Erica laughed hysterically, tackling Boyd off of the pack couch. Derek smiled at the sight, he’d only bitten the teenager a week ago and she was already practically a brand-new girl. She’d gone from a quiet girl in day-old sweats to a leather clad young woman full of confidence and sex appeal. Not appeal to Derek but still, Boyd seemed rather enraptured. In the background, the FRIENDS theme song played as the DVD switched automatically between episodes.
“One day, Erica, we’re going to do a pack TV Marathon and watch something that isn’t 90’s TV.”
“One day!” Erica agreed readily. “Today is not that day. And to be honest, next week isn’t looking too good either.”
Derek snorted a laugh. It was good to come home after the long day he’d had.
His pack meant the world to him, even though he had practically thrown a tantrum when he woke up an Alpha. His aunt had died over night a month ago, and left her Alpha powers to Derek, a decision she hadn’t shared with him before her death. Derek had never trained to be an Alpha, Laura would receive their mother’s Alpha powers when their mother passed, and everyone had assumed that his Aunt would leave her abilities to her husband Peter.
Peter was the only one unsurprised by the choice of succession. Derek couldn’t blame his uncle for wanting to stay a beta, all his life Derek was happiest under someone else’s command.
Derek’s computer lit up with an email notification and he grunted.
“Derek.” Peter warned. “It might be important.”
“It’s probably not.” Derek grumped, he had no talent for the social side of being an Alpha, meeting with other Alphas and potential betas every other week.
“Derek…” Peter repeated.
“Ugh fine!” Derek ceded. “But we’re doing double the training this week, if I have to interrupt pack bonding for this.”
Isaac groaned loudly in protest, complaining at Peter for setting a, “fitness freak Alpha onto all of us.”
Derek picked up his computer and switched it on. The only email in his inbox was a notification from YouTube.
LittleRed just uploaded a video
Derek opened the email notification before even looking at the title of the video, pausing it quickly before any sound could be generated. Derek then stood up and walked off without a word.
“What the fuck was that?” Peter asked, the three teenagers looking over at him in confusion.
“What do you mean?” Erica asked, actually pausing her wrestle fest with Boyd to address the oldest member of her pack.
“Derek doesn’t care about emails. Derek doesn’t bother responding to his mother’s phone calls most of the time.”
“That’s not true!” Isaac exclaimed. “Not all the time, but a few times a week he’ll go answer urgent emails in his room.”
“Isaac, you’ve known Derek for a month, Erica and Boyd, you two have known him collectively a whole fortnight. I’ve known our Byronic Alpha his entire life, there is no way in hell, he would drop whatever he’s doing to answer an email from just anyone, no matter how urgent.”
Peter’s heartbeat was steady as he spoke, and the three wolves had just learned about lying vital signs from Derek a week ago.
“Well, what’s he doing then?” Boyd asked.
“Okay guys! I’m so glad you could join me today, whether you’re new or an all-time subscriber!” Stiles waved awkwardly at the camera. “Today’s video is going to be for all my untethered Emissaries out there, though this might be useful for some single Alphas too. If you’re an Alpha and an Emissary you’re considering does any of these things, that means that they have decent control over their abilities, are eager for your approval and have been doing plenty of research to improve their chances of joining your pack. You should be flattered!”
“Anyway, so before this intro gets too long, this is 5 things every Emissary NEEDS to do to be picked up by a pack.” Stiles stressed his word unnaturally for effect as he spoke.
Number one: A flashy introduction.
The words flashed up on the screen in a bubbly blue font.
“Okay, so first impressions are super important, Alphas are instinctive and impulsive, so they will make up their mind about you within the first few seconds of meeting you, before you even open your mouth.”
“A great way to communicate this power is with a fireball. Or, an illusion of a fireball. Real fire can be hard to control if you’re not well practiced in Pyrokinesis. Most Alphas looking for an emissary will be young and not have a lot of experience with magic as most emissary/Alpha bonds are for life. If your potential Alpha has had a previous emissary, watch my video on Alpha red flags that I’ll link below, because it’s possible that your potential Alpha is dangerous or emotionally abusive.” Stiles points to the bottom of the screen as he speaks.
