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Twirling 'Round with this Familiar Parable Part II

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Isaac didn't remember feeling this much like a pack since spring, but he wasn't a part of Derek's pack anymore. Ever since he'd fallen in love with Scott, and then Boyd and Erica tried to leave Derek, Isaac had been shifting his allegiance more and more to Scott's pack. So searching Beacon Hills for Kali felt familiar, but weird. Like that one time Isaac went back to his elementary school during freshman year. Everything felt smaller.

"Do you think we should maybe split up?" Isaac asked Derek, who hadn't said much all night. But it wasn't like he was acting weird. Derek rarely said all that much on a good day.

Derek didn't answer Isaac, but Cora did. "We shouldn't. Deaton said she's even stronger than Deucalion and pissed off. None of us would survive alone." Cora paused for half a second before asking, "Right, Derek?"

"Right," he agreed distractedly, his eyes on the horizon. Well, that was totally normal Derek behavior, too. Wasn't it?

Isaac followed as Derek led the way through town, following the trail of destruction and mayhem. Beside him, Boyd said, "There's no way the authorities are going to miss this. What, do we say it was a tornado?" Boyd paused for a moment, and when no one answered him, he asked, "Derek?"

"Hmm?" Derek replied, not turning his head to look at Boyd. He seemed to be focusing on something intently, so Isaac followed Derek's line of sight, but he couldn't see anything.

"You hear something?" Isaac asked.

Derek didn't answer; he just kept moving forward. Isaac found nothing comforting about his behavior. It was Allison who was being paranoid, wasn't it? Not Isaac.

But then a thought occurred to Isaac. "Where's Peter? Shouldn't he be helping? Why does he get to be alone?"

"He left town," Cora said, jumping up onto a garbage can and then the roof of a building. Isaac followed.

"What do you mean he left town? Why would he go now, when we need everyone we can get?"

Shrugging, Cora jumped to the next building over, her eyes ahead of them on Derek, who was still at street level and several dozen yards ahead of them. "He had business that couldn't wait. It's not like he'd be much help, anyway."

"True," Isaac agreed, jumping down into a roll when the building ran out and they had to scamper across a few parking lots and a road to keep up with Derek. "It's probably good he's gone. I always get the feeling he's plotting something, I don't know, evil."

Cora chuckled and shook her head as they jogged forward, meeting up with Boyd. A sound prickled at the edge of Isaac's hearing and the others turned that way as well. As they moved, Cora told Isaac in a steady, almost dismissive voice, "Peter is just Peter. He said he'd be back soon."

Isaac wasn't great at telling if people were lying or not. Not using his werewolf hearing, anyway. But he knew what it looked like when a man had dark thoughts under a charming exterior, and what his casual insults really meant. And now Peter had fled town? That seemed suspicious.

And suddenly, Isaac wasn't so sure that Allison was seeing things where Derek was concerned. What if Peter had done something to him and Cora was so blinded by the old memories she had of her uncle that she couldn't see it?

"Kali's moving too fast. We're gonna lose her," Boyd growled, thumping Isaac on the back and taking Cora's hand, pulling her forward into a faster run. Isaac dropped down onto all fours so he could keep up.

~*~

Jen noticed the way her leg bounced and consciously stopped it, pulling her thumbnail from between her teeth and standing up. Derek's apartment felt far too quiet while she was the only one in it. Cora had said, "You'll be safe here, and if the alarm goes off, just hide." Derek hadn't said anything, though he had given her a half-hearted wave.

The wave had convinced her that this Derek wasn't the Derek she knew. He wasn't the man she'd - oh, shit - the man she'd fallen in love with. And Cora was out there with him. She'd been apart from her brother so long that she couldn't recognize that something was very, very wrong.

Jen had read so many books in her lifetime, that the list of possibilities as far as what had changed Derek was just about endless in her mind. Especially since the impossible was coming true lately. Jen had been given something to drink, and then she'd seen inside another person's head. She'd been in his awful, awful memories when he died. Nothing was impossible.

Add to that all the voices Jen heard, no longer muted by the lack of antipsychotics in her system, and Jen felt like laughing until she cried.

Don't let her… a woman's voice whispered in Jen's ear, making her tense up. It had happened enough times over the past few weeks that Jen managed not to scream, but it was a near thing.

"What?" she asked, turning around, but seeing no one. "Don't let who do what?"

The voice replied, but Jen couldn't make out any words. When garbled words devolved into a broken moan, Jen decided she had to get out of there.

"Yeah, okay. I'll try my best. Bye." Shoving her feet into her shoes, Jen hurried to the elevator and took it down to the ground floor. She found herself surprised that her car was still waiting for her, like she'd expected Derek to take it for her own good.

...good boy…

Jen shivered. The voice whispered in her ear, but it still sounded like it was coming from so very far away. She started the car and drove.

And then she realized she had no plan for where she was driving to. It was late and almost everything would be closed, and there was a dangerous werewolf on the loose. "Well, Jen," she said to herself, drumming her thumbs on the steering wheel. "What do you want?"

"I want to not be talking to myself," she answered with a huff, pulling away from the light when it turned green. "I want a taco."

Jen realized she wasn't thinking big enough. She did want to feel safe, but most of all, she wanted answers.

She couldn't go to Derek for answers, and Derek's sister had called all the other werewolves to come help them track down Kali. The only person left who Jen knew was involved was Stiles.

Pulling over, Jen pulled out her phone and looked up Stiles' address. At the beginning of the year, she'd pulled the addresses of all her students as well as their phone numbers, because she'd had grand plans of sending out individualized feedback and encouragements. That plan had fallen by the wayside when she started losing time.

Stiles actually lived not too far away, in a neighborhood not too far from the high school. Jen drove there and parked on the street. Jen realized that she didn't have a cover story to speak of if Stiles' parents answered the door, so she paused two steps away from her car, giving herself time to think of one.

"Ow! Son of a-" a voice said, off to the side of the house. Jen would have thought that she was hearing another voice, another person from beyond the grave, except the bushes shivered.

"Who's there?" Jen asked in a loud whisper, hoping it wasn't a burglar or a rapist or something. She readied the mace on her keychain (even if it was useless against werewolves, as she'd discovered), and adopted what she thought looked like a tough stance.

