Chapter 1: 1
Stiles’ heart thudded in his chest as he tried to breathe through the panic and pain. It was a hard task, with feeling like someone was sitting on his chest and the pure terror roiling through his stomach as he crawled along the floor.
The grimy cement obviously wasn’t deemed necessary to a broom treatment when it was a dark, creepy corridor that led to a werewolf torture chamber. He could feel trekked earth, and probably glass, trying to break the skin on his palms and cut through his trousers.
He wasn’t sure how he was going to explain his ruined suit to his father. Then again, he had to make it out alive in order to accomplish coming up with a credible lie.
The teen came across Jackson. With hands that could only be described as nearly convulsive because they were shaking so badly, he checked for his rival’s pulse. Squashing the bit of disappointment that came hand-in-hand with the relief that he was alive, he slowly managed to get to his feet.
The last few hours were a blur. With Lydia and the Alpha – Peter, he had to remind himself that the head honcho had a name now – and having to track Scott’s GPS under the threat of death, only to be dragged along as a distraction for the Argents who already had Jackson in their grasps, interrogating him about what he knew about Scott, Derek and the Alpha. It all just seemed impossible to think that four hours ago, he’d been dancing with Lydia. Now he didn’t even know if she was still alive.
He was trudging through the halls of Kate’s Torture Chamber o’ Love, stepping over the, hopefully unconscious, bodies of hunters that Peter had left in his wake, trying to find two psychopathic werewolves. He could hear faint voices, a shiver tracing his spine as he recognized the deliberate tone of Peter’s voice. It had shaken through his body only a few hours ago on the lacrosse field. He should be running far, far away in the opposite direction but here he was.
Scott was in trouble, so he put one foot in front of the other. Kate and Allison were attempting to play medieval target practice with his ass as the target, and Allison’s father was on his way to join them after deeming Stiles and Jackson uselessly human. He figured that if Peter really wanted Scott for his pack, he’d go to rescue him and he knew, or hoped at least, that Derek wouldn’t let Allison get hurt in the cross-hairs. He couldn’t bring himself to care much about the rest of the Argents, though.
Now he wasn’t too sure about Derek’s drive and motivation seeing as the Beta had his Alpha Uncle on his side to help avenge their family, and Stiles wished in that moment that he’d had the forethought to grab one of the hunters’ guns. He was the Sheriff’s son, so he’d known how to take apart and clean one by the time he was 8, and shoot it by the time he was 12. Of course, when he’d been aiming for a soda can and missed by about forty feet and shot out the tire on his father’s cruiser, he’d been denied all use of firearms in the future. He was about to turn around to get one, when his name echoed through the halls in a sing-song rhythm. Peter knew he was there.
“You are such a peculiar being.” Peter scrutinized him as he would a three year old trying to talk like an adult, once Stiles stepped into view.
The human could see Derek leaning heavily against the bars he’d probably been chained or tied to or something, nursing his side. Stiles tried not to gag when he noticed the chunk of skin above his hip trying to heal itself into existence.
Peter smiled at Stiles, swaggering to his side and clapping an arm around the young boy’s shoulders. When he spoke, he addressed Derek, “I kind of like him. You stare down a werewolf, an alpha wolf at that, to plead for the life of a girl you probably won’t remember in a few years. You help me find my nephew here and then keep the Argents occupied while I take care of things here. And here you are again. I wonder what your plan is now.”
“I was actually kind of hoping Derek had torn you apart by now.” Stiles said before he could filter himself, screwing his eyes shut tightly in a grimace when he felt Peter tense next to him. Those would be his final words.
“Oh, yes,” Peter laughed. “I definitely like him.” He spoke to Derek again as if Stiles wasn’t even in the room. The teen was grateful however that the Alpha was laughing at him. He rather it be that than to be the one torn apart. “It’s a shame you turned down the bite.”
Derek’s head twitched at that, eyes jerking from his Uncle, to Stiles, then back to his Uncle.
“Oh yes. I offered him the gift, but he didn’t want it.” Peter sauntered towards Derek, pivoting to look at Stiles. “I could just bite him regardless, but I’ve made it a rule from now on to only turn the wanting. Scott has proven to be a thorn in my side. He’s too… defiant. Maybe I’ll go wake up that Jackson kid… then again, he’s a bit too needy. I need Betas on my side, not Omegas.”
Stiles tried not to snort. He could only imagine how Jackson would react to being likened to a pack’s bitch boy.
Peter walked up to Stiles again, smacking his cheek lightly in passing, “I’ll have to work on you. I’m sure I can find the proper motivation to get you on my side.” He chuckled at the spike of fear in the air, “Come, Derek. Let’s go find Scott.”
Stiles looked behind him to see the older Hale was gone, but no doubt still listening. Regardless, he let out a shuddering breath, pitching forward to dry heave for a moment as the relief rushed through him too quickly and made him lightheaded.
Derek was barely healed, but tried to stand on his own two feet without looking weak. He gathered the things from his pockets that Kate had removed, purposefully thudding down Scott’s phone. It was the one thing Kate luckily hadn’t touched yet, between molesting him and torturing him. Looking Stiles square in the eye, he stated, “There. Now without my phone too, you can’t call me seven times a day and hang up.”
Stiles was going to ask Derek what the hell he was talking about because he had never done that before, but the pointed glare as the wolf pinned him with as he hastily exited closed Stiles' mouth before his throat could form sound into words. Derek was obviously trying to tell him something. Now he just had to figure out what the hell that was.
Chapter 2: 2
The last time Stiles had felt this alone and helpless, he’d been escorted through a hospital hallway by a deputy who’d pulled him from sixth grade and brought him to his father to learn about his mother’s accident.
He felt like everything was riding on him now and he was wholly unprepared for such a task. The thirteen hours after rescuing Derek had gone excruciatingly slow. He was waiting for the other shoe to drop, the war to begin and for everyone to get pulled into it all.
But it never came.
Scott had called to let him know that he was alive, but refused to tell him where he was in case Peter or Derek came looking for answers. The Hale wolves were keeping a low profile, along with the Argents. Lydia was in a medically induced coma and he had a million and one theories about her, but nothing substantial to back them up.
To top it all off, his father was in overdrive trying to figure out how the hell his son’s date to the formal had ended up nearly mauled to death on the lacrosse field in a way that most certainly wasn’t from a mountain lion.
And let’s not forget the final cryptic words from Derek as he’d followed his Uncle like a good little lackey from the torture chamber. It’d brought the teen to the shell of the Hale house. Now that he had the full story, the fact that Kate had hired people to set the home ablaze with people – children – inside, he felt his skin crawling. It was almost like they were still in the house, their burning ghosts waltzing around him. Every creak of the old, abused home sent shivers throughout his body.
Werewolves existed, so who’s to say… “So,” he dragged out the word hesitantly, looking around the empty living room. “Derek kind of hinted that I should be doing something. If you know what that is, any clue would be really helpful!”
There was dead silence as Stiles held his breath to the point of lightheadedness. He wasn’t sure what he was expecting – if he was expecting anything at all – but was almost particularly relieved that there was no response. They could cross out vampires – confirmed to be bullshit by Derek – and now ghosts. At least, no Hale ghosts.
He exhaled roughly, banging his knuckles rhythmically against one another as he tried to think of where to start first. He was about to head to the kitchen to investigate if maybe there was anything important in Derek’s fridge, when a sharp crack resounded through the house.
Stiles felt his stomach drop sharply as he spun around to face the foyer. It sounded like a door in the house had been slammed shut. He was alone though… wasn’t he? There’d been no cars outside that indicated anyone was here, but that’d didn’t mean jack. Wolves didn’t need cars. He was hopeful that maybe this was where Scott was hiding but doubted it; his friend would have come out the second he scented Stiles.
“Scott?” He called hesitantly, hoping against hope while taking a step forward. He really needed to start carrying a weapon of some sort. Even if it was just a taser. “Derek?” He tried again, almost to the arch that lead into the foyer.
He placed one foot firmly, trying to convince himself to bring the second to join and look around as his heart hammered in his chest, when he felt the lapels of his jacket grabbed, and was slammed against a decaying wall harshly. He was opening his mouth to scream, when his eyes connected with not murderous red ones, but amused blue.
“You’re an asshole!” Stiles exclaimed as his attacker laughed, swinging a fist wildly and feeling an immense amount of satisfaction as he punched Jackson Whittemore for the second time in his life. The lacrosse star stumbled several feet backwards with a hand cupped around his jaw. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“I gathered as much – why are you following me?” Stiles reiterated as if he was talking to someone with an IQ in the double digits… which was quite possible. He stared at Jackson for a minute, before sighing, “Are you serious? After everything, you still want to be turned?”
“If I was like them, I could’ve…”
“What? Won that game singlehandedly last week? Listened in at home to make sure your parents love you? Used it to cheat at life because things aren’t already easy and perfect for you as is? Or are you going to pretend to actually be noble and say that you could’ve protected Lydia?” Stiles couldn’t believe this guy. Sure, Peter had been right when he said that Stiles had lied about wanting to be a werewolf, but who wouldn’t on some level? Especially after being a virtual no one, a sidekick! Sometimes the sidekick wants the spotlight too.
But Jackson, Jesus! He’s had the spotlight since middle school. The blond was just a selfish, arrogant asshat that Stiles actually wanted to punch again. He felt his fist clenching again, his breaths coming quicker. There was just so much inside of him that he needed to let out, but he knew that going after Jackson without surprise on his side, would just end badly for him.
