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The Walls Are Breathing In

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Stiles could see his breath in the air as they walked through the preserve. Even with the sun high in the sky, as soon as the wind blew it sent chills down his spine. With his hands shoved into his hoodie pockets, Stiles trudged behind Scott and Deaton as they walked on ahead.

“Couldn’t we have done this, I don’t know, in the summer sometime?” Stiles asked as he looked around, his shoulders hunched over as he tried to burrow his face into the collar of his hoodie. Deaton turned to look at him with the deceptive smile he always wore, the one that blatantly said he knew more than he was letting on.

“We need to go ahead and take care of it, before something else is summoned to the nemeton,” Deaton said. “We need to keep Beacon Hills safe.”

“I don’t know what good I’m going to do,” Stiles mumbled as they headed deeper into the woods, towards the nemeton. Stiles didn’t like being near it, not after everything he went through. When it came into view he stopped walking. “I don’t know if I can do this,” he said. Scott turned to him, gesturing for Stiles to follow him.

“Come on, man, we need you.”

Stiles groaned as he stepped forward, but away from the nemeton as Deaton climbed down into the hole that led into the collapsed root cellar.

“Shouldn’t we have more people here?” Stiles asked as Scott disappeared down into it. Stiles stared at the nemeton, his eyes narrowing as Scott shouted from inside the cellar for Stiles to get down there.

Stiles crawled down into it, stopping at his metal bat that kept part of the ceiling in place. It was a complete wreck, half collapsed while the rest of it looked as though it was about to.

“This is totally safe,” Stiles deadpanned. “Nothing could go wrong.”

“Mr. Stilinski, optimism will get you further in life,” Deaton said as he wiped at one of the shelves, picking up a dust-covered book. “We have to gather these pieces, to preserve them, in case something else is trapped in here.”

“Is that wise?” Stiles asked as he joined Deaton, crouched by another shelf with half of its contents broken at his feet. “I mean, these vials are already busted. We should have brought masks or gloves. This could be some sort of wolfsbane that causes hallucinations or something,” Stiles said, pointing at something that looked to Stiles like a type of wolfsbane. “And what are these beads? Gloves are necessary,” Stiles complained.

“What’s this?” Scott asked, picking up a small sphere that glowed bright when he touched it.

“Ah,” Deaton said, taking it from Scott and placing it in a leather pouch he brought. “These are powerful. They harness energy, someone’s spark.”

“What?” Stiles asked, his eyes wide. “Someone’s spark is in that?”

“Emissaries used to, before they died, syphon their magic out of their bodies to keep. This one is old, since it isn’t practiced anymore,” Deaton said, putting it safely into his bag.

Everything that Stiles could find was broken pieces, shards of what looked like the same sort of spheres, along with a leather pouch full of crystals that Deaton added to his bag without explanation. Stiles stilled whenever the wind howled above them or when dirt fell to the ground in front of him from the ceiling. The place gave him the creeps.

There were books, but they were ruined by water damage, along with scrolls that were empty, the ink completely gone, lost forever. All in all, Stiles didn’t see anything of note, besides the mysterious crystals along with a small bag of rune stones that could be used to tell fortunes. Stiles tossed them in the air, holding them in his hand before opening his palm. He didn’t know what the runes meant, but he could feel their power.

They were heavy in his hand, their energy humming through his body.

“Cool,” Stiles said, moving them in his hand.

“Don’t play,” Deaton said, taking them from Stiles.

“I wasn’t,” Stiles said. “I just--”

“Threw them into the air like you knew what you were doing. You have a spark, Stiles. You can’t mess around with magical items without consequences.” Stiles scoffed, letting Deaton take the entire bag from him.

In the back, in what looked like to be some sort of hidden room at one point before it collapsed, Stiles used his phone’s flashlight to see. There were three small shelves, all of them intact.

“Hey, Scotty, come look at this,” Stiles said, reaching for one of the spheres. As he reached for it, it zapped him, its energy reaching out, leaving his finger feeling as though it had been electrocuted. “Ouch,” Stiles said, rubbing his thumb against his index finger, waiting for the feeling to come back to it. He frowned at the sphere, then looked for Deaton, his neck craning. Without thinking, he reached for it again.

He fell to his knees as pain shot throughout his body as the sphere glowed a soft green, almost neon. Stiles let out a choked sob as Scott grabbed onto him, but only for a second before he was sent backward, hitting one of the walls as if thrown. Deaton yelled for him to drop it, but Stiles couldn’t let go. His hand shook as he thought he’d surely blackout from the sheer pain.

