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The Three Little Hunters

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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.”

“Oh?”

“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.”

“Good night.”

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.

“Shut up!”

"I updated the journal so you don't have to," she calls back.

Stiles hums. "I love you!"

"Yeah, yeah."

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.”

Chapter Text

A new family moves into Beacon Hills two days before the school year is set to start, in the house next door to Lydia’s.

Derek is known to be more than a bit paranoid, so he waits, intending to get an up close look at these newcomers since they’re in his territory and are going to be living next door to one of his pack.

He growls under his breath when he sees a non-descript black SUV pull into the driveway of the newly purchased home.

It’s a blatant Hunter vehicle and it raises his hackles to see it.

Scott, his Second, sits next to him on the window seat in the rec room and watches curiously as the moving truck pulls in next to the SUV. Both vehicles stand for a moment before a pale blue Jeep rolls up in between the SUV and the truck and all the engines cut off.

Lydia walks up and stands behind them, sipping her coffee. They all stay silent, waiting.

The door of the moving truck opens first and, sure as shit, that’s Chris Argent exiting the vehicle. His blue eyes are as cold as ever as he surveys the front of the house and gives a cursory glance around the neighborhood. His eyes don’t go anywhere near Lydia’s window but all the same, Derek is glad for the dark room camouflaging their spying.

He feels like he might throw up.

The passenger door of the SUV opens and a kid gets out.

He’s probably around Mason and Hayden’s age, if Derek had to guess, and he looks around much the same that Chris did, though his face clearly shows his seeming displeasure at what he sees. His eyes are as blue as Chris’ and he sighs, rubbing his blond hair before grabbing a bag from the SUV and starting toward the front door.

The driver side door of the SUV opens and a slim, laughing girl tosses a curtain of dark curly hair over her shoulder and slips to the ground, slamming the door and calling at the Jeep, “I get the biggest room this time!”

The door to the Jeep opens and a similar looking guy jumps out, running in front of the girl with a shout of, “Oldest gets the biggest, dork!”

“Psh, whatever, nerd. Four minutes’ difference!” the girl taunts back and the two scuffle a little, playfully like pups, and enter the house behind Chris and the other boy, the front door slamming behind them.

After a few moments of silence, Lydia murmurs, “Dibs on the girl.”

Before Derek can admonish her, Scott mutters, “No fair.”

Derek rolls his eyes.

“You’ve already got Kira. Leave some pretty girls for the rest of us.” Lydia gently pushes his forehead and turns to Derek. “So, what do you think?”

“I think…” he glances over at where he can now see the two brown-haired siblings playing Rock, Paper, Scissors in what must be the biggest room, “that I was not prepared for that. I didn’t know Chris had kids.”

Not that he really knew much about Chris Argent back then anyway. Just that he stood impassively by while Laura held Derek and Cora in the underbrush and they all watched the Hale house burn.

Maybe the youngest kid is his and the other two are just Hunters undercover as his kids, though they’re definitely siblings, they look so alike. The same dark hair, both lean and leggy.

“They look like a regular family,” Scott observes, looking over too. “No mom though,” he mumbles, almost to himself, and Derek hums.

“They’re likely here because of the missing kids,” Lydia deduces, eyes running along the windows of the house.

“We handled that,” Scott says with a shake of his head.

“One got away,” Derek reminds them, looking back at the epic battle going on next door.

The guy wins, if his shout of joy and raised arms are anything to go by. The girl’s eyes narrow and she sweeps the guy’s legs out from under him in an effortless move.

The guy doesn’t fall, instead he drops into a roll and runs at the girl, lifting her onto his shoulder and swatting her on the rear end before running from the room shouting, “Li! Come get the room by the bathroom before Ally steals it!”

Lydia snorts. “Yeah, they’re totally normal.” She walks away like she doesn’t care anymore, though Derek hears her say the girl’s name under her breath.

“Stay away from them.” Derek gives Scott a firm look. “Hunters are dangerous, particularly those Hunters, even if they’re our age.”

Scott holds up his hands. “You don’t have to tell me to be safe, dude. I remember what you told us about the Argents.” He jerks his thumb at where Lydia’s just disappeared. “What about her, though?”

Derek rolls his eyes again. “I can tell her whatever I want but we both know she’ll only listen to me if she wants to.”

“True.” Scott glances over at the house again before he gets up. “Wanna play Super Smash Brothers?”

“Sure.”

Derek glances back one more time, too. He sees the guy, the one who hasn’t been named yet, looking around the neighborhood with a slight smile.

The guy rubs his mouth and shakes his head in clear amusement at something before helping the younger kid pull a box spring from the back of the truck.

Derek sighs and tries to pay attention to the game and not imagine all the bullshit he’s likely going to have to deal with soon. After trouncing Scott in Smash Brothers, he glances over and sees that the SUV and the blue Jeep are both missing from the driveway next door.

He growls under his breath and heads home, sure that the headlights of a Hunter SUV will be coming up on his tail at any moment.

-----

On a whim, Derek swings by the ruins of the old house on his way home from the vet clinic after talking to Deaton on Wednesday evening.

Parking the Camaro a little ways off the road, he passes quietly through the woods and watches the house for almost an hour before he makes his way toward it.

Derek wrinkles his nose and moves carefully around the property, checking it out. The smell of wolfsbane and gun oil almost permeates the air in front of the house. He doesn’t find anything outside but that just makes him that much more tense.

Clenching his hands, he carefully makes his way inside.

It’s hard to tell if anything’s been disturbed or taken but it smells like Hunter in here too, over the ever-present charcoal stench.

He gives up looking for anything, wondering why they can’t just leave him and the leftovers of his family home alone.

Closing the front door, he rubs his scent along the doorframe and sighs at the soot on his palms.

He knows the Hunters can’t smell things the way he can, but it still settles something in him to make the place smell less like them and more like him.

As he drives to his apartment, the tiny thought pops up again that maybe he should just have the house torn down, now that he’s eighteen and inherited the property. He’s been holding off though, since he knows it’ll break something in Cora, and maybe himself, to see it gone completely.

So many things to worry about and too little time to do anything about them.

Trying to brush it off and put on a good face for everyone, he makes himself smile as he walks into the loft and finds Cora and Isaac on the couch.

They’re both watching some movie with the wide-eyed attention of the hypnotized and merely grunt greetings at him so Derek drops his fake smile and moves into the kitchen to grab a drink. Just as he twists off the lid and raises the bottle of water, his phone goes off with Scott’s ringtone.

He pulls his phone out of his pocket and opens the text, almost dropping his phone when he sees the message.

From Scott:

Lydia’s new neighbors are at my house having dinner

Glancing over at Cora and Isaac, he decides to let them enjoy their date night and calls, “I’ll be back soon.”

They grunt at him again and he leaves calmly, getting to the stairs before he picks up the pace and leaps down them, practically flying to his car, and peeling out towards Scott’s house.

Chapter Text

Stiles wakes up the day after moving in and stares at the ceiling of his room, muzzily thinking he should do something with the blank space before rolling onto the floor and making himself go through exercise drills, even though he doesn’t want to.

When he’s done, arms trembling and sweat beading at his temples and along his back, he cleans his guns. His guns are his babies, the way Allison’s bows are hers and Liam’s knives are his, and he places them around the room where he can get to them pretty easily.

Afterwards, he showers quickly, thankful that the only one in the house that’s an early riser is his dad, and makes himself a quick breakfast. Grabbing his plate, he heads back to his room to study the Bestiary.

Their dad has one copy, the Argent Family Copy that’s nice and has a pretty cover and solid page bindings with an un-cracked spine. It sits in the library and is never touched, unless it’s time for the yearly rebinding where all new information is added and they get an even prettier copy than before.

Stiles and his siblings share another copy, passing it back and forth between them. The corners of their book are bent and the pages have bits of things that all of them have accidentally gotten on the book: chocolate, coffee, different colors of sticky notes. They get the old “nice” copy and then usually immediately destroy it in some way.

He studies for a bit, takes a break to unpack a couple of boxes, reads up on local news to get a lay of the land, decorates a little, tries to do handstands, fails, and nurses his sore elbow at his desk while reading the Bestiary again.

A while later, Allison comes into his room while he’s reading about Kanimas and flops face down onto his bed with a tired groan.

“Enjoying your leadership lessons?” Stiles asks without looking up from the, frankly, terrifying illustration he’s studying.

She gives another groan and Stiles sees her flail a little from the corner of his eye. He laughs and sticks a piece of paper in the pages to save his place before shutting the book and dropping it on the desk with a thud.

Allison picks her head up at the sound, glaring at his comfy gym shorts, tank top, and bare feet. “You’re lucky you’re not gonna be the leader.” She rolls over and squints at the ceiling. “Did you put glowy stars up here?”

“Yeah.” He goes over to the bed, flopping down beside her to look at the plastic stars. “I tried to do constellations but I could only do a couple before I ran out.”

She hums and they fall into an easy silence. Stiles traces the line of the Hunter constellation with his eyes.

“I don’t want to move anymore,” Allison says after a bit, shuffling closer to him.

“I know.” Stiles gently knocks his head against hers, catching a whiff of her shampoo from her still-wet hair. “But maybe we’ll actually stay for a while this time.”

“I’d like to manage to play an entire season of a sport for once,” Liam says from the doorway before he comes in and flops down across their legs.

“Apparently, Beacon Hills is very into lacrosse,” Stiles tells his brother, wiggling his legs until Liam grabs them.

“I could do lacrosse,” Liam contemplates. “What else is big here?”

“According to the local news, random animal attacks and mysterious disappearances,” Stiles sighs, rubbing his face. “Guessing that’s why we got moved here.”

“This is Argent territory anyway,” Allison informs them. “According to the territory lines, it’s been in our family for generations. It’s weird that no one’s been here this long.”

“Well the last pack that was here was wiped out so they probably didn’t think it was worth it to station anyone here,” Liam adds.

“There’s got to be a pack here now, though,” Stiles counters. “All the evidence lines up and Dad said that his guy confirmed it.”

“Maybe the pack is stable.”

Stiles and Allison shrug.

“I mean, rogue Alphas are pretty bad and it was calm there for a bit.” Stiles tries to lift his legs but Liam has his limbs pinned with his weight. “Doesn’t explain the most recent attacks though.”

“Seems like a bad town to be a teenager,” Allison considers.

“Yeah,” Liam and Stiles agree.

They’re all still sprawled over each other, like puppies, when their dad pokes his head into the room. He’s used to seeing them in a pile of limbs so he doesn’t bat an eye, just announces, “We’re going to dinner at John’s house tonight. Be ready by six, okay?”

They all give affirmatives and he smiles at them before leaving.

“It might be nice to be around family again,” Liam muses. “Lots of dinners.”

“You are a bottomless pit,” Stiles informs him. “And do you really see John as family? We haven’t even seen him since…” their mom’s funeral “ah, it’s been a while.”

“Yeah,” Allison agrees, “but Dad seems really happy to be near John again. Plus he is your godfather.”

Liam props his chin on his hand. “You’d think you’d be more interested in getting to know the guy that you’re named after.”

“I mean, sure, I’m intrigued, obviously, due to my natural curiosity and vast intellect,” he states, ignoring his siblings’ snickering. “I’ve just got more important stuff to focus on.”

Allison snorts. “Like what, exactly, oh Intelligent One?”

“Kicking your asses at Wii Sports Resort, obviously,” he tells them and bucks Liam off the end of the bed, hopping up to set up the game system.

“Aw yeah, bring iiittt,” Allison sings, pulling her hair up into a messy bun as Liam swings the Wii-mote around his wrist before catching it.

Stiles does win, and is about to deliver the last devastating loss, when their dad hollers from downstairs that they’ve got thirty minutes before they have to leave.

They all scatter and meet up in the foyer, changed and ready for what’s likely to be a painfully awkward dinner with someone who knows them, but that they don’t know.

They ride separately, Dad in the SUV and the rest of them in the Jeep. It’s an old system, one they use just in case someone gets called away so no one gets stranded without a ride.

The house they pull up to is nice, modest and tidy. Stiles knows that if it was anyone else’s house instead of John Stilinski’s, their dad would be quizzing them when they got home on their first impressions and predictions.

Stiles plasters on his Friendly Face when their dad rings the doorbell and the door opens to reveal a smiling older man that looks familiar.

“Chris, glad you could make it!” he greets, turning warm blue eyes on Stiles and his siblings. “Wow, kids, you guys are so grown up!”

They all mutter greetings, nodding along at the usual thing that people say to kids, and John beams proudly at them.

“You are the spitting image of your mom,” he tells both Stiles and Allison. He pats Liam’s shoulder, as if in consolation and says, “Tough luck for you though, kid. You look just like this one.” He jerks his thumb at their dad.

It makes them all smile as their dad rolls his eyes and says, “Hilarious as always, John. Introduce me to your wife so I can tell her how much better she deserves than you, old man.”

“Oh trust me, Chris, she already knows,” he says with a laugh, ushering them inside. “Follow me.”

He walks them along a hallway that leads into a warm kitchen, with a dining room off to the left. “Everyone, this is Melissa.” He smiles as a pretty woman with long, dark curly hair pulls off oven mitts and tosses them on the counter.

“Hello! I’m Melissa. It’s nice to finally meet you all in person. I’ve heard a lot about you and I read your postcards.” She smiles with her hands on her hips. “John, why don’t you show Chris the garage before dinner, otherwise you’re going to be antsy about it the entire time.”

John shots her a look but he’s smiling when he turns to Stiles’ dad and says, “She’s not wrong. You’ve got to see what I did.”

“Please tell me you didn’t try to remodel again, John,” their dad sighs. He gives them all a look and they give tiny nods to show they got the message: behave.

As John and their dad wander off, Melissa turns to them and says, “So, you’re quite a group of travelers.”

Before they can respond, the back door opens and a dark haired teenager comes in, dropping his book bag on the counter and saying in a rush, “Sorry, sorry, I rode home as fast as I could. Sorry I’m late.”

Melissa pats at the guy’s wind-blown hair and says, “It’s fine. You’re actually right on time.” She turns and introduces him. “Everyone, this is my son Scott.”

Scott smiles, ducking from his mother’s patting hand, and turns to them with an easy smile. The second he actually looks at them, though, his expression falters, his eyes flicking over Stiles and his siblings quickly.

Stiles hums softly when Allison shifts slightly and brushes their shoulders together. Liam sticks his hands in his pockets, likely touching the hilts of his knives, though he smiles even brighter than before.

This dinner is sure to be a shit show because John Stilinski’s stepson is a fucking werewolf.

Their dad is gonna be so pissed.

Chapter Text

The evidence is right there against Scott’s skin, more than half of a spiraled tattoo showing, a triskelion. The symbol is straight out of a story that Stiles and his siblings have been told for years, so it’s very familiar to him.

In this region of California, there’s only one pack that uses that particular symbol. Well, they used to use it, before the whole pack was taken out.

But looking at this guy in front of him, likely the same age as Stiles, he has to think that maybe a part of the Hale pack has somehow survived. He wonders how big the pack is now and whether they’re going to cause problems now that Argents have moved into Beacon Hills.

Scott, oblivious to Stiles’ thoughts, forces a smile and says, “Hey, nice to meet you.”

“Scott, this is Stiles, Allison, and Liam Argent. They’re going to be starting school with you in a few days.”

“Oh, cool.”

Stiles gives an easy smile back and Allison dimples.

Melissa tells them dinner is almost done and starts asking about drinks, turning to grab the oven mitts again.

Scott reaches up in a cabinet and starts pulling down glasses, attempting to subtly keep them all in his line of sight.

Liam steps up and breaks the ice, smiling and drawing Melissa into a conversation, distracting Scott too, with his questions about lacrosse.

Stiles and Allison share a look. It’s more than they anticipated, getting a lead this soon after moving into town.

Now, there are two questions: Is Scott actually a werewolf or just a pack member and does John Stilinski know about any of it?

Stiles mumbles, “Dibs.”

Allison frowns at him but rolls her eyes and gives a slight nod, moving to help Liam grab plates and silverware.

Stiles waits until everyone else has left the kitchen and Melissa has poured herself a glass of red wine. He turns too quickly and intentionally stumbles over the threshold, his arm knocking into Melissa’s and sending red wine all over both of them.

“Oh, god, I’m so sorry,” he babbles, holding his shirt away from his body with pinched fingers. “Klutz,” he sighs, gesturing to himself.

Melissa waves it away, her smile wry. “If a little wine is all I get spilled or splashed on me, then it’s a good night.” At his confused look, she points at herself and says, “Nurse.”

“Oh,” he says, then wrinkles his nose, “that’s kind of gross.”

“Oh, it is,” she agrees. She sticks her head into the dining room and beckons, “Scott, can you lend Stiles one of your shirts? We’ve had a little accident.”

“What happened?” his dad asks as he and John round the corner. His eyes flick between Stiles and Melissa and the corner of his mouth quirks.

“Just a small fender bender. Don’t worry, I’m not pressing charges,” Melissa says lightly.

Stiles laughs, strangely taken with her. “I wasn’t going to give you my insurance information anyways.”

She shakes her fist at him, faux-crying, “Kids these days!”

Scott doesn’t laugh like everyone else does, just smiles a little nervously and quickly slips his phone into his pocket. “Follow me.”

Melissa comes up the stairs behind them and passes them as they enter what must be Scott’s room.

The second they’re alone, Scott’s spine goes stiff with tension. Stiles puts his hand on his belt as Scott turns slowly, his eyes flashing gold and a low growl rumbling in his throat.

They stare at each other, both of them waiting to see what the other will do.

Clearly eager to get back to her guests, Melissa passes by the bedroom a minute later and chides without stopping, “Don’t get too caught up in your comics with your new friend, honey. Dinner’s in five.”

The tension breaks as Scott sighs and closes his eyes like he’s fighting the ultimate in parental embarrassment.

Stiles can’t help but huff a laugh, glancing at the bookshelf where said comics are stacked. “Dude,” he says with appreciation, making Scott jump and stare at him again, this time with confusion. “You have The Amazing Spiderman number sixteen?”

Scott nods slowly, his fingers twitching toward the shelf. “Yeah, the one where Daredevil first appears and he’s still got his…”

“Yellow costume,” they finish in unison.

“Holy shit.” Stiles shakes his head, smiling. “Well, I have to say, you’ve got good taste.”

"So, I don't really know what the deal is with you," Scott glances toward the hallway, like he’s worried, "but I know what your family does. Hunters."

Stiles tilts his head, his amused smile falling away. "And I know what you are," he concedes. "Werewolf."

Scott nods and says, "My mom and John don't know anything about it." He glances toward the door again, biting his lip. “So, can we, like, call a truce or something? At least for tonight. I just don't want them to get involved.”

“I'm not gonna start anything if you don't," Stiles tells him. He shrugs, looking around the bedroom that reminds him of his own: clothes strewn everywhere, books stacked up, baseball bat in the corner, desk and computer pushed against the back wall. "I'm just here to eat dinner."

Scott studies him, as if he's trying to hear the lie in Stiles' words. After a moment, he reaches over to a pile of folded laundry and tosses a t-shirt at Stiles. “Here.”

“Thanks.” Stiles slips into the bathroom and changes shirts.

When he comes out, Scott jerks his head toward the door and they head for the dining room where everyone else is already seated. For some reason, before they go in, Stiles reaches out and taps Scott’s shoulder.

Scott turns, eyebrows lifted in curiosity, but he’s tense again, his shoulders tight. “Yeah?”

Stiles isn’t sure why he says it, or if it’s a good idea, but he taps his collarbone and whispers, “You might wanna cover up your pack mark.”

“Oh.” Scott tugs his collar up, hiding the triskelion. He studies Stiles for a moment before murmuring, “Thanks.”

Stiles shrugs in response and goes into the dining room.

“Everything taken care of?” John asks.

“All set,” Stiles tells him as Scott nods.

Allison sends Stiles a look as he sits next to her. She holds her hand out to him under the table and he taps on the back of it, giving her the signal for all clear and later.

Liam raises his eyebrow when Allison passes the message on to him but doesn’t say anything, just digging in and answering John’s questions about his involvement in sports.

Stiles digs in to his food too and manages a smile when Scott turns to ask him who is favorite DC hero is. Stiles feels like maybe he and Scott could actually be friends.

It’s just a shame that one day, he might be looking at Scott down the barrel of a gun.

Chapter Text

Luckily Derek doesn’t get a ticket. He parks his car two streets over from Scott’s house, jumps a couple fences, and creeps around the back where he can see into the dining room.

Looking in, he sees Scott’s mom Melissa smiling and talking animatedly to Chris Argent while John is chatting with Scott and the three teenage Hunters.

Scott is smiling slightly, his shoulders loose and his heart beat calm as he listens to his stepdad talk. He then turns to the brown haired Hunter guy and starts talking about superheroes of all things.

He looks completely at ease and Derek is confused as hell because Scott’s not that good of an actor. He moves to the other side of the house and scales the tree by Scott’s window, perching on the shingles to wait.

Almost an hour and a half later, the front door opens and Derek hears people talking. He creeps over and watches the Hunters take their leave, smiling and calling farewells as they make their way to their cars.

The blond boy and the girl throw Rock, Paper, Scissors at each other and the girl smiles triumphantly as she heads toward the front of the Jeep. The blond rolls his eyes and climbs into the back seat and the two vehicles pull away.

Derek waits a few moments before knocking on the windowsill: four times, pause, three times, pause, four times.

A few minutes later, Scott appears and unlocks his window, shoving it up to let Derek crawl through.

“Sorry,” Scott mutters, “mom must have locked it.”

“It’s fine,” Derek says back. Luckily they don’t have to speak very loudly to each other so they don’t have to worry about Scott’s parents overhearing them. Derek props his hip on the window. “What happened?”

“Dude,” Scott exclaims, dropping into his desk chair. “It was like, totally out of nowhere, I’m working at the clinic and John calls and is like, oh yeah, by the way, I have one of my oldest friends coming over. So I book it home, over here thinking it’s like an old police academy buddy or something, but no!” He gives Derek slightly wild eyes. “I get home and my mom introduces me to the freaking Hunters!”

Derek scowls. “How did John say he knew them?”

“Apparently Chris and John go way back. They worked together like twenty years ago or something.”

Derek paces, thinking. As he walks past Scott’s bathroom, he pauses, catching a whiff of gun oil. “Were they in your room?” he asks.

“Oh, uh, Stiles and my mom ran into each other and wine went everywhere. He borrowed a shirt and changed up here.”

So that’s the other Hunter’s name, Stiles.

“What kind of a name is Stiles?” Derek mutters.

“Ah, apparently it’s a nickname that comes from Stilinski, actually. John is Stiles’ godfather.”

“God, this just keeps getting weirder,” Derek groans, rubbing at his face.

“Tell me about it,” Scott agrees, looking frustrated and confused himself. "I told him I knew what he was, a Hunter, you know, and he told me that he knew what I was, too, but that he wasn't here to do anything but eat dinner. That we had a truce, for tonight."

Derek pinches the bridge of his nose. Scott's ability to trust has been a gift to them on more than one occasion but it's likely to be more of a pain in the ass in this situation.

Just as Derek opens his eyes again, Scott puts his hand over his collarbone, where his pack mark is inked against his tan skin. 

"What's wrong with your pack mark?"

“Nothing. Uh, just, Stiles saw this and told me to be sure to cover it up.”

“A threat,” Derek snaps, his metaphorical hackles rising.

Scott shakes his head, a confused frown pulling at his eyebrows. “No, I think it was to keep his dad from seeing it.”

Derek thinks about that, finding it hard to believe. “Why?” he can’t help but ask aloud.

“I don’t know, man. Guess to keep the truce or something.” Scott shakes his head and adds, “And right after that, his sister and his brother totally relaxed, like they deactivated their War Mode Setting or something.”

“They’ve probably been trained from birth.”

“Like child soldiers?” Scott asks, sympathy pulling at the corners of his mouth.

“Don’t feel bad for them,” Derek tells him. “They’re Hunters.”

“But…” Scott picks at a loose thread on his shorts. “Does that mean that we instantly decide that they’re bad people?”

“You don’t understand, Scott.” Derek shakes his head, trying to control his temper. “I’ve seen a lot of things over the years and the most monstrous thing I’ve ever encountered was a Hunter.”

Before he can spiral too deep, the scent of smoke already tickling his nose, Scott says in his kind, stubborn way, “Maybe they’re not all bad.”

Derek makes a noncommittal sound. “Try your best to stay away from them,” he tells his Second. “I know it’ll be difficult, since John is friends with Chris, but, do the best you can.”

Scott nods, looking tired and a little pensive.

Derek claps him on the shoulder and orders, “Now get some rest. School shopping trip with the pack tomorrow.” After getting a good-natured eye roll, Derek leaves through the window, jogging back to his car.

Scott's verbal agreement with Stiles aside, Derek’s not going to trust anything an Argent says or does. The fact that they seem insistent upon playing at being compassionate means he’ll just have to keep a closer eye on his pack.

And if the Hunters know what’s good for them, they’ll stay far, far away from him and his.

-0-0-0-

When they pull out of the McCall-Stilinski’s driveway, Allison asks lowly, “Verdict?”

“Scott’s definitely a werewolf. Gave me the eyes and the growl when we went upstairs.” Stiles taps his fingers on the steering wheel. “Gold, before you ask, so not the Alpha.”

“There’s no way to know when he was bitten, so I guess it’s possible he’s a fresh turn,” Allison hums. “His control isn’t very good if he flashed his eyes at you.”

“You were in his room and surprised him in his territory. Could have stressed him out,” Liam suggests.

“Does John know? Or Melissa?”

"According to Scott, they don't. He asked me to keep the peace tonight so they wouldn't get involved."

Allison sighs. “But if he was lying and they are involved, that adds another facet."

"And when Dad finds out one of his oldest friends is harboring a werewolf..."

Liam sums the situation up with, “This is really fucking messy.”

“Language,” the twins scold, but it’s halfhearted, both thinking about the implications.

The rest of the drive is silent, each of them thinking their own thoughts.

“Well,” Stiles finally says when they’re almost home, “as long as the pack isn’t doing anything they shouldn’t, then it won’t be an issue. I mean..." Stiles bites his lip, "Scott seems fine. More like a golden retriever than a werewolf.”

“Stiles,” Allison reminds him, “we’re here because kids keep going missing and people keep showing up dead.”

“True,” Liam says, then adds, “but who’s to say that the pack is responsible?”

Stiles nods, snapping his fingers. “And, really, what the hell is the Hale pack doing with new Betas? I thought they were gone.”

“Could be someone imitating the Hale pack?” Allison mutters, tapping her fingers against the armrest. “Though why someone would want to is a mystery to me.”

“Jesus. You were right, Li.” Stiles catches his brother’s eyes in the mirror. “This is fucking messy.”

They get home and disperse, saying their good-nights to their dad before withdrawing to their rooms.

Stiles flops back on his bed and does what he’s good at: thinking and remembering. He mulls over his thoughts, reminding himself to read over the section of the family journal that talks about the Hale pack. He wonders if he can hack into the police files here and tosses a stress ball up in the air over and over again.

Around one in the morning, when Stiles is sure that everyone else is asleep, he eases his bedroom window up and climbs silently out onto the room. He looks up at the sky and shakes his head.

“Waxing crescent,” he grunts, shaking his head.

He pulls a tied bunch of herbs from his pocket and lights it, watching the smoke rise toward the swelling moon. He keeps it burning and catches the ashes in a small metal dish until he can’t anymore, dropping the rest inside a cup of water in his room.

Leaning next to his window, he smudges the ash against the sill, using runes to ward his room from any creatures that seek to do harm to him or his. Then he walks carefully along the roof and does the same to Liam and Allison's windows. He'll have to get their dad's tomorrow.

When he’s done, he pulls his bowl out of his pocket and takes a few hits, taking the edge off his anxiety just a bit.

He wonders what the full moon is like in Beacon Hills and huffs a laugh.

He’s sure it’s interesting, at the very least.

Chapter Text

Stiles wakes up for his first day at Beacon Hills High with a crick in his neck and a bruise from where the Bestiary has been stabbing him in the side all night.

He grumbles, pulling himself from the bed and staggering to the bathroom. Brushing his teeth with his eyes closed, he listens to Allison’s angry mutters and grins when she finally loses her patience and bangs once on the door.

“You have five seconds,” she informs him in a growl that could rival any werewolf.

Chuckling, he spits, rinses his mouth out, and saunters out in a cloud of steam, patting her cheek and cooing, “Good morning, my radiantly beautiful twin.”

Narrow-eyed and grumpy, she stomps past him and slams the door in his face.

He has a skip in his step as he gets ready, sliding into the kitchen just in time to score the last cup of coffee. As he smiles at Liam’s frustrated pout, he sips his cup and thinks that today might actually be a good day.

“Good morning, Stiles,” their dad greets without looking up from the newspaper.

“Morning, Dad,” Stiles chirps, settling at the table and reaching out for the waffles and jam already placed there.

Allison finds her way to the kitchen shortly after, grabs a cup of coffee, and sits next to Stiles. She hooks her foot over his under the table and tells their dad and Liam, “Morning.”

Dad puts down his newspaper and looks them all over. “Now that the three of you are in one place…”

They share a look before chorusing, “Don’t cause trouble. Don’t make yourself a target. Don’t fight,” they all grin, “unless you have to. Then make it quick and make it stick.”

He casts his eyes heavenward, like he’s asking for patience, and the three of them smirk at each other.

“Well, since you all seem to know exactly what I’m going to say, I’ll head out.” Dad pats his pockets before he points at his eyes then at them. “Be good.”

They all squawk at him as he leaves and he’s clearly amused when he calls, “Love you!”

“Love you!”

When the door closes, Stiles turns to his siblings and asks, “Who’s gonna meet the next pack member? Scott doesn’t count, since we all met him at once.”

“Me,” Liam says, clearly still high off his victory in Montana.

“That was a fluke,” Allison tells him. “I’ll be the one winning this time.”

“Naw, I’ve got a feeling,” Stiles insists. “It’ll be me first.”

-----

As it turns out, his intuition is good and he meets the first pack member, other than Scott, in his first period AP Physics class.

“Everyone,” his teacher announces, making Stiles sigh, since he knows he’s got three more periods of this, “we have a new student with us this year.” She glances at the roster and Stiles takes pity on her when she squints at his name then at him.

“Stiles,” he supplies, grinning wryly.

“Oh, okay, Stiles Argent,” she says. “Welcome to Beacon Hills.”

“Thanks,” he says, avoiding the curious eyes of the rest of the class.

The redhead in front of him turns and inspects him, running her gaze from his head to his feet then back again.

He huffs a laugh, raising his eyebrows. “Can I help you?” he asks lowly, unused to being so critically examined, especially by a really pretty girl. Usually the examination is a lot less clinical and a lot more heated.

She gives a derisive snort that manages to be utterly ladylike. “Highly doubtful.” She then turns back around, tossing her wave of red hair over her shoulder and facing the front of the class.

But despite her cold reply, Stiles starts smiling.

Because as she settles in her seat, pulling out a book and crossing her ankles, Stiles catches a flash of a swirled design above the strap of her baby blue sandals. It’s tiny, but it’s clear, and he keeps his smile until the end of the period, despite how much he hates AP Physics.

-----

“I win,” Stiles announces as he plops down next to Allison at a table outside of the cafeteria.

“Ugh, seriously?” she complains, huffing into her soup.

“Yeah,” he says, half distracted. “Is that tofu miso soup?”

“Oh, yeah.” She tips her bowl to show him. “The cafeteria here is ridiculous. They actually have edible food.”

“California, dude.” Stiles shakes his head. “Even little dinky towns like this are better than half the other places that we’ve lived.”

“Except for Maine,” she reminds him.

“Maine… yeah, that was nice.”

He steals her apple and munches on it, idly scanning the crowd. Two guys pass by, clearly interested in Allison, who has her head down, reading something on her phone, and Stiles glares at them.

“Down, boy,” she chides without looking up.

“I wasn’t doing anything,” he insists, turning his glare into a scowl and then smiling when the two guys get the message and walk away.

“You’re insufferable.”

“Yep and you’re stuck with me forever.” He takes a bite of apple and tells her with juice rolling down his chin, “You’re so lucky.”

“It truly haunts me,” she says flatly.

Grinning, he turns and catches sight of the redhead from Physics. “Oh, hey, there she is.”

Allison looks up and studies the girl, eyes narrowing. “Her?”

“Yeah,” he says, pulling his phone from his pocket. Once he had the girl's name and saw her bright red hair, it was a cinch to search for the girl. Scrolling through his pictures, he pulls up the yearbook photo he found. “Lydia Martin.”

Allison makes a curious sound. “Werewolf, you think?”

“Nah,” Stiles says, showing Allison the photo. “Not unless she got bitten over the Summer.”

They both watch as Lydia makes her way over to a table that’s already half full of teenagers laughing and tossing food back and forth between their trays.

“Thoughts?” Allison inquires quietly.

“Hmm...” Stiles studies the table quickly. “I’d say the brunette girl and the guy with curly hair and the scarf are an item.” He watches the other two people at the table, a wicked-looking blonde and a buff black guy with a soft smile, and decides, "Those two are a couple too, but it's not as new. They're established."

Allison narrows her eyes at him, likely wondering why he's talking about relationships, but nods. “Go on.”

“And here comes Scott.” They watch as Scott makes his way over to the table, holding hands with a pretty Asian girl. “So I’m guessing they’re also a couple. Which means Lydia is likely free game.”

Allison clears her throat.

“What? I’m not talking about for me,” he insists. “Besides, she’s totally Fam. And from the way she looked at me in Physics today, she’s definitely not interested in me.”

Allison rolls her eyes but does end up glancing at Lydia again. “She’s cute, I guess.”

“Pssh, please. She’s exactly your type, you asshole,” he states, shoving her shoulder.

She kicks him in the shin and grins when he hisses in pain. “Well, I have to get to the library before French.”

“I hate you,” he tells her, reaching out to take the soup she didn’t finish.

“Mmhmm, love you too,” she calls as she leaves, waving over her shoulder before going back inside.

Stiles sulks, despite how good the soup is, and continues to watch the rest of the students milling around the grassy common area.

It’s times like this, when his siblings aren’t around and he’s watching other people, normal people, living their lives, that he feels a little lonely.

He doesn’t really have any friends that aren’t other Hunters or related to him. Flicking his gaze over at the table that’s likely filled with members of a werewolf pack, his gut twists with a strange longing for the easy way they all seem to fit together, leaning on each other and laughing, content in their closeness.

Sighing, he finishes the soup and tosses the trash, heading for his next class. Pulling his schedule from his pocket, Stiles scowls at the block labeled AP Chemistry for third period. He hates Chemistry.

Pushing open the door, he’s distracted and bumps his shoulder into a guy in a leather jacket. “Oh, sorry, dude.”

The guy just grunts, moving past him and heading outside.

“Rude,” Stiles mumbles, rolling his eyes and heading toward the Science hallway.

Chapter Text

Derek scowls at the Hunter’s back, watching as he manages not to bump into anyone else in the crowded cafeteria, despite the fact that his head is down and he’s focused on the paper in his hand.

Even worse, there’s a smell that’s lingering in the air. Something clean yet woodsy. Like lavender and rosemary and… trees?

Derek snorts, trying to clear his nose, and head toward the lunch table where most of his pack is sprawled.

“Derek!” Erica calls, pointing at Isaac. “Tell this idiot that we cannot regrow limbs.”

He thinks about it. “I don’t actually know that we can’t,” he tells her, taking the spot on the bench that Kira pats. “But let's not try it." He looks around at his pack. "How’s the first day so far?”

“Better now that I know I might be able to regrow a limb,” Isaac says cheekily, biting into his hamburger with gusto.

His cheeks look full and flushed, Derek notices, like his color is finally balancing out. It makes Derek happy to see that his Beta is doing better, is healthier than before when he was human and at the mercy of his father’s fists.

Even if he's not necessarily close with his foster parents, they're kind people and are pretty lenient when it comes to Isaac spending time with friends as long as he lets them know where he is.

The others playfully shove at Isaac, all giving their own answers to Derek’s question and breaking into conversations.

“Scott, any sighting today?” Derek asks lowly.

“Nah dude, not me,” his Second says, munching on fries. He's half-distracted reading an article on his phone and Derek smiles when he sees it's about vet school.