“You don’t know anything about me anymore, okay?” Jackson spat back, righting himself under the scrutiny of Stiles’ angry gaze.
“I know you’re an idiot. The only reason Lydia’s alive right now is because if Peter had killed her, I wouldn’t have helped him find Derek. The only reason I’m alive right now, is because Peter needed me to distract the Argents. This guy is a psychopath hellbent on revenge, and he’s willing to kill any and everyone that gets in his way. And he’s already said that he’s not interested in changing you, so he’d probably just kill you if you went up to him. On second thought, go ahead.” He dealt the final blow snidely, feeling little satisfaction from the flash of pain on Jackson’s face. As Stiles walked away, heading up the stairs, he wasn’t sure if he was sharing all this information as a way to save his nemesis, or just to hurt him like he’d done in one way or another to him and Scott for four years.
“I don’t believe you.” Jackson didn’t sound too sure of himself as he followed Stiles up the stairs. “What are you doing here, anyways? Looking to get bit, too, I bet. Make your life worth something for a change?”
“Nice try. He offered, and I’m not into the kinky, gay bite play. If you are, I’m sure Danny would love to help you with that bit of experimentation.” His remarks were made offhandedly as he began exploring the second floor. He’d never been there before and couldn’t imagine how Derek could inhabit this place.
Pictures were half burned and furniture literally sat on its last leg in the two rooms that were actually covered by the attic and roof. There were several that he walked into that brought a whole new meaning to the term ‘sun room’ were the roof had been burned away to jagged edges like menacing teeth. Turning to exit the room, he ran chest-to-chest into an observing Jackson. He huffed his annoyance, emphasizing it with a rough shoulder knock to pass him before he headed back to where there was a single full bed with a basic pillow and sheet. It had to be Derek’s bedroom. Aside from that, the only other piece of furniture in the room was a nightstand.
He felt the slightest bit of accomplishment when he spotted Derek’s phone sitting on it, the wolf’s words echoing in his head: Now without my phone too, you can’t call me seven times a day and hang up.
Could that be what he meant? Stiles wondered as he picked up the phone and unlocked it. Not surprisingly, there wasn’t anyone on any of his speed dial numbers, let alone number seven, so that was a bit disappointing.
“What are you doing? Hoping you’re in Derek’s contacts?”
“Are you still here?” Stiles sneered over his shoulder at the lacrosse player. He knew Jackson had meant his words snidely, but they caused a light bulb to go off in Stiles’ head. Checking the contacts, he saw almost two dozen of them – all labeled as numbers. He pressed number seven and listened to the ringing.
And hang up. Derek had subtly advised him. He waited ‘til the automated voice told him to leave a message, and then hung up after the beep. Hopefully that would get across Derek’s message, whatever it was.
“Are you going to tell me what’s going on?” Jackson asked irritably.
“No.” Stiles responded immediately, clapping the lacrosse player on his shoulder before he deemed his work there done.
Chapter 3: 3
He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to be doing with himself now that he’d carried out whatever weird mission Derek had forced on him. The wolf was lucky that he’d been able to figure out what he’d meant. The phone bit was simple enough, but Derek was someone that always called him an idiot and belittled him for the main fact that he was human – therefore, inferior. How was Derek to know that Stiles would figure out the seven clue? He supposed that because he did figure it out, it didn’t matter now.
It was Sunday, which meant no school, Lydia still hadn’t woken up despite being weaned out of her coma, and with his father working around the clock and Scott missing, Stiles pretty much had nothing to do.
He should revel in being bored, but being bored led him to thinking, which led to problems for the teen. It was a waiting game, which he was not good at. That was why he was driving around, wasting gas that his father would chide him about later and demand he get himself a part-time job like he had been for the last nine months, trying to find something to do.
He was close to the hospital, so he figured it wouldn’t be a complete waste of his time to check in on Lydia once more. Just to make sure she wasn’t sporting any extra body hair, muscle mass and fangs. That could be a weird ‘allergic reaction’ symptom to have to explain.
The one thing he didn’t count on was that she’d have another visitor. He figured her parents would be there, sure, but not this one. His luck was getting worse and worse. First Jackson, and now Allison was following him briskly down a hallway, calling out his name.
Honestly, he had nothing against the girl. It’s hard to fault her for being in the middle of something she had no idea about. But when she was trying to help her nutso Aunt string up Scott by his chops, he takes offense.
“Stiles, please.” She pleaded, her hand touching his shoulder as she finally caught up with him. Damn elevator! Where was it?
“Can’t talk.” He said shortly, leg bouncing nervously as he waited for the elevator to rise to the floor. Could it be any slower? Five more seconds and he was taking the stairs.
“I just want to talk for a minute.” She moved to stand in his eye line. He took in the harsh angles of her face that showed exhaustion, the red eyes shining with a layer of tears, Goddamn it.
“You get two minutes.” He told her, heading for the last empty patient room he’d passed on his way to the elevators. He perched himself on the side of the bed, waiting for Allison to start.
“Understand what’s going on, how this is happening, et cetera, et cetera. Yeah, I know. Been there, done that.” Stiles cut in rudely, rubbing his hands furiously over his buzzed hair. “No offense to you, Allison, but in the last 36 hours, you’ve been through some shit, and I get it. But I watched a werewolf try to cut open the girl I’ve loved since third grade, been forced to help him find Derek and rely on Jackson to get to Lydia on time to save her, then got to be used as a distraction for your family which then got me roughhoused by your father and his thugs, and then got threatened by the alpha all over again. So while the whole shock of learning about werewolves and that your boyfriend is one and that your family is sworn to hunt and kill them, and that your Aunt is the craziest bitch on the face of the planet, might be a bit to digest, there are people out there that are trying to swallow a lot worse.”
Allison gaped as Stiles, trying to find the words that she’d started to say before his tirade. “What… what about my Aunt?”
“Really? All of that and that’s what you’ve got?” He apparently wasn’t going to be the person in the story that gave epic speeches that led to big life changing epiphanies. “What, your dad and Aunt didn’t tell you about her extracurricular activities? The one where she hired a bunch of thugs to burn down the Hale house with a dozen people inside, including children. Humans, too.” Stiles sneered, “At this point, I don’t know whether to help Peter in his revenge or try to stop him to protect Scott.”
“I-I don’t believe you.” She stuttered, wrapping her arms around herself as the tears finally fell from those doe-like eyes.
Stiles stood from the hospital bed, “I don’t care.” He told her, coming to the conclusion that this weekend was one bad trip and it had to be rock-bottoming soon so that there wasn’t any other glass laden pies catapulting towards his face, waiting to slice him open all over again.
He swept passed her, mentally checking off who he’d had confrontations with since the formal. Peter, Chris Argent, Jackson, Allison. Scott couldn’t afford to piss him off right now, he was small potatoes in Kate’s eyes, and Derek was still MIA. All that left really, was his father. He could use a good, mundane argument about the trash and dish duties at this point. Would probably cry in relief at the normalcy.
But normalcy wasn’t exactly Stiles’ strong suit the last month or two. Not since he’d talked Scott into finding the other half of the body, now identified as Derek’s sister. Not since he’d had to leave Scott behind so he didn’t get busted, and left him for Derek’s Uncle to bite him.
He felt a strange chill as he remembered Peter’s words. It could’ve easily been him that night, that he’d bit. He could be the one running for his life right now. He wondered how much different his life would be if he were the Beta, not Scott. Would he be better, worse? Would he have his moral compass, or be as ambiguous as Derek?
The one thing he knew though was that if he’d been a werewolf, he wouldn’t have been slammed against the wall in his bedroom the moment he walked through the door. He would’ve smelled the other wolf the moment he walked into his house.
As is, he felt the lithe fingers choking his trachea, pressure rushing to his head as the blood supply and oxygen were slowly being choked off. He tried to kick his feet spastically at his captor, looking between the two figures in his bedroom.
The woman had him pinned to the wall, her hazel eyes glowing a menacing green that reminded him of the first growth of grass after their snowy winters. Her canines were extended threateningly, and he idly wished she’d wolf out more just to see what a woman wolf looked like. Then he realized it was the lack of blood flow making suicidal thoughts like that pop into his mind.
The second person in the room was a male, his eyes glowing a dark blue, like the ocean at night. Not quite black underneath the moon. He seemed entirely more relaxed than the woman, and even Derek, as he reclined casually against Stiles’ desk where all his werewolf mythology had been pulled from.
“Who are you and what’re you doing with Hale’s phone?” The woman barked, her husky voice adding a scarier edge to her than before.
“You might want to let him go if you want a response. If you crush his windpipe, we won’t find anything out.” Her male counterpart spoke up, a smirk aimed towards the pair across the room.
“He could still write,” she responded, her hand tightening on his neck just the slightest bit more. He wondered if this is how playdough felt, being smashed in a child’s chubby fingers for the first time, bleeding out between the crevices. His vision was beginning to darken at the edges, his eyes rolling slightly as consciousness began slipping away. “Christ, fine.” She groused, releasing Stiles.
He fell to his knees on the floor, clutching his throat and coughing through the pain as the oxygen rushed back too fast into his starved lungs. “Who… are… you?” He choked out, looking up through spotty vision at the scowling woman.
“I think we’ve firmly established that I’ll be the one asking the questions here.”
“Which in the same breath firmly establishes that I’m the one with the answers to those questions, so I have the upper hand.” Stiles struggled to his feet, trying to put on a brave face. “You’re werewolves, I know that much. I’m just asking for names.”
