Stiles was woken by a sudden loud thump as something large fell in through his window, but he didn't really register what was happening until it started to move, which was when he yelped and threw his pillow at it.
"Ow! Stiles, shut up!" hissed Allison, and she grabbed the pillow and threw it back. Stiles clamped a hand over his mouth and for a tense minute they waited to see if the noise had woken his dad, but the house remained quiet and still. Allison climbed to her feet and glared at him. "I can't believe you just left me out there."
Stiles spread his hands in supplication. "I was trying to save your ass - you could have spoken up at any time if you wanted to ride home in the back of my dad's car."
"You could have come back," she said irritably, "I had to walk all the way here, after almost getting trampled by deer and almost hit by a car and - oh yeah, actually getting mauled by something giant and scary with sharp teeth - so get up, you're driving me to the hospital."
"The hospital? What happened? What was it?"
"I don't know — I didn't stop to introduce myself — it was giant and hairy and wolf-shaped and it bit me."
"There aren't any wolves in California."
"That's why I said wolf-shaped. Are you going to drive me to the hospital or not?"
"Can I see it?"
"The bite. Can I see the bite? Is it gross?"
Allison sighed and went to flip on his lamp before returning to the bedside so she could gently lift her blood-soaked hoodie and t-shirt. Stiles had his face scrunched up and half turned away the entire time in anticipation, but when she finally revealed the wound it was met with silence.
"Is it bad?" she asked.
"Are you sure that happened tonight?" asked Stiles.
"Of course I am, why?"
"It looks like it's been healing for a couple days now, at least. It definitely doesn't need stitches."
"But there's blood everywhere," said Allison.
"I can see that, but the bite doesn't - wait, where are you going?"
But she'd already crossed the room and opened his door and she disappeared into the hallway without responding.
"Don't wake my dad!" he hissed after her.
She returned a couple minutes later with a scowl. "That doesn't make any sense."
"Maybe it was a werewolf," suggested Stiles cheerfully, "how awesome would that be? Do you have super hearing? Or smell?"
Allison rolled her eyes. "Ha ha ha, you're hilarious. Fine, the hospital can wait, but I think we should get your dad. I tripped over that woman's body when I was running from that thing."
"I'm not sure," said Allison, "but I know where I came out of the forest and your dad knows where he found you, so if they narrow their search to the area between those points they should be able to find her faster."
"Fair. There's no point waking my dad though; there's nothing more they can do tonight. Joggers found the first half of the body, so I'll give you a ride home and 'joggers' can call in an anonymous tip on the second half. That way we don’t get grounded and everybody wins."
Allison sighed and shrugged and borrowed a shirt from him because the blood on hers was beginning to stiffen and make her uncomfortable. They drove to a gas station where Stiles used a pay phone to deliver what he thought was a very convincing performance of a terrified midnight jogger, and then he spent the entire ride back to her house rambling on about werewolves from various shows, comics, and movies, which would have been more entertaining for her if she hadn't been able to hear his heart beating and the blood rushing to and from it. It was like putting her ear against the opening of a sea shell; suddenly her only friend in Beacon Hills sounded like an ocean, and she was starting to get worried.
She climbed in through her window and discarded her clothes in favor of a robe so she could go clean her wound properly and take a shower, but when she checked it in the mirror again it was neatly scabbed with no sign of infection. She scowled and settled for the shower.
The moment she turned the knob she heard the water rushing through the pipes to answer her summons, and then it started hitting the porcelain floor of the tub like so much thunder. She felt like all that noise should have drowned everything else out, but if she focused she could still hear the click of the refrigerator as it came on downstairs and the ebb and flow of her parents breathing . She shook it off as an after-effect of the adrenaline that came from being chased through the woods, but when she lathered her hair with shampoo the smell was so overpowering that she had to try to hold her breath to keep from inhaling it, and even then she felt ill by the time she got back to her room. The moment she walked through her bedroom door, she caught a strong whiff of Stiles and froze. It took her a minute to realize that he hadn't somehow decided to come back and sneak in through her window, and that what she was smelling was his shirt, strewn in a corner along with her jeans. She buried the shirt at the bottom of her laundry, so it would be covered up by things that smelled like her, and tried to go to sleep.
It was lucky that she was exhausted or all the noises she'd never noticed before, both in her house and in the street outside, would have kept her up. As it was, she found herself wide awake the moment her parents started moving around the following morning. She listened to them, trying to imagine what each sound meant. She realized that she had no idea what they did before she met them in the kitchen for breakfast. She listened to them brushing their teeth together, and if she strained hard enough she could hear the low, indistinct thrum of their pulses.
Victoria finished brushing first and said, "You were late getting in last night." Allison worried for a moment, wondered if they were fighting or unhappy and she'd just been too wrapped up in herself to notice. "Did you run into trouble?"
Chris spat into the sink and turned the water off. There was a noise, like cloth across sandpaper as he wiped his face on a towel. "Couldn't find the damn thing. Found blood though, and human footprints running away."