"Fuck," the voice said softly. It sounded male, young, and almost familiar. Louder, it called, "It's just me, Mima. Don't use the bat." And then Stiles stumbled out of the bushes. He stopped short. "You're not my mima."

"No," Jen said, noticing the way Stiles had all of his weight on one of his legs and a sprig of leaves caught in his hair. "Were you sneaking out?"

Stiles looked around, his eyes shifting back and forth a few times before they met hers. He nodded.

"But-"

Holding up a placating hand, Stiles cut her off. "I know." He pointed to the leg he wasn't resting his weight on. "Dude, I know. But I couldn't just sit while everyone else goes after her." Raising an eyebrow he asked, "What are you doing here?"

Jen looked down at her hands and gave a humorless laugh. "The same thing, actually. I don't know who else to…"

Limping, Stiles walked toward Jen. "C'mon. I do know. And it's about time he started giving us some answers. You're driving."

"Oh-kay," Jen said, a little weirded out to be taking orders from one of her students. But hell, Stiles seemed to know more about what was going on than she did. And if he knew where to get the answers Jen needed, she might as well play along. Besides, his confidence made Jen feel like maybe things weren't so bad.

After a few minutes of driving, Stiles cleared his throat and asked, "So, you're pretty close to Derek, right?"

Jen couldn't see what angle Stiles had behind the question, if any, so she answered truthfully. "Yeah, I guess. I haven't known him very long. Why?"

"I just-" Stiles said, hiking his uninjured leg up onto his seat and tapping his fingers on his knee. "I- and it's not just me – I noticed that he's not acting like his usual self."

A slice of unease flared through Jen's chest, but she didn't want to jump on whatever Stiles was trying to get at with this conversation and make a fool of herself. "I-I didn't notice anything," she lied.

"He's been distracted or something lately," Stiles insisted. "I mean, I know he's not normally talkative or anything, but usually you can tell he's paying attention to what's going on." Stiles paused and gnawed on the edge of his jacket for a moment. Jen tried not to watch him too much as she drove, but her eyes kept drawing back to the way he worried at the jacket, like a nervous puppy. Spitting out the fabric, Stiles added, "I mean, it's like half the time he doesn't even respond to what you're saying, and then he's like surprised to see you there."

"Maybe," Jen said, her voice sticking in her throat as she pulled up to a red light. "Maybe I've seen that. I- maybe."

"It's creepy, right? The lights are on, but nobody's home. Oh," Stiles dropped his leg to the floor, leaned forward, and pointed, "turn up there."

"Maybe he's just not..." Jen tried to think of how to word this delicately. "...well. Maybe he's not well. There has been a lot of, um, excitement lately."

"No, I don't think that's it." Stiles leaned his head against the window. "Believe it or not, we've seen something like it here before. When Derek's uncle, Peter, was controlling Lydia from beyond the grave."

"So, what?" Jen asked, taking the next turn when Stiles pointed it out. "You think Derek's possessed?" Jen laughed, but even to her ears it sounded strained.

"Or otherwise being messed with, yeah," Stiles said, pointing again. "This is it." Jen pulled her car into the parking lot of a veterinary clinic. As Jen turned off her engine, she asked, "Really?"

"Oh yeah," he said with a smirk and a nod. "Believe me, the irony does not escape me."

As they got out of the car, Stiles wincing, Jen frowned. "You do realize that this isn't actually an example of irony, right?"

"Oh, my god." Stiles laughed, hopping on one foot for a few feet before settling into a rolling limp as he led the way toward the vet clinic. "Can you not be my English teacher for, like, five seconds?"

"Kind of comes with the territory," Jen replied, hurrying forward to help Stiles. She put herself under his arm and stood up, taking some of his weight. When Jen's hand brushed Stiles', a sharp zap of electricity stung her. "Ouch."

"Serves you right for trying to help," Stiles said, his voice soft and without conviction, his eyes focused on the clinic ahead. Jen half expected him to pull away, but he didn't. Instead, he readjusted his arm and leaned a little bit more of his weight onto her. It wasn't much weight (hell, the boy probably weighed less than her, soaking wet), and it wasn't more than she could handle in her not-quite-well state. It felt nice, to be helping for a change.

When they got to the door, Stiles lifted his fist and banged on it. The sound reverberated loudly through the whole office park. Stiles met Jen's eyes, gave her a little hug with the arm around her shoulders and said, "Now we wait to see if the Doc is in."

Jen looked at Stiles – really studied him – and saw the dark circles under his eyes. She saw the crease between his brows and along the contour of his forehead, etched into his skin too early. She saw the way his smile only brought up one side of his mouth and how it didn't touch his eyes. Jen saw a young man more clever, and much more world-weary than his years, and it scared her.

It scared her because she liked clever, cynical men – she always had – and she liked the way Stiles' arm felt oddly comfortable around her shoulders. But Stiles wasn't even seventeen yet. He was a child. Jen looked away from Stiles and through the glass of the veterinarian's door.

A figure approached from the other side and a man with dark skin opened the door. "Stiles? Are you...?"

"Fine," Stiles said, taking his arm from around Jen's shoulders and limping past the man under his own power. "Haven't heard from your sister tonight, have you, Dr. Deaton?"

"I was just prepping..." Dr. Deaton gave Jen an assessing look, his eyebrows high on his forehead. "...supplies. In case there are casualties I need to treat. Do you-?" He pointed to Stiles' leg.

"It's fine." Stiles adjusted his gate as he walked further into the building, like he was trying to hide his limp.

"Are you okay as well?"

It took Jen a moment to realize Dr. Deaton was talking to her. "Yeah," she assured him. "Yeah, I'm fine." When she realized she had a hand pressed to her bitten side, she let her arms drop down.

“Okay, here’s the thing,” Stiles started out, leaning against one of the counters with his weight shifted toward his uninjured leg. “I need more information than ‘oh you could be strong one day’ and ‘people can magnify’ this thing that I have. I need to know when and where I can depend on this thing. I almost died. My parents almost died! You have to explain.”

“Some things can’t be explained,” Dr. Deaton said, and even Jen had to scoff.

