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Alpha, Mage, Pack

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He hated time. Even though he lost track of it, he hated it. He suspected he was here for hours. Yet it felt like days. Every single second seemed to tick by unbelievably slowly. The only thing that he could use to count time was the number of seconds it took for each drop of blood to fall from his face towards the concrete floor below. So yeah, he didn't just hate time, but at this moment he despised it.

His head was slumped downward making it more painful since his head felt like it was splitting open. His arms above his head, bound by a set of handcuffs and chains locked to a large pipe above running on the ground floor. He tried not to move his hands much, but the numbness was causing his fingers to twitch automatically, making the muscles in his hands move with them. Each little movements caused his already sore, raw, bloody wrists to rub against the metal of the cuffs even more. Just one more bit of torture inflicted on his shirtless body from the bastards before him. 

He was sure hours had passed since he had been taken, yet it didn't seem to deter the hunters that took him. Gerard being the center of his agony before the old man decided to let his buddies have a go on a few things. Gerard wanted answers on the pack. He wanted to know about Scott, about Derek and Peter, about why Derek could be such 'a monster' for turning a couple of teenagers. With each question that Stiles didn't answer or answered with his usual sarcastic wit, he would get a new taste of pain. Stiles has never endured so much pain in his life. Not ever. He could deal with the punches and kicks to his body...at first. Each punch or kick would come after he gave a smart comment, but eventually that melted away to becoming more aggressive and longer. It got to the point where Gerard thought his hands and feet were not enough. Even after he let his buddies give him a few knocks, each one laughing and smirking at him as the dealt out blows to him.

Erica and Boyd, who were here when he was brought down here, were screaming and snarling from behind there gags. Each one of them had the evidence of being tortured like him. Cuts and burns were on there skin, temporarily slowed from healing by the wolfsbane that was pumped into them. Both of them in the same position as him near the opposite wall, tied up with chains and electrical wire, their hands above their heads. Despite the cutting, burning, electrocution, and the physical assault from the hunters on them, they still seemed in better shape than Stiles. Even though he could not see his entire body, they at least seemed to stay mostly on their feet. 

When they started his interrogation, Stiles thought he was going to have to watch them be tortured, but it wasn't. Gerard said that as betas, they were instinctively ingrained in them to be fiercely loyal to their Alpha, they would never betray him. Instead he became the entertainment for the hunters. Erica and Boyd forced to endure the sight before them. With each question Stiles refused to answer, the hunters would retaliate, and the two werewolves were powerless to help their human friend. Yet Stiles still would not say anything. He refused to give any information on the pack. When the hunters attempted to 'play' with the werewolves, he would bring their attention back by using a few choice insults or words that would cause them want to take a turn for themselves. Gerard allowed it without a single thought, keeping a smirk in place the whole time.

His excuse was to teach Stiles a lesson, a hard, painful lesson. 

That was when the cuts started. Not from Gerard, but from Grant, his right hand man. Grant took special care in choosing where he wanted to cut, and what knife he wanted to use next. The man had fascination with watching each cut he made, with a giddy satisfied expression, almost of pleasure that it made Stiles' stomach flip and his skin crawl. He took his time making some cuts, others he went quick, just took get a different reaction from Stiles. Grant would smile and coo at him, encouraging him to scream for him and tell him how it felt. Stiles tried, he tried so hard to not scream or cry out in pain from the cold, biting pain from the cuts, but some of them his could not help. The worst cuts so far was the single one on his chest, running diagonal from tip of his right collarbone down off side towards his nipple. The other two were crisscrossed over his left shoulder blade. Those hurt the most, partly because he was already skinny, but also because his arms were above his head so it felt like the knife was cutting deeper into his already tense muscles. 

At some point Gerard said that Grant could stop with the cuts, but then the old man came forward with a large taser gun. Stiles has seen those before, but was afraid to ask how many volts goes into each push of the button. He found out when Gerard asked him what his dad would think of him protecting monsters. That caused Stiles to get angry and spat in the man's face. His body convulsed and tensed and clenched in on itself with each jolt of electricity going through him. He hoped that his teeth would not crack with how tight his was clenching his mouth closed. When he screamed at the top of his lungs from the last, longest jolts going through him, Gerard stopped, letting him slumped towards the floor, the cuffs cutting into his wrists even more. He could feel the skin on his side prickling and burning from the gun, no doubt blistering in some spots, but agonizing just the same. He could barely breathe, his breaths coming in small heaves. 

"I will ask you, one last time," Gerard said, moving away with the gun to throw it on the wooden table that he had weapons and instruments sitting on. "What is the pack planning?"

Stiles didn't say anything. He could barely speak through his busted lip and too fast breaths coming and going. Stiles looked up from behind his lashes, panting with each struggled breath. He gazed at the room from the hunters to the two werewolves on the other side of the basement. They were sweaty, dirty, and bloody. Erica had tears rolling down her face as she watched him. Her breathing ragged and forceful as she struggled to break the chains and wire on her arms and feet. Boyd was no different. He currently had no tears, but his eyes were going back and forth from glowing yellow to dark brown, his features were enraged, his growls and snarls ripping from his chest, but muffled from the thick gag in his mouth. He too was trying to break free, but with no more success that Erica. Both of them, watching Stiles, meeting his eyes as he looked at them. He couldn't let them get more hurt. Yet he also couldn't let Gerard and his goons know anything about the pack. 

He already figures that they know plenty about the pack. Gerard was a smart man, he had his hunters everywhere, watching the pack as they moved about. Ever since the Kanima came about, the hunters were everywhere. That was one thing, Stiles was worried about. Jackson, of all people, was dead, or at least so it would seem. No doubt the pack was trying to deal with that, but they also would be trying to find him, not to mention Derek's two missing betas. The beta's have been here longer than he has, which Stiles had found odd. Wasn't Derek looking for them? Did Derek know they were here? Regardless, he believed the others would find him. They had too.

