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Page 212[]

Elias: Wow.
Malaya: Okay, so that'll be one small hot chocolate with soy milk and a medium half-caf mocha latte, whipped cream on both...
Charlene: I've got a medium americano for Jill and a hot tea for Liz!
Elias: Uh, Mal?
Malaya: Oh, hey!
Elias: You need any help?
Malaya: Sure! If you wanna help bus some tables, I can pay you in food when the line dies down.
Elias: On it!

Page 213[]

Elias: Is it normally this busy?
Malaya: We did it!
Charlene: Morning rush is over! We're mostly clear til lunch!

Page 214[]

Malaya: I can take those!
Elias: Oh! Sure...
Malaya: Let me know what you want to eat so I can pay you for your help!
Elias: Um, I gotta think about it...
Elias: Hello?
Charlene: Something's up with you, wolf boy. Your energy is off.
Elias: Uh...
Malaya: Hey, how did your talk with your mom go?

Page 215[]

Elias: Well... Not great. Mom told me how her meeting with the werewolf council went...
Sara: I didn't give him permission to get involved, and I made it clear that Elias would be out of the Ross pack if he dealt with these rogue werewolves on his own. There are five of them, by the way. All pretty young. From what we can tell there's probably a witch inside the house, too.
Irena: It doens't matter what he found, Sara!
Irena: Your son could have dragged us all into this mess without permission, so it's your pack's problem now. These weirdos are on the border of your territory so yoou deal with them. My pack votes to stay out of it.
Phil: Irena, you'd vote to keep your pack out of the yearly potluck if we let you...
Irena: No one ever eats my damn potato salad!
Sara: Oh my god...

Page 216[]

Elias: Then they ended up creating a subcommittee to discuss formalizing an emergency procedure... ... bringing the bureaucratic nightmare to completion. So, basically...
Elias: I'm kicked out of my pack until further notice... to "discourage action without the mandate of the council" by any other werewolves. I'm a bad influence, clearly.
Charlene: Damn, that's harsh.
Charlene: I mean, isn't pack kind of everything to you guys? You've never been a free agent before, right?
Elias: Well, I'm still allowed to stay with Marin and Marisa, and I've got some leftover Hanukkah money that'll tide me over until I get a job... but I've always been my mom's right-hand man. That was my life that was supposed to be my future.
Elias: What do I do with myself now?
Malaya: I have a position available. You could work here... um, if you want?
Elias: Really?

Page 217[]

Malaya: Absolutely! If you can't go back to your pack for now, then you can join mine and make coffee for weirdos.
Elias: I'm hugging you now.
Malaya: Oh! Okay, cool.
Elias: I don't know anything about coffee!
Malaya: I'll teach you about coffee, you teach me about werewolves.
Elias: A fair plan.
Charlene: Hey, if you're around even more, then maybe we can all put our heads together and figure out what's up with the house in the woods finally.
Elias: Good idea! We still need to piece together the bigger picture.

Page 218[]

Malaya: Wait... Do we really still need to worry about that other pack? They're not dead or whatever?
Charlene: My bet is that they're more "whatever" than dead, Mal.
Elias: Even if they are dead, we still need more info... We need to know why they're here in the first place, if they're connected with any other packs that might retaliate, who's casting all that magic around the house, so on and so forth...
Malaya: Damn.
Elias: I agree.
Charlene: I know there's a witch in that house. If I can get my hands on something the witch has touched, I should be able to use that object to fuel a vision or two.
Malaya: Vision?
Charlene: I can see bits of a person's past and future. Never a complete picture but enough to give us some clues.

Page 219[]

Malaya: Wow, really? What else can you do, Charlene?
Charlene: I mean that's about it!
Elias: I get random visions, like the one that sent me to find you, Mal... Or if I have an object, I can get more specific visions. My primary skill is creating illusions, but it feels like that's a whole different type of magic, I guess.
Malaya: Witches are so neat. Like, that magic is real and stuff. Elias, you want something to drink?
Elias: Um, sure. Can I get a vanilla latte? And I agree, magic is the bees knees.
Charlene: Well, I'm happy you think my magic capabilities are praiseworthy. If we can find a way to put them to use. Maybe we can finish dealing with this other pack and move on with our lives.
Marisa: Who are we putting the moves on?

Page 220[]

Elias: Marisa! There's no one for me to put any moves on here.
Marisa: That's a shame, Eli. Too man ladies, not enough mans. Why are you behiind the counter?
Elias: We were discussing the creepy house in the woods.
Marisa: Nice.
Marisa: I can't stay long, 'cause I'm off to work, but I need a caffeine first. Like, something just short of strong enough to kill me, please.
Malaya: Try "The Mannheim Rocket." Two shots of espresso, ginger, a bit of cayenne pepper, milk, and honey.
Malaya: Here, Eli.
Elias: Thanks!
Marisa: Yep, I'll take that! A medium, and soy milk, por favor.
Elias: When do you get done tonight?
Marisa: Midnight. Then one more twelve hour shift tomorrow.
Elias: We're still going shopping Saturday?
Marisa: Yep!
Elias: You guys should come shopping with us!

