Since moving into the Stilinski household, Isaac feels like no one is looking for Erica and Boyd. It's not Derek's fault. He didn't make them run, and he didn't ask to get pregnant. It's just- it’s difficult. That’s all. He's used to being alone. He's been alone his whole life then suddenly he had Erica and Boyd and wasn't anymore. Now they're missing and Isaac seems to be the only one doing anything about it.
Isaac isn't faulting Derek for being halfway to useless. Really, he isn't. The poor guy's senses are all fucked up from the pregnancy. He's nearly attacked Scott on three separate occasions because he's not blood-made or blood-born pack; the taste of Mac and Cheese cooking made him hurl, and while he can pick the scent of Stiles out of a dumpster, all other smells seem to have merged together into one mess that makes him look green all the time so his tracking is for shit. Besides, Derek's exhausted all the time and couldn't run with Isaac if he had to. He can barely hear down the block. All the magic and power boiling in Derek (so much that Isaac nearly chokes on it every time he gets in the same room as his Alpha) is directed inwards at the Puppy, feeding and nurturing her growth leaving almost nothing behind.
The Sheriff is already talking about buying paint to do the guest bedroom as a nursery. Currently there’s a stalemate between sunshine yellows and forest greens – both gender neutral to avoid stereotyping since they don’t know the sex yet, Melissa McCall insists. Derek just presses his face into Stiles neck and hums in something like agreement while Stiles freaks out about whether they should be investing in a crib or a dog bed.
"You're giving birth to a dog, Derek. An actual dog. It'll have a tail and fuzzy ears and fur and a shiny black nose. Why aren't you more concerned?"
"Because I think I'm going to throw up on your shoes." Then he does. Bile seems to pour out of Derek in a Technicolor medley of barely cooked venison (otherwise known as Allison's third hunting related attempt at an apology for all the things she damn well should be sorry for; the first was rabbit with the fur still on and the second was a trio of duck still fully feathered) and Skittles and mango-tangerine juice and Isaac doesn’t want to know what else. He has been trying not to watch Derek eat. Makes his eyes and stomach hurt even when they guy isn't hacking up a lung.
In human terms, Derek should be past the morning sickness stage, but it’s a werewolf man-pregnancy. Stiles has taken to saying, "There are no shoulds with the puppy."
By contrast, Isaac believes there are two shoulds this summer. The first, he should live up to the ever-growing sense of duty he feels towards his Alpha and the new cub. That goes bone deep. He spent half his childhood locked in a fucking freezer screaming into empty blackness. Derek gave him the power to get out, to stand up to his father and finally say no, stop, don't do this to me anymore. No matter what else happens, if Derek falls short or screws up, Isaac will never be able to pay that back. Not if he lives forever. So protecting and serving, that’s his new motto. Just like the cops.
The other, though, is that they should all be working a lot fucking harder to get Boyd and Erica back. Isaac tries to bring it up but most of the time Derek is at work with the sheriff or curled up with Stiles. They're merging into one being in Isaac's head, DerekandStiles, because where one goes the other follows; usually Derek following Stiles. It's a biological imperative. Derek's body needs Stiles. Isaac gets it. It’s just that the not-so-imperative stuff - the stuff where they make out or talk with their noses pressed together about the options they have for their rapidly approaching future - make it hard for Isaac to broach the issue of the Runaway Betas.
That's why he goes to Scott in the end. It feels disloyal, the way Derek and Scott have always stood against each other, but Boyd and Erica are his pack and with his Alpha cared for, the priority to find them screams through him.
"And you need my help?"
"Yeah. Two noses are better than one and I don't know what I'll find out there." And I can’t ask Derek, he leaves unsaid. He can't ask Peter either because Peter hasn’t shown up in months. Also while the man hardly resembles his father, Peter still manages to make Isaac feel the exact same way whenever he enters a room, on-edge and halfway to at least one kind of fear.
Scott thinks about it for all of a second before nodding. "Yeah. Okay. I mean, I'm not sure what we'll find at this point but-"
"We have to try."
