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It Came from the Trees

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artwork by the lovely Zera Henna (also on tumblr here)

 

BOOK ONE

VOLUME I 

No seriously.

It all starts with a stuffed animal.

No, okay, but the weird thing is that it actually starts with Peter Hale showing up on his doorstep with an eerie smile and a stuffed animal.

“What is this?” Stiles asks, narrowing his eyes in confusion and suspicion. “And what is that?” he adds, pointing to the stuffed animal in his hands.

“A present,” Peter merely says, and holds the stuffed toy with just his large left hand. “Happy birthday.” Then he adds, like an afterthought, “It’s a wolf. You like those, right?”

Stiles just stares at him. This is literally all he can do. This goes beyond the realm of bizarre.

“Aren’t you going to invite me in?”

No. That would be a definite no,” Stiles says quickly. Although Peter may appear to be harmless, well, Stiles is no idiot, and his father taught him better than that. He may not be as skilled at reading people like his dad is, but he can still see the word ‘trouble’ etched on Peter like neon lights.

Peter smirks and Stiles fidgets in his doorway as his cheeks grow warm. Not only is Peter charming, but he’s a Hale. Stiles has yet to really understand what that means since he’s only been in Beacon Hills a month, but he’s pretty sure that being a Hale or even associating with one is highly significant.

Stiles is virtually a nobody at the moment. He hasn’t really made any friends yet (not for the better lack of trying either). He’s basically at the bottom of the social ladder and he hasn’t got a clue how to make his way up. He’s a spaz, he knows this, but that’s something that worked in his favor back when he and his dad still lived in Los Angeles. Here in odd little Beacon Hills, it works against him. It probably didn’t help that they’d moved here in the middle of Feb-

No, wait.

Let's back up for a moment.

To put things in perspective: Peter Hale is a somebody. Maybe not celebrity famous, but like small town famous. He's got the looks, the money, and the charisma. He has an overwhelming presence about him that is hard to describe or narrow down using simple words like "devilish" or "witty" or even "manipulative". Though Stiles can still say those terms have to be true one way or the other.

So needless to say, it’s beyond peculiar that Peter “probably could land on the cover of vogue magazine just for being this good-looking” Hale, a sophomore college student at that, has gone out of his way to visit Stiles “would probably still be invisible even if he set himself on fire” Stilinski, a dweeb of a high school freshman, for his not-birthday.

It’s all very down-the-rabbit-hole feeling.

Peter, as strange as this all is, is looking like he can’t really understand why Stiles isn’t giving into his charms or at least licking the ground that he’s standing on, which is a reaction most people give to the Hales. Stiles likes to think he has a better sense of self-preservation than most people.

There’s not actually a severe warning bell going off in his mind, but there’s just something there. It’s almost like an absentminded feeling of caution toeing the line of adventure and peril. He can’t quite put his finger on it but his trusty gut is telling him to proceed with caution. He crosses his arms.

Peter’s smirk widens and he looks amused, as if he approves of Stiles’s apprehensive behavior. So, of course, he mocks Stiles’s stance like the younger man is the most entertaining creature he’s ever met.

It turns into a stare contest.

Peter doesn’t blink once. Seriously. Not once.

“What do you want?” Stiles asks, because as popular as Peter is, everyone knows that he’s bad news (in that way that they know but don't really actually know), and that he doesn’t do anything without expecting something back. He’s got a very anti-hero reputation. "What do you want?" he repeats, when Peter makes no move to answer.

“Just to be neighborly,” Peter says, trying for earnest, and failing. He’s wearing a fitted biker jacket with dark jeans ripped at the knees and a graphic t-shirt that says “M.O.N.S.T.E.R.” in gaudy, white comic sans letters. His face is unshaven but he wears it well, while his hair is slicked and neatly parted to the side. Nothing about him says he knows how to be neighborly.

Stiles snorts. “You don’t even live in this neighborhood.” Which is true. He lives in a gigantic house deep within the Beacon Hills preserve. It’s another one of those odd Hale things (or so Stiles hears through the grape vine in this small, chatty town). “Seriously, dude. What do you want?”

