Tate’s phone starts to buzz.

“Hey, your phone’s ringing,” Ari calls.

“Who is it?”

“Uh. Just says C Sorenson?”

“Oh. Answer it. I’ll be there in a second.”

Before Ari can actually say anything, the voice on the other end says, “Afternoon, darling. Wanted to follow up on that drink. I could use one right about now.”

“Oh uh. Hi. This is actually Ari. Tate’s in the bathroom he said he’d be here in a minute. This is Cole, right?”

“Ari,” the voice repeats, his accent giving their name a different weight.

“Yeah I’m um-“

“Everything ok?” Tate asks. He hasn’t even zipped up his jeans yet, and Ari can tell the moment he notices that Ari is looking.

“Hello?” Cole says, loud enough to be heard even though the phone is no longer near Ari’s ear.

“Yeah. I guess he wants to grab a drink with you or whatever?”

Tate blushes slightly and takes the phone. “Yello,” he says, dropping onto the couch beside Ari.

Sorry, not intending to cause trouble. I really was just calling to see if you wanted to go get a drink.”

Ari smirks and Tate turns a darker shade of red. He’d mentioned his casual arrangement with Cole a while ago – at first as an offhanded thing when they’d been discussing their physical relationship, and then in a bit more detail later – although he’d asked that Ari not mention it to Kyah since she would freak out.

And it wasn’t like Ari cared. They had no doubts where Tate was concerned, and that’s still very much true. If he wants to go get a drink, cool.

Fortunately, Tate seems to know that because he says, “Oh, no it’s fine. Ari’s uh. We don’t have secrets, really. It’s cool, Cole. But yeah I’d be down. Just me, or…?”

There’s a moment of silence before Cole replies. “Alright.”

“Cool. Where’re you at? Did you have somewhere in mind?”

Having learned all they really cared to, Ari’s attention turns. Tate is listening to whatever Cole is saying, so Ari doesn’t expect their hand to be intercepted on its way to providing a distraction.

“He’ll hear,” Tate mouths silently.

Ari grins and shrugs, but doesn’t push.

“Ok yeah. See you at eight.” The line goes dead and Tate drags Ari into his lap.

Kyah gets home shortly before they’re supposed to leave. She looks tense enough that Ari wonders if they both should go. If this is a time where she wants to be left alone or one where someone should be there, if in the distance.

She folds herself into Ari’s arms, though.

“Tate says you’re going out,” she mumbles, mouth pressed against Ari’s shoulder.

“Yeah, if that’s- I mean I don’t have to go, if you want company. Or we have time before we have to leave if you want me to-“

Kyah shivers in a way that’s very much not a no. “Don’t stay just because of me. I just went to see my parents and it was-“

Ari hums in understanding. “Do you wanna come?”

It wasn’t how they meant it, but Kyah noses at the corner of Ari’s jaw in a way that makes them question which answer they’re looking for. “I don’t want to intrude, if you two just wanted to… I don’t know. Go out and have fun.”

“Don’t think it’s that kind of going out, Ky. Tate’s meeting some old friend for a drink. Think everyone involved is counting on it being laid back. If I’m invited, that means you should be,” Ari says, concern for Kyah overshadowing Tate’s worry about her reaction. It would be fine.

“You sure?” she asks, frowning. “I’d need to change and all…”

“We’ve got time,” they assure her, already herding her toward her room.

They show up late. Only a little bit, and only because there’s no parking.

But Tate doesn’t seem concerned as he strolls toward the bar, casual and unhurried. He slings an arm over Ari’s shoulders. It’s an easy, possessive thing. One that Kyah would kill him for.

Ari turns their head, checking again that she’s there even though they can still hear her. Still smell her.

Kyah moves close enough that their fingers brush, but doesn’t link their hands together like Ari hopes she will. She does at least stay close, occasionally bumping against Ari as they move through the crowd toward a table in the corner.

When they reach the table and its single occupant, Ari feels her stiffen.

“What the hell is this?” She asks, voice too low to be heard by anyone around them.

Not too low for Ari or Tate, though. Nor, apparently, for a vampire.

