Hi! I do not own Teen Wolf or the Dark Heavens/Journey to Wudang books! I do own my OC and hopefully this will not be a train wreck. Please review and let me know what you think! As for timeline… I'm setting this at the beginning of season one of Teen Wolf and between books Red Phoenix and Blue Dragon. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, it's fine, I'll probably explain it eventually.

Glossary:
Chǎo má shi- Stir-fried Shaanxi Pasta
Xuan Wu (Putonghua)- North Wind, God of Martial Arts and Water, Black Turtle of the North, referred to by his human name John Chen or 'Mr. Chen' by Briar
Kwan Yin- a Buddhist icon, Goddess of Mercy, referred to by Briar as 'Miss Mercy'
Bai Hu (Putonghua)- West Wind, White Tiger of the West, Briar's father
Triad- Gangster
Sifu (Cantonese)- Master
Shen- Can mean an Immortal being, similar to a god (mostly found is Chinese mythology) and/or the spirit within a person and the energy of their soul
Chi- Energy that exists in all living things.
Wu shu (Putonghua)- General term for all martial arts
Kata (Japanese)- a set of moves to practice with a weapon or hand to hand
Xie xie (Putonghua)- Thank you
Zài jiàn (Putonghua)- Good bye
Ho ak (Cantonese)- Okay
Chikushō (Japanese)- Hell or shit
Bái mù (Putonghua)- Blind, stupid, reacting badly to a situation not fully understood
Shǎ zi (Putonghua)- Blockhead
Qù sǐ (Putonghua)- 'Go die!' Or 'Go to Hell!'
Cáo (Putonghua)- Fuck or 'to fuck'
Cào nǐ zǔzōng shíbā dài (Putonghua)- 'Fuck your ancestors to the eighteenth generation', a very serious insult
Chǔn lǘ (Putonghua)- Jackass

Briar MacLaren sighs as she steps out of her aunt's car and stares up at the Martin house. Her tawny blond hair is bound back in a long ponytail, accenting her golden skin. She is fairly tall, standing at 5'9" while wearing very battered jeans and a t-shirt that proclaims 'Insert Coffee for Functional Human Being'. Her hazel eyes flicker over the house as her aunt gets out of the car.

"I was so surprised when your mother contacted us about you coming here!" Cynthia gushes as Briar pulls out her bags from the trunk.

"Are you sure you can carry all of that? It seems awfully heavy-"

Briar winces, swearing internally.

Cáo! Look weak, look weak, be normal-!

"Actually, they are a little heavy. Could I have some help?" Briar asks politely.

Cynthia smiles in understanding.

"I'll have my husband come out and help- might as well put his brawn to use!"

Briar nods and waits as Cynthia fetches her uncle. He comes outside scowling and Cynthia fluttering around him in a panic. Briar's eyes narrow but she keeps a polite mask as she politely bows to her uncle.

"Thank you for having me, I understand that this was unexpected and I beg your understanding and patience." Briar tells him.

"Honey catches more flies than vinegar."

Her uncle hmphs and grabs a bag, grunting under its weight. Briar hides a grin: he grabbed her 'armory' bag. Briar snatches the other and follows him up the stairs to her room. He dumps her bag on the bed and leaves without a word. Cynthia sighs as she stares at her husband's retreating back before turning back to Briar with a slightly forced smile.

"Would you like to rest or-?"

"I would love to take a nap." Briar interrupts her, eager to be alone.

Cynthia nods in understanding and exits, closing the door. Briar lets out a sighs as she looks over her room.

So small. She thinks, comparing it to the one back in Hong Kong.

Shrugging, Briar unpacks and carefully stows her clothes, practice weapons and the real articles. Briar pulls out two small shrines and sets the first up in the north corner of the room, the second goes in the eastern corner. She carefully checks her work before unwrapping and placing the two deities into the shrines: Xuan Wu and Kwan Yin. She bows to both before placing small offerings in front of them. The last thing she removes is a black wooden box holding her sword. Opening it, she stares down at the black sheathe, the gold and black hilt. She swallows hard as memories well up.

"Hah! You're such a trend follower, Briar!"

"Shut up, Michael! Like 'White Tiger' is such a great name- it's just means you're a carbon copy of Dad!"

"Hey! Don't even kid about that! And I'm not the one with a sword named 'Dark Tiger'!"

"That does it! First one to touch both knees to the floor loses!"

"You're on!"

"Michael, Briar, knock it off!"

"But Leo-!" The twins protest at the same time.

"I don't want to hear it. And don't let Lady Emma or Mr. Chen catch you doing this again or you'll both be sharpening the armory!"

"… Fine." Michael grumps.

"Got it." Briar clips out.

The twins glance at each other. Briar mouths 'Later.' Michael smirks at his sister.

'You're on!' He mouths back.

"I saw that." Leo tells them as he leaves the dojo.

Briar shakes her head, warding off the memories as she lays down on the bed.

Stop it. Go to sleep. You need it. Briar orders herself.

For once, her body complies.

Briar groans as she sits up on the bed, her stomach growling.

"Monica, I want chǎo má shi-!" She groans, before starting at the unfamiliar walls.

"Where-! Oh. America." Briar rubs her head and gets out of bed, grimacing at the time.

Three in the afternoon in Hong Kong equals shittastically late in California- great. Jetlag, I hate you. Not as much as Simon Wong, but I still hate you.

She sighs before wandering down the stairs to the kitchen; to her dismay, there isn't much there aside from yogurt and apples. Groaning, Briar eats both and pulls on shoes and clothes suitable for outside. She notices a note on her nightstand and reads it.

Briar,

Your house key is on the small table by the main entrance-

I know you are tired so feel free to rest before school starts up tomorrow.

Lydia will be driving you there and helping you with finding your way around.

I hope that you will enjoy your stay with us!

From your loving aunt,

Cynthia.

Briar smiles at her aunt's thoughtfulness before walking out, locking the door as she goes. Pushing her hands into her pockets, Briar starts down the street before noticing a path leading into the woods. Curious, she pauses, considering it then shrugs.

Might as well explore.

Briar enters the woods, noting the differences between China's forests and this one. She feels herself relaxing- the air is much cleaner here than in China and her chi is much stronger than usual. Suddenly she hears barking in the distance. Briar pauses, listening hard.

The barks fade until only the sounds of the forest fill the silence. Briar listens but hears nothing out of the ordinary. Slowly she starts to walk again, on alert. Later she wouldn't be able to say what it was that caught her attention- the sudden silence, the weight of something staring at her or feeling uneasily she is no longer alone.

Briar subtly shifts her feet into a relaxed fighting stance, casually pulling her hands out of her pockets to blow on them. An abrupt scream catches her attention and Briar's head snaps in that direction. She breaks into a run, jumping over fallen logs and dodging various trees. She comes to a small hill and sees a boy near her age laying on the ground clutching his side.

Briar rushes down next to him, checking him for demon essence.

Not a demon- regular human.

She judges as she drags him to his feet.

"Wh-who are you?!" He stammers, trying to stanch the bleeding.

"Briar. You?" She says tersely, eyes scanning the area around them.

"S-Scott. Scott McCall. We need to run away before it comes back-!" He whispers.

