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A blue Prius pulled up outside the Martin home and Lydia stepped out. Her hair had dimmed from fire red to dark ribbons with the fading of the light, but she was still gorgeous. She glanced up at the mostly set sun and frowned before heading inside.

Cloudy white eyes watched from the bushes across the street as the car's lights blinked when the doors were locked, as Lydia entered the house through the front door and light spilled onto the front steps for a brief moment. They waited until a new light turned on upstairs, the one for Lydia's bedroom. Then they darted across the street and scurried up the wall of the house, until they were perched just outside of Lydia's window.

Lydia was sitting at her desk, and printed pages laid out before her written in a dead language. She held a red pen in her right hand and curled her red hair around the index finger of her left hand. Looking almost bored, she began to notate in English around the edges of the printed page.

The eyes had been watching all day. They saw her with the alpha wolf and his boyfriend, heard her called 'Lydia' as she left. She had met with a boy called 'Stiles,' who had given her the pages she was now reading and had hugged her before she left and called her his queen.

They all smelled the same – a pack. To do anything in this town would be to face the pack. It would start with her.

The window eased open silently.

Inside, Lydia stopped writing, even leaving a word unfinished. Her finger stopped twirling her hair. She lifted her eyes to the wall her desk sat against, to the decorative clock hands set forever at 1:50 against the purple of her walls. She set her pen down, frowning. Then, slowly, she turned her head to the window.

Now was the time to act. Lydia's face contorted in disgust for a brief moment, then fear as the thing with cloudy white eyes darted inside. But it was too late even to scream.

Just as Allison pulled into a parking spot at school, she caught sight of Isaac walking onto campus. She cast her eyes around for Scott, but he wasn't anywhere in view. His bike was already parked on the side of the school though, so he was here. Shaking her head, Allison quickly grabbed her things and slid out of her car. Isaac could answer her question as easily as Scott could, probably.

"Isaac!" she called after him.

He must not have heard her because he kept walking. Allison sped up but only caught him after he was already inside the school. She landed a hand on his shoulder briefly to catch his attention and he turned around. He smiled when he saw who it was.


Allison smiled too and pushed her hair behind her ear. Isaac was really cute when he smiled. If she weren't with Scott, Allison would probably be trying to date Isaac instead.

"Hi," she responded. "So, I had a question about Thanksgiving. I know we've all been pretty cool with each other, but I'm not thinking my dad would be okay spending the holiday with the pack, so I'll spend the day at Scott's and then go home to have dinner with my dad. Does that work?"

Isaac was living with Scott and his mom still, so he would know their plans. She knew that Stiles and his dad were coming over, and that Scott had invited the entire pack for lunch. Allison had no idea what Lydia planned to do, but that would be her next stop. It was the Friday before Thanksgiving Break, after all, so this was the easiest time to coordinate plans.

"Why would I know?"

The question was asked innocently enough, but then Isaac turned and walked off before Allison could respond. She frowned. That was unlike him. Had she done something? Was there another pack in town again?

Worrying the whole way, Allison made her way through the halls until she found Scott standing by his and Stiles' lockers. Stiles either wasn't there yet or had gone off somewhere already because Scott was alone.

He beamed when he saw her. It always looked like the sun coming out after a cloudy day and it was one of the things Allison loved about him.

"Allison. Good morning," Scott greeted. Then he must have gotten a whiff of her because he frowned. "What's wrong? What happened?"

She shook her head. "Nothing happened. I'm fine," she assured him. "I was just talking to Isaac about Thanksgiving and he seemed….off. I was wondering if he was alright. Was he okay when you guys left the house this morning?"

Scott, still frowning, shrugged. "I don't know," he admitted. Before Allison could ask how that was, he continued, "Isaac was gone by the time I woke up."

Now Allison was frowning. "That would explain why he walked to school, I guess, if he was off doing something this morning. But that's not like him. Has another pack come to town or something?"

"No," Scott said with a shake of his head. He sniffed a few times. "Allison, are you sure nothing happened to you this morning?"

Furrowing her eyebrows, Allison said, "Yes. Why? What's wrong?"

Scott averted his eyes, instead rummaging around in his locker, though it was obvious he wasn't actually trying to find anything. "N-nothing. It's just…You kind of…smell? It smells like bad eggs."

Allison's jaw dropped open in indignation and shock. She didn't bother to smell herself. She knew she'd showered that morning and that nothing in her entire home smelled the bad eggs. If anything, she smelled like cedar wood.

At her prolonged silence, Scott chanced a glance at her. He flinched when he saw the glare she had leveled at him. "It's not….strong?" he tried to amend, but it only made Allison angrier.

"That's great, Scott," she said shortly, then turned on her heel and stomped away, ignoring Scott's calls behind her.

The great True Alpha better think of some amazing way to apologize or Allison might not show up for Thanksgiving at all. Smelled like bad eggs, indeed.

In her anger, every thought of Isaac and his odd behavior disappeared from her mind.

"We have to bring something?"

Stiles pretended he hadn't heard any incredulity in that question.

"Well duh. You don't get to just arrive and eat. You provide for us, we provide for you. It's a family thing," he explained, with hand motions.

He was standing by Aiden's locker, and had been ever since he arrived so that he wouldn't miss Aiden coming in. The invite to Thanksgiving Lunch was easily accepted, the idea that they had to actually take part in the prep was taking some work.

Aiden narrowed his eyes at his math book. Stiles let the idea of 'family' sink in for a few moments.

"Anyway, all you need to bring are candied yams," he said, breaking Aiden's concentration. "Buy some canned yams at the store, and I mean a lot of them. Put them in a baking dish. Put a few little squares of butter in there, sprinkle on some brown sugar, and then empty an entire bag of mini marshmallows on top. If you can still see the yams, you need more marshmallows. We'll actually cook them once you're at our place. I mean, if you have anything else you wanna make, go for it, but that's all I'm asking."

The taller, broader male just stared at him. Stiles did his best not to squirm. Students moved around them in the hall, but Aiden was staring him down and Stiles couldn't let him win.

Finally, Aiden turned to put his last textbook in his locker and grab what he needed for first period to shove in his bag. "Fine. Yams. We can handle that. Anything else?"

At that moment, Stiles saw Lydia enter the doors at the end of the hall over Aiden's shoulder. He remembered how worried Lydia had been for Aiden when he'd been missing, how it seemed like they got together once he was back. Things had cooled down again and they weren't acting like a couple, though, so apparently the relationship was still off.

"Yeah. Make a move for Lydia before she finds someone else," he teased. Aiden looked at him with a curiously raised eyebrow. "Dude, she likes confidence. Slinking around and hoping she'll find you good enough ain't gonna cut it. Here's your chance. Be a werewolf."