“Well hello to you too, sweetheart.”

Ari looks at Tate, who’s looking at Kyah. When they turn to the other side, she’s still staring at the vampire Ari can only assume is Cole like she’s seen a ghost.

“Ky?” Ari asks, worried that they’ve made a huge error.

“Did I do something without realizing? Because I know it’s been a bit, but you seemed happy enough when I called before,” Cole says.

“You two know each other?” Tate sounds nervous now, too.

Something clicks in Ari’s brain and the laugh slips out before they can help it. “Hang on. Hang on,” they say, gasping for breath. “Did you two both- were you two Eskimo uh siblings before me?”

A glance at Cole confirms the answer, but the looks on Tate and Kyah’s faces – something like smug amusement and horror, respectively – are almost as good. And then, there’s nothing to stop Ari from doubling over. Tate follows a moment later with his own silent fit of giggles while Kyah looks for all the world like she wants to either commit murder or disappear.

“Kyah,” Ari says, still nearly crying with laughter, “baby, it’s-”

“Stop. Did you know about this?”

“About what? That you two used to hook up with the same guy? No.”

“About him,” she says, pointing, “at all? Because I’m pretty sure you didn’t even mention meeting a-” Kyah cuts herself off, jaw clenched. “I can’t deal with this right now.”

Before anyone can respond, she turns around and walks away.

“Fuck,” Tate mutters, no longer laughing.

“Yep. Am I going after her, or?”

“I should probably go,” Tate says, sighing. “Pretty sure this is my mess. You wanna order? If our server ever comes back after… this.”

“Uhh ok.”

Tate kisses the side of Ari’s head, then he’s gone too.

Which means that Ari is left alone. With a stranger, who happens to be a vampire and about whom they know nothing but apparently two parts of their shared sexual history. Before they’ve even sat down, a beer is pushed in front of them.


“It got here right before you did and you look like you might need it more than me,” Cole says by way of explanation.

“Oh. Thanks? How did um. How did your business… thing? Go?” Ari asks before taking a sip of the beer. It tastes, unshockingly, as unappealing as all beer does, but they at least try not to make a face.

It clearly doesn’t work, because Cole snickers and says, “Well enough that I didn’t wait for the three of you to get here to start drinking.” Motioning for the glass, he downs half of it.

“Sorry. What do you do, exactly?”

Swallowing, Cole makes a face that isn’t quite a smile.

“You don’t have to- if it’s a touchy subject or something. I just don’t think Tate ever mentioned it.”

“No, he wouldn’t. I’m surprised he mentioned me at all, truth be told.” He takes another sip in his beer and leans back in his seat.

“Why wouldn’t he?”

Cole raises an eyebrow, something appraising in his expression. “They were both fairly… secretive about our interactions, which I never gave much of a fuck about. I mean it makes sense. Not like fraternization is exactly encouraged between wolves and vampires.”

“Why not?”

“Why- because we kill each other.”

“Oh.” Ari blinks, suddenly reassessing the whole situation.

“Used to be worse. Now we mostly just avoid each other, but you still have your onesies and twosies.”

Ari snorts. It makes the corners of Cole’s mouth quirk up unexpectedly, but it’s a tiny win that they’ll take.

“Yes, I suppose between us you’ve had the twosies, eh? They always so dramatic?”

Sighing, Ari runs a hand over their face.

“Oh, is it just two? I thought…”

“No, four. They’re- I can order though, if that’s ok.”

“Sure thing, hon. What can I get you?”

“Uhh lemme get-” they pinch the bridge of their nose and squeeze their eyes shut, fighting back a headache. “A whiskey sour, uhh, d’you have Buffalo Trace?”


“A double, please. And whatever this blueberry lemonade thing is.”

“Got it. Anything else?”

Ari sighs. “Something fried, with a lot of cheese? Sorry I honestly haven’t even looked at the menu yet.”

“Well as long as that’s the worst thing you do tonight,” she says with a wink and a smile.

“And another one of these, if it’s not too much trouble,” Cole adds as she turns away, his glass raised slightly.