As soon as the pain lessened to the point that he could let go of it, he did, letting it crash to the ground. Stiles gasped for air, deprived of it because of the pain as he watched the sphere break as it fell.

“Stiles!” Deaton shouted, grabbing Stiles’ attention long enough that he saw the look of panic on Deaton’s face. When Stiles looked down, he sucked in a breath. Green light surged upward, wrapping around Stiles’ legs as if latching onto him. Stiles took a step back, but the light followed as it snaked its way up his body. He tried to swipe at it, his heart rate skyrocketed when he realized he couldn’t stop it.

“Scott, Scott make it stop!” Stiles exclaimed, unable to stop panicking as it spread across his whole body, engulfing him. Nearby, Scott got to his feet but didn’t try to step towards him. “Scott,” Stiles pleaded before he choked on the energy as it entered his mouth. Stiles gagged as it filled him, making his entire body buzz. His eyes watered as his fingernails dug into the ground, clawing at the dirt floor.

And then it stopped.

Stiles felt nothing, his body numb as he lay on the ground, sweat covering his body despite the cool temperature. He’d blacked out. Deaton knelt nearby, saying his name as Scott watched on from a safe distance.

“Stiles, can you hear me?” Deaton asked. Stiles nodded his head as he licked his lips. His mouth was dry, felt like sandpaper as he coughed.

“Yeah,” Stiles croaked, sitting up. “What was that?” Stiles asked, looking at the sphere, where it lay beside him, empty. Deaton sighed, looking pained as he looked Stiles up and down, his head shaking slightly. “What?”

“I can’t be sure,” Deaton said, looking from Stiles to Scott. “I’d have to do some tests.” Stiles scoffed as he dusted his clothes off. He was covered.

“What do you mean by ‘tests’?” Stiles asked as he stood up, holding his head because he felt lightheaded, a bit nauseous.

“I believe what happened was... whoever’s power was in that sphere latched onto your spark. That power was untapped, and you’re the perfect vessel for it.” Stiles stood there, his jaw hanging open.

“Come again?” Stiles asked.

“You think the sphere gave Stiles its powers?” Scott asked, walking forward.

“What, that’s not-- I don’t want powers.”

“Want them or not, Stiles, I think that’s what happened.”

Stiles looked down at his hands, moving his fingers. He didn’t feel any different, except for the part where he wanted to hurl. Besides that, though, he felt like the same old Stiles. Well, non-demon possessed Stiles. On a scale of possessed or non-consensually magicked, Stiles would probably choose magicked.

“Or,” Stiles said, kicking at the sphere, “maybe it just didn’t want to be touched-- hey don’t pick that up!” Stiles shouted as Deaton bent over to do just that. When he touched it, nothing happened.

“Okay,” Stiles said. “Or not. Totally normal.”

“Tell me, Stiles,” Deaton said, examining the sphere, “was this the only intact sphere you touched?” Stiles shrugged at him, shoving his hands into his pockets.

“I guess so, a lot of them were broken. I’ve mostly been handling books and those runes.”

“I see,” Deaton said without elaborating. “I think it’s time we head back into town. If anything out of the ordinary happens, Stiles, I want you to tell me.”

“Sure thing,” Stiles said. He hoped Deaton was being overly cautious.

-

That night, in the shower, Stiles was in the middle of his scrub down, when he felt his fingers tingle. It felt a little like he had stuck his finger into a light socket, the way it went up his arm, but it was gone so fast, leaving his fingers feeling numb, that he couldn’t really register what had happened.

When he got out, he flexed his fingers, stretching his arm in different directions to see if he could make it happen again. He couldn’t seem to do it, so he gave up by the time the steam disappeared on the mirror.

He had a mountain of homework to get through, along with reading four chapters of The Grapes of Wrath, so he settled into his bed, wearing pajama bottoms and a hoodie, sighing as he opened his book.

Stiles wasn’t a Steinbeck fan, honestly. He was more of an Orwell Animal Farm and 1984 reader. Well, he had been before his life became overcome by mythical creatures. He felt like he was living in a book, sometimes, but not any book he wanted to read.

He rolled his eyes and groaned, shoving the book away from him.

“I have better things to do right now than read this bullshit,” Stiles said to no one. He had a quiz on the chapters the next day, but he’d rather research weird-ass magical orbs than read about a turtle getting run over in the dust bowl. Begrudgingly, Stiles grabbed the book and found the page he had been on. He pouted as he scanned the page, reading the same sentence five times before he grunted, wishing to set the book on fire than read any more of it.

