some blood, and took off a few parts to do some tests on them. He sewed them back on though, with actual medical thread.” Glancing at his ring finger, Paul paused. “...Though when he asked to remove my leg and finger for tests, his immediate reaction was to get a giant knife to cut it off, before realising he could just take the string out. Seeing him with a bigass knife and a glint in his eyes was… concerning, to say the least.” 

Emma snorted. “Yeah, that… that’s not the word I’d use, but sure, we’ll go with that.” 

 

Hearing her laugh always made things easier. Hearing her laugh made things easier now, too, against all odds– it was something she was always able to do. With one hand on his back and the warmth that Emma provided him– warmth that he always seemed to be lacking no matter how much coffee he had pumping through his veins– Paul felt safe

Normal. 

Okay again. 

 

And as long as she held him like that, held him close enough that he could hear her heart softly beating and pretend his own thumped in time to match– close enough that he could hear every breath and feel her warmth, warmth that he’d lacked for as long as he could remember, seeping off of her– he felt alive. 

Alive

Like a person

That was all he needed. All he wanted. 

 

Listening, snuggling closer to her, giving a last weak sniffle before relaxing entirely… Paul closed his eyes, kept his head against her chest, and listened. She was so alive. Always had been, and as far as Paul was concerned, she always would be. 

Chapter Text

“Goddammit, I can’t believe school is starting even fucking earlier than last year.” Lex grumbled, placing a bag of apple slices into her basket. “Last year it was in early September, but now it’s in mid August. What the fuck.” She glanced at Hannah by her side. “Your school still starts in September though, right?”

 

Hannah nodded. She hated going to the crappy Dean’s Groceries store a few blocks away from their hotel– it was always too bright with its flickering fluorescent lights, and the overhead speakers playing bland pop music never worked right. The shopping carts were rusty and squeaked, and the baskets were never properly cleaned. Lex didn’t like it either, but it was nearby and cheap, so they had to settle for it. 

 

Usually Hannah preferred to stay home while Lex shopped, only going if she didn’t want to be alone or Webby told her to go.

Webby .

For a while Webby had been rather quiet, only occasionally answering when Hannah asked a question but…

Today, Webby was anything but quiet. 

Even from the moment Hannah woke up, Webby was buzzing around in her head, repeatedly saying something very important was going to happen.

Hannah was anxious, even if Webby assured her it was a good very important thing. 

Webby’s idea of a good important thing and Hannah’s idea of a good important thing were sometimes different. Whenever Webby said something was important , it was either because it was going to be very good, or very bad — but it was always hard to tell until those last few seconds before it happened. Getting her shots, for example, had been a good important thing, because she’d met Becky , but it had also led to her getting ridiculed and stuck with a needle, which… wasn’t good. 

 

Looking around in the store in an attempt to push the thoughts out of her mind, Hannah didn’t see anything that looked particularly important, until–

 

In the corner of her eye, she caught a flash of bright red hair. 

 

Is that–

Becky. 

Webby finished for her. 

Go to her.

 

Hannah felt a slight pressure on her back, as if she was being gently pushed. Wordlessly she slipped away from Lex, and walked towards Becky, who was perusing the berry section by herself. 

 

“Hi, Miss Becky.” Hannah said softly.

Becky gave a start and turned around. She immediately melted into a sweet smile upon seeing Hannah. “Hi sweetie! Fancy seeing you here.” She lowered herself to Hannah’s height. “How are you feeling?”

 

“Not good. Hungry.” Hannah replied bluntly. “Lex’s shopping for food, but it doesn’t help much.” Her voice softened. “...Not a lot of money to buy stuff.”

Becky’s smile fell. “Oh, honey…” 

“Ran out of animals a while ago. Lex says it’ll be fine.” Hannah shrugged, tugging at her braids. 

 

It wasn’t fine, but Becky didn’t need to know that Hannah had taken to pinching her nose more often in public spaces, or that Lex had taken to wearing a scarf specifically to cover her nose. It was so much easier to smell humans when they were everywhere , and as much as Hannah hated to admit it, she could almost understand where vampires had gotten such a terrible reputation from, because when she was hungry, it was easy enough to think of how easy it would be to show her fangs just a little more and…

 

Stop… no… not a monster.

 

Her conflict must’ve shown on her face. 

Becky was silent for a moment, then sighed. “Hannah, have you ever had plasma packs?”

“No.” Hannah shook her head. “Too expensive.”

Again, Becky went quiet for a moment. There was a look of something akin to concern flickering across her face, though before Hannah could comment on it, she spoke up and brushed it aside for a smile. “I usually drink from plasma packs. That way I can stay healthy, without having to hurt anything or anyone. And you’re right, they are expensive. But… I have a couple extra, if you’d like.”

Hannah blinked. “What do you mean?”

“That’s your sister over there, right?” Becky nodded in Lex’s direction, and after a glance over her shoulder, Hannah nodded too. “I was thinking, maybe you and your sister can come over to my house. I’d be happy to give you both some plasma packs– plus I was planning on baking some of my famous strawberry pound cake, and the more the merrier, right?” She winked. “What do you say?”

 

Hannah brought a hand up to press against the side of her head.

 

Webby, should I trust her?

Yes. 

Go with her. 

What if she wants to kidnap me or Lexie?

She won’t. She is good. 

But–

Hannah.  Do you trust me?

Of course.

Then go with Becky. She will help you. And Lex.

 

“...Ok.” Hannah finally said. “Webby said trust you but… I need to tell Lexie.”

“Of course, dear.” Becky nodded patiently. 

 

“Lexie!” Hannah called across the room. Lex turned around at Hannah’s call, her eyes widening as she took in the stranger standing next to her younger sister. 

“Hannah, what are you doing?” Lex rushed over to her and put her hand on her shoulder. “You know I don’t like you running off on your own.”

 

“Lex, this is Becky. Becky, Lex. She’s the nice nurse that saved me a while ago.” Hannah introduced.

“Hello, Lex.” Becky greeted, smiling widely. “It’s so nice to meet you!” 

“Hi,” Lex returned, flatly, clear mistrust written across her face. Her grip on Hannah’s shoulder stayed steady, not tight, but certainly not one that would let her go anytime soon. 

 

“I was just talking to Hannah who said you guys were hungry, which reminded me that I have a bunch of extra plasma packs that I’d love to give to you! I bought a little too much last week, and you need it more than me.” Becky explained.

Lex narrowed her eyes. “Yeah, no. We’re smarter than the ‘free candy’ gimmick that used to trick 3rd graders in the 2000s. I’m not letting you kidnap my sister.”

Becky’s smile dropped. “Oh, no! No, no, no, that’s not what I meant at all! I would never kidnap either of you! That’s horrible.” She put her hand on her chest. “I don’t have any ulterior motives or anything like that! Absolutely not. I just like helping people out.”

“We’re not a charity case.” Lex said bluntly. 

“Lex…” Hannah tugged on Lex’s sleeve gently. “...Webby said we need to go.”

Lex’s shoulders slumped. “ Hannah ,” she started, a gentle, warning tone in her voice that Hannah knew was usually employed to get her to be quiet, “I really don’t think—”

“Lexie, c’mon ,” Hannah wheedled, giving her sister’s sleeve another yank. Harder this time, though when Lex tried to pull away, Hannah took another step forward and offered a reassuring smile. “Webby says she’s good,” she insisted, “ c’mon .”

 

“Oh,” Becky cut in, “n-no, if it’s going to be an issue, you can run along with—“

Hannah shook her head. “Coming,” she informed her, before turning to her sister and shooting her a look. “Right, Lex?”

 

Lex’s eyes narrowed. 

Hannah held her gaze.

The look Lex was wearing worked on other people. It was one that usually made anyone who tried to talk to her in public stand down, and when they were living with their mother, if she was drunk enough, it’d sometimes buy them enough time to brush their teeth in their tiny bathroom before Lex would usher her to bed as quietly as she could manage— but it wasn't a look that worked on Hannah.

Even if her sister’s fangs peeked past her scowl, it wasn’t all that intimidating.

If anything, it was the final nail in the coffin to let her know she’d won, and the first shovel of dirt in the argument’s grave came when she moved a tiny hand up to her head and tapped it twice, lightly.

 

Webby says.

 

“... Hannah ...” Lex tried again, slowly, in a tone of voice that sounded more than a little exasperated.

 

Hannah’s posture straightened out. Her small shoulders slumped back ever so slightly, chin raising just a touch. “ Promise ,” she murmured, “just a little while. Safe. Webby says.”

Smiling, she looked up at Becky— momentarily able to ignore the feeling of her fangs jutting out past her lips when the nurse returned her toothy grin. 

“Well, I’m glad Webby’s agreed,” Becky chirped— not in a way that made her think she doubted Webby, no, in a way that held the spider in high regard— though she was quick to sigh and take a step back, adjusting how her basket was sitting on her arm. “But it’s quite alright if your sister doesn’t—“

 

“Fine,” Lex interrupted, flatly, and with an expression bordering on a glare. “We’ll go.” 

 

Apparently, we’ll go didn’t mean they’d go down the street a few blocks like Lex had suspected. First, they’d had to go through the checkout, which had been borderline humiliating thanks to Becky offering to pay, Lex insisting that she didn’t have to, and the older vampire ending up bumming her a few cents in change that she didn’t quite have— and that went without mentioning the fact that it was bright outside, which left Lex with her hood drawn up over her head and her eyes trained firmly on the concrete. 

 

Her hands were buried deep in her pockets, one plastic bag hanging off her arm as she followed after Becky and Hannah— her younger sister all but prancing toward the stranger’s car and helping her with her groceries like she was a family friend. 

Fuck, even her car’s nice. 

It wasn’t anything special— just a tiny blue thing that Ethan could probably list off some facts on, not that Lex knew anything about cars past him pointing out shitboxes and rich people wagons — but as Becky popped open the trunk and directed Hannah to set down the bags, moving aside for Lex to set her own meager groceries for the week next to them, she was made aware of the fact that even the inside of the car was clean, and to top it off, it had one of those little fresheners hanging from the mirror. 

 

“Do you want to hop in the front?” Becky asked, tentatively. 

Lex shrugged. “Sure,” she huffed, slamming the trunk shut with a satisfying bang before stepping around the side of the car and sliding into the passenger seat.

I can supervise better if I’m there. And if Becky’s got an ulterior motive, I can fuck her up. Probably.

What a morbid thought. 

 

In her defense, though, Becky was a fucking stranger , and a nice one. People weren’t nice for no reason, or at least, not as far as Lex knew, which meant that Becky must’ve wanted something , but… fuck if she knew what. Stiffening ever so slightly as Becky buckled her seatbelt and started the car— Hannah already positioned in the backseat— Lex watched the new vampire with a furrowed brow as she backed out of her parking spot and pulled onto the main road. 

 

“I actually live pretty close to Dean’s, which is why I go there often. Sure, there’s an Aldi relatively close by as well, but I actually like the produce at the Dean’s better than Aldi’s. Darn shame Evergreen Grocery closed, that used to be my go-to.” Becky rambled as she drove. Neither Lex nor Hannah replied.

 

Behind Becky’s words, the car radio crackled to life. “And on today’s news, according to a new statement released by the Hatchetfield Police Department, police chief Sam Williams has been missing for 4 days now. Officer Doug, who was put in charge of the case, said ‘Though we have no current leads, we at the HFPD are doing everything we can to find our missing chief and bring him home’. He was last seen around 6 PM, Wednesday the 19th, near the Starlight Theater. If you have any leads please contact the HFPD at…” 

 

“Oh dear. Another disappearance in 2 weeks? That’s awful.” Becky tutted.

“Good fuckin’ riddance.” Lex muttered. 

Becky shot her a surprised glance. “You know him?”

“Uh yeah, everyone does. He bust–” Lex paused. “...He’s just an asshole to everyone who doesn’t bow down to him.” She corrected herself. “Saw him flirting with a girl like, 10 years younger than him, which is fucking gross too.”

“That’s… not exactly model police behaviour.” Becky admitted. 

It took all of her willpower and then some to keep from rolling her eyes. “‘Course it’s not,” she huffed, “ everyone in the HFPD is a corrupt douchenozzle.” Lex’s fingers twitched. God I could use a fucking cigarette. 

“That’s a bit of a blanket statement, but there are definitely some not-so-nice cops out there.” Becky nodded. 

 

Becky shot a glance at Hannah in the backseat and, sensing her discomfort, immediately switched to a random station. “Let’s listen to something else, shall we?” 

 

“And I ran, I ran so far away

I just ran, I ran all night and day

I couldn’t get away.”

 

Becky chuckled to herself, though it was clear there was no heart in it. “My cousin likes this song. She’s like, permanently stuck in the 80s. Even has a mullet too. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of this particular song, though.” She tapped her fingers on the steering wheel. “It’s… just not my style.”

 

Lex simply stared at her blankly. Becky’s tapping increased.

 

She’s nervous.

 

“What about you, Lex? What sort of music do you listen to?” Becky asked as the light turned green.

Lex blinked twice, taken aback. Rarely did people ask her personal questions, if they even talked to her at all.

“Uh… mostly alternative rock or indie shit. Not a big pop fan.” She scratched the back of her neck, her blunt black nails scraping her skin. “Though I’ve been trying to expand genres. My friend makes a lot of mixtapes that we listen to when we go driving. He’s got pretty damn good taste in music.”

“I see.” Becky hummed. “And you, Hannah?” 

Hannah fiddled with the worn-out hair ties holding her braids. “Not the same as Lexie.”

“That’s ok. We all have different likes and dislikes. It’s perfectly fine to not like the same thing someone else likes.” Becky consoled, shooting her a reassuring smile. Hannah’s wrinkled forehead smoothed out, her expression softened, and the tension in her slim shoulders melted away.

 

Damn, all it took was a few kind words and a smile to soothe Hannah? Is this lady fucking magic too? 

 

The electric guitar of I Ran faded away to a familiar drumbeat that made Lex perk up and, in spite of herself, smile lightly.

“You know this song?” Becky asked. “You’re smiling.”

“Oh uh, yeah.” Lex automatically covered her mouth to hide her grin. “I um, heard it recently.”

 

Well, not out loud. In my dreams.

Specifically, in that dream where Ethan picks me up from work and we walk around the mall and… hold hands and shit. 

 

Recently Lex kept having bizarre dreams where Ethan and her would do weird couple shit. Innocent stuff, like going on dates or holding hands or cuddling. She hadn’t had anymore kissing dreams, thank God , but that didn’t stop her from waking up in the middle of the night every week, cheeks flushed and heart beating fast at what she had just seen— and usually, it wasn’t even much that would make her insides feel like they were burning. 

 

“Taaaake oooon mee. Take. On. Me. Taaaake meeee ooon. Take. On. Me. Iiiiiii’ll beee gooooonnee. In a day or twoooooooooo!” Ethan sang into an invisible microphone as the song blared over the mall speakers. 

“Has anyone ever told you you have a wonderful voice?” Lex teased, munching on the Cinnabon Ethan bought her. 

“They have, actually.” Ethan boasted. “Did I hit the high note?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Ah, bullshit.” He scoffed at her cynicism. “You’re just jealous.” He readjusted his grip on her hand and squeezed it tightly. 

“Jealous of what?” Lex arched an eyebrow. 

“My singing voice.” He hipbumped her lightly. “Though yours ain’t bad either.”

“Damn, you got me.” Lex laughed and rested her head on his shoulder. “Thanks, Eth.”

“‘course, babe.”

 

Lex blinked, trying to clear the memory of the wack ass dream from her mind.  

 

Just a dream. Isn’t gonna happen anytime soon. Or ever. 

Those dreams didn’t mean anything. It’s like Deb said, we all have weird dreams sometimes.

Right? 

 

“We’re here!” Becky’s voice broke Lex from her thoughts.

“Oh, wow.” Lex breathed as she got out of Becky’s car. “This is…”

The house was oddly cheerful for a home so close to the Witchwoods. It was a large colonial style home that was at least 2 stories and painted bright white. There were surprisingly many windows for the home of a vampire, each one surrounded by blue edges that were obviously hand-painted. In the yard was a tiny garden with strange plants, as well as an oak tree that was a little crooked but still endearing. It was a stark contrast to the dark looming forest nearby. 

 

“Never seen plants like this before.” Lex said, gazing at the garden.

“Well, it’s no ordinary garden! It’s a night garden. Meaning all the plants bloom at night.” Becky tapped a bush with large white bulbs. “See this? This is a moonflower. It only blooms at night. It’s quite pretty.” 

 

“What about all your windows?” Lex asked, noticing how the windows were open with no curtains over them. “Aren’t you afraid of getting like, burnt if you forget your sunscreen or something?”

Becky chuckled. “No, dear. I have special thin screens placed over my windows that filter the sunlight so it doesn’t burn vampires, while also allowing you to look at the sun uninhibited. It was pricey getting those installed, but so worth it. The sunrise looks lovely from the upstairs windows.”

Lex’s eyes widened. “I didn’t know that was a thing. Cool.” 

 

God, it had been such a long time since Lex had watched the sunrise. What she wouldn’t do to see it again.

 

“Welcome to my home.” Becky said proudly as she and the girls stepped into her house. “Take off your jacket and shoes if you’d like; there’s a coat hanger on your right.” 

“Um, sure.” Lex made no move to take off her shoes or hoodie, instead staring at the room around her. The ceilings were tall, taller than Lex would have expected from the outside of the house. A modern kitchen stood to the left of the entranceway, with a polished table next to it. Despite there being 5 chairs around the table, only one appeared to be consistently used based on the worn seat. The kitchen was neatly organised for the most part, except for a pile of thick cookbooks stacked haphazardly on the marble island in the middle of the kitchen. Cabinets were full of cups and bowls of various sizes and shapes, and everything on the black spice rack was sorted in alphabetical order. The walls were painted a striking white that contrasted with the dark exposed rafters, and the floor was made of deep brown wood tiles. 2 aprons, one deep green and the other with a red and white polka dot pattern, hung innocently on a hook attached to the white pantry door. It was the polar opposite of every kitchen Lex had ever been in in her life– though it wasn’t like she visited a lot of people’s homes. 

 

“Sorry the place is such a mess; I wasn’t expecting visitors today.” Becky apologised.

What the hell are you talking about? This is like, probably one of the cleanest places I’ve ever disgraced with my presence. It’s like I walked onto a shitty HGTV show. Lex thought sardonically. 

 

“Oh! Silly me!” Becky slapped her forehead lightly. “I forgot the groceries in the car. I’ll be right back. You two get yourselves comfortable, ok?” And with that, she ran back to the car, leaving the two sisters alone.

 

“She sure is trusting huh,” Lex said slowly, leaning against the table. “Leaving 2 strangers alone in her house like that.”

“She said we’re gonna make strawberry pound cake.” Hannah sat down in a seat at the table. 

Lex raised an eyebrow. “I thought she was giving us plasma packs?” She pinched the bridge of her nose. “Fuck, this was a bad idea. Even the thought of someone giving out those expensive ass things for free is ridiculous. There’s no way–”

 

“Sorry I’m late!” Becky burst through the door, arms full of groceries. “Oh, if you want your plasma packs right away, they’re in the fridge.” She jerked her head in the direction of the fridge. “Take as many as you’d like.”

“Wh-what?” Lex sputtered. “Are you serious?”

“Why of course!” Becky put her several bags down on the counter with a huff. “Could you grab one for me too, please?”

“So they’re… not poison?” 

“Of course not!” The nurse chuckled. “If they were poisoned, I wouldn’t be drinking them.”

“O-oh. Okay.” Lex swallowed heavily, and made her way over to open the fridge.

 

She didn’t know what she expected exactly, but the fridge was as clean as the kitchen, with all food put into neatly stacked tupperware. In the back were about a dozen juice box things that Lex assumed were the plasma packs. She grabbed 3, and set them down on the table. To her astonishment, Hannah was helping Becky put away the groceries, without any prompting.

Christ, are they suddenly best friends? Usually I have to at least ask Hannah to help with the groceries. Now she’s skipping all over the damn place.

 

“How uh, long does a plasma pack last? Like, how long do they sustain someone for?” Lex asked, stabbing the straw into the pack.

“Oh, it really depends on the person.” Becky shrugged. “If you ration it and don’t drink it all at once, then for a little girl like Hannah, it might last 2 weeks or so? But for adults like us, maybe only a week to a week and a half.”

“Dammit.” Lex cursed softly. “So we’d have to buy new packs every week? Fuck, that sucks.”

“It’s certainly not cheap, true.” The nurse sat down next to Lex. “You usually eat from animals, right? Have you ever drank from a human? No judging.”

 

Lex froze.

 

Fuck.

Uh. 

Shit.

 

She glanced at Hannah, then at Becky, then settling on the plasma pack before her. “...We eat animals, yeah.” She finally answered with a shrug, picking at her nails. 

“Well plasma packs are quite different from eating animals, but I hope you’ll still like it.” Becky smiled comfortingly. “Go ahead, have a sip.”

 

Even with the prompting, Lex waited until Becky took a sip from her own pack before cautiously jamming the straw into the top of hers and bringing it to her lips.

 It tasted saltier than she’d expected.

She hadn’t really expected it to taste like much or anything, so the fact that it even had a taste caught her off guard, along with the fact that it wasn’t a coppery taste like she’d been expecting. It was about the same consistency as water, the same thickness, same temperature, but it was definitely not water. It didn’t taste like saltwater either– and the saltiness wasn’t so overpowering that it was undrinkable.  

Still, as she took another sip, suddenly her insides felt all warm. Her back straightened. Her cheeks flushed. 

Damn.

This is nice.

Sure, it wasn’t the exact same feeling as drinking Ethan’s blood (which she still felt bad about), but it was still good , and she could feel the gnawing hunger that constantly plagued her stomach fading. 

 

With a reassuring nod from Lex, Hannah also sipped from her plasma pack, her face lighting up immediately. 

“Looks like you two like it, huh?” Becky beamed. “I’m glad.”

“Salty.” Hannah commented offhandedly, though she drained her pack quickly.

Man, she must’ve been hungrier than I thought.

 

Becky shrugged. “You get used to it.” She set her own pack down. “I prefer it to blood, though. Funny, considering vampires’ primary food is blood but… tis a modern age, I suppose.”

“Better than dead animals, that’s for damn sure.” Lex muttered. 

 

“Hannah dear, would you like to help me bake?” Becky asked kindly. 

“I’ve never baked before.” Said Hannah tentatively. “I don’t want to mess things up.” 

“That’s ok, I can show you. Right now, I just need you to help remove the strawberry stems while I preheat the oven.” Becky set a pint of strawberries on the counter and placed a paper towel next to it. “Just pluck off the leaves, wash the strawberries in the sink, then put them on the towel. Do you think you can do that, sweetie?”

“Mm-hmm!” 

With wide eyes Lex watched Hannah plod over to Becky and begin to prepare strawberries with little hesitation. Usually, Hannah was cautious at best and completely distrusting at worst with adults, but with Becky she actually seemed comfortable for once.

She must really trust her, huh.

 

“But first, we have to put our aprons on. Every good chef or baker wears an apron. It’s very important.” Becky retrieved the two aprons from the pantry and handed the green one to Hannah. “Sorry it’s a little big. I originally bought it for my boyfriend, so it’s meant for a grown man, not a little girl.” She smiled apologetically, dressing herself in the polka dot apron. “Better than nothing though, right?”

Hannah tugged at the thin apron, which went down to her knees. “Mm-hmm.” 

 

“Big house for someone living alone.” Lex wondered aloud, looking around the spacious home.

“I used to live with someone else. Not anymore.” Becky shrugged. “Sometimes my boyfriend and his son come over, but they never stay long.” She brought out various bowls and cooking tools as she spoke. “When I originally bought this house it was a bit of a fixer-upper, but it was pretty cheap for its size and had a lot of land. I think I did a pretty good job remodeling, don’t you agree?” 

“Yeah.” Lex glanced up at the chandelier above the kitchen table. “...Are you like, rich or something?”

“Rich? Oh, no. I live comfortably, I suppose, but I’m not part of the 1%.” Becky chuckled. “Besides, I’m not very fond of rich people anyways.”

I like this lady even more. 

“Me too. Fuck the rich.” Lex grinned and took a sip of her plasma pack. “My asshole boss is literally capitalism as a person. He’s a fucking Mr Krabs kinnie, I swear.”

Becky laughed. “I’m not too fond of capitalism either. Fu–” She glanced at Hannah and reconsidered. “...Screw capitalism.” 

Lex’s grin widened. “Fuck yeah.”

 

“I’m done with the strawberries, Becky.” Hannah chirped. “What next?”

“Very good, Hannah!” Becky praised. “Next we have to mix together the butter and the sugar.” She dumped a cup of butter, and even more sugar into a large bowl. “I must warn you though; it gets very loud. So if you want to plug your ears, that’s fine.” 

Hannah nodded curtly, and after a moment of watching Becky fiddle with the mixer, jammed her hands against her ears and offered her a soft smile. 

 

“So, Lex.” Becky started, flicking on the mixer. “Do you two live with someone? A roommate, or maybe a partner?”

Lex shook her head. “No, no, it’s just us. And I uh, don’t have a partner. Haven’t dated anyone in a while.”

“Yet.” Hannah added, her smile turning coy.

Lex closed her eyes to stop herself from rolling them in front of Hannah. You keep saying that, but it’s not true. 

 

“I can see the future,” Hannah explained to Becky, raising her voice a little to be heard over the loud mixer. “Webby helps sometimes too.”

Becky raised her eyebrows. “Wow, that’s incredible! That’s a really rare power. You’re a very special little girl, you know that?” She spun the mixer around the bowl for a moment before continuing. “I can heal people. I mean, I can’t heal really difficult things like cancer, but I can close small flesh wounds or clear up headaches. Comes in handy as a pediatric nurse.” Her gaze set upon Lex. “What’s your power, Lex?”

“Oh, I dunno. Haven’t gotten one yet.” Lex shifted uncomfortably and shrugged. “I haven’t been a vampire for long though. Maybe I’ll get one later.”

 

Truthfully, it did bother Lex a little bit that she was apparently powerless. According to her research, almost every vampire had their own special individual power, but evidently not Lex. 

Just another down side of being a shitty vampire, she supposed. 

 

“I wouldn’t be too worried, dear. I was born a vampire, and I didn’t get a real handle on my powers until I was eighteen or so. There’s no rush.” Becky assured her. 

“If you say so,” Lex mumbled, taking one last sip of her drink. 

 

Didn’t say she didn’t have one until she was eighteen…

Son of a bitch. 

 

As much as it wasn’t supposed to be disheartening, Lex couldn’t keep herself from digging her nails just a little further into her plasma pack— the now-spent thing crinkling in his grasp. She could feel Becky’s eyes on her as she did, and with that thought, forced her expression to lighten as the older vampire reassuringly patted her shoulder. 

She didn’t stiffen under Becky’s touch.

Most adults pulling any shit like that would’ve made her hackles raise and her fangs jut out with a hiss of fucking watch it , but… something about Becky made those instincts— that mistrust— fade away. 

 

“These things just take time, that’s all,” she soothed. 

“Right,” Lex agreed, albeit, dryly.

That was what all the online forums had told her, too, that finding her powers would take time— that she had to find herself first, whatever that meant, as if she was someone she wanted to find. Sure, she didn’t really know herself, but that was just fine as far as she was concerned. 

 

“Looks like the butter and sugar are well mixed.” Becky noted. “Hannah noted sweetheart, do you know how to crack eggs?”

Hannah tilted her head. “Saw Lex do that a few times. She’s really good.” 

“The recipe calls for 5 eggs, so I’ll tell you what: I’ll crack 2 eggs myself, we try one together, and if you’re feeling confident enough you can do the others on your own. How’s that sound?” Becky suggested. 

“...Ok.”

 

“You’d be a good teacher.” Lex said as she watched Becky carefully demonstrate how to crack an egg without the shell dripping into the batter. “Hannah usually uh, isn’t a huge fan of adults.” 

“Lex sweetie, I’m a nurse at a children’s hospital. I have to be good with children. That’s literally my job.” Becky chortled. 

“O-oh. Yeah. That um, makes sense.” Lex mumbled, desperately wishing to bury her metaphorical head into metaphorical sand to avoid the embarrassment of what she just said (even if Becky didn’t seem to mind).  

 

“Becky, Lexie, look! I cracked the eggs without any shell bits!” Hannah declared proudly. “...Except for one tiny piece.” 

“Excellent work, sweetheart!” Becky clapped her hands in delight. “Now, just a few more steps…”

 

As Becky and Hannah went to make the rest of the cake, Lex leaned back in her chair and let herself completely zone out. If there was one thing she was really good at, it was not paying attention. 

I’ve been watching them cook together, so unless the food itself was poisoned from the get-go, I don’t see how she could have poisoned us so far. And I don’t get any wack vibes from her. Could she actually be just a sweet 30-something vampire who likes to bake and is crazy nice for no reason? Lex rested her chin on her palm and held back a sigh. I’m so used to not trusting asshole adults around me that meeting a decent one feels strange. 

 

Becky and Hannah moved in what looked to be perfect tandem. Even though the kitchen was small, they didn’t bump each other like Hannah and Lex would while cooking at home– they moved together to double-check the oven’s temperature before pouring the batter into a pan and sliding it in, Hannah opening the door and Becky settling it on the rack. 

It was… weirdly domestic. 

Nice, even, which was weirder , and something that normally would’ve made red flags fly high in her subconscious, but… for some damn reason, Becky wasn’t making her suspicions rise. She really, truly seemed to just be a nice lady. 

That was probably the weirdest thing of all. 

 

“Alright, that’ll bake for an hour.” Becky settled down in her chair, with Hannah following her. “Now– are you girls any good at puzzles? “Puzzles?” Lex echoed, quirking a brow slightly, at which Becky nodded somewhat enthusiastically. 

“Yeah! I used to do them all the time. Still have lots stashed away– come, come!” 

 

How old are we, nine?

Well, Hannah’s 9. I’m not. I’m 17 and Becky’s… whatever.

A wholeass adult. 

Who… likes puzzles. 

 

“You’re never too old to like puzzles,” Becky said, as if reading Lex’s mind. “Or we can play Scrabble.”

Lex snorted. “Isn’t Scrabble like, an old person game? ‘sides, I’m not that great at spelling.”

Becky shrugged. “That’s ok. That just makes it more challenging.” Her mouth quirked up in a slight smirk. “...Or are you too afraid to play the game?”

Lex narrowed her eyes. “Oh, you’re on. ” 

 


 

“Lex, ‘babbledegook’ is not a real word.”

“Yes it fucking is, Becky! It means uh, a bunch of nonsense words. It’s real, I swear.”

Becky rubbed her temples in exasperation. “Are you thinking of ‘gobbledygook’?”

“That’s the bitch! Told you it was real.” Lex leaned back in her chair with a grin. “12 letters, so that’s like, 45 points. Checkmate.” 

“No, you don’t get any points, because you didn’t even get the correct word.” 

“I was close!”

“They don’t even start with the same letter!” Becky argued. “Just because they sound similar doesn’t mean it’s a valid word in the game. That’s like saying that ‘snorange’ should be considered a real word because it sounds similar to ‘orange’.” 

“Snorange? I’m gonna use that word from now on.” Lex was clearly enjoying Becky’s distress. “Also–”

 

Beep beep beep! 

She was interrupted by a loud beeping noise. 

 

“Oh, the cake’s ready!” Becky shot up from her chair, clearly glad to get away from Lex’s tomfoolery. After putting on mittens– red and white polka dots to match her apron, because of-fucking-course she’d have a matching apron and mittens– she carefully retrieved the cake from the oven and placed it on the counter.

“Smells good.” Hannah stared at the cake in awe. “...Not pink, though.”

“That’s because the cut up strawberries are inside the cake. But if you want it to be pink, we can fix that.” With a wink, Becky flitted over to the fridge and pulled out a large pink cone shaped bag. “This’ll help spruce things up!”

“What’s that?” Hannah asked curiously.

“This is a piping bag, filled with some strawberry glaze I made from scratch last week. See this pointy end? When you squeeze the bag, the glaze comes out of the tip.” Becky explained. “Though we can’t decorate it just yet– we’ll need to wait a while for the cake to cool down.” 

 

“But! If you’d like, we can have tea while we wait.” Becky added quickly at Hannah’s pout. “Would you like that?” Hannah nodded. “Great! See that kettle over there? Just fill it with water, then put it back down and flip on the little switch. Lex, could you please clean up our Scrabble game?”

“Wha– um, yeah, sure.” Lex blinked, slightly startled at the sudden request, but immediately began packing up the game. 

This is weird. Usually if an adult asks me to do something I drag my feet and groan, but with Becky… I don’t mind as much.

Maybe she is magic. 

 

Humming a little tune, Becky moved around the kitchen, bringing out a carton of fresh strawberries, and handing a few tea bags and a small sugar bowl to Hannah. Hannah took them without a word, and for once, Lex actually felt at peace. 

Extra weird. 

 

As Becky finished decorating the cake, Hannah set two cups of tea down, one loaded with sugar and the other with barely any at all.

“Nice, right?” Hannah whispered. Lex nodded. “...Safe, like Webby said.”

“Yeah. Webby was right.” Lex allowed herself a small smile.

“Webby’s always right.” Hannah huffed, sitting beside her. 

“Of course she is.” Lex squeezed Hannah’s hand gently. 

 

“Aaaand cake is served!” Becky announced proudly, placing the pound cake down on the table, along with two plates for the girls. “Hope you like it.”

“Woaahh.” Lex and Hannah marveled together, gazing at their thick slices, each topped with cute pink icing and plump strawberries. It looked like an illustration from a cookbook or an entry on a cooking show. 

 

“Can I really eat this?” Lex breathed, sinking her fork into the moist cake and cutting herself a piece. 

Becky laughed. “Of course you can, dear. You too, Hannah. After all, you helped make it!” 

 

Cautiously, Lex slipped the fork full of cake into her mouth.

 

Oh.

Ohhhh.

 

The cake was spongy, rich, moist, to the point where it almost melted in her mouth if she held it there for too long. The buttercream icing was sweet as well, but not sweet enough to distract from the cake’s smooth flavour. The strawberries were just ripe and juicy under her tongue, and before she knew it, Lex had devoured it all.

 

“Easy there! Don’t wanna choke while eating, do we?” Becky advised, chuckling a little at Lex’s eagerness. “How was it?” 

“Really good!” Both sisters enthused. “Can I have another piece?” 

“Certainly! Have as much as you’d like.” Becky flashed another one of her signature lovely smiles and cut them a second piece. “If you want, I can wrap some up for you later.”

“Yes please.” Lex said excitedly, voice muffled from talking with her mouth full. 

 

Fuck it. If it was poisoned, it was so worth it. 

 

“I usually bake about once a week. Sure, it doesn’t give me any actual nutrition, but it tastes good, doesn’t it?” Becky cut herself a piece and had a bite. “Mmmmm. You did a good job, sweetie.” She patted Hannah’s shoulder, who smiled shyly. 

 

“So, continuing our conversation from earlier, you said you and Hannah live alone? Do you live in an apartment, or a hostel?” Becky asked, taking another bite.

“Uh, no. There’s no hostels in Hatchetfield anyway.” Lex took a slow sip of her tea. “We, um, live at the…'' She trailed off, the shame already setting in. “...The Morning Glow Hotel.” She finished, quietly. “Couple blocks from Dean’s. Been there for a while.”

 

Becky tilted her head, studying Lex silently. Her eyebrows were scrunched together, not in judgment, but in concern. 

“...Maybe I can help with that.”

Even Becky seemed surprised at the words that left her lips. She quickly covered her mouth, before dropping her hand.

 

Lex raised her eyebrows. “How so?”

 

“Well I… Oh, I don’t know, I…” Becky sighed, and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I dunno, maybe you two could stay with me?”

“You can’t be serious.”

“I have two extra bedrooms! So you could each have your own room. I’m not asking for rent or anything like that. I won’t ask a thing from you, honest.”

“...You seem like a nice lady Becky, and no offense n’all but this seems too good to be true.” Lex’s brows furrowed. “Seriously, what’s in it for you?”

 

Becky sighed again. “It’s lonely living in this big house by myself.” She finally said, picking at her cuticles. “And… since I wasn’t able to fill those extra two rooms myself, I was thinking, maybe you two could fill them.”

Lex blinked. “What about your boyfriend and his son?” 

“They have their own house.” Becky waved her hand dismissively. “It’d be better than staying in a hotel room, right?”

Lex stiffened. “...Maybe.”

 

She’s right. I’m tired of living in that shitty motel for months and months. 

 

“Lexie.” Hannah whispered in her ear. “Webby said we need to stay here.”

The elder vampire bit her lip. “Hannah, I know you want to stay but–”

Webby says that if we stay, we’ll be happy. Webby’s never wrong. Webby told me to go to the grocery store today. I knew we were gonna go before you even said anything.” Hannah insisted urgently. “...Even if you say no now, it’ll happen. Future vision, remember?” She added quietly. 

Lex sucked in a breath through her teeth.

 

Fuck. Right. Future vision. 

Damn it.

 

Hannah wasn’t one to lie about things like that, either. If she said it was her future vision, it was her future vision, full-stop, which meant… 

 

We’ll be living with Becky… whatever the hell her last name is. 

 

For some reason, the thought didn’t immediately disgust her like she thought it would. Maybe it was the fact that she’d been supporting the pair of them on her own for so long that made her pause, eyes locked with Hannah’s, and dig her fangs further into her lip. 

 

...might be nice to have someone to trust.

 

Someone who wasn’t herself, and as much as the hotel room wasn’t bad , it… certainly wasn’t meant to be lived in too long, seeing as it was sort of tiny and definitely pathetic, no matter what she’d tell Hannah to make her feel better. 

