It has been twenty-three minutes since Stiles Stilinski left Beacon Hills for good.
Derek Hale is fully unaware of this fact, but should he be informed of the truth, is likely to have a vindictive surge of glee before growling Danny into finding out where the Hell Stiles has gone so he can track him down and apologise to him. And by apologise he means angrily make out with him and hope Stiles can still read between the lines. Not that he'd let Stiles get away with the same, considering the whole argument is Stiles' fault in the first place, and Stiles has always been good with words.
So good with words that Derek regrets not letting Stiles explain himself properly the other night before screaming at him enough that he'd run out. Not that Derek thinks the explanation would have helped much, but maybe he wouldn't have waited this long to confront him about it. No, as Derek climbs into his car to visit the Sheriff's house, fully unaware that the Sheriff's son will not be waiting for him there, he's not sure the explanation would have changed anything; he's still heartbroken and betrayed, but he owes it to the both of them to at least hear Stiles out.
It's a regret Derek carries for the rest of his life.
It's been just under a week since Stiles ran, heart-broken, stumbling and shell-shocked from his Alpha's loft. It's been just under six days since Stiles (with help from a furious (at Derek Hale) Sheriff) forced himself out of bed and downstairs to eat for the first time in twenty-four hours. It's been just under five days since Stiles finished up all his plans, this time with help from Danny, though the helper didn't know it, considering Stiles had stolen his laptop instead of asking Danny to do the hacking for him, and replaced it before Danny even noticed it was missing. It's been just under four days since Stiles starting writing the letters, under three since he started Derek's, under two since he finished them. It's been just under a day since Stiles assured his father that he was going to be ok, and thanked every star in the sky that unlike the rest of his social circle, his father couldn't hear his heartbeat to tell he was lying.
Across the continents, on the other side of the world, a human-turned-lizard-turned-wolf is opening an email.
The argument had gone something like this:
Derek is sitting, convincing himself not to leap up to get the door already when the Jeep hadn't even finished parking. He manages to hold himself back until he hears Stiles' feet on the stairs and then the door is thrown open, and Derek swears he feels his heart sing in his chest in response to the too-quick beat of Stiles'. He ignores the irregularity, ignores his Werewolf senses for just a moment until Stiles is in his arms, a pleased and relieved 'oof' of air whooshing out of the younger boy as he hugs him tight, burying his nose behind the shell of Stiles' ear. He takes a deep breath in of the scent he's been doing his best not to think about for a month and tenses, confused.
Stiles doesn't smell right.
Stiles, as usual, is babbling. "I missed you so much Sourwolf you don't even know dude, Scott's been about to run me over on his new motorbike he's so bored of hearing me complain. Did you know he got a motorbike? Please go and tell him how lethal the things are honestly his co-Alpha goes to a convention for one month and it's like he unleashes all the rebellious teenage hormones Melissa swears he never had-"
"Stiles. Why do you smell weird?" The faint scent of nervousness and a pang of genuine fear grow stronger until it's practically smothering Derek in Stiles' panic.
"You can smell it? Where were you a few days ago when this would have actually been useful?"
"I think I know why."
"Why didn't you just tell me?"
"Hello, Alpha convention no-mobile-signal-or-even-postal-allowed ringing any bells?"
"No the night before I went. I mean clearly it was a mistake."
"Well I certainly didn't mean to excuse me for not completely understanding all the stuff that came along with being an Alpha's Mate straight away-"
"Do you understand now? Will you get rid of them?"
"Get rid of... Oh my God Derek how could you even ask that of me I thought you'd be happy-"
"You thought I'd be happy about sharing my Mate? You think I'm ever going to want you again after this? Just looking at you makes me feel sick."
"Don't touch me. Get the fuck out of my loft Stiles. And stay out."
Derek Hale arrived at the Sheriff's house to see Stiles' jeep parked in the drive and the Sheriff's cruiser but only one heartbeat inside the building. He knocked on the door and it opened, bringing with it a heavy scent of liquor he bet even a human could smell and a bleary-eyed Sheriff.
"Sir, is Stiles home?" Derek asked, despite knowing he wasn't, but hoping the Sheriff would tell him where to find the reckless human.
"Stiles is gone." The Sheriff replied, and his eyes looked broken but angry. A clarity that Derek wasn't expecting to see on such an inebriated individual made his gaze sharp on Derek's face, and his heartbeat is steady and true as he continues. "You know, after Stiles told me everything, I never blamed you for any of it. Sure, you made some poor decisions, but Stiles and Scott made some too. I couldn't blame you for the danger your family returning to Beacon Hills brought on my son; Stiles had a choice and he decided to get involved even when he didn't have to, you didn't make him. And your family, the blame for that goes to a psychopathic hunter not the sixteen-year-old she assaulted. But this, Derek Hale, is all your fault."
Two days after the awkward confrontation with the drunken Sheriff, and no sign of Stiles despite everyone doing their best to track him down, not to mention no other information from the Sheriff (Scott's whisper that the Sheriff only drinks when something is horribly horribly wrong, and he hasn't seen him actually drunk since Claudia's death prevents them all from digging further), the letters arrive.
I am so, so sorry. I know you don't blame me, but every time I close my eyes you're screaming behind them. I know you didn't want the Werewolf life, and it's cut you off from your father somewhat (he'll come round, I know he will), and I can't stand that it's my fault you had to take the Bite. It may have been the Nogitsune but it was me too.
I don't know what's going on with you and Scott and Isaac, from what I understand of it there's a whole lot of messy awkwardness and trying not to hurt feelings after heart-breaking I-was-dying confessions. It's not my place to judge; look what I've done to escape heartbreak. If I'm honest though, Ally, I really think coming that close to death might have shuffled your priorities. If that's the case, I beg you to just woman-up and give whoever you need to a clean break. If it's Scott, be gentle. I won't be around for him to cry the ear off for twenty-four hours to anymore so be as nice as possible. If it's Isaac, don't make him feel like he was just a placeholder for Scott. I know yours and Scott's love story is a bit Romeo-and-Juliet, tragic star-crossed lovers, but I've always felt a bit sorry for Paris. Don't make Isaac Paris. Remember that they love each other too, completely unrelated to you. Your decision won't break their relationship. Awkward for a while, sure, but they're stronger than that. If it's neither, I applaud you but um, please send Kira an apology bouquet? As I'm sure you can attest to, that sword is sharp as all Hells.
I also think, either way, they'll forgive you. You're Pack, Ally, in a way Team Human never was. I see that now. I want to thank you for Team Human by the way; it was just you and me really by the end with Lydia turning Banshee on us, and even though you're way more badass than the rest of the Pack put together you still made me feel included. There's no humans left in the Hale-McCall Pack now, so I'm not a liability anymore.
I wish you all the happiness in the world,
Lydia, the strawberry-blonde goddess, how do I say goodbye to you? Not well evidently, considering I'm doing this through epistolary form. You deserve the whole world Lydia Martin, but the whole world also deserves you. Stop hiding parts of yourself to be liked by the majority of people. It's how you end up getting a crowd of suckers like me who put you on a pedestal and make you out to be things you're not.
I may have been in love with the idea of Lydia Martin, but I love the real thing more. You are perhaps the only person that could have talked me out of this, which is why I waited until after you'd gone back to school to do it. You made me promise that you'd never scream my name and so you won't; I was doing research on Banshee powers and they can only scream a name that they know. As far as I am aware, you have no idea what my first name is, so should a name-screaming event occur, don't worry about it. I shouldn't be in danger where I'm going anyway. It'll be nice to rest, finally.
It's not goodbye forever and I think that's why I'll leave it here. Writing these letters is a lot harder than I thought it would be. Don't you dare put anything at school on hold for me- we need more gorgeous tiny geniuses destroying the patriarchy and conquering space out there.
PS Deputy Jordan Parrish wants to date you he just doesn't know it yet. I also think he might be something Supernatural? You should tap that.
Yours is the only letter I'm dropping off by hand, aren't you lucky? I know I could have just visited your grave and said these words to you myself, but I liked the idea that everyone important to me would get a letter.
This will probably be the last you'll hear from me directly, Mom, because I'm not coming back. I don't want to leave Dad alone but it's for the best. Since the whole 'I've been lying to you for years' thing came to light we haven't had the strongest relationship, and I know I've never really been what he wanted in a son. Maybe I could have been but...
You know why I have to do this, you were the first person I spoke to after leaving Derek's. I hope you're not too upset with me Mom.
God, buddy, where do I even start. We've been through everything, me and you. And you know me, probably better than anyone when you've not got your head in 'pretty girl is around' clouds. I love you to the moon and back, and you'll always, always be my brother.
You didn't do anything, and there was nothing you could have done. Don't blame yourself for this. I just can't handle everyone anymore. I did this for myself, I wanted to be selfish. I think maybe I've learnt I need to. Don't be mad at Derek either; you two need to run this Pack together- they need both of you. I didn't want to leave the Pack, and I've told Dad to keep the law enforcement away from you guys still so don't worry about that, but I've wanted to be gone for a very long time. I think you're the only one who knows how long. And please don't be mad at me either, it's not forever.
I know you've picked up on the fact I've been hiding something from you for a while, and it's the reason I had to do this. I guess I was stupidly fighting the fact that it was always going to end this way, one way or another. You've always been the only one who can handle me at my worst and I thought I'd found someone else who could but... I was wrong. It doesn't matter now.
See you on the other side,
PS Tell your mom to take care of my dad for me
I've thought you were hot since I laid eyes on you, had a crush on you since the Kanima, been in love with you since the first time you checked up on me after the Nogitsune.
I don't know if this whole thing triggered some trauma I didn't know you had or if you just really, really hate the idea but I saw forever with you Derek, and the fact that you couldn't is not something I think we can reconcile. I want you to know I had no idea this was going to happen, I didn't know what was happening until I took all my weird blackout symptoms to Deaton and he did some tests to find out. I wouldn't have done that without your consent. It may have been a mistake, and I understand why I make you feel sick, I don't think this is a good look on a guy generally and I've never had your looks to balance it out, but I can't change what happened and I can't continue living here when you hate everything about it, even though it wasn't my choice.
Help Scott with the Pack? Be more tactile with your Betas- the Pack may have two Alphas now but the ones you turned are always going to trust you first. You won't let them down, please believe me. Bring Lydia fully into the Pack and stop allowing her to feel like she's on the edges. If Kira stays in Beacon Hills, you might want to consider becoming friends with her. I think you'd work well together, and you probably need a friend right now.
You should try and forget me Sourwolf. I just wanted you to be happy.
All my love,
Derek calls an emergency Pack meeting as soon as he's finished the last word of the letter, feeling like he's going to be sick. Lydia's Skyped through, the usually blasé woman in floods of tears, and the four of them compare the letters they were given (though none of them share the exact words; some things are best left private).
"What exactly did the Sheriff say to you Derek?!" Scott snarls, in his Beta form and barely keeping it together even though Allison is holding onto his shoulder.
"He said Stiles was gone." Derek whispers, sinking to his knees and clutching his letter for dear life.
"He wouldn't." Lydia refuses, denying it. "Why now? He wouldn't wait this long after the Nogitsune, after everything! I thought he was getting better- I never should have left- He wouldn't." Allison tries to desperately parse some other meaning from Stiles' words, but they all seem to come to the same conclusion. "Scott, tell them. Stiles wouldn't kill himself."
Scott can't look Lydia in the eyes, and there's bile and tears rising in his throat. "He used to... After his mom first died he used to spend hours trying to convince the world it should have been him. He used to wish it was. He’d pull out his eyelashes just to wish on them that he would be gone. That he’d go and never come back. And after the Nogitsune he'd have these dreams-" Scott cuts himself off, unable to continue.
"His dreams started out as nightmares, where he was the Nogitsune again. But at the end he'd find a way to take himself out and save everyone else in the process, and he'd wake up happy." Derek finishes, hollow. Scott blinks, surprised that Stiles had talked about his dreams with Derek too.
"That's different!" Lydia screeches. "That's fucked up and wrong but in those dreams he only killed himself to save everyone else. Why would he do it now? What purpose does that hold?"
"Getting away." Allison says, quietly. "The purpose was to get away."
"Stop it. We don't even know if he's dead-"
"He's dead." Derek says, tonelessly.
"How do you know?"
"He once told me the only time I'd ever see his real name was on his gravestone. And he signed off my letter with his full name."
“I’m not giving up on him till I’ve seen his body.” Lydia snarls, disbelief at her friends colouring her voice in a way she usually controls. “I’m going to get on the phone with Danny and see if he can find out what happened.”
The full Pack meeting takes place in Danny’s bedroom, where Erica, Isaac, Boyd, Cora and Kira are all clutching their own letters, looking some variation of white as a sheet.
As soon as her brother comes through the door, Cora pounces on him, almost knocking his head into the doorframe as he steps back. “What the fuck did you do Derek?” Cora snarls, shaking her letter at him. He takes it off her with shaky hands and reads through bleary eyes.
I know you’ve never been my biggest fan, but I, er, took your advice. About telling Derek my feelings. It was before he left for that Alpha Convention but I didn’t tell anyone until now because I wanted to talk to him first. I don’t know if you knew he was interested in me back, or if you knew I was his potential Mate or whatever but it was the right thing to do anyway. He deserved to hear that he’s loved.
I can’t be here to tell him anymore. It’s not his fault, it was a lot to ask for him to accept me when I’m so… Well ‘fucked-up’ comes to mind. I don’t blame him at all and I need him to know that. Maybe he’ll believe you.
Cora, your brother would tear the world apart for you. He’s a good man. If you decide to go back to South America, promise to stay in touch with him and visit a lot. It would kill him to have you back and then lose you again. And please, please, don’t ask him to come with you. He’d go in a heartbeat, but it would tear him to pieces to leave his Pack.
This letter isn’t all about Derek though. I think you know you need to talk to Kira. Do NOT follow Derek’s example and DO put yourself out on the line. You will regret it forever if you don’t. Take it from someone who’s currently heart-broken; the heartbreak isn’t anything compared to the agony of not being truthful to yourself. Plus, you have basically the best escape-the-awkward plan already in place in South America if it all goes pear-shaped. If you compare it to mine; yours is a lot healthier.
Other than that, I want you to know I really appreciated our runs. I’d say I’ll miss them but I think they’re a little impossible now. I just meant that you understood sometimes there was no amount of comfort that could ease the nightmares, but running away made me feel like I was at least doing something productive to get away from them. We might not have talked much, but I think that worked for us.
To finding another running buddy,
“Cora, you said your letter says it’s not Derek’s fault.” Boyd reprimands gently. Cora scoffs.
“Yeah which is about the most damning evidence that he did something! I’m not saying it’s his fault but he did something and now Stiles is-” She cut herself off, choking.
“Why does your laptop smell like Stiles?” Erica asks of Danny sharply, pulling the attention off Derek. Immediately all the wolves move forwards to smell it themselves, rumbling in agreement.
“He’s probably touched my laptop before.” Danny says, quietly. Danny didn’t receive a letter. He’s not sure what that means. Boyd shakes his head.
“No. It smells fresh.” Danny boots up the laptop and looks through all the recently used programmes. Isaac’s hand comes out and stabs the screen.
“Look, that’s from Wednesday. You came over to mine Wednesday morning and didn’t go home till Thursday.”
“So we know he sent an email and used the internet.” Kira says, confused.
“Can you see the email or the internet history?” Erica presses. Danny shakes his head.
“No. That’s why he used my laptop I’m guessing. My data is untraceable, that’s the whole point. And I don’t think there’s a person alive who can hack this software seeing as I made it impossible for even me to hack. It’s why I have two laptops, one for normal shit and this one for hacking.”
“God fucking damn it Stiles.” Erica bites out, sounding perilously close to tears.
Scott enters the room and they all turn to face him. There’s a kind of muted horror following him in, and his phone is crushed to pieces in his hand.
“I asked the Sheriff.” Scott looks up and meets Derek’s eyes, and Derek feels the last bit of hope he didn’t know he was holding onto die inside of him. “He said that he’d continue covering for us at work because Stiles asked him to but he doesn’t want to see any of us again if he doesn’t have to because-” Scott breathes through a wheeze, struggling for breath in a way he hasn’t had to since he was human, “Because he had to bury his only son this morning.”
There’s a soft ‘oh’ through the room, as everyone feels a piece of their heart crack and fall away.
Derek makes it back to the half-renovated house before he vomits, heaving into his newly-fitted kitchen sink. His heart-rate picks up, his Werewolf healing trying to combat the way he feels like he’s being scraped apart from the inside out and not finding any physical cause. Isaac’s hand runs slow circles over his back even as it trembles. Boyd and Erica are clutching each other, Boyd with silent, slow tears rolling down his face into Erica’s blonde hair, Erica beating at his chest with her fists, loud and raw with the pain, fiercely cursing Stiles out for being and idiot and a moron and-
“I think I know why.” Derek rasps, feeling a bubble of hysteria twist his lips into half a grin. Isaac actually takes a step back while Cora holds his gaze, cold and unfeeling as he needs her to be. “He- He came over here, the night before I left for the convention. And he-”
“Derek.” Stiles says, when he opens the door and there’s something like determination in his scent, laced over with affection. Derek aches, feels himself want. “I’m going to talk and I need you to not interrupt me until I’m done ok?” Stiles adds, pushing his way past Derek and marching over to the window, pacing in front of it half-heartedly. “Real role reversal right?” He jokes, and Derek almost smiles. “Listen to my heartbeat so you know I’m not lying.” Derek nods and sits down, waits patiently for whatever confession he thinks Stiles will give him tonight.
It’s not the confession he expects.
“We’ve gotten close since the Nogitsune. I know we’d done our mutual life saving gig a few times over by then, but it wasn’t until after then that I really came to realise what I had been saving. Who. Derek, you are brilliant. And not because you’re attractive or because you’re an Alpha Werewolf with super strength and fangs, though those things are great too!” He hastens to add and face-palms. “Fuck I’m messing this up.” Derek doesn’t say anything, still not sure where this is going. “I want you to know that being your friend is not a placeholder ok? Being your friend is amazing. We have so many similar interests and you get along with my dad and you’ve helped me get through my nightmares. I don’t want you to think I was just settling for being your friend. I haven’t been ready to say this until now, not really, and I don’t think you were ready for this either.
“But I’ll regret this forever if I don’t say anything. And this is a no-obligation confession. I’m not expecting anything other than you to awkwardly thank me and then me to wish I hadn’t said anything for a few uncomfortable weeks until we move past it. Which is kind of why I’m doing this now just before you go so I can pretend you’re not intentionally avoiding me and after you come back hopefully you’ll still want to be my friend.” Derek’s about to interject with what the Hell the confession actually is but before he can Stiles locks eyes with him, and Derek zeroes in on his heartbeat, strong and steady and true. “Derek Hale I am in love with you. It’s been a long time coming.”
Stiles breaks their eye-contact by looking at the ground. He takes in a deep breath and nods to himself, bracing for Derek’s reaction. When he dares to glance up he finds the Werewolf has managed to get into his space bubble silently, and there’s barely an inch between their bodies. Derek reaches out and traces over the pulse-point in Stiles’ wrist. “You’re not lying.” Derek says, almost in awe.
“Derek?” Stiles stutters, not having anticipated for a reaction that involved Derek getting closer to him but not throwing him ass over heels out of the door.
“Stiles…” Derek shivers, and if Stiles didn’t know better he’d say it was in excitement. “Will you be my Mate?”
“Your Mate? As in wolf Mate not as in buddy mate right because I-” Stiles is cut off as Derek kisses him, and there’s not really a structured conversation from that point on, though there is a lot of noise. It’s ok, Derek had always known Stiles would be loud.
“You slept with Stiles?!” Erica shrieks and Derek barely keeps his wolf from his face at her belittlement of the most intense night of Derek’s life.
“He didn’t sleep with him.” Cora says scathingly, before her eyes go impossibly soft. “He Mated him.” The other wolves, as people who had once been human, clearly don’t understand the significance but Isaac at least can pick up enough chemo-signals to recognise it.
“I don’t understand how that led to…” Isaac hedges, careful.
“When I came back, he turned up at the loft smelling like somebody else. Not like a friend like this other person was so deeply ingrained in Stiles they’d become part of him.” Cora breathes in sharply. “I freaked out, yelled at him to get out of the loft.”
“He cheated on you?” Cora says, furious and knowing there’s absolutely no outlet for that anger.
“Stiles wouldn’t.” Isaac argues.
“He kept saying-” Derek’s voice breaks, and he has to turn to vomit into the sink again. He turns the tap on like the sound of running water would drown out his words. “He kept saying that he didn’t want it. I didn’t understand, I was so betrayed and angry I didn’t think about what he was saying but now-”
Derek thinks about the argument from this point of view, and it now goes something like this:
"Stiles. Why do you smell weird?"