Then the book burst into flames on his bed. Stiles screamed, kicking it onto the floor.

“Holy fuck!” Stiles yelped. “What the fuck,” he said as he tumbled off the bed, grabbing his wet towel off the floor to cover the book, putting the fire out. With wide eyes, Stiles took the damp towel off the now charred book. Stiles picked it up, his eyebrows lifted, his mouth hanging open. “Did I just-- I set my book on fire.”

Stiles walked around his room, staring at the book where he placed it on his desk, while he chewed on his thumbnail. He jumped when the doorbell rang, running down the stairs before his dad could answer the phone.

“Stiles, it’s late,” he said from the kitchen.

“I know, but this is werewolf business, sort of,” Stiles said as he opened the door. Scott and Derek were there, waiting to be let in. “Upstairs,” Stiles said, ushering them inside, pushing on Scott’s back as they ascended the stairs.

“Everything alright?” the sheriff asked.

“Yep! Everything’s peachy,” Stiles said before he shut his bedroom door.

“So you did what? You weren’t making sense on the phone,” Scott said as he looked around the room, his nose in the air. “Do I smell smoke?”

“That’s what I was telling you,” Stiles said, looking between the two of them. “Deaton said weird shit may happen, and it’s happening.”

“Why call us?” Derek asked.

“Well, I called Scott, not you,” Stiles pointed out. “But you’re here, so.” He waved a dismissive hand. “I set my book on fire.”

“Good job,” Derek deadpanned. “I could too, with a lighter.”

“Yeah, no shit,” Stiles said, shoving the book at Derek’s chest. “Only I didn’t use a lighter. I don’t even have one. I wished it in my mind, and it happened.”

“Do you think it has to do with the orb?” Scott asked, eyeing the book skeptically. “Make another wish and see if something else happens.”

“Like what?” Stiles asked as Scott shrugged. Derek was busy flipping through the charred, half-gone pages of the book.

“Like levitation or something,” Derek mumbled, his brow drawn. “What were you thinking when you wished to burn it?”

“You want me to want Scott to fly?” Stiles asked. “And I hate that book, so I just thought about, I don’t know, burning it.”

“Steinbeck is an American--”

Stiles rolled his eyes at Derek. Stiles concentrated on Scott instead, his eyes narrowing as he thought about Scott flying or levitating.

Nothing happened.

“Wingardium Leviosa,” Stiles said, pointing at Scott. Scott laughed. “It’s not working.”

Derek didn’t say anything as he sat on Stiles’ bed, looking at the window.

“It’s windy,” Derek stated.

“Okay,” Stiles said, looking at Derek oddly. “Thank you captain obvious.” The wind rattled against the window, howling loud enough for them to hear.

“No, but it wasn’t when we came in. This sounds like there is a storm outside,” Derek pointed out.

“So maybe one is rolling in,” Stiles shrugged. “What does that have to do anything. Maybe my book combusted. In sixth grade I did this report on spontaneous combustion--”

“Stiles, it’s a book,” Derek said.

“I think we should tell Deaton,” Scott said. “The sphere threw me against the wall, and you were all glowy.”

“What?” Derek asked.

“Yeah, man, did Scott not fill you in?” Stiles asked, wiggling his fingers. “I broke this orb when we were at the root cellar of the nemeton--”

“Why were you there?” Derek asked.

“To gather all the magical shit out of there in case something else broke out,” Stiles said, rolling his eyes. “Anyways, so this orb broke and all its energy sort of went inside me or something.”

“And now you set a book on fire,” Derek stated, looking down at the book.

“Bingo,” Stiles said, nodding his head. “Deaton wasn’t sure what was up but said, you know, to tell him if weird shit happened and apparently it is, so.”

“Has anything else happened?” Derek asked.

“I was in the shower and my fingers tingled,” Stiles said, looking down at them.

“Like a current?” Derek asked.

“Sort of, yeah,” Stiles said. “Do you know anything about it?” Stiles asked.

“No, not really, just wondering. I’d try not to think about fire for a while,” Derek said as he stood up, handing Stiles back the book.

“That’s super helpful, thanks,” Stiles said sarcastically. “What if something happens in my dreams? I mean I dream of fire sometimes. I have this reoccurring one, actually--”

“Want me to stay and watch you sleep with a fire extinguisher?” Scott asked, completely serious. Stiles didn’t want to tell him that, yeah, he did want Scott to stay. Instead, Stiles waved a hand at him, feigning being calm.

