Chapter 1: When Summer Starts.
When Derek calls Isaac to his old house, Isaac goes. He doesn't have much to do these days anyway, what with Boyd and Erica off somewhere and having no other friends.
Not that they really count, much. Erica's kind of a bitch and Boyd mostly just ignores him. But that's fine, and, well, kind of expected.
Isaac arrives in the clearing, and he sees Derek's uncle and the man himself staring at their old home's door.
They'd already stopped their angry, hushed discussion before Isaac was close enough to make out their words, and now they were just sort of standing there, glaring - Derek looked especially broody.
"What's going on?"
"Come here," Derek demands, and Isaac does just that. Derek points to the door, and Isaac can see plainly that a symbol somewhat similar to Derek's tattoo has been scratched into the wood, but he has no idea what that could mean.
"Are we decorating?" Isaac says, dryly, and folds his arms.
Derek looks at him flatly. "We're moving." He says. "Don't come here again, understood?"
"You're the one that called me here," Isaac points out. "If that was all you wanted you could have just told me over the phone."
"What my nephew is failing to say," Peter says, smoothly, "Is that we need you to do something."
Isaac frowns at Peter and glances back to Derek.
Derek sighs, and nods once, shortly. Alright then.
"What do you want?" Isaac asks, and Peter smirks. "Go on, Derek. Tell the boy."
"... I need you to track where Boyd and Erica went." Derek says, finally, after an uncertain pause. Isaac raises an eyebrow in his direction. "... Right..." Isaac draws out. "How, exactly, do you expect me to do that?"
"Follow their scent," Derek snaps. "It hasn't been long enough for it to fade if you look closely enough."
"And why can't you do it?" Isaac asks. "They're your betas."
"I have to stay here," Derek says, and for once, for a split second, Isaac could say the stoic man looked scared. "Protect the territory. In case they come back."
Isaac has the distinct feeling that Derek isn't referring to Boyd and Erica, and Isaac isn't about to pretend he is.
"I need more than that," Isaac says. "I need to know if I'm walking into danger, or what."
"Undoubtedly," Peter says, and Derek glares at him. "The boy has the right to know, nephew." Peter smiles, and Isaac does his best to suppress a shiver.
The man's fucking creepy as shit, alright. Also, a murderer. Isaac prefers to stay as far away as possible.
"Fine," Derek said, flat in tone and expression, but Isaac could detect the barest whiff of concern. "This is the symbol of the Alpha Pack," Derek says, heavily. "And they're going to come to kill us all."
"Dramatic," Isaac says, lightly, "So why exactly am I looking for Boyd and Erica? Aren't they safer wherever they are?"
"Derek thinks the Alphas have them," Peter says. "And - for once - I'm inclined to agree with him."
Oh. Isaac glances to Derek, who looks as solemn as the guy can get. Which is quite solemn.
"Fine," Isaac says. "But if I die, it's on you."
Stiles had rather hoped he'd go away once Peter was back, but apparently, Stiles is just crazy.
Perfect. Awesome, this is just - grand.
"What are you doing?" Stiles asked the ghost - alright, probably not a ghost but it feels better than hallucination - and the young Peter shrugged as he attempted to move a chess piece.
"Fancy a game?" Peter asked, and Stiles glared at him.
He hadn't gotten much sleep over the past few weeks. It's gotten to the point where Stiles figures he might actually pay the real asshole a visit, to ask about resurrection side effects and if he could get out of Stiles' head, thanks a bunch.
"No," Stiles said, flatly. It had gotten past the point of Stiles attempting to appease the ghost, as Stiles had realized he couldn't actually do anything.
"What's up with you?" Peter asked, obviously amused, as he perched on the edge of Stiles' desk.
Stiles is tempted to say you, but he didn't. "Sleep deprivation," Stiles grumbled. "Ever heard of it?" He asked, sarcastically, as he dropped into his desk chair and started spinning in lazy circles.
"Sounds unfortunate," Peter hums. "When I was alive, I didn't spend much time asleep."
"No, you spent six years in a coma," Stiles says, flatly. "You spent a lot of time asleep."
"Unconscious," Peter chides. "There is a difference. After all, I was aware for most of it."
"Spare me the sob story," Stiles snaps, and stops spinning, opens up his laptop.
"I suppose I have told you a few times," Peter sighed. "Very well."
"More like twenty," Stiles grumbled. "Don't you have anything better to do than reminisce about your time in the long-term care ward?"
"Well, obviously," Peter said, "I have tons to do, what with my ability to interact with the world - oh, wait." Peter's tone had been practically dripping with sarcasm, and Stiles' only response was to roll his eyes.
"How about we reminisce about your time in the long-term care ward?" Peter says, lowly, smirking, and Stiles glares at him, harshly. "Get the hell out of my head." Stiles snapped, and resolutely turned his attention to his computer, planning on ignoring anything the ghost had to say for himself.
"That was a lot of years sitting by your mother's bedside, wasn't it?" Peter asks, rhetorically. "I'm surprised you're so unsympathetic to my situation, really. After all, you know how she got."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Stiles couldn't help but respond, and he was being completely honest. His mother spent most of her time in the bed or with his dad, and she sometimes listened to him when he talked to her, and yeah she didn't always know who he was, but she was always his mom, she never got bad enough to say anything or do anything horrible to anyone.
"That's true," Peter mused. "Which makes sense. Most people in your situation wouldn't want to remember."
Stiles ignored the ghost as best he could.
"Well," Peter said, as he dropped off the table, "Better be off." He continued and clapped Stiles' shoulder, which was always weird because it kind of felt like something, even though there was no weight behind it.
"I'll try not to disturb your beauty sleep," Peter says and whisks off out of the room. Stiles has no idea where he goes - or if he actually goes anywhere at all - and Stiles doesn't care enough to ask.
He just wants him gone.
They have a long summer ahead of them.
It's been a week since the events of the end of her sophomore year, and Lydia can't help but be glad that's all behind her.
To a fresh new start. Lydia has the chance to regain her reputation, the chance to date someone other than Jackson (Now he's fucked off to England without so much as a goodbye, two days after their last date, the asshole), the chance to enjoy her life.
"What do you mean you're going to France?" Lydia demands of Allison, once she answers the door. Allison told her over the phone and the first thing Lydia did was get into her mother's car and drive to the Argent's home.
"We're going to visit family," Allison says, meaningfully, "And we're selling the house and moving into a new apartment. That's - that's what I mean." She finishes.
"Alright," Lydia says, "Fine. But you're sending me emails the whole time."
"Of course," Allison says. "I'll send you postcards, I promise."
Lydia purses her lips, and nods. "When are you leaving?" She demands.
"In a week," Allison says.
"Then we'll make the most of it," Lydia says, decidedly. "And one thing?"
"Yeah?" Allison asks.
"Teach me how to fight," Lydia demands and tilts her chin up.
"I thought you'd never ask," Allison smiles.
"I'm going to France."
Scott blinked at Allison. "Oh." He said. "... How long?"
"Just until the end of Summer," She said, as she entered his house. "Can I ask you a favour?"
"Anything," Scott said, honestly, and Allison smiled reflexively then looked away.
Right. They're - she broke up with him.
"Make sure you keep talking to Lydia, please?" Allison requested. "She doesn't have many people in her corner, and I'm going to be gone, and since Jackson left..."
"Jackson left?" Scott asked.
"Yeah." Allison nodded. "For London."
"Oh," Scott said, surprised. "But I thought -"
"So did Lydia." Allison interrupts. "I just - I think she needs someone right now. And I can't be there for her. So..." Allison hesitated. "It would just be nice if you could try and be there for her if she lets you."
"Of course." Scott nodded. "She's my friend too, you know."
Allison smiled. "Thank you." She hesitated then reached out and placed her hand on his arm. "See you in August?" Allison offered, and Scott nodded.
Allison left his house after that, and Scott watched her go.