“I saw the boy twin,” Lydia offers.

Derek looks at her across the table, the smirk on her pink lips making him wary. “And?”

She simpers. “He’s not very impressive. Quiet in class. Smart enough, I guess, or he wouldn’t be in AP." She shrugs. "But not really much to worry about.”

Derek wants to point out that the Hunter was literally just outside with them, likely only a few tables away, and none of them had noticed. He’s saved from having to when Cora, who he hadn’t realized had gone quiet, makes an ugly sound.

“He was sitting with his sister about fifteen feet away from us like three minutes ago and no one noticed, so I guess they must be a little smart.”

Lydia eyes Cora, her red eyebrows high in a haughty curve. “Are you implying something?”

“Don’t get your panties in a twist, Lydia." Cora rolls her eyes. "I’m just saying, you should know better than anyone not to judge someone by how they look.”

Lydia takes the compliment for what it is and gives a delicate sniff, opening a bag of crackers and crunching one without replying.

“So are we on the defensive, or what?” Boyd asks, pulling Erica onto his lap and looping his arm around her waist.

“We’re being aware,” Derek says, turning to his sister to emphasize, “and not engaging.”

“If they start it, I’ll finish it,” she states.

“I don’t think they’re going to,” Scott says with a shrug, still reading. There's a thread of that stubborn optimism in his voice when he adds, "They haven't done anything to any of us."

“Well, let’s just keep ourselves to ourselves and they won’t have any reason to start it,” Isaac suggests, willing to go along with Scott's positive outlook.

Cora pats her boyfriend’s arm like she agrees but shares a look with Derek.

After all, they’re both aware that sometimes just being different can be enough to put a target on your back.

He gives her a small shake of his head, silently reiterating the order not to get involved, and she sighs but looks like she actually agrees. For now.

Derek wonders, as the conversation picks back up around him, if his mom ever had to deal with this much nonsense from her pack.

He knows that Laura had it way worse.

-----

This time - the last time - the madness started when Laura got a call from Beacon Hills.

She wouldn’t tell him or Cora who it was on the phone, just made a face, hung up, and started packing her bags.

It didn’t take long for them to get under her feet, as usual.

“I’ll only be gone for a few days. Why are you guys always so ridiculous when I leave?!” Laura exclaimed, throwing her hands in the air as she stared at where the both of them were sprawled across her bed, covering up her travel bag.

“Take us with you,” Derek told her, freshly sixteen and sure that he was the best Second an Alpha could ask for.

“Yeah!” Cora demanded, fourteen and even more stubborn than him.

“You guys can’t miss school,” Laura insisted, rolling up a pair of jeans and shoving them in the bag despite the fact that Derek was laying half-on top of it.

“Ah hah!” Derek sat up, pointing at her. “We’re home-schooled!”

“If our teacher is going away, shouldn’t we go with her?” Cora asked, her tone suddenly angelic. "So that we don't miss our studies, of course."

“Yeah,” Derek agreed, “take us with you.”

“Take us with you, take us with you,” Cora chanted.

Derek started too and they said in unison, getting louder each time, “Take us with you, take us with you, take us with you, take us with you!”

Laura closed her eyes, breathing slowly like she was trying to keep her patience.

They just got louder, Cora jumping up and down on the bed and Derek clapping his hands and stomping his feet in time with the words that had risen to shouting volume.

Laura finally snarled, her eyes flashing red. She shouted, "Enough!” 

Cora dropped to her knees on the mattress, breathless, and Derek froze, his head tipping to the side automatically as his heart pounded at his Alpha’s anger.

Laura looked at them, an incredible sadness washing over her face before she turned back to packing. After a moment, she said quietly, but firmly, “You two are staying here and that is final. I’ll be back in a few days.”

An hour later, she kissed both of them on the cheek, hugged them tight, and walked out of their apartment.

The next morning at breakfast, Derek had been pouring cereal for both of them and dropped the box on the floor as his entire body shook. He dropped to his knees and groaned as it felt like his insides caught fire.

"Derek, Derek, what's wrong?!" Cora asked, kneeling next to him.

He looked up at her and she gasped, falling back on her ass as tears welled in her eyes. She scrambled back and pressed herself against the cabinets.

"What?" he asked, even though a tiny voice inside him was telling him he already knew. "What's wrong?"

"Your eyes..." she whispered, chin wobbling. "Your eyes..."

He closed his eyes tight, clenched fists hitting the tile hard enough to crack as he howled.

-----

“Derek?”

He blinks, turning to Kira. “What?”

She studies at him for a moment before repeating, “Are you going to the party tonight?”

He thinks about it, wondering if he actually wants to go, but decides he probably should since they’ve got Hunters in the school now. And, says a tiny paranoid voice in his head, those are just the ones we know about.

“Yeah, I’ll be there.”

-0-0-0-

Stiles settles at one of the lab tables in AP Chem, unsure if seats are assigned or not. The tables around him fill pretty quickly and no one seems upset that he’s sitting where he is, so he figures it must be fine.

He sighs when Scott walks in – of course, he’s going to be a vet, so he’d need AP Chem – and tries to ignore the werewolf.

Except that Scott stops next to Stiles’ table, hand clenching his book bag strap...

Stiles sighs. “This is your table, isn’t it?”

“Yeah.”

“Accidental, I swear.” Stiles smiles and figures Why the hell not? He's not sure if it's his moment of loneliness or if he's just tired of being apart, even though he knows he should be, but he doesn't really care. He gestures at the empty seat. “Come on, man, I don’t bite.”

Scott hesitates for a moment longer before sitting and pulling out a notebook.

They’re saved from awkwardness by a whip-thin man striding into the room seconds later.

“Everyone be quiet. Summer vacation is over and class has officially started.” He picks up a sheet and runs his eyes down it before looking up at the room. He points at Stiles. “You. What’s your name?”

“Stiles Argent,” he says, trying to keep the smirk off his face. He recognizes this kind of guy: a dick that abuses the small modicum of power that’s been given to him. He drawls lazily, with just a touch of flirtatiousness, “And you are?”

“Mr. Harris.” The man’s gaze narrows, his mouth twisting as he scrolls down the list and says, “There’s an Argent here, but not a ‘Stiles’.”

Stiles shrugs, laying it on a little thicker this time. “I mean, you can try to pronounce that mess if you want, but ‘Stiles’ just rolls off the tongue so much easier, don’t you think?”

The class titters at his boldness and Scott snorts softly down at his notebook.

“Hmf.” Harris' mouth tightens but he doesn't reply, just looks out at the whole class and barks, "Everyone open your books to page thirteen.” He hands papers to the people in the front row. “Take one and pass it back. You’ll need your syllabus until the end of the year, so don’t lose it.”

Stiles glances around as everyone starts pulling books from their bags and immediately loses his teasing vibe. 

Scott looks at him, notices his confusion, and tells him quietly, “Harris doesn’t believe in waiting until the second day to start. There’s a full lesson today and you’ll have homework tonight.”

“Jeez, seriously?” he whines, taking two syllabuses and passing the rest over his shoulder.

Scott nods, his face showing a similar misery as he opens his textbook and accepts the syllabus that Stiles slides toward him.

Stiles sighs, wondering what kind of evil creature Harris might be and whether or not he can slay him without getting in trouble with his dad.

Chapter Text

At the end of class, after going over the syllabus and reviewing the first two chapters in the unit, Harris points to the class and says, “As of today, the seats you are sitting in are your assigned places. Everyone say hello to your new lab partners. There will be no moving.”

Ah, fuck.

Stiles glances at Scott as the bell rings and the other students start to rise. He mutters, “Sorry man.”

Scott looks like he’s debating with himself before he shakes his head and gives Stiles a big smile. “It’s cool, dude. We’re gonna be awesome lab partners.”

Unable to help it, Stiles smiles at Scott’s upbeat attitude. “You’re… oddly optimistic about this.”

“Well, I think,” he pauses and nods, like he’s agreeing with himself, “that we should be friends.”

Stiles blinks at him, intrigued despite himself. “You do realize that’s really unlikely, right?”

“Maybe.” Scott shoves his stuff in his bag and throws it over his shoulder. “I guess we’ll have to see.” He perks up like he’s just had a great idea. “You know about the party tonight, right?”

“Ah, what party?” he asks, but he’s still half-distracted thinking about the fact that a werewolf wants to be friends with a Hunter.

“There’s always a party after the first day of school. You and Allison and Liam should come.”

“I…” Stiles starts, about to refuse, but something about the hopeful look on Scott’s face has him sighing, “okay.”

Scott grins. “Sweet.” He pulls a pen out of his pocket and grabs some scratch paper from the desk. “Here’s the address.”

Stiles takes the paper, amused as hell at how excited Scott seems as they walk into the hall. “Thanks. We’ll be there.”

“Cool. See you there.” Scott smiles again and peels off down the hall.

Stiles stares at the paper before slipping it into his pocket.

His last class of the day is English Lit and he apparently shares it with Rude Leather Jacket Guy from the cafeteria, though the jacket is now slung over the back of his desk.

The guy looks at him briefly during introductions but then obviously dismisses him and stares out the window.

It’s kind of a shame because the longer Stiles sees the guy from the corner of his eye during class, the more he notices how attractive he is.

Dark hair and a lovely jawline, muscled arms and long legs… He’s got the slouched posture of a bad boy, but the dream-like gaze of a poet.

Oh yeah, Stiles is charmed.

He manages not to stare the entire class period though, because that’s just creepy and he does have boundaries, thank you very much.

When class is dismissed, Stiles grabs his stuff and heads toward the door, feeling the guy’s eyes on him the entire way. He doesn’t look, because he’s cooler than that, but he smirks as he walks out the door and into the crowded hall.

Someone might be charmed by him too.

He stops by his locker and dumps all his books except for the Chemistry text and he grumbles as he shuts his bag before heading to where he parked the Jeep.

Allison lifts her hand in a wave when she sees him and Liam frowns at him.

“S’a’matter, Li?” Stiles asks as he ambles over. “Jelly that I won?”

“Psshh, not even,” Liam grouses.

“It’s okay, dude,” Stiles assures him as he unlocks the door then climbs in and unlocks the other door. “You can have the next one.”

Allison pushes the seat up to let Liam climb into the back and raises her eyebrows at Stiles.

“Er, I mean, you can bet on when we meet the Alpha?” Stiles tries.

Allison nods and smiles at Liam. “Think you’ll meet him first?”

“Nope.” Liam buckles his seat belt and points at Stiles. “I bet Stiles will meet him first.”

Stiles looks at Allison and shrugs. “Never betted on each other before.”

“I think it’s a little against the spirit of the game, but,” Allison shrugs as she climbs into the Jeep, “I don’t see why it’s a problem.”

Liam grins at Stiles in the rearview mirror and Stiles sticks his tongue out at him.

“So, how was everyone’s day?” Allison asks lightly.

“Fine,” Liam answers, scratching his shoulder. “I found out how to try out for lacrosse, even though most of the spots on the team are already filled. I’m probably gonna be a bench warmer, but at least I get to practice.”

“That’s good to hear. At least you’ll get to play scrimmages, right?”

“Yeah.”

Allison turns to Stiles. “And you? How was the rest of your day?”

Stiles is tempted to talk about the handsome boy from English but instead he says, “I got bullied by a werewolf in Chemistry.”

“What?” Liam leans forward then jerks against the seatbelt as Stiles stops at a red light.

“What happened?” Allison demands with wide eyes.

Stiles frowns at the light and tells them, “Scott is trying to be my friend.”

Liam cracks up and Allison rolls her eyes. “You call that ‘being bullied’?”

“I mean, he said it like I don’t really have a choice,” Stiles whines. “I think we’re actually friends now or something.”

“Fine, I’ll give you that. It is strange,” Allison concedes with a thoughtful tilt of her head.

“I’m confused,” Liam says. “If they know we’re Hunters, know what we do, then why is he trying to be friends with you?”

“Dunno.” Stiles taps his fingers against the wheel. “Trying to get me to let my guard down and then skewer me when I least expect it?”

"Who knows?" Allison asks but she's staring out the window, clearly thinking hard about something and they all fall into silence.

“Well, have fun at the party,” Liam tells them as they pull up to the house.

“You’re not coming?”

“Nah, I’m meeting people at the bowling alley.” Liam glances at his phone and taps at the screen. “But you guys have fun at the park. Let me know if you need back up or if something comes out of the woods and eats you guys.”

Stiles and Allison watch as he ambles inside before looking at each other.

“I remember liking him more when he was littler,” Stiles carps.

"You did not,” Allison snorts and grabs her bag, heading inside too. 

He follows her and they split up at the landing, agreeing to meet back up at eight and head to the party then.

-----

Stiles and Allison roll up to the park right as the sun is setting, shadows stretching long on the grass as they amble among cars to get to where a bonfire is being lit.

Stiles sees the alcohol and wonders if BCPD is aware of all the underage drinking and his eyebrows raise as he sees who’s manning the beer cooler at the moment.

“Hey Stiles, hey Allison!” Scott greets as they walk up.

“Hi Scott,” Allison dimples, accepting a plastic cup of beer. She looks at Stiles and raises her eyebrows. “I’m gonna mingle.”

He nods, though a tiny part of him wants her to stay, so she can see what he means by Scott’s friendly attitude. But he waves her off with a “Have fun.”

She smirks at him and slips into the crowd.

“So,” Scott says, bringing Stiles’ attention back to him, “how do you like Beacon Hills so far?”

“It’s pretty here,” he says with a shrug. “I like that there’s a lot of nature around. And the school seems cool. Allison’s happy that they offer actual AP classes and Liam wants to join lacrosse. He apparently talked to the coach today, but the team’s pretty much already set, so we’ll see.”

Scott nods. “If he’s actually serious, let me know and I’ll get him a spot on the team.”

Stiles narrows his eyes at him, studying him.

Scott, clearly amused at the scrutiny, serves a few beers and chats with some people before he turns to Stiles. “What?”

“You’re just not what I expected.”

Scott grins crookedly, though it’s not like he can help that part, and asks, “As John’s stepson?”

Stiles huffs a laugh. “No, the other part.”

“I’m still me.” Scott shrugs. “I mean, I fall less and I can actually breathe now, but I’m still who I was before.”

There’s the slightest bit of darkness chasing through the back of his eyes that has Stiles guessing that some things have changed, but he gets what Scott means.

“I guess I’m just not sure how being friends is going to work out for us.” Stiles motions between the two of them. “I know my dad and John are besties, but I just don’t know how this’ll work out.”

He doesn’t say that he’s worried he’ll have to fight Scott one day, that he’ll have to look at this smiling guy and point a gun at his head. He knows Scott knows what he means but Scott just shrugs and shakes his head.

“But who’s to say that we can’t be friends in the mean time?” Scott asks. “You said you weren’t here to do anything but learn, right?”

Stiles sighs and swirls the beer in his cup. He decides to be more to the point: “Scott, it’s not really that simple and I know you know that.”

“So, what, you’re after us? You lied about why you’re here?”

“Not precisely.” At Scott’s raised eyebrows, he shrugs and admits, “I know how to tell only part of the truth without actually lying. It’s something we’re taught when we’re young.”

Scott stares at him. He’s clearly smart and proves it when he says softly, “You didn’t answer the first question.”

Stiles smiles. “I’m also very good at not answering questions.”

Scott snorts and shoves at his shoulder. “I get it. You can’t tell me your ‘secret mission’ or whatever.” He shrugs. “That’s fine. I’m just saying, we can totally be cool because there’s no reason for you not to be cool with us.” His face is serious when he says, “We’re good people.”

Stiles sighs and nods because there’s not really anything to say to that. He doesn’t know that Scott and his pack are good people, doesn’t know if the Alpha is a good person, doesn’t know that the pack isn’t behind the disappearances.

And, even if he did know all of those things, his hands are tied by who and what he is. Nous chassons ceux qui nous chassent.

Scott pats his shoulder like he understands Stiles’ hesitance and reaches over to get another beer and Stiles wonders if he knows that he can’t get drunk anymore.

Scott smiles at something and the way he has his chin tilted, Stiles can tell that it’s something that his human ears wouldn’t catch.

In a way, Scott’s hands are just as tied. He is a werewolf and nothing can change that.

“Dude,” Scott says, making Stiles blink. “Deep thoughts?”

Stiles laughs. “Something like that.”

“So?” Scott asks, clearly waiting for an answer.

Stiles taps his fingers on his cup. He knows this is a bad idea, but his mouth opens and he says, “Yeah, alright.”

“Sweet,” Scott says, holding out his hand for a fist bump and looking so pleased with himself.

Stiles laughs and bumps his fist, but he can’t help the small voice that’s whispering in the back of his head: he’ll die, he’ll die, he’ll die and it’ll be all your fault.

He shakes his head and asks Scott about Harris, making the werewolf groan before he launches into a story about how he made a girl cry on the first day of school two years ago.

Chapter Text

When they leave the party, Stiles has Scott’s number programmed into his phone and a promise to text about Liam.

“Or, you know, whatever else. Video game marathon, grabbing some pizza, doesn’t matter. I’m working at the vet clinic after school most days, cleaning cages and doing admin stuff, but I’m usually free after seven.”

Stiles nods automatically, smiling even though he’s sort of malfunctioning internally. It’s not until he and Allison climb into the Jeep that he manages to snap out of it.

When they shut the doors and they’re sitting in silence, he tells his twin, “I think I just became best friends with a werewolf.”

He expects her to scold him but she clears her throat and says in the same shocked tone as him: “I think I’m going on a date with Lydia tomorrow.”

He turns to look at her so fast he almost gives himself whiplash. “What?”

“She’s in my French class.” Her eyes are wide and she’s biting her lip, staring straight ahead. “And, uh, she said something about us going to get tapas tomorrow. But, like, it sounded like it’s not just dinner. It’s dinner dinner…”

“How did this happen?” he demands to know, partially talking to himself as well as her.

“I have no idea.” She looks at him and blinks rapidly. “But I do know that we can’t tell Dad.”

He snorts, finally starting the Jeep and heading toward the bowling alley. “No shit, Sherlock. You think I want him to know I’m apparently now BFFs with a werewolf?”

And, even though he knows it’s supposed to be a bad thing, a part of him is thrilled about the idea of having a best friend that's just his, even if it is a childish thing to want.

“I just mean…” Allison takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. “I don’t know. It’s… different here. The pack is different here.” She shakes her head. “I don’t know if it’s because they’re our age or what but they all seem really normal, for werewolves.”

“Well,” Stiles clarifies, “the two pack members we’ve met are different. We can’t speak to the character of the rest of the pack just from watching them behave in public.”

“I know. I just…”

He flicks his eyes at her but has to keep his attention on the road. “What is it?”

“I feel like there’s something we’re missing,” she sighs. “You know, that feeling that there’s something right at the edge of your grasp, but you can’t quite get it.”

Stiles mulls that over, reminding himself again to pull down the family journal, since he forgot the other night.

“I guess that…” he trails off, half-stuck in a thought spiral.

“Guess what?”

He shakes his head, dismissing his earlier thought for another. “I guess we’ll get a chance to learn what’s up, since we’ll obviously be spending time with them, I mean.”

And there it is: there’s not a doubt in either of their minds that they’re going to be friends with these people, despite the fact that they’re Hunters and the other teenagers are in a werewolf pack.

They’re consciously making the decision, even if they’re not using so many words, to break about a million and five rules that they’ve been taught for the past ten years.

But Stiles agrees, there’s something that he’s missing, something that makes this whole thing seem more plausible, more reasonable…

Allison moans and drops her head into her hands. “We are so fucked.”

Stiles can’t really say anything to that because he totally agrees.

-----

They pick up Liam and, luckily, he’s distracted enough that he doesn’t notice their odd moods.

Allison, despite being off-kilter, studies their brother in the rearview mirror for a moment before she asks, “So what’s her name?”

“Hayden,” Liam sighs then blinks and scowls at Allison.

“Oooh! Baby boy’s got a crush!!” Stiles sings.

“Shut up!” Liam snaps. “It’s not a crush.”

“It’s okay, Liam,” Allison assures him. She slaps Stiles’ arm. “Leave him alone.”

“Hey, don’t make me out to be the villain here.” He glances at Liam in the rearview mirror. “I got you a spot on the lacrosse team.” He raises his eyebrows. “If you want it, that is.”

“Dude, yes!”

“Okay, I’ll text Scott.”

“Scott?” Liam asks, leaning forward. “Like, John’s stepson the werewolf Scott?”

“Yes, that one.”

“You weren’t kidding about him bullying you.” Liam smirks. “Are you two besties now?”

“Apparently,” Stiles snaps. “Don’t trouble your precious blonde head about it, Li. Why don’t you just think about Hayden, huh?”

Liam scowls and flops back into the seat and Allison rolls her eyes skyward, sighing.

Stiles grins because, sometimes, you have to be the one who’s happy, even if no one else is. Plus, it distracts him just a little bit from the all-too-pressing knowledge that they’re all probably about to be in deep shit.

-0-0-0-

Derek waits until Scott starts helping with clean up to move from his perch on a branch ringing the circle of the party. Landing softly, he grabs a trash bag and starts picking up cups as he makes his way towards Scott.

“Hey, Derek,” Scott greets happily. “Did you have fun being creepy?”

“I wasn’t being creepy. I was looking out for you guys,” Derek tells him.

“Well, we were fine. Erica and Boyd snuck off to make out hours ago, Kira stayed home, Lydia mingled as usual, and Cora and Isaac didn’t even come, so.” He shrugs, scooping up an empty marshmallow bag.

Derek studies his second for a moment. “You need to stop it,” he states.

Scott scoffs. “I’m not doing anything.”

“You know you can’t lie to me, Scott.” Derek shakes his head. “You’re playing with fire.”

Scott throws his hands in the air. “I’m just trying to be friends with Stiles, is that what you want to hear?”

No,” Derek says slowly, trying not to let his concern sharpen his words into angry sounds, “what I want to hear is that my pack is listening when I tell them things for their own safety.”

“They’re not here to hurt us,” Scott insists. “Besides, our dads have known each other for years.”

“Do you think that would make Chris hesitate to kill you?” Derek asks, not trying to be unkind. He’s just worried, again, that Scott’s goodness will end in his death.

“I don’t get you, dude,” Scott grouses. “One minute you’re all, we’re brothers, and we need to work together with the rest of the preternatural community to foster understanding.” He savagely crushes several cups in his hand before shoving them in the trash bag. “But now you don’t want us to do that at all.”

“That’s with other preternatural creatures, Scott. These are Hunters. They aren’t interested in peace. They want to eradicate us.”

“There you go generalizing again.” Scott shakes his head, taking a deep breath and letting it out. “Look, I remember everything that Peter told me, everything he made us do when he was Alpha…” He swallows hard, shaking his head. “If I was a Hunter and that was the only thing I heard about werewolves, don’t you think I would assume that he was a monster?”

He was a monster, there at the end, Derek thinks. But that too, in its own way, was the fault of an Argent.

“I just don’t want you to get hurt, Scott,” he states before tossing the trash bag into the back of a truck and walking away.

Scott’s words float to him. “Seems to me we’re not the only ones who can get hurt here.”

Derek grimaces, but doesn’t turn around. If Scott’s too stubborn to listen, Derek will just have to take matters into his own hands.

-0-0-0-

The next night, when their dad goes out to meet John downtown, Allison and Liam find their way to Stiles’ room again, sprawling across the bed.

“If I’d known that having the biggest room meant conference meetings every night, I would’ve taken the smaller room.” Stiles says archly as his siblings bicker over pillows and snatch snacks from one another.

“Lies,” Allison says through a mouthful of rice pudding.

Stiles sighs and closes his Chemistry book. “Can you believe Harris gave out homework on the first day?” He flaps his hand at the book. “He’s a monster.”

“Doesn’t he know the rules?” Allison asks, waving the spoon around. “It’s blasphemy.”

“You’re just lucky you’re in the advanced class,” Stiles groans, rubbing his eyes. “I’m going to die.”

“Nah.” Liam holds out a bag of Cheetos. “You’re gonna binge on junk food and watch Mean Girls with us.”

“I should finish this chapter,” he grumbles. And I need to find those journals.

“Boo, you whore!” Allison exclaims.

At Stiles’ impassive expression, Liam pouts. “Come on, once I start lacrosse training, I’m not allowed to eat junk food anymore. Please?”

“Ugh! Fine,” Stiles says as if it’s a great burden, dramatically closing his book.

It’s nice, curled up in his bed with them, watching the familiar movie and passing snacks back and forth seamlessly. During a bathroom break, Stiles walks past the hall window and pauses.

There’s a person-shaped shadow lurking at the edge of the streetlight across the street and he narrows his eyes.

After about three seconds, he shrugs and walks away like it doesn’t bother him, since he’s just a normal teenager, after all, but he’s sure to pull the curtains to his room closed when he gets back before pressing play again.

When the wards on Liam’s window tingle, Stiles smiles to himself. He hopes whoever it is trying to get in enjoys the fact that it’ll feel like their whole limb is asleep for twelve hours. He snags the popcorn and crunches happily.

Chapter Text

Stiles thinks it’s going to be an okay week when he texts Scott Sunday night and gets an affirmative for Liam to show up to lacrosse practice Monday morning at seven.

He thinks it’ll be even better when he manages to find the official report on the Hale pack and the subsequent fire. He’s finally got information about some of the pack that he can use to check against Scott’s idealistic optimism that his pack is filled with “good people”, even if he only gets half-way through the file before he falls asleep at his desk.

And, even though he has to go into the locker room before school to drop off Liam’s clothes for after practice, he’s pretty cheerful.

Stiles’ approximation of the week immediately goes out the window when he gets slammed face-first into the lockers. He just barely manages to turn his face so his cheek hits the metal and not his nose.

Huffing a laugh, he asks amiably, “Can I help you with something?”

A line of heat settles against his back and there’s a rumbling growl as the hand against the back of his neck grows sharp nails.

“Ah, the Alpha, I presume,” he greets, trying to keep himself calm.

A racing heart won’t help an Alpha’s control and it’ll just make them more likely to see him as prey. He focuses on the press of the Alpha’s chest against his back to ground himself.

“Stay away from my pack,” the Alpha growls slowly.

“Boy, oh boy, I sure would like to, just so we don’t have meetings like this,” Stiles chirps, trying to ignore how the metal of the lockers is pressing into his cheek. He’s gonna have a nice bruise in a few hours. “But some of them seem dead-set on hanging out with me.”

He’ll leave Ally out of it for now but he’s sure the Alpha is aware of that too.

Silence. Then the claws dig in a little more. “What are you doing in Beacon Hills?”

“Are we really gonna have a conversation like this?” Stiles asks in his best cajoling manner. “I mean, I’ll happily chat with you. But we can talk like civilized people, right?”

More silence.

For a moment, Stiles envisions the Alpha just saying fuck it and ripping those claws across his throat.

Instead, the claws squeeze once and disappear. The line of heat against his back is gone too and Stiles waits a moment before putting his hands against the lockers and slowly turning himself around to face his attacker.

The Alpha stares at him, eyes tinged with red and mouth twisted in a scowl.

Stiles sighs and drops his head back against the lockers.

Because of fucking course, the Alpha is the beautiful, star-gazed boy from his English class. Why? Because Stiles’ life isn’t fair, that’s fucking why!

Let it go, Stiles, just let it go.

Forcing a grin, Stiles looks at the Alpha. “Well, I wondered how long it was gonna take before you introduced yourself.”

Not that this is what Stiles had in mind, but whatever.

The Alpha growls lowly, eyes pinched in confusion. “Do you know who I am?”

“Hale, I presume, though not a hundred percent which one,” Stiles answers truthfully. “Though I suppose you could be someone pretending to be a Hale, but I hear that packs frown on others using their symbols without permission.”

The Alpha blinks at him, clearly caught off guard.

Stiles continues to talk, since his words are his best weapon:

“But I’m going to go ahead and go with my first impression which is that you’re a Hale and, judging by the fact that you’re clearly a student here, I’m gonna say you’re probably Derek.” Calling up the Hale family records that are pretty fresh in his mind, he rattles off, “Derek Nathaniel Hale, to be exact, and since you’re the Alpha, I’m going to assume that your sister Laura Elizabeth Hale either didn’t get the power or isn’t around anymore.”

When the back of Stiles’ head connects with the lockers, he groans but there’s still a smile on his face. It hurts, sure, but there’s victory in making your opponent lose their calm.

Derek breathes heavily, clearly trying hard not to just bash Stiles’ face in, though it’s obvious he wants to really, really badly but the flexing of his fingers against Stiles’ throat.

There’s also the expression Stiles has seen on more than a few people’s faces over the years. He’s quite annoying, after all. Unfortunately for Derek, it doesn’t scare Stiles the slightest bit.

“So,” Stiles drawls, dancing his fingers over the hand pressed to his throat, “that only leaves one question that I don’t know the answer to.” He drops the funny, half-flirty act and presses his fingers into the tendons of Derek’s wrist, breaking his hold.

A rabbit-punch to Derek’s solar plexus has the werewolf jerking back but it’s the bottle of powdered wolfsbane that Stiles tugs from his pocket that makes him step back, lip lifted in a growl.

“What happened to all the kids that disappeared?” Stiles asks, thumb on the stopper, ready to pop the bottle open.

Derek’s mouth twists and his eyebrows drop. “It wasn’t us.”

Stiles shrugs. “Okay. So who was it?”

“A bunch of idiots who thought they were witches. They were sacrificing kids in three-fold deaths, thinking it would give them power.”

“The fuck, that sounds like some Darach shit.”

Derek gives him a confused look.

Stiles waves his hand. “Don’t worry about it. They’re nasty, that’s all you need to know.” He leans back against the lockers, thinking. “So what happened to the witchy-wannabes?”

“We handled it. They’re gone.”

“Well, that’s reassuring.”

“Great. So now that you know it wasn’t us, you can leave.”

“Mmm, not really how it works, dude.”

“Don’t call me ‘dude’.”

“Alright. Though,” Stiles shrugs, “regardless of what I call you, we’re still not leaving. Think of us as Betas. We follow orders the way your pack does.”

Derek snorts at that, muttering, “In that case, I pity your Alpha.”

Stiles smiles, amused as all hell, and nods. “We do too, sometimes.”

Derek’s face loses its amusement, his eyes narrowing. “You should tell him to leave us alone. We haven’t done anything and there’s no reason for him, or you, to be here.”

Stiles shrugs. “Like I said, dude, I don’t make the rules.”

“Then what good is it to talk to you?”

Stiles blinks at him for a few seconds, a smile curling on his lips.

“What?” Derek snaps, looking unnerved.

“It’s a shame you’re such a dick,” Stiles says.

Derek scoffs, like he’s heard it before. “And why is that?”

Stiles smirks and admits, “Because you’re sexy as fuck and I’d gladly climb you like a tree in a hot second, if you were interested.”

When Derek gapes at him like a fish, Stiles drops a small packet of herbs and stomps on it, activating a combination of scents that he’s been told is a truly terrible smell to any being who has an advanced sense of smell.

Derek coughs and his eyes screw up and start to water. He backs away, slamming into the lockers on the opposite side and growling.

"It's been a pleasure, Alpha Hale!" Stiles calls as he darts out of the locker room. He smooths down his hair when he gets into the hall, straightening his shirt and pasting a smile on his face.

Sliding up to Allison’s side, he watches as she wrinkles her nose at him and gives him a questioning look, a silent query as to why he smells like a defensive bomb.

He throws an arm over her shoulder and informs her, “Liam just won another ten bucks.”

She groans and hits her head against his shoulder. “What the hell, Stiles? Why is this pack so obsessed with you?”

Stiles grins at her and nods down the hall where Lydia is eyeing the two of them, though her gaze is mostly focused on Allison. “I don’t think the whole pack is obsessed with me. Seems like someone’s pretty taken with you.”

Allison rolls her eyes and shoves at him until he releases her shoulders. “I’ll see you at lunch.”

“Sounds good.” He waves to her then grabs his stuff from his locker. He gets to class and sets his stuff up, looking up when Lydia comes in and gives him a strange look. “What?”

“You smell weird,” Lydia informs him as she sets her stuff down.

“Well thank you, sweetness.” Stiles gives a small bow. “I don’t know what I’ve done to earn such kindness from you.”

She narrows her eyes at him, perfectly-lipsticked mouth pursed. “Has anyone ever told you that you’re incredibly annoying?”

“Kinda my M.O., actually.”

She rolls her eyes and sits, turning to face the front of the classroom.

Once her gaze is off of him, Stiles lets the goofy smile drop from his face. He takes a quiet, deep breath, letting it out slowly.

Dammit… why does the cute guy have to be the Alpha? And not just any Alpha, oh no. He’s the Alpha to a pack of teenage werewolves that are confusing and want to have relationships – friendly or extra-friendly – with him and Allison and don’t seem to understand why that’s a terrible idea.

Stiles huffs a soft laugh, feeling a little bit of sympathy for Derek. Stiles, Allison, and Liam are handful enough and their dad only has to deal with three of them. Derek’s got over double that.

“Poor guy,” he mutters, shaking his head and pulling his book out of his bag. He wouldn’t take on that job if someone paid him.

-0-0-0-

It takes Derek nearly ten minutes, complete with a lot of nose-blowing and deep breathes of gross locker room air, to get the horribly sharp smell of herbs out of his nose.

Derek knows he could track the Hunter if he really wanted to, but he’s going to be late for History if he does. Besides, he knows that Stiles has class with Lydia first period and he knows where Stiles lives. It's not like Derek can't find him. Though his arm is still tingly from trying to open one of the windows the night before.

Shaking his head, he grabs his stuff from his locker and squeaks into class just before the bell. Settling into his seat in the back of the room, he sniffs and pulls out his book.

“Why so snuffly, oh Alpha mine?” Erica asks lowly, fiddling with her cell phone under her desk.

He huffs, considering not answering her. After a moment, he grouses, “These Hunters are a pain in my ass.”

She raises her eyes, her posture deceptively casual. “Problems?”

He opens his mouth to tell her about the herb bomb or how Stiles brought up his family but what ends up coming out is, “I told one of them to stop hanging out with the pack and he hit on me.” 

Erica doesn’t say anything and Derek glances over at her, immediately frowning when he sees her with wide eyes, biting her lips together. She looks like she’s about to explode with laughter and he growls lowly.

“Never mind,” he gripes, opening his book to the page number that’s scrawled on the whiteboard, “apparently I’m the only one worried that they’re here to kill us all, despite how ridiculous they all appear to be.”

Erica lets out a soft giggle, then reaches over to pat his arm. “It’s not that we’re intentionally being reckless, Derek. We’re just curious, like kittens.”

“Yeah, well,” Derek mutters as the teacher walks in, “curiosity and cats don’t really mix well.”

Erica rolls her eyes but doesn’t say anything else, just writes something down then slides it over so he can read it.

Curiosity killed the cat.

BUT  satisfaction brought it back.

Derek sighs and doesn’t see any satisfaction in his future while these Hunters are in town.

Chapter Text

Derek isn’t in English that afternoon and a part of Stiles is bummed, though the rest of him is wondering what the Alpha is up to. When he gets out of school, he waits at the Jeep for Allison and Liam, watching the other students milling around.

“You shouldn’t be here.”

Stiles only manages not to jump because he’s running through his weekly schedule in his head. He turns slightly and sees the brown-haired girl from the pack’s lunch table. She’s glaring at him from where she’s leaning on the car next to his.

“And why is that?” he asks, raising an eyebrow.

Her mouth twists in a scowl. “I know who you are. And why you’re here.”

“Oh, another pack member! Hmm, which one are you?” Stiles taps his finger against his chin. “I’m going to guess, by the scowling face, that you’re a Hale.”

The girl’s eyes flash yellow and she pushes off the car, pointing at him but not coming any closer. “Leave us alone and we won’t have any problems.” Then she stalks off into the parking lot, disappearing behind a large group of teenagers heading toward a line of buses.

Stiles watches her go, resolving to get to the bottom of this shit once and for all. He’s done operating without all the information.

When he gets home, he goes into their library and searches for a long time before he finally finds something shoved between two volumes on the horrors of the deep ocean. It’s a leather journal wrapped in brown paper and tied with string and it’s addressed to his dad.