A low threatening growl cuts him off. Briar turns and spots a creature she has never seen before. Immediately she checks to see if it is a demon; no such luck.

A western mythological creature on my first night in America that probably wants to eat me. How is my luck THIS bad? She wonders in amazement.

Not even Lady Emma's luck is this awful!

Briar quickly shoves Scott away from the creature, knowing she can't protect him and fight this thing.

"Go! Now!" She orders, keeping her eyes on the creature.

It snarls at her and Scott hesitates.

"But-!"

"I. Said. GO!" She all but roars at him, keeping her body between him and the beast.

Scott breaks and runs, leaving her alone to face the beast. It tilts its head at her, seemingly surprised by her decision to stay between him and Scott. Briar locks eyes with it and shifts into a basic fighting stance, balanced on the balls of her feet for greater mobility. Its eyes flicker between her and Scott, indecisive. Briar takes a deep breathe, knowing her next action was not something she would be sharing with her family.

Ever.

Especially if she didn't want to get lectured by Lady Emma, Leo, Mr. Chen, Jade, Gold, Michael, her mom and Miss Mercy.

"What's the matter? Too scared to go after a wounded boy if a scrawny teenage girl is in your way? Well? Are you really such a coward?"

Briar taunts him, hating how much she sounds like Bai Hu. It roars and charges her. Briar ducks the arm sweeping at her, steps diagonally to its charge and twists to stomp kick its knee. The beast staggers as Briar smoothly turns to face it, her attention fully focused on her opponent. It growls lowly at her and recovers quickly, trying to pounce on her. She tucks and rolls, letting it fly over her and land awkwardly on the ground.

Strong but so slow! I would judge it comparable to a Level 40 demon at most… Got to stay out of its' grip!

By the time it rights itself, Briar is calmly facing it, unscathed. The creature hesitates, unsure of how to deal with her. She tilts her head at its hesitant behavior.

"Already scared? My, it doesn't take much to deter you does it..?" Briar mocks it.

It roars furiously at her and bounds forward, intent on maiming her. Briar stays put and shifts to a much broader stance as she summons up her chi into her hands. Her hands start to glow golden as the creature gets within striking distance. Briar releases her breathe in a long, slow exhale before her hands blur, deflecting the beast's arms and slamming into its torso with multiple hits.

Snarling, it tries to trap her in a crushing bear hug, but she dodges between its legs and maneuvers behind it. Her hands smash into its spine and legs as she grimly works to knock it off balance or impair it. It staggers and mimics her earlier move to leap away from her attacks. Briar lets it, staying put as it turns to glare at her with its' crimson eyes.

"… What are you? You are clearly no mere beast."

Briar murmurs, watching it closely. Its ears twitch as she speaks and she could have sworn she saw amusement and irritation on its face. Briar's eyebrow rises.

"And you understand human speech."

It huffs at her, clearly annoyed. Briar smirks at it, tossing her ponytail over her shoulder.

"Why don't we call it a draw- I have no doubt we will run into each other again." She suggests softly.

It snarls at her angrily.

"You will not get past me- I will cripple or kill you before I allow you to hurt that boy again." Her voice is calm and matter-of-fact.

Unyielding.

He blinks as he realizes she is perfectly serious- he can sense her fear, but it is tightly controlled. Manageable. And her heartbeat did not waver in the slightest as she threatened him, an Alpha werewolf nearly three times her size.

Briar keeps her eyes level and unwavering as she stares down the beast. One. Two. Three. Four- it spins and bounds off into the darkness, leaving Briar alone. She releases the breathe she had been holding and starts walking back to her aunt's house.

The alarm clock drags Briar into the waking world, making her groan in protest before she staggers out of bed. Blearily, she opens her closet and stares blankly at the clothes in her closet.

"Chikushō!" She swears in Japanese.

"What the hell am I supposed to wear?!"

"Hmm. Sounds like someone needs fashion advice." A dry voice says from the doorway.

Briar spins and barely stops herself from swearing again- Lydia smirks at her in amusement. Her cousin walks in and critically examines her clothes.

"Hmm, this green top, this black skirt with the gold flower pattern, those adorable black boots and your white leather jacket." Lydia decides.

Briar smiles gratefully.

"Xie xie Lydia! I'll be out in less than five, so please tell me we have time to get coffee or tea-!"

Briar starts throwing on clothes, quickly tugging them into place, throwing her hair into her customary ponytail and zipping up her boots. Lydia quirks her eyebrow at how fast Briar was getting dressed.

"Don't worry, we have time. Now, make-up. I think I have a nice green eyeshadow you can use to bring out your eyes- you'll have to supply your own lipstick though." She says breezily, marching back to her room.

Briar lets out a sigh and does some basic eyeliner and mascara, then pulls out her jasmine scent and rubs it onto her neck and wrists. That done, she goes to Lydia's room for final touches. Lydia smiles in satisfaction at Briar's appearance.

"You certainly brush up well- of course you are my cousin so it makes sense. Now, close your eyes this will only take a second." Lydia orders.

Bemused, Briar complies and twitches at the tickling sensation of the small brush.

"There. Done! Now there's my smoking hot Chinese cousin!" Lydia proclaims, pleased with her work.

Briar rolls her eyes at Lydia.

"What are you talking about? I'm always smoking hot!" Briar mock-pouts as she slings her messenger bag over her shoulder.

Lydia scoffs.

"Oh please, you looked like something the cat dragged in."

Briar rolls her eyes and darts into her room to grab some workout clothes. Lydia taps her foot impatiently as Briar scrambles down the stairs.

"Admittedly, mornings are not my favorite time of day." Briar yawns, covering her mouth with one hand.

Lydia pats her shoulder sympathetically and gets the car started. Thankfully, Lydia goes to a drive-in coffee shop where they order breakfast and coffee. Briar scarfs her breakfast sandwich in record time and carefully folds the napkin on her lap, crumbles and all, then crumples it for later disposal.

"You're rather hungry."

Briar shrugs.

"It feels like the middle of the night to me." She eyes her coffee cup.

"I might need a refill." She muses, knowing this was going to be an awful day.

Lydia sighs and parks the car. Briar walks in step with her up to the school, where she spots Scott. She waggles her coffee cup in greeting, ignoring his dumbfounded expression. The boy next to him is bouncing agitatedly and tries to catch Lydia's attention, failing miserably. Briar smiles slightly; so Lydia has a decently cute boy crushing on her, hmm?

Decent blackmail material.

Lydia greets a blond guy who is fairly attractive and introduces them.

"Jackson, this is my cousin Briar MacLaren from Hong Kong. Briar, this is Jackson, he's my boyfriend and captain of the lacrosse team."

Briar smiles at him.

"Nice to meet you- at least I'll know someone other than Lydia now."

He nods, eyeing her speculatively.

"And one of the best. Lucky you." He boasts, leaning against a locker.

Briar hangs onto her smile, working to control her temper.

"I suppose I am. Excuse me, I need to pick up my schedule."

The couple nod and Briar makes her escape. Thankfully she finds the office fairly easily and the office attendant helps her with everything, including a map of the school. She reads her schedule and frowns. English? At least it's not Chemistry the first thing in the morning. Briar shrugs and navigates to the classroom, constantly checking her map.

