Disclaimer: this story is a translation of Silencio's "Black Hollow: Przebudzenie", all rights belong to her. I'm posting it with her knowledge and consent.


Will woke up to the sound of the alarm clock. He dragged himself out of bed, the details of yesterday's conversation immediately surfacing in his mind. Did those crazies actually claim he was a wizard?

"The fuck," he breathed incredulously, then left the room.

He trudged downstairs. Music was coming from the kitchen, so it looked like Danny was up already.

"Hey," Will said, entering the room.

"Hi there." Danny studied his face for a moment. "I made sandwiches. Help yourself."

Will sat down at the table and grabbed one. He began to eat, sinking in thought. Danny was still watching him.

"You should see a doctor about these headaches," he advised finally. "It might be something serious."

Magic. Will thought he must have gone completely mad. Also, fuck magic, magic he could accept, but vampires? Werewolves? That was absurd. Maybe that talk he had with Norma and rest of the squad yesterday did not actually happen? Maybe he dreamed it all up? Or he inhaled some toxic fumes during the visit to KC and now was hallucinating?

"Hello? Did you hear me? Earth to Will!" Dan shouted, waving a hand in front of his face.

"I hear you," Will muttered, though he didn't actually know what his friend just said. "Jesus, can you turn this shit off?" he added with a hint of irritation. The song that was currently playing really got on his nerves.

Danny's jaw dropped.

"But it's Venom!" he informed his friend after he got over his initial shock.

"Well, maybe, but it's clearly not his best song, is it." Will rubbed his eyes, trying to collect his thoughts.

"What are you talking about?! It's 'Nocturne'!"

Will snorted loudly, intending to inform his friend that he knew what his favorite song sounded like and that this was most definitely not it...

... except that after listening to the lyrics he came to the conclusion he was wrong. It was 'Nocturne'. Sort of.

"It must be some other version," Will said confidently. Even Danny's voice sounded better than this howling! "It's much better in the original."

"Dude, this is the original! Straight from the single! Really, there's something wrong with you," Danny announced, now looking seriously concerned.

"There's nothing wrong with me," Will replied somewhat abruptly. He currently was in the process of trying to convince himself of it. "I guess I just listened to it so much, I've grown weary of it."

What was happening to him? Was the sudden change in musical preferences an element of the "awakening"? Apparently so, because he couldn't find another explanation for the fact that he didn't recognize the song he had listened to every day all through the summer.

Danny's classes were starting at the same time, so they went to school together. They were running late, so they headed straight to the lockers. Norma walked by.

"Hi," she said cheerfully, smiling at Will.

Will stared at her in surprise.

"H-Hey," he stuttered a bit, embarrassed. For some reason, he did not expect she would address him openly in public.

Danny raised an eyebrow, looking surprised, but before he could ask, they brushed by Abby.

"Hi," the girl said quietly, not even looking at Will.

"Hi."

Then they saw Liam.

"Yo." A casual hand wave.

"Hi."

And finally it was Blake's turn.

"Hi." This time Will spoke first.

Unnecessarily so, because Alden gave him a haughty look and went on without bothering to answer.

Danny was shocked. "What was that supposed to be?"

"He's an asshole," Will murmured irritably.

"I'm not questioning that. Since when are you on friendly terms with Liam? And Norma? And with that chick I've never even saw before?"

"Since yesterday," Will admitted after momentary hesitation.

"Apparently," Dan snorted. "Will you finally tell me what had happened? Or wait. The bell is about to ring," he said, checking his phone. "Ms Robins will kill me if I'm late again. But you're gonna tell me during lunch, do you hear me? With all the details."

Will smiled with difficulty and did not answer.

Finally it was lunch time. Will picked up some food and grabbed a table. Danny hadn't arrived yet. It was a good thing because Will was still trying to come up with some realistic-sounding story.

Blake sat down two tables away and began to stare brazenly at him, effectively distracting him. Will snorted under his breath. He was about to whisper something extremely offensive to test how good Alden's hearing was, but before he had a chance to do so, someone's chest obscured his view.

"Hey," Liam said, sitting down opposite of him.

"Hey," Will said slowly, eyeing him suspiciously.

