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Rise

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Part 2

Stiles pulled his legs up over the sill, watching for toys as he lowered himself to the pink Power Ranger rug beneath the window. He dropped to the floor near-silently and held a hand out to help Cora in. She pointed over his shoulder and held up two fingers; he nodded and turned. The bedroom door was open to the hallway. A long rug that was wrinkled in the middle led into the hall, marking a blue-and-green path. Two kids stood with their backs to the wall, watching whatever was happening around the corner.

The little one turned and saw him, her eyes widening and going gold.

He put his finger to his lips and crouched so he didn’t look quite so intimidating. He gestured for her to come to him, but she shook her head and backed into her sister.

The older girl grabbed her arm and looked at him, her eyes raking over his vest and weapons; a wavering growl started in her throat.

“No, shh,” he breathed. He held out his hand and saw her nostrils twitch, saw the tension leave her shoulders as she smelled werewolf on him.

She leaned over her sister and whispered something, shoving her between the shoulders so she was closer to Stiles.

Stiles picked her up and turned, passing her off to Cora. He spun back for the other one, but she’d already darted across the opening in the hall to the next room. She was exposed in the light from the front room for a moment, making Stiles’s breath catch. The muffled sound of heavy boots on carpet followed her brief exposure, making him mouth a curse. He straightened up and pressed his back to the wall, waiting with bated breath. He glanced to his right and made eye contact with Cora; she nodded and leaned out the open window, murmuring something to Erica and Scott, who were waiting just below for the kids.

The human rounded the corner, heading for the room the little girl had gone into. Stiles grabbed his face and dragged him back, off his feet, and cut his throat. He jerked frantically, one boot slamming into the wall with a damning bang! Stiles muttered, “Fuck,” and tossed the dying man into the bathroom, closing the door on his wet gasps.

“Kids, get over here,” he hissed as the rest of the house started yelling.

“Get them out!” a woman snarled.

Something shattered, followed by, “We’ll get you all out,” from somewhere deeper in the house. It might’ve been Laura.

“No,” a man said. He came into the hall, blocking off the kids’ bedrooms. “Get my kids out,” he said, looking over at Stiles. “We’ll hold them off.”

Stiles swore again, bolting into the room the girl had gone into. He slapped the light on. “Come on, come on, to the back,” he said, urging the sleepy little ones out of their bunk beds.

One of the smaller boys started crying, and the older one didn’t look far off from tears himself. “My parents,” he said, but the oldest girl grabbed his arm.

“Come on, Travis,” she said firmly. “We’re going together.”

Stiles scooped up a toddler and the crying boy, herding the others out of the room in front of him. “Go to the room I came from,” he ordered, cringing when someone shouted. A shot made the boy in his arms start crying harder, pressing his face into his neck.

Cora took the toddler and passed her out the window to Scott, then the other kids. While she got them out, Stiles closed and locked the door one handed; someone kicked it.

“We have the legal right to remove any supernaturals from the premises!” they called, kicking the door again.

Stiles backed up, looking for something to block the door with.

“Stiles!” Cora snapped. “Just come on. All the kids are out, right?”

“Yeah, this is the last one,” he said, bouncing the crying boy a little. “Hey, you gotta let go so we can get outside, okay?”

“I want my dad!” he gasped, tightening his hold around Stiles’s neck.

Cora pried his arms away gently and bundled him out to Scott. “I grabbed some of their clothes for them,” she said when Stiles hesitated. “It’s the best we can do now. Laura’s already out. We can’t do anything for the parents,” she added. “They’re holding the hunters off, but if we don’t move now, they’ll get the kids, too.”

“Fuck. Fine.”

She nodded and swung herself out the window, landing with a soft thump in the sloped lawn.

Stiles flinched when the door splintered behind him, finally giving in, but he didn’t look back. He climbed out and slammed the window, ducking when he heard a shot; the glass shattered behind him. He followed Cora and Scott to the van, which was being guarded by Erica and Derek.

“Where’s Laura?” Stiles asked, hesitating.