When he opens the front cover, he sees that it’s dated, like it’s part of a set, and that the end date is after the Hale fire. He brings the journal back to his room and tosses it on his bed, next to the official report, so he can compare details.

He hangs a loop of red string over his doorknob before locking himself in his room. It’s something that he’s done for years to signify that he’s researching and doesn’t want to be disturbed, so no one should bother him unless it’s an emergency.

When he’s done reading over everything, he reads over it again, just to be sure he didn’t miss anything.

It’s almost one in the morning when he flops back on his bed. He stares up at the glowy stars on the ceiling and takes deep breaths in and out.

The picture from an article pasted into the journal keeps flashing through his mind. From the sign in the background, it’s from some kind of Summer festival, and the large Hale family looks happy and wholesome. In addition to Derek, he picks out the girl talked to earlier in the day, Cora.

It’s haunting due to the context. Cora is tiny, with dark brown pigtails and two missing teeth in her wide beam, arms wrapped around Derek whose smile is just as wide and twice as bright as he leans against an older girl with laughing eyes. Laura, probably, if he had to guess.

He feels fucking sick.

There’s not a lot that he fools himself about, being a realist, and he knows that his family does things that others may see as inhumane and he’s killed his fair share, even though he’s only seventeen.  

However, he believes in the Code, down to his bones.

He remembers his dad telling him that it’s the only thing that keeps Hunters from being monsters. Their family doesn’t just kill willy-nilly. And he believes, always has, that his whole family follows the Code but…

Stiles gets up and rubs his face, going to the kitchen for something to drink.

He tries to reason that, even though she’s always been more ruthless than some Hunters they’ve known, Aunt Kate wouldn’t do something like that without evidence.

Surely she wouldn’t have killed an entire family just because.

Right?

But there’s more than one article pasted in the journals and he feels like if he looks up the families involved, all of them will have died in a car accident or carbon monoxide inhalation or something like that. Or hell, maybe another fire. Who knows?

And why did she mail the journal to his dad? Why not destroy it if she was concerned that someone might find it? Why keep the fucked up journal in the first place?

It makes him feel lost, the foundations of his belief system shaken. He sighs and goes back up to his room, closing the files and journals and shoving them into his filing drawer. He locks it with a key and with a rune.

Climbing out onto the roof, he gets high, needing something to take the edge off. He sees a light on in Lydia’s house, the one in the room that’s across from his. Curious, he wonders where the hell her parents are, since he has yet to see any adults in the house since moving in.

Disregarding it as none of his business, he goes back inside and tries to sleep but he ends up tossing and turning instead.

He wants to do something but he doesn’t know what.

Should he talk to his dad?

It’s not his problem.

Is he responsible for making it right because he knows what happened?

And what if it’s just half the story and Kate just has a weird way of keeping records of the kills she’s made. People sometimes take trophies and Stiles thinks it’s weird, but maybe Kate is one of those people.

Did his aunt just straight up murder people?

And even if she did, are his hands even clean enough for him to cast the first stone?

Allison comes into his room around three and he pretends to be asleep so he doesn’t have to tell her why he’s unable to sleep. She plugs up her phone, puts it next to his on the nightstand, pulls the spare blanket from the foot of his bed, and curls up next to him.

He isn’t sure if she knew he needed her or if she needed him, but either way, with his twin next to him, her breathing the most familiar sound in the world, he’s finally able to pass out.

-----

Derek shows back up in English the next day, already in his seat when Stiles strolls through the door. He raises his eyebrows, his posture predatory even though he’s sprawled comfortably in his chair like a cat.

The position seems like a challenge – this is my territory and you are an outsider – and normally, Stiles would very happily play along, complete with flirting.

But today, Stiles just raises his eyebrows back and walks past without saying anything.

Because all he can see when looks at Derek is the list of names from the article, a whole family whose only crime - at least from what Stiles can tell at this point - was that they weren’t human.

As Stiles sits down, he catches Derek’s curious look and ignores it, focusing on the lesson.

-0-0-0-

Derek sits at the lunch table on Wednesday and subtly watches Stiles and Allison as they talk lowly over sandwiches and salad at their table, Stiles picking aimlessly at his food.

“You’re staring,” Erica informs him as she puts her tray down.

“The Hunter is being very quiet. He didn’t say anything yesterday, even though all he did was talk on Monday.”

Erica takes a bite of her apple and asks, “Are you seriously complaining that he’s not flirting with you?”

“No! It just makes me nervous,” he explains. “It’s a complete flip of how he was acting before.”

“Hmm.” Erica glances over and studies the twins. “So you think he’s going to do something?”

“Him or his dad or his siblings, I don’t know. But we need to be vigilant. Pay attention.” He takes a deep breath and knows that she won’t like what he’s about to say. “I think we should skip the run this full moon and do the obstacle course in the train station instead.”

“Meh,” Erica frowns, “the train station isn’t nearly as fun though.”

Before Derek can answer, Isaac comes up and adds his two cents, having clearly heard them as he walked up. “Plus, don’t we need to run the territory, to make sure there hasn’t been any more unwanted visitors?”

Derek sighs, knowing that they’re going to want to run and Isaac’s not exactly wrong. Derek just doesn’t want to put his pack at risk.

“Fine, we can run for a little while right after the sun goes down but we don’t shift and we go to the station afterwards.”

“Lame,” Erica sighs, “but okay. I’ll tell everyone else.”

“Thanks,” he tells her, clasping her shoulder before rising and going inside, disconcerted despite himself that Stiles doesn’t even glance his way, although his twin does, her brown eyes large and assessing.

Derek tells himself that he’s not running even as he goes inside to get away from her unsettling gaze.

-----

Later on that night, after the pack has gone home tired and laughing, Derek goes into the woods and finds them crawling with Hunters.

See, Derek thinks as he creeps through the trees, this is why I wanted to just go to the train station, even though the run that they had at dusk was fine and had no interruptions.

Three Hunters move in a V, scanning the woods and signaling to each other silently. Derek stays where he is, watching and waiting to see if the Hunters head toward his family’s old house again.

The three Hunters move off in the opposite direction and Derek lets out a soft sigh. He moves from his crouch and starts walking but almost runs face-first into another Hunter. He pops his elbow out, catching the Hunter in the face and lets out a pained sound when the Hunter punches him in the thigh on the way down.

The Hunter pops back up and swings at Derek’s face, which Derek ducks before darting forward and grabbing the Hunter by the vest and trying to get him on the ground.

They scuffle until the Hunter gets a knee in Derek’s stomach, knocking him back several steps.

Derek growls lowly when a cloud covering the moon moves and he catches sight of a gun pointing at him. His jaw almost drops when he sees who’s holding the gun, though.

“Goddammit, it’s you,” Stiles mutters, gun lowering to point at the ground. He glances over his shoulder then moves until they’re less than a foot apart, whispering rapidly through his swelling mouth, “You need to get out of here.”

Derek stares at him, partly wondering why he hasn’t been shot yet and partly wondering why Stiles’ mouth is so distracting.

“Seriously, fucking go already before someone sees you. I’m not telling you again,” Stiles hisses, waving his arm and turning around, running back into the trees.

Derek stays where he is and hears someone ask softly, “What happened to your face, kid?” He’s curious if Stiles is about to rat them out.

“Branch snapped back and got me,” he hears Stiles lie.

“That sucks,” the other Hunter laughs. “Next time, be sure you duck.”

“Yeah, I’ll do that.” He clears his throat and lies again, “My area was clear.”

“Alright, let’s go back to base.”

After they walk away, Derek runs back to his car, wondering why on earth an Argent Hunter just let him go.

Chapter Text

When Stiles gets back to the house, Allison takes one look at him and goes into the kitchen for an icepack. “What did you do?” she asks when she gets back into the room.

“I caught a branch,” he says, “with my face.”

“You’ve got to pay closer attention.”

“Yeah, yeah,” he mumbles, taking the pack from her and pressing it to his mouth. “Thanks, Al.”

She smiles, wrinkling her nose at him.

Stiles smiles back, though he has to force it when he catches a snippet of conversation from the gathered Hunters in the “workshop” that they use for patrols.

“Strange that no one has a problem with Argent’s son having magic.”

“It’s not magic-magic. It’s practically parlor tricks. Useful for wards and stuff, but low-grade.”

“Besides, Argent wouldn’t stand in the way if it got out of control.”

“Hell, he’d probably be first in line. Take out the threat before it could hurt anyone else.”

“Hey…” Stiles starts but clams up when their dad walks up.

“Good job out there tonight,” he addresses the room. “Keep your phones on so you can get the alerts in case one of the traps is triggered.”

Stiles drops his gaze to the floor and hopes no one in the pack is still out in the woods tonight.

He pastes on a smile and accepts his dad's clap on the shoulder before turning to Allison when she steps closer.

“What were you saying?” she asks.

“Oh, just that I’ll leave the book out for you, but I’m going to bed,” Stiles tells her with a tired smile.

Allison nods, mouth twitching at the code phrase, and says, “Go get some rest. I’ll be sure to be quiet so I don’t wake you up.”

Stiles waves at everyone and ruffles Liam’s hair on the way out, earning a scowl from his little brother.

He showers and sees a couple of bruises from his scuffle with Derek and adds them to his growing list of injuries, scowling when he sees how swollen his mouth is.

“Bruised cheek, jacked mouth,” he bitches, “really nice looking there, bud.”

He flops into bed and waits, playing Solitaire on his phone.

A little while later, his bedroom door opens a crack and Allison whispers, “Hey.”

Stiles waves her over and she gently shuts the door before walking over. “What’s up?” she asks, face serious.

“I need to talk to you,” Stiles tells her. He leans over and grabs the files and the journal from the nightstand. “And I think you might be really mad at me when you find out I’ve known about this for, like, three days already and didn’t tell you.”

Allison rolls her eyes and holds out her hands. “You’re such a drama queen sometimes,” she chides as she goes over to his desk and clicks the lamp on.

Stiles just shakes his head and says, “Wake me up when you’re done.” He turns off the light on his bedside table and rolls over, falling asleep to the sound of Allison turning pages.

-----

When Allison shakes him awake later, the first things she asks is, “Do you have any weed?”

Stiles snorts and rubs his face.

They go out on the roof, they both get high, and after five minutes of silence, Allison angrily swipes at her eyes.

Stiles doesn’t say anything, just leans his shoulder against hers.

“It’s so fucked up,” she whispers. “Like, why? Why would she do that? Did they do something? Please tell me they did something.”

Stiles huffs a laugh. “It’s pretty fucked up when you’re hoping that someone did something wrong.”

Allison takes a shaky breath and says slowly, “Fifteen people died. I’m not above hoping that someone else got hurt for it to at least mean something.” She shakes her head. “Because it looks like it didn’t. This was fucking senseless.”

“I know, I know.”

Allison bites her lip and asks the same question he’s been asking himself: “Do we talk to Dad about this?”

Stiles shrugs. “I’ve been thinking about it but… I just… I don’t know.” He shrugs again.

She falls silent, no longer crying.

After a minute or two, Stiles blurts, “I ran into the Alpha in the woods tonight.”

Allison snorts, waving at her mouth. “Is he the ‘branch’ that hit you?”

“Maybe.” He smiles when she laughs lowly. “I told him to run.”

She looks at him for a moment, head tilted as she studies him. “He’s our age, right?” She hums when he nods. “Poor guy,” she whispers.

“Yeah.”

Eventually, she sighs and says, “We should go inside.”

“Mmkay,” he agrees.

When they’re settled in Stiles’ bed, Allison says, “We need a plan.”

“For what?”

Her eyes gleam in the scant light. “To find out what happened.”

“And how do we do that?” Stiles imagines them trying to interrogate their dad and has to suppress a shiver at the thought.

“We let the pack befriend us.”

He snorts. “I kind of thought we were already doing that. I mean, it’s not like we’ve exactly been trying to stop them.”

Allison nods. “I know. But now, we really let them. We stop fighting it and we actually try because one of them has to know the truth and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts, it’s the Alpha.”

“Derek,” he mumbles. “Yeah, he might. I think Cora probably knows a lot too.”

“Okay,” Allison says through a yawn, “you work on Scott, get us invited to some more parties, and I’ll try with Lydia.”

Stiles smirks at her. “I’m sure this is going to very difficult for you.”

She rolls her eyes and shoves him. He shoves her back and gets a pillow to the face for his troubles.

“You’re the worst,” he tells her, closing his eyes.

“You love me,” she insists, yawning again.

“Yeah.”

-----

Stiles stays out of school on Friday, gambling that Scott may have done the same thing. He sleeps in and makes himself wait to text Scott until around one.

Hey dude, you at school?

It doesn’t take long to get a reply and Stiles shakes his head, wondering again if this is a good idea.

Scott: I was up most of the night so I stayed home. You?

Same. Woke up at, like, noon.

Scott: Dude, you should come over later. Video games and pizza?

Stiles raises his eyebrows. Allison was right: all they have to do is just not fight the friendships.

Sure.

The first thing Scott says when he opens the door is, “Dude, what happened to your face?”

Stiles rolls his eyes, deflecting, “I was born like this, dude. It’s not polite to point it out.”

Scott laughs, distracted from the bruising and redness, and gestures him inside. “It’s cool man. Crooked smile forever here.” He points at his own face.

“I think it’s charming.”

“Well thanks.” Scott brightens. “Your timing is amazing, by the way. The pizza just got here.”

“Pizza,” Stiles groans.

“Yeaaah. Come on.”

Stiles follows Scott upstairs and they sprawl on the carpet in front of Scott’s television, eating pizza and taking turns shooting zombies.

“Dude,” Scott says, still shooting while Stiles chomps on his fourth slice of pizza, “can I ask you something?”

“Sure but I might not answer you,” Stiles tells him honestly.

“Okay, I respect that.” Scott laughs and shakes his head. “Were you guys out in the woods last night?”

“Yeah.” Stiles chews slowly for a moment, deciding if he wants to expound and wondering if Derek talked to Scott. “We patrolled. It’s pretty par for the course on a full moon when we get to a new area. And," Stiles clears his throat, "they're still looking for the missing kids, so."

Scott looks confused by that. "You haven't told them what you know?"

Stiles raises his eyebrow. "And how would I possibly know anything? I mean, I certainly haven't been associating with anyone from the local pack..."

"Ah, yeah, I guess that would make things complicated."

"You don't know the half of it," Stiles mumbles.

Scott nods pensively and holds out the controller for Stiles when he completes the mission.

Shoving the crust in his mouth, Stiles wipes his hands on his jeans and takes the controller, leaving the checkpoint and running towards the tower where he needs to set up a signal.

Scott leans back on his hands and looks at Stiles for a moment. “So a bunch of us are going to Sinema tonight, if you and Allison want to come.”

“Is that a club or something?” Stiles asks through a mouthful of bread.

“Yeah, dancing and stuff. It’s eighteen and under, so no alcohol.”

“No biggie.” Stiles finishes chewing and adds in a clearer voice, “I’ll text Ally and see if she’s down.”

“Word.” Scott grins, grabs a second controller, and holds it up. “Two player?”

“Hell yes.”

Chapter Text

Stiles gets home right after Allison and Liam do, strolling in and flopping on the couch in the living room. He leans over and snatches a couple of pieces of popcorn from Allison’s bowl and dodges her half-hearted swipe.

“So kids,” he asks through the popcorn, “how was school?”

“Boring, obviously.” Liam glares at him. “And we had to catch a ride with Dad because someone kept the Jeep even though he didn’t even go to school.”

Stiles grins as Allison smiles and makes a so-so gesture with her hand. “My day was fine.”

“Well hey, it’s Friday.” Stiles nudges Liam’s shoulder. “You got a hot date tonight, Tiny Child?”

Liam shushes him and looks toward the kitchen. “Dude, shut up.”

“He already knows,” Allison informs him. “He’s just trying to be chill about it because you’re the youngest and he’s not sure how to handle you growing up.”

Stiles and Liam stare at her and she shrugs.

“What? It’s obvious if you know what to look for.”

“I think Dad is fine with Liam dating,” Stiles scoffs.

“And this is why I’m taking over.” Allison holds her hands out and shrugs. “I see things better than you do.”

Stiles rolls his eyes as Liam laughs. “Oh, shut up.”

Liam stands and shoves Stiles’ legs out of the way. “I’m gonna go get ready. You two can be lame down here.”

When Liam disappears upstairs, Stiles raises his eyebrows at Allison.

“So?” she prompts.

“Party tonight at a place called Sinema.”

She hums, pulling out her phone. “I’ll text Lydia and tell her we’re coming.”

“Leave around ten?”

“Sure.”

Later, when both of them are about to walk out the door, their dad clears his throat from the doorway to the kitchen.

They turn with identical innocent smiles.

Their dad raises one eyebrow, clearly seeing through the show. “And you two are going…?”

“To a party,” Stiles informs him with a grin. “You know, it’s one of those things that high school kids go to when they’re not total losers.”

Allison leans forward and pecks their dad’s cheek. “If I don’t get out of here, I’m going to die of boredom.”

“We’ll be sure to pick up Liam from his date too so you don’t have to give him a ride,” Stiles offers as he grabs his keys from the hook by the door.

“How generous and not at all like you.”

“Please! I love Liam,” Stiles declares, pulling at the hem of Allison’s over-shirt. “But we really do have to go or we’ll be late.”

“Late for a party?” Their dad sighs at their pleading expressions. “Fine, fine. Just be careful. You’re armed?”

Allison nods. “But not enough to get arrested.”

“That’s my girl. Alright,” he waves them on, “have fun. Be back by one.”

“We will,” they call as they leave.

“Oh my god,” Stiles breathes when they get into the Jeep.

“I always feel like he’s interrogating us.” Allison pulls down the visor and checks her eyeliner.

“That’s because he’s always interrogating us,” Stiles informs her as he drives to the address that Scott sent to him earlier.

“It probably wouldn’t feel that way if we weren’t sneaking around,” Allison muses.

“Well, yeah, there’s that.”

They pull up to a club with pulsing music and a sign spelling out Sinema in purple and silvery neon. Standing in line, Stiles presses a hand to his chest to feel the vibration and grins. “God it’s been too long.”

“Maybe you’ll find someone to hook up with,” Allison says.

Stiles crosses his fingers and shakes his hands dramatically. “Just a little make out, that’s all I ask!”

Allison laughs and pulls him forward and they both flash their IDs at the bouncer who waves them in.

It’s loud and dim and there’s scenes from movies flashing all over the walls as beautiful – and scantily clad – people move through the crowd with trays of glowing tubes that might be drinks of some kind.

Stiles spots Scott standing with what he assumes is the rest of the pack, since it’s the group from the lunch table. He holds up his hand and shouts, “Scott!”

“Stiles!” Scott greets as they approach the group, the others falling silent and staring at them.

“Hey man.” He bumps Scott’s fist when he holds it out.

“Glad you could make it.”

Stiles grins. “Wouldn’t miss it.”

Scott grins back and turns to his friends. “Guys, this is Stiles and his sister, Allison.” Allison gives a short wave and a small smile. “Stiles, Allison, this is Boyd, Erica, and Kira.”

“Hey, I know you,” Lydia purrs as she appears and slips an arm around Allison’s waist.

“Hi there,” Allison replies, putting her arm around Lydia’s shoulders.

“Well, no introduction needed here, clearly,” Scott says with a smile. Erica and Boyd smirk and Kira shakes her head with a smile.

“What the hell are they doing here?” Cora demands to know as she strides up to the group, followed by the curly-haired guy.

“Stiles and Allison just got here. I was introducing everyone,” Scott says with a shrug.

Cora growls, “So you just invited these assholes without even asking the rest of us?”

“It’s a club, Cora. Random people show up to clubs all the time,” Scott insists.

Stiles watches the rest of the pack silently shift their gazes to each of them, like they’re watching a tennis match. It’s a little unnerving, how still they are.

Cora growls at Scott, pointing at Stiles and Allison, “But you invited them.”

Stiles, attention back in the argument, tells Cora with his best easy smile, “We’re just here to hang out.”

And to find out why our aunt appears to have murdered your entire family. No big deal.

Cora laughs bitterly. “Well now I’m totally reassured! Let’s braid each other’s hair and be BFFs!” She flips him off then storms off into the crowd. The curly-haired guy gives them a long, appraising look before following Cora.

“Well shit,” Scott mutters. “Sorry about that.”

She definitely knows, Stiles thinks, glancing at Allison who raises her eyebrows back.

“It’s fine, dude.” Stiles claps Scott on the shoulder. “We’re not always the most popular people.”

“And I’m going to go ahead and guess you guys aren’t supposed to hang out with us,” Allison says as she runs her eyes over the rest of the pack.

“You could say that we were warned not to interact with you,” Erica remarks, rolling her dark-lined eyes to show what she thinks of that.

“Pretty sure he did everything except explicitly order us not to,” Kira says with a sweet smile, “but sure, let’s go with that.”

She doesn’t say who he is but Stiles knows. The fricken’ Alpha that’s been haunting Stiles’ dreams.

Allison rolls her eyes too. “If it helps, we’re not really supposed to hang out with you either.”

It’s probably the most all of them will say aloud: they are werewolves and Stiles and Allison are Hunters and they should be enemies.

They all smile though, clearly willing to dance around the subject as long as everything stays peaceful. Erica’s smile is a little more wicked and Lydia’s eyes are dancing and Stiles feels a strange thrill of excitement.

He claps his hands together and smiles. “Well, let’s break the rules.”

-----

Everything’s awesome, lights swirling and music pounding, and Stiles is having a fantastic time. It’s been so long since he’s had fun like this and he manages to find a random stranger to make out with, which is all he wanted anyway.

When it hits twelve-fifteen, Stiles pulls himself away from the beautiful girl and meets Allison so they can say their goodbyes to the pack and head to the mall to get Liam.

“I thought Dad was coming to pick me up,” Liam says as he slides into the backseat of the Jeep. He looks between them and frowns. “You both reek. Where were you?”

“Party at a club,” Stiles tells him as he turns the Jeep toward home. He sniffs his shirt and has to admit that Liam is right. He reeks of strong cologne and fruity perfume from the crowd.

“Dad let you guys go to a party already?” Liam asks with raised eyebrows, voice laced with his disbelief.

“Dad knows we can’t be the weird kids that no one ever sees outside of school. It just draws more attention to us,” Allison says as she grabs a wet wipe from the glove box and starts rubbing lipstick off her cheek. She leans over and wipes at Stiles’ neck. “Your hair’s a lost cause.”

Stiles shrugs and pats at his head. “He probably won’t even notice without black lights.”

Liam sighs. “I hope he doesn’t pull out the black lights.”

“If he does, he’ll have to keep it away from Allison’s neck,” Stiles sing-songs.

Liam makes a disgusted sound and Allison slaps his arm. “Oh be quiet, Liam,” she snaps, “like your face wouldn’t light up like Christmas if Dad aimed one of them at you.”

“I’m not at liberty to disclose anything that may implicate me in any way,” Liam says loftily.

Stiles snorts. “Good luck with that.”

“So are you two officially friends with the pack now, or something?” Liam asks as they pull up to the house at twelve-twenty-seven. “Is that a good idea?”

Stiles shrugs as he cuts the engine. There’s no point in denying it anymore but he still hedges, “I think so. And I don’t know, probably not?”

“I think we’re on the way to establishing a truce,” Allison declares. “I’d like to think so, anyway.”

And maybe, if they play their cards right, they’ll be able to get to the bottom of this mess without anyone else dying.

Chapter Text

On Monday, Lydia deigns to speak to him in Physics, even though it’s just to tell him that there’s a quiz coming up. Stiles grins at her and she rolls her eyes, calling him weird before she turns back around.

Scott claps him on the shoulder on the way to his lunch table, asking if he wants to see a new litter of puppies that someone brought into the vet office. When he sits with the rest of the pack, Erica waves and one corner of Boyd’s mouth lifts in a small smile. Isaac still doesn’t seem like he knows what to think about them but he just shrugs and continues eating.

Derek eyes him in English, like he’s a puzzle to be solved, and Stiles just gives him a short nod and focuses on the lesson. He’s not about to announce that he’s planning on hanging out with Derek’s pack on the regular, though he’s sure Derek has an inkling since he’s obviously not stupid.

Stiles is patient. He’s willing to see how things go before he makes any further moves.

Despite how much he’d like to make some serious moves on the broody Alpha.

The next few weeks fall into a pattern.

Every weekend is spent hanging out with the pack. Whether it’s at a club or the mall or a small bonfire in the woods – where Lydia and Allison disappear and show up a half hour later with mussed hair and swollen lips, both flipping the rest of them off when they whistle and catcall.

Stiles isn’t sure where Derek is while they’re hanging out.

One night, they’re at a house party and Stiles is pouring himself a drink when Erica shows up next to him and grins, flashing her teeth.

“Having fun?” she asks, pushing back her sweat-slick hair.

“Yeah,” he says, then wonders why he’s almost-shouting, since she can surely hear him. A thought occurs to him and he asks, “How can you stand this music?”

“You don’t like EDM?”

“It’s not that.” He grins when Scott ambles over to them and continues, “I mean,” he wiggles his fingers near his ears, “doesn’t it fuck with your hearing?”

“Ohhh.” Erica turns her head and Stiles sees something purple in her ear. “Modified ear plugs. Lydia made them for all of us. We can still hear and it doesn’t damage our ears.”

“Damn, dude, that’s awesome.”

“I know, right?”

Scott adds, “Lydia’s always got some sort of invention she’s working on to help us fly below the radar.”

“Not that it matters if you go flashing your eyes at people,” Stiles reminds him with a smile.

Scott rolls his eyes and shoves at Stiles’ shoulder. “You surprised me. I have amazing control.”

“Now you do. Not so much at first,” Erica counters. “Then again, we all took time to adjust.”

“When did you join the band?”

She laughs at his phrasing. “Year and a half ago. I had epilepsy and it was pretty bad. Derek found me and told me that being a werewolf would cure it.” She holds her hands out and gives a twirl. “Not a seizure since. The only side-effect is that I get furry once a month, but hey, it’s nothing compared to my period.”

Scott wrinkles his nose but Stiles, having a twin sister, just nods. “I feel ya.”

She sticks her tongue out at Scott and slings her arm over Stiles’ shoulders. “Come on, Batman, let’s dance.”

He salutes her. “You got it, Catwoman.”

It’s strange and amazing being friends with the pack.

He and Allison have always been outsiders. They always move into town with the intent of doing their jobs so it puts them in an odd position: do they try to make friends or do they remain slightly apart? How deep do they get with people, knowing they’ll be moving on soon?

With the pack, maybe because they’re a pack, they’re enveloped utterly.

Scott and Erica text Stiles almost constantly. Kira, Lydia, and Erica sweep Allison up and they talk about clothes and books and go shopping. It’s nice, Stiles thinks, that Allison finally has some friends that are girls, since she’s spent most of her life in a house populated by males.

Scott, Boyd, and Stiles spend time reading comics and playing video games. Isaac even shows up for a pizza and video game marathon one Saturday, mumbling something about wanting to have fun too, and Stiles scoots over closer to Boyd to give him room in front of the tv.

Even Cora shows less animosity as time goes on, though she’s still clearly unhappy about them all hanging out. She’s cold and rude, but joins them for a couple bonfires and even a movie night. She always leaves early, Isaac trailing behind her, and things are less tense when she leaves.

In the middle of September, Scott texts Stiles with an address and tells him there’s going to be a black light party at a loft. It takes less than a second after Allison reads the message for her to confirm that they’re absolutely going.

Getting past their dad is easy now: he’s used to the three of them going out every weekend – yes, Liam has been out with his girlfriend Hayden and his friends just as much as Stiles and Allison have been with the pack.

Stiles and Allison drop Liam off at the laser tag slash bowling alley and Allison puts the address to the party into her phone. It takes them almost twenty minutes to get there – near the outskirts of Beacon Hills proper – and they pull up to a tall building on a side street lined with cars.

“Hey,” Allison says as they get out of the Jeep, pointing to the top floor of the building.

Stiles looks up and sees barely-there flashes of light. He grins at her. “Bet if we had better ears we could hear the bass from here.”

She grins back and jerks her head toward the front door. “Let’s go.”

When they get to the top floor, after a particularly disconcerting ride in the ancient elevator, they can feel the music in their bodies. Stiles hums and bounces a little on his toes. Allison grins at his happy sound and bangs on the giant metal door.

The door slides open and reveals a beautiful dark-haired guy without a shirt. Hello.

“Come on in!” the guy says, turning with a bright smile – and dimples mmm – and waving them inside.

“Thanks,” Stiles calls. “Do you know if Scott is here?”

“McCall?” the guy asks and Stiles nods. “Yeah, he was by the booze, last I saw him.”

“Thanks.” Stiles shoots the guy a thumbs up. The guy shakes his head a little before shutting the door again and moving off into the crowd in the other direction.

“Smooth,” Allison shouts next to him.

He glares at her and moves around the edge of the room to get nearer to the bar set up. She latches onto his belt loop, keeping hold of him as they move through dancing limbs.

When they finally find the pack, they wave and are greeted with a chorus of cheers and raised arms.

“You’re too dressed,” Erica tells Stiles with a wave at herself – crop-top – and Boyd – shirtless, both with designs painted on their skin.

Stiles shrugs and tugs off his t-shirt, tucking it into his back pocket so it trails down like a tail. He holds out his arms. “I am your canvas.”

“Awesome,” Kira chirps gleefully, grabbing one of his arms while Erica takes the other one and they drag him toward a table covered in paint buckets and brushes with a mirror propped against the wall.

He watches as they paint his chest, back, and upper arms with swirling designs of neon blue and green and purple. Kira underlines his cheekbones with two lines of blue on one side and one line of green on the other. Erica grabs a handful of purple and puts her hand through his hair. When they’re done, they both step back to admire their handy work.

“You look perfect,” Kira decrees happily.

“Very hot,” Erica agrees, tossing her brush to the table and wiping her purple hand against her side, leaving a smear of color on her waist.

Lydia pulls Allison up next to him, tugs at Allison’s tank top, and orders firmly, “Off.” The grin his sister gives the red-head has him gagging so he turns his attention back to Erica and Kira.

“Let’s dance!” He jerks his head toward the floor and they meet Scott and Boyd and the cute guy from the door – whose name is Danny – and they all start dancing and laughing, some of the pack holding cups and bottles.

He’s aware of the wolfsbane mix that Lydia and Danny devised so that the pack can get drunk and he avoids taking sips of their drinks after the first terrible taste he got one night at Scott’s house.

“Sorry,” Scott had laughed when he sputtered and almost threw up. “Forgot you can get drunk on regular stuff. Here, have a beer.”

Around midnight, Stiles runs into Liam at the drink table. Liam glances over at him then does a double take, his eyes wide.

Stiles scowls, aware that he’s a little drunk, and demands, “What the hell are you doing here, Small Child?”

Liam scowls at him. “Don’t embarrass me,” he hisses. “I’m here with Hayden. She wants me to meet some of her friends.”

“Dude, you better not drink anything. Dad’s probably gonna be waiting up for us, no matter what we told him, and if he smells booze on you, mine and Allison’s asses are grass.” Stiles informs him, grabbing a bottle of water from the table and checking the seal.

“I’m not gonna drink anything,” Liam protests.

Stiles rolls his eyes. Yeah, like he believes that.

“Just be ready to leave at twelve forty-five. We all have to be home by curfew,” Stiles tells him and makes his way back to where Kira’s leaning in an alcove. “Here you go.” He hands the bottle of water to her.

“Thanks.” She gives him a grateful smile, cracking the lid off and taking a deep gulp.

“Everyone else dancing again?” he asks, leaning next to her and observing the people closest to them.

“Yeah. I just needed a bit more down time.” She shakes her head. “It’s a Kitsune thing. The rest of the pack all has higher tolerances than I do.”

He files that away for later and grins at her. “That’s okay. You gonna be good here?”

She grins back. “I’ll be fine.”

“Then I’ll catch you in a bit.” He moves through the crowd, intending to catch up with the rest of the group.

A new song starts and the rest of the dim lights go out, leaving only the lowly flashing black lights. Stiles hops a little with the crowd until the beat drops and the music shifts into a sinuous, twisting beat that he can’t help but emulate as he moves through the crowd of heaving bodies.

Before he gets too far, someone snags his hips, pulling him close to a muscular torso. Stiles obliges the faceless person, writhing along with them until the stranger growls against his neck, “Despite my many warnings, you seem very close with my pack members.”

Stiles grins, wondering if Derek has any idea what he’s just gotten himself into.

Chapter Text

“Well, well, it would seem I’m close with all of you, Sourwolf.” Stiles boldy hooks his arm around the back of the Alpha’s neck.

“‘Sourwolf’?” The tone is angry but the hands gripping Stiles’ hips stay gentle.

And Stiles doesn’t want gentle hands, he wants mussed up hair and marks on his collarbones and stubble burn.

Oh god, stubble burn. His dreams have gotten very detailed lately and he’s tired of pushing it out of his mind.

“It’s what I’m calling you,” he says and tilts his head, bearing the long, pale line of his throat and rolls his body to the song, “since you’ve got such a wonderful scowl on your face whenever you look at me.”

A growl vibrates against his back and the gentle hold on his hips becomes hard, small pricks of pressure from claws make his breath catch in his throat. One of the hands moves, presses high on his stomach while the other hooks into the waistband of his jeans.

The Alpha runs his lips over the shell of Stiles’ ear, down to the lobe. “And when do I look at you?” he breathes, before nipping at the skin at the hinge of Stiles’ jaw.

Stiles will deny it later, but he moans lowly, the pressure of teeth and the heat of Derek pressed against him making him crazy.

“You should leave,” Derek murmurs before pulling his mouth away.

“Aw, why? I was just starting to have fun,” Stiles teases, turning to look at Derek.

The Alpha werewolf looks like he might have been having fun too, his smile a white crescent in the flashing black light. “Because I’m kicking everyone out.”

“Oh shit.” Stiles grins at him. “Is this your loft? Did the kiddies throw a party while Big Bro was away?”

“Something like that.” Derek runs his eyes over Stiles, the colored paint from Stiles’ skin bright against his black shirt. “You and your siblings really should stay away from us. Nothing good can come from you guys socializing with us.”

“Siblings?” Stiles shakes his head. “It’s just me and my sister, dude. She’s all about Lydia right now, but you try telling her to stay away. I’m sure it’ll work out well for you.”

“Just your sister?” Derek smirks at him. “Then why did I see Liam kissing one of my betas earlier?”

Stiles stares at him, deciding that he’s telling the truth. “Of course he’s dating one of your betas. That’s wonderfully convenient,” he resolves aloud, though Derek won’t understand how ridiculous it truly is to him. “How do I know your pack isn’t intentionally seducing all of us for nefarious reasons?”

“All of you? Who’s been trying to seduce you, Stiles?” Derek asks, all faux innocence, seeming to be completely unaffected at how close they’re still standing and the palpable tension that’s stretching between them.

Stiles narrows his eyes at the Alpha. He opens his mouth to reply when he hears a terrified scream.

He and Derek whip their heads in the same direction in unison. When Derek snarls at him, he realizes he’s got his wolfsbane knife in his hand on reflex.

“Oh calm down, it isn’t for you,” Stiles snaps, making his way toward the sound, pushing past other people rudely.

Stiles is almost to the other side of the room when he hears a giant crash and sees the DJ standing there staring down mournfully at the remains of his equipment.

Derek jumps up on a chair and bellows, “Everyone. Get. Out.”

Stiles grabs onto the metal staircase as people start stampeding out the door. He feels like he’s caught in a stream and tries not to cut anyone as the people flee. Once it’s clear enough, he whistles sharply and shouts, “Ally!”

An answering whistle sounds and he jerks his head up, dashing up the spiral staircase and toward a ladder that looks like it leads to the roof. When he pulls himself up, he smells blood and bile and his stomach roils.

There are at least four bodies sprawled over the roof but he’s hyper-focused on the one that Allison’s kneeling next to, the familiar sneakers making Stiles’ heart pound.

No no no, please no…

Lydia, wide-eyed, stares at him as he clears the ladder and sprints over.

“What the fuck happened?” he shouts as he slides to Liam’s side. His baby brother is ghost-white and the bottom of his shirt over his stomach is saturated with blood. “Hey, Li, hey, look at me.” He pulls his shirt from his pocket and wads it up, holding it against his brother’s stomach.

