“Well? Got one?” Stiles asked impatiently, swatting at the mosquitos that had been persistently buzzing his ears for the past hour.
Scott, somehow unaffected by the pests - maybe mosquitos didn’t like werewolf blood - closed his eyes and sniffed the air. “Yeah. That way.” He raised a hand and pointed vaguely to the right.
The pair tromped off deeper into the woods, on the scent of the animal that Scott was tracking. They walked in comfortable silence for about ten minutes, Scott sniffing the air or tilting his head to listen better every so often, until he shot out a hand and stopped Stiles.
“There,” he pointed.
Stiles flicked a mosquito off his arm - mid-bite, of course, because he was just that undeniably delicious to the damn things - and looked to where Scott was pointing. There, between two young pine trees, was a deer. A doe. It was frozen, staring at them. Or, more specifically, Scott.
“Good job, man,” Stiles said quietly, trying not to spook the animal. He pulled out a notepad and marked down some notes and numbers.
Scott continued to look at the deer. He took a step closer. The doe remained rooted to the spot. Scott raised his hand slowly, then took another step, then another. And another, right onto a small dry twig that cracked loudly under his sneaker. Then the doe was off like a shot, bounding away in the opposite direction. Scott sighed and stuck his hands in his pockets.
“Hoping for a Snow White moment there?” Stiles grinned and stuck his notepad back in his shirt pocket.
“Hey, I’m getting better at not spooking them,” Scott retorted.
“I hate to break it to you man, but they’re never gonna like you. It’s like an instinctual thing. They can sense the wolfiness on you.”
“Maybe,” Scott turned away from where the doe had stood and smirked. “Or maybe they just get offended by the stink of curly fries.”
Stiles’ mouth dropped open. “You wound me.”
Scott shook his head then brushed past Stiles, heading back to the jeep. Once behind Scott, Stiles sniffed at his shirt. No curly fry smell. “Punk,” he muttered, then followed his friend out of the forest.
After he dropped Scott off at home, Stiles went back to his house. His dad was at work, as expected for a Tuesday afternoon, so he went straight to his room and flipped on his computer. He wanted to enter in the data from today’s practice with Scott into the ongoing spreadsheet.
Summer so far had gone fairly uneventfully. Despite the warning from the alpha pack, they still hadn’t shown. Derek thought they might be here, but just not showing their faces yet. Hiding out, planning whatever plans they needed in order to do whatever they were gonna do. Man, they really needed some more information on these guys. Whatever the case, the past month had been quiet. Scott and Stiles had spent at least a few hours of nearly every day together, which was on par with every summer previous.
What wasn’t on par with every summer previous was what they were up to, most days. Video games or lacrosse skirmishes in the street were no longer the primary activities. Now, it was Werewolf Training.
The name was descriptive of their sessions, though not nearly as piquant as the names Stiles had come up with: 16 and Wolfy, So You Think You’re a Werewolf, The Amazing Wolf, Top Wolf, Who Wants to Be a Werewolf?, An American Werewolf in Beacon Hills, The Wolf Factor, Keeping Up with the Kanima (which Stiles admitted didn’t make much sense, but the alliteration was required for the comedy factor), I Survived an Alpha Attack, and The Real Wolf. Sure, some of those were a bit of a mouthful, but Stiles was partial to that last one himself, which was pretty succinct. Unfortunately Scott had disagreed, thwacked Stiles on the back of the head, and said How about... Werewolf Training.
Boring, but accurate, Stiles had conceded.
He brought up his spreadsheet and punched in the latest data. Over the past month, Scott had become four minutes faster in tracking deer. He’d also been able to maintain control over his heart rate for longer. They were making headway.
Of course, none of it still compared to when Scott had had Allison to center him. Stiles wasn’t a substitute for Allison in a girlfriend-y way, but he was trying his damnedest to be a substitute in the wolf-control-giver sort of way. Stiles figured it was really only a matter of time before Scott and Allison ended up back together. But then they’d probably end up apart again after that. Back, forth, back, forth. That was their MO. But it also meant she was an unreliable presence in Scott’s life. Stiles wasn’t. He knew the job fell to him to keep Scott in line. To keep control of his wolfy side.