“Nah, I just wanted you to know I set a book on fire. Objectively, that’s awesome, but you know, I’m just not sure I want magical powers.”

“Call if anything else happens, or go to Deaton,” Scott said earnestly. Stiles nodded his head as he led them both down the stairs, letting them out. When they were gone, his dad stood by the stairs with his arms crossed.

“Okay, what’s up?” He asked.

“What? Nothing, why does--”

“Because they don’t usually ring the doorbell,” the Sheriff pointed out. “And you’re doing that thing you do when you’re lying.”

“What thing?” Stiles said, looking down at his hands; he didn’t even realize he had a tell. Stiles dropped his hands to his sides, shoving them into his jeans pockets. “It’s not anything to worry about.”

“You say that,” the sheriff said. “And yet you smell like burning.”

“What?” Stiles said, his eyes widening.

“Were you smoking?” His dad asked him in his cop voice. Stiles backed up towards the stairs.

“What? No,” he said honestly. “I don’t smoke anything. Smoking is not allowed in this house.” His father looked at him incredulously. “Okay, so there was some fire involved,” Stiles admitted as he chewed on his bottom lip, weighing his options.

He decided to go for the truth.

“Okay so, don’t freak out, but I may be on the chessboard.”

“Stiles you are not allowed to be on that chessboard again.” Stiles winced at the word ‘again’, like he had been on it when the demon trapped him in his own mind.

“That-- that wasn’t my fault!” Stiles shouted. “And neither is this.”

“Son,” his dad said, coming forward, putting his hands on Stiles’ shoulders. “Don’t box me out again. How are you on that chessboard? Did something happen? Are you a kanima?” Stiles rolled his eyes.

“No one is a kanima, Dad,” Stiles said, cracking a smile. “And don’t worry about me--”

“Tell me what happened.”

Stiles sighed as he shrugged. He told his dad about the nemeton, about the orb and the glowing light, about the book he set on fire, about his spark which he hadn’t really talked about until then.

“So, Deaton doesn’t know what’s going on?” His father asked. “He doesn’t know what was in the orb?”

“He said to tell him if something happened.”

“And did you?”

“Not yet,” Stiles said. “I called Scott instead.”

“What could Scott do? I mean, do alphas have some sort of--”

“The magic kind of sent Scott flying towards the wall when he tried to touch me when it was all crawling up me and stuff,” Stiles said as he swiped at his arms, shivering when he thought about the feeling of the energy.

“And how do you feel right now?” He asked as he held onto Stiles’ face, looking into his eyes.

“Fine, normal. I mean in the shower it felt like my fingers got electrocuted or something, then the book, but I feel okay.”

“I want you to stop by Deaton’s on the way home tomorrow.”

“Okay,” Stiles promised. “I’ll go to Deaton.”

-

Stiles woke up, like normal. He jacked off, also like normal, wadding up the mess in tissues before he got out of bed and showered before school. He ended up reading the SparkNotes on the chapters he was supposed to read and hoped that would be enough.

He didn’t run into Scott at his locker, which was unusual. He was just about to take his phone out and text him when a girl ran into him. Or, rather, backed into him. When she turned around, she looked apologetic.

“I’m so sorry,” she said as her hand reached out as if to grab hold of his arm. She stopped as if zapped. Stiles could feel the magic’s energy beneath his skin buzzing like some sort of warning, like the feeling you get in your limbs before they are about to fall asleep. Stiles shook his hand, trying to get rid of the odd sensation.

“It’s okay,” Stiles said, looking at her. “Are you-- do I know you?” Stiles asked. She was short, shorter than Lydia, with vibrant red, curly hair, and freckles. She shook her head, smiling at him.

“No, definitely not. Today’s my first day. I’m Ruxandra,” she said with an accent. Stiles tilted his head, his lips pressed into a thin line.

“That’s not a name you hear everyday.”

“It’s Romanian,” she said with a grin as she tucked a stray hair behind her head. Stiles mirrored her movement, only scratching behind his ear instead.

“My name’s Stiles,” he said just as the bell rang. “Do you know where you’re headed first?”

“English, room 205,” she said, looking down at her schedule card. Stiles lifted an eyebrow.

“Huh, that’s where I’m going first.”

“What are the odds?” She asked as they walked down the hall together. Stiles found himself fidgeting with his hands as they walked, the buzzing beneath his skin not ceasing. As they got to the room, Stiles opened the door for her. As she walked by him, her arm brushed his and a shooting pain went up his arm. She looked at him, her eyes narrowing as he grasped his arm, making a face.