Deaton looked at her, his eyebrows raised. Jen shrugged. “I mean we, as a species, have found the words to describe everything imaginable, every feeling we’ve ever come across, and maybe those feelings are difficult to put into words, but at least some of the authors out there have done it.”

Stiles grinned and Deaton smirked. “Maybe I have the words,” he replied. “But I’m choosing not to use them.”

“Maybe that’s a cop-out,” Jen replied back. She crossed her arms over her chest. “I hear voices. I was in the room when one person tore another person’s head off of his body. I’m not in the mood for cop-outs or excuses. And believe me, I’m a high school teacher. I’ve heard them all.”

Scratching his chin with one hand, Deaton hummed. Then he nodded. “Alright. I can see you won’t take no for an answer.” He leaned against an exam table, his forearms taking his weight. Letting out a big breath, Deaton began to speak. “It is said there are three planes of existence. This plane, the one we’re on right now; the underworld or afterlife; and the in-between.”

“Orpheus,” Jen breathed, thinking about the conversation she and Deucalion had on the day that he bit her.

Attention drawn by her utterance, Deaton met Jen’s eyes and nodded. “There are legends throughout history of heroes who could move back and forth between these planes of existence. What is often excluded from these legends are stories about the people here who embody these planes. Werewolves aren’t just men who are also wolves, they’re also alive to a greater degree than men. They see better, hear better, run faster, and heal so quickly it’s very difficult to kill them.

“And then there are people in touch with the dead.” Deaton gave Jen a significant look, which made her gulp nervously. “People who can literally hear the thoughts and sighs and screams of souls who have passed on to the underworld.”

Jen watched Stiles look back and forth between her and Deaton, his eyebrows high in surprise. “Seriously?" Deaton nodded gravely. "These people who can speak to the dead have been given many names, but the one I've heard most oft-"

"Mediums," Jen interrupted. "Deucalion called me a Medium."

Deaton paused for a moment, looking down as he nodded. He sighed. "Deucalion knew what you are. He would have known you were immune to his bite."

"Then why the hell did he bite me?" Jen cried, leaning her weight back against the wall. "Why did he have to do that?"

"To create a connection." Stiles said. Deaton turned to look at Stiles, his eyebrows high with surprise. As if in response to the question Deaton hadn't asked, Stiles shrugged. "Lydia's the same. She hears voices, she's immune to the bite, Peter used his connection with her to bring himself back from the dead."

"A very concerning development," Deaton said with a nod. He crossed to the side of the room and pulled a vial of purple powder from the cabinet. Most of the vial was empty. "He had her steal most of my wolfsbane to make it happen. I've sent out for more, but..."

"Is that what Deucalion did to me? Is he going to come back?" Jen stuck the tip of her thumb between her teeth.

"No. I don't think so," Deaton replied. "For one, Kali removed his head, causing an injury that's impossible for even werewolves to heal."

"That's why Kate Argent cut Derek's sister in half. Laura. So she wouldn't come back." Stiles took another step closer, standing between Jen and the exam table. His presence in front of Jen felt almost warm.

Deaton nodded. "And for two, Deucalion's attempt didn't take. It backfired. He'll never be in your head the way Peter Hale was with Lydia."

Silence settled over the three of them for a moment, during which Jen thought about how awful it was that Derek had lost his sister that way. Jen had as-good-as lost her brother to drugs. She wondered how much of his problems had been because of this talking to the dead. And she wanted to ask Deaton why Deucalion's plan for her had backfired, but mostly she was so glad it did, she wasn't interested in knowing the details.

Breaking the silence, Stiles trained his attention solely on Deaton. "What about the last one? That in-between place. Does that have specific people, too?"

"Yes." Deaton gave Stiles a significant look.

Pointing to his own chest, Stiles asked, "Me? But I'm just- How?"

"What's the most powerful force in the world?" Deaton asked, and Jen recognized the leading question for what it was – a teaching technique.

Stiles shook his head and shrugged. "I don't know. Money?"

Jen side-eyed him as she stepped closer to the table, standing next to him. Sure, money was important, but it wasn't the be all and end all of human existence. Clearing her throat, Jen gave her own answer. "Love."

"Love," Stiles repeated softly, giving Jen a long look, his brows drawing together slightly. Then his gaze cut away, finding Dr. Deaton after a moment.

Deaton gave a single nod. "Love. It's a great amount of power we give away when we love someone. The universe takes notice."

"Yeah, but everyone loves someone. Not everyone can do what you do." Stiles shuffled some of his weight and he ended up a little closer to Jen. She pretended his proximity didn't feel so comforting. And actually, once she started pretending, the pressure of the feeling dissapated a little.

"Not everyone has bonds of love with both a werewolf and a Medium," Deaton pointed out. "That's the important distinction. And, your ties to both your brother and to Lydia are important parts of the equation, but it's your lasting love for someone who has passed on that makes you belong In Between."

"My mother," Stiles breathed, bringing his hand up and rubbing his face with it.

"You were very close to her. Maybe even saw her die?"

Jen hated Deaton in that moment, because Stiles' eyes teared up and he picked at his lower lip with his hand. But then he nodded. "I was the only one there. I held her hand and I watched her stop breathing. My dad was– he was at work. Mima, too."

"That's all being a Druid is, Stiles. Circumstance, love, and belief. Don't you feel it? How you've been In-Between since her death?" Deaton seemed a little excited, like he was finally getting to tell his side of the story, but Jen saw how close those tears in Stiles' eyes were to falling.

Jen took Stiles' hand. The warmth she'd been feeling from standing next to him grew five fold and crawled up Jen's arm. The sensation felt strange, but not frightening or unwelcome. Stiles smiled at her. Deaton's eyes flicked to their clasped hands, but he didn't say anything about it.

Looking up at Deaton as he brushed a tear away with his free hand, Stiles said to Deaton, "Your sister told me this-this Druid thing sometimes runs in families. She-"

"Sometimes," Deaton replied, gently cutting Stiles off. "Mostly we share this gift because we both loved someone who was a werewolf, and someone who died."

"What about the Medium?" Jen asked. "Did you know someone like, well, like me?"

"People like you are few and far between," Deaton said. "But my mother did know someone. She had us meet him, once. I shook his hand, and that was all it took. I like to think," Deaton quirked up one side of his mouth, "that Mother loved him deeply enough for all of us."

