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Beacon Hills Melting Pot

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Chapter 1

Derek

 

“Again!” Derek yelled.  He looked down at the younger boy and frowned.  The pack members he had left were so under trained it was laughable.  Speaking of laughing…Derek growled as Peter chuckled at his teaching technique.

 

“I believe that was attempt number 15, nephew.  Doesn’t seem to be working,” Peter said, a smirk playing at his lips.  The anger boiled just beneath the surface as Peter mocked him.  Every day he asked himself why he didn’t just kill the man.  He didn’t help with training, he challenged Derek at every turn, and Derek was honestly still waiting to be smothered in his sleep or something.  How can you trust a man that killed his own family, his own niece?  Derek felt his eyes flash briefly before he took a breath and reined it in.  Beside him, Isaac stood, shaking out his sore muscles.  Derek sighed and scowled at a nearby tree.

 

“Forget it.  Training’s over for today,” he said.  The boy looked at him in surprise.

 

“But Scott’s not even here yet,” he whined.  A growl bubbled up through Derek’s chest, the sound making Isaac flinch.  “Never mind,” Isaac mumbled.  He stared at the ground and shifted nervously on his feet.  Derek looked him over and grimaced, remembering why Isaac was afraid of him.  He hadn’t saved the boy from an abusive home to just become his new abuser, but Derek’s anger got the better of him.  He doubted the boy would ever trust him again and was surprised when he continued to show up for training, unlike his other beta.  No, Scott is not his beta.   Scott was so fucking stubborn that Derek often fought the urge to rip his throat out.  He understood why Scott hated him, he really did.  Derek didn’t want him to be with his girl, turned his classmates into wolves, and then took away his only chance at being human again.  In Derek’s defense, he had never been sure if it would’ve cured Scott.  What if it had turned him into an Alpha?  That’s the last thing they all needed, a teenage Alpha.  Derek could barely handle the immense power…not that he’d ever admit it out loud.  Derek was still shocked when Scott came to him asking to join his pack.  Derek’s answer was absolutely not.  The boy had betrayed him before and he wasn’t going to let it happen again.  The only reason Derek agreed to train him was because Stiles laid a guilt trip on him; like he needed any more guilt, thanks Stiles.  But the kid was right of course.  If Derek didn’t train Scott, he and Stiles would be in serious danger when the Alphas showed.  Derek might not trust either of them, but that didn’t mean he wanted them dead. 

 

Derek was pulled from his thoughts when a blue jeep rolled to a stop on his lawn.  How had he not heard it coming?  He really needed to pay more attention.  Looking around he found Peter lounging under a tree with a book and Isaac standing awkwardly at his side.  The boy had been clearly staring at him and looked away before Derek caught him.

 

“What?” he demanded.  Isaac glanced at him nervously.

 

“Are you okay?” he asked quietly.  His nerves went through the roof after he asked and Derek frowned.  He was terrible at holding back his emotions now that he was an Alpha.  The boy could probably feel everything through their connection, which irritated him.  No doubt feeling his anger, Isaac took a step back towards the jeep, where the other boys were climbing out of.

 

“Hey, Isaac,” Scott said cheerfully.  His smile fell immediately when he was within a few feet of his friend.  “What’s wrong?” he asked.  Isaac shook his head and was once again glaring at the grass.  “Ugh, it’s like a giant storm cloud over here.  I am never going to get used to this,” Scott mumbled.  His face scrunched up as he concentrated, but he gave up after only a few seconds and glared at Derek.  “How do I filter everything?  I can’t tell what’s coming from who,” he said before his face scrunched again.  Derek rolled his eyes at his almost-beta.  Isaac had already learned how to filter emotions and scents.  He had mastered it weeks ago, when Scott was no doubt sitting on Allison’s roof, the idiot.

 

“Well, if you bothered to show up for training, you would know how to do it by now,” Derek snapped.  Scott glared at him.

 

“Maybe I would show up more if you didn’t suck at this,” he yelled.  Isaac flinched as the red crept back into Derek’s eyes.  The louder heartbeat of the three picked up in fear and the anger quickly dissipated as he glanced at Stiles.  Though his pulse had risen, the boy only crossed his arms and frowned at him.  Derek admired his false courage - wait, he what?  Whatever, ignore it.  Derek scowled at Scott.

 

“Why are you here?” he asked.  Scott’s eyes flashed too for a moment at Derek’s tone.

 

“You’re right.  I should go, I’m not learning anything with you as my teacher,” he said, voice even but angry.

 

“Fine.  Don’t bother coming back when the Alphas try to kill you,” Derek said then turned his back and stomped into the shell of his house.  He slammed the door for good measure.  Leaning against the charred wood, he took deep breaths, trying to calm the wolf who wanted to shred everything and anything.  As he concentrated, his senses opened up, letting him focus elsewhere.  He could hear Peter mumbling about dumbass teenagers, while aimlessly flipping the pages of his book.  Derek could now tell that he wasn’t even reading the thing, just scanning over the words.  His Alpha connection to his uncle was surprisingly strong and he hated it every minute of every day.  When he wanted he could tap into his feelings, which there was a surprising amount of, but he regretted it every time.  The older man could sense when Derek would push at the connection and would immediately push back and shut him out.  That was fine with Derek; he didn’t even want the guy in his life let alone be connected to him this way.  The connection with Isaac was standard for a new beta and as the boy talked with Scott, Derek could feel the nerves calm slightly.  Derek scared the living hell out of the kid.  He hated it.  He could feel only the edges of Scott’s presence, the awareness fading every time they fought.  It was never going to work with him.  They just didn’t get along, couldn’t trust each other.  Even though Scott had embraced his wolf, the boy still neglected the animal side of himself, which made Derek’s wolf extremely unhappy.

 

But there was nothing he could do about it.  And he didn’t want to do anything about it, he reminded himself.

 

As Derek relaxed more fully, a gentle tingling sensation ran up his spine.  He had felt it a few times before and always tries to ignore it, but it’s persistent.  He sighed as he gave in (like he always does) and let the new connection flare.  The loud heartbeat outside pounded through him as a wave of dread washed over him.  Derek didn’t understand this.  Stiles was a human and he hated Derek more than Scott did.  How could he possibly be forming a connection with the kid?  The itchy feeling of dread grew stronger and Derek concentrated to hear what was making Stiles feel like that.

 

“No Stiles, we can handle this on our own.  Me, Isaac, you, and Allison,” Scott said, voice annoyed but not yelling.  Stiles scoffed at him.

 

“Are you insane?  Isaac is barely trained to fight, I’m a human who uses sarcasm as a defense, and no offense but you are like the worst werewolf ever, man,” Stiles said.  Derek could feel Scott’s anger rise at the insult, but he controlled it enough so he wouldn’t yell at his friend.

 

“I’m not that bad, alright?  I will figure this out.  Isaac and I will figure it out together.   Plus Allison can teach you how to fight, she said she would,” Scott argued.  The dread Stiles was feeling turned sharply to anger and fear.

 

“Are you serious right now?” he asked, anger barely contained.  Derek was surprised at the anger in him.  He had only ever seen the kid happy and making sarcastic jokes….he was happy wasn’t he?  Scott was clearly surprised too and more than a little confused.  Typical.

 

“Yeah, I am.  It would be good for you to learn and she’s a great fighter.  Why not?” Scott asked.  The pride that welled up in him when he thought of his girlfriend sickened Derek.

 

“Why not?  How about because she tried to kill our friends, Scott?  Or because her entire family is insane?  They are hunters, Scott!  Why do you still not understand this?” Stiles shouted.  Scott’s anger was back in full force.

 

“She apologized for everything and you know it.  I know she went a little crazy, but she was out of her mind with grief, Stiles.  Her mom was dead and she couldn’t think straight.  You, of all people, know what that’s like,” Scott shouted back.  Derek could feel Isaac cringe as Stiles’ anger changed to despair within seconds.  Scott sucked in a breath, immediately regretting his words.  Derek wanted to throttle the kid.  Is this how their friendship always was?  He could hear Stiles shuffle back away from his friend, his emotions swirling into an angry dark cloud.  The kid took a few breaths before speaking.

 

“If the three of you think you can handle this on your own, then fine.  Be my guest.  As of now, I’m done,” he said, and then slammed the door to his jeep.  The engine started and the boy peeled down the dirt driveway and drove away fast.  Derek could still feel him even though he was driving away.  His heartbeat was through the roof and he could easily pick up on the tears he was holding back.  Derek sighed, wondering if he should do something.  While he was considering it, Peter walked in through the back wall and frowned.

 

“Well, if you don’t chase him down, I will,” he said, his smirk returning.  Derek would have growled if it weren’t for their connection flaring, letting him feel the actual concern his uncle held for the teenager.  Peter, however, did growl as his eyes flashed a brilliant blue.

 

“Stop fucking doing that,” he growled and then stomped off.  Derek slumped against the wall for a minute, but then stormed out onto his front lawn where the other two boys still stood.

 

“Fuck, I shouldn’t have said that,” Scott mumbled.  Isaac glared at him.

 

“Ya think?” he deadpanned.  Scott’s shoulders dropped as he the guilt rode over him.

 

“Do you think I should go after him?” the boy asked.  Derek crowded into their space and let out a quiet growl.  They jumped, making Derek’s wolf happy.

 

“I wouldn’t recommend it.  I’ll chase down your friend and make sure he doesn’t crash his piece of crap jeep,” Derek grumbled.  Isaac backed away into a tree, but Scott, the idiot just glared right back.

 

“You will not.  You’ll probably scare him and make him crash it anyways,” the kid argued.  Derek knew he had a point.  So he would follow it through the woods.  That would work right?  Right.

 

“Go home, Scott.  And take Isaac with you.  I’ll text you when Stiles has made it home safe,” Derek said.  His voice came out surprisingly soft, his wolf wanting to calm his two betas now.  No, we want to calm Isaac, that’s it, Derek thought.  Goddamn it, he wished it would make up its mind.  Did it want his betas – beta - to be afraid or did it want them to be close?  Fucking pick one already.  The wolf inside him growled but Derek kept it back.  Scott deflated and broke the staring contest.

 

“Fine.  But if you don’t text me, I’m going over there whether Stiles will talk to me or not,” he said and then nudged Isaac to follow him home.  They’d be walking.  It was good for them, Derek thought.  He was once again pulled from his thoughts, but this time by a lurching in his chest.  He could feel the anxiety and hear the erratic breathing all around him as his connection with Stiles grew stronger.  Peter stepped out onto the porch and glared at him, worry and annoyance rolling off of him.

 

“You may want to hurry,” he grunted and then slammed the door closed.  Derek took off at a run through the woods, towards the groaning engine and uneven heartbeat.  The blue jeep came into view and Derek cursed as it swerved a bit.  He picked up his pace and was relieved when the car swerved again and stopped abruptly on the side of the road.  Derek slowed as he neared the jeep, listening to Stiles’ panicked breathing.  Maybe he should have sent Isaac after the boy instead.  Derek was never good at emotions and right now Stiles was a mess.  He was considering calling Isaac when Stiles’ heart began to stutter and then drop.  Cursing at himself, Derek walked slowly towards the driver’s side and peered in.  Stiles’ knuckles were white as he gripped the steering wheel, his face pale, eyes shut tight as the panic overcame him.  Making a quick decision, Derek opened the door and unbuckled Stiles’ seatbelt.  The boy didn’t even seem to notice him there, breath still not coming and heartbeat all over the place.

 

“Stiles,” Derek called.  The boy didn’t respond or even move.  Derek already missed the flailing.  He placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it slightly as he called his name again.  The boy’s eyes flew open, but they were glassed over in whatever memory he was trapped in.  “Stiles, focus,” Derek said.  The kid didn’t respond, so Derek reached over and pried his left hand off of the wheel.  It was shaking as Derek placed it on his stomach, taking deep breaths.  “Stiles, you’re okay.  Try to match my breathing,” he said, keeping his own fear locked down.  He had never seen Stiles like this.  So scared and so out of it.  It worried him more than he was willing to admit.  Stiles closes his eyes again and tries to hold in a breath, only to have it come rushing out again.  His second attempt seems to do more and his breathing calms a little after a few minutes.  Derek starts to pull away, assuming the boy is fine now, but Stiles clings to his shirt, panic creeping back in at the loss of contact.  Derek quickly places his hand on the back of the kid’s neck and crowds closer.  After about five minutes, Stiles reopens his eyes and glares at the steering wheel.  He lets go of the shirt he had clenched in his hand and glances up at Derek.

 

“Th-Thanks,” he stutters.  Derek frowns and says nothing.  He has no idea what to say.  Should he say you’re welcome?  Try to console him further?  He’s about to open his mouth to say something (what – he had no idea), when he realized his hand was still on the other.  Derek pulled away, bumping into the door and feeling extremely awkward.  Stiles looked up at him, surprised by the lack of grace and Derek sighed.  The kid looked exhausted as he peered up at him.

 

“Move over,” he grumbled.  His voice was a bit harsh and Stiles flinched.  Nice, Derek, way to go, he thought.  Derek’s concern increased when the kid didn’t immediately argue and instead moved into the passenger’s seat.  He climbed in and started the engine, not bothering to say anything as he began towards the Stilinski household.  Stiles slumped in his seat and glared at the trees going by.  After a few minutes, Stiles sighed and glanced at him.

 

“Sorry about…ya know…earlier,” he said.  Derek had no idea what he was talking about.  He had nothing to apologize for.

 

“For what?” he asked.  Stiles made a face.  Derek should be thankful he has good reflexes because he couldn’t take his eyes off the younger boy. He would have crashed by now if he weren’t a werewolf. What did that face mean?  Was he regretting saying something?  Derek searched through the feelings in the car and found embarrassment, anger, and fear.  Fear of Derek?  He couldn’t tell.  He hoped not and for once his wolf was in agreement.

 

“For the whole Scott thing and then…ya know…freaking out.  That couldn’t have been pretty to watch.  So…sorry…again,” Stiles rambled.  Derek frowned at him.  None of this was his fault.  Why was he apologizing?  He should tell him that.

 

“It’s fine,” he says.  Derek wanted to hit himself in the head.  That’s not what he wanted to say.

 

“No, it really isn’t.  Scott’s an idiot.  I’ve seen how Isaac’s improved.  You’re obviously not that bad of a teacher,” Stiles says.  His heart stayed even, he really believed that.  Derek shrugged again, uncomfortable with the compliment.  He pulled into the driveway and got out, gently closing the door behind him.  It may have been a piece of crap, but Stiles obviously put a lot of work into keeping it running.  No need to leave dents in it.  Derek sighed at himself.  What. Is. Happening.  Now he was worried about damaging the kid’s jeep?  This was ridiculous.  Stiles was annoying and an idiot and human and always in the way and stubborn and, and, an idiot.  But he was also brave and loyal and kind and, and, fuck.  Derek sighed again, aggravating himself.  Stiles lingered by the jeep, shifting awkwardly as he looked back and forth between Derek and the house.

 

“Do you want some dinner?  I made lasagna earlier,” he said.  Derek quirked an eyebrow at him, wondering if this was a trap.  He may have a soft spot for the kid, but he didn’t trust him.  He didn’t.

 

“Sure,” he heard himself say.  What the fuck?  He knew this was a bad idea.  But Stiles was still pale and shaky and relief flooded through him when Derek agreed to stay.  Might as well, he was hungry anyway.  And a home cooked meal sounded fantastic.  He really only ate when he went hunting and he had no idea what Peter ate.  Isaac was now living with Scott, so Derek didn’t need to worry about him.  He let his thoughts ramble as he followed the younger boy into his house.  Stiles hands shook as he dug out his keys and it took him a few tries to get the right key in the lock.  Derek watched him the whole time.  The kid’s entire body was trembling, but he was choosing to ignore it and pretend he was fine.  He walked in and stopped in the living room, looking back at Derek.

 

“You don’t need like an invitation, do you?” he asked, a tiny smile starting.  Derek glared, even though he was happy to see Stiles pulling himself back together.

 

“I’m not a vampire, Stiles,” he mumbles and then strolls into the room.  He takes a look around, quickly scanning for exits.  The windows in front and the front door were the only options.  After doing the immediate threat scan, he took in the rest of the room.  An overstuffed couch, an old recliner, and a wooden coffee table were pointed at a decent sized television that was surrounded by large piles of DVD’s and videogames with an XBOX console sitting next to it.  There were two book shelves in the corner that were full and photos resting on the tops.

 

“Right, I know that.  Speaking of, are vampires real?  Don’t make that face, it’s a legitimate question.  Werewolves, Kanimas, and Witches are real, so why not vampires?  That would be so totally awesome.  But I really hope they’re not like Twilight vampires.  Those dudes sparkle.  That is just not right.  Not that I read it or anything, or saw the movies,” Stiles says, arms flailing slightly.  “Just, ya know, general knowledge of it and all that.  Oh and the werewolves on that actually turn into wolves.  Can you do that?  Now that you’re, ya know, the Alpha and whatnot?  Scott still can’t do that.  Can betas even do that?  Probably not.  That’s probably like only an Alpha thing.  I know your uncle turned into that…scary…half wolf…thing…”Stiles rambled.  His voice trailed off as Derek continued to stare at him.  Did he even take a breath during that?  Derek raised a brow at him in wonder.  Seriously, how did he talk that much without breathing?  He tried to backtrack and remember all the questions he asked.  Might as well answer him, Derek thought.  He opened his mouth to start, but-

 

“Oh, was that too personal?  Is asking about levels of wolfiness like asking a Fae what type of Fae they are?” he asked.  What?  Did that even make sense?  Has he been tangling with Faeries?  What the fuck?

 

“Lost Girl?  Ever seen it?  It’s great.  There’s a wolf in that too.  Although he turns into an actual wolf and doesn’t seem to be effected by the full moon.  Then again I’ve only seen the first season so maybe that’s explained later.  But how stupid would that be, right?  A werewolf not effected by the full moon,” Stiles scoffed.  He rolled his eyes at the show he was talking about.

 

“Anyway, so yeah, on that show, it’s like really rude to ask what type of creature people are.  So, did I overstep some invisible boundary?  Because you’ve been standing there staring at me for about ten minutes…not saying anything.  Not that you ever say anything.  Well, not usually anyway.  Unless you’re yelling, or being sarcastic…which, nice, I like sarcasm-”

 

“Stiles.”

 

“And that right there.  How do you do that eyebrow thing?  I’ve never been able to do that,” Stiles says.  Both his eyebrows lifted as he tried.  “Yeah, anyway, what was I talking about?  Oh, yeah, vampires are they real?  Am I not allowed to ask questions like that?  Is it like dangerous for humans to know too much?  But I guess if that’s the case, I’m royally screwed by now.  Oh, and how are werewolves even connected to the moon in the first place?  Is that like a curse-?”

 

“Stiles!”

 

“Right, right, of course it isn’t.  Wow, that was probably really offensive, sorry.  I know it’s not a curse.  Or at least not for born werewolves.  Because it’s all you know and you’ve lived with it your entire life.  And do you ever wish that wasn’t the case?  Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be human?  What am I saying, why would you ever want that?”

 

“Oh my god, Stiles!” Derek yells.  The kid flails a bit at the loudness and his wide eyes turn to Derek.

 

“What?” he asks.

 

“Shut up,” Derek says.  He lets out a breath, frustration rolling through him.  This is why he didn’t like being around Stiles.  Too many questions, too many words, too much everything.  It was quiet now…Stiles actually shutting up for once.  Derek glanced at him.  He didn’t like the sudden silence.

 

“One question at a time,” he mumbled.  Stiles perked up, eagerness written all over his face.  Oh god, what did he just do?  This was going to be terrible.  His stomach rumbled, piercing the awkward silence.  Derek glared down at it.

 

“Oh my god, I almost forgot.  I invited you for dinner.  You’re probably starving.  I am the worst host ever,” he mumbled to himself.  Stiles went down the hall, tripping over his feet as he went.  Derek sighed.  How was this kid not dead yet?  His wolf growled at the thought.  Derek agreed.

 

“Follow me, man.  The lasagna’s been warming in the oven for over an hour.  It’s gonna be great I promise.  And don’t worry, it’s not laced with wolfs bane,” Stiles chuckled, taking a large pan out of the oven.  Derek crossed his arms and glared at the delicious pan of food.  He did not like the joke about wolfs bane.  For all Derek knew, it might be poisoned.  He couldn’t trust Stiles.  Right?  The boy looked up at him and frowned.

 

“Dude that was a joke.  I wouldn’t poison you,” he said.  Irritation and disappointment drifted around the room as Stiles spoke.  Derek couldn’t think straight.  What was he supposed to do?  He sighed, suddenly feeling tired.  Just tired of fighting, tired of everything.  Stiles wouldn’t poison him, right?  Even though he’s part of Scott’s pack and Scott currently hated him?  Did Stiles hate him?  The thought made his wolf whine.  We’ve been over this, he hates you more than Scott does.  You constantly threaten him with bodily harm, of course he hates you, Derek thought at his wolf.  The wolf growls loud in his head.  Stiles is always saving you’re sorry ass and is trying to convince Scott to stay with you, it thought.  They betrayed me, Derek thought.  His wolf shut up at that.  Both his human and animal side was hurt by Scott’s actions.  He let the boy in, had trusted him, and Scott went behind his back with a deal with Gerard.  And then went behind his back again to make a plan with Deaton.  God, how was everything such a mess?

 

“Derek?” Stiles asked.  When had he gotten so close?  The kid had moved to within a few feet of him and was looking at him strange.  Another expression Derek couldn’t decipher.  What was the feeling?  Something that smelled like oranges.  What did that mean?  Derek realized he still hadn’t said anything.

 

“What?”

 

“Um – you just hadn’t said anything for a really long time and I-” Stiles started.  He shifted away awkwardly.  Derek didn’t like it.  He didn’t want him to move away – wait, what?  He didn’t what?  What the hell?

 

“I – I mean, you do know I wouldn’t do that, right?  I wouldn’t try to poison you.  Not after you continually save my life.  That would be a shitty way to repay you,” Stiles rambles.  Derek was shocked to be honest.  He was pretty sure he had threatened Stiles more times than saved him.  Right?  He had no idea.  His head was a mess and his wolf was agitated.  The wolf prodded him to ask the one question he needed an answer to.  Derek gave in.

 

“Did you know?” he asked.  Stiles’ brows furrowed in confusion.

 

“Know what?”

 

Derek sighed.  He hated using words.  The growl slipped out before he could hold it back.  He grimaced, waiting for Stiles’ heartbeat to pick up in fear.  It stayed calm.  Derek frowned, confused.  Focus, his wolf growled.  Right, the question.  He had to know the answer.

 

“Did you know about Scott’s deal with Gerard?” Derek asked.  Stiles flinched now, his scent rolling into anger and despair.  Derek had his answer before the boy spoke.

 

“No, I didn’t,” he said.  Stiles turned away to grab plates and silverware, slamming cupboards as he went.  Derek watched his movements.  His arms were long and awkward and yet he moved them with a subtle grace that Derek had never noticed before.  Derek expected the anger to have him shaking again, but instead his fingers were steady as he filled their plates.  It was calming to watch him, even though calm was the last thing Stiles was feeling.

 

Stiles

 

This day sucked so bad it wasn’t even funny.  Scott was an ass, Isaac was still scared all the time, and Derek apparently thought Stiles was a traitor.  Stiles’ anger got the better of him as he slammed around the kitchen.  Did Derek really think he would poison him?  Did he really think Stiles would work with Gerard?  This was ridiculous.  Stiles figured after everything they had been through, Derek trusted him at least a little.  What was the point of trying, if these were the results?  Ridiculous, completely ridiculous.  But that’s his life, right?  Fucked all to hell.  As Stiles cut through the cheesy noodly goodness, he watched the light slide across the blade.  The urge to use it itched beneath his skin.  No, Stiles thought, I am not doing this.  He was trying to stop his bad habit as of late, but with everything going on, it was harder than he thought it’d be.  The skin hidden by his flannel tingled, anticipating being ripped open by his own hand.  His grip tightened on the handle as he glared at the blade.  He did not want to do this, he didn’t.  It was sick, he was sick.  What would his mother think?

 

“Stiles,” Derek said.  Stiles jumped a little, forgetting the other man was there.  He felt another hand rest on his, trying to loosen his grip on the knife.  He looked up and was startled by the concern swimming in those multi-colored eyes.  He took a breath, shook off the hand, and cut out a second piece of lasagna.  Sliding it onto the plate, he tried to shake the lingering urge.  He threw the knife in the sink and glared at it.  He was not going to give into this.  He pasted on a smile and held out a plate to Derek.

 

“Lasagna?” he asked.  Derek’s brow furrowed as he stared at him.  Please don’t ask, Stiles thought, just let it go.  Derek nodded and took the plate.  Stiles sighed in relief and led the man to the table.  As they sat and ate, Stiles watched Derek, trying to be subtle at it but probably failing.  The older man ate neatly, not making any kind of a mess.  Stiles was surprised, considering Scott ate like an actual wolf, splattering his food everywhere.  No, not thinking about his asshat of a friend right now.  That comment was a low blow.  His friend was total douche.

 

“Scott’s a douche,” he said.  He really hadn’t meant to say that out loud.  Ugh, brain to mouth filter, so not existent.  Derek only nodded and continued eating.  What does he normally eat?

 

“What do you normally eat?” Stiles asked and immediately regretted it.  “Or do I even want to know?”

 

Derek sighed and glared at him.  “I eat food, Stiles,” Derek answered.  That so was not an answer.  “I kill it and eat it,” Derek then said.  The wolf smirked as Stiles gaped.  Yeah, he really didn’t want to know.

 

“Gross,” Stiles mumbled.  He quickly changed the subject, not wanting to think of defenseless bunnies being torn to shreds by wolves.  Right, not thinking about.  “So, questions?  I can ask you stuff?” Stiles asked, excitement trying to shove his dark cloud away.  Derek rolled his eyes as he finished his food.  Damn, he ate fast.  Stiles still had a half a plate left.

 

“Fine.  What do you want to know?” Derek asked, leaning back in his chair.  Stiles totally did not watch as he stretched.  Derek quirked an eyebrow at him.  Right, he could probably tell what Stiles was thinking or feeling or something.  Fuck, focus, Stiles.

 

“Right so, first question.  Are vampire real?” he asked.  Stiles actually really hoped they weren’t.  Shape shifters were enough.  Plus who even knew what Peter was now.  Zombie werewolf?  Was that a thing?  He opened to his mouth to ask that too, but stopped when Derek growled.  That was not hot by the way.  It wasn’t.

 

“Yes, vampires are real.  But there are different species, just like there are different species of werewolves,” Derek answered.  Great, that’s just great.

 

“Great, vampires are real.  What next, demons?  Ghosts?  Zombies?”

 

“Yes,” Derek deadpanned.  Stiles stared at him.  Yes, what?  “Yes to all three,” he explained.  Stiles gaped at him.

 

“You’re kidding right?” he asked, then face palmed.  “No, what am I thinking.  You are never kidding.  Right, so, vampires, demons, ghosts, and zombies…” Stiles mumbled.  Before he could ask if Succubae were real…because if so holy god Lost Girl was awesome.

 

“Basically anything supernatural you’ve ever heard of is real,” Derek said.  Stiles thought about that for a minute.

 

“What does that make your Uncle?” he blurted out.  Fuck, he probably shouldn’t have asked that.  The pedowolf was definitely a sore subject for everyone.  But Derek only sighed and glared at his empty plate.

 

“He’s…complicated,” he says.  That wasn’t vague or cryptic or anything.  But Stiles let it drop, not wanting to analyze it further.  Or upset Derek.  Or relive Peter’s creepiness.  Wait…upset Derek?  That was a new one.  When had he started worrying about that?  Anyway…

 

“Anyway, next question.  Wait – different species?  Explain that,” Stiles said.  He almost cringed at his commanding tone, but when there was no growl or eye flash, he relaxed.

 

“Vampire or werewolves?” Derek asked.

 

“Both.”

 

Derek sighed, but relaxed further into his chair.  Stiles had never seen him so calm.  It was nice.  No, it wasn’t, stop that, he thought to himself.

 

“There are three different types of vampires and werewolves.  There are vampires who have very little control and prefer to live under ground, vampires that live in a nest with lots of other vampires.  Those tend to have shark teeth more than fangs and can walk around in the sunlight.  They can’t be killed by wooden stakes, only fire or beheading,” Derek said and smirked when Stiles grimaced.  Stiles followed it up with a glare.  But if Derek was actually going to answer his questions he wasn’t going to tell him to stop at the gory parts.  “The shark teeth have moderate control.  But I’ve personally never heard of any of them choosing to hold back and not kill.  They are descended from an Alpha Vampire.”  Stiles gaped…again.  Vampires have alphas?

 

“Vampires have Alphas?”

 

“Only the shark teeth do.  And they only have one.  The one that became a vampire first.  Now the third type I suppose has Alphas too, but they call them the Originals.  It’s the group that was first turned into Vampires.  They were turned by a witch’s ritual about a thousand years ago.  The first two species are older.  The third type is more modern.  They have fangs and their eyes change when they turn.  Those ones have the best control and try to blend in with society.  They’re burned by the sun, but there are rare cases when a witch will help them blend in by protecting them from the sun’s rays.  There are many ways to kill these types.  Wooden stakes, beheading, fire, ripping the heart out, and so on,” Derek said.  That was just gross, Stiles thought.  Vampires sounded gross and creepy and he really hopes he never meets one.  Wait – how does…

 

“How do you know so much about vampires?” he asks.  Derek glares at him, but answers anyway.

 

“My family knew a few of them.  Plus my mother-” Derek stopped and looked away.  Stiles knew how it felt.  “She-um, wanted to be prepared for anything, so she worked with Deaton to collect information.  Deaton is a longtime family friend,” he says quietly.  His glare hardens, but he’s staring at the floor.  “Was a friend,” he clarifies.  Stiles shifts uncomfortably.  He wanted to comfort Derek somehow.  But how to do it without getting his throat ripped out?  If he was sitting closer he would have touched him to reassure him…maybe…of something?  Ugh, Stiles doesn’t know.  Dealing with Scott’s melancholy was so much easier than Derek’s.  He knew how to handle it.  Stiles sighed and stuffed cold lasagna in his mouth.  It suddenly didn’t taste as great.  He shoved his plate away, earning a glare from Derek.  What?  What did he do now?  Ugh, he didn’t know anymore.  Maybe the guy just felt like glaring.  Stiles cleared his throat, wanting to move away from this awkward subject.

 

“So, werewolves.  Different types?  Like more different than omega, beta, and alpha?” he asks.  Derek gives him a look.  “What?  I listen,” he says.  Instead of the eye roll he was expecting, Derek only looked him over and nodded.  What was that for?  Stiles felt uncomfortable…

 

“Yes, there are three different species of werewolves.  We are the modern type.  Able to shift mostly at will, but still pulled by the moon.  There are born and turned wolves, as you know.  And yes, there are omegas, betas, alphas,” Derek said.  He seemed to fidget as he said Alpha.  Stiles had never seen him nervous before.  He really hoped Derek wasn’t as scared of this Alpha pack as Stiles was.  If so, they were really screwed.  Before he could say anything he would definitely regret later, Derek continued.  “The second type has only turned wolves.  They were turned by a single Alpha werewolf and they have zero control during full moons.  They don’t even remember what happened when they wake up the next day.  But every other day and night, they seem like regular humans, so it’s hard to pinpoint them unless you see them turn,” Derek said.  He seemed annoyed as he explained the lack of control.  Stiles wondered if he knew someone like that.  Once again, before Stiles could ask, Derek spoke.  Stiles had never heard him talk this much.  It was unnerving yet pleasant at the same time.  He wished Derek was more open like this all the time.

 

“The third type is born werewolves.  The wolf gene runs in their blood, but they only turn if they take a human life.  They can only turn on full moons and their transformation is extremely painful,” he said.  He seemed to be lost in his own thoughts for a minute, making Stiles curious.  Should he ask?  He’s gonna ask…

 

“Do you know any of these types?”  Stiles asks.  It came out more hesitant than he wanted.  Derek looked at him, seemed to size him up before searching his face for something.  Whatever he was looking for, he found it, because he actually began to answer.  Stiles was shocked to say the least.

 

“Yes, I knew a few.  There was a man up in San Francisco who was the type that had no control.  He was fine other than on full moons.  His name was Glen and he was a bit of a lowlife, but he was still a decent guy.  I was living up there for a while and ran with him on full moons to make sure he didn’t hurt anyone.  He bit this girl he had a crush on one night and turned her.  That’s when hunters showed up and ‘took care of it’” he said, air quoting around the last part of it.  “The minute I heard hunters, I took off.  Left Glen by himself.  I told myself he could handle it.  I was wrong,” he said.  A haunted look came over him and Stiles silently shifts his chair closer.  Derek, thankfully, didn’t seem to notice, so Stiles silently fist pumped in his head.  He just wanted to erase that expression Derek was wearing.  Not everything is his fault, damn it.  Stiles is about to say that (and possibly die for it) when Derek continues. 

 

“I knew one of the cursed werewolves in New York.  The guy was actually pretty cool.  Surfer type.  But he got involved with some vamp chick,” Derek said.  His expression turned angry as he talked.  “Couldn’t see how she was manipulating him.  She tricked him into killing his best friend so that he’d turn.  I tried to get him away from her, but he wouldn’t listen.  After a while, he left with her.  Went back to his home town when his brother died.  I went to the funeral for moral support,” he says.  Stiles is once again shocked.  Moral support?  Derek?  What?  He was way more complicated than Stiles thought.

 

“There were so many vamps in that town that I left immediately.  Tried to take Mason with me, but he said he had to stay.  Said it was for his nephew.  I knew it was bullshit.  That vamp wanted him to do something for her.  I don’t know what.  So I left without him.  Figured if he wasn’t gonna listen to me, then he got whatever he deserved,” he said.  His shoulders slumped in defeat as the anger dissipated.  “I heard a few months later that some other vampire tortured him for hours and then killed him.  I should have stayed,” he says.  Stiles leans over and places a gentle hand on his knee, squeezes a little before Derek looks up at him.

 

“Derek, not everything is your fault.  You can’t protect everyone.  Some things just happen and we can’t control them,” Stiles says.  They stare at each other before Derek breaks it and shifts away.  Stiles sighs.  So much for breaking through that wall.  He fidgets with his fork and glares at the table.  He looks up again when Derek moves.  The man reaches over and pushes Stiles plate towards him.

 

“Eat your food,” he mumbles.  Stiles huffs, but does as he’s told, earning a surprised look from the other man.  Stiles listens sometimes, he really does.  Unlike Scott, the weredouche.  The food makes him nauseous, so he pushes it away again.  Derek frowns at him.

 

Stiles just shrugs.  “I’m not hungry,” he says.  His thoughts begin to race as he thinks back on what Derek said earlier.  Way earlier.  Like pre-lasagna earlier.

 

“I’m sorry,” he says.  Derek frowns again.  Seriously, does his face do anything else?

 

“For what?”

 

Stiles fidgets, hating the too personal feeling.  He likes random rambling much better than this personal shit.  But he still feels like this needs to be said.

 

“For Scott working with Gerard.  He shouldn’t have done it and I’m apologizing for him.  If I had known-” he stops, reliving the betrayal.  The itchiness returns and he physically shakes it off.  “I would have told you and I’m sorry it happened,” he rushes.  Derek’s eyes widen slightly, then his brows furrow.  Stiles likes watching his expressions.

 

“It’s not your fault, Stiles,” Derek says, repeating Stiles’ own words.  Is that a smile?  That’s definitely an almost smile.  The gesture makes Stiles grin, which gets him an eye roll.  Derek stands, straightening out his jacket.

 

“I should go.  Can’t leave Peter unwatched for too long,” he says.  Stiles grimaces.  Peter: the zombie pedowolf.  He almost forgot about him.

 

“Right, okay.  Well, if you want to stop by tomorrow, I’m making pork chops,” Stiles says.  He what?  Why did he just say that?  Yeah, having someone to eat dinner with was nice…but did he just invite Derek over for dinner again?  Yes, he totally did.  What in the hell is wrong with him?  Derek has important Alphas things to do.  He doesn’t have time to hang out with some annoying teenager.

 

“Okay,” Derek says. What?  He’s saying yes?  That was unexpected.  Stiles just nods and Derek slips out towards the front door.  “Bye, Stiles,” he calls out.  Holy crap.  Derek’s being polite.  What. The. Fuck.  A giant grin spreads across Stiles’ face.

 

“Bye, Sourwolf,” he calls back.  He hears a tiny growl, but the door clicks shut gently.  Stiles hums to himself while he cleans up their plates.  He wraps up the pan and places it in the fridge for his dad to eat later. He avoids the knife still lying in the sink.

 

 After everything is once again clean, he hops up the stairs to his room to do research.  Derek just gave him a ton of information and he was gonna learn everything he could.  He spends the next few hours reading through a thousand different wiki pages and ignoring the massive amounts of text messages he has from his so called best friend.

 

Allison

 

A knock sounded at her window and she jumped up to open it.  Scott tumbles in and wraps her up in a tight hug.  The urge to pull away is still present, but she really does want to try again.  It’s just hard, knowing how much she hurt Scott and everyone else.  She feels the anxiety when Scott’s eyes glow and the anger when he talks about Derek (even though she knows what happened now), the unbearable sadness whenever she looks at her dad or Stiles, the loneliness of Lydia’s avoidance, the overall numbness of the absence of her mother.  She pulls away from Scott, giving him a tiny smile.  His smiles lights up his face as he looks at her.  Scott loves her so much and that too hurts.  Pushing everything aside, she moves to sit at her desk.  She still refuses to sit on the bed with Scott.  He frowns every time she chooses to sit at the desk instead, but he never comments on it.  He’s been so good to her even after everything she’s done.  Sometimes she wishes he would yell at her or say he’s finished with her.  It wouldn’t make anything easier, but it’s what she believes she deserves.  She pulls out of her fog long enough to notice him staring at her.

 

“So, what’s up?” she asks, forcing the cheer in her voice.  His shoulders drop a little and he sighs.

 

“Stiles refused the offer,” he says.  It’s what Allison suspected.  Though she knew it would happen, the sharp pang of sadness still courses through her.

 

“He’s still angry with me,” she says, nodding as she does.  Allison doesn’t blame him.  Her grandfather abused him as Allison’s own victims were tortured with electricity.  She still shudders at the thought.  Imagining poor Stiles being hurt by her family.  He was a nice boy, a good friend, a human being.  He did not deserve what he went through.

 

“I fucked up, Alli,” Scott mumbles.  She looks up, hearing the despair in his voice.  Knowing Scott, he probably said something he shouldn’t have.  But she knows that Scott doesn’t mean to hurt his friend.  He just doesn’t think sometimes before he speaks.

 

“What happened?” she asks.  Scott looks away from her and fidgets nervously.

 

“I made a comment I really, really shouldn’t have.  He’s mad, he’s really mad, Alli.  He said he’s done.  What does that even mean?  Done with what?  With werewolves?  With me?  With everything, with life?  God, I really shouldn’t have said that,” Scott says, his voice rising in anxiety.  “Derek said he got home okay, but I don’t know.  I’m worried about him, Alli.  I’ve been the shittiest friend on the planet and he has every right to hate me,” Scott says.  Tears had welled up in his eyes and Allison sighs.  She rolls her chair over to him and laces their fingers together.  He gives her a watery smile and squeezes her hand.

 

“I’m sure he’ll forgive you.  You guys are best friends.  Just apologize for whatever dumbass thing you said and he’ll cave to the puppy eyes.  Everyone does,” she says.  He glares at first, but eventually laughs and leans down to kiss her.  She lets him press his lips to hers for a few seconds and then pulls away.  No doubt he could hear her heart racing as the anxiety got the better of her.  Scott sighs and strokes his thumb across her cheek.

 

“Sorry,” he mumbles.  She rolls her eyes and unlaces their fingers, rolling back to her desk.

 

“It’s fine, Scott,” she says.  It’s not, but what else is she supposed to say?  She doesn’t want to hurt him anymore.  She’s about to apologize too, when her dad raps on her open door.  He glares at Scott, but at least doesn’t pull a gun this time.

 

“Scott,” he says.  Scott stands awkwardly and nods.

 

“Mr. Argent.  Hi, hello,” he mutters.  Chris sighs and crosses his arms.

 

“Are you staying-” her dad starts.  Allison cuts in before he invites Scott to dinner.

 

“Scott was just leaving, dad,” she says, giving her dad a tight smile.  Her father doesn’t even glance at her, only nods.  Scott deflates as he looks at Allison, who gives an apologetic shrug.  He moves towards the window, but stops when her dad clears his throat.  Scott looks back at him sheepishly.

 

“The front door, Scott?” her dad says.  Scott smiles and nods enthusiastically.  He edges past the man and into the hallway, giving Allison a little wave before descending down the stairs.  They listen as the door opens and closes quietly.  Her father stands awkwardly in the doorway, glaring at her carpet.

 

“So…you two…dating again?” he asks.  Allison watches the shadows on her wall move as the tree outside sways.

 

“Yeah, I guess,” she whispers.  Were they?  Scott probably thinks so, so why not?  He was the only stable thing in her life and she still cares for him.  She will never say love again because there’s no point to it.  But she can go through the motions for Scott.  Yes, she would do that.

 

“Right, okay,” he mumbles.  He finally looks at her then, but she avoids his gaze.  “And how’s everyone else?  Lydia, Stiles?” he asks.  Allison thinks of the cute redhead who ignores her in the hallways and the talkative brunette who hates her.

 

“They’re fine,” she answers.    Her father nods, not prodding further.

 

“Dinner will be ready soon,” he says.  Joy, Allison thinks.  Another awkward, silent dinner with her dad.  She sighs and pulls out her textbooks to catch up on homework.

 

“Okay.  Thanks,” she answers.  She can handle polite conversation.  It was more motions to go through on a daily basis.  They make her tired, but she refuses to end her miserable life.  Her mother left her like that and she won’t follow in her footsteps.  Besides, she deserves to feel this emptiness.  It wasn’t nearly enough punishment for what she’s done.  She hears her dad sigh and then leave quietly.  Allison was never very close with him, but this distance was new.  They used to talk a little at least.  Now there’s silence and grief and everything in her life is completely unbearable right now.

 

She stands abruptly, grabs her jacket, and flies down the stairs.

 

“I’m going out,” she yells and slams the door behind her, not waiting for an answer.  He rarely says anything when she leaves anyway.  She jumps in her car, starting the engine, peeling out of the driveway, and speeding down the road.  Allison was going to the place she always does; the edge of the preserve where she would sit on a rock and drink until she passed out.  They’re rock, her and Scott’s.  The one they would meet at late at night when she snuck out.  He would find her here sometimes, sobbing and reeking of booze.  Scott would always lift her into his arms, ignoring her protests and deliver he back to her bed.  He would tuck her in, kiss her forehead, and leave.  She hated it.  Hated feeling so weak, hated having to be taken care of.  At the same time she was grateful.  Grateful that Scott still cared as much as he did, that he didn’t just give up on her.  But tonight she didn’t want to have to deal with it, with anything.  She really hoped Scott would be elsewhere; home worrying about his mom, on Stiles’ roof worrying about his friend, on her roof worrying about the girl he loved.  Basically, he worried too damn much.  Hopefully Isaac would distract him with videogames or something.  Isaac was a good friend too.  He was slowly warming up to her and that too she hated.  He should fear her, hate her, something.  Allison had stabbed the poor kid and he was actually still talking to her.  He did it to make Scott happy mostly, but still he did it.  She saw how Lydia had gravitated towards the boy in Jackson’s absence.  No one knewwhere the brand new beta had run off too, or where Erica or Boyd is.

 

Allison tipped back her bottle of Jack and gulped down a few mouthfuls.  Erica and Boyd:  two people who weren’t even on her radar until Derek turned them.  She still remembers the rush of flinging arrow after arrow at them, the adrenaline drowning out Erica’s pleading cries.  Allison had laughed at the time, when she saw how the two wolves tried to protect each other.  They cared for each other, even Allison could see that.  Nausea rolls through her as she remembers how her father had to stop her from killing her own classmates.  Tears welled up and poured down her cheeks as she drained half her bottle of booze.

 

After a few hours, Allison’s head is swimming and her chest hurts as if a great weight is lying on top of her.  She enjoys this feeling even though it hurts; the feeling of numbness and unawareness that the alcohol brings.  She flings the empty bottle over the side and watches as it shatters against the rocks.  Maybe she should follow it…

 

Lydia

 

“Time it took us…To where the water was…That’s what the water gave me…And time goes quicker…Between the two of us…Oh, my love, don’t forsake me…Take what the water gave me,” Lydia belts out.  She taps her perfectly manicured fingernails along the steering wheel as she sings along with Florence’s sweet soprano voice.  She reaches over to turn the volume up.

 

“Lay me down…Let the only sound…Be the overflow…Pockets full of stones…Lay me down…Let the only sound…Be the overflow,” she sings.  As she focuses back on the road, still humming along with the music, she frowns.  Where the hell was she?  She doesn’t remember driving this way.  Okay, Lydia, do not panic, she tells herself.  You just got too caught up in the music is all, she thinks.  She pulls over to reset her GPS, scowling at it.  It hadn’t said she was going the wrong way.  Mathematics she could handle, but following driving directions?  Useless, completely useless.  Navigation was always Jackson’s job.  Lydia sighs, chastising herself for thinking of him.  He left her after all.  She was not going to be one of those girls who pined for some moron that clearly could not see what he had.  If he didn’t see how she was the best thing in his life, then screw him and his lizard-ness.  Wolf-ness?  Whatever, who cares.  And she refuses to think that something else is going on.  She didn’t care what those morons in Derek’s little pack said.  Jackson was not taken by some goddamned Alpha pack.  What the hell would they want with him anyway?

 

Lydia once again reprimands herself.  Jackson was an ass and she deserved better.  Right?  Right, okay, so focus, Lydia.  Figure out where the hell you are and then go the fuck home, she yelled to herself.

 

While waiting for her malfunctioning GPS to load, she squinted into the darkness.  There was something shining in the moonlight just beyond the trees.  Is it silver…or blue?  As she tried to make out the color, it suddenly moved, gliding through the trees.  What the hell is it?  Panic rose up inside her, but as she watched the two blue orbs, she was suddenly fascinated by the bright hue.  The orbs blinked at her.  Oh.  Oh my god.  It was one of the wolves.  She really should have figured that out before now.  But which one of them?  Scott and Isaac’s eyes were golden, Derek’s were…huh she’s never seen him wolf out before.  Lydia continued to watch the bright orbs as they tried to hide behind a tree.  Subtle, she thought and scoffed.  Well, she wasn’t going to sit here and wait to be mauled.  No, she just got her nails done for fucks sake.  And they were once again perfect after spending a good 200 dollars on the super mani-pedi.  Focus, she thought.  She reached into the glove department and grabbed the bag of purple ash she kept with her at all times.  No way was she going to be some dumb animal’s midnight snack.

 

Lydia hesitantly climbed out of her car, weighing the pros and cons of her actions.  She could just drive away and forget she ever saw anything, but she was tired of doing that.  She remembers the drugged stupor she put herself in that first time she saw one of them.  Lydia shudders as she remembers the emptiness of having her mind linked to one of them.  Even though she was a mess at the time and that man was horrific more often than not, the memories don’t bother her as much as they should.  She would never admit it, but sometimes she missed the crowded-ness of sharing her mind with another’s.  It had been fascinating at times, when the wolf had been subdued and not controlling her.  She had found him to be a very sad man and the things he accidently shared with her were horrifyingly tragic.  Lydia never understood how he had endured so much and came out more or less alive.

 

Without overthinking it, she crossed to the other side of her car and glared at the blue eyes that tracked her movements.  She knew only one werewolf with blue eyes, but she refused to hope that it would be him.  He left you, you idiot, she told herself.  Let it go and move on.  You deserve better.

 

Lydia straightened and held her bag tightly to her chest.  The baby blues stepped to the side of the tree, the man’s body silhouetted by the moonlight.

 

“Who are you?” she calls.  Nice, Lydia, you sound like a girl from a bad horror flick.  She undid the drawstrings of her bag, ready to reach in and throw the ash if the animal…man…tried to attack her.  The man blinked and she could see him tilt his head at her.  Like a dog, how cliché, she thought.  She resisted the urge to roll her eyes.

 

“You don’t remember me?” the man asked.  Lydia gasped, recognizing the voice that used to share her thoughts.  She steeled herself and instinct made her close the bag of ash and throw it back into the car behind her.  No one had bothered to explain to her who the man was exactly.  She knew he was a werewolf and related to Derek, but that was it.  It’s not like she was speaking to any of them anymore anyway.  They lied to her, betrayed her, and treated her as if she were a complete moron.  They made a fool out of her.  Worst of all, was how none of them tried to help her as she was breaking down right in front of them.  Weren’t they supposed to be her friends?  The awkward one, who so obviously had a crush one her, he’s the only one to try and protect her, but he still lied to her through all of it.

 

“I remember,” she answered.  The man finally walked out of the shadows, his eyes no longer flashing, but a normal shade of blue-green.  He stopped a few feet away from her and she finally got a good look at him.  She barely remembers the moment he erupted from the ground all naked and covered in dirt.  That entire day had been one giant blur.

 

“You really shouldn’t be out here unarmed,” he said.  His voice vibrated through her, doing strange things to her nerves.  After the feeling passed, she finally realized what he said.

 

“Are you going to hurt me?” Lydia asked.  She hated how off balance he made her feel.  Lydia was proud of her usual strength, but something about this man made her feel uncomfortably vulnerable.  The man sighed and stepped closer.

 

“I really should.  You could be very dangerous,” he says.  Dangerous?  How could she possibly be a threat to him?

 

“What do you mean?” she asks.  The man hesitantly reaches out towards her and brushes her hair back behind her ear.

 

“You, my dear girl, are the only one who can put me back in the ground.  Therefore, I should really kill you.  Right here, right now,” he said.  Lydia shuddered, suddenly fearful.  Was he actually going to kill her?  He sighed, resting his thumb against her pulse point.

 

“But that would be such a waste of a beautiful mind,” he whispers.  Lydia’s heart begins to race as his bright eyes meet her green ones.  The man frowns as he feels her pulse jump.  “I don’t want to frighten you,” he says.  He begins to pull away, but Lydia grabs his hand.

 

“Wait.  I’m not afraid,” she says.  She surprises herself to feel how true that statement is.  This man has had every chance to kill her and yet he never does.  He likes her mind just as much as she likes his.  The man frowns and his sadness is written all over his face.

 

“You really should be, my dear.  I am not a nice man,” he says.  Lydia knows of the horrible things he’s done.  She admits that no, he is not a very nice man.  But something deep inside of him is struggling to break free of the cocoon he’s built around himself.  And that something is very nice indeed.  That something had a family once, felt love once, felt admiration for those around him.  Lydia wished she could bring that something to the surface, but it’s buried so deep she was never able to reach it when they were connected.  If she couldn’t do it then, how can she do it now?  The man had also tried to break through her walls, see inside the deepest most parts of her.  He did for the most part, but there were still some things she hid away inside herself.  The hatred she held for her father, the fear she had for her mother, the fear she had for herself, how she cared for Allison like no other friend she’s had, the loneliness that tugged at her heart every day since her parents got divorced, the anger she’s built up since her mother’s began drinking.  How she feels like her world could fall apart so easily, but she tries her hardest to hide behind her shiny plastic mask.

 

Lydia focuses back on the man in front of her, realizing she had gotten lost in her thoughts.  His hand had moved to cup her face and warmth quickly spread through her.  She looked up at him, curiosity getting the better of her.

 

“What is your name?” she asks.  The man’s mouth turns upward in the ghost of a smile at her question.

 

“Peter.  Peter Hale.  Nice to meet you, Lydia,” he says.  A shy smile plays at her lips and she catches him following the movement.  Is he about to kiss her?  Does she even want that?  Her mind is suddenly numb.  The last person she kissed, erupted into scales, died, and then resurrected as a creature of the night.  She knows that this man had a hand in the aforementioned death, but she really couldn’t blame any of them for it.  Jackson had been dangerous and the wolves were only acting out of instinct.  They didn’t know what he would become and in the end they saved him in a way.  They got him to properly transform into the wolf he was meant to be.  And then the jackass went and left her.

 

Lydia frowned at her own thoughts and pulled out of the man’s gentle embrace.  Peter didn’t try to cling to her, like so many others have.  He let her step away with only a curious frown upon his face.  As they watched each other, Peter’s head snapped up in the directions of the woods.  He glared the brilliant blue flashing for a moment.   He looked back and forth between her and the woods.  She followed his gaze and saw it was pointed to where that little clearing sat.  What was getting his attention?  Peter sighed, shoulders dropping as he backed away from her.

 

“You care about the Argent girl?” he asks.  Caught off guard, Lydia only stared for a moment.  When the change in topic registered with her, she had to think about.  Yes, she still cared for Allison, but they were not friends right now and wouldn’t be until Lydia was able to forgive her.

 

“Yes, I suppose,” she answers.  Peter nods and continues to back away into the woods, blending in with the shadows once again.

 

“Then I suggest you hurry, my darling,” he says.  The blue orbs are once again the only things she can see of him as they bound off into the woods.  What did he mean by that?  Lydia looked towards the clearing he had been glaring at and caught the shine of a silver car hiding amongst the trees.  Allison’s car?  What was she doing in the woods?  Lydia immediately went towards the car, but stopped.  If Allison was in the woods…was she hunting?  She wouldn’t hurt Lydia would she?  She approached the car at a slower pace, peering through the trees for the other girl.  She caught sight of the girl’s dark curls and squinted.  Allison was…what was she doing?  As Lydia stepped closer, she realized the girl was crying.  Oh crap, Lydia thought.  She wasn’t good at dealing with her own emotions, let alone someone else’s.  But this was Allison, she had always known how to take care of her.  Their friendship had bloomed quickly and Lydia had felt herself letting Allison passed some of her walls.  Of course, they went right back up again when she found out about everything.  Lydia stayed a little ways away and watched her former friend as the girl sobbed into her arms.  She hated seeing Allison cry.  It wasn’t right.

 

Lydia watched as the other girl wobbled to her feet and recognized the drunken sway.  Allison wrapped her arms around herself and peered over the edge of the cliff.  She wouldn’t…she wouldn’t, right?  Before she could talk herself out of it, she walked toward the other girl and stood behind her, close enough to grab her if she decided to jump.  Lydia was still shocked.  Why would she…she would not do this, right?

 

“Allison?” she called quietly.  The girl startled and spun around.  Lydia reached out and grabbed her hand before she wobbled over the edge.  Allison blinked at her, tears still spilling out of her eyes.  The girl pulled her hand away, wrapping her arms around herself again.  She glanced behind her at the cliff and sniffled.

 

“I wasn’t going to,” she said.  Lydia had a feeling she was talking more to herself than to her.

 

“I believe you,” Lydia said.  She absolutely did not believe that Allison wasn’t going to jump, but she felt the need to reassure her.  “Will you come down from there?” she asked.  Allison shrugged and wouldn’t budge.  She swayed dangerously close to the edge and Lydia’s heart raced.  “Please?” she begged.  Lydia may still be angry at her, but she doesn’t want her to die.  Ever.  Allison looks at her, surprised by her tone.  Lydia sighs in relief when the other girl nods and stumbles off of her rock.  Without thinking, Lydia grabs her hand and pulls her into a tight embrace.  Allison was shaking and still crying as Lydia held her.

 

“Don’t you ever do that again, Allison,” Lydia said, surprised by the anger she let slip.  Instead of recoiling, Allison clung tighter to her and nodded into her shoulder.  They held each other for a few more minutes before Lydia pulls the girl to her car that’s still by the side of the road.  She figures she’ll drive Allison back here tomorrow to pick up her car.  But for now, she’s bringing her to the Martin house.  Lydia will set up the guest room and Allison can sleep off the inevitable hangover.  They drive in silence for a while, Allison half asleep.

 

“I’m sorry,” Allison mumbles.  Lydia sighs as she glances at her friend.  The girl was in desperate need of a friend and Lydia was finally willing to be that friend again.  Allison will not go through this alone anymore; Lydia will make sure of it.

 

“I know, honey.  Go to sleep,” she says, stroking the girl’s dark hair.  Allison curls up against the door and drifts asleep.  The rest of the drive is silent and Lydia drives slowly, watching out her window as the blue orbs keep pace with her car.

 

Deucalion

 

The betas screams were pleasurable to listen to, but the torture was getting tedious.  Deucalion really didn’t understand why the betas didn’t just give up their secrets.  Two of them had left their pack and the other wasn’t even a proper member yet.  Why did they care so much?  Why do through all this pain for people they abandoned?

 

“You realize this will all stop if you just tell me what I want to know,” he said.  The dark-skinned beta growled at him and the other two simply whined.  He rolled his eyes.  They were all completely pathetic.  He reached over and turned the dial.  The betas screamed in agony as the electric currents shocked their fragile systems.  He doubted any of them would last much longer.  Well, perhaps the bigger one would survive.  He was much stronger than the others.  Deucalion turned the dial back down and the kids whined as their bodies tried to heal.  It seemed as if the little blonde had stopped healing days ago.  He was shocked she was even still conscious.  At least the pain had shut her up though.  That girl had quite a foul mouth on her.

 

“I’ll ask again.  How many are in your pack?” he asked.  No answer.  “How about the names of the pack members?” he tried.  The dark one snarled again.  Goddamn kids were so stubborn.  “How is Derek Hale protecting his land so thoroughly?” he asked.  Not even a peep.  Deucalion sighed and turned his back on them.

 

“Ennis!” he barked.  The giant Alpha strode into the room and waited for an order.  “Have any of you found out anything?” he asked, exasperated.  Ennis huffed at his tone and crossed his arms.

 

“We found out how he’s been keeping us out.  They have a couple of witches on their side.  Two adults and a kid.  The kid was able to put a mountain ash line along the entire property.  No wolves can get in or out,” he answers.  Well, this was actually fantastic news.  The Hale pack isn’t the only ones with witches up their sleeves.

 

“Tell Aiden to find Gloria and have her break the line.  Let me know when it’s done,” he orders.  Ennis nods and backs out of the room.  Deucalion looks back at his prisoners and grins.  “Now we’re getting somewhere,” he says and then laughs.  “We’re gonna need to send a gift back to Alpha Hale.  Which one of you would like to deliver our message?” he asks.  A wicked grin spreads across his face as he looks them over.  As he traces his fingers over each of them, he gathers lingering memories and feelings.  The dark one, Boyd was his name, and the pretty blonde, Erica, had the beginning of a mating bond beginning.  How adorable, Deucalion thought.  And the gorgeous blonde boy next to her had already found his mate.  A beautiful strawberry blonde that he was worrying over.  Deucalion lingered on him, seeing how her human love had saved him and cured him of the Kanima curse.  A Kanima was very rare.  Deucalion wished they had left the boy as he was.  At least Kanima’s could be controlled, unlike stubborn werewolves.  Also the first one to be turned by Derek Hale, his very first proper beta.  Or at least he would have been, if the boy had had the time to create a bond.  Sadly, the chances of that happening now were extremely low.  Deucalion grinned and patted the boy on the cheek.

 

“Sorry about your life, kid.  It can be cruel,” he chuckled.  “Oh and by the way, your daddy was a wolf too.  Thought you should know.”

 

The boy perked up at the mention of his family, eyes wide with alarm.  Deucalion was aware of his adoption.  How could he not be…after all, his pack took out his pesky parents.  They were a threat to the Alpha pack and therefore were efficiently stopped.  If the Hale boy hadn’t bitten Jackson, the kid would have transformed all on his own eventually.  Deucalion eased himself into a chair next to his table filled with torture devices.  Torture: such a waste of time, he thought.  No one ever talked and it just created a mess.  Like the blood on the floor…why had no one cleaned that up yet?

 

“Ethan!” he yelled.  The young Alpha strolled in from another room and glared at him.  “Clean this mess up,” he ordered.  The man scowled, but did as he was told.  Good little Alpha, Deucalion thought.  Now, where was his pretty Indian princess?

 

“Kalli?” he called.  The beautiful brunette glided into the room on bare feet, her dress flying around her tan legs.  “Where have you been, dear?” he asks, keeping his tone light, though he was irritated by her absence.  She’s the only one who enjoyed the torture and she hadn’t even been here for most of it.

 

“Testing the property line.  Their young witch has great power.  The ash line was very solid and gives a slight zap when prodded,” she says.  She looks over the three betas and grins.  “You are all very strong for ones so young.”  Deucalion ignores the gleam in her eye as she peers over Boyd appreciatively.

 

“Yes, well we have Gloria working on it.  Shouldn’t be long now,” he says.  Just as he finished speaking, Ennis returns and nods.  “Done then?” Deucalion asks.  The man nods again and leaves.  Fantastic, time to get their message ready and the gift wrapped.  “Kalli, it’s time.  Choose one,” he orders.  Kalli looks over their prisoners again and raises Erica’s head up to see her pretty face.

 

“This one will do nicely,” she purrs.

 

“Have at it, my dear.  Let me know when it’s done,” Deucalion says and whistles as he strolls out of the room.  Kalli likes to get creative and creativity is messy.  He hates messes.

 

Kalli

 

“Oh, you care for this one a great deal don’t you?” she says, peering over at the dark one as she strokes the pretty blonde’s hair.  The girl cringes away from her touch, making the boy growl.  Kalli’s nails flick out and she grazes one down a porcelain cheek, feeling the girl shudder through the pain.  She places her claws against the young beta’s chest and in one slash, rips her nails down through her skin.  The girl screams as her flesh tears open all down her front, from the base of her neck to her abdomen.  The blood soaks into her shirt as it pours out of her.  The dark beta lets out a loud roar, canines growing and eyes flashing.  Kalli laughs.

 

“You are going to be one pretty painting when I’m through with you,” she whispers in the girl’s ear.  A sob chokes out of her victim, pleasing the Alpha.  Kalli moves behind the girl on silent feet.  She slides a clawed hand up under the young blonde’s jacket and shirt, feeling the flawless pink skin.  She reaches around to graze along the deep scratches on the front, eliciting whimpers from her.  The Alpha digs her claws into the gashes and slashes across her sides to the back.  Another scream as the blood drips to the floor.

 

The dark beta snarls loudly and pulls at his chains, but he’s too weak to pull free.  Kalli’s laugh is breathless as she digs her nails into the girl’s lower back and pulls upwards.  This always produces the loudest scream and the Alpha sighs at the pretty sounds the girl makes.

 

“You sound divine, my dear,” she whispers to her.  The girl’s sobs are more groans as the life spills out of her.  Kalli moves the luscious golden locks aside to reveal the unmarked neck and purrs in delight.  She lets her canines grow long and sharp and sinks them into the pink skin.  Clamping her jaws tight, she feels her teeth graze along the girl’s spine and the connection she had with her former Alpha severs violently.  She feels the binds snap inside the girl and rearrange so that the blonde is now her own beta.  Kalli licks the wound closed, shuddering in pleasure as the young beta’s emotions and memories flood into her.  The Alpha glides forward to face her new beta.

 

“Your life is so...” she says, pausing to find the right word.  “…Pathetic,” she finishes.  “Nevertheless, I enjoyed having you as my own for a few moments.  But I always grow weary of having betas.  Besides I find you boring now.  Goodbye, goldilocks,” she says, locking eyes with her beta.  Kalli steps back and lets the claws on her feet slide out.  In a motion so fast, the others couldn’t have tracked it, she kicks off the ground and digs her clawed feet into the girl.  She digs in as if the girl were a wall she was climbing to do a back flip.  Kalli ends the move with a swift turn in the air, slicing her claws along the blonde’s throat.  She lands gently on her feet, grinning wide.  The screams die as the young girl’s life slips away.  Job well done, Kalli thinks to herself.

 

“You may come in, darling.  The girl is gone,” she calls.  Deucalion saunters back in and scowls at the mess his mate has made.

 

“You are one lethal woman,” he says, pasting on a smile as to not upset her.

 

“I try, my dear,” she says, patting him on the cheek.  “Now, what’s the plan?” she asks.  Kalli was glad her mate was able to plan strategies and win battles.  She would never have the patience to plan anything.

 

“We’ll send this one back with the message and the body,” he says, pointing to the dark beta.  Kalli pouted, not wanting to miss out on the chance to rip into his chocolate skin.

 

“What about this one?” she asks, pointing to the cute blonde boy.  He had model good looks, but was nowhere near as built as his friend.  It wouldn’t take much to kill him and therefore Kalli doubted it would be much fun.

 

“We keep him for now as leverage.  He’s technically Derek’s first bitten and I’m sure the Alpha will agree to our terms to save him,” Deucalion says.

 

“And if not?” Kalli asks.

 

“If he challenges us by staying, then we take more members of his pack.  And if he still argues, we kill them all,” he answers with a grin.  Kalli was pleased with the prospect and hoped the Beacon Hills Alpha challenged them.  She knew Deucalion was hoping to take the town with the least amount of deaths possible, but she liked the idea of taking down an entire pack.  Kalli will follow whatever her mate wants though.  Deucalion motions for her to knock the dark beta unconscious and with a swift kick to the head, the beta is out cold.  Her mate lifts the boy onto his shoulder as she grabs the body of the blonde.  They run at full speed into the woods and dump the two betas inside the property line.  Kalli slaps the boy awake, waits for Deucalion to deliver the message and is pleased to see the heart broken boy lift his dead mate into his arms.  The boy staggers through the woods towards his Alpha’s den.

 

Kalli grabs her mate’s hand and giggles.  “Let’s hunt,” she says.  Deucalion grins at her and they both shift fully into their Alpha forms.  They bound into the forest together, chasing down a herd of deer.  As they feast in the forest, they’re hearts fill with joy as an Alpha’s pain filled roar rumbles through the trees.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

Dean

 

Dean doesn’t even startle when he hears wings flapping and weight pulling at the other side of the couch.  He continues to stare at the television and sip his beer, ignoring the fact that there’s an angel sitting next to him.  They sit in silence, until Castiel glances at him.

 

“Hello,” he says.  That’s it.  Like he hasn’t been gone for months, like he just popped in from the other room or something.  Dean doesn’t say anything.  There’s no point anyway.  The angel is just gonna up and leave again soon.  “Dean,” he says.  Dean sighs and turns up the volume.  Dr. Sexy is about to make out with the receptionist in a janitorial closet.  Lucky bastard, Dead thinks.  He can see Castiel tilt his head at the television in his peripheral vision.  They watch as the doctor gropes the girl in the closet.

 

“That seems unsanitary,” Castiel says.  Dean groans and flicks off the television.  The angel stares holes into the side of his head.  Goddamn it, what now?

 

“You are angry,” Cas says.  It’s not even a question.  Dean’s anger rises and he thumps his beer down on the table.  Taking a breath, he turns to glare at the angel.  Damn, bad move.  Blue eyes pierce into him and Cas once again tilts his head as if Dean is a puzzle.  It is most certainly not adorable, Dean thinks.

 

“Yeah, Cas, I’m angry,” he snaps.  “Do you know why?”  The angel shakes his head, patient as ever.  Dean stands and glares down at the man in a trench coat.  Dean still can’t get over that damn thing.  Angel in a trench coat, unbelievable.  “I am angry because you fucked off to God knows where right in the middle of a battle.  We barely got out alive.  You don’t show when we call for you, you don’t come back for months.  Months, Cas!” he yells.  The angel stands to his full height, confusion still etched into his face.

 

“I apologize.  I’ve been out of range,” he says.  Dean wants to laugh.  Out of range, that’s all he gets?  After everything, that’s the only answer he’s getting?

 

“Out of range,” he repeats.  The angel nods.  Dean sighs and moves away to grab another beer.

 

“Just forget it.  It doesn’t matter,” he says.  He was going for bitter, but it came out sadder than anything else.  Damn it.

 

“You are lying.  Why?” Cas asks.  For fuck’s sake, he really hates angels.  When Dean turns to glare at him, the angel is mere inches away, ignoring personal space rules once again.  He still manages the glare, but it falters under the intense gaze Cas is giving him.  A tingling sensation runs through him, the sign of Cas searching through his emotions.  Goddamn Angels, Dean thinks.

 

“You were worried,” he says, finding the emotion easily.  Dean sighs.

 

“Yes, Cas, we were worried.  You didn’t say anything before you disappeared and we haven’t heard from you in four months.  We thought you were dead,” he admits.  The angel searches his face and then nods in understanding.

 

“I apologize.  I will check in more frequently from now on,” he says.  Dean looks away awkwardly, but nods too.

 

“Well, good,” he says.  They stand there for an awkward few seconds before Dean clears his throat, hand gripping his beer.  “Cas?”

 

“Yes, Dean?”

 

“Personal space?” he asks, pointing at the inches of space with his beer.  The angel looks down, his gaze lingering on Dean’s chest before snapping his head back up to see his face.  He quickly backs away.

 

“Of course,” he says.  Dean feels a smile tug at his lips at the predictable behavior.  It was good to have his friend back.  He looked him over, really making sure he was okay.

 

“So where have you been?” he asks.

 

“There was trouble amongst the garrison.  My brothers and sisters are arguing over who freed me from Purgatory.  They made a decision,” Cas says.  In a rare moment, Dean could see a real emotion flicker across the angel’s face.  Was it despair?  Dean wasn’t sure.  He waited for the angel to continue, getting worried when he said nothing.

 

“And?” he asks.

 

“They have decided that the only one who could have brought me back is Lucifer.  They no longer believe God has a hand in our actions or world for that matter,” he answers.  Castiel sat down on the couch, the sound of feathers being ruffled as he did so.  This was Dean’s fault…again.  He hadn’t saved him from Purgatory and the Angel had to save him from Hell because he was too weak to withstand the torture.  The guy just kept saving him and Dean didn’t understand why.  Cas had fallen not once, but twice because of Dean and now he’s a total mess.  Dean didn’t know what to say in answer to that.  He grabbed another beer from the fridge and offered it to the angel.

 

“No, thank you,” Cas mumbled.  Dean nodded, figuring that would have been the answer.

 

“I’m sorry all of this is happening, Cas,” Dean says, glaring at the soggy label around his bottle.

 

“It is not your fault,” Cas says.  Before Dean can respond, Sam walks in with fast food bags.  He looks up from the fry he’s eating and almost chokes when he sees Castiel.  Dean chuckles because it just looks ridiculous.

 

“Castiel!  You’re alive!” Sam announces.  He lunges forward and pulls the angel into an awkward one-sided embrace.  His brother pulls back just as quickly, backing away awkwardly.  Dean didn’t like it.  Sam needs to find his own Angel to grope – wait, what?  No, Cas wasn’t his angel, of course not.  Friends, close friends, that’s all it is.

 

“Yes, I am,” Cas says.  Sam’s still grinning like an idiot and Dean downs the rest of his beer.

 

“Where have you been?” his brother asks.  As the angel explains his story again, Dean takes a moment to escape.  He drifts out of the room and into the small bathroom, where he locks the door behind him.  Leaning against the sink, he lets himself finally breathe.  Cas was back and he was alive.  Everything would be alright as long as –

 

“Castiel?” Sam calls.  What now?  Dean storms into the room, but the angel is nowhere to be seen.

 

“What the fuck?” Dean asks, or yells really.  Sam shrugged, defeat in his shoulders as he lay back on the bed.

 

Sam

 

Sam watched as his brother paced the room, trying to think of some way to get the angel back here.  He had grown hoarse from yelling for the angel to return.  Sam didn’t know how to help his brother through this.  He couldn’t help him the last three times and he doesn’t know what to do now.  Dean seems to think that Sam can’t see what’s happening, but he’s not an idiot.  His big brother has fallen for the angel and Sam honestly doesn’t know if it’s a good thing.  One would think that loving an Angel would be the best option, but it’s really not.  Dean begins with the yelling again and Sam sighs.

 

“Dean,” he says, sitting up on the bed.  His brother glances at him, eyes wide and fearful though he’s trying to hide the panic.  “He can’t hear us, wherever he is.  Maybe we can try a spell,” Sam suggests, even though he knows it won’t do anything.  Dean jumps at it though.

 

“Yeah, let’s do that.  I’ll gather ingredients, you ready the ritual stuff,” he says.  His brother grabs his keys and all but runs out the door, slamming it on his way out.  Sam sat for a minute.  He would do as his brother wanted, but Sam knew the spell wouldn’t work.  It had never worked before, why would it this time?  Sighing, he rummaged through his duffel, bringing out ritual tools and a spell book.  It had been Bobby’s of course.  Just about everything useful they owned was from Bobby.  Sam sat down heavily on his bed, cursing the oncoming migraine.  He’d been getting them every day for a few weeks now.  They felt all too familiar…as were the nightmares he’d been getting.  Sam hadn’t told his brother that it’s been happening again, not wanting to worry him.  Besides, Sam had no idea what it even meant.  He hadn’t had visions since yellow eyes died and these were different.  They weren’t as clear and Sam could barely decipher what was happening in them.  As far as he could tell, for once it wasn’t connected to another Special Child like him.  All the visions seemed to have one thing in common.  A place, a town to be exact, in California.  He had no idea what it meant or why he was having visions about it.  All he kept seeing was fire and a giant pit in the ground opening up.  The vision always ends with a bright flash of light, leaving Sam blind in the darkness.

 

A gentle breeze washes over him, making him freeze.  What the hell?  The doors and windows were closed, where was the wind coming from?

 

“Cas?” he asks.  The wind blows harder, brushing his hair back.  Okay, so not Cas?  Sam stands slowly just as Dean barges in with an armful of grocery bags.  He squints at Sam, registering his alert pose and glances around the room.

 

“What?  Did he come back?” he asks.  Sam shushes him, looks around the room and feels his hair blow back again.  “What the fuck was that?  How’d your hair do that, Sammy?” Dean asks, almost chuckling.  Sam glares, but then realized what his brother is saying.

 

“You didn’t feel that?” he asks.  An even stronger gust rushes at him, almost toppling him over.  Dean’s brow furrows as he shakes his head.  His eyes widen after a moment.

 

“Do you think it’s Cas?” Dean asks, looking around the empty room.  The invisible force manages to push him over this time and Sam huffs.

 

“No, I do not think its Cas.  I don’t know what or who it is, but it’s pissing me off,” he grumbles, standing and straightening his shirt.  They both startle when a giant pile of candy materializes out of nowhere and lands on the table.  The hell?  They glance at each other and then simultaneously draw their weapons.  They wait for someone or something to appear, but after twenty tense minutes, they assume the threat is gone.  Dean rifles through the candy and scowls.  There are blow pops, tootsie rolls, hard caramel candies, etc.  Dean makes a face, displeased with the selection.  His brow furrows again and he looks back and forth between the candy and Sam.

 

“Looks like someone has a secret admirer,” Dean says, a mocking grin all over his stupid face.  Sam sighs and looks through the pile.  It is, in fact, all of his favorites.  Without thinking, he reaches for a caramel candy, opens it and pops it in his mouth.  Yes, caramel goodness, he thinks as he sucks on the candy.

 

“Sam, we have no idea where this came from,” Dean says, giving him a stern look.  Well, he wasn’t gonna spit it out now. 

 

“You’re just mad because you hate all of these,” Sam said, pleased with his new sweets.  Yes, he realized this could have been a trap, but whatever.  He missed candy and this was free.  Besides, he’d rather die of poisoned candy than by being ripped to shreds by a demon or something.  Yes, the candy will stay.

 

Dean rolls his eyes, but doesn’t move to take the sweets away.

 

“Are we doing this ritual or not?” he asks.  Sam immediately sobers, remembering what happened earlier.  He still doubted this was going to work, but why not give it a shot.  Dean dumps the sand into the bowl and adds all the odds and ends to it.  He lights a match and waits until Sam has finished the incantation before lighting the ash and sand on fire.  They barely wait five seconds, before getting a reaction.

 

The walls begin to shake, accompanied by a loud screeching.  They cover their ears as the noise increases, shattering the lights overhead.  As glass rains down and the television flickers, Sam pries open his eyes to see white wings swoop through the room.  A bright light shines in the middle of the room, forcing Sam to shut his eyes tight.  After a few agonizing seconds, the noise abruptly stops, leaving Sam’s ears ringing.  He crawls to his brother to help him up and they look each other over, checking for serious damage.  They don’t notice the extra figure in the room, until he speaks.

 

“Howdy, boys,” the man chimes.  Sam whips around, recognizing the voice immediately.  The man – or angel – waves at him.

 

“Gabriel,” Sam says.  The man grins and then points to the table.

 

“Did you like the gift?” the angel asks.  Sam glares, eliciting a pout from the other man.  Dean straightens, brushing glass off of his clothes and out of his hair.

 

“I thought you were dead,” Dean says.  The cheeky grin Gabriel was wearing is replaced with a frown.

 

“Yes, I was.  No thanks to you two,” he sneers.  Sam glances at the floor.  The angel had a point.  Gabriel did die to protect them…or that goddess more likely, but still…

 

“Yeah, well, apparently you killed me over a hundred times, so I’m not sorry we got you killed,” Dean snaps.  Gabriel rolls his eyes.

 

“Old news, Dean.  Now, why did you call me?” he asks.  Dean scowls at him.

 

“We didn’t.  We were calling for Cas, not you.”  Gabriel grunts and shrugs.

 

“Someone’s panties are in a twist,” the angel laughed.  Sam bit his lip to keep from grinning as Dean stomped to the fridge for yet another beer.  He shakes his head and plops down on the edge of his bed.

 

“So how are you alive?” Sam asks.  Gabriel is quiet for a minute, looking Sam over.  Sam fidgets under the scrutiny.

 

“Well, I’m assuming one of my siblings brought me back.  ‘Cause we all know daddy-o ain’t givin’ a shit,” he grumbles.  He snaps his fingers and a martini glass appears in his hand.  The angel sips at it neatly and leans against the nearest wall.

 

“But do you know why?” Sam asks.  His brother returns to the group, sitting on the edge of the wobbly table.  Gabriel glances at him briefly, but then refocuses on Sam.

 

“Nope,” he says.

 

“You’re lying.  I thought angels weren’t supposed to do that?” Dean barks.  Gabriel glares at him, snaps his fingers, and the table leg breaks in two, tumbling Dean to the floor.  Sam winces as his brother curses and flings his beer bottle at the angel’s head.  Gabriel simply tilts his head, letting the bottle shatter against the wall.  Nice reflexes, Sam thought.

 

“Fine, yes, I know why.  I’m supposed to save Castiel or some shit,” the angel gripes.  Dean’s head snaps up, eyes wide with fear and hope.

 

“Save him from what?” Dean asks.  Gabriel shrugs.

 

“Don’t know,” he answers.  At Dean’s glare, he sighs.  “But I can tell by your blue steel, that you think I should go after him,” the man says.

 

“He’s your brother, of course you should save him,” Dean snaps.  Sam winces at the comment, knowing how hurt Dean still is that he didn’t look for him.

 

 Gabriel’s martini vanishes as he steps away from the wall.

 

“The last brother I tried to ‘save’ ripped my heart out.  So excuse me for not wanting to die again,” he says, his voice rising to an almost yell.  Sam’s surprised at the anger and quickly steps between his brother and the angel.  The man stops his advance and looks up at Sam.

 

“Do you want me to save him?” he asks, poking a finger into Sam’s chest.

 

“Yes, I do,” Sam answers.  They keep eye contact for a few seconds until Gabriel sighs and moves away.

 

“Fine, I will save my little bro’s ass, but this is the last time, capiche?” he asks.  Sam nods and the angel frowns.  “I’m supposed to seek out some special vampire to be my back up.  What a vamp has to do with anything I don’t get, but whatever, I’ll do it,” Gabriel huffs.  He winks at Sam and then disappears.  Sam turns back to his brother, who’s giving him a weird look.  What?  What now?  Dean’s gaze drops to Sam’s shirt and he nods at it.

 

“Nice lollipop,” he says and then walks away.  What – lolli -…? Oh, Sam thinks.  A lollipop is sticking out of his shirt pocket.  He grabs it and looks it over.  Grape, his favorite.  He unwraps it and pops it in his mouth.  Well, if an angel is going to give him free candy, he’s not gonna complain.

 

Castiel

 

As he takes in his new surroundings, he can’t help but pull at the chains attaching him to a chair.  They were made out of some strange metal, burning his vessel easily.  Perhaps the same metal that their blades are made of?  It’s a good guess for now.

 

A door behind him clangs open and two unknown angels walk in.  They stand at guard on either side of him, waiting for their boss.  A familiar red head enters in after them.

 

“Anna?”

 

The young woman turns to him and gives him a sad smile.

 

“Yes, Castiel.  The heavens have decided your fate and I am here to see that it is carried out,” she says.

 

“But how?  Michael incinerated you.”

 

Anna smiles and says, “Yes, he did.  But my garrison was able to restore me more or less intact and I am once again in charge,” she states.

 

“You’re garrison does not have that kind of power, Anna.  They could not have brought you back,” Castiel says.  He notices the two Angels in the back glance at each other in confusion, but they say nothing.  Anna glares at him, but seemingly refuses to acknowledge his statement.

 

“Your fate is to be tortured until death.  I will oversee the process and make sure my men get the job done,” she says and steps back to let the two angels through.  They draw their blades and simultaneously begin to slice into his vessel.  He cries out in pain as the metal burns not only his skin, but his true form underneath.  The angels continue for hours, opening and reopening wounds on his vessel, scarring his angelic spirit.  The worst part is when they switch to his wings, slicing through them, only to have them reform and be ripped apart again and again.  When he thinks he can take no more, the sigils along the walls begin to glow and burn away.  He watches in a daze as Anna’s face contorts in pain and her back arches around the blade shoved into her back.

 

“Sorry, sister,” he hears a man say.  Light pours from her mouth and eyes and in a great flash her vessel crumples to the ground, surrounded by the charred remains of her wings.  The front door slams open and a silver blade whizzes through the air and plunges into the neck of the nearest angel.  Castiel could not make out the figure in the doorway, but if he was here to rescue him too, then he was grateful.  Another whoosh of a blade and the last angel goes down in a blazing light, the two angels’ charred wings overlapping and their vessels touching.  Strange, they must have had a special bond.  Castiel laughs hysterically and mutters, “Profound bond.”

 

The man in the doorway steps forward and looks around at the wreckage.

 

“Holy shit,” he mumbles.  Castiel knew that southern drawl, but from where?  Before he could ask anything, another man – angel? – is trying to unlock his chains, but curses and quickly drops them.

 

“Well that hurt like a bitch,” the man grumbles, shaking his burnt hands.  “Hey, vamp, undo these so we can blow this Popsicle stand,” he orders.  The other man comes forward and glares at the angel.

 

“I do have a name.  It ain’t just vamp,” the man grumbles.  Both voices were extremely familiar, but Castiel could not place them.  He could barely make out the blurry shapes of their bodies.  The chains rattled and he sighed in relief as they were removed.  “He don’t look so good,” the man says.

 

“Yes, thank you Captain Obvious, I can see that,” the angel says.  Castiel hears a hissing from the other man, but it only lasts for a few seconds.  “Now, help me get him outside and then we’ll bring him back to the boys,” the angel orders.  Strong arms lift him on both sides and he manages to take in a deep breath.

 

“Thank you,” he whispers.

 

“You are so not welcome,” the angel gripes at the same time the other man says, “No problem.”

 

Castiel wishes he could ask who they were and why they had rescued him, but darkness overcomes him soon after they start moving him.  He drifts off to the two men’s voices.

 

“Dean-o is not gonna be happy,” the angel mumbles.

 

“You ain’t kiddin’.”

 

Ruby

 

“This is not gonna work,” she gripes at the girl next to her.  Ruby crosses her arms and glares as the stupid blonde continues to dig this dumbass hole in the ground.

 

“If you don’t want to help, then leave,” the blonde snaps.  Ruby sighs, but doesn’t move to grab a shovel.  She isn’t digging a hole around some supposedly sacred tree, just to see if the rumors of a gate are true.  The only people to have ever left this God forsaken place are Dean Winchester, that goddamned Angel, and a vampire that got to hitch a ride.  There was no way five dead demons were going to make it through any kind of portal.  Dead demons, Ruby scoffed.  She thought she’d already died.  Apparently not.  Stabbed with her own knife, unbelievable.  She thought Lucifer would be grateful to her and resurrect her.  Well, that didn’t happen.

 

“Why aren’t you digging, sweetheart?” a voice whispers in her ear.  She shudders away and scowls at him.  “Would you rather serve a different purpose?” the man hisses at her.  Disgusting.  She grabs a shovel and with a glare begins moving dirt.

 

“Where’s that darling Meg?” he asks.  The girl to her right lifts herself out of the hole and frowns.

 

“What now?”

 

“Just making sure all my girls’ are in one place.  Wouldn’t want that pretty head of yours being eaten,” he answers with a smirk.  The girl rolls her eyes and hops back into the dirt.  Ruby didn’t know much about her except that she was killed by some demon named Crowley.  She really didn’t give a fuck about her unless she became a threat and so far she wasn’t.  Meg was the one working hardest on getting out.  She probably just wanted revenge on this Crowley guy.  Not that it would do her much good.  Sounds like the guy would just kill her all over again.  As for Ruby, if she did manage to get out, the first thing she was gonna do is hunt down that bastard who stabbed her.  Goddamn hunters, goddamn Dean Winchester.  Ruby is pulled from her hateful ramblings when Lilith jumps out of the hole with a girly shriek.  A. Girly. Shriek.  For fuck’s sake, Ruby thinks.  The blonde bounces over to an older man who’s walking up the path towards them.  He catches her and their lips smash together in a fevered kiss.

 

“Gag me,” Ruby scoffs and hears Meg snort.  At least she wasn’t the only one sickened by the newly formed couple.  She nudges closer to the other girl and reaches her hand out.

 

“Ruby,” she offers.  The girl frowns for a minute, but shakes her hand eventually.

 

“So I’ve heard.  I’m Meg,” she says.  Their eyes flick to black at the same time, in warning, which makes them both smirk.  “So, how’d you end up here?” Meg asks.

 

“Short version: manipulated some guy into becoming a monster and said guy’s brother stabbed me with my own Hell Knife,” Ruby answered.  Meg raised a brow, thinking it over.

 

“This guy got a name?” she asks.  Ruby glares at her, not knowing her angle.

 

“Does it matter?” Ruby snaps.  Meg shrugs and leans on her shovel.

 

“Just sounds like a task I was given once.  A task I failed, obviously,” Meg grumbled.  Ruby’s glare lessened as she looked her over again.

 

“Sam Winchester?” Ruby asks.  Meg smirks and nods.

 

“You the one that actually got it done?”

 

“Yeah, lot of good it did me,” Ruby answered.  Her host body responded to the memory of the tall and handsome man.  “Fine piece of ass though,” she said.  Meg only shrugged and went back to digging.  Alright then, moving on.

 

“That plan didn’t do any of us any good,” the older man chimed in.  The blonde went back to work, flicking her white colored eyes Ruby’s way as she walked passed.  She was such a major creep.

 

“Azazel, thank you for joining us.  Care to pick up a shovel?” Alastair asks.

 

“Not so much, Al,” the man replies, smirking at Alastair’s glare.  “We makin’ any progress?” he asks.

 

“No because there is nothing down here,” Ruby snaps.  Her scowl is met with golden yellow irises.

 

“Watch your tone, girly,” Azazel says.  “You may have convinced Sammy to drink your pretty blood, but don’t forget, my blood made him what he is,” he warns and then throws her a wink.  And cue the nausea, Ruby thinks.

 

“Enough with the witty banter.  Have my sluts found anything yet?” Alastair sneers.  Sick, gross, disgusting, Ruby chants in her head and promptly ignores him.

 

“Nothing yet,” Meg answers.  “But it shouldn’t be long now.  It’s down here somewhere.”

 

Alastair licks his lips at her and says, “It better be, honey.”  The only indication she gives that the comment bothers her is a quirk of her eyebrow.  Brave girl, Ruby thinks.

 

“Alright, let’s pack up before nightfall,” Alastair says.  Lilith squeals in delight (AGAIN) and runs into Azazel’s arms, who carries her into the forest.  They kiss passionately all the way to their cave.  Ruby throws her shovel down and stomps off, not bothering to see where the other two head off.  None of them (except the two love birds) share a hiding space.  It was a really bad idea to be out in the open at night, even for demons.  Leviathans were the bullies on the playground and Ruby did not want to tangle with them.  They eat everything…literally.  Ruby sighs as she lies back against her rock.  If demons could sleep, she would do it right now.  This place made her so bored she could stab herself in the eye.  She closes her eyes and pretends to sleep anyway.

 

Meg

 

The roots of the tree cling to her body as she buries herself beneath them.  No way was she leaving this tree, not with the others still prowling around somewhere.  If anyone was going to rip this damn gate open, it was gonna be her.  Meg didn’t even care if she got ripped to shreds on the way out.  As long as she gave it a try, it was worth it.  She had gathered the necessary power players (Lilith, Azazel, and Alastair) and had finally found this sacred tree.  If it was the last thing she ever did, she was gonna pry this sucker open.

 

She’d be free to track the so called ‘King’ down and flay his skin off piece by piece.  At least she would, after he gave her what he stole from her.  How dare he touch what’s hers.  Meg closes her eyes, opening her senses to her surroundings.  It was a quiet night for once, but then again not many creatures approach this tree.  Everyone can feel the power it holds and the fear it instills, yet the giant piece of dead wood embraces her every night, like she isn’t just another creature.  She supposes she isn’t, not anymore.  Yes, she still wants revenge and still thinks humans are worthless meat suits, but hurting them had become boring a long time ago.  Meg just didn’t see the point in destroying the very things she needs to possess to survive.

 

The leaves rustle above her and she freezes.  If anyone so much as touched her tree, they were dead.  The rustling continues and a low hissing vibrates through the air.  No fucking way.  A vampire?  Seriously?  Was it brain dead?  She hoped the tree would zap it or something.

 

“A demon cowering behind a tree?  Why am I not surprised?” the vamp says.  His voice was deep and raspy, like he’d been sucking down blood all night.  She recognized it and immediately teleported out of the trees roots, drawing her knife and landing to the vamps right.  He swung, but she was faster.  Meg easily dodged his attack and followed with a slice to his side.  It wasn’t deep, but it managed to slow him down.  He grinned wide, his teeth razor sharp and dripping.

 

“I heard Dean made it out,” he snarled.  Meg ignored the comment, baiting him with her silence.  The overgrown vamp hissed at her, as expected, and lunged.  She rotated away, jabbing her blade into the side of his neck.  He stopped short, gurgled, and dropped.  The vamp glared at her as his blood soaked into the mud beneath him.  She leaned down, gripping the hilt of her blade that was still embedded in his neck.

 

“Yeah, Dean made it out,” she whispered as she yanked her weapon free.  She leaned over him, getting right in his face, making sure he could hear her.  “That was for trying to kill him, you son of a bitch,” she hissed.  The former hunter, turned vampire, simply gurgled at her and then turned to dust.  Meg sighed, knowing he’d be back by tomorrow.  Nothing ever stayed dead in this place.  Especially Gordon Walker, the vampire extraordinaire.  He’d been a real thorn in her side ever since she caught him tracking down Dean.  At the time, Meg was just going to sit back and watch the show, but that was before she saw the flap of a tan trench coat.  Without thinking, she had taken Gordon down, and turned another creature to dust for the first time.  After it was over, she watched as the hunter and his angel fought side by side against the Leviathans.  If Dean was the only one protecting Castiel in this place, then Meg would have to protect Dean.  This place wasn’t meant for humans, let alone an angel and Meg had a soft spot for those baby blues.  Meg hid within the trees and watched as they ran and fought and ran some more.

 

She intercepted a few demons that got too close, that blonde Kitsune that just wouldn’t give up.  Meg figured Dean ganked her years back and wanted revenge.  It didn’t matter the reason, Meg took them all down with a swift slice of her blade.  The most dangerous had been sneaking up on that brunette a few months back.  What did she say her name was?  Oh, right, Ruby or whatever.  Meg had watched as the other demon took her time tracking the hunter down.  She could tell the woman was a very skilled fighter and Meg would never win against her.  The only option was a surprise attack.  So she waited for months, until the woman finally went to make her move in the dead of night.  Meg was perched up in a tree and waited until the other demon was beneath her before dropping on her.  She didn’t hesitate to slash her pretty throat open, smiling triumphantly when the girl immediately burst into a pile of ash.

 

It had been fairly quiet after that, except for the arrival of a new player.  That southern vampire who saved Dean’s life.  It was fascinating to watch them circle each other like prey, only to have Dean lower his weapon.  Meg learned later that the vampire claimed to know a way out.  Admitted freely to the hunter that there were in fact two doors that led to the outside.  After watching them track down and find the first door, Meg knew she would never be able to go through it.  She also knew that Dean wouldn’t and couldn’t bring both her and his vampire friend through.  Therefore she left in search of the second door, trusting the vampire to keep Dean safe.

 

It took her another 50 years to stumble upon this sacred tree that everyone feared.  When Meg approached it the first time, the roots seemed to writhe at her presence.  Not submitting to the fear it radiated through her, she placed a hand on its deadened bark.  The roots had come alive then and wrapped themselves tight around her.  The tree’s spirit picked through her brain and trembled in delight as it absorbed her memories, lingering on the 4 centuries she spent in Hell and the century and a half she’s been in Purgatory.  Meg never understood what exactly the tree had liked about her, but it gave her the tools to pry open the door beneath it; told her who was needed and how to reach the opening.

 

Once she tracked down the three demons she needed, that Ruby girl had found them and tried to attack Lilith.  Ruby was no match and went down fast.  Before Lilith had the chance to kill her, Azazel spoke on her behalf, claiming that she could be useful.  When Alastair demanded to be in charge, the tree didn’t protest, so Meg went with the flow.

 

As she sits back against the rough bark, the dull sun rises over the forest, chasing away the shadows left by the night.  Meg doesn’t hesitate to get back to work, digging gently around the tree roots.  They shudder with each passing of the metal and whisper to her that the door is close.  The other three join her at the tree just as Meg hefts another shovelful of dirt.  Her body tingles as a dim light begins to shine through the roots.

 

“Holy fuck, what is that?” Ruby asks.  Meg scrambles out of the hole as the light burns brighter, engulfing the entire tree.  The light sears her skin, but it’s nothing she won’t heal from.  A smile breaks out on her face and she laughs, elation spreading through her.

 

“We found it, we actually found it,” she breathes.  The others stare in fascination as the ground beneath the tree falls away.  The monstrosity appears to be floating in midair, but Meg has to squint through the light.  And even then, there isn’t much to see.  Not much, as in nothing.  It’s just a giant swirling hole in the ground.  Now, the spirit whispers to her.  Meg understands this massive presence now.  It’s so simple.  The spirit is the very essence of Purgatory, the glue that holds it together, the force that keeps the creatures imprisoned.  It was somehow terrifying and beautiful at the same time.  Meg shook herself and yelled at the others to form a circle.

 

Meg stood at the center, Lilith to her right and Azazel to her left.  They held hands, much to everyone’s displeasure and one by one their eyes flicked to their demonic hues.

 

“Now!” Meg shouted over the roaring of the portal.  They jumped as one, pulled through by the spirit.  It wasn’t a pleasant trip by any means.  Meg’s skin blistered and her empty host body tried to force her out multiple times, but she pushed back harder.  What could be trying to force her out, she had no idea.  The woman that she possessed had died along with her at Crowley’s hand.  She felt the woman’s soul peacefully slip away and Meg was able to cling to the body, just as the demons around her had done with theirs.

 

After what felt like days, the sweltering heat began to subside, the screams of her companions slowly fading as the Earth’s atmosphere closed in around them.  They landed hard, spread out far from each other.  As Meg’s body slowly healed, she took inventory, testing out all of her limbs.  She made it.  She escaped Purgatory alive.  Meg felt like laughing and crying all at once, but she did neither.  Instead she picked herself up off the dirt and took in her surroundings.  They landed in a cemetery, how fitting, she thought.  Glancing around, she saw that the other’s had made it out as well.  Meg didn’t feel particularly delighted about this aspect.  Though they were needed for her escape, she wasn’t about to roam the Earth and raise hell with them.  Catching Alastair’s glare, she drew her weapon.

 

“Oh, now that’s not very nice,” he slurred.  Knowing she wouldn’t survive in a fight against them, she took off at rapid speed, finding herself not able to teleport yet.  Meg felt the blinding heat of Lilith’s power at her back, but it never reached her as she crossed over the state line.  She came to a stop in the middle of the street and read the sign.

 

“California/Arizona border,” she read aloud.  Now that she knew where she was, she could begin tracking Crowley down.  It took her weeks the last time.  With her new determination, she knew it would only be a matter of days before she found him, collected back what he stole, and blew his head off.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

Damon

 

A small thump sounds to his right as another blood bag is thrown through the window.  He couldn’t believe he was imprisoned in this damn basement again.  This is the third time his baby brother has locked him away.  Damon glares at the eyes peering through the bars.

 

“You realize this can’t last forever, right?”  Damon asks.

 

“Technically it can as long as I keep feeding you,” Stefan answers, amusement in his tone.  He was such a sore loser.  This wasn’t about keeping Jeremy safe, it was about keeping him from Elena.  Damon’s heart pounds at the mere thought of her.  That was the worst part of this imprisonment; not being able to see her, hear her voice, smell her perfume, feel her touch.  Damon shot up off the ground, slamming against the wooden door, shocking his brother.

 

“Let me the fuck out of here,” he demanded.  Stefan stared at him for a minute before shaking his head.

 

“And let you kill Jeremy?  I don’t think so,” he answered.  Damon hissed, feeling his fangs descend.

 

“This isn’t about him and you know it.”

 

Stefan shrugged and backed away.  “Believe what you want,” he says and then walks away.  Damn it.  Damon let’s go of the bars and sits against the stone wall.  He hated this room and everything about it.  The scent of vervain still lingered in the air even though they ran out months ago.  It scratched his throat and diminished his senses, leaving him thirsty and irritated on a 24 hour basis.

 

Lifting the bag that lay in the dirt, he watches the red liquid swirl and cling to the plastic.  He pulled the plug out and sipped the contents slowly, feeling it soothe his aches and replenish his energy.  Stefan had him on a two meal a day program or whatever.  If this is all his brother drinks in a day, no wonder he’s a basket case.  Two bags a day was definitely not a healthy diet and after a week, Damon could feel the effects of his thirst growing.  Damon knew, without a doubt, that Stefan was doing this on purpose.  He understood why his brother hated him, but this was ridiculous.  Starvation isn’t going to break the compulsion, so if that’s his plan, he’s an idiot.

 

Damon sipped and sucked in a mouthful of air.  Goddamn it.  He got too caught up in his thoughts and drank it all.  That was supposed to last him the rest of the day.  Damon threw it into the growing pile with the others.  Now to sit and wait – for what he didn’t know.  A visitor, a mid-morning snack perhaps?

 

No, stop thinking about it.  Stefan will bring another later tonight.  You can deal with this, Damon thought.  He sighed.  It was boring as fuck down here.  He played with the dirt around his feet, not knowing what to do with himself, once again.  He let his thoughts wander.

 

Shining brunette hair swam through his head, accompanied by coffee colored irises, fair skin, soft lips coated in shiny gloss, razor sharp nails and delicate hands.  Her hands were always cold, no matter if she was human or vampire.  Elena’s scent had changed now that she was a vampire, but it didn’t make her any less desirable.  In fact, her aroma was even more enticing to him now.  All spicy heat mixed with a refreshing ocean scent, like sea salts.  It was complicated and intriguing, as is everything else about her.