Liam took out a lunchbox from his backpack.

"So ... how's it going?" he asked before he bit into his sandwich.

Will sighed, poking his food with a fork. "What would you like to hear about?"

"I think you know."

Will looked around uncertainly. He wasn't sure it was a good idea to talk about magic in such a crowded place.

"Well. It's been okay," he said noncommittally.

"Really?"

"Well - actually. No."

Liam laughed softly.

"You may find it difficult at first, but you will get over it," he said and took an extremely impressive bite.

"Yeah," Will was watching him closely. "I've heard something like that."

He arrived at the conclusion that Liam didn't look much like a werewolf. Then it dawned on him that he didn't know any other werewolves, so he had no blueprint. Finally, he realized how absurd these thoughts were, so for the sake of his own mental health he stopped wondering and said:

"Can I?..."

"Go ahead," Liam replied, guessing correctly that Will was asking him permission to ask a question.

"Are you... we..." Will leaned low over the table, whispering. "Are we the only such people in this school?"

"No. There are more of them. A total of maybe forty? Fifty? I never really counted."

"So many?" Will found it hard to believe.

Liam nodded.

"Mostly werewolves," he added calmly. "It depends on the city. Although there are also quite a few magic users. Vampires are rarer. As far as I know, Blake is the only one in this school. Besides Mrs. Loring."

Will's eyes widened.

"Mrs. Loring is a vampire?!" he hissed.

Liam started laughing.

"Was that a joke?" Will grumbled, frowning.

"Yes. But I do think she's kind of a bloodsucking monster."

"Very funny," Will scoffed. "I mean, it would be, if I knew enough to be able to tell when you are serious and when you're joking," he added reproachfully.

Liam shrugged.

"I am rarely serious."

At that moment Danny appeared at the table, giving the impression of someone who was very confused. Liam glanced at him.

"Well, I have to get going," he said, then slipped the last piece of the sandwich into his mouth and walked away. Danny took over his seat.

"What was he doing here?" he asked.

"I don't know. He just chose to sit here."

"Just like that?"

Will wasn't sure how to respond. He felt awkward.

"Okay, Will." said Dan seriously. "Tell me what is happening, because this time, I am under the impression that a few hours might have escaped my memory. Or a few days. Or years."

Will's gaze automatically wandered towards Blake, who was probably listening to every word he said to make sure he wasn't going to spill anything.

"Nothing much, actually," he shrugged, forcing a smile. "I told you I had to go back to school yesterday to look for the phone, didn't I? Well, Liam helped me and we talked a bit. That's all."

Danny didn't seem to buy it.

"You and Liam?" he asked skeptically.

"Yeah."

"What about Blake? And Norma?"

"They were helping, too."

"And while you were searching, the two of you apparently grew so close that now Liam treats you like an old friend."

"You're exaggerating," Will huffed. "Like a regular friend, maybe."

Dan hummed noncommittally. "Why are you nervous?" he asked, and Will realized he has been nibbling on his lower lip.

"I'm not," he assured immediately.

"That's interesting. Are they threatening you or something? Bullying you? Does it have something to do with those unfortunate ball-hitting incidents?"

"No, it's actually fine."

"Are you sure? Because if something is wrong, we're going straight to the principal. Jokes are one thing, but I'm not letting anyone ruin your life."

Will smiled warmly. He was pleased Danny was trying to take care of him. However, it only made him feel more guilty about the fact that he had to lie to him.

"I'm telling you, we came across each other at school, they helped me look for my cell phone, we talked a bit so now we kinda know each other. And that's it," he repeated the story, hoping that this time he sounded more convincing.

"Uh-huh."

Apparently not.

"Seriously, Danny. It's not a big deal."

Dan stared at him anxiously, then sighed deeply and said:

"I hate it when you're keeping secrets from me, you know?"

ooo

Three weeks have passed. Will didn't know exactly what he expected, but he certainly didn't expect... this. He was facing radio silence. Not counting the casual greetings as they passed by each other in the halls, he hardly talked to Norma and the rest. Liam never sat with him at lunch again, Abby acted like a ghost - like she always has, and Blake was as cold and mean as ever. In addition, he still tended to glare at Will as if the latter had killed his mother.