Page 221[]

Charlene: I'm good. Not that I don't like you guys, but I don't need to be spending more money. I spent enough moving up here from New Orleans.
Malaya: I mean, I'm working that afternoon, so...
Charlene: I'll swap you my morning shift, Mal.
Malaya: Oh! Well...
Malaya: I haven't gone to an actual store since I was little... before I was bitten. I buy everything online, or my mom buys it for me.
Charlene: Great! You'll have two werewolves to stop you if you try and shank someone with your claws.
Malaya: Huh.

Page 222[]

Malaya: Here's your drink!
Maria: Thanks! What do I owe you?
Malaya: Oh, on the house. Don't worry about it.
Marisa: Oh! Awesome!
Elias: You okay?
Malaya: I guess. Shopping might be fun.
Elias: Sure, you look super convinced.
Malaya: I just... have gotten really used to existing in this very narrow, comfortable space. If it meant not mauling strangers, ... then limiting myself always seemed justified.
Malaya: Home, the coffee shop, the occasional brief walk to campus to meet Vincent, the forest around my house sometimes... I got to interact with people on my terms, so it was fine... Malaya: But getting the hang of this werewolf thing means that I won't need those limits anymore. I can do whatever I want.
Malaya: That's kind of exciting, but it's sort of terrifying, also.

Page 223[]

Elias: If you come shopping with us, I promise to not let you tear anyone's face off.
Marisa: And I promise to stop Marin from trying to dress you whenever you decide she's exhausted your patience.
Malaya: I suppose... I can give it a shot?
Marisa: Awesome! I gotta get to work, but hang in there! We'll make sure it's fun-ish.
Elias: Um, I... have to go, too. I have a... thing.
Malaya: I still owe you food, though!
Elias: It's cool! I ate all of Marisa's eggs and bacon for breakfast!
Charlene: Well, that wasn't a sketchy exit at all.
Malaya: I kind of want eggs and bacon now.

Page 224[]

Vincent: Hmmm...

Page 225[]

Elias: Heeeyyyy.
Vincent: You were following me.
Elias: Uh, yeah. Sorry. I wanted to make sure no one was following you to... um, kidnap you again.
Vincent: You were following me to stop other people from following me?
Elias: Yes?
Vincent: Oh. Um... you didn't have to hide. How'd you know where I was?

Page 226[]

Elias: Okay... funny story. Um, your mom gave me your schedule. I told her I wanted to make sure you weren't in danger of being stolen again, and she made me promise I would keep you safe...
Elias: Which like, I was going to do anyway, 'cause I still feel like this is all kind of my fault, but... you know... and then I followed your scent to figure out where you were on campus, but not in a creepy way... and you blocked out time on your schedule for sleeping, which I thought was really cute... I didn't say that...
Vincent: That... sounds like my mom. I guess... if you wanted to sit in on some of my classes today, that would be okay... Um, or good... I'd appreciate it. I guess.
Elias: Yeah, I can do that! I've never been to a college class before...
Vincent: Wait... you followed my scent?
Elias: I am a werewolf.
Vincent: ...Okay.

Page 227[]

Elias: Maybe that's what I can do with myself now... going back to school. I could at least apply, maybe.
Vincent: I thought your mom was grooming you to take over your pack or something...
Elias: Yeah, I got kicked out of my pack, so now I have a lot of spare time I don't know what to do with.
Vincent: What?
Elias: I disobeyed standard procedure by saving you without the consensus of the werewolf council.
Vincent: What does... what does it mean to be kicked out of your pack?
Elias: Um... It's kind of like... if your family said they loved you, but then shoved you out the door with whatever money you had in your pockets. And you can't contact the rest of your family without permission, so you're crashing on your friends' couch because that's the only place you can go without getting into more trouble.
Vincent: Wow. Shit.
Elias: Yep.

Page 228[]

Vincent: I can't really make it up to you for saving me... but you know... if you ever need anything... If there's something I can do... let me know, I guess.
Elias: Thanks, I will.
Vincent: For now... um, you wanna get lunch after class? I'll treat.
Elias: You sure? Werewolves eat a lot.
Vincent: I can afford to buy you two sandwiches.
Elias: I will accept those sandwiches.
Elias: Hey, how'd you know I was behind that tree?
Vincent: I figured if anyone was following me, it was either you, or you'd come help me if it was someone else.
Elias: I would. I would come find you and I'd beat up that someone else.
Vincent: In broad daylight?
Elias: Yes, but then you'd owe me three sandwiches.
Elias: And bail money.

Page 229[]

Malaya: Shopping...
Malaya: Going to the mall shouldn't be such a big deal for someone who's already twenty-five...
Malaya: But, when you could potentially maul a stranger in a moment of panic while they're just trying to pick out a new shirt...
Malaya: Whatever. I need to run off this anxiety before dinner.