Stiles thought he was doing pretty well, but the first real test of their progress was coming up in a couple days, with the full moon. The last one had come up very early on in their training, and they had no hope of trying to keep Scott under control. He’d ended up wolfing out about five minutes after the moon came out, and wouldn’t respond to Stiles at all. Fortunately, they’d planned ahead of time and had used about eight million pounds of chains to keep him restrained inside an abandoned warehouse. Stiles was hopeful that after a month of working with Scott, they’d have much better success this time around.
Stiles leaned back in his computer chair, hands behind his head. It was safe to say he felt pretty confident. They were best friends, they’d been training like crazy for a month. This was definitely gonna work.
And no way were those famous last words.
Deaton rolled his head, hearing his neck crack repeatedly as he did so. He’d been sitting in the deer stand up in the tree for almost three hours. He’d gotten to know Scott and Stiles’ usual routine pretty well, but they were still teenagers, and though they might average a trip through the forest at 2pm most days, the standard deviation of their schedule could be off by as much as four hours.
Fortunately, today it wouldn’t be quite that long. After a few moments, he heard the murmur of teenage voices coming from somewhere ahead of him. Deaton squinted and saw a flash of red through the trees - Stiles’ hoodie. He pulled out his binoculars. Scott was on the trail of something - probably a deer, which seemed to be their “prey” of choice on these jaunts. Scott’s face was pointed up in the air, and he was sniffing. Deaton was downwind; he knew Scott wouldn’t smell him. He did seem to get a whiff of the deer, though, as the two were off again shortly.
Deaton followed their progress through the brush. Their voices faded as they walked farther away from him, but he could still see them through the binoculars. They finally found the deer. Deaton smiled as he watched Scott reach out as if to pet the thing, but it got spooked and ran off. He watched the two boys talk for a minute then they left again, clearly done for the day.
Good, Deaton thought. He packed the binoculars in his bag and stretched. Scott and Stiles were making progress, but he knew it wouldn’t be enough. The full moon was in two days. He was sure Stiles wasn’t prepared for what lay ahead.
Deaton left the stand, shimmying down the tree, and landed with a thud on the ground. He looked up at the pale, nearly round disc of moon in the bright blue afternoon sky, peeking out above the treetops. He wasn’t sure if he believed in any gods, but if he did, he might believe in a god of the moon. It was the only heavenly force that he had seen wield real power on the Earth, as well as cause real devastation. Its effects were tangible. And it was time for Scott and Stiles to feel that for themselves.
He hoisted his bag onto his shoulder and left the forest. He had preparations to make.
Stiles arrived at Scott’s place early - way before sunset. He walked right into the house through the front door, as he’d begun doing ever since Scott’s mom yelled at him “for the last time” about climbing in through the windows. He didn’t bother knocking, because a - that was a time waster (as if anyone would say No Stiles, you can’t come in?), and b - Scott was probably in a deep, zen, meditative trance, focusing his wolfy aura or whatever. Stiles expected crystals, and incense, and all of the shades to be drawn, a calm and content Scott sitting cross-legged on his bed, having become one with the moon and universe and his wolf.
Instead, what he found was a war zone. Or, what could have passed for one.
Aside from the usual dirty laundry everywhere and unmade bed, there were several open bags of chips and cookies, half a dozen empty cans of soda strewn on the floor, and Scott and Isaac in the middle of it all, game console controllers in hand.
“Hey Stiles,” Isaac said once he caught sight of Stiles. “Sup?”
“Oh hey, you’re early,” Scott said, popping a Dorito into his mouth.
Stiles was almost too astonished to say anything. Almost. “What. The hell. Is going on here?”
Scott didn’t look up as he smashed the buttons on his controller. “We’re playing Mario Kart 64.”
Isaac grinned. Stiles rolled his eyes. “Yes, I can see that. But did you forget what day it is?”
“Of course not,” Scott actually sounded a bit offended. “Isaac just wanted to come by and hang for a bit before the change. Give me a pep talk.”
“Yeah, I can see a lot of pepping went on in here. I’m not so sure about the talking.” Stiles threw himself down on the bed and crossed his arms, annoyed.
Scott looked away from the screen, sensing Stiles’ irritation. “What’d I do now?”
“Hah!” Isaac shouted in triumph. While Scott wasn’t looking, he’d launched a turtle and knocked Scott off the road. Isaac zoomed into the lead.
Scott tossed down the controller, conceding his eventual loss, and twisted around to face Stiles. “What is it?”