 

Damon wonders why she hasn’t come to visit him yet.  Was it too hard to see him locked up?  Or was something else happening?  If Stefan so much as made a move on her, he’d kill him.  Damon finally got her to love him back and he wasn’t going to let anything fuck that up.  He shouldn’t have gotten so close to Kol, the asshole, but if he hadn’t Jeremy would’ve been killed for sure.  After saving the kid from one threat, he now found himself the most dangerous thing around Jeremy.  It was all so messed up.  If he killed Jeremy, Elena would never be able to forgive him.  Plus, Damon didn’t want to hurt him.  Not now, not ever.  He still hadn’t shed the guilt of the last time he did it.  Thank god Jeremy had that ring on that night.  Damon doesn’t know what he would’ve done if the kid hadn’t been resurrected.  He’d never be able to look Elena in the eyes again.

 

The door to the first floor opened and Damon stood, brushing himself off.  It was probably just Stefan, come to gloat some more.  Damon leaned against the back wall, not wanting to be any closer to his little brother than necessary.  Being pent up in this little room had his nerves on edge and at the moment he didn’t want to deal with Stefan.

 

The figure came up to the bars and for a moment Damon had hope that it would be someone else.

 

“Finish breakfast already?”

 

Damon sighed.  Of course it wasn’t anyone else.  “What do you want Stefan?”

 

“I need to know exactly what Kol compelled you to do,” Stefan said.  Damon glared.  Hadn’t they been over this?

 

“To kill Jeremy,” he answered, once again.  Stefan sighed, then suddenly pulled back the lock, opened the door and stepped inside.  Damon didn’t hesitate to lunge for the opening.  He’d always been faster than Stefan.

 

But not anymore he realizes, as a hand slams into his chest and pushes him back into the room.  His back hits the stone wall and he crumples into the dirt.  Son of a bitch, Stefan got fast, and strong.  This was so not okay.  Damon picked himself back up as Stefan closed the door, guarding it from the inside.  What, was he gonna make himself a prisoner too?  Or was he about to enter into an epic brother on brother fight?  He really hoped that wasn’t the case.  At this rate, he’d lose for sure.

 

“What’s going on, brother?” he asks.  Even if he’s here for a fight, Damon wasn’t gonna go down easy.  Stefan scowled at him and crossed his arms.

 

“You can come out of the defensive crouch.  I’m not going to attack, even if you deserve it,” Stefan said.  Damon looked down at himself.  He hadn’t even noticed he’d readied himself for a fight.  Straightening back up, he paused, waiting.  Stefan wasn’t saying anything.

 

“What?!” Damon snapped.  Stefan smirked at his tone.

 

“Little on edge are we?” he asked.  Damon felt his fangs pushing to be released, but he held back.  He couldn’t stop the blood rushing to his eyes though as they changed.  The low diet made his control weak and unpredictable.  Damon hadn’t felt like this in years and it was irritating to say the least.  He might’ve had the ‘bad brother’ reputation, but he had prided himself on his control.  Yeah, he killed every now and then, but the thirst was always in check, hardly ever a noticed presence.  Well, he sure as hell was noticing it now.  Stefan only stood and watched as Damon fought for control.

 

“Not fun is it?” he asked.  The bite that had been behind his words over the last week had weakened now.  He just sounded tired and annoyed.  Well, join the club, Damon thought.  Another minute went by until he was able to push the thirst down and bury it.  He let out a weary sigh and leaned against the wall.  He really just wanted to be left alone.

 

“Why are you here, Stefan?” he asked.  Stefan looked him over, brows furrowed.  Damon couldn’t help but wonder what else his eyes have been wandering over.  He wished Elena would show up.

 

“Like I said, I need to know what Kol compelled you to do.  Word for word,” Stefan answered.

 

“I don’t remember it word for word,” Damon said.  Stefan rolled his eyes.

 

“Well, try harder,” he snapped.  Damon wanted to punch him in his stupid face.

 

“Don’t you get it?  I don’t know what the fuck he said.  I just know he compelled me to kill Jeremy.  I have no fucking idea what his actual words were,” Damon yelled.  Stefan tilted his head as he registered Damon’s words.

 

“He compelled you to forget?” he asked.

 

“I don’t know, Stefan,” Damon barked.  Stefan glared at him.

 

“Then how do you know about the compulsion?  If he compelled you to forget, then you shouldn’t remember anything.  What made you remember?” he asked.  Damon clenched his jaw shut and looked away.  He was not talking about this with Stefan.  They were not opening that can of worms right now.  He really didn’t want to fight and he also didn’t want to be humiliated again.  Damon knows the exact moment he figured out he was compelled.  He had looked into those pretty brown eyes that were so full of concern and love and visions of his victim had plagued him.  Jeremy was only a kid and he was strong, loyal, caring, and brave.  A wall had broken inside his mind then and he could see Kol’s face and the urge to rip Jeremy’s throat open and feed on him had rushed through him.  It wasn’t that hard to figure out.  Besides, he would never kill Jeremy, not after the weeks they spent at the lake.  He wouldn’t call it friendship exactly because the kid clearly hated him, but Damon thought that maybe those few weeks together had lessened the level of hate.  If Jeremy had just shot him in the heart like Damon told him, none of this would be happening.  He’d be dead, Jeremy wouldn’t be in danger, Elena would keep her brother, end of story.  But no, the damn kid had to go and spare his miserable life.

 

Damon could feel the compulsion fueling his anger and Jeremy flooded through his mind, all young and helpless.  His fangs slammed down and blood rushed into his eyes as thirst and rage boiled through his veins.  A loud hiss escaped him involuntarily and the sound shocked him back to reality.  His face remained distorted as he pressed himself into the rocks behind him.  Damon could feel his muscles spasm as he fought against the compulsion.  Pain radiated through his head as he forced himself further away from the door.  Movement caught his attention, making him remember that he wasn’t alone.

 

Stefan moved closer, his brow furrowed as he watched Damon struggle.  Damon could see surprise flicker across his face and his little brother made to lay a hand on his shoulder, but Damon hissed at him.  Touching would be a bad idea, he thought.  Having Stefan in the room was not helping matters.  He felt like a threat and Damon wanted to attack him, but that would definitely not help.  It would only aggravate him further and he’d bolt out the door and probably rip poor Jeremy’s throat out.  Quit thinking about that.

 

“Damon?” Stefan asked hesitantly.  The hiss was louder this time and had Stefan backing away.  Like prey.  The thought spread through him and he slowly advanced on the other.  Before Damon could even blink, Stefan was on the other side of the room, bolting the lock in place.

 

“I’ll be right back,” he heard him say.  With the threat gone, Damon once again flattened himself against the wall.

 

Elena

 

“Jeremy, what are you doing here?  It’s not safe,” Elena said.  Her brother had waltzed into the house like there wasn’t a crazed vampire after him.  What the hell was he thinking?

 

“I’m just here to see if anything’s changed.  How is he?” he asked.  Elena huffed and flopped down on the couch.

 

“I don’t know.  Stefan won’t let me see him,” she admitted.  They had been fighting all week and she couldn’t stand being around him anymore.  It doesn’t help that Rebekah made some dumbass comment about how Stefan had ‘learned some new moves’.  Yeah, real subtle of her, Elena thought.  She couldn’t believe Stefan slept with her.  She supposed she couldn’t blame him and it really wasn’t any of her business, but it still hurt nonetheless.  If it had been with anyone else, she wouldn’t have even cared (probably…maybe).  Fine, she still would’ve cared, but it doesn’t matter now anyway.  Elena still cared for Stefan, but her feelings for Damon had grown into something she had never felt before.  She was, without a doubt, in love with him.  Everyone kept blaming it on their sire bond, but Elena knew better.  She had loved Damon even as a human, but at the time, she couldn’t face it.  Yes, in those final moments, she had chosen Stefan, but it had been more out of fear than anything else.  Fear of letting go of a good thing and starting something new, of change basically.  Change had never been easy for her and it still wasn’t.  This change from human to vampire was the hardest of all.

 

It was obvious that Stefan couldn’t love her as a vampire, only a human.  She had said once that “you should be with the person who makes you glad you’re alive” and that most definitely wasn’t Stefan anymore.  She was something that needed to be fixed in his eyes.  But to be honest, Elena didn’t mind being a vampire now that her system had calmed down and she could handle the thirst.  Unlike Stefan, Damon loved her as is.  He loved her as a human and he seemed to love her even more now that she was a vampire.

 

“Why not?” Jeremy asked.

 

“Why not what?”  She had forgotten he was there.

 

“Why can’t you see him?”

 

Elena sighed.  “Supposedly because of the sire bond.  Stefan thinks Damon will ask me to let him out.  Of course, I would be compelled to do it,” she mumbled.  Jeremy only nodded and let the awkward silence fall.

 

Stefan came racing down the hall a few minutes later.  He stopped in the middle of the room and stared.

 

“Why are you here?” he asked, or yelled rather.  Jeremy raised a brow, standing at his threatening tone.

 

“I came to see how Damon was,” he said slowly.  Stefan scoffed, arms crossed.

 

“Not good.  He just tried to bite my head off.  You need to leave,” he ordered.  Jeremy went rigid.

 

“I don’t take orders from vampires,” he said, shifting on his feet.  Elena crossed over to him, but kept a safe distance.  Brother or not, she was never sure if he’d lose it and stake her.

 

“Jeremy, Stefan’s right.  I told you, it’s not safe here,” she says, keeping her voice calm.  He glanced at her, but eventually nodded.

 

“Fine, I’ll go.  Just call me if anything happens,” he said before stomping out of the house.  Yeah, still her little brother, she thought, as he slammed the door behind him.  It was quiet for a few long minutes before Stefan cleared his throat.

 

“I have a theory,” he said.  Elena sighed.  If he said ‘sire bond’ again, she was gonna punch him.  She forced a tight smile, motioning for him to continue.  He took a breath and shifted nervously on his feet.

 

“I think it would help if he saw you,” he said eventually.  Elena immediately perked up, her mood lifting.  Once the elation ran its course, suspicion set in.

 

“Why?” she asked.  He scowled and shoved his hands in his pockets.

 

“He was fighting for control and doing an almost decent job a few minutes ago.  He might fight harder if he sees you,” he answers, shrugging his shoulders.  “It’s just a theory.  It could still backfire.”

 

“I don’t care, I want to see him,” Elena said, going to walk by him.  He grabbed her arm and glared.

 

“If he so much as begins to ask you to free him, I’m pulling you out and you’re not allowed back,” he said, grip tight around her arm.  She pushed his hand off, but nodded.  Stefan led her to the basement, to that awful little room that still smelled of vervain.  That couldn’t be pleasant to live around.  Stefan waved her forward and she hesitantly walked up to the bars.  She peered into the dark room and couldn’t help but be shocked.  Damon’s face had transformed - fangs out, irises bright blue, the whites of his eyes a dark red.  He was paler than normal.  She knew the ‘Stefan diet’ couldn’t have been easy to adjust to.  Stefan literally only allowed himself two bags a day.  Elena didn’t know how he did it; she’d be starving if she even attempted that kind of diet.  She secretly thought Stefan was lying about it and feeding on the towns’ people.  Whatever, it wasn’t her business anymore.  She wrapped her fingers around the bars and leaned against the wooden door.

 

“Damon?” she called.  His head snapped up at the sound of her voice, fangs immediately retreating.  The eyes remained the same, but he was slowly relaxing his death grip on the stones of the wall.

 

“Elena?” he gasped.  His voice was all raspy and he sounded exhausted.  Elena pressed her face against the bars, wishing to be closer.

 

“Yeah, it’s me,” she said, a small smile on her lips.  Damon blurred and slammed against the door, wrapping his hands around hers, as she clutched the bars.  He stared at her for a minute before resting his forehead against the bars with a sigh.

 

“Where have you been?” he asked.  The question and the desperation in his tone surprised her and made her want to burst into tears.

 

“I – we – didn’t think it was a good idea,” she stuttered.  Damon’s brow furrowed and his hands tightened around hers.

 

“We?” he asked.

 

“Well, Stefan mostly, didn’t think it was a good idea,” she answered, earning a glare from the other man.  He was leaning against the wall beside the door, out of sight from Damon, but definitely not out of ear shot.  Elena ignored him, focusing on the blue irises that were burning into her.

 

“Figures,” he said, sighing.  The hands around hers were shaking and Damon closed his eyes, forcing back the fangs she could see begging to be freed.  She wiggled one of her hands free and reached through the bars, stroking his cheek.  His fangs once again disappeared and he leaned into her touch.

 

“I started to think you were avoiding me,” he said.  Elena traced the black lines under his eyes, hoping to make them disappear too.

 

“I wouldn’t do that,” she says.  He nods, resting his head against the bars again.

 

“Elena?  Can you-?”

 

“No,” Stefan interrupts.  Elena glared at him, but didn’t say anything.  Damon hissed the minute he heard him and backed away from the door.

 

“Damon, don’t.  Come back,” she pleaded, reaching her arm more through the bars.  She yelped and pulled her arm back out as he once again crashed into the door.  It was as if he couldn’t control his movements and Elena just wanted to hold him.  She knew what trying to fight compulsion felt like and couldn’t imagine doing it for an entire week.

 

“I’m sorry,” he whispers.  She immediately reaches back in and cups his face.  “I wasn’t going to ask you to do that.  You know that, right?” he asks.

 

“I know, baby, I know you wouldn’t,” she says, forcing herself not to cry.  She couldn’t stand seeing him like this – in pain and completely broken - it just wasn’t who he was.

 

“I – just,” he started.  His eyes flicked to something behind her a few times before she followed it.  The freezer.  He was thirsty, of course he was.  How could she not realize that?

 

“Of course,” she said.  She opened the lid and grabbed a bag of O positive, his favorite.  Elena uncapped it for him and handed it through the bars, concern creeping up on her as his fangs flashed out.  She’d never seen them come out that fast.  As she glanced at Stefan, she caught the guilty expression on his face.  Good, she thought, he should feel guilty.  When she looked back into the cell, Damon was finishing already and this time didn’t slam into the door when he returned.  The sapphire hue his irises had become had faded to his natural gray-blue, the black veins underneath once again receding.  He reached a hand through the bars, making Stefan tense.  Elena didn’t hesitate to reach for him as well.  Damon ran his fingers through her hair and gave a small smile.

 

“I missed you,” he whispers.  Elena smushed her face against the bars and gently pressed her lips to his.  The wood between them creaked with the pressure as they leaned against it.  Stefan cleared his throat obnoxiously.  Elena slowly pulled away, not bothering with a glare.  Instead, she refocused on the blue eyed beauty in front of her.

 

“We’re working on a plan,” she said.  Damon raised a brow at her.  She missed that.

 

“What kind of plan?” he asked.  Elena took a breath, knowing what his reaction was going to be.

 

“Jeremy is going to kill Kol,” she answered, biting her lip after it was said.  Damon’s eyes widened and he only stared at her.  “But we’re all going to help him.  We’ll take Kol down and then Jeremy can stake him,” she rushed on.  She sighed as his expression worsened.

 

“Are you insane?” he asked.

 

“No, I’ve thought this through, Damon.  You trained him for weeks and I think he’s ready.  Plus, he’ll have 3 vampires and a witch to back him up.  Tyler said he would help too.  This is going to work, I promise,” she said.  Damon sighed and frowned at her.

 

“I highly doubt Jeremy is ready to take on an Original.  He couldn’t even take me on...” he said, voice trailing off.  “But if I told you not to go through with this, what would you say?” he asked.

 

“I’d say I was going to do it anyway.”

 

“And if I said please and begged you not to?” he asked.  Elena wanted to roll her eyes, but didn’t.

 

“Why don’t you think we can handle this?” she asked.

 

“Because you can’t!” he yelled.  Elena backed away at his tone and crossed her arms.  The minute their hands parted, Damon’s eyes flicked back to sapphire.  She watched, confused, as an emotion she couldn’t place washed over him.  Whatever it was, she had never seen it up close before.  As the feeling grew, so did his scent.  Elena couldn’t help breathing it in, it drawing her closer on instinct.  Her sense of smell was one thing she absolutely loved now that she was a vampire.  Everyone had different scents that either repulsed her or drew her closer.  They were things a human would never be able to notice, masked by colognes and perfumes, riding on a supernatural wave length.  As a human, Damon always smelled of some fiery cologne and leather to her.  But now, now he smelled of mouthwatering dark chocolate, sweet peppermint, and a slight hint of coconut.  Elena had to shake her head to refocus.

 

“Damon we’re going to do this.  I’m not leaving you in here,” she said.

 

“That’s just it, Elena!  I’m stuck in here and I won’t be able to protect you!”

 

“I can protect myself, Damon,” she answered, trying to keep her voice calm.  He sighed and pressed his forehead to the bars again.

 

“Not if you’re trying to protect Jeremy at the same time,” he said.  “I know you, Elena.  You’re going to be trying to protect everyone and it will only get you killed.”

 

“What do you expect me to do?  I’m not going to just sit around and watch our friends die.  And I am definitely not going to sit here and watch you die in this cell!” she yelled.  That unknown expression crossed over his face again and made her step closer.  She did not like whatever it was and it was making her nervous.  Damon didn’t say anything.  “What?” she asked.  Her tone was gentler as she watched the blue finally fade from his eyes.

 

“I know you won’t just sit back while shit goes down.  You never do.  But, damn it, Elena you’re always trying to protect everyone except yourself!” he yelled.  Elena sighed.  She didn’t know what he wanted her to say.  She wanted to reassure him that everything would be fine, but at the same time she was getting impatient.  They needed to get this done and fast.  She glanced at Stefan, hoping he’d have an easy answer or something, but he wasn’t paying attention to her.  Instead, he had shifted so he could peer into the cell.  While she had been lost in thought, Damon had backed away into the center of his tiny room.  His face was once again transformed and he stood with his arms crossed, glaring at the door.

 

“Damon, what’s wrong?” she asked.  He hissed at her.  She would’ve been offended, but the sound was off somehow; not laced with the usual anger.  Even from here, she could see the spasms that suddenly wracked his body.

 

“Did you see that?” Stefan asked.  Elena nodded.

 

“What’s happening to him?  It’s not just the compulsion, is it?” she asked quietly.

 

“No, it isn’t,” he answered.  “But I have an idea,” he continued with a sigh.  He glanced down at her in annoyance.  What the hell was that for?  “Step out of sight.  I want to see something,” he said.  She glared at him, but did as he said.  The second she was out of Damon’s sight, the hiss grew slightly louder.  She glanced at the door in surprise.  “Now slowly keep walking back until you reach the other door,” Stefan ordered.  She didn’t like whatever his idea was.  The sound coming from the cell was making her extremely uncomfortable.  Elena couldn’t differentiate vampire sounds yet and without seeing his face, she had no idea what was going on.  She knew what her own sounds meant obviously, but not others’.

 

“Elena just do it, I think I know what’s happening,” Stefan said, not taking his eyes off Damon.  With every step away she took, the hissing amplified, echoing around the basement by the time she reached the other door.

 

“Maybe it’s you, Stefan,” she yelled over the noise.  Stefan glanced at her then nodded as he ran to her side.  The noise didn’t grow or lessen.  Guess he wasn’t the problem.

 

“What should we do?” she asked.  Stefan laid a hand on her arm, about to shuffle her out of the basement.  When they made contact, the hissing abruptly stopped, leaving Elena’s ears ringing.  Stefan’s brow furrowed and he quickly retracted his hand.  They listened for a few minutes, but heard nothing.  Elena couldn’t even concentrate on listening, however.  Her heart was racing as pain shot through her head.  It came in small waves, each one more powerful than the last.

 

“Stefan, something’s wrong,” she said.  Her voice came out raspy and she found it hard to catch her breath.  He turned her face towards him and frowned.

 

“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” he sighed.  Before she could even think of a response, he was dragging her back towards the cell door, motioning for her to look in.  Damon was sitting against the back wall, head in his hands, breath coming way too fast for a vampire.  This wasn’t normal.  Vampires didn’t get sick, weren’t plagued with physical problems.  She looked to Stefan, panic rising in her chest and tears welling up in her eyes.  He seemed annoyed yet interested at the same time as he watched her.

 

“What exactly are you feeling right now?” he asked her.  “Angry?  Hungry?”

 

Elena shook her head.  “I’m afraid,” she whispers, the tears escaping.  Surprise flickers across his face.  He looks at Damon, but continues to speak to her.

 

“Why?  What are you afraid of?” he asks.  The annoyance has disappeared, leaving only curiosity in his tone.  She wasn’t sure how to answer that.

 

“I – I don't know.  It feels like,” she paused, trying to sort it out.  “It feels like something is missing.  Like I’ve lost something…or going to?” she asked, more to herself.  As she sorted through the new feelings, it made even less sense.  “But I haven’t lost anything, have I?”

 

As her own words sunk in, the pounding in her head decreased slightly and her nerves calmed.  Something in her heart gave a weird tug, making her look back into the cell.  Damon was standing again, but he was pacing the small room.  Realization hit her.

 

“It’s not me, is it?” she asked.  “These aren’t my feelings,” she whispers.  Stefan shakes his head.  “How?” she asks.

 

“It’s the sire bond,” he answers.  She immediately glared once the words left his mouth, but he only returned the look.  “I’m not saying that as an excuse.  It’s just fact.  There are three types of sire bonds.  The first is when only the vampire has a deep connection to the one they’re turning, the second happens when only the turned has a connection, and the third is a mutual connection,” he says, looking away.  “Your bond is the third kind, obviously.  This means you both are connected to each other, making the bond stronger than usual.  You will feel what the other feels, know when the other is in danger, and in rare cases have a telepathic connection,” he grumbles.  Elena crosses her arms and looks him over.

 

“How do you know all of this?” she asks.  He glares at her, that cold stare she received before, when he said he wasn’t in love with her.

 

“Rebekah told me,” he answers.  Oh, good, Elena thinks.  Awesome.  Before she could respond (with something rude, because really? Rebekah?  Ugh), her heart gave another lurch, the headache returning.  This was ridiculous.  Damon was – she didn’t know – freaking out?  Spiraling?  Whatever it was, she wanted to fix it, and now.  She reached for the door, unbolting the lock.

 

“Elena-,” Stefan started, grabbing her arm.

 

“Don’t, Stefan,” she interrupted.  Blood rushed into her eyes unwillingly and he released her.  She opened the door and didn’t comment when he followed her inside, guarding the door.  Crossing the small room, the uneasy feelings began to lessen as she got closer to Damon, who hadn’t seemed to notice them enter.  She placed a hand on his arm, stopping his pacing.  Touching was a bad idea…

 

Stefan

 

It happened so fast, Stefan couldn’t react in time.  He knew he shouldn’t have let Elena into the cell, but that look in her eyes had hurt.  She had never purposefully flashed fangs at him before now.  He really didn’t think he deserved that shit.  Elena had slept with his brother, the one person who was supposed to have his back no matter what.  The one person that Stefan, deep down, had always trusted no matter what Damon did.  Everything was different now.  Elena reminded him too much of Katherine now that she was a vampire and he hated it.  He didn’t hate her because that was impossible, but every time her eyes changed or her fangs came out, for a split second he would think she was Katherine.  The love he had felt for Elena, slowly died as her life slipped away in that lake.

 

Stefan watched as Elena touched Damon’s arm to get his attention.  The reaction wasn’t what he expected.  The sound Damon made ricocheted off the walls, making Stefan cover his ears in pain.  He had never heard a vampire make that sound in his entire life.  He recognized the intent and emotions behind it, but never had it been as loud or echoed as if multiple vampires were hissing.  It was the sound a vampire makes when cornered, when they were panicking.  Stefan will admit that maybe the diet he had Damon on wasn’t the best idea in the world.  He had been feeding him two bags of animal blood for an entire week, wanting to know how Damon replied to the change.  So…maybe he should have warned him or something because this was bad.

 

The two lovers blurred in front of him as Damon rushed at Elena and pinned her to the wall.  He held her there, fingers around her throat, fangs protruding.  Stefan acted fast, pulling him away, only for him to be ripped out of his hold by Elena.  She pinned him to the same place on the wall, holding him at the arms.

 

“Damon, it’s me, you’re okay,” she said, soothingly.  Soothingly.  Like he hadn’t been about to rip her throat out.  Instead of attacking, like Stefan expected, Damon slumped against the wall, folding under her touch.  Stefan stood by awkwardly as Elena embraced him.

 

“Elena…”Damon whispered.  He was so gentle with her; they were gentle with each other.  Stefan was surprised really.  He always thought their relationship would be kind of like a whirlwind.  Damon traced his fingertips over Elena’s neck, a questioning look on his face.  Elena nodded and brushed her hair to the side, pulling the man even closer.  They weren’t about to… Stefan turned away, not wanting to see it.  Unfortunately, he could still hear it though.  The slice of Damon’s fangs as they pierced her skin, the smell of blood rushing into his mouth.  Stefan has never drank from another vampire before, but knew what it was supposed to mean.  They were a mated pair now, nothing short of death was going to break them apart.  By the sounds they were making behind him, it wasn’t the first time either.  Another minute passed before Stefan heard the sound of skin being broken again as Elena began feeding as well.

 

This is so unbearably awkward, Stefan thinks and promptly tries to block out the obscene noises they were making.  The moment he closed his eyes, a vision of sweeping blonde hair and the memory of sweet laughter echoed through his mind.  I wonder what it would be like to sink my teeth into her porcelain skin…

 

Stefan’s eyes shot open at the thought.  The fuck was that? No, he did not want to drink from Rebekah.  She was cruel, unstable, impulsive, stubborn, and this thing between them was just sex, that’s it.  Really good sex, he thinks.  But he can’t help but think back on the moments after they were finished, when unexpectedly she had wrapped her arms around him and fell asleep.  Stefan had been prepared to leave right after, not wanting to stay and bond.  He had initially gently pushed her away and stood to dress and ditch, when she said “For fucks sake, you’re such a grouch Stefan”.  The statement had made him laugh because it was so unexpected coming from her.  Well, not the insult, but the amusement behind it; as was the pout he caught before she rolled over, pulling the blankets around her.  He had stood and watched as she slowly drifted to sleep.  Rebekah looked completely different that way; gentle, fragile almost.  Before he could talk himself out of it, he had climbed back in and casually laid an arm over her, falling asleep within minutes.  Stefan had been rudely awakened the next morning when Rebekah rolled over and pushed him out of the bed, saying “Way to be clingy, Stefan” and then giggled.

 

She giggles, he thinks to himself.  It had startled another laugh out of him and he she had chased him out of the house.  Literally chased, he remembers.  It had been fun, the night and the morning after…which…was just – weird.  Stefan shook the thoughts away, really not wanting to analyze it further and was thankful that the only sounds in the room now were quiet mumblings.  No more feeding, no more…just don’t think about it.  As he focused, he caught the edges of their conversation.

 

“…should stay here,” Damon was saying.

 

“In here?”

 

“Yes.  Let the others handle this.  Stay here with me.”

 

Stefan glanced behind him.  Elena had her hands resting on his shoulders and his were around her waist, on the small of her back.  Ugh, whatever.  She turned to look at him, a blush creeping up her neck as she realized he was still there.  He nodded awkwardly.  I really wish I wasn’t here right now, he thought.  Elena looked back to Damon, but his brother was now glaring at him.  Well, he wasn’t just gonna let Elena in here without back up.  Although, now he seriously wished he had.  Elena slowly pulled out of their embrace, crossing over to him.

 

“If I stay here, can you promise me that you will keep Jeremy safe?” she asks.

 

“Elena, I really don’t think-”

 

Promise me, Stefan,” she cut him off.  Stefan sighed.  If she wasn’t going to listen then fuck it.  If Damon demanded to be let out and then killed Jeremy, then it was on her.

 

“Fine, I promise,” he said.  She nodded and returned to her place in his brother’s arms.  Not wanting to watch any further, Stefan bolted out of the door and fled upstairs.  Though he absolutely hated his brother right now, he couldn’t help but be a little worried.  Stefan hasn’t seen him this needy since the whole Katherine debacle.  The only difference this time was that the girl he loved actually gave a fuck.  Stefan just wished it had been a different girl…Rebekah maybe.  They had a fling once right?  But Damon had just been using her, which ended with Rebekah torturing him.  Besides, that relationship would be completely unstable, more so than himself with Rebekah.  Which I am not – with her that is, he thinks.

 

As he’s walking into the den, the front door bursts open and Jeremy comes running in.

 

“Stefan, look out!” he shouts.  Jeremy drops and rolls as a bolt of lightning crashes through the house, exploding into the wall behind him.  The boy pops up in front of him, stake raised, senses on high alert.  What the fuck?  His new hunter senses are supposed to make him want to kill all vampires, not protect them, Stefan thinks and then shoves the kid behind him as another lightning bolt strikes, catching fire to the porch.

 

“What’s happening?” he shouts over the thunder.

 

“She’s fucking lost it!” Jeremy shouts, pulling a gun along with his stake.  Stefan turns around just in time to see a dark-skinned brunette walk through the wall of flames.

 

“Bonnie?!”

 

“Move, Stefan,” she says.  Her voice echoes around the house, a thousand others joining it.  Bonnie’s eyes are shining a bright golden hue as she advances on them.

 

“Jeremy, what’s wrong with her?” Stefan asks.

 

“I don’t know, man.  I was fighting goddamned vampires when she came out of nowhere.  She was helping me at first, but now she’s turned on me,” he rushes, then pushes Stefan to the floor shouting, “Get down!”

 

Bonnie raises a hand and another flash erupts, striking the middle of the floor.

 

“Give me the boy,” Bonnie (yet not Bonnie) demands.  Stefan is about to rush Jeremy out of the room, when the windows to his right blow out, showering them with glass.  Stefan peers through the glittering shower to find a figure standing in the new opening.  Bonnie glares at the silhouetted figure.

 

“You’re a persistent one, aren’t you?” she asks.  They ask? Stefan has no idea.

 

“Well, I don’t particularly forget it when someone tries to kill me,” the man says.  Stefan sighed, whether out of relief or dread he couldn’t say.  The new addition in the window was Klaus.  Of course he would have something to do with this.

 

“I didn’t try to kill you.  I merely stole some of your blood,” Bonnie answers.

 

“Either way, I feel it would be appropriate to kill you now,” he says.  Klaus’ faces alters, his two sets of fangs appearing and his irises turning gold with black lines.  Stefan tensed, wondering if he should save Bonnie’s life, leaving Jeremy unprotected and consequently fighting Klaus.  Before he could even finish his thought, someone flies through the open window, tackling Klaus to the ground.

 

“Now, now, brother, we need her alive, remember?”

 

Everyone in the room freezes.

 

“Elijah?” Stefan asks.  The guy had been MIA for the past 6 months, seemingly not wanting to deal with his siblings anymore.  Klaus struggles beneath him, but Elijah keeps him pinned with ease.

 

“Hello again, Stefan.  You may want to move away from the boy,” he says casually.  Stefan’s brow furrows as he catches movement out of the corner of his eye.  He blurs to the other side of the room before the stake catches him.  Jeremy is completely focused, stance readied to fight, eyes moving from vampire to vampire.

 

“Which one would like to die first?” he asks.  A loud clap of thunder explodes around them and Jeremy is suddenly restrained by an invisible force up against the wall.

 

“I don’t think so.  We will not let you become a monster,” Bonnie’s voices say.  Stefan had almost forgotten about her.  Of course, at that moment, Elena picks the perfect moment to come running up the stairs.  He really hopes she remembered to lock the door on her way out.  The room was getting a bit crowded in his opinion.

 

“Bonnie, what are you doing?!” she yells.

 

“Miss Bonnie is not here right now.  She was not doing what nature wanted, so we stepped in,” Bonnie (?) answers.  Though Stefan was focused on her, no one could miss the blur that speeds in from the window and whizzes by Elena.

 

“Who was that?” Elijah asks.  A familiar hiss reverberates through the room right before the blurred shape returns.

 

“Oh, good, we’re all here,” the man says, grinning.  Fuck.  Fucking Kol.  Where were they all fucking coming from?  Did Stefan miss an announcement or something?  The vampire snaps his fingers and a dark shape rushes passed Elena, ripping Jeremy off of the wall and hurling him to the floor.  Thunder crackled as Bonnie tried to regain control, but Kol quickly shoves her into the closest wall, promptly knocker her unconscious.  Well, that solved one problem, Stefan thinks.

 

“Damon, stop!” Elena shouts.  She rushes to push him off of her brother, but Kol easily grabs her arm, swinging her into a wall.  The wall clearly wasn’t very sturdy because it crumbled with the impact, Elena landing in a heap of debris.  With Kol distracted, Stefan pounces on Damon, grabbing him by the shoulders to hurl him off.  His brother moves with great speed, controlled by Kol’s compulsion and spins Stefan around, breaking his arm as he pins him to the floor.  Stefan cries out, but the pressure suddenly subsides when someone pulls his brother off.  He looks up to find a wave of blonde locks and light blue eyes struggling with Damon.  The older vampire quickly wins the battle, holding Damon down by perching on his back.  Rebekah glances at him and he nods a thank you as his arm resets itself.  She just saved his life.  He won’t forget it.

 

A strangled gasp comes from behind him.  He turns to find Jeremy impaling a stake into Kol’s back.  The vampire’s face is contorted in pain and shock as the hunter shoves it in deeper, finding the heart.  The wound bursts into flames, but the oak stake remains intact.

 

“No!” Klaus shouts and attacks the boy.  The vampire shoves hard, sending Jeremy crashing into the fireplace.  Stefan hears bone cracking as the boy’s neck collides with the edge of the mantle.  As he falls to the floor, light catches on the metal ring on his left hand.  Stefan sighs in relief.  Rebekah hurries passed him to kneel by her fallen brother.  She rips the stake out of his back as tears fall from her azure irises. Stefan stands back, not knowing whether to comfort her or not.  Just as he begins to think the battle is over, lightning crackles and thunder pounds as Bonnie is lifted from the floor by her magic.  Golden light surrounds her and her eyes are even brighter than before.

 

“Rebekah, get back!” Elijah shouts.  Stefan doesn’t hesitate to enter into the swirling vortex of light to grab Rebekah around the waist and haul her to safety.  He holds her up against the wall as she cries softly.  She looks at him, face streaked with mascara and he can’t help but pull her closer.  He’s about to pull her completely into his arms, when the lights begin to flicker.

 

“You all shall die,” the witches’ inside Bonnie say.  Rebekah is a mess in his arms and she clearly isn’t going to be any more help in this fight.  Stefan is considering placing her on the nearby floor, when Elijah appears at his side.  He reaches a hand out and Stefan transfers the girl to her brother.  Elijah nods a thank you and Stefan turns to face Bonnie.  What the fuck was he supposed to do about this?  None of them had any power over witches.  Klaus approaches the witch, fangs out, ready to pounce.

 

“Don’t kill her.  We need her for the spell,” Stefan shouts over the pulsing magic.  He doesn’t know if Klaus either couldn’t hear him or chooses to ignore the statement because the vampire charges at full force.  Before he even got within five feet of the witch, she waves a hand, stopping him mid-run.  Moving faster than possible (Stefan has never seen a witch do that before), Bonnie crowds him against the wall and places a hand against his chest.  Klaus screams in agony, the rest of the room not understanding what’s happening.  Stefan is about to try and stop her because – hello, if Klaus dies they all die – but a mane of blonde curls comes rushing in from outside, once again throwing Bonnie into a wall and knocking her unconscious.  Stefan really hoped she stayed down this time.  Stefan raises an eyebrow at the vampire, impressed with her bravery.

 

Caroline huffs and glares down at her friend.  A man walks in hesitantly after her and the blonde snaps her fingers at him.

 

“You, fix this,” she says, pointing at Bonnie.  Stefan glares as Professor Atticus Shane rouses Bonnie.  Damn it, Stefan thinks, she was just stopped, don’t wake her up.  Another man clomps up onto the porch and quickly runs to Caroline’s side.  Tyler, of course.  Okay, Stefan thinks, is there some neon sign on his house saying “All creatures welcome”?  Seriously, what the fuck is going on?  Tyler fusses over Caroline, checking for injuries, but she brushes his hands away.

 

“Help me move him,” she says, gesturing towards Klaus.

 

“Seriously?” Tyler grumbles, but does as she asks.  Together, they easily lift the unconscious hybrid and lay him on a nearby couch.  Aweome, Klaus is snoozing on my couch, Stefan thinks.  Stefan refocuses on the corner, where the Professor has finally woken the sleeping witch.  He’s whispering to her, but whispering in a room full of vampires is utterly useless.

 

“Bonnie, look at me.  You are in complete control,” he says.  Bonnie’s eyes flicker between dark brown and golden as Shane calms her.  “You are in complete control, Bonnie,” he repeats.  Bonnie blinks a few times.

 

“I am in control,” she says.  Her voice sent a shudder up his spine with the lack of emotion.  Witches were supposed to be balanced, not out of control like this.  Stefan looks around at his den, taking in the damage.  Front door busted in, porch was still on fire, windows smashed in, one of the walls destroyed, blood covered the floors.  It was all vampire blood, naturally.  Jeremy and the Professor were literally the only humans in the room.  The Professor has Bonnie cradled in his arms and as he stands, he finally notices everyone staring at them.

 

“Um…,” he mumbles, glancing at the witch in his arms.  He shrugs and peers around the room.  “Training exercise gone awry,” he says.  Stefan stares.  Was he fucking serious?  He’s about to ask just that, when Damon comes to stand at his side, glaring at the professor.

 

“What the hell were you teaching her?  How to commit mass murder?” he asks.  Shane stands straighter and his gaze travels around the room.

 

“Well if I had, she didn’t do a very good job, did she?  I see only one death came out of this and I really couldn’t care less.  We got what we came for,” he says and then skedaddles right out the door, side stepping around the flames.

 

“What the hell did that mean?” Damon asks.  Before anyone can give an answer, Damon’s head snaps up and he quickly scans the room.  His eyes land on the pile of stone and plaster across the room and he blurs out of sight.  Damon begins sifting through the pile and Stefan is about to help, when he hears Jeremy groan and twitch on the floor.  Stefan quickly crosses over to him.

 

“Jeremy, you alright?” he asks.  The kid’s eyes flutter open, eventually focusing on Stefan and he nods.  Stefan hauls him to his feet and is instantly on alert, remembering the other vampires in the room.  He turns his back to Jeremy (sincerely hoping the boy doesn’t have any more stakes) to face the rest of the Originals.  Elijah and Rebekah are huddled in a far corner, Elijah stroking her silky locks.  Klaus had at some point woken up and was sitting passively on the couch.  Caroline hovered beside him while her hybrid boyfriend stood across the room and glared at them.  Surprisingly, none of them seemed to want to attack the hunter again, so Stefan relaxed slightly.

 

“Where’s Elena?” Jeremy asks.  Damn it, Stefan forgot again.  He peered into the other room, just as Damon lifted a large stone, uncovering a bloody brunette.  Stefan pushed Jeremy into the nearest chair, not wanting him to see anything.  Stefan’s heart was racing as Damon knelt by Elena’s side.

 

“Elena, can you hear me?” Damon asks.  She doesn’t respond.  Stefan can hear a heartbeat from here, but it’s faint.  Damon gently lifts the girl so that she’s propped up against his chest.

 

“Come on, Elena, open your eyes baby,” Damon whispers.  He bites into his wrist and presses the wound against Elena’s parted lips.  After a minute or two, she finally begins to stir, fangs latching on as Damon feeds her.  Stefan looks away, not wishing to witness the intimate scene again.  He begins pacing the room, glass crunching under his boots.  A gentle hand lands on his shoulder, stopping him.  Looking down, he follows the soft skin that’s reached out to him, which leads him to a sad but beautiful face.

 

“Thank you.  For saving me,” Rebekah says.  Stefan shrugs.

 

“Just returning the favor,” he answers.  A tiny smile plays at her supple lips and he can’t resist the urge to pull her closer.  She rests her head against his shoulder, relaxing into the embrace.

 

“I’m sorry,” Stefan whispers into her hair.

 

“It’s not your fault, Stefan,” she sighs.  Stefan can’t bear to tell her that he was in on the plan.  How could she forgive him for that?  Would she ever forgive him?  He riffles his fingers through her hair, not knowing what else to do.

 

“Damon, put me down, I’m fine,” Elena says.  His brother ignores her demand and carries the brunette into the room, gently placing her on the other couch.  She starts to sit up, but Damon sits down, barricading her in.

 

“Just relax,” he says, pushing her back down.  Elena rolls her eyes at him, but there’s a tiny smile on her lips.  Rebekah pulls out of Stefan’s embrace and joins her siblings near the sofa.

 

“What do we do now?” she asks.  Klaus remains silent, glaring at the carpet.  He flinches slightly as Caroline hesitantly rests a hand on his shoulder.  Stefan had never seen him so out of it before.  It was unsettling, to say the least.  Elijah grips his brother’s shoulder and clears his throat.

 

“I’m guessing the witch’s mentor is the Professor?” he asks.  Everyone nods.  “Does he have everything needed for the ritual?”

 

“No, I have the tombstone,” Rebekah says.  Klaus glances at her briefly, not completely meeting her eyes.

 

“The stone is gone.  The witch stole it,” he says.

 

“How?!” Rebekah shrieks.

 

“Because I stole it from your room, dear sister,” he says.  That earns him a scoff from the blonde and she moves away from him.

 

“How did the witch get it from you?” she asks.  Klaus sighs and stands to his full height.

 

“Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, Bonnie has completely lost her mind.  The good Professor has taught her the art of Expression.  Not something such a young witch should know, in my opinion,” Klaus says.

 

Elijah comes between his fighting siblings and glares at them both.  Stefan is surprised to see them both back down.

 

“Jeremy,” Elijah calls.  The hunter freezes, gripping the arms of his chair.  “Did Bonnie do anything when you were pinned to the wall?” he asks.  Jeremy looks away, but relaxes slightly.  He stands, rolls up his left sleeve and presents his arm to the group.  There’s a long gash along his forearm that is just beginning to close, the essence of magic lingering around the wound.  Elijah curses and slouches slightly.  “Bonnie and the Professor are going after the cure themselves,” he says.

 

“Wait, but I thought they needed the actual hunter, aka Jeremy, for the ritual to work?” Damon asks.

 

“No, once the hunter has completed his mark, the ritual only requires some of his blood; among other things, of course.  But no, Jeremy’s presence to raise Silas and obtain the cure is not needed.  But if we ever want to cage Silas again, Jeremy must be there,” Elijah explains.  Stefan doesn’t know how he does it.  The guy is gone for months and yet he still somehow knows more about their situation than they do.

 

“Do you know anything about Silas?” Stefan asks.  Elijah frowns and nods.

 

“I know enough and trust me, you do not want him to be freed,” he says.  Everyone exchanges nervous looks, knowing that the Professor’s plan is more for Silas than the cure.

 

“Is there a way to get the cure without raising Silas?” Stefan asks.

 

“Unfortunately not.  Therefore those who choose to go through with this plan must think hard about it.  If you truly want the cure, it does not come without risks.  The cure is complicated and is only given to those Silas deems worthy,” Elijah says.

 

“How does he choose?” Elena asks.

 

“I do not know who he deems worthy of mortality and who he does not.  May I remind you that this is all a legend?  No one has ever attempted to break Silas free before now,” he says.  “What does the Professor want with the cure?  He is human, yes?” he asks.

 

“Yes, he’s human.  We’re not sure if he wants the cure at all.  What he wants is to raise Silas.  Supposedly out of genuine curiosity after years of research,” Stefan answers.

 

“He’s going to raise a thousand year old witch out of curiosity?” Elijah asks, an eyebrow raised.  Stefan shrugs.  “Right, well we can ponder that later.  Does he know where Silas is buried?”  he asks.  More shrugs.  Elijah rolls his eyes, exasperated with the youths in the room.  “Do any of you know where he is buried?”

 

Everyone looks around at each other, uttering quiet ‘no’s’ or shaking their heads.

 

“Then to answer my sister’s previous question, what we do now is find his burial grounds.  Preferably before Bonnie and the Professor.  Now, I would like to suggest we work together on this, but I’m going to assume that’d be difficult?” Elijah asks.  No one says anything and the man nods.  “Right, well we will eventually have to come together at some point, but for now we should spread out, look for information either individually or in groups.  Your choice,” he says, then shuffles his sister towards the opening where the window used to be.  He looks back into the room at his little brother.  “Will you be joining us, Klaus?”

 

“I work far better on my own, thanks,” he says and then blurs out the front door.  Elijah scowls, but continues to usher his sister from the room.  The girl looks back, making eye contact with Stefan.  Her brother doesn’t fail to notice.

 

“Don’t worry.  We should all meet back here by midnight.  Of course if any of you find it and choose to go after it alone, I’ll understand.  Though you should realize that if that path is chosen, you’ll have multiple vampires hunting you down,” he says.  Elijah gives a tight smile to the room before the two of them speed out the window.  Elena stands from the sofa, Damon not protesting this time.

 

“We’ll find it faster if we split up into groups,” she says and laces her fingers through Damon’s.  Caroline and Tyler are avoiding eye contact, but they’ll obviously be searching together.  Before the blonde and her hybrid boyfriend leave through the front door, she turns and glances at the other four.

 

“You want to come with us, Stefan?” she asks.  Stefan looks up, surprised.  He’s relieved at the offer, but covers it with a shrug before following them.  Jeremy gives him a nod as he passes.  Stefan doesn’t spare a glance to his brother or ex-girlfriend.

 

Caroline

 

As she side stepped the still burning flames on the Salvatore porch, Caroline peered at Tyler, who was still ignoring her.  This was ridiculous.  She only saved Klaus because if he dies, they all die.  That’s all it was.  She wished Tyler would get over his jealousy issues already.  There was nothing between her and Klaus.  Nothing.

 

“Where do we even look for something like this?” Tyler asks.  Stefan joins them as they walk down the path to her car.

 

“One of your mothers could actually help with this.  There’s an underground section to the Mystic Falls Library where they keep records of the supernatural.  There might be something there about Silas,” he says.  Both Caroline and Tyler sigh, not wanting to deal with either the Sheriff or the Mayor.

 

“Is that our only option?” Caroline whines.  Seriously, dealing with her mother after the day she’d had was the last thing she wanted.  Stefan chuckles at her tone.

 

“It’s our best option at the moment,” he says.  Caroline slumps down into the driver’s seat of her Ford Fiesta and orders her passengers to buckle up.  The boys scoff at her, but she believes in safety first, even for supernatural creatures.

 

“Do we need both moms in on this?” Tyler asks.

 

“It would be helpful, yes.  The Sheriff is the only one with a key and the Mayor can keep the remaining council families calm while vampires snoop through their stuff,” Stefan says, a smile plastered on his face.  Tyler rolls his eyes and crosses his arms, but doesn’t argue.  “We should tell the Mayor first,” he adds.  Caroline would laugh at Tyler’s expression, if she didn’t know exactly what he was feeling.  Caroline wasn’t as naïve as everyone believed her to be.  She knew about the vervain stash her mother keeps and the secret conversations she has with the council.  Caroline hadn’t felt safe in her own home for a long time now and she guessed Tyler had felt the same ever since he became a werewolf.

 

She pulled her car up to the Lockwood mansion a few minutes later, awkward silence falling around them as she shut off the engine.  The Mayor’s car was in the driveway, parked half on the pavement and half on the grass, as per usual after a long night out.  Tyler scowls at it, not moving from his seat.  Stefan pats him on the shoulder before exiting the vehicle.  He waits patiently, leaning against the car door.

 

“Ready whenever you are,” Caroline says.  Tyler nods, still avoiding eye contact and climbs out.  Caroline sighs, once again frustrated with his silence.  As Tyler unlocks the door and steps inside, Caroline bumps into him when he freezes in the doorway.

 

“Tyler, what’s wrong?” she asks, trying to peer over his shoulder.  A strong whiff of booze crosses over them, making both Stefan and Caroline wrinkle their noses.  Tyler sighs and strolls into the house.  Caroline grimaces as she takes in the shattered remains of a bottle surrounding a broken picture frame.  The photo lying under the shards is of Mr. and Mrs. Lockwood on the night of the Halloween Dance.  Tyler glares at the mess, but doesn’t go near it.  Caroline can hear soft breathing coming from the living room, where Carol has passed out on the couch.  Though she’s clearly in a drunken slumber, no one would know it by looking at her.  Her pant suit was in perfect condition and her pearls still sat neatly in place, as if she had just decided to lay down for a quick nap.  Tyler approaches slowly, motioning for them to stay in the parlor.

 

“Mom?” he calls, shaking her shoulder.  She grumbles in her sleep, but doesn’t rouse until Tyler shakes her harder.  Carol startles awake, slapping her sons hands away.  As she focuses on the room, she glares at him as she staggers to her feet.

 

“Where were you all night?” she asks.

 

“There was just stuff I had to take care of,” Tyler answers.  His mother rolls her eyes and stumbles towards the coffee pot in the corner.

 

“More Alpha stuff?” she asks.

 

“No, I told you, I’m not an Alpha anymore,” he mumbles.  Carol nods, clearly not listening to a word he’s saying.  Tyler takes a breath and crosses his arms.  “That’s not why we’re here.  We need your help with something,” he says.  The woman twirls around, coffee mug in hand and frown in place.

 

“We?” she asks.  Tyler motions them forward and Caroline gives an awkward wave.  She really does not like this woman, but she wasn’t going to be rude.  Stefan only nods, still quiet.  Why the hell was everyone so quiet today?

 

“Yes, we need your help with the council,” Tyler says.  Carol sighs and turns away to add cream and sugar to her mug.

 

“Which one of you killed someone now?” she asks.  Caroline glares at her back and Stefan raises a surprised brow.  Tyler only grimaces and clenches his jaw.  Stefan moves forward a bit to address her.

 

“We don’t need that kind of help Mayor Lockwood,” Stefan says, polite as ever.  The woman spins around again, stirring her coffee.  She glances at Stefan and glares at Caroline before turning back to her son.

 

“You remember I told you I was done covering for you people, right?” Carol asks, sipping neatly from her mug.  Tyler looks away, shoulders tense and jaw clenched tighter than before.  Caroline could tell he was holding back from yelling at her.  She had witnessed a few epic fights between them and it always made her want to punch Carol in her perfect white teeth.  She gently rubbed a hand down his back, eliciting an even deeper glare from the other woman.  Stefan cleared his throat, gaining Carol’s attention.

 

“I understand your reluctance in working with us, but we’re only looking for information, Mrs. Lockwood.  We were hoping to gain access to the underground library,” he says.  Carol scowls at him, swirling her coffee around.

 

“How do you know about that?” she asks.  Caroline rolls her eyes.  Dumb question, she thinks.

 

“My family is a founding family, you know.  I know most of the town’s secrets because I was there when they were created and hidden,” he answers.  Carol nods, again sipping at her coffee.

 

“So, you want me to convince the council to let vampires have access to our archives?” she asks, a smug smile at her lips.

 

“Yes, that’s what we’re asking.  The information we’re looking for will keep a lot of people safe,” he says.

 

“Safe from what?” she asks.  Tyler glances at her finally.

 

“Thought you didn’t want to know anymore?” he asks.  Carol sighs and frowns at him.

 

“If the people in the town are in even more danger, then I would like to know from what,” she says.  The calm tone and pasted on smile is so forced, Caroline was shocked she could manage it.  Stefan steps forward again, cutting off the impending argument.

 

“We’re not sure if they’re in danger or not.  All we know is that a very powerful witch is about to be resurrected.  We just don’t know where the ritual is taking place,” he says.  Carol stops swirling her coffee and stares at them.  After a minute or two she sighs and places her mug on the table.

 

“And the three of you are going to try to stop this?” she asks.

 

“Yes, but it’s not just us.  There are more people involved who want to stop it.”

 

“People or creatures?” Carol asks, a brow raised.  Caroline is impressed when Stefan doesn’t rise to the bait.  He only gives her a small smile, seemingly perfectly calm.

 

“Both, I suppose,” he answers.  Caroline doesn’t miss the slight flash of fangs as he speaks and neither does the Mayor.  Her eyes widen slightly, but she recovers quickly, straightening out her jacket.

 

“Fine.  If anyone asks, I’ll tell them you have permission to be there.  But the Sheriff will be accompanying you.  I’m not letting vampires in there without supervision,” she says.  Caroline bristles at the statement, but refrains from even a glare.

 

“Thank you.  We appreciate it,” Stefan says, before turning and exiting the house quietly.  Caroline gently tugs on the Tyler’s shirt, prodding him towards the doorway.

 

“Tyler, wait,” Carol says.  Tyler turns to her, still tense with anger.  “Just to be clear, this is the last time I’m helping any of you.  After this, you and your friends are on your own with the council,” she says, picking up her mug once again.

 

“Understood,” Tyler says.  He grips Caroline’s hand, but pauses at the doorway.  “And Mayor?” he calls.  Carol glances up at him, her hold on her mug tightening at the formal title.  “You may wanna lay off the booze,” he says with a tight smile.  Carol gapes at him and heat rises to her cheeks.  As Caroline leaves, she can see Mrs. Lockwood shaking off the comment and realigning the beads around her neck.  Tyler slams the door on his way out, making Caroline flinch.  He strides to the car and hops in.  Caroline and Stefan exchange awkward glances before joining him.  That entire ordeal was unnecessary and painful to watch.  She can’t imagine how Tyler was feeling right now, but she wasn’t going to bring it up in front of Stefan.  Caroline hopes that Tyler will confide in her later as he normally does.  Her hopes rise as he once again grips her hand tight.  She squeezes back before pulling out of the drive and heading toward the station.  At least her mother wasn’t blatantly rude like Mrs. Lockwood.  If Caroline squinted hard enough, she could even say her mother still loved her.  Sometimes.

 

After a silent ten minute drive, Caroline pulled into a parking space in front of the Mystic Falls Police Station.  Stefan was the first one out again, giving Caroline a reassuring smile.

 

“You ready for this?” Tyler asks.  It was the first thing he’d said to her for hours.   It made her smile, temporarily ignoring the shit storm that was about to happen.

 

“Nope,” she said, a strained giggle escaping her.  He smiled and ran a hand through her golden locks while leaning over and giving her a quick peck on the lips.  Caroline wanted to stay in the car and let Tyler help her avoid life with sweet kisses and gentle touches.  She was about to pull him closer to deepen the kiss, when Stefan knocked on the window.  Caroline sighs, resting her forehead against Tyler’s.

 

“Right, epic mother daughter fight to get to,” she says, making Tyler laugh.

 

“I doubt it will be too bad.  Your mom isn’t a total bitch,” he says.  Caroline huffs at him, a smile still on her face as they exit the vehicle.  Stefan lingers behind them as they enter the station.

 

“Hey, Reinhart,” Caroline greets the deputy at the desk.

 

“Miss Forbes,” he says, nodding.  He glances at her company, scowling as he recognizes the two boys.  Caroline ignores it, used to the stares from council members.

 

“My mom in?” she asks.  The deputy nods and motions for her and her friends to enter the office.  Caroline detaches her hand from Tyler’s before opening the door.  She didn’t really want to, but holding hands with her hybrid boyfriend wasn’t good for a smooth start.  Her mom looks up from a stack of paperwork, surprised to see her daughter at work.

 

“Caroline, is everything alright?” she asks.

 

“Yeah, totally fine.  Can’t a daughter just visit her mom at work?” she asks, giving her a bright smile.  Her mother isn’t fazed and only sighs, leaning back in her chair.  No one says anything, making Caroline’s smile fade.

 

“What do you want?” she asks.  Fine, getting right to business then, as always, Caroline thinks.

 

“We need access to the underground library,” she says.

 

“So I heard from Mayor Lockwood,” Liz answers.  Tyler shifts nervously under the Sheriff’s gaze.  The professional tone her mother uses has always irritated her.  She was her daughter, not some criminal she had to interrogate.  It wasn’t even because of the vampirism either.  Her mother had always acted that way, wedging an even bigger space between them.  Caroline really missed the night they spent in the Salvatore’s basement.  They had talked like actual mother and daughter.  Caroline has slowly realized that it was a one-time deal.

 

“Are you going to help us or not?” she asks.  Liz nods, getting up from her chair.  She reaches into her desk, pulling out a small set of keys.

 

“Follow me,” she says.  Caroline is surprised at how easy it had been.  They didn’t even fight.  She wasn’t used to this calmness, so she kept quiet, not knowing how to react.  Tyler took her hand again as they followed the Sheriff outside and two buildings over from the station, leading them to the Mystic Falls Library.  It was a small library for a small town, nothing extravagant with gargoyles or anything like that.  Caroline watched as her mother spoke with the man behind the desk.  The clay pot filled with purple flowers that sat next to him was a clear giveaway for a council member.  Even after the massacre, there were still plenty of members, though not many were properly trained as hunters, thanks to a vampire being the head of the council.  Caroline still couldn’t believe her mother allowed Damon to remain head of the council.  Though she supposed it was a ‘keep your enemies close’ tactic, knowing her mother.  Caroline doesn’t hesitate to admit that she hates Damon with every fiber of her being, but she supposes it’s better for everyone for him to be included in the council.  She knew that without a vampire involved, she and her friends would still be targeted every day.  She still thinks he’s a slimy creepy abusive ass though and that won’t change anytime soon, no matter what Elena says about him.

 

Liz waves them forward, leading them to a stairwell to the basement.  They travel down a dark hallway, ending at an old wooden door.  Her mother takes out a rusty key and unlocks it.  She steps aside, letting them inside and closing the door behind her.

 

“I know Mayor Lockwood is expecting me to be your guard or something, but I figure we’ll find the information faster if I help,” she says.  Caroline can only stare, surprised by her mother’s words.  Not only were they not fighting, but she was actually offering to help?  This was so weird…and really nice.

 

“Sure, we could use the extra help,” she says, giving her mom a small smile.  Liz nods and goes over the information they already have with Stefan.  Tyler nudges her arm.

 

“That wasn’t too bad, right?” he asks, searching her face.  Caroline almost laughs because this was not what she was expecting.

 

“Not bad at all,” she says.  The next few hours are spent searching through dusty boxes, leather bound books, and drinking massive amounts of caffeine.  Caroline didn’t like the dirt part so much, but she was actually working side by side with her mother for once.  She could handle a little dirt if this was the result.

 

Elijah

 

“What’s happening with you and Stefan?”

 

Rebekah glares at the trees passing them by.  “It’s just casual,” she answers.

 

“Saving each other from impending death is casual?” he asks.  His sister shrugs and ignores him.  Elijah sighs, wishing she would just open up to him.  He let the subject drop for now, but he was going to get an answer eventually.  He had heard of his little sister’s relationship with the infamous Ripper back in the 1920’s and it didn’t sound particularly healthy.  Stefan is once again coming off a Ripper bender and Rebekah was going to get tangled up in his mess.  Then there was Klaus, his hybrid little brother.  Elijah was still angry with him for many reasons, but Klaus was still family and Elijah hopes the man will join them on this mission eventually.

 

They drove to their mansion in silence, each getting lost in their thoughts.  Though Elijah had been gone for quite some time, he always kept track of Mystic Falls news.  He knew of his siblings’ many mistakes, the transformation of yet another doppelganger, the revelation of Silas and the cure, and the complete destruction of a pack of hybrids by his brother’s hand.  He finds himself often thinking that their mother had been right.  They were abominations; unnatural creatures living in a human world.  Their monstrosity however was their own doing.  The Mikealson family could have tried harder to restrain themselves all those years ago and not become the demons they were now.

 

Rebekah leaned forward and switched the radio on, pulling him from his morose thoughts.  She flipped through different stations before settling on one that was playing Theory of A Deadman.  Elijah frowned and fought the urge to glare at her.

 

“A bit dark, no?” he asks as the somber music fills the car.

 

“I like this song.  It’s fitting for the day we’ve had,” she says.  He turns it down a notch, trying to block out the words.  It only reminded him of what they’ve just lost and what they could still lose.  Rebekah glares at him and turns it all the way up, singing along with the lyrics.

 

“I’m sorry that I never said…How much you had really meant…it’s hard to say but now you’re gone…So does it really matter?...I’m sorry that I never tried…To tell you I was on your side…Now you’re gone…”

 

Rebekah trails off, swaying to the melody.  The song wasn’t doing anything good for him and he really wished she would just shut the damn thing off.  As the words passed over him, he couldn’t help but think of all they’d lost.  Rebekah and Klaus were the only family he had left now.  He should have protected Kol better, dragged them all out of Mystic Falls whether they wanted to leave or not.  That’s what he should be doing with his sister right now.  He should just keep driving until he hits the town line and then continue right out of Virginia.  But his siblings wanted to stay to find the cure.  He knew Rebekah was going to take it.  She hated being a vampire since the very first day they were turned.  Elijah felt much the same way, but did he want to be human?  He honestly wasn’t sure.  What about Klaus?  Did he only want it for the power it holds, or did he want to be human?  Technically, Klaus could never be truly human even if he took the cure for immortality.  This cure did not erase the Werewolf curse; therefore Klaus would remain a supernatural creature.  The words of the song once again pulled him out of his head.

 

“You’re spending all your time alone…Cause you don’t need them…No one can see the pain, inside of you…You just wanna say goodbye…You’re giving up now…I think the letter says it all, it’s not your fault…”

 

But it was.  It was his fault.  All of it.  Sure, he could blame Klaus easily, but none of it was really on Klaus.  Elijah became the oldest when his older brother died of the plague and his siblings were his responsibility.  He had helped Klaus when he said he wanted to trigger his wolf.  Elijah hadn’t thought it would be a bad thing at the time.  He had thought maybe his brother would finally find what was missing in his life.  But all its brought is hell upon them all.

 

Elijah jabbed the power button, cutting off the end of the song.  He expected Rebekah to glower at him, but instead she reached over and took his hand.  He let out a breath he hadn’t even realized he was holding and gave her a small smile.

 

“So, where are we going?” she asks.

 

“The mansion.  I figure there will be something in our library about Silas’ whereabouts,” he answers.  They pull up to the stone castle a few moments later and he can feel her hand tighten in his.  Rebekah straightens in her chair, peering around the property.  Elijah should probably tell her about their guest before she has a fit.  He tightened his hold on her hand, gaining her attention.

 

“We have a guest, by the way,” he says.  She raises a questioning brow at him.  Elijah took a breath, hoping she wouldn’t take it too badly.  “I’ve actually been traveling with someone for the past few weeks and she offered to help with the Silas situation,” he said, still stalling.

 

“Who is it, Elijah?” she asks, suspicion in her tone.  He could tell she was already guessing it right and by her expression she was not happy.

 

“Katerina is here,” he says quietly.  Rebekah scoffs and takes her hand from his.

 

“I cannot believe you.  I thought you were finished with her?”

 

“I am on a personal level, but she is useful at times.  She is often willing to do things I am not,” he says.

 

“Such as?”

 

“If trouble arises, she does not hesitate to kill our enemies.  She seems to have the strength that I now lack,” he says.  Elijah could imagine Katerina’s smirk at overhearing this conversation.  Her ego would be hell to deal with later.

 

“I don’t trust her and neither should you.”

 

“I agree.”

 

“So you will tell her to leave?”  she asks, her arms crossed over her chest.  Elijah sighs, wishing this could just be easy.

 

“No, like I said, she is useful and has offered to help,” he says.  Rebekah opens her mouth to argue, but remains quiet at his glare.

 

“Fine, do what you want.  Don’t expect me to be civil,” she pouts.  She leaves the car and stomps to the door, her brother right behind.

 

“There will be no bloodshed in this house, Rebekah,” he warns.  She huffs and trudges into the foyer.  Rebekah listens for a moment, searching out the other girl.  Elijah watched her for a moment, curious.  He always found Katerina by the scent of wood smoke that seemed to follow her everywhere.  Elijah had still been unable to figure out what the scent meant, but it was definitely personal to Katerina.  No one else’s scent had been as strong to him, not even his siblings.  Rebekah was a mix of lemon and kiwi, and Klaus’ scent was mostly of raw meat (which still unnerved him to this day).  Their aromas seemed almost muted compared to her’s.  As a human, Katerina’s scent had been more simple and close to fresh cut grass.  It became so much darker during her life as a vampire.  It was intriguing, to say the least.

 

Elijah easily pinpointed the girl in the kitchen and motioned for his sister to follow.  They found the other girl spinning on one of the bar stools, humming to herself and sipping from an expensive whiskey bottle.  When they entered the room, she stopped mid-sip and grinned.

 

“Nice to finally meet you, Blondie,” she says, tipping the bottle at Rebekah.  Now that he was closer, the stink of booze was a bit overpowering.  He squinted at the label and sighed.

 

“That was full when I left,” he said.  The bottle was nearly empty and clearly explained the swaying that was going on.  Elijah figured she would indulge herself while he was gone.  It had been a rough couple of weeks for them both and though she seemed to enjoy the thrill of killing, he could see it still weighed on her at times.

 

“It was delicious.  Hope you don’t mind,” she said.

 

“You can have whatever you like, but it’s not exactly the time for a party,” he says.  Though he knew her party was more ‘drowning in guilt’ than ‘dance ‘til you drop’, he kept his voice firm, letting her know he wasn’t pleased.

 

“Right, crazy ass witch resurrection, I remember,” she mutters as she squints into the bottle, swirling the remaining liquid around.  The movement seemed to dizzy her and she tumbled off her stool, landing on the floor in a fit of hysterical laughter.  Rebekah crossed her arms, scowling at the other girl.

 

“Yes, she is so useful, Elijah,” she snaps and then leaves in the direction of their library.  Elijah sighs, bending down to help the girl off the floor.

 

“Katerina you need to take this more seriously,” he says, steadying her on her feet.

 

You take things seriously enough for everyone.  Here, have a drink,” she mumbles, pushing the whiskey into his hands.  He takes it from her and gently places it on the counter.  Elijah steps closer to her, gaining her full attention.

 

“Listen to me.  We are all in danger.  I cannot have you being a mess right now.  Do you understand?” he asks.  At some point while he was talking, he had brushed her hair away from her face and his fingers remained tangled in her waves.  He trails his fingers through it, reaching her jawline and taking her chin in his fingers.  “You are needed in this battle, Katerina,” he says quietly.  Dark eyes peer up at him, shining from the booze.  The girl only nods, pulling away from him.  He sighs, wondering why he even got so close in the first place.

 

“You’re different today.  What happened?” she asks.

 

“Kol is dead,” he whispers.  Surprise flickers across her face, but she doesn’t say anything.  Elijah looks away, not wanting to talk of his brother.  “You should shower and rest.  We’re meeting the group at midnight,” he says.  Katerina nods and strolls down the hall. She hesitates before turning the corner, glancing back at him.

 

“I’m sorry for your loss,” she says.  Before he can respond, she disappears into the bathroom.  He’s surprised at the statement, to say the least.  She has continued to surprise him over the past weeks, showing more compassion than he thought she was capable of.

 

“That didn’t look very finished to me,” Rebekah says.  Elijah startles, not having heard her return.  She gives him a sad smile and shakes her head.  “Anyway, I think I may have found something.  Come look,” she says.

 

Rebekah leads him to the large library, pushing open the wooden doors.  The room hadn’t been changed much over the last 145 years since he bought the mansion.  He had followed Katerina back to the small town and watched from afar as she manipulated the Salvatore brothers and then turned them.  Elijah had left soon after he heard the council was stepping in.  He was grateful they were going to take care of the vampires in the town, including Katerina.  He didn’t stick around to see how it played out, assuming the hunters would take care of it.  Obviously, he had overestimated them, seeing has not only Katerina had survived, but just about every vampire in the town had.

 

“I found this book in that chest over there,” Rebekah says, pointing to the large trunk in the corner.  “Where did that come from anyway?”

 

“It was mothers,” he says.  Rebekah freezes and glares at him.

 

“You mean Esther.  She was never our mother, Elijah.  She never deserved the title and she still doesn’t,” Rebekah snaps.  Elijah only nods, used to his sister’s anger.  She shakes it off and presents the heavy book to him.  He recognized it immediately.

 

“Moth- Esther’s original spell book,” he says, leafing through the dried out pages.

 

“There’s a section at the back titled Silas,” she says, flipping to the page.  “Unfortunately, it’s written in God knows what,” she grumbles.  Elijah looks over the pages covered in lines of symbols.  It wasn’t anything he recognized, but that made sense.  Their mother never taught them witchcraft; therefore the language was unknown to them.

 

“We either need a witch or someone with knowledge of witch craft,” he mumbles.

 

“Well, we’re fresh out of those,” Rebekah snaps.  The smell of smoke filled the room, followed by fingers digging into his side and shoving him aside.  He glared as the brunette plops herself right on the table, curls still damp, but no less beautiful.

 

“What are we looking at?” she asks, peering at the book upside down.  Her eyes scan over it, catching at certain symbols.  Sighing, she says “Witches and their secrets.”

 

“Can you read this?” he asks.

 

“Not all of it, but I recognize some of the symbols,” she says.  “I made Emily teach me some of it, but she was stubborn with the important stuff.”  Katerina takes the book from him and flips through the pages, lingering on certain symbols.  “Well, there’s a lot of sacrifice talk, how shocking.  Something about a full moon…this symbol means tombstone,” she says pointing to what only looks like a squiggle to him.  She continues to point at various symbols, giving their meaning.  “Vampire…Werewolf…the symbol for ritual is used about a million times…hunter is mentioned a few times…” she says, trailing off.

 

“That was super helpful, thanks for your input,” Rebekah mumbles.  The two girls glare at each other, but Katerina eventually returns to the book.  She flips to the next page and Elijah places a hand on it, squinting at the bottom of the page.

 

“What is this?” he asks.  Rebekah peers over Katerina’s shoulder.

 

“They look like numbers,” she says.  Elijah sees Katerina roll her eyes.

 

“Very good, blondie,” she says.  His sister scowls and saunters out of the room, muttering about needing a drink.  Elijah doesn’t know if it’s bravery or stupidity that has Katerina constantly baiting vampires much older than herself.  Knowing how clever she is, he’s going to bet on bravery.  Stupid bravery, but still.  The girl suddenly sits up straight, a knowing expression on her face.  She smirks up at him and angles the book so he can see the numbers better.

 

“What do you think it is?” she asks.  Elijah studies them for a moment, wracking his brain.  The numbers are surrounded by all the confusing symbols, making it hard to focus on them.

 

“I do not know,” he says, sighing.  Katerina slumps and drops the book into her lap.

 

“I thought you were supposed to be smart?” she whispers playfully.  He glares at her, but she seems unfazed by it.  “I don’t understand how you even got that reputation.  I am clearly much smarter than you,” she says, flipping her hair in his face.  He catches a strong whiff of vanilla, knowing that it’s emanating from her very skin and not just a shampoo or perfume.  It was rare for the sweet scent to come from her and every time Elijah found it, his nerves tingled.  He had no idea what it was, but he enjoyed it.  He catches her gaze and leans closer, his face mere inches away from her, his arms barricading her on the table.

 

“If you are so smart, then enlighten me,” he whispers.  Katerina doesn’t back away as he expected, the vanilla scent growing stronger.  Her lips part slightly in surprise as she breathes him in.  He wonders what he smells like to her.  Whatever it is, it seems to catch her off guard, breath stuttering for a moment.  Her scent is surrounding him so completely, that he darts his tongue over his bottom lip, hoping to taste the vanilla.  She follows the movement, her gaze lingering on his lips.  All reasons of why this is a bad idea escape him, as he inches closer, looking back and forth between her eyes and lips.  Katerina stays very still, letting him close the distance.  The moment their lips touch, Elijah’s heart begins to race, matching the brunettes pace.  Their eyes are still open, just staring at each other as he tests her reaction.

 

Katerina doesn’t respond at first, making him worry that she is maybe afraid to do anything.  Elijah begins to back away, but she follows him, keeping them connected.  He feels her lips move against him, seeming to finally respond to his actions.  He presses more firmly against her supple mouth, tracing his tongue along her bottom lip, before gently pulling on it.  Her breath stutters out and her eyes flutter closed as he tangles his fingers in her hair, bringing her closer.  Katerina shifts suddenly, her legs now on either side of him, her arms locked around his neck.  She doesn’t hesitate to introduce her tongue to the equation, fighting him for dominance.  Elijah’s head is swimming as the sweetness of the vanilla mixes with a spicy cinnamon aroma.  He had never come across this one before and it instantly made him grab her waist and pull her body closer.

 

“Oh my god!” Rebekah shrieks.  They hastily pull apart at the noise, but Elijah can’t tear his eyes away from Katerina.  Her cheeks are burning, her breath coming fast, her pupils blown wide.  The sight was intoxicating.  She still has a hand on his shoulder, not breaking the gaze.

 

“Hello!” Rebekah yells.  They both jump and look at her.  She has her hands over her eyes and is peeking through her fingers.  “I am going to pretend that didn’t happen,” she says.  Elijah nods and finally manages to pull away from the brunette, who quickly looks back to the book in her lap.

 

“Um, I know what the numbers are,” she says.  Rebekah sighs, lowering her hands.

 

“Well, that’s fantastic.  Care to share with the class?”

 

“They’re coordinates,” Katerina says.

 

“To where?” he asks.

 

“Somewhere in California I think.  I’ll need a map to be sure.”

 

Rebekah glances at her phone, checking the time.

 

“Yes, well I’m sure Stefan will have one.  It’s almost midnight, we should get going,” she says and turns to leave.  Katerina places the book on the table and hops down to the floor.  She smirks at him as she walks by, eyes lingering on his lips.  Elijah stands and watches her walk, hips swaying invitingly.

 

“Coming?” she asks, looking back at him.  He can’t stop the grin that spreads across his face as she takes off at a run.  Following right behind, her laughter drifts back to him, urging him on faster.  She reaches the car before him, a bright smile upon her face.  “You failed to catch me, yet again,” she laughs.  He crowds into her space, backing her into the car.

 

“Maybe I don’t want this game to end,” he whispers.  He’s about to lean in for another kiss, when Rebekah blares the horn.  Katerina giggles, wriggling out of his embrace to climb into his 2010 Lincoln.  He seriously wonders what the hell he’s doing, but it felt nice to hold Katerina after longing to do so for centuries.  Elijah decides not to analyze it and instead enjoy the new possibilities.

 

Shane

 

Shane transfers the sleeping witch to his office couch and then riffles through her pockets in search of the vial.  He finds it tucked into the pocket of her sweater and retrieves it without waking her.  She did good today, he thinks.  One little incident is to be expected since she’s connected to so many dead witches.  The Bennett line is very long and very powerful and they will try to fight for control every now and then, but he is in control of her, not them, not anymore; and once he raises Silas, he will be in control of Bonnie, as it should be.

 

The vial is completely full with the hunter’s blood and he sighs in relief.  That was the last thing on the list for the ritual.  He glances at his list, checking off every item.

 

-The blood of a leader who killed his followers.

 

Check.  He had taken some of Pastor Young’s blood before he killed himself and most of the council.

 

-The blood of a father who killed his children.

 

Check.  Shane had Bonnie attack Klaus earlier this evening and they now had a vial of the hybrids blood.

 

-The blood of a hunter who killed in Silas’ name.

 

Check, he thinks, as he adds the last vial to his bag.

 

-A witch descended from Silas and disconnected from nature.

 

Check.  Shane looks at Bonnie, still asleep on his couch.  The poor girl doesn’t even know how powerful she is.

 

-The stone portraying Silas’ death.

 

Check.  That last one was pure luck.  Bonnie had tracked Klaus down and found him holding the tombstone, which Shane was quick to take back.  He couldn’t believe they stole it in the first place.  Shane had been actually excited to finally meet the infamous Originals and as of right now he hated every one of them.  Jeremy had finally killed Kol, much to Shane’s delight.  Kol didn’t want Silas to be raised and anyone who was going to try to stop that was a threat.  Plus the vampire tried to kill him.  Shane was grateful that the witch had tried to spare his life, but it really wasn’t necessary.  That wound wouldn’t have killed him anyway.

 

Shane glances at her again, guilt washing over him.  He really didn’t want to use her like this, but he didn’t have a choice.  Shane had another witch on his side, but she was completely controlled by dark magic and refused to learn Expression.  She was nowhere near as strong as Bonnie anyway.  He had sent the other witch to the site already, knowing she wouldn’t be needed until later.  There was always going to be enemies blocking their path and that’s where the other witch came in.

 

Bonnie began to stir and Shane quickly went to her side in case she had lost control again.  He was relieved to see that her eyes were their regular dark brown when she finally opened them.  No golden hue from the witches.  She peered over at him, smiling a little.

 

“Did we get everything?” she asks.

 

“Yeah, we got everything.  How are you feeling?” he asks.  If Bonnie burnt out too fast, the entire plan would fall apart.  She pushes herself into a sitting position.

 

“Fine, actually.  A little tired, but fine,” she says.   He nods, looking away from her.  She hadn’t stopped staring at him since she woke up.  He wasn’t an idiot, he knew that she was starting to have feelings for him.  That was possibly the worst part about all of this.  He didn’t want to hurt her, especially not like that.  Shane would never have those feelings for her, but he couldn’t tell her that.  His heart belonged to another and it had for a very long time.

 

“We should head out soon,” he says, moving away to gather everything. 

 

“Are you sure about this?” she asks quietly.  Shane sighed, annoyed by the question.  They’d been over this about a hundred times.

 

“Yes, I am sure.  Once Silas awakens, the people trapped on the other side will rise with him, including your Grams,” he says, giving her a tight smile.  She relaxed slightly, nodding in agreement.

 

“I believe you.”

 

Shane hated hearing that.  Bonnie trusted him completely, which is what he needed, but he still didn’t like lying to her.  He had no idea if Silas would raise the dead.  Silas had the power to do it, but Shane wasn’t convinced he would use it.  But it didn’t matter to Shane.  The only thing that mattered was unlocking his cage and waking him.  He was once again thankful that none of them new his true identity.  They would have tried (and failed) to kill him instantly.  Therefore, the faster he and Bonnie got out of town, the safer he would be.

 

“Are you going to finally tell me where we’re going?” she asks, hauling her bags into her arms.  Shane glared at the amount of bags she was carrying.  Teenage girls, he thought.  They could’ve just bought what they needed on the road.  Why the hell did she need so much stuff?

 

“Do you really need all of that?” he asks, his anger getting the better of him.  Bonnie freezes, surprised by his tone.  Shane winced, momentarily forgetting who he was supposed to be with her.  He had been playing the laid-back, curious, and helpful Professor; her confidant and mentor.  He had to remember to keep that persona going if she was going to continue trusting him.  Shane laughed and shook his head.  “Never mind.  I know, you need your stuff, I get it,” he said, smiling.  Bonnie glances away, not bothering to comment.

 

“I want to know where we’re going,” she says.  Shane hadn’t planned on telling her, letting her figure it out once they got there.  Even though she was presumably on his side, he didn’t trust her to not tell her friends there plan.  Which is why he confiscated her phone and wouldn’t be giving it back until they were out of the state at least.

 

“Silas is buried in a little town in California.  The town was built on an ancient ritual site.  Centuries ago, witches used the area for every spell you could imagine, making the very land extremely powerful.  Supernatural creatures tend to be drawn to it, pulled by the magic.  You should know, Bonnie, that it is not a safe place by any means and that there will most likely be casualties.  If there are other beings there, things may get wildly out of control,” he says.  He steps closer to her, trying to make her understand.  “If we’re going to go through with this, you need to understand that right now, I am your only friend.  Everyone else is an enemy until proven otherwise,” he says.  Bonnie’s eyes glaze over under his manipulation and she nods.

 

“Of course.  You are my friend.  Everyone else is an enemy,” she mumbles.

 

“Good, Bonnie, very good.”  Bonnie blinks a few times, refocusing.

 

“What’s the town called?”

 

“Beacon Hills.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 4 – Part 1

Derek

 

The pleasant burn that had been coursing through his veins was slowly turning painful as he pushed himself harder.  Normally his exercise routine didn’t last this long, but he couldn’t sleep and there was nothing else to do.  Derek let his mind wander, ignoring the twinges of protest in his muscles.  Should he really be going to Stiles’ again tonight?  He did like home cooked meals, the Sheriff should be working again, and Stiles was surprisingly not awful to be around.  He found that if he answered the incessant stream of questions, Stiles wasn’t as loud and didn’t chatter as much.  The lasagna had been good and as promised, not laced with wolfs bane.  Derek will admit that he had been a little paranoid.  If Stiles had wanted to kill him he could easily team up with the hunters.  Scott probably wouldn’t even protest because Allison was his epic teenage love or something.  Mates, probably

 

The thought had his claws extending, scratching against the wooden floorboards.  He flipped onto his back, ignoring the flare of pain as he continued his routine.  He liked pork chops, he thought.  It would definitely be better than another deer like this morning.  Peter had actually tried to fight him for it, the jackass.  Derek was quick to put him in his place, letting the power he held surface.  Peter submitted quickly and let his Alpha have the meal.  Or at least the first few bites of it.  Peter decided it would be a good idea to tackle him and start a game of chase.  Derek had been angry at first, chasing his uncle with intent to maim, and thinking that the man had decided to make a move for power.  Peter was still quite fast and sneaky, but Derek was faster now.  He eventually rammed the other wolf into a tree and was ready to pounce when Peter bared his neck in submission again.  Derek was surprised by the act and quickly backed off, accepting the beta’s obedience.  Peter had pulled at the connection then, running into the woods, baiting the Alpha to chase him.  The predator in Derek obliged and the two of them had spent a good part of the morning running through the woods.

 

Derek’s wolf had been able to relax and run wild.  It was a rare feeling and Derek didn’t really know what to do with it.  He still didn’t trust Peter and yet the man had subtly been trying to reconnect over the last few weeks.  Peter was still annoying as hell and he disappeared far too often for Derek’s liking, but he hadn’t tried to make a move yet, which is strange.  Although, knowing him, he was probably off planning something so complicated that it was going to take weeks to finish.  This means Derek’s guard had to be up at all times.  Peter was much better at strategizing and catching his targets off guard; things that Derek never really excelled at.

 

“Don’t you ever sleep?”

 

Derek sprung from the floor, watching the older man warily as he munched on a bowl of cereal.  Where had he found that?  Did he actually go to the grocery store?

 

“Seriously, Derek?  If I wanted to kill you, I would find a much better time than during your ‘exercise routine’,” he grumbles, air quoting around the last part.  Derek snarled at him, but turned away to redress.  He pulls his shirt over his head quickly, keeping an eye on his uncle’s movements.  Peter slumps onto the dusty couch, scowling as the dirt lands in his cheerios.

 

“We really need to clean,” he mumbles, placing his bowl on the floor.  Derek doesn’t respond, trying to forget the morning they shared.  Derek shouldn’t have indulged in his uncle’s games.  There was no point in building some kind of connection when Peter was either going to kill him or up and leave eventually.  “So, we’re back to ignoring me, then?” Peter asks, resting his arms on the back of the couch.  He spreads out, stretching into the cushions.

 

“What do you want?”  Derek snapped.  He was tired and irritated and Peter was not helping right now.

 

“I was simply suggesting we clean is all.”

 

“Well, have at it.  I don’t care what you do.  Just stay away from my room,” Derek says.  Peter scoffs.

 

“Like I would ever enter the King’s lair.  It’s like a dungeon in there.  Would it kill you to open a window or two?” he asks, frowning.  Derek raised a brow at him.

 

“Seriously?  You’re worried about fresh air?  One side of the house is missing an entire wall.  I’m pretty sure the windows don’t need to be opened,” he retorts.

 

“Yes, Derek, I am aware of the current state of the house.  The giant gaping hole is a bit hard to miss,” Peter says.  Derek snarls at him, fed up with his attitude.

 

“If you aren’t happy here, then leave,” Derek growls.  He ignored the whine that his wolf made inside his head.  He refused to fully accept that Peter was a member of his pack.

 

“I would, if I could get passed your little mountain ash line,” Peter snapped back.  His uncle stood to his full height, slowly pacing in front of the Alpha.

 

“I gave you the option to leave before we made the barrier.  You didn’t take it.  That was your own fault,” Derek says.

 

“If I’d thought it would take this long for you to get your pack together, I would have taken the offer.  But I didn’t and now I’m stuck in this little town, watching as you fail yet again,” Peter says, advancing on him.  Derek growls in warning, making Peter hesitate.

 

“I haven’t failed.  Scott will return.  Isaac will make sure of it.”  Peter laughs, shaking his head at him.

 

“Isaac is terrified of you, in case you hadn’t noticed.  If given the choice, who do you think he’d choose as his Alpha?  You or Scott?” Peter asks.  Derek bristles at the question, knowing the answer, but not willing to admit it.  Peter senses the vibration through their connection and nods.  “Exactly.  Scott might not be very observant or smart at times, but he is a leader whether you like it or not.  How long do you think before he completely embraces his wolf and realizes he doesn’t need you?  That boy could have every member of your ‘pack’ running to him for guidance within a matter of minutes if he would just get his head out of his ass.  Or rather, his huntress’ ass.  And when that happens…how long do you think it will take for him to challenge you?” Peter asks.  His words had hit a serious nerve, playing on one of Derek’s biggest insecurities.  He was failing at being an Alpha.  He’d bitten emotionally unstable teenagers in a desperate attempt to form a pack.  Derek had sought them out because, like himself, they had no one.  He figured it would be easy.  Give them power, friends, maybe even a family and they would follow him no matter what.  He didn’t expect his first bitten to become a lizard monster and try to kill everyone.  But he couldn’t blame Jackson for Boyd and Erica leaving.  They needed a stable environment, something Derek couldn’t provide.  He had assumed that after a few weeks together, he would be able to bond with his three beta’s, showing Scott that he could be his Alpha too.

 

Derek wants to laugh at his thought process.  How was any of that supposed to have worked?  For one, he can’t bond with anyone; therefore his beta’s had to lean on each other.  He had finally made a connection with Isaac, but after his other two betas abandoned them, he shut the kid out.  Derek worked his last beta harder during training, couldn’t be bothered with compassion or understanding.  He basically handed his remaining beta right over to Scott.  He hadn’t even been surprised when Isaac said he was leaving to live with the other wolf.  It had hurt for a brief moment, but Derek shut that out too.  Before they left, he had formed a bond with Boyd, but the beta was right.  He needed a better leader and the connection he had with Erica was far greater.  Derek had been unable to connect with the girl of his pack.  He had watched her struggle in school and had liked her immediately, wanting to cure her of the illness that wracked her body and made her an outcast.  But once bitten, the hidden confidence came roaring out, startling Derek to be honest.  She was over confident and never listened, always arguing with him.  He cared for her just as much as the other two, but she could be extremely stubborn.

 

Even now, Derek could still feel the tethers that bind him to his missing betas.  They were extremely faint, but they vibrated every now and then, letting him know they were still alive.  Once in a while, emotion would filter through the connections, carrying fear and pain.  Derek knew without a doubt that the Alpha pack had them.  He and Peter had spent weeks tracking down their scents, but the Alpha’s were somehow covering their tracks.  After a while, Derek is ashamed to admit that he gave up the search and had Stiles create the barrier around the territory.  Derek couldn’t think of them now without drowning in guilt and worry.

 

Derek was brought out of his head when Peter let out an aggravated sigh.  The anger resurfaced, pushing away the sorrow that had leaked through.

 

“Scott wouldn’t dare challenge me.  I am the Alpha,” Derek says.  The words felt hollow, but he didn’t have a better argument.  Peter scoffed again.

 

“That sort of thinking is going to get us all killed.  No one cares how much power you hold, Derek.  If someone sees a weakness in you, they will not hesitate to attack,” Peter says.

 

“Someone like you, you mean?” Derek asks, his canines flashing.  Peter sighs, backing away slightly.

 

“If I had the strength to take you on, believe me, I would.  But I don’t and probably never will.  Scott is different.  He’ll grow stronger with Isaac by his side.  Though I don’t particularly approve of you being my Alpha, I would much rather follow you than a wolf that thinks dating a hunter is a good idea,” Peter says.  Derek looks away, guilt washing over him.  Scott was making the same mistakes he had made back then.  Derek was no better than him when it came to judgment obviously.

 

“We all learn from our mistakes, Derek,” Peter mutters.  Derek glances at him, wondering if he knows.  The heat behind his eyes tells Derek that he does.  He may never have told Peter the truth, but he was observant and figured it out himself.  “We’ve both made mistakes and we’ve both paid for them.  What I’m saying now, is that if you don’t pull your pack together, we’re all screwed.  The Alpha pack will find a way in eventually and the hunters are still a threat, not to mention whatever Gerard has become now.  The only way to strengthen the power of the pack is to have Scott by your side.  And there is only one way that’s ever going to happen,” Peter says.  Derek is shocked by his uncle’s words.  Not only did Peter call him his Alpha (Derek hadn’t missed that statement), but he was basically saying he was going to stick around and help.  Derek figured that once the war begins, Peter would leave him to deal with it.  Derek can’t help the relief that floods through him, knowing that at least one of his betas is standing by him.  It’s still a strange feeling and Derek isn’t sure what to do with it.  He refocuses on the last part of Peter’s speech.

 

“What are you suggesting?” he asks.

 

“The only way you’re going to get Scott is if you get Stiles first,” Peter says.  “If Stiles joins the pack, Scott will follow, I guarantee it.”

 

Derek thinks about it for a minute.  Though they were fighting at the moment, Stiles and Scott were best friends and would do anything for each other.  Peter was right…again.

 

“I’ll talk to Stiles,” he mumbles.  Peter rolls his eyes.

 

“I was thinking a little more pro-active, Derek,” he says, grinning.  “Give Stiles the bite.”

 

Derek’s wolf perked up at the idea, but he quickly squashed it down.  He didn’t want to turn any more people, especially not emotionally vulnerable teenagers.  Stiles didn’t even want to be a werewolf…did he?  Derek shook his head, ignoring the sudden urge to track the boy down and bite him.

 

“I’m not turning Stiles unless it’s what he wants,” Derek says.  He receives another eye roll.  “I’ll ask alright?  But if he says no, then that’s it,” he relents.

 

“Well, I hope you have better luck than I did.  I understand why he wouldn’t take it from me, but you,” Peter says, a dark smile on his face.  Derek’s vision blurs red and a roar erupts out of his chest.  Peter had offered Stiles the bite.  When?  Why?  Derek leapt at the other wolf, tackling him to the ground.  He let his canines grow long and sharp, his growl echoing through the room.  Peter quickly submitted again, calming the rage that had boiled over.  Derek’s vision returned to normal and he felt his canines retreating once again.

 

“If you ever touch him again, I will kill you.  Again.  Do you understand?” he asks, keeping the man pinned.

 

“Perfectly.  All touching will be done by you.  Got it,” Peter says, smirking.  Wait, what?  That wasn’t what Derek meant.  He pulled away, glaring at his uncle.  What the hell did he mean by that?  Peter waggled his eyebrows and with a wink, walked off into the woods.  What the fuck just happened?  Was Peter insinuating that something was going on with him and Stiles?

 

Derek froze, thinking it over.  That was ridiculous.  Stiles was a child, only sixteen years old.  Derek would never take advantage of him like that.  He thought back on the dinner they shared last night.  That was…he hadn’t meant…he was only concerned.  And Stiles had offered him free food, he wasn’t going to pass that up.  Besides, Stiles was hung up on that Lydia chick.  No, that’s not even a reason because we don’t care about that, Derek thinks.  Though Derek seriously couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.  The redhead was beautiful obviously and possibly smart, Derek couldn’t tell.  But Derek had watched her that day at the school when his betas had tested her with the Kanima venom.  She was a total bitch and treated Stiles worse than the dirt on her shoe.  Why in the hell did he like her so much?  Also, Stiles’ massive crush on her clearly meant that he was straight, right?  Then again, Derek had been with both genders over the years, so he guesses one crush didn’t necessarily mean anything.  Once again, none of that matters because we are NOT interested in him, Derek thinks.

 

Since he wasn’t interested and neither was Stiles, there should be no harm in having dinner with him, right?  It was a free meal again and if Derek got Stiles to join the pack, then Scott would too.  Even if Scott never joined, Stiles would definitely be an asset to the pack.  He was smart and was good at strategizing for battles.  Plus if he accepted the bite, then Derek wouldn’t even need Scott, not really.  Derek sighs, trudging up the stairs for a shower.  What the hell is he thinking?  Even if Stiles joined the pack as a wolf, he can’t just abandon Scott.  What would the kid do against the Alphas?  Die, that’s what, Derek thinks.

 

He shoves all thoughts of impending doom from his mind as he washes off the day.  Closing his eyes, he lets the water run down his face, flattening his hair to his head.  The moment his lids slid closed, exhaustion seeped in, making him sway under the stream.  He caught himself, placing a hand on the wall.  Shaking himself awake was difficult with warm water filling the room with steam, so he quickly turned the heat down, letting the water cool.  He shivered as the cold hit him, but it woke him up a bit.  Derek hadn’t been able to sleep the last few days (or weeks), waking up at odd hours and then not being able to fall asleep again.  He would lie in bed for hours, trying to shut his mind off, but sleep kept evading him.

 

The biggest problem was the worry he had for his missing betas.  He could sometimes feel their anxiety, but then other times he couldn’t feel them at all.  When he couldn’t feel them, he would panic and stare out into the woods, hoping to see them walk through the trees, perfectly fine.  He would imagine Boyd and Erica come strolling up, holding hands and telling him they made a mistake.  Derek wouldn’t even be angry that they left.  He just wanted to see them again, make sure they were alright.  Derek promised himself that if they came back, he would do it right this time.  Make sure Jackson understood his place in the pack so he would finally have an inkling of who he was, give the boy some kind of identity.  Reestablish his connection with Boyd, his second in command, the wolf who was always calm no matter the situation.  Derek has never regretted turning any of his betas, especially not Erica.  The bite cured her of epilepsy and she was finally able to spread her wings and make friends.  She had even found someone her wolf would accept as a mate.  Honestly, Derek just wanted to break down when he thought of them.  He failed them so much and he just wanted to fix it.

 

Everyone was in danger right now because of him.  He fucked up by dating a hunter and then fucked up again by not protecting his new pack.  Derek turned the water off and stepped out into the cold air.  He wiped off the mirror and glared at his reflection.  His wolf was restless, like always.  Derek usually tried his best to hold back the anger, but he just didn’t want to right now.  He let it build, his eyes flicking to red in the mirror.  Derek still wasn’t used to that, the red appearing instead of blue.  It only angered him more, seeing the color that had once been his mother’s and had always been meant for his older brother.  The color Peter had stolen from Laura.  His sister wasn’t supposed to be an Alpha either, but she had embraced the power gracefully, using it to protect him after the fire.

 

Before realizing what was happening, Derek curled his hand into a fist and smashed it into the mirror.  The glass splintered and cracked, deforming his image.  Derek hit the reflection again, this time shattering the mirror.  The pieces rained down onto the counter and floor, splattered with droplets of his blood.

 

Derek felt two strong tugs in his chest and a tingling up his spine.  He sighed, for a moment wishing he wasn’t connected with anyone.  He didn’t want them to know how close to breaking he was.  That would be one more failure to live with.  Derek took a breath, pushing the wolf back down.  He sent reassurances that everything was fine through the two strongest connections, Isaac and Peter.  Isaac accepted the response, but Peter’s presence lingered.  Derek shoved at it, basically telling him to fuck off.  He could hear Peter trudging through the woods towards the house, but he stopped at Derek’s command and went back to whatever the hell he was doing.  Derek really didn’t want to deal with him again.

 

He quickly dressed in his room and it took him a good ten minutes to realize that there had been a third connection that had flared.  The one that always made itself known in his back instead of his chest.  He recognized it now that he was thinking about it.  But how was that possible?  Stiles shouldn’t be able to detect that anything was wrong, he was only human.  Maybe something was wrong with Stiles instead?  Derek sat down on his bed and mentally poked at the connection.  It flared again, opening his senses to the human’s whereabouts and condition.  Stiles was at his house, making pork chops just as he said he’d be.  As Derek concentrated, he could hear Stiles singing along to some song on his iPod.

 

“Let the fun and games begin…she is spayed and broken in…skin is cold and white…such a lovely lonely night…”

 

The music has him up off the bed, descending the stairs, and leaving the house before he can second guess his actions.  He ignores Peter’s worried glances from the edge of the woods, following the music down the road.  Derek didn’t even bother with his car.  It would only muffle the sounds he was hearing and it’s not like he could park it in the Sheriff’s driveway anyway.

 

“Heaven is on the way…you could feel the hate…but I guess you never will…I’m on a roll again…and I want an end…’cause I feel you creeping in…”

 

Derek was halfway across town, headed straight for the music within a matter of seconds.

 

“What I found in this town…I’m heading for a breakdown…what’s that sound, you’re so loud…I’m heading for a breakdown…”

 

Derek made it to the edge of the trees beside the Stilinski house just as the chorus had finished.  He could hear Stiles moving around the kitchen as he hummed along with the words.  Derek was about to head for the front door, when he heard the Sheriff’s car coming back down the road.  The Sheriff usually worked all night on Sundays.  Maybe he forgot something?  Derek hid behind a large tree as he watched the man sit in the driveway.  He looked tired and frustrated.

 

“Drank up all my alcohol…this is not a free for all…I’ll be there for you…’til my heart is black and blue…”

 

The Sheriff rubbed his eyes before getting out and slamming the door of his cruiser.  Derek could smell worry and anger rolling off him in waves, making him fidget.  Clearly something was up and Derek wondered if he should leave.  He considered it, but the tingling sensation ran up his spine yet again, making him stay.

 

“Heaven is on the way…you could feel the hate…but I guess you never will…I’m on a roll again…and I want an end…’cause I feel you creeping in…”

 

Derek watched as the Sheriff stomped up the driveway, entered the house, and slammed the door behind him.  He could feel Stiles jump at the sound, but the boy chose to ignore it and turn his music up louder.

 

“What I found in this town…I’m heading for a breakdown…what’s that sound, you’re so loud…I’m heading for a breakdown…”

 

Derek could hear the Sheriff enter the kitchen just as Stiles pulled the pork chops out.  Wanting to be closer, he jumped onto the roof beside Stiles’ window, the kitchen right below him.

 

“Stiles.”

 

The Sheriff’s voice was low and angry and Stiles’ heart sped up.  Derek hated when it did that.  It was so loud and very distracting.  Though his father’s heart was just as loud, making him wonder if it was a genetic thing.

 

“Hey dad, you forget something?” Stiles asks.  He could hear the smile the boy had pasted on and the cheer he forced in his voice.  Why was everything so tense between them?

 

“No, it seems you’re the one that forgot something,” the Sheriff responded.  Stiles didn’t say anything.  “One of my deputies said he saw you yesterday.”

 

“At Starbucks?  He should’ve said something.  I would’ve bought him a coffee…or a donut,” Stiles says, chuckling at his joke.  Derek frowned.  He knew Stiles was trying to make light of whatever was happening, but it really, really wasn’t working.

 

“No, not at Starbucks.  On the side of the road.  With an older gentleman that I’ve personally arrested before,” he said.  Stiles was quiet and Derek could feel his anxiety rising.  Damn it, they were talking about him.  They should have been more careful, he guesses.  But there wasn’t exactly time to be discreet.  Stiles needed help and Derek had been there for him.  They weren’t doing anything wrong, but it probably looked weird to passerby.

 

“Oh, that! That was nothing, really,” Stiles said, busying himself with setting the table.  “Are you staying for dinner?  I made pork chops with veggies on the side.  It just came out of the oven.  It’s all warm and yummy,” Stiles says, evading his dad’s comment completely.