Page 230[]

Malaya: I wonder if I can make it over the creek...
Malaya: Yes, Yes I can.

Page 231[]

Malaya: This is the only way I know how to shut the world out for a little while... where my senses don't feel overloaded...
Malaya: Where all the possibilities for the future don't seem so overwhelming...
Malaya: Oh...
Malaya: I ran back to the clearing near the weird house without thinking...
Malaya: Oh shit! That other werewolf is here.

Page 232[]

Aubrey: I can hear you.
Aubrey: I'm not going to do anything to you. I couldn't if I wanted to.
Malaya: Is this a trick? You're going to ambush me.
Aubrey: It's not a trick. I nearly passed out getting up this hill. I can't run away from you, either, so please don't kill me.
Malaya: I don't believe me.
Aubrey: Then leave.
Malaya: ... No.
Malaya: You told me your name before... You're... Audrey?
Aubrey: Aubrey. With a "B" as in "bird."
Malaya: Aubrey.
Malaya: It's just... you've put my family through so much, lately. First you tried to fight me in an alley, then you left a dead deer on my lawn, then you kidnapped my brother and tied up my friend...

Page 233[]

Aubrey: I know an apology's not worth much, but if it helps... You don't have to worry about me, or the rest of us, anymore. Mama is dying and we're going down with her.
Aubrey: We're all used up, like a car battery with no juice.
Malaya: That's... complicated. I'm sorry?
Malaya: Mama? So, you have another werewolf in there who's the mom to... all of you? Somehow?
Aubrey: Nah, she's only my biological mom, no on else's. She's not a werewolf.
Malaya: Soooo, you were born a human?
Aubrey:I was born a werewolf.
Malaya: But your mom isn't a werewolf?
Aubrey: My mom is a witch.
Malaya: Your mom is the witch we've been looking for!
Aubrey: Uh, sure?

Page 234[]

Malaya: Wait... how does a witch give birth to a werewolf!?
Aubrey: My dad was a werewolf.
Malaya: Oh. Um... How does that work?
Aubrey: I'll just... tell you what I know so you can stop asking me questions.
Aubrey: Mama used to be kind of a big deal. She was sort of famous as far as witches go, but I don't exactly know what that means. She was going out with a local werewolf named Thomas. She's never told me more about him than his name. She ended up pregnant with me, and Thomas left Mama after she begged him to stay.
Aubrey: Mama never told me much about how magic works, but she did say that to make a werewolf, you need magic.
Aubrey: Like, a lot of magic.

Page 235[]

Aubrey: So when Thomas left her, I guess... I kind of sucked her dry. The pregnancy took up all the magic she had and then some.
Aubrey: Mama likes to bring that up a lot. That she nearly died just to have me.
Aubrey: I don't know how she turned the rest of my... family.
Aubrey: I'm not really allowed to ask questions.
Aubrey: I think... I'm pretty sure she turned you too.
Malaya: Wait, really?
Aubrey: I can't guaranteed anything, but Connie said you belong with our pack, so I'm guessing that's what she meant.

Page 236[]

Charlene: If I can get my hands on something the witch has touched, I should be able to use that object to fuel a vision or two.
Malaya: If you can get me an object she's touched, my friend might be able to use it to have a vision and find out more about your mom...
Aubrey: My mom's name is Connie.
Malaya: Connie? Okay, we can find out more about Connie's deal and maybe we can get all of you out of there.
Aubrey: That's... It's nice of you to offer, but really... we're dealing with the situation.
Malaya: Isn't it worth at least trying to see if my friend can help you... instead of waiting around to die?
Aubrey: I mean, yeah, I guess...
Malaya: Soooo... Can you get something she's touched?
Aubrey: ...Maybe.
Malaya: "Maybe" as in, you don't know if you can get me an object from your house, or "maybe" as in you don't want to?

Page 237[]

Aubrey: "Maybe" as in... why would you help me? If you just ignore us for a little longer, we'll all be dead and it won't matter anymore.
Malaya: Okay, um... I mostly want to help you because I'm not an asshole, and it's the right thing to do...
Aubrey: That's not a real reason.
Aubrey: What's in it for you?
Malaya: Well... if I help you, I guess I'll feel better knowing you won't come around to attack my family.
Aubrey: Leave us to die, then. We won't attack your family if we're dead.
Malaya: Sure, but I don't want to live right near a house full of dead werewolves. That's creepy.

Page 238[]

Aubrey: So, you help us, then what?
Malaya: What do you mean?
Aubrey: We get away your friends find some way to save us... then what? What is my life after living in this shitty house for twenty-four years?
Malaya: I don't know I've got a lot of questions about the future, too.
Malaya: I'm terrified to go to the damn mall this weekend, so I can't really help you there.
Aubrey: At least this way I die with all of them. I die alongside whatever counts as my family.
Malaya: What about what they want? Wouldn't you rather live alongside them? The future might be scary but you wouldn't be alone.
Aubrey: Maybe.