“Right behind you!” she called. “Get in! Marisol, they might follow us, so—be fast.” She pushed Cora and Stiles into the van and yanked the doors shut behind them. “Fuck, that sucked. Move, Mar!” she yelled.

“I’m going!” she snapped, and floored it.

Stiles shook his head, pressing the heel of his hand to his temple. There were six kids on the floor of the van, huddled together and crying.

Scott sat down on the floor with them, hunkering down so he was level with the oldest girl. “My name is Scott,” he said softly. “We all work for the Pack. Do you know what that is?” he asked carefully.

She nodded. “Mom and Dad said we should trust you when you came for us. But they said they were coming with us.” Her chin wobbled. “They didn’t.”

“They wanted to,” Scott said very carefully. “But they wanted you to come with us even more than they wanted to come, so you did just what they wanted.”

Stiles sat next to the doors and looked at Erica over Scott’s head.

She nodded, pressing her lips together.

“We’re being followed,” Marisol called back. “Don’t panic, but also maybe brace yourselves!”

“What are your names?” Scott asked in a way that indicated he’d introduced everyone on the team already when Stiles wasn’t listening.

“I’m Ellie, that’s Travis, Paul, Anna and William are the twins, and the baby is Chloe.” Ellie looked at her siblings and visibly pulled herself together. “Where are we going?” she asked, turning to Scott.

“Right now, we’re going back to our bunker,” Scott said carefully. They’d learned not to say “somewhere safe” pretty quickly, as the media and government were calling the camps they were dragging the supernaturals to “safe towns” and it had an obviously negative effect on scared children. “But it might take a while to get there, because someone’s following us, and we can’t let them know where it is.”

Travis tightened his hand around Ellie’s. “Right now?” he asked.

Scott nodded. “Yes. We have food there, and beds, so you can sleep.”

“But where are we going after that?” Ellie pressed. “You said right now.”

“Your parents wanted us to take you to your alpha in Washington after you got some rest, so that’s probably what we’re going to do.”

“Without our parents?”

Scott hesitated, drawing back a bit. “Yes,” he said finally. “We have to get you safe before we can try to rescue them.”

Stiles leaned back while Scott talked to the kids. He wasn’t very good with them, so he tended to be a hindrance whenever it came to talking to them when they were scared.

Cora climbed over to the opposite end of the van so she could help Laura and Marisol navigate, mumbling an apology when she stepped on Erica’s foot.

“Hey, Erica, cover the kids,” Laura called over her shoulder; the van swerved violently to the left, making her swear.

“We aren’t cold!” Ellie protested.

“Good,” Erica said, reaching under her seat. “Because this isn’t to keep you warm.”

“What is it?” she asked, putting her arm around the toddler—Chloe?—to keep her from falling over.

“It’s called a ballistic blanket,” Scott explained. “It’ll protect you if someone shoots at us.”

“What about you?” William asked, knuckling tears out of his eyes.

“That’s why we have these vests. Let Erica cover you and I’ll answer all your questions.”

Derek nudged Stiles’s arm and handed him a bottle of water.

“Thanks.” He twisted the cap but forgot to drink until Derek nudged him again. He rolled the bottle between his hands when he was done. “We still being followed?” As he asked, the van jerked around a corner, then another one in the opposite direction. “Never mind.”

“Don’t talk to me,” Marisol grunted.

“He’s not.” Laura shoved Cora back into her seat when she got up. “No one’s talking to you.”

“We have protein bars,” Derek said, leaning over Scott’s shoulder. “Are you hungry?”

Ellie looked at her siblings. “No.”

Paul, the boy who’d been crying and who Stiles had carried, suddenly got up and crawled into Stiles’s lap. He froze, looking at Scott for help.

“Paul, come over here,” Ellie ordered. “Come by Travis and Anna.”

Paul curled up in Stiles’s lap, covering his face and shaking with sobs.

“It’s alright. Isn’t it, Stiles?” Scott asked pointedly.