“Zane and Brenna.” The man answered simply, earning a growl from the woman.
“Brenna? Who the hell names their kid Brenna?” Stiles muttered to himself, forgetting for moment that she could hear what he said loud and clear.
“Probably the same people that name their children Stiles.” She, Brenna, snapped smartly.
“Stiles isn’t my real name, it’s a nickname.” He said factually, only to get a look aimed in his direction that spoke ‘duh’ in lieu of words. Did that mean her name wasn’t Brenna? Or that he should just shut up with the obvious statements. “Right. Okay. I’m guessing you’re number seven in Derek’s phone?”
“How the hell would I know?” She asked, “He called and hung up, we called it when we got to town and followed the sound to your drawer there.”
“I’m the one that called actually, he sorta told me to.”
“Sorta told you?” Zane asked, perking up in curiosity.
“It’s not important. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but please tell me you’re the cavalry.” He looked between the two hopefully. They were like polar opposites, as far as he could tell.
Zane seemed much more at ease in the situation. Plus Stiles couldn’t necessarily find a threat in someone that wore graphic tees underneath an open vest with jeans. And he actually kinda liked the tee the guy was wearing. Maybe if he didn’t try to claw his throat out in the next fifteen minutes, he’d ask him where he got it.
Brenna however was like a female Derek. Bite first, ask second, it seemed. She wore a flimsy grey tank top with a deep v-neck and he was trying really hard not to glimpse down her cleavage because he was pretty sure she’d finish choking him to death. Her pants seemed to be painted on capped off by leather boots. She even had a leather jacket and fingerless leather gloves that disappeared up her sleeves. Maybe leather-leather-leather-jean-monotonous color was standard attire for werewolves and Zane was just the odd duck out.
“Huh?” Stiles tuned back in at the end of a question, looking blankly between the two werewolves.
“Where. Is. Derek?” Brenna enunciated through gritted teeth.
“With his Uncle.”
Brenna and Zane shared a confused look. “He’s visiting Peter? I thought… Derek would only tell you to call me if it was life and death and he needed emergency help. If he’s able to be visiting his catatonic Uncle…”
“You don’t know?” Stiles just assumed word traveled fast in the werewolf world. In actuality, he had no clue what happened. Maybe no one gave a flying frig when it didn’t have to do with their pack. “Peter Hale is the Alpha. He killed Derek’s sister and now he’s going after the hunter and her goon squad that caused the fire at the Hale house.”
At the mention of Laura, the atmosphere had immediately changed. Stiles could feel the anger stifling the room.
“Where’s Hale?” Gone was the relaxed demeanor in the man who had been otherwise mildly amused. Now his tone had an edge to it that caused Stiles’ heart to give one solid thump in fear, which he knew the two heard.
“He left with Peter. He’s following him, for some reason.”
“Derek doesn’t have a choice.” Brenna defended, her face caught in a sneer like she’d smelled something disgusting at having to do such a thing. “Laura was his Alpha. With her dead and Peter left as his only blood, because he’s the Alpha, Derek’s in his pack by default.”
“They’re looking for my best friend,” Stiles offered hesitantly, “who Peter bit. Peter wants to build a pack.”
“He wants a pack, we’ll show him a pack.” Brenna promised, her blunt nails extending into dagger sharp claws.
Chapter 4: 4
Stiles was beginning to wonder if he was cursed. Legitimately so. Not the ‘oh man, my life sucks’ sort of cursed. The kind where witches chant around a voodoo doll or something. First Jackson, then Allison, and topped off beautifully by GI Jane werewolf and her fashionable werewolf Ken doll. Now he was being threatened into taking them to see the only other person in Beacon Hills that Stiles could think might be helpful.
“Ah, Stiles, I wasn’t expecting you today. Scott’s not working.” Deaton, Scott’s boss, said cordially as he came to the front desk.
“No, but he’s here, isn’t he?” Process of elimination brought Stiles to the only plausible conclusion: if he wasn’t at home, Stiles’, Allison’s or Derek’s, the vet’s office was the only other place Scott would feel safe from Peter.
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea.” Deaton stated, his eyes taking on a hard edge as he spied Brenna and Zane keeping their distance.
“They’re…” Stiles looked over his shoulder at the glowering wolves, “Friends. Sort of. Scott, I know you can hear me. It’s okay, man. They’re here to help us take down Peter. You can trust me.”
“Just listen to his heart, rookie.” Brenna said, her voice wound tight. She caught the look Stiles tossed over his shoulder, “For the love of… please tell me Hale’s at least taught him that much.”
“Maybe you should come back another time. As I said, Scott’s not here.” Deaton reiterated, his steely gaze never leaving Brenna or Zane long enough for Stiles to get his attention.
“Now, listen here, sh…” Brenna charged forward, getting right up to the counter. Stiles watched as she winced mid-word, her limbs suddenly going heavy on her as if they’d all fallen asleep at the same time. A knee buckled, jerking her into the counter heavily. She cursed something called mountain ash as she retreated towards Zane.
“Scott!” Stiles shouted, using what little upper body strength he had to jump over the tall counter, heading into the back while Deaton was distracted by the growling threats fifteen feet from him. He saw his best friend cowering in the corner with his elbows perched on his drawn up knees, and his hands gripping his hair tightly. “Scott, c’mon.”
“She knows, Stiles. Allison knows I’m a werewolf. It’s over. Even if I get the cure, her father’s going to kill me.” Scott was borderline hysteric, “I’m dead, man. Dead!”
“Snap out of it!” Stiles snapped, their hands flying together in a fight as Stiles tried to grab at Scott who only resisted. Eventually, Stiles got a smack into Scott’s face, a love tap the wolf probably didn’t even feel, and managed to grab the lapel of his dirty dress shirt. Hauling his best friend up and pushing him roughly against the wall, he held him there until his knees locked. Then he began to drag the wolf into the main office.
“Don’t get him too close to the counter.” Deaton warned lightly, his voice goodnatured as he addressed Stiles, but his eyes still harboring animosity towards the other two in the room.
“It’s mountain ash. It weakens werewolves.” Zane informed Stiles at his confusion, earning an eye roll from his partner.
Stiles closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He didn’t even want to know right now. “Look, Scott. We need your help. You’re the only one that can call out Peter. He wants you for his pack, so he’ll come to you like he did before. And then Zane and Brenna can play the Fred and Daphne to your Scooby and help you kill Peter.”
“You’re obviously Shaggy, so doesn’t that make Derek the Velma in this analogy?” Zane questioned with poorly masked amusement, shooting a look at a smirking Brenna.
Stiles had the feeling he’d eventually pay for that, even though Derek wasn’t in the room. He was beginning to feel itchy with the need to do something. Derek had obviously trusted him – whether because he thought he could or because he didn’t have any other options, Stiles didn’t dwell on – to help him out of this. To get Brenna and Zane here, to get them to Scott, and all three of them to Derek.
“Listen!” He snapped to grab their attentions, the flat of his hand slamming down into the wood counter. He hissed when the force caved in underneath the heel of his palm, denting the apparently weak wood. See! Cursed. “Geez, you run an animal hospital and you have termites?” He directed at Deaton, who regarded the human teen with a blank expression. Shaking out his hand, he continued: “Killing Peter is your only option here, am I right? And no offense man, but you alone can’t take on Peter. Hell, you and Derek probably can’t take him on. He’s older on top of being an Alpha. You need help. That’s probably why Derek had me call them.”
“Derek had you call them? When did that happen?” Scott questioned, looking confusedly between the two elder wolves and his best friend.
“After Peter nearly killed Lydia in front of me and then kidnapped me to track the GPS in your phone that Derek stole, and brought me along as a distraction for the hunters while he cut loose Derek.” Stiles felt his anger building with each word of his recap. “Now Lydia’s in a coma, Derek’s being forced to follow Peter’s orders, and I’ve been shoved, kicked, smacked, choked and threatened within an inch of my life by them and my dad and Peter and Chris Argent and Jackson, and here you are whining about Allison. Focus, Scott.”
Scott looked appropriately chastised, concern swimming its way into his eyes. “Is Lydia going to be okay?” He wondered. The redhead was still a bit of a sensitive subject between him and Stiles, but he wanted to make sure – for his best friend’s sake – that she’d be okay.
“Not really. I haven’t been able to get her alone to check out if she’ll be joining you to howl on pride rock next full moon.” Stiles quipped, mentioning the cliff that people in town had nicknamed after the Lion King movie, because of its similarities to the pivotal scene in the movie. Stiles, however, had other words for it, considering that’s the cliff his mother’s car went off.
“That’s it.” Scott stated, eyes brightening as he was struck with an idea. “That’s where we can call out Peter from. It’s only a mile from Derek’s house. We can go there afterward.”
“The human doesn’t come.”
Stiles and Scott both looked to Brenna, having forgotten momentarily that the other two – three if you counted Deaton – were in the room with them. “No way in hell am I not seeing this through.”
“You’re human. You’re vulnerable. Peter will go after you to get to Scott. He’ll kill you for fun. You wouldn’t end up coming out of this alive. You’re not coming.”
“You can stay here with me, Stiles.” Deaton offered, patting the mountain ash. “You’ll be safe and you can help fill in that hole you put in my counter.”
“The only way I’m not going is if you knock me out and chain me up.” He only realized as he was saying chain that he was probably giving them ideas. He needed to stop doing that!
“That can be arranged.” Brenna retorted, stepping forward.