"Go fuck yourselves," Stiles said, glad that his voice sounded steady.

Grant chose that moment to stroll forward, carrying a sizable, shiny knife, before reaching to pull his head back, his hand gripping his neck harshly then pressing the knife to his left oblique, pressing down and slicing his skin horizontally. He went slow, causing Stiles to grit his teeth, muffling his whimpers, the sounds of Erica and Boyd crying out in the background. When Grant twitched his wrist, the blade pressed even deeper, the blood welling out from the wound as the blade left the exposed cut, the sheer icy pain causing Stiles to cry out then, no longer able to hold it back as the blade went from his side to the middle of his stomach. 

"Enough," Gerard called out, startling the room. The blade left Stiles' skin quickly as if it had never been there. Scarlet blood running out in individual tracks down his lower abs, into the waistband of his lacrosse shorts.

"Boss," Grant said in question.

"Not here," Gerard said, looking towards to the door as if he heard someone standing on the other side. "He's not going to break, most likely because he doesn't know anything I do not already know." Gerard stepped forward, looking at Stiles with a mixture of calculation and annoyance. "Anyway, I have someplace else to be. Take him to the woods and get rid of him. Just make sure his friends are able to find him."

"What," Grant said, for the first time sounding like a stubborn child not getting a cookie. "You said I was able to have some fun with him."

Gerard rolled his eyes, waving a hand in dismissal. "Do what you want. I don't care, just get it done and leave his body for his precious pack to find." 

"What about them," one of the other hunters asked, motioning to the struggling betas.

"They will stay here for now," Gerard said matter-of-factly. "They will meet their fate later." The hunters nodded in acknowledgement as Gerard walked up the steps towards the door, not giving Stiles or the betas a last look before he left. Erica and Boyd were growling and screaming out as the hunters made to leave and Grant stepped closer to Stiles.

Stiles’ legs collapsed from under him when Grant unlocked the chains from the pipe and let him drop from there. The cuffs were still on his wrist, but he was no longer bound to the ground floor above. He cried out in pain as the movement aggravated his injuries, his bare knees colliding hard with the concrete floor, his skin meeting the blood that has slowly gathered over the hours of his torture, smearing it on the floor and on his legs. He didn’t know how to get out of this, how to save Erica and Boyd, how to save himself. His wrists were bleeding more freely now that the cuffs were not forced so flush with his wrists. He tried to move the cuffs a little away from the exposed, bloodied skin, worried that with all the blood he has lost he might bleed out before they made it to the woods. Although that may be the better option of the two. His back throbbed with every movement, his ribs were agony with every breath he took, sure that at least a two of them were broken, although he hoped just severely bruised. He was in pain and he was terrified, his brain was starting to get fuzzy that he couldn't see any way out of this. He knew that this was not over, there was much more to come before they were going to let him die.

Grant wrapped a hand around his still bleeding wrists and then hefted him up where he half carried, half dragged him out of the basement. Stiles was barely able to get one last glimpse of Erica and Boyd, both struggling in fear, anger, and pain against their chains and the electrical wire around them. The last look Stiles could see from them was the sheer terror in their eyes along with the desperation to break free and their muffled cries before the door slammed closed behind them. He prayed that they would be okay, he prayed that Derek would find them, even if Stiles' fate was already decided. 

The hunters took him out of the house to a black sedan outside before heading off in the direction of the preserve. Stiles couldn't tell where exactly they were going, but he didn't have long to wait when the car stopped and he was being pulled from out into the dark woods. Apparently they new of a path that had led from the road into the woods-maybe an old running and motor bike path-but either way not going to be of use to him tonight. There was no one out there with them. Stiles was alone, with a group of hunters, armed with weapons and predatory expressions. He tried to think of a way out this, anything he could do to escape, any way he could fight his way out of this.

That didn’t happen. He got nothing.

Instead they forced him to starting walking while they followed, continuing deeper into the preserve. The ground was littered with sharp twigs and sticks that cut into Stiles’ exposed legs as he stumbled forwards whenever Grant would push him to keep going. He was freezing and he was sure it was because of shock, it wasn’t exactly a cold night, but wandering around the preserve with multiple injuries, blood flowing from cuts on his body to cool in the night air and wearing no shirt was sure to be sending him into some kind of shock. Stiles wondered vaguely how long it would take him to die of exposure if he just ran now, the idea of dying by freezing to death or by his own injuries if not treated seemed like far better ideas than what the hunter's were probably going to do. The chances of him getting very far were pretty slim anyway, Grant or anyone of the others would probably shoot him before he got more than a few meters. But, if he was honest with himself, he wasn’t going to run, and not because he couldn’t, not because he was scared to die, but because the others would come for him. He just had to give them more time. He had to keep going for them. It was all he had right now.

They were his pack and they would protect him, they would make sure he was okay. Just as he had protected Scott, Derek, and others earlier by refusing to give Gerard any of the information he wanted, no matter what the cost had been to Stiles, what the cost could still be. He knew the others would do the same, they would be strong. So he had to be too. 

“Alright, that’s far enough.” Grant spoke into the silence of the preserve. The night sounds around them seeming too calm for what Stiles remembered the last time he was out here at night. His breathing immediately started to get heavier and his already cold skin, turned icy in anticipation. His heart hammered in his chest that he thought everyone could hear it. Stiles turned slowly to face Grant and the others. The man was tall, slicked back blonde hair and bright, wild blue eyes, where something in said eyes spoke of the madness and the way he looked at Stiles with a predatory assessment, made a violent shiver run through his body that he tried to stifle.

“Now what to do with you now.” Grant had spoke to himself. He was still looking Stiles up and down, a smirk playing on his lips. What Grant said after was something that made Stiles' blood run cold. "Take off your shorts, boy," Grant commanded and Stiles looked at him in shock.

