Stiles isn’t at his mother’s bedside when she dies.
He’s stumbling through the forest with a knife in his side, Allison tugging him after her, her grip so tight their knuckles are white, her bow hanging across her chest.
“Oh, baby, no,” Mellissa says when she opens the door, and she hefts Stiles up into her arms, calls for Scott, sets Stiles out on the kitchen table and, with a hand over his forehead to calm him, pulls the knife out, lets him scream until his voice is raw.
“It was hunters,” Allison says, her eyes big and wide. “Not my family, I promise, Miss McCall.”
“We’ll worry about that later,” Melissa says, smile pinched when she looks down at Allison, because this is hardly the first time that Stiles has come through her door wounded, has bled all over her kitchen.
The phone rings. They ignore it. Scott gets supplies for Melissa from the store in the spare bedroom.
Derek is the one who has to deliver the news. He’s soaked through in his practice jersey, Coach had called practice due to rain, and he’s holding up his phone.
“I’m sorry,” is all he manages to get out, and Stiles sits up on the table, stares at the phone.
He doesn’t stop clinging to Melissa for hours afterwards, as the rain drums against the windows and the roof.
There were once two packs in Beacon Hills, both old and powerful (although Melissa’s now very ex-husband, the snake, had taken a lot of her betas in the divorce), and that attracted hunters.
Stiles has known about werewolves since the second grade, when he became friends with Scott. Dani, Derek’s little sister, is their age, and the three of them stick together like glue, the two baby betas and their human friend, thick as thieves and just as devious.
Two weeks after Stiles loses his mother, Derek loses Dani. And his mother. And father, and aunts, and uncles, and cousins, and eleven members of his family.
Melissa brings Derek and Laura in with open arms. There is one pack in Beacon Hills now, Melissa and Scott and the Hale twins.
Stiles and Allison grow up fighting monsters, but the Argents are never a problem. The year they’re all eleven, Stiles looses a mother and a best friend, Allison looses a mother, a grandfather, an aunt.
Scott gains a pack. Derek looses almost everything, but Melissa is there to catch him and Laura.
The shifting beast looms above him, half smoke and half human, its antlers dripping with blood, teeth bared. Stiles doesn’t budge, just shuffles his feet a little bit to strengthen his stance. The riffle in his hands, tucked into the corner of his shoulder, isn’t light.
“What give you the right to stare me down like this, human,” the monster says, and it’s a curse, the way he says human.
Stiles has different opinions about humans.
“You are so far from the scariest thing I’ve seen,” Stiles says, spits blood of out his mouth from where he’d been backhanded across the face. The thing, whatever it is, has a mean swing.
He means it, honestly. Stiles is scarred, beaten up, has plates and pins and has gone through more stiches than most people take breaths. He’s a human in a pack of wolves, has been possessed by a demon, fought battles. He’s so got this shit.
“Come at me, bitch.”
The bullets are empty shells, filled with frankincense, because Stiles likes to be prepared.
The thing rears back, and then comes at him. Stiles, however, has very good aim. Allison is good friends with the guy in charge of the local firing range. They’ve been making good use of that for years now.
He manages to get both shots off, both of them slamming through the forehead of the thing.
When it falls to the ground it bursts, like dry ice out of a bubble, and black fog creeps across the ground, past his feet. It leaves the skeleton of a buck in its wake, and Stiles crouches down next to it, poking it at with the muzzle of the gun. Nothing moves.
Stiles stands up, swings the riffle across his shoulder, and heads back to the Jeep. He’s got lacrosse practice to make.
Scott looks perfect under the lights, and Stiles buries his head in the crook of his neck, breathes him in, and Scott anchors them together, hands on Stiles’ hips, bodies in time to the music.
“Derek’s here,” Scott says, and Stiles looks up, follows the jerked direction of Scott’s head to where Derek is. He’s hulking at the bar, looking morose and bitchy, as usual.
“Lemme go grab him,” Stiles says, slipping from Scott’s grip and winding his way through sweaty bodies and bright light.
This isn’t exactly Derek’s scene, Stiles knows the guy, and gay clubs are not high on his list of places to spend time. However, Stiles also knows him well enough to know that it’s April, and Aprils are always bad for Derek, always make him want to forget.
(Have been since he was 16. Have been since Stiles was 11. Aprils aren’t good for any of them, they bring up names like Beth, and Talia, and Victoria.)
“Yo, Der!” Stiles says, sliding up to his side, pressing a kiss to his jaw. “Fuck the leaning angstily on the bar routine, come dance with Scott and me.”
“What are you doing here?” Derek asks, but he lets Stiles lead him by a hand, Stiles walking backwards and grinning as he heads back to Scott without looking, because he’ll always know where Scott is. “You’re not 18 for another month.”
“Fake IDs, very handy,” Stiles says, lets himself bump into Scott, lets Scott anchor them again, lets Derek run a hand through his hair and grind against him.
