It’s Stiles’s fault. He’s curious to a fault—he blames that on the fox lineage he got from his mom—so when his dad tells him to stay out of the woods, that it’s dangerous, that there’s been a murder, he goes. He’s not stupid, though. There’s a killer on the loose, a killer that managed to sneak past the Hale pack’s defenses.
He brings Scott.
Horrible idea. Terribly bad idea.
Turns out what he thought was just a smart but mundane killer is actually a terribly dumb but rabid Alpha. It finds them at the same time as Stiles’s twitchy nose sniffs out the missing half of the dead body. He has no warning before it’s on them and he realizes that the smell that he thought was just a rotting half-corpse was the Alpha.
Stiles manages to scratch it across the nose. It heals almost instantly but the scratch distracts it from digging its teeth into Scott’s side. Fucking perfect. Scott can barely run on a normal day, let alone when he’s bleeding profusely. Scott would never make it and Stiles isn’t strong enough to carry him. He’s also not leaving him behind.
Foxes are thinkers not fighters, so Stiles knows it’s a losing battle even as he puts himself between Scott and the rogue. The Alpha howls. Stiles shrinks back reflexively but he doesn’t move. He’s nothing if not loyal. He’s also about twelve seconds away from peeing himself.
Multiple howls answer and Stiles breathes a sigh of relief. About fucking time someone showed up to deal with this shit. The Alpha’s attention turns to the oncoming werewolves. Stiles can hear them crashing through the brush and that is totally his cue to leave. He hauls Scott to his feet and they stumble off into the trees. The rogue’s howls turn from anger to pain to silence and Stiles doesn’t even feel bad for him.
“Stiles,” Scott huffs once they’re back in the Jeep, “what… what just…”
Stiles viciously shifts into reverse and guns it out of the parking lot. Stupid woods. Stupid werewolves. “Werewolves.” He spits the word like a curse.
Scott’s eyes widen comically huge. “What? Really?”
“Yes, really.” Stiles keeps checking the rearview mirror but no one’s following them.
Scott’s staring at him like Stiles stole his pudding cup. That happened once in second grade. Scott still isn’t over it. “You knew there were werewolves and you never told me?”
Stiles stops at a red light and frowns. His fingers drum against the steering wheel as he waits for the light to turn. “Not my secret to tell.”
Scott’s expression shifts to something more neutral, almost contemplative. “You sound like you don’t like them.”
“They’re assholes.” Assholes who didn’t lift a claw to help his mother. Assholes who were supposed to be his mother’s pack and then let his mother die.
Scott’s eyes widen again. “Wait! One bit me! Does that mean I’m going to be a werewolf? Are you going to stop liking me? Am I going to turn into an asshole?”
The light turns green. No one’s following them. Stiles sighs and continues back to his house at a more reasonable speed. “No, I’m not going to stop liking you and I’m pretty sure the asshole part is not contagious.” He peels one hand off the wheel to squeeze Scott’s hand. “And even if it is, you’re my asshole. It’s going to take more than a little lycanthropy to tear us apart.”
Stiles rolls his eyes. “That means you’re my werewolf. We’re pack. I’m not going to abandon you.”
Scott visibly relaxes. Stiles doesn’t. Not everyone who’s bitten turns, but he doesn’t tell Scott that. Instead, he takes Scott home with him and gets him to shower and clean the bite wound. Stiles pokes at it, even as it makes Scott wiggle and squirm in pain. It doesn’t look bad. There’s no black goo. Rejection’s supposed to set in pretty fast.
He dresses the wound even though it’s probably a moot point. Scott settles into Stiles’s bed wearing a pair of Stiles’s pajamas. He’s asleep in seconds. Stiles stays awake all night, his keen fox eyesight letting him see through the darkness. Scott tosses a little but sleeps fine.
In the morning, his best friend is a werewolf.
They get through the first week okay. There’s some snarling, but Scott’s pretty easy to get under control once Stiles starts flashing his eyes and acting like the Alpha of their little pack—God, he’s never had an Alpha, he knows he’s doing it all wrong and he misses his mom but he’s not turning Scott over to the Hales.