He knew that this was coming with the way that Grant had been touching him all night, the way he spoke to him, almost with a sultry, raspy tone when he asked Stiles to scream louder and if him getting cut to ribbons was feeling good. It left very little room for doubt in Stiles’ mind about what Grant really wanted, but still, the very idea of it made Stiles stand frozen, his body unresponsive and his brain running a mile a minute over the very words the man had spoken.

“I am not going to ask again kid, take them off now.” Grant repeated and Stiles could do nothing other than stare. He stared at Grant, at the other hunters, the silent shock in his face. Each one looked at him with a cold indifference or a look of pure dangerous madness. 

Grant didn't give him a chance to say or do anything after a final moment of silence, seeming to have had enough of the delay because he took a step forward and went to grab hold of Stiles’ arm. Stiles managed to flail backwards and out of his reach, swiping at Grant's hand as he did. He tripped over a couple of rocks on the ground, falling backwards on his back, the twigs and pebbles and dirt digging into his many cuts, bruises, and burned skin causing him to cry out in pain. He rolled over quickly to alleviate the pain, but his front was no better than his back.

He was powerless and in pain, he heard the laughter of the hunters behind him and gritted his teeth, knowing that they could see it too, and they didn't care. He tried to crawl his way forward, hoping to gain some ground or at least something to pull himself on his feet with. He didn't get much of an opportunity when he felt Grant’s weight settle on his calves preventing him from kicking out, pinning him in place. He tried to move him off with his body, pulling at the ground with his cuffed hands, but it seemed to encourage Grant even more. He felt Grant's laughter vibrate from his legs up his body, his legs heating his own as he sat on him and put his hands on his hurt as the man leaned down, pushing him further into the ground.

“Come on boy, just relax and this will be fun.” Grant whispered into his ear. That caused Stile to fight harder. He pulled his head forward and shot it back as hard as he could. He heard a cracking sound before feeling the pain in his head from the collision. No doubt going to give him a bigger concussion than he probably already had.

"Fuck!" Grant cursed above him. A hand had left Stiles' back, allowing Stiles a slight chance to wiggle out of Grant's hold. He was forced back to the ground quickly, his head buried into the dirt underneath, as Grant leaned over him again, pressing his hold body against his back. "You little shit," he spat in his ear. "You broke my nose, now I am going to break you." His fingers brushed underneath the waistband of Stiles’ shorts and boxers.

Stiles thought he might genuinely throw up and his body suddenly go frozen as his both bits of clothing were pulled down slightly and he felt the night air on his exposed skin along with cold hands on his ass. He was terrified, completely and utterly in horror, there was no other way to say it. His body shook with the pure terror that was running rampant throughout, yet it seemed to cause Grant more happiness as the man moved to widen Stiles' legs apart with his feet as he sat on them. 

He could feel the tendrils of a panic attack at the edges of his mind. His vision was getting spotty. He didn't know what he could do. His was out in the middle of the preserve, with armed men, no one else in sight. He couldn't help himself. He was in pain, his body screaming at him, his hands still bound. He couldn't believe this was happening. He couldn't do this-no he couldn't survive this! Where was his pack? He wanted to call out to Scott, he wanted to scream for Derek, but what would it do. Where were they? The panic was starting to rip through his system now, gaining a better foot hold in him. The faces of those he cared about rushing through his mind as they would learn about his damaged, dead body in the woods.

“Anyone got any lube?” Grant called out, laughing loudly and Stiles tensed up even more. The other hunters laughed and spouted their amusement as they all said no.

“It's alright. Spit and the blood running down your back will have to do," Grant said, petting Stiles' head, trailing his fingers down his back and over his bum. Grant held Stiles' tightly by the hips, his body shifting just slightly before he started to undo his pants. The sound of a belt being up buckled and the popping of a button echoing in Stiles' ears. Stiles tried to wiggle some more. But his body was not working. It wasn't responding to him. The panic attack gaining more and more ground over him as his breathing became more raspy, his vision clouding. The cold tendrils of fear spiking up his spine and back down again in harsh paths. This couldn't happen, he couldn't allow this to happen. His friends would save him. They had to save him.

"They will kill you," he found himself saying. His voice gravelly.

Grant pressed closer to him so he could hear him. "What did you say," he asked in what Stiles' assumed the man thought was a playful tone, but was more growly.

"My pack will kill you." Stiles said, turning his head to the side to look at Grant from his peripherals. "They will tear you apart, tear you all apart and leave your insides to burn by the sun."

Grant laughed at that. Loud and open in the silent night, echoing off the trees and seeming to make the preserve even more quiet. "You have fire boy, I'll give you that," he said, turning back to Stiles. "But no one is coming for you. No one even knows you are here and if they did it would not matter. As we speak, Gerard is on the verge of killing them all. He's got a plan to get rid of your pathetic misfits."

"No," Stiles said, barely shaking his head. "They are coming for me. You will be dead by morning."

Grant leaned in to whisper to him, "Then where are they." The whisper sent a chill down throughout his body that he couldn't shake. His breathing became more labored and his mind was screaming at him, mixing with the agony that was his body. "Face it boy," Grant said, a smile in voice. "You are alone. You pack is not coming for you and they will all be bloody and dead. No one is coming to help the poor defenseless human of a poor defenseless pack."

Stiles gritted his teeth. No, it couldn't be possible. His pack was not in danger. He believed they would be alright. Yet the steady certainty and the easy way Grant spoke of it made his body convulse in fear. His mind raced, his pack needed help. He had to help them. He did not know Gerard's plan, but he didn't care. He couldn't let them get hurt, they didn't know what was coming. He had to help Scott, Derek and Isaac. He had to get out this. He had to get out of this to save them, and then help save Erica and Boyd. He couldn't leave them. Yet he didn't know what to do. He was desperate. The terror rolled off of him in waves, and his body was coating in a cold sweat. He couldn’t let this happen, he couldn't let his pack get hurt. He tried to wriggle out of Grant’s grip, tried to do anything, but it was no use, there was nothing he could do. He screamed internally, screaming for someone to help him, to protect his pack, to please save him so he could help them. 