Stiles will always know where Scott is, will always know where Derek is, because since that April, they’ve been pack. Always will be.
Allison moves into town when they’re ten. She has curls and a giant smile and Scott draws hearts around her name in his notebook.
There are things that follow the Argents though, and they start moving in the next year. Once the Hale pack is gone, and the Argents greatly reduced, something more nefarious starts curling around Beacon Hills.
You grow up fast when you have to learn how to not only live but survive.
Stiles’ dad shows him how to use a gun. Chris shows Stiles and Allison how to use crossbows. Derek tells Stiles to stay out of it and Stiles follows Scott into the forest, running full tilt along behind Scott when he’s on all fours.
Laura tells them stories, about before the fire, and she has a dangerous smile and a dark glint in her eyes, that bright, bright blue. They’d be red, but neither she nor Derek had known how to be alphas, the lost twins, orphan Gemini, when everything had happened.
The sheriff will stop by some nights, Stiles hot on his heels, and sometimes they can pretend that it’s just this. Just John and Melissa laughing in the kitchen as they wash up after dinner, just Laura and Derek trying to get work done as Stiles, Scott, and Allison rampage through the house, unholy terrors.
But at the end of the day John and Melissa always end up fading into each other, sitting at the kitchen table, looking drawn and tired, and the laughter will become an update on what’s slunk into town now, onto McCall territory. Laura will hold Derek, sitting in the shadows of her room, in the corner, as he rocks in her arms, not crying but making horrible, almost silent little broken noises, homework forgotten. Allison will win their game of tag because she’s got deadly aim with a Nerf gun and Scott has his nose, and flashing eyes, and Stiles drums them all up into strategy plans that he shouldn’t know.
John stops trying to keep Stiles at home by the time they’ve started high school. Stiles has been sneaking out for years, going to the McCall house to curl up with Scott, because he’s been too afraid to sleep alone since even before Beth died.
Allison has nightmares about Peter ripping her mother and Kate apart in front of her. Has nightmares about killing Gerard.
(She still has that arrow, snapped in half and stained with black blood, pushed to the very back of the top shelf of her closet.)
“Go go go!” Allison says from just behind him as they bob and weave through the trees and over fallen logs, their footsteps steady on ground they’ve known for years.
“I’m going!” Stiles huffs, frowning. “You’re not the one with the M4, I’m going to have bruises from this POS.”
The gun in question is swinging and slamming into his back on every stride, over a bony spine.
“Whose fault is that?”
“The only other thing in the seized firearms locker at the station was a sawed off AK.”
“Oh, gross, never mind.”
“Yeah, there was no way in hell I was going to be seen with that.”
They crash through dead bushes and over fallen leaves, heading for the Hale house. The alpha pack have finally decided to make a move, and Allison and Stiles knew Melissa’s howl as much as any of the wolves did, knew what it meant.
When they come bursting out into the clearing around what’s left of the house, there’s utter chaos. Allison already has an arrow nocked, and when she lets it loose it slams into the back of the head of the nearest alpha. He stumbles, swings on them, eyes unfocused, and then the arrowhead explodes, a burst of frenetic light in the cool night.
“Nice. Although I think you got brain on me,” Stiles says, and Allison just raises her eyebrows before throwing herself into the fray. Stiles pulls a magazine cartridge out of his back pocket, clicks it in, and runs after Allison.
They end up back to back, wolfsbane arrows and bullets, the only two humans, the only two who can break, and yet they still haven’t. They’re still standing.
There are four alphas. In addition to the now headless one, Derek and Laura manage to rip one apart, and the other two go down to Melissa and Scott. They’re all pockmarked with bullets and arrows, the carbon fiber shafts glinting dark in the moonlight.
“Little Red and Hawkeye to the rescue again,” Laura says, and when she grins her teeth are red.
“You’re going to get hurt,” Derek says, and Melissa just wraps them up in a hug, none of them caring about the amount of blood on her.
“Thank you,” she murmurs, kisses them each on the forehead, and they build and light a pyre, reducing the latest in a series of nasties that think they’re bigger and badder than them to nothing but paper ash skin and burnt chunks of bone.
John shows up eventually, and he stands next to Stiles, a hand on the back of his neck. They’re almost the same height, and when Stiles turns to his father and grins his father offers him a smile back, even if it doesn’t reach his eyes.
Stiles knows that they’ve mourned Beth in different ways. Stiles has hard hands, a hard mind. The Sherriff hasn’t had light in his eyes or warmth in his heart in six years.
They build a fort in the McCall’s front room, pillows and blankets, and hide from Derek and Laura, curled up together, watching TV through a strategic crack they’ve left.
They fall asleep eventually, Scott and Allison and Stiles, and when they wake up they’re in Scott’s bed. The clock says it’s past three in the morning, and the soft glow of the moon makes Scott’s eyes catch yellow when he turns towards it.
“High school is going to be weird,” Allison says, rubs at the steadily healing cut that runs the length of her right arm, a souvenir from a fae last month.