The glance she gives him over her shoulder is heated, but when Ari looks back over at him, Cole just looks tired.

“Hey uh. Are you ok?”

He closes his eyes and takes a breath. “Fine. They’re on their way back now.”

“Huh?” Ari’s brain catches up a second later, but still quickly enough to see both Kyah and Tate. They track Tate to the restroom after determining that Kyah’s on her way to the table.

“Hi,” Ari says when she sits down.

She gives him a small smile, then looks over at Cole. “I’m sorry I… overreacted. It’s been a long day and I wasn’t expecting, well, any of this.”

“No harm, no foul. Everything alright?”

“Just my parents, as usual,” she says, rolling her eyes. “Ari did you-“

“Oh. Now we’ve got three out of four,” the server says, a tray balanced easily on one hand. She places the beer in front of Cole, a basket of what looks like some sort of tater tots in the middle, then pauses. “Sour?”

Kyah raises a couple of fingers and accepts the glass.

“And the the bourbon is-“

“Mine,” Ari replies.

She smiles and hands it to him. “Which means number four belongs to our mystery la-“

She’s interrupted by the appearance of Tate, who slips behind her without a noise and drops into the free seat on Ari’s other side.

The server’s mouth closes audibly, and while her look isn’t one of judgement, it’s definitely a considering one. “Do you guys need anything else right now? Everything come out ok?”

“Perfect, sweetheart, thank you,” Cole says.

Her swoon is practically visible and nearly has Ari cackling again. Except the headache is still looming threateningly on the horizon, so any chance of laughter is drowned in whiskey.

“Are these for me,” Kyah asks when she realizes there’s food on the table.

Ari hums a confirmation and finds themself rapidly crushed against her, her nose and lips tucked under their jaw. “Sorry,” they whisper after a slow breath, “wasn’t trying to spring this on you.”

“I know,” she says, holding on for another moment before letting them go.

On Ari’s other side, Tate and Cole have fallen into conversation about something – both of them clearly content to move on with the evening. And it works. Kyah relaxes a bit, hovering somewhere between her normal public reservation and the more open side ordinarily reserved for private interactions.

It’s clear that of all of them Tate carries the evening, although once Ari’s headache subsides slightly, they also perk up a bit. Cole is, simply put, an asshole. But the funny kind. Ari can easily see how he would’ve appealed to both Tate and Kyah and finds themself staring into their glass, absently wishing they’d had someone like that before.

The bump of Tate’s knee under the table pulls Ari’s attention back. “Hm?”

“You asked what I did, earlier. I realized I never actually did give you an answer.”

“Oh, that’s ok. You really don’t have to.”

Ari notices then that both Tate and Kyah have gone still, so when Cole asks, “Do you actually want to know, though?” like the answer matters, Ari says “Yes.”

Cole gives them an odd little smile and finishes the rest of his beer in one quick swig. “How much do you know about interspecies politics and um, oh, call it peacekeeping?”

They frown slightly, trying to figure out exactly what Cole means. “Honestly I really only know anything about us,” they reply honestly. “Reuben and Astrid handle most of the external communications and any inside problems, really.”

He nods. “In a fairly, hmm… secluded? Area such as this one, that’s commonly the case. Especially since you’re so new, and Reuben runs things well, mostly. However sometimes things can get a bit hairy, both literally and metaphorically speaking, so there are those of us who sort of keep tabs on things, then handle the messy cases when necessary.”

Frown deepening, Ari says, “So you’re a vampire cop.”

Kyah snorts and Cole says, “No,” clearly offended.

“Ok, but you are. That’s what you’re describing. It’s a cop.”

“I’m not- it’s different.”


“Because we don’t have cops, for one. I don’t have a gun or a badge.”

Ari’s eyebrows inch up their forehead. “So then what authority do you have to ‘handle things?’” they ask, making quotation marks in the air as they speak.

“People of various communities asking for my help because one of their own has gotten out of hand in some capacity and is a danger to all of us.”

“Uh huh. And what do you do with them, exactly?”