He prayed along with it. He was never much of a religious person, but he didn't care at this point. He would pray to anyone who would hear his cries. His mind screamed out, screaming to stop this, to stop all of it. He had to help his friends, he would not let them die! 

He didn't notice that he was screaming out loud now. His voice reverberating through out the surrounding woods. It caught the hunter's off guard, but Grant seemed to welcome it. Laughing along with his screams, telling him to keep going. Stiles didn't hear him, his screams ripping through him as the faces of his friends, his father, everyone he cared for ran through his mind over and over again. The plea for help from something, anything screaming in his mind along with the screams from his throat. Stiles felt a little bit nauseous, his body suddenly feeling hot, the sweat on his skin cold under his burning skin. He felt like something was pulling at his chest, his heart beating so fast he felt it through out his whole body.

He felt Grant, grips his hips again, moving closer to him, his intent clear. The faces of those he cared about in his mind, twisting and turning from his fear into pale, lifeless faces. No! He screamed in his mind, they have to be saved, he had to protect them, he had to do something, anything. "Help me! " He screamed out in his mind and out loud into the night. Help me save them!

He felt something building inside him, he wasn’t sure what it was but there was something inside him. It was warm and sturdy and grounding in his chest that seemed to wrap around his heart and spread throughout his body, something that felt safe. The panic attack was still there, but not getting worse, his vision sparkling with black and white dots. Please help, he begged to it, please help me save them.

The feeling of warmth spread and shot throughout his body again, this time so fast it felt like a jolt and he was squeezing his eyes shut and fighting back another scream, his teeth gritted together and his whole body arched up as the warmth seemed to burn in his around his skin now. Grant's weight leaving him suddenly, the feeling of air whooshing around him, yet barely touching him. He felt the twigs and dirt fall over his legs and back. The warmth seeming to burn on his skin, and it became so much that he curled in on himself, hoping to stifle it. The weight in his chest seeming to settle further, expanding outward until it in his gut too. Then suddenly it was leaving just as quickly, rushing out of him as fast as it had come. It felt like a hot, grounding stream of fire shooting from his chest out through his arms, bringing the warmth from all over his body. It felt like something was being pulled from him, pulled out from his hands, which he kept locked around his legs, his arms hugging himself tightly, his hands outward to keep the cuffs from cutting deeper.

Behind his closed lids, light erupted. It was a yellow light that was for sure, but where was it coming from? What was it? It was brighter than a flash light. Was it the others coming for him? Stiles cracked open his eyes and saw fire before him. Fire surrounding him in a circle, rising up high enough to be at least up to his waist. 

"What the Hell," Grant spat.

"Put out the fire," one of the hunters yelled.

"It's too hot," called another, the fire crackling and muffling the voices at little. Stiles could hear them faintly, but mostly the fire was in his ears, being deafening as it seemed to roar around him. He didn't have time to think about it, he pushed himself up to slightly, his legs tucked in front of him. His eyes found Grant's who seemed to look at him with such intense hatred and animistic desire that it made him shiver.

"Shoot him," Grant yelled pulling out a pistol from behind him, taking aim at Stiles behind the flames.

Stiles shut his eyes, waiting for the bang, following by the inevitable sharp pain of bullets ripping through his body. No, he thought. It can't end like this. Stop! He couldn't look. He didn't want to see his death coming. He prayed the flames would make it hard for him to be seen. He wanted the fire to stop the bullets. He wanted them to burn up. Or better, he wanted the fire to engulf the hunters. He wanted to stop them, stop them from hurting him, hurting anyone. He closed his eyes tight, praying for this nightmare to stop. No more hunters, no more hurt. He wanted them gone. 

He suddenly heard screaming. He couldn't really tell what it was saying or who it was, but he didn't care. The fire seemed to crackle and roar louder in his ears, the light becoming brighter even though his eyelids were closed. He caught briefs moments of anguishing cries, agonized pleas, and sounds of unfiltered pain being ripped from the throats of people nearby. They all sounded like men, but he couldn't be sure. He opened his eyes just a little to see the hunters, each one running around, caught ablaze with yellow-orange flames. It seemed to be licking at their clothes and skin, getting bigger with each piece of new flesh underneath. Stiles watched with wide eyes as their screams surrounded him along with the fire. He wanted to turn his head away, to not see this happen, to have it stop, yet he couldn't. His eyes were fixed, unable to turn from the sight before him. The warm feeling was still leaving his body, draining him of his energy as it did. He head grew heavy and his body was pulsing with the wounds he suffered, almost matching his fast beating heart.

He watched as the fire blackened the land around him and the hunters, only touching where they stepped and touched, burning just for a few seconds, before they seemed to put themselves out. Yet the hunters never seemed to get out of it. One by one, they all fell to ground, the smell of burning flesh and singed hair reaching his nose, making the impulse to vomit rise up in him. The last to fall was Grant, his eyes wide and hellish behind the flames. His roar of pain echoed loud and clear in Stiles' ears, as Stiles watched fire eat and burn away his skin, turning him to a blackened corpse on his feet before he fell to the ground. He would be lying if he said he did not get a small sense of satisfaction at seeing the burned body of Grant behind the flames, but he closed his eyes anyway. He didn't know what had happened, but his mind was not allowing him to think on it. 

He felt dizzy and about ready to pass out. He sweaty and his body was pleading for him to get help. As quickly as it had come, the fire was burning out. When he opened his eyes, he saw the flames dying down, even on the now dead bodies of the hunters. Blackened dirt and ash was all left behind on the ground where the fire was, Stiles sitting in a circle, a circle burned into the ground, with untouched grassed and twigs on the inside where he sat.