She finds the door and enters, noting Lydia and Jackson are there as well as Scott and his friend. Briar waves at them then goes to the teacher to explain who she is and shows her schedule. The teacher is very helpful, not nearly as strict as some of her past teachers. Briar is given a seat near Scott's bouncy friend and Lydia.

Briar pulls out a notebook and mechanical pencils, arranging them neatly on her desk as she waits for the bell to ring. Then something lands on her notebook. Briar picks it up, curious- a note? She unfolds it and tries to read the chicken-scratch.

Scott said you were in the woods last night.

Briar glances at Scott's friend and quirks her eyebrow imperiously. He blinks at her, not understanding. Briar sighs.

"We're sitting right next to each other. You can just ask me-wait, what's your name?" She asks, distracted by not knowing what to call him.

"Stiles. I'm Stiles and you are the mysterious and commanding Briar that faced off with the not wolf creature because California hasn't had wolves in 60 years. Did you get hurt too? How did you find Scott? Did you get a good look at the creature?" Stiles barrages her with questions.

Briar blinks and sends a quick mental thank you to Emma, Leo and her mom.

Thank you for making me practice English!

"I do not know what it was-"
True.
"It was very fast, but didn't seem to cope well with someone being very confident and aggressive to it."
True.
"I was not hurt."
Truth.
"I followed the screams." Briar answers him, staying as honest as she can.

Stiles taps the desk as he processes the information. Briar quietly sighs in relief; she hates lying, but omitting information is not as awful an evil. Stiles opens his mouth to ask another question but the bell cuts him off. Briar turns her attention to the teacher as she outlines her expectations for the class, making detailed notes. The opening of the door catches her attention and she blinks, seeing another girl (rather cute) walk in with the vice principle.

"Class, this is Allison Argent. She and Briar MacLaren are new transfer students so treat them kindly." He nods in her direction and Briar idly waves her hand in acknowledgment.

The teacher indicates Allison to sit down and she chooses the seat behind Scott. He turns and offers her a pencil, which she takes with a puzzled smile. Briar puts it out of her mind as the teacher resumes the lesson.

After class Briar heads to Lydia's locker, knowing she would be somewhere nearby. What she hadn't expected was seeing her tiny cousin cornering the brunette that came in late.

"Lydia, are you making friends or intimidating her?" Briar asks, leaning against the locker in amusement.

"Making her feel welcome and admiring her taste, obviously." Lydia corrects Briar.

Briar raises an eyebrow.

"So you're new too? I'm Briar MacLaren, Lydia's cousin. Not that the vice principle didn't say that, but still, I like to introduce myself properly." Briar offers her hand.

Allison shakes it gratefully.

"Allison Argent." Briar smiles at her.

"It's not so bad here- if I can figure out this school then you can too, especially with Lydia's help."

Lydia smirks and tosses her hair over her shoulder.

"Obviously- you would be lost without me!"

"Clearly she is a truly humble person." Briar deadpans, keeping her expression very polite.

Lydia whacks her shoulder, Briar's polite mask breaks while she starts laughing as she dodges. Allison watches in amusement as they mess with each other.

"Where did you transfer from, Briar?" Allison asks as they walk.

"Hong Kong." Briar replies without missing a beat.

Allison blinks in surprise.

"Whoa, that's-"

"Far away?" Briar suggests, watching how everyone is staring at the three of them.

Allison nods mutely.

"Someone want to tell me why the new girls are here all of five minutes and they're already hanging with Lydia's clique?"

Briar turns and spots Scott and Stiles gossiping together.

"Because they're hot and hot people herd together." Stiles replies with a shrug.

"How nice to know we appeal to the opposite gender, right Allison?" Briar drawls.

The boys freeze while Lydia smirks and Allison blushes. Briar takes a pic of their faces (so worth it!) and pockets her phone.

"Lydia, what're you doing after school?" Briar asks, feeling the length of the day getting to her.

Lydia fluffs her hair.

"Going to watch the try-outs for lacrosse, of course! Our team has won the Championship three years in a row!"

Briar blinks and tilts her head.

"What's lacrosse again?"

Lydia stares at her, scandalized.

"How are you my cousin and yet don't know about lacrosse?!"

Briar rolls her eyes.

"Sorry Lydia but we focus on badminton, table tennis, soccer and basketball in Hong Kong. Though we watch rugby." She muses thoughtfully.

Lydia rolls her eyes.

"Well, lacrosse is where it's at so pay attention!"

Briar and Allison listen in amusement to the rendition and basic outline of rules in lacrosse as they walk to the field.

"… Can girls play?" Briar asks, intrigued.

Lydia blinks.

"We only have a boys' team."

Briar rolls her eyes.

"I'm going to go ask." She says, leaving Allison and Lydia on the bleachers.

The coach is a very active and spastic person, blowing his whistle as he orders players on and off the field.

"Excuse me?" Briar interrupts his rant at another player.

He turns and looks her over.

"Who are you?"

"Briar MacLaren, Coach. I am a transfer student. I was wondering if I could potentially try out for your lacrosse team."

He blinks and looks her over.

"Well, you're not playing in a skirt."

Briar nods her understanding.

"I have other clothes, Coach."

He stares at her and sighs.

"Sure, why not, we have extra gear. No favoritism. If you pass, you pass and are on the team. Do great and you're first string! Suck and you're gone!"

Briar smiles at him.

"I better get changed then."

He waves her off and focuses on the other players. Briar finds the girls' locker room and swiftly changes into worn leggings, a sports bra and long sleeve t-shirt. She switches her boots for tennis shoes and walks out to present herself to Coach Finstock. He eyes her and then points to the pile of lacrosse sticks and gear.

"Try to find something that fits- you'll get body-slammed a lot in this game." He warns her.

Briar looks through the equipment and finds a set that is small enough for her uses, then grabs a lacrosse stick. She goes and joins the other players, much to their discomfort.

"Coach! Why is a girl on the field?" One of them yells out.

"She's trying out!" He bellows.

The guys gape at him.

"But what if we hurt her? Won't we get into trouble?"

Briar sighs.

"No, you won't since I asked to do this. If it's easier for you, pretend I'm a guy." She tells them, putting on her helmet.

"McCall! You're up!" Finstock yells at Scott.

She shifts her attention to Scott and watches as he gets hit in the face with the ball. He shrugs it off and guards the goal, getting into a groove fairly quickly.

Judging by the other's reactions, Scott is doing very well, especially when he catches a very fast ball. Finstock goes wild when he sees that. Jackson glares at Scott while Stiles and Allison cheer him on. Scott waves back awkwardly to Allison and high-fives Stiles before sitting down.

Then it was Briar's turn.

"MacLarpy!"

"MacLaren, Coach." Briar corrects him patiently.

"Your test is to get the ball from here into the goal- anything goes except death!"

"Coach, that's not exactly right." Another player speaks up, a nice-looking boy with short brown hair and a sweet smile.

Coach glares at him.

"Don't interrupt me, Danny!"

Danny shrugs and mouths 'I'm sorry' to Briar. She nods at him then collects the ball, eyeing the way the defenders are lined up. She charges and the first defender goes to slap her stick away- she whips it from the left side of her body to the right as she side-steps him, protecting the ball. Briar keeps moving, using quick feints and side steps to evade her opponents.

