There's something wicked in the air that night. Small creatures stay in their nests and deep dens, owls hoot mournfully as the shadows move under full moon. There are few brave beings on the trail this night but even they are overly careful as fireflies light up the cold November night.
The Nemeton doesn't have branches nor leaves but somehow careful ears hear the humming surrounding the stump of once mighty tree.
Beacon Hills doesn't sleep soundly that night.
The night shift at Eichen House is already used to those long late hours under the full moon - the crazy moon, they call it, as their collection of freaks, beasts and loonies at the lowest level stay restless. Screams, moans and insane, insane laughter tremble the air. Someone hums Vivaldi. Someone else screams something about how they shall not sleep though poppies grow.
Deaton wakes to shadows moving on his walls, to this weird feeling you something have that you forgot about something important or that something is about to happen and you don't know what, just know that it will. He pulls his sheets - damp with sweat - off the bed and without turning on the light goes to his library. With shaking hands the Emissary unties the pouch containing runes carved in bone and throws them at the table. What they show, doesn't make any sense. Runes laugh at him the way they rarely do and he spends the rest of the night hunched over the table, trying to understand.
Lydia wakes with a startled sound partly resembling a gasp and laugh. She slowly sits up on the bed, fingers feverishly looking for something to hold on to, eyes huge and open wide, moon shining in tears on her face.
"Something's coming," she whispers, shaken. Her fingers finally find what they've been looking for and suddenly she's safely held by powerful arms and pressed to a chest smelling of forest and wolfsbane.
He doesn't shush her, just lets her look for solace in his embrace. From time to time his hand touches her hair, strokes it, fingers gently massaging her scalp.
"Something bad?" he asks eventually, lying back with her on his chest. Lydia hums quietly.
"I don't know. A change."
Peter smiles sleepily and buries his nose in her tresses, breathes her in deeply, looking for any further signs of distress in her scent. Doesn't found any.
"Then we kill it in the morning. Sleep, love."
He falls asleep again, eventually. Lydia, curled up on him, staying as close to him as possible, waits for the sunrise in silence.
Stiles sleeps fitfully, his dreams still haunted by the Nogitsune and all the terrible deeds it had done while wearing his face, by using his hands. He cries in his sleep, sometimes wakes up, calling Allison's name. Mostly, he just keeps dreaming, stuck in the nightmare.
Derek spends most of his nights on a very particular tree, just behind the backyard of Stilinski house. His nose twitches slightly, catching the bitter scent of misery and pain coming from Stiles' bedroom. He stays on his tree. It's not as strong as it used to be just after Allison's funeral, when Derek and sheriff took turns watching Stiles. No, tonight he doesn't have to leave his tree to try and sooth something unsoothable with gentle hands and careful brushes of his lips on Stiles' forehead.
Derek's almost disappointed. So much, he misses the fireflies.
John Stilinski is probably the most level-headed person you'll ever meet. Sure, he has a bit of an alcohol problem and tends to be an overprotective parent – but for fuck's sake, cut the guy some slack. He got kidnapped by a darach, almost got brutally murdered, learned that werewolves, magical trees and God knows, what else, are actually real, all that in one night – and did not become a permanent resident of Eichen House. That's more than you can say about most of the good people of Beacon Hills, California.
Sure, he sometimes feels the urge to pack his bags, grab his kid and run before the real life version of Hellmouth decides to open up and swallow them whole. Who wouldn't? Only an insane man and John Stilinski is as sane as they come.
Even if he has wolfsbane-laced bullets, asked Chris Argent for some pointers and regularly consults Melissa, just to check that it all is real, he didn't go completely bonkers and there's no need to check himself to the loony bin.
Yes, John Stilinski is probably the most level-headed person you'll ever meet so when he opens his door at 6 AM and finds a huge ass wolf with glowing blue eyes sitting patiently on his doormat, he doesn't reach for his gun. No. He politely invites the wolf to come in (it even wipes off its paws before entering), closes the door and goes to make two cups of coffee.