It looked like the fire went out in a arch, heading from the circle around Stiles, spreading outward, engulfing the hunters and some foliage and small trees nearby. Very slowly, Stiles pulled himself to a more sitting position before crawling towards the closest tree. He was exhausted, he needed to rest, he needed to sleep and to heal. He shook those thoughts from his head, knowing he couldn't have any of that, not yet. He needed to get to the others, he had to go help them, before they walked into a trap or something. The warmth that was in his chest was still there, still grounding him, which he welcome, not understanding how how he was doing so, but he didn't care. Maybe he was crazy from all that has happened, but he had other things to worry about. Somehow he found the strength to pull himself up on a small oak tree, stumbling as he did. He had to get going, because he had nothing, he was in the middle of the woods in his shorts, which he pulled back up. He had no weapons and he was not about to go rummaging on the dead, crispy bodies for anything salvageable. He had to hurry. 

 

 

 

He stumbled away from the burn area, not looking at the burnt hunters as he did. He went back the direction they came, since it was a straight shot. It was all he could do in hopes of finding the road. His injuries throbbed with every movement and his head pounded as his feet hit the ground with each step. Stiles tried not to sob in pain, his eyes watering, as he made his way back towards the black SUV. Cautiously he eased himself inside, before pulling away heading towards his house. 

He parked the car on the side of the road, about four houses down from his around the corner. He was stopped by his dad's car in the driveway. He thought his dad was still at work, but obviously the universe hated him to not allow him any sort of good luck. Slowly Stiles moved towards the door of the house, finding it unlocked, and letting himself in. He was met with nothing. He inched further into the house, waiting for his dad to come around the corner but found him on his recliner chair, asleep. Stiles breathed a quick sigh of relief, feeling on the verge of tears at the sight. He almost thought he would never see his father again, wanting immediately to go over and drop to his knees and hug him. However, not in his current condition. His was dirty and bloody and his dad would freak if he saw him like that. Moving as quick as his battered body would allow he climbed upstairs and made his way to the bathroom, first pulling out some painkillers and downing more than he probably should have before gently taking a damp wash cloth to wipe away the blood from his body as best he could. He couldn't do anything about the bruises or most of the cuts. So he took large band aids to put on the ones on his front to hopefully stop the bleeding. Of course it did little for the large cut on his gut. Some of the wounds started bleeding again when he tried to clean them. Giving up and gritting his teeth at the ache all over his body, he left his bathroom to get some clothes. He just pulled on a shirt and his favorite red jacket before heading back downstairs.

He was caught red handed when his dad, stood around the corner in the living room, having heard his son upstairs. One look from his dad and it almost sent him over the edge. He had to swallow back tears as he watched his old man's face go from annoyed worry to full blown concern. His dad made to come towards him, pulling his son into his arms. Stiles didn't relax though. The pain was worse with the pressure his dad applied. Pulling back, his dad assessed his face, eyes hovering over each bruise and scrape.

"What happened?" He asked, evident that he was holding back his full blown worry. "Stiles what happened?"

Stiles shook his dad's hands away. "It's nothing. I'm fine."

He made to move, but Sheriff Stilinski wouldn't let him. "That is not nothing. What happened? Who did this to you?"

"Dad, I'm fine. It was just some members from the other team. They decided to punch me a few times after I bad mouthed their team after they lost," he lied. He lied straight through his teeth. what made it worse was that it came easily like he had been working on it for hours. Maybe he had, since he knew he couldn't tell his dad without telling him everything else.

Noah shook his head. "Stile's this is not a few punches. Who are these boys? What are their names?"

Stiles moved out his dad's grasp. "Dad let it go. It's my fault."

"How is this your fault," Noah asked, anger starting to creep in his voice.

"Because it's me." Stiles said easily, trying to give a small smile, and hoping he succeeded. By the look his dad gave him, he failed.

"Tell me the truth," his dad said, his voice sounding more serious, more like the sheriff.

Stiles shook his head. "Dad it's nothing. Leave it alone. It's better if you do." Noah looked like he was about to say something else, but Stiles went on. He had to hurry and he had to get out there. "I got to go. I'm meeting Scott for something important. I got to go."

Stiles rushed out, pushing his already hurt body, so he could get out the door. His dad was calling for him, telling him to get back inside. Stiles knew he couldn't. If he went back now, he was afraid of letting everything slip. He knew that his dad would find out eventually about his injuries, or at least some of them, but he was hoping it wasn't till tomorrow at the very least. He wanted to go back and tell his dad everything, just to get the reassurance that everything would be okay. He owed his dad answers, he knows that. Their relationship has become more strained over the past few months, mostly because of Stiles. How could he tell his dad what he knew? How could he tell him the horrors he has seen? He wanted to feel his dad's arms around him, protecting him, like they did was he was a small child. Obviously that wasn't going to happen anymore.

He headed to his jeep quickly. Climbing in and shutting the door, so he could pull out before he dad followed. Scott had surprised him to take them to the game, so Stiles forgot his phone while he backed out. He had to warn Scott, he had to tell him what happened. The screen lit up to show twenty five missed texts and ten missed call, only 5 with voicemails. Most were from his dad, some from Scott. He didn't know what had happened while he spent some bonding time with Gerard, but he did know that Gerard was Jackson's master. He also knew that the old man had ordered Jackson to kill himself so that he could evolve into an Alpha kanima. He didn’t know really what that meant, but he didn't want to find out and he had no idea if the others knew either.

As he was about to call Scott, it vibrated in his hand to show an incoming text from his best friend. Stiles was expecting it to ask where he was or what happened to him or if he was okay, but that was not what he read. 

Scott: Jackson is not dead. He is turning into some kind of Alpha kanima. Come to the old warehouse off of Third and Elm. Bring Lydia. She can help save Jackson. Hurry up!

 

 Stiles was taken aback, but he also felt a sinking feeling in his gut. He stared at his phone for a few moments, almost forgetting that he was driving before he swerved back into his lane. Scott didn't look for him. Did he not know he was missing for hours? Where was he after the game? Where did he think Stiles was? His best friend, his brother, didn't look for him.