“Nothing, dude, it’s just - today’s kind of a big day, a sink or swim sort of thing, you know? I thought you’d be preparing or something. Psyching yourself out, to prove once and for all you can control this thing on your own.”
“I know, Stiles, I know. Believe me! It’s all we’ve talked about every day since me and Allison broke up. It’s a big deal. I get it.” Scott was irritated too, now, a month’s worth of frustration over training and exercises and data and concentrate, Scott, concentrate! bubbling to the surface.
Isaac paused the game and looked between the two friends, nonplussed. These two argued all the time. Like an old married couple. He grinned to himself over that.
“If you get it so much, then why are you goofing around?” Stiles asked, exasperated.
“Because I’m so stressed out, I figured maybe relaxing a bit by taking my mind off things might actually help,” Scott said.
Stiles shook his head, feeling every bit like Scott’s mom at that moment.
“Can I just ask -” Isaac interjected, “- what happened there, anyway? Allison broke up with you and now you can’t control your wolf side anymore?”
Scott pouted a little. “She was my anchor. We’re not in close contact anymore with the whole avoiding each other thing and I’ve lost my control again. Last full moon I spent chained to a bunch of piping.”
Isaac raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure you don’t want to come to Derek’s with me? Maybe he can help you. He helped me.”
“He doesn’t need Derek, he’s got me,” Stiles cut in, offended.
“Yeah, well, last I checked, you weren’t a born werewolf with accumulated knowledge of a family history with lycanthropy under your belt.”
Stiles made a mocking face at him, though he didn’t really have a retort. There was truth in Isaac’s words, and that stung.
“I’ve tried to train with Derek before. It didn’t work out so well.” Scott shrugged, his anger having faded. “I like working with Stiles. At least he doesn’t keep secrets from me.”
Isaac held up his hands in a show of non-combativeness. “Just a suggestion.”
“How’d he help you, anyway?” Stiles asked Isaac, curious.
“He told me to find my anchor,” Isaac said.
Stiles waited, but no more information seemed to be forthcoming. “And?” he prompted.
“And, I did.”
“Well, thanks for the advice,” Stiles said. “That is some real sage shit.”
Isaac grinned. “Maybe it just comes more naturally to me.”
“Yeah, right. Scott, we should probably get to the warehouse pretty soon. We have to get you chained up. Just in case this doesn’t work.”
Isaac took that as his cue to leave. He stood up and brushed orange chip dust off his jeans. “You guys have a good time in the creepy warehouse district.”
“Says the guy about to go hang out with a bunch of other werewolves in the creepy abandoned train station?” Stiles retorted.
“Always nice talking to you, Stiles,” Isaac replied. He and Scott gave each other a handshake hug before Isaac left. Stiles resisted the urge to stick his tongue out at them both, only mildly jealous of his friend having another friend.
Scott got ready, turning off his game and television and rooting around in his piles of laundry for a hoodie to wear. “Man, I don’t feel so good,” he said as he picked up a grey heather zip hoodie and gave it the sniff test. “My stomach is like.. glargh.”
“Glargh, is that a medical term?” Stiles deadpanned.
“Deaton’s been big into protein shakes lately. He’s on a health kick or something. He had me taste his latest one this morning while I was at work. I think that’s made my stomach upset.”
Stiles looked around the wreckage of the wrappers and bags on the room. “Yeah, sure, and it couldn’t have been the fact that you’ve eaten half the junk food aisle today.”
“What, this stuff? No, this is pretty normal for me,” Scott said without a trace of irony. He slipped on his hoodie and tugged on a pair of shoes.
“Maybe it’s just your body anticipating the wolfy time. Picking up on your nervousness.”
“Yeah, maybe,” Scott said. “Okay, I’m ready. Let’s go.”
“Here we go,” Stiles grinned. “The Real Wolf: Episode 2.”
“How’s that feel?” Stiles asked, securing the last lock in place.
Scott wriggled his arms, which had shackles attached to loops of chain, which were then attached to the biggest, most solid-looking pipe they could find in the abandoned warehouse. The chains made clink noises as he was moving around, testing their strength. “Seems okay. This kept me in place last month. I think we’ll be okay.”
Stiles nodded. He pulled out a chair and plopped down into it. From his vantage point he could just see a piece of the sky out of a bank of dusty windows high on the nearest wall. The sky was still blue, but beginning to darken. Stiles turned on the portable electric lantern they had brought, casting a dim pool of light that just barely illuminated the area they were standing in. It was going to be a long night. Unless, of course, Scott managed to keep the change under control.