"It bit someone?" Her mother had that tone she got when she found bugs or mold, like she was offended something so disgusting had the audacity to come near her. "Lovely," she sneered, "more vermin to hunt."
"Maybe," said Chris. "We checked the E.R. for animal attacks, but we didn't find anything. It's possible the blood was from an animal, and the human passed through separately."
"Or there's another Beta running around," said Victoria, and then, in a tone that was even more disgusted, “or an Omega.”
"Yes," agreed Chris, "or that. We'll keep an eye out. The full moon's on Saturday. The first change is always sloppy - if someone did get bitten, we'll find them then."
Victoria sighed and there was a soft noise, the whisper of skin over skin and skin over fabric as she hugged her husband. "It's too bad you can't just kill the thing before it ever has a chance to hurt anyone."
"Nous chassons ceux qui nous chasser," Chris chided gently.
Victoria made a disgruntled noise, and Allison got up.
She focused very hard on only listening to her own noises - the rush of her blood, the hammering of her heart, the fabric of her clothes sliding over her skin as she got dressed and moved around. She did her hair and makeup. She double-checked that the bathroom door was locked so she could check the bite on her side, but it was nearly gone and in several places the scab had vanished entirely to be replaced by an angry pink scar. She sat on the toilet and tried to come up with an explanation for her parents' conversation that had nothing to do with werewolves, or at least nothing to do with the terrifying notion that they hunted werewolves.
When that failed, she examined herself in the mirror to try and see if she was noticeably different, but nothing stood out. She was still pale and scrawny, still had the same brown eyes, but she couldn’t shake the terrifying notion that her parents would be able to sense that she was different somehow. She paced her room, restlessly stalling for time, and she was repacking her school bag for the third time when her phone started buzzing in her back pocket, startling her out of her skin.
"Do you need a ride to school?" asked Stiles without waiting for a 'hello.'
"Yes," said Allison emphatically. She didn't, actually - her dad was supposed to take her, but she wanted distance from both her parents to collect herself.
"I'll be there in five minutes." He sounded excited, but she didn't take the time to ask why.
She hurried downstairs and shoved pop tarts into the toaster even though she wasn't hungry.
"Oh honey, don't do that, I'll make you something." Victoria kissed Allison on the forehead and Allison gave her a smile.
"No, it's okay. Stiles said if I went to school early with him he'd show me the fastest way to all my classes so I don't get lost today. Can you let dad know?"
Victoria's eyebrows went up. "And when do we get to meet 'Stiles?'" She said his name like she didn't think it was a very good one, and Allison tried not to let it bother her.
"It's not like that," she assured her mother. The pop tarts popped and she wrapped them in a paper towel, kissing Victoria on the cheek as she grabbed her bag . "Love you!" She all but ran from the house.
"Have a good day!" Victoria called after her.
Stiles pulled up right as Allison got outside and she broke into a run and pulled herself breathlessly in his passenger seat. "Pop tart?"
Stiles made a pleased noise and took one. "So they found the body," he announced, "but not where you said it was. Your tip got the dogs on the scent trail though, and they followed it out to the Hale house, where - get this - they had to dig her up. They arrested Derek Hale this morning. I didn't even know he was back in town." Stiles took a giant bite out of the pop tart and Allison was treated to the disgusting noise that was a human chewing on something.
"Who's Derek Hale?" she asked.
Stiles was in his element. He loved telling stories, and he loved it even better when they were true, so he told her about the fire that had taken place six years ago at the Hale house and claimed ten lives. When he was finished she had no idea what to say, so she went with, "That's horrible,” even though it didn't really cover the scope of what had happened.
"Yeah," agreed Stiles, "and it must have left him pretty unhinged, because they IDed the dead woman as Laura Hale. His sister."
Allison didn't know what to do with that information either, so she offered him the other pop tart and he ate it.
"Do you always go to school this early?" she asked.
Stiles shrugged. "Not usually, but I was pretty wired so I got up early to listen in on my dad's radio. He was there when they dug her up."
"You-" Allison stopped herself and Stiles glanced over at her.
"That looks like a serious face. Are we doing serious faces now?"
"I need you not to laugh at me."
"Sure," agreed Stiles easily. "Or - wait, did I? Am I being reprimanded for previous laughter?"
"No. I need to tell you something, and I need you to understand that I'm being completely serious and I'm freaking out, and I need you to not laugh."
"Okay." Stiles sounded nervous. Not just the trepidation in his tone, but in the subtle change of his pulse as his muscles tightened and he braced himself.
"I think you were right. I know you were only joking, but I think you were right and it was a werewolf that bit me, and I think my parents hunt werewolves and I'm scared."
Stiles didn't say anything, stuck between his promise not to laugh, fear that he was being teased, and hope that she was both not lying and not crazy.
"The bite is almost completely gone, I'll show you when we get to school. And I can hear things and smell things. I know you've got a piece of mint mojito gum in your pocket. Where do you even get that stuff?"
"I get it when I get gas over by the video store, but I haven't done that in a month or so. I don't have any left."
Allison leaned over, ignoring his protests, and dug through his jacket pockets until she found it and handed it to him.