He motioned to Lydia's approaching form and Aiden turned to watch her. It was humorous how much Aiden's shoulders tensed as she got closer. His fingers gripped the edge of his locker door a tad too tightly and once she was almost close enough to touch, he took a deep breath and opened his mouth.

"Hey, Lydia-" he tried, but she breezed right past him.

Right up to Stiles.

Lydia smiled coyly. "Hi there, Stiles," she greeted. Then she grabbed his face in both hands and landed a big kiss on his lips.

Stiles couldn't respond. His eyes widened and his breath seized in his chest. Before it could register that Lydia was kissing him, she pulled back.

She winked at him. "See you later."

Stiles craned his head to watch her walk away, still not quite processing anything happening around him or what had just happened to him. He'd just been kissed…by…

A loud bang brought Stiles out of his daze and he saw Aiden's hand on the locker next to his own, a huge dent underneath it. Actually, nope, there was a hole too. Aiden had actually broken the locker.

I'm gonna die, Stiles thought with sudden clarity of mind. I got kissed by a goddess and now I'm gonna die because of it. It's like some bad Greek legend.

Aiden flashed red eyes at him. "Make a move before she's with someone else, huh?"

Stiles wondered if Derek would miss him when he was gone. If he knew that Stiles had apparently just stolen Aiden's girlfriend, would he even protect Stiles? The compass on his chest whirred and spun, the arrow pointing to Derek noting him as halfway across town in the supermarket. He was too far away to help, no matter what he would've thought.

Trying to pull his thoughts from Derek, which was getting harder to do with each passing day, Stiles focused back on what led him to his own death. Lydia kissing him. The last time she'd kissed him was when he had that panic attack-

"Wait," Stiles let out in shock, one hand up to stop Aiden as the werewolf lifted a fist, the other clutching at his shirt over his heart – and the compass.

Lydia. It was spinning toward Lydia, but it wasn't pointing the direction Lydia had just walked off in. Lydia was…to his left, a few blocks away. Something was wrong with her.

He smacked Aiden on the arm, hard, earning him a deep and threatening growl and another flash of red eyes.

"Knock it off, we've got bigger things to deal with," Stiles admonished.

"Bigger than you pretending to help me out while stealing my girlfriend?" Aiden snapped.

Stiles glared at him. "That wasn't Lydia," he stated in a deadly serious tone. "We gotta call the others."

Aiden looked bewildered now. He glanced at the clock down the hall. "Class is about to start."

Throwing his arms in the air, Stiles said, "Forget class! There's a fake Lydia walking around. Something is wrong and we gotta stop it before it stops us!"

Still Aiden didn't look impressed by the severity of the situation. "You keep saying that wasn't Lydia, but who else could it be? How would you know?"

Stiles jabbed a finger toward his chest with another glare. Aiden had the decency to look admonished, a blush rising on his cheeks.


"'Oh' is right," Stiles repeated, practically sneering it. "Now get a move on, grouchy." He pushed Aiden down the hall a few feet. "Math can wait. It's time to save the town, again."

The bell rang for class. Neither of them paid it any mind.

The examination room for Deaton's vet office had never been so full. The entire McCall pack had gathered together, sans Lydia, and were crowded around the table in the middle of the room or lounging against the counters.

"Explain it to me," Deaton order simply.

"She just walked right in and straight up to me," Stiles said. "She didn't look around or wave at anybody or even pay attention to Aiden at all and he was right next to me. He even spoke to her and she ignored him completely. She just came up, grabbed me by the face, and laid one on me." He gave a shrug that was also a full body shake and placed his hands on the table in front of him. "It was kinda great but at the same time incredibly terrifying."

Aiden growled low in his throat from where he was leaning on the far end of the counter, opposite Stiles. Stiles motioned to him with both hands.

"See? Terrifying."

Any wolf in the room could've told you that Stiles' heart barely ticked at Aiden's behavior. He either didn't think Aiden would attack him or believed that he wouldn't be in danger if Aiden did.

Deaton rolled his eyes. "And the compass?"

Stiles poked his chest over where the compass was as if he'd feel anything. "Says she wasn't anywhere in the school at the time."

"And you and Aiden didn't go find her because…?" Cora prompted with a wave of her hand.

"Because the last time I went off on a rescue mission alone without knowing all the details I nearly became a meal for a crazy psychopathic werewolf?" Stiles answered in a sarcastic question.

Cora nodded and lifted her shoulders, looking away in concession. True, that had happened. Her uncle had nearly killed him when he and Danny tried to rescue Aiden.

"I'm still not entirely sure it wasn't the real Lydia," Aiden broke in from his spot next to his brother. "It looked exactly like her."

"And you look exactly like your brother," Allison said. Danny looked mildly put off at the statement and opened his mouth to speak, but she hurried to correct herself. "Well, to anyone who doesn't know you."

Derek frowned. "What does that matter? Does Lydia have an evil twin she forgot to mention?"

Scott cast a curious glance at Isaac, standing by the opposite end of the counters from the twins. His arms were crossed and he looked only half interested in the conversation, but what had Scott's attention was the smell. It was rotten eggs. It was the same smell that had been on Allison this morning, but stronger. This must've been where it came from, but why did Isaac smell like bad eggs? Where had he gone this morning?

"No," Allison continued with a frown of her own. "I'm saying maybe whatever it was got the two of you confused. Maybe it ignored Aiden because it thought he was Ethan."

"Or it was trying to make Aiden and Stiles fight," Ethan offered. "Make the pack take each other out so whoever's left is more vulnerable."

All eyes turned to him at the blasé way he said this and he shrugged one shoulder, looking only mildly embarrassed.

"It's what Aiden and I would've done when we first became alphas," he explained. Aiden actually shot his brother a look of reproach for bringing it up, which surprised the others since Aiden was usually the more vitriolic of the two.

"When ye fight with a wolf of the pack ye must fight him alone and afar, Lest others take part in the quarrel and the pack is diminished by war," Stiles quoted, crossing his arms and frowning. "Goddamn I hate that poem."

Deaton shook his head, brushing off the irritation of his protégé. "So it's a creature who can mimic the form of others, but it isn't powerful enough to handle a full wolf pack. It must have watched the town first, seen the two of you together," he motioned to Danny and Ethan, "in order to assume Aiden wasn't a viable target, or to assume that kissing Stiles was the best way to start a fight between him and Aiden."

Derek shifted uncomfortably but pointedly looked away when Stiles cast a curious glance at him.

"It sounds to me like we're dealing with a shapeshifter."

"But werewolves are shape shifters," Scott said. "So it's a wolf?"