 

“Stiles, is there something you want to tell me?” the Sheriff asks.  The anger still hadn’t left and only grew stronger as his son tried to lie to him.  Derek sat down on the roof and leaned against the house, listening to the inevitable fight that was about to happen.

 

“Like what spices I used on the meat?  You’re totally right.  I should really check the list of stuff you’re allowed to eat.  Are pork chops even acceptable?  Maybe I should have gone with the turkey burgers instead.  Or the veggie burgers! You liked those, right?  I’ll go pick some up,” Stiles rambled, grabbing his keys from the counter.

 

“Stiles, stop.  Answer me right now.  Why were you talking to Derek Hale on the side of the road yesterday?”

 

Stiles sighed, clenching his keys in his hand.  “I told you it was nothing.  The guy was walking to town and stopped me to ask for directions,” Stiles said, his heart skipping on the lie.

 

“Directions to where?”

 

“Starbucks, which is where I was heading anyway,” Stiles answered.  Another lie.

 

“Directions to Starbucks,” his dad repeated.  Derek could hear Stiles nodding, the keys still digging into his palm.  “And all the times my deputies have seen you drive up to the Hale estate?  Coffee directions?”

 

Stiles’ heart beat sped up again, the anxiety engulfing the anger his dad was feeling.  Stiles stuttered for a full 30 seconds before taking a breath.

 

“Well dad, remember I told you how I kind of know him.  Me, Scott, and Isaac hang out with him sometimes,” Stiles mumbled.

 

“Why is a grown man hanging out with a bunch of teenagers?”

 

“Well…when Isaac needed a place after his father died, Derek kind of took him in…and stuff.  That’s why we all hang out now,” Stiles said.

 

“And before that?” the Sheriff asked.

 

“When?  Before what?  No idea what you’re talking about,” Stiles questioned.  “You realize dinner is getting cold, right?  Or like I said, maybe we should get veggi-”

 

“Stiles, stop lying to me!” the Sheriff yelled.  Stiles flinched at the tone.

 

“I’m not lying!  I don’t even know him that well, okay?  I’m not even there a lot!  I only go there when Isaac wants to hang with the guy.  He drags me and Scott along, okay?  It’s really, really not that big of a deal!”

 

“Yes it is, Stiles!  He was wanted for murder.  Something you accused him of, by the way.  Twice!  And now you’re saying you’re all friends?  With a murder suspect?”

 

“He was exonerated.  And we were wrong to accuse him.  Like really wrong, okay?  He’s not that bad of a guy,” Stiles says.  He was defending him?  That was new...

 

“Is this why you’ve been lying to me for almost an entire year?  And sneaking out, skipping classes, and missing your sessions?  Which, yes, I know you stopped going to therapy, Dr. King called me months ago.  I didn’t say anything because I was waiting for you to tell me.  What the hell is going on, Stiles?”

 

“Dad, it’s not-”

 

“Is it drugs?  Are you in a gang?  Because you started hanging out with people I didn’t think you even knew.  And half of them have disappeared.  Did you think I didn’t notice that?”

 

“Dad!  I’m not on drugs and I’m not in a gang, alright?  Why would I do any of that?” Stiles asks, completely bypassing the comment about his missing friends.

 

“I don’t know, Stiles.  Why would you lie to me every day?  You never lied this much before.  Is it…I mean…do you…damn it…” the Sheriff stuttered.  He took a breath before continuing.

 

“Stiles, why did you stop your sessions?” he asked quietly.

 

“I didn’t think I needed them anymore,” Stiles mumbled.  Derek heard the extra beat in his words.

 

“Okay.  So none of this is about…your…the reason I sent you to therapy?” the Sheriff stuttered again.

 

“No dad, that isn’t a problem anymore, I promise,” Stiles says.  Derek detected another lie.  He was starting to get worried now.

 

“Well, good, glad to hear it.  I just want to know what’s been going on with you.  You’re never home and whenever I ask simple questions, you clam up and deflect everything.  Whatever is happening, you can tell me the truth.”

 

“I know I can talk to you, Dad.  But nothing’s going on, I promise,” Stiles mutters.  The Sheriff sighs, his anger changing to sadness.

 

“Right, okay.  I believe you, Stiles,” he says.  Derek slouched as he heard the lie.  That shouldn’t even have to be a lie.  Maybe he should convince Stiles to tell him one of these days.

 

“Are you staying for dinner?” Stiles asks.

 

“No, I’ve got paperwork to do.  I’ll see you tomorrow, I guess,” the Sheriff replied.  Without waiting for an answer, he stormed out of the house, slamming the door once again.  Derek watched as the man climbed back into his cruiser.  He sat for a minute, resting his head against the seat, before driving off.

 

Derek was about to leap off the roof and head back to his house, when he heard glass breaking from inside.  The smell of blood hit him a second later and he instantly climbed through the window.  He raced downstairs, heading for the kitchen.  Stiles was sitting on the floor, glaring at a pile of broken glass by his feet.  He held one of the bigger shards in his right hand, squeezing his fingers around the edges.

 

“Stiles,” Derek said quietly.  The kid startled and quickly got to his feet.

 

“Where the hell did you come from?  Did you climb in my window again?  Dude, that is so creepy,” Stiles said.  He still hadn’t let go of the glass, seeming to have forgotten he was even holding it, even though blood was dripping down his fingers.  Derek approached slowly, gaging his reaction.  Stiles only watched him in confusion, so Derek took it as a good sign.  At least he wasn’t about to be stabbed or anything.  Stiles pressed himself further against the counter when Derek got closer.  It probably wasn’t helping that he wasn’t saying anything.

 

“Stiles, your hand,” Derek said, pointing at it.  Stiles looked to it, surprised at first, before dropping it with a little yelp.  He grimaced as he moved his fingers, but the shining pieces caught his attention.

 

“Shit, what bowl was that?” he asked.

 

“I don’t know.  Does that matter?”

 

Stiles kneeled on the floor, examining the remains.

 

“God-fucking-damn it!” he yelled.  Derek raised a brow, surprised by the outburst.  Stiles got to his feet again, once again glaring at the mess.

 

“Stiles, why don’t you go take care of your hand.  I’ll clean up the mess.”

 

“No!” Stiles shouts.  Derek takes a step back.  “I mean – it’s not – just …” he trails off.  Derek ignores whatever it was, focusing on his hand.  He takes Stiles’ hand in his, making the boy jump.

 

“Come here,” Derek says, pulling him to the sink.  Turning the water on, he cleans the cuts on his fingers, relieved to see that they’re not very deep.  He wraps a dishtowel around his hand, tying it snugly.  The bleeding should stop in a few minutes now that it’s bandaged.  Derek looks back up to see Stiles still watching the mess on the floor.  Derek decides to try again.

 

“Do you want me to…?” he asks, gesturing towards the glass.  Stiles sighs, glancing at him.

 

“Just leave it for now,” he mumbles.  Derek nods, not knowing what else to say.  “Still want dinner?” Stiles asks.  Derek glances at the pork chops, mouth beginning to water.

 

“I can leave if you want me to,” Derek says.  The dinner looked ridiculously good and he was starving, but Stiles was kind of a mess again and Derek didn’t know what to do.  This was different then the panic attack.  Panic attacks he knew how to handle, but something about this was darker.  Whatever it was he really didn’t like it.

 

“No, it’s alright.  I invited you.  Help yourself, I’ll be right back,” he says.  Derek watches as the boy swerves around the glass and strolls out of the room.  Well, he wasn’t going to pass up food, so he started fixing himself a plate.  He kept his ears open, listening to Stiles.  The kid probably left for privacy, but there really wasn’t any with a werewolf in the house.  As he sat at the table, he could hear Stiles lock himself in the bathroom.  He was taking deep breaths, trying to calm his erratic heartbeat.  After about five minutes, he returned with a forced smile on his face.

 

“Is it good?  I hope so, it took forever to make.  But that’s mostly because I burned the first dish, so I had to start over,” he laughed, fixing himself a plate.

 

“Yes, it’s good,” Derek replied, shoveling in another mouthful.  It really was, he wasn’t just being polite.  So, so much better than the deer, he thinks.  They sat in silence for a minute, Stiles fidgeting in his seat.  He was staring again and not concentrating on his food.  Derek chose to ignore it, again.

 

“So, did you have training again today?” Stiles asks.

 

“No, why?”

 

“No reason.  I heard some pretty loud howling earlier.  Figured you and Scott got into it again or something,” he says.  Derek looks up at him, surprised.  He lived on the other side of town.  How had Stiles heard him and Peter from that far away?

 

“No, it wasn’t training,” he says, not wanting to explain.  Now that he thinks about it though, there was supposed to be training today.  Where the hell had Isaac been?  A cold feeling spread through him as the thought plagued him.  Scott wasn’t going to show anymore, so Isaac wasn’t going to either.  Was that really what was happening already?

 

“But it’s Sunday.  There’s always training on Sunday,” Stiles says, looking him over.  Derek just shrugged and glowered at Stiles’ still untouched meal.  He hadn’t finished his dinner last night either.  One more thing that shouldn’t be bothering him and yet it was.  Stiles sighs and glances away.  “Scott didn’t show, right?” he asks.

 

“It’s not a big deal.  Aren’t you hungry?” he asks, changing the subject.  Stiles looks at his plate and then pushes it away.

 

“Not really.  And it is too a big deal.  Scott thinks he can handle everything, but he’s an idiot and he can’t.  But it’s not like he’s going to listen to me.  He never listens to me.  I told him Matt was bad news, but no, Stiles can’t possibly know what he’s talking about.  And I told him it was dumb to date a hunter, but once again, he thinks he knows everything and dates her anyway.  He’s a fucking asshole!” Stiles yells.  Derek is about to interrupt because Stiles is getting himself all worked up, but the kid just keeps going.

 

“And he wants her to train me.  Can you believe that shit?” he asks.  Derek is about to respond, but-

 

“I don’t even want to be in the same room, let alone talk to her.  Then to bring up what we never talk about ever, like it’s no big deal.  Then today he comes over and like a complete dumbass, I was thinking I was about to get an apology.  Well, I did sort of, but you wanna know what came with the apology?  A fucking lecture!  Yeah, that’s right, a lecture.  About how I need to be more sensitive about Allison’s situation.  And then he brings it up again, asking if I’m taking my medication and if everything is okay.  Well, you know what?  Nothing is okay because people keep fucking talking about it.  After I told him to get the fuck out, I was actually having a pretty pleasant day.  But then my dad came back and flipped his shit all over the place.  Which, I’m assuming you heard,” Stiles says, finally taking a breath.  Derek just nods, not knowing what else to do.  This rambling was completely different from the usual.  It was about personal things and not just questions or random comments.  Derek was definitely paying attention.

 

“Right because you were being a creeper and listening outside or something.  Which, ya know, fine whatever, that’s your thing, it’s what you do,” Stiles mumbled.  The chattering suddenly stops as Stiles fidgets with his fork.  Derek shoves food in his mouth, seriously not knowing how to handle this.  “Um, so…sorry…” Stiles says eventually.

 

“For what?” Derek asks.  The kid really needed to stop apologizing for everything.

 

“I just basically freaked out on you.  I don’t normally do that and it was probably really awkward.  Or at least I feel awkward.  So…sorry…again,” he says.  Derek is about to tell him it’s fine, but Stiles gets up and moves across the room, grabbing a broom.  “Right, so I should clean this up.  You keep eating.  Pretend I’m not here,” Stiles says.  Derek looks down at his empty plate, wondering if he should have more.  He was still kind of hungry, but the tension in the room was making him uncomfortable.  Should he leave or should he make sure Stiles is really alright?  Well, obviously he isn’t alright, but Derek doesn’t know how to help.  When did I start caring so much? 

 

Instead of just sitting there, Derek refills his plate and watches Stiles as he attempts to clean.  The boy gravitates towards the mess, prodding it with the broom.  He’s not really sweeping it away, just poking it with the bristles.  Stiles brings out a dust pan and quickly scoops the pieces into it.  He stares at the glistening glass for a moment before letting out an irritated sigh.

 

“Fuck it,” he mumbles and throws the broom and dust pan onto the floor.  He stands, avoiding Derek’s gaze and gathers up his uneaten pork chop.  Stiles places it back in the pan and finally turns to Derek.  His plate is empty once again and he’s satisfied with the meal.

 

“Done?” Stiles asks.  Derek nods and Stiles puts the plate in the sink.  “So, I was planning on having a Lost Girl marathon.  You can join me if you want,” Stiles mutters, still avoiding eye contact.  Is Stiles offering to hang out?  This was weird, right?  Derek was pretty sure Stiles still disliked him.  Maybe that had changed a little?  Once again, Stiles started talking before Derek could respond.  “You probably have important Alpha stuff to deal with, right?  Plus, I’m assuming by the amount of glaring that’s been happening tonight, you still hate me.  Which, that’s understandable.  I did get you arrested twice and never really said sorry for that.  Which, I am, by the way.  But wow yeah you probably have to go.  So, I’ll see you around or something I guess,” Stiles rambled.  Derek stood, locking eyes with the younger boy.  He needed to clarify a few things.

 

“First, I have no idea what Lost Girl is.  Second, I don’t always have ‘important Alpha stuff to do’ as you put it.  And third, I don’t hate you,” Derek says.  Stiles gapes for a minute.

 

“How do you not know what Lost Girl is?  Do you live under a rock?” he asks laughing.  Derek has the urge to laugh with him, relieved that the mood has lightened slightly.  “Come on, the marathon awaits,” Stiles says, bounding into the living room.  Derek sits in one of the corners of the couch while Stiles pops in the DVD.  When he turns around, he glances at the seating options, eventually choosing the other side of the couch, leaving as much space between them as possible.  It’s awkward at first, but once the show starts, Stiles never stops talking.  He frequently pauses it to explain something that Derek already understood, but Derek never interrupts.  After about five episodes of the first season, Stiles is beginning to drift off.  Derek watches for a moment, liking how peaceful he seems when half asleep.

 

Derek grimaces at his thoughts.  The hell was that?  We don’t like Stiles, he’s a child.  His wolf whined loudly in his head.  Derek tells it to shut the fuck up.  He clears his throat as the credits for the episode begin to roll again.  Stiles jerks awake and yawns.

 

“Crap, I fell asleep.  Body jumpers are gross, aren’t they?  Like, who wants to live inside a dead corpse?  It’s sick,” Stiles grumbles as he puts the disk back in its case.  “Want to watch the next one?” he asks, rubbing sleep out of his eyes.

 

“It’s late.  Don’t you have school tomorrow?”

 

“Shit, I forgot.  Summer went by way too fast, man.  Not like it matters.  This summer sucked.  But, dude, you should totally come back to finish watching this.  Then when we’re finished with season one, I can finally start watching season 2.  Season 1 is so good though, you have no idea.  What did you think of Dyson the werewolf?” he asks.

 

“He was alright,” Derek says.  To be honest, he found that character kind of annoying.

 

“Yeah, he’s not my favorite, but he’s pretty cool.  I like Kenzi the best.  She’s completely badass, man.  Who was your favorite?” Stiles asks, plopping down on the couch again.

 

“Trick the bartender was cool, I guess,” Derek answers.  He actually thought the show was pretty good, but he wasn’t going to admit that.

 

“Oh my god, I know, right?  Do you ship anyone yet?” he asks.  Uhhh…

 

“What?”

 

“You know, shipping.  Like a relationship that you ship,” Stiles says.  That really didn’t make sense.  What the hell was shipping and was Derek supposed to be doing it?  At his confused stare, Stiles scrunched up his face as he tried to explain.

 

“It’s like a pairing or a couple that you think would be good together.  For example, I totally ship Bo with Lauren and Kenzi with Hale,” Stiles says.  Okay, it made a little more sense.  He thought about it for a minute.

 

“I don’t know.  Bo would be good with either Dyson or Lauren.  As for your other choice, I hadn’t really thought about it.  Kenzi and Hale have something I guess, but I’m not sure,” he says, then pauses.  “I can’t believe I’m even talking about this,” he mumbles, making Stiles laugh.

 

“Okay, we’ll work on that.  Don’t worry; by the time we finish season 2, you’ll have an entirely new vocabulary and so many ships you won’t know what to do.  Then you’ll find an OTP and eventually die of heartbreak when they never end up together.  It’s how it goes,” Stiles says, still grinning.

 

“If you say so,” Derek says.

 

“Oh I do.  This is happening.  Lost Girl will be a permanent part of your life soon.  Oh and I totally think real werewolves are so much cooler than what Dyson is.  Speaking of, can you actually turn into a wolf now?  Or is it just the beta form still?” Stiles asks around a yawn.

 

“Yes, I can turn into a wolf, but it’s a hybrid of human and wolf, so it doesn’t really look like an actual wolf…” he trails off.  Pretty sure he just confused himself with that explanation.  “Isn’t it passed your bedtime?” Derek asks, a small smile on his face.

 

“Oh wow, you’re trying to be funny.  Don’t do that.  Seriously, my brain can’t handle what’s happening right now,” Stiles says, flailing.  His movements have him falling off the couch, making Derek laugh.  Stiles looks up at him in surprise.  “Dude, I must be more tired than I thought.  I’m pretty sure I just hallucinated that you not only smiled but laughed,” Stiles says, still staring at him.  Derek rolls his eyes and offers a hand to help him from the floor.  “And you’re being nice.  Seriously, this day is so weird,” Stiles mumbles.  Derek huffs at him and nudges him towards the stairs.

 

“Go to bed, Stiles,” he orders.

 

“Yes, sir,” Stiles says, saluting him.  Derek watches as the boy stumbles up the stairs and listens as he flops onto his bed.  Stiles is snoring within minutes, making Derek smile again.  He makes his way to the front door and is about to leave when a photo on one of the bookshelves catches his eye.  He picks it up, carefully handling the delicate frame it’s in.  The majority of the picture is of a beautiful brunette, her mouth wide open as she laughs.  She’s got an arm around a little boy, who he assumes is Stiles around age six or so.  He’s completely covered in flour and he’s just shoved an entire cookie in his mouth.  Light is reflecting off of the dish the cookies have been placed in.  Derek recognizes the pattern on the bowl, which is now laying in pieces on the wooden floor.

 

He gently places the photo back in its place, now understanding Stiles’ reaction.  Derek can understand the loss.  After the fire, he and Laura searched for any items that had survived.  There weren’t many, but the things they had found, Derek still kept hidden in his room.

 

Derek quickly shoved those thoughts away and left.  He ran all the way back to his burnt down home, crashing through the woods.  He slowed as he approached, taking in the ashen view.  Derek hated seeing it this way still, but he couldn’t bring himself to do anything with it.

 

“So, is Stiles a wolf yet?” Peter asked, clomping onto the front porch.

 

“No,” Derek said, glaring at his uncle as he went by.

 

“He refused?  Wow, I figured he would say yes immediately just to get you closer,” Peter laughed.  Derek spun on him.

 

“What the hell does that mean?”

 

“Please, don’t tell me you can’t smell the desire pouring off him anytime you’re within twenty feet of him,” Peter scoffed.  Derek scowled at him.

 

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.  If anything he either fears me or hates me,” Derek says before turning away.

 

“Whatever you say, oh great Alpha,” Peter says.  Derek doesn’t bother to respond.  Peter can think whatever he wants, it doesn’t matter.  Derek shucks off his jacket and flops down on his bed.  Hopefully tonight he could get a few hours of sleep.

 

One hour later

 

So sick of this shit.  Wish something would attack already.  Hate all this waiting around.

 

Two hours

 

I think water is getting into my room.  I really need to fix this place up.  Got plenty of money.  No, what the fuck am I thinking?  I can’t touch that money.

 

Three hours

 

Maybe I should go for a drive.  Can’t sleep anyway.  At least the car still kind of smells like Laura…I can’t do this without her.

 

Four hours

 

I should’ve known better.  Why couldn’t I tell she was a hunter?  No one ever told me about the Argents.  She was only using me.  Her blood is still on the floor downstairs.  I still can’t go near it.

 

Five hours

 

I should be looking for my betas.  Kill the damn Alphas.  And Gerard.  And the rest of the Argents.  And myself.

 

Six hours

 

Scott will never join me.  Why would he?  I should text Isaac tomorrow.  I can’t have him leave too.

 

Seven hours

 

Maybe I should hit up the local bar like I used to.  Find someone to take my mind off everything.  What the hell was Peter talking about earlier?  Stiles isn’t interested in me.  Has he ever even been with anyone?  Oh my god, stop thinking about that.

 

Eight hours

 

Peter’s a dick.  I should kill him again.  Goddamn it, I can’t do that.  What the fuck is wrong with me?

 

Nine hours

 

He’s 16!  Sixteen! His dad would SHOOT me if he knew what I was thinking right now.  And I would let him because I’m a complete pervert.

 

“Derek!” Peter yells and then bangs on his door.  “Are we gonna hunt down breakfast or not?”

 

His uncle’s voice grates on his nerves.  Derek roars at him, probably louder than necessary, but he’s too tired to care.

 

“I’m gonna take that as a no,” Peter mumbles.  Derek hears him leave and run into the forest.  Last night was worse than the others.  He didn’t even get the twenty minutes he usually does.  He considers lying in bed for the rest of the day, but really, how is that going to help?  Derek grabs his phone from the floor and opens a new message box.

 

To: Isaac

11:14 am

-Are you coming to training after school?

 

Derek stares at the ceiling and waits for a response.

 

From: Isaac

12:20 pm

-do u want me to?

 

To: Isaac

12:21 pm

-Yes

 

Derek winced at how needy he was probably being.  But if he couldn’t convince Isaac to stay, then he was left with Peter and no one else.  He really couldn’t handle having only one beta.  Especially not a beta that he couldn’t trust.

 

From: Isaac

12:25 pm

-Ok.  Should I bring Scott?

 

To: Isaac

12:26 pm

-If you can convince him

 

From: Isaac

12:26 pm

-I’ll try.  C u after school

 

Relief flooded through him as he reread Isaac’s messages.  He was coming back and might bring Scott.  Everything would be alright.  Derek lay there for a few minutes, another thought hitting him.

 

To: Isaac

12:20 pm

-Bring Stiles. We’ll teach him to fight too

 

From: Isaac

12:21 pm

-I’ll ask, but he’s still pissed at Scott

 

Derek doesn’t respond and simply hopes that all three boys will show.  He rolls out of bed finally and changes into clean clothes.  Another thing he’s been neglecting: laundry.  Derek opens his door and freezes, staring at the sight in front of him.  Peter is grinning and munching on something.

 

“Toasted waffle?” he asks, holding out the crispy breakfast.  Derek raises a brow and hesitantly takes it.

 

“Where did you get this?” he asks.  Peter rolls his eyes.

 

“There’s such a thing called a grocery store, you know.  I filled the fridge.  That deer yesterday was disgusting.  Pretty sure it was sick, by the way,” he says around a mouthful of waffle.  “Waffle definitely trumps rotting meet,” he says, strolling downstairs.  Derek inspects the food, sniffing it for poisons.  He only smells the chocolate chips inside the toasted bread.  Taking a small bite, he waits for something to happen.  Like him falling to the floor and dying a horrible death.  When nothing happens, he continues eating it, following his uncle downstairs.

 

“So, is training happening today?  That’s always fun to watch,” Peter says, flopping onto the couch and covering his waffle from the dust storm.

 

“Should be.  Isaac is coming and says he’ll try to bring Scott and Stiles,” Derek says, perching on a wobbly chair on the other side of the room.

 

“Good.  What’s the plan?” he asks.  Derek frowns at him.  He never took an interest in training sessions.

 

“Why do you want to know?” Derek asks.  Peter rolls his eyes.  That was getting really annoying.

 

“I figured that if you’re actually going to try to not ‘suck at this’ as Scott said, then I’d help.  They’ll learn faster if I bring my brilliance to the equation,” Peter says, grinning.  Derek scowls at him, but gives a nod in agreement.  At least this way, he would know Peter’s whereabouts for the evening.

 

They literally sit in almost silence for the next 2 hours, occasionally growling at each other.  Peter gives out a particularly vicious snarl, earning him a loud roar, eyes flashing and everything.  At some point they’d gotten up and were mere feet away from each other, half wolfed out, when the front door slammed open.  The boys came rushing in, panicked looks on all their faces.  Peter immediately shifted back, but Derek remained in his beta form, a low growl in his chest until Peter took a step back.  Derek rolled his shoulders, forcing his wolf back down.  He wasn’t sure what any of that had even been about.  The tension in the room had just set him off and he wasn’t able to hold back.  The lack of control had him a little worried, but he chose to ignore it.  Maybe not the best decision, but he wasn’t going to analyze it in front of his pack.

 

“Are we late?” Stiles asks, looking back and forth between the two wolves.

 

“We were just warming up.  I’ll be joining you today,” Peter says, grinning like a madman.  Scott’s shoulders drop and his eyes widen.  Isaac fidgets, throwing worried glances Derek’s way.

 

“Well, that’s just awesome,” Stiles mutters, glaring at Peter.

 

“Enough.  Everyone in the front yard,” Derek says, shooing them out of the doorway.  Once outside, Derek can tell this isn’t going to go well.  Isaac is standing by Scott, who’s watching Peter’s every move.  Stiles has distanced himself, avoiding everyone but Derek.  That was different…

 

Derek ignores it.  “Alright, Isaac will spar with Peter.  Scott, you still need to work on filtering everything.  So I want you to sit and figure out what connections you have.  Stiles, I’ll be teaching you the basics today,” Derek says.  Isaac and Peter are already eyeing each other.  Derek can see Isaac’s inner wolf rising, giving him the confidence to fight his opponent.  They would be fine, as long as Peter didn’t take it too far.

 

“Are you basically telling me to meditate?” Scott whines.  Derek sighs.

 

“It’s not meditating, Scott.  If you’re ever going to filter emotions and scents, you need to at least know who your wolf has made a connection with,” Derek says.  Scott rolls his eyes, but sits at the base of a tree and does as asked.  Derek grabs a baseball bat from under the porch.

 

“Stiles, you take this,” he says, throwing it to the boy.  Stiles fumbles it twice, before finally pulling it against him to catch it.  Derek watches it and can't help but grimace.

 

“Maybe we should start smaller,” he says, taking the bat away.  Stiles stumbles as Derek yanks it a bit harder than he meant to.  Once he rights himself, he gives a thumbs up and a smile.  Derek shakes his head.  How was this kid on a sports team?  Then again, Derek had never seen him play during practice.

 

“Okay, obviously we need to get you in shape before any kind of training,” Derek says.

 

“Did you just call me fat?” Stiles says, an offended look on his face.  “That hurts,” he says, clutching his heart.  Derek can’t help the small smile that forms.

 

“If that will motivate you for the run we’re about to go on, then yes, that is what I’m saying,” Derek says.  Stiles groans the moment he hears the word ‘run’.

 

“Seriously?”

 

“Yes, I can’t teach you to fight if you aren’t in shape.  Unless you want to get hurt.”

 

Stiles rolls his eyes, but eventually nods, gesturing for Derek to lead the way.  They set off at a steady jog into the woods, following a trail Derek has marked.  After only 20 minutes, Derek notices Stiles starting to slow down.  Derek slows, wondering if he’d been going faster than the human could handle.  He thought he’d been going at a decent pace, but Stiles was already out of breath.  Was that healthy for a sixteen year old human boy?  Derek has no idea.  He doesn’t say anything and continues to match the boy’s pace.  After another 10 minutes, Stiles slows to a walk and stops.

 

“Do you even know where we are?” he asks, looking around.  Derek had been following his usual route and glancing around, could tell they were still on it.

 

“Yes, I know where we are.  We’re not gonna get lost.  Now come on,” Derek says, pulling Stiles into a jog once again.  Stiles only makes it another 5 minutes before stopping again.

 

“I think we should go back,” he says between breaths.  Derek looks him over and nods.  He really shouldn’t be this tired after only a 35 minute jog.  Derek sets the pace again and gets lost in the scents of the woods.  He spends a few minutes admiring the trees before he realizes the heartbeat he’d been listening to is fading.  Immediately panicking, he spins around, only to see Stiles no longer with him.  He runs back the way he came, following the sound of the kid’s heart.  Stiles is leaning against a tree, breathing heavily, hands on his knees.

 

“Are you alright?” Derek asks, putting a hand on his shoulder.  No response.  “Stiles?”

 

“Ugh, Derek, no talking,” Stiles says and pushes his hand off.  “Just gimme a minute,” he says.  It takes him a few minutes to get his breath back, but once he does, he quickly straightens up.

 

“Shit, bad idea,” he groans and doubles over again.

 

“Stiles, what’s wrong?” Derek asks.

 

“Just dizzy.  It’ll pass,” Stiles mumbles.  Derek frowns as he looks him over.  He could be dehydrated, or coming down with something, Derek really has no idea.  He’s never been sick a day in his life, unless it was by wolfs bane.

 

“Does this happen a lot?”

 

“Only recently.  I don’t know, maybe it’s the flu or something,” Stiles answers.  Whatever it was, it was making Derek nervous.  He needed to get Stiles back to the house and check him over.

 

“We should get you back.  Maybe you’re just dehydrated,” Derek says.  Stiles nods, standing more slowly this time.  He’s a bit wobbly on his feet, but seems to manage a slow walk.  They make it back to the house with no problems and Derek orders him to sit on the steps.  He grabs a water bottle from the cooler Peter bought and hands it over.  Stiles glares at him, making Derek realize he was staring.  He turns to see how the others are doing, just in time to see Peter pin Isaac to the ground.

 

“I win once again,” the man says, sighing.  “Care to try a little harder?” Peter asks.  Isaac growls and they go at it again.  Derek watches, flinching every time Isaac gets pinned.  Scott eventually moves away from his tree to sit beside his friend on the porch.

 

“Can we talk?” Scott asks.  Stiles shrugs and continues to sip his water.  “Look, I’m sorry about yesterday, okay?  And the day before that.  I just…I know you don’t want to talk about it, but I’m not an idiot, Stiles.  I can see the signs and I wish you’d talk to me,” Scott says.

 

“There’s nothing to talk about, Scott,” Stiles says.

 

“Yes there is!  Clearly something happened and you won’t tell me about it.  You’re freaking me out, man,” Scott says.  Stiles sighs, fidgeting with his bottle.

 

“Just drop it, alright?”

 

“Stiles, if it’s happening again-”

 

“Can we not do this right now?” Stiles snaps and turns to Derek.  “Does your bathroom work?” he asks.

 

“Yeah, up the stairs and to the left,” Derek answers.  Stiles stomps into the house and disappears upstairs.  Scott sighs and slumps on the porch.  Derek wants to check on the human, but decides to give him some privacy.  Instead he focuses on Scott, turning away from the sparring that was still happening.

 

“Did you figure out your connections?” he asks.

 

“Yeah, I think so.”

 

“Good, name them,” Derek orders.  Scott glares, but surprisingly does as he’s told.

 

“Allison, Stiles, Isaac, and you, sort of,” he says.

 

“Alright, have you tested them yet?”  Derek asks.  He takes the blank look as a no.  “Then do it now.  Start with whoever is strongest.”

 

“Allison,” Scott says.  Derek sighs.

 

“Humans are more difficult.  Focus on Isaac instead,” he orders.  Scott frowns, but closes his eyes to concentrate.  Isaac immediately looks up, feeling his friend prod at their bond.  The moment Isaac responds, Scott’s eyes fly open, startled by it.

 

“Okay…that was easier than I thought.  I actually wasn’t sure if that one was Isaac.  It was just a guess,” Scott says, happy over his triumph.  Derek wants to roll his eyes, but doesn’t.

 

“That’s fine.  At least it worked.  Now try me,” Derek says.  Scott makes a face, clearly not happy with that idea.

 

“I’d rather not,” he says.

 

“Why not?”

 

“Because I have no idea which one yours is.  And besides, you’re not my Alpha,” he says.  The words make his wolf whine loudly.  Derek shoves it down, but the hurt still lingers.  Scott looks up at him, surprise flickering across his face.  “I think I found it,” he says.  Derek can feel him exploring the bond, but quickly shuts him out.

 

“That’s enough training for today,” he says, ignoring the hurt look Scott throws him.  Derek was in no way ready to form a proper bond with him yet.  Stiles returns, thankfully breaking the tension.

 

“So, we’re done?” he asks.  He still looks tired, but Derek decides to worry about it later.  He’ll probably check on him tonight sometime...

 

Seriously, what the hell?  Derek should really just leave the kid alone, but something was still bothering him.  Plus he still hadn’t formally invited Stiles to join the pack.  He really needs to do that.  Is right now the time?  No, definitely not.  Later, we’ll just visit him later.

 

“Earth to Derek!” Stiles shouts.

 

“What?”

 

“Dude, I’ve been talking to you for like five minutes.  I realize I’m not very interesting, but if you could pay attention for like half a second, that’d be great,” Stiles says.  Isaac fidgets by his side, not liking the sudden confrontation.  Damn it, Derek really needed to fix things with Isaac too.  He didn’t need to be scared all the time.  Stiles is still saying something, I should pay attention.  “Okay, I’ll ask again.  What are we doing about the Alpha pack?  I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but they’ve been prowling around the barrier.  They keep trying to cross it.  Which I can feel and it’s really irritating, just so you know,” he says.  Is that why he was so angry today?

 

“Wait, they have?  Why haven’t any of you informed me?”

 

“Informed you? I thought you knew!  You’re the Alpha after all.  Aren’t you supposed to be like guarding your territory or something?” Stiles asks.  A growl slips out at Stiles’ tone, but the boy doesn’t back down.  “The mountain ash line isn’t going to last forever, Derek.  We can’t just hide in our little bubble and pretend everything is fine.  We need a plan for when they figure a way around it,” he says.

 

“I know that.  But we still have time.  It won’t matter if we have a plan if not all of you can defend yourselves.  I can’t fight them and protect you at the same time,” Derek yells.

 

“You don’t need to protect any of us.  We survived the last year, didn’t we?”

 

“Not all of you did!  Half of my pack is missing and I have no idea how to find them!”

 

“Well, whose fault is that?!” Stiles shouts.  Derek takes a step back and Stiles clamps his mouth shut.  Stiles looks away from him and Derek is hit with a wave of guilt.  It wasn’t his own for once and it actually wasn’t even aimed at him.  Derek thought Stiles was regretting the outburst, but it was something deeper.  Did Stiles…why would he…Stiles was blaming himself for what happened to them?  Why?  It had nothing to do with him.  Derek was completely at fault, not Stiles.  He can see Scott tilt his head at his friend, clearly putting his training to good use.

 

“Whatever, forget I said anything,” Stiles mumbles and hops into his jeep.  For the second time that week, Stiles drives away from his house angry.

 

“What did he mean?” Isaac asks.  The group looks around at each other, no one having any ideas.  “Should we go talk to him?” he asks Scott.  His friend just shakes his head.

 

“He’s not gonna talk to us.  Besides, his dad took the day off,” Scott mumbles as they walk away.

 

“They’re fighting again?” Isaac asks.

 

“Yeah.  I doubt it’s gonna be a good night,” Scott says.  Derek watches as they disappear down the road, wondering if he should do something (again).  He’s found himself wondering that a lot lately, often doubting himself.  It really wasn’t proper Alpha behavior, but he still has no idea what he’s doing.

 

“Stiles is right you know,” Peter says.  He’s glaring down at his tattered shirt, fingers running over the holes Isaac left.

 

“About what?”

 

“The barrier.  The Alpha pack.  We need to figure something out,” he says.  Derek sighs, knowing they’re both right.  Problem is, he doesn’t know where to start.  Peter suddenly looks up at him.  “Wait, don’t plan anything.  Your plans never work.  Leave it to me,” he says, grinning and bounding into the house.  Derek glares at his retreating form.  His plans sometimes worked…sort of.  Whatever, forget it, let Peter do his thing.

 

Derek heads in for another shower, making sure to keep the cold on this time.  He would sleep later tonight, when he got back from Stiles’.  Thinking back on Stiles’ expression just before he left has Derek rushing to get dressed and head over there.  If Stiles was about to get into it again with his dad, he doubted the kid would be alright tonight.  Derek was still surprised by how much he was learning about Stiles.  He hid behind the sarcasm and his funny personality way too much.  There was so much going on under there and yet he wouldn’t talk to anyone.  Derek was terrible at comforting people, but if he wanted to fix his pack, he had to start somewhere.  Maybe helping Stiles would be a good start.

 

Derek glances at Peter on his way out, seeing the man already looking over maps of the town and researching on his computer.  He was a little nervous about leaving Peter to plan everything, but Derek didn’t have a better option at the moment.

 

As he walked towards the Stilinski house, he could feel the tension about a block away.  It was worse than the night before, but it sounded as if Derek was getting there just as it ended.

 

“Stiles, don’t walk away.  Kid, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have-”

 

The Sheriff was interrupted by the slamming of a door.  Derek hid in the side yard, listening as Stiles locked himself in the bathroom.

 

“Come on, Stiles.  I didn’t mean it that way, okay?”

 

“I’m pretty sure you did,” Stiles says.  Derek could hear the tears he was holding back.

 

“Stiles, I was just…I’m just frustrated.  And I shouldn’t have…she wouldn’t think that, I promise,” the Sheriff whispers.  Stiles doesn’t say anything.  “Stiles, I’m sorry.  Will you please-”

 

He was interrupted again, but this time by a ringing cellphone.  “Damn it, hold on,” he mumbles.  “Stilinski…can it wait...fine, I’ll be there in 10,” he says.  “Stiles, will you please come out of there?  I’ve got to head to the station, but I don’t want to leave like this,” he says.

 

“It’s fine, dad.  I know you didn’t mean it.  Just go to work,” Stiles says and then turns the shower on.  The Sheriff sighs, but doesn’t respond to his son, instead leaving to head to work.  Derek wonders what the fight was about this time, hoping it didn’t have to do with the pack again.  He flinches when Stiles cranks the volume on his stereo.  The Sheriff glances at the house when he hears it.  The man looks utterly defeated as he backs out of the driveway and leaves.

 

Derek climbs the side of the house, sitting by the closed window.  He would go in, but the music is already hurting his ears, so he waits for Stiles to finish his shower.  Derek recognizes this song too.  It was one of his favorites, actually.

 

“Dead star shine…light up the sky…I’m all out of breath…my walls are closing in…days go by…give me a sign…come back to the end…the Shepherd of the damned…I can feel you falling away…”

 

Derek opens up his other senses, tuning his hearing down somewhat.  The instant he lets his sense of smell take over, he freezes.  There was a distinct metal taste in the air.

 

“No longer the lost…no longer the same…And I can see you starting to break…I’ll keep you alive…if you show me the way…forever – and ever…the scars will remain…I’m falling apart…Leave me here forever in the dark…”

 

Should he go in there?  Stiles wouldn’t take it too far would he?

 

“Daylight dies…blackout the sky…does anyone care…is anybody there…take this life…empty inside…I’m already dead…I’ll rise to fall again…”

 

Derek is about to slide the window open, when he hears the shower stop and the volume dim.  He sits back against the house, not wanting to startle the boy if he comes into the room.  There’s shuffling in the bathroom and Stiles heart beat is elevated.

 

“I can feel you falling away...no longer the lost…no longer the same…And I can see you starting to break…I’ll keep you alive…if you show me the way…forever – and ever…the scars will remain…I’m falling apart…Leave me here forever in the dark…”

 

The copper smell increases for a moment, but is eventually dulled as Stiles wraps something over it.  Derek drowns the music out as the chorus plays again, listening to Stiles erratic breathing.  He wonders once again if he should intrude and help the boy.  He settles for slipping inside of the room and waiting in the desk chair.  If Stiles’ pulse begins to drop or anything, then he’ll intervene.  For now, he’ll wait until Stiles returns and hums along with the music.

 

“Give me a sign…there’s something buried in the words…give me a sign…your tears are adding to the flood…just give me a sign…there’s something buried in the words…give me a sign…your tears are adding to the flood…”

 

Derek had gotten lost in the music and his thoughts, which has been happening far too often lately.  He doesn’t hear when Stiles enters the room, until the kid is flailing and talking at him.

 

“Jesus Christ, Derek!  Are you trying to give me a heart attack?  Why the hell are you sitting in the dark, dude?  You realize this is like the second or third time, right?  This is seriously starting to creep into stalker territory.  Do I need to start locking my windows at night?  Not that I mind you being here, but I mean really, make some noise or something.  Or at least turn on the damn light,” he rambles.  Derek honestly hadn’t even realized he’d been in the dark.  His werewolf sight wasn’t hindered by the lack of light.

 

“I can see fine in the dark,” he says.  Yeah, that wasn’t really an answer to Stiles’ ranting.  He just couldn’t think of anything else to say.

 

“Well, that’s great, Derek.  But seriously, is everything okay?  Because you were super weird today.  I literally had to yell at you to get your attention.  What’s up with that?  Usually you tell me to shut up or something, but you’ve been off in your own little bubble today, man.  That’s my job, why are you doing that?” Stiles asks, fidgeting with his shirt.  Derek catches a glimpse of white under his sleeve and frowns.  Stiles shouldn’t have to handle things this way.  What was happening?  How long had he been doing this?  Derek really shouldn’t have sat in this chair.  It was too comfortable and making the exhaustion known.

 

“Derek?” Stiles calls.  He looks up to find Stiles a few feet away.  Just like the other night, he didn’t hear him come closer.  Why does this keep happening?  Why couldn’t he focus?

 

“What?”

 

“I don’t know, you tell me.  Why are you here?”

 

“Um…marathon?” he asks.  His brain was all confused and the only reason he had was that show they’d been watching.  Stiles smiles a little, but it doesn’t reach his eyes.  Derek can smell oranges again.  What the fuck is that?

 

“Why do you smell like oranges?” he asks.  Derek sighs at himself.  Stiles wouldn’t know why he smelled like that.  It was a werewolf thing.  Derek just had to figure it out.

 

“Uh…I don’t know?  Could be my soap?  Although I don’t remember buying citrus scented soap.  Is that what’s bothering you?  Because I can switch to something different.  Is this another wolf thing I’m not getting?” he asks.

 

“No – yes – I don’t know,” Derek says, his eyes flashing in irritation.

 

“Woah, okay.  No need for that.  What was that for?” Stiles asks, arms flailing.  Derek scowls, mostly because he doesn’t know what that was for.  He just gives a shrug, too tired to form an actual answer.  “Right, okay, you just felt like it.  I get it, sort of, not really.  Anyway, you said marathon.  Let’s just stay up here and watch it on my laptop.  That okay?”  Stiles asks.  Derek nods and watches as he sets up the computer, leaning back against his headboard.  Derek panics for a moment, realizing this was probably a really bad idea.  He eyes the window, wondering if he could slip out without Stiles noticing.

 

“Oh, don’t do that.  You came all this way and the next episode is ready to start,” Stiles says.  So much for that.  Derek peers at the empty side of the bed where Stiles is gesturing for him to sit.  Peter would have a field day with this.  Derek hesitantly approaches, but Stiles stops him.

 

“Dude, no shoes on the bed.  And really, the leather jacket?  You’re supposed to relax during a marathon.  That doesn’t look very comfortable,” Stiles says and grins.  Derek glares at him, but complies, taking off his shoes.  He ignores the lingering stare that Stiles gives him when the jacket comes off.  This was such a bad idea.  And yet, I’m not leaving.

 

Stiles places the laptop between them and bounces in excitement as the episode starts.

 

“Oh, oh, this is such a bad episode for Kenzi.  Seriously, it’s like really gross,” he says, touching Derek’s arm and pointing at the screen.  Derek glares at the offending appendage, making Stiles quickly remove it.

 

“Right, no touching.  Staying over here,” he says, keeping a good distance between them.  Derek stays silent through the next five episodes as Stiles chatters non-stop.  This time it’s Derek who’s drifting off by the end of the last episode.  He’s startled awake when Stiles starts yelling at the screen.

 

“Oh my god, why are you listening to her?  She’s an evil bitch.  Dude, I know the new Succubus seems totally awesome, but she’s totally not awesome, okay, trust me,” he rants.  Stiles looks over and quickly pauses the show.  “Dude, it’s only like 10 o’clock, how are you falling asleep already?” he asks, forgetting the ‘no touching’ rule and poking Derek in the arm.

 

“I should go,” he mumbles.  Even Stiles’ rambling wasn’t able to keep him awake.

 

“Oh, right, okay,” Sties says, shutting the laptop.  Derek gets up to leave, but Stiles quickly follows him, grabbing his shoulder to stop him.  Derek glares at the hand, wondering if this touching thing was going to become a habit.  “Um…you can stay…you know, if you want.  Since you’re already tired and it’s pouring rain and I’m assuming you didn’t drive here,” Stiles says, not removing the hand this time.  Derek lets it go and looks out the window.  It was, in fact, pouring.  He thought of his room with the leaky roof and grimaced.  That really did not sound appealing right now.  He glances at Stiles, finally sensing the hope that’s wafting off of him.  Stiles wants him to stay?  Maybe he was still bothered by what happened earlier…

 

“Okay,” he says.  Stiles nods and climbs back on the bed, but Derek ignores the comfort and lies down on the carpet.

 

“Really, dude?  The floor?” Stiles scoffs.  Derek doesn’t say anything because yes the floor.  There was no way he was sharing a bed with an underage boy, even if his smell was intoxicating and making Derek fidget.

 

What the fuck was that?  He does not smell good.  He smells like Stiles, that is all.

 

Somewhere in the dark of his burnt out house, he’s sure Peter is laughing at him.

 

“Fine, suit yourself.  Here, at least take this,” Stiles says, right before slapping Derek in the face with a pillow.  Derek growled, but it only made the kid laugh.

 

“When did you stop being afraid of me?” he blurts out.  Why the fuck did he just ask that?  He really hadn’t meant to say it out loud.  Stiles’ lack of word-filter is rubbing off on him.

 

“Who says I’m not?  You’re a terrifying Alpha, of course I’m scared of you.”

 

“You do realize you just lied to a werewolf, right?  Kind of pointless,” Derek says.  Stiles sighs and shifts on his bed.

 

“Probably that night at the school, when Jackson had us trapped in the pool,” he answers.  Derek still hasn’t forgotten that night.  He was convinced Stiles was going to let him drown, but he had come back and pulled him to the surface yet again.  Derek had listened to his heart beat for the entire 2 hours, finding it surprisingly calming.  Then when Stiles tried to hold on to that bar and slipped beneath the water…he had still been trying to push Derek to the surface.

 

“Why did you do that by the way?” he asks.  This time he knew what he was asking and wasn’t just spilling out words.  Stiles is quiet for so long, Derek would’ve thought he’d fallen asleep, but his pulse had risen with anxiety.

 

“I didn’t want you to die,” Stiles mumbles.

 

“Oh,” is all Derek can say.  They lay in the dark for a long time, neither of them falling asleep.  It takes hours for Stiles to finally drift off, but Derek continues to stare at the ceiling.  His exhaustion from earlier is nowhere to be found and he’s wide awake.  He seems to follow the same pattern as last night, his thoughts running too wild for sleep to come.

 

First hour

 

How does Stiles do it?  Being a human surrounded by the supernatural.  Constantly in danger.  From strangers, from his friends, from me.  And why is it that whenever the wolf is taking over, Stiles’ heart beat can ground me?  It doesn’t always happen, but it happens enough that it’s becoming worrisome.

 

Second hour

 

I think I’ve finally figured out what Orange means.  It’s how Stiles smells when he’s concerned, isn’t it?  I don’t want that, though.  He has too much other stuff going on.  He doesn’t need to worry about me.  If he wasn’t so young, I would’ve probably taken up the offer of the bed.  Just to make sure he was safe.  I can’t believe I’m starting to trust him.  What the fuck am I doing?

 

Third hour

 

I think he’s having a nightmare.  Either that or he’s cold.  Something’s making him shiver and I don’t like it.  I can still smell the blood from earlier.  I probably should have stopped him.  But is it really my place to say anything?

 

Fourth hour

 

His heart beat changed.  I think he’s awake.

 

“Derek, I can practically hear you thinking down there.  What’s up?” Stiles mumbles into his pillow.

 

“Nothing,” Derek answers.  Stiles sighs and peers over the edge of the bed.  He flops down, his arm hanging down to reach the floor.

 

“Dude, you are a terrible liar.  It’s 2 in the morning and you’re still awake.  Did you even realize your eyes were flashing?” Stiles asks.  Derek blinks and glances at him.

 

“No, sorry.  Go back to sleep, Stiles,” Derek says.  Stiles continues to stare at him.

 

“You’re not as in control as you want us to think, are you?” Stiles asks quietly.  Derek doesn’t know how to answer that.  “I’ll take the red eyes as a no,” he says.  “Either that, or you’re about to kill me.  Which, fine by me, it’s been a shitty day anyway.”

 

Derek looks up at him, but his eyes are closed.  He’s still not asleep.

 

“Stiles, I wouldn’t kill you,” Derek says.  Stiles only grunts in response.  “I need to ask you something,” he says and sits up.  The kid blinks his eyes open and squints at him.  “Have you considered becoming a werewolf?” Derek rushes.  Stiles’ eyes widen and he sits up on his elbows.

 

“Is that what that was earlier?  Were you going to bite me?  Because, dude, I think I’d rather you just kill me.”

 

“So you don’t want the bite?” Derek asks.  He can already feel the answer, but his wolf needs to hear it.

 

“I appreciate the offer, I do, but I don’t want to be a werewolf.  My life is complicated enough.  Plus, I really don’t think I’d make a very good wolf.  Besides, you don’t even like me.  Why would you want me in your pack?  I’m annoying and am currently fighting with just about every member of said pack.  If I can’t even manage regular friendships, how the hell would I be an asset in your pack?  It’s just, no, it’s a bad idea, Derek,” Stiles rambles.

 

“If you really don’t want it then I won’t give it, but Stiles…I already…” Derek trails off.  Should he really be saying this?  Stiles was technically a part of Scott’s pack and this would be seriously stepping over the line.  But Scott can’t be an Alpha, at least not yet.

 

“You already what?” Stiles asks.  Derek is going to say it anyway.

 

“I already consider you pack, Stiles,” he says.  He can’t keep eye contact and Stiles is just staring at him, his heart beating like crazy.

 

“Really?” he asks.  The question is so quiet and so full of hope that Derek wishes he had said it earlier.

 

“Of course,” he answers and then lies back down.  Derek rolls onto his back, resting his head on the pillow that has Stiles’ scent all over it.  Stiles lays back down too, his arm still hanging over the bed.  “Oh, okay, cool,” he mutters.

 

Stiles

 

Derek literally just said he was pack.  What the hell was happening?  Stiles figured they were coming out of the hate zone, but he had no idea Derek was thinking that.  His eyes were burning as the new feeling swam over him.  Derek thought he was good enough to not only be a part of his pack, but he offered to turn him too.  This was so bizarre.

 

Stiles looks down to where Derek is laying on the floor.  He was actually glad Derek had opted for the floor.  He may have offered the other side of the bed, but honestly Stiles had no idea what was going on or what he was feeling and Derek being in his bed would have just confused him more.  Derek was still awake and could probably tell he was staring at him.  The thought had his heart jumping in his chest.

 

“Stiles, everything is fine, go to sleep,” Derek says.  Stiles nods and rolls over onto his back.  Sleep, yeah, right, like that was happening.  This entire day had been weird.  It started out like shit, continued to be shitty, and now it was just strange.  School had sucked beyond belief with Scott trying to talk to him every five minutes.  Stiles just honestly wished his friend would go back to ignoring him.  It figures Scott would start paying attention again when Stiles was caving under the pressure.  He had been doing so well for months, even without his sessions.  Then he started fighting with Scott and then his dad and life was seriously a giant shit storm right now.  Last night had been bad, really bad.  The fight with his dad had made the rage come back and he broke that bowl.  If Derek hadn’t been there, he wouldn’t have even realized he’d cut himself with the glass.  He had been completely numb to the pain.  Stiles hadn’t hurt himself for months until that night and was thankful Derek had stayed.  It was weird how Derek kept showing up like that.  Stiles wanted to question it more, but he didn’t want to ruin whatever was happening.

 

Tonight’s fight had been the worst one yet.  His dad found the bowl and Stiles expected him to be furious, but he was only worried.  He didn’t get angry until he found the bottle of whiskey under Stiles’ bed.  Stiles hadn’t even drunk that much of it, not really.  But his dad had been furious, yelling about how he wasn’t old enough and how he wished he would talk to him.  Basically the same thing Scott had said today.  Stiles wants to talk to them, he does, he just can’t.  How do you tell people you’ve thought about ending your life because you can’t take it anymore?  There were no words to describe that feeling.  His dad had really brought out the heavy artillery tonight, bringing up his mother.  Saying that if she could see him, she would be disappointed.  The worst part was that Stiles knew he was right.  His mother would be disappointed.  He was a terrible son and she would probably hate him right now.

 

Stiles’ eyes began to burn and his heart began to race.

 

“Stiles, what’s wrong?” Derek asks.  Stiles’ throat is tight and he can’t answer.  What does he say anyway?  He can’t share any of this with Derek, it’s embarrassing enough as it is.  His breathing quickens as the panic creeps back in.  Stiles digs his nails into his palms until the tiny flashes of pain bring him back to the present.  He didn’t even feel when Derek had reached up and grabbed his hand, prying open his fingers.  “Whatever it is, don’t think about.  Focus on taking deep breaths,” he says.  Stiles instead focuses on the warmth emanating from Derek’s hand.  He finds Derek’s pulse point on his wrist and tries to match his heart beat to the wolf’s.  Even after he’s calm, the man doesn’t release his grip, which Stiles is grateful for.  “Better?” he asks.

 

“Yeah, thanks,” Stiles whispers.

 

“Do you want to talk about it?” he asks.  Stiles sighs and is about to pull away, but Derek tightens his grasp.

 

“Derek, I can’t.  Just not now, okay?” he mutters.

 

“Okay, Stiles.  Try to sleep then,” Derek says.  Stiles rolls over onto his stomach, detaching his hand from Derek’s.  The warm calm feeling suddenly disappears and panicking, Stiles reaches out with his other hand.  He’s surprised to find Derek’s still there, but happy nonetheless.

 

“Night, Sourwolf,” Stiles mumbles before he drifts to sleep.

 

“Good night, Stiles.”

 

Morning

 

Stiles wakes to his obnoxious alarm telling him it’s time for yet another hellish day of school.  He slaps at it and lets his hand fall to the floor.  The floor is warm and soft.  Warm..and…soft?

 

Stiles’ eyes fly open and he quickly retracts his hand.  Derek raises a brow at him.  Right, because the wolf spent the night.  In his room.  On the floor, but still, he basically just had a sleepover with his Alpha.  His Alpha.  Right, because Stiles is apparently pack.  Fucking weird.

 

“Uh, morning,” he says.

 

“Stiles,” Derek says and nods.  Damn, his voice was all raspy from disuse and his hair was all tousled.  Stop looking before this becomes awkward, he thinks.  Oh, who am I kidding, everything is already awkward.  I basically freaked out on him again last night.  And he held my hand.  Until I fell asleep.  What the fuck.

 

“So, is my dad home?” he asks.  Derek tilts his head.  Don’t make a dog joke right now.

 

“No, not yet.  What time does he usually come home?”

 

“Afternoon probably, I don’t know,” Stiles mumbles.  Yeah, he really didn’t want to talk about his dad anymore.  “Want breakfast?” he asks.  Might as well offer.  The dude spent the night in his room after all.  Not like that, you idiot.

 

“Sure,” Derek says.  Holy crap I didn’t actually expect him to say yes.  Stiles quickly rolls over, pushing the covers off.

 

“Okay, I’m gonna take a shower and then I’ll make breakfast,” he says around a yawn.  He grabs a change of clothes (because there was no way he was letting Derek see him without all his layers on) and heads down the hall.  The first thing he does is check on his wrist, prying the bandage off.  It stopped bleeding, so he removed it, caressing the jagged edges down his forearm.  Shaking off the feeling, he pressed play on his iPod, turning the volume to a decent level before stripping down and turning the water on.

 

“When everything turns to black…you don’t know where to go…you need something to justify your soul…silences are broken…confidence is gone…when everything you’re holding on to falls…”

 

Stiles steps under the hot stream of water, swaying to the music as he massaged the shampoo into his hair.

 

“All the people selling truths…on every corner now…they wait until the fear has knocked you down…”

 

The soap stings his wrist, but he figures it’s good to clean it.

 

“All the rules are changing now…You’re living in sin…everything around you is caving in…and all you’re holding onto, slipping like water through your hands…”

 

Stiles was really not looking forward to today.  Nothing ever good happens on a Tuesday.  Scott would be there, hanging all over Allison, with Isaac tagging along.  Maybe he shouldn’t even go.  Stiles hums along with the chorus, not even trying to hit that high note.  He resumes his singing when the next verse comes on.

 

“Far off in the distance…somewhere you can’t see…allegiances have formed your destiny…opposition all around…feeding off your soul…trying hard to swallow up you whole…and the demons all around you waiting…for you to sell your soul…”

 

Stiles rinses off as the singer once again goes into the chorus.  He steps out of the shower, quickly towels off and finds new bandages to apply to his wrist.  He dresses just as fast, avoiding his reflection and stopping the music.  He can’t bear to see how pale and skinny he’d become.  Stiles couldn’t admit to Derek yesterday that it was another migraine that had him stopping their run.  He’d been getting them often, causing the dizziness and nausea.  The nausea stops him from eating and the no eating causes the migraine, which causes the dizziness.  It was a vicious cycle that had become a permanent part of his daily life.

 

“Hey Derek, shower’s free if you want it,” he calls.  Do not think about what you just said.  That road only leads to unbearable awkwardness and probably a good amount of humiliation.  Derek nods and shoves by him to reach the bathroom.  Okay, so we’re back to broody Alpha Derek, good to know, Stiles thinks.  It only takes him a few minutes to head downstairs and put four waffles into the toaster.  Stiles leans against the counter, determined to not think about a Greek God using his shower.

 

He hears music playing, perfectly distracting him from his dangerous thoughts.  Was Derek using his iPod?  Oh, that’s embarrassing.  I wonder what song he chose.  Stiles shuffles closer to the stairs to listen.

 

“I’ve been believing in something so distant…as if I was human…and I’ve been denying this feeling of hopelessness…in me, in me…”

 

Stiles is surprised to find that it’s a song he listens to quite often.  Derek likes the same music?  Or at least doesn’t hate his musical taste?  Interesting…

 

“All the promises I made…just to let you down…you believed in me, but I’m broken…”

 

Stiles wonders if Derek chose the song for a reason or just out of randomness.

 

“I have nothing left…and all I feel is this cruel wanting…”

 

The song kind of fits the Alpha, Stiles thinks.  His heart pounds along with the rhythm.

 

“We’ve been falling for all this time…and now I’m lost in paradise…”

 

He thinks back on the last few days.  Something had changed in Derek.  He wasn’t as rough around the edges.  There were still a million walls around him, but he wasn’t as gruff with everyone, or at least not with Stiles.  The first night had just been shocking with how much information Derek shared.

 

“As much as I’d like the past not to exist…it still does…and as much as I’d like to feel like I belong here…I’m just as scared as you…”

 

Then the next night was so different.  Derek was actually trying to help him, even though Stiles really didn’t want him to at first.  Then the wolf actually stayed and hung out with him.  Stiles wants to thank him for being around so much, but he doesn’t want whatever this is to get awkward.  He’ll admit that if Derek hadn’t stayed over that second night, his bad habit would’ve started even sooner.

 

“I have nothing left…and all I feel is this cruel wanting… We’ve been falling for all this time…and now I’m lost in paradise…”

 

Stiles thinks about yesterday during training.  Derek was actually worried about him.  Stiles doesn’t want more people to be worried about him.  He just wants them to forget he’s there, so he can eventually just drift away and no one will notice.

 

“Run away, run away…one day we won’t feel this pain anymore…”

 

His father was right.  His mother would be appalled if she knew what he was thinking.  She had never taken the easy way out and had suffered for years until her illness took her.  Why can’t Stiles be more like that?  Strong, like his mother, or even his father.  The man had lost the woman he loved for 20 years and was still holding on, probably for Stiles.

 

“Take it all away…shadows of you…cause they won’t let me go…”

 

Stiles traces the bandages on his arm again.  He had so wanted to use his blade again last night, but didn’t want to do it in front of Derek.  The wolf had actually tried to comfort him again.  That should really be the other way around.  Derek has lost so much more than I have.  But still, he couldn’t help but wonder how far he would’ve taken it, if the man hadn’t kept hold of his hand.  When he tried to pull away, Derek had held on.  He stayed the entire night too.

 

“Until I have nothing left…and all I feel is this cruel wanting…we’ve been falling for all this time…and now I’m lost in paradise…alone, and lost in paradise…”

 

But Derek didn’t have to be alone anymore.  He was finally starting to bring his pack together.  Which Stiles was a part of apparently.  He was kind of wondering how Scott was going to take that news, but was pulled from the thought by the toaster dinging.  Just as he was putting the waffles on plates, Derek appeared hair still damp and shirt sticking to him.  And we’re not looking anymore, Stiles thinks.  Derek pulls on his jacket and grabs a waffle, not adding any butter or syrup.

 

“No butter?  No syrup?  Just plain?  Live a little, dude,” he says.  The wolf declines and just munches on his plain waffle.  Stiles was dismayed.  Who eats plain waffles?  Stiles slathers a good amount of butter on his and pours a ridiculous amount of syrup on them.

 

“Healthy,” Derek mutters, glaring at his plate.  Stiles just scoffs at him and digs in, glad to have his appetite back.

 

“I have Harris for chemistry again this year.  The guy is a total dick.  He gave me detention every day last year.  I don’t expect it to be any different this year.  Oh, but they got new vending machines.  Hopefully these won’t steal my candy,” Stiles says.

 

“Like you need candy,” Derek says, smirking.

 

“And there’s the Alpha we all know, welcome back.  So, I was thinking I should probably apologize for yesterday,” he says.

 

“For what?” Derek asks.  Every damn time.  Seriously, every time he’s apologizing for something, Derek has no idea what he’s talking about.

 

“For flipping out on you.  Twice, I might add.  I shouldn’t have questioned you about the Alphas.  It really wasn’t my place,” Stiles says.  Derek sighs and sits on one of the bar stools.

 

“Stiles, it’s fine.  You’re allowed to state your opinion.  Besides, it was you who put the barrier up.  If you think it won’t hold, then we’ll do something,” Derek says.

 

“Oh, it’s definitely not going to hold.  And do what?  We can’t fight a pack of Alphas, Derek!” Stiles says.  He realizes he’s shouting, but can’t help himself.

 

“I’ve got Peter working on it, alright?”

 

“You what?  Derek, you can’t be serious.  What if he’s working with the Alphas?  How did he even know they were coming?  Why are you trusting him all of a sudden?!”

 

“I don’t trust him, Stiles!  But if I know where he is, then there’s less of a chance he’ll turn on me.  He’s focused right now and that’s a good thing.  And no, I don’t know how he knew, but what do you want me to do, ask him?  If he is working with them, then he’s not going to tell me the truth,” Derek yells.  Damn it, this was not how Stiles wanted this conversation to go.  He takes a breath, noticing Derek do the same.

 

“Okay, you have a point.  I just don’t want us to be blindsided when they finally attack, okay?  We’ve been sitting here for months and the Alphas are just now trying to break in.  Why would they wait that long?  What were they doing?  And once they get in, what then?  Is it just a big giant attack where they try to take us all out?  Derek, we don’t even know what they want.”

 

“They want me,” Derek mutters.  Stiles freezes, fork halfway to his mouth.

 

“How do you know that?” he asks.  Derek sighs, and starts eating his second waffle.

 

“I don’t for sure, but what else could it be?  They could just want to kill us, I don’t know,” Derek says.

 

“Oh, awesome, that was very helpful,” he scoffs.  ” Neither of those situations are good, Derek.  We need to prepare or something.  You know, go all military style on their asses.  Mountain ash, wolfs bane, guns, grenades…a tank!”  Stiles yells.

 

“Stiles, calm down.  First of all, the only people who have any of that stuff are the hunters.  You really want to bring them into this?  The first chance they get, they’ll turn on us.  Isn’t that what you’ve been trying to get Scott to understand?”

 

“I wasn’t suggesting we work with hunters, Derek!  I’m not a complete idiot, okay?  And FYI Deaton has some of that stuff too,” Stiles says.

 

“Stiles, damn it, I told you to stay away from him!”

 

“I have!  But it’s stupid, Derek.  I have all this potential magic to use or whatever and I’m not learning how to use it.  If he teaches me, then we’ll be more pre-”

 

“I said no, Stiles!”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Because I don’t trust him!”

 

“Derek, you don’t trust anyone!”

 

“And for good reason!” Derek shouts.  His eyes were flashing and they were both breathing hard.  Stiles really hadn’t meant to start another fight.  Derek was just so stubborn and Stiles wasn’t having any of it.  This was complete bullshit.

 

“This is bullshit,” he says, looking away from Derek.  “I’m gonna be late.  I’ll see you later,” he says, grabbing his bag and heading for the door.  His head was pounding and the syrup was making his stomach churn.  If he was lucky, he wouldn’t throw his breakfast back up on the drive to school.  He really didn’t want to have to clean it out again.  Stiles left the house, slamming the door behind him, not caring that Derek is just chilling in his house right now.  He drives to school in silence, eventually parking in his usual spot.  The Porsche that used to sit next to his Jeep is still missing.  No one knows where the ex-kanima is, but Stiles is guessing the Alphas have him.  Along with Boyd and Erica, his potential cat woman.  He wasn’t really interested in her, but she would’ve made a good friend eventually he thinks.  Stiles was still reeling from his post-Lydia meltdown and now this new thing with Derek was really fucking confusing.  Not that Derek would ever be interested because hello, body of Adonis.  Besides, Derek was too damn frustrating.  He was either weirdly nice or stubborn as hell and Stiles just didn’t want to deal with his mood swings.  Stiles glances at his watch.

 

“Fuck!  I am so getting detention,” he grumbles.  He was already 10 minutes late to Harris’ class of all things.  He’s not even going to rush because the detention is inevitable.  Stiles walks in the door and sits himself across the room from where Scott usually sits.  He’s relieved yet worried at the same time to find his friend not here already.

 

“Mr. Stilinski, late again.  I’m looking forward to another year of detentions, how about you?” Mr. Harris says.  Stiles just rolls his eyes at him, not bothering to comment.  “Oh, we’re starting early today I see.  You can expect an extra 10 minutes during detention today,” he says, grinning.  Stiles slumps on his stool, still not bothering to comment.  Harris is thankfully distracted by the next late arrival, which happens to be Scott.

 

“Mr. McCall, so nice of you to join us.  I got the most interesting call last night, by the way,” he says, smirking.  Scott dumps his bag onto the floor and glares at Harris.  “My old friend David McCall called and said he was returning to Beacon Hills.  I’m glad to see you’ll have an actual authority figure around the house again,” he says.  Scott ignored him and pulls out his notebooks.  Stiles is massively confused.  He had no idea Scott’s dad was back.  That couldn’t be pleasant.  He would ask how it was going, if he wasn’t still pissed at him.

 

“Mr. Lahey and Mr. Mahealani, you’ll be joining Mr. Stilinski for detention.  Let’s try to show up on time, from now on?”  he asks, all pleasant.  Stiles glares at his back, really wishing he had something to throw.  Isaac throws a glance to Danny before sitting beside Stiles.

 

“You’re not gonna yell at me if I sit with you, are you?” he asks, laughing slightly.

 

“No, Isaac.  You’re free to sit wherever you want,” Stiles says.  He’s not really mad at Isaac, just Scott.  As long as Isaac sticks to basic conversation, then he won’t need to yell.

 

“Why do you smell like Derek?” he asks.  Stiles glares and flips open his textbook, ignoring the question.  “Okay then, how about are you coming to training again?”

 

“I don’t know.  Probably not,” Stiles says.

 

“You can’t avoid him forever, Stiles.”

 

“I’m aware of that, thank you,” Stiles snaps.  Too loudly apparently because Harris turns around with his permanent scowl in place.

 

“Make that 20 extra minutes, Stilinski,” he says and then turns back to the chalkboard.  Such a monumental dickbag, Stiles thinks.  Isaac is thankfully quiet for the next 10 minutes until his phone vibrates.  He reads whatever it says then turns to Stiles.

 

“Derek wants you to be at training.  No arguments,” he says.

 

“Yeah, well, Derek can go fuck himself,” Stiles whispers.

 

“Stiles, is everything okay?” Isaac asks.

 

“Oh, for fucks sake, seriously?” Stiles asks.

 

“Don’t do that with me, Stiles.  I’m just trying to be your friend, okay?”

 

Stiles sighs, realizing yes he was being a total ass to Isaac right now.

 

“I know, but everything is fine.  Can we get back to the experiment now?  Oh, look, your beaker is bubbling over,” he says, pointing at the mess in front of Isaac.  Totally just saved by a sticky pile of goo, he thinks.  Isaac calls for Harris, who glares at them, but helps clean the mess.  The bell rings a minute later and Stiles bolts for the door.  He takes a lap around the school, avoiding all of his usual in-between class hangouts.  After about 3 minutes, he trudges into his class, once again picking a seat away from Scott.  His friend doesn’t even seem to notice, too wrapped up in Allison’s glowing pink skin and dark curls.  This was the first time Stiles had seen her since everything went down and he had to admit, she was different.  Much more subdued and she didn’t smile as much.  He did notice that Lydia was talking to her again, which was good, he guesses.

 

Stiles is distracted when Danny takes the seat in front of him.  He hadn’t seen much of Danny over the summer either, which made sense.  They hadn’t really been friends before everything happened, so it would make sense that this was still the case.  To his surprise though, Danny turns around with a bright smile.

 

“Hey, Stiles.  How was your summer?” he asks.  Okay, really confused.  Danny had never voluntarily talked to him before.

 

“It was fine.  And yours?” he asks.  Danny’s smile falters and he sighs.

 

“Okay, let’s skip that.  Have you heard from Jackson?” he asks.  And there it is.  He only wants to know about Jackson, well that’s fine.  We aren’t friends anyway.

 

“No, why would I have?  We’re not exactly friends,” Stiles says, fidgeting in his seat.  No, he hadn’t heard from the were-lizard, but he had a pretty good guess as to what happened.

 

“That’s not really true.  He spent a lot of time with you and McCall before summer break, though I have no idea why.  One minute he hates you, the next you’re all buddies.  What’s up with that?” he asks.  

 

“Um, it was just because of Scott really.  Pretty sure Jackson still hates me,” Stiles answers.  What the hell was he supposed to say?  Sorry, your friend turned into a murderous lizard, died, and then became a werewolf, only to be kidnapped by bigger and badder werewolves?  Yeah, no, he can’t say that.

 

“Fine, whatever.  I already asked Scott.  No one knows where Jackson is.  It’s not like him to run away.  He would’ve told me if something was wrong,” Danny says.  Stiles can’t help but glance at Scott, who shrugs at him.

 

“Sorry, buddy, I don’t know anything,” Stiles says.  Danny is about to say something else (like call Stiles out as the horrible liar he was) when the classroom door bursts open, making everyone flinch.

 

“Pop quiz!” Finstock yells.  Everyone groans.  What the hell could it be on?  It was only the second day of class!  “Oh, don’t give me that.  It’s easy, I promise,” he chuckles and then looks up at them.  “Or not, depending on how well you did last year in Economics 1.  But this, my students, is Economics 2.  If you aren’t prepared to work until you die, I suggest you drop out,” he says, grinning.  Finstock begins handing out papers, still laughing at his joke.  Stiles rolls his eyes, the guy was so weird, but at least he never got detention from him.

 

“Hey Danny,” Isaac whispers from behind Stiles.  The boy in front of him spins around, already smiling at the wolf.  “Did I leave my calculator at your place?” he asks.  Danny nods and digs through his bag to retrieve it.  They continue to smile at each other, until Stiles clears his throat.  Danny blushes and turns forward.  Wow, that wasn’t obvious at all, Stiles thinks.  But good for them, at least someone was having luck in that department.

 

“Isaac!” Finstock yells.  Stiles can feel the boy flinch behind him.  “I know Danny is hard not to stare at, but keep your eyes on your paper,” he says.  The class chuckles, making Finstock realize what he just said.  “Oh, you know what I meant.  Back to work!” he yells.  Stiles looks down at his quiz, easily recognizing the formulas from last year.  He finishes within a few minutes and turns his paper over.  Stiles glances around the class, growing bored.  He notices Lydia was finished before him, because of course.  Stiles watches as she twirls a strawberry blonde lock around her finger.  She catches him staring and glares at him.  Seriously, if looks could kill, he would’ve died back in the third grade.

 

“Times up!” Finstock yells.  Half the class groans again, having not been able to finish.  Stiles didn’t even pay attention to the rest of the class, even though Finstock was all over the place, shouting about who knows what.  He was more worried about lunch to be honest.  He avoided the cafeteria like the plague yesterday, skipping lunch and reading in the library.  He supposes he could do that again, but Isaac was right earlier.  He can’t avoid Scott (and Allison) forever.  The bell rings and Stiles is the first one out again, reaching the cafeteria before any of his friends.  He quickly pays for the chicken strips the lunch lady hands him and finds an empty table.  This way he wouldn’t need to decide whether or not to sit with them.  They could come to him if they wanted.  The first to join him, surprisingly, was Lydia.

 

“Stiles,” she says, unpacking her lunch of veggies.

 

“Hey, Lydia,” he says, smiling.  His crush had, in fact, withered and died (mostly), but he still thought she was completely awesome and they might be friends if she gave him the time.  “So, how was your summer?” he asks.

 

“Fine,” she says.  Lydia begins to munch on a carrot, effectively ignoring him once again.

 

“Awesome,” he says, nodding.  And now I look like an idiot, story of my life, he thinks.  The next two to show were, unfortunately, Scott and Allison.  Scott sits across from him, Allison attached to his hip.

 

“Hey,” Scott mumbles.

 

“Hey,” Stiles repeats.

 

“Hi, Stiles,” Allison says, a shy smile on her face.  Damn it, why does she have to be so cute all the time?  He blinks and suddenly sees a bow and arrow in her hand.  It’s gone just as fast as it appeared, telling Stiles it was just in his head, but it was still unnerving.  It severely ruined the cute factor.

 

“Allison,” he greets.  He shoves a chicken strip in his mouth, but it tastes ashy.  Stiles chews and swallows it anyway.  They sit in awkward silence until Isaac and Danny show up.

 

“Hey Isaac, I was thinking of a double date tonight?” Scott asks.

 

“Uh, I thought we had other plans, Scott,” Isaac says, raising his brows.  Scott frowns.

 

“We don’t have to go every day, Isaac.  Skipping it every once in a while won’t kill anyone,” Scott says.

 

“Nice choice of words, buddy,” Stiles comments.  Because it could most definitely get someone killed if they didn’t start training harder.  Scott glares at him, stopping Stiles mid-bite.  That wasn’t just any glare.  That was I’m trying really hard not to yell at you glare.  Stiles gave it right back.  If anyone had the right to be angry, it was him.

 

“It’s none of your business, Stiles,” Scott says.  Stiles snorts and drops his chicken back onto his tray.

 

“None of my business,” he repeats, a disbelieving smile on his face.  Is this really happening right now?

 

“Why do you even care?  You don’t do anything there anyway.  I don’t see why you even go,” Scott says.

 

“Well, I thought I was there to support a friend, but clearly that’s not the case,” Stiles says, still staring wide-eyed at his ‘friend’.  Was it a full moon or something?

 

“That’s not support, Stiles.  You just want me to fall in line and bow down to Derek.  Well, it isn’t happening because the guy is a total dick,” Scott says.

 

“You still think you can do this on your own, don’t you?” Stiles asks.

 

Not on my own, Stiles.  We can do this ourselves.  We don’t need Derek for everything.  I know you think I’m a complete dumbass, but I’m not, alright?  I’ve already started working on a plan with Allison and her dad.  They’ve been a lot more helpful than Derek’s been,” Scott says.

 

“Oh, shit,” Isaac mutters and pulls Danny’s sleeve.  “Hey, let’s go eat in the courtyard, okay?” he asks.  Danny glances around at the others, but eventually shrugs and leaves with Isaac.  Lydia is still crunching on her veggies, but stays to watch the fight unfold.  She knows everything anyway, it doesn’t matter.  Stiles is fuming.  He cannot believe what he just heard.

 

“Have you heard nothing I’ve said the past 2 days?” Stiles asks.  Scott rolls his eyes, clasping Allison’s hand in his.

 

“I get you’re pissed about everything, but don’t you think you’re being a little over-dramatic?  Allison is making up for everything by helping with this plan.  And her dad…well…that’s still a work in progress,” Scott says.  Allison winces, not making eye contact with anyone.  Stiles seriously wants to punch someone right now.

 

“Okay, Scott, tell me what this master plan is?” he asks.  His friend fidgets, uncertainty written all over his face.

 

“Well, I don’t know all the details, but Mr. Argent has a ton of stuff prepared in his basement.  You should come check it out after school,” Scott says.  Allison grimaces and looks at Stiles.

 

“Stuff prepared in his basement,” Stiles repeats.  Yeah, no way in fuck was he ever going back there.

 

“Stiles, it’s okay, you don’t have to,” Allison says.  Her voice morphs into a pitiful whimper by Erica and Stiles really needs her to stop talking.

 

“Scott, how do you not know all the details?  I thought this was your plan,” Stiles says.  Though he was talking to the wolf, his eyes never left Allison’s face.

 

“It was, but Allison took over.  Which I think is a good thing considering none of us know how to stop a pack of Alphas.  But they know what they’re doing, they can protect us,” Scott says.  Stiles can see the guilt on Allison’s face as she detaches her hand from Scott’s.

 

“So, you plan on protecting the pack, Allison?” he asks.  Allison raises a brow at him, the cold exterior slipping back in place.

 

“No, I don’t,” she answers.  Scott looks at her, surprise and fear on his face.

 

“What do you mean?”  Scott asks.  Allison sighs, her shoulders slumping as she turns to her boyfriend.

 

“Scott, I will protect you, I promise.  And Lydia and Stiles as well.  But I won’t protect Derek’s pack.”

 

“What about Isaac?” Scott asks.

 

“If he chooses to leave Derek, then I’ll consider it,” she says.  Stiles isn’t even surprised by her words.

 

“Well, that shouldn’t be a problem much longer.  I’ve been talking with Isaac and he’s considering joining us instead.  He just doesn’t know how to tell Derek,” Scott says.  Stiles heart begins to race and his body goes cold.  Isaac was leaving Derek’s pack?  When had that happened?

 

“Oh, well that’s great.  I hope he chooses wisely,” Allison says, smiling.  She pecks Scott on the cheek, who grins stupidly.  Stiles wants to throw up.

 

“Scott, you can’t be serious,” Stiles says quietly.  Scott’s smile drops when he turns to his friend.

 

“Stiles, I promise this will work out.  Now that we have Isaac, you’re in even less danger.  That’s a good thing, right?  Plus, Allison just said she would protect you too.  So, no worries, man,” he says, taking a sip of his milk.

 

“What about Derek, Scott?” he asks.  Allison looks up at him, frowning.

 

“What about him?” she asks.  Stiles has seriously had it with her and her huntress attitude.

 

“I don’t believe I was talking to you, Allison,” he snaps.  Scott’s eyes flash for a moment at Stiles’ tone.

 

“Back off, Stiles,” he growls.  Stiles transfers his glare to Scott, placating the wolf.

 

“How the fuck is Derek supposed to fight 5 Alphas by himself?  Have you even thought of that?  If you take Isaac, Derek is left with his uncle, who no one can trust.”

 

“That’s his own fault, Stiles!  I’m not responsible for him.  I don’t owe him anything!” Scott shouts.  They were drawing unwanted eyes from the other students, but Stiles honestly couldn’t care less.

 

“Did you forget the part where he saved your life?  If he hadn’t run back for you that night at the rave, you would be dead right now!” he shouts.  Scott looks away at that, not having an argument.  “And after all that, you’re just gonna leave him to die?  He doesn’t deserve that, Scott!”

 

“My mother didn’t deserve it either,” Allison says.  Stiles sighs and lowers his voice.

 

“Allison, I’m sorry that happened, I really am, but that isn’t Derek’s fault.  She was killing Scott and Derek was only trying to stop her.  You really think he wanted to give the bite to a hunter?  Why would he want that?  It was her own decision to die instead of living as a werewolf,” Stiles says.  Before he could even finish the last word, Allison had reached across the table at him, drawing a small blade.  Stiles gulps as the metal connects with his skin.

 

“How dare you,” she whispers.  Stiles is saved when Isaac rushes in, grabbing Allison’s wrist and snatching the knife away.  He quickly hides it in his waistband, concealing it from the crowded room.  By now, all eyes were on their table and the room had gone silent.  Stiles and Allison were standing on opposite sides of the table, breathing hard.  He watched as tears filled her eyes, supposedly realizing what she had just done.  Stiles might have felt bad, if it weren’t for the complete panic that was still lodged in his chest.  Before he could completely lose his shit in a room full of people, he grabbed his bag and ran for the door.  He ignored Scott and Isaac’s pleads for him to come back.  Stiles kept running until he reached the exit, not slowing until he was outside.  When he turned the corner, he walked right into a solid wall of muscle, making him yelp in fear.  He blinks, trying to focus and finds a black leather jacket and stubble in front of him.

 

“D-Derek?  What are y-you doing here?” he stutters.  Stiles can’t catch his breath, heart racing, head pounding.

 

“Stiles, you’re shaking,” he says.  Derek reaches for him, but Stiles flinches away on instinct.  His body was running on high alert, detecting everything as a threat.  “I’m not going to hurt you,” Derek says, hesitantly moving forward.  Stiles holds perfectly still, fighting the urge to run as Derek steps into his space.  He winces as pain shoots through his chest, making him cough and his eyes water.  Everything is spinning and Stiles quickly turns to the side, vomiting his lunch into the bushes.  Breakfast makes itself known as well and Stiles can’t breathe and his heart is pounding so loud he can hear it and the pain in his head is blurring his vision and he wonders if this is how he’ll die.

 

“Stiles!” Derek shouts.  The noise stabs into his brain and he can feel hands pulling at him.  He’s suddenly engulfed in warmth and he quickly grabs onto it before it can leave.  “Just breathe, Stiles.  You’re gonna be okay, just breathe,” he says.  Stiles digs his fingers into the man’s back, feeling the other’s chest move against his own in a slow rhythm.  He can hear Derek breathing and latches onto it, blocking out everything else.  After a few minutes, he can finally breathe again, the pain in his chest slowly subsiding.  His face flushes with embarrassment as the tears he was holding back silently spill over.  He tenses again, hating being like this in front of Derek.  “It’s okay, Stiles.  Everything is okay,” Derek whispers.  The words make him cry harder, shaking in the man’s embrace.  He doesn’t understand why the wolf is being so nice to him.  He’s a useless human who only gets in the way and everyone would be better off without him.

 

“Tell me what happened,” Derek says, pulling away to look at him.  Stiles refuses to meet his eyes, instead staring holes into his chest.  Which Stiles now realizes is really close to his face.  In fact, Derek’s entire body is pressed against him, making him just now comprehend that they had been hugging.  Stiles is surprised to find that he already misses the warmth of Derek’s arms around him.  Well, that’s fucking confusing.  “Hey, you with me?” Derek asks, trying to meet his gaze.  Stiles wants to laugh at the question because yes he is most definitely aware of Derek right now.

 

“Yeah, I’m good,” he mumbles, pulling away.  Derek frowns and momentarily clings to him.  Stiles glances down at the hand that’s trying to pull him back and Derek quickly drops it.  He’s shocked to see the man’s cheeks turning a faint pink.  Did they just have a moment?  Holy shit, they totally did.  Stiles has a mini freak out in his head at the thought.  Derek shoves his hands in the pockets of his jacket and looks him over again.

 

“You gonna tell me what happened?” he asks.

 

“Just a fight with Scott.  It’s not a big deal,” he mumbles.  He chooses to leave out the part with the insane hunter and her knife.

 

“About what?” Derek asks.  Stiles freezes, remembering the conversation about Isaac.  He was so not gonna bring that up right now.  Derek shifts nervously on his feet.  “Have you seen Isaac today?”

 

Stiles really wants to bash his head against the brick wall.  Werewolves couldn’t read minds, right?  Why was Derek asking him that?  Alright, don’t freak out, just answer honestly.  Maybe Derek already knows.

 

“Yeah, I saw him.  Why?” he asks.  Derek is about to answer, when their space is crowded by the very people Stiles just ran away from.  He rolls his eyes because of course they couldn’t take a hint.  At least Allison has the good sense to stay behind everyone else, keeping her distance.  She gives Derek a nervous glance, but doesn’t make a move or anything.  Isaac cringes when he sees Derek, who is scowling more than before.  “Isaac,” he greets.

 

“Uh, hey Derek,” the boy mumbles.  Derek holds up his cellphone, waving it at the other wolf.

 

“This text?  Not funny,” he says.

 

“It, uh, wasn’t supposed to be funny?” Isaac says, fidgeting nervously.  Derek’s fingers clench around the phone and he glares at the other wolf.

 

“We should talk,” he says, then glaring at Scott, “in private.”  Scott huffs at him and turns to Isaac.

 

“You don’t have to go with him,” he says.

 

“No, it’s fine.  I should talk with him,” Isaac says.  The two walk to the other side of the parking lot, supposedly out of wolf-earshot.  Stiles watches with interest as the two wolves interact.  There’s a lot of yelling at first (all by Derek), with Isaac talking every once in a while.  Derek stops after a while, letting Isaac speak.  Stiles really wished he knew what the younger wolf was saying because he has never seen that look on Derek’s face.  It was utterly hopeless and defeated and Stiles just wanted to fix it, but he knew he couldn’t.  Scott sighs and looks away.

 

“Tell Isaac we’ll meet him in the library,” he says.  He walks back to Allison, lacing his fingers in hers as they reenter the school.  Stiles’ gaze however never strayed from the scene in front of him.  Derek hadn’t moved for a really long time, still listening to whatever Isaac was saying.  The young wolf ended his speech with a small shrug and turned away from his Alpha, heading back to where Stiles was still standing.  Derek watched him go, still unmoving.

 

“What did you say?” Stiles wonders.

 

“I told him that I was considering joining Scott.  I haven’t completely made up my mind yet.  Derek saved me, ya know?  I don’t really want to leave him, but Scott is just easier to deal with sometimes,” Isaac mumbles.  Stiles really wishes this day would stop sucking.

 

“Yeah, okay.  Well, they’re waiting for you in the library,” he says.  Isaac glances at him, confused.

 

“You’re not coming?” he asks.

 

“No,” Stiles answers.  His eyes still hadn’t left Derek’s still form.  Isaac looks back and forth between them.

 

“Stiles, have you…?” he starts.  Stiles finally looks at him and Isaac finds his answer.  “You’re part of Derek’s pack now,” he says.  The words sound strange to him, but isn’t that exactly what’s happening?  He’s abandoning Scott, his childhood best friend, the guy who helped him cope after his mother’s death.

 

The guy he currently couldn’t trust.  But could he trust Derek?  He wasn’t sure about that either.  He wants to say that he isn’t choosing sides, but the fact that he wants to follow Derek at this very moment instead of Scott, tells him that he’s already chosen.  He sighs, really wishing this didn’t have to be so difficult.

 

“There doesn’t have to be two different sides, Isaac,” he says.  Stiles kind of feels like if he chooses Derek, he’ll be losing everyone else.  Was Derek worth that?  Losing Scott, Isaac, and possibly Lydia?  But if he didn’t do this, Derek would be alone.  Stiles didn’t want that either.

 

“I agree, but Scott is never gonna have Derek as an Alpha.  So what choice do we have but to pick sides?” Isaac says.  He clearly doesn’t like this any more than Stiles.

 

“Scott doesn’t have to declare Derek as his Alpha.  Why can’t he just work beside him?  That would be better than being enemies, wouldn’t it?” Stiles asks.

 

“Maybe I can talk some sense into him,” Isaac mumbles.  “Because I really don’t want Derek as an enemy,” he adds.  Stiles nods, hoping Scott will listen to his fellow wolf.  “So…you’re really going through with this?” he asks.

 

“I have no idea.  I don’t want to choose sides, Isaac,” Stiles says quietly.  Isaac nods in understanding.  Stiles looks back to where Derek is watching them.  “But I know where I have to be right now.  And it’s not in that library,” he adds.

 

“Okay.  I get it, I guess,” Isaac says.  Before Stiles can react, his friend is pulling him in for a brief hug.  Lots of this going around today, he thinks.

 

“Don’t tell Scott yet, okay?” he asks.  Isaac snorts.

 

“Yeah, like I’m gonna drop that bomb,” he says.  They break the embrace, giving each other sad smiles before Isaac heads back into the school.  When Stiles turns back around, he’s startled to find Derek right in front of him.

 

“That was kind of creepy, just so you know,” he says, his arms flailing slightly.

 

“I assume you’re leaving too,” Derek says.  Stiles finally gets a good look at him and his heart sinks.  The man’s eyes keep flashing between their usual blue-green and Alpha red.  He’s tense all over and if he wasn’t standing so close, Stiles would have mistaken the body language for anger.  But that was so far from what was going on.

 

“No, I’m not going anywhere,” he says.

 

“But you’re in Scott’s pack,” Derek counters.

 

“And last night you said you considered me part of yours.  That still true?” Stiles asks.  Derek hesitates, but eventually nods.  “Then like I said.  I’m not going anywhere.”

 

Derek’s irises return to normal and he lets out a breath he was apparently holding.  Stiles really needs to start paying more attention because he once again doesn’t see the hug coming.  Derek pulls on his flannel shirt, embracing him in a tight hold.  Stiles can feel that he was trembling and figures it’s his turn to comfort the Alpha, so he wraps his arms around his middle, holding on just as tight.  Stiles has no idea what’s happening, but he kind of maybe likes it.  He’s really not ready to admit that it might be more than friendly feelings though.

 

“Hey, Derek?  Can you drive me home?” he asks.  Derek pulls away, a small smile on his face.  Stiles is happy to see the wrecked look from earlier has faded somewhat.

 

“Sure,” he answers, taking Stiles’ keys.  Stiles looks around for a minute.

 

“Did you run here?” he asks.  Derek shrugs and heads for Stiles’ jeep.  Why does he always run everywhere lately?  If Stiles had his car, he would probably live in it, it was so awesome.  They drove in relative silence, Derek slapping his hand away from the radio every time he reached for it.  It was his jeep for crying out loud, that is so not cool.  Derek pulls into the driveway soon after, turns the engine off and just sits.  Stiles assumes he’s going to say something, so he waits.

 

And waits.  And then he waits some more.

 

“Derek, oh my god, say something!” he shouts.  The tension in the small space was killing him and Derek was just sitting there.  The wolf huffs at him, but Stiles just gives him a ‘get on with it’ gesture.

 

“Stiles, about this morning,” he starts.  Oh god, really?  Were they really going to relive that fight?

 

“Derek, if you’re about to yell about it, then I’m going inside.  I really don’t want to have this fight again,” he says.  “Because I’ve fought with just about everyone today and this is so not cool right now.  First you, then Scott, then Allison.  I even snapped at Danny and Isaac earlier, which was stupid.  And Harris was all over me…shit I forgot about detention, I am so fucked.  This is the second day in a row I’ve missed his detention.  And it’s only the second day of school.  Harris likes to call my dad when I don’t show so that’s just fucking perfect.  Why is he such a dick?  Oh, and today in Econ, Danny was asking me all this stuff-”

 

“Stiles.”

 

“Stuff about Jackson.  What the hell am I supposed to tell him?  Yeah, sorry, your friend is probably dying as we speak, but don’t worry because he could actually be fine?  Because no one has any idea where he is?  Oh my god, we’re gonna have to explain stuff to him eventually, that is going to be the worst conversation ever.  And apparently Lydia and Allison are friends again, which could possibly be deadly-”

 

“Stiles!”

 

“Don’t Stiles me!  It’s been an extremely stressful day, okay?  And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Scott has completely lost it.  Like, if I didn’t know better I would think the hunters have brain washed him or something.  He says they have a plan for the Alphas.  He’s a werewolf and he’s working with hunters!  What the fuck is wrong with him?  And he says it’s none of my business!  Well, you know what, maybe it shouldn’t be anymore.  Maybe I should just let him do whatever the fuck he wants.  Oh my god, you should have seen Allison today.  I swear she was about to kill me-”

 

“What?”

 

“Don’t worry about it, Isaac stopped her.  But, dude, she seriously lost her shit in an entire room full of people.  Like, what if someone noticed?  Although, maybe I deserved it.  I probably didn’t need to bring up her mom like that, even if what I said was true.  Like, really, who does that?  And I know no one probably noticed, but I think we just about gave Lydia a heart attack.  She was all frozen at the end of the table, staring at her crazy ass friends.  I don’t see why she even hangs out with us still.  But that’s probably because now that Jackson’s gone, she really doesn’t have anyone.  You know, I keep trying to be her friend, but it’s ridiculously hard-”

 

“Stiles,” Derek sighs.

 

“Yeah, talking too much, I get it.  You were going to say something earlier, what was it?” Stiles asks.  He’s a bit out of breath from the verbal vomit he just spewed everywhere and Derek is just staring at him.

 

“I wasn’t going to argue with you,” he says.

 

“Oh,” Stiles sighs.  “Thank god, because that would suck right now.  And I actually wanted to aplogi-”

 

“Stiles, can I finish first?” Derek asks.  Stiles clamps his mouth shut and nods.  “Okay, what I was going to say is that I’m sorry about this morning.  And I need you to know that I…” he trails off, taking a breath.  “That I do trust you, okay?” he rushes.  Holy shit, what?

 

“You…what?” Stiles asks.  He thinks he heard it right, but he did kind of hallucinate earlier, so this could just be another trick of the mind.

 

“I trust you, Stiles,” Derek says, not breaking eye contact.

 

“Woah…heavy, dude,” Stiles mumbles.  Derek snorts and shakes his head at him.  “I trust you too, just so we’re clear,” Stiles says.  Derek’s lips quirk in an almost smile and Stiles wants to hug him again, but doesn’t.  “So…there are only two episodes left of Lost Girl,” he says.  Derek nods, climbs out of the jeep and waits for Stiles to let him in.  This is so weird.  Does this mean they’re friends?

 

“Hey, does this mean we’re friends?” he asks.  Derek rolls his eyes and pushes him into the house.  “I’m gonna take that as a yes, okay?  Just so you know,” he says.  Derek doesn’t respond and just flops down on the couch.  Stiles is actually really excited about how this day is ending.  He puts the DVD in and presses play.  They only get through half of the first episode when Derek tenses on the couch, right before there’s a knock on the door.  Stiles pauses the TV and jumps up to peer out the window.

 

“Goddamn it,” he sighs, but opens the door anyway.  Scott is standing awkwardly in the opening, getting nervous when he spots Derek.

 

“Hey, Stiles.  Can we talk?”

 

“Depends.  You gonna be a dick again?” he asks.  Scott glares and pushes his way in.

 

“I wasn’t trying to be a dick, okay?  I’m sorry I said all that stuff.  And I am really sorry for what Allison did,” Scott says.  Stiles has to look away from the puppy eyes.  Damn things get him every time and he refuses to cave about this.

 

“Maybe I should go,” Derek mutters, about to get off the couch.

 

“No, sit,” Stiles orders.  Derek surprisingly sits back down.  A dog joke would be really inappropriate right now, right?  Right.

 

“Stiles, I know you’re just trying to help, I do.  And you’re probably right about the Argents, but what else am I supposed to do…” Scott trails off, his face scrunching up.  “Stiles, why do you smell different?” he asks quietly.  Oh crap, they were gonna have to talk about this already, weren’t they?  Stiles doesn’t know how to start.  As Scott sniffs the air some more, his eyes turn golden for a moment, making Stiles back away slightly.  This was going to be so bad.  Stiles had to say something.

 

“Okay, Scott don’t freak out-”

 

“Don’t freak out?!  Stiles, what the hell is going on?” he shouts.  His eyes widen as he glances at Derek.  “You’re on his side?!  What the fuck?”

 

“I’m not on anyone’s side, Scott!  There shouldn’t even be sides,” Stiles yells.

 

“Well, there are!  How could you choose Derek over me?!”

 

“Because it’s safer!” Stiles yells.  The hurt look on Scott’s face makes Stiles’ heart drop.

 

“Stiles, I would never hurt you, you know that,” Scott says.

 

“That’s not what I meant.”  Scott tilts his head and Stiles really wishes they weren’t having this conversation.

 

“You mean Allison,” he says.  Stiles doesn’t respond, not knowing what to say for once.  Scott moves towards him, but stops when Stiles flinches away.  “Stiles, why are you so afraid of them?” he asks softly.  Stiles glares at him because he wasn’t afraid of them, that wasn’t it.  Was it?  No, of course it isn’t.

 

“I’m not afraid of them, I just don’t trust them,” he says.  Scott tilts his head again.

 

“You’re lying.  What aren’t you telling me?” he asks.  Stiles really doesn’t want to talk about this right now.  He ignores the question and goes back to the whole pack problem.

 

“Look Scott, until you realize that they’re dangerous and do not have your best interests at heart, I can’t be a part of your pack,” Stiles says.  Scott’s eyes flash and Stiles panics when he sees a hint of canines.  Derek is up off the couch, pulling Stiles behind him within a matter of seconds.  Stiles thinks a fight is about to break out in the middle of his living room and that this day could not get worse.

 

The front door opens.  He was so wrong, this day just got a thousand times worse.

 

“Holy shit,” his dad mutters.  He immediately pulls his weapon, training it on Scott, who quickly shifts back.

 

“Dad, don’t!  It’s okay, it’s just Scott.  He’s not gonna hurt anyone,” he shouts, trying to move around Derek to calm his dad.  Derek doesn’t budge and Stiles is surprised to see him grab Scott by the arm and pull him behind him too.  His eyes are flashing and Stiles can tell he’s fighting for control as he growls at the Sheriff.  Stiles grabs a hold of his shirt and tugs slightly, gaining his attention.

 

“Derek, it’s fine.  He’s not gonna shoot anyone,” he says and dislodges Derek’s hand from his arm to step around him.  Stiles looks at his dad, who’s still panicking, but he quickly lowers his weapon when he sees his son in his targets.  “Right, dad?  No shooting?” he asks.  The Sheriff nods, placing his gun back in the holster.

 

“Stiles, what the hell is going on?  What are they?” he asks.

 

“Um…they would be werewolves, dad,” Stiles says.  His dad gapes at him and looks at the other two.

 

“Werewolves,” he breathes.  Stiles nods.  “Like, half-man half-wolf?  Howling at the full moon?  Werewolves?” he asks again.

 

“Yes, all of it.  Real werewolves,” Stiles says.

 

“So all of the lying and all of the weirdness?  Werewolves?” his dad asks.

 

“Yes, mostly.”

 

“Uh huh.  And all of the murders happening around here.  Werewolves?”

 

“No, not all of them,” Stiles answers.

 

“Are you a werewolf?” his dad whispers.  Stiles doesn’t think he’s blinked since he saw Scott wolf out.

 

“Nope, 100% human,” Stiles says.  He wants to add a ‘sort of’ to the end of that because Deaton never really explained his sudden abilities, but he figured that can wait.  Hid dad sighs in relief and then crosses into the kitchen.  They follow him and watch as he pours a drink and sits at the table.  He sits for a long time, sipping his whiskey.  He looks up at his son after a while and motions for him to sit.

 

“All of you.  Sit down,” he says.  Stiles and Scott quickly do as asked, but Derek lingers in the doorway.  The Sheriff frowns, but doesn’t order him to sit again.