"You can smell it?” Stiles isn’t ready to say the word ‘rape’ yet, too disgusted with himself. He steels himself, knowing out of everyone that Derek is the only one who can understand. After what Derek went through with Kate, Derek will not turn him away. “Where were you a few days ago when this would have actually been useful?" He wanted Derek to track down the person who did this to him.
"I think I know why."
"You do?" Stiles is so glad he won’t have to explain. He just wants comfort, to take comfort in the guy he’s in love with. Maybe when he’s ready he’ll be able to talk about it, but for now it’s enough that someone else knows, that he doesn’t have to live with this alone.
"Why didn't you just tell me?"
"Hello, Alpha convention no-mobile-signal-or-even-postal-allowed ringing any bells?" Now Stiles is confused.
"No the night before I went. I mean clearly it was a mistake." A mistake? Does Derek mean for leaving him alone when he was freshly Mated, smelling like all things off-limits; irresistible?
"Well I certainly didn't mean to excuse me for not completely understanding all the stuff that came along with being an Alpha's Mate straight away-" Stiles is desperate for Derek to know that he wasn’t aware enough of all the knowledge to prevent what had happened; Derek had to know he didn’t cheat on him.
"Do you understand now? Will you get rid of them?" His memories of the attack? After everything that had happened with the Nogitsune, how Stiles couldn’t even get drunk without having a panic attack about not being able to remember everything, Derek wants him to get rid of his memories?
"Get rid of... Oh my God Derek how could you even ask that of me I thought you'd be happy-" Happy that I trusted you? Happy that I came to you first?
"You thought I'd be happy about sharing my Mate? You think I'm ever going to want you again after this? Just looking at you makes me feel sick." Stiles feels his heart stop. Derek’s right. He’s disgusting. He’s used, he’s sickening.
"Don't touch me. Get the fuck out of my loft Stiles. And stay out."
“I said he made me feel sick Cora.” Derek chokes. “He killed himself over a fucking misunderstanding that was all my fault!”
“Der you don’t know that was-” Cora tries, shaken, but Derek cuts her off.
“The Sheriff looked me in the eyes and told me it was all my fault. There was no lie in his heartbeat.” Cora can’t come up with anything to refute that, and the other three look similarly lost. With a high, broken whine Derek shifts into his Alpha form, tearing his clothes apart until a huge black wolf is standing in the kitchen. Derek sprints out of the door and into the forest.
A frozen minute later a long, pitiful howl splits the air, the cry of a wolf searching for a Mate he’ll never find.
Across continents, on the other side of the world, a human-turned-lizard-turned-wolf answers the door with a raised eyebrow but concerned eyes.
The jittery, exhausted man on the other side attempts to smile mockingly at him, but then his eyes well-up and he ends up exhaling shakily instead.
“Stilinksi.” Jackson says, slightly uncomfortable, but moves aside and gestures Stiles to come in. Once Stiles has dumped his bag under the stairs and toed off his shoes, in awe and slightly scared of what would happen should he track mud into the pristine white carpet, Jackson leads him into the sitting room.
“Dear God are you sure it’s only you that lives here? I know it’s just an apartment but it’s like at least half the size of Derek’s house and he has full time lodgers. Though I suppose it's not fully renovated yet. I can’t believe I’m here seeing you it’s been ages honestly I wasn’t expecting you to even read my email like how have you not changed your email address since high school-”
“Do you even need to breathe?” Jackson interrupts wryly. “Good to see you’re as insufferable as ever.”
“And that you’re just as much of a douche.” Stiles fires back, but they both know they’ve changed. Stiles looks a little harder, a little calmer, and right now, heartbroken. In contrast, Jackson is a little more relaxed, a little less smug, a little more likely to let someone in.
“You still haven’t really told me what this is about.” Jackson points out. “You said in the email that you were pregnant and you couldn’t stay with the Pack- is it a safety thing?” Jackson pales. “Please tell me the male pregnancy thing is not a regular thing Werewolves can do.”
“Why would it be a problem for you it’s not like you’ve been hooking up with any guys- Oh.” Stiles raises an eyebrow. “I did not see that coming.” Jackson isn’t sure whether to be offended or not and settles for half a sneer. “No, it’s not. According to Deaton it’s an Alpha Werewolf Mate only thing. Does Lydia know?”
“No it’s a… Recent thing. Anyway, why couldn’t you stay with the others? And who exactly knocked you up?” Jackson makes a disgusted face. “Please tell me it isn’t McCall.”
“Ew no.” Stiles says, looking more horrified than Jackson. “Derek’s the father. The other father. Whatever. And I couldn’t stay with them because Derek wanted me to get rid of the baby. And I wouldn’t.” Jackson sucks in a sharp breath of surprise.
“Jesus Stiles.” Stiles blinks. He’s not sure he can actually recall a time where Jackson hasn’t referred to him by his surname or some-kind of insulting nickname. “That sucks.”
Stiles finds himself blinking back tears for the second time in half an hour. Jackson panics and offers him a cup of tea, which thankfully makes Stiles laugh and accuse Jackson of becoming fully British. Eventually Stiles calms his chuckles and taps his fingers on his knee, a nervous tic he’s picked up since biting his pens was causing way too many ink related incidents. “I wouldn’t leave otherwise but without Derek’s support I don’t really feel like Beacon Hills is safe enough to raise a child in as I’ll be a single parent, and Deaton says being pregnant will probably mess with my spark so I can’t even make a handy mountain ash circle. The plan was to wait till they’re a little older and then ask Scott to be their Alpha. Hopefully if I ask once everything’s calmed down it won’t break up the Pack or anything, but I don’t want my child to be an Omega on top of lumped with a shitty ADHD spastic father.”
“Hey, Stilinski.” Jackson says, and he almost thinks the blond man sounds angry. “You are not going to be a shitty father. I didn’t even like you when I left Beacon Hills and even age sixteen you would have made a good father. I’ve seen and heard what you do when people threaten the people you care about, and that will be nothing on how much you’ll care about your own kid. You’ve already picked the kid over Derek freaking Hale who might just be the most attractive man in the United States which says a lot.”
“Thanks.” Stiles says, more than a little surprised. The only person other than Derek that he’d told had been his dad, and though the Sheriff had been very supportive and had offered to shoot Derek with the wolfsbane bullets Chris Argent had given him about fifteen times an hour since he’d told him, even Noah had reservations about Stiles’ ability to raise a child, most probably a Werewolf, on his own.
“What do you need from me?” Jackson says finally, after a small pause. All of Jackson’s Werewolf senses are instructing him to protect and provide, and it’s been a very long time since he ignored them. Stiles took a deep breath.
“I’m ok for now, but soon I’m not going to be able to go out in public without attracting a lot of unwanted attention.” Jackson hadn’t even thought about the fact that Stiles was going to look pregnant soon enough. Trust Stilinski to think that far ahead. “I can do my classes online and my Supernatural consulting business earns enough that I could probably afford a shitty apartment somewhere, could have afforded one in the US. But I’d feel safer with…” Jackson feels his chest puff out in pride. “And my baby comes first now. You’re the only Pack member that doesn’t live in Beacon Hills and doesn’t check in with anyone except Lydia. I left my phone behind because I know Scott would just get Danny to track it down and try and convince me to go back regardless of Derek. But I know that would put a huge strain on the Pack in picking sides and selfishly I just don’t want to have to see Derek for a while. I got a fancy phone you can’t track and I told dad to hand out my new number to them so I can still keep in touch. I really hope he remembers to give it out because God knows I don’t remember anyone’s number considering how many times we’ve lost or broken phones and had to change numbers due to supernatural accidents is just unreal. Anyway, I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t tell Lydia I’m here.”
“I won’t.” Jackson promises, easily.
“So yeah. What I’m asking of you is if you wouldn’t mind, once I get too big to be seen in public helping me out every so often and keeping your phone on in case I have a supernatural incident once I find somewhere to live round here-”
“Shut up Stiles.” Jackson drawls, unimpressed. “You’re staying here. Obviously.”
“What? No, I couldn’t- What if you want friends over? Or whichever super hot guy you’ve been seeing? And you hate me! You think I’m loud and too fidgety and I couldn’t ask that of you-”
“Stilinski. You’re a pregnant male who has no idea what he’s doing. If I wanted friends or anyone else over I could go to theirs or you could just stay upstairs while they’re round it’s not like I’m cramped for space. I don’t hate you, and I don’t think you’re too loud, I know it. Above all that, you saved my life, and you’ve saved Lydia’s a dozen times over which basically amounts to the same thing. I owe you one.”
“You said the baby comes first, and this is a much healthier place to be going through a completely uncharted pregnancy than some shitty apartment ok? Now, is there a supernatural doctor over here like Deaton or are you planning on just phoning him?”
“He was going to look through some contacts but at the moment just phoning him.” Stiles grumbles. “He doesn’t know that I’m all the way in England, just that I left Beacon Hills.”
“You’re not like, actually, going to give birth right?” Stiles shudders.
“Apparently I can but there’s absolutely no record of a male human giving birth to a Werewolf baby and both of them surviving. A couple of male humans giving birth safely to other humans but still statistically unlikely. Werewolf births are super dangerous when the person giving birth is female and already has the body parts for this shit. It’s why usually Werewolves with human Mates bite their partners prior to getting them pregnant if the human is going to be the one going through the birthing process. So Deaton’s assured me if all his contacts fail he’ll come over to ‘wherever I am’ about a month before my due date and perform a C-Section before I go into labour.”
“I would not trust that man near me with a scalpel.” Jackson refutes. Stiles grins.
“Neither. Which is why if no-one else comes through, you’ve just volunteered to be my birthing partner, and if Deaton tries anything shady, because God knows I don’t trust him to not run off with my baby and use it in a spell, you can put him back on the straight and narrow.”
Allison has to break the door to Lydia’s bedroom because the girl won’t let her in. She had to come to a town a couple of miles away from the university to meet with some hunters in place of her father, who is now the head of their branch of the Argent clan, considering Allison’s now a Werewolf herself, and figured she’d check in on her best friend while she was here. Other than informing Allison that she was alive, Lydia hadn’t replied to any of Allison’s texts. Allison knew Erica had blown up at the short genius for going back to university so soon after Stiles’ death, even after Lydia had quoted from her letter that Stiles didn’t want her to stay in Beacon Hills.
“Jesus Christ Ally, again?” Lydia complains, sat cross-legged on her bed, pristine as ever but with the cold calculating eyes she only gets in the middle of a puzzle. She looks innocent enough, but Allison isn’t her best friend for no reason.
“Lydia. Talk to me.” Lydia narrows her eyes at Allison, considering.
“Any sign of Derek?” Lydia counters, and Allison sighs, resting her bow against the bedframe and putting her quiver next to it before clambering onto the bed to sit facing Lydia, a task not easy to do gracefully as Lydia’s bed was extremely squishy. Allison tries not to notice all her extra senses agreeing with her, and adding layers like the scent of comfort and familiarity and the rustle of sheets and- “You know to text me when he gets back right?” Allison nods distractedly.
“No sign of him. It’s been what, three weeks now? Cora’s told us the full story now though, as even she’s getting worried about him. Erica and Isaac and Boyd didn’t have all the answers.” Lydia raises an eyebrow and Allison rubs a tired hand over her face. It seems that no matter how much she sleeps, her grief over Stiles still saps her energy. God knows how the Sheriff or Scott must be feeling. “So you know that just before the Alpha convention Stiles went over to Derek’s and they had sex, and then when Derek got back Stiles smelt like someone else and Derek thought Stiles had cheated on him but now he thinks Stiles was actually raped.” Lydia flinches but nods. “Cora says they didn’t just sleep together. Apparently Werewolves, born and bitten though born are better at recognising it, can smell people that are potential Mates. It’s not a biological need-to-reproduce drive but one that’s centred around a wolf’s need for Pack; potential Mates are people that appeal to both their wolf and their human side as a companion. A Werewolf can have a number of potential Mates, just like how there’s not just one person out there for everyone, but once a wolf has found the potential Mate they want to stay with forever they officially Mate them. It’s an act of claiming during sex apparently.” Allison blushes a little at that. “The wolf has to have the other’s verbal consent to claim them, and after the Mating, the wolves won’t be able to smell other potential Mates anymore. Apparently, it’s very rare for wolves to be able to smell potential Mates from a first meeting; their smell usually changes to the wolf as they get to know them which reveals whether they’d be a potential Mate or not. Cora says that Derek had a potential Mate in high school who died in a tragic accident before Derek ever Mated her, probably because they were so young, but that it will be so much more painful considering Derek actually Mated Stiles. That’s why he’s gone running off into the woods.” Allison looks hard at Lydia. “Peter lost his Mate in the fire, and you of all people know how badly that went for him. Cora’s worried Derek won’t even come back sane.”
“I don’t think Stiles is dead.” Lydia says in a rush and Allison almost splinters a tooth with how quickly her jaw clicks shut. “Hear me out, please.”
“Lydia I know it’s hard but-” Lydia cuts her off with her infamous glare.
“You’ve been dealing with Scott for a while so I get it but I’d thank you to remember that unlike your maybe-boyfriend, I’m not actually all looks no brains.” Lydia says sharply, and Allison frowns at her in reproach.
“Scott’s not stupid.” Allison reprimands, but Lydia only shrugs carelessly, as ruthless as she always is when she’s concerned her feelings might get in the way of her judgement.
“Stiles had another thing living inside his body and using it to do unspeakable things for months and you all honestly believe that being sexually assaulted, if that is even what happened, would be the thing to break him?” Lydia blinks a little. “I’m not saying it wouldn’t be… God I can’t even imagine and that on top Derek seemingly rejecting him for it- I can understand why that might have driven him to… But if there’s even a chance that Stiles is still alive and in need of my help I can’t just give up on him.”
“What’s your theory then?” Allison says, not letting any emotion show in her tone.
“I asked the Sheriff how Stiles had done it.” Allison claps a hand over her mouth, feeling bile rise in her throat.
“Christ Lydia!” Lydia just shows her the message thread in answer. The Sheriff hadn’t replied for almost three days, and when he did, the message read ‘It wasn’t a normal suicide. Magic must have been involved. It’s why I buried him myself; I couldn’t take him to the Hospital. According to the law, Stiles is still just missing.’
“I don’t think he committed suicide.”
“You think he was killed?” Lydia hummed.
“For a while, yes. I started getting very creative with my revenge plan. But then the letters didn’t make sense. They were definitely written by Stiles, and scent doesn’t lie; he was the one that had Danny’s laptop. One of the only things that can mask a person’s scent is magic. So then I thought back to my letter, and the other letters I’ve read and I realised at no point does Stiles explicitly say anything about killing himself. There’s a lot of allusion, but he could also be talking about leaving the Pack in a less dramatic sense; maybe he just wanted out. After everything that went down with Derek, maybe he was just going to leave town for a while. So he wrote the letters, planned to leave town, but something intercepted him. This again leads to the conclusion that Stiles was killed, except for one missing detail.” Lydia looks up to meet Allison’s eyes.
“I didn’t scream for him.” Allison blinks. “He was one of my best friends. So why wouldn’t I scream for him? We know distance isn’t an issue. Banshees can only scream for people they know the real first name of, but I still should have gotten that off-feeling for ages beforehand, like I did for you the night you were stabbed.” Lydia neglects to mention it was Stiles who told her this piece of information, knowing it wouldn't exactly help the case she was building.
“How do you explain the body that the Sheriff buried?”
“A shapeshifter, an illusion, whatever has Stiles slipping the Sheriff a memory implanting potion, I don’t know. We’ve seen weirder.” Allison didn’t know what to say. “I know I have basically no proof other than me not Banshee-ing but if Stiles is out there, kidnapped by some Supernatural bullshit I will never forgive myself for not finding him.” Lydia looks pleadingly at her best friend but Allison only shakes her head sadly.
“I wish to the bottom of my heart that you’re right, Lyds, but… I could see the case for him being killed instead of killing himself; I’ll check with my Dad to see if there’s any supernatural activity cropping up but I can’t even entertain the idea that he’s still alive. To lose him a second time would be too much.” Lydia nods stiffly.
“Don’t tell anyone else. You’re right, I shouldn’t get their hopes up. I’ll figure this out on my own.”
“Lydia that’s not what I meant-” Lydia pointedly gets out her laptop between them and starts typing away, not looking at her. With a sigh, Allison clambers back off the bed and picks up her bow and quiver, swinging them easily across her torso.
“I’ll buy you a new lock.” Allison calls over her shoulder as she leaves, not expecting and not receiving a response.
“Honey I’m home!” Jackson calls, in a saccharine tone, and Stiles flips him off from where he’s sat on the couch, reading a pregnancy book. Jackson flops into his favourite armchair nearby, loosening his tie, managing to look sexily debauched instead of uncomfortable. Stiles wishes he wasn’t surrounded by attractive people all the goddamn time.
“How was class?” Stiles asks, turning a page.
“I didn’t have class. I went to go see the pack of this territory to ask them some questions.” Stiles snaps the book closed.
“I wanted to make sure there wouldn’t be a problem with you having a possibly Werewolf child in their territory. The absolute last thing we need is having to fend off both Deaton and a Werewolf pack who both want your baby.”
“Uh, good. I hadn’t thought of that. That’s… Huh.”
“I’m training to be a lawyer Stiles, finding loopholes is basically in my job description. We want this birth to be airtight.” Stiles nods at him, still surprised and a little… Touched? “Get that look off your face, I still don’t like you.” Stiles grins.
“Sure you don’t jackass.”
Jackson waves him off. “Anyway, I explained the situation without giving any details; I think they assumed your Alpha Mate was dead not on the other side of the world, and they don’t know you’re male. Which is when they started giving me about a million bits of advice; why did you not tell me how dangerous this was without your Mate?” Jackson demands. “You said that the birth was dangerous which I could have assumed anyway, but the pregnancy has such high risks! If it's a Werewolf you’re going to start having all these Werewolf pregnancy urges as well as normal human ones and they said you need basically constant supervision without a Mate to stabilise you. They said it was a miracle that you didn’t lose the baby when the Mate bond broke-”
“The Mate bond hasn’t broken.” Stiles whispers. Jackson only catches it because of his Werewolf hearing. “When Derek rejected me it faded to basically a worn string connecting us, but I’d already been told by Deaton by then how important the Mate bond would be, so I held onto it. It can’t be fully broken unless both parties reject it, or one of us dies. When I came here it faded even further; it’s barely a thread now. Once the baby’s born I’ll reject it but for now… Being tied to Derek still is worth it if it doesn’t add stress to the baby.” Jackson makes a face.
“Stiles are you sure? It can’t be healthy for you to be forced to stay connected to that asswipe.” Stiles shakes his head furiously.
“Don’t call him that. It’s not Derek’s fault he didn’t want a baby Jackson. Sure he could have been nicer about it, and I’m sure if I’d stayed in Beacon Hills he would have eventually come round and apologised, probably done something stupid like try to offer financial support. He’s a good man, a good Alpha. He just didn’t want this… With me.” Jackson’s face softens.
“Stilinski, you can’t think it’s you that made Derek not want kids. Clearly he just doesn’t want them with anyone.” Stiles shrugs. “He asked you to be his Mate didn’t he? Just without, apparently, any understanding that this could occur.” Jackson gestures at Stiles’ stomach, where, at five weeks, Stiles still wasn’t showing a baby bump. Stiles doesn’t seem convinced, and Jackson lets it drop for now, knowing a lifetime of insecurities, that God knows Jackson probably helped cultivate, wasn’t going to ease with some speculations. Either way, Jackson still thinks Derek’s an asshole. “Even with you still having a Mate bond, this pregnancy is still extremely dangerous. You have to tell me the second you’re craving something or you want start nesting.”
“Nesting?” Stiles asks, with a sceptical eyebrow raise.
“You say that now but apparently if you're carrying a Werewolf baby you’re going to want to start collecting a hoard.”
“Like a dragon?”
“Yeah. Apparently most pregnant people nest nice food or baby stuff but it can literally be anything. You’re going to want to keep your ‘den’ clean too, and you’re probably not going to let me anywhere near it considering I’m not your Mate.”
“We don’t even know if I’m carrying a Werewolf baby yet.” Stiles points out.
“Well we’ll find out next week.”
“Sure. That’s when the baby’s heart should start beating. Werewolves have slightly slower heartbeats than humans, and that’s the same in the womb apparently. And I’ll be able to hear it.” Stiles wills himself not to cry. Jackson, used in the past week to sniffing out the salty tang of oncoming tears quickly changes the subject. “Anyone got back to you yet?"
“No.” Stiles says, sounding small. “Dad said he gave out my new number days ago.”
“Maybe they’re just giving you the silent treatment because of the whole skipping town thing. I’m sure your dad would have said if something supernatural was going on.”
“I’m sure Scott will be blowing up your phone in a week desperate to be named Godfather.” Jackson tries to joke, and Stiles gives a small smile.