Even though the mountain ash was a hindrance, Stiles wasn’t sure how effective it would be with completely keeping her away from him. He stepped back the same time that Scott stepped forward, his visage human but with animalistic canines. Stiles looked between the tight, angry stance of Scott protecting him, and Brenna mirroring, snapping her jaws.
“Stop! For crying out loud, just go.” Stiles conceded. There were more important things at stake than him being in the middle of the foray. He looked at the four skeptical faces. “Don’t worry. You won’t hear my Jeep within five miles of the Hale house.”
Brenna and Zane seemed content that there were no blips in his heart rate, so they told Scott to wrap it up and that they’d meet him at the alley entrance.
“I’ll call you as soon as…” Scott paused, knowing in that moment that there could be a very real chance that he didn’t win this. “I’ll call you.”
“Be careful? One funeral has been enough for me, okay?” Stiles clapped Scott on the shoulder, trying to make light of it. But both could feel the heaviness in the air. Scott pulled him unexpectedly into a hug, clapping him on the back twice, before letting him go as quickly as it began.
Stiles watched as Scott disappeared through the back door, listening to the dogs howling as he went.
“Alright, well, I think I’ve got some plaster in the back. We can mix it and fill in the hole.” Deaton said, starting to get himself and Stiles busy.
“Thanks, doc.” Stiles said distractedly as he watched Brenna’s Charger roar out of the parking lot at law breaking speeds. “But it’s not going to be necessary.” He didn’t spare the vet so much as a glance as he walked out of the office, watching until the car was completely out of sight.
As soon as it was, Stiles pulled out his cell phone and dialed the most undesirable number in his arsenal of allies at the moment. “Jackson? Come out from whatever bush you’re hiding behind and pick me up at the vet’s.”
He hung up his phone with little other fanfare. If Jackson truly was following him, he couldn’t be far away. And after all, he’d said that they wouldn’t hear his Jeep. A Porsche was most definitely not a Jeep.
Deaton watched as the only child of the Sheriff snatched the Porsche keys from young Jackson Whittemore, and climbed in the driver’s side of the expensive car.
As it sped off, he calmly walked back to the counter and picked up the receiver for the phone. Pressing in the numbers he’d committed to memory, he waited for the ringing to abruptly shift to dead air. “It’s starting.” Is all he spoke, before hanging up the phone.
Chapter 5: 5
Stiles tried not to chuckle when Jackson slammed a little too hard into the door on a particularly rough turn. “Oops.” He inflicted insincerely, the smirk finally winning out.
“Could you maybe not wreck my car?” Jackson grumbled, righting himself in his seat and putting on his seatbelt.
“Yeah, okay, Paul Walker. I’m sure your car is used to it by now, with your Fast and Furious Fridays in abandoned parking lots all around town.” Stiles shifted gears and pressed harder on the clutch and gas as he went through the rough terrain that would lead through the back to Derek’s.
“I am not Paul Walker.” Was all Jackson could retort with, scowling at his companion.
“Well you’re definitely not Vin Diesel, and you’re sure as hell not Tyrese. Would you rather be Michelle Rodriguez?”
“She’s way more badass than Paul Walker, that’s for sure.”
Stiles was so busy arguing with Jackson about their bizarre conversation, that he wasn’t paying attention to their surroundings. If he had been, he may have noticed the SUV parked off in the distance. He may have been properly alarmed at the oddity to proceed with caution or turn around altogether.
But no. He was too busy arguing that he was not Jesse from the first one who got killed three quarters of the way in. So when he drove over the spikes and the tires blew, all logic went out the window. He forgot that you’re supposed to coast to a stop with a blown out tire, and slammed his feet on the brake.
The irony about talking about a movie franchise about car races while this happened was not lost on Stiles as the car flipped. He felt like he was flying in those seconds it took for the car to twist and turn through the air until the underside of the car collided with one of the trees in the forest.
He felt the impact reverberate all the way up his spine, heard Jackson cry out as the car landed on its hood.
His vision swam as his brain tried to catch up with the hell it’d just been thrown into. Everything in his body hurt and he could feel where the glass had embedded itself in his face and neck from the windshield imploding. The wounds burned with each grimace and stretch of his face as they tore and spread even more. He knew they weren’t deep, mostly superficial, so he was grateful for that.
Speaking of superficial, “You okay?” Stiles groaned out in Jackson’s direction, as the other teen tried to work himself free from his seatbelt. “You might want to br…” Jackson released his seatbelt and fell – shoulders first – to the roof of the car, nearly folding in on himself. “Brace yourself first.”
“Thanks.” Jackson sneered as much as he could towards Stiles. “What the hell did you do to my car?”
“It wasn’t me. I think I ran over something.” Stiles grunted with the effort to get himself undone. He crashed to the roof worse than Jackson did, and tried kicking at the blond as he laughed at Stiles’ spastic movements. Curses were spat back and forth as they maneuvered around the small roof like turtles on their backs. They eventually ended up so that Stiles’ head was on Jackson’s shoulder so that he could kick out the window on the destroyed car.
“Get me out of here!” Jackson whined directly in Stiles’ ear, banging his fists as the teen started to shimmy his way through the door.
Stiles grit his teeth, trying not to cry out as the glass began slicing through his thighs. He was able to get onto his hip as soon as his butt was out of the window, the glass having begun to cut into the small of his back. His back didn’t make it out unscathed as he arched too high through the window while backing out. His hands were sliced open with each movement as he crawled away from the wreckage to take a deep breath, listening to Jackson’s shuffling as the boy started to make his way out.
He lay staring up at the canopy, taking stock of himself. He could feel the cuts on his face, a particularly nasty gash on his forehead dripping blood, scratches along his arms, his hands were trashed, his back and thighs cut to hell… but he was alive.
The sun was winking through the swaying treetops as he caught his breath, wondering how it was his life had became this, when someone stepped into his vision. The sun behind the person – a woman if the long hair was any indication – enveloped them in a halo that made it difficult to see their face. But when the husky chuckle came forth and a baton glowing blue descended to his chest, he knew who it had to be.
The last thing he heard as his body seized and arched with electricity was Kate Argent telling someone to load them into the car. They were going hunting.
Chapter 6: 6
“Not bad, rookie.” Zane said as he smacked Scott roughly on the shoulder.
“Praise later,” Brenna scolded, “Let’s get moving. I want to get to the house before they do.”
“It won’t take us long in the car.” Scott said as he headed back to the woman’s Charger. He was opening the door to get into the backseat when Brenna’s hand slapped it closed.
“We run. In the car, Peter has the upper hand. He can attack it in full form and we’d be confined inside, trapped. No, we run there. There are less mechanical noises to filter through for outside threats too. We have a better chance.”
Mechanical noises? He assumed she meant the car, but how could she hear anything over the roar of the engine, the brakes working, even the steering wheel cords as they turned? Maybe her previous offhanded comment to Stiles had been right – maybe Derek’s hadn’t been teaching him as much as he should be. Then again, the man wasn’t his Alpha and he knew that Scott wanted to be cured, so he probably figured what was the point?
He mused that it would still be useful to have though. Maybe some of those skills he could’ve been teaching him would’ve been helpful in any of the instances in recent weeks where Peter had been coming after him and his friends. He would miss this part though. The running without having an asthma attack. The feeling of being completely free as his lungs burned with the exertion and his muscles tightened and loosened with each jump over uneven earth.
Brenna and Zane were already ahead of him, Zane covering more ground as he ran on his hands and feet like Derek sometimes would. It seemed to give him more power to launch off his feet, he and Brenna in a neck and neck race. He could see smiles on their faces, and he could understand it. In the suffocating fear of being caught, being killed, this was the only freedom they were granted. He’d only been a wolf for a little more than a month or so, and even he got that.
If things went according to plan, he wouldn’t even be able to play lacrosse anymore. He’d be reverted back to his full humanity. But all of that was worth it for Allison.
That thought warmed him as they breached the Hale property. As usual, the smell of burnt wood hit him overwhelmingly.
Brenna and Zane stood, barely sweating and not even out of breath after running the mile or so – unlike himself – examining the area. The leaves ruffled softly in the breeze, and that was seemingly the extent of sound.
“Bren.” Zane said with his voice tight as he tensed.
“I know.” Scott felt the first trickle of fear as they relaxed their hands into claws and their eyes glowed. “Time to make your choice, kid.”
“Well, well. Who are the party crashers?” Peter’s voice echoed inhumanly through the space. He sneered in the shadows after a sniff to the air, “You reek of my niece.”
The three in the clearing whipped around, trying to find the source of his voice. It wasn’t until the chuckle followed that they spotted Peter by the side of the house. Scott knew what that spot was. It was the barred window where the Hale family had stuck their arms out, screaming for help as they burned.
Derek exited through the house, falling to his feet flawlessly off the porch. His eyes connected with first Zane and then Brenna, a nearly imperceptible nod followed toward them. A thanks? A signal? Scott couldn’t be sure.
“They were part of Laura’s pack.” Derek stated, moving to stand in front of the two he and his Uncle spoke of. Every part of him was tense as he crossed his arms in front of his torso.
Scott couldn’t believe Derek would be helping Peter after what he did. He couldn’t see for a second how Derek could rationalize being on Peter’s side in this, when for six years all he had left was his sister. Now he was standing protectively between his sister’s murderer and the three wolves aiming to kill him.