Jen squeezed Stiles' hand and then released it. The air was cold in comparison. She put both her hands on the exam table and leaned forward, addressing Deaton. "So, we all know what we are. Now what? I just wait for ghosts to tell me something useful?"

"I want to get better at this." Stiles leaned forward on the table, too. "I want to be able to protect my parents. I want to be able to rely on whatever it can do."

"What you can do is predicated on belief, Stiles. You have to believe in the things you want to make true," said Deaton.

Jen scoffed. "If wishes were fishes..."

Shrugging with one shoulder, Dr. Deaton added, "However, to really make things happen, you need to cause an intersection of all three planes of existence – warp them to your will."

"Wait, really?" Stiles asked, an open-mouthed smile spreading across his face. "How?"

Deaton paused for a moment before grabbing three small containers from the counter and setting them on the exam table in a line. He pointed to the center one. "This is you. You're In-Between. You're also the focus."

"Sounds like a fun night." Stiles smirked and winked at Jen, which made Jen amused and unsettled at the same time. He was a child!

Deaton stared down Stiles' smile before continuing. He pointed to the jar on his left, "This is a werewolf, someone extra-alive to anchor you here and keep the other planes from pulling you back with them."

"Scott." Stiles said with a sharp nod.

"Doesn't have to be," Deaton replied. At Stiles' surprised expression, Deaton continued, "While bonds of love are helpful when doing a spell, make it stronger, a bond of friendship will do. When you saved Boyd, who were you holding onto? Was it Scott and Lydia?"

Stiles shook his head. "It was Cora, and-" He turned to look at Jen. She didn't remember much of that night, but she remembered being near Stiles when Kali was tossed away from Boyd. "And you."

Wrapping her arms around herself, Jen asked, "So my role is what? Holding Stiles' hand while he thinks up whatever amazing feats he wants to do?" Jen probably let a little more disdain into her voice than she intended.

"No," Dr. Deaton said, holding his hand out in a placating gesture. "No. All three of you..." He pushed the three jars close together in a cluster. "...need to be imagining the same goal. It's the combined force of will that causes the spell to happen. What the Medium does is pull," Deaton made a grasping motion with his fist, "the underworld up, drawing on its energy. Or, if that's not your style, you can make friends with souls on the other side and convince them to send you the power, to channel it through you and to the focal point. The Druid." Deaton tapped on the lid of one jar, his eyes on Stiles.

"Can we use this to stop what's happening right now?" Jen asked, breaking the staring contest between Stiles and Dr. Deaton. "To stop Kali?"

Shaking his head and frowning, Deaton said, "I doubt it. Usually working together takes a minimum amount of practice. To do the kind of spells that would stop an aberration like what Kali has become would take years of practice. That you stopped her before was miracle."

Stiles' face fell, but Jen felt relieved. As much as she wanted to help and as much as she wanted people to be safe from Kali, doing it herself was above and beyond what she felt ready for. If she'd been able to help, she would have told herself to grow up and just do it, but not being able to follow through was like being let off the hook.

"So how are we going to stop her?" Stiles took a step back, his weight still off center, and crossed his arms over his chest. "Pray?"

"We trust Scott." Deaton gave this benevolent smile that made Jen want to kick him in the shin or something. What was one teenager going to do against a woman who could just rip people's heads off?

~*~

“Hey, Danny,” Lydia said, giving Danny’s mother a grateful wave as she left them alone at the front door. “I kind of need your help.”

Danny eyed Lydia a little suspiciously, and Lydia could understand why. She hadn’t ever come to visit him at his house before. They were only friends because of Jackson, and without him around, their relationship was shaky at best. Of course Lydia liked Danny. Who didn’t, really? But after he’d broken up with her and Jackson, she hadn’t had much use for him, up until now. It was an attitude Lydia now regretted.

“What do you need?” Danny dropped his arms from where they’d been crossed over his chest.

Taking that as a sign he was open to suggestion, despite Lydia knocking on his door after 9 o’clock on a school night, Lydia got right to the point. “I need Ethan’s phone number.”

Danny rolled his eyes and scoffed. “Was that it? You could’ve just texted me.”

“Well, I wasn’t sure you’d-“ Lydia huffed. “Aiden was weird about giving out his number. I thought maybe Ethan would be the same.”

“They’re- They were different people,” Danny said, pulling his phone out of his pocket. He sighed as he thumbed at it for a moment. He hit one final button and then put it back in his pocket. Lydia’s phone chimed. “You’re finally going to talk to him about what happened to his brother?”

“Yeah,” Lydia said distractedly as she checked her phone to make sure she’d gotten the information. “I- Do you know how Ethan’s doing?”

Shrugging, Danny said, “Not really. I’ve seen him once since then. He apologized for not being able to stay more than a few minutes and told me to ‘keep safe’, whatever that means.”

Lydia felt the tears welling up in her eyes, so she jutted out her chin and pressed her tongue to the backs of her teeth, like that would help. She looked up, willing the tears to just go right back where they’d come from, thank you very much.

“Shit,” Danny said softly, moving forward and pulling Lydia into a warm hug. “I’m sorry.”

Damn it, now Lydia had to cry. There was just no avoiding it in the face of such selfless sympathy. “It’s fine,” she tried to say, her voice sticking in her throat.

After a silent moment in which Lydia let herself cry and then pulled her composure back around herself, Danny told her, “If there was anything I could do to bring him back, I would.”

“I know. I didn’t even like him that much and look at me!” Lydia laughed and carefully dabbed away the tears with her jacket sleeve, trying not to smear her makeup.

Danny gave Lydia a soft smile and whispered, “Liar.”

It made her laugh, and Lydia pushed on one of Danny’s biceps. “Why do you have to be mono? It’s not fair.”

“If I was attracted to any girl,” Danny insisted. “It would be you, Lydia.”

“See!” she cried, though a smile tugged her lips upward. “That’s what I’m talking about! Keeping all that charm for the boys. So unfair!”

Danny laughed and put one hand on the still-open door. “Good night, Lydia.”

“Night.” Lydia gave Danny a parting wave and flounced down the walkway toward where she’d parked her car in Danny’s driveway. She got in and was just reaching for her seatbelt when Scott popped up from the back seat.

“You got it?”