“He’s already Godfather.” Stiles’ smile widens. “If it’s a boy you have two Godfathers and one Godmother right? And if it’s a girl the other way round?” Jackson nods. “Well then, if I have a boy, that makes you the other Godfather.” Jackson gapes, completely taken by surprise. “I mean, you’re the one taking care of us right now. It makes sense.”
“You’ve literally only been living here a week.” Is what Jackson manages to get out. Stiles shrugs.
“You planning on kicking us out any time soon?” Jackson shakes his head vehemently, his wolf snarling at the idea of condemning a pregnant, unprotected vulnerable human to the streets. “Then seems like you have eight-ish months to get used to the idea.”
It’s a month before Derek comes home. The first night he’s back, he drinks enough wolfsbane-spiked beer to give himself light aconite poisoning. He confesses to Cora, between upchucks into the toilet, that he can still feel the faint, faint string of the Mate bond.
Lydia, who’d driven over from university as soon as she’d heard the news, stood in the doorway with a glass of water, narrows her eyes in thought.
“Why did you decide to keep it?” Stiles startles a little from where he’s been cooking a chili for dinner, trying to pay Jackson back in some small way. Jackson isn’t terrible at cooking for a spoilt rich boy, but he has no sense of what ingredients could go well together if it’s not explicitly told to him, and he struggles with making sauces from scratch. Stiles fixes the Werewolf with a look of reproach, one of his hands flying instinctively to his still-flat belly. Jackson hurries to backtrack. “I’m not accusing you of anything! It’s just I can’t imagine being a father at twenty, let alone a single father. I’m just… Confused I suppose.”
Stiles frowns, trying to put his feelings into words. “It wasn’t… I didn’t know I could get pregnant. Had never come across that particular story, especially as it’s apparently so rare it’s more the stuff of legends. Like the Werewolf version of a fairytale. Not sure whether that’s because so few male Alpha Werewolves have found male Mates over history or because the pregnancy is so risky lots of them probably lost their babies before they knew they were pregnant or something else. Deaton says my Spark is probably part of the reason my baby survived this long.” Stiles looks troubled now and Jackson feels like kicking himself. “Anyway, so I turned up to Derek’s loft, told him that I was interested in being his boyfriend as well as his friend-”
“Wait, you guys weren’t already dating?” Jackson asks, now feeling even more sorry for Stiles.
“Nope. I would be the guy that gets knocked up on a one-night stand.” He grins, a little self-deprecatingly. “Derek asked me to be his Mate and…” Stiles waggles his eyebrows and Jackson makes a disgusted face, slightly mollified when it makes Stiles laugh. “Then he left to go to the Alpha convention. About a week later I started getting these sharp pains in my stomach and blacking-out for a few minutes at a time. At first I thought I just wasn’t eating enough or coming down with something but when the symptoms didn’t alleviate, I went to see Deaton. He asked me all the usual embarrassing questions, and when he found out Derek had Mated me, he rubbed this clear potion over my stomach and it started glowing, which is apparently the positive sign. Typical Deaton fashion it took me about three hours to get all the relevant information out of him but yeah, by then it had kind of sunk in that I was pregnant. And it never occurred to me to get rid of the baby. As soon as Deaton mentioned how high-risk it was, I was concerned not relieved. It may have been a complete accident, and no judgement to anyone else but… I love this baby. So much.” Stiles takes a deep breath, his scent now tinging with sorrow. “Derek and I had got really close before all this. It was awkward with Scott after the Nogitsune because of Allison, and Lydia was too busy to talk to me most of the time. Derek was my lifeline, and he just… He knows what it’s like. To lose someone.” Stiles shrugs awkwardly. “We talked about family a lot. Derek said he didn’t believe he’d ever have a family of his own blood outside of Cora again, talked about how his previous relationships had kind of put him off women for good, or at least a long enough time that it probably wouldn’t be feasible to get them pregnant and I thought…” Stiles takes a second to swallow the lump in his throat. “I thought he’d be happy.” Jackson whines in distress. “He said he couldn’t stand the idea of sharing his Mate, that I made him feel sick.”
“Dickhead.” Jackson snarls, and Stiles laughs, a little wetly.
“Ah I get it. I’m not exactly a looker even without the ugly pregnancy bits.” Jackson looks him up and down and shrugs.
“You’re pretty fuckable for a loudmouth twink.” Stiles laughs so hard he almost spits into the chili, and the conversation is dropped in lieu of saving dinner.
Scott arrives at the house the next morning, where Derek is feeling the last of his hangover dissipate and is staring at the ceiling above his bed, wondering what the Hell he's supposed to do with his life now. He smells Scott as he lets himself in through the door, and half-heartedly sits up in bed, already mentally checked-out of this conversation. He blames himself more than Scott could ever blame him anyway.
"Derek." Scott says, and he doesn't sound angry. Cora told him that she'd explained what Derek had worked out before he ran off into the forest to everyone while he was gone, so why doesn't Scott sound angry? He inhales, and feels a sharp tang of shame cut through the fog his grief and guilt has been encasing him in. Scott smells sad, just like everyone else, but he also smells disappointed. "There are two Alphas of this Pack Derek. I don't care if you don't think you deserve to be in it or not. I can't do this without you."
"Why aren't you angry?" Derek says, hollow. "It's my fault. The Sheriff said so." Scott sighs heavily, his scent souring with sadness even further.
"What did Stiles say Derek?" Derek flinches. "He said it wasn't your fault. Whatever happened, whether he cheated on you or he was raped or what, he believed it wasn't your fault. He's my best friend." Derek notices the present tense and thinks only Scott. "I'll follow what he said, not what his heavily grieving and partially intoxicated father said after going through the worst experience of his life. Noah's cut all of us out Derek, not just you." Scott takes a deep breath. "Even my mom. Even me."
Derek feels his shame deepen. Derek had lost his Mate but Scott had lost his best friend of forever, his brother. Derek had lost his Allison but Scott had just lost his Laura and unlike Derek, Scott has no villain to take the anger of that injustice out on. "I'm sorry." Derek croaks, knowing it's not enough but feeling the Pack instinct to comfort, even though the two of them were on equal footing. There are tears welling up in Scott's eyes.
"Me, you and Noah loved him the most." Scott chokes out. "Noah was like- I'd say a second father but my dad was never much of one to be placed as first anyway. Him cutting me out plus you leaving- no-one else gets it Derek. I know, I know it's so painful and so bad and you lost your anchor but I need you to stay with me. Maybe if this hadn't happened I could have run the Pack on my own but I'm not- I'm not strong enough and-" Derek tugs Scott into his arms as Scott's hold body shudders with sobs he's trying to suppress. "Stiles is worth it, you know? This pain- this whole... I wouldn't give up my memories of him even if it made the pain go away. I don't want to forget him, not for anything."
"I know. Me too." Derek says softly, and the two Alphas draw strength from each other, forging a bond that was fledgling and new, but stronger than iron. Almost, almost as strong, as the bond that had been between each of them and Stiles, which seems right, considering Stiles was the catalyst to its formation.
Jackson wakes up in the middle of the night, on edge and uncomfortable. It takes him a few moments to work out what’s shaken him awake, and when he does he hones in on the sound, silently getting out of bed and padding down the corridor, his claws and fangs dropping as his eyes flash. There are multiple heartbeats in his apartment, multiple heartbeats in the apartment with the vulnerable human that is his (for now) to protect.
He quickens his pace as he realises all the heartbeats are in Stiles’ room, and pushes the door open, a snarl rising in his throat. Stiles, wrapped up in blankets but still shivering, is the only person there. Jackson gaze narrows in on his stomach and feels relief unknot the tension held in his body.
He shakes Stiles awake, unable to keep a small smile off his face. “Stiles?”
“Jackson?” Stiles slurs. “What is it?”
“Your babies are Werewolves.”
“Congrats. You’re having twins.”
When a week goes by since Stiles left Beacon Hills, he assumes his friends are pissed off with him. Two weeks, and he assumes something Supernatural has probably come up; he knows what that's like all too well and doesn't begrudge them. Three weeks in, he starts making lists of things he needs to tell each person when they're done with the Supernatural threat; details to Scott about his babies' heartbeats (that so far he's only been able to get from Jackson as Deaton still hasn't got back to him about any of his 'contacts'), the fact that it is babies- plural!- to Lydia so she can help him figure out the mathematical conclusions he's trying to draw about whether Werewolves are more likely to produce twins, and to Erica so that she'll help him start coming up with names, reminding Isaac that he can still seek him out after his nightmares and to suggest he go meet with Chris in France and get out of Beacon Hills for a while, a recipe he's tried out that he thinks Boyd would like, opinions about the first episode of the new season of the show him and Cora both like, a herb he thinks can speed up Supernatural healing he wants to give to Melissa, help with setting up his new entirely online Supernatural consulting business from Danny to make sure it gets just as many customers as usual, ask Kira to send him all the legends on Japanese Fox spirits so he could be sure that none of them ended up here in England. After a month, the only person he's heard from is his dad (at least once a week) and Deaton, who explains that he’s randomly decided to go trekking across the States in search of some rare plants and has ran out of contacts to ask, so Stiles is on his own. Deaton had also managed to inform him that after he started his second trimester he shouldn’t fly; normal pregnant people can fly way into their second trimester but considering how high-risk Stiles’ pregnancy was, it isn’t a good idea. Not that Deaton knows Stiles was across the world, far away from his Mate; the piece of advice is just a lucky coincidence. It seems Deaton is the only person Noah has given his new number to that has actually bothered to learn it.
Stiles had no idea whether he should tell Derek he was having twins or not, but he was apparently being excused from having to make that decision as Stiles had absolutely no way to contact him unless he asks Jackson to email Lydia to tell Derek, and then that would give away that he’s staying with Jackson. He’s kept to his decision not to tell his dad how high-risk the pregnancy is, seeing as Noah’s on a hair-trigger towards Derek as it is. Noah’s determined that he’ll come and visit Stiles over Christmas, despite Stiles trying to persuade him not to waste the money.
When Stiles finally cautiously asks his father if everything has been alright with the Pack, after explaining what he wants to tell them all, Noah replies that nothing Supernatural is going on and although he isn’t seeing them much (which he assures Stiles is by his own choice not the Pack trying to keep something from him) they seem perfectly fine, though they’re missing him a lot. Stiles barely manages to keep from scoffing; interesting way of showing they miss me if they don’t even call. At least Jackson hadn’t heard from Lydia in a while either, but their contact wasn’t as regular.
He doesn’t want to doubt his friends, his Packmates, after everything they’d been through, but Stiles is more than a little hurt that it seems everyone, including Scott- Best-Friends-Since-Uh-FOREVER-Scott- is picking Derek’s side in this. Did they know that he hadn’t tricked Derek into this? It wasn’t like he went and poked holes in a condom or anything. Maybe he hadn’t made that clear enough to Derek? If so he can understand why they’d be really upset with him, and honestly he’s a little flattered that they think he’s that meticulous in his planning that he would find out the possibility of getting pregnant via Alpha and then spend the next four years convincing one to fall in love with him (not that Derek ever said he was in love with you, the vicious voice in his head whispers), but he still thinks, if their situations were reversed, Stiles would have reached out to Scott by now. If not even for Scott’s sake, but the innocent child caught up in the whole thing that would become part of the Pack. Stiles has never been the most secure person about his place in the Pack, and every day that his phone doesn’t ring or flash with new messages he feels himself sink a little deeper.
Noah Stilinski spends all day, every day at work. He hates coming home to the empty house, knowing the last time Stiles wasn't here to be shrieking his ear off about his latest news was when Claudia died, and Stiles had practically lived at Scott's while Melissa forced him to sort out his drinking problem. Every so often he'll forget and call out into the house when he arrives home, only to hear that same empty echo. He's better about his grief this time round, throws himself into his work instead of a bottle, and any time he feels like drinking he calls Stiles, and grounds himself with his son's usual nattering, even if it's half a world away.
Melissa still comes to see him at the end of every week, even though he sends her away snarling each time. All these people, this Pack Stiles had put his life and heart into, had abandoned his son at his most vulnerable. Had formed tight walls around the main perpetrator, Derek, instead of tearing him to pieces for what he did. Had dared, when the hypocritical piece of shit of an Alpha had run off into the forest because he was grieving, to ask the Sheriff for his help tracking him down. Like he had any right to grieve Stiles, when he'd been the one to drive him away.
So, yes, he did feel slightly guilty about letting all Stiles' friends assume the worst, confirming it to Scott when he was too drunk off his ass to consider the consequences, but only because it was hurting Stiles that they weren't contacting him. He hasn’t touched a drink since, not that he’s let the Pack know that, preferring to let them think he’s still grieving so they’ll leave him alone. Noah wasn't sure about Stiles living with Jackson, remembering years of the blond boy featuring in a young Stiles' nightmares almost as often as nightmares about Noah dying and leaving him completely alone, but after speaking to him and hearing Jackson's utter derision regarding Derek, he figured Stiles was in safe hands. He hoped he could convince Stiles to never come back here, to keep his children- dear Lord Noah was going to be a grandpa- far away from this cursed town. As far as he can see, Jackson seems to be dealing with the long-distance from the Pack fine; Stiles had gushed about the gorgeousness of the place he was living, so why would he ever need to be back here? He admitted it was selfishness driving him too; he'd almost lost Stiles so many times these past few years, and knew there were many more times before his son had revealed the Werewolf secret to him that he might have lost Stiles and never known why. He couldn’t put himself through that again. Losing Claudia had killed a part of him, true, but Noah didn’t know what he’d become if he lost Stiles.
It made him sympathise a little more with Peter Hale, and if that wasn’t a scary enough thought to keep Stiles away from here, he didn’t know what was.
“Tell me what I’ve missed.” Derek says, a few hours later, when he’s dressed and apologised for leaving until Scott begged him to stop. Scott rubs a tired hand over his eyes.
“Deaton’s gone, he didn’t say where, just left a note on the door that he wouldn’t be back for a while and he’d send someone to take over the vet duties soon, and then I could continue apprenticing there. He hasn’t sent anyone yet. Danny’s asked to be an official member of the Pack but I told him I’d have to ask you first. I said Noah’s cut himself from all of us which is true but he’s been sending us random texts of advice? I think it’s when he’s drunk, I’m not sure. Like he told mom Deaton had mentioned a herb that helps speed up Supernatural healing, and he sent a recipe to Boyd with no explanation. Anyway, he told Isaac that Stiles was talking about Isaac leaving to go with Chris to France and get out of here for a while, before Stiles-” Scott coughs. “Anyway, so Isaac’s gone to stay with Chris. He keeps us updated.” There was a whole tangle of emotions Derek didn’t know how to make sense of that surround Scott as he speaks about the other Werewolf, but apparently it isn’t relevant information. “Allison still hasn’t been taking to the shift brilliantly; I think it’s one thing to be a hunter who’s gotten over prejudice towards Werewolves and another to be one herself. We've had to sedate her on the full moon. And I’m not… I’m not the right person to teach her. Anyone else, but not Allison.” More conflicting emotions, and Derek doesn’t know how Scott’s shouldered all of this on his own for the past month. “Her and Lydia are also in a fight, since last week, but neither of them will tell me what it’s about. Lydia hasn’t Skyped in to a Pack meeting since the week you left, though she was here last night to welcome you back; I think she’s going back for class on Monday. Cora’s started teaching self-defence at the gym. I don’t know how, or why, but it seems to calm her down. I think she feels guilty because she wasn’t as close to Stiles as the rest of us, and without you she felt out of place. She’s been relentless in trying to find you. Kira and I are on a break because I can’t- Not right now. She doesn’t deserve that so. I can’t.” A small smile graces Scott’s lips, and some genuine happiness shines through his scent. “Boyd proposed to Erica.”
“What?” Scott opens his phone and shows him a photo, which is a picture of Boyd’s letter from Stiles.
Pick yourself the fuck up and propose the absolute Hell out of Erica. It’s been what, a year since we picked out that ring? I know you don’t like to talk much but ‘Will you marry me?’ is only four words. You know she’ll say yes.
Stay safe man.
Derek feels his own smile threaten to curl the corners of his mouth, even as he wants to cry that it isn’t fair, it’s not ok because he’ll never get to propose to Stiles, or, more likely, hear those four words from Stiles instead. He can almost picture Stiles saying you got the Wolf ‘will you be my Mate’ question big guy, I’m getting the human one but he shuts it down immediately, handing the phone back to Scott instead.
“I’ll have to congratulate them.” Derek says softly.
“I’d hope so, seeing as I’m fairly certain you’re going to be Boyd’s best man.” Derek blinks in surprise, and Scott’s smile widens, kind and sunny as ever. Derek’s not sure there’s anything in the world that can take the goodness out of Scott McCall. “Isaac will be Erica’s.” Scott’s smile dims slightly at Isaac’s name.
“Well that means you’ve got until the wedding to sort all that out.” Derek says, not sure if he’s going for supportive or darkly humorous. Scott seems to take it as both, shaking his head despairingly.
“Any advice?” Scott tries to joke, and then winces as the mood abruptly stiffens. Derek thinks about his past relationships and feels the hysterical urge to relate them to the Henry the Eighth rhyme; divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. His went more died, was evil killed almost my entire family eventually died was brought back and died again, meant nothing, was evil and almost killed everyone in my new pack, escaped the hellishness that is my life, committed suicide which didn’t have quite the same ring. He tries to shake off his sick humour, hating reducing Stiles to that, like Stiles could be held anywhere near in comparison to the rest of them; even Braeden had nothing on Stiles Stilinski.
“Don’t be me.” Derek says finally, softly, and doesn’t wait for Scott’s response. “Pack meeting tomorrow? Text everyone, even Lydia.”
“There was one other thing.” Scott says hesitantly, and Derek raises an eyebrow. “I said we haven’t really seen Lydia, but she did say that Jackson hasn’t been responding to her.”
“They kept in contact?”
“Yeah, apparently so. Allison says it’s a whole mess but… I think Lydia’s worried.”
“Jackson, what the Hell is this?” Stiles says, at normal volume, knowing Jackson can hear him. Jackson comes up the stairs and into the room, looking round for potential threats. Stiles feels like snorting but holds it in. Instead, he gestures at Jackson’s computer, which had been left open on Jackson’s emails. There are ten, unopened, emails from Lydia, dating from weeks ago to just yesterday. Jackson shuffles his feet in the carpet, looking a little sheepish.
“Lydia- We’re-” Jackson shakes his head, as if to clear it. “It’s not breakable, between us. It’s not a romantic thing, not purely. I wouldn’t hold her to a promise she made when she was sixteen, not after I left and I haven’t kept to that either but we’re not going to- It’s never going to really be over between us. But I’m still pissed off with her, for hurting you. I figured I'd make her stew a little on that for once.” Stiles softens, even as Jackson won’t meet his eye. If you’d asked him a year ago, hell a month ago, if Stiles thought Jackson Whittemore would ever put him before Lydia Martin he would have laughed himself silly. Something about the situation, how reliant Stiles is on Jackson in his vulnerable position, how that plays into the Pack instincts Jackson has been craving for years, and the fact they live together, has made them close fast.
“Jacks, I appreciate it, I really do, but if you don’t reply she’s going to think you’re in danger and then she’ll fly over here and she’ll find out where I am.” Jackson pales.
“I hadn’t thought about that.”
“That’s why I’m the brains and you’re the brawn here.” Stiles jokes, and Jackson scowls at him, even as he preens over his muscles. Stiles looks at the computer screen again. “Also, why are your parents resorting to emailing you? Did they lose your number?” Jackson flinches, his face going cold and hard in a way Stiles remembered from school but hasn’t seen since he’s been here.
“They’re not my parents.” Jackson hisses, and for a second Stiles swears Jackson’s eyes don’t flash Beta-gold but the yellow slit eyes of the Kanima. Stiles considers him for a second.
“Jackson, this is none of my business, so I’m going to say this once.” Stiles walks over, and places a hand on Jackson’s shoulder. “I don’t what it’s like to be adopted. I can only sympathise. But I do know what it’s like to lose a parent.” Stiles shrugs, hunching his shoulders as if that’s going to make him feel less vulnerable. “Your parents chose you. And you have them both, both of the people who raised you and helped shape the man you are today. I don’t know about you, but I quite like that guy, when he’s not being a total idiot, or you know, paralysing my friend so I have to hold them up in a pool for two hours.” Stiles grins, and then sobers slightly. “I would kill to be able to speak to my mom again, god, especially now. I have no idea what I’m doing, trying to become a parent. At least my dad had my mom when I was little; I’m just going to have me, and I've got double the number of kids. I’d love some advice from her right now, or even just a hug. To hear her voice… And you can hear your mom’s voice by just dialling the phone.” Jackson hasn’t visibly untensed, though his hands have curled out of their fists. “Just think about it.”
