Stiles is expecting to find his dad waiting for him at the airport, glowering and impatient. He got the glowering and impatient part right, but it's Derek standing amongst the bright throngs of holidaymakers and business travelers, looking dark and out of place.
"Uh, hi," Stiles says, waving as much as he can when weighted down with his bags. "How'd you convince my dad to let you do the pickup?"
"Your flight was delayed."
"No it wasn't," Stiles says, kind of flailing to indicate his presence exactly when he was supposed to touch down.
"Um, he might've gotten the impression that your flight was delayed," Derek hedges, ducking his face.
"By you telling him that?" Stiles asks, raising an eyebrow.
"Maybe," Derek huffs, still staring at his shoes.
"Wow, you're a possessive bastard," Stiles says, but he can't help his grin when he does because it feels kind of nice to have someone want to see you first so much that they're willing to lie to someone with a gun.
Derek makes an abortive gesture at him and Stiles isn't sure what he wants, but tries to hand his heaviest bag off anyway. Derek frowns and shakes his head, but he still takes it and shoulders it easily, the one that Stiles had been practically forced to drag along the floor.
"No, I, uh... can I?" Derek makes another weird motion with his arms once he's got the bag settled.
"Oh my god, dude, did you want a hug?" Derek doesn't answer which is Derek code for yes. "You know you don't have to ask, right?" Stiles drops the rest of his bags on the floor, his shoulders practically crying in relief and steps forward, wrapping arms around Derek's unyielding form.
Derek doesn't exactly hug back, even though he was the hug-instigator, but he does rub a stubbled cheek along Stiles' throat. He's trying to be subtle about scent-marking Stiles before they head to Beacon Hills but he might as well be sticking little Property of Hale signs around Stiles' feet for all the subtlety he's managing.
Stiles ignores the ulterior motive and takes the opportunity to cuddle Derek for as long as he wants. The werewolves are pretty touchy-feely but they don't so much share affection as rumble and occasionally and only sometimes accidentally grope each other and any humans that get too close, like Stiles.
"Anything new?" Stiles asks brightly when he finally relinquishes his monkey grip and lets Derek pick up the majority of his bags and his dignity.
"In the last six months when we weren't allowed to contact you?" Derek grumbles and yeah, that's his pissed off voice. It's so close to his normal voice that sometimes it's hard to tell the difference but Stiles has learned the knack over the last few years. "Yes, there's new stuff."
"Like whaaaaaat?" Stiles whines, kicking at the back of Derek's feet as he forges a path ahead of them through the crowds.
"Danny's pack now," Derek throws over his shoulder.
"He finally get handfasted to Jackson, eh?" Stiles says, chuckling, but then what Derek says filters into his brain and Stiles stumbles to a halt, dropping his jaw and the one bag he was left with. "Wait, what?"
Derek doesn't stop and Stiles is forced to run after him before he loses him in the crowd. "Hang on! You can't just drop that on me. Just..." Stiles finally manages to catch Derek when he's forced to pause for a large family all intent on walking side by side and directly in his path to move out of his way. Stiles hooks a hand into Derek's elbow and tugs him sideways, into a small coffee shop set just off the concourse.
"Explain," he demands when he's pushed Derek down onto a chair at a tiny table off to the side and taken the one opposite.
"Can't this wait till we get back?" Derek asks, complaint in his voice.
"Obviously not since you just announced it while we were walking."
"It was important news and you asked," Derek says, shrugging. He smiles at a waitress that comes to fill the two cups set on their table with coffee and shakes his head when she asks if they want any food.
"What happened?" Stiles presses again when she retreats to the counter.
"He was already thinking about taking the bite, then there were circumstances," Derek says, infuriatingly vague.
"He was in a car accident. A bad one."
"Tell me you didn't bite Danny while he was wasting away in a coma."
"You really think I would do that?" Derek demands, looking hurt.
"I don't know," Stiles says and this seems to be the wrong thing to say because Derek growls and then makes to stand. Stiles rolls his eyes, snags Derek's sleeve and tugs him back into his chair. "Sorry, no, of course not. It was a hysterical reaction to frankly surprising information."
"He was lucid long enough for me to explain the risks. I made sure he wasn't saying yes out of fear or pain if that's what you're asking."
"That's... yes," Stiles says, grimaces.
No one’s at his dad's house when they get there. When Stiles enters the living room, there’s a half-finished Welcome Home banner laid across the dining room table and a paper grocery bag full of party supplies.
“My dad is going to kill you,” Stiles observes, digging into the bag and unearthing a package of peanut butter cups with a pleased noise.
“I thought you should get a chance to get settled before-” Derek waves his arms around, an all of this gesture. “Besides, I think the party was the girls’ doing and your dad agreed under protest.”
Stiles smiles to himself, unwrapping candy and stuffing his cheeks. He’s missed everyone and Derek referring to Lydia and Allison in such an offhand manner makes the longing to see them all sharper. Stiles appreciates Derek worrying about him being overwhelmed but he really could have used a few overenthusiastic werewolves and impatient humans for his homecoming. He’s felt disconnected because of his forced isolation and would have at least liked to have had Scott on his doorstep when he got there.
Derek seems to read everything he’s thinking on his face and grimaces. Stiles knows that grimace well, he sees it every time Derek thinks he's made a social faux pas. “You wanted the party,” he sighs, an observation and not a question.
“I mean, it wouldn’t have been terrible,” Stiles admits.
“Well, that’s a relief,” Derek says nonsensically and suddenly there are people jumping out at him from every direction. He’s being picked up and passed around and having the daylights squeezed out of him. Stiles loses his breath a little, only managing to catch it when he finally ends up in his dad’s arms who’s laughing and holding him tight. He sneaks a look over his dad's shoulder at Derek who's far too pleased with himself.