Stiles looked over at his friend, who was double- and triple-checking that the shackles around his wrists were secure. Those weren’t the actions of a man confident of his ability to keep himself from become a furbeast. Stiles sighed.
“What?” Scott asked.
“You don’t think you can do it,” Stiles replied. “You think you’re gonna change.”
“I think it’s a very real possibility, okay?”
“Dude, if you don’t believe in yourself, then it’s definitely not gonna work. You are the wolf’s boss. You got this.”
Scott looked irritated. “But I don’t, Stiles! I did when I had Allison. Now what do I have?”
“You’ve got me, man,” Stiles said.
“Yeah, I know. And you’re great. You’ve helped me more than anybody else. But it’s not the same.”
Stiles slouched down in his chair. “Well, with that defeatist attitude, you’ll never get your wolf under control.”
Scott had no reply to that, so Stiles dug out his phone and started up his game of Angry Birds. He imagined every pig he sent his birds sailing into had Scott’s face. Maybe he was a little too gleeful about it, but.. Scott deserved it, damnit. Stupid best friend and his stupid trust issues and stupid unwillingness to believe in me or his stupid self, he ranted to himself. The good mood he’d been working up over the past week or so, the optimism that they’d been making progress and having breakthroughs, completely fizzled away.
It wasn’t going to work.
Before long, the first dim light of the full moon was filtering through the high windows.
“Stay with me, Scott.” Stiles tried anyway, even though he could tell it wouldn’t work. “The wolf isn’t in control. You are.”
Scott just shook his head. “See you in the morning,” he said, before a snarl escaped his lips and the sound of bones crunching and shifting filled the air.
Stiles watched his friend shift to the wolf. Watched the wolf get its bearings, and realize it was chained. Watched as it lunged at Stiles - who, if asked later, would claim he didn’t even flinch, when in fact he nearly fell backwards off his chair - but be stopped short by the chains.
“Scott? You in there, bud?” Stiles figured he might as well ask.
The wolf let out a long, loud, unholy-sounding howl.
“I guess not.”
Stiles groaned. Bright morning light was piercing his eyelids, forcing him awake. But the awakening wasn’t pleasant. His back ached, his entire left arm was asleep, and there was a crusty, dried trail of drool down the side of his face. Waking up on a cold, concrete floor was not how he’d envisioned things going. He’d envisioned Scott staying Scott, then Stiles unchaining him, the both of them going for some curly fries, and then maybe the both of them calling it an early night so Stiles could retire to bed with his laptop for some alone time.
But no, Scott had to go and change into a wolf. Stiles was gonna leave, but he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t leave his friend chained up in a dark, cold warehouse by himself all damn night.
Stiles sat up and stretched, feeling and hearing just about every bone in his vertebrae pop as he did so. “Scott, wake up,” he called over his back as he wiped the drool off his face.
No response. Stiles turned around, fear making his heart leap into his throat - did Scott break free in the night?
He hadn’t. But what Stiles saw possibly scared him even worse than that. Where Scott should have been, changed back to human in the light of day, was in fact... a wolf.
Stiles’ face was the picture of confusion. You could have looked it up in the dictionary and seen it next to the definition for the word. Stiles stared up at the windows. Bright blue. Sunlight streaming in. He pulled out his phone and double-checked the time, as if that might bring some sanity to this: 7:53 am.
“What the-” Stiles muttered, and took a step towards the wolf. It was asleep, it seemed. It was laying down, its side rising and falling rhythmically, a faint wheezing noise coming from its nose. The wolf, even in its sleep, seemed to sense Stiles’ presence. It slowly came awake, gold eyes blinking open, focusing on him.
“Scott?” he tried.
The wolf leapt to its feet and growled at Stiles, who flew backwards, arms akimbo in his haste to get away.
“Oh, this is not good. This is so not good. It’s very... bad.” Stiles babbled to himself as real panic rose in him, tasting bitter in his throat and making his eyes water. Why the hell was Scott not back to normal? Had all of Stiles’ work with Scott this past month actually made things worse? Could he have done this?