Peter shrugs slowly, like he has all the time in the world. “I heard you were good at giving advice and researching things.”

God, who was even talking about him? Stiles didn’t even think anyone knew he existed. “Who said that? And how do you know I like wolves? Not saying that I do, but —”

“You go to school with two of my nieces, and my nephew,” Peter interjects smoothly. “I think I’ve heard them mention you a few times.”

Unlikely. So unlikely.

Stiles knew exactly who he was talking about, too.

Laura Hale is a gorgeous senior who never wastes time on freshmen, outside of her sister, Cora, who always looked at Stiles like she wanted to punch him in the throat during their AP English, Biology, and History class.

Although...that could be because he’s always tapping or drumming his pens and pencils against his notebook or his desk. But the weird thing is that she sits all the way in the front, and Stiles sits all the way in the back, next to the windows. So either she’s got freakishly good hearing or Stiles is just that loud.

Then there is Laura’s little brother, Derek (the middle child), who seems permanently glued to a basketball. Or not so glued, because he spends a lot of his time dribbling it or using it to flirt with girls and guys alike. Derek is a sophomore, and well on his way to becoming the captain of the basketball team if all the rumors he hears in the halls are true.

Either way, Stiles knows for a fact that neither Laura, Derek, nor Cora have ever mentioned him in any of the ways that Peter is trying to imply. He’s never spoken to any of them. He hasn’t spoken to anyone really.

“You’re lying,” Stiles says, and edges back into his house, ready to shut the door and be done with all this weirdness. “And also, it’s not my birthday.”

“Close enough. Consider it an early gift,” Peter deflects cleverly, and Stiles doesn’t know where he’s getting his information from but he’s scarily right. “And you’re correct, I am lying,” he admits. “But you don’t make it easy for anyone to get to know you.”

Stiles makes a face. He’s not sure how to take that or what that’s even supposed to mean. “You’ve got six seconds before I slam this door shut,” he warns.

Peter grins and says, “You’re not being very polite, Stilinski. You could at least invite me in for a cup of water or a beer —”

“Six seconds are done,” Stiles decides and steps back to shut the door.

Peter quickly lifts his hand to stop the door from shutting, and wow, he’s weirdly strong. “Fine,” he sighs, like he’s disappointed that Stiles won’t play along. “What do you know about El Chupacabra?”

Stiles blinks as his mind starts tinkering away. “El Chupacabra,” he echoes. “I’ve read some stuff.” He narrows his eyes at Peter. “Why?”

Peter smirks in that self-satisfied sort of way. It looks positively vulturine. “Just hit a dead end in my research and I’ve got this paper that I’m trying to finish,” he airily explains. “It’s for my Folklore class.”

“Why not go to the library and ask a librarian? I hear they’re useful.”

Peter shrugs. “I get the feeling you're better suited to this task,” he supposes. “You seem like a smart kid. And I heard you got a quaint little library filled with subjects of mythology that could rival my own family library.”

“I have a small collection,” Stiles corrects, and it’s not so much his as it was his mother’s (she was a collector of some sorts), but same difference. He still doesn’t get how Peter just knows this stuff. “Just google what you need and hope for the best. Avoid Wikipedia at all costs.”

Peter scoffs. “You think I haven’t already tried that? Like I said. Dead end. I need more.” He cocks his head. “This paper is riding on a very important grade. You wouldn’t want me to fail, now, would you?”

Stiles has a hard time believing him at his word, but he doesn’t know all the facts and he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t interested himself. He sighs and loosens his grip on the doorknob. “Fine, come in.”

Peter doesn’t walk through the door. No. He swaggers.

Stiles is beginning to find him insufferable already. He gestures to his nicely decorated but messy living room and says, “You can have a seat. We gave our housekeepers the day off, so..."

Peter looks at him silently.

"...yeah, that was a joke. We don't actually have housekeepers. Uh, nevermind. I’m not much of a host. So if you should feel yourself dehydrated, please help yourself to some tap water we generously pay tax money for. Anyway, I have to go get my computer.”

