It wasn't often the Sheriff was at home for breakfast on weekdays, at least not after the kids were awake but before they'd left for school - he'd usually either already left for work, wasn't home yet, or was still asleep after stumbling in at some ungodly hour in the morning. The previous night both Erica and Lydia had stayed over, and by the time the Sheriff made it to the table with a cup of coffee and a plate of toast and scrambled eggs, everyone but Stiles was already present. Erica had abandoned her bowl of cereal for the homework she was trying to finish, Lydia had a bowl of oatmeal and was texting with her free hand, and though Isaac had a bowl of cereal he didn't seem awake enough to do more than occasionally remember to take a bite.
The Sheriff sat and started to eat, leaning over to look at Erica's notebook when she pushed it his way with a question about World War I and the goals of the allied factions.
"Test in first period," she mumbled unhappily. "Mr. Stephenson always gives us short answer and essay questions instead of multiple choice."
Between bites of toast the Sheriff drudged up as much of his own history courses as he could recall, Lydia chiming in occasionally without ever looking up from her phone. Erica had just started to look slightly more hopeful about the prospect of passing her test when Stiles stormed in the kitchen and dropped something wet on the table.
At first the Sheriff was more concerned that his son was only wearing a towel, not to mention the fact that he was dripping on the floor, but then he identified the object on the table. It was the mistletoe.
"I reached for the shampoo and this fell on me!" Stiles exclaimed while making wide gestures, just barely remembering to grab onto the edge of his towel so it didn't fall off.
The Sheriff's eyebrows rose. "It was in the shower?" He hadn't seen it since Jackson had run off with it during the weekend and he'd assumed that Jackson had taken up the challenge to find somewhere particularly tricky.
"It was hooked over the edge of the light fixture in the shower, yes," Stiles said, suddenly seeming to realize that he was standing mostly naked in front of his dad and about a third of the pack. "No, just no. And with that, I'm going to go finish my shower."
Stiles actually made it out of the kitchen before Erica started giggling, Lydia a half step behind her, and Isaac was blinking at the mistletoe like he was possibly questioning his sanity or perhaps if he was actually awake yet. The Sheriff understood the feeling and he picked up the mistletoe with his thumb and forefinger and brought it over to the dish rack so it could dry out.
Ten minutes later Stiles joined them again, dressed this time, and he grabbed a granola bar and a banana as everyone searched for their backpacks, shoes, and jackets.
"Are we still expecting the whole pack for dinner tonight?" The Sheriff asked, glancing at the calendar hanging on the kitchen wall while he gathered up his own belongings.
"That's the plan. Pot roast, six o'clock sharp," Stiles said around a mouthful of granola.
The Sheriff nodded and quickly thought over his schedule for the day. Barring any unforeseen complications at work that should fit into his schedule just fine. "I'll be there if I can," he told them, not wanting to promise when he couldn't be absolutely sure.
"Awesome," Stiles said and reached for the front door with his hands full, Lydia batting his hands out of the way after a moment and leading everyone out.
"Bye!" the kids called as they left, the girls both smiling at him, Isaac waving awkwardly and ducking his head, and Stiles rushing back in the house to grab his lacrosse stick from where he'd left it in the hallway last night. "Bye dad," Stiles shouted.
"Have a good day. Good luck on your test," he called, and then because they were teenagers and he was the Sheriff he felt compelled to add "Drive safe!"
Thirty minutes later the Sheriff was at his own desk going through everything on his to-do list and organizing the adjusted patrol schedule. Being home for dinner that night wouldn't be a problem if the rest of his day went like this.
There hadn't been any major traffic accidents reported that afternoon or evening, and he knew he would have heard if anything big had happened at the school. Just last spring he wouldn't have worried overly much about coming home for dinner and finding an empty house. Stiles had spent most of his time with Scott - though now he knew that at least part of that time had been with the pack as well - and the Sheriff's schedule was inconsistent enough that he hadn't expected Stiles to be home at mealtimes. Now, when he'd grown used to knowing where Stiles was - and where Isaac was, and usually where Erica was as well - it set him on edge to be the only one at home when the kids had planned to be there.