Liam grins up at him, cheeks flushed with blood on his teeth, and says, “That was the biggest dragon I’ve ever seen. Totally kicked its ass though, did you see? I’m amazing.”

“Dragon?” Stiles looks up, glancing at the other bodies but they’re not familiar to him.

One of the bodies is riddled with knives, a scorch mark running up its neck and face and framing its staring, all-white eyes. The body’s skin is riddled with tattoo-like blue lines that probably just looked like paint under the black lights.

“Djinn,” Stiles mutters like a curse.

“There’s no way to know how badly he’s been jinxed,” Allison says softly, though her hand is clenched around Liam’s like a vice. “Even if that were the only problem.”

“Did you know I could fly?” Liam asks them seriously and they both shake their heads.

Scott pokes his head out of the access hole, eyes glowing gold as the smell of blood hits him. He’s followed by Erica and Cora, both of them moving to check on the other bodies.

“We found another body downstairs, in a closet,” Scott says lowly as he approaches. “Looks like it was alone and very hungry.”

“I’m going to touch a cloud,” Liam informs them. “What do you think they taste like?”

“Is this something that happens a lot?” Allison asks harshly, ignoring the rambling. “Kids just getting attacked at parties? Bodies everywhere?”

Scott gives a helpless shrug. “It’s Beacon Hills.”

“It’s kind of par for the course here,” Erica notes as she pokes at the djinn with her boot.

“Like you can even talk about dead kids,” Cora mutters bitterly under her breath.

Stiles has to stop himself from flinching when Allison looks at Cora with hard eyes.

Liam wheezes, drawing the twins’ attention before Allison can say anything. “Mom is here.” His voice is small. “She’s still so beautiful.”

“Yeah, bud, I bet she is,” Stiles chokes out as Allison lets out a small sob that she tries to keep in by pressing her hand to her mouth.

Derek’s suddenly standing at Stiles’ elbow. “Hayden said Liam shoved her inside when they found the djinn up here, took the hit that was aimed at her.”

Said werewolf-girl is clutching Lydia’s arm, her face wet with tears and her eyes shining gold.

Stiles grunts and watches his baby brother’s eyelids lower as his breathing gets more labored. Allison clenches harder on his hand and shrinks away from the hand that Erica goes to place on her shoulder.

A part of Stiles is proud of Liam, of course he is, because his brother is a kick-ass Hunter, but he’s also pissed because Liam knows better. He knows better than to put himself in danger.

They’ve already lost enough and for it to be him they lose next…

Someone nudges his shoulder and Stiles looks up to see Derek giving him a long, knowing look, his eyes flashing red.

It makes his stomach drop, but Stiles understands what’s being offered.

He knows the pack, but only sort of, and this is only the second time he’s actually spoken to Derek at all, but...  but he’s not going to lose Liam. Not like this. He doesn’t care what his dad will say, what anyone else will think if they find out.

“Do it,” Stiles rasps. “Please.”

“He could die,” Derek tells him, not unkindly. "Sometimes the Bite doesn't take."

"Please," Allison echoes Stiles, “please try.”

“You cannot be fucking serious,” Cora says derisively. “You’re not actually going to give a fucking Argent Hunter the Bite?” She strides forward but Scott catches her arm. She growls but can't shake him off, snarling, “It’s insane, Derek.”

Derek ignores Cora’s protests. He doesn’t look away from Stiles, his kaleidoscopic gaze searching. He apparently finds what he’s looking for because he nods once, sharply. “His side will be the best.”

Cora shouts, “You’re fucking suicidal, Derek. I swear to God!” She turns and snaps her jaws at Scott who growls back, turning her body and pushing her toward Isaac.

Stiles ignores Cora's continued protests. He removes his bloody shirt from Liam’s stomach, dropping it to the side with a wet plop. He gets his knife and cuts away the side of Liam’s shirt while Allison helps him pull up the front. They both scoot closer to Liam’s head, Allison reaching out and smoothing her hand over Liam’s hair.

Derek settles on his knees next to Allison. His eyes turn first, fully shifting to a deep crimson, followed by the rest of his face changing. He opens his mouth, revealing his sharp teeth, and gives Stiles one last look, the thoughtful eyes strange in what’s supposed to be a monstrous face.

Stiles nods again and it takes a lot for him to keep still as Derek leans over the ruin of Liam’s stomach to dig his teeth into the oddly unmarked skin below his ribs.

Stiles and Allison hold tight to Liam’s hands as his spine bows and he lets out a terrible groan.

After a moment, Derek pulls back, wipes Liam’s blood from his mouth, and says calmly as the red fades from his eyes, “Now we wait.”

-0-0-0-

Derek watches Stiles from a chair in the corner of his bedroom.

The Hunter sits next to his brother’s bed and stares at the floor, shirtless, still-bloody hands clenched tightly together. His mouth is moving but whatever he’s saying is too quiet for Derek to pick up, even with his enhanced hearing.

He should tell Stiles that he’s confident the Bite has already taken. He can feel Liam’s presence in the pack ties, can already pick up on his new Beta’s heartbeat – strong and sure.

But a part of him is loath to interrupt whatever Stiles is doing. It looks like he’s chanting something and it might be the only thing holding him together at this point.

Derek glances over the landing into the living room – now cleaned up, with all the furniture placed where it’s supposed to be – and sees Allison leaning back against Lydia on the couch, neither of them speaking as Lydia runs her hands through Allison’s hair.

Hayden is sitting on the window seat, completely silent and staring through the glass, though Derek would bet she’s not actually seeing anything that’s going on outside.

The rest of the pack is sprawled all over the place, all silent or incredibly quiet, still covered in paint and smelling like alcohol.

“Thank you,” Stiles whispers just loud enough to be heard.

Derek’s eyes flick back and Stiles is looking at him.

“Thank you,” the Hunter repeats, voice still soft. “Cora was right. You had no reason to agree to Biting him.” He looks at his hands. “I know there’s been some nasty shit in the past between our families. And something tells me that I’m still not getting the whole picture, despite the fact that I read the official report and some journals…” His hands tighten and he shakes his head. “Anyway, what I’m trying to say is: I know you had no reason to save him, but I’m really grateful that you did.”

Derek narrows his eyes, imagining the things that Stiles may have found in official Hunter files. He thinks about his reply before he speaks, wanting to be careful, even now. “He didn’t deserve to die, even if he is an Argent.”

“He is an Argent, the youngest.” Stiles is suddenly intent on eye contact. “Still, he’s killed before.” He doesn’t specify what or whom Liam’s killed but he doesn’t have to.

“His eyes will only be blue if he’s taken the life of an innocent.” Derek shrugs. “Besides, he wouldn’t be the first wolf with blue eyes in this pack.”

He can practically see the wheels turning in Stiles’ head. “I’ve read… well, it’s not important. I don’t care what color his eyes are when he shifts.” Stiles reaches out and brushes his hand over Liam’s forehead. “I’m just glad he’ll be opening his eyes again at all.”

It makes Derek think of the way he used to watch Cora sleep when she was a baby. Dropping his gaze to the living, he sees Isaac texting and figures he’s probably talking to Cora who’s hiding in her room at the moment.

He sighs softly, rubbing his forehead.

He’s got a lot of long talks ahead of him, and not just with Cora.

Because he, Derek Hale, gave the Bite to the youngest of the Argent Hunters.

He knows it’s just his imagination, but he almost feels like he can hear Laura laughing at him, saying, “Nice going, little bro.”

He sighs again, turning back to watch his new Beta sleep, wondering how he keeps getting himself into these situations.

Chapter Text

Stiles watches as Allison climbs into the back of the Jeep, joking with Liam that he only gets shotgun this one time.

Liam rolls his eyes but he smiles at Allison before sitting down and shutting the door gently.

“He may have some issues with his new senses,” Derek says from Stiles’ left.

Stiles doesn’t turn around, watching as Hayden speaks to Liam through the window, replying, “Anything I can do to help him?”

“Give him something to focus on. He’ll need an anchor.” Derek sighs and Stiles glances over. “He’s going to need training and time with the pack.”

That could cause some problems, but... “We’ll see what we can do,” Stiles assures him.

Derek’s eyebrow quirks. “What will you tell your dad?”

Stiles smirks, despite how tired he is, and tells him, “The same things we told him when we were just hanging out with your pack members, I guess.” He claps Derek on the shoulder and adds, “He’s not suspicious yet so we should be good.”

Derek looks uncomfortable at the casual touch or maybe the thought of Stiles’ dad, so Stiles drops it and changes the subject.

“Alright, well, we appreciate your hospitality. Thanks for letting us use your showers. I need to get him home and think of an excuse as to why we’re still out.” Stiles salutes Derek jauntily and heads to the Jeep, smiling at the way Derek rolls his eyes.

He manages to keep his smile all the way home, all the way through explaining that they were out doing an impromptu training session, and through everyone gathering in his room to relax.

When Liam falls asleep across the bottom of Stiles’ bed a few minutes later, Stiles loses the expression and the upbeat attitude, dropping his head into his hands.

“He’ll be okay,” Allison says softly.

“You sure about that?” Stiles looks at her where she’s propped against the headboard, running her eyes over their brother. “What if we fucked up, Ally?”

She flicks her eyes to him. “Would you rather he was dead?”

God, no.” Stiles swallows hard. “But… we practically painted a target on his back.”

She sighs, taking a moment and gathering her thoughts. She eventually responds: “I think that it was the right thing to do at the time, even if it wasn’t the easy thing. This is going to change his entire life, his entire future, but… at least he’s still got a chance at having one.”

Stiles huffs a humorless laugh. “Not if people find out.”

“Yeah,” Allison nods, her eyes tight with worry, “but that’s what he has us for.”

Stiles nods back and leans next to his sister, closing his eyes.

When they all wake up, Stiles makes sure that their dad is gone – a note left on the counter saying he’s gone for dinner with John – before jerking his head toward the back door. “Let’s go test your new superpowers.”

Liam rolls his eyes but follows Stiles and Allison outside. “Now what?”

Allison chucks a shoe at Liam who dodges it and scowls. “That was that for?”

“A pre-test of your reflexes,” she says and throws the other shoe, a water bottle, and a hand-held gardening spade. He catches it all and she throws a staff next.

Liam catches it too and settles his footing, ready for her next attack. He staggers when Stiles comes flying at him from the side and clangs another staff against his ankle.

“Fucking ow,” Liam shouts, swinging his staff and only barely scraping Stiles’ side.

“Well, he’s as quick as he usually is,” Stiles remarks, dancing away with a smirk.

Liam grits his teeth and blinks rapidly, his hold on the staff tightening.

“How you feeling?” Allison asks, her eyes sharp as they take in every nuance of Liam’s stance.

“It’s a little… loud,” Liam whispers hoarsely, his nose wrinkling.

“That would be your new and improved hearing.” Stiles smacks his staff against one of the brick stones in the walkway and Liam flinches. “How’s that sound?”

“Loud, you fucker,” Liam snaps, his breathing speeding up. “I just said that!”

Stiles skips around Liam in circles and taunts, “I think it sounds like you’re going to have some control issues.” He starts whistling an annoying song and snapping his fingers.

Liam growls, actually fucking growls, and his staff creaks with the force of his grip. He looks like he’s about to launch himself at Stiles.

“Liam,” Allison barks, her voice low but commanding.

Liam’s eyes immediately snap to her, the color flickering from blue to gold and back again.

“I want you to do what I do.” She puts one hand to her chest and breathes in and out, pausing for a few seconds between inhales and exhales. “Like me, Liam. Come on.”

Liam stares at her, eyes wider than normal and breath ragged. It takes a moment, but he does what Allison does and eventually his hands start to loosen.

“That’s good, exactly like that,” Allison encourages. “Keep going, a few more, okay?”

Liam nods and keeps going until he closes his eyes and drops to his knees in the grass.

“Well,” Stiles says as he drops into the grass next to Liam, “this is going to be harder than I thought. I'm having fun, though, so that's good.”

Liam glares at him and throws himself on top of Stiles, knocking the air out of him as they tussle playfully, all the aggression gone from Liam’s shoulders and back.

Allison watches them for a while before throwing herself on top of them and winning by pinning Stiles underneath Liam.

“Two against one, no fair!” Stiles protests but he doesn’t care. He’s mostly just thinking about how fucking hard it’s going to be to help their brother over this hurdle.

“All’s fair in food and sport,” Liam declares, the modification something that they’ve been saying for years.

Allison flops over on the grass and announces, “Dibs on first shower.”

Both boys groan as she gleefully hops up and runs into the house.

When they’re all clean and in Stiles’ room again, Stiles and Allison share a look. She nods and he unlocks his desk drawer and pulls out the information about Kate and the Hale fire.

He hands the bundle to Liam and says, “Read this. Then we need to talk.”

Liam gives him a strange look but glances at Allison and takes the stuff from Stiles. “Is this another test of my new powers?”

“Ah, not quite. Just something that we think you should know about,” Allison tells him.

He shrugs and opens the folder, settling down to read.

Allison and Stiles occupy themselves by playing cards while Liam reads, ignoring him when he looks over, clearly confused. He needs to finish it all before they talk to him.

Eventually, Liam closes everything and shoves it a few inches away. He turns haunted blue eyes on them and whispers, “It was the whole family.”

Allison nods, puts her cards back in the deck, and reaches out to run her hand over Liam’s hair.

Kids, Stiles thinks as he cleans up, the elderly, human pack members…

Liam lets Allison hug him but doesn’t say anything else, his eyes narrowed as he clearly starts piecing things together.

After a while, Stiles suggests into the silence: “We should go get pizza and gorge ourselves.”

Liam gives him a scandalized look. “How can you think about eating after reading that?”

“Because he’s a bottomless pit.” Allison pokes Stiles in the stomach. “But he’s also brilliant, because I’m starving and you probably are too, despite anything else. You’re gonna be burning a lot more calories than before. Let’s go.”

When they get into the Jeep, Liam leans forward from the back seat. “Do you think…” He trails off, biting his lip, even though he knows they can talk in the Jeep, like they always do.

“What?”

“Do you think Dad was involved?” he asks, his voice small.

Stiles wishes he could tell Liam that their Dad would never do something like that… but he can’t. “Honestly, I don’t know if he’s got the full scope of things. His name isn’t mentioned in the journals, but he could have been there.”

“Plus Aunt Kate sent the journal to him, so who knows,” Allison adds. “I’ve been thinking about it but I don’t really remember that year very well. I think we were in the middle of training.”

“Fuck,” Liam hisses. “This is really bad.”

“Language,” Allison mumbles, toying with the end of her braid.

“Well, regardless of anything else, Cora definitely remembers,” Stiles says as he navigates the streets of downtown.

“And Derek, obviously.” Allison looks back at Liam. “Remember how we were trying to establish a sort of truce?”

Liam nods.

“We planned to befriend the pack to figure out what really happened.”

“And once you found out if it was true or not?”

Stiles lets out a breath and glances at Allison. “We’d seek justice?” he asks, shrugging.

“You guys are ridiculous sometimes,” Liam informs them, shaking his head and turning the conversation in a more serious direction. “Well, whatever else happens now, I doubt we’ll get any information from Cora.”

“Why not? You maybe could. After all, you’re part of her pack now.”

Liam rolls his eyes. “Yeah, well, if Aunt Kate murdered her family, I don’t think that she’s gonna see it that way.” He sighs. “She’s probably gonna try to kill me and make it look like an accident.”

“Not if she kills Stiles first,” Allison reassures him.

“Thanks, Ally, you’re the best,” Stiles drawls as he pulls into a parking spot at the best pizza place in town.

She dimples at him. “Just stating facts. You’re the most annoying, out of the three of us.”

“Just because something is true, doesn’t mean you have to say it out loud,” he says, putting his arm over her shoulder.

She snags Liam’s arm and sticks her tongue out at Stiles.

The three of them walk into the restaurant and see several of the pack have taken over the rounded back booth that’s big enough for ten people.

“Yo, Stiles!” Scott shouts almost instantly, raising his hand and waving at them with a smile.

“What up, Scotty?” Stiles calls back, pasting a half-smile on his face and sauntering his siblings over.

“Wanna join us?” Kira asks. “There’s plenty of room.” Isaac half-smiles and Boyd nods, both of them engrossed in their pizza but seemingly fine with them sitting.

Allison takes the invitation first, sliding in next to Kira and complimenting her necklace. Stiles gestures for Liam to slide in the other side before him.

When Liam gets settled, Scott claps him on the shoulder and smiles at him warmly. “How you feeling?” he asks, his dark eyes sincere.

“Ah, a little strange,” Liam offers, eyes flicking to his siblings then back to Scott.

“That’s natural,” Scott assures him. “When you’ve gotten more practice in, it’s easier to manage. We’ll help you.”

“Yeah,” Stiles chimes in, “Derek mentioned something about training.”

Scott nods. “We train for a couple hours on the weekends and sometimes during the week.” He pauses, tapping his fingers on the table. “You two can come along, if you want.” He gestures at Stiles and Allison. “See what we do and get some ideas so that you can help Liam too.”

Stiles blinks, a little taken aback. “Is that okay? I mean, it wouldn’t be weird for you guys?”

Isaac and Boyd look a bit uncomfortable with the thought but Kira just smiles and shakes her head. “I think Scott’s right: it’ll help if you guys know what to say and do if Liam gets overwhelmed. For werewolves, the first month can be really difficult.”

“For werewolves,” Stiles prompts.

Kira smiles. “I was born the way I am. Maybe a better way to say it is it can be difficult for bitten werewolves.”

“We’re training tomorrow, around noon. I’ll text you the address,” Scott says, pulling out his phone and tapping away at it like the decision’s been made.

And, essentially, it is.

Scott’s been pulling them into the pack since the second he and Stiles started talking about superheroes at dinner. The rest of the pack, excluding Cora, have been slowly reeling them in too. It shouldn't surprise him anymore.

Stiles smiles and raises his hand at the passing server, getting her attention.

She ambles over and asks, "What can I do for you?"

“Can I get three waters, two meat lovers pizzas, one mushroom and black olive pizza, and a veggie calzone with no peppers?”

"Sure thing." The girl nods, scribbles the order in a pad, and strolls off.

Stiles turns back to the table to see everyone smiling. “Hope you guys are still hungry.”

"Word to the wise," Isaac says, half to Stiles and half to Liam, "we're always hungry."

Chapter Text

“You guys have been really dumb lately.”

The rest of the pack grumbles over their breakfasts. The thick smell of maple syrup isn’t enough to cover the smell of indignance and frustration wafting off of them.

Cora chews a bit of pancake and points her fork, emphasizing her words. “Look, all I’m saying is: you guys start hanging out with the Hunters full time, then two weeks later, Derek decides it’s a good idea to turn one of them.”

Scott growls under his breath and Derek holds up his hand, gesturing for Cora to continue speaking. She pushes her empty plate away and start to pace in the circle of chairs and couches in the loft’s living room as the rest of the pack looks on.

This is the way pack discussions work: he hears everyone’s piece and then makes his decisions based off of the collective voice of the pack combined with his own experience. The choices he makes don’t always vibe well with all the pack members but he’s doing his best and they know that, despite anything else.

After a moment, Cora throws her arms up and exclaims, “I don’t really have anything else to add other than I think you’re all fucking stupid for getting distracted by these Hunters just because they’re our age and like video games and some of you can’t think with your heads instead of your dicks.”

Lydia sighs and continues to flick through the tome in front of her.

“Yeah, yeah, Princess, I mean you too. You didn’t have to partner with her in French class.” She turns and points at Hayden and Mason. “You two didn’t have to volunteer to show Liam around school.” She whirls on Scott and Derek. “And you two. What the hell is it about that skinny, Bambi look-a-like that’s got you two so twisted?”

Derek raises his eyebrows, not wanting to answer – partially because he’s not sure if he can deny anything convincingly enough.

In the back of his mind, he hasn’t stopped thinking about how Stiles’ body felt against his, the lights flashing, the low moan…

Derek is knocked from his thoughts by Scott snapping, “Jesus, Cora, if you’d take one fucking minute to get to know them, then you’d understand. They’re just teenagers, like us.”

“But they’re not like us!” She squeezes her fists together in clear exasperation. “They kill people just because of what they are!”

“How can you know that?” Scott demands, staying in his seat, though it’s clearly an effort. “What if someone assumed you were a murderer just because you’re a werewolf?”

“They do!” she shouts. “That’s literally who they are!”

They don’t!” he shouts back. “Not Stiles or Allison or Liam!”

“How do you know that? How do you know they’re not going to kill us when we let our guard down? How can you possibly know that?!”

Scott stares at her before saying gently, “I don’t know that.” He puts his plate aside, finally standing and facing her. “But I do know that we have to trust our instincts. And I get it, it sounds dumb, but I feel like we can trust them.”

Cora stares at Scott, confusion twisting her features, and states, “The Argents already killed my family before. I don’t want them to do it again.”

“I can’t promise you that, but I can promise that we’ll be as safe as we can.” Scott pulls her in for a hug, propping his chin on her head and looking at Derek. His eyes are large, seeking some reassurance.

Derek looks at the rest of the pack: Boyd and Erica watching silently, Hayden with her arms crossed angrily, Mason staring at his feet, Isaac biting his fingernails, Kira pursing her lips like she’s thinking of saying something, and Lydia still flicking through her book.

“I made the decision to give Liam the Bite because I know that he didn’t deserve to die just because he’s an Argent,” he says to all of them. “I’m not sure if it was the right thing to do, but it felt like it at the time. I know that this adds a whole new level to the shit we’re dealing with right now and it’s going to be a lot to adjust to: a new pack member who’s also a Hunter.”

Isaac mutters, “It’s really close to the full moon, Derek.”

He rubs his forehead. “I’m aware of that.”

“Like, it’s next week.”

“Yeah, Isaac,” Derek replies, trying to keep from snapping, “I know.”

“Are we going to have to chain him up?” Erica asks, rubbing at her forehead and likely remembering how hard her first full moon was.

“I don’t know. Maybe.” Derek taps his fingers on his knee. “My hope is that we can help him through it at the warehouse and then next full moon, we can take him out in the Preserve.”

“What’s gonna happen when his dad expects him to Hunt on the full moon but he’s not around?” Isaac asks.

Lydia drawls, “They’ll think of something.”

“I feel like relying on Allison and Stiles to help keep our pack safe is a really bad idea,” Cora states, turning from Scott’s embrace.

“We’re all quite aware of how you feel about them,” Hayden snaps.

Cora growls, Hayden growls back, Scott tells them both to calm down, and they both start toward each other.

“Hey,” Boyd says, and everyone falls silent, Cora and Hayden freezing, “what’s done is done. Lingering on it is only gonna make shit worse. You guys need to chill out.”

Derek gives Boyd a grateful nod and gestures for him to go on.

“Hayden’s not wrong for being glad her boyfriend isn’t dead,” Boyd continues. “And Cora’s not wrong for worrying that the kids of the family that killed hers might be dangerous.” He waves between the two of them. “But whatever the Hunters’ motive for coming to Beacon Hills, you’re not helping by fighting each other.”

“Also, I kind of have a hard time believing that a Hunter would get the Bite on purpose, just to mess with our pack,” Mason adds. He shrugs when they look at him. “Sorry, I just… from what I’ve read, if they want to exterminate our pack, then they’re the kind of Hunters that really hate us. So why would someone do that? Become what they hate the most?”

“I think you underestimate how much hatred someone can have,” Derek tells him. “They’ll do things that make no sense to anyone but themselves.” He sighs and declares, “As for us, we’re going to do the best we can to make sure that Liam doesn’t lose control and that we don’t give the Hunters any reason to come after us.”

“Even though, in olden times, turning a member of a Hunting family was seen as a direct attack,” Lydia announces, raising her gaze to the rest of the pack. “Just FYI.”

“Thank you, Lydia,” Derek simpers, nodding at her and resisting the urge to duct tape her mouth shut.

“Of course, Derek,” she simpers back, her smile soft but her eyes sharp.

He sighs and says, “Alright, everyone can go. I’ll see you guys tonight and we’ll train in the Preserve tomorrow morning.”

-----

Derek is a bit confused when Stiles’ Jeep pulls up where the pack is meeting for training on Sunday morning. Then he shakes his head at himself – Liam would have to get to there somehow and it’s not like his dad would drop him off.

But when Stiles and Allison also get out of the Jeep and start walking toward them, Derek is more than a bit confused.

“Hey,” Stiles greets, hands shoved in his pockets, anxiety curling in the air around him. “So, ah, Scott invited us last night to come observe.”

“Did he now?” Derek gives Scott a look, raising his eyebrow when Scott shrugs with an innocent face.

“Is that okay?” Allison asks. Her mouth twists and she says, “I know it’s not ideal, but we’d like to be able to see what we can do to help Liam the best we can.”

Derek gets it – they’re looking out for their little brother. But he feels like it’s gonna be a shit show when Cora finds out.

Plus, the idea of Hunters watching his pack mates still makes his skin crawl, even if he can concede that the youngest Argents are more than a little different than most of their family.

Stiles and Liam walk over and start talking to the pack members that are there. Allison spreads out a blanket and sits on it cross-legged, pulling out a notebook and what looks like a Social Studies textbook.

She shrugs when Derek gives her a curious look. “I’ve been a little distracted, haven’t finished my homework.”

Derek nods, offering, “I still have to finish reading four chapters for English.”

Before she can reply, Cora appears from the woods with Boyd following behind her. Boyd just walks to join the rest of the pack and Cora eyes the Hunters.

Derek braces himself for an explosion but instead, he gets a scornful eye-roll and Cora starts preparing for the training by setting things up.

Derek is relieved, turning to Allison and asking, “How’s Liam's anger?”

“Not too terrible,” Allison answers. “Honestly, Liam had some pretty bad anger issues when he was younger. But we got them worked out.”

“Beat them out of him?” Cora suggests as she walks over to pick up a coil of climbing rope.

Allison smiles. “Actually, despite all appearances, Stiles has always been really good with Liam. Whenever he’d get really upset, Stiles would distract him.”

At that moment, Liam growls and starts chasing a cackling Stiles around the grass.

“See,” Allison gestures. “Granted, it’s probably gonna hurt more when they wrestle now.” She doesn’t sound concerned about that at all, just shrugging and watching her brothers with a happy expression.

“Oookay…” Cora mutters, looking vaguely creeped out. “I’m just gonna…” She points to the pack and walks away.

Derek huffs a laugh and Allison winks at him, turning back to her work. He clears his throat, slightly uncomfortable with bonding with her. He shouts, “Alright, everyone line up. Let’s show Liam how this is done.”

-0-0-0-

Monday is cake – Stiles and Allison watch Liam closely but he’s totally normal and doesn’t show the slightest sign of anything odd.

On Tuesday, Liam seems to be fine, perhaps a bit jumpier due to his hearing, but otherwise okay. He gets through the school day without a single incident. They’re optimistic that maybe Liam’s first full moon won’t be so bad.

But on Wednesday, Liam is short-tempered and wild-eyed, practically growling over their waffles and eggs, his spine stiff with tension.

Allison puts her hand to his forehead and frowns at how hot he is.

“It’s too soon,” Stiles complains as he gets up and walks over to Liam’s chair. “I thought he’d be okay but he hasn’t had enough time to adjust.”

“He’ll be fine,” Allison reasons, though she bites her lip.

He’s right here,” Liam gripes, ducking back from Allison’s hand. “I’ll be okay. I just…” He flexes his fingers, like he’s not sure what to do with them. “I need to hit something.”

“Okay…” Stiles wisely takes a step back. “Let’s text Scott and see what he recommends.”

“We may have to stay home the next couple of days.”

Liam shakes his head. “We have to go to school. If I miss too many days, Coach will bench me.”

“Sports, of course that’s what you’re worried about.” Stiles doesn’t look up from texting as he asks, “Do you really think you’re gonna make it through a whole school day like that?”

Liam doesn’t answer and Stiles glances up to see a mulish scowl on his face.

“I’m not actually trying to be a dick this time,” Stiles tells him. “I just want to make sure you’re okay.”

“Well, most of the time you’re a prick, so it’s hard to tell when you’re being sincere,” Liam shoots back.

Stiles just nods and says, “Fair.” He glances down when his phone vibrates. “Scott asked if you’ve picked an anchor yet.”

Liam sighs and rubs his face. “I guess, sorta.”

“Then, you just think about it, right?” Allison asks. “Focus on it?”

Stiles really wants to ask what Liam’s anchor is but he bites his tongue. “Scott also said that if that isn’t working, a heavy workout or run could also do the trick.” He snaps his fingers. “We could set up a work out area in the basement.”

“And we can do some stuff with you. Do a workout and then you’ll just be a little late, instead of missing the whole day.”

Liam sighs and nods. “Okay. Let’s do it.”

So they set up the meager gym equipment they have in one corner of the basement that’s not occupied by Hunter materials and work out. Stiles and Allison cheer Liam on as they add more weight to his bar.

After Liam showers, they get to school just in time for second period. Stiles can barely concentrate the rest of the day, waiting for an SOS text or to hear people screaming.

Thankfully, the rest of the pack is looking out for Liam too. At one point, Stiles rounds a corner and sees Hayden holding Liam’s hand, talking to him softly as Liam takes deep breaths with his eyes closed. Another time, Scott and Liam walk by talking about lacrosse, Scott winking at Stiles when he’s spotted.

In fourth period, Stiles drops into his seat and rubs his face. So close, almost over.

Someone drops into the seat next to him and he jumps, glancing over. “Dude,” he whispers at Derek, “seriously?”

“Seriously.” Derek gives him a withering look. “It’s not like I’m giving you a friendship bracelet just because I’m sitting next to you.”

Stiles smiles with his teeth. “Yeah, you’re nowhere near as thoughtful as Scott.”

Derek sneers back at him and opens his textbook.

Stiles rolls his eyes and opens his own book, realizing that maybe the pack is looking out for all of them, not just Liam.

Weirdly, it makes him feel a lot better.

Chapter Text

Stiles and Allison spend the full moon in the woods, pretending that Liam is with them and that they’re all patrolling their assigned section of the Preserve together.

“It’s getting easier to lie to Dad,” Stiles remarks idly from his perch on a tree branch, thoughtlessly carving a protective sigil in the bark.

“Especially since he’s got a ton of stuff on his plate, what with the fact that there seems to be absolutely no supernatural violence since we moved here.”

“Which, you know, would be a good thing for most people.”

Allison drops backwards and hangs from the branch by her knees, shooting an arrow into a target across the clearing. She lets her arms dangle and replies glumly, “It should feel better than it does, I think.”

“Yeah.”

She’s quiet for a while before sitting back up on the branch. She sighs, admitting softly, “I really wish Mom was here.”

“God, me too.” He rubs his forehead. “I’m worried.”

“You? Gerard Argent’s cold, heartless, dagger-tongued grandson? What, do you have feelings now or something?” she half-heartedly jokes.

He rolls his eyes. “Yeah, yeah. Don’t repeat that on the playground or it’ll ruin my reputation with the other kids.”

Almost an hour later, Stiles’ phone starts buzzing in his pocket.

“Tut tut,” Allison chides, waving her finger. “If we were in a battle situation, whatever we’re hunting could hear that.”

“And kill me where I sit!” Stiles grabs at his throat. “But luckily, the object of my Hunt is calling me.” He presses the green button and sings, “Well, hello, Sourwolf!”

Derek informs him briskly: “We need you here. Now.” Then he hangs up.

Normally, Stiles would bitch about the abruptness of the call. Instead, he drops from the branch and lands in a crouch.

“We gotta go,” he tells Allison, catching her bow when she drops it to him.

“Shit shit shit,” she chants lowly, landing like he did and immediately starting for the Jeep.

Stiles’ phone vibrates with an address and he tosses the phone to Allison as he gets in and starts the engine.

“Left,” Allison barks, buckling her seatbelt as he peels out.

Stiles really hopes that they can get there before anything bad happens.

Though, judging by the way Derek spoke, they might already be too late.

-0-0-0-

“What do you mean ‘he escaped’?” Stiles shouts. “Where the hell did he go?!”

Derek rubs his forehead and waits for a text or call from Isaac and Boyd, who he sent to check for a trail.

“Well, if we knew that, we wouldn’t have had to call you!” Cora shouts back.

Like a wolf, Stiles bares his teeth at her then turns to Derek, snarling, “You! You’re an Alpha werewolf! How did a brand new baby werewolf manage to evade you?”

Derek sighs, telling Stiles calmly, “I don’t know how he got out. He was perfectly fine, controlling the shift, and then he was gone.”

“Scott was the one that was supposed to be shadowing him,” Cora tattles.

Stiles turns to Scott and pleads, “Come on, Scotty, give me some good news. Tell me there’s a reason my brother is gone.”

Scott looks like he might not answer, but he buckles under Stiles’ gaze and blurts, “He’s really fast, okay!”

Stiles covers his face with his hands, moaning, “Oh my god!”

“Stiles, I’m sorry!” Scott says, explaining, “Look, I was behind him, making sure that he was going through the obstacle course okay, when all of a sudden, I came out of a tunnel and he was gone. So I doubled back, and he wasn’t there either.”

Stiles starts pacing, muttering to himself, “Why me? Why do these things happen to me? I know I’m not the best person in the world but do I fucking deserve these things? I do not think I do!”

Derek’s phone vibrates and he glances down. “Stiles,” he says, “I hate to interrupt your mental breakdown, but Boyd and Isaac found traces of his scent near the back half of the Preserve.”

Stiles lets out a string of curses and makes his way toward the door without waiting to see if anyone is following him. He pulls his phone from his pocket, taps it a few times, and angrily gets in his Jeep. “I don’t care who rides with me. Someone come the fuck on.”

Scott looks at Derek and quickly shakes his head, trailing after Cora who didn’t even hesitate to jog toward the Preserve.

Derek sighs, rolls his eyes heavenward in a silent plea for patience, and gets into the Jeep. “What kind of patrols does your dad have out right now?”

“Well,” Stiles chirps acerbically, “since it’s the full moon and they’ve had no leads on the missing kids, I’m gonna go ahead and say a metric fuck ton. Like, everyone probably. And Liam is running right fucking toward them because he’s out of his mind right now.”

Derek reaches out and puts his hand on Stiles’ shoulder. “We’ll find him.”

Stiles looks at him like he’s crazy, glancing down at his hand then back up again. He swallows hard and admits, “I’m really fucking scared.”

“I know.” Derek nods, squeezing a bit then letting go. “But he’ll be okay.”

“Okay,” Stiles breathes, like he’s actually reassured by Derek.

It’s a little scary how much Derek likes the idea.

-0-0-0-

“Liam,” Stiles calls softly, walking through the dark woods as quietly as he can. “Come on, Li.”

Derek sniffs the air, looking like a tracking hound, and it takes a lot for Stiles to bite his tongue and not point it out.

“Liam,” he calls again.

A howl pierces the air and Derek whips his head to the right, his eyes flashing red.

“Is it Liam?” Stiles whisper-shouts. “Derek! Is it him? Is he in trouble?”

But Derek doesn’t answer. He doesn’t even glance at Stiles before he takes off running.

“Goddammit,” Stiles hisses, following Derek. He may not be able to run as fast as a werewolf, but he’s pretty quick.

Still, he loses sight of Derek’s back after a few minutes and he makes himself slow down, jogging comfortably along until he stops, barely out of breath.

“Fuck.”

He starts walking, eyes tracking for movement in the trees and brush but it’s not enough to prepare him for Liam jumping out and tackling him to the ground.

Liam growls, his eyes gold and glowing. Spit drips from his mouth as his lips pull back from his teeth and his hands tighten in Stiles’ shirt.

“Liam,” Stiles wheezes, the air knocked out of him.

The only response he gets is another growl and the creak of claws digging into the armor under his shirt.

Stiles makes his voice softer, smoothing his breathing out, “Hey Liam, how ya doin’? Did you have fun running off? I’m gonna have to chain you up if you do that again and it’ll be pretty embarrassing to have to wear a collar every full moon, Liam. But I’ll do it, even if you hate me, because I’m not gonna let them catch you, Liam, I won’t let them take you. Mostly because Ally would kill me but I’d miss you a little too, dude, I really would.”

Liam makes a soft noise, his hold loosening a little, and presses his forehead to Stiles’ chest. He takes a deep, shaking breath and whines slightly.

“It’s okay, dude, it’s okay,” Stiles assures him, patting his back, even though he’s not sure how any of this is going to ever be okay. “I got you.”

-0-0-0-

Derek leaves Stiles behind pretty quickly, drawn toward the sound of Isaac howling in panic and pain.

He freezes behind a tree and looks out, catching sight of Isaac. His beta is struggling, cursing, his leg caught in something. It’s not until Derek moves forward that he realizes that it’s a metal trap that’s got his beta held tight.

“Hi Derek,” Isaac grits out. “How’s it going?”

“Where’s Boyd?” Derek asks, squatting down to inspect the wound. He reaches out to touch the metal and hisses when it burns his fingertips.

“Yeah, it’s got wolfsbane all over it.” Isaac sighs. “I’m not sure where Boyd went. We split up for just a second, trying to circle around Liam, and then I stepped in this fucking thing. Sorry about howling, I didn’t mean to.”

Before Derek can tell him not to worry about it, a twig snaps behind them and he whips around, growling.

“Whoa, whoa.” Allison steps out of the trees with her hands by her sides. “It’s me.” She flicks her eyes over them. “What’s going on?”

Derek moves to the side, gesturing at the trap.

“Hey Isaac,” Allison greets, inspecting the situation and digging around in a pouch that’s strapped to her belt. “I’m gonna give you something to make that hurt a little less and then we’re gonna get you out, okay?”

“Don’t talk to me like I’m a baby,” Isaac snaps.

“Fine,” she says briskly and throws a dark blue powder on Isaac’s leg which makes him hiss.

“What did you just put on him?” Derek half-snarls, stepping forward.

Echium vulgare,” Allison mutters, rubbing her gloved hands together to get the excess powder off. “Also known as Viper’s bugloss or blueweed.” She ignores Derek’s threatening posture and kneels on one side of the trap. “When mixed with wolfsbane, it can help reverse the effects.”

“It does sting slightly less,” Isaac pants, shooting them a sarcastic thumbs-up.

“Isaac, I need you to be quiet,” Allison murmurs. She tells Derek, “Hold him and when the trap is open enough, I need you to move him as fast as you can, okay?”

Derek nods and grips Isaac’s arms, pulling his beta so that the tough leather of his jacket is in his mouth. “Bite down if you need to,” he says before nodding at Allison.

She takes a deep breath and presses down on the other side of the trap as hard as she can, getting the teeth to open enough that Derek can lift Isaac’s leg up and away.

After Isaac’s leg is clear, the trap closes back together with an ugly sound, his blood glistening wetly in the moonlight.

Allison lets out a small breath, flexes her hands, picks up her bow, and admits, “I may have tripped the alarm on that one. We should probably leave.”

“Alarm?” Isaac asks, limping along next to Derek.

“Yeah, they’re all enabled with sensors. Hunter technology has come a long way.”

“Awesome,” Derek grumbles.

Erica appears at Allison’s elbow. “Someone’s coming.”

“How close?”

She glances back. “Maybe three minutes?”

“We won’t be able to get very far like this,” Isaac mutters.

“I have an idea,” Allison says, looking up.

Erica scans the area still but Derek and Isaac look up too.

“You really want to drag an injured werewolf into a tree on the full moon?”

Allison raises her eyebrows. “Better up a tree than in a trap in my family’s basement, don’t you think?”

Derek doesn’t really have a witty comeback for that.

“But before you start climbing, we need to treat that.” She jerks her chin at Isaac’s leg and reaches into her pockets again.

“Do we have enough time?” Erica asks anxiously.

“Enough time for your packmate to die? Yes.” Allison squats down and clears a small area of leaves, tapping some wolfsbane onto the ground and lighting it with a cheap plastic lighter. “We also have time for this. Bring him closer,” she orders.

Isaac bites down on Derek’s jacket this time, groaning lowly as Allison shoves ashes into the puncture marks on his leg.

“He should be fine now.” Allison stamps the remaining ashes into the ground, kicking leaves around to cover the area. “He’s probably gonna pass out soon, though, from that blueweed.” She looks to the left just as Erica does and says, “I have to go. I’ll be back for you guys as soon as I can, okay?” Without waiting for an answer, she slips into the darkness.

Derek just shakes his head and hoists Isaac onto his back and climbs the tree, settling about twenty feet off the ground with Erica closer to the bottom branches.

“I’m a little attracted to her,” Erica admits softly into the darkness after they’re settled.

“Competence is remarkably sexy,” Isaac half-slurs.

“You two are both crazy,” Derek informs them, arm looped around Isaac’s waist.

Isaac grins, patting Derek’s forearm. “Yeah, you love us though.”

"You're all lucky I do."

Chapter Text

Several Hunters pass below their position over the next hour but none of them bother to look up. If Derek and his pack were different people, they might have killed at least four by now.

As it is, they stay where they are until just after midnight and a whistled tune comes floating toward them.

“Is that ‘Oh Christmas Tree’?” Isaac wonders softly. “Seriously?”

Of course it’s Stiles, Derek realizes after a moment, softly picking his way through the woods, singing under his breath, “Oh werewolf tree, oh werewolf tree, where in the fuuu-uck are you?”

“Joy to the world, our Savior’s come,” Erica half-sings, peering down at him from her perch.

Stiles grins up at her. “Well hey there, Catwoman. I’ve come to rescue you from a tree.”

Erica drops to the ground and clasps her hands under her chin. “My hero,” she warbles, stumbling a bit. “Whoops,” she huffs, catching herself on Stiles’ shoulder, “little stiff there.”

“I’m happy to catch you, whenever you need it,” Stiles assures her with a pat to the cheek.

Derek scowls, adjusting his hold on Isaac and dropping to the ground. “If you guys are done, can we go?”

Stiles gives a jaunty salute, turning around and heading back the way he came with no argument.

If Derek’s slightly disappointed, he decides not to mention it.

Isaac and Erica are walking fine by the time they get through the woods and see a clearing with a couple of cars parked there. It’s not until they’re right next to Stiles’ Jeep that Derek can hear the wheeze in Stiles’ breath.

“What’s wrong with you?” he asks, trying not to sound so damn concerned.

He’s obviously not as harsh as he thinks since Stiles just winks at him and taps his chest with his knuckles. “I’m okay, but I’m thinking Liam should play football instead of lacrosse.”

“What?”

Allison pops out of nowhere and makes Erica jump. “Just ignore him,” she recommends, rolling her eyes at her twin. She points at another car, the Hunter SUV, and says, “Come on, we’ll drive you guys home.”

Derek opts to ride in the Jeep again, even though it’s a rattling, bone-jarring death trap. He pauses before he gets in, spotting Liam passed out in the backseat. “How did you catch him?”

He caught me, dude,” Stiles tells him, hopping in and starting the Jeep. “Came flying out of the trees and tackled me.” He smacks his hands together then shoots a finger gun at Derek. “Thus, football.”

Derek nods like Stiles is making sense and gets in.

“So,” Stiles starts, “Ally, Li, and I are gonna head home for the debriefing and I think someone should meet us there so that they can hear what’s going on and report back to you tonight.”

Derek taps his fingers on the armrest, wondering how he got where he is, thinking about sending one of his pack members into an Argent house that’s filled with Hunters. “Scott would be best, I think,” he suggests.

“And he’s the least suspicious since he’s John’s stepson,” Stiles agrees. “So, we’ll drop you guys off and have Scotty follow us. 

Derek nods and that’s that.

When Stiles pops the Jeep into park at the loft, he turns to Derek and winks. “If you ever need another rescue, remember that I’m just a phone call away.” After a tip of an imaginary hat, he adds, "It's been a pleasure, as always, Alpha Hale."

"Likewise." Derek rolls his eyes, getting out and slamming the door a little harder than necessary.

“Hey, easy on the goods!” Stiles hollers from the Jeep and Derek chuckles as he follows Erica and Isaac inside.

When they get to the loft, Scott slips past him with a relieved smile and Cora immediately starts fussing over Isaac in her quiet, angry way while Erica just goes over and flops on top of Boyd’s sleeping form.

“Everything okay?” Kira asks from her perch on the staircase where she’s keeping watch and cleaning her katana.

“Yeah,” he sighs, “for now.”

“I’d like to be able to hear that without the addition for once,” she says softly, resuming her task.

“Me too.”

-0-0-0-

“Hey, hey Munchkin, wake up.”

Stiles and Allison stare as Liam blinks awake before jumping and snapping, “Why are you guys staring at me?”

Stiles snorts. “Well excuse us for trying to make sure you’re okay. You know, since you ran off and all.”

Liam looks between them and asks in a small voice, all his frustration gone, “I ran off?”

“You didn’t do anything bad.” Allison hurries to reassure him. “We caught up with you just fine and you’re okay. No one got hurt.”

Stiles mutters under his breath but, after a look from Allison, adds, “Yeah, everything’s fine.”

Liam slumps back against the seat and lets out a sigh. “This is so fucked.”

They don’t bother to say anything about his language. Instead, Allison agrees, “Yeah, it is. But we have to go inside for debriefing and play like nothing happened and everything is okay.”

Liam nods. When he takes a deep breath and sits up straight, he’s their father’s son: all business. “Alright, anything else that I need to know about?”

They give him the rundown quickly then unload the Jeep, heading inside with Allison and Stiles on either side of Liam.

“Hey Dad,” Stiles greets as they walk in, placing the Hunt-specific weapons on the dining room table. “I’ll be right back. I really have to pee.”

His dad snorts and waves his hand before ruffling Liam’s hair and asking Allison, “All go well in your area?”

Stiles heads upstairs and creeps into his room. Sliding open the window, he checks that Scott is there. “Come in,” he whispers, waving Scott inside.

Scott raises his eyebrows at the sigils around the windows. “Seriously?”

Stiles grins at him, waving him in once more. “Come on, Scotty. You’ll be fine.”

Scott scuttles forward and scrambles to his feet, patting himself down and looking relieved when he seems okay.

“See,” Stiles whispers, “told you so.”

“What are those even for?” Scott asks as they creep toward the door.

“To make sure that baddies don’t get in.” He claps Scott on the shoulder. “Proof that you’re my friend, I guess.”

Scott rolls his eyes, squatting by the door. “As if you need the sigils for that.”

“I know, I’m a fool,” Stiles agrees, opening the door a crack. “I’ll be back.”

Scott nods and closes his eyes.

Stiles gets back downstairs just as Myers declares, “They’ve obviously got someone helping them.”

He slides into place on the arm of the chair where Allison is sitting, curling the top of his body along the chair and propping his head up with his fist. “Why do you say that?” he asks.

His dad says, “One of the traps got triggered but when we checked it, whatever it was that we caught had gotten out.”

“Weird,” Stiles muses.

The rest of the meeting goes pretty normally, but Stiles can’t seem to focus on anything other than the fact that Liam is a werewolf and is sitting in the same room as people that would not hesitate to murder him if they knew.

Add to the fact that his new best friend is also a werewolf and is currently upstairs listening to everything that these people are saying. Thinking about it, Stiles has to stop himself from flinching when one of the other Hunters uses a slur or speaks about the werewolves like they’re senseless beasts.

By the time the meeting is over, Allison’s dug several furrows into the leather holster on her hip, Stiles’ hands hurt from clenching them, and Liam looks just plain exhausted.

After helping with clean up and putting weapons away, Stiles goes up to his room and shuts the door softly behind him, leaning back against it and staring at Scott.

After a moment, Scott admits lowly, “I kinda feel like I’m gonna be sick.”

Stiles nods, stomach twisting. He squats next to Scott and, haltingly, whispers, “This is probably gonna sound shitty, but please don’t think that we’re the same as them. Ally, Liam, and I,” he clarifies. “Even our dad isn’t that bad, it’s just-”

“Dude,” Scott leans forward, clasping Stiles’ shoulder, “you guys are our friends. And Liam is pack. We know that you’re not like them.” He smirks, shaking Stiles a little. “Besides, now we’ve got an in, so you guys can help change the status quo.”

Stiles huffs a quiet laugh. “You are incredibly optimistic, dude. I don't know if we have that kind of pull yet.”

Scott laughs too. “That’s what makes life so great, though. The idea that it can only get better.” He glances at his watch and sighs. “I gotta get back to Derek’s. I need to give everyone an update and get ready for school tomorrow.”

“You’re going to school? I thought you usually stayed out after a full moon.”

“Yeah, usually.” Scott scowls and stands, stretching his arms over his head. “I have to go in for extra math tutoring.”

Stiles gets up and plops into his desk chair. “Gross.”

“Totally.”

After Scott leaves, Stiles lets himself slide to the floor and think about everything that happened in the last few hours.

It seems like everything might, maybe, just a little bit, be okay.

The thought should probably make him feel better than it does but there’s a little voice in his head saying that he’s a fool to think like that.

-0-0-0-

The Sunday after the full moon, Cora stops at the edge of the clearing they use for training and turns so Derek can see past her to where Stiles is fussing with things spread over a folding table. “What the hell is he doing?”

Derek hums. “Not sure.” They both walk over and Stiles smiles when he sees them.

“Hey guys!” he crows.

Cora juts her chin at the table. “What are you doing with all that?”

Stiles claps his hands, clearly excited. “Ally and I are gonna show you guys a few things, some tricks of our trade.”

Derek looks over the table, at the items carefully laid there, and squints at Stiles. “Are you sure you want to tell us this stuff?”

“Well, yeah. I trust you and your pack. I’m not worried about you guys knowing a few secrets.” He scratches his chin and adds, “Especially if it helps keep you safe.”

Derek is sure that his face looks exactly like Cora’s does in that moment: a strange mix of confusion and frustration and the slightest bit of appreciation. Though there’s a pretty good chance that his face has a little more appreciation than hers does.

“I just, ah,” Stiles shrugs, “I don’t want another night like the full moon, you know? You need to know what you’re up against.”

Derek has to fight the smile that wants to twist his mouth. He nods instead and says, “Thanks.”

Stiles shrugs again, becoming animated once more as the rest of the pack approaches. “Hey guys! Gather round! We’re gonna have some fun!”

Erica walks up and raises her eyebrows. “Stiles, what is all this?”

“This,” he almost-sings, “is important insider knowledge that we’ll be sharing with you today.”

“We?” Hayden asks, clearly looking around for Liam.

“Allison and Liam are in the woods somewhere and you have to find them.” Stiles holds up a finger, shaking it at them. “But, you have to be sure to look out for the traps!”

“You… booby-trapped our woods?” Derek asks slowly as Cora growls with exasperation and Isaac tries not to laugh.

Stiles grins at him. “Sure did. And unless you wanna be swinging by your ankle in five seconds flat, I’d suggest that you all listen up before you go tromping through the woods.”

Derek sighs, rethinking how appreciative he is for Stiles' "help".

Chapter Text

A week after he, Allison, and Liam booby-trap the woods, they’re participating in a more regulated training, per Derek’s orders. This time, though, everyone is playing tag instead of anything more physical, lest the humans get broken.

Allison’s helping mind the base and Stiles is in the midst of the game. He’s already tagged Scott and sent him, grinning, back to base. Now he’s running, sprinting as fast as he can to get away from whoever’s on his trail. He’s pretty sure it’s Liam, but it could be Scott or Isaac.

He really hopes it’s not Cora.

He leaps over a felled tree and slides in a wet patch of leaves that’s on the other side. Scrabbling to his feet, he slips between a couple of trees growing closely together and tries to fade into the dark space between them, taking a deep breath and making himself relax in order to slow down his racing heart. He cracks a bundle of herbs between his fingers and rubs it over his clothes and arms to dull his scent.

A couple minutes later, Cora lands on the other side of the log, her face twisted in a scowl. She stands and continues down the path, her long legs eating up the distance.

Stiles resists the urge to sigh in relief, slumping against one of the trees instead. Except, it’s not a tree that he leans against. He starts to struggle too late as strong arms wrap around him and he’s manhandled until a tree is digging into his back through his thin t-shirt.

“I’m going to put a bell on you,” Stiles confides softly, his hands curled around the forearms attached to the hands pinning his shoulders.

Derek’s smile is a flash of teeth. “I’ll still be able to catch you.”

“Yeah,” Stiles grins and boops Derek on the nose, “but you’ll sound like a cute little kitty while you do it.”

“Why do you do things that make people want to murder you?” Derek asks, his hands falling from Stiles’ shoulders as he steps closer.

Stiles shrugs. “It’s part of my charm.”

Derek squints at him and shakes his head. “I don’t get it.”

“I think you get it a lot more than you think.” Stiles smirks, jutting his chin up. “Or do you often stand close to people that you don’t find charming and stare at their mouths?”

Derek’s eyes jerk up from Stiles’ mouth. He looks like he’s been caught doing something wrong but he doesn’t move away. He looks like he’s debating with himself.

And Stiles knows it’s dumb, but he really wants Derek to kiss him, so he taunts, “What’s the matter, Sourwolf? You scared of what might happen?”

Derek’s eyes flash – and god, Stiles should not find that sexy – and he grabs Stiles’ shirt, reeling him closer so he can mash their mouths together.

Stiles’ stomach swoops and he clenches his fingers in the shoulders of Derek’s shirt, trying to pull him closer.

Derek steps forward, pressing their chests together and swiping his tongue over Stiles’ bottom lip, deepening the kiss and making Stiles glad he’s pressed against the tree so his knees don’t buckle embarrassingly.

Stiles’ arms find their way around Derek’s neck and his fingers tangle in Derek’s hair. One of Derek’s hands presses against his lower back, drawing them against each other even tighter. A soft sound comes from his throat and Derek growls lowly in return, sending shivers over Stiles’ skin.

Derek pulls back, after one last press of lips, they stare at each other from inches away, both breathing heavily, mouths wet and open.

“Stiles…” Derek starts before jumping back, ripping himself from Stiles’ hold as Lydia appears on the path a few feet away from them.

The redhead looks around, likely tracking Cora, and moves off into the woods without noticing them.

When she’s gone, Derek doesn’t say anything, just looks at Stiles for a second then slips through the gap in the trees and disappears.

Stiles drops his head back against the tree, grateful that it’s there to hold him up, and takes a deep breath.

What the fuck just happened?

There’s a voice screaming in his head: He shouldn’t even be in the woods with a werewolf pack, even if Liam is a part of it, and he shouldn’t be friends with werewolves or even associate with them at all. He should have told his dad everything as soon as he learned it, should have been a good son, a good Hunter.

But the voice is easy to ignore because the loudest thought in his head is that he’s fucking aching for Derek to come back and kiss him again.

“Goddammit,” he breathes, knocking his head against the tree.

He digs into his pockets and grabs another bundle of herbs, rubbing himself down to hide what he’d just been doing and who he’d just been doing it with. He takes a deep breath and slips off in the direction Lydia went.

-0-0-0-

Derek stops running and launches himself up onto a boulder. He settles there, takes a deep breath, and lets it out slowly, trying to calm his racing heart.

He kissed Stiles.

He kissed an Argent Hunter.

He’s almost as bad as – no. He’s not doing this. Not right now.

He takes another deep breath, catching a scent on the breeze, and squats lower. He waits, listening hard, and jabs his arm out, snatching Liam up and making the new werewolf squeak.

“Gotcha,” he says and smiles when Liam scowls.

“Dammit,” his new Beta grumbles. “I thought I could get past you.”

“You almost did,” Derek tells him, though he’s not about to explain that it was because he’d been so distracted thinking about kissing Stiles. He drops to the ground and dusts his hands off.

“Almost is never good enough,” Liam replies, sounding like it’s something he’s said many times before.

Derek’s smile drops and he studies Liam for a moment. “You’ve only been a werewolf for a little while,” he finally says. “You’ll get better at using your senses.”

“Yeah, I guess,” Liam concedes, still sounding put out.

“Come on, let’s see who else got caught.” Derek puts his arm around Liam’s shoulders and leads him toward the base.

They get back to base and realize that everyone is there except for Lydia and Stiles. Derek almost says that Stiles should be here too, but he keeps his mouth shut, since he didn’t technically “tag” Stiles.

Just grabbed him.

And kissed him.

And then ran away.

“My money’s on the banshee,” Liam says after looking around.

“Hmm, we’ll see,” Boyd says from where he’s stretched out on the grass with Erica sprawled next to him. “That boy is slippery.”

A few minutes later, when Stiles comes through the trees, he avoids Derek’s gaze. He grins at the group, holding his arms out, and announces, “May I present the winner, Miss Lydia Martin!” He bows and steps aside as Lydia appears, rolling her eyes at him.

“You’re such a ham,” she admonishes, but there’s a slight smile tugging at the corner of her mouth.

“I ham what I ham,” Stiles agrees with a hand over his heart and everyone groans and laughs.

Derek would be more amused, really, if Stiles didn’t smell like he’d bathed in cloves and cardamom, clearly trying to hide Derek’s scent on him.

“Why do you smell like a spice rack?” Erica asks when Stiles flops down on the grass next to her.

Stiles laughs and says something that makes Erica and Boyd laugh too, his eyes flicking to Derek for the briefest second. He looks away, tongue darting out to drag across his bottom lip.

And Derek knows, without a doubt, that he’s going to be stupid and kiss Stiles again.

-0-0-0-

Stiles manages to make it through the next couple of days without letting certain things that happened over the weekend make him act too strange.

There’s a New Moon on Wednesday night and Lydia tells them to come next door since they often have pizza and play video games or watch movies whenever the New Moon rolls around and her house is almost always empty unless the pack is there.

It’s a glimpse into a world that Stiles and his siblings haven’t really seen: with the full moon comes increased strength and aggression in a lot of creatures, but with the new moon seems to come a softening of the sharp edges that the werewolves have.

They’re downright cuddly, really, and they include Stiles and Allison in the pile of limbs seemingly without thought.

So, there they all are, sprawled on the pillows and couches that make up Lydia’s parent’s home theater in their basement, yelling and laughing about the random B-rated horror movie that’s playing.

Couples are coupled up, Allison with Lydia and Liam with Hayden, and so on. So here Stiles is, planted in the middle of the room on a beanbag between Scott and Erica. He’s only feeling a little bad for himself. After all, Derek is single too and so is Mason, though Stiles isn’t really thinking of Mason as much, to be honest.

Truthfully, despite the fact that their dad is trying to figure out the mystery of the local pack and school and taking care of Liam and trying to figure out the whole family mystery thing, Derek has been dominating a pretty large part of Stiles’ thoughts lately.

Finally, Stiles needs a break. He gets up halfway through the movie and grabs everyone’s popcorn bowls, stating, “I’m getting refills.”

He makes his way upstairs, noting how beautiful and empty the Martin house seems, when he feels the hairs standing up on the back of his neck.

He’s being followed.

The corner of his mouth jerks up in a smile.

-0-0-0-

Derek is insane.

He’s stalking Stiles through the ground floor of Lydia’s house and drawing closer with every second.

He’s maybe got a problem.

He peers into the kitchen and is surprised to see that Stiles isn’t there. The microwave is on, the bag of Movie Theatre butter popcorn spinning, and the air-popper is on too, popcorn pouring from the spout into a giant bowl.

There’s a flash of movement outside the door that leads to the back deck and Derek creeps closer, pushing the door open gently.

He’s grabbed the second his foot clears the threshold, a hand at the back of his neck and a knee between his as his back is pressed against the post of a pergola.

Derek leans forward and kisses Stiles. God, he’s been thinking about this almost non-stop for the past three days. He grasps Stiles’ waist and bites gently at Stiles’ bottom lip.

A car door slams nearby, making them both jump and they stare at each other in the dim light from the kitchen windows.

Stiles mumbles lowly, “This was a bad idea.”

Derek pulls back, frowning.

“No, no, this,” Stiles mutters, waving a hand between them, “this is great. I just mean, uh, making out behind Lydia’s house in the dark. Maybe not my best idea? Considering my house is right next door.”

“Right.” Derek nods, then suggests, despite how much he wants to keep doing what they’re doing, “Maybe we should go back inside.”

“Yeah, okay.” Stiles lets out a small sigh but he nods too, letting go of Derek’s shirt. “They’re probably wondering what’s taking so long with the popcorn.”

Derek nods again, having Stiles go inside first before locking the door behind them.

“Your Alpha instincts are intriguing,” Stiles comments lightly as he divides the popcorn up and seasons it.

“How so?” Derek leans against the island, granite cool under his hands as he watches the way Stiles moves.

“You herded me, made sure I was inside and safe before you,” Stiles explains, handing over two bowls for Derek to carry.

“I didn’t,” Derek denies. "You were closer to the door."

“You totally did,” Stiles informs him with a smirk, two bowls of popcorn in his hands. He makes his way toward the stairs and pauses at the top. “You do stuff like that a lot. I think it’s kind of cute.”

Derek scowls at him. “I’ll push you down the stairs, don’t think I won’t.”

“I know you would.” Stiles grins at him. “And yet I like you anyway. What does that say about me?” He laughs, heading back to the group.

Derek doesn’t comment but he wonders what it says about him that he likes Stiles too. Shaking his head, he follows the Hunter into the basement.

-0-0-0-

 “So what’s up with you?” Allison asks him on Friday after school, squinting at him from where sprawled across his bed. “You’ve been weirder than usual lately.”

He tries to ignore her, turning up the volume on Friends and hoping she’ll get the hint.

She walks over and stands in front of the television, hands on her hips.

“You’re so annoying,” he informs her, rolling his eyes.

“I know,” she chirps, happy now that she knows he’s going to tell her what she wants to know. She plops down next to him and puts her chin on her hands. “Soooo?”

Stiles huffs and says in a bored tone, “Derek and I kissed.”

“You what?” she shouts. “Oh my god!”

Stiles sits up. “Shhh shut up, shut up!” he hisses, flapping his hands at her.

“Oh my GOD!” she shouts again and Stiles hits her with a pillow. She catches it and wraps her arms around it. “Oh my god,” she repeats, speaking at a normal volume again. “What... when?”

Stiles sighs. “Sunday, when we were playing tag.” He taps his fingers against the bedspread and adds, “And on the new moon…”

Allison squeals and drops face down on the blanket, kicking her feet.

“Quit being ridiculous,” Stiles demands, smiling despite himself.

She turns over. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, this is just crazy!”

He’s about to hit her with another pillow when there’s a knock on the door. “Yeah?”

Their dad pokes his head into the room and says, “I’ve got news.” It’s his Hunter voice so Stiles and Allison both sit up and listen. “Since we’re encountering so many difficulties finding out what’s going on here, some back up is coming.” There’s the slightest tightening of his eyes when he adds, “Your Aunt Kate will be here the soonest.”

Stiles feels Allison stiffen and hopes that the horror isn’t evident on his face.

Kate… back in Beacon Hills… He can barely contain the urge to shiver.

Allison says brightly, “We haven’t seen her for a while. It’ll be cool to have her visit.”

“Yeah, cool,” Stiles adds robotically.

Their dad glances down at his phone and says, “Tell Liam, would you? I have to take this call.” They make sounds of agreement and he shuts the door behind him.

They wait nearly two minutes, the sound of canned laughter loud in their silence.

Finally, Allison turns to him and whispers urgently, “We have to tell the pack.”

“Yeah. But do we text them? It’s not really something we can throw in a group chat.”

“And I’m not sure who else knows about Kate.” She bites her lip and asks, “Do you have Derek’s number?”

“No and I should probably remedy that.” Stiles thinks fast. “Okay, I’m gonna kick you out in a minute and put red thread on the knob. That’ll give me enough time to go to the loft and get back without anyone noticing I’m gone.”

“Perfect.” Allison nods and gets up from the bed. She goes toward the door then turns around and points at him, saying firmly, “Don’t think that this emergency is gonna get you out of talking about you and Derek.”

Stiles waves her out, muttering, “Yeah, yeah, fine, shoo.”

When he gets to the loft, he tries to remind himself to stay calm while riding up to Derek’s floor in the elevator. He strides forward and raps hard on the door, barely resisting the urge to chew his nails from nerves.

After barely a minute, Derek slides the door to the loft open and pauses.

Stiles is pretty sure he looks like a crazy person so he’s not surprised by the reaction. Before Derek can comment on it, he blurts, “Kate’s on her way to Beacon Hills.”

Kudos, Stiles, he thinks, real fucking smooth.

Derek doesn’t reply, just stands to the side and lets Stiles into the loft, shutting the door behind him.

Chapter Text

Derek slides the door to the loft open and pauses. Stiles looks really upset. He’s sweaty, his hair a mess like he’s been running his hands through it and his mouth bright red from him biting his lip.

Before he can ask what’s wrong, Stiles states, “Kate’s on her way to Beacon Hills.”

Derek stares at him for a moment before moving to the side and motioning him inside. He looks around the landing for a moment before sliding the loft door closed and locking it.

When Derek glances over, Stiles is standing in front of the large windows, looking across the half-abandoned edge of the city that melds into the edge of the Preserve.

“How long until she’s here?” he asks, leaning against the island, trying to ignore how potent Stiles’ scent is, even from across the room.

Stiles lifts one shoulder and drops it, not turning away from the windows. “Dad said she was coming to help us out and that she’s on her way. I don’t have any other information.”

Derek thinks about that, how Stiles felt the need to come all the way over here just to tell him that.

Though, that’s not what Derek thought he was doing here, but that’s whatever…

Stiles finally turns away from the view and slumps into one of the living room chairs. “I’m sorry. I realize now it was sort of stupid to come all the way here with barely any information. I just…”

“What?” Derek prompts softly, moving to sit across from Stiles in another chair.

Stiles gives him a look and says, “It just seemed shitty to tell you over the phone. She… well, I told you I read up on some files.” He shrugs, dropping his eyes to the floor. “I know she had a pretty big hand in destroying your life, so.”

Derek sees past Stiles’ attempt at being flippant. He cares, Derek realizes, and he cares a lot more than he thought he did.

It’s likely that thought that makes Derek haltingly state, “I think Peter knew about Kate.”

Stiles whips his head up, staring at him. “What?”

Derek drops his gaze. Not looking at Stiles helps, makes it easier to get the words out. He licks his lips, clenching his hands together, expounding, “I think Peter knew she was a Hunter and didn’t care. I think he thought he was smarter than she was.”

Stiles shifts a bit in his seat but doesn’t say anything else, just waits silently for Derek to continue.

“I caught him sneaking out a couple of times. I thought he was so cool. He was only a few years older than me and, I don’t know, I just…” He clears his throat. “Anyways. He was fooling around with her. I don’t know how, but she managed to figure out a way to get past our wards and, one night, she set our house on fire.”

Stiles makes a soft sound but Derek can’t look at him or he won’t be able to keep talking. He’ll do something stupid like crawl into Stiles’ lap and beg to be held and he can’t do that, won’t do that, even with this thing that they apparently have now.

“Cora and I were at a birthday party. Laura had gone to pick us up. We got home just in time to see the windows blow out. She kept us in the trees and we watched everything go up in flames.

“And Kate,” he snarls, “Kate was… practically dancing. She just kept laughing, like, she’d never been happier in her life.” He glances at Stiles then, sees the white line around the Hunter’s lips as he clenches his jaw and stares out the windows again. “Your dad was different.”

Stiles’ look turns even more intent, but he doesn’t move his head. He asks lowly, tone slightly dangerous, “My dad?”

“He was there.” Derek rolls his shoulders, trying to loosen the tightness there. “He wasn’t dancing though, or laughing or smiling like some of the other Hunters.” He knows if he closes his eyes, he’ll still see the blank nothingness that was Chris’ expression. “He just looked… empty. Like he didn’t feel anything about it at all.”

Derek catches the scent of blood and notices that Stiles has his fingers curled into his palms, face blank as the Hunter maintains his stoic composure.

“I’m not lying,” Derek blurts suddenly, unsure as to why he feels the need to prove himself.

Stiles closes his eyes and sighs shortly, his jaw working for a moment before he opens his eyes again. “I know.” He shakes his head. “I knew there was something missing, well, we knew, Ally and I.”

“What?”

Stiles snorts. “Sorry, I’m used to having my other half to complete my sentences for me.” He motions around them. “Beacon Hills is unlike other places in that your pack reached out to us, intentionally befriended us, and it wasn’t for nefarious purposes. Your pack is made up of people who are genuinely nice and just want to live and be happy.”

Derek nods, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“And the fucked up part of this whole thing,” Stiles practically growls, “is that we’ve been going place to place for years, hunting creatures, killing nests and infestations. And I have to ask myself, were any of those towns like yours? Were the ‘monsters’ we were killing bad? Or were they just who they are?” Stiles shakes his head and whispers bitterly, “Are we the fucking monsters?”

Derek jumps when Stiles cracks his neck, the popping sharp in the quiet.

“Sorry.” Stiles clears his throat and his usual easy smile slides back onto his face. “Didn’t mean to get all existential on you.”

“You know,” Derek tells him, studying that fake smile, “you’ve got a lot of issues.”

“Ha! Speaking from experience, Mr. Mighty Alpha?” Stiles snarks back, his slightly mean expression more real. “You’re practically Times Magazine.”

“True.” Derek pushes up from the chair, moving closer to Stiles. “We all probably need therapy.”

“Couldn't hurt,” Stiles agrees, studying Derek with narrowed eyes. “What are you doing?”

“I’m done talking about fucked up things.” Derek leans over and places his hands on the back of the chair Stiles is in. “And so are you.”

A smirk slowly curls Stiles’ lips as he leans his head back and gazes up at Derek. “Am I?”

“Yes. I think we should continue what we started a couple days ago.” He leans down, eyes intent on Stiles’ mouth, but he pauses, asking, “Unless there’s something else you’d like to discuss?”

Stiles shakes his head slightly. “Nah, I’m good.” He snakes his arm up and pulls Derek toward him.

“Good,” Derek echoes then kisses him, keeping himself hovering above Stiles so it’s only their mouths touching.

Stiles’ phone starts vibrating and chiming obnoxiously. “Gotta be fucking kidding me,” he groans against Derek’s mouth and pulls away, digging his phone out of his pocket.

“What’s that for?” Derek asks, leaning back and perching on the coffee table.

“I have to head home. I snuck out,” he rolls his eyes, “and I ended up making out with someone, so I’m pretty much a teenage cliché right now. And since I fucking ran here, I used up all my time. Should've stolen a car.”

“Can you do that?”

Stiles nods, getting to his feet and righting his clothes. “Totally. It's not that hard.”

Derek’s half-smiling as he follows Stiles to the door, wondering if he'll stop being surprised by him anytime soon.

Stiles turns back to him and says, "A pleasure, as always, Alpha Hale."

His smile ratchets up a level. "Likewise."

“I’ll let you know when I get more information on Kate.”

The smile drops off his face and he nods.

Stiles winces and opens his mouth. Then he just gives a small shake of his head, salutes jauntily, and makes his way into the elevator.

It’s just as well. They all need to be prepared, on their guard.

After all, with Kate coming to town, they’re all at risk.

-0-0-0-

Saturday is an exercise in self-control for Stiles. He struggles to stay calm, focus on the bestiary. Half the time, he’s expecting Kate to pop up behind him. The other half of the time, he’s thinking about Derek – his lips, his eyes, his hands.

He manages to make it to Sunday without his dad noticing that he’s a bundle of nerves, though his siblings notice. It’s a quiet ride to the woods to meet the pack for training, especially since Stiles wonders if the small listening spells he’s planning on attaching to each pack member’s phone is technically ethical or not.

Don’t get him wrong, he’s still gonna do it, but he’s trying to figure out if he should feel bad about it or not. As they pull up, he decides that he’s gonna mark this instance as a Forgiveness-Rather-Than-Permission situation.

He unloads the Jeep then slides up next to Derek. “So, how much have you told your pack?”

Derek’s gaze flicks up to his face then away. “About…?”

Stiles frowns at him, confused by the odd look on Derek’s face. “About the Kate situation, family history, etcetera.”

“Oh,” Derek mumbles, clearing his throat. “They know that Hunters killed my family. New Hunters coming into town won’t be anything to be thrilled about. They’ll be on guard.”

“Mmkay, just didn’t want to spill too many beans.” Stiles claps him on the shoulder and ambles away, wondering why Derek looks so sketchy.

“Okay, everyone: stretch it out,” Derek orders, standing in front of the group as everyone assembles into staggered lines. He starts stretching too and nods at Stiles.

He pulls his arm behind his head. “So, there are Hunters coming here because apparently we need back up, since nothing has been going on and we still can’t seem to locate the local pack.”

Several of them chuckle but their eyes are wary, sensing the danger in the topic.

“Obviously, we don’t want strangers poking around,” he continues, “but it’s not just the random Hunters we need to worry about. Our aunt Kate is coming too and she’s more than a little bug-nuts.”

“If you can help it, no one should go anywhere by themselves,” Allison adds, leaning over to stretch her hamstring.

Boyd raises his eyebrows as he pulls his arms above his head. “Seriously?”

“I mean, school should be fine. But outside of that…” Stiles wobbles his hand in the air and lunges forward into a stretch.

“You seem scared,” Cora points out to him, but it’s lacking her usual venomous bite.

“I kind of am.” He shrugs one shoulder. “I don’t actually know what she’s capable of. Ally and I were thirteen the last time we saw her and she wasn’t there to Hunt, just for Christmas, and she was still intense then.” He sighs and gestures around the group. “And I don’t want you guys to get hurt. So yeah,” he tells Cora directly, “I’m a little scared.”

She frowns, about to reply when Isaac asks, “Is she really that bad? We’ve dealt with Hunters before.”

Stiles can tell who knows exactly what happened to the rest of the Hale family by who won’t make eye contact: Allison, Liam, Derek, Cora, and, odd but not surprising, Lydia.

Before he can answer, Liam says, “She’s a different kind of Hunter. She doesn’t keep to the Code.”

“So,” Stiles claps sharply, making several of them jump, “we need to prepare. Remember all those little tricks we’ve taught you so far. Be wary. We’re not sure how many of the other Hunters coming to town are like us and can see reason.”

“We all need to have each other’s phone numbers too,” Allison adds. “I know that some of us exchanged numbers already. We need to be sure we can get in touch with each other no matter what.”

“If you see her, don’t try and take her on by yourself,” Derek adds, pulling out his phone.

They all take a moment and pull out their phones, passing them around to add numbers. Stiles already has Scott and Erica’s numbers, but he still grabs their phones so he can attach a small speck of a spell before he passes them along.

Once that’s done, everyone gathers around the remnants of the front porch. There’s several things laid out on it and they all eye it curiously. Allison steps forward to take care of the teaching this time.

“First things first, I want everyone to try to get out of this,” Allison announces, holding up a length of rope. “Now, this is plain rope, but there’s a good chance that if a Hunter comes after you, they’ll have ropes infused with wolfsbane.”

“When you get good at these, we can try those,” Stiles informs them with a wink.

“Hard pass,” Isaac says. He nods to the rope in Allison’s hands. “I can cut those no problem.” His wiggles his claws at her.

“You can cut the rope,” she concedes, “but can you reach it?” She loops the end of the rope around Isaac’s wrist, yanking his arm behind his back and kicking the back of his knees. When she’s got him on the ground with his other arm pinned beneath him, she asks, “Now what?”

“I’m stronger than you,” he reminds her.

“But I have poisoned knives,” she pops back, pressing a sheathed blade against his throat. “And if you don’t use your strength immediately when you’re attacked, what’s the point of having it?”

He grunts, “I see your point. Though I could have sworn we were friends, so excuse me if I didn't immediately try to throw you across the clearing.”

“That's fair.” She lets him go, helping him back to his feet. “Alright, let’s try again.”

Chapter Text

After training is done, everyone makes their way towards the cars, talking about what they’re going to get to eat.

Stiles stays back, quietly cleaning up the odds and ends from their experiments. He’s not feeling very social right this second and he needs to get the litter up so it doesn’t mess with any of the local wards. Finally, he gets fed up with his slow pace so he closes his eyes and holds his hands out to his sides.

Come here, he thinks, wiggling his fingers. He has to repeat the thought twice more, but finally, all the small bits of herbs, powders, and rope are gathered in his hands. He opens his eyes and finds Derek standing a couple feet away, a trash bag in his hand and tension in his shoulders.

“Sorry,” Stiles mutters, a little embarrassed. “I didn’t realize you were still here.”

Derek lifts one shoulder then lets it drop. “Didn’t feel like having pizza,” is his explanation.

Stiles nods, holding back his grin, and empties his cupped hands into the trash bag. Dusting off his palms, he jerks his head toward the Jeep. “Want a lift back to the loft?”

“Sure.”

The drive is quiet, the hum of Stiles’ radio and the whistle of the wind the only sounds.

“Thanks,” Derek says with a nod when Stiles pulls up in front of the loft.

As Derek starts to get out, he clears his throat. “Hey.”

Derek glances back, eyebrows raised.

Stiles raises his eyebrows back and asks, “Got any plans for the afternoon?”

Derek shakes his head slowly, the corner of his mouth lifting.

Stiles starts to smile too, asking, “In that case, you wanna make out?”

Derek shuts the door and jerks his head toward the building.

Stiles kills the engine and scrambles after him, trying not to look like he’s that eager, but likely failing miserably.

Derek doesn’t seem to mind though, since he pins Stiles against the wall of the elevator as soon as the doors close. He only kisses Stiles once, though, before asking, “How can you have magic and be a Hunter?”

Stiles blinks, having to struggle a bit to focus, and mutters, “It’s not real magic, I’m not a sorcerer. I just…” he shrugs, “I don’t know, it’s herb lore and legend and knowledge. Most Hunting families have someone like me in them, I’m just kinda strong.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, but my dad says that’s likely due to lineage.” He waves his hand. “It’s more accurate to say I have a knack for odd things. I need something done, so I try it. If it works, cool. If not, oh well.”

Derek nods. “You should talk to our Emissary.”

“Should I now?” Stiles snorts. “And why would your Emissary talk to me?”

“Because I’d explain the situation and he’s training Mason, so I’m sure he wouldn’t have a problem talking to you.”

“Look at you, so thoughtful,” Stiles teases, darting forward and biting Derek’s bottom lip as the elevator stops and the doors open.

“I’m extremely thoughtful,” Derek informs him, lacing their fingers together and pulling Stiles toward the loft. “And handsome.”

“And so modest.”

“No point in hiding my gifts.” Derek shuts the door behind them and flicks the lock. He moves toward Stiles, grinning as Stiles backs up. He darts forward and turns them, so that he’s backing up, slowly leading them toward the spiral staircase.

“Gracious,” Stiles play-acts in a breathy voice, “are you trying to take me to bed?”

“It’s better than the couch or the beanbags,” Derek reasons.

Stiles bats his eyelashes. “Hmm, I’m sure you say that to all the girls, Flirty Wolf.”

Derek laughs, shaking his head. “Can’t you just shut up for five seconds?”

Stiles tries to look like he’s contemplating it before shrugging as they reach the top of the stairs. “I don’t know. I’ve been told I’ve been talking as soon as I was able to and just never stopped. I could find something to natter on about, I’m sure.”

Derek grins, tipping his chin. “I bet I could shut you up.”

Stiles bites his lip. “Well, I’m certainly willing to let you try.”

“Good.” He points at Stiles’ muddy sneakers. “Take those off. No shoes on my bed.”

“Bossy,” Stiles mutters, but he still kicks off his shoes. “Anything else?” he asks sarcastically.

Derek looks him over like he’s thinking about eating him and Stiles is maybe a little too okay with that. He finally walks forward and hooks his fingers in Stiles’ belt loops, pulling them together.

They stumble and flop onto the bed, both of them laughing and squirming to get comfortable, which ends up with Stiles on his back and Derek leaning over him, bracketed by Stiles’ legs.

As Derek leans down into the next kiss, he slips his fingers under Stiles’ shirt, bumping his fingers along Stiles’ ribs and digging at Stiles’ waist suddenly.

He jumps, squirming, and grabs Derek’s arm. “Quit tickling me,” he orders, adding a growl at the end without even thinking about it.

He suddenly feels dumb – it’s something that he does with the pack all the time, sharing in wolf-like behaviors like curling his lip and growling and stuff. But Derek’s the Alpha, so he waits for Derek to start laughing or make fun of him.

Derek doesn’t laugh. If anything, he looks like he’s just been punched, dragging in a deep breath, his muscles tense. He leans close and growls back, “Why don’t you make me?”

Stiles shivers the slightest bit at the tone of his voice and flashes his teeth, reeling him closer.

-----

Stiles sits up, his heart hammering, and blinks into the dim room.

For a moment, he doesn’t know where he is and he reaches under his pillow for his knife but it’s not there.

He feels the bed shift and juts his hand out, but whoever it is catches it and murmurs softly, “Easy, Stiles.”

He feels his face heat up and pulls his hand back gently. “Sorry,” he mutters.

“Nothing to be sorry for,” Derek tells him, sitting up and patting down his hair. “You alright?” he asks softly.

Stiles nods and rubs his face. “Yeah, fine.”

“So do you always try to punch people in the face when you wake up in their bed?”

“Just another one of my many issues,” he half-jokes. “I don’t sleep well without my safety nets.” At Derek’s raised eyebrow, he ticks off his fingers, “You know: knife under the pillow, gun under the mattress, sigils and seals on all the doors and windows. Also, my dangerous twin sister just down the hall. Now I have a bonus werewolf brother, so I’m always safe and sound!”

“Sigils…” Derek mutters thoughtfully, ignoring Stiles’ sarcasm. He snaps his fingers and points at Stiles. “You! You’re why my arm was numb all night!”

Stiles smiles and holds out his hands. “If you hadn’t been trying to break in, then you’d have been fine. We just wanted to watch Mean Girls in peace.”

Derek glares, crossing his arms, and mutters, “Well you were sleeping just fine until Lydia got here.”

“Is that what it was?” Stiles muses.

“She always slams the door,” Derek complains, rolling his eyes. “She does it on purpose because she lives to annoy me.”

Stiles laughs. “Well, I didn’t mean to fall asleep. My bad.”

“It’s fine.” Derek shrugs. “I was gonna wake you up but I ended up falling asleep too.”

“Aren’t we cute?” Stiles coos, patting around for his phone on the milk crate next to the bed. He taps the screen and groans lowly when he sees that it’s almost seven. “I have to go.” He shoots a text to Allison telling her that he’s on his way home and rolls his eyes when she sends back heart-eye and kissy emojis.

Derek, when Stiles glances back at him, nods but Stiles thinks he almost looks a little bummed.

Stiles smiles and teases, “I know you’ll miss me but you’ll see me soon. Tomorrow, even, what with school and all.”

“Far too soon,” Derek mutters, playing at being annoyed.

“Aw, come on, don’t be mad. What’s a little territorial magic between friends?” Stiles wiggles around and climbs on top of Derek. “Give me a kiss for the road, Grumpy Wolf. You know you want to.”

Derek grumbles and flips them, leaning down and giving Stiles a lot more thorough of a kiss than he expected. When Derek pulls back, he’s really tempted to just say fuck it and stay, but he makes himself leave.

"A pleasure, as always, Alpha Hale."

"Likewise."

He doesn’t run into Lydia, luckily, but his Jeep is outside, so it’s not like she won’t know he’s there. He sighs, wondering what the ramifications could be from that, but he ignores it for now.

When he gets home, he ignores Allison’s subtle teasing while he heats up leftovers and falls into bed around midnight after studying the bestiary, making a note to ask Derek where he got his pillows before he passes out.

-----

Stiles doesn’t expect his listening spells to be so useful so quickly but on Monday, he notices someone sliding up close to Derek while the Alpha is undoing his combo lock. Stiles knows Derek can protect himself but he activates the listening spell, just to be sure.

“Hey,” the guy says, and Derek jerks his head up, “you dropped this.”

Derek and Stiles both look at the guy’s hand – he’s holding out a piece of paper with writing all over it. Derek nods, mutters, “Thanks,” and takes the paper. The guy nods and walks away.

Stiles rolls his eyes, calling himself six kinds of paranoid, and is about to turn the spell back off when Lydia strolls up and posts up on the locker next to Derek’s.

“So, I noticed you weren’t alone when I went to the loft to grab a book last night,” she says lightly as she surveys the halls.

Stiles hits his forehead against his locker and groans under his breath.

“And?” Derek half-growls, digging in his locker.

She shrugs, batting her eyes. “Just curious as to what’s going on with you and Stiles.”

Derek huffs and snaps, “There’s nothing going on.”

Stiles frowns, grip tightening on the book in his hand. He tries to not to look directly at them, glad that there’s a crowd between them.

Lydia’s eye roll is clear in her voice. “Oh calm down, Derek, I’m just teasing.”

The crowd clears again and Stiles sees Derek give her a firm look as he orders, “Don’t.”

“Goodness,” she drawls, impervious to his glare and twirling her hair around her finger, “you’re awfully defensive considering ‘there’s nothing going on’.”

Erica appears next to Lydia and looks between them, asking, “Oh, are you talking about Derek fooling around with Stiles? He only looks constipated like that when he’s talking about being attracted to Stiles or vice versa.”

Nothing is going on, so just drop it,” Derek almost snarls, hands clenched tightly.

Erica raises her eyebrows. “Jesus.”

Lydia states softly, “You know Derek, if there was something going on, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.” She holds up a hand to stop him from replying and adds, “I’m sorry for prying; I didn’t realize it would upset you.” She turns to Erica and says, “Let’s go get a manicure.”

Erica loops their arms together, seemingly completely done with the topic as well. “We should go to that place by the mall, the one with the fountains.”

“Derek can pay,” Lydia decrees, turning on her heel and heading for the door.

Derek shakes his head and slams his locker door shut. He follows Erica and Lydia out, a scowl twisting his mouth as he states, “I’m not getting another French manicure, Lydia, not even on my toes.”

Stiles laughs softly despite himself and deactivates the spell.

That’s what you get for eavesdropping, he thinks, ignoring the tight feeling in his throat.

He’s not an idiot. He knows that he and Derek have just been fooling around to relieve pressure or because they’re both hot and available or whatever. It’s not the first time he’s done something like this, though it’s usually been with other Hunters his age or civilians.

He doesn’t dwell on it, pushing the thought away when Scott jumps on him and demands that he join them in a game of lacrosse followed by “werewolf hijinks”.

“What does that entail, exactly?” he asks, hooking his arms under Scott’s legs to ensure a proper piggyback and walking toward the doors.

“Basically we run around the woods and act like idiots,” Scott explains, clearly content with his perch on Stiles’ back.

“Cool. I’m in.”

Chapter Text

Something is off with Stiles on Tuesday.

Derek wonders if he’s gotten some word about Kate but when Derek slides into the desk next to Stiles, the Hunter glances over, nods, and looks back at the whiteboard where the teacher has the assignment scrawled.

Allison had ended up joining them at the nail salon the night before and she hadn’t told them that anything was wrong, but something clearly is.

At the end of the day, Stiles goes to Scott’s to play video games, Isaac and Boyd trailing behind them.

Derek waits until the next morning to ask Stiles about it, greeting him before the first bell with a casual, “Hey.”

“Hey,” Stiles echoes, fiddling with his locker.

“So, what’s going on?” he asks, leaning against the lockers.

“Doesn’t matter,” Stiles says, not denying it but not looking at him either. “It’s nothing important.”

“Come on,” Derek cajoles.

Stiles opens his locker and sighs, rolling his eyes. “I heard what you said to Lydia and Erica on Monday.”

Derek tries not to wince. “Oh.”

Stiles digs around in his locker, replacing binders from his bag with new ones. “Like I said, it’s not important.”

“Look, my pack is filled with a bunch of busybodies who don’t know when to leave well enough alone,” Derek explains. "They're always trying to pry into other peoples' business."

Stiles shakes his head. “Derek, I’m not trying to interrogate you or whatever. You asked what was wrong, I told you. That’s all.”

"Okay," Derek says, oddly relieved.

Stiles closes his locker and grins. “It’s not a big deal, dude. I get it. You need to look out for your pack and I’m a distraction.” He smirks. “An incredibly sexy distraction, but a distraction nonetheless. So, that said, if you want me to take a hike, I will.”

“Okay…” Derek repeats, unsure as to how the situation has gotten to this point.

Stiles seems to sense his indecision and takes pity on him. His voice is gentle when he prompts, “This would be the part where you tell me what you want from me, Frowny Wolf.”

Derek blinks. “I… don’t know.”

“Hm.” Stiles tilts his head, studying Derek. In that moment, he’s every bit a Hunter, keen gaze taking in far more than Derek is comfortable with. “Well, let me know when you figure it out.” His voice is pleasant and he slips his bag onto his shoulder, saluting jauntily. “See you in English.”

Derek watches Stiles walk away and, for some stupid reason, it feels like he’s been stabbed, even though it wasn’t a confrontational conversation. And it’s not like they broke up or whatever, since they weren’t dating or anything really close to it.

He shakes his head and goes to class, ignoring Erica’s curious look.

Despite how easygoing Stiles was, Derek sort of expects him to be a dick or stop talking to him or something, but he’s whatever passes for “normal” with Stiles.

He sticks his tongue out at Derek in English, mocks his choice of snacks when the pack gets together to watch a movie on Friday, teases him at training on Sunday. The only difference is that Stiles used to linger after the pack would split up, but now, he leaves with Scott or Allison.

Derek won’t lie to himself, he misses the make outs. But he also kind of misses the random conversations he and Stiles would have. It’s stupid that eight days can make such a difference, but it is what it is.

On Monday night, he’s making his bed and, as he shakes out the comforter, he gets a whiff of Stiles’ scent. He hears Stiles call him “Grumpy Wolf” and can almost see the smirk on his face and it makes him smile. He’s all… warm inside and it makes his wolf hum happily in the back of his head.

He groans when he realizes what he’s feeling and falls face down on the bed. He likes Stiles, like really likes him.

He groans again because he doesn’t have time for this shit right now!

Kate is on her way to Beacon Hills, followed by who knows how many other Hunters, plus there's still the Hunters placed in town already.

And all Derek can fucking think about is Stiles’ fucking laugh and his skin and how he rolls his eyes.

He decides to keep it to himself for now. Stiles said to let him know whenever he made up his mind. He’ll just wait until this shit is over and then… well, he’ll just have to see.

The next day, he’s so frustrated from biting his tongue, and the way Stiles was eating Twizzlers earlier, that he decides to go for a run in the Preserve. He decides not to bother Cora, since Isaac is over, and scribbles a note on the board stuck to the fridge.

He hikes into the trees behind the building and runs until he can’t hear any cars. He turns around when he gets to the edge of the territory and is distracted, catching a whiff of a deer, when he hears a branch break. 

He stops, turning toward the sound. He barely hears the whistle of the dart from the other direction before it hits him in the arm. Snarling, he pulls it out and drops it, whirling around and searching the trees around him.

“Well, well, well,” a feminine voice says, making his skin break out in goosebumps. A woman steps out of the trees, her smile bright and sharp. “You’ve certainly grown up, Derek.” She puts a hand on her hip and muses, “Are introductions in order? I don’t suppose we ever officially met.”

He’s feeling dizzy as he growls, “I know who you are.”

“Oh, good!” She laughs and it makes his insides twist, his legs buckling. “That’ll make this whole thing a lot easier.”

He sinks to his knees, the world going a little kaleidoscopic.

Whatever she dosed him with, it’s strong. It takes barely any effort for her to push him over.

“Night, night,” she says as his vision fades to black.

-0-0-0-

Stiles and Allison shamble out of their rooms at the same time, almost bumping into each other at the top of the stairs.

Liam grumbles from behind them, “Hurry up, Dad’s cooking bacon.”

The twins walk slower, mostly just to irritate Liam, and smile at each other as he shoves at their shoulders.

He growls lowly when they're almost all the way downstairs and Stiles admonishes, "Tut, tut, must control that temper, young padowan."

Liam grumbles but softly mutters one of the mantras Derek taught him.

Thankfully he doesn't growl again because, as they walk into the kitchen, they see Kate sitting at the table with their dad.

“Well hi there, sleepyheads,” Kate greets warmly.

Allison recovers first and moves forward to hug Kate. “Hi! When did you get in?”

Kate hugs her then pulls back, waving a hand. “I’ve been here since early this morning.”

Stiles feels his body flash with fear and has to consciously try not to snarl at her as he makes his way toward the coffee pot. He’s maybe adopting too many behaviors from the pack these days.

“Wow, Liam, you’ve gotten so big!” Kate coos and Stiles just tries his best to ignore her for as long as he can, mind racing now that she’s actually here.

Can she tell that Liam’s different in more ways than one?

“Stiles,” she greets warmly, and he turns around, smiling sleepily at her.

“Morning, Kate. Have a good trip?” he asks, his voice clearly telling her what his words aren’t.

“Good as can be.” She smiles at him, eyes cold as ice. “You’ve gotten taller. When are you gonna stop growing?”

“Whenever you stop dying your hair, I guess,” he simpers back.

His dad puts down the paper he's reading and says, “There’s bacon and sausage in the oven...”

“Pancakes in the freezer,” the siblings chorus and they get back on track in their morning routine.

While Stiles is gnawing on this thumbnail and watching a plate of pancakes spin around the microwave, his phone vibrates. He raises his eyebrows when he sees who's calling because it’s Cora of all people.

Casually, as if he isn’t answering a call from a werewolf, he slides his thumb over the screen and puts it to his ear. “Sup?”

“Have you heard from Derek?” she asks abruptly, worry creeping into her voice when she says her brother’s name.

“Uhhh, no?” He glances at Allison who raises an eyebrow at him but doesn’t pull her gaze from Kate, who’s in the middle of a story about South America.

“I can’t get in touch with him and no one else can either. He left a note that he was going for a run in the Preserve last night but he wasn’t there when we looked. We know he’s alive but we don’t know where he is. His trail just disappears, like fucking magic or something and we can't track it! We found a - a dart of some kind, but none of us could touch it so we had to grab it and put it in a bag but-”

“Dude, breathe,” Stiles orders softly as the microwave beeps.

She pauses, takes a deep breath, and says, “It’s her, isn’t it? She’s back.”

Stiles stares at the side of “her” head and says, “Sure is.”

Cora’s silent for a moment. “She’s there.”

“Yeah,” he answers and throws a light laugh at the end so it doesn’t seem like he’s starting to really freak out. “I’ll meet you at the library and we can compare notes,” he suggests.

“Be careful,” she orders and hangs up.

“Who was that?” Liam asks for Allison’s benefit, since he clearly heard the whole conversation.

“Greenburg,” Stiles says as he rolls his eyes. He pulls the pancakes from the microwave and adds, “We have a chapter review today. He needs my help so he doesn’t flunk the quiz and lose his spot on the lacrosse team.”

Liam nods. “He’s a decent midfielder. Suck if he got benched for grades.”

“Yeah.” He grabs a pancake, wraps it around a piece of sausage, and says, “We need to head out in twenty so I can meet him. Shake a leg if you’re coming with.” He salutes his dad and ignores Kate, leaving the kitchen and immediately feeling a million times better.

Now he just has to figure out what the hell his aunt has done with the Hale pack’s Alpha. Not to mention, the full moon is in two days and it’ll only be the second full moon that Liam’s gone through and Liam’s doing better this time with his control than he was at the same time last month, but who knows how well he’ll do and what if he gets out again…

Plus Kate has Derek somewhere and, no matter how damn nonchalant he was when he talked to Derek about "them", he really cares about Derek and maybe even likes him, like in a bigger way than he expected...

“Fuck,” he whispers, pulling at his hair. "Fuck, fuck, fuck."

-0-0-0-

Derek knows he’s in the basement of the old house before he even opens his eyes. It’s the smell of rotting, burnt wood that cinches it.  

He confirms it when he opens his eyes. He’s in the basement, in some sort of giant metal cage that’s likely meant for dogs to roam around in a bit but he’s chained against one side of it.

He’s twisting his wrists in the cuffs – they burn like a bitch – when Kate appears at the bottom of the staircase and smiles at him.

“Wow, little Derek Hale. It’s still such a shock to see you so grown up!” Her tone is sickly-sweet when she says, “You look a lot like your dad, but man those are your mom’s eyes!”

He watches her, keeping his mouth shut for the moment.

“So what’s been going on since I’ve been gone? I see they got a new grocery store and a Starbucks.” She mocks, “Big changes for good old Beacon Hills!”

He squints at her, trying to gauge her mood, but her chemo-signals are all over the damn place and, frankly, she’s fucking creeping him out, so he’s having a problem getting a read on her.

“You know, it’s the oddest thing,” she starts, looking like she’s just at a total loss. “I come back to town and all my old friends are dead.” She smiles at him again and his stomach twists. “You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you, Derek?”

He decides it may be better to talk to her, to keep her from doing something worse. “Peter woke up.”

“Oh boy, that must’ve been fun.” She sounds genuinely gleeful and he’s suddenly so glad that she was nowhere around when Peter woke up. “Where is that handsome rogue these days?”

He shrugs the best he can, trying to retain his calm façade even though he feels like bile is threatening to crawl up this throat. “He’s dead too.”

“Ah, so let me guess, you’re the Alpha now?” She doesn't wait for him to answer, instead shoving the nightstick against his stomach and zapping him.

He groans and shakes, his eyes flashing at her.

“Ohhh!” she coos. She pulls the nightstick away and pats his cheek roughly several times. “What a good boy you are.”

“Don’t touch me,” he snarls.

“Sweetheart, you’re not really in any position to be giving me orders.” She glances at her watch and smiles. “Well, it’s time for breakfast. Sorry you’ll have to miss yours this morning, but I’ll be sure to bring you a doggie-bag later.”

He growls at her and she laughs as she slams the door to the cage shut and climbs out of the basement.

He wants so badly to howl, to bring his pack to him, but he can’t because god only knows what kind of nasty shit is set up in the woods right now.

He knows that Stiles and Allison have been keeping an eye on the really bad stuff, but there’s a lot going on and they’re only able to do so much.

Really, the only option he has is to wait because he knows his pack will find him, knows that Stiles and Allison will help them, and that they'll all figure this shit out.

The slamming of the front door does little to help the quiet voice inside of him that's insisting that he's going to die like this, strapped in a dog cage in the basement of his dead family's house.

Several drops of musty water land on his face and he growls. He shakes the water and his dark thoughts away, muttering angrily, “I’m definitely fucking bulldozing this place after I get out of here.”

Chapter Text

Allison, being the wonderful sister/Hunter that she is, doesn’t ask any questions until they’re in the Jeep and headed for the school.

“Okay, what was that about?” She pulls her hair over her left shoulder and starts braiding it. “I saw Greenburg at lacrosse practice. He’s awful, so I don’t think his test scores matter.”

Stiles gives her a brief run down, focusing hard on obeying the traffic laws. Yeah, John is his godfather and he might get a pass but he doesn’t want to get pulled over. If it occurs to him that he’s trying to keep his mind off of Derek, he doesn’t mention it aloud.

When he’s done, Allison is pale, fingers gone still in her braid. “She’ll use him to bring the pack in and then kill them all.”

Stiles nods. “Pretty much what I figured, yeah.”

“This is really bad.”

“We have to do something,” Liam insists, leaning forward.

“I know. We’ll figure it out.” They take the last turn into the school parking lot, Stiles throws the Jeep into park, and they all get out.

They hurry into the library and a soft whistle jerks their attention to the upper level. Boyd jerks his head at them and disappears into the shelves.

When the siblings move into the back of the section, they find the pack there, all of them tense and worried looking.

“Took you long enough,” Cora growls.

Stiles doesn’t take it to heart – he knows he’d been just as bad if it was one of his siblings that was missing. He just says, “It was hard getting out of the house early.”

Erica shudders. “I can’t imagine what it’s like to have her there now that you know what she’s done.”

He shrugs one shoulder. “It’s not like we can do anything about it at the moment.”

Liam adds, “If we just play normal, then we should be okay.”

“I hate to think that she’s there with you,” Scott admits, clasping Liam’s shoulder. “How’s your control been?”

Liam takes a deep breath. “It’s been better, but I’m having to focus a lot harder to keep from shifting.”

Scott nods and motions Hayden, Mason, and Kira over.

Cora motions at Boyd and he steps closer to Stiles. Boyd holds out the dart, wrapped in a hank of blue cloth, and asks, “Can you track Derek from this?”

Stiles bites his lip. “I can try, but I can’t promise anything.” He takes it and holds it in his palm, focusing on the essence that rises around it. There’s nothing to find that makes him think of Derek, just a haze from the wolfsbane. “I’m not getting anything.”

“Dammit. We have to do something! We can’t just let her have him!” Cora snarls.

“Hey, easy,” Isaac murmurs, putting his hand on her shoulder. “We’ll figure it out.”

Lydia sighs, rubbing her forehead. “I’m just having trouble figuring out how to find Derek if we can’t track him.”

“Could Deaton help?” Boyd asks. “Maybe he has something that can find Derek.”

Isaac shakes his head. “He’s out of town this week at a conference. Scott and I are taking care of the animals.”

“Could we use his supplies, then?”

Stiles gnaws on his thumbnail, warning, “I’m not nearly as advanced as Deaton. I’m just a little knack here, little sparkle there. I can’t do big stuff like that.”

Lydia agrees, “It takes a remarkable amount of power to do a tracker spell correctly, even if we have a better focus.”

“Maybe we can follow Kate?” Liam suggests as he turns back to the group at large. He looks a little more centered and he’s holding Hayden’s hand.

Allison sighs, shaking her head. “Who’s to say she’ll even go to where she’s got him before tomorrow? And she’ll definitely notice if we’re following her.”

Cora suggests, “We could just grab her and torture the answer out of her?”

The bell rings and they all look at each other.

“Okay everyone,” Scott says, “we keep in contact with each other. Buddy system. No one alone.” He glances at Cora. “If all else fails, we’ll talk about more drastic measures.”

They all nod and go their separate ways.

Lydia tucks her hand into the curve of Stiles’ arm as they head toward Physics. “If things go crazy again, it’s going to wreak havoc on my GPA.”

“Eh, it’s sort of always like this for us.”

She glances up at him. “What do you mean?”

“Well, we’re always on the Hunt. A lot of the time, the Big Bad is involved with the school. Either they’re a student, a teacher, or just using the people as a food source.” He shrugs. “I’m smart and all but I’m not sure college is gonna be the way this all ends for me, so I’m not terribly concerned about my GPA.”

“That’s a shame,” she murmurs. “You could do great things.” Her voice has the hint of something more in it.

He frowns and pats her hand. It sort of freaks him out, the idea that Lydia can see his future, but it’s also a little reassuring.

It means that, somewhere, sometime, he actually gets to have a future. It’s a nice thought.

-----

They reconvene with the pack after school but no one has heard or felt anything new so they split up, some of the pack to go search for Derek, the rest to go home to their families and pretend that everything is normal.

When Stiles and his siblings get home from school, the house is filled with Hunters and their dad has spread the map of Beacon Hills out on the dining room table.

“Pre-watch assignments,” their dad says when he sees them.

They all nod and dutifully make their way over after dropping their bags off at the bottom of the stairs.

“You guys cover the opposite area from last month,” he orders, running his fingers along the edge of the Preserve. “Be sure to update the map so that we can keep an eye on any changes to the landscape.”

It’s pretty much what they did the last time they patrolled, but this time they’ll have Liam with them. It’s unclear how they’re gonna get out of patrolling tomorrow night, but they’ll have to think of some way to get Liam away from prying eyes during the full moon.

Kate appears at his elbow and says, “Why don’t I take the kiddos with me? It’s been a while since we’ve had some quality time to spend together.” She taps the area nearest to the Hale House.

Stiles and Allison glance at each other, then at Liam. His control is better, but how long will he be able to hold out, especially if Kate decides to be nasty while they’re on patrol?

Their dad hesitates for a moment, not long enough for most to notice, but enough to make Kate raise her eyebrows at him.

“Fine, they’re yours for the night.”

It feels a little like a death sentence.

They smile at Kate when she turns to them and claps her hands. “Alright, kiddos, grab some grub and meet at the car in twenty.”

The house is too crowded to do much more than grab some food and head upstairs. Liam backs into his bedroom enough to be hidden and gives them wide eyes, his hands held up shakily before him. The skin flexes and his fingertips prick with the beginnings of claws.

Stiles pulls Allison into his room. He says quietly, “Breathe, little wolf, breathe.”

“Focus,” Allison orders softly. “Focus on my breathing.” She takes several deep breaths in and out. When he looks calmer, she asks, “Better?”

Liam nods, looking less stressed.

“Good. Now get ready for a patrol. Full gear under your clothes.”

Stiles looks at Allison, frowning. It’s more than they usually wear for basic patrols, especially now that they know the local pack, but he can see why she’s making Liam do it. It could protect him from Kate if she somehow finds out and decides to hurt him.

He nudges her shoulder and says, “Get out. I have to change.”

She flaps her hand at him and leaves, heading for her own room.

Stiles adds a few extra things to his own patrol gear, just in case. There’s really no way to know how this patrol will end and he’s always rather liked the idea of being prepared for anything.

-----

The patrol is actually pretty normal. They go around the area on foot and check for any signs that their traps have been triggered.

None of them are sprung, of course, because Stiles and Allison marked their locations on a map for the pack right after they were put down.

Luckily, they don’t have to scramble for safe conversation topics and the time passes quite quickly.

Stiles is almost certain that this is going to be just another patrol when Kate turns to them as dusk starts creeping along the forest floor.

She asks lowly, “Can you guys keep a secret?”

The three of them look at each other and then back to her. Allison asks, “What kind of secret?”

Kate smiles, a flash of white in the greying light. “The best kind.”

They all nod and trail after her as she makes her way further into the woods.

It doesn’t take long for Stiles’ suspicions to be confirmed. They break free of the trees and end up a few yards from the decaying remains of the Hale house.

Kate goes first and Stiles waves Allison and Liam ahead of him, checking behind him for anyone else that may be lurking, but it’s just them.

Them and Derek, he sees, after Kate has unlocked a bolted door and led them down rickety stairs to a moist basement. Derek is in a fucking cage and he’s strapped to the wall and Stiles can hear the hum of electricity and…

Stiles swallows hard, fighting the urge to throw up.

“May I present the Alpha of the Hale pack?” Kate announces, giving a little bow and laughing gleefully.

“Wow, Kate, you’ve outdone yourself.” Allison’s tone sounds approving and a little disgusted, but it’s probably not for the reason Kate thinks. “What are we gonna do with him?”

She smiles. “Make him call the rest of his mongrel pack and then get rid of them.”

“When?”

She shrugs, glancing at her watch. “Tonight’s as good as any, I suppose. It depends on how many of them there are.” She scowls at Derek who glares back fiercely. “Someone won’t answer any of my questions, so it’s been a little difficult to hammer down the number.”

Ignoring the implications of her statement and the dried blood that mars Derek’s skin, Stiles mentally scrambles for a plan. “Does anyone else know you’ve captured him?” He almost slips up and says ‘abducted’ but he doesn’t.

“I was waiting.” She smiles conspiratorially. “It’s a surprise for your dad.”

Stiles smiles back, even though he feels like screaming. “Why not wait ‘til tomorrow?”

Kate raises her eyebrows at him. “You know the full moon makes them stronger. It’s not exactly optimal Hunting time.”

Allison, picking up on his plan, chimes in, “Not usually, but they’ll be weak without him, unable to think straight because of the moon.” Her voice is utterly reasonable. “They can’t have very much control if they killed all those kids, right?”

Seeing that Kate’s actually listening, Stiles continues, “They’ll probably end up charging in guns blazing without a plan. After all,” he has to look away from Derek to add, “power comes from the head.”

Kate smiles benevolently at him like maybe she finally sees something she likes.

Stiles continues, trying to keep the disgust off his face, “If we just kill him, the Alpha power will just go to the next wolf in line. This way, we can make sure they don’t get it back.”

“Now that’s solid Hunter strategy.” She puts her arm across his shoulders and he has to fight not to cringe away as she ruffles his hair. “You’re growing up to be a hell of a Right Hand Man.”

Allison smirks at Stiles. “He’s alright I guess.”

He sticks his tongue out at her. “Shut up, you love me.”

Kate laughs, telling Allison. “You’re gonna be a hell of a Matriarch too.”

Allison smiles. “Thanks, Kate.”

Liam rolls his eyes, every inch the exasperated younger brother, but Stiles can see the tension in his shoulders. He’s been holding in his wolf beautifully, but there’s no way to know how long he can keep it up. “Can we leave now? If we’re waiting ‘til tomorrow to take out the pack, I have an Environmental Science paper to finish.”

Kate laughs. “Well, maybe we can stop for ice cream first? As long as you guys don’t tell your dad we left the patrol early, I won’t.” She almost sounds like a normal aunt come to town for a normal visit.

Liam looks long-suffering, but he has a bigger sweet tooth than either of the twins. “I guess we can stop for ice cream first.” He glances over at Derek but doesn't give anything away, just turns and heads for the stairs.

Allison hooks her arm in Kate’s, pulling her hold from Stiles’ shoulders. “On the way, you’ve got to tell me where you got those boots. I’ve been trying to find some with zippers like that for ages.”

Stiles smiles like everything’s normal, trailing the others up the stairs. When he reaches the top, he grabs the door and the padlock, shutting it solidly and making it look like he's locking it back up.

When he’s sure that Allison’s got Kate far enough away, he presses his hand to the door and whispers, “We’ll be back for you. I promise.”

He leaves before he can say anything else. Something stupid like he’s so glad Derek is alive or that he wants nothing more than to put his hands on the sides of Derek’s face and kiss him stupid or that he’s gonna make Kate pay for what she’s done to him and his family.

The soot that covers his hand seems to burn as he wipes it off on his jeans and walks out of the house.

Chapter Text

Allison pokes her head into his room after they’ve gotten back from their patrol with Kate. She gives him a once-over, smiles brightly, and asks, “Wanna go to the movies?”

“Hmm, I’m not crashing a date, am I?” he asks as he slips a couple of herb sachets into his pockets.

Allison shakes her head, signing at him and asking if he’s fully armed yet. “Nah, Scott said he’ll be there too.”

“Cool.” Stiles pats his sheathes to check that his knives are lying flat and nods, shooting her a thumbs-up. “In that case, lead the way.”

They tromp down the stairs, Liam still in his room getting ready, since he’s got to adjust to the new knives that they’ve gotten for him that don’t have silver or wolfsbane on or in them.

“Where are you guys headed off to so late?” Kate asks, looking up from a stack of papers.

“Going to the movies,” Allison chirps, smoothing her hair in the reflection of a picture of them at the beach.

“For a movie date,” their dad adds, tapping at his phone.

“I didn’t know you guys were dating people. Allison, why didn’t you tell me?”

Allison ducks her head, only a little of the embarrassment faked. “Well, it’s sort of new for me. We’ve only been on a couple of dates.”

“And you go out so close to the full moon?” Kate asks, raising her eyebrows at their dad.

“I trust them to keep themselves and others safe.” Their dad looks a little pained. “It’s not just Allison. Liam’s been dating his girlfriend almost since we moved here.”

Kate huffs a laugh and turns to Stiles. “And what about you?”

He shrugs, playing it cool. “Nah, I’m just hanging out right now. Not seeing anyone.”

“Hm, I find that hard to believe.”

It’s regular teasing, nothing even remotely suspicious in her tone, but it makes his heart pound.

What would she say if she knew that the guy that Stiles is interested in is currently locked in a cage and turns furry every now and then?

Ohhh, boy, what a mess that would be.

However, he could always throw Peter in her face… Not that that would make things easier to explain, since he shouldn’t know anything about that, but still.

He sighs dramatically. “Sadly, no one has come along that notices how wonderful I am.”

“Oh god, shut up already,” Liam half-growls as he comes down the stairs. “We’re gonna be late for the movie if you don’t kill the theatrics.”

“Some people just can’t appreciate my genius,” Stiles sniffs, grabbing his keys and marching haughtily to the door.

Their dad calls, “Have fun!”

Once they’re at the movie theatre, they buy tickets for the first movie that plays closest to eleven. They sit near the front of the theatre and wait for the lights to dim then slip out through the emergency exit as the first preview plays.

The pack waits in the alley for them, Cora’s eyes flashing as she stands up from a crouch, the other pack members grim-faced around her.

“We don’t have much time,” Allison whispers, jerking her head toward the fence at the end of the alley.

-0-0-0-

Derek jerks awake when he hears footsteps above him. The door at the top of the stairs rattles then opens. He waits, bracing himself for Kate’s vicious smile and sickening smell to reach him.

Instead, he gets the mixed scents of his pack as they’re lead down the stairs by Allison.

Cora growls, launching herself at the cage, ready to rip the door off before he can warn her. She yips in pain as she’s shocked, letting go and curling her palms against her chest.

“I was going to warn you,” he croaks. “You have to unhook the battery first.”

Allison steps up and pulls the wires apart enough that the circuit dies.

Derek slumps in relief, letting out a long sigh. “Thank you.”

Allison frowns, shaking her head as she steps back and lets Stiles move forward with his lock picks. “I’m sorry.”

“We’ll have you out in a jiff,” Stiles chirps, clearly trying to sound cheerful.

“Where are Erica and Isaac?” he asks, looking over his pack and it makes his wolf calm down to see that they all look okay.

“Keeping watch,” Scott tells him.

Derek nods as the door swings open and Cora darts forward. “Wait,” Derek orders. “You can’t break the cuffs.”

“Why not?” she demands, eyes flashing.

“Because we have to make it look like I’m still locked up.”

“What? Why?”

“I have a plan.”

“We already have a plan,” Scott says. “We’re getting you out of here.”

Derek sighs. “Well I didn’t know you already had a plan, so I made up one of my own.” He looks at the Hunters. “Besides, if she comes back and I’m gone, then she’ll know it was you guys.”

Allison shrugs. “We could always say one of your pack followed us.”

“You could, but she wouldn’t trust you.”

Stiles climbs to his feet, slipping into the cage and reaching up to pick the cuffs. “Plus she could always have us followed then she’d see you with us.”

“I think we wait for her to come back tomorrow,” Derek says, trying not to give in to the urge to bury his face in the crook of Stiles’ neck.

“What?” Cora snarls.

“Leave me here and wait for her to bring you guys back,” he explains. “Then, when she thinks you’re going to torture me, I break out of my cuffs, which you’ve left undone, and we take her down.”

“That’s… actually a really good plan,” Lydia muses.

He glares at her. “You don’t have to sound so surprised.”

“I wasn’t trying to be insulting.” She shrugs. “Usually you aren’t the one who comes up with plans.”

“I’ve had a lot of time to think.”

“Yeah, I can imagine,” Boyd rumbles.

“I’m bulldozing this place, by the way,” he tells Cora. “Once this is all over, this place is coming down. I’m tired of Hunters using our past to hurt us.”

Cora nods, eyes blazing. “Okay.”

Stiles makes a small noise of triumph when he gets the cuffs unlocked. He gives Derek a small smile and presses their hands together for the briefest moments before he pulls away and backs out of the cage.

Derek rubs his wrists, making himself focus and turn to his pack. He accepts the bottle of water and protein bar that Scott hands him.

They end up talking for over an hour and all finally have a plan, though some of them aren’t one hundred percent on board with it. When he steps back into the cage, it’s Stiles that follows him, closing the metal over his wrists without fastening them.

“See you tomorrow,” Stiles murmurs.

“Tomorrow,” Derek murmurs back, silently promising himself that he’ll talk to Stiles and tell him how he feels after they’ve dealt with Kate.

Even though he’s locked into the basement again, he’s not as on edge as he was before.

Now, he can hear Isaac and Erica’s heartbeats. In a few hours, Boyd and Kira will take over, then Cora and Scott. It makes a world of difference having two members of his pack watching over him and he’s actually able to drift off.

-0-0-0-

Friday morning, Stiles wakes up to Liam growling lowly and Allison whispering rapidly.

“Is there a reason you’re standing at the end of my bed?” he croaks roughly. “I haven’t even opened my eyes yet. This is criminal.”

Allison smacks his foot and that makes his crack his eyes enough to glare at her. “Don’t look at me like that,” she snaps, still whispering. “Kate isn’t here but she’s got a ton of extra wolfsbane in her room.” She waves her hand at Liam. “He’s not reacting well.”

“My nose is on fire,” Liam growls, rubbing his face and snuffling like he’s got a cold.

Stiles grunts and turns over, slapping at his nightstand until he gets his phone. “Erica says that Kate’s shopping.” He rolls his eyes. “Probably for torture tools, though Erica says Kate has good taste in jackets for a murderous bitch.”

All the pack members that can be out of school are posted in different areas for surveillance. Scott and Cora are watching over the Hale house to make sure that Kate doesn’t arrive too early and ruin the plan. Erica and Lydia are trailing Kate and the rest of them are forced to attend school as if nothing’s amiss.

Stiles grumbles, tossing off his blankets, “Alright, get out. I need to get ready.”

It’s one of the tensest school days Stiles can remember and for him, that’s saying something. He can barely pay attention to anything that anyone’s saying, only eats because he knows he needs the energy for later, and wishes he had the power to make time move faster as the clock ticks closer and closer to the end of the day.

When the bell rings, his siblings and the rest of the pack meet at his Jeep.

“Okay, everyone on the same page?” he asks after he slings his bag behind his seat. He looks around at everyone nodding or murmuring and claps his hands together. “Then let’s get this show on the road.”

Chapter Text

The evening of the full moon passes quickly with preparation: a hurried meal of burritos eaten over a map of the area, arming up, and chatting amiably with their dad’s Hunters.

They’re able to play totally normal, except for Liam’s stuffy nose. It’s at the point where his eyes are watering almost constantly and he’s snuffling every few minutes.

Kate sends him a sympathetic look. “You sure you’re up for this, kiddo?”

Liam nods, brave-faced. “I don’t want to miss any patrols. I still need to improve my tracking.”

Kate looks pleased but squeezes his shoulder and turns, calling, “Chris, I don’t think your mini-me is going to make it tonight.”

Their dad walks over, running his eyes over Liam in concern. “I thought you said you were feeling better?”

Liam juts his chin out. “I am. I’m fine,” he insists, but it sounds nasally and thick.

Their dad sighs and shakes his head. “Go take a shower and go to bed early. There’s-”

“Nyquil under the sink, yeah, yeah,” Liam gripes, rolling his eyes as he turns to go upstairs.

“And then there were three.” Kate grins at Stiles and Allison. “You guys ready to go?”

Allison smiles and nods, Stiles just nods, and they head off to their designated spot: the same area they patrolled the night before, dreadfully close to the ruins of the Hale House.

For the first few hours, it’s a totally normal patrol.

Stiles feels the runes on his arms pulse every once in a while, a reassuring hum that fades quickly. He notes lowly the visible marks from small forest creatures, moves quietly through the woods, and keeps his position behind and slightly to the right of Allison.

All too soon, they break through the trees and come upon the house.

Kate’s smile is a slash of white in her shadowed face. “Let’s go have some fun.”

It’s all Stiles can do to not stab her in the face right then and there.

When they get downstairs, Kate puts her hands on her hips and asks Derek, “So, you ready to play along?”

He smiles at her. “Fuck you.”

“Oh goodness, that won’t do,” she simpers, reaching over to turn up the electricity.

Which they forgot to hook back up.

“Hey,” Stiles says urgently, “do you hear that?”

Kate’s hand pauses mid-air, inches from the dial. She turns and asks, “What?”

For a moment, there’s nothing, then a short burst of a howl that’s quickly cut off.

Stiles moves toward the window of the basement. “They’re close.”

Kate moves closer and witnesses the passing of a couple of shadowed forms on the edge of the clearing. “Guess they couldn’t stay away from their Alpha after all.” She squeezes Stiles’ shoulder. “Good call.”

He nods, his face expressionless once more when she turns back to taunt Derek.

“Well, well, looks like your pack is here.”

“Don’t you touch them,” Derek snarls, flashing his eyes and flexing his hands that are tipped with claws.

“God, you animals, absolutely no control,” she sneers, mouth twisted in disgust.

“Why don’t you let me out and I’ll show you control,” Derek shoots back.

“Aw, sweetheart, I would but that would just be so unfair. You’re chained up and it just wouldn’t be a fair fight.”

“Coward. You’re all well and good when you’ve got all your Hunter toys, but you can’t actually take one of us on without them.” He grins and informs her, “You’re weak.”

She flushes and pulls a key from her pocket. “We’ll see.” She opens the door and steps in, leering at him.

It takes all of three seconds for Derek to drop his hands and wrap them around her throat.

She scrabbles at his grip with one hand, the other dropping to her belt.

“Taser!” Stiles shouts.

Kate’s eyes dart to him and she looks confused, even as her face starts turning red.

Derek doesn’t give her enough time to figure out whose side Stiles is on. He slams her back against the bars once, twice, three times until her eyes roll up in her head.

Kate flops to the ground and Derek lets out a breath, wiping his hands on his pants.

“She makes my skin crawl,” he mutters.

“Same,” Allison and Stiles reply.

He turns to them and smiles as the door at the top of the stairs opens again and the pack, sans Boyd and Kira, comes flooding in.

“Man, I thought we were fucked for a second.” Stiles turns to the pack and says, “Kudos to whoever howled.”

Scott ducks his head, looking a little sheepish. “Yeah, I didn’t mean to be that loud.”

Erica smiles. “I stopped him.”

He eyes her. “By punching me in the stomach.”

Erica shrugs. “Details, details.” She puts her hands on her hips and looks at Kate. “Damn you’re a nasty piece of work, lady.”

“So… now what?” Scott asks.

“First, we disarm her,” Allison says. “Then, we lock her in.”

She steps up to do the disarming, reaching into Kate’s boots and pockets to get the hidden blades and lock picks.

“God, she’s armed to the teeth,” Erica notes as they step out and lock the cage.

“Allison is worse,” Lydia and Stiles say in unison.

They share a look, Stiles frowning and Lydia smirking.

“I don’t want to know how you know that,” Stiles informs the red head.

She simpers at him and inspects her nails.

“That felt too easy,” Cora says. “I mean, not that I wanted anyone to get shot or whatever, but…”

“Just wait until she wakes up,” Stiles sighs.

-o-o-o-

After almost a half an hour, Kate stirs, blinking and looking around before she realizes what’s happened.

“Morning, Sunshine!” Erica greets, flashing her eyes and tapping the bars with her claws.

“Mongrel,” Kate growls, looking pretty feral herself at the moment.

“So…” Scott looks around at them, repeating, “now what?”

“I vote that we kill her,” Cora decides.

Erica chimes in: “Seconded.”

Derek turns to the Hunters. “What do you think?”

The siblings share a look, communicating silently.

When Allison turns back to him, she’s more formal than he’s ever seen her. “We can’t make that decision.”

“What? Why not?” Cora demands, looking between them.

“Because we’re not the wronged party here.”

Stiles explains: “In situations like this, it generally falls to the Matriarch to judge a Hunter that’s done wrong but Ally doesn’t officially hold the title yet.”

“It’s enough of an emergency that we know we can’t really hold Kate long term.” Allison’s eyes tighten as she further clarifies, “We’re worried that the current leader of the family would be biased, so in the eyes of the Law, we’re in the right by placing the decision in your hands.”

“So you guys, the Hale pack, as the target and victims of her crimes, are the ones who have to decide what to do with her. You’ll have our support and we’ll do everything we can to help you whatever you decide,” Stiles assures them, “but you have to be the ones to make the decision.”

Derek studies them for a moment before asking, “Do you think we should kill her?”

“Are you asking a friend or as the Alpha of the Hale pack?” Allison muses.

Derek blinks at her, momentarily stunned that she does consider him a friend, then confirms, “A friend.”

Her mouth tightens, her eyes flashing, hand clasped tightly to her brother’s. “I would destroy anyone who took my family away from me.”

Derek’s pretty sure that means she’s on his side, so he turns to Stiles.

He shrugs, mouth twisting. “I’ve never liked her and she’s never liked me, so I don’t think I can be impartial enough for this. I’m sorry.”

“We appreciate your honesty,” Scott reassures him.

Derek turns and looks at the rest of the pack, motioning for them to follow him as they move away.

-0-0-0-

Stiles and Allison step back, giving the rest of the pack as much room as possible to discuss what they want to do with Kate.

Kate ignores them, focusing on Stiles and Allison. “You’re just gonna let them kill me? I’m a Hunter – I’m your family. Where’s your loyalty?”

Stiles scoffs. “Our loyalty is where it should be and it’s not with you, you fucking snake.”

Kate senses she’s got no hold with Stiles and turns to Allison. “Ally, you’re really letting Stiles speak to me like that?”

Allison’s spine stiffens and she spits, “I’m not letting him do anything. He’s more than just a fixture at my side but you’ve never gotten that. Besides, he’s right.” She squares her shoulders, stands just a bit taller. “Our loyalty is with the innocent, the ones who need to be protected, and that includes this pack.”

Kate makes a sound of disgust. “God, you’re just another bleeding heart.” She sighs, shaking her head. “I’m disappointed. I was hoping you’d end up like me.”

“A murderer?” Stiles suggests.

She glares at him. “A strong Hunter, someone who could take our family back to its position at the top. But you’re just like your parents. More content to stick to antiquated morals than to actually do something out the monsters infesting our world.”

“You’re so quick to assume that they’ll kill you. You assume that they’re monsters like you.”

“And you’re quick to assume that they won’t kill me.” Kate grins, a sickening expression. “We’ll just have to see, won’t we?”

-0-0-0-

“So?” Derek asks.

“Kill her,” Cora suggests.

Derek puts his hand on her shoulder. “We don’t have to be like her.”

“Wanting justice and killing children is not the same thing,” she growls.

“Not all monsters do monstrous things,” Lydia intones.

“We’re not monsters,” Cora snarls.

Erica shrugs. “I mean, we kind of are.”

Derek shakes his head. “There’s a difference in being a predator and being a killer.”

Cora turns on him. “Don’t quote Mom at me.”

Derek shrugs.

Scott looks up from his phone. “Boyd says he and Kira vote to keep her here until we can figure out what to do with her.”

Derek nods, looking around. “And everyone else?”

Cora, of course, votes to kill Kate. Erica and Isaac are with her. Everyone else votes to keep her alive, for now.

Derek and the pack move back toward Kate. He studies her for a moment before he informs her, “We aren’t going to kill you.”

You’re the weak ones,” she snarls, shooting the Hunters a glare, “especially you.” She turns back to the pack. “If you’re gonna kill me, just do it.”

Derek shakes his head. “Just because we’re not killers doesn’t mean we’re weak.”

“If anything, it makes us stronger than you,” Scott informs her.

With that, they turn and leave, the Hunters trailing after them.

And Derek has to admit, there’s a remarkable amount of catharsis in walking of the room and hearing Kate scream with rage as he slams the door and locks it behind him.

Chapter Text

Now that the largest part of the action is over, Stiles feels washed out and a little numb as he watches Derek limp toward the bathroom in the loft. He sighs, rubbing his face, cursing Kate again for dragging everyone into her bigoted murderer bullshit.

Now comes the hard part: dealing with his dad and the other Hunters.

They’ve already destroyed Kate’s phone and the wards he put up around and in the Hale house should be enough to keep anyone from noticing anything odd.

But, as he’s said a million times before, his magic is a seat-of-his-pants kind of resource. He believes that it’ll work, so usually it does. But it’s not fail-proof.

He turns around, ready to grab Ally and head out again but Cora is standing in his way with her arms crossed over her chest.

“Penny for your thoughts, Princess?” he asks, pasting on a crooked smile.

She snorts, clearly unimpressed with his attempt. “Do you like him?”

Stiles blinks. This isn’t actually happening, right? He asks airily, “Who are we talking about now?”

Cora raises her eyebrow at him.

He taps his foot for a moment, narrowing his eyes at her. After a moment, he grudgingly asks, “So what if I do?”

She purses her lips, clearly as irritated by his behavior as he is by hers. “Then you need to tell him.”

He doesn’t say anything to that, simply raises his eyebrows at her.

“Because,” scowling, she bites out, “he likes you too.”

He rolls his eyes. “Yeah, well, not to go too deep into it, but that ship has sailed.”

“I assumed.” She chews on her bottom lip before asking, “What happened?”

He shrugs, seemingly oh-so-casual. “He said he needs to focus on his pack.”

Her stiff demeanor falters, her shoulders falling from where they’ve risen by her ears. “But you still helped us.”

He scowls, resenting the implications. “I wouldn’t have left him there, regardless of how I feel about that. I’m not that shitty of a person, you know.”

“I know… I do.” She sighs and mutters under her breath, “He’s a fucking idiot. It figures.” Then, without another word, she turns on her heel and stalks away.

“Good talk,” Stiles mumbles, rolling his eyes and grabbing Allison. He’s got enough to worry about at the moment without adding this back into the mix.

When they get back out into the Preserve, they slip past the other Hunters and take up their original position, near but not next to the Hale house.

Allison looks at Stiles. “Do you want to send it or should I?”

Stiles snorts. “No one will believe it if it’s from me.”

She smiles, grabbing her phone. “Good point.” She sends out a group message with a simple code that calls for immediate backup.

It takes less than three minutes before they’re swarmed by Angelo and Matthew, the Hunters assigned to the area to their left, and Lucas and Doug, the Hunters assigned to the area to their right.

Their dad is the next to arrive and, as soon as he sees them, he barks, “Report.”

Allison stands straighter and states, “Kate is gone.”

Their dad looks at them, then looks around for a moment. His face is hard, eyes glinting as they trace over the trees. “When did you last have eyes on her?”

Allison glances at Stiles for confirmation. “Ten minutes ago?”

“Twelve,” Stiles supplies. “She went to circle around one of the traps and she didn’t come back. We went to look but didn’t see her.” He pauses then adds, “We figured it was best to assume that something had happened to her and to call back up.”

“You made the right decision,” he tells them before turning to the team. “Resume your positions, but keep an eye out. If she hasn’t been located by the time the moon sets, we all regroup and start searching for her.”

The other Hunters nod, dismissed, and disappear back into the trees.

“You two are with me,” their dad says, moving left and away from the Hale house.

They glance at each other then follow him, resigning themselves to a long, hopefully fruitless, search.

-0-0-0-

The first thing Derek does when he gets back to the loft is get in the shower. Everything else can wait – his pack is safe his pack is safe – but he has absolutely got to get the sick smell of Kate off his skin.

When he emerges in a cloud of clean steam, he hears everyone laughing and talking in the living room. It helps to settle the last of the anger and fear that’s lingering in his chest.

Cora grabs his arm and pulls him down onto the sofa between her and Isaac. Erica shoves another bottle of water into his hand and Scott tells him that the pizzas they’ve put in the oven will be done soon.

He nods, soaking up the scents of his pack members, and surreptitiously glances around.

He’s caught, though, by Lydia who tells him, “Allison and Stiles had to go. They’re taking care of the Hunter side of things.”

“Phase Two,” Scott says with a wink, so much like Stiles that it makes Derek’s stomach twist.

He frowns, thinking about how complicated things could be for them if anyone finds out what’s really going on.

“Don’t stress yourself out about it,” Cora bosses. “They said they’ll take care of it.”

He fights not to gape at her, though he does share a quick look with Scott that communicates that his Second is just as intrigued by Cora’s attitude change.

“Thanks for updating me,” he tells her, dropping an arm over her shoulders and giving her a squeeze. “So, what movie are we watching?”

“I was thinking this is probably a Disney level night,” Erica informs them, pulling up Netflix and selecting Moana.

“Sounds good to me.” He settles further back into the couch and lets himself relax.

It’s become a common practice for them: whenever something bad happens in Beacon Hills, they have to handle the situation and sometimes it leaves them a little worse for wear, so they watch movies as a pack afterwards.

Sometimes it’s not so bad, so they’ll watch a thriller or maybe even a horror movie. But sometimes it’s really bad and they need something lighter. Things have been calm enough – barring the missing kids that led the Hunters to Beacon Hills in the first place – that it’s been nearly a year and a half since they’ve all watched a Disney movie together.

The last time, after all, was the night they spread Peter’s ashes in the Preserve.

-0-0-0-

Stiles is almost staggering with exhaustion when their dad calls a halt to their personal Hunting group. It’s nearing six in the morning and the slightest bit of light has started to touch the sky above the trees.

“You two go home and get some rest. I’ll call the school and let them know you’ll be out today.” Then he hugs them and sends them on their way.

Stiles manages to get them home without running off the road, but it’s a near thing. He nearly flies through the ceiling when Liam ambushes them the second the get upstairs.

“Is everything okay?” he blurts from the doorway of his bedroom, already sounding normal again thanks to the remedy that Lydia made for him the night before.

Stiles hisses, “What the fuck is wrong with you?!” He presses a hand to his chest and leans against his doorframe. “Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to sneak up on people?”

Allison rolls her eyes and tells Liam, “Kate is locked in the basement of the Hale house. The pack is fine, Derek is fine. Dad and the rest of the Hunters are out looking for Kate. Stiles put wards on the basement and the house, so no one should bother her for a while.”

“What are they going to do with her?”

“They’re gonna let her live for now,” Stiles tells him, shucking off his muddy shoes to leave in the hallway. He groans when he stands back up straight. “Though I’m not sure that’s the best option.”

Allison sighs. “I know and I sort of agree, but we can’t tell them what to do.”

“Are we talking about killing Kate?” Liam asks, looking between them. He blinks and adds, “I mean, I don’t think I could be the one to actually do it, but…”

Stiles nods. “It may be the only way to keep them safe, yeah.”

Liam blows out a breath. “Well this is a disaster.”

Stiles snorts. “Tell me about it.” He stretches his arms over his head with a groan. “Regardless of anything else, we’re out of school for the day, so go back to bed before Dad gets home, since you’re still ‘sick’. I’m gonna take a shower.”

He pushes himself off the wall and shambles to the bathroom. He turns the water hot enough that he’s patchy pink when he passes Allison in the hallway, towel wrapped around his waist. It takes monumental effort to put on his gym shorts before he faceplants into the bed and passes out.

-----

Stiles wakes up to several texts from Scott, once of which is a picture of Derek, Cora, and Isaac passed out on the couch at the loft, a bright pink blanket spread over the three of them. He smiles and saves the picture.

The other messages inform him that they’re going to have a sleepover that night if Stiles, Allison, and Liam would like to join them.

Stiles calls Allison since he’s too lazy to get up just yet.

“Are you seriously calling me from the next room?” she grumbles in greeting.

“I thought about coming in and jumping on you but I like my limbs where they are.”

“Fair enough.”

“Scott invited us to a sleepover tonight.”

She hums. “Think Dad will let us go?”

“If I say I’m going to Scott’s, you’re having a Girl’s Night, and Liam’s crashing with Mason, then yeah.”

“Fine. You have to tell him though.”

He sighs. “Fine.” He hangs up on her and laughs when she hits the wall.

Telling their dad that they’re planning on going out goes better than Stiles anticipated.

“Be safe. Tell me if Kate contacts you,” their dad orders, slumped over a map of Beacon Hills with a mug gripped in his hand.

“Yeah, I will,” Stiles mutters, feeling slightly guilty as he slips out of the room. He wrangles his siblings and drives toward the edge of town.

When they get to the loft, Scott greets them at the door with his crooked grin. “Hey guys! Glad you could make it. We’re playing Drunk Driving and baking cookies. Erica is gonna do facemasks later too.”

“Drunk Driving?” Allison asks, setting her stuff down.

“It’s Mario Kart but with booze,” Isaac explains without looking away from the screen where Kira and Erica are currently battling it out. “You have to finish a whole drink before you finish the race but you can’t drink and drive, so you have to pull over.”

Erica does just that, slamming Princess Peach to a stop as she grabs a cup and guzzles the contents. Kira continues on her way, zipping past as Yoshi.

“If you can’t drink and drive, why is it called Drunk Driving?” Liam asks as he perches on the arm of the chair that Hayden’s curled up in.

“Dunno, that’s just what it’s called. Don’t ask so many questions,” Erica snaps as she slams her cup down and takes off again.

Stiles laughs. “I’ll pass. I’m already shit at Mario Kart. Get me some Super Smash Bros and then we’ll talk.”

Isaac grins at him. “You’re on. We’ll play after the tournament is finished.”

Stiles nods and moves toward the kitchen island where Lydia, Cora, and Mason are mixing various ingredients into multicolored bowls.

He doesn’t even say anything before Cora informs him, “Derek is on the balcony.”

“Okay…”

Lydia sighs and orders, “Go check on him. He’s been out there a while.”

“I…what? Why me?” Stiles sputters.

She just stares at him.

He blows out a breath. “Fine. I will.” He points at her. “But not because you told me to.”

Lydia rolls her eyes. “Whatever you say.”

Stiles shoots her a dark look, but he heads for the balcony door. Slipping outside, he shuts the door softly behind him.

Derek doesn’t look away from the star-studded sky, but he grunts, “Hey.”

“Hey,” Stiles echoes, hands in his pockets as he ambles over. After a couple moments of silence, he bumps Derek’s shoulder with his own. “So… whatcha thinking about?”

He expects a sharp remark or even rolled eyes. What he gets is Derek turning his head and leaning in, pressing their mouths together with a quiet sigh.

Stiles doesn’t move, his hands clenched in his pockets. He inhales sharply, letting Derek pull him closer by the front of his shirt.

Derek nips his bottom lip and pulls back, resting his forehead against Stiles’. “That, mostly.”

His brain is a little mushy, so he murmurs, “Huh?”

Derek laughs. “It’s what I was thinking about.”

“Oh.” Stiles bumps their noses together and leans back. “Just so you know, I’m sorry that my crazy aunt kidnapped you and tried to murder you and your whole pack.” He pauses, frowning. “Uh, again, that is.” He clears his throat, clarifying, “Murder your pack again.”

“God you’re charming,” Derek drawls, finally rolling his eyes.

“Well, I do what I can,” Stiles laughs. He shakes his head. “Anyways, I just wanted to check up on you, see if you were okay.”

“I will be.” Derek shrugs, leaning back against the railing. “We still need to figure out what to do with her. We can’t leave her down there forever.”

“I mean, technically you can? Like, she’ll starve eventually.” He shrugs when Derek gives him a weird look. “I don’t mean that you should actually do it. I’m just saying.”

“Well, we need to do something. I just don’t know what that something is yet.” He sighs, rubbing his face, clearly still exhausted.

Stiles hums and pushes off the rail, holding out his hand. “Come back inside and hang out with your pack. It can wait for now.”

Derek nods and laces their fingers together, following him back inside.

Chapter Text

Derek is watching Stiles sleep.

It’s a bit creepy, he knows, but there’s something extremely intimate about watching the Hunter in a state of total relaxation. After they’d come back inside last night, they got roped into various games and even facemasks. When Stiles started nodding off, Derek had helped him up the stairs into his bed.

Derek really enjoys waking up with Stiles in his bed.

As if he can sense Derek’s gaze, Stiles twitches, smiling softly and curling closer to Derek’s warmth.

Derek growls lowly, hand climbing to cup the back of Stiles’ neck. “Your feet are freezing.”

“And your legs are so warm,” Stiles agrees, rubbing his cheek against Derek’s chest.

“You’re a menace.”

“Mmm, a sexy menace,” he corrects, propping his chin on Derek’s sternum.

Derek snorts, turning them over and pulling Stiles close. “I don’t know why I find you so attractive.”

“Best not to examine the feeling too closely,” Stiles informs him as he leans in and bites the end of Derek’s nose.

Before Derek can retaliate, he hears his phone vibrating. Sighing, he reaches over and snatches it up, sliding his thumb to answer Kira’s call. “Yeah?”

“She’s gone.”

“What?”

“Kate is gone, Derek! I don’t know how she did it. Boyd and I tracked her but the trail just ends almost a mile away. We haven’t found anything else – no tire tracks or, or… it’s like she vanished into thin air!”

“Fuck. I’ll be right there.” He hangs up and turns back to Stiles, his brown eyes now sharp and calculating where they’d been soft and playful before.

He’s all Hunter as he asks lowly, “What’s wrong?”

Derek takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. “Kate is gone.”

“What?!” Stiles sits up so fast he almost hits Derek in the face. He falls to the floor and pops back up, totally uncaring that he’s only in boxers as he runs down the stairs. “Ally, Ally! Wake up!” he demands in a whisper-shout when he reaches the floor.

“I will kill you, Stiles,” Lydia informs him archly from her nest of pillows.

Derek moves to the railing in time to see Stiles flip her off and reach out to tug at his twin’s bare foot.

“Ugh, report, asshole, report,” Allison hisses.

“Kate is loose,” he tells her without pausing on his way to shake Liam into wakefulness.

“Fuck,” she breathes as she sits up, blinking furiously as she pulls her hair out of her face. “How long ago?”

“Dunno.” Stiles squats next to Liam and, much more gently than he’d treated his twin, reaches out to tug Liam’s left foot. “Trouble, Squirt.”

Liam groans and reaches out to grab Stiles’ arm. “For real or fake?”

“Real. C’mon. We’re gonna go with Derek and Scott to investigate.” He stands up and looks up at Derek. “Unless they’re someone else you think you should take, Alpha Hale?”

Derek has to admit, being addressed like that by Stiles, while in full Hunter mode, does things to him. He clears his throat. “Sounds good. You should probably get dressed first, though.”

-0-0-0-

Stiles frowns down at the floor of the cage.

“You couldn’t have known she had that.”

He glances up at Scott and half-smiles. “I should have though. It’s kind of what I do, you know.”

They had made a huge mistake not taking Kate’s boots. The bent pieces of a compact lock pick set are still sticking out of the lock, mocking him.

He sighs, rubbing his forehead. “Okay, let’s meet the others where her trail ends. Maybe Ally found something.”

“Something we missed?” Scott asks, eyebrows raising.

He grins, clapping his friend on the shoulder. “Hunter stuff, dude.”

“Yeah, yeah, better than us savage animals,” Scott drawls, rolling his eyes.

“You said it, not me,” Stiles shoots back.

Scott growls through his smile, flashing his eyes. “Don’t make me put you in a headlock.”

“Oh man, don’t mess up my hair.” Stiles frames his face with his hands, terrible case of bedhead and all. “Then no one would want me.”

Scott snorts and shoves him, albeit gently.

Stiles loses his smile the closer they get to the others. He gives a small whistle as they approach to let Ally know it’s them.

Her short reply comes right as they clear the trees.

“Well, she had a lock pick kit in her boot,” he announces, his voice filled with false cheer, “so we know how she got out. Any luck here?”

She looks up at him and he sees nothing positive in her gaze. “I need your expertise here, I think.”

Stiles nods but he’s not optimistic since having to use his magic means there really is no other sign of Kate. Damn. He closes his eyes, casting about with his senses, hopeful to catch at least something that can tell them what happened to her. After almost five minutes, he growls under his breath and opens his eyes.

Damn, damn, and double damn.

He shakes his head at Allison.

“Fuck,” she breathes shortly.

A whistle comes from the other side of the clearing before Liam and Kira appear. He looks immediately to Allison and gives a short shake of his head. “Nothing to report.”

Allison sighs, turning to Derek. “I don’t understand what happened to her. Even if she was lifted straight into the air, there’d be a sign, leaves blown around, something.”

He reaches out and clasps her shoulder. “It’s okay. We’ll take measures to stay safe and we’ll keep an eye out for her.” He drops his hand and looks around the clearing. “For now, we should get the rest of the pack and get breakfast.”

“Agreed.” Scott rubs his stomach. “I’m starving, dude.”

“You’re always hungry,” Boyd huffs with a smile, knocking shoulders with him.

“Yeah,” he agrees with a laugh, throwing his arm around Kira’s shoulders as they head back toward the cars.

Stiles and Allison fall in next to each other, Liam bringing up the rear. Stiles glances over his shoulder and sees Derek glaring at the spot where the trail ends, his fingers tapping at his thigh. “You coming, dude?”

Derek looks up at him and his expression lightens. “Yeah, coming.” As he follows them, Stiles has to turn around and take a breath. Seeing Derek in the early morning light of the woods, all tousled dark hair and his stupid soft sweater is making him all… gooey.

Liam snorts softly at him and Stiles slaps his hand back at him, getting shoulder-checked by Allison for his trouble.

-----

Breakfast is at a diner that Stiles has yet to visit but Scott assures him that they have the best bad food in Beacon County.

It’s nice, Stiles reflects yet again, being surrounded by the pack as they lovingly tease each other and steal food from multiple plates. It’s familial and awesome and Stiles likes being enveloped in it.

It helps that he and Derek and shoved in the middle of the large booth, thighs pressed together as they eat pancakes and eggs and sausages, passing food along to the others around them.

After they’ve all stuffed themselves and Derek has paid the wildly high bill, they file into the parking lot to split up.

It’s back to business as Derek assures the Hunters, “We’ll keep an eye out. Let us know if you hear anything on your end.”

Allison nods, her spine straightening: the Matriarch speaking to the Alpha. “We will.” She nods respectfully, a smile tucked into the corner of her mouth. “Have a nice day, Alpha Hale.”

Stiles salutes and is about to follow Allison when he spins back around and grabs Derek’s shirt, hauling him in for a kiss. He releases him and murmurs, “A pleasure as always, Alpha Hale.”

Over the catcalls from his pack, Derek rumbles, “Likewise.”

Stiles winks and follows his siblings to the Jeep.

When they get home, their dad’s car is nowhere to be seen. They breathe a sigh of relief, hoping that they can avoid the situation for a bit longer.

Allison hops out of the car. “Liam, anyone home?”

Liam cocks his head to the side in a cute gesture that makes Stiles think of a puppy. “I can’t hear anything.”

Stiles nods and smiles at his little brother before unlocking the door and sliding silently into the house. Allison follows just as soundlessly, Liam only shuffling his feet a little as he crosses the threshold and presses the door closed behind him.

“Does anybody want to tell me something?” their dad asks from his position leaning in the doorway to the kitchen.

It’s only their years of training that keep them from screaming or yelling, but they all jump in surprise.

Stiles gives Liam a dirty look and hisses lowly, “You said you didn’t hear anything!”

“I didn’t!” Liam insists, hissing back, “You should have double checked! I’m still learning!”

“Is there a reason that my three perfect children are sneaking into the house instead of just walking in like normal?” He taps at the pin pad of the security system to disarm it. “Your aunt is still missing and things are more dangerous right now.”

The three of them are silent, likely more worried than their dad is about Kate at the moment.

Their dad continues: “I understand that you want to spend time with your friends, but Hunting always has to come first. I usually don’t have to remind you of this.”

“Yeah, about that…” Stiles starts but their dad raises his hand to cut him off.

“You know, I’ve been hearing some interesting things lately,” he muses, studying their expressions.

“Interesting?” Stiles asks, his voice light as his heart hammers at his ribs.

Allison raises her eyebrows. “Interesting how, Dad?”

Liam, wisely, stays silent, though he draws closer to them.

Their dad lifts one shoulder in a shrug, his eyes passing over them. “I hear that you’ve been hanging out with the Hales, for one.”

They don’t move or reply, which is damning enough in itself.

He continues, “And not only are you hanging out with the Hales, but the rest of their friend group.” A soft chuckle without mirth makes them tense further. “And, as any child of mine should know, a group of friends with a werewolf is likely their pack. And, if they’re pack, then it’s likely that you would be aware of it, since you’ve all got the training to recognize the signs.

“And, with all your training, surely you’d know not to get involved with werewolves in any capacity, much less in a relationship.” The lightness in his tone belies the anger simmering just below the surface. “I know that none of you are involved with them like that, right?”

They just stare at him, the silence growing taut between them.

After a few moments, Stiles can’t take it anymore and he clears his throat. It breaks the tension but draws his dad’s laser gaze. “Uh, so, here’s the thing…”

“Don’t try to spin a story, Stiles. I’m not in the mood for your bullshit.”

“It’s not bullshit,” he protests. “It’s just that… there’s some… circumstances, right guys?” He gestures to his siblings and they all start talking at once.

“See the thing is, the relationships, well it’s quite a bit of information, and it really could only benefit you to know-”

“Exactly! There’s more to it than meets the eye. If you’d just let us explain-”

“It’s super simple, Dad, honestly if you just take a second to think about it-”

Their dad shouts over them, “Hey, enough! Enough!” They all fall quiet and he takes a deep breath, eyes flaring. “I just need to know one thing.” He looks between them. “Is anyone in this house not dating a werewolf?!”

Stiles raises his hand. “Technically, none of us are dating them, per se. We just sort of end up in the same places sometimes and then don’t leave.” He pauses, then adds, “There may also be kissing but I’m not willing to give any concrete evidence of that.”

Allison raises her hand next. “Also, Lydia’s a part of the pack but she’s not a werewolf.”

“Then what is she? Because after everything I’ve learned, you cannot tell me that that girl is human!” Chris points toward Lydia’s house.

“Rude,” Stiles mumbles. At Chris’ raised eyebrows, Stiles holds up his hands. “I’m just saying, Lydia’s pretty cool.”

Chris’ eye twitches. “Cool?”

“Uh, Dad,” Liam pipes up, “your forehead vein is throbbing again.”

“Of course it is! Because you three want to give me a heart attack! Or an apoplexy!”

“Dad, I really don’t understand why this is a big deal,” Allison says in that soft way she has. “If anything, isn’t it better that we know the local pack?”

Stiles and Liam share a look. Bingo. The Sister’s always got the magic touch to cool the famous Argent temper. It’s sure to work this time too.

“The big deal…” Chris almost shouts then reigns himself back, taking a deep breath. When he continues, his voice is slightly less enraged. “The ‘big deal’ is that your grandfather is going to be here in a week to look for your aunt,” the three siblings lose their smiles and go pale simultaneously, “and you three are tangled up with half of the local werewolf pack.”

“Less than half,” Stiles mumbles because he can’t help himself.

Allison agrees, as she blinks dazedly, “More like a third.”

“Three point three three three…” Liam contributes then collapses back onto the stairs. “Oh god… we are sooo fucked.”

Normally Stiles and Allison would scold him, but this time… he’s totally right.

Chapter Text

Their dad doesn’t bother to scold Liam for his language, likely finding the assessment as accurate as Stiles and Allison. “This was going to be a big enough disaster with our family history in this town, but, god.” He scrubs at his face, scratching his beard. “And who knows who he’ll bring with him.”

The siblings share a look, the numbers and names and pictures surely flashing through all their heads. It’s the first time their dad’s mentioned anything about Argents being involved with Beacon Hills and it definitely doesn’t sound good, which pretty much confirms that their dad had some involvement with Kate’s actions.

He goes on, oblivious as he paces, “I just got him to sort of accept that you two aren’t straight.” He waves at Stiles and Allison. “Though he’s never going to understand it completely.”

“Thank god for the hetero baby,” Stiles quips, nudging Liam with his foot. “The family’s only hope.”

Liam scowls and pinches Stiles’ Achilles tendon between his fingernails, hissing, “Quit calling me that.”

“It’s the bare bones of the situation, Li, and he’s an ass. Just ignore him,” Allison says, kicking Stiles in the other ankle.

“Ow, jeez,” Stiles grumbles, rubbing his legs. “Just trying to lighten the mood.”

“Don’t know if that’s possible,” Allison says with a hard swallow. “Grandpa is coming. Here.”

“What are we going to do?” Liam almost wails.

“Where’s he going to sleep?” Stiles mutters and Allison rolls her eyes at her twin.

“Really, Stiles?”

Their dad takes a deep breath and blows it out slowly. “Okay… so, the easiest situation would be for all of you to cut all your ties with the pack.”

The three siblings don’t protest verbally, but they all look at their dad: Stiles’ eyes hard and mouth a thin line of displeasure, Liam’s mouth pursed and eyebrows lowered in sullen frustration, and Allison’s face a blank mask of nothingness.

He sighs after a moment, rubbing his forehead. “Fine, we’ll move on to Plan B.”

“Which is?” Liam prompts hopefully.

Their dad throws his hands in the air and slumps into a kitchen chair in defeat. “I have no fucking clue.”

“Language,” the three siblings chorus, but it doesn’t hold the usual teasing sternness, all of them clearly contemplating the terrible things that Gerard Argent could – and likely would – get up to while in Beacon Hills.

“This…” Stiles starts, rubbing the back of his head, “uh, this would maybe be a good time to tell him. Before Gerard gets here.” He gives his siblings significant looks.

“What is it now? Is there something worse that you guys have been up to?” their dad asks, though he looks like he doesn’t actually want the answer.

Allison puts on her most soothing tone. “Dad…”

He blinks at her. “Oh my god, are you pregnant?”

“What?” Allison asks in shock.

“She’s gay, Dad,” Liam says slowly. “Remember? You just talked about it.”

“Well then what the hell aren’t you telling me? I feel like you’re trying to break really bad news to me and that’s the first thing that came to mind.”

“I mean,” Stiles reasons, “it’s not the worst news.”

“Just spit it out! What did you do?” he demands, pointing at Stiles.

“Me?!” Stiles protests. “I didn’t do anything!”

“I find that hard to believe, you know.” And it’s not that their dad looks angry, just resigned. “You’re always doing something!”

Allison puffs up like an angry chicken, raising her voice now. “What the hell is that supposed to mean? Why do you always blame him for things?”

“Well, if it’s not him, then it’s you, young lady.” He points between them. “The two of you are always up to something!”

“I’m just saying, it’s pretty shitty that you always assume it’s Stiles’ fault.”

“How is it shitty if it’s true?”

“Jeez, Dad, tell me how you really feel,” Stiles drawls.

“I’m a werewolf!” Liam shouts, throwing his arms into the air. “Enough, Jesus!” He lets out a breath and repeats weakly, “I’m a werewolf. That’s… that’s the biggest part of what’s going on.”

Their dad doesn’t say anything, just stares blankly at Liam before turning to blink at the twins. “Explain.”

“There was a djinn,” Allison starts softly. “Liam was protecting some other kids and the djinn hit him pretty deep.”

“He killed it but he was losing too much blood, too fast,” Stiles whispers, eyes closed. “The Alpha of the Hale pack offered to give him the Bite to save him.”

Their dad doesn’t say anything for a long time and when he does, his voice is so soft, they can barely hear it. “How long?”

“A couple of months.”

“A couple of months,” he repeats, shaking his head. “You let your brother get turned into a monster and you keep it from me for months.”

Liam visibly shrinks back against the stairs, his eyes dropping to the floor. Stiles gets up and moves to Liam’s side, wrapping an arm around his shoulders and pulling him close.

Allison says in a firm voice, disappointment apparent, “We made sure he lived. Would you rather he died?”

Their dad doesn’t say anything, just stares at the floor, his hands clasped between his knees.

Stiles and Allison share a look. She pulls Liam up and nudges him up the stairs. Stiles glances back at their dad but he won’t look at them. He shakes his head as Allison meets him and follows his siblings.

He shuts the door to his bedroom firmly and sighs, slumping back against the wood.

“You don’t…” Liam asks, voice wobbling, “you guys don’t think I’m a monster now, do you?”

“God, no.” Stiles shakes his head. “Why would you think that?”

“We love you,” Allison says, pulling Liam to sit next to her on the bed. “If anything, we’re hoping that you don’t hate us.”

Liam raises his head, clearly confused. “Why would I hate you guys?”

“We told Derek to bite you.” Stiles shrugs. “We didn’t really think about whether or not you wanted to be a werewolf, about what it would mean for you with Dad and the rest of the family. We were selfish.”

Liam shakes his head. “No, no. I’m, well, I don’t know if I’m happy about it, but I’d much rather be alive than dead.” He smiles a little. “Plus, I can do some seriously cool stuff now.”

“Your hand-to-hand specialty is more impressive,” Allison agrees as she smooths her hand over Liam’s hair.

Stiles stands, clapping his hands together. “Alright. Executive decision making. We’re gonna have a puppy pile.”

“Derek says those aren’t actually real and that I shouldn’t encourage you.” Liam grabs a tissue and wipes his nose.

“Well Derek isn’t here and puppy piles are too real,” Stiles informs him, toeing off his shoes.

“We’ve been having puppy piles for years,” Allison adds, putting her phone on the nightstand and scooting back on the bed. “Even before you were a puppy for real,” she teases.

“Come on, buddy.” Stiles nudges Liam’s shoulder as he climbs onto the bed.

Allison waits for Stiles to still before she holds out her arms and wiggles her fingers. “You know you wanna cuddle us.”

“Nuzzle Cuddles,” Stiles coos, wiggling his hands too.

Liam rolls his eyes and kicks off his shoes before flopping on top of the both of them, earning oofs from them that make him smile. He wiggles until he’s got his head on Allison’s stomach, staring at the ceiling.

Stiles plays with a loose lock of Allison’s hair. Their breathing matches up then breaks patterns as they settle in with each other.

“Your heartbeats,” Liam mumbles after a moment.

“Hmm?” Stiles is having a problem keeping his eyes open, the glowy stars on the ceiling blurring a little.

“My anchor,” Liam sighs. “It’s you guys, your heartbeats.” Liam puts his hand up to Stiles’ ribs, tapping along. “When Derek told me to pick something, it was the first thing I could think of.”

“That’s so cute I might throw up,” Stiles drawls.

“Shut up,” Allison orders through a yawn.

“Not the boss of me yet…” he mumbles as he drifts off.

-----

Stiles wakes up when Liam shifts, his head turned toward the door.

“What’s up?” Stiles blinks blearily but his hand is wrapped around a knife already.

“It’s dad,” Liam whispers.

“What about him?” Allison breathes.

“He’s standing outside the door. Has been for a while.”

“Think he’s finally had enough of us?” Stiles asks. “Took longer than I thought it would for him to finally decide to kill us.”

“Shut up,” Allison and Liam murmur.

There’s a gentle knock and their dad opens the door, running his eyes over the pile of them. “Can I come in?”

Stiles stares at him, hand clenched around his knife. “Are you going to call Liam a monster again?”

He sighs, rubbing his forehead. “I misspoke. It was an automatic reaction but that doesn’t make it okay. I’m sorry.” He looks at Liam. “You know that I love you no matter what. I just… may need a little time to adjust to this. Will you give me that for now and let me make it up to you?”

Liam studies him for a moment. “I guess… it’s okay for now.” He clears his throat, looking down for a moment.

Stiles speaks up, to distract from the tears gathering in Liam’s eyes, “So, how did you know we were coming?”

“The wards pinged. I can’t read them or make them the way you do, but I have tools to harness them just the same.”

Stiles whips his head up. “You had wards put on the house and didn’t tell me.” He doesn’t keep the disappointment out of his voice. “I’m supposed to be the one warding the house, Dad. It’s almost my entire point in life to protect all of us.”

He huffs, “You’re just lucky the wards are linked to all of you otherwise Liam wouldn’t have been able to get into the house anymore.”

“Oh, anti-werewolf. I just did basic protection stuff when we moved in. That… you know, that actually makes a lot of sense,” Stiles muses, pulling on his lower lip.

“Why?” Allison asks.

“Well, Scott mentioned he couldn’t hear inside the other night until I let him in,” he explains, “but I thought it might have been my wards that were throwing him off.”

Their dad looks between them. “Scott? Scott McCall?” The disbelief is almost palpable.

“Yeah, John’s stepson.” Stiles holds up his hands and wiggles his fingers. “Surprise! He’s a werewolf too!”

“Jesus. Just how big is this pack?”

“Ten. Well, eleven now,” Allison supplies, glancing at Liam. “But two of them aren’t werewolves.”

“Should we be telling you this?” Liam asks. “Not that I don’t trust you, Dad, but, uh…” He shrugs.

“I understand,” he sighs, rubbing his hands over his face again. “Okay. What we need is a game plan.”

“What we need is information.”

“Uh, also maybe we should tell him about the other thing.”

Their dad looks like he might cry at this point. “What other thing?”

Allison winces a little and informs him, “Aunt Kate didn’t go missing. We captured her and locked her in a cage in the Hale house basement.”

“Where she was holding the teenage Alpha hostage and torturing him,” Stiles hurries to add, “just so we’re clear.”

“But, uh, we kind of lost her? And now we have no idea where she is.”

Their dad drops his head into his hands and motions for them to go on. “Tell me everything.”

Chapter Text

They tell their dad everything. Needless to say, it takes a while.

Stiles isn’t sure about his siblings, but it’s a weight off his shoulders to finally be able to be honest with their dad.

When they finally get to the most recent part about Kate going missing, they talk about how the trail had gone cold all of a sudden in the middle of the woods.

“Talisman,” he supplies.

“What?”

“She has a talisman that removes any traces of her presence. It’s only good for one use, but it would make the most sense,” he explains, tugging at his bottom lip as he stares out Stiles’ window.

Stiles raises his hand. “I’d like about fifteen of those, by the way. My sachets are pretty effective, but they still leave the scent of the herbs behind.”

He laughs. “I’ll see what I can do.”

“Since we’re all being so open about things…” Liam pipes up, “Dad, I have to ask… did… did you have anything to do with the Hale fire?”

Stiles and Allison turn to him as their dad looks up slowly.

He continues, “I mean, I don’t want to think that, or, I don’t know, I just…”

Their dad reaches a careful hand out and settles it gently on Liam’s shoulder. “I understand.” He lets his hand fall away and sighs heavily. “Your aunt has always been a good Hunter, but her sense of the Code has been something that’s she’s made work for her, rather than her working for the Code.

“She didn’t used to be like that. She… when we were younger, despite the age difference, we were a lot like you two.” He nods at Allison and Stiles. “Inseparable, always on each other’s nerves, the best teammates.” He shakes his head. “After our mother died, things were different. Your grandfather took over the rest of her training and I, well, I threw myself into my work and I’d just met your mom…

“Your grandfather has always had a more… radical outlook on Hunting. He passed that on to Kate.” His mouth tightens. “The Hales lived in Beacon Hills for years without a single incident. They patrolled and managed the territory, handled disputes, and everything was fine.”

“What happened?” Allison asks, tucking her knees up under her chin. “Why did Kate go after them?”

Their dad shakes his head. “I honestly don’t know. When Kate finished her training, she was a little more intense, but seemed fine. She did her duty, followed the Code, everything was okay. Then, I get a call from her about trouble in Beacon Hills. She said she needed my help, so I came here.”

After he’s silent for a little too long, Stiles prompts, “And?”

“And then she put a ring of mountain ash around the Hale house before she set the whole thing on fire. Three of the Hales weren’t home. She wanted to track them down too, but by then the police had found the kids and she couldn’t get to them.” He shakes his head again, like he’s trying to get rid of the images behind his eyes.

Liam murmurs, “There were humans inside, children.”

Their dad closes his eyes hard. “I know,” he croaks.

Liam is slightly louder this time. “How could you justify that? How could you let her do that?”

Their dad looks over. “I can’t and I couldn’t stop her by that point.”

Liam’s voice rises, his eyes flashing as he demands, “Then what makes you any better than she is?”

“Nothing.” Their dad doesn’t flinch, though the skin around his eyes tightens. “The only thing I can do is try to make things right. I follow the Code and I try to raise you guys the best I can. I know I’m not perfect, far from it, but I hope that I’ve instilled a sense of responsibility and care into you that I didn’t get from my father, that Kate didn’t get.

“I’m hoping that you can be better than those that have come before you.”

“So, no pressure, right?” Stiles jokes and the tension in the room abruptly bursts.

Allison sighs, rolling her eyes as she bumps him with her shoulder.

Liam slumps back, his mouth pulled into a frown, but he looks less incensed and more thoughtful.

“I mean,” Stiles continues, “I think we’re doing pretty okay?” He shrugs when they look curiously at him. “Look, Kate didn’t manage to make you into a Mini Me,” he waves at Allison, “and Gerard didn’t manage to do anything to me to make me into a monster.” He staves off a shiver and continues quickly, “Liam was too little to bother with just yet. I’m just saying, per our track record, we could be a lot worse.”

“You’re definitely better at duplicitous dealings than I was at your age,” their dad notes dryly.

Stiles grins at him. “Aren’t you proud?”

“Very.”

The serious tone makes Stiles’ grin falter a little and he nods, clearing his throat. “So, now that you know that we’re trying really hard not to be terrible people, are you still mad at us?”

“A little,” their dad admits. “But not it’s only because you guys could have been hurt or killed at any point in the past few of months and I wouldn’t have known why. The pack could have tricked you or befriended you to kill you.”

“Well, we can hold our own,” Allison chimes in.

“We took calculated risks.” Stiles shakes his head. “Sometimes we’re better at math than other times, but…”

Allison knocks their knees together to shush him. She adds, “Also, the pack is very protective of us.”

“That’s… good to know,” their dad notes.

“Is it?” Liam asks. “Dad, we have to keep them safe. Part of being in a pack is protecting each other. We can help them from our side but we have to know what we’re up against.”

He looks between them. “What are you asking me?”

Liam leans forward. “We’re asking you to help us. To help our friends. To help our pack.”

Their dad studies them for a long, tense moment before giving them his answer.

-0-0-0-

Derek looks up when Stiles appears in the doorway of the loft.

Stiles looks around quickly before shuffling in and plopping down on the couch next to him.

He closes his book and sets it aside. “What’s up?”

“Well, we talked to our dad.”

His shoulders tense and he turns a little to face Stiles. “What did you talk about?”

“Let’s just say that now that I’m here, I realize we probably should have asked your permission before talking about a couple of things with him.”

“What did you tell him?”

“Well,” he ticks things off on his fingers, “he knows Liam is a werewolf, he knows that we captured and lost Kate, and that we’re all a little tangled up with you guys in one way or another.”

“I… is it a good thing that he knows all that? I trust your judgment, since he’s your dad, but, after everything that’s happened…”

“I mean, totally natural for you to feel that way. We weren’t trying to betray you or anything, but, actually um,” Stiles shrugs, shooting him a lopsided smile, “I think everything is gonna be okay.”

He studies Stiles’ body language for a moment before stating: “You’re lying. I’m not sure about which part, but you’re lying about something.”

Stiles winces, not trying to deny it. He scratches his chin, shrugging again. “Uh, most of the things are gonna be okay?”

He braces himself for more bad news. “What’s going on now?”

Stiles sighs and says in a rush: “Our crazy grandfather is headed this way to help look for our crazy aunt and we have no idea how much trouble he’s gonna bring or what havoc he’s gonna wreak while he’s here.”

He doesn’t say anything, mostly since he isn’t sure what to say.

Stiles glances over at him. “I’m sorry, dude. I really am. I know I may have violated your trust or put my foot into it by spilling the beans but… our dad really is an asset. He can help. He… he promised to help us, all of us.” He sits up, tucking his leg onto the couch. “I know that might not mean a lot to you, but all the Argent Hunters are finally on your side. Well,” he waves his hand, “all of the best group of Argent Hunters are on your side. Fuck the rest of them.”

He’s still not sure how he feels about Chris Argent knowing anything about his pack, no matter how much he trusts Stiles, Allison, and Liam. Despite that, a smile curls over his mouth at Stiles’ words. “Rather full of yourselves, aren’t you?”

Stiles laughs, holding out his hands. “Why pretend to be less than we are? We’re the best there is.”

Derek eyes him. “Oh, I agree you’re pretty good. But the best?” He squints, wobbling his hand back and forth. “I’m not so sure.”

Stiles narrows his eyes. “Shut up.”

“Make me.” He leans back against the arm of the couch, a clear invitation.

Stiles understands what he’s offering: a distraction, however temporary. His eyes get dark and he crawls slowly across the couch.

As their lips meet, Derek thinks that as long as he can keep this up maybe, just maybe, things might be okay.

He ignores the part of his brain that tells him he’s lying to himself as he curls his hands around Stiles’ biceps, pulling them closer together.

Chapter Text

Chris Argent loves his children.

When he found out Claudia was having twins, all the strength went out of knees and he sat back in his chair with a breathy laugh.

Claudia was nervous and crying and all he could do was laugh. He told his best friend John about the twins when the man came over for dinner and John laughed too, his breath quickly knocked out of him when Claudia elbowed him in the stomach.

Chris cried when he held them in his arms for the first time.

John teared up when he held Mieczyslaw. Chris made it worse when he informed John that Mieczyslaw’s middle name was Stiles, an homage to his godfather. John kicked him in the shin. Then he said he was honored.

Gerard seemed pleased, as much as he ever was, and Kate cooed over Allison but seemed uninterested in Stiles. Chris brushed it off and teased that Allison was lucky to have an older brother. Kate rolled her eyes.

The first year with the twins was one of the hardest. He and Claudia were exhausted all the time and Chris still had to hunt, though he didn’t take extremely dangerous missions, not anymore. Claudia always welcomed him back with open arms, then shoved one of the twins into his grasp with a sly grin.

Watching Stiles and Allison learn about the world was incredible.

Seeing the twins fawn over Claudia’s pregnant belly was even better.

Recalling how excited they were made him laugh when they complained about all the screaming, Daddy, he never stops.

Their family was as perfect as a family of Hunters could be. The children were taught from a very young age to never trust strangers, to never touch Daddy’s weapons or Mommy’s plants. Allison was clever and caring, Stiles was energetic and whip-smart, Liam was loyal and strong.

All three of his children were bright, the stars that revolved around the sun that was their mother.

Chris remembers how painful saying goodbye to his wife was for him but it was worse to watch his children.

Stiles and Allison standing with Liam between them, all of them holding hands as they stared down at the fresh dirt. Liam sobbing softly and Allison and Stiles sharing a long look over the younger boy’s head before Allison put her head on Liam’s and Stiles wrapped his arms around them both.

The twins seemed to be able to speak their own silent language and, as many times as it had infuriated him before, now it was something that made him feel just the slightest bit better.

After the funeral was over and the guests were all gone, he found the three of them, fancy parts of their funeral clothes mostly shed, curled together on Claudia’s side of the bed.

The three of them receded into each other after that.

When Kate tried to put a reassuring hand on Allison’s shoulder, the girl shrugged the contact off, attending to Liam or grabbing onto or leaning against Stiles. Stiles never failed to give Kate a withering look – Chris’ son had always been intuitively aware that his aunt never liked him much – and wrapped his arm around his twin sister.

Gerard pulled him aside four months after Claudia’s death and told him it was time.

Stiles, despite his flailing nature and smart mouth, was quite focused when something interested him. They dedicated his study to the herb- and folklore that Claudia specialized in, training him to be an invaluable asset to Allison. After all, Allison would take over one day and she was to learn all that that entailed.

The twins both learned basic self-defense and Chris was sure to teach them to never use their knowledge against someone without provocation. They were taught about the dangers of the night.

Chris thought that they were too young, but he knew that he wanted his children safe, so piece by piece, he removed their innocent ideas and replaced them with grim knowledge. Liam listened at doorways and Chris had no illusions that the twins weren’t teaching their little brother what they knew.

It was the Hunter way, after all.

----

The first time Stiles and Allison killed wasn’t planned, though their first hunt should have been a coming-of-age event carefully planned. After all, it wasn’t every day that the future leader of the largest and oldest clan of Hunters came of age. But at twelve, they’d followed Chris out onto a hunt and ended up saving all of their asses when another witch snuck up behind the main group and cast a painful spell on them.

Chris watched from his position on the ground as his children appeared from behind a boulder at the edge of the clearing. Allison shot an arrow straight through the witch’s windpipe, effectively cutting off the spell she was chanting. Stiles grabbed one of the fallen Hunters’ guns and shot the witch right between the eyes, no remorse showing on his small face. The twins stared at each other, another one of those long looks, before moving over and hugging Chris tight, even as he yelled at them.

Stiles’ demeanor changed almost immediately, whereas Allison would only occasionally go blank as he called it, her face bland and no reaction in her eyes. Stiles stopped asking so many questions outside of their small immediate family, though he became more sarcastic, his wit sharp and tongue cutting. In a way, it seemed like Stiles’ ADHD was getting better – or the medication was finally working – but Chris could see something had changed.

He started training Liam officially the next day, even though he was only nine. His younger son showed serious proficiency in hand-to-hand so that’s what he focused on, though all three of them were taught the same basic things. He got Stiles his first sniper rifle and Allison her first crossbow for their thirteenth birthday. They all got brand new knives for Christmas.

-----

After that, they moved from town to town, taking out infestations of monsters, tracking murderers. Stiles joked that they were like the Winchester family and Allison laughed while Liam rolled his eyes and told Stiles that the Winchesters weren’t real.

Chris did everything he could to make sure that his children thought hard about what decisions they made when it came to killing.

He thought of Kate’s deranged giggling at those times, the smell of an entire family’s life going up in flames.

He would rein his children back from the more savage methods that Gerard had taught them, when he would tell them to use their instincts and be sure to follow their Code. He taught them that without their Code, they were no better than the monsters that their family Hunted.

Their solemn faces and understanding eyes made him feel like the lesson was sticking. He hoped that they would be good Hunters, but he hoped that they would also be good people too.

Chris loves his children, but never, in his entire life, did he think that he would be formulating a plan to keep a werewolf pack because the twins were involved with pack members and Liam was a werewolf and a member of the pack too and…

Actually, maybe he should have known it would come to this.

He saw the potential for Stiles to be brutal and sharp, for Allison to be blank and deadly, for Liam to hurt and hurt and hurt.

Isn’t this better?

Isn’t it better that his children have compassion? That they care enough to think before they kill?

He knows the answer should be yes.

But he also knows that things would be easier for them with the coming storm if the answer was no.

Too bad nothing his children had ever done could be defined as “easy”.

He needs a drink.

-0-0-0-

“I think we broke Dad,” Allison confides softly.

Stiles looks up at her, flicking his eyes to where their dad is softly muttering to himself as he pores over a map. He looks back at her and shrugs. “He’ll be fine. Remember when we came out? He talked to himself for three days then he was back to normal.”

“I think that coming out may have been easier for him to understand,” she muses, feet swinging from where she’s perched on the counter.

He shrugs again. “He’s strong. Somehow I think he’ll survive.” After a moment, he lowers his voice further and assures her, “It’s gonna be okay.”

“Is it?” She sighs, shaking her head. “I… I want it to be, but I don’t know how we’re going to get through this with everyone intact.”

Stiles holds out his hand and she laces their fingers together.

“Look at me.”

She flicks her eyes up to his.

“We are going to be okay,” he intones, voice solid.

“I really, really hope you’re right,” she whispers back, squeezing his fingers.

He leans forward and kisses her forehead before he moves to make some coffee for the upcoming war meeting.

She almost misses it when he breathes, “Me too.”

-0-0-0-

“Is this real life?” Cora asks, her hands twisted in the hem of her shirt as they walk toward the Argent’s front door.

“Real enough,” Boyd mutters from behind her.

She grits her teeth and turns to Derek. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”

Derek shakes his head a little, glancing over at her. “Not even a little bit.”

She nods, biting her lip. “I’ll eat Chris Argent’s face if he so much as twitches,” she promises.

Her brother reaches out to pat her shoulder. “I know you will.”

Lydia sighs from where she’s standing on the porch. “Are we going in or not?”

“Yeah, yeah, we’re coming,” Cora snaps, squaring her shoulders and moving purposely forward, the clacking of Erica’s heels making her even more on edge.

“About goddamn time,” Lydia mutters, pressing the doorbell with one dangerous, pointy pink nail.

They all hear footsteps approach and the door opens to reveal Stiles, his lopsided grin somehow reassuring in the oddest way.

At least, that’s how Cora feels.

Not that she’d ever say that out loud.

“Heya guys!” Stiles steps back and holds the door open. “Welcome to The Fortress of Badassery.”

“Jesus Christ,” Cora mutters under her breath as Derek’s lips twitch and Boyd openly smirks.

“Hey dude,” Scott greets from behind them and Stiles waves back.

“Come in, come in. We have sandwiches and coffee and plans for revenge. It’s great!”

Allison rolls her eyes as she approaches behind her twin and Liam waves from the kitchen.

Cora shoots her brother a look and mutters, “I blame you for this.”

He sighs, nodding, and motions for her to walk ahead of him. “I blame me too.”

They all file into the large dining room slash living room area and Cora knows she’s not the only one whose shoulders go tight at the sight of Chris Argent sitting at the table with maps and weapons spread around him.

His blue eyes are icy and his voice is stilted as he says, “Welcome to our home.” He nods to Derek. “Alpha Hale.”

Derek nods back. “Argent.”

They study each other for a moment, long enough for Stiles and Scott to tumble into the room arm in arm.

Stiles looks around and claps his hands. “So, now that we’re all here, who wants a sandwich while we make death plans?”

Cora glares, but ends up taking a cucumber sandwich and a soda as they all sit down and hash out how to murder Kate and Gerard Argent before they can murder any of them.

The meeting doesn’t go as badly she thought after all.

Chapter Text

Stiles knows he’s dreaming.

He knows, but he… he can’t stop the fear that crawls up his throat, locking his elbows to his sides even as his hands shake.

Gerard’s voice echoes as he instructs, “Tell me what the oleander does, Stiles.”

He remembers this lesson.

His knees brush the table as he sits on a bench in his mom’s greenhouse, her garden spread before him. It’s one of the first times he’s ever been allowed near it without her by his side.

He feels Gerard’s hands on his shoulders, pressing down, holding him still as he starts to fidget.

“Tell me what the oleander does, Stiles,” Gerard repeats.

He swallows hard and points at the flower, mumbling, “Drowsiness, slowed heart rate, and shaking.”

“And the belladonna?”

“Blurred vision, confusion, hallucinations, and…” he licks his lips, trying to remember… “um… convulsions.”

“Good. Another name for it is…”

“Deadly nightshade.”

“Correct.” A pause. “The common name for the cicuta is?”

“Water hemlock.”

“Three more.”

“Snake weed, false parsley, and,” he swallows, “children’s bane.”

“The primary toxin is?”

“It’s…” He tries to remember. He saw something about it in one of the books his dad gave him but he can’t remember.

He’s too quiet for too long.

Gerard tuts and squats down next to him. “The primary toxin in cicuta is cicutoxin.”

Stiles nods. He knew that. He should have known that.

“Do you know what it does?”

“Causes seizures.”

“But the primary cause of death?”

He frowns, kicking one of his feet as he thinks. “Respiratory paralysis?”

Gerard’s voice is warm. “Very good.” His hand, when it comes down on Stiles’ shoulder, is gentle this time. “I want you to learn more about cicutoxin and tell me about it the next time I come visit.”

At the time, Stiles nodded meekly, desperate to please this oddly daunting man with the potential for violence in every line of his old body.

Now, he shakes his head. “No.”

The hand squeezes, pressing harder. “You will do as I say, Stiles.”

“No, I…” He shakes his head again, trying to push himself to his feet. “Let me go. I’m dreaming. This isn’t real.”

Gerard does, but only to pull him forcefully to his feet, hands balled in the front of Stiles’ shirt.

The dream shifts and he’s slightly older, a knife being forced into his hand by a grinning Kate.

“Come on, kiddo. You have to learn one way or another. Protect your sister’s legacy.”

He looks down at the knife then to the lamia in chains in front of him, hissing her fury as her slitted eyes flash.

“I… I can’t.”

“You can and you will,” Gerard informs him.

“Dad says,” he starts.

Kate cuts him off, her face made of strict lines as she snarls, “Your dad isn’t here.” She wraps his fingers around the knife and pulls him closer. “Now do it.”

He’d closed his eyes the first time.

Now, he dispatches the lamia quickly – mercifully – and stares at the pale blue blood spattered on his hands.

“Efficient,” Gerard sniffs. “Now for the next one.”

He inhales a shaky breath, forcing his hands to still, but when he turns to the next captive, it’s Scott in the chains, his big brown eyes wet with tears as he begs from behind a gag.

“No, I… I can’t, he’s my friend.”

“He’s is only an animal,” Gerard corrects him. “Now put him down.”

Stiles wouldn’t – he couldn’t – but he sees his hand rising up from the corner of his eye –

And as the knife descends, all he can see is Scott’s resigned face before he feels the heat of blood splash across his face, his friend’s eyes saying I always knew you were just like them.

-----

Allison finds him in the kitchen a few hours later, staring into the backyard as the sun starts to lighten the sky. She curls an arm around his waist and mashes her face into his shoulder. “Why you up?” she slurs sleepily.

“Bad dream.” He shifts his stance, holds her up as she leans on him. He admits lowly, “I’m scared, Ally.”

She hums, rubbing her cheek against his shirt. “Me too.”

It probably shouldn’t make him feel better, but it kind of does. They’ll get through this together, just like they always do, and hopefully everyone will make it out alive.

He pushes those thoughts away and sighs, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “We can do this.”

“We can,” she agrees, leaning up and squinting at him. “Now make me French toast or I’ll eat your arm.”

He croaks a laugh, rolling his eyes, but he downs his coffee and moves toward the fridge anyway as his twin angrily slaps the coffee maker into submission.