“Or I could go up to your room with you?” Peter suggests with an odd look as he steps into Stiles’s personal space and just looms over him like a creep.

Stiles is uncomfortable. Really, really uncomfortable. “Uh, no. I’ll be back,” he says, leaning back so he can breathe a little. “And I would also like to remind you that my dad is the sheriff, so if you steal anything or try to murder me, um, there will be retribution. And...justice.”

Peter just stares at him intently.

Stiles tries to be as subtle as possible about his fleeing because Peter’s gaze is burning holes in his back. He breathes a little easier when he clicks his door shut and rummages around through the mess of clothes and books for his phone. When he finds it, he shoots his dad a quick text that informs him of his company, just in case this exchange with Peter carries on long after his dad’s shift ends. He then pockets his phone before he grabs his laptop, unhooking it from all its cords, and carries it down to the living room where Peter is standing by a window and looking out like he’s expecting company.

Stiles doesn’t even question it. “So what exactly are we dealing with here?”

Peter looks at him sharply. “What do you mean?”

“Your paper,” Stiles explains slowly with a frown.

Peter relaxes, and Stiles has to comb over his previous words to try and figure out why Peter had look at him like he’d caught him in a lie. Peter straightens and his face melts into an expression of indifference. “My apologies for monopolizing you like this,” he says, and who even says things like that? He's dressed like he’s punk rock but he speaks like it’s tea time with the Queen of England. “But I’m afraid this is really important. I know enough about the origins of El Chupacabra, and its general history. I’m not so sure about its breeding patterns. Or hunting patterns.” He pauses before he adds, “Any weaknesses would be useful too.”

Stiles frowns as he cracks open one of his books. “What kind of paper are you trying to write?”

“Need to know, Stilinski,” Peter murmurs as he twitches and turns his gaze back out the window. “You do me a favor and I’ll feel inclined to return it sometime in the near future."

Stiles sighs and dismisses Peter’s presence entirely before diving in. He doesn’t stray far in his research. He just jots down the things he thinks Peter is looking for on different colored note cards. Green being confirmed facts, yellow being useful but questionable information, and red for interesting but completely ridiculous and untrue material.

Peter sometimes looms over him like a creep, making thoughtful sounds before he returns to his post by the window. He doesn’t actually ever sit down in all the three hours Stiles toils away for him. Another thing he finds very abnormal.

His dad eventually walks in with two large pizzas, looking worn out as usual while he loosens his suit tie. Stiles can’t help but smile when he sees him; that excited bubbly feeling of ‘dad’s home!’ gurgling in his stomach (even after all these years, it never fails). Most people are probably used to their parents by the age of six, but call Stiles frugal because he’s the only parent Stiles has and he doesn’t plan on taking that for granted.

Peter straightens immediately and goes to shake his hand. “Sheriff Stilinski,” he greets. “Peter Hale.”

“Please, just call me Sheriff,” his dad jokes.

Stiles rolls his eyes as he gnaws on a pen cap.

“I hope you’re hungry. I wouldn’t want these pizzas to go to waste,” his dad says as he gestures to the boxes he’s sat down on the kitchen table. “You’re certainly invited to stay. You’d be the first guest my son’s brought home. I’ll admit, he’s had me worried.”

Peter opens his mouth, most likely to accept, but Stiles quickly interjects by saying, “Peter was just leaving, actually.” He shoves a stack of notecards into Peter’s hands before ushering him out the door quickly.

“It was nice meeting you, Sheriff,” Peter calls out from over his shoulder, sounding very amused with Stiles’s antics. When Stiles has pushed him over the threshold, he turns to face Stiles with a grin. "Do you know there's a cat that sits across the street from your house nearly everyday?”

"What?" Stiles blinks before shaking his head. "I mean animals usually can be found outside. Cats are one of them. They're not called Alley Cats for nothing. Though we don't have alleys but the term can still apply, I think."

"Yes, but this particular one is peculiar. Have you really not noticed?"

"No." And Stiles silently thinks, Nor do I want to. What is with this guy?

