VALENCE – Season 2, Episode 9: ‘Tonic’

RELEASE DATE: 05/29/2021

Liam catches himself going through the motions. It’s easy to let time skip when you’re not tuned in.

VALENCE is a serialized fiction podcast meant for adult listeners. You can find more information, including our full cast list and transcripts, at You can support us on Patreon and get access to inspo images, bonus audio, and more.

This season of VALENCE is sponsored by our favorite VPN provider: ProtonVPN. VALENCE is full of precautionary tales about data privacy and keeping your personal information safe from data-collecting companies, and If you haven’t figured that out by now, you sure will soon. And there’s no easier way to protect your information and your magic than by using ProtonVPN. You can get started today with a free account, and help support this show and others, by signing up at

Content warnings:

  • Vague unreality throughout


  • Our theme was made by Travis Reaves,
  • With production by Raul Vega.
  • Additional music provided by Loyalty Freak Music and Kai Engel.
  • VALENCE was created by Wil Williams.
  • VALENCE is edited and sound designed by Wil Williams.
  • VALENCE is directed by Katie Youmans and Anne Baird.
  • VALENCE is produced by Anne Baird.
  • This episode was written by Wil Williams.

Performances by, in order of appearance: 

  • Josh Rubino as Liam and Liam’s Inner Voices,
  • Tina Huang as Michelle Bernadino,
  • Emily VanDerWerff as Hope Alexander,
  • Anne Baird as the MavenMatch ad,
  • Caleb Del Rio as Flynn Velasco,
  • Jordan Cobb as Sarah Harris,
  • Alex Welch as Noel Alden,
  • Mike Schubert as Todd from Accounting,
  • Ishani Kanetkar as Mahira Varma,
  • Katie Chin as Grace Chen,
  • Miracle Fonmanu as Zoe Kafoa,
  • and the return of John Westover as Nico Salvai.


[[A door handle turns and clicks open. Soft wind chimes tinkle.]]

ANNE: Brought to you by Hug House Productions

AD (Anne): This season of VALENCE is sponsored by our favorite VPN provider: ProtonVPN. VALENCE is full of precautionary tales about data privacy and keeping your personal information safe from data-collecting companies, and If you haven’t figured that out by now, you sure will soon. And there’s no easier way to protect your information and your magic than by using ProtonVPN. You can get started today with a free account, and help support this show and others, by signing up at or by following the link in our show notes.

Wil: VALENCE is a serialized fiction podcast with discussions and depictions of struggles with mental health. You can check our show notes, or the transcripts on valencepod dot com for a full list of content warnings and their timestamps. It’s important to take care of yourself — especially here in New Candler.

[[theme music – bright, synthy beat with airy, flowing strings that fade into a brief moment of a darker synth more reminiscent of the sharpness and grime of the Season 1 theme]]

Scene 1

CWs: Vague unreality

Scene 1.1 – Waking up


LIAM’s phone alarm goes off, and Liam rustles in bed.

LIAM: (Sighs)

Liam gets out of bed and turns on a daily news briefing podcast 

MICHELLE BERNADINO: (In the podcast) From the New Candler Times, I’m Michelle Bernadino. This . . . is New Candler Daily. Today, a mysterious blog claims to have the true stories of mages who have been harmed by Halo, Inc. Hope Alexander on her experiences . . . with Richard Alden. It’s . . . Friday. June 5th.

Music ding sting, transition to in-podcast interview

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Still isn’t going to work.

BERNADINO: (In the podcast) Thanks for joining us, Hope.

ALEXANDER: (In the podcast) Thank you for having me on, Michelle.

BERNADINO: (In the podcast) Before we jump into this blog post, let’s back up. In 2018, you tried to write about your experiences in the piece, “What Really Happens in Halo, Inc.’s Product Trials” for SIN.

ALEXANDER: (In the podcast) That’s correct.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Shouldn’t this feel more like things are changing?

BERNADINO: (In the podcast) Tell me about that experience.

More continued getting ready noises

ALEXANDER: (In the podcast) SIN commissioned a piece from me about the experience. When I told them about my suspicions that Halo Inc. had placed a tracker on my computer when I signed up for the testing, they didn’t want to hear it. I gave them documentation of each application that was closed, each website that gave me an error, and how and when those things happened. It didn’t matter. I didn’t really know what to do. I just thought, “Are you listening?”