“Stiles,” he says few minutes later, standing over his sleeping son. Carefully lowering the cup filled with sweet coffee, he waits for the scent to wake Stiles up. “Come on, buddy. You have a visitor.”
Some mumbling and grabby hand reaching for coffee (and missing by a mile). It's alive! The sheriff moves a step away and is about to put the mug on the bedside table when something huge and furry passes him, jumping on the bed and landing on Stiles.
The wolf barks once and wags its fluffy tail, visibly happy with itself. Stiles, most definitely less thrilled, stares at the huge animal. And before John tells him to mind his language, his son asks:
“Derek? What the hell, dude?”
Instead of changing back and answering, Derek barks again and licks Stiles' face before burying his muzzle in crook of young man's neck. Stiles looks at his father questioningly. Sheriff just smiles and takes a sip of his coffee.
“Another Saturday in Sunnyville.”
“Whatever, son. Whatever.”
And with that, he leaves Stiles under something around hundred pounds of muscles, fur and toothy grins.
It's a day full of learning new things and experiencing new stuff. Like how Stiles didn't know before that you can hate Saturdays this much. And that wolves are annoying, stubborn assholes who will not cooperate with you, oh no, even if you ask nicely. Nope. Or maybe it's that particular wolf?
“Dude. I don't think he wants me to come any closer.”
Stiles eyes critically the whole scene. Scott standing in the doorway of the Stilinski house, called in the barbaric early morning for help with a werewolf who apparently got stuck in the wolf form. Said wolf, standing at the bottom of the stairs, looking at Scott with murder in his eyes and muscles tight, ready to jump. And himself. Stuck behind the overprotective furry asshole.
“No shit.” Stiles sighs heavily. “Could you at least call Deaton? And, as much as it pains me, Peter.”
At that even Derek turns his head and looks at Stiles, clearly questioning his judgment. Scott blinks.
“Peter. Are you sure the crazy ex-dead uncle is the right person to call now, Stiles?”
“Formerly crazy, currently sleeping with Lydia,” Stiles sighs deeply. “Seriously, am I really the only one with eyes in this pack? Not to mention that she probably smells like him, right? Honestly, Scott. Work on your nose. And not a word to the rest of the pack, Lydia will probably kill me herself. And out resident psycho will help her bury the evidence.”
Derek makes a loud, complaining noise and turns to nudge Stiles' thigh with his muzzle. The man sighs again, wondering why the hell does it always happen to him. Maybe the Hellmouth theory is actually worth a crap.
“Go, Scott,” he adds, seeing that his best friend is still hesitating. “I'll be fine with Mr Stubborn here to protect me from evil things. Rabid coffeemakers and bloodthirsty fridges included.”
Derek barks once.
Yeah, it's a day filled with discovery. Stiles makes a list:
- wolves like coffee. Or at least this one does,
- mugs are for people, not for wolves but if you pour coffee to a bowl, your wolf will take offense and ignore you for ten minutes,
- small pieces of a ceramic mug are surprisingly hard to pick from the carpet fibers,
- wolves treat vacuum cleaner the same way they would treat a deer. Vacuum cleaners have, not surprisingly, no way to outrun their sad, sad fate,
- small pieces of plastic from the vacuum cleaner are even harder to remove from the carpet than porcelain,
- the postman will probably write a complaint. Or, on the plus side, maybe he'll bee too scared to do it,
- over a hundred pounds of fur that insists on sitting on you can be a real pain but the air is chilly and they can't really afford to spend a lot on heating the house so it's a nice change, being so warm,
- Derek's fur smells of pine resin and wind. Stiles may or may not nodded off with his face buried in this scent. He doesn't dream.
“I have some idea what is happening to him but nothing for sure,” says Deaton and Stiles freezes where he's seating on the floor in his own living room.