"Yeah. Yeah we do. Can you give me a day?”
They’ve already lost too much time so Isaac doesn’t see what one more day will hurt more. Turns out a day manages to produce Allison, Stiles, Lydia, and Jackson Whittemore of all people. Yet he looks…small, fragile. Isaac gets a sick thrill out of seeing the guy who bullied him brought low, although he knows the reality is that Jackson possesses a terrifying strength beneath his trauma. Months spent as the kanima show in the way Jackson moves making the power obvious with every breath he takes, even if he doesn’t realize it himself. Scott sees and so does Allison. Lydia probably does too but the fact of the matter is that she doesn’t say anything and everyone just follows her lead.
She isn’t really part of Scott’s hastily thrown together search party at all. Isaac wants to say something because Stiles is part of the group and that is something worth discussing.
Instead he holds his tongue and lies awake that first night listening to Derek and Stiles whispering in the room next door about Lydia. He barely has to try because Derek is not happy. “You expect me to trust her after what she did?”
“What Peter did. He Svengali-ed her so it's not her fault,” Stiles corrects. Isaac can hear sheets rustling and skin rubbing against skin. “And yes. You shouldn’t be alone.”
“I’m the Alpha, Stiles. I’m not powerless.”
“No, but you think I didn’t read that horror story of a textbook you brought back from the Argents? You’re not supposed to be alone at all anymore. Dad isn’t always going to be here and she’s Jackson’s mate right? Doesn’t that make her pack?”
“Okay then. Lydia and you can hold down the fort while we go get the rest of your puppies.”
“They aren’t- Jesus Stiles, you and dog jokes.”
“You’re right. This is a puppy.” There’s a soft suck-smacking sound of Stiles kissing Derek’s stomach. “You and Lydia be Fury and Hill. Or Hill and Fury because lets not kid ourselves, she’s in charge whatever room she’s in, and the rest of us will be the Avengers and we’ll go get back Black Widow and the Hulk.”
“When we find Boyd don’t tell him you called him the Hulk. Ever.”
“Hey, I mean it as a compliment. Boyd has the quiet nature and intelligence hiding immense physical prowess and raw power. Totally the Hulk.”
Isaac drifts off listening to them bickering about whether or not Stiles could pull off Iron Man because they both agree that Scott would be Captain America, no question, and if Allison isn’t Hawkeye no one is. He knows its invasive to be listening in but they talk quietly and laugh and every now and then will stop to kiss each other.
They help him deal with the low-level anxiety the situation is causing him. He’s lived with a constant DEFCON 4 buzz in his brain since before Camden died. Hyper-vigilance is his default. The werewolf thing has only amplified that so Isaac figures when it comes to the outside world, his Spider-sense powers are really only helping him about half the time, maybe less. The rest of the time the prickle on the back of his neck tends to be echoes of a beer bottle shattering against a wall or the crack of a belt.
They break into groups of two or three and do sweeps of the town, the Preserve, the surrounding suburbs for a week before they catch a lead. Well. More like a lead catches them. Isaac and Stiles are paired off in the preserve in their fifth sweep of the area in as many days when identical bodies appear out of the dark.
They’re fast, faster than Isaac can hope to be and stronger than Stiles can handle. Isaac opens his mouth and howls when his back makes impact with the tree. Scott’s across town with Jackson; they will hear him and if not, Derek will, but the sound is cut short but enormous weight on his throat, crushing his windpipe and the bones in his neck.
“Shh,” the Alpha killing him hisses. His eyes glow red in the darkness. The oxygen deprivation makes them swim, like they’re bleeding. “It’s after lights out. Time for good little boys to be quiet.”
He would fight, tear at the hands on his throat with his claws extended, but he has no air. Isaac wonders if this is what it was like for Matt. He wonders if it all tunneled out, if it hurt, if he was scared, if the black got darker or if it stayed the same. He can’t hear Stiles over the blood rushing in his ears and that’s not good. He has to save himself, save his Alpha’s mate, save what’s left of his pack but he just- he can’t. He can’t. Tears leak from his eyes as the world dims and he can’t.