He reminded himself that they were teenagers, that their plans were subject to teenaged whims, and it was possible they'd gotten distracted and decided to do something else for dinner and had forgotten to let him know. With his finger hovering over Stiles' name on his contact list, the Sheriff pressed call and listened as the phone rang and then went to Stiles' voicemail. "Just wanted to know if everyone decided to do something else for dinner, call me when you get this," the Sheriff said and hung up. He was considering texting Stiles as well, because sometimes Stiles was better about answering texts than he was answering phone calls, when he heard the front door open.
The Sheriff stepped out into the hallway, Stiles' name halfway to his lips, when he abruptly jolted into action at the sight of Boyd carrying Danny and blood soaking both of their shirts. His hand was on his holster as he hurried forward to the front door, leaving enough space for Boyd to carry Danny into the living room. "Were you followed?" he asked, bracing himself against the doorframe as he scanned the darkened neighborhood.
"I don't think so," Boyd called from the living room.
"Do we need to get Danny to the emergency room?" the Sheriff asked next, already working out the logistics of how they could load Danny into the car without exposing them to further danger.
"I'm not sure yet, I need the first aid kit," Boyd said, and there was just a hint of panic in his voice.
The Sheriff looked over the neighborhood one last time before closing the door. After a moment of hesitation he left it unlocked, not wanting to lock any of the kids out if something was after them. If that something came in the house, well, the Sheriff had a Glock in his ankle holster loaded with wolfsbane bullets and a serious problem with anything that attacked his kids.
He retrieved the supplemented first aid kid from the bathroom, along with all the towels he could find, and hurried back to the living room. Boyd had set Danny on the floor and was holding him down by one shoulder while he tried to peel Danny's shirt away. The Sheriff knelt down on the other side of Danny, taking in the way Danny was holding his arms against his chest.
"Danny, son, we need to take a look at how bad it is," he said, slipping his hands around Danny's wrists and gently tugging his arms away from his chest. "What was he hit with?" he asked Boyd.
"Claws," Boyd said shortly as he took one of the towels to wipe away the blood from Danny's chest. There were no visible wounds on his chest or abdomen and Boyd paused for a moment and then turned to the tattered remains of Danny's shirt sleeves. "Hold him still while I get these off."
The Sheriff held Danny's hand and kept his other hand reassuringly on Danny's shoulder. "Hang in there. You'll be fine," he said, channeling all the calm that he'd learned both from his time in the Sheriff's Department and from raising Stiles.
Danny's eyes opened and his lips parted as he soundlessly panted. "I'm okay. He was going for my face," he managed to say even as his entire body trembled.
"Okay," the Sheriff agreed, his stomach twisting at seeing Danny trying to stay stoic while he was still losing blood. "You're doing great. Just keep looking at me. There you go."
Boyd was moving swiftly, yet as gently as was possible under the circumstances. He cut away the rest of Danny's sleeves, revealing deep scratches down both Danny's forearms. "These need stitches," he said quietly as he used some gauze to try to stop the worst of the bleeding.
"I'll call Melissa, she's not on shift right now," the Sheriff said, reaching with his mostly clean hand to his pocket for his cellphone.
"No!" Boyd said, one of his hands darting out to stop the Sheriff. He removed his hand from the Sheriff's wrist almost immediately, seeming surprised by his own speed and strength.
"No?" the Sheriff asked, squeezing Danny's hand when Danny shivered noticeably.
Boyd shook his head. "We can't bring her here until we know it's safe; they'll go after the humans first, especially if there isn't a wolf with them. Either we wait, or we take Danny to the hospital and I'll keep both of you safe. Those are my orders."
The Sheriff stared, not certain if he wanted to ask if those orders were from Derek or Stiles. He also didn't want to think about Boyd keeping him, the Sheriff of Beacon Hills, safe. "What's out there?" he finally asked.
"Another pack," Boyd said, looking down and adjusting his grip on the gauze.
"I dropped my blade," Danny said, tipping his head back to look at Boyd. "Deaton is going to kill me."
Boyd shook his head. "Don't worry about it. The others will be here soon."
The Sheriff didn't need werewolf lie detection skills so see that Boyd was hoping this was true as he looked to the door. "How many?" he asked, his heart rate picking up at the thought of the kids out there fighting a more experienced pack. A pack of adults. A pack of born werewolves. A pack without humans.
Boyd shook his head again. "Couldn't get a good look. More than we thought. The others will be here soon. Derek and Stiles will bring them," he said as he looked toward the window and then closed his eyes. He was listening to everything surrounding the house, the Sheriff realized. Boyd reached for the Sheriff's hand again and placed it on the gauze around Danny's forearm. "Keep pressure on this. There is a jar of Mountain Ash in the bottom of the first aid kit, use it to make a circle around yourself and Danny if you hear anything suspicious. Shoot only if you have a kill shot, don't waste bullets."