"I didn't just run away." Is what Derek starts the Pack meeting with (well, really he starts it by telling Danny he can, of course, be a member of the Pack, but that’s more one-to-one than a full Pack meeting). Erica and Boyd had come back to the house late the day before and had torn him a new one for leaving in between demanding various advice about their wedding and accepting his sincere congratulations. They'd all cried a little when Erica whispered she wished Stiles was here to see her wearing the ring he'd helped Boyd pick out, and the three of them had cuddled close, wishing Isaac was here too to make it a true reunion of their original Pack. The happy couple are now curled up on the main sofa in Derek's almost completely furnished front room, next to the laptop that features Isaac on Skype. Kira is perched on the other side of the laptop, looking like she's not sure about her whole involvement here, while Cora, sat on the armchair she'd declared with venom was hers and hers alone, gazed at the Kitsune with something like pain in her eyes. Oh Derek hadn't forgotten that part of Cora's letter, not one bit. Scott's sat in the other armchair with Danny, Allison and Lydia leant against walls opposite to each other pointedly not making eye-contact. Derek can feel how fractured the Pack is, and wishes Stiles was still here with all his heart. Scott and Derek may be able to lead the Pack, to give them advice and protect them and use their instinct and extra senses to figure things out, but everyone had relied on Stiles, had felt like they could be vulnerable with him because Stiles was always vulnerable, being human and breakable. No-one knew all the secrets of the Pack like Stiles, and now without an outlet all those secrets are choking everyone under their weight. “I thought- I didn’t believe it to start with. Two weeks was just pain and running and hiding in my wolf form but I came back to myself enough to call some of the Alphas I’d become friends with at the convention. Just to check that none of them had heard of anything…”
“You thought he might not be dead.” Lydia says, sharply, from the other side of the room. Allison shoots her a look. Derek chokes and shakes his head.
“I thought he might have been killed.” Derek corrects. “I wanted something to hurt.” His Pack shifts closer to him, even Allison fighting her instincts, trying to soothe the raw pain in his voice. “I didn’t find anything. I came home. I’m sorry I left. I’m going to be better.”
“Derek none of us blame you.” Surprisingly, it’s Kira who speaks. She flushes a little as all the attention shifts to her, but doesn’t break her earnest stare. “You didn’t do anything wrong.” Derek sighs, a little shakily.
“Maybe, maybe not. But I’m going to be better, better than I was before all of this. I was never meant to be an Alpha but this Pack is mine. I will defend it with my life. It’s an honour to be an Alpha of you all.”
“I think that’s the most I’ve ever heard you speak.” Allison remarks, but none of them are hiding how touched they are. Derek clears his throat, and the Werewolves in the room can smell him actually force the feelings he’s been displaying down, covering his grief and regret and guilt and anger away where the only person it can hurt is himself.
“I managed to make connections with every Alpha from here to New York that came to the convention.” Derek smells their disbelief and smiles, somewhat wryly. “I’m touched you’re all so surprised I know how to make friends.”
“You don’t know how to make friends.” Cora says, bluntly. Derek shrugs.
“I know how to make alliances.” He tips his head to Scott, and feels the other Alpha smile in acknowledgement of their history. “We have allies now. Generally, the deal is that other packs will take out rogue packs trying to get to the Nemeton and kill everyone, and in return we’ll continue defending the stupid tree that apparently powers all the Supernatural creatures on this side of the States. We’re the last line of defence now, basically. Hopefully we shouldn’t have quite so many Supernatural problems from now on.”
Scott and his original three Betas look especially stunned, unable to comprehend a Werewolf lifestyle that doesn’t involve fighting for your life every other weekend. Derek shares a sad smile with Cora, knowing that is what their lives used to be, before the fire. “Does this mean you’re going to chill out a little with training?” Erica smirks. Derek just looks at her and she sighs, resigned.
“That’s all I had to report.” Derek says, looking at Scott to see if he has anything to add. Before he can confirm or deny, Cora’s on her feet, looking a little like she’s about to vomit, smelling of nerves.
“The Pack’s been fractured since before Stiles left. And my brother’s going to work his ass off to be better, so I’m trying as well. And I know this isn’t just my issue, but apart from Lydia and Allison’s fight which I think is completely unrelated, the only one single one not caught in this whole mess is Danny.” Scott, Kira, Allison and Isaac all stiffen, and look at Cora confusedly, wondering how she fits into their love tangle.
“Not single.” Danny calls out. “Not for the next three weeks at least.” Danny grins, a little lecherously, but for once he fails to break the tension.
Cora directs her focus at Kira. “It’s usual for Werewolves to have a fair few potential Mates in their lifetime, just like humans have a fair few partners. I didn’t have a single potential Mate in South America.” Derek sucks in a sharp breath through his nose, surprised that there wasn’t a single person that both of Cora’s sides agreed to. Derek had both Paige and Braeden before Stiles, though Stiles is the only one he was ever actually interested in Mating. “I thought that maybe it wasn’t possible for me.” Cora continues, stiltingly. “That I wouldn’t- A relationship seemed so out of my reach. I didn’t want one.” Cora breathes in, then out, then speaks again. “And then the principal changed at school and I was being introduced to Scott’s new girlfriend, who smelt like flowers and baking and affection, and I almost shifted in the middle of the school hallway.” Kira’s mouth is hanging open, shock plain on everyone’s faces. It’s almost unheard of for Werewolves to be able to smell their potential Mates from first, well, smell. Cora bows her head, turns her gaze pleadingly to Scott. “I mean no disrespect, as my Alpha, but Stiles was right. In my letter he told me being true to myself would be less painful than holding it in, no matter the reaction. I’d regret it forever if I didn’t make my feelings known.” Cora says, more softly, looking back to Kira now, shy. “I’ll be staying at Derek’s loft for the time being, if you want to find me. And if you’re not interested, or only interested in men or whatever, I hope we can still be friends.” Kira doesn’t say anything, her face still blank with surprise, and Cora nods to herself and then walks calmly out of the door, presumably back to Derek’s loft.
Everyone’s avoiding each other’s eyes, no-one knowing how to break the tension until Lydia announces she’s leaving with an exasperated but somewhat fond, “Hales.” that seems to sum the Pack meeting up quite succinctly.
Chris had confirmed through Allison that there hadn’t been any unable Supernatural occurrences according to his sources in the States, and though Lydia has electronically tailed all the witch and druid covens she could find for the past two months in-between her classes with Danny’s help, no-one has mentioned any kind of spell that involved an Alpha’s mate. Lydia’s translation of various books left by Deaton confirmed there were spells that involved Alpha Mates, (though most of them were about unclaimed Mates) so she wasn’t giving up on that avenue yet.
Derek admitting he still felt traces of the Mate bond was all the confirmation she needed that Stiles was alive. She believes it, with all her heart. There isn’t another option.
Jackson has finally gotten back to her, and she opens the email after a few moments deliberating whether she should let him panic for a while.
I’m sorry it’s been ages but I wasn’t sure how to say this to you. Recent advice from a friend who tells me I’m being stupid and should just come out with it is the only reason I’m admitting this at all.
I once told you that you were the only woman for me. And I wasn’t lying, not in the slightest, but it seems you might not be the only person for me. I know you suspected it, and I’m never going to be able to thank you enough for encouraging me to knock off how narrow-minded I was. There’s no-one serious, but I’ve been on a couple of dates with a few guys and it’s been good. Really good. I hope you understand.
I’ve got another confession, and a favour to ask. I miss the Pack. Or, I miss having a Pack. There’s enough Werewolves here that full moons aren’t lonely but it’s not the same. Once I’ve finished with my law degree, and cleared up a few things, I’m coming back. For definite. It’s up to you what happens then.
I was hoping you could also ask Stilinski to send me an email. After the cryptic one a couple of months ago (how did he even get my email address?) I haven’t heard back from him and I could use some of his research skills. Not that you can admit that to him.
Lydia reads the email again, not sure what to do with the deluge of information she’s just been given. She dials Allison, who picks up on the first ring.
“Lydia?” Lydia doesn’t think she’s imagining the undercurrent of concern in Allison’s voice.
“I’m fine.” Lydia assures.
“What do you want?” Allison replies, sounding more hostile now she knows her friend isn’t in any danger, and pissed off at how many times Lydia’s ignored her texts.
“The email that Stiles sent from Danny’s laptop was to Jackson.”
“What does that mean?” Allison asks, her voice softening slightly.
“I don’t know yet.” Lydia replies, narrowing her eyes at her computer screen. “But I’m going to find out.”
Scott's never needed Stiles more.
He parks at the cemetery gate, smiling fondly as he thinks of how aghast Stiles would be that Derek's only reaction to his motorbike was a fist bump. He leaves his helmet with the bike, hating how clunky it was but knowing if he left it at home his mom would go into a rant about how Werewolf healing can't fix everything Scott McCall look at Peter; do you want to be stuck in a coma for years?! He pulls the slightly battered flowers out of his paniers and follows the not-quite forgotten path through the cemetery to Claudia Stilinski's grave.
"Hey Mrs Stilinski." Scott greets softly, possibly too quiet for human hearing, and puts the flowers down. Next to Claudia's headstone, there's a small wooden cross stuck in the ground, that reads 'STILES' in Boyd's clear-cut handwriting. If Scott concentrates, he can smell traces of Erica and Boyd and Isaac, as well as Noah. The scent of Stiles, which Scott can still remember even though it’s been over two months since he was last in contact with it, is conspicuously absent. The envelope, marked 'Mom', propped up against Claudia's headstone is unopened. "Stiles asked me to make sure Noah's ok, but I don't know how to help. I'm going to keep trying though, Mrs Stilinski, I promise. I actually came here to talk to Stiles though, because Noah won't tell me where he buried him. I figure if Stiles is causing menace in the afterlife somewhere though he wouldn't let a little thing like location stop him from helping out his best bud."
Scott sits on the grass, crosses his legs, and tries to relax his shoulders, facing the cross. "Hey man." Scott says, and then has to take a full minute to let the lump in his throat subside long enough to continue. "I know you told me there was nothing I could have done, but I want you to know I'm still sorry. Maybe I couldn't have done anything, but I know I've never been the most attentive friend when my love life gets involved, and I took for granted that you'd always be around when I sorted everything out. I should have made sure you were ok, and I should have pushed you to talk to me about whatever it was that you were hiding. I don't know if Derek was right either time or if it was something completely unrelated, but I don't care. You're my best friend, and just because you're not-" The lump comes back and Scott runs a shaky hand through his hair. "Just because you're not here anymore, it doesn't stop that from being true. Whatever happened between you two, I should have made it clearer that I would’ve listened. Derek’s my co-Alpha and a good friend, but I’d always have your back first Stiles."
A breeze stirs the air, and the sweet scent of the flowers Scott's put down wafts over to him. He smiles, small and unsure, and hugs his arms round himself. "In true Scott McCall fashion though, Stiles, I need some advice. Kira could be Cora's Mate, though I guess you knew that one already. I really like Kira, but I don't think she's a potential Mate for me, and it seems wrong to keep her from Cora if that's what she wants. On top of that, I still haven't really spoken to Allison, and it's killing me that I don't know how to act around Isaac anymore. You remember me and Allison Stiles, it was so... Wild. I was so in love with her I put everyone else in danger. I'm not really sure it was healthy, and I don't know if we could be something better now we've grown up. But I can't risk Isaac's friendship, especially because he's Pack. I'm an Alpha, I'm supposed to keep this Pack together, not tear it apart. Derek's a wreck but I think you'd be proud of how hard he's trying. Even so, I know he's not even a little bit ok, and I don’t know how to reach him. When you first became proper friends with him he opened up to you. I don’t even think he opens up to Cora unless he’s drunk. I don’t want to push him when I need him to keep it together for the Pack, but I also don’t want him to think he has to hold it all in. We’re supposed to be a family and at the moment we’re just in pieces.” Scott sighs, and traces the wooden cross with his fingertips. “I don’t know what to do Stiles.”
“Lydia finally replied!” Jackson calls, from the kitchen. Stiles huffs and wanders through, following his nose.
“You’re cooking?” Stiles asks, surprised. Jackson’s ears go a little red.
“Yeah, from that recipe book you keep in the cupboard?” Stiles smiles, a little sadly.
“It was my mom’s.” Jackson’s eyes widen.
“Shit Stiles I’m sorry I didn’t know-”
“Jacks it’s fine. It’s nice actually. Let me guess, Pack instincts?” Jackson’s ears get even redder.
“What did Lydia say? Took her sweet time replying.” Stiles asks, taking pity on the Werewolf.
“I was expecting that, considering I waited a month before even opening her emails. She asked me who my ‘pushy friend’ was.” Jackson smirks, and Stiles rolls his eyes. “Said she was glad I’d finally pulled my head out of my ass.”
“I told you she’d take it well.”
“Yeah yeah. Asked about class, seemed ok with the idea that I plan on coming back to Beacon Hills. She said that you ‘weren’t available’ but that she was ‘campaigning to get Stiles back’ but the rest of the Pack were ‘refusing to see her side of things’.” Stiles frowns.
“Do you think they’ve been told they’re not allowed to contact me?”
“As if that would stop Lydia. And by whom?”
“It might if it was an order from her Alpha. Lydia is still Supernatural and part of the Pack, I’m not sure how much of an influence Alpha’s orders can have on her. If that’s the case, they know Lydia well enough to make sure there was no loopholes through which she could contact me. But I don’t know if Derek would go that far, and I definitely don’t understand why Scott would back him up.”
“Do you want me to tell her where you are?” Stiles hesitates, and then shakes his head.
“This is all still guesswork, and I can’t risk anything that might add stress to this pregnancy.” Stiles sighs, resigned to having no friends outside of Jackson for at least another five months. He stretches, trying to click his shoulder, and raises an eyebrow when he sees Jackson staring at his stomach. “Listening to their heartbeats again?” Stiles teases.
“What?” Stiles blinks, flummoxed, before running to the nearest mirror, which is in the adjacent bathroom. He yanks his t-shirt over his head, and runs a hand wonderingly over his stomach, where the tiniest of protrusions has grown, probably more noticeable because of how skinny he is. He smiles down at it, and for the first time since he started getting tearfully hormonal he doesn’t try to supress them. “Hey babies.” He whispers.
“Hey Scott.” Kira’s leaning against Scott’s bike, looking past him into the graveyard with a quiet smile. “How’s Stiles?”
Instead of answering, Scott just folds himself into her arms, slumping to let her hold him up and let the weight off his shoulders for a second. She strokes a hand through his hair and Scott takes a shuddering breath.
“I’m sorry.” He says, eventually, pulling away. Kira’s smile doesn’t dim.
“Don’t be.” Kira tucks her hair behind her ears. “I’ve been talking to Derek. It’s nice to have a friend who’s a bit older, and I think he’s just glad his only friend isn’t his sister.” Her smile turns a bit mischievous. “He also hasn’t worked out it’s me messing with the lights yet and he keeps trying to fix the wiring.” Scott chuckles. “I know Cora doesn’t want to live at the Pack house once it’s built, because it’s too many memories, so I think I’m going to move in with her at the loft.” Scott raises an inquisitive eyebrow and Kira blushes, flustered.
“I don’t know yet. We’re focussing on being friends for now. I’m not sure I agree with this whole ‘scent out a girlfriend’ thing.” Scott snorts and Kira’s smile grows.
“Yeah. Werewolves are kind of weird.”
“Least your culture doesn’t feature fox spirits that possess people.” Kira points out.
“Touché.” Scott replies. There’s a comfortable pause. “Are we ok?” Scott asks, finally.
“I love you Scott McCall. We are going to make awesome friends.” Scott squeezes her hand. The two of them stare out into the cemetery, knowing each other well enough that they don’t need to explain through all the unspoken words. Instead, they hold hands, watch the sun set over the hill, and eventually turn for home, both feeling a little lighter.
"You know, my dad's right." There's been something off about Stiles today, something a little desperate and manic in his eyes. He's surrounded himself with cushions on the sofa, ostensibly because his back hurts. Jackson doesn't have the heart (or the nerve) to tell him that he's taken every single pillow Jackson owns that aren't the two on Jackson's bed and stacked them in the laundry room. Jackson hasn't been in the laundry room in three days. He washes his clothes at the university accommodation and tries to forget the way his heart had raced in genuine fear when Stiles had caught him trying to steal a pillow back. They haven't talked about it, but if Jackson wasn't a Werewolf he'd still have scratches from how hard Stiles' nails had raked down his face. Then again, Stiles had made apology cupcakes so Jackson wasn't complaining. Jackson personally thought the laundry room was an odd place for a nest but when Jackson had subtly asked why Stiles now spends all his time in there, Stiles had just said the sound of the washing machine was soothing and it smelt nice in there. Stiles didn’t seem to find anything odd about his new habits, nor had he mentioned exactly what he was putting through the wash to have the laundry on all the time. He’s just glad Stiles didn’t start Nesting until now, halfway through his pregnancy, because having to deal with university utility rooms for nine months would have driven him insane.
"Hmm?" Jackson replies, non-committal and unsure of what the right answer is that won't end in a repeat of the face-attacking incident.
"You're doing fine here. Maybe my babies won't need this stupid Pack." Jackson hears Stiles' heart blip and knows he doesn't believe it himself, but Jackson's more concerned that Stiles has reached this breaking point anyway.
"I'm not doing fine." Jackson says, without really thinking about it. Stiles raises his eyebrows, and pats the seat next to him. Jackson sighs and grabs the bottle of wolfsbane-laced vodka from the kitchen before sitting down. He’s too sober for this conversation. He takes a swig as Stiles wolf-whistles and glares at his friend. “What do I do when I’m not in class Stiles?”
“Well you do all the shopping and everything since this.” Stiles pokes at his stomach affectionately. Stiles could probably still hide the baby bump under baggy jumpers but after a long discussion they’d both decided it wasn’t worth the risk. “And you chat with me, and you do your classwork, and you go to that coffee shop sometimes…” Stiles frowns. “Jesus man you need to get out there!” Jackson takes another drink.
“I don’t have any friends, I don’t have a partner, I haven’t got laid since a month after you arrived and I don’t know how to talk to my parents, despite the fact I’m twenty-one not sixteen.”
Stiles flinches, his whole aura flooding with guilt. Jackson wrinkles his nose, hating the smell. “Jacks I’m sorry it’s my fault-”
“No it isn’t.” Jackson refutes. “You being here is the best thing that’s happened since I left.” Stiles’ bottom lip wobbles, like he’s about to burst into tears. Jackson drinks again. “I had all these Pack instincts I can now give in to. The amount I’ve scent-marked you is ridiculous. You can hardly even smell the babies anymore.” Stiles doesn’t think about that night in Derek’s loft, how much the smell of his babies had offended the Alpha. He doesn’t. “Being able to be a good Beta and help provide for the Alpha Mate is basically the happiest my wolf’s ever been.”
“Scuse you I do most of the cooking.” Stiles teases.
“You want to do the bins Stilinski?” Stiles pales, going slightly green at the thought of how on edge his stomach is. Stiles is used to being the weak, vulnerable human, but he hasn’t felt this delicate since his mom’s death. He doesn’t like the comparison. Yeah, Derek breaking up with him and the Pack abandoning him has sucked, like really, seriously, sucked but he refuses to regret his babies. The twins, he already knows, are going to be the most important people in his life. He loves them to bits. He only hopes that how much he loves them can make up for the fact that their other father is refusing to acknowledge their existence.
“Sure it’s not like I’m feral and running round the woods naked without them, but my control is shocking, everyone who’s not Pack smells awful, any time someone accidentally scent-marks me I get sent into a panic because I don’t have any Pack scent-marks and my wolf feels like I’m betraying the Pack plus I just miss Lydia because it’s Lydia. I can’t talk to anyone here about the Kanima because people would want to use me for it.” Jackson takes a deep breath and then lets it all come pouring out, possibly because he’s getting more than a little tipsy. “I killed people! I killed so many people because I was too fucked up to just become a normal Werewolf and then when Lydia saved me I repaid her by running away! I can’t look at my parents because I don’t want them to look back and see that their son is a monster.”
“Jackson…” Stiles breathes, his tears welling up. Jackson doesn’t look at him, his hand shaking slightly as it’s wrapped around the bottle. There’s a pause and then Stiles’ heartbeat speeds up, smelling like distress. Before Jackson can ask, Stiles starts speaking. “It was my birthday yesterday.”
“Shit Stiles I didn’t get you anything-”
“No. Neither did anyone else. I gave them the full twenty-four hours because, time-zones,” Stiles punctuates with self-depreciating jazz-hands, “but nothing. I’m finally legal to drink and I can’t because I’ve got to work out how to raise two kids on basically no income all by myself and-”
“Stiles. You’re not alone.” Jackson states, a solid presence at Stiles’ side. His arm is gripping Stiles by the neck, fingers stroking comfortingly through the hairs at the base of his head. His eyes, reflecting the loneliness and hurt that Stiles knows can be seen in his own, hold Stiles steady.
Stiles kisses him.
“Isaac, I need to talk to you. Do you have a minute?”
“Straight-forward. I like it.” Cora compliments. Allison groans and bangs her head on the table.