Obviously, he couldn't talk to Dan about what bothered him the most and it made him feel they were drifting apart. Because Will was constantly thinking about things he couldn't speak about openly, and Dan would realize something was wrong and ask questions, and then Will would have to play dumb and pretend everything was normal or make up some bullshit - and neither of these solutions had a positive effect on their relationship.

As if that wasn't enough, he still had some accidents. Those kinds of accidents.

It was early afternoon. Will was in his Physical Education classes.

He didn't like sport much, but two hours of PE per week were mandatory, so for lack of better options he decided to pick volleyball.

Sweaty and out of breath, he chased around the gym, trying to give the impression that he was involved in the match. At one point he saw the ball flying towards him. He jumped, intending to bounce it back. Unfortunately, Dave Hamill came up with the same idea at the same time, and they collided in the air.

Will fell to the floor, hissing in pain. Suddenly a familiar shiver went through his body, and a second later lights went out in the whole room.

"Again?!," he heard some girl complain. "It's the third time this week!"

"Why are you so surprised, though? This school is ancient. It probably has some old wiring."

"I can't believe it! What about the fire hazard? Aren't there any laws that regulate this stuff?"

Will took advantage of the commotion and slipped out of the gym. The class was about to finish in five minutes anyway, so he didn't expect anybody would notice he was missing.

He went to the locker room and took his things, but didn't change. He went outside still sweaty, in shorts and a t-shirt, even though the weather was now typical for the season: cold, damp and windy.

He sat on the small staircase, located just next to the back entrance of the school and huffed in frustration, rubbing his sore arm.

Jesus. He was hopeless. And dangerous! He dreaded to think what might have happened if he had a different special power. If his element was fire, the school would have probably already burnt to the ground. Although, even now there was a risk it could happen. What if one of the short circuits caused a spark? Or if some electrical device exploded?

Hearing voices nearby, he glanced in that direction. He saw Norma, who was standing a few feet away talking to some guy who was smoking a cigarette. At one point she looked towards Will. She smiled at him, but he couldn't quite bring himself to return the gesture. She squinted and said something to her companion, who took one last drag on his cigarette and snapped it away. He turned to go back to the building. Norma, meanwhile, went up to Will.

"How are you holding up?," she asked, happy and cordial.

"Good." Will replied harshly, looking away.

"Really? Cause it doesn't look that way."

"I said I'm good, okay?" he growled irritably. He really didn't feel like talking to her right right now. If she had asked him that a week ago he would have responded differently, but it seemed like nobody cared about him then.

"Oh. Sure. I also sometimes use that tone when 'I'm fine'".

Will didn't answer.

"Would you like to talk?" she offered, making herself comfortable on the step below.

"Now? Really?!" Will burst out, and Norma looked at him in surprise. "You've been ignoring me for weeks and now you remembered I exist? Thanks a lot!"

Norma snorted. "No offense, Will, but I'm not your mommy," she said matter-of-factly, crossing her arms at her chest.

"Yeah, sure. You're just the chick who told me I had super powers and to keep hush about it, or else. I had to bend over backwards lying to my friend. Also, these super powers are shit, the only thing they do is put me and everybody else in danger and I still don't know how to control them, it feels like trying to control a swarm of Piranha... But that's boring, so you just decide your job is done and you leave me on my own." Will hissed, not bothering to hide his bitterness. "I thought ... I don't know... I imagined witches had some assembly or a coven..."

"A coven?" she repeated, amused.

"I don't know about these things, okay!" Will was fuming again. "And okay, I get it, everybody's out for themselves and you can't help me with magic, but you promised it would be getting easier and it isn't. I've been trying so hard to prevent these accidents, Dan's been asking me if I have diarrhea 'cause I'm walking funny. And it just doesn't seem to do any good. Really, I don't know if I can deal with this alone," Will sighed, combing his hand through his hair. "It's all so random. Danny has already called the electrician twice, because he is convinced that something is wrong with the installation in our house. And I can't tell him the truth! Actually, we barely talk anymore because I'm afraid I'm gonna slip up. So there. I've admitted it, I'm not fine."