 

“How did any of this happen?” he asks Stiles.

 

“Well, remember that night you found me in the woods and I said I was by myself?  Well, Scott was there and he got bit by an Alpha.  And voilà werewolf powers,” he says.

 

“What’s an Alpha?”

 

“It’s the leader of a wolf pack.  Derek’s an Alpha,” Stiles says, pointing.  Scott rolls his eyes.

 

“So Derek turned Scott into a werewolf?”

 

“Oh, uh, no.  That was Peter, Derek’s uncle.”

 

“Right, I remember him.  Is that who turned Derek?” he asks.  Derek sighs and sits at the table with them.

 

“No, I was born a werewolf.  Most of my family was made of born wolves, plus a few humans,” he says.  Stiles notices the tension that sprung into his shoulders.  The Sheriff nods in understanding.

 

“It probably isn’t my place to ask, but Kate Argent.  Why did she set the fire?  Because you’re werewolves?” he asks.  Derek’s eyes flash, making his dad’s eyes widen.  Stiles places his hand on Derek’s knee under the table, surprised when the wolf doesn’t flinch away.

 

“The Argents are hunters.  They kill for a living,” he says.  Scott scoffs at him.

 

“That’s not technically true.  You know they have a-”

 

“If you say code, I swear I’ll kill you,” Derek says, a low growl in his chest.  Scott rolls his eyes, not affected by the threat.

 

“They’re sticking to it this time, okay?  They haven’t tried to kill any of us for months,” he argues.

 

“That’s only because they’re outnumbered right now!  How can you not see that?” Derek yells.

 

“Because Allison isn’t-”

 

“Isn’t what, Scott?  Isn’t like them?  She’s exactly the same as every other hunter.  Or have you forgotten that she tried to kill us all a month ago?!”

 

“Guys, stop!  Do we really need to have this fight right now?” Stiles shouts.  The two shut up and glare at the table.  The Sheriff is staring at them, surprised by the sudden argument in his kitchen.

 

“Does someone want to explain what just happened?  Because I heard the word ‘killing’ a lot just now,” he says.

 

“We all have a lot of enemies at the moment,” Stiles sighs.  At some point, Derek had covered Stiles’ hand with his own and was gently rubbing his knuckles.  Weird, but really nice, Stiles thinks.

 

“Alright.  Like who?” his dad asks.

 

“There’s a pack of Alpha wolves that might want to kill us for reasons unknown.  Plus, Gerard Argent is roaming around somewhere and he’s most definitely not human anymore.  And the hunters are still a threat,” Stiles rushes.

 

“No, they’re-”

 

“Drop it, Scott,” Stiles says, glaring at his friend.  Scott crosses his arms and glances at the Sheriff.

 

“Can we put this explanation thing on hold for a minute?” he asks.  The Sheriff raises a brow, but gestures for Scott to continue.  “Stiles, what you said earlier.  Were you being serious?”

 

“Yes,” he sighs.

 

“But why are you doing this?” he asks.  The anger seems to have left and his friend is looking at him with such sadness that Stiles wants to gauge his eyes out.  He doesn’t want to hurt anyone.

 

“Scott, I just want everyone to stop fighting each other and focus on the actual problem.  There are things plotting our death as we speak and we’re arguing about who’s in who’s pack.  It’s ridiculous.  I don’t care if you two hate each other forever, I just want us all to survive.  Can you understand that?”

 

“Yeah, but I promised nothing would happen to you.”

 

“You can’t promise that.  You can’t protect everyone 24/7.  Besides, that’s not even what I’m worried about.  It was so easy for the Alphas to take Jackson, Boyd, and Erica.  I don’t want to wake up one day and find you dead in the middle of the woods, or Isaac torn to shreds by whatever the hell Gerard is, or Derek shot to death by hunters,” Stiles says.  He can tell by their faces that everyone is surprised by his words.  He felt bad for laying this all out in front of his dad, but he needed Scott to understand.  “We can’t fight our enemies and each other at the same time,” he adds.  Scott stares at him for a few minutes and then shifts his attention to Derek.

 

“I suppose he’s right,” he mumbles.  Derek nods and Stiles is surprised to find his hand still on his own.  “I will work with you until we defeat the Alphas and Gerard, but I’m not going to just give up on Allison, okay?  I won’t do that.  Can we at least discuss making some kind of truce with them?” he asks.  Stiles can see the defensive wall pull over Derek and quickly squeezes his hand to gain his attention.

 

“I don’t trust them, either, but Scott may have a point.  It would be better to not have to worry about them while fighting everything else.  It sounds as if they want to take down the Alphas just as much as we do.  Maybe we should give it a shot?” he asks.  An expression Stiles doesn’t recognize crosses Derek’s face as the man considers his words.  He’s about to answer, when Scott’s phone chimes.  He glances at the caller ID and frowns.

 

“Shit, sorry, hold on,” he says.  “Mom?” he calls in to the phone.  Stiles can’t make out what the woman is saying, but it can’t be pleasant by the amount of frowning that Scott is doing.  “Mom, I’m fine…No, I can’t come home right now,” he says.  Stiles feels Derek tense beside him as he overhears the conversation.  “Well, tell him to leave,” Scott says, exasperated.  The screeching on the other end gets louder.  Scott sighs and says, “Look, I’ve got to finish something-” he starts, but is interrupted by more yelling.  “Mom, stop!  I get it, alright?  I’ll be there in a few minutes,” he says and promptly hangs up on her.

 

“Everything alright?” the Sheriff asks.

 

“Yeah, everything’s fine,” he mumbles, then turns to Derek.  “So truce or no truce?” he asks.  Stiles doesn’t like whatever the hell just happened.  Clearly something was wrong because Scott never got that angry with his mom.  Derek is still tense, but doesn’t comment about whatever he overheard.  Stiles is about to ask, when Scott shoots him a ‘don’t do it’ glare.  He remains quiet.

 

“Fine, if they’re willing to call a truce, then I’ll hear them out.  We should have a meeting within the next week, before the full moon,” Derek says.  He leans against the table, making sure Stiles is paying attention.  “But after this first meeting, all communication will be between Scott and Allison.  You are never to be alone with any of the hunters.  Is that clear?” he asks.  Stiles is surprised by the order (the guy used his Alpha eyes and everything).  He does know that doesn’t affect him right?  But Stiles has no intention of ever being alone with them, so he simply nods.  Derek lets out a breath and relaxes back into his chair.  Stiles refocuses on the rest of the room, but leaves his hand in Derek’s, still under the table, resting on the man’s knee.  He seriously has no idea what’s happening between them, but he figures he can properly freak out about it later.  The Sheriff is watching them all in confusion and Scott has a brow raised at his friend.  Yeah, he so wasn’t explaining any of this yet.  Scott eventually shakes his head, not commenting on the scene and instead getting up from the table.

 

“I’ll go talk to Allison later tonight.  See if they’ll agree to a meeting,” he says.

 

“Scott, wait!” the Sheriff calls.  He stands and places a hand on the wolf’s shoulder.  “Kid, I’m sorry about earlier.  With the whole gun thing,” he says.  Scott grins and shakes his head.

 

“It’s okay, Mr. Stilinski.  Not the first time a dad pulled a gun on me,” he chuckles and then pulls the man in for a brief hug.  Scott leaves a minute later, leaving Stiles’ dad a little dazed.

 

“I’m assuming that was supposed to be comforting, but it really wasn’t,” he mumbles.  He sits back at the table and downs the rest of his drink.  “Alright, someone tell me about these Alphas and hunters,” he says.  It takes a full two hours for Derek and Stiles to explain everything, with Stiles trying to edit out certain horrible parts.  Derek would get frustrated and fill in the blanks, earning glares from the other.  As Derek finishes explaining about Jackson’s transition from Kanima to werewolf, Stiles remains quiet, hoping no one will bring up the championship game.

 

“Wait, wait, hold on.  You’re talking about the end of last year right?  When Jackson supposedly died on the field?” his dad asks.  Derek nods.

 

Really, Stiles should just stop hoping for things.  The Sheriff turns to him, eyes squinting as he puzzles it all out.

 

“So, that night when you went missing, that wasn’t just the other team, was it?” he asks.  Derek’s head snaps in his direction, his brow furrowed.

 

“You were missing?” he asks.  Stiles fidgets nervously, pulling his hand away from Derek’s to cross his arms.  The man frowns, but doesn’t say anything.

 

“Yeah, but it’s not a big deal.  I came back in one piece, right?  So, I’m fine, no worries, no need to analyze it,” he rambles.

 

“Stiles, don’t do that.  Tell me what happened,” Derek orders.  He sees his dad sit back slightly, watching Derek take over with a curious expression.

 

“It wasn’t…it’s fine…just wrong place, wrong time,” Stiles mutters.  Derek watches his face, probably detecting the lie.  Stiles can tell the moment Derek puts it all together because his eyes widen and turn red.

 

“The hunters?  Was it Chris?  Did he hurt you?” he asks.  Stiles sighs, wanting to hide under the table.

 

“No, it wasn’t Chris.  But like I said, there’s no reason to get mad or freak out because I’m fine,” Stiles says.

 

“So it was Gerard then.  What did he do?” Derek asks.

 

“He didn’t do-”

 

“Stiles,” his dad interrupts.  “Don’t sit there and tell us he did nothing.  You came home covered in bruises,” he says.  Stiles flinches when he hears the low growl starting.

 

“He beat you?  Why?  What did he want?” Derek asks.

 

“What the hell do you think he wanted?!” Stiles shouts.  He had successfully avoided this conversation for months and now it was all crashing down on him.  Derek considers the outburst for a minute, thinking it over.

 

“The warehouse…” he says.  “That’s how he found us.  He used you to find me.”

 

Stiles doesn’t answer him.  Not that it was a question anyway; Derek knew he was right.  The shame of how quickly he caved under the beating burns his skin and he can’t look at the wolf.  Derek never should have said he trusted him earlier.  How could he?  Stiles was the weak link in the group and it only took a matter of an hour for him to give Derek up.

 

“But what I don’t understand is why you?  Why not take one of my betas?  They ran, they would’ve been easy targets,” Derek says.  Stiles looks up at him, seeing that Derek is genuinely confused.  Shit, he doesn’t know about Boyd and Erica.  A tremor runs through his body, knowing he’ll have to tell him.  How they were strung up in the basement, how Stiles couldn’t save them, how he went back later that night but they were gone.  He’d roamed around the woods for hours, calling for them.  On his way home, he heard the howling and knew it was them.  Stiles figured since they were together, they would be alright, so he kept driving.  When Derek told them about the Alpha pack a week later, Stiles knew he had failed his new friends, yet again.  He knew without a doubt that they’d been taken in those woods.

 

“Derek, I’m sorry,” he whispers.  Both the Sheriff and Derek lean closer, presumably wanting to reassure him that everything was okay.  But it wasn’t, nothing was ever going to be okay because life just kept fucking them over.  And Stiles was a complete traitor, no wonder Derek thought he’d poisoned the food.  Derek placed a hand on his shoulder, but he cringed away from it.

 

“Stiles, just tell me what it is,” he says.  God, he really wished he would stop being so nice.

 

“Gerard had them that night.  They wouldn’t talk.  That’s why he took me,” Stiles answers.  “But they either escaped or were let go because they weren’t there when I went back.  I’m assuming the Alphas found them in the woods and took them,” he says.  Might as well lay it all out there.  There was no point in denying any of it now.

 

“I already figured the Alphas had them.  I just didn’t realize Gerard had gotten them first,” Derek mumbles.  He never stopped looking at Stiles, confusion still on his face.  “But Stiles…why did you go back for them?” he asks.  Stiles glances at him, surprised by the question.

 

“Because I had already left them there once, I wasn’t gonna do it again.  I should’ve fought back and freed them when Gerard had me,” Stiles says.

 

“That’s what…at my house the other day…that’s what you meant,” Derek mutters.  Stiles looks at the table, not wanting to see the inevitable hurt expression that would appear.  He completely fucked up that night and Derek has every right to feel betrayed.  Stiles sold him out and left his betas to rot in the hunters’ basement.

 

“Damn it,” Derek sighs.  He shifts closer, invading Stiles’ personal space.  “Stiles, look at me,” he says.  Surprised by the closeness, Stiles has no choice but to look Derek in the face.  He had a fleeting embarrassing thought about his dad seeing them this close, but he figures it was just a wolf thing he would have to explain later.  The touching as of late had to be a wolf thing, right?

 

“Um, I’ll just let you two talk,” his dad mumbles and quickly leaves the room.  Yeah, that was going to be an embarrassing conversation later.  Just say it’s a wolf thing, he’ll buy that.  No, he doesn’t have to buy anything because that’s the truth.  Right?

 

“Stiles,” Derek says.  Oh, right, supposed to be paying attention.  How are his eyes like three different colors?

 

“What?” he asks.

 

None of what happened is your fault.  They were my betas and I should have protected them.  I should have protected you,” Derek says.  Stiles sighs and pulls away slightly.

 

“But it is, Derek.  I was right there and I should have done something.  I got my ass kicked by some 90-year old guy!  I should have fought back or-”

 

“No, stop it.  Listen to me.  You didn’t do anything wrong.  In fact, you did way more than most people would have.  You went back for them.  It’s not your fault that the Alphas took them, alright?  If their fate is anyone’s fault, it’s mine.  If I had been a better Alpha, then they never would’ve left and you never would’ve been beaten.  Everything that’s happening right now, is on me, not you-”

 

“But Derek-”

 

“Let me finish.  If I hadn’t rushed to create a pack, then Jackson wouldn’t have become a Kanima, therefore Matt probably wouldn’t have killed anyone, your dad never would have lost his job, Boyd and Erica wouldn’t be dying right now, Lydia might’ve not gone crazy because Peter probably wouldn’t have had the strength of my pack to feed off, Victoria Argent would still be alive, Isaac wouldn’t be in constant danger-”

 

“Derek, oh my god, stop,” Stiles says.  Before he could rethink it, the fingers of his right hand were grazing along stubble, trying to get Derek to be quiet.  His fingertips tingled at the contact and he was surprised when Derek didn’t recoil.  “Can I talk now?” he asks, a small smile starting.  It was always the other way around, he never had to shut Derek up.  The wolf nodded, subtly (or not) leaning into Stiles’ hand.  “If you could have predicted any of that happening, would you have done things differently?” he asks.

 

“Of course,” he answers.  Derek begins to pull away, seemingly offended by the question.  Stiles holds him still, taking his chin in hand to make sure he’s listening.  Derek is surprised by the move, but stops pulling away.  Stiles knows he could easily move away or push him off, but he doesn’t.

 

“Exactly.  You couldn’t have predicted any of that happening.  You were only acting on instinct.  Jackson was going to get what he wanted any way he could, even if that meant finding another Alpha to do it.  Matt was already completely insane and chances are he would’ve ended up being a serial killer anyway.  My dad losing his job was on me and me alone.  I could have told him the truth at any time and he would’ve known how to handle things better.  As for Boyd and Erica, you gave them exactly what they wanted.  Boyd gained friends and a family, Erica was cured and got an extreme does of confidence-”

 

“But-”

 

“Nope, still talking.  Peter’s actions are not your fault.  You know he always has a backup plan and he would’ve gotten Lydia to resurrect him sooner or later, whether you built a pack or not.  Therefore what happened to Lydia was not your fault.  Peter did that to her, not you.  And I seriously cannot believe you’re blaming yourself for Victoria’s death.  Did you bite her on purpose?”

 

“Of course not!” he says.  Stiles tightens his grip, not wanting him to move away.

 

“Point made.  Giving her the bite was an accident.  She chose to kill herself instead of living as a wolf.  She was strong, she could have easily adapted and kept living for her daughter, but she didn’t.  And Isaac?  You honestly think he wasn’t already in danger?  You saved his life, Derek.  I know for a fact that he doesn’t regret taking the bite-”

 

“He’s leaving,” Derek whispers.  There’s a shine in his eyes and Stiles really just wants to make it go away.  Stiles had no idea Derek felt so much, to be honest.  He always kind of thought his emotions were so buried that the only one remaining was anger.  The past few days have shown him a completely different side to the wolf.  It made him sad and happy at the same time to know there was more to Derek.

 

“He hasn’t made up his mind yet.  You can still fix it.  He doesn’t really want to leave, you know.  I think if you give him a reason to stay, he will.  Just tell him the truth.  That you want him in your pack and you’ll try harder to be a better Alpha,” Stiles says.  Derek lets out a shaky breath and closes his eyes.   Stiles can’t help but pull him closer until their foreheads are touching.  It feels strange to be this close, but he was just acting on instinct and Derek didn’t seem to mind.

 

“Better?” Stiles asks.  Derek snorts and opens his eyes, meeting Stiles’.  Seriously, what the hell color is that?  Wow, I really should’ve thought this through.  He’s really warm and smells really good.  Derek’s nostrils flare and his eyes widen.  Yep, completely embarrassing.  I should move away now.  Or should I wait for Derek to move?  Shit, this is awkward.  Derek’s eyes dart lower, to where Stiles’ tongue darted out in nervousness.

 

“Stiles?” he asks.  Damn, his voice is deep.  And breathy.  And minty.  Oh, I am so screwed.

 

“Huh?” Stiles asks.  Wow, super intelligent.  Why the hell is he affecting me so much?  I’m pretty sure I still hated him like two weeks ago.  This is so weird.  Oh my god, stop staring at his mouth.  You are not allowed anywhere near that.  Holy shit, that’s his hand on my arm.  Now my neck.  Jesus, even Ican hear my heart beating.

 

Derek’s thumb rests on the pulse that’s pounding in his neck.  Stiles takes a deep breath, trying to calm it, but it fails to do much of anything.

 

“Stiles, I should go,” Derek says.

 

“Huh,” Stiles says, making Derek laugh slightly.  “Wait, what?  Why?” Stiles asks, catching up with the conversation.

 

“Because you’re breathing on me and it’s distracting,” he mumbles, making Stiles laugh too.  Derek’s hand moves, sliding down his arm and reaching his hand.  “We’ll talk about this later?” he asks.

 

“Uh huh,” Stiles says.

 

“Maybe when you’ll be able to use words again?” Derek says, a grin on his face.  Stiles takes a deeper breath than before, focusing his brain.

 

“I’m totally capable of using words.  You should know that,” he says.  Derek nods against him and finally pulls away.  They stare at each other for a minute, not saying anything.

 

“Ahem,” the Sheriff coughs.  They both jump at the sound and Derek quickly gets to his feet.

 

“Right, so I should go,” Derek says and nods a goodbye to the Sheriff.

 

“Yes, I think that’d be best,” his dad says.  Oh, yeah, totally screwed.  Was he watching that whole thing?  Not sure I can pass that off as wolf scenting.  But maybe?  His dad just stands there after Derek leaves, brows raised, and waiting for Stiles to say something.

 

“It’s a wolf thing.  Yeah, they’re always trying to scent the humans.  Weird, right?” he says, flailing a bit.  His dad sighs and shakes his head.

 

“Didn’t see Scott getting all up in your personal space,” he mutters.  Stiles opens his mouth to comment, but his dad holds up a hand, cutting him off.  “I’m not blind, Stiles.  I can see there’s something going on.  I thought you were into that Lydia girl?”

 

“Yeah, that’s never gonna work.  She’s still in love with someone else and I’m pretty sure she hates me, so yeah.  I’m not even that interested anymore, to be honest,” he admits.

 

“Okay.  So are you telling me you’re gay?”

 

“Um, not completely?  I still like girls, but guys too, I guess,” Stiles says, biting his lip.  He hadn’t planned on having this conversation so early.  He had wanted to have a complete speech ready because this was so unbelievably awkward.

 

“Stiles, it’s okay.  I love you no matter what.  You know that right?” he asks.

 

“Yeah, dad, of course.”

 

“Good.  Now that that’s out of the way, you wanna explain what the hell I just walked in on?”

 

“Really, it was nothing dad.  It was just a wolf thing,” Stiles says.  The more he says it, the more convinced he is that he read the situation wrong.  Why would Derek even be interested in him?  He was skinny and pale and talked too much and Derek was…well, the complete opposite.  He was unbelievably hot (seriously, his abs, arms, eyes, stubble – how did he even exist?) and complicated in a good way and just basically awesome on every level.  “Yeah, definitely just a wolf thing,” he mutters.  His dad sighs and sits down.

 

“Kid, I don’t know much about werewolves, but from where I was standing that man was thinking thoughts he most definitely shouldn’t be about my underage son,” he says.  Stiles can feel his face flush because that was just uncomfortable.  “Do we need to have a talk again?” he asks and Stiles promptly shoves his face into the table.

 

“Oh my god, this isn’t happening.  No, dad, we definitely don’t need to do that again.  Unless you want me to die of embarrassment,” he mumbles into the wood.

 

“Alright, alright, don’t get worked up.  I won’t talk about gay sex,” his dad says and then chuckles.

 

“Dad!” Stiles groans.  “This seriously cannot be happening,” he mutters.

 

“Okay, okay, I’ll behave I promise.  But seriously Stiles, I want to know what’s going on.  No more lying, okay?” he asks.  Stiles looks up at that and nods.  “Good.  Now don’t freak out on me, but Stiles are you feeling something for him?” he asks gently.

 

“I don’t know, dad.  It’s all still really new.  I don’t know what he’s thinking and I don’t know if I even want that,” he answers.  Though Derek was extremely good looking and Stiles was beginning to like him, he still doesn’t know if he would want to be with Derek.  The guy has a lot of issues and Stiles will want to fix all of them, which will be impossible and he’ll feel like a complete failure.  Plus, what if he messes Derek up even more?  He’s not exactly the most stable guy in the world either.  Stiles has his own issues to deal with and he wouldn’t want to drag the wolf into it any more than he already has.

 

“Alright, I’ll take that.  Stiles, if you do decide you like him, I’m not gonna lie, it’s a bit of a problem.  He’s 22 and you’re only 16.  I’m not sure I’m okay with that,” he says.  Stiles fidgets nervously.

 

“So, you’re saying that if anything happens, you won’t let me see him?” Stiles asks.

 

“If I said that, would you listen?” his dad asks.  He shakes his head, already knowing the answer.  “I know you.  You’re gonna do whatever you want, no matter what I say.  Which is fine, as long as you’re not putting yourself in danger.  Which is another problem I’m having.  He’s a werewolf, Stiles.  An Alpha werewolf.  Isn’t it dangerous to be around him?” he asks.

 

“He wouldn’t hurt me,” Stiles answers.  He’s surprised by how much he believes that.  Even though Derek often struggles for control, he’s never completely lost it and attacked Stiles.  In fact, he’s a lot calmer and gentler when around him.  Or at least lately he has been.  Stiles still hasn’t forgotten that steering wheel to the face moment.

 

“I’ll take your word for it,” his dad says.  “He doesn’t seem to be as bad as I thought.  He answered all my questions honestly and he’s already protective of you.  But Stiles, if you start dating him, I expect you to tell me,” he says.  Stiles is about to protest, but his dad cuts him off again.  “I don’t want any details, I just want to know who you’re involved with.  I’ll want to get to know him better,” he says.

 

“Dad, this conversation is most likely pointless.  I really don’t think Derek is interested,” Stiles says.  He won’t admit that the thought depresses him.  His dad sighs and gets up from the table.

 

“Whatever you say, kid,” he says, ruffling his short hair.  “I’m gonna go to bed, but we’ll talk more tomorrow after work.”  He laughs at Stiles’ panicked look.  “Not about Derek, just about everything else.  That okay?” he asks.

 

“Yeah, dad, of course,” Stiles says.  The Sheriff pulls his son into a hug and sighs.

 

“I worry about you, son.  And I really don’t like you being mixed up in this.  But you’re sticking by your friends and I’m proud of that.  No matter what happened, you’re a hero in my book.  Got it?”

 

Stiles swallows down the sudden tears his dad’s words produced and nodded.  His dad pats his back and then leaves to catch up on sleep.  Stiles follows soon after, flopping down onto his bed.  He fails to notice the open window and the broody Alpha that’s sitting at his desk…

Chapter Text

Part 2

 

Allison

 

“What do you mean a truce?  I never agreed to that,” Allison snaps.  Scott sighs dramatically and slumps down onto the couch, earning a glare from Mr. Argent, who’s sitting on the opposite side.  He smiles sheepishly and quickly moves to the chair across from the hunter.

 

“This actually may be our best option,” Chris says, ignoring Allison’s scoff.  “But why would Derek agree to this?” Chris asks.

 

“Believe it or not, Stiles convinced him.  He made a pretty good speech about survival and ‘fighting our enemies and not each other’.  Which is a really good point in my opinion,” he says.

 

“But we are his enemies,” Allison says.  There was no way in hell she was going to be Derek’s ally in a fight.  Ever.

 

“But you don’t have to be.  At least not right now,” Scott says.  Allison glared at him, suddenly wondering if he was switching sides on her.  She understood the instinct to follow an Alpha, but that didn’t mean she had to like it.  After her little breakdown the other day, Lydia helped her get her priorities in order.  Although, they had fought about what those priorities should be.  Lydia kept trying to convince her to focus on school and mending the bridges she’d burned, but after that drunken night on the cliff, Allison only wanted one thing.  She wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become the leader of the Argents.  At the moment, the only person she could lead was her father.  He didn’t seem to like her new tougher attitude, but Allison was finding it the only way she could cope with life at the moment.

 

“Are you thinking of joining him?” she asks.  Scott’s eyes widen at her.

 

“Of course not.  But I don’t want to die either.  And I can’t lose Stiles, Alli,” he answers.  She winced slightly as she thought of her former friend.  She still couldn’t believe she’d attacked him.  And in public.  Stiles had looked so afraid of her and it just about tore her apart.  Allison wanted to rush home and drink herself into a daze after it happened.  Instead, she borrowed a few weapons from the basement and a dummy for target practice.  She’d spent the rest of the afternoon training by herself, only stopping when her father announced Scott’s arrival.

 

“What do you mean, lose Stiles?” Chris asks.  Scott sinks further into his chair and glares at the carpet.

 

“He wants to join Derek, apparently,” Scott says.  Her father gapes at him and shakes his head.

 

“Why does he want to be a part of a pack in the first place?  He’s human,” he says.

 

“That doesn’t matter.  We view our pack as family.  That’s a good enough reason for Stiles.”

 

“But you’re his best friend.  Why would he choose Derek?” he asks.  Scott’s glare hardens, but it’s trained on Allison this time.  She’s never been on the receiving end of one of those.  It had a chill running through her body, but she pretended to not be affected.  Her dad looks at her, confused.  She only shrugs at him and fingers the knife in her pocket.

 

“Tell him, Allison.  Why would Stiles prefer Derek?” Scott asks.

 

“I got a little carried away.  It won’t happen again.  Besides, he was fine,” she answers.

 

“Carried away?” her dad asks, but Scott is talking over him.

 

“Fine?  You think he was fine after that?  He literally ran from us in fear.  I know he was running his mouth, but that’s what he does, he’s Stiles,” Scott says.  He gets up from his chair to stand in front of her.  “I realize you’re going through a hard time right now, but I’m seriously hoping that you can at least acknowledge that what you did today was not okay.”

 

Allison rolls her eyes, not needing a lecture on self-control from a werewolf.  It’s not like she meant to scare Stiles, it just happened.  Scott sighs, not liking her lack of answer.

 

“Allison, if this is ever going to work, I need to know that you won’t ever do that again.  Stiles is my best friend and I will not lose him,” Scott says.  Allison finally looks at him.  She’s never seen him this serious about anything.  She really doesn’t like the commanding tone he’s using with her.

 

“If Stiles wants to join Derek, then you’ve already lost him,” she says.  Scott’s eyes flash to gold and without hesitating she backs away from him, drawing her blade at the same time.

 

“Seriously?  Are we really gonna do this?” he asks.  Allison’s heart leaps at the agitation in his voice.  She’d been hyped up on adrenaline for the past few hours and if Scott wanted to fight, she wasn’t going to back down.  She arches a brow at him, baiting him to come at her.  The wolf’s eyes flash again, but he takes a breath and slowly backs away from her.  She lowers her weapon, trying to ignore the hurt expression on his face.  Her dad was watching them with a frown, disappointment all over his face.

 

“Scott, tell Derek we’ll meet with him,” he says.

 

“What?  You can’t be serious,” Allison says.  Her dad doesn’t even glance at her, waiting for Scott’s response.

 

“Are you sure?” Scott asks.

 

“Yes.  You can go call him or whoever you need to, while I talk to my daughter,” he says.  Scott nods and side steps around Allison, not making eye contact.  It hurt her to see that she’s hurt him once again.  She shouldn’t have reacted like that.  Again.  “Allison, sit down.”

 

She crosses her arms and ignores his order.  He sighs, but doesn’t push further.

 

“I understand that you’re upset, but we are extremely outnumbered right now.  I’m not even talking about Derek’s pack.  There are five Alphas trying to break their way into our town.  The only reason they haven’t is because of that kid.  I don’t even want to know what you did to him, but Scott is right.  We do not harm humans, ever.  Is that clear?” he asks.  Allison nods, willing to admit that she seriously messed up today.  “Good.  Now about working with Derek-”

 

“No,” she says.   “I don’t understand why we don’t just call other hunters.  You know plenty of people that would want in on this fight.”

 

“Yes and most of them I called in for the last battle.  Only a handful survived and I highly doubt their going to come back for round two.  The two contacts I have left are from out of state and I can’t just call them and ask them to drop whatever they’re doing to fight with us.  They have their own enemies to deal with,” he says.

 

“Yeah, but what’s more pressing than a pack of Alpha werewolves?  That has to be pretty high up on the ‘must kill’ list,” she counters.  He sighs, getting to his feet to stand in front of her, much like Scott had.

 

“Allison, you are very new to this world.  You don’t know what else is out there and I plan to keep it that way for now.  If I called these hunters in, chances are they would bring their own enemies down on us and trust me, we could not handle that,” he says.

 

“But at least we can trust other hunters.  We can’t trust Derek.”

 

“Derek is the closest thing we have to an ally right now.  You can’t always trust other hunters.  We know that better than anyone, Allison.  My family is a prime example of untrustworthy hunters.”

 

Allison slouches slightly as she takes in her dad’s expression.  She wasn’t the only one hurt by what happened and she had to remind herself of that.

 

“Okay, I understand that.  But you really think we can trust them?” she asks.

 

“No, I don’t.  But I trust you and you still trust Scott, right?”

 

“Yes,” she answers.  She’s surprised that she didn’t even hesitate to give that answer.  Even after everything that had happened, Scott was always by her side, constantly trying to protect her.  He had stayed with her to make sure she was alright, even though it was Stiles who had been terrified.  Allison couldn’t even trust herself and yet she trusted this boy who loved her so much.  She questions his loyalty sometimes, but deep down she knows he’d never betray her.

 

“And Scott trusts Stiles?” her dad asks.  She hears footsteps behind her as Scott returns.

 

“Yes, I do,” he answers.

 

“And Stiles trusts Derek?”

 

Scott frowns and says, “Apparently.”

 

“Then that’s good enough for me.  Did you tell him we’re willing to meet?”  Chris asks.  Scott nods.  “Good.  When and where?”

 

“This Friday.  Derek said on the preserve by his house.  But you’re not allowed inside,” he answers with a shrug.  Allison folds her arms, a brow raised.

 

“You mean on his territory,” she states.  “What about your house?  That sounds safer,” she says.  Scott shuffles nervously on his feet.

 

“That’s probably not a good idea.  Got some…stuff…going on,” he mumbles.  Allison opens her mouth to ask, but Scott quickly interrupts her.  “Oh and Derek said no weapons,” he says.

 

“No weapons,” her dad scoffs.  “I’m not going in there unarmed.  I can’t exactly ask you wolves to leave your claws at home, therefore my guns will be accompanying me,” he says.

 

“Yeah, I figured you say that,” Scott sighs.  “So, how about guns, but no wolfs bane bullets,” he offers.  Chris considers it for a moment and then nods in agreement.

 

“No wolfs bane.  Fair enough,” he says.  Scott nods, relieved.  The three of them stand there in awkward silence, Allison and Scott shooting each other lingering glances.  Her dad sighs and starts to leave.  “I’ll let you two talk,” he says on his way out.  The minute he turns the corner, Allison pulls Scott into a tight embrace, surprising him.

 

“I’m sorry,” she whispers.  “For everything, not just today.”

 

Scott wraps his arms around her middle, face tucking into her curls.  “I’m sorry too.  I just wish I knew how to help you,” he whispers back.

 

“You can’t help me,” she says.  Scott sighs, pulling her impossibly closer.  His warmth spreads through her, relaxing her sore muscles.

 

“I’m here, Alli.  Whatever you need, I’m here.  Just know that, okay?” he asks.  She nods into his shoulder and then pulls back to look at him.  She initiates the small kiss this time, surprising him yet again.  Allison pulls him over to the couch so they can talk.  She’s tired of talking about her problems though and Scott is clearly stressed about something.  Something non-werewolf related.

 

“So, what stuff is going on at home?” she asks.  He slumps back into the cushions and pulls her against him.  She rests her head on his shoulder, watching his expressions as he talks.

 

“My dad’s back in town,” he says.  Allison has never heard him talk about his father.  She had asked a few times, but he always said something along the lines of ‘not much to tell’ or ‘he’s not important’.  She never pushed for information since he obviously didn’t want to talk about it.

 

“And?  How’s that going?” she asks.

 

“Terrible.  I didn’t think it would be this bad after only one day,” he grumbles.

 

“What happened?”

 

“He showed up last night, saying he wanted to be a part of my life or some shit.  Mom told him to fuck off and slammed the door in his face, which was actually pretty awesome,” he says, grinning.  Allison chuckled as she pictured Mrs. McCall all heated and cursing.  “Yeah, but I guess he tracked her down at work today.  Made a big scene in front of all her co-workers and was demanding to see me.  She had security escort him out, which I also found awesome.  But she called me a few hours ago in a panic, saying that he somehow got into the house and was refusing to leave.  She didn’t want to call the cops because he ‘technically didn’t do anything’ she said.  So I got there and he was trying to have this epic ‘father-son’ talk with me, saying how he wanted me to live with him and that my mom couldn’t handle being a single mother.  Like, what the fuck does he know?  He hasn’t been around for years and he suddenly wants to be a father again?  He’s a dick,” Scott says.  His voice had started to rise as he got angry, apparently making her father nervous because he showed up, lingering in the doorway.  Scott didn’t seem to notice because he kept talking.

 

“He started yelling about stupid shit and my mom was freaking out.  She can usually handle her own, but she’s never been good at standing up to him when he’s like that.  I told him to leave and he stormed out.  Probably went to a bar or something.  But this day just had monumentally sucked and I was angry, so I kind of snapped at my mom.  I was frustrated that she couldn’t deal with him on her own, you know?  I left after that to come here.  I should probably go back and apologize,” he says.  Allison had laced their fingers together, wanting to comfort him, but not knowing what to say.  They both jumped when the house phone began to ring and her father quickly shuffled away to answer it.  He came back a few minutes later, receiver in hand and motioned to Scott.

 

“It’s your mother.  I, uh, couldn’t really understand what she was saying,” Chris says, handing it over.  Scott’s brow furrows and he quickly answers it.

 

“Mom?” he asks.

 

Allison can hear the woman talking, but couldn’t make out the words.  It sounded like she was crying though.

 

“Mom, slow down, I can’t understand you,” Scott said.  There’s silence for a minute and Allison is assuming she’s trying to calm down.  Scott listens carefully and shock passes over his face.  “Why…when did…did you call the police?” he asks.  Allison watches as anger quickly replaces the shock.  “He what?”

 

Allison flinches when she sees his irises turn gold.  She quickly detaches their hands just as his claws spring out.  His face remains unchanged as he continues to listen.  Her father gently pulls her from the couch, as Scott fights for control.

 

“Mom, I want you to hang up and call the police,” he says.  “Because he could still be there!” he shouts.  The crying on the other end abruptly cuts off and Scott stares at the phone for a minute before dropping it.  Allison hesitantly steps forward, but immediately stops when Scott gets up from the couch.  “I’ll kill him,” he mutters.  Allison can see the panic under the anger and reaches out to him.  Her father quickly pulls her back as Scott’s canines appear.  The wolf heads for the door, repeatedly muttering “I’ll fucking kill him.”

 

Scott runs out of the house and her dad quickly grabs a gun from inside the fireplace.  Allison lunges for the couch, where Scott left his cellphone.  She scrolls through his contacts and quickly dials.

 

“What the hell, man?  It’s like four in the morning,” the voice mumbles.

 

“Stiles, it’s Allison,” she says.  There’s a long silence and she wonders if he hung up on her.  She really wouldn’t blame him.  “Jesus Christ!” he yells suddenly.  She hears him fumble with the phone and curse again.  “Dude, how long have you been there?  What the fuck, that is so creepy.  Seriously, stop doing that,” he says.

 

“Stiles?  Are you still there?” she calls.  He clearly wasn’t talking to her anymore and she needed his attention.

 

“What?  Oh, yeah, I’m here, what’s happening?” he asks.  She can hear him pulling on a jacket, already out of bed and ready for action.

 

“Scott needs help.  His mom called all freaked out.  I think he’s going after his dad.  Stiles, we have to stop him,” she says.

 

“Going after…like about to kill him?” Stiles asks.

 

“Yes, we need to hurry.  We were following him down the street, but he was too fast,” she says.  She climbs into the passenger’s seat and her dad flies down the road, following the street they saw Scott turn onto.

 

“Oh my god, ow!  You could’ve just asked for it,” Stiles grumbles.

 

“Allison?”

 

She pauses, recognizing the voice, but hesitant to talk to him.

 

“I can stop him, just tell me what direction he went,” Derek says.  Allison sighs, knowing that he’s right.

 

“I’m pretty sure he’s headed back to his house.  At least that’s the direction we lost him at,” she answers.

 

“Alright, we’re on our way.  And Allison, don’t shoot him,” he says and then hangs up.  Like she would ever shoot Scott!  She turns to her dad, seeing the tight hold he had on his gun.

 

“Dad, we can’t kill him,” she says.  Surprisingly, he nods in agreement.

 

“This is just a precaution.  I won’t hit anything vital, okay?  He’ll heal from it.  But I won’t shoot unless I think it’s necessary,” he says.  She nods, relieved that her father won’t be killing her boyfriend today.  Maybe.

 

They’re passing the woods that lead to the McCall house, when Allison sees a flash of red in the trees.

 

“Wait, stop!  I think they’re in the woods,” she says, pointing.  Her dad pulls to the side and breaks.  They watch for a few seconds before catching another glimpse of red eyes, this time followed by gold.  They climb out of the SUV, weapons ready just as a blue jeep rolls to a stop behind them.  The Sheriff’s cruiser follows behind, lights flashing and sirens blaring.  He passes them, rolling into the McCall’s driveway.  He runs to where Melissa is standing on the porch and embraces her, calming her down.

 

Allison is pulled back into the moment when a loud roar echoes through the woods.  The three of them run towards it, Allison making sure Stiles is behind her at all times.  They charge into a clearing, finally finding the two wolves.  They’re both in their beta forms and are circling each other.

 

“Scott, buddy,” Stiles says.  He cautiously moves forward, earning a low growl from his wolfed out friend.  Scott takes a step toward him and Allison is quick to pull Stiles behind her, raising her crossbow at her boyfriend.

 

“Scott, stop.  You don’t want to do this,” she says.  She flinches as he snarls at her.

 

“Nope, I’m pretty sure he does,” Stiles mumbles shakily.  The Alpha pounces, tumbling on the ground with the other wolf.  Scott manages to catch Derek with his canines and tears a good chunk out of his side, splattering blood across the grass.  The wolf snarls and rushes at Scott, who growls in Derek’s face and throws him off.  He doesn’t move very far and quickly pins the smaller wolf to the ground and lets out a roar that has the three human’s covering their ears.  The smaller wolf yelps in fear and hastily submits.  Scott’s face transforms back, but his eyes are still an unnatural yellow.

 

“Derek, let go.  That bastard hurt her.  I have to kill him,” he says.  His voice is still distorted, but Allison can see the claws retracting as Derek shifts back to human.

 

“No, you don’t.  If you kill him, you will regret it for the rest of your life.  What you need to do right now is calm down and go be with your mother,” Derek says.  It takes a few minutes, but Scott eventually shifts fully back to human and the hunters lower their weapons.

 

“Okay, okay.  I’m good, get off me,” Scott grumbles and pushes Derek off.  He glances at the woods, making Derek tense in case he decides to run again, but he only scowls at the trees.

 

Scott shakes off the dirt and leaves and runs towards his house, where Melissa and the Sheriff have retreated inside.

 

“Shit,” Stiles mutters, looking at Derek.  His wound is slowly healing as he leans against a tree, but blood is still pumping out of it at a fast pace.  Allison has the fleeting thought that he might die and the reaction surprises her.  She expected to feel elated at the thought if his death, but instead it was a small kind of sadness.  If Derek hadn’t been there tonight, they wouldn’t have been able to stop Scott.  She guessed it was good that he was still alive.  “Shouldn’t it be healing faster?” Stiles asks, panicking as he reaches Derek’s side.

 

“Teeth are a little more lethal than claws,” he mutters, breathing shallow as the wound continues to heal.

 

“Maybe we should get you inside.  Patch you up the normal way to make sure it heals,” Stiles says, hovering over the wound.  He’s fussing with Derek’s shirt, trying to get a better look.  Allison almost feels like she should look away with the way Stiles is worrying over the wolf, the moment more intimate than she expected.  She glances at her dad, to find he was watching the two in surprise.  Okay, so I’m not imagining things.  There’s definitely something weird happening.  She refocuses just as Derek grabs Stiles’ shaking hands to stop him.

 

“Stiles, I’m okay,” he says.

 

“Really?  Tell that to the gaping hole in your side.  You’re not okay, dude.  We need to get you cleaned up,” Stiles says, pulling Derek away from the tree.  The wolf grunts and stops the boy’s flailing arms.

 

“Stiles, it’s healing.  Look, I’ll be fine,” Derek says, holding up his bloody shirt.  The wound had, in fact, completely healed now and Derek looked fine other than maybe a little tired.  Stiles let out a breath and nodded.

 

“Good, good,” he mutters.  Derek frowns and Allison notices he still has his hands on Stiles’ arms.  He’s not constricting him anymore…he’s…what?  Comforting him?  Huh, not what I expected.

 

“Stiles, I told you to stay in the jeep,” he grumbles.

 

“I never do what I’m told.  You should know that,” Stiles quips.

 

“Yeah well, that needs to change.  What if Scott hadn’t backed down?  You could be dead right now,” Derek says, his voice rising into a yell.  Stiles pats the hands on his shoulders, reassuring the wolf that he was fine.

 

“Well, he did back down, and I’m fine.  And you’re fine.  Scott’s not about to kill anyone.  We’re all fine,” he mumbles, nodding to himself.  Derek sighs and lets go of him.  He turns and seems to finally notice the hunters standing awkwardly by.

 

“Um, thank you.  I guess,” he says.

 

“Just doing our job,” Chris says, shrugging.  Derek frowns, but nods in understanding.  He pulls Stiles towards the house, keeping the hunters at his side and not at his back.  Allison enjoys the feeling of having a giant predator fear her.  It makes her feel less helpless and much more in control.  The crossbow in her hands is a reassuring wait as she plays with the trigger.  Stiles glances at her, eyeing the weapon warily.  She quickly lowers it to her side and takes her finger off the trigger.  She stops in her tracks, making the two freeze and watch her.

 

“Stiles, can I talk to you for a minute?” she asks.  He scowls at her and crosses his arms.  Derek shifts closer to him and her father does the same with her.  “I just want to talk, okay?  I promise,” she says.  Allison sighs as no one moves.  She carefully leans over and places her crossbow on the grass by her feet.  It feels uncomfortable to be unarmed with Derek this close, but the relieved look on Stiles’ face is worth it.  Well, she’s not completely unarmed.  She has a plethora of knives stashed in her outfit, but she’s not planning on bringing them out any time soon.  Allison has no intention of ever hurting Stiles again, even if she doesn’t like what he has to say.  Stiles looks to Derek, who shakes his head.  Allison sighs, not really wanting to bring this up in front of Derek or her father, but sees no other option.

 

“I need to apologize for what I did today.  It wasn’t right and I never should have come at you.  I know you don’t trust me and after everything that’s happened, I don’t blame you,” she says.

 

“Did you know I was there?” he asks.  Allison sighs because yes she knew Stiles was in that basement and she didn’t do anything to stop it.

 

“Yes, I did,” she answers.  Stiles nods and looks away from her.  “I wish I could say that I had no idea what he was doing to you, but I can’t.  At the time, I was only focused on getting revenge and nothing was going to stop me.  I am so sorry, Stiles.  I was way out of line today and that night.  I promise to never do that again,” she says.  Derek frowns at her, but she keeps her focus on Stiles.  He’s still avoiding her gaze and she feels her father shift beside her.

 

“Allison, what are you talking about?” he asks.  She winces, though she knew that was coming.  She never told her father about what happened with Stiles.  He only knew about Boyd and Erica.  The other two look at him, surprised by his confusion.  He looks back and forth between the three of them, getting agitated with the silence.  “Someone tell me what’s going on,” he says.

 

“The night I captured the wolves,” Allison starts, tensing at the low rumbling coming from Derek.  Stiles places a hand on his shoulder and shushes him.  “Gerard also kidnapped Stiles,” she finishes.  Denial is etched into her father’s face as he shakes his head.

 

“No, he may have done some questionable things.  But I can’t believe he would hurt a human,” he says.  Allison scowls at him, wishing he would stop being so blind.

 

“Did you not here him that night?  Not only was he going to kill me, but he said he would kill you.  Then he had the Kanima try to finish the job!  You really think he would hesitate to hurt an innocent human?  He kidnapped Stiles that night because the wolves wouldn’t tell us where Derek was.  Gerard beat him until he caved and I do not blame him for it.  He should have never been involved in this,” she says, turning to Stiles.  “And I wish you hadn’t been.  Stiles, I am so sorry for everything we put you through.”

 

Her father stares at the rifle in his hands, processing what she said.  Stiles looks nervous, maybe not knowing how to react to her apology.  She doesn’t expect to be forgiven right away or maybe not at all, but she hopes Stiles won’t hate her forever.

 

“Is all of that true?” a voice asks.  She looks to her right, where Scott has reappeared at the edge of the woods.

 

“You didn’t know, either?” she asks.  She figured Stiles would have told him.  Scott shakes his head, clearly overwhelmed by the information.

 

“Why didn’t you tell me?” he asks.  She’s surprised to find the question aimed at her and not his friend.

 

“I assumed you knew.  He is your best friend after all,” she answers.  He winces at that and turns to his friend, shame burning in his eyes.

 

“Stiles, why didn’t you tell me?” he asks again.  Stiles sighs and folds his arms.

 

“You had enough going on.  Besides, it wasn’t that big of a deal,” he mutters.  Derek huffs at him, but otherwise doesn’t comment.

 

“But it is a big deal!”  Scott shouts, making his friend flinch.  The wolf frowns and quickly crosses over to his friend, attacking him with a large hug.  Stiles makes a noise of complaint, but eventually returns the embrace.  “Dude, I am so sorry.  I should’ve been there.  Or, Jesus, at least asked what happened,” Scott says and then hastily pulls away to look at his friend.  “Oh my god!  I never even asked, did I?  I’m the worst friend ever, I’m so sorry,” he says, once again pulling his friend close.

 

“Scott, it’s okay, I’m fine,” Stiles says, detaching his friend’s arms from his body.  Scott frowns.

 

“No, you’re not.  Is that why…?” he begins to ask, but stops at a deathly glare from Stiles.  “Right, we’ll talk about that later,” he mumbles.  It seems that Stiles is about to protest, but Scott shakes his head.  “No, we’re not arguing about this.  We’re gonna talk about it and I’m going to help you.  Again.  Got it?” he asks.  Allison looks away as Stiles forces a smile and nod through the tears he was holding back.  When she glanced to the older wolf, she was surprised to find Derek’s hand resting on the small of Stiles’ back.  Scott couldn’t see it at his angle, but the two hunters could clearly see the affectionate gesture.  Allison glanced at her dad, who was also watching with curiosity.  He threw Allison basically a ‘wtf’ look that made her want to laugh, but she stifled it.  Probably seeing the light in her eyes, he smiled and reached out to stroke her hair for minute, just like he used to before things got so messed up.  It only lasted for a moment, until he resumed his stance and cleared his throat at the other three.

 

“Maybe we should head inside?” he asks.  Scott looks to him, surprised, but eventually nods and leads them towards the house.  They stop on the front porch and he turns to them.

 

“Um, no guns in the house,” he says.  “Please,” he adds.  Chris frowns but rests his rifle against the house.  Scott nods and then looks over Allison’s outfit.  “Okay, I should have said no weapons at all.  I don’t want my mom to freak out,” he says, gently pulling the crossbow out of her hand.

 

“Oh, right, sorry,” she mutters.  She had actually forgotten she was still carrying it.  Scott raises a brow at her, gesturing towards her outfit, where he very well knew she was packing all kinds of blades.  Allison glares.

 

“What?”

 

“Come on, Alli.  I don’t want a fight to break out in the middle of my living room, which will provoke Stiles’ dad, which will probably give my mom a heart attack.  So, just leave all weaponry outside, okay?  I promise, no one is going to attack,” he says, throwing a pointed glare at Derek, who shrugs.  The wolf was scowling at his tattered shirt, which was still covered in blood.

 

“Fine,” she sighs.  She unzips her jacket and pulls out her two daggers and then leans down to remove the three blades from the inside of her boots.  Allison reaches behind her and snatches the pistol from her waistband and places it on the small table on the porch.

 

“Thought I told you not to take that,” her father mutters.

 

“Must not have heard you,” she shrugs, earning a glare.  Scott shuffles awkwardly, turning towards the older hunter.

 

“Um, Mr. Argent.  You really only came with a rifle?” he asks skeptically.  Chris sighs, opening his jacket and pulling out a large machete, a dagger, and a pistol.  Stiles whistles, looking over their gear.

 

“Bit overkill, no?” he asks.

 

“No,” Chris answers.  Stiles nods frantically, shutting up.  Scott turns to Derek, who’s scowling at the amount of weapons they brought.

 

“There won’t be any growling or claws appearing or any hurting, maiming, or killing of anyone.  Right?” he asks.  Derek nods, but Allison waves a hand, gesturing at the claws he was sprouting.  He looks down, frowning until they slowly retract.  Had he not even noticed?  That wasn’t a good sign, was it?  Scott’s claws rarely came out without him noticing.  Derek catches her watching and his eyes flash at her.  She scoffs and stomps into the house.  Damn wolf was always going to be a problem.  She did not and never will like him.  Allison waits in the hallway, as Scott invites her dad into the house.  Her boyfriend seemed to be arguing with Derek, but the fight was quickly stopped by Stiles, as he moved between them.  Allison shifted closer to hear.

 

“Woah, buddy, chill.  I promise there won’t be any claws or fangs, okay?  We’ll just get him cleaned up and he’ll be good as…um, almost new?  Which by the way is totally your fault,” Stiles says, pointing to the bloody shirt.  Scott frowns, taking in Derek’s appearance.

 

“Um, oh.  I didn’t realize…that I…right, okay, sorry about that.  You can use the bathroom downstairs and I’ll find a shirt,” he says, and then looks over Derek’s torso.  “Or maybe a jacket,” he mumbles.  Derek rolls his eyes and trudges into the house, Stiles right behind him.  Allison follows Scott into the living room, but hesitates as she hears the shouting in the kitchen.  They hang back in the hallway, letting Scott deal with the situation.  Allison strolls around the hall, looking at all the photos on the walls.  She wasn’t really paying attention to them, just distracting herself from the awkward silence.  Which her father was apparently about to break.

 

“You should have told me,” he says.  She sighs and leans against the wall, leaving a good distance between them.

 

“I know.  I wasn’t thinking at the time.  I thought I knew what I was doing,” she answers.

 

“And now?” he asks.  “Do you know what you’re doing?”

 

“Most of the time,” she says, giving him a small shrug.  They descend into silence once again, listening to the other conversations echoing through the house.

 

“Melissa, I promise we’ll find him.  He won’t hurt you again,” the Sheriff was saying.

 

“You can’t promise me that.  I shouldn’t have even called you,” she says.

 

“Shouldn’t have…,” he repeats and then sighs.  “You should always call me.  Especially with something like this,” he says.

 

“It doesn’t involve you.  I should have just called the dispatcher.  This has nothing to do with…well…whatever this is,” she says, lowering her voice.  Scott reappears in the hallway, looking uncomfortable.

 

“Um, I figured they should talk for a while.  We’ll just check in later,” he mumbles.  The three of them lean against the wall, all kinds of awkward.

 

“So, Scott, doing better in school yet?” her dad asks.

 

“Oh, uh, yeah, awesome,” Scott mutters.

 

“That’s good,” Chris mumbles, staring blankly at the floor.  Allison sighs as the distraction from the kitchen dies down.  She perks up again as a new fight travels down the hallway from the closed bathroom door.

 

“Why are you being like this?” Stiles shouts.

 

“Because I am your Alpha now!  If I give you an order I expect you to listen,” Derek yells.  Scott twitches at that, but no one comments.

 

“I’m not one of your wolves, Derek.  You can’t just-”

 

“Stiles, if you can’t handle this, then maybe-”

 

“What?  If you want me to leave, just say it!”

 

“No, damn it, Stiles, that’s not what I want!”

 

“Then what do you want?  Because I really don’t understand,” Stiles yells.

 

“I want you to stay alive!”

 

“I am alive!  I told you I was fine.  Nothing happened.  You’re the one that ended up getting hurt,” Stiles says.

 

“That’s different.  I can heal!”

 

“That not the point, Derek!”

 

“Then what is?” he asks.  Allison can hear Stiles sighs and he lowers his voice.  The three can still hear well enough though.  The sounds are practically echoing off of the walls.  Allison feels a bit bad for eavesdropping, but they were being so loud that even if they moved to another room, they could still hear.

 

“Are we ever going to talk about earlier?” Stiles asks.

 

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Derek answers.

 

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Stiles says.

 

“I don’t know what you want me to say.”

 

“Something honest would be nice.”

 

“Well, honestly Stiles, I don’t care what you thought today was because you’re wrong.  It was nothing, therefore there’s nothing to talk about.”

 

“Wow, nice.  Point taken,” Stiles says.  The doorknob begins to turn, making the three of them shift awkwardly, but it stops after a second.

 

“Stiles, wait.  I didn’t-”

 

“No.  You know what?  I am so done with this.  You say you trust me, but obviously you don’t-”

 

“Stiles, I do, alright?  I just…I don’t how to do this,” Derek says.

 

“Then let me help you.”

 

“You can’t help me,” Derek says.  Allison is surprised to find him uttering the same words she had a few hours ago.  Scott glances at her, his face scrunching up at the recent memory.  Allison wonders if that statement was followed by an embrace as well and surprises herself by hoping that it was.  It’s not a good feeling to think that no one can help you.

 

The two are silent for a while and Chris motions for them to leave.  Allison takes Scott’s hand as they go to check on his mother.  They open the door to the kitchen and find the Sheriff holding Melissa while she cries on his shoulder.  They back out quickly, not wanting to disturb them.

 

“We should probably go,” Chris says.  Allison nods and he leaves her to say good night to Scott.  He leads her back to the front door, just as Derek and Stiles are returning.  Derek avoids them all and strolls out the front door, Stiles following with less enthusiasm than before.  He pats Scott on the shoulder on his way out.

 

“See you later, buddy,” he mutters.  He picks up the pace to catch up with the wolf and they climb into his blue jeep.  Stiles is asking him something, but Derek is apparently ignoring him.  This night has really confused her.  Her drive to kill the Alpha seems to be missing and she kind of wants it back.

 

“What are you thinking?” Scott asks, brushing her hair behind her ear.

 

“It’s just been a weird night,” she answers, watching the jeep drive away.  Allison refocuses on Scott, who’s giving her a small smile.  “Why aren’t you mad at me?” she asks.

 

“Why would I be?”

 

“Because of what happened with Stiles,” she answers.  Scott sighs and jams his hands in his pockets.

 

“I’m not gonna pretend to know why you did it, but it was still Gerard’s fault.  You shouldn’t have gone along with it, but it’s in the past, right?  I figure you’re trying to be better and that’s all I can ask of you,” he says.  Allison wraps her arms around his waist and rests her head on his shoulder.  He was so kind and way too good for her, but she was glad he wasn’t angry.

 

“I’m sorry,” she whispers.  He rubs a hand down her back, holding her tight.

 

“I know,” he says.  She leaves soon after with her father and it’s a quiet and uncomfortable ride home.  She can see the despair on his face and knows he’s still dealing with the new information about what Gerard did.  Allison is assuming he’s fairly disappointed in her too, but she doesn’t say anything.  He retreats to his room when they get home and doesn’t come out for the rest of the night.  Allison trudges into her room, flips on the light, and yelps.

 

“Lydia, how the hell did you get in here?” she asks.  The girl is perched on her bed and had apparently been sitting in the dark, waiting for her.  Again.  That was getting kind of creepy.

 

“Your back door was unlocked,” she says.

 

“And you’re just sitting here in the dark?” she asks.  Lydia shrugs and Allison sighs, finally taking in her expression.  She sits next to her friend, taking her hand.

 

“Alright, tell me what’s wrong,” she says.  Lydia moves away, slipping her hand away from Allison’s.

 

“Is anyone ever going to explain what happened?” she asks, crossing her arms.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“What do you think I mean?  All of my friends lied to me for an entire year and treated me like a complete moron.  Were any of you ever going to tell me?” she asks.

 

“We were just trying to keep you safe,” Allison answers.  She realizes that it was a lame answer, but she couldn’t think of what to say.  She was never expecting Lydia to actually confront her about it.  It didn’t seem like the girl wanted to know anything.

 

“Keep me safe?  How’d that work out?  I got attacked by a werewolf who ended up mind controlling me into resurrecting him from the dead!  Then I find out my boyfriend is some kind of lizard creature who kills people and somehow my love saved him, only for him to disappear.  And my best friend hunts these things even though her boyfriend is a werewolf.  The only person who talked to me all summer was Danny, who by the way still knows absolutely nothing.  How did that happen?” she asks.  Allison was surprised by the angry tangent, but couldn’t deny that any of it wasn’t true.  She patted the bed for Lydia to sit back down and she reluctantly did.

 

“I’m sorry I lied to you.  And I’m sorry I wasn’t around during the summer.  I thought you didn’t want to see me,” she says.  Lydia slumps and leans against the headboard.

 

“I didn’t.  Not at first.  And I’m sorry for that too.  I should’ve been around after…well…everything that happened,” Lydia says.  Allison takes her hand again, glad to see Lydia not pull away this time.

 

“We were trying to keep you safe, but you’re right.  We didn’t do a very good job of it.  Where do you want me to begin?” she asks.

 

“Have you always known about this stuff?” Lydia asks.

 

“No, I didn’t know until last year.  My aunt told me everything,” she says.

 

“The woman Peter killed?” she asks hesitantly.

 

“Yeah, how did you know about that?” she asks.

 

“I kind of saw it…in his head I mean,” she says.  Allison doesn’t know what to say to that.  She had no idea the former Alpha’s hold on the girl had been that strong.  “I saw what she did too,” she adds.  Allison nods, not wishing to remember what her aunt did.  It was the biggest thing that made her have sympathy for the wolves and she didn’t like to think about it.

 

“What else do you want to know?” she asks.

 

“I get that Peter, Derek, Scott, Isaac, Boyd, and Erica are werewolves.  But what was Jackson?” she asks.

 

“A creature called a Kanima.  It’s another type of shape shifter.  Derek bit him to turn him into a wolf, but he mutated into that instead.  And you were right earlier.  Your love brought him back,” she says gently.

 

“Yeah, lot of good it did.  He left,” Lydia snaps.

 

“Lyd, I don’t think he left,” she says.  Lydia nods and wraps her arms around herself.

 

“You all think he was taken,” she whispers.  Allison nudges closer, detecting the tears in her friends voice.

 

“Yes, we think that.  But we don’t know for sure.  He could be fine,” she says.  They sit quietly for a minute as Lydia pulls herself together.

 

“What about Stiles?  Where does he fit in all this?” she asks eventually.

 

“He helped Scott when he first became a werewolf.  Helped him with the transition and taught him control, which I still have no idea how he did.  But like you, we kind of failed to keep him safe,” she mutters, looking away.

 

“I went to see him.  The night Jackson collapsed on the field,” Lydia says.  Allison perks up at that, wondering if they might have something.  She knows how much Stiles cared for Lydia, although she wasn’t sure about that anymore.

 

“Why?”

 

“I knew something was going on and figured he might tell me.  He always seemed to care even though I don’t get why,” Lydia says, shrugging.

 

“What happened?” she asks.

 

“It was weird at first.  He had all this stuff in his room that he apparently bought for my birthday,” she says, laughing slightly.  Allison smiles, remembering the giant box he showed up to the party with.  She still has no idea what was in it.  “But, um, when Scott texted him about Jackson, he asked how much I knew.  I told him I only remembered pieces of it and most of it was like a dream.  I told him that I could help Jackson and he got angry.  Saying something along the lines of if I got hurt he wouldn’t know what to do.  His last words kind of stuck with me though.  He said ‘Death doesn’t happen to you, it happens to everyone around you.  To all the people left standing at your funeral trying to figure out how they’re gonna live the rest of their lives without you in it’,” Lydia says.  Allison listens intently, surprised that Lydia got that reaction out of him.  Her friend shrugs and looks at her.  “But by that point I figured he wasn’t really talking about me anymore,” she says.

 

“What do you mean?” Allison asks.

 

“Even though he was yelling at me, I could tell by the look on his face that it wasn’t really about me,” she says.  “Who did he lose?” she asks.

 

“I guess he could’ve been talking about his mother.  Scott told me she died when he was young,” Allison answers.  The thought makes her remember what happened yesterday at lunch, thinking back on what he said.  Stiles was probably angry that her mother chose to leave.  Allison understood.  She was angry about that too.

 

“Makes sense I guess,” she mumbles.  “I’m assuming you know why he was hurt that night?” she asks.  Allison looks away, hating that this kept coming up.

 

“Yeah, that was our fault.  Gerard, my grandfather, hurt him,” she answers.  Lydia nods and doesn’t press any further.

 

“So, we’re still not safe right?” she asks.

 

“No,” Allison sighs.  “But I promise I’ll do my best to protect you,” she says, squeezing her friends hand.

 

“Or you could train me?” Lydia asks quietly.  Allison glances at her, seeing that she’s serious.

 

“Are you sure?  You could just pretend none of this happened and go back to living as a normal teenager.  Hang out with Danny, make new friends.  You don’t have to get involved,” she says.

 

“I don’t want to pretend anymore.  I’m a part of this now.  Besides, you guys know you’re gonna have to explain things to Danny too, right?” she asks.

 

“What?  Why?  What happened?” Allison asks, slightly panicked.  Lydia snorts and shakes her head at her.

 

“You mean besides being paralyzed by a creature of the night and then having his best friend supposedly die on the field, only for him to come back and disappear again?” she asks.  Allison nods, seeing the potential problem.  “Not to mention the fact that he’s dating a werewolf,” she adds.

 

“What?  Who?” she asks.

 

“Isaac.  They’ve been dating almost the entire summer.”

 

“Huh, guess I’m really out of the loop,” Allison says.  Danny was dating Isaac?  She didn’t even know Isaac was gay.  She thought Isaac liked Erica.  But Erica liked Boyd so he couldn’t have her.  Wow, weird night.

 

“So, about training me?” Lydia prods.

 

“Oh, right,” she sighs.  “Well, if you’re serious, then I’d be happy to.”

 

“I am serious.  I want to know how to protect myself,” she says.  Allison nods, thinking back on a conversation she had with Scott a few months ago.  He was telling her about how Deaton, his boss, wanted to teach Stiles magic or something.  At the time, the vet had asked them to talk to Lydia too, but everyone was so caught up in their own drama, no one ever got around to it.  She takes a piece of paper and a pen out of her nightstand and writes down the man’s name and address of his clinic.

 

“In the meantime, you should see this guy.  He can teach you things too.  Things that will keep you safe.  I would go with you, but he’s kind of got a ‘No hunters allowed’ policy at the moment,” she says, handing the card over.  Lydia raises a brow at the address.

 

“Isn’t that the animal hospital?” she asks.

 

“Yeah, Deaton is the vet there.  But trust me, he knows a lot about this stuff,” she says.  Lydia nods, placing the card in her purse.

 

“I’ll go after school tomorrow.  Then I’ll come here so you can teach me,” she says, hopping off the bed.  Allison watches her prance out the door, blowing a kiss to her on the way out.  She laughs, glad to see her friend acting like herself again.  Allison hunkers down into her blankets hoping for a restful sleep before school tomorrow.

 

She dreams of bloody arrows, crying werewolf girls, and Alpha’s on fire.  It’s not a pleasant night.

 

Lydia

 

As she sat idly in chemistry the next day, tuning out Harris’ lecture because she’d already read ahead in the book, she decided to people watch.  It was one of her favorite hobbies and came in handy when interacting with said people.  Lydia decided to focus on her group of so called friends.  Or at least the ones that were in this class with her, which included Danny, Isaac, Scott, and Stiles.  How did this become my group of friends?  Where the hell had her popularity gone?  Oh right, I was attacked and then ran through the woods naked.  Thank you, Peter Hale, she thought.  Her reputation was complete crap now and she had tried so hard to maintain it.

 

But she supposes it isn’t all bad.  At least she still had friends…or at least she thinks they’re her friends.  Honestly, she has no idea.  Danny sits next to her every day and spent time with her over the summer in Jackson’s absence.  He watched movies at her house, though she complained every time because he refused to watch The Notebook.  Jackson always caved on that, but not Danny.  The guy liked horror movies and wouldn’t watch anything that even resembled a romantic comedy.  But she didn’t mind because he covered her eyes during the really gory parts and she held his popcorn so he wouldn’t spill it every time something jumped out at them.  He’d become a good friend during the last few months.  They never talked about Jackson.

 

Lydia watched as Danny helped Isaac with his lab worksheet.  They were cute together, though she worried about Danny’s safety.  Isaac seemed harmless enough, but she’d heard stories from Allison about how he was when he first turned.  He seemed nice enough, but she couldn’t be sure.  Isaac would once in a while join their movie nights and he was always polite, but never said much.  Lydia would cover them with a blanket when they fell asleep on her couch before retreating to her own bed.

 

She turned to watch the other wolf in the room as he frowned at his paper.  Lydia had never really clicked with Scott, but she was nice to him because of Allison.  She remembers the kiss they shared, but there hadn’t really been anything there.  She only did it because Jackson had been a jerk that day and Lydia had been bored.  She felt really bad afterward because Jackson actually seemed to notice and Allison found out.  Lydia wishes she could take that back, but there’s no point on dwelling on it.  Scott violently erased one of his answers on his paper and his face scrunched up as he concentrated.  He gave up within seconds and peeked at his friend’s paper.

 

Stiles rolled his eyes, took Scott’s paper from him and filled in the answer, muttering ‘idiot’ when he handed it back.  Scott just grinned and punched his friend in the arm.  Lydia was happy to see that they seemed to be getting along better.  She’d noticed that when they got back to school, Stiles would avoid Scott every chance he got, sitting across the room, dodging him in the halls, and trying to stay away during lunch.  Lydia had sat at his table that day, not realizing it would start a fight.  She had seen the tense greetings, but didn’t think they’d be dumb enough to start something in the crowded cafeteria.  Lydia pretty much blamed Scott for how it started.  He had clearly been peeved with Stiles’ icy behavior and decided to ignore him for Isaac.  Lydia hadn’t understood everything they were talking about, but the disbelief, anger, fear, and betrayal was written all over Stiles’ face.  The others may have looked the same, but she didn’t have a good view of them.  Lydia had thought it would blow over within a few minutes, but when Isaac pulled Danny from the table, she knew it was going to be bad.  She had thought of leaving with them, but decided not to.  It was one more thing she didn’t want to just ignore.  She wanted to be an actual part of this group and running away every time the drama started wasn’t the proper thing to do.

 

Lydia was worried for Allison at first because she looked so uncomfortable when the boys were fighting.  They had just gotten through one hellish night and she didn’t want it to happen again.  She had wanted to say something, but was soon too fascinated by watching the spectacle unfold.  Lydia didn’t miss every time Stiles would flinch when Allison spoke and wondered if her friend had done something to cause it, or Stiles was just generally afraid in this new world they’d all been brought into.  Of course, now she suspects it’s because of what Allison told her about Gerard.  She had wanted to ask more, but Allison got that scary look on her face.  The same one she wore during lunch yesterday.

 

Lydia had watched as that hard mask came over her friend’s face as she spoke to Stiles.  She had never seen it up close, but it appeared more often after the death of her mother.  Lydia didn’t like it at all.  The cold, hard, violent girl was not Allison and she was hoping to work on that eventually.  Get her kind-hearted friend back.  She knew it would take time, if it happened at all, but she was still going to try.

 

When Stiles yelled at Allison, it was so different from when he yelled at her in his room.  That night, he had been mad but Lydia knew he was only worried about her and upset about everything in general.  But yesterday was different.  The summer had changed him and though Lydia didn’t know him very well, she already missed the light-hearted boy who tried so desperately to get her attention.

 

She had no idea what to do when Allison reached across the table and threatened him.  What does someone with no training or supernatural strength do in that situation?  She had been so relieved when Isaac stepped in, especially since Scott had been utterly useless and was staring at his girlfriend in shock.  Way to protect your friend, she thought.  When it was over, Lydia had seen the tears in Allison’s eyes and immediately reached for her hand, but the girl drew away.  She saw the utter terror on Stiles’ face and had really hoped his friend would go after him, but Scott was more concerned with Allison.  Which she can’t blame him for.  He’s in love with her, of course he’s going to check on her first.  Lydia had been the first to leave, wanting to make sure Stiles wasn’t about to do something stupid.

 

She had seen him through a window and saw Derek approach him.  Stiles had looked afraid at first and Lydia had to look away when he vomited in the bushes.  Like, really, gross.  When she looked back, Derek was holding him and she could hear him trying to soothe the boy.  Lydia watched, fascinated by the affectionate embrace.  Had Stiles finally moved on from her?  She really hoped so because that was never going to happen.  Stiles was nice and extremely adorable, but she would never be interested.  He just wasn’t her type, she guesses.  Lydia left the moment she saw Stiles start to cry in the wolf’s arms, figuring she had disturbed his privacy enough as it was.

 

The bell rang just as she finished analyzing her friends and she quickly headed to her next class.  She sat down next to Allison, who waved.

 

“Hey, girly.  Should I come over after Deaton’s tonight?” she asks.

 

“Maybe tomorrow.  My dad’s teaching me something new which will probably be painful but useful,” she sighs.  “Besides, it may take a while at the vets,” she adds.  Lydia nods, a bit disappointed, but understanding.  “I hope you don’t mind, but I told Scott.  Who told Stiles.  And now he wants to give you a ride,” she says.  Lydia scowls at her just as Stiles plops down in the seat behind her.

 

“Hey, Lydia,” he says, grinning.

 

“Stiles,” she greets and flips her hair in his face.  His nose twitches and he frowns, about to comment, but she cuts him off.  “Look, I don’t need a ride.  I can get to the vets all by myself,” she says.

 

“Oh, right, of course.  Can I ride with you then?” he asks.

 

“And why would you do that?” she asks.

 

“Well, I was going there anyway and figured we could just ride together,” he answers, shrugging.  She throws him a fake smile.  Not happening.

 

“I’ll just meet you there,” she says.  Stiles was nice and everything, but if he was going to start this pining crap again, she was so not dealing with that.

 

“Right, okay.  Awesome.  See you there,” he says, nodding.  Lydia sighs and turns to the front just to see Mr. Finstock throw a paper ball at Greenberg’s head.  So mature.  How the hell is he a teacher?

 

“I really hope people did the reading because half of you failed yesterday’s pop quiz.  There were only three people who got A’s, so congratulations to Lydia, Stiles, and Danny,” he says, throwing the quizzes in the air with a frown.  “Somebody pick that up,” he mumbles and then sits at his desk.  Lydia raises a brow, her assumption that Stiles was, in fact, smart being confirmed.  She tunes out Finstock’s rambling of how this generation was getting dumber by the moment.  Lydia gives a thought to Stiles driving her to Deaton’s.  Though the jeep was a total piece of crap, it ran pretty smooth and Lydia didn’t really feel like driving all the way across town.  But if she was going to do this, there needed to be ground rules and she really needed to address this crush thing with him.  The bell rang sooner than she thought it would and she picked up her books and purse yet again.  Lydia turned to Stiles, a hand on her hip.  He flailed slightly at the sudden attention, dropping his books and pencils.  Smooth, real smooth.

 

“You,” she said, snapping at him and then thrusting her books at him.  “Carry these and follow me,” she orders.  Stiles quickly scrambles to pick everything up and follows her out into the hallway.  She leads him towards the cafeteria, stopping at the double doors.

 

“What classes do you have left?” she asks.

 

“Um, a free period and then English,” he says, his tongue darting out nervously.  Lydia thinks about that, realizing that they have almost the exact same schedule.  Huh, she hadn’t noticed that yesterday.

 

“You opposed to skipping English?” she asks.  It was only the third day of school and Danny could give them the notes they miss, not that she needed them anyway.

 

“Oh, uh, no?” he asks.  “I mean, yeah, I can skip it.  Who needs English,” he says, smiling at her.  She resists the urge to roll her eyes and turns on her heal, listening to him clumsily follow her.  Lydia stops by the lockers and spins around, once again hitting him the face with her silken locks.  His face scrunches as he tries not to sneeze.  She loves doing that.

 

“Good.  We’re going out to lunch.  You can put those in my locker,” she says, pointing to the blue door at her right.  She never locks it because anything valuable is in her purse, so what’s the point.  She watches as Stiles maneuvers the books and pencils into the locker, dropping half of it in the process.  She rolls her eyes and turns to leave, expecting him to follow.  Which he does.  She finds his jeep in the parking lot and is about to reach for the door, when Stiles rushes up and opens it for her.  Lydia can’t fight the small smile at the gesture because it was just so sweet and so very Stiles.  He even offers a hand to help her climb in and she takes it.  He scrambles across the front to get to the other side, tripping on his way there.  Oh my gosh, he is such a mess.

 

“Right, so where to?” he asks.

 

“Olive garden shouldn’t be too crowded,” she says.  Stiles stares at her for a minute.  “What?” she asks.

 

“I was kind of thinking more…like…subway or something,” he answers.

 

“You’re kidding,” she scoffs, but he shakes his head.  A quiet stubbornness comes over him, surprising her.

 

“Olive garden is expensive and sorry but I’m not spending like 50 bucks on lunch.  Unless this is a date or something,” he says.  Lydia raises a brow at him, once again, surprised by the ‘no-flailing’ confidence he had going on.  She was slightly impressed, but there was no way she was going to cave.

 

“It’s either Olive Garden or no lunch.  You pick,” she says, smiling.  He sighs, turning away to put his seat belt on.

 

“Fine, but you’re paying,” he says, throwing her an equally icy smile.  Huh, so there’s more to him than being a spastic dork.  Good to know.

 

“Alright, but that officially cancels out any possibility of labeling this as a date,” she teases.

 

“Never really thought it was one,” he says, stepping on the gas.  He turns the radio on, switching through channels until leaving it on some country station.

 

“You listen to country?” she asks.  She will never ever admit that she knew the song that was playing.  By heart.

 

“Sometimes.  You?” he asks.

 

“It’s not bad,” she mutters, earning a surprised glance.  He turns the music up as he flies down the highway.

 

“Ain’t it funny how it feels when your burning your wheels…somewhere between goin’ and gone…you get so lost that you can’t turn it off…you give in and you just turn it on…she’s a heart full of rain, red lips like a flame…she’s a girl from your favorite song…”

 

Stiles was tapping along to the music, not being subtle with the random glances he was throwing her.

 

“What a beautiful mess…one part angel, one part perfect, one part a wreck…the kind of flood you’ll never forget…”

 

Lydia sighs, knowing that he’s probably relating the song to her because that’s just so very Stiles.  She quickly turns the music down and turns on his iPod jack, not wanting to encourage such thinking about her.  She reads the screen and sees he had stopped it halfway through some song by some band she had never heard of.  Lydia presses play, curious to see what else he listens to.  She’s always believed that the music a person listens to, tells you what the person is actually thinking and feeling.

 

“Clear away this hate…and we can start to make it alright…so fly away…and leave it behind…return someday…with red in your eyes…”

 

Lydia was listening to the words and only looked away from the dash when she saw Stiles’ fingers flex on the wheel as he frowned at the iPod.

 

“I see you…’cause you won’t get out of my way…I hear you…’cause you won’t quit screaming my name…I feel you…’cause you won’t stop touching my skin…I need you…they’re coming to take you away…”

 

Stiles ripped the iPod out and threw it in the back seat just as they pulled into the restaurant’s parking lot.  Someone’s touchy today.

 

“Alright, let’s go eat ridiculously priced Italian food,” he says, hopping out of the jeep.  Acting like nothing just happened.  Okay, I can respect that.  I do it all the time.

 

Stiles comes around to open her door again and helps her out.  They don’t say anything on the way in and wait in silence at the podium.

 

“Table for two?” the waiter asks.  Stiles nods and they follow the man back to a secluded booth.  The waiter hands them their menus and gives Stiles a wink before leaving.  Stiles blushes and looks down at his menu.

 

“So, do you usually get an appetizer?” he asks.

 

“No, just the entree.”

 

“I’ve never been here before.”

 

“I figured,” she says.  Stiles sighs and flips to the next page on the menu.  “I usually just get a salad and an iced tea,” Lydia says.  Stiles nods, as if he expected that answer.  Maybe he did.  She wonders if he observes people like she does.  The waiter returns a few minutes later and Lydia is about to order, but he speaks first.

 

“What can I get you, sir?” he asks.  Lydia wants to roll her eyes at how obvious he’s being, but just sits politely to wait for her turn.

 

“Um, I’ll have a diet coke and the Apricot Chicken,” he says, his blush returning as the waiter’s eyes travelled over him.  Lydia did, in fact, roll her eyes this time.

 

“Nice choice.  That’s a really good dish,” he gushes and then turns to her.  His eyes widen slightly, seeming to finally notice her and his smile falters slightly.  Probably assuming she was Stiles’ date.

 

“And for you miss?”

 

“An iced tea and a Caesar Salad, please,” she answers.

 

“Of course,” he says.  Lydia glared at him until he left.  There was no wink this time.  Seriously, be a little more professional.

 

“So, this is nice, but why are we here again?” Stiles asks.

 

“Because I thought it was time we talked.  If we’re going to spend the entire afternoon together, I figure we should clear the air now,” she says.

 

"Um, okay, sure.  What about?” he asks.  Their drinks arrive and Stiles is quick to put his straw in.  He takes a few sips and then proceeds to chew on it nervously.  Lydia sips hers at the same time, watching Stiles watch her.  Yeah, that needs to stop.  Now that they were here though, she wasn’t really sure how to start.

 

“Stiles, I wanted to thank you…I guess…for helping with Jackson,” she says.  Guess that’s as good a place to start as any.  Stiles tenses and sets his drink down.

 

“No problem,” he mutters.  Lydia nods and plays with her straw, not knowing how to continue.  Stiles looks up at her, watching her expression.  “Was that it?” he asks.

 

“No, not really.  Stiles…I know you…that you…” she sighs.  She’s rejected plenty of men, but this time was different.  Lydia still wanted to keep this one as a friend even after the rejection.  “I’m still in love with Jackson,” she blurts out.  Well, that was one way to do.

 

“Yeah, I got that,” he says, nodding.  “With the whole Kanima is saved by your love thing,” he mumbles.

 

“Right, that,” she says, sipping at her tea.  “I just…I want you to know that I haven’t forgotten what you said at the dance,” she says.  Stiles looks way, fiddling with his fork.  “And I know you have…um, feelings for me…or something…but I’m still in love with him.  I’m sorry,” she says.  The waiter shows with their meals right as she finishes speaking.  He glances between them and sets the plates down.

 

“Anything else I can get you?” he asks hesitantly.  Stiles straightens up and forces a smile.

 

“Nope, we’re good,” he says.  “Super, awesome, fantastic,” Stiles mutters as the waiter walks away.  Lydia decides to focus on her food, wondering if she should say more.  She wishes he would say something because the silence is extremely uncharacteristic.  Stiles shovels vegetables in his mouth, careful not to spill any of it.  He’s actually really adorable.  It would be so much easier if I were in love with him.  But there’s just nothing there.  And she refuses to even think about the weird and possibly inappropriate feelings she’s having for a certain older werewolf.  Stiles sighs and plays with his asparagus.

 

“Lydia, I get that you’re not into me, okay?  And it’s fine, it really is.  I’m I don’t know…over it?  That sounds kind of harsh, but I don’t know how else to phrase it.  Right now, I’m only trying to be your friend,” he says, finally looking up at her.

 

“Good, that’s good.  I’d like to be friends,” she says.  His eyes widen at her words.

 

“Really?  Because I totally thought you hated me,” he says.  Lydia laughs at his wide brown eyes, she can’t help it.

 

“I never hated you, Stiles.  Before the dance, I’ll be honest I didn’t really know who you were.  But my parents told me how you stayed at the hospital all weekend,” she says.

 

“Oh, right, well I wanted to make sure you were okay,” he mutters.  His mouth opens and closes, clearly hesitating to say something.  “Lydia…can I ask what happened?  Not that night…but at the end of last year?” he asks.  Lydia chews on a tomato as she thinks about how to answer that.  Do I even want to answer that?  I did say I wanted to be friends.

 

“I don’t remember much of it,” she lies.  Baby steps, she thinks.  I’ll probably tell him eventually, but not yet.  “It’s complicated.  He was complicated,” she adds.  Stiles blinks as he thinks that over.

 

“Are you talking about Peter?” he asks.  The name sparks something inside her, a flame that had dulled but now grows.

 

“Yes,” she answers.  She takes in a mouthful of lettuce, not wishing to explain anymore of it.  Stiles seems to take the hint and finally starts eating his chicken.  Lydia looked down at her bowl, noticing it was already half empty.  They had been sitting here for quite a while actually, so she was surprised by how little Stiles ate.  “So, what’s with this vet we’re going to see?” she asks, refocusing on her own food.  Maybe he’s not very hungry.

 

“He’s kind of like an advisor for the wolves, I guess.  I’m not exactly sure what he is because I never got to ask questions,” he says.

 

“So, he’s a friend of Derek’s?” she asks.  Stiles tenses and puts down his fork to drink his soda.  Interesting.

 

“Not really.  I’m actually not supposed to be seeing him…so if we could keep this between us, that’d be great,” he says, chewing on his straw.  How was that straw not broken yet?

 

“Sure, no problem,” she says.  Stiles nods and eats another piece of chicken.  “But just so you know, Allison, Scott, and Isaac already know,” Lydia adds.  Stiles sighs and pushes his plate away.

 

“Right,” he grumbles.  He thinks for a minute and then looks over the table.  “You done?” he asks.  Lydia glances down at her bowl.  Not really, but he’s getting all antsy.  He obviously wants to go.  And he’s kind of freaking me out with all the fidgeting.

 

“Um, sure.  Let me just get the check,” she says, flagging down their waiter.  The man frowns at their unfinished meals, but a few minutes later, they’ve paid and are climbing back into the jeep.  The waiter gave Stiles another wink, but he didn’t notice.  He doesn’t even realize he’s attractive, does he?  They drive to the animal hospital in silence.  She still didn’t know him very well, but all the quietness seemed odd.

 

He ushers her into the clinic, the bell chiming as they enter.  A nice looking man emerges from the back and smiles at them.

 

“Well, it’s about time,” he says, opening the gate for them.  Lydia wants to question that statement, but Stiles is already heading into the back room, so she follows.  “What made you change your mind Stiles?”

 

“My dad found out.  So, more protection is a must,” Stiles says.

 

“Oh, good.  Having the Sheriff know will be very helpful,” Deaton says, nodding happily.  Stiles frowns.

 

“Yeah, I guess.  But like I said, more protection.  So, teach me stuff,” Stiles says, gesturing wildly.

 

“Slow down.  This is going to take time.  Besides, I haven’t properly introduced myself yet,” the man says, extending his hand to her.  “My name is Alan Deaton.  It’s nice to finally meet you, Lydia.”

 

“Finally?”

 

“Well, yes, I’ve heard quite a lot about you.  Survived a werewolf attack, mostly unscathed.  That’s quite impressive,” he says.  Lydia only shrugs because she really didn’t do anything.  In fact, she lied in the grass bleeding until Jackson saved her, so there wasn’t much to say about it.  She doesn’t know why she’s immune, but she assumes that it’s a reason she’s still alive even after everything.

 

“So, Allison said you would teach me to protect myself,” she says.

 

“Oh, yes, Allison Argent.  How is she doing?” he asks.  He’s rummaging through cabinets, not seemingly interested in the answer.

 

“She’s fine,” Lydia answers.  The man nods and pulls out multiple trays of vials filled with different colored powders.  Stiles reaches for one, but Deaton pulls the tray away.

 

“No touching.  Not yet,” he says, sighing.  “If you two are going to learn any of this, I’m going to need you to focus and do what I tell you.  Can you manage that?” he asks.  Though he was speaking to both of them, his eyes remained fixed on Stiles, who scoffed.

 

“I can listen.  I am a terrific student,” he says.  Lydia tries to muffle the laughter, but fails, making Stiles glare at her.  She pats his arm in apology.

 

“I believe you can be, if you want to be,” Deaton says.  “After all, you managed to create two barriers already.”

 

“What barriers?” Lydia asks.

 

“I put a shield of sorts around the Hale territory so the Alpha’s couldn’t get in.  Which, by the way, is weakening, and fast.  But the first time was the night of the rave,” Stiles mumbles, reading the labels on the vials.  “When we were trying to figure out who was controlling Jackson.”  Lydia nodded, gladly dropping the subject.  Deaton pulls out two bottles filled with some kind of black powder, placing one in front of each of them, then pushing the trays to the side.

 

“This is called Mountain Ash.  Both of you pour a small amount onto the table,” he instructs.  They uncap their bottles and do as asked.  “This powder feeds off of imagination.  If you believe you can do something with it, then it will work.”

 

“Be the spark,” Stiles says, grinning.

 

“Exactly.  Now, watch what I do and try to repeat it,” he says.  The man pours out his own powder and takes a breath before placing his hand right into the pile.  Lydia watches as he concentrates and continues taking even breaths.  He slowly begins to raise his hand from the table and the ash follows his movements, rising into the air beneath his hand.  Even after he removed his hand, the substance remained suspended in air, the particles swirling up into a line as they circled each other.

 

“Awesome,” Stiles whispers.  Deaton smiles as the powder twists and turns in the air, moving around the room with ease, and eventually falling neatly back into its bottle.

 

“If you believe it’s possible, you can bend the ash to your will without any problem,” he explains.  “Now you try,” he says.  Lydia looks at her pile, hesitant to touch it.  She held back to watch as Stiles gently placed his hand in his pile.  It took him a few tries, lifting with nothing happening, but on his third attempt the mountain ash rose into the air.  Lydia thought it would fall once he retracted his hand, but she was wrong.  Stiles seemed to pick up the new power with ease leaving the powder suspended and watching it twirl.  She looked down at her own pile and carefully placed her hand in it.  The grains shifted under her palm and they were surprisingly warm to the touch.  She concentrated, imagining the dust rising beneath her hand and lifted.  Nothing happened.  Okay, just relax, try again.  After the fifth attempt, Lydia huffed and pulled her hand away.

 

“It’s not working.  Clearly I’m not…what am I supposed to be again?” she asks.

 

“We’re called witches, but we’re still essentially human.  Different levels and types of witches obviously, but witches nonetheless,” Deaton says.  “And trust me, you are one.  It just takes time for some people.  Keep trying,” he says.  “Stiles, it’s not a toy,” he reprimands.  Lydia looked over to where Stiles’ mountain ash had spread out in the air and was moving in a wave.

 

“I know that.  I was just testing it out,” he says, gaze still transfixed on the moving particles.  Lydia scowled and turned back to her own, once gain placing her hand on it.  This is going to work.  I will not be outdone by Stilinski.  She keeps repeating that in her head as she slowly raises her hand.

 

“Oh my god,” she whispers.  It’s moving!  The mountain ash floats off the table, trailing after her fingers.  She doesn’t move to take her hand away, not wanting to break the spell.  A bell chimes in the distance, but she pays it no attention.

 

“Stiles!” a voice shouts.  Lydia breaks eye contact with the dust and it falls, scattering across the table top.

 

“Oh, goddamn it,” she says and then turns to the scowling, leather-wearing werewolf.  “Did you have to do that?  I just got it to work,” she grumbles.  Derek only glares at her and then turns back to Stiles, who’s still playing with his mountain ash, apparently not having heard the wolf.

 

“Stiles,” he says, moving closer.  Stiles jumps and the powder quickly falls from the air, slowly coating both himself and the floor.

 

“Oh, dude, gross,” he mumbles, trying to brush the ash off.  After a few seconds, his eyes widen and he looks up.  “Uh, hey Derek,” he says.  The wolf crosses his arms and scowls at him.

 

“I thought I told you this wasn’t a good idea,” he says.  Stiles rolls his eyes, blinking rapidly when dust got in them.

 

“Yes, but I thought it was a great idea, which it is,” he says.  Then looking down at his outfit, mumbles “Well, it was going great.”

 

Derek frowns as he looks him over and takes a small step back.  He glances at her, taking in the scattered remains of her mountain ash.

 

“What were you actually doing?” he asks, finally looking at the Vet.

 

“I was teaching them how to control the mountain ash,” Deaton answers.  He doesn’t seem to be bothered by the wolf’s presence even though Derek looks about ready to kill someone.  Then again, Lydia is starting to think that’s his default expression.

 

“Derek, if we can learn this stuff, we can help protect the pack.  Protect you,” Stiles says, trying to lift the ash off his sweater.  It wasn’t working.

 

“I don’t need you to protect me,” Derek snaps.  Stiles scoffs and then turns to Deaton.

 

“How do I get this off?” he asks.  The Vet laughs slightly and moves forward, raising his hands out towards the boy.  Derek shifts closer, eyes the doctor.

 

“Relax, Derek.  I’m only going to get the ash off him and put it back in the bottle,” Deaton says, pausing mid-stride.  The wolf doesn’t back down.  Deaton looks him over, a curious expression on his face.  Whatever he was wondering, he figured out within seconds.  He seems pretty smart about everything.  Good, we need a smart teacher.  The man takes a step away from Stiles and respectfully turns towards the Alpha.

 

“May I?” he asks, nodding towards Stiles.  Derek seems taken aback by the gesture and glances at the boy, whose still trying to lift the dust off.  The wolf frowns at the scene and nods to Deaton, stepping out of his way.  The man quickly raises his hands once again, resting them on Stiles upper arms.  It takes him only a few seconds to concentrate enough to remove the mountain ash from Stiles’ clothes and the floor, bringing it all into one line that travels back into its bottle.  “There.  Good as new,” he says.

 

“Stiles, we need to talk,” Derek says and promptly stomps into the front room.  Stiles groans, but follows.  Lydia shrugs, not really caring what Derek might be saying and turns back to the Vet.

 

“Can I keep trying?” she asks.  He smiles and waves her to go ahead.  The man stands back to watch her, but she doesn’t mind.  Lydia gets the ash into the air on her third try this time, but it tumbles when she removes her hand.  “Why is this so hard for me?” she grumps.  “It came so easy to Stiles.”

 

“Well, Stiles has worked with this before.  Plus, you two are completely different types of witches, from different bloodlines,” he says.

 

“Bloodlines?  This runs in my family?” she asks.

 

“Yes, but chances are your family stopped practicing a long time ago, as have Stiles’,” he answers.  The two boys return with Derek looking less murderous.

 

“Can you promise me this is safe?” Derek asks.

 

“Well, there are some risks involved, but not with what we’re doing today.  As long as they listen and don’t overdo it too fast,” he grumbles, eyeing Stiles.  The boy just smiles and pours the mountain ash back onto the table, making the man sigh.  “This substance is the burnt remains of the Sorbus Scopulina or more commonly known as Green Mountain Ash Tree.  Most things in nature have certain magical properties and each one will do different things.  This one wards off unwanted supernatural creatures.  It will work against good or evil, depending on the user’s intent.  There are seven different ashes, but for now we’ll focus on this one.  It’s the easiest to control,” he explains.

 

“You said there are risks?” Derek asks.

 

“Magic can only exist if nature is balanced.  When a witch uses magic, the power takes something in return.  Mostly it will drain the user of energy, creating fatigue, but some substances contain more power therefore will take something greater.  But we won’t need to worry about that for a while.  This mountain ash is very low power and the amount they’re using today won’t do any harm,” he says.

 

“That’s why he was practically dead on his feet after last time?” Derek asks, pointing to Stiles, who was once again playing with his floating particles.  Lydia frowned as she watched him manipulate it without touching it.  Show off.

 

“Yes, Stiles had used a fairly large amount of power to create the territory barrier.  I’m honestly surprised that it’s still working considering his age and inexperience,” Deaton says, watching Stiles carefully.  “Stiles, did you say earlier that the barrier is weakening?” he asks.

 

“Yeah, the Alphas have been poking at it, trying to cross it every day.”

 

“How can you tell?  Did you see them?” Deaton asks.

 

“No, I can feel the link in my mind, ya know?  When they push at it, I feel it and push back.  It’s not that hard,” he says, shrugging.  “Although they’ve been doing it for like two weeks and it’s getting a bit harder to maintain,” he mumbles.  The entire time he was talking, he never took his eyes away from the mountain ash he had in the air, swirling it around the light.  Deaton frowns and scratches his chin as he thinks.

 

“Unusual,” he mutters.  Stiles finally turns to him and Lydia is surprised to see the dust still floating.  Deaton’s eyes widen at it too.

 

“What’s unusual?” Stiles asks.

 

“Maintaining a mental link with a magical substance is very rare,” he says, watching Stiles’ ash.  “Stiles, may I ask who your mother was?” he asks gently.  The dust falls for a moment, but then suddenly races through the air, creating a vortex around its master.  Stiles’ brow furrows as he watches it shield him from the unknown danger.  Derek and the Vet step forward, but Lydia stays back to see what happens.  Deaton reaches towards Stiles, but the ash pushes him away.

 

“Strange,” he mutters.  Lydia expects the same to happen with Derek, considering he’s a supernatural creature, but when he approaches, the ash seems to shiver in the air before reforming to fit the wolf behind the barrier.

 

“Stiles, can you lower the barrier?” Deaton asks.

 

“I don’t even know how I put it up,” he says.

 

“It formed a shield because you were feeling threatened.  Your mind was still linked to it,” he explains.  “I’m sorry if I upset you.  I won’t ask again,” he adds.  Stiles frowns at him.

 

“You didn’t upset me and it’s fine.  Now how the hell do I get rid of it?” he asks.

 

“Just believe that there is no threat and it should stop.”

 

Stiles closes his eyes and takes a breath.  The mountain ash squirms for a minute, but doesn’t budge.  Derek shifts at his side and the ash suddenly falls to the floor, this time not clinging to anyone.  Lydia squints, looking for what changed and wanting to smile when she finds it.  The wolf’s hand was grazing Stiles’, one finger locked around the others.  Stiles frowns down at it and quickly pulls away.

 

“Right, well, I should clean this up,” he mutters.  He kneels down, placing his palms flat on the floor.  It’s like he hardly has to think about it.  The powder immediately rises and forms a line, flying towards the table and back into its bottle.

 

Lydia sighs.  “How do you do that?” she grumbles.  Stiles grins and awkwardly side steps his wolf to reach her side.

 

“Here, try again.  I’ll help you if you want,” he says.  She wants to argue that she doesn’t need his help, but simply nods.  He’s obviously better at this.  For now.  We’ll get there.  She places her hand on her pile again and it rises on the first attempt.  Lydia slowly removes her hand and laughs when it actually stays put.

 

“About time,” she says.  She imagines it moving, but nothing happens.

 

“Give it a nudge.  You gotta push harder,” Stiles says.

 

“What do you mean?  I thought I was supposed to imagine where it goes?”

 

“Well, yeah, you did that already.  Now just tell it where to go, basically.  Like, push at the connection, ya know?” he says.  Lydia shakes her head.  No, I have no idea what he’s talking about.  What connection?  I don’t feel anything.

 

“I don’t feel anything,” she says, shrugging.

 

“Lydia may not be connected to this type of ash as you are Stiles.  Though I’m still curious as to why that is,” Deaton says, looking Stiles over again.  “But for now, let’s get Lydia up to speed shall we?” he asks.  Lydia glares at him.  I’ve never been behind on anything in my life and I refuse to not be the best at this.  She refocuses on the powder and imagines it moving once again.  It takes a solid five minutes, but she eventually gets the hang of it.  After practicing for a while, she makes the particles swirl into a circle and dance around Stiles.

 

“Woah, hey,” he laughs, swatting at the mountain ash.  He does some tricky maneuver with his wrist and the mountain ash is flying back towards her.  She quickly ducks and raises her hand at the same time as the dust drifts over her.  Once contact is made again, she tosses it back to him, who easily takes control yet again and has it flying around above her head.

 

“Alright, you two keep practicing for a while.  I have actual patients to attend to,” Deaton says and leaves to greet a customer and her sick bird.

 

“Come on, show me what you got,” Stiles chuckles as he raises the powder out of her reach.

 

“You’re such a dork,” she grumbles, right before jumping up to make contact again.  She doesn’t get how Stiles can control it without touching it.  It’s fascinating, but frustrating at the same time.  They play back and forth with it for a while, Stiles not playing fair at all.

 

“Wait, I have an idea,” she says.  They’re both out of breath as if they’d been exercising but there’s no way she’s stopping now.  She takes hold of the ash again and makes a line across the room.  “Derek, try to cross it,” she orders.  The wolf sighs, but does as she asks.  He hesitantly shuffles forward, glaring at the line as if it were an enemy.  Well, if this works then it will be.  Stiles has done it before, therefore I know it can do this.  This will work.

 

Derek steps over the line.

 

“Damn it,” she huffs.  Lydia concentrates harder, imagining that when Derek tries to cross it, he’s blocked by her invisible wall. She motions for him to try again.  The wolf raises his foot and there’s a slight resistance, but he still crosses it.  “Oh, whatever.  Stiles you do it.  Maybe you do something different,” she says.  Stiles grins and quickly hops over to her side of the line.  Derek scowls at them, but waits patiently for something to happen.  Stiles raises a hand over the line and the particles tremble slightly.

 

“Okay, go for it,” he says.  Lydia can see the tiny triumphant smirk even before the wolf tries crossing.  Derek steps forward and seems to walk into the invisible wall.  He frowns and pushes at it, but nothing happens.   “Awesome,” Stiles says, grinning.  Derek lets out a low growl and pushes on it harder.  Stiles’ smile falters as he maintains the line.  Derek tries a few more times until Stiles suddenly lets out a sharp breath.  “Wait, wait, that one wasn’t you,” he says, holding up a hand.  Stiles glances at the window, brows furrowing in concentration.  A glassy unfocused film ascends over his eyes and the veins on his hands begin to pulse a black hue.  Lydia quickly waves a hand at the line on the floor, breaking the spell to let Derek through.