“We were part of Laura’s pack.” Derek said, pivoting slowly on his heel to face Peter. His claws extended, and from his place behind him, Scott could see Derek’s face grow hairy and his muscle mass thicken as he transformed.
Okay, so maybe he’d been wrong.
Peter’s hand flew to his chest, mockingly shocked. “Well, who could’ve seen this betrayal coming?” All humor quickly drained from his face and posture, “Do you really think me that big of a fool, nephew?” His eyes flashed red in his mounting anger, “You’re not that good a liar. I could smell it all over you, almost gagging me with your poorly concealed deception. You thought you were clever.” He chuckled mirthlessly, “But I knew that without you by my side, with Scott alone and running from the Argents, there was no way he’d come to me. Not with you protecting him and Stiles.”
Derek, Zane and Brenna didn’t seem at all fazed by the fact that their ruse hadn’t been entirely successful, but Scott was feeling his fear rising. This was not good. Even with four of them, he still doubted they could take Peter. Especially because he knew they were trying to kill him, and that he didn’t have Derek truly on his side.
“I just never suspected that you’d trust Stiles to figure out your little code so quickly. I mean, really, Derek. Any werewolf worth their salt puts numbers in as contacts on phones. But you play things so close to the vest that I truly underestimated how much he’d be able to figure out on his own.”
Scott ducked his head to hide his smile. Everyone was always underestimating Stiles. That’s usually when it bit them in the ass.
There was a pew in the air as an arrow sliced through all sound barriers and aimed for the wolves. Zane reached out a foot from Scott and snatched the arrow from where it would’ve embedded itself in his chest. Scott shuddered at the close call, jerking back and slipping on the leaves to fall on his ass.
Then again, sometimes they overestimated him sometimes too.
It was a deadly triangle of sides. Derek, Brenna, Zane and Scott stood in the center of the clearing, Peter was by the house, and in between at the wood’s edge were the Argents holding a banged up Stiles and Jackson, flanked by their two other faithful hunters.
Scott immediately stepped forward, wolfing out in the rush of rage as he wanted to protect Stiles – and to a begrudging degree, Jackson – from Kate who was holding him with that psychotically happy gleam in her eyes. Her and Peter would make a very scary but fitting couple.
Stiles felt Kate’s hand tighten around his neck, nosing his ear as she chuckled quietly for Derek alone. He could tell that Derek and she were having some kind of stare off and he almost felt reassured that Derek hated Kate more than he disliked him. Stiles just hoped that meant he’d kill her before she could kill him.
“Now, this is almost poetic.” Kate mumbled into Stiles’ ear, knowing that only he and the wolves could hear her.
“What, you mean coming to die where you murdered their family?” Stiles asked rhetorically, “Yeah, I agree.”
Chris’s head snapped to look at his sister, whose hand was tightening around Stiles’ neck more and more by the second until he was finding it problematic to breathe, let alone say anything else stupid like he just had. What was with the hot, psychotic women choking him today? He really should learn to keep his mouth closed at inopportune moments such as these, if he makes it out of said moment alive.
“What is he talking about, Kate?” Chris demanded, looking warily between her and the wolves.
“Nothing. He’s just propagating that rumor.” She tried to lie her way out of it. But her voice shook ever so slightly, and the wolves in the clearing all picked up the perfect blip in her heart’s rhythm.
“You mean the rumor where you paid off all the people that Peter’s killed? The two guys in the woods who did the nasty deed for you, the investigator who you paid to lie and say it was faulty wiring. If they didn’t know it before, that lie you just told confirmed it for the people with the glowy eyes. I mean, c’mon. You’ve literally just marched into your death.”
“Well aren’t you just clever. Is that what you told Allison? Is that why she can’t look me in the eyes?” Kate growled, stepping back with her gun aimed at Stiles’ back.
“Kate! What are you doing?” Chris asked, pulling a second gun to aim at his sister. The one trained on Peter was steady as can be while the other quivered ever so slightly while trained it at Kate’s head. “He’s a kid for God’s sake, put it down!”
The other two hunters broke off to stand with Kate. Stiles muttered an oath under his breath as he examined the situation. Derek, Scott, Brenna and Zane stood against the hunters and Peter. Peter stood against all of them. Now Chris was a lone wolf – so to speak – in the fight where apparently his loyal hunters were with Kate, who was against her brother and all the wolves. Meanwhile, Jackson and Stiles were caught in the middle of it. One with a gun aimed at him and the other with a crossbow trained at his back.
There was a loud sigh from Peter, “Can we get to the maiming and killing part, please?” His gaze turned steely when it connected with Kate’s, “I have a family to avenge, pack to build, you understand.”
Brenna unzipped her jacket and pulled it roughly from her shoulders. Her body took a moment to adjust properly to the chill the swept around her as she tossed it carelessly in a bundle to the ground. “You three take care of Peter. I’ll get Stiles and his buddy.”
“Doesn’t seem fair.” Zane quipped with a smile.
“I know. But I’m not going to wait for them to call for back-up to even it up.” She and Zane smacked each other’s arms, passing a wordless message to be careful to one another.
As she made to pass, Derek grabbed her arm roughly, his fingers so tight they’d bruise anyone else. “Kate is mine.”
“Believe me, I remember.” Brenna sneered, tearing her arm from Derek’s grip.
Stiles watched as she took stock of the bodies and weapons, hatching out a way in her head to get around four hunters without killing the two teen captives. Luckily, Jackson took that moment to cause a distraction, and twisted around to elbow his captor in the face and drop to the ground. He hated that even with her aiming a gun at him, Stiles still couldn’t hit a woman after everything his mother taught him. But it was enough to distract the hunters from Brenna long enough for her to get close without getting shot.
She was lithe and fast, dispatching the two men quickly in a flurry of nose-breaking punches and ball-crushing kicks. Stiles winced with each crack and pop he heard from the burly men’s muscles as they fell to the ground within the span of a few breaths. The only one Stiles knew the name of, Tyhurst, got back up and headed straight for Brenna with an arrow in hand after having lost his crossbow. He thought to call out to warn, but she bent forward on instinct, grabbing his arm over her shoulder and using her hip to toss him over her shoulder, going down with him to follow through and dislocate his shoulder.
She was getting to her feet when she doubled over with a pained grunt, an arrow deeply embedded in her stomach as she fell to her knees. Stiles twisted in surprise to see Kate tossing the empty crossbow to the ground, pulling her gun once again. With Brenna down, she turned the gun to Stiles. He fell to his ass, scrambling backwards, Jackson doing the same in the opposite direction, as the woman sneered down at him, muttering that he was pathetic.
Stiles was wondering who would take care of his father when he was gone as he waited for her to pull the safety and then the trigger, and snuff out his young and wholly unlived life. But the moment was halted when Brenna weakly pulled herself around until she was in front of Stiles on her knees to protect him, her stomach pouring blood like a river down her leg to pool under her right knee.
“Two for one special, my lucky day.” Kate smiled maniacally. She was adjusting her aim for Brenna’s head when a warning shot buzzed through their ears. The wolf took the momentary distraction to fall to her hands, one reaching up around the arrow, while Kate turned to have a stare down with her brother holding the smoking gun trained on her.
“Always so moral.” Kate said, her lip curling in disgust as she looked her brother over. “They’re things. They, and anyone who helps them, should rot in the ground. Now you’re protecting one.”
“We don’t know her and he is human. We don’t know what Scott’s done. Or the other guy. Or even Derek. We have no proof that they have taken human life. We live by the Code – nous chassons ceux qui nous chassent.”
“No one lives by the Code anymore, Chris! We don’t hunt things that already hunt us. We hunt them before they can hunt us.” Kate shouted, gesturing wildly as her frustration snapped. “Jesus. You’re my big brother and I love you, but you are so insanely naïve that it makes me sick. It’s a new world. If they get on all fours and howl without eating kibble and loafers, they get put down like the mangy animals they are.” She punctuated the last few words by looking down at Brenna, who was trying to wrench the arrow from her stomach, wincing as she made the wound worse in her attempts.
Arching his neck to look upside down behind him, Stiles finally honed in on the sight and sound of the Alpha trying to overcome three pissed off Betas. The team work Derek, Zane and Scott were doing was impressive, but it boiled down to them looking like an Oreo taking on a rottweiler-pitbull mix on steroids and crack. He took a moment to muse on how stark Zane was between Derek and Scott, with his very fair skin and light blond hair. It was kind of funny to see him in wolf form. Terrifying, but funny.
He looked back just in time to see the events play out on hyper speed. In the movies or on television, it’d play out in slow motion with dramatic music to drag it out the minute and a half it took for the hero to run five steps to save the victim. In reality, it took less than ten seconds for Brenna to yank the arrow from her stomach and get to her feet as Kate pulled the safety off the gun and began to train it back on the wolf.
It took less than ten seconds for Brenna to throw her arm back and throw all her considerable strength behind aiming the bloodied arrow straight into Kate’s shoulder. When the gun swung wildly from the impact, her finger reflexively squeezed the trigger with the gun was now pointed at her brother.
Stiles watched with barely concealed surprise as Brenna tackled Chris to the ground to save him from the errant bullet as if she’d foreseen that happening.
Brenna struggled off of Chris, her stomach trying to heal itself through her constant decision to aggravate it further by doing things like leaping through the air to slam into another man. She could see the question all over the man’s face. “We protect human life, even that of our enemy, when necessary.”
Stiles could tell Brenna was going to be a very confusing were-woman.