“Uh, yeah, it’s…fine.” He dropped his hand gently on Paul’s back and patted awkwardly.

Scott tried very hard not to roll his eyes and only mostly succeeded.

“You, um, are you okay…Paul?” It was weird to address the kid by Paul; that seemed like such a grown-up name, and the tiny sniffling ball in his lap seemed too small to carry its weight.

“No!” He uncurled enough to throw his arms around his neck and sob unreservedly into his shoulder.

He looked at Erica, panicked, but she just held her hands up and shook her head.

Derek reached out and set his hand on Paul’s back, right above Stiles’s, rubbing small circles between his shoulders.

Since it seemed to be working—the sobs were quieting and he was relaxing little by little—Stiles kept still and quiet, lest he start him up again.

Scott was still answering Ellie’s questions long after the younger kids had drifted off into uneasy sleep. Most were just rephrased versions of the same five questions, namely if her and her siblings would be separated.

Stiles passed Paul down to Scott, who put him with his siblings under the ballistic blanket.

“You’re so awkward with kids,” Derek whispered, leaning his head against his shoulder. “How?”

“I don’t know what to do when they’re upset,” he whispered back. He put his arm around Derek’s shoulders. They were both trying not to think of what would become of the kids’ parents, about how things would’ve gone if they’d gotten there just an hour sooner. They’d learned quickly that just slowed them down, weighed them with guilt. Stiles put his head back and squeezed Derek’s shoulders, closing his eyes.

The garage was quiet when they arrived, as per usual recently. So many scared supernaturals had been brought in and back out that the usual productive racket of the garage had had to be cut back. All that noise and movement in a strange place with strange people had been understandably overwhelming to already scared supernaturals.

“Are you guys going to stay with us?” Ellie asked. She was holding the twins’ hands and Travis had Chloe hitched up on his hip. They all looked exhausted and scared.

Cora said, “Yes,” a little helplessly, and so the team trooped in with the kids.

The group—including Marisol, who William had gotten attached to for some reason—made their way to the cafeteria so the kids could be fed. On the way, Laura slipped off to check in with Talia or Ian.

Derek carried Paul, who didn’t want to go further than a couple feet from Stiles. He wasn’t sure why the child had gotten attached, especially since he truly hadn’t been all that comforting, but he would try, he guessed.

“I don’t like noodles,” Anna said firmly once she was sat at a table and given a tray. She pushed her tray away.

“We have chicken nuggets, too,” Scott said. “Do you want those?”

“No!” She crossed her arms and turned her face away; Chloe and William instantly followed her lead.

Paul had only just let go of Stiles’s shirt and Derek’s neck, allowing himself to be settled on the bench beside Travis. Hearing Anna’s raised voice made his eyes tear up again.

“Anna, eat the chicken nuggets,” Ellie said severely. “Paul, stop crying, it’s okay. Eat your dinner.”

Don’t throw your food, Chloe,” Travis said, taking his cues from Ellie.

Chloe smiled innocently and stuffed a handful of noodles in her mouth.

Stiles put his hands in his pockets, grimacing. He wanted nothing more than to slip away, but he wasn’t really supposed to leave yet.

Derek put an arm around his waist. “You want to eat, too?” he asked, running his nose along Stiles’s jaw.

“Not particularly. But you should, if you’re hungry.”

He shook his head.

The group was shuffled off to a free room once the kids were finished eating so they could sleep for a few hours. Cora volunteered to stay with them and everyone else was all too happy to take her up on it.

“I’m going to see if anyone needs anything,” Stiles said once they’d scattered.

“You should sleep,” Derek said lightly.

“Yeah, well, that’s not going to happen. Might as well be useful,” he muttered.

“We just pulled six kids out of the OWH’s maw. I think that’s pretty fucking useful,” Erica said.

“You’re so dramatic; OWH’s maw, what the fuck.” Stiles shook his head. “You won’t have any trouble sleeping, then.” He turned left out of the hall, heading toward the sign out desk.

