They make it into an alley between houses and Stiles slides down the wall, hand pressed to his ribs as he mutters out a low curse.
He doesn’t worry much about the blood, or how bad the wound is, since he’s pretty sure his dad’s going to kill him anyway when he gets home for letting their mark get away.
They're after the last one of a group of Echidnas that have been preying on the townspeople for the last couple of months. The task to take her out got passed to Stiles and Allison since she was masquerading as a high school student.
He looks across the gap at where Allison is leaning on the side of the garage, her dark hair messy from the tussle, teeth gritted as she wraps the scratch on her arm.
Dad won’t kill her, at least. Mustn’t pick off the future leader of the family after all.
“You should bind that,” Liam mutters.
“I should bind your face,” Stiles snaps back quietly. “What the hell were you thinking?”
Liam scowls and starts digging through his cargo pockets, producing an ace bandage, alcohol wipes, and a gauze pad like magic. “I was trying to help.”
“And we appreciate that,” Allison tells their little brother, “but you were supposed to be at home tonight. Dad told you to stay in.”
“And if I was still at home, Stiles would be a chew toy right now,” Liam informs them, yanking at the hem of Stiles’ shirt.
“Ugh.” Stiles sits straight and pulls the fabric up. He glances back out to the street to check their cover, only flinching a little as Liam cleans the scratches and starts to wrap the bandage around him. “She wasn’t going to eat me.”
“Only because you’re not a virgin,” Allison almost sings.
Stiles shoots her a glare as Liam teases, “Ooohhh.”
“As if you can talk, Ally Cat.” Liam makes another noise. Stiles orders, “Shut up.”
“Oh, what, you two can tease me but I can’t tease you?” Liam gripes.
“Shut up,” Stiles repeats lowly and leans forward a little, peering into the street where he saw movement a second ago.
The Echidna walks along the road, leaning on the arm of one of the guys that Stiles remembers from the party. The guys eyes are glassy and he's smiling sloppily at the "girl" on his arm.
“What now?” Allison asks.
The original plan was that one of them would draw the Echidna to them, getting her to leave with them so they could kill her in a secluded location.
Everything was going swimmingly until the Echidna panicked for some reason, nails digging into Stiles’ side as she burst from the kitchen pantry, taking out Allison who was waiting on the other side of the door.
They didn’t realize it was Liam that caused her to flee, of course, until their idiot brother appeared with a startled expression and told them she was gone.
“Follow them,” Stiles finally answers as the two slip into the park. “Make sure she doesn’t eat that guy. Kill her. Don’t get caught.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Liam says, balling up the trash from the bandage and putting it in one of the trash bins looming next to them.
“You’re not coming,” Stiles and Allison chorus.
“Aw, what? I can totally help!” Liam protests.
“You reek like a Hunter. I can smell the vervain and mandrake from here.” Stiles stands and dusts off his jeans, checking that his knife is still at the small of his back.
“You left your stash at home. I was trying to make sure you had what you’d need in case we needed to drug her.”
“Wouldn’t’ve had to drug her if you’d stayed home,” Stiles snarls.
“Okay, break it up,” Allison says in her Leader Voice, standing too. “Stiles is right, you shouldn’t be here.” She holds her hand up when Liam opens his mouth to protest. “But you’re here now, so let’s just make the best of it. More back up isn’t a bad thing.”
Liam sticks his tongue out at Stiles and Stiles flips him off.
“You can be our lookout,” Allison finishes with a smile.
Stiles is the one to stick his tongue out this time.
Allison rolls her eyes then jerks her head, slipping out from their hiding place and trotting toward the park entrance. Liam and Stiles shove each other before Liam slips back and Stiles moves to catch up to Allison.
When they get home, hours later and smelling strongly of campfire, their Dad is sitting at the kitchen table, cleaning his 9 mm.
He runs his blue eyes over all of them, pausing on Liam who drops his gaze to his muddy shoes. “So," he asks in a light tone, "how was your party?”
“Good,” Stiles answers, going to the fridge and grabbing a bottled water. He tosses another to Allison who catches it out of the air.
“They ended up moving to the park and having a bonfire,” Allison says after taking a deep gulp of her drink.
“I imagine that didn’t go well.” Their dad finishes cleaning and starts reassembling the gun.
“The cops showed up and told everyone to leave.” Stiles shrugs. “No one got arrested, though one kid had to go to the hospital.”
“Yeah,” Allison shrugs too, “he drank too much and fell. Hit his head on one of the park benches. But the EMTs said he’d be fine.”
Their dad finishes what he’s doing and smiles at them. “Well, I’m glad you guys had fun, at least.”
“Yeah, I’m gonna hit the hay though.” Stiles yawns, honestly tired. “Long night.”
“Me too.” Allison goes and kisses their dad’s cheek. “Night, Dad.”
Stiles and Allison move to head upstairs, Liam trailing after them but their dad calls out, “Liam. Could I talk to you for a minute?”
The twins grin at Liam. Stiles mouths, “Busted.”
Liam flips him off and squares his shoulders, going back into the kitchen to face the music.
Allison pushes past Stiles and into the bathroom, grinning at him as she shuts the door in his face.
“You suck, Ally,” he calls through the door.
A minute later, a wet washcloth flies out and hits him in the face. “You’ve got blood on your elbow.” The door shuts again.
Stiles wipes his elbow and waits, grumbling to himself until Allison emerges in her bathrobe. “Saved you some hot water,” she says sweetly before traipsing off to her room.
“Love you too,” he calls.
He showers, cursing when the water hits his side. After scrubbing the blood from under a couple of his fingernails, he scrubs everything else, getting rid of the fire smell.
When he’s through, he redresses the wound, stumbles to his room, and face plants onto his bed. He’s out like a light three seconds later.
Stiles’ first memory is Allison’s face.
He remembers reaching up and patting his hand on her cheek, staring into her eyes. He remembers her touching his face back, right before she poked him in the eye.
Stiles has a good memory.
It’s a good thing, too, since he’s supposed to be the one who keeps track of important events. Allison is being groomed to take over the family business of hunting bad creatures and keeping the peace between the human world and the coexisting supernatural one. He’s supposed to be her Right Hand, her adviser and confidante.
It also sometimes sucks to have such a good memory.
He’s not sure how much Allison recalls – more than Liam, probably since he was only four – but he remembers every detail of their mother’s funeral, even though they were only seven.
He remembers how it looked like it would rain all day but it never did. He remembers how their dad looked washed out in his black suit, how Allison’s dress was stiff against his fingers, how Liam’s nose had run the whole time and how he’d turned his blue eyes up to Stiles and asked, “When is Mommy coming back?”
Stiles remembers everything.
He also remembers learning about Hunting after Mom died. How he’d been put through rigorous physical training and his head had been stuffed full of knowledge.
He remembers the first time he’d been sat in front of Mom’s garden and told to identify all the plants and their purposes, how his hands had shaken as he pointed each one out.
He remembers, at a younger age, being told not to touch the garden unless Mom was there.
But she was gone.
He remembers realizing that Aunt Kate never liked him as much as she liked Allison. She barely even looked at Liam. And when she’d bothered to give either of them any attention, her eyes were cold and loveless.
He remembers how angry she looked when she'd try to hug Allison but his twin shook her off and went to him or Liam.
He remembers being taught the Code: Nous chassons ceux qui nous chassent.
We hunt those who hunt us.
He reads the journals of his ancestors, flipping through the bestiary and reading their notes about their hunts, what works most effectively against certain creatures.
He remembers every single painful lesson, specifically being taught that just because you’re in your own home doesn’t mean you’re safe.
When they were thirteen, he and Allison spent almost three months staging attacks on each other at their dad’s direction, always making sure that they stayed on their toes.
Constant mindfulness is ingrained in him now – though some may call it paranoia or hyper-awareness – and it’s saved his ass more than a few times.
He knows that everything he’s been taught is to keep him and his loved ones safe so that they can, in turn, keep innocent people safe too.
When someone grabs him the morning after the Echidna fiasco, he instantly snaps awake, grabbing the person’s wrist and flipping them over on the bed. His comforter becomes a weapon, securing the person’s arms as he puts a knee on their hip and a hand at their throat.
When he actually looks at his attacker, he starts laughing so hard he falls off the bed.
Liam pops up and scowls down at him. “Well, I’m glad you think this is funny.”
Stiles waves his hand at his brother, unable to stop laughing at the shocked expression he’d seen.
“I’m grounded, you know,” Liam informs him which just makes him laugh harder. “Ugh, you are the worst.”
Stiles sits up on his elbow, wiping the tears from his eyes. “You’re the hand-to-hand expert, genius. Why didn’t you pull a counter move and stop me?”
“I didn’t think you’d flip out on me!” Liam protests.
“Don’t you remember last year?” Stiles asks.