Stiles put his hands over his mouth and stared at Scott. At the wolf. What was he gonna do? Could he call Derek? What would Derek do? Probably just chide him for thinking he could do anything to help Scott, of course, because Scott should have been with his own kind, other freakin’ werewolves, who knew what they were doing -
“Don’t freak out,” someone said, interrupting Stiles’ train of thought.
Stiles yelped and spun around. A figure came out of the darkness, making Stiles grasp wildly for the nearest weapon, until - ”Deaton?”
“I said don’t freak out,” he replied, pointing at the flimsy piece of broken board in Stiles’ hand which probably wouldn’t have made a very good weapon unless he was looking to give someone a really bad splinter.
“What are you doing here?” Stiles asked, throwing down the piece of wood.
“Helping with that.” Deaton nodded in the wolf’s direction. “Your unchangeable wolf problem.”
Stiles was immediately suspicious. He knew Deaton was a good boss to Scott, and had helped them before. But more than once he’d gotten the impression that Deaton wasn’t telling them the whole story. And he was having a sense of deja vu about that right now. “How did you know?”
“You think I would let an unsupervised, unpredictable werewolf roam in my town without keeping track of him?”
“That’s not what I asked,” Stiles said. “I asked, how did you know. About Scott, and his ’unchangeable wolf problem?’”
Deaton’s eyes glinted. “Because that -” Deaton paused, and looked at the wolf, who was still growling at them, but quietly, as if sensing the tension in the air, “-is my doing.”
“Your doing? What?”
“I gave him something. He’s gonna be stuck like this for a while.” Deaton brushed past Stiles and stopped just outside of the wolf’s reach.
Stiles turned to stare at Deaton’s back. Comprehension dawned on him as he remember something Scott had said the previous day. “It wasn’t a protein shake.”
“Very good, Stiles. It an old recipe, a concoction of wolfsbane and rose hips, along with a few other ingredients. It pushes a werewolf off of the cycle of the moon. Forces them to change and stay changed. That’s why he stayed a wolf despite the moon setting.”
“But why? What are you - what’s the point?”
“The point is to help you do what you’ve been trying to do this past month.”
Stiles was still confused. Deaton faced him and reached into a jacket pocket. He pulled out a little book. It was thick but small, with a worn blue binding and a half-faded gilded image of some sort of plant on the front. “This is for you.”
Stiles took it apprehensively. “O... kay,” he said. “What is it?”
“Guidebook. Right.” Stiles looked at the tome in his hand, and tipped it open. Inside the front cover were the words Credo quis impossible est scrawled in ink. If only Lydia were here, he thought wistfully. He flipped through the some pages, filled with more writing and the occasional sketch. He was relieved to see the rest was in English, though. He caught glimpses of some of the words, which included phrases like “lycanthrope cycle” and “mental convergence” and “the moon is our queen” and other increasingly bizarre things.
“This thing reads like a whackjob’s manifesto,” Stiles scoffed. “What’s it guiding me in, again?”
Deaton rolled his eyes, which was a rare reaction from the normally stoic man. Stiles felt oddly proud in that moment. “It’s guiding you on how to guide him.” He pointed emphatically at the wolf. The wolf bared its teeth in retribution for the finger in its face.
“I come from a long line of guides,” Deaton said. “We work closely with the werewolves. Help them to understand their power. Help them to control it.”
Understanding erupted in Stiles’ brain. “You’re like the Watchers!”
“What?” Deaton asked, thrown for a loop.
“You know, Buffy? You’ve seen that show, right? Every vampire slayer gets a watcher. So... every wolf gets a guide?” Stiles grinned.
Deaton stared at him. Stiles’ grin faded.
“Or, no? That’s not how it works? Give me a hint here, man.”
“Every werewolf doesn’t get a guide. Many of them have someone in their life who already fulfils that kind of role. You do, for Scott. But what they - and you - lack is knowledge, and preparation, and support. My family has handed down this knowledge through the generations. We’ve helped others become guides for their family and friends who were cursed by the bite.”
Stiles looked over briefly at Scott, still in wolf form, then back to Deaton.
“The Deatons have also been close to the Hale family for a very long time.”
“Really?” Stiles was surprised. “Derek never said anything.”
“Derek didn’t know,” Deaton replied. “The fire screwed that up. Among other things. But I knew his mother very well. I helped her through two werewolf pregnancies, which can be very tricky affairs even for a born werewolf.”
Stiles looked slightly grossed out. “Yeah, I bet.”