 

“Stiles, what’s happening?” he asks.  The boy doesn’t respond as his veins continue to darken.  Derek reaches for him, but something stops him, not letting him get close.  “Stiles,” he calls.  Concern, bordering on fear, rises up in her chest as the pupils of his eyes over take his irises.  The honey color is completely swallowed by black and he whimpers as his body shakes.  “Lydia, get Deaton,” Derek demands.  She nods and hastily runs to the front room, where the Vet is still talking with a customer.  She doesn’t hesitate to interrupt.

 

“Deaton something’s wrong,” she pants.  He apologizes to the customer before running after her into the other room.

 

“What happened?” he asks, reaching Stiles’ side.

 

“I’m not sure.  The barrier maybe?” Derek asks.  The man carefully reaches for Stiles, but is blocked just like the wolf.

 

“Lydia, come here,” he orders.  She moves forward and he motions for her to place a hand on Stiles’.  Like so many other times today, her expectations are wrong.  She can easily reach her friend, not being stopped by the magic.  “Alright, good.  Now I know you’re new to this, but try to reach his mind.  It usually helps when the two witches have a close relationship, but yours might do,” he says.  Lydia stares at him.  Reach his mind?  How the hell was she supposed to do that?  She’d only imagined powder flying about the room today.  This was on a whole other level.  “Just close your eyes and breathe deeply.  We need to bring him back before whoever is trying to break the line notices his presence,” he says.  Oh, no pressure or anything.  She does as he asks, following his voice through the process.  “Concentrate on where your skin meets his.  Feel the magic that’s coursing through his veins,” he says.  Lydia focuses on where their hands are touching and easily notices how his veins are moving beneath her palm.  Kind of gross, but we need to focus.

 

“Now what?” she asks.

 

“You have to call to him in your mind.  Imagine your voice travelling through your body, out of your hand and into his, then making its way through his body and into his mind,” he explains.  Lydia hears a low growl at the suggestion, but ignores it.  He really doesn’t need to get all worked up.  I just want to help my friend.

 

Stiles…she calls.  She sends the message through their connection with surprising ease.

 

LYDIA! WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?

 

She hisses in pain at the volume, but isn’t really that surprised.  Of course Stiles is still going to be obnoxiously loud in his head.

 

Stiles, show me what’s happening.

 

OH, RIGHT.  ONE SEC…

 

Lydia sighs because he’s still yelling in her head.  This is so weird, she thinks to herself.

 

I KNOW RIGHT?  THIS IS SO AWESOME!

 

Okay, guess there are no ‘thoughts to myself’ at the moment.

 

NOPE, NONE.

 

Lydia feels the pressure on her brain increasing as she receives what Stiles is seeing.  They’re at the edge of the preserve, floating above the trees and looking down at the ground.  She can see some dark haired woman poking at the barrier with her feet, frowning every time it fails to break.

 

WE NEED TO STRENGTHEN IT

 

Could you stop yelling?  I can hear you just fine…

 

OH SORRY!

 

Forget it.  Just tell me how to help.

 

OKAY JUST CONCENTRATE ON THE LINE WITH ME.  IMAGINE IT PUSHING HER AWAY, INSTEAD OF BLOCKING HER.

 

Lydia focuses on the line and does as instructed.  She can feel the pulsing magic transferring from her body and into Stiles’.  A tall, black, transparent shield quickly rises up from the ground, accompanied by an echoing boom.  The woman on the ground is abruptly shocked by the mountain ash and knocked on her ass.

 

Wow, impressive.

 

NEVER SEEN IT DO THAT BEFORE.  WE KICK ASS!

 

Are we done now?

 

SHOULD BE…YEP SHE’S LEAVING!  WE’RE GOOD.

 

Stiles suddenly closes the vision, reeling her back into her own head.  She can now hear loud breathing all around her, quickly realizing that it’s her and Stiles.

 

“Lydia, you with me?” Deaton asks.  She can only manage a small nod as Stiles’ lingering presence finally dissipates.  “Alright, slowly open your eyes,” he says.  She pries her lids open, but it’s difficult.  As the room comes back into focus, her head begins to pound.  Derek is staring at Stiles next to her, who is slowly returning to the room also.  His pupils have returned to normal and when she removes her hand she sees that his veins are no longer black or visible.  Stiles blinks at the wolf and frowns.

 

“Shit,” he mumbles, right before his legs give out.  Derek catches him and props him up, holding him around the waist.

 

“Bring him to the table,” Deaton says.  Derek maneuvers Stiles towards the table, ignoring his complaints of ‘not being a damn pet, quit manhandling’.  The wolf might have listened if Stiles’ words weren’t all slurred together.  Lydia takes a step forward, but stumbles.  Deaton steadies her and sits her down in a chair.  “I’ll be right back, just rest for now,” he says and then returns to Stiles.  She really didn’t even need medical assistance, she was only tired.  Although aspirin would be great right now.

 

“Is he alright?” Derek asks, still hovering over the boy.  They’re so cute, she giggles in her head.  Wow, I must be really tired.

 

“Let’s see here,” Deaton mutters, shining a light in Stiles’ eyes.  He hisses and turns away from it, covering his eyes.

 

“Can you not do that?” he grumbles.

 

“Right, sorry,” he says.  He puts a stethoscope to Stiles’ chest and then back, nodding in approval.

 

“Can you hear us alright?” he asks.

 

“Yes, in fact, can you not be so loud?” Stiles says, rubbing at his head.  Lydia snorts because he was the one that had been screaming in their heads earlier.  “Shut it,” he says, pointing at her, but there’s a small smile as he says it.

 

“What hurts?” Derek asks quietly.  Stiles scoffs.

 

“Everything” he mumbles.  Derek sighs and places a hand on his neck.  Lydia gapes as black lines travel up his arm.  Whatever he was doing, was making Stiles sway towards him.

 

“Dude, what is that?  It’s awesome,” he slurs.  The wolf shushes him and concentrates.  Deaton raises a brow and quietly moves away to check on her.

 

“How bad?” he asks.

 

“Not too bad.  Do you have any aspirin though?” she asks.  He nods and leaves to fetch her some.  She looks back over to the table, where Stiles’ head is resting on Derek’s shoulder.

 

“Oh my god, werewolves are the best,” Stiles mumbles.  Derek snorts, but continues doing whatever it is.

 

“Derek, don’t do that for too long.  It’s not good for you either,” Deaton says when he returns.  Derek only shrugs, but Stiles stirs at his words.

 

“Man, if you’re hurting yourself by doing this, then quit it.  We can’t have our Alpha down and out.  That’s just a bad idea,” Stiles slurs, pulling away.  He blinks, trying to focus and then winces.  “I feel sick,” he grumbles.  Derek is quick to react, finding a bucket in the corner and shoving it at Stiles just as he vomits into it.

 

“Gross,” Lydia mumbles and swallows down her medicine.

 

“Yeah, no kidding,” Stiles says and pushes the bucket away.  Deaton cringes, but takes it to the bathroom to get rid of its contents.  Stiles slumps onto Derek again, who rubs his back.  Still so cute.

 

“I’ll drive you guys home, come on,” Derek says, pulling Stiles off the table.  Lydia slowly gets to her feet, relieved to find she’s steady on them.

 

“It’s not always like this right?” she asks Deaton.

 

“No, of course not.  That was just a lot of magic you both did.  You’ll both be fine after some sleep,” he says, nodding in reassurance.  She accepts his answer and shuffles out the door, trailing behind the two boys.  Stiles is leaning against Derek, who’s got an arm around his waist to prop him up.  She opens the passenger door so the wolf can maneuver Stiles into the jeep.

 

“What about your car?” she asks, looking around.  The jeep was the only vehicle in the parking lot.

 

“I ran here,” he answers.  Oh, okay.  Why do they run everywhere?  She keeps seeing Peter running alongside her car every night.  No, we’re not thinking about that.  It’s weird.  “Um, there’s no back seat,” Derek mumbles.  Lydia sighs and looks in the back.

 

“The trunk area is fine,” she grumps.  She fumbles with the handle, cursing the shaking still in her hands.

 

“Move,” Derek orders and pops open the back for her.  Rude, yet not rude.  Not sure what to do with that.  Ignoring the wolf, she climbs into the back.  She lies down once he leaves for the front.  They ride along in silence for a while until she realizes she has no idea where he’s taking them.

 

“Where are we going?” she asks, abruptly sitting up.  There were woods on both sides of the road and she didn’t recognize anything.

 

“It’s one in the morning and my house was closest.  That alright?” he asks, looking at her in the rearview mirror.  Though Stiles eyes were closed, he was clearly awake because he scoffs at the wolf.

 

“Dude, you don’t even have beds.  Or blankets.  Or walls or a roof, for that matter,” he says.  Derek glares at him, but the boy doesn’t see it.

 

“Peter’s been fixing up the downstairs.  He’s good at renovation apparently.  The living room has all its walls and we can set up a place to sleep on the floor,” Derek says.

 

“The floor.  How typical,” she sighs and lies back down.  “But fine, I don’t care,” she says and then yawns.

 

“Wait, Lydia what about your car?” Stiles asks.

 

“It’ll still be there in the morning.  I expect a ride to school,” she says.

 

“’Course.  Not a complete jackass,” Stiles mumbles.  “What about your mom?  Isn’t she wondering where you are?” he asks.

 

“Depends.  What day is it?” she asks.

 

“Um, Friday morning?” Stiles asks, opening his eyes to peer back at her.

 

“Then she won’t notice.  Yesterday was Thirsty Thursday,” she mutters.  Ever since the divorce, her mother had been going to this fancy lounge across town, every day of the week.  She was usually good about coming home at a decent hour and wouldn’t be roaring drunk, but Thursdays were different.  The lounge opened around noon on Thursdays and advertised low priced drinks and a live band.  She usually spent Thursday through Saturday with her father, but he wouldn’t notice either.  Like her mother, her father liked to go out and have a good time.  His favorite days of the week were Throw Down Thursday at some wrestling club and Frisky Friday at The Honey Pot Lounge, which was basically a strip club for rich people.  But at least he wasn’t home trying to spend quality time with her.  That was just awkward and unwanted on both sides.

 

“Your dad working?” she asks.

 

“Yep,” Stiles nods and then turns back to the front.  A thought seems to hit him because he flails a moment later.  “Oh my god.  What about Peter?” he asks.

 

“What about him?” Derek asks, which earns him a glare.  “What?” he asks again.

 

“Did you even ask Lydia if she was okay with that?” Stiles asks.  Derek frowns, thinking it over.

 

“Why would she care if…?” he begins to ask, before Stiles slaps his arm and calls him a dumbass.  Derek thinks again and then says “Oh, right.  Maybe I should take you home?” he asks, looking in the mirror.

 

“No, it’s fine,” she says, waving away the concern.  She will never ever admit it, but she was curious to see the older wolf again.  He’d been following her around everywhere, might as well talk to him, right?  Without all the confusion and death threats perhaps.  They drive through the rough terrain and eventually park outside the Hale house.  Lydia climbs out and gets a better look at it.  It was so sad how it was all falling apart.  She remembers it from the visions Peter gave her.  It had once been a very grand house with lots of rooms and beautiful furniture.  Derek led them up to the front porch just as the door swung open.

 

“What’s going on?” Peter asks.  He looks over the three, lingering on Lydia.

 

“They’re staying the night.  And you will not bother them,” Derek says, nudging the man into the house.

 

“Of course not.  Why would I do that?” he says, grinning at Stiles.  Well, that was a bit creepy.  We’ll have to fix that.  Stiles scowls at him until Derek shuffles him into the next room.  Lydia lingers in the doorway, not sure whether to follow them.  “You’re welcome to come in.  I don’t bite,” Peter says, eyes flashing that brilliant sapphire.

 

“I highly doubt that,” she replies, but steps into the hall with him.  “Seeing as how you already tried,” she adds.

 

“Can we get passed that?” he sighs.

 

“Maybe,” she says and then spins on her heel to follow the boys.  Her hair spins away from her, tickling the wolf in the face and he lets out a surprised grunt.

 

“Peter, stop harassing her,” Derek shouts as they enter the room.

 

“I wasn’t,” Peter complains.  Derek had already piled comforters onto the floor and Stiles was curled up under a blanket, staring at the other three.  Wow, I didn’t think this through.  I’m about to spend the night curled up with three attractive men who I barely know.  And two of them are werewolves.  This didn’t seem like such a bad idea in the car…

 

Probably sensing her hesitation, Derek looks up at her.

 

“Would you be more comfortable if Peter and I slept in our own rooms?” he asks.  Lydia looks at the two wolves, seeing how reluctant they seemed to be about leaving.

 

“Is this what werewolves usually do?” she asks.  “Sleep in piles?”

 

“When pack members are hurt, yes,” Peter answers.  Derek glares at him, but nods in agreement.

 

“Puppy piles,” Stiles snorts from the floor.

 

“So Stiles is in your pack?” she asks, ignoring his comment.  She didn’t realize a human could be a part of a wolf pack, but that seemed to be what they were implying.  Would I have been a member if Jackson hadn’t left?

 

“Yes, he is,” Derek answers.  Lydia nods, not sure what to say.  Peter creeps towards her and stands at her side.

 

“Would you like to join?” he asks.  Derek’s eyes flash a bright red at his question and Lydia hesitates to answer.  Do I even want that?  Even if I did, I’m not sure the Alpha would want that.  “We’re always looking for more pack mates, aren’t we Derek?” Peter asks, turning to his nephew.

 

“Not right now, no,” Derek answers, his eyes flashing again.  Lydia tries to squelch the disappointment, but she was clearly unsuccessful by the way Derek looked at her in surprised.  “We’ll, um, talk about this tomorrow.  Let’s sleep for now, okay?” he says, glancing away from her.  She nods and lies down on Stiles left side, who grins and quickly covers her with the blanket.

 

“This is so weird,” she mutters.

 

“Really?  I hadn’t noticed,” he says.  Lydia lays her head on one of the pillows, careful to keep space between the two of them.  Though they were friends, he was still a boy and boys tended to get touchy-feely with her under the blankets.  Derek lies on Stiles’ other side, also leaving space.  Peter flops onto his stomach beside her, smashing his face into the pillow.  The Alpha frowns at him and then looks to her.

 

“Is this alright?” he asks.  Lydia glances at Peter, who’s staring at her above the blankets.

 

“It’s fine,” she grumps and pulls the blankets around her.  She slowly creeps closer to Stiles, leaving more space between her and Peter.  There is no way I’m exploring those feelings tonight, no matter how ridiculously adorable he just looked under that blanketUgh, he’s not adorable, he’s a murderous werewolf.  She startles as a hand finds hers under the blanket, but relaxes when she realizes it’s Stiles'.

 

“No funny business, promise,” he says around a yawn.  Derek frowns at her and she can’t help but laugh.  No, I suppose if any ‘funny business’ is to happen, it will be those two.  The wolf is already jealous.  Once again, so cute.

 

“I believe you,” she says and rolls onto her side to face him.  The room was already dark because there weren’t any lights and she quickly drifted off, listening to Peter’s snoring behind her.

 

Derek

 

A new bond was forming and the Alpha wasn’t sure he liked it.  The girl wasn’t always pleasant and liked to argue, just like Stiles.  Derek really didn’t need two unruly pack members.  But he can’t deny the sadness he felt when he told her no.  That hadn’t been what he was expecting and his wolf was eager to have her join.  Derek didn’t want to admit that her relationship with Stiles was annoying him, but the last few days had been a complete rollercoaster.  He had almost kissed Stiles in his kitchen the other day.  He still has no idea what the hell he had been thinking.  Stiles was still so young and Derek would only mess up his life if they started anything.

 

Derek had crept into his bedroom to watch him sleep last night.  It was not Edward Cullen behavior, I don’t care what Stiles said.  The boy had suffered from nightmares until his cellphone woke him up.  Derek had heard Stiles’ heart speed up when Allison answered and thought he should intervene.  He should have known Stiles would completely freak out about him being there.  It’s funny to watch him flail.

 

Tracking Scott through the woods had been easy.  The young wolf had been on a rampage, leaving destruction in his wake.  Derek was surprised by the fight he put up though.  It was good that Scott submitted when he did because Derek’s wolf had full control at that moment and was ready to rip the beta’s throat out.  It was Stiles’ heartbeat that had once again brought him back and made it possible for him to force the wolf down.  Stiles had been terrified that night.  Derek had originally assumed that he was afraid either of his friend or for his friend.  But when Stiles ran to him and panicked over the bite Scott had taken out of him, Derek wanted to pull him close because someone actually cared if he was hurt.  He hadn’t had that in a long time and enjoyed it for a while.  But when Stiles was fussing over him in the bathroom, reality set in that Scott almost attacked his friend and the hunters had weapons within feet of the boy.  That was not okay.  Derek needed Stiles to stay safe.  He was the only person Derek trusted and he couldn’t lose that.  Therefore, he did what he always does when he’s freaking out, lash out at whoever’s closest.  Derek had snapped at Stiles, who only argued back.  Stiles had wanted to talk about what happened in his kitchen, but Derek quickly shut him down.  But he panicked when Stiles got angry and went to leave.  He wanted to apologize, to tell Stiles that it hadn’t been nothing, but he didn’t know how to say that to him.  It was selfish of him to want to be with Stiles, when the boy could easily have something with his childhood crush.  Who is curled up against his side and holding his hand.  Jealousy courses through him and the sight makes his wolf whine, but Derek rolls onto his other side, pretending he didn’t see anything.

 

Derek stares at the wall as sleep once again evades him.  He can hear Peter mumbling something about strawberries into his pillow.  He’s being weird tonight.  Ever since Lydia walked in, they’ve both been weird.  That look in his uncle’s eyes…Oh my god, no.  If I’m too old for Stiles, then Peter is way too old for Lydia.  Besides, I’m pretty sure she’s afraid of him, but I could be wrong.  I don’t know her that well yet.  Derek rolls onto his back, trying to get comfortable.  He glances to his right and watches Stiles’ eyelids flutter as he dreams.  I wonder what he’s dreaming about.  Maybe magic or something.  Or Lydia.  His wolf whines loudly in his head.  Lydia rolls over in her sleep, her arms flinging out and hitting Peter in the back.  His uncle grunts, but doesn’t wake up.  The girl curled up against his side, resting her head on the man’s pillow, her auburn locks falling on his face.

 

The wolf stirs and blinks in surprise at the girl’s face, which is a mere inch from his.  Peter’s expression softens and he gently places an arm over her waist, tugging her closer.  Oh crap, I hope she doesn’t freak out in the morning.  Peter quickly falls asleep again, snoring in her ear.  The girl doesn’t wake.

 

Derek wants to reach out and pull Stiles closer, but he doesn’t.  Stiles probably wouldn’t want that and it’s a bad idea anyway.  Instead he just stares at the ceiling for a while.  An hour goes by and Stiles starts to wake, pulling his blankets around him as he turns on his side.  He cracks an eye open and looks at Derek.

 

“You’re awake,” he grumbles into his pillow.

 

“Very observant,” Derek answers.

 

“Have you slept at all?” he asks.

 

“Some,” Derek lies.

 

“Liar,” Stiles whispers, making Derek smile a little.  “You realize that’s probably why your focus has been shit lately right?” he asks.  He shrugs because no he hadn’t put those two together.  An hour of sleep a week really isn’t good, but his mind never stops long enough for him to pass out.  “Can I do anything to help?” Stiles asks.  His honey-colored eyes bore into his for a minute before Derek turns away.

 

“No, just go back to sleep Stiles,” he says and then rolls to face the wall again.  Stiles sighs and is quiet for a while, but Derek can feel that he’s still awake.  Derek tenses when he feels a hand slide under his arm and wrap around to his front.  There’s a subtle heat at his back as Stiles moves closer, pulling Derek into his chest.

 

“Don’t freak out.  Just close your eyes and sleep,” Stiles mutters into his back.  Derek’s instinct is to pull away, but he hesitates as Stiles’ fingers splay out across his chest, holding onto him tighter.  The pressure feels nice for some reason, so he leaves it, but he holds perfectly still, not wanting to disturb Stiles.  “Dude, relax,” he whispers.  Derek lets out the breath he was holding, but his muscles are still rigid with the foreign contact.  “Should I move?” Stiles sighs.  Panic creeps up into his throat and Derek quickly places his left hand on Stiles’ arm, keeping him in place.  “Okay, good, ‘cause you’re really warm and it’s freezing in here.  Now, go to sleep,” Stiles says, squeezing his side.  Derek closes his eyes and for the first time in weeks, manages to stay asleep for hours.

 

Morning

 

The smell of blueberries fills his nostrils as he slowly wakes, making his mouth water.  Was someone actually making pancakes?  Sounds better than waffles.  Pancakes are always better.  Derek slowly peels his eyes open, finally noticing the warmth that was splayed along his front.  It had been at his back before he fell asleep, so they must have rolled over in the night.  He focuses and finds a head of dark hair in front of him.  Stiles was still fast asleep with Derek’s arm draped over him.  His fingers were laced with the other’s, but Derek frowned as he shifted them, feeling soft hair intertwined with their fingers.  He peers over Stiles’ shoulder, where Lydia is curled up into the boy’s chest.  Both he and Stiles had their arms wrapped around her, fingers tucked into her curls.  He finally becomes aware of the presence of a hand lying gently on his side and looks down to find it to be Lydia’s, having draped her arm over Stiles to reach him.  Just like a regular pack pile, with everyone touching everyone else. 

 

The thought has old memories resurfacing, both before and after the fire.  The night before the fire, the Hale family had bonded in this very room and eventually fell asleep in a giant pile.  Derek had been sandwiched between his siblings; Laura curled around his back and Derek holding his litter sister Nina, who had their older brother, Eric covering her.  Their parents, Richard and Talia, had been on the outside of the pile, as the Alpha usually was.  The only time his mother would be in the middle of the pile, was if someone was hurt.  Peter and his family had been curled up by their feet, much the same as Derek’s pile.  His paternal grandparents had secluded themselves into a corner with blankets piled high on top of them.

 

After the fire, he and Laura would still fall asleep together, but it was never the same.  Without Nina to hold in his arms, there was just an emptiness that couldn’t be filled.  She had been 12 years old and full of life, until it was burned away from her.  Lydia’s soft locks reminded him of Nina’s, but her curls had been so dark they looked blue in the moonlight.  Derek clung to his new pack mates, reveling in the feeling of not being alone.  Though Isaac had lived with him for a while, Derek was never brave enough to even suggest a pack pile and Peter was just out of the question.  He must be the one making breakfast.  Derek untangles his hand from Lydia’s hair, waking the two teenagers.

 

“You guys are gonna be late for school,” he says.  Stiles groans into the pillow, pulling the covers up over his head.

 

“Agreed,” Lydia mumbles and rolls over to go back to sleep.  Derek tugs on Stiles’ blanket, uncovering his face.  He was unusually pale and still looked exhausted.

 

“How are you feeling?” Derek asks.

 

“Like I got hit by a train,” he mumbles and takes the blanket back.  “I think I have a magic hangover,” he grumbles.  Lydia’s heartbeat had already slowed, telling him she’d fallen back asleep.

 

“So no school?” Derek asks.

 

“No, now go away,” Stile grumps, pushing him away.  Derek sighs and gets up.  Neither of them were morning people obviously, but he had always preferred this time of day.  He felt the most human during the early hours.  He trudges into the kitchen where Peter was carefully observing the batter cooking on the stove.  The kitchen hadn’t been too badly burned and they were still using the old furniture in it, including the gas stove that his father had bought about 10 years ago.  The first time Peter attempted to use it again hadn’t gone very well.  He freaked out when the flames got too high and had left the stove unplugged for about a week.  Derek watches as the man flips the pancakes, his other hand hovering over the knob in case the flames increase.

 

“You’re staring,” Peter says.

 

“Was not,” Derek replies and opens the fridge.  Peter had stocked it well, everything from breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks on every shelf.  Derek pulled out the orange juice and took a few sips from the bottle.

 

“Seriously?  Use a glass,” Peter gripes.  Derek freezes, remembering this exact situation the morning before the fire.  He had snapped at his uncle that he couldn’t tell him what to do and stomped out of the house.  He replaces the cap and gently puts the juice back in the fridge, remembering why he never drinks it anymore.

 

“Since when do you make breakfast that doesn’t involve a toaster?” Derek asks.

 

“Since we have actual guests that will expect food at some point,” Peter says, watching the batter bubble.  “Speaking of, are they up yet?” he asks.

 

“No, but they should probably eat,” Derek answers.  He strolls back into the living room, finding Lydia sitting up and rubbing her eyes.

 

“Your floor sucks,” she complains.  She lifts her head and sniffs a little.  “I smell blueberries,” she says.

 

“Peter’s making pancakes,” Derek explains.  The girl nods and quickly runs her fingers through her hair before leaving for the kitchen.

 

“Are there strawberries?” she calls.

 

“Yes, I picked some up this morning,” Peter answers.  Weirdly nice of him.  It’s kind of creepy.  Derek refocuses on the bundled up teen on his floor.  He nudges Stiles with his foot, earning another groan.

 

“Thought I told you to go away,” the boy mutters.

 

“Yeah well, it’s my house.  And there’s breakfast if you want some,” he says.  Stiles pokes his head out and glares at him.

 

“What kind of breakfast?  I’m not eating anything you had to hunt down and kill,” he says.  Derek rolls his eyes and abruptly pulls the blankets off him.

 

“It’s pancakes, so get up,” he snaps.

 

“Dude, not cool.  Your house is like an icebox,” Stiles complains.  He slowly crawls to his feet and glares at Derek before snatching the blankets back.  He wraps himself up and shuffles towards the kitchen.  Peter and Lydia are already sitting on the wobbly furniture, eating their breakfast.  Lydia’s pancakes were topped with strawberries and whipped cream and she was neatly licking the cream off her fruit.  Though Peter was eating, his attention was completely on the beautiful girl at his side.  The girl smiled at him, obviously knowing what she was doing.  So not okay.

 

Derek scowls and sits down next to Stiles, who once again drowns his breakfast in butter and syrup.  Hopefully he’ll eat all of it this time.  And keep it down.  They eat in silence for a while, Stiles giving Peter the evil eye the whole time.  Derek couldn’t blame him.  Peter had been a raging psychopath for half a year and dead for another half, so it was a slightly tense breakfast.

 

“So, meeting tonight right?” Stiles mumbles around his mouthful.

 

“Unfortunately,” Peter says, frowning at Derek.

 

“Yes, meeting with the Argents tonight.  But I’m thinking we should turn it into a complete pack meeting.  Get this plan of a truce and fight against the Alphas going,” he says.

 

“Okay, well Scott and Isaac were already planning on joining.  Who else were you thinking?” he asks.

 

“Any family members that already know and tell Isaac that if he’s planning on keeping his boyfriend around, he needs to explain things today and bring him as well,” Derek says.

 

“You mean Danny?  Do we have to?” Stiles asks.

 

“What’s wrong with Danny?” Lydia demands.

 

“Nothing!  I just mean, he’s a good guy, can’t we try to keep him out of this?”

 

“You mean how you tried that with me?” she asks.  Stiles grimaces and shoves food in his mouth.

 

“Right, never mind,” he mumbles.  “But what if Isaac doesn’t want him involved?”

 

“He doesn’t have a choice.  Other wolves can tell that Isaac has claimed him as his own.  He’ll be an easy target without our protection,” Peter pipes up.

 

“Fine, whatever,” Stiles says.  The kid chugs down his water and mutters about going back to sleep before heading back into the living room.  His plate had barely been touched, making Derek worry.  He looked over to Lydia, wondering if it was a human teenager thing, but she was still munching on her fruit.  She’d eaten two out of three of the pancakes and has slid the third onto Peter’s plate.  Why in the hell are they so comfortable around each other?  Shouldn’t she be terrified of him?  Maybe she’s stronger than I think…

 

“Are you staying for the meeting?” he asks her.

 

“I don’t even know what you’re talking about.  No one told me about any hunter-wolf meeting,” she says, crossing her arms.

 

“Aren’t you Allison’s best friend?”

 

“Sometimes,” she answers, glaring at him.  “So spill, what’s this meeting all about?”

 

“We’re considering a truce with the hunters.  There will be rules and negotiations and such,” he explains, sighing.  He hated official meetings like this.  His mother had been great at handling these types of things, but with Derek’s luck something was bound to happen.  Especially since his pack was a mess.

 

“Sounds boring,” she replies and Derek can only nod in agreement.  “But I’ll be there,” she adds.  Derek looks up at her, taking in her surprisingly honest expression and can only nod again.  He doesn’t know how to handle her or what to say to her yet.  She’s clearly smart and determined and for some reason has some pull over Peter, which could be useful.  But she was so easily manipulated by him the last time, that he can’t help but worry about the same thing happening.

 

After clearing the table, Derek returns to check on Stiles, who is tucked into the corner of the couch and texting.

 

“Feeling better?” Derek asks.

 

“Yeah, a bit.  Magic pancakes?” he asks.

 

“No.”

 

“Sarcasm,” Stiles says.  Lydia comes in a moment later and plops down next to her friend.

 

“Is your phone full of weird messages too?” she asks, scrolling through her phone.

 

“Uh, yeah…,” he mumbles, scrunching his face up at the screen.  “I thought werewolves couldn’t get drunk,” he says.

 

“We can.  Just not the week of the full moon,” Derek says.  He sits down on one of the pillows next to the couch and flips open his own phone.  He had a surprising amount of texts from Isaac and even a few from Scott.

 

From: Isaac

12:30 am

-is something happening?

 

From: Isaac

1:00 am

-r u ok?

 

From: Isaac

1:30 am

-y aren’t u answering

 

From: Isaac

2:00 am

-if ur dead I’m not coming to save u

 

From: Isaac

2:01 am

-that didn’t make sense

 

From: Isaac

2:05 am

-I heard about the truce

 

From: Isaac

2:06 am

-does this mean we’re not fighting anymore?

 

From: Scott

2:30 am

-stop being a dick and answer him

 

From: Scott

2:35 am

-if ur not dead already, I’m going to kill u

 

From: Scott

2:36 am

-u left me with a weepy werewolf haha weepy haha wolf

 

From: Isaac

2:37 am

-danny knows.  Idk what to do, so call me

 

From: Isaac

2:38 am

-rly hoping ur not dead pls call me

 

Derek scanned through the rest of the messages, the last of which were only messages with question marks and exclamation points.  No words, just punctuation marks.  He sighs, running a hand through his hair.  He shouldn’t have let the young wolf leave his pack so easily.

 

“I got a bunch from Danny.  Doesn’t look like we have to worry about telling him.  He’s completely freaking out,” Lydia says.

 

“Yeah, so Isaac says.  And yes, Stiles I’m assuming they were all wasted,” Derek says.

 

To: Isaac

9:15 am

-I’m fine.  What did Danny say?

 

From: Isaac

9:15 am

-he screamed bc I wolfed out on accident. But we talked and he won’t say anything.

 

To: Isaac

9:20 am

-Good.  Bring him to the meeting tonight.

 

From: Isaac

9:30 am

-ok, will do.  R u sure ur ok? Bc something felt off

 

To: Isaac

9:45 am

-Yes, I’m fine.

 

Derek flipped his phone closed and looked around the room, noticing everyone but Peter was absorbed in their text conversations.

 

“Scott really needs to invest in auto-correct,” Stiles mumbles, squinting at his phone.  “I mean really, what does ‘are your speakers on ringing Derek’ supposed to be?  Or this one: ‘got jam frozen wtf’?  I’ve never been drunk texted before,” he says, laughing at another message.  “Why does he keep talking about sheep?” Stiles asks.

 

“Danny sent me a bunch of confusing and sometimes insulting messages.  My favorites are: ‘barfed on werewolf, the fuck is going on’ and ‘You fucking liar’.  Yeah, that was nice,” she says and scowls at her screen.  “Although I suppose it’s true,” she mutters.

 

They sit in silence for about an hour, with Peter whistling in the corner, before the wolf gets up and crowds into their space.

 

“How about a run?  Or walk?  Put down the damn phones and get some fresh air, kids,” he says, tugging on a lock of Lydia’s hair.  Derek shrugs and gets to his feet, dragging a reluctant Stiles out the door with him.  His uncle and Lydia follow suit.

 

“Dude, like you need any more exercise,” Stiles says, poking him in the stomach.  Derek swats his hand away and sets a slow pace through the woods, following the same trail as before.

 

“Are you sure this is safe?” Lydia asks.

 

“Nope,” Stiles says at the same time Peter replies “Of course.”  They glare at each other, but Derek pulls Stiles away.

 

“We’re fine out here.  We’re well away from the edge of the territory and the Alphas can’t get in,” Derek says.  “Right?” he asks Stiles.

 

“It should hold for another few days,” he answers.  “Unless they figure out a way around it.  Or all run at it at once, that would probably be bad.  Or something breaks it from the inside, which would be stupid.  Or they have their own witch.  Oh my god!  Why has no one considered that?  What if they have witches too?  They could easily break the line!  And then use some crazy ass mojo on everyone that kills us within minutes.  And what about-”

 

“Stiles,” Derek interrupts…or tries.

 

“But what about you know who?  The hunter turned creature, who will not be named.  He’s still out here somewhere.  What if he knows how to break the line?  Has anyone even seen him since that night?  No!  Because he’s probably something worse than a were-lizard and is about to attack-”

 

“Stiles.”

 

“Gross, just think about it.  He’s probably some really fucked up deformed wolf thing.  We should have made sure he was dead that night.  You know, double tap!  Like in Zombieland.  You always double tap!”

 

There were too many pop references in his entire tangent and Derek was having a hard time following.  He just knew that Stiles was getting himself worked up, which was irritating his wolf, which was annoying Peter, which was freaking Lydia out.  Wow, that thought process sounded a lot like Stiles just now.

 

“But sometimes even that doesn’t work.  Like in that show Terra Nova that got canceled, this guy got shot twice and still didn’t die.  Just got up and walked away, like that would ever happen in real life.  Oh my god, speaking of terrible unrealistic movie injuries, I watched this movie called Grizzly Rage once where this girl fell backwards onto a bear trap and yet got up and walked away like nothing happened.  Are there bears in the preserve?  Shit, are there?” he asks, turning to Derek.  He was getting really confused.  Sometimes Stiles could sit for hours and not speak and yet other times he was all over the place.

 

“Stiles, are you okay?” Lydia asks.

 

“What?  Yeah, I’m great, why?” Stiles asks, tongue darting out nervously.  Don’t watch that.  That’s what started this whole mess between you.

 

“You just seem off today that’s all,” she says, squinting at him.

 

“Probably because I haven’t taken any medication in like a week, but who’s counting?  Besides, that’s not important right now.  What are we gonna do if the Alpha’s have witches?  I think we need to learn faster.  And what happens if there’s an attack and we don’t have any magic fairy dust with us?  I mean, think about it.  We can only do shit when we have that on us.  And I don’t know about you, but I don’t regularly carry it in my pockets in case of emergencies,” he says.  Stiles begins to stroll down the path, yanking leaves off trees as he goes.  “Maybe we should create like pouches and carry them on our belt loops.  That way we would always have a weapon and we could just fling our hands out and voilà we’re safe,” he says, gesturing wildly.

 

“Stiles, everything will-” Derek starts.

 

Don’t! Don’t say everything will be fine.  In horror movies, the person who says that is always the first to die.  Seriously, dude, you’ll jinx us all and we’ll be more screwed than we already are,” Stiles says.

 

“Oh my god.  I’m going back,” Peter grumbles and abruptly turns to walk back to the house.

 

“What?  I was just saying,” Stiles mutters.  Lydia pats his arm reassuringly.

 

“I know.  We’ll talk to Deaton later, okay?  For now, let’s just relax and…um…admire nature…or something,” she says, glaring at the dirt on her flats.

 

“Yeah, sure, okay, I like nature,” he mumbles.  Derek continues walking along the path, throwing worried glances in Stiles’ direction.  He seemed more restless than usual and their connection was foggy.  Every time Derek would pinpoint an emotion, it would fade and mutate into a different one.

 

“Is there anything besides trees to look at?” Stiles asks.

 

“What were you expecting?  We’re in a forest,” Lydia says, frowning as she picks a leaf out of her hair.

 

“Actually, there’s-” Derek starts.

 

“I don’t know.  Small furry creatures, maybe?  I haven’t seen a single bird or squirrel or chipmunk since we’ve been out here.  Derek, did you wipe out the critter population?  Scott ate a rabbit raw once.  It was really gross.  I never followed him into the woods again.  Well, except for the other night when he went totally nuts.  But that was different.  No one has seen his dad either, by the way.  My dad said his car was parked at a local bar, but he’s officially a missing person.  Oh and he’d been partying with Mr. Harris,” he says, turning to Lydia, who raises a brow at him.  “Yeah, apparently they’re like BFFs, which figures because they’re both dicks.  But anyway, is there anything good for climbing out here?  Besides trees I won’t even attempt to climb?”

 

“Well, I was about to say that there’s a cliff that leads to a river on the other-”

 

“Cool, let’s go.  Show me, show me, show me,” Stiles chants, bouncing up and down.  The hell is wrong with him today?

 

“I don’t think a giant drop into water is good for you right now,” Lydia says.

 

“What?  Why not?  It’s not like I’ll jump off,” he says.  Derek frowns and stops in his tracks, picking up the lie in his words.  He peers over at the boy, who’s just staring at them, still bouncing on his feet.

 

“We should go back.  No cliffs today,” Derek says.

 

“Aw man, why do you always have to kill the fun?  I was so ready to see some awesome rapids or a waterfall, or maybe some fish.  Fish!  I totally forgot to defrost that fish for my dad yesterday.  Crap, he probably ate fast food or something.  I’m so gonna yell about it when I get home,” he rambles.  He starts listing off nutritional facts (or lack thereof as he puts it) in fast food and Derek tunes him out.  Instead, he watches his movements and tries to sort out the mess he’s getting through their connection.  He’s so focused that when a dark shape blurs passed him he completely misses it and doesn’t realize anything’s happened until Lydia screams.

 

Derek snaps to attention, finding the girl scrambling off the ground after something had knocked her down.  The dark shape blurs passed again, this time throwing him into a tree, leaving Stiles in the open.  The enemy comes to a brief stop in front of the boy, makes some kind of roaring hissing noise at him and then bounds off again.  The creature was about Derek’s size, all white, with mangled claws on each hand and was dripping some kind of black goo all over the place.  Derek had never seen anything like it.

 

“What the fuck was that?” Stiles asks, looking around the trees franticly.

 

“Are either of you hurt?” he asks, pulling himself off the ground.  The thing, thankfully, hadn’t got its claws in him and none of the slime was on any of them that he could see.

 

“No, we’re fine,” Lydia says, turning Stiles in her hands so she could look him over.  He slaps her hands away and frowns.

 

“I’m fine, quit it,” he grumbles.

 

“Alright, let’s get back to the house.  Keep an eye out,” Derek orders, pushing the two teens along.  As they near the house, Peter strolls towards them, a grim expression on his face.

 

“I’m assuming you had a run-in with our friend,” he says.

 

“Did you see it?” Derek asks.

 

“I got a glimpse a few days ago.  It’s been prowling around the woods, picking off our food supply.  That herd of deer we’d been chasing is dwindling fast,” he says.

 

“And you didn’t think I should know about that?” Derek asks, glaring at him.

 

“Save it, you can yell at me later.  We have a bigger problem.  It got bored attacking woodland creatures and left a nice little present on our back porch.  Or two presents, rather,” he says, motioning for Derek to go look.  They all follow him to the back, curious to see what Peter meant.  Derek has a brief thought of shielding them from whatever the sight may be, but he figures they’re going to have to get used to the gore in their lives eventually.  This could back-fire, but I’m gonna do it anyway.  He rounds the corner before the two humans and freezes.  He quickly takes back his thought and holds them back, not wanting them to see.  Derek knew at least one of the men and figured they didn’t need to see what had become of his body.

 

“Peter, take them inside please,” he says.  Peter does as asked, ignoring Stiles’ protests.  “I’ll tell you after.  You don’t need to see it,” he explains.  Lydia quickly pulls the boy along with her, seemingly not noticing Peter’s hand on her back.  Either that or she likes him being close.  I really need to find out what’s happening there.  But later.

 

Derek kneels next to the bodies, looking them over more closely.  They’d both been completely shredded, barely recognizable, but Derek could still make out certain features.  He rifles through their pockets, searching for identification.  He pulls out a worn, brown leather wallet from the one he suspected he knew and flipped it open to see his driver’s license.  The information confirms his suspicions and he moves on to the next body, quickly searching for a wallet.  He finds a brand new leather wallet in the man’s jacket pocket, flips it open and has to read the name at least three times before it registers.

 

“Shit,” he mutters, closing the wallet and pocketing the identification.  Normally he wouldn’t have touched anything, but now that the Sheriff knew what was going on, he’s assuming he won’t be falsely accused.  He’ll have to tell everyone during the meeting, but he should probably deal with his pack mates first.  Taking the tarp from under the porch, he gently places it over the two men.  Derek strides into the house, finding the two humans on the couch once again, with Peter perched on the arm rest.

 

“Whatever is in the woods is killing humans now,” he says.

 

“Well, I figured that much.  Who was it?” Lydia asks.

 

“I have a pretty good guess,” Stiles says.  Derek frowns, wondering if he wasn’t fast enough in shielding him from the sight.  “Last I checked, we lost someone in the woods two nights ago.  And he’s still missing, so…,” he says, making a ‘there you go’ kind of gesture.  Derek sighs and nods in affirmation.

 

“Awesome, just great.  Was his drinking buddy with him too?” he asks.  Derek pushes his uncle off the armrest and slumps onto the couch with them, not bothering to answer. 

 

“That was a yes, by the way,” Peter mutters from the floor.

 

“Fucking fantastic,” Stiles mumbles.  “What do we tell Scott?” he asks, rubbing a hand over his hair.

 

“The truth.  There’s no way in hiding it.  We’ll wait until the pack meeting,” Derek says.  Lydia shifts to look at him, her arms crossed.

 

“How do you know it was this creature and not another wolf?” she asks.

 

“Black slime,” is the only answer he gives.  She grimaces and nods.  “Yeah, makes sense.”

 

“They’ll be here soon,” Stiles says, glancing at his watch.

 

Peter stands, brushing dirt off his jeans.  “Well, I’m hungry.  Anyone for Chinese takeout?” he asks, raising his brows when they all frown at him.  “What?  It’s not like we haven’t all seen a dead body or two,” he says, crossing his arms.  Lydia snorts, but agrees on takeout as long as he gets something with vegetables.  Peter leaves a while after, leaving Derek with the two teens.

 

“What or who do you think it was?” Lydia asks.

 

“Gerard,” Stiles grumbles, receiving a nod from Derek.

 

“Allison’s grandfather?  Why?” she asks.

 

“Scott had a plan to get rid of him and it back-fired.  Now he’s some kind of creature thing that’s gonna try to kill us all,” Stiles says nonchalantly.  Derek picked up on the anxiety that rolled through him, but didn’t comment.  “Scott told his mom, so she got someone to cover her shift and my dad says he’ll take the night off to be here,” he says.

 

“Did you tell him about the bodies?” Derek asks.

 

“Yeah, because that’s really something I should tell him through a text.  ‘Hey dad, just a heads up, there’s some dead bodies on Derek’s porch’.  No, I didn’t tell him.  That can be your job,” he says.  Before Derek can snap at his attitude, he hears the McCall’s car drive up the path with Scott, Isaac, Danny, and Melissa inside.  Lydia frowns as she looks out the window.

 

“Do we tell them right away or later?”

 

“We’ll wait until everyone is here.  We don’t want to have to repeat it ten different times,” Derek answers.  Derek listens as Melissa worries over the state of the house.

 

“Scott,” she whispers insistently.  “Shouldn’t you knock first?  How well do you know this man?”

 

“Mom, it’s fine.  Besides have you seen the place?  It’s still missing a wall in the back.  I really doubt it matters if I knock,” Scott answers.  Derek bristles at the comment, but rises to open the door for them.

 

The woman startles a bit, making Scott glare at him.  Derek steps to the side, letting them pass into his home.  Scott huffed and stomped passed him, flopping down in between Stiles and Lydia on the couch.  Isaac cautiously moves forward, pulling a boy about Derek’s height along with him.

 

“Derek, this is Danny.  Danny, Derek,” he introduces, gesturing at them.  Derek nods at the boy, taking in the strong form and confidence he was trying to exude through his fear.  Danny squints his eyes, looking him over.

 

“So, not Miguel then,” he comments.  Stiles barks out a laugh, mumbling ‘Oh my god, I forgot’.  Derek growls at him, which only makes the kid, laugh harder.

 

“What?  What am I missing?  Who’s Miguel?” Scott questions, poking Stiles in the side.  Stiles chokes on his giggling and falls off the couch.  He’s about to answer, but Derek cuts him off.

 

“It’s nothing.  It’s not important,” he snarls.  Danny gives him another once over, eyes lingering on his chest appreciatively.  Isaac looks back and forth between them, and frowns as he pulls Danny away.

 

“Can’t believe I fell for that,” Danny mutters, punching Stiles in the arm.  The boy has recovered from his fit and is now just smiling like an idiot.  Derek turns away, meeting an apprehensive woman in his doorway.

 

“Hello, I’m Melissa, Scott’s mother,” she says, holding a hand out.  Derek scrounges up one of his friendly smiles and shakes her hand.  Her eyes widen and she immediately relaxes.

 

“It’s nice to meet you, my name is Derek,” he greets.  He felt the subtle guilt he always does when he uses his charm on women, but pushes it away.  He had picked up a few tricks during his teenage years and often used them to get what he wanted, but it left a burning sensation deep in his stomach, as it brought those memories to the surface.  Melissa lingered in the door for a minute, eyeing him much the same way Danny had been.

 

The smell of mint washes over him from the other room and Derek looks up to find Stiles watching them with a raised brow.  The kid quickly looks down at his phone, trying to pretend he hadn’t seen anything.  Derek frowns, recognizing the minty flavoring of emotion as jealousy.  He didn’t think things between them had progressed far enough to produce that, but clearly he’d been wrong.

 

“Derek,” someone says.  He looks back to the door, finding the Sheriff scowling at him.  When had he arrived?  How did they keep sneaking up on him?  The man slaps his shoulder as he walks by, strolling into the house and frowning at the state of it.  He, thankfully, doesn’t say anything and sits on the armrest next to Stiles.

 

“You gonna tell me why I got a call saying you never showed for school?” he asks, crossing his arms.

 

“Felt sick, didn’t think it would be good to go in,” Stiles says, fiddling with his phone.  The man just shakes his head and sighs, dropping the subject.  He technically wasn’t lying this time.

 

The wolves in the room stiffen when a red SUV pulls up the drive.  The two hunters hesitate inside the car when they see Derek on the porch, but he stands his ground.  Scott joins him at the door, which prompts Allison to climb from the car.  Derek immediately picks up on the smell of gunpowder and can’t help when his body goes rigid.  The boy at his side glances at him, noticing the difference.

 

“They wouldn’t come without weapons.  But they promised no wolfs bane,” Scott says.  The young wolf bounds off the porch and respectfully greets the new arrivals.  Derek wants to pull him away from them, but there would be no point.  Scott trusts them and would never want Derek to interfere, so he doesn’t.  He pulls on his strongest connection, calling his new second in command to his side.  Derek strolls down the steps, feeling his barely formed pack fan out around him.  Stiles stands to his right and Lydia on his left, filling Peter’s usual spot.  It feels strange to have her standing at his side, but he welcomes it.  Isaac lingers in between Derek and Scott with Danny at his side.  This is so completely dysfunctional.  Melissa and the Sheriff step forward to greet Chris and it’s awkward to say the least.  None of them trust or like each other at all and it’s evident in their expressions.  Once the formalities are dealt with, the two parents stand to the side, clearly not choosing sides.  Understandable.

 

“Derek,” Chris says, his ever present fake smile in place.  Allison remains quiet at his side, but Derek can see the calculations forming in her head.  She’s sizing up her enemy, like any good hunter.  The girl’s eyes land on her friend who’s standing beside Derek, with the pack.  Lydia nods her head towards Stiles as way of explanation, but Allison still looks wary of the situation.

 

“Chris, glad you could make it,” Derek grumbles.  The man scans the group, his eyes landing on Stiles.

 

“Before we decide on anything, I want to…um…apologize I suppose, to Stiles, for what my father did.  If I had known, I wouldn’t have let it happen,” he says.  Stiles’ already erratic heartbeat flutters uncontrollably, letting Derek hear the hitch in his breathing.

 

“Um, yeah, sure, okay,” Stiles mutters, eyes darting between the hunters nervously.

 

“I suppose if I’m apologizing for my family, that should include…my…my wife.  She shouldn’t have attacked Scott and I’m sorry,” he says, glancing at the boy in front of his daughter.  Scott nods and gives a somewhat reassuring smile.  Derek already knew what was coming next, but was still slightly unprepared to hear the words.  The hunter is interrupted for a moment when Peter cruises up in Derek’s Camaro, filling the air with Chinese takeout.  The man climbs from the car, grinning at the group.

 

“So, what did I miss?” he asks, taking his place as Lydia moves over.  The hunters watch him warily, but Chris continues with his speech.

 

“I know no amount of apologies can erase what my sister did,” Chris starts, looking at Derek and Peter.  His uncle is a tight ball of anger at his side, but he remains completely composed, not making the slightest of responses.  “But I thought I should say something anyway.  I don’t know exactly what went on or how it started, although I have a decent guess” he says, returning his gaze to Derek.  I really don’t want to hear this.  This was supposed to be about a truce only.  Derek holds still, repeatedly shoving his primal instincts down and waits for the man to finish.  “My family does have a code we follow and she broke it, repeatedly.  I don’t know what changed in her to make her think what she did was the right move and I’m sorry.  Kate was…” Chris starts.  He stops abruptly when Derek’s eyes shift at the mention of her name.  He was quickly losing the fight against his wolf and if it wasn’t for the hand that fisted in his shirt, he would have pounced on the hunter.  His spine tingled, the sensation pulling him back to the surface and reducing the red haze that came over him.  He hadn’t even realized he’d taken a few steps forward until Allison shifted on her feet, dragging a pistol out of her waistband.

 

“Back off,” she ordered, lining him in her sights.  Her young face transformed and Derek could hear the laughter of his nightmares.  He knew it wasn’t real and that she was still Allison, but with a weapon in her hands, all he could see was her.  A low rumble vibrated through his chest, making the hand at his back pull harder on the fabric of his shirt.

 

“That’s enough,” Scott interrupts, stepping into the line of fire.  Allison blinks and quickly lowers her gun.  “We don’t have time for this right now.  We’re here to negotiate terms of a treaty, remember?” he asks, his hands up in a placating manner towards both sides.  Derek breathes out slowly and lets Stiles pull him back.  Even when he’s calm, the boy doesn’t let go, grounding the Alpha wolf whether meaning to or not.  Scott turns to the hunters and asks “Are you guys willing to help us fight the Alphas?”

 

“If a war is inevitable, then yes, we will fight with you,” Chris answers.  Allison crosses her arms in defiance, but doesn’t make a comment.  Derek ignores it, finally calm enough to possibly negotiate terms.

 

“In that case, how about we start with Derek’s terms and whatever you don’t like you can veto,” Scott says.  His girlfriend glares at him, but he only shrugs at her.  The older hunter motions for Derek to proceed.

 

“After tonight, no hunters are allowed on my property without permission and all communication will be done through Scott and Allison,” Derek starts.

 

“That’s fine.  Allison knows the rules though.  She’s never to be alone with the pack,” he says, then looks at Scott.  “Unless Scott is there, I guess,” he mutters.  Scott raises a brow, his brown eyes lighting up at the acknowledgement.  “And same goes for hunter territory.  Other than Scott, I don’t want to see any wolves near my house,” he adds.  Derek nods, accepting the terms.

 

“There’s the obvious term of not harming my pack,” Derek says, then adds “Or Scott,” as an afterthought.  The young wolf may trust the hunters with his safety, but Derek sure as hell wasn’t.  He chooses to ignore the surprised look he gets from Scott.

 

“I understand that, but make no mistake, if I feel that your pack is a threat to me or my daughter, I won’t hesitate to shoot,” Chris says.

 

“We won’t attack if you don’t,” Derek answers with a shrug.  The two hunters nod in agreement.  “If my missing betas are found, they will be returned to me immediately, in the exact condition you found them in,” Derek says.

 

“And if they’re rabid?” Chris asks.  “If they attack and I kill them, should I expect retribution?”

 

If the evidence proves that they were out of control and you had no choice, then I will consider leniency.  But I expect you to show mercy, given what they’re going through right now and try to restrain them before taking lethal action,” Derek answers.

 

“You think the Alphas have them?” he asks.  Derek hesitates because after the events of today, he wasn’t as convinced about that.

 

“They might have them, but we recently encountered another creature in the woods,” he says.  Allison looks up, a somewhat guilty expression on her face.

 

“Monster with ragged claws and black slime?” she asks.  Everyone turns to her, surprised by the statement, “I was at the edge of the preserve a few weeks ago, by the cliff.  It was sitting in a tree, watching me,” she explains.

 

“Why were you in the preserve?” Derek asks, at the same time Scott asks “Which night was that?”

 

“Two Fridays ago,” she answers Scott.  Derek scowls, not liking that a hunter was prowling around the woods.

 

“Oh, that night,” Scott mutters.  “Then are you sure that’s what you saw?” he asks, earning a vicious glare from the huntress.

 

“Scott, her description of it was right.  We saw it earlier today,” Lydia says.  That gave Derek the perfect opening to tell everyone about the bodies, but he didn’t know how to start.

 

“Are we assuming this creature is…?” Chris starts, but stops at Derek’s nod.  “Right, okay then,” he mumbles.

 

“At first he was only hunting the animal population in the woods, but he’s taking human victims now,” Derek says.

 

“How do you know?” Chris asks.  Still in denial then.

 

“We found the bodies.  Two men,” Derek explains.  The Sheriff clears his throat, gaining the Alpha’s attention.

 

“Where are they?  I know they were killed by…this…thing…but their death’s still have to be reported,” he says.  Derek nods in understanding and hesitates again.  How do I say this?  The man searches his face and connects some of the dots.  “You know them,” he states.

 

“Yes, I know who they are,” he admits, glancing at the woman next to the Sheriff.  Melissa tilts her head at him, much like a wolf.  No, we can’t turn Scott’s mother, stop that.  “One of the men was Adrian Harris,” he says.  Scott, Isaac, and Danny gape at him.

 

“Our chemistry teacher?” Danny asks.

 

“But why?” Isaac asks.

 

“I don’t know why,” Derek answers.  He literally had no idea why Gerard would target Harris and McCall, other than to get a rise out of Scott perhaps.

 

“You said two men?” the Sheriff asks, but the sigh he gives tells Derek he’s already figured it out.  Derek gently pulls at the barely –there connection with Scott, tethering him down in case the kid loses control again.  Scott’s brow furrows as he feels it and he’s about to protest, but Derek cuts him off.

 

“The second man was David McCall,” Derek says bluntly.  No other way to do it.  There’s no way to ease someone into losing a family member.

 

“Are you…?” Melissa starts to ask.  She swallows and takes a breath.  “Are you sure?” she asks.  Derek hands the man’s wallet over to her.  The woman nods, clutching the object in her hand.

 

“How…when…where is he?” Scott stutters.  Melissa bundles her son into her arms, but the young wolf looks too stunned to do anything.  The Sheriff awkwardly rubs Melissa’s shoulder for a moment and then turns to Derek.

 

“I’ll, uh, get my guys to handle this.  Where did you find them?” he asks.

 

“They’re around back,” Derek answers.  Scott looks up and quickly pulls out of his mother’s arms to run for the back.  He figured that would happen, but he couldn’t exactly forbid Scott from seeing it.  He and his mother would have to identify the body later anyhow.  Melissa takes a breath and follows her son.  Allison glances at her father, before going to her boyfriend’s side.  Derek feels Stiles follow shortly after and wants to protest, but Stiles only shakes his head.  Scott is his friend and he should be with him right now.  Derek understands, but that doesn’t mean he has to like it.

 

“Johnson, you copy?” the Sheriff calls into his radio.

 

“Johnson here, sir,” a man says.

 

“I got two cases of a 187 out in the preserve.  Looks to be an animal attack.  Call the medical examiner and the coroner.  Over,” he says.  “Now, Derek, unless you have an answer for why the bodies are on your property, I suggest we move them.  Probably to the river.”  Derek wants to groan in frustration because he hadn’t thought of that.

 

“I’ll move them,” he says.  “Could you, um, bring Scott and Melissa…somewhere?” he asks.

 

“I’ll drive them to the hospital.  It won’t take long to tape off wherever you put them and get the situation assessed properly,” the man answers and walks over to the group in back.  He gently pulls a crying Melissa away, leading her to his cruiser in the driveway.  Stiles picks his sill-in-shock friend away also and puts him in the cruiser, where his mother grabs onto him.  They drive off, leaving the group in a morose silence.

 

“Well, now that that’s taken care of, who wants egg rolls?” Peter says.  Derek glares at him.

 

“And the bodies?” he questions.

 

“Oh no, that’s all you, nephew.  My dinner is getting cold,” Peter says and strolls into the house.  Fucking useless sometimes.

 

“I’ll help,” Isaac says, stepping forward.

 

“No, Isaac, you and Danny go home.  I’ll take care of it,” Derek says.  Isaac looks back, seemingly to have forgotten his boyfriend in all the drama.

 

“Right, crap, Danny you okay?” he asks.

 

“Oh, yeah, I’m good,” the boy says, nodding franticly.  Isaac sighs and pulls him towards the McCall’s car.

 

“We’ll be at Scott’s if you need us,” he calls to Derek, steering a nervous Danny into the car.  His beta drives away, trying to comfort his mate.  Derek turns from the rest of the group to gather the bodies into the tarp, making it an easy one trip.  He keeps his ears open as he ties them together.

 

“Lydia, you want a ride?” Allison asks.

 

“No, I’ll ride with Stiles,” the girl answers.  Derek can feel Allison’s frustration at being rejected.

 

“What’s going on with you?” she asks.

 

“What?”

 

“I didn’t send you to Deaton for you to switch sides on me.  Are you joining the pack now?” she demands.

 

“I don’t know yet, Alli.  I haven’t decided.  Besides, even if I do decide to join, that doesn’t mean I’m against you.  I’m still your friend.”

 

“Not if you’re with them!” Allison shouts.

 

“Hey-” Stiles interrupts, offended.

 

“This isn’t about you, Stiles!” the huntress snaps.  Derek looks up, not liking the way Stiles’ heart jumped at her tone.  The huntress was glaring at the red-head, who huffs and stalks off to Stiles’ jeep.  He can feel the anger and sadness rolling off her as her friends words sink in.  He knows that Lydia has already made up her mind about her place in the pack, so Allison’s words had cut deep.

 

“Allison,” Chris says, reaching for his daughter.

 

“What?!” she snaps.  Stiles backs away from the two and follows his friend.  Derek watches the silent exchange between father and daughter and is surprised to see Chris deflate, looking defeated under his daughter’s strong temper.

 

“Nothing.  Let’s just go home,” he mumbles.  Allison pockets the blade that Derek hadn’t even seen her take out and stomps to their SUV.  They drive through the woods, turning left onto the road just as Stiles’ jeep turns right.  Derek shakes his head and refocuses on the task at hand.  He finishes tying the tarp around the two bodies and hefts the weight onto his shoulder.  He quickly bounds off into the woods, heading for the ravine.

 

Derek leaps across the great chasm, nearing the area where the river begins.  He’s flying through the air, readying for his landing, when something crashes into his side, sending him spinning.  The bodies are ripped out of his clutches and sent sprawling down the hillside.  Derek slams hard into the rocky mountain side and scrambles for purchase to stop from sliding.  His claws catch on the rocks and he hauls himself up onto the landing.  A groaning wheeze echoes around him, not letting him pinpoint the enemy’s location.  It sounded similar to the creature from earlier that day, but it was deeper.  What does that mean?  And why can’t I find it?  Derek is knocked off his feet and pinned down by a large white creature with red eyes.  Weren’t they black before?  The being screeches in his face, making Derek’s ears ring and the wolf quickly jams his claws into its stomach and flings it off him.  It howls, but hastily returns to its feet, moving faster than the Alpha.  This thing was smaller than the one from earlier and its claws were red.  Derek wonders if it’s just blood, but the red venom is dripping from its fangs as well.  The face resembles Peter’s Alpha form, but is twisted into an uglier version.  It’s covered in coarse white hair from head to toe and almost shaped like an actual wolf, but the angles are all backwards.

 

The creature groans again and charges at him.  He doesn’t even have time to shield himself because of its speed.  One second it was standing by the tree, the next it was smashing him into the tree, swiping its claws haphazardly in the air and catching him in the side.  His head clashes with the bark of the tree, disorienting him and the creature runs down into the gorge.  It reappears with the two bodies and stalks off towards town.  What in the hell just happened?  Derek blinks rapidly, trying to clear his vision.  The trees tilt wildly and he sees flashing lights in the distance; probably the Sheriff’s team to retrieve the bodies.  Well, they’re out of luck.  Some fucked up thing is about to eat them most likely.  He must have been lying there longer than he thought because he began to hear a familiar voice shouting at the deputies.  The man was pointing towards the river, telling the others to keep searching.  He could tell the Sheriff had seen him and was distracting his men until Derek could get away.  His connection with Peter flared, but he shoved his uncle away.  It wasn’t safe in the woods.  Derek had no idea if that thing would be back and Peter still wasn’t at full strength.  If Derek couldn’t take it on, there was no way Peter would survive it.  His uncle quickly backed off, probably returning to his meal.

 

Derek rolled onto his side, accidently putting pressure on the wound his enemy had left on him.  He’ll forever deny the whimper that escaped him.  The claw marks were burning, pain shooting through his entire right side.  Fatigue rolled through his muscles, pushing him back flat on his back.  Shit, this was bad.

 

“Derek?” a voice calls.  He pries his eyes open to see the Sheriff walking towards him.  “Holy hell, what happened?” the man shouts, coming to his side.  He reaches to get a better look at Derek’s wound, but the wolf catches his wrist.

 

“No, don’t touch it.  It might be poisonous,” he says, panting with the effort.  The Sheriff snatches his hand away, eyes wide with concern. 

 

“Who do I call?” he asks.

 

“No one.  It should heal in a few minutes,” he says.  Although it should’ve already healed.  What the fuck is going on?

 

“Son, I can’t just leave you here,” the man says.  Derek’s breath hitches on the name, but he covers it with a cough.  “I’ll call Stiles to pick you up,” he says.

 

“No!  Might still be out here.  Not safe,” Derek says, the panic making it hard to form complete sentences.  The Sheriff nods and puts his phone away.

 

“Alright, I’m gonna get you to the road and then call Stiles.  No more arguing,” the man says.  Derek nods, too tired to even contemplate arguing.  “Can you stand?” he asks.   The Sheriff grabs his arm and helps the wolf to his feet.  Derek worries about the man’s heart for a moment, but it’s beating strongly at his side, with only the normal amount of struggle.  The minute he puts weight on his legs, they give out, making the older man stumble, but he successfully holds him up, and carefully avoids the red venom leaking out of Derek’s wound.  Oh fuck, that can’t be good.  The Sheriff basically drags him the ten minutes it takes to get to the side of the road and gently places him back on the ground.  The forest tilts dangerously, making Derek’s stomach roll.  He closes his eyes, hoping it would help.  He hears the Sheriff dialing and the phone ringing.

 

“Dad?”

 

“Stiles, thank god,” the man breathes.

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

“Derek was attacked and I need you to come get him.  I can’t have my deputies find him.  We’re on the side of the road near the ravine,” he answers.

 

“Shit, okay, I’m on my way.  Is he alright?” Stiles asks.  Derek can hear the sound of the jeep’s engine turning over.

 

“He’ll be alright.  Drive safe,” the Sheriff says and hangs up.  The man comes back to his side and peers down at him.  “How you doing?” he asks.  There is two of him, so probably not good.

 

“Fine,” he pants.  His stomach lurches again and he quickly swallows to avoid heaving up everything in his stomach.  “Shit,” he groans as a stabbing pain shoots through his side.  The scarlet venom mixes with the dark red blood that’s seeping out of his wound and darkens the ground beneath him.  The Sheriff grimaces and looks away, patting his left shoulder in sympathy.  Squealing tires round the corner a minute later and the jeep quickly flies down the road, breaking hard in front of them.  Stiles climbs out of the vehicle and races to his other side.  His quick movements have Derek’s vision slanting again.

 

“Holy – Derek what happened?” he asks.

 

“No time for that, son.  Let’s get him in the car.  And don’t touch that,” the Sheriff says, pointing to the mess Derek’s side has become.  The two drag him to his feet and Derek can’t help the small shout as the movement pulls at his wound, making it gush out more venom.

 

“Shit, okay, hurry,” Stiles says and the Stilinski’s quickly jostle him into the passenger’s seat.  He slumps against the door when it shuts, grateful for the support.  The Sheriff leans in the window, gaining his attention.

 

“Do you remember where the bodies are?” he asks.

 

“Creature…took…them,” he mutters.  The man nods and pats him on the shoulder.

 

“I’m bringing him to Deaton,” Stiles says as he starts the jeep.  They wave to each other before Stiles hits the gas.  The drive leaves him disoriented and he focuses on Stiles’ hand on his knee to keep from passing out.  “We’re almost there, just hold on, okay?”  Stiles says.  He claws his phone out of his pocket and dials.

 

“Deaton, it’s Stiles.  Derek needs help, we’re coming to you,” he says.  “What?  I don’t know, I didn’t see it,” he snaps.  Derek couldn’t make out the muffled words Deaton was saying, so he listened to Stiles as he drifted in and out.  “He’s…I don’t know.  There’s claw marks and something leaking out of him that’s definitely not just blood.  It’s bright red, and looks sticky.  Oh, gross,” the kid mumbles.  “I don’t know, hold on.”

 

“Derek?  Can you hear me?” he asks, pushing on his shoulder.  Derek can only manage a nod.  “Okay, he’s conscious, but completely out of it.  I don’t know, alright?  He’s pale and breathing heavy and…” Stiles rambles.  Derek shifts a little, looking out the windshield.

 

“Stiles, look out!” he yells, adrenaline shooting through him.  Stiles hits the brakes just in time to avoid hitting the creatures that had bounded into the road.  There were four of them standing in the middle of the street, blocking the way to Deaton’s.  Why are there so many of them?  Was Gerard turning people or was this something else entirely?  The large white one was out in front, flanked by the other three.  Derek recognized the one that attacked him, dripping the scarlet venom along the street.  All four were coated in white hair, but the claws were all sporting different colored venom.  The biggest was the one they saw earlier, with black talons.  There was also one with white and one with dark purple.  Stiles quickly put the vehicle in reverse, swerved the wheel so that they turned around and hit the gas, peeling away from the creatures.  He grabbed the phone from the floor, which had hung up on the vet when it was dropped.  Stiles rapidly dialed.

 

“Allison!  Please tell me you have a bunch of hunters stashed somewhere,” he says.  “No?  Shit!” he yells, looking in his rearview mirror.  Oh fuck, they’re chasing us.  “Oh my god, we are so fucked!” Stiles shouts, taking a sharp turn.  Derek is plowed into the door, his wound scraping against it, making him scream as the agony shoots through his entire body.  His vision goes white for a moment as the pain overtakes him.  “Oh shit, Derek, don’t you dare die on me!” Stiles yells, swerving onto the crowded highway, aiming for the exit that would bring them the long way to Deaton’s.  Taking the highway was a smart move because the creatures hastily backed off, retreating into the woods.  “Allison, that thing has friends!  Tell everyone to stay out of the fucking woods!  I’m bringing Derek to Deaton,” he says and hangs up on the huntress.  Derek sucks in breath after breath, trying to stay conscious and block out the pain at the same time.  He latches onto the sound of Stiles’ erratic heartbeat, focusing on nothing else.  He’s in a daze for the rest of the drive, his vision swimming and stomach churning violently.  Stiles jams on the brakes again when they eventually reach the clinic, parking in the back just like the last time.

 

Acid climbs up his throat and he hurriedly pries the door open, bending over and vomiting onto the pavement.  He expected it to be black again, but it was a bright red.

 

“Oh gross, not again,” Stiles mumbles, coming to his side.  “Shit, that color can’t be good,” he says.  Derek’s heart begins to race as his body fights the infection.  The sudden increase throws him into a coughing fit, which has him falling out of the jeep.  “Woah, okay, I got you,” Stiles says, taking an arm around his shoulders.  Deaton rushes out a moment later, holding the door open as Stiles hauls him inside.

 

“Put him on the table,” he orders.  Stiles pushes him up onto the cold metal and Deaton cuts his shirt open to examine the wound.  “What have the symptoms been?” he asks Stiles.

 

“Um, pain, obviously.  And I think he’s dizzy or disoriented.  Which would cause nausea.  And oh yeah he just puked up some gross red stuff,” Stiles says, cringing.

 

“Alright, keep talking to him.  Don’t let him fall asleep,” Deaton says, rummaging through his cabinets.

 

“Right, okay.  Hey Derek, remember the last time we were here?  You wanted me to chop your arm off, but I refused.  Then you threatened to cut my head off.  Good times, buddy,” Stiles ranted.  Derek focused on him, ignoring the restriction in his lungs.  Deaton returns with a plastic tube and wooden stick.  He squeezes the tube, producing a light brown sludge, which he proceeds to spread on the lacerations.  Derek flinched as the ointment clung to his wounds, burning the venom out of his skin.  His fingers clenched around the table as it spread through his system.

 

“The pain should stop in a minute,” Deaton says, applying more.  The Vet, thankfully, was right about that.  The pain slowly reduced, taking with it the nausea, and fever.  His lungs expanded when he inhaled, but his heart was still beating uncomfortably fast.  He was about to mention it when the breath was once again dragged out of him and his chest seized painfully.  Derek cried out as the pressure turned to agony, a stabbing sensation running up from his heart and into his neck.  His vision blurred and his body went numb.  Derek began to panic as he lost complete control of his body.

 

“Is that supposed to happen?” Stiles asks.

 

“No, it isn’t,” Deaton answers.  The man places his fingers on his wrist, finding his pulse and places his ear against Derek’s chest.  His vision went black, but he could still hear Deaton saying, “His pulse is dropping.”

 

Derek can hear the man hunting through his cabinets, cursing and flinging things out of his way.

 

“Derek, stay with me,” Stiles says.  His voice is close and Derek can faintly feel is hand squeezing around his own.  “Dude, you’re stronger than this, come on.  You’re an Alpha for Christ’s sake!  You’ve dealt with hunters, you’re crazy ass uncle, hunters again, and a fucking Kanima, and then your psycho uncle again, so I know some creepy ass monkey-wolf creature can’t beat you,” he says.

 

“Stiles, is his heart still beating?” Deaton asks.  Gentle fingers find the pulse on his wrist and he can hear Stiles’ breathing stutter.

 

“Barely,” he answers.

 

“He can hear you.  Keep talking to him while I mix this,” Deaton says.

 

“Man, you gotta fight whatever this is.  I know you can do it.  If you…if you go, you’ll miss out on pushing me into stuff, I know you love doing that, it’s your hobby.  And you’ll miss Isaac falling in love with Danny.  And Lydia becoming some genius mathematician.  And what about Peter, huh?  He’s finally becoming un-zombiefied and that’s because of you, dude,” Stiles says.  The pressure in his chest increases as his heart struggles to pump blood through his system.  The sound of his own breathing threatens to drown Stiles out, but as his pulse gets weaker, the boy moves closer, talking directly into his ear.  “Derek, you can’t…you can’t leave yet.  You’re our Alpha, we need you,” he says.  Derek can hear the tears in his voice and wishes he could open his eyes, jump off the table and hold him.  “Please don’t leave me,” he whispers.  He feels a pinching sensation in the crook of his right elbow as something is injected into him.  Noise stops as Derek drags in another breath and his heart stutters as the infection battles the new serum in his blood.  Stiles’ voice is gone and all he can hear is his heart pumping.  He tries not to panic as it begins to slow even more, hoping that Deaton can save him.

 

Stiles

 

This couldn’t be happening.  It wasn’t possible.  I can’t lose him.  Not yet.  Not ever.  Why is this happening?  Derek was pale and had stopped moving a long time ago.  Deaton was injecting a second dose of some kind of yellow-green liquid into the wolf’s arm and had a stethoscope placed on his heart.  Stiles kept his gaze fixed on Derek’s face, waiting for some kind of sign of life.  He knew the man was still alive because his chest was still rising and falling, but he looked so still and his hand was cold in Stiles’ hand.

 

“It’s working,” Deaton says.  Stiles chokes on a sob and rests his head on Derek’s shoulder.  He cards his fingers through the dark hair as he controls his breathing.  This is no time to have a panic attack, damn it.  Stiles startles when the hand in his moves and he quickly wipes the water from his face and looks up to find Derek’s eyes slowly opening.  “Derek, take it easy.  Deep breaths,” Deaton says.  Derek blinks at him and does as told.  After a few minutes, Deaton checks his vitals again.  “How are you feeling?” he asks.

 

“Better,” Derek croaks.  Deaton begins cleaning the wound and redresses it.

 

“Any pain?” he asks.

 

“A little,” Derek answers and closes his eyes.  Stiles’ heart clenches in panic and the wolf’s eyes fly open and dart around until they find him.  Derek clutches his hand tighter and brings his palm up against his heart, making him feel the steady pounding.

 

“Alright, well, you’re vitals look good and the toxin is no longer in the wound.  I’m sure after some rest, you’ll be perfectly fine again.  I doubt you’ll need any more observation, so you’re free to leave when you feel up to it.  But if something and I mean anything feels off, do not hesitate to call me.  This was a close call and we don’t want it to happen again,” Deaton says, patting Derek’s shoulder.  The man then leaves to wash up.  Stiles lets out a breath, thanking every deity he can think of that Derek isn’t dead.

 

“Dude, you scared the hell outta me.  Don’t do that again,” Stiles says, poking Derek in the shoulder.  The wolf snorts and shakes his head at him.

 

“Help me up,” he says.  Stiles frowns, worried that Derek shouldn’t be moving this soon, but the man starts to push himself up without the assistance.  Stiles pulls him the rest of the way and Derek carefully swings his legs over the side, bracketing Stiles in-between them.  His eyes travel up Derek’s naked torso, eventually finding his lips and then his eyes.  He looks ridiculously good for a guy who was dying a minute ago.  The thought quickly sobers him and he steps away, out of the man’s reach.

 

“Dude, you need a new shirt.  You must spend ridiculous amounts of money on clothes.  I don’t think I’ve seen you in one that hasn’t gotten irreparably damaged,” he rambles.  Derek shrugs.

 

“Job hazard,” he says.

 

“More like life hazard,” Stiles retorts.  Derek shakes his head again and steps off the table.  The minute he’s on his feet, he pitches forward, falling into Stiles and crushing him against the counter.  “Knew you shouldn’t have gotten up so fast,” Stiles mutters.  He expects Derek to pull away, but the man lingers there, body flush against Stiles’.  His hands were grasping the edge of the counter for balance and Stiles was finally noticing that the warmth that the wolf usually had was starting to come back.  I prefer this heat to that coldness from earlier.  That was just plain scary and unwanted.  The image of Derek collapsing out of his jeep and then his eyes closing on the table flash through his head, making his heart race again.

 

“Stiles,” Derek whispers.  Wow, his face is really close.  He looks really tired, I should probably get him home.  I still can’t believe he’s alive right now.  He hesitantly looks up at him and his heart skips a beat when he finds the intense gaze Derek is giving him.  Stiles doesn’t know where to place his hands because there is a lot of naked skin in front of him and he’s afraid to touch.  Am I even allowed to touch him?  I’m gonna risk it, I guess.  With shaking hands he cautiously rests only his fingers on Derek’s sides, heart pounding at the feel of his warm skin.  The body against him shivers slightly and Derek’s eyes briefly close at the contact.  They flutter open a second later and dart to where Stiles’ mouth is hanging open.  He quickly closes it and swallows, Derek watching every movement.  Derek slowly leans forward, glancing back and forth from Stiles’ mouth to his eyes, waiting to see if he’ll pull away.  Oh crap, should I pull away?  Do I want this?  Do I want to kiss him?  Stiles holds still, his body making the decision for him.  Derek gently presses his lips against Stiles’ in a chaste kiss.  Holy shit this is happening.  Stiles doesn’t hesitate to respond, pressing his mouth harder against Derek’s.   He startles slightly when a hand rests on his hip.  Stiles runs his hands up Derek’s sides and is shocked to hear the man’s breath catch.  Derek places a hand behind his head and pulls him closer, deepening the kiss.

 

His body tingles when a tongue darts out to trace along his bottom lip and he hesitantly allows it inside.  Stiles does the same, exploring Derek’s mouth and teeth.  Oh my god, this is so awesome, no wonder Scott turned into such an idiot after being with Allison.  My brain is slowly turning to mush.  Best first kiss ever.  Stiles trails his hand up Derek’s chest, reveling in the feeling of his warm skin.  He rests his palm over the wolf’s heart, worrying that he can feel it pounding so hard.  The sensation has him pulling away instantly, once again remembering how Derek literally almost just died.

 

“Stiles?” he asks, still searching out his lips.

 

“Derek, just wait…wait a minute, okay?” he says, out of breath.  Derek freezes and looks down at him, confusion and worry rolling through his green-blue eyes.  “It’s not…I mean, that was…,” he sighs, not knowing what to say for once.  He didn’t want to stop what was happening, but he was confused and still freaked out about what went down and everything just needed to stop for a minute.

 

“I’m sorry,” Derek says and begins to pull away.  But no, I don’t want that.

 

“No, stop, it was…I mean, it’s fine, I wanted to,” he says, gripping Derek’s sides so he wouldn’t go away.  “I just…you…,” he sighs and drops his head to Derek’s shoulder.  The wolf embraces him, his warm arms wrapping tight around him.  Stiles didn’t want to care for Derek, he didn’t like that he was developing feelings for him.  The Alpha was constantly in danger, always getting hurt, always almost dying and Stiles can’t handle that.  He was already stressed to the max with Scott, his dad, and Lydia being in harm’s way all the time.  “Derek, I can’t…what if you…what would I…,” he stutters, digging his fingers into the man’s skin.

 

“Stiles, it’s okay.  I’m fine.  I’m still here,” Derek says, rubbing his back.  But you almost weren’t, he wants to say.  He wraps his arms around Derek’s middle and clings to him, forcing the sudden tears away.  The front bell chimes and they quickly pull away just as Isaac comes barging in.

 

“Derek!” he shouts and charges at the Alpha, grabbing him and holding on.  “Dude, I totally thought you were dead.  What the hell happened?” he asks, pulling away to look him over.  The claw marks are slowly healing, but Stiles can’t bear to look at them.  “Oh my god, what did that?” Isaac asks.

 

“There was a pack of those monkey-wolf creatures,” Derek says, smiling a little at Stiles’ term.  Holy shit, he heard everything I said, didn’t he?  Well, that’s slightly embarrassing.  “They attacked, but I’m fine now,” he says.  Isaac nods and quickly moves away.

 

“Okay, good.  I’ll let everyone know you’re not dead,” he says and then turns to Stiles.  “You completely freaked everyone out with that call to Allison, man.  She said you were screaming about the woods not being safe and then hung up on her.  What happened?” he asks.  The manic drive flashes through his head and he flinches slightly, re-hearing Derek’s scream echoing through the jeep.

 

“Um, bad shit went down.  Got chased by wolf-monkeys, that kind of thing.  But anyway, Derek needs rest…and food, so we should go,” he mumbles, tugging on Derek’s arm to lead him out the door.  Isaac opens his mouth to say something, but Stiles doesn’t wait to hear whatever it is.  He brings the Alpha outside and helps him into the jeep, carefully avoiding the vomit that was still on the pavement.  Do not look at that.  This never happened and Derek is going to be fine.

 

“Should I take you home?” Stiles asks.  He really wants to take Derek back to his place so he can watch over him, but that seems like an awkward thing to suggest after what just happened.

 

“I guess,” Derek mutters.  Stiles nods, but doesn’t move to turn the engine on.

 

“Or I could make dinner while you rest on my couch…?” he asks hesitantly.  Wow, I should really just stop talking.

 

“Okay,” Derek agrees quickly.  Stiles manages to avoid looking at the Alpha for the entire drive, consistently searching for monkey-wolves.  When he eventually pulls into his driveway, he looks over to find Derek fast asleep.  Stiles sits and watches him for a minute.  The man was leaning against the door, his head resting against the glass.  He was still half-naked of course and Stiles would definitely be admiring his perfectly sculpted chest right now if it weren’t for how pale he was.  Yeah, he still looks ridiculously good, but still sick, and tired, and I really need to stop staring.  He climbs out and crosses over to the other side, carefully prying the door open so as not to make Derek fall out.  The wolf stirs a little, but is barely conscious.

 

“Let’s get you inside buddy,” Stiles murmurs, tugging on Derek’s arm to wake him up.  Derek grunts at him, but takes the offered assistance.  Stiles huffs under the weight, but slowly carries the man onto the porch.  He digs his keys out, leaning Derek against the house to unlock the front door.  Derek seems to hesitate for some reason and Stiles can’t help himself.  “Would you prefer the window?” he asks, biting his lip to stop from laughing at the scowl he gets.

 

“Idiot,” Derek mumbles and stumbles into the house.  Stiles follows and watches as Derek flops face first onto his couch, falling asleep before his head even hits the cushions.  He cautiously removes the man’s shoes and places his feet back on the couch before pulling the small blanket over him.  Derek didn’t move the whole time and Stiles gently placed two fingers on his wrist to make sure he was still alive. His pulse was strong, so Stiles finally felt safe to leave him alone.  He ran up the stairs, taking them two at a time and gently closed his bedroom door behind him.

 

Grabbing the two pill bottles from his dresser, he quickly dry swallowed a pill from each.  Stiles had thought he didn’t need them anymore, but clearly he was wrong.  It had been 5 days, 12 hours, and 15 minutes since his last dose and he felt like he was flying out of control.  His mother’s words echoed through his head as she repeatedly yelled at the doctors that he was fine, there was nothing wrong with her little boy, he didn’t need medication.  Every once in a while, Stiles would be convinced by the ghost of his mother to stop taking his meds and he regretted it every time.

 

Play the music, sweetheart.  If you feel lost, play the music, and I’ll be with you.

 

Those were the last words she ever said to him as she held out her favorite music box.  He kept it hidden in a box beneath his bed, along with the other things she’d given him.  He lies on the floor and drags it out.  It only contained three objects: the music box, a silver bracelet, and a pocketknife.  She actually never wanted him to have the knife, but he’d found it in the attic in a cardboard box marked ‘Amirmoez’, his mother’s maiden name.  It was filled with his grandparents’ possessions and his mother had held onto them since she was a teenager.  She’d lost her parents in a car accident at the age of 17 and was put into her older sister’s care, who she lost 2 years later when some guy stabbed her in a parking lot.  The bracelet had a simple charm that said ‘Sisters’ on one side and ‘Never forget’ on the other.  His mother had worn it every day and asked Stiles to keep it in a safe place before she died.  She’d always said that he reminded her of his aunt and Stiles always wished that he’d had a chance to meet them.  Or at least keep his mother for a while longer.

 

Stiles carefully takes out the music box, as he’s done at least twice a day every day since his mother passed and winds it up.  He lies on the floor, watching the crystal swans on top slowly spin to the music, which is some Beethoven piano piece he can never remember the name of.  He wasn’t sure if the medicine was kicking in or if it was the music, but his body eventually relaxed as he spread out on the carpet.  Light reflected off the mirrors that covered the base of the music box, throwing shadows along the floor as it turns.  The familiar detachment settles over him as he lets the music drown everything out.  The quiet notes mix with whispers from his mother and he gently traces a finger over the elegant birds.

 

As Stiles rewinds it for the third time, the sound of muffled voices travels up from downstairs.  He quickly flips the switch, shutting the music off and replacing it in the box, which he then slides back underneath his bed.  He lies there for another few minutes, the detached feeling lingering longer than usual.  Probably because I’ve been off my meds for too long.  He ignored it and roams down the hall towards the stairs.  When he reaches the staircase, he finds his dad standing at the bottom and Derek sitting up on the couch.

 

“Hey, kiddo,” his dad says, looking him over.  “Everything alright?” he asks.  Shit, he probably heard the music.

 

“Yeah, everything’s fine.  We should order pizza,” Stiles says, sidestepping his father.

 

“Stiles, wait,” he says gently.

 

“No, no, you’ve been really good with your diet.  I say it’s time to indulge a little.  So, what will it be?  Cheese, pepperoni, sausage and onions, something with peppers, or Hawaiian?” he asks, picking up the phone.  His dad sighs and Stiles can’t look at the saddened expression on his face, so he turns to Derek.  “You eat pizza, right?  What am I saying, everyone eats pizza.  What do you like?  I’m guessing something with a lot of meat?”  Stiles asks.

 

“Pepperoni is fine,” Derek answers, but he’s distracted by something.  He keeps looking at Stiles funny and seriously everyone needs to chill the fuck out.

 

“Alright, awesome.  Two large pepperoni pizzas it is,” he says, dialing the local Pizza Hut.  Once the order is placed and phone put back, Stiles realizes how quiet the room still is.  He looks over to find both men staring at him.  “What?” he asks.  His dad looks away and sighs again.

 

“Nothing,” he answers and then turns to Derek.  “You feeling better?” he asks.

 

“Yeah, Deaton fixed everything,” he says.

 

“Good, that’s good,” he says, nodding.  “Well, I’m gonna get cleaned up,” he says.  “And Stiles, get the man a shirt,” his dad calls back.

 

“Oh, right, sorry about that,” Stiles mutters.  He strolls to the back where he knows a clean basket of his clothes is sitting in the laundry room.  His dad insisted on doing this week’s load and the minute Stiles enters the room, he really wishes he had told him no.  The overpowering smell of lavender has him freezing in the middle of the room.  There is a reason I put that bottle on the very top shelf all the way in the back.  Dad knows what detergent that was, so why would he use it?  He’s never wanted that smell in the house since she left.  So why?  Stiles finds the plastic purple bottle on the washing machine and quickly returns it to its original place behind all the others.  Every time his dad uses it, Stiles has to nurse him through a week long hangover.  Stiles had dumped all the alcohol once, which only made his dad buy more until the lavender scent was once again covered by the usual detergent Stiles uses.  The last time this happened, Stiles through a fit because he was tired of the monthly routine and his dad was never allowed to do the laundry again.  Or the dishes, or buy any kind of air freshener.  It’d been two years since then and Stiles figured his father was over his destructive behavior, but maybe he was wrong.  Stiles slams the cupboard closed, angry at the possible outcome of flowered scented detergent.  He didn’t particularly want it in the house anymore either.  It only made his mother’s voice louder in his head and that helped no one.

 

“Stiles?”

 

He jumps at Derek’s voice, not having realized he’d followed him.  Looking back, Derek is leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed over his very naked chest.

 

“Right, right, shirt,” he mutters.  He digs into the bottom of the basket to find a black shirt that’s always been two sizes too big on him, diligently ignoring the sweet scents roaming off all the clothes.  “This one should fit,” he says, handing it over.  Derek tugs it on and it actually fits him perfectly, if maybe a smidge tighter than what he usually wears.  Stiles stares for too long, making Derek shift uncomfortably.  He can feel heat rising to his cheeks as he looks away.  They’re saved by the ringing of the doorbell, announcing the pizza delivery.

 

“Pizza!” Stiles shouts and runs from the room.  He stumbles slightly when soothing female laughter trails after him.  “The hell was that?” he asks, looking back at a confused Alpha.

 

“What?” Derek asks.  Well, that started early.  Note to self: No meds, plus music box, plus lavender detergent equals faster hallucinations.  Good to know.

 

“Nothing, I should get the pizza,” he answers, shaking his head.  Stiles quickly hands over a twenty to the middle-aged and balding delivery man, who grunts a thank you and takes off.  His dad strolls down the stairs in his uniform, the womanly scent clinging to him.

 

“Laundry needs to be redone,” Stiles says, passing him without looking at him.  Usually Stiles is more worried when this happens, but he’s just angry this time.  He doesn’t want to feel her absence every waking second any more than he already does and he figured his dad was on the same page.  Apparently not.

 

“Why?” his dad demands, bottles rattling as he makes himself a drink.

 

“You know why,” Stiles sighs.

 

“It’s clean, no need to redo it,” his dad responds.  Stiles pretends he didn’t hear it and gets plates out for dinner, handing one to an uncomfortable looking Derek at the table.  He gives the wolf a reassuring smile that everything was fine and slides pizza onto his plate.  Stiles scowls at the whiskey in his dad’s glass as they sit.

 

“Dad, I said indulge, not overdo.  That is most definitely on the list of things you’re not supposed to be having,” he tries.

 

“It’s just a quick one before work.  Don’t worry so much, son,” he says, taking a bite out of his pizza.  Stiles rolls his eyes and focuses on his own plate.  “So, are we gonna talk about earlier?” he asks Derek.

 

“Um, what?” Derek asks, looking startled.  Smooth.

 

“About whatever attacked you.  I’m assuming that wasn’t normal,” his dad clarifies.

 

“I’m not sure what it was.  I’ll have to ask Peter to look into it,” he answers.

 

Oh, sweetheart, you are absolutely covered.  How did you get the batter in your ears?  What is mommy going to do with you?

 

Stiles chokes on his water, his mother’s laughter echoing through the room.  His dad pats his back and he quickly motions that he’s okay.

 

“Well, don’t drown yourself,” his dad chuckles.

 

Hold still, I need to get it out of your hair.  No splashing, young man!

Stiles clunks his glass onto the table and shoves pizza in his mouth.  Derek and his dad resume their conversation, Derek explaining about Deaton, the neighborhood werewolf doctor.

 

You did notjust eat that cookie in one bite!  What a little show off you are.  Look at what mommy can do.

 

She’d eaten two cookies at once, making him keel over in laughter.  The pizza sticks to his throat and he quickly chugs more water.  His knee is bouncing uncontrollably under the table, getting him glances from the Alpha, but the wolf keeps talking with his dad.  Derek just has to bring up the whole magic thing and his dad was predictably arguing about it.

 

I don’t care what that quack says, Stiles does not need to be medicated.  John, we are not going to pump him full of drugs just because he’s a little different.  He’s a little boy of course he’s going to be hyperactive.  And the mood swings are just because he’s stressed.  You know that little rich kid has been bullying him.  Once I talk with his parents, everything will go back to normal.

 

Don’t worry sweetie, Mommy will take care of it.

 

“Stiles!  Are you hearing me?” his dad calls.  Stiles can’t seem to focus, his mother’s voice pulling him away.  He plays with his glass, scowling at the water inside.

 

“No, sorry.  What?” he asks, still not blinking.  He could hear what they were saying, but he couldn’t attach himself to the room.  It was a normal occurrence, his fading in and out, but it hadn’t happened for a few months.

 

“Kid, did you take your meds?” his dad asks.  Stiles finally blinks at that and slowly takes in his dad’s expression.

 

“What?  Yeah, right on schedule,” he mutters.  The room is hot and too small.  “I’ll be right back,” he says, leaving the table.

 

“Stiles-” his dad starts.  The man’s phone rings, interrupting him yet again.  “Stilinski…yeah, I know, I’m on my way,” he says and hangs up.  Stiles reaches the bathroom, but doesn’t bother to lock the door.  What made him think a smaller room would help, he had no idea.  But the room doesn’t smell like flowers, just his normal Dove soap.

 

Do you want Mommy to sing again?

 

Stiles pulls open the top drawer and rummages around the back, pricking his finger when he finds what he’s looking for. 

 

Lullaby and good night, it is time for sleep...

 

He hesitates, the blade clenched in his fingers.   Stiles shuts his eyes tight and presses himself against the wall, trying to escape.  Where, he didn’t know, just somewhere he didn’t have to hear this.

 

Lullaby and good night, it is time for sweet dreams…

Stiles can’t catch his breath as the voice echoes around him and he tries covering his ears, even though he knows it won’t do anything.

 

Lullaby and good night, it is time for night-night…

 

His heart is hammering away inside his chest, making his breathing stutter.  He quickly presses the cool metal to his skin and drags it across his forearm.  It stings as blood wells up and the last line is only a whisper.

 

Lullaby and good night, it is time to sleep tight…

 

He can finally hear again just as the front door closes, the sound of his dad going to work.  The guilt washes over him as the blood runs down his arm.  He watches it, fascinated by the movement and steady stream.  Stiles is pulled from his trance when the bathroom door bangs open, revealing a very broody Alpha.  Derek quickly walks into the room and carefully takes the blade away from him.  He’s too close.  I don’t want him to see this.  Why is he here?

 

Derek’s hands are suddenly on him, cradling his face and making him look up at him.

 

“Talk to me,” he says.  Stiles can’t speak around the lump in his throat and the feeling as him wheezing.  He didn’t even notice when Derek had pulled out bandages, but his wrist was already being cleaned and wrapped.  Derek’s fingers trace over older scars, his frown deepening.  He reaches back up and wraps his arms around Stiles’ middle.  “Please talk to me, Stiles,” he whispers.  Stiles clings to him, burying his face against his shoulder.  He tries to breathe, but that smell is back, making tears form.  He quickly pulls away, tugging at the hem of Derek’s shirt.

 

“Take it off,” he says.

 

“What?”

 

“It smells like her.  Take it off,” he begs, the tears spilling over.  Derek hastily pulls it up over his head and throws it in the nearby laundry hamper.  The man pulls him close again, stroking his hair and shushing him.  Stiles is sure he’ll be embarrassed about this later, but right now he grips Derek like a lifeline.  Once he can breathe again, he rests his head on Derek’s shoulder, who is by now holding most of Stiles’ weight.

 

“You should lie down, come on,” Derek says.  He pulls away and gently wipes Stiles’ face before leading him from the room.  Derek leaves the light off when they enter the room and nudges Stiles onto the bed.  He feels his shoes being tugged off and Derek seems to argue with himself about stripping Stiles’ clothes off, hands hovering over him.  He eventually just leaves it and pulls the blankets around Stiles.  Derek looms in the dark for a few minutes and Stiles only has the energy to watch him try to form words.

 

“Should I…do you want me to…go?” he asks.  Stiles shakes his head and the wolf takes up his space on the floor once again.  His brain can’t decide if that’s a good thing or not, still reeling from the panic attack that had been inevitable after today’s events.  He rolls over, shoving his arms under the pillow and sprawling out on his stomach.  The spasms hadn’t quite stopped and he was freezing now that the adrenaline had worn off.  He lies there, counting his breathing like he was taught, but his focus was complete shit.  Stiles tenses when the covers shift, bed dips, and heat climbs in with him.  A warm hand slides along his back, rubbing soothing circles against him.  He turns his head to peer at the Alpha, who’s mere inches away and looks way too big for Stiles’ bed.  Derek’s hand stills when their eyes lock.

 

“Is this okay?” he asks.  Stiles is still shocked by how nice he actually is.  There was hardly any pushing or shoving Stiles angrily into hard surfaces and he’ll admit that he kind of misses that.  Wow, that sounds completely fucked up.  But right now, in this moment, he’s really happy that he’s found this side of Derek.  “Stiles?”  Oh right, I never answered him.  The wolf removes his hand and Stiles can’t help the tiny sound he makes at the loss.  He quickly shuffles closer, burying his face into Derek’s neck.  The Alpha freezes for a moment, but eventually wraps his big arms around him.

 

Stiles trembles as the last of the chills are swept away and his body slowly begins to relax.  Derek is gently tracing the bandage on his wrist, eventually running his fingers over the older scars again.

 

“Why?” he asks.

 

“I…it just…” Stiles sighs, trying to find the words.  “It stops the…I don’t know…it’s not a big deal,” he mumbles, pulling his arm into his own chest and away from Derek’s fingers.

 

“Alright,” Derek answers, though Stiles can tell he wants to push the issue.  He glances up, finding the wolf scowling at the ceiling, hands idly stroking Stiles’ arm.

 

“I’m sorry.  It’s just complicated,” he whispers.  Derek is quick to look over at him, a hand coming up to his face, thumb grazing his cheek.  It was possibly the most affectionate thing Stiles had ever seen him do and he didn’t know how to react, so he just watched him.

 

“You’re always apologizing for things.  You don’t need to.  Not for this,” he whispers.  The words had his stomach fluttering nervously and before he could think better of it, he closed the remaining space between them.  He found out earlier that Derek’s lips were surprisingly soft and pliant against his.  He’s just getting lost in exploring Derek’s tongue, when the man pulls away with a sigh.

 

“Stiles, we can’t do this,” he mutters.  Stiles shifts away slightly, smothering a moan when Derek’s hard on brushes his thigh.  Derek flinches when they make contact, his eyes briefly flashing.  Stiles lies down in his own small space, his twin bed not really meant for two people and tries to ignore where their bodies still meet.  They both lie there and breathe for a minute, Stiles still shocked that he has any kind of effect on the Alpha.  Derek runs a hand down his face and curses before rolling over to embrace Stiles again.  He lands a gentle kiss on the younger’s mouth and then burrows down to rest his head on Stiles’ chest.  “Sleep,” he orders.  Right, sleep, okay.  I’ll just ignore the ridiculously attractive Alpha werewolf that’s lying on top of me.  Sure, no problem.  Stiles was about to announce the uncomfortable and possibly sexy sleeping arrangement (and therefore completely embarrass himself), but his words are cut off by a quiet noise from the wolf.  Oh my god, is he…he’s snoring, isn’t he?  He’s already fast asleep.  Stiles peers down at him and can’t help but smile.  He gently runs his fingers through Derek’s dark hair, the spikes tickling his skin.

 

He looked so content and so much younger, with a hand fisted in Stiles’ shirt.  The sight had his own eyes drifting closed and his heart slowing as sleep overtook him.


 

I t was dark, the only light around him, filtering down through the trees from the moon.  It wasn’t full nor half, but one of those misshaped forms within the cycle.  Stiles looked around, recognizing the small clearing at the edge of the preserve.  He’d never been pulled here against his will before, let alone while he wasn’t conscious.  The wind whistled through the branches, but he couldn’t feel it as it passed through his transparent form.

 

“You’re very young for a witch,” a voice says.  Stiles spins around, almost bumping into a dark haired man in a leather jacket.  Which must mean…yep, there it is…red eyes of death.  Oh good, so he’s one of the Alphas.  But the voice had belonged to a woman, not this guy.

 

A tall dark skinned woman slinks out of the shadows, gaze drifting over him as she approaches.  She was dressed all in black with cargo pants, a tank top, leather jacket, and boots.  The darkness of the clothing contrasted brilliantly with the mocha hue of her skin and her brown curls were pulled away from her face, highlighting her cheekbones.  She was beautiful and looked completely badass at the same time.

 

Stiles was so fucked.

 

“Tell me, how does one so young have so much power?  This barrier was quite impressive,” she says.  Stiles looks down to find the mountain ash line right at his feet, separating him from the enemy.  He pushes at it with his mind, but the connection has severely weakened.  “Like I said.  It was impressive,” the woman says, a grin spreading across her face.  “Much too complicated for little wolves to cross,” she adds, patting the Alpha’s head.  He scowls at her, but otherwise doesn’t respond.  The woman approaches the line, stopping to stare down into Stiles’ eyes.  “I could teach you many things.  Far more than that Veterinarian ever could.  I know tricks he’s never even heard of, honey.  If you let me in, I’d be more than willing to be your teacher,” she says, her eyes travelling over his body.  Yeah, that wasn’t creepy at all.