“Remove them from the situation, obviously.”

“Remove them,” Ari echoes.

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Cole mumbles. “Am I suddenly the bad guy?” he asks Tate and Kyah.

Tate takes an entirely unsubtle sip of his drink and looks to Kyah.

She says, “No, but Ari does make a good point that I’m going to have to talk to Astrid about.”

At that, Tate also frowns.

Kyah types something into her phone, her nails clicking lightly on the screen, then puts it facedown on the table. “For all that I do think there are things that could and probably should be changed there, it really isn’t the same thing. We all mostly handle things internally, yes, but sometimes there are disputes or other complications that go beyond what any one group can handle effectively. Or sometimes even at all, depending on species. That’s where having someone like Cole, who’s both knowledgeable and older, to help intervene is really useful.”

“Thanks for the ego boost, love,” Cole says dryly. “Look, by the time I get called in, things are bad on a very real scale. But I also keep track of things that are unusual. That’s what brought me to your little corner of the world.”

“What is it?” Tate asks.

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean you don’t know? I didn’t even realize those were words in your vocabulary, at least in that order.”

Cole huffs a laugh. “It doesn’t happen often,” he mutters, giving Kyah a tight smile, “but I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t use your help.”

She bites the corner of her lip, studying him. Ari shifts in his seat to try to see what, if anything outwardly observable, she’s looking at; the sound of Tate’s phone camera interrupts Ari’s focus, though, so whatever it might be is lost on them and Tate only smiles at being caught.

Ari feels like they’re missing something, but judging by the look on Kyah’s face, she is too. Not necessarily the same thing, but there’s something being left out.

“What is it?”

Cole turns his attention back to them. “I just said-”

“Yeah, you don’t know what ‘it’ is, but you want help with something. What’s that?

“This one’s got a bit of an attitude problem, doesn’t he?”

Before Ari even has time to bristle, Tate laughs and says, “Something like that.”

“It’s been a while since anyone’s dared. Think I might have missed it.” He goes to take a drink, only to scowl when he realizes his glass is empty. Sighing, he puts it back down, eyes scanning the bar for their server even as he says, “A few months ago a tooth fairy broke into my apartment.”

The laugh escapes before Ari can stop it, more disbelief than humor. Cole’s dark eyes meet theirs, his gaze entirely unamused.

“Really? You’re a fucking werewolf, mate, and suddenly the fae are something to laugh at? Have you two not taught ‘im anything?”

“I mean Reuben’s told me about the fae, some. I’ve been on a couple of business trips with him involving- well, never mind. But tooth fairies? Really?”

Cole scowls. “Let’s see if you’re still laughing when they’re trying to pry your fucking fangs out,” he replies, sullen.

Grimacing, Ari says, “Shit, ok yeah that sounds bad. Sorry. It’s just- you have to realize how it sounds. I mean my life was… normal, like. A year ago.”

This makes something in Cole’s expression change, going serious in a way it hasn’t since they’ve been there.

“Everything alright over here?” Their server is back, her eyes on Cole but her hand on the back of Ari’s chair.

“Another one, if it’s not too much trouble.”

She nods. “Anyone else?”

“Yeah me too,” Ari says.


“Just a water, please.”

“I can drive home, if you wanna-“

Kyah shakes her head. “I have to work tomorrow.”

Ari frowns. “If you’re sure, I guess.”

She smiles and reaches over to curl her fingers between Ari’s, the backs of their knuckles brushing. It’s a little thing, but big for her given that it attracts the attention of both Cole and the server. They let out a breath and nod.

Apparently that’s enough for the girl to go. Once she’s out of earshot, Cole says, “I always forget how young you are.”

They all shrug, almost in unison, and he laughs.

“I type faster than you do,” Ari replies.

“It’s true,” Tate says soberly, which only makes Cole look more scandalized.

Ari laughs and pushes away from the table. “I’ll be back. Don’t do anything interesting without me.”

They can tell from outside the door that the women’s restroom is full, so Ari sighs and turns into the men’s. It stinks, but at least it’s empty and the stall has a door.