Page 239[]

Malaya: My mom told me that it's normal to be afraid in the face of new challenges. You just have to be brave until new challenges turn into old ones.
Aubrey: Your mom sounds nice.
Malaya: I think she is.
Aubrey: I should be able to get you... something. I can't go much farther than this, but I'll find something small in the house that she touches a lot.
Malaya: Thanks. That would... if you can help us, it'd mean a lot.
Aubrey: I should get home. I can feel Mama pulling all the energy out of me a little harder. Being closer to her, I don't feel it as badly.

Page 240[]

Malaya: Okay. I should go home, too. I'll see you, la-, um... goodbye. Aubrey with a "B" as in "bird."
Aubrey: Hey!
Aubrey: If you can't help us... it's okay. I won't blame you.
Malaya: I won't give up. I don't know what I can do, but I won't give up.
Aubrey: Maybe.

Page 241[]

Malaya: You've got bigger issues than shopping, Mal.

Page 242[]

Marisa: Let me get this straight...
Marisa: You got Connie and Thomas, and Connie is the witch in the creepy house, and she gets knocked up with Aubrey, and that drains her magic so badly... That she ends up using werewolves as batteries.
Malaya: Yeah, I guess I don't get why, though.
Marisa: Eli, did you ever tell her how magic works differently in werewolves and witches?
Elias: Maaaaybe? Wait... no, I totally didn't.
Marisa: Okay, so witches get their magic from trees and plants and animals and stuff. Magic flows into the witch, they use it, and send most of the magic back into the earth. You're a witch. Humans can't access magic at all. But werewolves... are like yogurt.

Page 243[]

Vincent & Malaya: Yogurt?
Marisa: Werewolves are like yogurt! All you need is a little bit of fresh yogurt added to some milk, and the bacteria multiply to give you lots more yogurt.
Marin: You need to explain, honey.
Marisa: Um, yeah... to make a new werewolf, a werewolf will 'seed' a bit of magic into a human through a bite. As long as the original werewolf is powerful enough, the magic will multiply in the new werewolf.
Marisa: Every full moon will make that magic a little stronger. You have an internal reservoir of magic, slowly, consistently upping its game. Just like bacteria in yogurt growing in milk!

Page 244[]

Marisa: There's lots of ways to make a werewolf or a witch baby, but the mother has to have access to magic. The issue is that a werewolf fetus doesn't just need a little magic to get started, it neeeds magic the whole pregnancy.
Marisa: Usually, a witch will join their mates pack so the pack can provide energy for the baby.
Malaya: Okay, but can't a witch just keep getting more magic from the earth for the baby?
Marisa: Nope! A witch can't just take and take magic from the earth. Eventually you'll get cut off. And if you take magic by force, eventually there'll be consequences...

Page 245[]

Malaya: Consequences...
Marin: We're heeeere.
Vincent: Don't freak out.
Malaya: I was too distracted by werewolf pregnancy to be nervous until now.
Malaya: Wow.
Marin: Enjoy it while it lasts. With consumer spending shifting to online shopping, plus the combination of stagnating wages and the steady decrease in purchasing power of the middle class, shopping malls will be obsolete within our lifetime.
Marisa: See weird shit like that is why I love you.
Marin: I know.

Page 246[]

Malaya: Why does everything smell like cheap perfume and french fries?
Elias: That's the smell of capitalism!
Malaya: Capitalism needs to take it down a notch.
Marin: You ready?
Malaya: Not really. This is still kind of terrifying.
Elias: Don't worry, the mall is just regular stores punctuated by pretzel kiosks.
Malaya: So... clothing and bread?
Elias: Bread tied in a knot, which makes it taste better.
Vincent: Elaborate bread.

Page 247[]

Marin: Come on!
Marin: Let's buy stuff we don't need!
Malaya: Uuhhhhh...
Malaya: So many pretzel shops!
Marin: Come on, I found a store you'll like!

Page 248[]

Elias: You have to show us how it looks!
Malaya: Why do you have your phone out?
Elias: I'm documenting this for history.
Marin: Oh, that looks nice!
Malaya: Thanks! Vincent suggested it.
Elias: I'm not used to looking this put together.
Marisa: Which is why I picked it, Eli!
Malaya: You look so dapper!
Vincent: Yeah...
Marisa: We still have a lot to cover!
Malaya: O-okay!

Page 249[]

Malaya: I know this is a costume, but I kind of want it anyway.
Elias: Whatever, buy it for halloween! You'll be six months ahead!.
Elias: Look what I found!

Page 250[]

Marisa: Hey, what do you think of this?
Elias: Just because I'm gay doesn't mean I know anything about fashion. I just wear whatever the internet says will make me look pretty.
Elias: Anyway... women's shirts don't have shoulders now?
Marisa: Yeah, 'cause women don't have shoulders anymore.
Vincent: Mal, try these on.
Malaya: Oh, those are really cute!