Norma was silent for a long while, probably wondering how to reply. Then she said gently:

"You're right." Will raised an eyebrow. He expected his outburst to cause a fight. Or that Norma will simply turn her back on him. "I understand. As you said, everybody's on their own when it comes to magic, but the fact is, we should have handled it better. Each one of us could rely on someone's support during their awakening. My aunt is a witch," she confessed, smiling slightly. "My mom is well aware of that, so when weird things started happening around me, she knew who to call for help. I don't know exactly how it was with Abby, because it's hard to get anything out of her, but she definitely has witches in her family. Blake...well, that's pretty obvious."

"Obvious," Will snorted.

"Ah. Well," said Norma, as if she only now realized that to him nothing was obvious. "Vampires have vampire parents, okay? Or at least one parent. So Blake knew who he was from the very beginning."

"So he wasn't... turned?," Will asked.

"No." Norma chuckled. "Vampires can't turn anyone. They're just another race. They are faster and stronger than people. And they live longer lives. They have greatly heightened senses, too, and they secret those... pheromones."

"They do what?"

"Vampires are predators," Norma explained. "The natural enemy of men, supposedly. Only that their way of operating is not based on direct ambush, but...on the art of seduction?," she snorted lightly. "I think you can call it that. They tempt. Sometimes by choice. Sometimes not, like in Blake's case. Why do you think all those girls are chasing after him so much? Just because of his awesome cheekbones and satin hair? No, no."

"So this is a tactic to get food?" Will asked, frowning.

"It's not a tactic, he has no control over it. Modern-day vampires don't feed like their ancestors. They don't have to. Anyway, if you want to learn more you should just ask Blake about it."

Will was silent for a moment, absorbing what he just heard, then asked:

"And Liam? He also wasn't turned, right?"

"No. He's also a representative of another race. But while with vampires, 'the vampire gene' is the dominant one, werewolves are much more complicated. Kind of like witches. It manifests in some people, in others it does not. Liam has three brothers and only one of them can transform into a wolf form."

Will didn't respond. Throughout their conversation he was trying to fight the sense of absurdity that accompanied him whenever he thought about the supernatural.

"The point is, we all had support," Norma continued. "And it doesn't seem fair that you don't have it. So I've been thinking... right!" she exclaimed suddenly, smiling like a maniac. "Yeah, that's a great idea."

"What is?"

"I just decided to organize a Halloween party. You in?"

"You just decided that?"

"Like I said. I have a free house. It will be interesting."

"But Halloween is in two days," reminded her Will.

"And?" Norma didn't seem worried. "This is my party. There will be plenty of guests."

They exchanged numbers. Will promised he would come, and Norma announced that she will send him the details in a text, once she determines the appropriate time.

Will spent the rest of his classes in relative peace, and although the conversation with Norma did not really change anything, he was feeling much better.

He returned home shortly after 3 pm. Danny met him at the doorstep.

"Werewolves or vampires?" he asked in a tone as if the fate of the universe depended on the answer.

Will paled.

"What?" he asked weakly.

"For Halloween," Danny explained. "We can watch either 'Last Fang' or 'Blood feast'. And I want to know in advance because I want to have a matching outfit. You have to dress up, too," he added seriously. "We may be stuck at home, but Halloween is Halloween, right?"

"I thought you had work," Will said, frowning.

"Huh? Oh, that job at the House of Fears? It didn't work out," Dan shrugged. "The guy I was supposed to stand in for said he changed his plans. So?"

Will didn't know how to reply. He didn't want to be a total jerk and leave his friend home alone to go to a party. But it wasn't going to be just a normal party. He made it clear to Norma that he wished to meet more people like himself, and she was trying to help him by extending this invitation. It would be in poor taste to opt out now. But what was he supposed to tell Danny?

"Actually ... I have other plans," he said slowly.

"Holy shit. Has Oscar finally asked you out?"

Will hated lying. He really hated lying, but in this situation he decided it would make things easier.

"Yeah," he tried to fake a smile.

"That is awesome!" Dan was happy for him. "Why didn't you tell me before?"

Will shrugged sluggishly.

"You've been acting mysterious lately," Danny complained. "But anyway. Congratulations! Although I have to warn you, when I become the only single person under this roof, I think I'll start hating you."