Deaton shook his head again, this time to indicate the negative. "No. A shapeshifter, as an individual being and not a type, is a creature that can take any form it wants, but it has to have had physical contact with the original in order for it to be able to do so." He heaved a deep sigh. "They usually go around killing people and ingesting their hearts, letting other people take the blame for crimes they commit."

"That's disgusting," Danny commented with downturned lips.

Nodding, Deaton said, "There is one final detail that would tell me whether this was a shapeshifter or if I need to consult my more…unique resources for a new answer. Did it smell like sulfur?"

Stiles wrinkled his nose. "Rotten eggs?"

Scott tensed, as did every other wolf in the room. Stiles looked at Aiden for confirmation on whether the Lydia had smelled like sulfur, but found an intense gaze on him that made him snap his mouth shut.

"Stiles," Derek said through grit teeth. "Where is Isaac?"

Both Isaac and Stiles narrowed their eyes in confusion, as well as Allison and Danny who couldn't smell the sulfur in the air. "Is-" was all Stiles got out before the compass on his chest must have reacted, because his eyes hardened into ice.

That was all the evidence the rest of the pack needed. Almost as one, every wolf member of the pack shifted and lunged for the imposter in their midst. Stiles yelped and ducked out of the way as Cora came flying across the table at him on her way toward Isaac. 'Isaac' lashed out at Scott, the first to reach him, and managed to knock him back about a foot. It wasn't much but it gave him just enough time to turn and dart out the door beside him. The wolves were out the door in a moment, chasing it down.

"It's fast," Allison noted. She, Danny, and Stiles didn't even try to keep up with the others.

"Yeah. It got to two members of the pack in one day," Danny replied.

Allison let out a breath. "That's not what I mean, but you're right. Is Isaac with Lydia?" she asked Stiles.

Stiles nodded. "Yeah. I'd guess they're within a few feet of each other. And now that we know what took them, we can go get our friends back."

"I wouldn't be so hasty if I were you," Deaton advised. At their curious looks, he said, "If I were to guess, I'd say that one shapeshifter did not get to two pack members in one day. I'd say that there were two shapeshifters who needed forms to fit in with."

The human members of the pack exchanged worried glances. One fast shapeshifter or two shapeshifters working together. They weren't sure which option was better.

Within an hour, Stiles had a call from his dad about two dead bodies found with their hearts carved out of their chests. The slightly worrisome presence of shapeshifters in town, mimicking their friends' faces, had just become a case of double homicide.

"They know they can't take the pack as a whole," Scott said, "so we'll have to get them to face us one on one."

"Or at least thinking we're alone," Stiles added.

Scott rolled out a map of the town and they divided into parts. Derek, Aiden, Ethan, Allison, Scott, along with Chris and the Sheriff, would be out searching for the shapeshifters to catch them and stop them from killing anyone else. Stiles and Danny, meanwhile, would follow the compass and get Isaac and Lydia to safety. If they were okay, they could join the fight against the shifters. If they weren't, it was up to Stiles and Danny to protect them until the others got rid of the threat.

"Team Human to the rescue," Stiles noted, shutting his Jeep door as quietly as he could.

He reached into the back and pulled out his ash wood bat. Danny came around to stand next to him, carrying a bow and with a sheath of silver tipped arrows across his back.

"With the rest of the pack out trying to lure the shifters away, this place should be empty of monsters," Danny noted, looking up at the house before them.

The street light in front of the house was out, of course. The plants in the little gardens under the windows were long dead. Someone had stolen the American flag from its pole by the door. The Lahey house had never looked so pathetic and broken on the outside as the family had been on the inside.

"It was always full of monsters," Stiles muttered, not really intending for Danny to hear or reply, before he started forward.

He didn't think it a coincidence that the shapeshifters had chosen this as the place to hold the captive pack members. Maybe they'd seen Isaac coming by a few times, or maybe they looked it up. But of all the abandoned buildings in Beacon Hills, they'd chosen this one – one that used to belong to a pack member. That was done on purpose.

The front door opened without creaking, surprisingly. The rooms were empty, long since cleaned out after Isaac moved in with the McCalls and the city took over the house. Danny tried the light switch, but no lights came on.

"So," Danny started, dropping his arm to his side and glancing around. "Where would you hide two kidnap victims in an abandoned, empty house?"

Stiles was already heading for the basement door. "The same place you hide them in any other house."

Just opening the door made Stiles gag. The basement smelled horrific, like walking into a vat of dead animals ready for dissection in science class. He held his bat up with one hand and covered his nose and mouth with the other as he headed down the stairs, Danny following behind him. Danny held his weapon ready with both hands and just seemed to be holding his breath.

Everything was gone from the basement except the damn freezer – or what remained of it after Scott busted out of it. Lydia and Isaac were lying, tied up and unconscious, on the bare floor about three feet to the right of the freezer.

"Oh my god, what is that?" Stiles half wheezed out, seeing four piles of some mushy substance laid out around the room at random. It looked wet and slimy and he could see veins and hair and oh god he was pretty sure it was-

"Skin," Danny said, kneeling next to the pile closest to them. "It looks like skin. Do you think they have to shed their skin sometimes, like snakes? Or to change what they look like?"

Stiles shook his head. "I don't care. I really, really don't care. That's so gross. Let's just get Lydia and Isaac and get the hell out of here or I'm gonna blow chunks."

They had to work together to carry each of their bound friends up the stairs, so it was good that nothing attacked them. It was hard to carry dead weight and use a weapon at the same time. Lydia went first, then Isaac. Only once they were all out of the house, and Lydia and Isaac were safely in the back of the Jeep, did Danny begin trying to rouse them and Stiles pull out his phone.

"Calling Scott?" Danny asked as he gently pat Isaac on the face, making the other boy groan but not fully wake up.

"No. His mom. They probably need some kind of medical attention and I'm not a doctor, even if my mentor is a vet." Stiles shifted from foot to foot impatiently while the phone rang.

The phone had rung once, barely dialing out, when the bottom fell out of Stiles' stomach and it felt like his entire chest contracted. Only locking his knees kept him from collapsing in the yard.

Derek. Something was wrong with Derek. He didn't know how he knew, or what it was, but he did. The compass whirled once and then focused on Derek, only a few streets away. None of the other lines on the compass seemed to exist as he narrowed down Derek's location. The ache in Stiles' chest only got worse as the seconds ticked by.

"Stiles, what's wrong?"

"Danny," Stiles said instead of greeting Ms. McCall, and then tossed the phone without waiting for a response.

Danny was fumbling a catch even as Stiles took off down the street. "Wh-what? Stiles? Where are you going?!"