Stiles is trying to get to sleep when Peter shows up again.
Stiles sits up and glares at him, and Peter raises an eyebrow in Stiles' direction.
"Just ignore me," He says.
"I've tried that." Stiles snaps. "Every. Single. Time, without fail, you start talking my ear off about the most random shit, and I've had enough," he says. "Stay. Quiet, and let me get some fucking sleep."
"My apologies," Peter says. Smirking, like always. "I'll be silent."
"You better be," Stiles grumbles, then lies down again.
This happens every time. This is the first time Stiles has snapped at the other teen, and Stiles feels vaguely proud about his levels of patience.
Mostly he's just fucking tired, but whatever.
It takes a few minutes, but Peter starts up again. Stiles throws a pillow at him, and they're both surprised when it doesn't go through him.
"Ah." Peter muses, leans down and tries to pick it up, but fails. "Well, that's not very fair."
Stiles is tempted to throw his alarm clock at the guy. The only thing that stops him is that he'd have to buy a new one.
"Shut. Up." Stiles grounds out and rolls over again so he can't see the ghost.
Stiles doesn't get a response, and for a few, blissful seconds, Stiles thinks he might actually have decided to stay quiet.
"You really are angry, aren't you?" Peter asks, amused, and Stiles gets up, abrupt.
"What?" Peter asks, and Stiles knows he's just looking for a response but, damn it, Stiles isn't exactly good at ignoring that sort of thing.
"I'm getting out of here," Stiles says, grabs some clothes from his wardrobe. He doesn't have to worry about being heard because his dad is at the station for an overnight shift, so he doesn't feel bad about slamming some doors and drawers to release small amounts of anger.
The one thing Peter seems to respect is his privacy, thank god, so Stiles changes in the bathroom without any interruptions and then manages to leave the house without being waylaid by an annoyingly evil Young Uncle Casper Wolf.
Stiles gets into his jeep and drives.
A few minutes into his drive - he's somewhere near the preserve, off of the beaten path - he hears "Well, this is scenic," And slams onto the break, cuts off the engine and it's suddenly so quiet, here. Aside from himself and the ghost in his backseat, there is not a single sound to be heard.
"What the fuck do you want?" Stiles demands. He just wants to be left alone, for god's sake. But no, this asshole has to follow him everywhere.
"Thought you'd never ask," Peter smiled.
"So you're still here because I haven't done anything? I beg to differ," Stiles grumbled, as he stomped through the underbrush. "I helped Lydia bring you back, thanks. Very much against my will, by the way."
"Mmhm, and I didn't even have to kiss you," Peter agreed. "It's much appreciated, but alas, not enough."
"So why are we going to the Nemeton?"
"We need to finish the ritual," Peter tells him. "Restore me to the whole."
"What are you on about?" Stiles demands.
"The Peter wandering around is a Peter missing most of his self," Peter says. "Calling him a zombie is more accurate than I'd like," This Peter admits, as he wanders on through the branches quite literally, easy as you please.
"So, what, you wanna be stitched back in? Fix the cracks and make him all sunshine and rainbows?" Stiles asks, sarcastically.
"We were never sunshine and rainbows," Peter says, dryly, "But Peter did use to care about more than himself."
"Like what?" Stiles asks, snide. "Your money?"
"No," Peter snaps. "I had a niece. Cora. And I cared for Derek, even if you don't believe that."
"Let me guess," Stiles says, "Cora's dead. Since you tried to kill Derek, I doubt getting the part of you that cares even a little back will do much of anything."
"She's not dead." Peter snaps. "I know it. Your Peter doesn't."
"Please don't refer to him like that," Stiles grimaces. "Regardless - how would you know, huh? Some mysterious unbroken pack bond?"
"No, you dolt." Peter rolls his eyes. "I saved her."
Stiles stops for a moment, both to catch his breath and in surprise. "What?" He asks. "You? Saved someone?" Stiles is obviously amused - why wouldn't he be? The idea of Peter saving someone is laughable.
"Yes," Peter narrows his eyes at Stiles. "And once I'm back in the whole, Peter will know he lost that memory in the intervening years, due to the trauma."
Here, Peter smirks. "Not so different from you, really."
"... I still have no idea what you're going on about and I don't want to, so shut up," Stiles says, flatly, "And let's find this stupid tree."
"We're here, idiot," Peter says, from his place leaning against a tree.
"What?" Stiles asks as he glances to his right.
"Oh." He says. "That's - a big tree stump. What's so special about it, again?"
"It's magic," Peter says, dryly. "Go ahead."
Stiles vaguely remembered a dream about this stump before he'd known what it was. Though he felt stupid, Stiles approached the dead tree, then hesitated.
"Oh for -" Peter sighed, walked over, and gestured to the tree.
"Put your hand on it," Peter said.
"That's not weird," Stiles rolled his eyes, even as he did as instructed. "Not at -"
Stiles was stopped from finishing his sentence, as the Peter he'd been talking to vanished, and what looked like roots took hold of his hand. Forcefully. Stiles couldn't pull away, no matter how hard he tried.
Hello, Stiles. He heard, and it sounded similar to the young Peter.
Fucking evil trees. Stiles heard what sounded like a laugh, but it faded, the same as his vision and the rest of his awareness, as he fell unconscious.
Lydia woke up to the sounds of birds chirping from the preserve and a ping on her phone.
A text from Stiles. Strange, he hadn't contacted her since everything went down. Lydia did feel kind of bad that she hadn't contacted him, if only to show that she didn't associate him wtih what Peter did to them, but she got why he hadn't (or at least, she knew one of the potential reasons. Lydia... isn't really a fan of confronting trauma head-on.)
I know this is... a really weird request
but could you pick up my jeep from the road to the preserve
and pick me up from the other side (of said preserve)?
Lydia sighed. She got up, got dressed, and called Scott.
"Hey man," Stiles said. "Lydia."
"What..." Lydia sighed. "How did you get out here?"
"I went for a walk," Stiles said, dryly, sarcastically. "And, no, I wasn't in a fugue state."
Scott relaxed, but Lydia wasn't convinced. "What happened to your hand?" She asked, and Stiles winced, rubbed at the fresh bruising.
"Oh, nothing," Stiles said, blase. "Just an evil tree wrapped its roots around my arm and wouldn't let go, then proceeded to knock me unconscious and, well, I woke up out here, on the bench." Stiles pointed to a rickety old bench at the side of the cliff, looking down on the lake and the town beside it.
(Not Beacon Hills. Their neighbours.)
They blinked at him.
Stiles winced. "I... uhm, well, I might have neglected to tell you something - fairly important."
Once they arrived back at Stiles' house, Scott forced him to eat a sandwich and sat them down in the living room.
"So," Stiles started, and between bites of his sandwich, continued; "There might have been a complication regarding the whole... ghost Peter thing."
"Right?" Lydia prompted.
"I... might have continued to see him after we brought the guy back to life?" Stiles offered and held his hands out placatingly when Lydia glared at him. "I know! I know, I just... didn't know what to say," Stiles admitted, lamely. "Anyway, I think I've got rid of him. Good news is that he's supposedly the only decent part of Peter's personality, so maybe he won't try to kill us now. Or at least, he'll feel bad about it." Stiles offered, once again, and Lydia continued to glare at him.
Stiles winced and ate his sandwich.
"Stiles..." Scott let out, and Stiles grimaced.
"I didn't know what to do," Stiles said, finally. "And it's done with, now, so..."
"If anything like this happens again you tell us," Lydia demands.
"Alright," Stiles says, and nods, smiling slightly.
His heart's steady, but Scott knows Stiles, and he knows how lie detector tests work, and he's pretty sure, regardless of what Scott's werewolf senses tell him, that Stiles has no intention of keeping that promise.
Not if whatever he keeps from them could end up with a lot of negative consequences if someone were to find out.
Chapter 2: As The Weeks Pass Us By (You'll Find Me There, Amongst The Trees.)