Will chuckled.

"Oh, and Danny," he said after a moment. "As for the movie..."

"Yes?"

"Pick werewolves. Vampires are assholes."

ooo

Will looked into the mirror. He debated for a moment whether his eyeliner really was uneven or he was just imagining it, but then came to the conclusion that it wasn't that important. He brushed the stray hair from his face and pulled the leather trousers up. He also wore a jacket and an undershirt to match. He couldn't find any shoes that would go with this outfit, so he had to settle for his regular black sneakers.

He had no idea if wearing costumes was required at Norma's party, so this get-up seemed perfect. On one hand he looked like a very cheap imitation of Blade from The Archangels, so if somebody asked, that's how he could explain himself. On the other, he could also claim that he wasn't dressing up as anybody and just wanted his outfit to give off a Halloween vibe. He wasn't going to give an impression of someone trying too hard.

He went down to the living room. Danny was sitting on the couch watching a TV program.

"How do I look? Not foolish?"

"You look great," Dan replied curtly. He seemed tense all day. Will thought he might be upset about being ditched after all.

"Which movie have you decided to watch?"

"Both. I will have lots of time."

Will bit his lip uncertainly.

"Is everything okay?" he asked after a moment's hesitation.

Dan gave him a cold look.

"You tell me," he muttered.

Will stared at him without understanding.

"You do realize I have Math with Oscar, right," Danny said then, and Will immediately understood what he was aiming for. His insides twisted. "So today, just for kicks and giggles, I asked him about your date. He was shocked. He had no idea what I was talking about. But I think you know."

Will fell silent, feeling panic envelop him. He tried to think of something quickly, but he really was a bad liar. Lying to Danny was particularly difficult. He never had to do it before. Danny knew almost everything about him.

"So, where are you going?" Danny was still studying him questioningly. "Or am I supposed not to ask questions and pretend to believe your bullshit?"

"It's not like that," Will whispered.

"Then how is it?" Danny hissed.

"Norma is having a party today," Will confessed, taking a deep breath. "She invited me. It felt awkward to refuse, and..."

"You decided to lie to your best friend," Dan finished bitterly. "I understand. No, actually, I don't," he reflected after a moment, squinting. "I imagine that it must have seemed like a more exciting prospect than sitting at home with the old, boring Dan..."

"Danny..."

"... but why didn't you tell me the truth?"

"Because I felt so stupid! She didn't say I could bring someone. I didn't want you to feel..."

"Like you're ditching me for your new friends?"

"I'm telling you, that's not the case!" Will insisted. "I agreed to go before you said you'll be staying home. It just didn't seem right to try to get out of it later."

"Come on, it wouldn't be so hard. You could just lie. I see that you prefer it."

"Danny..."

"You know what?" Dan hissed, piercing him with a grim look. "Lately, I don't get you at all. Just go to that shitty party, cause I really don't want to look at you today."

"Danny, listen ..." Will tried again, hoping he could regain some control over the situation.

"I'm serious, Will," his roommate snapped. "Go."

Will hesitated, but eventually did what he was told. He knew Dan and he knew that any further discussion would inevitably lead to an even bigger argument, and he preferred to avoid it. Let Danny cool down. He also needed a break. He felt remorseful, but this was an important chance for him. The only thing he really regretted was that he didn't find a better way to convey it to his friend.

Norma lived almost at the very end of the city, near the Black Forest. Will traveled most of the way by bus, but he still had a good distance to walk from the bus stop. When he arrived, music was already booming from the house.

The first person he saw was Liam. The boy was standing at the front gate, leaning against the fence that was decorated with pumpkins. In one hand he was holding a phone, and he seemed to be texting. In the other he had a bottle of beer which he was occasionally sipping from, without ever taking his eyes off the screen. He was dressed in a gray hoodie and loose, navy blue trousers, which was more or less the usual for him. He clearly didn't feel the spirit of the day.

"Hi," Will said to be polite. After all, Liam talked to him. Unlike Blake.

"Hi," Liam replied, glancing at him briefly.

Will walked on, but turned back after a couple of steps. He stood facing the boy and asked:

"Are you sure it's safe to be drinking here?"