It helps that the new girl in school has Scott over the moon. Scott’s totally in love, she’s his anchor, there are hearts in his eyes and cherubs circling his head and all that bullshit. Stiles is giving them a week to get to know each other until he sits them down to have the werewolf-Argent reveal all. There’s a truce. It shouldn’t explode horribly, he hopes.
Cora Hale keeps giving Scott side-eye but Stiles manages to keep her from ever catching Scott alone, even if it means pulling Scott into the men’s room so many times that people are starting to wonder if Scott’s in a three-way relationship with Allison and Stiles.
Eww. Gross. No.
All in all, Stiles thinks he’s doing a good job keeping Scott in line, at least until Friday morning when Scott walks up to him and says “I think I was just invited to join a cult.”
Stiles rolls out of bed far too early on Saturday morning to answer whatever motherfucker keeps knocking on the front door. He’d been up most of the night dealing with Scott’s first full moon and only fallen into bed three hours ago. Stiles yanks open the door, already in a bad mood, takes one look at Derek Hale’s disgustingly perfect face and slams the door. He has a moment to speculatively eye the couch for potential sleeping so he doesn’t have to crawl back up the stairs, when the knocking starts again.
Stiles growls under his breath, turns, and opens the door again. “No.” Derek opens his mouth. His eyebrows are drawn together to form a continuous angry caterpillar. Stiles shuts the door.
The door opens, because of course Stiles forgot to lock it again, and Derek Hale strides into the Stilinski house like he owns the place. Stiles is so mad he hisses. Actually hisses. Like an animal. Derek’s eyebrow raises and he lifts his head to sniff the air. Stiles knows exactly what he’ll smell—Stiles, his dad, and traces of newly werewolf Scott.
“So I talked to your friend Scott McCall yesterday. I asked him to join our pack and he said he already had one.” Derek looks around the living room, eyes glancing over family photos and mementoes like they mean nothing to him because they do—not his family—and then settles his gaze on Stiles. “At first I thought Satomi or the Talbert’s had already approached him but when I asked for his Alpha he gave me you.” Derek’s gaze runs over Stiles and he is not impressed. “You’re not a werewolf.”
Two can play this game. Stiles may think Derek is hot like the sun but inside he knows Derek’s rotten to the core. He squares his shoulders and puts himself toe to toe with Derek. They’re the same height and yet somehow it feels like Derek is looming over him. “I am his Alpha so you and the rest of the mutts can just leave us alone.”
Derek growls and his eyes flash blue. Stiles hisses and his eyes flash orange.
Surprise washes over Derek’s face and it’s just the edge Stiles needs. He places two hands on the man’s chest and pushes him out the door, hissing the entire way. Once Derek is across the threshold, he slams the door once again and locks it for good measure.
There is no more knocking. Stiles is too wired to go back to sleep.
“Stiles, why is Peter Hale standing at the edge of our yard?”
Stiles fits the words in between bites of casserole—chicken, cheese, and lots of broccoli because his dad needs to eat more vegetables. “Because I lined the property in mountain ash.”
“Oh, for the love of…” John Stilinski gets out of his chair and walks out the back door. A minute later, he walks back in with Peter Hale on his trail.
Stiles glares. John invites him to dinner.
“This is very good,” Peter says once he’s settled at the table with his own plate.
John points at Stiles with his fork. “Stiles does most of the cooking.”
“Is that so?” Peter’s gaze turns to Stiles and he doesn’t like it one bit. The smug, handsome bastard looks far too contemplative. Whatever machinations are in Peter’s head, he can leave Stiles out of them.
“Get to the point and get out,” Stiles says, earning him a warning “Stiles!” from his father.
Peter shrugs and turns back to his casserole. “There is no point. I was merely curious about the child who claims to be an Alpha.”
If Stiles were in fur, it’d be a fluffed up mane around him. “I am not a child.”
“Of course. Apologies. Poor choice in wording.” Peter doesn’t look apologetic in the slightest bit. Stiles wants to bite him.
“Care to tell me what’s going on, son?” John asks, and oh, right, Stiles forgot to mention. Oops.