With his hand tight on the gauze, years with the Sheriff's Department honing his first aid skills, the Sheriff watched as Boyd quickly strode away. He wanted to call out, tell Boyd to stay out of harm's way while he went to investigate whatever it was that Boyd had heard, but he couldn't leave Danny now either. Danny's hand squeezing on his brought his attention back to the more immediate situation.
"I have a rune-etched dagger in a sheath at my ankle, if you need it," Danny said, his gaze locking onto the Sheriff's. "Won't do a lot, but it will make a werewolf back off for long enough to pull your gun."
The Sheriff stared, mostly shocked at the utter grim sincerity in Danny's voice. This wasn't information that had been passed on, a lesson spoken; this was something Danny had learned from experience. "I'll keep you safe," he promised, adjusting the way he was kneeling so that had a better angle on the doorway.
The familiar sound of the backdoor creaking as it swung all the way open made both of them tense and they waited in frozen silence for the attack to come. Footsteps in the hallway came quickly and the Sheriff dropped Danny's hand and pulled his wolfsbane loaded Glock from his ankle holster and aimed at the doorway. His finger was resting on the trigger and it was only the fact that he was in his own home that gave him that second's pause that allowed him to refrain from shooting Derek.
Derek was just as bloody as Boyd had been and he waited until the Sheriff pointed the weapon at the floor before moving quickly to Danny's side. "We chased them out of our territory. Scott and Allison are bringing Scott's mom here just in case she was needed. Everyone else is on their way in," Derek said, though it was difficult to tell if he was speaking to Danny or to the Sheriff.
"Everyone's okay?" Danny asked.
Derek reached down and touched his hand to Danny's shoulder. "Yeah, you took the worst of it. Everyone else is already healing. Let me look," he said, this time glancing to the Sheriff with a grim expression.
The Sheriff took his hand from the gauze and found a towel to wipe his own hands on while Derek examined the scratches.
"These aren't deep enough to turn you," he said finally after he examined the wounds. "We need to wash them with a emulsion of Mountain Ash before they're closed up. Can you stand?"
Danny managed to sit, his face going pale under the smears of blood. "Maybe with help," he said with a grimace.
Before the Sheriff could move in to help, Erica and Isaac came into the room and rushed to Danny's side. "Stiles is already setting up the bathroom," Erica said, wiping blood from her own forehead onto her torn pants. Isaac and Erica carefully eased Danny to his feet and helped him from the room, Derek following with a deep frown.
The Sheriff sighed and cleaned up the living room, leaving the first aid kit and everything Melissa might need in order to suture Danny's wounds, and then he went to the kitchen to wash up. Jackson was slumped in one of the kitchen chairs, Lydia at his side as she wiped blood from gashes across his chest and shoulder.
Jackson growled, his eyes flashing, but Lydia only shook her head. "If you're going to step in front of an Alpha, then you have to live with the consequences," she said as she set aside the bloody cloth and examined the wounds more closely.
"See if I step in between you and an Alpha again," Jackson muttered, though his eyes faded back to normal.
"I didn't need you to help. I had her just fine, as I think you saw," Lydia said crisply, her gaze moving to the pair of blood soaked blades on the kitchen table. "There, you're already starting to close up."
The Sheriff took a glance at the blades, the flat of each blade having some kind of runes etched into the metal that almost seemed to repel the blood that was dripping from the surface. He decided that now was not the time to ask, maybe there was never a time when he was going to ask, and he went to the sink to wash his hands.
Boyd came in the back door a minute later and shrugged out of his bloody jacket and pulled aside his torn shirt to check on the still-healing wounds that were torn across his chest and stomach.
Looking around his kitchen, everyone in sight covered in blood and the sound of whimpers and voices coming from the nearby bathroom, the Sheriff reeled slightly at how a simple December night pot roast had turned into the aftermath of a battle. "How bad is it?" he asked Boyd quietly.
Boyd looked up, his eyes distant before he focused on the Sheriff. "Almost done healing. Won't even be a mark after an hour or so," he said, somewhere in between numb and resigned.