Scott and Derek accompanied him, no doubt giving each other looks behind Stiles’s back. He was used to Derek doing stuff like that—he’d been hovering around Scott, Cora, and Stiles their entire lives, why stop now?—but having Scott participate was new. And annoying.

“Don’t you want to see your dad first?” Scott asked.

“He’s probably out already.” Stiles rolled his shoulders restlessly. “He’s always the first one out, so why wouldn’t he be today?”

“Yeah, I know. Mom’s right there with him. I wish she’d listen when Talia tells her she’s more help in the infirmary,” Scott sighed.

Stiles snorted. “We all just want to help. We know it sucks.”

“Yeah.” Scott shrugged and smiled tightly.

Even Derek got that resigned look sometimes, the one that made Stiles want to fight harder. The look that just accepted this whole shitty situation as life, as how things just were.

“I’m sorry,” Stiles said, frustrated and dragging his hands through his hair. “I wish I could—make it safe.”

Derek put his arm around his waist again and started kissing his neck, all slow and deliberate, until he relaxed.

Scott and Derek split off to the left when they got to the desk; Stiles went to the right. There was a stack of lists beside the sign out sheet, with names written at the top and cash taped to the bottom.

Isaac was perusing the lists when Stiles got there. “Hey,” he said with some surprise. “When did you get back?”

“Two hours ago.”

“Ah.” He didn’t ask how it’d gone. “I’m going to get Toya’s stuff in a minute.” He waved the list he’d picked up.

Stiles flipped through and found one he could handle. “Do you mind if I join you for Mr. Koh’s?”

Isaac smiled, relieved. “Yeah. Thanks,” he added, and Stiles didn’t ask why.

Going out alone was, at best, stressful, even for human. It was dangerous for supernaturals like Toya and Mr. Koh, so anything they needed from outside was written on a list for volunteers to get.

“Aren’t you tired?” Isaac asked as they were leaving. “You must’ve been up all night again…”

“I’m fine.”

He didn’t look convinced. “You missed it. While you were gone, Talia went and dragged Peter out of his lab. He hasn’t been sleeping either and they got into a huge fight in the hallway about it and she carried him to her office.” He looked briefly amused, most likely at the memory of Talia throwing her adult brother over her shoulder and putting him down for a nap. “He only just emerged again this morning.”

“That’s…great.”

Isaac nodded. “Your dad went out almost an hour ago for Stacy.”

Stiles smiled at him faintly. “Thanks.”

He nodded again and let the silence settle.

Stiles watched the people around them as they walked. He wondered how many of them were hunters, how many were doing exactly what he and Isaac were doing, how many were carefully walking that line in the middle without admitting or realizing that not choosing a side planted one foot firmly with the OWH. He’d given up trying not to judge. Too many supernaturals were dead for him to worry about his karma.

“We should go around the residential area,” Isaac said.

Stiles followed when he veered left. “Why?”

He swallowed. “Well, Prime News was broadcasting some stuff near us. The OWH was trying to remove a family of vampires and like two hundred humans showed up, linked arms, and haven’t let them through. They can’t legally hurt humans—yet—so they’re pretty pissed.” He looked around. “Jordan went.”

Stiles stumbled over his own feet. “What? He’s not-” he cut himself off. “Why?”

“Dr. Deaton said it was because he couldn’t help himself. Vampire family in danger. I guess it’s instinct or something.” He shrugged. “They’re testing the human line with silver anyway, so he should be fine, since it doesn’t…since he doesn’t really react to that.”

“I guess.”

“Plus, if the humans here are protecting the supernaturals, then we can focus on the others further east that need help,” Isaac said thoughtfully.

You aren’t going anywhere,” Stiles said sharply. Lately Isaac had been hinting about maybe going on rescues with a team and it was starting to make Stiles nervous. It was bad enough that Scott, Cora, and Derek were in the thick of things with him, and that he couldn’t stop John from going on munitions runs.

“I meant the…group…at large.” He put his hands in his pockets and hunched his shoulders. “But I could be a driver or something, you know?”

“No, I don’t know that. You’d have to be able to lose people, and drive well enough that we don’t crash, concentrate on the road when we’re under fire, and—forget it.” He sighed, because Isaac looked hurt. “We need everyone trained in medicine in the infirmary. Who will stitch me up when I fall?” he tried to joke.

Isaac shot him a flat look. “I just want to help.”

“You are helping. This-” he gestured at the store they were approaching- “is helping. Our friends and neighbors can’t go out themselves, so what happens when people like me are…out?”

“I guess.” He shrugged again. “It just sucks, being stuck here, waiting, while you guys are all gone.”

“Well…” Stiles knew he shouldn’t, knew this would ultimately come back to bite his ass, but… “If you’re really worried, you can always go to the tech lab, find whoever is monitoring our mission, and see how it’s going.”

He brightened. “That’s true.”

 

Stiles got everything on Mr. Koh’s list as quickly as possible. Shopping was usually hard for him anyway—so many people moving and talking at once made it hard to stay on task, and he tended to end up with things he didn’t need rather than what he’d gone for—and directly after a mission was even worse. They all looked threatening to him. He kept to the list he had, only splitting off to grab some stuff for Scott and Derek, fruits and things that weren’t priority and therefore weren’t provided by the Pack’s resources.

“I just have to grab some stuff for Mr. Koh’s nieces,” he said once Isaac was finished. “You can go ahead and pay.” He almost bumped into someone while crossing the haircare aisle. “Sorry,” he mumbled, stepping back. He hesitated when he saw her face; there was something familiar about it, even half shadowed by the brim of a ball cap.

She sniffed and smirked, a fang peeking out from behind her upper lip. She held a finger to her mouth and slipped away.

Apparently insane werewolf fugitives did their shopping at Wal-Mart, too. Stiles shook himself and kept moving. He knew the Pack had extended its hand to Brielle Banner more than once—to her pack before they’d been murdered, too—but it’d been ignored every time. He guessed she was doing okay on her own.

Isaac was waiting by the registers, reluctant to go outside on his own. He’d already made his purchases, so when he saw Stiles in line, he waved and found a bench to wait on.

“Having a party?” the cashier asked with a quick smile. She flicked her gaze toward Isaac and all of his bags.

“Yeah, just grabbing some last minute things.” He bounced on his toes, trying to dispel some of his nervous energy.

By the time they left, even Isaac was jittery with nerves, swinging his backpack by the straps before putting it over his shoulders.

“So are you going out again later?” he asked, turning his head to track the progress of two fully uniformed hunters.

“Probably not,” Stiles grumbled. “If I do, everyone’ll have a fit.”

“And…nothing else, either?” When he only shot him a puzzled look, Isaac muttered, “Any other missions?”

“Oh.” Stiles brushed the back of his hand over his temple. “I’ll have to go up north with the Atwood kids, but they need some rest first.”

Isaac frowned. “Why do you have to go?”

“Because they know me. Marisol has to go, too.” He shrugged and pushed his sleeves up. It was nearing that time of year when the mornings were still cool but as the day went on it turned hot and he regretted his hoodie immensely. “You know how it goes.”

“I just wish I could go with.”

“I know.” He bumped his elbow against Isaac’s side, meeting his gaze significantly. “When I get back, we can find something for you to do.” He lifted his brows. “You’ll have Scott and Cora.”

“Yeah, but then I feel guilty because obviously they want to go out, too, so I-”

“So you what?” The man who’d been following them for a few blocks stepped in front of them. He was big but not particularly fit, wearing a blue and white OWH hat. He probably wasn’t a proper hunter, just a groupie.

“Excuse me?” Stiles asked. “Rude.” He made a point of stepping around the man, but he shot an arm out, blocking his path.

“You’re talking about hiding people,” the man said fiercely. “Well, I got a civic duty to turn people in who’re hiding supernaturals and you sure sound like you are.” He sneered. “So you and your brother are coming with me.”

“Is that so?” Stiles shook his head. “Listen, dude, we’re human, and you have no legal right to lay hands on us, and that’s the only way we’d go with you.” He jerked his chin at Isaac to start walking.

The man grabbed Isaac’s arm when he did, jerking him back; Stiles kneed him in the balls.

When he crumpled forward, Stiles said, “Don’t put hands on people,” and shoved him all the way to the sidewalk. “Come on, Isaac, let’s go get lunch.”

Isaac nodded and started walking again, grinning.

It took them another two hours to get home; Stiles didn’t think they’d been followed, especially not by that idiot, but he didn’t want to risk it if he had any buddies hanging around.

 

Stiles spotted John almost as soon as he was signed back in. He passed Mr. Koh’s bags off to Thomas and mumbled a thanks before squeezing through the crowd to throw himself at his father.

“Oh, hey, kid.” He ran his hand over the back of his head. “I thought I saw Scott sorting stuff but everyone’s so busy, I wasn’t sure.” He leaned back a little to get a look at Stiles’s face. “Everything go okay?”

“We got the kids out,” Stiles mumbled. He sighed when John pulled him back in for a tighter hug.

“And I take it you haven’t slept yet.”

He sighed again. “Nope.”

“You should try. Maybe I should go with Marisol to Washington instead.”

Stiles shook his head. “I’m going. I’ll take a nap right now.” He straightened up and rubbed his cheek with the hand holding his grocery bag. “I’ll be fine.”

“Alright.” John didn’t look convinced. “Don’t push yourself. The less sleep you get, the less you’ll be able to do your job. Don’t try to tough it out.”

“I won’t. I’m going to my room right now.”

“Good. See you when you get back.”

Stiles didn’t particularly want to nap, but he knew John was right; if he was tired, he wouldn’t be able to think rationally when he needed to. He made himself go to his room, even though halfway there he realized he was starving and all he had were the strawberries and blueberries he’d gotten for Scott and Derek, respectively. He could eat on the way to Washington, he guessed, rounding the corner to his hall.

That turned out not to matter, though; Derek was waiting outside his door with a thermos and a couple bowls. “You’re still shit at taking care of yourself,” he said, stepping aside so Stiles could unlock the door.

“There are too many other people to take care of right now,” he mumbled.

Derek scoffed. “And what happens when you make yourself sick? You’ll leave the rest of us hanging,” he said before he could even try to answer.

“Okay.” He didn’t feel like arguing. “What’s in the thermos?”

“Soup,” Derek said suspiciously. “Go sit down. Not on the bed.”

Stiles snorted and redirected to his table. “You’re weird about that,” he pointed out, bending to unlace his boot. “The no-eating-in-bed thing? That’s weird.”

“With you, it’s just common sense. You end up wearing fifty percent of whatever you’re trying to eat,” Derek teased. He set the bowls down and poured soup into each. “Cora said the Atwoods are still sleeping, so you probably have a few hours. Danny got in contact with Alpha Velasquez and he’s ready.”

Stiles sighed. “Good.” He didn’t have anything else to do, so he ate the soup.

It was becoming tradition, the two of them eating at Stiles’s tiny table after a mission, just the two of them. It was the only time they could be alone together, usually. They managed, and they worked better together in the field now, but sometimes Stiles wondered if they were still together because of the situation or because they wanted to be. He knew how he felt, but he was too emotionally exhausted to press Derek for a conversation about feelings.

“Come on. We can watch Star Wars while you nap,” Derek said, setting the bowls in the miniscule sink.

Stiles eyed his bed with distaste. He’d spent so much time tossing and turning in it lately that the idea of getting into it now was unsavory.

Derek poked into the bags he’d set on his desk. “Did you get blueberries?” he asked, lifting the package.

Stiles smiled. “Yeah, they’re for you. I’m gonna nap on the couch.”

Derek turned the movie on and the lights off while Stiles arranged himself on the couch, climbing on by his feet once he was done. He rubbed Stiles’s ankle briskly and popped open the blueberries. “Thank you.”

Stiles smiled into his pillow and closed his eyes. This wasn’t so bad.

 

Lydia administered drugs to the children before they left, which sounded way worse than it was. The serum she’d developed to make supernaturals immune to silver only seemed to work on young werewolves and born vampires, so they used it when transporting them. It tended to make the kids nauseated and lethargic, but that could be passed off as car sickness, thankfully.

Stiles and Marisol would be posing as the Atwood kids’ parents. They’d all learned that it made things easier if they pretended to be a nuclear family from the start; plenty of supernaturals were doing it, too, to blend in public while they could.

“IDs please,” the state trooper at the state line said. They were checking every car as they traveled out of state. “And please roll down both windows.”

They complied wordlessly. It wasn’t too suspicious; it was 3am, after all.

“Where’re you headed?” the trooper asked.

“Washington,” Marisol replied. “My sister is going to watch the kids for a bit.” She smiled nervously. “Until things…settle.”

“That’s probably wise,” he said in a neutral tone.

His partner came to Stiles’s window. “Can you hold out your hand, please, Mr….Atwood?”

Stiles put his hand out the window, palm up.

The trooper rolled a stamp over his palm, shining his flashlight on it to watch for a reaction. “Alright, now the kids,” he said when the skin didn’t turn red.

“They’re sleeping,” Marisol said sternly.

“Ma’am, it’s the law,” the first trooper said.

“It’ll be quicker just to let them check, Mar,” Stiles said, projecting weariness into his voice. They’d done this so often that he could do his lines in his sleep.

“Fine. Don’t wake them,” she added, her voice sour and snippy.

“Could you step out of the van and open the door for us, sir?”

“Sure.” Stiles unbuckled and got out, moving slowly and keeping his shoulders relaxed. It wouldn’t do to look tense. He rolled the back door of the minivan they were using open, exposing Ellie, Travis, and Paul in their seats and booster seats. “The other three are further back,” he said wearily. “I can probably wake them up,” he said in a low voice, darting a quick, furtive glance at Marisol.

The trooper waved him off. “These three are fine, sir.” He slid a smirk toward Marisol. “It’s always the wives, you know.”

“Officer Mark,” the older trooper snapped.

He shrugged and rolled the stamp over Ellie’s arm first, then Travis and Paul’s. He respectfully kept the flashlight lowered at least, watching for any sign of reaction while his partner filled out the paperwork for them.

“Alright,” he said at last. “Thank you for your cooperating sir, ma’am.”

“Have a good night,” the other one said, ripping off their ticket. “Just keep that in your dash so it’s visible.”

“Thanks,” Marisol said, handing the green ticket to Stiles.

The papers declared “proof of humanity” to the state they were passing through. They changed the color of the papers daily so it was impossible to fabricate them correctly; they also put expiration dates in large black print across the top, so they couldn’t be reused at a later date.

“I hate them,” Stiles said under his breath once they were on the road again.

“We all do,” Marisol grumbled. “It’s always the wives,” she mocked in a falsetto that didn’t sound at all like the trooper. “You know why that is, fuckface?” she snarled viciously. “Because we knew we could use your misogyny to slip past you.”

“Shhh,” Stiles snickered as her voice rose. “You’ll wake them up.” He wiped his palm against his knee and grimaced when it left a silver streak on his jeans; it was just silver dust and some sort of gel the state was using to make the stamps for testing, but it was still annoying; it was all over everything, so he had to wash his clothes in the shower before he could take it to the laundry room so it didn't get on anyone else’s clothes.

“We should be back home by tomorrow night,” Marisol said. “Just one more day.”

Stiles snorted. “Yeah, and after a night’s sleep, we’ll be going right back out again.”

She shrugged. “That’s how it goes,” she agreed.

 

Stiles fell into his bed face first without bothering to turn on any lights or remove his shoes; a muffled grunt of surprise followed his flop, the bed shifting under him.

Derek rolled over. “Mm, you’re back early,” he murmured, dropping his hand on Stiles’s hip.