Stiles picks at his casserole like it’s the most interesting thing in the world. “Scott got bit. We took care of it.”
John sighs and drops his face into his palm. Peter chuckles.
“I am interested to know how a werefox taught a werewolf control,” Peter says, voice like honeyed silk. “And how a werefox can wield mountain ash.”
Stiles glares and choses to ignore the mountain ash part. That’s none of the Hales’ business. “Like your training is some big secret.” He mimics a dumb wolf. “Anger make wolf rar. Anchor makes wolf happy. Hur dah der.”
Peter does not look amused. “It’s a bit more complicated than that.”
Stiles waves his hand dismissively. “Whatever. We got it sorted. He won’t be a danger.”
Peter leans forward. “You say that now but he’s only just turned. He survived this full moon but what about the next one or the one after? There are Argents in town, you know.”
Stiles snorts and leans back in his chair. “I know. He’s dating one.” Peter and John both visibly startle. “Keep up your end of the truce and it’ll be fine. I was with him last night. It was rough staying in his house but all he did was annoy his mom and wear me out with his energy. No fighting. No scratching. Certainly no urge to maim, murder, and kill.”
“He belongs with a pack.”
Stiles’s fist hits the table hard enough to send the silverware dancing. “He belongs with me,” Stiles snarls. He feels his face shift, just for an instant and then he’s human again, but it’s enough to send Peter and John reeling back.
The shock wears off quickly. Peter wipes his hands on his napkin and stands. “Well, that was informative. Dinner was lovely. We’ll be in touch.” Peter walks out the way he came and waits until he’s out of human hearing to add “That color looks lovely on you, Stiles.”
Stiles frowns. “What…?”
His father’s staring at him with a mixture of surprise and pride. “Your eyes are red.”
Well, he’ll be damned.
The visits from the Hales don’t stop there. It’s like the floodgates have been opened and now they’re everywhere. Cora drags her clique to sit with them at lunch, which makes Allison happy since she’s friends with Lydia Martin but Stiles is suspicious and spends more time glaring at Cora than eating his food.
Laura sits in the stands and watches their lacrosse practice. He runs into Margaret while grocery shopping. He sees Talia at the police station and leaves his father’s dinner with the front desk instead of delivering it himself. Even the Hale matriarch—he thinks her name is Gertrude but his mom had just called her Nana Hale—bumps into him while he’s getting coffee. Stiles gives them all a wide berth but it doesn’t stop.
He ends up at the park, which is as out of the way from his normal routine as he can get without either hiding in abandoned warehouses or driving outside city limits. At first it’s okay because he can lay on the grass and stare up at the sky and watch the clouds go by. He used to do this with his mother all the time. They’d spend whole days at the park, from sun up to sun down, running around and laughing and having picnics.
He misses his mom.
Then a shadow falls over him and his mood instantly sours. “Go away.”
Instead of leaving, Peter Hale drops down to sit on the grass next to him. Stiles glances over at him. He’d never pictured Peter as the kind of guy to sit on grass. His clothes are too nice for that, but here he is getting grass stains on his pressed black slacks.
“You don’t like us,” Peter says.
Stiles snorts. Understatement of the century. He turns back to the clouds and hopes that maybe if he ignores him, Peter will go away.
“Claudia never told us you’d inherited her gift. We thought you were human.”
Stiles’s claws dig into the soil. He stares fixedly at the clouds because the other option is going after Peter’s throat. “You don’t get to talk about her.”
“She was part of our pack.”
He can’t help it. He bolts upright and lunges. He’s actually surprised that Peter lets Stiles tackle him. Peter doesn’t even move as Stiles’s short claws rip holes in what was probably an expensive shirt. Any rush of power Stiles might have felt by overpowering the werewolf is negated by the knowledge that Peter is letting this confrontation happen. It leaves a sick, cold feeling in the pit of his stomach.
“She was,” Stiles hisses. “And you let her die.”
Understanding fills Peter’s face, followed immediately by pity. Stiles wants to rip the look right off the man’s face. Instead he pushes away and stomps his way back to his car. The park is ruined for him.