"And what are you, police?" Liam didn't seem annoyed; rather, he was amused.

"No, but what if they happened to be driving by and spotted you. I just think it would be better to go inside."

Liam finally lifted his eyes from the screen.

"The legal age for drinking in Black Hollow is eighteen," he reminded Will.

"But you're not eighteen."

"I am," Liam said. Will raised an eyebrow, hinting that he didn't believe it. "Would you like to see my ID?"

"Are you saying you had to repeat a year?" Will raised his eyebrows, his tone automatically taking on a condescending note.

"My ... transformations started when I was thirteen," Liam explained calmly. "Let's just say it took a year out of my life."

Will felt bad. For a moment they stood in an awkward silence, then he blurted out:

"Today is not a full moon though, is it?"

Liam chuckled.

"Moon phases mainly influence the circulation of magic power," he said. "So they affect wizards the most. They are neutral to us."

"When do you transform into the wolf, then?" Will couldn't contain his curiosity. This newly discovered paranormal world frightened him, but at the same time he wanted to learn as much about it as possible.

"When I want to."

"Is it ... painful?"

"No. Well, not for me," Liam corrected after a moment's reflection. "The way we feel things at the moment of transformation can be very different than normal. I feel ... strange. It's sort of a given, after all my body grows and changes, but the final effect is liberating."

"So theoretically, you could transform right now?"

"Yes."

Will imagined himself standing in front of Liam in his hairy form (although he had no idea what it may look like), and he felt very uncomfortable.

"And ... after the change ... do you retain full control over yourself?" he asked carefully.

"Yes. In some sense. I don't think the way I do in my current form. The instincts kind of take over. But I am still there."

"So if you transformed now, you wouldn't just try to attack and eat me."

Liam tilted his head slightly, looking at Will with a twinkle in his eyes.

"It depends," he said after an extremely disturbing pause.

"On what?" Will said anxiously.

Liam leaned over him, smiling widely, and asked:

"Are you tasty?"

Will also smiled. He thought he was getting a hang of Liam's sense of humor.

"So ... alphas, betas and such..." he began, and Liam laughed. "Stop it! I might have watched a few movies and I just want to learn if it's true."

"Those divisions don't occur in the wild. The behaviors you're talking about are only displayed by captive wolves. When they're among strangers, they fight for dominance. They try to subordinate others. Not unlike the humans, really. Under normal conditions, wolves prefer teamwork. They live in packs, care about the family and value loyalty. It's similar with werewolves. Or rather, it used to be. The world is changing, we no longer need to stay in small groups."

"Since you're friends with Blake, I conclude that the legendary conflict between vampires and werewolves is also just fiction?"

"It's not that simple," Liam replied to his surprise. "We're not at war or anything, but werewolves and vampires alike tend to exalt themselves and pretend their race is superior. Not everybody is like that, though. For example, I don't give a shit."

"So no alphas, no war between the races and no uncontrolled transformations," Will summed up, pleased with all these findings.

"That last bit is not entirely true," Liam corrected, making him anxious again. "I told you I can change at will and that I'm conscious throughout, but there are exceptions to this rule. Some werewolves try to suppress their true nature. They pretend they are human, live normal human lives and don't ever transform. But that's bound to fail. Sooner or later the transformation will happen spontaneously at the least appropriate time. Then, the animal nature becomes so strong that it dims human consciousness. Something similar may happen when we're driven by strong emotions."

"So you'll transform when you're angry?" Will asked, frowning.

Liam smiled.

"Usually not. After adolescence, I have not experienced any uncontrolled transformations. They won't be brought about by something trivial, like failing a test. The emotions must be way out of the usual range. When the situation is beyond the capacity of the human to deal with... then the wolf stirs." He sighed. "But apart from those cases, we're in control. Anyway, it's the same with Blake. And with Norma. And you. Only my beast is literal and yours is... well. They are your magic tricks that you still haven't mastered."

"How do you know I haven't mastered them?" Will asked defensively.

Liam indicated his phone.

"Because my phone's dead, and I have just charged it."

"Oh my God," Will said mournfully. "I'm so sorry. I have no idea how it happened."

"It's okay," Liam didn't seem to blame him. "You'll get a hang of it sooner or later."