“Good to know some things never change,” he mutters. Derek licks Stiles' hand and then growls at the Emissary. Lydia, standing next to the druid, looks thoroughly unimpressed.
“Isn't it obvious?” she asks and sighs theatrically when four confused looks land on her. Scott makes a questioning sound. Lydia snorts. “Think about it. Derek went through an evolution, gained new powers and abilities so everything about him has changed, including the most basic factor. Think, Stiles! What makes a wolf act like a man?”
With an unintelligible yell, Stiles hits his own forehead. Hard. Derek growls at him and immediately tries to cover the reddening area with as much saliva as possible.
“Hey, stop it, you furry bastard… Lydia, you're right, why haven't I thought about that earlier?”
Deaton nods and now only Scott looks like he has no idea what's going on, which is probably what's happening here. Not the first time, not the last. Poor soul, he's a good boy but not the smartest cookie, isn't he?
Well, to be completely honest, it's hard to say if Derek understands what they're talking about. Stiles' long, nimble fingers found that nice spot behind his left ear and now he's as close to purring as he can be without losing the last shred of dignity.
“Could someone explain this to me? A simple werewolf here, not a genius,” Scott smiles at them gently, used to how they tend to forget about the fact that not everyone is as smart as Lydia Martin.
“Derek has changed so his anchor isn't enough anymore, can't ground him the way it used to,” explains Deaton, runes in his palm clattering quietly. “When he finds a new one, everything will get back to normal.”
Scott looks like he's chewing that piece of information.
“So...no end-of-the-world huge fight? No enemy to plot against, to apocalypse to avert? I can go back to playing Call of Duty?”
Lydia nods. Stiles tries not to look betrayed – having the terrible fate of a vacuum cleaner in mind, he will not risk his gaming equipment. With a sigh, he turns to look at the wolf who is taking a nap on his legs, huge paws with sharp claws right over the artery. Stiles smiles. He doesn't feel threatened, not even for a second.
“Great. If we've established that everything's gonna be fine, I'm off to stop Peter from trying to take over the pack. I swear to God, one day we will have to put this man down like a rabid dog,” she says with a fond smile. “Oh, hi, sheriff. Good news. Hellmouth is not opening today.”
“Good to know, Buffy,” John smiles at the redhead and looks at the small gathering – Deaton sitting in an armchair and playing with runes, Scott perched on the chair closest to the exit, Lydia standing in the doorway leading to the hall. Stiles, on the floor, wrapped in a blanket and a huge wolf.
Just another day in Sunnydale, indeed.
“One of those days we will get what we're just asking for and the town will get overrun by vampires, mark my words,” says Stiles grimly, scratching Derek's neck, fingers tangled in long, silky fur. Scott eyes him weirdly but doesn't say a word. Good guy Scott.
“I'll sharpen my stakes,” Lydia laughs and waves goodbye to them, then, with clicking of the heels leave the house. Peter is waiting for her outside. His throat, almost ripped out by Derek's fangs, has probably already healed.
Or not. Derek's muzzle is still damp and leaves coppery smudges on Stiles' skin and clothing. Not that he cares. He's been covered in fluids more gross than the blood of their common frenemy.
“Come, Scott, we should head back to the clinic,” the druid stands up and nods to John. “If anything happens, you have my number, right?”
“Yes, thank you,” smiles the sheriff and walks Deaton and Scott out. Stiles looks down, at the napping wolf.
“Well, so where do you want to start looking for an anchor? Run around the Preserve? Go home? Something from the Hale vault, huh?”
Derek starts to snore.
“I think he's not interested, kid,” comments John, crossing the room and disappearing in the kitchen. “Stakes for dinner? Rare for your friend there.”
Stiles dreams of comfort.