Holding a hand to her chest, Lydia replied, “Yeah, but I lost my heart when you scared it right out of me! I think you’re taking this creature of the night bit too seriously.”

Scott rolled his eyes and said, “Please, just give me the phone and start driving. I’ll talk to Ethan.”

“And tell him what, exactly? That his werewolf friend is painting the town red? I think he already knows.”

“He’s the last one left,” Scott insisted. “I can give Ethan what he’s looking for. A pack.”

Turning on the car and backing out of the driveway, Lydia insisted, “You’re not an alpha. You don’t have a pack to give.”

“Of course I have a pack. Just ... most of them aren’t werewolves.” Scott’s voice was a little tense. Defensive almost, like he didn’t like Lydia pointing out that he wasn’t quite up to par.

Lydia didn’t want to keep poking at Scott, because it felt like it might damage his adorableness, but lives were on the line here. Feelings couldn’t exactly be spared. “Didn’t Ethan kidnap Ms. Blake and try to kill Boyd? How can you just forget those things and invite him into your pack?”

“I know he’s not really like that,” Scott insisted. “And besides, Isaac and Derek and everyone tried to kill you, but we still-“

“Yeah, about that...”

“I’m calling now,” Scott told her, a playful warning in his voice.

Lydia drove. She drove and she tried not to feel too jealous of Allison and Isaac.

~*~

Ethan agreed to meet with them, which Scott counted as a win. It was half the battle anyway, wasn’t it? Getting your foot in the door? The others were still out tracking down Kali, but Scott met Ethan at the school. Eyes glowing red as he stepped out of the shadows, Ethan asked, "So what's your big plan?"

"All of us working together to stop Kali," Scott told him.

"Do we kill her?"

"Not if we can help it."

Ethan looked at Scott for a long time, a gaze which Scott met steadily. Scott may not have been an alpha, but he wasn't going to let that stop him from doing the right thing. Eventually, Ethan's shoulders sagged. Looking down, he told Scott, "I'm useless without my brother."

"No one's useless," Scott insisted, taking a careful step toward Ethan. "And Kali needs to be stopped. You care about her right?"

Ethan nodded carefully, slowly like he was revealing a secret.

"Than would you rather be part of a team who can stop her, or leave her to the mercy of the hunters who are going to track her down? She's not exactly being subtle."

"She's really not." Ethan chuckled humorlessly. "Fine. I'm in. But I'm not-"

Scott waited a second for Ethan to continue and when he didn't, Scott asked, "What?"

"I'm not taking orders from Derek."

Thinking about how odd Derek had been acting lately, Scott figured Ethan's caveat was probably for the best. "Okay. Fine. C'mon," Scott nodded toward the parking lot, where Lydia and her car were waiting for him. "Anything you can think of that we could use to calm Kali down? Any memories?"

Ethan shrugged. "All the good memories that I know about were with Deucalion and Ennis."

"Oh. They were...?" Scott trailed off. He didn't know why he hadn't seen it before. Kali, Deucalion, and Ennis had been a triad. He wondered if that made Ethan and Aiden kind of like their kids.

"Yeah," Ethan said. "But then we came here and everything went wrong."

Scott frowned as they approached the car. He paused a few feet away from it and asked. "So why did you come here?"

Ethan gave Scott a long look, but he didn't answer. Instead, he approached Lydia's car and got into the backseat. Scott shrugged. He guessed he wasn't going to get an answer to that question.

So, Scott got in the car and called Isaac. "Did you find her?" he asked as soon as Isaac answered. Scott hoped Isaac was being careful. They'd barely started this relationship and already Scott couldn't bear the thought of losing Isaac.

"She's terrorizing the bowling alley," Isaac said, his voice laced with something like weary amusement. His tone changed, though, when he said, "Derek won't let us go in to get the last few people out."

"Why not?"

"He says he's waiting for you."

Shit. Scott turned to Lydia and told her, "The bowling alley, as quick as you can get us there."

As they drove, Scott tried to keep himself from calling Allison to check on her. After she and Scott escorted Stiles and Scott's mom home, Allison dropped Scott off at Lydia's. Before she let Scott out of the car, she'd said, "I promise, I'll keep in touch with Isaac. But I have to tell my dad what's going on."

"I thought he was retired," Scott tried to argue, but Allison cut him off with a shake of her head. "He's not as retired as he likes to say." Allison smiled, but her eyebrows drew together. "He's been trying to figure out the Darach. He says he's not, but I know what it looks like when he's working a case."

Scott nodded and leaned forward, pressing his forehead to Allison's. "Promise you and your dad will hold back?"

Allison jutted out her chin. "Scott. We can't let her win."

"I'm not asking for that," Scott insisted. "I'm just asking you to stay back. Stay safe. Only come closer if you really need to."

"Did you ask the same of Isaac?" Allison's voice was tense, pissed off, but she didn't pull away. She left her forehead, warm and a little moist with the humid air, pressed against Scott's.

"You heard me tell him to be careful," Scott insisted, giving Allison his best smile. "I know you heard me. It's the same, Allison. I promise."

"We'll be careful," Allison promised. "We'll keep an eye on your dad."

"Thank you," Scott said sincerely, pressing forward to place a kiss on Allison's lips. "And hey, maybe if we find Kali and defeat her, we'll finally be able to get some alone time together. All three of us."

"Hell with staying on the sidelines!" Allison cried before laughing.

Scott laughed with her before giving Allison one last kiss and opening the car door. "I'll see you soon."

Now, sitting in Lydia's car with Ethan practically breathin down his neck, Scott restrained himself to sending Allison a simple text. "<3"

Wen they arrived at the bowling alley, Scott's dad was already there, his cruiser blocking the driveway, the lights flashing brightly. The man himself was carrying a small girl away from the building. Lydia parked haphazardly on the side of the road, and Scott was out of the car before it had come to a full stop. He ran forward, calling, "Dad! Dad, you have to get out of here!"

From the direction of the building, Chris Argent called, "They need you inside, Scott." He had a man's arm slung over his shoulder and was helping the man hobble away from the bowling alley. He nodded his head up, and Scott followed his gaze to the roof of the bowlin alley, where Allison was perched, bow in hand. "The three of us have the outside covered. Get in there."