"I hope sooner, because my flatmate has already abandoned all hopes of a logical explanation and is beginning to think our house is haunted."

Liam started to laugh, but Will felt bad when he remembered Danny. He really should have handled it better.

"Are we coming in?" Liam suggested.

"Sure."

A moment later they found themselves inside Norma's house. Will was quite shocked. There were so many people around that he felt lost. Were all of them...?

"Hi, Will," he heard a familiar voice and looked to the right to see Oscar smiling at him.

"He ... Hey," he said weakly.

He looked around nervously, and when he spotted Norma in the crowd he pushed through to her, grabbed her by the arm and pulled her aside.

"What's up, Will," she greeted him casually.

"Who exactly is Oscar?" he asked, glancing at the boy who seemed confused by his sudden departure.

"He's our classmate?" Norma replied indulgently, raising an eyebrow.

"I know that. I'm asking more like... what is he?"

Norma blinked.

"The answer is still the same," she chuckled.

"So he's not a vampire or ...?"

The girl started laughing.

"You invited normal people too?" Will was perplexed.

"And what did you think, that I organized a party exclusively for freaks? Seriously? I invited everyone I like. And Oscar is cool. Anyway, I think you caught his fancy, so have fun. Ciao!"

Before Will could ask anything else, Norma approached some guy, and moments later she was dancing with him in a very close embrace.

Will let out a heavy sigh. If he knew that was the case, he would have invited Danny. Turns out he lied to him for nothing.

Unsure what to do with himself, he walked over to one of the tables to pour himself some punch. Then he noticed Blake, who was trying to chase away some girl. Blake appeared to be extremely annoyed. He was dressed up as... a vampire? He had a black cape with a high collar, and fake blood all over his face and neck. Or at least Will hoped it was fake.

"A very ... creative costume," he remarked as Blake walked past him.

Alden gave him a disdainful look and walked on without saying a word, only to be swiftly attacked by another unfortunate victim of his vampire charm.

" I didn't expect you'd be here."

Will flinched slightly, then turned his gaze to Oscar who was standing right next to him. He didn't even notice when the boy approached him.

"Neither did I," he replied with an uncertain smile.

"Huh?"

"It's nothing," he muttered evasively. He felt growing disappointment. This evening wasn't going how he expected.

"I spoke with Dan today," Oscar informed him. "He told me something weird."

Will groaned internally.

"That we were supposed to have an appointment or something. Was he thinking about this party?"

"Actually, there might have been a slight miscommunication," Will said evasively, looking away.

"Ah. I get it."

God. He was so fed up with the lies.

"To tell the truth, Norma has invited me here," he said after a beat. "I thought Danny would be busy today, so I accepted, but something didn't work out for him and he stayed home. When I told him I had plans he kind of assumed it had something to do with you, so..." Will cleared his throat, feeling his cheeks sting with shame. "All in all, I kind of confirmed it."

"Oh. I had no idea."

"Yeah. I know."

It was so awkward. Very awkward.

"I didn't mean to lie to him," Will added with genuine remorse.

"So maybe we should actually go somewhere together," Oscar suggested.

Will glanced at him in surprise.

"To make up for this evening," Oscar added with a smile. "Then it wouldn't count as a lie."

"I don't think it works that way," Will observed.

"Or it would count as a very small lie," Oscar shrugged, unperplexed. "How about a movie?"

Will couldn't contain his smile.

"Sure," he answered cheerfully. "Gladly."

"Oh, I love this song," Oscar remarked as the next tune started playing. It sounded sort of familiar. "What is it called... god, I have no memory for this stuff. Ah! Nocturne!" he exclaimed with satisfaction, and Will groaned hollowly. Actually, he was starting to recognize this awful screeching. "I think it's your favorite too, isn't it?"

"Er... sure," Will agreed slowly, coming to the conclusion that there was no point telling Oscar about his now controversial opinion of this song.

"Would you like to dance?"

"Sure."