It's been a short time coming.
(Not a long time... it's only been a week or so, after all.)
Allison finds herself quite enjoying having a human sparring partner. To her shame, Allison can admit that she'd thought Lydia would be more... well, delicate, for lack of a better word, about this - but the girl is surprisingly unbothered about getting sweat all over her new work out gear and she doesn't seem to mind her hair getting all messy (though, it did take her a few sessions to concede and pile the lot on top of her head in a bun - a bun that got progressively messier and less neat as the sessions went on, Allison has found) and, surprisingly, (though Allison thinks she shouldn't have found it surprising) the girl didn't complain when she broke a few nails.
She just sharpened them into points and dug them into Allison's side. A clever tactic, Allison will admit. The strawberry blonde hadn't apologised - as Allison hadn't apologised for the bruise on her left thigh after tackling her a bit too hard that one time - but she was careful when she applied the antiseptic and four individual plasters.
Allison put her shirt back on, and nodded in thanks. Work-outs and sparring matches were some of the only times the brunette bothered with a bra (admittedly, she doesn't really need one) just to be on the safe side. Right now, she's glad of that, because that could have been embarrassing.
Not awkward. Lydia isn't the type to let things get awkward - but Allison would at least be slightly uncomfortable.
"We'll stop there for today." Allison says. "You still telegraph your punches, but your kicks are getting stronger and you've stopped unnecessarily twirling around, which is good."
"Waste of energy, exposes your back, the back of your knees, and makes you vulnerable." Lydia repeats, easily, as she packs away the first aid kit.
"Good," Allison nods, as she takes a drink from her water bottle, and turns back to the other teen.
"... So how are you?" Allison asked, softer in tone. They usually talked about whatever after a session then Lydia ran of to god-knows where, and Allison checked over her dad's and her own weapon and ammunitions stock, to see if they were running low or if someone had stolen some.
After that, well, Allison generally read, or watched something on TV to pass the time.
France would be a good change in scenery. It'd be nice to have something to distract her from the image of her dad blowing Gerard's brains out on her orders, at the very least.
(A nice distraction from how good she'd felt at getting rid of such a monster, and how guilty she feels now, whenever she looks at Scott.
He hadn't wanted them to be murderers. Allison, now she is one - at least, vicariously - understands why.)
(They're still kids, really. Allison still gets nightmares about Stiles nearly dying, bleeding out on her lap in the back of Jackson's Porsche. Now, she has this, too.
At the very least, Allison knows she's capable of what might need to be done at some point. Because Allison knows, in her heart, a sinking feeling in her gut, that things will only get worse from here on.)
"I'm fine," Lydia smiles, teeth too obvious and eyes too wide. "Why?"
"Jackson left without saying goodbye," Allison says, blunt and to the point. They've been dancing around this topic since the week before last, and Allison sick and tired of Lydia's fake smile. (Her and her dad's flight got delayed for a couple of days due to a bad storm, apparently. What actually happened was a wendigo that used to be a druid ravished the area around the airport... according to her dad, the Tribunal - a force she was to meet this summer, as the Argent Matriarch now that her mother and Kate are dead - had had a rather tough time cleaning up that mess.)
(The Tribunal's got enough druidic power behind it that a mass-scale memory modification isn't too difficult, but it is draining. That's what the witches and sparks are for. Allison still has a lot to read up on, and she's only got another three days...)
(She's panicking, okay, but Allison can handle this. She's going to handle this, and she's going to handle this well.)
Lydia's got a great smile. What she's had on her face lately isn't that smile, and it almost scares Allison with it's insincerity.
Jackson died, and Lydia nearly lost him. Allison thinks that him leaving anyway, that even though he didn't die and they confessed, finally, that they do indeed actually love each other, wasn't enough and Lydia lost him anyway - Allison thinks that that hurts more than if he'd actually stayed dead in the first place.
Lydia's smile drops off her face immediately, and her stare is intense in it's 'don't you fucking dare' nature.
"Lydia -" Allison starts, helplessly, "You've got to talk to someone about it." Allison takes a step forward, reaches out to place a hand on Lydia's arm, but the other girl steps back, so Allison drops it.
"Not yet." Lydia says, jaw so close to being clenched in outright refusal that Allison winces. "After you come back," She says, in compromise.
"Promise you'll come back." Lydia snaps, and it's angry, sure, and she has every right to be but it isn't Allison that left, it isn't Allison that broke her heart into two then stomped on the pieces.
"You don't get to be angry at me." Allison says, firm but soft. "I'm your friend, alright, your best friend, I'd never hurt you like that and you know it."
Lydia's jaw quivers, ever so slightly. Allison thinks back to just after her mother had died, thinks back to how Lydia just... held her and they cried and Allison tried her best to help Lydia with what she went through even though she told Allison so very little, and Allison almost wishes for that casual intimacy back, but Lydia's closed herself off now and wishing never gets you anywhere.
You have to work for what you want, not just want it. Allison is patient - she'll help Lydia, but it's Lydia that needs to determine whether she's ready for anything remotely close to resembling intimacy, even that of a platonic nature.
Lydia's jaw stops quivering, and her eyes harden. "I'm not," She says, firm. "But you are coming back, and when you're back, maybe I'll talk." Lydia says. "Let me make my own mistakes, Allison." Lydia continues, softer. "Let me do stupid shit and let me figure out how to help myself out of this... mess, okay, and if I fail you can tell me 'I told you so' and we can talk it out, but let me try, first, to help myself."
"Okay." Allison agrees quickly, because that's likely the best she'll get. Lydia hates talking through her own problems; her sessions with Morrell are evidence enough of that fact. But this - this is something, progress, maybe, in a somewhat decent direction.
Lydia smiles, slightly, properly, and throws her coat on. Allison feels something like hope.
Heartbreak doesn't break you, Lydia finds. Allison treats her like it might - and maybe, if their places were swapped, it might have indeed done such a thing to the dark haired girl.
But Lydia isn't Allison, and Lydia's been through far worse than an arrogant boy toying with her feelings.
Once Lydia returns home, she opens up the bestiary.
Banshee. Also known as The Wailing Woman. Human in appearance - apparently of the same species or at least a close enough relative that breeding between the two can happen accidentally. Supernatural creature, not a preternatural or magically inclined human (see; spark, seer, psychic, witch, druid/darach, among others)
Lydia smiles. She's found something that fits her, Lydia thinks, and it's something that's steeped in the Irish heritage her family doesn't even bother to hide. Lorraine Martin was likely the last banshee in the family, it seems, as it appears Banshees are only ever female (specifically, according to the bestiary, biological, however there have been cases she's found online of those expected to be Banshees not being them and those not expected to be banshees being them, and as far as Lydia can tell that is tied to their trans nature, so Lydia supposes magic doesn't really care about biology all that much, which, she admits, does make sense, because it's magic) and the Banshee side is on her father's, not her mom's, which is... unfortunate, but Lydia can deal with that if it means she has some sense of understanding of what she is, and more importantly...
What she can do.
Stiles gives not a single shit about how it might appear to rock up to Peter's apartment, out of the blue, because even if the asshole younger version of him is gone, finally, Stiles still has questions, thank you very much, and also maybe he wants to punch the older man because of how he ignored the fact that Stiles had said no, and had fucking meant it.
Stiles bangs on the man's door not once, not twice, but ten very loud times, and after a moment the door is opened.
"Stiles," The man says, smoothly. Stiles knows the asshole probably smelt him coming or whatever, which is why he isn't surprised at all, but Stiles kind of wishes he was, because that would maybe give him some vindication.
"Derek told me where you live," Stiles says, without preamble.
"Ah." Peter nods, and momentarily purses his lips in what Stiles can only assume is annoyance. "I see."
"Well?" Stiles asks.
"Of course," Peter steps aside. "Do come in."
Stiles feels like this is probably a stupid idea, but he steps past Peter into the man's apartment regardless. It's surprisingly tastefully decorated, with more colour than Stiles had expected.