This is fun!

Distracted, she almost misses seeing the other player rush her. Briar instinctively plants one hand on his helmet and leaps over him, tucking and rolling as she lands. She checks to see if the ball is still in her lacrosse stick- yup, it's still there. Determined, Briar runs for the goal, easily out-stripping the other players with sheer speed.

Once she gets close enough she whips her lacrosse stick to throw the ball. The goalie's eyes widen as he tries to block her throw, but she fakes him out and flicks it into the lower left corner instead of the upper right. Lydia cheers from the stands and Finstock yells something excitedly. Briar steps to the side, unsure of what she needs to do now.

"MacLarpen! What the hell was that?!"

Briar blinks at him.

"MacLaren, sir. I threw it into the goal."

"You did! And you know what that means?!"

"No sir."

He grabs her shoulders.

"You're on the team! Do another run just to make sure it's not a fluke though, okay?"

Briar nods and returns to her starting position.

"Stilinski! Whitmore! McCall! You're defending! You ready, MacLarky?!"

She makes a thumbs up at him and he blows the whistle, Scott wincing. Briar takes advantage, rushing him. His head comes up and his eyes widen comically as she quickly covers the distance between them. Jackson charges in, trying to trap her between Scott and himself. Briar smiles.

Perfect!

She suddenly pivots and changes direction, heading for Stiles and leaving Jackson running full speed at Scott. The two boys have to scramble to avoid slamming into each other while Briar only has to deal with Stiles now. Stiles valiantly tries to smack her lacrosse stick but Briar is having none of that.

She moves her stick at the last second, drawing him to put most of his weight on his left leg while she darts past him on the right. Briar bares her teeth in a fierce grin then she notices Scott and Jackson are right on her ass!

Grimly she picks up the pace into a full sprint, barely staying ahead of them and slamming the ball into the goal. Finstock blows the whistle excitedly.

"MacLarpy! You're in! That was fantastic! Make sure to get proper gear before the first game! You'll stay on the bench the first few games until you learn the rules, got it?!"

Briar nods.

"Yes sir. It's MacLaren sir." Then she glances at her fellow teammates and bows slightly to them.

"Thank you for playing with me. It was educational."

Jackson stares at her coldly while Stiles and Scott blush and look adorably bashful. Briar goes to the bleachers and Lydia is waiting for her, tapping her foot impatiently.

"I had no idea you could move like that."

Briar rolls her eyes.

"There is a lot you don't know about me, Lydia."

Lydia gives her an up-down glance.

"Clearly. We should talk about that- get to know each other."

"After I get cleaned up and I'm cleared to go- I also need to find out where to get lacrosse gear." Briar reminds her, heading for the girls' locker room.

Lydia and Allison trail her, chatting while Briar does a quick shower and pulls on her nice outfit. Briar grabs her things and walks with Lydia to her car. Allison breaks off, explaining she was getting a ride from her dad. Silence falls between Briar and Lydia as they drive home.

"How could you move like that? You were dodging the other players so easily…" Lydia prods, pausing at a light.

Shit! I can't tell her that I spent the last year and half fighting demons and being trained by the God of Martial Arts! Augh, what can I say-! Wait, I can still say I learned martial arts- I started learning from Leo, who is actually normal in comparison to everyone else…

"I started to learn wu shu ormartial arts about two, three years ago with Michael. It kept him off the streets and out of gangs, which is the main thing Mom wanted. I went with him because guys were starting to bother me and it was safer to be with my brother. Then I just- it clicked. It felt natural and it's useful and I love it."

Lydia gives Briar a sideways glance, not missing the longing in her voice as she spoke of training in martial arts.

"Then why did you leave? Mom was really surprised when she got the phone call from Aunt Rhonda, asking if you could stay with us."

Briar clenches her hands and forces her body to relax.

"… Did you know that Michael was part of a gang for a while? When he was about twelve?"

Lydia stops the car and stares at her in disbelief.

"Michael? Our Michael? A Triad?!"

Briar nods curtly.

"It was stupid but he was in a rebellious phase and wanted to do something idiotic. He's not with them anymore but they still want him back. The Big Brother of all Big Brothers has a- fetish for underage boys and girls. And no one ever sees them again once he gets his hands on them."

She swallows hard, trying to block out memories of Simon Wong's sickeningly gleeful face.

"He wanted Michael back, but he also wants to punish him for leaving. So he threatened to rape me in front of Michael if he didn't come quietly. That- and other things."

Briar clams up, unwilling to say anymore. Lydia's mind whirls with the implications of that statement.

"So you started learning martial arts to defend yourself, not just for fun…" Lydia muses.

"What about Michael? Did he move too?"

Briar shakes her head.

"Our current boss is our martial arts teacher and the Triad step carefully around him. I had a close call recently and Mom panicked. Michael is safe there. And if it gets really bad-"

Briar takes a deep breathe, making a sour face.

"We can go live with Dad."

Dead silence.

"… I thought you didn't know who your dad is." Lydia says eventually.

Briar grimaces.

"We do now; and I have to agree with Mom. He's an absolute bastard."

Lydia makes an 'uh huh' face, sympathizing. Briar sighs and rubs her face, unbelievably tired.

"Can we go home please?"

Lydia pats Briar's hand and nods.

Briar sighs as she gets up from her cat-nap, yawning. She knows she should try to stay up as late as she can to reset her internal clock, but she just can't find the will power to care. Groaning, Briar grabs black gi pants, a tank top and a warm jacket before walking out the door. She pauses, hesitating then shrugs and grabs her sword, sticking it into a carry bag.

Maybe a few sword katas will wake me up.

She heads for the woods and makes sure her phone is on- unfortunately, talking in someone's head is a no-no unless it's an emergency. As Briar walks, she notes the differences from last night. The woods seem more open and welcoming than they do after dark. As she enjoys the peaceful feeling, it's broken by Stiles and Scott nearly stumbling into her.

"Wah!" The boys scream as Briar nearly kicks Stiles' head off reflexively.

She stops right before her foot would have made contact with his temple and she places her foot back down on the ground. Her glare is fierce enough to make both boys step back.

"Have your parents not taught you it's unsafe to startle people?" She snaps, pissed she had let her guard drop.

"N-No, but I don't think they were expecting a freaking ninja lady to nearly decapitate me with a kick!" Stiles retorts.

"I. Am. NOT. A. Ninja." She enunciates very slowly and crisply, her temper starting to boil.

"Ninjas are dishonorable cowards that refuse to face an opponent face to face, preferring to kill them with tricks and deceit. I will be very angry if you call me that again."

Stiles and Scott pale. Satisfied they would behave, Briar sighs.

"What are you two doing out here?"

"Looking for my inhaler." Scott replies.

Huh. He must have dropped it last night.

Scott eyes her.

"What are you doing out here?"

Briar smiles at him.

"Practice."

Stiles and Scott blink.

"Practice?"

Briar nods firmly.

"Practice."

"Practicing what?" Stiles demands, peeking out from behind Scott.

Briar shrugs and looks Scott dead in the eye.

"Defending helpless teenage boys from not-wolves-but-totally-is-despite-what-statistics-say." She says sweetly.