Page 251[]

Elias: Is that a sign?! Do you think he swings my way?
Marisa: You just got done telling me that gay dudes being into fashion is just a stereotype!
Elias: That was old Elias, he believes a lot of things. New Elias wants Vincent's good taste to mean we can date.
Marisa: You could just, like, ask him.
Marisa: 'Hey Vincent, I'm into dudes, are you into dudes? Would you like to make out with me in the future?'
Marisa: Not that complicated.
Elias: That is fantasy advice for a universe where he and I aren't hopelessly awkward.

Page 252[]

Marin: Okay, one more round of stuff to try on!
Malaya: Wow, um... I feel like we've been at this for hours.
Marin: Yep! Use that werewolf stamina!
Malaya: Good choice, Vince.
Vincent: Yeah.
Marisa: Look! It has a paw print on it like a wolf!

Page 254[]

Malaya: What?!
Malaya: Uh, I think I need a break. And somewhere quiet.

Page 255[]

Marisa: Feeling better?!
Malaya: Yes! Definitely.
Marin: Most of the stores in this area are closed for a big renovation so no one comes over here.
Malaya: Ack!
Vincent: Here. You're too easy to scare for a werewolf.
Malaya: How is that still open?

Page 256[]

Marin: Well, while you guys rest up, I'm going to go try and find some new slacks for work. That usually takes forever, so you'll have plenty of time!
Marisa: Bye, honey! We'll talk about you while you're gone!
Marin: Only good things I hope!
Marisa: No promises!
Malaya: You guys are really cute.
Marisa: Yeah, we're disgusting.
Elias: It gets grosser. You should tell her how you guys met.
Malaya: Huh?
Marisa: Oh hey, I should! I only get to tell the whole story when I find a werewolf I don't know already.

Page 257[]

Marisa: So, when I first met Marin, I was assigned as a nurse in her ward of the hospital.
Marisa: Her chart said she had a primary glioblastoma... a brain tumor, but really hard to treat.
Marisa: Every time I checked on Marin, she never had visitors. No one was logged to see her.
Marisa: I felt bad, so I tried to stop by her room as often as I could.
Marisa: She didn't say much, but she always smiled at me.
Marin: I know you're busy, but...
Marin: Could you read a bit of the newspaper to me? I'm following a case, but I can't see well... The tumor makes my vision too blurry.

Page 258[]

Marisa: S-sure... um, a case?
Marin: A lawsuit.
Marisa: Are you a lawyer?
Marin: I would be. I don't think... with this...
Marin: I have a year left til I'm done with law school, then the bar exam...
Marisa: Wow. I mean, you never know... What could happen...
Marin: You know my chances.
Marisa: Yeah, I'm supposed to avoid being depressing if I can help it, though.
Marin: I appreciate the effort.
Marisa: Did you always want to be a lawyer?
Marin: No. When I was little, I didn't think having a job was an option. I was supposed to get married and have a bunch of kids.
Marisa: So, Marin told me all about her childhood.

Page 259[]

Marisa: Marin has, like... a lot of siblings. She told me all their names once, but I can't remember them all. Her parents were super conservative and really religious.
Marisa: When she was a teenager, Marin kept getting set up with boys from church so they could... court? (I think that's what Marin called it.)
Marisa: It didn't go over well.
Marisa: Her parents eventually gave in and let her go to college, but omly if Marin went to a conservative school and majored in religion.
Marisa: It got Marin out of the house, so she agreed.

Page 260[]

Marin: Unfortunately for her parents, college opened Marin's eyes to why all those boys they tried to make her date never worked out.
Marin: And since she didn't grow up with any context for what being a lesbian was, Marin went to talk to her school counselor...
Marin: And because this college and rules and shit, and that counselor was a dick, he called Marin's parents.

Page 261[]

Marisa: Marin's parents disowned her. The school let her stay until the end of the semester, since Marin's tuition was already paid.
Marisa: All those siblings I can't remember the names of... kids she helped raise over the years... she wasn't allowed to call or talk to them anymore.
Marisa: But Marin being Marin, she made a plan.
Marisa: Got a bus ticket, transferred to a state school, got a full ride.
Marisa: And took up studying law... because she wanted a major that was difficult enough to keep her mind occupied and she wanted to help people...

Page 262[]

Marisa: But, you know, Marin was still gay...
Marisa: ...and her family still wouldn't talk to her.
Marisa: So, Marin got her bachelor's degree, graduating with highest honors no one came to watch her receive her diploma.
Marin: My grades and my LSAT scores got me into a great law program and an internship with a civil rights firm.
Marisa: Oh! You look so sad!
Marisa: It's just... none of that was fair to you. I'm bisexual and my family just shrugged when I started dating women.
Marin: It's okay!
Marisa: It's not okay.
Marin: I know, but I'm supposed to avoid being depressing if I can help it.

Page 263[]

Marisa: I kept coming by Marin's room to read the paper after my shift. Mostly to keep her company.
Marisa: Sometimes, I'd read the whole newspaper to her...
Marisa: ...even the ads for garage sales and the weird column about playing bridge.
Marisa: But Marin kept getting worse.