Peter hums thoughtfully but doesn't say anything more on the matter. Instead, he says, “Thanks, Stilinski. I’ll let you know how my paper goes.”

“Or don’t,” Stiles advises before slamming the door shut. He locks it for good measure and isn’t surprised that his father is looking at him oddly when he turns around. “What?”

“You tell me.”

“He gives me the creeps,” Stiles merely says before pushing past his father to make his way over to the pizza. He shoots his dad a look. “This is really unhealthy.” His dad gives him an annoyed look. “What? Did you flash your gun and badge before requesting every meat known to man be sprinkled over these pizzas?”

“I had a feeling you might say that. I’ve been eating all that organic crap you’ve been feeding me without fail, so I think I deserve this little slip,” his dad says as he steals the slice Stiles was just about to eat. “I’ll take it easy. But you should know that I invited Melissa and her son over.”

Stiles narrows his eyes at his dad.

Melissa McCall had been the pretty nurse who his dad had flirted (terribly) with when he took Stiles to get updated on all his shots because his current high school refused to accept him without them.

His dad just meets his stare head on. “Go straighten the living room. I won’t even ask about your room,” he says after a swallow.

Stiles huffs but he does what his father asks. He’s got good timing, too, because by the time he’s got the living room in order, the doorbell rings. He answers it because his dad asks him too.

Melissa greets him in some purple scrubs with a homemade blackberry pie in her hands. Her son smiles at him and Stiles can’t help but notice that his jaw is crooked.

Stiles moves out the way and lets them in, closing the door behind them. He’s not even surprised when his dad is waiting at the kitchen table with the good plates and cups like this was some kind of gourmet meal.

Melissa smiles and greets his dad and his dad gets all gooey in the face and that’s all Stiles can take before he begs off eating at the table so he can go into the living room instead. His father wouldn’t normally let him eat there, but Melissa’s got him so enthralled that he just waves him off without a glance.

Subsequently, Melissa’s son follows him, and they sit on the living room floor with their backs against the couch while Stiles channel surfs.

“My name is Scott.”

“Stiles.”

“Mom says you guys moved here a little bit ago,” Scott says with a mouthful of food. “You like it so far?”

Stiles shrugs and avoids really answering. “Do you go to Beacon Hills High? I don’t remember seeing you.”

“I’m thirteen,” Scott explains, and Stiles feels a pang of disappointment. Scott somehow picks up on it and adds, “But I will be a freshman in the fall.” He smiles wide. “So what are your favorite video games? I’m really into Dragon Age.”

“Oh thank god. A kindred spirit.”

Scott laughs.

Stiles discovers he has a lot more in common with Scott than what he would have thought. The fact that they are a year and a grade apart doesn’t dispel their instant connection. They hit it off, spectacularly so.

By the end of the night, Melissa kisses his dad on the cheek while Stiles and Scott exchange phone numbers, making plans to hang out over the weekend. Stiles tries not to think about why his dad and Melissa exchange these pleased and knowing looks when they do. He waves at Scott one last time and goes up to his room while his dad insists on walking Melissa to her car.

He stops short after he opens his door and sees the white wolf that Peter had brought with him as a ‘gift’ sitting on the middle of his bed like someone had put it there.

It certainly hadn’t been Stiles.

He also can’t help but to notice that his window is ajar.

---

The next day during AP Biology, Cora Hale approaches him and-

No, wait.

Let's back up for a moment.

To put things in perspective: Cora Hale is intense. She usually puts blinders on, ignores everyone, and paves a clear path through the crowd with just a stormy expression. There have been many occasions that (Stiles couldn't help but to notice) she'll be approached by girls and guys alike who she'll dismiss with one look or callous comment. 

Stiles has never known her to actively approach anyone about anything. And yes, she isn’t always unpleasant, but she always keeps to herself (unlike her other siblings, who were social butterflies by nature). But Stiles thinks it's because she prefers it that way. Cora is the calm and the storm, you know, those days in the summer with thick clouds in the sky, and even in the dry air, you wouldn’t help but to wonder if it would rain.