“Kiddo, your face,” his dad wheezes, Scott bumping against them like he's contemplating stealing Stiles back, big overeager eyes glowing. Stiles can hear Isaac chortling, Lydia and Allison giggling and even the rough rumble of Boyd’s chuckle. Stiles sees Allison and Lydia flip the unfinished Welcome Home sign over and there’s a finished version on the other side that they run with towards the back of the house, trailing behind them like a flag. The Sheriff relinquishes Stiles back to Scott who throws Stiles over his shoulder like a sack of flour, Stiles protesting the whole way.
He’s carried out to the backyard where there’s balloons and streamers, the barbeque already on and being tended by Jackson and a wary-looking Danny. His dad’s unearthed the fold-out picnic table from the garage and it’s fairly groaning with food. Music starts up from behind them in the house.
Stiles is definitely overwhelmed, but in a good way.
Scott gives Stiles back to his dad and the gathered group retreat from them to offer a small semblance of privacy to say proper hellos. Stiles’ dad is blinking hard, the way he does when he’s trying not to cry.
“You got heavier,” Scott says before he leaves Stiles' side.
“It’s all the muscles I developed,” Stiles snorts, raising an arm and flexing his biceps.
“Or Madeline’s lasagne,” the Sheriff says and Stiles pulls a face. The first week he’d gone to witch-camp, he hated calling it that but couldn’t stop after Isaac and Scott used the term non-stop for weeks before he left, he’d been able to take his dad with him. His dad had wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to get brainwashed by a cult and even though Deaton had been the one to recommend the place, his dad had wanted to see it for himself.
“No food baby here, I swear,” Stiles says, shoving his t-shirt up to slap at his flat belly. He drops his shirt quickly when he notices Derek looking their way with something like exasperation on his face, embarrassed. “Can we say the same about you, hmm?”
His dad dodges Stiles’ questing fingers and then Scott is back and hauling Stiles into another hug, obviously Stiles-starved like he’s never had to be before.
“I missed you, man,” Scott admits into the vulnerable skin of Stiles’ throat and Stiles feels warm down to his toes. He and Scott had drifted apart a little in their last year of high school, Scott's focus being on dragging his grades out of the muck enough to make a decent run at college and also performing the tightrope act that a relationship with a hunter’s daughter was since they’d decided to make a proper go of it.
“You too,” Stiles agrees, not meaning just the last six months he's been away and hoping with maturity they’ll be able to manage balancing everything properly. Isaac is hovering close enough that he immediately darts forward under Stiles’ arm when it’s offered, shy after the initial mass exuberance. “I was expecting to come back and find Beacon Hills razed to the ground without me here.”
“We managed,” Lydia says, insinuating herself into the small circle of Isaac, Scott and Stiles long enough to smack a red-lipsticked kiss on Stiles’ cheek.
Stiles is released and he makes his way over to Jackson and Danny, pausing only long enough to give Allison a hearty handshake and then accept a hand ruffled through his hair. Jackson offers a salute with the barbeque fork and then nudges Danny in his direction, which is strangely perceptive of him.
“Hey,” Danny says, looking wary.
“Hey man,” Stiles says, trying to keep his tone flippant even though Danny can probably hear his heart speed up. “Heard you got all....” Stiles holds his hands up, puts the tips of his thumbs together and curls all the fingers but his two index ones down so they make a W.
“Yeah, it’s...” Danny swings his arms, then shrugs.
“I’m glad man, honestly,” Stiles says, pulling Danny into a quick one-armed hug that Danny accepts readily, tension draining from his body. “Finally, a sane werewolf.”
“Hey!” the other werewolves present protest in unison and Stiles will have to get used to lousy, eavesdropping supernatural creatures in his life all over again.
“Where’s Erica?” Stiles asks when Scott gravitates back towards him.
“She had to work but she said she’d be here as soon as she could,” Scott says.
“Oh, that’s-oof!” Stiles lets out as someone lands on his back and nearly knocks him flat.
“Stiles!” Erica squeals right into his ear and Stiles winces, then hooks arms under her knees and barrels towards Derek who’s been hovering at the outskirts of the party looking far too serious. Derek looks hilariously startled to be hit by Stiles and Erica full tilt and they’re all wheezing with laughter in a tangle of limbs on the ground when the Sheriff rolls his eyes and plucks Stiles out of the pile.
“Let’s get you fed, kid,” his dad says.
“They were all pretty excited,” his dad says after the silence has stretched for a long time. “They all slept here so they could set up for the party early.”
“That’s adorable,” Stiles says and he’s amused, but also extremely touched. He’d been fearing awkwardness, maybe resentment and disappointment to have abandoned the pack for so long. What he did, he did for the pack, but they had all become so close-knit in the last few years that it was hard to see someone leaving as a good thing, whatever the reason.
"You're back now though?" his dad asks and Stiles glances sideways. His dad's shoulders are a tight line under his t-shirt.
They relax when Stiles says, "Yeah, for good. I think I'd have a bunch of werewolves attached to my ankles if I tried to leave again, right?"
"Right," his dad agrees.
"All purpose wards. Gotta love 'em," Stiles says, squeezing past Scott and then poking his tongue out.
"C'mon, man," Scott whines.
Stiles rolls his eyes, but then grins and says, "Fine." He reaches into a pouch attached to his belt, draws out a finger coated in a black powder and then crosses back to Scott. "Shirt up?"
"Why?" Scott asks, but he does it anyway and man, Stiles missed him.
Stiles draws a small half circle on the exposed skin of Scott's hip, then a squiggle through it. "Try now."
"Sweet," Scott says as he steps through the door, unhindered. "So, how did you afford this?"