"Less cave-like than I expected," Stiles comments, as he wanders about the living space and glances, with vague interest, at the man's bookshelves.
"Oh really?" Peter says, dryly, as he shuts the front door. Stiles tries his best to ignore whether or not the creep just locked him in here (or not) and turns away from the bookshelves to have a proper look at Peter.
He seems... younger. Weird.
Stiles frowns, and glances at the kitchen. "It's... not bad," Stiles admits. "There's probably about twelve bedrooms here, which seems excessive, but - not bad." He finishes, begrudging.
"I assume you didn't come here just to judge my interior decorating skills?" Peter asks, smooth as ever, as he folds himself gracefully into the armchair.
Stiles, in comparison, drops onto the couch as far from the man as is humanly possible and sits on the edge, awkward and alert just in case.
"And," Peter adds, "If you remember, back when my family was alive, twelve bedrooms wasn't excessive. We were a large pack." Peter points out, affable sounding but Stiles can detect a hint of something vaguely dangerous underneath.
"Suppose you could say the same about my mom's office," Stiles offers, internally hesitant but externally blasé. If there's one thing he will begrudgingly admit he sympathises with Peter about, it's the loss of his family.
"Indeed," Peter says, equally unaffected, but he appears to relax minutely, and Stiles figures he's probably less likely to be mauled on the spot.
"You can relax, you know," Peter says, amused, after a beat. "Unlike my dear nephew, I won't bite."
"Excuse me, but you biting go us into this mess," Stiles snaps.
"Let me clarify;" Peter says, ignoring what Stiles had previously said. "I won't rip your throat out with my teeth."
"Oh, great." Stiles nods. "Good to know. Doesn't mean you won't kill me in another way."
"It would at least be more dignified." Peter allows.
"Not going to relax," Stiles says, pleasantly. "That would be stupid."
"Indeed," Peter repeats, and then falls silent. Stiles fidgets, for a moment, then sighs.
"Your younger self continued to literally haunt me after you were returned to life, by the way." He says, abrupt, and Peter sits up, intrigued.
"Really?" Peter asks. "Interesting. I thought something felt different."
"He took me to this - tree stump, or whatever- whoa!" Stiles stands and backs up as Peter surges to his feet. "Whoa, okay, what? What?!" Stiles demands.
"How big was the tree stump?" Peter demands, and Stiles shrugs, hands still held up defensively. "I don't know?" Stiles protests, "Like, big, the tree was probably huge-" Stiles backs up again as Peter steps forwards.
"Calm down," Peter snaps. "What's wrong with your wrist?" He asks, and Stiles glances at his left arm, where the tree had grabbed it. Now he looks at his wrist properly, he winces. Stiles has... avoided looking at the bruising, okay, because he doesn't really want to think about what happened, and Stiles hadn't realised it was still there. It's been over a week already!
"Look -" Stiles starts, backs up a little farther, has to turn and attempt to circle his way around the room a little so he doesn't hit the wall. "Look, I don't really know?" Stiles attempted, "Your younger self stopped me from getting any sleep so I was tired, like fucking tired alright, so I don't really remember -"
"-Either you remember or I will help you to remember," Peter threatens, and Stiles blinks.
"... Uh, what?" He asks, momentarily confused.
"A werewolf can take memories," Peter says, bored sounding all of a sudden, "And they can return them. They can also surface memories that you aren't fully aware of."
"Oh, great, perfect," Stiles says, sarcastically, "And how is this gone about, exactly?"
"To put it bluntly," Peter says, amused now, as he flicks his claws out on his right hand. "We dig around in your head by sticking our claws into your neck."
"...wonderful." Stiles sighs. "How about no?"
"Fine," Peter puts away his claws, "But - if you aren't going to let me know that way, you're going to have to tell me." Peter gestures to his couch, and, warily, seeing no other real option, Stiles goes and sits down.
"Since you obviously came here because you want help you don't think anyone else will be willing to give you," Peter says, "I'm going to. First, though, I have to know what happened."
"Why?" Stiles asked. "Why would you even want to help?"
"Like I've said," Peter inclines his head. "I like you, Stiles. So... why not?"
Stiles sighs, because he can't really say anything to that because it's... weird, so Stiles talks.
"You dragged me out into the woods in the middle of the night..." Stiles grumbles, and Peter leans back, and listens intently.
Chapter 3: Things Carry On. (As They Tend To.)
The Tribunal, Training, Tracking, Theorising, and things that don't begin with the letter T.
I was instructed to feed the beast, so do that I shall :).
Isaac found Derek holed up in the Loft they'd recently acquired, leaning on the table with his head down, back to the door.
"You called?" Isaac asked. It was late - the sky outside was dark and clear, the new moon shining with it's reflected light, the stars bright and visible enough so that Isaac could probably spot constellations.
You know... if he knew any.
Isaac tracked the movement of an aeroplane across the sky as he waited for Derek to answer.
"I have something you need to do," Derek said, heavily. As his Alpha, Derek called the shots, so Isaac nodded and stood minutely straighter. "What is it?" Isaac asked, and Derek sent a look his way, before sighing. "I need you to track Erica and Boyd," Derek ordered. "I need to know if they got somewhere safe or not."
"What -" Isaac hesitated.
Derek scowled at nothing, then sighed again. "I could smell them on - Stiles," the man admitted. "I thought they would have been gone by that time, so -"
"You want me to ask him?" Isaac asked, then winced. He'd interrupted.
"... No," Derek said. "No, I'll do that. I can't leave the territory and I don't want their trail to go cold, so I'll need you to try and find them." He sounded annoyed. Probably because he had to interact with Stiles, Isaac figured. That was - usually a pretty annoying time. Isaac's just glad that, despite rooming at Scott's on occasion and in general, hanging around the not-omega (but not pack) werewolf, he hasn't had to interact much - or at all - with the guy's best friend.
He's not... really around much. Scott worries. Sometimes.
"I'll ask Stiles," Peter said. Isaac had ignored his presence upon entering since he usually kept to himself aside from when he had a sarcastic enough remark or an ulterior motive - Isaac narrowed his eyes at the ex-Alpha because he was pretty sure that this was the latter.
Now that he was paying attention - Isaac could pick up Stiles' scent on him. That's - weird. That's very weird.
Derek's nostrils flare, and Isaac can tell from how he twitches, his scowl falters, that he can smell it too.
"... fine," Derek said, tone wary. "I'll ask Scott," He said, after another suspicious look in his uncle's direction.
"I can do that on my way out of town," Isaac offered. "Maybe -" He hesitated. "Maybe you could check around town, see whether or not they returned home?"
Derek frowned at him. Isaac held back a flinch, and the man sighed. "Right." He grumbled. "Alright," He said, louder - acquiesced. "Yes. Now - go, Isaac. Get some sleep," The man gestured upstairs. "You should be gone by dawn."
Isaac nodded and waited for Peter to vacate his spot on the staircase before heading up.
Derek turned to Peter, who simply smirked at him, awaited whatever accusation Derek was about to hurl in his direction.
Derek knew he was probably going to dodge it, but Derek still has to ask.
"What are you doing?" Derek demanded.
"Dear nephew," Peter smiled, sharp with no substance. No genuine meaning. Peter hadn't properly smiled - so far as Derek knows - since the fire. Derek... figures, well.
Why would he?
"I am standing here," Peter said, smoothly, "Wondering why you feel it's a good idea to scare the abused one. Really, that's likely the best way to get him on your side, as it were." The sarcasm was obvious, and Derek held back a growl. He didn't know how to - deal, how to handle abuse victims. Didn't know what to say and what not to say and how to treat them.
Hell, he can't even handle his own problems. Like Kate. What was he supposed to do with a teenager?
"That's not what I meant," Derek growled, attempted to ignore Peter's remark. "Why do you smell like Stiles?"