Which is why it kind of throws him for a loop when the next day during AP Biology, while Stiles is trying not to fall asleep as he roots around his backpack for the assigned homework, Cora Hale approaches him and says, “You’re Bilinski.”

“Stilinski,” Stiles corrects, trying not to take offense of her wording of it. He leans back warily when Cora pushes her face close to his. She smells like coconut and jasmine. “Or you can call me Stiles,” he adds lamely, nervous and confused.

Cora scowls, furrows her brow as her fingers slowly curl into fists. Her raven black hair is braided into two french braids and she’s wearing a grey sweatshirt with cupcakes and smiley faces over an a-line leather skirt with white sneakers. Her eyebrows are unfairly perfect, her winged eyeliner is flawless, and her burgundy lipstick looks like a religion. She's always obscenely well put together.

It makes Stiles want to cry a little.

Cora says, “Why do you smell like my brother?”

Stiles fumbles with his book bag. “What? Peter?”

“No, dumbass,” Cora says, and wow, rude, but that’s all she says.

The bell rings and everyone is forced to go to their assigned seats.

This doesn’t stop Cora from glaring at him the whole period.

Or in AP History.

Or in AP English.

Stiles can’t think of what he could have possibly done.

And also, what kind of nose does Cora have to be able to smell people on other people?

---

During lunch, Laura Hale sits down at his table with a knowing smirk that Stiles doesn’t get at all and says, “You’re cute.”

Stiles splutters and almost spits orange juice on Laura but she’s got freaky fast reflexes and she gracefully ducks out of the way in time. “Oh god, I’m sorry!” he says, completely mortified. He knows his face must be absolutely red.

Laura just throws her head back and laughs.

That doesn’t help Stiles’s dignity at all since-

No, wait.

Let's back up for a moment.

To put things in perspective: Laura Hale is like high school royalty. She's all soft pageant smiles as she floats through the hallways with her equally popular and beautiful clique like butter wouldn't melt on her tongue. Her very presence is peaceful, like a warm, breezy, summer day with the smell of earth in the air; those days when it feels as if nature itself could reach out with arms and hold you in the simplest embrace.

Laura likes to wear her hair long, like down to her waist and keeps it gleaming with a healthy shine. She’s wearing a purple v-neck sweater tucked in a pair of black high-waisted jeans. She’s got the kind of an elegant grace and shape to her (like a stage dancer). She definitely looks like she’s Derek's and Cora’s older sister, but some of her facial features are slightly different.

Stiles wonders maybe if they have a different dad or something.

“It’s okay, Stiles,” Laura says, and holy god, she knows his name and she even pronounced it correctly! “I heard you had a little run in with my uncle.”

“Uh, yes? Yes. I did,” Stiles stammers, nervous and he doesn’t know why. Oh wait. He does. He’s only talking to one of the most popular girls in school and trying so hard not to ruin it.

Laura hums thoughtfully before she says, “He gave you something, didn’t he? A stuffed toy?”

“Uh.”

“You should know that it wasn’t his to give,” Laura continues, ignoring Stiles’s expression of bewilderment. “You didn’t throw it away did you?”

“Why? Is it cursed?” Stiles asks. It would be just his luck to be in possession of a cursed artifact.

Laura snickers. “Nope.”

Stiles waits for her to elaborate. She doesn’t. “Okay, well…” He fidgets with his lunch tray. “Is it yours? Do you want it back? I can give it back. I have no problem with returning things. I’m like a librarian’s wet dream come true, and I’m going to stop before I say anything else to embarrass myself.”

Laura just smiles fondly at him.

Stiles stares dreamily.

“Did you cuddle it?” Laura asks suddenly, as her nose twitches. She smirks as she looks over her shoulder at Derek, who is glaring at them for whatever reason from across the room where he’s sitting with his basketball team.

Stiles hunches down slightly. His glare is almost as intimidating as Cora’s. Must be genetic. He says, “Did I cuddle what?”

“The wolf.”