“I wanted to be there for Scott, to be his guide too. But I’ve got my hands full with Derek, and all the damn hunters in this town, and now the alpha pack. Preparations have to be made. I’ve got other work.”
Stiles nodded. “I bet. You seem like kinda the only sane one in this town. You know, besides me.”
Deaton smiled. “One part of that statement was correct, at least.”
Stiles ignored that. “So... is there something in this book that’s gonna tell me how to get Scott to de-wolf-i-fy himself?” Stiles looked dubiously at the book, which seemed too small and innocuous to be of any importance.
“Right again,” Deaton sounded mildly impressed. “You’re a natural at this, Stiles. You’re gonna be fine.” He turned to leave.
“Wait, wait!” Stiles called. “Can’t you just tell me what to do?”
“No. That’s part of the journey.”
“The journey, right. Well, what if I can’t?”
Deaton stopped and looked at the wolf. “I have the antidote.” He patted the pocket on his chest above his chest. “But I know it won’t come to that. Credo quis impossible est.”
“That’s in the book,” Stiles said. “What does it mean?”
“‘I believe because it is impossible.’”
And with that, Deaton left, leaving behind one werewolf and one very confused teenager.
After Deaton’s departure, Stiles spent an hour cross-legged on the floor, leafing through the book, skimming the pages hoping for some sort of reference to de-wolf-ing would jump out at him. He found nothing immediately obvious.
He slammed the book shut, which made the wolf jerk its head up from where it had been resting on its front paws. It growled low in its throat, then laid its head down again.
“Unbelievable,” Stiles muttered. “Even the wolf’s got an attitude.”
There was another growl, but this one was from Stiles’ stomach. He checked his phone - already damn near lunchtime. He considered grabbing a burger. He looked at the wolf, and wondered if it was getting hungry too.
“How about it boy? Want a steak?”
The wolf bared its teeth at him.
“Okay. I’m gonna get us some grub. Then I guess I’m going to have to just... really read this thing. For real.” Just his luck. In the middle of summer vacation, and he had to study.
He ran to town as quickly as he could, not wanting to leave the wolf alone for too long. He rushed through the grocery store for a steak and a jug of water for the wolf, and hit up the burger place for himself. While he was walking back, arms full of stuff, a car slowed, pulled alongside him, and rolled down its window.
“Stiles, what are you doing?” It was Derek. Great.
“Just running some errands,” he said, and kept walking.
Derek drove slowly next to him, keeping pace to continue the conversation through the window. “Isaac told me about yesterday. How did Scott’s transformation go?”
“Fine!” Stiles said, completely and illogically unwilling to seek help from Derek in any way, shape, or form on this matter. As weird as Deaton was, as stupid and probably useless as this book would be, it was still his job. Scott was Stiles’ friend. Stiles’ responsibility. And Stiles would fix this. Come hell, or high water, or wolfsbane.
“Then why do you have a raw steak in your hand?”
“We’re having a barbeque.” Stiles was good at flippant.
“If there’s something wrong, I need to know,” Derek said angrily.
Stiles stopped and turned towards the car. Derek slammed on the brakes. “Why? Why do you need to know?”
“Because with the threat of the alpha pack looming, we need everybody in top shape. I know Scott and I aren’t on the best of terms right now, but we are still gonna need to rely on each other to face what’s coming. If there’s a problem, I can help.”
Jesus, didn’t anyone think Stiles could handle one little werewolf? “Actually, I’m pretty sure you can’t help. But don’t worry, Derek. I’m on top of it. I have everything under control.”
Derek sighed and rolled his head to the side, preparing his next wave of arguments. Then he stopped and stared at something through the windshield of his car. Stiles followed his line of sight. Deaton. Standing on the other side of the road. Watching them.
Wow, that’s creepy, Stiles thought. Is this part of guiding? Being a creeper?
“Yeah, I guess it is under control,” Derek said with a note of finality. He threw his car into gear and sped off.
Stiles made a what gives motion at Deaton - well he tried to, but with all the stuff in his arms it came out as more of a spastic shrug, one that sent half his curly fries to the ground. Deaton just glared then melted away into an alleyway.
So, Deaton was keeping tabs on him. Stiles refused to let himself get any more upset about this. Deaton had given him the tools and was going to let him figure out the solution on his own. It was kind of nice to think he was out there, waiting. If he couldn’t figure it out, then Deaton could just give Scott the antidote and it would all be fine. This was gonna be fine.
