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 When a magician waves his hand and says, "This is where the magic is happening." The real trick is happening somewhere else. Misdirection.

~ "Now You See Me", 2013

 

The magic shop is garish and too brightly colored, its sign dwarfing its smaller, humble neighbors. It should look out of place on the quiet Main Street of Beacon Hills, but it doesn’t; it’s cheery storefront brightens the entire street and looks full of life, like it’s been there for ages. Yet it has no place at all in Derek’s own childhood memories. The coffeeshop on the corner is still there, as is the ice cream parlor, and the diner, and the movie theater— but this new shop that proclaims “MAGIC FOR ALL AGES” in its window is rather jarring.

Genavieve doesn’t seem to think so, though.

“Daddy, can we go? It looks like so much fun!”

“Sure, honey.”

Derek lets his daughter lead him by the hand, walking down the street.

Moving back to Beacon Hills was— still is— a good decision, he thinks. He’s still got his family’s old property, and has made most of it livable for himself and little Gena. Derek will have to do the proper introductions to the Alpha of the territory soon, but they just moved in today, they’re tired from unpacking, and he wants to take his little girl around town for a little while. Relax. And if she wants to go look at magic tricks, that’s fine with him.

“Just remember, it’s not real magic, so don’t expect stuff like Auntie Serena’s…”

“Psh, I know!” Gena lets go of his hand and skips ahead, darting into the magic shop.

Derek shakes his head. Seven years old and she already doesn’t need him anymore. He pushes inside the store behind her, listening to the bell tinkle.

The store is cramped and smells strongly of dust.

“Gena!” Derek calls out. He can’t see her anywhere. He walks into the store and nearly topples over a stand containing a bunch of playing cards, and then a rack filled with costumes seems to come out of nowhere.

This is the weirdest magic store he’s ever been in. He walks by a bin filled with scarves, and somehow one latches on to his shirt front. Derek yanks at it, trying to get it off, but it doesn’t seem to end. Somehow he gets tangled in all the scarves. He looks ridiculous in the rainbow of hues, and he tries to bat the scarves away, but he swears he can almost hear them laughing at him, but that can’t be right. It must be some sort of static electricity gone haywire.

“Hello? Is anyone here?”

Derek doesn’t get an answer. He manages to pull the scarves off him, and nearly walks into a bookshelf that just toppled over by itself, blocking his path. Huh. Must be unstable. Derek glares at it, walking in the other direction, and sees a curtained off alcove. There’s a faint glow coming from the room behind it, and he scowls. Trust Gena to have wandered into some employee only area on her first day in Beacon Hills and start playing with some glow-in-the-dark paint or something.

“Gena!” Derek whispers, pushing aside the curtain.

Gena has her back to him, and is clapping with delight. In front of her is a gorgeous man smiling from ear to ear, a cluster of orange lilies sprouting from his hands, his face lit by the soft glow of the petals.

The man catches sight of Derek and he blinks in surprise. The flowers disappear in a flash of light, leaving a faint trace of ozone in the air.

Like the smell of actual magic.

“Magic, Daddy!” Gena says, jumping up and down excitedly. She turns to tug on Derek’s pants leg, and Derek picks her up automatically.

“Uh huh, yeah, magicians never tell their secrets,” the man says nervously. “Your girl surprised me while I was working on something, but she did offer her input on the color.”

“You forgot blue, Mr. Stiles,” Gena says accusingly.

“Ah, well, you didn’t say blue, but you are a child after my own heart, because orange and blue together are the color of the Mets, and they are the best baseball team ever, and I would love to make you some orange and blue flowers.” Stiles— Stiles? what kind of name is that? — smiles at Gena and puts his hands behind his back, and then returns with a bouquet of silk orange and blue lilies. He offers them to Gena, and she giggles and takes them, burying her face shyly in Derek’s chest.