"Oh." Peter smiled. More of a smirk, really. "I've been helping him. Fixing what I broke, as it were. More than you're doing for your betas, I might add," Peter says, blase.
"You aren't helping him." Derek denied. "You don't help people. What are - what is it you want?"
"Ah. You're asking why," Peter's smirk widens, eyes amused. "He asked. Wasn't it you that told him where I live?"
Had he? Derek frowned, racked his memory. Scott had visited Isaac, and Stiles had tagged along, he remembers, but...
Oh. Incessant talking. Stiles had annoyed the information out of him.
Derek scowled. Peter smiled - proper amusement. "He can be quite persistent," Peter comments. "Wouldn't leave until I gave him a few books."
Derek raised an eyebrow at his uncle.
"Magic," Peter smiled, gestured with his hands, his tone dramatic. "Considering the Nemeton seems to like him enough, well, why not?"
Derek stared at his uncle. "Magic," Derek said, flatly. "Like - druids? Deaton?"
"Definitely not," Peter said, with a derisive, fleeting grimace. "The boy has magic all his own, he doesn't need that. No, genuine Magic." Peter smirked. "After all, someone who can unconsciously keep a part of a person's soul attached to their head as a... guide, so to speak, well, they have power worth cultivating."
Derek stared some more. Peter shrugged, held his hands out. "But that's just a thought. If you'd rather have to worry if the boy is protected or not, that's up to you." Peter smirked. "Up to you if you're fine with the human being able to defend himself or, alternatively, having to listen to him complain whenever you say he can't get involved."
Derek grimaced, reflexively. The less time spent around a rambling, angry, annoyed Stiles, the better. The less time spent around random non-pack teenagers the better full-stop, but then, Derek doesn't think he's going to have that luxury any time soon, so he'll settle for what he can get.
"Fine," Derek said.
It couldn't be too dangerous, anyway. Peter wouldn't want Stiles knowing something he could use against the man.
"So apparently I have magic." Stiles opened with. Lydia raised a perfectly plucked eyebrow in his direction, expression unperturbed. "I'm a banshee." She told him in return. "What kind of magic?"
"Banshee?" Stiles asked, then rolled his shoulders and nodded "- Right, whatever - um, my own?" He said, sounding like he was quoting someone.
"Hmm." Lydia hummed, considering. "Not a druid, then."
Stiles grimaced. "No, not a cryptic, unhelpful, balance-obsessed human, not that at all," Stiles agreed. Lydia had deigned to share her translation of the Bestiary with him. She was in the middle of translating Allison's French one - the girl had offered an English version but Lydia preferred the chance to practice her languages - and had decided that since Allison was out of town, then, well, Lydia had supposed there were worse people she could bring home for more... mature reasons.
Lydia figured she might as well teach him Latin and French. There was even more reason, now, if he was going to be digging around in old magic books that someone - he wouldn't say who - had given him. Lydia suspects Deaton wouldn't have given the boy anything, so... as much as she'd rather not think about the man, she figured it was likely Peter.
"I think I'm a spark," Stiles said, scratching the back of his head. He was growing out his hair, and Lydia approved. She'd give him some tips, and she wouldn't tell him they were originally from Jackson - along with, of course, some of her own research on the topic.
(It'd annoy Jackson more, in all honesty, but the truth is Lydia wouldn't tell him because Lydia doesn't want to talk about or think about Jackson at all. Ever. Even if he came back and showed up on her doorstep with a perfectly arranged bouquet (unlikely) she'd simply slam the door in his face, no matter the gossip that would spout.)
(For the part that was her own research - Lydia preferred those around her to look good. It was nothing against those that didn't bother, Lydia just preferred the thought that if someone were to take a candid, no matter when or where or with what device, she and those around her would always look good. As the most popular girl at her school - and, more recently, the town's nutjob - she couldn't afford any less.)
"A spark?" Lydia asked. That wasn't in the bestiary. She frowned minutely - not enough to cause any lines between her brows - at that. A lack of information was always a bad thing.
"Yeah," Stiles nodded. "It's mentioned in a few of the books... I might have to go ask about that."
"Peter will likely be unhelpful about it," Lydia said, and as Stiles blinked at her, she rolled her eyes. "Stiles," She said, "I wasn't born yesterday. Where else would you have gotten the books from?"
Stiles scratched the back of his head again. "True," He admitted, then snorted. "Deaton would be - the most cagey if I even tried to ask."
"Exactly," Lydia nodded. "So next time you go, I'll come with you."
Stiles' head snapped up. "What?" He asked - spluttered, really. Lydia pursed her lips. "Next time you go to Peter's," She repeated, voice slow, "I'll come with you."
He'd need all the back-up he could get, in her opinion. Nobody should be alone with Peter - in this specific case, someone who was bitten unwillingly and forced to spend a few months under the sway of the Alpha's ghost shouldn't have to spend any time in their proximity even remotely close to resembling alone. Ten people at least would be preferred, but Lydia doesn't know ten supernatural-world-aware people, so this will have to do.
"You don't need to do that," Stiles denied. "No - it's fine, really, Lyds. Really."
Lydia looked flatly at him. "I'm coming." She told him. He didn't really have a choice in the matter, and she'll apologize for that later - for that removal of his ability to choose - but for now, Lydia simply refused to let him be around Peter when it was only the two of them in the room.
And besides. Peter was a werewolf she needed to guilt trip into telling her things. She couldn't very well do that with Derek - he had enough of a guilt complex already. She didn't need that baggage exuding from him at every future interaction any more than it already did.
The rest of Allison's holiday wasn't to be spent entirely in France, as she'd found out. They were going to stop in Fresno for a bit before the flight - her dad had been called in by an old hunting 'friend' for a case and he couldn't exactly say no, so he'd booked the flights a little later than originally planned, apparently - and so the couple days in Fresno happened, and that was a thing, though Allison spent most of the time in the Hotel worrying if her dad was going to die from the wendigo - because, yes, apparently that was the issue here, oh merde - and reading up on the bestairy and what she was supposed to say to the tribunal and how she was supposed to act and what her responsibilities were, as the new Argent Matriarch, despite her age -
And, well. Allison was glad when they boarded the plane.
It took around eighteen hours give or take with a couple connecting stops. It was supposed to be about sixteen, but, well, airports. Not exactly the most reliable things. Anyway, it took that long just to get to Paris, which they were staying in for a week so that they could 'catch up' with a few branches of their family that live in the area - read; getting support for their case - and then they're going via the Paris-Orly airport to the Brenoux airstrip (a few strings were pulled, apparently, but Allison doesn't know which ones) which took about three or so hours, which about halved the time it would have taken to drive there - which was good, since they didn't have a car and weren't about to get a rental, just in case things went south. Anyway, they ate at the restaurant there, then took a taxi (apparently a relative, got it for half-price... putain, there's a lot of Argents in this area) into Mende.
From there, they went to the Hôtel du Pont Roupt, which is where they were going to stay. The French branch of the Tribunal oversaw all Argent family proceedings, and it was up Saint-Privat road, up the - well, Allison thinks it's a mountain. That it classes as one. Anyway - it's up that road, and the walk's about fifty minutes, give or take, which isn't pleasant but she knows why they can't get a rental and why they haven't been provided a car.
They killed Gerard. Kate's dead, Victoria - her mother - is dead, that's two very significant, capable, well-liked and respected hunters dead. And that's the Argent fucking Matriarch dead. One on purpose by them themselves, one they're going to have to defend, and one they're going to have to plead they don't set a bounty of some kind on Derek's head for, because they have witness statements about what she did but they're flimsy at best and given by a werewolf, which, well, the Tribunal doesn't exactly trust - at least, this branch of it. The French Tribunal is more on the side of the hunters, due to the sheer number of Argents in their ranks, and it shows, and right now, that's really not helpful.
So, well, they've got a few days to prepare. And then it'll be days of bargaining and politics and trying to convince the bigoted lot that a seventeen-year-old is fit to run a hunting family.
You know things are bad when you'd prefer to be in Beacon Hills than deal with this merde.
When Danny opened his door, he hadn't expected to see Lydia. He'd say she was the last person Danny expected, but that's not true, and even if it was, Danny wouldn't be surprised, exactly.
What surprises him is the fact that she brought Stiles Stilinski, of all people. Danny doesn't generally base his opinions of people off of the opinions of those around him, or at least he tries not to, which means when he says he doesn't really like the guy all that much - not that he dislikes him, per say... Danny doesn't really dislike anyone unless there's a good reason, like being a fucking bigot, or a predator, or a murderer - he means that out of their personal interactions, Danny hasn't found himself liking the person that Stiles presented himself as overmuch.
"I need you to do something for me," Lydia said, tone saccharine sweet. She has all the blackmail in the world on him, so even if she hadn't brought Stiles and his likely obsessive research on anything blackmail related he'd probably have agreed regardless. But she did, so that's two people with a fair amount of dirty laundry of his that they could air, so Danny sighs and steps aside, lets the two inside.
"Danny?" He hears - his little sister, and, oh great. Wonderful. She's never met either of the two people that are about to enter, and he'd rather she didn't because, despite the fact that she's only heard about things they've done and maybe seen them around town, the girl's got crushes the size of Mexico. Great.
"Some of the stuff you've said they've done," She'd told him when he asked why the hell she had a crush on Stiles Stilinski and his best friend's girlfriend. "Like, things he's said and done are really funny, and anyone who breaks Jackson's nose is good in my book. And, well, she's Lydia Martin."
He gave her the second one - there were a serious number of people with a crush on the redhead (some might humor her, but Lydia Martin was not anywhere near to being blonde, strawberry or otherwise) - but the first one? Still baffles him. To this day. Danny was never too bothered about her opinion on Jackson; he got it, alright, Jackson wasn't the most likable person at times, Danny isn't blind. But the rest? Just... what.
(Danny will give he's got a weird thing where at times his face is actually pretty good looking, alright, he'll give it, but if you asked him, well, Danny probably wouldn't tell you if he found the guy attractive or not because he's actually a nice person, and if the answer was no, well, he at the very least wouldn't say that to the guy's face.)
"Go upstairs, please," He said, sending her a smile. It was probably a little strained around the edges.
"Who is it?" She asked. "Just us," Lydia said, smoothly, and Danny winced as his sister's eyes widened. "Oh." She squeaked. Stiles offered a lazy wave, more intent on staring Danny down and that was at least something because he didn't see Danny's little sister go pink and flee upstairs.
"Someone's got a crush," Stiles said, amused, and Lydia looked flatly at him. "Stiles," She said, then rolled her eyes and looked at Danny.
Well. He didn't miss it then. Damn.
"Lydia," Danny said, after a moment. "She's got a crush on Lydia."
Stiles raised an eyebrow at him as if to say "Yes... that's what I was saying... duh..." and Danny remembered that Stiles was one of the most oblivious people he'd ever had the 'pleasure' of speaking to.
Lydia's flat stare continued, for a moment. Then she rolled her eyes again and looked to Danny, and Danny could practically hear her call Stiles an idiot.
"Regardless," She said smoothly, "We need you to hack into something for us."
"What?" Danny asked, tone wary.
"Oh, nothing too bad," Stiles said, easily, and Danny tensed. "Just... hack into whatever you can think of to get us any and all information on Peter Hale," He asked - not really asked, Danny understood, but it was a nicer way of putting it.
"... you mean the coma victim?" Danny asked. Everyone knew what had happened back in two-thousand-and-four; the Hale fire was news for a lot longer than most things stayed news. The biggest and longest-lived family in town all dying in a house fire tended to do that, funnily enough.
"That's the one," Stiles said, cheerful in tone, and Danny refrained from narrowing his eyes at him and turned to Lydia. "What's in it for me?" He asked.
"Well, for one," She said, breezily, "I won't air your dirty laundry, and nor will Stiles, and, for another, you'll be paid. Handsomely." Lydia smiled, shark-like yet somehow still sickeningly sweet.
He's never known how she does it. Really, it's commendable. If Lydia wasn't dead set on getting a field medal - what Jackson doesn't notice, Danny's more than smart enough to pick up on - she could definitely succeed as an actress.
"Fine," Danny sighed because he knew if he refused, well, dirty-laundry airing would occur, and they'd start pestering him and hanging around him and generally being a pair of annoying tag-alongs until he did what they wanted, and Danny figured he'd spare himself and his sister that mess.
"Fine." He repeated, and the two smiled. God, this was why they should never have met.
Chapter 4: When Summer Ends.
Lydia smiles, small, sharp, but genuine. "Exactly," she says.
Stiles nods. That's that.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Stiles keeps a promise he never voiced and pulls up to Lydia's house on his way to Peter's apartment.
Natalie Martin opens the door. Stiles smiles - strained - as she frowns at him, suspicious - before Lydia appears from elsewhere in the house and pushes past her mother.
"We're going to visit Danny," Lydia says. Mrs. Martin - is it still Mrs, or have they divorced already? Lydia's told him they're planning on it, but that was a few weeks ago - relaxes, slightly, and nods.
"I'll be back for dinner," Lydia says and leads the way to Stiles' jeep. Stiles offers her mother a small, half-hearted wave goodbye before he hurries over to the vehicle and hops into the driver's seat. Once they're out of her mother's sight, Lydia starts talking and Stiles pushes the car to just under the speed limit.
"We will visit Danny first," Lydia says, and Stiles nods. "It's been over a week," Stiles agrees, "He should have something by now."
Lydia nods, and that's that part of this conversation over with. She turns, looks at Stiles, and as they pull up to the lights, Stiles glances at her, uneasy. "What?" He asks, and she tilts her head, assessing.
"You should gel your hair," She says, and Stiles relaxes immediately. "Uh," He starts, "Well, I was going to, but, you know," He shrugged. "I couldn't be bothered?" He offered.
Lydia pursed her lips. "As payment for the TV you never gave me," She says, and there's a smile tugging at the corners of her lips. Stiles winces, "I'll get you some. Please refrain from leaving the house without touching it if you plan on seeing me."
Stiles shrugs, and that's that.
"Anyway," Lydia says, "Peter."
Stiles winces, and sobers nods solemnly. "I will slap him when we see him," Lydia says, frankly - so matter of fact it was as if she'd been talking about the weather. "But, however," She purses her lips again, unhappy but allowing, "You may do most of the talking for this visit."
"Right," Stiles says, "Because you want to see how he acts?" Stiles asks.
Lydia smiles, small, sharp, but genuine. "Exactly," she says.
Stiles nods. That's that.
It's the day after Derek ordered Isaac to find Isaac and Boyd - it's almost dawn, so he gets up, dressed, and leaves the loft; acts as ordered.
It's not - he's not exactly happy with the arrangement; he thinks he would be if he liked his Alpha. He doesn't, not really, not if he's honest with himself.
Regardless - Isaac runs to Scott's place and knocks on the door. Scott opens it; Melissa's at work, early shift, Isaac stays at Scott's enough to know this - and smiles at him.
"Isaac," He greets, stands aside and lets him in. Isaac inclines his head but doesn't follow through with that. Scott frowns and Isaac winces, minutely, but Scott's a werewolf and he can see that - damn it - so Scott softens, the way he does, in that way he does it, and Isaac relaxes.
"Derek wanted to know if you've seen Boyd or Erica," Isaac says, "I wanted to tell you I'm going to be gone for a while."
Scott nods, slow, processing. "Are they missing?"
"In a way," Isaac says. "They ran, but uh - Derek scented them on Stiles, so, well," Isaac shrugged. "He's wondering why they hadn't left by that point, and how Stiles had been around them for long enough that he smelled vaguely of them."