Stiles was feeling his eyes water and a panic attack coming, but he pushed it down. He had too. He still felt that warm rock in his chest from earlier, although he suspected that it was residual pain from the beating or his supposed broken ribs. Either way he focused on that, hoping to have it ground him. He needed to focus. He turned his car towards Lydia's hoping to anyone who would listen that she was at her house. He had no idea where she was, but his best bet was to try there. He found that she was in fact at her house, but not inside. Instead as he trudged up to the house, he found her in her car in the driveway, crying and looking totally unlike the Lydia he knew. He was surprised how easy it was, but he didn't care, there was no time. Lydia barely saw him coming and was almost startled when she saw his form coming towards her. She quickly wiped her cheeks before getting out of her car, regarding him with what indifferent look, although it lacked the power it used to.

It was gone when she saw his face, taking in the red welts on his cheeks, the bruises, and the split lip, broken nose, and eyebrow.

“What happened to you?” She asked coming up to him with a look of surprise and strangely concern. He shrugged in response, offering that as the only explanation. He didn't want to tell her, he didn't think she would believe him, probably think he was crazy. However, he needed her to believe in crazy. The irony.

“Come on,” Stiles said, motioning to his jeep, “We need to go now.”

“Go where?” Lydia asked eyeing him and then his jeep uncertainly.

“There might be a way for you to save Jackson. We need to go now," Stiles said. When Lydia just stood there looking like she was really contemplating on if he was crazy or not, Stiles stopped short, turning back to her. "Look I'll explain everything on the way, but right now we need your help. Jackson needs your help. Please Lydia." At his words, Lydia seemed to catch on to his desperation. They both climbed back in and Stiles revved up the engine before speeding off.

He told her, everything that has happened. He told her from the very beginning to the very moment they learned about what was going on with Jackson. Starting with going out to look for Laura Hale's body in the woods, Scott getting bit by Peter, Peter and his revenge and how crazy ass went off the rails, Derek becoming the Alpha, about Isaac, Erica, and Boyd, Gerard and Allison and her family. He still did not tell her about his kidnapping, deciding to leave that out, also thinking about if there was anything he missed while he was in Gerard's clutches. She took all of it pretty well. She didn't interrupt or say anything against what he said. In fact, her face seemed to brighten on a few things as if she finally was able to understand as puzzle pieces went into place. However, when he started to stutter over what happened after the game, after Jackson seemingly dying, she looked at him with a mixture of worry and speculation on her face.

But she said nothing which he was happy for, turning the wheel hard around a curve. He was hoping he was succeeding in showing her the truth. Even if he did not tell her everything. But, he still couldn't think about it now. They were, in fact, almost there.

It didn’t take them long to get to the warehouse, his phone beeping constantly and Lydia reading out the texts to him. Stiles worked his brain fast, hoping that what he was about to do was not totally stupid. It was the fastest way though and hopefully, it would give a good distraction. He had to hope for the best, even if his nerves was rattling. His body ached and he was draining quick, so he pushed down on the gas quick, letting his jeep be floored towards the outer wall of the warehouse. He squeezed his eyes shut as they smashed through the wall, pushing past the falling debris and colliding with something solid before his feet slammed on the brakes. He opened his eyes to see dust and a lot of wide eyes before seeing Lydia rushing to get out of the jeep heading over to the kanima that was a few feet in front of the jeep. He barely heard her calling Jackson's name, his ears ringing from the headache.

Stiles could only watch in astonishment, taking in the sight before him. Aside from Jackson and Lydia, he saw Isaac looking a little worse for wear with a knife in his shoulder, Derek nearby in a shadow, Scott rushing over to Allison to check her for injuries, even though she was brushing him off. Chris  was watching Jackson and Lydia with surprise and interest on his face.

Stiles returned his gaze to Jackson and Lydia, listening to her tell him she loved him and cared for him so much. His claws retracting as his yellow, reptilian eyes leveled on the girl before him. Lydia never once broke her gaze from Jackson, her eyes watering with love and happiness as she poured her heart out to Jackson. Stiles felt a slight sting in his gut at watching Lydia with Jackson, but it wasn't much of one. On some level he did still love Lydia, but he also knew that it was not meant to be. He accepted that a while ago, which might explain why it wasn't very hurtful to him. He used to look at Lydia like she could be his greatest love, now he could only see her as a friend, one that he had the pleasure of growing closer to in a real way as of late. He was proud to have that. Although he still thought Jackson was a gigantic douche and she was too good for him. But what can you do?

He watched in horror as Derek leapt from the ground while Peter (surprisingly) came from above, landing behind Jackson as Derek shoved Lydia away, both shoving their claws into the boy, front and back. A strangled sound came from Lydia, before a loud roar sounded from Jackson, vibrating around the warehouse. When they quickly pulled away, the rest of his scaly skin went back to human and his yellow eyes changed to an electric blue and fangs lengthening from his jaw. Jackson had finally become a werewolf, getting what he wanted from the beginning. That douchebag, he thought. Jackson collapsed into Lydia's arms afterward, both of them talking quietly to each other in panting, tired voices.

Stiles leaned back against his jeep, taking a few deep breaths. His chest hurting with each deep breath as it expanded his already aching chest, his ribs protesting at the movement. He worked to steady his heartbeat and control his lingering panic at the night's events. He was glad everyone was safe. However, he did find himself looking for Gerard, for the evil bastard who sought to hurt his friends, hurt him. There was no sight of him. He saw Derek standing off to the side, staring at the ground with a dark look like it had offended him somehow.

Unsteadily, Stiles made his way to the man, hoping to tell him about what had happened. Warn him about Gerard and tell him about Erica and Boyd, hoping that they could get them out of there before Gerard kills them. Derek didn't look at him when he came up to him, his breathing going back and forth from normal to slightly wheezy. "Derek," Stiles said, looking at the man. "Derek, where is-"

Derek turned to him fast, a growl escaping from his lips, his eyes flashing a brilliant red. "Get away."

Stiles was taken aback. He was stunned to the core at Derek. The growl was not something that was new to him, but the look on Derek's face was. The words stopping his words in his throat before he could release them. "W-what?"