Over at the house, the betas weren’t having much luck against the Alpha as Brenna had had against the hunters. Zane had claw marks ripped deep through his torso that he was trying to fight through to help Scott, who was suspended high in the air by the Alpha’s enormous clawed hands. Derek was crawling to his feet as his arm finished healing in two places.
With a roar, the younger Hale ran for his Uncle, claws slicing through flesh and muscle in its thigh first, and hip second. Peter howled, shaking fear into the Earth with his wolf’s powerful roar. With snapping jaws, he turned to Derek, who flipped away from the sharp teeth. If he got stuck in those, his Uncle wouldn’t hesitate to kill him to exert dominance to the rest of his mutinous pack.
Derek was aiming for the neck with his razor sharp claws, when Peter’s fist collided with his stomach. He used the momentum to swing Derek straight for the house, causing Derek to grunt from the force of it. The power sent him through the brick and support beams, flying into his already wrecked living room. This was not going well, even with Zane’s added punch to the mix. Even if Brenna came over to help, he was beginning to think they were screwed. Peter was too strong. A born werewolf with twenty extra years on his side and all of Laura’s strength. He was also feeding off of the energy to all four wolves in the vicinity, given Scott was his and he’d inherited Laura’s pack. Brenna and Zane had submitted to her, and now they were going to be forced to stay with their friend’s murderer.
It wasn’t like the wild and actual wolf packs, where it’s purely animalistic. Underneath it all, they’re human. Zane, Brenna and Scott weren’t born wolves. Their humanity was stronger than Peter’s and even Derek’s. It was going to make it more difficult for Peter to build his pack with the four strongest ones, when none of them would betray Laura. And for all his want of getting back to pure humanity, Derek knew Scott would be loyal to him over Peter if they couldn’t bring the Alpha down.
He lay in the ruins of his home, feeling his body fixing the ruptured organs and broken limbs. The sounds of the fight reached his overactive ears through the high pitched ringing, hearing the squishy sound of blood spurting through fresh wounds, bone cracking and mending in the same breath. He could hear labored breathing and the squish of brittle leaves as footsteps approached the front entrance.
He could smell Stiles’ fear before he even stepped foot on the porch. He managed to roll himself to his side, shakily pushing himself to sit just as Stiles skidded to a halt next to him.
“C’mon big guy, let’s go.” Stiles said as he grabbed at Derek under the arms. He fought through Derek trying to shove him off, “We’ve got diem to carpe, asses to kick, my life to save, so get up and get out there because Scott’s getting killed, Zane’s getting killed, Brenna’s probably getting killed if she’s fighting Peter, everyone’s getting killed! So get up.”
“I am, Christ.” Derek growled out his annoyance, gritting his teeth as he stood. “Get Jackson and get the hell out of here. We’ll take care of Peter, you take care of the humans.” Derek watched as Stiles fought with himself against wanting to help the wolves and self-preservation. He made the decision for him, by shoving the teen roughly, “Go!”
Stiles stumbled out of the front of the house as Derek ran full out through the hole, jumping onto Peter’s full wolf form. Stiles hesitated for a moment, before running over to where Jackson and Chris were knocking Tyhurst and his friend back out. He looked around wildly, searching for the third wounded hunter.
“Where’s Kate?” There was a note of hysteria in his voice as he realized she was gone. He ran his hand roughly over his buzzed hair before shaking them wildly, “Never mind.” He stated, reaching down into Tyhurst’s pockets.
“What are you doing?” Jackson asked impatiently.
“Anything I can to help.” Stiles bit off the rest of his sentence that was insulting to Jackson, now not being the time.
“You kids get out of here. I’ll deal with them, and help the others.” Chris pushed the teens’ shoulders gently, gesturing with his head to the woods. “Run fast and run deep.” He advised as he bent down to load up the hand crossbow and then pulled out the gun from his back with wolfsbane bullets.
Stiles and Jackson did as told, but Stiles was running with a purpose. He was trying to remember the route they’d taken from the cars to the house.
“Where are you going?” Jackson snapped as Stiles veered off. Not getting an answer, he had to make a choice. Run or follow. Sticking with Stiles guaranteed he’d end up back in the foray, which meant he might get what he wanted – bit. So with a deep breath, he followed the pain in the ass.
Even with his lacrosse training, his lungs were burning by the time he caught up to Stiles and they made it to their destination. One of the two SUVs that the hunters had driven was missing, definitely meaning that Kate had gotten away. But the other was sitting there, free for use.
“No, no way. When I get in cars with you, bad things happen.” Jackson refused as Stiles climbed into the driver’s seat, fiddling with the seat before putting the key in the ignition.
“Fine, stay here. I don’t give a damn right now.” Stiles was slamming his door closed and shifting into drive when Jackson opened the door with a sigh and climbed in. He barely managed to clip his seatbelt in before Stiles was driving through the rough terrain.
“What exactly is your plan, huh?” Jackson asked, holding on for dear life as they jumped over a fallen log. The car landed roughly before picking up speed once more. He felt dread flow through him as he noticed Stiles was going close to sixty through the thankfully sparse forest.
“To save my friends.” Stiles didn’t dwell on the fact that he was considering more than just Scott as his friend, now.
He could see the Hale house coming closer, could see Scott strewn messily on the ground quite a ways away from where Zane received an uppercut to his jaw and hurtled through the air, could see that Brenna and Chris were both lying unmoving next to one another. Derek was still fighting though. Even alone.
Stiles laid his hand down on the horn, getting Derek and Peter’s attention. “Derek, move!” He shouted, grateful that the wolf could hear him as he pressed harder on the gas and drove straight for Peter. The Alpha didn’t have time to move before the car smashed into him, a sickening crunch sounding as Stiles and Jackson lurched against the seatbelts from the impact of hitting Peter and careening through Derek’s house.
The force sent Peter’s wolf form hurtling through the living room, crashing through the opposite wall in a cloud of blood and dust.
Stiles tried to calm his shaking hands as he unbuckled his seatbelt.
“Bad things! Very bad freakin’ things.” Jackson sputtered as he shook just as much as Stiles. “Two car accidents with you in as many hours. Two!”
“Quit your bitching and get out.” Stiles’ voice shook along with the rest of his body. When they stepped out of the car, there was brick and wood debris everywhere… not to mention the SUV parked in Derek’s house. “Oh man, Derek’s gonna kill me.”
“You get a free pass if the Alpha’s still here and not dead.” Derek said from the foyer.
“Why would you want him to be alive? We’re all better off if he’s dead.”
“Because then your friend can’t have the cure.” Derek snapped his response. Stiles had forgotten about that, to be honest.
“Is Scott okay?” Stiles asked, trying to step over all the rubble to go and find out for himself.
“He’s alive. So is everyone else. I can pick out everyone’s heartbeat except for Peter’s. Where is he?” He shouted, looking truly terrifying in his full wolf visage. He turned with a glare to Stiles at the fear radiating off the boy. He turned back to kicking and shoving rubble out of the way. It wasn’t until he’d punched a hole through the stairwell wall that he noticed the trail of blood leading out the back of the house. “He’s not here.”
Chapter 7: 7
Everything had gone from hell in a hand basket to an even lower level of hell once it became apparent that both Peter and Kate had escaped. All of that for nothing. Scott was still a werewolf, the Hales still weren’t avenged, now it seemed there would be even more hunters after them, not to mention Derek’s house was groaning angrily at having been invaded by a Yukon and Stiles was probably going to lose a body part because of that.
The only upside was the fact that they’d just finished making a pact with Chris that he wouldn’t hunt the werewolves in the clearing, and that he’d make sure no harm came to any of their human counterparts on top of the Sheriff, Lydia, Jackson’s family and Danny. He flat out refused to let Scott near Allison however, and for once Scott agreed. He didn’t think Allison would want to be near him, anyways. And no one in the circle of unlikely allies would put it passed Kate to use her niece as leverage or bait to draw out the Betas.
Stiles was also provided more insight into the two particular Betas who kept close to one another protectively. Chris had thanked Brenna for saving his life, comparing it to a time that hadn’t ended so well in Wichita and called them Xavier and Anne. Obviously their names weren’t real, and it seemed like they were going alphabetically through burned aliases. Stiles was curious as to why Derek didn’t, but wasn’t about to ask the irate male who was muttering about killing everyone.
Chris departed to get home to Allison and Victoria, leaving the werewolves and two humans to apprehensively watch the rage build and build underneath Derek’s otherwise stony exterior. Stiles didn’t have to be a werewolf to feel it simmering in the air. He was so screwed, and not in the good way that would finally devirginize him.
After a moment of silence where all breathing seemed to halt, Derek tipped his head back and let loose a roar. The cords in his neck and arms jumped as every muscle in his body tensed with the anger he released into the yell. Stiles shook, but held his ground even when all else stepped back.
“Leave.” He panted when he finished his display.
Stiles watched as Jackson immediately scurried over to the only vehicle – Brenna’s Charger that would leave the three teen boys smushed together in the backseat – and having Scott follow reluctantly. He cast a look over his shoulder at Stiles, wondering why his friend wasn’t right on his tail to follow.
Brenna and Zane were already climbing into the car, a silent conversation seeming to pass between them with eye contact and miniscule facial tics. Brenna seemed to win as Zane sighed while sliding into his seat with one last glance back at Derek.