“Ease up a bit there, Aiden. The cub’s no use to us dead.”
Mercifully, Aiden obeys. He releases his death grip on Isaac’s throat and pins him by the wrists instead.
Isaac’s airway rushes to heal itself. It’s Alpha-inflicted damage but the instinct to survive is stronger than anything else. Isaac’s learned that the hard way. The pain doesn’t recede but it only takes a few seconds before he can take clear breathes in.
“Much better. Isn’t it?” says an accented voice, almost British but not quite. Somewhere else where they drink tea and probably have the queen on their money. Isaac’s head hurts and he’s not thinking clearly. This is all wrong. He knows this because Stiles is totally silent. Living with the Stilinskis, and fighting next to Stiles against Gerard has taught Isaac that a quiet Stiles is either very dangerous or very scared. When he turns to glance at his pack mate and sees his pale skin and Bambi-huge eyes, Isaac knows he’s looking at a terrified Stiles, not a predatory one.
The man holding Stiles is identical to the one pining Isaac only he doesn’t look quite so gleeful. He has Stiles by the neck and chest, his hold almost gentle. He could crack Stiles’s bones like an egg on the side of a bowl and they both know it, so neither of them need the pressure like Isaac had.
“Gentlemen, I think we can be civilized about this, can’t we?” comes the voice again. This time a male figure joins the voice, appearing out of the darkness with a white cane and dark glasses on a cut-glass face. He looks a little like Peter Hale around the cheekbones, Isaac thinks, and like a cast member of Masterpiece Theater miniseries in bearing. “Proper introductions and all that?”
“Hey, you guys decided that this was a good first impression,” Stiles chokes out. “We didn’t go Neolithic on you guys.”
“You have my apologies for the rudeness but you have ruined our timetable with your,” he waves a hand at the woods and two more figures emerge - a beautiful woman with long black hair and a man built like a brick shit house - “investigations. The boys’ overenthusiastic greeting is just a response to the disruption.”
Stiles licks his lips. Isaac can smell his fear. He reeks of it. Adrenaline is overloading his system and he’s twitching against the second twin’s hold. Be quiet, Isaac thinks at him, willing himself to be heard. The rest of the pack must have heard, they’ll be coming. Just be quiet.
“I guess that’s the collateral damage when you take members of our pack,” Isaac says with more bravado than he feels and the wolves can all tell. Stiles bangs his head back against the tree, Isaac can hear the thump, but the blind Alpha just laughs.
It is a deep, warm sound. He smiles at Isaac, then at Stiles, broad and bright with deep dimples. “Your pack? Oh human child, your pack. Ethan, bring him here to me would you please?” Ethan says nothing, obeying without question or hesitation. He is as careful with Stiles as Aiden was rough with Isaac, moving him across the space between to stand mere inches from the blind Alpha. The wolf inhales deeply before reaching out with the hand not holding his cane.
Isaac watches Stiles flinch as his hand lands gently on Stiles’s cheek. His fingers trace over the lines and planes of Stiles’s face, his nose, his lips, his jaw and forehead. He breathes deeply once, and then again, and asks, “Do you know who I am, human?”
“Is this a multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank question?”
Unperturbed, he continues as if Stiles hadn’t just sassed him. “My name is Deucalion. I am the Alpha of Alphas, the powerful among the powerful and I had plans for the Hale pack until you, little human child, came along and changed the game.”
“Mm. Tell me, Kali, can you smell it?” he asks, though he doesn’t turn his head to glance over his shoulder. Then again, why would he?
The woman takes a step forward, then another, and chokes. “Oh my God. Deuc, are you fucking kidding me?” She is at his side faster than Isaac’s eyes can follow, her nose buried in Stiles’s neck. Stiles closes his eyes and tries to lean away from her, horrified, and even Isaac shudders. Only Derek does that. The wrongness of the gesture ripples throughout his body from the furrow of his brow to the set of his shoulders and down to his locked knees. “I heard it wasn’t even possible anymore.”