The flowers in her hand look like ordinary silk flowers, conjured out of some sleight of hand. But what Derek saw earlier— he’s almost certain that this Stiles knows actual magic. But he’s never seen anyone waste time on parlor tricks before— he’s knows that magical energy is difficult to come by, and anyone he’s known with the talent has only ever used it for practical purposes, or to protect the pack.

“Well, I’ve already met the lovely Princess Gena,” Stiles says. “You must be the king, traveling through hereabouts from a distant kingdom.” He bows to Derek as well, waggling his eyebrows playfully. He draws a silk rose out from behind his back. “Perhaps a rose to take home to your queen mother?”

Gena laughs. “I don’t have a mother, I was made out of ma—” Derek claps down on her mouth just in time. He isn’t sure how much of a novice at actual magic Stiles is, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution on revealing the extent of the supernatural world. Derek’s always been honest with his daughter about her origins, and it’s one of her favorite bedtime stories, but he doesn’t need her sharing it with everyone— Derek had met a party of fae in his travels, and had helped them out of a tough situation. One of the fae had offered to give him a gift, his heart’s greatest desire; at the time Derek had been thinking about his family and how he wanted that again. The fae had nodded and a moment later, offered him a small bundle, a twitching baby that smelled like pack.

“A surrogate, uh, Gena, I, um, from a surrogate, she doesn’t really understand,” Derek mutters hastily, just as Gena pulls Derek’s hand away and yells out happily, “Magic!”

“Oh. Awesome,” Stiles says. “Well, I can just give this to you then, fair princess.” He hands the rose to Gena, who clutches it with the rest of her lilies.

Stiles grins and bows graciously. “And good king, may I have the honor of your name?”

Derek already had his hand out prepared to shake, but Stiles just takes it and places a chaste kiss on the back of his hand. “I’m— I’m Derek,” Derek manages, but just barely.

Heat pools in Derek’s cheeks, he’s been flirted with before, but this is— this is a kiss on the hand, he shouldn’t be getting all flustered like this. Before he can react, though, Stiles jumps back and says “My liege,” grabbing a hat off a nearby shelf. He closes his eyes in concentration, reaching into a hat and plucking a confused looking rabbit out of it. He steps forward, holding the twitching rabbit aloft, and Gena coos delightedly, reaching for it.

“Bunny!”

“Ah, you already got a present,” Stiles says, taking a step back. “This one is for my king.” He makes another sweeping bow with the rabbit in his arms, grabbing a handkerchief off the table, and draping it over the rabbit in his palm. He makes a dramatic gesture and pulls the handkerchief off again, and there’s a simple black business card in his hand and a handful of glitter.

Stiles holds out the card to Derek, who takes it. Stiles Stilinski, CEO., PROPRIETOR and MAGICIAN at Magical Magics and Magick Emporium in a plain white font. Underneath is listed the address of the store, and business hours.

“But the bunny…” Gena whines.

Stiles grins and holds up a hand and points.

Derek feels a weight on his head. “No.”

Stiles nods.

“You… you put the bunny on my head,” Derek says, freezing. Gena reaches for it, plucking it out of his hair, and cuddles it to her chest.

“You are the best magician ever,” Gena whispers fiercely.

“Every Friday at eight I have a show at the theater down the street. You’re welcome to stop by, if you’re in town that long,” Stiles says, winking at Gena. “I’m gonna need Mr. Flufferbottoms back, though.”

Gena dutifully hands the rabbit back to Stiles, who pets it adoringly.

“We just moved here!” Gena pipes up excitedly. “We can come see you every Friday!”

Stiles looks surprised for a moment, but then he smiles politely. “Well, welcome to Beacon Hills. It was a pleasure meeting you both.” He bows again. “Your majesties.”

Gena wriggles out of Derek’s arms and he sets her down before she falls, and she curtsies back eagerly. She’s been going through a bit of a princess phase for awhile, but recently has been kind of shy about it, and almost didn’t wear her fluffy pink tutu out today. Derek really appreciates Stiles playing along, the last time Gena wore her princess outfits outside some stranger had made a face and told her she needed to grow up soon, and she had moped about it for weeks, not touching any of her princess things.