Scott flushes and Stiles opens and closes his mouth a few times.

"So, you're looking for an inhaler?" Briar breezily changes the topic.

They blink and refocus, looking around. Briar heads straight for where she remembers seeing Scott the first time. She pauses, feeling someone staring at her. Briar turns slowly, the boys oblivious to her tension as she tries to pinpoint where this feeling is coming from. A flash of green catches her attention and she spots a tall man with dark hair and green eyes watching them. She reflexively checks to see if he's a demon.

Not a demon… But is he normal? Hard to say. Best to be polite.

Briar nods to him in greeting.

His eyebrows quirk upwards. Briar frowns when he fails to return the greeting.

"What are you doing here? This is private property." He growls, scowling.

Briar's frown turns into a scowl of her own.

"I dropped my inhaler here last night," Scott explains.

The stranger's eyes flicker with emotion, too quickly for Briar to understand. He wordlessly pulls out something from his pocket and tosses it to Scott. She notes the heightened reflexes and eases into a neutral stance- if he attacks, she is at least prepared. Stiles and Scott retreat moving away when the man calls out to them.

"What's your name?"

"Scott. Scott McCall." He replies before continuing on, only to pause when he sees Briar hasn't moved.

"Briar?" He asks her, uncertainty showing in his voice.

"I'll see you later, boys. I still have to practice." She tells them, keeping her eyes on the stranger.

"We're not helpless!" Stiles protests loudly.

Briar rolls her eyes at him. The stranger tilts his head, a cold glint coming into his eyes. She deliberately steps between him and the boys, gently ushering them along.

"Go home."

"But-!"

"Go." Briar cuts Stiles off firmly.

Scott turns and gives her a determined stare.

"We're not leaving you alone with him!"

Briar snorts. Loudly. The idea of Scott and Stiles trying to protect her is too funny.

"I'll be fine- besides, if the Big Bad Wolf didn't eat me, what makes you think he will?" Briar asks, patting Scott on the shoulder.

Unbeknownst to her, the stranger stiffens at her casual nickname. Stiles and Scott grumble but move along, glancing back at her frequently. She waves at them and waits until they're out of sight before fully facing the stranger.

"What did you mean by 'Big Bad Wolf'?" His low voice breaks the silence between them.

Briar smiles slightly.

"You tell me, mister-?"

"Answer the question." Briar keeps ahold of her smile- barely.

"Honey gathers more flies than vinegar."

He blinks in surprise at her reply.

"What?"

"Honey gathers more flies than vinegar." She enunciates each word very clearly.

His face grows more confused- it was actually rather cute, if she weren't pissed at him.

"What the hell does that mean?" He snaps.

Briar smirks at him.

"A way to interpret 'honey gathers more flies than vinegar' is manners gather more information than rudeness. You have so many questions- yet you can't even answer one in return…" She muses, deliberately provoking him.

His jaw clenches when he starts to understand what she is getting at.

"Derek." His voice is tight with anger.

Briar nods in greeting.

"Hello, Derek. My name is Briar. Are you a local?"

He looks away from her.

"Not anymore."

Briar purses her lips and lets it go; there's a story there, but she is not going to delve into those depths.

At least, not today.

"I'm new to America, so I am not familiar with the local animals. But what I saw last night… was rather large for a mere animal." She admits to him, keeping an easy distance between them.

His gaze sharpens and he steps toward her, in what he probably thinks is a menacing style. Briar tilts her head back, unimpressed by his posturing.

"And what animal was it?"

She smiles at him.

"I already told you. A big." She steps forward, getting into his space.

"Bad." Another step.

"Wolf." She breathes, making him lean away.

"But you already knew that." Briar remarks, stepping away from him with a smirk.

His eyes widen then his face becomes expressionless.

"I have no idea what you're talking about."

Briar tsks him, wagging a finger.

"You'll have to lie better than that~!" She reprimands him.

His eyes flash and he blurs, grabbing her upper arm. Briar immediately steps to be parallel to his grip, twists her arm free and springs a full twenty feet away. She lands lightly, smiling at his stunned expression which transforms into a hard mask.

"What are you?" He growls, his eyes flashing ice blue.

Briar tilts her head, intrigued.

"… Your eyes are blue, the beast's eyes were crimson." She murmurs, thinking aloud.

Derek starts to stalk towards her, clearly done with talking. Briar sighs and pulls Dark Tiger out of its carry bag, not drawing it but ready to. He pauses at the sight of the sheathed sword, eyes flickering over her face before twisting in a snarl.

"Hunter!"

Briar blinks.

"Eh?"

Before she can utter another word, he charges her and attacks, slashing at her. She immediately twists out of the way, slapping his claws away from her. Her confusion turns to annoyance.

"Alright you bái mù! You want some, shǎ zi, come and get some!" She snarls back, shifting her grip on the sword sheath.

Derek needs little prompting, punching her face. Briar snaps her head out of the way, thrusting her sword between his legs and twisting, taking his balance. He staggers and Briar slams a kick into his solar plexus, knocking him back. Grimly she gets in close and starts targeting nerve centers in his arms and shoulders. Derek roars and head-butts her, cracking her skull.

Briar instinctively blocks the next blow with Dark Tiger and thrusts, forcing Derek to retreat. She blinks to clear her eyes and barely dodges Derek's charge in time. Swearing profusely, Briar strikes one of his knees as she pivots, his leg crumpling. She steps behind him and gets him into a choke hold, cutting off his air.

Derek smashes his elbow into her ribs, making her wince but squeeze even tighter. Then, clearly done pretending normalcy, his fingernails turn into claws and tear into her forearm. Briar let's out a strangled scream, furious!

"Qù sǐ! Cào nǐ zǔzōng shíbā dài!" She roars, smashing her foot down on his knee with a distinct 'crack'.

Derek thrashes and rips her arm open harder, weakening her grip. Briar takes a chance and strikes his head with an elbow, trying to knock him unconscious. No dice. He throws his weight forward and Briar lets him drop, leaping away from him. He stands painfully, rubbing his throat and glaring at her thoughtfully. Briar glares back with interest, keeping her injured arm close to her side. His eyes flicker down to her arm and he seems briefly remorseful before going back to studying her.

"What are you? You don't smell human."

"Ha! I'm half human, thank you very much! And I could ask the same of you, chǔn lǘ!" Briar spits, keeping her injured side away from him. "Especially since you're not a demon or a Shen!"

His face betrays surprise before smoothing out.

"Shen? Is that what you are? What do you mean exactly by 'demon' and 'Shen'?"

Cào! Way to go, Briar!

"Like I would tell the shǎ zi that tried to kill me!" She snaps, feeling light-headed.

Blood oozes down her arm and she takes a chance, ripping the jacket sleeve off and binding a rough bandage around the wound.

"You're not healing."

Briar glances up and sees Derek's intense interest locked on her arm.

"Not right this second it won't!" She huffs, annoyed with the entire situation.

Derek walks over warily, barely limping. Her eyes narrow.

"I broke your knee so how are you walking on it?" She asks bluntly.

"…" He seems to struggle with himself.

Briar rolls her eyes.