Peter doesn’t follow him.
He doesn’t see any Hales for a whole week. Cora is a ghost. Scott trails after him like a kicked puppy and yeah, that pack bond seems to have kicked in real quick. He wants to wrap himself in cuddles from Allison and Scott until everything else falls away. Scott must be feeling the same because he doesn’t complain when Stiles leans against him at lunch and they end up hanging out every night that week. Allison is apparently very cool with the whole werefox/werewolf thing because she just coos and lets them have their “bro time.”
All of that ends when he comes back from Scott’s house Saturday morning to find Talia Hale sitting at his kitchen drinking coffee with his father. John takes one look at Stiles and stands. He squeezes Talia on the shoulder like they’re old friends—Stiles supposes they technically are—and then does the same to Stiles on his way out the door.
Stiles stares at Talia. Talia stares back.
“Will you sit with me, Stiles?”
He can feel the non-existent fur on his back raise. He hasn’t spoken to Talia Hale since before his mother died. It brings back too many bad memories. He wants to say no but running away never solved any of his problems. He takes a seat opposite Talia and leans back with his arms crossed.
Stiles jolts. Those are probably two of the last words he’d ever expected to hear from Alpha Hale’s mouth. He frowns, starts to open his mouth, and then closes it when he realizes he has nothing to say.
Talia leans forward. “It’s my fault that our families drifted apart. After Claudia…” Stiles tenses. Talia raises her hands, palms out. “How much do you know about her illness?”
“Frontotemporal dementia?” Stiles sneers. “Enough.” He leans forward, mimicking Talia. “It’s hereditary. I get checked every couple years.”
“Then you know that it causes paranoia, impulsiveness, and a loss of empathy.”
He flinches reflexively. He doesn’t like to think about the year leading up to his mother’s death. It was… It wasn’t a good time. “Among other things. I was there for all of it.”
Talia stretches a hand forward. She doesn’t touch him, but she makes it clear that she’s there if he wants to touch her. He doesn’t. He wants her to leave but he can’t kick the head Alpha of Beacon Hills out of his home. “There were parts you didn’t see. The full moons. The visits to Deaton. We tried.”
“Not hard enough.”
Talia sighs and pulls her hand back, just a little. “Stiles… there… there’s something about your mother’s condition… you weren’t there…”
Stiles raises an eyebrow. “When she was violent? When she was screaming that I was a monster, an abomination? When she tried to kill me?”
Talia starts. She jerks all the way back in her chair. “We didn’t know. She said you were fine, that you were human. She kept us away from you.”
“She used to lock me in the closet,” Stiles says. He’s not sure why he’s telling Talia this. It’s none of her business. “For hours sometimes. Dad would let me out when he got home. He started coming back on his breaks to check. They put her in the hospital after he noticed the bruises.”
She stands then and circles the table. He doesn’t even realize he’s crying until the fabric of her shirt grows damp from his tears.
“We tried,” Talia says, and he believes her. “We wanted to save her.”
Something unknots inside of him. It’s good to know that her pack wanted to save her, that someone had tried, because in the end, he’d wanted her gone. He’d killed her.
The next time he’s at the park, he’s bracketed by Peter and Derek. They lay on the grass and stare at the clouds together. He’s just starting to get to know the Hales, just starting to learn about the pack his mother had hid him from. The Hales aren’t as bad as he’d thought. He’s starting to realize that a lot of his misconceptions had come from his mother and the things she’d told him. Things that had been fueled by his mother’s madness.
Talia had brought in a therapist she trusted, Deaton’s sister Marin. It’s a painful process unravelling old memories, but he has his pack. Scott and Allison. Lydia and Jackson and Danny. Cora. Derek. Peter. The Hales. He feels like the number of people in his life has exploded and he doesn’t know how to handle it.
Derek’s fingers brush against Stiles’s. Peter’s grip is more sure. That’s another thing Stiles doesn’t know how to handle, but there’s no rush. He’s young and there are still issues he’s working through. Derek and Peter aren’t going anywhere.
His pack isn’t going to abandon him. Not this time.
For once, he’s glad to be proven wrong.