Page 264[]

Marisa: I occasionally use my magic to help patients heal a bit faster. Little stuff, like scrapes and bruises... and only when I can't get caught...
Marisa: But I can't cure cancer. Spells have their limits.
Marisa: Marin?
Marin: I'm still listening...
Marisa: You're really still invested in this lawsuit? I can read something else.
Marin: I know I probably won't be around to see the outcome of this case. I know... I know I won't be a lawyer now. But I worked so hard. I don't want to give up.

Page 265[]

Marisa: I have an idea... I gotta make some phone calls, then I'll be back.
Marin: O-okay...
Marisa: There are boundaries I'm supposed to observe as a professional. I'm supposed to be kind but unattached, putting the patient first... but I crossed those boundaries for the first and only time, and did the dumbest, best thing I've ever done.
Marisa: Okay, so... I have someone who can help. But you're not gonna believe it, and it might not work. If it doesn't work, you might die. You don't have to do it...
Marisa: So I explained the whole werewolf thing to her. I think I kind of blew her mind, but shew as on board in the end.

Page 266[]

Marisa: Eli's mom, Sara, came by the next day. After knowing the Ross family my whole life, casting spells for them with my parents since I was little... This was the only favor I ever asked for in return.
Sara: Hello, dear. I'm going to try and help you.
Marisa: She explained the whole werewolf thing again, just in case...
Marisa: But Marin wasn't very responsive by that point.
Sara: Are you sure she's able to understand me? I'm not going to bite someone who can't consent to this.
Marin: Yes. Do it.

Page 267[]

Sara: Okay then... don't scream.
Marisa: And it worked! Sara stayed by Marin's side and helped keep her transformation secret and under control.
Marisa: Her primary doctor was... confused about her recovery, to say the least.
Marisa: I think he finally chalked her progress up to a miracle after the tests came back. Marin was discharged after a few days.

Page 268[]

Marisa: And Marin made a great werewolf!
Marisa: I only saw her occasionally.
Marisa: As Marin's former caretaker, I tried to maintain some distance, plus she was busy with law school and werewolf practice.
Marisa: But we still saw each other at the Ross pack picnics throughout the summer.

Page 269[]

Marin: I just wanted to thank you again... I wouldn't have all of this without you.
Marisa: You've worked too hard for it to not pay off! I just did what anyone with werewolf friends would do.
Marisa: It felt like we danced around each other forever.
Marisa: I didn't want Marin to feel obligated towards me, and I was still holding onto that "don't date a patient" mantra in my head...
Marin: Oh!
Marin: Uh... Mashed potatoes?
Marisa: Thanks!
Marisa: We were kind of hopeless, though.

Page 270[]

Marisa: And when she graduated from law school that next summer, Marin had a larger cheering section the second time around.

Page 271[]

Marin: I'm going to tell you thank you again...
Marisa: You still don't need to...
Marin: Your hair.. I like it this color...
Marisa: I was thinking of dying all my hair pink, but I'm not sure I'm brave.
Marin: I think you are.

Page 272[]

Marin: Speaking of bravery... I feel like you've been keeping your distance from me ever since the hospital...
Marisa: I mean, we've both been busy...
Marin: Are you sure that's why?
Marisa: I didn't want you to feel like you owed me anything... when I asked Sara to help you, there weren't any strings attached to that...
Marin: That's very noble of you...
Marin: But what if all I want is to be attached to you?

Page 273[]

Marisa: And that is the story of why I have pink hair.
Marisa: ...
Marisa: They didn't like my story?
Elias: Nah, I think they're just stunned that you spent the last five minutes describing the first time your girlfriend held your hand. In detail.
Marisa: Oh!
Elias: Good thing the pretzel guy didn't overhear the werewolf part.
Marin: I'm back! With pants!

Page 274[]

Marisa: Hi honey!
Malaya: They're cute!
Elias: Yeah, they're fun to live with. Could use thicker walls, though.
Marin: Let's finish this trip! How about one last store?
Elias: Onward!
Marisa: Lead the way!
Marin: You only told them nice things about me, I hope.
Elias: Onward!
Marisa: Lead the way!
Marin: You only told them nice things about me, I hope.
Elias: Onward!
Marisa: Lead the way!
Marin: You only told them nice things about me, I hope.
Marisa: There are only nice things to tell. Except that you snore and you can't cook.
Marin: Fair.
Marisa: Hey, when we get married, should one of us change our last name?
Marin: I will! The last name "Grundy" sounds like a super villain name.
Marisa: Um, because it is?
Marin: Really?
Marisa: Yep! Marin and Marisa Salcedo
Marin: At least monogramming our towels will be easy...

Page 275[]

Marisa: I'm only thirty-two, but somehow I feel three-hundred years too old for this store.
Malaya: I kind of like it! This place has... a lot of options.
Elias: Yeah, like whatever this is.
Marisa: Wearable land parachute.
Marisa: Hey, Vincent and I picked out a bunch of outfits for you guys already... why don't you and Malaya go pick out some stuff on your own?
Elias: Why? All I needed was jeans. I'm done trying stuff on.
Marisa: You don't have to buy anything, it's just fun to see what you'd pick out in a store filled with such beautiful clothing.