ALEXANDER: (“To Liam”) Liam, are you listening?

LIAM: (Half in a daze) What?

SFX: Transition to:

Scene 1.2 – Breakfast


LIAM, SARAH, and FLYNN are eating breakfast.

FLYNN: I asked if you were listening.

LIAM: Oh. Apologies, Flynn, I don’t . . .

FLYNN: I was just saying that things are really heating up for the blog. We’ve been talking to Hope, and I think she has a few other press appearances coming up, but it’s, you know. Not too many are biting.

SARAH: [scoff] Old media journalists really have no idea what “viral” means. Hey, Flynn, reminder to charge your crystal tonight.

FLYNN: Oh shit yeah, thank you. This stubble’s getting all weird and patchy anyway.

LIAM: (Still distracted, half a beat too late) That’s great.

FLYNN: You okay?

SARAH: Should we . . .

FLYNN: Yeah, I think–Liam, are you okay? I’m kind of worried. You haven’t really seemed like yourself lately.


LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Do you even have a self? Working for Reilley, doing more for her than you’re doing for your own team. Wearing things you don’t even like. Seeing someone who doesn’t really know you, either. Hardly seeing your real friends.

Keeping this fucking Halo on when you don’t even need to for appearances.

FADE IN: Music Liam is listening to on “Not Spotify” on the train going to work to scaffold that transition for the Maven Match ad

SARAH: Liam? Are you–are you feeling okay?

LIAM: I don’t know.

SFX: Transition to:

Scene 1.3 – Commute


LIAM listens to a Spotify/etc.-esque ad in between songs over headphones on his commute

AD: Then you should try MavenMatch, a new dating app just for Mavens by Halo Inc. MavenMatch is where you can be your most YOU.

LIAM: (Huffs)

AD: MavenMatch is totally free. All you need to sign up is an email address, a phone number, and a picture of you wearing your Halo. MavenMatch is a match made in haven–literally! Not only will MavenMatch get you one step closer to finding your match, it’ll also give you a personalized date spot with guaranteed Haven protection.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Look at all the good your efforts are doing.

AD: You and your match talking about how much you love red curry? MavenMatch’s algorithm will suggest the highest-rated, Haven-secured Thai restaurants nearby.

LIAMS’ OTHER INNER VOICE: Be quiet. We’re doing something. We know we’re doing something. We know who we are. We . . . aren’t just going through the motions, hoping something will feel right.


AD: Probably not, Liam! Why did you ever think it would?

LIAM: (Gasps)

SFX: Transition to:

Scene 1.4 – Work


NOEL: Liam?

LIAM: Y-yes?

NOEL: I just asked if you were ready for your next round of testing and you short circuited for . . . 49 seconds.

LIAM: Ha. Short-circuited.

A beat.

NOEL: You really shouldn’t make jokes like that here.

LIAM: I know, Noel.

NOEL: So–are you ready?

LIAM: For what?

NOEL: Your next round of testing.

LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: Tell her yes. Show her how prepared you are.

LIAM: Aren’t you sick of going through the motions?

NOEL: What?

LIAM: Being someone for everyone else instead of yourself?

NOEL: I–I don’t know what you mean.

LIAM: Aren’t you tired of putting other people’s goals above your own?

NOEL: Liam—

LIAM: You must be. You’ve been doing it for so long. I know you have. We both know you have.

NOEL: You have to stop.

LIAM: I know, Noel. I know.  . . . you should come over for dinner next week.

NOEL: What?

LIAM: Come over for dinner. I can’t cook, but I’ll–I’ll get us something.

NOEL: [instantly tense] We should not be talking about that at work.

LIAM: I know. That’s the point. Come over for dinner.

A beat.

LIAM: Okay. It’s okay. You don’t have to. I just thought—

NOEL: It sounds nice.


NOEL: I’d like to.

LIAM: Okay.

NOEL: Okay. Can–can we go back to talking about the, ah, the–the testing for now?

LIAM: Of course.

NOEL: Thank you. Um, so–so we’ll have the first, the slight that can manipulate up to approximately 2 ounces of water. We have a vial for you to bring him for the purpose of testing, but we’ll still make sure he doesn’t have any other liquids on his person. Then, after that, you’ve got someone who specializes in–ugh, kinetic energy, like me. So. Be watchful.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: It doesn’t matter, and it won’t work. She’s not who you think she is, and she never will be.

