Addison hates Stiles Stilinski.
This mouthy little brat who, as far as anyone can tell, has only just graduated from college and has no actual law enforcement or military background, and somehow he’s at Quantico? It makes no fucking sense. Gibson says that he suspects Stilinski is some sort of hacker extraordinaire and has managed to bypass the usual FBI entry requirements because of some super secret agreement that he’ll turn his black hat over for a white one, but that’s bullshit. Firstly because Addison knows it took Stilinski two hours to get his X-box working when he arrived at the dorms, and secondly because if anyone is a genius hacker who’s been blackmailed by the government into going straight, it’s obviously Mahealani.
Danny Mahealani is an odd one. Addison can’t quite get a read on him. He jokes around a little, but he doesn’t take any shit. Where Stilinski babbles to disarm people, Mahealani smiles. He’s open and friendly, and people respond to that. Spend a few minutes with Mahealani, and suddenly they’re telling him their life story. Except Mahealani doesn’t reciprocate. He talks vaguely of his Hawaiian heritage, and of growing up in some small town in California, and of going to Berkeley, but he never gives away anything personal.
Weirdly, Stilinski is the same. He’ll talk for hours about the intricacies of Batman’s origin story, but never about himself.
Stilinski and Mahealani are roommates at Quantico and, as far as Addison can tell, the only thing they have in common is neither of them talk about how they got there.
Addison has done four years in the Marines. Gibson, his roommate, is a cop. They’ve both worked hard to get where they are, but Stilinski and Mahealani? Nobody knows.
Stilinski is a terrible student. He has no discipline. He clicks his pen in classes and can’t even sit up straight, but somehow he manages to turn in papers that keep him consistently at the top of the class. Mahealani gets good grades too, even though he spends most of his time on his computer instead of listening to the lecturers.
“He’s twenty-two,” Gibson says one night. “Stilinski is. He got carded at the bar. He’s twenty-two, Addison.”
What the hell is it about Stilinski that makes him so special? That makes him exempt from the usual recruitment rules?
“And that’s not all,” Gibson says. “Guess what Markowitz overheard last night?”
“What?” Addison asks.
“Stilinski said something to Mahealani about them both being on the same lacrosse team in high school.”
How far back do these guys go?
Maybe Addison wouldn’t care so much, except occasionally there’s some operation on and recruits can get pulled out of classes to assist. Usually that means something boring, like knocking on doors in a neighborhood where someone’s gone missing. Or something gross, like combing through a landfill looking for body parts. Usually. It’s not at all common practice for a chopper to land on the field in the middle of PT, and for a guy in a suit to emerge.
“Stilinski!” the guy yells. “Mahealani! Let’s go!”
And then the chopper whisks them all away again, leaving the other recruits gaping.
“What the hell was that?” someone asks as the sounds of the chopper’s rotors die away in the distance.
“That was Special Agent McCall,” someone else responds.
Addison knows that name. Rafael McCall has a burgeoning reputation for closing cases that other agents can’t, and stopping killers that nobody else can even identify. Everyone wants to work with Rafael McCall.
“Why the hell would he want those two?” Addison asks.
Nobody has an answer for that.
Two days later Stilinski and Mahealani are deposited back at Quantico.
They don’t tell anyone where they’ve been.
Stilinski and Mahealani might be getting special treatment from upstairs, but Addison knows the one place he can kick their asses: Hogan’s Alley. Hogan’s Alley is a purpose built training ground, complete with a movie theater, stores, homes and a school, that the FBI uses for everything from simulated hostage situations and armed robberies to terrorist events. Addison has been itching to play ever since he got to Quantico.
And, watching the way that Stilinski fumbles his firearm and Mahealani looks at his like he’d rather not touch it at all, Addison knows that at least this is something he can do better than they can.
He’s ready for this.
The fake terrorists are holed up in the fake movie theater with a bunch of fake hostages. Addison and Gibson and Chen and Abdul-Rahmen take their time, moving slowly and quietly, keeping in formation just like they were taught. Addison takes point. He’s the first person to get inside the doors and—
“Oh, hey,” Stilinski says, his feet up on the back of a seat. “You guys made it.”
The terrorists are sitting on the floor in front of the screen, their hands zip-tied behind them. The hostages are chatting amongst themselves.
Mahealani is sitting beside Stilinski, gaze fixed on his phone. He looks up long enough to nod at Addison, and then goes back to checking out guys on Grindr.
“Do you know what would be really cool?” Stilinski says, eyes widening. “If this place had actual popcorn.”
Addison graduates third in the class, right behind Stilinski and Mahealani.
He grinds his teeth so hard he can’t even hear Stilinski’s valedictorian speech, but he’s pretty sure it’s mostly about Batman.
Addison hates Stilinski.
Peggy James is round, middle-aged, and knows where all the bodies are buried, figuratively speaking. What she can’t figure out is exactly what Special Agent Rafael McCall is doing. The expense reports he turns in are vague at best, but every single one gets approved by the higher-ups. Peggy has worked in administration in the FBI for twenty years, and she’s never seen anything like it. It’s a government department. For all that the public thinks their tax dollars are just pissed up against a wall somewhere, Peggy knows exactly how hard it is for agents to get their expenses reimbursed. She once worked in an office that didn’t have a single wheely chair that wasn’t broken because nobody would sign off on purchasing new ones.
It’s a bureaucracy. Money flows up, not down.
When Rafael McCall gets his own office space on the ninth floor of the field office in Sacramento, Peggy finds herself transferred to be his administration officer.
It’s called Department Six. Peggy has no idea what happened to the first five departments, and she certainly has no idea what Department Six actually does.
There are only three agents in the department, and Peggy. And honestly, Special Agents McCall, Stilinski and Mahealani spend most of their time away from the office. Peggy considers it less stressful that way. She still has vivid memories of Danny Mahealani leaving bloody shoeprints all the way from the foyer to his desk.
“Is that blood?” Peggy had gasped in horror.
Mahealani had looked down and then back up again with an awkward smile. “It’s animal blood?”
Peggy had, then and there, made a conscious decision to believe his very obvious lie wholeheartedly. “I’ll get a mop.”
In the years since, Peggy likes to think she’s grown quite fond of her little team of agents. She’s also fond of her newfound celebrity amongst the other administration officers, who seem to think she’s totally privy to all the secrets of Department Six. She isn’t, but they don’t know that. Frankly, after the bloody footprints incident, Peggy is happy to know nothing at all.
She gets the call one summer night at midnight. “Hello?”
“Peggy?” The voice is breathless, taut with stress.
“You live in Folsom, right?”
“Do you have a lighter?”
Minutes later, she hears brakes screeching in her normally quiet little suburban street, and there are boots thumping on her porch. She opens the door to find Mahealani and Stilinski standing on her doorstop, with a man slung between them. All three of them are dripping wet.
It’s not a man.
Not with his face doing that thing. And his eyes glowing. And… are those claws?
“Hi, Peggy,” Stilinski says, as they drag the injured, bleeding person—thing?—inside. “Wow, your house is really nice. Did you do those watercolors yourself?”
“Lighter,” Mahealani says as they dump the guy-with-claws on the living room floor.
Peggy holds one out. She hopes it still works. It’s been a while since she quit smoking, although right now she’s considering taking it up again.
Stilinski kneels over the guy, and cups a bloody hand to the man’s strange face. “Hang on, Der.”
The claw-guy writhes on Peggy’s floor. Blood pumps out of a wound in his stomach. Stilinski tugs his shirt up, and Peggy sees the entry wound. It’s surrounded by a cobweb of black veins, like necrosis. Peggy has never seen anything like it.
Mahealani empties his pockets onto the floor. Three different lighters scatter across the hardwood floors. So does half a gallon of water.
“Ours took a swim in Lake Natoma,” Mahealani says, his cheeks dimpling when he grimaces. “So did we.”
Peggy nods understandingly, as though any of this at all makes sense.
She watches as Mahealani picks up a bullet, cracks it open, and tips the gunpowder into his damp palm. Then he takes Peggy’s lighter and sets fire to the gunpowder. And then, before Peggy can even flinch, he shoves the burning gunpowder into the gaping hole in the claw-guy’s stomach.
The guy roars and oh-sweet-Jesus he has fangs as well, and how has Peggy’s life become a horror movie? A few minutes ago she was watching Downton Abbey. One does not go from Downton Abbey to this. No. Peggy will not allow the universe to be so ridiculous.
“You’re okay,” Stilinski says, and leans down to press his forehead against the claw-guy’s. When Stilinski leans back again, a very human face has replaced claw-guy’s strange mask.
Peggy’s floor is covered in water, blood, and some sort of black goop she doesn’t really want to think about.
But maybe the most surprising thing is that way that Stilinski looks so vulnerable as he looks down at the man on the floor. His mouth is hanging open. He’s flushed. His eyes are shining with tears. He looks younger than Peggy has even seen him, and that includes the time she caught him playing Pokémon Go in the office.
He looks like a scared boy. His fingers, laced through the guy’s, are shaking.
Mahealani sits back, sighing heavily.
Peggy guesses that whatever the hell just happened here, the crisis has passed.
“I’ll get a mop,” Peggy says.
“What the hell is Department Six anyway?” Mueller mutters under her breath as the elevator rises slowly to the eleventh floor.
“I don’t fucking know,” Garcia says. “It’s all secret and shit. Nobody knows.”
The guy in the elevator with them blinks at them, and then concentrates on not spilling his cardboard tray of coffees. He’s cute. Tall, dark haired, a dark tan complexion, and dimples. Mueller can’t read the name hanging from the ID card around his lanyard. The coffees are obscuring it. It looks long. Maybe starts with an N? Or an M?
The elevator stops on the fifth floor, where the gym is, and a guy flails inside and almost brains himself with his gym bag. “Please tell me one of those coffees is for me, and I will love you and marry you and call you my precious angel forever!”
“One of them was for you,” the guy with the dimples says, “but now I’ve changed my mind.”
“Dannnnnnyyyyyyyyy!” the other one whines.
The elevator doors slide shut and they continue upwards.
“You ever been there?” Mueller asks Garcia, picking their conversation up. “Department Six?”
“Nope.” Garcia snorts. “I hear it’s some X-Files bullshit they’ve got going on there.”
“You don’t believe that, surely?” Mueller bites back a laugh. “Come on!”
“Of course not,” Garcia scoffs. “You ever watch that show, though? I wonder if they’ve got Scully working away in there. She was hot. I’d do her.”
Mueller rolls her eyes.
When the elevator stops at the ninth floor, Mueller starts. For a horrible second she’s convinced that the elevator has been bugged, and someone’s been monitoring their conversation, and whatever the hell is going on in Department Six they’re about to get their asses kicked for joking about it.
And then she realizes it’s worse than that.
“After you, Scully,” the guy with the dimples says, and the one with the gym bag snorts and steps out into the foyer of the ninth floor.
Then they both turn around and stare at Mueller and Garcia. Garcia jabs frantically at the button to close the doors.
It seems to take forever.
Three days later in the cafeteria, Mueller sees one of the guys again. He’s not carrying a gym bag this time. He’s carrying a fully laden lunch tray, and wearing an oversized ID that declares his name is Dana Scully.
Mueller has never paid closer attention to a pudding before in her life.
Conor Hastings thinks he’s bleeding out. He’s lying on his back in the middle of the fucking woods, because what was supposed to be a surveillance operation turned into... into something. And now he’s been stabbed, he thinks, except it went straight through his vest, and all he can smell is blood, and the—the thing that attacked him is still out here somewhere.
Maybe he’s dying. Maybe he’s already dead. Maybe his brain is already shutting down, because what he saw… what he saw was a nightmare.
And then there’s someone looming above him, and for a second Conor thinks it’s his attacker back to finish him off, but the full moon sails free from a cloud, and he sees the guy’s face, and it’s Danny. Danny Mahealani, who Conor has been crushing on for months now, except what is the computer guy from the Sacramento field office doing here?
“Am I dead?” Conor mumbles.
Danny kneels down beside him. He grimaces as he sees the wounds on Conor’s chest, and then smiles reassuringly. “Not yet. Hastings, right? From the fourth floor?”
“Conor.” Conor can feel himself starting to drift. “And you’re Danny, the computer guy.”
“You think I’m in IT?” Danny asks, his smile broadening. He puts pressure on Conor’s wounds.
“An analyst?” He knows Danny is an agent. “Fixed my computer that time.”
“Oh, I was just looking for an excuse to crawl around under your desk,” Danny says, and winks at him.
That’s funny. Conor tries to remember how to smile.
“I’m a field agent, the same as you.”
“Oh.” Conor blinks up at the stars. “What happened?”
“You got hurt,” Danny says. “You’re going to be okay.”
Danny’s really handsome and nice, and Conor wants to believe him. “Where’s my team?”
“You’re going to be okay,” Danny repeats, and that isn’t an answer at all, is it?
Conor blinks, and maybe he even passes out for a moment, because when he opens his eyes again there are two other men standing over him, behind where Danny is kneeling.
McCall and Stilinski.
“What…” Conor’s vision is going out of focus. “What do you do?”
A sound cuts through the air like the low rumble of thunder. Is it… is it a growl? What the hell growls like that?
McCall shines his flashlight into the woods. “Stiles.”
Stilinski nods, drawing out his firearm.
There’s a sudden rush of movement, and some thing is obscuring the moon as it leaps. Stilinski fires off three rounds, maybe four, and the thing drops onto the ground barely a few feet away from Conor.
“Feral omega,” Stilinski says tersely.
McCall nods, and steps over Conor to wherever the thing landed.
Conor closes his eyes again.
He hears three more gunshots, and then, for a long time, nothing else.
Conor wakes up in the hospital two days later, with a set of four slash marks across his chest, twenty-three stitches, and a bunch of flowers beside his bed.
He has to wait for the nurse to come and read the card to him, because he’s too weak to move.
Get well soon. From Danny.
There’s a phone number underneath.
Conor thinks back to what he remembers on the night he was attacked and shudders.
He doesn’t think he’ll call.
After five years working in D.C., Addison puts in for a transfer to Los Angeles. He gets Sacramento instead, which is fine. It still puts him on the west coast, which is where his family is. It’s not until he walks into the cafeteria to grab some lunch on his third day that he realizes he should have kept better tabs on Stilinski and Mahealani.
Because fuck his life, apparently.
Five years is a long time for some things. It’s long enough that Addison has learned to set aside his competitive streak and work in a team. It’s long enough that he’s learned he doesn’t know everything, and that’s cool. It’s long enough that he’s learned he doesn’t have to try and kill himself to be the best at everything. It is not, however, long enough to forget what an absolute dick Stiles Stilinski is.
“Hey!” Stilinski exclaims as they meet in front of the cashier. “Madison, right?”
“Addison,” Addison corrects him, feeling all his resentment flood back like it was just yesterday this annoying little turd burger was playing his stupid video games at high volume until 2 a.m. at Quantico.
“Right!” Stilinski says with a stupid grin. “Addison. How’ve you been, dude? What brings you to Sacramento?”
“I’m on the gangs taskforce,” Addison tells him.
“Oh, cool,” Stilinski says. “Cool, cool, cool.”
Addison hands the cashier a twenty. “What about you?”
“Oh, you know,” Stilinski says vaguely. “Stuff. Things. Hey, you remember Danny, right? Danny Mahealani?”
Addison jerks his head in a nod.
“We work together,” Stilinski says. “We should catch up for a beer or something. What do you say?”
Addison would rather stab himself in the eye with a fork.
But it’s only his third day, and he hardly knows anyone.
“Sure,” he says, wondering just how much he’ll regret this. “Sounds great.”
The bar is a block or two from work, and it’s clearly the local agents’ choice of watering hole. Addison sees a few familiar faces as he walks into the place, and then spots Stilinski waving him over to a table.
Mahealani is there as well, plus some guy called Hastings, and a woman called Mueller who does not have a wedding ring. She’s pretty, in the sort of no-nonsense competent way of a woman who could very easily kick Addison’s ass. He has a type, and Mueller fits it.
Special Agent Rafael McCall is here too, and Addison isn’t so star struck that he can’t hold a conversation with the guy. There are a couple of civilians drinking with them too.
“Scott,” one of them says, shaking hands with Addison.
“Derek,” the other one says.
Stilinski squeezes in between them. “Where’d Peggy go? She owes me a drink.”
It takes Addison a while to get the lay of the land. And to figure out which one of the guys Stilinski is sleeping with. He’s kind of stupidly affectionate with both of them, but that might be his third beer working its magic. It’s certainly working on Addison, who discovers that maybe he doesn’t hate Stilinski and Mahealani as much as he thought. He’s had worse nights.
“Gangs,” Addison tells Rafael McCall when the conversation works around to it again.
“You like it there?” McCall asks.
“I think it’s going to be a good fit, sir.”
“Huh,” McCall says, nodding slightly.
“Department Six,” Mueller whispers to him when McCall goes to get the next round of drinks, Peggy is in the bathroom, and Stilinski and Mahealani are deep in some conversation with Scott and Derek about… about some mutual friend called Jackson? “I think they’re expanding.”
“What’s Department Six?” Addison asks.
Mueller snorts and drains her shot glass. “Who the fuck even knows?”
“We don’t ask,” Hastings adds, and shrugs.
Five beers in, and Addison is still trying to figure it out. “So you all went to high school together?” he asks, pointing a wavering finger at the four of them. Or the eight of them. Things are getting blurry.
“I didn’t,” Derek says.
“Wooooooo!” Stiles slurs. “Beacon Hills High, home of the mighty Cyclones! Go team!”
“You warmed the bench your entire lacrosse career,” Mahealani tells him wryly.
Stilinski is outraged. “Uh, excuse you!”
It devolves into a convoluted argument about some game of lacrosse that Stilinski won for the team back in the day.
Addison gives up and gets another beer.
He and Mueller share an Uber back to her place. They’re way too drunk to do anything except eat a pizza, but it’s still the most fun Addison has had in ages.
Sacramento might just be okay after all.
“Oh, shit,” Stilinski says a fraction of a second before the window shatters.
Mueller’s first thought is that they aren’t going to get their deposit on the reception venue back. Her second thought is that this is what happens when you’ve spent the last eight months investigating some very dangerous human traffickers. Her third thought—when she sees the thing coming right at them—is that, no, this has nothing to do with her investigation at all, or Addison’s. This is all Department Six.
This is what you get for inviting Stilinski and Mahealani to your wedding.
Stilinski grabs Mueller by the wrist and pulls her behind him as the thing advances.
Mueller can’t lie to herself. It’s a fucking werewolf, okay? A big fucking werewolf, with fangs and claws and slavering jaws and the whole shebang.
And she’s supposed to be waiting for Addison so they can enter the reception together, to the joyful applause of their family and friends. There’s a schedule. The wedding planner has things timed to the minute so that it all goes smoothly. Werewolves are not included on that plan.
“Danny!” Stilinski barks into his phone as he drags Mueller down the corridor. “We’ve got a problem here! A big hairy-assed feral omega problem!”
They round the bend, smacking right into Addison.
“Stilinski what the hell—”
“Move!” Stilinski bellows.
“Move!” Mueller confirms with a gasp, and the three of them beat a rapid retreat down the next corridor with the werewolf pursuing them.
“What the hell?” Addison manages.
Mueller exchanges a look with him. Right?
“Where the hell are you?” Stilinski demands into his phone. “The coatroom? What the hell are you doing in the—”
The door to the coatroom bursts open and Mahealani and Hastings tumble out, looking flushed and rumpled.
Stilinski and Mahealani open their coats. Of course they’re carrying at a wedding. Of course they are. And Mueller couldn’t be happier.
This corridor is a dead end. Mueller finds herself with her back to the wall, Addison on one side and Hastings on the other while Stilinski and Mahealani take their positions in front of them.
The werewolf keeps advancing, growling, eyes flashing red.
“That’s not an omega,” Mahealani says in a low voice.
“A fucking feral alpha?” Stilinski flicks the safety off. “Haven’t seen one of them in a while.”
“How is Peter?” Mahealani mutters.
Stilinski snorts, and they both open fire.
“You look lovely, dear,” Mueller’s great aunt beams. “Such a beautiful dress.” Her face falls as she looks Mueller up and down. “Is that blood?”
Addison takes her by the elbow and leads her over to the open bar to distract her.
They make a good team.
It’s why she married him.
“How was the honeymoon?” Hastings asks to break the silence in Conference Room 4.
“Addison got food poisoning and vomited for the first three days,” Mueller says. “And I stood on a sea urchin. So still less traumatic than the wedding.”
Addison nods wryly.
“Any idea why we’re here?” Hastings asks, keeping his voice low.
Mueller is really hoping that they don’t make an easier target this way.
The doors to the conference room open, and Rafael McCall steps inside, flanked by Stilinski and Mahealani.
“Agents,” he says, nodding at them. “Congratulations. You’ve been promoted. Welcome to Department Six.”
Mueller, Addison and Hasting exchange glances.
Mueller has no idea what’s going to happen next, but she knows one thing for sure: it’s going to be a hell of a ride.