“You’ve approved all of them!” Cora shrugs, unapologetic.
“They were all fine.” Cora smiles, trying to be comforting. It’s a bit of a turn around from the Cora Allison knew a little over a month ago, but that Cora didn’t have her potential Mate living in the loft with her. Allison isn’t quite sure what’s going on with them, but both looked happier than the rest of the Pack put together. Even if it did make them feel guilty sometimes, Derek was the first to assure them that the last thing Stiles would want was the Pack moping around. This was quickly seconded by Scott, who had been the one behind arranging the Pack sleepover on Stiles’ birthday. They’d played video games in their underwear and gotten outrageously drunk, which Scott declared is exactly what Stiles would’ve done if he were there. Scott, Derek, Erica and Lydia (who’d come back from university for the sleepover) each had to excuse themselves for a good cry at various points in the night (or at least, Scott had cried, no-one was quite sure what the others did) but all in all the Pack had left the next day feeling a little more whole. It had made Allison even more sure in her decision that she needed to follow Stiles’ last advice, but it was one thing to drunkenly promise it to herself and another to actually follow through with it. “No offence though, why are you asking me?”
“Lydia’s still in a tiff with me, and outside of her, Isaac’s my best friend, then Scott.” Cora winces in sympathy. “Erica and Boyd are chill with me now but I did try to kill them that one time, it’s still a little awkward with Kira, Danny is terrible at love advice he only does sex and Derek’s not exactly approachable.”
“Why am I not approachable?” Derek glares from the doorway, where Allison hadn’t even heard him enter. She jumps in her seat and spins round to look at him, hand on her heart which was sped up in terror.
“Jesus Christ Derek why do you think?!” Derek relaxes his stance and his glare slightly, shuffling his feet and looking slightly sheepish, though it’s hard to tell with Derek-Expressionless-Hale.
“What’s the problem?” He says, gruffly. Allison debates against telling him and then sighs, he’s supposed to be her Alpha after all. Besides, the two of them had become, maybe not close, but closer recently, or at least had gained a mutual strong respect for each other. Derek after he’d seen how quickly Allison had learnt to use her extra senses for offence, especially what was perfect accuracy with her bow before the Bite becoming perfect accuracy and inhuman distance away from the target, and Allison after Derek had managed to coach her through a full moon without letting her lose control, using both growling her into submission and thorough words to help her keep a handle on herself.
“I’m trying to break up with Isaac.”
“Why do you need to break up with him?” Derek says, bewildered. “He’s been dating Matilde for about two weeks.”
“What?!” Allison explodes. “But we never- I never- Isaac what the fuck?” The Hales look at each other as they realise Allison had said that last into her phone, where presumably Isaac was on the other end of the line. “I don’t care that you’re dating someone- I mean I’m really happy for you but we never talked about it and-” She cuts herself off as Isaac says something too quietly for the other wolves to hear. “I didn’t want you to think I didn’t love you or that I was just with you because I couldn’t have Scott because that wasn’t-” Isaac speaks again. “But if you knew that why did you have to go to France?” The pause is longer this time, and Allison’s expression gets slowly more and more guilty. “Dear God I am a shit girlfriend.” She says, apologetically, and the Hales both hear Isaac’s laugh come through clear and true, before he speaks again. “But you’re getting better now? The nightmares are getting better?” Isaac says something that makes Allison smile. “Ok I’ll leave you to it. Just before I go, Isaac, I want you to know how proud I am of you.” An inquisitive sound comes from the phone. “I know, with your dad and everything, it couldn’t have been easy to stay with my dad just the two of you.” Derek looks guiltily at his sister, cursing himself for not thinking of this himself. “And I’m really proud, ok? Tell him I said hi.” Allison hums as Isaac replies. “Yeah will do. Ok. Bye!”
“After all that you went with ‘Isaac what the fuck’?” Cora asks, after a moment, and the three of them burst out laughing.
There’s a good long moment where Jackson considers kissing Stiles back, and Stiles considers continuing to kiss him, before the two of them both move back. “Stiles…” Jackson sighs, and Stiles manages a watery grin.
“What, not into pregnant guys?” He jokes.
“Not into guys who are head over heels in love with someone else.” Jackson says, softly. Stiles doesn’t flinch, but it’s a close thing.
“I’m not…” He doesn’t finish, knowing Jackson will be able to call him out on the lie. “I don’t want to be.” Stiles offers, helplessly, and Jackson grins at him, a little twisted.
“Now that’s a feeling I can empathise with.”
“I’m sorry for-” Stiles gestures at his mouth.
“It’s fine. You grew up well Stilinski.” Jackson fakes a flirty look down Stiles’ body and Stiles snorts.
“You’re pretty fit yourself jackass.”
“I know.” Jackson preens and that sets Stiles off into full on giggles, possibly the happiest Jackson’s seen him since he arrived. Jackson feels his wolf whine in reproach of its Alpha, demanding to know how Derek could have possibly abandoned him. “For real Stiles, you’re a catch.” Jackson tries to put as much sincerity into his voice as possible.
“In another life babe.” Stiles smirks, and Jackson only resists pushing him off the couch by reminding himself about Stiles’ pregnancy. Not that it’s difficult to miss now, Stiles’ stomach is definitely round, larger than average for his stage of pregnancy because he’s carrying two.
“I’ve never seen or read Harry Potter.” Jackson declares, grinning, knowing that will piss Stiles off more than pushing him off the couch would’ve, and like he predicted, Stiles gasps in genuine horror.
“You come into MY house-”
“This is my house Stiles.”
“And you DARE to shit all over the SANCTITY-”
“You don’t even pay rent.”
“Of Joanne KATHLEEN Rowling-”
“Or buy any of the groceries, seriously, what do you even do here?”
“And the MOST magical story known to man since the history of ever-”
“Stiles if you shut up right now I’ll let us marathon the movies.”
Stiles shuts up.
Scott McCall fell in love with Allison Argent all at once. One minute he was Scott McCall, asthmatic outcast, and the next he was a Werewolf, running for his life most nights and half of Scott&Allison.
Scott McCall fell out of love with Allison Argent very slowly. Or rather, he didn’t fall out of love with her at all, but Allison changed, until he was in love with an idea of a girl, instead of the woman she’d become.
And the new Allison hadn’t wanted him and Scott had been heartbroken but respectful, and seeing her with Isaac had eventually just felt bittersweet instead of like a knife was being twisted into his heart.
From a distance, Scott had found himself changing too, into a leader, into a better friend, into someone a little more hardened by the world but determined to stay open-hearted no matter how many times life threatened to punish him for it.
From a distance, Scott McCall had wondered whether the man he’d become might be able to fall in love with the new Allison Argent as easily as the first time.
When the phone doesn’t pick up on the third ring, Jackson’s a hairs breath away from hanging up, freaking out. Stiles grabs his hand and grips it tight. Jackson opens his mouth to tell him that this was a stupid idea, and then the phone is answered. “Jackson?” The familiar melodic voice asks, hope coating her words. Jackson swallows past the lump in his throat, desperate to get the words out before she hangs up on him.
The day Allison knocks on Scott’s door is four months to the day since Stiles died. Scott moved out of Melissa’s house and into the Pack house with Derek, Erica and Boyd only two weeks ago and Allison doesn’t think it’s just her wolf talking when she decides it’s a good thing for him, that Scott is finally fully embracing his role as Alpha, that with him in it the Pack house has become not only a safe haven and a place to be protected but also a place where joy comes easier than tears (not to mention just generally safe; the last of the renovations were complete). There’s not many places left like that for Allison, and she thinks it’s only right that she contributes to it in some way.
Scott opens the door and when he accepts the flowers Allison gives him with a full-belly laugh and grabs his coat with a casualness that suggests it’s their fiftieth date not their first, Allison falls in love with him all over again.
Scott takes a little longer to do the same, makes it all the way through the movie they go to see and most of the way through dinner, but when Allison doesn’t realise she’s got whipped cream on her nose until she sees her reflection in her spoon as she finishes the last bite of desert, and proceeds to poke him threateningly in the arm while verbally tearing him a new one for not mentioning it, forgetting she still hasn’t wiped it off in her rage, Scott can’t help but kiss her, and it feels an awful lot like finally.
It’s the fifth night in a row Stiles has woken up screaming, nightmares plaguing him, and Jackson doesn’t know how to help him. He usually wraps Stiles in his arms, rocking the two of them on the bed as Stiles sobs, and pretends he can’t hear Stiles chanting Derek’s name.
This time when he goes into Stiles’ room, Stiles is silent, tears falling from his eyes and into his hairline. Stiles doesn’t sit up when Jackson approaches the bed, and Jackson’s not sure Stiles even knows he’s there until he starts speaking. “I gave them up.” He whispers. Jackson climbs onto the bed and lifts Stiles’ head onto his lap, stroking through his hair. “Usually I dream I’m the Nogitsune again, only I can’t kill myself to get rid of it because that would kill the babies too.” Jackson doesn’t know what to say, knows he missed a lot being here instead of Beacon Hills but not understanding it was bad enough that Stiles saw killing himself as a solution. “But tonight I dreamed I gave them up. I got to keep my perfect life with the Pack and with Derek but I gave my babies up. I killed them.” Stiles’ heartbeat spikes as he fights to draw in breath and Jackson pulls him up to lie against his chest in alarm.
“Stiles you need to calm down.” Jackson tries to rationalise, worry rising as Stiles continues to struggle, realising Stiles is having some kind of panic attack. “Stress isn’t good for the babies Stiles you need to breathe.” When Stiles continues to wheeze, his heartrate only climbing, Jackson scrambles to grab Stiles’ phone on his bedside and calls Stiles’ dad.
“Stiles?" Noah answers the phone.
“Sheriff, it’s me, Stiles is having some kind of panic attack and I don’t know what to do.” Jackson garbles.
“Put the phone to his ear.” Noah commands, down to business. Jackson’s close enough that he can still hear the Sheriff clearly. “Stiles, son, you need to breathe. Focus on Jackson’s breathing, copy it. Can you do that for me?” Jackson regulates his own breathing, exaggerating his breaths so that Stiles, against his chest, will be able to follow them easily.
“I can’t-” Stiles chokes.
“Yes you can. Stiles. Stop thinking, breathe.”
“Easy for you to say.” Stiles huffs, still sounding strangled but Jackson barely holds back his relieved sigh as he listens to Stiles’ heartbeat calm down. He narrows in on the babies’ heartbeats, which are more accelerated than their usual Werewolf calmness but not dangerously high. Stiles grips Jackson’s hand. “The babies are ok?” Stiles demands.
“Yes Stiles they’re fine.” Stiles takes a few more calming breaths and hangs up on his dad before tears prick his eyes again.
“I’m so weak panicking over a goddamn nightmare.”
“Stiles you are not weak.” Jackson says, a little helplessly, knowing Stiles won’t believe him. Possibly the only people Stiles would believe, Scott and Derek, haven’t talked to Stiles in months.
“Pathetic.” Stiles mutters, more to himself than Jackson. “I could have hurt them.” Stiles’ shaking hands stroke over his stomach, calming himself down but still sobbing. “I’d never give you up, never.” Stiles whispers to his babies fiercely, tears falling even faster down his cheeks. Jackson gives up on trying to comfort Stiles with his words and falls back into their usual routine; gathering Stiles close and rocking him slowly back to sleep.
Weeks later, as they’re lying in Allison’s bed (as going back to the Pack house would be accepting the fact they’d get wolf-whistled by Erica for the next three hours), sex-mussed and smiling softly at each other, reflecting on the fact that this is the first time in their whole acquaintance that their relationship doesn’t feel like something illicit and secretive but as natural as breathing, Scott breaks the silence. “We can’t do secrets this time Ally.” He whispers, not ready to break the peaceful calm settling over them, but knowing it needs to be said. “Neither of us.”
Allison blurts out her next words in a fit of terror, not wanting to lose what she’s so carefully regained. “Lydia thinks Stiles is still alive.”
A few hundred miles away, there’s a strawberry-blonde logging onto a website she’d helped set up, a website that gave out advice and occasionally a literal helping hand to those with Supernatural problems, in return for a modest fee. Despite the main person who ran the site being buried somewhere only his father knew where, the activity on the site had barely suffered, reviews from as little as a week ago thanking the creator for his help.
The strawberry-blonde tries to connect the puzzle pieces in her mind, wishing this mystery was as easy to unravel as astrophysics.
Noah Stilinski looks between his phone and the bottle of whisky, trapped in indecision for so long that he falls asleep where he is, head on the kitchen table. Melissa McCall opens the door with a key she was gifted years ago, places a cushion under his head without awaking him and pours the bottle of whisky down the sink. If her hand runs quietly across his back as she leaves again, fingers trembling in sorrow and regret, she’s the only one who knows.
Allison had been scared the information would tear Scott apart, would fill him with frenzied energy and leave him unable to do anything that wasn’t trying to find Stiles without collapsing under the weight of his guilt. Instead Scott lets out a shaky breath and doesn’t break eye-contact.
“Is it possible?” Allison shrugs helplessly.
“After all we’ve seen, I’d hesitate to say anything was impossible but…” Scott nods, and feels the tears well up.
“I miss him.” He says, finally, and Allison squeezes his hand. His phone, placed on the bedside table, buzzes with an incoming text. He grabs it, knowing he’d kick himself if he didn’t check it and it was actually important, and to his surprise it’s Deaton, telling him to pick up a few things. It’s curter than he’s used to from his mentor, especially considering he hasn’t seen him in months, but Scott’s also used to Deaton acting a bit strange. He shows the text to Allison who offers to drive him over. He turns her down with a smile, saying he’d appreciate the walk to clear his head, but that he’ll call her later. She apologises for telling him about Lydia’s suspicions, which he waves off, glad she’s as determined as he is to keep secrets out of their relationship.
When he arrives at the vets, Deaton’s in the back, suitcases lining the floor, fully packed.
“Hey doc.” Scott smiles. Deaton smiles back at him, a little more coldly than usual, but still with more warmth than Deaton shows to anyone else in the Pack. There’s an open suitcase on the metal table that’s seen way too much gore for its short lifetime, most of it Derek’s, and Scott can’t help the way his eyes narrow as he realises Deaton’s packing it, not unpacking it. Deaton passes Scott a couple of bags of plants.
“I’ve left the instructions on the inside, but the first plant should paralyse anyone with hostile intent, and the second is poisonous to Vampires, Wendigos and Chimeras in the way wolfsbane is to Werewolves.”
“Thank you?” Scott says, a little bewildered by how business-like Deaton is being. He’s not being cryptic at all. Scott wonders if the druid is feeling ok. He looks over Deaton’s shoulder into his suitcase, seeing if it holds any clues to Deaton’s weird behaviour. “Doc, why do you have a book on male pregnancy? Is that a thing?”
Deaton looks at him oddly. “It’s possible between Alphas and their Mates.” He allows, scrutinising Scott closely.
“Why do you need it?” It’s not until it’s out of his mouth that Scott realises this could be a very insensitive question, but he can’t exactly take it back now.
“Well after Mr Stilinski’s little announcement, I felt it was best to read up on the subject.” Scott can literally hear his heart stop beating. His stomach rolls sickeningly in his stomach.
“What?” He whispers, wishing he had something to lean on to hold himself up.
“Derek didn’t tell you?” Deaton asks, looking at Scott with less hostility and a little bit of sympathy. “As I understand it, Derek smelt the pregnancy on Stiles and told him to get rid of the baby, which I suppose in his own way, Mr Stilinski did.” Scott’s hands begin to shake, his eyes bleeding Alpha red and his claws lengthening. His fangs slur his next words, but not enough that Deaton can’t understand them.
“I’m going to fucking kill him.”
Stiles is too listless to move out of bed most days now, and Jackson’s desperate enough to go back to the local Pack to ask their advice. They coo and talk about Mate withdrawal sickness and explain that it can be alleviated by Pack interaction and going outside. Jackson takes Stiles out into the garden when it’s too dark for his neighbours to see him, bundled up in fleeces and blankets, and cuddles him close, coaxing Stiles to talk about anything he can think of, but Stiles’ rambles barely last a minute. Jackson’s the only Pack Stiles has got, and he doesn’t think he’s enough.
The door to Derek’s room flings open and reveals Scott in full Beta form, eyes glowing a furious crimson. Derek leaps up, clad in only his boxers, knowing his own eyes are burning in answer. Before he can ask what’s happened, or try and sniff out the problem, Scott’s fist is smacking into his nose, breaking it easily. “HE WAS PREGNANT!” Scott snarls, punching Derek again.
Derek can barely hear the sound of Erica and Boyd’s hurried footsteps and confused shouts over the ringing in his ears. He doesn’t try to fight back as Scott’s claws attempt to rake down his chest but he does jump out of the way. “Scott, what?”
“He wasn’t cheating on you and he wasn’t raped he smelt like another person because he was fucking PREGNANT!” Scott’s next hit lands, sending Derek reeling to the floor. He thinks he registers Erica and Boyd pulling Scott off him and demanding explanations but his mind is screaming no, no, no like a broken record. He remembers an embarrassing conversation with his parents, mentioning in passing that Alpha males could get their Mates pregnant even if the Mate was male themselves, but that it wasn’t Derek’s problem because he was never going to be an Alpha. He remembers the scent of Stiles’ excited nerves, and he remembers the stricken look on his face, the way Stiles had said I thought you’d be happy.
He remembers that he’d told Stiles to get rid of them and Stiles had.
Derek had not only killed his Mate but his unborn child and-
Cora can smell Scott’s distress from the bottom of the stairs. She flings open the door to the loft by the time he gets to the top, Kira appearing at her side with lightning crackling over her fingertips, trying to catalogue the problem. Scott looks wrecked, his eyes red-rimmed, his hands jittery and panicked as they wave in the air that is so reminiscent of Scott’s best friend.
“I didn’t mean to- I was just so angry I didn’t think- I don’t know what to do-”
“Scott. Calm down. Tell us what happened.” Kira says soothingly, the lightning disappearing as she waves Scott inside. Scott wanders in looking lost, tugging at his hair.
“I went to see Deaton, who just back, and he had these pregnancy books, but they were for male pregnancy.”
“Male pregnancy?” Kira questions, in disbelief, and Cora waves a hand.
“It’s really rare but Alpha males can get their male Mates pregnant.” Cora explains, gesturing at Scott to deliver the punchline. Just before he can she freezes, eyes widening in horror. “No…” She whispers.
“Stiles was pregnant.” Scott chokes out. Kira claps a hand over her mouth. “That’s why he smelled weird to Derek that day.”
“Oh God.” Cora says, feeling like she’s going to be sick. “And Derek told him to get rid of them…” She breathes. “Oh God, Derek-” Scott’s scent sours with guilt and Cora feels her eyes flash gold. “What did you do?”
“I- I told him and I wasn’t gentle about it.”
“Did he run into the woods again?” Kira asks, and Scott shakes his head.
Noah debates not opening the door for a long minute but knows Stiles would be pissed if he found out Noah hadn’t helped the Pack out. Erica Reyes tumbles into his house in tears, gold eyes glowing and gripping his jackets with clawed fingertips. “Did you know? Is that why you’ve been avoiding us?” She demands, and Noah frowns.
“That Stiles was pregnant when he killed himself?” There’s a quiet moment, and then a voice in Noah’s head, which has always sounded unerringly like Claudia, says shit.
“The bastard didn’t tell you all?” Noah asks, wondering why he’d ever thought the snivelling coward would tell his Pack how much of an asshole he really was.
“Derek didn’t know!” Erica cries, looking frantic. “Pregnancy doesn’t have a specific scent- it smells like the whole new person that’s being created- different for everyone. Derek thought Stiles was cheating on him so he told him to leave but he didn’t know- None of us knew-” Claudia’s voice comes again as Noah feels his stomach sink to his feet. I’ve made a huge mistake.
Jackson’s cooking pasta in the kitchen, shamelessly eavesdropping on Stiles’ conversation with the Sheriff upstairs, hoping it will give him some insight into how to help Stiles. It’s not exactly the conversation he’s expecting.
“What do you mean you told them I was dead?!” Stiles shrieks, sounding more alive than he has in days. The irony doesn’t escape him. He’s too far away to hear Noah’s response, but Stiles is loud and clear. “Yes I know they were being dicks sticking with Derek but that doesn’t mean you decide to cut me off from them! God no wonder no-one’s texted me if they all think I’m dead! Jesus dad this must have killed Scott.” Jackson guesses Noah tries to explain himself but Stiles doesn’t let him. “How long do they think I’ve been dead for? A few days? A week? A month?” There’s a reply from Noah and the next word out of Stiles’ mouth is in a tone more dangerous than that time Jackson had tried to explain to Lydia he’d broken one of her fancy designer bags. “What?” Stiles spits. “The entire fucking time?! Don’t you dare call me out on language right now dad I swear to God you are on such thin ice. If it was safe for me to fly right now I’d be coming over to kick your ass.” Jackson’s not sure whether he should go upstairs or not. “How did you tell them it happened? Car crash? Supernatural attack? Did you tell them I got frontotemporal dementia like mom?” Even Jackson sucks in a shocked breath of reproach at that.