Stiles could hear Scott calling out to him, beckoning him to get in the car, but he couldn’t move. Derek turned his head to the side, eying him without turning to face him. The flare of his nostrils, his tense shoulders, curled fists, blue eyes… they were all meant to be menacing, but all Stiles could see was someone who had lost. Lost his family, his life, his shot at fixing everything when both Kate and Peter escaped. He couldn’t help but feel responsible. Kate had escaped after Brenna had opted to protect him and Peter had escaped after Stiles gave the Alpha the opportunity to slip away.
“Sorry.” Stiles muttered softly, hoping only Derek could pick up the barely audible word, before turning tail and running as best he could to the Charger.
Sandwiched against the door and Scott’s side, Stiles began to feel the effects of the day. Two car crashes and a massive adrenaline crash were catching up quickly. “Please tell me we’re headed to the hospital.”
“I’m not having you bleed out on my leather.” Brenna responded drily, sending him a glare through the rear view mirror.
“Dude,” Scott said to get his hazy friend’s attention. “Your dad is going to kill you.”
“I’m okay!” Stiles said for the hundredth time as his father herded him through the house. He had his arms out protectively like a parent would for a wobbly toddler taking their first steps. He loved his father, but it was annoying. “Nothing’s broken, nothing’s fractured, nothing’s whatever, I’m fine.”
“You have two bruised ribs and numerous cuts all over you! You are not fine, do not argue with me.” The Sheriff told him like it was the law that he wasn’t fine simply because he stated it. “I can’t lose…” He choked off his words, clearing his throat to cut off the sentence.
Stiles’ face softened as he looked at his dad. “It won’t happen again dad. I promise.”
“Damn right. You’re grounded for a month. Joyriding in the forest, are you deficient?” He looked like he was refraining from smacking his son upside the head, for which Stiles was grateful. After the anesthesia wore off from the stitches to his forehead, his head was throbbing with a killer migraine.
“I’m sorry!” He said for what felt like the umpteenth time since his father burst into the emergency room when Stiles was in the process of getting his stitches. Scott had been gagging in the corner – he could grow mutton chops and claws that could castrate him with one bad scratch, but couldn’t handle the sight of needle and thread being pushed through skin, imagine that – when the lawman had started shouting.
They’d come up with the story that Stiles and Jackson had been joyriding through the forest when a tire blew and the car flipped. It was pretty close to the truth if you ignored contributing factors like the spikes the Argents had lain in the road.
Stiles sat gingerly on his bed, his arm cradling his throbbing ribs protectively as the muscles twitched and stretched with every new movement. He bit his lip as he lay back slowly. “Pizza tonight?” He asked his father as the man fluffed his son’s pillows almost uncomfortably.
“Actually, I have to go in…” He cut himself off, looking down at his bruised and battered son. “You know what? Pizza sounds good. Sausage sound okay to you?”
“As long as you promise to skip the donuts tomorrow. You know what your doctor said.” Stiles drawled lazily out of habitual concern for his father’s cholesterol levels.
“And you know what yours said. Shut up and go to sleep.”
“Actually, I think it was that I should rest and take it easy.”
“Start taking it easy with your mouth, smart aleck. That’s what got you into this mess in the first place, betting with that Whittemore kid you claim is… let me get this right, ‘the spawn of the Devil and Joan Rivers, both equally terrifying’.” He clucked his tongue with a shake of his head, tossing the comforter over his listless boy. If his mother were alive to see this… the thought trailed off in his head as he looked down to see Stiles dozing, much thanks to the adrenaline crash and Vicodin combination of the day. Fact of the matter was if Nattie was alive, none of this would be happening. Things would be drastically different.
With one last look back at his son, he thanked whatever was out there that his boy was safe, and left to give Stiles some peace.
“Zane owes me big for talking me into coming.” Brenna muttered as she looked around at the wreckage caused by the SUV parked in his living room. She was still favoring her stomach and right arm, not completely healed, and spat out blood as her lung attempted to repair the nick from the arrowhead. “The last thing I needed was another Alpha hunting my ass.”
“There’s the door. You can get out now.” Derek growled. He and Brenna had never gotten along which made their situation difficult. But Laura had a soft spot for the woman, so when she saved her, she offered Brenna a spot in her pack. A place to belong, a home. He sneered internally at the thought. But with Laura gone, that meant nothing anymore. Now they were just fractured.
“You’re playing with fire, Hale.” She didn’t apologize for the word choice when Derek tensed and they both knew she didn’t care. “I know your game here. You might have everyone else fooled, but I know what you’re after.”
Derek got straight into her face, staring at the unflinching woman. That would change one day. One day she wouldn’t be able to talk to him like he was nothing. Wouldn’t even be allowed to look him in the eyes without permission. “Get out.” He enunciated the two words with deadly promise. A promise that said he was healed better than she and could take her down.
She conceded, stepping back with an air of indifference. He could smell her amusement. “You know why we hate each other so much?” She smirked when he rolled his eyes with a harsh sigh and turned away. “Because we’re too alike in many aspects. We want revenge, we want to kill the people that hurt us, and we want our families back even though we can never have them. We’ll trample over anyone that gets us that. We know where we’re weak because of that.”
He tried not to show that she was right, tried to regulate his heart and breathing so that she couldn’t tell. Though he also hated her just because he did. It was as simple as that. He hadn’t been able to stand the woman from the moment they met.
“I’m not blind to you like Laura was. I know your long-term goal, which is where our similarities end. You want to be the Alpha. You wanted it before Laura was even dead, but you couldn’t bring yourself to kill your last immediate relative. And you knew me and Zane would take you down before you could even get within fifty feet of her to try it.” Her eyes glowed in her rising anger, “Let me make one thing perfectly clear. If I can’t stop that from happening and you do become Alpha, I will never bow to you and Zane will follow me. And once Scott knows you’re lying to him about a cure, you can guarantee he won’t be there for you either.”
Derek watched with clenched fists as she walked away. He listened to every foot fall from her as she left calmly, his rage building with every second until she was out of range. First he’d kill Peter to avenge his sister and become Alpha, and then he’d take care of Brenna.
Chapter 8: 8
It was weeks later before Stiles could breathe without his ribs aching. He would get winded climbing the stairs, have to pause half way up just to feed his starving lungs. It was two weeks after that that his father stopped watching him like a hawk. As soon as Stiles and Scott had gotten back to their hijinks ways, he supposed that things were back to normal and left his son to do what he pleased until he screwed up enough to end up in a jail cell.
It was the first time in nearly a month that Stiles was able to go off and do what he’d been itching to since he left the clearing: seek out Derek. He’d seen Brenna and Zane around town, knew from Scott that they were staying until Laura was avenged and Peter was dead, but even Scott hadn’t seen the Hale. He was always gone on the rare occasions that he’d sought him out.
But Stiles had questions and only Derek had the answers. That legitimate reason though didn’t abate the nervousness fluttering in his stomach. The last time he’d seen Derek, the man was angry, angrier than he’d seen him before. It didn’t instill the greatest reassurance that he’d be leaving the property without his blood being spilled, as he pulled up to the decrepit home.
Chris Argent’s SUV was long gone from the side of the house, and layers of fresh brick sat on top of one another to match the foundation of the high porch, new wood was alarmingly stark against the burnt dark boards to cover the living room. He guessed that room was a necessity to conceal, but not the second and third stories burnt out into a massive skylight.
“What are you doing here?” Derek’s voice sounded from behind Stiles.
The teen whipped around in surprise to find Derek watching him, his hands shoved into his jeans pockets. It was weird to see the wolf without his leather jacket for once. His shadow was way past five o’clock, but not quite beardy yet, and he looked exhausted. It struck something in Stiles, because for all the stuff they’d gone through, his hardened exterior never faltered enough to look tired.
“I need to ask you something.”
“No.” Derek responded shortly, glowering at him as he walked by.
“Why does everyone say that?” Stiles groused under his breath, throwing his hands up in exaggeration as he turned to face Derek’s back. “It’s about Peter.” His heart jumped into his throat as growls vibrated out of Derek’s chest from the name. “He said that he wanted me. Obviously, he means for his pack. He said…”
“I was there, I know what he said. Get to your point.” Derek’s tone was clipped and sounded like he was losing his patience quickly. If you could even call Derek’s ability to refrain from maiming Stiles ‘patient’.
“He said,” the teen emphasized, continuing on as if Derek hadn’t cut him off, “That he’d find a way to convince me to let him bite me. I need to know if my father’s safe. I need to make sure that you’ll stop him before it comes anywhere near Peter killing him or bringing him into the loop on any of this.”
Derek eyed the human with an unreadable expression for several moments, causing Stiles to fidget under his gaze. “I can’t promise that.”
Stiles exploded, stepping forward several steps with a finger raised toward the wolf, “You owe me.”
“I owe you nothing!” Derek raged back even fiercer than Stiles.
“I helped get you out of that hole, I figured out your clue and called Brenna and Zane, I helped them find Scott, I talked him down from a ledge after being so distraught over the fact that Allison found out he’s a werewolf, and all four of you were about to be wolf soup if I hadn’t driven Argent’s car into him. You’re welcome by the way.”
Derek scoffed, “In your heroic recounts, you seem to forget that you also got yourself caught by the Argents and brought them here, let Kate and her hunters escape to go for reinforcements that are sure to come after all of us any day now, and let Peter get away in your bumbling attempts at being the hero. But you’re not, Stiles. You’re human, you’re nothing. You’ll never be the hero.”