Page 276[]

Vincent: Hey, check it out...
Elias: That's amazing. And perfect. And I love it.
Vincent: You should buy it.
Elias: I have to pass... I only had enough money for new jeans.
Vincent: Are you sure? It's on clearance.
Elias: I don't really buy clothes I like too much... Eventually, everything gets torn up int he line of werewolf duty.
Vincent: Hmm.

Page 277[]

Marisa: Okay, last entry in today's shopping adventure. Show us your outfits!
Elias: I'm gonna remind you that all I needed was jeans.
Marisa: No one cares, get out here.
Marisa: You guys look awesome! Eli, this is so far outside your normal freakishly casual comfort zone... like an eighties movie dressed you.
Marin: Cute?
Vincent: Strange things are afoot at the circle K.
Malaya: I'm buying this jacket.
Elias: Obviously.

Page 278[]

Marisa: Let's go home! I need to put on pajamas, pronto.
Elias: I can smell you!
Malaya: Well, excuse me! It's been a long day!
Marin: No, it's not that!
Marin: Malaya, you smell like a werewolf. I could never tell before!
Marisa: The spell! The one that was keeping you hidden like the wolves in the creepy house...
Marisa: ...It's gone! My magic can't find a trace of any spells on you!
Vincent: What does that mean?
Elias: It means we need to check on the creepy house again...

Page 279[]

Malaya: We're home!
Malaya: Hi, Mami.
Maria: I hope you two had fun!
Malaya: I had a lot of fun, but it... was a lot to take in. The mall is a loud, concrete box filled with too many people.
Marin: It really is.
Malaya: I have something I have to check on in the woods!
Marin: Okay? Be careful!
Malaya: I will!
Vincent: <That answer's wrong... most of the answers are wrong.>
Malaya: <Grading quizzes makes me die a little inside.>

Page 280[]

Malaya: Did Aubrey leave anything?
Malaya: A mug?
Malaya: I guess if the witch drinks coffee every day, this should have enough... whatever on it for Charlene to have a vision.
Malaya: Werewolves! I can smell them!
Malaya: The werewolf-deodorant-camouflage spell must have worn off of them too.
Malaya: I hope they're still okay... I've been around enough werewolves to recognize their smell. A few months ago, the only werewolf I ever smelled was me.

Page 281[]

Marin: Eli...
Elias: Hm?
Marin: I found this wolf sweatshirt in one of our bags. I think its for you.
Elias: Uh...
Marin: There's a note on the receipt.
Elias: "Here." "Vincent."
Marin: He's got a way with words.
Marisa: Eli, I think you're in the broke student version of a sugar daddy relationship.
Elias: He's just a nice guy. Vincent's my friend. (I think.)
Marisa: And he's cute.
Elias: And he's cute.
Marin: Oh!

Page 282[]

Marin: Sooo... How do you guys feel about running around in the woods tonight?
Marisa: Uh... sure? For business or pleasure?
Marin: Business. Sara wants to know if we're free.
Elias: All of us?
Marin: Yep, you too.
Marin: She says she needs to investigate the situation with the wolves in the woods for herself.
Elias: Why didn't she text me? Or is that part of not being in the pack anymore?
Marisa: Maybe you're like... demoted to auxiliary pack, dude.
Marin: No, Sara didn't text you because... she said she didn't know if Marisa or I would be free "because you ladies have lives and are always busy...
Elias: Oh.
Marisa: Burn... Alpha-mom burn.

Page 283[]

Elias: I don't even get why I'm here, Mom.
Sara: Because you're the reason I'm involved with this mess. You rushed in to save that boy, and now this weird pack in the woods is our responsibility to investigate. They're probably connected to the recent deaths, too.
Elias: But I thought I was out of the pack. Technically?
Sara: Technically, you are.
Elias: Technically?
Marisa: This conversation isn't awkward at all.
Marin: Nope.
Sara: I don't disagree with what you did to help your friend, Elias... but you know I couldn't condone it. You're barely being punished.
Elias: You kicked me out!
Sara: Into a house where you'd be taken care of! And your friend even gave yoou a job! A more authoritarian pack would have done ten times worse than kicking you out!
Elias: Then why put me through that at all?! If it's not a punishment to you, then why bother?
Sara: Because this pack is hanging on to its power by a thread. I have to at least look like I'm toeing the line. I don't have enough influence right now to bend the rules, not even for you.

Page 284[]

Elias: But we are powerful! Mom, you're the alpha of a huge pack of werewolves!
Sara: There may be a lot of us, but how well attended was the last cook out?
Elias: Uh...
Marin: I guess... that was a long way for some people to drive...
Sara: Ezra and Maggie are off raising families with their spouses, Patty is states away at college...
Sara: Your dad wandered off years ago to who-knows-where. I'm getting requests all the time from werewolves who have to move for work and need help negotiating truces with whatever pack claims their town.
Sara: I'm spread thinner and thinner. All the bureaucracy of the werewolf council is slow and annoying, but not rocking the boat is my best defense right now.
Elias: So... what? You tell everyone to move closer?