 

“Sorry, I try not to associate with psychopaths,” he quips.  Her grin turns practically giddy as she takes in his response.

 

“Oh, sweetie, you may not realize it, but you’re surrounded by psychopaths.  Take the wolf that’s been hanging all over you.  I can see his aura pulsing right along with yours, all red and angry and broken.  You honestly think that he won’t snap on you one day?  Or your little redhead, the one that’s all white spirals dancing around you.  She’s a little time bomb just waiting to go off.  Baby, if you choose, I could be the sanest thing in your world.  Protect you from all those nasty predators, both outside and inside that whirlwind of a mind you have.  What do you say?” she asks.

 

“I say the only predator I see around here is you, lady,” he says.  She was seriously giving off bad vibes and her words were freaking him out.  Derek wouldn’t hurt him and what the hell was that about Lydia?  What was wrong with her?

 

“Is your final answer no?  You may want to think about it.”

 

“How about ‘fuck no’.  That sounds like a good answer to me,” he responds.  Her smile falters slightly and she leans closer, face right in his.

 

“Then you’re right.  I’m the biggest predator in your pathetic little life now,” she whispers.  Her irises glow a bright neon orange right before the fingers of her right hand spontaneously catch fire.  “This is gonna hurt like a bitch, baby,” she laughs and then sets flame to the ash line.  Her words were an understatement.  When the ash caught fire, there was a loud snapping inside his head and he was thrown into the fiery pit that his body had become.


Stiles couldn’t hear anything over the rushing in his ears.  He would’ve thought the sound was ocean waves if it weren’t for the searing heat that was coursing through his body, convincing him the noise was lava flowing through the room.  His throat was sore from how hard he was trying to breathe through the pain.  Everything was hot and his muscles were cramping and everything was too much, too much.  Oh my god, make it stop, someone help me, someone stop it.

 

“Stiles!”

 

He pried his eyes open, but his vision was blurry.  The sight made him dizzy and his stomach churned.  The rushing noise was slowly subsiding and he could hear his panicked breathing.  He coughed violently and his eyes watered with the strain.  Hands gripped his arms and he cringed, expecting it to hurt, but the contact seemed to pull him to reality somewhat.  The heat decreased bit by bit, but he still couldn’t get enough air to his lungs, making the panic worse.  He blinked his eyes open again, finding green ones staring back at him.  The heat was making his shirt stick to him, but he was finally able to drag in enough air to speak, barely.

 

“It’s – it broke…I can’t…can’t…she…fire…” he stutters.  Struggling to speak only took his breath away and his temperature skyrocketed once again.  “Hurts,” he wheezed.  Derek was saying something, but he couldn’t make it out.  Something started pulling the heat out of his veins, the magic shifting inside him as the woman’s power evaporated.  The magical trip had him wheezing again, but the fire was leaving so he really couldn’t care about not being able to breathe.  “Derek,” he cries.

 

“I’m here, Stiles.  Deep breaths, okay?  You’re safe, I promise.  Whatever this is, I’m gonna fix it,” he says.  Stiles reaches out, grasping onto Derek’s sides and digging in.  He could feel a hand underneath his shirt, fingers splayed out across his chest.  Breathing eventually became easier as Derek worked his werewolf mojo.  Stiles arms dropped to the bed as his muscles turned to jelly, too tired to keep holding onto the wolf.

 

“Oh my god, that bitch,” Stiles panted.  If he saw her again (which was extremely likely) he was gonna make sure she paid for that.  Even if he had to find those grenades he mentioned.

 

“Who?” Derek asks.  Stiles peeks up at him, taking in the worried expression.

 

“Witch, I think,” he answers.  Realization of what just happened hits him right in the face and he bolts upright, jostling Derek’s hand off his chest.  The motion has his stomach rolling and the dull ache in his head sharpens.  He groans and lies back down with a flop.  “We’re fucked,” he says.

 

“Stiles, what the hell happened?  I thought you were…,” Derek says, trailing off with a shake of his head.  “Just tell me,” he says.

 

“Barriers gone and we’re all fucked.  Think that sums it up nicely,” he answers.  Even though he wanted to seriously kill that woman, there was no way he’d ever be able to beat her.  She had some seriously scary powers going on.

 

“Are they on their way?  Right now?” Derek asks.

 

“No, I don’t think so.  Before I was…uh…pushed out, I saw them heading back the way they came.  They’ll probably round up the others and then attack.  Which we are so not ready for,” he says.  Derek sighs, gets up, and rifles through Stiles’ drawers for a decent shirt.  He picks a dark green one that Stiles usually wore to bed and it actually seemed to fit.  Barely.

 

“Can you move?” he asks, kneeling back onto the bed.  Stiles takes his hand, sitting up more slowly this time.  Before he could even leave the bed, Derek growled, head snapping up, eyes shining.  Stiles scrambled back into the headboard.  He’d never seen the red glow that brightly before.  The snarling stopped abruptly and Derek blinked rapidly, his chest heaving.

 

“Shit,” he whispered.

 

“Derek?”

 

“She’s…fuck…” he mutters.  The scarlet hue fades slowly and Stiles hesitantly reaches out because Derek looked like he was about to fall over or something.

 

“Hey, what’s happening?” he asks.  The wolf leaps off the bed, dragging Stiles with him.

 

“We have to get to the house.  Now,” he says urgently.  Stiles trips after him into the hallway, down the stairs, out the front door and towards the jeep.  Derek snatched his keys from the table before leaving and quickly climbs into the driver’s seat.   I would totally complain about this, but this probably isn’t the time.

 

“Call everyone.  Tell them to get to my house,” Derek orders, putting the jeep in reverse and backing out of the driveway.  Stiles pries his phone out of his jeans and quickly dials Scott.  It goes to voicemail because of course.  Every time bad shit is about to go down, Scott is nowhere to be found.  He leaves a short and slightly rude message telling Scott to get his ass to Derek’s.  Stiles gets the same thing when he dials Isaac and Danny, leaving another message.  The fourth call actually goes through, making Stiles sigh in relief.

 

“Stiles?  It’s midnight, why are you calling?” Allison asks.

 

“Hey, the Alphas are making their move.  I think.  Yes, they totally are.  Get to Derek’s house as fast as you can, okay?”

 

“We’re on our way,” she says and hangs up.  Thank god someone is going to be there.  Stiles hesitates dialing the next number, but she’s pack now and she’ll need protection.  It rings a few times before a very stressed voice answers the phone.

 

“Stiles, thank god.  I just got to your house, but you’re not here.  It felt like you were dying.  Are you hurt?  Do I need to call Deaton?  Do you need an ambulance?  Oh my god, I’m really happy you’re not dead right now,” she rambles.

 

“Woah, Lydia, it’s okay, I’ll be alright.  The Alpha’s witch broke the barrier and it was…unpleasant to say the least.  But you need to get to Derek’s, okay?  You’ll be safer there…I think,” Stiles answers.

 

“Okay, okay, I’m leaving now,” she says.  He can hear the engine of her car over the phone and when he looks in the mirror, her little Volkswagen is flying up behind them.  He thinks back on what she’d said, the words bothering him.

 

“Lydia, how did you know something was wrong?” he asks.

 

“I don’t know, I just kind of sensed it.  I just knew something was wrong and that you were hurt.  I don’t know how to explain it,” she says.  She’s a little time bomb waiting to go off.  The witch’s words repeated in his head.  Maybe Lydia had more power than anyone thought?  Or maybe she was something else entirely?

 

“Alright, I’ll meet you at the house,” he says and hangs up.  Derek’s been tense the whole drive and Stiles can’t seem to find words to break the silence.  They swerve onto the path at the same time as the Argents SUV comes barreling through, nearly hitting each other in the process.  Derek doesn’t even hit the brakes, just floors it and skids around them.  Stiles grips the ‘oh, shit’ handle and wants to be relieved when the Argents do hit the brakes, letting the jeep and Lydia fly down the path, but the Alpha’s driving makes it hard to be relieved about anything.  Stiles really wants to complain about the rough treatment of his poor jeep, but he also doesn’t want to get his head ripped off.  Derek’s anger is like a palpable thing in the car with them and Stiles just prays that they make it to the house in once piece.

 

The three vehicles come to a halt in front of the Hale house just as Peter is emerging from it.  Stiles scrambles out after Derek, who’s glowering at the woods like the trees personally offended him.  Lydia slides up next to him and grips his hand and he can see the fear in her eyes.  The Argents don’t even hesitate to join their little group, drawing weapons and scanning the property.  It’s quiet for a few moments, until the two wolves snap to attention, their glowing eyes focused straight ahead.  Stiles can hear a rustling as someone moves slowly through the leaves.  He fights the temptation to run for his life and hide inside the dark house by lacing his fingers with his fellow witch’s.

 

A dark shape appears at the tree line and the Argents instantly raise their weapons, fingers poised on the triggers.  Derek raises a hand, wanting them to stand down as he takes a step forward.  They don’t comply right away, but they lower them slightly when Derek takes another step forward and lets out a strangled ‘No’.  Stiles squints, trying to see what he’s seeing, but it’s still just a dark shape to him.  It’s the voice that calls out to them, that really gets him.

 

Derek,” the boy cries loudly.  Lydia gasps and covers her mouth when the shape finally reaches the light.  Their friend stumbles into view, blood dripping everywhere, face streaked with tears as he sobs.  The boy falls to his knees under the weight in his arms just as Derek howls, making Stiles cover his ears with the volume.  The Alpha runs to his fallen betas, his howl ending in the most distraught whine Stiles had ever heard.  Stiles, Lydia, and Peter shuffle closer, wanting to help their pack mates but not knowing how.  When Stiles is within hearing distance, he wishes he had stayed by the house.

 

“I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.  We shouldn’t have left.  Derek…they…she’s…” Boyd stutters, voice cracking through his tears.  Derek shifts the blonde into his arms and pulls Boyd against him, reassuring him that he’s not angry and he too is repeatedly apologizing.  Stiles takes in the scene before him.  Erica’s body was completely shredded, skin pale, hair drenched in blood.  This shouldn’t be happening.

 

Scott pulls up with Isaac and Danny a moment later and the two wolves rush to Stiles’ side.  His friend comes to a halt next to him.

 

“Oh my god,” he mutters, eyes scanning over the gore in front of him.  Isaac pales as he takes in Erica’s battered body and drops to his knees next to Boyd, who immediately clings to him.  Isaac holds onto him with one hand and takes Erica’s lifeless hand in the other, his gaze never leaving her face.  Boyd seems to have gone numb, face expressionless.

 

“I know what they want,” he murmurs.  Derek looks down at him, arm still around his broad shoulders.  “They want control of the town.  Something about the land being sacred.  They said they wouldn’t interfere if we left willingly,” he says.  Peter scoffs and Stiles has to agree.  The dead pack mate doesn’t exactly prove that last statement to be true.  “They’re coming for your decision tonight,” Boyd adds.  Derek glances at the woods and Peter is already moving, the silent command being obeyed.  He stands guard as Derek maneuvers his betas.  He gathers Erica into his arms, holding her against his chest.  His jaw clenches and he glares back at the woods.

 

“We’re not going anywhere.”

Chapter Text

Part 3

Derek

 

The moment he felt that connection sever, he knew she was dead.  His third beta was gone and there was nothing he could do about it.  Derek peers down at the lifeless she-wolf in his arms and crushes her to his chest, wishing he could transfer some of his warmth.  But there was no bounce in her curls, no snarky comments pouring out of her mouth.  There was only the blood dripping down his arms as he held her.  They will pay for this.  I don’t care if I have to search this entire forest.  Their lives are mine.

 

“We’re not going anywhere,” he decides.  They weren’t going to hand Beacon Hills over to them.  The Alphas would just tear it apart, killing everyone in it, including his pack.  He didn’t believe for a second that they were just going to let them go.  He glances down at his betas, his wolf whining at their distress.  “Everyone inside,” he orders.  Isaac helps his fellow wolf to his feet and brings him inside the house.  Scott and Allison follow, though Chris looks like he wants to protest.  Derek really doesn’t give a shit.

 

“I’ll scan the perimeter,” Peter says.

 

“Want some help?” Chris asks.  His uncle pauses, scowling at the hunter, but he eventually shrugs.  They trudge into the woods and Derek gives Peter a warning.  No touching the hunter.  Peter grudgingly sends a reassurance back, though Derek will be surprised if the hunter comes back unharmed.  He tightens his grip on his lost beta and stiffly walks around the side of the house to enter in through the back.  He lays her on a cot in one of the rooms, gently rearranging her limbs.  Derek simply stares for a while, running a hand through his hair.  If I hadn’t bitten her, she’d still be alive.  She’d be a normal 15 year old girl.  She would’ve grown old, married some guy, had kids, and died of old age warm in her bed.  Her parents would still have their little girl.

 

He flinches slightly when arms wrap around his middle from behind, but he’s glad to have the contact.  Stiles presses his face into Derek’s shoulder and threads his fingers with the wolf’s.  Derek tears his eyes away from his beta and turns around to bury his face in Stiles’ neck.  The boy tightens an arm around him, the other reaching up to brush through his hair.  Derek never used to like physical contact and still often cringes away from it, but Stiles was so different.  No matter what was happening he wanted…no he needed Stiles there.  He grounded him in ways that nothing ever had and he was slowly admitting that he wanted more from him.  There had always been an attraction there, but Stiles was still so young and Derek didn’t want to act on it until Stiles was older.  Derek breathes him in, nose crinkling at the orange scent, but underneath that was pure Stiles; which was surprisingly calming and loyal and affectionate.  Everything Derek had been missing in the last six years.

 

“Derek, we should probably get back in there,” Stiles says.  The thought of Stiles being around the other Alphas has him running a hand along his neck and down his arm, leaving his scent wherever he can.  Stiles had been unknowingly scenting him for the past few minutes, with the petting and gentle kisses on his shoulder.  He draws strength from his presence and pulls away to rest his forehead against the others.  “Ready?” he asks.  Derek takes a breath and nods.  They disentangle before entering the room, not wanting whatever this is to be out in the open yet.  Derek can tell by Isaac’s head tilt that trying to hide it is probably pointless.  Scott eyes them warily from the corner, but doesn’t say anything.

 

“They have Jackson,” Boyd mutters into the silence.  Derek feels the twinge from Lydia at the news, but she remains perfectly composed on her stool.  “Last I saw he was still alive,” he adds.  Peter and Chris return a moment later, Chris hovering by the doorway, weapon ready, eyes scanning the woods.

 

“They’re coming,” Peter says.  “All 5 of them, plus two witches.”

 

Derek immediately strides onto the porch and down the steps, the others trailing after him.  Peter and Stiles are at his side again, with Lydia at Peter’s right and Scott at Stiles’ left.  Isaac stays by the house, guarding a drained Boyd and an unarmed Danny inside.  The Argents stand off to the side, weapons ready to shoot if necessary.  It’s not long before Derek senses the immense power surge that crackles through the air when the enemy arrives.  An older gentleman stands in front, leading the other Alphas into his territory.  This was the first real look he’d gotten of them and he’ll admit that they were intimidating.  The leader strolled with a confidence of someone who’s been an Alpha for a very long time and the woman at his side was clearly his mate.  There was no doubt she would be a fearsome opponent and Derek could smell his beta’s blood all around her.  He held perfectly still, not wanting to start a war when his pack was clearly outmatched.

 

There were two younger Alphas on the leaders other side, twin brothers it seemed.  The man behind them was larger than Derek, muscles rippling under his t-shirt.  The last two to arrive were obviously the witches and to be honest they scared him more than the wolves.  There was a sinister aura around them both that spoke of raw power.  The woman looked him over and he got a distinct flash of Kate Argent in her expression and posturing.  The younger man beside her was built like a tank but moved with an eerie grace.  Derek was guessing he’d served time in the military, with his perfect posturing and that hard look in his eyes.  His grandfather had that same look.

 

“Greetings, Hale pack.  My name is Deucalion.  I trust you…got my message?” the leader asks.

 

“Loud and clear,” Derek answers.

 

“Splendid.  What’s your decision, then?”

 

“The answer is no.”

 

The man blinks at him, seemingly surprised by the answer.

 

“Perhaps you didn’t get the entire message.  You see, we want to take this puny town off your hands and rule it the way it’s meant to be ruled.  I’m giving you the option to leave willingly,” he says.  His tone conveyed the idea that he thought he was doing them a favor.

 

“Oh, I got the message.  The answer is still no.  We’re not leaving.  This is my territory and I’d appreciate it if you got the hell out,” Derek says.  He probably shouldn’t antagonize them, but there was no way he was just going to roll over and give them what they wanted.

 

“Even if I return your missing beta?  I’ve already promised to let you leave,” he says.  Derek let his eyes flash at the blatant lie he picked up.  Deucalion responded in much the same way, though a playful grin spread across his face.  “Now, now, there’s no need for that.  Surely we can come to some kind of agreement.”

 

“Doubtful,” Derek says.

 

“And why not?”

 

“You killed my beta.  You really thought I’d just let that go?” Derek asks, taking a threatening step forward.  He felt his pack tense, readying to defend him if need be.

 

“Well, I assumed they were fair game.  After all they were roaming around the woods unprotected like a couple of lost puppies.  I’m surprised to hear you claim them to be honest,” he says, still grinning in amusement.

 

“They are mine,” Derek growls.

 

“Technically, that pretty little blonde belonged to me before I ripped her throat out,” the woman says.  Derek snarls at her and she steps forward, a gleeful expression on her face.  Her mate places a hand on her shoulder, pulling her away.

 

“Down, Kalli, there will be time for that later,” he says.  She giggles and returns to his side.  “Alpha Hale, am I hearing this correctly?  Are you challenging us for the land?” Deucalion asks.

 

“If it comes to that, then yes,” Derek answers.  He really didn’t want to go to war with them, but if it came to that, then so be it.

 

“Perhaps you’ll change your mind over night.  I’ll let you sleep on it,” Deucalion says, smirking.  He then turns, wraps an arm around his mate and strolls off into the woods.  The three other wolves follow suit with the witches trailing behind.  The female witch throws a wink to Stiles behind him and it takes all of his willpower not to rip her throat out.  Once they’re out of earshot, he finally turns back to the group.

 

“I’m assuming he was lying about letting everyone go,” Chris mutters.

 

“Obviously,” Peter says.  The hunter sighs and lowers his weapon.

 

“War it is then,” he says, nodding to Derek.  It still feels strange to have their cooperation, but he definitely welcomes the help.

 

“I suggest everyone returns to their own homes.  You’ll be safer there than here,” Derek says.

 

“What?  How does that make sense?  Wouldn’t it be safer to stick together?” Stiles questions.  Lydia nods in agreement at his side.

 

“He’s right.  If you split up, it’ll be easier for them to pick you off,” Chris says.  Derek considers it, not really liking the idea of so many people he didn’t trust being in his space.  He looks up at Isaac, who nods, then to Peter who only shrugs, seemingly bored of the conversation.

 

“Fine, you’ll all stay the night,” he says.

 

“Let us know if anything happens,” Chris says, starting for his SUV.

 

“I meant all of you,” Derek calls.  This is such a bad idea, possibly the worst I’ve ever had, but if they’re really on our side, tonight will be a good way to test it.  Chris turns around, brows raised.

 

“Stay the night in a house full of werewolves?  I don’t think so.”

 

“They saw you with us.  You’re in just as much danger,” Derek says, crossing his arms.  If they didn’t want to stay, he wasn’t going to make them, but it would be easier to have everyone under one roof.

 

“Don’t worry about it.  We can protect ourselves,” Chris answers.  He starts to leave again, but stops when Allison doesn’t follow.  Scott goes to her and takes her hand.

 

“You can stay if you want,” he says.  The girl bites her lip, thinking it over.  If they do decide to stay, he’ll make sure Peter watches them.  If they try anything, he’d be the only one to not hesitate to kill them.  Allison glances at him and he tries to look less threatening.  He most likely fails at it, given the way her face closes off.  The huntress turns her eyes on Stiles, Lydia, and then Scott.

 

“You’re all staying?” she asks.  Scott peers over his shoulder at Stiles, who nods.  The wolf sighs.

 

“Apparently,” he says.  Allison takes a breath, fingers fidgeting around her crossbow.

 

“Alright, I’ll stay, I guess,” she says eventually.  Chris sighs, slams the car to his SUV closed, and stomps back to them.

 

“Fine, we’ll stay.  Tonight only,” he says, arms crossed.  Derek nods and motions for everyone to head inside.  The house smells like death more than usual because of Erica, making the wolves tense in the silent room.  Derek sighs and looks to Peter, who rolls his eyes.

 

“You can’t be serious,” he murmurs.

 

“Just do it,” he orders.

 

“And where do you suggest I dump her?” he asks flippantly.  Derek scowls as his other betas flinch at the words.  He’s such a dick, seriously.

 

“The edge of the preserve, by the road,” he says.  Peter grumbles, but goes to retrieve Erica’s body.  “And stay out of the forest!” Derek shouts as an afterthought.

 

“Careful, nephew, that almost sounded like concern,” Peter calls back, laughing.  Derek huffs at him and slumps onto a wobbly chair in the corner.  Stiles sits at his feet, leaning against his leg and he doesn’t even hesitate to place a hand on his back.  He ignores the curious looks he gets.

 

“You should probably call your dad, Stiles.  He might not be safe at home alone,” he says, nudging the boy with his foot.  Stiles is quick to shoot a text to the Sheriff.  “Your mom too, Scott,” he adds.  Scott nods and sends a text too. 

 

“I’ll, uh, tell him about the…you know…,” Stiles mutters, gesturing at nothing.  They all know what he meant though.  It doesn’t take long for the two parents to arrive, having apparently already been at the McCall’s home together.  They looked exhausted from their endless shifts and glanced around the room uncomfortably.

 

“I’ve got my deputies working on the girl.  Normally, there’d be a hell of a lot of questions about it, but there’s a new Medical Examiner.  She says she knows you guys,” the Sheriff says and glances at his phone.  “A Miss Miranda Morrell?” he asks.  Lydia scoffs.

                                                     

“So, she’s an M.E. now?  How does that make sense?”

 

“She says she got her degree on a trip abroad to Paris,” the man answers, shrugging.  Lydia squeaks in indignation.

 

“She’s not even French,” she grumbles.  The redhead falls silent after that, silently fuming in the corner.  Derek understands perfectly well.  It’s better to distract herself with being angry at something insignificant than analyzing the events of the day.

 

“So, how does this work?  Sleeping arrangement wise,” Chris asks, looking around the room.  Derek wants to suggest a pack pile, but doesn’t think that will go over well.  He doesn’t want hunters in his pile anyway.

 

“Someone can take the sofa in here.  There are two small cots in the back and two bedrooms upstairs.  There’s a working bathroom up there as well, if you need it.  I can get extra blankets for the floor if there isn’t enough room,” he suggests.

 

“We’ll be in the back then.  Allison, I expect you to join me soon,” he says, eyeing her hand that’s in Scott’s.  She nods and he reluctantly leaves the room.  Boyd flops over on the sofa, head landing in Isaac’s lap.  The young wolf quickly reassures his pack mate that he’s not leaving and Danny hesitantly joins them.

 

“You, uh, said there were beds upstairs?” the Sheriff asks.  Derek nods.  “Mind if I take one?”

 

“Not at all.  Help yourself,” he answers.  The Sheriff nods and ruffles Stiles’ hair on the way to the stairs.

 

“You staying down here, kid?”

 

“Um, I don’t know yet,” he says.  His dad glances at Derek, but doesn’t comment, instead retreating up the stairs.  Melissa looks uncomfortable now that he’s gone.

 

“Melissa, you’re welcome to a bedroom too,” he says.  She gives him a shy smile and quickly follows her fellow parent up the stairs.  He chooses to ignore the fact that she followed him all the way into the same bedroom.  He smothers a smile when Scott tilts his head, eyes widening as he figures it out.

 

“Oh, weird,” he mumbles, too low for human ears.  Derek rummages through a closet to bring the extra blankets from the night before back out.  Once arranged on the floor, he falls onto the heap, wanting to stay close to his returned beta, but keeping enough distance as to not smother him.

 

That thought was quickly halted when Boyd crawled off the couch and curled up against his right side.  Derek doesn’t hesitate to let him in, knowing that he’ll heal faster with his pack around him.  Isaac soon joins them, snuggling into Boyd.  Danny looks confused, but hesitantly joins his boyfriend on the floor.  This whole pack thing is extremely new to him, yet he seems to be adjusting.  Maybe if I convince Isaac to come back, he’ll follow.  Allison frowns as she watches, confusion and curiosity on her face.  She quickly kisses Scott good night and leaves the room.  He opens his ears to the rest of the house, tracking her movements.

 

“What’s happening out there?” Chris asks.

 

“Um, wolf pile or something…I think,” she mutters.  Springs creak as she flops onto one of the cots.

 

“Scott joining them?”

 

“I don’t know…maybe,” she answers quietly.  There’s distress, curiosity, and sadness rolling off her from the other room, but Derek can’t bring himself to care.  He refocuses on the room he’s in, catching Scott and Stiles making faces at each other.  Stiles keeps glancing between Scott and Derek, clearly wondering if joining would cause a fight.  He hears Isaac let out an annoyed huff.

 

“Scott, just get down here,” he grumbles.  The young wolf makes a face, but slowly makes a space for himself next to Danny.

 

“Hey, Danny,” he says, nodding at his friend.

 

“Scott,” Danny replies with an equally awkward head nod.  Derek rolls his eyes at them.  Stiles is still hesitating by the couch next to Lydia, who nudges her friend forward with a knowing smile.  Derek frowns at her, but opens his arm out, beckoning the boy to come to him.  He crawls over, flinging his shoes off on the way and lies down next to Derek, but avoids touching him.  The wolf sighs and pulls the boy, flailing limbs and all, against his side.  If Scott has a problem with it, then he can just get out.  The young wolf only raises a brow at them, but eventually lies back down with an irritated huff.

 

Lydia flounces over, curls bouncing as she cuddles up against Stiles’ back.  She flings an arm over the boy and doesn’t even hesitate to find Derek’s hand and lace her fingers with his.  The action has him tensing and he wants to disentangle from her, but Stiles pats his stomach and frowns at him.

 

“Be nice, Sourwolf,” he mutters.  Derek snorts, surprising the pack mates on his right.  He glares at them and they quickly look away.  This pile feels a bit too personal.  I don’t know if I want it, but my betas seem content.  And Boyd is still healing, so whatever, I’ll leave it.  Peter clomps into the room and eyes the pile uncomfortably.  Derek knows what he’s thinking about and once again wishes things, their lives, were different.  That large pack piles weren’t a foreign concept, but a highly anticipated event as they once were.  Lydia glances behind her to where Peter is still hovering.  Her eyes go soft and she raises the blanket for him to join.  His uncle accepts the offer and the girl doesn’t seem to be bothered when he invades her personal space.  Derek frowns at her, but she only shrugs and squeezes his hand.  Stiles glares over his shoulder, but Lydia kicks him in the leg.

 

“Ow, jeez, was that necessary?”

 

“Yes,” she answers.  Stiles sighs, but lets the Peter thing go.  An hour goes by and most everyone is asleep except for Derek and Stiles.  He doesn’t feel comfortable having the Argents in the house and Stiles keeps eyeing Peter, though the man is fast asleep, face tucked into Lydia’s hair.  Derek stills when he hears footsteps, the smell of gunpowder following them.  Allison comes into view a moment later and Derek is tempted to sit up, but the girl only crosses the room to the stairs, going up and into the bathroom.  Stiles rubs his stomach, soothing him back into place.  He doesn’t tense as much when she returns a few minutes later, at least not until she stops to curiously examine the pack pile.  Her eyes travel to her friend and she frowns when she finds Peter draped over her.  Derek tracks her every movement, ready to step between her and Peter if necessary.  She catches him watching her and Derek can hear her heart stutter nervously.  The girl shuffles away to leave, but not before Scott startles awake, her scent probably wafting over him.  She lingers in the doorway and Derek is surprised at the amount of sadness coming off of her.  He often forgets how young she is.  But she’s still a hunter and they’re all the same.

 

Scott quickly gets to his feet and crosses over to her.  Derek could block out the conversation, but screw it, it’s his house.

 

“Hey, are you okay?” Scott asks.

 

“Oh, yeah, I was just using the bathroom,” she answers.  The two are silent, probably just staring at each other or something.

 

“Alli…do you want to…sleep here?” Scott asks.  Derek can hear the girl’s heart jump at the suggestion.  Shit, she does want to.  What the fuck?  She’s a hunter.  She’s supposed to hate everything about werewolves and werewolf behavior.  But then again…she’s still dating Scott.  Goddamn it, this is so fucked up.  There should never be hunters in a wolf pile.

 

“Um, I mean…I don’t want to start anything.  I don’t think the others would like it,” she whispers.  The Alpha sure as hell won’t like it, Derek thinks.

 

“They’re all asleep…well, most of them.  I promise nothing will happen, come on,” he says.  He’s so eager to have her experience his wolf side of life.  He’s an idiot.

 

“Um…okay,” she answers.  Derek sighs and can’t help when the red creeps into his vision.

 

“Hey, what’s wrong?” Stiles whispers, stroking his stomach again.  Scott and Allison come into his view then and he gapes when Scott pulls her onto the floor with him.  “Oh,” he mumbles.  Allison hesitates when she sees that Stiles is awake, but Scott pulls a little too hard, toppling her on top of him.  She gives in to the wolf and seemingly tries to hide her face against him.  Derek would probably feel bad if she wasn’t packing an arsenal.  Scott sighs, feeling their eyes and quickly rolls the two of them over, shielding Allison from them.  Derek glares at the ceiling as Stiles rests his head back down on his chest.  If Stiles weren’t sprawled half on top of him, there’s a good chance he would’ve dragged Allison out of the room and back to her father.  Yeah, that’d go well.

 

“You’re not gonna freak out are you?” he whispers.  Derek lets out the breath he’d been holding and untangles his fingers from Lydia’s to find Stiles’ waist.  He pushes the hem of his shirt up to find the chilly skin beneath and presses his palm there, fingers curling around his hip.

 

“Dude,” Stiles breathes, shuddering at his touch.

 

“Shush.  Go to sleep,” he says, kissing the top of his head.

 

“Yeah, like I’m gonna sleep now,” the boy mutters around a yawn.  He slips a hand beneath Derek’s shirt and rests it against his stomach.  Derek breathes, forcing his body not to react.  Though he’d spiked the boy’s arousal, Stiles fell asleep within minutes, burying his face against Derek’s neck.  The Alpha is content for the next half hour, dangerously close to drifting off when another set of footsteps enters the room.

 

“Damn it,” the man sighs.  Derek clutches hard at Stiles, who only mumbles something incoherent and then falls back asleep.  Chris strolls towards the far side of the pile, arms folded and glares down at his daughter in the embrace of a wolf.  Derek watches, muscles coiled to spring up if the hunter makes a move.  The man just sighs again and slumps down to sit against the wall closest to his daughter.  “Unbelievable,” he mutters, scrubbing his face with his hands.  He finally notices Derek staring at him and raises his hands, supposedly trying to show he wasn’t a threat.  Derek glares at him for a while, but the hunter only shrugs and clearly has no intention of leaving.  The wolf eventually tears his gaze away and tries to remain calm.  His heart was already pounding harder than necessary and he was surprised no one had woken up from it.  He could feel the hunter watching him and forced his wolf down, not wanting to do anything that would provoke him.  Derek felt cornered in his own house and that was just not acceptable.

 

“Dude, fingers,” Stiles mumbles, prying at the grip Derek had on his hip.  He immediately let go, clenching it into a fist.  Stiles’ hand moves further up, no doubt feeling his heart going wild.  “Derek?” he whispers, lifting his head to look down at him.  Derek knows the minute he sees Chris, because the boy’s body goes rigid and pulls Derek closer.  The hunter glances away sheepishly, guilt rolling off him for scaring the human.  Derek places his hand back on Stiles’ hip.

 

“Everything’s fine, I promise.  Go back to sleep,” he says, pulling the boy back onto his chest.  Stiles lies there, eyeing the hunter for a few minutes before pulling his phone out and sending a text to someone.  Derek wants to ask what it was, but he hears a chime from upstairs.  He hears the Sheriff grumble in annoyance and then curse when he flips his phone open.

 

“Mel, wake up,” he says.

 

“What?  What’s going on?” she asks.

 

“Chris is creeping out my kid.  We’re sleeping downstairs,” he mutters.  Derek hears the two instantly get up and quietly make their way into the room.  The two parents scowl at the other before shuffling towards the couch.  The Sheriff wedges himself into the corner and Melissa quickly joins him, leaning up against him.  She glances at Chris and then to her son and his girlfriend.  A tiny smile crosses her face as she watches them.

 

“He looks happy,” she whispers and then drifts off against the Sheriff.  The man peers over at his own son, who Derek finds to be asleep once again.  Stiles had wisely removed his hand from beneath Derek’s shirt, but left it resting on his chest.  Derek glances at the Sheriff, wondering if he would be more comfortable if Derek shifted Stiles off him.  Considering he’s underage and this probably looks really weird.  Doesn’t help that I’m still touching him, but I can’t seem to move.  The man only sighs and shakes his head, seemingly waving off Derek’s concern.  He resumes glaring at Chris, who scowls right back, not affected by the human police officer.

 

Derek frowns at his blackened ceiling for hours, fighting the sleep that wants to take him.  With Stiles’ warm breath against his neck and the warmth of the entire pack around him, he’s finding it hard to stay awake.  Chris had fallen asleep about an hour ago, head lolling against the wall.  The Sheriff kept drifting in and out, but Derek really didn’t expect him to suddenly start shooting at anyone, so he didn’t worry about him.  He lets his eyes slide closed and eventually slips into unconsciousness.

 

Falling asleep was a bad idea.

 

Stiles

 

“Times up, wolves!”

 

A loud screeching startles him awake just before the newly installed windows blow out.  Everything was a sudden flurry of glass shards, howling, gunshots, and screaming.  Stiles scrambles to his feet in time to see muscled wolves barge through the front door.  The witches were already climbing in through the broken windows, hands flying up to defend the Alphas.

 

Derek roared as a mountain of a wolf tackled him to the ground, where they rolled and struggled for dominance.

 

“Get down!” Chris shouts.  Stiles hits the floor, just as the hunter takes aim and shoots at the Alpha closest to him.  The brown-haired wolf easily dodged the bullets and threw the man across the room in one easy swipe of a claw.  Allison draws two blades, throwing one at a wolf and one at a witch.  Stiles watched as the quick wolf once again dodged weaponry, but instead of attacking Allison, ran for Peter, who took off at a dead run into the forest.  Isaac and Boyd were shielding Danny on the opposite side of the room, but were dragged into the fight by two silver-haired Alphas.

 

Stiles glanced to the side in time to see the male witch pull Allison’s knife out of his stomach without so much as a flinch.  He looked the weapon over and grinned as he slipped it into his belt.

 

“Hunters sleeping in a wolf den.  How fascinating,” he says.  Scott snarls at him, having stepped in front of Allison.  It didn’t seem to do any good because with a flick of his wrist the witch sends Allison flying backwards, crashing through the burnt wall.  Scott howls and pounces at the witch.  The man raises a hand and a yellow powder erupts straight out of his fingers.  When it hits Scott, his eyes immediately return to their regular brown, his fangs disappear, and the hair he’d sprouted pulls back into his skin.  Scott looks down at his declawed hands in confusion while the man smirks and cocks an eyebrow at him.

 

“What’re you gonna do now?” he asks.  Scott’s terrified eyes don’t even meet the witch’s before he too is flying through the air, landing in a heap beside Allison.

 

The witch scowls at the silver Alphas fighting Isaac and Boyd.  “Stay focused!  They are not the target!” he yells.  The two wolves instantly back off and their eyes swivel towards Stiles’ direction. 

 

“Oh, shit,” he breathes.  Lydia grabs his hand and pulls him towards the door, but the larger silver wolf quickly blocks the exit.

 

“Stiles!” the Sheriff yells.  Stiles had seen him in the back earlier, trying to protect Melissa and help Derek at the same time.  He had been shooting at the humongous rust colored wolf that Derek had been struggling with and some bullets had actually made contact, but it only slowed the wolf down, barely bothering him.  His dad takes aim at the closest silver wolf and shoots, but the wiry Alpha does some kind of tricky fake-out maneuver, avoiding the bullet and side-stepping around the Sheriff.

 

Melissa’s scream bounces off the walls.

 

“Mel!” his dad shouts, shooting off round after round.  Stiles can see the unconscious woman lying face up on the ashy floorboards.  Her side was bleeding profusely and there were teeth marks all along her torso.  There’s a small yelp as a bullet grazes the wolf and he bounds away from the Sheriff, back to his brother Alpha.

 

“Ethan?” the female witch calls.  The silver wolf is quick to limp to her side and as she takes in the blood on his coat, her eyes darken and then burn that bright neon hue as she glares at his dad.  Stiles only has time to scream out a pathetic warning before her hands dart out and fire erupts along the wall and catches his dad’s uniform.  His dad shouts and is quick to smother the flames, but his skin is unnaturally pink after from the burns.  The male witch throws a hand up and the Sheriff crashes hard into the wall.

 

“Dad!” Stiles screams.  He tries to run to his father, but the unwounded silver Alpha jumps on top of him and pins him to the floor.  At his strangled sounds, Derek’s attention is on him within seconds, distracting him from his fight.  The red Alpha slashes at his face, but Derek turns on him with new found rage, clawing and biting franticly.  His opponent yips and struggles to get free, but is saved when a seriously overly large black wolf enters in through the back, and drags Derek off of him.  Stiles watches helplessly as Derek and the leader circle each other, snapping their teeth as they snarl.

 

“Take them!” the female witch suddenly shouts.  The wolf at her side races passed Stiles and he can’t help but flinch when Lydia screams.  The wolf backhands her with a paw and she goes silent.  Stiles struggles again beneath his enemy, but it’s no use, the Alpha doesn’t budge from his back.  He looks back to where Derek is and is relieved to see Boyd at his side, standing against the black Alpha.  Isaac is being cornered by the red Alpha, still covering a terrified Danny.  Stiles can see that he’s subtly leading his boyfriend towards a broken window as the Alpha stalks him.  Once there, he shouts for Danny to run.  The boy doesn’t hesitate to jump out the window as Isaac charges the larger wolf.  Stiles closes his eyes as more biting and clawing ensue, spraying blood up the walls.

 

In the back, the black Alpha has quickly put Boyd down with a swipe of a paw and has now zeroed in on Derek.  The larger wolf’s lips pull back in a snarl and Stiles doesn’t understand why he’s hesitating.  Derek charges, but his opponent dodges the attack.  As Derek rights himself after having slammed into the wall, the black Alpha darts into the room where Stiles is still pinned and his fellow Alpha is fighting an exhausted Isaac.  The leader easily jumps into the fray, clamps his jaws around Isaac’s arm and flings him away.  The black wolf snaps his teeth at the other wolf, who is quick to run out of the house, following the path that Danny had run off in.  Derek barges into the room and Stiles finally gets a closer look at his Alpha form.  He was right when he said his form was an actual cross between wolf and human.  But he was nothing like the grotesque thing Peter had become.  He was all graceful movements and rippling muscles under shining black-blue fur.  His face was complete wolf, snout and all.  Stiles would have appreciated the sight more if this giant ass motherfucker wasn’t lying on top of him.  He wiggles again, trying to detach the Alpha from his back, but the wolf just snorts in his ear.

 

Derek growls, low and dangerous as he circles the other Alpha.  His opponent pays him no attention, literally looks away from him like he’s not a threat.  The Alpha glances to the witches and gestures for them to do something.

 

“Derek, the witches!” Stiles yells.  He gets his face slammed into the floor for his efforts, not like it helped anyway.  Derek snaps his attention to the witches as they lock hands.  They raise their free ones towards him and Stiles watches as some kind of pink ash drifts right out of their fingers, coating Derek from head to toe.  The wolf snarls and bats at the particles swimming around him to no avail.  After a moment, he yelps and is forcefully shifted back to his human form.  He hits the ground with a thump, unconscious and unmoving.  Oh my god, is he dead?  What did they do?  What was that stuff?  Why is this happening?

 

He’s about to struggle again when a loud roar erupts from the forest.  Stiles had heard it before many times and immediately linked it to Peter.  He wonders if they got him too or if that was a triumphant howl.  A scream follows it, but from the opposite direction and Stiles can feel tears forming as he recognizes Danny’s voice.  Was this it?  Was this the end?

 

Stiles peers around the room, taking in the sight of his bloody and broken family.  I can’t be the only one left.  They’re alive, right?  They have to be.  Please God, let them all be alive.

 

Pain shoots through his head and the world goes black.

 

Allison

 

As she slowly gained consciousness, she took deep breaths to calm the sudden panic that wanted to strangle her.  Allison pried her eyes open to find a blackened ceiling staring back at her.  There were wooden splinters and small planks on top of her.  Before moving to push them off, she assessed how bad her body hurt.  It was definitely sore, but it wasn’t as bad as she was expecting.  There was a dull ache in her head, her jaw was totally bruised or something, her hands were cut up as were her shins, but not too severely.  All in all, she thinks she got pretty lucky, considering she got thrown through a goddamned wall.  She slowly pushes herself into a sitting position, shoving charred wood off of her as she goes.

 

Glancing around, she knows instantly that they lost this battle.  Lost big time.  There was blood all over the floor and walls, fur stuck into globs of red where wolves fought, claw marks and bullet holes all along the house, and she could glimpse limbs under debris.  She really hoped those limbs were still attached to bodies.  A groan came from her left and she quickly dug through the pile to find who it was.  She didn’t even care if it was Derek, as long as someone other than herself had survived this.  Large brown eyes blinked up at her and she had to force down a sob.

 

“Scott!  Are you alright?” she asks, running her hands over him.  His nose was bleeding and possibly broken, making him breathe through his mouth.  He hissed when her hand grazed his left bicep and found that a piece of wood was jammed all the way through his arm.

 

“Should I pull it out?” she asks.

 

“I – I don’t know.  Shit, nothing’s healing,” he wheezes.  Fear washed through her at his words, but she pushed it away, trying to remain calm.  She checked the rest of him over and found that his stomach was bleeding slightly, but the cuts seemed to be shallow.  His right ankle was also bent at an extremely awkward angle, making her grimace.  It was probably broken.  “Something’s – something’s not right.  Call Deaton.  Alli, call Deaton!” Scott shouts, panic rolling through his voice.

 

“Okay, you’re gonna be alright,” she says, fishing her phone out of her pocket.  The screen was scratched, but still workable.  She dialed as fast as she could, holding Scott’s hand in hers.  The office went to voicemail and she quickly hung up, not bothering with a message that he wouldn’t get until hours later.  It was the middle of the night, of course he wouldn’t be there yet.  Allison tucked her phone away and rummaged through Scott’s jeans to find his.  Searching through his contacts, she found the Vet’s home number and pressed call.

 

“Hello?” he asked sleepily.

 

“Deaton, it’s Allison.  We need you.  There was an attack and everyone’s hurt and Scott’s not healing and I don’t know what to do,” she rushes, the fear finally getting to her.

 

“Alright, it’s okay, Allison.  Tell me where you are,” he says.

 

“We’re at Derek’s.  The Alpha’s came and they – they,” she stutters.

 

“Allison, I need you to breathe for me.  Stay calm,” he says.  Allison closes her eyes and focuses on stamping down hard on the panic.  She takes a few breaths, finding that inner strength she’d been honing.

 

“Alright, I’m good.  What should I do?” she asks.

 

“First things first, is everyone alive?” he asks.  The words have a shudder running through her, but she ignores it.

 

“I don’t know.  I only woke up a few minutes ago,” she answers.

 

“Okay, I’m on my way.  I’m going to pick up Ms. Morrell on the way.  In the meantime, check on the others.  Do you know first aide at all?”

 

“Yes, my moth-,” she starts.  “Yes, I know some first aide,” she finishes.

 

“Good.  Do what you can to help them.  And Allison, I know you’re a hunter, but I expect you to help the wolves as well.  You will do that, yes?” he asks.  Wow, people really think I’m a total bitch, don’t they?  Guess I can’t blame them.

 

“Yes, of course.  Hurry please,” she says and hangs up.  Scott had passed out sometime during the call and she quickly felt for a pulse, breathing a sigh of relief when she found it to be strong and steady.  Allison detangled her fingers from his, wincing slightly as the movement tugged at her cuts.  She glances behind her, finding a foot in a combat boot peeking out from beneath the debris.  Oh my god, please be alive.

 

“Dad!” she yells, scrambling to her feet.  She pushes everything off of him and the sight of his blood has tears coming to her eyes.  “Daddy?” she whispers.  She reaches for his wrist, hesitantly searching for a pulse.  She sucks in much needed air when she finds him alive and then takes inventory of his wounds.  There was a long cut along his left arm, smaller ones bleeding through his shirt at his stomach, and his left ankle was swollen and black and blue.  It honestly didn’t seem too bad.  The cuts weren’t bleeding very much and the ankle was maybe sprained or fractured.  Allison squeezed his hand before forcing herself to move on.  There was a pool of blood spreading towards her and she got up to follow the trail into the next room.

 

“Oh my god,” she breathes and falls to her knees next to the victim.  She places a hand on the woman’s neck and after a few minutes finds a very weak pulse.  Allison leans down, listening for breathing, which she hears, but barely.  She moves the tattered clothing to the side, careful to cover the woman’s breasts the best she can.  Leaning closer, her eyes widen as she finds the smaller bite marks on the woman’s stomach are beginning to knit themselves back together.  “Oh, Melissa, I’m so sorry,” she whispers, petting the woman’s bloodied curls.  If she survives the transformation, she should be fine, but Allison can’t imagine living most of your adult life as a human, only to have it come crashing down with a single bite.  Or in this case, multiple bites.  Allison glances passed her, finding the next broken body.

 

The Sheriff was face down on the floor, unconscious, but thankfully alive.  His jacket and shirt were mostly burned away and the skin beneath looked red and irritated, but none of them seemed any worse than first degree burns.  He must have been quick to get the flames out.  Allison brushes a hand over his head before getting up to leave the room.  She circles around the base of the staircase, finding a hand peeking through the rails.  Running around to the front, she quickly ascends the stairs and rolls whoever it is over.  By the way the boys arm flopped when he moved, it was obvious his left shoulder was dislocated.  There were ragged teeth marks along his forearm and Allison couldn’t help wonder if that would do anything to someone who’d already been turned.  As she continued checking him over, she found most of his fingers to be broken, but they were slowly healing.

 

“Isaac,” she called, lightly slapping his cheek.  He stirred and then groaned as he fully awakened.  “Hey, can you hear me?” she asks.

 

“Yeah,” he wheezes.  “Fucking Alphas,” he grumbles, sitting up.  He clutches his bad arm, panting as pain probably shot through it.

 

“Here, bite down on this,” she says, handing him a sturdy piece of wood.  He glances at her suspiciously, but eventually takes it, shoving it between his teeth.  “This is gonna hurt, but once it’s back in place it should heal properly,” she says.  “On 3, ready?” she asks.  He nods and scrunches his eyes shut.  “One-,” she says and then pulls, popping the shoulder back into place.  Isaac yelped and then groaned, glaring at her.  He spit the wood out, panting again.

 

“What the fuck happened to two and three?” he asked.

 

“It’s easier that way,” she says, patting his other shoulder.  “Now, go sit with Scott while I find everyone else.  He’s in the back room.  Try not to wake him,” she says and then hops back down the stairs.  Isaac grumbles something at her, but does as told.  She moves into the living room, where the most blood has accumulated.  Legs are sticking out behind the couch, so she goes there first.  The wolf is lying on his back, knocked out cold.  There’s a large dent on his head that had been bleeding, but she can see it slowly healing.  Boyd would be fine, physically anyway.  Allison crept around the couch and immediately covered her eyes with a gasp.  The Alpha was flat on his back, covered in some kind of pink dust and he was completely naked.  Of course, leave it to Derek to be unclothed at a time like this.  She grabs the blanket from the couch and keeping her eyes still mostly closed, she covers his lower region.  Once that’s done, she lets out a breath and kneels next to him.  She’s assuming the powder is only toxic to werewolves, so she cautiously checks the pulse at his wrist.  There was no way she was putting her hand anywhere near his face, where he could wake and bite her.  Nope, not happening.

 

Allison was surprised to find the wolf’s pulse to be very weak.  Taking a chance, she leaned down to put her ear to his chest.  Shit, I can barely hear anything.  Ignoring her own rule of staying clear of his teeth, she places a finger under his nose and curses when she can’t feel anything.  She pulls out her phone and quickly dials.

 

“Do werewolves need CPR?” she asks instead of a greeting.

 

“Yes, if you know how, then don’t hesitate.  Wait, wait, who is it?  And do you know why they aren’t breathing?”

 

“It’s Derek.  He got hit with some pink dust or something.  You don’t think he’ll just start breathing on his own-”

 

“No, do CPR now,” he orders urgently.  Allison puts the phone on the floor, arranges her hands on Derek’s chest and pumps five times.  She sighs, seriously not wanting to do the next part.  Of all the shitty luck, I mean come on.  She tilts the wolf’s head back, opens his mouth, and plugs his nose.  If he bites me, I’m gonna be majorly pissed.  It will not end well for him.  She takes a breath, leans over, and blows into his mouth.  No response.  She repeats the process three more times until the wolf makes a choking sound and sucks in oxygen.

 

“About time,” she grumbles.  The Alpha tries to sit up, but he’s ridiculously weak.  He glares at her, which she finds completely rude.  “I just saved your life, in case you were wondering,” she says.  His glare lessens slightly, but barely.

 

“Is everyone alright?” he asks, trying to roll over to look around the room.  He hisses as his muscles strain and Allison rolls her eyes and pushes him flat.

 

“Stop moving, you’ll hurt yourself.  And I don’t know, I haven’t found everyone yet.  I’ll keep looking.  Stay here,” she orders.  Derek scowls at her, but surprisingly does as he’s told.  She’s assuming that’s just because he’s too weak to move.  Well, that’s one problem I won’t have to deal with.  She looks around the room, searching for the rest of her friends.  When there’s no one there, she searches the entire first floor.  Fear rises up in her chest when she still can’t find them.  She races up the stairs, taking a few minutes to look through the second floor.  Nothing.  No one.  Allison runs back down the stairs.

 

“Lydia?” she calls.  No answer.  She runs out to the front yard, scanning the ground.  There’s a body by the tree line.  Allison runs forward and cringes when the boy comes into view.  There are bite marks all over his wrists and thighs, but they aren’t bleeding.  His pulse is strong, but erratic.

 

“Danny?” she asks, trying to gently shake him awake.  The boy doesn’t stir.

 

“Isaac!” she yells.  The young wolf comes running out and falls to his knees at the boys side.

 

“Oh no, oh my- Danny!  Wake up, baby, come on,” he cries.

 

“Come on, let’s get him into the house,” she says.  Isaac carefully lifts his boyfriend into his arms and walks him back into the house.  Allison lingers in the yard, trying to find the rest of her friends.  She spends about five minutes out there, until a black sedan rolls up to the house.  The Vet and the guidance counselor stride up to her, carrying heavy bags filled with who knew what.

 

“Allison, what’s the status?” Deaton asks.

 

“I – I can’t find everyone,” she stammers.

 

“Who’s missing?”

 

“Lydia and Stiles,” she says, taking another scan around the yard.  “Oh, and uh, Peter too, I guess,” she adds with a shrug.  Deaton frowns, thinking it over.

 

“Well, I’m assuming the idea was to take the members closest to the Alpha.  Which is…not great,” he mumbles.  “Bring me to Derek,” he says.  Allison leads him into the house, where they find the Alpha struggling to stay on his knees and leaning heavily on the arm of the couch.

 

“I told you not to move,” she says, arms crossed.  Derek glares at her, his eyes flashing red.  He’d tucked the blanket around his waist and was swaying dangerously.  Derek tilts his head, Allison assuming he’s listening to something, or doing some weird Alpha search for his wolves…or something.    He lets out a sudden vicious snarl, making her jump back some.  Deaton makes a move forward, but stops when Derek’s canines appear and his eyes turn red again.

 

“Derek, it’s alright.  I’m not going to hurt you.  Neither is Ms. Morrell or Allison.  But I need to get that poison off of you.  Will you let me?” the man asks.  He steps forward again, but the Alpha growls and crouches down low.  Deaton sighs and steps away.  “This isn’t going to work.  He’s completely disconnected with his pack.  Where’s Isaac?  He might let Isaac near,” he says.  The young wolf appears a minute later, probably having heard the conversation.  The Vet motions him forward and the boy hesitantly obeys.

 

“Derek?” he calls.  The Alpha blinks at him, the red fading as he comes closer.  “Hey, how about we get you cleaned up.  You’ll feel better after,” he says, reaching out.  The wolf’s canines retract as the tension deflates out of his body.  He keels over, Isaac catching him with another blanket before he face plants.  He’d been smart not to have the dust touch his skin.  Allison stays back, not wanting to provoke him again.

 

“Alright, very good Isaac.  Now you two get him upstairs and into the shower,” Deaton says.  Allison gapes at him.  Is he crazy?

 

“I really don’t think I should be there,” she says.

 

“Nonsense, he’s completely calm now.  You two help with that, while we tend to everyone else,” the man says with a smile and then leaves the room.

 

“He’s crazy,” she mutters, staring after him.  Isaac shrugs and points to Derek’s other side for her to help.  She carefully moves forward, ready to jump away at the first sight of fangs.  Allison prods at his arm, but the wolf doesn’t do anything but mumble incoherently.  Okay, Allison, you can do this.  She takes a breath and flings an arm over her shoulder, helping Isaac lift the heavy man.  Isaac was clearly taking most of his weight…and yet he was still ridiculously heavy.  Well, that’s what happens when you have a ton of muscles.  Which, really, how much does he work out?  If he wasn’t a complete dick, I’d probably be attracted.  But no, he is a dick and I still kind of want to stab him in his stupid perfect face.

 

They stumble up the stairs, dragging Derek along with them.  Once in the bathroom, the wolf finally wakes up enough to stand on his own legs, but still leans heavily against the shower wall.  Isaac takes down the shower head, turning on the warm spray.

 

“So, uh, we’ll just work our way down?” Isaac mutters to her.  Allison nods.

 

“Do we need soap?” she asks.  Isaac bites his lip.

 

“Um, I think just water is fine for now.  You know, unless you want to scrub him down?” he asks, waggling his eyebrows.  Allison rolls her eyes while Derek glares at them.  “Right, so water it is,” Isaac says.  The young wolf turns the gentle spray towards the Alpha, turning it this way and that over his head, trying to get the powder out of his hair.  Derek’s jaw ticks and she wonders if the substance hurts.  Isaac sighs, frustrated.  “Yeah, that’s not coming out.  You gotta get in there,” he says, pointing to Derek’s head.

 

“What?  No.  Why don’t you do it?” she asks, alarmed at the very idea.

 

“Because I can’t touch it,” he answers.  Oh right, well shit.

 

“Fine,” she grumbles and strips her jacket off.  She pulls her rings off and stomps closer to the shower.  “Don’t even think of biting me,” she says, poking the Alpha in the chest.  He glares at her, but when there’s no glowing eyes or fangs, she huffs and steps closer, reaching up to his hair.  She still hesitates a little, not liking her wrist so close to his mouth.  Isaac pours the water on again and she runs her fingers through the Alpha’s hair, surprised by how soft it is.  Derek is tense under her hands, watching her every move in the mirror.  It’s probably not helping that her heart is beating like crazy from absolute fear.  The pink grains are slowly coming out as she scrubs, but they’re still kind of clinging.  “Goddamn it, hand me the shampoo,” she grumps, snapping her fingers at Isaac. The boy hurries to oblige, handing over a bottle of herbal essences.  She can’t help but snort, finding it to be the same shampoo she uses.  “Yes, well of course, why not,” she mutters.  Allison soaps up Derek’s hair, making sure to dig in so that the substance doesn’t stick to his scalp.  Oh my god, don’t you dare start fucking caring, I swear to god, she chastises herself.

 

She motions for Isaac to rinse, but then panics slightly.  “Shit, close your eyes,” she says, tapping Derek’s shoulders franticly.  Oh, there you go again.  Caring about the stupid monster.  Great, really great Allison.  The man glares at her and keeps his eyes trained on her.  She rolls her eyes, hands retracting from his shoulders.  “I mean, unless you want your eyes to burn out of your head,” she says.

 

“I think I can handle soap in my eyes,” he grumbles.  Allison quickly brushes the soap from his forehead, wincing when he growls slightly.

 

“It’s not just soap, you idiot.  The powder is mixed in with it,” she snaps.  Derek hisses in pain as it cascades down his face.  “Crap, Isaac spray his face,” she says.  The Alpha grimaces when the water hits his face and Allison hastily rinses the soap and powder off his skin.  “Alright, that’s enough,” she says.  Isaac drops the water and Derek blinks his eyes open.  They were a little bloodshot, but otherwise fine.  “Better?” she asks.  Derek grunts, which she takes for a yes.

 

She goes to tip his head back, hand near his neck, but he growls and snatches her wrist to pull it away.  There was anger and what she was shockingly registering as fear in his eyes.  Realizing where her hand had been, right on the pulse in his throat, makes her understand the sudden violent reaction.  Usually striking fear in such a large predator had her feeling strong and in control, but after the carnage of today, it just left her feeling empty.  She used to be such a gentle person, always wanting to help others, nurturing sick animals back to health, having giddy fun with friends.  Where had that girl gone?  Was she gone forever?  Lately she’d done everything she could to smother her, but seeing an already weakened Alpha werewolf cringe at her touch stirred something inside.  Something that wanted to comfort, to reassure, to help.

 

Derek was still gripping her wrist while searching her face.  She’d gone quiet, lost in her own head and his expression.  She tugs slightly, fear making her heart race when he didn’t let go.  He stares at her for another moment before gently releasing her wrist.

 

“Um, sorry,” she mutters, trying to blink away the confusion.  She’d never felt the need to apologize to him before and the feeling was too new.  She took a breath, breaking the eye contact they still had going.  “It, uh, would be easier to rinse if you leaned back a little,” she says.  He frowns, but tips his head back while Isaac resumes the water pressure.  She reached up again, watching his face in case she needed to pull away.  She really hadn’t liked the physical contact, at all.  If he did it again, she was leaving.  The only people she'd let close enough to touch over the last few months were Scott, Lydia, and her father.  She’d let Stiles near only so she could protect him that night Scott lost it.

 

As if he could read her mind, Derek’s eyes widened and locked on her face.

 

“Where’s Stiles?” he asks.  She focuses on getting the last of the soap out of his hair, not knowing how to answer.  He pulls away from her too sudden and she slips on the ledge.  She would’ve completely fell face first into the wall if he didn’t put his hands out, catching her around the waist to steady her.  He frowns at his own hands, as if he had no idea why he’d saved her.  Derek quickly props her back up, but to her displeasure doesn’t remove his hands.  “Did they take him?” he asks quietly.  She opens her mouth to answer, but stops to pry his fingers off.

 

“First, hands off me, wolf.  And second, yes they probably took him.  Along with Lydia and Peter,” she says, stepping out of his space.  His fists clench and he steps further back.

 

“You two can go.  I’ve got it from here,” he says.  Isaac quickly puts the shower head back in place and ushers Allison out of the bathroom.  They both wince when a loud crash comes from behind them.

 

“Um, should we…make sure he didn’t fall or something?” she asks.

 

“No, he’ll be fine.  That was his fist against the mirror.  Happens every now and then,” Isaac mutters, shuffling her down the stairs.  Allison didn’t know what to say to that, so she said nothing.  When they returned to the rest of the group, Isaac sat beside a still sleeping Danny and laced their fingers together.

 

“Everything alright?” Deaton asks.

 

“Yeah, he’ll be fine.  How’s everyone in here?” she asks.  She kneels beside a now conscious Scott, who gives her a little pained smile.

 

“It seems whatever type of poison the witch used on Scott is wearing off.  Instead of clinging to his skin, this powder seeped into his pores, completely entering his body.  But the effects seem to be temporary because his body is beginning to heal now.  He should be good in an hour or two.  Boyd is still unconscious from his head injury and the trauma his body had already went through, but he too is healing nicely.  Your father is in the kitchen.  I wrapped his sprained ankle and patched his wounds the best I could.  He should be fine in a few days.  Ms. Morrell is handling the Sheriff, Melissa, and Danny,” he explains.  Allison gives Scott a quick kiss before leaving to find her dad.  The man sits straighter in his chair upon seeing her and pulls her into his arms.

 

“Are you alright?” he asks and then pulls back to look at her.  “They didn’t hurt you?” he asks.  He grazes a finger over the bruise forming along her jaw, then checks over the scrapes on her hands.

 

“I’m okay.  Just scrapes mostly.  What about you?  How’s the arm?” she asks, gesturing towards the white bandages encasing most of his left arm.

 

“Oh, it’s nothing.  Just a cut from some wood.  It’ll be fine,” he says.  He stares at her then, making her fidget.  “So, I heard you were…helping Derek?  How is he?” he asks, frown in place.

 

“He’s fine.  Got hit with some poison or something.  Deaton asked me to help, so…,” she says, trailing off with a shrug.

 

“He let you help?” he asks.  His brows were furrowed, confused by the idea.

 

“Well, there was some awkward tension and then some growling, but he’s a werewolf, so it was to be expected,” she says nonchalantly.  Her dad snorts and shakes his head.

 

“Well, it’s progress I guess,” he mutters.  She still didn’t really understand why her father wanted to be allies with them so much, but she doesn’t question it.  It had worked well enough so far, no need to rock the boat any more than she already had.  “Allison…about last night.  Why – why did you stay with them?” he asks.  She fidgets nervously again.

 

“Scott wanted me to,” she answers, shrugging.  Her dad frowns, seeing right through her answer.

 

You wanted to,” he says.  Allison bites her lip and nods, not sure what exactly had been her thinking about last night.  They all just looked so comfortable sleeping around each other, like a big family and she’d wanted to feel what it was like.  It had been nice.  Her dad sighs and shakes his head.  “I won’t pretend like I understand because I don’t, but if you want to be around them, I’m not going to stop you.  You’re a leader now and I expect you to make your own decisions.  Just make sure you think your ideas through before acting, okay kid?” he says.  She nods and hugs him again.  This was the most affectionate he’s been since her mother died.  It made her sad and happy at the same time.

 

“I’m gonna see if Ms. Morrell needs help,” she says.  They let go of each other and she returns to the other room.  The Sheriff was sitting propped up against the wall, applying burn ointment to his arms.

 

“How are you doing?” she asks.  He glances at her, not making eye contact.

 

“Fine, thank you,” he says, nodding.  She hadn’t been sure how much the Sheriff knew about what happened between her and Stiles, but she definitely knows now.  The cold shoulder was a bit hard to miss.  She turns away, finding Ms. Morrell tending to Melissa’s wounds.

 

“Is there anything I can do?” she asks.  The woman looks up and smiles at her.

 

“Not really, but thank you.  She was bitten, so now all we need to do is wait.  Her pulse has been getting stronger though, so I’m assuming she’ll turn.  Plus the smaller wounds have been healing.  Her body is absorbing the change much slower than Danny’s though.  I’m thinking it’s because she’s older,” she explains, spreading ointment on a bandage and placing it on a freshly cleaned wound.

 

“She’ll live?”

 

“Yes, I believe she will.”

 

“Thank you for helping us, Ms. Morrell,” Allison says.  The woman looks up, surprised.

 

“No need to thank me.  It’s my job after all.  Taking care of people.  Werewolves are just as much people as anyone else.  And call me Miranda, Allison,” she says.  Allison nods, taking in her words.  She really believed that werewolves were just people.  Maybe she’s right.  After all, Scott is a werewolf and he’s the most caring person I know.

 

Everyone eventually gathers into one room, silent and staring.  Derek eventually returns, dressed in his typical dark t-shirt, jeans, and leather jacket.  He crosses over to her, handing out her jacket and rings.  She’d completely forgotten she’d left them.  She’s about to thank him, but he beats her to it.

 

“Thank you.  For helping,” he says.  She gives him a stunned little nod and he turns to the rest of the group.

 

“Once you feel up to it, I expect all of you to join me in a search.  We’ll start in the preserve and work our way out.  There will be shift changes every few hours, but we don’t stop until we find them.  Understood?” he asks.  Allison was surprised at how easily he commanded the attention of everyone in the room.  The only time she usually sees him is during battles, where he proves to be a formidable opponent, but something about this was different.

 

“Derek, I don’t think that’s a good-” Scott starts.

 

“Do you have a better idea?” the Alpha asks.  The young wolf sighs, slumping into the couch.  “Then don’t argue with me,” he orders, his voice vibrating with power.  Everyone froze, startled by the sudden show of power.  The man stalked out of the room and into the shadows of the woods.

 

“The fuck was that?” Scott asks.  Deaton sighs as he gathers his tools and various medicines into his bag.

 

“Without the ones he trusts most, the wolf is closer to the surface,” he says.

 

“But Derek was alone for years, without a pack and no one to trust.  Why is it different this time?” Scott asks.  Ms. Morrell joins them, interrupting Deaton with her own answer.

 

“I suspect the fear of losing everything all over again has rattled him.  In times where he should be frightened, Derek turns to anger.  Instead of confiding in his allies, he internalizes to the point where if anyone tries to help he lashes out.  It’s common with people who have suffered great loss or been through traumatic events.  But it could be dangerous, given his immense power,” she says.

 

“Are you saying he isn’t in control?” Chris asks.

 

“On the contrary,” Deaton says.  “He’s completely focused, his main goal finding his missing pack mates.  As an Alpha, he’s connected to them in a way we, as humans, will never be able to comprehend.  But take that focus away and yes, he will lose control.  So I suggest we find them quickly.  It’s very difficult to bring an Alpha back, once he’s lost his human self.”

 

Allison notches an arrow into her crossbow, ready to follow him out there.  She wasn’t going to just sit here while Lydia was in the Alphas clutches.  She was about to leave, when Miranda’s words stopped her.

 

“A word of warning to his allies.  Betray him while in this state and you’ll beg for death.”

 

Allison brushes it off and follows the Alpha into the darkness.

 

Stiles

 

“Wake up, witch!”

 

Stiles once again startles awake, rousing the dull ache that was throbbing in his head.  He was on his side, lying on a freezing cold concrete floor.  He shifts onto his back, only to find red eyes staring back at him.  Stiles shouts and tries to scurry away.

 

“Woah, woah, where’s the fire?” the Alpha laughs, pulling him back by his belt loops.  He was still on the floor, the wolf smiling down at him.  “Not so fast, little one, I just got here.”

 

“Get your hands off me,” he grumbles, pushing at the man with all his strength.

 

“Oh, come on, now.  That’s not very nice,” he chuckles, but surprisingly takes his hands off.  Stiles climbs unsteadily to his feet and looks around.  It was a small, bare room with concrete flooring and walls.  There was only one door and a tiny window with bars on it.  The only source of light was the sun beaming through the bars of the window.  The room was completely empty; no furniture, no pictures on the walls, absolutely nothing.

 

“I like what you’ve done with the place,” he says.

 

“Yes, I know, it’s very cozy,” the Alpha says.  He’s slowly advancing on Stiles, who backs away until his back hits a wall.  The man steps right into his space, hands up against the wall, bracketing Stiles in.  “And it’s just you and me in here for the next few hours.  How should we pass the time?” he asks, running a hand down Stiles’ arm.

 

“Well, I’ve heard the quiet game is a fun time.  Maybe we could try it, though really, I’d probably lose.  Or a staring contest, you know, something that has limited physical contact,” he says nervously.

 

“Now why would I want you to keep that pretty little mouth of yours closed?  Wouldn’t you like to occupy it with something else?” the wolf asks, grinning.

 

“Yeah, you know, that sounds boring.  Got any board games?  I’ve always been a fan of Life,” he says.  The Alpha chuckles and traces his clawed fingers along Stiles’ neck.

 

“Oh, sweetie, board games are for losers.  And you, with those bright eyes and tight little body, are anything but a loser,” he says.  Stiles swallows, feeling the pin pricks of nails dig in slightly.  “You’re Stiles, right?  My name is Aiden by the way.  I enjoyed watching you manifest your powers so quickly.  The way your eyes were so focused on keeping us, keeping me, out.  I hated seeing Gloria rip it all away with her little fire trick,” he says, pouting.

 

“Yeah, I bet.  I’m sure you were real concerned,” he sighs.  The Alpha steps closer, taking a whiff of him.  This guy is so much worse than Peter.  At least Peter understood that ‘bad touch’ was actually not allowed.

 

“That Alpha’s scent is all over you.  Tell me what he’s like.  Do you get off on being thrown around?  Or is he a gentle lover?” he asks, tongue darting out to swipe across Stiles’ throat.  Stiles jerks away from it, easily sliding under his arm and backing away.

 

“They all know my scent.  It won’t take them long to find me and I’ll gladly stand by and watch as Derek rips your throat out,” Stiles snaps.  The Alpha laughs, turning to face him.  He paces in front of him, eyes tracing up and down his body.  Stiles already felt violated, this guy was a total creep and Stiles really wishes that punching him in the face would accomplish something.

 

“You honestly think we left them alive?” Aiden asks.

 

“They’re strong, it would take more than a couple of douchebag Alphas to take them out,” he says.  He’s lying, they survived, they’ll come for me.  Aiden backs him into another wall, psychotic grin still plastered on his face.

 

“Oh, that’s adorable.  You really think they survived don’t you?” he asks.  Stiles says nothing.  “Baby, I’m sorry, but your pack is gone.  We got what we came for,” he says, sliding a hand up Stiles’ chest.  “Or at least I got what I wanted,” he purrs.  The door swings open then and the female witch steps in.

 

“That’s enough, Aiden.  Your shift is over,” she says.  Stiles wants to slump to the floor in relief.  No more bad touch, nope, none.  Without taking his hand off, Aiden glares back at her.

 

“And how is that possible?  I was supposed to have hours.  The boy just woke up,” he says.

 

“You did have hours.  Not my fault he slept through it,” she says.  “Now get out.  You can have him back later.”

 

Aiden sighs and looks back to him with a pout.  “Don’t miss me too much, honey,” he says, grazing a thumb along Stiles’ bottom lip.  Stiles flinches away from it, moving away from one wall to the next.  The wolf saunters out of the room, giving the witch’s ass a playful slap on his way out.  She glares at his back before slamming the door shut, locking herself in the room with him.  When she turns around, there’s a sultry smile on her face and she sways her hips as she strolls towards him.  Oh good, another one, that’s just great.  Why does everyone want a piece of the Stiles all of a sudden?  And why are they all psychopaths?

 

“I hope he didn’t bother you too much.  He can be a bit pushy,” she says.

 

“Oh, yeah, he was great.  Except for all the touchy-feely creepiness, but yeah, super awesome,” he answers.

 

“Yes, he tends to let his hands roam a bit, but enough about him.  I feel like I failed to properly introduce myself earlier.  My name is Gloria,” she says, holding out a hand like she expected Stiles to shake it.  Yeah, not happening.  I’ve seen what she can do with those hands.  No thank you.  The witch sighs and drops her hand.

 

“Fine, we’ll get straight to business then.  Forget what Aiden said.  Some members of your pack are alive and well, like Lydia and Peter.  They’re here with us in the building as a matter of fact,” she says.

 

“What are you doing to them?”

 

“Nothing, at the moment.  But if we don’t get what we want, very bad things will happen to them,” she says, backing him into the wall just as the wolf had.  She thankfully keeps her hands to herself.  “And you, of course, but that was a given.  You’re a prisoner of war, honey.”

 

“What do you want?”

 

“What we wanted yesterday.  For Derek to surrender the town to us.  None of you have any idea the power this land holds.  But when I found you, I thought maybe we should add an undertrained witch to the list.  You have so much potential, Stiles.  If you stay with us, I’ll free your friends,” she says.

 

“Yeah, I don’t believe that.”

 

Gloria frowns and takes a step back.  “You won’t ever accept this offer, will you?  No, your brilliant little mind has been brain washed by werewolves.  I admire your loyalty, Stiles,” she says and then steps completely into his space.  So much for the no touching.  “Unfortunately, you picked the wrong side, baby,” she whispers in his ear.  The hands on his waist grow hot and he immediately shoves her off.  She may be an evil bitch, but she wasn’t nearly as strong as him, physically speaking.  Gloria righted herself in a flash, turned on her heal and headed for the door.

 

“I had fun killing daddy, by the way,” she calls back.  The door slams behind her and Stiles is finally left alone.  He’s not dead, she was lying, she’s a liar, that’s what she does.  He repeats the words in his head, fighting off the panic.  Stiles looks around the room, not seeing any way out.  He walks to the door, but of course it’s locked from the outside.  He bangs on it and shouts for help, but no one comes, not even the enemy.  He can’t reach the window, but he shouts at it until he’s hoarse.  Nothing, no response, dead silence.  Stiles runs his hands over the door and all of the walls for hours, looking for some kind of crack, or more likely just to occupy himself.  He eventually exhausts himself and sits against the wall, elbows resting on his knees as he thinks.

 

Obviously Derek was still alive, Gloria let that one slip.  Which is good.  Derek can track him down and he’ll save his scrawny ass and Stiles will owe him for eternity.  It won’t take that long.  It’s only been a few hours.  The sun is in the middle of the sky I think, which means midday.  It’s only been a few hours, I can handle this.

 

The sun dips lower in the sky, eventually setting.  Stiles watches the moon rise and counts his breathing.  I’ll be fine, Derek will find me.  I’m sure they’re all fine.  They’re not dead.  Dad wasn’t even hurt that bad, right?  I’m sure he’s fineAnd Lydia and Peter are here somewhere.  Peter can totally bust us out.  Or at least himself.  Get back to Derek and then the Alpha will find me.  Yes, that will work.

 

Stiles returns to banging on the door and shouting for help now that his throat isn’t as sore.  It doesn’t get him anywhere.  The moon continues to shift across the sky, taking the miniature light source with it, plunging Stiles into darkness.  He slumps into a corner, resting his head on his knees.  Might as well sleep, there isn’t anything else to do.  Just as he’s closing his eyes, he hears the metal door clang open.

 

“Oh my, you probably can’t see a thing can you?” Aiden asks.  The door closes and it’s silent for a few minutes.  Stiles begins to think the wolf left, but two specks of red start shining a few feet away from him.  He darts to his feet, cramming himself further into the wall, as if that will do anything.  “Don’t be afraid, Stiles,” Aiden says, his eyes drifting closer.  “I won’t hurt you, I promise.”

 

Stiles holds his breath as the scarlet irises stop mere inches from his face.  He can feel the heat of the wolf’s body along his front, though the Alpha hasn’t touched him yet.  It was just the general heat wave that werewolves seem to have, wafting over him like a current.

 

“You smell fantastic when you’re afraid.  No wonder Derek can’t keep his hands off you.  You’re such enticing prey,” he says.  Stiles flinches when the wolf rests a hand on his arm and immediately pushes it off.  The red orbs blink at him and tilt as if Aiden’s listening to something.  “Did you know your heart beats faster than a regular human’s?  It’s very strange, but I suppose it’s probably all the magic that’s running through your veins.”

 

“Nope, just your average ADHD, nothing fancy about that.  Just boring, normal, human teenage boring-ness,” Stiles rambles.

 

“You’re cute.  And feisty.  I like that,” he whispers.  Fingers run up his arm, but Stiles moves out of range, trying not trip on himself in the dark.  He feels along the wall, keeping himself moving as the wolf follows him.  “You’re already much more fun than your friend.  What’s his name?  Jackson?  Poor thing couldn’t get it up when I touched him.  I’m assuming you won’t have that problem, right Stiles?” he asks, pinning him to the wall.  “You like having manly hands all over you.  Strong hands that can push you down, touch you in all the right ways, make you beg to be fucked.  I can’t wait until you cave.  They all do eventually.  Even Jackson.  Though I’m sure you’ll be much more fun, with that dirty little mouth of yours,” he says, grazing his fingers down Stiles’ chest.

 

“You can do that all you want, but I won’t ever stop fighting.  I’m not an easy lay, just so you know,” Stiles says, brushing the Alpha’s fingers off.

 

“Oh, I never thought you’d be easy, honey.  The more you fight, the more it turns me on, so go right ahead,” he chuckles, then darts forward to peck Stiles on the cheek.  The Alpha drifts out the door then, just as the sun begins to rise again.  It was a routine after that.  Gloria during the day, Aiden at night.  It was like a never ending cycle.  They didn’t do much to him for the first two days, just toyed with him.  Gloria threatening with her magic, Aiden’s fingers dancing over his skin, though never going further than arms and chest.  It was all so fucked up and irritating and exhausting and Stiles just wanted to go the fuck home.  They never let him sleep, the door clanging open every time he was close to drifting off.  They would let him leave the room, escorting him down a narrow hallway to a small bathroom whenever he needed to go.  At least he could be grateful they didn’t just make him go in the room.  They hadn’t fed him yet in the two days he’d been imprisoned and he was starving.  He would drink all the water he could when they brought him to the bathroom.

 

Derek or someone will save me, they will.  Because everyone’s fine and they’re all searching for me.  Hell, I’d settle for even the Argents at this point.  As long as someone comes.  And soon.

 

Things changed on the third day.  Gloria arrived at dawn, like always.

 

“Hey, Stiles, how are you this morning?” she asks.

 

“Fuck off,” he snaps from his corner.  Probably not the best idea to piss her off, but I’m exhausted and hyper at the same time and this is just fucking not okay, so fuck her.

 

“Oh, we’re moody today,” she says, smirking.  She sashays up to him like normal, but Stiles wasn’t really paying attention.  “What, you’re just going to ignore me?” she asks, actually sounding offended.  He walks away from his corner and paces around the room, scowling at the walls.  His legs were wobbly and his eyes couldn’t focus on one thing for too long.  Since he wasn’t paying attention, he didn’t notice when she slid up behind him and placed a hand on his back until something shocked him.

 

“Ow!  What the fuck?!” he shouts, wheeling away from her.  He rubbed his lower back, the skin stinging slightly.

 

“If you don’t want to talk to me, that’s fine.  Let’s play with magic, then.  See if you can dodge it, or hell even control it.  I know that power is in you somewhere,” she says, grinning.  Blue sparks crackle at her finger tips, shooting out and zapping his tender skin.  That day was unpleasant to say the least.  He sucked at dodging her attacks and he tried, he really did to control it, but failed every time.

 

“What the fuck do you want from me?!” he’d shouted.

 

“I want you to fight back, Stiles!  Show me that I didn’t pick a piss poor witch as my trophy.  That I joined this goddamned war for a reason!” she yelled.  He had charged at her then.  If she wanted him to fight back, then so be it.  It was possibly the worst idea he’s ever had.  She raised her hand, sending an electric current sizzling through the air and into his chest.  He dropped to the floor, gasping for air as shocks travelled through his body on an endless loop.  “Fucking useless,” Gloria huffed and then stomped out of the room.  Hours went by as his body rode the shockwaves, which eventually passed and left him completely drained, sprawled out on the floor.  The sun went down and Stiles closed his eyes, hoping to finally sleep after all his body had been through that day.

 

The door swung open and he groaned.  Why don’t they let me sleep?  Why are they doing this?  I just want to go home.  Where is everyone?

 

“Wow, rough day I take it.  Well, you are going to be absolutely no fun.  Maybe some food will cheer you up,” Aiden says, dragging him to his feet.  He couldn’t help the tiny excitement at the idea of food.  The Alpha escorted him down a different hallway and into some kind of main room.  All the other Alphas were there, seemingly just hanging out and eating dinner.  Deucalion and Kalli were snuggled up on a bench, as were Ethan and Gloria.  Her brother, the male witch, was lounging in a fucking hammock, snoozing away.  The Alpha that had way too many muscles darted to his feet when Aiden brought him in.

 

“The fuck are you doing?  Why is he out of his cell?” he shouted.  His voice was really deep, matching the whole macho-man thing he had going on.

 

“Gloria played too rough with my boy.  He needs food and water.  Can’t have him keeling over on us.  He’s human in case you forgot,” Aiden says.  Stiles raises a brow at the Alphas defensive tone and became even more suspicious when he was sat at a nice table with a cushioned chair.  A pair of handcuffs were then slapped on his wrists and locked to the table.  Yeah, I should’ve been suspicious.  “Okay, now I’m gonna go get you something yummy.  And I think my pack has a surprise for you.”

 

“No, you know, I’m not really that hungry.  And surprises are usually lame, especially coming from un-fun douchey werewolves,” he says, smiling and tugging at his cuffs.

 

“Now, now, play nice, baby.  I’ll be back soon,” Aiden says, laying a kiss on his cheek.  Stiles tried to duck, but yeah werewolf reflexes.  Aiden left the room then and Stiles looked around at the others, glaring at each and every one of them.

 

“So, Stiles is it?  The Alpha’s…what?  Play thing?  Boy toy?  Fuck buddy?” Ethan asks, making Gloria giggle on his lap.

 

“Nope, just Stiles.  Not the Alpha’s anything,” he says, examining his cuffs again.

 

“Settle down, children,” Deucalion says, feeding a grape to his mate.  Sickeningly romantic.  Who knew.  Doesn’t mean he’s any less of a freak though.  Kalli tilts her head as she munches on her fruit.  “It’s quiet.  Ennis, did you remember to feed the girl?” she asks.

 

“I don’t see why we’re even keeping her alive.  None of us even wanted her,” Ennis (apparently the giant muscle man) says.

 

“Because she’s got a hell of a lot of power, that’s why,” Gloria answers.  “But she has no idea how to use it and I don’t know enough about her powers to teach her.  Therefore, until we find her a teacher, she’s dangerous.  But eventually we can use her to our advantage.  Plus, my baby thought she was cute, right Ethan?” she asks.

 

“Damn straight.  Not that I’m getting anything out of her captivity since no one will let me near her.  Aiden gets all the boys he wants, but when Ethan wants some pussy, no you keep her from me and give her to Sir Sleeps Alot over there,” he grumbles, glaring at the sleeping witch in the hammock.  Gloria swats his chest playfully.

 

“You’re so bad, baby,” she giggles and Stiles has to look away as they start a heated make-out session.  I mean, really, their relationship is so fucked up.

 

“Whatever, I’ll feed the damn girl,” Ennis mutters.  He leaves and within minutes was back with a tray filled with a sandwich, apple, and bottle of water.  The Alpha stomps over to a door on the opposite side of the room and opens a small latch to slide the tray in.

 

“Let me out of here, you motherfuckers!” the girl shouts.

 

“Lydia?!” he screams, trying to pull away from the table.  He had been too tired to put together what girl they’d been talking about, but his heart was racing and he was fully awake and alert now.

 

“Stiles?!  Stiles, get me out of here!” she cries.  Oh my god, she’s crying.  They’ve broken Lydia Martin.  What the fuck were they doing to her?  He shouts for her again, but the Alpha shoves the tray inside and closes the latch, cutting off Lydia’s screams.  Stiles claws at his handcuffs, rubbing the skin raw as he franticly tries to reach her.  He doesn’t give up until Aiden returns and forces him to sit down again.

 

“Baby, didn’t I say to play nice?  Do you want this food or not?” he asks.  Stiles sits quietly, mind reeling from hearing Lydia’s voice after three days of complete Alpha innuendos. 

 

“Hold on, Aiden, no food yet.  We haven’t shown him his surprise yet,” Deucalion says, grinning.

 

“Oh, yes!  Stiles, you’ll be very pleased to know that we’re finally going to let you interact with your other imprisoned pack mates.  Well, except for the girl.  She doesn’t leave her cage,” Aiden says.  Deucalion motions for Ennis to pull some chain that was hanging from the ceiling.  A grinding sound echoed through the room and Stiles could only gape as two bodies were lowered from a hole in the ceiling.

 

“Oh my god,” he whispers.  The two wolves were hanging by their wrists by electric wires, exactly the same as Boyd and Erica had been.  Jackson looked dead already, just swinging from his ropes, eyes closed, skin pale where it wasn’t covered in blood.  Peter was awake, but looked like he’d been subjected to the world’s worst torture, blood dripping from deep slashes along his chest.

 

“Jackson stopped being fun months ago, but Peter, now he’s a hoot.  I’m thinking I may want to fuck him too,” Aiden says, eyes cascading over the older wolf’s body.

 

“Well, have at it, sweetheart.  That is, if you think you can handle me,” Peter says, eyes flashing.  Aiden places a hand on Stiles’ thigh and grins, still looking at Peter.

 

“Oh yeah, he’s gonna be fun.  But you first, baby, you’re much younger,” he says, swiveling his attention back to Stiles.  He grimaced and pushed the Alpha’s hand off.

 

Aiden scoots closer and unwraps a turkey sandwich.  His stomach growls at the mere smell of it.  Stiles reaches for it, but the Alpha pulls it out of his reach.  “Hands in your lap,” he orders.  Stiles complies, confused and frustrated and starving.  The wolf tears off a small piece and holds it out to him.  “Open,” he says.  Stiles sighs, but opens his mouth for the food.  He smothers a moan of pure satisfaction of having something to eat when the food reaches his tongue.  The sandwich had turkey, cheese, lettuce, and mustard on white bread.  It was possibly the best thing he’d ever tasted.  He chewed slowly, savoring every bite.

 

“My, my, someone’s well trained,” Kalli says, smirking.  Stiles doesn’t even bother to glare at her, too focused on his food.  Before he noticed, the sandwich was finished and Aiden began feeding him grapes.  Looking around, he found all the Alphas watching him with interest.  Heat burned his cheeks as he caught Peter’s eyes, who actually looked so depressed he was about to start crying.  Well, I guess he won’t be getting us out of here then.  Stiles jumped when Aiden’s hand grazed up his thigh again.

 

“Push me away and I stop feeding you.  For good,” he mutters.  Stiles counts his breathing as he chews on grapes.  This isn’t happening.  No one’s touching you, you’re fine.  There are no creepy Alpha’s watching you eat, nor is there any dead friend hanging five feet away, or sad wolf who’s beginning to claw at his chains, holy shit.  Peter had gone into a complete frenzy, tearing open the skin on his wrists as he tried to break free.

 

“We’re starting early today, I see,” Deucalion says, laughing.  “Ennis, get them out of my sight, they’re pathetic,” he says.  The Alpha reverses the chain and his pack mates ascend back into the ceiling.  Peter growls loudly and Stiles can still here the chains rattling as he tries to get free.   We are so fucked.  Aiden feeds him the final grape, his thumb lingering on Stiles’ lip.  The wolf pushes in, tracing his bottom teeth with a glimmer in his eyes.  Stiles, just out of pure spite, bites down on the finger as hard as he can.  The man yelps and pulls away, irises burning red with fury.  He backhands the boy so hard, that Stiles’ ears ring and his eyes feel like they’re about to burst out of his head.

 

“That wasn’t very nice, Stiles,” he growls.  Aiden rips the handcuffs off, drags him to his feet, down the hall, and throws him back into the room.  Stiles had hoped he’d be angry enough to just lock him up for the rest of the night. 

 

I thought we’d stopped hoping for things.

 

The wolf slams the door closed and pounces before Stiles can get off the floor.  Aiden pins his arms above his head and straddles his hips.

 

“Stiles, I don’t see why you feel the need to be so rude to me.  I’ve been nothing but kind to you.  I could’ve easily marked that perfect body of yours by now, like this for example,” he says, pushing his hand up Stiles’ shirt.  Stiles fights to get away when he feels claws prick at his skin.  The Alpha chuckles, easily keeping him under control as he scratches down Stiles’ chest and stomach.  Stiles has no choice but to scream in pain and stare into the red irises above him.  It was so different from when he hurts himself with his blade.  He was in complete control when he cut into his skin, but he had absolutely none in this situation.

 

“I was right.  Your screams are just as enticing as your scent,” Aiden whispers.  “I can’t wait to have you screaming my name, baby.”  The man leans down and pecks him on the lips before lifting off of him and leaving the room.  Stiles rolls over, clutching his stomach as the wounds continue to bleed.  He doesn’t know how long he lies there, staring at the wall, but eventually the sun hits him in the face, waking him from his shocked state.  Lifting his shirt, he examines the scratches and is relieved to find that they’ve mostly stopped bleeding.  None looked very deep, but they still hurt like hell.

 

Stiles sprawls out on his back and glares at the ceiling.  He doesn’t move to get up when the door opens, nor does he say anything when Gloria gives her creepy ass cheerful morning greeting.

 

Who did they think they were?  What gave them the right to do this to him?  Just because they were stronger and more powerful, they thought they could just push the puny human around?  Well, fuck them!  I am not they’re play thing!

 

“Then prove it!” Gloria suddenly shouts.  Stiles blinks and looks around him, realizing at some point he’d gotten up and started yelling right in the witch’s face.  The woman hadn’t backed away, even though he was mere inches away from her, breathing hard like he’d gone ten rounds in a fighting ring.  Whenever he’d been in this situation with Derek, he’d wanted to finish the screaming match with rough kisses and pushy hands (though he’s never been brave enough to do it), but with her…he just wants to hit her.

 

Stiles swings, aiming for her pretty face, but she easily ducks and slides away.

 

“That’s it, fuel that rage inside you,” she says, grinning.  Stiles barely hears the words, continuing to swing his fists at her.  She laughs and zaps his hands away with her magic.  The stinging sensations just make him angry, heart pounding as he advances on her.  The witch’s smile falters as she backs away from him, electricity thrumming at her fingertips.  Stiles throws punches wildly, too exhausted to aim right.  A foreign vibration rushes through him and with the next punch, the witch goes flying backward into the wall.  Stiles would have been startled by it, but he was too focused on the fact that he actually was able to hurt her somehow.  His fists swung through the air and he continued to knock her down again and again until he was right on top of her.  Once close enough, he catches her by the arms and pins her to the wall.  He enjoyed the fear in her eyes.

 

“Why is it that you seem to need me so much?!” he bellows.  “You could have just killed me by now!  Why toy with me?  Why try so hard to unleash these powers you seem to think I have?!” he asks.  Gloria looked taken aback by his outburst, but quickly covered it with a glare.

 

“What makes you think I need you?  No one needs you, Stiles,” she says.  She hits him hard in the chest with her palm and Stiles only has time to blink at her glowing eyes, before he’s down on his knees and gasping for air.  His skin felt blistered and he coughed as he sucked in air.  Gloria crouches down, her neon orange irises glaring at him.  She grabs his chin, making him face her.  Her touch burns, but nowhere near as painful as the hand she’d had on his chest a moment ago.

 

“You may want to start thinking before you speak, darling,” she whispers and then shoves him away roughly.  She strolls out the door then, leaving Stiles panting on the floor.  They’d apparently been fighting for way longer than he’d thought because the sun was beginning to set again, marking the end of his fourth day in captivity.  He groans as he sits up to pull his shirt off, the fabric stinging his wounds.  On top of the claw marks, there’s a hand shaped burn mark right in the middle of his chest.  Fucking fantastic.  The door opens at that moment because that’s just typical of his life.  Aiden freezes in the doorway, eyes skating over his naked torso.  Stiles scrambles to pull his shirt back on, but the wolf rushes in and pins him roughly to the wall.

 

“Stiles, you’ve been holding out on me.  I knew you were pretty, but I never expected this,” he whispers.  He holds Stiles’ arms up near his head against the wall, eyes shining as he looks him over.  Stiles tries to summon that rage from earlier and succeeds, but nothing happens.  “Are you trying to use your new found powers on me?  That might be fun, spice this up even more.  Here, let me help you,” Aiden says.

 

The man dives forward, sucking on Stiles’ neck.  He kicks his legs, aiming for the wolf’s shins and trying to jam a knee into his groin, but the Alpha pins his legs to the wall with his own.

 

He continues to strain against it, not wanting this man’s hands let alone his mouth anywhere near him.  The wolf pulls him from the wall and he’s thrown to the floor, grunting when the heavy weight lands on top of him.  Stiles never stops struggling, even though he knows it won’t get him anywhere.  Aiden traces his tongue down his chest, licking over the scratches he’d given him earlier.  This cannot be happening.  What’s the point of having powers if I can’t use them against this fucker?  Why is this happening?  Why does he even want me?  I’m nothing special.

 

“Do you realize you’re talking out loud?” Aiden chuckles, still licking over his wounds.  Stiles huffs at him and once again tries to kick him off, but he predictably gets nowhere.  The wolf doesn’t let up for a good hour, Stiles counting every second as he breathes through it and pretends it’s not happening.  When it finally stops, the room is pitch black and Aiden looks down at him with his red eyes.  He strokes his cheek and presses a kiss to his lips.  Stiles flinches away from it on instinct, which gets him another slap.

 

“My work is done for tonight.  Be a good boy next time and I won’t be so rough, okay baby?” he asks, patting his cheek.  Stiles doesn’t give an answer and the wolf doesn’t seem to be expecting one because he strolls out of the room.  Once the door shuts, Stiles darts to his feet, pulling his shirt back on.  He runs at the wall where the window is, jumping as high and hard as he can for it.  It’s still a few feet out of his reach.  Stiles continues his meager escape attempt until the sun rises and the door opens.  He doesn’t turn around, just simply leans his head against the wall as he catches his breath.

 

“Hello, I’ll be watching you today,” a voice says.  Stiles sighs and glances behind him, finding the male witch lounging against the wall, arms crossed.

 

“Awesome,” Stiles mutters, finally turning around to face him.  “And you are?”

 

“Keith, Gloria’s brother.  We decided to switch today.  She’s with the girl,” he says.  His face literally had no expressions while he talked.  It was unnerving.  “My only job is to make sure you stay awake.  So, do that and I won’t hurt you,” he adds, then pulls a magazine from his back pocket.  He starts to flip through it, seemingly bored with Stiles’ presence.  Fine by me.  No Gloria means no fire.  No fire means no pain for Stiles.

 

“Yes, she does love her fire tricks,” Keith says, making Sties realize he’d spoken out loud once again.  He paces the room after that, ignoring the tilting of his vision and his complete inability to focus.  The only good thing that was coming out of this was that he was so exhausted that he barely noticed when he started going through withdrawal again.  It hadn’t been pleasant those first two days, but now it was beginning to wear off or whatever.

 

The witch begins to whistle some upbeat tune and Stiles unconsciously sways to it as he walks around the room.  It eventually morphs into something familiar.  He freezes, the tune bouncing around in his head.  It was that Beethoven song, the one from his mother’s music box.  Stiles glances at the witch, but his foot was still tapping along to whatever rock ballad was in his head.  It’s all in my head, you’re not really hearing it, just ignore it.

 

“But honey, I told you to listen to it whenever you felt lost,” a voice says.  Stiles spins around, but no one’s there.  He’d heard her, he knows he did.  She’s dead, you idiot, you didn’t hear her.  Stiles takes deep breaths, ignoring whatever the fuck just happened.  The witch raised a brow at him, but didn’t say anything.  He began to whistle again.

 

Lullaby and good night, it is time for sleep…

 

“No, no, no, not again,” he mutters, covering his ears.

 

“What’s the matter, kid?  You don’t like my music?” Keith asks, still flipping through his magazine.

 

“Metallica sucks,” a familiar voice rings out.  Stiles whirls again and this time finds Scott lying on the floor, repeatedly throwing a bouncy ball into the air and catching it.

 

“Scott?” he breathes.

 

“No, Keith.  You need to get your hearing checked,” the witch grumbles.  Stiles glances at him briefly and when he looks back to the floor, Scott is gone.

 

“Oh, that’s good.  He’s not real.  You’re probably not even real,” Stiles mutters, rubbing his eyes.  The witch glances up and frowns.

 

“Maybe we should feed you again,” he says and then knocks on the door.  The latch that hadn’t been used since he’d been here opens and a tray is pushed through.  Keith grabs it and carries it over to him.  He’s oddly nice, I’m beginning to wonder if he’s real.  “Eat,” he orders, shoving the tray at him.  “And quit talkin’ to yourself,” he says and then clips Stiles on the back of the head.  Nope, definitely real.

 

Stiles sits in the corner, quickly unwrapping the sandwich and diving into it.  It was delicious once again.  He picks the bottle of water up and is about to uncap it, when an arrow punctures it and drenches his sandwich.

 

“What the fuck?” he asks, looking around.  A knife is pressed to his throat, making him drop the now empty bottle.

 

“How’s it going, Stiles?” a voice purrs into his ear.  Allison, because of course.  My mind is really enjoying this hallucination thing.  “What makes you think I’m not real?  I finally have a chance to finish what I started,” she snarls.  Before he can react, the blade slices across his throat, making him choke as blood spills out.  He gasps for air and closes his eyes.  1 in, 2 out, 1 in, 2 outWhen he reopens his eyes, Allison is gone and his bottle of water had been untouched.  He quickly drinks from it, ignoring the curious glances the witch is giving him.  There are thankfully no more surprises as he eats the rest of his food.  He remains tucked into the corner until the sun sets and Keith leaves.

 

It’s been five days.  Why has no one come for me?  Maybe they really are dead.  Or kidnapped too.  I wonder if Lydia and Peter are still alive.  It’s getting dark again.  Maybe Aiden won’t show tonight.

 

Stiles paces around the room again, stumbling in the dark.  He eventually just lies in the middle of the floor on his back and stares at nothing.  Hours go by with no one bothering him, so he rolls over hoping to finally sleep.

 

He’s woken again a few minutes later by a hand sliding along his waist.  Stiles pries his eyes open when lips are pressed against his and he begins to pull away, but stops when he notices stubble.  Aiden doesn’t have stubble.

 

“I’ve missed you, Stiles,” Derek whispers.  Derek?  When did he get here?  Did they capture him?  “I rescued you last night.  Don’t you remember?” he asks, his hand sliding up Stiles’ chest.

 

“No, I don’t remember.  I don’t-”

 

Derek shushes him with another kiss, rough and passionate.  Stiles reaches up and yes that’s stubble.  The Alpha pushes him onto his back, half laying over him.  Hands stroke over his body, touching him all over and he can’t help but shiver when Derek says “I’ve missed you so much.  I never stopped looking for you.  Never,” he growls.  Stiles looks up, trembling when red irises greet him.  But Derek’s an Alpha too, so it’s fine, it’s normal, it’s just Derek.  He flinches slightly when the wolf bites a little too hard on his bottom lip.  The man climbs fully on top of him, pinning his arms down.  I didn’t think he’d be this rough.  I don’t like it.

 

“Derek?” he asks, pushing at the man’s chest slightly.

 

“You can call me whatever you want, baby.”

 

Stiles freezes and then can’t help the choked sob that escapes him.  He pushes at the Alpha, trying to get free.

 

“Oh, come on, Stiles.  We were making such good progress.  I thought you were finally ready, honey,” Aiden whispers.  “I don’t mind if you pretend I’m him.”

 

“Get off, get off me!” he shouts.  The wolf laughs and cups the erection he was quickly losing.

 

“Don’t worry.  I’ll get you to respond again.  But the sun’s coming up and Gloria has a big day planned for you, so maybe tomorrow night,” he says.  Aiden leaves once again and Stiles curls over on his side and just cries.  He stays like that for hours, his tears eventually running out.  Stiles doesn’t notice when Gloria walks in.  At least he doesn’t until she inflicts agonizing pain on him again.  He screams and begs for her to stop, but the electric current shocks his body for hours, never letting up.  They’re not coming for me, he thinks just as he passes out.