NOEL: Do you have any questions?

LIAM: What–what time is it?

SFX: Transition to:

Scene 1.5 – Afternoon


TODD: 4:15, almost quittin’ time! Got any plans for the weekend?

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: This fucking cretin.

LIAM: Um–I don’t think—


LIAM: (Miserably) Oh. I do.

TODD: Uhhhh doesn’t sound too much fun by that tone of voice! What, the Other Alden want to, I dunno, talk about how much she hates puppies while making you watch paint dry?

LIAM: What?

TODD: Haha, just because, you know. Because she’s so, you know! Mean and boring!

LIAM: Excuse me?

TODD: Eyyy, c’mon, you know I’m just messing. What, was there a sudden change of heart?

LIAM: Stop speaking.

TODD: Um, what?

LIAM: Don’t you dare ever speak about my sister like that again, you store brand pre-ground decaf coffee of a human being.

TODD: What the hell, Liam.

LIAM: You’re not funny, Todd, and you never will be. You work here.

TODD: Wow. You work here too, you know. You blaming me for having to pay the bills?

LIAM: You have a trust fund. You have a boat.

TODD: Well, now you might just have a complaint with HR.

LIAM: Oh, is that true?

TODD: It might be. Unless you apologize.

LIAM: Do it. Fucking do it. I would be thrilled.

A long pause.

TODD: (Laughs) Man, Alden, you’re WILD. Your whole family’s this edgy, huh? Gotta love it. I respect it! But for real, what are your plans this weekend? It’s supposed to be so hot this weekend that Amy and I are gonna–hahaha!–we’re gonna go out on the boat! Her family’s got this little cabin out by Lake Tahoe, I’ve got some new Topsiders I wanna break in, I just got this new shirt from Vineyard Vines! So I think we’re gonna take a little weekend adventure.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: So it goes. So it goes.

TODD: Liam, what about you?

LIAM: I’m going out with Zoe.

SFX: Transition to:

Scene 1.6 – Early Evening


FLYNN: It should be fun! We’re hitting up a barcade.

SARAH: They have a cabinet with Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon.

MAHIRA: I thought you two weren’t wild about Zoe.

FLYNN: But we are wild about Sailor Moon.

GRACE: I meant, as in, what plans do you have for work, Liam.

LIAM: Oh. I–I. Well. I’m doing . . .

LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: What were Noel and I even talking about? I wasn’t even paying attention.

LIAM: I . . . oh, I’m, I’m testing on another group next week. One of them . . .

(Sighs) One of them can manipulate small amounts of metal? No, water. And the other–ah, the other is kinetic energy, same as Noel.

GRACE: Great! That should offer up plenty of learning for you.

LIAM: What?

MAHIRA: Yeah, I think we might have to consider that . . .

LIAM: Consider what?

GRACE: Using these tests to get more information on our enemy, Liam, like you’re supposed to.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: She means Noel.


MAHIRA: I know, Liam, but Grace is right. This is a huge opportunity, even if it’s just in case.

LIAM: I just . . . do you all really want me to give up on her like that?

FLYNN: No, Liam.

MAHIRA: It’s not like that. It’s just–we don’t get opportunities like this often.

SARAH: I mean, if nothing else, it’s just a good chance to learn about how magic works, and a good opportunity to connect with a muse who might need it. We can just add them to the list of people to contact at a later date.

GRACE: And isn’t this the entire point of working with them?

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: It should be. It should be.

LIAM: Right. Of course.

GRACE: We need to focus more on action. Mahira, how’s training been going?

MAHIRA: It’s been going well. I think we’ve made a lot of progress. The other night, we practiced deflection, defense, that kind of thing. And being more precise with how he’s using his magic. Getting it to do exactly what he wants, rather than it being a little scattershot and just hoping for the best, y’know? [is gradually overwhelmed by Liam’s Inner Voice]

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: And that’s what you need to be focusing on. Does it matter that you don’t feel yourself? Does it matter that you don’t even know what your goals are or should be? No. It doesn’t. You just need to do what you’re told. They know better than you do. You need to follow the plan.