"Silent stoic type, huh? How about this- I point you in the right direction for what I am and you do the same for me, since I know zip about Western mythology."

He gives her an incredulous stare.

"… Where the hell did you come from?"

"Hong Kong." She replies without missing a beat.

"…"

"…"

"That explains your choice of swear words."

"Mhm." Briar agrees cheerfully.

"…"

"…"

They stare at each other awkwardly.

"You first." Derek orders, crossing his arms.

Briar waggles a finger at him, shaking her head.

"Nope~ you first!"

He glowers. Briar laughs outright at his expression.

"… What do you think the Big Bad Wolf is based off of?" Derek finally replies.

Briar blinks, tilting her head.

"A… Wolf?" She hazards a guess, frowning.

Derek rolls his eyes.

"My turn- what are you?"

Briar sighs.

"You are so impatient!"

He glares at her.

"What beast embodies the West wind?" Briar asks, leaning against a tree.

He blinks.

Hah! I'm not the only one in the dark! Enjoy, sucker!

Briar smirks and slips Dark Tiger back into its bag.

"Zài jiàn, Derek." She turns to go, only for him to block her way.

"What does the west wind have to do with anything?" He demands, getting in her space.

Briar glares up at him then bares her teeth in a terrifying smile.

"More than you know." She brushes past him and walks away, ignoring his stare.

Lydia glances at Briar's arm and gives her a disbelieving look.

"You fell."

"I fell." Briar agrees, opening her locker with a wince.

She was tired and Leo's lecture about safety made her wish she hadn't video called him last night for instructions on how to stitch herself back together. It had gotten worse of course when Emma heard her voice and walked in as Briar started sewing herself up. Then shit had hit the fan.

So, lucky her, Briar got to sit through four lectures! One each from Leo, Emma, Michael and Mr. Chen about lying low and not aggravating unknown supernatural creatures. Hypocrites. Then Mr. Chen laid down the law, ordering her to attend school and not to get into fights unless strictly necessary. Especially with Derek Hale and the red-eyed wolf beast thing.

Sighing, Briar rubs her eyes and yawns as she enters her next class, Chemistry. Mr. Harris is a stern taskmaster, but with Lydia as her lab partner Briar got through it, despite moments of confusion over various chemical names.

"So, you will be helping me set up the house for tonight's party, right?" Lydia questions her as they walk towards lacrosse practice.

Briar nods.

"Of course- why wouldn't I help? Oh, that reminds me, I have gifts for you, Aunt and Uncle."

Lydia smiles at her.

"Excellent! I can hardly wait! Now, go be a wonderful addition to our lacrosse team!"

Briar smiles wanly and goes to the girls' locker room to change; Lydia had known a shocking amount about where to buy lacrosse gear. Must be a side-effect of being the girlfriend of the captain. As she steps out onto the field, Coach gestures for her to come over.

"MacLacksy!"

"MacLaren, sir."

Briar corrects him politely. He points his finger at her and Briar's eyes widen at his bad manners.

"Whatever, you're sitting on the bench and observing today!" He orders.

Briar opens her mouth, hesitates and nods.

"Yes sir." She makes her way over to the bench and sits.

This might be a blessing in disguise- but doesn't he know pointing is bad luck? She muses, propping her chin on her lacrosse stick.

Stiles sits down next to her, trying and failing to look casual. Briar glances at him and turns her attention back to the field.

"You okay?" Briar blinks at the question seemingly out of the blue.

"Yes, just tired. I video called my brother last night and stayed up too late chatting. Nothing some sleep cannot fix."

Stiles blinks at her.

"You have a brother? Why isn't he here with you? Is your family separated?"

Briar suppresses a groan.

"Yes I have a brother, he's my twin, Michael. No we're not separated, Mom just wanted me to spend time here in America. Why he's not here isn't your business." She firmly closes the subject, not wanting to talk about it.

Stiles frowns at her- it's rather adorable. Briar ignores him and watches Scott do some rather fancy moves, even doing a flip to score a goal! Everyone goes wild while Briar watches in confusion.

He got it in the goal, so that was good, but was he really that great?

She decides to interrogate Lydia later- her boyfriend is the captain so of course she should know if that was a good play or not. Briar notices Jackson is getting irritated and frowns.

Is he jealous of Scott? Eh, not my problem. She dismisses, wincing when Stiles yells in her ear.

After practice, Briar pulls on her blue long-sleeve shirt and white leather jacket, making sure the bandages are well hidden.

Maybe I should take a first aid class… Leo's not always around to give medical advice.

"Hey, Lydia?"

"Hmm?" The strawberry blond glances at her as they drive home.

"Do you know where I can sign up for First Aid classes?"

Lydia blinks and taps the steering wheel in thought.

"The hospital might be a good place to start, or the school nurse. Why do you ask?"

Briar smiles and mixes fact with fiction.

"One of my sifu mentioned that First Aid is always a good thing to know, even if you never have to use it. He recommended I learn it since he wasn't around to wrap any sprains I get. Also, I like being able to rely on myself rather than wait for someone to tell me what to do."

Lydia hums and nods.

"You ready for the party?"

Briar rolls her eyes.

"Girl, I was born ready for parties!" She grins at Lydia.

"Let's make this a smashing success, alright?" Briar laughs.

"Of course~!" She grins.

Briar leans against a wall, people watching. She can't help but reflect on how the vibe is different from the clubs she used to frequent. It's not a bad change, mind you- just… different. Sighing, she pulls the long sleeve down and resists the urge to scratch- the damn gashes are incredibly itchy. Scanning the crowd she spots Lydia making out with Jackson.

Rolling her eyes, she mingles, casually scanning and checking for demons.

None- is it because I am outside of China? Briar wonders, bemused.

Then an utterly rude person bumps into her and keeps going without apologizing! Her eyes snap up and track the asshole, looking for a suitable place to ambush them. She spots them near the pool. Smiling, Briar silently paces behind them and taps them on the shoulder. The a-hole spins and- it's Stiles.

Of course it's Stiles.

Her grin widens.

"Hi, Stiles."

He blinks and falters, opening and closing his mouth like a fish.

"Uh, hi, Briar! Nice party, really something, gosh it's hot in here isn't it?! I better go find some air!" he turns to flee, but Briar isn't inclined to let him escape so easily.

"Oh? But we're already outside, Stiles~" She purrs, swaying closer.

He gulps and frantically looks around.

"Oh, we are? How did I miss that, ah ha ha ha ha… Look, it's been scary, I mean great talking to you, but I need to go!"

AS he spins to go, Briar grabs his arm and puts it in a casual arm lock, effectively restraining him.

"Not until we have had a talk about proper manners, Stiles~" She whispers in his ear.

"S-say what? I don't have time for this!" He panics, trying to yank himself out of her grip.

"My, in such a rush? You could hurt someone, Stiles. You certainly were rude earlier, bumping into me and leaving without giving an apology." Briar murmurs, twisting a notch further.

Not enough to bring him to his knees, but close enough. Stiles whimpers.

"Remember, manners are important. Nice chatting with you~!" Briar says breezily, releasing him and wandering through the crowd.

She spots Scott and Allison almost-but-not-quite-making-out on the dance floor. With a sigh, she continues wandering until she notices a tall figure in a dark leather jacket. Briar's eyes narrow.