Stiles waved his bat in the air and turned, cutting into someone's yard to get to the street behind it. "I'll explain later! Take care of them!"

Then he couldn't see Danny anymore and he didn't spare him much more of a thought. Derek needed him and he had to get there before it was too late.

Derek stopped running and looked around him at the night covered park. He scented the air, but it was as if everything smelled faintly of sulfur now. That had to mean he was near the shapeshifter's base, that they wandered around the area a lot recently. He should turn and go another way. If he was near their base, he might lead them to Stiles and Danny trying to save Lydia and Isaac. That would put them in danger. That would put Stiles in danger.

Derek was in a small depression of land, with a bridge crossing over it about a dozen feet in front of him. He'd jump to the higher path and move away from the area using that path. But just as this plan formed in his head, Stiles came jogging into view on the path he was already on. Derek's heart leapt in his chest. Part of it was worry – why was Stiles running and where were the others? – but part of it was happiness – the same part of him that was always happy to see Stiles.

Stiles saw Derek and hurried over. The closer he got, the less worried Derek became. Stiles wasn't running like he was being chased and he didn't seem upset. In fact, he looked happy to see Derek, if the upturn of his lips and the sparkle in his eyes were any hints. That look was similar to the one Stiles wore whenever he walked into the loft without permission just because he had a key – the one Derek had given him when he and Cora left town – as if he'd won a contest no one was aware they'd entered with him. Derek always refused to admit he liked that satisfied expression on Stiles' face. The human had a big enough head as it was.

"Derek!" Stiles panted upon stopping.

Derek frowned. "Where are the others?" he asked. Something wasn't right. The way Stiles put more pressure on his left leg than his right, the almost measured way he was panting, how still he was holding his body. He wasn't acting quite right.

Stiles held his arms out to the side and let them flop back down. "I was worried about you." He ducked his head. "You were more important." And he reached out to take hold of Derek's arm.

The comment made Derek's heart speed up. Stiles telling him he was more important than Lydia? Sure, Stiles had come over to the loft a few times just to hang out, even when Cora wasn't there; he'd invited Derek to spend Thanksgiving with the pack at Scott's place, and preemptively to Christmas at the Stilinski house; and he'd given comfort to Derek when Paige's ghost was around, but to say that Derek ranked above Lydia Martin? It was like Derek had walked into one of his dreams that Cora picked on him for because he mumbled in his sleep.

When he sucked in a surprised breath, all good feelings associated with the moment vanished. Stiles didn't smell like curly fries and honeydew – the smell of his favorite food and bath wash. Stiles stunk of sulfur, just like Isaac had.

But hadn't he just thought that the whole area smelled like sulfur? If Stiles had been with Isaac, Lydia, and Danny at the base for the shifters, it would make sense he would smell like them. Derek wanted it to be Stiles, to be Stiles' top priority. But he doubted. Was this Stiles, or was it one of the shifters making itself look like Stiles? And if it was a shifter, then what had happened to the real Stiles?

The hand on his arm squeezed him a bit. "Derek?" Stiles asked, tilting his head to the side. It was a very Stiles-like motion. Derek's emotions were roiling.

If this was Stiles, then that meant that Stiles thought Derek was the most important person. It also meant that he'd become brave enough to initiate casual and not-casual contact with Derek – that he was aware enough of Derek's own feelings to know it wouldn't lose him a hand. That would make future conversations about feelings easier, no doubt.

If this wasn't Stiles, then that meant that the shapeshifter had seen how Stiles was and had determined that intimate touching was normal for Stiles and Derek. It had seen something in their behavior toward each other to make it think this was fine, that Derek was Stiles' most important person. That could, he supposed, make future conversations easier too.

Well there was one simple way to see if this was Stiles or not. "Take your shirt off." He did his best to make it sound less like an order and more like a suggestion, but he wasn't sure how well he succeeded based on the curious expression on Stiles' face.

Stiles frowned. "What?" he asked. Derek reached out and grabbed the bottom of Stiles' t-shirt, but both of Stiles' hands shot down to hold Derek's wrist. "I know there are shapeshifters around, but I promise I've got all my scars and bruises. No need undress me and check. Wow," he scoffed. "I come to check on you and you accuse me of murder."

That wasn't the most confidence boosting of responses, but the idea had been planted in Derek's mind. He was Stiles' most important person. Shifter or real, that fact remained the same. Either Stiles cared enough about him to come check on him and be alone with him and talk softly to him, or the shifter had decided that was how Stiles would act based on its observations. Either way, Stiles cared about him.

But how to get him to lift his shirt? The shifter would want it down to hide that it didn't have the compass on its chest. Stiles might want it down because he was insecure about his body. Derek had to do something that would distract Stiles enough that he wouldn't think anything of his shirt pulling up – just long enough for Derek to see if the compass was there.

With a soft growl of, "This isn't about your scars," Derek leaned in and, using his free hand to hold Stiles' head in place, kissed him.

It started out too hard, from Derek trying to instigate it before real or fake Stiles could stop him, but he quickly softened it to how he thought a first kiss should be.

The hands holding his wrist loosened for a bare moment in shock. Then Stiles was kissing back, moving to hold fistfuls of Derek's shirt instead of his wrist and pulling him closer. Then Stiles began to run his hand up and down the left side of Derek's chest, over his heart, like he was caressing it. Derek had to fight not to frown into the kisses. That was an odd motion to make during a make out session. Still, it didn't mean this wasn't Stiles. It could still be the real Stiles he was kissing, who was kissing him back with the same amount of fervor.

He pulled Stiles' shirt up slowly, letting his fingers trail up the skin sensually, until he could see most of Stiles' pale, bare chest.

Bare chest.

Even if Derek could've held out hope that Stiles really did want to make out with him, this glaring fact ended that dream. There was no compass magically imprinted over this creature's heart. This wasn't Stiles. It was a shapeshifter. Derek's heart clenched and his lips pulled down, sorrow eclipsing any joy he'd been feeling at finally getting a taste of what he'd been hoping for since returning to Beacon Hills. Then the truth really hit him and all his sorrow turned to fury.

He couldn't hold back his angry growl at the thought that it had hurt Stiles in some way. Deaton said a shapeshifter had to touch you to take your appearance. What had it done to Stiles?! His nails turned to claws but the shifter jumped back from him at the first prick of skin.

"What the h-"

"You're not Stiles," Derek rumbled out, shifting fully and letting his eyes continuously glow blue. He hoped shapeshifters knew about werewolf eyes. He hoped it knew he'd killed before.

He reached out to grip 'Stiles' by the shoulders, intending to sink his claws in and demand answers, but hands grabbed his before his blow could land. Then 'Stiles' pushed upward at the same time he leaned back and threw Derek over him and onto the ground behind him. Derek stayed down a few seconds, more shocked than injured. He hadn't expected that kind of strength or agility from something that looked like Stiles.