Scott nodded his thanks, waved to his dad, and looked back to make sure Ethan was following. To Scott's surprise, Lydia hurried to keep up behind them as well, losing ground to Scott's and Ethan's supernatural strides. The first thing Scott heard when he pulled open the door was a loud growl and glass shattering.

Inside, a bowling ball was embedded in the mirrored wall behind the snack bar, and Boyd was sprawled out in the entryway. He looked up at Scott, put his hand up, and asked, "Little help?"

Scott helped him up without hesitation, but Ethan rushed past them, heading toward a loud cracking noise. Scott rounded the corner, Boyd and Lydia on his heels, and found Isaac panting and bleeding on top of a craked and splintered set of plastic seats. Cora fought at Derek's side against Kali, who looked about twelve feet tall. She wasn't even recognizable behind her wolf-face, her body completely furred and her clothing long gone.

Kali howled and swiped at Derek, but he rolled and then kicked the side of her knee, making her falter and roar at him. Cora swiped her claws across Kali's side, but she wasn't fast enough to avoid the blow that sent her flying across the room.

Scott waded into the fray, Ethan behind him. Catching Ethan's eye, Scott urged him, "Talk to her! Be her anchor!"

Derek dodged another blow and Scott rushed forward to help him. Behind them, Ethan shouted, "Kali! Kali, listen to me!" Scott caught a glancing blow of Kali's claws when he didn't duck fast enough and while he was picking himself up, he saw that Ethan had climbed up on one of the ball returns. He had a bowling ball in his hands and he chucked it at Kali like it weighed nothing more than a paperweight. Kali screamed and turned toward Ethan.

While she was distracted, Derek took a big swipe at Kali's belly, spraying blood everywhere. Kali screamed again, the sound horrifyingly human coming from something so monstrous. Then she growled and knocked Derek aside with one heavy paw. Scott managed to catch Derek and break his fall, but they both toppled to the ground. Scott looked up in time to see another bowling ball hit Kali, in her shoulder.

She rounded on Ethan again and again he shouted her name. "Kali! It's me, Ethan! Kali, you're not like this! You taught me control!"

Through a snout and sharp teeth, Kali growled, "Ennis!" It sounded like a plea.

"I can't bring him back, Kali!" Ethan said, just a second before she plowed forward and toppled Ethan from his perch. She leapt over the ball return and pressed one of her sharp-clawed feet against his chest.

This time when she spoke, there was nothing disguising the rage in her voice. "Deucalion!"

Scott scrambled to his feet and grabbed the closest bowling ball and threw it at Kali. "Kali! Stop this!"

She spared Scott a quick glance, but renewed her focus on Ethan. "Did you know? Did you know Deucalion killed Ennis?"

Ethan shook his head frantically, his hands circled around Kali's wolf-shaped foot. "No! I didn't know! Come on, Kali. Stop this!"

"Please, stop!" Scott added, edging closer. "You don't have to hurt people. You don't have to be like Deucalion!"

Kali finally turned and faced Scott, baring her teeth at him in some horrifying parody of a smile. "But I am like him," she said, shifting her weight toward the foot pressed to Ethan's chest. Ethan made a choking sound, his hands scrabbling against her foot. "I'm just. Like. Him."

Scott watched in horror as Kali shifted her weight away, like she was gearing up to crush Ethan under her foot. Before she could finish the action, a flaming ball hit the side of Kali's head and she toppled sideways.

Scott looked around for whoever had thrown the ball, thinking it had to have been one of the werewolves working with Lydia. He had no idea where she'd get the chemicals to make a firebomb here at the bowling alley, but she was a genius, so he didn't put it past her. When Scott's eyes landed on Lydia, she wasn't standing next to a werewolf at all.

Lydia stood at the side of the room, her eyes blank with a thousand-yard gaze. Next to her stood a figure wearing a black robe and some sort of ripped-skin mask that looked like something out of a scary movie. The figure drew back its hand and threw another fireball at Kali, knocking her back. She stumbled over the uneven surface between bowling lanes, but didn't fall.

Her lip curling up, Kali snarled, "Darach."

The Darach pushed two hands forward and a shockwave blasted through the entire bowling alley, knocking everyone except the Darach and Lydia off their feet. Scott ended up sliding back and into Isaac, who grabbed Scott around the waist and held him from sliding any further. Boyd held onto a ball return. Ethan barely moved, his prone body below most of the onslaught. Cora stood up, her back braced against the bowling shoe counter. Derek planted his feet and stayed standing, even though Scott couldn't understand how he could possibly be strong enough to pull it off, even if he was the alpha.

Scott didn't stop himself from grabbing Isaac's hand and squeezing it, though he did keep his eyes on the scene in front of him. Isaac's heartbeat gave a satisfying stutter as he squeezed Scott's hand back and then let go as the Darach's spell ended. He and Scott helped each other to their feet and Scott smiled when he realized they were moving toward the Darach in tandem.

Ethan's cry of, "No!" drew Scott's attention away from the Darach to where Derek had Kali's throat in one hand and his other hand up, ready to strike with his claws. Ethan threw himself at Derek before Derek could complete the motion.

"Don't kill her!" Scott cried back at Boyd, who jumped on Kali once Derek was out of the way. Cora scrambled past Scott, toward Boyd. "Don't kill her!"

Boyd paused, meeting Scott's eyes, and nodded. He drew back his fist, but Kali gathered her senses and pushed Boyd away before he could strike.

Scott turned around just in time to see Isaac hit directly in the chest with a fireball. He landed on his back with a pained yell, batting at the flames on his shirt.

Scott wanted to go stop the Darach. He really did. He wanted to keep Derek from killing Kali unless it was absolutely necessary. But all Scott could make himself do was rush to Isaac's side and help him roll over to put out the flames. "You okay?"

"A little well-done," Isaac breathed, giving Scott a weary smile, "but okay."

Across the room, Cora and Boyd fought Ethan and Derek chased after Kali, who ran full speed toward the Darach. Scott chased after them, determined to put the fighting to the end, but he just ended up being thrown toward the arcade when the Darach threw its next spell – this time a giant wave of water.