Derek. Why are you here?

She tilts her head, observing him- he seems to be staring at someone specific on the dance floor. Her eyes flicker, calculating angles before she realizes he is staring at Scott like a predator. Waiting for a moment of weakness before pouncing. Briar stalks forward, allowing her temper to simmer to a boil as she closes in on Derek.

He doesn't see her until she steps right in his line of sight, startling him. His eyes narrow.

"Good evening, Derek. I do not believe you were invited to this event- care to explain to me why you are here?"

"Not your business." Briar's smile sharpens.

Bad move.

"Oh, but it is since my cousin is hosting this event. Unfortunately for you, I take my responsibilities very seriously, especially if I think our guests might be in danger."

His gaze heats with anger at her insinuation that he might hurt one of the teenagers partying.

"So. I will ask again." Briar steps close, getting into his personal space.

"Why. Are. You. Here?"

Derek locks eyes with her and it becomes a battle of wills. But while Derek had brooding to give him an edge, Briar was used to facing down Triads, demons, her father and random Shen trying to marry her. Honestly, it's embarrassing how goddamn annoying her 'suitors' could be. It ends with Derek looking away first and sighing heavily.

"I'm worried."

Briar juts her hip out and crosses her arms loosely, wincing as the move pulls her stitches.

"About?" She demands softly.

His eyes flicker to her arm and then back to her face. Briar scowls at him.

"How's the arm?"

She scoffs.

"If you thought that would distract me, you're wrong; I give you 2 out of 10. Now, who are you creepily watching and worrying over?"

He grimaces.

"You're not going to let this go, are you?"

Briar smiles at him, showing her teeth.

"Why would I answer a question you already know the answer to?"

He snorts.

"… Perhaps I was hoping you would let this go."

Briar's expression turns sad.

"I can't." She tells him simply.

"I've seen what happens when people don't care."

Derek eyes her appraisingly before making a snap decision.

"McCall."

Briar tilts her head at the confirmation of her earlier observation.

"Why him?"

"He's a danger to himself- and others."

"… Does it have something to do with how he's faster than average?" Briar says after a pause.

Derek stays quiet.

"… You are very bad at answering questions." Briar accuses.

Derek opens his mouth to retort when a sudden shout catches their attention; they spin and spot Scott running away into the night. Allison stands in the middle of the dance floor, bewildered. Derek watches Scott leaving with an inscrutable expression before moving towards Allison. Briar falls in step with him, her instincts screaming at her to keep him away from the other girl.

"Hey there," Derek says with a charming smile- a false one, Briar notes.

Allison blinks at Derek's abrupt greeting and (awful) warm smile. Rolling her eyes, Briar steps in.

"Hi Allison, this is Derek- don't mind him he's a shǎ zi," Briar introduces them blandly.

Derek shoots her a glare but Briar doesn't back down. Allison raises her eyebrows at the pair of them before Derek speaks again.

"Yeah, I'm a friend of Scott's- he's not feeling well and wanted to make sure you got home safely, so I'm here to offer a ride." Allison hesitates, much to Briar's approval.

"Don't worry, I'm riding along. Besides, I want to see your house!" She cuts in, taking pleasure in the flash of anger in Derek's eyes.

Allison smiles tentatively at her and nods.

"I would appreciate the ride, thank you."

As Allison gathers her things, Briar remembers something and grins.

"Oh, Allison, I'll be right back, don't leave without me!" She orders then rushes upstairs to her room.

After frantic searching she finds a small statue carved of jade. Her hands touch it reverently before she places it in a silk bag and bounds downstairs, deftly avoiding the hormonal and drunk teens. Allison and Derek wait by a Camaro, one impatiently while the other seems unnerved. Briar smiles at both of them as she saunters up.

"Sorry for the wait~! Shall we?" Briar chirps as she opens one of the rear doors.

Allison smiles and slides into shotgun while Derek glares at Briar grumpily before getting into the driver's seat. During the drive, Briar relaxes, noting that Americans are far politer at driving than anyone she's seen in Hong Kong. Eventually they pull up to a respectable house and Briar slips out, opening the door for Allison.

"I could have gotten that," Allison tells her dryly.

Briar merely laughs.

"Indeed you could." She agrees, chuckling.

Linking arms with the other girl, Briar escorts Allison to her front door. She raps on the door and waits patiently. It opens, revealing a commanding woman with red hair- she rather reminds Briar of her own mother. She blinks, seeing Allison and her eyes flicker over Briar, assessing her.

"Allison? I didn't expect you back so soon."

Allison flushes.

"I know-"

"Who is your friend?" Her mother (Briar can only assume this is Allison's mom) cuts her off.

Show time.

Briar holds out her hand with a charming smile.

"Briar MacLaren, ma'am. I'm one of Allison's friends and Lydia Martin's cousin."

Mrs. Argent raises her eyebrow as she shakes her hand firmly.

"Allison has talked about you- I heard you moved from Hong Kong?"

Briar nods, unfazed.

"My mother thought it would be a good idea for me to spend some time in the States. I rarely get to see my American relatives." She says smoothly.

Truth.

Mrs. Argent purses her lips thoughtfully.

"I see- I hope you take care of Allison for me at school."

Briar nods solemnly.

"Yes ma'am. Also, here is a gift."

Briar pulls out the silk pouch and presents it with both hands. Allison blinks in confusion and Mrs. Argent quirks an eyebrow, accepting it. Undoing the strings, she pulls out a small statue of a serene woman seated on a lotus flower. She glances at Briar questioningly.

"This is Kwan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy," Briar explains.

"She is one of the most revered goddesses in Asia, having been said to have attained enlightenment and guided others on their own paths. As the Goddess of Mercy, she renders aid for those who ask, whether that be wisdom, peace, healing, luck, rest or insight."

Briar gives Mrs. Argent and Allison an honest smile.

"I hope she blesses your home."

Mrs. Argent looks down at the statue and then her daughter.

"Thank you, Briar. It was a lovely gift."

Nodding goodbye, Briar steps back and waves at Allison with a grin.

"Zài jiàn Allison!"

Briar goes back to the Camaro and slides into the shotgun seat, ignoring Derek's curious stare.

"Home please." Briar orders.

Derek growls at her, his eyes turning blue and she snaps around to pin him with her glare.

"I said 'please', so stop acting as if I affronted your personal honor. If you wish for a rematch- ask. But make certain the reason is worth the pain, Derek." Briar snaps.

Silence falls between them until Derek reluctantly starts the car. Briar stays silent as he drives her back to Lydia's, refusing to break the quiet built between them. They pull up and as Briar goes to exit Derek grabs her arm.

"… Stay inside tonight." He orders, eyes flashing again.

Briar is not impressed.

"Why?"

"Just trust me." Derek hisses.

Briar scoffs loudly.

"You have given me little to no reason to trust you!"

In a flash he snarls and his grip on her arm tightens. Done with his dramatics, Briar wrenches his pinky back and targets nerve clusters in his arm. He releases her arm and Briar speedily exits, only to lean through the doorway to glare at him.

"One more thing; I do not take orders from you!" She growls before slamming the door shut.

Her feet stomp loudly as she pushes past party-goers, her temper frayed.