He stared at it for a moment and then popped it in his mouth to cover up the lingering taste of pop tarts. "Okay, so why do you think your parents hunt werewolves?"
Allison related the conversation she'd overheard that morning.
"Sorry, new sissy what?"
"Nous chassons ceux qui nous chasser. It's French. It means ‘we hunt those that hunt us.’"
"Well, that sounds promising. I mean, you don't want to hunt people, right?"
"No, of course not."
"Okay. Well, if they have that rule at all then it stands to reason that hurting people is optional, right? Except maybe on the full moon. But we can figure that out. And so far the other side effects seem awesome. Like super powers."
Allison didn't feel that 'awesome' accurately described her mother expressing a desire to murder her. "Last night wasn't a full moon," she pointed out.
Stiles thought about that. "Maybe you can change any time, but you only have to change on the full moon. Like in True Blood."
"You watch True Blood?" asked Allison.
Stiles shrugged. "Whatever, so we just keep you from hulking out this week, and then you tell your parents you're going to a sleepover on Saturday and we'll find somewhere to lock you up, just in case." Stiles smiled easily. "No problem."
They had their first class together, and when the bell rang she slid into the seat next to him and tried to focus on taking notes, only to discover that after repacking her bag three times, she'd forgotten to bring a pen. She mimed a request for one, but Stiles just shrugged apologetically and held up the one he was using, so she leaned forward to tap the shoulder of the girl sitting in front of her and said, "Excuse me, could I borrow-"
Which was when the girl turned around, long strawberry-blonde hair swinging over her shoulder and washing Allison in the scent of coconut shampoo (the kind people buy when they want to be reminded of beaches). She smiled with ruby red lips and arched a perfectly sculpted eyebrow and Allison's words failed her so she swallowed and mimed using a pen with her hand.
The girl turned away again for a second and then turned back and handed Allison a pencil, and Allison smiled at her until she caught movement out of the corner of her eye and turned to see Stiles pretending to puke at the expression on her face. She picked her jaw up off the floor and mouthed thank you and tried, once more, to focus on what the teacher was saying. An hour later, she and Stiles had slid out of class and into the stream of students in the hallways and she hooked an arm around his elbow.
"Who was that?" she asked. She didn't specify who she was talking about but then, she didn't think she needed to.
"Lydia Martin," replied Stiles sympathetically.
"I know," said Stiles.
"But is she-?"
"-exclusively attracted to pricks with dicks? Ding ding ding," said Stiles.
Allison whimpered and buried her face in his shoulder.
He patted her head awkwardly. "I know."
After school, Stiles dragged her back out to the woods to test out how well her hearing worked and they discovered that she had become stronger and faster too.
"This is great," he told her as he walked along the top of a fallen tree, "you're like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, only her powers came from a demon - do you think there are vampires too?"
"I don't know," said Allison.
"Buffy didn't do the transforming thing, but maybe we could solve crimes and stuff, and they'll name you Class Protector at the prom."
Allison laughed, but then she heard a noise - a twig cracking under pressure, and it didn't come from Stiles. She spun around to see a tall young man behind them wearing a dark leather jacket and a darker scowl. Stiles leapt off the tree to hit her arm and whispered, "That's him, that's Derek Hale."
"What are you doing out here?" demanded Derek, "This is private property."
"Sorry," said Allison, "We didn't know. We'll go. Come on, Stiles." She tugged Stiles' arm and he came along easily, though he glanced back several times as they went.
Stiles texted Allison later that evening to let her know that Laura Hale's official Cause of Death had been an 'animal attack,' and that Derek hadn't even been in town during the kill window, so he was definitely not the 'animal.' She didn't respond, so he finished his homework and went back to researching werewolves on his computer until he heard his dad come home.
"Have you eaten?" his dad called up the stairs.
"No," Stiles called back. He printed out a few more pages and tucked them in with his books to show Allison later before heading down to the kitchen.
"Can you clear us a couple spots at the table?" asked the Sheriff. "Without snooping?"
Stiles muttered something about paranoia and started stacking his dad's papers and police files to make room, but he got distracted by a giant evidence bag with a bunch of dirt and a plant inside. He picked it up to get a closer look and at first he thought it was some kind of really long vine, but then he realized that it was a rope with a bunch of flower buds woven into it. At the end was a large, fully bloomed plant with delicate purple flowers, and Stiles realized with a jolt that it was wolfsbane. There was a giant rope of wolfsbane in his kitchen. "What's this?" he asked.
"Nothing," said his dad. "It was planted around the grave we found Laura Hale in. We collected it when we collected the remains."
Stiles looked back down at the bag. "He must have spent a long time on this."
His dad looked up sharply. "What do you know about it? Do you know Derek Hale?"
"No. I mean, not exactly. Allison and I bumped into him in the woods earlier-"
"Damn it, Stiles, I told you not to go out there again! A woman just died out there. I want you to steer clear of that forest and this case, do you understand me?" He was angrier than Stiles had seen him in a long time. Usually Stiles' shenanigans were met with irritation and the occasional grounding, but this time his dad was properly pissed, and more than that, he looked scared. "Are you listening? I want you to promise me you'll stay out of the forest until this animal is caught."