Scott sat up, spluttering, to see Kali back in human form, Derek holding her on her knees while the Darach forced a gush of water down her throat. Kali struggled, but it was no use. The Darach was drowning her! "Derek, don't!" Scott called. "Don't kill her!"

Scott got up to go help, but a hand wrapped around his and held him back. Scott guessed it was Isaac, holding Scott back out of some lingering loyalty to Derek, even though Derek and the evil Darach were obviously working together. But it was Scott's brother, instead.

Ms. Blake holding tightly to his other hand, Stiles asked Scott, "Trust me?"

Scott nodded without having to think.

~*~

When Deaton told Stiles to go home, he left the veterinarian's office, pulling Ms. Blake along with him. As soon as they were outside the building and in Ms. Blake's car, Stiles insisted, "We're not going home."

Ms. Blake's expression morphed rapidly from confused, to disbelieving, to pissed off. "No! We can't go after them! You heard what that man said! We'd just get in the way."

Stiles turned in his seat to face Ms. Blake straight on. "Look, there's a chance – a small chance – that we're not as useless as everyone thinks we are. That monster almost killed my family today, Ms. Blake. My family! And I couldn't protect them. I can't do this without you."

God, he sounded pathetic.

Ms. Blake chewed on the edge of her lower lip, a gesture that barely registered with Stiles, and wasn't that a good indication of his current mental status? "This is going to be dangerous, isn't it?"

"Oh, yeah," Stiles replied with a grin.

"I'm going to regret this, aren't I?" Ms. Blake's brow furrowed as she turned away and put her hands firmly on the steering wheel.

"Oh, yeah."

Stiles could practically see the gears turning in Ms. Blake's head. It only took a moment of silence, in which Stiles held his breath, anticipating her response, before Ms. Blake nodded sharply. "Okay. Okay, let's do this." As she started the engine, Ms. Blake said in a softer voice, "Oh, god. I'm gonna get one of my students killed. I'm so fired."

Stiles couldn't not respond by saying, "If it makes you feel any better, you're, like, the best English teacher I've ever had."

"Nope. That makes me feel worse," she replied, turning to look as she backed out of the parking space. "Try not to die, okay?"

The serious, almost pleading tone in Ms. Blake's voice sobered Stiles' mood. "Yeah," he agreed, facing forward and scratching his knee with one hand. "Yeah, you too."

A quick text to Allison told Stiles that the fight was happening at the bowling alley, so Stiles told Ms. Blake to drive that way. When they approached, a Sheriff's cruiser was blocking the parking lot entrance, the lights flashing bright red and blue. Ms. Blake slowed down and said, "I don't know…"

"Dude, that's my dad's car," Stiles told her. "It'll be fine. I promise. But if we're gonna help, we gotta get in there."

Ms. Blake pulled over and Stiles jumped out of the car, hurrying around it to urge Ms. Blake out of her seat. "Come on!"

Ms. Blake took Stiles' hand and let him help her out of the car and start pulling her toward the bowling alley. Stiles' shin still hurt like hell, but every step got easier as long as he ignored it completely.

When they got closer, Ms. Blake pulled back on Stiles' hand. "Something doesn't feel right," she said, her eyes wide.

Frustrated, Stiles replied, "No shit. There's a bunch of werewolves fighting each other. It's always bad news."

Ms. Blake shook her head, but she let Stiles pull her into a run toward the building. Stiles caught sight of Allison on the roof of the bowling alley and he waved up at her. She waved back and called, "Be careful. I heard an explosion a minute ago!"

Stiles expected Ms. Blake to pull back at Allison's news, but she pulled Stiles forward instead. Stiles followed her into the building just in time to see Scott hit by a wave of water. Stiles pushed away the urge to wonder where the water had come from and pushed forward.

In the center of the bowling alley, standing in one of the lanes (which Stiles found impressive because he'd walked out on those lanes at a birthday party and they were slippery as fuck), Derek held Kali down while water from thin air poured into her nose and throat. Stiles spotted a figure across the room standing next to Lydia. It was wearing this really gross mask and had its arms up, hands out. Oh, it must be the Darach making that water appear out of thin air.

Stiles figured everything was at least sort of cool, because Kali didn't look like she was going anywhere, but then Scott sat up and begged Derek not to kill her. Shit. The Darach had killed more people than Kali, hadn't it? It was the threat, not Kali. And Derek was working with it. Lydia, too, more likely than not.

Stiles tugged Ms. Blake forward so he could grab Scott's hand. Deaton had said he needed a Medium and a werewolf to make this Druid-power thing happen. He had Ms. Blake in one hand and Scott in the other. Yeah, this would work.

When Scott turned, his eyes widening when he saw Stiles, Stiles knew there wasn't time for argument. If they were gonna save Kali and stop the Darach, Stiles needed Scott's cooperation ASAP. So Stiles called on the Holy Grail of familial obligation and asked, "Trust me?"

The way Scott didn't even hesitate before nodding was gratifying to no end.

Stiles pulled Scott closer and brought Ms. Blake in as well. "Okay. We all have to imagine the same thing, I think. Let's go with the Darach getting knocked out."

"Darach's the one with the Halloween mask?" Ms. Blake asked.

Stiles and Scott both nodded.

"And how, exactly, are we knocking out this guy?" Ms. Blake asked, scrunching up one side of her face. "Like, an imaginary fist? Or this Darach thing falls asleep?"

"Giant imaginary fist," Stiles decided, focusing his attention on the Darach. "Just imagine it happening."

Stiles brought to mind every cartoon and video game he'd ever seen, and imagined with all his might a big, gnarly fist clobbering the Darach. Ms. Blake's hand in his grew warmer and Stiles was able to pull from her a tingly feeling that crawled up his arm. Scott's side felt weaker, thready, so Stiles told him, "Think Starfox, dude. Final battle."

Scott nodded, the muscles in his jaw jumping as he clenched his teeth together. Suddenly, the tingly feeling from Scott grew even stronger than the one from Ms. Blake. Keeping the image firmly in his mind, Stiles thought, Now!, and the Darach staggered. The water drowning Kali stopped and Derek let her slip to the floor as he rounded on Stiles and the others.