Later, after feeding and watering the wolf, feeding himself, and making the usual check-in calls with his dad and texting Scott’s mom from his phone, Stiles sat with the book and began to read it.
The first few chapters were about the differences between born werewolves and bitten ones, and all the symptoms and side effects of having this affliction. There was a chapter on plants, and the effects of them on both wolves and humans. He cross-referenced the little sketches with the gilded image on the front of the book. Mountain ash. There was a chapter on potions, including a potion to force the werewolf change, and its antidote. Stiles was excited for a moment, because there was the solution right there, he could make the same antidote that Deaton had - but he didn’t even know what half of the ingredients listed even were, let alone where to find them. And he kinda thought Deaton had meant something else other than the antidote. Because what were they gonna do, whip up a potion every month to de-wolf him?
No, there had to be another way. Something more permanent. He kept reading.
There were several chapters that got a bit mystical for Stiles’ taste, talking about the spiritual connection with the moon’s energy and so on, and he wasn’t really sure how much he trusted that. But then there were other chapters that were more practical. There were several pages on tracking werewolf footprints and - ew - scat. There was even a chapter on personal tests and challenges for the guide. One of them was being presented with the offer of a bite - and refusing. Passed that one already, Stiles thought sourly to himself.
But then he reached it. The chapter he knew would be the one to help. ’Bonding With Your Wolf.’
“This is it, Scott,” he said aloud, earning a growl. He took in the words, reading some of the seemingly most important bits to the wolf. “‘Trust is the number one factor in forming a bond. Without trust, there is no foundation to build upon. And with no foundation, walls quickly crumble...’ Yeah enough of the carpentry metaphors. Ah, here! ‘The best way to gain the trust of your wolf is to engage him in full lupus mode. You must -’” Stiles cut himself off. “Holy shit.”
He read silently to himself for a moment, then looked up at the wolf, who seemed to be growing in impatience and agitation the longer its imprisonment went on. Stiles read aloud again. Somehow it seemed important that Scott hear the words too - even if he wasn’t really Scott right now.
“‘You must bare your blood to the wolf willingly. Accidental cuts, or injuries due to the wolf’s attack do not have the same effect. It is the show of trust which forms the foundation for the bond.’ Well, there’s that mystical stuff again. ‘The wolf will sense this show of trust, and will accept you as a non-threatening presence. From there, the relationship can blossom.’” Stiles scratched his head, reading it over and over. It said the same thing every time. Stiles had to cut himself an offer up his bloodied self to the wolf... yeah, this sounded crazy.
Utterly freakin’ nuts.
But hell, what else was new in Beacon Hills?
Stiles kept reading, all the way to the end. There were more chapters about bonding exercises, ways to bring wolf and guide in tune with each other. A lot of it was not all that different to what he and Scott had already been up to. But they’d been missing that one crucial step. Scott trusted Stiles just fine - but his wolf didn’t.
He finally got to the end of the book. On the back cover, in the lower right corner, were the words ’Translated by A. Deaton.’ Translated... that meant there was some other book this information came from, in some other language. Probably Latin. Everything Deaton had said was starting to feel a bit more real.
Stiles stood, and placed the book on his chair. He shed his hoodie and tossed it on the chair on top of the book. He dug out his Swiss army knife, picking out the cleanest-looking blade. He wiped it against his shirt as if that would really provide a lot of protection. “If Scott doesn’t eat me, I will die of an infection,” he grumbled. He placed the blade against his skin of his inner arm, but didn’t yet cut. He looked up at the wolf. The wolf was staring back at him, calm, eyes glowing bright in the dimming afternoon light of the warehouse. Stiles took a deep breath, and dragged the knife across his arm. Bright red blood welled up immediately, some dripping off his arm to the floor.
“Ow! Jesus!” Stiles exclaimed, resisting the urge to immediately cover the wound and run to find bandages. He tossed the knife down on the ground, and took a steadying breath. The wolf was now on all fours, sniffing the air, obviously taking in the smell of Stiles’ blood. But it stayed calm. No bloodlust yet, that’s good, Stiles told himself.
He steeled himself and raised his bloodied arm towards the wolf. The wolf tilted its head, watching him. Stiles took a step closer. Then another. The wolf didn’t move, but Stiles was still outside its reach in the chains. Another couple of steps, and Stiles’ outstretched arm would be in biting distance.
