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Stiles' lemonade

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Stiles had a bad day. Correction, Stiles had a bad month. Actually, come to think of it, Stiles have had a couple of bad years. It's all started with Scott being bitten by a rogue alpha. Then figuring the werewolf thing, cos, best friends forever and all that shit. And then Scott leaving him behind in the dust, cos he's an alpha now (guess who killed the alpha who bit him - hint, it wasn't Scott), he's popular now, he's a lacrosse star now, has a hot girlfriend now, has other wolfy friends now, and have been ditching Stiles for them for God knows how long. Because reasons. Reasons like sex, wolfy training, pack bonding, and shit. He doesn't ditch Stiles when his grades tank, or when he needs an extra study session, or he needs a shoulder to cry on when his girlfriend "is being unreasonable". But the moment everything is hunky-dory again, Stiles is ditched again. Well, not entirely. The members of the McCall pack hang out with him once in a while. Once a month he gets invited to coffee or to the movies, or to the mall, or to gaming session with different pack members. Like they all have a calendar in their homes with a date crossed in red with a caption "Hanging out with the pack human". The thing is Stiles is not stupid. He knows they spend together if not every evening, at least every other evening, and he's not included. Cos reasons. Reasons like him - being human, or him - being fragile, or him - being a nuisance, or him - being... him - being him.

And then the soul marks appeared, and everybody in the pack turns out to be paired up with their soul mate (except for Stiles, naturally), and they have even less time for Stiles, cos reasons. Like soul mate romance/love/bonding reasons. Stiles is ninety-nine point nine percent sure that all this time Deaton is reminding everybody that Stiles exists, and the humans pack members supposed to be stabilizing the packs. Besides, if anybody is the pack human, it's Melissa who is far more integrated in pack life than Stiles.

Why they still keep him around is beyond him. Or was. Cos he knows why now.

In retrospect, it was brilliant planning. Who's planning exactly is still unclear, but most likely Deaton's. Keep one human (Melissa) being actually pack, and keep a second human (Stiles) on the fringes of the pack, so when the Hales inevitably come back to claim their ancestral territory, you have an extra human to cement an alliance and secure the territory sharing. It's brilliant. It's worth repeating and Stiles is in awe with this kind of strategic planning. Stiles is good in strategy, but not this level of good. Yet. He's been outmaneuvered on a level he only can dream reaching.

So, yeah, someone played him. He was a pawn on someone's chess board, where Scott was the king and Allison the queen. And pawns are to be sacrificed. But pawns on the chest board don't hold grudges. Stiles can hold a grudge, in fact, he's the grudge-holding master. Someday, someone will pay for this. Stiles just has to find out who exactly.

So, the Hale pack came back to Beacon Hills. And they proposed alliance to the McCall pack. And they proposed to cement this alliance by exchanging pack humans. Tailor Hale will become a human pack member of the McCall pack, and a human from the McCall pack will become a member of the Hale pack. And then Deaton, Scott and Noah ambushed Stiles, and told him that he's going to switch packs. It's all for the best of the town, they say. It's all for the best of the Pack, they say. And who knows, he might like it better in the Hale pack, they say. Stiles stormed off, drove to the Overlook and ball his eyes out.

The thing is, he had researched the shit out of the Hale pack. Born wolves, can trace their heritage seventeen generations back. Royalty. And he met them in town, and they all act like it. They act like everybody are beneath them, with barely hidden contempt, but Stiles is good in sensing those things. He know who the members of the pack are, he knows how they treat non-family humans. This wouldn't have been such a problem, it wouldn't have been much different than the way things are currently with the McCall pack, if it wasn't for the fact that Stiles has to put all his future plans on hold. For the good of the town. For the good of the Pack. For Scott, who remembers Stiles exist when Deaton reminds him. For his Dad, who has a better father-son relationship with Jordan Parish and Scott McCall than with his own son, and probably secretly wished Stiles wasn't his kid at all, or that he died instead of Claudia in the first place.

Stiles goes back home, goes into his room, pulls out all his college acceptance letters - Berkley, Stanford, NYU, Cornell - and stares at them. He has to live with his new pack for at least three years before he's allowed to leave Beacon Hills and go to college. And he's expected to come back when college is over. He's expected to stay local, find a proper wife. Or else his Alpha will find one for him. And then he's expected to raze the next generation of high and mighty Hale pack.

Soul mark? What soul mark? Soul mates take second place to the Hale name.

"Life isn't fair, sweetheart" his mother used to say "It'll kick you in the teeth, grind you in the dirt and dump a bucket of shit on your head for good measure. That's life for you. You need to be strong and make you own way in life, baby. You know the saying - when Life serves you lemons, make yourself some lemonade".

He misses his mom. The only person who loved him unconditionally, before... Before.

Lemonade, huh? Well, Stiles can make lemonade. He can roll with that. That is what you do with punches you can avoid, you roll with them.

One thing Stiles has on his side is his smarts. He's a certified genius, and he had the good sense to not tell anyone about it. Actually, there is a second thing working for Stiles in this particular predicament - he's always being overlooked and underestimated. He can roll with this... If he manages to keep under the radar of one Alpha Talia Hale and one Left Hand Peter Hale. This is going to be a challenge. But he managed to keep under the radar of Kate and Gerard Argent when they blow in to town after the Alpha that bit Scott, up until the point he put them in jail for arson and murder. And the best thing? No one knows about it. Werewolf senses, tho... That would be tricky.

"We'll see" voiced Stiles in his empty room. In his empty house. In his empty life.

We'll see.

 

***

 

 

Something was up. From the moment Stiles set foot in the rebuild Hale house, his hackles rose. Heh, hackles. But the matter was - he was watched. By the entire Hale pack. The best he got were neutral, cold, intense stares. The worst? Laura, the future Alpha was watching him like he was something she scrape from the bottom of her shoe. Cora, the Alpha's second daughter was staring daggers at him, like she would want nothing but to rip his throat out. Derek, the Alpha's second son, just... the stare Derek was giving him was a mixture of anger, may be even hatred, and something unidentifiable. Why, Stiles couldn't fathom, may be they all were angry for loosing Tailor to the McCall pack? The Alpha stare was really intense, like she was seconds away from giving him the Bite without his consent. But Peter, the Left Hand, was the worst. It was a hungry, almost feral stare.

In that moment Stiles realized that he had severely underestimated the Hales. They knew something, they knew either part of what he had done, or the entirety of it. Or... they could smell the wolfsbane laced mace in his pocket. Because Stiles came prepared. He wasn't a boy scout, never have been, but nowadays he was prepared for every eventuality.

And the presence of his father on his left, and his Alpha/best friend on his right didn't feel like comfort. It felt like an escort - as in "escorting the prisoner".

The official part went without a hitch. The two Alphas introduced the two human members that were about to be exchanged. Then the ceremony of cutting pack bonds commenced, and despite Stiles felt nothing, Tailor seemed to be deeply affected by it. Stiles wondered - if he had felt nothing at all, had he ever been part of the McCall pack? Then the two Alphas, one after the other, came forward and accepted the new pack members. Again, Tailor looked... like he felt something? Like it was a relief for him, even if he hadn't forged any new pack bonds right away, they were waiting for him in the future... and that was a comfort for him? Stiles felt detached from the entire scene, like everything was happening to someone else. He accepted Alpha Hale as his new Alpha. It wasn't a lie - no one could call him on it - since for all intends and purposes, in his mind, his interactions with Talia Hale wouldn't be any different than his interactions with Scott for the last... He couldn't even remember how long.

And then the official part was over, the two packs began to mingle, and Scott was replaced with Boyd as a guard at Stiles' right shoulder.

And then Peter Hale happened.

"You must be Stiles."

It felt like a bolt of lightning - your soul mate speaking the words tattooed on your bicep. Noah recoiled next to him, like he was struck. The Sheriff knew Stile's words, although he didn't think anyone else in the pack had seen them. Stiles just stood frozen - brain rebooting. It took... wasn't even a second, wasn't even a blink. The tsunami of emotions hit Stiles full front, and Stiles lost it.

"HELL NO!!!" he yelled and his Spark detonated. Some distant part of Stiles' brain cackled in glee - he might be a one-trick-pony, but this trick he mastered beyond perfection - while the rest of his mind was screaming "nononothiscantbehappening". Peter Hale and Boyd were thrown away and hitting the opposite walls by the force with witch the mountain ash, previously sealed in zip-bags and hidden all over Stiles' clothes, exploded outward forming contamination circles around every were and non-were alike in Stiles' line of sight. Approximately three quarters of both packs were contained, and Stiles dove for the door before anyone could react. Someone, however, was quicker then the others and grabbed him by the sleeve - with clawed hand - and Laura Hale got a wolfsbane laced mace in her face for her efforts.

Stiles was out of the room, out of the house, in his jeep and driving away with alarming speed in a matter of seconds.

 

***

 

Talia Hale drove a palm over her face and looked over the ball room in ruins. At least twenty mountain ash circles were encasing supernatural and non-supernatural alike, her daughter was writing on the floor, black goo oozing from her mouth, nose, eyes and ears, her brother was embedded in the wall, like a some bizarre hunting trophy, broken limbs and unconscious... one of the McCall betas... Boyd?... was laying on the floor by the windows, obviously concussed. At least he wasn't thrown out of the house trough the glass, however, it looked like this was just sheer luck. Her eyes met Noah Stilinski's wide ones.

"Well" she sighed. "This could have gone better. Alan, if you please?"

Alan Deaton, still shocked, just waved his hand and all mountain ash circles broke.

Cora and Derek hurried to Lora, and Talia's husband Alan and her sister, Julia, went to Peter. The McCall pack seems to be still in shock, since no one moved, but the Sheriff was looking wide-eyed at Peter now.

"He..." Noah started, but the words failed him.

Talia grunted exasperatedly.

"Yes, Peter is your son's soul mate".

Noah gaped at her. So did the entire McCall pack. Time for damage control.

"Malia, dear, go after Stiles. He needs someone neutral right now. Someone who he hadn't researched and don't have per-conceived notions about".

A girl Stiles' age run from the room.

The red-headed banshee... Lydia?... opened her mouth.

"On the behalf of the McCall pack, I would like to apologize formally for the behavior of our former pack member" she managed some sort of decorum at least, but the emphasis she put on the word "former" was the last straw. Talia snarled at her.

"No. I don't accept your apology. How about you apologize for completely ruining my brother's mating?" she asked coldly.

"What?" that was Scott McCall, but Talia wasn't done.

"How about apologizing for inducing my brother's mate PTSD, gone unattended, I might add" she stared daggers at the Sheriff "up to the point where he's suffering from hypervigelence on top of the PTSD, caries mountain ash and wolfsbane everywhere, even to pack alliance meetings, and completely mistrusts everything pack-related? Feel like apologizing for any of that?"

"What?" it was Noah's turn to be shocked by his son's apparent mental state.

Talia sighed. Being angry won't solve anything. She looked at the Sheriff.

"We owe Stiles a debt. Several, actually. He took care of the Alpha that had bitten Scott, Isaac, Erika and Boyd for us. That was our responsibility."

"No, he didn't" Allison Argent interjected. "That was hunters"

Talia turned to her with a condescending smile.

"Hunters don't kill werewolves with a shot to the head with normal bullets, my dear. Besides, there were no hunters in the area at the time, your aunt and grandfather made sure of that."

Allison and Chris gaped, and Talia turned to Scott with the same condescending smile. She could stand this parody of a pack less and less.
"You should thank Stiles for your Alpha status, by the way. You inherited the Alphas' spark after Stiles disposed of the Alpha who bit you. You're no True Alpha, no matter what our former Emissary tells you. I can feel the difference. You don't have the True Alpha power level."

She turned to Noah again, living Scott dumbfounded.

"We are also in Stiles' debt for taking care of Kate and Gerard."

Two shouts of enraged "what" from the Argent corner echoed in the room.

Talia smiled wolfishly at the Sheriff, but addressed the Argents.

"Who do you think solved the arson case, planted the evidence necessary for the arrests and then dug up the slaughters of the McCanzie and Fernandez packs?"

Noah's face went for pale to ashen gray.

"Stiles is the one who met with Deucalion and made a deal with him: Erica, Boyd and living Beacon Hills alone in exchange for his sight. He's the one who tricked Jennifer Blake to heal him before Kali and Eniss disposed of her. Deucalion still feels he's indebted to your son, by the way."

Talia looked around the room.

"Even if he wasn't my brother's mate, Stiles is someone I, personally, as Alpha of the Hale pack, want by my side."

She addressed Noah again with a rhetorical question.

"Did you know that during this entire monsterfest he's kept 4.0 GPA, has IQ higher than ms. Martin over there, and have been accepted in the six most prestigious colleges in the country with full scholarships?"

She then turned to Deaton.

"Alan, I'm willing to let you stay on our territory in honor of our former friendship and good work. And the fact that you took care of Stiles up to the point he didn't completely loose his sanity. But we will have words about your work with the McCall pack."

Deaton just nodded, face void of emotions, as usual.

Talia looked at the McCall pack and then her eyes returned to Noah's, again addressing somebody else while looking into her future brother in law's fathers' eyes.

"Actually, Alpha McCall, I think you and your pack owe Stiles more than the Hale pack does."

The Sheriff just stared at her. Talia Hale turned to her brother who was conscious again and almost healed.

"Go find your mate, when you're completely healed" and she left the room full of speechless people.

Chapter Text

Peter Hale was beyond livid. They had broken him! The fucking McCall pack had broken his Stiles! If any member of the McCall pack dared to approach him, he would have ripped them to shreds. Even his father in law. May be especially his father in law. Fortunately, when Noah Stilinski tried to approach him, Tailor intercepted him in a hurry and ushered him away, while Julia, Talia's husband Alan and Derek politely but firmly invited the McCall pack to leave and not to try and track down Stiles.

Stiles. His mate. His mate was magnificent. Peter was in complete awe of the boy. No, not the boy, Stiles hadn't been a boy for a long time now. The man. The young, beautiful, talented, cunning, powerful, ingenious man.

Peter Hale had known Stiles was his mate since he met the ten years old boy in the grocery store. Wolves don't need soul marks to recognize their mates. The somber quiet boy was alone, pushing a huge cart full with groceries, reading from the list longer than his arm what he needed to get and asking people to hand him something he couldn't reach by himself. Peter was tempted to introduce himself to the boy, but then he reconsidered. The boy was just that - a boy of ten years - and any contact between them would have only ended in disaster because of the age difference and Peter's wolf side. But he was curious so he followed the boy through the store, watched him go to the check-up line, pay with a credit card - probably his father's - and ordering a delivery for the groceries for the same afternoon. Then he exited the store and Peter gaze followed the child entering a police cruiser. It wasn't his father's, there was a woman behind the wheel. Peter wondered about that for a second, but then dismissed the thought. So that was his mate.

One day, Peter promised himself. One day, in eight years. Meanwhile, he was going to finish his master's degree and his Left Hand training, and do his job protecting his pack. There was a warm feeling in his chest that day. The feeling, the knowledge exactly who his mate was and where he could find him at any given time. He won't be watching his mate from a far, he would ask his pack to do it for him, because the temptation was too great. The wolf had wanted the boy now, this second, to mount, to bite, to claim, right this second, in the middle of the store, the boy was his, his, his, no one else's, his, no one was allowed to touch his mate, no one was allowed to even look at his mate... but Peter was not only the wolf. Peter was the human as well, and the human was on the driver's seat. So he left the grocery store, went home, told Talia about the boy, so she would keep an eye on Stiles for him, and went back to college.

And then the fire happened.

Contrary to popular believes there are ways for a were to broke a mountain ash barrier. Extremely dangerous, painful ways, ways to be used when everything else failed, last-resort-only ways, ways only a Left Hand would know about, their best kept, deepest secret. To do so a Left Hand must almost kill his wolf side, with wolfsbane, and fox glove, and cat's claw, and sage, and true ash, and mistletoe. If this isn't a suicide, what comes next most certainly is, because after the wolf is almost gone and the were becomes almost human, there are magic amulets to be used, magic that burns away the ash, but it burns away the human body as well. Chances of survival and recovery after the ritual are around ten percent, and the were has years of recovery in front of them.

Peter broke the mountain ash barrier, saved his Pack, and spend the next year in a coma, with severe burns and practically dead wolf inside him.

The severely weakened Hale Pack (almost feral Alpha, no Left Hand, Hale children - traumatized, Derek - guilt-ridden, depressed and suicidal) rallied around Peter. They close ranks and moved to Oregon to recuperate. There, Talia managed to coax Peter's wolf back to life, but it was a slow process, and when the wolf finally woke up, it was like the first change all over again. It took four years for the human and wolf side to learn to coexist in the same body at the same time, and another year for the human to take full control at all times.

The only thing that actually prevented Peter from giving up and passing away quietly in his sleep were the dreams of the whiskey-eyed boy with somber face and a buzz-cut. His mate. Talia wasn't exaggerating about the debts the Hale pack owed to Stiles Stilinski.

There were several near misses on that front, when Peter the wolf was in control and wanted nothing but to track down the boy and claim him, and even Talia's Alpha command wasn't enough to stop him. Peter had to be chained to his bed, which enraged his wolf even more. In a moment of lucidity human-Peter asked his sister to take the memories of his mate away, but Talia refused - seeing that the memories of the boy and the promise for a future with his mate by his side were the only things keeping Peter alive and relatively sane. So Peter locked the knowledge of his mate in the back of his mind and hid Stiles from his wolf as the best as he could.

The first change came when the news of Gerard and Kate arrests and subsequent trail made front page of every newspaper in the country. The Hale pack let out collective breaths of relief, altho Laura, Cora and especially Derek were more than disappointed they couldn't exact their revenge and retribution personally.

And then Deucalion dropped by for a visit. Seeing Deucalion - eyes healed and everything - was a shock. So was his newly acquired almost placid attitude. He wasn't a changed man, wasn't the man he was before Gerard ambushed him, but he was someone different than the man the Hale pack had known both pre- and post- Gerard. The Alpha pack was disbanded. The Alpha powers of the members were enough to sustain them without packs and going rogue for a while, long enough for every one of them to decide what they wanted to do from now on. The power may be even to sustain them without a pack forever. Deucalion certainly wasn't in a hurry to build another pack.

At the dinner table he told the Hale pack what had happened - the chase for Gerard and Kate just to find they were already taken care of, the rumors of alleged True Alpha and Deucalion wanting him for his pack. And then the story of Stiles came up. Peter almost lost control then and there, at the dinner table. How stupid, idiotic, crazy, insane one can be to simply walk up and knock on the door of the Alpha pack's den! When he gets his hands on his mate, he was going to chain him to the bed, and lock him in a bank vault! Then the rest of the story came up, and the astonished Hale pack listened with rapt attention about the cunning, underhanded, smart-mouth boy, who not only ran with wolves, but left them behind in the dust.

The facts of the matter were that there was another pack in Beacon Hills, their home territory, and that pack was close to claiming the land for their own if the Hales didn't do something about it.

Later Talia admitted she was still in contact with their former Emissary, and he was keeping an eye on Stiles on her request, and Alan Deaton was sending her regular reports. Something bothered Peter in those reports when he saw them. And then he went digging. What he managed to dig up threw him in a fit of such rage that it took Talia, Alan and Derek to subdue him until he calmed down.

Peter's first words after his episode were "Talia, I need you to find me a therapist in the know".

Talia nodded slowly, brows scrunched.

"Okay. I think I still have Derek's therapist contact information. What brought this up, and when do you think you'll be able to go see her?" she asked cautiously.

Peter huffed with exasperation and snapped at his Alpha.

"It's not for me, it's for Stiles!"

Derek's eyebrows shot up.

"Why your mate would need therapy?"

"Dear nephew of mine, how does survival's guild, alcoholic parent and child neglect sound to you?" Derek recoiled but that didn't deter Peter "How about cold-blooded murder at sixteen? Or falsifying evidence in order to put two psychopaths in jail, behind the back of a Sheriff father? Going against every moral principle installed in him for early age, just to keep his loved one safe speaks volumes. How does 'sociopathic tendencies left unchecked' sound to you?"

Derek went pale, Talia jaw clenched, and her husband gulped.

"I'm sure Dr. Moore would be able to recommend someone near Beacon Hills" Alan said.

Talia face went stony.

"We need to have Pack meeting tonight" she declared.

 ***

 

 The reason for the Pack meeting was obvious - the Hales' return to Beacon Hills. What was not obvious, however, was what they were supposed to do with the McCall pack.

"I vote we drive them out of town" Laura said, "Beacon Hills is Hale pack territory."

Peter sighed. His niece had the Alpha potential, she was born with it, and was nominated to be the next Hale Alpha, but she was only twenty-six years old and despite the college experiences, her mother's teaching and the growing up she had done, she hadn't had the chance to reach the level headedness needed to be a real Alpha. Despite all her good qualities - loyalty, strength of character, backbone of steel, putting the pack well-being first - Laura was still brash, unapologetic, a bit arrogant, and quick to anger. She still lacked the life experience to realize that reacting to a situation is the better choice than provoking one.

"I second that" Derek chimed in, followed by Cora's "me too".

No surprises there - where Laura led, Derek and Cora followed.

"You can't force four families to uproot their lives and just move. Beacon Hills has been their home town for at least couple generations, from what I gather" Tailor interjected, shaking his head at his siblings. At thirty one he had the level of maturity his wolf siblings lacked. May be it was his humanity, may be it was his age, but he understood far better the situation than younger Hale children.

"Agreed" came from Julia and her human mate Mathew.

Peter decided to throw his two cents in.

"And there is the matter of Stiles. Driving the McCall pack from Beacon Hills is the best way to alienate him and from what I found - to gain an outright enemy in him. Everything he had ever done is to make sure these people - his father, his friends - are safe. The rogue Alpha. Gerard and Kate. The Alpha pack. He's protecting them with everything he has. Let's ignore the fact he's my mate for a second. I'm the Left Hand of this Pack. I don't want to have to deal with enraged Stiles, because nothing short of outright killing him will be able stop him. From what I had found, what he had done so far is the tip of the iceberg of what he's capable of".

Laura growled.

"Like what? He's a human child for goodness sake! You're making him sound like Satan or something!"

Peter gave her a smile that was all teeth.

"Dear niece, there are four newly bitten wolves in Beacon Hills - one alpha and three betas, and no other wolves around. Who thought them control, do you think? Deaton?"

"But he's human!" Derek exploded.

"Yes, that he is" Peter's smile was smug now.

"But you said..."

"Derek" Peter interrupted him "the psychological trauma means that he'll stop at nothing to protect the people he cares about. Can't you see it? He's the McCall's Left Hand."

"Okay" the silent opposition - Alan - sighed, and razed hands in defeat. "Okay, we are sharing the territory with the McCall pack. But Peter, no offence to your mate, those wolves need guidance. Real wolf guidance. Research can get them only so far. Besides, the research this kid has done is most probably from fifty, or eighty, or a hundred years old books. Times had changed. What he teaches them is utterly outdated, and won't be resonating with them at all - those kids are teenagers!"

The table went silent. No one liked what this remark entailed. Someone had to leave the Hale Pack.

Turns out Alan was only half right. Stiles have thought them at the start... and then the members of the McCall pack proceeded teach themselves. All the wrong things.

 

 

***

 

The Hale pack rented four apartments in an apartment building downtown, while the Hale house had being rebuild.

It was the second week when Laura stormed in her parent's living room.

"This McCall pack is a joke!" she yelled. And then she whirled and pointed at Peter. "And you mate is a complete doormat".

Peter was on his feet, beta-shifted and snarling at his niece in a blink.

"Peter, settle down!" Talia ordered with her alpha voice, and then she turned to her daughter "Explain!"

Laura was fuming and pacing.

"Apparently Deaton has given this McCall moron some bullshit True Alpha diary from a hundred years ago, that is spewing all kind of nonsense like "wolves are superior to humans", "humans are weak and helpless", "True Alpha knows best", "True Alpha's instincts are always right", "True Alpha leads with his hearth", "True Alpha's word is law", and they are all buying it! And your Stiles doesn't even tries to argue, he just smells of hurt and that's all! He's just standing there and taking it! And the one time he tried to argue they shut him down because he doesn't know what it's like to be a wolf! Like they do! They apparently were a bunch of self-esteem deprived teenagers, who now have a God complex! And he's just... standing there and taking it!"

Laura turned to her mother.

"What's Deaton playing at, Mother? Why the Hell he had told McCall he's True Alpha? And he's deliberately sabotaging them. He's supposed to be their Emissary and he's creating a rift in the pack! He's creating a distance between Stiles and the rest of them! The Argent chick is a Hunter, that Lydia girl is a banshee, her mate is a hell-hound, and Stiles is nothing. Even the Sheriff is buying it!"

Talia's face darkened even more.

It was Peter who spoke.

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions".

"What's that suppose to mean?" asked Derek, entering the apartment, but apparently heard everything. Laura wasn't quiet in her tirade.