He dreams of a warm place and sunlight, and a soft fabric underneath his palms. No, not fabric. Fur? No. Skin. Bare skin. He dreams of pines and scent of wind, and none of those dark, twisted things that usually crawl from the corners of his mind appear. They cannot enter this place he's dreaming of, it's a safe harbor made of warmth and caresses, of murmurs and slow, delicate kisses.
When Stiles wakes up, it's the middle of the night, rain is beating at his windows and something heavy, warm and very much alive is covering most of his body like the best blanket. He blinks sleepily as gusts of hot air caress the thin skin of his neck. Oh. Yes. That's where this glorious feeling of being completely safe came from.
Stiles looks at Derek, wolf's huge head laying on Stiles' chest, right over the heart. It's intimate, he knows. If someone attacked them right now, they would literally have to kill Derek first before getting to Stiles.
It's comforting, in some weird and morbid way. So the boy embraces his wolf and falls asleep again, going back to dreaming of warmth and pines.
Outside, fireflies twinkle, dance in the air with a soft, barely-there humming and disappear in the dark depths of the woods. Even the pouring rain can't dampen their happiness. Elsewhere, in a place known only to few chosen ones, what is left of the once old and powerful tree thrums with power.
John Stilinski is probably the most level-headed person you'll ever meet so when he peaks to his son's room in the early morning and sees him tangled with another, most definitely human figure, he just smiles and moves to find a comforter. Moss-green fabric covers at least some of the nudity.
John chuckles quietly and heads out to work.
Stiles startles out of the rest of his dream – some small part of his brain notes that it's the first time he's felt so rested and full of energy in weeks, if not months – and opens his eyes to see Derek's face just centimeters from his. A second taken to assess the situation tells him that his left thigh is trapped between Derek's, that his right leg is thrown over werewolf's hips and that for some reason they are holding hands, fingers tightly clasped together.
He's not sure what is the bigger surprise: that Derek is human again, that he didn't run away the second he woke up or that it feels right, like something inside of Stiles is whole again. No. Not whole. More because there is a connection now, one that wasn't there before. It heals the dark places or at least it will, eventually. If not now then later, after they grow comfortable with bare skin sliding against bare skin, after they learn meanings behind tastes of kisses and stormy embraces. Now Stiles has this frightening, exhilarating surety that there will be a “later” and that is more than enough.
“So,” he answers softly “is it just me or is this weirdly un-weird?”
Derek's eyes flash with blue and he gently muzzles Stiles' neck. Scenting, his still slightly foggy brain says usefully and, somehow, in the voice of one Lydia Martin, he's been scenting you since yesterday morning. Stiles smiles, planting a kiss on Derek's temple.
The boy and his wolf stay like that, listening to the rain.
“You think they've figured it out?”
Lydia looks up from her textbooks and notes with her thesis and makes a face as Peter flops down next to her, completely ruining the neat pile of papers. As a revenge, she shoves her cold feet under his thigh.
“They are slow but not that completely stupid,” she answers after a moment, closing her eyes in delight when Peter's capable, warm hands start kneading her toes and arches of her feet. The sound of rain is soothing, scent of freshly brewed coffee fills her nostrils… Life is good, for now. Their friends are safe, at least for now, there is no urgent catastrophe or end of the world as they know it, nothing to hurry to. Sometimes she misses it, the insane tempo of those days when the weight of the world was on their shoulders. But then she usually reminds herself of the taste of her own scream, how it tasted of blood when she screamed for Allison that one last time.
“Well, it is rather unorthodox, isn't it? Derek with his guilt that he was so weak, undergoing his change at the same time as Stiles was possessed, not noticing it earlier, not being able to stop it… And Stiles, well, you know that his issues can rival mine.”
“No one's issues can rival yours, dear,” her smile is sharp and fond at the same time. “You made me an anchor via the bite – that was unorthodox. They? It's a logical consequence of previous events. Everything is fine, Peter, don't you worry your pretty head.”
He doesn't look convinced but he swallows the comment he has on the tip of his tongue and kisses the elegant arch of her foot.