“Static,” Stiles said through gritted teeth. “Shocks like a bitch.”

She seemed to buy it as she sat down first. Stiles rolled his eyes at himself as he sat behind her in his normal spot. He looked next to him, where Scott was missing. Lydia, too, wasn’t in her normal seat. Stiles looked around the room as the second bell rang and he couldn’t help but feel like he was missing something major.

He checked his phone for messages, but he had none. Watching the clock instead of paying attention, he was pretty sure he didn’t get a 10/10 on his quiz. Between Scott missing, his skin itching, and Ruxandra in front of him, he couldn’t hold onto any other information at all.

-

Scott showed up during third period with a note. When he sat down next to Stiles, he mouthed the word ‘sorry’ at him. Stiles pointed at his phone, indicating that he had texted him.

“It’s dead,” Scott whispered before he was shushed by the teacher.

“What the fuck,” Stiles hissed.

“Mr. Stilinski, do you wish to stay after school today?”

Stiles sat up straight at the reprimand, shaking his head. He and Scott exchanged a look but didn’t try to speak until after the bell rang. Once out in the hall, they walked together to their lockers. Idly, Stiles scratched at his arm.

“Dude, what’s up?” Scott asked. “You’re all twitchy.”

“My skin feels weird,” Stiles said as a familiar burst of red hair appeared around the corner. Ruxandra smiled at him as she walked towards them. “Oh, I uh, there’s this new girl--”

“Hey, Stiles,” Ruxandra said, stopping in front of them. Scott’s nostrils flared, as if he were smelling her, as she extended her hand. “Hi, I’m Ruxandra.”

“Scott,” he said, shaking her hand. Stiles watched, to see if she shocked Scott, too. When nothing happened, he figured what happened between him and her had been a fluke.

“Where are you headed next?” She asked Stiles.

“Econ,” Stiles answered. She frowned, looking down at her schedule.

“I have Chemistry,” she said.

“With Harris?” Stiles asked, grabbing her card to look. “Yep. Be careful there.”

“How so?” She asked him. Stiles shrugged.

“He hates me.”

When she left them, Scott took hold of Stiles’ arm, tugging him close.

“Dude, she smelled weird.”

“Scott, that’s rude,” Stiles said, making a face at Scott.

“No, not like that. I mean something is off about her,” Scott said, looking in the direction she went down the hall. “I don’t know if we can trust her.”

“Wow, role reversal,” Stiles said as Lydia and Kira came into view. Seeing them put him more at ease. Them missing class that morning had been a coincidence. He couldn’t help but feel like he was missing something. To him, it felt like he was walking down the stairs and he thought he was at the bottom, but there was one step left. It was a terrifying feeling. “Usually I’m the one who’s paranoid.”

-

After school, Stiles went straight to Deaton’s. He was surprised to find a certain Toyota in the parking lot. Rolling his eyes, Stiles hopped out of the Jeep, slamming the door shut behind him. When he entered, he found Derek sitting in one of the waiting room chairs, his shoulders hunched over.

“Here for your yearly check up?” Stiles joked. Derek looked up at him, unamused. Stiles’ face fell. “Oh, come on.”

“Stiles?” Deaton asked as he appeared from behind the counter. Derek stood by Stiles, which was weird, but he accepted it.

“Yep, here. I, uh, well you told me to come by if something weird happened.”

“Did something happen?” Deaton asked, ushering them both to the back of the clinic.

“I sort of set a book on fire.”

“Well, then,” Deaton said, indicating for Stiles to sit up on an examination table. Stiles did so, but not without giving Derek a look. “And Derek, I assume you’re here for Stiles as well?” Derek nodded.

“What, why?” Stiles asked Derek as he watched Deaton pull out a satchel, placing its contents on a rolling cart. “What’s that?” Stiles asked, his eyes wide.

“I’m going to run some tests. I was afraid when the orb’s energy transferred to you that something would happen.”

“Well,” Stiles said, not letting the sudden surge of panic he felt affect him. He looked to Derek as he tried not to think about what Deaton was doing. “Why are you here again?” Stiles asked.

“To check on you,” Derek said. He, too, watched as Deaton brushed a cotton swab over Stiles’ arm. “What are you doing to him?”

Deaton looked between the two of them with a needle in his hand.

“This will give me an indication as to what that orb contained.”

Stiles gulped. He hated needles. He felt flushed, his body going rigid, a cold sweat breaking out all over. Stiles felt himself sway, saw Derek rush forward, catching him as he fell, heard thunder rumble loudly overhead.

Then everything went dark.