Now or never.
Stiles walked forward, one step after another, until his arm was practically pressed against the wolf’s nose. Stiles held his breath, waiting to see what would happen. The wolf looked up at him, then down at his arm, still dripping blood. The wolf sniffed at his arm, then whined, high-pitched and almost scared sounding. The wolf moved his muzzle up against the cut - Stiles’ eyes went wide - and then... he licked it.
Whoosh. Stiles’ breath came out in a rush. The wolf’s raspy tongue against his cut stung like a bitch, but Stiles didn’t care, because he wasn’t currently being eaten alive by his best friend the werewolf, and that was awesome.
“It worked!” Stiles exclaimed. He reached out his other hand an tentatively placed it on top of the wolf’s head. It didn’t seem to mind. In fact, every so often its tail twitched in what Stiles almost thought might be a wagging sort of motion. He laughed in relief. “I can’t believe it worked.”
Stiles paused. Now what? There had been nothing in the book about getting a wolf to de-wolf, besides the bit about the potion antidote. But maybe this was where instinct had to come into play. He had the wolf’s trust now. Maybe that meant that he could reach the small part of Scott still in there, still aware?
The wolf looked at him in expectation. Stiles got down on his knees, bringing his head level with the wolf’s. He put his hands on either side of its head and stared into its eyes. “Scott, I know you’re in there,” he said. “And I need you to come back now.”
The wolf licked its lips, but didn’t change back.
“Scott, I know you can hear me. You can feel me.” Stiles gripped the fur under his hands in emphasis. “You can hear my heart beating. It’s me, Stiles. Your best friend. And your best friend is asking you to come back.”
The wolf whined again.
“Your best friend is demanding you come back. I need Scott. Scott!” Stiles shouted in exasperation. This method didn’t seem to be working. He let go of the wolf. He had to think of something else...
Suddenly, the wolf growled, then curled in on itself. Something was happening.
“Scott?” Stiles asked. As he watched, the wolf on the floor became more human-like in shape. Fur retreated into skin, claws retracted, and snout shortened into a face. “Scott!”
“Stiles?” came the raspy return from the boy on the floor pulling himself into a sitting position. “What’s going on?”
Stiles didn’t even care that Scott was naked. He grabbed him and gave him a bear hug. Scott patted Stiles’ back clumsily, still out of sorts.
“What’s going on is that I totally saved your werewolf ass. Again.”
“Yeah?” Scott smiled, happy enough with that explanation for the moment. But then he frowned. “There’s blood on your shirt.”
Stiles looked down. His own blood was soaked into his side and front, large spots of rust-red against the green of his t-shirt. Ruined! Oh well, he didn’t think it was really his color anyway. “It doesn’t matter. What matters is, I’m your guide now.”
“My what?” Scott cradled his head in his hand. “Jeez, my head hurts.”
“Well you’ve been a wolf for about 24 hours now.” Stiles looked up at the windows and the darkening sky. It was going to be night very soon. “Probably that’s gonna have some side effects.”
Scott’s mouth dropped open. “What?”
“Remember that protein shake of Deaton’s?” Scott nodded. “Well it was more like a wolfsbane shake, and it put you in perma wolf-mode.”
Scott looked as if Stiles had just blithely declared that the moon was made of green cheese for as much sense any of that made.
“Lemme get you out of the chains and get you some clothes. Then I’ll tell you all about it.”
“Sure,” Scott said. Stiles stood up to go find the key to the shackles. “And Stiles? Thanks.”
“No prob,” Stiles said. Then he chuckled. “This is gonna make a great story. The Real Wolf got even realer.”
Deaton watched the two boys leave the warehouse from across the street. Scott looked a bit stiff, but otherwise none the worse for the wear. Stiles’ arm was bloody but wrapped with a piece of torn clothing. Deaton saw the tell-tale rectangular shape of a book in his pocket. The two were giddy, and heading back to town. Stiles was talking quite animatedly, hands flailing as he no doubt described all the events of the past day.
He knew both Scott and Stiles would be coming to him later with more questions. He would be prepared. Now, they would all be prepared, for whatever might happen next.
Deaton smiled to himself as he watched the boys make a turn and disappear from sight. That damn alpha pack wouldn’t stand a chance.