MAHIRA: Liam, did you hear what I said?

LIAM: Hmm?

SFX: Transition to:

Scene 1.7 – Barcade


Glasses clinking, arcade sounds, loud music, muddied chatter in the background

ZOE: (Half-yelling) I said, did you hear what I said?

LIAM: (One-fourth yelling) No.

ZOE: (Half-yelling) I said we should go play air hockey!

LIAM: (One-fourth yelling) I don’t know how.

ZOE: (Half-yelling) Yeah, no, it’s my favorite! It’ll be fun!

LIAM: (Sighs)

(Half-yelling) I’m a bit tired.

ZOE: (Half-yelling) Boo, boring! I’m gonna go find Sarah, I bet I could take her!

LIAM: (Half-yelling) That’s very foolish of you.

ZOE: (Laughs)

(Half-yelling) We’ll see! Listen, if you don’t want to hang around tonight, if you’re not feeling it, that’s totally cool, okay? You can head home whenever.

LIAM: (One-fourth yelling) Thank you.

ZOE: (Half-yelling) Just don’t say I didn’t tell you so when you realize how fun this place is!

LIAM: (One-fourth yelling) Wouldn’t dream of it.

Zoe kisses Liam on the cheek and heads off into the crowd

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Why would you even come here? Do you even care? Why are you even here? You hate this. You should be at home watching a documentary. Or you should be out working. Or you should be out in the city doing something—

Liam’s mark on his wrist glows green and zaps with Nico’s magic. As soon as we hear Nico’s magic, all other sound goes much softer and farther away in the mix.

LIAM: (Gasps)

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: What? But . . .

NICO: (In the background) [Laughs]

Liam gets up and immediately walks to where Nico was. He has to shuffle between people in the crowd.

LIAM: Excuse me. Sorry–excuse me.

Ahead, Nico opens the back door and walks out, closing it behind him.

LIAM: Please. Excuse me.

Liam keeps walking, navigating through people, until he finally gets to the door and opens it. He walks out and closes it behind himself.

In the alley behind the bar, Nico lights a joint with a spark of magic.

NICO: Hey, Vamps.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: It’s actually him.

LIAM: What are you doing here?

NICO: Eh. Got sick of it.

Liam walks over to Nico and kisses him.

NICO: Aren’t you here with someone?

LIAM: I don’t care.

Liam shifts them back to the apartment.

Scene 2

CWs: General romantic conflict, suicidal ideation/planning


LIAM turns over in bed to look at NICO, who doesn’t turn to face him back.

NICO: [uncharacteristically subdued] So. You’re wearing colors now.

LIAM: And you’re not.

NICO: Would if I had the chance more often.

LIAM: I don’t–I don’t know what that means.

NICO: Yeah. I know, Liam.

LIAM: What–what is this?

NICO: (Sighs) Do we have to do this now? Can we not wait until morning?

LIAM: Who’s to say you won’t have left by then?

NICO: Oof. Well, you got me there, Vamps. Can we move on to some different, less depressing thing, and then circle back to this question?

LIAM: That isn’t incredibly comforting.

NICO: [Sincerely] Yeah. I know. I’m trying here, okay?

LIAM: Okay.

Nico turns to face Liam.

NICO: Well. Ask away, I guess.

LIAM: Why did you leave?

NICO: Because it all scared the shit out of me.

I felt like shit for coming into your life, fucking it up, getting all, like, tangled, and then almost dying all the time. Shit started getting really real in a way that I’m not used to, which was–it wasn’t a bad thing. But, then my dad died, and then like half of the people I worked with were on my ass, and all of the people I worked against were on my ass. It just seemed fucked up to let things get real and then get myself murdered–and letting it get real stressed me the fuck out for, like, a million reasons.

I don’t know how to do any of this. I don’t know how to give a shit about people without bailing. I don’t know how to relationship. I don’t know how to–I don’t know how to think that things might get better for real. I can’t get my hopes up for shit like that.

LIAM: I wish you would have left me some choice in the matter. I wish you would have told me about it. You know I’m not good at any of it either.

NICO: Yeah, sure, Vamps. I’d just tell you all of this out loud with words, and it’d go great for me, and you’d just let me walk away.

LIAM: No. I wouldn’t have.