"Get away from me," Derek spat between his slightly lengthening teeth. "I knew I couldn't trust you."

Confusion ran through Stiles. What could he have done now? He was missing for hours. What possibly could he have done to make Derek look at him like that? Was Derek mad that he had gotten kidnapped? Did he know that Gerard took him? Did he think that Stiles told him everything he wanted to know?

"What are you-" he began, only to be cut off by Derek again.

"Shut up," Derek raged, stunning Stiles into silence. "I knew it, I knew I shouldn't have. I should have known better. After all you are always the one with the plans. The only one to spin the web of deception."

"What are you on about," asked Stiles, finding his voice although it came out sounding strangled. He looked around for help from the others, hoping someone would be able to help him understand. Or at least hoping they would come to his aid. The only person who seemed to notice was Peter, who was gazing at them with looks of concern and confusion. Peter was barely watching Derek, his eyes glancing at him once, but then finding Stiles. In the short, few seconds, Stiles could not figure out what the older wolf was thinking.

"Scott was working with him, Stiles!" Derek snarled, his eyes flashing red again. "He was working with Gerard! Of course it was your idea, right? No one else could have thought to use the enemy like that. You're a talented liar Stiles, pretending to give a damn when all you want is to prove your wits."

"No, Derek that is not what happened," Stiles tried, his voice bordering on pleading. Scott was working with Gerard? Did Scott know about Stiles' kidnapping? His best friend was not like that, he wouldn't be like that. Derek couldn't think that of stiles either. He couldn't think that he was not trustworthy. He was not capable of doing that to him, to the pack. He still did not know what all had happened. Where was Gerard? How could Derek not notice his pain? Could he not tell or did he not want to know?

Quickly, Derek shoved Stiles, pushing him up against closest wall, a little away from the others. "Do not lie to me. You planned all of this. Scott is not smart enough to have concocted this kind of plan. He wouldn't have it in him to hurt others."

Stiles was shaking his head, trying to catch his breath and not cry from the pain his back was exuding. The hard surface against barely protected back was jarring all the cuts and bruises. He was afraid that the cuts had opened from the forced action. "No, listen to me, please. Please trust me. Listen to my heart, you can tell if I am lying. Always, you can tell," Stiles tried. He wanted to beg Derek to see reason. This couldn't be happening, not now.

There was a small moment, a small hopeful moment where Stiles thought that Derek would believe him. The man's brows furrowed for just a slight moment, the uncertainty cross his eyes. That somehow his anguish had gotten to far from him and would realize that he made a mistake and would apologize for his rash thoughts. Stiles thought he would be able to tell Derek everything that happened and would make him see truth and then go after Erica and Boyd. But that moment did not come and instead Derek's eyes cleared, the red tinge around the irises remaining. 

"Like I said," he sneered, "you're a talented liar. Why would I trust you?"

"Because," Stiles stammered, his voice sounding small. "Because I'm pack. Because you can trust me."

Derek looked at him with an emotion Stiles could not identify. "Are you," Derek said with an incredulous tone. He should his head, almost sadly. "You are not pack. You are not someone I can trust. You or Scott for that matter. You are nothing to me now."

"Derek," Stiles whispered in shock. He could feel the threat of tears in his eyes, his heart pounding in his chest. This can't be happening. How can this be happening?

"You are just a human," the man said, his tone growing calm, yet cold. "A sarcastic little boy who whines at the world and lies to everyone. Even his own family." 

That felt like a kick in the gut. More like several kicks. His breath left him as quick as it had come. A rising panic attack in the back of his mind, images of Gerard, Grant, Derek and Scott, his father all flooding through his mind. Derek looked at him with such cold disdain and disappointment that it broke his heart. The threat of tears coming even harder as his breathing stopped and caught in his throat like he was going to choke. His heart was so loud, no doubt Derek heard it, but Stiles thought Derek didn't care. Never mind his injuries from Gerard, this hurt a hell of a lot worse. Even more so that Derek still had not taken notice to the condition of his body, not the bruises on his face or the cuts on his lip and eyebrow. It was like Derek couldn't see him anymore, couldn't see past the betrayal Derek thought Stiles had done. 

"Derek-," Stiles tried, his voice barely recognizable to himself.

"Just stop, Stiles," Derek said, looking away from him. "Stay away from me." With that, Derek turned and walked away from him, heading out in another direction, going out into the night. Stiles caught Peter's eyes for just a brief moment. The man looked torn, although Stiles could not understand why. Peter had left after Derek, leaving the rest of them in warehouse. He couldn't breathe. He was hurt and he was on the verge of breaking apart completely. 

His mind raced with the new information. He had indeed missed a lot in the hours he was held prisoner. He tried to process everything, yet it made his brain hurt. He wanted to deny it all, the very idea of it all, but the look on Derek's face said it all. What he spoke of was true. Scott had been working with Gerard. Scott had betrayed Derek and worked with the lunatic. Stiles was beaten to a pulp and almost killed and Scott was not there. He did not come for him, instead working with the very man who had taken him. He felt sick. He felt like he was falling apart.

He barely was aware pf Scott and the others approaching him. Scott had a smile on his face, one that seemed proud. He had his hand in Allison's although she looked like she was tired and sad herself.

"Hey bro," Scott said easily. "What happened to you face?"

“What do you think happened Scott?” Stiles replied bitterly, trying to pull himself together. He wanted to leave. He wanted to get out of here before something else happened.

“You tell me. You disappeared off the lacrosse field after the game, you left without saying anything and have been gone for hours.” Scott said as he squeezed Allison's hand, Jackson and Lydia hovering off behind them. 

“Yeah, we thought you had a panic attack after all your adoring fans came out onto the field. Too much for you nerves to handle," Isaac snickered. 