"It means that he apparently has some residual loyalty to us, and is keeping the McCall pack back so we can swoop in and save the day with our wisdom. On the True Alpha topic - a rumor about a True Alpha might keep some of the worst nasties away from Beacon Hills, while there is no functioning pack there to defend it" Peter explained his theory. "From his point of view it's a win-win situation. The McCall pack gets stronger because of the Hale pack guidance. Strong pack alliance. My mate throws himself into my arms, because he's feeling lonely and abandoned. And then, since we haven't picked an new Emissary, he can serve both packs. More power to him. Everybody winс".

Everyone fell silent contemplating this, then Peter spoke.

"What bothers me is Stiles not defending himself. This contradicts everything I found about him."

"Or" Laura interjected "he has turned into a doormat, so he won't be lonely and friendless or even worse, he's indulging himself with a pity-party".

This time Talia didn't stop Peter from clawing her daughter. Some things are sacred. Like mates for example.

 

 ***

From all his siblings Tailor Hale was closest to his middle sister Cora. Cora hero-worshipped him, and she was his little baby, since he was the one to baby-sit her and take care of her the most, the way Laura and Derek - when they were old enough - baby-sat and took care of the youngest Hale child, the ten-years-old Melanie. Tailor and Cora shared interests in the same movies, the same superhero commixes, the same books. She confided in him, and he confided in her, and they kept each other secrets.

Tailor knocked softly on Cora's doorframe.

"May I come in" he asked.

Cora was lying on the bed staring at the ceiling with red rimmed eyes.

"Sure" she answered without looking at him.

"What's up, munchkin, why are you sad?" Tailor knew why, but they needed to have this conversation, for everybody's sake.

Cora huffed.

"Why it has to be you? Why it has to be anybody at all?" Oh, his little sister was angry, and Tailor needed to soothe her anger, before she decided to direct it toward Stiles.

"You know it has to be me, Cora, human for human - that's the exchange" Tailor said levelly. "Uncle Mathew is mated, and Justin and Silvia are only seven years old. It has to be me."

"But it's not fair!" Cora exploded "Why do we have to go to such lengths to appease Uncle Peter's mate? Besides, from what Laura said, he's hardly worth it!"

Tailor sat down on the bed.

"Cora, look at me" he requested quietly, and when she did he gave her his pay-attention-to-what-I-say look.

"First of all, changing packs doesn't mean changing families. You'll always be my little devil, and nothing will change that."

Cora was listening at least, thank God for small mercies.

"Second" Tailor continued "if I don't meet my soul mate in two years I'll be going away on my Roaming Years anyway. And when I find them, there is no guarantee that I'll come back to the Pack. What if my mate is a were and we decide it would be better for me to join their pack, hum?"

Cora said nothing, but Tailor could see he was getting through to her.

"Third - you are not being fair to Uncle Peter. Mating is sacred. Finding the one person that will complete you, that will compliment you in every way, that is yours, and yours only, the one person that will have your back no matter what, that will support you and love you unconditionally, that will accept you with all you flaws. You have no idea how envious I am at Uncle Peter that had found his mate. You have no idea how much I'm longing to find mine. Trust me on this, when your words appear, you will understand."

"If they appear" Cora said sullenly.

"Don't worry about it, you're only seventeen. I was a late bloomer as well, mine appeared when I was nineteen. Besides, you are werewolf, you can find your soul mate before I do with that nose of yours" he tapped on her nose gently.

Cora laughed through unshed tears. She remembered that particular freak out well.

"Alright" she said finally "Alright. I'll be civil to him, just don't expect me to like him"

Tailor kissed her on the forehead and stood up, his job done. He turned at the door.

"Don't listen too much to Laura. Her temper clouds her judgement most days."

 ***

 "I don't get him at all" Derek opened with, entering his uncle's bedroom.

"Don't get who, dear nephew?" Peter rose an eyebrow.

"Your mate" Derek clarified "I don't get him at all." he repeated. "From everything you said he's strong, and cunning, and resourceful, and doesn't take anybody's shit. I don't get why he's acting like a pathetic looser who wont defend himself all the time"

"Misdirection" was Peter's automatic answer, then he frowned. "What brought this up?"

Derek sat on the desk chair and huffed agitatedly.

"I was doing the coffee run this morning and he was down the street. He, and his father and the McCall. Jesus, those pups have no idea what their senses are for! The McCall alpha didn't notice me there, a mere hundred feet away from him!" he threw his arms in exasperation.

"Bitten wolves with no one to train them" was Peter's succinct reply. "Go on" he encouraged his nephew.

"Well, the Sheriff had just came out of the beauty parlor with a new haircut, and Stiles remarked on it, and then the Sheriff said he had decided trying something new, and then Stiles said something witty and sarcastic, like 'Be glad you have hair at all, old man' but you could hear the affection in his voice... and then... and then..."

Derek jump up from the chair and started pacing.

"And then?" Peter prodded him with deceptively soft voice.

Derek whiled to him.

"And then the McCall said 'I think you look great' and the Sheriff answered 'Thank you, son I wish I had'! And his hearth didn't stutter! Like at all! The Sheriff didn't smell offended by Stiles' remark, didn't react negatively on it, like he is used to Stiles' sense of humor, but his hearth didn't skip! He honest to God wishes this McCall guy was his son! And Stiles caught up on it! His scent just... just drooped. He didn't smell like hurt, he didn't smell like anger, or jalousie, or disappointment. He smelled resigned! Like this is a regular thing, like this happens all the time!"

Derek was gesticulating wildly, angry on Stiles behalf. Peter's eye were glowing electric blue.

"Why, uncle Peter?!" Derek exclaimed. "Why wouldn't he call them on it?" he demanded.

Peter tried to contemplate this rationally instead of ripping someone's throat out.

"Why indeed" was all he said.

 ***

What Derek had said bothered Peter. Bothered him a lot, and he didn't like at all the conclusions he had come up with. He needed proof.

Breaking in to the Stilinskies home was beyond easy. No mountain ash barriers, no CCTV cams, not even a simple burglary alarm.

The first thing Peter did in his mate's room is to take a deep breath of his mate's scent. This enticing, magical aroma he couldn't put a name on but "mate" and "mine".

He just stood there in the middle of the room, breathing his mate in. May be he could get away with stealing his mate's pillow?

After the fog of want in his mind dissipated a little, Peter started to sort out the different scents, and particularly - the mood scents of his mate, faint and almost impossible to find. But Peter was a born wolf and a Left Hand to boot. He entered a sort of a meditative state, where he examined, discarded and blocked one faint trace of scent after the other, old and new.

There was agitation in the air - old. There was fear - old as well. There was sadness - different types - so many and so time-spread that even Peter's nose couldn't differentiate them, so he just discarded it all. There was guilt - layers and layers of guilt. There was bitterness - that was relatively new. There was resignation - new as well. There was contemplation. There was plotting - this was the most promising scent of all. There was... there wasn't any positive mood scent in this room.

Peter left the room and followed the smell of his mate's plotting around the house. The scent led him to the attic. This was clearly Stiles-only domain, the Sheriff scent was practically non-existent on the stairs leading to the upmost floor of the house.

Peter opened the door, and stopped at the threshold - stunned. And then he laughed out laud. There, on several white boards were pinned the photos of the entire extended Hale pack, even the mated away ones, even children, all 19 members. Different colors of strings connected different photos, and under each photo there were cramped small hand-written descriptions for every member.

His clever little mate had made a crime-board, no, not crime-board, crime-room for the Hales. And Peter was there - front and center, and there were descriptions like "most cunning", "most dangerous", "brilliant"... alongside with "avoid", "stay away from", "keep low profile", "try to mislead". This last bit Peter didn't like, he didn't like it at all. He decided to ignore it all and started the slow process of scent-differentiating.

There! In the corner! It was faint, but it was persistent, like something his mate felt for a while now. Hope.

Peter went to the conspicuous cardboard box, opened it, and among the old recipe books and notebooks he found it - a thick manila folder, full of papers.

Sorting through all of it would have taken hours, hours Peter didn't have, so he took out his smart phone and started photographing every single piece of paper in the folder. Then he put everything where he had found it, took a few photos of the crime-room for good measure and exited the house. Nobody saw him.

 ***

"What does this mean?" Talia asked, eyebrows scrunched in worry.

"This, dear sister, means that Stiles is planning to go to college and never to come back. Probably cut all ties with the pack, may be even his father." Peter was deceptively calm. "Look at all this. Test results. Copies of acceptance letters. Bank statements. College fund statements. Government loan information. Housing research. After-graduate job and employment research. Everything points out at him leaving Beacon Hills for good. That's why he's not reacting to the McCall pack insults or defending himself."

"So what does this mean in connection to everything?" Alan wasn't getting the point.

"My dear brother, this means that we, the Hale pack, is throwing a wrench in his plans. Look at this. This is copy of a page from a diary of the Drake Packs Alpha. Particularly, the Pack Laws and Werewolf customs. See the underlined paragraph? It states that every newly accepted pack human has to live with the Pack for three year before he's allowed to leave the Pack's territory."

Alan frowned.

"But this text is at least eighty years old! It's outdated, no one follows this custom anymore!"

It was Talia who got the point Peter was making.

"Stiles doesn't know that. He thinks we are going to keep him prisoner or like those hostage royalties medieval kingdoms exchanged to secure good behavior of their vassals. He doesn't know things are not like that anymore."

"And now imagine how he would react when he finds out he's my mate" Peter added. "I'm the Left Hand, I don't leave the territory except for business, and I won't be able to let him go away for college either. He's trapped in Beacon Hills forever. I knew my mate won't be happy with me the moment my words appeared, but, honestly, this is an entirely different level of unhappy." Peter show his brother in law his bicep, where the words "Hell, no!" were clearly visible.

Everybody fell silent. It was Talia who spoke in the end.

"So, this is what we're going to do. We are going to kick the McCall's pack in shape, we are going to try and repair Stiles' relationship with his father, and you, Peter, are going to woo the shit out the boy. Sweep him of his feet, shower him with gifts, confide in him, tell him your secrets. He's your soul mate, you are made for each other, he'll fall in love with you sooner or later. But no pressure and no claiming until he's head-over-hills for you. Otherwise, he'll run, and you won't be able to do anything but follow. I don't want this pack split up. Am I clear?"

"Crystal clear, sister dear" Peter answered Talia's Alpha command, and Alan chuckled at the pun.

***

 

The two packs hadn't officially cross paths as per custom until the day of the member's exchange ceremony. Peter thought it was funny that all the accidental meetings went unnoticed by the McCalls, but was almost certain that Stiles had noticed every single Hale pack member, who he had run across.

The days before of the Alliance signing were tense to put it mildly. The ceremony was suppose to happen in the newly finished Hale house, where the Hale pack had moved in the week before.

The children under twelve, however were supposed to stay in one of the rented apartments, under adult supervision, but the majority of the Hale pack was present.

Peter was frantic, decorating his rooms, the rooms he was going to live with his mate, and fretted over the smallest detail, doing everything himself - putting up the tiles in the bathroom, painting the walls, assembling the furniture, decorating.

And then Malia happened.

His daughter plopped the sheet-covered love-seat while watching her father paint.

"You know, it's good to have one of my parents being my own age" she commented nonchalantly.

Peter dropped the roller and just stared at her in horror. All his brain provided was a string of "shitshitshitshitshitshit". Malia wasn't in Stiles' crime-room. Stiles hadn't known Peter had a daughter. How the fuck he was supposed to explain Malia to his mate?!

Malia continued with her contemplation, oblivious of her father mental state.

"Not that you're super old or anything, but you have this overprotective streak a mile wide, and I can't talk with you about boys. Well I can, but you'll probably go and gut them afterwards. And it would be nice to have a parent who can relate, like, actually relate to my problems, not just remembering and reminiscing how things were when he was my age."

The fifteen-years age difference between him and Stiles, which Peter somehow had managed to overlook up to this point, hit him like a fright train. All he could add to the conversation was an eloquent "Fuck me sideways!"

Malia looked at him shrewdly.

"I'm going to call him 'Pops'. But don't expect me to call the Sheriff 'grandpa'" and she flounced out.

Then and there, the Left Hand of the Mighty Hale Pack, the most cunning wolf of the West Coast, probably the entire United States, had his first panic attack.

 

***

 

The day of the alliance signing finally came. Peter, barely controlling his wolf, watched his mate standing there, bold, and strong, and beautiful. All he wanted to do is howl to the wind "this man is mine".

He barely registered anything else, except his mate's honey-colored eyes, always moving, assessing, taking the measure of every pack mate, and cataloging it all for future use, and Peter couldn't be more proud of his devious, beautiful mate.

And then the official part was over, and he finally, finally was able to approach his mate.

And it was everything that he expected. He said his words, Stiles froze for a fraction of a second, yelled in his face the expected "Hell, no!" and then the World exploded and everything went black.

 

Chapter Text

Stiles was laying on the ground at the Overlook, staring at the clouded sky, completely exhausted from the panic attack that hit him full force as soon as he was out his jeep. He must have lost consciousness at some point, because he came back to his senses with the pounding headache. He managed to drag himself up the slope on shaky limbs and just collapsed when he reached the top. His mind was completely blank. Well, not completely, since at the moment he was wondering if he could get away with not going home and sleeping here, because he wasn't sure he could move. Like at all. He felt completely physically and emotionally drained. Clouds were pretty, tho. He always had liked clouds, and sometimes he wondered if he could turn into a bird, how it would feel to fly among them. Or around them... Not into them, cos he knew how would that probably feel - wet, clouds are vaporized water after all.

 

The bushes on his left rustled, and it wasn't only from the wind. Stiles jumped on his feet like he was electrocuted - not that exhausted after all - mace in hand, heart racing again. Not toward another panic attack, tho, Stiles has those when he feels safe, or at least not in immediate danger.

A small, brown grayish coyote slink out of the underbrush, head down and tail tucked between it's legs. Stiles relaxed minutely, and the coyote looked up inquisitively at him. He didn't relax, and the coyote didn't go on it's way - they just stared at each other. Then the coyote huffed exasperatedly and shifted. Into a naked girl. Stiles jaw dropped.

The girl waved, not moving any closer.

"Hay, Pops, how's it going?"

Stiles sputtered.

"You... you... you just... the... and the..." Stiles flailed wildly, trying to convey with his body everything he could not with his words, which were failing him at the moment.

The girl, Stiles' age, completely nude and unbothered by it, seems to get the jest of it.

"Yeah, I can do that. I can do the full shift thing. But since I'm half wolf and half coyote, I turn into a coyote. Apparently, that's my dominant gene. Dad was pissed when he found out" she shrugged.

"You're naked!" was the eloquent response from the short-circuited Stiles' brain.

The girl rolled her eyes.

"Well, duh! I was an animal just a second ago. Weres can't pull clothes out of their asses when they shift back to human, you know!"

In fact, Stiles didn't know. He also didn't know that weres can shift into full animal forms at all. He just stared at the... were-coyote?

The silence stretched to uncomfortable levels, and the girl's face fell a little. She shifted from foot to foot uncomfortably.

"Want me to shift back into Mercy? Will it be more comfortable for you? Being with a coyote instead of a human?"

Stiles brain was a jumbled mess of scattered thoughts, but one made out to his lips and he blurted it.

"Who's Mercy?"

The naked girl shrugged.

"My coyote form. I named her after my favorite character. I named all the wolves too. Everybody has a wolf name."

Stiles' brows scrunched. All this, this girl, this new knowledge, this entire info dump came totally from the left field, and had no idea what to do with it. On top of everything else. He needed at least three or four good, old-fashioned melt downs, before he could deal with everything that had happened today. He tried to focus on one thing at a time.

"But... but... aren't you the coyote? And vise versa? Aren't you one being or whatever?" then a thought occurred to him and he got out of his hoody and top-most plad shirt and throw them to the still naked girl with "Here, put this on".

The coyote girl rolled her eyes, but put both the shirt, which went down to ties and the hoody.

"May I come closer? You won't jump or peper-sprey me? I swear, I just want to talk for bit. You can tell me to take a hike at any point." she asked, then a thought occurred to her and she added "Altho, if you want me to call Mercy out it would be counterproductive, she's not a good conversationalist. But you can rant at her if you like. She won't judge. But you obviously need a distraction from everything going on right now, and I'm good at those. Wanna see my boobs again? No, wait, you're mated to a man, this means you're probably gay. Are you gay, or bi?"

Stiles was trying very hard to mull this over into something making at least a bit of sense. Forget about the babble, he was too scatter-brained right now to address it properly.

"Yeah, you can come closer" he said "but I'm not putting the pepper spray away. In case you feel like trying something."

The girl rolled her eyes, strode to him and plopped on the ground three feet away in front of him, leaving Stiles towering over her, mace in hand. Stiles cautiously put another foot of distance between them and lowered himself to the ground.

The girl just watched him curiously.

"You're not afraid at all" she commented "Your cautious , but not afraid".

Stiles laughed.

"After all the things I had to deal with, there isn't much that scares me anymore."

"Good" she nodded "I don't want you to be afraid of me. I need to warn you tho, Mercy won't give you much a scare, she's coyote, but wolves are bigger. A lot bigger. They can be scary, especially Bran and Azeel. And Leah - Leah's a bitch. We don't get along, like at all".

"Are those the names of the wolves of the Hale pack?" Stiles asked, then he frowned "Actually, are you Hale pack at all? I don't recognize you from... I don't recognize you".

The girl shrugged.

"Name's Malia Tate. Long story, but yeah, I'm Hale pack, but I'm not on the records. People aren't suppose to know about me - that's Dad being paranoid. He won't let me change my name to Hale, too scared someone would snatch me for leverage or something." she waved dismissively. "And yes, those are the names I've given the wolf forms of some of my pack members."

Stiles looked at her for a long time deciding which part of her statement to address first.

"Why?" he finally decided on, because this bit bothered him the most "Why different names for the wolf forms?"

Malia sighed, opened her mouth, then closed it, then waved a hand.

"It's complicated. One mind, one body, two spirits." she started "Human and wolf. But that just a part of it. It's not like a split personality, altho, wait it kind of is. There is only one mind, but it's influenced by the spirit. Beta shift is melding of spirits - wolf and human become one. But full shift - the spirit the form you're taking influences the mind. The other spirit is always there too, but, like, on the background? Don't get me wrong, the human part is always in control, but that's mind, not spirit. They... We... don't act that much different to be an entirely different personality, but the spirit exacerbated certain character trades we suppress when we are human, because of the society norms and expectation. Wolf-Cora is more playful and not all that caustic than human-Cora. Wolf-Derek is much more social and outright puppy-like than human-Derek."

She shrugged.

"I know it's weird. I know I'm not making any sense, and frankly, I'm not sure any wolf in the pack would have made more sense out of it. We are born this way, we have been this way our entire lives"

Stiles just looked at Malia, without really seeing her, turning her explanation in his head around and around, trying to grasp the concept and to understand at least a bit of it.

"There was nothing in the books I have read about this" Stiles said eventually.

The girl... Malia... just shrugged.

"Why it would be there on the first place? This is something that can't explain to a non-were" she wave it away. "Or probably there is, you just didn't see it. You read about anchors, and wolves - having troubles with their shift, but you can't relate. A born wolf will read that and would understand instantly what it means. You'll read it, and you'll understand instantly something completely different."

Stiles was listening to her with rapt attention.

"Take anchors for example." Malia continued. "What does 'anchor' mean to you?"

Stiles frowned.

"Something that keeps a werewolf from going feral. That grounds him, keeps him anchored to their humanity. Like a ship's anchor a stormy sea."

Malia grinned.

"Have you ever heard the saying "Give me a level and a place to stand and I will move the Earth?" she asked.

Stiles' frown deepened.

"What does Archimedes has to do with it?"

"You need a level, and you need an unmovable point to lay this level on so when you put a pressure on the opposite side of the level, the Earth would move. You need an anchor point. To shift the control where it's suppose to go."

Stiles' eyes bugged out.

"Oh my God!"

Malia grinned at him wider.

"Don't worry, if you ask someone else in the pack, you'll get a completely different explanation of what anchor is. But don't be confused by it, they all mean the same thing - shifting the control toward the human side. The wolf side is much more volatile and instinctual, it needs to be kept in check at all times otherwise there will be bloodbaths after every slightest unintentional offence. Wolves don't take shit from no one but their mate, and we live in the human world. But I don't have to tell you all that, you know it already."

Stiles gaped at her, still mulling over what Malia said.

"How old are you?" he asked.

"Seventeen" she shrugged.

"You don't sound seventeen" Stiles remarked.

Malia just tossed her hair.

"Most of the time, I don't sound human at all. I spent ten years being Mercy." Stiles jaw dropped and Malia cackled at the expression on his face "Get used to it - most of the pack still tries to polish my social skills. But I think that's why I'm better in articulating the wolfy stuff."

Stiles grinned at her. Then he sobered. He had postponed it far enough.

"Time to face the music" he told Malia.

"Oh, good! You pepper-spraying Laura was the highlight of my year so far! I can't wait to see what will happen next!" the girl cackled.

Stiles gave her a reproachful look.

"Not that music. At least - not yet" he told her. "I'm going home first. Need some feedback on my melt-down before I face your pack".

"Our pack" Malia corrected him sternly. "And I think you should go talk to the Alpha and your mate right away".

Stiles grimaced, but said nothing, just shook his head 'no'.

Malia tried to argue, but he shot her down quickly. He was going home first. He needed his Dad right now. No matter how distant they had become, his Dad was his Dad, no matter what.

Turns out, that was a mistake.

***

 

Stiles dropped Malia at the Hale house private road and drove to his house.

His Father's cruiser was parked in the driveway, as he expected, but Chris Argent's black SUV was parked on the sidewalk.

Stiles wasn't a fan of the Argents, but his father and Chris had struck a friendship, and he could not begrudge his old man having someone to talk to about the supernatural stuff beside Melissa - someone with actual knowledge, despite the bias of the Hunter viewpoint.

He parked his jeep next to his dad's car and walked into the house to be met with two cold furious stares.

Stiles started to reconsider the idea of coming home so soon.

"What's going on?" he asked cautiously, considering if he should take his shoes off and enter the living room, or leave them on for a quick getaway. He didn't like the look in his father's eyes, and when he glanced at Chris, liked the look there even less.

"What's going on," Noah opened with both barrels ",is evidently my son have been lying to me for over two years. Apparently I have raised a pathological liar and a career criminal"

The Sheriff's voice was full of venom in the way that happened when the whisky had had enter the equation.

Stiles blood ran cold.

"What's going on," Noah continued ",is that apparently you're incapable of telling me, or telling anyone, the truth, even after the lies were supposed to stop. You have killed a man, falsified police evidence, put people in jail by illegal means and went behind everybody's backs making deals with mass-murderers, and you are accessory to the murder of your English teacher!"

Stiles face went paler and paler with every word coming out his Father's mouth. They weren't suppose to find out. Everything was depending on no one ever finding out what Stiles had done.

But apparently, they did. How the fuck did they know? And how the fuck Stiles didn't see this coming!

"Nothing to say?" the Sheriff almost spat in his face. "Well, boy, I have plenty to say, starting with who the hell are you and what happened to the son I raised!"

 

Aaaaaand that was enough of that.

 

Stiles haven't planned on big blow out, he was just going to quietly move away, and gradually cut ties with everybody, but if they ... if his Father... preferred it this way, he could hardly object, couldn't he? He was going to keep it all in, because, no matter what, he loved his father, but no way he'd be keeping quiet anymore.

"The son," Stiles started with quiet, deceptively calm voice ",you are talking about lives on Fifty Two Seder Street, in the McCall house. That is the son you raised. You didn't raise me. I raised myself, while you lived in the bottom of a bottle for two and a half years."

Whatever the Sheriff was expecting to hear, it definitely wasn't that.

Stiles wasn't done. If his dad wanted to spew venom in his face, he would be dammed if he didn't spew some venom of his own right back.

"What was you said the other day, Dad? 'Thank you, son I wish I had'? Well, be my guest, you can have him, he's all yours. They both are all yours. You thought I didn't know where you spend your evenings, when you say you are on shift, but weren't? Watching football games with Perish? Having dinners at the McCall house, with the entire Pack, your son excluded? You want to talk about lies? Lets talk about all the lies."

The Sheriff face was turning red, but Stiles was in a roll now.

"How about 'Don't worry, Claudia, I'll take care of our boy'? Any thoughts?"

The Sheriff was close to doing something he had hardly ever done - strike his son.

"Don't bring your mother into this!" he yelled. "She would have been so ashamed if she could see you now!"

"And who's fault is that, Father of mine? Tell me, what's your definition of taking care? Leaving your eight year old son to wash you dirty sheets, cook your meals, clean your house, buy the groceries, pay your bills, mop up your drunken vomit? I wonder who Mom would be ashamed of more"

Noah Stilinski was struck speechless by the force of his son's words. That's when Chris decided to butt in.

"You put my father and my sister in jail on false evidence!" he hissed.

"Don't get into this, Argent, this is between me and my father. This is none of your business." Stiles hissed back.

"Oh, no, I'm definitely going to but in, boy." Chris' tone was mocking and derisive. "This is definitely my business."

Stiles won't be having any of that.

"Are you standing there, saying they are innocent? Dad, help me out here, is it pedophilia, zoophilia or necrophilia when one fucks a fifteen year's old werewolf with the intend of killing him and his entire family?"