“So you can.”
“Of course I can.” She takes another long inhalation. “How did it happen? And what is this kid? Twelve?”
“That’s irrelevant.” Isaac watched as Deucalion waved his cane back at her, batting her off. “You know what this means.”
“Yeah,” she sighs. “Yeah.” She pads back to Mr. BrickShithouse on bare feet and crosses her arms, glaring. Isaac waits until she’s out of arms reach of Stiles before fixing his eyes back on the lone human lost in this wolf pack.
“You smell of your Alpha, young man, and you smell of your cub. The Hale line is all but extinct but you’ve managed to resurrect it, in an Alpha to boot.” Deucalion extends a single claw and drags it along Stiles jaw. “Quite the rarity you are.”
“If you turn into Scorpius and start babbling about how unique is always valuable and start licking my face like we’ve fallen into a forest-themed episode of Farscape, I’m going to have some issues, dude,” Stiles counters tremulously.
Deucalion’s only recognition that Stiles spoke at all is a small quirk of the muscles in his cheek as he repressed a reaction. Isaac hopes it was going to be a smile and not a snarl. When his face is once again a cold mask, he asks, “Do you know what we’re doing here tonight? In your little town?”
“Same thing you do every night, Pinky, try to take over the world,” Isaac mutters because enough. Enough suspense, enough dangling at the mercy of a psycho Alpha whose deep, echoing tone makes Isaac want to put his proverbial tail between his legs and sit up and beg simultaneously. He wants to go home or die or anything besides hang here against the tree in Aiden’s grip, waiting.
Stiles laughs, choked and hysterical. “Yeah. What he said.”
“No. It’s very simple. I’m building my pack, a pack of Alphas, strong and independent yet united.”
Deucalion flashes him a grin that is all fangs. “You bred one of the Alphas I came here to… interview, shall we say,” he muses. “It’s going to cause me a bit of trouble, as you can imagine.” He heaves a put-upon sigh. “I guess we’ll see if necessity really is the mother of invention. After all, what’s life without its little surprises?”
“I’m not really a fan of surprises. How about you Isaac?”
“Nope,” Isaac agrees. He feels better now that they have something to run with. Sarcasm feels like chainmail and armor for him and Stiles is clearly no different. Dressed for battle, Isaac finally feels like he knows how to handle the situation. “Surprises don’t usually go well. They end in bloody violence or clowns popping out of cakes.”
Stiles nods so hard he dislodges Deucalion’s touch. “Yeah, and no one wants clowns, man.”
“Then consider this a show of good faith - proof that we’ve come with intent to build, rather than destroy. A baby gift if you will.”
Isaac can hear Stiles heartbeat pick up. His rage fills the air, thick and acrid. The Puppy is not something anyone should be talking about as any kind of bargaining chip, not now. Isaac doesn’t want him to snap because Stiles can’t win and he doesn’t want to take that back to Derek and the Sheriff. He can’t be that messenger.
“Stiles,” he murmurs, trying for soothing while being totally ignored.
Stiles grits his teeth for a moment before unclenching his jaw to speak. “No thanks, I’ve read that fairytale. Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger on the spindle until the prince rapes her awake, Snow White chokes on a poison apple, and the silent Princess has to make sweaters for her swan brothers out of stinging nettles? We’ll pass.”
Deucalion laughs again. “I do like you Stiles. I can see why they keep you around.”
“Nah, its purely for the eye candy. I can’t blame you for missing it,” Stiles shoots back. Isaac groans because really? Taunting the blind werewolf with vision jokes? Did he have a death wish because Isaac really wanted to live. He wanted to go back to the house, take a shower, eat some leftover meatloaf, maybe check twitter and go to bed.
Before anyone could say anything, for good or ill, Scott and Jackson came crashing through the underbrush, wolfed out and snarling. The fight lasted all of ninety seconds before the three Alphas had them pinned. Mr. BrickShithouse had Jackson in a full nelson, on his knees and Ethan’s claws on his neck, ready to rip his jugular veins open with the flick of his wrists. Kali had Scott on the ground, crouched over him. Her feet on his neck and stomach and her hands holding his wrists down in the dirt. She flexed her toes and blood trickled hot and thick down the side of Scott’s throat in the darkness.