When Stiles came to again, he was lying down on the examination table with Derek’s leather jacket bunched up under his head as a makeshift pillow.
“What’re you doin’ ‘er?” Stiles slurred, his eyes barely open. Derek was seated in the corner, against the wall with his arms crossed.

“You can’t catch things on fire, Stiles,” Derek said as he stood, walking over to the table that Stiles was on. Stiles watched as Derek reached out, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Something’s not right.”

“No shit,” Stiles said, wincing as he tried to sit up. “What happened?”

“You--”

“Oh, good, you’re awake,” Deaton said, cutting Derek off before he could answer. “I have some news for you.”

“Vague news? Or actually helpful?” Stiles asked. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched Derek’s mouth twitch as if he were about to smile. It made Stiles smirk.

“Depends on how you look at the information I’m about to give you.”

Stiles exchanged a look with Derek but remained quiet as Deaton pulled up a rolling stool to sit on. It wasn’t until Deaton looked between them that Stiles realized that Derek’s hand was still on him. Derek pulled it away as soon as Stiles looked at him.

“I can’t be sure, but based on what happened when you fainted--”

“Passed out,” Stiles corrected. “I didn’t faint.”

“You fainted,” Derek said. Stiles glared at him.

“Like I said, as you fainted, it started storming, so--”

“It did what now?” Stiles asked as he looked out the window, where there was a clear blue sky, just as it had been when he had gotten out of school.

“You started a storm, Stiles.”

“Me? How is that possible?” Stiles asked. “I didn’t do anything.” Denial would only get him so far, Stiles realized, as he looked to Derek for confirmation. Derek nodded his head. “I didn’t do anything,” Stiles reiterated, his shoulders slumping.

“That’s what I find the most interesting,” Deaton pointed out. “I think that, because you don’t know the power you possess, you can’t control it.”

“Well then tell me what powers I have,” Stiles said, his heart rate picking up. “So I can stop using them.”

“That’s the thing,” Deaton said. “We don’t know the extent of them yet, but from what I can tell, that orb wasn’t one of an emissary.”

“No shit,” Stiles said. “What was it then?”

“I believe it was a powerful sorcerer’s.”

Stiles’ fingers tingled at the word sorcerer, his body buzzing beneath the surface of his skin.

“So you’re saying I’m like a bomb waiting to go off.” Stiles clenched his fists. “Because we don’t know what this sorcerer could do, and now I have something like, what? His life force inside of me? I have some old dude inside of me?”

It was a little ridiculous, if Stiles was being completely honest.

“I wouldn’t say you’re a bomb,” Deaton said with a sigh. “More like you have untapped powers. I’d like you to start meditating--” Stiles snorted.

“Have you met me?” Stiles asked. “Can you see me meditating?”

“Like I said, I want you to start meditating, perhaps do yoga, something to clear your mind.”

“That’s all?” Stiles asked, his eyebrows raised. “Get all bendy and nimble via yoga? How is that going to help me?”

“I think it will do a lot,” Deaton said. “Like help you harness some of that extra energy you now have.”

Outside, Derek walked Stiles to his Jeep.

“Uh, thanks for showing up,” Stiles said, scratching the back of his neck, unsure of what to really say to Derek. “I mean, last night too.”

“You’re pack,” Derek said. “You’re important to Scott, and--” Derek sighed. “That was my mistake before, when I was alpha, was that I didn’t-- I wasn’t--”

“Whoa there, big guy,” Stiles said, patting Derek’s chest. “Slow down with the deep conversation. I got you, and thanks,” Stiles said honestly. “I know I never said it, you know, before, but thanks for not killing me when I wasn’t... me.”

“I wasn’t going to do that,” Derek said, his brow furrowed.

“Really? Because I’m pretty sure if it was last year then you would have killed me the second I got possessed.” What a morbid fucking thought. Derek must have thought the same, because he had a pained look on his face.

“I wouldn’t have, not you.”

Well, then. Stiles raked his fingers through his hair, sighing as he looked anywhere but at Derek. He couldn’t think of anything to say to that.

“Thanks, then,” he said eventually, belatedly. “I’m gonna go... meditate, I guess.” He opened his Jeep door, climbing inside. Surprisingly, Derek shut his door for him, drumming his fingers against the side.

“Go somewhere without distractions,” Derek suggested. His voice was muted, due to him being outside the Jeep while the windows were up. Stiles nodded in acknowledgement as he cranked the Jeep. It rumbled to life, letting Derek know to step back from the vehicle.