Also, not having to pay rent every month was definitely a plus. 

 

“There you go! Future vision.” Becky echoed. “I’m not expecting you to move in today , of course. Take as long as you’d like to figure it out, okay– here, wait a second.” 

Becky rose from her seat to quickly grab a paper napkin and a pen, then scribbled something down and handed it to Lex.

“What’s this?”

“It’s my phone number,” she explained, offering a smile alongside her words, “for… in case you’d ever like to chat, I suppose.” 

“Oh. Huh.” Lex stared down at the numbers in front of her. Jeez, even her handwriting is nice. “Thanks.”

 

“No problem!” Becky replied. She glanced at the nearby clock, and her eyes widened a bit. “Oh, my, it’s getting a little late. I’ll pack up some plasma packs and pound cake for you two.” 

“That won’t be nece–”

“Nonsense!” Becky interrupted, already pulling out a cloth bag from the pantry and shoving plasma packs into it. “Let’s see… are you fine with just 8 packs?”

“B-Becky, that’ll leave you with only 4 packs, right? I’m not trying to force you to give up your food or anything.” Lex objected.

“I can always buy more. You two need it more than I do.” She waved aside Lex’s protests. “Besides, you said it yourself– much better than dead animals.”

“I–” Lex went to protest, though she was stopped by Becky breezing past her without even seeming phased by the slack-jawed teen standing there, still holding a napkin in her too-loose grip.

 

“I’ll give you 4 slices of cake– 2 for each person. That alright?” Becky sliced 4 pieces of the cake, and stacked them neatly into a piece of tupperware. “Here you go, dear.”

“I-I guess.” Lex stared blankly at the bag placed in front of her, filled with plasma packs and cake. “I can really take this?”

“If I didn’t want you to take it, I wouldn’t have packed it.” Becky chuckled lightly. “Come on girls, I’ll drive you home.”

 


 

After insisting to drive them all the way home– not just to the nearby Denny’s a few blocks away– and helping bring up their grocery bags to their doorstep, smiling the entire time, Becky finally turned tail and left. 

 

“That worked out better than expected.” Lex mused, putting the plasma packs and cake in their fridge. “Oh, what’s this?” She noticed something delicately wrapped in a blue cloth. She unwrapped it carefully to reveal… a large white flower.

“Moonflower,” Hannah murmured, appearing behind Lex out of nowhere. “Pre–” She interrupted her word with a yawn, “–tty.”

“Yeah, it is.” Lex twirled the flower around between her fingers in wonder. 

 

“Seems like someone’s tired, huh.” Lex noticed, squeezing Hannah’s shoulder lightly as she yawned again. “Wanna go to bed early tonight?”  

“Mmhmm.” Hannah nodded drowsily. 

“Alright. Change into your PJs and I’ll tuck you in, k?” 

“K.” 

 

As Hannah got changed, Lex’s gaze fell to the napkin sitting on her desk.

If Becky was serious about her offer… this could be our chance to get out of this shitty hotel and into a better life.

 

“Done.” Came Hannah’s soft voice, distracting Lex from her thoughts. 

“Good.” Lex smiled gently, pulling Hannah’s bedsheets back and allowing her to crawl under them, then tucking her in, snug as a bug. 

“Today was fun.” Hannah mumbled, her eyes already falling shut. “Wanna… do it again… sometime.”

Lex paused. “...Me too.” She finally said, though Hannah was already asleep. 

 

With a sigh, Lex rose from Hannah’s bed, and picked up the napkin. 

 

Know what? We’re doing this. Worst that can happen it’s the wrong number and I got fucking pranked. 

Somehow, I don’t think that’ll happen, though. 

 

Biting her lip and taking a deep breath, Lex texted the number on the napkin.

 

Lex (8:50): Uh hey this is Lex. Is this Becky? 

 

Immediately her phone pinged.

 

Unknown number (8:50): Hello Lex! Yes, it’s Becky 

 

So I did get the right number. Quickly she inputted Becky’s contact info into her phone. 

 

Lex (8:51): Thanks for the cake today

Becky (8:51): Of course dear :) I truly enjoyed you and Hannah's company! Come back any time. I'll bake you another cake- or maybe some cookies! 

Lex (8:52): Sounds nice. Maybe I’ll take you up on that sometime 

Becky (8:52): And remember my offer! You're always welcome to stay with me :)

 

Lex leaned back in her chair and glanced at Hannah, soundly sleeping in her bed. 

 

Lex (8:54): Thanks Becky :) I’ll think about it.

Chapter Text

“Seriously Ethan, you look even more nervous than I am.”

“So sorry I want your little sister to like my other side.” Ethan shot back. “She’s a sweet kid.” 

“Sure is.” Lex tapped her fingers on the steering wheel, tsking in annoyance when the alt rock radio station cut to an ad, and switching to the news station.

 

“And in today’s news, Police Chief Sam Williams, who has been missing for over 2 weeks now, was found horrifically murdered on the shores of Bearton Lake a few hours ago. He died from 2 silver bullets in the head, with his heart and canine teeth ripped out posthumously. Police have no suspects or witnesses thus far, but believe it may be connected to the string of supernatural related disappearances that have been plaguing Hatchetfield these past few weeks.”

 

Ethan whistled. “Damn. Brutal. Nasty way to go. You feel bad for him, Lex?”

Lex snorted. “No. Dude was an asshole. You?”

“Ha! No.” Ethan scoffed. 

 

“Good. Hannah’s getting a little worried about all these disappearances, though. Says Webby keeps warning her something bad is gonna happen. Won’t say what.” Lex turned down the volume. “Personally I think we’re pretty safe with Becky but… I dunno.” She shrugged. “Since Hannah can see the future, when she says something’s wrong, I believe her.”

“Oh yeah, what’s the deal with Webby, anyways? Is she like, an imaginary friend or some shit?” Ethan asked, flicking his skull lighter Lex had given to him on and off.

“I don’t really know. That’s what I thought at first but… Awful smart for just an imaginary friend.” Lex’s tapping increased. “Hannah describes Webby as a ‘spider from outer space’, which certainly fits her name, I guess. Webby tells her little bits and pieces of information, like the future, or who to trust. And she’s never been wrong. Hell, Webby even told Hannah to talk to Becky and… now we’re fucking living with her.”

 

“Huh. Wack.” was all Ethan could say. “You like living with Becky?”

“Hell yeah. She’s nice, keeps us well fed, makes delicious cakes and sweets for us, the whole shebang. She’s not home all the time, since she works long shifts at the children’s hospital, but when she is here it’s great. Hannah fucking loves her.” Lex smiled to herself. “Definitely an upgrade from that shitty hotel room. We even have our own separate rooms. I forgot how much I missed actual privacy.” 

“Privacy’s nice.” Ethan agreed. “When I was living with Mom ‘n Pop, our house was real small and the walls were thin, so you could hear something happening in a completely different room pretty easily. But with Uncle, he has a weirdly big house and the walls are thick, so usually I can do whatever the hell I want and not have to worry about someone hearing what I’m doing.”

Lex raised an eyebrow. “And what is that?”

“Usually blasting rock music and smoking pot. It’s funny when Ollie gets on my case if he smells weed coming from my room, considering he’s dating a fucking hardcore stoner.” Ethan shook his head with a laugh. 

“Sounds like the life to me. I haven’t smoked any weed in my room since I moved into Becky’s– I’m not sure how strict she is when it comes to drugs n shit. I think she knows I smoke cigarettes, but she hasn’t called me out on it yet.” Lex glanced out the car window. “It’s getting dark out. You almost ready?”

 

“Hell yeah. I transform, you go get Hannah. Easy peasy.” Ethan unzipped his jacket and tossed it on Lex’s lap. “Here.”

Lex blinked. “I thought your jacket was shifter proof.”

“It is, But I feel better when it’s safe in your hands.” He shot her a smile. “Also, it’s fucking summer. It’s getting too hot to wear a leather jacket all the time.” 

 

“Fair enough.” Lex parked the car and gave Ethan’s shoulder a quick squeeze. “Relax. You’ll be fine.”

“What if I attack her?” Ethan worried. “I mean, I have less control when I transform via the moon vs at will.”

“Ethan, if you attack Hannah I will punch you in the fucking eye without hesitation,” Lex said bluntly. “But I know you won’t do that. Have a little faith in yourself, ‘k?” She nudged him playfully. “You trust me, right?”

“Of course.” Ethan immediately replied. “With my life.”

“I’m pretty damn protective of my sister, in case you couldn’t tell. She is the person I love most in this world. So the fact that I’m letting your wolf form near Hannah shows I trust you a whole lot. If I thought it was seriously dangerous, I wouldn’t let you do this.” She took his hand. “So… if I trust you this much, then you gotta trust yourself, got it?” 

 

Ethan just stared at her, slightly open-mouthed. 

He squeezed her hand 

one,

two,

three times. 

Lex didn’t know whatever the hell that meant, but her heart beat a little quicker either way. 

 

“Ethan?”

“H-huh? Oh, yeah.” Ethan blinked quickly, as if broken from a trance. 

“Good. I’ll go get Hannah. Be right back.” Without realising, Lex leaned forward a bit, then froze.

 

Wait, what the hell was that.

Was I about to… kiss his cheek? What the fuck? Where did that come from? 

Weird.

 

Shaking her head to herself, Lex pulled away and exited the car. Glancing up she saw a dark figure in the top floor window gazing down, which quickly flitted away as soon as spotted.

Oh. Guess she already saw me. 

 

Behind her, Lex heard some heavy grunting and ripping, but knew better not to turn around. She had been around Ethan’s wolf form and had seen him transform several times, yet she still found the whole process unpleasant.

Her grip on his jacket in her arms tightened. 

 

She unlocked the door and stepped inside, nearly immediately running into Hannah. “Shit! Nearly bumped into you there.”

“Webby says good surprise.” Hannah blurted, eyes wide. “And not to be afraid.” 

“Uh– yeah. That’s right.” Lex nodded slowly. “Good surprise.”

Hannah’s eyes zeroed in on the jacket in Lex’s arms. “...It’s Ethan, isn’t it?”

She’s sharp.

 

“Are you gonna sleep with it again?” Hannah bluntly asked. “You do that a lot.”

Lex’s face went red. 

“Shhh!” She shushed her sister urgently. God if Ethan heard that, I’d fucking die. “That’s not true. And don’t say that so loudly.” 

 

Lex took Hannah’s small hand in hers. “Just… trust me on this one, k?” 

Hannah nodded her head. 

“Now close your eyes and come outside, and when I say so you can open your eyes, got it?” Lex instructed. 

 

Slowly Lex backed away before running back outside to check on Ethan, who was currently rolling around in the grass as a wolf.

Lex exhaled with a smile. “Idiot.” She murmured fondly. 

Even as an enormous, toothy wolf, he was just so... nonthreatening. Maybe it was because she knew him, but even when his eyes fixed on her and he gave a soft, contented yip before returning to flattening Becky’s front lawn, bits of grass sticking to his fur in spots and dirt beginning to speckle his fur coat, Lex didn’t feel scared at all. 

“Get in the flowers and you’re so dead,” she called out in a warning, at which Ethan froze in place.

Well, froze except for his tail- the bushy thing whipping back and forth to a point where it was more a blur than a part of him. 

Fucking dork.

Another soft bark pulled from his throat, almost in agreement, the sound causing her lips to pull upward further, her smile broadening into a full grin. 

Okay. He’s not going anywhere until our lawn’s completely flat. 

 

“Right, okay, you stay there…” Stealing one last glance at Ethan as he tilted his head in her direction, one of his ears flopping like that of a puppy, Lex smirked and rolled her eyes before turning her eyes back to the front doorway and carefully stepping back through it. “Hannah?” 

“Coming!” 

She sounds excited. 

It wasn’t something she heard often. Hannah’s voice took on an upward lilt whenever she was happy, almost singsong. Something that she’d never heard when they were at the old place, and something that was rare at the hotel, but… here at Becky’s…

 

I made the right choice. 

Well. Hannah had called it. 

They made the right choice?

Whatever. Unimportant.

 

Creeping forward, into the entranceway, she offered Hannah a grin along with her hand. “C’mon,” she prompted, earning an enthusiastic nod. Hannah was quick to screw her eyes shut, and after a moment spent looking at the kid, she carefully guided her out to the doorway. 

 

“...okay, Banana,” she instructed once they stood on the front porch- Ethan sitting bolt upright at the sight of the younger vampire. His tail’s wagging kept up the same pace. “...you can open your eyes.”

Hannah, who had been hovering at the doorway, slowly opened her eyes.

 

There was a moment of silence as Hannah and Ethan stared at each other.

 

Uh, maybe this wasn’t a good idea–

 

The thought stopped short the second her younger sister spoke up. 

 

“Puppy.” Hannah breathed, eyes lighting up in delight. “Puppy!” 

As if drawn by a powerful magnet, Hannah rushed over to Ethan and wrapped her arms around his body, burying her face in his soft fur. Ethan gave a pleased bark, and nuzzled Hannah right back. The wagging of his tail picked up speed- the blur so fast Lex was half-convinced it would fly right the hell off in a matter of seconds, though it stayed firmly put as Hannah giggled and scratched behind one of the somewhat floppy ears.

“Guess you two like each other, huh?” Lex commented, barely able to contain her grin. 

“Mmhmm!” Hannah hummed happily, laughing as Ethan licked some smeared dirt off her cheek. 

 

Thank god. If Hannah didn’t like Ethan’s other side then… I guess that’d be a dealbreaker for him. 

 

“What’s going on out there?”

 

Lex, Ethan, and Hannah all froze.

 

Becky plodded outside, still in her infamous shitty bunny slippers and looking more than a little tired– though her eyes widened upon seeing her adopted daughter hugging a giant dirty wolf, as well as her flattened lawn. 

 

For a few seconds, there was silence. 

 

Shit.

We’re so fucked. 

 

Unable to keep herself from stiffening involuntarily at the sight of the older vampire, Lex inhaled sharply through her teeth. 

“...I can explain-” 

 

Becky cut her off with a snap. “O-Oh, that’s…” Trailing off, snapping a couple more times and furrowing her brow, Becky exhaled sharply, one hand coming up to tiredly brush her hair out of her face. “...E… something…”

Ethan yipped at her in response. Where he was sitting- Jesus, even sitting, he’s enormous- his tail thumped in what was left of the grass. 

“...How the hell do you know Ethan?” Lex asked slowly, eyes wide and confused.

“Ethan! Yeah, that’s it!” Becky snapped one last time. “Oh, I’ve seen him a few times over at my boyfriend Tom’s place! Mostly in wolf form, though.”

 

“Boyfriend… Tom…” The pieces clicked into place. “Wait, like Tom Houston?”

“That’s the one!” Becky nodded cheerfully.

“That’s my shop teacher. What the fuck.” Lex ran a disbelieving hand through her hair. “My adopted… whatever… is dating my fucking teacher. Shit.”

“Now that I think about it, he has mentioned you before! I’m sorry, it must have slipped my mind to tell you.” Becky laughed, a bit awkwardly.

Lex glanced at Ethan, who was nuzzling into Hannah’s hand and pointedly not looking at Lex or Becky. “But why the fuck is Ethan over at Tom’s? He told me only his family knew about his wolf form.” 

Becky tilted her head. “That’s not true, though. Tom’s been mentoring Ethan for months. He’s been teaching Ethan werewolf tricks, like how to control your transformations and spar and stuff like that.” 

Lex arched a brow at Ethan. “Huh, that’s fucking news.”

She could practically picture Ethan’s sheepish grin, had he been a human. 

 

“Rrright. Well, since he can’t turn back into a human ‘cuz it’s the full moon ‘n all, could he maybe sleep inside? I know he flattened your lawn, but I think he’d prefer sleeping inside.” Lex noted. 

Becky pinched the bridge of her nose.

 

It was quiet for a moment.

 

“...Fine. But I need to at least clean him off first. He made a mess of my lawn, but he won’t make a mess of my house.” She finally said. “ Right , Ethan?” She narrowed her eyes at the wolf, who yipped in agreement, albeit a bit less excitedly than before. Almost sheepishly. The tail that had slowly stopped its wagging slid across the grass to tuck between his legs. 

“She’s not seriously mad, E. No need to worry.” Lex whispered to the wolf comfortingly, raising one hand and gently scratching the underside of his jaw. “But you better not give her any trouble.”

 

In response to the contact, Ethan butted his head against her hand, and with a soft whine, leaned closer. His furred body brushed against her side. His wet nose lightly impacted her fingers, and when she moved to stand, he gave a little huff of irritation. 

One that Lex matched. “ Ethan ,” she grumbled, “c’mon, up you g- WOAH!”

His paw swung forward, and in an instant, Lex fell flat on her back, pinned in place. 

He moved fast when he wanted to, she’d give him that. For a creature that was so huge, and for a creature that was Ethan , his wolf shape was agile - agile enough that when he pounced, he didn’t knock over Hannah, only her , and when he did-

Something wet and slimy dragged across her cheek. 

His tongue. 

It was a familiar sensation, though that didn’t mean she fucking liked it. Yelping in response to the sudden affection, ignoring the fact that the tips of her ears felt like they were burning, Lex used her legs to push against his chest to the best of her ability, though that only made him lick her again

“Fucking GROSS!” 

 

Behind him, Hannah giggled- the traitor. 

“Goddammit, Ethan.” She grunted. “Becky, could you get a towel to wipe up all this fucking drool fucking Wolfie over here is leaving?”

Behind her, Becky stifled a laugh. “Will do, Lex.” 

“Wolfie?” Hannah echoed. “Cute name.” 

 

Lex’s face flushed. Struggling in vain under Ethan’s weight, she worked her hands under the sides of his jaw and gave him a good a shove as she could muster- though of fucking course, the wolf didn’t budge. Instead, he pressed his snout closer and firmly licked across her cheek again, and again, and-

ETHAN!” 

When she raised her voice, he hesitated- the barrage of licks stopping just long enough for her to wriggle out from under his paw, though when she moved to get away, something yanked on the back of her hoodie. Hot breath washed over the nape of her neck. 

Like that, she stopped short. 

You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.

His teeth weren’t digging too hard into the fabric, certainly not enough to rip it- why couldn’t he grab onto the collar of his own jacket and not my fucking hood? - but enough to make her more than a little bit aware of the fact that if she put any pressure on the material, it’d tear, leaving her half-standing, half crouching, knowing there was a giant dog more than ready to yank her back with the sounds of his excited breathing and Hannah’s poorly-muffled laughing enough to make her face turn a dark red. 

 

“Hannah, c’mon ,” she groaned, “can I get a hand?”

Hannah gave a weak shrug in response. “How?” She asked- the question, albeit, a simple one, enough to make Lex heave a sigh. 

A sigh that made Ethan softly woof into her ear. 

 

It’s gonna be a long fucking night. 

 

It was

 

Which was weird, because once Lex had gotten the slobber off her face, and Ethan had been coaxed into letting go of her sweater with some soft scratches from Hannah- then led inside, cleaned off, and shown to the couch, things had been just fine. 

They’d been fine as she brushed her teeth.

Fine as she slipped into bed.

And fine when the darkness behind her eyes consumed her vision entirely, dragging her into a deep sleep.

 


 

“Cigarettes and alcohol

They're gonna get the best of us both

But no matter what you do

I'll still love you

Red label and some white Marlboro

Some things we just can't let go…”

 

“Mmm…” 

 

The only sound in the room besides the soft music in the background was the quiet noise of lips sliding together and clothing rustling.

 

Lex was on top of Ethan, arms around his neck, trading gentle kisses with him over and over.

They moved slowly, carefully, with no particular rush or desperation. Ethan threaded his fingers in the back of Lex’s shirt, but made no move to take it off. In turn, Lex tugged a little on his curls, causing him to inhale sharply. 

 

This is nice.

This is really nice.

“It is nice.” Ethan agreed, as if reading her thoughts. “I could do this forever.”

 

“Me too.” Lex whispered, trailing kisses from his lips to his jaw then down to his neck. As she kissed over his pulse, Ethan let out a shaky gasp– the exact same gasp he had made when Lex sucked his blood. 

Now that she thought about it, it actually sounded a lot like a moan. 

I wonder what his moans really sound like.

She paused.

Maybe I can find out.

 

“Lex–” Ethan didn’t even finish his question before Lex pulled him into an intense kiss, straddling him and clutching his shirt tightly. 

“What the hell?” He mumbled as Lex pulled away to breathe. “‘m not against what’s going on, but what?” 

 

“I wanna hear you moan,” Lex said simply, as if it was obvious. “You think you can help with that?”

 

Ethan bit his lip, his eyes locked onto Lex’s. He gazed at her with that stupid adoring stare that he always used in her dreams. 

Though he looked at her like that in real life too. 

 

His lids lowered, and smiled one of those dumb cute smug smirks that made her want to kiss him even more.

“I can sure as hell try.” He finally answered, surging up to press his lips against hers and firmly wrapping his arms around her back, pulling her down on top of him. 

 

The mood changed completely. Suddenly kisses were frantic, hands were everywhere, names were whispered between lip bites, fingers were tugging at clothes, and then– 

 

“FUCK!” Lex shot up in bed, her heart beating as fast as her vampire body could allow. 

“Ohhh my god. What the actual fuck.” She raked the hair back from her face and pressed her hands against her eyes. “What the fuck was that.”

 

Not only was it a kissing dream with Ethan, but unlike the first dream, it actually got… spicy at the end. 

Sorta.

She had never had a dream like that before.

 

“Horny jail. I’m going to fucking horny jail.” She murmured to herself. “Fucking hell, Lex.”

 

Lex flopped back down with a heavy sigh, turning on her side and burying her nose in Ethan’s jacket, which she had been using as a pillow. She inhaled deeply, and instantly relaxed at its comforting smell. It was familiar. Cigarettes, cheap cologne, engine grease, gasoline- but beneath it all, something that was strictly Ethan . Something warm and gentle yet fiercely protective all at once. 

Something that just… made her feel okay. 

 

Friends could use each other’s clothes as pillows without it being romantic, right?

Right.

Besides, she was only doing it because it was warm and she found the smell of it soothing. No other reason whatsoever. 

 

Lex shut her eyes, her grip on Ethan’s jacket loosening as she slipped into a (luckily) dreamless sleep. 


 

Lex had no idea what time it was when she woke up, although the soft light peeking through the blinds let her know it was at least mid-morning. She sat up and yawned, groggily rubbing at the sleep dust in the corners of her eyes. Forcing herself out of bed, she trudged over to the connected bathroom and half-assedly brushed her teeth, washed her face, and got dressed.

 

Crazy dream last night.

Fuck, even thinking about it made her cheeks turn pink.

Just like Deb said, nothing more than a weird dream. Doesn’t mean anything. 

 

Lex exhaled and casually slipped on Ethan’s jacket, it’s calming weight instantly causing her shoulders to slump and the tension in her muscles leave her body. 

 

Still half asleep, she dragged her ass downstairs, grumbling to herself all the while. She headed towards the kitchen, though paused upon passing the empty living room couch.

Wait, what?

It’s empty.

Where the hell is Ethan?

Lex doubted Ethan would just leave in the middle of the night– plus his Uncle’s place is on the other side of town– and even if he did try to leave, he would have left a note or a text. 

Strange.

 

“Good morning Lex!” Becky chimed as Lex walked into the kitchen. Hannah was already seated at the table, and Becky was busy making tea. “Would you like some tea?”

“I’m good, thanks.” Lex waved her off and stifled yet another yawn. “How are you always so peppy in the mornings?”

Becky shrugged. “I’ve been up for a little while already. Plus I’m used to getting up early.” 

“Fair enough.” Lex collapsed in her usual chair. “I’m definitely not a morning person like you.” 

 

“I can tell.” Becky set cups down for Hannah and herself, then stopped. “...You’re wearing Ethan’s jacket, aren’t you?” 

Lex shifted uncomfortably. “...So I am. What about it?” 

“On that note,” Becky started, pouring some sugar in her tea. “What’s up with you and Ethan?”

Lex blinked. “What do you mean?”

Please don’t mean what I think you mean.

“I mean, do you have a crush on Ethan?” Becky prodded with a smile. “You two seem very close. And you’re wearing his jacket.”

Dammit.

Lex scoffed dismissively. “Whaaat? Me and Ethan? Ha. Good one, Becky.” She didn’t even bother to sound convincing. “There’s nothing on either side, promise.” 

 

“Lex dreams about Ethan.” Hannah butted in, much to Lex’s chagrin. “A lot. Good dreams.”

Hannah, that’s not true !” Lex insisted. “Don’t tell Becky that!”  

Hannah just tilted her head. “Webby said… really good dream last night. Won’t say what.”

Lex felt her cheeks involuntarily turn red. “That’s– that’s not important! I, uh, maybe I did have a good dream that didn’t involve Ethan. You don’t know it specifically involved Ethan.”

Hannah didn’t even pause before replying. “Webby knows.” 

“Sure she does.” Lex ran a hand over her exasperated face. “It doesn’t matter what I dreamed about, ok? They’re just dreams, nothing more. Who cares what they’re about. You don’t need to know, Hannah.” 

 

Becky's eyebrows creased in thought, before relaxing as her face brightened with realization. “Oh! I see what you mean.” She patted Lex’s hand and smiled. “That’s ok dear, having those dreams is just a natural part of being a teenager. No need to be embarrassed.” 

Lex’s entire face went red. “What?! N-no, not that type of dream! Oh my god, no!” She shook her head frantically. “That’s not it at all. W-Why in the world would I have that type of dream about Ethan? Don’t be ridiculous.” 

“What type of dream?” Hannah blinked in confusion. 

“No need to worry about that, sweetie.” Becky waved her aside. “You’ll find out when you’re older.”

 

“Are you even listening to me?!” Lex protested, her voice cracking horribly. “I said that’s not it!”

“It’s alright Lex. Your secret’s safe with me. I won’t tell him.” Becky assured. “And if you ever need to talk, I’m here.”

Lex buried her face in her hands. “God I wanna fucking die .” She muttered miserably, voice slightly muffled by her hands. “Seriously, there’s nothing going on–”

 

“Mornin’ girls.” 

 

Lex’s words were cut short by Ethan strolling into the kitchen, still rubbing sleepily at his eyes.

 

“Morning, Ethan.” Lex replied automatically, adjusting her– his– jacket around her slightly. “Nice bedhead.”

His hair was a thick nest of messy curls, now free of the hair gel he usually used to carefully coiff his hair. A few strands fell into his half-lidded eyes, though he didn’t seem to mind.

Lex was filled with an intense urge to run her fingers through his hair.

Cute. 

 

“Oh, thanks.” Ethan grinned lazily, blowing a stray tuft off his forehead. “You like it?”

 

Wow, his voice is gruff when he wakes up.

That’s… sorta attractive, actually. 

 

“Totally.” Lex kept her voice light, teasing. “By the way, do you have something on your jaw? It’s all dark.”

“Hmm?” Ethan touched his jaw and sighed. “Oh. That. Yeah, that’s stubble. Happens sometimes after I transform under a full moon. Fucking annoying.”

 

“Stubble? No way.” Lex made her way over to Ethan and, before she could stop herself, ran her fingers over his cheeks and jaw. The stubble was short and slightly rough, but not exactly painful to the touch. “Huh. I guess you do have stubble then. ...Like a hedgehog.” She mused.

Ethan, whose eyes had fluttered shut and was clearly enjoying the attention, peeked one eye open. “...Hedgehog?” He echoed.

“Yeah. Y’know, how hedgehogs have tiny little spikes on their backs. It’s like that. But on your face.” Lex explained. 

Ethan pressed into her hand slightly. “Hedgehogs are cute though, aren’t they?”

“Sure are.” 

 

There’s that goddamn soft look again. 

 

“So if I’m like a hedgehog, and hedgehogs are cute, then that means I’m cute, right?” Ethan reasoned. 

Lex laughed. Her chest felt warm, even though she hadn’t even had breakfast yet. 

 

Behind her, Hannah and Becky glanced at each other, and shook their heads incredulously. 

 

“Don’t push it, Green.” Lex joked. “Didn’t say that.”

“You implied it, though.” Ethan shot back with a smirk. 

“I think you’re overthinking it.” She matched his grin. 

“Yeah, but you're blushing.” He pointed out. “Doesn’t happen often.”

Lex averted her eyes. “...I think you’re still asleep and you’re just seeing things.” 

“Yeah, well–”

 

“Who wants eggs!” Becky interrupted, loudly, loudly enough that Lex knew it was on purpose– purposeful enough to make her blush deepen.  “Ethan, you can stay for breakfast if you’d like.” 

“Oh, eggs? Fuck yeah.” Ethan pulled up a chair and sat next to Lex. “Lex told me you’re really good at cooking.”

“I’d like to think so, yes.” Becky smiled and stood up to collect the ingredients. “Let’s see… Usually, I only make 4 eggs, but if I had to guess you’re the type who likes to eat a lot, right Ethan?”

Ethan shrugged. “Guilty as charged. Food’s good.”

“I agree.” Becky chuckled. “How would you like your eggs?”

“Sunnyside up’s fine, thanks.” Ethan said, surprisingly politely. 

“Hannah dear, could you get the plates and cutlery out and pour everyone some juice?” Becky instructed, eyes glinting slightly as Ethan subtly scooted closer to Lex. 

 

“Where’d you go last night?” Lex asked Ethan. “When I came downstairs, you weren’t on the couch where I left you.”

“Oh. Uh, that.” Chuckling nervously, Ethan averted his eyes. “Well, I don’t really remember much of being a wolf but I uh, I guess I somehow made my way up to Hannah’s room and spent the night there.”

“Whining at door at 1 AM. Wanted cuddles.” Hannah added at Lex’s raised eyebrow. 

 

Hannah cuddling with wolf Ethan?

That’s… an adorable mental image.

Wish I was there to see it in real life. 

 

“Hope he didn’t shed on the bed too much.” Becky cracked 4 eggs into one pan and 4 into another. 

“Wha– hey, I don’t shed! I’m not a dog!” Ethan protested with an offended scoff. 

“Helped me with nightmares.” Hannah shot Ethan a thankful glance. “Warm and soft.”

Lex frowned. “Nightmares? What kind of nightmares?”

Hannah shrugged. “Not too bad.” She took a sip of her tea. “Large storm that sweeps Hatchetfield up. ...Not the future.”

 

“At least it’s not a prophecy. It would be a real shame if my nice house got swept up in a storm. Maybe it’ll carry us to Oz.” Becky teased.

“Isn’t Oz like, a different dimension? Multiple dimensions don’t exist.” Ethan rested his chin on his palm. “Or is it a different world?” 

“I think it’s a different dimension. I know it’s not a different place on Earth, like… Arkansaw or some shit. Though it would be really fucking funny if The Wizard of Oz took place in Arkansas.” Lex suggested.

“Why is it pronounced like that, anyways? It should be pronounced ‘Ar-kansas’, not ‘Ar-kan-saw’. Unless Kansas is secretly pronounced ‘Kan-saw’ instead of just Kansas, I think it should be pronounced ‘Ar-kansas.’ Makes more sense.” Ethan argued.

Lex scoffed. “You can call it however you want, but I’ll tell you this– if you pronounce it Ar-kansas in front of someone from that state, they’ll probably deck you.” 

“Not my fault people from Ar-kansas pronounce their state’s name wrong.” Ethan shrugged. 

 

“We don’t live in Arkansas, so it doesn’t matter. Here’s some scrambled eggs for Banana, fried eggs for Lex and me, and sunny side up for Ethan.” Becky placed each plate down in front of its respective person, all of who reacted with delight.

“Ethan has 4 eggs.” Hannah noticed. “Why?”

“‘m a growing boy, or whatever.” Ethan answered through a mouthful of egg. “And we’re down to three , now.” 

“There’s your answer. But if you’d like, I could cook you another egg. Do you want that, dear?” Becky patted Hannah on the back lightly, who shook her head. “Alright then. Pass the salt, please.”

 

They ate in comfortable silence, the only noise being forks scraping against plates.

 

“I should probably get back to Uncle Henry’s.” Ethan said, glancing at a clock. “Recently he’s been super paranoid about all the disappearances, so he’s probably worried about where I am. If he’s up by now- sometimes he stays up all night grading bio papers and sleeps well into the day afterwards.”

“Bio papers?” Becky hummed. “By any chance, is your Uncle a professor at the Hatchetfield Community College, and his last name starts with an H?” 

Ethan did a double-take. “Uh, yeah. Henry Hidgens. How the hell do you know that?” 

“Tom’s sister in law Emma has him as a teacher. She often describes him as, ah, ‘kooky’. Is that accurate?” Becky half-smiled. 

“Kooky is a fucking understatement.” Ethan scoffed. “He plays the Wicked soundtrack while planning for the apocalypse. He has at least 2 underground mad scientist labs, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he had more, and I’m like 67% sure he’s experimented on himself before. Plus if he wasn’t so gay, he’d prolly have a thing for his fucking Alexa, which is a goddamn robot .” 

“That um, certainly is kooky.” Becky hid her grin behind her hand. 

“Hey, you can laugh if you want. He’s two steps away from being a fucking complete nutjob. It’s pretty funny.” Ethan quipped, drawing a laugh from Becky and Lex. 

 

“With those comforting words, let’s get you back to that nutjob, shall we?” Lex stood up, and Ethan followed suit. 

“Thanks for the eggs Becky. And sorry about fucking up your lawn.” Ethan smiled apologetically. “See ya later, kiddo.” He ruffled Hannah’s hair affectionately, who lit up like the sun.

“Come back anytime you like, dear.  I’d love to cook for you again.” Becky said with her signature lovely smile, winking at Lex as soon as Ethan’s back was turned.

 

Lex rolled her eyes, hating how her cheeks heated up. After a nod goodbye, she took Ethan’s hand and led him outside.

 

Non romantically, of course.

 


 

“Ok, now that you’ve met my guardian, am I allowed to meet yours?” Lex asked out of the blue as she drove down the nearly empty Hatchetfield streets. “You’ve told me some pretty wild stories about him.” 

 

Ethan shifted uncomfortably. “I dunno how well you two would get along. Henry’s a fucking weirdo and… well…” He swallowed heavily. “Ok um, you don’t have to answer this but… are you uh, are you like bi? Or are you straight?”

Lex blinked twice. “Uhhh, I’m bi. Why?”

“Oh ok, good.” Ethan’s shoulders relaxed a little. “Uncle Henry doesn’t like having cishets in his house.”

Lex gave a startled laugh. “Fucking what?!

“Yeah. He’s gay as fuck, Ollie’s trans and gay, and I’m bi. Just ‘cuz I like girls too doesn’t mean I’m cishet. Therefore, I’m welcome in his house.” Ethan explained. 

“Isn’t that like, lowkey discrimination though?” Lex arched an eyebrow.

“That’s what I said. But he was like,” Ethan affected a deep, dramatic voice, “You kidding me? When I was your age, it was a goddamn crime to be gay. There were no gay politicians, we had no rights, why, up until I was 18 it was considered an illness! If anything, this is just payback. And besides, it’s not like you bring over tons of friends every day.”

Lex sucked in through her teeth. “Ooh, yikes to all of that. Does he actually sound like that?”

“I’ve been told I do a pretty good impression, yeah.” Ethan leaned back in his seat. “Mind if I have a cig?”

 

“Sure thing. There’s a pack in the side door pocket.” Lex nodded. “Do you use that lighter I got you?”

“Every damn day, yeah. It’s cool as hell.” Ethan lowered his voice. “And special, since it’s from you.” 

“What was that?”

“Uh, nothing.”

 

“Oh, by the way, do you wanna hotbox with me on Monday after school?” Ethan rolled down the window to blow out smoke. “I can show you my hotbox playlist too.”

“Wasn’t it called like ‘Hotbox and Hickies’ or some shit? Still got nobody for that?” Lex teased.

“Like I said before– the hickies are fucking optional,” Ethan grumbled, averting his eyes and looking away. “We can just do the hotbox part if you want.” 

 

Lex glanced at him. 

His cheeks were bright red.

 

Without his jacket to block the view, Lex could see the full expanse of his pale neck.

 

Now that I think about it, red and purple marks would probably look nice on his skin–

 

Lex screeched to a stop at a red light, her heart beating fast. 

 

Hold up what the fuck was I just thinking.

 

If Lex was alone in the car, she would’ve slammed her head on the steering wheel.

 

Jesus H Christ on a fucking bike, what is wrong with me today? First that fucking dream, now this?! 

 

Maybe it was a vampire instinct thing. Seeing his exposed jugular must’ve just triggered something. That was all, nothing weird about that- having impulses or whatever the fuck it was all the stupid informational pamphlets had warned her about- she was just… hungry, maybe? 

Only no, that wasn’t right, she had enough blood plasma in her system that she could fucking blush , she wasn’t-

 

“–Lex?”

Lex blinked. Her heart was racing, and as she turned to shoot Ethan a concerned glance out of the corner of her eye, she could feel her face burning– god fucking damn it. 

“Huh?” 

“The light’s green.”

“Ah, shit, my bad.” Lex pressed the gas, but her mind was still racing.

 

Maybe I got weird food poisoning? No, but I had the horny dream before the eggs, so that can’t be it. I think.

 

“Do you– do you feel– strange?” Lex blurted suddenly.

Ethan’s eyebrows furrowed. “Uh, no. Do you?”

“No!” Lex’s answer was short, clipped, almost a shout. “No. I was just um. Just wondering. Since you ate a lot of eggs ‘n all.”

“Nope. I feel fine.”

“Oh ok.”

 

The rest of the drive was silent, but thankfully not very long. 

 

“I’ll talk to Unc about meeting you, k?” Ethan said as Lex pulled into Henry’s driveway, and stepped out of the car. “He’s a shut-in, so unexpected guests can sorta freak him out.” 

 

“Fair enough. Oh, I suppose you’ll be wanting this back, right?” Lex pointed at Ethan’s jacket.

“I dunno… you look pretty good in it.” Ethan tapped his chin in (fake) thought.

Lex rolled her eyes. “You always say that.”

“Cuz it’s always true, Lexie.” Ethan retorted. “I’ve let you wear my jacket a hundred times. I don’t just let anyone touch it.” 

“I feel so special.” Lex drawled.

“You should be.” 

 

There was a beat, then they both burst out into giggles. 

 

“Seriously though, do you want your jacket back or not?”

“Are you gonna wear it on the first day of school?” Ethan tilted his head. “If you are, then you can keep it over the weekend. If not, I want it back.”

“I wear your jacket all the time, though.” Lex pointed out.

“Not on the first day of senior year, though.” He countered. He held out his hand. “Is it a deal?”

With a soft laugh, Lex took his hand and shook it. “Deal.”

“Good. See you Monday, Lexie.” Ethan gave a little finger salute, then walked away.

“See ya, Eth.”

 

As Lex watched Ethan slip inside the mansion, her phone vibrated. 

 

Becky (10:03): Hey Lex! It was lovely having Ethan over, even if he did mess up the lawn, haha. If he does come over again, I have a request though– could you two please keep the PDA and eye-f***ing down in front of Hannah? Thanks :)

 

Lex felt her soul leave her body.

With a face as red as a tomato and trembling hands, Lex texted back her reply.

 

Lex (10:03): WE WERE NOT EYE FUCKING BECKY WTF?????

Becky (10:04): I’m not judging! Having raging hormones when you’re a teenager is quite normal. 

Becky (10:04): But Hannah is a child, and while she’s had a rough life, let’s try to preserve at least a little innocence, ok? :)

Lex (10:05): Becky, me n Ethan were not doing anything inappropriate or sexual oh my godd

Becky (10:05): You two looked like you were 2 seconds away from jumping on each other, dear.

Becky (10:05): Have you seen the way he looks at you?

Lex (10:05): With his eyes??

Becky (10:06): I’d say more like bedroom eyes haha. ;)

Lex (10:06): Becky s t o p 

Becky (10:07): You know when I was younger I had a crush on my best friend too. 

Lex (10:07): 1, I don’t have a crush on Ethan 

Lex (10:07): 2, ….what happened to your friend?

Becky (10:08): Unfortunately she moved away before I could properly ask her out on a date.

Becky (10:08): But I kissed her, and it was great :)

Lex (10:09): And she didn’t push you away or anything? Like, you weren’t afraid of ruining your friendship?

Becky (10:10): I was certainly nervous haha!

Becky (10:10): Yet it felt so right when I kissed her, that I didn’t even think about what would happen afterward.

Becky (10:10): Sure, we were never official girlfriends, but I never regretted kissing her. 

Becky (10:11): Now I’m not trying to be some stupid overprotective adult who wants to control your life/relationships, but here’s my advice: 

Becky (10:11): If your heart wants it, and your mind wants it, and your gut wants it, then go for it! :) 

Lex (10:12): Huh. 

Lex (10:12): ok. IF something happens I’ll keep that in mind

Lex (10:12): Thanks Becky

Becky (10:13): Of course, sweetheart :) 

 

With a sigh, Lex started her car back up, and drove home.

 


 

Senior year had finally come, not to the delight of anyone. Lex and Ethan shared a math class (ew) and took shop together again.

 

Lex still found it weird that her new sort of mom was dating her fucking teacher. 

 

As promised, after school Ethan and Lex sat together in the backseat of Ethan’s car with all the windows shut tight, blowing smoke like they were in a goddamn hookah lounge. 

 

“How do you like Mr. Weatherbee so far? I just hope he teaches math properly and not the absolute ass that was last year’s math teacher.” Lex asked. 

“He looks almost as dead inside as the seniors do.” Ethan quipped, glancing at Lex, who was stretched across the backseat, her legs resting on Ethan’s lap.

Lex chuckled. “You’re not wrong.” She took a long drag from her joint. “I’m just glad we’re in a class together again. Besides shop, I mean.” 

 

“Hell yeah. We can fail the class together. Be shitty study buddies.” Ethan joked. “Or study and chill.”

Lex scoffed and threw a bag at weed with him with a roll of her eyes. “God, shut up Eth. You’re the worst.”

“I’m just teasin ya! Don’t take everything so seriously, Lexie.” He shot her a smirk. 

“A couple of months ago if you had said that shit you’d be so embarrassed.” Lex sat up partially. “You’d get all red in the face and start stuttering.” She arched an eyebrow. “What happened to that Ethan, huh?”

Ethan shrugged. “Grew a spine, I guess.” He took a short puff. “Talkin’ to pretty girls is hard, ok?” 

“Haven’t you had girlfriends in the past?” She raised her eyebrows higher. “Or did the girls just come to you and that whole ‘sexy bad boy’ thing you have going on?”

Ethan blinked. “Did you just call me sexy?”

Lex faltered. “I– uh–” She cleared her throat, averting her eyes. “I’m not calling you sexy. I’m saying you’re going for that ‘sexy bad boy’ stereotype. Not that you’re … fuck it, just gimme another joint.” 

“Whatever you say.” Ethan passed her a joint, the smirk never leaving his face.

 

Smug bastard. 

 

There was a quiet moment, where the only movement was the smoke curling in the air and the only noise was the mixtape playing in the back.

 

" Alright, I'm ready now, ready now

I ain't gonna, I ain't gonna fall back down now

Alright, I'll take it on, take it on me

Take it on me, hmm, baby

 

All I, I ever ask, ever ask

Are you gonna, are you gonna be my lover?

Tonight, and take it with, take it with me

Take it with me, hmm

 

What if I left and it made no sense

And you tell your friends

And they hold your hands

Baby, nevermind, nevermind

Nevermind, nevermind.”

 

Lex laid back down and stared up at the car ceiling. “You know, I wasn’t planning on staying in Hatchetfield for long.” 

“Oh yeah?” Ethan put out his joint in his ashtray. “Why?”

“I didn’t like living in a hotel room. I was planning on saving up money and running away to California.” Lex rested her hand on her stomach. 

“That’s a long way.”

“Sure is.”

“You still planning on doing that?”

Lex allowed herself a small smile. “Dunno. I’ve found some reasons to stay.”

“Like?”

“Living with Becky is nice.”

“Sure seems like it.”

“And… unlike what I previously thought, not everyone in Hatchetfield is a complete unlikeable douchebag.” 

“Any examples?”

“You.”

 

Their eyes locked in a stare.

Lex’s heart stuttered.

 

“That so?”

“Yeah.” Lex sat up slowly.

“You sayin’ you’d stay in lil ol’ Hatchetfield for me ?” Ethan asked incredulously.

“I said you’re one of the reasons. Don’t get cocky, Green.” She nudged him playfully. 

“I’m not cocky, I’m fuckin’ honoured.” He nudged her back. 

 

Lex waved her hand. “I still wanna go to Cali someday. But not to like, escape or run away, just move there. Become an actress and all that shit. Who knows, maybe someday you can visit me in my Hollywood home and…” Her gaze drifted out the back window, before the words died in her throat.

 

That mop of frizzy red hair and flashy cateye glasses was unmistakable. 

It was motherfucking Ms. Murphy, the queen bitch of science teachers and notorious hardass. And by the looks of it, she was headed straight in their direction. 

 

“Wait– fuck, Ms Murphy get down–” Lex hissed.

“What–”

 

Quickly Lex grabbed Ethan by his lapels and yanked him down. With an oof he landed on top of her, his arms darting out at the last second to stop himself from completely crushing her. 

He opened his mouth, most likely to ask What the fuck are you doing, but Lex silenced him by pressing a finger to his lips.

 

The annoying sharp rap of too-tight heels grew nearer.

 

Click-clack. Click-clack.

Click-clack.

 

Their wide eyes met.

Lex slowly lowered her finger, ignoring how it trembled slightly.



The shadow of Ms. Murphy passed by their window.

Click

Clack…

The footsteps stopped. 

 

They held their breath.

 

1, 2, 3…

 

After a few seconds, the footsteps started back up, and faded into the distance. 

 

“...Holy shit.” Lex whispered, a smile spreading over her face. “We made it.” A soft giggle escaped her lips, one that Ethan matched.

“I totally thought we were gonna get caught.” Ethan said between giggles of his own. 

“Me too. It’d hella suck if I got arrested again .” Lex joked. 

“If it’s any comfort, I’d go down with you.” Ethan shifted his weight slightly, but didn’t move off of her. “I’m not gonna let you get put in handcuffs by yourself.”

“You’ll be the Clyde to my Bonnie, huh?” Lex snickered.

“Hell yeah. Though I think hotboxing in a school parking lot is less serious than like, murdering and robbing banks like they did.” Ethan teased with a laugh. “But sure.” His eyelids lowered, and his smile widened. “You’ll be the Bonnie to my Clyde.” 

Lex couldn’t help but find herself smiling back.

 

God, Ethan has such pretty eyes, and a nice smile, and an adorable laugh .

And shit, it’d be so easy to snake an arm around the back of his neck and press my lips to his...

Fuck it. 

 

Carefully, Lex lifted her hand to rest on the nape of his neck.

 

Her lips parted. 

 

I want this. 

 

Ethan’s eyes widened a smidge, before fluttering shut.

Lex’s stayed half-open. 

 

I really want this.

 

Slowly, slowly, they both leaned in closer.

 

Almost–




No.

 

Lex put a hand on Ethan’s chest, and turned her head away.

 

Ethan stopped, his eyes snapping open. “Huh?”

“I-I can’t.” Lex whispered. “ We can’t.”

“B-but you– I don’t– I don’t understand. What?” Ethan stammered.

“We can’t.” Lex repeated, sitting up and pushing Ethan away. “I just– I need to leave.” 

“Lex–”

 

Without another word, Lex opened the car door and ran off, burying her face in her hands so Ethan couldn’t see her cry.

Little did she know, Ethan cried too.

 


 

“Why did she do that? Why did she do that? WHY did she DO THAT ?!” Ethan repeated, pacing around the room frantically, gripping a half spent cigarette in between his shaky hands. “I just don’t get it.”

 

“Do you have to smoke in the living room?” Oliver complained, flipping a page in his book. 

 

“I don’t get it.” Ethan repeated, running a desperate hand through his hair. “ She was the one who yanked me down on top of her. She was the one who wrapped her arm around my neck and pulled me in. So why the fuckity fuck did she stop me at the last second? I don’t fucking get it.” 

 

“Maybe she got cold feet.” Oliver shrugged. “Does she know you’re like, in love with her?”

Ethan gave a strangled squeak at love . “I– Well, I don’t– I just– no! I mean, I-I don’t think so? But uh, love is a strong word.”

“So you wouldn’t say you’re in love with her?” Oliver tilted his head. “Would you prefer something like infatuation instead?” 

 

“Don’t try to use 5 dollar words like that to confuse me, Ollie.” Ethan groaned and pressed the heel of his hands to his eyes. “Fuck’s sake.”

Oliver rolled his eyes. “I’m not trying to confuse you. And good god, stop waving that damn cigarette around your head. Your hair is gonna catch on fire.” 

Ethan scoffed. “It’s not gonna catch on fire. I switched to a nonflammable hair gel after the last incident.” 

“Wait, did your hair actually catch on fire–”

 

“Ollie, that’s not the point!” Ethan cut him off impatiently. 

“It’s just…” The frustration in his voice melted away to a soft sadness. “I don’t understand. It doesn’t make sense and–”

 

Buzz buzz.

 

Ethan immediately checked his phone.

 

Lexie 🥰❤️ (6:50): Hey, about earlier…

Lexie 🥰❤️ (6:50): Let’s pretend that didn’t happen

Lexie 🥰❤️ (6:50): It’s not like that between us. 

Lexie 🥰❤️ (6:51): I think it’d be better for both of us if we just ignored that 

Lexie 🥰❤️ (6:51): That ok? 

 

Ethan’s world blurred.

He felt something hot dripping down his cheeks.

 

“Ethan? Ethan, you good? What’d she say?” Oliver’s voice sounded distant, muffled, as if underwater. “Wait– are you crying ?”

“Ggghh…” The noise that came from Ethan’s throat was short, but choked, guttural, full of pain. 

Oliver appeared behind him and peered over his shoulder. “What the– oh. ” He sucked in through his teeth and grimaced at the texts. “Oh no. Fuck, Ethan, that sucks. Sorry.” 

 

Ethan’s trembling fingers tapped only two keys. 

Ethan (6:53): k.  

 

Oliver’s eyebrows furrowed. “Eth–” 

 

Before he could get another word out, Ethan suddenly broke away, rushing upstairs as fast as possible, followed by a large BANG! as his door slammed shut. 

 

It was quiet for a moment.

 

From upstairs, there was one loud, shaky, broken sob .

 

And then, silence. 

Chapter Text

Usually, Oliver would consider himself a very punctual person.

Usually, Oliver managed to get to school on time, most of the time with a half-asleep Ethan in tow. 

Usually, Oliver would have no problem bursting into Ethan’s room and yelling at him to wake the fuck up, we’re gonna be late if you don’t move now! 

Usually, Oliver didn’t like making exceptions.

But this morning, when he cautiously creaked open Ethan’s door at 7 AM and saw the empty tequila bottle and the knocked over empty tissue box and the many crumpled up tissues on the floor, smelled the vomit from his bathroom, noticed the wet spot on his pillow that clearly wasn’t drool and how even in sleep his eyebrows were deeply furrowed and his breaths shaky... 

Just this once, Oliver let him sleep.

 

Ethan was obviously a fucking wreck, so it’s not like he’d be able to function properly in school anyways.

 

Oliver didn’t consider himself a ‘hopeless romantic’ or whatever and generally didn’t like cheesy tropes but…

What Oliver saw in Ethan’s eyes last night was true heartbreak , through and through. 

 

Oliver didn’t know much about Ethan’s past relationships. There were only 3 in highschool that he knew of– 1 boy in freshman year, 2 girls in sophomore. Nothing that lasted longer than 3 months or so. Ethan didn’t like talking about them much– not in a ‘they hurt me and I never want to speak of them again” way,’ more in a ‘the past’s the past, it doesn’t matter now’ way. He was attractive enough that if he really wanted to, he could get a girlfriend (girls loved the whole ‘Bad Boy With A Heart of Gold’ schtick, right?), but for some damn reason, he clung onto Lex like a life preserver in a dangerous, choppy sea. 

 

Though he denied it, it’s obvious that Ethan is in Love . With a capital L.

Was in love?

Was. 

He was in love, but now his heart is broken into a million tiny little pieces. 

 

Damn shame too. Though Oliver didn’t interact with them much at school, he had seen the way they acted with each other. The longing looks on both sides. The flirtatious body language. Sitting way too close for ‘just friends’. And the amount of times Ethan gave Lex his precious leather jacket, despite never letting anyone else touch it? Come on. It was practically like he was giving her a piece of his heart. 

 

Hell, most of the people at school already assumed they were together. Even Alice, while over for a study session, implied Lex had feelings for Ethan and that they were just secretly dating.

That was fucking wrong, apparently. 

 

But why? The signs were all there, the attraction clearly mutual, and yet… Ducking out of a kiss is one thing, but doubling the damage by sending an ‘it’s not like that’ text afterwards? Was Lex trying to break Ethan’s heart?

Was she even aware she had the power to do so?

Or is she really just that fucking oblivious that she doesn’t notice that her best friend is clearly, hopelessly in love with her. 

 

Oliver’s working theory was that Lex got cold feet and pushed him away in the name of preserving their precious friendship.

Instead, what she actually did was take that friendship– and Ethan’s heart– and smash it with a sledgehammer. 

 

Good fucking job.

 

Good god, Oliver had half a mind to go up to Lex at school and chew her the fuck out for what she did to Ethan.

Yeah, Ethan could be a huge fucking dick and a bully, but he was still family. Oliver still cared about him. 

And yet… Ethan wouldn’t want that. 

Knowing his stupid bitch ass, he probably wouldn’t want Oliver butting in, even if it was to defend him.

 

God.

The more Oliver thought about it as he drove to school, the more irritated he became. 

 

This is Shakespearian tragedy level of miscommunication bullshit. I’ve watched at least 3 shitty romcoms with this idiotic love plot, and I hate it. 

I hope Ethan doesn’t spiral too much. Maybe cry with a tub of ice cream for a day or two and that’s it. Fingers crossed he gets over it quickly so I don’t have to share a house with a moping punk. Yeah, they’re so close they’ll probably have fixed everything within 4 days or so. It’ll be fine.

 

(It was almost comical how fucking wrong Oliver was.) 

 


 

“Fuck.”

 

Lex stared at her bloody finger, her nail chewed all the way to the quick.  

She hadn’t chewed her nails in a long ass time, not since she became a vampire, but apparently that abstinence ended now. 

 

She was worried.

Ethan wasn’t answering any of her texts or calls since yesterday, besides that ‘k.’ message.

Ethan never used periods after just one letter.

 

He must be upset.

 

But why? Didn’t he understand that what she did was to preserve their friendship? Or was he upset she tried to kiss him? It didn’t make any damn sense.

Or was he upset she didn’t kiss him?

No, that can’t be it.

 

If anything, she was doing him a favour, although she had a feeling a ‘you’re welcome’ text would not be appreciated right now. 

 

With a heavy sigh, Lex pulled out and lit a cigarette. Thank fucking god the school bathroom had a broken smoke alarm because honestly, at this point how the hell else was she supposed to calm her nerves? 

She drummed her nails on the scuffed-up sink and stared at herself blankly in the subtly grimy mirror. 

She didn’t like the way her reflection looked back at her. 

 

“What the hell is wrong with you.” She whispered, tiny wisps of smoke escaping her lips as she spoke. Her reflection didn’t reply. 

 

Once she was done with her cigarette, Lex crushed it under her foot and threw it in the trash. The custodians never looked at what was in the trash anyways.

 

She had forgotten what class she was supposed to be in, so she decided to roam the hallways. As she was wandering around, suddenly someone bumped into her, nearly making her fall over. 

"Watch where you're goin– Oliver?" Lex paused in her rant. "Hold up, hey, Oliver, where's Ethan? I haven't seen him all day and he won't answer his texts. Did he skip school or something? Or– or did he have an appointment and just didn't tell me?" She trailed after Oliver, even after he tried walking away. "Where's your damn cousin, Oliver?"

 

Oliver suddenly turned around, and shot Lex with what could only be described as a death glare. His eyes narrowed. His shoulders bristled. His jaw set. "Out. No thanks to you ." He snapped, sharply. With that, he turned around and marched away, leaving a bewildered Lex in the middle of the hall.

 

Shit.

Shit.

Shiittttt. 

I really fucked up, didn’t I?

I fucked up big time. 

 

“Is he at least ok?” She called after Oliver, but he didn’t reply.

 

Taking that as a no.

 

“Fuck.” Lex ran an exhausted hand through her hair. “I need another cigarette.”

 


 

Lex stared up at her bedroom ceiling blankly, music blaring from her headphones and a knot of conflicted emotions in her chest. 

 

“This really is all my fault, huh?” She whispered to herself, unaware she said it out loud. Aimlessly she clicked skip on her Spotify as a too upbeat song began to play. The next song started gently, then–

 

“I'm kissaphobic

Don't wanna get too close to you

Your mouth is a hurricane

Something sweet before the pain

I'm kissaphobic

That body don't wanna hold it no

You'll loosen your dress

You'll pull at my neck

And we'll break what can't be broken.

 

Throwing the cabernet back

In a bright blue Cadillac

You're Marilyn Monroe

And I am James Dean's heart attack

Spin me around

Keep me spinning around

(Keep me) swaying to the band

Your fingers are quivering

Except when you're shivering

I wanna hold your hand.”

 

A scoff wound up in the back of Lex’s throat. “Seriously? Fuck you.” 

 

Is Spotify fucking psychic? What the fuck.

 

She didn’t even notice the tears rolling down her flushed face. She didn’t even notice her lip trembling. She didn’t even notice her hands on her stomach gripping her shirt tightly. 

 

She pressed skip again.

 

“Tell me pretty lies

Look me in the face

Tell me that you love me

Even if it's fake

'Cause I don't fucking care, at all

 

You've been out all night

I don't know where you've been

You're slurring all your words

Not making any sense

But I don't fucking care, at all.”

 

Lex sighed in relief. This is much better–

 

“Cause I have hella feelings for you

I act like I don't fucking care

Like they ain't even there

'Cause I have hella feelings for you

I act like I don't fucking care

'Cause I'm so fucking scared

 

I'm only a fool for you

And maybe you're too good for me

I'm only a fool for you

But I don't fucking care, at all, oh.” 

 

“Son of a bitch.” With a barely stifled sob, Lex ripped the headphones from her ears and threw them across the room.

Better to sit in silence and repress your feelings than actually confront them, right? She’d been doing it this long. It’d be out of character to do anything else.

She pressed the heels of her palms against her eyes tightly and took deep shuddering breaths, trying to calm herself down.

 

Chill the fuck out, Lex. This’ll pass. It’s just a phase. Eth doesn’t hold grudges. ...I think. Fuck, I dunno. I’m probably overthinking all of this. 

 

“Stop crying, stop crying.” She whispered, drying her eyes with her sleeves. “Get ahold of yourself goddammit.” 

 

“This’ll all blow over, promise.” She reassured herself, closing her eyes and focusing on controlling her breathing. “By Friday max, shit should be back to normal. We’ll be back to talking, and hugging, and maybe he’ll let me wear his jacket again… Yeah. It’ll be fine.”

 


 

It was Friday night, and Ethan still hadn’t talked to Lex. 

 

Instead, Ethan was standing in the corner of a rager some random guy at school had thrown, sipping from a red solo cup and gazing at the thick crowd of very much not sober teenagers dancing– or more like writhing– together to a shitty song.

Ethan wasn’t a huge fan of parties– they were usually too loud for his opinion– but they were the best place to get free alcohol and drugs, so he went anyway.

It wasn’t the first time he went to a party like this. Not even the first time this week. And it sure as hell wouldn’t be the last. 

 

Anything to take his mind off his troubles. 

 

He vastly preferred being blackout drunk or greened out than sober and alone with his thoughts. 

He knew it was unhealthy, but he couldn’t stop.

God, what is my fucking life anymore.

 

Ethan didn’t even realise he finished his beer until he lifted the empty cup to his mouth and nothing came out. He frowned.

Dammit. I don’t even remember drinking this. Am I that drunk already? Fuck. 

 

He wandered over to the alcohol station, and poured himself– what number was it again? Eh, who fucking cares– another cup of beer. Next to the punch bowl were a few brightly coloured tiny squares. He frowned.

God, what fucking idiot leaves their acid out on the table for anyone to take– 

Just as Ethan thought that, a random girl in a mesh shirt that was definitely not wearing a bra strolled up, plopped a blotter in her mouth, winked at him, and sauntered off into the crowd, singing along to the song blaring on the dance floor.

 

“I just came here to the party for the drugs 

Drugs, drugs, drugs, drugs

I'm not tryna make a friend or fall in love

Love, love, love, love

So just stop the faking

Not here for nameless faces

Pointless talking, conversations

Drugs, drugs, drugs, drugs

I just came here for the drugs.

 

Ethan slowly sipped his beer.

 

Ok, I’m not that far gone. Really not in the mood to die from maybe spiked drugs at a party from a guy whose name I don’t even know. 

 

The music switched to a popular club song, drawing a roar of approval from the dance floor. Ethan’s phone vibrated. 

 

Buzz buzz.

 

The moment he saw Lex’s contact name on his screen, he clicked off his phone and shoved it back in his pocket. 

 

Fuck. I need something stronger. 

 

He refused to look at any of Lex’s texts, regardless if she blew up his phone. He even changed her contact name from ‘Lexie 🥰❤️’ to simply ‘Lex’.

She’d probably prefer that, anyways. 

 

It had been– what, a week?– since Lex smashed Ethan’s heart into a thousand little pieces, and smashed each one of those shards into a thousand more little pieces. That’s like, if Ethan’s math is correct, 2,000 pieces, which is a lot. 

And then she had the nerve to act like she had no idea what happened. 

 

Ethan was very much an ‘either or’ person. Either he slept too much, or had no sleep at all. Either he cried till his tear ducts were bone dry, or remained dry-faced but with a permanent grimace. Either he had a vicious hair-trigger temper, or was completely emotionless, often staring off into space for hours at a time.  

His shirts and pants were no longer tight against his body, instead nearly baggy around his now thinner limbs. Partially because he didn’t eat, partially because his stomach seemed permanently upset and leaving him on the verge of throwing up at every turn. His lips were cracked and raw from being gnawed at constantly. His migraines never went away, no matter how many extra strength Tylenols he popped. 

Not only had his physical health declined, but his mental state? Thoroughly fucked . His already poor grades dropped harsher than the bass in a dubstep song. He pushed everyone he cared about away, because the only person he could trust was himself and himself alone. 

 

It wasn’t like nobody  tried to reach out to him. Oliver still checked on him occasionally, Lex kept trying and failing to reconcile with him, and Tom even attempted to pull Ethan aside and ask what’s wrong, only to be ignored. Sitting next to Lex in two classes did, unfortunately, make things awkward and difficult to give her the cold  shoulder. 

It wasn’t that he was angry with her per se, but rather that simply talking to her hurt his fucking heart. 

It was easier to turn the other cheek than deal with your problems, which is exactly what Ethan did. 

 

Spotting a somehow unopened bottle of tequila on a shelf, Ethan grabbed it, ripped off the bottle cork with his teeth, poured it into another cup, and downed it in one gulp.

It fucking burned his throat, but he didn’t give a fuck. 

Alcohol wasn’t supposed to taste good, anyways. 

 

He stumbled backwards until his back hit the wall, blood rushing in his ears and head spinning with every little movement. 

I hate this. 

 

He was perfectly content with lying against the wall with his eyes closed and zoning out, when a slight tug on his sleeve brought him back to reality. 

 

“Huh?” Ethan opened his eyes blearily. Next to him stood a girl about his age staring up at him through heavily mascaraed eyelashes. Even while wearing her strappy pink heels that matched her low-cut bodycon dress, she was still nearly a full head shorter than him. 

 

“Hiya handsome.” She crooned. “You come here alone tonight?”

“Uh, yeah.” Ethan nodded slowly. I think. If I did come here with someone, then I forgot who. “You?” 

“Yeah. Though I’m not planning on leaving alone.” She ran her gaze up and down Ethan’s body before settling on his face and biting her lip. “Think you can help me with that?”

 

Wait, is she flirting with me? 

 

She was drunk.

He was drunker.

 

“What did you say your name was again?” Ethan asked, raising his voice above the crowd.

“Alexis!” The girl replied with a grin.

 

Alexis.

A lex is.

Holy shit.

 

“Pretty name.”

 

“Thanks.” Alexis purred, shifting her layered golden blonde hair away from her collarbone. “Now c’mon hun,” She took his hand– God, when was the last time someone touched his hand– and practically dragged him to the dancefloor, “Let’s go dance.”

“I’m not much of a dancer.” Ethan protested, barely having time to set down his drink before Alexis led him most of the way out onto the floor, weaving through the mess of other teenagers with ease. 

“Neither am I! No one here is!” Alexis giggled. “But everyone is too drunk to care.” 

“Um, yeah…” He started, clear reluctance in his tone, though Alexis didn’t seem to hear it, already taking his hands and twining her fingers with his.

 

“Do you know how to grind?”

Ethan’s eyes widened. “Fuckin’ what?” He sputtered, a flush of heat fizzling across his cheeks– though not in a good way. 

Alexis giggled in response. Slowly, she cocked her head. “Do I have to teach you?” She questioned, stepping closer with half-lidded eyes. 

Without thinking, he stepped back. 

Again, Alexis giggled. “Oh, c’mon,” she teased, her voice mingling with the sounds of the crowd surrounding them both, “it’s not hard, at least… not yet , anyway.” 

Ethan felt his face go burn even hotter. 

 

“My, I just realised I forgot to ask you your name. What is it?” Despite Ethan’s obvious discomfort, Alexis pressed up against him anyway. “Or would you rather me call you handsome for the rest of the night?”

“Ethan.” Ethan managed to choke out, trying not to stare at Alexis swaying her hips against his front. 

“Ethan. Got it.” Alexis repeated, voice sweeter than honey. “Pretty name.” She let go of his hands, only to guide them down to hold her lower hips. “You can touch me wherever you like, Ethan.”

“Thanks Le– I mean, Alexis.”

 

If it was Lex instead of this random chick grinding on him, Ethan probably would’ve enjoyed it more.

But it wasn’t Lex.

Obviously. 

 

“Do you… do you think we can go somewhere else? It’s sorta crowded here.” Ethan murmured. Also I don’t want to pop one in the middle of a dance floor.

“Forward, aren’t you? I like it.” Alexis laughed. “But fine.” Taking his hand once more, she led him out of the dance floor and pushed him against a corner with surprising force. “Y’know, I find your shyness really attractive.” 

“Really?” Ethan could barely hear himself over the blood rushing in his ears. 

 

Instead of responding, she smirked, leaned forward, and kissed him.

 

He felt nothing.

No fireworks, no rush of warmth, not even a tiny spark. Just a pair of lips pressed against his. 

 

He didn’t even get a chance to close his eyes before she pulled away. 

 

“How about we continue this somewhere else?” Alexis suggested, wrapping her arms around his neck. 

“I dunno, it’s… been a while.” Ethan fumbled out, unsure where to put his arms.

Alexis tilted her head. “... Don’t tell me you’re a virgin.”

That got a blush out of him.  “What? No! No, no way. I’m not– I’m not that. I’m not a virg.”

Alexis looked unconvinced. “I can still lead, if you want. I don’t mind topping,” she wrapped a finger around one of Ethan’s curls and tugged at it, “if it’s for you, babe.”

“Uh...” Ethan averted his eyes. 

 

It’d certainly make things easier. I wouldn't have to do much. Plus it’d satisfy my touch-starved ass, and it’s not bad to have one night stands. 

But what if I moan her name? What if I imagine her instead of this random chick on top of me? Wouldn’t that make things awkward if she noticed?  

If she found out, would she be angry with me? 

Prolly yeah.

Though it’s not like we were together in the first place. 

Dammit. 

 

“...Ethan?” 

“Huh?”

“I said , whether you’re a virgin or not, I can rock your world tonight.” Alexis smirked. She leaned in to kiss him again, but he turned his head away, her lips landing on his cheek instead of his lips. 

“I-I can’t.” Ethan whispered. “ We can’t.”

Alexis’s eyes narrowed. “Why not?”

“I– uh– I feel nauseous. Had a lot to drink. And I-I don’t wanna throw up on you. Especially when doing, ya know, that.” Ethan scrambled for an excuse.

“Come on, E.” Alexis rolled her eyes. Ethan’s stomach twisted at the nickname. “You’re a shitty liar, ya know that?”

“So I’ve been told.” He mumbled. “Listen, Alexis, you’re real nice an’ all, but I don’t think we should do this.” 

She pouted. “What, do you not think I’m sexy or something?”

“Th-that’s not it at all! You– you are very attractive, Le– Alexis. I’m just… not in the mood tonight, ok?” Ethan sputtered. “Thanks but no thanks.”

Alexis blinked, clearly dumbfounded. By now, even her bird brain must have realized that she had been rejected. 

“You can’t reject me.” She said slowly. “You can’t. That’s not allowed.”

 

“Sorry.” Ethan glanced around the room desperately, when his gaze fell upon Deb, who had been staring at them in confusion for god knows how long. He mouthed Help me , and with a visible sigh and roll of her eyes, Deb sauntered over.

“Hey there, Ethan. Fancy seeing you here.” Deb put a hand on his shoulder. “Been meaning to talk to you. Have you finished your part of the group project yet?”

“Group project?” Ethan echoed with furrowed brows.

“Yeah, the group project we’re in math class together. Remember? ” Deb nudged him slightly.

Ohhh.

“Oh, uh, yeah. Our group project. No, not yet.” He recovered ungraciously. 

“Why don’t we talk about it together, away from the crowd, hmm?” With a tug, she broke Ethan away from Alexis’ embrace. “Alsohe’snotinterestedsofuckoffbye!” Deb added quickly before dragging him away to an upstairs room, slamming the door shut behind them.

 

“Dude. What the fuck.” Deb said once they were alone. “Why didn’t you just push her away? The hell were you doing?” 

“I don’t wanna put my hands on a girl!” Ethan argued with slightly slurred words. “Uh, without consent, I mean.”

“Well, little Miss Blondie back there obviously didn’t know what consent was, considering she kept going after you rejected her.” Deb crossed her arms over her chest. 

Ethan shifted uncomfortably. “...How much did you see?”

“Enough to know you needed a way out. I’ve never seen someone so obviously uncomfortable.” Deb scoffed. “Were you actually entertaining the idea of sleeping with her, or were you just not into her from the start?”

“Fuck, I don’t know.” Ethan pressed his palms to his eyes and sat down on the bed. “Physical contact woulda been nice, but… something held me back.”

 

Deb carefully sat next to him. “You still haven’t moved on, have you?”

“‘s not easy, Deb.” He mumbled.

“Not saying it is. Not blaming you for wanting to get with someone, either. You’re hurtin’. I get that.” Deb mediated. “Have you tried… I dunno, talking to Lex about all this? Can’t speak for her or anything, but she seems upset by all this. And oblivious, though that’s nothing new. I don’t think she knows she broke your heart, dude.” 

Ethan peeked one eye open. “...How do you know this is about Lex?”

Deb scoffed again. “Dude. Come on. Everyone and their fucking mom knows something happened between you two. Most don’t know what exactly happened, they just suspect a break up since everyone sorta assumed you two were already dating.” She rested her chin on her palm. “I only know what’s really up because of Ally. Oliver mentioned you were moping around, Lex had been acting wack, and you guys weren’t glued to each other’s sides like you usually were, so Alice put two and two together. Then she told me. No one else, though.” 

 

Ethan froze.

He looked up at Deb. “Oliver’s been gossiping about me?” His hands curled into fists. “I’ll kill him.”

“Woah, slow down there tiger. He wasn’t gossiping, and you’re not killing anyone, got it?” Deb retorted, at which Ethan gave a menacing growl – one that slipped from his throat before he could even try to stifle it.

“Yes, I will.”

“No, you won’t.” Deb paused. “Has it ever occurred to you that you have people who care about your dumb ass?” 

 

“Nope, it hasn’t. Is there a bathroom nearby? I think I’m gonna throw up.” Ethan clutched his stomach.

Deb sighed. “The bathroom’s down the hall, but there’s a wastebasket next to the bed–”

Before she could finish her sentence, Ethan was kneeling by the bed and doubled over, claws clutching the sides of the basket tightly, spewing yesterday’s breakfast into the plastic waste bag. 

 

“Jesus Christ, Ethan.” Deb turned away. “You have a ride home? Did you at least come here with someone?”

“I don’t even remember.” Ethan muttered, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “What’s it to you?”

Deb was quiet for a moment. “I’m driving you home.”

“What? No!”

“Uh, yeah. Dude, look at you.” Deb gestured at him with a click of her tongue. “You’re drunker than a skunk and you just vommed into a bedroom trash bin. You’re clearly not having fun and sorry but your vibes? They suck.” 

Ethan glanced up at that, his expression portraying the genuine hurt he felt. “ Ow .” 

 

“Just tellin’ the truth,” Deb said with a shrug. “Is there anyone at your home right now?”

“Who fucking cares.” Ethan groaned, before sticking his head back in the trash bin for puke sesh #2. 

“So you don’t eat shit and die. Again.” Deb shook her head. “Dumbass.”

 

“I just couldn’t betray her like that.” Ethan’s voice was barely above a harsh whisper. “I can’t sleep with another girl. I’d– I’d be betraying her. I can’t just do that.”

Deb hummed. “So even though you weren’t dating her, you’re still loyal to her?”

“Mmhmm.”

“Interesting.” Abruptly Deb stood up. “I’m getting you a glass of water. Be right back. Try not to get puke on the floor, k?”

“Will do.” Ethan groaned.

 

Fuck, this fucking sucks.

What would Lex say if she saw me like this? Alone, drunk, puking in a random guy’s bedroom? 

She’d be disappointed. 

...But not mad.

She’d call me an idiot, but fondly, like she always does. Try to help me up and pat my back while I barfed.

 

Something warm and wet slid down his cheeks.

 

Ah.

I’m still in L-word with her, aren’t I?

Shit. Son of a bitch. 

 

Ethan wiped at his eyes frantically. 

 

Can’t let Deb see me like this. That’d be awkward.

 

“Hey Ethan, I brought you some water.”

 

Speak of the devil. 

 

Forcing himself to take a deep, shuddering breath in, he tried to shoot Deb a grateful smile despite the fact that he could barely bring himself to lift his head, and despite the fact that when he did manage to get his neck to move, something in his spine popped with a loud noise that made him flinch.

For a few seconds, he and Deb just looked at each other. 

“Wow, you look like shit.” Deb handed him the glass of water. 

“Thanks Deb. ‘ppreciate it.” Ethan replied dryly. The water was cold and soothing to his sore throat, yet he coughed anyways. 

 

“You think you’re done vomiting?” Deb asked. “If you are, then my car’s parked outside. I don’t want you to barf in my car, though.” 

“I think ‘m done." Ethan drained the rest of the water and wiped his mouth again. “Still feel awful.”

“I can tell. C’mon, up you go.” Deb helped him to his feet, and let him lean on her shoulder. “Better barf in a bucket than on a girl, right?” 

“Uh-huh.”  

The world was a blur as Deb helped him shuffle to her car. “You live in that weird-ass mansion at the edge of town, right?” Ethan nodded at Deb’s question. “Thought so. I had to pick Alice up there once, so I know where it is.” 

 

“One last question.” Deb glanced at Ethan as she started up the car. “Are you like… angry at Lex?” 

Ethan looked up. “...No. More angry at myself.” 

“Oh yeah? How so?”

“Mostly cuz I thought I had a chance. It was fucking stupid of me.” Ethan averted his eyes and pressed his cheek against the cool glass of the car window. “I overan– over-anna– over-luh– I read into it too much. Guess I mistook her being friendly for flirting.” He shrugged. “I was so full of hope and wanted her to like me back so bad that I must’ve created fake signs or some shit.”

“No dude, she was definitely flirting with you.” Deb tutted. “Like I said before, a lot of people assumed you guys were already dating. Honestly, it’s more surprising that you weren’t together. I mean… shit, you guys hang out and cuddle a lot for two platonic friends.” 

Ethan went red. “We didn’t cuddle. We just… sat close together.”

“You gave her your jacket though.” Deb pointed out. “Ain’t that special to you?”

“She said it keeps her warm. ‘n since she’s a vamp she’s cold all the time, so I let her wear it.” He explained with another shrug, his voice lowering. “...And she looks nice in it.” 

“Oh yeah, he definitely has a thing for her in it.” Deb muttered to herself. “It’s not even cold out anymore. He just gives it to her cuz he thinks she looks hot in leather.” She cleared her throat and returned to normal volume. “E, I’m sure this is just a temporary phase. This little squabble between you guys won’t last forever. One day you’ll be back to being friends or have make-up sex or whatever, and it’ll be fine.” 

Ethan balked, his face turning an even deeper shade of red. “Wha– no! No, that’s not– that would never– that’s not gonna happen! If she won’t even kiss me, why the hell would we have sex?” 

“I dunno. Shit happens like that in movies, right?” Deb waved her hand. “Well, this isn’t a movie but still. It’s not out of the realm of possibility–”

“Shut up, Deb.” Ethan snapped.

Deb raised her hands in defense. “Ok, ok, I’ll stop. Damn.” 

 

The rest of the drive was in silence, which Ethan was perfectly fine with, thank you very much. He still had a bitch of a headache, as one who was still fucking drunk and had just barfed 3 times would usually have. He had moved from the ‘I’m sad and apathetic’ phase of being an emotional drunk, and now was firmly in the ‘I am irritated at everything that so much as looks at me funny’ phase.

Sure would be a shame if something or someone would aggravate him. 

 

“Right, we’re here.” Deb parked the car. “Think you can walk there by yourself?”

“Yeah.”

“You got your key or some way to get in?”

“Yeah.”

“Try not to stay up too much, k E? Go to sleep soon. You fucking need it.” Deb said, watching Ethan unlock the door and shuffle away with furrowed eyebrows. “But don’t choke on vomit in your sleep. That’s grody.”

“Fuck off.” Ethan mumbled, unlocking the iron gate with shaky hands. “I do what I want.”

“Well fuck me for caring, I guess.” Deb grumbled. “My apologies– choke on your own puke and die. See if I care.”

 

Even though there was clearly a joking undertone in it, Ethan couldn’t even muster a fake smile in response, instead, ducking his head and clenching his jaw– a jaw with noticeably sharper teeth jutting out of it– shit.

Was it a full moon? 

Had he really been that hung up over Lex that he’d completely lost track of it? Sluggishly forcing himself to look upward despite the fact that his brain felt like liquid– sloshing around in his skull at even the slightest movement– Ethan blearily scanned the sky before his eyes halfway settled on a small, crescent shape high above him, surrounded by a smattering of stars that seemed to flicker and almost dance around it.

Or maybe he was just drunk.

Probably the latter.

 

Drunk and stumbling, probably– his feet moving without instruction as he finally seemed to kick into autopilot, slogging his way up the front steps without even tripping a little before he all but fell against the front door. 

Shit, knob…

Fumbling– one hand on the handle and one hand digging into his pocket for his keys– Ethan managed by some miracle to fit the key into the lock (only missing once in his endeavour) and turned it. 

 

He didn’t bother announcing that he was home. 

He let the sound of the door slamming shut behind him carry the message, kicking his boots off and sighing, ignoring the way his world swam before his eyes, blurring in places– probably from the cheap booze, though…

 

Something warm dripped down his face. 

Fuck.

 

Raising a hand to swat at his eyes, pointedly ignoring the feeling of claws pushing through his fingertips– something Oliver had said about emotion induced transformations ringing through the back of his mind as he did– he lowered his head and exhaled in a steady stream. 

He was fine.

He’d been out partying, fuck’s sake– what was there to cry about? 

A pretty girl had kissed him, he’d gotten completely smashed, sure, he’d thrown up in a trash can– but where were the highs without the lows, right?

... where were the highs?

There had to have been some good things that had happened. 

 

God. Maybe I should’ve slept with that chick. The fuck was I thinking.  

That could’ve been a fucking high, maybe , though if he’d done it… he had a feeling the guilt would’ve been worse, which was stupid, because he didn’t have anything to be guilty over– he and Lex hadn’t even gone anywhere, it wasn’t like he was cheating on a girl who’d never loved him to begin with. 

Just thinking that made his stomach churn again, even though there was nothing left in his stomach to throw up.

 

She never loved me.

It was true. 

They’d been friends. 

Just friends– and he’d been fine with that. What had changed? 

When did he start seeing her as more than a friend?

And why did he expect her to feel the same way? 

So fucking selfish. 

That was what he was. He was just too caught up in things that hadn’t happened– things that never would’ve happened. 

 

Fuck!” Ethan barked, slamming his fist against the nearest wall. It cracked under his weight, but he didn’t hear it over his heart beating wildly in his ears.

“Fuck…” He pressed his head against the cracked wall, unable to stop the tears from sliding down his face.

 


 

BAM!

 

Oliver shot up in bed at the loud thump.

 

Oh. Ethan’s home.

Just as I was about to fall asleep too. Dammit.

 

Sighing, Oliver put on his glasses from his bedside table and dragged himself out of bed.

 

Fingers crossed he didn’t barf on my books. Again. 

 

Oliver found Ethan downstairs, head leaning against a cracked wall and obviously crying.

“Uncle Henry will get really mad if you keep destroying walls.”

 

Ethan looked up. His face fell, then hardened. 

“Shut the fuck up Ollie.” He wiped at his eyes, trying to hide the tears. “Fuck off and let me be.”

 

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how drunk are you?” Oliver crossed his arms over his chest.

“Fuck you.”

“1 to 10.”

“...7.”

“That low?”

“Vommed a lot n got some water. Not like it’s any of your fucking concern.” 

“As a matter of fact, it is my fucking concern. I live with you. Plus if you keel over, I’ll get in trouble.” Oliver softened his words at the end teasingly, but it didn’t put Ethan at ease. In fact, it only seemed to piss him off even more.

“How is it that you’re so self-centered that you make my pain all about you, huh?” Ethan took a menacing step forward. Oliver immediately stepped backward. “‘Ooh, I’ll get in trouble~’ Boo fucking hoo.” Ethan affected Oliver’s signature nasal voice, followed by a scoff. “So fuckin’ what if I keel over? I do what I want.”

“So sorry I don’t want you to ruin your life.” Oliver shot back with a scowl.

“It’s my goddamn life to ruin, not yours! Piss off!” Ethan jammed a trembling finger at Oliver’s scrunched-up face. 

 

Despite the threats, Oliver continued. “Listen Ethan, you're not yourself! You're freaking me out and you're freaking other people out. I know you’ve been ignoring Lex but really, you should really tell her what's on your mind– hell, I'll tell her if you won't–"

"Don't you dare!" Ethan's lips pulled back in a snarl. "Tell Lex and I'll– I'll use your toad as fucking chewing gum and– and te- tear our yer throat!"

Oliver shivered but held his ground. "No! Are you listening to yourself, you can barely speak!" He insisted. "If you won't reach out to Lex, then I will–" 

 

It happened in an instant.

 

One moment, Ethan was on his feet. The next, he was on top of Oliver's chest, his new paws digging into the boy's shirt. 

 

Ethan growled, low and deep and rumbly. 

Oliver didn't need to know Wolf to understand what that meant.

 

'Don't you fucking dare. Or I’ll kill you.'

 

"E-Eth—" Oliver could barely breathe. Oh god, oh fuck, this was just like Ethan's first transformation all over again– though this was almost worse . Last time, it had been Ethan , more or less– frightened and confused and more than a little terrifying, but this? 

 

His throat tied in a knot. 

His head throbbed– probably from cracking against the ground so hard– but other than that, he wasn’t in any real pain. 

 

Not yet.

 

"Stop it! I won't do it, ok?" The pressure on Oliver's chest increased. "I won't tell Lex about this! I swear! Pinky promise! I–" His glasses slid off his nose. Without thinking he lifted his arm in an attempt to fix them.

 

Ethan didn't like that.

 

He snapped his jaws and gnashed his teeth inches from Oliver's face, his growl only increasing in volume. Oliver let out a shrill scream.

"Uncle Henry! Henry!" He yelled, with no reply.

 

Fuck, that's right, he's out at a meeting for the professors at his college.

 

Oliver was alone in the house.

With a 200-pound wolf pinning him to the ground.

No one around to help for miles.

 

Oh, shit. 

 

Frantic, unable to do so much as draw breath thanks to Ethan’s weight on his chest, Oliver desperately wriggled under his paws, though that only seemed to urge the beast on– the sound of growling growing louder to a point where Oliver could feel it buzzing in his chest like a bass amp at a concert, rumbling, causing his head to fill with fuzz as Ethan’s furred muzzle drew closer. 

The wolf’s lips were pulled back in a wicked snarl , showing off a dizzying array of teeth and a thick strand of saliva beginning to drip from between them– one that ended up splattering across his glasses, not that it mattered, seeing as Ethan’s hot breath had already fogged up the lenses, leaving him practically fucking blind. 

 

“Ethan, I’m sorry! Go away!” Oliver squeaked. He raised his arm over his face, praying that it would save his poor face if he actually did get attacked, and squeezed his eyes shut.

 

He got his wish.

 

A sharp pain in his forearm made him yelp.

 

Something warm dribbled onto his cheek.

 

He opened his eyes.

Though his foggy lenses made it difficult to properly see, Oliver could barely see– and definitely feel– one long wolf claw embedded in his forearm, the sharp object digging into and threatening to rip his stringy muscles, the blood from the wound oozing down his arm and spilling onto his sweaty face. 

 

Good God.

This isn’t like last time.

Last time he pounced but didn’t actually hurt me, but now…

 

A drop of blood dripped onto his glasses, mixing with the wolf’s disgusting drool on the lens.

 

This time, I’m so, so fucked.

 

Chapter Text

I’m so fucking dead.

 

“Ethan… Ethan please, p-please get off.” Oliver begged quietly. “You’re fucking hurting me.” 

No such luck. 

The wolf’s eyes glinted dangerously as Oliver stared up at him, heart racing and chest far too tight to force oxygen in, though he tried anyway, his breath whistling in his throat. 

Ethan snarled in response, his paw pressing harder against his arm, that wicked claw sinking deeper and deeper into his flesh like a hot knife through butter and forcing a full shriek of pain from Oliver’s throat. He could actually feel the skin tearing away alongside the warm feeling of blood dribbling down his arm and onto the fabric of his shirt. 

 

It’s gonna stain.

 

Not that it would matter , what, if Ethan was going to fucking eat him.

The werewolf looked nothing short of feral , and as drool dripped from its jaws, its upper lip curled back in a wicked expression of anger , showing off its pointed teeth.

Oliver’s breaths shortened further.

Would he—

No. No, he couldn’t— he wouldn’t bite him, no matter how far gone he was. Ethan wasn’t like that. Ethan wouldn’t. He wouldn’t.

But the slavering wolf pinning him to the floor would. 

 

Fuck.

 

“E-Ethan,” he tried again, softly, putting on the tone of voice one might use with a caged animal, “Ethan, I know things r-really suck right now, a-and that’s shitty , b-but you can’t—”

The wolf’s other paw— the one on his chest— pressed down to a point where Oliver was certain his ribs would crack, causing his words to churn into a choking gag. His free hand flailed weakly at his side, trying to reach anything to defend himself with, though there was absolutely nothing on the floor with him. Nothing within reach anyway— turning his head in an attempt to better see the room he was confined to— fuck. 

 

FUCK.

 

He couldn’t even get his phone — the thing jammed in his back pocket, definitely out of his reach, what, with an enormous, angry wolf boring down on him. 

 

Is this how I die?

 

Ethan’s paw pushed tighter against him. 

His vision was starting to blur.

 

No. 

Not like this, PLEASE not like this.

 

He’d found plenty of articles on werewolves that’d snap, sure— weres that’d go after family under the light of the moon, but the moon wasn’t fucking full , which meant…

Oliver’s weak body shuddered. 

...which means he’s doing this because he wants to. 

I have to get out. 

 

Mentally, Oliver went through the list of spells he knew.

 

Dammit, I don’t think hexes that work on humans work on wolves… I can’t even reach my wand anyways.

I have to use something else.

 

Oliver took a deep breath, and prayed when he was about to do next wouldn’t horrifically backfire on him. 

 

POW!

 

Ethan let out a yip of pain as Oliver’s fist collided with his eye. He reeled back and fell to the side, off of Oliver, and almost immediately reverted back to his now unconscious human form. A bruise was already starting to form around his left eye.

 

Oliver sat up. “That’s it? That was enough to knock him out? A single punch to the eye?” He whispered to himself. “Seriously?” 

He waited a few seconds. Ethan didn’t stir.

His chest rose and fell, and he certainly wasn’t dead or anything, but his eyes stayed firmly closed even as Oliver’s breathing picked up in speed, his breath whistling in his throat. 

 

Shakily, Oliver got to his feet. His breathing was still fast and his glasses were messy, but he had bigger problems to worry about. Namely, his unconscious cousin and his fucking arm. 

“Shit, where’s my damn wand.” Oliver fumbled around in his pockets before pulling out his trusty birchwood wand. He technically didn’t always need a wand, but it made him feel more official, and helped his spells be more concentrated. 

“I’m not dragging you upstairs like last time so… here we go.” Oliver murmured a spell under his breath, waved his wand, and then Ethan began to slowly but steadily rise until his body was nearly a foot in the air. His arms hung limply at his sides like cooked spaghetti, weakly wobbling as he began to awkwardly drift toward the stairs. It looked almost like he was rigged up with some shitty animation program and set to ragdoll

 

It was almost comical. 

Almost , seeing as he was unnaturally limp— almost dead looking, save for the soft rising and falling of his chest. 

 

Okay.

It’s just like tetris. 

You’re good at tetris. 

 

It was a lie and he knew it— he fucking sucked at tetris— but it was one that kept him from panicking as he lifted his hand, slowly, moving the tip of the wand to guide Ethan’s damn near lifeless body through the hallway, toward the stairs, which went relatively smoothly. The only real issue was the fact that Oliver’s hand was shaking, which, in turn, caused the wand to shake. 

Which caused Ethan to shake by extension. 

His cousin’s body twitched as he maneuvered him as well as he could up the first few steps, slowly at first, but picking up speed as Oliver’s shaking worsened to a point where he wobbled in midair. 

 

Breathe. 

If he wakes up bruised, he’ll be extra upset…

 

At the thought, Oliver’s gaze tracked to the shiner he’d left his cousin, a knot of guilt forming in his throat. He really hadn’t hit him all that hard… maybe werewolves were more sensitive to attacks or something while inebriated? 

Mentally, he added it to the list of things he had to research before straightening out, bracing both hands against his want to keep it steady, and lifting it. 

 

Thump.

Ethan’s head connected with the wall. Not hard, but hard enough to make Oliver wince and immediately flip his wrist to try correcting it. 

Thud. 

“Oh, fuck —” 

Thwump. 

“God DAMN IT—”

THWACK. 

 

The spell held, barely stopping Ethan from tumbling down the few stairs that Oliver had managed to guide him up, though his legs both flopped downward, his heels connecting with the stairs at a speed that would definitely leave him bruised in the morning. 

For a few seconds, Oliver debated leaving him where he was— sprawled out like a misshapen tetris piece on the stairs- before sighing and lifting his wand once more. 

If Ethan remembered what happened in the morning, he’d definitely kick Oliver’s ass. 

 


 

By the time Oliver got Ethan up the stairs and tucked into bed, he was fucking exhausted. His arm wound had stopped actively bleeding but still hurt like a bitch. He’d been avoiding looking at it. 

But he couldn’t ignore it forever. Exhaling, he forced himself to look at his arm. He winced. The wound was deep, long, and jagged, dried blood caking around the scratches. He gently touched it, and immediately inhaled sharply through his teeth in pain. 

 

“Ok, Oliver. You know healing magic. Healing scratches should be easy. You got this.” He whispered to himself. 

His hand trembled as he murmured a spell under his breath, and waved his hand over his wounded arms.

 

The pain, fortunately, receded.

The wound, unfortunately, stayed.

 

“Shit. What the hell??” Oliver’s eyebrows furrowed. “Why the hell isn’t it working?” He tried again. Still nothing. The blood faded but the actual tear wound remained. “Fuck, did I really have to run out of magic now? Lemme try one more ti–”

 

Click. Thud.

 

Oh fuck, is that Henry?

 

Quickly, Oliver hid his wounded arm behind his back.

 

Speak of the goddamn Devil. Henry strode into the living room, clearly exhausted. He froze upon seeing Oliver. “Oh, Oliver. You’re still awake.” He frowned. “Is everything alright?” 

Oliver’s jaw set, and he shook his head. “Henry, we need to talk.” 

Henry’s face fell. “About what?”

“We need to talk about Ethan.” 

“Ah.” Henry swallowed heavily. “It’s quite late, perhaps we can wait until morning–”

“No. No more waiting.” Oliver cut him off. “We’ve avoided this long enough.” He shot him an icy glare. “And by we I mean you.” 

“Fine, fine.” Henry sighed, sitting on the couch. “What are your concerns?”

 

“I don’t know how much you’ve noticed, but Ethan is pretty fucked up right now.” Oliver started. “He’s doing a lot of dangerous shit, he isn’t sleeping or eating, and he swings back and forth between depressed, angry and pure numbness. It’s distressing to watch.”

Henry tilted his head. “Do you have a hypothesis on why he’s acting this way?”

“Sure do. You know Lex, that girl Ethan talks about a lot?”

“Of course.” Henry nodded. “He spent most of his time with her. And was quite obviously in love with her.” 

“Yeah well, she broke his heart. Bad. From what I could gather, she pulled him in for a kiss, stopped at the last moment, left him alone then told him that they should pretend like that never happened. He… didn’t take it well, to say the least.” Oliver explained. “Weirdly enough, she doesn’t seem to realize she broke his heart. She keeps trying to contact him but he pushes her away. He won’t even speak to her.”

Henry cringed. “Ooh, how unfortunate.”

 

“No kidding. And now he’s– now he’s totally fucked up. He cries all the time, he goes to parties every night, he’s either drunk or high constantly– hell, the other day I even saw him with white powder on his nose!” Oliver listed. 

“Hmm. Do you think he does injectable drugs? Because that’s serious. But it’s fairly normal for teenagers to party. Heaven knows I went a little wild in my 20s.” Henry waved his hand.

Oliver pinched the bridge of his nose. “Ok, but that was when you were in your 20s and in college and on your own. Ethan isn’t in his 20s, he’s in high school, and he’s supposed to be under your care!” He jabbed a finger at Henry. “ Please , Henry!” His voice cracked. “He’s your nephew too. And if he keeps going like this, he might d-die or some shit. You don’t want that, do you?”

Henry’s face crumpled. “No… no, of course not.” 

“Then fucking do something! ” Oliver’s volume spiked. He didn’t mean it, of course, but it wasn’t something he could hold back. He had been watching Ethan do all but kill himself for god knew how long, and he knew damn well Henry had seen it too, yet his uncle had gone ahead and turned a blind eye for his own sake. 

 

Did you think this would just blow over?

Did you really think that he’d just get better?

 

Setting his jaw and breathing slowly to keep the words from escaping his throat, Oliver balled his hands into fists, bunching up his pantlegs at the knees. “...because I don’t want…”

His grip tightened. 

His slim shoulders quivered.

His gaze dropped to his lap. 

“...I don’t want to see him hurt,” he admitted, quietly, “and he’s been hurting awhile . It’s bad, Henry. Like, really bad. This whole thing with Lex is fucking him up, a-and you’re just watching!” 

“I don’t know what to do! You think I’ve done this shit before? I’ve been winging this whole guardianship thing this whole time! And besides, haven’t you tried to talk to him before? If he won’t listen to you, why would he listen to me?” Henry argued. 

A scoff wound up in Oliver’s throat. “Why– you’re a fucking adult! You’re not his nerdy cousin, you’re his uncle! You’re over 3x his age! And while I don’t know the ins and out of your relationship, I’d assume he has at least a little respect for you.” His eyes narrowed. “Or are you fine losing someone you care for? You’d still have one nephew left. No skin off your back, yeah?” 

Henry’s expression darkened. “I have already lost more than you can imagine. I’d thank you to not joke about that shit.” 

“Well if you don’t intervene or at least do something other than occasionally looking at him, you might lose another thing.” Oliver retorted. He didn’t exactly know what the hell Henry was talking about, but now was not the time to ask. “Do you want that?”

Henry’s voice came out in a growl . “ Of course not!”

Oliver matched his volume. “Then ACT LIKE IT!” 

“Are you sure you’re not overexaggerating–”

 

Fuck it. 

 

Oliver shoved his scarred arm into Henry’s face. Henry stopped.

 

“...What is that?”

“You’re a scientist. Take a guess.” 

Henry’s back straightened. “...Looks like claw marks to me.” 

“Bingo. And guess who did this?”

 

Henry was quiet.

 

“Dark curly hair, shitty fashion sense, wears one earring in his left ear, makes bad decisions? Sound familiar?” Oliver was trembling, though not from fear.

“I really don’t appreciate the sass you’re giving me, young man.” Henry narrowed his eyes.

“I really don’t appreciate you ignoring your nephew’s suffering.” Oliver snapped back.

 

Silence.

 

Henry’s nostrils flared, and when he narrowed his eyes, Oliver mirrored his fighting stance. 

 

“You think it’s gonna get better,” he finally spoke, raising his chin and squaring his shoulders. “But it’s not - not unless you fucking help him-"

“He’ll get over it!” Henry interrupted, swinging his arms out in a broad gesture. “He’s just…” Trailing off, he grabbed a handful of his hair and exhaled sharply through his nose. “I don’t know, he’s sad because someone doesn’t like him the way he thought she would. I’ve been through breakups-”

“This wasn’t a breakup,” Oliver cut in. “They weren’t even together, and she’s just icing him out like-”

“Then he’s got no reason to be this upset.” A smug undertone had worked its way into Henry’s voice- a look that seemed close to relief washing over his face to Oliver’s dismay. “He’ll be over it in the next week, I… I’m sure of it. He’s got no reason not to be.” 

 

Really?

Because you don’t sound sure of it.

 

It took all of Oliver’s self control to keep from spitting the words at Henry. He wanted to-- he wanted to chew him the fuck out for letting things get this bad despite knowing, deep down, that nobody but Ethan was to blame for this, but even then… it wasn’t his fault he got attached easy. It was another werewolf thing that Oliver had read about-- pack connections or whatever, and while Lex wasn’t part of their family, she was clearly important to him. 

Important enough that he was destroying himself without her, in the very least. 

Important enough that if Oliver even mentioned moving on from her as a possibility, he’d flash his teeth and raise his hackles and growl in a way that would send Oliver running for the nearest exit before the sound of muffled, too-quick breathing would sound from his bedroom. 

 

Oliver saw all of that. 

All the broken pieces- the mess that had once been an almost tolerable person- but Henry… didn’t.

 

God, just looking at his eyes proved that he had no clue what his nephew was going through- the calculatedness of his gaze, the soft crease of his brow, the way his shoulders had stiffened. 

“He’ll be right as rain in the next few days,” Henry reiterated, firmly. “I’m certain.”

 

He was dead fucking wrong, of course.

 

Over the next few days, Ethan spiraled worse and worse. 

 

He virtually cut off all contact with Lex. He cried harder and partied harder. Even to the casual onlooker, his breakdown was all too apparent. Any light or happiness in his eyes had gone out like a shitty shattered lightbulb. 

One night, he even stumbled home from a party at 3 AM with white powder dusting nostrils, though he refused to say what it was and locked himself upstairs damn near instantly upon getting back home. 

 

He told himself, over and over, that Lex didn’t want me.

Even though he couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Lex did want him, but he couldn’t see that through the tears. 

Not that he was looking too hard. 

 

Instead he trudged through his life, eyes firmly fixed to the ground, rather than the world around him. 

He pushed away all his friends– though there weren’t many in the first place– but he couldn’t avoid the ire of others. 

 

“Hey, Greased Lightning!”

 

Ethan stiffened, his hands pausing fiddling with his gym locker. It was the end of gym class, and he had been trying his damn best not to draw any attention to himself and his diminished physique. No such luck, apparently. Hesitantly he turned around, and his heart sunk.

Behind him was an unfortunately familiar face. Spotless polo shirt, tan slacks, blonde hair and a smarmy expression.

 

“Fuck do you want, Jonathan?” Ethan snapped, spitting his name out like it was poison.

“Where’s your drain girlfriend?” Jonathan sneered. “You usually follow that one penniless biter around like a dog, but word around town said you haven’t been seen with her recently. Something happen?”

“Don’t fucking call her that.” Ethan snarled through gritted teeth. “Racist piece of shit.” 

Jonathan ignored him. “Usually dropping a vamp girlfriend would be an upgrade in status since dating outside your species obviously drags you down, but you already were pretty low on the social totem pole, so it doesn’t matter much does it? Now you’re just alone and–”

 

He didn’t finish his sentence. In a burst of rage, Ethan grabbed Jonathan’s popped collar in clawed fists and slammed him against a locker with a BANG! , so hard Jonathan’s head cracked against the metal and he let out a pained whimper.

 

“Don’t you fucking dare say that shit, you fucking bastard.” Ethan growled. He was aware nearly everyone in the locker room was looking at them, but he didn’t give a shit. “Do you actually hear the actual ass that comes out of your mouth, or are your ears clogged with bullshit as well?” 

“How dare you say that to me!” Jonathan scoffed. “Stupid dirty biter fucker–”

 

WHAM!

 

Jonathan’s head snapped back as Ethan’s hard clenched fist slammed into his jaw with brutal strength. Jonathan made a choked yelp of pain and surprise, accidentally biting down on his tongue and causing blood to dribble from his mouth. 

Someone else in the room made a supportive whoop, but Ethan paid it no mind. He could barely hear it over the rush of blood roaring in his ears. His vision was tinged red. His breathing was shallow and quick. He hadn’t punched someone in quite a while, but goddamn did it feel good. He fucking deserved it.

 

“F… fuck you.” Jonathan gurgled, forcing himself to look straight at Ethan, then spat blood onto his cheek.

Ethan wiped the blood off with the back of his hand, his lip curling up in disgust. “What is with you and spitting? Fucking weirdo.”

“You deserve it.” Jonathan shot back. “You deserve to be pushed into a landfill and rot.”

 

“I’ve sent guys stronger than you to the fucking hospital for saying stupid shit. What makes you different? Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t break your fucking nose right now.” Ethan narrowed his eyes, voice quiet but full of rage. 

Jonathan gulped. His eyes— wide with fear in a way that made some small part of Ethan feel almost satisfied— darted from the hand keeping his collar pinned to the wall, then to Ethan’s bloodied face, before settling on his furious eyes.

“I—“ He started, voice cracking as Ethan tightened his grip. His claws began to dig into the other boy’s shirt, curling in deep— deep enough that their tips threatened to break skin.

He almost let them.

He wanted to let them. The smell of blood was making his nose twitch, his nostrils flaring as he adjusted his grip, slamming Jonathan against the wall again for good measure and earning himself a startled yelp in response. 

 

“You?” He prompted, his voice coming out in a thick growl. “C’mon, you were so talkative a second ago— the fuck changed?” 

When Jonathan tried to speak, more blood dripped from his mouth and onto his shirt, staining it. 

“Fucker… this shirt cost $150.” Jonathan grunted.

“I think you should be less concerned about your fancy shirt and more concerned about which eye I’m going to punch in.” Ethan retorted. “Fucking rich bitch.” 

 

“Least I’m not dating a poor whore.” 

 

Oh, that’s fucking it.

 

With a snarl, Ethan reared back, ready to turn Jonathan into his personal punching bag when– 

 

“Ethan!”

 

Someone grabbed his arm.

Ethan looked back. 

There was Tom, holding onto his arm tightly, face scrunched up in concern. A frightened-looking Oliver stood by his side. Fucker probably snitched once he saw the fight. 

 

“Mr. Houston…” Suddenly Ethan’s throat felt dry. His grip on Jonathan’s collar loosened, but he didn’t fully put down his hand. 

 

“Uh– yes, Mr. Houston, this degenerate attacked me!” Jonathan squeaked, immediately going into victim mode. “I expressed my opinion on some things– which I have the right to do– and suddenly he slammed me against the wall and hit me!”

“Quit the brownnoser bullshit, Jonathan. You called her fucking slurs. That’s not ‘expressing your opinion’, that’s hate speech, you dumb fuck.” Ethan snapped. “And in case you didn’t notice, literally no one stopped me when I socked you, rightfully fucking so. That’s ‘cuz no one really gives a shit about your racist ass or your shitty designer t-shirt.”

“Ethan, cool it.” Tom warned. 

“K, but no one stopped me when I said those things. That’s ‘cuz no one really gives a shit about your shitty vamp girl or you, for that matter.” Jonathan snapped back. 

Tom’s jaw twitched. “Jonathan, knock it off.” 

“Yeah, because you’ve got everyone in your pocket. ‘pparently I’m the only one here that actually has the fucking balls to stand up to you. Goddamn cowards.” Ethan cast a resentful glance around the room at the rest of the teens in the locker room, who suddenly seemed very interested in the floor.

 

“Maybe.” Jonathan lowered his voice. “But you’re still the one who hit first. So I look like the victim. Plus Dad will make sure I don’t get in trouble. I’m untouchable.”

 

Wait, I still have my fist around his collar. And if I can’t use my other hand... 

 

With as much force as he could muster, Ethan jammed his fist directly up, clocking Jonathan hard in the chin and cracking his head on the metal lockers. He yelped, more blood spurting from his mouth as his teeth ripped into his lip, and crumpled, clearly stunned. 

 

‘Untouchable’, my ass. Serves him right. 

 

“Alright, that’s enough!” Tom gave a mighty tug and pulled a fuming Ethan away from the dazed rich bitch slumped against the lockers. “Ethan, you’re coming with me. And for God’s sake, someone get this damn kid a tissue. Just because Coach Timms isn’t here doesn’t mean you can get the lockers all dirty.” Tom glared at the kids, who meekly nodded. 

 

Tom marched Ethan out of the locker room and through the hallways. 

 

“I don’t care whether you give me detention or suspend me or whatever the fuck. I’m not apologising.” Ethan said, not even looking at Tom. “Fucker deserved it, Mr. Houston.” 

Tom sighed. “Certainly seemed like a smarmy kid. Here.” They stopped next to a water fountain. “Drink something. It’ll make you feel better.” 

“Uh, thanks.” Ethan complied. The water felt good in his parched throat. 

“Technically I’m supposed to take you directly to the principal, but I wanna talk in my room first. And no bolting this time, k?” Tom crossed his arms over his chest. 

Ethan rolled his eyes but nodded.

 

Better Tom than any other teacher. At least he’s semi reasonable. 

 

When they arrived at Tom’s classroom, Tom gestured to a chair. “Sit.” Ethan sat down while Tom remained standing. “Now, why did you punch Jonathan?”

 

Ethan clenched his teeth. “He was being an asshole. Insulting me. Calling Lex bad shit. I couldn’t just stand by.”

“Bad shit? Like what?” Tom arched an eyebrow. 

“He called her,” Ethan swallowed, trying to force the poisonous words out. “He called her vampire slurs. Biter, drain, that sorta shit. Called her a poor–” He coughed and looked away, “poor wh-whore, which isn’t even remotely true. I mean, she’s not Jonathan level rich, but she ain’t completely broke. And that other part– just no. I don’t– I don’t remember her even mentioning any other guys. Or girls.” 

 

Tom tilted his head. “I thought you guys were dating?”

Ethan groaned and covered his eyes. “No. We never were. And it was fucking stupid of me to think I ever had a chance.” 

Tom patted his back awkwardly. “That’s ah, that’s rough buddy.” 

Despite everything, Ethan choked on a laugh at the shitty reassurance. “Sure fuckin’ is.”

 

“Has Jonathan done this kind of sh– crap before?” Tom asked. 

“Oh, yeah. Not just to Lex or me, but to other supernaturals too. His parents are rich so he gets away with it. School flips out when someone skips class or smokes weed but when this fucker goes around spittin slurs, the school’s like,” Ethan made an exaggerated shrug and effected a high, annoying voice, “‘Well they’re just words! Might be mean, but he’s not hurting anyone!’” He rolled his eyes. “Bullshit.” 

“Well, skipping school or smoking weed is against school rules too… uh, but I see your point.” Tom stopped his lecture at the look Ethan gave him. “Does he know you’re a werewolf?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so. If he did, he’d prolly use that against me. Call me a dog or some shit.” Ethan’s knee jiggled badly in his chair. “Christ, I need a cigarette.”

 

Tom frowned. “Smoking’s bad, you know.”

“I’m 18. Last time I checked, smoking age here’s 18. It’s legal.” Ethan retorted. “You can say smoking’s bad all you want but I ain’t breaking the law by doing it.” 

“Right, right. Well don’t do it in the building. That’s breaking the law.” Tom sighed. “Though I know kids do it anyway.” 

“Good you’re aware.” Ethan snipped. “Kids ain’t the only ones, though. Mr. Kelby practically breathes cigarettes.” 

“Yes, I know. Ms. Murphy has asthma, so she tries to stay as far away from him as possible. It makes teacher conferences quite irritating.” Said Tom rather flatly. 

 

He crossed his arms over his chest. “Well, as much as I like you, I’m still going to have to turn you into the principal. Sorry, kid.” 

Ethan scoffed. “Figures.” 

 

“But uh… if you need to talk about more personal stuff, I’m here for you buddy. I know you’re going through a tough time so if you wanna talk, just stay after class.” Tom offered. “People care about you, you know.”

 

No they don’t. 

Right? 

 

“Uh-huh.” Ethan muttered. “...Thanks.”

 

“No problem. C’mon, let’s go to the office.” 

 


 

Ethan, surprisingly, only got 2 weeks of detention after Tom argued on behalf of him, insisting that Ethan only reacted out of being antagonized, and that Jonathan should get in trouble for his bullying as well.

(Of course, he’d only get off with a slap on the wrist, but it’s the thought that counts.)

 

As soon as he got home from detention, Ethan unceremoniously flopped onto the couch. 

 

He couldn’t stop thinking about Tom’s words.

 

“People care about you, you know.”

Sure, Tom. I push away everyone so I can’t get hurt again. I wouldn’t be surprised if they all hate me now. 

...Right? 

Fuck this. I need a drink. 

 

Sighing, he sauntered downstairs to the wine cellar- or more like Henry’s personal liquor store, to be honest. Whistling a tune under his breath, he opened a cabinet and bent down to grab a half empty bottle of tequila when-

 

“And what do you think you’re doing, young man?”

 

Ethan froze.

 

He turned. Henry stood behind him, looking rather cross. 

 

Shit.

 

“I… uhh…”

 

“If you wanted alcohol, you could’ve asked.” Henry crossed his arms over his chest. “Stealing is rude, you know.” 

“...Can I have some alcohol?” Ethan slowly asked.

Henry’s face dropped. “ No.”

“Dammit.” 

 

“I’m almost glad I caught you stealing, though.” Henry ran a hand through his silver hair. “Now I have proof.”

Ethan put the bottle back in the cabinet. “The hell you mean?”

“Well, I already had proof, I just didn’t know how to approach you about it.” Henry waved his hand. “Come, let’s talk in the living room.”

Ethan groaned. “Fuck. Really?”

“Really.” 

 

Grudgingly Ethan followed Henry to the living room and with a nod of his Uncle’s head, sat down. Henry sat opposite to him.

“Listen Hen, I’m sorry about trying to take your alcohol, k?” Ethan apologized. “Didn’t know you’d make such a big deal about it, damn.”

 

“It’s not just that, Ethan.” Henry tilted his head. “I may be old...er, but I’m not blind. I see what’s going on.”

Ethan shifted uncomfortably. “Which is?”

“Your wellbeing is deteriorating faster than sodium chloride in running water. And you’ve cracked some of my walls, which I do not appreciate.” Henry said calmly. “It’s quite disturbing to watch.”

“Oh yeah? What are you gonna do about it?” Ethan’s upper lip curled up in anger. “I don’t even know what the hell sodium-whatever is.”

 

Henry remained unperturbed. “...Do you recall what you did to Oliver?”

Ethan’s blood ran cold.

“What?” His voice was hoarse.

“I said, do you recall what you did to Oliver?” Henry repeated. “It was about… oh, a little less than a week ago, I believe.”

“N-no.” Ethan swallowed thickly. “What do you mean, ‘did to Oliver’? Did I… did I do something wrong?”

 

Henry grimaced. “Oliver theorized you may have had memory loss. He was hesitant to tell you but… I see we have no choice.” He cleared his throat, then yelled, “ OLIVER! Get down here!”

“Coming!” Came Oliver’s reply from upstairs. He rushed down the stairs and into the living room. His face fell at seeing Ethan. “ Oh .”

“Oliver, show Ethan your arm.” Henry ordered.

Oliver grimaced. “Do I have to?”

“Yes. Do it.” 

 

With a sigh, Oliver slowly rolled up his long sleeve to reveal a long, thick red scar stretched across his forearm. 

 

Ethan’s heart dropped in his chest.

 

“Fuck, Ollie, who did this to you?” Ethan suppressed the urge to reach out and touch the scar. 

Oliver’s eyebrows furrowed. “ You did.”

Ethan’s face drained of any colour. His brows drew together, and for a few long moments, all he did was sit there, eyes wide and mouth hanging open slightly, before he choked out a word. 

“Bullshit.”

“No, it’s true. Usually I’d be able to heal scratches no big deal, but I was so shaken up that my healing spell went haywire. Now I’m left with a scar.” Oliver explained. “I’m just glad it wasn’t on my face. That would’ve majorly sucked.”

“I… I…” Ethan didn’t know what to say. His mind was blank, his brain broadcasting the blue screen of death. “I… shit. Fuck.” 

 

“I think you broke him.” Henry muttered to Oliver. 

“Maybe so.” Oliver muttered back. “At least he didn’t immediately lash out like the last time I confronted him.”

 

“I didn’t, like, turn you, did I?” Ethan forced the words out of his dry throat. “Please don’t tell me I turned you.”

Oliver shook his head. “No. In order to be turned into a werewolf, werewolf saliva has to enter the victim’s blood. While you did draw blood– a lot of it– you drooled on my face, not my arm. So I was fine. Well, not fine , but you know what I mean.” 

“Thank fuck.” Ethan buried his head in his hands. “Can’t believe I attacked my own cousin. I’m a fucking piece of shit.”

 

Oliver sighed, and gently sat next to Ethan. “That’s not true.” He started, “I don’t think you’re a piece of shit. I mean, it sucked that you attacked me but… I don’t think you would’ve done it normally. You’re like… an alternate Ethan right now, one that’s aggressive and sad and anti-social. And I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we want regular Ethan back. Regular Ethan that gives nice hugs and yells bad song lyrics at the top of his lungs and gets in play scuffles with Uncle Henry over dumb things.”

“That Ethan is gone.” Ethan struggled to keep his voice steady. “The fact that I fucking attacked you should be proof enough.” 

 

Oliver chewed on the inside of his cheek before speaking. “...How much of your breakdown is about you feeling inadequate, and how much is about your heart being broken by Lex?”

Ethan stiffened. 

“...None of your beeswax.” He attempted to sound tough. It didn’t work.  

 

“You gotta pick those broken pieces up and super glue the pieces together. Or at least tape them back in place. And if you’d let us, Henry and I can help. We’re your family. We’ll be there for you, but you need to stop pushing us away. I know avoiding shit is easier than facing it head on, but you gotta confront it at some point.” Oliver nudged Ethan gently. “Not asking you to revert to regular, happy Ethan overnight but… I am asking you to make an effort to heal.” 

“...before I hurt anyone else?” 

Oliver sighed, and after a moment’s hesitation, he slowly rested a hand on Ethan’s back. “ No ,” he corrected, “before you hurt yourself .” 

 

Oliver glanced at Henry and tilted his head, silently urging him to speak. 

Henry didn’t say anything. It looked almost like he wanted to, but when he caught Ethan’s gaze, he quickly looked away as though he’d been caught doing something wrong and coughed, wringing his hands together in his lap. 

“Uh… yes.” He finally said after an agonizing silence. “Ethan, I know I’ve not been the best guardian to you. I’m new to this whole… ‘taking care of other people’ thing, so better guardianship skills are to be desired. Even still, I feel like I failed you. I saw you crumble, yet did nothing. I didn’t know what to do in the first place. But instead of trying to reach out or at least attempt to do something , I stood by and foolishly hoped you would get better on your own. I see now that I was grievously wrong.” His eyes darted from Ethan to stare off into the distance. His voice lowered, as if speaking only to himself. “I can’t fail another pack. I just can’t.” 

 

“So what do you want me to do, huh?” Ethan shrugged his shoulders. “You said that I’m a different Ethan. Wanna do a seance to get the old me back or some shit?” 

“That’s not how seances work, idiot.” Oliver’s eye twitched. 

“I ain’t the magic man here.” Ethan held up his hands. “Dunno how that shit works.”

Oliver sighed impatiently. “My point is, you need to figure your shit out. Either tell Lex how you feel, or move on. I know it’s hard, and I know you’re in deep. But wallowing in your own misery isn’t going to fix anything. You want to be happy, right?”

“Well… yeah.”

“There you go. Get your shit together. Stop the excess drinking and partying. Your mental health and your liver will thank you later, trust me.” Oliver advised. 

Ethan ran a hand through his hair. “Can’t say I’ll be perfect, though.” 

“We’re not asking for perfection.”

“...Well what th’ fuck are you asking for?”

“Just for you to try.”

 

Then, before Ethan could respond, Oliver hugged him.

It wasn’t anything spectacular, just a squeeze around his side. 

Ethan stiffened.

...and hugged Oliver back. 

 

Henry shot him a tired but mostly genuine smile. 

Bit by bit, the frost around Ethan’s heart melted.

 

“...Okay. I’ll try.”

 


 

Lex was bored as shit in math class.

Ethan was gone again– no surprise there– and without him to talk to, she either had to pay attention or zone out.

She chose the latter, of course. 

 

She covered her mouth to hide a tired yawn, when her phone buzzed in her bag. She immediately checked it. 

 

Deb (2:23): Hey Lex

Deb (2:23): Meet me in the 3rd floor girls bathroom after school

Lex (2:24): ?? why

Deb (2:24): its about Ethan 

 

Lex nearly choked on her spit.

 

Lex (2:24): fucking what

Deb (2:25): you heard me 

Deb (2:25): you coming or not? try to arrive before 3:30 tho

Lex (2:26): fine. see you there

 

Lex glanced up. The teacher didn’t seem to have noticed her texting, but she put away her phone anyways. Better safe than sorry.

 

The rest of the day crawled by slower than a snail on oxycodone, much to Lex’s displeasure. Every time she looked at the clock, it felt like an eternity till school finally fucking ended. 

At 3, Lex dragged herself to the 3rd floor girls bathroom, her stomach all twisted into tight knots. To her relief, Deb was leaning against a sink and playing on her phone, just as promised. She looked up as Lex entered the bathroom and smiled. “You came.”

Lex shrugged. “Don’t have anything better to do. Now what’s this about Ethan?” 

Deb arched an eyebrow. “Straight to the point, huh?” 

“I’m curious. Sue me.”

“Right, well, I saw Ethan at a party the other day. He was drunk as fuck, and there was this girl with him.” 

Lex froze. “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. She was grinding on him, putting her hands on him, all that.” Deb shifted her weight. “And then she uh, she kissed him.”

Lex’s stomach dropped.

 

“Oh.”

Oh. 

Fuck. 

 

“Eth… kissed a girl? Um. G-good for him.” Her words were thick, wavering. She could barely force them out of her suddenly too tight throat.

 

Why do I feel so… sad?

We weren’t dating. Hell, we never even kissed. Now he won’t even speak to me. 

But when I think of him kissing some other pretty girl, I feel awful. 

 

It was unfortunately easy to imagine. Ethan was attractive enough to get most girls if he tried. It was unfortunately easy to imagine Ethan making out with a hot girl with shitty strappy heels and a low cut dress in the corner of some shitty house party, making out with a hot girl that was not Lex–

 

“No, a girl kissed him .” Deb corrected. 

“Why are you telling me this? Ethan’s love– sex– whatever life isn’t my business.” Lex couldn’t even bring herself to look at Deb. Her eyes were glued to the floor, and her heart thudded in her ears.

“My point is, he rejected her. He could’ve had this damn fine girl who was practically throwing herself at him, but he didn’t. Why?” Deb pointed at Lex. “Because of you.

 

Fucking what?

 

Blinking in confusion, Lex brought up a hand and pointed at her chest in a somewhat stunned fashion. 

“...Me?” 

“Yes, you. Don’t make me repeat myself.” Deb huffed. “I helped him escape from that girl since she kept going even after he said no, and after barfing a bunch he told me that he couldn’t get with another girl, that it was like ‘betraying you’. He’s still stuck on you. I know you guys aren’t talking much right now, but know this– if he wanted to get a rebound gal or one night stand or whatever the fuck to make him feel better, he could’ve. But the son of a bitch is loyal to a fault. He’s hurting, but he’s still loyal to you. That’s a good thing.” She slipped her hands into her pockets. “I think your relationship with him can be salvaged. Just try not to fuck it up again, k?” 

Lex chewed on her lower lip. “I want to make things better with him, but he won’t give me a chance.”

Deb’s eyes glinted slightly. “...So, given the chance, you would like to talk to him, face to face?”

“Well yeah, but he’s not answering my texts or calls and straight ignores me in class. How am I supposed to work shit out if he won’t even give me the time of goddamn day?” Lex complained. 

 

“Huh. Interesting.” Deb hummed. “Off topic, do you have any indo left? My other plug’s out. I split from the Smoke Club a little while ago cuz of Ally, and I got most of my shit from them. You’re still in business, yeah?”

Lex blinked, startled by the abrupt change in conversation. “Uh… yeah. Yeah, I think I have a gram of OG Kush left. Oh, and some Tangie, but that’s sativa, not indica. I moved recently, so I haven’t had much opportunity to get any other strains. Sorry.”

Deb shrugged. “No biggie. 20 for a g sound good?”

Jesus, fucking rich kids. Even OG Kush ain’t worth more than 15, and that’s pushing it.

“Yeah, that’s fine.” 

“Great. How bout Saturday at 3 in the classroom next to the teacher’s breakroom? You can climb in through the breakroom window, then go on over to the classroom. Easy in, easy out.” Deb suggested. 

“Sure. Also–” 

 

Buzz buzz.

 

Lex glanced at her phone. The words died in her throat.

 

Becky 💚 (3:05): Hi Lex :) Just wanted to let you know, you won’t need to pick Hannah up after school. She had a bit of a bad day and I had to pick her up from school early. She’s better now, and is currently taking a nap.

Becky 💚 (3:05): Are you coming home soon? :) 

 

“Shit, I gotta go.” Lex shoved her phone in her pocket. 

“K. See you on Saturday, then.” Deb had a strange smirk on her face that gave Lex a bad feeling, though she didn’t know why.

“Uh… ok. Bye.” With that Lex left that bathroom, her mind repeating when Deb just said.

 

“He’s hurting, but he’s still loyal to you.”

“I think your relationship with him can be salvaged.”

God, I fucking hope so. I feel like a part of me is gone without him.

 


 

When Lex arrived home, she was exhausted, albeit mostly mentally. She found Becky in the kitchen, as per usual, brewing up a pot of coffee.

“Heya Becky.” Lex said, dropping her backpack and pulling up a chair. “How goes it?”

“Oh, Lex! Perfect timing. I just made some coffee for us. Would you like any sugar? Something to eat, maybe?” Becky greeted, smiling her signature sweet smile.

Lex shook her head. “No sugar. And I’m fine. I’m not really hungry anyways.” 

 

I could definitely go for a cigarette right now, but I can’t tell her that. 

 

“Right. By the way," Becky started innocently, setting down a coffee in front of Lex, "Where's Ethan been recently? You used to talk about him loads and bring him over but I haven't seen or heard of him in a while." She tilted her head. "Everything ok?"

Lex froze. "...Not really." She took a sip of the coffee, wincing as it burned her tongue.

"If you don't mind me asking, what happened?" Becky asked quietly. 

 

Should I tell her?

It's Becky. She won't judge.

 

Lex bit her lip. "A couple weeks ago, I..." She took a deep breath. "Ethan and I almost kissed."

Becky smiled. "Oh that's wonder– wait, almost?" Her smile faded. "What do you mean?”

 

"I panicked and stopped him at the last second." Lex traced nonsensical patterns on the table with a chipped black fingernail. "Even worse, I was the one who leaned in first. I started it. I–" Her voice cracked. "I fucking led him on." She pressed her palms in her eyes. "This is all my fault."

Becky's eyebrows furrowed. "Oh sweetie, it's not all your fault– may I touch you?" Lex nodded. Becky rubbed her back soothingly. "It's ok that you didn't want to kiss him. It's your choice."

"You don't understand, though." Lex croaked. "My dumb ass texted him afterwards 'Let's pretend that never happened, k?'. I thought he'd understand since he said ok but... he's been avoiding me ever since. He looks fucked up. He has crazy eye bags, he doesn't laugh anymore, he doesn't sit with me at lunch or have long conversations like we used to." The words poured from her lips before she could stop herself. "I haven't seen him smile in what feels like forever. And I– and I like his smile. It makes me feel nice inside, and now it's like the light inside him has been snuffed out. It fucking sucks." To her chagrin, tears dripped from her shut eyes and down her cheeks. 

 

Becky chewed on her inner cheek, trying to decide what to say. "You don't have to answer but... do you regret it? Not kissing him, I mean."

Lex was quiet for a moment. "...Yeah. I think so." Her voice was rough and shaky. "I didn't wanna fuck up our friendship by kissing him, but I ended up fucking it up anyways." A thick sob ripped from her throat. "I miss him, Becky. I miss him so fucking much."

“Sweetheart…” Becky gave Lex a gentle hug, one which she hesitantly returned. The smell of Becky’s sweet perfume usually stung Lex’s nose, but for some reason, this time it was almost comforting— something she leaned into even as more tears began to well up in her eyes. 

“He won’t even let me talk to him. He’s just giving me the cold shoulder. I don’t know what the fuck to do.” Lex admitted. “Shit sucks.” 

“Tom mentioned you two not interacting much, but I didn’t know it was that bad.” Becky clicked her tongue in sympathy. “Oh, you poor dear…”

“It’s my fucking fault.” 

“It’s not.” 

“How do you know?” Sniffing, trying in vain to collect herself, Lex ducked her head and tried to keep her tears from Becky, their loose embrace helping her cause and allowing her to bury her face in Becky’s sweater. “I… I fucked it all up. We were friends , a-and I almost thought he…”

Her heart twisted. 

She couldn’t bring herself to finish the thought, her voice breaking pathetically at the mere idea of speaking the rest of those words out loud. Her grip on Becky tightened, squeezing her slightly against herself as the older vampire gently ran her fingers through her hair.

 

“Oh, dear…” Becky murmured, “I…” 

Hesitantly, Becky pulled herself away.

 

Fuck.

Now I can’t hide my face.

She knew— she fucking knew — that she looked like a wreck. Sure, not starving all the time was great, and having proper blood content for her body was fucking fantastic , but the fact that it left her face blotchy and red when she cried was something she would rather not have to deal with. Trying in vain to wipe her eyes before Becky could comment on her appearance, Lex ducked her head and forced herself to inhale slowly, trying to quell the ache in her throat from breathing too hard. Her whole body trembled slightly under the force of her suppressed sobs, and try as she might to dig her fangs into her lip to keep it from quivering, she couldn’t stop her composure from breaking the second she met Becky’s eye. 

 

“...I fuckin’ miss him,” she admitted. 

Becky offered a sympathetic smile. “I’m sure he misses you, too.”

“Bullshit. If he missed me, he’d fucking talk to me instead of—” pausing, waving a hand in the air and giving a choking, half sob half laugh, Lex shook her head and took a step away from the conversation. “—fucking pushing me away l-like I ruined his…”

 

Again, her voice broke.

 

Damn it. 

Her fangs threatened to pierce her lip.

God fucking damn it. 

 

Why did she care? What did it matter that Ethan wasn’t seeing her? Why did it hurt so fucking bad?

 

Maybe because he was my only friend.

And now he’s…

 

Becky’s hand settled on her shoulder. “You didn’t ruin his life,” she soothed, quietly. “I dunno how you got that into your head, but you didn’t do anything wrong, m’kay?”

Lex didn’t look at her. “You don’t know that.” 

 

Silence fell between them momentarily. 

Silence broken with a soft sigh.

 

“No,” Becky started, stepping closer— close enough to rest her other hand on Lex’s opposite shoulder, “but I know you . And I know that you wouldn’t hurt him on purpose.”

A scoff wound up from Lex’s throat. Slowly, she turned her head. “...so you’re saying I hurt—”

Becky’s nostrils flared. “ Alexandra Foster .”

 

Oh, shit, full name.

 

Lex stiffened reflexively. Her hackles raised. Her nose wrinkled, her heart rate picking up a touch— the tone, the name… fuck , that really took her back to—

 

“I can’t fucking do this anymore.”

“Oh? You can’t? Try providing for two ungrateful brats—”

“Mom—”

“—who just DECIDE one day to up and leave—”

“—Mom, please , y-you already wanted us gone—”

“—without so much as a fucking goodbye? After I provide for you? And keep a roof over your heads? Alexandra Foster, get your ass back here, NOW.”

“Why? What’re you gonna do, make m—”

 

Becky’s voice snapped her out of her thoughts. “Lex?”

Lex blinked. 

A tear rolled down her cheek. 

Fuck.

Her breath shuddered.

 

Becky, seeming to realize she’d crossed some sort of line, pulled her fingers into a fist on Lex’s back and inhaled sharply, almost shrinking in on herself under Lex’s gaze. Their eyes locked momentarily. 

“I’m sorry, Lex.” Becky apologized softly. “Did I hurt you?”

“‘s fine.” Lex mumbled, wiping at her eyes with her sleeve. “No big deal. Just… threw me for a loop, I guess.” Despite the casual tone she was trying desperately to hold onto, her voice began to betray her, cracking somewhat pathetically. “Haven’t heard that name in awhile, s’all.” 

 

Never thought I would again. 

Hoped I never would again.

Just another thing the universe wanted to throw in her fucking face, apparently. 

 

“Do you not want me to call you by your full name?”

Lex shook her head. She couldn't muster words. 

 

Becky and Pamela were two different people- practically night and day- why can’t I get that into my fucking head? 

It was a stupid question to think. After all, she knew the answer, and as she took a step toward her bedroom and away from Becky where she stood, she could feel it surging to life in the back of her head, her full name ringing in her ears in a voice that didn’t belong to Becky at all. 

A voice that she wished she’d never had to hear. 

A voice that belonged to none other than Pamela fucking Foster-

 

Becky sighed, pulling her out of her thoughts with the soft noise and a gentle touch to her shoulder.  “Ok, I won’t call you that anymore, Lex, I… I’m sorry if…”

She trailed off when Lex gave a weak sniffle and drew in on herself. 

 

Great. 

Now I’ve gone and made Becky feel bad, too.

First Ethan, now Becky.

I really do fucking ruin everything, huh?

 

“Is there anything else I can do to make you feel better?”

Lex shook her head again. “Not really,” she admitted. “It… I’m not upset with you, I just…” Breaking into a small sigh, Lex tried her best to offer an optimistic tone and a smile despite the absolute hell her brain was going through. “Guess I need some time to think.”

“Alright, dear. I understand. And if you ever need to talk to me again, I’m all ears. I’m here for you, k?” Becky said kindly. “May I hug you?”

“Mmhmm.”

Though she didn’t want to admit it out loud, Lex loved Becky’s hugs. They may not have been as warm as Ethan’s, but they were gentle and caring and made Lex feel just a little bit better. 

 

“I love you, Lex.” Becky murmured. “I know we haven’t lived together for long, but you’re truly like a daughter to me. I’m not… expecting you to feel like I’m your mom by now, but I enjoy being your guardian and truly care about you.” 

 

God, she’s gonna make me cry again. Goddammit. 

 

“Same.” Lex sniffled. “You’re… better than my real mom. Way better.” 

Becky stroked Lex’s hair soothingly. “I’m here now, Lex. I’m here.”

“...Thanks, Becky.” 

“Of course, dear.”

 


 

Ethan didn’t know why the fuck he was here.

Well, he knew why he was here. Deb had called him out to the school on Saturday at 3, claiming she got the dankest fucking weed ever- “moon rocks”, or something like that-, and that she wanted to share.

 

Why couldn’t we just smoke it at Evergreen like normal? Why the school?

Whatever. Weed is weed. 

 

Still, when he climbed through the breakroom window, he got a bad feeling in his stomach.

 

Weird. 

 

Sure enough, Deb was waiting for him in the breakroom, but something was… off. Something he couldn’t put his finger on.

“You actually came.” Deb greeted.

“Sure did. Where’s the shit?” Ethan asked bluntly.

“Keep your pants on. I hid it in my old desk in the room next door. Follow me.” Deb began walking away. Ethan followed, dragging his feet a little as he trudged after her.

 

As they stepped out into the hallway, they were greeted by the sight of an extremely nervous-looking Oliver.

Ethan’s eyebrows furrowed. “Ollie? What are you doing here?”

“O-oh! I, um, had a meeting with Mr. Weatherbee about extra credit at 3:30, but I arrived half an hour early. S-silly me!” Oliver stuttered, wringing his hands anxiously.

“You’re a shitty liar, you know that?” Ethan drawled. “What is this actually about?”

“That’s not important.” Deb interrupted before Oliver could say anything. “Come on, Ethan.” Grabbing Ethan’s hand, she practically dragged him away from Oliver, and shoved him into the next door classroom, then slammed the door shut. 

 

Ethan came face to face with an absolutely bewildered-looking Lex. 

“Wha– E-Eth?”

 

Oh.

Oh, fuck no.

I’ve been set up. 

Goddammit.

 

“I’m not doing this.” Ethan whirled around. “Sorry, but I’m out.” 

 

Click. 

 

Ethan pulled on the door handle. Locked.

 

“You motherfuckers!” He shouted, glaring at Deb from the classroom door window. “Fuckin’ open the door!”

“No way. I’m not letting either of you out until you fucking make up.” Deb jingled the keys in front of him tauntingly. “I don’t care how long it takes. Talking to you clearly doesn’t do shit, so you forced my hand.”

I care how long it takes.” Oliver hissed. “This is a fucking awful idea–” 

“Shh! Shut up, Oliver.” Deb nudged him.

Oliver looked away. “Right. Sorry.”

 

“Fuck.” Ethan groaned. “Bastards.”

“They’re right, though. We need to talk.” Lex carefully sat on a desk. “You know you can’t keep up the silent treatment forever, right?” She patted the space by her side.

“I can damn well try.” Ethan grumbled, sitting backwards in a chair across from Lex instead of next to her. Though he tried to appear calm, his knee was jittering badly. 

 

Lex frowned, and her eyebrows furrowed. “Tell me the truth, Eth.” She leaned forward slightly. “Why the hell have you been avoiding me? And don’t try to ‘I didn’t see your texts’ me, you have your read notifs on.” 

“Fuck, I forgot to turn those off.” Ethan mumbled to himself.

“It’s just…” He ran his hand through his hair and sighed. 

 

How do I tell her she broke my heart without letting her know I was in L-word with her? 

 

“When we nearly… ya know… in my car and you fucking ran off on me, I was kinda hurt.” He started. “Even if we did kiss and it didn't work out, so what? I thought our friendship was strong enough that we could get over little bumps like that. But when you ran away like Cindy-fucking-rella, all I could think was ‘What did I do wrong?’ I thought you didn’t want me anymore– whether as a friend or something else. I guess I got too attached to you and… it fucked me up.” He rose to his feet and paced back and forth. “ You were the one who pushed me away first. I figured you’d want the same from me, so I… gave you space. Thought you needed it.” 

“Ethan…” Lex stood up as well. “No, actually, I... fucked up. I just. Didn’t want to lose you.” Her lip trembled. “Though I guess I messed that one up too, huh?”

“Yeah, you did.”

 

They were silent for a moment. 

 

Suddenly. Lex threw her arms around Ethan’s neck and buried her head in his shoulder. 

“I fucking miss you, ok? I fucking miss US! I miss going on drives together, I miss just hanging out and vibing together, I miss seeing you smile and hearing you laugh, I just miss everything about you and I don't know what I can do to fix whatever happened to us, but at this point I'd do anything. I'd do any goddamn thing to get you back, Eth.” She sobbed. 

 

Hesitantly, Ethan wrapped his arms around her in a hug. She fit perfectly in his arms, like lock and key. Like they were meant to be. 

God, it felt so good to hold her again.

“Me too.” He murmured. “I missed you too.”

 

Without thinking, Ethan buried his nose in Lex’s hair and, before he could stop himself, pressed a tiny kiss to the top of her head. 

 

Wait, shit. Did I just kiss her head? Fuck, I fucked this up didn’t I–

 

Lex didn’t pull away like he thought she would. In fact, she only melted into his hug more. 

Eventually Lex’s sobs slowly faded, yet neither let go of their embrace. They just stood there for who knows how long, holding each other in comfortable silence. 

 

“Let’s not fight again, ok?” Lex mumbled. “‘cause this fucking sucked.” 

“Yeah, it did.” Ethan agreed. 

“I didn’t really realise how fucking lonely I was till I nearly lost you,” Lex admitted. “I mean, I had Hannah and Becky but… you’re different.”  She moved her hands from his neck to press them against his cheeks tenderly. “You mean too much to me.”

“Same.” Ethan lightly cupped his hands over Lex’s. “Nothing could ever replace you.” 

She could probably feel the warmth of his cheeks under her icy fingertips, feel him leaning into her touch.  

Lex allowed herself a small smile. “Cute.” She whispered, mostly to herself. 

 

Then, before Ethan could say anything, she leaned forward and kissed his cheek. 

Ethan’s brain short-circuited. 

 

Did she just

Did she just fucking kiss me????

Whaaaaaat. 

 

He felt like his face was about to burst into flames.

Lex laughed. “That’s something I missed too.”

“Huh?”

“When your face gets super red. You look like a cherry.” She teased. 

“What did you expect?” Ethan suppressed the urge to touch where she kissed him. “What the hell was that for, anyways?”

 

“I’m just glad you’re back.” She ran a thumb over Ethan’s cheek fondly, while the other hand dropped to rest over his heart. “I’m really sorry I hurt you. And I know apologizing won’t take back what you went through, but it’s all I can do. I wish I could go back in time and not have left that damn car...” She trailed off, her own cheeks turning pink as she realised what she just said. “Er…” 

“You saying that if you could go over it again, you wouldn’t leave the car? You would’ve stayed?” Ethan raised an eyebrow. 

Lex faltered. “I… um.” Now she was the one embarrassed one. “I mean– it was pretty rude of me to just bail on you. I coulda stayed and… resolved things… differently.” 

 

Their eyes locked. 

 

That means in another universe, she stayed and we did kiss. We could’ve actually been a thing. 

 

Lex’s eyes widened a smidge and she gulped. 

 

She probably just realised that too. 

I want to kiss her again.

Properly this time. 

 

Just as Ethan was about to lean forward–

 

BAM BAM BAM!

 

“Have you guys made up yet?” Oliver yelled through the door. 

Ethan and Lex broke apart, both blushing and looking away. 

“Y-yeah, we have.” Ethan called back. “So um, you can unlock the door now.”

 

The door’s lock clicked open, but before Lex could go to open it, Ethan grabbed her hand. “Wait.”

“What?”

Ethan unzipped and shrugged off his leather jacket, then offered it to Lex. “I know how much you like my jacket so… here. You probably missed it, didn’t you?” 

“Yeah, I did.” Lex took the jacket from him and slipped it on, looking very satisfied while doing so. “Thanks, E.” After a moment’s hesitation, she squeezed his hand one, two, three times. 

 

Ethan felt like his heart was going to fucking burst. 

 

Does she know what that means? Or is she just doing it because I do that to her? 

 

“N-no problem.” Ethan stuttered. “Just, um, make sure to return it on Monday, k?” 

Already making her way to the door, Lex turned to shoot him a smug smirk over her shoulder. “ Maybe ,” she returned, at which Ethan gave a scoff. 

Maybe?”

Lex shrugged. “I said what I said, E. You’ve been lucky to get it back the other times.” 

Ethan arched an eyebrow. “Oh, so I’ve only been getting my jacket back because of luck, hmm?” 

Although she laughed at him instead of responding, without a word, Ethan had his answer, and to an extent… he couldn’t help but feel damn lucky indeed. 

Chapter Text

So Lex and Ethan were back to being friends.

Sorta.

 

Well, they were friends, but even a week afterwards, Lex’s confession played on repeat in Ethan’s head.

“I wish I could go back in time and not have left that damn car...”

 

Call him a hopeless romantic or even a fucking simp, but Ethan thought of it as ‘Lex would’ve kissed me. Maybe she likes me back’ .

Maybe. 

 

But sometimes she gave him these fucking looks , looks like she actually wanted him or something.

Looks through half-lidded eyes. Lip bites whenever she saw his muscles. Lots of teasing remarks. Occasional hand brushes. 

He didn’t want to misinterpret things, though, so he just kept his feelings to himself. 

 

Even if Deb insisted the sexual tension between them was “fucking obnoxious”, he wasn’t sure if the feelings were truly mutual.

(They were.)

 

Either way, he was glad to have her back. 

 


 

“Yo Green, did you hear about the haunted house opening up?”

“Hmm?” Ethan looked up from his phone and glanced at the other Smoke Club members. 

Danny shoved a crinkled-up flyer in his face. “There’s a haunted house starting up soon. They’re taking auditions for scary actors.” 

Ethan took the flyer from him. “Like, an actual haunted house, or just a shitty attraction?” 

“It ain’t shitty, man. Went there a couple years ago, scared the shit out of me.” Danny blew out a cloud of smoke. “My lil sis Kathy is working there, and she told me to invite some people. It was closed last year, but the head honcho, Susie, is trying to get it back up again. You should totally join.” 

 

Ethan hummed in thought and held up the flyer to the light to read it.

 

Come see the scariest attraction in all of Hatchetfield! Experience a nightmare time like you’ve never seen before!

The Hatchetfield Horror House

September 22- November 5

Open Fridays, Saturday, and Sunday from 7-11:30 PM 

Must be 13 or older to enter 

Tickets $15 Fri-Sat, $12 Sun 

 

“Sounds interesting. How much does it pay?” Ethan arched an eyebrow.

“Dunno. Prolly minimum wage.” Danny shrugged. “Heard it’s hella fun though.” 

 

“Lex wants to be an actress. Maybe she’d join.” Ethan mused to himself. 

“Yeah! Acting in a haunted house with your girlfriend should be fun!” Sof piped up. 

In spite of himself, Ethan blushed. “How many times do I have to tell you guys, it ain’t like that. We’re not dating.”

“Yet.” Said Danny and Sof in unison. 

“Shut the fuck up.” Ethan muttered. He could feel his ears and cheeks burning, but paid it no mind.

 

“I’ve never acted before.” He admitted. 

“They’re not looking for Oscar-worthy performances, dude.” Danny scoffed. “Can you growl? Can you act scary?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Then there ya go.” Danny dropped his spent joint and crushed it under his foot. “And bring along your not-girlfriend too. The worst that can happen is you don’t get the audition. No big deal.” 

Ethan pursed his lips. “I guess so…”

 

I’ve never been to a haunted house before, but this should be fun. Plus I might be able to spend more time with Lex, and that’s always a plus.

He bit his lip to hold back a smile.

Maybe if she gets scared I can hold her hand to comfort her. That’d be nice. 

“Alright, I’ll check it out.” Ethan folded up the flyer and put it in his pocket. “With Lex, hopefully. Thanks Danny.”

 

At the use of “with Lex” , Sof’s eyes lit up, and Danny snorted into the back of his hand– though it turned into a sharp cough when Ethan’s gaze shot to him.

“...what?” 

Sof clicked her tongue. Shaking her head, she rolled her shoulders, followed by her eyes. “Oh, like you’d have it any other way.”

What the fuck?

Straightening his posture, Ethan tilted his head slightly. “What’s that supposed to mean?” 

Well , you wouldn’t go without her.”

“I–”

 

Before he could protest, Danny clapped him on the shoulder and gave a soft chuckle.

“Just take this one, dude,” he huffed, “seriously. Just admit that you wanna get fucking pegg–”

Not so fucking loud! ” Ethan’s voice came out in a strangled sort of yelp, and although his face was fucking burning , he managed to shoot Danny a heated glare. “Christ! And that’s not– that isn’t– just shut up!”  

Danny gave a lame shrug in response. “Hey, no shame in it!” He defended, throwing a hand up in the air as though he was going to use the force or some shit to keep Ethan from imploding on the spot. “I don’t think I’d mind–”

“Lex isn’t gonna bone you, dude.” Sof interrupted. 

Sof– ” Ethan warned, exasperated, his voice cracking pathetically.

Sof pretended not to hear him. Instead, she waved her hands and took another pull from her joint. “I mean, you have a boyfriend, and –” With a measured glance over to Ethan, she shot him a smug smirk. “–Ethan would fucking kill you.”

Ethan’s jaw clenched. “I–” He started to protest, though again, Sof waved him off, not even shooting him a spare glance as she continued to talk to Danny.

 

“Like, seriously,” she huffed through a cloud of smoke, “dude, do you want to be a chewtoy?”

Danny blinked. 

It was almost comically slow, the way he did it– and for a moment, some of Ethan’s irritation faded into confusion, though that was before Danny spoke up.

“Sof,” he started, flatly, “what the fuck? That’s lowkey racist.” 

“Oh, shit–”

 

“It’s fine,” Ethan croaked, coughing slightly. His throat was drier than it had been a moment ago, and try as he might, he couldn’t meet their eyes.

Mostly because his face was still bright red. 

 

Just stop talking about pegging. 

Please. 

God. 

 

That was definitely not something he needed to be thinking about– especially not in front of the fucking smoke club, or at all. Ever. Full stop. 

...though a small part of him couldn’t help it. 

 


 

“You can't help it

This is just how we were taught to love

Oh, there's a name for boys like you

And yet I feel lucky to hear all your lines

I hate that they shake me up every time

 

Hold my hand for just a second

See you soon, what do we reckon?

Maybe I'm not just a friend

But we're so close, I thought we'd kiss

Turns out you're just good at this

But how 'bout you do it again?”

 

“Lex?”

 

Lex’s eyes snapped open, and quickly she took out her headphones. “Huh?”

Ethan stood next to her car window with a gentle smile. “Hey, Lexie. Mind rolling down the window so we can talk?”

 

‘Lexie.’ 

For some goddamn reason, that nickname makes my heart beat faster. 

Which is hella weird, considering Hannah calls me Lexie too. But it’s different with Ethan. A good different. 

...Get it together, Lex. Jesus christ. It’s just a damn name. 

 

“Uh– you can get in if you want.” Lex unlocked the car door. 

“Thanks.” Ethan plopped down in the passenger seat. “What are you doing sitting alone in the school parking lot? School’s been over for like, 2 hours.”

“Shit, has it been that long already?” Lex glanced at the clock– 5:06. “Damn. I totally spaced out. I-I was just listening to some music Deb recommended me and I guess I lost track of time.” 

Ethan shrugged. “No biggie, I do that all the time. What song?”

Lex hesitated. “Uh… I don’t think you’d like it.”

 

“I mean, I like a lot of different music. You’ve seen my mixtape collection.” Ethan chuckled. “I uh, am actually working on one about you.”

Stunned, Lex blinked once, then twice. “About me?”

“Yeah, songs that remind me of you.” Ethan smiled that sweet crooked grin that made her stomach twist in knots. “Maybe I’ll show you someday.”

“Someday?” Lex echoed.

“It’s not finished yet. I’m still figuring you out.”

 

They locked eyes. 

 

“Figuring me out? We’ve known each other for like 5 months.” Lex pointed out.

“7 months, exactly.” Ethan corrected. “To the day.”

“To the day? Oddly specific. You been counting, Green?” She teased. 

“Maybe so, babe.” He teased back, resting his chin on his palm. 

Lex gave a soft laugh. “Babe? What, are you flirting with me or something?” 

“What would you do if I said I was?” 

Almost involuntarily, Lex’s eyes darted down to Ethan’s lips, then back to his pretty blue eyes. 

The tension in the air was almost palpable. 

Lex really, really hoped her face wasn’t red.

(It was.)

 

“Oh, before I forget, I wanted to give this to you.” Ethan took a crumpled piece of paper out of his pocket and gave it to Lex.

“The Hatchetfield Horror House?” Lex read aloud. “What, you want me to come with you or something?”

Ethan shook his head. “Nah. They’re opening up auditions soon, and I thought of you. I remembered you wanted to be an actress. So I was thinking, why not start here? It’ll be fun.”

“...You remembered I want to be an actress?” Lex smiled shyly. “That’s sweet, Eth.” 

“Well yeah. I listen to you, ya know.” Ethan matched her grin. “I care about you.”

 

“Th-thanks.” She stuttered, ignoring the rapid beating of her heart. “Um, let’s see, Fridays through Sundays, that’s 3 days for 6 weeks, so about 18 days of work… how much are actors getting paid?”

“Honestly? Prolly not much. Since it’s part time, the owners can get away with not paying the actors much.” Ethan sighed. “But if you can’t go cuz of your other job, I get it.” 

“Are you gonna be working there, E?”

He nodded. “Assuming I pass the audition, yep. It’s not like I’m busy on the weekends anyways.”

 

Lex bit her lip. “I’ll have to talk to Frank, but I think it starts late enough that I should be able to go after I finish my shift at Toyzone. I might be really tired though.”

“Good thing I’ll be there to cheer you up.” Ethan nudged her playfully. 

“Oh, of course. How could I survive without you.” Lex rolled her eyes over dramatically, though her mouth quirked up. 

“Exactly.” He flashed one of his stupid dumb adorable grins. 

 

Lex couldn’t stop herself from smiling back even if she tried– his happiness was just that damn infectious. “What day are you gonna audition?”

“I was thinking this Friday, after school.  I can drive you there.” Ethan proposed. “It’s like a 15 min drive from school. Dunno how far exactly from your place. We can just carpool.” 

 

“Does it cost anything to audition?” Lex asked, turning off her music. “Not exactly rolling in dough at the moment.”

“Nah, I think audition’s free. It’d be pretty shitty if a haunted house in fucking Hatchetfield charged to audition.” said Ethan. “So whaddya say?”

“Aight, I’m down.” Lex shrugged. “Let’s rock some fucking auditions.”

 


 

When Ethan arrived to the Hatchetfield Horror House, he didn’t know what the fuck he expected. Maybe a little decrepit-looking rinky-dink house but no, this was a full on refurbished spooky ass mansion. 

“Damn.” Ethan marveled. “Bigger than I expected.”

 

“There’s an underground section too. It’s sick.” A voice said. Leaning against the front wall was a young woman, no older than 23 or so, puffing on a vape. She was about as pale as Lex, and her loosely curled dark green hair barely brushed past her nape. 

“You work here?” Lex asked.

“Hell yeah. I’m the head makeup artist. Name’s Elissa. Nice to meet ya.” She held out her hand, to which Lex and Ethan both shook. “I assume you’re here for auditions?” She blew out a strawberry vanilla flavoured cloud. 

They nodded.

“Tight. Just head in through the front door and turn left, then ask for Susie. She’s the boss and the audition judge or whatever. Don’t worry about being perfect, she’s really chill.” Elissa blew a strand of hair out of her face. “Oh and uh,” Her dark eyes zeroed in on Lex, “don’t be afraid to be yourself. Here at the Horror House, people like you have an advantage.” She gave a crooked grin, fangs glinting in the sunlight. “Have fun. See you guys in a week.” She shot them an effortlessly cool two-fingered salute, then wandered off.

 

“Definitely a vampire.” Lex whispered to Ethan once she was gone. 

“I can tell,” Ethan whispered back. “Do you think they’ll let us audition together?” 

 

“Not sure. We’ll find out soon enough.” Lex gave him a comforting hand squeeze. 

Was it platonic? Probably, yeah. 

Ethan squeezed her hand back one, two, three times.

That one definitely wasn’t platonic.

 

As they walked inside, Ethan was immediately stricken by the inside decor. The beginning room was small, with a single spiderweb covered chandelier lighting the room just enough for them to see. The walls were dark, cracked and covered in mysterious stains. Paintings depicting grisly acts hung on the walls. Straight ahead was a narrow hallway sectioned off, and to the left was a black door with “Employees only” painted on it in spooky lettering. 

“Guess that’s it.” Lex’s hold on Ethan’s hand tightened a smidge. 

“Yep.” Here goes nothing.

 

Before Ethan could open the door, someone else opened it first. There stood a short, stout woman with short dyed white hair and sharp blue eyes. She was one of those weirdly aged people where you could say she was 26 or 46 and both would be believable. 

 

“Um, hey, do you know where Susie is?” Lex dropped Ethan’s hand to give an awkward wave. 

“You’re looking at her.” The woman replied, looking the pair up and down. “I assume you’re here for auditions, hmm?”

 

“Yeah.” Suddenly Ethan felt nervous. “Do we go one at a time, or…” 

Susie nodded. “One at a time’ll do. Who’s first?” 

 

Lex and Ethan glanced at each other. 

She looks even more nervous than me. 

“I can go first, if that’ll make you feel more comfortable.” Ethan offered. 

“What a gentleman.” Lex teased. “But sure. Try not to mess it up too badly.”

“I’ll try my best.” Ethan shot her a crooked smile, then followed Susie inside the employee room.

 

The employee lounge was quite different from the other rooms in the house. Gone was the gloomy decor, instead replaced with cream-coloured walls and a well-worn, comfy-looking coffee brown couch as well as a few armchairs. 

 

“Sit.” Susie gestured to the couch. Ethan complied. “Now, what’s your name?” She sat in a chair and picked up a clipboard from a side table. “How old are you? Do you go to high school or college?”

“Um, Ethan Green. 19. Go to Hatchetfield High. So does Lex– she’s the friend I came here with.” said Ethan, settling into the soft couch seat. 

 

“Right, right. And are you a supernatural?” Susie scribbled something down on her clipboard.

Ethan froze. “Uh…”

Fuck.

 

Susie must’ve seen the look of fear that flashed over his face. In an instant, she raised a hand somewhat defensively as if trying to calm him. “Don’t get me wrong, this is a supernatural friendly environment. In fact, I reckon there are more supernaturals than humans working here. And if you don’t wish to be outed, we all respect that too.” She soothed. 

“...Are you a supernatural?” Ethan asked slowly.

“No, I’m human. But I grew up with supernaturals– vampires, werewolves, witches, all that jazz. So I’m quite comfortable with non-humans.” She explained calmly.

“Oh. Huh. Uh, then yeah. I’m a werewolf.” Ethan confessed after a pause, staring down at his boots. “So if that’s gonna… I dunno, affect how you–”

“Just means we’ll give you earplugs for louder areas if you want ‘em,” Susie interrupted, seeming to notice the almost resigned note in his voice. “Oh– and we might not have to deal with giving you tacky fake fangs as well, which is a bonus, because they fall out, like, all the time.”

Ethan blinked. 

The knot in his chest loosened.

“...that’s it?”

“That’s it,” Susie echoed, smiling softly, “so if you don’t get hired, it’s not gonna be because you’re a werewolf– that comes down to how you are at acting.”

 

Ah.

Right. 

He was auditioning to act as… something or other.

“Y-Yeah, uh, what…” Coughing slightly, Ethan shifted his weight and scratched the back of his neck somewhat nervously. “What did you want me to do for that?” 

 

(What she wanted , he was quick to realize, was for him to not flinch, and while normally, reflexively growling and flashing his fangs at an interviewer would a surefire way to get told to turn right around, when he did … Susie flashed him a grin.)

(And for the first time, when Ethan stepped out into the waiting area, he didn’t even try to hide his fangs.)

 


 

“A stalker?” 

Watching as Ethan’s face lit up in a grin— showing off his fangs, which seemed to happen more often these days— Lex focused on tucking her hair back like she’d been instructed by the makeup artists as he puffed up his chest a little, clearly proud of the fact that he hadn’t botched his audition.

“Yeah. I follow behind groups, growl at them, make sure they don’t do stupid shit and move at a good pace.” He explained. 

“Sounds fun.” Lex grinned. “I’m just a vampire. But like, a scary one.” 

 

“So not much different from your regular self, then.” Ethan teased. “Been method acting?” 

“Very funny.” Lex scoffed. She paused. “...Am I really scary normally?”

“Nah, I’m just jokin’. You can be a lil… intense I guess, but I like girls like that.” He winked. 

Lex rolled her eyes, despite her red cheeks. “Shut your mouth.” 

“Make me.” And, to seal the deal, Ethan blew her a cheeky little kiss across the room. 

“What– what has gotten into you lately? You’re acting real cocky, Green.” Lex struggled to keep her voice steady, even though her heart was beating wildly in her chest. 

Ethan shrugged his shoulders. “Burst of confidence, I guess.” His eyelids lowered. “If you don’t like it that much, why don’t you come over and tell me what you do like, hmm?”

Never said I didn’t like it. 

“Oh, bite me.” Lex shot back. 

“Actually, I’d rather prefer you do that to me.” He replied without a beat, tilting his head and revealing his neck. 

Automatically Lex’s eyes were drawn to the pale, smooth expanse of skin. 

 

She felt hungry.

Wait, I just had a plasma pack earlier today. I shouldn’t feel hungry.

...Maybe it’s not blood that I’m hungry for.

Internally Lex shook her head.

Fuck, get ahold of yourself Lex. That line was cheesy as hell. 

 

“If you’re trying to flirt with me, it’s not working.” said Lex stubbornly. 

Ethan didn’t look perturbed in the slightest. “Guess I’ll have to work harder then–”

 

“Ok, ok, enough! Quit it lovebirds. This is a haunted house dressing room, not your bedroom. Flirt with your girlfriend all you want later, but not at work.” Elissa interrupted. “You’re disturbing the kids, too.” She pointed at the youngest actors who were sitting in a corner, scrolling through Tiktok and not really giving a shit. 

“Wha– ‘lovebirds’? ‘Girlfriend’? You’ve got it all wrong, we’re not even dating!” Lex insisted.

No one seemed convinced. 

Lex glanced at Ethan desperately, hoping he’d back up her claim.

He didn’t say anything. Instead he just winked at her again and smirked.

Goddammit Eth. 

 

“Whatever. Hopefully you guys have a costume that fits me.” Ethan stretched his arms over his head, causing his shirt and jacket to shift up and revealing a sliver of his toned stomach.

Lex swallowed heavily, unable to rip her eyes away.

 

I still remember what his neck tasted like. I wonder if the rest of his body tastes the same.

 

An image of Ethan and her, pressed against the same tree in the Witchwoods they were at many weeks ago, tangled up together, flashed through her mind.

She wasn’t drinking his blood this time, though. 

 

Lex froze, and her eyes widened.

What the absolute fuck am I thinking?! Jesus fucking christ.

 

“Um– I-I need to go to the bathroom!” She blurted. 

Elissa looked at Lex strangely, but nodded. “Uh, yeah. Down the hall, first door on the right.” 

“Okthanksbye!” Lex rushed out of the room, not looking at Ethan, and burst into the bathroom. Thankfully, no one was in there.

 

She splashed cold water on her burning face, and stared angrily at the mirror. “What the fuck is wrong with you today?” Lex demanded, shooting her reflection an icy glare– hell yeah, vampire mirrors that don’t suck . “Did I somehow have one of those afro— af– those sexy potions? I don’t get it.” 

Lex felt weird. Weird about Ethan specifically. And she hated it.

 

With shaking hands, she whipped out her phone.

 

Lex (3:34): DEB DID YOU POISON ME?? LIKE WITH ONE OF YOUR SEXY POTIONS??

Lex (3:34): I keep thinking wack shit about me n Eth and my stomach’s all tied up in knots and my heart beats faster when he talks to me and it fuckin sucks

Deb (3:35): what?? no

Deb (3:35): we havent seen each other for lile a week how the fuck would i have slipped you an aphrodisiac 

Lex (3:35): Then why do I feel like this???

Deb (3:35): thats called being sexually attracted to someone you idiot

Deb (3:36): ,,have you never been horny before??

Lex (3:36): no I have

Deb (3:37): then why tf are you acting like this is a new emotion

Lex (3:37): bc we’re friends! friends aren't supposed to thirst after each other!

Deb (3:38): not to be gay on main but like

Deb (3:38): a lot of wlw and mlm fall in love with their friends and thats how they find out who they are

Deb (3:38): i found out i was gay bc i fell for my bff in 3rd grade

Deb (3:39): obvs your issue isnt sexuality tho

Deb (3:39): my point is that falling for your friend isnt necessarily a bad thing. for a lot of ppl it can be a good thing 

Lex (3:39): ...really???

Deb (3:40): ya

Deb (3:40): also can i be totally blunt w you

Lex (3:40): ye

Deb (3:40): watching you and ethan dance around your feelings is fucking painful. just get it over with and fuck or date already goddamn

Lex (3:40): >:0 

 

Knock knock knock knock. 

 

“Lex? You ok?” Elissa called from the other side of the door. “You’ve been in there for a while.”

“Y-yeah, I’m fine! Sorry! I’ll be out in a minute.” Lex called back, shoving her phone back in her pocket and cursing under her breath. 

She gave one last glance at her reflection. 

Despite her lack of blush, her face was damn red– fuck

 

She dragged a hand over her face. “Dammit.” She mumbled. With a final exhale, she stepped out of the bathroom to be greeted by a worried looking Elissa.

“Everything alright, Lex?” Elissa’s eyebrows furrowed. 

“Uh, yeah. Just um, upset stomach.” Lex half lied. 

 

And that I keep thinking about getting pressed against a wall by my stupid hot best friend. That sure as hell doesn’t make me feel any better. 

 

Elissa’s expression smoothed into one of understanding. “Ah. I see. Well, does your stomach hurt so badly that you can’t bear acting, or do you think you can pull through? It’d suck to lose an actor on the first night, but if you can’t manage…”

“No, no, I’m fine! Really.” Lex waved her off. 

This is my first acting job. I can’t fuck it up.

“If you say so.” Elissa shrugged. “If you’re feeling ok, then c’mon. You were assigned a pretty simple first role so your makeup shouldn’t be too complex.” 

Might’ve just been the light, but Lex swore Elissa’s eyes looked brighter.  

 

Lex tilted her head. “Will I have a costume?” 

Elissa tapped her lip in thought. “It’s not necessary, but if you want one, we can probably get you a cape or some shit.” 

Lex smiled. “Fuck yeah. I’m down.” 

“Great. Sit down, please.” Elissa led her back to the makeup room and into a seat. “We’ll go with some dark eyeshadows and veins for tonight.”

 

“K.” Lex’s gaze wandered over to where Ethan sat in another makeup chair. He caught Lex’s eye and flashed a peace sign and a toothy grin.

I wonder if having sharp teeth like that makes it harder to kiss. Though I have fangs too, so if we completely hypothetically did kiss, our fangs might bump. Still, I don’t think it’d be a bad experience per se… 

 

“Hey Lex, can you do me a super favour?” Elissa asked, running her brush over Lex’s high cheekbones.

“Yeah?”

“Can you please fucking stop thinking about making out with Ethan for 5 damn minutes? It’s really distracting.”

Lex gaped. “Wh– wha– what the fuck? I-I don’t think of that at all!! Why would you say that?!” She sputtered, heat flaring up in her cheeks.

“Lex.” Elissa gave her a sympathetic smile. “You know I’m a vampire right?”

“Yeah, so?”

“My power is reading minds.” Elissa tapped her temple. “And you think about your ‘best friend’ a lot.

Lex’s heart dropped. “No way. You’re fucking with me.”

“I wish I was. It’s more of a curse than a blessing.” Elissa sighed. “Hold on, lemme prove it to you… ok, right now you’re thinking about… googling later how to block mind readers. And how much you hate yourself for liking your friend. Oh, and that you still need to come up with an apology for burning one of Becky’s pots. I dunno who Becky is, though.”

“Get the hell out of my head. That’s private.” Lex grumbled, looking away.

Elissa threw up her arms with a huff. “Believe me honey, I would if I could. It’s an automatic thing. If I look at a person for long enough, I can see their thoughts. And I’ve seen some weird shit in my day.” 

“Ugh. I still don’t like you looking into my brain, on purpose or not.” Lex pouted.

The makeup artist clucked her tongue. “Feeling’s mutual. But for both of our sakes, please at least try to refrain from thinking about how much you wanna get rai–”

“I get it! Jesus fucking christ!” Lex interrupted her, face bright red. “You don’t have to say it out loud!” 

Elissa shrugged. “Fine, fine. Whatever. Turn your head a little to the right, please. God the lighting in this room is shit.”

They were quiet for a moment as Elissa continued working on Lex’s contour.

 

“Can you see into like, anyone’s mind?” Lex asked hesitantly. “Or only vampires?”

“Nope, anyone.” 

“...Even werewolves?”

Elissa paused, then her eyes narrowed. “No.”

“No, you can’t read werewolves' minds?”

Elissa sighed heavily. “No,” she reiterated, putting a little more pressure into the strokes of her brush along Lex’s cheekbones, “as in no, I’m not going to be the messenger between you and Ethan’s love mess– don’t deny you were about to ask that, I can literally see what you’re thinking. I’m not the type of bitch who tells people what others think of them. That’s rude and invasive.” Elissa pointed at Lex. “You wanna know how Ethan feels? Ask him yourself.”

“Ok, ok, fine. Sor- ry. ” Lex raised her arms in defense, earning a small huff from Elissa. 

 

For a while they were silent as Elissa moved to work on Lex’s eyes.

“...Ya know, being horny ain’t a crime.” Elissa said suddenly. “You’re not a fuckin’ nun. You’re allowed to be interested in people.” She swiped dark eyeshadow under Lex’s eyes. “You don’t have to take my advice or anything, but I think things would be a lot better if you just accepted your feelings instead of fighting them. That’s only creating more unnecessary conflict.” 

Lex shifted uncomfortably. “You don’t know the whole story.”

“True. But I’m a pretty good guesser.” Elissa dipped her brush into more eyeshadow, then went to work on Lex’s other eye. “Like I said, I’m not gonna tell you what Ethan’s thinking but… I think if you talk to him about how you feel, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by his answer.” She gave her a soft smile. “Ok, done.”

 

Lex glanced in the mirror and nearly recoiled. “Jesus, I look terrifying.”

“That’s sorta the point, hon.” Elissa chuckled. “This is a haunted house, not a beauty school. If you wanted to look like a pretty princess, then you came to the wrong place.”

“Nah, I don’t wanna look like a pretty princess. This is great.” Lex made a fake snarl in the mirror, which turned into a laugh. “Oh yeah. I’m gonna make some middle schoolers shit bricks tonight.” 

 

An impressed whistle sounded behind Lex. “Damn. Hell of a makeup job.”

Ethan’s makeover was much simpler than Lex’s. His regular leather jacket had been swapped for ragged, blood-stained clothes. Blood wasn’t just on his clothes; no, there was blood on his skin, on his face, and on the knife he gripped in one hand. 

“They sprayed me down with a bottle of fake blood. It was fun.” He said at Lex’s confused stare. 

“That isn’t a real knife, is it?” Lex asked tentatively.

Ethan scoffed. “No. It’s fake. Duh.” To prove his point, he jabbed the knife into his shoulder. The prop knife’s blade didn’t so much as knick the skin. “See?”

“Right, right. And uh, is it just me, or do your teeth look a little sharper?” Lex narrowed her eyes and stepped closer.

“Nah, I used my wolf powers to make them sharper.” He tapped a pronounced canine. “It’s scarier like that. In this case, my bark ain’t as bad as my bite.” 

 

That’s lowkey kinda hot.

 

Pushing that thought out of her mind before Elissa could comment on it, Lex nodded. “You look like a mix of a zombie and a serial killer, though I dunno if zombies really exist.”

“They do, weirdly enough. Uncle Henry had a zombie over one time, though that zombie looked like a regular person, just with stitches everywhere. Sorta like the gal from that Halloween Christmas movie.” Ethan noted.  “Nightmare before Christmas?” Lex tried, at which Ethan scoffed. 

“Pretty sure it was Elm Street,” he corrected. 

“Nuh-uh–”

Yuh-huh!” Ethan interrupted, jutting his chin upward with confidence– grinning a stupid smile that more than showed off his stupid fangs. “They’d have freaky dreams about the doll, and then they’d die! ” As he said the word die , he puffed up his chest a little and narrowed his eyes, the confidence radiating off of him enough to make Lex raise her eyebrows in return. 

“...Eth,” Lex started, slowly, struggling to keep from laughing, “there’s no doll in that.” 

Ethan’s brows drew together. “Bullshit–” he started to protest, only to be cut off by Lex shaking her head and snorting. 

No .” Lifting a hand, Lex counted on her fingers, speaking slowly. “The killer doll is Chucky, the dream killer is Freddy , and the nice doll from the kids movie is Sally.” Finishing with a small smirk, Lex lowered her hand in time to see Ethan narrow his eyes and furrow his brow. 

“Well, all their names end in a fuckin’ E sound,” he grumbled. “That’s fuckin’ uncreative. Two of them are gonna have to change.”

“...their names?”

“They’re clearly copying.”

“Then I guess that’s on Chucky and Sally. Freddy’s the OG by like, four years on the fuckin’... serial killer voodoo bitch.”

“You like horror?”

Lex shrugged. “It was all I really watched growing up. I mean, I was up stupid late anyway— there was this one channel that would start classic reruns like, super early September. Late nights. After Hannah went to bed, it was something to do that wasn’t staring at my phone and pretending I had friends to text.”

“Huh. I’ll admit, I’ve only seen a few horror movies and they were pretty dumb.” Ethan hummed. “...Y’know, maybe we could watch a few of ‘em sometime? Since you’re clearly the horror master n’ all. Could be fun. I’ll be there to hold your hand if you get scared.” He offered. 

“Sure, E. You can stand outside and listen for when I scream.”

“That ain’t a no!” Ethan’s grin widened. 

Lex simply rolled her eyes.

...That does sound fun though. 

 

“Attention!” Susie called, clapping her hands loudly. “Is everyone ready? If so, I’ll be showing you guys where and what you’ll be doing.” 

“See ya in a few, Lexie. Break a peg.” Ethan said, bumping Lex on the hip playfully before following Susie.

“It’s break a leg, you fucking dork.” Lex corrected, though there was no venom in her voice. 

 

...I wish I could stay with you the whole night and not have to leave your side.

Out of the corner of her eye, Lex spotted Elissa shaking her head in exasperation. 

Shit, I really need to watch what I’m thinking around Elissa. Ok, no more mushy thoughts about Ethan. Just focus on acting and shit. 

 

Lex exhaled and closed her eyes.

Ok, let’s fucking do this.

 


 

The night passed by fairly quickly. Lex did indeed make some middle schoolers shit bricks with a particularly well-timed jumpscare, and scared plenty of others too. Unfortunately Lex and Ethan worked in sections on opposite sides of the house, so neither saw each other until Lex met up with him at the end of the night, after scrubbing off her scary makeup in the dressing room.

 

“Heya Lexie.” Ethan waved as Lex approached his car.

“Hi Eth.” Lex greeted back, slipping into his open car. “Damn, I’m beat.” 

“So, how was night one?” Ethan asked, getting in next to Lex. “Planning on doing it more?”

“Yeah, I liked it. Scaring people is fun.” Lex grinned. “What about you?”

 

“Hell yeah. Maybe we can ask the boss if we can work in the same section next time.” Ethan said. “That’d be pretty tight and–” He paused, frowned, and sniffed the air. “Wait, what is that?”

“What is what?”

“Is that–” He sniffed the air again. “Woah. You smell like, really good, Lex.” 

Lex blinked. “Uhhh thanks?”

“No, like seriously.” Ethan leaned closer. “Are you wearing perfume?”

Lex’s eyebrows furrowed. “Sort of? Elissa gave me some like, scented facial mist or whatever since I was sorta sweaty. But the smell isn’t overpowering or anything.” 

“I swear, you smell great.” He persisted, leaning even closer, until he was nearly on top of her. 

She could feel his quick breath on her neck as he shifted over to her side, half sitting half standing in her lap and pressing her against her seat. 

“Um, Ethan…”

 

Ethan blinked. Tilted his head. 

His eyes seemed to gleam in the low light. 

Sometimes, it was almost easy to forget that he was a werewolf, but other times… other times, the animal lurking just beneath his skin was far too visible. 

 

“Oh, shit.” He finally seemed to realise what he was doing, and leaned back. “S-sorry. I-I don’t know what came over me.” He ran his hand through his hair. 

“Maybe it’s your wolf powers acting up or something?” Lex suggested. “Is it close to the full moon?”

 

Ethan shook his head. “Not really, it’s still a few weeks away. It’s just…” He sighed. “...Nevermind. I hope I didn’t make you uncomfortable back in the dressing room, did I? You sorta ran out at one point.” 

“Oh, yeah. That.” Lex laughed nervously, her gaze darting to the side. “I uh, guess I was just embarrassed at being called out by Elissa or whatever. You’re fine.” 

“You sure? I know I was coming down pretty hard on you. I was just teasin’ you.” 

Don’t make a dirty joke, don’t make a dirty joke, brain don’t you fucking dare make a dirty joke

 

“Yeah, I know. It’s no big deal.” Lex forced herself to smile weakly. She hesitated. “...So you didn’t mean any of it, then?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well you said some pretty flirty stuff. Were you just saying that shit to embarrass me, or did you mean it?” 

The corners of Ethan’s lips perked up in a coy grin. “Oh, I dunno, you tell me, babe .” 

A beat.

Lex laughed nervously again, higher this time. “You’re such a fucking dork, oh my god.” 

Ethan mock pouted. “A dork? So mean.” 

 

Their noses were almost touching by now.

To her mortification, a tiny part of her desperately wanted Ethan to close the gap between them and kiss the shit of her.

Ok, maybe that part of her wasn’t that tiny. 

She squeezed her legs shut as a bead of sweat rolled down her temple. 

 

“You’re not… scared of me, are you Lexie?” Ethan asked slowly, his voice unusually low. 

Lex shook her head. “No. I’m not scared.”

“Your eyes are really wide, though. And you’re sweating.” Ethan noted. 

“It-it’s hot in here.” Lex fumbled out. 

Ethan cocked his head in confusion. “Not really. But if you want, I can turn up the AC.”

 

Wait, does he seriously not realize what position we’re in right now? 

 

“N-no, it’s fine. I like the heat.” Immediately Lex slammed her teeth down on her tongue, but it was too late. 

God, that was so cringe.  

 

They stared at each other for a moment.

 

“...Um. Anyways.” Lex cleared her throat. “W-we should prolly get home soon, yeah? It’s pretty late.” 

Attempting to keep her cool, Lex went to put on her seatbelt (despite Ethan still in her lap), huffing in irritation when the seatbelt wouldn’t budge. After a few tugs it came free– only to immediately snag on Lex’s shirt, lifting it up and exposing her bare waist.

Shit. On all the days I decide not to wear an undershirt… 

 

Neither spoke.

Lex could see his red face even in the darkness.

 

After what felt like a small silent eternity, Ethan grabbed the bottom of her shirt with trembling hands.

 

Lex’s heart leapt up into her throat. 

 

Is he gonna take off my shirt? Here?

Is he just gonna take off my top, or other clothes too?  

Will he like what he sees underneath?

Why aren’t I pushing him away? 

Shouldn’t I stop him? 

… I don’t want to stop him, though. 

Is there seriously a part of me that wants him to continue? 

(At that moment, that part of her was all of her.) 

 

She held her breath. 

 

...then Ethan pulled her shirt back down, clicked her seatbelt into place, and got off her lap. 

“Sorry the seatbelt can be a little janky sometimes. I’ll get it fixed sometime soon.” He apologized. “I’ll drive you home now.” 

 

Lex whispered what she was thinking.

“What the fuck.” 

Chapter Text

“Lex, Ethan. Come over here for a sec. We need to talk.”

Lex and Ethan glanced up from their phones to see Susie beckoning to them.

“What’s up, Sus?” Lex stuffed her phone in her pocket and walked over. “Something wrong?”

“No, no, nothing’s wrong. The opposite really.” Susie waved her hand dismissively. “So you know how I like to change shit up, yeah? Always inventin’ new shit. Even let the paranormals go buck wild at ten— to an extent.” She blew a strand of her dyed white hair out of her face. 

“Yeah, we know. I nearly broke a lead pipe last night. Scared the piss outta a customer.” Ethan popped his pink gum bubble with a snap. 

“See, over the weekend I rearranged some stuff and actually- hold on.” Susie dug around in her bag before pulling out two stacks of paper. “Here we go! I wrote two characters, and I want you to play em. Here’s your scripts.” She handed one stack to Lex and one to Ethan. 

 

“Murder Bride and Groom.” Lex and Ethan read out loud together, then looked at each other with wide eyes.

“Uh, Susie. While this is nice and all, Ethan and I are not officially a couple.” Lex said hesitantly, flipping through the script. “And this is some, um, pretty mushy stuff. There’s another couple working here, I’m sure they’d be happy to do this–”

“I know that, but they’re not the right type! You and Ethan are perfect for this role! I had people perform this 2 years ago, so we already got the costumes ready, and I’m confident they’ll fit you. Plus you get to be sprayed down with blood, without getting any in your fur this time Ethan, and that’s always fun! C’mon. You’ll be a hit.” Susie urged. 

“‘Our Mothers and Fathers did not approve of our love so we– oh, it says ‘roll ‘r’s here- corrrrrected them.’” Lex read. She scoffed. “ The Shining much?”

“You got the reference!” Susie beamed. “It’s cheesy, I get it. But you two are good at acting scary. Lex, you wanted to be a full time actress, right? Now’s your chance to test out a different role than ‘scary hissing vampire’ or ‘moaning mummy’ or what the fuck ever. You guys gotta be tired of playing the same characters over and over again for weeks, yeah? This is your chance to shake things up.”

 

Lex chewed on her lip. “There’s a lot of lines here. And you want me to do this tonight?” 

“If not, just… fuckin improv it. You’re smart. I believe in you.” Susie put her hands on her wide hips. “Short version of your backstory: You two are newlyweds who are madly in love, emphasis on madly. Your families didn’t like you getting married, so you axed ‘em all. And you gotta make it clear to the guests that if they try to get in you guys’ way, you’ll axe ‘em too. In fact, check this shit out.” Susie opened a bottom drawer and heaved out a large bouquet of red roses with a shiny hatchet poking out of the flowers, and handed it to Lex. “Fucking murder bouquet.”

“Bitchin!” Lex gasped in delight. She gingerly removed the hatchet from the bouquet, and began to swing it around, making swooshing noises. “Alright, you’ve convinced me.”

“Jesus, watch where you swing that thing!” Ethan moved out of the way. “What, you planning on killing your husband next?”

“Maybe.” Lex pointed the axe at Ethan. “I’ll kill my husband, then myself, Bonnie and Clyde style. Now that’s a tragic backstory.” 

“Pretty sure Bonnie and Clyde didn’t kill each other.”

“Yes they did.”

“No, that was Romeo and Juliet.”

Lex’s brows drew together, lips twitching into an expression of shocked disbelief. “No it wasn’t!” With a scoff, Lex rolled her eyes and continued, tone condescending as though she was explaining it to a child. “Romeo and Juliet didn’t axe each other. God Eth, didn’t you pay attention in English? I didn’t, but even I know that!” 

“Neither did fucking Bonnie and Clyde!” 

“You guys are adorable.” Susie muttered. “Stupid, but adorable.” 

“What?”

“Nothing, Lex.” 

 

“Do I get a weapon too? I want a weapon.” Ethan said, blowing another bubble. 

“Uh… I guess.” Susie pursed her lips. “Lemme see what we have in stock.” 

“I want a chainsaw.”

“Ohhh no you are not getting a chainsaw. We only have one chainsaw, and that’s for the Chaney the Chasing Chainsaw Clown. You know this.” Susie tsked. 

“A crossbow.” Ethan suggested.

Susie scowled. “I used to have one but then some dumbass accidentally shot a customer so I had to throw it out.” 

Lex raised her eyebrows in disbelief. “You kept a loaded crossbow as a prop?” She questioned, at which Susie shrugged.

“In my defense, I didn’t think anyone would actually fire the damn thing, and we do sort of have a reputation for handing out legitimate scares— and I can guarantee you that guy shit his pants, swear to—"

Ethan snapped his fingers and grinned. “A gigantic two handed mega sword.”

Jesus Christ Ethan, this is a haunted house not an anime convention!” Susie snapped with a roll of her eyes. “You think I can pull some anime JRPG sword out of my ass for you? It doesn’t even fit the damn theme!” 

Right. Because a loaded fucking crossbow does, but a badass sword doesn’t?

Great logic there, Sus.

Biting back the remark, Ethan raised his hands in defense. “Damn. Sorry. I just wanted a cool weapon.” 

 

“A- ha! This’ll do!” Susie pulled a fairly big axe off a shelf and tossed it to Ethan, who barely caught it.

“An axe? But Lex’s already got one though.” Ethan pointed out.

“Yeah, but hear me out: Axe lovers.” Susie spread her arms, as if presenting the best idea in the world.

A beat of silence passed between them. Ethan furrowed his brow. “Lex has a hatchet–” He started, though Susie cut him off by shaking her head, clicking her tongue disappointedly. 

“Ethan. Ethan . Buddy. Friend. Pal. Amigo.”

“Yes, Susie?”

“Consider this: The aesthetic.

Ethan sighed deeply. “Fine. Axe lovers.”

Susie pumped her fist. “Fuck yeah.” 

 

“Susie, you mentioned something about costumes, right?” Lex tilted her head. “What’re we gonna wear?”

“Uh, what do newlyweds usually wear? Oh yeah, that’s right. A fucking wedding dress and tuex. Duh.” Susie rolled her eyes again. “Bloodstained, of course.” 

“Please don’t tell me that there’s like, some crazy corset or lacing or some shit. I can’t stand that shit.” Lex groaned.

Susie shook her head. “Nah, just a zipper. And a petticoat.”

“A what?”

“Don’t worry about it, Lex.” Susie turned to Ethan. “Ethan, you ever worn a tux before?” 

“Nope!” Ethan replied confidently and with another snap of his gum. “Never had one, never needed one. The fanciest clothing I have is a plain collared shirt, and I never wear that.”

It always felt too stuffy, and the way the collar sat against his neck made it feel like he was getting choked out by the damn thing– and hey, some people might’ve been into that, and he wasn’t about to kinkshame, but Ethan Green? No fucking thank you. He’d prefer to not get strangled by a piece of clothing. 

 

From the way Susie reacted, he was fairly certain that wasn’t the answer she’d wanted to hear. “Great,” she mumbled, bringing one hand up to pinch the bridge of her nose, “and I know Lex doesn’t wear makeup normally.”

“I wear cherry chapstick!” Lex weakly protested. “That’s something.”

“Oh yeah, I see you put on cherry chapstick all the time.” Ethan noted, watching Lex do just that. 

 

It took every ounce of his willpower not to stare.  

Fuck, don’t do that. 

Don’t make this weird, Green. 

 

“It smells really good,” he continued, unable to keep his senses from betraying him when he inhaled. Being a werewolf had its perks, but in this instance, he was fairly certain that being able to smell her chapstick from where he was standing wasn’t exactly one of them, unless the aim of the game was to drive him up a fucking wall. “Looks nice too. Can I taste it, Lex?" 

Lex gaped at him. 

“....I dunno, Eth. Can you?” Lex returned slowly,  arching a brow. 

 

Shit. 

I didn’t mean to say that out loud in front of Susie.

 

“Uhh, forget what I just said.” Ethan felt his cheeks heat up. “I just wanted to make a joke about biting into it like a glue stick but it came out wrong.” He scrambled to explain, ignoring Susie fucking cackling in the background– at least she was getting a kick out of this. 

Lex laughed. “God, Ethan. I seriously thought you were trying to flirt with me for a sec there.” She ran her fingers through her hair, still snickering as she did. “Shit.”

“Were you trying to flirt back?” Ethan asked with a raised eyebrow of his own. 

“Maybe I was, Green.” Lex licked her lips, staring at him like a starving man in front of a 6 course meal.

 

“Good God. And you guys wonder why I placed you as a married couple.” Susie huffed. 

“Susie, please don’t say ‘Good God’. That reminds me of my Uncle, and I do not want to think of him right now.” Ethan grumbled. 

“My b.” Susie clucked her tongue. “It’s settled then. Lex, you go with your regular makeup artist Elissa. She’ll do your hair too.”

“Wait, my hair?”

 

“Ethan, Grant will take care of you. He’s the only male makeup artist we have anyways.” Susie continued. “We’ll meet back in an hour. Got it, get it, good.”

 


 

Whatever Ethan expected Lex to appear like, it wasn’t like this .

 

“Honestly Elissa, this bun is too tight and the fucking veil is scratching at my neck–” Lex complained as she stepped out of the dressing room, then stopped when she saw Ethan.

“Um, you look nice!” They blurted at the same time, then glanced away. 

 

Lex really did look nice. Her long tulle skirt brushed the floor, and the neckline of her satin bodice perched delicately on her shoulders. The once spotless white fabric had been purposefully marred with fake blood and red stains, but that didn’t make her any less beautiful. Her hair was neatly styled into a bun, a shiny barrette with a short veil attached to it holding the bun up. Her lips were painted a matte classic red which stood out against her pale complexion. 

The makeup artists had worked wonders, though it wasn’t like they’d hidden anything. If anything, all they’d done was enhance what was already there and make it pop in a way that instantly pulled Ethan’s breath from his throat. 

 

Shit, I’m fucking losing my mind here. This isn’t fucking fair. 

 

“Beautiful.” Ethan mumbled under his breath without thinking.

“Huh?”

“Uh, nothing! I-I said I like the dress.” Ethan stammered.

“Thanks, it’s not mine.” Lex smiled, and Ethan felt his heart rate double.

 

“Hold on, your bow tie’s crooked.” Lex muttered, stepping close and totally invading his personal space (not that he minded) to fix Ethan’s tie. He could feel her breath on his neck, smell the faint musk of the old dress and the subtle floral deodorant she always wore and her sweet chapstick; and not for the first time tonight he wondered how it would taste on her specifically. He bet it’d be different straight from the tube. He didn’t want that. He wanted her .

 

Christ, cheesy much? 

 

Sure , she hung out with him a lot, and okay, she’s flirted with him before, and fine, they nearly kissed a couple of times, but that probably didn’t mean anything. After all, they were just friends. Lex made that pretty clear after punting him into the friendzone a few weeks ago– even though he swore she flirted with him after that.

Nothing more than friends. 

Not that it stopped him from wanting more. 

Not in the fucking slightest. 

 

Struggling to remember how to breathe properly as her fingers brushed against the lapels of his jacket, Ethan ignored the fact that his heart was starting to flutter like a caged bird. His face felt warm. 

Lex finished straightening Ethan’s tie, but she didn’t step away just yet. “It’s near the full moon, right?” She said, her voice barely above a whisper. Gingerly she placed a hand on Ethan’s chest. She could feel his thundering heart, but didn’t comment on it. “You’ve gained some extra muscle.”

“Yeah, I have.” Ethan swallowed hard. “It was a little hard to get the shirt on, but I managed.” 

“I’m glad.” Lex scanned his body up and down. “Black and white are good colours on you…” trailing off, she shot him a smirk and broke the eye contact, eyes flicking down to the patches of fake blood speckled across his arms. “And red.”

“I’ll… make sure to remember that.” Ethan replied, his mouth suddenly dry. “And Lex–”

 

“Hey guys, sorry to interrupt your lil eyefucking sesh or whatever,” Susie clapped her hands hands on their shoulders, startling them both, “But I need to show you to your spots and instruct you what you gotta do, or you’ll be totally lost.”

The couple blushed horribly. 

“We- we were not eyefucking!” Lex whisper shouted. Ethan averted his gaze and didn’t say anything.

“Eyeflirting?” Susie tried again.

“Still no!” 

 

Ethan cleared his throat. “How about we fucking end this conversation and get on with the spooky shit?” 

Susie brightened. “So you’ll do it?”

“Sus, we’re both already dressed up. It’s a little late to say no.” Lex noted.

“Good, good!” Chirped Susie in delight. “Most important part besides scaring the customers is acting like you actually are newlyweds. Shouldn’t be too hard with the chemistry you two have. If you have any doubts, just improv it from the heart.” She took Lex and Ethan’s hands, and pressed them together. Without much thought they threaded their fingers together, the action feeling as normal as if they had done it a thousand times. Even while trying to play it cool, the slight flush in their cheeks was undeniably there. 

“Perfect!” Susie singsonged, clapping her hands together. “Now, let’s get down to business…”

There was an almost devilish lilt in her voice when she spoke up. Nothing too obvious, nothing like, actually malicious, either, but something in her expression made Ethan’s lips pull downward in a concerned frown, eyebrows arching slightly.

 

Relax. There’s no reason for you to be weird about this.

It was just an act. 

No big deal.

 


 

So it was turning out to be a pretty fucking big deal. 

 

They’d only been reading the script for about half an hour, but to Ethan, it felt like they’d been in the stuffy dressing room for days , and he was sweating to death in his costume— the collar of the shirt already attempting to strangle him.

Because surprise, sur-fucking-prise, even the costuming department had it out for him.

Bastards.

 

Raising one hand, Ethan hooked a clawed finger under the collar of his shirt and gave it a loose tug in an attempt to get some oxygen, mentally adding the bowtie to the list of things that had tried to kill him in the past twenty-four hours.

The costume department. Susie, with this fucking script — it was a miracle choking out those ridiculously sweet lines hadn’t given him diabetes or some shit like that— the moon, this shirt…

 

And also one Lex Foster.

 

Seriously, he knew she was a good actress, but it was almost like she was trying to make him lose his fucking mind. Yeah, the lines alone were enough to make his heart flip in his chest, but the way she said them? With that look?  

It wasn’t fucking fair. 

 

Even though the room was only lit with one dim overhead light that fizzled incessantly, Ethan could more than make out her appearance where she stood across from him, script in one hand, the other tangled in her hair.

“Hey, I don’t think you should touch that,” Ethan cautioned, “makeup gal will probably pitch a fit if you fuck that bun up—“

“Do you think anybody’d look totally fine after murdering their entire family?” Lex countered. “And besides, it’s my wedding night— I can fuck up my hair a little if I want to.”

Keeping her eyes trained on his, Lex’s lips curved into a smug sort of smirk as she fiddled with the clip keeping her hair in place. “Besides, it’s like, pulling tightly enough that I’m basically getting a free facelift. Now c’mon, from your line.”

Oh. Right.

“Shit, sorry, forgot whose turn it was.” 

 

Coughing, Ethan scanned through the paper as quickly as he could manage before settling on a line that was… probably right. Damn it— this was another problem that came with working with Lex. How the hell was he supposed to memorize his script if he couldn’t keep his eyes off her? 

It was just another thing the costume department had done specifically to ruin him, putting her in that dress that made her look even more stunning than usual despite the fake blood sprayed haphazardly across its frills— in the low light, if he squinted just right, he could almost pretend she was actually a bride to be, about to walk down the aisle with—

Jesus Christ, where the fuck did that come from?

 

Again, he cleared his throat, face turning a bright shade of scarlet as he struggled to get the line out. 

“Y’know, love,” he began, attempting to draw out the term of endearment, “I think this was the song we had our first proper dance to.” Skimming over the directions neatly printed on the same line— something about an old gramophone and a motion-activated music cue— Ethan attempted to read a little ahead.

Lex responded without missing a beat. “Really?”

“Really. It was at our wedding too. Shame, it was their last— oh, I’m s’posed to—“ cutting himself off by standing, Ethan scuffed the heel of the dress shoe he’d been loaned up against the floor in an exaggerated kick while Lex read the direction, eyebrows raising as she did.

“We get to kick fake body parts around?” She questioned, at which Ethan gave a shrug.

“I think it’s in a closet or some shit. We can ask Sus when we get the grand tour or whatever of our haunt.”

Lex nodded in response before sighing and glancing back down to the script. 

And we’re back in character .

“Oh? Is it really a shame, darling?” She purred out, the way she held herself changing in an instant— the relaxed and teasing demeanour she’d had being replaced by something almost sultry. “After all, they were in our way…” 

“Right, and then I take your arm here and…” Looking up at her (lovestruck, as the script suggested), Ethan flashed her his best smile, showing off his pronounced canines. “And a gentleman always clears the floor for his lady.”

 

Silence fell between them for a moment.

Their eyes met.

Is she blushing?

No, that couldn’t be it. It was probably just what the makeup department had done to colour her cheeks, that was all— add them to the fucking list and move along.

 

Scrubbing a hand down the front of his face, Ethan gave a soft laugh under his breath. “Okay, don’t tell Sus,” he started, glancing almost conspiratorially at Lex, “but this is probably the corniest shit I’ve ever fucking read.” 

Lex blinked. “I didn’t know you could read.”

“You know what? You’re right,” Ethan deadpanned, setting his script on the rickety table set up next to them with a soft thump, “I’ve been guessing my lines for the past half hour— gee, you’re so smart, Lex. How’d you know?”

Her response made his words catch in his throat.

“Well,” she mused, standing and moving toward the door before shooting him a smug smirk over her shoulder, “you barely looked at your script.”

 

Fuck.

 

Ethan watched her go, his mouth opening and closing wordlessly like a fish on land. 

He slumped down in his chair, staring at the ceiling.

 

This is gonna be a long ass night, isn’t it? 

 


 

Ethan was totally fucking right about that.

They’d managed to get in one read through while doing a walk of the little cabin setup they’d been given that Sus had affectionately dubbed the “murder hut”, and now, the two were standing, twin axes at the ready in the entryway, listening to the sounds of guests drawing nearer. From what he could hear over the thudding of his heart, they were going to be in for a couple of screamers, which would be a hell of a way to kick off the night. 

Screamers were the easiest to deal with. Just a few well-timed lunges, a couple of good lighting cues, and they’d put out his hearing entirely with whatever banshee wails they let loose in retaliation to his best acting. 

And also his axe. 

...probably more because of the axe. 

 

Raising the weapon, Ethan lightly tapped the back of it against one of the walls and hissed out a breath through his teeth. For fuck’s sake, forget about him being a “murder groom” or whatever, the only person dying was him , from anticipation– fuck, first lines–

Breathe, dumbass. It’s fine. 

It wasn’t a big deal. He was fairly certain he could recite the script- being in a haunted house attraction with a ticking clock to work against had worked fucking wonders for his memories– but reciting the script with Lex? Reciting a corny, flirty, fucking lovesick script with a girl he may or may not have been completely head over heels for– yeah, no big deal. Just another Sunday night for Ethan Green. 

Again, he thumped his axe against the wall. 

Who was he kidding? 

He couldn’t even look at her for too long without some weird warmth settling over him, and whenever they made eye contact, he felt the need to look away as though he’d done something wrong, which was bullshit.

Another thump from the axe.

Another deep breath inward, through his teeth in an attempt to not smell her chapstick. 

He was falling into a nervous sort of rhythm with it, not that he really minded. Anything to keep his mind off–

 

“You’re sweating a fuckton,” Lex interrupted his thoughts with a grin and a light tug at their conjoined hands. 

Oh yeah.

Conjoined hands.

Tugging back, once again hitting the axehead against the wall, Ethan gave a shrug. “This isn’t exactly the easiest costume to wear,” he grumbled, tugging at his collar again, trying to avoid accidentally swinging his axe at his face. “How are you holding up? Didn’t Susie say something ‘bout a petti… whatever? What’s that like? Is it scratchy or uncomfortable?”

And because I’m nervous holding your hand. That’s definitely a factor. 

Lex hummed. “It’s not the worst thing in the world. This stupid dress is so thin; so I need all the warmth I can get.” Her eyes flicked down to their linked hands. “Another pro to holding your hand: You’re really warm.”

Another pro? That implies there are other pros to holding my hand too.” Ethan joked. He ran his thumb over Lex’s. “But I have noticed your hand is less cold now than it was before we started holding hands.” He offered her a sweet smile. “I’d offer to warm up your other hand too, but we’re both holding something.” He pointed his axe at Lex’s bloody bouquet. “...Maybe later?”

“Maybe later.” Lex echoed with a sly grin. 

 

Ethan opened his mouth to say something else when his hearing perked up. “Damn, customers coming.” He muttered. Stupid people, interrupting our… whatever. Is this flirting? Goddammit, I’m probably overthinking this. “Remember our lines?”

“Of course I do.” Lex replied matter-of-factly. “You?” 

“Sure.” Ethan glanced at his “bride”. There was a strand of hair in her eye, and it was taking all of his willpower not to reach for it and gently brush it away. “Though improv works too.” 

His grip on his axe tightened. The noises of the upcoming group came closer, to the point where Lex could hear them as well. Ethan tensed and readied his lines. 

Right. 

Let’s fucking do this. 

Bringing his axe to his side and managing one last deep breath, Ethan felt Lex’s grip on his own tighten a smidge. Without thinking, he returned the gesture. A silent reassurance between friends was fine, right? 

 

He didn’t get time to think on it before the door creaked open, and like that, everything about him changed. A grin split across his face, and as he met the eyes of the first guest, he raised the axe and lunged

 

He was right about them being screamers. 

Fucking score

 

Slamming his foot down inches from where they stood, Ethan brought the axe down on the side of the doorframe with a sharp bang, earning another shout and the sight of the guests– a few girls that looked a little younger than the pair of them– huddling together under his piercing gaze. “I thought you said you cleaned up the last of them!” He snarled, giving the axe a yank despite the fact that it wasn’t properly stuck. 

“I did!”  

“Well,” Ethan grunted out, yanking at the axe between words, “then who the–” yank “– hell are–” yank “–they?” 

“I don’t know, I thought everyone…” Trailing off, stepping closer (much to the fright of the guests), Lex narrowed her eyes on the little group before her expression shifted. “Oh, these are–”

“Unimportant!” Ethan interrupted in a roar, and with a final heave, he hefted the axe above his head, making to give a final swing before--

“Wait!” 

Lex grabbed onto the back of his axe, stopping him before he could send it into the skull of the unfortunate girl standing in front of him.

“What?”

“They had to leave the wedding early, remember?” Laughing, sweeping past Ethan and forcing him to lower the axe to his side, Lex shot the group an unnerving smile. “Sorry about my husband, you know how they are– men , right?”

Under the expression of annoyance his character called for, Ethan fought back a smirk at the sound of the guests awkwardly returning her laughter. Nervous laughers were definitely another set of favorite guests– and from the high-pitched, force gale of giggles filtering through the air– it was clear that these guests clearly fell into that category as well. 

 

“Well, come on in! Would you rather be standing out there in the cold?” Lex questioned, gesturing broadly to the rest of their section as the four girls carefully walked past the duo, though not before one of them shot Ethan another cautionary glance. 

“...Yes,” she mumbled, wide eyes only leaving his to inspect the axe in his grip. 

Smirking, Ethan thumped it against the floor. “Tough luck,” he murmured in response, “after all, it’s rude to decline such a polite invitation, is it not?” Sliding in behind her and pushing the door closed with his heel, Ethan gave her a manic grin.

Suddenly, she didn’t seem all that interested in keeping an eye on him anymore. 

 

The group began to shuffle forward. Fear was radiating off them in a way that could almost be felt in the air. Ethan tried his best not to wrinkle his nose at the cloud of candy perfume from the girls invading his senses. Even though their section of the haunt was fairly well lit– faux candles scattered about the room and flickering quietly away– it wasn’t like being able to see the surrounding area was reassuring. 

If anything, seeing the blood-smeared setup was only going to make things worse for them, not that Ethan minded. The decoration crew had gone completely off the shits with this one. The white curtains hanging in the window had been sprayed down with blood, and as they moved further into the house, more and more details Ethan had missed in his nervousness began to come to light. 

 

“Sorry about the mess,” Lex cheerily called over her shoulder, “the reception got a bit… out of hand, you understand?” 

Ohhh , they so murdered everyone,” whispered one of the girls– the only one who was standing at her full height rather than with her shoulders pulled up to her ears, “and I bet–”

“Hey, babe?” Ethan piped up, shooting the chatty guest his most unnerving smile, “do you remember what we did to the last guest we had who talked too much?”

Without missing a beat, Lex laughed, nodding. “Your old uncle Rodger?” She supplied. 

“That’s the one! Poor old codger didn’t know when to just can it , huh?” He spat out the word like it was poison, but kept his tone light. 

Shit, we’re really far off script.

Mentally running through his lines in an attempt to find one he could tie in, Ethan kept the murderous leer on his face in spite of his racing mind and racing heart, not that his heart was racing because he was off script. 

No, it was racing because Lex had met his eye, and with a soft smile, given a laugh. “You do know it had to happen, don’t you, sweetheart?” She purred out, still leading the little group onward, “besides, it’s no real loss– he wasn’t using his tongue for anything important , anyway, though he did make an awful lot of racket…”

“Beforehand?” He inputted. 

“Oh, you never liked old Roger, did you?” 

As much as the conversation was morbid, it felt almost natural to be having it with Lex– anybody else wouldn’t have been able to get a proper laugh out of him while discussing fucking murder

“You didn’t, either. In fact, if I remember correctly… it was you who suggested the scissors.” 

Scoffing, Lex turned back to face where she was going. They were coming up on one of their only cues now– shit, the dialogue needs to get back on track. You used them!” She fired back. 

“Only because you said you didn’t want any blood on your dress… not that it really helped much.”  Clicking his tongue, he hefted the axe over his shoulder. For a moment, his gaze softened. “No matter how much blood you get on you, you’ll always be stunning to me.”

His stare shifted to the chatterbox, who by now looked thoroughly frightened. “I must admit, I quite liked using them, though. And I’ll use them again.” His smile dropped for a split second. “I find they’re quite effective in shutting people up. ” The girl whimpered, and the smile returned to his face, as if nothing had happened.

What? No! Shut the hell up Ethan! The cue’s coming up you dumbass.

 

“Some of ‘em were real fighters though. I was surprised Grandma Mary held on for that long.” Ethan said straight from the script, raising his eyebrows slightly at Lex. Lex nodded indiscernibly, and stealthily took the hatchet out of her bouquet. “I know there were some others that refused to go down. Oh, remember little Timmy? What a brat– then again, most middle schoolers are. Maybe if he had been a little nicer, he’d have made it to seventh grade.” One of the girls sucked in through her teeth and shivered. 

I don’t like that line either, lady. Killing kids is a little far– but this couple is fucking crazy, so it fits. Don’t like it, take it up with the Boss. Ethan silently agreed.

 

“Oh yes, Timmy took a while. You’d think being so small would make him go down easier but… apparently not. Twelve strokes did it, I believe.” Lex chuckled cruelly. “Uncle Jim was a fighter, so was Aunt Madeline and then–”

Suddenly a closet door burst open with a loud BANG!, and out sprang a repurposed zombie animatronic, all dolled up in pearls for the ill fated wedding that took her life. Without even flinching Lex swung her small hatchet into the sensitive spot on its neck, causing it to choke and gurgle fake blood, then collapse back into the closet. “Aunt Bertha! We were just talking about you! How’d you get out of the basement?” Lex threw back her head and laughed. She turned to Ethan. “Did you not lock the basement completely? Idiot.” She tsked and shook her head, though there was no malice in her insult.

“You- you killed that woman! How could you?!” Sniveled one girl. Ethan closed his eyes to prevent him from rolling them out of his skull. 

She’s not real, dumbass. ‘Bertha’ is an animatronic. Don’t cry over spilled blood and old metal. 

“She was gonna get me , though.” Lex pointed out. 

“She would have died sooner or later anyways. If anything, it’s a mercy kill.” Ethan added.

Lex pointed at him. “Exactly! A mercy kill. Right again, darling.” She winked. 

Ethan hoped his blush wasn’t visible in the candlelight. 

 

Lex led the group into the next room, with Ethan following them at the rear. It was a mini parlor, with a dusty cream couch, a few chairs surrounding a table, a small closet, a gramophone and a fake fireplace. “Here’s the parlor. It’s not much, and again, I must apologise for the mess.” Lex introduced, waving her hand.

“Mess…?” One of the guests whispered in confusion, before squeaking in terror. “Minnie, look!” She nudged her friend. “An arm! Behind the far chair.” Lex ignored her.

Ethan smiled to himself. This was one of his favourite parts, even if it was Cheesy with a capital Cheese. Quietly he snuck up behind Lex and placed a hand on her shoulder, flattening his lips to avoid smirking at her tiny jolt. That technically wasn’t in the script. 

 

“It’s small, but I think this is my favourite room in our little home. So many memories here.” He rubbed her shoulder. 

“You think so?”  

“Yeah.” He carefully tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear, before being distracted by a quiet rattling noise. 

Lex overdramatically grabbed his arm. “Babe? What’s that?” 

“I think it’s the closet. Let me check.” Ethan squeezed her hand, and walked over to the closet, frowning when it rumbled.

“Ten bucks says there's totally gonna be another animatronic in there.” Whispered the chatterbox girl to Minnie, though her voice did waver minutely when Ethan stepped a tad too close to her for her liking.

After an exaggerated pause, Ethan flung open the closet to… nothing. 

“Anything?” Lex asked.

“Nope, nothing there babe! Except for what’s left of Aunt Madeline.” With that, he pulled out a woman’s severed head. The house’s makeup artists were (as always) fantastic, so the head looked disgustingly realistic. The hair was grey and tangled, the glass eyes rolled up in her sallow, bloody face, the severed stump of her neck a gory mess. 

One of the girls screamed and slapped her hand over her mouth. Another looked like she was about to faint. 

Ethan suppressed a grimace. God please don’t fucking pass out, it’s the beginning of the night and fainters are always such a pain in the ass–

Subtly Ethan kicked the bottom of the closet, causing several body parts to spill out. He scowled in fake annoyance. “Ugh, damn. Hate when that happens.” He shot an apologetic smile at Lex.

Lex sighed and put her hand on her chest. “Thank goodness. I thought it was going to be something actually scary.” As she moved towards Ethan, the gramophone began to softly play classical music when she stepped on a certain floorboard.

 

“Y’know, love,” he started, emphasizing love , “I think this was the song we had our first proper dance to.” 

A nostalgic smile spread across her face. “Really?” 

“Really. It was at our wedding too. Shame, it was their last dance as well.” Ethan kicked away a leg on the floor, presumably one of Aunt Madeline’s. 

“Oh? Is it really a shame, darling?” Lex purred, her tone shifting from nostalgic to sultry. “After all, they were in our way…”

Ethan hummed in agreement and dropped the head. It rolled over to rest at one of the girls’ feet, drawing a horrified squeal. “True.” He gazed down at Lex, appearing absolutely smitten (which wasn’t hard to do), and offered his arm. “And a gentleman always clears the floor for his lady.” 

 

Wait, are we supposed to dance? I don’t know how to fucking dance.

Uh.

Shit. 

Lex, please help me out here. 

 

“Fix your tie first, dear. I know you enjoy playing with severed body parts but really, you should at least be presentable while you do it.” She jokingly scolded, straightening his bowtie once again.

His breath caught in his throat.

She was so close .

Looking down at her as she focused on his tie, Ethan could feel his heart threatening to burst from his chest— god, she could probably feel it under her fingers with how fucking crazy it was going, but he couldn’t help it. She was right there.  

Ethan wanted to pull her into his arms, stroke her beautiful cheeks and put his lips on her–

Whoa.

Slow down there, tiger.

Wolf.

Whatever. 

 

Ethan tried to keep his voice steady. “Thanks.”

Lex winked at him again teasingly.

God, Lex Foster was gonna be the death of him someday, he just knew it.

 

(Truthfully, Lex didn’t have much dancing experience either, but she had seen enough movies to at least know how to sway.) 

 

Lightly Lex took Ethan’s hands and placed one at her waist, and squeezed the other one. “Just sway to the music, k?” Lex mumbled lowly. 

 

“How many wedding nights have we had by now, my love?” Murmured Lex, just loud enough for the girls to hear.

 

“My love.”

God, why do those two simple words sound so good when she says it, yet so cheesy when it’s anyone else? What the fuck. 

 

“I lost count.” Ethan replied. “Each as wonderful as the last.”

“It doesn’t matter, does it? We’ll celebrate our wedding night every night, forever and ever and ever.” Lex moved closer and wrapped her arm around his back. 

“Till our bodies rot.” 

Lex took their joined hands and pressed it on Ethan’s cheek. “Darling?”

“Yes?”

“As much as I do love what we’re doing… there does happen to be an audience.”

 

...oh.

Right.

Was it bad that he’d almost forgotten?

Probably.

 

Ethan blinked, lazily looking up to shoot the girls a smile. “Oh, yes. Do you want me to kill them for you?”

The girls shrank back, with one laughing nervously and shaking her head. “No thanks!” The talker responded, voice bordering on shrill. “Like, hey, it’d get us out of student loans, but it seems a little extreme… though I’d go for Minnie first, just sayin’—“

PLEASE don’t do that!” Minnie interrupted, paling about three shades when Ethan made a face of consideration and reached for his axe.

“Is that so?” He asked, voice coming out in a low, threatening rumble. “I must say, I’m liking you more and more— perhaps you’d like to join our little family?” 

As Minnie fearfully shook her head and backed away, the other girl raised her eyebrows and held her ground. “...aren’t most of them dead?”

 

Before Ethan could come up with a response, Lex butted in.

Gone was the false cheer from her voice. "Oh… believe me, if you come near him—" she squeezed Ethan’s hand “—that can be arranged.” 

 

Chatterbox’s face fell the second Lex’s fingers drifted to the hatchet gleaming in her bouquet. 

Just like that, she was backpedaling. “Dude, hey– chill–” she sputtered, raising her hands against Lex’s icy glare. “I’m super mega not straight– I’m like the obligatory lesbian they throw into a horror movie to get the gays involved, so you can’t kill me first.”

Visibly shaking, Minnie raised her head. “...not until the second act at least.” She corrected, voice barely rising above a whisper.

Ethan bit down as hard as he could on the inside of his cheek to keep a burst of laughter contained. 

For a first set of guests, these girls were definitely not the worst thing that could’ve happened to them despite the fact that only three of them looked genuinely scared.

The fourth just looked fucking offended.

“Hey– you know what, fuck that negativity, I’m a final girl and you–”

“Final girls have to be virgins , Jess.”

“Oh, like you’re gonna complain about that.”

 

Pfft. 

Fuck, keep it together.

Shit.

 

Looking back to Lex in an attempt to ground himself, Ethan struggled not to shudder under the force of his repressed giggles, practically choking them back when he met Lex’s eyes and exhaled slowly. 

“...can I cut their tongues out now?” He asked, putting a bit of a whining lilt into his words. “It’d just be so easy!”

On the word easy, he spun on a heel, snatching up the axe in a flurry of movement that sent Minnie scrambling almost into Jess’ arms and pried a squeal from the once chatty girl– though it turned into a full-on brace for impact when Ethan made to swing and–

 

Lex grabbed onto his arm.

A cold chill shot across his skin under her touch.

“No, that won’t be necessary,“ she chided, easily prompting him to lower his weapon and guiding him back to where they’d stood moments ago— raising her hands to lace together on the back of his neck.

The next chill he felt wasn’t just from the cold.

It couldn’t have been. Not when she was looking at him like that— with her eyes half closed and her lips curled upwards at the corners in an almost self satisfied smirk.

 

Her fingers trailed down the front of his costume to settle at his collar, lightly tugging on his bowtie. “They haven’t done anything to get in the way of our love… yet.” Lex buried her face in Ethan’s chest and took a deep breath, letting out a satisfied sigh. “They seem like smart enough girls…”

She clicked her tongue in the direction of the chatterbox and sighed. “ Most of them, anyway,” she corrected, earning a startled laugh from Minnie. “I think they know that if they try to do anything, they’ll join Aunt Madeline and Bertha and Rodger, and all the rest of our… unfortunate family.”

Now the entire group of girls were shaking their heads, Minnie doing so more frantically than the others. 

Ha. 

 

“You know I’d do anything for you, babe.”

Ethan was being sincere, this time.

“Honestly? Couple goals.” Whispered Minnie.

Lex shook like a leaf in a hurricane in Ethan’s embrace.

Mainly from trying not to laugh.

Ethan was having a very difficult time keeping a straight face as well. Though the red on his face could be written off as just heat from his costume, he knew damn well it was from holding his breath, knowing if he let it out, he’d break character completely. 

 

The song on the gramophone ended, signaling that they needed to get their asses to the next room (though they should have gone a long time ago). If Ethan remembered correctly, there was an animatronic around the corner- nothing fancy really, just a bloody hand and begging for help. He was told it often scared the shit out of people though, so he was excited to see- or hear- what these total screamers would do. 

“Parlor fun time is over, girls.” Lex jerked her head in the direction of the door and parted with Ethan, who immediately missed the feeling of her in his arms. Sure her skin was like ice, but it just felt so right to hold her. 

Act more, pine later Ethan. Jesus. 

 

As he followed behind, he caught bits and pieces of their hushed conversation.

“So like, do you think they’re actually dating?” Jess whispered to Minnie.

“Who, the actors?”

“Uh, yeah. Did you just see them just now? I could cut through that tension with a knife!”

“I dunno Jess, that’s a little presumptive–”

“Or at least the guy likes her. And I bet the girl knows it too. Like damn, did you not notice that they were making serious goo-goo eyes at each other the entire time? If she had a boyfriend, oh man, that would suuuuck for the poor actor guy. She’s pretty hot– Minnie, don’t look at me like that, she’s not my type and you know it. I don’t think she has a boyfriend, though; if she does then that boyfriend better fuckin’ watch out for lover boy over there, he boutta steal his girl!” Jess snickered. “But even if she was single, she doesn’t seem like the type to just string boys along for funsies. At least that’s the vibes I got from her.” 

“They’re actors , they’re supposed to act like they’re in love!” Minnie pouted.

Jess rolled her eyes. “Whatever. Fifteen bucks says they’ve already made out- or are going to. Ooh, maybe they’ll kiss as part of that act! That’d be cute.” 

“You were wrong with your bet the last time. And it’s not cool to butt your nose into strangers’ love lives, ya know.” Minnie pointed out. 

“You–” Jess opened her mouth, paused, closed it, then opened it again. “Shut up.” 

 

Ethan's mind was racing as he listened, trying both to quell his insecurities that they might be right and focus on remaining calm, but damn it was hard. 

Am I really that obvious?

If these random girls can tell, then Lex probably knows as well.

Shit. 

 

“Maybe we need to sing Little Mermaid’s ‘Kiss the Girl’–

SNIP SNIP, girls!” Ethan suddenly interrupted them, his abrupt appearance making them jump. He couldn’t allow them to get too loud and risk the chance of Lex hearing them. 

“Weren’tcha listening when I told you about old codger Rodger? I did it to him, I can do it to you.” Ethan continued. “Got the scissors in my pocket. Wanna see?” Both girls shook their heads rapidly. “Good.” He put his finger to his lips and shot them a blood chillingly creepy grin, which seemed to shut them right the fuck up.

He was really glad they didn’t take him up on that offer. He didn’t actually have any scissors.

 

The rest of the “murder hut” tour went surprisingly quickly, and other than overly mushy lines and morbid quips (including a joke that a ghost in another section of the house was Ethan’s decapitated cousin) it was unremarkable. They jumped at all the jumpscares, shivered at Lex and Ethan’s creepy subtle threats hidden behind sweet, too-wide smiles, yada yada yada.

(Though Ethan did catch Jess flashing him a thumbs up and nod her head towards Lex with a wink before leaving.)

 

Ethan both hoped and dreaded that there would be more customers like the girls. Screamers and banterers were always fun to fuck with, especially now that he actually could do other things besides growl and do other scary miscellaneous werewolf noises. But there were always those annoying customers who refused to be scared and made snarky comments the entire time. Those and the customers who tried to touch everything- and everyone- were the fucking worst .

There were some pros, of course. 

Any time past 10 PM is what Ethan nicknamed “Apeshit Hours”. 

Usually that meant that the monsters who worked there could be extra, um, monstrous and fuck with the props (though Ethan and Lex had to appear human for these roles. Shame). 

 

Ethan did pretend to accidentally chop off his arm, then threw the bloody severed arm prop at a poor, particularly squeamish girl. 

The look on her face? 

Fucking priceless. 



Any awkwardness that Lex and Ethan had in the beginning had disappeared by the time the night was over. Their jokes and endearments left their lips easily, like they had been together for decades instead of just knowing each other for months, and ‘dancing’ together felt as natural as breathing. 

He even took a chance and kissed her hand once, and was rewarded with a faint but still there blush and embarrassed smile. And a whoop from an audience member. 

 

In Ethan’s very humble opinion, he deserved to get a fucking medal for surviving the night. 

One of those big old fancy gold ones— silver would fuck him up, after all, and he’d definitely earned first prize, none of that second place bullshit, and it’s have to one that seemed absolutely cartoonish in size. Just to compensate for the fact that keeping himself from collapsing dead on the floor was a nightmare scarier than anything they had in the haunt. 

Especially with Lex.

Honestly, surviving Lex was the hardest part of all. 

A lot of guests were screaming externally when Lex and him jumped out at them or threateningly swung their hatchets, but Ethan? 

Ethan was screaming internally every time Lex fixed him with her brilliant red lipped smile, or touched his arm or hand, or held him real tight.

 

What felt like an eternity later, Ethan and Lex watched the last- yes , fucking finally the last- of the group trail into the final room where they waited. Both Lex and Ethan were nocturnal creatures who thrived at night, true, but they were tired of repeating the same lines over and over for every single group for like 6 hours. Even when throwing in bits of improv, the overdramatic script had become boring. 

 

Well.

Not the affectionate parts.

Those were the best parts of the script.

They never got old. 

 

“Goodbye, my dear guests. See you… in Hell.” Lex murmured her last lines of the night, staring (according to the script) lovingly at Ethan. 

Ethan hesitated. 

Shit, what was my line again? 

 

It was easy to get distracted when Lex was looking like that. 

Her once neat bridal bun had slumped down to rest at her nape, and more than a few strands of hair had fallen out, creating a soft frame of brown locks around her pale face. The single light from above illuminating the couple made her skin glow beautifully. And that look in her eyes, fuck, Ethan knew she was a hell of an actress but damn did it look sincere. 

Fuck, he was really in deep, huh?

 

Focus, Ethan, focus. Think of something quick.

Wait, I’m her ‘husband’ right? So I can say lovey dovey shit to her and have a good excuse. Great. 

Ethan picked up Lex’s hands and smiled. "Finally, we can be alone and in love forever, darling.” He wrapped an arm around her waist to pull her closer. “As long as we both shall live." 

 

When their eyes met, a thought crossed his mind. 

One that was totally fucking insane.

Do it.

God, he wanted to— the fact that her eyes were locked on his own only made the feeling grow, the thought getting louder by the second.  

C’mon.

The stall in the script was less than a second, though it didn’t make him any less aware of the fact that his heart rate was through the damn roof, and not just because of the small audience the pair had, no, it had something to do with those eyes, god, those fucking eyes and her expression and the fact that he could smell her cherry chapstick—

Fucking do it. 

Fuck it.

 

Praying to every dead god out there that his nervousness wasn’t showing on his expression, Ethan gently cupped Lex’s face in his hands and pressed his lips against hers.

 

The kiss was nothing fancy- no dramatic dip, no foot pop, no tongue- barely more than peck really, but that didn’t stop Ethan from feeling a wave of warmth rush through his body despite the fact that Lex’s skin felt almost icy. He wasn’t sure if it even really counted since it was all part of an act but goddammit, it was fucking real to him. He wanted to do more, kiss her deeper, whisper her name, move his hands to touch her silky looking hair but he couldn’t. There were guests; he couldn’t just makeout with her right there and then.

 

If she even wanted to makeout, that is. 

Who knows. Maybe not.

 

Ethan opened his eyes. Even in the harsh spotlight he could see Lex’s brilliant scarlet blush decorating her cheeks— the little blood she had in her body making her face turn red as she faltered. There was a split second where she looked genuinely caught off guard before she recovered, and even when she spoke up, she sounded almost breathless.

Or maybe that was just wishful thinking.

“Till death do us part.” Lex replied, never breaking eye contact. Ethan squeezed her hands one, two, three times.

The exit door behind them slammed behind them as the last guest left, but neither of them moved. Their eyes locked, their hands still laced together, both too lost in each other to speak. 

 

The motion-activated light shut off, plunging them into darkness and ripping them from their trance. Ethan immediately dropped Lex’s hands and stepped back.

“Fuck, I’m- I’m sorry!” Ethan sputtered. “I-I should have asked. I just- I just thought that it’d like, make the whole ‘married murder couple’ schtick more convincing, right?” He hung his head. “Sorry.” An embarrassed wolf like whimper bubbled up in his throat, but he pushed it down. 

 

Lex was quiet for a beat.

She touched his arm. “Ethan…” Ethan looked up.

She didn’t seem angry at all.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

Her eyelids lowered, and a small smile graced her face. 

“C'mon E,” She wrapped her arms around his neck, “that kiss back there wasn't good enough. Let's try that again."

“Wha–”

 

And then, her lips were on his.

 

It was nothing like their first kiss- or was this their first kiss? Lex’s mouth was hard, insistent, but it was far from unpleasant. It was like she had waited months to do that- and so had Ethan. He could taste her signature cherry chapstick, which tasted just as delicious as it smelled, under her red lipstick, slightly faded from hours of wear. They were cold- she was always cold, a stark contrast to Ethan’s ever-present warmth- but he didn’t mind, not at all. After a moment’s deliberation, Ethan decided to rest his hands at her waist, hoping his claws wouldn’t get tangled in the fluffy tulle of her long skirt. 

 

They pulled away, and bumped their foreheads together softly. Their fervent gaze let each know that they were thinking the same thing:

I want more. 

“Let’s try that again.” Lex repeated breathlessly.

 

It could have been mere minutes, it could have been half an hour, it could have been many hours, neither really knew how long they had been locked in a passionate embrace, kissing like they would never see each other again, and frankly, Ethan didn’t care.

His head was empty. 

Pleasantly so, though in the emptiness, a few thoughts flitted across the back of his mind, most of them of Lex, of how cherry chapstick tasted better off her lips than it would out of the fucking tube, and how her hands had moved back to his neck, fingers scratching lightly at his exposed skin, though one thought in particular made him grin against her lips.

Minnie owes Jess fifteen.

The only time that mattered to him was the time that was passing right now, and damn it, he was going to make the most of it. 

 

Moving gently, but firmly, Ethan pushed Lex backwards until her back hit the dark wall with a thump; in turn Lex wrapped a white clad leg around his waist. Every time they drew back for a breath they would dive right back in for an even more intense kiss. Their fangs clacked and their noses bumped and their borrowed clothes formed deep wrinkles from being grabbed on so tightly by clawed fists, but fuck it, who cares? Ethan’s stiff jacket had been pushed off his shoulders and a few shirt buttons were opened, freeing his neck from its cloth prison and revealing his lipstick stained collarbone. The barrette holding up Lex’s bun and veil had fallen to the floor long ago, leaving her hair to cascade down her shoulders and fuck yes , it was just as soft as Ethan imagined it to be. 

 

“Lexie,” Ethan whispered, trailing kisses from her high cheekbones to her jaw. “I…”

No.

He has accepted that he was in L-word with her, sure. But he was afraid that if he dared say those three little words out loud, he’d be rejected and lose their friendship. Maybe someday he’d pluck up the courage, but now was not the time. 

Not yet. 

 

He mentally shook his head. “Nevermind.” He said instead, and kissed her again. Slowly he moved his hands up her back until he reached the top of her zipper. “Can I?” He murmured against her lips, teasingly tugging the slider down an inch. 

Lex bit her lip. “Um, o-ok. But uh, I’m not wearing a bra. Or an undershirt. Is that ok?” 

Ethan blinked. “Y-yeah, that’s fine.”

That’s more than fine, holy fucking shit. 

 

Slowly he unzipped Lex’s dress to her mid back, watching as her bodice slumped forward. 

“God, you’re so beautiful.” He murmured before he could stop himself.

“Shut up, you sap.”

“I’m serious.” He insisted, letting his hand roam over the new expanse of skin and relishing in her shaky little gasp. 

Lex let her head fall to rest on Ethan’s shoulder, burying her red face in the crook of his neck. 

“Tell me if I go too far, k babe?” One hand dropped to squeeze Lex’s clothed thigh.  

“No, keep going.” Lex begged quietly, taking Ethan’s hand and moving it under her skirt. “Don’t stop. Please.” 

 

Neither heard the footsteps echoing in the distance.

 

Silently Ethan mouthed I love you onto Lex’s neck, but she didn’t seem to notice, or perhaps she didn’t mind.

“Nnnhh… Ethan, don’t leave super dark marks on my neck. Becky will kill me.” Lex’s hold on Ethan’s jacket tightened. “Or at least tease me, which is almost worse.” 

“Would you rather me leave marks somewhere else? Cuz I can do that.” Ethan purred. He squeezed Lex’s inner thigh this time, causing her to tip her head back and groan. 

 

He was about to lower himself to the ground when a distant voice made him pull his hands out from under Lex’s dress and jump away.

Lex’s eyebrows furrowed. “Ethan? What’s wrong?” She crossed her arms over her chest. “Do you want to stop?” 

Ethan held up a finger, tilting his head to listen, then grimaced. Fuck. Now? As much as he didn’t want it to be true, there was no denying the sound of footsteps and a voice approaching. “There’s someone coming.” He announced.

“Shit! Fuck.” Lex swore quietly. “Damn, how long were we… ya know.” She picked up the barrette from the floor and put it back on her head, not even bothering to put it in the right place. “Help me with my zipper.” 

Ethan shrugged. “I dunno. I sorta lost track of time,” he answered, claws fumbling with the zipper on the back of her dress for a moment– fuck , how come it’s so damn small? – before he got it. He buttoned his shirt back up and attempted to straighten his tie (trying not to tighten it to the point of strangulation like the fucking costumers did).

“Do I look ok?” Lex asked worriedly, trying in vain to smooth out her dress and fix her tousled hair. 

“You always look gorgeous, Lex.”

“No you idiot, I’m asking if I look presentable and not like I spent…” trailing off, she waved her hand before giving a huff. “The last however the fuck long that was making out with someone.” 

“Oh. Sorry.” Ethan tapped the corner of his mouth. “Um, you have a little something the–” 

 

“Blackshirt!” A loud voice interrupted. “Blackshirt coming through! Blacksh– ah, hey Ethan. Hey Lex. There you are.” Their section’s blackshirt, Rina, walked in. Her eyebrows raised as she took in the couple. “...Did I interrupt something?”

“No!” Ethan and Lex shouted at the same time, then glanced at each other. 

“No, you’re fine. Everything’s A-OK.” Lex assured, jumping over the stage’s railing and onto the regular path. 

“Really?” Rina did not seem convinced.

“Really.”

“Yep, all good.” Ethan climbed over the railing to join them. 

“Mm-hmm.” Rina narrowed her eyes. “Why’s your hair down, Lex?”

“Oh, when the customers left I took it out. It was pulled back too tight, and it was getting messy anyways. No reason to wear it if no one’s around.” Lex removed the barrette. “‘sides, the veil’s fucking itchy.”

“You do know that your lipstick’s smeared, right?” 

 

Both Lex and Ethan went pink. 

 

“She... sneezed. And she accidentally wiped it with her hand and it got smeared. There’s no mirrors around so she couldn’t fix it.” Ethan blurted.

Lex slowly turned to him with a “Are you fucking serious, dude?” look.

Ethan shrugged.

“...Yyyyeeah. What he said. It’s sorta chilly in here and this dress is pretty thin.” Lex rubbed her arms. “Brr.” 

 

“Also Ethan, your teeth are red, and I can see the lipstick marks shining through your shirt.” Rina noted.

Ethan blinked, frantically trying to think of an excuse. “Um, I uh, tried on her cherry chapstick. My lips were dry and Lex had some chapstick on hand so she gave it to me. Must’ve got some on my teeth. Silly me.”

Rina arched an eyebrow further. “And you decided to smear it on your collarbone too? Just for funsies?”

Neither Lex nor Ethan replied. 

 

Rina sighed. “You two are awful at lying. But I’m not paid enough to care, so I won’t tell Boss about… whatever you guys did.” She waved her hand. “But if the janitor finds anything–”

Lex and Ethan blushed even darker. 

“He won’t find anything! Seriously!” Lex insisted. 

“Yeah, we didn’t go that far.” Ethan added.

If looks could kill, Ethan would so fucking dead right now.

“Ethan Green, I’m gonna murder you.” Lex mouthed. 

Ethan just stared at the ground, trying to ignore Lex’s laser glare and Rina’s snicker. 

 

“Whatever. I don’t give a shit.” Rina crossed her arms over her chest. “By the way, they’re serving tacos for the actors in front of the house. If there’s even any left that is; it’s like, 1. So change out of your costumes, clock out, get your food and get out.”

 

Lex and Ethan raised their eyebrows at each other. 

1 o’clock?! We’ve been going at it for like, an hour already? Damn. 

 

“Got it. Thanks Rina.” Ethan nodded. “C’mon Lex. Time to get some fuckin’ tacos.”

 


 

Lex and Ethan walked side by side to the entrance. They were silent, but not uncomfortably so, the only noise being their soft footsteps and their breath slightly hitching every time their hands brushed against each other. 

 

“You know…” Ethan leaned down to whisper in Lex’s ear, “I liked that bun on you. It was really pretty. You’re really pretty.” 

Lex turned her head, and found herself close to Ethan. Really close. Close enough to see the tiny flecks in his beautiful blue-grey eyes, close enough to see his pupils expand until his irises were only thin rings against the darkness of his wide pupils. 

Lex suddenly remembered reading somewhere that your pupils dilate when you look at someone you love.

She wondered if her pupils were big too.

“Th-thanks.” She replied, internally cursing herself for stuttering. 

 

For a hot second, she considered kissing him again. 

It would be so easy. Just lean forward a centimeter and their lips would touch–

No. Not now. 

 

She didn’t know what the hell had happened back there, or why all of those emotions that had been building up over time had burst like a dam on tonight of all nights, while she was dressed as a fucking bride. Ethan’s bride. Even worse, they were this close to actually getting it on, while looking like some goddamn newlyweds. Hell, even thinking of them as a couple made her stomach twist, let alone being married

Would it really be so bad if she was with him, though? 

Ethan made her happy. He made her laugh, he was so sweet, he treated her nicely, and he was always there for her. He cared. Lex wasn’t used to that, and as a bonus he wasn’t too bad on the eyes, either. The extra muscle on him wasn’t exactly doing much to keep her eyes off him– hell, every time he did so much as stretch or fiddle with his shirtsleeves, her eyes were drawn to his arms, or his shoulders, or–

Fuck, get it together. 

 

Maybe now wasn’t the time to kiss him again, but she could still show affection… right?

Yeah, that sounded right. 

 

Carefully she slipped her hand into Ethan’s, and laced their fingers together, tenderly running her thumb over his. Ethan’s eyes widened, before his entire face lit up. He grinned- that cute fucking little grin that drove Lex wild, the grin that showed off his sharp white canines and his adorable dimples and fuck, I really like this idiot don’t I? 

He bounced on the balls on his feet a bit, and though he didn’t have it right now, Lex could practically imagine his tail wagging. 

His hand was warm against her cool skin, as if he was a human (werewolf?) space heater. They had held hands several times in the past– mostly platonically– but this time, it felt different.

 

No, no, no she couldn’t. As much as she secretly wanted to, she couldn’t fall in Love with Ethan.

Lex had had crushes before, maybe even a relationship or two. They didn’t last very long or even go very far, but still. 

She knew she was physically attracted to him, but there’s a difference between being lustful and in Love . Though she vehemently denied it, deep, deep, really fucking deep down, she knew that she felt both for Ethan. 

And that was fucking scary. 



Ethan Green deserved so much better than her. 

Obviously , Lex thought. 



He wasn’t very good at being subtle. She found that charming instead of annoying, strangely enough. 

So if he flirted, she’d smirk and flirt back, then immediately wish to swallow her tongue and take back what she said.

She didn’t know if she was giving him useless hope, or herself. 

 

Lex really liked kissing Ethan. 

She really, really did.

She liked how he could change from soft and sweet to hungry and intense at the drop of a hat, she liked how he played with her hair, she liked how he held her tightly and made her feel actually desired. 

Been a hell of a long time since she felt that.

If she could kiss him again without any consequences, without making their friendship weird, she would. 

But it’s a little too fucking late for that. 

She didn’t want a “friends with benefit” thing, either. Hell, if he kissed her again, like a real kiss, she’d probably fall even more for him. 



Ethan squeezed her hand one, two, three times, distracting her from her thoughts. And like the idiot she was, Lex squeezed his hand back. She didn’t really know what the hell the 3 squeezes meant, even though he squeezed her hand all the time, but it apparently meant a lot, based on the way his smile grew and his eyes twinkled. 

The only time they let go was to eat their food, and as soon as they were done, they were back to holding hands. 

 

“Hey Eth, I’ve been meaning to ask you- what does that little 3 hand squeezes thing you do a lot mean?” Lex asked, leaning back in the passenger seat of Ethan’s car. “You’ve done it to me a lot in the past, but I don’t recall you ever explaining it to me.” 

“Hmm? Oh, yeah. When I was a kid, I did this thing where when you squeeze someone’s hand 3 times it means, um,” He coughed into his fist, attempting to hide his nervous smile, “means that you like someone.” 

“Eth…” Lex bit her lip, but she was unable to stop the corners of her mouth from curling up. She took a deep breath, then quickly pecked Ethan on the cheek. “That’s so sweet.” 

 

Without realising, Ethan let out a small, high-pitched happy whine. Immediately he clapped his hands over his mouth, but it was too late.

“Wait.” Lex pressed her lips together to avoid snickering, but her shoulders shook. “Ethan, did you just whine?”

“No!”

“You totally did.”

“No I didn’t! I don’t– I don’t fucking whine!” 

“Then what was that noise?”

“...A throat gurgle.” 

“Sounded like a happy whine to me, Wolf Boy.”

“Was not!” 

“It was cute, though.”

Ethan got quiet for a moment.

“...Was it really?”

“Yeah.”

“I’m not supposed to be cute. I’m a– I’m a manly man.”

Lex snorted. “Bull fucking shit. That was a whine, and you are not a ‘manly man’- and that’s ok, by the way. I like you just the way you are.” She nestled her head on his shoulder. “Admit it.” 

“Alright, ya got me.” Ethan rested his head on top of hers. “I’m in a good mood, ‘sall.” 

Lex squeezed Ethan’s hand one, two, three times. Ethan made another soft excited whine, and this time Lex couldn’t stifle her laugh.

“You did it again!” She buried her face in his neck to conceal her grin. 

“I’m sor -ry!” 

“Let’s go home Ethan.” Lex sighed, closing her eyes. “It’s like, nearly 2 AM ‘n I’m fucking tired.” 

“Yeah.” Ethan started up the car with a rumble. “Let’s go home.” He echoed.

 

The last thought that crossed Lex’s mind was how Ethan had been squeezing her hand for months now, which means… he’s liked her a long time.

For some reason, that made her feel warm and happy inside.




 

Things were different after that.

A good kind of different, as far as Ethan was concerned. 

 

They held hands more often. 

Mostly while acting as the Murder Couple, but occasionally not. 

A few reviews on Yelp even mentioned how “the Murder Bride and Groom are not only scary, but definitely seem like a natural pair”. 

 

Lex found herself surprisingly more than fine with kissing her "husband" as part of the "act" again. Nothing too risque of course, but she quite enjoyed getting a half a dozen kisses a night, even if they were more pecks than actual smooches. As long as she didn’t fall in love it was fine, right? 

Ethan was even more ok with it than Lex was. Though there had been no more impassioned makeout sessions other than that special night, as long as he was near her, that was good enough for him. Each night he said different romantic things, some purposefully corny and some absolutely sincere, but (un?)luckily Lex seemed to believe it was all part of the “act”. 

It wasn’t, but she didn’t need to know that.

Chapter Text

“So, you finally did it. Congrats you two.” Deb sauntered up to Lex and Ethan’s lunch table. 

Lex blinked. “Excuse me?”

“For getting it over with and kissing I mean. Whole school’s talking about it.” Deb said. “Between us, did you go any farther? Don’t gotta tell me if you don’t want to, though.” 

 

Lex and Ethan both went incredibly red.

 

“W-what the fuck? The hell you mean, the school’s talking about us kissing??” Lex whisper-shouted, her face burning. 

“You guys work at the haunted house right? One kid saw you kiss while on a tour last night. Said it was only a peck, but still.” Deb explained. “We all sorta suspect something more probably happened afterwards. Sooo are you dating or not?” 

 

They glanced at each other.

 

So no one saw us actually makeout. Just the tiny kiss. That’s good. 

 

“No, no, we’re not dating. Of course not!” Lex shook her head, not noticing Ethan’s face falling. “We were playing this like, murderous groom and bride, and the script called for a kiss, since we’re ‘married’ and all. Right Ethan?”

“Y-yeah, right.” Ethan mumbled, averting his eyes.

Deb narrowed her eyes, obviously not believing them. “Really? So all you did is kiss? Nothing else?” 

“Nope, nothing else.” Lex confirmed. 

 

That’s a damn lie. We got to 2nd base before we were interrupted. Plus I literally shoved his hand under my skirt… God, I get embarrassed just thinking about it. 

But it felt so good I almost didn’t want to stop…

 

“Lex. Lex. Earth to Lex!” Deb snapped her fingers in front of Lex’s face, breaking her out of her lustful trance. 

“Huh? Sorry. Zoned out there.” Lex blinked a few times. “What were you saying?” 

“I said you’re a shitty liar, but if you’re that damn adamant about no romo-ing the whole thing, then I won’t press anymore.” Deb repeated flatly. “Also you’re an idiot.”

Lex scowled. “I am not an idiot!” 

“You’re a blind idiot, and he’s a dumbass simp.” Deb pointed to Lex then Ethan, who sank down slightly in his seat. “A little advice from me to you; you guys should clear up whatever is going on between you because rumours spiral, and it’d really suck if your reputation got even worse than it already is because of some shitty gossip. Deuces.” With a quickly flashed peace sign and click of her tongue, Deb walked off, leaving behind a stunned Lex and Ethan staring after her. 

 

“...What does adamant mean?” Ethan asked quietly.

“Like, insistent. Stubborn. Refusing to change.” Lex replied, trying to ignore the knots forming in her stomach. 

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

“...You wanna skip school and head home early?”

“Sure, E. I don’t feel like going to math class anyways.” 

 


 

“So, um, Lex.” Ethan started, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel as they sped down the road towards Lex’s house. “About what happened last night during the act… was that like, a one time thing? Or do you wanna… I dunno, do that again?”

Lex blinked. “What do you mean?”

“I mean like, when I gave you a little peck as the Murder Husband or whatever. Not… the other kiss.” Ethan was trying his damned best to keep his voice level. It didn’t work. “If you’re so worried about people thinking that we’re dating, then we can kiss more often as the Murder Couple and say it’s part of the script. Consistency is key or whatever.” 

“What if Susie catches wind of us kissing? She knows that’s not in the script.” Lex pointed out.

Ethan scoffed. “Susie is fucking weird. She’d prolly be excited for us or some shit.”

“I mean… I guess.” Lex chewed on her lower lip. “But nothing too risque ok? Just small kisses. Don’t wanna gross out the audience or whatever.” 

“Oh, definitely. Like, we’re actors right? And actors kiss all the time, s-so it’s no big deal.” Ethan attempted to shrug it off, internally cursing himself for stammering.

 

Lex was quiet for a moment.

“But that kiss after work… that– that was real, right? You weren’t just acting, were you?” She asked quietly.

“What? Wha– no! No, of course not!” Ethan rushed, cheeks burning. “That was 100% real. Promise.”

“Okay. Because I wasn’t acting either.” With that Lex looked out the window and fell silent. 

 

Fuck. I fucked it up and made shit awkward. 

I’d hope she wasn’t acting, considering she was the one that kissed me first.  

 

“...Wanna choose the music?” Ethan asked out of the blue, trying desperately to break the awkward silence. “My phone’s already hooked up to the stereo. Just type in what you wanna play.”

“O-oh, sure.” Carefully taking Ethan’s phone, Lex searched up her desired song and hit play.

 

“I guess they call it the sophomore slump

Always crying and always drunk

A few dead more gone the rest well on their way

Thanks! I hate it.

 

So everyone that I love is stuck

Because this that, the other, and the state fucked up

We covered it in a class that I’m about to fail.”

 

Ethan grinned. “Excellent choice.”

“Thanks. It’s a comfort song of mine.” Lex smiled tightly. 

 

“Trash on the walls and trash on the floor

Liquid eyeliner stuck to the door

Screwing everything up and doing everything wrong

In my defense I wasn’t supposed to be around this long, so

 

Well I feel better now

Cigarette Ahegao

No need to cry about it

I don’t smoke, I just like how it smells.” 

 

“Speaking of cigarettes, there’s a pack in the door pocket if you want.” Ethan offered. “You seem… I dunno, tense.” 

“Sorry. I just got shit on my mind. I’ll be fine, though.” Lex apologized, but pulled out a cigarette anyways and lit it, glancing out the window again. However, the tightness in her shoulders and her guarded posture seemed to loosen a little. 

 

Get it together, Ethan. As long as you’re careful, everything will be fine. Just hold yourself back, stick to just pecks during the act, and it’ll all turn out ok. 

 


 

And it did. 

Sort of.

Even after kissing each other dozens of times every weekend for weeks, their friendship remained strong.

Though every kiss made Ethan fall for Lex more and more, until he was completely and utterly enamoured with her. 

 

Lex felt the same way, but she didn’t show it nearly as much. 

Keyword being as much. 

 

Though neither would openly admit it, something shifted in their relationship after the kiss. 

They both knew they liked each other. They both knew how their bodies felt under their hands. They both knew how they liked to be kissed, how they liked to be touched– albeit above the belt. 

Yet neither acted on their desires. They were too scared, really, too scared to lose the friendship they had so carefully built back after Ethan’s breakdown.

The first time Lex realised she loved Ethan- romantic love, not platonic- she cried. 

Ethan had no idea she loved him– he knew she was physically attracted to him, but romantically? For all he knew, his affections were completely one-sided. 

Even though that couldn’t be further from the truth.

 


 

“I got too high again when I realized I can't not be with you

Or be just your friend

I love you to death but I just can't,

I just can't pretend we were lovers first

Confidants but never friends

Were we ever friends?”

 

Ethan sighed, his marker squeaking slightly as he scribbled down the name of a song on the back of a cassette tape. He flipped the tape over and adjusted the headphones in his ears, gazing at the name written in bright blue Sharpie. 

 

“But when your stitch comes loose

I want to sleep on every piece of fuzz

And stuffing that comes out of you, you

I took too many hits off this memory

I need to come down

 

An-n-n-n-n-n-nother day goes by

So hold me tight, hold me tight or don't

Oh no, no, no, this isn't how our story ends

So hold me tight, hold me tight or don't” 

 

After one last drag, Ethan smushed his spent cigarette into his bedside ashtray. “Hope she’ll like it.” He whispered to himself, trailing his thumb over the slightly smudged letters. 

 

Buzz buzz. 

Ethan checked his phone. Speak of the devil.

 

Lexie 🥰💕❤️ (1:34): You still up?

Ethan (1:34): ya 

Lexie 🥰💕❤️ (1:35): I can’t sleep 

Ethan (1:35): me too 

Ethan (1:35): want me to come over and vibe 

Lexie 🥰💕❤️ (1:36): nah, Tom is staying over and he’s not as chill as Becky about you coming over unannounced lol. plus idk if they’re asleep yet

Ethan (1:36): ive never gotten cot tho 

Lexie 🥰💕❤️ (1:37): ….you mean caught?

Ethan (1:37): not my fault theres so many extra letters its stupid 

Lexie 🥰💕❤️ (1:38): true lol

Lexie 🥰💕❤️ (1:39): but if you’re fine with staying up a little longer we could maybe chat?

Ethan (1:39): hell yeah. i love talkin to ya babe

Lexie 🥰💕❤️ (1:40): oh Susie sent me this Yelp thing that talked about us

Ethan (1:40): what the hell is a Yelp thing

Lexie 🥰💕❤️ (1:41): It’s like this site where you review places

Ethan (1:41): oh

Lexie 🥰💕❤️ (1:42): anyways the review was like “my fave parts of the house were blah blah blah and the Murder Couple. They were really creepy and I’ve never seen a murder couple, only murder brides before. The chemistry was insane, and I hope in future seasons we see more of them” 

Lexie 🥰💕❤️ (1:42): Crazy right?

 

Ethan’s heart leapt into his throat.

 

Ethan (1:43): haha yea wack

Lexie 🥰💕❤️ (1:43): I mean I wouldn’t mind doing the murder couple thing again next year. wbu?

Ethan (1:44): totally. love doin the murder couple

 

Anything to kiss you more. 

 

Ethan (1:45): just hope the costume ppl stop strangleing me w the tie next time 

Lexie 🥰💕❤️ (1:45): is that why your face is red all the time? 

Ethan (1:45): yea 

 

That and every time you kiss me I feel like my heart’s gonna fucking explode. 

It was like Lex could read his damn mind.

 

Lexie 🥰💕❤️ (1:46): Not bc of anything else?

 

Swallowing, Ethan tried his best to ignore the warmth rising to his cheeks as he thumbed out his answer. 

 

Ethan (1:47): what r u sayeing?

Lexie 🥰💕❤️(1:47): dunno

Lexie 🥰💕❤️(1:48): what do u Want me to be saying?

 

Shit.

Shit, what do I say?

What the fuck was he supposed to say? 

Was she flirting? 

Fuck , he was bad at this. 

Do I flirt back?

...no. 

 

Ethan (1:48): oh so that’s how u spell it? Saying?

 

...nailed it.

 


 

“God, what a dork.” Lex murmured fondly to herself, smiling at Ethan’s message. Exhaling, she applied one last coat of black nail polish to her pinky, then carefully screwed on the nail polish cap, humming along to her music.

 

“So I moved to California but it's just a state of mind

It turns out everywhere you go, you take yourself, that's not a lie

Wish that you would hold me or just say that you were mine

It's killing me slowly”

 

Quickly Lex blew on her newly painted nail in small bursts, trying to speed up the drying process. She knew painting her nails at nearly 2 AM while listening to music that made her feel weird wasn’t the best idea, but insomnia was a bitch and she was tired of filling her old cracked polish with black Sharpie. 

 

“Dream a little dream of me

Make me into something sweet

Turn the radio on, dancing to a pop song

Fuck it, I love you

Fuck it, I love you

Fuck it, I love you

I really do”

 

Fuck it. What a wonderful phrase and attitude.

 

Truthfully, there were more than a few times when Lex seriously considered going fuck it and kissing Ethan again, for real. But that’d only lead to more trouble. 

Like a sickly sweet slow acting poison, every kiss, no matter how small, gradually weakened Lex’s resolve to stay platonic until she was powerless to her own turbulent thoughts and feelings. 

She thought about that night more often than she’d like to admit.

...Sometimes she even fantasized what would’ve happened had they not been interrupted. 

She always felt guilty after imagining that. Guilty of thinking those sort of thoughts about her friend, guilty about how her body reacted to those thoughts.  

 

“It turns out California's more than just a state of mind

I met you on the boulevard, wind through my hair, you blew my mind

And if I wasn't so fucked up, I think I'd fuck you all the time

(I really do) It's killing me slowly” 

 

In spite of herself, Lex bit her lip at the line “And if I wasn’t so fucked up I think I’d fuck you all the time” .

Can’t believe I’m relating to a fucking Lana del Ray song. Jesus. 

But Ethan deserves better than me. Ethan deserves someone who’s not a neurotic freak like me who can’t make up her mind about important shit. 

Ethan deserves a person that’s as wonderful as him. And I’m not that person. 

 

Pushing that thought out of her head, she texted him back.

Lex (1:50): yes that’s how you spell saying dummy

 

Greesed Litening (1:51): n e ways isnt it fucked up how brits n canadians say zed instead of z

Lex (1:51): what the fuck are you talking about

Greesed Litening (1:52): non american english ppl pronowns the leter Z as “zed” 

Greesed Litening (1:52): was watching a brit ytber n he said zed and i was like >:0 omg

Lex (1:53): wtf

Lex (1:53): I don’t believe you 

Lex (1:54): ...how do they sing the alphabet song then 

Greesed Litening (1:54): no fuckin clu

Greesed Litening (1:54): ig it doesnt rime 

Lex (1:55): guess not 

Greesed Litening (1:55): btw ur mixtape is almost done :)

Lex (1:56): oh yeah? how many songs

Greesed Litening (1:56): a lot 

Lex (1:57): sick 

Greesed Litening (1:57): ya

Greesed Litening (1:58): ah shit Ollies yelling at me for having my music to loud and to go tf to sleep

Lex (1:59): aww really? damn 

Lex (1:59): gn then

Greesed Litening (2:00): gn Lexie 💕

Lex (2:00): night Eth :) 

 


 

“Good morning, sleepyhead.” Becky greeted Lex as she plodded into the kitchen. “How we feeling today? You missed regular breakfast but I have some leftovers in the fridge for you.” 

“‘m tired. Stayed up too late last night. Went to bed at like 2:30.” Lex rubbed her eye sleepily. “Is Tom still over?”

“No, he left a while ago. Said something about spending the afternoon teaching Ethan how to climb trees in wolf form or some crazy thing like that.” Becky poured Lex a glass of water and offered it to her. “Y’know, I saw Ethan over at Tom’s house the other day as well. He was playing with Tim in wolf form– which was very cute, for your information. Maybe if you come over to Tom’s with me more you might run into Ethan too.” She winked teasingly. 

Lex smiled uncomfortably. “I dunno, I still feel sorta weird going over to a teacher’s house.” 

And if Becky’s like, my new mom, that makes Tom like a step dad and I don’t want to think about that right now. 

“You stopped calling him Mr. Houston, though.” Becky pointed out.

Lex shrugged. “Well yeah, but you refer to him as Tom so often that I guess it just caught on. I still call him Mr. Houston in school. It’d be weird to call him Tom during class.” 

 

“Fair enough. I just thought you’d like to see Ethan more.” Becky hummed in acknowledgment. “Though you already spend most of your time together. Don’t you work with him at the Hatchetfield haunted house or something? How’s that?” 

Lex’s heart sank.

“It’s uh… It’s good.”

 

Should I tell her?

It’s Becky. She won’t judge. 

 

Lex sighed heavily. 

“Becky, I… I-I have a confession.” 

Becky tilted her head. “Oh? Do tell.” 

 

“A few weeks ago, me n Ethan…” Lex swallowed. “We ended up kissing after work. A-and a little more. We were stopped before we could, ya know, go there , though.” 

Becky’s face split into a grin. “Oh, Lex, that’s wonderful! I mean- did you like the kiss? It wasn’t forced or anything, was it?”

Lex shook her head. “No, no. Our boss made us play as this ‘Murder Couple’, a crazy husband and wife who axed their family on their wedding night. Ethan gave me a little peck on the lips at the end of the night as part of the act and… I dunno, I guess something inside me snapped and after everyone was gone I kissed him back, for real. And while we haven’t had any like, makeout sessions or whatever since, we do occasionally give each other tiny kisses as part of the act. Nothing– nothing sexual or anything, ‘specially in front of an audience, just small pecks. I still like it, though. It feels nice.” She admitted. “But there’s a bigger problem.” 

“Which is?” 

 

Lex’s hands curled into fists, and with considerable effort she forced herself to look at Becky. “I… I think I’m in love with Ethan.”

Becky didn’t even flinch. “Oh, I know dear.”

Lex’s throat went dry. “ What?

“Your affection for him is fairly obvious to anyone with working eyes.” Becky joked lightly, taking a sip from her mug. “I’m proud of you for admitting it.” 

“Wha- what?? Was it– was it really that obvious?” Lex sputtered, more to herself than Becky. 

“Well, yes.” said Becky rather bluntly. “I’m surprised it took you this long to figure it out.” 

Lex slid down in her seat. “Kissing him a dozen times every weekend helped me realise it. I kept trying to deny my feelings but… at this point, it’s impossible to ignore it.” She pressed her palms into her eyes. “God, I fucking hate this.” 

 

Becky frowned. “Why do you hate being in love, Lex?”

“Because it sucks, Becky. I shouldn’t be in love with my best friend. And I fell so hard, so fucking fast. It’s scary.” She sighed. “I’ve had like, 2 relationships in my life, both which lasted less than 3 months, but I’ve never felt like this. Like, every time I look at him I want to kiss him again, or hold hands, or have him hug me and never let go, or all this gross mushy gushy shit. It’s weird and I don’t like it.” 

Setting her mug down and scooting a little closer, Becky gently put her hand on the distressed teen’s shoulder and patted it. “There, there, sweetheart.” She soothed. “Do you not want to date or be with Ethan, then?”

“I don’t fucking know. Just thinking about dating him makes me feel like a bunch of butterflies with iron spikes for wings are having a sick rave in my stomach.” Lex groaned, peeking through her fingers. 

“That sounds painful.”

“Yeah, it fuckin blows.” She nodded emphatically. “I just… I’m afraid that if I ask Ethan out and he says no, I’ll lose my best friend. I’d rather be in l-love with my best friend but not say anything than risk it and have the chance of losing him. I already almost lost him once. I can’t do it again.”

 

Becky hummed in thought. “Mmm… why are you so sure he’d say no? I mean, he already kisses you a lot, so he’s at least attracted to you. You generally don’t kiss people you’re not attracted to.”

“That’s part of the married couple act, though.”

“So then what was your after hours makeout session? Was that just a continuation of the act? And did he push you away after you kissed him, or did he kiss you back?” 

Lex didn’t say anything and averted her eyes. 

 

“Listen, Lex.” Gently Becky lowered Lex’s hands. “I’m not trying to be a controlling adult who tells you what to do with your life because it’s ultimately your decision but… I can already tell that this is eating you up inside. I understand you’re scared of taking the risk and confessing but the longer you keep this a secret, the more you’ll hurt. It’s not wrong to be in love. It’s not a crime to fall for someone, even if it’s your friend. But eventually, you need to just let it out. Listen to what this is telling you.” She tapped a finger over Lex’s heart. “And it’s telling you that you are in love and you want to be with Ethan, then listen to it and do what you think is best.” She tenderly cupped Lex’s cheek. “Ok, sweetheart?”

 

Lex’s lip trembled. Her eyes involuntarily filled up with tears.

Goddammit.

God fucking dammit. 

 

“Oh, sweetie...” Becky’s gentle smile crumpled, and she pulled Lex into a hug. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.” 

“It’s fine.” Lex choked out, even though it was not fine.

“You know I only want you to be happy, right?” Becky stroked Lex’s hair soothingly. “If I ever hurt you or upset you, it’s accidental, I promise.”

“You didn’t hurt me. It’s fine.” Lex forced her voice to be steady. “I just…”

She just what?

It was like the second she tried to find her words, the rest of her sentence had just up and vanished- which was fucking perfect, because now she felt like a complete fucking idiot, hugging Becky while desperately pretending that she wasn’t crying at all. 

 

“...I’m just scared,” she admitted, slowly and into Becky’s shoulder. Her voice wobbled, threatening to break as she took a shallow breath in. “What if I fuck this all up?”

“Oh, dear…”

One of Becky’s hands found her back, and after a second spent lightly rubbing circles, Becky held the shivering teen closer just before Lex broke into a sob. 

For a few long moments, Becky didn’t try to speak. 

 

“I don’t wanna be my mom.”

It came out in a pathetic, hoarse sort of whisper-- muffled by Becky’s sweater-- but of course, she heard it anyway. The older vampire stiffened, her arms tensing where they were wrapped around her. 

“Oh… oh, sweetheart, I’m sure you won’t-”

“You weren’t there , Becky.” 

“Well, n-no, I wasn’t-”

“You don’t know what it was like t-to be- to be a fucking kid and realize that your mom doesn’t fucking love you.” Pausing, drawing a shaky, sniffling breath, Lex didn’t move from where her face was buried against Becky’s neck. She didn’t think she’d be able to. Her legs felt like they were made of cement, and her head was so damn heavy… if she could even manage to lift it, it’d be a fucking miracle. “You don’t know what it’s like t-to know that she never fucking did,” she continued, croakily, “a-and that she never would , ‘cause she said it to your goddamn face . My mom never loved anyone, never loved me or Hannah or nobody. She- she’s just nasty and bitter and she hurts people because she can’t deal with her own emotions. I don’t want to be like that.” 

“You’re not with your mom now, though.” Becky said slowly. “You’re safe, with people who love you.”

Lex’s fists tightened in Becky’s sweater. “That’s not the point, Becky. What if I turn out like her?”

Becky clucked her tongue in sympathy. “You won’t though. I know that for a fact. You’re kind to Hannah, and you obviously love her. You love Ethan too. Just because you have boundaries or reservations doesn’t make you a bad or unloving person. You’re not a bad person, ok? Period.” 

And to seal the deal, Becky pressed a gentle kiss to Lex’s forehead. 

 

“Now, how about I make you a cup of tea and get you some tissues? I’m a firm believer that a nice cup of tea can help almost anything.” Gently Becky let Lex go and patted her cheek. “That sound ok?”

“...Sorry for getting your sweater wet.” Lex grimaced at the big wet spot on Becky’s blue sweater.

Becky waved her off. “No need to apologise, sweetheart. We all need a good cry now and then.” 

“...Yeah. Thanks, Becky.”

 


 

“Ethan, you’ve been pacing for like 30 minutes. What’s wrong?” 

“It’s stupid.”

“Everything you say is stupid. Now what is it?” Oliver bookmarked his page in his thick ass spellbook and took off his headphones. “Lemme guess, it has something to do with–”

“It’s Lex.” Ethan finished for him. “Sorta. It’s just… me n’ her have been going through some… relationship changes.” 

Oliver rolled his eyes. “Good God, please don’t have another friendzone breakdown. That was exhausting to watch.”

“What– no! No, I’m not gonna have another breakdown. Probably.  We uh… er, ya know how me and Lex have been working at a haunted house for a few weeks?”

“Yeah, so?”

“Well uh, the roles assigned to us were like this crazy evil groom and bride. And we um, we ended making out once after work. Like, hardcore making out and actuallywealmostfuckedbutgotinterrupted bUT then after that, we’ve been kissing each other, like tiny little pecks, as the married couple every night multiple times for weeks now and I swear I’m gonna go crazy!” Ethan blurted.

Oliver nearly dropped his book. “I beg your fucking pardon, what??? ” 

“It gets worse!” Ethan continued, fully in rant mode now. “Last night, there was this guy, this fucking customer, who was mega flirting with Lex even though she was clearly dressed as my bride, and I couldn’t help but get so fucking jealous . Even when we were kissing as part of the act the douchebag was like ‘I bet I can kiss you better than him, baby!’ and shit like that. Just– ugh ! Pissed me off!” He punctuated his words with a growl and clenched fists. “I know that Lexie and me ain’t even properly dating and I don’t even know if she likes me or not, but I can’t help myself. If– if she got with some other guy… I-I don’t own her and it’s her life ‘n all and I can’t stop her but god damn would it hurt.” 

 

“Wait, hold on.” Oliver blinked slowly. “You… you made out with Lex? And kiss her regularly?”

“Small ones but yes.”

“And you think that she doesn’t like you?” 

“I mean, I guess she’s physically attracted to me, but I’m not sure if it’s–”

Love ?”

Ethan winced.

“...Yeah. That. And I don’t know if she knows I’m in L w–”

“No, fuck you. Love. Say love. You’re not a kid anymore. No ‘L word’. You’re not in lesbians with her. Say you’re in love.” Oliver interrupted, narrowing his eyes. 

“But–”

“Say it you bastard. Love.”

Ethan swallowed heavily. “...I’m in l-love.” 

“Good. So you’re not sure she knows you’re in love with her?” Oliver asked.

 

“I don’t fucking know, Ollie.” Ethan dragged his hand over his face with a groan. “We kiss and hold hands and flirt but that doesn’t mean she likes me ba– OW!! ” 

Ethan’s words were cut off by Oliver’s book clocking him straight in the forehead. 

FUCK!! Ow! What the fuck , Oliver?!” Ethan clutched his aching head. “The fuck’s your problem man?” 

“My problem is that you keep moping around, whining about your love life, and then do nothing to fix it. It’s annoying.” Oliver snapped, pointing a spindly finger in Ethan’s face. “The feelings are obviously mutual. For everyone’s sake, just get it over with and confess already.” 

 

“But what if she–”

“She’s not going to reject you!” Oliver’s voice cracked horribly. “I’ll bet fucking money on it– I’ll bet spellbooks on it, and you know that’s not cheap.”

“I don’t want your dumb spellbook.” Ethan picked up the book from the ground and threw it back at Oliver, who caught it before it could hit his face. 

“And I don’t want to be subjected to you whining about unrequited love, but we don’t always get what we want now do we?” Oliver retorted. 

Ethan’s nostrils flared. “Sounds like what you want is to be a fuckin’ chewtoy,” he snapped, at which Oliver rolled his eyes. 

“I’ll pass on that. Been there once .” 

Ethan felt a pang of guilt stab his heart. “...Not what I meant, Ollie.”

 

“I know, I know.” A pause, then, “Hey, didn’t you say once you’ve never backed down from a dare?”

Ethan puffed up his chest in pride. “Sure have. I take that shit seriously.”

“Ok, then.” Oliver set his book down and turned to fully face Ethan. “I dare you to confess your love to Lex.”

 

Ethan’s heart dropped.

Ah shit.

 

“You’re full of it.”

“I’m not. I double dog– no, I triple dog dare you.” 

 

Shiiiiiiiiit.

He’s serious.