When they make it back to the table, there’s another drink in front of their chair and the other three seem to be talking about Australia.

“You’re still welcome to come visit any time,” Cole is saying, “although in my head the arrangements were a little simpler with only one. I guess I could always move. Get a place with a guest bedroom.”

“That’s a little dramatic, even for you. We can just get an Airbnb,” Kyah replies.

“Well yeah, but it seemed like good manners to offer.”

“You wouldn’t want us to stay at your place even if it was just one of us,” Tate says, smiling the way he does when he knows something.

Cole huffs. “But I offered.”

“You did, and I’m proud of you. It only took you how many years to learn?”

“Do you see what I have to deal with?” Cole says, turning to Ari.

“Dude, I live with both of them. This is not news.” They take a sip of their drink before saying, “So about that tooth fairy?”

“Oh right, right. So it ended up telling me about this wizard…”

When he finishes, the three of them exchange a look.

“Cole, you realize we have to talk to Astrid before we do anything with this, right?”

“Yeah this is… above our pay grade.”

He scowls. “Fucking werewolves and your pack hierarchies.”

“You two do.”

They all stare at Ari.

“Yeah…?” Tate cocks his head.

“But you don’t,” Kyah says thoughtfully, before Ari can.

“Exactly. I can find him. You said you recognized parts of the house? Room? Place?”

Cole nods. “The general architecture, at least. It was old.”

“Could be new though, just copying the style,” Ari points out.

He shakes his head. “No. It smelled- it’s actually old.”

Ari nods. “Send me everything you think you know so far.”

“Think I know,” Cole echoes.

They make a noise, trying not to roll their eyes. “Everything you remember. There, that better?”

Beside them, Tate smiles – another small, knowing little thing.


“Nothing. I’ll tell you later.”

Ari glares at him, but doesn’t argue. Whatever it is, it isn’t actually serious.

“We still have to tell Astrid, but really Ari is your best bet at finding this guy. That’s why the big boss hired them in the first place.”

“That so?” Cole says, arching an eyebrow.

Ari’s cheeks heat, but they nod. “I do uh, computer stuff. For him.”

Cole hums thoughtfully.

“What are the chances you have a picture?”

He laughs, a sharp, shocked sound. “Love if I’d been around enough for a picture we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

“Wait, is this some kind of weird sex thing? Because I’m suddenly way less comfortable helping you find him if it’s actually some like, weird, stalkery thing.”

“Oh my god, do I really seem that bad?” Cole asks, his accent coming out in full force.

Shrugging, Ari says, “I mean I met you like, an hour and a half ago. How’m I supposed to know?”

Cole looks pointedly at Tate, then at Kyah, then back at Ari.

“Oh. Well. Yeah, I guess there’s that. Ok, fine. Just send me what you know. Anything that might be useful, nothing is too small. You haven’t seen the outside, right?”

“No, just the outside of a couple of abandoned buildings he was projecting everything into.”

“Wait, how does that work?”

“Magic,” Kyah says.

“Wow, super helpful babe.”

Once the laughter has subsided, Cole says, “She’s not wrong, though. It should have been my first clue that there was something more than what I thought.”

Ari cocks their head.

“Oh right. Forgot you don’t know anything.” He catches himself, though. “About these things, I’m sure you know plenty about… the internet, or whatever-”

“Thanks, grandpa.”

This, unexpectedly, gets Ari a genuine little smile. “The magic required to build doors – and yes, they’re just called doors – is a very fae skill. Even the regular wizards who can manage it from time to time still always have fae blood.”

“Or demons,” Tate says. He’s no longer smiling, but staring into his cup with a concerned expression.

“Or that. Or a mix, which I find extremely uncomfortable to think about.”

“Can that even happen? I thought they didn’t really mix.”

“The superiority complex tends to prevent it, but that’s the only explanation I’ve been able to come up with.”

“Oh great. So you need me to help you hunt some super powerful demon-fae hybrid. Cool,” Ari says, voice cracking slightly.

“Cheers,” Cole says, his sharp grin disappearing behind the mouth of his glass.

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