It wasn't Stiles. He had to keep reminding himself. It looked like him, but it wasn't him.

"Aw, come on. Some big bad wolf you are," 'Stiles' taunted from above him. "If that's all it takes to keep you down, then we overestimated you."

Derek snapped his teeth at it and pushed himself to his feet. "Where's Stiles?"

He slashed out at the shifter but it just dodged out of the way looking as calm as a clear, spring morning. Derek's next attack landed, leaving one cut on the fake Stiles' left arm near the elbow. It frowned.

"That hurt," it said. And though the wound didn't heal, it also bled very sluggishly. Derek almost thought it wasn't bleeding at all.

Just as Derek was cursing his ignorance on shapeshifters, there was a slight whistle in the air and then an arrow lodged itself in the shifter's back, near its left arm. It's eyes widened and it staggered sideways before falling to its knees. Behind it, Derek saw Allison standing at the top of the hill, bow still raised.

'Stiles' turned around to see where the attack came from and the movement made it let out a low, pained whine. "W-w-why?" it stuttered out.

Allison frowned at it. "Because you stole my friend's face and ate someone's heart."

'Stiles' let out a shocked laugh. "Me? You think I did-That was him!" it said, pointing at Derek. Derek growled at it, glaring. 'Stiles' glared right back. "He's the shifter, not me."

"Like hell," another voice said as Sheriff Stilinski came up behind Allison. He leveled his gun at the shifter. "Now where is Stiles?"

"I am Stiles!" 'Stiles' insisted, standing up. Allison hurried down the slight incline, drawing a silver knife from the sheath at her waist. Shapeshifters were weak against silver. "I'm your friend and you shot me with silver instead of the bad guy."

Derek took a step closer to it and it stepped away, even though that put it closer to Allison and her knife. "You are not our friend."

It sneered at him. "I bet not, since you'd rather be kissing me than killing me."

There was a slight noise from the Sheriff on the hill but no time to analyze it, or even acknowledge it happened, because suddenly the shapeshifter turned and lunged at Allison. It knocked her over before she could get her blade on its skin. Pinning her down, Stiles used his left arm, damaged but not immobilized by the arrow, to attack. Derek heard Allison start to scream as its fingers touched her chest – probably the beginnings of it going for her heart – and managed half a step forward before a loud bang echoed in the dead park air and 'Stiles' collapsed on top of Allison. Derek's heart jolted in his chest.

She immediately shoved it off and scrambled to her feet, her blade held defensively in front of her. Her shirt was torn, part of her bra showing through, with a shallow but long cut in the visible skin, slowly leaking blood. 'Stiles' didn't get back up. There was a pool of blood gathering around its head from the bullet wound over its ear.

When Allison had knocked it off, the body had rolled out, so Derek had a clear view of Stiles' lifeless eyes staring blankly up at the stars. No one else moved. They just stared at the body as if expecting it to get back up, or change shape, or something. Nothing happened for several long seconds.

Then, up on the hill, the Sheriff turned and was sick in the grass. Allison's breathing got faster as fear kicked in.

"That-That was a shapeshifter, right?" she asked. "Stiles is okay?"

Derek tried to nod but couldn't manage it. He'd checked. That wasn't Stiles. And Stiles wouldn't attack Allison, or anyone from the pack, the way this thing had. But, staring at the dead body before them, he doubted. He wished he had Stiles' magic compass so he could be sure, so he would know immediately where Stiles was and that he wasn't on the ground in front of them.

The longer he looked at the body, the worse he felt. What if that really was Stiles? What if they'd just killed their own pack member? What if Derek had kissed him just to watch him die? The more questions that swirled in his mind, the more Derek's chest constricted. It was hard to breathe.

The sheriff. What if the sheriff had just killed his own son? And what would they do without Stiles in the pack? What would Derek do?

Allison's knife fell to the rocky trail and she fumbled in her pocket for her phone. She was calling someone, someone in the pack. How do wolves find the location of the rest of the pack?

Derek threw his head back and howled, surprising Allison enough that she stopped messing with her phone. It was stupid. Stiles wasn't a wolf. Stiles wasn't going to howl back. Stiles wouldn't even know it was Derek doing the howling. And if it really was Stiles dead on the ground, he wouldn't be able to answer at all.

The air was dead silent after the howl. Not even the bugs made any noise. The sheriff clumsily made his way to their side, his face pale. He couldn't take his eyes off the image of his dead son, though it was obvious he'd rather look anywhere else.


It was a shout in the dark, a loud and panicked sound, and all three of their heads snapped up. From the opposite side of the upper path than Allison and the Sheriff had used came Stiles, pelting down the path with a bat in his hand. He made it halfway across the bridge before he realized they were down below. Stiles stumbled to a stop, arms pin wheeling as he nearly face planted, then made a wild turn to go back to the edge of the bridge and flail his way down the hill.

"What happened what's wrong who's hurt oh my-holy shit that's me," all came tumbling out of his mouth at once, even as he skidded to a stop across the body from them.

It wasn't until Derek was on the ground that he realized his legs had given out in relief. Allison made a choked sound and covered her mouth while the Sheriff quickly moved to pull Stiles into a tight hug.

"Wh-" Stiles started, clearly lost, but stopped. He wrapped his arms around his dad in return, even as his eyes looked around over his father's shoulders to take everything in. It only took a few seconds for understanding to light his eyes. "I'm okay. You okay?" and he directed it to all of them.

Allison nodded, a few tears escaping her eyes. Then she bent down to pick up her phone again. Stiles' gaze then moved to Derek, who barely managed half a nod.

"If I never have to see you dead again…I'll be okay," the sheriff said into the collar of Stiles' shirt.


Scott jerked to a stop at the sound of his name. Coming up to him, from around the side of a house, was Allison. She was hurrying but didn't seem to be scared or upset.

"Allison, what-" He cut himself off at the smell of sulfur around her.

She slowed to a stop before him. "The other shifter is dead," she told him. "Just now."

"Oh," Scott let out. Is that why she smelled like sulfur? He kind of didn't want to ask, since she'd gotten angry the last time he told her she smelled like bad eggs. "Where're Derek and Stiles' dad?"

Allison waved behind her. "With the body, just in case." She gave a little grin. "Shapeshifters are full of surprises, after all."

The grin looked odd on Allison's face. It didn't look like Allison's normal grins or smiles or smirks. Scott looked her over. There was no blade at her waist or bow and arrow set across her back.

"Why are you doing this?"