It had been great. He and Allison had pulled the same thing on Liam that they had on each other: full on home warfare. Booby traps and pranks galore, all approved by their dad first, but still.
“I remember it very clearly,” Liam grumbles, shimmying free from Stiles’ comforter and throwing it over Stiles. “I put all the herbs back in your stash. And we have to leave for school in a half hour.”
Stiles drops flat onto the carpet and groans. “Ah yes, school. Exactly what I want to be doing today.”
“Education waits for no man,” Allison calls from the hallway.
"I updated the journal so you don't have to," she calls back.
Stiles hums. "I love you!"
Stiles pulls himself to his feet to get ready. Thankfully the school year is almost over. Then maybe he can get some rest.
He should know better by now.
As soon as school is over, their dad has everything packed in a moving van again and they’re heading out for Montana.
“What do you think we’re getting into this time?” Stiles asks Allison as he backs the Jeep out of the driveway.
She snorts, the connection of the call making the sound even more derisive, and says, “Who cares? I’m just ready to leave this shit hole behind.”
Stiles wisely doesn’t comment that it’s probably because the girl she’d been seeing decided to dump Allison first, the day after they’d killed the Echidna.
“Truth. Talk to you at the rest stop.”
Allison hangs up without replying as their dad backs the moving van into the street. Once Allison pulls out in the SUV, they all start the caravan to their new destination.
Liam looks over from the passenger seat. “Taking Back Sunday Pandora?”
Stiles nods and puts on his sunglasses. “Absolutely.”
Liam plugs in the aux cord, pulls up the app on his phone, and rolls down the window.
They both shout as the song starts, “Your lipstick, his collar, don’t bother angel, I know exactly what goes on!”
A couple weeks later, Stiles, Allison, and Liam are sitting at the table in the living room. They’re playing the last round of Golf, cards stuck to their foreheads and making faces at each other while their dad is on the phone.
“Place your bets,” Allison demands, pen poised above the score sheet.
Stiles stares hard at their cards once more. “One.”
Liam narrows his eyes and echoes, “One.”
“Oh ho! Well this is going to end badly for two of us.” Allison smiles and says, “One.”
Before they can pull the cards down, their dad pokes his head into the room. “Hey.”
The three of them turn to look at him. The corner of his mouth twitches, probably amused at what they look like at the moment, and he says, “We’re moving next week. Finish up and start the packing prep.”
They all nod, used to this by now.
Liam asks, “Where are we going?”
“California,” their dad answers then pops back into the hallway. They hear nothing for a moment then, “John? How are you?” A pause. “Well, I’ve got good news. I got transferred again.” A laugh. “Yep, you guessed it. Heading your way. You ready for us?”
The sounds of their dad talking to his best friend fades as he moves down the hall.
The three of them look at each other, shrug, then pull the cards off their foreheads.
“Aw yeah!” Stiles throws his arms up. “Boo yah!”
Allison rolls her eyes. “I won the game over all. I don’t know why you’re celebrating.”
Liam raises his eyebrows and says, “Well I won the bet for when we’d move next. Two months. Pay up.” He holds out his hands and the twins grumble, Stiles digging out his wallet while Allison leans over to grab her purse. They both slap ten dollars into Liam’s palm. “Thank you very much.”
“So, California.” Stiles leans back against the couch. “Think it’ll be somewhere with a beach?”
“We’re not that lucky,” Allison reminds him. “Besides, you know John lives in Northern California.”
“I don’t really remember him,” Liam says. “Is he the one that Dad went to school with?”
“No, he’s Stiles’ godfather.” Allison leans over to put her wallet back in her purse. She fully reclines on the floor as she adds, “He’s the one who introduced Dad to Mom.”
“Oh.” Liam starts cleaning up the cards. “The guy from the security company?”
“Yeah. He’s a cop now, Sheriff over them there parts,” Stiles drawls and stands, stretching his arms over his head. “What’s the town that he lives in now? Bennington? Bakersfield? I should know it since I filled out the last post card we sent him but my brain is fried.”
“Beacon Hills,” their dad supplies as he walks by on the way to the kitchen, jacket over his arm, a frown on his face that could mean many things.
Liam notices their dad’s frown too. “Wonder what the deal is there.” He shoves the cards into the drawer under the table.
“Doesn’t matter. We’ll take care of it.” Allison grins, flipping herself to her feet.
“Damn right, Sister.” Stiles high-fives her. “Beacon Hills, here we come.”