On the way back home, Gena won’t stop talking about the magic shop or playing with her flowers. It’s her favorite thing about Beacon Hills so far.

Later, Derek finds inside his wallet a pair of tickets for this Friday’s magic show. He shakes the glitter out of his wallet, wondering when Stiles had time to place the tickets inside. Derek had definitely kept an eye on him the entire time— no magician is that good.

He’s already pretty sure Stiles is the real thing, though.

 


 

Scott McCall is nothing like any Alpha Derek’s ever met before. He greets Derek with a huge hug and a wide smile. “Dude! I’m so excited you’re here. Deaton said a Hale hasn’t been back here in like, a decade. It’s an honor, really.”

He’s younger than Derek by a few years, probably in his late twenties, and at first glance is full of positive energy and what seems to be naivete. However, a few minutes of conversation about the history of Beacon Hills, and very quickly ensures him of the capability of the young Alpha. Derek’s heard the rumors before, about this Alpha and Emissary duo, how they and their unusual pack have handled trolls, a nest of spidren, a pixie invasion, a whole pack of Alphas, and even successfully negotiated with supernaturals that are notorious for shunning alliances— vampires, wendigos, ifrits.

Scott wears the leadership well, and he seems genuinely happy to welcome Derek into the pack, and bounces up and down when Derek talks about opening his family’s vault to share the tomes of supernatural lore in there.

“My Emissary will totally love that! You should tell him at the pack barbeque Saturday. We’re all just super excited, especially my son, he’s been wanting a friend in the know for so long— how old is yours again?”

“My daughter is seven,” Derek says.

“Jimmy’s four, but I’m pretty sure that won’t matter, he’s already made her like, five presents. Here.” Scott hands Derek a few sheets of paper, covered in crayon drawings of two kids with wolf ears and fangs.

Derek laughs, taking the drawings. “I’m sure she’ll appreciate it.”

Scott eyes the wolfed-out children in the drawing. “Oh man, we’re gonna be in trouble once they start shifting, huh.”

“Well, that won’t be until puberty, we have some time,” Derek says. “I mean, Gena might not be a werewolf, but we’ll see.” Usually children of werewolves present during their adolescence, and it isn’t unusual for a werewolf couple to have a human child. He has no idea how fae magic works, though.

Scott grins. “Either way, puberty is gonna be a riot. I mean, my wife’s a kitsune, so we have no idea what we’re in for.”  

And then it’s easy— Scott and Derek pull out photos of their children, talking about their antics for awhile, and then Scott talks about the expectations of the pack, and all of Derek’s nerves about moving back to Beacon Hills disappear. This… this is going to be good. Meeting Scott in person and actually talking to him makes the epic stories of Alpha McCall less intimidating.

Scott talks about the rest of his pack proudly and Derek’s not so sure he finds them more or less daunting, now.

“Is it true that Emissary Przemysław once froze an ifrit where he stood? I mean, I heard ifrits have eternal flames, and they don’t go so easily—”

“Ahahah, yeah, Parrish, um, was trying to light the bonfire but he didn’t really have control and missed the fire pit, and almost took the forest down, but it wasn’t a big deal, just a little ice to cool him down—” Scott glances at his phone. “Oh, I’m sorry! I have to go pick up Jimmy at his grandparents. I’ll see you at the pack barbeque, okay?”

And another hug and then Scott is gone. Derek waves him goodbye, feeling good about the pack situation. He hasn’t met any of the others yet, and it does sound like Emissary Przemysław is just as powerful as the stories say, but they’ll all be on the same side, so there isn’t anything to be worried about.

Derek has a sudden, fleeting thought. Stiles is a magic user— is he just learning, playing at making flowers grow for children? Does the local Emissary know? Would they think he’s a threat?

Derek— Derek has to warn him.

 


 

There isn’t a phone number on the business card, so Derek heads right for the shop. The sign says closed, but he can hear a heartbeat inside. He knocks rapidly on the door. “Hello? Hello! Stiles!”