How dare he! How dare he, how dare he, how DARE he! She seethes.

"Briar!" Her head turns towards the voice and she spots Lydia, alone for the first time that night.

"Come and join me!" Her bossy cousin demands.

Briar bites back her instinctive and selfish 'no' and walks over to her. Sighing with frustration, Briar sits while Lydia appraises her.

"What happened to you?" Lydia asks bluntly.

Briar groans inwardly.

"… I had an irritating conversation with a guy about manners." She sums up.

Lydia gives her a disbelieving look. Briar thinks fast and says the first thing that pops to mind.

"Lydia, you know western mythology, right?" Lydia tilts her head, pursing her lips.

"… I do. Why are you asking?"

"This guy set a challenge for me- he asked 'what mythological creature do you think the Big Bad Wolf is based off of?' But I can't figure it out! And the internet failed me miserably!" Briar tells her, pouting.

Lydia snorts and then her face turns thoughtful.

"Well… my guess would be a werewolf." She says finally.

Briar stares at her blankly.

"A what?"

Lydia stares at her in disbelief then amusement.

"A werewolf- a creature influenced by the full moon to transition from man to a wolf or wolf-like hybrid depending on your source. Also one of the most classic horror movie monsters. I take it you don't have those in China?"

"Nope- we have demons, Shen, dragons and a whole bunch of other crazy things." Briar explains, rubbing her arm.

Lydia laughs and let's Briar retreat to her room when she notices how antsy Briar is acting. After closing and locking her door, Briar glances out window and sees the full moon.

"A creature influenced by the full moon."

Lydia's words echo in her head as she stares at the white orb.

"Stay inside tonight."

This time Derek's warning come to mind as she thinks over what she has learned. Then she pulls out her computer and types in 'werewolf' the selects 'images'. Pictures of bipedal wolves, actual wolves or half-wolf/half-human hybrids fill the screen. Briar frowns until she notices an old-looking image of a beast almost exactly like the one she saw her first night.

Her mind whirls at the implications. Intrigued, she starts to research and stops after she reads a specific line.

Werewolves can propagate by biting humans, turning them into werewolves themselves. The human turned will heal any physical problems during transition, becoming stronger, faster and more acute of the senses.

Briar stares blindly at it.

Scott… Scott was bitten by it. And from what Lydia says, he has become more athletic. And didn't he flinch at the Coach's whistle during tryouts?

Cào. Of course my life can't be normal.

Briar glances at the time and makes a decision, picking up her phone and calling Gold.

"Briar? How are you? Is everything alright? Please tell me you didn't get into another fight." Gold asks her when he picks up.

Briar smiles slightly at his voice.

"I'm doing fine- I just had a quick question."

"Go ahead." Gold tells her- she can easily imagen him tapping away on a laptop as he talks.

"Have you ever met a werewolf?"

There is a decided pause on the other end of the line. Briar starts feeling anxious but tries to control it.

"Why do you ask?" Gold says eventually.

Briar sighs.

"I think I might have met at least three in the past week."

"… I am fetching Mr. Chen and Lady Emma. Stay on the line."

Briar blinks.

"Ho ak…." She says tentatively.

The next few minutes she fidgets and tries to relax but she can't help but feel tense: what does Gold know about werewolves and why would it cause such concern? As she stews she starts picturing the worst-case scenario: Xuan Wu ordering her to live in the Western Palace until Simon Wong is dead. Briar clenches her hands and then forces herself to open them.

"You'll deal with it, no matter what, you'll deal with it and survive." Briar tells herself before hearing noise from her phone. She picks it up hurriedly.

"… I don't understand why both of us had to come!"

"Emma, you will be my Regent. If Gold has asked you to attend then it must be pertinent to our duties."

"Oh shut up, John! You just want me to deal with the Generals!" Emma snaps.

Briar muffles a giggle: it is well known that Emma has been avoiding dealing with the Heavenly Generals much to Mr. Chen's annoyance.

"Ahem. Briar, are you still on the line?" Gold interrupts the growing spat.

Briar clears her throat.

"Yes."

"Can you set up a video call on your computer?"

"Yes."

"Then please do so." Gold requests.

"Ho ak."

Briar sets the phone next to her laptop and sends a video call to Gold's computer- he accepts the invite immediately. His face suddenly appears and Briar tries to ignore the twinge of homesickness as she sees Mr. Chen and Emma leaning over his shoulders, looking concerned. She snaps off a salute, left hand fisted and pressed into the palm of her right hand.

"Dark Lord. Dark Lady. Gold."

"Ugh, I wish you all would stop calling me that!" Emma complains.

Gold and Mr. Chen smile at her familiar reply. Briar grins tauntingly at Emma.

"Is there a problem, my Lady?"

Emma glares at her.

"Twenty five level one katas when you fully recover from your injuries." Emma orders with a glare.

Briar conceals her smile

"Ho ak, my Lady."

"Briar. Gold informed me you had something to report," Mr. Chen cuts in.

Briar nods shortly.

"I believe I have encountered at least two werewolves, based on evidence gathered my Lord."

Mr. Chen frowns thoughtfully as Emma looks flabbergasted.

"Werewolves?! Are they real too?!" Emma demands, glaring at Mr. Chen and Gold.

Mr. Chen nods, thinking hard.

"They exist, though I have had little contact with them. I know they can be vicious opponents, rivaling low to mid-tier demons. Bai Hu estimated they can grow powerful enough to kill a Level 50 if they use pack tactics and the Alpha, or leader, is doing a majority of the damage." His eyes narrow thoughtfully.

"What was your impression of them, Briar?"

Her brow furrows with thought as she slowly chooses her words.

"Dangerous physically, but not dangerous tactically speaking. Rather straightforward to fight. They are stubborn, instinct-driven, challenging… Capable of reason." She grumbles the last one reluctantly.

Emma, Gold and Mr. Chen exchange glances before looking at her again.

"Do you feel safe?" Emma questions her, tone gentle.

Briar pushes her hair out of her face, letting them see her exhaustion.

"… Yes. They don't scare me the way One Two Two does: I fought the red-eyed one without Dark Tiger and managed to get away without injuries. The other was skilled but I still could have taken him down."

Emma nods, while Gold and Mr. Chen have a moment where Briar would bet her savings was a private mind-conversation. At Briar's amused smirk, Emma turns and realizes what the two are doing.

"Out loud!" Emma snaps, putting her hands on her hips.

Mr. Chen and Gold look at her sheepishly.

"Sorry Emma."

"Sorry my Lady."

Emma huffs at them, crossing her arms. Mr. Chen turns to look at Briar and his expression becomes serious.

"It has occurred to me that since we know so little, perhaps you should learn what you can about the werewolves. In turn, if they ask, you may discuss what hides here in China at your discretion- but do NOT speak of Simone." His eyes burn into her and Briar gulps before saluting.

"I understand, my Lord."

His expression softens.

"Do your best- we expect weekly updates!" Emma nods next to him, showing her support.

Briar has to laugh at that before nodding back and signing off. Leaning back in her chair, Briar turns her gaze at the moon, wondering how best to broach the topic of 'werewolves' with Scott. Definitely not Derek. No way was she dealing with that asshole again!