NICO: I–I know it was shitty. I know. I know.

LIAM: So . . . why did you come back?

NICO: [Slowly going back to an insincere voice] I told you. I got sick of it.

LIAM: That’s nothing.

NICO: Next question.

LIAM: What have you been doing these last few months?

NICO: Ugh. Next question, next question!

LIAM: Nico.

NICO: (Sighs) Um. Running, mostly? Trying not to get the shit kicked out of me?

LIAM: Because of—

NICO: Yes, Vamps, because of crime. [scoff] They figured out how to–how to, like, tap into the mark dear old dad put on me. I thought it was dead like him, but apparently it’s–it’s older magic than that. And someone figured out how to tap into it to try to hunt me down.

LIAM: Jesus. Is it–is it still—

NICO: Oh, yup.

LIAM: So, they could just . . . be here at any moment.

NICO: Yup.

LIAM: So I was right. You weren’t planning on staying until morning.

NICO: That‘s what you care about?

LIAM: I care about all of it. But of course I care about that.

NICO: So who’s the girl?

LIAM: What? Oh–um, Zoe. Her–her name is Zoe.

NICO: She’s cute. She nice? She looks nice. 


NICO: Nah, don’t. I’ve been gone for months. You’d be a dummy not to find someone else. Besides, I don’t care. I mean, I do, but not–like–you know I don’t give a shit about monogamy. And even if I did, uh, I was gone.

LIAM: I mean, I–I’m going to have to break up with her.

NICO: Nah, you shouldn’t do that.

LIAM: Even if this hadn’t happened, I still would have had to eventually. She is nice. She just–she just doesn’t really understand me. And I don’t think I really understand her.

A beat.

NICO: You know I’m never gonna be like her, right? Like, even if–even if I didn’t come here planning to, to bail. You know I’m never going to be that person.  It’s not how I’m built, and I’m fine with that. If you’re fine with that too, then–well, no, just, just forget it. The point is, she seems cool, and I know she’s into you, so just give a shit about her.

LIAM: I don’t want you to be that person. I just want you to be you.

NICO: You need to deal with the fact that I’m not staying because I am a fuckup. Got it? Me leaving again has nothing to do with you, or anyone else but me, and this time, I’m leaving for good. I just wanted to come say peace out or whatever. I’m leaving again, and you will not hear from me again, and you just need to accept the fact that that’s a good thing.

LIAM: I don’t actually think I believe you.

NICO: What?

LIAM: I don’t think I believe you. This is the second time you’ve tried to up and leave forever, and I don’t think it’s going to work this time, either.

NICO: Ha. Trust me, Vamps. This time, it’s a forever thing.

LIAM: No, I don’t buy it. I really–huh!–I don’t buy that you don’t care about me—

NICO: Hey, I never said that.

LIAM: –or whatever we are. I don’t believe you.

NICO: Liam, I didn’t say that. You know I give a shit about you. Right? You know that?

A beat.

NICO: Look at me. I give a shit about you.

LIAM: Okay. Yeah, I–I know that. Yes. Then why are you so certain this is final?

A beat.

LIAM: Hey. Nico. Why won’t you look me in the eye?

NICO: Vamps . . .

LIAM: Don’t “Vamps” me right now.

A beat.

LIAM: Oh–oh my god. No. You can’t be serious. You think you’re just going to turn yourself in.

NICO: Not the time for funnies, Va–Liam. Or maybe it is. Maybe it super, especially is.

LIAM: Oh, I think it’s plenty funny.

NICO: You’re not the only one who’s sick of everything every day. You don’t own wanting shit to just stop.

LIAM: No, I know that. And I know you’re right there with me most days. But–turn yourself in? To whompst? The cops?

NICO: Ew, no, what the fuck! To–to someone else.

LIAM: Where’s the style!

NICO: Well come on, it’d be–I’d go out with a bang for sure, get real fuckin–hahahaha, fuck, get–get real fuckin YOLO—

LIAM: Oh my god.

NICO: REALLY test the limits of that one. Hey Vamps, has anyone ever done a science on YOLO, you think? I know you love exactly this kind of science.

