Well we’re in Reno. Lol, we’re just like… chillin.

The motel we’re staying in is painted the same color as Pepto Bismol, but it’s warm enough to hang out by the pool, so that’s a bonus. It’s also necessary because there’s nothing else for us to do. We really just came out here to be on hand should things go south, but so far things haven’t technically gone south.

Which isn’t to say things are going well. They’re not going well.

Apparently Billy Ace insisted that they hold these meetings in a public forum, which means that Beverly, Cooper and Celeste have essentially been trying to reason with these people and getting shouted down for two days. They came by yesterday and they were all exhausted.

“They’re too angry,” Cooper said, slumping onto a deck chair. We were at the pool obviously because there’s nothing else for us to do. “Ace has them all whipped into a frenzy. They refuse to hear anything we’re saying.”

“We’re calling in more allies,” Beverly said and then kicked a deck chair and fell into it to cover her face with her hands. “We’re calling people off hunts for this. People are going to die because we can’t get our fucking politics organized.”

Julian reached to massage the back of her neck. “But once this is set up, you’ll have more resources,” he said. “This has to be done. If someone had laid this groundwork years ago, we wouldn’t be in this position at all. We invest the time and resources now, get a system in place, and in the future we’ll be able to help people more effectively come what may. Right?”

She looked up at him and folks there was so much affection on her face. She turned her face to kiss his fingers and my little heart squeezed. Whenever they’re soft with each other I feel… idk, like weirdly involved??? HA it’s weird in writing, but like they really almost lost each other, except that I intervened. I dunno it’s just been a storm of bad shit, and my flesh prison feels like an absolute stranger to me, so I’m big time clinging to every good thing.

“What are they saying?” Neal asked and Beverly averted her eyes, and shrugged.

“Lots of stuff,” she said, evasively, and Neal zeroed in on her.

“Lot’s of stuff?”

“Yeah,” she said. “Billy Ace likes power, and his followers like the certainty of believing in him. They don’t want to hear reason.”

Julian and Neal exchanged a look.

“Bev,” Neal said. “Is there something you’re not telling us?”

“Leave her alone, Neal,” Celeste said and Neal’s expression got really alarmed.

“Does that mean yes?” he asked, and zeroed in on Cooper. “What aren’t you telling me?”

“Nothing,” Cooper said, because he doesn’t know that Neal can always tell you’re lying — Beverly and Celeste both groaned.

“Explain,” Neal commanded.

“There’s nothing to —”

“Liar!” Neal cried. “What’s going on?”

“I’m not —” Cooper began and Beverly finally spoke over him.

“Fine,” she snapped. “Fine you want the truth? Here’s the truth.” She huffed. “They refuse to hear anything else we have to say until we’ve told them what we’re going to do with you.”

The Hawthornes looked at each other for a long moment.

“They don’t know Julian’s alive,” Celeste went on. “And they don’t seem to have any interest in either direction about Shiloh, she hasn’t come up.”

“But?” Neal prompted.

“But they want you punished for what happened to Merl Allen,” Cooper finished, and Neal laughed humorlessly, and thumped heavily back into his lawn chair.

“What do they have in mind?”

All three of them were awkward and quiet for a moment before Beverly said, “it’s not going to matter when the rest of the hunters get here. I’ve already spoken to the Walthers and they’re happy to back us, that’ll change some minds.”

“Bev,” Neal said, and Celeste finally spoke up.

“They want to shoot you the way you did Merl,” she said, bluntly. “They’re calling it justice, but really they want to make a statement against Lana and rifting.”

Neal pushed his hands through his hair, so his curls got all fluffy. He cursed quietly.

“That isn’t gonna happen,” Cooper said, but the way he glanced at Beverly when he said it suggested he was reassuring himself more than us.

“No,” Beverly agreed, and when Neal’s expression didn’t lift, she added, “If it wasn’t you, it would be something else.”

He forced a smile. “I know.”

“They’re just looking for more ways to put us at their mercy,” Celeste said. “Which is absurd.” And something about her tone reminded me that if she wanted to, Celeste could have called in a few of her witchy friends, handled all those dudes in there in a few minutes and then gone for lunch if she cared to.

It also strikes me that this method — this slow attempt to reason with them — is potentially more dangerous. They’ve already killed Julian, and now they’re looking to bag Neal next. Who knows who else will get hurt navigating this issue?

But then, I guess the same could sorta be said for us — Merl Allen didn’t make it out of that encounter alive either.

I feel a weird sense of dread. Because I know — like, fully, and without a doubt — that Beverly is the right person for this job, and that magic isn’t evil. I know that Celeste will do everything in her power to be a line between hunters and witches, and that those dog saints that have decided to act will do everything in their power to keep this world safe.

But when there are so many people who are totally certain in the opposite direction, it’s easy to find myself wondering what’s true. Especially because some of their concerns are perfectly valid — magic is dangerous sometimes, there are more creatures in the world than there used to be, there isn’t strong enough organization to direct everyone effectively, and the people who haven’t been in this life for a long time are at a significant disadvantage.

I just want to feel certain and righteous you know? Hahahahaha, and that’s exactly what they want to feel, too, and that’s why they’re being totally unreasonable

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