Stiles feels his cheeks grow warm. Honestly, it had been an accident. He swears he shoved the thing to the other side of his bed before he fell asleep, but he woke up that morning with it in his arms and his nose buried deep in its fur. It had smelled really good, like vanilla and jasmine. “Um — no?”

For some reason, and it has to be coincidence, as soon as he says this, Derek glares even harder at him before he storms out of the cafeteria.

Laura snorts before she turns her gaze back towards him and just looks at him like she knows he’s lying. He probably shouldn’t have phrased it as a question. She says, “You’re cute.”

“Yeah, you said that already,” Stiles says and then he quickly backtracks because this is Laura Hale paying him a compliment. “I mean — thank you? Usually my grandma used to only say that but more in a like patronizing way. Not that I think you’re humoring me or anything. You seem to know what’s cute, and what’s not cute. Uh. Yeah.”

Laura doesn’t seem to mind the word vomit at all. She stands, leaning over the table to steal his apple and Stiles gets a faint whiff of jasmine and grapefruit. She takes a loud, juicy bite before she says, “It’s Derek’s.”

Stiles blinks in confusion.

“The wolf,” Laura elaborates in a cryptic tone before she strides out of the cafeteria with all eyes on her.

Stiles nearly swallows his own tongue.

---

His dad would say that once is an accident. Twice is coincidence. Three times is a pattern.

By the end of the day, Derek Hale corners him in the boys’ locker room-

No, wait.

Let's back up for a moment.

To put things in perspective: Derek Hale is the epitome of "boy-next-door". He has more of a laid back style to match his attitude. He wore things like padded vests over long sleeve henleys matched perfectly with a pair of joggers and the latest shoes. He's not so much soft-spoken as he is polite but Stiles has never seen him throw a fist or pick on the new kid like some of the varsity players on the swim team are infamous for.

Which is why Stiles is a little thrown that Derek Hale, after a very embarrassing and disappointing Lacrosse tryout, confronts him in the boys' locker room to ask, “Are you an idiot?”

“What? Hey, are you even supposed to be in here? You...uh…you’re a....”

Derek furrows his brow and leans closer, looming over Stiles so he can stare at him intently in the same way that Peter did the day before. But then he starts sniffing at Stiles before his mouth twists into a scowl.

Stiles swallows and jerks away nervously, biting back a curse when he accidentally knocks his elbow into the locker behind him.

Stiles is upset, okay? He’s been confronted with way too much hotness today and he has no idea what’s going on. One minute, he's invisible and now all three Hales have approached him and stared him down like he couldn’t be any more real. He stares at Derek with wide eyes and he tries not to think about how everyone is watching them with interest, instead of like, you know, reporting this confrontation to the nearest adult. Seriously though, his heart is beating like a drum in his chest because Derek smells exactly like the stuffed animal he still has in his bed .

Stiles feels his cheeks grow warm and he fidgets.

Derek glares at him and leans even further into his space which helps nothing . “I said, are you an idiot?”

Is he being bullied? Is this what being bullied feels like? Do people still even bully other people these days?

“No. I, uh, I’m not an idiot. I’m actually Stiles. Stilinski. Stiles Stilinski. And you, uh, apparently don’t have any issues with personal space. This is very personal right now. Did I do something? Is this about the —” And here Stiles makes sure to lower his voice, even though they are literally only talking about a stuffed animal, not drugs or anything illegal. “— the wolf? Because I had no idea. Peter just ambushed me with it, claiming it was a gift for my birthday but my birthday isn’t for another couple of weeks. Not that you care, because why would you care? You don’t care. I don’t care. It’s beside the point. I’ll—I’ll totally give it back, dude. You know, if it means so much to you. Which I can understand because I used to have this pillow that I couldn’t sleep without when I was little, so, you know, uh. Totally get it.”

Derek stares at him like he’s the most idiotic person before he shakes his head and says, “Stay away from my Uncle Peter.” And then he just leaves Stiles standing there, gaping like an idiot with his shirt halfway off without even mentioning the stuffed animal.

In hindsight, Stiles probably, definitely, should have known something was up.

But he didn’t.

Of course he didn’t.