“So, all you gotta do is focus your power in your palm while picturing the image of fire. Make sure it’s the picture of fire, don’t think about the heat or you might actually set your hand on fire.”
“Bam!” Stiles held his palm up, a small ball of blue fire flickering convincingly in his hand. “You now look like a badass!”
Number two: Do your homework.
“This may be less fun, but you should do your research on your potential Alpha and if possible, the entire pack. You’ll look like a total idiot if you ask, ‘Who’s the Alpha exactly?’ or ‘How’s your Dad?’ when their parents were murdered brutally. This will also help you find out if there are any total deal breakers. Maybe you’re looking to mate with your Alpha in the future, so you should know if they’re married and have 12 pups. Maybe you’re older, and only recently came into your powers and the Alpha is 17 or something.” Stiles pulls his lips down in an unappealing scowl at the idea.
Number three: Follow protocol.
“Maybe you’re all all-powerful emissary, but any Alpha will not appreciate it if you rock up in plaid and a t-shirt and say something like ‘What’s up, bro?’.” Stiles looked down at his own outfit, a wonder woman graphic tee with red plaid over the top. “Don’t ask me how I know that.” He paused to look sheepishly into the camera. “Address them as Alpha and then their last name. Do not say 'My Alpha' until the bond is formed or you’ll look desperate.”
Number four: Be kind to everyone present, or at least polite.
“If you’re a total asshole to everyone except the Alpha, no pack is going to want you, this is just common sense. A pack is a family and no Dad is going to want to adopt you if you swear at his kids and ignore his siblings.” Stiles said brightly. “And for the record, I didn’t do this one, but I did witness another magic user try to make themselves seem important by referring to an Alpha’s betas as ‘mutts’, it was so rude and as far as I know, they still don’t have a pack or an Alpha.”
Number five: Be yourself.
“Don’t lie. If a bond is formed while you’re pretending to be something or someone that you’re not and the Alpha finds out you were lying, you’ll have a broken bond before the week is out.”
Some white text came up on the screen. I didn’t do this either, don’t worry.
“I understand how much most of you want an Alpha, I hear you, but don’t bond with whomever just to be bonded, wait for the right Alpha.”
“And hey, most of these steps go for Alphas looking to score an emissary. Bring your whole pack to see how they interact with your possible emissary, and to show your power and prowess as an Alpha. Be polite and address the magic user as their magic user type and their name. I would be Spark Stilinski. The other emissary I know would be Druid Deaton.”
Derek smiled, he could always listen to Stiles speak - regardless of the topic - he even watched that one video review of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. It was two hours long and Derek didn’t regret a single second of it.
This time, the video notification came from Derek's phone.
They were in the middle of their biweekly training at the time, Isaac snarling somewhat half-heartedly at Boyd as they circled each other in the dim light of the sickle moon. Erica looked on anxiously, nervous for the welfare of her mate, despite the training aspect of the fight. Peter sat in human form, his calm only highlighted by the beta shift of his packmates. Derek sat in his Alpha form, his mother’s wolf rather than his grandmother’s monstrous form.
They weren’t far from the house though, Derek’s clothes folded neatly on the steps up the veranda, his phone in the back pocket of his jeans.
So, the moment that his phone buzzed with the alert that seemed generic to the pack, but Derek knew was only for emails, the black wolf’s ears perked up.
Almost immediately, Derek shifted back to a human. “So, Peter, you can be in charge until I get back. If I’m not done by the end of the fight, run two Stiles-I mean miles. Then Erica and Isaac, try and take on Peter.”
Derek yanked on his trousers, as a born wolf he knew that nudity was part of shifting, training and full moon nights. However, three fifths of his pack were newly turned and got very weird about full nudity. They’d tried to explain it to Derek several times but every reason boiled down to ‘it’s just not done!’
Derek was still wondering at the prudes that made up his pack when he logged onto his laptop and opened up the email he knew was from Stiles, having seen the Instagram post earlier warning his fans of the upcoming video.
The title almost stopped Derek’s heart.
My Alpha found my channel?!
Derek had no delusions about ever being Stiles’ Alpha. Derek wasn’t even sure where in the country Stiles lived. But the way Stiles always spoke of being a single Spark gave Derek hope that there were still good Emissaries out there.
Despite the growing feeling of dread, and shrinking feeling of hope; Derek double-clicked on the thumbnail in his email to watch the video.
"Hey everyone!" Stiles opened. "So, I just want to be super clear, I am currently a completely unattached emissary. Actually, that's a little oxymoronic. I'm a magic user, a Spark actually, and do not have any official pack affiliations that would classify me as an emissary." Derek paused the video to do some deep breathing. He didn't even know Stiles, and he knew that his quiet nature would clash horrifically with Stiles' need for motion and energy; that he would be boring to the brightest Spark of this century. But knowing that, didn't do anything to dissuade his own visceral reaction to seeing Stiles' face, and the fluid way he incorporated hand movements into his rambling speech patterns.
"This video is titled thusly, because my friend is an Alpha, and he found my channel the other day, and absolutely flipped out." Stiles wrung his hands almost nervously, but Derek could see the excitement in his eyes, at the opportunity to talk about something that entertained the teenager. "I've been through a lot since I came into my powers and I make videos talking about it to not only help other people who might be dealing with similar circumstances, but also as a way to sort through my feelings and emotions about things that have happened. One of the things that did happen before I gained the ability to use magic was that my best friend of six years was bitten by a rogue Alpha who we subsequently killed in self-defence." Stiles paused for effect with a wry grin. "Every time I make a video mentioning death, I get a lot of comments about doing the Right Thing. For those of you who tell me off for being a 'murderer'." Stiles paused for the air quotes. "I hope you never have to face a feral Alpha with no magic or training, at 16 years old, and only a newly bitten beta for backup."
It wasn't like people didn't know what had happened to Stiles, as the most powerful Spark on record, he was a very public figure for those in magical circles. But hearing it laid out like that was different. Stiles had been a human who fought alongside with wolves for over a year before gaining his powers in one of the greatest shows of untapped magical ability ever seen. Stiles had turned his beta friend into an Alpha with nothing but his own sheer will. It was unheard of, but started an incredible precedent for Stiles pushing the boundaries of magic and beating his own path. Derek was a tiny bit in awe.
"Since I didn't discover I was a Spark for a year afterwards, my Alpha best friend had already tied himself to an emissary. And honestly, I don’t blame him, packs are intense about emissaries, they act like bigots confronted with a family with a dad and no mum. Alphas can be nurturing too, and emissaries can be destructive. But, that's why I was so heavily associated with a pack without any official ties." Stiles grinned. " His loss..." Derek nodded in silent agreement, any Alpha would be lucky to have Stiles as their emissary or mate. Or both. "But a lot of people do still think we're a bonded pair. So here is some actual footage of the Skype call I received after my friend and definitely not Alpha found out I had videos detailing all out exploits since middle school."
The footage that came after was of a male who was probably close in age to Stiles yelling into a webcam, Stiles looking bemused in the upper corner. He was already mid rant, as Stiles obviously hadn't thought to turn on the recording until after the shouting had already started.
Derek screwed up his nose after a growl rumbled unchecked through his vocal chords. He then sped through the video until the end, watching Stiles thank his audience for their time and saying he'd see them later.
It was a good thing Derek lived so far away from Stiles, if one shitty Skype call of someone yelling at the Spark made Derek sub vocal, there was no telling what kind of overly Alpha reaction Derek might have if he met Stiles in person. Some of the worse options included Derek stealing Stiles away or losing control of his shift, like he did when he was four and Laura took his stuff.
Derek knew that as a responsible Alpha, something he was determined to be, he had to pick an emissary to represent his pack. But that was so fucking hard to even think about, when his wolf side wanted the best. And Stiles was the best. And Stiles was practically on another planet for how far out of Derek's reach he was.
“And, shift!” Derek ordered, watching the speed that his bitten betas could sprout claws and elongate their teeth.
“Still too slow.” Peter said, before Derek could.
“The Sheriff says this might be a Malaysian Polong, they are invisible and once they’re close enough for you to sense them you’ll only have a fraction of a second to respond.”
The three teenagers looked around in dismay.
“Let me guess.” Peter began, and Derek missed his Mum in times like this, and he could use her guidance in teaching what Derek had always known and had no capacity for putting into words. “You three are trying to speed up the shift by forcing it?”
Without waiting for a response, Peter continued. “Well stop it. Your shift is a natural reaction, like when I swipe at Isaac.” Peter leapt forward as he spoke. “Isaac will flinch. So, move as though your claws and teeth are already there and they will be there by the time you make contact. Trust yourselves.” Thank god for Uncle Peter.
Boyd was walking from the kitchen to his room, glass of juice in hand when he realised that the voice coming from Derek’s room wasn’t one he’d heard before. The beta’s shoulders tensed up as his fight instincts kicked into gear.
He eyed the door dubiously; slightly ajar, lights on in the Alpha’s bedroom.
Second, the sound of the voice, melodic, almost sing song, and so, so quiet.
Then Boyd realised that the voice must be coming through headphones, and relaxed. It was hard to remember that the quietest sound he could hear now was 5 decibels, when it used to be more than four times louder.
“Every tree was stained with sacrificial blood. the very earth groaned, dead yews revived; unconsumed trees were surrounded with flame, and huge serpents twined round the oaks. The people feared to approach the grove, and even the priest would not walk there at midday or midnight.” The foreign voice said, obviously reciting poetry of some kind. “That’s the description given by Marcus Annaeus Lucanus in his work ‘Pharsalia’ and brings us to the conclusion of this video. I hope I managed to dispel some of the myths around the Celtic temples known as Nemetons.”
Was Derek watching a druid documentary?
There was something almost familiar about the tone, the rambling pattern of words. But it wasn't distinct enough for Boyd to make an immediate identification.
When he returned to his bedroom, Boyd set aside his juice, and booted up his own laptop quickly. After a few minutes looking for Nemeton videos, Boyd found the one he figured Derek was watching.
I shouldn’t be telling you this…The Nemeton.
A video with a familiar, smiling face on the thumbnail.
After scrolling through LittleRed’s YouTube channel, Stiles’ channel, Boyd had reached a single conclusion.
“I think Derek wants to learn about magic.” Boyd said in his quiet, serious tone as he walked into the lounge room.
“What?” Erica asked, turning away from the football game momentarily.
“I saw what he was doing in his room, he’s watching videos from that Californian Spark, Stilinski.”
“That makes sense!” Isaac brightened. “He was almost forced into a bonding only a week after I met him. He’s probably on the lookout for an emissary.”
“Wait, wait.” Peter interrupted, looking up from his phone. “Derek has been spending an hour a week watching videos featuring this guy.” He held up his mobile, a grinning photo of Stiles in a red hoodie on the screen. “-This guy, and your conclusions are that he wants to learn more about magic and find an emissary? That’s…” Peter pauses, seemingly thinking over his next words, opened his mouth and closed it again. “Such a great idea!”
“You think?” Erica had a rare moment of thoughtfulness. “He does so much for us, he’s done so much for me. If he wants a magic user in the pack then we’re going to get him one if it’s the last thing Peter does!”
Peter glared momentarily but it was more a token expression, rather than a genuine show of irritation or distaste.
“Well if you guys really want to do something nice for our hard-working Alpha, I’ve got an idea.” Peter said as he pulled out his laptop.