They're standing in a small shop that used to be a coffee house, one of those here one day, gone the next non-rivals of the local Starbucks. Stiles had signed a long-term lease and had the place refitted to his specifications while he was away. The shop was basically a glorified hole in the wall with an attached kitchen area but the selling points were a tiny square of outdoor space out the back that Stiles could fill with a box garden and a large basement that runs under the three adjoining stores but can only be accessed by Stiles. He'd had half of it converted into storage and the rest a durable living space for the wolves.
"My dad put some of my mom's life insurance into a trust for me. He refused to touch it for anything else because he kept telling me that one day I'd know exactly what to do with it. There was enough to get this place done and stock it. I figure it's going to end up being a mostly an online business but I kinda liked the idea of having a physical space."
"Are you sure it's safe? I mean, did you ever watch Buffy? Until Giles took it over, every magic shop owner died horribly."
"Yeah, well, I figure I'm Giles enough to be okay," Stiles says.
"You're more Willow than Giles."
"Who says I can't be both?"
"So," Scott says, bouncing on his toes. "Show me the gross stuff."
"There's no gross stuff," Stiles huffs.
"There so is," Scott accuses, eyes narrowed.
"There might be a curtained off area for, no, bad Scott!" Stiles says when Scott takes a long, pointed sniff and then makes for a small section in the corner, hidden by shadow and a curtain with stars and crescent moons on it. Behind the curtain is a large, old-style safe and Scott looks ecstatic as he leans down and presses an ear to it, twirling the dial.
"That's not going to work," Stiles dismisses as there's a click and Scott's pulling the door open with obvious glee. "Oh my god, that shouldn't work. I'm warding that thing tomorrow."
"Dude, awesome," Scott says, questing hands reaching for the jars and boxes on the shelves of the safe. Stiles throws himself in the way, smacks at Scott until he backs up.
"Cursed objects. Cursed objects," Stiles shrills.
"Is that a jar of eyeballs?" Scott crows, straining around Stiles' body.
"That's it, out!" Stiles says and jams a hand under Scott's shirt, smearing the symbol he'd painted earlier. Scott looks completely dumbfounded as he stiffens and then marches backwards towards the door.
"No, that's... how are you doing this?" Scott complains as Stiles waves at him jovially.
He makes the wolves cart the huge safe down to his basement because again, wholly unexpected foot traffic and Stiles rightly gets a little paranoid about having the really heavy stuff out in the open, even if it's warded and locked away. He hires a specialist contractor to put in a panic room as well, not only for his use, but also comfortable and sturdy enough in case any of the wolves are having a particularly bad month.
Derek lurks, radiating worry that Stiles has basically opened himself up to all manner of supernatural entities. The panic room was a compromise to stop Derek hovering all day.
Derek's also partially mollified by the fact that Stiles has pack members on hand if anything arises. Danny and Isaac both get tattoos so they can pass through the shop wards any time that Stiles helps design and they're badass enough that Danny shows his off at Jungle with a wicked grin that makes Stiles feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Stiles eventually puts a sign in his front window and on his website that reads By appointment only - you know who you are, and everything meanders on like that, quiet and mostly peaceful.
It can't last. Stiles knows it can't last, but he enjoys it while it does.
Stiles looks up from transcribing an interview he had with a selkie and yes, it's basically a blanket thumping on the door. It's bright daylight outside so Stiles isn't exactly sure why bedding is accosting his place of business. The need to knock though instead of just walking in trips Stiles' spidey sense and he approaches warily, holding the jumble of amulets on a chain around his neck and calls, "Read the sign! You can't step in, you need an appoint-urk!"
Stiles' voice is cut off when the back of his shirt is grabbed and he's basically hauled behind Isaac who's growling, fully shifted. Danny's up and out of the back office as well, eyes gold and nostrils flaring. "What the hell is that?" he growls.
"I don't know," Isaac hisses.
"Wait, is that blanket starting to smoke?" Stiles says, peering out from behind Isaac whose growls increase in urgency.
"Please, you gotta help me!" the blanket yells, voice muted through the glass. Stiles squints at it and figures it's probably big enough to be shielding a person hunched over. "There's hunters! Please!" The voice gets a little shrill at the end with desperation.
Stiles moves forward, something in the voice tugging him and Isaac grabs him, fists curled in the fabric at Stiles' hips. "Stiles, no!" he snarls.
"Let go!" Stiles snaps, smacking at his hands. "I can at least let them in the doorway. There's a secondary boundary line they'd have to get past that I put in last week and I'm pretty sure they're going to explode any minute." His shopfront gets full sun in the afternoons and whatever is under the blanket seems to be reacting to that, badly.
"It might explode in here," Danny points out, ever the logical one and Stiles sighs and rubs at his face.
"Fine, help me extend the awning," he says, pointing Danny in the direction of the crank on one side of the window and Isaac at the other. They both comply, Isaac looking reluctant to give up his hold on Stiles.
"Call Derek," Danny orders and Stiles grumbles but digs his phone out of his pocket as the wolves extend the awning that casts the front of the shop into a narrow slice of shadow. The blanket humps sideways until it's under the shade and then drops from the guy that was underneath it, bloodied and swaying on his feet.
Derek's phone goes to voicemail and belatedly Stiles remembers that Derek was taking Erica to the movies since she'd missed out going with all of them last week, being on shift. She was an EMT now and Derek was ridiculously proud of her, as were they all.
"Hey Derek, got a little situation at the shop. Can you swing by?" Stiles says, trying to sound as cheerful and unthreatened as possible so that Derek doesn't feel the need to break the sound barrier getting back to them when he gets the message. When Stiles hangs up, he approaches the front windows that the figure is pressed up against. He'd gotten the glass reinforced magically but it still seems like a far too insubstantial barrier. "Hi, who might you be?"
The guy hunches further into the shadow cast by the awning. He's wearing a leather jacket and jeans which Stiles has come to think of werewolf chic but he's obviously not a wolf if the way Danny and Isaac are both bristling and confused is any indication. "My name is Marcus. I just escaped from a group of hunters in the next town but they'll be tracking me. I... sensed this place from the city limits."
"What are you, exactly?" Stiles asks. He's fighting the temptation to just let Marcus in, mostly because he looks like he's been beaten within an inch of his life.
"I'm-" Marcus pulls a face that Stiles doesn't really understand until he says, "-a vampire."
"Bull-shit," Isaac snaps. "No such thing."
"What are you?" Marcus asks with a raised eyebrow that cracks through blood caked on his temple.
"Werewolves," Isaac says and Stiles smacks him.
"No such thing," Marcus says pointedly. "Look, I don't hurt people, but these guys weren't really interested in whether I was dangerous or not." Marcus has a strong English accent and he's hugging arms around himself, looking miserable.
Stiles goes to the door.
"Stiles, what are you doing?" Danny hisses, but he looks torn, like maybe he was already tempted to let Marcus in, too.
"I would like to think if one of you guys was in the same position, someone would give you the benefit of the doubt," Stiles says. "Call me stupid, but I can't just leave him out there to immolate."
Isaac gets in his way, shaking his head. "Stiles, wait-"
"I'm probably going to regret this," Stiles says, shuffling Isaac out of the way and pulling the door open. He reaches into the ever-present pouch on his hip, gestures for Marcus forward so he can mark him to be able to enter.
Once he's inside, Stiles retreats further into the shop and Marcus looks confused when he can't move beyond the register. "Secondary boundary line," Stiles says, pointing at the wall and a red mark high up in the corner.
"Clever," Marcus says, lowering himself gingerly onto the couch shielded from the front windows by a bookshelf. Danny pulls the curtain across on the front windows and then flips the sign on the door to Closed before moving to stand by Stiles, Isaac already at his other shoulder.
"Will you heal?" Stiles asks, unsure how much of the, what he thought fictional, vampire lore is true.
"I will. Blood will help if you have any?" Isaac starts growling again and Marcus holds up his hands, grinning wryly. "I didn't mean from you."
"I do," Stiles admits and he does. He doesn't deal in the dark arts, but blood adds a little extra oomph to most spells and wards, including the protection kind and Stiles wasn't taking any chances when he warded the shop, his dad's and Scott's mom's houses or Derek's loft. He hadn't asked Melissa to sneak him any blood although she'd offered when she'd found out what it was for, instead taking advantage of a standing agreement with another doctor at the hospital who needed a glamour to hide his faerie lineage. "Packet okay?"
"In a pinch, yes," Marcus agrees and Stiles nods, heading down to the basement to retrieve the leftover packets from the small bar fridge next to the television.
While he's below the shop, his phone rings, flashing the dorky picture of Derek he'd taken on the sly while he'd been napping with a pair of reindeer horns placed carefully on his head by a surprisingly stealthy Lydia. When Stiles answers, he can hear Erica snarling loudly in the background that whatever it is, it better be life or death because she wasn't done drooling over Chris Evans' ridiculous shoulder to hip ratio. "Um, hey?"
"Stiles! What's happened?" Derek demands immediately and Stiles can hear the sounds of Derek taking a corner too fast, Erica now complaining about being mashed into the passenger side door.
"Nothing much. Just, I thought you said vampires weren't real?"
"They aren't!" Derek snaps.
"Yeah, well, I have one in my shop."
"In? In the shop Stiles? I thought you were warded!"
"I kinda... let him in," Stiles says and when Derek makes a frustrated bark, he quickly adds, "He was basically cooking outside."
"That is the most stupid-"
"Are you serious, Stiles? Tell me you at least have Danny and Isaac there."
"They're guard-dogging as we speak," Stiles says.
"I'll be there in five minutes. I'm calling the others."
"You don't need to do that. Scott's at work and-"
"I'm calling the others," Derek repeats, voice a little shrill and Stiles grimaces because as he hangs up he hears Erica yelling, this is not a road! and really hates to think just what kind of shortcut Derek is taking.
Stiles tosses Derek his pouch, knowing Derek will yell at him if he crosses back into the vampire's range to let them in and watches Derek make quick work of painting the ward breaching symbols on himself and Erica for both the first and second boundaries. Stiles has campaigned for Derek to have his own supply of the powder somewhere he can reach if he needs to, but Derek is a giant, paranoid freak who thinks any outside the shop will mean something terrible will happen.
Derek crosses to Stiles as soon as he's able, not sparing the vampire so much as a glance and grabs Stiles by the shoulders, shunting him deeper into the shop.
"Downstairs. In the panic room. Now!" he growls.
"What? No, I'm fine," Stiles protests. "He hasn't done anything."
"Yet. He's probably laying in wait."
"I can hear you, you know," Marcus says from the couch where he's using a packet of wet wipes to clean off the worst of the blood from himself. He's looking a little brighter, offering Stiles a wan smile as he cleans his hands.
"Do I look like I care?" Derek snarls at Marcus over his shoulder.
"I'm sorry to have caused tension. I was a little desperate," Marcus offers.
"You're out of here," Derek says, turning on Marcus, letting his eyes flood red and his fangs elongate. His three betas cluster around him, pressing in and Stiles rolls his eyes and grabs Derek by the sleeve, tugging him back around.
"Hey, grumpy-guts, calm the hell down. There are hunters tracking him which means they're probably already inside Beacon Hills. Before we throw him out we should contact Chris, see if he's heard of anyone coming in, what their story is."
"Stiles," Derek says, sounding pained.
"Look, I know, alright? Your hackles are doing the mambo right now but I just..." Stiles makes a helpless gesture with his hands. "I just started thinking what if it was Isaac or Scott or Danny stuck in a strange town without the pack and they had to go to someone for help. Do you think someone would just believe that they weren't hostile?"
"There's being hospitable and then there's being reckless," Derek says, but his eyes are back to normal and he's put the scary teeth away. "I can't risk yo-" Derek huffs a long sigh, holding the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger for a moment. "I can't risk the pack like this."
"Can we just let him stay long enough to see if Chris can give these other guys their marching orders? You can march him to the city limit right after."
"You might be helping the bad guy right now," Derek says. "Did you think of that?"
"There's no way for us to know... unless, can you tell if he's lying like you can tell with everyone else?"
Derek's eyes cut down and away. "I don't know. I don't think so. His heartbeat... it's hard to describe but it doesn't sound normal. it's too steady. It hasn't changed since I got here."
"Huh," Stiles says, fascinated and starts to move around Derek but he grabs Stiles again and firmly plants him back where he was standing.
"If you won't go downstairs, at least stay behind me," he grumbles.
"I'll call Allison," Danny offers just as there's a clattering at the door and Scott and Jackson are shoving at each other and looking confused.
"Hey, what's the emergency?" Scott asks, nose flaring.
"Wow, are they just so much better at flying under the radar or what?" Stiles chuffs and Derek tweaks his ear in annoyance, Stiles slapping at him. Allison looks pretty giddy, like she wants to grab her bow and run right out the door but Chris has a hold on her and he's frowning.
"We haven't run across any before. Some of the more interesting guys swore they existed but we as a community kind of treated them like you would those people that go looking for Big Foot."
"It must be a special feeling to be scoffed at by people who chase werewolves," Stiles says and this time Derek makes a noise of agreement. "Look, he might not be exactly your traditional vampire. I thought trying to weed out real information from fiction on werewolves was tough but it has nothing on this. Try finding any actual data on vampires when we're living in the Twilight era."
"What do you know?"
"They heal fast, but it seems to be dependent on blood."
"You gave him blood?" Chris asks slowly, raising an eyebrow.
"Pre-packaged meals only, nothing from the source," Stiles says as Derek hunkers over him, glowering. Derek had smelled the blood when he'd arrived and for once it was less creepy and more convenient that he could tell it wasn't Stiles'. Otherwise Stiles knows he wouldn't have been able to stop Derek from tearing the vampire's head off.
"I can see his reflection, the whole sun allergy seems to be real, I don't know how strong or fast he is yet," Stiles says, ticking off items on his fingers. "He has a heartbeat but-"
"It sounds... unnatural," Derek interrupts and Chris nods like that means anything.
"I just... how come we didn't know they exist? How come you didn't?"
"We haven't come across any. They might be better at blending in, especially since it seems so ludicrous. You also have humans claiming to be vampires all the time. If what you say is true-" Chris looks extremely dubious, "-and they don't kill people, then it would be pretty easy for them to hide in modern society."
"So they might be less Angelus and more Angel?" Stiles says. When Chris looks blank he adds, "You hunt werewolves, how have you never watched Buffy?"
"He stays away from all that stuff," Allison says and Chris rolls his eyes.
"It's too easy to muddle fact and fiction," he grumbles, like this is an old argument.
"Not even Teen Wolf? Michael J. Fox playing basketball? No?" Stiles presses gleefully.
"Anyway," Chris continues, irritated. "No one's given us the heads up that they're coming in and they should considering it's well known we've been holding this territory. I'll make some calls, send some people out. We'll head these guys off, see if your guest's story checks out."
"Oh c'mon," Stiles complains. "The hunters are just going to claim he's a blood-sucking monster out to eat babies. This guys looked like he was tortured for kicks."
"I'm sure that's not true," Chris says, a little too levelly.
"You said yourself that the vampire hunters in your community are basically the kids you give wedgies to in the playground."
"I don't think I did, actually."
"Soooooo," Stiles drawls. "If those guys stumbled on an actual vampire and found he was a harmless bunny eater, would they really just shrug their shoulders and say, ah well, here's our chance to rub it in our peers' faces but we'll let him go because we found Edward Cullen instead of Nosferatu?"
Chris' eyes flick to Derek. "Your pack keeping an eye on him?"
Chris nods. "Good. I'll see what I can find, get back to you as soon as I can."
"I should probably-" Allison starts to say, looking a little hopeful.
"You're going to help me run these hunters to ground," Chris says sternly and Allison pulls an impressive pout for a girl that can kick serious butt.
"Hey, isn't Allison technically the boss of you guys now?" Stiles asks and Chris glares at him before he ends the call. "Ooh, touchy," Stiles snorts and when he turns around, Derek is still leaning over him. "Um, hi?"
"I'm not... I like that you..." Derek eventually stands back upright, flails his hands a little. "It's admirable that you want to give this guy a chance," he finally gets out although it sounds like it takes some real effort.
"Oh, uh, thanks?"
"I mean, I'm expecting him to turn on us any minute and it'll all end horribly but it's nice that you..." Derek does something complicated with his eyebrows that takes the sting out of his words.
"Look, I get it. I'm usually an awesome judge of these things but the vampire isn't pinging me one way or the other. I wanted to make sure he was the bad guy before I tossed him out to the wolves, heh," Stiles says, Derek snorting at Stiles' lame joke.
"I do understand, what you said before, that some day one of the pack might be in the same position."
"I believe in karma, dude."
"You do?" Derek says, looking gut-punched and oh yeah, Stiles grimaces, because what on earth could Derek have ever done to deserve the shit-storm that was his life if that were really true?
"No, I just meant-" Stiles starts to backtrack but Derek is nodding woodenly, retreating to the main area of the shop and Stiles could honestly kick himself. Of course Derek is thinking about Kate, thinking that he got his whole family killed and that he still thinks it's mostly his fault for being led by his dick when he was basically still a kid.
Stiles is the only one who knows the full story when it comes to Kate Argent. It'd been told to him in a broken confession as Derek was bleeding out on a dirty warehouse floor after an honest to god Hell Hound had gored him. Stiles hadn't been able to do much to defend the pack then, his magic wild and unpredictable, and watching Derek's legs thrum against the floor and his words pour out as fast as his blood had decided him.
Stiles digs into a small locker in his office to distract himself. He's got a variety of spare clothes in the shop because werewolves are pretty hard on their outfits and he comes up with what he thinks will suffice for Marcus. He brings out his armload into the main area of the shop and hands it over to Isaac to give to the vampire without having to be told to stay away from the second ward line.
Derek gives him a small smile like he understands it for the apology it's meant to be.
Marcus is grateful, stripping efficiently and with about as much regard for his public nudity as the werewolves seem to have. The sun's setting by the time they're all settled again but the vampire makes no move towards the door, obviously content to hide in the shop till they get the all clear.
"You have vampires in your shop," his dad says flatly instead of a greeting. He then takes a moment to rub over his whole face. Stiles has come to recognize the gesture as, lord help me, what the hell kind of conversation am I about to have.
"Just the one."
"Not my point."
"Chris called you?" Stiles guesses. It wouldn't be the first time the parents have ganged up on them. His dad, Melissa and Chris have all become scarily tight of late, so much so that the pack needs to make sure all their various stories match if there's anything they don't want them to know.
"Derek actually," his dad says.
"Derek?" Stiles repeats, surprised.
"He's been good about keeping me in the loop. There's stuff I know you don't tell me because you think it's too dangerous or I'll flip out or whatever." His dad makes air quotes when he uses the words flip out and Stiles can't help but smile helplessly at him for it. "You gotta accept that I'm all in though, kid."
"Deaton once told me that once you started lying, it was a hard habit to break. I'll try though, I swear. I don't mean to... omit as much as I do."
"I know you're just being protective of me but my job is to protect you."
"How about we protect each other? Deal?" Stiles proposes, setting aside his spatula so he can offer his hand to his dad. The Sheriff rolls his eyes and uses Stiles' hand to tug him into a hug instead that Stiles returns with gusto.
"So, Derek seemed... concerned."
"He's always concerned," Stiles says absently, returning his attention to the grill.
"He worries about you."
"About the pack," Stiles corrects, but then shoots a look over his shoulder when his dad remains silent. He's just giving Stiles his judgmental eyebrow.
"He cares about you. If you don't, y'know, care about him, you should probably let him know."
"Of course I care about him," Stiles says, frowning.
"I know you... do you care about him?" his dad presses and it's Stiles' turn to raise his brows.
"I really don't understand the difference between what you're saying and what I'm saying."
"Don't be dense. Derek has a crush on you and you should maybe think about letting him down easy sometime soon before it gets awkward or he gets hurt."
"I... what? What?" Stiles is gaping, so much so that his dad actually has to put a finger under Stiles' jaw and close his mouth for him and then take over at the grill so the turkey burgers don't burn. Stiles basically vibrates behind him in confusion. "I think I just went hysterically deaf. What did you just say?"
"It's been long enough, don't you think you should... I know you probably like the attention but it's not really fair-"
"Stop saying... things. Just stop!" Stiles says, putting his hands over his ears, then taking them down again. He wants to run around the block, jump up and down, do something, because his world feels like it's flipping over. "I have a crush on him. He, in a million years, does not have a crush on me."
"Oh lord," his dad sighs.
"Seriously, dad. Why would you even think that?"
"The supernatural isn't all we talk about," his dad says and Stiles just stares at him.
"You talk about me?" Stiles squeaks.
"We talk around you mostly, but give me some credit. I know what hopelessly smitten looks like." His dad gives him a pointed look and Stiles grimaces, remembering most of his formative years and how they were spent pining for Lydia. He came to realize eventually something she'd known all along, that they worked better as friends.
"But he knows that I... y'know," Stiles says, suddenly intimately embarrassed that he's having this conversation with his dad. He doesn't want to explain to his father that Derek would be able to smell just how into Derek Stiles is on a regular basis. It's humiliating enough to know himself.
"Stiles, you're a young guy. He's not going to assume that whatever it is he can... smell, is directed towards him in particular," his dad says, proving that Stiles didn't exactly have to explain his concerns.
"What did he say, exactly?" Stiles presses.
"Nothing that specific, but you come up alot when we talk."
"That's because I'm a common denominator for you two," Stiles says, starting to be less sure that his dad is right.
"Look, I'm just telling you what I think. If you want to know for sure, there's only one person you can ask."
"Fine, alright, yes. I just... it would be nice to have a little assurance before I horribly humiliate myself by propositioning the guy who is completely out of my league."
"The heart wants what the heart wants," his dad says and Stiles groans. "Plus, I don't think you've ever given yourself enough credit. You can't base your entire self-esteem and romantic worth on whether one particular girl found you attractive."
"I know this is an imposition," Marcus says, grimacing. He does a circuit of the small space he's been allotted at the front of the shop before he asks, "Do you think I could check my email?" He's hovering at the second ward line, scuffing a foot while Stiles starts to stack shelves near the counter.
Stiles fidgets a little, scrunching his face. "You don't have a smartphone? I have wifi in the shop."
"The hunters took it. I haven't really been in a position to get a new one."
"You can use mine," Stiles says and Marcus smiles and nods his thanks when Stiles tosses it over. "Tell me you have gmail."
"I do actually, why?" Marcus asks, wandering back towards Stiles, focus on the phone in his hand.
"No reason, other than I'm always jazzed to find out the mundane little details of supernatural life. It's a thing."
"Where are Danny and Isaac?" Marcus asks absently.
"Danny's sleeping off what I can only assume was a very grind-y night at Jungle and Isaac's gone to Meadowbank to pick up some Screaming Meemies."
"What are Screaming Meemies?" Marcus asks, raising an eyebrow and finally stopping near where Stiles is hunkered.
"I guarentee you'll know when they get here."
"Are they the only ones with the tattoos to get them straight in here?" Marcus asks, holding the phone down to Stiles to take back.
"Yeah, they-" As soon as Stiles says it, as soon as he confirms it, something in his brain screams at him that it's a mistake and Marcus has dropped his phone and grabbed his reaching hand, tugging Stiles up and almost off his feet across the ward line. "What are you-?"
"You're powerful. I could smell it on you, smell it at the town limits. I didn't track the shop, I tracked you. It was a little inconvenient that you were surrounded by werewolves when I got here but I'm good at improvising. I knew given enough time, you'd all drop your guard. I just had to be patient."
"Derek's-" Stiles wheezes out as Marcus transfers his grip to around Stiles' throat.
"Not here right now. I left the shop last night, hoping to catch you alone but he followed you. Did you know that? He only left your house as the sun was rising and I needed to get back, like he knew that I wanted you for myself, that I was there."
"I'm not very quiet," Stiles snaps and Marcus' eyes gleam in amusement. "You might want to rethink whatever it is you think you're doing here because I talk all the time, even in my sleep. I have it on good authority that I'm completely infuriating. I'm not a good long-term investment and if you're proposing what I think you are, you're going to regret the eternity you've chosen for yourself."
"You're funny, Stiles. I like that. I hope you continue making jokes when we visit your father. If Derek doesn't make it back here, he can be your first."
"No," Stiles denies, really starting to struggle now but Marcus just firms his grip, bending one of Stiles' arms back until he swears the elbow creaks.
There's an enraged roar from the doorway and Stiles almost sags in relief to hear it, knowing Derek's pissed off noise anywhere. Stiles wrenches his head sideways enough that he can see Derek, eyes red, fangs out and breathing hard. Marcus turns, dragging Stiles with him and grins at Derek.
Derek snarls, then his lip curls. "I hope you don't have separation anxiety because I'm about to tear you apart."
"You seem to have quite a lot of affection for your little human here. Pity you didn't think to make him more... durable, like the other little poppets you've surrounded yourself with."
"Let him go."
"Or what, hm?" Marcus says, sounding positively pleased with himself. "You'll bark at me from outside the door like a yappy little dog?"
"How do you think this is going to go down? How do you think you're leaving here?" Derek asks, cocking his head. "Besides in pieces."
"Stiles was gracious enough to lend me his phone. I have a number of compatriots just outside the city limits that are now headed this way. We're looking forward to adding Stiles here to our ranks," Marcus explains with a smug little twist of his lips, shaking Stiles like a ragdoll.
Derek roars again, throwing himself against the invisible barrier that separates him from Stiles. The vampire just laughs, a low-throated chuckle and then opens his mouth over Stiles' collar bone. He doesn't have the cute extendable canines like the wolves. What erupts from his mouth are rows and rows of teeth like a shark's, meant for ripping and tearing. Teeth that Stiles doesn't want embedded in any part of his person.
"You give me no choice!" Stiles says, reaching up and snatching one of the amulets from around the chain on his neck and closing his fist. There's a small crack and Marcus curls back while Derek freezes mid-howl.
"What did you just do?" Marcus demands, teeth sliding back until he's left with just his human set.
"I just broke my Amulet of Solarn."
Marcus raises an eyebrow. "Is it supposed to do something other than break?"
"When I open my fist it will," Stiles says as Marcus holds him away a little like he's suddenly not sure what's in his arms. "The Amulet of Solarn, when broken, emits a single pure blast of sunlight. Enough that I'll get a very uncomfortable and hard to explain sunburn and turn you into a pile of ash only big enough to fit into a coffee cup."
"I don't believe you. I've never heard of that," Marcus scoffs, but while he's still got a grip on Stiles, it's now looser like he's preparing to shove him away.
"You hadn't heard of Screaming Meemies either," Stiles snorts.
There's a stalemate for a few moments, before Marcus' lip curls. "You're lying," he finally says.
"You wanna risk that?"
"I-" Marcus starts to say but then there's a dull chock and an arrow appears like magic in his throat. Marcus' eyes go wide and he gurgles, hands finally relinquishing Stiles completely so they can paw at the arrow. Stiles skitters away from him and when Marcus drops to his knees, Stiles can see Allison standing at the back door with her bow, eyes narrowed and face determined.
"Stiles!" Derek almost whines and Stiles makes his way quickly over to the shop's front door. He's fumbling with the pouch at his side but Derek doesn't wait for that. When Stiles is close enough, Derek just grabs him and pulls him in close, breathing quick and scared into Stiles' cheek.
"Hey, it's okay," Stiles soothes, even though his heart is still racing. He can feel the sharp points of Derek's fangs at his ear and strangely enough, it's comforting rather than scary. He turns into Derek more fully and lets Derek wrap his whole self around him.