LIAM: (Laughs, but then stops himself) Oh, nu uh. None of that. So really, this was your plan? And you think you’re actually going to go through with it? And you thought that coming here for, what, a–Christ–a YOLO fuck before you–before you “peace out forever”? Oh my god, Nico. And what did you think was gonna happen? You thought you were gonna walk away thinking, “Huh, yep, I’m cool to die now that I’ve proven to myself a person I give a shit about is willing to drop everything, including the date they came here with, to see me? Ha ha ha I’m Nico and I think the way to make myself care less about living is to It’s a Wonderful Life myself!”

NICO: . . . I mean—

LIAM: You dummy. You’re a goddamn dunce. (Laughs)

NICO: (Laughs begrudgingly) Listen, it was a–it was a solid plan.

If I stay, you’re going to have to figure out how to explain this to the others. They’re gonna be pissed.

LIAM: That’s not important to me right now.

NICO: And I was never a good boyfriend. I mean, c’mon. That’s no secret. And we both know I’m not ever going to be.

LIAM: Oh, “boyfriend,” huh?

NICO: You’ll just be sad and exhausted and annoyed all the time. I’m really annoying, Liam.

LIAM: Nico. Shut up. Just–just shut the fuck up. Alright? Just fucking shut up. I love you but just–

NICO: [spluttering, Not Comfy With This] Wha–

LIAM: [barreling ahead, ignoring Nico’s interruption] –just shut up. We’ve been through all of this. I don’t fucking care if we figure this out and you decide you’ve never done anything but hate me and never speak to me again. I mean–no, I do care about that, but frankly, it isn’t important right now. What’s important to me is that we figure this out. Stop trying to find ways to make me want you to be dead, or stop caring, or something. It isn’t going to happen. You’re wasting our time. Because clearly, you don’t actually want to follow through with your plan, and clearly, I’m not going to let you.

NICO: Ugh, yeah. You’re right, you’re right. UGH. YUCK. I fucking hate that I just said that out loud. Fuck you for giving a shit about me. Fuck this. This is–this is so stupid.

(Starts laughing)

This is so stupid! God, this is fucking stupid. You fucking dumbass. I’m the dumbass. We’re all the dumbass! God. Okay! Okay, Vamps. Convince me. I’m–I’m all fucking ears!

(Continues laughing)





So, now that means, how do we get everyone off your back so you can stop having to run and just start working with us in earnest?


Woah woah woah.


Shush, we both know it’s going to happen. Is there a way you can abdicate the . . . uh . . .


I mean, throne isn’t not right.

LIAM: Does–did—

NICO: Yes, he had a big stupid chair at a big stupid desk like a big stupid stereotype.

LIAM: Oh my god. Okay. Well. Okay. Sorry, I can’t—


–I can’t stop thinking about you behind a desk like you were gonna do paperwork oh my god. Okay. OKAY. Okay. So. Do the people who work for you know that you don’t want this?

NICO: Oh, absolutely! They do not want me there either!

LIAM: But you haven’t left.

NICO: I’d need someone to replace me, and nobody can be trusted. There’s like 19 people I could hand everything over to, and choosing any of them would get me killed. And–and probably my sisters. And they didn’t do anything wrong. And their kids sure as hell didn’t.

LIAM: Right. So–why do you have to choose?

NICO: Whaddya mean

LIAM: Why do you have to choose

NICO: Yeah Vamps you can’t just say the same thing with different inflection and expect me to know what you mean when I just said whaddya mean

LIAM: Just make it democratic. Tell them they have to put it to a vote.

NICO: Okay so then a bunch of organized criminals have an election and the election is corrupt because it’s literally criminals who are doing an election and—

LIAM: Why is it your problem?

NICO: Huh?

LIAM: Tell them to elect someone and leave. You’ve done your part. You want to be gone and they want you gone. You tell them to elect someone. Now their problem isn’t you, it’s everyone else. And you’d still probably be able to maintain contacts, right? Because you wouldn’t have left on bad terms necessarily. And we could probably use a ton of those contacts.

NICO: Huh. So then say they come around and wanna off me because I know too much.

LIAM: We give them a different offer. Or we–we fight them off. Or . . . we cross that bridge when we come to it. No, oh my god, we just ask Mahira what to do. And I’ll do the thing I learned from Luis that helps people hide.

NICO: Okay, but that was used against, like, three people when you had it. This is like, ehhh, like 400, 500 people.


NICO: Yeah, Vamps, I’m fucking important!