“We’ll be fine,” Stiles says.
“We’ve got this,” Scott says, nodding. “We’ve dealt with worse.”
(There was once, before things started creeping in with the Argents, when they’d been kids, but no one remembers that time anymore.)
“Here’s to hopping,” Allison says, holding up a pinky, and Scott hooks hers with his, grinning.
“Here’s to promising,” Scott says, and they eventually fall back asleep, Stiles cradled between them.
The next night is the full moon, and this time Stiles and Allison hold Scott between them, anchors, their hands twined with his, where they’re sitting out in the yard, in the long grass, under the maple tree with the tire swing.
Scott had shifted too early, all the grief around him, the changes in his pack, dragging his first change out of him at eleven. He’s better now, and he turns his face up to the sky, the moon through the leaves falling on his face.
“I think I’ve got this,” Scott says, his voice heavy through his fangs, and they lie in the grass, Allison drawing lazy swirls on the back of his hand, down to his claws and back to his wrist.
“We’ve got everything,” Stiles says, and Allison grins at him in the dark, razor sharp.
Allison and Stiles wait with the Jeep, sitting on the hood and taking turns with Stiles’ Beretta at trying to hit a knot on a tree twenty meters off the road.
“You don’t think they’ve gotten themselves killed, do you?” Stiles mutters, lining up the shot and missing slightly to the right again.
“Nah, I think Derek’s too angry at life to die,” Allison says, accepting the gun back. “And Laura’s way too stubborn.”
Eventually Laura and Derek do come back, Derek somehow missing his shirt, although that’s a pretty common occurrence.
“Mischief managed?” Stiles asks as Derek and Laura climb in the back, Derek scowling and Laura grinning.
“Totally managed and sorted. Although we’re going to have to call in a body clean up,” Laura says.
“Sure deal,” Stiles says, opening up the driver’s side door and grabbing the police radio his dad had put in a few years back. “This is Little Red, calling in a 419S from the SW quadrant of the Preserve, two harpies. Over.”
“Read you Little Red, dispatching officers,” comes the staticy reply, and Stiles throws the radio back in the general direction of the holder before turning the car on, patting the wheel happily when the Jeep roars to life.
“Sometimes, I wonder what our lives would be like if they were normal,” Allison says, emptying the Beretta and stowing it back in Stiles’ bag on the floor.
“None of us ever had a shot at a normal life,” Laura says, leaning forward between the seats.
“Bummer,” Allison says, but she doesn’t sound incredibly torn up about it.
The night before Allison and Stiles head off to college, they and Scott and Derek end up spread out on Stiles’ floor, over at Stiles’ place for once.
Derek is face down on his stomach, an arm thrown over Stiles’ stomach, and Allison and Scott are curled up together on his other side, although they’re all closer to being in a pile.
“How’s the back?” Stiles asks, and Derek grunts into the floor. Scott smirks, and Allison rolls her eyes.
“Totally healed faster than you,” Scott says.
“Shut the fuck up, I just had a couple of my vertebrae almost ripped out of my body,” Derek mutters, his voice muffled. “I win this round.”
“Whatever, you don’t really need those,” Stiles says, and Derek makes an attempt to thump him on the stomach, but it’s pretty weak.
“One last send off,” Allison says. “Shame it was only demons. We’ve done them like five times now.”
“I still want to know when we’re going to see a unicorn,” Stiles says.
“Don’t you need virgins for that?” Scott asks. “Oh wait, you still have a chance, Stiles!”
“Hey, ‘scuze you, I was totally balls deep in-“ Derek slaps a hand over Stiles’ mouth before he can finish, and Stiles glares over at him with a mmmuufffpphhh!, trying to pull at Derek’s hand but only getting a growl for his troubles.
“I so did not need to know that,” Scott says, looking slightly queasy, and Allison laughs.
“Squeamish, Scott?” She asks, raising her eyebrows.
“You know I’m not I just… ew. Stiles and Derek and sex, not now, not ever.”
“I’m totally old enough to provide photographic proof,” Stiles pipes up. Derek’s hand, which he’d just moved, goes right back over Stiles’ mouth. Stiles retaliates with nipping and licking, and eventually Derek gives up, shifting to curl around Stiles’ side instead.
They fall into silence, the only sound the wind outside the window and their breathing, and Stiles feels himself starting to drift off. He can hear it start to rain, and he knows it’s probably getting in the window, which they’d left cracked open, but he doesn’t care.
Stiles reaches out for Scott, hooks their hands together, and Scott smiles over at him, sleepy and open.
“You’ve got this,” Scott says, and Stiles knows he means college, but it seems like something more, some kind of mantra.
“We always have,” Stiles says. “Always will.”
John and Melissa find the four of them tangled together on the floor and can’t find it in them to wake them up and move them, so instead they just liberate some blankets from the linen closet, close the window to the rain outside.
Stiles dreams of the storm outside and of a similar one years and years ago, one especially stormy April.