 

When he wakes again, it’s dark out and he can barely move.  He listens to his breathing for a while, until shouting erupts from outside his door.  Hope rises in him, giving him enough strength to crawl towards the door and bang on it.  The shouting is joined by wolves growling and he can hear the scuffling of a fight.  Stiles bangs on the door harder, praying that his pack had finally found him.

 

It’s wrenched open a minute later and his heart drops.  The thing standing in front of him was definitely not a friend.  Wolf-monkey, just fucking great.  The creature hisses at him and yanks him off of the floor, throwing him over its shoulder.  Stiles struggles not to vomit as the creature bounds off down the hallway.  Once in the main room, he sees more wolf-monkeys battling the Alphas.  The one holding him jumps onto the ceiling where a giant hole had been ripped through it.  The creature stays put, watching the fight from up above with Stiles dangling from his back.  The wolf-monkeys were much faster, but nowhere near as strong as the Alphas.  Two of them died within minutes at the hands of Kalli and Ennis.  Peter was in a far corner, shielding Jackson from view.  Holy shit, Jackson’s alive, I can’t believe it.  He looks like shit, but he’s alive.

 

The two witches suddenly appeared, being thrown from the cell Lydia had been caged in.  Keith grabs his sister and takes off at a run.

 

“Run!  She’s out, she’s out, fucking run!” he screams, dragging his wounded sister out the door.  Deucalion snaps his attention towards the cell with a grimace.

 

“Well who the fuck triggered her?!” he yells.  Stiles gapes as his friend finally emerges from the room.  Her skin was glowing, a white aura all around her and her eyes were no longer the green he’d always admired, but silver.  Her face was completely devoid of emotion.  She brought her hands up, palms inward as they caught flame.  Holy fuck, she looks terrifying.

 

“Kalli, forget these things!  We’ve gotta run!” Deucalion shouts, pulling his mate away.  Lydia’s entire body suddenly bursts into flames, consuming everything in her path.  She’s on fire, yet still alive and targeting people.  Holy. Shit.

 

Ethan and Aiden attack Peter in the corner, easily knocking him down.  Ethan snatches up Jackson and bolts out the door, his brother quickly abandoning the fight with Peter and following.  Stiles cringes when his wolf-monkey screeches, alerting his last remaining creature that it was time to go.  The thing, along with Ennis, don’t make it out before a blinding white light erupts from Lydia, setting most of the room on fire.  The creature screams as it burns, but is quickly drowned out by Ennis’ howls of agony.  The light show abruptly ends, Lydia returning to normal and collapsing onto the floor.

 

The last thing he sees before being pulled away is Peter running to her, yelling her name.

 

Deucalion

 

“We have to go back!  We can’t just leave him there!” Kalli shouts.  Deucalion ignores her as they trudge further into the city.  His mate had always been about keeping the pack together and staying strong as a unit.  What the fuck did she expect him to do?  That little redheaded bitch torched the fucking building to the ground.  There was no way Ennis was still alive after that.  This plan was falling apart already and it had just begun.  If Ethan hadn’t grabbed the boy before leaving, they’d have absolutely no leverage left.  And what the fuck were those things that barged in?  They hadn’t been very strong, but they were quick on their feet.  Deucalion whirls on Aiden with a hard glare.

 

“You were supposed to be watching him.  How did those things manage to get passed you, huh?  It took him right out from under you!” he yells.

 

“Would you just calm the fuck down?  It’s not a problem.  We’ll just track those fuckers down, rip them to shreds, and I’ll have my boy back in no time,” he says, shrugging like it would be that easy.

 

“You better pray it’s that easy, Aiden.  Or your ass is mine,” he growls in the younger wolf’s face.  The man rolls his eyes and shoulders passed him, continuing his stroll down the deserted street.

 

“What about the other witch?” Gloria asks.

 

“What about her?  I doubt anyone survived that fire bomb, least of all her.  I mean, come on, her body basically exploded,” Ethan answers, hefting the unconscious beta higher onto his shoulder.

 

“We can’t know that for sure.  No one actually saw her die, right?” she asks.  They all look at each other, no one having an answer.

 

“So, we should go back and make sure she’s dead.  And in the meant time retrieve Ennis,” Kalli says.  Deucalion sighs and turns to her.

 

“We can’t go back right now.  Once we find another building to stash the beta in, then we can go back.  Understand?” he asks, his patience wearing thin.  He knew the minute her face darkened, that it was the wrong thing to say.

 

“Whatever you say, Duke,” she answers.  Duke or sometimes The Duke was the pack’s funny little nickname for him.  Kalli only used it when she was pissed off, but he really couldn’t care less right now.  They may not have voted for him to be the leader, but no one else had stepped up, so he took the power and ran with it.  He’d worked hard to form this power pack and if they suddenly thought he wasn’t fit to rule, well then they’d have to challenge him for it.

 

“Good, now let’s keep moving,” he says, turning away from her.  He could feel her unsettled energy coursing through him, but ignored it.  She could be mad all she wanted, he’d just have to make it up to her later.

 

They walked the streets for a few hours, eventually finding an old abandoned house across town from the Hale pack.  Derek and his beta’s would never expect them to be so nearby, yet far enough as to not be detected.  It was a perfect spot.

 

“We’ll stay here.  Bring the beta inside and tie him up,” he orders.

 

“With what?  All our chains and shit just melted away,” Ethan grumbles.

 

“Then get creative,” he barks.  The young Alpha scowls at him, but does as he’s told.  His brother follows him inside to assist.

 

“As for going back, we shouldn’t all go.  Keith, Gloria, handle it,” he says.

 

“The hell we’re going back.  Why don’t you send your precious wolves out?” Gloria snaps.  Deucalion grins and steps towards her, ignoring how tense Keith gets.

 

“That’s just it, princess.  My wolves are precious, but you are not.  Do not forget who’s in charge here.  We are not betas or undertrained Alphas that you can push around.  Your magic is useless against us, my darling.  So how about you and your brother do as you’re told for once,” he says, voice vibrating.  The two witches instantly submit to him yet again.  They were so weak, such pathetic little creatures.  They had underestimated the Hale witches, therefore this entire situation was on them, not the Alphas.  They are at fault here, not me.

 

The two linked hands and prepared to transport themselves back to the warehouse in that strange magical way they did.

 

“If the girl is alive, I expect you to bring her to me,” he orders.  They nod and disappear in a white cloud of a feather like substance.

 

“What do you want with the witch?” Kalli asks, raising a brow at him.  Really?  Jealousy after all these years?  Whatever.

 

“She’s powerful.  If Derek gets her back, she could cause a real problem,” he answers, pulling his mate into his arms.  “I’m sorry for being rude earlier.  I just wanted to keep you safe,” he says.  It was complete bullshit, but he says it to placate her violent temper.  She smiles and reaches up to kiss him passionately.  Deucalion lifts her up and she wraps her legs around him as he carries her into the house.

 

“Where are you taking me, love?” she giggles.

 

“I believe we have some time before the witches return.  I plan to devour that delicious body of yours yet again, my darling,” he says, bringing her to an empty room upstairs.  He lies her down on the dusty floorboards and commences to unveil her, soaking in her beauty.

 

They explore each other as they listen to the pained howling from the beta downstairs.

 

Derek

 

The Alpha glares down at the property line, not understanding why the scent trail just ends there.  It’s like the enemy and his missing pack mates stopped existing or something.  He’d followed their scents for hours for it to only lead him to this spot, with no one here.  Allison, who’d been silently following him through the forest the entire night, cautiously joins him.  She frowns in confusion, looking at the ground as he continued to scowl at it.

 

“Why’d you stop?” she asks.

 

“The scent ends here,” he answers.

 

“What do you mean ends?  Like, they disappeared?  You don’t mean they’re-”

 

“No, they’re not dead.  But the trail ends here.  The witches probably covered their tracks.”

 

Allison nods and stares down the street.  She had to squint to see anything in the darkness, making Derek wonder how she even followed him this far.  She must be a better hunter than I thought.  It was impressive…I guess.  Derek begins to walk further, deciding he’d just search through the whole goddamned town if he had to.

 

“Where are you going?” Allison asks.  Derek raises a brow at her and gestures towards the town.  “And how are you going to find them?  The town may be small, but it’s not that small, Derek,” she huffs.  His name coming from her lips has his skin crawling.  I don’t like it.  At all.  Why is she even here?

 

“Why are you here again?” he asks.  Allison glares at him, fidgeting with her crossbow.

 

“I’m not gonna just let Lydia and Stiles be mauled to death.  You seem to think they’re still alive, so I’m going to help find them.  Though honestly, I can’t see how you even know that,” she says.  Derek sighs and walks passed her, back into the forest.  He doesn’t bother to answer her, but she’s surprisingly persistent.  The huntress follows him and he keeps careful track of her movements in case she decides to pull that trigger.  Halfway through the preserve, the sun is finally rising and she jogs to reach his side.  He glances at her, not liking the sudden closeness, but doesn’t say anything.

 

“But really, how do you know they’re alive?  Is that a wolf thing?” she asks.

 

“Can’t you ask Scott these questions?”

 

“Yes, but he’s not here right now,” she says, annoyed.  Derek glances at her again, to find her watching the trees as they walk, not even remotely concerned by the supernatural creature at her side.  Strange.

 

“Yes, it’s a wolf thing,” he mutters.  She looks at him then and he avoids her eyes, staring somewhere near the top of her head.  The girl’s irises were the same color as her aunts.  She nods and they lapse into silence.  After an hour or so, there’s a wrenching in his chest, making him stop mid-stride, eyes flashing.

 

“What?  What is it?” Allison asks, weapon raised, eyes scanning the woods.  Derek has to breathe for a minute, shoving down the rage that Peter’s pain had brought to the surface.  His uncle was already being tortured and they’d only been missing for about six hours.  “Derek?” Allison calls.  He looks at her and shakes his head.

 

“It’s nothing.  Let’s get back to the house,” he mutters.  She looks him over for a minute but eventually motions for him to lead the way.  Her fingers were still tight around her weapon, uncertainty rolling through her.

 

“Was that…I mean, Scott says he can feel when I’m hurt.  Is that what that was?  Did you sense something?” she asks.

 

“Yeah, but it’s fine, he’ll heal,” Derek answers.  He hated the way that sounded so unsure.  But I don’t know that for sure.  Peter is still weak from his resurrection.  I have no idea how much he can handle.  Allison makes a little ‘oh’ sound and then goes silent again.  They reach the house a moment later, thankfully cutting off any more questions she may have had.

 

Danny had finally woken while they were out and was testing out his new heightened senses.  He looked awed at it all, but looked slightly afraid when Derek walked in.  The Alpha nods at him, Isaac, and Boyd briefly before moving to the other room.  I can’t deal with having another beta right now.  And he’s technically not even mine.  He belongs to one of the others, unless he chooses to be my beta.

 

Chris and Scott are looking over a map of the town, throwing each other frustrated glances.

 

“Did you find anything?” Scott asks.

 

“Does it look like I found anything?” Derek snaps.  Scott glares at him, while the hunters just tense at his tone.  Chris eventually clears his throat in the awkward silence.

 

“Moving on.  The Sheriff went to the station to put together a search party.  Deaton and his friend left to do some witch thing they wouldn’t explain.  Melissa is still sleeping and Scott and I were just going over on how to best search the town,” he says, throwing Scott a tense smile.  The wolf scowls, but doesn’t comment.

 

“Not going well I take it,” Allison says.  “Dad, why don’t you go sit with Ms. McCall until she wakes up,” she offers.  Her father crosses his arms, raising a brow at her.

 

“I think I’d be of more help in here,” he says.  Allison glares at him, surprising Derek with the coldness of it.

 

“That wasn’t a suggestion,” she says.  Scott awkwardly looks to the table, fiddling with a book he had opened.  Derek just watches curiously, wondering how Chris would react.  The man’s face closes off, that mask that so many of the hunters seemed to have pulling over him.  Allison doesn’t even bat an eye at it, her expression clearly expecting him to obey.

 

“Are you telling me you’ll be leading the search with the wolves?” Chris asks.

 

“Yes, that is what I’m saying,” she answers.  Her father’s expression changes in an instant, something like pride forming.

 

“Very well then.  Let me know when it’s time to hunt,” he says, a light behind his eyes.  Allison nods to him with a small smile before he leaves the room.  He’s letting his teenage daughter be in charge?  That seems like a bad plan.  But to Derek’s utter shock, Allison dives right in to the problem, marking off areas where the enemy was most likely to be, writing notes in the margins, and ordering Scott to fetch her supplies.  She’s clearly done this before.  Oh, right, probably when she was hunting me.

 

Derek frowns at the thought, but tries to keep up with her process.  He had to admit she was pretty good at her job, but the amount of knowledge she seemed to have about werewolf behavior unnerved him.  Knows too much for her own good, or for Scott’s own good rather.  He still hadn’t forgotten how much of a threat she could be.  After a while, he retreated to leaning against a wall and watched the two work.  Something had been feeling off for the last twenty minutes and he couldn’t put his finger on it.  He figured it out an hour later, when the feeling ratchets up about ten notches.

 

Derek tenses as waves of fear and pain travel through the connection.  His vision shifts back and forth, the wolf wanting out to rip whoever was hurting his new pack mate to shreds.  He didn’t even feel when his claws snapped out and jammed into his biceps because he was picking up way more than he usually does from human members.  Lydia’s screams were distant, but he could still hear them in his head.

 

“Derek?” Isaac calls.  The boy walked into the room, concern all over his face, clearly sensing his Alpha’s distress.  Derek takes a breath, focusing on the room and shoving the girl’s pain filled screams out of his head.

 

“Was it Peter again?” Allison asks tentatively.

 

“Was what Peter again?  What’s happening?” Scott asks, looking between the two in confusion.

 

“No, it wasn’t Peter,” Derek mumbles.  Allison’s face falls and she opens her mouth to ask, but Derek cuts her off.  “You two keep working,” he says and then hastily leaves the room.  Isaac wisely does not follow him as he makes his way onto the porch to stare at the tree line.  I’m back at square one.  Hoping my pack mates come stumbling into view.  But they won’t this time.

 

He stays there until night fall, letting out an aggravated sigh as Chris eventually joins him.  The hunter had picked the exact moment when Lydia’s screams started again.  Derek didn’t move, not wanting to provoke the man with claws or fangs.  He carefully hides the unwanted claws in his jacket pockets.

 

“Glaring at the trees isn’t going to help much,” Chris says.  The man leans against a post and decides it’s a good idea to just stare at him.  Yes, because I wasn’t stressed out enough.  Derek holds perfectly still as Peter’s presence makes itself known again, adding to Lydia’s storm.  The wolf claws at the surface, making his vision shift again.  The hunter tenses as the Alpha’s eyes turn red, but surprisingly doesn’t move for his weapon.  Derek rides out the vibrations from his pack mates, clenching his jaw tight to force back the fangs that were poking into his gums.  It lasts for a few moments, making Chris fidget when Derek’s eyes don’t turn back right away.

 

The situation reminds him of his first real encounter with the hunter, that night they cornered him at the gas station.  If I could control myself around him then, I can do it now.  Just focus.  Push all of it away; Lydia, Peter, Chris.  All of it.  It was easier said than done, but he manages it eventually.  When the screams fade inside his head, he lets out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.

 

“I’m gonna search the woods,” he says and winces slightly when his voice comes out distorted still.

 

“Thought you already did that?” Chris asks.  Derek shrugs and heads down the steps.  “Mind if I join?”

 

Derek doesn’t answer, hoping the hunter got the message of yes I fucking mind.  He already had to deal with one hunter this morning and he didn’t need another tonight.

 

Goddamn it, he’s following me.  Hunters don’t get non-verbal messages at all.  I thought the hint was pretty fucking clear, but obviously not.  Derek turns on him, glaring.

 

“Yes, I mind,” he growls.  Chris sighs, finger on the trigger of the gun he’d apparently pulled.  At least it’s not aimed at my head for once.

 

“Look, if this is gonna work, you need to meet me halfway here,” Chris says.

 

“No, actually I don’t.”

 

“I just spent a night in a house full of wolves because you convinced my daughter it was safer.  Which it wasn’t, by the way.”

 

“I am not responsible for you or your daughter.”

 

“The hell you aren’t!  You’re supposed to be this big bad Alpha and yet somehow the enemy was able to barge right in the front door!”

 

“Well where the fuck were you when it all went down?!”

 

“I was protecting my daughter!  Like you were supposed to protect your pack!”

 

“I know that!  I didn’t protect them and they’re gone.  It’s my fucking fault and I know, alright?!” Derek yells.  Chris stares at him for a minute, but Derek looks away, not believing he just admitted that out loud.  Allison and Scott join them then, walking into the tense silence.

 

“What was all the yelling about?” Allison asks, looking between them.  Scott has some sort of pitying look on his face aimed at Derek, making him realize the beta probably heard everything.

 

“It’s, uh…not important,” Chris mutters.  “So where are we looking first?” he asks, turning to his daughter.  Allison gives Derek one last curious glance, before pulling out her map.

 

“There are caves at the far side of the reserve that we haven’t looked in yet, so I figured we could start there,” she answers.  Derek doesn’t hesitate to take off in that direction, the others following suit.  It’s a bit of a hike and it’s getting dark, but they can’t waste time.  After about an hour, Scott slides up to Derek’s side, trying to be stealthy, but failing miserably.

 

“Have you…um…do you know if they’re alright?” the boy asks.

 

“They’re alive,” Derek says.

 

“Yeah, I knew that, but…I can’t really tell if Stiles is…I mean that’s really only ever worked with Allison.  So…is he okay?” Scott asks.  Derek’s connection with Stiles had been full of fear, but not pain.  It had been surprisingly quiet, being smothered by Peter and Lydia.

 

“He’s fine.  I don’t think they’ve hurt him,” he answers quietly.

 

“Good, that’s good.  But…someone has been hurt?  You can tell that?” he asks.  Derek nods.  “Well who and how bad?”

 

Derek sighs, getting irritated by all the questions.  “You don’t want to know, Scott.”

 

The young wolf stops and glares at him.  “No, don’t do that.  I am here to help.  Lydia is my friend too and Peter…well, okay, he’s kind of creepy, but I wouldn’t just let him die, alright?  Because he means something to you, and you mean something to both Stiles and Isaac, and they matter to me, so stop with all the ‘on a need to know basis’ crap.  Stop pushing me out when I’m trying to fucking help you,” he snaps.

 

“Fine, you really want to know, Scott?  I haven’t been able to tell if Jackson is even still alive.  The Alpha’s have been ripping Peter apart for the last 24 hours!  I don’t even know what the hell they’re doing to Lydia because I can’t hear anything but her screaming!  And Stiles is terrified out of his mind and I can’t fucking find him!  He trusted me to keep him safe and I didn’t.  Are you happy now?  Does knowing that make it all better for you?!” he shouts.  The hunters had caught up to them by then and were awkwardly trying to pretend they weren’t listening.

 

“No, nothing can make this better, Derek!  But that wasn’t my point.  If you lose control, we’re all fucked, so I need you to realize that you are not alone in this!  You can trust me, okay?”

 

“I did trust you, Scott!  And what good did it do?  You went behind my back and made a deal with Gerard-”

 

“He threatened my mom!  What the hell else was I supposed to do?!”

 

“You were supposed to trust me back.  I was your Alpha!  You should have told me and I would have helped you!  Or better yet, you should have never lied and said you were in my pack.  Those words obviously don’t mean anything to you, but I had finally thought I got the ally I’d always wanted.  So, tell me Scott, how you expect me to trust you?!” Derek asks.  Silence follows his second outburst of the night.  Goddamn it, everything is a mess with him gone.  I don’t know who to talk to, I don’t know who to trust, and I don’t know how to do any of this.  Derek takes a breath and backs out of Scott’s space, which he’d seriously invaded during his rant.  “Just forget it.  Let’s keep going,” he mumbles and walks off.

 

No one speaks as they search the caves.  They spend hours moving through them, but find nothing.  When the sun rises, they retreat back into the preserve.  It’s officially the third day that the three pack mates have been missing, but no one dares mention it.  Halfway through the forest, both Derek and Scott freeze, heads snapping up and eyes glowing.  Allison takes it in and assesses the situation quickly.

 

“Stiles,” she sighs.  The girl holds Scott’s hand, grounding him.  There is nothing to ground Derek.  His link to reality, his anchor to humanity isn’t here.  He’s gone, someone’s hurting him, I need him, I need to find him.

 

“Derek, we’ll find him, I promise.  Hey, I need you to focus, come on.”

 

The Alpha is surprised to find the voice belonging to Chris and is even more surprised to find himself obeying.  Great, I’m letting hunters rule my life now, that’s fucking awesome.  But it worked, so…whatever.  Derek ignores all the awkward tension in the air and continues towards his house.  The three of them give him much needed space when they return and he barricades himself in his room for the rest of the night.  There’s a moment when both Stiles and Lydia panic at the same time and he wishes he knew what was happening.

 

Derek sighs as there’s a brief moment of relief from Stiles, but it’s soon clouded over with an intense rage from Peter.  Why can I feel them so clearly?  It wasn’t like this with Boyd, Erica, or Jackson.  The wolf flinches when Stiles is hurt again and then has to dig his claws into the mattress as Stiles’ screams reach him for the first time.  It lasts only for a few minutes, but the pain lingers.  He stays awake all night, latching onto the pulsing vibrations coming from his pack mates.

 

Morning comes again and he marches downstairs, startling the sleeping betas.  Derek reaches the back room where the hunters are still sleeping and looks over the large map of the town.  He picks an area Allison had starred and grabs his keys from a shelf.  His car would get him there faster and it would definitely be more discreet than a werewolf running through the streets.  The Alpha turns, wanting to get there quickly, but is stopped by the woman in the doorway.

 

“Melissa…how are you feeling?” he asks.

 

“Um, strange, I suppose,” she answers.  She kept her distance, as if afraid of him.  “I don’t understand any of this.  You didn’t seem as…threatening before,” she mumbles.  Derek frowns at that.

 

“I’m…I don’t mean to scare you.  I won’t hurt you,” he says, shrugging.  The only people he wanted to hurt right now were the Alphas.  Plus, he’d never had any reason to think of even hurting her…well, okay, except that first instinct to bite her.  But he hadn’t bitten her.  Oh, that’s probably what it is.  “Melissa, what you’re feeling is normal.  I feel like a threat because technically I am.  But not to you…to your – your Alpha, I suppose,” he grumbles.

 

“But I thought you were my Alpha?” she asks tentatively.  Derek sighs, wishing he could just tell her that he was, but it’s not that simple.

 

“Talk to Scott.  He’ll explain it,” he answers, then brushes passed her.  Nice Derek, real nice.  I probably should have just explained myself, but there isn’t time right now.  And I need them back before I even consider having new betas.  He makes his way to his car, but is once again interrupted.

 

“Got room for one more?”  Boyd asks.

 

“No,” Derek snaps.  The boy’s shoulders fall and Derek sighs.  That didn’t come out right.  “I’m sorry,” he mumbles.  The beta looks surprised at the apology, but Derek had always liked Boyd, had trusted him since that night at the rave.  The kid hadn’t wanted to leave his Alpha behind, was going to stick by him even though he’d stopped healing.  That trust had been broken when the beta left, but Derek understood his reasons.

 

Derek motions for him to come closer, not even hiding the fact that he was checking him over for unhealed wounds.  He stills when he feels Boyd prodding at their connection and pushes it away on instinct, only to then let it back in.  He goes back and forth with it, not sure if he wants Boyd to know what’s happening inside him.

 

“Derek, I’m sorry I left,” the wolf says, eyes cast down.  That’s it, I can’t just leave him like this.  Derek opens the connection, wincing when Boyd finds all the insecurities he usually buries.  They’re both surprised to find Stiles being a prominent fixture inside his wolf, the animal wanting to curl around the boy and protect him.  Boyd frowns when he learns Isaac was considering leaving, but lately the beta had been warming up to the Alpha again.

 

“It…feels different than last time,” Boyd says.

 

“I hadn’t completely let you in last time.  I’m fixing that mistake now,” Derek responds.  “I trust you,” he adds.  Derek can feel the boy’s wolf leap at that.

 

“I won’t let you down this time.  I promise,” he says.  Derek nods and motions for the beta to get in the car.

 

“Hey, wait up!  We’re coming too,” Isaac calls, Danny trailing after him.

 

“You sure you’re ready for this?” he asks the new wolf.

 

“Lydia and Jackson are out there somewhere.  I’m not going to sit back and wait for them to die,” he says and climbs right into the back seat.  He’s brave, I’ll give him that.  Isaac crams into the back with him, leaving the passenger seat for Boyd.

 

“Derek,” Chris calls.  “We’ll follow you out.  Scott’s staying behind with Melissa,” he says.  Derek doesn’t give him an answer, still irritated with their argument earlier.  They head out, speeding through the streets and weaving around slow-moving cars.

 

I AM NOT THEY’RE PLAY THING!

 

The sudden screaming in his head had him jerking the wheel hard, driving them up onto the side of the road.  He hits the brakes, skidding to a halt in the grass.  The red SUV behind him had enough time to safely pull over and park.  Derek clenches the steering wheel as Stiles’ anger swam through him.   Anger was good, right?  At least he wasn’t being hurt…right?

 

“Derek, maybe I should drive,” Boyd offers.  The Alpha glances at him and shakes his head.

 

“No, I’m fine.  Everything’s fine,” he mumbles, stepping on the gas once again.  The faster we search, the faster we’ll find him.  He’ll be fine.

 

They arrive at the abandoned train station within ten minutes, with no more near-crashes.  Though Stiles’ voice had stopped, the fury had continued to ripple through him, but it was somehow comforting.

 

Stiles was fighting back.

 

“Can I ask what the hell that was?” Allison asks once everyone’s prowling around the station.

 

“No,” Derek answers.  The huntress rolls her eyes and stomps off further into the building.  They searched for hours, Derek ignoring the twinges that were coming from Peter.  Lydia had been quiet all day, but he wasn’t sure if that was a good thing.  She was still alive…just silent.  Something strange was happening with Stiles though.  The connection was all foggy and felt off somehow.  As if Stiles was growing, or spinning, or…fuck I have no idea.

 

Derek stands outside the station with the rest of the group, defeat on all their faces.  This was another dead end, another day wasted.  He’s about to ask what the next location is when the foggy connection suddenly becomes crystal clear, flooding him with anger and desperation.  It’s followed up minutes later with agony and the smell of burning flesh.

 

“Derek, focus!” Boyd shouts, shoving him against the Camaro.  The beta keeps a hand on him and pulls at their connection, dragging the Alpha’s attention to him.  “I know what’s happening and you need to shut it out.  It will tear you apart if you let it.  I didn’t have anything else to focus on when it was happening to her.  But you do.  Let us help you.  Let us pull you back until we find him,” he says.  He let the words sink in, realizing what his beta had already figured out.  My wolf recognizes Stiles as a potential mate.  The mere thought of it has terror rising inside him.  The only other person that had ever held mate potential for him had been Kate.  This can’t be happening, I didn’t want this to happen.  How did I not see the signs?  Yes, I want him, but I never thought…

 

“No, stop thinking about.  We don’t have time for you to lose it.  Stiles doesn’t have time,” Boyd says, jostling him out of his Kate-filled daze of fear.  Christ, he’s right, I have to pull myself together.  I’m the Alpha, not him.  He shouldn’t have to be pulling me up; it should be the other way around.

 

Derek stands straighter and brushes Boyd’s hand off.  He nods a silent thank you to his beta and then turns to the rest of the group.

 

“Where’s the next location?” he asks.  Allison pulls out her map and points to a run-down neighborhood a few blocks away.  They set off yet again, prowling between the houses in the dark.  This night is by far the worst for his uncle and Derek does as Boyd suggested and focuses on his beta instead.  The boy doesn’t leave his side during the search and the Alpha is grateful for it.  Lydia is still silent and Stiles…he isn’t sure.  It’s fear, anger, and maybe humiliation all bottled up into one.  He does his best to ignore it.

 

“There’s no on here,” Danny sighs and slumps onto the sidewalk.  Derek can only nod in agreement.  Failed, again.

 

“Alright, let’s head back.  Rest for a few hours,” he says.  The drive back is uneventful, which is a nice change.  When they return, Derek finds the Sheriff asleep on his couch, a concerned Melissa hovering over him.  The stench of alcohol is strong enough for even the humans to detect.

 

“Did he pass out?” Derek asks.  The woman nods, stroking the Sheriff’s head that’s in her lap.

 

“He’ll be fine.  Once he sleeps it off I plan to yell at him,” she grumbles, frowning at the sleeping man.  No one comments and eventually retreats to their own sleeping area.  They hadn’t had a pack pile since that first night.  Derek knew his betas had continued it, but he just couldn’t, not without Stiles.  The hunters had surprisingly stuck around, but kept to themselves in the back.  The Sheriff had slept here every night as well, curling up to Melissa on the couch as she continued to heal.  The Alpha withdrew to his bedroom upstairs each night, staring at the ceiling and clawing up his mattress as his connections flared.  Tonight was no different.

 

The next day followed mostly the same routine, the group going out into different locations and searching for hours with no results.  Derek’s head was far from quiet, Lydia making brand new sounds of pain and torture.  Peter was furious about something and Stiles was on the verge of a massive panic attack all day.  It was distracting, but Boyd helped him through it.  He really is a very good beta.  They continued searching well into the night, until Derek stopped right in the middle of the street.

 

GET OFF ME!

 

The Alpha froze as the cry echoes through his mind.  The sounds that followed it were so broken and desperate that even Boyd couldn’t distract him.  His beta pushed him into the car and brought him home, but he couldn’t focus on any of it.  He was in a complete daze as he listened to Stiles cry for hours.  Derek vaguely noticed the presence of the wolves and humans surrounding him, arranging themselves on the floor around him.  Boyd and Isaac were closest, he knew that much.

 

Night rolled into day, bringing a new horror with it.  The boy’s pain rivaled Lydia’s that day and Derek couldn’t take it.  He heard the concerned voices around him, but the wolf wanted out.

 

And he let it.

 

In his Alpha form, the screams weren’t as loud and the pain not as intense.  He wanted to roar and tear shit apart, but he didn’t have the energy.  The wolf whined and paced around the room, instincts letting him know that the fear in the room was because of him.  Derek glanced at his betas, who were still trying to reach out to him and whined again.  The hunters had drawn their weapons and Derek only snorted at them and gave them space.

 

“Allison, put that down.  He’s not going to hurt anyone,” Scott says.

 

“How can you be sure?  That shift didn’t exactly look controlled,” Chris says.  Isaac kneels on the floor and Derek gently nudges the hand he reaches out, but doesn’t move closer.

 

“No, it wasn’t controlled,” Boyd sighs.  “But it’s better for him like this,” he says.  The hunters reluctantly lower their weapons.  Allison has a curious look on her face and tugs on Scott’s sleeve.

 

“Am I allowed…I mean, can I…?” she asks, nodding towards the Alpha.

 

“I suppose.  But it’s really up to him.  He can still understand us, so just ask…I guess?” Scott says.  Derek watches as the huntress lays her crossbow on the floor and hesitantly approaches.  Chris quickly pulls her to a stop.

 

“What are you doing?” he asks, fear rolling off him.

 

“Well, he lets us near in human form.  I just want to see how he responds,” she says.  Her father sighs and the Alpha can see the same curiosity bubbling through him.

 

“Alright, just…let me go first.  If he so much as growls, you are not allowed near him.  Is that clear?” he asks.  The girl nods.  The wolf tenses as Chris approaches, but the man had left his pistol on the table so he didn’t really feel threatened.  When he stops in front of him, the two stare at each other, the wolf about the same height.  “You gonna bite if I touch you?” he asks, arms crossed.  Derek raises a brow at his tone, but shakes his head.  The hunter looks surprised by the movement, clearly not believing that Derek could still understand him.  He cautiously reaches a hand out and gently brushes over Derek’s shoulder.  The Alpha can’t help but let out a disgruntled huff, making Boyd chuckle.  Chris scowls at him and removes his hand.  “Fine.  Allison come here,” he says and steps aside.

 

The huntress strides forward and Derek backs away at first as he meets her eyes.  Allison stops and glances at Boyd.

 

“Um, just give him a minute.  You just…remind him of someone,” he says, careful not to utter her name.  Allison looks back to him, eyes wide in understanding.  Instead of the furious growl he’s expected those eyes to produce, a soft whine escapes him.  Well, that was embarrassing.  But I do know why it happened.  She may remind me of Kate, but it’s not actually her, and I don’t really want to harm Allison.  At least not at the moment, when she’s acting peacefully.

 

The girl comes closer and hesitantly reaches a hand out.  Derek stands still and watches her expression.  When she makes contact, she rifles her fingers through the fur on his shoulder and tests the strong muscle beneath it.  She looks up at him, eyes trailing over his snout and coming to stop at his fangs.

 

“Oh,” she mumbles and quickly retracts her hand.  His teeth must have frightened her, he guesses.  On pure instinct, the wolf presses his wet nose into her hand and grunts approval.  The hell?  Since when does my wolf even like hunters?  That’s a new one.  Allison laughs softly, startling him.  He backs away again, unease rolling through him.  The huntress sighs and returns to her father’s side.

 

“You gonna tell me why we just did that?” he mutters.

 

“I was just curious is all.  I’ve never seen an Alpha up close unless it was trying to kill me,” she says, shrugging.  Her father rolls his eyes and props himself on a wobbly stool, seemingly done with the conversation.

 

“Hey, can I talk to him alone for a second?” Boyd asks.  The group seems surprised, but eventually ushers out of the house and into the front yard.  Derek immediately saunters to his side and lies down right at his feet.  Boyd kneels down next to him and strokes his head.  “Listen, I know everything is muted like this.  Or rather, they aren’t as loud like this, but you need to change back, man,” he says.  Derek growls at the suggestion, but the beta shushes him.  “No, I know it won’t be easy, trust me I know.  But I also know the connections aren’t as strong like this.  You won’t be able to track them, Derek.  You can’t give up,” Boyd says.  He’s right.  The only connection that’s clear is Peter.  I can barely feel Lydia and Stiles.  “Alright, you work on that.  I’m gonna go get you some clothes.”

 

Derek watched him ascend the stairs, heading towards his bedroom.  The Alpha stands to his full height and closes his eyes.  The shift is more painful than usual, the wolf not wanting to be suppressed.  If he let it out more often, it probably wouldn’t be like this.  But he still didn’t know enough about his new status to control his wolf properly and he didn’t want to risk it.

 

Boyd returned a moment later, throwing him a pile of clothes and then shuffling out the front door, carefully avoiding his eyes.  He quickly redresses in his usual dark clothing and the newer leather jacket he’d bought.  His two other ones had been torn apart with his previous shifts.  I really need to learn to undress and then shift from now on.  Derek joins everyone on the lawn, most of them bleary eyed and yawning after a long night.

 

“It’s been five days,” the Sheriff mutters, glaring into his coffee.    “I’m gonna head back to the station.  See if my deputies have found anything,” he adds.  The group watches him leave, no one commenting on his statement.  Yes, it was the end of the fifth day and they still hadn’t found anyone.  Derek is about to suggest they hit the next location, when multiple wolves begin howling in the distance.

 

“What is that?” Melissa asks.  Derek knows those sounds, recognizes them instantly.

 

“Follow it!” he shouts and takes off into the forest.  He has a fleeting thought that it could be a trap, but doesn’t care.  It was the first clue they’d had and he wasn’t about to let it get away.  Boyd, Isaac, and Scott are quick to run after him, shifting into their beta forms and plowing through the preserve.  The Argents, along with Danny and Melissa follow in the SUV, keeping close to the side as Scott runs along the road.  When they hit the streets, they’re careful to run through heavily wooded backyards.  He can hear Danny and Melissa telling the hunters which way to go, keeping pace with the wolves.

 

The howling comes to an abrupt stop just as a loud explosion erupts in the distance.  Derek can see plumes of black smoke drifting into the sky and promptly chases after it.  As they get closer, his connections with the pack grow stronger, pushing him harder and faster to get to them.

 

The wolves come to a halt when they finally reach the abandoned warehouse.  It’s completely up in flames, timber crackling and windows shattering.  Derek scans the building, finding a way in.

 

“Derek, don’t!  It’s gonna collapse!” Boyd shouts.  The Alpha doesn’t hesitate to enter in through a low window, ignoring his beta’s pleads.  He can feel the young wolf quickly follow him inside, chasing him down.  The others stay outside, too afraid to cross the line of fire.  Derek can tell someone else joined them, but isn’t sure who until a loud yelling comes from outside.

 

“Allison!”

 

Scott follows the huntress into the burning building as she searches out her missing friend.  Derek would be worried with so many inside, but all he can focus on is getting to his two injured pack mates.  Why are there only two?

 

Derek finally reaches a large room, the entire doorway blocked by flames.  This is the room.  The Alpha roars and smashes through the wall, hot embers cascading down on him.  The stench of burning flesh overpowers everything else, making him cringe, but he plows through anyway.  Boyd makes his way through the mess too, reaching his side.

 

“Oh shit, is that…?” he trails off.  Derek looks to where he’s pointing, but immediately knows the burning body isn’t one of his.

 

“No, no, I don’t know who that is,” he says.  They push their way further into the room, encountering another body.

 

“Ennis,” Boyd mutters, glaring at it.  The heat is intense, quickly having both wolves panting for breath.  A loud snapping sound echoes around them just before a beam crashes to the floor in front of them.  “Derek, we have to get out!” Boyd shouts, pulling on his jacket.

 

“No!  They’re in here somewhere!” he yells over the roar of the flames.  He focuses, trying to pick them out.

 

“Allison, don’t!  We have to leave!” Scott is yelling.

 

“She’s in here!  I’m not leaving,” the huntress yells back.  Derek hears her begin protesting loudly as the beta picks her up and struggles to pull her out.  Isaac is running towards them, having turned back at some point.

 

“Scott, I lost Derek!” he shouts.

 

“What?  Where?”

 

“I don’t know!  I was following him, but I couldn’t – I couldn’t…we have to find him!”

 

“Take her!” Scott shouts.  The Alpha can hear him shuffling a still arguing Allison into Isaac’s arms.  He focuses harder, trying to block them out and find Lydia and Peter.

 

“Derek, what is that?” Boyd asks, pointing towards the back of the room.  There’s a bright white light shining through a wall of fire.  Derek runs for it, finally locating Lydia at least.  Boyd doesn’t even hesitate to follow when Derek leaps over the flames, landing hard on the other side and rolling.  The beta slaps at both their clothes where they caught fire, cursing the blisters that form on his hands.

 

They eventually find the two missing pack mates unconscious on the floor, Peter draped over a glowing Lydia.  How is she doing that?  The bright light that they had seen was radiating from her very skin, swallowing the two in a circle of light.  The fire pushed at the circle, but seemingly couldn’t get passed it.  The two wolves jumped in, not having any problem entering the shield and reached for their pack mates.  Derek hauled Peter onto his shoulder, thankful that he could still hear his heart beating.  Boyd carefully pulled Lydia into his arms, the scene bringing all kinds of painful memories back to the both of them.

 

Another snap and another large beam falls, the wolves having to jump out of the way before it crushes them.  They look around for another way out, but quickly find that they’ll have to leap over the flames yet again.  Pulling the victims closer against them, the two wolves jump, barely skating passed the fire.  Both turn in mid-air, making sure the injured ones don’t hit the ground.  Derek grunts as Peter’s weight lands on him, but hastily tries to get back on his feet.

 

“No!  Derek!” Boyd shouts.  The Alpha looks over just in time to see a woman walk right through the flames, seemingly not affected by it.  She takes in the room, eyes landing on the burning Alpha across the way.  Before Derek has time to register what’s happening, the witch flicks her wrist, intensifying the heat and sending another beam crashing down on them.

 

Derek isn’t fast enough and the blazing debris rains down on him, pinning him to the floor.  His clothes catch fire once again, but he can’t escape it.  Looking around, he finds Peter finally waking up, either the heat or noise rousing him.  Boyd is unconscious under a pile of burning wood, his body shielding Lydia beneath him.  The witch laughs at the scene before her as she raises her hands, making the flames combust and climb up the walls.  Within the next blink, she disappears behind the fire, easily escaping a horrible death.

 

Peter groans and then struggles against the wood that’s lying on top of him.  He hisses as it burns his hands, eyes widening as he looks around.

 

“No, no, no, no!” he grumbles.  He begins to thrash at the debris pinning him down, trying desperately to escape.  Derek is pushing at his own beam, but it doesn’t budge.  His uncle looks over at him, flames dancing in his blue irises.

 

“Derek, where is she?  Where’s Lydia?” he asks, still trying to crawl from the wreckage.

 

“She’s over there with Boyd,” Derek says, pointing.  Peter follows the movement and growls as he continues to struggle.

 

“We have to wake her up.  Lydia!  Lydia get up!” he shouts.  The girl doesn’t stir, skin turning pink as the heat rages above her.  His uncle snarls and lets his eyes turn bright blue, training them on the young witch.

 

Lydia’s eyes suddenly fly open, her irises milky silver.

 

“Lydia!  Lydia, look around!  You can stop this!” Peter yells.  The girl doesn’t comply, gaze never leaving Peter’s.  Something sparks in her expression though and she hastily slaps her hand, palm down against the concrete.

 

Derek has to squint as bright white light shivers out of her hand, slowly spreading around her.  His eyes burn as the light blasts out of her, encasing the entire building.

 

The Alpha doesn’t know if she was fast enough or not because at that exact moment, the building comes crashing down on top of them.  Derek roars before the weight increases and his vision goes black.

 

Allison

 

“No, no, put me down!  Scott!  Scott, come back!” she shouts.  Isaac drags her out of the building, embers falling all around them as he runs.  Once outside, he dumps her onto the ground at her father’s feet.

 

“Allison, what were you thinking?!” he yells, looking her over for wounds.  She slaps her father’s hands away and jumps to her feet.  “Don’t you even think about it!” he shouts, grabbing her wrist to pull her back.

 

“Where’s Scott?!” Melissa asks, running up to them.  Isaac glances at her, a pained expression on his face, before darting back into the building.

 

“Isaac!” Danny shouts, racing in after his mate.  The distraught mother makes to join them, but Chris and Allison grab onto her.

 

“Melissa, don’t!  You’re still weak from the transition,” Chris says.

 

“But my son!” she cries.

 

“Trust his pack to get him out.  He’ll be alright,” Allison says, holding the woman’s hand.  Please, please, let them get him out safely.  The three of them wait and watch as the building continues to burn, air filling with acrid black smoke.  There are sirens in the distance, racing towards the dark cloud in the sky.

 

A moment later, she can see figures climbing out of the small window, covered in ash, clothes burning.  They run forward, helping to drag people out.  Danny and Isaac emerge, completely covered in soot, but unharmed.  The flames were from Scott, his clothes quickly catching fire.  They roll him on the grass and pat him down, smothering the embers.

 

“Scott, sweetie, can you hear me?” Melissa asks, nudging him into a sitting position.  The wolf was thankfully alive and conscious, burns already healing.

 

“Mom, I’m okay, I swear,” he says as his pack mates pull him to his feet.  His eyes widen then and he whips his attention back to the building.  “We have to go back!  They’re still inside,” he says franticly.

 

The wolves move to head back inside, but are stopped by a loud groaning coming from the building.

 

“Oh my god,” Chris whispers.  “Everybody get back!”

 

The group runs just as the entire structure collapses in on itself.

 

“Lydia!”  Allison screams at the same time Isaac cries out Derek’s name.  She tries to run back, but her father grabs her around the middle, holding her back.  “No!  She was inside!”

 

“There’s nothing you can do, Allison!” he yells, pulling her further into his chest.  Police cars and fire trucks show then, lights flashing and sirens blaring.

 

“Melissa!” the Sheriff calls, running towards them.  “What happened?”

 

“The building!  It – it – there were still people inside!” she cries.  Firemen quickly assemble, dragging hoses and equipment towards the building.

 

“Who?  Who was inside?” he asks.

 

“Derek, Boyd, Lydia, and Peter,” Scott answers.  He’d been squinting at the rubble, but she wasn’t sure why.

 

“No Stiles?” the Sheriff asks.  Scott shakes his head, still distracted by something.

 

“Oh my god, I left him.  I can’t believe I left him,” Isaac mutters, falling to his knees.  Danny wraps his arms around him, holding him together the best he can.

 

“Wait, wait, everyone be quiet,” Scott says.  He tilts his head, listening intently.  “Isaac, focus.  Do you hear that?” he asks.  Allison strains to listen, but her human hearing isn’t strong enough.  The distraught wolf quiets immediately, trying to pick up on whatever it was.

 

“Oh my god,” Melissa whispers, staring at the building.  “They’re still alive.”

Chapter Text

Part 4  

Lydia

 

Human beings aren’t meant to be locked in a cage.  They are social creatures by nature, constantly seeking comfort where they can.  Depriving someone of this basic instinct and adding the pressure of torture will have anyone snapping within a few days.

 

Lydia Martin snapped.

 

As she looks around now, she can still see the threads that used to tether her to the earth.  They are burnt and float around her in gentle wisps.  She can feel the heat from the fire, the weight that lies on top of her, and the power that’s coursing through her, but nothing hurts.  She knows that if she continues to lie here and watch the mist inside her mind that everything will eventually cease to exist.  Her life will be no more, but her spirit will linger, as it always does, to dance with the others of her kind.  The witches who are connected not only to an element, but life itself.

 

She decides to take the peaceful route and slowly lets her spirit slip away.

 

LYDIA

 

Her thoughts become scrambled when a voice interrupts her peace.

 

HELP ME

 

She knows that voice.  Lydia roughly pulls herself together, forcing herself back into the almost lifeless corpse that her body would have become.  She throws herself into the mist and pries her eyes open.  She takes in the heat, the weight, the power, and lets the pain back in.  Blue eyes pierce through the veil, grabbing her attention.  They are so beautiful and familiar.

 

LYDIA HELP ME

 

A surge of raw power courses through her and she knows what must be done.  Lydia crushes her hand to the ground, spreading her life force towards those azure irises.  She detects another spirit near the familiar one and locks him inside too.  Reaching across the entire building, she finds one directly above her and doesn’t hesitate to force the shield around him as well.  They feel familiar, they are tied to each other and to me, I will protect them, they will be safe.

 

It grows dark then, but the heat subsides as her light envelops the spirits around her.  She reaches out with her mind, reconnecting with the one she knows.

 

Who are you?

 

My name is Peter.

 

The name has memories rushing into her, gruesome and bloody, but also alluring and vibrant.  She knows him, knows his mind.  She’d been intimately connected to those dark thoughts once.  We were as one.  We will be again.

 

Lydia, wait-

 

She forces herself into his soul, ripping through him and tucking into each and every corner of his spirit.  It is nice and safe inside him.  There is a small warmth that she clings to and drags strength from it, pouring more power into the shield that protects what is hers.

 

You are mine, we are as one again.  I will protect you now and always.

 

Yes, I am yours.  But you are mine as well, little one.  I accept you as my mate.

 

The word seems foreign to her, but she understands the meaning behind it.  She explores the new connection she’s made, focusing on nothing else until a rumbling distracts her.  The heat had stopped long ago, but the weight continues to bare down on her, trying to force her shield to split.

 

I’m so tired

 

Don’t give up yet.  Take from the others.  It won’t hurt them.

 

Lydia does as instructed, slithering towards the spirit that lies next to Peter.  She prods at it, finding it to be harsh and jagged.  Maneuvering around the rough edges, she eventually finds an easy entrance and latches onto him.  This one is much stronger than Peter, but she can feel that he belongs to another.  She can’t claim him, but she can still draw from the abyss of power he’s producing.  Lydia explores the one above her at the same time, finding it to be gentle and calm, but broken.  It shivers as she latches onto it, cowering away from her power.  She wants to reassure him that she won’t hurt him, but doesn’t know how to make the needed connection.  His spirit had been claimed by another, though the girl has already moved on.  Lydia wants to claim him, but it feels wrong, so she simply detaches, but keeps the shield around him.

 

The rumbling from earlier increases and the weight slowly lifts away from her.  There are souls all around her now, some she knows, some foreign.  They speak to her, but she can’t make out the words.

 

Lydia they’re here to help us.  You can stop now.

 

I don’t know how.

 

Focus on them.  They will bring you back.

 

Lydia slowly drifts away from the Alpha and beta, leaving her connection with Peter open.  She crawls back inside her body, ignoring the pain that it’s encased in.  Noise floods towards her and she immediately cringes away from it.  Overwhelmed, she cuts off the power and crams herself deep inside her mind.

 

It is dark and quiet and safe.

 

Allison

 

“Scott, what are you hearing?” she asks for the tenth time.  She was still freaking out.  The building was in a charred heap, still burning slightly as the fire department tried to quickly squelch the flames.  Scott sighs and rubs her arms soothingly, probably tired of answering the same question every five minutes.

 

“They’re still breathing, but not moving.  And that weird static is still in the air.  No, I still don’t know what it is,” he answers.  Isaac and Danny were sitting side by side on the ground, waiting patiently for the fire to be put out.

 

“What do we do?” Melissa asks.

 

“I suggest we wait for the fire department and my deputies to clear out before trying to dig them out.  We don’t know what’s down there and I doubt ‘Werewolves found in fire’ is a very good headline for tomorrow’s paper,” the Sheriff answers.  Everyone nods, agreeing.  It takes a few hours before the fire is completely out, Allison still asking the same question every five minutes.  She couldn’t help it.  Her relationship with Lydia may be strained at times (because she’d been a complete bitch), but they were still friends no matter what.  Allison wishes she’d told the girl that before everything happened.  The last thing she said to her was that she wasn’t her friend if she joined the pack.  She really wishes she could take that back now.

 

The Sheriff sees his last remaining deputies off and rejoins the group.

 

“Alright, how do we go about this?” he asks, looking at the rubble.

 

“We’ll listen for their heart beats.  Once we’re close, we’ll dig them out,” Isaac says, standing and moving towards the building.  The wolves take the lead, including Danny and Melissa, with the humans trailing behind.  Allison finds it difficult to keep her balance as they trudge through the mess, but she doesn’t give up and keeps pace with the others the best she can.  Her dad and the Sheriff are lagging behind slightly, but they’re still within eyesight.

 

“It’s loudest here,” Scott says, stopping near the middle.  Allison wonders briefly if they might be standing on their friends and tries to make her footsteps lighter.  Not that it’s going to do anything, you idiot.  The wolves quickly begin picking up large beams and planks, throwing them to the side.  It takes at least an hour before everyone freezes, confusion on everyone’s faces.

 

There was a bright light shining through the wood, bright enough to have everyone squinting.  They have to shield their eyes once the rest of the debris has been moved, blinking rapidly to adjust their eyes.  The light looked foreign against the darkness of the sky, making it stand out even more.

 

“What is it?” she asks.

 

“I don’t know, but that’s what’s making the static sound,” Scott says.

 

“And they’re underneath it,” Isaac adds.  They all look at each other, not sure how to go forward.  As they all ponder the situation, the light suddenly begins to fade, leaving a transparent bubble in front of them.  They all shuffle closer, looking down through it.  No one can even say anything.  Directly beneath them, encased in the strange shield is a vibrant Lydia, eyes glowing.  Boyd is lying unconscious on top of her, but she doesn’t seem to notice.  The girl’s arm is stretched out, hand flat against the ground and reaching for something.  Allison follows the movement, finding Derek and Peter a few feet away.  Derek seems to be unconscious, but Peter’s eyes are wide open, his blue eyes focused on Lydia.  His hand is stretching in her direction as well.

 

They move closer, but hesitate as Lydia convulses as if having a seizure.  Her eyes flicker back to green as the shield completely fades, and then close as her body relaxes.  Peter lapsed into unconsciousness as well, drifting off with the girl.

 

“No Stiles” the Sheriff sighs.  Scott shakes his head and then carefully swings down into the tight space.  He reaches for Derek first, much to Allison’s displeasure.  She guesses it was due to some instinct, but still.  Scott, with the help of Danny and Isaac, lift the large beam off of the Alpha and cautiously drag him up and out.  The wolf doesn’t stir as Isaac heaves him away from the rubble to lay him in the grass.  Peter is next, probably because he’s closest, but it still bugs her.  Shouldn’t it be humans first?  Lydia probably needs the most medical attention.   Allison doesn’t say anything and patiently waits for her friend to be hauled outside.

 

Danny grabs Peter from Scott and drags him to the grass also.  Scott then crawls beneath more debris to get to Boyd.  His mother doesn’t hesitate to join him inside, helping to clear the way to the two injured pack mates.  Scott hefts Boyd onto his back, carrying him outside.

 

“Mom, you got her?” he calls back.  Melissa gently picks Lydia up into her arms, her new strength easing the struggle.  The two wolves climb from the hole and carry Boyd and Lydia away, laying them gently on the grass as well.  Allison, her father, and the Sheriff follow behind.

 

Once everyone is a good distance from the building, Melissa quickly gets to work assessing Lydia’s condition.  Allison kneels down next to her, watching as she checks her friend over.  As she looks her over, Allison can’t help the grimace as she takes in the damage her friend was subjected to.  There were bruises covering most of her pink skin, which was only slightly red from the flames.

 

“Do we take her to the hospital or to Deaton’s?” Melissa asks.  The group looks around at each other, no one having a clue.  Scott quickly dials the vet and puts his phone on speaker.

 

“What happened?” Deaton asks, instead of his usual hello.

 

“We found Lydia and Peter, but there was a fire.  We weren’t sure if we should bring Lydia to the hospital or to you,” Scott answers.

 

“Why would you think to bring her to me?  She’s not a werewolf.”

 

“Yeah, but something weird happened.  She was glowing and vibrating and...it was just weird and you’re our go to guy for weird stuff,” Scott says, running his hand through his hair.

 

“Were her injuries caused by the magic?”

 

“We don’t know.”

 

“Alright, is Melissa there?”

 

“Yes, I’m here,” she answers.

 

“Is her condition stable as far as you can tell?”

 

“Yes, her pulse is strong and her breathing is regular.  She’s unconscious and her body is pretty badly battered, but I think medically, she’ll be fine,” she answers.

 

“Okay, then I suggest you bring her to me.  The magic may have shocked her system.  Is anyone else injured?”

 

“Derek, Peter, and Boyd were in the fire also.  Should I look them over?” she asks.  They can hear Deaton curse over the line, surprising everyone with his lack of calmness.

 

“Yes, yes, check them over as well.  I’m sending Miranda with her van so she can bring them to me.  Where are you?”

 

“The abandoned warehouse district on the other side of town,” Allison answers.  The Vet hangs up then, not saying anything more.  Scott shrugs and pockets his phone.

 

“Alright, Allison you stay by Lydia.  Tell me if anything changes,” Melissa says.  Allison nods, taking her friends hand, keeping quiet count of the pulse on her wrist.  She was right, it is beating strongly.

 

Melissa crawls towards Boyd, checking him over and not finding much except for a few burns that were slowly healing.

 

“Scott, try and wake him.  He should be alright,” she says and then moves to Peter.  She scowls slightly, but eventually takes inventory of him also.  Allison can see claw marks all down his front and burns along his hands.  The woman instructs everyone to leave him asleep, not knowing how much pain he may be in.  She reaches Derek then and Allison squints, trying to see if the Alpha had made it out unscathed.  Damn it, you’re caring again.  You are so screwed.  Where did that anger go?  Allison sighs at herself, disgruntled that her anger towards the Alpha has slipped away so dramatically.

 

Melissa finds no injuries on his front, but as she’s wiggling his jacket some, they can see that the back of the leather has been melted away.

 

“Isaac, help me roll him,” she instructs.  The young wolf does as asked, helping to gently maneuver his Alpha onto his front.  They all grimace when finding the jacket and shirt have been melted and seared to the wolf’s skin.  There was a nasty burn that was still bleeding along his lower back and Melissa was afraid to touch it.  Boyd finally grumbles awake at Scott’s prodding and abruptly sits up in a panic.

 

“Derek?” he calls, searching around.

 

“Hey, it’s okay, man.  Derek’s right over there,” Scott says, pointing.  The young wolf is quickly on his feet, making his way to his Alpha.

 

“Is he alright?” Boyd asks.

 

“I think he will be.  Miranda is on her way so we can get them to Deaton,” Melissa answers.  Not a minute later, a gray van pulls up to the curb, Miranda sliding out and opening the back.  There are mattresses lining the entire floor in the back and blankets spread along them.

 

“We should hurry,” she says.  Boyd and Isaac carefully pull Derek from the ground and shuffle him into the van, making sure to place him on his front.  Scott and Melissa grab Peter, and Chris offers to pick Lydia up and place her gently in the van.  Boyd, Danny, and Melissa decide to ride with them and Miranda is quick to hop back in the driver’s seat and speed towards the clinic.

 

“I’m gonna head back to the station, round up another search party for Stiles,” the Sheriff mumbles.

 

“Me and Isaac will search around here, try to pick up his scent,” Scott says.

 

“We’ll follow you,” Chris says, surprising everyone.  Allison nods in agreement, glad to have something productive to do.  I can’t just wait around and worry about Lydia.  I need to do something.  The Sheriff takes off then, sirens blaring to cut around traffic.  The wolves are quick to sniff around the rubble and pick up the boy’s scent easily.

 

“Those things were here,” Scott grumbles, eyes flashing at the memory of what they did to his father.

 

“Then let’s hunt him down,” Chris says, loading his rifle.  They take off towards the wooded area behind the warehouse district, Allison notching an arrow in her crossbow.  If it’s Gerard, I’m shooting him in the fucking face.

 

Derek

 

The first thing he’s aware of is the searing pain at his back.  He doesn’t even try to move because he knows that it will only hurt worse.  Effectively blocking out the pain, he lets his hearing take over as a distraction.

 

“Should we tie him down too?” someone asks.

 

No one better be fucking tying me to anything, I swear to God.

 

“No, I think he’ll be fine.  It was only Peter’s reaction I was worried about,” another voice says.  He recognizes them, but can’t place them in his pain filled haze.  Memories eventually come back to him, making him force his foggy brain to wake up.

 

“I think he’s coming to.”  Boyd, that was definitely Boyd.  The Alpha pries his eyes open, finding himself lying on his front, the room at a sideways tilt.

 

“Derek, can you hear me?”  Deaton, saving my ass once again, apparently.  What is that, like 3 times now?  Four?  No idea.  Derek grunts as a response, not able to form coherent words yet.  “Alright, just relax.  Try not to move,” the man says.  “I’m sorry, but I have to finish bandaging you.  This is going to hurt,” he adds.  The burning pain increases and it feels as if his skin is being ripped off.  He digs his claws into his palms as he tries not to scream, but small whimpers still make their way out.

 

After a long minute of barely breathing, the pain suddenly begins to lessen and he can feel hands prodding at his lower back.

 

“Danny and Melissa, come here, you can help too,” Deaton says.  Help?  Who’s helping?  Two more pairs of hands cautiously touch his skin, trembling slightly.  The burning is now down to a dull roar, the sudden lack of pain making him dizzy.  It’s much easier to breathe now and he can finally stop clawing into his own hands.  “Is that better, Derek?” the Vet asks.

 

“Yeah, a bit,” he answers.  His throat was dry and sore, but that too wasn’t as bad as it should have been.  One of his connections flared then, making him realize what’s happening.  My betas are doing this.  No one’s done this for me since I was a child.  He lets the warmth continue for a moment, before the lost memories have him shoving it away.  I don’t want to think of them right now.  I suppose I know a little of how they felt at the end now…

 

Derek cringes away from his own thoughts and from his betas at the same time.

 

“I’m fine, you can stop,” he grumbles.

 

“Dude, just let us help you,” Boyd sighs.  Derek turns slightly to glare at him and the boy quickly takes his hands off.  The heat at his back returns instantly, but he ignores it.  He props himself up onto his elbows, peering around the room.

 

“Didn’t I tell you not to move?” Deaton mutters, but doesn’t make him lie down again.  He finds Lydia to his right, lying on a cot and hooked up to some kind of IV.  Melissa is hovering over her now, stroking her hair and checking her vitals.

 

“How is she?” he asks.

 

“She’s doing fine actually.  Her body is responding nicely to the treatment.  If I had realized what she was earlier, I would have been able to warn her sooner.  Her powers were activated during battle and shocked her system, but like I said, she’ll recover,” Deaton answers.

 

“What is she?”

 

“She is a witch, but a much different kind than either Miranda or myself.  We can manipulate substances that already exist, but she can create raw power out of thin air.  From what Boyd told me, it sounds as if she’s actually connected to an element, or possibly two, I’m not sure.  Now, what about the Alphas witches?  What were they like?” he asks, actually taking out paper and pen to take notes.  Derek sighs, trying to remember everything that’s happened.

 

“The girl…she can create fire.  I don’t know if that’s how it started, or if it was Lydia.  And the guy can throw people around by just a wave of his hand,” Derek says.

 

“Therefore they’re similar to Lydia, connected to an element.  The male witch is either connected with Air or is a different type.  Without seeing their powers for myself, I don’t really have an answer.  Perhaps if I-”

 

Deaton is cut off by a loud howling from outside.  The sound rattles the windows, reverberating off the brick walls.  It has Peter and Lydia waking instantly and the other four wolves’ eyes flashing at the threat.  Derek scrambles off the table as fast as he can, ignoring the pain that shoots through his back and legs.  Boyd is immediately at his side, helping to prop him up.  Once steady, he grabs the shirt by the bed and tugs it on, grimacing as his fingers graze over the bandage.

 

The howling turns into multiple wolves growling and a bell chimes as someone walks in the front door.

 

“Somebody get these off me,” Peter grumbles, tugging at his handcuffs.  Deaton doesn’t even hesitate to comply, unlocking the cuffs and helping the man to his feet.  His chest is still badly scratched up, but it’s slowly healing.  The burns have faded to pink scars as they continue to heal as well.  Miranda, who’s been huddled in a corner (Derek hadn’t even seen her) hands the older wolf a shirt and helps him tug it on.  Danny is arguing with an irritated Lydia, trying to keep her on the bed, but the girl isn’t having it.

 

“You guys don’t have to go out there.  They can’t get passed the front desk,” Deaton says, his calm exterior cracking slightly.

 

“No, but my witches can!” a voice booms.  It was the leader, his voice travelling from the other room.  “Come out and I won’t have them intrude, Alpha Hale,” he calls.  Derek sighs and slowly trudges into the front room.  His pack mates followed, but if they were outnumbered before, they were royally screwed this time.  If this turns into a fight, there is no way we’ll win.  Four of the Alphas, including their witches, were all crammed into the front room, looking cocky as hell.  “Oh, Lydia, I see you made it out of the fire.  Thanks for that by the way,” Deucalion grumbles.  The young witch doesn’t respond, choosing to stare her opponent down instead.

 

“Why are you here?” Derek demands.

 

“I’ve come to offer a deal.  A trade of sorts,” he says, grinning.

 

“What kind of trade?” Derek asks.  Deucalion motions for Ethan to step forward and the young Alpha yanks on a chain he’s holding.  He can feel Lydia flinch at the sight in front of them, wanting to run to the injured boy, but she remains at Peter’s side.  “Let me guess.  My land for my beta?” he guesses.

 

“Not quite.  Seeing as how you don’t seem willing to give up the land, I would like to trade for something else.  Jackson for one of your witches.  Give me that and we’ll leave,” he says.  There is no lie in his words.  They would actually leave if Derek traded Jackson for either Lydia or Stiles.  He looks to the girl at his right, eyeing Peter’s hand on the small of her waist.  Damn it.

 

Derek peers over at Jackson, who looked a complete mess.  The boy hadn’t stopped staring at Lydia, but at hearing Deucalion’s offer, he finally looks to Derek.  The Alpha watches as Jackson subtly shakes his head.  He doesn’t want me to trade her.  There has to be another way to get him back.  If there is, I will find it.

 

“No.  Not happening,” Derek answers.  Deucalion’s smile drops, glare hardening.

 

“You are honestly going to keep a witch over one of your betas?  Why?”

 

“She is part of my pack.  I can’t just give her away,” he answers.  He sees the witches eyes widen at his declaration, but they don’t say anything.  Before Deucalion can even say anything, the Alpha holding Jackson’s chains let’s his eyes bleed red.

 

“How about an actual fair trade then?  Your beta for mine,” he growls.  Derek raises a brow, not understanding.  “That female beta behind you belongs to me, Hale,” he says, grinning.  Derek peers behind him, seeing a nervous Melissa staring at the Alpha.  When their eyes meet, hers flash a golden hue as expected.  Derek assumes she’ll go to his side, obeying her Alpha, but he’s shocked to see her subtly move closer to him instead.  Declaring her allegiance.  His wolf leaps at the sudden obedience and he doesn’t hesitate to drag his fingers through her hair, down her neck to land at her pulse point.  Keeping his hand firmly on her, he looks back to the Alphas with a smirk.

 

“Seems she’s chosen a different Alpha,” he says.  The man snarls loudly and Derek can feel Melissa’s heart rate jump.  He holds her firmly in place, not willing to give her up.  Scott would never forgive him if he let these wolves take his mother.

 

“She is mineI bit her, not you.  Give her to me and I won’t kill you,” he growls.

 

“She has chosen where her loyalties lie.  I won’t hesitate to fight you for her,” Derek says, letting his power surface.  His betas, Melissa included, growl in agreement.  The other Alpha trembles, clearly about to shift and start a fight, but Deucalion interrupts with a dramatic sigh.

 

“That’s enough, Ethan.  The woman does not want you.  Get over it.  Besides, she’s not important or even a threat.  Are you?” he asks, eyes flashing at Melissa.  The woman’s snarling stops abruptly as she hides slightly behind her Alpha.  Ethan eventually backs off, resuming his stance at his brother’s side, with Jackson still in hand.  “Now, back to actual business.  What about the boy?  Once we find him and trust me we will, I take him and give you Jackson.”

 

“No,” Derek barks.  Like I would ever give Stiles to them.  And if they don’t have him, then who does?  Ethan’s brother snorts and shakes his head.

 

“Told you so,” he mutters to his leader.  Deucalion blinks and turns slightly, rage filling the room.  Derek expects him to snap at the other Alpha for his insubordination, but the wolf’s eyes land on Jackson.

 

“Well, if you’re not willing to trade.  Then I guess there is no use in keeping him,” he says.  Before Derek can react, Deucalion reaches a clawed hand out and rips Jackson’s throat out.

 

“Jacks!” Danny hollers.  The young wolf whimpers at the sight of his dead friend and hides behind a stoic Boyd.

 

“No!” Lydia shouts.  She tries to go to him, but Peter pulls her back against him.  The room suddenly grows warm and the Alpha Pack’s attention snaps in the girl’s direction.  Derek peers behind him and hastily takes a few steps away as Peter loses his grip on the young witch.  Her eyes were shimmering an unnatural color and a white aura was pulsing all around her.

 

“As much as I would like to watch this show again, I think we’ll take off,” Deucalion says and snaps his fingers at his witches.  Right before they disappear in a swirl of feather-like dust, Ethan’s brother trains his glowing eyes right on Derek.

 

“I’ll give Stiles a kiss for you, Derek,” he says with a wink.  Derek roars and leaps forward, but they’re gone, feathers drifting in the wind where they once stood.

 

“Lydia, look at me, focus,” Peter says.  Derek looks back to see his uncle forcing the girl to make eye contact.  “There is nothing you can do, he is gone.  But we have to save Stiles now.  You remember him?  Sarcastic kid with bright brown eyes?” he asks.  Lydia’s eyes flicker back to green and the light fades.

 

“Stiles?” she asks.

 

“Yes, your witch friend.  He is part of this pack too.  We need to find him before they do.  You understand?”

 

Lydia shakes herself, seeming to finally refocus.  “Right, those creatures took him,” she says.

 

“The wolf-monkeys?” Derek asks.  I can’t believe I’m still calling them that.  Lydia nods, frowning.  “Then let’s hunt them down.”

 

Kalli

 

“We should have taken him out when we had the chance,” she grumbles.

 

“And risk a beat down by Miss Fire?  I don’t think so,” Adrian says.

 

“No one asked you,” Kalli growls.  Deucalion still hadn’t said anything after fleeing the scene and Kalli was outraged.  Not only had he stolen her kill, but he completely avoided what would have been a hell of a fight.  Derek was weak, injured.  They could have killed him and his betas easily.  But no, Duke motioned for the witches to drag them out.  Now, as they run towards the burnt down warehouse, trying to pick up the human boy’s scent, Kalli can’t help but wonder if she should reconsider challenging her mate.  Yes, he was much better at strategic battle planning, but when it came down to the actual fight, he wasn’t nearly as ruthless as her.

 

But after losing Ennis, Kalli figures she should wait until after they claim Beacon Hills.  Deucalion would never surrender his power to her willingly; therefore either both or one of them would end up dead if she challenged him.  Kalli did love him and she really didn’t want to hurt her mate, but if he couldn’t pull his act together, she didn’t see another choice.

 

Once at the warehouse, Ethan was the first to pick out all the different scents, like usual.

 

“Ennis is still in the building, but he’s definitely dead.  Smells like the rest of the Hale pack was here and they took off into the woods.  The boy’s scent is faint, but it looks like they were following it,” he says, sniffing the air.  As the Alphas search the premises, a sudden violent and dark cloud rolls through the sky, bringing with it buckets of rain, drenching them in seconds.  Kalli scowls down at her dress as it clings to her skin.

 

“What the hell?  It was clear skies a moment ago,” Aiden shouts over the pounding rain.  Kalli catches the worried glances the two witches are throwing each other and immediately stomps up to them with a growl.

 

“What’s happening?” she asks.

 

“I – I don’t know.  The storm...it isn’t natural,” Gloria says, staring up at the clouds.

 

“You mean magic.  Again,” Kalli snarls.  She absolutely hated witches and any creatures like them.  Always trying to subdue her with their puny magic and failing every time.  They were tricky though, very elusive.  Not to mention that some of them have actual powers to use over me.  Though the Krendalls’ (Keith and Gloria) were powerful, the Alphas were careful to choose ones that could still be controlled.  That Lydia girl obviously wasn’t controllable, therefore if given the chance Kalli wasn’t going to hesitate to rip off her pretty head.  “Is it the girl?” she asks eagerly.  How I’d love to have her blood on my claws.

 

“No, that’s not possible.  She wouldn’t be able to do this,” Keith says.  “I don’t think,” he adds in a whisper.  They were useless, utterly useless.  Kalli’s claws flicked out, ready to slash open their stupid inadequate throats.

 

“Kalli, stop, we don’t have time for this,” Deucalion orders.  He pulls on their bond and she quickly submits, but barely.  The storm was increasing by the minute, making them all squint through the downpour.  It was harder to hear and the scents were being washed away.  Noticing the same thing, Ethan takes off into the woods, trying to follow the trail before it was gone.  Aiden was right at his side, both shifting into their silver Alpha forms as they run in unison.  Deucalion and Kalli follow suit, the witches dragging behind as they run on their slow human legs.  As they grow closer, she can smell those creatures are around as well as two Hale Betas and the hunters.

 

There is shouting in the distance, but it’s hard to hear as the wind picks up, adding to the rain.  It was a full on storm and they were trapped in the middle, but they weren’t going to stop until they found that witch.  And maybe the others.  It will be a nice old fashioned slaughter.

 

An anguished roar travels through the trees just before the ground literally begins to shift.  The Alphas stumble slightly as the earth quakes beneath their paws, but they continue their hunt.  Their prey must sense their presence and run faster through the forest.  Heat courses through her as she draws closer, adrenaline pumping.  They’re all mine.

 

Finally reaching the clearing, the Alphas skid to a halt as they’re met with a large grouping of those bizarre creatures.  There are bodies littering the ground, covered in blood and hardly recognizable.   The Alphas stood back in surprise as the creatures surround a small form kneeling in the mud.  Going in for the kill.  My kill.  Kalli is about to intervene with slashing claws and biting fangs, but a horrified shout stops her.

 

“Stiles!”

 

The rest of the Hale pack had joined them.  Kalli’s vision swam as she let her primal instincts take over.  She’s about to attack, but is knocked off her feet, literally thrown through the air from some invisible force.  Hitting the ground hard, she keeps rolling as the ground shifts and breaks apart beneath her.

 

Once on her feet again, she doesn’t hesitate to run from the larger threat, whatever it may be.  Her pack is quick to follow, her mate barking orders for them to high tail it back to their abandoned house.

 

Another fight that we’re backing down from.  This will not happen again.

 

Stiles

 

The wolf-monkey had carried him only a short distance into the woods before throwing him to the ground.  Stiles grunted as his body impacted harshly with the earth, head spinning as he tried to right himself.  First Alphas, now wolf-monkeys.  Possibly the second worst day of my lifeDefinitely the worst week.

 

The creature bounds into a tree and watches him from above.  Stiles cautiously gets to his feet and is about to make a clumsy run for it, when more wolf-monkeys emerge.  Oh, awesome, this just keeps getting better.  There had to be at least ten of them and Stiles could see more glowing eyes in the darkness of the trees.

 

“Well, well, if it isn’t my favorite lacrosse player?” a voice asks.  Stiles goes rigid, recognizing the voice immediately.  He turns and almost gags as the man comes into view.  There was no doubt about it.  The largest wolf-monkey was Gerard Argent.  The man’s upper half was human (not including his arms or hands) and the bottom half was all beast.  He was wrinkled and dripping that black goo all over the place.  Seriously, really gross.  This is completely Scott’s fault right now.  “You know, I was worried that I’d never get what I wanted, but it turns out that the mountain ash made me into a completely new creature.  What do you think, Stiles?” he chuckles, raising his talons for inspection.

 

“Honestly, you’re even more disgusting than before,” Stiles says and then cringed slightly.  Brain-to-mouth filter, once again not existent.

 

“That may be true, but I am cancer free now.  Able to heal even faster than a werewolf.  It’s remarkable really.  And I found that I could bestow these great gifts upon my faithful followers.  Hunters, who also thought the ‘code’ was insignificant,” Gerard says.  Stiles peers around at the other beasts and grimaces.  They had been people once, but now they were like this.  Beasts without morals, blood thirsty monsters.

 

But they’d been those things even as humans, hadn’t they?  Hunting without following the code was just as bad or even worse than what they were now.  They were all just killing machines in a war that would never end.  Am I the next soldier to die on the field?

 

“What do you want?” he asks.

 

“Isn’t it obvious?  I was betrayed, Stiles.  This is my revenge.  Scott must pay for breaking his promises to me.  I would have taken Melissa, but she’s been in Derek’s clutches and Allison…well, my son is a worthy opponent even now.  So, that really only left one option…”

 

“Me,” Stiles whispers.  Yet again, just a pawn in this supernatural world.  He was just a way to get back at Scott…again.  At least his pack would be safe this time.  Gerard could do whatever he wanted, kill him even, but his pack would move on eventually and forget he ever existed.  He had picked the wrong pawn again.  They hadn’t come for him when the Alphas took him, why would they come for him this time?

 

A loud crash pulls him from his sullen thoughts.  It came from behind him, probably the building collapsing in a heap of flames.  I hope Peter and Lydia made it out.

 

“Of course, by killing you, I hit two wolves at once.  Scott will still have Allison, but Derek…” Gerard says, grinning.  Derek will be fine, he will.  The pack will make sure he’s safe…right?  Stiles can feel the prickling of tears behind his eyes as he thinks of his Alpha.  They had finally just started something…he still wasn’t sure what exactly to call it, but it was definitely somethingOh my god, what about dad?  He’ll be all alone.

 

Stiles is wrenched from his thoughts by a searing hot pain slashing across his chest.  The pain has him down on his hands and knees, tears finally falling from his eyes.  Or is it rain?  Both?  Yes, it had started pouring, Stiles notes hazily.  Exhaustion sweeps through him, the five days without sleep and the wounds he’s sustained catching up with him.  He goes to lie in the mud, but Gerard grabs his chin and forces him to look at him.

 

“Not so fast, boy.  Your friends are almost here.  Wouldn’t want them to miss your death now would we?” he chuckles.  Stiles is too dazed to form words, but he can’t ignore the sudden shouting in the background.

 

“Get away from him!”

 

Gerard releases him and Stiles glances to his left, seeing a wolfed-out Scott running towards them.  Isaac, Allison, and Chris are trailing behind, frantic to reach their fallen pack mate.  Pack mate?  Am I even still pack?

 

He watches as a hoard of wolf-monkeys attack.  The beasts swarm Scott and Isaac, who quickly engage the opponent, clawing and tearing with abandon.  The hunters appear then, guns firing and arrows flying.  Allison drops her fifth wolf-monkey and then stops dead in her tracks as she comes face to face with her grandfather.

 

“Hello, darling,” he says.

 

“Allison, get back!” Chris shouts, eyes wide as he takes in what his father has become.  Stiles’ breath hitches as a wolf-monkey takes Isaac down, blood sinking into the mud.  Is he dead?  Please don’t let him be dead.  He flinches as Chris shoots wildly at his father, but Gerard evades most of the shots, darting behind his minions.  His movements bring him within striking distance and Stiles wants to cry out, but can’t.  She doesn’t see him.  “No!” the hunter screams.  Gerard, black talons dripping, reaches out and slashes across the fair skin.  Stiles closes his eyes, trying to block out how the huntress’ body hits the ground with a sickening thud. 

 

Wind whips around him, mingling with the rain and stinging his skin, but he can barely feel it.  That rage filled foreign sensation courses through him and he lets it flow, not hindering the power.  Prying his eyes open, he finds Scott tearing his way through wolf-monkeys to reach Gerard.  Chris is firing round after round into his father’s body, hitting him every time.  The beast begins to stumble, continuously trying to crawl his way forward to tear into his son.  Stiles watches as his best friend finally reaches his target and with a loud roar, his canines sink into Gerard’s neck and rip the man’s head clean off his shoulders.

 

Stiles can’t help but dig his fingers into the mud as pain rockets through his chest as Gerard’s body clumps to the ground.  The claw marks along his chest are burning hotter, tearing into his skin.  He barely notices when the ground begins to rumble as he tries to drag in air.  Another snarl from Scott has Stiles’ eyes snapping open just in time to see his friend get clawed in the back and fall to the ground.

 

“No,” he whimpers.  With their leader taken down, the wolf-monkeys are now in a frenzy, slashing and tearing at the remaining wolf and hunter.  Stiles sobs as their blood soaks into the soil.  The ground rumbles again, but he doesn’t care.  He catches a glimpse of red eyes at the tree line, but is distracted by the quickly forming circle of wolf-monkeys around him.  They’re screeching and clawing the ground as they zero in on him.

 

He hears someone shout his name in the distance, but all he can focus on is the blood soaked talons that are reaching for him.  No, no, no, no, this can’t be it, this can’t be how it ends.  I won’t let this happen.  Stiles’ vision shimmers and the ground around him bucks violently, throwing the beasts off balance.  He lets the power grow until it burns white hot through him.  It builds until he can’t hold it in anymore.

 

A loud crack echoes around him and through him.  The only thing he knows is that the beasts are gone and the wooded area is quickly flooding.  The ground is splitting and rupturing into tiny mountains all around him.  Stiles’ heart pounds as something snaps, sending a forceful punch right out of him and toppling half the forest.  The trees land with great splashes, causing small waves to roll into the crevices.  The storm continues to rage around him until his vision begins to blur.  He sinks to the ground, collapsing onto his stomach as the earthquakes finally subside.  The wind and rain linger as Stiles takes in the carnage.

 

All that is left is blood and bodies and death.  Stiles closes his eyes and lets the darkness take him.

 

Lydia

 

One minute she was running, the next she was flying through the air.  She didn’t know exactly what happened, only that it hurt.  Something slammed right into her chest and forced her off her feet and into the dirt.  She sputtered as water ran over her in waves, blinking rapidly until her head stopped swirling.  The ground had finally stopped shaking, letting her climb to her knees at least.  The rain and wind continued to howl around her, but it was clearly less intense than it had been a few moments ago.

 

Lydia claps a hand over her mouth, holding back the scream that wants to break through.  There was blood everywhere and so many bodies she lost count.  Most of them weren’t human, but still.  She reached for the hand next to her, shaking the boy awake.  Danny coughed and then groaned as he rolled to his knees.

 

“What was that?  What-” he starts.  He stops, mouth open and eyes wide as he takes in the scene.  Danny clutches her hand, shaking as his gaze lands on a mop of blonde curls across the clearing.  “Isaac?” he cries.  Lydia lets out a sob as the distraught wolf runs to his fallen mate.  She’s about to simply sit in the mud and cry in defeat until her eyes land on a slim figure lying bloodied and broken amongst heavy branches.  In a daze, she staggers to her feet and is about walk over, when strong arms embrace her from behind.

 

“Lydia, don’t.  You don’t want to see,” Peter says.

 

“What?  No, she…she can’t…Peter she’s-,” Lydia stammers.  The man tries to hold her back, but she won’t let him.  “No, no, let me go!” she cries.  She wrenches out of his embrace and stumbles towards the dark haired girl.  Lydia sinks down into the mud next to her friend, taking the cold pale hand in her own.  “Allison?  Allison, wake up!  You can’t do this.  You can’t leave me!” she cries.  The girl, face splattered with her own blood that has stopped pouring from her neck, lies still and unmoving.  The scream that wanted out earlier, tears through her throat as a broken sob.  Peter once again embraces her, but doesn’t try to take her away from the body on the ground.  She can hear Melissa screaming in the distance as she holds her son in her arms.  Lydia doesn’t know if he’s dead too, but they all might as well be.  They were losing this war and she couldn’t see any way out of it.

 

Boyd is on his phone somewhere, telling someone that “It’s bad, it’s really, really bad.”  Lydia cringes and ducks into Peter’s chest as a loud roar erupts around the forest.  The Alpha is on his feet and running to his mate, climbing over dead beasts to get to him.  Derek gently cradles Stiles in his arms, eyes flashing and brimming with tears.  “Stiles, open your eyes, come on.  Don’t give up yet.  Please don’t give up,” he’s saying.  Lydia simply leans against Peter, trying to block everything out.  Sirens are suddenly blaring, coming closer to them.  She watches in a trance-like state as the Sheriff’s police cruiser along with Deaton’s van descend on the scene.  The flashing lights highlight the blood on the ground, but she barely registers it.

 

“I’ll get the wolves out first, but call an ambulance in the mean time!” Deaton yells to the Sheriff.  The Vet rushes over to Scott, who’s still being held by a hysterical Melissa.  “Peter, Boyd!  Get the creatures out of here!  We can’t have them expose us,” Deaton calls.  The older wolf growls for a moment, but reluctantly hands Lydia over to Miranda.

 

“Lydia can you hear me?” the woman asks, stroking her hair from her face.  Lydia looks up at her and blinks.

 

“I think she’s dead,” she says, not really even noticing she’s saying anything.  The woman frowns and pulls her into her arms before ushering her towards her van.  She perches Lydia inside the doors and wraps blankets around her.

 

“Do not move from this spot,” she orders.  Lydia doesn’t respond and Miranda takes her silence as obedience.

 

Peter and Boyd are quickly hauling the beasts away, including Gerard Argent’s headless corpse.  Lydia turns away from it, eyes landing on her other broken friend.

 

“Is he alive?  Oh god, please tell me he’s alive,” the Sheriff is saying.  Derek still has the boy crushed against his chest, rocking him back and forth.

 

“He’s…yes…he’s alive,” the Alpha mumbles.  The Sheriff tears his eyes from his son’s still form to look Derek over.

 

“Alright, it’s gonna be alright.  The ambulance is on its way.  He’ll be fine,” the man says, pulling both boys into a tight embrace.  Derek clings to both Stilinskis’ as he fights for control.  Lydia’s attention is pulled from the scene when Deaton drags an unconscious Scott into the van.

 

“Miranda, start him on an IV,” he orders.  He must be alive then, she thinks slowly.  But she isn’t.

 

Lydia quickly pushes the thought away, pulling the blankets tighter around herself.  She watches as Danny carries Isaac into the van also, the Vet ordering another IV.  Melissa and Danny climb inside to hover over their loved ones.  None of mine are here.  They’re gone, except for…

 

“Peter?” she asks quietly.  The man is immediately running to her side, picking her up into his arms as Miranda closes the doors.  Deaton drives away with the injured wolves, heading for his clinic yet again.  Not a moment later, ambulances roll into the forest, sirens blaring and lights flashing.  Lydia buries her face into Peter’s shoulder when an EMT tries to take her.

 

“She’s alright, just a bit of shock.  I’ll bring her to the ambulance.  Help the others,” Peter says to the man.  The EMT reluctantly leaves as the wolf carries her to one of the vans.  She continues to watch in silence as men load Chris Argent onto a stretcher, clearly stating that he’s still alive.

 

“But she isn’t,” she whispers.  Peter tugs her closer and wraps the blankets even tighter around her small frame.  She refuses to watch as more paramedics inspect her dead friend, instead focusing on where Stiles is.

 

“Derek, they have to take him.  He’s gonna be alright, I promise,” the Sheriff says, not fighting back the tears as he speaks.  Even Lydia can hear the uncertainty in his statement.  The Alpha looks panicked as the men take Stiles away and strap him to another stretcher.  Without thinking, Lydia jumps up and, dragging Peter behind her, runs towards her Alpha.  She flings herself into his arms, surprised to find him responsive and clinging equally as tight to her.  Peter rests a hand on his nephew’s shoulder, letting him know he’s there, but not willing to move closer.  Derek’s breathing is erratic and his arms are a bit too snug around her, but she doesn’t pull away.

 

“He’ll be fine.  Stiles is strong, he’ll pull through this,” she murmurs into his shoulder.  The Alpha’s fingers dig into her waist, making her squirm.

 

“Where’s Boyd?” he asks.  The young wolf races to Derek’s side and Lydia untangles herself from the Alpha, letting Boyd take over.  They don’t embrace, but they do lock eyes until Derek’s eyes stop flashing and his breathing returns to normal.  Lydia returns to Peter, who is quick to hold her again.

 

“I’ll, uh, call my deputies…about…you know,” the Sheriff mumbles.  Lydia refuses to acknowledge his statement.  She stays in her own little world until a strange static fills the air.  For once, it isn’t coming from her.  She looks up just as bright light shoots into the sky somewhere in the distance.

 

“The hell is that?” one of the paramedics asks, eyes wide.  Lydia recognizes the taste of power, but it’s much darker than her own.  The Sheriff clears his throat and motions for the paramedics to start driving to the hospital.

 

Magic sizzles in the air and her body suddenly goes cold.  She trembles in Peter’s arms and her legs buckle beneath her.  The power descends upon her, rocketing through her system.

 

Darkness comes over her and she goes limp in the wolf’s embrace.

 

Deucalion

 

They’d all escaped the storm intact, making it back to the abandoned house.  The witches were already there, drenched and waiting for them.  The wolves shift into human form as they head inside, plucking clothes from a pile Gloria and Keith had assembled.  He can’t help but growl when he catches Ethan’s eyes lingering on Kalli’s body.  The young wolf tilts his head in submission, but his mate just giggles and winks at the both of them.

 

Once re-dressed, the pack meets inside the dusty old living room and immediately defers to Deucalion for instructions.

 

“The time for negotiations is officially over.  Derek Hale wants a war, then we’ll give him one,” he says.

 

“But there’s no way we’ll win.  Not against his witches,” Gloria complains.  Deucalion immediately snaps his teeth at her, silencing her.

 

“We will fight and we will win.  They don’t deserve this land.  They are weak and Hale’s ‘pack’ is completely dysfunctional.  We need to take this land before someone else does.  You all know as well as I do that we are not the only Alpha Pack out there, but we are the strongest.  And if we want to stay that way, we need Beacon Hills,” Deucalion says.

 

“But the witches-”

 

“If you can’t handle them, then I’ll find witches who can!” he growls.  Gloria glares at him, refusing to submit like usual.  Her brother is quick to pull her behind him and show is own neck, placating Deucalion’s temper.

 

“With all due respect sir, I have to agree with Gloria,” he says.  The Alpha rolls his eyes, but motions for him to continue.  “I hate to admit it, but we are no match for the Hale witches.  I can call some friends to add to our power, but even then I’m not sure it will be enough.  We need more allies.  More power,” Keith says.  Deucalion thinks it over, admitting that the man may be right.  Lydia had set an entire building on fire and yet her pack somehow survived it and Stiles literally just caused a massive hurricane with an earthquake as a side dish.  They are the true threat, aren’t they?

 

“Fine.  We will seek out more allies.  Call your friends,” he orders.  Gloria snorts and flops into a dusty chair.

 

“I wouldn’t exactly call any of them friends,” she grumbles, glaring at her brother.

 

“Yeah, well whose fault is that?” Keith says.  Deucalion watches the interaction with mild interest.  Though the Krendall witches had been with them for a few years (Gloria longer), he still wasn’t exactly sure of their past.  Ethan had saved Gloria from being murdered by another coven and Deucalion begrudgingly allowed her to stay.  Keith had tracked his sister down a few years after that and simply refused to leave, even though the wolves had threatened to kill him.  Deucalion secretly admired his bravery, for he never backed down or showed fear, even if the enemy was far more powerful than himself.  The Alpha had often thought he would make a very good wolf, but he had always been against turning witches.  They often became unstable after the transition, the new powers corrupting their fragile little minds.

 

“Gloria, you must have some acquaintances as well.  Give them a call,” Deucalion orders.  He wanted to know how many potential allies these two actually had.  If they ever decided to revolt against his pack, he needed to know how much of a threat they could turn out to be.  The woman scoffs, but drags out her phone to search through her contacts.

 

Keith dials his first number and Deucalion is sure to listen in.

 

“Nandi’s Specials, how may I help you?” a woman answers.

 

“Nandi?” Keith asks.

 

“Yes, this is Nandi.  Who is this?”

 

“It’s Keith Krendall,” he replies.  There’s a moment of silence on the other end until the woman sighs heavily.

 

“Boy, you better have a good reason for calling.  Last I saw you, you threatened my life,” she says.  Keith grimaces, probably remembering the moment she spoke of.

 

“I know and I’m sorry.  But you know I didn’t have a choice.”

 

“The hell you didn’t.  I was trying to save your ass and what did I get out of it?  A knife at my throat, that’s what,” she snaps.  Keith sighs and sits down next to his sister, who’s watching him with interest.

 

“Again, I’m sorry for that.  I shouldn’t have reacted that way,” he answers.  The woman sighs again, but seems calmer.

 

“Why you calling me, kid?”

 

“I need your help.  Or rather, we need your help,” he says, glancing at his sister.

 

“I’m assuming that means you found that sister of yours.  I’m sure she was up to no good as usual.  What mess did she get you in this time?” she asks.  Deucalion raises a brow, almost wanting to laugh at Gloria’s outraged expression.

 

“We’re kind of in the middle of a war.  I can’t tell you anything more than that yet.  But if you could help us, I would appreciate it forever, you have no idea,” Keith says.

 

“A war?  What the hell, Keith?  I told you tracking her down was a suicide mission,” Nandi says.  Keith sighs, throwing a wary glance at his sister.  Gloria actually looks saddened by this statement, not meeting her brother’s eyes.  Deucalion wants to scoff…and loudly.  This was another reason he couldn’t turn the witch.  His devotion to his sister was absolutely ridiculous and would only cause a problem.

 

“Yeah, well what’s done is done.  Are you willing to help me or not?”

 

“I’m gonna go with not.  I may have taken you in for a while and kid you ain’t that bad, but your sister is just gonna drag you down.  Plus, a war?  You know very well that I still obey the spirits and I won’t get involved with the dark arts.  You’re on your own with this.  Be safe, boy,” Nandi says and then promptly hangs up.  Keith grimaces and clicks end.

 

“Well, I hope they don’t all go like that,” Deucalion says.  The wolves all glance at each other and take seats in the dirty room, knowing that this plan may take a while.  Gloria tries her first contact next.

 

“What?!” a man grunts on the other end.

 

“Jessie, it’s Gloria,” she says.

 

“I knew that.  What the fuck do you want?” Jessie grumbles.

 

“Pleasant as ever I see.  Is Pamela there?” she asks.

 

“You’re kidding right?”

 

“Um…no.  I need to speak to her.”

 

“First of all, I dumped her ass like 5 years ago.  Second, I’m pretty sure she’s dead.”

 

“What?  Are you sure?” Gloria asks, surprise in her voice.

 

“Yeah, heard she got tangled up in some hunter/demon fight.  You know how she was.  Always wanting to help people and shit.  Look where that got her,” Jessie snorts.

 

“Yeah, whatever Jessie.  Thanks for all the help,” Gloria gripes and hangs up on him.  Keith nudges her, brow raised and waiting for information.  “Next,” is all Gloria says.  Though she outwardly seems pissed off, the wolves can tell that she was upset about the news of her friend.  And that’s why you don’t care about people who can’t heal immediately.  Death is unpredictable for humans.  Keith returns to his own list, continuing the search for allies.

 

“Mystic Falls University.”

 

“Yeah, I’m looking for Sheila Bennet.  Last I knew, she was working for you,” Keith says.

 

“Oh, I’m so sorry, but Ms. Bennett passed away about 3 years ago,” the woman replies.  Keith doesn’t bother with a response and simply disconnects the line.  It’s like a routine after that, the two witches taking turns in calling everyone on their lists.  Gloria’s next call tells her that some vampire named Lenore was killed by an angel.

 

“Angels?  They exist?” Ethan asks.

 

“Yes,” Deucalion answers.  “Did she say why the angels were here?”

 

“No, she didn’t say anything other than how Lenore died,” Gloria says, shrugging.  Angels…that can’t be good.  Hopefully they stay away from Beacon Hills long enough for us to take it.  Keith’s next contact informed him that his witch friend, along with the man’s two children were murdered by a group of vampires.  It seemed to be an endless cycle of ‘sorry your friend is dead’ after that.  Keith had called three more witches, who had also been killed by vampires.  Lots of vampire activity going on.  It’s unsettling.  Gloria had tried some demonic professor who’d been killed by an angel and a demon; a Kitsune that was taken out by a hunter; and a psychic guy that was murdered by apparently another psychic.  Real competent friends they have here.  Ethan and Aiden had, by then, drifted off while leaning against each other.  Deucalion couldn’t blame them.  This was utterly boring and wasn’t getting them anywhere.

 

“Are any of your friends still alive?” he grumps.

 

“I’m sure there’s someone,” Keith mutters, dialing again.  They’re all surprised to find the next person actually alive.

 

“Hello?” a young woman answers.

 

“Hey, it’s Keith,” he replies.

 

“Oh my god!” the girl shrieks.  “Where the fuck have you been?”

 

“Sorry, I was looking for Gloria.  I didn’t want those vamps following, so I just snuck out.”

 

“Yeah and left me here to run things, you ass.  I can’t believe you did that!  Do you have any idea what we’ve been through?!” she yells.  Keith grimaces at her tone.

 

“I’m sorry, Soph, I really am.  I thought Gloria could help you guys…but we ran into some…stuff, I guess,” he answers, not looking at any of the wolves.  Deucalion snorts at his explanation.

 

“Well it doesn’t matter now anyway.  Things are under control again.  Why are you calling?”

 

“I was hoping to recruit you basically.  We could really use some help.”

 

“Ha!  You could use help?  I know you’ve been gone a while, but in case you forgot, we’re not exactly sitting pretty down here.  Oh and by the way, that friend Nandi you told me to go to?  Absolutely zero help, so thanks for that.  Besides, we’re gearing up for our own revolution, so no I can’t help you,” she snaps.

 

“Wait, what?  You’re going to war?  Against the vamps?  Without me?  Are you crazy?” he shouts, panicked at the very idea.

 

“Oh, calm down.  We’ve got one of them on our side.  Powerful vamp that’s gonna help take down the entire New Orleans hierarchy of vamps.  Once he gets back from some other mission, he’s gonna help us formulate a plan,” she says excitedly.  Keith sighs, shaking his head.

 

“You’re putting your trust in a vampire?  I want to know who it is,” he demands.

 

“His name’s Elijah.  Keith, he’s not like the others, I promise.  But I gotta go…some chicks trying to break in.  Anyway, good luck with whatever you’re-”

 

The girl is cut off by loud screaming in the background and then the line goes dead.

 

“Shit,” Keith mumbles, glaring at his phone.

 

“Well, that was unhelpful.  Either one of you finds some allies or we’ll just have to go out and find our own,” Deucalion says.  Gloria tries her last two contacts (more psychics), only to find that both had been killed by the same hunter.  Kalli begins playing with his hair out of boredom, ignoring his huff of annoyance.

 

“I’ve got one contact left…but she, uh, probably won’t be very helpful,” Keith says.

 

“Like the others were?” Deucalion snaps.  The witch dials quickly, yet again avoiding the Alpha’s anger.

 

“Hello?” a woman answers.

 

“Hey, it’s Keith.”

 

“Wow, haven’t heard from you in what…how long has it been now?  Almost 4 years?”

 

“Yeah, just about.  How’ve you been, Lucy?” he asks.  He was very different with this one…careful almost.

 

“Not too bad.  Back in action as of two years ago.  Tried to get out, but you know how it is,” she says.

 

“Guessing you’re vamp friend finally collected on that debt then?”

 

“She’s no friend, that’s for sure.  What about you?  How’s life?”

 

“Fine, I suppose.  I found Gloria.”

 

“Damn, sounds like life’s been better than fine.  Pretty sure she’s the reason I saw your back walking out the door, so I guess everything you went through was worth it,” she says.

 

“Yeah…” he says, uncomfortable with the statement.  “But, uh, we’re in some trouble actually and I was hoping you’d help.”

 

“The great Keith Krendall is asking for my help?  I just might die of shock.  What kind of trouble is so great that you can’t handle?”

 

“It’s complicated, but it’s looking like it’s gonna be war.  You available?”

 

“Wish I could say I was, but I’m in the middle of a war myself.  Dragged into some vamp pissing contest, like usual.  Waiting for my boss in some small backwoods town in Cali,” Lucy snorts.

 

“California?  Me and Glo are here too,” Keith says, careful not to mention the Alphas.

 

“Yeah?  Well maybe I can help after all.  Where you guys staying?” she asks.  Keith looks to Deucalion, who nods approval.

 

“Town called Beacon Hills in south Cali, by the border.”

 

“Well shit, I’m in BH too,” she says.  “What kind of trouble are you in exactly?” she asks warily.  Deucalion nods again, not seeing any threat in this girl.

 

“Werewolf Pack war.  But the other side has these crazy powerful witches, so I’m calling everyone I know,” he answers.

 

“Werewolves, huh?” Lucy muses.  “It, uh, wouldn’t be that Alpha rumor I’ve been hearing about is it?”

 

“Yeah, actually it is.  How’d you hear about?”

 

“You guys haven’t exactly been subtle.  At least 4 ‘animal attacks’ within the last week?  Kidnapping teenagers?  I was thinking my boss was finally coming back to town, but I guess not.  You should tell your wolves that they’ve got half the magical community in an uproar.  You’re gonna have one hell of a fight on your hands,” she says.  Deucalion sighs at the news.  Just perfect.

 

“Thanks for the heads up, Lucy.  So, what do you think?  Willing to help?”

 

“Seeing as how your war is gonna be right in the middle of mine, I don’t see why not.  As long as you help us too, of course,” she says.

 

“Tell her to meet us and we’ll discuss it,” Deucalion says.

 

“Alright, the Alphas want to meet up.  You can name the place,” Keith says.  The Alpha wants to argue that, but figures he should play nice for now.

 

“I’m at a bar called The Jungle right now.”