"Yeah, yeah, got it. Calm down." Stiles set the bag aside and went back to clearing off the table.
He drove Allison to school again the following day and managed to wait a whole two minutes into the car ride before saying, "I think we should go see Derek Hale."
"Because he was so pleased to see us yesterday," said Allison. She glanced at Stiles and saw something in his face that she wasn't used to. A sort of intensity that didn't come from the excitement he got when he shared information. "Why?"
"My dad has this - um - well, it's wolfsbane. Derek buried his sister beneath a bunch of wolfsbane. And that's weird. So I want to take it back to him, and ask him if he knows anything about werewolves."
"Wolfsbane is supposed to be poisonous to werewolves though, isn't it?" asked Allison. "What if he 'knows about werewolves' the same way my parents do?"
"Well, luckily you're not wearing your 'Lycan and Proud' t-shirt today," said Stiles.
Allison agreed reluctantly and then spent most of the day nervously anticipating their planned visit to the Hale house. Chemistry provided a reprieve when she realized that her assigned lab partner was Lydia Martin. Allison was delighted to discover that Lydia was a genius, and that she could explain everything Allison didn't understand without making her feel dumb. They finished early and Lydia asked her about the places she'd lived before Beacon Hills, so Allison spent a few minutes rambling about catching frogs in Georgia and winning an archery competition in Texas and camping in Washington. With a little prodding, she got Lydia to confess a love of math, and Lydia ended up inviting her to a party on Saturday.
"Yeah," hedged Allison, "I'd love to. My parents can be kind of strict, but I'll try."
When she told Stiles about it on the way to his jeep after school, he threw her an incredulous look. "You know you can't go, right? Even if your parents did say yes?"
"Yeah. I'm not even going to bother asking, I just didn't want it to sound like I didn't want to."
They piled into the car and Stiles gave her another look as he buckled his seatbelt. "You know that attending parties with Jackson and Lydia usually equals watching Jackson and Lydia suck face?"
Allison shrugged helplessly.
"Just checking," said Stiles.
Allison waited in the car when Stiles stopped by his house to steal the evidence bag full of wolfsbane, and when he got back she said, "Not that it would stop you, but just so I know: this is illegal, right? Stealing evidence from an ongoing investigation?"
"It's not relevant to the case anymore, since Derek's been cleared," said Stiles.
"Was that a 'no?'" asked Allison.
"No, that was a rationalization," said Stiles, "but look at it. I think he must have spent a lot of time making it, and I think it means something. Maybe not for us, but to him."
Allison reached back and tugged the bag into her lap so she could study it up close. There was something sad about it, quite apart from the fact that she knew it had been created for a gravesite. The roots of the plants reached out from the rope, yearning for nutrients that they couldn’t get from what little loose soil remained in the bag. She started feeling queasy after a little while, so she replaced the bag on the back seat, folded her arms over her stomach, and leaned her head against the cool glass of the window. "He put it around the grave?"
"Yeah," said Stiles. "It's weird, but I don't know - if someone stole the flowers I left for my mom, I'd be pissed."
"You're sweet," Allison told him.
Stiles didn't reply, and he was uncharacteristically quiet throughout the drive. Allison opted not to push him or try to force a conversation since he rarely ever mentioned his mother and she wasn't really feeling up to having an intense talk about feelings.
She began to feel progressively worse as they drove on, like her skin was crawling, like the world was getting too close and she had no room to breathe. They were nearly to Derek's when she made a noise and Stiles looked over to see that she was leaning forward with an arm wrapped around her middle.
"Whoa, are you okay? Please don't puke in my car."
She glanced at him and heard his heart rate spike.
"Shit," he said, "Allison, your eyes are glowing. Are you shifting? Are you shifting in my car? You can't shift in my car!"
"I can't control it," she said, but her voice came out as more of a growl than anything.
"But why-" the evidence bag in the back caught Stiles' eye and he swore. He pulled over and jumped out, taking the wolfsbane with him so that he could throw it away from the jeep, but when he turned back around Allison was no longer in her seat. He swore again and looked around to see which direction she'd gone only to realize that she hadn't gone anywhere at all. She was standing in front of the car, almost completely shifted. Her face was unrecognizable and hair had gotten shorter and thicker and she was no longer discernibly female. He grossed himself out wondering if she'd grown extra nipples but he couldn't remember how many wolves were supposed to have.
"Allison?" he asked as he thought to himself that death by werewolf was at least cooler than 'choked on a salad.'
She growled, long and low and menacing, and he ran.
He was in shape from lacrosse but Allison had been on the track team at every school she'd attended for the last few years, and she was also a fucking werewolf. He didn't give himself great odds of getting out of this alive, but she was clumsy and unused to her new body which gave him a bit of a head start. He ran away from where he'd thrown the wolfsbane and since there was no chance of her not hearing him anyway, he shouted at her as he ran, "You don't want to eat me!"
It wasn't exactly dignified, but who was going to hear him anyway?