Instead of driving home, Stiles found himself at the preserve. He parked by the Hale house, what was left of it, then set out behind it, trudging through the wood until he found a clearing. It was cold out, cold enough that he could see his breath. Wearing multiple layers, along with his hoodie, Stiles didn’t really feel the chill yet as he sat down, crossing his legs.

“Okay, so meditating,” Stiles said, sitting straight up, his hands on his knees. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

Nothing happened.

Stiles opened one eye, peeking around. The woods were quiet, except the sound of leaves rustling as the wind blew. It should be peaceful, but really it just creeped Stiles out a little.

“Meditating,” Stiles said again, but his mind was going a mile a minute, thinking about sorcerers, fire, and the way that Derek hesitated before he drove off.

Weird.

Stiles’ shoulders slumped as as he groaned. He tried again, clearing his mind. He concentrated on his breathing, on not thinking, banishing thoughts as they came to the surface. He thought about his dad, about telling him about his spark, about Allison’s death, about Erica and Boyd, about Isaac leaving.

Stiles wiped at his eyes as he opened them once more. He didn’t want to think about everything that had happened to them, to him. He didn’t want to think about everything that he had done, the consequences of letting the Nogitsune take over his mind and body.

It had been his fault.

With a shaky breath, Stiles took another deep breath, trying once more to calm his mind. It was then that he felt it, the tingling feeling in his fingers, the hum of power beneath his skin. He attempted to reach out for it, harness it, but he couldn’t seem to grasp it. Warmth spread throughout him, despite the temperature. He felt flushed as the hair on his arms and legs stood up. A shiver went down his spine, making his entire body swerve. He opened his eyes to find the same glow as before covering him, surrounding him.

He brought his hand up to his face, looking at it more closely. Stiles moved his fingers, feeling the energy surging forward. He could feel the power he possessed, but he didn’t know how to dispel it.

“Whoa,” Stiles whispered as he heard rustling behind him. Immediately, the glow was gone as he twisted around, searching for whatever made the noise. The wind blew around him, as if shielding him. “Hello?” He called out as he stood up.

The wind died down when Ruxandra stepped into view. The hair on the back of Stiles’ neck stood up as goosebumps covered his skin.

“Stiles?” Ruxandra asked as she stepped closer.

“What-- what are you doing out here?” Stiles asked, finding his voice strained.

“I went for a walk, I got lost,” she said, looking down at the ground, her brow furrowing. Stiles’ gaze followed hers. He let out a gasp when he saw that all the leaves around him were pushed outward, making a circle. He had done that, him. His mouth opened, jaw dropping in awe as he looked up towards Ruxandra.

“Stiles--”

“Weird what nature does sometimes, right?” Stiles said, stepping out of his magic-made circle. “Come on, I’ll get you back to civilization.” As they walked, out of the corner of his eye, Stiles saw movement. A black form followed them, but kept its distance as they found the trail that she had most likely used. It was the one Allison used to take when she went running.

Stiles kicked at the pathway, his hands shoved into his hoodie pockets as Ruxandra stood there awkwardly putting her hair behind her ear.

“Thanks,” she said. “I think I got it from here.” Stiles shrugged. “What, uh, what were you doing out there?” She asked. Stiles licked his lips as he looked her in the eye. She’d know he was lying if he looked away.

“Meditating,” he answered honestly. She nodded in semi-understanding. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Yeah, first thing,” she said with an easy smile. Stiles gave her one in return, not letting her know they were being watched. As soon as she turned, walking down the trail, Stiles headed the opposite way, straight back into the woods and off the path.

“Okay, come out,” Stiles almost shouted. As if appearing from nowhere, a black wolf appeared, its head hung low. Really, Stiles should be scared. He knew he should be, but by the way the giant wolf sat on its haunches, he knew who it was. “Derek,” he let out. The wolf looked up at him, it’s eyes flashing blue.

“What are you doing out here?” He asked. “And since when can you shift into a wolf? Were you holding back on us?” Stiles held back the urge to reach out and touch Derek’s fur. It looked soft, thick enough to grab onto. He didn’t have long to think about it because Derek transformed then and there.

He was naked and panting slightly, his eyes wide.

“I didn’t know-- that was the first time I did that.”

Stiles’ brow furrowed as he took in the sight before him. Derek on the ground, covered in dirt, and a lot of hair covering his chest that led downward. Stiles cleared his throat.

“So this wolf thing, it’s new?” Stiles asked as he watched Derek stand up and look around, completely unperturbed by his bare ass being on display. Stiles bit his lip, keeping his eyes on Derek’s face. Well, sort of. Glimpses were unavoidable, really.