Stiles sees Chris appear over Derek's shoulder and manages to shuffle them aside enough that Chris is able to squeeze past into the shop. Scott's also there a moment later, the vet clinic not too far away and obviously summoned by Derek's cut-off howl. Scott's breathing hard, eyes wide and face pale and Derek doesn't relinquish his hold on Stiles, but he does grab a fistful of Scott's shirt to tug him into their embrace when Scott makes a high-pitched noise of upset.
It's probably only a few moments later that Stiles feels something poke him in the temple and he opens his eyes, not remembering having closed them, to see it was Allison. Derek and Scott disengage, even though they both look disgruntled to do it, and then Stiles makes quick work of painting the ward-breaching symbols on them.
When they're back in the shop proper, Marcus is sitting up with the arrow removed from his throat, but tied and looking murderous, Chris hovering over him. "He sent for reinforcements," Stiles says, tilting his face at Marcus.
"When we couldn't find the hunters he was talking about, we figured something like that. We found a suspicious group at the Motel 6 early this morning, set up a perimeter just in case. When about five guys left their room in full motorcycle leathers and helmets with no motorcycles, we figured we'd played our hunch correctly," Chris says, looking about as smug as he ever does when he's gotten the upper hand.
"Nice," Stiles comments, nodding.
"I understand that you wanted to give these guys the benefit of the doubt, but considering there were two very dead pizza delivery boys in their room, I think we're pretty safe in assuming these aren't the tofu kind of predators."
"You don't know who you're dealing with," Marcus growls. "We are legion. We will reign down-argh!" Marcus is pushed over into a very undignified sprawl by Allison and she shrugs when everyone just stares at her.
"I hate the speechifying type of bad guy. We're going to rue the day, yada," she says, rolling her eyes.
"You are stone cold, Argent," Stiles says, impressed. Derek's grabbed a handful of the bottom of Stiles' shirt, like he needs to be reassured that Stiles is fine by touch and Stiles isn't inclined to disengage himself just yet.
"Where'd you get that amulet? I've never even heard of it," Derek says.
Stiles stares at him for a moment, before he says, "Oh man! That was totally my favorite Green Lantern pendant. I got it at Comicon when I was sixteen." He's grinning as he holds up two halves of a glass circle that, when he fits together, have the Green Lantern symbol painted on.
"I knew you were bluffing," Marcus growls from the floor and then squeaks when Allison puts a foot on his shoulder.
"You were bluffing?" Derek demands.
"I was buying time."
"Did they teach you that at witch camp?" Derek asks, sounding annoyed.
"Hey, fake it till you make it has always been a Stilinski motto." Derek's still holding onto him so Stiles supposes he's not in too much trouble.
"If you don't mind, I think we'll take your guest here to join his friends," Chris says, grabbing Marcus by the back of the shirt and hoisting him up.
"I'll come with," Scott offers and Chris gives him a nod. Stiles moves to follow them, but he's still attached to Derek who's apparently not going anywhere.
"What?" Stiles sighs when Derek gives him a stern look.
"You have research to do."
"Why? Bad guy caught. Good day. No more research."
"You're finding a real anti-vampire charm."
"That might not even exist," Stiles complains.
"If it does, you'll find it," Derek says and Stiles can almost forgive the fact that Derek's basically making him stay behind to do homework with that compliment.
"How'd you know I was here?" Derek asks.
"Well, you have the others sweeping the entirety of Beacon Hills for any stray vampires that might have slipped the hunters. It wasn't a giant leap to figure you'd be skulking about until you were one million percent sure they were all gone."
"What's the kooky thought?" Derek asks, not bothering to argue the logic.
"That you have a giant, angsty, put-my-photo-on-the-wall-and-pretend-to-make-out-with-it crush on me."
"Why must you make everything sound far creepier than it really is?"
"It's a talent."
"You should take your act on the road."
"You didn't answer my question."
"I didn't realize there was one."
"Derek," Stiles says, punching him in the arm.
"Yes, I have feelings for you, but you knew that already."
"I knew you cared about me. I didn't know about the other stuff."
Derek just blinks at him, eyebrows furrowed. "Yes you did."
"I really didn't. I'm not sure why you would think that I would think you were in the romantic realm of possibility for someone like me."
"Someone like... Stiles! I know you're kind of a dumbass sometimes-"
"Wow, way to woo a fella there, muttonchops."
"I'm not... I'm fine with it, okay? There's no need to do this."
"To do what?"
"To let me down gently."
"You really think that's what I'm doing?"
"I'm-" Derek starts to say but he's cut off when Stiles grabs a handful of his shirt and hauls him forward and basically bonks their foreheads together. "Ow, what the hell?"
"Ugh, that went a lot smoother in my head," Stiles says, rubbing his own head.
"What were you trying to do?"
"I was trying to kiss you. I've wanted to for a long time but you've always been so politely dismissive of me basically being a big horny mess around you."
"Um?" Derek says, eloquently. "Try again?"
This time when he's braced for it, everything goes a lot smoother. They both push into each other's space and angle just right and their lips align. It's still mostly chaste, but they are standing on Stiles' dad's porch and just when it starts to get a little interesting, more hot, heavy and wet, the porch light flicks on and off a bunch of times.
"I'm an adult!" Stiles shrills at the front door.
"I still don't need to see that!" his dad yells back. "Neither does Mrs Callaghan who just rang to tell me there were teenagers making out on my property."
"We can make out inside," Stiles offers and there's a beat of silence before the porch light clicks off and his dad says gruffly, "Carry on."
"I do have my own apartment," Derek says.
"Is that a dig at me living with my dad?"
"I meant for privacy."
"Oooooooh," Stiles says, then waggles his eyebrows. "Privacy."
"Oh my god," Derek groans and it's less a fun groan than exasperation but Stiles will take it.
"I'm going to Derek's!" Stiles yells at the house.
"Thank god!" he hears from inside.