The grin slid from Allison's face into a confused frown. "Doing what?" she asked, stepping closer. Scott stepped back. "Scott?"

He shook his head. "You're not Allison," he stated definitively. "You're a shapeshifter. So tell me why. Why are you attacking my pack?" If it had Allison's face, then it had to have touched Allison. Allison could be in danger, or hurt, or worse. "Where are the others?"

The shifter looked surprised for a moment, but then it gave a pleased smile, eyes sparkling. "You're clever. I suppose you know that this town is steeped in magic," she said. "It clings to every surface like dust. It draws the supernatural in like a siren's call."

Despite the flowery language and similes, the shifter spoke in a straightforward tone of voice. Scott supposed that the magic over the town had come when they awoke the Nemeton. Deaton had said it would turn the town into a beacon, after all, drawing in the supernatural. They had needed the Nemeton once, but perhaps they should kill it again, or seal it up.

'Allison' stepped forward again and this time Scott let her. "What I don't suppose you know is that a werewolf's heart is stronger than a normal human's. Not in simple physical terms, but in regards to the power it contains."

"I don't suppose you've met Stiles then," Scott answered blithely. One of them had definitely met Stiles, long enough to kiss him even.

Now 'Allison' nodded. "That special human," she agreed, and her face twisted into one of frustration. "His heart would taste wonderful."

"Then why didn't you take it when you had the chance?" Scott asked. "When you kissed him?"

'Allison' laughed. It was a bitter sound. "I didn't kiss him. And my sibling didn't have the strength then. But we will, soon enough."

Didn't have the strength? But they'd carved the hearts out of other people only hours later. What was so special about- The compass! It was over Stiles' heart. Its magic must have acted like a barrier! Scott let out a breath of relief, knowing Stiles at least was safe from them.

"So Isaac? Lydia?" Scott pressed. "Why didn't you kill them?"

"You tell me, clever boy," 'Allison' purred. Coming from Allison, that voice would've had him on his knees. From a shifter, it just made his skin crawl.

Scott shook his head to clear it. "You need them alive to take their shape," he guessed, but made it sound like a statement of fact. 'Allison's' heart didn't give the slightest jump, but the way she tilted her head at him, as if fascinated, told him he was right.

Allison was okay. Scott felt a huge weight lift off his chest.

In the next breath, the shifter was right up against Scott, her warmth seeping in through his clothes. Scott tried to jump back, but she had a hand firmly against his back and wouldn't let him move. "You have the heart of an alpha," she whispered in his ear.

"And you have no heart at all," Scott snapped.

He grabbed her wrist in the same moment that she was raising it to pierce his chest. She narrowed her eyes and then twisted her hand in his grip until she could grab his wrist in return. The next thing Scott knew, he was flipping in sideways circles and then landing on the hard concrete below. The air was punched out of his lungs and he groaned.

'Allison' was on him then, her knees bracketing his hips. "Don't mind if I take yours then, dear."

Scott bucked up, unseating her just enough that he could flip them over and pin her to the ground. He was distracted for a moment at how her hair fanned out around her face, by how much she looked like Allison. Then nails pierced his chest and jolted him back to reality. Scott flung himself backward and off the shifter, who stood up in one fluid motion.

"Am I distracting you, Scott?" she asked in an innocent voice.

"You need to leave Beacon Hills," Scott responded with authority. "You already told me your sibling was dead. Leave, while you still have your own life."

That only made 'Allison' glare. "You think granting me my life means anything?" she demanded before rushing at him.

Before she could reach him, the scant few feet away that he was, both Aiden and Ethan jumped from the roof of a nearby house and landed on either side of her. Each held a knife in their hands that shone silver in the moonlight. She stopped on a dime and glanced from Scott to both of the twins on her sides. Scott could pinpoint the moment she realized there was no way she was going to win this fight.

The shapeshifter turned around, intending to run away from all three wolves, but again stopped before she got anywhere. Chris Argent had closed off the opening, his gun raised and aimed directly at the face of his own daughter.

"Get rid of that face," Chris ordered, his tone brokering no arguments.

"I rather like this face," the shifter replied.

Scott briefly thought that this shapeshifter had about as much survival instinct as Stiles at times. Why antagonize the person who could kill you in a heartbeat?

He'd barely blinked when the shifter had moved again, charging at Chris – the only human around her. The man frowned and let off a shot, but it landed in her shoulder rather than anywhere deadly. It still had the shapeshifter crashing to the ground at Chris' feet, clutching her shoulder and letting out a high whine of pain.

"Silver bullets," Chris explained, and his voice barely wavered. He was trying to act impassive, but Scott could hear his heart. He'd hated putting Allison in pain, even when it wasn't really Allison. He and Scott were alike that way, except Scott probably couldn't have even injured something that only looked like Allison.

"I'll tell you again," Scott said, taking a step closer to the shifter, and the others as well. His eyes flared red. "Leave Beacon Hills and never come back."

Like the unseelie before, the shapeshifter looked chastised and bowed her head. She stood slowly, still holding her shoulder in a tight grip, and walked back toward Scott and away from Chris.

Scott heard the uptick of her heart just before the hand of her injured arm shot up. Her nails again hit Scott's skin, though he had a hold of her wrist and arm so she couldn't actually pierce him. Her eyes were wide, face pained, and it had nothing to do with Scott's quick reflexes.

"I'm sorry," Scott apologized just before 'Allison's' eyes rolled up into her head and she slumped down to the ground. Both twins let their daggers fall with her, leaving the silver in her back. Scott frowned at his pack, but they didn't look the least bit sorry.

"She was trying to kill you," Ethan said to the silent reprimand. "We weren't gonna let that happen."

A phone began to ring and Chris holstered his gun before reaching into his pocket. All the tension in his face melted away and Scott took a deep breath for what felt like the first time ever. Allison. She was okay.

He pointedly did not look at the ground in front of him.

"Allison, where are you?" was how Chris answered the phone.

All three werewolves could hear the other half of the conversation. "We're in the park. We killed one of the shapeshifters. Did you find the other one?"

Chris nodded, his lips pulling down in a frown. "Yeah. It had your face," he admitted. "It's dead too."

"Oh my god. Dad-"

"We'll collect our body and meet you in the park," Chris interrupted brusquely.

Scott nodded to him before turning and racing off, ignoring the rest of the conversation. Hearing Allison's voice was good, but seeing her and holding her would be better.

Allison hung up the phone and gave a deep sigh into the night air. "They just killed the other shifter too," she informed them. "Scott's on his way. He's upset we had to kill them."

"I don't give a damn," the Sheriff bit out. "It put my son in danger."