“Is everyone finished?” Deucalion asked. “Yes? Right. As I was saying, a gift from me to the remnants of the Hale Pack.”
“If you’re really that compelled you can make a charitable donation to Relay for Life in honor of the blessed event.”
“On the next full moon, we’ll let your friends go.” He takes a step back, clearing Stiles personal space. “No harm, no foul.”
Isaac can’t breathe. The next full moon is only a week away. Derek will be nearly five months along and they’ll have a full pack. Erica and Boyd will be with them again. It sounds too good to be true.
Stiles seems to agree, thank fuck. “Bullshit.”
“I assure you, they’ll go free without a scratch. You have my word.”
“He’s not lying,” Scott chokes out.
“No one was talking to you,” Kali growls, digging her toenails deeper.
“Careful, Kali. If you break it you buy it.” She snarls but obeys. They all obey, like good little soldiers in a war Isaac doesn’t even know why he’s part of.
It’s Jackson who breaks the silence, his throat bobbing against Ethan’s claws as he swallows before asking, “Are you going to let us go now? Doesn’t seem like there’s much point in a pack reunion if you kill half of it in the middle of the woods.”
“An excellent point,” Deucalion agrees. “And I’m sure we all have better things to do with our evening. Boys, Kali, if you wouldn’t mind helping our young friends to their feet?”
They do as instructed although Kali’s idea of “helping” Scott to his feet involves picking him up and tossing him five feet in the air. Isaac is just glad when Aiden’s not touching him anymore, when he can get his back off the rough bark move to stand with Stiles, Jackson, and Scott. They’re practically powerless and outnumbered but this at least feels almost fair.
Deucalion smiles at them and dips his head in a parody of a bow. “Have a good night, boys, and do tell Derek hello for me. Suggest he try diet coke and salmon for the morning sickness. The combination worked wonders for his mother.” Then with a jerk of his chin, the Alpha Pack fades into the forest and is gone.
Stiles lasts a five count before his legs give out on him and he ends up on his hands and knees in the dirt. Isaac can see him shaking even as Scott moves to steady him, ease him back to his feet.
“I’ve got you,” Scott says, over and over until the three words stop making sense.
“He knows,” Stiles says finally. “He knows about the Puppy. Jesus Christ. How are we supposed to fend against that when they know already know about my baby?”
“Now we know they know,” Jackson says with a shrug. “That’s their fuck up.”
“Or part of their master plan. Oh my god, Jackson. Have you never seen horror movie ever? Any of you? How can you all have rushed headlong into monstering and not have done the goddamn research?" He presses his forehead into Scott's shoulder. "I’m bringing a child into a world full of idiots.”
Isaac doesn’t let himself get offended by that when Stiles’s panic is so thick in the air he can practically taste it. “It’s information either way,” Isaac adds, going for reasonable. Stiles’s pulse is skyrocketing. They need to go home. They need to calm him down, talk to Derek and the Sheriff and the Argents and Deaton and anyone who could know anything about this. “And now we have a time table for Boyd and Erica. We can keep looking for them until then but Deucalion wasn’t lying about letting them go.”
“Yeah,” Scott agrees. “We’ll be safer once we get them back. Wolves are stronger as a united front, remember Stiles? That’s something.”
Jackson’s eyes glow bright blue in the dark and something passes between him and Stiles in the dark that Isaac doesn’t catch. He’s known Jackson most of his life and Stiles almost as long, but whatever it is that they see in each other is grim, private, and passes even Scott’s sight. When Jackson looks away and down, Stiles shivers violently enough that he has to lean against Scott to stay standing. Isaac can see his brown eyes are wide and fierce in the dark but he can’t read them. All he can do is try to understand when Stiles nods. “Yeah. Yeah, it’s something all right.” Scott helps him turn and lead them out of the Preserve. It's late and they all want to go home.