Shifting in the bed


LIAM: NO–YES–OKAY so, right, so, if they find you anyway, we–you–just say you’re going to give their names to the cops.

NICO: I’m NOT a snitch.

LIAM: But you are a liar.

NICO: Oho. Okay, got me there. But what if they’re like, “Cool, time to shoot you now”?

LIAM: Wait, are you trying to make a plan now?

NICO: Okay, what do they say about all the family money I’ve got? Hmm?

LIAM: You give it back to them.


LIAM: Come on. Do you really like being a rich?

NICO: I mean—

SOAP: [through the door] [belligerent, needy meowing]

NICO: JESUS what IS that

LIAM: Her name is Soap.

NICO: Did you replace me with a cat???

LIAM: I . . . I didn’t not.

NICO: Is that why you dyed your hair? Oh my god, Vamps, you gay. Wait is that why you’re wearing colors now, kind of?!

LIAM: Maybe! I was sad!

NICO: [laughs] You dumbass.

LIAM: Hey, stop getting off topic! I know you know it’s not ethical to be a rich. And I know you care because as much as you seem to associate with people who care about justice, it doesn’t seem like you care much about the impact of your own wealth.

NICO: So, what, giving that money back to a bunch of criminals is the right option?

LIAM: Not all of it. Enough to make sure they won’t kill you. And then we can also work with Sarah and Grace to figure out where the rest of it should go.

NICO: What!

LIAM: So, obviously, to offset the impact of giving criminals money, you’ll give most of it to organizations that help people in need. They’ll figure out some amount for you to keep until you can . . .

NICO: Ha. What, Vamps? Until I can find a job?

LIAM: Hmm. Okay. Maybe that’s a Sarah question. Or Grace question. Listen, someone I know is competent enough to figure it out.

A beat

NICO: You’re really fucking dedicated to this.

LIAM: I am. (Yawns)

NICO: Don’t— (Yawns) Jesus fuck Vamps it’s like a million o’clock and I’ve been awake for, uh . . . um . . . like . . . oh, that’s. That’s a lotta hours, my guy.

LIAM: Did you just call yourself “my guy”?

NICO: Who fuckin knows?

LIAM: If we fall asleep, are you gonna be here in the morning?

A beat.

NICO: Realtalk, Liam, I think so, but 6AM Nico might have some different feelings on that than 4AM Nico.

LIAM: Please get more than two hours of sleep.

NICO: Right now, at least, I–I don’t want to leave anymore. That’s what I can give you. I can’t make any promises I might break.

LIAM: Then don’t break them.

A beat.

NICO: Okay, Liam.

LIAM: Okay.




Valence is a Hug House production. You can find more information at Hug House dot Productions.

VALENCE is created by me, Wil Williams. This episode was written, edited, and sound designed by me, Wil Williams. This episode also come out on my birthday, uh, and I worked really hard on this episode–it’s pretty ambitious, and I’m really proud of it–so like, if you’re listening to this, maybe go give us a nice review on Apple Podcasts or on Podchaser? That would be really nice, and I would appreciate it, and it will be a very nice birthday present for me that will cost you no money. This episode was directed by Anne Baird and Katie Youmans, and produced by Anne Baird.

This episode was performed by, in order of appearance:

-Josh Rubino as Liam and Liam’s Inner Voices,

-Tina Huang as Michelle Bernadino,

-Emily VanDerWerff as Hope Alexander,

-Anne Baird as the MavenMatch ad,

-Caleb Del Rio as Flynn Velasco,

-Jordan Cobb as Sarah Harris,

-Alex Welch as Noel Alden,

-Mike Schubert as Todd from Accounting

-Ishani Kanetkar as Mahira Varma,

-Katie Chin as Grace Chen,

-Miracle Fonmanu as Zoe Kafoa, and

-the return of John Westover as Nico Salvai.

-Our theme music for season 2 was written and performed by Travis Reaves,

-with production from Raul Vega.

-Other music is provided by Kevin MacCleod and Loyalty Freak Music. You can find links to more information on both in our show notes.

-You can find our full cast list and information on how to support this indie podcast on valencepod dot com. There, you can find a link to our Patreon, which would also be a pretty good birthday gift, just sayin 😉

-Until next time, protect your magic.

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