“Yeah,” Derek said, distracted. “I was at the house, and I saw your Jeep. I felt this tug, sort of, and followed it. The next thing I knew I was running through the woods as a wolf.”

“So what you’re saying is your clothes are somewhere in the woods,” Stiles said, watching Derek’s breath in the air.

“Who was the girl?” Derek asked, which caught Stiles off guard.

“Uh, she’s this new girl at school. She was lost.” Derek looked at Stiles dubiously.”What?” Stiles asked, beginning to walk. “Come on, we have some pants to find. You’ve got to be cold.”

“I run hot,” Derek said, walking beside Stiles as if he were fully clothed. Stiles wished he was the same way, but he seemed to always be cold. Well, usually. Now, he was sweating, his skin still warm. He looked down at his hands again, checking them for that glow. “Are you okay?” Derek asked.

“Are you? You shifted into a wolf!”

“My mom could do it,” Derek shrugged. Stiles decided to tell Derek about the leaf circle he made, along with the skin glowing and how warm he felt. Derek touched the back of Stiles’ neck with his hand, then his cheek.

“You are flushed,” Derek said. “And warmer than normal. You should go to Deaton.” Stiles swiped away Derek’s hand, scoffing.

“Why? I’m not running to him every time this magic decides to do something. I don’t need to be coddled.”

Derek rolled his eyes, giving Stiles a look as they continued walking.

“I didn’t think you needed to be,” Derek said. “I meant because the magic might be overheating you, building up inside,” he told Stiles, gesturing with his hands around his torso, making Stiles look down at his abs, at his everything. Stiles looked back up, his face flushing. “It could be something dangerous.”

“Maybe,” Stiles said just as he saw a piece of clothing on the ground. It was Derek’s jacket. “Oh, look!” He said, running forward, grabbing it. He also found Derek’s pants.

After some searching, they were still missing a shoe, along with his underwear.

“Dude, how could we have found your pants, but not your underwear?” Stiles asked, flabbergasted. Derek coughed, not looking Stiles in the eye.

“I wasn’t wearing--”

“Ah,” Stiles said, his cheeks reddening. “So just the shoe.”

“I have other shoes,” Derek supplied. “We can head back.”

“Doesn’t that hurt? Walking without any shoes on?” Stiles asked as they made their way towards the dilapidated Hale house.

“No,” Derek shrugged. “If my feet get cut, they heal afterwards.”

“Still,” Stiles said. “Stepping on twigs sounds just about as fun as stepping on a lego.” Derek laughed at him, which made Stiles smile. “You know, you’re different now.”

Derek stilled for a moment, his face stoic, before he answered.

“So are you,” he replied. Stiles thought he had a point there. He knew he had changed, after he was himself again. He couldn’t go back to how he was before being possessed. That was the past, and now he had this to deal with.

He thought it was cool, being able to do a mountain ash circle, but he never wanted to be an emissary, never wanted the bite. And now he was stuck with magic powers unlike that of Deaton, of anything they had encountered. This was real magic, and that scared him.

Stiles jumped as Derek laid his hand on the back of Stiles’ neck, soothing him as he moved his thumb across Stiles’ skin.

“Your heart rate just went through the roof,” Derek murmured. Stiles closed his eyes, thinking about everything he read about wolf pack dynamics, about how touchy feely they were. Derek really had changed.

“You make a way better beta than you do an alpha,” Stiles blurted out. He was worried for a second, that he pissed Derek off, but when he looked at him, Derek’s face was calm.

“I was never meant to be alpha,” Derek confessed. “That was my mom, then Laura. It wasn’t supposed to be me.”

Stiles nodded sympathetically, but didn’t know what to say. Derek’s hand was no longer on his neck and they were standing at their cars once more. They both looked at the house, its burnt remains.

“Life doesn’t turn out like you think it will,” Derek said, turning to face Stiles once more.

“I’m beginning to get that,” Stiles joked, though all he could think about was demons and non-consensual magic. His body thrummed in time with his heartbeat.

“Maybe research could help.”

“Maybe,” Stiles said, the air getting thicker between them. Stiles could feel the heat coming off of Derek’s body, tension rising between them as if building up to something. He could feel his skin beginning to itch with need.

The sun was setting behind them, the light dimming considerably around them. Stiles sighed, getting into his Jeep as Derek waved him off. Stiles pulled away, turning his headlights on as the sun disappeared behind the horizon, his mind reeling over what just happened.