Chris swung at Stiles, but Stiles expected it fully - he stepped back to let the fist past and landed a hit of his own - straight at Chris jaw. The Hunter went down, jump back up and stepped toward Stiles again, but Noah managed to grab him before more blows were exchanged.

"Are you siding with the monsters now, Stiles?" the Hunter spat.

Stiles smiled coldly at him.

"You were there when your father kicked the shit out of me, Christopher. You watched. Who's the grater monster, those who kick the crap out of human kids, because they are "dog-lovers", or those who never harmed a human?"

"What do you mean he was there when he father beat you? When did Gerard beat you?" asked Noah.

"Ask your pall there for the details later, Daddy-o, I'm talking to Chris now." Stiles smiled viciously. "Tell me, Argent, who from the Hale pack broke the code? Or from Fernandez pack? Or McKenzie pack? And while we are on the subject of the Code, let me burst your bubble. There is a very high probability that you also have innocent blood on your hands. How many hunts you went on with your Daddy Dearest and your sister on their word only, and had you bothered to check if their information about the code-breakings was accurate, huh? Or are you gonna hide behind the "I didn't know" thing again? Even if you somehow missed what Kate was doing, no one can miss Gerard. You, being in that basement proves to me that you either chose to turn a blind eye to their doings, or you are a complete idiot. Oh, there's a third option - you share their views but are more clever hiding it."

Chris was red in the face now, sputtering incoherent sounds.

Stiles, however, wasn't done.

"Yeah, that's probably it, seeing you did nothing when the Alpha pack showed up. Yes, Dad, I made a deal with mass-murderers and let them go. What do you expect me to do about it, since I don't have the resources Chris has. The real question is what was your Hunter buddy doing, while Deucalion and his cronies were in town. It's not all that hard to surround a building with mountain ash and burn it to the ground, as Kate proved, or use one of those sniper rifles of his and blow a hole in Deucalion's head from a mile away. You have the military training, Argent, don't tell you couldn't have done it."

Both the Argent and the Sheriff were pale as sheets now, looking at Stiles like they were seeing him for the first time. In a manner of speaking, they were.

"Here's what I think." Stiles said conversationally "You decided to let the Alpha pack and McCall pack kill each other and then step in and take out who's left. Sounds logical, all things considered, won't you agree?"

"I... I would have... never..." Chris stuttered, then stopped. He gulped. When the fuck the table had turned on him?

"Don't bother." Stiles cut him off. "Lets talk about the being a killer thing. "Stiles turned to his father.

"Are you saying you wouldn't have killed to protect me?" he asked, but then decided to be petty. "No, wait, bad example. Are you saying you wouldn't kill to protect Scott, or Melissa, or Jordan? Why what I did is different? There were crazed werewolf running around harming people! What was I supposed do, wait for the Argents to show up and take care of him. And then kill everybody else who got bit in the meanwhile, one of them who is Scott, by the way?"

"Stiles!" the Sheriff almost pleaded.

"No, Dad!" Stiles cut him off. "Just no! I won't stand here and be accused of something you would have done in my place!"

"That's the thing!" Noah yelled "I wouldn't have! I believe in the law! I believe in justice, I believe in proper channels and proper proceedings, I believe in the system installed by the Constitution! What you have done goes against every believe I have!"

Stiles raised a brow.

"Hate to break it to you, Dad, but there is no mention about the supernatural in the Constitution or in the Law. Keep your believes for those who you can apply them to. I'd like to see you throwing the book at Kali and survive"

"That's what Hunters are for!" Noah yelled.

Stiles jaw dropped.

"Are you trying to compare the Hunters with the justice system? That's bullshit! I give up! You go on living your life with your head berried in the sand, Dad. I'm going to do what I think is necessary to protect the people I care about!"

"Who gave you the right to be judge, jury and executioner"?" Chris managed a comeback.

"And who gave YOU the right to be judge, jury and executioner?" Stiles shot back.

"Son" Noah tried, but Stiles interrupted him bitterly.

"Keep this reference for someone who you really consider your son, Dad. You said it yourself - who am I and what have I done with the boy you raised"

"I'm sorry!" Noah exploded. "I'm sorry, okay?! I'm sorry I said that! I was angry, and scared, and I don't know what to do now that I know about it! Before I had plausible deniability, but now? What the hell am I suppose to do now?! If someone finds out Kate and Gerard were arrested on false evidence - and if the Hales managed to find out, others will too, and then they'll walk! Kate and Gerard will be released, don't you get it?! There will be another trial, and the defense will scrutinize everything, every single piece of evidence, even the real ones, and there is a very big chance they will walk away, after everything they had done! And then they will come after you and me and Scott and everybody related"

Stiles pinched the bridge of his nose.

"I know, Dad. I know. That's why no one was supposed to know there is something there to be found."

Chris kept silent. He knew perfectly well that he was holding all the cards now. One word from him and Kate and Gerard would be released, Noah would loose his job, and Stiles would be prosecuted. And the Stilinskies knew it too.

Stiles sighed tiredly. He needed to get out of here.

"Okay, I'm going for a drive" he announced. "Probably won't be back tonight, will crash at a friend".

"Stiles" the Sheriff began.

"Save it, Dad. I can't deal with anything anymore tonight" and he walked out of the house.

 

***

 

Stiles ended up at the Overlook for the second time that day. That night? Whatever, he had nowhere else to go. His couldn't deal with anyone from his former pack, and his new pack was not an option either. He considered for a second calling Malia - what does it say about you that the only person you have in your life that won't judge or pressure you, or ask questions is a girl you met two hours ago?

The sky was darkening, the wind was rustling the leaves of the foliage and the stars twinkled in existence - one by one.

Stiles was lying on the ground again, hands behind his head, looking up at the sky - mind void of any thoughts but one question. What am I supposed to do now? He just stared and stared, emotionally and physically exhausted, and nothing came to him.

There was rustle in the bushes at the and of the clearing again. May be Malia came back here for some reason?

Stiles turned his head and his eyes met electric blue ones. Not Malia. Someone much bigger.

Stiles looked up to the sky again.

"If you had come here to rip my throat out with your teeth, get it over with. I don't give a shit anymore" he said to the night sky.

There was a quiet rumble and then - soft steps, coming toward him. For a second a enormous flank hid the sky and then the wolf plopped down next to him.

The wolf was warm. And it's fur felt soft.

"Am I allowed to touch?" Stiles asked.

In answer the wolf pressed closer to him and a huge muzzle plopped down on his chest.

Still watching the stars Stiles, buried one hand in the thick fur on the wolf's neck. It was soft. Stiles chuckled.

The wolf gave out an inquisitive sound.

Stiles chuckled again. "You're so fluffy I'm gonna die!"

The whole body of the wolf spasm and the animal jumped on his feet. A blink and the wolf was over him looking down at the young man with electric blue eyes.

Stiles chuckled again. The wolf licked him from neck to temple in retaliation and plopped on top of him like a huge blanket.

"Uff, Peter, you weigh a ton!" Stiles complained.

The wolf gave up a low deep growl, like purring.

Stiles circled the thick wolf neck with both hand and berried his face in the soft fur.

Peter. His soul mate.

Chapter Text

Tailor Hale parked his sedan at the end of the street because there were no parking spots left available in front of the McCall house, and exited the car.

He strode casually toward his new Alpha's home. The entire pack was here apparently, plus the some of the pack adjacent members - he walked past mrs. Martin's car. The two cars missing he noted, however, were the Sheriff's cruiser and the black SUV that belonged to Chris Argent.

That promised to be interesting, in 'the'-headache-inducing' way interesting - the presence of the Argens on Hale pack territory, but since apparently Alllison Argent was Scott McCall and Isaac Lahie's mate, his mother would have to show some leniency toward the members of the Hunter's clan that had tried to burn them alive.

Standing there, in front of the McCall house, Tailor could hear the raised voices inside without the aid of werewolf hearing. That was promised to be interesting as well... and in the same manner.

He knocked politely on the door, wondering why no one reacted to his presence on their Alpha's footsteps yet - they surely have heard him driving or at least walking. The door opened and the red-headed banshee met his polite gaze with a cool one of her own.

"Yes?" she asked him, raising one eyebrow. More like demanded, really.

"This is a pack meeting, is it not?" Tailor tried to channel his inner Peter, and from the furious look the banshee gave him - succeeded.

"Yes, and we are kind of busy right now!" Lydia snapped at him. Oh, this little girl needed a good smack-down.

Tailor invaded her personal space, forcing her to open the door further and entered the house, bodily forcing Lydia to take a step back, then turned to her and smiled placidly.

"Well, then, as a pack member of the McCall pack, I have every right to be here, have I not?" and without waiting for a reply Tailor strode to the living room that had gone quiet as soon as he knocked on the door.

"Alpha" he stopped in front of Scott McCall tilting his head to one side - not in submission but for the scent marking that was suppose to happen.

Every person in the room just stared at him.

"You are supposed to scent mark me" Tailor reminded quietly the young Alpha, who just sputtered and took a step back.

Allison Argent was who spoke next, addressing everybody but him.

"What the hell is he doing here?!" she exploded.

Tailor turned calmly toward her, registering Deaton's visible discomfort and his somewhat grateful look. Apparently, the Emissary had just been in the spotlight moments ago.

"Miss Argent, as of this afternoon, I'm a full member or this Pack, so I have every right to be at a Pack meeting. Apparently my invitation was lost in the mail. Your hostility, however, baffles me. Am I to assume that I'm not welcomed in the McCall pack any more and the Pack alliance is null and void?" if his uncle could see him now, he probably would have burst out with pride.

"No, not at all" Deaton was forced to speak in a hurry, because the others in the room weren't coming up with a reply at all and the druid wasn't sure if their reply wouldn't cost them uprooting their homes and lives. "We were just discussing the ramifications of Stiles' actions those past two years" he said with a grimace, unhappy to bring back to the spotlight his role in convincing the McCall pack that Scott was a True Alpha.

 

Tailor turned to his new Alpha.

"What ramifications?" he inquired.

Scott looked indignant that his newly acquired pack member had asked at all.

"Stiles had killed someone! And he put Allisons grandfather and aunt in jail! And went to the Alpha pack and made deal with them and got Ms. Blake killed!" he growled.

Tailor sighed inwardly.

"Stiles had killed the Alpha that bit you, Erica, Isaac and Boyd - something that your soul mate," he pointed at the fuming Allison ", is trained and obligated to do. She has been on four hunts with her father already, and killed dangerous omegas. I'm sure that she would have killed the Alpha herself, given the chance. I don't see the issue here".

He glanced at the Huntress and saw her wince - apparently, the girl was keeping secrets from her mates.

"Allison!" Scott exclaimed "You didn't! We don't kill people! We protect those who can't protect themselves!"

"You mean you let human murderers go?" Tailor inquired drawing Scott's attention back to him. "The non-killing part is admirable, Alpha, I understand you reluctance in accepting this new reality you all have been thrown into, but the facts of the matter are that the general public doesn't know about the existence of the supernatural, and therefore doesn't have the means to deal with it. You can not send a feral Omega in jail, they'll simply slaughter the guards and get out. You either put them out or let the Hunters come in, which, all things considered, is not a very good option. This is your reality now."

"And who's responsible for this new reality?" Lydia hissed "Stiles is the one who got Scott bitten!"

Surprisingly, Isaac, Erica and Boyd growled at her, and Melissa and Nataly shook their heads in denial of her words.

Tailor decided he had had enough of this prissy little bitch.

"Ms. Martin, what you are saying is that if you invite your friend Allison here to the movies, and while going there, crossing the street, she is hit and killed by a drunk driver, you are the one responsible for her death" he stated calmly.

Lydia eyes bugged.

Tailor turned toward Scott.

"On the Argent matter - Stiles falsified two pieces of evidence only - putting Gerard and Kate on the scene of the crime. Everything else is true. Everything, to the minutest detail. And, by the way, I'm personally grateful to Stiles that he didn't drag my baby-brother to court and omitted the statutory rape Kate Argent committed with the intend of gaining information how to kill my former pack and my family."

Scott face paled.

"He dragged the Argent name through the mud!" Allison Argent exploded "No one respects us any more! We were the most respected and well reputed family in the Hunter's community, now we are nothing but the bud of their jokes! He should have gone to the Hunter's Tribunal!"

"You mean the Hunter's tribunal that your grandfather was the head of?" Tailor asked. "The same Tribunal, that is still going through quite a lot of changes, every Hunting family quietly cleaning house from the supporters of the Gerard ideology? That Tribunal?" he smiled at her sadly "Haven't you wondered why the Hale pack didn't go to the Tribunal? I'm sorry, miss Argent, but if Stiles had gone to that tribunal, he, his father, the entire McCall pack and everybody associated with them would have ended up dead within a week. And I think you know it."

Allison dropped her head, but then raised it up again.

"He could have done a lot of things without ruining my family's reputation! Wherever I go, I don't get even the ounce of respect I deserve as the current Argent matriarch! How am I suppose to go changing the Hunter's prospective on the supernatural like that?!"

Tailor shrugged.

"Miss Argent, your aunt is thirty-two, and she hadn't the respect of an Argent Matriarch between even the like-minded Hunters. She was supposed to replace your grandfather when she turned forty, had gained the experience of a real Matriarch. You're nineteen, I don't understand why you expect things to be different for you, just because you're a woman and an Argent, even if the Argent empire hadn't fallen."

Allison's face was turning redder and redder with his every word.

"You seems to have an answer ready for everything!" Alpha McCall snarled and Tailor tilted his head in sign of submission, but this didn't appease his Alpha, who grabbed something from the nearby table and threw it at Tailor, who caught it. "What about this, huh! It clearly states, that the Alpha has the final say on everything and no one is supposed to question the Alphas decisions, not to mention going behind their Alpha's back! And that's exactly what Stiles did!" he yelled, angry that Tailor disrespected and humiliated his mate.

Tailor looked down at the object that turned out to be a book. He lifted through it. Ah, the notorious True Alpha Gregory's diary.

He turned to the two older women in the room.

"I'm very sorry about this mrs. McCall, mrs. Martin, but according to this you need to transfer all your property to mr. Raphael McCall and mr. George Martin, asap, Monday morning at the latest."

This elicited two indignant shouts of "What!" from the two women.

Tailor looked at the book again.

"Well, according to True Alpha Gregory, who died one hundred and thirty years ago, women are not allowed to own land or property. It belongs to their husbands. Also, according to this book, your divorces are void, because only the husband is allowed to leave his wife, taking the land and the children, and not vice-versa".

He looked up at Lydia next.

"Also, female pack members are not allowed to express opinion, or speak without a direct invitation from their Alpha during pack meetings."

Lydia went red in the face, seconds from an verbal explosion, but Tailor hasn't finished.

"Also, your mating with deputy Jordan Parish and ms. Rayes mating with mr. Boyd is not legal, because it's not been done with the blessing of the Alpha. Even if he gives you the blessing, you can't mate them until you give Alpha McCall at least one cub."

Tailor turned to his new Alpha who was looking at him like he had sprawled a second head. "I expect your Virgin rights are a mute point now, but you can still flail mr. Boyd and mr. Parish - or is it mr. Whitmore - for taking what's rightfully yours, namely  your female pack members' virginity. You are also obligated to try and breed your female pack members able of caring a child" he shot a look at Natalie Martin "Which would probably include mrs. Martin as well, at least once a month, but preferably twice. They are lawfully obligated to give you a child first before they can ask you to give them permission to mate to a partner of your choosing. You are also obligated to show you dominance by mounting every male pack member every three months".

"What the fuck is this absurdity!" it was Isaac who lost it next.

Tailor waved the book.

"This is the life of a pack, lead by a True Alpha one hundred and thirty years ago. According to Alpha McCall, this is the kind of life you are supposed to be leading."

Scott McCall looked horrified.

"But... but... but that's outdated! That's one hundred and thirty years ago!" he stuttered "It's when women hadn't had the right to vote, and married at thirteen!"

Tailor handed him the book back, but the Alpha didn't take it.

"Well, if you want to treat this book as a Werewolf Bible and preach from it, preach everything, not only the pieces that suit you" he dropped the book on the coffee table. "You can't pick and choose which customs you want to live on... according to this book. If you decide to ignore it, or read it in the context of the time it was written in, it's actually kind of useful on Pack etiquette and inter-pack relations."

He shrugged.

"What about Stiles, the Alpha pack and Jennifer Blake matter?" Jordan Parish decided to change the subject, before the real topic of the meeting was totally derailed.

Tailor looked at him. Well, Lydia Martin was one lucky lady. Looks and smarts and leveled head in one package.

"I don't see any wrong doings there. There was a Darach, sacrificing people. That falls under the Pack's, and the local Druids' - mr. Deaton and mrs. Morrell - and the local Hunters' jurisdiction. Stiles acted on the behalf of the Pack and took out a treat to the territory and the supernatural world in general. Frankly, Julia Baccary - Mrs. Blake real name - was quite mad, after her own Alpha and soul mate killed her entire pack, mauled her and left her for dead. She was running around town, killing people in ritualistic sacrifices. She had to be stopped. Your Left Hand stopped her."

There was a disbelieving uproar in the room, until Alpha McCall decided to stop it.

"Quiet!" he roared. Then he turned to Tailor "Stiles was not my Left Hand! He's human!"

Tailor blinked at him, just for show.

"Then who was? Or still is, I suppose."

Scott McCall blinked back.

"No one. I don't have a Left Hand. I don't need one!"

Tailor tried not to laugh, but managed to keep a straight face. He tilted his head, showing throat once again and addressed his Alpha.

"I'm sorry, Alpha, but not having a Left Hand, or a Second, or a Enforcer, or a Piece maker in the pack creates a power vacuum that is filled naturally. Mrs. McCall is the Piece Maker, miss Argent is your enforcer, Mr. Lahey is your second - you didn't assigned them those task, they come to those roles instinctively. So did Stiles, filling the role of the Left Hand. Now, when you traded him to another pack, there is a power vacuum in your pack again. You need to appoint someone. I'm sorry, again, but according to what I have observed, you and your wolves have been treating your pack humans - the literal heart of the pack - as they were treated a century and a half ago. Times had moved on. Why don't we disband this pack meeting for tonight, and have another one tomorrow or the day after, when the pack members had time to think on what had been said tonight?"

Melissa McCall clapped her hands.

"Good idea" she said. "Everybody, go home," she ordered with her mom voice "I need to have a word with my son."

She gave Allison and Isaac a look.

"Alone" she added.

Tailor gave her a shallow bow of respect and addressed her instead of his Alpha.

"Am I still considered a member of this pack?"

Melissa gave him a wry smile.

"Considering you're the only one here that seems to have a clear idea what they're doing, yes, you very much are."

Chapter Text

Stiles didn't sleep well that night despite the huge wolf's presence by his side. Somewhere, in the back of his mind some tiny part of him had hoped that the presence of his soul mate by his side would be able to stop the nightmares.

Turns out - that was not the case.

Stiles and Peter spent four hours at the overlook - Stiles, looking at the night sky and petting the soft wolf's fur, and Peter, purring under his mate's ministrations.

It was somewhere after midnight when Stiles finally reached for his phone to check the time. One past midnight. Oh, and there were about twenty missed calls. Stiles scrolled down the list - his father, Scott, Isaac, Lydia, Jordan, Chris, surprisingly - Malia, and a couple of unknown numbers. Hale pack, may be? Peter and someone else? Doesn't matter. Well, it matters, but Stiles decided to postpone it for tomorrow. He had enough upheaval for one day. The text messages were above fifty - but Stiles didn't read any of them.

"Tonight is a mental health night," he told the wolf, who was staring down at him inquisitively ", no answering phones and texts, not thinking about anything. I'm taking the night off."

The wolf licked him on the chin, and Stiles giggled like a school girl, but then sobered.

"Could you let me stand up? I need to go get some stuff from the jeep." Stiles gulped. No going home tonight. No going home tomorrow too, most likely. Stiles was not a quitter, and he was not a looser, but facing his father right now was out of the question.

Peter stood up, moved a few feet from his mate, and shifted.

"That won't ever stop being cool!" Stiles exclaimed, before he registered Peter's naked torso, bathe in the light of the crescent moon - and promptly lost his words. His mate's body was magnificent, and the play of light and shadow on his muscles was... was... was a epiphany of masculine beauty, that no artist had the tiniest hope of recreating on canvas or capturing in stone. The teenage libido went for zero to sixty in point three seconds.

Peter's nostrils flared and he gave his mate an evil grin. Oh, his young mate wanted him, and wanted him so much that the entire clearing was flooded with the intoxicating scent of Stiles' arousal. But Peter wasn't going to act on it, not beyond the grin. Not yet, despite his wolf going ballistic in his head.

"Sweetheart, if you try and go down the hill, you are going to end up with either broken neck, or at least concussion. I don't think a trip to the hospital is something that we should be looking forward to. Give me the keys and I'll retrieve what you need from your car".

Stiles just gaped ad him for several seconds, then blurted.

"Oh My God, you're the highest maintenance type possible, aren't you? That level of sass and smarminess is just ... is just..." and he flailed wildly in loss of words.

Peter grin went up a notch.

"Glad you're catching up, sweetness. Now, keys, please."

Stiles handed him the keys.

"I need the blue backpack. Not the black, the blue one, and there's a black plastic bag with a pillow in it. They are both in the trunk. And grab my baseball bat, please, it's in there as well. There is a small metal lock-box under the passenger's seat, I need that also. That's all." he finished somewhat embarrassed, because, despite the fact he point-blank refused to think about the very noticeable, almost painful hard-on in his pants, somewhere in his mind he did also acknowledge the fact that Peter could see it (damn werewolf night vision!), smell it (damn werewolf noses!), and hear it in his heartbeat (damn werewolf hearing!). And Peter's grin was promising all sorts of things. His mate was evil!

Peter just turned away. The muscles on his shoulders and back danced under the moonlight, and Stiles hurriedly closed his eyes and turned away before his diabolical mate had the chance to stride far enough from him for Stiles to have his entire god-like body in sight.

"Jesus!" he muttered to himself, drawing a palm over his face. "Way to tease the virgin, asshole! I hate all the porn!"

There was a scuffling sound of tripping behind him. Peter had obviously heard all of that. Stiles looked up at the sky and cursed in his mind this time.

When the sound of footsteps disappeared, Stiles looked the clearing over and sat back on the ground, looking at his feet. From what he had found out in his research, and from the way his mate acted, Peter was the type of asshole who would appear from the darkness, naked and in full view. Stiles didn't need to see his mate's dick and think about it (or worse - dream about it) on top everything else.

Everything was moving too fast, everything was coming from left field, and Stiles felt like he had lost his footing and was under siege from all sides. Nothing was under his control anymore, not a single thing in his life. And that's enough thinking about that.

Stiles started re-counting all the plate numbers of the cars he knew, the Packs, the Sheriff department's, his friends' relatives, and proceeded to divide every number to two and sum the divisions up. That was an excellent technique to clear his mind from unwanted thoughts and keep himself occupied.

Indeterminable time later the requested items from his jeep were placed on the ground beside him, and a cold nose touched the back of his hand. Peter had shifted up to his wolf without prompting from Stiles.

Stiles finally looked up in the electric blue eyes of the wolf. His wolf. The thought was mind-blowing. This magnificent creature was his. He finally had a dog!... uhm... wolf!

Stiles always had loved dogs from all breeds, all shapes and sizes, but the huskies, malamutes and the akitas were his favorite. Weirdly enough, Stiles was not a fan of German Shepard's. He had begged his dad for a doggie since he was four, but had to settle for visiting the police and rescue and service dogs, that the police and ranger stations worked with. He would pet them for hours, and brush them, and walk them and play with them, and hug them... and love them - and they loved him right back. There is something... awe-inspiring in the way a dog loves his master unconditionally. You can be the worst person in the World, you can be a psychopath, a serial killer, a mass murderer, an outright the-worst-comics-villain level of bad, but your dog would love you and will be loyal to you - no matter what. Stiles loved dogs. He always had talked to them as they were real people, like they could understand him. And now... now he finally got his wish. He had a... wolf... who could actually understand every word he said. Stiles already loved the wolf. It took him - what, half an hour of petting to completely and utterly fall for this magnificent animal. And the wolf was huge, and soft and playful! Where Peter made Stiles uneasy, and wary, and on edge - like he had to be on his toes all the dammed time, this wolf... made Stiles feel safe, and loved and protected... And the weirdest part yet - this wolf was also Peter, but Stiles... Stiles didn't see him as Peter. Not the cunning, clever, calculating, deadly Left Hand of the Hale pack. This wolf was someone different.

The huge animal shifted from foot to foot adorably and gave Stiles the universal k-9 smile, complete with the tongue lolling.

Stiles shifted his attention to the items Peter had brought him.

He picked up the bat and placed it in easy reach.

"Okay," he told the wolf ",I know that with you around, I don't actually need this, but, frankly, two fighters are better then one"

The wolf gave up an inquisitive rumble.

"You can never know what kind of supernatural bullshit - and how many - would come out of the woods."

The wolf growled in disagreement.