“No.” Stiles spat, glaring at Isaac, really wanting to haul off and punch him. His whole body was still throbbing and each breath was making his body hurt more. He felt like he was swaying, but his vision remained stuck to Scott, who's face seemed too easily happy after the day's events. “What have you done?” Stiles said returning his gaze to Scott, hoping beyond hope that it was not true. Scott had to know that his best friend was hurt, he had to know what had happened to him. "You were working with Gerard?"

“I had no choice” Scott replied with a shrug effectively making Stiles feel like he had been gutted again. “The bastard threatened my mom and he threatened Allison. I couldn't let him hurt the two people I care about most.”

And there is was. The truth of it all. Like another, sharper, deeper blade to the chest, Stiles felt the sting of this words deep. Scott had no only worked with Gerard, but he outright admitted to Stiles that he did not matter. He did not matter to him. He was not one of the people he cared about most. “And that makes what you did okay? What you did to Derek?”

“Derek's an Alpha. He'll get over it.” Scott replied dismissively. Isaac nodded, shrugging his shoulders in nonchalance. Although Allison furrowed her eyebrows slightly, but said nothing. Lydia and Jackson were quiet. Lydia was looking at him with concern and looking at Scott with mild surprise. Jackson was looking uninterested, although he was looking at Stiles with a smirk on his face. Like the jackass knew the effect the words had on Stiles. At Scott admitting that Stiles was not important to him.

“And what of me?” Stiles asked, looking at his best friend. Even as he looked at him, he could barely stomach the sight of him.

“What about you," Scott said quizzically. "This has nothing to do with you."

“You betrayed him, Scott. You know what the bite means to him. You forced him to do the one thing he would never do for someone like Gerard. Now what? What happened with Gerard?” Stiles said, almost in a whine, his pain from his body starting to show in his voice. It was building with each moment. He needed to leave, like now.

"I tricked him into ingesting mountain ash by putting it into his medication pills. Deaton helped me with that. It was his idea mostly. It worked too. Gerard is now harmless to everyone considering how sick he is now. He ran off before you got here," Scott said, again proudly, although Allison seemed to be conflicted.

"So Deaton knew. Did you not think that if you could trust Deaton with this that you could let Derek in on this? Or even me?" Stiles asked regarding Scott as calmly as he could manage.

"Of course not," Scott replied with a wry smile. "I knew Derek would not go for it if he knew and I knew you would warn him. Not to mention, Gerard threatened mom and Allison. If he found out about the plan, he would have hurt them."

"So you instead had Deaton help you, a man who is as cryptic as they come. And you betrayed Derek in the process. Betrayed me too. You didn't trust us," Stiles said, his anger starting to rise, mixing with the pain in his heart.

“I didn’t betray you, dude.” Scott said. "It was my plan and just because I didn’t tell you doesn’t mean I betrayed you. Stop acting all hurt over something that is nothing.”

“It is not nothing. You knew what Gerard was going to do and you said nothing. You kept everything to yourself, while the rest of us were kept in the dark.” Stiles hissed, he needed to get away and calm down by himself. Panic was swirling more and more in his head. His already unsteady body was becoming even more so. He could feel warmth trickle down his back and he felt his boxers get a little wet at the waistband. The wounds were open, no doubt his fast heart making it worse. He was spinning with all this information. Scott had known. He knew about Gerard's plans and he said nothing. Scott didn't trust him or Derek, so he worked behind their backs. Scott might as well had handed Stiles over to Gerard. Since he didn't want him to know his plans, it was the perfect excuse.

“Come off it,” Scott said getting angry now. He took his hand from Allison, Isaac and her looking at him in surprise. Jackson and Lydia staying quiet, but no less stunned. “You are just mad that you were kept out of the loop. That it was not your plan. Grow up Stiles. This is not a game. People's lives are at stake and I did what was necessary. It was my plan and I worked it out the way I could. Not everything is about you. Accept it and get over it."

“Yeah,” Stiles said sadly after Scott's little rant. He was sad and hurt, and so angry. His body was screaming at him and his mind was cloudy with panic and sleep. He could feel the pull of exhaustion and it called to him like a siren. It was welcoming him. Yet, he couldn't give in. He had to keep going just a little longer. He wanted to say something more, argue with Scott over what he had done. He wanted to reveal to him what really happened to him. He needed his best friend, his brother. He needed him to help chase away the lingering panic and tell him that it was over. He still had no idea what happened in the preserve, the fire and the burning hunters. The images flashing through his mind, making his skin hot and clammy, his breathing catch in his throat. Scott was supposed to trust him, was supposed to confide in him. Stiles has always done the same to him, has always helped him when he needed it. How could he tell him what had happened, when Scott cared so little for him, when Scott was also working for Gerard. When he saw Stiles as a child, complaining about unfairness, prone to panic attacks over too much attention, with little to offer when the people he cared about were in jeopardy. Was that where Scott classified him in his life?

”Just go home, Stiles,” Scott said shaking his head slowly. “Go home and let my pack handle the rest.”

Stiles nodded, stepping away from the group. The truth coming out again of how Scott saw him. He saw Scott’s true colors now. He saw what he was to him. He was nothing. He was a burden if nothing else. He was not pack to them. Not to Derek and not to Scott. He turning on them quickly to go to his jeep. He barely heard his name being called and he didn't know who by. He didn't care. He hopped in his jeep, barely muffling the sound of pain as his back hit the seat, turning the engine over and backing out of the warehouse to drive away. He didn't want to go home and face his dad again. He was hurt and in pain. He wanted to help Erica and Boyd, but how? He had no pack now. Derek didn't want him and Scott thought so little of him. What was he to do? 

He drove along the darkened streets, trying to head back to his house. He needed rest. His vision was blackening. He vaguely knew he should pull over, but he didn't. He had to get home first. He had to come up with a way to get Erica and Boyd. He couldn't leave them. If Derek didn't want him, then he would give his help to his betas. At least that is what he told himself. His head felt heavy. He was passing by the streets, heading closer to the outskirts of town where his house was. The buildings becoming more distant from one another. He was almost there, at least he hoped. