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“So why can’t I go with you exactly,” I asked Lydia after she was done explaining the plan to everyone except Hayden and Mason who were actually in class like they ere supposed to be. If my aunt wasn’t faculty who knows how we would be getting away with suddenly leaving class, ditching class, and arriving late all the time. “If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather go with you.”

Just the thought of encountering the ghost riders again was enough to make me want to vomit. And seeing as Scott and his packs whole m.o. was to run towards danger instead of away, we would probably run into them sooner rather than later. 

My cousin sighed impatiently, “because we don’t know what we’ll find at Caanan. At least here we know what we’re dealing with.”

“Even if we don’t know how to deal with it yet,” Malia said with a scowl. 

“I’d still rather take my chances with whatever you find there than the ghost riders.”

Kira threw an arm around my shoulder, smiling as reassuringly as she could after the ghost riders had taken a whole party full of teenagers down in the bunker and none of us had been able to do anything to stop them, “don’t worry Mari, I’ll protect you. I won’t let them come near you.” 

“And you’ve got Liam,” Scott said smiling at his beta.

“Just hurry back,” Liam told him, “we’re stronger together.”

“Hell yeah,” Malia grinned. 

*

I took my seat next to Kira in art, happy to be able to phone in this class. Ever since the ghost rider’s showed up I’d been jumpy and stressed and I kept scratching at my arms. What made it worse was I could feel how freaked out the rest of the pack was. 

It was almost enough to make me want to take my meds again. 

Almost. 

“You wanna talk about it,” Kira asked, not looking up from her painting. Her still life wouldn’t have looked out of place in a gallery. Meanwhile I was still cleaning up all my sketch lines and pretending that I knew how to shade objects. 

I shrugged, “it’s fine. We’ll figure this out soon and then-“

“Don’t say that. If you’re not okay then talk to me about it,” she told me, looking over at me, “maybe it won’t solve anything but you might feel a little better.”

Sighing, I put my charcoal, giving up on getting any work done when I could barely keep my hand steady. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk about it, but the only person that I had ever felt comfortable talking to about my so called powers, that were completely useless and more of a pain in the ass than anything, had turned out to be a horrible person and was now rotting wherever the skin walkers had dragged him down into. 

“Mari?”

Her concern was warm, gently waving towards me, the mental equivalent of a hug. I might as well. “I’ve just never not sensed something from anything. But the ghost riders,” my voice broke, remembering the events from the bunker, “there was nothing there. Nothing. Like they weren’t alive, at least not in any sense of the word I know.”

“I thought they were going to take me,” I tell her, looking down at my feet as I wipe the welling tears from my eyes. “I mean at least you can all fight or do something. I just feel so useless sometimes. Like I can sense what people are feeling, even catch some thoughts if it’s a strong emotion but that’s it.” Hell, werewolves could sense emotions by smelling the air or scent or chemosignals whatever those were.

Her concern spiked, intertwining with a tinge bitter guilt.Kira leaned over and squeezed my shoulder, “but they didn’t get you. And you’re not useless. You’re kind and gentle and you calmed Liam down, anchor-less Liam and Malia. Like made them calm down.”

“Stiles can help Malia calm down.”

Kira rolled her eyes, going back to her painting, “just take the damn compliment.”

I laughed, “still think your kitsune abilities are way cooler.”

“You wouldn’t if you were the one training with my mom. I wish I could montage through all the five in the morning wake up calls.”

We both laughed. 

“Mariella? Kira? Please be mindful of the noise level in here,” Mrs. Sanchez called out to us. 

We both nodded. 

When I went to pick up my slab of charcoal, my hand was steady enough to risk my sketch. 

*

“So Scott leaves and you immediately decide to try and catch a ghost rider,” I ask Liam and Hayden skeptically. 

“We can’t just sit around and do nothing,” Liam said defensively. 

“Well you can all try and do that,” I said, “I’m going to go to therapy and not deal with any of this and especially not go looking for trouble.”

“Trouble kind of already fund us Mariella,” Mason said gently, “and we need to figure out how to stop them. If we catch one we could figure out what they want and make them leave.”

Which made sense even if their plan was insane and they still had no way to channel that much lightning at once. “Okay,” I admitted, “but I still want no part of this.”

“Couldn’t you do it,” Hayden asked Kira as she walked up to us gathered around Liam and Mason’s lockers. “I mean you are a lightning kitsune aren’t you,” she clarified raising an eyebrow. 

“Thunder,” Kira corrected, “and yes I could if we had a few decades for me to learn how to channel that much lightning at once.”

“Sorry,” she added, looking around at us, her shame and insecurity leeched into the air, “but I just don’t have the training yet.”

“Yet,” I said, hoping to reassure her. Her mom was a thousand years old, Kira had plenty of time to get all her nine tails and become an amazing thunder kitsune.  

“Sure you’re alright going by yourself,” she asked me, changing the subject. 

I shrugged. It was pointless to lie when three of use were supernatural creatures who could hear someone’s heart speed up when they lie, so why bother. “I’ll live.”

“Corey and I could go with you,” Mason offered. “Safety in numbers and all that.”

“See,” I said throwing the rest of them a pointed look, “it’s not just me.” They’re all werewolves and suddenly they think horror movie logic of splitting up and dying doesn’t apply to them.

“Not like you can drive,” Liam said shamelessly. 

“I was nervous,” I protested for what had to be the thousandth time, “and the dude was an asshole, he wanted to fail me.”

“Didn’t Lydia say you ran a stop sign?”

I groaned, “it wasn’t even my idea to get my driver’s license. I don’t even want to drive. You don’t let crazy people drive cars.”

Mason grins, “but you’re not actually crazy.” Which was true. It turned out that everything that every psychiatrist had chalked up to hallucinations and paranoia was actually true.

“I thought I was!” 

*

Miss Morell smiled sharply as I took a seat on her couch. “I’m assuming you’re still off you’re medication.”

“Yeah,” I said, feeling guilty about it all over again. “I just feel better without it. And I’ve only had one migraine this week so progress,” I told her twiddling my hands. “I mean I should eventually start to be able to block people out. . .right?”

“And if you are not able to block people out,” Miss Morell asked the question that had kept me up so often over the last few months, “what will you do?”

“I don’t know,” I admitted. “I mean I don’t want to always have to deal with people’s emotions in my head. When someone around me gets really sad it makes me sad, their emotions bleeding into mine and I hate that. It scares me. But I also  don’t want to spend the rest of my life dazed from taking anti-psychotics. No combination of pills felt right. Some were really bad and this last one muted things pretty well but I still felt wrong.”

It made being around Liam hard. No one ever knew what would set him off and I hated how I could feel his anger well up inside my throat like it was my own. 

How I could feel my lab partner’s anxiety and nausea turn to stress the longer I sat there next to him, all my own thoughts magnified in funhouse mirrors until I was stressing over whether I had remembered to write my name on the test even though I knew I had. Over whether any of my friends in Beacon hills were really my friends or if they were just being nice to Lydia’s cousin. 

“Have you considered a solution that isn’t on on end or the other,” Miss Morell asked, her emotions as remote as she herself could be, a god deigning mortals with her presence. 

“What do you mean?”

“You could take a low dose,” she explained, “just enough to keep your own mental health intact without cutting yourself off from your own abilities.”

“I don’t know,” I said, thinking about how excited I had been when I realized that the connection went both ways. Their emotions could bled into my own, but I could also influence people’s emotions. 

Would I lose all the progress I had made?

“You don’t have to make any choices now,” Miss Morell said smiling for the first time since I’d arrived, “Just something to think about. I’ll see you next week?”

“Yes.” 

Because I had to go to therapy. It had been one of my dad’s conditions of coming to live with my aunt instead of spending my time going in and out of a psychiatric ward. 

*

Third wheeling to Corey and Mason wasn’t actually bad. It certainly didn’t feel as much as third wheeling to Malia and Stiles had been or Scott and Kira. Liam and Hayden were just a nightmare of too much PDA. 

They also didn’t even bring up the ghost riders even once which immediately made me love them. We hadn’t spent much time together seeing as I was a year older and had spent most of my last year in Beacon hills in a hazy fog of anti-psychotics in hopes of shutting everything out. 

“Don’t hate me,” Mason said, as Corey chose a song off his phone, “but I think Troye Sivan is massively overrated.”

“No,” Corey protested, “that’s just-you’re wrong.”

“You can’t tell me I’m wrong just because I don’t care for his music. I’m entitled to my opinion especially when my opinion is right.”

“Doesn’t make it an opinion then does it,” Corey quipped back and I tried to block out the nauseatingly sweet smell of fondest and love that filled up the car. I take it back, Corey and Mason are just as bad as the other couples although Lydia and Stiles are mostly pop rocks and something refined like channel no. 5 so it really wasn’t bad. 

Corey played a song before turning to look at me, “what do you think Mariella?”

“I-“

“You’ve got to listen to the whole song first to get the full experience.”

“Okay,” I told him, “but I can already tell you it sounds fine but I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to listen to it again.”

“Told you,” Mason laughed. 

Corey shook his head, “you two have no taste.”

“Oh I think I have plenty of taste,” Mason replied looking over at his boyfriend. 

Corey blushed, his face achieving the level of pink many beauty youtubers could only hope to replicate, “I think you mean I have great taste.”

I popped my earbuds in and raised the volume as high as it would go hoping to block them out as they drove to go drop me off at my aunts house. Six months and I still hadn’t gotten any better at blocking people out. Lydia wasn’t even sure if I could. 

I sighed and stared out the window.

 

Chapter Text

Wincing I hurried out of class, hugging my binder to my chest. My head ached and I’d already taken my meds today, popping the pills during class, wanting to do anything to make it all stop, make it all go away. 

To many voices, too many emotions, it was all too much. 

I wanted to go home but I still had a class left. I wanted to be far far away from everyone and their  crazy teenage hormonal emotions. 

My aunt would know immediately if I ditched though, being the principal and all. Not to mention Lydia was so nosy all the time, being able to ferret out any secrets almost at once, mind whirling bullet fast, continuously turing over pieces in her mind until she could put it together. 

And now Liam and Mason each were preoccupied with chasing after their respective crushes, Liam going head first and tripping as he went. It was funny to watch him and Hayden.

A wave of fear almost knocked me over, sending my heart rate into overdrive, heart skipping beats. Tears welled up in my eyes, my hands shook and I felt myself lean against the wall, trying to push it all out. 

Maybe I needed a stronger dose. 

It felt like every time I finally found the right combination of medication to suppress everything I thought I felt and heard, it would stop working after a while, slowly losing its effectiveness. 

I jumped as someone placed their hand on my shoulder, “Are you okay El?” Theo. Only Theo called me El.

He was an island of calm in a turbulent sea, my mind reaching out, grabbing a hold of him to steady myself. He was the only person I’d ever met who was this calm and controlled. It was a welcome change. 

“Yeah,” I said, nodding, and smiling bitterly up at him, “just need a new prescription I guess.”

“Are you sure that’ll solve anything,” he said, brow furrowing, “I mean it doesn’t seem to be working.”

“It never does for long,” I sighed. 

Theo brought his hand up to the side of my cheek, ghosting over my skin before brushing a strand of hair behind my ear, “Are you sure you even need them? I mean how many times have powers been mistaken for insanity?”

———

“This was a bad idea,” Liam repeats for the hundredth time, all the confidence he had shown to Scott forgotten as we walked with Theo to meet up with the others at the transformer. Scott had figured that I might be useful at sensing if Theo was about to run, which I doubted since Theo was calm and collected as always. As if he hadn’t spent the last few months being punished by the skinwalkers. 

“It’s not a bad idea,” Hayden replies automatically, ever the supportive girlfriend after she spent the last year torturing Liam for what had happened in sixth grade. I thought the whole thing every funny in a messed up meet cute sort of way. 

Theo adds, never one to help himself, “this is a terrible idea.” 

Liam yanks the chain that Theo is tied to, shakes around his hands as if that could really stop him if he wanted to run. I’d seen Liam break free from more chains than that. 

If anything, it was Liam and Hayden who were really here to stop him from trying to run. Being werewolves, they were stronger. 

I looked back, feeling misplaced guilt. 

Theo smirked at me, sharp and tell go fuck yourself, eyes burning. He was so fucking angry, probably mulling over various ways to kill us all. I didn’t have to be an empath to tell that. 

And he wanted us to know, because Theo was to collected to reveal anything he didn’t want to. His facade of a kind beta looking for a pack had been impeccable. None of us had sensed what had laid underneath his kind smile. Not even me. 

“I told you where the transformer is,” silver tongue hard at work, Theo added, “I told you how it works. I don’t need to be there when it all blows up.” 

“It’s not going to blow up,” Hayden snaps, halting, as if she hadn’t been in his pack at one point, “They ride the lightning. We can use that to catch one and keep him there until we figure out what they want. It’s a good idea.” 

Annoyingly condescending, Theo retorts, “You’re trying to catch a ghost rider. A million things could go wrong. Terrible idea. Right El?” Looking to me as if I’m really going to take his side after everything he did no matter how bad of an idea this was. None of us could even fight them. 

“It’s the best idea we have,” I respond, meeting his gaze. 

Sighing, Liam tells Hayden, “the bad idea was bringing him back. Scott’s right. This is a mistake.”

“You took a risk. We took a risk,” Hayden adds, making her emotions flare up, hard and hot, protective of her boyfriend. “But it was the right thing to do.”

They both stare adoringly at each other and it takes all my self control not to look at Hayden with heart eyes, Liam’s suffocating love for her taking over. 

“I believe in you,” Hayden tells him and we-they kiss. 

I step back, wanting to put some distance between me and them, walking right into Theo, my back bumping his chest. I jolt, startled. I’m sure he’s smirking, his hand coming up to brush my arm, instantly grounding me. 

I’m not Liam. I don’t love Hayden. Not like that. 

“Do you guys want us to leave you alone,” Theo asks, dripping sarcasm, raising the chain keeping him here, “oh that’s right, I can’t.”

They break apart, Liam flushing shamefully, embarrassed. The love he feels for Hayden filling him with warmth that successfully blots out the usual anger bubbling  beneath the surface. 

Thunder echoes in the deceptively clear blue sky. 

Pulling me away from Theo, Hayden states, “we better hurry,” my arm in hers. Liam yanks Theo along and I force myself to ignore the boy behind us, focusing on keeping up with the werewolves and ignoring the burn in my calves. 

We spend the rest of the walk in silence, as the building housing the transformer appeared up ahead, just where Theo had told us it would be. 

I walked in first, immediately looking for something to sit on.

Scott, Corey and Mason were already there, having one ahead to set everything up for the trap. Corey looks as nervous as he always does, awkward in his own skin. Maybe the dread doctors gave him chameleon powers on purpose. Like if that was your personality to begin with, it would help their crazy experiments take.

“You did it,” Hayden says, looking around, a cage takes up most of the space.

The place looks like the village witches hut, covered in dirt and vines growing all over the machinery. Does Beacon Hills have a witch we don’t know about?

“Of course we did,” Mason says smiling. He was in his element. Tech he could do with ease after having built his own gaming console like a total nerd. 

Liam unshackles Theo. 

I sit on the table moving things over and hoping they're not that important. 

As promised Theo shows us the transformers, “this thing can transmute the energy from a lightning bolt. Even successive strikes.”

Scott asks Mason, “are you sure this is gonna work,” pointing over at their diy’d cage. A complete patch job. We only need it to hold for long enough to figure out what the ghost riders want. 

“Well, whatever’s inside this cage is shielded from any outside electrical current,” he explains in layman’s terms, “so the ghost rider won’t be able to use lightning to escape.”

“We put a lighting rod on the roof,” Corey point out, “and connected it to that conduct cable, drawing the ghost rider to that spot.”

“We can’t send him directly in because the cage neutralizes electromagnetism. Lightning will just bounce off it. Which is the same reason it’ll hold him in,” his boyfriend finishes. 

I groan, “of course it can’t just land inside. That would make it too easy for us.” The universe always had to make us work for it. Like we asked to be the protectors of Beacon Hills. 

“If the ghost rider lands here,” Scott asks, already aware of the answer but hoping he's wrong, “how do we get him in the cage?”

“We have to lure him in,” Corey says, confirming everyone’s worst suspicion. 

“Bait?”

“I’ll do it,” Hayden volunteers. 

Liam starts to protest but she cuts him off, shaking her head, “it’ll be okay. I’m faster than you.”

“As soon as Hayden’s out,” Mason tells us, demonstrating how the cage will work, “Scott and Liam, you guys close the gates. And then I’ll put down a barrier of mountain ash.”

“I’ll be on the roof to take down the rod,” Corey explains. 

“We’ll be on the lookout for any other ghost riders.” 

“What do you think,” Liam asks Scott, hungry for approval. I wouldn’t want a beta bond if I’d end up like Diamond Scott. 

“I think it’s the best idea we have right now,” Scott says, offering his beta a smile. Liam practically glows with pride. 

“As long as everything goes perfectly,” Theo cuts in, “and he doesn’t escape and kill us all.”

Rolling my eyes I respond, “would it kill you to be an optimist just this once.”

Smirking, he says, “I’m a realist babe.”

“And your transformer works and the whole place doesn’t catch on fire,” Hayden adds. 

“And there isn’t a catastrophic solar flare,” Mason states. 

“You’ve got to stop watching those doomsday prepping shows my dude,” I tell Mason. 

Without hesitation, Scott says, “Let’s do it.”

“Okay.”

I’m glad to be sitting far away when the cage glows as the current of electricity passes over the metal. 

*

We all get into position as the sound of thunder outside increases, skies finally turning dark and stormy. 

I hide. 

This part of the plan rests on the werewolves, having left Theo with another warning not to run. 

Hayden stand in the middle of the room, near to where the ghost rider is meant to appear. 

Lighting sounds, and I squeeze my eyes shut, too scared to make myself look. It’s not as if I have any part in this part of the plan. Not yet. 

The sound of Scott and Liam yelling, the metal catching, “it won’t close.”

I watch breathlessly as they struggle to close it and keep the ghost rider from escaping, Theo rushing up to Scott’s side, helping, I remind myself, only to save his own skin. 

Theo pulls the gate, slamming it on his shoulder, bones cracking as Scott and Liam pry him out while closing the door. “Keep closing it!”

Liam pulls Theo out, Scott locking the gate.

Mason sets the line of mountain ash down, further trapping the ghost rider in. 

I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding in, my eyes scanning over Theo, hoping he’s not hurt too badly as I walk out of my hiding place. 

Scott holds the ghost rider’s gun, leaving it defenseless. 

We all look at the cage, not believing we’ve actually done it. 

It tries to call lighting to it, but Mason’s cage works. 

“It works,” Scott says breathlessly.

“It did,” Liam echoes, neither takes their eyes off the ghost rider.

The ghost rider calls more lighting but the cage holds. Successive strikes.

“Now what do we do,” Theo asks. 

“Try and talk to him,” Scott tells him as Liam makes the first attempt. 

“Mr. Ghost Rider? Mr. Rider?” 

Somehow Scott had found the only person in Beacon Hill worse than himself or maybe like calls to like, but his beta was just like the alpha. 

I tried to feel for where I knew the ghost rider was, reaching out, something I had found myself doing more and more frequently to practice. Nothing. the lack of something, emptiness. 

“We’ll let you out if you tell us how to get our friends back.”

This wasn’t going to work. It was cold, almost burning as I tried to grasp anything out of it. Cold down to my fingertips.

“Everyone,” Scott clarified, “We want everyone back.”

“Tell us how to get them all back.”

“This is the plan,” Theo said in disbelief as he looked between the boys.

“No,” Scott said, looking over to where I was standing just behind him, “Mariella, try.”

“Okay,” I said bracing myself. Closing my eyes and reaching towards the vast and empty wasteland that was the rider’s mind. A tundra if there ever was one. My brain hurt like my skull was being squeezed together as I made contact, it’s voice reverberating around my skull. 

Images flashed behind my eyes, people places, too fast to make any sense of anything. I tried to put my thoughts together to ask, but the pressure proves to be too much. 

Clutching my head, I gasp. 

Fingers stiff and frozen in place. 

It was spring, and I was freezing, my body shivering. Breath visible. 

“I’m sorry,” I manage, stumbling backwards for a second before Scott steadies me, the gentle flame he carries inside his very bones thawing me out. Theo looks me over, having started to take a step toward us, before remembering himself and looking back at the prisoner. 

“It’s okay.”

“Why’d he stop trying to get out,” Liam asks. 

“Pretty sure he just called for back up,” Theo says. 

Scott sighs, “Plan B, call Parrish.”

* 

We stand off to the side and let Parrish attempt to communicate, my head still pounding as I ignore everyone. 

Like I can still feel the emptiness, like I’ve internalized it. 

“It said Hellhound,” Parrish announces, looking over his shoulder at us. I peer around the boys, being human and more breakable Scott had insisted on pushing me behind them. 

“Is that a good thing,” Theo wonders. 

As soon as Parrish and the ghost rider really start talking the pressure inside my skull flares back up. I bite my lip, wincing at the pain, trying my best to swallow it down. 

We are the wild hunt. Those who hunt with us hunt forever. 

I place my fingertips against my temples, rubbing at them like I could just rub away the pain. It’s not me, it’s the ghost rider doing it, broadcasting it’s thoughts to anyone and everyone who can hear and I can’t block it out. 

My eyes squeeze shut, tears welling up. 

“That clarifies things,” Theo mutters. 

“What do we have to do to get everyone back? Do you want something from us?”

Scott. Alpha. 

I back away from Scott as we all turn to look at him. 

Liam, already balling his fists up asks, “Why’s he looking at Scott?”

Theo, perceptive as usual, states, “He figured out Scott’s the alpha.”

“There must be something you want,” Scott says trying again. 

There is only the hunt. 

No one resists. 

No one escapes.

This time I can’t help the whimper I let out. Nothing I do seems to block anything. Nothing helps. Maybe spending the rest of my life drugged up, in and out of wards wouldn’t be so bad. 

Liam looks over at me worried. I nod, forcing my hands down, imagining a mental wall, my hands building it up brick by brick, the weight of each brick in my hands, and ignore Theo’s searching gaze. 

“If they can’t be bargained with,” Scott states, “We’re going to have to fight them.” Like that’s done any good so far, but what other choice do we have. 

We can still run, I think to myself. We could save everyone who’s left. Lydia. My aunt. Kira. Liam. The rest of the pack. 

Theo. 

“I’m coming for my friends. I’m coming for everyone. I won’t stop. I’ll never stop until we get everyone back.”

Finally the pressure stops as it looks over at Parrish. Wisps escape and I step back, knowing somewhere in the back of my head what’s about to happen. “We need to go,” I cry, not wanting to near that thing for any longer. “It’s-,”

“It’s gonna set him free,” Scott finishes grimly just as Parrish begins to cross the mountain ash barrier. 

Liam and Scott run to stop Parrish from setting the ghost rider free and I’m more than happy to set out of their way, my heart racing in my chest. Theo rushes to help but is thrown back by the hellhound. 

“On three,” Scott says. “One. Two. Three.” And they both push the hellhound outside, the uncomfortable smell of burnt flesh filling the air. Pain sears through me, and I have to look at my hands to remind myself it’s not mine. I’m not in pain. 

Theo steps up too fix the mountain ash barrier, “guess we’re on the same side again huh El,” he smirks like he wasn’t just laying on the floor half a second ago. 

“Theo,” I shout as Mr. Douglas appears in the doorway. 

He looks over, face devoid of anything but a thin veneer of superiority. “Have you been here the whole time?”

I take this as a my opportunity to step inside the mountain ash barrier. Trapped between a were-lion thing and a ghost rider with only Theo Raeken for protection. Lydia would get a good laugh out of that. 

“How could I stay away,” the taller man answers, eyes trained on the ghost rider. I’m too tired to even attempt to read him. But I can already tell what he would be like. A brick wall much like Theo, only ever changing to anger dripping with disdain. 

“Maybe you should tell them who you really are,” Theo says, taunting the man standing between us and the exit. “Hauptmann.”

I glance nervously between the two. 

“I would not have thought possible for you to become even more of a nuisance than you were at ten, crying as the dread doctors gave you what little power you have,” Mr. Douglas said, eyes growing red as he faced the ghost rider. 

Theo’s face twisted in anger and fury, his own eyes flashing yellow. There was enough anger in this room to choke on. 

The man glanced at me, and I could see him weighing me, trying to fit me like a puzzle piece. I stared back at him, emptying my own thoughts out, letting his own cold anger well up like a black mirror. 

He rushed Theo and I stared in horror, hands over my mouth. His claws dug into Theo’s back. Theo as the last line of defense between Mr. Douglas and the ghost rider. “Break the barrier or I’ll rip you in two,” he stated, dragging Theo over. “Break the barrier and I might not kill her.”

Theo struggled against his grip, blood welling in his mouth. I couldn’t-I wasn’t strong enough to watch Theo die. Oh god, I shuddered, I’d feel him die too.

Wouldn't I?

“Stop,” I choked out, my foot rubbing away at part of the mountain ash, breaking the barrier. 

The man threw Theo across the room and I scampered out of the way. Rushing over to the boy groaning in pain on the ground. He’d heal. I’d seen Scott and Liam heal from far worse. 

He might be a chimera but still. 

Thoughtlessly my hand wrapped around his wrist, crouching down next to him. Scott could draw out pain. It made people heal faster, made it easier to deal with. I should be able to do the same. If I could push an emotion in, why couldn’t I draw one out. 

Still raw from attempting to communicated with the ghost rider, I blocked out everything but Theo and I, ignoring his puzzled look, blood dribbling down his chin. 

I imagined all his pain locked behind a door in my mind and opened the handle, twisting the nob and swinging it wide open, drawing it all out to me. 

It was a title wave of pain, a thousand paper cuts being rubbed in with salt and lemon, my skull cracking under the pressure. 

My legs give out under me. 

“Theo,” I whimper as the wave crashes, dragging me below. 

Chapter Text

My eyes closed and I felt the pain of scalpels slicing into my chest, over and over until the times bled together, until the pain bled together. Pins holding my flesh open as I struggled to heal around it. 

Bones breaking as I tried to transform into a wolf. Endlessly breaking until the pain was so internalized it became bearable, manageable, a welcome hello into my second skin. 

Tara’s hand reaching into my chest and pulling my heart out. 

Tara’s hand reaching into my chest-

Tara’s hand reaching-

Tara. 

I wanted to scream but no sound came out. I wanted to cry but no tears came. 

Blood in my mouth. Blood on my hands. 

So much mercury on so many different faces. 

The pain receded, boiled down into anger. 

*

“El, you’ve got to wake up” Theo murmured, “El, if you don’t wake up they’re going to think I hurt you. They only just let me out.” 

Theo’s face came into view as my eyes fluttered open, blood still covering his mouth. His hand brushed my hair back, out of my eyes, as I laid on his lap. 

“Are you alright,” I whispered, my head feeling silent for the first time in years. I couldn’t feel anything. Radio silence, as my head rested on Theo, a far more comfortable pillow than all my aunts decorative ones.

“Shouldn’t I be asking you that,” he said, raising an eyebrow, before he broke into a coughing fit, more blood welling up in his mouth. “I’ll be fine. I heal.”

The rest of them finally ran in, too late to do anything, I thought bitterly. More preoccupied with the corpse of the ghost rider than us. 

Hayden ran over, pulling me out and away from him, supporting most of my weight, my legs unsteady under him. 

I had been Theo, seen everything through his eyes, felt everything he’d associated with pain over the years and it had knocked me out. Scars and wounds running so deep I don’t even think he noticed anymore. The pain having become as much a part of him as Tara’s heart. 

What did you do,” Hayden yelled at him.

“It was Mr. Douglas,” Theo and I both said. 

“He ate his brain,” Theo shuddered. 

I tried to calm Hayden, make her feel the same odd calm after the storm I was, but as I brushed her arm all I felt was her love and worry for her sister all tangled up, a rock threatening to drown her the longer she stayed in place, stayed in Beacon Hills. 

I pulled my hand back, pulling away from Hayden, cradling my hands to my chest. It had just gotten more complicated. I needed to talk with Morell if she was still here. If the ghost riders hadn’t gotten to her yet. 

Liam looks over at me, “is it true?”

“Yes,” I confirm. 

“It wasn’t his brain,” Scott said, looking over at the body, “Mr. Douglas ate his pineal gland.”

No. Not Mr. Douglas.  

Theo had called him something else but I couldn’t think of what. Screw him and his habit of playing his cards close to his chest. 

“Mason,” I say, as I run my hand over the wall, seeing and feeling too much. The dread doctors coming and going, conducting their experiments over the years. The details are hazy, but I can feel their constant disappointment, the moments of glee.

“Yeah,” he says looking over at me.

“Is it possible to tape into an object? Into the lingering emotions and memories around it?” I pull my hands in close to me, careful not to touch anything around me, afraid that I might, afraid of what I might feel or see.

“I might have seen that in a movie,” Mason admits, “and this is the supernatural we’re talking about so I don’t see why not. Why?”

“No reason.”

“You’re doing it right now aren’t you,” he says, mind already firing off into theories. “That’s so interesting, I mean not for you but it just raises more questions as to what you are and what you could do. Track someone based on a favorite sweater?”

“Mason,” I snap, not wanting to think about what this means. About how I didn’t even know what I was. Lydia had got over all the notes she’d found while looking for what Parrish is, over the Argent’s bestiary with no results. 

“Sorry.”

“Guys,” Liam calls out, “his whips missing.”

“Oh god,” Hayden mutters. 

Scott looks over at me, “could you?”

I shake my head vigorously, “you don’t know how awful it felt and I don’t even know how it works.” My hands remain clutched to my chest. 

“It’s okays,” Hayden says soothingly, careful not to come too close. 

Theo rolls his eyes, “Just get her some gloves.”

“Shut up,” Hayden snaps.

“No,” Liam says, “that might actually work.”

“Can we just get out of here and regroup,” I tell Scott. He is after all the alpha, and what he decides goes, even when it’s usually someone else plan that he’s just approving off. But when Scott does make a plan, its not half bad. 

I guess a couple years of dealing with everything that goes on in Beacon Hills will do that to you. 

“Yeah,” he nods, “there’s nothing more to do here.”

*

The walk back to the cars is shorter and anticlimactic compared to the walk to the transformer. Scott hangs back, talking to Liam and occasionally throwing glances at Theo who is now reshackled. 

And now Corey was missing which had freaked us all out. Mason especially, “but we’ll get him back,” Liam tells Mason again, “we’ll get them all back.” Say it enough times and it make it true. 

Scott had defeated others that had seemed impossible to take down before, why wouldn’t he do it again?

The leaves crunched up under my dirt covered shoes as I slid into Kira’s car. “Are you okay,” she asked, her hand freezing before she touched me, hovering in midair for a second before she placed it on the wheel. 

“Yeah,” I tell her, not feeling even close to fine. This had never happened before and I didn’t know what to do. Was I going to be like Rouge from x-men? Unable to touch anything? God, that would suck.

“I can hear when you’re lying,” Kira smiled, doing her best to smother her giggles. 

“You could pretend not to,” I reply, arching my eyebrow, “stupid supernatural senses.”

“Hey,” she protests, “you’ve made me stress out over a test I didn’t even have before! Remember?”

I groan, covering my face with my hand, “don’t remind me. I didn’t mean to.”

“I know,” she says, giggling this time, the setting sun catching on her shiny dark hair which she has somehow figured out how to style. 

Frizzy hair was the worst because no matter what I do to it, it just looks messy.

I laugh, shaking my head, “I did get an eighty six percent on the test though so clearly it worked.”

“You’re going to need an A to get into the pack’s school of choices.”

“What Miss Berkeley,” I ask, “Stanford, Berkeley, or Davis?”

“Pretty much, I mean if Scott saved his grades then Liam probably can,” she smiles as she drives, pulling into my neighborhood, “I’ll be able to visit Lydia and my parents on the weekends. It’s perfect. And there’s a Shinto priestess working at one of the museum’s in San Fransisco that’s going to help me work on control.”

“Well see you,” I tell her pulling my sleeve down so I don’t have to touch the handle to open it.”

Kira stops me, “wait, Mari.”

“Yeah.”

“Be careful with Theo.”

My heart skips a beat. “What are you talking about,” I ask her carefully, playing it off.

She rolls her eyes, “You know what I mean.”

Lydia wakes me up by throwing a pair of gloves at my face. I yelp, “Hey, what are you-,”

She cuts me off, direct and polished as always, an arrow sinking into the bullseye, “We’re meeting the others at the Sheriff’s office. Stiles was his son, so even with no Stiles he wants to help us which is good seeing as we’re probably the only ones who can help. Mason texted me about you needing gloves,” she paused for effect, lips pursed, “why?”

I rub the sleep from my eyes, getting out of bed reluctantly, “it’s gotten. . .complicated.” Looking for the first pair of jeans I find on my chair of clothes I pull them on, looking for a top and sweater. 

“Explain.” My cousin takes a seat on my bed, but only after smoothing out her area. 

“I don’t know, I’m pulling emotions and . . .I guess memories linked to those emotions from things,” I tell her, putting back the pink t shirt and opting for the ratty one I’d thrifted that I had to wear a bra with or I’d flash someone, but it was so soft. “From anything I touch and I can’t control it and I can’t block it out.”

I took a deep breath, forcing myself to calm down. 

“Since when,” she asked. 

The gloves went on last, the nicest part of my outfit, their checkered red print and warm brown leather soft against my skin. I could still feel the tingly joy from the last person that had worn them, but no memories. 

“I don’t know,” I shrug, not feeling like sharing Theo’s memories. They were too private, too personal. I doubted he’d want any of it getting around. I wasn’t even sure he knew what I’d done, what I had seen. “Sometime after trying to communicate with the ghost riders.” I didn’t even know how to begin to explain all my messed up complicated feelings about Theo. 

Lydia nods, “the gloves are mine but I haven’t worn them since before freshman year so they should be fine.”

“Guess I’ll just spend the rest of my life wearing gloves,” I say bitterly. 

“We’ll figure this out,” she says softly, wapping an arm around me, drawing me into a hug. “I mean look how long it took to figure out what Parrish was. Or hell, how long it took me to figure out just what I could really do apart from finding dead bodies.”

“But for now gloves,” I said dejectedly, already missing being able to actually touch things with my hands. 

“We can go see Morell after this is all over.”

*

“You’re going to bite Stiles,” Lydia said almost as soon as she saw Scott, standing while the rest of the pack sat around in the station. The sheriff was there as well, standing to one side and looking like he’d rather be anywhere then here. 

But it was Lydia and she had always been able to talk to people until they saw things her way, or else she figured out how to go around them. 

“I’m going to bite Stiles,” Scott said, his desperation make him look years older than he was. He was in the senior year, his college applications were in, he should just be worried about hearing back from colleges not this. “To get him through the rift.”

“This is the only way.” He led us both over to the table where Liam and Malia had drawn out the plan.  Hayden and Mason sat on a bench, Mason still looking as lost as he had last night when we couldn’t find Corey. When they had taken Corey. Eyes red from having spent the night crying.

“Just to clarify,” Peter Hale, very much alive and escaped from Eichen house where he’d been left to rot after stabbing us all in the back at every chance he’d gotten since ripping his niece’s throat out, “are you planning on biting everyone in the train station?”

“With Stiles back he’ll be able to help us figure out a plan,” Scott explained, which didn’t sound much like a plan at all. 

I went to sit down next to Hayden and Mason, itching to know where they had stuffed Theo today. 

“He’s good at that,” Malia added. 

Kira sighed, “why did we bother inviting Peter if he’s not going to help.”

Peter grinned, teeth sharp. “So the plan is to get Stiles to come up with a plan,” he said mockingly. 

“You can shut up now,” his daughter bit out, probably regretting asking her father for help right about now. 

“Malia, look around. We’re the only ones left in Beacon Hills. If they take us, Lydia will be the only one left to haunt the place.” 

Malia growled, eyes glowing as her claws slid out. Lydia only rolled her eyes, unhappy about giving Peter any sort of attention. 

“That’s why I’m the only person that’s going in,” Scott said, happy to take all of the risk to keep us all safe. Liam and Hayden will stay here with Mason and Mariella. As long as somebody is left in Beacon Hills, the wild hunt can’t move on.”

“I like your plan Scott, I really do,” Peter continued, ready as always to act as affably as he could to get his way. We were all just pieces for Peter to play of on. “-especially the part about turning Stiles. But it can’t work,” he said more dramatically then was  necessary. 

“How do you know,” Malia said, playing right into him, because no matter what she might know, he was still her dad and she still hoped he might change one day.

“Logic. Life experience. What are the odds that he’ll get taken? What if Stiles sin’t there? What if there’s no Beacon Hills for you to come back to?” He was on a roll and ready to monologue. 

“You got a better idea,” Liam asked, just daring Peter to fight him. 

“Yeah. It’s called run like hell. So leave in five?”

We all rolled our eyes. We were all in this pack. And we weren’t leaving anyone behind. 

“You promised you’d help us,” Malia reminds him, her eyes ernest as she turns to him. “We still need to find the rift.”

“I didn’t promise I’d help you commit suicide.”

Sighing Scott cuts them off, “if you can’t help, we can find it ourselves.” 

“Scott, I admit that you have a flair for beating the odds. But this,” he said pausing for drama, “You don’t walk away from. You run.” And just like that he turned heel to save his own skin. 

I wanted to comfort Malia, who was still looking at the door, having expected more from Peter, but she would probably take my sympathy as pity and hate it. Sometimes it was kinder to pretend not to see. 

“Stay here, and be careful,” Lydia told me. 

“Yes, mom,” I said rolling my eyes, having gotten over my lack of a mother years ago. I’d accepted that I would never know the woman who’d given birth to me. 

*

Kira left her sword with Liam just in case Theo tried anything. Like we didn’t have enough to worry about already with the wild hunt. I couldn’t take them seriously when we called them ghost riders, I just couldn’t. 

It was the stupid dread doctors all over again. 

And that basically left him in charge by default. In charge while the adults handled everything. Sorry, I meant slightly older teens. 

“-So we should stay here. Is that what you’re thinking,” Haden asked Liam, Mason quiet for once. Both Liam and Scott had their human best friend who actually came up with the plans and now they were both down. 

We all turn to Liam. 

“It doesn’t matter where we are. We still need to figure out how to fight them.” 

“No one can fight them,” Hayden replies,  looking down at her hands. All that power and she was still powerless. 

“Douglas can,” Theo said interrupting us all. Owning every bit of being behind bars, looking less imprisoned than merely about to offer us all some awful deal like fairies did in fairy tales, the ones that always led to death and destruction, like he still had any power here. 

“Does he have to stay in there,” I ask Liam, forcing myself not to look at Theo. I couldn’t, not after last night. It still felt too raw. My arms wrapped around my sides. I could feel the fear and pain, the phantom sting of flesh being sliced open. 

Again. 

And again. 

“He’s still Theo,” Hayden says,  glancing at me like I’ve grown a second head. 

“Theo saved Scott remember. And El,” he says glancing at me, taking in the sight of my gloved hands. 

I shove them in my pockets, suddenly self conscious of my inability to even touch things. “I’d hardly call that saving,” I respond, meeting his smug gaze, “if you’d just have stepped into the mountain ash barrier like I did, he’d never have gotten in.” He wouldn’t have hurt you.

“Who was it that broke the barrier again,” his eyes burning, lips twitching into a smirk knowingly. Useless. I’m the empath and yet he’s the one who can see right through me.

I open my mouth to respond again but Mason shakes his head, bumping my leg in small comfort, before talking to Hayden, “he can still hear you.”

“Then he can hear me say he needs to shut up,” Hayden says, turning to glare at Theo, “so we can figure out how to fight the ghost riders.”

Wisely, I don’t mention how both she and Corey were at one point doing Theo’s bidding. It was still a sore spot for Liam and Mason both, especially between them since Liam defended Hayden but not Corey in the days after to the pack.  

“You don’t need to figure it out.”

“-because Douglas already did,” Liam finishes. 

“If he knew how to fight them, he might know everything about them,” Hayden says, determination setting in. 

“And guess who knows all about Mr. Douglas,” Theo says, smiling smugly as he pulls away from the bars to go sit down. He’d played us, given us just enough information to follow. A trail of breadcrumbs leading to the witch’s cottage. 

It’s impressive, I have to admit, biting my lip so I don’t smile as everyone groans. 

“Here we go again,” Liam groans. 

“Let’s hear him out,” Mason says, standing up to go ask Theo what he wants now, “you’ve got Kira’s sword just in case.”

“And he’s in a cell,” I say, following after Mason as I fiddle with my hands, still unused to the feeling of leather between me and the world.  

Hayden trails reluctantly behind Liam as we crowd around the holding cell, Theo sitting and looking more self satisfied than he should after everything. It just makes me want to laugh again. 

“What do you want,” Liam finally asks. 

For once he doesn’t smirk, doesn’t look up, expression solemn as he utters, “Break Kira’s sword and I’ll tell you everything I know about Mr. Douglas.” A practiced calculated look, the last push to make you willingly step into a trap. 

He’s good, calm as ever without even a trace of panic and desperation that I was sure he must be feeling at finally getting rid of Kira’s sword. Save from the possibility of being ripped open by Tara. 

Being haunted by the dead sister he killed. 

I shudder, looking up. 

Liam looks over at Mason who responds, “That’s never going to happen. We’re not making that deal.”

“I hold all the cards.”

Mason scoffs, “You’re locked in a jail cell. You have no cards.”

“And yet who’s cell are we crowded around,” I mutter. 

“Who’s side are you on,” Hayden snaps, eyes narrowing.

“Just pointing out the obvious.” 

“You want me to tell you about Douglas,” Theo states like he hadn’t planted the entire idea of Mr. Douglas in our heads not five minutes ago. 

“Break the sword,” he says, finally looking up, self satisfaction evident. 

Mason looks back at Liam, “Does anyone else want to do the negotiating? Liam? Mariella?”

“Yeah Mari,” Hayden mocks. Theo had sent her after Tracy under the guise of keeping Tracy from clawing anyone’s face out in public but she had soon learned he didn’t care about collateral damage, he just didn’t want that collateral damage to be Mari. “Why don’t you?”

I roll my eyes. 

“Break the sword,” Theo Reaken repeats, having turned the tables on us. 

Liam sighs, his emotions turbulent, fear and desperation stained with the clammy grip of uncertainty. He was going to do it. And he was already regretting it. 

Theo must have sensed Liam had been swayed because he reiterated, “you break, I talk.” Anticipation grew hot under his skin. 

The first break I’d seen from him. 

“Come on guys,” he continued, coming back up to the bars, dealing sole with Liam now, “look, I don’t want to be in anyone’s pack. I don’t want anyone’s power. I just want to stay alive.” His confession was accompanied by an ernest look to his features, voice soft. It was a practiced vulnerability from someone who hated to be vulnerable in front of anyone. 

“Mariella,” Mason asks, turning all eyes towards me. 

Guess I was making the final call on this. “I don’t know,” I admit. Usually there was something in a person’s emotions, an artificial quality when they were lying if not the outright wrong emotion. 

But this was Theo and he hadn’t wavered from his calm demeanor once. I had overlooked everything before, but not this time. 

He had put my cousin in the horror that was Eichen house because of course Beacon Hills had a psychiatric facility populated by mad doctors hell bent on hurting the very patients they were meant to help. “I can’t tell,” I finally admitted.

“How do we know if we let you out you won’t run,” asks Hayden, knowing its inevitable now that Liam’s decided that Theo will get what he wants. 

Wisely, I didn’t mention that Kira could put her sword back together. It took time and effort, but it could be done.

“Cause we’re not letting him out,” Liam says gravely, the weight that Scott always carries baring down on him, the weight of all the choices and their consequences. “He’s going to tell us from in here.”

“I’m still going to need some incentive,” Theo states, expression devoid of any emotion he had played at just moments ago. 

Liam turns around, hands on the handle and blade just like Kira had shown him. She had meant it at the time to be used, not broken, teaching Liam what he needed to be in charge of her sword while she searched for the passage way. 

The sword breaks with a sickening crack, before falling into symmetrical pieces on the floor. Their glow denoting their imbued mystic powers fading before my eyes until the fragments were nothing more than ordinary steel. 

“He’s a lowenmensch.” 

Chapter Text

“Douglas didn’t beat a ghost rider,” Liam groans, anger rising as he looked a Theo with a prissy expression on his face, “he ran.”

Theo shrugs, sitting down and out of reach of the temperamental beta. 

“We broke the sword for nothing,” Hayden curses. 

“So he was a nazi,” I shrug, disappointed and impressed at how useless the information was, “pretty much all evil germans are. That doesn’t tell us anything.”

“When did you realize,” Theo asks me, an amused smirk on his lips, making him handsome even in this terrible lighting. 

“As soon as you mentioned Douglas then told us you knew about Douglas,” I admit, “and were willing to talk.” 

His smug smirk is replaced with a genuine smile that softens his features, makes him look like a boy you might go on a date with instead of a manipulative psychopath.

“Wait,” Mason says, hand up as he thinks, “if that was back in 1943, where’s he been all this time?”

“Douglas kept looking. He found a scientist that he thought could help him. Three of them.” The barest hint of loss escapes before Theo gets ahold of himself. I raise an eyebrow, curious, turning the new piece of information over. 

Wounds so deep he doesn't even know they’re there.

I try to organize what I saw but even now the pain is jarring, blending together with my own fear coated memories. I lack the skill to sort through it all. A child that’s been given a gun and no clue how to use it. 

“-a side effect no one could expect.”

“So he can fight them,” Hayden says as she paces and thinks. There’s got to be a way to make this knowledge useful. “He could stop them.”

“That doesn’t help us. Douglas attacked us last night. He’s not on our side,” I add, “it’s not like we have a vat of unknown chemicals and seventy years to replicate what happened to him if it even could be replicated.”

“And we’d need Lydia for that,” Mason mentions. She was our science expert, the only one who would actually know what she was doing. 

“The nazi’s lost the war,” Liam wonders, “Why is he still obsessed? What does he want an army for?”

With a furrowed brow, Mason responds, putting everything together, “he doesn’t want it for them. The nazi’s were just a means to an end. He wants it for himself.”

“So we have two enemies to deal with then,” I tell them, “and now he has a ghost rider whip.”

“His own personal supernatural army,” Mason says out loud, as we arrive at the same conclusion. 

So the information wasn’t completely useless then. 

Ever loyal, Liam says with a gasp, “We need to warn Scott.”

“We don’t even know where they are,” Hayden exclaims. “At least here we stand a chance.”

“No one will be if Douglas gets his army,” I say solemnly and wishing we had all taken up Peter Hale’s offer when we still could, even though I never would. 

“I can find them,” Liam insists, “we both could.” 

“How do wolves signal their location to the rest of the pack,” I grin, realizing Liam’s right. They’re his betas. We’re all pack but they’re Scott’s betas.

“They howl.”

Mason nods, smiling for the first time since Corey had gone missing last night, “Yeah. Liam, come on. We gotta hurry,” as we all hurried to Mason’s car. The only one of us that had a car. 

“We can still find them in time,” Liam said, trying to reassure a trailing Hayden. She was going to break up with him anytime now, any warmth was just a residual tenderness. Nothing compared to Liam’s burning love for her. 

A ghost rider threw open the doors to the station, whip catching Mason before he could run away. 

“Liam! Run!”

Liam growled, eyes glowing as he shifted, angry and hurt and ready to fight the ghost rider. 

Useless in a fight, I moved away, putting space between me and the two fighting., grabbing Hayden by her arms, “let’s go.” 

But she didn’t move, rooted in place as the ghost rider threw Liam threw a window and crept towards us. She was so scared, it pooled like lead in her legs, crying. 

“Hayden,” I said, trying to drag her with me. 

Her head shook as she trembled. 

Liam tackled the ghost rider. 

“Hayden,” I shout. She couldn’t keep standing still, she had to do something even if that meant running. As long as there was someone left the wild hunt couldn’t move on. 

I wouldn’t let Lydia get left behind to haunt a deserted town. I couldn’t. 

Finally she moves, going to help Liam fight the ghost rider. 

Together they might actually stand a chance. 

I scramble for a weapon, for anything that might help. It’s a sheriff’s station, there has to be a taser, a gun, something. Anything. 

The whip cracks and I look back in horror to see the whip wrapped around Hayden’s wrist. 

I run to help Liam pull her, getting any hold on her. She can’t-A sword would be really useful right about now. “We need something to cut this with,” I say breathlessly, no longer sure of who’s panic and fear swirled in me, clouding my head. 

Liam struggled with the whip, hands tight as he pulled, refusing to give an inch. “We can’t let go or-,”

“I know.”

Hayden chocked back a sob, while she helps Liam with the rope. I don’t even know if I’m helping. They’re werewolves and they're still not strong enough. 

Liam starts to slid across the floor. 

A second ghost rider bursts threw the other window, glass shattering, whip cracking. Hayden catches it in her other hands, sparing Liam. 

Tears run down my cheeks. 

We’re only prolonging the inevitable. 

“Mari, go,” Hayden chokes out. 

I shake my head. I couldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t do everything to help her. I’d watched her die once. 

“Liam, you have to find Scott,” Hayden tells Liam, hurt and scared and broken over how much this boy loves her, a sadness so profound I could drown in it. “You have to let go.” 

“I’m not leaving you.”

“You have to,” she repeats. “You can save me on the other side. I believe in you.”

“I love you.”

“Then go.”

I let go, only half aware of Liam dragging me along, having forgotten my own body, my own mind. Hayden. 

We run. 

*

“Liam,” I gasp out between breathes as he pulls me along, my arm feeling like it’s going to pop out of it’s socket. His claws had broken the skin of my arms. It made everything worse. The anger and loss flooding right into me. “Liam I can’t run as fast as you. I’ll never get there in time.”

“What are you saying?”

“I’ll be better off hiding,” I tell him, now knowing what to do. It might not work, but if I could forget myself, the way I had back there caught between Hayden and Liam, why couldn’t the ghost riders do the same. 

The same cold emptiness that exists only for the hunt. 

Hollowed out.

Too hollowed out to think, he just nods and disappears into the night. 

I sit down on the curb, my hands rising to my temples, not bothering to pull off my gloves. The clacking of their boots on the ground approached sending waves of panic through me. 

I’d had therapy for pretty much my whole life. I’d tried meditation in many sessions. It was all about focusing on breathing in order to stop. Stop thinking. Stop worrying. Stop. 

I needed to empty out my mind or they’d get me. 

I needed to stop worrying and stop panicking and stop being scared. 

Closing my eyes I felt, letting the cold emptiness crush my skull, the memory of the pressure was enough to send me reeling. The waves of pain and memories pulling me under, drowning me. The girl I loved being ripped out of my arms. The pressure-

My skull cracking open. 

My skull bursting open. 

Silence. 

Coldness sliding into my bones until I couldn’t feel my fingers, couldn’t move them.

It’s fine. 

It’s-

*

Everything and nothing at once. 

Toes buried in the earth as the wind whips across my face. 

My limbs growing up up up with the sun, with the birds. 

Blood in my mouth. 

The face of a woman so like my own, her eyes distant, focused on something. Hair with leaves falling out of it, skin freckled with gold specks, rich brown earth. 

The thrill of the hunt. 

The eternity of the hunt. 

Blood. 

The stars in the sky cupped in my hands, their light pouring into my outstretched hands, drinking it all in. 

By the light of the moon, by the length of the day. 

Earth and wind and trees and flapping my wings as I fall. 

Running and running as soon as my twitching nose smelled-

Predator. 

Sinking my mouth, my teeth-

A thousand different currents. 

A drop of water-

The calm whales passing through me. 

Calm

*

Theo.

*

I wake with a jolt, heart racing, the metallic tang of blood in my mouth. I spit it out, getting up and off the curb, town empty. 

The ghost riders are gone. 

It’s still dark so I couldn’t have been out for that long. My cheek grainy from having fallen asleep on the curb. It didn't feel like sleep. It hadn’t even felt like me. 

But clearly it worked. 

An eerie silence permeates the atmosphere. Beacon Hills has been sealed in a vacuum, awaiting complete destruction. 

As long as there’s someone still in beacon hills the wild hunt can’t move on, I tell myself, not really believing it anymore. I can only hope Liam made it to Scott, that they’re safe and still trying. 

I wipe my mouth with the back of my sleeve, staining the grey cardigan brackish red, holes where Liam had grabbed onto me. 

He probably hadn’t even noticed he’d sunk his claws into my skin. Not so soon after her had to leave Hayden behind. Had to watch Hayden get taken. 

The familiar feelings of sadness and loss don’t come. My chest raw and hollowed out. I’m exhausted and the only person I know is back at the station, might not even be there anymore. 

Fuck. 

I screamed, frustrated, before turning back to where the station is. 

*

Theo is laying on the bench, looking asleep as far as anyone could tell, peaceful even, but the rabbit brained fear clouds the station. 

predator. 

I shake my head, forcing myself to focus on the present, to stay present. “I know you’re awake.” Because he’d never fall asleep when in such danger. He has too many self preservation skills for that. 

“Where’s Liam,” he asks, tilting his head up to hear the surroundings, “wasn’t he supposed to be protecting you?”

“It was more of a someone needs to survive thing.”

He smiles ruefully, all teeth. “And you’re bleeding.”

I shrug, not sure how to even begin explaining this new development. This time I can’t blame it on him. “Just a little. I don’t think its serious and I’m pretty sure they’ve taken all the doctors in town anyway.”

“I know first aid,” he smirks, coming up to the bars, so close. 

I laugh, my hands around the bars of the cell to steady myself, “if only I open the cell right?”

He smiles, amused and pleased all in one. My knees grow weak and I have to look away.

“I’ll open the cell. And you can run if you want,” I tell him, before confessing, “I would, if I didn’t have so many people keeping me here.”

“You could come with me,” he whispers, only a breath away. 

“How Bonnie and Clyde of you.” I’m romantic enough to want to, but not foolish enough to believe that he wouldn’t stab me in the back if it came down to him or me. 

Theo’s eyes narrow as he spies the holes stained with blood that Liam’s claws left behind, “who did this?”

“It was an accident,” I shrug off, and it had been because Hayden. Oh my god now Hayden was gone too. “Liam still needs an anchor. The whole mantra thing isn’t really working for him.”

“I noticed,” he responds dryly. 

I laugh, pretending he’s not referring to how he twisted Liam until he nearly killed Scott in a rage. 

“And the rest of it? The blood on your lips. What happened,” he finally asks, his hands running over the leather and fabric of my gloves, catching them against the bars. I wonder if I touched him right now, what he would be feeling. 

Freedom at hand from the only person who would let him out with no ulterior motive. 

Or the same artificial calm from which only murder and power draws any response from him. 

“I’m not sure,” I say, figuring he’ll probably run as soon as I let him out so there can’t be any harm. “I sort of just let everything build up, trying to get to the same state of mine as the ghost hunters. I figured they’d ignore me if I did and I’m still here so it worked.”

“But,” he prompts, tugging at the leather, drawing a glove from my hand. 

“But I nearly didn’t come back. I don’t even know where I went. It was more like I just was and I wasn’t. Like the hindu concept of becoming one with brahma, with the world. I think it was too much, so I bled.” My voice cracks but I force myself to say the last terrible thought, “I think if I had stayed much longer, I wouldn’t have been able to come back.”

One of my gloves falls to the floor and he mets my eyes, curiosity brimming on the surface of his eyes. His fingers are warm against mine as our hands intertwine, warmth steady, curling up in bed after a rainy day. 

Emotions too muted and muddle to parse out and I don’t want to know. 

“If you can masquerade as one of them,” he utters, “why not make it a one way street instead of a two way street. Force them to do whatever you want.”

“The wild hunt doesn’t work like that. They have no leader.”

He shrugs, “Make them.” Because it always comes back to power with him. 

“Everyone wrote you off El. Me. The dread doctors. All those shrinks. Your father. And yet here you are,” his tone full of wonder, “the only person that hasn’t ever tried to use me.”

His other hand caresses the side of my face, sending shivers down my spine, desire pooling in my core. “Why?”

“I thought we were friends.” And you shouldn’t use people. Never treat people solely as a means to an end because they're people. 

Theo chuckles, warm breath ticking my skin, making me flush red, “just friends?”

Unconsciously I lean towards him, hampered by the bars of the jail cell, annoyed that my first kiss will be here, now, but I want this. I want him to kiss me and I want to kiss him back. 

Theo pulls aways, taking a step back, voice flat, “get me out of this cell El.” 

I draw away from the cell, hurt, my eyes searching for any sign that this had been real, that I hadn’t imagined it, that he hadn’t lied. 

But I never could read him.

And more importantly, he killed Scott. It didn’t matter that Melissa brought him back. He’d still done it.

Kissing him was out of the question. Messy feelings aside. 

 I nod. 

The noise of the door opening makes me jump. 

Ghost riders. 

Shit. Shit. Shit. 

“It’s Liam,” Theo utters, head tilted to the door, just as Liam and Sheriff Stilinski walk into the room. 

“Oh my god,” Liam says running to hug me, his arms wrapping around my waist and lifting me off the ground, “you’re okay.”

“Yeah,” I manage, “but you crushing me.”

“Right,” he says, embarrassed, “sorry.” 

“It’s fine,” I tell him, hugging him right back, “What’s the plan now?”

Chapter Text

“We’re letting Theo out,” Liam said, with a meaningful look towards Sheriff Stilinski who was starring Theo down through the bars of the cell, “Same plans as last time. Buy Scott and the girls more time to open the rift.”

“Please, please tell me that you brought the key card,” Theo said, eyes trained on the Sheriff. His voice held steady even as you could taste the desperation in the air, not all of it Theo’s.

“I also brought my gun,” the Sheriff responded incredibly stoically for a man who had just learned he had a son not to long ago. 

“And your sense of humor. That is great. But if we’re the only ones left in Beacon Hills, then we need each other.” This boy, ever ready to talk his way out  every situation. “Which means you need me out of this cell.”

I swallowed the lump in my throat, pushing back the thought of Theo kissing me when all he really wanted was a way out and I’d played right into it like a fool. He had nothing to offer but sweet lies. 

“We need to trust you,” Liam added.

“Does trust really matter right now,” I countered, looking over at Liam, “I mean he’ll either help us or he won’t what we need is more bodies between us and Scott because every second we but is a second that they could need to save Stiles, to save everyone.”

“He could also stab us all in the back all over again Mari,” Liam said right back, eyes still kind of empty after seeing Hayden get taken and letting it happen, “We have enough problems right now without adding Theo.”

But the Sheriff has the key, I think to myself. Liam isn’t the person I need to convince. 

“Get realistic,” Theo spits out, “It is us against them. I’m on your side here and you want a lot more of us considering how many of them there are.”

I walk over to the Sheriff who’s gazing right into the cell so intently focused on something beyond reality, the profound loss pouring out of him, drowning him. Heavy and hurt and so very very lost. My ungloved hand goes to his arm in a gesture of comfort, giving me only a second to steel myself as I feel the hurt cut through me like shards of glass. 

Focus. I need to make him more agreeable. 

I need him to let Theo out. 

“They’re right,” Liam says looking over to the Sheriff, surprise etched on his face as he watches the Sheriff look down at me. 

“Mariella?”

I ignore them all, focusing on the pain and loss and shaping it into hope, the hope that he’ll see Stiles again, the hope that Scott will save the day and he’ll have his son back, the hope that he’ll hold the son he loves in his arms, breaking the sorrow that threatens to pull him under with hope. Hope and desperation. 

The ghost riders. There’s too many. 

There’s only hope if we buy Scott more time. 

And for that we need Theo.

The Sheriff tries to pull away but my hand refuses to budge. 

“We need Theo,” I say, hoping this worked when my grasp on whatever powers I had felt so tenuous, the push weak compared to the other times I had accidentally influenced others. 

There’s a flicker in his eyes and that’s all I need to wedge the desperation and corrupted hope into the man, feeling guilty as I twist the love and loss he feels for Stiles to suit my purposes. 

Stiles is never going to forgive me when he finds out what I did to his dad and for who I did it for. 

The man sighs, resigned, “I’ll let you out, but if I see any behavior that I fine remotely suspicious, I’ll put so many bullets in your head god won’t even recognize you.”

“Mari,” Liam whispers as he pulls me away from the man, “what have you done?” Fear tinges his words. Fear of me. 

It’s a ridiculous thought as I think of Liam’s first full moons or the way Kira had made all the electricity shorten out in order to break into Eichen house to save my cousin. 

“I’m an atheist. Fire at will.” 

And just like that, Sheriff Stilinski slides his key card through the reader and Theo’s a free man once more, stopping only to pick up my glove still laying on the floor and tossing it over to me, “now if only you did that to the ghost riders,” he tells me conspiratorially, Liam growling at my side. 

* 

The station is deserted as thunder crackles outside. 

They’re coming. 

A dark cloud on the horizon. 

The warm leather covering your fingers feels comforting now, still feeling shaken from the Sheriff. It wasn’t my pain, but all pain feels just as raw and cutting no matter who’s it was. It was easy to forget that it wasn’t mine. 

I follow behind Liam and the Sheriff, Theo bringing up the rear, all ready to face the ghost riders. As ready as we’ll ever be. 

“They’re here,” Liam states, hearing something outside mere human senses could never pick up. 

“How close,” I ask, voice cracking as I do, not wanting to feel that cold empty void all over again. 

“Too close.”

“How many,” Stilinski asks.

“I heard a couple horses. Maybe more.”

“Five,” Theo says wavering, “I, I think five at most.” It wasn’t comforting to know how unconfident Theo was, Theo who was always being smug as shit even when his plans had gone to hell. 

“Four of us. Five of them,” the sheriff notes, “I like those odds.”

“Yeah,” I awkwardly add, “I’m not really much help in a fight.” 

“You better get ready,” the sheriff said, cocking his gun as he opened the door to an army of ghost hunters and gets ghosted. 

I don’t waste a moment, scrambling to the side, and hiding with Liam as gunshots echo through the station. The ghost riders clearly don’t care about ammunition, firing shot after shot. 

Liam pulls Theo along with us as I run for the back door. 

“So much for putting up a fight,” I mutter under my breath, not caring if either boy could hear me or not. 

We all burst through the doors and head for the first car we see, pilling into the seats, Liam and I sharing the passenger seat half sitting on each other. 

“Keys! Keys,” Theo snaps as Liam fumbles through the box of keys he’d acquired god knows when. 

Liam looks over dumbly at Theo. 

“Are you serious!”

“Here!”

When it doesn’t fit, Theo yells, “give me another!”

“Well which one!”

“Any of them! Come on!” 

Liam fumbles for a key. 

“Nope.”

“There’s a lot of keys,” Liam says, red coloring his cheekbones as his eyes narrow. All the tell tale signs of an oncoming fit. 

I shove him over to try and get more comfortable but he just nudges my onto his lap. It could be worse, I think, rifling through the keys along with him, passing keys to Theo.

“Nope! I really feel like you’re not even trying right now Liam!”

“Try this one,” I say passing Theo another one, watching as the ghost riders surround the car and trying not to panic. Some time buying team we are. 

If it didn’t work we’d get taken too. 

The last line of defense between Lydia and the ghost riders. 

The engine roars to life and Liam yells, “Whoa! Yes! Go! Go! Go,” jostling me on his lap as I laugh, lightheaded with relief as Theo slams his foot on the gas. Car backing onto a ghost rider as we go. 

“Oh thank god,” I utter, carefully balancing on the edge of the seat, Liam awkwardly trying to find somewhere to place his arms. 

“Did you doubt me El,” Theo says with a grin, taking his eyes off the road as he looks over at me. 

I look away, still feeling rejected and hurt, ignoring the flutter my heart does when he calls me El. No one else calls me that. 

“Turn onto this road,” Liam orders Theo. 

“Where does this take us,” Theo asks, finally taking his heavy gaze off me and looking back at the road. 

“The hospital,” both Liam and I answer, being very well acquainted with Beacon Hills and all its side roads by now. 

“The hospital? Why the-what the hell are we supposed to do at the hospital?”

“Hide,” I say grimly, catching onto Liam’s train of thought. It was a big place and we’ve both been there countless times. It would provide lots of places to run and hide from the ghost riders. 

Hopefully it would be enough. 

“We can’t outrun them,” Liam explains,” Right? I know every inch of that building. Every room, every corner.”

“Your stepdad,” I say, voice breaking. Oh god. We’re we really all that’s left? Everyone else gone. My aunt -

Liam tenses behind me. 

“You can’t think like that right now El,” Theo says carefully, hand outstretched towards me, before he places his hand down by his knee instead. “Hide? that’s the best we’ve got,” he says exasperated at us. 

“We just need to keep them away from Scott for as long as possible,” Liam bites out from between his teeth. 

“Why? What’s he going to do?”

“He’s gonna remember.”

“Remember what?”

“Stiles. He has to remember Stiles.”

“What if he can’t?”

“He will,” I tell them both, recalling the bond they shared, the ghost of the warmth I always got off Scott but couldn’t explain, the last traces of perfume on a love letter, reassurance and love and the way my dad and aunt could have a whole conversation with just a glance,  “it’s Scott and Stiles.”

“He better,” Theo utters flatly. 

*

The hospital, like the rest of the town, is deserted. 

I don’t waste time getting out of the car, relieved to finally be able to stretch my legs and  not be sitting on Liam. We’ve never been incredibly close, and I hate remembering the way Hayden had gone all over again, Liam’s feelings bleeding into mine until I felt them like they were my own. 

I wish I’d never come to Beacon Hills and heard of werewolves. 

I wish I wasn’t such a mess. 

Theo pulls me forward, his hand in mine as he pulls me into the hospital with him. “Liam, come on. We don’t have much of a lead on them.” I bump into him as he turns to look at Liam, who runs over to an ambulance.

Clever.

Anything to buy time, I think as Liam turns the siren on, sound so loud in the empty silence of the night, including drawing all the ghost riders here in what must be certain death for all of us if they fail. 

“What the hell are you doing,” Theo shouts, immediately going to try to and turn of the siren, far more concerned with his own self preservation then with following the plan. They were our pack, not his. 

“Theo don’t,” I tell him, trying to pull him away from the car. 

“Don’t! Don’t turn it off.” 

“You want to bring them all here? Every single one of them,” he states, agitated as he tries going trough Liam to get to the ambulance. 

“That’s exactly what we want,” I note, eerily calm for once, as Liam pushes Theo back. 

“Cause if the ghost riders are here, that means they’re not trying to get to Scott.” 

I roll my eyes, trying to calm both boys as they waste time arguing, swallowing the lump in my throat as I do. “We don’t have time for this,” I tell them, feeling Liam wilt, the anger in his throat easing up. 

“So you don’t care if they get to you?”

“They’re going to get to all of us eventually.”

“You! You’re going first. That’s the only reason I’m with you,” Theo spits out, “because while they’re busy wrapping a whip around your neck, or shooting a hole in your head, I’ll be running the other direction. I’m on your side as long as it helps me.”

“Trust me, we know,” I snap, my hand wrapping around Theo’s arm and pulling him inside behind me, trusting that Liam will follow. We don’t have time for this. We don’t have time at all. 

And Lydia, I think, horror gnawing at me, the terror that threatens to paralyze me everytime I think about what will happen if we fail. If Scott can’t save the day this time. 

Peter’s probably sipping a pina colada in Miami by now. 

Theo comes to a sudden halt in front of me, having brushed past me as we walked in, pulling away from me. His shoulders tense as he stares into the hallway at things only he can see. 

“It isn’t real,” I whisper, knowing he can hear me clear as day, “you aren’t there anymore Theo.” 

“Great,” Liam mutters besides me, “now what.”

“Theo?” I repeat, tentatively placing my hand on his shoulder, getting his attention this time. 

“I’m fine,” he says, looking down at me and aggressively ignoring Liam’s questioning glances. “Just thought I was somewhere else for a second.”

“You’re not there anymore,” I utter softly, “and you never will be again.”

“Is that a promise El,” Theo says as he studies my face for a second, looking for something, a soft open look to his face I'd never seen before.

“Only if you want it to be,” I respond carefully, realizing how true my words are. I wouldn’t let them do something like that again. And if it came down to it, I don’t think Scott bare it either. 

The doors shake as thunder booms, sounding the arrival of the ghost riders. Liam’s siren trick worked. 

“You said you knew where to hide,” Theo says, glancing at Liam. 

“Follow me,” Liam says, with a questioning glance at me, which I ignore. I barely know what I’m doing. I know it’s stupid and foolish to care about Theo when I don’t even know if he can care about someone else, but I can’t help it. 

We run after Liam as he runs to wherever his idea is. 

*

Liam barricades the morgue door as I try not to touch anything, scared of what I’ll sense in here of all places. I hate hospitals. I hate how depressing they are. But most of all, I hate the cold spots where some had recently died. 

It was awful and no one had ever taken my fear seriously, thinking I was just a child, scared for no reason, never taken seriously, there was nothing more awful in the world then sensing people resigned to die.

Noting my discomfort, Theo turns to yell at Liam some more, his finger tracing circles into the smooth leather covering the back of my hand. “This is your brilliant idea! To barricade ourselves in the morgue!” 

“The ghost riders go after the living. So we hide with the dead.”

“Yeah no,” I tell Liam, “I’m pretty sure they know the difference between us and dead people. They’re not stupid Liam.”

“It’s worth a shot.”

“I’m not getting in one of those.”

“Me neither.”

“So we just wait here like sitting ducks then,” I say arching a brow at Liam. 

Theo sighs, peering out the door, “you should’ve left me in the holding cell.”

“I should’ve left you in the ground,” Liam spites out, staring Theo down. 

How was I stuck with these two idiots out of all the pack? They’d rather argue then do anything. 

“Oh really?”

“Yeah,” Liam says nodding, “Really.”

“What do you think I was doing down there?”

“Theo,” I start, “Scott would’ve never left you down there if he’d known-if we’d known what the skin walkers would do.” It’s a poor excuse, cold comfort because we had left him to rot in the ground and no one had protested because he’d been the villain and deserved it. That’s how it was supposed to go anyway.  

But no one deserves to be tortured in their own personal hell forever. 

Especially Theo who’d spent god only knows how long being manipulated and raised by the dread doctors. 

He smiles bitterly, “I doubt any of you lost much sleep over it.” Which wasn’t wrong. I hadn’t done anything about it even if I had felt bad about it. And neither had Scott, who'd only felt relieved at not having to make another difficult decision, and who could blame him, shoulders heavy with the weight of his pack and everyone in Beacon Hills.  

The rest of the pack had just been grateful that Kira had gotten rid of him, not caring what happened to him after. 

“Nothing you didn’t deserve,” Liam says coldly, having bared the blunt of Theo’s plans, “rotting down there.”


“Liam finally gets one thing right.”

“You deserved it,” Liam repeats, “after everything you did.”

“Is that right,” Theo mutters, looking away from Liam, gaze heavy and hollow. It was awful, what he’d been through. All of it since Tara died and he might have done awful things but at what point did he stop being the victim of circumstances and become a monster. Was there any difference or did it all seem the same to him?

We were supposed to be the heroes, didn’t that mean doing the right thing no matter what, no matter how much we wanted vengeance and blood for all our pain and suffering?

God, this was so messed up. 

“When the ghost riders find us, I’m not going to do anything for you. I’m not going to help you. I’m not going to save you. I’m going to do exactly what you would do to me. I’m going to use you as bait.”

“Don’t say that,” I say breathlessly to Liam, “you don’t mean that. Saving the day, protecting beacon hills, none of it means anything if we don’t do things the right way, if we’re not better than our enemies.” 

Liam chuckles bitterly, “Do you really believe the best of everyone or is it just because it’s Theo?”

I swallow hard, Liam’s words stinging my pride more than I thought they could. It’s all the thoughts I’ve been thinking. Even after everything, I still want. . .I still want to believe there’s something salvageable in Theo. 

Because I care. 

“You still hear the ambulance,” Theo says before I can recover and respond to Liam. “The siren, can you still hear it?” His voice loud in contrast with the rest of the building. 

All the usual buzz and movement inherent to a hospital gone. 

“They’re here,” Theo says, once it’s obvious that the ambulance has been silenced. 

I swallow, ready to face the ghost riders once more for better or worse. I think of Lydia waking up from dreams she cant recall, slipping through her fingers like smoke, all about a boy she doesn't remember. 

Of the faltering step as Scott turned to someone that never existed. 

The feeling of something missing, at the tip of all of our tongues. 

I can do this for everyone they’ve taken, but most of all, I can do this for Lydia who’s always scared people quiet when they’d whisper about me, her crazy cousin who knew things she had no way of knowing. 

Chapter Text

Liam looks over at me, “Mari, get behind me. If anything happens,” his eyes full of worry, none of the bitterness from earlier because at the end of the day the bond between us all, between pack, meant more then anything. 

We’d spend hours after school with the whole pack together, feeling stupid as we traced Scott’s pack symbol into the dirt, laughing at how serious and solemn Scott had been then. It had worked to his credit. 

We’d talked and laughed and things had felt good, had felt back to normal again, stronger than that because we’d been tested once more and survived, all the stronger for it. 

Bone heals stronger after it breaks, and so had we. 

“Don’t say that,” I says, lips drawn, “nothings going to happen.”

“But if it does,” he says grimly, no longer the dumb teenager who jumped off his roof and into the pool because if he missed he’d heal, “run.”

“Okay.” 

He nods and walks to the door, placing himself between me and the ghost riders, Theo’s face impassive as he watches the corridor. My mind instinctively reach for him, the hard and sharp sting of jealousy and longing bleeding through despite his best efforts. 

On anyone else it would be imperceptible, but he’s such a blank slate anything that manages to slip by stands out. 

He still wants a pack, the wolf in him lonely, the human in him just wanting to belong after so long. 

“So what’s the plan,” Theo says, without ceremony. 

“We rush them and run for it,” Liam says, more of a question then statement. 

“I really hate your plans.”

“Shut up Theo.”

They wordlessly move the metal table into position and I can’t help the sharp bitter feeling that coils in my chest at my lack of ability to help, to do anything in a fight. Always reliant on others to do the fighting for me. 

It wasn’t too bad when it was Lydia or Mason, both more brain and cunning that more then evened the odds, but even Stiles went around kicking up a fuss when overpowered. 

I had none of their ability to figure things out, to take all the pieces and help in a real tangible way. I hated it. 

The slight metallic clang of spurs sounds across the linoleum floor and Theo and Liam tense up, both their bodies ready to spring into action. 

They’re all too empty and cold to sense how many there might be outside, blending into each other, none of the million little quirks that distinguished one persons happiness from another’s joy. 

A  ghost rider comes to a still outside the doors and the boys burst through, ramming the ghost rider into the wall and knocking it out cold. Its unconsciousness feels no different from its awakened state, sending a chill running down my spine. 

One goes down and another four take its place. 

“Time to run,” I mutter, walking backwards, not wiling to let them out of my eyesight as they filled my bones with ice, “again.”

“Hide with the dead,” Theo says, already taking a step back.

Liam turns, breaking into a run and pulling me with him, “it was worth a try,” his hand iron around my wrist as he shoves me around the corner and into safety, Theo on our heels. 

Gunshots ring out behind us, the whooshing sound filling the hall as they explode on contact. 

Liam waits until they reach us, just as they’re turning to launch himself claws first at them, tackling the first one he can to the ground and bolting up, a shot narrowly missing his head as he turns to face the next ghost rider, the one on the floor already getting up. 

Theo cocks his head over at me before following suit, ghost of a smile on his lips and for a second I believe he can take them all before he throws the ghost rider taking aim at Liam against a wall. 

I push my hands into my temples as the throbbing pain that rises whenever they appear surges once more, threatening to split my head open, the numbing pain emanating from my head. 

Goosebumps appear on my arms as I try to imagine a wall, building it slowly, laying a layer of brick, pressing in the motor between each piece. 

My name is Mariella Gallagher. 

I am seventeen years old. 

My name is Mariella Gallagher. 

My cousin is Lydia Martin. 

I live in Beacon Hills. 

My name is-

I look up into the barrel of a gun, the ghost rider clicking off the safety and I let go,   the hands clutching my skull relaxing their hold on my hair. Ice in my veins, numb, and peer right up at it. 

Feeling as raw and empty as the ghost rider appeared, a black mirror. 

It turned, face sliding from mine as Theo grabs a hold of it, dragging it away-away from. . .me? I shake my head, caching my breathe as I watch, everything playing out in front of me, feeling disconnected. 

No sounds, no smells, nothing. 

My head tilting as I see but can’t comprehend, threads of thought evaporating as soon as I try and tie them together. Nothing. 

Nothing. 

I feel scrubbed raw and bloody, head lightheaded the way I always do after a long cry. 

Liam and Theo lock the ghost riders into a room but even the colors seem leeched from the world. Everything that happens. . .I feel disconnected, pulled away from the . . .my body isn’t real?

Movements slow, air thick like. . .honey. . .I could blow away like smoke in the air. Blow far far away. 

East of sun and west of moon. 

“El,” someone calls distantly. “El?”

I peer at a girl, eyes vacant as she stands still. A boy’s hand on her cheek as he turns her chin towards him. 

I think that was-is. . .

“huh,” I ask, looking wildly around. 

“Stay with me El,” Theo whispers.

“They’re everywhere,” Liam notes, looking curiously at us while he listened as best as he was able to, tracking the ghost riders movements on different floors. 

“Good,” I note. One less thing for Lydia and Scott to worry about. They’d remember Stiles and Malia and Kira could take any wayward ghost riders that hadn’t come here. 

“Really,” Theo snarls, looking at us both disbelieving, mossy eyes flat, sneering, “you really need me to remind you that getting captured by the ghost riders isn’t going to help save your friends?”

Before Liam can snap back, eyes flashing at Theo, the silhouettes of more oncoming ghost riders fills the hall like macabre shadow puppets. 

Instead, he sighs, “we’re all getting caught. You can do it while you’re running. I’m going down fighting.”

I laugh in spite of myself, “like big damn heroes,” smiling over at Liam. It feels wrong. My lips smiling even as the terror of being taken, the look in Hayden’s eyes as she resigned herself to her fate, make me want to scream and never stop. To scream until my throat goes hoarse. 

I turn to face the oncoming riders, Liam growling besides me, claws sharp. 

“Don’t be stupid El,” Theo utters, “go.” 

“El,” he snarls. 

I ignore him. 

Liam roars. 

They charge. 

*

Theo barely dodges a whip, falling to the ground. 

The cold heart stone in the pit of my stomach grows heavy, tongue pressing hard to the roof of my mouth as I stand over him, staring down the ghost rider. My will is iron as it palms it’s whip drawing closer. 

All the rabbit brained fear, the panic that has sent so many running as the whip cracks and takes them, backs turned, the crushing hopeless I’ve been privy to ever since we’d found that boy, ever since Corey had pulled one of them into our world swells up inside of me. 

Theo had once said that my mind acted like a two way street, pulling everything and sending anything, but it didn’t have to be. It was my mind, and I could control it and I wanted them to feel that same panic and fear. 

My face twists in concentration, angry and tired and so done with this supernatural bullshit. 

It raises it’s hand, ready to send it’s whip flying and I focus, sending all that paralyzing fear like a knife and jamming it right into the empty space where it’s mind should be, the empty pit that was it’s mind. Erased and gone and the perfect mirror. 

The whip slips out of it’s hand, body hitting the floor with a dull thunk. 

I let a breath I hand’t known I’d been holding out, laughter threatening to spill out in relief but this isn’t over. 

Theo shoves me out of the way as another ghost rider strikes and I am left helpless once more, drained and fighting the heaviness creeping into my eyes. It’s stronger than Theo, but he’s clever, wrestling the gun from it and shooting the thing. 

Then whipping around to shoot the one that has Liam pinned down, before looking over at me, “you couldn’t have done that to all of them?”

My eyes are wide, still shocked that I’d even managed to control, really control and use what ever abilities I had, “I-I don’t. . .I’m not even sure what I did.” 

Liam grins at us both, “and you thought my plan sucked.”

“It still sucks,” I retort as more ghost riders appear. 

“Cut off one head,” Liam mutters under his breath, fangs elongating once more,  “and two more grow back.” He roars, his fear never lasting long before it transforms into red hot pipping anger, rushing through his veins and blocking all else out. 

Theo rolls his eyes, wrapping his arms around the beta as he yells, “let’s go,” and dragging Liam into the elevator. “El that means you too,” he snaps, but my feet stay rooted to the ground. 

The elevators doors shut and the ghost riders charge once more, Theo growling behind me, “El,” he urges, “run.” He charges them and it’s an eerie sensation to have nothing rise out from them. No anger, no determination, just robotically following command. No that wasn’t right. There was no queen or king giving handing down orders here. 

Just a hive mind, following their nature, following their purpose in the natural order. Nothing but vessels for a force older and more powerful than any of us. 

With a deep sigh, I steel myself, pushing all other thoughts and sounds out of mind, for what I am about to do. Supplanting the sheriff’s emotions had been difficult because he already had some to start with, and I’d had to change them. Changing will’s-this should be easy. 

I close my eyes, hands shaking so hard I have to clench them into fists, nails digging into my skin. 

Force them. 

My will, my feelings, all mine. 

I feel for those cold hard empty spaces, the lack of something sending a nauseating feeling through me, the way a black hole seems to go against everything in nature. Anti-matter. 

I can’t remember anything Lydia told me about it. Her words often going above my head as she talked at me, going through her thoughts out loud. 

Focus. 

I grab ahold of those cold empty spaces, and think of all the love I have for my cousin, my aunt, my friends who’d do anything, even for a boy they didn’t know, for Allison that had carried Ethan out of the club, so dedicated to her new motto. Scott’s warm smile as we’d traced his dorky circles into the ground, Liam and Stiles breaking out into lightsaber fights not ten minutes later as Stiles complained about disney scarping his extended canon. 

Corey had stayed on the eyes watching us all, until Mason and I had grabbed his hands and dragged 

Lydia painting my nails in my room, carefully splaying the brush until every spot was evenly coated, neither of us feeling the need to talk after a long week at school. They way Kira and Malia would sleepover, Malia claiming all the pillows early on in the night as we all laid in Lydia’s bed, Kira’s foot nudging mine while Malia and Lydia bickered. 

Kira’s smile as she forced me along to a school dance, turning her boyfriend down who pouted and complained all week, before laughing as we all danced together, forming our own little spot on the dance floor. 

Her fingers braiding my hair as she smiled knowingly after watching me and Theo talk, his lips full of such sweet lies and-

and the way he’d believed me about everything. The only person who’d believed I wasn’t crazy or hearing things. Who wouldn’t give me those pitying or worse, indulgent smiles as I tried to explain what was happening. 

Theo who had chosen to stay and fight and saved Liam’s neck twice in the last hour. 

Focus. 

I imagine all that warm love pouring out of me, amplified as it travels from one ghost rider to another, mirroring and focusing my deep rooted tenderness I had for my friends, who were more of a family, a pack, and send it smashing into the ghost riders. 

*

Theo’s shirt is ripped to shreds under my cheek, his arms propping me up against his chest as I regain consciousness, fog clouding everything. His hand rubs the back of mine as he clasps it against his chest, rising over his heart, beating solidly under my hand, ungloved. 

For once, I don’t sense a brick wall of deceptive calm, fake like artificial sweetener. There’s just a wave of relief before he speaks, “Don’t do that to me again,” a mere whisper befitting the empty hall. 

I jolt, glancing around wildly, remembering the mass of ghost riders. He pulls me closer against him, “Don’t you dare do that to me again.”

Confused, I ask, “do what,” racking my brain together to piece together what happened and how I had ended up here. Not that I minded being held by Theo. Sometimes you need a monster of your own to keep all the others at bay. 

His eyes widen, the deep green of his eyes staring into mine, for once, he’s at a loss for words. 

Theo looks away, swallowing thickly, his hold on me tight even as I sit up, bones aching. “You took them all out El,” his hand stilling over mine, “the whole hospital.”

I panic, “like-killed them?”

He shrugs, “they just dissolved into the green dust like their victims do.” Theo meets my searching gaze once more, his lips so close to mine I can feel his warm breath tickling my skin. “I knew you could.”

“Well,” I admit, “I just listened to your advice.”

He laughs humorlessly, smiling crookedly, “didn’t anyone ever tell you not to listen to a word I say.”

“You never hurt me.”

“That’s not true,” he says quietly, as we both think of Lydia and how angry I’d been when my aunt had placed her in that place. How scared I was that she would do the same to me. 

“You know what I mean,” I say softly, hoping I’m not reading this all wrong, “you didn’t use me.”

“I didn’t need to,” he says, bringing a hand up to my cheek, caressing my skin soft tenderly it sends warm tingles throughout my body. “You were a non factor.”

My eyes narrow, “you could have lied and said Mariella if I’d used you all my plans would have fallen apart because you’re too powerful.”

He laughs quietly, shoulders shaking as he looks down at my, hand stilling on my chin, tilting my head closer to his so that out foreheads are resting against each other. 

A longing runs from the base of my throat, wanting nothing more than to kiss him, but I can’t summon the courage to do it. The last thing I want is to scare Theo away. 

“Is that what you want from me,” he wonders softly, “lies? Because I can tell you any lie you want to hear if that’s what you want.”

“No,” I respond, studying the dirt on his jaw, the mole on his cheek that I’d thought of kissing before everything had gone to hell like it inevitably does in this town. “I just want you to be you.”

“Even if I’m a horrible person that’s done awful things,” he says, barely audible. 

“I don’t think you’re a horrible person,” I confess, “and maybe thats a mistake, but I don’t think anyone is ever bad or good, except maybe for Scott. I think people do bad things, just like they do good things, but that doesn’t make them good or bad.” My words are clumsy and I blush feeling stupid. 

Theo smiles, his hand dragging me forward catching my lips with his, kissing so hard, like I’ll disappear if he lets go for even a second. My first kiss and my heart can’t stop racing, leaning into him, kissing him back eagerly. 

My hands grip his ripped shirt, unafraid of anything I might sense, lost in Theo, in the feeling of his lips against mine, lighting my skin on fire with desire. 

He pulls away first, leaving me breathless, and yearning for more. 

“We need to find Liam and the others,” he states, reluctantly, his hands grasping mine. 

“You’re probably right,” I utter, standing up and dusting my jeans from the grime of the floor. “Gloves,” I say, hand outstretched towards Theo.

He chuckles, lips pulling up into his signature smirk, “you really think you still need them after that?”

“Theo, I still can’t control it. That was a one off.”

He shakes his head, “You don’t really believe that do you,” but hands over the gloves anyway much to my relief.

I pull the soft leather over my hands and follow behind Theo, walking back out into the hallway. But instead of the linoleum floors, we’re treated with railroad tracks coating the ground, railroad tracks crisscrossing beacon hills leading await some other unknown place, the focal point. 

“I bet it’s the high school,” I mutter, “it’s always the high school.”

“Let’s go,” he says grimacing even as he leads the way however reluctantly, not really believing he was really walking towards the very ghost riders we’d barely escaped from. 

Chapter Text

The hospital might have been cleared of ghost riders, but as soon as we start walking along the train tracks more ghost riders appear, wandering around. There’s not as many as there were back at the hospital, so maybe they weren’t actively hunting for us. Then there’s the train tracks themselves and the whole town is off. 

“El,” Theo mutters, eyes glowing bright, “could really use some help here.”

I reach out, sensing  the cold never-ending black hole of the ghost riders, but my mind snaps back like a rubber band stretched out to far, pain flaring up in thee front of my skull, “I don’t think I’ll be much help,” I tell him, hands trembling. 

“Get behind me,” Theo growls before attacking the nearest ghost rider. 

I roll my eyes, ducking away from the other and scrambling to avoid shotgun shells. At least there’s only two so far. It could be worse. 

The whole town’s infested but what do the train tracks mean. 

Theo pushes me out of the way, sending me tumbling to the ground as a whip snaps where I had just been standing, “really feel like you didn’t listen to me,” arms wrapping around the ghost rider tightly until bone snaps in a sickening crunch. 

“The train tracks aren’t supposed to be visible,” I mutter, getting up and dusting my knees off as Theo dives after the other ghost rider, “it took Corey making one visible,” I trail off. This must be the last phase of taking an entire town. We were running out of time and could only hope that Scott had remembered by now and was out there stopping the wild hunt. 

The wild hunt. 

My brow furrows, trying to recall all the childhood stories my dad used to tell me before bedtime, before when he could still look at me without that sad pitiful gaze, guilt rolling off him like it was his fault I was so messed up. “This isn’t right,” I mutter, before someone grabs a hold of my shoulder, my hand clenching into a fist like Kira had shown me and swinging back as I pivot. 

Theo easily catches my hands with his wrist, “it’s just me,” he utters, looking me over before letting go. 

“The wild hunt was always in pursuit of something, or just always chasing after, hunters who’s bloodlust would never-never rest,” I think out loud, wracking my brain for any information that could be helpful, “they’re only sometimes supposed to take witnesses.”

“Maybe they got bored,” Theo shrugs, pulling me along behind him, his eyes returning to their normal deep blue hue, “I don’t know or care.”

I shake my head, “it just doesn’t make sense why they would stay here unless the can’t move on.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Theo snaps, “El it doesn’t matter why it just matters that we survive.”

“The wild hunt was supposed to be made up of fairies and humans and elves although I guess elves would be a type of fae,” sounding as disappointed as I felt recalling bits and pieces of the story involving the wild hunt my father had told me, about the girl who joins all to get away from some awful arranged marriage back in ye olden times. “I think they’re stuck here. If we can figure out how to get them unstuck then they’ll move on.”

Theo looks back at me, the school finally looming into view along with more ghost riders, “El don’t you dare get any ideas.”

“We have to figure out how to the advert the train,” I tell him, eyes glancing around eagerly, if we knew what to do it was only a matter of time before we fixed it. 

“El,” Theo says warningly, “run.” 

I look at the tracks from where we came, from where we were headed and ran towards the school, following the ones that were from neither place, hoping they’d lead to somewhere better, to where I needed to go. 

A ghost rider knocks me aside, making me land on the cold hard ground, pain stinging through my hands as I catch myself, immediately rolling over and trying to get away as it raises it’s gun, pointing at me. 

The safety clicks off and I squeeze my eyes shut, preparing for what comes next. 

A gunshot goes off.

“El,” Theo mutters, “you’ve really got to work on the running away part,” a ghost rider’s gun in hand

“It’s beacon Hills,” I retort, my heart still racing, terrified, “no where is safe.”

He laughs humorlessly, “just don’t stop moving, I’m right behind you.”

“I know,” I tell him, feeling a swell of tenderness well up even as he turns back, swearing as the gun runs out of shots because of course it does, only never ending bullets for our enemies. 

Myles burn as I race up the stairs, sensing the glowing bright mind that is Kira, glowing and warm and safe like campfires are. And more ghost riders. 

“Kira,” I yell.

“Mari,” she says looking over and getting thrown back for her troubles as Liam tackles the ghost rider before he can get to her, her eyes glow eerily and lighting strikes another ghost rider, smoke oozing off the body. 

“I know how to stop the ghost riders!”

“What really,” Liam yells out, as he tries to beat a ghost rider into submission, Kira rushing to help him but there’s always too many. 

“Yes,” I say, yelping before a ghost rider grabs me from behind in a chokehold, my hands beating uselessly against it’s arm, the leather of my gloves an irritating barriers, my mind uselessly trying to hound down upon it, for once unable to reach out. 

I scream, dread filling my bones with lead. 

“Mari,” Kira yells rushing to my aid, but there’s two more ghost riders between us but she won’t make it in time. 

My throat burns as it’s grip tightens and my eyes burn. 

I try again, using all of my strength to bear down on it, trying to grab hold of it’s mind and it keeps slipping, like smoke. 

I hear a roar behind me and know it’s Theo. My grip relaxing because he’d never let anything happen to me, even if he’d never admit it. 

The ghost rider’s grip loosens as Theo attacks, and I push hard against it, breath knocking out as my windpipe gets crush before breaking free, gulping for mouthfuls of air as I collapse on the ground. 

“Mari,” Kira yells, hugging me for a second before turning around and knocking and approaching ghost rider to the ground, small sparks of electricity dancing between her fingers. 

“Hey you made it out,” Liam yells over to Theo, dodging a ghost rider. 

“Yeah, barely! What’s the plan?”

“Uh steal the horse and get to the hunt.”

“Tell me he’s kidding,” I choke out, getting up and so over getting knocked to the ground for the hundredth time that day.

Kira smiles grimly, “afraid not. I sort of followed him to make sure he didn’t get himself killed. But stiles is back.”

I shake my head, “no, the ghost riders have brought the hunt here for some reason.”

“I went through all this to keep you from being taken,” Theo spites out from between a mouthful of fangs, grip tight on a ghost rider.

“Not like I helped or anything,” I mutter as Kira grins, taking down her ghost rider. 

“You need a hand,” Liam offers. 

“I’m good.” And he breaks the ghost rider’s spine, if they even have that, it sure sound like they do. “Go already! Go!”

Liam looks over at Kira and I, Kira panting as she catches her breathe, nodding at him, and leaps over the rail and down to the lonely horse on the ground floor. I wonder what school policy is on bringing a horse to school?

The three of us watch as Liam mounts the horse. 

“You know how to ride a horse,” Theo genuinely asks. 

“Not really,” Liam admits before ridding off into the gloomy night. 

“Where’s Scott and stiles,” I ask Kira, voice still hoarse. 

“Off to save the day,” she tells me, this time really hugging me, crushing me against her, warm and comforting, smelling every bit like the cherry blossom body mist Lydia had given her for galentines day. “You said something about knowing how to stop them.”

I shake my head , “Not stop them. They’re the wild hunt they don’t stop. But they should move on and continue hunting and doing whatever it is they do when not wreaking havoc in small towns.”

“How,” she asks?

“Divert the train, divert the wild hunt.”

“We also have to deal with Douglas,” she says, “he has some sort of plan for the ghost riders.”

“He wants to make them his own personal army,” Theo adds, “and he can control them now that he’s eaten their pineal gland.”

Before Kira can ask I tell her , “it’s fine.”

“Okay,” she says slowly, “that’s pretty much Stiles’ plan.”

“So peter was right,” I say unable to help smiling, remembering his words, “save Stiles to get a plan.”

Kira laughs, her whole face lighting up as she does and I laugh with her for a second before wincing. 

“El,” Theo mutters, rushing to my side, his hand tilting my chin up and studying the bruises I can already feel forming. 

For a second I’m terrified he’ll try to take my pain, Kira rating an eyebrow up at me. 

“I’ll be fine,” I say, pulling away before finding out if that thought had even crossed his mind. “Let’s just go help Scott and Stiles.”

*

Kira takes the lead, Theo trailing behind us as we follow the train tracks leading into the woods. 

“You got Liam to break the sword,” Kira states, breaking the eerie silence that only serves to make everything seem more hopeless than it is. 

“I did,” Theo answers unapologetically. 

“I’ve fixed it before,” Kira says much too carefully to be anything but a warning, “it is a supernatural sword after all.”

A flash of panic spikes from Theo and it takes everything I have not to look back at him. 

“Figures,” is his only response, flat. I can imagine that’s how his features are, carefully arranged to give nothing away. 

“You’re not sending him back,” I tell her harshly, surprising myself. 

Her resolve falters as she meets my hard gaze, voice gentle as she replies, “of course not. that’s not what I meant Mari just,” she sighs, seemingly at a loss for words. Kira turns back to Theo, “just don’t do anything stupid.” And then proceeds to ignore him. 

Back ramrod straight as she marches forward. 

*

When we arrive at the tracks, Scott is already there, facing off against Douglas and his army of ghost riders which is wrong, knowledge sitting like a stone in my stomach, alone. 

Kira and Theo have not hesitation, racing forward, “He has a pack, “they both yell.”

“And Theo’s not in it,” Malia says arriving along with Peter, never one to ignore being brutally honest even in life or death situations. 

“No one likes a Nazi,” Peter states, before ether all charge, Scott growing stronger in the presence of his pack.

I look around, spying the switch for the tracks, eyes flickering between the lever and the amount of ghost riders here. They’re stronger than my pack. And now they’re under Douglas’ influence, their minds flickering with the echo of him ringing around in their skull. It’s probably the same as what I did earlier. 

No. 

I didn’t make them do anything, just stop them. 

It’s not the same. 

I walk out from behind the trees, latching onto the first ghost rider I spot and nudging him back over the edge, into the abyss that is them, mind frosting over as I do, any cool collected rage wiped clean and it turns to Douglas. 

Then I turn to the next, and setting them against their would be master. 

Every one I free is one less enemy my friends have to fight, one less to deal with, their minds swirling like a winter frost around my own, frost settling into my bones, I ignore it and carry on. 

Knocking the echo, like glass, of Douglas off them. 

“What are you doing little girl.” Douglas say, standing infant of me, eye growing a toxic green. He’s a real beast in his lion form. 

Scott pulls the lever and the train passes harmlessly on. 

As it should.

Nature falling back into place.

“The ghost riders have no leader,” we say, looking over at Douglas, the lay lines rearranging to their proper order, falling into place, shivers running through our bodies as we can finally carry on. The smell of blood in the air, the wind carrying us along. 

There is nothing but the hunt. 

There is nothing like the hunt. 

The hunt. 

“El you can stop now,” a voice carries over from my side, worried. We shake it off, growing ever closer to the german were-lion, ignoring his pleas. He will know nothing but the hunt. 

“Mari!”

Ice sinks into my throat, pulling me away, untethering me. 

There is nothing but the-

Someone grips me back, pinning me back against their chest. 

No. 

Heavy like a stone, surrounding him, lightning striking, thunder booming, The hunt. The hunt. 

He will ride the hunt. 

An eternity tied to the wind, tied to-

My hand try to pry off the grip around em, feeling the call of the hunt in the air, my body frenzied, mind swimming as it’s call passes through. It calls and blooms and is-

Cold and empty. 

“El,” Theo whispers against the shell of my ear, “El, it’s okay. You’re okay,” his grip never slipping even as I thrash, my hands cold and burning even through the leather. 

I remember. . .myself. My body, my mind, the lines between me and them reforming. I am. I am. 

“My name is Mariella Gallagher,” I whisper, “My name is Mairella Gallagher,” I chant, afraid that if I stop I’ll forget, for good, the metallic tang of blood on my lips. When had I gotten hurt?

My legs give out under me, collapsing against Theo, drained and tired and shivering from the cold. 

“Gehorcht mir,” Douglas growls out desperately as the ghost rider surround him and claim him as theirs, the process every bit as grotesque as they are. 

I swallow hard, but force myself to look. 

“So that’s it right,” Peter finally says, “we’re good.”

Malia scowls, “Yes Peter, you can go back to pretending not to care.”

“Mari,” Kira says carefully, still sounding muted and distant, a strange longing in the pit of my stomach for the wind in my face, for the earth under my toes. “You’re bleeding.”

“El?”

I reply slowly, working through the fog, “I’ll be fine. I think.” My smile failing to reassure them all. 

“How did you,” Scott asks carefully, “you were stopping them.”

“Is this really the time Scott,” Theo replies patronizingly.

“Shut up Theo,” Malia spites out, acidly. 

“I think I’m going to close my eyes for a second,” I whisper, eyelids heavy and exhausted. 

“Is that a good idea,” Kira says, glancing around at everyone. 

I don’t hear the response, because I’m already more asleep then awake, drifting off into dreamless sleep.