And they danced. Not to just one song, but many, to the point when Will finally lost count. The distance between them quickly melted to zero, and Will stopped regretting the decision to come. Oscar was so close ... Hot, sexy, with his beautiful, charming smile ... Will hoped that the boy's hands, now resting on his hips, would dare wander to some other areas ... Oscar probably thought about it too, because as people gradually began to leave, he hinted that he would like to accompany Will on the way back.

But then Norma pulled Will aside and whispered in his ear he should stay longer.

So he stayed - in the company of Norma, Liam and Blake.

"Abby didn't come?" Will asked. He hadn't noticed her before.

"She doesn't like parties. She doesn't like many things at all," Norma explained, shrugging.

"To the point," Blake said coldly, looking impatient.

"Of course. So the point is. Our newbie..." Norma embraced Will by the shoulder. "Has nobody to turn to. So we have to show him support, okay?"

"Cool," Liam answered, and for him the topic was clearly over.

"That's the reason you forced us to come?" Blake sneered. "You're out of your mind."

"I didn't force you to do anything, Blake, I simply invited you," Norma chastised him calmly. "But if you like to be ordered, I can think of something," she added suggestively, and Blake gave her a scandalized look. "Play nice, okay? Will needs someone he can talk to."

"I'm not going to talk to him," Blake said through his teeth. "I'm busy."

"Yes, yes, you are terribly busy being an inaccessible bastard, I know, Blake, I know." Norma spoke as if she was talking to a child less than a few years old. Alden narrowed his eyes, glaring at her menacingly. "But since you're already here ... Will would probably want to ask some questions."

This was clearly a signal for him to speak, because everyone looked at him expectantly. Will cleared his throat.

"Liam told me about werewolves," he began shyly. "And the witches seem pretty straightforward, so... I would like to know something about vampires."

"Something about vampires," Blake repeated sourly. "That's very eloquent."

"You don't have to worry, he won't bite you." Norma reassured Will playfully.

"Don't be disgusting!" Alden huffed.

"Blake is as helpful as ever, so I'll explain," she offered. "Vampires feed on blood, yes. Not just on blood, but mainly. Through the centuries they have gained a reputation of predators, but in most civilized countries they haven't been hunting people for a long time now. They drink artificial blood."

Artificial blood... Will's attention focused for a moment on Alden's makeup. They weren't talking about something like that?

"I mean, blood made specifically for their needs," Norma explained, noticing the boy's confusion.

"Wait ... so there is a technology that can produce artificial blood?" Will wondered. "In a sense that it's the same as human?"

"Yes."

"Then why don't they use it to save people? Why keep donating blood, when you can just manufacture it in labs?" he asked, annoyed at the illogicality.

"Oh, but they do use it to save people," Norma said. "To save people from vampire attacks."

"Oh, for God's sake!" Blake was angry. "We haven't been attacking people for ages!"

"Blake, if you're able to hold a normal conversation, go ahead. If not, please be so graceful as to stop interrupting."

"I don't know," Alden replied dryly. "Would you be able to hold a normal conversation with a pig?"

Will's eyes widened, and he looked at Blake indignantly. He couldn't believe he just said that!

"That's a great question." Norma didn't seem moved at all. "And the answer is yes, because that's exactly how I feel when I'm talking to you."

Blake rose abruptly.

"I'm leaving," he hissed, offended.

"No!" Norma called out dramatically. "Oh, prince of darkness, I'm begging you, stay with me tonight!" Alden froze for a moment, thrown off by her performance. Norma snorted irritably. "Go ahead , loser, what are you waiting for?"

Blake held his head high and marched out. Liam smiled.

"Blake will be Blake," Norma concluded. "Don't worry about him."

"Right." Will smiled sluggishly. "Fortunately, we're immune to that vampire charm of his."

"Immune?" Norma repeated questioningly.

"Yeah. It doesn't work on us."

"Unfortunately it still does, in a way. Just when you're aware of its existence, it loses its impact. You can sift through your initial feelings and realize they're false."

"But... I think I stopped admiring him before I found out about the charm," Will said, frowning.

"Some are more susceptible than others," Norma just shrugged.

Weird. Will could have sworn there was a moment when he perfectly understood everybody's fascination with Blake. And then he stopped. Just like that. Until now, he thought it had some connection to his awakening, but apparently he was wrong.

Either way, he was glad he could see Blake's true face.