“Jesus Stiles.” He whispers, the pasta abandoned as he strains his ears.
Stiles makes the noise he only does when he’s about to throw up, a noise Jackson has unfortunately become intimately acquainted with these past months. “Suicide?” Stiles breathes, and all of a sudden Jackson feels like throwing up himself. “They think I killed myself?” Stiles starts to shake. “Oh my God, the letters. They must have thought- Scott must have though- Oh my God Derek.”
Jackson’s so busy tuning in to Stiles’ conversation that he barely hears their front door creak open. He sees the smoking cannister they roll under the door though, and his instincts go into overdrive. “Stiles RUN!” Jackson yells at the top of his lungs, his claws and fangs lengthening and snapping angrily, bright blue eyes glowing, grimacing at how weak the shift feels, so long without his Alpha.
“Jackson?!” Stiles calls back, sounding terrified, but Jackson’s too busy tearing the throat out of the first hunter to come through the door. Already the gas, which Jackson is assuming is laced with wolfsbane, is making him dizzy.
The second hunter hesitates and Jackson can smell his flash of fear when he looks at Jackson’s eyes. Jackson launches himself forwards, hoping his expression is saying that’s right I killed an innocent; so nothing will stop me from killing you. He goes down as quickly as his colleague, but then ten of them pile in at once, all with wolfsbane coated blades and he can feel the way mountain ash is scattered across his doorway, stopping him from leaving. He doesn’t have enough room in his kitchen to fight properly, and it’s been a long time since he had any kind of fight training. The pan of half-cooked pasta is smacked, boiling water and all, so hard into one’s face that their skull bashes in, but that’s the last kill Jackson makes. His need to protect and fight and die for the Alpha Mate is only overwhelmed when the wolfsbane gas forces him to his knees, however, and his last thought before he blacks out is sorry Lyds.
The whole Pack, minus Lydia who none of them could get hold of to ask her to drive down, and Isaac, who’s looking up flights home as they speak, is gathered in the living room of the Pack house. Cora is laid on the couch, Kira gripping one hand for comfort while Boyd holds the other to drain her pain, healing slowly from Alpha inflicted claw marks across her chest. She’d been hoping the scent of both sister and Pack would be enough to get through to Derek, and though he’d let her in the room where he was covered in t-shirts and jumpers Stiles had left behind, the second she’d come close enough to disturb Stiles’ scent he’d attacked. She hadn’t recognised her brother, claws and fangs fully unsheathed, red eyes wild and crazed in a way Scott admitted looked just like Peter’s had, nothing human in them whatsoever.
“I’m sorry.” Scott says, for the third time in five minutes.
“You didn’t know it would tip him over the edge.” Danny points out, fairly. Cora growls at him.
“He knew it wasn’t going to be exactly sunshine and rainbows to hear!” Scott whimpers.
The front door is pounded on before anyone can argue, and as Erica begins to stand up to get it, a blur comes hurtling down the staircase in a whirlwind of snarling and fangs. The able Werewolves rush to stop him, terrified of what Derek will do to someone who is not Pack if Cora’s wounds are what he does to those who are.
Derek has Sheriff Stilinski pinned against the wall, snarling at him and sniffing. They all stop in surprise, but it’s Scott who puts two and two together.
“Noah smells like Stiles.” Scott whispers. At his Mate’s name Derek growls threateningly, claws embedding into the wall behind the Sheriff, still sniffing the man. Apparently realising that although Noah smells like Stiles, it’s not quite right, Derek begins to whine, each one getting louder until the Werewolves all know he’s mere moments away from howling.
Noah grips Derek’s arms and wills the wolf to be listening to his heartbeat. “Stiles is alive!”
Jackson tells Stiles to run which, while well-meaning, is slightly idiotic. Stiles is six months pregnant with twin baby Werewolves where it is imperative Stiles stay in a stress-free environment; needless to say Stiles isn’t running anywhere. Not to mention, even without the pregnancy, Mate-withdrawal has sunk Stiles deep into a depression he hadn’t reached since the immediate aftermath of the Nogitsune. Not that he’s giving up any time soon, not when his babies need him, but running isn’t the right course of action.
He’s still reeling from his father’s betrayal, from the confused flip-flop of rage towards his father, relief that his friends hadn’t abandoned him, worry about how they’ve been handling the news, but it’s all washing away in face of his overwhelming terror. “Talk to me son what’s happening?” Noah begs, wondering if Stiles is having another panic attack, though that doesn’t explain why he’d called out for Jackson.
“Go to the Pack. Tell them I’m alive and fly over here.”
“I don’t have the kind of money to fly the whole Pack over I know I fucked up-”
“Dad there are hunters in the house, only one Jackson and I can’t use my magic.” Noah’s next words come through as commanding and calm, every ounce the Sheriff.
“Stiles, go to the fire exit, get out, drive to that other pack-”
“They’ll catch me, and if they catch me running they might hurt the babies. If they knock me out I can’t leave a scent trail for you. Plus, I’m not leaving Jackson.”
“Jackson wouldn’t want you to risk yourself-” Noah tries to protest, already running out of the house and to his cruiser, planning on getting to the Pack house.
“Who cares what Jackson thinks? If I let him die it’s Lydia I’ll have to answer to.”
“Jesus Stiles be serious for once in your life-” Noah yells out, frustrated, feeling so, so helpless.
“How’s this for serious?” Stiles says, with deadly calm. “Tell Derek he doesn’t have to come he can defend the territory or whatever I don’t care. Tell Peter Hale now. And know, once I get out of this, I am not going to speak to you for a very, very long time.” Stiles hangs up on him and Noah lets out a string of curses filthy enough to get his neighbours sending him scandalised looks through their windows.
Stiles uses the time Jackson buys him to get changed into warm, comfortable clothes, to hide a set of lockpicks under his tongue (and tries not to remember he learnt to do that because he had once been very determined to get handcuffs into his sexy times and wanted to be secure in the knowledge he could get himself out should it come to it, but had never gotten the chance to try it out), an Argent hunting knife in one hand and a vial of paralysing Kanima-venom-plant Deaton had sent him in the mail in the other. He made sure he puts his shoes that had the most laces on, even if the laces were sloppily tied due to his inability to reach his feet properly anymore, or even see them for that matter, and decides he’s as well-prepared as he’s going to get.
Derek doesn’t so much as twitch, but the rest of the Pack immediately clamour for answers, disbelief and hope distorting their voices higher and higher until it’s a cacophony of noise. Derek growls, his fangs worrying close to Noah’s throat, which serves to shut them up a little.
“Stiles decided to leave town, he didn’t die, and went to go and stay with-”
“Jackson.” Allison guesses, looking stunned. “God Lydia was right.”
Scott looks heartbroken. “But why would he leave? Even if he thought Derek didn’t want the baby why would he…” Noah can’t meet his eyes.
“I think that’s something you should ask Stiles.”
“That I should ask… Oh my God I can ask him things! I can ask him- Oh my God Stiles- He’s in London? We’ve- we’ve got to go! We have to go!”
“The baby.” The growl comes from Derek. He’s taken back the shift just enough to curb his fangs so he can speak, but the wildness is still in his eyes. “You said Stiles was alive. What happened to our baby?” Derek hasn’t released Noah from the wall, and the whole Pack watches Noah with bated breath. Noah’s still looking at the ground, and the shame in his aura is a tangible thing, even though it’s overlaid with panic.
“There are hunters in Stiles’ house. We need to go.” Is all he replies with, which promptly causes the Pack to mostly forget about the question, as Noah’s panic transfers to all of them, contagious and terrifying.
Lydia Martin arrives at Jackson’s apartment and struts out of the taxi, grabbing her sizeable collection of bags with the conviction of someone who knows she’s right. He’d sent her a key to his apartment the week after she left, which she’d kept alongside the first one, the one that had saved him from being the Kanima, but she hadn’t had cause to use it yet. Despite the weight of her bags she makes it up the stairs with her usual display of grace, and her usual heels too. She doesn’t knock, turning the key in the door and pushing it open before she has a chance to second-guess herself.
As the door creaks open she feels her Banshee powers stirring, the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end, everything screaming not right. She leaves her bags just inside the door, minus her handbag, and stalks forward, following her instincts. They lead her to the kitchen, and she barely keeps in a scream as she takes in the massacre. There are four bodies splayed across the tiles; two with torn out throats, one a mess of blood and bone and brain matter splattered against the wall. The final body has a stake driven through his stomach, that’s impeded his slow slither across the floor to the doorway, blood smearing behind him. He’s stopped in the doorway, and at first she thinks that’s where he crawled to die, but then she sees the line of mountain ash across the doorway.
Lydia darts forward, breaking the ash line with her pointed-toe-shoe, kneeling by Jackson’s head, tears clogging her throat. His eyes reel wildly before they fixate on her.
“Lyd-ia.” He gasps, blood bubbling at the corners of his mouth. She shushes him distractedly but he ignores her. “Took St-iles.”
“Why aren’t you healing?”
“W-Wolfsbane. Gas.” Lydia swears lowly and rips open her handbag, rifling around until she finds the right vial. Jackson’s lucky that since Peter’s attack all those years ago Lydia’s never left her house without a vial of wolfsbane, and nowadays her collection is enough that she has every type of wolfsbane, including the one that is most often made into a gas. She guess whoever attacked him didn’t know he used to be a Kanima; if they’d used yellow wolfsbane she’d probably have been looking at four corpses, not three. She jumps up to search his drawers for a lighter, having no idea which cupboard is the useful one and cursing the way her hands are shaking. “Lyd-ia. Y-you have to get St-iles.”
“You have to stop telling me what to do!” She snaps back, finding the lighter and dashing back to his side. “Don’t claw me to bits.” Is all the warning she gives him before she wrenches the stake out of his stomach. He roars in agony, eyes flashing the bright blue she knows he hates, but she doesn’t hesitate to light the wolfsbane and crush it into the wound, her hands staining rapidly with his blood as she tries to hold him together. He thrashes mindlessly and she breathes out a desperate prayer, hoping she’s done the right thing.
The hunters had assumed Jackson was his Mate. Apparently they’d heard of males being able to get their male Mates pregnant but hadn’t understood it was Alpha Mates only. They’d goaded him, telling him they’d heard legends of Werewolves reacting to threats against their Mates by becoming completely unhinged, but Jackson had barely scratched them.
Stiles, who had seen the three bodies Jackson had left, as well as the stake they’d driven through his friend, had wondered aloud if the hunters who’d fallen would be offended at being called ‘a scratch’. They hadn’t liked that much, and Stiles had hissed when they’d dragged his own blade down his face. Evidently they didn’t care much that they’d be bringing the wrath of the Argents down on them, which was more than a little worrying considering Stiles knew how formidable the Argent reputation was, especially within the hunting community. On the plus side, the knife had distracted them enough that they’d only driven a stake into Jackson’s stomach, not decapitated him, sure that their Pack would soon come and find them. Stiles wasn’t so sure, and he was terrified at the amount of blood Jackson was losing, but the best thing he could do for his friend right now was draw them away from here.
It was easy enough after then to keep stumbling into things under the pretence of the blood trickling into his eye. Not all of the stumbles were feigned. Stiles has barely left his bed in weeks and being forced to stumble through the dark is a lot to ask his body to take. He’s been feeling fairly confident about the scent markers he’s leaving though, up until one of the hunters reveals a trap door in some random person’s garden. He literally can’t climb down a ladder with his belly in the way, which leads to Stiles being dropped unceremoniously down into the ground, no matter how much he struggles. He’s caught in a net at the bottom like an animal, and Stiles fights to get his panic under control as he’s carried, tangled up in the net, by three hunters. He’s crushed into the foetal position, both his knees pushed up around his stomach, chin jammed into his chest. There’s no give in the thick ropes surrounding him, and the holes between the criss-crosses aren’t large enough to get a hand through. The ropes rub against his knife wound splitting the skin further and causing his breath to come in helpless little cries. He has no idea how long he’s going to be able to protect his babies, both from the attackers and his own panic that could be just as detrimental to the babies’ health.
“Isaac, change of plan, we need to go to London.”
“London?” Isaac asks, motioning Chris over. Chris, who had been bribing his way onto the first plane back to Beacon Hills, raises an eyebrow. “Why London?”
“Stiles isn’t dead.” Erica says, sounding like she’s still reeling in disbelief.
“What?” Isaac whispers.
“I know. I don’t think I’ll believe it till I see him with my own eyes. A lot has happened. We managed to get Derek… Mostly out of his feral state. But we know Stiles was staying with Jackson and that they were ambushed by hunters. Stiles was on the phone to the Sheriff when it happened. We’re getting the first flight in but you can get there faster from France.”
“Where does Jackson live in London?” Isaac says, lips feeling numb in shock but still slipping into the usual danger mode as easy as breathing.
“We don’t know Lydia won’t answer her fucking phone. Maybe she’ll answer if you call. She’s the only one who knows the address.” Chris takes the phone off Isaac.
“Do we know why the hunters attacked?” Chris asks.
“No idea. I think we can assume it’s not because of someone having some grudge against the Hales considering we haven’t seen him in months.”
“I’ll ring up my English contacts while Isaac gets us plane tickets.”
“Find Jackson and Stiles but don’t engage unless there’s no other choice until we get there.” Derek has clearly snatched the phone off Erica, and Isaac whines against the Alpha command instinctively. “The last thing we need is more people to rescue.”
Stiles is set almost gently on a chair, the ropes of the net unravelling and then retying themselves around his legs before Stiles can try to struggle to his feet. He looks up instead, making note of the witch in the room, who’s smirking at him. She doesn’t seem to be being coerced in any way, and Stiles wonders what kind of hunters would be banding together with a Supernatural creature. Luckily his hands remain untied, and Stiles figures it’s either because they don’t want to cause him unnecessary stress and hurt the babies (unlikely) or because they don’t seem him as much of a threat even with his hands unbound (and they’re not exactly wrong).
“Hunters don’t usually keep pets.” He points out, addressing the quiet, younger woman who’d stood behind the three men that had carried him in here. Her face flashes with surprise and then she grins, blood-red lips curling grotesquely, her whole diminutive façade falling away as she stalks to the front, the others falling in deference to her.
“Clever boy.” She smiles. “What gave me away?”
“Other than hunters being matriarchal? Your eyes. Far too observant for someone so low-ranked.” She laughs, seeming genuinely delighted. She flips his Argent knife in her hands with practiced ease, and if possible her smile widens as she considers it.
“The Argents make their money arms dealing, yes? There’s not actually a lot of money in the hunting business.” Stiles isn’t quite following the jump in conversation but he rolls with it.
“If you’re not hunters, what are you?” Stiles asks, plainly. Usually he talks attackers in circles with quips antagonising them until they start beating him up, but that’s not an option for him with the babies to consider. She cups his injured cheek in one hand, stroking her thumb in a mockery of a caress that only digs into the cut they’ve made.
“Oh baby, haven’t you worked it out yet? There’s no money in hunting, but trading is very, very lucrative.”
Derek had needed Scott to Alpha him out of his Beta-shift, and he’s surprised they made it through airport security with how serial-killer he must look (bless Allison’s all-access weapons permit). Stiles had affectionately called this ‘particular eyebrow configuration’ the bitches gonna die look, and right now Derek didn’t think it was far off. His Pack had hastily assured the nervous air-hostesses that Derek was just afraid of heights, and the sympathetic smiles they’d given him had made him want to retch. Boyd had offered to throw a blanket over him so he could wolf out underneath, which Derek thought was well-meaning but ultimately lacking in any kind of dignity. Noah bravely volunteered to be the one to sit next to Derek, but as they had nothing to do but wait, the Pack had finally put together that Noah had been the one to tell them Stiles was dead, so Derek didn’t think it was an entirely selfless action. Even Kira had given Noah a disapproving look, which had made the fully-grown man shrink in his seat like a scolded puppy.
Derek isn’t stupid. Out of his mind, crazed; maybe. But he knows that non-answer from the Sheriff meant that something had happened to his baby. And if Stiles had gotten rid of their baby because Derek had told him to, he knows there will be no coming back from that. Not for either of them. If Stiles had lost the baby, Derek has no idea how to comfort him, no idea how to apologise for not being there, the chasm between them too far for Derek to bridge, even if there was no distance between them. Derek has lost Stiles when he’s only just got him back, but none of that is important if Stiles is alive. If Stiles is alive, even if he’s found someone else in London, even if he hates Derek with every fibre of his being (and why shouldn’t he) Derek will be able to breathe again. Even though Noah has confirmed it, Derek won’t believe it until he sees Stiles with his own eyes.
And if those hunters kill Stiles now, kill him before Derek has the chance to see him alive, well… Derek had texted Chris to tell him he should do what was right to stop the feral Alpha Werewolf killing random civilians, after Derek has torn all the hunters to pieces.
“What do you want Isaac?” Lydia snarls into her phone, irritated that Jackson’s blood is staining it but deciding it was less irritating than hearing her ringtone go off one more time. Jackson has blacked out from the pain but is healing as she watches, so she isn’t too concerned.
“Thank God. We need Jackson’s address.” Lydia freezes, eyes narrowing.
“Why the fuck do you need Jackson’s address?” She swears to herself in that moment that if the Pack had anything to do with this shit-fest she will move in here with Jackson (and Stiles?) and cut them all off. Or, well, she’ll move Jackson (and Stiles?!) to the city she lives in most of the time because Jackson was planning on coming back anyway and she’s not giving up NASA.
“Don’t freak out but Stiles is alive and hunters have got into their house. The Pack is on a plane over and Chris and I are going to London now, but we need to know where to go once we get there.” Lydia considers her options, and knows if Stiles wasn’t missing she’d be holding this over all of their heads for a good few weeks, but he is, and frankly Stiles deserves them to pull out all the stops considering some weird shit had presumably gone on to make the Sheriff think Stiles was dead and they’d all but abandoned him for months.
“I know. I’m in the house. Jackson is unconscious but ok, but there’s no sign of Stiles.”
“Of course Jackson would just let them take him.” Isaac scoffs, already dismissing him, and Lydia would slap him if he was in arms reach.
“Jackson killed three of them, and as far as I can see has been caring for Stiles for the past five months which is more than the rest of us can say you asshat.” There’s a startled laugh from next to her, and Lydia whips round to look at Jackson, who’s staring at her, slightly disbelievingly, with a soft smile on his face. It immediately fades to panic as he looks around the kitchen.
“Stiles? The babies? Is he ok?”
“The babies?” Lydia asks, incredulous. Surely Jackson would have mentioned if he was serious enough with someone to have children. Jackson’s still bright blue eyes narrow as he jumps to his feet, wincing at the pain but powering through. Lydia’s not even entirely sure his intestines are completely back in his body yet, but she’s also seen Jackson leading lacrosse practice, and knows there is nothing that will get in the way of him achieving whatever goal he’s currently got his mind set on.
“Derek didn’t tell you Stiles was pregnant?” It goes against his instincts to disapprove of his Alpha, but the friendship he feels for Stiles easily overwhelms the way his wolf is howling at him.
“Stiles was pregnant?!” Lydia shrieks.
“What?!” Isaac asks, reeling on the other end of the phone that to be honest Lydia had kind of forgotten she was holding.
“Yes. We need to find him; this pregnancy is so dangerous- the stress- he can lose the babies and himself so easily we need to- I need to-” Jackson is off, running round the house to check all the rooms.
Lydia reels off the address for Isaac. “We’ll probably get started on the scent search, see if Jackson can’t sniff him out. When we get Stiles back I am getting a full damn explanation for all this craziness. We’ll keep you updated by text which you can check when your flight lands.”
“Derek said not to engage until the rest of the Pack get there.” Isaac cautions. Lydia snorts.
“What?” Jackson asks, coming back into the room.
“Derek’s told Isaac and Chris not to engage until the Pack get here.” Jackson growls from deep in his stomach, his claws lengthening.
“Derek lost the right to make any decisions about Stiles when he told Stiles to get rid of his baby even though it was his goddamn fault that he didn’t tell Stiles they could get pregnant, and sent his extremely vulnerable Mate looking for protection half a world away because Stiles knew he wouldn’t get it in Beacon Hills.” Jackson grabs Lydia’s bag off the floor. “Even if Stiles wasn’t at extreme risk of losing the babies, especially because of how weak he is from Pack withdrawal and he can’t use his Spark because of the pregnancy, I’d still be going in there to get my friend back.” Jackson swaps Lydia’s bag for the phone. “Screw Derek.” He says to Isaac, and hangs up.