Scott nods - less slow. Understanding. "Alright," Scott says, "Well - if you're leaving, at least have breakfast," Scott asks of him.
Isaac can't really say no to food, so he goes into Scott's home and into his kitchen. Scott gestures for him to get himself some food and disappears upstairs, so Isaac sets about making himself something to eat. He hesitates but gets Scott the cereal he knows he likes, too.
"You didn't have to do that," Scott says, "But thanks," And Scott smiles at him when he takes the cereal, and Isaac shrugs and eats his omelet.
"Do you want me to help find them?" Scott asks. "No," Isaac says, "No, it's fine. They can't have gotten far, it's only been -" Well, about a month, but still. "They can't have gotten far," Isaac repeats, lamely.
"Alright," Scott says, easily. Isaac nods, finishes his food. "Here," Scott says, gets up and grabs a water bottle from the fridge. "For the journey," He says, and Isaac takes it. It appears Scott had gone upstairs for something more than just getting dressed - he tosses Isaac the bag he'd brought down, and Isaac catches it.
Oh, right. Isaac had left the bag he uses for school (and everything else... it's his only bag) when he'd stayed here last.
"Thanks," Isaac says, because he knows it's got some food - nothing exactly healthy, but stuff that lasts - some clothes and some drinks in it, and he'll need that.
"No problem," Scott says, and to him, it really isn't. Isaac's never really known anyone like Scott - someone who'll do something good, something nice, just because that's the right thing to do.
Isaac shrugs, nods to Scott, then leaves the house. "Bye," He says, belatedly, after he shuts the door behind himself. Scott can hear that, so it's no issue, and Isaac takes off, attempts to find Boyd's or Erica's scent, or even both of them.
The Tribunal is stubborn. It's almost mid-July, Allison will need to be back in beacon for August, but they still haven't budged on anything.
Well. They've budged slightly on Kate. She'll get a posthumous stripping of her hunter's license and all the people who worked with her will be suspended for five weeks, with mandatory psychological evaluations and mandatory training in how to actually act as a hunter, but that's - well, that's the only semi-decent thing. They still want the remaining Hales - Peter and Derek - dead, they still want someone else as Matriarch, they still want all that shit.
Allison can't let that happen. Neither can her dad, really. He'd be stripped of his hunting license the minute someone else got put in power, they both know it.
"We've got nothing else we can tell them," Allison says.
"We've got one thing," He says. "There aren't any remaining main-bloodline Argents aside from you, Allison," He sighs. "And they're - very set on having that." Her dad pauses, sighs. "And there's something else."
"What?" Allison asks. "That zipped file," He says, "On the USB stick your aunt gave you?"
Allison nods. She'd told him about it once all this blew over - he'd had a look through, and deemed it safe enough for her to keep a hold of. "What about it?" Allison asks.
"The password," He says, "Gévaudan."
Allison nods, frowning. "I read about that," She said. "The first Argent - the Maid of Gévaudan."
"That was in the diaries, right?" He asks, and she nods. The USB didn't just contain the bestiary - there was an entire rundown of the history of the Argents and a lot of diaries by various family members stored on it. Allison figured it was in case the physical copies were destroyed, there would be a seriously ridiculous amount of digital copies that could be made physical to replace them.
"She married an Argent, and started the whole hunting business we're known for," Allison says. "Obviously, given the time period, some stuff's been lost. There's a statue of her in Auvers," Allison adds.
"Have a look," Her dad asks of her - instructs her, really, but there you go. "And tell me if something looks... familiar."
Allison frowns at her dad, but nods and moves over to her laptop. She plugs in the USB, powers it up and opens the zip file. She puts in the password, French letter é and all, and reads the titles of each of the files within.
"Pictures," She says.
"Not quite," Chris inclines his head, looks at the files over her shoulder. "Open one."
Allison does, then frowns at the drawings and paintings held within.
"The Beast," She reads. It looks a lot different from what the internet has told her. "Sebastien... Valet."
"Marie-Jeanne's brother," Chris says, heavily.
"Oh." Allison blinks. That tidbit wasn't mentioned in the overview. Glancing quickly at the other files, the subfolders, Allison could see that there were a few more diaries hidden within this encrypted zip file than she'd thought at first glance. "Right," Allison pauses. She's not really sure what to say about that.
"Have a look at the others," Her dad says, and he leaves her to it.
Allison pauses and opens the folder labeled Marie-Jeanne Argent (Nee Valet)
Allison opens the only file held within.
The resemblance is uncanny, really. She sucks in a short, sharp, surprised breath, and stares.
'Marie-Jeanne', by an artist named 'Louis'; this appears to be his only known painting - perhaps an old friend?
Allison - a recent photograph, from an Argent family photoshoot*. Resemblance uncanny - unnatural. doppelgänger?
*staged to get this photo, for easier comparison.
Derek sees Scott approach the Loft from the window. It's two days after he sent Isaac away, the day after he scoured the whole town for some sign that his betas were still here.
There wasn't one. Derek couldn't worry, because they'd chosen to leave, they'd decided to abandon the pack, but they're teenagers. They aren't cut out for running around America trying to find somewhere, trying to find another pack that will accept them. Laura hadn't managed to start her own pack or find any territory whatsoever. How were two alpha-less betas supposed to fare any better?
Derek sighed, and leaned forward, hands clasped together. He waited, and Scott came into the loft not a minute later.
"Isaac said Boyd and Erica ran," Scott says. "Do you need any help finding them?" He asks.
Because he's Scott. Derek grimaces, then sighs, shakes his head. "No," he says, flatly. "No. Just - go home, Scott."
Scott frowns at him. Derek looks away and closes his eyes, briefly, before sighing again.
"Alright," Scott says.
Derek... doesn't really know what to do with Scott. He's an omega with no signs of going feral, he's surprisingly good at going through with a plan without anyone being aware of it, and he's just -
Strange. Derek has never really known anyone much like Scott... aside from Talia. Scott's a lot like her, like Derek's dead mother, and that's really rather weird. So Derek doesn't think about it much.
Being the way she was got her killed, in the end. Derek tried his best with Scott, he did, but the kid doesn't know what he's doing. Derek doesn't know what he's doing, either, but he's trying, at least, at least he's trying a little.
Not really. Derek's not tried much at all since Gerard died. Or whatever happened to the old man.
"So..." Scott walks over, stands at a distance but still, he moves nearer. "Isaac said you smelled the two of them on Stiles, right?" Scott asked. Rhetorical, Derek thinks - or hopes, really. He doesn't answer, regardless. "Right," Scott mutters, nods, and continues - "Where do you think he might have come across them for long enough that, y'know..." Scott shrugged. "You could smell them on him?"
"A few hours," Derek says, tone still flat. "Why?"
"I could smell someone else," Scott said. He looked a little angry, which was something of a surprise because Derek's never really seen him truly angry. "I just - wanted confirmation."
"What are you talking about?" Derek asks.
"Stiles was gone for a few hours," Scott said. "He disappeared after the game. When I saw him next, I could smell something familiar, something not good, but everything went down so quickly." Scott sighed, and now he just looked disappointed.
In who, Derek doesn't know. Himself, maybe.
"Stiles said he got attacked by some guys on the other team," Scott says. "I think he lied."
"You think he lied?" Derek asks.
Scott smiles, wry. "Stiles is a lot better at it than people give him credit for," Scott says. "He made sure to tell me during the whole mess, so his heartbeat was raised regardless. And he's got ADHD and Anxiety, and -" Scott shrugged, helpless. "His heartbeat isn't exactly a good lie detection thing on a normal day," Scott finished.
"Why are you telling me this?" Derek asks. "Because," Scott answers, "You've been a werewolf a lot longer than I have. I wanted to know if there were better methods than listening to someone's heartbeat to tell if they're lying to you."
"Why?" Derek asks.
"Because I want to help," Scott says, and it always comes to that, doesn't it? Scott's a good person at heart, so far as Derek can tell. But he's a teenager, too, and they don't always think things through.
Derek definitely didn't.
"I don't know of any," Derek says. "But you can always try and read a person's mood from their chemo signals. Generally, if people are lying, they smell guilty, or anxious."
Scott laughs, lightly, humorless, and Derek pauses because that's not the kind of laugh he'd've ever thought Scott would produce.
"That's not gonna help," Scott says. "He smells like that all the time."
Derek blinks, once, at Scott, who shrugs. "It's the first thing I recognized," Scott says. "Because when someone I cared about lied to me, they smelled like Stiles."
Well, that's just sad. Derek sighs and rubs at his forehead. "In what way?" Derek asks. "Bitter," Scott says. "I dunno. Guilt smells bitter. Anxiety smells like - lemons, I guess. Sour."
Derek nods. "Alright," He says. "I can't really help you any, then."
Scott nods. He looks like that was what he expected. That actually hurts, a little, and since when did Derek care what random teenagers thought him capable of?
"You might as well, go, Scott," Derek says. He can hear Peter's car pull up, and he doesn't want them in the same room. Not yet.
Scott nods, and he leaves. Peter comes up a few minutes later, and Derek can see Scott bike his way down the road.
"He smelt upset," Peter comments, as he enters. "What did you say to the boy, Derek?"
Peter tenses when he smells Lydia's distinctive perfume alongside Stiles' general scent and forces himself to relax before he opens the door. This is the girl he used to bring himself back to life - her most likely reaction isn't going to be pleasant, for him, Peter knows.
Peter opens the door, to the two teens standing outside it. Stiles pushes past, into the apartment proper, and Lydia stares Peter down.
Peter does the same in return, but he's the first to give because Peter needs to at least seem contrite. He is, really, minutely. Perhaps that helps, perhaps it doesn't. The girl will never know, regardless.
"You." She says.
"Me," Peter sighs.
Lydia purses her lips. Peter stands to one side, and she wanders into his place. "This almost doesn't look like a serial killer lives here," She says, easily. "Surprising."
Lydia turns to him and glowers. "I'm a banshee," She says, and Peter had known she was something, how could she not be - and, really, banshee makes the most sense. Considering that she'd been able to bring him back to life in one piece (the piece he'd been before he died, at least, if not the whole he'd been before the fire) the girl had to have some form of connection to death.
"Indeed," Peter says. "And you wish me to tell you about them?"
"All the bestiary says is how to kill and what the creature seeks," Lydia says. "I need more than that. What we can do. What I can do. And since you're the reason for all this mess, you might as well try and help me fix it."
"The price for coming back to life," Peter says, "Is something I am willing to pay. What do you require?"
"Books," Lydia says. "Resources."
"Then check the shelves," Peter gestures, indicating the bookshelves all around the room. "There will be something, undoubtedly."
Lydia nods, short, and moves over to the nearest one. She scours the spines, flips through a few, and settles into finding something.
"Peter," Stiles says, and he's looking through that book Peter had told him not to look through again. That was the whole point of telling him not to do that, of course, so really, Stiles was just doing what Peter had wanted in the first place.
"Yes?" Peter asks, amused.
"So, a spark," Stiles says, "I guess that's what I have."
"Am," Peter corrects. "That is what you are, yes."
Stiles nods, slowly, turns a page. "Alright then," And the boy falls silent.
Peter smirks, mentally, and moves into his kitchen, leaves them to it. This is all more than he'd expected, if truthful - but it most definitely works in his favor. His plans will be much easier if he can keep an eye on the weaker links.
And besides - the Alpha pack are less likely to look for two humans here than at their homes, and Peter rather needs them not dead.
It's the end of July. August is near, and so is their return to High School - as juniors, now, but still, it's not exactly something Stiles is looking forward to. Summer's almost over - Stiles knows some things he didn't know before, of course, but he doesn't know much more. These few months seemed like more at the beginning of summer, but now he's out of time.
He's got an email from Lydia sending him some things she'd found about banshees and sparks, and he sends her some things he'd found about magic non-sparks and non-druids can do, and she returns with thanks and a message that Allison's back, and that Scott's looking for him.
Stiles has been, to put it lightly, avoiding ever so slightly. He has no plans to talk about what Scott wants to talk about, at all, and also Allison sent Stiles an email which he promptly permanently deleted, that Scott really does not need to know about.
Gerard's dead. Scott doesn't know. I need to be the one to tell him because he needs to know, but... I need to be the one to tell him.
please, just keep this secret for now,
(I figured you needed to know. After what he did.)
Stiles rubbed at the back of his head and sighed. Maybe Scott would be pacified with a call, but Stiles is going to need to talk to him during school and quite frankly, he's his best friend. Stiles doesn't really want to not be talking to him.
So, when Stiles hears Scott open his window, Stiles doesn't act like he needs to be somewhere else.
"Hey, dude," Stiles says, and Scott smiles, slightly, but he's got that serious-face, and Stiles sighs.
"Not a friendly chat and Xbox session today, then?" Stiles asks, and Scott shrugs then sits on Stiles' bed. "Sorry, dude," Scott says. "But..."
"No, I get it," Stiles said. "What's up, man?"
Scott shrugs. "So, uh." He starts. "You lied to me."
"I've lied to a lot of people about a lot of things," Stiles says, dryly, doesn't deny it. "Maybe be a bit more specific?"
Scott looks at him, flatly. "You weren't attacked by any of the people from the other team, Stiles. I'm a werewolf, I can smell these things," He says, lightly, and Stiles shrugs. "Sue me," Stiles says, then adds, tone light, humored, "Didn't want to explain that I got beat up by a geriatric."
Scott nods, like that was what he'd expected, and Stiles sighs, spins on his desk chair. "Seriously, dude, that's old news," Stiles says, "We don't need to linger, okay?"
"Gerard hurt you," Scott says, and Stiles grimaces, flails a hand in annoyance. "Mildly," Stiles says. "He hurt Boyd and Erica more."
"Maybe," Scott says. "I don't know, but Stiles, they can heal. Your face..." He said, shrugging, helpless, and Stiles rolls his eyes, all bravado. "Yeah, my face," He agrees, "Not the best on a good day, but damn." He sighs, dramatic. "Bruises really don't help."
Scott looks at him, flatly, but Stiles is spinning on his chair so he doesn't really see it properly, which is good, because it would - as it tends to do - make him feel worse than he already does about everything.
"Look, Scotty," Stiles says, "There's no need to worry, alright? I'm fine, dude, and I've been fine the whole summer. Good, even, which is nice."
Scott looks at him, assessing, but Stiles spins his chair deliberately too fast for Scott to get a good look at his face.
But he's a werewolf, and Scott doesn't need a good look at his face any longer. Which is why Stiles is debating buying the most god-awful cologne in history just to dissuade anyone from trying the whole scenting thing.
Except that would dissuade anyone from coming near him at all, so maybe not.
Scott shrugs, again, half-hearted. "Alright," He says. "If you say so. But - if you need to, dude, you know I'm here to talk to."
"I know," Stiles lets himself say, "Dude, duh. I am too, for you. But like, nothing's the matter right now, and that's all water under the bridge, so like, we're good, and that's that." Stiles shrugged.
"Now you're talking in metaphors," Scott grins, and Stiles snorts. "Let's get out of cliche-land while we have the chance and play some Halo, please," Stiles says, stands, and Scott nods, smiling.
Stiles returns the smile, nods, and they go downstairs. Whoo. Crisis averted. Tomorrow, Stiles is picking up his prescribed medication, tomorrow, Stiles is going to make sure he's done all that he needs to have done, and tomorrow, he's going to worry about going back to high school as a junior and what supernatural shit might decide to go down to make their lives miserable, again, but for now - Stiles can relax, and that's nice. It's a nice thing.
It's not going to last, he knows, but nice things never do.
last chapter. Next story in the series soon, after a few chapters in other series.