“Yeah. Drove fast.” His eyes slid shut when Derek’s mouth touched his. They kissed languidly, hands sliding over each other, unhurried and gentle. “Why’re you in my bed?” he mumbled as the thought occurred to him.

Derek pulled Stiles’s shirt over his head and tossed it away. “You gave me a key,” he reminded him, pressing their mouths together again. “I knew you’d be back today…” he trailed open-mouthed kisses down his neck.

“Uh-huh…?” Stiles let his head lull back, letting himself enjoy the sensation. He smiled when Derek’s hands slid down his sides, dipping just under the waistband of his jeans.

“Figured I’d wait here,” he murmured against his throat. He grabbed the back of Stiles’s leg and hitched it up over his hip. “Are you still wearing your shoes?” he wondered. He ran his hand down his calf to his ankle, where his boot started.

“I was tired. Keep kissing me.” He pulled him back, pressing their mouths together, but he kept fumbling with the laces of his boots, so Stiles fell back. “Go ahead,” he said, snorting.

Derek sat up and pulled Stiles’s leg into his lap so he could take his shoes off. “You’re as bad as Laura.” He dropped the boots to the floor with a thump. He slid his hands up to Stiles’s thighs, hooking his thumbs under the waistband of his jeans. “Want these off, too?”

“You’re in my bed. Of course I want my pants off.”

Derek rolled his eyes and yanked the jeans down, making him laugh breathlessly. “Don’t move,” he advised, tossing them over his shoulder. He pressed a quick, nipping kiss to the inside of Stiles’s thigh, making his way up to his hip and closing his teeth around the edge of his boxers and tugging. “Just lay back and relax, okay?”

“Why?” Stiles asked. He stretched out anyway, putting his hands behind his head.

Derek didn’t say anything; he just peeled Stiles’s boxers over his hips, down his thighs. “Missed you,” he said, rubbing his cheek against Stiles’s leg. “I think we should stay in bed all day, unless there’s an emergency.”

“Yeah,” he breathed. “That’s a good idea.” He pressed his head back against the pillow, flexing his hands on the sheets when Derek kissed his hips. “Would you get on with it?”

“Impatient,” Derek admonished. “Just relax.” He pressed his thumbs into Stiles’s thighs and leaned over him, smiling wickedly before closing his mouth around him.

 

Later in the evening, Talia called for all active teams to meet in the gym, since all classes had ended by five. Stiles, Derek, Scott, and Cora got there at the same time, meeting with Laura and Erica in the hallway before going in and trying to find a place to stand in the back.

Jessa waved and pushed her brother until there was space for them by the wall, smiling awkwardly.

Talia called everyone’s attention to her. “Thanks for coming,” she said. “Our head of tech, Danny Mahealani, has some important information to share with us.”

Danny smiled charmingly when all the attention turned to him. “I’m sure everyone remembers Miss Anderson going to the Idaho OWH facility to plant some bugs for us, and while the information up until now has been helpful, it hasn’t been beneficial enough to try to do the same thing at other facilities. Until this morning…Well, I received some information…” He shook his head. “Basically I heard them talking, did some digging, and found the location of some of the werewolf “safe towns”. I’m not sure where they’re keeping the vampires,” he said when Jessa started to speak. “Or the kitsune. I’m sorry. I’m going to keep looking.”

“This means we can start getting people out,” Talia said. “We can start sabotaging these camps, we can get video of what they’re doing and release it to the public.”

Stiles felt Scott go tense next to him—he truly knew Stiles too well—but that didn’t stop him from stepping forward. “When do we start?”

Talia’s face twitched with a quickly concealed grimace. “We’ll start making a plan immediately. Most teams will still be doing rescue,” she said cautiously. “We’d need humans to help us infiltrate these camps. We will have to do this carefully, so we don't expose ourselves.”

“Okay.” Stiles eased back; he could feel Scott glaring at him, but there wasn’t anything he could say. He wanted to help, and this was something he could do.

“We’ll share this news with the rest of the Pack shortly. We just wanted to let you all know first. Thank you.”

Stiles wondered how long it would be until someone suggested they just storm the place.