Stiles took deep breaths, feeling the sting from the words, his anger dissipating and being replaced by resignation. “Maybe not. Maybe I’m just going to be the sidekick in all of this that screws up and needs everyone else to fix his messes. But I’m here. I’m human and I’m still standing here after facing your Uncle, the psycho Alpha, four times. Once in the school where I managed to lock him in a locker room before he escaped through the roof. The second time at the hospital, third on the lacrosse field after he bit Lydia who still hasn’t woken up yet after a month and we don’t know what the hell she is. The fourth time was here.” With each instance, he ticked off a finger. “I’m human, but I haven’t been killed yet and the worst I have to say for all of this is some nightmares that I’ll probably have to pay triple figures an hour to a therapist for in the long run, and some bruised ribs.”
“Why are you still here?” Derek questioned, his brow furrowed in a rare display of curiosity as he crossed his arms against his chest.
“Because I’m the reason Scott was bit. If it wasn’t for me, he wouldn’t have been in the woods that night. It’s my fault that all of this is happening.” It was the first time admitting his guilt aloud, and it settled in his chest like a weight. If he was standing in front of anyone else, there would be tears in his eyes at the feeling, but he refused to show more weakness to the wolf. As is, he watched the anger ripple over Derek’s face.
“Listen, it’s happening because of me, not you.” Derek said shortly, his tone brooking no room for Stiles to ask what he meant. “This still would be happening, just with different people. Peter wants a pack and he wants to mark Beacon Hills as his. If it hadn’t been Scott or even you that night, it would’ve been one of the cops. It could’ve been your dad, which means you or Scott could’ve still ended up bitten, if not both of you.”
Stiles hadn’t thought of it like that. He felt his stomach jump sickly at the thought of his father coming home with yellowed eyes and bared fangs aimed for his son’s throat. Would he survive the bite, would his father even? If they had, would they become some sort of family like the Hales where everyone was wolves and went around running from hunters? Would he have bit Scott, and in turn would he go and bite his mother and just spread it through the town like some sort of disease? The thoughts running rampant through his mind were a lot to take in.
“I’m not going to promise that any of you stay safe. There will be causalities and I really don’t care who they are, as long as the Alpha is dead in the end.” Derek’s hard exterior covered the turmoil under the surface. He’d never admit it to the infuriating kid, but he had managed to help a hell of a lot more than Scott had since first being turned. He would like to repay him by protecting the Sheriff, but there were no guarantees in this.
“He’s all I have left. You know what that’s like.” Stiles played the dead relatives card shamelessly. He needed to know that his dad would make it out of the impending war in one piece. “If you could’ve gone to someone to help you protect Laura, wouldn’t you?”
Before he could blink, Stiles was pressed against the driver’s side of his jeep with a snarling wolf growling in his face. Derek was still human but his eyes were the blue of his wolf, teeth elongated. “Alright, alright, I’m sorry.” Stiles forced out quickly, his heart hammering in his throat.
“You don’t know anything about Laura or what happened and if you ever mention her again, I will tear your ribcage out and make wind chimes from the bones for your father.” Derek thrust Stiles back forcefully against the Jeep, watching the anger flash into the human’s eyes at the same time the window behind his head imploded, sending glass raining in the interior.
“And don’t threaten my father.” Stiles tried menace back as good as the wolf could give, but he knew any threat he attempted wouldn’t come close to the vivid imagery of his ribs broken into individual bones, clanking in the wind from the hook his mother used to hang plants from, when his father got home from working a long shift. “You’ll be paying for that window.”
“I paid for the hood of your Jeep, didn’t I?” Derek snapped before he could stop himself, shoving off of Stiles with a disgusted expression. It was a reflection on himself for revealing that bit of information.
“That was you?” Stiles asked incredulously. When he’d taken his Jeep to get fixed after the Alpha mangled it at the school, he’d dropped it off with a mind-boggling estimation on how much it would cost to fix. He hadn’t the faintest idea on how he was supposed to pay for it, but when the mechanic had called to tell him it was ready and to come pick it up, he’d told Stiles that the bill wasn’t a problem when the teen tried to ask about payment plans. He’d just figured that it was a solid for the Sheriff’s son and didn’t give it much of a second thought with everything else going on.
“Look,” Derek said, feeling a migraine coming on and trying to heal itself away as it niggled against his skull while he dealt with the human annoyance. “I can’t make promises that he’ll be safe, but between me, Zane and Brenna, we’ll make sure he’s never vulnerable to the Alpha. That’s the best I can do right now.”
“That’s all I was asking for.” Stiles said softly, shaking his head as he looked at the gaping hole of his window. That was going to be hell on his ears driving all the way home. He opened the door, flicking away the shards of thick glass from his seat. “What about Scott’s Mom? He’s already gone after her once.”
“She’s protected. He knows now that he won’t persuade Scott by turning her or hurting her. He wants it to be about choice right now, it makes it easier for him and it wastes less of his energy.”
Stiles shook his head. No matter how much he researched, he didn’t think he’d ever manage to understand the goings on of a pack. Most of the stuff he found online was probably false information put out by wolves themselves so that no one actually figured anything out, anyways.
Derek watched as Stiles finished picking the glass out of his car, before tossing a look over at Derek and climbing in.
He listened until the car was out of range, no oddities in the drive – aside from the kid’s preference in music – that required him to go and assist. He would only admit to himself in the loneliness of the forest though, that the kid had balls that he’d never considered before. He was definitely more adept for this situation than Scott, who was too busy trying to get into Allison’s pants. Derek was all too familiar with how bad of a road that could end up being.
Stiles, however big of a pain in the ass he might be, had been nearly invaluable with some of these things. Without him, they could still be stumbling around with their thumbs up their asses trying to figure out who the Alpha was. He was smart, smarter than anyone gave him credit for, and would be a valuable member to any pack which is precisely why Peter would want him. Any abilities he’d garner from the bite would hone in his mind and remove all of his more annoying quirks in the long run. A wolf would make Stiles a formidable asset. He’d strengthen the Alpha considerably.
Which is why Derek knew he’d have to protect the kid. He wasn’t going to let his Uncle have another human to turn and siphon strength from. Especially not the strength that came with this particular human, who had something brewing beneath the surface. Because Derek knew his strength, knew how much force he would’ve had to put behind his shove in order to break the glass of Stiles’ window.
And he hadn’t used nearly enough to do that.
Chapter 9: Epilogue
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
It had been a long day at work, and Scott was looking forward to his run home. His boss was still mum on how he was connected to any of this, but he could tell that the man was otherwise human, and the threat of Peter and Kate both still being out there was frightening. He could use the release of endorphins that came with each pounding step to the pavement. If anyone thought it weird that he ran eight miles home like it was nothing, he’d say it was lacrosse training.
“I can finish up here, Scott,” Deaton said jovially. He smiled with a hint of amusement at seeing Scott in his new favorite room of the office – the kennel. The dogs treated him like he was their alpha, which he pretty much was with being the strongest animal in the room, and Scott loved that little bit of power and control. “You go on home.”
Scott smiled up at his boss, rubbing a collie on its neck before ushering her back into her cage. He hated having to leave them caged like this, but he didn’t think his mother would appreciate coming home to a dozen dogs running through her house. With a promise to see them tomorrow, he headed out.
Deaton watched as Scott gathered his things, reminded him about menial things they’d have to do tomorrow – including collaring “the world’s most annoying black Pomeranian that looks and acts like a demon from hell” – and waved at him one last time from the doorway to the alley.
He watched from the back as Scott began his pace at a jog, before the goodnatured smile melted from his face and he went back into his business. He made sure the back door was locked; the sign was flipped on the front door and locked as well before he headed into his office where his visitor sat.
His brown eyed companion startled slightly, turning in the chair to face him. “He’s gotten so big since I last saw him. I suspect they all have, haven’t they?”
“It’s been nearly a decade since you’ve been in Beacon Hills, everyone’s grown a little since then.” Deaton retorted dryly, his elbows perching on the arm rests as he sat in his chair, opposite the other person. His fingers folded together, eyes scrutinizing. “Are you sure you’re ready for this?”
“It’s time. He needs me, now more than ever.”
“True. But he’s not going to know how to react to this… news, and whatever reaction he may have will most definitely not be a positive one. Upsetting him at this point in time is a very dangerous thing to do.”
“I know. I have a lot to explain.” The agreement was under their breath, eyes downcast.
“Peter will eventually be back. I’ve heard he’s up in Washington right now, trying to find more for his pack. It won’t take him long, and he’ll grow stronger with each addition. You’ll have to tell him the whole story, starting from the beginning.” Deaton thumbed through the inventory reports, feeling the emotions in the room heightening with each anxious breath from his friend.
“We won’t have the decade it’ll take for that, Deaton. If Peter comes back while I’m here, we’re all going to be in grave danger.”
“When are you going to show yourself to him?” He looked up to see the indecision, the fear.
A deep breath was taken, holding it for a pregnant pause before releasing it on a woeful sigh. “I have a few things to clear up and put into motion, and then I’ll be back. I just… I had to see him to make sure he was safe after what you told me about Peter and to check out Derek, make sure he wasn’t misleading my son.”
“We’re watching out for him, for all of them, you know that.” Deaton promised, leaning forward to rest his palms on the desk, pushing himself to stand. “Do what you have to do and get back. Things are about to get a lot worse around here.”
That's it for this story. I'm finally posting it here in preparation for posting the sequel - A Warm Gun - this weekend. It'll be the second story in this series, which this story was written specifically to set up canon for that story, and I have plans for a third story already. Hope you all enjoy my Labyrinth series! Thanks so much for reading. It means the world to me.