A moment later Stiles opens the door, looking somewhat amused. “Ah, King Derek. Without the princess today. How can I help you? Store is closed today, I’m afraid.”

“I— I need to talk to you about something.”

“Okay…” Stiles beckons him in the shop.

It’s cramped as before, today with a cloying scent of rosemary coming from the back room. “The other day, you, ah, with the flowers that you made for Gena—”

“I’m not telling you my secrets, man, magician’s code.” Stiles folds his arm.

“No, that’s not what I meant, not the silk ones with the slight of hand, the glowing ones. That you conjured with magic. Real magic.” Derek pauses to see Stiles’ reaction. Maybe it wasn’t intentional— that happens sometimes, he’s heard, people manifesting their magic out of emotion, and maybe Stiles doesn’t realize that’s what’s happening.

“Oh?” Stiles looks amused, more than anything.

“I mean it, it might— it might not be safe. I don’t know if you’re just starting out but this territory— I hear this territory has a really powerful magic user already, and they might not like—” Derek tries to lay out his concerns, but Stiles just holds up his hand.

“Wait a minute. Are you… worried about me?” Stiles grins cheekily at him.

“I… yes.”

“You are the most adorable werewolf I’ve ever met. Come to dinner with me.”

“Wait, how did you know I’m a…?”

Stiles shrugs. “I’ve a knack for these things.”

He must be even more powerful than Derek had thought. There really isn’t a way to tell supernaturals apart by sight, not if they aren’t shifted. There are a few complex ways to heighten senses or wards that could be set up to set off an alarm, but Derek’s quite impressed that Stiles might know how to do any of those. Or that he could have guessed. But Derek’s more concerned now. All the stories about Emissary Przemysław that he’s heard— from the other side of the country, even— is that he’s incredibly powerful and won’t tolerate any threats to his pack— he ran a Darach out of town a few years ago, from what Derek heard.

He doesn’t want Stiles to have to leave. They’ve only just met.

Derek shakes himself and tries to get back on track. He came here to warn Stiles, maybe to hide his magic better but—

“So?”

“What?” Derek blinks.

Stiles saunters forward. “I asked you to dinner? How about it? I’m free tonight.”

“I, uh—” yes, Derek’s mind screams— he hasn’t been attracted to anyone like this in years, and he would love to go out on a date with Stiles, but— he’s a parent, and he’s got responsibilities. “I have to pick up Gena from her first day of school, and I promised her I’d make her favorite, barbeque chicken mac’n’cheese.”

“That sounds awesome. You should totally do that. Um, you two are coming to the show tomorrow, right? How about dinner afterwards?” Stiles looks up at him hopefully.

“The show ends at eight, that’s about Gena’s bedtime, and she doesn’t fall asleep unless I tell her stories.”

Stiles scrunches up his face. “Okay, uh, Saturday! Oh you can totally bring Gena, I’m having lunch with my friends in the park at noon, it’ll be like a potluck, and you just moved here so you can meet everyone!”

Derek’s heart sinks a little. He’s supposed to meet Scott’s pack at that time. “I can’t.”

Stiles’ face falls a little. “Uhh… next week?”

“Anytime after school isn’t good, I’m busy picking up Gena and making her dinner and getting her to bed, and we just moved here so I haven’t gotten a sitter yet, and next weekend I think she’s starting her karate lessons—”

“Oh. Okay, then, um. I get it,” Stiles says in a flat voice. He smells strongly of disappointment. “You could have just said no if you weren’t interested.”

That’s not the case at all, Derek’s just busy, but before he can explain, a strange looking cuckoo-clock bursts open on his right, chiming three times. It’s three o’clock already, he needs to get to the elementary school. “I’m sorry,” Derek says. “I’ll see you at the show, um, Gena’s looking forward to it.”

Stiles waves him off. “Yeah, okay. See you around.”

Derek rushes out the magic shop, feeling awful.

 


 

Gena loves Beacon Hills, she loves her new school, she already is rattling off at least five (or more?) different names of kids who she declares are all her new friends, and most of all, she loves Stiles and his magic.