“You’re holding me ransom?” Stiles asks, surprised, and somewhat relieved. Which is a testament to how fucked up his life has become because, seriously, being held ransom should not be a positive. He’s never been held ransom before; kidnapped as part of a trap or bait sure, as well as kidnapped for information (his least favourite type of kidnapping, as it tended to involve a lot of more pain than his threshold held for), but he figures in order to hold him ransom they have to keep him alive and in relatively good condition, plus he gets to go back to his Pack, no bloodshed required. Derek might hate him because he thinks Stiles used him to get pregnant or whatever, but he’s fairly certain the Alpha wouldn’t mind paying a ransom to keep him alive, especially as the Werewolf has (hopefully) been informed that he’s recently-returned-from-the-dead right about now, so is probably feeling even more generous towards Stiles than usual. And even if Derek refuses and Alpha commands the rest of them into not helping either, Peter will do it.
The hunter- sorry trader- giggles, surprisingly low-pitched, and digs her nail into Stiles’ wound, causing him to flinch back. “No we’re selling you off. There’s some kinky creatures out there baby, who’d love to have you all to themselves. Sends Werewolves’ instincts wild, wanting to protect pregnant vulnerable humans. Or perhaps you’ll go to someone like Beth’s coven here-” The hunter gestures at the witch who’s still smirking at him.
“Seriously your name is Beth?” Stiles grimaces. “Bad luck. Not going to drive fear into the hearts of your enemies with a name like Beth.” Beth’s smirk drops and Stiles grins. “Also, I know I swing both ways, baby, but can you maybe stop with the terms of endearment and the bad-touching? It’s creepy.”
“Maybe one day you’ll be terrified of the name Beth, if she’s the one that rips your child out of your stomach to use it in a spell.” The hunter replies, eyes flashing. Internally, Stiles flinches, but he’s been playing this game a long time now, and, honestly? Nothing is going to make him scared of the name Beth. Sorry not sorry.
“Do I get a choice who I’m sold to? Because if it’s money you’re after, my Pack can outbid anyone else.”
“Really. Your Pack can outbid Vampires who’ve been hoarding their money for centuries?” The hunter asks, sceptically. “Besides, I said trading was lucrative, not necessarily just in money.”
“What do you want then?” Stiles huffs, and she grins back at him, smile firmly fixed back in place.
“Nothing your pathetic little Pack could ever get me.” She leans back a little and tilts his face from side to side by the grip she has on his chin, one of her fingers still firmly pressed into the wound on his cheek, stopping it from clotting. “Now, I didn’t want you to be harmed where the bidders could see,” She glares at the hunter who’d cut into his face, who bows his head in deference, “but I suppose the best thing for it now is to at least make it even.”
Stiles has found, over the years, there’s no bracing yourself for pain. Not emotional (rejection from Lydia, his mom’s death) or mental (the aftermath of the Nogitsune) or physical (anything from Lacrosse practice to being thrown against a wall by an angry (but super hot) Alpha Werewolf, to being tortured by half the goddamn Supernatural population). Not that it stops his body from freezing instinctually, closing his eyes as he waits for that blade to come down again.
He’s recently learnt, as he howls in pain however, that bracing yourself for one kind of pain and then experiencing another adds an extra jarred layer to what was already agonising, so he’s too busy yelling to do anything remotely defiant like spit into the bitch’s face. Instead, as she leaves his knife buried in his thigh with a whispered, “Whoops, I slipped.” Stiles feels tears spring to his eyes, and he retreats into his mind, tugging on the thread of the Mate bond, that, for a month, was thick and warm like a blanket, and now only offers a dull pang of comfort.
As a plane set for Gatwick, London, jumps into the air, one of the passengers, an Alpha Werewolf with a guilt complex a mile wide and a strength of will that’s almost as powerful, feels an ache flowing through the thin tendril of his Mate bond, and for the first time in over five months, he tugs back.
It takes an hour for them to find the end of Stiles’ scent trail; Jackson having to be supported by Lydia most of the way, and they both had to change clothes first, at Lydia’s insistence that while it was the late evening, there might still be people around who’d surely balk at how much blood and gore was on both of them. Jackson is snarling in frustration, sniffing around the small garden they’ve been stood in for fifteen minutes, seconds away from starting to dig into the ground, damn all of Stiles’ dog jokes. If Stiles was buried beneath the earth though (Lydia shudders at the image), Jackson should still be able to hear his heartbeat.
Unless there wasn’t a heartbeat to hear.
Before either of them can seriously begin to panic (and even though Lydia had put together the pieces days ago and realised Stiles must have been living with Jackson this entire time, it’s different seeing the worry on Jackson’s face over a person Lydia was fairly convinced Jackson would never get on with), there’s a bright flash of light and then a woozy looking Alan Deaton and a wolfed out Peter Hale are stood in the garden with them.
“Fucking hell Alan!” Peter damn near screeches. “Didn’t feel like warning me teleporting would feel like I was getting ripped to pieces and then mashed back together into a jam?!”
“I didn’t think it was relevant.” Deaton says calmly, even as he sways on his feet. “We are getting a plane back, Mr Hale.” He says in the same tone, but it’s very clearly a command. Peter waves him off, and then seems to notice Lydia and Jackson for the first time.
“Ah Miss Martin,” He purrs, ignoring Jackson completely, “I assume you’re here for Stiles too?”
“Stiles managed to get a message out to you?” Jackson asks, bewildered. “Why you?”
Peter waves the piece of paper he has crumpled in his hand at them, not protesting when Lydia takes it to read.
You’re a douchecanoe, but I do sort of owe you a favour. I figure, despite, or perhaps in light of everything, you value family pretty highly. So I’m leaving the States, and I’ve got some Hales relying on me. Not Derek or Cora (they’re fine btw). My favour to you is this; when I tell you now go to Deaton, and he’ll tell you where to find them, and I’ll let you meet them.
I’m asking a favour in return though. I need Deaton’s help with this, but I don’t really trust him to have the best intentions, especially considering his track record with protecting Hales. So I’d really appreciate it if you’d help make sure he doesn’t do anything to them. They’re kind of vulnerable right now. Not a high point, trusting the serial killer over the town veterinarian, but that’s what my life’s like I suppose.
You won’t be able to find me until then, so don’t waste your time trying.
Here’s to hoping you won’t be a dick for once,
“The Sheriff rang me up, got my number from Derek apparently, and told me Stiles had said ‘now’. So where is he? Which of my family does he have?” Peter demands, and he snarls as Jackson begins to laugh.
“The sneaky, sneaky bastard.” Jackson smirks, his panic momentarily placed on the back-burner. “Do you agree to the terms he put in the letter?”
“What?” Peter snaps.
“Stiles tells you where they are, and you help him protect them?” Jackson casts a flickering look at Deaton, not quick enough for the vet to catch but enough that Peter stiffens.
“Yes.” Peter bites out. Jackson nods his acceptance, knowing Peter won’t take it back now.
“Stiles and the Hales have been kidnapped. I followed his scent trail to here, and now I’m stuck.”
“Which Hales?” Peter growls again, and Lydia smiles wickedly at him. Jackson answers him, with a matching smug grin. Peter barely keeps in his shiver; the two of them together is a beautiful, deadly sight.
“Congratulations Peter. You’re a great-uncle.”
“Why the long face Jacks?” Jackson doesn’t hear the question, too busy taking in his ‘new and improved’ living room. Jackson is all for facilitating Stiles’ nesting when it’s the laundry room, but he can’t deal with his living room being taken off him.
“Why have you moved everything around?” Stiles actually blushes, looking sheepish.
“Aw shucks I’d hoped you wouldn’t’ve noticed.”
“‘Aw shucks’? Really?”
“Trying to start swearing less. Gotta get used to it.” Stiles replies, pointing at his stomach. Jackson gestures for him to answer the question. “I’ve been trying to channel it into class and work stuff but I can’t take my meds with the pregnancy and my ADHD is kinda out of control today. I got into a bit of a hyperfocus about ordering everything alphabetically and after I did the bookshelf and the DVDs I sorta moved onto the furniture?” Jackson takes in the room again.
“So… Armchair is the corner, then beanbag, then coffee table…” Jackson says, starting to understand. Stiles grins at him. “You shouldn’t have moved furniture. It’s too heavy.” Jackson reprimands. Stiles’ smile fades to a straight line, then the straight line wobbles and then Jackson is holding six feet of lanky pregnant man, sobbing into his shoulder. “Oh Jesus.” Jackson curses, rubbing a soothing hand over Stiles’ back and trying to work out how the hell he’s supposed to go about fixing it. “Shhh Stiles I’m not mad about the furniture.”
“It-It’s n-not about the f-f-furniture.” Stiles sobs, clutching him tighter. Jackson continues to make soothing noises, utterly at a loss. “I-I w-was w-waiting for you t-to get back t-to t-talk about b-baby names. B-But you look s-so sad!” Jackson can feel his shirt becoming damp.
“You’re crying because I’m sad?” Jackson asks, baffled.
“I-I’m a terrible friend! Y-you look sad and I’ve f-fucked up your f-furniture and I c-can’t make it b-better because I can’t leave the h-house!”
“So much for that no swearing rule.” Jackson says, and Stiles huffs wetly into his neck. “Why don’t you sit down, I’ll make you a hot chocolate and then we’ll talk, ok?” Stiles nods but clings to him for a little longer, before backing off and wiping his face embarrassedly.
His gaze flickers up to Jackson and then back to the floor, his lower lip still wobbling dangerously. “Can you put the marshmallows in?” He sniffs, and Jackson’s heart just melts. Goddamn, he was hoping he was one of those guys with a heart of stone. Looks like he’ll have to leave that to Lydia.
“Of course I can.”
When Jackson returns from the kitchen, hot chocolate laden with not only marshmallows but whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles (so what, if he wants to spoil his friend he will), Stiles’ has managed to calm himself down to a reasonable level and is babbling to his babies with the usual mile-a-minute speech. He’s stopped doing it so much as he becomes more and more closed in, more and more caged up and anxious from not being allowed out in the daylight, and Jackson’s happy to see it return. Jackson takes a moment to look him over as he brings over the drink. His skin is paler from being trapped inside, and the continual ache of his heartbreak has made his eyes more guarded and his words come slower. He hides more, talks to his dad less, seems to only really interact with Jackson and his own baby bump, and Jackson is this close to ringing up Scott McCall and giving him a piece of his mind. Even so, he suits the pregnancy in a strange way. Jackson wouldn’t go as far to say he glows (though with how pale his skin is, he’s basically a light when night falls), but the unabashed joy that coats his scent when he speaks to his babies is undeniable.
“I was upset because I didn’t score as highly on my test as I wanted to, and I’m going to have to put more work into that area of the course.” Jackson explains, as Stiles sips his hot chocolate and makes a happy noise as he sucks up a marshmallow. Jackson’s wolf preens at being considered a good provider. Jackson tells his wolf to shut up. “Now, you wanted to talk about baby names?” Stiles smiles, and flails a little, almost splashing hot chocolate over his hand and the (recently-rearranged so it now faces the wall and not the TV) sofa.
“Yeah. I, uh, well we won’t know if I’ve got two boys, two girls or one of each until they’re born so I need two each.” Jackson nods.
“Got any family traditions?” Stiles pulls a face so comical that Jackson barely holds back an undignified snort.
“My family’s Polish, so I got stuck with a horrid first name. I’m not inflicting that on a kid but…” Stiles takes another sip of hot chocolate. “My mom didn’t really like her first name, but her middle name was Maja, and that’s Polish but not like, scary Polish.”
“It’s pretty.” Jackson agrees, and Stiles beams.
“Great, good, great. So. Yeah. And then I thought one of the boys’ middle names could be Noah, after my dad."
“I wanted…” Stiles takes a deep breath. “IwantedtouseLaurabutIdon’twantDerektohateme.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“I wanted to use Laura and maybe Talia but I don’t want Derek to hate me.”
“That was his sister and his mom, right? Why do you want to name them after his family?” Stiles rubs his belly and makes pleading eyes, hoping Jackson will understand.
“I’m under no illusion that Derek is suddenly going to come running back into my life and declare he made a mistake and actually wants these babies with me. So they’re going to be just my babies, not his. But that doesn’t change the fact they’re biologically just as much Hales as Stilinskis, and they’re Werewolves; the Hale name still carries a lot of weight in Supernatural circles. I want to give them their best chance. And Derek might not want babies with me, but he’s still a good man, a good friend and a good Alpha.” Jackson can see how hard those words are for Stiles to force out, and feels a rumbling growl start in his chest. Stiles pats his knee and Jackson quietens, not realising he’d been flashing his blue eyes. “More than that, so were the Hales. They deserve to be remembered as more than a tragedy.”
They’re words Stiles has said before, to a grieving Alpha Werewolf on his father’s birthday, as he’d provided the older man with photographs he’d asked their allied Packs for, of the Hale Pack, before the fire.
The photographs are still hung around Derek’s living room now.
“You don’t need to make a decision for at least another three and a half months. The names will come to you.”
The memory fades slowly as Stiles comes back to consciousness to a warm tug on his Mate bond and Stiles wonders, hopeful, if maybe Derek doesn't hate him at all. He's in time to hear the whispered words around him.
“We’ve led the scent around, and moving him is fairly easy. They won’t find him in time.”
Well, Stiles thinks, fuck that.
Peter blinks rapidly, confusion momentarily shifting his features back to human. There’s disappointment and relief warring in equal measure across his scent, and Jackson can’t help but feel a tiny smidge of sorrow for the guy who’d thought someone else had survived the fire. Tiny though, because Peter is still a massive dick. “A great-uncle- what- Cora?” He asks. “But who’s the father? She never said anything. I told her I got a letter from Stiles when she asked, and after that the only thing she’s said about him is that she misses him. She also invited me to go to some weird ‘we-miss-Stiles’ party on his birthday which I declined. I don’t understand that Pack, at all.”
“It’s a long story. And the babies aren’t Cora’s.”
“Derek?! But-” Peter freezes, and locks eyes with Lydia, disbelieving. “Not a chance in Hell. Derek finally Mated Stiles? How old are they? I thought it was a myth! But Derek’s still in America- why would Stiles leave?”
“Long story.” Jackson reiterates. “Can we go back to the whole rescuing thing now?”
They all turn to take stock of the garden, only to find Deaton crouching over a bush, frowning. “I can feel Mr Stilinski’s Spark, but it’s going below.”
“What. Does. That. Mean.” Jackson grits out, so glad it’s been years since he had to deal with the vet. Lydia marches over and shoves aside the leaves that have fallen behind the bush, revealing an iron ring in the dirt.
“Trapdoor.” She announces smartly, and then waves a hand at Jackson, who yanks the door open without preamble. Jackson and Peter don’t bother climbing down the ladder, jumping and landing in perfect front rolls. Lydia huffs indignantly and makes her way down after texting Isaac the situation, cursing Stiles out as she does so for forcing her into this situation. None of them see Deaton climb down the ladder or hear him jump, but he’s behind them when they bother to check to see if he came.
“I can smell him again.” Jackson confirms. The tunnel they’re in is dim, and those without Werewolf eyesight can’t see more than two metres in front of them. “Looks like a network of tunnels.” He relays back to Lydia and Deaton as they set off.
“Which is fine because we can just follow Stiles’ scent.” Peter adds. Lydia scoffs.
“Has it ever been that easy? If they’re clever, they’ll have spread his scent as much as possible, doubled back on themselves, hell, they might not even still be in the tunnels.”
“I texted Mr Argent that we’d leave fluorescent markers for them to follow us by.” Deaton says. They’re all a little surprised he has a phone.
“Can we just hope, for once, that they’re just stupid?” Peter laments, after a pause.
Jackson’s voice is firm and edged with fear. “Not if it’s Stiles paying the price.”
Derek’s phone was in his hand, desperately refreshing, for the entire last half hour on the plane. None of them had brought anything with them other than weapons, and they used Derek’s scary eyebrows to their full advantage to get off the plane as fast as possible. The texts he’d been waiting for finally loaded, and Derek was running for a taxi before most of the people on their plane had even got out of their seats.
From Isaac Lahey (AKA curlywolf):
lydia @ jacksons apartment already she says the huntrs hve taken stiles but jackson managed to take out 3 of them before getting staked he will b fine jackson said somthin bout stiles being pregnant???? he was rly worried bout the babies hope that makes sense to you
Sent 10 hrs ago
From Chris Argent (AKA DILF (lol one day sourwolf you’re going to work out how to get rid of these nicknames but for now I can sleep happy knowing you have to read ‘text from DILF’ all the time)):
Sent 9 hrs ago
From Isaac Lahey (AKA curlywolf):
lydia & jackson hve found a load of tunnels that they can smell the huntrs hve taken stiles down. They hve deaton & peter w them I don’t know how I’ve sent Scott the location coz ur phone doesn’t hve google maps we’re heading there now
Sent 6 hrs ago
From Chris Argent (AKA DILF (lol one day sourwolf you’re going to work out how to get rid of these nicknames but for now I can sleep happy knowing you have to read ‘text from DILF’ all the time)):
Sent 6 hrs ago
From Isaac Lahey (AKA curlywolf):
entering the tunnels now deaton has left markers for us to follow that glow apparently
Sent 5 hrs ago
From Peter Hale (AKA psychowolf):
The tunnel I went down leads to the surface. Found one of Stiles’ t-shirts at the end of it. Don’t bother with this one when you arrive. Heading back now.
Sent 4 hrs ago
From Chris Argent (AKA DILF (lol one day sourwolf you’re going to work out how to get rid of these nicknames but for now I can sleep happy knowing you have to read ‘text from DILF’ all the time)):
Met up with Deaton and Peter. Isaac and I split up to search more tunnels. Haven’t heard from Lydia and Jackson. This tunnel also evidently leads to the surface.
Sent 3 hrs ago
From Lydia Martin (AKA Scream Queen (do you get it sourwolf)):
Found the room they were holding Stiles in. The hunters appear to have all asphyxiated, but we can see no sign of a fight. Jackson says Stiles smells panicked, in pain and bleeding and also that you are ‘a douchecanoe’. We are trying to track him down now. Unsure of what has happened, but Stiles isn’t among the asphyxiated. Perhaps his Spark?
Sent 2 hrs ago
From Isaac Lahey (AKA curlywolf):
encountered a bunch of huntrs am healing but cannot walk yet huntrs are down no sign of stiles
Sent 2 hrs ago
From Peter Hale (AKA psychowolf):
Alan believes Stiles used some plant he had given him to paralyse the hunters. At high dosages leads to total paralysis including of the lungs. Found Isaac. All of us are together tracking down Stiles now. Jackson has gone partially Kanima and is out of control. Chris is getting nervous. Can track Stiles easier because he’s leaving quite a blood trail. I don’t know what’s going on with you two but brace yourself for bad news.
Sent 1 hr ago
From Chris Argent (AKA DILF (lol one day sourwolf you’re going to work out how to get rid of these nicknames but for now I can sleep happy knowing you have to read ‘text from DILF’ all the time)):
Cannot deal with both you and Jackson being out of control. Don’t make me.
Sent 50 mins ago
From Lydia Martin (AKA Scream Queen (do you get it sourwolf)):
Ambushed by a lot of hunters. We had to split. Jackson tore off to follow Stiles’ scent as soon as I’d Screamed at the ones we were dealing with. Chris reckons they are traders not hunters, and that Stiles has possibly been bought already. No idea where Deaton, Peter or Isaac are.
Sent 30 mins ago
From Peter Hale (AKA psychowolf):
Trying to follow Jackson but have lost him fighting some more of the hunters. Fairly certain he thinks Stiles is heading back to their apartment.
Sent 10 mins ago
From Isaac Lahey (AKA curlywolf):
found stiles. @ jackson’s apartment trust stiles to get out of the situation all on his own he’s injured but deaton is fixing it chris, peter & lydia not here yet
Sent just now
It had gone something like this:
“Are you planning on letting me bleed out before my sell-by-date?” Stiles asks, focusing all the belief he held on keeping his heart and breathing rate steady, determined not to panic his babies. If his body didn’t believe it was stressed, it wouldn’t shut down and risk the babies. The knife is still buried in his thigh, which is lucky or he’d’ve bled out ages ago. He gathers from the crick in his neck that the powder Beth had thrown in his face had knocked him out for several hours, and that’s he’d almost certainly pissed himself at some point from the babies pressing on his bladder. He didn’t envy Werewolf noses right now.
“You’re so funny! Your Mate should have let you out more.” Beth says snidely. The main bitch from before is gone, but the three burly guys who’d carried him in were flanking him. Stiles clenches his fists and sighs in relief when he notes his right hand is still wet.
“Come over here and I’ll show you how funny I am.” Stiles smirks back. Just as he’d hoped, the witch saunters closer, swaying her hips (she had nothing on Lydia), and gets close enough to grip the knife, that’s now sticky and wet with his blood. He touches the wrist she’s holding the knife with, fingertip so light across her pulse point it’s barely noticeable.