 

“Jungle?!  Oh hell yes!” Aiden suddenly shouts.  He jumps to his feet, dragging his brother out the door with him.  Deucalion scowls at their retreating forms, but nods in agreement to Keith.  The witch quickly agrees to meet and the group sets out for the bar.  It’s an easy ten minute walk from the abandoned house and Deucalion grimaces when he finally sees it.  Clearly a gay club…not exactly his cup of tea.  Kalli claps her hands excitedly and sways her way to the door, not even bothering with the bouncer.

 

Once inside, the group freezes, detecting the power in the air.  That can’t be just the one witch.

 

“Keith!” a girl shouts.  A young, dark-skinned brunette makes her way through the crowd, swatting a few men on the asses as she goes.  He can immediately tell that the girl is quite powerful, but the power surge isn’t only coming from her.  Whatever it is, is coming from the dance floor.  We’re not the only ones in here.

 

“Lucy, hey,” Keith says, smiling as the girl gives him a quick hug.

 

“Oh, these must be your wolves.  Impressive,” she says.  He growls at the statement.  If anyone was being owned, it was the witches.  We are not their wolves.  “And testy too.  Nice,” she says, grinning at him.  Her gaze travels over the pack, eyes lingering appreciatively on Kalli.

 

“Care for a drink?” she asks the Alpha.  Kalli raises a brow at her forwardness, but smiles back.

 

“We’re not here to party,” Deucalion grumbles.

 

“Maybe you aren’t,” Aiden mutters, dancing his way into the crowd.  He grabs some young man and kisses him until Aiden gets his drink.  Deucalion rolls his eyes, not pleased with his pack mates behavior.

 

“I think I’ll follow his idea,” Kalli says, taking Lucy’s hand and going to the bar.  Unbelievable.  Ethan shrugs and drags Gloria out onto the dance floor.  Keith glances briefly at Deucalion, then quickly follows the two girls to the bar.  Utterly useless, all of them.  He stands in the corner, scowling as his mate grinds up on both Lucy and Keith, martini in hand.  He lurks there for a while, until some tiny brunette girl slides up to him.  There were only a handful of females in the room, but he was surprised to find any to be honest.  The woman leans against the wall next to him, but he tries to ignore her.

 

“I’ve never understood why wolves have mates.  Yours seems pretty unfaithful to me,” the girl says.  He looks down at her, brows furrowed.  She wasn’t wolf, witch, or vamp, but there was definitely something unnatural about her.  She nudges closer, looking up through her dark lashes.  “I’ve never been with a werewolf before.  What do you say?” she asks, resting a hand on his arm.  Deucalion grins at her and hastily pins her to the wall.  I know that smell…I really should have realized it earlier.

 

“I say you take your grimy demonic hand off me, girl.”

 

“Feisty.  I like it,” she says, pushing her body against his.

 

“There is a reason werewolves and demons do not mate.  You are nothing but a lowly parasite and I wouldn’t dream of touching you,” he snarls.  The girl frowns and steps away from him.

 

“Way to be racist,” she grumbles and then stomps away.

 

“Don’t mind her.  She’s just a horny little slut.  I tried to break her, but no such luck,” a man remarks.  Deucalion scowls at him, now understanding what the power surge had been.  There was an entire group of demons, plus the witch inside this club.

 

“Can I help you?” he grunts.

 

“I heard from that succulent witch that you’re looking for allies.  Wolf war, yes?” he asks.

 

“I don’t work with demons.”

 

“Oh, come now.  We’re not so bad.  You need power, we have it,” he says, grinning.  He was beyond sleazy, but he had a point.  Demons had a lot of power…and Deucalion wanted to win this war.  But why would they want to help?

 

“What’s in it for you?”

 

“Not a thing.  We just want to help you kill people,” he answers.  Deucalion crosses his arms, not believing that for one second.  The man frowns.  “Fine.  It’s the basic, we help you, you help us scenario.  This land is very special.  I want it.”

 

“No, this land will be mine,” he growls.

 

“I’ll make you a deal.  The only part I want is the cemetery.  You willing to split this land about 80/20?”

 

“No.”

 

“You are a stubborn little wolf, aren’t you?  That’s fine, the land was only an afterthought anyway.  How about this instead?  There are hunters descending on your town.  Help me kill them and I’ll help you win your war,” he says.

 

“A demon can’t handle a couple of hunters?” Deucalion taunts.  The man sips messily at his drink and glares at him.

 

“Let’s just say they are very special hunters.  They’ve got allies with great power.  With you and your witches, I too will have allies with great power.  How bout it?” he asks.  The Alpha thinks for a moment.  Now that the deal has changed, teaming up with them might be a good idea.  The fact that they’re demons is still bothering him, but perhaps if the pack meets the group, he’ll reconsider.

 

“You and your minions meet my pack in the alley in 5 minutes and we’ll talk,” he answers.  He moves away from the creature after that to find his mate, who’s now dancing with that brunette demon from before.

 

“Kalli!” he shouts.  His mate grins at him and waves him over.

 

“You know, for a demon, she isn’t half bad,” she says, eliciting a frown from the demon.  Deucalion sighs, shaking his head.

 

“Forget that.  We’re meeting her friends in the alley, come on,” he says, taking her roughly by the hand.

 

“Oh, I see.  You like them submissive,” the girl chuckles.  Kalli rounds on her, grabbing her throat and cutting off her air supply.

 

“I submit to no one, girl,” she snarls.  Technically not true, but I’ll let it go.  A blonde walks by them, power sizzling around her.

 

“I see you still can’t make friends, Ruby.  How sad,” she laughs.  Her laugh was slightly hysterical, the sound unnerving.  Kalli drops the demon, a brow raised at the blonde.  She glances at Deucalion and then quickly shuffles them towards the alley.

 

“This should be fun,” she whispers, taking his hand.  Deucalion calls the others to follow him and they drag the witches behind them.  Once in the alley, the pack is met with four demons and…a vampire?  He isn’t sure.  Three men and two women, all quite powerful it seemed.

 

“Glad you could make it.  I see you’ve already met Lilith and Ruby,” the man from before says.  The demon threw the brunette a slightly disgusted glare as he said her name, who simply rolled her eyes.  The blonde, Lilith apparently, waved her fingers at them all and an older man slung his arm around her shoulders and winked at Deucalion.  Demons…they’re all the same.  “Alastair’s the name, by the way.  And you are?”

 

“Deucalion,” he answers.  He noticed that Lucy had separated herself, standing by the side as to not align herself with either group.  The demon then turns to the rest of his pack.

 

“I was just explaining to Duke here, that we’re willing to help you in exchange for your help.  You see, most of us have had fatal run-ins with a certain pair of hunters and their…friends,” Alastair sneers.  “If you help us eliminate them, we’ll help you in this territory war.  What do you say?” he asks.

 

“Hey, if your host body dies, what happens to you?” Aiden asks.  Deucalion growls at him to be quiet.  The wolf shrugs and continues to stare quizzically at the demons.

 

“Ignore him.  We will work with you.  This other pack is stronger than we anticipated.  Their witches are quite powerful,” he says.

 

“Witches,” Ruby snorts.  “Please, like they’re a threat.”  The ground in front of her feet suddenly catches fire, but the flames puff out a moment later.

 

“Wanna rethink that?” Lucy asks.  Lilith laughs at Ruby’s startled expression.

 

“You didn’t say anything about born witches,” Ruby snaps.  Alastair rolls his eyes and turns back to Deucalion.

 

“Not a problem.  We can handle them.  Nice doing business with you,” he says, grinning.  Deucalion swears he didn’t even blink, but one minute the demons were there and the next they weren’t.  It was a bit disorienting to be honest.

 

“You really shouldn’t make deals with demons,” Lucy mutters.

 

“Is that what we just did?” Ethan asks, frowning.

 

“Duh, where were you?  Duke just sold our souls to the devil.  Literally,” Aiden says, glaring at him.

 

“That’s not what this is.  It’s just a small alliance.  And we need allies.  It will be fine,” Deucalion grumbles.  Kalli pats his chest and pecks his cheek.

 

“I believe you, dear,” she says, surprising him.

 

“Fine, it’s your choice.  I’ll talk to my boss when he gets here, but I’m still willing to help even if he isn’t.  Anyway, Keith buy me a drink you bum,” Lucy demands, heading back inside.  Gloria scowls at her and scoffs when her brother eagerly follows the witch into the bar.

 

“Come inside, my love.  We deserve a little fun,” Kalli says.  He reluctantly agrees, following his pack into the building.  Deucalion sits at the bar and watches with disdain as his pack mates get wasted.  We should be strategizing, not partying.

 

Tomorrow, we’ll get started tomorrow.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5 

Dean

 

The past few hours had been an anxiety filled haze as he paced the small room.  Usually he would ignore the pressure of Castiel’s absence, but this time felt different.  Gabriel was brought back with the single purpose to save him.  Save him from what?  Was this another Angel problem or was it something else?  Then there was Gabriel’s parting words:  I’m supposed to seek out some special vampire to be my back up.  Dean had no doubts on who that could be.  That’s just how their lives went.  Everything was always somehow connected even if it made absolutely no fucking sense.

 

Sam was fiddling around on his laptop, looking for a case they could pick up.  It had been surprisingly quiet lately, making Dean antsy and jonesing for a kill.  That’s all he’d been doing for the past two centuries and now that he was back, everything was just too calm, too normal, too sitting around doing nothing.  Purgatory had been easy, black and white, and no gray in between to fuck with you.  Either you killed or you died, simple as that.  He knew who he could trust and who he couldn’t.  Cas was always by his side and then Benny became…something.  Reluctant allies at first and then companions strong enough to convince Dean that a vampire was worth saving.  That a supposed monster was worth putting his life on the line.  Benny had definitely opened his eyes about the creatures he’d been hunting his entire life.  Sammy had come to that conclusion a long time ago with Lenore and her nest, but it took Dean a lot longer to accept it.

 

Although, since he’s been back his brother had been different.  Dean isn’t even going to poke at that burning hole in his chest that formed when Sammy admitted he never looked for him.  They were brothers; they were supposed to be there for each other no matter what.  Even after all the shit they’d been through, Dean had never given up on him, not once.  Yet, Sammy…

 

No, I said it didn’t matter and it doesn’t.

 

There were other things, other differences that Dean had noticed.  It’s like they had switched places on how they viewed the creatures they hunted.  Sam wanted to hunt and kill Benny, all because he was a vampire.  Dean understood the thinking, but Benny was a good guy, vampire or not.  Then there was the issue of Kevin.  He still couldn’t believe Sam had just abandoned the kid.  Kevin was their responsibility and Sam had just…I mean, what the fuck was he thinking?  They still hadn’t been able to track the little prophet down, either.  Kevin could be dead for all they knew.

 

Dean looked over at his brother, raising a questioning brow to ask if he’d found anything.

 

“There might be something, but not here.  Tennessee has been quiet…possibly too quiet, but there’s nothing to suggest that something’s wrong.  But like I said, I found something, but we would have to leave here-”

 

“Later, then,” Dean interrupted.  He wasn’t leaving until Castiel was back.  If they weren’t here, Gabriel wouldn’t be able to find them and he wasn’t taking that chance.

 

“Right, okay,” Sam mumbles.  Dean stalked to the fridge and peers into it with a scowl.

 

“We’re out of beer,” he grumbles.

 

“What?  I just bought some this morning.”

 

Dean shrugs, not even bothering to be worried that he had apparently drank 2 entire six packs by himself within one day.

 

“Whatever, let’s go eat,” he says, grabbing his keys.

 

“You go ahead.  I’m gonna do some more research,” Sam replies.

 

“Research, sure,” Dean chuckles on his way out.  He hopped into the impala, revved the engine and peeled away from the motel.  They had passed a small bar down the road, not the typical sleazy place he’d usually go to, but still a place that served alcohol and hopefully burgers.

 

Dean strutted in and immediately regretted his decision.  It was clearly one of those small town places where the bartender knew everyone by name and the customers gossiped about their neighbor banging the nanny.  He considered leaving for a moment, but then remembered his fridge was empty and took a seat on one of the stools.

 

“What can I getcha?” the bartender asked.  He seemed to be the typical laid-back, friendly on the outside, dick on the inside, kind of bartender.

 

“Bud Light,” he orders.  “You serve food here?” he asks after a moment.  The man hands him a small, one page menu.  “Burger is fine,” he says, not even glancing at it.  The bartender nods and goes to retrieve his order.  As he waits, he takes a look around, taking in the moping businessmen, chatting soccer moms and rowdy college kids.  A drunken sorority chick stumbles over to him and literally falls into his lap with a dazzling smile.

 

“Hey, I’m Candy.  My girls want to invite you home,” she giggles, waggling her eyebrows.  A cheer erupts from the corner, where a large table of college girls is raising their glasses towards him and beckoning him over.  Why the hell not…

 

“Well, Candy, why don’t you introduce me?” he asks, nodding towards her friends.  She giggles again and drags him off his stool.  He quickly grabs his beer from the frowning bartender.  What the hell is he so sour about?

 

Candy flops down into the middle of the booth, dragging Dean along with her, so he’s sandwiched between multiple drunken and horny college girls.  A curvy brunette sidles up to his side, her hand playing with his jacket.

 

“You’re new, aren’t you?  We know all the hot guys in town and I’m sure we would have noticed you before,” she purrs.

 

“Yeah, I’m just passing through,” he says, smiling down at her.

 

“Oh, a drifter, huh?  I can get on board with that,” a platinum blonde sighs.  She crawls over her friends and into his lap, earning a glare from Candy.  The girl straddles his lap, earning more glares from the other customers, but Dean didn’t really care.  If some hot sorority chick wanted to give him a lap dance, he wasn’t gonna complain.  He grabbed her hips as she gyrated to the music coursing through the small bar.  “You know, we always give new comers a special treat,” she whispers.

 

“Oh, yeah?  What’s that?” he asks, looking up at her.  She had a cute face and blazing blue irises.  His heart gave a strange lurch as he peered into her eyes and he quickly looked away from them.

 

“We take you home and do anything you want, all night,” she whispers.  “I personally like to dominate my men.  Whataya say?” she asks.  Dean grins at the group and says “Why the hell not?”  The girl on his lap giggles and pushes him further into the seat, forcing him to look up at her.  “Good, then tonight you’re my little bitch,” she says and crushes her lips to his.  I’m…what?  Wait – why did she…have to say…goddamn it.  Dean gently pushes her away with a nervous chuckle.  He glances at his watch, pretending to be startled by the time.

 

“You know what?  That really does sound amazing, but I just remembered I gotta be somewhere,” he says.  The girl on his lap glares for a minute and then hops off him with a scoff.

 

“Whatever.  We’re late for a party anyway,” she grumbles.  She snaps her fingers at the group and they quickly follow her out the door, except for a redhead who rolls her eyes and goes to sit at the bar.  Dean sighs as he watches them stroll out the door.  I just shot down an entire sorority, what the fuck?

 

“Burgers up!” the bartender calls.  Dean returns to his stool, which happens to be right next to the college girl that stayed behind.  He digs into his food and orders some drink they were advertising called Zombie.  He’s slightly displeased when he gets it, frowning at the amount of fruit he sees, but one sip and he changes his mind immediately.  The girl next to him orders the same thing, making him feel slightly embarrassed but whatever.  The drink tasted good and it was strong, just what he needed.  He’d already finished his beer when he was with the girls and it hadn’t cut it.  He had fucked up his chance to get laid and he didn’t feel like trying again, therefore alcohol was the next choice of distraction.

 

“Aren’t these amazing?” the redhead asks, sipping down her drink like a pro.  She was clearly too young to be in here, but it’s not like anyone seemed to care.

 

“Yeah, never had it before,” he replies.

 

“Mikky heard it was selling big in the cities and decided to try it.  Super glad he did because dude,” she says, sighing as she takes another long sip.

 

“Mikky?”

 

“The bartender, of course,” she says and then glances at him.  “Oh right, just passing through.  So…why’d you turn them down?  I’ve never seen anyone say no to Sasha,” she says, nibbling at a basket of chicken tenders.  Sasha…must be the platinum blonde giving the lap dance.

 

“Don’t know,” he says, shrugging.  He turns back to his Zombie drink, not wanting to analyze his previous actions.  The girl watches him for a moment before scooting closer.  I am really not in the mood to be hit on again.  He expects some sultry pick up line or sexual innuendo…but is surprised to get neither.

 

“I think I get it.  I saw the look in your eye.  You’re in love and it sucks,” she says, slurping her drink.  Her words have him freezing mid-bite.  He wasn’t in love with anyone.  Love was a mistake he’d made too many times before and he wasn’t going to do it again.

 

“I’m not in love,” he grumbles and downs the rest of his drink.

 

“Right,” she snorts.  He glares at her, but she only shrugs.  “Hey, I get it, man.  I really do.  Love sucks and people are dicks,” she says and then downs her drink too.  Dean wants to smile at that, but her expression told him he shouldn’t.  “Mikky, let’s start the game,” she calls to the bartender.

 

“The game?” Dean asks.  The girl jumps off her stool, runs to the stereo and puts some modern rock song on full blast.  He really prefers classic rock, but he’ll admit that some of the new stuff wasn’t too bad.  This one didn’t sound at all familiar and was a bit melancholy for his liking, but the redhead whooped loudly in triumphant when she found it.

 

“Oh no,” the bartender groans.  “Vanessa, it’s too early for this!” he calls, motioning for her to turn it off.  The girl scowls at him and turns it up louder.  A couple soccer moms are glaring something fierce, but Vanessa just flashes them a bright smile.  Small town bars…are never this fun, he thinks.  The girl prances back to the bar, slams her hand on the bar top and shouts “Game time, bitches!”

 

Dean can’t help the laugh, finally feeling that Zombie drink kicking in.  Vanessa turns to him then and smiles.

 

“It’s called Bastard on the Beach!  Another idea from the city!  It’ll knock you on your ass, that’s for damn sure!” she shouts over the music.  Dean shrugs and nods at the bartender, who sighs and begins to prepare whatever the hell this Bastard thing was.  Vanessa was dancing sporadically along with the music and belting out the lyrics at the top of her lungs.

 

“We are all prisoners…things couldn’t get much worse…I’ve had it up to here, you know your end is near…”

 

Dean was thankful that his drink came quickly after that, the words and this young girl’s angry singing unsettling him.  Vanessa ran over to grab her drink, all the while still stinging.

 

“You had to have it all…well have you had enough…you greedy little bastard…you will get what you deserve…” she sings.  By this point, a few of the businessmen had started in on the game, ordering drinks and cheering Vanessa’s dancing on.  It wasn’t the creepy leering cheers he’s used to from the big city bars, but the cheers between friends.  Like this girl was well known and many of these people enjoyed her company.  The bartender couldn’t keep the smile off his face as Vanessa even encouraged the snooty women that had scowled at her earlier to join in.

 

“This one’s called the Suffering Bastard, by the way!  It’s the first drink out of four,” Mikky says.  The Suffering Bastard…sounds about right.  Dean sips at this new drink and watches the group dance and shout along with the music.

 

“Intoxicated eyes, no longer live that life…you should have learned by now, I’ll burn this whole world down…I need some peace of mind, no fear of what’s behind…you think you’ve one this fight, you’ve only lost your mind.”

 

One of the suits grabs another guy in a headlock in playful roughhousing and Dean is surprised to watch it turn into a heated make out session instead.  Something stirs inside him at watching it, but he pushes it away.  He’d been with a few men over the years (not that he will ever ever admit that out loud) and it had been fun, but he just didn’t want to think about relationships or getting laid right now.  Oh my god, since when do I not want to think about that?

 

Since that bitch’s eyes reminded you of an Angel, his drunken mind supplies.

 

Dean sighs, ignoring his traitorous thoughts.

 

“When all is said and done…I will be the one to leave you in your misery and hate what you’ve become…”

 

Wow, this music kind of sucks,” he grumbles.  Those last words had literally ripped something out of him and left him feeling worse than when he came in here.  Maybe he needed more alcohol…

 

“Don’t let Vanessa hear you say that,” Mikky laughs.  “That girl comes in here at least 3 times a week and plays that crap.  The one time I told her it was crap, she nearly bit my head off,” he says, shaking his head fondly.  The song eventually (thankfully) comes to an end and Vanessa shouts that it’s time for Step 2.  Everyone quickly chugs the rest of their Suffering Bastards and Dean does the same, wincing slightly as it goes down.  Holy shit, that stuff was strong for something that had fruit floating in it.

 

“What’s this one called?” he asks.

 

“The Dying Bastard,” a voice says behind him.  Dean pauses, drink half way to his mouth as he registers the voice.  He gently rests his glass back onto the bar top and glances to his right, where the woman motions for the bartender.

 

“Give me both.  I gotta catch up,” she says.  Mikky nods and quickly mixes the drinks.  The brunette turns, giving him a dark smile and he’s really glad he brought his knife with him.  Vanessa plays the next song, which makes him realize that they are still in a public place and stabbing someone would probably be frowned upon.  “Oh, I know that face,” she chuckles and then gulps down her first drink.  “That’s the ‘I’m considering stabbing you in the face’ look,” she says after.  Dean only glares at her, still wondering what the fuck she’s doing here.

 

“Your faceless lies…your weak dead heart…your black dead eyes…” the song rang out.  The demon tilts her head at the stereo with a smile.

 

“How appropriate,” she says.

 

“What are you doing here, Meg?” he asks.

 

“Caught your scent, thought I’d drop in for a drink,” she answers and then takes a few gulps of her Dying Bastard.  Dean sighs and does the same, noticing it to be just as strong as the last one.

 

“You never just drop by.  And besides, I thought you were dead,” he grumbles.

 

“Well it’s nice to see you too,” she sighs.  “And yeah, I was, but I’m back and having a drink with my second favorite hunter,” she says, grinning.  Dean raises a brow at her.  “Sammy’s still before you on my list of favorites.”

 

Dean scowls at her.  “Why are you really here?”  Meg downs the rest of her drink just as Vanessa orders Step 3 for the entire bar.

 

“Ah, the Dead Bastard.  I think that applies to both of us, don’t you think?” Meg chuckles.  Dean quickly finishes his second drink and accepts his third (fourth if you’re counting the Zombie and fifth if you’re counting the beer…but really who counts these things?).

 

“No, pretty sure the only dead thing around here is you,” he says, flashing her a smile over his drink.  Meg snorts, but it’s mostly drowned out as the next song grows louder.

 

“When love dies in the end…so I’ll find what lies beneath…your sick twisted smile…as I lie underneath…your cold jaded eyes...”

 

Meg turns away from the stereo and orders four shots of tequila.  Dean raises a brow again, suddenly wondering how drunk demons can get.  Do they get hangovers?  She slides two of the shot glasses over to him and waits for him to get with the program.  Drinking with a demon…guess it’s not as weird as eating pizza with Death…so why not?

 

Dean downs the two shots with his sudden companion and then chases it with a few sips of his Dead Bastard.  Haha, that name still cracks me up.  She orders four shots of vodka after that and Dean is already regretting the morning to come.  They drink up as the song continues to play.  Vanessa bounces over to him and leans against the bar.

 

“Who’s your friend?” she asks.  Dean almost chokes because no Meg is so not a friend.

 

“Name’s Meg,” the demon answers and then hands the girl a shot too.  Vanessa squeals in delight, chugs it down and prances off back to the dance floor.

 

“Don’t carry me under…you’re the devil in disguise…God sing for the hopeless…I’m the one you left behind.”  Meg’s eyes flicker for a moment as she glares at the stereo.

 

“This music sucks,” she grumbles and tips back the rest of her drink.  “Hey Red!  Time for Step 4!” she calls.  Vanessa is a giggling mess and completely unsteady on her feet, as are most of the people in the bar.  Dean’s surprised to find himself a bit woozy as well.  It takes a lot of alcohol to get him to this point, but these were strong drinks.  Mikky grimaces as one of his customer’s falls flat on his face and he seems reluctant to serve anymore, but eventually complies.  Dean assumes he’s probably thinking of all the money this game is getting him.  Then he idly wonders who’s paying for all this, but figures if he has to he’ll just use his Dwight Johnson stolen credit card.  Both he and Meg groan when the next song is yet another by the band they’d been listening to all night.  If he had been listening to this music by himself, there’s a really good chance he’d be curled up in a ball somewhere trying not to kill himself.

 

Well, that thought didn’t help anything.  This next song is by far the worst and Dean is the one to order more shots this time.

 

“Days go on forever…but I have not left your side…we can chase the dark together…if you go then so will I…”

 

Trees fly by him as he runs.  Must move faster.  Lost him at least a mile back.  A Leviathan drops down in front of him and he doesn’t hesitate to bury his blade into its face.  It’ll be dark again soon…gotta find Cas.

 

His drink slips from his fingers, but Meg catches it easily and places it on the bar.  Dean doesn’t look at her, not wanting her to see whatever was happening with his expression.  He grabs for his drink again, ignoring the way his hands are shaking.  The demon at his side doesn’t comment and sips at her own drink.

 

“I’m looking for Crowley,” she says.

 

“Wouldn’t recommend that,” he retorts.  Meg shrugs and looks up at him.

 

“I’ve got a few new tricks up my sleeve.  I can handle him now,” she says.  Dean looks her over, something about her very presence more troubling than usual.

 

“Meg…where have you been?” he asks, not meeting her eyes.

 

“Where do you think?” she asks.  Dean doesn’t want to think about it, so he only shrugs.  “Exorcised demons go back to hell…killed demons are a different story.  You do the math,” she says.

 

The black smoke has been following him for days now.  It lingered in the shadows, but never attacked.  What did it want?

 

Dean glances down at her, but she looks away.  “Where is your Angel?” she asks.  He shifts away from her and swallows the rest of his Mai Tai.

 

“I don’t know,” he sighs.  The demon’s eyes flicker again.

 

“He made it out, right?”

 

“Yeah, he did,” Dean answers.  He turns to Mikky then and asks how much.

 

“It’s on Vanessa.  Always is,” he says.  Dean nods and heads for the door, not bothering to acknowledge the demon’s presence anymore.

 

“I keep holding onto you…but I can’t bring you back to life…sing the anthem of the angels…and say the last goodbye…”

 

Sam

 

After hours of research, he’d finally found a possible case…and maybe the place he’d been dreaming about.  It was a small town, maybe a little bigger than the one they were in now.  There’d been five animal attacks within the last week, strange natural occurrences ranging from freak storms to small earthquakes, and maybe the weirdest part…wolf sightings.  In California.  There wasn’t supposed to be any wolves in California.  Sam would think…you know, werewolves…but as far as he knew they didn’t actually morph into animals.  Skin-walkers, maybe?  But what about the storms and earthquakes?  Was that some Angel/prophecy thing gone awry or was it something else?

 

Sam grimaces as his head began to throb again.  Why was he having dreams again?  And was this the place or not?  With a frustrated grunt, he shut his laptop and lay back on the mattress.  Dean had been gone for a few hours already and hadn’t answered any of his texts.  It wasn’t uncommon, but with everything that had happened today, Sam didn’t like the sudden silence.  His brother was probably at a bar trying to drown his sorrows, which wouldn’t work unless he got totally shitfaced.

 

Just as he was about to send another text, Dean came stumbling in muttering something about sorority girls and bastards.

 

“You alright?” Sam asks.  His brother whirls around with a frown.

 

No,” he snaps.  Sam sat up at the unusually desperate tone.  Dean was normally angry during a drunken stupor, but there were rare occasions when he’d be more…of a mess, basically.  The depression got to him, along with the jumpiness, which started a long night of paranoia.  Sam really hoped it wasn’t one of those nights.  He would try his best to help his brother through it, but more often than not Dean would push him away.

 

“What happened?” he asks.  Dean stomps into the room, slamming the door on his way in.

 

“I’m not listening to her,” he grumbles.  Sam winces, really hoping the hallucinations weren’t starting this early.  Where the hell was Cas when he needed him?

 

“Not listening to who?”

 

“She says Crowley’s lurking around.  Well, I’m not fucking believing it,” he snaps, throwing his jacket across the room.  Sam stands and tries to place his hands on Dean’s shoulders to calm him down.  “Dude, don’t touch me,” Dean mutters.  He backs away and then stomps towards the bathroom, where he slams the door and locks it.  Sam sighs, not sure what to do.  You’d think he’d know how to handle this by now, but he just…didn’t.  He goes to knock on the door, but a gentle wind stops him.  Sam stands still, now knowing that the wind is a cue for Gabriel.  Hopefully there won’t be any screeching or glass breaking this time.

 

A loud flapping echoes around the room and they literally just materialize out of nowhere, right in the middle of the room.  I will never get used to that.  Sam gapes as he takes in the sight.  Castiel was beaten to a pulp and barely conscious.  Gabriel and Benny were holding him up between them and they gently plopped him down on the bed.  A quiet whimper escaped the broken Angel, making Sam wince.

 

The bathroom door swings open, a seemingly calmer Dean appearing.  His eyes widen at Castiel’s bloody body and he quickly crosses the room to make sure he’s alive.

 

“What the fuck happened to him?” he asks.

 

“Our dead sister tried to kill him,” Gabriel says nonchalantly.  Like it was no big deal.

 

“What?  Another Angel?  Who?” Dean asks, still frowning down at Cas.

 

“Anna, because that’s not getting old,” Gabriel grumbles.  The angel flops down on the other bed and Sam can’t help but scowl when the man burrows against his pillow, lying down to get comfortable.  Great, he’s probably not going to move either.  Guess I could sleep on the couch later.

 

“Wait…I thought Michael…uh, killed her?  No, vaporized her?  Or something…” Sam stutters.  Gabriel raises an amused brow at him, making the hunter glare back at him.

 

“That’s what I’d heard, but who knows?  I don’t really care to be honest,” Gabriel answers, shrugging.  Sam wondered if that was a lie.

 

“So, both you and Anna were brought back to life.  But you don’t know who did it?” Sam asks.  He keeps his focus on the angel, trying really hard to ignore the vampire in the room.  I mean, really what was Dean thinking?

 

“Bingo,” the angel says.  Dean is still hovering over Castiel, watching his every breath.

 

“Can’t you heal him?” Sam asks, nodding towards the other bed.

 

“I was told to save him, that’s it.  Not fix him after said saving,” he says.  Both hunters scowl at him until the man sighs dramatically and reaches across the space between the beds.  “Hand,” he orders.  Dean gently maneuvers Castiel’s arm so that Gabriel can reach his hand.  Once connected, Gabriel frowns in concentration.  “I don’t know for sure who resurrected us…but I’ve got a pretty good guess,” he mutters.  The angel doesn’t elaborate, even when Sam asks for an explanation.  He simply holds onto his fellow angel, slowly healing the wounds that wrack his body.

 

“Benny…how’d you get mixed up in this?” Dean asks.  Sam glances at the vampire, who’d been silently watching from the corner.

 

“Been in Purgatory a long time.  Picked up a few things about Angels and their sigils.  If you know where to press, they ain’t that hard to break,” he answers.  Sam doesn’t push for more, knowing that Dean doesn’t often like to talk about his stay in Purgatory.  He talks about it with Castiel, which Sam understands, but he still wishes Dean would open up to him.  The broken angel begins to stir finally, muttering something about his wings.  Gabriel sighs and gets to his feet, not taking his hand from the others.

 

“Move it,” he grumbles at Dean.  His brother reluctantly moves away, watching the angel warily.  Gabriel looks Castiel over, eyes lingering around his shoulders.  “Stand back,” he orders.  Sam pulls a stubborn Dean from the bed and backs away towards the wall.  The archangel places his hands on Cas’ shoulders and thunder instantly crackles through the room.  The lights flicker as the noise increases and the walls tremble.  Bright white and slightly transparent wings spread out from between Gabriel’s shoulders, stretching clear across the room.  Castiel’s appear a moment later, long and black.  They untwist with a sickening slowness, making the younger angel seize up in torment.  Cas’ eyes fly open, burning a bright white-blue hue, making the others squint.

 

It lasts a few more moments, until the angel’s wings are finally stretched out properly and lying relaxed and unharmed around his shoulders.  When Gabriel retracts his hands, the room returns to normal.

 

“Thank you,” Cas says, looking up at his brother.  Gabriel only grunts and moves back to the other bed.

 

“Well, that was a hell of a show.”

 

They all turn to the voice, everyone frowning at the intruder.

 

“Long time no see, Moose.”

 

Castiel

 

Now that his body wasn’t a crumpled mess of misery and pain, he pulls himself up to glare at the demon.  He ignores the strange presence of his brother’s power that still courses around him.  So, it had been Gabriel and Benny that had saved him.  Castiel is grateful, but suspicious at the same time.  His brother was supposed to be dead, as was his sister and yet they’d both reappeared today.  One to have him tortured, the other to save him.  It really didn’t make any sense.  But nothing made sense lately.  Like how he got out of Purgatory, or where all these angels kept coming from, or why a vampire would save him, or why Crowley is here.

 

Or why Dean is staring at him like that.  Again.

 

Castiel had heard him earlier, that panicked tone he sometimes gets.  Though he could easily root around and find why Dean was acting strangely, he didn’t want to breach his privacy.  Again.  He knew Dean didn’t like that.  They’d spent a long time chasing each other in Purgatory.  Castiel would try to lead the enemy away, but Dean kept running after him.  He supposes it’s another human trait that eludes him.

 

“What are you doing here?” Sam asks.  The demon frowns, displeased with the rude greeting.

 

“I’ve come to offer you a deal of sorts,” Crowley says.

 

“We learned our lesson.  We don’t make deals with demons anymore,” Sam answers.  Dean is still silent at his side, that shine in his eyes telling Castiel he’d been drinking, and heavily.  He was still looking at him funny, but Castiel tried to ignore it and focus on the threat in the room.

 

“Fair enough.  But I think you might want to hear this one out,” Crowley says.  The demon plops himself down on the couch, coat fanning out around him.  “Where’s the hospitality?  Don’t I get a drink?” he asks, brows raised.

 

“Right?  Where’s my martini and foot rub, Samsquatch?” Gabriel chuckles.  Sam glares at him, not pleased at all.  The angel waggles his brows at him and wiggles his now bare feet.  Castiel sighs in annoyance at his brother’s antics.  This was not the time.

 

“Angels, demanding little things,” Crowley mutters.  Gabriel scowls at him and his shoes just magically appear back on his feet.

 

“What is this deal, Crowley?” Castiel asks, impatient.

 

“Some kind of gate has opened and my enemies as well as yours have resurfaced.  I want the Hardy Boys to do their job and investigate.  In exchange, I will help in any way I can.  If you solve this little mystery and push them back in their hole, you’ll have immunity from me.  What do you say?” he asks.

 

“I say you haven’t explained enough.  What gate was opened and who’s out?  Out of where?” Sam asks.  Crowley sighs and puts his feet up on the table.

 

“If I had those answers, I wouldn’t be here.  Now, are you going to do it or not?”

 

Castiel looks to Dean, who’s now glaring at Crowley in disapproval.  He has the sudden urge to order him to stay back while he handles the demon, but Dean would definitely not appreciate that.

 

“How do you know a gate-” he begins to ask.  The door to the motel room bursts open, splinters flying as the lock brakes.  Everyone (except Gabriel) is instantly on their feet and on alert.  Castiel hadn’t even noticed, but he’d placed himself instinctually in front of his charge, shielding him from whatever the threat may be.  He can feel Dean trying to move him, but he won’t.  Not until they know what’s happening.

 

Once the confusion fades and he sees the person in the doorway, he’s much less tense, letting Dean push him to the side.

 

“Meg?” Sam asks.  His brows furrow and he glances at Dean, but Castiel doesn’t take his eyes off the new demon.  Her hair is dark as always and ruffled from the wind, eyes alight with adrenaline.  He’ll admit, for a demon she was pretty.  Ever since that kiss, he’d felt a strange pull towards her, something about her soul familiar.  He thought he’d felt it in Purgatory as well, but last he knew she’d been alive.  Castiel may have experimented with that kiss with her, but it had just been curiosity.  It had been strange at first, but he’ll admit it was enjoyable.  But he can’t deny that every time Meg was near, his connection with Dean inexplicably grew louder and more intense.  It was just one more thing that didn’t make sense.

 

As she pranced into the room, all swaggering confidence, Castiel was distracted by the heat at his side, where Dean was standing passively.  He itched to touch the mark he left on the human, which still burned brightly against his skin, but refrained.  It would be inappropriate.  Dean glances at him, eyes searching his expression, but Castiel quickly looks away.  No time for this.

 

Crowley stalks around the couch, eyes on Meg.

 

“And here I thought I’d already killed you,” he says.  Meg let’s a long blade slide out of her jacket sleeve, gripping it tight in her hand.  It’s definitely from Purgatory, the symbols giving it away.  So she was there.  “Come to try again, then?” Crowley asks and then grins.  “You think it a wise decision?”

 

“I’ve learned from the last time,” Meg grumbles.  The light shines off her blade, giving it an unnatural glow.

 

“And what’s the motivation this time?  Revenge for killing you?” Crowley asks.  Castiel can’t help the frown his words produce.  Crowley had killed Meg…it wasn’t exactly surprising, but it still bothered him.

 

“You know exactly why I’m here,” she snaps.  Crowley smirks.

 

“I suppose I do.  You realize this is futile, yes?  I’m not going to give you what you want,” he says.  The woman lunged then, swinging her blade.  Crowley dodges it easily, teleporting away from her.  The demon snaps his fingers, lighting the woman’s blade on fire.  She drops it with a shout, her hand blistered badly.  Castiel lifts a hand, throwing Crowley against the wall and holding him there.  Meg is quick to retrieve her weapon and place it at the demon’s throat.

 

“Give me what I want and I’ll consider sparing your life,” she hisses.

 

“You wouldn’t dare kill me.  There’s only one way you’re here and if you want to stay alive, you’ll need me,” Crowley says.

 

“How do you figure?”

 

“I’m assuming Daddy made it out too, or else you wouldn’t be here.  You really think him and his allies are going to just let you go?  Clearly you escaped from their clutches once.  Think you’re strong enough to do it again?” he asks.  Meg’s expression hardens, the blade digging into his skin.

 

“I can take care of myself, chuckles.  You might want to do as I say before I chop your head off,” she says.  Crowley sighs, glaring down at her.

 

“Fine.  I’ll make you a deal.  You help these morons kill Daddy and friends and I’ll consider your request,” he says.   Meg frowns and looks back at Castiel.  He’s still fascinated by the light in her eyes that a fight brings on.

 

“You’re helping him?” she asks.  Dean steps forward, calm and collected.

 

“We were only discussing it.  He mentioned a gate being opened.  How’d you get out?” he asks.  Meg frowns at him, unwilling to give her secrets away.

 

“It doesn’t matter.  What matters is that Crowley returns what’s mine,” she says, turning back to the demon.  Crowley scoffs and rolls his eyes.

 

“It’s not very nice to act like she’s property, you know.  Quite rude,” Crowley says.  Meg’s eyes flicker as she brings the knife back and lodges it into his left shoulder.  The demon cringes and tries to break free from Castiel’s hold, but his powers are no match for a Seraph.

 

“Property of Meg sounds a hell of a lot better than slave to the King,” she snaps and twists the hilt, digging the blade in further.  Crowley’s eyes flick to red as he continues to struggle.  While the three of them have been fighting, the boys have been passively watching, trying to figure out what’s going on.  Benny’s taken to leaning against the wall and seems bored.  Gabriel is still lounging on his bed and has been munching on popcorn while he watches the scene.  Castiel shakes his head, annoyed with him all over again.

 

“Alright, alright!” Crowley grunts.  “I’ll release her if you agree to work with us.”

 

“Woah, wait,” Dean says.  “We haven’t agreed to any of this.”

 

“Well you might want to reconsider,” Crowley says.  “Meg, why don’t you tell them who will be coming after them?  I’m sure they’ll be delighted,” he grumbles.  The woman glares at him and doesn’t seem to want to give an answer, until Dean impatiently prompts her.

 

“There were certain demons I needed for my escape to work,” she says.  Meg retracts her knife from Crowley and turns to the rest of the group.  “Chances are they will be hunting you.  And soon.”

 

“Who?” Sam asks.  Meg sighs, hesitating again.  Castiel watches something like guilt cross her face, but she quickly covers it before the humans can track it.

 

“Look, you really don’t want to know.  I suggest you run like hell and you do it now,” she says.  Sam and Dean glance at each other, nervous by her words.

 

“Running won’t do them any good, Meggy,” Crowley says from the wall.  She whirls, the knife flying from her hand and piercing in his right forearm, pinning him even more to the wall.  Crowley simply grunts at the pain and glares at her.

 

“He’s right.  Running never works.  Just tell us,” Sam says.

 

“I didn’t have enough power on my own, so I needed some heavy hitters.  Alastair, Azazel, and Lilith,” she answers.  The boys both stare at her, seemingly in shock.  Castiel won’t admit it out loud, but those names, all hunting his humans down at the same time?  This does not look good.  “Oh and another chick tagged along.  Said her name was Ruby.”

 

Sam chokes on air and runs his hands through his hair.  Dean still hasn’t said anything, a deep frown on his face as he takes it all in.  In a rare moment, Castiel feels nervous about this possible battle.  The boys had to face these enemies once already and barely came out alive…and sane.

 

Gabriel suddenly scoffs, popcorn disappearing and gets up from the bed.

 

“I can practically feel the panic.  Come on, guys, this is nothing.  Archangel versus demons?  Piece o’ cake,” he says.

 

“Right?  Because you can just blow them off the map with your angel mojo.  Right?” Sam asks.  Even Castiel winces at the blatant fear in his voice.  It was unusual for Sam to lose his cool anymore, so it was even more unsettling.  Gabriel smiles softly at him for a moment.

 

“Damn straight, baby,” he says.  Castiel tilts his head, trying to figure out the strange aura pulsing around his brother.  Gabriel glares at him for it.  “Let’s not ruin the moment, bro,” he grumbles.  Castiel, confused, looks towards Dean…who looks just as confused.

 

“Not that all this staring ain’t cute and all, but what’s the plan here?” Benny asks.

 

“I’ve already told you the plan,” Crowley snaps.  “These two morons take them down with the help of their rambunctious pack of squirrels.  Now, let me down from here!” he grunts.

 

“If we do this, you are helping as well,” Castiel says.

 

“Oh, I don’t think so.  The King doesn’t fight his own battles.  Every war is won by the stupid bastards willing to be front line, didn’t you know?” he asks, brows raised in mock humor.

 

“Either you help us, or I kill you,” he says calmly.  Crowley relaxes against the wall, a smirk on his face.

 

“The old ‘submit or die’ routine?  Now, I thought you were better than that Ninja Turtle, Cas?” Crowley asks.  His words struck a nerve that Cas thought he’d buried long ago.  Out of anger, he let fire erupt at the demon’s feet.  He was done with his attitude.

 

“Change of heart.  Your life isn’t worth sparing,” Castiel says.

 

“Just like old times.  Do I not at least get a ‘flee or die’ line this time?  Just death for the King, is that it?” he snaps.  Castiel increases the heat, the flames licking up the wall around the demon’s body.

 

“Castiel, don’t,” Meg says.  He ignores her.  “Cas, I need him alive!  He hasn’t given her back yet!” she shouts.  The man’s coat catches flame, satisfying Castiel’s anger.

 

“Cas, wait,” Dean says.  Castiel’s view of the demon is blocked when the human moved in front of him.  Wide hazel eyes stare down at him, effectively killing the rage that had suddenly welled up in him.  The fire dies, leaving the walls charred and black.  “Even with all your powers, we still may need him,” Dean says.

 

“Like I said lover boy, I am not a soldier in your war,” Crowley mutters.  Dean huffs in annoyance and turns to glare at him.  Lover boy?  What did he mean by that?  Castiel tries to read the demon’s mind, but there’s only static.

 

“As of right now, you are.  You either accept your fate, or I let the angels deep fry your ass,” Dean snaps.  Crowley seems to actually listen to his words, eventually nodding in agreement.  The hunter turns to the other demon next, face pinched with annoyance.  Castiel respected him very much in this moment.  He knew how much Dean hated working with demons, for any reason, yet here he was begrudgingly teaming up with them in a time of great crisis.  “You willing to help us, Meg?”

 

“Not until-”

 

“He gives her back, right,” Dean says, nodding.  “Whoever that is,” he mutters.  He turns to Crowley, eyes expectant.

 

“Oh, you can’t be serious.  The girl signed her life away.  The contract makes her my slave for the rest of eternity.  End of story,” Crowley snaps.

 

“No,” Meg says calmly.  “She made a deal and she paid her due with her life.  Her death was all she owed you and you know it.”  Crowley scoffed.

 

“Demons caring for each other.  What has the world become?” he mumbles.

 

“Meg, no offense, but we’re already swimming in demons,” Sam says.  “I don’t think it’s a good idea to add another.”

 

“I don’t get her, you don’t get me.  Simple as that,” Meg answers with a shrug.

 

“Fine.  Crowley release whoever it is,” Castiel demands, making the decision for them.  They were wasting time arguing about this.  If the newcomer ended up being a problem, he’d kill her.  Castiel let the demon from the wall, staying tense in case he tried to vanish.

 

“Calm down, I’m not going anywhere,” he grumbles.  He snaps his fingers then.  The clinking sound of chains sends them all on alert.

 

“Holy shit,” Dean whispers.  The woman was a filthy mess, wrists and ankles chained together.  Her hair was matted down with sweat, skin smeared with dirt and grime.  She wore simple human clothing, but it was in tatters, barely hanging on her body.  Castiel had no idea who she was, but the boys’ faces clearly said that they did.  Meg approaches her carefully, sheathing her knife in the process.  The woman’s eyes narrow suspiciously and she fidgets, clearly wanting to escape her bonds and the room altogether.

 

“Who are you?” she snaps at Meg.  The demon actually startles at the vehemence in the other’s tone, but quickly recovers, a determined expression crossing her face.  She quickly invades the woman’s personal space, hands grabbing her arms before she can run.  The woman’s eyes flick to black for a moment at the contact, breath hitching, body trembling.  Meg frowns and he’s surprised to see a shimmer in her eyes.  Castiel had assumed demons didn’t feel emotions, at least not ones that didn’t involve negativity or malice.  Dean glances at him, clearly surprised as well.  Meg tries to hold the woman closer, but she whimpers and tries to break free.

 

“Baby, it’s me, it’s okay,” Meg whispers.  The woman’s eyes return to their natural green as she looks the other over uncertainly.

 

“Meg?” she asks.

 

“Yeah, that’s right.  You’re safe now,” she answers.  Meg looks down to the chains that still bind her for a moment.  Crowley sighs, snaps his fingers again and the metal falls to the floor in a heap.  Meg runs her fingers through the lank brunette waves, a tentative smile on her face.  “You’re free,” she says.  A giant grin spreads across the woman’s face as tears come to her eyes.

 

“Free,” she repeats.  Meg nods, trying to pull her close again.  The smile falters slightly and the other pulls completely away from Meg’s grasp, a frown forming.

 

“You left me,” she says.  The demon flinches as if struck, but doesn’t dispute the accusation.  The woman shakes herself, pushing the despair away as she turns to the rest of the room.

 

“Sam and Dean.  Why am I not surprised?” she asks.

 

“Bela,” Dean greets with a nod.

 

“Heard you two actually got her, in the end,” she says with a small smile.  Dean grimaces and then sighs.

 

“Yeah, we did.  But it didn’t come without a price,” he replies.  The entire room is somber at that, knowing full well that the apocalypse was barely stopped.  “And apparently it didn’t stick,” he grumbles.

 

“What?”

 

“Lilith,” Meg says.  “She’s alive.”

 

“But she was in-” Bela starts.  She looks to Meg then, frown deepening.

 

“You set her free,” she whispers in disbelief.

 

“I didn’t have a choice.  It was the only way I could escape and get back to you,” Meg says.  Bela barks out a bitter laugh.

 

“Don’t pretend you did it for me.  If you really cared, you never would have left in the first place.  We could have…we were fine where we were and-”

 

Fine?  You call being a slave fine?” Meg shouts.

 

“It was horrible, I won’t deny that!  But we were in it together and you left me there alone,” Bela shouts back.

 

“Yeah, to kill him!  To set us both free!  Why can’t you see that?!” Meg asks.

 

“Because you died for it!  So what good did it do?!” Bela cries.  Meg deflates at that and tries to move closer again, but Bela backs away, angry tears in her eyes.  Everyone is silent for a while, until Meg sighs and turns away from her.

 

“Why don’t you get cleaned up?  We’ll talk about this later,” she says and then vanishes.

 

“I’ll be in your shower,” Bela says and then storms into the bathroom.  The men all look at each other, not sure how to react to what happened.

 

“Well, if this soap opera is finished, I’ll see you nightmares later,” Crowley says.  Castiel is about to intervene, restraining him yet again so he can’t flee.  “Don’t get your wings in a twist.  I’ll come back when you’re ready to leave,” the demon says and then vanishes as well.

 

“I thought it was entertaining,” Gabriel says and then flops onto a bed.  Sam huffs and glares at him, arms crossed.

 

“So, what’s the plan?” he asks.

 

“The plan,” Dean says, crawling onto the other bed.  “Is to sleep.  We can deal with all of this shit in the morning,” he grumbles, pressing his face into a pillow.  Sam eyes his own bed where Gabriel is sprawled on one side and the free couch.  Benny glances at the couch as well, waiting for Sam to decide.

 

“No vamps in my bed,” Gabriel grunts.  “Why don’t you join me Sam?” he asks, waggling his eyebrows.

 

“Ha, no,” Sam answers.

 

“Fine, suit yourself.  I’m sure the floor is very comfortable,” the angel retorts.  Sam rolls his eyes, but eventually lies down, leaving a wide gap between them.  Benny doesn’t hesitate to plop himself down on the couch, grabbing a blood bag from inside his large jacket and chowing down.  Castiel frowns, but the vampire only shrugs at him.  I suppose it’s better than feeding live.

 

Castiel looks apprehensively at Dean’s sleeping form before quietly sitting down next to the hunter, leaning up against the wall.

 

“Cas, what’re you doing?” Dean mumbles against his pillow.  His eyes were still closed, but he knew the only one brave enough to approach his bed was the angel.

 

“Watching over you from a close proximity,” he answers.  Dean snorts and peeks up at him.

 

“Whatever, dude,” he grumbles.  The hunter drifts off a moment later, content with the angel at his side.  Castiel watches him sleep for a moment before reaching out and hesitantly running a finger along the mark he left on the human.  The man shivered in his sleep at his touch and the angel instinctively places his hand over the print.  Dean, still fast asleep, shuffles closer until his arm wraps around Castiel’s middle, bringing the mark closer.

 

Castiel worries for a moment about the other’s seeing this behavior, knowing Dean wouldn’t like to be seen as vulnerable.  He looks up, but finds the vampire asleep after having polished off his dinner; Sam’s giant form sprawled over half his bed already and Gabriel was curled against his side, a hand on his chest.  Castiel never understood why his brother always chose to sleep, rather than stay awake.  As angels, they didn’t need sleep like humans, but they could do it.  Castiel just never found any use for it, but seeing Gabriel lay out against the human he seems to have bonded with, he can perhaps see the desire for it.  The demon, Bela, was still in the shower and didn’t seem to be coming out anytime soon.

 

Meg and Crowley were off who knows where, so Dean was safe.  Castiel felt comfortable running a hand through the hunter’s short hair as he often had in Purgatory, when Dean would pass out due to exhaustion.  The angel was used to watching over the man while he slept, but it seemed different on earth.  Dean was more hesitant to accept his touch, his walls slamming back into place once they returned.  Castiel worried about him more often than not.  He knew about the nightmares and the hallucinations, having to calm him when his mind let the darkness in.

 

Dean, though he was physically strong and the best fighter Castiel had ever seen, was still fragile underneath all his bluster.  He was human and breakable and the angel did his best to hold him together.  He was still ashamed at how Dean had to take care of him when he became power hungry and let the souls in.  Dean had been angry, yet still tried to save him.

 

The man’s actions were still a mystery to him at times.

 

Why does he keep saving me?  Why do I keep saving him?

 

What is this feeling when I hold him?

 

The angel was confused to say the least.

 

Ruby

 

“Keep your hands off the wolves from now on,” Alastair hisses.  Hands run along her waist and she moves away from him, sickened by the very sight of him.

 

“I can do whatever I want, you don’t own me,” she snaps.

 

“Why are we waiting for Dean to come to us?” the vampire asks.  “We should hunt him and his abomination of a brother down first.”

 

“Patience, vampire.  The Winchesters’ will come to Beacon Hills and be unaware of our presence.  A surprise attack is best when dealing with them,” Alastair says.

 

“Yeah, well, uh,” he chuckles.  “You can sit here and make your little deals with werewolves all you want.  I’m going after those hunters and that bitch you let escape.”

 

“That bitch,” Azazel snaps.  “Happens to be my daughter, blood-sucker.”

 

“Right,” he chuckles again.  “Still gotta get used to that one.  Monsters with families,” he says, shaking his head.

 

“The man is right.  Meg could be useful if she joins us.  I am her mentor after all,” Alastair smirks.  Ruby rolls her eyes.  The male posturing was getting old.  She didn’t give a shit who did what when.  As long as these bastards got her through this war alive, she didn’t give a crap about their pasts.  But now that she knew born witches were involved, the future looked a bit grim.  Witches who got their powers from demon deals, as she had once upon a time, were nothing…easily manipulated and handled.  But these humans that were natural born witches?

 

Basically, they were fucked.

 

“Baby, I’m hungry.  Find me dinner,” Lilith whined at Azazel.  The man grins and pecks her on the lips.

 

“Not a problem, baby doll.  Lots of mommy’s with swaddled babies to choose from around here,” he says.  Lilith giggles, making the others grimace.

 

“We can’t waste time with that.  It’s time to observe the enemy, children,” Alastair says.

 

“My only enemies are The Winchesters’.  I didn’t agree to be a part of your demon-wolf war.  I got my own agenda and I intend to follow it,” Gordon says.  He flees then, before they can kill him.  Damn bastard was faster than every other vampire she’d seen.  He’d hitched a ride with them, clawing his way out of Purgatory after they landed.  If he killed Dean before she got the chance, she would chop his head off, shoving him back into his hole.  Ruby wasn’t too worried because his main target was Sam, as was Alastair and Lilith’s.  The only one wanting to hunt Dean besides herself was Azazel…which, if he challenged her for the kill, she was utterly fucked there too.

 

So, again, she was basically screwed no matter the angle.

 

“Forget him.  If we’re going to fight in this stupid werewolf territory war, we need to learn more about our new enemies,” Alastair says.  Ruby agrees, seeing as how if the wolves were going to work with them, that just meant more protection for her.

 

“That female Alpha told me their leader lives in the Beacon Hills Preserve,” she offers.  Alastair grins at her.

 

“You’re not as useless as I thought,” he leers.  “Azazel, you’re with me and the girl.  Lilith, watch the portal,” he orders.  Ruby did not appreciate being called ‘the girl’.  The lovers kiss goodbye with a passionate lip lock, making both herself and Alastair glare in revulsion.  Once Lilith leaves, the three teleport to the edge of this preserve.  It’s still dark, but she could see easily through the dense forest by the light of the moon.  It wouldn’t be full for at least another week, so she didn’t need to worry about out of control werewolves.

 

“Where do we look?” she wonders aloud.

 

“Werewolves want to protect their territory more than their own lives,” Azazel says.  He begins a lazy stroll into the forest, expecting the other two to follow.  “They would be set up right in the middle of it, so that they could watch all angles for enemies,” he adds.

 

“If that’s true, then we can’t just waltz right up the front lawn,” she argues.

 

“Actually, that’s exactly what we need to do.  We’ll stay in the shadows and watch from afar.  They will detect our presence, but chances are they won’t approach us unless we make the first move,” he says, whistling as he walks.  Alastair is glaring at his back, obviously not liking the sudden switch in leadership.  But Azazel had been in Purgatory for much longer than any of them and had a run-in with an entire pack that had taken over a densely forested corner.  He had apparently studied their behavior for many years, learning what he could about these elusive creatures.  They were very hard to track and kill in Purgatory; very good at hiding.

 

Ruby hadn’t thought much of it because she believed werewolves to be beneath her.  They were just another of Eve’s children, running amok on Earth like they actually belonged.  At least she had been human at one point…not that she could remember it.  That overgrown mutt and his mate actually had the nerve to say that demons were inferior to them, like that made any sense.  Eve had been so easy to kill, those hunters taking her down within a few weeks.  It took them two years to kill Ruby as well as Lilith, at least a year to kill Alastair, and they spent more than half their lives tracking down Azazel.  Any child from a mother so easily murdered, isn’t worth an actual fight.

 

Yet here she is, convincing herself this is the only path that will lead her to Dean.  She knows though, that if she goes out on her own like Gordon, she’ll die quickly.  She has no doubt that she could take down the hunters on her own, but they still have angels up their sleeves.  Angels were always the problem ever since Dean Winchester was sent down the chute.  They were loyal to a fault to a father that let his world go to shit at the hands of his children.  Ruby didn’t understand why humans and angels alike prayed to a being like that.

 

Although, she supposes she can’t say anything.  She had been a loyal follower to Lucifer, believing that if she set him free, he would reward her.  But instead, he let her rot in Purgatory for 600 years, not even batting an eye in her direction.  Unbelievable.

 

They trudged through the muddy leaves, the recent storm having soaked the entire forest.  She scowled at the ground as it stuck to her boots in thick globs.  Up ahead she could see a clearing with a large house silhouetted by the moonlight.  The fog had predictably rolled in, mist dancing in the light all around the house.

 

As they got closer, she couldn’t believe this was the place.

 

“This can’t be it.  Why would they live here?” she asks.

 

“As long as a pack stays together, it doesn’t matter where they den,” Azazel answers.  She still didn’t believe it.  The house had burned to the ground and was barely standing.  It looked as if even the slightest wind would knock it down.  Her attention was pulled away by the rustling of leaves on the other side of the clearing.  The demons quickly shifted into the darkness, not wanting to provoke whoever or whatever it may be yet.  This was strictly a reconnaissance mission.

 

Three burly men and a small girl emerged from the trees, covered in dirt and sweat.  The dark-skinned one was dragging a heavy bag covered in blood stains behind him.

 

“Derek, we can’t just hide here while everyone-” the girl starts.

 

“They’ll be fine,” Derek snaps.  He turns to the group with a hard glare as they approach the run down house.  “You will stay here and you will protect each other.”

 

“But Derek-” she tries.

 

“Do not argue with me!” he snarls, eyes flashing a deep red.  The girl flinches away from him and the older wolf growls at him.

 

“Boyd, take her inside,” the older one says.  The young dark wolf gently prods the redhead into the house, who stops putting up a fight at another vicious growl from the Alpha.  Once they were inside, the older man gets right into the other’s face.

 

“You need to calm down.  Pushing away the rest of your pack isn’t going to help you,” he says, poking the Alpha hard in the chest to gain his attention.

 

“What pack?!” he growls, shoving the man away.

 

“Don’t do that.  You disconnect now and you won’t come back.  And what about Stiles, huh?” he asks.  The Alpha visibly cringes away from the question, but the older man doesn’t back down.  “If you turn feral, where does that leave him?  When he pulls through this, he’s going to need you.  You know that.  You cannot do this to him, I won’t let you,” he growls. 

 

Derek turns away from him, hands in his hair as he calms himself down.  His neck cracks, as if readying for a shift, but Ruby can see him shove it down.  She was finding this all very eye opening.  That Alpha Pack may have thought their enemy was strong, but from where she was standing this pack had been torn apart.  They were clearly hanging on by their fingertips, one more giant push would have them collapsing.

 

“What do I do?” Derek asks quietly.  He didn’t turn around, so he missed the saddened expression on the older wolf.

 

“You go to Stiles.  Be with your mate,” he answers.  Derek winces at the word, but doesn’t say anything.  “Boyd and Lydia will be safe here.  I’ll go to Deaton’s and check on your wolves,” he says.  Derek nods, still not looking at the other.  They take off in different directions.  Alastair motions for Azazel to stay put and Ruby to follow the older wolf.

 

She doesn’t particularly like taking orders from him, but she supposes this will give her something to do until the Winchesters’ inevitably show.  The wolf is quite fast and his stealthy movements have her quickly losing him amongst the trees.    Ruby stops to listen, trying to hear his running feet in the distance.  There is only silence, broken by the occasional hoot of an owl and chirp of a grasshopper.

 

The pattering of raindrops landing on piles of dried leaves grates on her nerves.  It was a distraction she didn’t need.  Ruby pulls out her knife, unsure if the wolf was long gone or lurking in the darkness.  She caught a bright flash of blue before she was grabbed from behind and thrown against a tree.  Sharp canines snapped at her face as the wolf wrapped a hand around her throat.

 

“Why are you following me?” he growls.  He loosens his grip enough for her to speak.

 

“I-I wasn’t,” she chokes.

 

“You’re lying,” he snarls.  His teeth snap at her again, chest expanding as he breathes in her scent.  “You smell like Alphas, sweetheart.  I think you better start giving me some answers,” he says.  Ruby drags out her second blade and buries it in the wolf’s stomach.  The man doubles over, giving her the advantage to land a kick to his head.  He stumbles, but doesn’t go down.  Ruby watches in horror as the wolf pulls her knife out with only a grunt.  The wound was deep and jagged and yet he wasn’t going down.

 

When did silver stop being a lethal weapon against werewolves?  Had they actually evolved since she’d last dealt with them?  The wolf shifts, canines growing even longer, eyes a bright sapphire, hair growing along his face, and claws sprouting.  She’d never seen one like this.  Ruby hadn’t met the ones in Purgatory…was this what Azazel meant?  He’s talked about how they’d modernized with the times, but naturally she hadn’t believed him.

 

Ruby doesn’t stick around to see how powerful he might be.  She teleports, landing outside the preserve.  An angry howl rumbles through the trees, sending a shiver down her spine.  There’s an immediate response, slightly lower pitched and quieter, but a response nonetheless.  She slowly backs away from the trees and onto the damp street, eyes searching her surroundings.

 

Another howl, this one higher than the first two but still clearly male in its frequency, rang from further in town.  A second one joined it, high pitched and worried.  They were pretty far away, so she relaxed somewhat, the older wolf being the only threat nearby.

 

Her entire body jerks, however, from the sheer power driving the final roar that erupts from the other side of town.  It echoed around her, stealing her breath away with its force as the wolf came closer to the forest.  Not a moment later, a great black beast barrels out of the trees.  It skids to a halt on the street, red eyes boring into her, teeth glistening in the moonlight.

 

Ruby ran, her thoughts too scrambled to teleport.  The wolf took chase, paws slapping the concrete, drowning out the pounding of her heels.  Her breath puffed around her in the cold air as she pushed herself harder.  At one point, she turned and tried to move him away with her powers, but it barely slowed him down.  She wasn’t strong enough to take him on.

 

So she ran.  Ruby swerved around cars as they reached a more populated suburb, the wolf just jumping over them and scaring the drivers half to death.  She took a sharp turn into an alley, bounding over the small wall at the end of it.  Taking a minute to gather her surroundings, she found herself by a high school.  It was the only form of cover that might keep her safe.

 

Ruby took off, but not before the wolf got his claws in her back.  She yelped as he sliced into her host body, talons tangling in her leather jacket.  Prying herself free, she stumbled a bit but was on her feet again before the beast was completely over the wall.

 

She was running straight for the building, already on the lawn when a hand grabbed her from behind.  A human hand…no claws.

 

“I mean really, that was just pathetic,” Alastair sneers.  She wrenches out of his grasp as the Alpha comes to a panting stop, snarling at them both.  The demon grins, eyes burning white for a moment.  “You are no match for me, wolf,” he says.  The beast roars and takes a threatening step forward, challenging the other.  Azazel appears at her other side, startling the wolf.

 

“So, tell me.  What kind of Alpha leaves his pups unprotected?” Azazel chuckles.  A low rumble bubbles up through the wolf’s chest as his red eyes meet yellow.  “Oh, don’t worry too much, Fido.  I left them alive,” he says, and then smirks.  “I think.”

 

The wolf lunges, but when Ruby blinks they’re back at the cemetery.  Alastair and Azazel had both dragged her out…that was oddly…nice.

 

Ruby huffs as they throw her to the ground.  Well, so much for that.

 

“What happened?” Lilith asks.  She’s perched on a large statue in the form of an angel, which begins to weep in Alastair’s presence.  Ruby scoffs at the blatant show of power.

 

“I didn’t need your help,” she snaps, brushing her jeans off.  It was a total lie of course.  If they hadn’t shown up, she’d be digesting in the belly of the Big Bad Wolf right now.

 

“We are now on the other pack’s radar…thanks to Ruby,” Alastair answers, taking a seat on a headstone.  Lilith only shrugs at the new information, unconcerned with the possible threat.

 

Azazel grabs Ruby’s arm, hauling her to her feet.  “You really think you’re invincible, don’t you?” he asks.  He spins her around, ripping the remains of her jacket off to reveal the gashes she’d sustained from the wolf.  He lifts her shirt, fingers playing at the edges of the wounds.  Power surges through her as he stitches them closed, healing them completely.  She turns around to face him, shocked at the gesture.  “You are not invincible, Ruby,” he says.  The man stares for a moment longer, before turning to bring Lilith from the statue.  He plasters on a smile and tugs her close.  “Let’s get dinner,” he says.  They vanish a moment later, leaving her with a bemused Alastair.

 

The demon saunters up to her, smirk firmly in place.  He walks a slow circle around her, hand at her waist.

 

“You’re lucky old Yellow Eyes has gone soft in his old age.  If it were left to me, you’d have bled out by now, that pretty host finally going silent,” he hisses in her ear.  He leaves after that, letting her take a breath.  She doesn’t know why Azazel had done it.  She was equal parts grateful and suspicious about the strange behavior.

 

Ruby peered around the cemetery, strolling through all the different tombstones.  She chose to rest in a secluded area, the stones all sporting the last name of Hale.  She still didn’t understand the point of leaving a headstone to remember lost loved ones.  As far as she remembered, her original body was rotting away in some ditch with about half a dozen other people.  They assumed she’d died from the plague, which technically she did, but it was due to her demon deal coming to an end.  She didn’t remember much of her human life, but there were bits and pieces that still lingered.

 

What she could remember, she loathed with every bone in her body.  There was nothing good about being human.  Being a demon meant she had power, she was free from the struggles of humanity.  Dean Winchester was a prime example of everything she hated about them.  He was tormented from his time spent in Hell and reliant on his remaining loved ones.  They were his weakness and she planned to rip it all away before she ended his miserable life, essentially sending him back to Hell.

 

Killing Dean Winchester is my only purpose.

 

Meg

 

Red and blue lights flashed across the parking lot as pedestrians watched from behind the yellow tape.  Meg had decided to return to the bar she found Dean in.  Having Bela back was a blessing and a curse.  Yes, she went through hell to get her back, but the girl was right.  She left Bela with Crowley, even though she knew what he’d do to her.  They had been imprisoned together for an entire year, growing to know each other and eventually…

 

She won’t say love because that’s not what it is, no matter what Bela said.  They were extremely close and the sex was amazing, but Meg didn’t do love…she just didn’t.  Looking around the crowd now, she sighs, because this is why love was pointless.  Someone had been murdered.  Someone’s sister, daughter, friend, lover.  What was the point in getting emotionally involved when everyone just died?

 

Meg had let the feelings she’d buried for so long break free when she finally saw Bela again, but the look in the girl’s eyes…  That was another reason to avoid the entire situation.  Bela had trusted her and Meg betrayed her.  She still believed it was necessary, but that didn’t mean that her actions didn’t hurt the other.

 

Pushing the emotion away, she strolled up to a man in the crowd.

 

“What happened?” she asks.  He looks down at her, brown eyes lit up by the flashing blue and red.

 

“Young girl lost her life.  Tragic really,” he answers.  His lips stretch into a grin, light dancing on his growing incisors.  She took a step back, ready to defend herself if necessary.  “No need to be afraid.  I find your aroma to be repulsive.  I won’t feed on you, dear.  But tell me, what’s a demon doing in the suburbs?” he asks.

 

“Just out for a drink, which I see you’ve beat me to,” she says, smirking when he glares at her.  He invades her space then, grabbing her arms and looking into her eyes.

 

“We never met.  You got here, saw the scene and just assumed someone died.  You never talked to me or saw my face,” he says.

 

Meg blinks and looks around.  Cops were swarming the bar, lights flashing still.  Someone must have died.  She was about to leave and find another bar, when the body came into view.  It was mostly covered, but she’d gotten a glimpse of her neck.  It’d been torn open, basically ripped out.

 

“Damn it,” she whispered.  She immediately teleported back into the boys’ room, finding everyone but Castiel to be asleep.  Walking over to the couch, she slapped the vamp awake until he was hissing at her.

 

“The hell you want?” he grunted.  Meg glared at him for a moment, but then turned to the angel.

 

“Did he leave this room?” she asks.  The other angel peeks an eye open at her, but grumbles and rolls over to go back to sleep.

 

“No, he did not leave,” Castiel answers.  His hand was still absentmindedly brushing through Dean’s hair, making her raise a brow.  He simply tilts his head at her, not thinking anything of it.  “What happened to you?” he asks.  What?

 

Dean jerks awake then, rolling hastily away from the angel when he sees he’s half draped over him.  He sees her a moment later and sits up.

 

“What’s goin’ on?” he mumbles.

 

“Little Red just became a Dead Bastard,” she says.  She forces herself not to laugh at the joke, knowing Dean would probably stab her for it.

 

“What?  Who?” he asks, still trying to wake up.

 

Vanessa, idiot.  The girl at the bar.  She’s dead.”

 

“Oh, what the fuck,” Dean grumbles, scrubbing his face.  Castiel stands from the bed and moves over to her.  She raises a brow as he seriously invades her space, looking into her eyes.

 

“Something’s missing,” he says, squinting at her.  Bela emerges from the bathroom then in only a towel, distracting her.  “Meg, focus,” Castiel says.  She frowns, but looks back at him.

 

“What?” she snaps.

 

“What do you remember?” he asks.

 

“About what?”

 

“When you were out.  What do you remember?” he asks again.  Meg stares at him, not comprehending.

 

“Um, I went out for a drink, but there were cops all over the bar.  Then I saw the body torn up by a vamp,” she says.  Dean glances at Benny, who scowls defensively.

 

“No, something is missing.  I can’t read all of it,” Castiel mutters, staring into her eyes.  She backs away slightly, not liking how close the angel is, but he simply follows the movement.  Dean sighs and gets up, nudging his brother awake on the way.  Sam instantly darts up, startling the angel at his side.

 

“So much for beauty sleep,” Gabriel grumbles.

 

“What do you mean something’s missing?” Dean asks, coming to Cas’ side.

 

“Her memory.  It’s been tampered with,” he answers.  Meg doesn’t even have time to flinch away before the angel rests a hand on her head.  A brief flash of pain has her eyes closing as some foreign memory resurfaces.  The vampire was cocky as hell and commanded her to forget him.

 

“Well that sucked,” she mumbles once it’s over.  “How did he do that?” she asks.  Castiel sighs, but doesn’t back away much to her displeasure.

 

“He was a more modern day vampire.  They have great powers of persuasion, although I am surprised it worked so well on a demon,” he answers.  Meg glances at Benny, who’s gotten up and is glaring at her.

 

“Guess you’re off the hook,” Meg says.  The vampire doesn’t say anything, only shrugs at her.

 

“What’s a modern day vampire?” Sam asks.

 

“They got different fangs and abilities than my kind,” Benny answers.

 

“Yes, they are a more evolved breed,” Castiel says.

 

“More evolved my ass,” Benny scoffs.  “You see me attackin’ the town folk?” he asks.  Castiel glances at him, giving him a quick once over.

 

“No, but you are a rare case,” he says.  Benny scowls at him, but decides to lounge back on the couch instead of replying.

 

“What did he say, Meg?” Dean asks.

 

“He knew what I was, first of all.  Something about my ‘aroma’ or whatever.  Then he ordered me to forget him,” she answers.  Meg was furious.  This vampire had easily manipulated her.  She wasn’t the strongest demon out there, but it was still rare for anyone to have power over her.  Other demons, yes, but a vampire?  Fuck that shit.  Dean sighs and takes a seat on the bed.

 

“Question is: Is this vampire gonna be a problem?” he asks the room.

 

“Uh, hello, archangel versus vampire?” Gabriel asks.  “Easier than cake.  Piece o’ pie easy,” he says, grinning.  Everyone frowns at him.

 

“You don’t know for certain that every creature will fall to your powers,” Castiel says.

 

“Oh, I think I do, baby bro.  You said it yourself, didn’t you?  ‘We are heaven’s most terrifying weapons’,” he chuckles.  An involuntary shiver goes through her at that statement.  He wasn’t wrong.  As powerful as Cas was, this archangel was even more so.

 

“How did you...?” Cas trails off.

 

“I hear everything, you know that,” Gabriel says.  Castiel looks away at that.  Meg raises a brow, wondering what he was thinking of.

 

“Alright, well should we deal with the vampire first, or our other problem?” Dean asks.

 

“I doubt the vampire will be a problem.  I believe it was only passing through,” Castiel answers.  Meg isn’t as convinced, but what the angels say go.  She doesn’t feel like arguing with them, seeing as how it would be pointless anyway.  They’re some stubborn bastards, that’s for sure.

 

“Fine.  Someone track Crowley down so we know where to go.  I’m gonna get cleaned up,” Dean says, heading for the bathroom.  He pauses and glances at Bela.  “You done in here?”  Bela nods, wrapping her towel tighter around her body.  Dean frowns, seemingly surprised by the girl’s shyness.  Meg doesn’t know what Bela’s history with the boys is.  She never asked, just like Bela never asked about her past.  There hadn’t been any point.  They’d just been reluctant allies at first, holding their own against Crowley, until Meg decided she was bored one day and went for it.  Bela was beautiful and they’d become close friends, so Meg thought sex would be a good distraction.

 

On one hand, she thinks it was the best decision she’d ever made, but on the other it was the worst.  It was nice to have someone to be physically close with, but once those stupid emotions got involved, she was utterly fucked.  Bela hadn’t been a demon for very long, only a few months before they hooked up.  She still knew what human love felt like and hadn’t been afraid to share her feelings.  It took Meg a lot longer to admit feelings of like towards the girl, let alone love.  She still remembers Bela’s parting words of love the night before she left her.  Meg had been terrified, an emotion she was all too familiar with even as a demon.  According to the brief flashbacks of her human life, love had always been something to run from, something that couldn’t be trusted.  Meg could admit that she had strong feelings for Bela, but she just couldn’t get to where her lover was.

 

“I’ll pick you up some clothes,” she mutters.  Meg doesn’t bother to stick around to hear the girl’s response, she simply teleports to a dirty alley by the mall she’d seen on her way into town.  Not many people were out, considering it was around midnight.  She was surprised to find the mall still lit up, noticing the sign in one of the windows stating it was open 24 hours.  Why a small town like this needed a 24 hour mall, she had no idea.  She strolls through the front entrance, surprised to find people still shopping inside.  Granted it was a weekend, but still.  Didn’t suburban people like to go to bed at around…eight or something?

 

Meg looked around, finding most of the customers to be young college types, maybe even teenagers.  There weren’t many, but enough for at least every store to have a few customers inside.  She chose the closest one, finding it to be H&M.  Meg knew from random conversations, that Bela had fairly expensive taste when she was alive, so she skipped over the clearance and sale racks altogether.  Though a tedious event, Meg actually enjoyed the simplicity of shopping.  She found an area with nice jackets that she thought Bela might like, quickly picking out a tight black one.  Some Taylor Swift song began playing in the background, which she highly disapproved of.

 

A young woman was nodding along to the lyrics as she looked over the outfit she’d put together.  She was quite pretty, dressed in a tight black tank with a dark purple jacket over it, blue jeans, and black boots.  The jacket was identical to the one Meg was holding, except for the color.  There was something strange about her, but Meg couldn’t put her finger on it.

 

As she moved to another rack, she stole glances of the beautiful woman, trying to figure out what was different.  An older gentleman strode into the store, sparing no attention for the saleswoman who approached him.  He went straight to the back, where the young girl was admiring herself.  Meg watched them as she chose a pair of blue jeans and meandered her way over to the shoes.

 

“What do you think of this?  Too simple?” the girls asks.

 

“No, simple is nice.  Are you almost finished?” he asks.  Even from a distance, Meg could see how anxious he was.  The girl pouted as she continued to stare at her reflection.

 

“I just started.  I have many outfits to still try,” she said.  Meg looked back to the shoe rack, choosing a pair of heeled boots.  She strolled through the racks, finding one with expensive blouses.

 

“This is not a vacation.  We only stopped for food.  Now that we’re done, we need to be leaving.  Choose something quickly and meet me at the register,” he says.  The girl frowns at him, but goes back into the dressing room without complaint.  The man leans back against the counter, smiling at the few customers who happen to glance over.  He stills for a moment before his eyes land directly on her.  Meg raises a brow and gives him a small smile as she picks up a random shirt.  He squints at her, as if confused.

 

Well join the club, she thinks.  Just like the woman, there was something off about him, but Meg didn’t know what.

 

“I don’t believe that’s your color, darling.”

 

Meg recognizes the voice, but is quick enough to remember that she isn’t supposed to remember.  She turns to him with a smile.

 

“Then it’s a good thing this is for a friend,” she replies.  The vampire grins and takes a polite step back.

 

“My apologies.  I hope your friend likes it then,” he says.  While they made small talk, the man by the counter never took his eyes off them.  Maybe that’s what was different about them.  They must be vampires also.  “Well, it’s been nice chatting with you, but my ride is leaving,” the vampire says.  He gives her a once over and heads to the counter, just as the girl joins as well.  Meg hangs back by the rack even though she’s found everything she needed.  The woman glares at the vampire and shoves him out of the way to hand the other one her clothes.  He finally tears his eyes away from Meg to pay for the items.  As the trio makes their exit, the girl looks back at her, eyes deformed.  Meg scowls, but the vampires turn the corner a moment later.

 

She heads to the register to pay for Bela’s clothing, throwing a hundred dollars down to cover the cost.  Normally she didn’t carry cash with her, but she’d run into some trouble on her way to this small town.  There was a handsome man lying in a ditch in Dallas, missing his wallet.  Meg figures it was money well spent.  After retrieving the clothes, she returns to the back alley, teleporting to the motel from there.

 

Meg finds everyone lazing about, literally just glaring at each other, Crowley included.

 

“What I miss?”

 

Dean

 

Un-fucking-believable.  More demons, more lies, more problems.  He would love just a single day off, he really would.  Dean ignores Meg’s return and her question, turning on his brother.

 

“How long has this been going on?” he asks.  Sam sighs and turns away from him, not answering.  He was so fucking stubborn all the time.  Dean could not believe he’d lied to him again.  Weird psychic dreams start happening again and you tell someone.  You don’t just bury it and hope it goes away.

 

“Guess that was a secret, huh?” Gabriel mutters.  Sam glares at him, making the angel look away awkwardly.

 

“Let’s just focus on the case, alright?” Sam says.

 

“No, not alright.  I want to know when, what, and why.  Right now, Sam,” Dean snaps.  His brother sighs and slouches back in his chair.

 

“A few weeks ago.  And I didn’t tell you because I don’t know why and I barely know what,” he answers.  That was the vaguest answer he’d ever heard.

 

“What does that even mean?” Dean sighs.

 

“It means I’d rather not talk about this in front of demons,” Sam snaps.  Dean pauses, looking around at the three demons lurking in the room.  He probably had a point.

 

“Fine, all dead people out,” he says, pointing to the door.  The group looks at each other, making Dean realize that he wasn’t even sure who that statement included.  Benny was also dead, but were Angels technically alive?  “Forget that.  Everyone who isn’t human, get out,” he says.  Sam sighs with this dejected look on his face.  Right, because after they’d died so many times, were they even still human?  “Oh my god, everyone who isn’t Sam just get out,” he says, irritated.  Crowley scoffs, but does as asked.  Meg hands Bela a shopping bag before they too vanish from the room.

 

“So I’ll just…uh…take a walk or somethin’.  Outta food anyway,” Benny grumbles.  Dean chooses to ignore that last statement, not wanting to know where Benny was about to go.  Castiel looks at him, question in his eyes.

 

“The angels can stay,” Sam mumbles.  Gabriel grins and puts his feet up on a chair, sitting back to munch on more popcorn.  Dean rolls his eyes and sits on the bed.  Cas takes the extra seat at the small table, looking uncomfortable as hell.

 

“Start from the beginning,” Dean says.  Sam slumps further in his chair and Gabriel offers him popcorn, shaking the back enticingly.  Sam just scowls at him.

 

“It started a few weeks ago.  I thought they were just nightmares,” he says with a shrug.  “But they got more clear a few days ago.  I saw the name of the town on a fence for the local cemetery.  I still didn’t think it was anything until I looked it up.  The town is real, Dean,” he says.  Dean frowns at the fear he can see in his little brother’s eyes.

 

“Gabriel, perhaps we should leave,” Castiel says, standing.

 

“What?  No way, it’s just getting good.  We’re gonna miss the fight,” Gabriel whines.  Castiel glares at him and they’re gone within the next second, Gabriel throwing popcorn at Cas’ head before they disappear.

 

“Alright, explain more.  What town?  And what have you seen?” Dean asks, trying to gentle his tone some.  It still came out more pissed than anything though.

 

“It was just a fiery blur at first.  Which now, I’m guessing was whatever Meg crawled out of.  But it changed Thursday night.  It was still hard to make out, but there was demon smoke and wolves running around a cemetery.  The sign on the gate said Beacon Hills Cemetery,” he says.

 

“Beacon Hills?” he asks.  That name sounded familiar, but he wasn’t sure why.  He’d read the name somewhere…or something.

 

“Yeah,” Sam sighs.  “I should’ve told you sooner.  Maybe if I had, we could’ve stopped them from rising or figured out how to-”

 

“Woah, woah, no, none of that,” Dean interrupts.  “This is not your fault, okay?  These vision things haven’t been a problem since Azazel died.  How were you supposed to know what was happening?” he asks.  Dean frowns at his word choice when Sam winces at the word ‘problem’.  “Hey, look at me,” he says.  “We’ll beat this, just like everything else.  You gotta believe that, man,” Dean says, gripping Sam’s shoulder.  He hoped his brother couldn’t detect the blatant lie in his words.  Dean didn’t think they would make it out of this one, at all.  Going up against 4 of the most powerful demons all at once?  Plus there was Ruby, which he was sure was fucking with Sam’s head.  Not to mention Crowley, Meg, and Bela.  They might not seem like a threat at the moment, but demons tended to flip on them without any warning.  Plus there was the issue of who the hell is raising all these Angels and freeing Cas from Purgatory.

 

It was all such a giant fucking mess and they were most likely going to die.  It didn’t matter that for some reason they just kept coming back.  Their resurrection wasn’t always a guarantee, if it ever was.

 

“You really believe that?” Sam asks, brow raised.  Dean ignored the question, pondering over something Sam said earlier.

 

“Wolves?” he asks.  Sam huffs at the clear avoidance, but nods anyway.  “Like, the actual animal or something that shape shifted into a wolf?”

 

“No idea, though I’m really doubting demons are going to choose wolves over hell hounds,” he answers.  He had a point.

 

“So...we need to treat this like any other case, right?  We gather the info we already have and figure out what we’re up against,” he says.

 

“But we already know what we’re up against,” Sam says.

 

“Not completely.  You wouldn’t have seen the wolves unless they were important, so we need to make a list of what they could be,” Dean says, already rummaging through his duffel bag.  His determination seems to get Sam going as well, loading up his laptop and digging through his research.  Dean almost doesn’t even notice the flap of wings until the bed dips on his right side.

 

“What are we looking for?” Cas asks.  Dean looks over at him and freezes for a minute.  The sorority girl…with the blue…

 

“Shit,” he mutters.  That’s why her eyes had bugged him so much.  How did he not realize that?  Is that what Vanessa had picked up on?  Was he…with Cas?  “Shit,” he mumbles again, heart racing.

 

“Dean?” Cas asks, eyes darting to his chest, no doubt hearing the fast beat.  Dean knew that they’re friendship had changed while they were in Purgatory, but had it really gotten that deep?  Cas suddenly laid a hand directly in the middle of his chest, calming the quickening pace.  “What’s wrong?” he asks.  Dean can’t even look at him, ashamed by his panicked reaction.  He brushes the man’s hand off and grunts a small ‘Nothing’ at him.

 

Clearing his throat, he says, “We’re looking for what can turn into a wolf.  Sam will explain.”  Dean gathers the journal and the few random printouts and joins Sam at the table, ignoring Cas’ saddened expression.  He will not look over there.  That way leads to feelings and icy blue eyes that will have him curling into the fetal position and begging to be held…so no.  “Sam, explain,” he orders, waving a vague hand in the air.  As Sam explains the vision, Gabriel reappears, sitting at the table with them and gazing at the hunter.

 

Dean is appropriately irritated and concerned that Gabriel apparently has a thing for his brother.  Sam doesn’t need another supernatural creature to worm its way into his heart and fuck everything up.  He glares at the angel until the man glances over, but he simply grins and kicks his feet up onto Sam’s lap.  His brother looks at the feet with a raised brow.

 

“You mind?” he asks.

 

“Nope, not at all,” Gabriel chuckles, wiggling to get more comfortable.  Sam scowls, but doesn’t shove him off.  Dean takes a moment to wonder if…but no, his brother wasn’t…he’d never expressed an interest in men before, so…Dean’s confused.  Then again, Sam hopefully doesn’t know about Dean’s few male lovers because that was just awkward and embarrassing and moving on.

 

Dean leafs through their father’s journal, jotting down any creatures that can shift into a wolf.

 

Regular shape shifters obviously, skin walkers, familiars…that’s all he had really.  Meg and Bela returned while they were researching and are lounging on the couch, not looking at each other.  Dean still can’t believe Bela is here and that she’s a demon now.  After doing the math, he figured she’d been down there for at least 600 years.  Dean couldn’t help but wonder how long it took her to break, but he would never ask her something like that.  It was too personal, too raw.  Crowley came back shortly after and gazed out the window with a glass of brandy.  A demon looking pensive, Dean thinks and can’t help but snort at it.

 

Benny shows a few hours later, stocked cooler in hand.  No one comments, but Dean is secretly happy to note that it’s full of stolen blood bags and not a human head or something.  The vampire looks over the research on the table with a frown.

 

“You’re forgettin’ the easiest possibility,” he says.

 

“Which is?” Dean prompts.

 

“Werewolves, dumbass,” he answers.

 

“But I thought werewolves didn’t completely shift into wolves?” Sam asks.  “I thought that was myth.”

 

“Well it ain’t, trust me.  Or at least one breed does, I know that,” Benny says.

 

One breed?  What does that mean?” Dean asks.  Benny scowls disapprovingly and flops down on a bed.

 

“Just like humans, there are different types of werewolves.  Vampires too, by the way,” he says.

 

“Yes, certain creatures have begun to evolve, as I said earlier,” Cas adds.  “The vampire Meg ran into-”

 

“Oh!” Meg interrupts.  “He wasn’t alone.  Saw him and two other’s at the mall,” she announces.

 

“And you didn’t tell us sooner, why?” Dean grumbles.

 

“I didn’t want to interrupt the bromance,” she replies, grinning.  Both Sam and Dean scoff at her comment, but everyone else finds it amusing apparently.

 

“So, they’re evolving.  What does that mean?” Dean asks, turning to Cas.

 

“Everything evolves into a better version of itself eventually.  There are modern day werewolves, just like the vampires.  There are two breeds that can turn completely into wolves,” he explains.

 

“Well, why didn’t you share this info earlier?” Dean asks.  This whole finding out important facts hours after they could have known about it thing was getting really irritating.

 

“I did not mention it because werewolves are rare.  Just about every kind has been exterminated by hunters,” he says.  Dean can’t help the small amount of guilt at that information.  As they’d learned recently, not all werewolves were blood thirsty monsters.

 

“You said only two types can shift into wolves?” Sam asks.

 

“Yes, the cursed and the modern.  Only certain werewolves can achieve a full shift however.  I don’t know how it works though,” Cas says.

 

“Alright, well forget about the mechanics for a minute,” Dean says.  “Why would demons be working with werewolves?” he asks.  No one had an answer for that.  He’s about to suggest doing more research (ugh, more research), when a cell phone rings.  Just about everyone, except for Castiel, takes out a phone to see whose it is.

 

No one answers because the ringing is coming from Dean’s duffel.  He lunges for it, digging through its contents for the phone he’s kept even after all these years.  It was rare that anyone called it anymore, but they still got the occasional hunter looking for help.  Dean finally pulls it out and reads the screen.  It was a California area code.  He flips it open and presses it to his ear.

 

“Hello?” he asks.  There’s a grumbling in the distance, the caller not paying attention.  “Hello?”

 

“Oh, uh, yes, hello.  Is this John Winchester?” a man asks.  The name sends a pang through his chest, as it always does.

 

“No, this is his son,” Dean answers.  Sam motions for him to put it on speaker and he complies.

 

“Oh, okay.  Well, is John there?  It’s important that I speak to him,” he says.

 

“I’m sorry, but he passed away about 5 years ago,” Dean replies.  There’s a moment of silence, before they hear the caller talking with someone on the other end again.

 

“Um, can you hold for a moment?” he asks.

 

“Sure,” Dean says.  There’s more grumbling, but they can’t make out the words.  They wait a few minutes before the caller returns.

 

“Look, uh, I know next to nothing about how this works, but we really need some help.  Is there someone else, or maybe you can…shit, I don’t know,” the man sighs.  There’s more grumbling on the other end.  “Well, what the fuck else do you want me to say?  These are your people Chris, not mine,” the man yells.  Dean raises a brow at the phone, hearing the clear desperation in the man’s voice.

 

More grumbling before, “Never mind, we’ll call someone else.  Sorry to bother you,” the man says.  There’s a click and then silence.  Dean flips the phone closed, confused and slightly concerned.

 

“Whatever it was, we can’t worry about it.  We have enough problems right now,” Sam says.  Dean eventually nods in agreement.  If they called back, then Dean would try to help.

 

“Are you two morons ready to move out yet?” Crowley grunts.  The hunters glare at him, but Dean agrees that they should start the long journey to California.  Perhaps if they survived this battle, he would try to track down that number and help whoever it was.

 

The demons choose to meet them there, vanishing as the boys packed their belongings.

 

“You know, brother, I’m thinking we should investigate while they travel.  Figure out who brought us back,” Gabriel announces.  Dean snaps to attention at the very mention of Castiel leaving them.

 

“I suppose that would be beneficial, yes,” Cas mutters.  Gabriel grins, slaps Sam on the ass and says ‘Catch ya later, babe’ before disappearing.  Sam gapes in a comically horrified manner and quickly climbs into the car.

 

“You really think it’s a good idea?” Dean asks, not looking at the angel.  Benny shuffles away quietly and hops into the back seat of the Impala.

 

“I’m not positive it’s a bad idea,” he replies.  Dean only nods, slamming the trunk closed.

 

“Alright, I’ll see you later, then,” he mumbles.  Castiel grabs his arm before he can turn away, a sad expression on his face.

 

“I’ll check in every hour, if that makes it better,” he says.

 

“It doesn’t matter.  Do what you gotta do,” Dean says, shrugging his hand off.  The angel surprises him by reaching a hand beneath the sleeve of his t-shirt, hand fitting over the mark he’d already left.  Cas had done it a few times in Purgatory and it never failed to send a shiver through Dean’s entire body.

 

“I won’t be gone long,” he says.  Dean looks down at him, the blue eyes brighter with grace as Cas’ hand lingers on the burn.  He nods and the angel disappears with the flap of wings, leaving him cold and empty.  Dean shakes it off and climbs into the driver’s seat.

 

“You okay?” Sam asks.  Dean glares at him, effectively shutting him up.  They drive for about an hour until stopping at a small diner that was advertising the ‘World’s Best Apple Pie’.  Well, Dean would be the judge of that.

 

He pulls into the parking lot, excited by the idea of pie, when a ringing comes from the glove compartment.  Sam reaches in and they both frown.  It was Bobby’s phone.  Along with their father’s, Dean kept it charged and on just in case.  Sam flips it open and immediately puts it on speaker.

 

“Hello?” he asks.

 

“Bobby Singer?” a man asks.  Sam and Dean look at each other, recognizing the voice to be the same man as earlier.

 

“No, this is a friend.  Are you the same man who called about John Winchester?” Dean asks.

 

“Damn it,” the man sighs.  “Yes, it’s me again.  Where’s Bobby?”

 

“Also sorry to tell you he’s passed away,” Dean answers.  He ignores the tightening in his chest at the mere thought of the late hunter.  There’s a shuffling on the other end.

 

“Bobby’s dead?” a different man asks.  He was gruffer than the first and sounded exhausted.

 

“Yes, about 2 years ago,” Sam says.  Dean is still adjusting to Earth time, having lost Bobby more than two centuries ago.  But the pain of it, along with everyone he’s lost, is still raw.

 

“Shit, alright.  Who is this again?  John’s son?” he asks.

 

“Sons, actually.  Sam and Dean Winchester,” Dean replies.

 

“Okay, well, uh, are you hunters?”

 

“Yes, sir,” Sam says.  “Your friend said you needed help?” he asks.

 

“Yeah, I guess.  Not sure you can do anything, but why not?” the man says.  He sounds defeated already, whatever battle he’s facing breaking him.

 

“Well, where in California are you?  We were headed that way on another case.  If we can help, we will,” Sam says.

 

“It’s a small town.  Beacon Hills.”

 

“Wait…Beacon…?” Sam trails off.  Something triggers in Dean’s memory again at hearing the name.

 

“What’s your name?” he asks.

 

“Chris Argent.”

 

The last name also sounds familiar.  Dean digs through his bag, pulling out their father’s journal again.  He flips to the front page of the contact list and smacks it in triumph.

 

“I knew that sounded familiar.  Gerard Argent from Beacon Hills, California.  Our fathers were in the Marines together,” he says.  He shows Sam the page, who nods in interest.

 

“I…yes…I know that,” the man says.

 

“Dean…he’s in Beacon Hills,” Sam repeats.  He’s confused at first, because yes that was obvious.  But the look in his brother’s eyes reminds him of what lies waiting for them in that town.

 

“Right.  Chris what’s happening there?” Dean asks.

 

“Goddamned wolves that’s what,” he snaps.  “And, uh, there was another…thing…but he…they…” the man trails off with a choked sound.

 

“Dean?” the first man calls.  “This is Sheriff Stilinski.  Chris is, uh, in bad shape at the moment.  There’s a wolf war going on here.  There were also other creatures, but I don’t think they’re a problem anymore,” he says.

 

“Other creatures?” Sam asks.

 

“Yes, it was a mutation of sorts.  A man that was poisoned before he turned and became something else.  He turned other members of the town, but they were taken care of.  The problem now is the werewolves.  A pack of Alphas, I suppose,” he says.  Dean wasn’t sure what that meant.  He was too new to this modern werewolf stuff.  The only Alpha Werewolf he knew of was supposedly dead.  The first of his kind and all that.

 

“Um, okay.  Listen Sheriff, you’ve got more problems than you realize,” Dean says.

 

“…Okay.  Enlighten me.”

 

“There are demons in your town.  They might be teaming up with the wolves.”

 

“Demons,” the man repeats.

 

“Yes, sir,” Sam says.

 

“Like…evil beings from hell: demons?” he asks.

 

“Unfortunately,” Sam answers.  The man sighs.

 

“Well, of course.  Because why not?  Werewolves and witches are real, so naturally…yeah, I should’ve seen that coming,” he rambles.

 

“Witches?” Dean asks, the mere thought revolting.  He hated witches.  They were gross and unnatural and just no.

 

“Uh, yeah, we got those too, I guess.  But demons…is that why you were already on your way?” he asks.

 

“Yeah, we’re in Tennessee at the moment.  It’ll take us maybe about 5 days until we get to you.  Think you guys can hang on ‘til then?” Dean asks, already backing out of the parking lot.  Pie would have to wait.

 

“Not like we really have a choice, right?” the Sheriff sighs.

 

“No, I guess not,” Sam says.

 

“Look, my kid’s already in the hospital because of this.  I’m not willing…I mean, he’ll probably fight me tooth and nail, but if I get a chance I’m dragging him out of here.  Just tell me.  If we run, do we have a chance?” he asks.  Dean sighs, hating when children are involved.  But what Sam had said earlier is still true.

 

“You can’t run.  They’ll always find you,” Dean mutters.

 

“Yeah,” he sighs.  “That’s what I figured.”

 

“Sheriff…” Sam starts.  “I’m sorry this is happening to your family.  We’ll do everything we can.”

 

“Thank you.  Call me back at this number when you get here,” he says and hangs up.

 

“Sounds like a big one, huh?” Benny asks from the back.  Dean looks in his mirror, finding a small worried frown on the man’s face.

 

“Yeah, sounds like,” he sighs.  “Listen, Benny, if you don’t want to-”

 

“Don’t even, brother.  You saved my ass, now let me save yours,” he says.  Dean wants to smile at that, but doesn’t.

 

“Just another case, right?” Sam asks, glancing at him.

 

“Hell yes, Sammy.  You know what this calls for right?” he asks.  Sam raises his brows and shrugs.  “Hard rock, beer, and pie,” he announces.  Sam laughs and shakes his head.  It was a sound Dean was glad to hear again.  He missed the old days of simple ‘monster of the week’ cases, where they would sit back at the end of a day and just chill with a cold one.  They’d been hypersensitive around each other for months, ever since Dean returned and he just wanted to get back to how it used to be.

 

Maybe, if they survived this, he could get that back.

 

Who are you kidding?  There’s no way out of this one.

 

Dean forces the thought away and turns up the stereo, Sammy humming along to the tune.  If they were going through with this, he’d be strong for his brother, like always.  Push the trauma aside the best he could and deal with the problem in front of them.

 

A hunter’s job wasn’t over until some creepy son of a bitch tore him to shreds.  Dean would make damn sure Sammy survived this time.  If that meant the end of him, then so be it.

 

A certain angel tried to wiggle his way in to stop that thought process, but Dean shut it out.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

Damon

 

“Is it spreading yet?” Damon barks.

 

“You mean from the last time you asked, which was literally-” Jeremy pauses to look at his watch and then scoffs.  “45 seconds ago?” he asks, scowling.  Damon glares at him, not appreciating the attitude.

 

“Professor Creepy and Medusa are on their way to resurrect an evil vampire-witch, so how about we lose the attitude and focus on the tattoo, huh?  There must be something else you have to-”

 

“There isn’t.  I already told you.  Connor said-”

 

“Yeah, because he’s a reliable source of information,” Damon interrupted.  Jeremy’s eyes went cold and calculating, shifting his stance as his mind and body registered Damon as a threat.

 

“Alright, both of you calm down, this isn’t helping,” Elena cut in.  She nudged Damon to cross the room, while she hesitantly approached her brother.  “Jer, relax, no one wants to fight.  We’re just worried, that’s all,” she says.  Damon would scoff, but unfortunately the statement was accurate.  Yes, Damon was frustrated and impatient, but he was also worried as to why the tattoo hadn’t completed yet.  Plus the lingering effect of the compulsion was taking its sweet time to fade, so he was on high alert, trying to keep his impulses in check.  The murderous urge to kill the boy had severely lessened, but there was still something dark around his thoughts of Jeremy.

 

The hunter eventually took a breath and relaxed, nodding to his sister.  He glanced at Damon, brows furrowed.

 

“So, the compulsion ended, right?” he asked.

 

“Well, I haven