"That's your opinion," Stiles countered "but imagine what would happen if twenty ghouls suddenly decide to show up for a snack - and by snack I mean me. Do you honestly think you can simultaneously keep track and fight all of them? Imagine eighteen go after you, and the last two stand back, and go after me, when you're sufficiently occupied." Stiles continued "Better safe than sorry."

Then he reached for the metal box and looked up the wolf, who managed to convey his disapproval and hurt in Stiles' disbelief of his capability to protect his mate by mere body language.

"Don't give me that look! I know you can and will protect me," Stiles chided ",but you are not invulnerable or omnipotent. I prefer not to see you hurt if I can help it, especially on my behalf".

He opened the box. The wolf jumped back and bared his teeth.

Stiles looked up.

"What, this?" he asked, pulling out a long hunting knife, which just happened to be coated in wolfsbane. "Don't worry, this stays in the box. It's from when the Alpha pack were here. Before I decided to strike a deal with Deucalion, I was planning to get rid of them - permanently. Camped on the Preserve several nights, when Dad was working the Night Shift, in a circle of mountain ash. I hoped they would come for the easy-pickings."

He gave the wolf a dark smile.

"Fortunately for everybody involved they were not interested in me, like, at all. I wasn't even on their radar!" he smelled a bit hurt on that last bit, but then looked back at the wolf. "I'm forgoing the mountain ash circle tonight, cos you'll be able to hear or smell everything coming this way and wake me up if it's trouble."

This seemed to appease the wolf somewhat, but then Stiles put the knife back in the box and took out a couple of sealed zip-bags with mountain ash.

"Those stay out, however." he explained to his wolf. "I can activate the ash and form a circle from ten feet away." he said proudly, then added "These are just in case. What I need is these," and he pulled out a hand taser and a taser gun.

"The gun is for long range," he explained ", then comes the bat, and the hand-taser is for last resort when I'm in real trouble. I have a real gun too. But I haven't found a substance that can stop everything out there yet." he shrugged "Lugging around a briefcase with illegally obtained gun, with twenty different clips full of twenty different kinds of ammunition is silly." he gestured toward the tasers "Not that those are obtained legally - my Dad's the Sheriff - but what he doesn't know, would hurt only the people the tasers are intended for." he smiled ruefully.

Then Stiles pulled out his pillow, place the plastic bag on the ground, then the taser gun went on top of it, and then Stiles hid the gun with the pillow. The hand taser went into the pocket of his jeans. Then he pulled up the last two items from the box and closed it. Those were two identical watches, and Stiles put one on each of his wrists, fiddled a bit with them and looked up at the wolf.

"Bought them on e-bay. I love everything Chinese made. Everything comes dirt-cheep. Frankly, everything Chinese bought from e-bay breaks pretty much within three months of using, but still, those haven't let me down yet - and I have them for an year. Must have accidentally found a good quality batch or something." he showed the wolf his wrists.

"Those actually are gag-gifts. They work as watches, but instead of alarm, they give you a mild electric shock. What they also do, is measure your pulse. I have set them on eighty. My pulse is sort of all over the place cos of the ADHD thing, but in sleep it's usually forty-five to fifty beats per minute. Unless I'm having a nightmare." he looked at the wolf seriously. "I have a lot of those. When my pulse gets above eighty, the watches shock me and I wake up." he gave the animal a somber look "It comes in handy, if you don't want to wake up your father with your screams."

The wolf wined mournfully and Stiles got the weird "what-can-i-do-to-halp" vibe from it.

"It's okay, buddy," he sooth "there's nothing you can do".

The wolf have had enough. He jumped on his feet, tackled Stiles and plopped on top of him, licking his face and neck. Stiles chuckled, hugged the wolf's neck tightly and whispered "I love you too, buddy".

The watches woke up Stiles four times that night.

The first was the memory of the fight with the rogue Alpha, and the aftermath when he turned back to human after Stiles blow a hole in his head. In the nightmare he had managed somehow to tear apart the Sheriff first before he went after Stiles, but when Stiles looked up from the body Chris Argent was pointing a rifle at him. And he woke up.

The second time was Gerard's basement. His father was there, next to Chris and he just watched impassively, while the eldest Argent beat, and whipped, and electrocuted Stiles. Stiles woke up before the rape commenced.

The third time was the Darach, and all her sacrifices were Stiles loved ones. Scott, Isaac, Allison, Lydia, Jordan, Melissa, Erica, Boyd, Tara. His dad was still alive when Stiles found her. She killed the Sheriff in front of Stiles eyes, and then he woke up. Sometimes he wouldn't wake up before the worst part happened.

The forth time were just... just unknown monsters chasing him through the Preserve, toying with him like a cat toys with the mouse before it kills its pray.

Stiles spent more time calming down the angry, and upset, and agitated wolf that night than sleeping.

***

 

The fifth time Stiles woke up, was at dawn. He always woke up at dawn when he went camping or slept in his jeep.

He was pinned under a very heavy blanket, that was currently staring at him down his snout with electric blue eyes. Stiles had the feeling the wolf wasn't happy with him.

He stretched and gently pushed the wolf's flank, indicating he wanted to get up. The wolf - Peter, no, not Peter, Stiles should name the wolf something else, probably ask Malia what Peter's wolf name is - jumped off him, but stood alert, watching the boy intently.

"Are we in danger?" Stiles asked him.

A full body shake.

"Is there someone else around?" Stiles asked again.

A huff.

This was stupid. Stiles pointed at the wolf and ordered.

"From now on, a huff for 'yes' and a growl for 'no'. I can't understand you in this form. I'm going to pee. Stay here, I won't get far."

The wolf huffed at him, and Stiles was pretty sure that wasn't a 'yes', that was an eye-roll.

Then he went behind the nearest tree and did his business, then get back to where they slept and put away the tasers, the mountain ash and the bracelets.

Then he reached for the blue backpack. It contained a bottle of water, his emergency pack of pills, a first aid kid and - most importantly - clothes.

Stiles took his Aderoll with a swig from the bottle, and started pulling up clothes. A pair of sweat-pants, a clean t-shirt and a plad shirt should be enough for Peter. He left the second t-shirt and the clean hoody for himself.

Than he looked at the wolf, who was pacing agitated, waiting for his human to be done.

"Peter," Stiles said ",we need to talk. Put these on when you shift back to human, please."

The wolf growled at the serious I-mean-business tone but took the clothes carefully in his mouth and trotted to the underbrush. Stiles used this opportunity to change himself, and to pull out a mouthwash from his first aid kit and rinse his mouth. God, he needed coffee.

He heard soft footsteps behind him and turned. Peter looked a bit ridiculous in his clothes. The t-shirt was rip-tight on him, where it was baggy on Stiles, but the sweat-pants ended above the man's ankles. And plad was not Peter's stile, apparently. When Stiles had seen a photo of Peter Hale for the first time he thought the man would look good in a sack, but apparently this was not the case. He looked ridiculous. And angry. Tight jaw, white knuckled fists, arms crossed on his chest. Not angry - pissed.

Before Stiles could ask about what he did wrong to piss his soul mate off, Peter pointed at him, and barked.

"This is utterly unacceptable! You are starting therapy tomorrow, and I don't want to hear any arguments! I'll drag you there kicking and screaming if I have to! Are we clear?"

Stiles laughed bitterly and looked away from his soul mate.

"Really, Peter? Do you seriously think that the lack of proper mental care is on my priority list amongst this cluster-fuck?"

"Please, share with me what is more important than your mental health, oh, mate of mine!" was the almost snide retort.

Stiles looked back at his mate with pity.

"And I thought you were the clever one" he shook his head, to which the werewolf in front of him just growled.

"You want a list?" Stiles asked. "I'll give you a list."

He faced his mate, eyes blazing.

"My former pack finally got rid of me. I managed to royally piss off my new one, by surrounding them in mountain ash and poisoning the Alpha's successor. My father found out that I falsified evidence on the Argent case, which means - a.) he'll most probably report it; b) - Kate and Gerard will walk out of prison on technicality; and c) - depending on my father's mood I'll either be put on trial for obstruction or, if he feels charitable - he'll spare myself and himself the troubles and will just ask me to find my own lodgings, now that I'm eighteen, and wash his hands off me. So, yeah, at this point I'm either homeless at best, or on my way to jail at worst. And that's without mentioning what Kate and Gerard will do to me when they find out, because I'm pretty sure Chris will tattle. A couple of nightmares are nothing, you should be happy if I'm not having a complete breakdown right now. No friends, no family, no pack, no home, no income. And what the fuck I am supposed to do now, Peter? Go to therapy?"

Stiles' voice was gradually rising until he screamed the last words at his mate.

Peter did the only thing he could do at this point - he grabbed his mate and pulled him into a tight hug. The boy struggled weakly in his arms breathing hard, trying to control the overwhelming despair that threatened to drown him, and stave off the looming panic attack.

The werewolf cradled Stiles head to his chest and rumbled soothingly in his ear, the sound and the vibration managing somehow to calm his distressed mate.

When Stiles' pulse and breathing more or less calmed down the wolf murmured low in his hair.

"I am quite upset with you for putting Kate and Gerard in jail, Sweetness. I want to get my hands on them really, really bad - and you, my dear, put them out of my reach. If they are released they won't live to see the next sunset I promise you that."

Stiles' body jolted and he tried to pull away to look at his soul mate, but Peter didn't let him.

"Your father," Peter continued ", will calm down, and me and Talia are going to talk to him. I think you are being overly dramatic with no reason here. He is your father, you are his son. This trumps everything else".

"I have thought so too, but last night when I went home..." Stiles muttered in Peter's chest ", things went bad. He had been drinking, and he said some words. And I said some words too. I had no idea things between us had deteriorated this far." Stiles sniffled "We were never as close as... as Mom and I were... And I wasn't the easiest child to rise, with the ADHD and constantly causing trouble... But the last two years... With all lies, and all the running around, and turning up at crime scenes..." Stiles sighed. "I don't think I'm exaggerating, Peter. He looked at me like I was a stranger. Like I betrayed him. Like I betrayed Mom. And Chris Argent being there, and butting in on the argument... He wouldn't listen... Dad refused to listen, refused to see all of it from my point..." Stiles went silent after that.

Peter tried to comfort his young mate as much as possible.

"The good Sheriff needs a reality check badly, seeing that he's associating with only a Hunter family and a pack of terribly naive children, who have no idea what awaits them in the real world. I was contemplating wringing the neck of your former Alpha and bash those kids' head together until they either start using them or kick the metaphorical bucket. I will refrain, because you'll most likely be upset with me if I go through with that plan." Peter paused, then mused "And I think I won't like being an Alpha all that much - the hassle will be headache inducing."

Stiles huffed at his chest.

"What you do have, Sweetheart, is a soul mate, and not any soul mate. You have the most ruthless cut-throat werewolf on the West Coast for a soul mate. Who just happens to be a lawyer - and very successful, and quite rich one at that."

Peter finally let Stiles look up at him, but kept him flushed to his body. There were moisture in the young man's eyes. Peter gave him a small, soft smile, cupping his mate's cheek with one hand, the other - holding Stiles securely to him.

"You have done you research on werewolves, Stiles." he said "You know what mate means for us wolves - same the human version, only multiplied by ten. I will burn the entire world down for you."

Stiles eyes darkened and his scent soured.

"You don't know what you're getting yourself into, Peter." Stiles told his soul mate. "You know things about me, you don't know me. I'm enough self aware to know I'm not the easiest person to get along with. Quite frankly, I'm an asshole. I have no brain to mouth filter, and there won't be a time some member or other of your pack wouldn't be mad at me for something I had said. I constantly piss people off, or annoy them with the ADHD thing. The fidgeting, the questions, the constant word-vomit, the lack of restrain. And I'm reckless. I do what I want and the hell with consequences. Exhibit one - my current predicament. All this," Stiles gestured with the hand that wasn't trapped by Peter's, trying to encompass his entire life "is my own doing. All the decisions, all the consequences, they are all mine. And it's easy to think of a better solution after the deed is done. I know I some of what I did wasn't the best option, wasn't the only option. I'm going to be judged for it all, I know that. Not only by my Dad, but by my friends too. By your Alpha. By your pack. And it won't be the last time either. This is the bed I've made for myself, and it's not fair to you to rescue me now, and every other time I'm going to land myself into trouble."

Peter outright laughed at that.

"Peter!" Stiles poked him "This is not a joke! I'm serious!"

The werewolf couldn't resist and pecked the tip of his mate's nose.

"Sweetheart, soul mates, remember?" he chuckled at his indignant mate. "We are perfect for each other. We are so similar in some aspects, the important aspects, that we could be the same person! Except the ADHD thing, as you so eloquently put it. You're perfect for me the way you are. And your sarcasm is just an added bonus."

Stiles huffed.

"Bet you wouldn't go after a feral Alpha with you father's spare gun, knowing that you'll most likely be torn to shreds before you had the chance for the headshot you need."

"Bet you wouldn't kill your wolf and almost kill yourself to break a mountain ash barrier" Peter countered.

Stiles' jaw dropped.

"You did what?!" he yelled in his mate's face.

 

***

 

One of the best kept secrets of the Hale pack was that Alpha Talia Hale was almost as clever, ruthless and vicious as her brother. Talia had the reputation of being fair, and honorable, and just. That was all true, but also, that wasn't all she was. She liked to hide her not all that staler qualities behind Peter's reputation and pull the strings behind the scenes. That was one of the reasons she and Peter got along so well - they were quite similar.

And today Talia was going to do something not many Alphas would even think of, or attempt, or carry on. She was going to take away Stiles from his father.

Talia was of the firm believe that one don't value something they have, until they lost it, and today she planned to implement this particular belief with the hope that the Sheriff would come to his senses somewhere in the future. Hopefully - in the near future.

Talia Hale entered the Sheriff station, walked to the receptionist's desk and asked to speak with the Sheriff. After a short time she was escorted to the man's office.

Sheriff Stilinski looked like he hadn't slept at all and - judging by his smell - had had a few drinks last night, probably to calm his nerves, Talia thought uncharitably.

On his desk was spread all the documentation of the Argent case, Talia saw.

Noah Stilinski looked up from one report and gave her a long look, which Talia returned.

"I won't waist your time, Sheriff, I see you're busy" she handed the man a manila folder. "This is the research Peter had done on the Argent case. It also contains a list of which evidence was true and which was falsified by your son. I thought it would be a good idea to save you some time figuring it out."

The Sheriff took the folder without looking at it. Good, Talia wanted all his attention on her.

"According to what Peter had found, the only two pieces of false evidence were the necklace print and bullet-casing that put Kate and Gerard on the scene of the Hale fire." she said calmly. "Now, we have a couple of matters to discuss. One concerns the case, the other - your son."

The Sheriff just nodded without speaking, inviting her to continue.

Talia smiled.

"Actually, I'm here on the behalf of Alister pack, the Emerald City pack and the Voulkov pack." she began, and the Sheriff narrowed his eyes at her.

"They don't intend to cause you any inconvenience," Talia continued ",but they inquire if it would be possible to report the false evidence?"

The Sheriff's eyebrows shot up in surprise and he stared at her but had yet to speak.

"We don't want to implicate your son, or for you to loose your station, but we - my pack, included - would like to know if it's possible to get Kate and Gerard Argent out of jail".

"Why?" the Sheriff asked suspiciously.

Talia was only happy to enlighten him.

"Kate and Gerard tried to burn my family alive. They killed innocent people. The Alister pack, the Emerald City pack and the Voulkov pack had alliance-exchange members and mated family member in the Fernandez and McKenzie packs. They, just as us, want retribution." Talia explained.
"Your son discredited them in the eyes of the Hunter community up to the point this retribution might be sought without repercussions from other Hunters," she mused on ",but inconveniently, he also put them in jail - where we can't reach them. So, we would like, if possible without tarnishing yours or Stiles' reputation of course, to get them out on technicality?"

The Sheriff went very pale. He understood perfectly what kind of retribution Talia meant.

Talia just watched the man she put between a rock and a hard place far more successfully than Stiles ever did. If the Sheriff let the whole thing go and decided to do nothing about his son's transgressions, he would become an accessory to unjust imprisonment, and tempering with evidence. If he decided to turn on his own son, he would be guilty of accessory to murder. Talia was curious to see which was more important to him - the Law or the Life, even if it was the life of mass-murderers.

The Sheriff's face was darkening more and more with every second.

"You're going to kill them, aren't you." he growled. It wasn't a question, although it was phrased as one.

"Yes, this is our right." Talia said smoothly.

"Given by whom?" Stilinski demanded.

"Given by the Milan Treaty at fourteen-eighty-six between the European Hunter's Tribunal and the European Pack High council. It states that every pack has the right of retribution of the unsanctioned kills, made by a Hunter family. We don't have a High Council in the United States, no need for it, because we are so scattered and there not all that many squabbles between packs to require a Council to arbiter them, but the laws of the Old Country are still followed and respected in the New World. We live by them, when it's possible. And in concern with Werewolf-Hunter relations we definitely do. The U.S. Hunter's tribunal recognizes the Milan Treaty. You can ask your friend Chris, he'll conform my words."

Talia was quite please with her delivery of this blow.

The Sheriff rubbed tiredly at his eyes.

"I don't suppose you have the text of this Treaty with you?" he asked finally.

Talia smiled and opened her briefcase producing three thick folders. He handed one to Noah.

"This contains translations to all recognized and followed treaties in America by both the Packs and the Hunters." she handed him the second folder "This is simple guide to werewolf customs, etiquette, and social behavior. It's written for prospective human pack members by human pack members." she smiled ruefully "If you intend to stand neutral, you need to know both sides of 'the equation'."  

The Sheriff recoiled like she had struck him. Talia pretended not to see.

"Now, about the second matter - your son." she handed Stilinski the third folder "Here you can find all information about werewolf-human mating, and what the mated-to-be pair needs, and what is required from them. As a human pack member it would have been possible for Stiles to continue living with you. But as a soul mate of a member of my pack, he's required to live in close proximity with his mate-to-be."

"Wait a damn minute" the Sheriff started angrily, but Talia bulldozed over him.

"Stiles will be given his own apartment in the Hale house. Peter will properly court your son as tradition dictates. You don't have to worry, their interactions will be chaperoned at all times. Frankly, this is an old custom and not many packs follow it, including the Hale pack. Unfortunately, Stiles is the soul mate of the Left Hand of the Pack, and this knowledge has been made public. The word about it with spread quickly. Stiles will need twenty four hours pack protection, otherwise he can be snatched for leverage, and used against my pack at any moment, and by anyone - rival packs, Hunters, other supernatural who have a bone to pick with the Hales, or just want something from us that we are not willing to give."

Talia looked the angry Sheriff straight in the eyes.

"Your son is not only a human member of my pack, he is also my brother-in-law. I, personally, give you my word that I will make everything in my power to keep him safe, and healthy and happy, for as long as I live. And moreover, Peter will do the same."

The Sheriff's face was acquiring an interesting ashen gray tint now. Talia closed her brief-case and stood up.

"I'll leave you to your work. Derek and Mathew will come to pick up Stiles' things tomorrow afternoon, after you finish your shift. My number is in there" she pointed to the third folder "Don't hesitate to call me if you have any questions. Have a nice day".

And with that, she exited the Sheriff's office.

 

 

 

***

 

Peter watched his mate with the corner of his eyes while Stiles was driving them to the Hale house. The scents in the car were telling enough that he didn't need to watch Stiles' face closely to know what was going on.

On the track down the Overlook to the jeep Stiles started closing down. Up there Peter's young mate opened up to him somewhat, shared some things about himself and his life, accepted the comfort Peter offered. But the ease atmosphere between them evaporated like a morning mist on the track downhill.

Stiles gathered himself, and became closed and reserved, but despite it Peter was able to smell his mate's apprehension and simmering agitation.

When they were driving to the house, the scents of Stiles' mood dimmed, like he was putting a wall between himself and the world. Peter could still smell what his mate was feeling, but it was like Stiles had put on Deaton's implacable mask, which was hard to get under and get a read on their old Emissary.

Peter wondered when exactly Stiles had learned to control his scent around wolves and how.

His young mate was a strange mixture of a teenager - with his emotional outbursts, and a seasoned adult - with his perspective, rationality and logic. Peter found it fascinating. The only problem was that his mate obviously had felt the need to hide even from Peter. The werewolf wondered how lonely it has to be in Stiles' world, and for how long the young man had felt like he can't open up to anyone - not his father, not his friends, not his former pack.

Stiles acted like a lone wolf, Peter realized.

Which was going to be a problem, because if this stunt could fly in the mockery of a proper pack the McCalls were, Stiles was a member of a real pack now. Talia and Laura wouldn't tolerate this kind of behavior.

Even Peter-Black-Sheep-Hale, closed off and reserved to anyone else, was open with his own pack. Stiles was going to need to learn that he can and should and is expected to rely on his pack members, instead of running off and doing everything by himself. Stiles wasn't alone anymore, but he didn't know it. And the stand-offish attitude would put the pack on edge and alienate Stiles, no doubt. Peter had no idea how to help his mate with it, except one thing.

Therapy. His mate needed so much therapy.

The Hale house came into view. Stiles anxiety scent suddenly spiked, before he managed to curb it.

They parked, and the whiskey-eyed boy watched the front door for several minutes - his scent, a mixture of muted emotions. Apprehension, weariness, fear, worry, determination. Like he was going to an execution.

Peter was getting more and more upset. Turns out, Stiles was right, Peter knew things about him, he didn't know him. It didn't matter. That's what the courtship was for. One day, and one day soon, Peter would know his mate, and his mate would know him.

But if he didn't manage to get through to Stiles, if Talia didn't manage to get through to Stiles - and get through soon - the young man would end up on the fringes of the pack, instead of his heart.

Peter wondered if what the McCalls had done to his mate could be undone before it's too late.

The front door opened and Laura of all people came out on the porch. Where the hell was Talia?

Stiles visibly braised himself.

"Time to face the music" he said and opened the jeep door.

Chapter Text

Stiles opened the door of the jeep and exited the vehicle. A very regal future Alpha was looking at him non-too-friendly - yellow-eyed - on the porch of the Hale mansion, hands crossed on her chest.

Stiles marched to her, back ram-rod straight, stopped at the bottom of the stair so she could tower over him and gave a shallow bow of respect.

"Alpha apparent" he greeted Laura formally, listening for the footsteps of his soul mate, closing in behind him. When he rose his head he fixed his eyes somewhere at her left ear. No need to make eye-contact with an angry predator, but still, Stiles needed to be able to read her facial expressions. The glowing eyes of the female werewolf were boring holes in his head. He tried to calm down his heartbeat. Calm and collected, calm and collected.

Laura just stood there for a minute, saying nothing, then she spoke.

"Nothing else to say?" she inquired challengingly.

"I'd like to apologize for paper-spraying you at the pack meeting," Stiles said calmly. ",I overreacted."

Laura raised an eyebrow.

"Overreacted?" she mocked "And, pray tell, overreacted to what exactly?"

Stiles knew she was trying to poke a hole in his composure, and also knew she was succeeding. Yet, he refused to break down or have an anxiety attack in front of a virtual stranger. Calm and collected didn't come to him easily. Despite he managed somehow to pull it off at times like this, it just wasn't him.

He looked Laura straight into the glowing yellow eyes and said with cool neutrality:

"To a werewolf trying to claw me".

That startled Laura badly enough that she lost the glowing eyes, altho, no other change in her regal demeanor was visible. They just stared at each other, and it was then that Stiles felt a palm at his lower back.

"Where is Talia, Laura?" asked Peter next to him, but the staring match continued, while the future Alpha answered.

"Mother went to drop some reading material for the Sheriff. She'll be back within an hour and then we all can have lunch and meet our newest pack member properly".

Somewhere in the back of his mind Stiles was surprised at Talia interacting with his father, but the rest of his being was focused on the dominance battle - because that was what was actually going on. Peter just waited next to them, providing silent support for his mate.

Finally, a thin smile flickered on Laura's lips.

"You don't submit to me".

Stiles shrugged.

"You're not my Alpha yet" which was an insult, a challenge and a smack down all rolled in one.

And it had the opposite effect that he expected - Laura's smile grew and become somewhat satisfied.

"Well, well, well. You actually have some backbone left in you. This is going to be interesting." she turned toward the house and waved at Peter and his mate. "Come on in. And you can let your guard down now, you passed my test."

Stiles didn't put his guard down when he entered the mansion.

 

 

 

***

 

Sunday lunch in the Hale manner turned up to be a whole pack event. The entire extended pack was there for pack bonding, as Peter explained to Stiles. From the eldest to the youngest child who had moved to Beacon Hills was there. There were 15 of them. Even Tailor Hale, who was technically McCall pack now was at the house, because, as Peter said, just because you switch packs doesn't mean you stopped being family. Peter never ventured more than five feet away from his mate for the entire time.

Stiles interacted with everybody who approached him, but his interactions with the different pack members were vastly different. He was polite to the adults, but distant and serious, a smile never crossed his face, which put the adult pack ill at ease. Stiles, their newest pack member was acting like they were strangers. Peter had to remind himself constantly that they actually were strangers to the young man, who haven't met a single Hale for the last eight years. The thing that bothered him most and had his wolf snarling in his head, was the fact that Stiles treated him - his own soul mate - like a stranger, and a stranger one should be extremely wary of. Peter constantly had to remind himself that his mate was in desperate need of therapy because of the number done on him by ... by practically everybody he knew in his life. But the standoffish attitude and the subtle - and not so subtle - rebuff of all overture of friendship, and all attempts to get to know him, would land Stiles in very hot water very fast with Talia.

The only two exceptions of Stiles cold attitude was Malia, to her father shock, and Derek. Stiles took a long look when Derek's face, when the young man approached him, and then gave him a small - almost barely there - smile, that was actually genuine. Peter hadn't gotten a genuine smile from his soul mate, and his nephew did! Peter was incensed, to put it mildly. Malia was another story entirely. Stiles grinned - grinned! - at her, like they were old friends, and his daughter bounded over and hugged his mate! And he allowed it! The entirety of the Hale pack was sufficiently shocked by this behavior - Talia, who had come back earlier from her trip to town - included. But then Peter saw a downing realization on his sister's face and a small "oh" appeared on her lips.

Watching Stiles interact with Talia was interesting by itself. As soon as she entered the house, she went straight to greet him and Stiles tilted his head and had shown throat immediately as he had seen her. Talia automatically reached for his throat to scent mark him, and Alan approached to be introduced. Stiles had shown throat to Alan as well, and accepted his scent-marking. But his tense posture hadn't relaxed the entire time. Now, watching Stiles hugging it out with Malia, left Peter baffled, incensed and hurt. His soul mate didn't turn away from his touches, didn't rebuke his subtle attempts at flirting, or his input on the different pack members, but stayed guarded and wary - of him - the entire time.

To say that Peter was unhappy was a huge understatement, but he hid it well.

Stiles and Malia were chatting about some book or other that they apparently both liked, and to Peter's shame, he was jealous of his own daughter. Malia was his daughter, and it was an entirely different can of worms, and one he had to address, and try to explain to his mate the clusterfuck that was Malia's story.

Talia suddenly appeared at his brother's shoulder and whispered in his ear so low that no one else could hear her.

"Soft spot for underdogs".

Ah! That explained it, and explained Derek as well. If there were underdogs in the Hale pack, those were definitely Malia, who had spent the better part of her life as an animal and his emotionally abused, but otherwise soft-hearted nephew.

That was when the children, who were taking their cues from their parents and were on their best behavior, finally let their curiosity for the newcomer to overtake them and little Melanie approached Stiles. And the adults were stunned again when Peter's mate, who apparently had either split personality disorder or was bi-polar at the least, turned to a completely different person. All his smiles, all his friendly, open and cheery attitude, all of his jokes and sunny personality, were apparently reserved for the children. Stiles complimented little Mel's quirky shoos, and made her laugh by telling her a story about when he was eight and decided that pink and glitter was supposed to go well with sneakers and had managed to glue his new shoes together. There wasn't the slightest blip in his heart so the story was apparently true.

One by one, the Hale children approached him, and Stiles had a genuine smile, a compliment and a funny story for every one of them. Then the adults tried again, thinking that the children had paved the road for more relaxed conversation. And - BAM - the walls came back up, the doors shut in their faces, and Stiles reverted back to being reserved, distant and wary. Initially, Peter thought that Stiles was wary of the wolves, but when Tailor and Mathew approached him, Stiles was as closed off as he was toward the rest of them - Peter included.

The lunch went... bad. Everybody were tense, the conversation was stilted, and every time someone addressed Stiles or asked him a question, Peter's mate answers were curt, succinct, to the point - and short.

The pack had collective sigh of relief when Stiles asked (and received) permission to go outside of a breath of fresh air, may be stroll in the preserve.

 

***

 

Despite his mate's request for solitude, Peter was not going to let Stiles out of his sight. So he followed the young man from a distance, staying out of sight.

And then Malia showed up in her coyote form and bounded up to him.

Stiles immediately dropped down, hugged her and berried his face in the tick fur at Malia's neck.

Peter watched, mesmerized, as all Stiles' walls fell away. A soft sound came from the edge of the trees, and the young man turned to see the huge black wolf, who was watching him, head cocked on one side, like asking "What the heck are you doing?". Stiles gave the wolf a wide grin, let go of Malia, and opened his hands for the wolf. The huge black animal bounded up to him and the boy - Jesus, Stiles looked like a ten year's old at Christmass, when he smiled like that - gave the wolf the same bear hug and let the wolf lick his face and neck, tail wagging.

The sudden revelation hit Peter like a lightning and he cursed himself for not seeing it sooner.

Stiles was wary of people. Not of wolves, not the vicious beasts who can rip him to shreds. Not that a coyote and a Derek looked particularly threatening or scary. Still - they could be vicious when protecting what they considered their own. The path filled with the scent of content, and joy, and happy mate.

Peter stepped back, walked a few hundred yards away, undressed quickly and shifted.

He displaced Derek from Stiles' lap, toppled the young man over and settled for some much wanted - and deserved - mate loving.

The hugs and the petting felt divine, and Stiles' hands never stopped moving. The boy proved skilled at multitasking, because Derek and Malia got their share of ear scratches, petting and hugs, but clearly Peter was Stiles' favorite.

The wolf purred under his mate's clever hands.

That's how Tailor found them an hour later - Stiles, sprawled on the ground, Malia - under his head, Stiles' face half berried in her fur, and Derek and Peter laying on top of the man, licking his face and neck from time to time and purring under Stiles petting.

 

***

 

Tailor was stunned to find Stiles in the middle of what the children of the Hale pack would deem a puppy pile, and more over - he was stunned to the easy acceptance that Stiles was dishing to Tailor's uncle and Derek. Malia wasn't much of a surprise. Derek had gotten a hard scrutinizing look from Stiles, but after that was given a small tentative smile. But Peter? From what Tailor observed, Stiles stayed tense and wary around Peter the entire lunch!

"May I come closer?" the human announced his presence. He had come here to summon Stiles and the rest for the meeting with the Inner Circle of the Hale pack at Talia's office, but this... this seemed more important, and Tailor decided his mother could wait a few more minutes.

Stiles tensed immediately, but when Peter licked him on the chin, relaxed minutely. The walls went up, but only half way. Apparently the wolves presence was doing something to relax the young man.

"You seem awfully cozy with three vicious predators in your space" Tailor commented coming closer, but his smile softened his wry tone.

Stiles hugged both Peter and Derek around their necks.

"Vicious they may be, but when a dog..." Stiles was interrupted by three simultaneous growls and laughed "All right, all right, I'm sorry!"

He placed a kiss on the muzzle of the nearest fangs-showing wolf, which happened to be Derek, and Peter growled again until he got his own kiss on the snout.

"When you get a k-9's love and loyalty, you get it for life. A k-9 won't stab you in the back, won't hurt you, won't betray you. They just love you as much as you love them."

Tailor's eyebrows shot up.

"You know those are not actual k-9s, right? Those are the same were you spent the most of the day with."

Stiles shrugged as much as his position allowed.

"It's hard to think of them as the same people. I didn't know were can full-shift, and I have no idea how much of their ... human side... is left in them, but according to Malia, they are different... beings?... entities?... personalities?... in this form. Honestly, I don't know how much this," he waved at the wolves on top of him ", affects their human personalities, but... I don't know. I honest to God hope it changes things. In my experience, humans in general are egotistical, treacherous, self-serving assholes. K-9s are the polar opposite - loyal to a fault, loving, selfless."

Tailor scrunched his brows, mildly hurt.

"You do realize I'm human? And so are you!" he said wryly.

"I'm well aware." Stiles shrugged again, but his face soured. Malia licked him on the ear, trying to comfort him. "And I am egotistical, treacherous, self-serving asshole. Ask anyone - my previous pack, my Dad. You, on the other hand, might be the exception that conforms the rule, I don't know you, so don't get offended. Yet. If I have something against you, I'll tell you to your face and will address you directly without resorting to generalizations. Ask your new pack - they will be more then willing to share my tendencies of tongue-lashing."

Tailor crouched next to the puppy pile and stroke his uncle's back wistfully.

"That's what I came here for." Peter and Derek's ears twitched at the lie, and Malia showed her teeth, but Stiles didn't notice. "I wanted to ask your opinion on your previous pack. I need to know what to expect of them."

Stiles gave him a long look, then sighed.

"You do realize I can't give you an impartial summary, right?"

Tailor shrugged.

"I don't expect one. I need the prospective of the pack human."

Stiles gave a bitter laugh at that, but Peter licked him on the nose and the boy sighed again.

"They'll push you aside. You're human, and in their eyes you're week."

Tailor frowned.

"You are anything but week" he countered. "You proofed it yesterday!"

Stiles cringed at that.

"Yeah, not one of my best moments." he kissed Peter's wolf between the eyes in week attempt of apology. "But that's not the point. The point is, you can't bench-press a car, you can't heal broken bones in minutes, you can't rip anyone's intestines in a blink of an eye. I had to get really inventive to be able to hold my own against a were. Like making-a-flame-thrower-from-hairspray-canisters level of creative. But they don't see that, because they have their weapons and their senses built in, they don't have to carry them around in their pockets or sawn in their clothes, or keep them stashed in the trunk of their cars. 'Human' means less, and the books they have been reading, the books Deaton has been giving them don't help the matter."

Tailor decided on different approach.

"Tell me about the Alpha. Strengths and weaknesses." he requested.

Stiles scrunched his eyebrows, but continued petting the wolves.

"Scott is complicated. He is my best friend. Or was. Black and white tunnel vision. Hardly ever listens to anyone these days except Deaton, Allison and probably Isaac, but Isaac is so passive that he gets along with anything Scott says, never questioning if he's right or wrong. And let me tell you, Scott is more often wrong than not."

He sighed again.

"Don't get on Allison's bad side. She's..." he paused for a moment considering if he should say what was it on his mind, then decided to say it anyway. "She's leading him by the dick, Isaac too. Don't get me wrong, she's not a bad person - her heart is on the right place, with all those ideas of changing the hunters' prospective on the supernatural and all - which I'm totally for, by the way - but the thing is, Scott is going along with everything she suggests. Granted, she is far more level-headed than him, and most of her suggestions are good and reasonable, but Scott is the Alpha of the pack. He should be more... I don't know. More assertive. More head-strong. She's buying too much to the Matriarch thing, and okay, she is supposed to rule, but she is supposed to rule hunters, not a werewolf pack. There is a power imbalance between them. And she is nineteen, which means she still can be petty, impulsive and vindictive."

Tailor nodded. What he heard was in perfect lining with his own observation.

"What about Erica and Boyd?" he asked next.

"They are a packaged deal. Really close. Boyd is surprisingly level-headed for his age and is perfect match for Erica's explosive temperament. From the whole pack, they were the most willing to listen to my ideas. Not agree, mind you, but listen. They are..." Stiles stopped, then took a deep breath. "They are the reason I kept with the pack at all. I mean, Scott is my best friend, but he stopped listening to what I had to say as soon as he got control over his wolf, and then it was all about Alison and Isaac. Lydia and I... we don't get along at all. She refuses to see me as anything different than the spastic fifteen year's old idiot, who was head-over-heels in love with her," that earned Stiles a menacing growl from Peter, but the young man continued "but in the same time she feels threatened by me... or felt threatened. Now she's going to feel threatened by you. Jordan... is with Lydia - soul mates and all - and I have a personal issue with him that clouds my judgment. Erica and Boyd... made it bearable to be around the others."

Tailor wanted to know more about Lydia.

"Lydia is brilliant," Stiles explained "Like genius level of brilliant. Not just extremely smart - brilliant. But she treats life like she treats high school. She's the queen B of BHHS. She is the queen B of the pack, via her friendship with Allison, Jordan, and her smarts. Life is not high school. She lacks... empathy?..." Stiles choose his words carefully. "She lacks... experience. She's spoiled, wealthy family and all, she never worked a day in her life, she doesn't... understand what the life outside school means."

Tailor razed an enquiring eyebrow. Stiles gave him unimpressed look.

"I've been cooking and shopping and cleaning since I was eight" he stated. " I just turned eighteen and I'm very well aware how much life experience I don't have. But what I have is more than what she has."

Tailor rose his hands in surrender. Then he told them the real reason he came up to fetch them.

"The Alpha and the Inner Circle want to have a word with you in Talia's study." he said.

Stiles gave a long sigh. Sometimes he hated people in general.

 

***

 

Talia Hale was an imposing figure, sitting behind her mahogany desk, with Alan at her right shoulder and Julia at her left, on Peter's usual spot. Peter was sitting in the chair in front of his sister, next to his mate. Laura, Derek and Cora were sitting on the couch, Julia's husband Mathew was standing by the window and Tailor, despite the fact he was technically McCall pack now - was leaning against the closed door of the study.

The one person that wasn't a member of the Inner Circle was Malia, who was in her coyote form, sitting between Stiles' and Peter's chairs. No one objected at her presence too loudly and the Alpha didn't send her away in the end.

Talia leaned forward and flashed red eyes at Stiles, earning the expected low growl from Peter.

"You," she started calmly ", attacked your pack."

Stiles saw no point of denying or justifying his actions.

"Yes, I did" he simply stated.

What came next, however, threw him for a loop.

"Considering the circumstances" Talia said "I will let it go without repercussions. Your attitude tonight, however, I have no choice but to address."

Stiles blinked several times uncomprehendingly.

"You continue to act like the Hale pack are your enemies. You rebuff all overtures of friendship from the pack. Your stand-offish attitude toward the Pack is creating tension within it."

She stopped for a moment to see if Stiles had something to say about that, but when he remained silent, she continued. "Despite the fact you haven't been outright hostile, you need to learn that the Pack is a unit, and not a summary of separate individuals. You volunteered to become a member of my pack, and yet you have to show..."

That was when Stiles interrupted her.

"Was volunteered" he said.

Talia blinked, both in incomprehension, and with the grose breach of etiquette. One does not interrupt one's Alpha.

"Excuse me?" she flashed her red eyes.

Stiles' tone remained neutral.

"With all my respect, Alpha, I feel we should clear the air on this matter. I was volunteered. Which essentially means, I was told that I will be joining your pack to form the treaty. I was informed that me joining the Hale pack is in everybody's best interest. My opinion on the matter wasn't sought or taken into account. Considering Tailor is in the same position as me - it had to be him, because there is no one else available - you understand what I mean. But I would prefer if we call things what they are."

"Are you saying you don't want to be part of the Hale pack?" Cora growled and flashed amber eyes at him.

Stiles turned to her.

"That's a mute point now. Your uncle is my soul mate. I would have ended Hale pack one way or the other."

"Then why are you mentioning it?" barked Laura.

Stiles snarled back at her.

"Because I'm not Tailor. I haven't been raised in a pack. I don't know what is like to be a part of a pack. I don't know what a pack bond means. I don't have a switch in my head that I can turn on and off. All I know that I have to give up on everything I worked my ass off for the last three years. I'm giving up college, I'm giving up my chosen career, all because of the well-being of others."

Stiles realized with horror that he was breathing hard and his heartbeat was rising - the panic-attack he had managed to stave off the whole day was going to happen and it was going to happen now in front of everybody.

Suddenly Malia jumped in his lap and nuzzled his neck. The action knocked Stiles' emotions in different direction. He automatically closed his hands around her, and pressed the animal toward his chest, hiding his face in her fur. Shit. He lost his cool again, in front of the entire Inner Circle of the Hale pack.

Talia observed the young man cuddling a coyote in front of her, and her eyes changed from red to green. One by one, the eyes of the Inner Circle, that had started glowing during Stiles' tirade, turned back to normal.

Most of them understood what they were seeing - a man on the end of his rope, on the verge of a complete breakdown, and they had made it worse by cornering him like that. One does not corner a frightened animal and demand that it liked them immediately.

It took several minutes for Stiles to compose himself. He looked Talia in the eyes and tilted his head, showing throat.

"I apologize for my outburst, Alpha, Alpha Apparent." he said with some difficulty.

The effect was somewhat diminished by Malia, who shoved her cold nose in the bared neck and started licking it.

Stiles gave out an almost hysterical laugh.

"Bet you're reconsidering the whole mate thing, huh?" he turned to Peter but was startled by the soft smile playing on his mate's lips.

Peter was watching the train-wreck of a meeting with horror and the only thought that played on the loop in his head was "oh God, he's an Alpha himself" again and again - which meant that Stiles and Talia and Laura would butt heads on every occasion. But than his daughter, his clever, intuitive, driven by instinct girl had show everybody the simple truth. Stiles wanted, no, not 'wanted' - craved - to be part of the Hale pack, he just didn't know it yet. Stiles didn't know what pack meant - absolute loyalty, absolute devotion by all and every member. People who he can rely on, people who would back him no matter what. No, not people, not humans. Stiles doesn't trust humans. He craved for the wolves.

He smiled softly at his girl in the arms of his mate. Everything was going to be all right.

Talia cleared her trough, and Stiles looked back at her.

"Apology accepted" she said, but her demeanor had changed imperceptibly. No longer an angry Alpha, laying down the law, but a concerned family member.

"Peter and I had found a therapist in the know for you, and I insist you start your sessions as soon as possible. I'm sure Peter had expressed his opinion on the matter already".

Stiles snorted.

"Yes he did. We already had a mini-breakdown on the matter." Malia licked him on the chin and he looked down at her, scratching her between the ears. Malia melted in his lap.

Talia smiled. Stiles with a coyote in his lap was like a completely different person than the antagonistic young man that entered her study.

"We need to discuss another matter of importance."

Stiles looked up at her again, almost startled, like he had forgotten there were other people in the room.

"The Hale pack has enemies." the Alpha started carefully, but stopped not knowing how to continue.

Stiles looked at his soul mate and sighed exasperatedly like it was all Peter's fault. Which, in a manner of speaking it was.

"Okay, how much danger am I in?" he asked tiredly. The eyebrows of every single person in the room, except Peter, shot up. Peter beamed at him like a proud father. He had the smartest mate in the world!

Stiles rolled his eyes at him.

"Oh, come on! Tune the smugness down, it doesn't take a genius to add two and two!" he admonished.

"What do you mean?" asked Derek perplexed which two and two was Stiles adding, because from where he sat the two's in the room were plenty.

"The cat is out of the bag." Stiles shrugged. "I'm the mate of the Left Hand. I'm the perfect leverage."

Laura and Julia barked two similar disbelieving laughs. Jesus, the kid was smart as a whip!

Alan coughed, drawing Stiles' attention to him.

"Quite a bit, actually" he started, feeling that if he delivered the news his influence as the peacemaker of the pack would soften the blow somewhat. "We feel that it would be for the best if you moved here, in the mansion."

Stiles opened his mouth to automatically protest.

"We don't suggest you in with Peter" Alan hurried to explain. "You will be given your own rooms. There will be an official courtship between you two, a mate deserves nothing less. But it will be more convenient for everyone if you stayed at the den, so to speak when the shit hits the fan."

Stiles tried to interrupt again, but Julia added.

"Until the dust settles, at least. And some distance from the McCall pack should prove beneficial for everybody. Peter should spread the rumor that your father kicked you out."

Which, Stiles thought bitterly, might actually be the truth.

"This, combined with close friendship with an Argent and his station as the Sheriff neatly circumvent the possibility for him to be used as leverage to get to you" Peter added.

Stiles looked at him skeptically.

"Everyone with more than two brain cells would be able to see through that" he pointed out. "He's my dad. He's all I have left. Even if we are at odds at the moment."

Peter frowned at him.

"I don't like to repeat myself, but I will if needed, because my mate apparently has either his ears directly linked bypassing his brain, or he's too thick headed to grasp the simple concepts of mate and pack."

Stiles bristled.

Tailor decided to butt in before Stiles blow up again.

"I have some things set in motion on that front." he said and Stiles turned his head to him, unintentionally bearing his neck again to Malia's nose and tongue - an opportunity she refused to miss on.

"I drew some documents" Tailor started "that would transfer your college fund to your father's accounts, and your Mother's life insurance will pay the mortgage of the house."

Stiles just gaped at him at sheer disbelief what he was hearing, but Tailor continued.

"The equal amount of money will be put in your accounts by the Pack so you have some sense of financial stability..."

"No!" Stiles finally was able to speak. "No way in Hell I'll be mooching out of..."

"It's my privilege to take care of my mate!" Peter snapped at him with a tone that broke no argument. Stiles gave him a stubborn look and said harshly "No, and that's final!"

The intense staring mach continued several seconds until Tailor broke the silence.

"Stiles, this is a wolf thing" he started softly "It's both instinct and tradition to..."

But Stiles interrupted him.

"And creates huge power imbalance in the relationship!" he exclaimed. "I'm not a free-loader!"

Every werewolf jaw in the room dropped.

"Did you just called your Alpha a free-loader?!?" Cora spoke in hushed tones in the stunned silence.

Stiles head snap at her.

"What?! What are you talking about! What the Hell is going on!" he demanded.

It was Derek who spoke next.

"Uhm... Stiles... Dad did the same when he courted Mom. He gave all her savings back to her family and replaced them with his own."

Stiles gaped at him.

"Are you for real?" he asked. Then his brain short-circuited and he blurted "Wait, what happens is the husband in poorer than the bride and doesn't have that kind of money? Does he pull from the pack resources to cover the difference, or does he takes a loan?"

Derek blinked at him, and turned to his Mother.

"Mom, I think you should print a copy of the werewolf customs for Stiles to read." then he turned to Stiles. "Sorry, Stiles. We have a book about that for human mates. I know this makes you uncomfortable, but it makes your mate more uncomfortable if you deny him the courting right."

Stiles looked wide-eyed at Peter.

"This is actually a courting right?" he asked in a small voice. "You mean, by not allowing you to do that, I'm rejecting you?"

Peter nodded slowly and Stiles deflated like a balloon. Then perked up again.

"Two conditions." he pointed at his mate sternly. "I'll find a job and will contribute to the Pack fund."

Peter beamed at him and opened his mouth to be quickly shut down by his all knowing mate.

"No, I'm not working as your assistant or in any business owned by you. No afternoon delight for you, mister!"

Again, everyone's jaws dropped by the end of Stiles statement, except Peter - which clenched unhappily.

"Second, I'm helping around the house. Chores, babysitting, that kind of stuff. And I pick the chores I do!"

"Fine!" Peter snapped at his irritatingly-smart mate.

 

***

 

That night Stiles was laying in bed, one hand berried in Peter's fur and pondered Malia's influence.

"This is not normal" he whispered to himself, but Peter's head popped up, and looked at him inquisitively.

"Malia" Stiles elaborated. "Or not Malia, Mercy, that what her coyote's called, right? This is not normal - she managed to stop me from panicking, defused the whole tense situation in the study, and apparently melted my brain."

The huge wolf gave him a snort which Stiles interpreted as an eye-roll.

"Don't roll your eyes at me, mister! If it wasn't for her I would have never agreed with Talia or Tailor's plans!"

The wolf stretched his neck and licked his human on the chin.

"See!" Stiles flailed barely missing his mates sensitive nose. "You're doing it too! Your fluffiness is melting my brain!"

This time the wolf nipped him on the chin.

Chapter Text

Being woken up only once by his anti-nightmare bracelets was what Stiles called good night sleep these days, and it was occurrence that didn't happen often. However, he woke up at dawn again, apparently sleeping in a strange bed equals sleeping in his jeep. He missed his pillow, although having a fluffy bad partner was nice.

Stiles went down to the kitchen to make coffee for himself, and consequently - for everyone since he was the first to wake up. Peter hadn't shifted back to human and followed him constantly demanding attention. It was irritating while Stiles tried to focus his sleep-adult brain on the complicated coffee maker, but after the brew was... well, brewing, he just sat at the counter and reveled in the wolfs attention.

"Morning" Julia greeted, entering the kitchen. Stiles stiffened automatically but forced himself to relax. Last night he had reluctantly decided to give the Hales a chance, no matter the part of his brain that berated him how stupid it was. How many times one has to be burned until they learned their lesson?

"Morning" he greeted Peter's younger sister. Then a thought stroke him and he stared at her, wide-eyed.

Peter licked his hand, feeling his mate's panic and Julia's head shot up.

"Everything okay?" she asked carefully, because Stiles was looking at her like a deer caught in the headlights.

"You're my sister-in-law!" Stiles blurted out. His heart started racing, probably toward a panic attack.

Julia laughed.

"Just settled in, huh? Or still in shock?"

Stiles rubbed at his face.

"Jesus!" he muttered. "Forty-eight hours ago I was plotting how to get out of this town for good, and now I have a soul mate, and in-laws and nephews and nieces..." his head shot up and an almost hysterical laugh escaped his mouth. Yep, he was going to have a panic attack. Not right this second, but was going to happen. Again. His scent soured. He was so tired from this shit. Then another thought - which wasn't going to calm him down in the slightest - stroke him. "Oh, God, Laura is my niece!"

Julia's eyes sparkled mischievously. She opened her mouth, but Peter - knowing his sister all too well - whirled and barked at her. Stiles was going to learn he was a father as well from his mate, and no one else. Julia sidestepped smoothly off the forbidden topic and managed to come with something else teasing.