The Darach cried out, it's voice harsh and painful. Beside Stiles, Ms. Blake faltered, and Stiles felt his connection with her weakening. Then Ms. Blake shook her head and whispered, "No." When she said it again louder, "No!" Stiles felt his connection with her lock into place. A shiver ran down Stiles' spine and his blood thundered loudly in his ears, this incredible warmth flowing through him and back out toward her, and a little toward Scott.

Ms. Blake opened her eyes and they looked clouded over, which Stiles found more than a little freaky. "Ms. Blake?" he said, but she didn't seem to hear him.

On Stiles' other side, Scott was focused on Isaac and Boyd, who were trying to stop Derek from getting to Scott, Stiles, and Ms. Blake.

And then Stiles felt Ms. Blake pull on their connection, drawing hot-like-fire power from Scott and across Stiles. Ms. Blake shouted, "Let them go!" and it felt like the whole room exhaled.

The Darach staggered again, Lydia slumped to the floor, and Kali gasped and spluttered. When Stiles turned his head, he saw Derek take a hit from Boyd and go down, hitting his head on one of the bowling ball returns.

Scott tried to pull away, but Stiles gripped his brother's hand as hard as he could. The Darach might have taken a hit, but it wasn't down yet.

Cora surprised Stiles by bounding across the bowling lanes until she reached Kali and dragging the coughing werewolf closer to Stiles and on the solid, carpeted ground. Stiles tried to catch her eye, to see how she was doing, but she didn't spare him a glance. Instead, her eyes were on the Darach.

Sure enough, the evil Druid picked itself up and jumped around Lydia, heading for the space behind the pin setting machines. It paused once to throw a fireball directly at Stiles, but Stiles felt how he, Scott, and Ms. Blake all deflected it in unison.

"It's getting away!" Isaac cried, leaving Boyd with Derek and sprinting toward where the Darach had disappeared. There was nothing Stiles could do to stop Scott from breaking their connection and following. Cora ran after as well, leaving Kali alone and not too far from Stiles and Ms. Blake.

And for some reason, Stiles and Ms. Blake were hugging very tightly. "That was so scary," she breathed against Stiles' neck.

Stiles bit his lip and nodded. Then he noticed Lydia sitting up, one hand to her head. "Come on," he said to Ms. Blake, thinking he should probably stop holding his English teacher's hand, but he couldn't quite make his muscles cooperate.

They got to Lydia as she was getting to her feet. "What happened?" she asked, her eyes lighting on Boyd and Derek, then Kali, and then Stiles and Ms. Blake's clasped hands.

With no small amount of noise, Kali scrambled to her feet and ran from the building, much more human-looking than she'd been a few hours previously. Calling over to Boyd, Stiles asked, "Are we letting her go?"

Boyd shrugged and then turned back to Derek, giving him a helping hand onto his feet. When Ms Blake saw Derek, who had an impressive amount of blood dripping from one temple, she pulled herself free of Stiles' grip and rushed over to him. It felt kind of like she'd taken a piece of Stiles with her as the bond between them stretched and broke.

"Hello?" Lydia gave Stiles a very insistent poke on the shoulder.

"What? Yeah," Stiles said, turning away from Ms. Blake and toward Lydia. "Sorry. You okay?"

"Wanna fill me in on what just happened?" She asked, rubbing the side of her head. If anyone else had performed the same move, they would have messed up their hair. Lydia's remained perfect.

Stiles filled Lydia in on the events as he knew them, and a minute later, Scott and Isaac came back, empty handed. "What happened?"

Scott sighed heavily and shrugged. "We lost it."

A bright flare of fear flared through Stiles. "Where's Cora?"

Scott looked at Isaac, who shook his head and said, "Didn't see her."

"Shit." Stiles left Lydia with Scott and Isaac and ran back into the building. His leg felt like it was splintering on every step, but finding Cora was more important than enduring a little pain.

He hurried through the darkened space, trying not to breathe so loudly and trying not to see figures that weren't there in the exposed machinery of the pinsetters. Figuring the Darach had to have killed Cora and stashed her body, Stiles looked everywhere he figured a body could be hidden. And he was addicted to morbid crime stories, so Stiles could think of a lot of places to hide a body.

A bang echoed through the space and the light became more orange, like the streetlights out in the parking lot. Stiles half-hid behind one of the machines, but he peered as best he could through the dark toward the open exit door at the end of the room. There were two figures there, arguing softly. Stiles couldn't quite hear what they were saying, so he tried to move closer, but he must have made a noise. One of the figures turned toward him, and the light hit her face so Stiles could see it was Cora. Healthy as a horse. Or a wolf, whatever.

Cora shooed the other figure away, roared and slammed the door shut. She ran back toward Stiles, so he stepped out from behind the machine far before she got there and affected a pant, like he'd been running. "There you are! Did you find it?"

"No," Cora said, her fangs retreating. "She got away. C'mon, let's get back to the others." Cora took Stiles' elbow and led him back the way he'd come.

Stiles let himself limp again, mostly to slow them down and give himself a chance to think. Cora had been speaking to someone, and she'd put on a play instead of letting Stiles know who it was. She'd also called that someone, "she."

As the realization settled over Stiles, he felt his stomach drop and twist into knots. Cora knew who the Darach was. Cora was probably working with the Darach!

Cora could have been involved in the deaths of a lot of innocent people! If the Darach had been in what happened at the motel, Cora could have been involved in Scott and Boyd's deaths! What was going on?

Cora pulled Stiles’ arm over her shoulders, taking some of the weight off of his injured leg, smiling at him. Stiles tried to smile back, but he was pretty sure he wasn’t being very convincing. He’d had so much practice in the last year getting his face to do what he wanted it to so that Dad and Mima wouldn’t find out about Scott, but Stiles still didn’t feel very convincing.

Then Cora leaned closer and said in a low voice, “That was some pretty fancy stuff you pulled back there.”

It took Stiles a moment of sheer panic before he realized she was talking about working those spells (or whatever the hell he was supposed to call them) with Scott and Ms. Blake, and not spying on her little argument with the Darach. Bile rose in the back of Stiles’ throat and he felt like he was going to be sick. Swallowing, he said, “Yeah, well, I couldn’t let you guys take all the credit.”

Cora laughed.

She was working with a murderer, and Stiles was making her laugh, like a boyfriend should.

Stiles was really starting to rethink the plan he’d recently made for his first real sexual encounter.