The first night back she won’t stop talking about the tricks, or the flowers, or how cool the shop is, and even while she does her homework (why do second graders have homework?) she won’t keep quiet.

“He made those flowers for me, Daddy, he didn’t even laugh when I said orange and blue.”

And then on Friday night when they actually do watch the show, Gena sits on the edge of her seat, wide eyed and enthralled.

Stiles as a magician is kind of ridiculous. He does the usual things— connecting metal rings, making bunnies appear, handing out flowers to audience members— but he dances about the stage in tight black pants and a shirt unbuttoned just on the right side of decent, smirking and laughing with the audience. It’s a good show, nothing Derek hasn’t seen before by any run-of-the-mill magician, but Gena is absolutely captivated. She gasps and squeals every time Mr. Flufferbottoms appears, and jumps up when the curtain falls and Stiles makes his final bow.

“Can we go say hi, please please?”

“It’s already quite late,” Derek says. He doesn’t tell her that he caught Stiles’ eye earlier and he’d just looked so sad to see Derekthat he doesn’t have the courage to go see him right now. Maybe once he’s settled and has a regular babysitter for Gena or something, he can actually try ask for a proper date. “Come on, let’s go home.”

Derek takes his daughter’s hand, and they turn to leave the small community theater. Stiles is already surrounded by well-wishers, people congratulating him for a good show. It’s fine.

~

Saturday is bright and sunny, and Derek is in the kitchen trying to fix the cupcakes he’s bringing to Scott’s party. Gena has already eaten way too much frosting, and is trying her best to “decorate” the rest of the cupcakes, pouring the entire bag of sprinkles on everything. Derek shakes off the excess sprinkles and puts all the cupcakes in a tray, wipes Gena’s face one more time.

“Alright, you ready?”

Gena nods, twirling around. She’s wearing an all black outfit today, and has finagled a bowtie from somewhere. From princesses to magicians, Derek shakes his head. He’s just happy she has interests.

The park is filled with groups of people laughing and enjoying spending time together, the sounds of laughter echoing in the air, bright happy scents mingled with the delicious crackle of grilling meat. Scott had said the pack would be by the north end, so Derek just heads there, holding the cupcakes steadily in one hand and Gena’s hand in the other.

He spots Scott in the parking lot, though, carrying bags of ice. “Hey, Derek!” Scott says warmly. “And you must be Gena. Hello there!”

“Hello,” Gena says shyly, ducking behind Derek’s legs.

“Don’t worry, you won’t be the only kid at the party, my son Jimmy has been really excited to meet you!”

“He drew me the pretty pictures,” Gena says. “I made him a special cupcake. Look!” She points at one of the cupcakes in the tray, decorated with a clumsy “J” out of sprinkles.

“Aw, I’m sure he’ll love it,” Scott says. “Come on, party’s this way.”

“I’m looking forward to meeting everyone,” Derek says as he follows Scott.

“You look nervous. Don’t be nervous! I know there are um, a lot of stories about us? But we’re really normal, I promise.”

Derek nods.

A chubby black-haired boy toddles up to them. “Dad! Dad! Is this them? Is it? Is it?”

Scott chuckles and shifts all his ice bags to one shoulder, ruffling the boy’s hair. “Jimmy, this is Gena, and her dad, Derek. They’re gonna be part of our pack.”

“YEAAAAAAAAH!” Jimmy shouts, and launches himself at Gena in a hug.

Derek lets go and laughs as Gena hugs him back good naturedly, then taps him on the shoulder, shouting, “You’re it!”

The kids run off, shouting and laughing.

“Well, that’s a good start,” Derek says.

“Yeah!” Scott says eagerly. They’ve arrived at a set of picnic tables, and he plops the ice down next to a cooler filled with sodas. “Ah, that’s Allison and Lydia over there filling up water balloons, my wife Kira is at the grill, as you can see—”

Derek tries to remember the names to who Deaton’s explained to him who everyone is, and also match them to the stories he knows about them— the Codemaker, the Banshee, the Thunder Kitsune.