"And your mate is closer to your father's age" she added.

Stiles, however, managed to surprise her, waving it away.

"Nah, I knew I would end up with someone older".

Julia's eyebrows shot up, and Stiles elaborated.

"I like older men. I'm technically bi, but the men that star in my fantasies are at least ten years older than me."

Peter was torn between preening that he was his mate's type, and growling at the idea that Stiles had had fantasizes about other men.

Julia, however, continued her tease-fest.

"Do you have a daddy kink, Stiles?" she asked with mock innocence and Stiles nose scrunched.

"Ewwwww" he exclaimed, then pointed sternly at Peter "I'm not calling you Daddy! Ever!"

Peter huffed at him.

"There's nothing wrong with some age play, Stiles. Me and Mathew are doing it all the time" Julia grinned teasingly at him.

"Jesus!" Stiles exclaimed. "TMI, woman! Don't you have any decency?!"

Julia laughed.

"In a werewolf pack, Stiles" she smiled at the young man "you will learn that there is no such thing as TMI. Or privacy. People can smell your arousal if a certain thing triggers you, or hear your heart-beat racing. You'll be found out pretty much immediately."

Stiles gave her a sour look.

"Do you have to mention it, though? Can you just ignore it?" he demanded.

Julia shrugged.

"Oh, we do ignore it, all the time, I just want you to be aware that your have to say farewell to your privacy, that's all. Just because your rooms are sound proofed doesn't mean we won't find any minute detail of your sex life".

Stiles face was burning red.

"Why are you trying to embarrass me?" he demanded.

Julia laughed.

"Because you're adorable when you blush" she retorted.

Stiles grumbled something unintelligible under his nose and then Mathew entered the kitchen.

"Dear, stop tormenting the boy or Peter will bite a chunk off you adorable butt." he kissed his wife on the temple and then turned to the young man at the coffee maker.

"Morning, Stiles" he greeted.

Stiles had a very vivid visual in his head of Julia and Mathew's sex life and turned three more shades redder, but managed to mumble.

"Good morning".

And then he downed on him. Julia had distracted him from panicking!

He pointed a finger at her.

"You!" he stated. "I want to be you when I grow up."

Both Julia and Mathew laughed.

Then Mathew smiled at another thought.

"Actually, I have a question" he waited for Stiles' nod of permission and asked "What are your plans for the future really? Peter tells me you're accepted practically everywhere you applied, with full scholarship at that."

Stiles gave his furry mate a suspicious look.

"And how you would know that?" he asked the wolf, who just looked up at him - innocence personified, which made Stiles laugh.

"The scholarships are a mute point now" his scent soured again. "I have to live with the pack for three years until I'm allowed to leave the territory, which means loosing the scholarships."

Mathew corrected his assumption.

"No, you don't." Stiles head shot up at that, so the pack human elaborated "That's an outdated custom. I think it would be better for you if you put aside everything you have researched about werewolves and packs, and read the Hale book about mating, and then come to any of us with your questions. "

He gave the young man a soft smile, approached the counter and started doctoring his and his mate's coffees.

"You mean I'm allowed to leave?" Stiles demanded, hope blossoming in his heart.

"Yes and no" Mathew answered without looking at him, focused on his task. "Peter being your mate complicates matters. But technically you are allowed to go to college. More over, from what Peter says, you not furthering your education will be a lost of a great potential. You're quite smart, Stiles." he looked at the boy then "You have so much to contribute to the pack. I'm sure Talia would actually insist of you going to college. And even if you loose your scholarships, your mate will be ecstatic for the opportunity to give you this and fund your studies fully."

Stiles didn't know how to feel about that. On one hand, it was so long ago someone had taken care - actually taken care - of him. On the other - those scholarships gave Stiles the sense of achievement, of pride, of accomplishment, of satisfaction. He could point at them and say - look what I have done, look what I'm capable of, in the midst of three years of supernatural shit-storm.

"And if you register in time as soul mates" Julia added "You can keep your scholarships for another year on the mating provision clause. Not many people use it these days, but it's still in power."

Stiles chewed on his lip.

"But I'm expected to return in Beacon Hills." he said.

Julia nodded.

"Yes. Your pack is here. Your mate is here. Your place is here. That's why Mathew asked you about your plans for the future."

Stiles scent drooped again.

"Well, for one, I was planning to pack my crap and never come back."

He looked down at Peter and sighed.

"You weren't supposed to be tied to this place".

Peter cocked his head in question, and Stiles explained it to his mate.

"You were supposed to come later. When I had build a life for myself. When I have something to offer. We were supposed to share our lives, not... not this. Me - taking advantage of you."

Peter growled at that, and Julia butted in.

"Stiles, you're not taking advantage of anyone."

"And you have plenty to offer" Alan, who had silently entered the kitchen during Stiles reminiscing, added. "Lets put aside your loyalty, your strength of character, your dogged determination. The mere fact you're Peter's soul mate is enough. You make him happy. Letting him take care of you makes him happy. Happy pack member equals happy pack."

Stiles looked at him skeptically.

"Which means what - I'm glorified house wife or something?"

Alan scoffed.

"Yeah, no. Would you be happy being glorified house wife? Cos my guess is a definite 'no'. He wants you happy. Your happiness is his happiness. His sole purpose in life now is to make you happy."

"Which leads to the power imbalance" Stiles countered. "I can't be his everything. This is too close to codependency for my taste."

"The whole soul mate thing is a codependency in it's core." Julia shrugged. "But only if you let it be. Okay, he'll give you the sun and the stars if you ask him, but you're not going to ask him for that, aren't you? And he is as much your everything as you are his. If you let him, he will walk all over you - but you're not going to let him. From your interactions yesterday, you are in perfect balance. He doesn't take your shit - believe me, Peter take nobody's shit, even yours, soul mate or not -, and you don't take his crap either."

"Besides," Mathew added "soul mates doesn't magically fixes anything. You are going to disagree, you going to argue, you are going to fight. What is the real problem here, Stiles?" he asked "It's not the money. What is it?"

Stiles sighed.

"The problem is that we were supposed to be 'us two against the World'. Not 'us fifteen against the World'. I'm an issue riding on an issue and using a third issue for a crop. I'm not good with other people - trusting them, letting them in." he shrugged helplessly unable to explain it better.

Talia entered the room at that moment.

"Well, good, because we are not people. We are werewolves and we are Pack. Your werewolves and your pack, to be exact."

She went for a mug and pour herself some coffee.

Stiles looked at the kitchen occupants. He didn't want to point the obvious - his previous experiences with wolves and pack, because this pack was turning to be a very different from what the McCalls were. He decided to take Mathew's advise to heart and re-learn everything wolf and pack related from scratch.

"So" Talia turned to him "What do you want to study at college?"

Stiles face scrunched again, and Peter licked his palm in attempt to comfort him.

"Yeah, that's a no-go now, I guess" he dismissed his previous plans "I need to think about it."

At his Alpha raised eyebrow he elaborated.

"I wanted to go into forensics. It's kind of a Stilinski's thing - being law enforcement. Dad can trace it back six generations. Police officers, detectives, investigators, at least one Stilinski per generation had been involved in law enforcement somehow. But..." he hesitated for a bit. "I'm not sure... wait, no, that's not right... I am sure I can't work under my Dad. Not now. May be not ever. And being around Jordan Parish is hard for me."

"What's your deal with this Jordan guy anyway? From what I've seen of him, he's a decent person" Alan asked.

Stiles huffed.

"Jordan is a decent person, but I'm not. Don't growl at me, mister" he admonished Peter who was showing how displeased he was with this statement. "I know how I am. Jordan is... Jordan is everything my dad wish I was, and I'm not. He's my replacement."

Talia flashed her red eyes at him.

"Stiles, that is not true. That is your prospective on a difficult situation you have been put in. You are making conclusions and assumptions without having all the facts, and more important - your father's prospective."

Stiles gave his Alpha a long look.

"That's the truth from where I stand, Alpha." he said finally.

"That may be," Talia allowed, ",but there is more then one side in this picture. You love your father, right? Despite his shortcomings?"

Stiles nodded silently.

"Does it occur to you that the same might be said for him?" the Alpha asked.

Stiles pinched the bridge of his nose.

"People are not obligated to love their children, Alpha. Look at what Isaac's father did to him. Look at Scott's sperm donor. Dad takes care of me, that's true, but that doesn't mean he loves me. I'm pretty sure he doesn't even like me at the moment. I'm more trouble than I'm worth to him- no, I am, there are too much bad history there, I am!" he insisted when he saw that Talia was going to protest, so Talia stayed silent for a moment.

"At some point in the future," she said finally "when you had the chance to regain your balance and had some therapy, I want you to sit down with your father and talk. For now some time apart will do both of you some good. Tailor will go to him later this morning, after you sign the papers and Mathew and Derek will go and collect your stuff from the house."

Stiles blushed.

"Uhm... I better go with them. They are some... hidden items... that I don't want my dad to see, and I've hidden them well. Like the illegal gun. And other things, not safe for werewolves."

Talia smiled at him.

"That's why I'm sending a wolf and a human to your house, Stiles. One can find the stuff, the other can handle them. And I think facing your father today is too soon".

That was the moment Alan's cell-phone rang and everybody turned to him with surprised expressions, because of the ring tone.

Alan went outside before taking the call for some semblance of privacy, but there was pit of dread in his stomach.

His brother called out of the blue only if something bad was happening.

Alan picked up with an anxious "Nick, what's wrong?"

There was a long pause on the other end, only harsh breathing.

"You need to come get me, Lyoshka." his brother's voice rasped. "I want to come home".

Alan's face went white as a sheet.

"What happened?" he managed.

"Yuri's dead." and the line disconnected.

 

***

 

What happened after the surprised phone call was a blur of activities that left Stiles baffled of what was going on, but the peaceful mansion suddenly exploded with action. Talia locked herself in her study, Peter shifted back to human and went to his own rooms, so did Alan, Julia, Mathew and newly awakened Laura and Tailor, all glued to their phones, and Stiles was left out to fend for himself.

He could clearly tell by the grim and stormy expressions that something bad was happening, but decided to stay out of everybody's way and help anyway he could. He started cooking food for the entire pack, because obviously no one else was going to, everybody were too preoccupied with the aftermath of the phone call.

It was greatly appreciated, but a pack member would just pop into the kitchen, grab something to eat, thank Stiles profusely, and disappear again.

Then it was another blur of activities - it seemed like entire pack, Stiles included, was going somewhere, but when Stiles tried to ask Peter what was happening, his mate just kissed him on the forehead and said "Tailor will explain everything on the plain."

Tailor did explained everything on the plain, and not only to Stiles, but to Erica and Boyd, who showed up at the airport, bewildered and wary, alongside Chris and four hunters, and an unknown elderly Alpha of far-east descent, with three of her betas. Stiles was startled by that, he had no idea there was another pack near by. And what the Hell an Argent had to do with something that was, apparently, werewolf business.

Evidently, the entire pack was going to Alaska, and bringing allies as a show of strength.

Tailor switched places with Derek, who had the seat next to Stiles, as soon as the plain took off the ground.

"This is a long and complicated story, but I'll give you the cliff notes" he begun.

"My dad was born Aleksandr Anatoliev - an American from Russian immigrants descent. Father has a fraternal twin - Nickolay," Tailor went on with the explanation, as Stiles listened silently. ",who is human. He is... was mated to the Left Hand of the Volkov pack, the largest pack in Alaska, and the second largest pack in the States. The largest pack in the states is the Chicago pack, which is where dad and uncle Nick are initially from. Dad and Uncle Nick have four older siblings, who are actually the ruling Inner Circle of the Chicago pack. They are very close. You know about the twin's mental link? Well, they have something similar. The Chicago pack is not a good pack, and the Anatolievi, dad's birth family, are not a good family. They have close connection with the Russian mob in Chicago and are often hired as muscle in their deals. Weapons, drugs, prostitution, that sort of thing. Uncle Nick is the only born human in the family and his childhood was... Lets say he didn't have one, and by extension - Dad too. Things turned really bad for uncle Nick when the rest of the family found out he was gay. They almost killed him. Dad grabbed him and ran away. They changed their names, and were constantly on the run from the rest of the family, until they ended in Canada, where Uncle Nick met his mate, Yuri Volkov. Now, the Volkovi are also from Russian descent, but they are very different from Dad's family. They are good people. Actually, uncle Yuri was my favorite uncle after uncle Peter. He was ... larger than life - big, and loud, and full of joy. He wasn't prejudiced toward humans, and gay men, and was really happy when he found uncle Nick. The Volkovi took both uncle and Dad in, gave them a real home for the first time in their lives. Dad says that was the first time he felt really safe in his life - there, with the Volkov pack. And they have the numbers to stand their ground against the Anatolievi when they finally caught up with the runaways. They called Mom and Deuc's packs for backup, and that's how Dad met Mom. Both father and uncle Nick wanted nothing to do with their family and they both took their mates' names. Actually, Dad and Uncle legally disowned all connections to the rest of their kin. Now, both the Chicago pack and the Volkov packs are so large, that they are on the cusp of splitting. But the Chicago pack is ruled as a dictatorship, all potential trouble makers are weeded out, as the Volkov pack is ruled like any normal pack in the US. People are allowed to have their opinions, and question the Alpha's decisions and all that. But they were mostly family oriented pack, at least at it's core. Uncle Yuri's brothers are the Alpha, the Second and the Enforcer, and Aunt Lena - their sister - is the Peacemaker, just like it's in the Hale pack. From what Mom managed to gather, another fraction of the pack had managed to overthrow the Volkov family and split the pack with the help of the Anatolievi, which never gave up on their grudge against Dad and Uncle Nick, and the McIntosh and Calavera's hunting clans. It was an inside job. The families loyal to the Volkovs are sticking with their Alpha, but the Volkov pack lost two thirds of their members to the newly formed Anderson Pack."

"Wait!" Stiles interrupted the story "How come it was an inside job? How can one split packs? Doesn't a pack need an Alpha? How come this new Anderson Pack has an Alpha if the Volkov Alpha is alive?"

Tailor smiled at him.

"To become an Alpha one needs to have the Alpha's potential and enough followers to ignite it. It's different from becoming a True Alpha - something achieved by force of will and strength of character. This is achieved by gaining submission. If enough omegas manage to form a pack, with stable enough pack bonds and anchors, one of them, who gains the submission of all others can rise to a real Alpha."

"But," Stiles interrupted again "I thought that the Alpha status could be obtained only via inheriting it, stealing it or by becoming a True Alpha."

Tailor sighed.

"Stiles, think about it. If the Alpha status is gained only by those means, it means that the Alpha power is a finite resource. Which means the number of pack is finite. True Alphas are really rare, they are not common enough to cover all the new packs springing around the world. And the bigger the pack is the harder it is to control. Packs split all the time. If you start with a small pack like the McCalls pack, and every family has, lets say three or four children, and every child has three children of their own, a few generations down the road you will end up with a very large pack that is about to split. And that's without counting anyone bitten in the meantime. Werewolves are social creatures, forming a pack is in their nature, and despite the attempts of the Hunters to cull down their numbers, there is at least one new functional pack forming somewhere on the Globe every year."

Stiles thought about it and saw the reason behind Tailor's logic.

"Sounds logical" he admitted. "So, this Anderson guy had the Alpha potential?"

Tailor growled almost like a wolf.

"No. He stole it from uncle Yuri. The Alpha potential is similar to the Alpha power. All the Volkov brothers have it. He killed uncle Yuri for the potential to became Alpha."

Stiles' face paled at the implications of that.

"So, what, are we going to war or something?" he asked weakly.

Tailor smiled viciously.

"No. We are going to get uncle Nick, to show a huge middle finger to the Anatolievi, who apparently showed up to retrieve their 'long-lost prodigal son', and we are declaring blood feud to the Anderson pack. And then we are going home. When dust settles, uncle Peter and uncle Nick will quietly retaliate, when the Anderson pack least expects it. And, knowing uncle Peter - Anatolievi will fair no better. Him and uncle Yuri were very close. But uncle Nick is our first priority right now."

Stiles frowned at that. He had never met this Yuri guy, but leaving things the way they were wasn't sitting well with him. If someone did something like that to him or his close ones, he would have burned the whole world down.

"So, we're doing nothing, is this it?" he demanded.

Tailor sighed.

"Stiles, we are stepping in what is essentially a civil war zone. The Volkovi and the Andersons will be killing each other for decades from now on. And the Andersons have both Hunter and werewolf support. This is how it's done. We don't have any direct stake in this, except uncle Nick. We don't have the numbers for open war with two huge packs."

Stiles settled in his seat unhappily, but then another question crossed his mind.

"Is this the way it always goes when the packs split?" he asked.

Tailor laughed without humor.

"Not at all," he said. "Things like this happen once in a century or so. The splits are mostly amicable, and in most cases both splits of the original pack end up as close allies."

Stiles had another question.

"Did the Hale pack ever split?" he turned to Tailor again.

"Three times since fourteenth century. All peaceful, altho the other packs reside still in Europe." he smiled at the stunned expression of the young man.

"Wow!" Stiles whispered. "So, you guys, like, have distant cousins in Europe? Do you keep in touch?"

"Very distant" Tailor conformed "And yes, but mostly out of courtesy. The other three packs are pretty close, though. We are the odd one out."

"So there are Hales in Europe? Astonishing!"

Tailor laughed.

"No, the packs changed names as the time passed. Two of the female alphas took their husbands' names, and the third passed the alpha power to a non-family member."

Stiles gaped.

"But why?!"

Tailor shrugged.

"The Alpha was the last of that particular branch and had no children."

 

 

***

 

The plane landed in Anchorage, but the Pack summit happened three hour drive north of there, at the outskirts of the town of Petersville.

Stiles was left at the far back of the Beacon Hills delegation with Mathew and Julia with the strict instruction in no circumstances to draw attention to himself, although Tailor, Erica and Boyd had front seat for the entire thing.

Another big surprise was that another hunter clan showed up, and the Stiles realized, stunned, that the delegation was allying themselves with the Hale pack's representatives and it was let by Victoria Mays, former Argent - Allison's mother. Evidently, the Mays clan was showing support for the Argents, or at least Chris had asked for a personal favor. Victoria and Chris acted cordial but distant to each other, which didn't surprise Stiles in the slightest. From what he knew from Allison, the divorce was amicable, but no love was lost there since the marriage between the Argent and the Mays clans was a marriage of convenience. In rare moment of vulnerability Allison had shared with the McCall pack that neather her father nor her mom had a soul mate. To say that the Calaveras were displeased was putting it mildly.

Alan demanded his brother to be released to his custody, to which the Anatolievi representatives just laughed and demanded the same, stating that they were more and better equipped to support a relative who just had lost his soul mate, to which Talia took offence.

Stiles, however, could hardly tear his eyes out from the slumped figure sitting in the middle between the two groups. The man's face was pale, his eyes - empty. He just sat quiet there, distant, like nothing of importance was happening around him. He raised his head once and Stiles saw the deep shadows beneath his eyes. When their eyes met, Stiles couldn't suppress a shiver. This man reminded him all too well of empty whisky bottles, rage outburst, and empty houses.

The tempers were rising higher and higher and Stiles thought that the whole meeting will turn into a blood bath, until Deucalion and Kali showed up. That tipped the scales in favor of the Hales. No one was crazy enough to mess with the Demon Wolf.

Nick Volkov was given to the Hale pack. Alan crossed the distance and help his brother to stand up. The man turned and gave a long look to the newly minted Anderson Alpha. Stiles couldn't see the look in his eyes, but the weasel-faced man flashed red eyes at the former Volkovs' human. Stiles didn't need to see Volkov's eyes to know what was in them - a promise for vengeance. Stiles approved.

Then Peter Hale took a step forward and spoke clearly so he was heard by everyone.

"The Hale Pack declares blood feud to the Anderson Pack, their followers and their allies. Those, who dared to rise a hand at a friend of the Hale pack will feel the full brunt of the gale that is coming for you all. Whoever gives them aid, will pay in blood. Whoever gives them shelter, will pay in blood. Whoever gives them food, will pay in blood. Hale pack remembers."

Stiles shivered again and for the first time he realized clearly who and what his soul mate was. He wondered if all Left Hands were this sinister, or it was just his mate.

Three hours later the Hale pack delegation and their allies were on the plain back to California.

The entire time the Volkov man hadn't said a word, and Stiles couldn't get the image of his father after his mother's death out of his head.

Chapter Text

The plane landed in Redding, and the Hale delegation exited in the crisp evening air. Stiles immediately felt uneasy, and he thought he knew why. This was an old, familiar feeling.

Julia, Mathew, Laura and couple of members of the extended Hale pack excused themselves and went to retrieve the cars. There was an hour and a half drive ahead of them.

The newcomer had latched at Alan's hand and had yet to let go, but Peter was helping the man with a steadying hand on his other side. Stiles watched from the fringes of the group his Alpha's mate and his own trying to support a man who's world just had crashed and burned.

Nick Volkov was not making eye contact with anyone, and rarely responded - with occasional nod or a shake of his head. Peter was constantly looking over his shoulder to make sure his own mate was all right. Derek stayed glued to Stiles side, apparently tasked with keeping the human safe.

But there was no such thing as safe, was there? - Stiles thought uncharitably, listening to Cora's lament few feet away from him, crying in Tailor's shoulder.

"He was all right a few months ago!" she was saying. "He was all right a week ago, when he called Mom, and talked with me! I can't believe he's gone!"

Stiles wanted to tell her this is how life works - one second you're there, the next second - you aren't. Death doesn't happen to people who die. Death happens to those left to morn the loss of a love one.

Stiles had the sudden urge to hear his father's voice.

"Can I borrow your phone?" he asked Derek. The man silently handed it to him, question in his eyes but not voicing it.

Stiles called the land line on his house. His father should have left for work already, so...

"You reached the Stilinskis' household. We are not available at the moment. Please, leave a message" the answering machine told him with his father's voice. Stiles hung up and handed the phone back to Derek.

Talia was talking to the other Alpha and her betas, thanking her for the support. The Argents had already left. Erica and Boyd walked to the exit, where Jordan Parish was waiting for them in uniform. Evidently, he hadn't have time to go home and change after the end of his shift. A sudden tug in Stiles heart almost made him walk over and make small talk with his former pack members, may be even catch a lift with them, rekindle the friendship that was never there on the first place. Even with Jordan. Whatever was going on between Stiles and his father, it wasn't Jordan's fault. The urge to get near his old pack was getting stronger, probably fired by the very damaged man several yards behind him. Although the Hales would have a field day with that, if Stiles went through with it. Erica, Boyd and Jordan exchanged a few words as Stiles watched them from a far, then Erica turned to meet Stiles eyes, waved and they left. That was that then.

One by one the pack cars started to appear.

Tailor and another three Hale went with Julia first. Stiles thought absentmindedly that now, that he didn't have his crime board at hand, he had to learn the names of the extended Hale pack. He also registered that Cora and a couple of other pack members weren't with them on the in prompt trip to Alaska, probably staying with the children, but she had been waiting for them at the airport and hugged her uncle really hard. The man hadn't hugged back, Stiles had noted. He probably didn't know how.

Mathew get out of the car he drove, so did Laura, and Talia, Alan, Peter and Nick got into Mathew's SUV. Laura threw her keys at Derek and ran to catch a ride with her mother's group.

Stiles wanted to hold back. He didn't want to go with the Hales. He didn't want to go anywhere near the Volkov man. He regretted not taking his jeep to the airport. He felt... distant... probably hurt. Was he jealous that his mate was showering a stranger with affection? Then why did he felt distant? Stiles tried hard to analyze his feelings, because something didn't fit. Jealousy was a hot emotion. Stiles felt cold, had felt cold the whole day - ever since the morning phone call. Why does he want to be away from the Hales? Because of the Volkov man reminded him so much of his own father after his mom's death? Was this it? Yes, it was, but that wasn't all of it. And the uneasy feeling was grading on him.

A hand at his back startled Stiles and he jumped. Derek was watching him carefully.

"We need to go" the werewolf said lowly, offering the keys for the black sport's car to Stiles as a piece offering. "otherwise uncle Peter will have my hide. Want to drive?"

Stiles nodded and the two of them went toward the car.

Their path, however was cut short by no other then Deucalion, who nodded at Derek, but his eyes were fixed on Stiles.

"Congratulation on finding your mate, Young one." the British Alpha had the horrible habit of calling Stiles that.

Stiles grimaced.

"Thanks, your Deamonship", he retorted sarcasm dripping from every syllable, "I'll be sure to pass your good wishes to my mate."

Derek was horrified at the level of disrespect Stiles was displaying, but Deucalion just chuckled. Then he smiled at Stiles fondly.

"You garnered unwanted attention at the Summit, Young one." He said and patted Stiles on the shoulder. "Lets see how you going to get out of this one," before Derek could ask what the Demon Wolf meant, he was gone.

And everything came into focus for Stiles.

He swore.

"I should have caught a ride with Erica and Boyd" the human murmured and then strode with determination toward the car. Black, black was good. Black would get them out of this mess. Fuck, his feelings were all over the place!

Derek hurried to catch up with him.

"What was that?" he demanded from the human.

"That, my dear Nephew," Stiles said in such a perfect imitation of Peter that Derek recoiled ", is what people call 'a warning'."

There was another Hale car waiting for them to go on the road. That wouldn't do, wouldn't do at all.

"Derek, do as I say. I will explain everything, but don't argue with me right now, please." Stiles said calmly. Too calmly. "Text them not to follow us, and to go to Beacon. Then text Laura that we are going on a detour to Red Bluf. Ask her not to tell Peter, because he will go ballistic. Now get in."

Derek get into the passenger seat of the Camaro and Stiles drove them South instead of East.

Derek's phone went crazy with texts.

"Everybody want to know what is going on" he complained, but went on with everything Stiles had said, because the young man was emitting the aura of dangerous, confident competence his uncle had when he was on 'the job'.

"What's going on is all my censes are screaming at me that someone is watching us. Or, more accurately, me." Stiles explained coolly, driving five miles above the speed limit - eyes darting between the road ahead and the rear-view mirror. "Peter was too careful at the summit. He shouldn't have left me at the back with Mathew. I should have been in the middle, with the extended pack. Or with Erica and Boyd at the front. I was standing next to the Alpha's sister human mate at the very back. Who am I, to garner such protection?"

A dawning realization crossed Derek's face.

"Oh, fuck me!" he swore and started to turn back to look, but Stiles snapped at him.

"No!" he said harshly. "You don't look back, you don't look around. When you know you have been watched, you focus on the people you know around you, not on your surroundings! You use all your other senses to scan the crowd. You don't give away you're caught onto them - whoever 'them' are." he explained. "Were there any strange wolves at the airport?" he asked next.

"I don't know" Derek sank in his seat guiltily "I didn't noticed. We need uncle Peter, he would know. Or Mom."

"Peter will go nuts if he gets wind of this. Wheedle Laura to ask your Mom without drawing Peter's attention."

"How the heck am I supposed to do that?" Derek snapped at him. He was getting tenser and tenser.

"I don't know, Derek, she is your sister, not mine. Tell her what's going on if you have to, but for God sake, keep them on route. We don't need the people that most certainly following them catch on what are we doing, because they will call our tail and we are going to be in big shit!"

Derek looked scared.

"We have a tail?" he asked weekly.

"Middle lane, three cars back, and left lane, seven cars back" Stiles answered with almost unnatural calmness. "Just pray they are not that much of a professionals to switch tails mid-run. We need to shake them in Red Bluff. Or somewhere on the road to Hamilton or Chico, but I'm not in the mood to drive all night. Thank God your car has its tank full, all we need to do is stop for gas right now!"

After tense fifteen minutes of driving on the highway Derek broke the silence unsurely.

"Uhm... Stiles? Uncle Peter caught on. He says no one is following them as far as he can tell, but they are splitting the convoy nontheless".

"Damn it, Peter, I had it under control!" Stiles swore and hit the steering wheel. Sure enough, one tail took a left turn and went to trail presumably someone else. Shit! This meant Peter or any other Hale couldn't detect the people following them for whatever reason.

Stiles swore again.

"This means they have your plate numbers and a list of the vehicles registered to the different members of the pack. Which means they have both pack knowledge and access to police records. Tell Laura to ask Peter directly about strange wolves at Redding."

"Already did - he says no, which mean those are hunters." Derek sounded almost proud of his initiative.

"Great!" Stiles swore again.

"Why are we going to Red Bluff in the first place?" Derek asked. "With the Camaro we wouldn't have any troubles catching on to the convoy" he added.

Stiles contemplated how to put his instincts into words. His gut was telling him to distance himself from the Hales, but why he couldn't explain logically. Or may be he could...

"I'd rather not put a neon sign over my head with an arrow pointing at me that says 'Hale pack' in bold letters." he started. "This doesn't feel like a trap or an ambush, this feels like an reconnaissance. I'd rather whoever is following us doesn't find out about me being from Beacon Hills two days after I found out I'm your Left Hand's mate."

"They will find out eventually" Derek pointed out reasonably.

Stiles nodded in agreement.

"Yes, but I prefer to be found out in a month or two, not right away."

Derek mulled this over.

"Gut feeling?" he asked eventually.

"Gut feeling" Stiles conformed and to his surprise, Derek nodded with understanding.

Then Stiles thought of something else.

He fished his phone out of his pocket and handed it to Derek.

"Copy most of the pack contacts in here. We need to get rid of your phone. If they have police access, they are probably tracking you by it. We are losing them in Red Bluf. Use your phone to rent a room at a B&B, second floor if possible, facing the front of the building. Just pray we don't have a tracker put on the car somewhere."

Derek rewarded this pearl of wisdom with a long look.

"You are one paranoid bad-ass-wanna-be, aren't you?" he asked in the end.

Stiles gave him an all-knowing smirk.

"It's not paranoia when they are out to get you!" he said mock-haughtily.

Derek had a sudden revelation.

"You are enjoying this!" he accused the human. "You are insane!"

Stiles just laughed at him. He could do nothing else. It was either laugh like a maniac or curl into a fetal position and cry like a baby at this point.

 

***

 

The tense feeling that started as soon as they were off the plain didn't left Stiles all the way to Red Bluff. They checked in the B&B, went into their room, faked a going to bed routine, turned off the lights and settled to watch the front of the inn through the window.

"Damn," Stiles said suddenly "We should have made out or something! Acted like a couple, some shadow-play in front of the window."

Derek looked at him horrified.

"Are you insane?!" he demanded. "Peter will eviscerate me!"

"If they think I'm your boyfriend they would have lost interest pretty fast." Stiles shrugged "It's totally worth it. And it will confuse them when the rumor mill reach them with the news of me - being Peter's supposed mate." he thought about it and added. "And you would have healed."

Derek glared at him.

"You are an asshole and I hate you," he declared.

Stiles chortled.

"I love you too, kitten".

Derek growled at him.

"You need to work on that growl, if you want to scare anything bigger than a rabbit. Now shut up and watch the nice hunters camping in their car." he admonished.

Some fifteen minutes later Stiles pondered an idea out loud, almost giving Derek an aneurysm.

"Do you think those two... or three, or however many are in the car know anything useful?"

Suddenly Derek had a very vivid image in his head of Stiles dragging three bound and gagged hunters in the pack house and the consequences from this particular action.

"Why do you hate me so much?!" he groaned "What have I ever done to you?!"

Stiles just chuckled and said nothing.

Derek glared at him.

"I'd like to see you pull this shit with uncle Peter" he muttered darkly.

It was an hour later when Stiles looked at his phone and saw it was half past two a.m. already. He sat his phone on silent, and smirked at Derek.

"Give me your phone" he demanded and Derek reluctantly passed the device on. Stiles video-called himself from Derek's phone and put it at the window, so the video-feed will show the car of the hunters. They were going to need surveillance for this stunt, and what better way to do it than with the device they were leaving behind.

"Watch and learn, fur-face" the human smirked at the wolf and pulled out four zip-lock bags with mountain ash in them.

"I might be a one-trick-pony" he said to the werewolf, "but this trick I own".

The mountain ash exploded out of the bags and created two clouds - one, surrounding Derek, the other - surrounding Stiles. For an outside observer where two men previously stood, now there were two patches of darkness. Stiles moved, and the cloud of ash moved with him. Derek experimentally moved his hand. He wasn't trapped. Instead his cloud was moving with him, covering his movements from outside view. Stiles opened the window and snuck quietly out. Derek followed. Stiles reached back so his cloud of ash was touching Derek's.

"No one can see or hear us" he explained. "This I call a cloaking shield. It's supposed to be impossible, but according to Deaton, working with ash is a matter of imagination. Well, I have one Hell of an imagination!" he grinned proudly.

They silently moved down to the parking lot and Stiles produced yet eight more bags of ash seemingly from nowhere. Three he dumped on the Camaro and the powder coalesced into a cloud around it. The other five he dumped on the ground and the ash formed a cloud, resembling the silhouette of the parked car.

Stiles broke contact between his cloud and Derek's and Derek realized with astonishment that he couldn't see, or hear or smell or sense the human. Where Stiles was standing a second ago were standing just a cluster of unintelligible shadows.

Stiles meanwhile opened the door of the Camaro and put the car in neutral, then got out and reached to make contact with Derek.

"Push the car out of the parking lot and down the road. Just push, I'll steer. When we are far enough I'll drop the ash shields. Then get in and drive us back to Beacon. I'll probably be fast asleep in minutes. I'll be okay, don't worry." he reassured "Holding so much ash will tire me quickly, and I'll need sleep. Oh, if my heartbeat spikes up, shake me up or something, I'll be having a nightmare, so wake me up fast, okay?"

Then he thought of something and added.

"If they find out your phone, they'll have my number too and will be able to trace me as well. Call me paranoid, but I don't trust these bastards one bit. Throw away my phone somewhere on the way to Beacon, about an hour in the drive. Go!"

Then he dove in the car and sat behind the wheel.

Derek went to the back of the vehicle, careful to maintain contact between his shield and the car's, braised himself and start pushing. The car moved easily. He pushed the car about a half mile down the road and wondered why Stiles needed him to push the car at all, instead of just driving away. He reminded himself to ask the human when he woke up. Then the clouds collapsed suddenly and the ash fell to the side of the road in a neat line.

Derek went to the driver's seat and after looking inside the car, saw Stiles curled on one side on the passenger's seat - fast asleep.

Derek got in the car, checked the video feed from the phone he left behind - the hunters were still there watching the B&B. The wolf shot a quick text to Laura, telling they were on their way back to Beacon and that they won't be having their phones with them soon, and started the Camaro.

The drive back home to Beacon was uneventful. Derek tried hard to spot someone following him, but he either suck at it big time, or no one was following. Besides, the tense feeling of danger that was plaguing him all day long dissipated as soon as he left Red Bluf behind.

Derek parked the Camaro at the Hale house at almost six in the morning and carried the sleeping Stiles up to the boy's rooms. He had waken him up from the nightmares only two times on the way.

Passing the living room he saw his entire pack in their wolf forms, cuddled in a puppy-pile in front of the TV around uncle Nick, who looked actually worse than the day before.

At the sound of his feet both his Mother, his Father and Peter raised their heads.

"We will talk tomorrow" he told them then nodded to Stiles. "I'm going to stay with him and watch his sleep. He has nightmares."

The wolves huffed acknowledgement and went back to dozing.

Derek went up the stairs with his precious cargo. The Hale pack let out a collective breath of relief. Their pack members were out of the woods. Turns out, they were wrong.

 

 

***

 

Derek managed to wake up Stiles from his nightmares three more times. The forth time, however, Stiles' sleep adult brain refused to wake up, no matter how much or how hard Derek shook him.

Stiles was crying in his sleep, and pleading with people that weren't there, calling for his mother, begging his father to stop whatever he was doing... Derek never had felt so helpless in his entire life.

Finally he jumped off the bed, threw the door open and yelled for his uncle and Malia.

The huge wolf that was his uncle was there in seconds, snarling and growling, and Malia came running and shifted into her coyote form as soon as she saw the curled crying human on the bed.

His uncle was barking and snarling at his mate, to no avail, Malia's efforts to wake Stiles up were all in vain.

Talia appeared at the door, naked, and used her Alpha voice on the human, trying to wake him up.

Which it did. Stiles woke up from the nightmare just to have a full blown panic attack and almost passed out from hyperventilation. Despite Talia's, Peter's, Malia's and Derek's best efforts it took them almost an hour to calm Stiles down.

Which turned up to be not a good thing at all. He locked himself into the bathroom for another hour and when he came out, he had reverted to non-verbal answers and wasn't able to look anybody in the eyes. He shied away from Talia's wolf form, and flinched every time Peter or Derek's wolves touched him, but in the end reluctantly accepted their attention.

Malia was beside pissed at the world in general and wanted to bite someone just to get her frustration out. Derek understood her perfectly.

 

***

 

Tailor's first official pack meeting - to which Melissa McCall personally invited him, happened on the next Thursday, two days after the Hale pack rushed to Alaska to retrieve his uncle Nick.

Tailor thanked the thoughtfulness of the McCall's other pack human and peace maker to postpone the meeting as far as possible, no doubt his new Alpha would have demanded answers immediately, but the small reprieve had given the Hales the chance to breath and settle their newest, grieving pack member somewhat.

Melissa had asked if she could have a copy of the reading materials Talia had given the Sheriff for herself and Nathalie Martin - apparently Noah Stilinski had shared some of his newly-acquired knowledge with her.

Tailor entered the McCall house, nodded to everyone sitting in the living room - the entire McCall pack, plus Mrs. Martin, the Sheriff, Chris Argent and Dr. Deaton, and went straight to his new alpha for the customary scent-marking.

This time Alpha McCall didn't recoil from him and somewhat hesitantly scented his neck. Tailor decided to be petty and not go for scent-marking to the Alpha's mates. He gave Mrs. McCall and Mrs. Martin the folders his sister had printed for them and took the only empty chair in the room, positioned in the center of the pack circle. Tailor wondered if this deliberate sitting was about interrogation or pack protection, but considering the McCall's general obliviousness on all the werewolf matters, and the positions of the humans in the room, it was going to be the former.

Never mind, Tailor didn't mind answering some questions and there were some matters of relative importance he needed to state in front of the McCall pack.

"How's your uncle settling in?" Melissa McCall asked for an opening question.

Tailor sighed.

"Okay, I guess. Mother had decided to prolong the suicide watch to a week, not only the customary seventy-two hours. He's still irresponsive, but doesn't shy away from touch from Father, or Peter, or the children in human form. This is actually better than I expected, because he accepts attention from everyone in full wolf form." he added.

"Uhm... full wolf form?" Isaac Lahey asked.

Tailor raised his eye-brows.

"Yes?" he answered the question with the question, although he knew the McCall pack didn't know werewolves can shift into actual wolves. "You know, when you are turning into wolves?"

Shocked gasps all around.

"Wait, wait!" demanded Erica "Are you telling me that we can shift into actual wolves?" she furrowed her browse at Deaton, Chris Argent and set finally at Allison in accusation. The huntress squirmed uncomfortably but said nothing.

"Like in four legs, fur, tail, all that?" Erica demanded.

"Uhm... yes" Tailor played the perplexed human very well "I assumed you knew..."

"No, we didn't!" Isaac was glaring at his mate as well "No one deemed to inform us it is possible. Did you know about this, Scott?"

The Alpha shifted uncomfortably.

"Dr. Deaton and Allison told me a few months ago." he started reluctantly "I have been trying to shift fully, but with no success. I thought when I get the hang of it, I could teach you guys. It's hard. One needs a stable anchor, a strong pack and his soul mate or mates to be able to pull it off".

Tailor looked at Deaton speculatively. He couldn't prove it, but he suspected foul play. It was too convenient tool for the vet to pass it over. Tool to perpetuate the True Alpha story. Then he looked speculatively at the Argents. Hm, the Sheriff was sitting at the opposite wall of the room from Chris. Tailor wondered what was this about.

"Stiles never said it was possible" Lydia Martin decided to butt in primly with her apparently usual high-and-mighty attitude.

Tailor turned to her.

"Stiles didn't know. He apparently didn't came across it in his research, or if it did, didn't understand the full meaning of it." Tailor said coolly "First, Stiles is human, and second, he could be easily misled when he had gone with questions to the experts in this room".

He let his statement settle in and enjoyed the glances Deaton and Chris were getting.

"Research was Stiles domain! That's what he was for!" Lydia snapped, deciding that picking a fight with the non-present human would divert some negative attention from Allison, but Tailor had a surprise for her.

"And you are here to look pretty, and not use the brain God has given you, is that it?" he snapped right back at her, which earned him growls from all the wolves for attacking their pack member, but this didn't deter Tailor. "I'm really disappointed in you, Miss Martin. A pack member value is about his character, not about what he can do for the pack. This is not High School when you bully the nerd kid to let you copy his homework and then discard him like a used tissue when you have no more use of him! I'm really disappointed in your attitude and the attitude of this pack toward a pack member, former he might be!"

The tension in the room rose several degrees while every single pack member was staring daggers in Tailor.

"You seem to forget" Scott McCall said lowly "that you are McCall pack now, and you need to stop acting like a Hale pack member."

Tailor turned to him and tilted his head, showing throat but contradicted him non-the-less.

"I am McCall pack, Alpha, but my Mother will never stop being my mother, and my Father will never stop being my father. I love my family and all my siblings, and this will never change. I'll still go to Sunday Lunch with my family. This is the essence of human pack exchanges. They are supposed to bring the pack closer. I'm supposed to breach the McCall pack and the Hale family. This is why I was traded to you, and let me tell you, you might not valued Stiles and was even glad to get rid of him, but I was and still am highly valued in my family. Stiles is my uncle's soul mate, and he is my family by extension. He has my protection and support, no matter what, because now he's family, too." Tailor ended up with, starting to loose his temper. He looked around the room and noted the pale, angry face of the Sheriff who was looking daggers at Scott McCall for some reason. "I have no pack bonds forged with this pack yet. When I do, then I'll decide which side in an argument I will take - pack or family. I'm human. You, accepting me in the pack means nothing to me until you prove yourself worthy to my loyalty and friendship."

Dead silence fell into the McCall's living room, while Tailor stared down his new Alpha, the very same way Stiles had stared down Laura a few days back.

Natalie Martin broke the silence.

"I thought the pack members are picked by what they can contribute to the pack. Isn't that so?" she inquired.

Tailor smiled at her.

"No, Mrs. Martin. Picking a pack member for their contribution and skill comes very close to exploiting them. This is how bad packs operate, like Philadelphia pack or the Chicago pack. A real pack pick its members on the account how good they fit with rest of the pack - the personal relations and friendships, built with the members of the pack. The contributions comes next and is voluntary. Let's say I was born with Down syndrome. If what you said was true, I can't contribute to my pack in any useful way, no monetarily or with knowledge. I would have been cut from the pack, which is a thought no decent pack would even contemplate to do to a child or an adult."

Tailor let the McCall pack mull this over. At the end it was the Sheriff who spoke.

"You mentioned the Chicago pack. Erica, Boyd and Chris told us what had happened. How likely is there to be imminent retaliation for snatching your uncle Nick from their grasp?" the man asked.

Tailor thought about it.

"Direct conflict is out of the question at the moment - since Deucalion, Kali and Satomi Ito showed their support to the Hales claim. Deucalion and Kali are feared in our world and Satomi is very well respected. She's the oldest werewolf and oldest Alpha alive. Ito pack are our neighbors to the east, and they are a big pack - this is too close for comfort for the Anatolievi. What the Chicago pack would most probably do is what they did with the Volkov's pack - they will try to influence the McCall pack and sow dissension between the Hales and McCall, so the territory would get unstable enough so when they show up, there won't be much opposition." Tailor explained "Divide and conquer" is how they operate".

The Sheriff frowned.

"From what I understand, there were no Volkov's representatives at the summit, and your uncle was in the hands of the Anderson pack. Why didn't they simply handed him to the Chicago pack representatives."

Tailor smiled.

"If it was up to them, they most probably would have. But uncle Nick was snatched by McIntosh hunter's clan. McIntosh clan are zealots. The only good supernatural is the dead supernatural. They were banking on luring the Hale pack in Alaska so the Hales and Allied packs and the Andersons would kill each other so they would take out the winner. The McIntosh clan is surrounded from three sides by hunter that are itching to take them out, they can't afford to step a toe out of line." Tailor explained. "That's why they instigated the split of the Volkov's pack from behind the scenes. If the Volkov's representatives had shown up it would all had turned into a bloodbath, and the Volkovs don't have the numbers to win such a fight. It's going to be guerilla warfare for the Volkov pack from now on." The newest member of the McCall pack continued. "At the same time, with the Calaveras there, the McIntosh needed a provocation to open fire. The Calaveras are Old School hunters who try to keep their influence intact after the fall of the Gerard Argent's ideology, now that so many hunter clans had cleaned house. They desperately need to keep appearances. There is no love between the Calaveras and the Chicago pack, but they had made an official treaty, which 'accidentally' gives the Calaveras access to the Chicago underworld, and give the Anatolievi connections to the Mexican illegal drugs and weapons markets, and some access to human trafficking. They both would rather see the other dead, but it's a mutual beneficial to act like allies for now."

Tailor contemplated the situation for a moment.

"Kali has an old bone to pick with the Anatolievi, and despite Deucalion's... relative recovery, Kali is not all that stable. Anatolievi won't risk pissing her off, especially now, when Eniss has gone underground. There's no telling where he might surface, and those two were always close. There is a game at play here, that I'm not seeing. You should probably ask uncle Peter and uncle Nick, when he's ready to socialize, for their input. But, to answer your question, no, I don't see an immediate danger to the territory, especially since the majority of the McCall pack are about to scatter for college."

Tailor turned to his new Alpha.

"That brings me to another question I wanted to address, Alpha. Mother offered you and your pack werewolf training" with the periphery of his eyes Tailor saw both Argents brisling but ignored them. "Several pack members mentioned that they have seen you or other wolves from your pack across the street or down the road, but you didn't notice them. Derek said you haven't sensed or smelled him from fifty feet away. This is dangerous, Alpha. A rogue omega might sneak at you and steal your Alpha power. I feel it would be beneficial for everybody, especially for those who you want to keep safe, if you train your abilities - scent, hearing, sensing danger, and so on. And I feel some lessons on most common supernaturals and pack etiquette is in order. Also, you might have easer time learning the full shift from real wolves, rather than humans, who - excuse me, Miss Argent, but I need to be frank here - have no idea what it means to be a werewolf."

Scott nodded slowly for Tailor to continue.

"My Aunt Julia, Laura and Cora have volunteered to help, although Laura and Cora are a bit temperamental" Tailor paused for a second "and Mother offered some Alpha training if you feel you need it" he finished, but looked at Melissa, trying to convey with his eyes that, yes, her son very much needed it.

"The Hale pack will start patrolling the borders and scenting the territory" he continued "which will keep most of the bigger problems away, and when you and your betas learn the full shift, you can join the Hale patrols."

Scott nodded.

"We will discuss the proposition." then after a look from Melissa he added hastily. "Please thank your Mother for the offer".

Tailor smiled at the young Alpha, then turned to Deaton.

"Deaton, Mother is grateful to you for keeping an eye on the territory, and would like if you act as a temporary Hale pack Emissary until uncle Nick is well enough to take over".

Everyone watched as the face of the usually stoic druid turned into a stone mask.

He contemplated his words carefully then spoke.

"I wasn't aware that Mr. Volkov had magic abilities" he said coldly.

"He hasn't" Tailor answered coolly.

And then the entire room witnessed something they considered unthinkable - Deaton loosing his cool.

Although, loosing his cool was a relative term, the only sign of his anger were his eyes shining emerald green for a second. The temperature in the room dropped several degrees.

"Please inform your former Alpha," Deaton started cold as ice ",that if she brought a volhv in my territory, your former pack will have troubles with the Druid High Council. And, frankly," he added ", If she thinks that I'm going to let a pair of volhvs near the Nematon, then she-"

"Uncle Nick is not a volhv!" Tailor jumped on his feet, enraged by the druid's insolence "If you haven't noticed my father is a werewolf!"

"Even worse!" Deaton snapped back "an un-paired volhv is far..."

"For the last time, Uncle Nick is not a volhv!" Tailor yelled.

"Then what is he?!" Deaton voice raised as well.

"He's a drug!" Tailor barked.

"There is no such thing as drug!" the druid snapped back.

"Yes, and there is no such thing as a werewolves" Tailor mocked him.

Deaton opened his mouth to retort, but a sharp whistle made him shut it again. All the wolves cringed from the sound and everybody turned toward the Sheriff, who had jumped on his feet and took control of the situation.

"First of all - is drug Russian word?" he pointed at Tailor, demanding an answer.

"Yes, Sheriff" the man answered.

Noah Stilinski turned to Deaton.

"Drug means friend in Russian, which is something that doesn't sound hostile, so we are going to hear what Tailor has to say on the matter." He turned to Tailor again "What is a Volhv?" he asked, more quietly, but no less demanding.

"Volhvs are Russian pagan priests. They are born twins - one serves the Slavic God of Light, or Belobog, the other twin serves the God of Darkness, or Chernebog." Tailor explained. "There is long-standing feud between druids and volhves. Druids serve the balance by being impartial. Volhves are the exact opposite - partiality personified. Also, druids have magic. The volhv's powers are granted by the deities they worship. It's devine, for a lack of better word. They need to be a pair - light and dark - to balance each other." Tailor pinched the bridge of his nose "Uncle Nick is not a volhve. He doesn't have magic of his own, he is not a supernatural, he doesn't have divine powers. Drug means he attracts and befriends supernatural creatures. He's like a supernatural magnet."

Tailor took a deep breath and admitted something considered a Hale pack secret.

"Uncle Nick befriended a lyeshi and a vodyonoi in the Denali National park and he and uncle Yuri had a domovoi living with them."

"Wait!" Chris Argent jumped on his feet. "Wait! Are you saying your uncle can summon a lyeshi?" he demanded.

Tilor sighed exasperated.