"I taste terrible, like gefilte fish, or what I imagine gefilte fish tastes like!" He'd never actually eaten gefilte fish because he thought it looked like something Professor Snape would keep in his office under the label 'for enemies.' "It would be really great if you could shift back now! Please?!"
He heard her feet pounding against the earth behind him, so it shouldn't have been so surprising when he was struck suddenly from behind and sent flying through the air, but he screamed anyway. He hit the ground hard and groaned. When he rolled over he found her circling slowly, and he climbed to his feet and turned with her so they remained facing one another.
"Allison?" he tried again. "I'm really sorry about the whole wolfsbane thing. You should probably post somewhere on the internet, for posterity, that wolfsbane and werewolves is a bad combo. And specify that it does not need to be ingested in order to cause trouble, because I don't think that was an unreasonable assumption on my part."
She snarled and charged and Stiles threw up an arm to shield his face only to have claws rip through it and wow that hurt. He gritted his teeth, preparing for more searing, horrible pain, but instead there was another growl and he got a blow to the ribs that made a sickening crunch and sent him sprawling to the ground. He kept his eyes closed for a moment, deciding that he really didn't need to see himself getting torn to shreds, but he didn't get attacked again even though he could still hear growling. When he finally looked up, he found that Derek Hale was suddenly standing between him and Allison. Derek Hale who had wolf claws and was considerably hairier than Stiles remembered. Oh god, he thought, they're fighting over who gets to eat me.
Allison snarled and Derek snarled back. She tried to circle around him to get at Stiles and he blocked her. Finally, frustrated, she charged and Derek used her momentum to flip her and pin her to the ground.
"Are you okay?" he asked, and Stiles was kind of thrown by that because Derek was fully shifted just like Allison, who was struggling and growling and trying to snap at his throat, but he sounded oddly calm. Like he'd just wandered out for a walk in the woods and happened to find someone to discuss the weather with.
Stiles looked down at his arm and felt his stomach flip because it was bleeding profusely. "Yeah," he said shakily. "I mean, it could be worse."
Derek turned his attention to Allison and started emitting a low, rumbling growl that Stiles could feel in his guts and in his aching ribs. Eventually Allison stilled and shifted back, and as soon as she was done Derek put a good five feet between them.
"What are you two doing back here?" he asked.
"Bringing you the wolfsbane my dad took," said Stiles.
Derek's eyebrows knit together. "Why?"
Stiles shrugged. "It seemed important, and like maybe you might know something about werewolves, and no one told me it would make her Hulk out."
"Yeah, it does that," said Derek.
"Thank you, your intel is both timely and appreciated," said Stiles. He thought maybe Derek smiled at him but he couldn't focus on anything very well.
"Come on, I've got a first aid kit in my car." Derek helped Stiles up and made him take off the button-up shirt he was wearing over his t-shirt so that they could wrap his arm in it. "Keep pressure on it and hold it above your heart," Derek instructed him. Stiles tried to do as he was told, but the attempt must have been pretty pathetic because Derek caught him and said, "Here, just put your arm around my neck." He helped Stiles walk and Allison trailed along behind them as they made their way up to the Hale house and Derek's car. Luckily it wasn't far, but Stiles was pretty dizzy by the time they got there. Derek propped him against the side of the car and reminded him to keep his arm elevated before disappearing to locate the first aid kit. Stiles slid down the side of the car until he was sitting and Allison crouched down in front of him.
"Stiles?" she whispered.
Her voice sounded shaky, like she'd been crying. He hoped she hadn't been crying. "Sorry about the wolfsbane," he said. "Are you okay?"
She made a noise that was sort of a laugh but mostly a sob.
"You don't sound okay," said Stiles, "Don't cry."
"Shut up, Stiles. I almost killed you."
"Nah, I'm fine," mumbled Stiles. "Derek saved the day. Did I thank him?"
He heard footsteps and Allison scrambled out of the way so that Derek could kneel in front of him and dress his arm in actual bandages, rather than his crusty, blood-soaked shirt. Stiles expected it to hurt more, but Derek's movements were gentle and practiced, and his calloused fingers wound the cloth around Stiles' arm with ease.
"Can you drive?" asked Derek.
"Right now?" asked Stiles, but then Allison said yes and Stiles realized Derek hadn't been talking to him.
"Take his keys and meet us at the hospital," Derek ordered, and Allison reached around to dig through Stiles' pockets to find them.
"Don't wreck my jeep," Stiles told her.
"I won't," she promised.
Stiles made it into Derek's passenger seat with an embarrassing amount of help from Derek, but the seats were comfortable and he leaned his head back and closed his eyes. When the car started, the radio played some bouncy hip-hop number and the bass made the car vibrate until Derek’s hand shot out to turn it down. Stiles laughed, because for some reason Derek listening to hip-hop in his leather jacket and his sleek black Camaro was funny.
"Thanks," he remembered to say.
"You too," said Derek.
"For what?" asked Stiles. "I'm pretty sure I'm just going to bleed all over your seats."
If Derek answered him, he wasn't awake to hear it.
When Stiles opened his eyes again, he was laying in a hospital bed. His arm didn't hurt as bad as it had before, and it had been re-bandaged again. He looked around to see Derek and Allison leaning against the wall to his right, but before he could say anything to them, he heard a familiar voice shouting outside the room and his stomach dropped.
“Dad-” He started trying to sit up but a warm hand on his shoulder pushed him back down and then it was gone, and Derek with it, out into the hallway to call Stiles' dad over.
“He's fine,” Derek announced, “he just woke up.”
The Sheriff burst into the room and Stiles was flooded with guilt at having put his dad on the receiving end of another phone call from the hospital.
“I'm fine, dad, really-”
"What the hell happened?" demanded the Sheriff.
Stiles opened his mouth but he had no idea what Derek and Allison had told the doctors or what the doctors had already told his dad.
“He fell,” said a new voice, and Derek moved out of the doorway and back over to the wall so that a doctor could come in. “Scraped up his arm pretty bad, lost a lot of blood, sustained minor fractures to a couple ribs, but Mr. Hale got him here in time.” The doctor smiled at Stiles. “I'm Dr. Fenris.” He explained that Stiles' stitches would fall out on their own as his arm healed and he had just started telling Stiles how to keep the wound clean when the door was thrown open again and Chris Argent was standing there, breathing heavily and wearing the sort of dangerous look animals get when you corner them.
Derek was halfway to blocking Chris from reaching either Allison or Stiles when Chris said, “Allison, come here now.”
Derek hesitated. He was balanced on the balls of his feet, fists clenched at his sides, watching Allison to wait for her reaction.
“Dad?” said Allison, and Derek retreated immediately. “What are you-”
“Now,” snapped Chris.
“Allison didn't do anything wrong,” said Stiles, “it was just a stupid accident.”
"Allison, now. Jim is driving you home," ordered Chris.
"Don't you dare 'but Dad' me," snapped Chris.
"Stiles-" began Allison.
"Stiles is fine," the Sheriff told her. "You can see him tomorrow at school, if he makes it that far after I'm done with him."
Stiles tried his best to be invisible.
Chris put his hand out toward Allison and watched Derek like a hawk as she crossed in front of him. Once she was within arm's reach, Chris pulled her out into the hall and Stiles, his dad, Derek, and the doctor all avoided one another’s gazes while they eavesdropped shamelessly.
"Take her home," ordered Chris.
"You want me to call you some backup?" asked Jim.
"No," said Chris, "we're just going to talk."
There was a pause, and then Chris reappeared, eyeing Stiles' bandaged arm before turning to Derek. "Can I speak to you privately?"
"He should really stay," blurted Stiles. "I mean I'm a little fuzzy about the whole falling thing because I - you know - fell, and I haven't even had a chance to thank him properly for saving my life and everything so-"
"Stiles," said Derek quietly, and Stiles stopped talking. Derek gave him a puzzled look and added, "I'll stop by again before I leave." He nodded for Chris to precede him out of the room and Chris backed up, refusing to turn away. Derek rolled his eyes and followed, and the door slid closed behind him. The room seemed to sag under the weight of the silence that followed their departure.
"So," continued the doctor, "when you take showers-"
* * *
Allison was still trying to decide where to rank the drive home from the hospital on her list of most awkward car rides ever when Jim said, "You okay kid?"
She looked up at him, and he was smiling at her so she tried to smile back. "Yeah, sorry, just…I was really scared that Stiles wasn't going to be okay. It's a good thing Derek was on his way over to kick him off his property."
He grunted at that, but then he got a phone call and answered it.
"Do you have her?" asked Victoria.
"Yeah," said Jim, "we're on our way to your house now."
"Is she okay? Hale didn't touch her?"
Allison clenched her jaw and looked out the window.
"No," said Jim, "she's fine. A little shaken. That friend of hers needed stitches though."
Victoria made a frustrated noise. "Is that enough for you to take Hale out now?"
"That's up to Chris, ma'am," said Jim. "He stayed behind to have a chat."
"Chat," spat Victoria. "I'm done chatting. We brought that creature here to kill it."
“Does Chris know that?” asked Jim.
“Bring my daughter home.”
"Yes, ma'am," said Jim, and he hung up the phone. "Your mother's glad you're okay."
Allison thought that was a pretty generous interpretation of the conversation. "He just fell," she said, "I wasn't even there. I don't understand why dad was so angry."
"Don't worry, kiddo, you're not in trouble. You just gave everyone a scare."
Allison turned back to the window.
* * *
"Stiles are you even listening to any of this?" asked the Sheriff.
Stiles was not. He was watching the door. "Can you go see if Derek wants us to treat him to dinner or something? Since he saved my life?"
"Or hey, I have to go to the bathroom-"
"No you don't," snapped the Sheriff, "will you calm down and listen to the doctor, please?"
"Please, I'll only be gone a minute-"
"What are you so worried about?" asked the Sheriff.
Stiles opened his mouth and closed it again. "They've been gone a really long time. What if he's beating the crap out of him in a dark corner?"
"Why would Hale beat the crap out of Argent?"
"No, other way," said Stiles.
"Okay, why would Argent beat the crap out of Hale?"
"I don't know," snapped Stiles, "maybe he wasn't hugged enough as a child."
Fenris sighed. "I'll just print out the instructions for you and give you a number to call if you have any questions."
"Thanks," said the Sheriff, and Fenris left. When the door slid shut behind him, the Sheriff continued, "Stiles, can you please explain to me what the hell is going on? Honestly?"
"I just don't think it looked like they were going to get on very well-"
"I'm not talking about Hale and Argent, I'm talking about you, in the woods, when I told you not to be. I'm talking about you needing stitches. You fell? Really?"
"Yeah," said Stiles, "it's not a big deal. It was an accident-"
"Did you get attacked by something?"
"No," said Stiles. And then, "Like what kind of a something?"
"I don't know. Anything. A person. Some kind of animal you've never seen before. Some weird combination of the two." He tried to make the last part sound like a joke but didn't do very well.
"Dad, are you trying to ask me if I got attacked by a werewolf?" asked Stiles.
"No," said the Sheriff with a laugh.
"Right," said Stiles.
“That would be ludicrous,” said the Sheriff.
They both gave a forced laugh and then it got quiet for a moment while his dad avoided looking at him.
"When you dug up Laura Hale she was wolf-shaped, wasn't she?"
"Yes she was," answered the Sheriff immediately, and his whole face flooded with relief at being able to say so.
"Great - so the Argents hunt werewolves and Derek's a werewolf and can you please go make up an excuse for Derek not to be alone with that guy anymore? He did save my life."
"'Hunt' as in-"
"With guns," said Stiles, "please go."
He found them in a stairwell. They weren't attacking each other, but Chris was crowding into Derek's space – at least as much as anyone could, since Derek wasn't the sort of person who backed away. Derek stared pointedly at the wall over Chris' shoulder with his jaw clenched and his fists curled into tight balls while Chris hovered close enough that his breath fluttered Derek’s collar. The Sheriff pushed the door open and leaned in. "Everything all right in here?"
"Yeah," said Chris genially. He straightened Derek's jacket, which the Sheriff personally thought was a pretty stupid thing to do if the look on Derek's face was any indication. "We were just discussing some private matters."
"Derek, my son won't shut up until you've agreed to let us treat you to dinner, and I'm fairly certain he won't take my word for it that I asked, so I'd appreciate if you went and talked to him yourself."
"Sure." Derek sidestepped Chris and slid past the Sheriff, back into the hall. Chris moved to leave as well, but the Sheriff blocked him and stepped into the stairwell, allowing the door to swing shut behind him.
"You're new to Beacon Hills, Mr. Argent, and I'd like you to feel welcome. I knew your parents when they lived here and they seemed like fine folks. But you should know I've got no room in this town for the sort of person who likes to threaten kids half his age. That young man has been through quite enough already."
Chris smiled. "We were just talking."
"Good. See that you leave it at that."
Stiles brightened the moment Derek walked in. "I may have told my dad you're a werewolf," he said, "but I think he probably already assumed that, since your sister was one. Also Allison texted me a minute ago - apparently her mom's pushing for them to kill you, so, you know, keep an eye out for that. Will you help her?"
"Kill me?" asked Derek.
"No, sorry, Allison. With her wolf thing."
Derek sighed, like there was a considerably longer answer to that question, but all he said was, "Yes."
Stiles grinned, and then it faltered for a second. "Is werewolf training private, or can I come too?"
"It's a pack thing,” said Derek, “but yes, you can come." Stiles beamed at him, and Derek almost looked over his shoulder to see if there was someone else in the room, but then the Sheriff returned and closed the door behind him.
"So. You fell?"
"No, I stole your big bag of wolfsbane and it made Allison wolf out."
"Allison's a werewolf? In a family of people that hunt werewolves?"
"She got bitten the other night when we were out looking for -" he stopped himself just short of saying 'the body,' and instead said, "- Laura."
"You mean the other night when you told me you were alone?"
Stiles opened his mouth and then closed it again. "I don't know, actually, I'm a little fuzzy - I lost a lot of blood today, maybe they didn't tell you. I almost died. It was very traumatizing."
Stiles related the events of the last two days, and when he was finished, the Sheriff glanced at Derek.
"Is he going to become - you know -?"
"No," said Derek. "If he'd been turned, he wouldn't have needed to come to the hospital. He'll probably be bonded to Allison for the rest of his life, though."
"Whoa, bonded? What the hell does that mean?" demanded Stiles. "I don't want to be bonded to Allison. We share the same taste in women and that's about as 'bonded' as I want to get."
The corner of Derek's mouth twitched. "It's not sexual. It's just a connection. It's not as strong as the bond created when you turn someone, but if she calls for you, you'll know it. If you're afraid, she'll know it. It'll also be easier for her to recognize you as part of her pack now, even if she's not in control when she shifts. Next time, don't run. Just get down and raise your chin."
"Bare my throat, you mean? To an angry out-of-control werewolf?"
"If you act like prey, you'll be treated like prey," said Derek.