At the mention of Stiles, all eyes turned to where Stiles was standing next to his father. The attention made him give a weak smile. They'd moved away from the dead body – though not so far as to lose sight of it. Stiles had posited that they'd just killed the Lydia shifter and that she'd 'stolen' his face when she kissed him. He'd told them about Isaac's house and the basement, and they'd told him about the fight that led to the death of something that looked like Stiles.

Heart hurting, Allison stepped over and wrapped Stiles in a tight hug. "I was scared we killed you," she said thickly, though no tears fell from her eyes.

Stiles hugged her securely, as if guarding her. "You didn't. I promise I don't have a scratch on me." When she pulled back, he glanced around at all of them. "Seriously, I'm standing here, fine."

"Doesn't change the fact that there's a body lying over there that looks just like you," the Sheriff countered. He then cupped Stiles' cheek and just looked at his son. Allison didn't doubt that he was committing the life in Stiles' eyes, the heat of his skin, to memory. "God, Stiles, I'm sorry."

For the first time, Stiles actually looked like he might cry. "Dad. You don't have to-You didn't hurt me."

"It looked like you, and I still shot it," the Sheriff responded. "And I'll have to live with that."

This time, Stiles was the one to hurry forward and crush his dad in a hug. They held each other so tightly that Allison felt wrong watching them. She turned her eyes away to the rest of the park in their view and frowned.

Shapeshifters. This was perhaps the worst thing they'd ever faced. Alphas, hunters, fairies, werewolves, bledan, murderers. None of them had forced the pack to attack one of their own. None of them had forced the pack to kill one of their own. Allison had had her knife out, but she hadn't been able to attack something that looked like a friend up close, looking Stiles in the eyes. She could only imagine what the Sheriff was going through, thinking, even for a moment, that he'd killed his own son. For that matter, what her own father was feeling. Maybe they could share a bed tonight, like when Allison was little and had a nightmare.

"Stiles," Allison started, suddenly remembering. "How did you know it was Derek howling?"

Stiles pulled away from his father then and scratched his cheek, looking mildly embarrassed. "I don't-I knew Derek was in trouble, so I was already on my way, and then there was a howl. There was no one else it could be."

The expression on the Sheriff's face was torn between confusion and pleasant surprise. "That doohickey on your chest tells you when we're in trouble too?"

Now Stiles looked distinctly embarrassed. "N-no." At the enquiring gazes, he frowned. "I can't explain it. I just…I knew something was wrong. It was like my h…It felt, um, wrong. Painful." His face was turning an amusing shade of red the longer he spoke and Allison wished she could hear what his heart was doing.

Derek's eyes were wider than normal, the only part of him that gave off that he was surprised at all. Interestingly, his cheeks also turned pink and he frowned, turning his head away just as Stiles looked at him.

After several seconds of silence, where Derek kept glancing over only to see Stiles still looking at him and then swiftly flicking his eyes away again, Allison huffed. "Just hug him already."

It didn't really matter who she was talking to, but Derek held his arms open like it was a great trial and then Stiles rushed the few feet between them and wrapped Derek in a hug as fierce as the one he'd given Allison before. All of Derek's bigger form seemed to deflate as he wrapped himself around Stiles in return. The sheriff made a discontent sound and Allison smiled. That was same exact sound her father had made when she first told him that, werewolf or not, she was still dating Scott.

She blinked her eyes rapidly, backpedaling her thoughts. Date? Were they dating?


And then Scott tumbled down the incline and Allison was tackled by her boyfriend, his werewolf qualities melting away as soon as she was in his arms. Any thoughts about other couples vanished under Scott's attentions.

"So, Scott, I may or may not have a huge, major crush on Derek. Yeah, yeah, I know. He's a failwolf and he's made a lot of bad decisions but he's made a lot of good decisions too? I mean, seriously, when was the last time he threatened violence against any of us? He offers to help all the time now!"

Stiles sighed and leaned his forehead on his steering wheel. After a few moments of just listening to his own heartbeat, he lifted his head again.

"Scotty, I got the best hug in the whole universe tonight and it made me realize that maybe all those questions about whether gay guys like me is totally a moot point, because I like-well, not exclusively gay guys, but guys. Specifically, Derek Hale. And I'd kind of like to make out with him, like all the time, because who needs to breathe when you've got all that?"

He head butted the headrest on his seat and groaned.

"God, these all sound horrific," he whispered. "Just tell him the facts. Scott, I like Derek, and I'm pretty sure he likes me too. See? Easy. If he throws a fit, just…I don't know…compare Derek to Allison until he gets overwhelmed."

With this plan in mind, Stiles slid from the Jeep and headed up to the McCall house. Lydia, Isaac, Allison, and Scott were already there with Scott's mom, and the rest of the pack plus Stiles and Allison's dads were getting rid of the shapeshifter bodies. This was possibly the only time Stiles could get what amounted to a private conversation with Scott.

The front door was unlocked in expectation of more guests, so Stiles was inside in a heartbeat. He stepped past the foyer.

"So you like Derek."

Stiles startled so bad he nearly knocked a mirror off the wall. Scott grinned from his seat on the couch in the living room. Stiles clutched at the shirt over his heart.

"Give me a heart attack, dude," he complained. Then Scott's words filtered in. "Wh-what? How'd you-When did you-Who told you?"

Scott motioned to the windows and, beyond that, the driveway with Stiles' Jeep. "You did. I heard all eleven of your practices."

"You-" Stiles frowned. "You were eavesdropping?"

Scott frowned too. "I heard the Jeep but you didn't come in, so I thought something was wrong. But even so, I have super hearing, Stiles. As soon as you said my name, you had my full attention."

Well that would be true for Stiles too, without super hearing. It was true for anyone. You paid more attention when someone was talking to or about you. With another heavy sigh, Stiles trudged into the living room and dropped onto the sofa next to Scott.

"You're taking this well," he noted.

"Well I had eleven explanations to get used to it," Scott teased with a grin. Then he sighed and said, "But honestly, you're my best friend. You're my brother. And if you think Derek is gonna make you happy, then I won't stop you. Hell, we've been through enough. We deserve that much."

Stiles just stared at him like he was seeing an alien. Ok, Scott was a good friend and great person, but still. In none of Stiles' planning and worrying had Scott accepted this so well.

After a few moments, Scott rubbed his hands over his pant legs nervously. "While we're admitting to things," he hedged, and Stiles was immediately focused and on edge. "I think we should kill the Nemeton."

It was such a 180 that Stiles felt his brain get whiplash. "Wait, that's it? 'Yay, Stiles, you're bisexual. Now on to murder?'"

A nod. "Well, yeah. I mean, it doesn't need to be a big deal unless you want it to be one," Scott explained. "I know you've been upset because everyone's been into me instead of you-," Stiles gave an offended whine but Scott ignored him, "so if Derek likes you, then go for it. What else did you want me to say?"

For a moment, Stiles was ready to rail and shout. Scott should give him the cold shoulder, tell him to pick someone else to like, remind him of Lydia upstairs, offer to take him to a club, tell him he wasn't gay or bisexual but straight, anything! Then that moment passed. Scott was right. Stiles only wanted all of that stuff because it was what he'd seen happen in movies and books and TV shows, because it's what the general populace supposedly reacted with. But that was fiction. That was humans who didn't know better. They were a pack. Pack was as close as, if not closer than, family. If anyone was going to accept Stiles easily, it'd be the pack.

As Stiles' heartbeat slowed, Scott nodded. "Okay then. About the Nemeton-"

"I think we should seal it," Stiles interrupted, his voice sounding foreign to his own ears. Scott raised an eyebrow and Stiles cleared his throat. "It lost its power before by being cut down. We gave that power back to it, but there's no tree to cut down. So obviously we need some other way to get rid of its power."

"I was thinking about burning it," Scott admitted, ducking his head shyly.

Stiles shook his head. "I don't know what that would do, but it'd probably be bad. I also don't know if we even could burn it if we tried. It's a great magical tree. It might be immune to fire." He took a deep breath. "Matteo said I'd be great with wards. I should be able to place a bunch of them on and around the Nemeton and seal its powers away again. With Deaton's help," he amended at the last second.

After a few moments where Scott just watched him, the alpha nodded. "Okay. If you think that'll work then we can try it. But we'll have to see Deaton about it first."

"Duh." Then a great yawn broke free from Stiles' mouth. He rubbed his eyes. "But tomorrow. Today was exhausting."

Scott laughed quietly. "Tomorrow," he agreed. He tilted his head, not unlike a dog listening, and then smiled. "My mom needs help with Isaac. I'll be right back."

Stiles almost responded, but there was a sleek black car pulling up into the driveway. Suddenly he wasn't sure if Melissa actually needed her son or if Scott was trying to play twisted matchmaker. Stiles quietly cursed him either way.

A short while later, Allison came puttering downstairs carrying two bowls with spoons, Scott trailing behind her with a tray for eating in bed.

"How are Isaac and Lydia?" Danny asked from his place in an armchair.

Allison stopped walking near the chair and shrugged. "Isaac's fine. He's irritated that Scott's mom won't let him out of bed yet. Lydia, though…She's enjoying the special treatment," she revealed with a grin.

Scott came up behind her and laid his chin on her shoulder, looking at Danny with a content expression. He'd given the wolves in the group a stern talking to about when it was necessary to kill and when it wasn't. Looking at him now, no one would know he'd been red eyed and angry only a few hours ago. He looked like a puppy cuddling with his favorite human.

The Sheriff and Chris Argent were on opposite sides of the loveseat, gazes on the TV and the commercials playing. As Allison kept moving toward the kitchen, Scott shot a glance at the older men.

"Do you need anything from the kitchen?" he asked.

"No, thank you," said Chris, with a tiny smile in his direction.

The Sheriff gave a shrug. "A soda, while I have the chance." He nodded to the main couch, where Stiles and Derek were asleep, leaning against one another.

Scott chuckled and agreed, heading for the kitchen after Allison. Cora jumped the last three steps of the stairs, landing softly in the entryway, and spun into the living room. She made a beeline for Danny's armchair, plopping herself down on the arm and leaning into his space.

"Can I help you?" Danny asked.

Cora shrugged. "You boyfriend and his brother fell asleep on me, so I decided to come bug someone else." She glanced around. "Though I don't know that there's much more to do down here."

"It's late," Danny justified easily, rolling his shoulders.

"Yeah, but my family…The house was almost never this quiet. Things are, I don't know, calmer in Scott's pack."

Danny regarded her curiously. "Do you want it to be more hectic?"

"No. Not really. Besides, things were simpler with my family. This pack is so weird," she said with a scoff.

Now Danny snorted. "I can't argue that. I've never been a part of a wolf pack before, but I doubt most packs have one true alpha, two alphas, one beta, one banshee, two hunters, three normal humans, and an emissary." He let out a sigh. "But things were weird before werewolves were a thing. Scott and Stiles were never normal. Lydia's always been smarter than anyone else I know. And there's always been drama."

Cora let out a thoughtful hum but didn't answer. She was looking at Derek. Before the fire, Derek had been very open about his emotions, very open about his gifts. More than once, he'd practically spelled out "I'm a werewolf" to people he liked. Cora hadn't thought much of it as a child, but now she knew he'd been reckless. They'd all been reckless. Then what was 'normal' went up in smoke and she'd spent years alone, thinking she was alone in the world, an omega wolf.

Meeting Derek again, with these new wolves and supernatural creatures…He was more reserved. He was mistrustful. But she could tell he desperately wanted a home again. Even though this pack was odd, not normal by any supernatural or human standards, Derek had seemed to settle the longer they stayed in town. As soon as they joined the pack, he became softer. For that matter, so had she. This pack had welcomed and softened Cora as well. She doubted they would ever be as open as they'd been as children – too much had happened for that to be a possibility – but they weren't as rough as they'd been when they met with the Alpha Pack.

"You know," Cora started, voice quiet enough to not draw attention from the others in the house. "Derek and I were almost to Washington when he suddenly decided to come back and join the pack again."

Danny followed her gaze to where Stiles had his face smushed into Derek's neck and Derek's nose was in Stiles' hair. "A change of heart?" he asked.

Cora gave another shrug. "Everything was normal, and then suddenly he flipped out and crashed the Camaro. He said something was wrong in Beacon Hills and we had to come back. He never explained how he knew about Peter."

Danny narrowed his eyes. Cora wasn't expecting an answer to her statements, not really, so she was surprised to hear him respond, his voice just as soft as hers. "Stiles and I had just gotten Isaac and Lydia out of that house when he went really pale and looked panicked. Then he threw his phone at me and took off, saying he'd explain later. Allison said he told her that he'd just known something was wrong with Derek, but he couldn't say how he'd known."

The two instances sounded very similar. After all, when Cora and Derek had gotten back to Beacon Hills, the only danger was Peter about to kill Stiles and Danny, and that Stiles had done some super voodoo magic to himself. Cora didn't understand why they were able to tell the other was in danger, but she was willing to hope it was a good sign.

"I don't know everything about the supernatural, and sometimes I don't think I ever will," Cora admitted with a frown. "But I will say…This is really weird, and I don't want to discuss my brother's possible love life ever again."

Danny laughed as she slid from the arm of the chair and headed to bug Allison and Scott in the kitchen.