Page 285[]

Sara: I can't ask people to give up their lives just to have a more cohesive pack. Hell, half our pack joined because the Ross Pack's reputation is all about werewolf personal freedom.
Elias: There has to be a solution, though.
Sara: Well, if I can get Ezra and Maggie to formally declare themselves as separate pack leaders, I can put them in charge of the werewolves living closest to each of them.
Sara: We'd have three smaller, allied packs.
Elias: Okay... so what's the problem with that plan?
Sara: We've been working on it, but they have families and jobs. Ezra and Maggie have been contacting the pack members closest to them to get their consent. Things look promising, but getting a hold of everyone is slow going.
Marin: So, in the meantime... We have to keep up appearances until things get reorganized?
Sara: More or less, yeah. Power isn't something you inherently have- It's granted to you by the people you lead, and reinforced by the recognition of other leaders. My job as alpha is to maintain the impression that our pack is in working order, because other packs won't hesitate to take that power away.
Elias: So... what? You tell everyone to move closer?

Page 286[]

Elias: Why would other werewolves want our space? Territory disputes are practically ancient history.
Sara: They're not, though. Territory disputes have just morphed over time.
Sara: Back in the day, you'd gather a large enough pack, then you'd all violently tear through your enemies until you had all the space your pack needed.
Sara: Now, you slowly negotiate, argue, redo the boundaries a little at a time... It's death by a thousand cuts.
Sara: Protecting your pack means constantly being on your toes to keep your territory from being legislated out from under you.
Sara: Maybe this way is better, maybe the violence was better... Maybe everything would be best somewhere in between. I just know that I can't show vulnerability to the council right now.
Sara: Is this it?
Elias: Yeah, that's the creepy house.
Marisa: I can only feel a few wards left...

Page 287[]

Elias: Mom?
Sara: Hm?
Elias: Why didn't you just tell me all of this? If the pack was struggling, I could have helped.
Sara: *Sigh*. I know. But you've had such a specific role in the pack for the last few years.
Sara: You've been my ambassador. Sending you to talk to other packs in person when I haven't been available has been invaluable. BUt if I sent you out there with full knowledge of how many issues we've had lately.
Elias: Exaggerating or lying to a room full of supernatural creatures would have been a recipe for disaster.
Sara: Yeah. They'd sniff you out in a minute. I needed you to present our pack as strong and functioning.
Sara: So, I kept you in the dark as the ship took on water. I was going to tell you everything after your siblings and I managed to solve a few issues. Maybe send you on a public relations campaign, clarify things with other packs...

Page 288[]

Elias: So... does that mean you still want me to be your werewolf diplomat?
Sara: I thought I heard you had a new pack...
Elias: Um... I mean, I guess?! I-I don't know, she offered and I just... um... I know joining Malaya's pack probably isn't official or anything...
Sara: It's okay, Eli.
Sara: Let's figure out... this situation...
Sara: I'll work through my drama with the council... and then we can sit down and discuss what you actually want to do with your future.
Elias: I like that idea.
Sara: Just... don't do anything stupid until I can get the political leverage we need to deal with the aftermath. Or call me and I'll join you.
Elias: Okay, Mom.
Sara: Now... should we creep closer?
Marin: What if they see us? Are we here to fight?
Sara: Hm... I'd like to avoid fighting, but while the wards are down, we need to get more information. So I vote we poke this sleeping bear, and run away if things go south.

Page 290[]

Sara: There are werewolves upstairs...
Sara: There's someone near the back of the house, but the scent is obscured.
Marisa: The camouflage spell?
Sara: Let's focus on the back of the house... No one's moving upstairs.
Sara: Don't get too close...
Elias: Someone's in that room.
Marin: What should we do?
Sara: Well, going inside the house gives them the upper hand... We need to stay out here as long as possible...

Page 292[]

Sara: Shit! Look away from the window!
Marisa: Marin! Marin!
Marisa: They're not moving!
Sara: Yeah, they're enthralled!
Sara: Most werewolves aren't this good at it! Usually we can only enthrall someone to keep them calm and lessen the pain when we initially bite them...
Sara: But that werewolf is my mother, and she's always been better at enthralling her pack than anyone I've ever known.

Page 293[]

Marisa: That pair of eyes is your mom?!
Sara: I thought...
Sara: I mean she ran off years ago, I didn't think she was even still alive!
Marisa: Can she control them when they're like this? Is that a thing?
Sara: She can't make them do anything. Enthralling a werewolf makes them immobilized and vulnerable at worst. The most I've ever managed is calming someone down.
Marisa: How do we get them out of this?
Sara: I have an idea, I just need a minute. I can feel her trying to get me to turn around. It's hard to concentrate.

Page 295[]

Elias: Come on, run! Don't look towards the house!

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