Doctor Fenris returned then, with printouts and pain medication for Stiles, and the three of them fell silent.
* * *
"I don't want you hanging out with that boy anymore," said Victoria the moment Allison walked in the door.
"Because he fell and hurt his arm?" asked Allison.
"Because he hangs out with Derek Hale," said Victoria.
"How do you even know what that guy's name is?" demanded Allison, "And Stiles wasn't 'hanging out' with him, he was rescued by him, and it's a lucky thing too because he could have died out there!"
"Exactly, and what was he doing out there in the first place?"
"I don't know, probably trying to figure out what happened to that poor woman!"
Victoria rolled her eyes but she couldn't voice her opinion of Laura Hale, so instead she sneered, "So he's an idiot?"
"Well he's a sixteen-year-old boy, so yeah, sometimes he is!"
They glared at each other for a moment before Victoria reigned herself in and forced her voice down to a normal, if strained, speaking volume. "Allison, please just promise me you'll stay out of the forest. There's an animal out there attacking people."
"Fine. But I'm not staying away from Stiles." Allison turned around to head for the stairs.
Victoria sighed. "I'm going to start dinner soon-"
"I'm not hungry," snapped Allison. A couple moments later Victoria flinched when Allison slammed her bedroom door.
"Chris says the doctor backed up the fall story," said Jim, "It doesn't look like Hale infected the kid, but we'll keep an eye on him."
Allison fell back onto her bed and covered her face with a pillow and tried not to remember the way Stiles' blood smelled.
* * *
Derek stood just inside the door of the Stilinski kitchen with his shoulders hunched and his hands in his pockets and refused the glass of water that he was offered. When the Sheriff asked him what he wanted on his pizza, he deferred to Stiles, who was on pain medication and would probably have eaten anything that was put in front of him, so the Sheriff ordered two large meat-lovers and decided to stop asking Derek to make himself comfortable.
"Sit down." He tried not to make it sound like they were beginning an interrogation, except that they kind of were. Derek took the seat across from Stiles, who smiled goofily at him, and the Sheriff sat at the end of the table.
"Do you know who bit Allison?"
"No," said Derek.
"Do you know who bit you?" asked Stiles.
Derek glanced over at him, surprised, "I wasn't bitten. I was born a werewolf."
"Awesome,” said Stiles with a grin.
Derek didn't seem to know how to handle that response, so he focused on Stiles' dad instead. "The Alpha's moves so far haven't made any sense. It's possible that they were never part of a pack and aren't clear on what it is they're supposed to be doing. The bite isn't meant to be handed out easily, or forced. It bonds you to the person you've bitten, binds them into your pack. But newly made wolves are-" Derek tried to find a word, but eventually just said, "-they're never left alone like that. To survive, to prevent from endangering their pack by catching the attention of hunters, they have to learn a lot of things very quickly. Things I've known my entire life. Biting Allison was foolish. Especially given that Saturday is the full moon."
"Will you be able to keep her from hurting anyone?" asked the Sheriff.
"If I can keep the hunters from getting near us. They'll be watching me. They'll be watching Stiles too."
The Sheriff nodded and set that aside as something to think on later.
"So Allison's bonded to this Alpha person? Would she be able to lead us to them?" asked the Sheriff.
"It's possible. But she doesn't know what she's doing. She'll need better command over her abilities, and control over her wolf. Once we get past the full moon, I can work with her on that."
"And I can come?" asked Stiles, like he was afraid Derek might have changed his mind since the hospital. His dad and Derek both turned to look at him and he tried to smile like it wasn't a big deal.
"Of course," said Derek. And then, "It'll be boring sometimes."
Stiles grinned again. "Great!"
"Where are you staying?" asked the Sheriff.
"My house," said Derek, as if that should have been obvious. Given that he'd been on hand to save Stiles, perhaps it should have been.
The Sheriff stared at him. "Really? I mean - there are two hotels in town-"
Derek shuddered. "Hotels are gross enough for people who can't smell every previous visitor in the mattress. Besides, both the hotels in Beacon Hills are owned and operated by hunters. They like to keep an eye on travelers."
"We've got a spare room," volunteered Stiles.
"My house is fine," said Derek.
"That's not what the sign at the end of your road says."
"Stiles," said the Sheriff firmly, "drop it."
When the pizza arrived they moved to the living room to watch Evil Dead 2 (at Stiles' insistence, though he kept talking over the movie to ask Derek questions about werewolves), and when they'd finished eating the Sheriff paused the movie and said, "So how does your sister fit into all this?"
Derek's voice was soft and low when he said, "I don't know. She came back here to investigate the fire. I didn't -" He had to stop for a moment and collect himself, but then he said, "By the time I found her the scent of whoever had killed her had been washed away. Maybe the Alpha did it. Maybe the Argents did it and made it look like an animal attack. I don't know why they -" he had to stop again. “I don't know why anyone would have killed Laura. She wouldn’t have challenged a local Alpha and she never violated the Argents’ code.”
"I'll ask the M.E. to take a closer look," said the Sheriff.
“Thanks,” said Derek.