The front door opened and the Sheriff hurried to the hallway, figuring that most of the werewolves in the house were too distracted to notice an intruder. He found Allison and Scott in the entryway with Melissa.
"How many? Anything life threatening?" Melissa asked as she shrugged out of her coat and took her own first aid kit from Scott's hands.
"Just Danny as far as I know. Still bleeding but not critical," the Sheriff said, looking back as Erica and Isaac brought Danny from the bathroom. "I'd offer my kitchen, but right now it's occupied with bleeding werewolves."
Melissa shook her head as she looked at Danny's arms. "Living room is fine, let's get this taken care of." She followed Danny, Erica, and Isaac into the living room and the Sheriff was immediately grateful for her presence as she directed everyone into place.
Stiles stepped out of the bathroom a moment later and leaned against the wall. His arms had smudges of blood on his skin, his shirt sleeves damp, and he pushed away from the wall almost immediately to pull a semi-automatic pistol from a holster at the small of his back and unloaded the ammo with the ease that came from familiarity. When he saw his dad watching, Stiles shook his head and shrugged. "So, that happened," he said with an unhappy twist of a smile.
The Sheriff rubbed at his eyes. "You could have called me," he finally offered.
Stiles continued to shake his head. "By the time you'd have reached us it would have been over. We were investigating a breach of the territory, thought it was an Omega, and then ambushed out of nowhere. Don't even know where they're from."
"LA," Derek said as he stepped into the hallway. "I recognized the Alpha. She wasn't Alpha of their pack when I knew her, but that's the LA Pack. They're probably looking to expand their territory and thought we looked easy."
"They'll be back," Stiles said. It wasn't a question but Derek nodded.
"Not right away. They'll take time to regroup since we caught them off-guard. But they'll be back," Derek said, glancing in the direction of the living room. "I'm going to take Scott and Boyd and do a couple of loops. We'll check in on thirty minute intervals, Erica and Isaac will be listening for a howl if we need immediate backup."
Stiles only nodded once before Derek took off through the kitchen, leaving Stiles, Allison, and the Sheriff standing in the hallway.
Allison hung up Melissa's coat and stroked the curve of her crossbow absently. "I need to call my dad and let him know there's another pack interested in Beacon Hills."
Stiles walked over to her. "Don't tell him where they're from, just that there's another pack. We don't need Hunters from LA coming up here," he said, his voice pitched soft even as his gaze flickered to his dad.
"I know," Allison said, her fingers intermingling with Stiles' before she walked up the stairs.
Stiles watched her go and then looked to his dad. "I'm going to check on Jackson and renew our blades," he said, nodding as he re-holstered his pistol and then walked into the kitchen with quick, sure steps.
The Sheriff stood still for a long moment, listening to the quiet sounds from around the house, and marveled at how quickly his houseful of playful teens turned into a house of battle-ready soldiers. It wasn't a transformation he liked to see, far from it, but he wondered if it wasn't better than them being helpless and unprepared when the battle came to them. He stepped into the doorway of the living room and looked over everyone gathered there.
Melissa's quick hands had already finished on Danny's arms, both of his forearms wrapped wrist to elbow in white bandages. Isaac had one of his hands on Danny's bare collarbone and he was trembling with his eyes closed and his skin pale and sickly except for where both of his forearms were bright red.
Before the Sheriff could ask what was happening, Erica reached over and tugged on Isaac's wrist. "No more, let him rest," she said.
"I can take more," Isaac said, not moving his hand or opening his eyes.
Danny reached up with one of his hands and gently pushed Isaac away. "I'm good. Any more and I'm going to fall asleep," he said. His voice had a detached quality but was still much better than he had sounded only thirty minutes prior.
Isaac gasped as he sunk down onto the couch next to Danny, tipping his head back onto the cushions, and Erica pressed against Isaac's side and took his hand into hers.
Melissa gathered the small tray she'd placed her needles and tools on and walked from the living room into the bathroom, glancing back when the Sheriff followed her. "He was taking Danny's pain so I could do the sutures without administering a local sedative," she explained without the Sheriff having to ask. "Apparently he and Scott hang out at the animal clinic and practice on Deaton's patients."
The Sheriff smiled tightly at her tone of disbelief.
"They're all alive, that's what matters. Right?" she asked, looking up from where she'd peeled off her gloves and had started vigorously washing her hands.
It took a minute but the Sheriff nodded. "Sometimes that's all we can ask for."