“Just, ah, my Emissary’s in a bit of a funk recently, he said he’d be late,” Scott says. “Oh! You haven’t noticed any new omegas in town recently? He said there was another werewolf unaccounted for, but I haven’t smelled anyone new.”

Derek shakes his head, but it’s possible there’s another omega werewolf in town that he doesn’t know about. He’s been busy getting settled and taking care of Gena and thinking about Stiles; it wouldn’t surprise him if he hadn’t noticed. And if Emissary Przemysław says there’s another werewolf, there must be.

Derek sets the cupcakes down, taking a deep breath. “You want me to go find them?”

Scott shakes his head. “No, no, I mean, I don’t think they’re a threat, like he said they were cool, actually it sounded like he wanted them to be part of the pack. I told him we weren’t ready for that yet, at least not till we get you and your daughter settled, maybe in another full moon? And then he just scowled at me and said, ‘No, Scott, we need more ice,’ even though I know he knew I had some in my car.” Scott sighs.

Derek has no idea what to say to that, but at that moment Gena and Jimmy come back to the picnic table, shouting excitedly.

“Dad! Daddy! I wanna give Jimmy his cupcake!”

“Cupcake!”

“It’s that one!”

“Oooooh!”

Derek picks up the tray and sets it atop the cooler on the table, out of reach of the children.

Scott laughs. “Good call, man.”

Gena suddenly takes off running, shouting enthusiastically. “Mr. Stiles! Mr. Stiles!”

Derek whirls around, and sure enough, Stiles is walking towards them, carrying a bag of ice and blinking in surprise at Derek. Gena hugs him round the knees, giggling. “Are you here for the party? Did you bring Mr. Flufferbottoms?”

“Uh, yes? And no, Fluffers is at home… and… Derek? Gena? Um… hi?” Stiles looks down at Gena, who detaches herself from his legs and starts tugging on his shirt, leading him forward. Stiles follows, setting down the bag of ice and raises his eyebrows at Scott.

“Oh good! You’ve met already,” Scott says, beaming.

“Wait, you’ve met?” Stiles glances from Derek to Scott, confused.

“You know the Alpha of Beacon Hills?” Derek asks, equally confused, looking from Stiles to Scott.

Stiles turns to Derek. “How do you know him? I was going to introduce you and see if you could join our pack!”

“Derek Hale, remember I told you a Hale legacy is coming back to Beacon Hills, and you were like, awesome, can’t wait to get in that vault?” Scott rolls his eyes at Stiles.

Derek stares, trying to put the pieces together. “Wait, you’re Przemysław?”

Stiles blushes. “Ah, no one calls me that, outside of those silly stories that people tell about us. Wait— you pronounced it correctly!”

“Mr. Stiles, Daddy was sad he couldn’t go to dinner with you,” Gena whispers loudly, tugging on Stiles’ pants leg.

Stiles looks up at Derek. “So the reason you couldn’t come hang with me and my friends today… is because you were already hanging with me and my friends?”

“It sounds silly when you say it like that,” Derek says awkwardly. “But, yes. I like you. I want to date you. I would have said yes, if um, I didn’t have other plans. That were apparently already with you, but…”

Stiles’ whole expression lights up, and there’s a faint glow emanating from the ground at his feet.

“Flowers!” Gena exclaims, rushing to look at the blooms sprouting furiously from the grass.

“Stiles! We’re in public! Put them out,” Scott says, rushing to stand in front of the glowing magical display, shielding them from view.

“Can you make me purple ones, Uncle Stiles?” Jimmy asks, joining Gena on the ground to poke at the flowers.

“Ah, I’m sorry,” Stiles says sheepishly. “Just got excited for a moment. That’s, um, that’s good to hear, Derek. I... like you too.”

Derek grins at Stiles, who just smiles back, and they stand there, smiling at each other. He has no idea for how long, but it feels wonderful and exciting at the same time, and he can’t wait to start.