Her immediately seizing and falling to the ground, turning blue as she struggled, motionless, for breath, was a little less subtle. “What did you do to her?!” One of the traders cries out, reaching for her. The other two come to flank Stiles, but a quick swipe across a cheek and a forearm put an end to that. The final trader doesn’t even turn away from the witch to see what’s happening until it’s too late, and Stiles is toppling the chair over, one hand protectively twisting around his stomach, the other outstretched to brush the bare skin of the trader’s neck as he falls. While the rope was magically tied, it wasn’t magical rope, and as one of the chair legs snap he can fairly easily pull his legs out.
He distracts himself from the pain and the disgust of having to use one of the corpses for leverage to get himself up by talking to his belly. “I guess all those guys were hostile enough for the magical paralysing plant to work. We’re very lucky Deaton sent us a sample first, aren’t we guys? Now we’ve got to go rescue your Uncle Jacks, because we left him staked in the kitchen! Oh yes we di-d.” There was a strange fluttering in his stomach as if in answer, and Stiles rubs his stomach, panicked, as he began to limp towards the door. “Come on babies, stay with me. I don’t think I have a lot of magical plant juice left so you’ve just got to hold on ok? Stay with me.” This time it’s not a flutter but a hard push, immediately followed by a second one. Stiles feels tears fall from his eyes as he realises. “Are you kicking babies? Telling me you’re here?” There’s two more pushes, and Stiles barely holds in a sob. “That’s right guys, I’m going to get us out of here.”
Five months, two weeks and three days ago, Derek Hale had howled to the sky, crying for a Mate he thought he’d lost forever. Four months, two weeks and a day ago, Derek had done his best to pull himself together, and become a man that his Mate would’ve been proud of, for his Pack, for his family, for a future that would be loveless and quiet but didn’t have to be unhappy if he worked for it. Less than twenty-four hours ago, Derek’s fragile future plans had snapped along with his sanity, when he found out he’d not only condemned his Mate but his unborn child.
Now, as Derek bursts through the door (or rather the doorframe, as the door had been fully pulled off its hinges by a panicked Kanima-turned-Werewolf not twenty minutes ago) of an apartment that smelled like Stiles&Stranger and Jackson, wolfed-out and uncaring if any early risers saw him, his co-Alpha hot on his heels, there’s only desperation in his thoughts.
He finds Stiles in the laundry room, sat on top of a washing machine that was turned on despite there being no clothes in it. Deaton is tying off a bandage around Stiles’ thigh, while Jackson, clutching Stiles’ hand and draining his pain if his inky black veins are anything to go by, is growling threateningly at the vet. Jackson is covered in blood, gore, and maybe even some brain matter, his eyes still the yellow-slits of the Kanima, ringed with blue, and the hand not gripping Stiles’ is covered in claws dripping with both blood and venom. Isaac, backed away and trying to look unthreatening is staring at his phone, presumably having just finished texting everyone.
Derek vaguely hears Scott stumble into the doorframe, his whole scent aching in relief as he takes in Stiles, even as he frowns at both the bandage and the savage cut to Stiles’ face that has barely stopped bleeding and will surely scar. There’s a quiet chorus of Lydia what happened, Dad! You’re ok and So you got my message Peter as presumably Lydia, Chris and Peter make it back to the apartment and the rest of the Pack greets them, but Derek can barely hear anything over the roaring in his ears.
Derek keeps his eyes on his Mate’s, who’s gasping a little as he takes Derek in. Derek, stoic, cold, emotionless Derek Hale, takes a step forward, then sinks to his knees and sobs.
The whole Pack immediately goes quiet, even Jackson’s growling, at the sight of one of their Alphas on his knees, heaving sobs coming out of his chest as tears roll down his cheeks. Stiles uses Jackson’s hand as an aid to push himself to unsteady feet. Jackson wants to protest but can only watch as Stiles limps over to Derek, who’s still sobbing, relentlessly, bowing his head. Jackson can smell regret and grief and relief and pain radiating off the wolf like no tomorrow, and so much love it’s almost choking. So much shame too, which Jackson thinks is only right.
Stiles stops less than a foot away, knowing going any closer will risk bashing Derek with his baby bump, and reaches out to lay a hand on Derek’s hair. Derek holds his breath, thoughts still too wild and chaotic to be much less than feral, and then Stiles’ hand strokes through his hair, hesitantly, and Derek is a man unleashed.
His arms wrap around his Mate’s legs, taking Stiles’ weight off them to the point he’s almost lifting him, burying his head into the right side of Stiles’ waist, scenting the new smell of Stiles that didn’t mean Stiles&Stranger but Stiles&Baby and he’s still shaking and sobbing. He thinks he’s saying something into Stiles’ t-shirt but he’s not sure, unwilling to let his Mate go.
When he comes to a steadier consciousness, it’s to find that the Pack have all moved into the living room, even Jackson (though he doubts the other man went easily, probably something to do with a tiny strawberry-blonde genius), and Stiles is tugging gently on his hair. He reluctantly pulls his face away from Stiles’ t-shirt to look up at his Mate blearily. Stiles huffs gently at him.
“Always such a drama queen.” Stiles whispers, his voice hoarse from screaming. Derek growls at the sound, his eyes flaring red. “Jesus you’d think you were the hormonal one.” Stiles sways lightly on his feet and Derek curses himself for forgetting about his Mate’s injury, quickly jumping up and sweeping his Mate gently into his arms. “Woah!” Stiles exclaims, surprised.
“Where. Is. Safe.” Derek demands, unprepared for the sudden onslaught of his overprotective streak being turned up by a hundred. Stiles gestures to the corner, where a pile of Stiles’ clean clothing and a small mountain of pillows has been made into a small nest. Derek barely holds in the rage at the idea his Mate had had to make a nest in a laundry room, that his Mate’s nest wasn’t at his home. It was supposed to be an honour to be let into the nest of a person pregnant with a Werewolf, and half the Pack had come bounding in a few moments ago without any understanding of the distress it must have caused Stiles.
Still, he lays Stiles gently down, reveling in the way his Mate's scent immediately settles in contentment, and then burrows in behind him, only to freeze at how much, under the recent panic at the scent of bad bad hunters bad, Stiles smelt like Jackson. He struggles to find words for a second, when it’s so much easier to give into the wolf, but he doesn’t know what his Mate wants right now. “Is this ok?” He asks, tightening his arms protectively around Stiles’ front. Stiles’ answer isn’t immediate and Derek whines reflexively.
“That depends. Why are you doing this?” Stiles asks, and stiffens, bracing himself for the answer. Derek quickly realises that no-one has had a chance to fill Stiles in with the other half of the story, and honestly thinks it’s a wonder the human hasn’t tried to punch him yet.
“I didn’t know, I didn’t know, I didn’t know.” He chants, desperate for Stiles to understand and struggling to prevent his wolf from explaining to Stiles by scenting him all over, because his wolf doesn’t understand that, as a human, it won’t make sense to Stiles.
“Didn’t know what?” Stiles asks calmly, but his heartbeat betrays him. Speaking of heartbeats…
“Twins?” Derek whispers, barely preventing himself from sobbing again. “You’re blessing me with twins?” Stiles’ heartbeat and scent do a complicated flip-flop at that but he doesn’t say anything, presumably waiting for Derek’s explanation first. “Pregnancy doesn’t have a smell.”
Stiles twists in Derek’s arms until he’s facing him, his face a mask of confusion. “But… That night you said…” Sorrow fills Stiles scent and Derek nuzzles impossibly closer.
“Pregnancy doesn’t have a specific smell; you smell like you and a whole new other person, or two persons.” Stiles frowns as he tries to connect the dots. “You came into my loft and I was panicking because I realised I’d never confirmed anything with you before I went because I forgot you wouldn’t be able to smell everything I was feeling and I was scared you wouldn’t know that Mates were forever and that I’d trapped you in an unbreakable bond. And then you smelt like another person, and not like a friend but like someone had integrated themselves so fully into your scent that they became a part of you, like how you smelled of me the night I left.”
“You thought I was cheating on you.” Stiles breathes. “Oh my God you didn’t know… You didn’t mean get rid of the babies you meant get rid of the person I was seeing on the side!” Stiles’ eyes narrow. “How could you think I would do that to you?! After I told you I loved you, after I explained before that night that I couldn’t have sex with someone I didn’t trust anymore after everything that happened with the Nogitsune- you thought what? That I learnt how to lie to Werewolves? That I was just fucking with you?” Derek whines, high in his throat, as Stiles’ heartbeat speeds up and he becomes more agitated.
“No I believed you but I also believed my nose and I just freaked out. And I spent a week deciding that even if you had someone on the side I still wanted you, still would love you until the day I died, and that I would be a fool to let you go. And I went to see you but…”
“I had already left.” Stiles finishes, quietly.
“The Sheriff met me instead, told me everything was my fault. His heartbeat didn’t lie.”
Derek goes to continue but Stiles interrupts. “No, no, no Derek even if you had actually told me to get rid of the babies, it still wouldn’t have been entirely your fault. I knew you were still a good Alpha and a great man even if you didn’t want to be a father. I told my dad that.” Derek strokes Stiles’ cheek with awe in his eyes.
“I don’t know how you managed to fall in love with me.” Stiles tries to protest but then sighs, knowing nothing will change until Derek realises it himself.
“What happened after the confrontation with my dad?”
“We searched for you, as a Pack, and then the letters arrived.” Stiles clutches at Derek’s jacket, unsure whether he’s trying to pull him closer or push him away. “And Scott rang the Sheriff to ask if… If you’d killed yourself.”
“And he said yes.” Stiles snarls. “And Scott couldn’t hear his heartbeat over the phone.” He realises. “I didn’t tell him to do that. You have to believe me. I gave him my new number to hand out to everyone, and just thought none of you wanted to talk to me. If I’d’ve known…”
“If I’d known you were trying to tell me you were pregnant, I would have probably freaked out for a few days and then pampered you incessantly.” Derek admits, sadly, the thought of what could have been pulling at his chest.
“You do know I’m still pregnant, right?” Derek frowns.
“Yes, but you can’t still want me as your Mate. I have brought you nothing but misery the entire time we’ve been Mates.” Stiles’ eyes flash in anger, and though he doesn’t struggle out of Derek’s arms, it’s a near thing.
“I think you should stop trying to tell me what I fucking think.” Stiles spits, incensed. “And don’t you ever, ever dare, Derek Hale, to imply that these babies are misery.”
“I- I didn’t mean-”
“I’m not saying I’m going to jump right back into your-” He looks at their current position and sighs. “I’m not going to let you back into my heart that easily.” He amends. “But as I see it, your grievance was not that you didn’t love me, but that you didn’t love yourself enough to think I could return it. But I can’t be with you if you don’t trust me Derek. I would never cheat on you.” He pauses, and then looks a little sheepish. “Well in the interest of full disclosure, I kinda kissed Jackson at a particularly low point but he didn’t kiss me back and we both realised it was a mistake because I’m still hopelessly in love with you.” Derek doesn’t know whether to perk up or rip Jackson’s throat out. “But here’s the thing, when that happened I told him I didn’t want to be in love with you anymore, and I wasn’t lying.” Derek feels like his heart just got ripped out of his chest. “Now I know the full story, that’s not true, but you’re really going to have to earn me back. And you know, at the end of this there’s going to be two kids, so you have to decide whether you’re all in or not. I’m not fucking them around like that.”
“Stiles. I will and I am. All in. I promise. I love you, and I’ll prove it every day for the rest of our lives if you’ll let me.” Stiles searches his eyes, and Derek realises how much trust Stiles puts in him, not being able to tell by his heartbeat whether he’s lying, and how not trusting Stiles in return was even shittier of him. “I trust you. I do. And…” Derek takes a deep breath. “I’ve been seeing someone for therapy.” Stiles’ eyebrows rise. “I was trying to become a man you would’ve been proud of.” He whispers, and it hits him again that Stiles is alive, and he can barely catch his breath.
“You were already a man I was proud of.” Stiles reprimands gently. “I didn’t want to change you. I just wanted to love you.”
“You love me.” Derek breathes, and Stiles smiles, a quiet warm thing that Derek doesn’t think he’s ever seen before.
“I love you.” He confirms.
For Jackson, the snapshots of the night went something like this;
Filling in everything for the Pack and being informed in return so everyone, finally, was on the same page.
Listening to Allison’s heartfelt apology to Lydia, which was immediately dismissed in favour of a shopping trip.
Using the tip of a claw to paralyse Derek for three hours, regardless of how much of a misunderstanding it was.
Doing his best, like the rest of them, to not eavesdrop as Stiles verbally tears the Sheriff apart.
Wincing as the sound of the Sheriff’s footsteps leading out the door seem to directly correlate to the increase of the droop of Stiles’ shoulders.
Watching as Scott effortlessly and accidentally removes the tension by putting Stiles on his shoulders and informing a paralysed Derek that while he appreciates Derek is Stiles’ Mate, Stiles is also Scott’s best friend and he’s planning on stealing Stiles away for a video-game three-day-athon in the near future.
Formally asking Scott for permission to move back into Pack territory once he’d finished his degree.
Not telling Lydia he loved her (because duh) but informing her he may want a threesome with her and Deputy Parrish at some point.
Watching Lydia’s smug grin form but listening to the way her heart flutters in her chest.
Working with Boyd, Cora and Allison to lug the bodies in his kitchen to a van Chris had arranged waiting just outside his house, after chopping them all into bits that look less suspicious in a body bag, while Kira, Danny and Scott cleaned up the stains.
Suggesting everyone who needs it goes for a shower, including himself.
Hugging the crap out of his best friend while Derek could only growl from where Boyd had lifted him into an armchair.
Confusedly watching Stiles wash his hands with unexplainable vigour, and listening to his recount of squeezing the plant resin onto his hand and holding the knife because he knew the traders would be expecting him to have some kind of weapon, and didn’t want them to know it was actually in his other hand.
Apologising to Danny for keeping the Werewolf secret from him for so long.
Looking over Erica’s shoulder to find her using Derek’s credit card to buy what looked like half of Mumsworld to be delivered to the Pack house.
(Less) formally asking Derek for permission to move back into Pack territory once he’d finished his degree.
Feeling a weight lift off his shoulders as Peter and Chris reappeared in the doorway to inform them that all of the ‘traders’ were dead or captives of some hunting family Chris assured them took the code as seriously as he did.
Reciting the highlights of Stiles’ weird pregnancy habits, but only after Stiles had fallen into a doze (when he tells them all of the laundry incident, they all pale in understanding, while Derek grins proudly at his napping Mate).
Purposefully not wondering where Deaton has disappeared to.
Somewhat smugly informing Derek that Stiles can’t fly until after his pregnancy is over, and that Stiles is, of course, welcome to continue staying here with him, adding a suggestive eyebrow wiggle for maximum effect.
Watching Stiles squeal in delight over Erica’s engagement ring, and then immediately tear up when Boyd tells him they’re putting the wedding on hold until he can attend.
Politely making small talk with Isaac by asking him about his girlfriend, completely thrown by the obscene French that come out of the adorably-puppy-like-Werewolf’s mouth, with Isaac clearly not knowing that he is fluent in French.
High-fiving Isaac anyway.
Meeting Kira and Cora, and somehow managing to piss them both off within twenty seconds by laughing about how similar their names are.
Leaving (a recently awake but still very sleepy) Stiles in charge of picking a film for them all to watch.
Making hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows for his whole pack.
Exasperatedly tugging Stiles’ feet into his lap like usual as he sees Stiles has chosen to watch The Two Towers. Again.
Smiling as Stiles fell asleep with his head in Scott’s lap, while Scott in return fell asleep on Allison’s shoulder.
And, of course, literally diving out of his living room window to escape the snarling newly able-bodied Alpha Werewolf trying to rip his throat out.
It has been thirty seconds since Stiles Stilinski returned to Beacon Hills for good, twelve months and three days after he left.
He’d argued for them to return two months ago but, despite both the twins being Werewolves and therefore immune to human illnesses, Derek had read one too many horror story about babies below the age of four months catching horrible diseases on planes, so he insisted they wait. Stiles is fairly certain supplying Derek with pregnancy books was Jackson’s way of getting revenge for the laundry incident. Not that he’s really complaining, as pregnancy books and Werewolf instincts combined equalled a very, very pampered Stiles Stilinski.
Derek had only just stopped getting the tortured look on his face every time Stiles went outside. Apparently Stiles was still taking in the outside like it was a marvel he was allowed to breathe fresh air again (which, give a guy a break, five months with no daylight minus a very traumatic thirty minutes hobbling, bleeding, down the street being chased by traders which he didn’t really think counted, made him appreciate the outside a little more, sue him), and it made Derek feel so guilty every time, and lament that if he hadn’t forced Stiles out of Beacon Hills he’d have an entire forest to run around in. It was part of the reason Stiles had tried to hide his nightmares from him for a while, especially as they had lessened massively with the ease of his Pack withdrawal, but after he caught Stiles trying to climb into Jackson’s bed, tears streaking down his face, Stiles had to face the music. And there was no lying to Werewolves, so Stiles had to admit some of his nightmares revolved around giving up the babies for Derek’s sake. The Derek Stiles had fallen in love with would have run away for at least a day to process, but the new Derek had instead immediately smothered both Stiles and his baby bump in affection, and calmed all of Stiles’ rational fears. It didn’t immediately change his irrational ones, but nothing except time would. The next day Stiles had kissed him for the first time since they had tentatively gotten back together, a chaste press of lips as Stiles had danced round the kitchen making pancakes, and not even having to deal with Jackson’s obnoxious wolf-whistling and Stiles’ equally as loud ribbing that Jackson was just jealous had managed to wipe the smile off Derek’s face.
The Pack had only stayed in London for three days after the traders before Lydia announced she had to get back to her university. Scott and Derek both wanted to stay with Stiles, but they needed an Alpha to guard the territory in Beacon Hills, so Scott eventually backed down, with the condition of daily Skype calls and that he could assist Deaton and Melissa with the caesarean (which honestly made Stiles feel so much better about the whole ‘birthing’ process that Derek agreed immediately). When the day finally came, only Chris, Danny and the Sheriff stayed in Beacon Hills (Noah not by his own choice but because the final portion of Stiles’ ire culminated in him not being allowed to meet his grandchildren in the flesh until Stiles moved back to Beacon Hills, which was definitely a sufficient punishment), and the rest of the Pack flew over with Deaton.
Stiles is glad to say he remembers very little of getting Maja Lauren and Talia Jackie Stilinski-Hale out of his stomach, other than the way Jackson had bawled hysterically as they announced Talia’s middle-name, which had been hilarious. Telling him that he was also her godfather nearly sent him catatonic, and Lydia and Erica (her godmothers) had to almost wrestle Talia away from him. It was the first time ever that Lydia had demanded something of Jackson and not immediately got her way. Scott, Cora and Boyd (who was apparently ok with being considered a godmother) were thankfully much calmer. Having kids was no walk in the park even with three of them living in the same house (Stiles was very excited to pass the twins off to their very eager grandparent/godparents/honorary uncles and aunties soon and take full advantage of the soundproof rooms in the Pack house) but Stiles was so grateful every day that he was doing this with Derek.
Despite the Alpha’s fears, he was a great dad, and had a surprisingly good singing voice even though he knew barely any songs so had to either get Stiles to teach him Polish lullabies or sing a minor-key version of whichever pop song he’d heard on the radio that day. While Stiles wasn’t great at getting the twins to sleep, too excited and jumpy for that (which had initially worried Derek when Stiles was still recovering from his stitches), he made up for it by being able to make both their babies beam at him as he created colourful bubbles with his Spark to amuse them. Derek had stropped when he found out Talia had laughed for the first time with Stiles while he was out grabbing some groceries, but he’d made it back in time to witness Maja doing the same, and he’d joined in before he even put the shopping bags down.
Jackson was joining them in less than a month, and from then on the whole Pack would be together again. Stiles couldn’t wait. He twisted round in his seat to pull a face at a giggly Maja, and gently tickle the foot of a quieter Talia. Talia lazily flashed her gold eyes at him before they faded back to bright green. The twins were mostly identical; black tufts of hair and Derek’s eyes but Stiles’ cute button-nose and big mouth (God help us Noah had commiserated, Now there’s three of them), except one of Maja’s eyes flashed red with the other gold, which Derek had hastily reassured Stiles just meant she was the Alpha heir for his powers. His chest also puffed up with pride every time he said it, which was at least once a day, but Stiles was kind enough not to mention that. Much.
He looked back at Derek, linking their fingers over the gearstick, and thought about the velvet box he literally had hidden inside the hood of his sweatshirt, as it was the only place Derek wouldn’t search through aggressively as soon as they got out of the car (according to Lydia’s research, Alpha Werewolves tended to normally be overprotective of their children, and Derek’s wolf was apparently determined to make up for lost time by increasing that trait exponentially). He thought about forever, with his Pack, with his best friends, and most importantly with the little family he had made himself, and he could see it stretching out before him, eventful and loud and so, so happy.
Stiles thought Derek might like the sound of that too.