"He can't summon it." he tried to explain "He can't summon anything. He just... just... whatever he has attracts whatever is there already, and they approach him. But it's not magic or divine. It's... ancestral? Inherited? I don't know how to explain it better. He can control it, but... It's a thing, but it's not magic in the druid or mages or witches sense of the word. Or he could control it before his mate bond and his pack bonds shattered. Now? His not a good place mentally, so he can't access whatever he has to attract a lyeshi's attention. Does this explains it?"

"It's called 'a spark'" Deaton decided to butt in with his all knowing and superior attitude, but Tailor wasn't having any of it.

"First my uncle was a volhve, now he's a spark? You druids can take your constant need to label things and shove it where sun doesn't shine!" he bared his teeth at the man. "It is not called anything. It's not anything you can measure or define, so don't try to put a label on it."

Deaton opened his mouth to argue, but Tailor wasn't having any of it.

"You can take your vague metaphors and answers away with you. Unless you have a clear definition for something, unless you know for certain what you're dealing with keep your all-wise advise to yourself. We can't define uncle Nick's abilities. The Volhv High Council can't define uncle Nick's abilities. Witches that had studied the Russian supernatural can't define uncle Nick's abilities. A mere druid knows next to nothing about it, so you just have the decency to keep quiet on the matter from now on!"

"What if he attracts something nasty?" the usually silent Boyd asked to defuse the confrontation and draw Tailor's attention away from their Emissary. Tailor shook his head.

"Like attracts like. Uncle Nick attracts benevolent or neutral creatures, because he's a good, benevolent person. He can't attract a demon or a red cap, or a wendigo for example - even more, his presence repels them. Besides, he's from Russian descent so he has greater affinity to creatures with Russian origins, and there aren't many Russian-origin creatures in California".

"But there are in Alaska?" Erica asked skeptically.

Tailor made a face at her.

"Let me remind you that Alaska was originally colonized by the Russians and was initially a part of the Russian Empire" he told her. "So, yes, they are lots of supernaturals from Russian origin up there."

"Astonishing!" Chris breath out. Every pair of eyes in room were fixed on him. He coughed, somewhat flustered and explained. "Lyeshies - or things of the forest - are supernatural creatures from Russian origin. They are like the Tolkien's ents - guardians of the forest. They tend to the forest and all its creatures. They are benevolent creatures that do no harm, but protect what they consider theirs. Having an lyeshi on the Preserve is a good thing. No poachers, no unsanctioned tree-cuttings, no illegal camping or other activities."

"And a lyeshi could take far better care of the Nematon than a druid." Tailor added. "And domovoi, or a 'house-thing' is the similar type of supernatural being, but it protects and takes care of the house it lives in better than any wards can. They are similar to house gnomes from Western Europe to some degree, but are more open to cohabitation with other supernatural creatures." Tailor glanced with the two Argents and added "No uninvited visitors, no one who has ill intent toward the family can enter the house, no Kate-Argent-house-fires can happen if a domovoi lives there."

"A lyeshy would cut my access to the Nematon!" Deaton argued.

"Why do you need an access to the Nematon?" Tailor shot back.

"Because the Nematon protects not only the Preserve, but the town itself, and the territories around for miles and miles!" the druid snapped.

Tailor scoffed.

"The Nematon doesn't protect anything, it's asleep and had been asleep for decades. Your druid High Council just wants an easy access to a huge source of magic power, which they can harvest from the lay lines themselves. More work? Yes, it is. But the Druid Council doesn't own the Nematon. No one does!"

"Wait!" Allison Argend butted in. "You want your uncle to invite a bunch of supernatural creatures in our territory?"

Tailor turned to her.

"In the wild a pack of wolves, a bear, a dear herd, a folk of geese, a pair of eagles, a skulk of foxes, a wolverine and a badger might consider the same land their territory. None of those species actually owns it. They all protect it and avoid each other. That's all. The wolves doesn't chase the eagles away from the land." He raised his brows at the Alpha's mate " What's your point? That different supernaturals can't live on the same land? Then chase away Miss Martin for being a banshee and Jordan Parish for being a Hell Hound."

Allison opened her mouth to retort, but Tailor waved her away.

"That's beside the point. There are going to be years and years, may be a decade even, before uncle Nick will be well enough mentally to do anything. He just lost his soul mate. Okay, he didn't eat the barrel of his own gun - yet - but there is no guarantee he will ever recover from that, despite our best efforts. This whole discussion is pointless."

This shut everybody up and there were several surreptitious glances toward the Sheriff.

"How's Stiles taking it?" it was Melissa who asked the question, but the rest of the pack rolled their eyes. The only people that seem interested in the answer were the adults - Natalie, Noah and Chris.

Tailor sighed.

"He's freaking out" he told her. There were several snorts around the room, and Parrish chuckled.

"Stiles is always freaking out".

Tailor was not amused in the slightest.

"He can't stand being in the same room with uncle Nick. Derek says he smells depressed and hurt around him" he told Melissa and everybody suddenly sobered. "He's locking himself in his rooms, and stopped talking to people again. He had opened up a smidge to the pack on Sunday and Monday, but now he reverted back to being non-verbal. He sleeps with his bat. Dad said he asked for a gun. He's spending most of his time with the children and with Malia, Derek and Peter in their wolf form. If anyone enters the room in his human form, he tenses. Uncle Peter says he wakes up several times at night from nightmares. He's not in a good place right now. Haven't approached anyone else's wolf, beside Malia, Derek and Peter, and with them he's strangely subdued. Uncle Peter is beside himself, because he wants the chance to court his mate, and his mate avoid him if he's human." Tailor shrugged. "Mother is taking him to therapy today, finger's crossed it'll help some."

Dead silence in sued.

Chapter Text

The very first thing Noah Stilinski did after he managed to get out of the McCall pack meeting was to get into his cruiser and call his son - only to find out that his son's number had been disconnected.

He fished out Talia Hale card from his wallet and called her next. The call was answered.

"Talia Hale speaking".

Noah cleared his throat.

"Hello, Alpha Hale," he started hesitantly "this is Noah Stilinski, Stiles' father."

There was a pause on the other end of the line, then Talia asked curtly.

"Hello, Sheriff. What can I do for you?".

Noah took a deep breath.

"My son's phone had been disconnected," he started. "Do you happen to have his new number? I'd like to hear from him.".

"Ah, yes" the Alpha said "your son lost his phone on the way back from Alaska and we decided to get him a new number as well as a new phone, for security reasons." she explained. "We just came back from his first therapy session, and I spoke to his doctor. He doesn't think it is a good idea for you to initiate contact with Stiles right now. He is not in a good place - mentally, and until he gets better we feel it would be beneficial to let him start to reach out to people and not the other way around".

Noah huffed, frustrated. He wanted to yell at the woman that this was his son, but the truth was he had messed up. No, he didn't just 'messed up', he had so royally fucked up, that he wasn't certain his son would ever speak to him again. But he had to try. He had to fix it, he had nothing else left.

"Is he..." he started, then stopped, let out a bitter laugh - of course his son was not okay - and changed the question "How is he?"

Talia sighed.

"Not good," she started carefully, but thought that full disclosure was in order ", and I'm sorry to say, it appears that we triggered his PTSD."

The Sheriff frowned.

"How so?" he asked gruffly.

"My brother-in-law sudden appearance had brought up some memories".

"You mean Nick Volkov?" the Sheriff clarified.

"Yes," Talia answered tiredly "since then he had had intense nightmares about his mother and you, which he refuses to talk about. Actually, he refuses to talk about anything to anyone. Dr. Brice - his therapist - said he hadn't utter a word the entire session."

The Sheriff felt the urge to drive to the Hale house and get his boy out of there.

"No offence, Alpha, but is it wise to keep him in close proximity with your brother-in-law?" he asked.

"Dr. Brice thinks it will be good for Stiles to witness the pack supporting my mate's brother. It would reinforce the point that the pack is there for him as well," Talia answered. There was no accusation in her tone, but the Sheriff couldn't shake the feeling he failed his little boy big time.

"I'd like to see him," he insisted. "For a few minutes." He swallowed down his pride "Please, Alpha, he is my son!"

Talia sight again.

"Sheriff, let me be frank with you," she begun. "Stiles is under the impression you replaced him with Jordan Parish and Alpha McCall. I'm sure this is not the case and tried to argue the point with him a few days back, but he shut me down pretty emphatically. Your son has some serious inadequacy issues, and I'm sorry to say, the McCall pack and your behavior in the past just exacerbated them. Dr. Brice thinks we should gradually work him up to seeing people from his previous life."

Noah Stillinski wanted to hit something. Or get drunk. But getting drunk has gotten him here, hasn't it? He was a person from his son's previous life.

"I'll mention to him that you called," Talia continued, "and ask his permission to give you his new number. I'm sure he'll agree, but asking permission will give him the sense of control he needs at the moment. How about me or my husband call you every day with updates?" she suggested.

At this point Noah couldn't do anything but agree.

"That would be very much appreciated".

Talia switched topics.

"During the commotion with my brother-in-law we hadn't had a chance to come and collect Stiles' things," she ventured. "Would it be convenient for you if I send Mathew and Derek tomorrow to get them? We can easily replace them, Peter will be more than happy for the chance to provide for his mate, but Dr. Brice thinks it would help if he is surrounded with old familiar things. I also would like to send Tailor with some legal papers for you, considering your son being Peter's mate. Stiles is a legal adult now, but you are his only living relative, beside your father, and as far as I understand you both are not on good terms with the man. So for all intents and purposes you are his only family - until he accepts the pack at least, but that's beside the point. There are legal matters to discuss".

The Sheriff sighed heavily. If this is all the connection to his son he could get at the moment, he was taking it. No way he was giving his boy up.

"Sure, I'm free all day tomorrow," he said. Then he thought of something else.

"Does Stiles have an appointment to register his soul bond?" he asked. He hoped he would be allowed to attend.

Jesus, his son has a mate! It felt like it was just yesterday when Stiles was learning to walk, when he lost his first tooth, when he was worrying if he would make any friends on his first day at school. And suddenly - Stiles is a legal adult!

Noah wanted to have a word with Peter - before the mating ceremony, if possible.

"We decided to postpone the procedure for a couple of weeks to stabilize his mental state and, frankly, to postpone the official announcement of Peter's mating to the enemies of the Hale pack" Talia answered curtly.

Noah nodded, he had read the folders Talia had dropped for him - several times.

"I understand," he said. "I'd like a word with Peter, if you'll allow it."

Talia hesitated for a moment.

"I think it would be better if you meet the whole Inner Circle of the Hale pack sometime next week," she started carefully. "One-on-one meeting with Peter right now is not a very good idea. His mate has been hurt, no matter how unintentionally, and his wolf wants nothing else but to tear the people that hurt Stiles to tiny little bits".

This statement, however guilty made the Sheriff, was actually comforting.

Noah Stilinski actually would have killed to protect his son, no matter what he had said to Stiles in his ill-fitted attempt to steer the boy away from looking for solutions of every problem in violence. Right now he was glad someone else was ready to kill for Stiles.

"May I have Dr. Brice's number?" he asked Talia.

"I assure you" the Alpha misunderstood him "Dr. Brice comes very highly recommended and has a stellar reputation!".

Noah sighed and admitted.

"I want to make an appointment for myself".

The werewolf on the other end of the line hesitated for several moments.

"It's an hour drive from Beacon Hills, but sure, I'll send you the doctor's contact information with Tailor tomorrow".

"I assume the doctor is in the know about the supernatural?" the Sheriff asked.

"He's werewolf himself, I hope you will be comfortable with that" Talia explained. "The heighten senses helps him to ascertain his patients needs better than an ordinary human psychiatrist."

Noah sighed again.

"Yes, it won't be an issue" he said.

The Sheriff and the Alpha said their goodbyes and Noah Stilinski drove home to have a long and sleepless night, full of fears that all his future efforts to reconnect with his son will be too little too late.

 

***

 

"Natalie, please don't take this the wrong way, but your daughter can be such a bitch!" Melissa McCall said, pushing her shopping card through the store.

Natalie Martin sighed.

"Yes. I know," she picked a couple of packets of fettuccini pasta and examined the label. "I don't know where I went wrong with her."

"What's her beef with Stiles, anyway?" asked Melissa.

"Several, actually." Natalie answered the other woman she started to consider her best friend a while ago. "Academical jealousy, for starters. Stiles is smarter than her, and quicker on thinking on his feet. If it wasn't for the ADHD he would have bested her, and she knows it. Also, Jordan had the stupidity to tell her he was bi. And that before they found out they are soul mates he apparently had felt drown to Stiles and had decided to wait until Stiles is eighteen to ask him out."

This was news to Melissa.

"Really?" she turned to her friend. "That was extremely dumb of him. Like he doesn't know his soul mate!".

"That was in the beginning when he didn't really knew her." Natalie shrugged. "Jordan is a decent guy. He thought full disclosure is the way it should go between mates."

"Jesus" Melissa exhaled, grabbing a couple of cans of tomato pasta on their way and putting them in her cart.

"I don't know" Natalie sighed again. "My divorce really messed her up. She knows me and George weren't soul mates, but him - taking off with his twenty years younger secretary was really hard on Lydia."

Natalie grabbed some canned chicken broth for her cart before the two women turned toward the dairy aisle.

"She's paranoid Jordan will leave her, or cheat on her, or something. She's blaming me for the divorce, too. We had a big argument about it. She thinks if I was more assertive and controlled my husband better..." she trailed off.

Melissa frowned.

"Let me repeat myself - your daughter is a bitch." she stopped, turned to Natalie and gave her the patented 'I'm-mama-McCall-and-don't-you-dare-mess-with-me' look. "You are not at fault here. Sometimes things doesn't work out. Not everyone is lucky to find their soul mates. Not everyone is lucky to have a soul mate." she gestured to herself at the last sentence. "Yours died before you even had the chance to meet him. Does she blames you for that too? This is nonsense!"

Natalie shrugged.

"I know. Jordan told me the same. He came to me after they fought for the forth time - accidentally after he tried to defend Stiles to the pack. Lydia broke up with him temporarily. He was really confused why she doesn't understand that she is it for him and she doesn't have to worry. You should had seen his face when I explained to him that Lydia had broken up with him as a preventive measure, before he had the chance to cheat on her with Stiles."

Melissa couldn't stop her laughter when she imagined the blue-eyed-baby-faced deputy's bewilderment, despite the fact this was not a laughing matter.

"We hope..." Natalie started, then stopped, thought about it and started again. "Jordan and I hope that going to MIT will help. We hope the college experience and all that will mellow her somewhat. They had decided she was doing it alone and Jordan is staying in Beacon Hills, but... He asked me if this would make her even more paranoid, but she wants to do it alone. To prove to herself and the world she needs no man to take care of her. I advised him to let it go for now and keep quiet about all-matter 'Stiles' in the meanwhile."

Melissa shrugged.

"Well, Stiles has his own soul mate now" she said. "I don't see why Lydia is still acting like that."

Natalie laughed without mirth.

"You are looking for logic when feelings are involved. My daughter is a force to be reckon with on her own, and being the best at everything had given her an ego with the size of Texas. Admitting that you were wrong is not easy even for an average person without that many hang-ups. Lydia? She wouldn't admit she's wrong even to herself, and knowing she is just makes her mad." the woman pinched the bridge of her nose "Jordan is going along with it for now, because she is so young and the college experience might soften her some... And Jordan's own insecurities don't actually help." she waved her hand "He's an orphan, has been in foster care for the most of his life, and desperately wants a family to belong. But he's no push-over, he won't put up with her forever. If Lydia doesn't change her attitude in college, they are going to have problems. Even being soul mates guarantees that they will be able to survive as a couple, it would be rough.".

Melissa contemplated this.

"Sometimes I think not having a soul mate is a blessing. Me and Rafael were good together, until we weren't. We both walked away from it. I know what the SM Registry says, that abuse between soul mates is impossible, but..." she sighed. "I don't know. At other times I feel like I'm missing on something. Like not having a soul mate is like not having a part of myself. We will never get the feeling. Sometimes I'm angry at the world, like I'm being cheated out of something. Other times... I'm looking at Noah..." She continued in hushed tone. "Breaking of a soul bond doesn't leave anyone untouched. It's far worse than simply loosing a spouse. According to the Mating Registry it's both physiological and psychological. We had a semester course in med school on the soul bonds. Two of every five victims of a broken soul bond get obsessed with something, and get some sort of psychological problem. Remember that story on the News about the guy who hasn't left his house for seven years? Or the Bronson's shooting, and the woman who killed eighteen people during a mating registry? The other two survivors end up with some dependency - drugs - mostly meth and cocaine - or alcohol, like it was in Noah's case. And the last one of every five survivors of a soul mate loss ends up committing suicide. Noah had a case last week - a husband blew his brains out in front of his children with his own gun, after his soul mate died in a car crash. Noah doesn't remember it, because he was drunk at the time, but Stiles had told me his father tried to do the same two weeks after Claudia's death. He drunk himself into a stupor, went to his office, took out his own gun and put it at his temple and pulled the trigger several times. The gun was empty, thank God, but Stiles was so freaked out he started having panic attacks. Noah didn't even register his son following him around that day, he was acting like he was in a trance or something. The boy told me later. Stiles' obsession with his father's health is stemmed from this, I think. Being so dependant on someone for your mental stability is really scary. Noah says it leaves a void in you, like the better part of you had already died, and nothing can fill this void, not even your own child. And this emptiness is doing its best to swallow you hole, and you have to fight just to stay alive, one day at a time, day after day, for years. Noah says the only thing that had kept him going, no matter how botched job he did of that, the only reason he's still alive is Stiles. Not being able to let go of a person to such degree... I don't know. It's scary." she finished.

Natalie was looking at her with wide eyes.

Melissa shook her head, trying to shake the dreaded thought off, and changed the topic.

"So, when Lydia goes to MIT you will have the house all to yourself" she commented. "Sometimes I envy you. Scott is staying local and going to Beacon County Community college, which means Isaac will be over all the time. Allison is going to Stanford, so this will be a relief at least."

Natalie laughed.

"Did you catch them in the act again?" she giggled.

"Yes - in the kitchen," Melissa gave her a dry look. "There is not enough brain bleach to get the first image out of my head. Or the second. Or the third. I don't need any more of those."

Natalie gave her a coy look.

"Jordan has one hell of a back side and he knows his stuff" she commented vaguely.

"Natalie!" Melissa was scandalized.

"What?" the other woman was innocence personified. "I have eyes, I have needs, and I don't have a significant other to fulfill them. You can't blame a woman for thinking a man is a fine specimen or admiring his technique!"

Melissa narrowed her eyes.

"There are these things called vibrators!" she admonished. It was Natalie's turn to gape at her, but she continued unrepentant. "And these other things called one-night stands. Or, if you want to be sure of the quality of the service, I can give you a recommendation to a very safe and secure escort, that has excellent reviews."

"Mel!" the other woman exclaimed, scandalized.

"What?" the Nurse demanded. "Couple of those boys come to the hospital every two months for blood work, and we chat. And let me tell you, both of them are Jordan level of hot, and judging by the amount of customers they have, they can give your son-in-law a run for his money." She finished innocently.

Natalie was gaping like a fish at her.

"Did you ever..." she didn't finished the question.

Melissa gave her a teasing smile.

"I don't kiss and tell, sweetie. Or other-things and tell" she teased her friend.

 

***

 

Talia Hale was not a person that spent much of her time on regrets, and honestly, she still thought that removing Stiles from his father's house was the right thing, but she couldn't shake off the memory of the broken look on the man's face when Tailor gave him Stiles' paperwork. Talia decided to tag along, because the phone call from the previous evening told her that she might have been slightly wrong in her assessment of the situation, and with her pack's help to disperse the Sheriff's ignorance, and removing him from Chris Argent and Deatin's sphere of influence, the situation had changed. She had been right. Tailor wouldn't have been able to handle Noah Stilinski on his own.

The Sheriff had been surprised to see her on his doorstep at ten in the morning, but invited the whole Hale group cordially enough. The man had looked exhausted, despite he hadn't been working the previous night. He had offered them coffee, but Mathew and Derek declined and instead had gone to Stiles' room to gather the boy's things. Noah Stilinski had given the two Hale men a long, almost lost look, but then had braced himself and turned to make the Alpha and Tailor some coffee.

And then the folder with Stiles' papers had come out of Tailor's briefcase.

Tailor had placed it carefully on the table, while his Alpha had sipped her coffee. The Sheriff apparently had good instincts and had sensed that he wouldn't like what was waiting for him in that folder. His eyes had been on the two werewolves for a minute, trying to gage what to expect, but both Talia and Tailor - being lawyers - had pretty decent poker faces.

Stilinski had sighed and snatched the folder - ripping-the- band-aid stile.

He had opened it and had frozen, his eyes scanning the first page, his face getting paler and paler.

"What is this!?" he had demanded.

Talia had explained it all.

At the beginning he had been furious. Then he had been hurt. Then he had been guilty. Then furious again, when Talia had explained why Peter had chosen this particular manner of asking for courting rights. Then hurt again - that his son had chosen his soul mate over his father. Then guilty again - because in a manner of speaking, he had done the same after Claudia Stilinski's death. Then he had smelt helpless, recognizing the whole thing for what it was - the natural order of things. Somehow, Talia suspected, in Noah Stilinski's mind, Stiles was still the eight, or ten, or twelve years old boy he hasn't been for a long time. Somewhere down the road Noah Stilinski and Stiles had lost their ability to communicate, and with that - the Sheriff had missed his son growing up. Oh, Talia understood perfectly how it had happened. The medical bills for Claudia, and then - keeping the house his son was born in, and then the college fund. Stiles quite substantial college fund that could support an Ivy league college, with a little to no outside help. Stiles his father somehow had managed to scrape it on his salary, alone, with no living family members, neither on his nor on Claudia's side, except a good for nothing - according to Peter's digging - father, shoved up somewhere in a retirement home, for which Noah Stilinski was also paying. The man didn't want to see his father ever again, but was still paying for his medical bills and care.

Jesus! Talia was so eternally grateful for her pack! For having people she could rely on, even for something so trivial as picking up a kid from school or doing the laundry.

Noah Stilinski had looked at her and said "If I take this, I would have lost my son for nothing.".

And she understood, she was the Alpha, and knew all about hard choices. For the Sheriff it was either his son's childhood, or his future. The man chosen to give his son a future. Talia knew exactly how the Sheriff had done it. By working all the time, being absent from his son's life all the time. Stilinski was a smart man, he had had known perfectly what this would do to his and Stiles relationship. She suspected that the man had hoped they would be able to reconcile somewhere down the road, when Stiles would have children of his own and would understand.

Was it the right choice? Probably not. Couldn't he have managed to balance being there for his child and giving said child the future Stiles deserved? Probably yes. On top of the loss of a soul mate? With no real support system?

Talia found herself admiring this human. He was as strong as the Alpha she was, and if... No, not if, she would do anything in her power to bring those stubborn men back together, damn it! When Stiles and his father fixed their relationship, Talia Hale would snatch the Sheriff from the McCall pack and bring him to her fold.

So she tried to give the broken man in front of her some hope.

"You can pay for their wedding. You can pay for their honeymoon".

The Sheriff had scoffed at that.

"And there still be enough money for six more!"

Talia had smiled at him.

"Then build them a house on the Hale property."

This had made the Sheriff pause for a second, but he had frowned.

"Stiles won't accept it.".

Talia had shaken her head.

"You need to get to know, actually get to know your son all over again" she had told Noah. "You have no idea how mature he is. You have no idea how intelligent he is. He is not the child you remember anymore".

The man had smelled of pain and sadness then, but she smiled at him.

"Go to therapy. Learn how to communicate with your son again. Then sit down and have a serious, real grown-up talk." she told the man fully expecting him to blow out at her, but apparently the Sheriff hadn't had any energy left in him.

He had looked her in the eyes and had said with full sincerity "I have dropped the ball on him."

Talia shrugged.

"It's never too late to pick it up again. You have gone this far. He loves you despite he's certain you don't love him back. And he still loves you, he is still ready to lay down his life for you. You can swallow your pride and take a few hits from him - verbal or otherwise - if it means you can have him back, can't you?"

"It won't be that easy" the man had shaken his head.

"When does life ever is?" she had countered with.

Noah had laughed bitterly.

"Claudia had always said Life will kick me in the teeth, grind me in the dirt and dump a bucket of shit on my head for good measure if I let it. I guess she was right." then he looked her in the eyes again. "I don't intend to let it." And she had nodded in approval, got up and left Noah in his empty house... in his empty life.

'For now' she promised herself. 'Just for now.'

Talia knew Peter wouldn't be happy with what she intended to do. Her brother wanted his mate as far from his father as possible. She snorted to herself.

If it was up to Peter, he would have dragged Stiles away and locked him into some isolated cabin in the middle of the woods - a day's walk from civilization - and his mate wouldn't be allowed to get off the porch. It was a normal werewolf reaction to finding their mate, although it would be impossible to explain it to said mate. And as far as she knew Stiles, he would probably bash Peter on the head with a night light or something and march out of there in a huff.

Soul mates, what can you do?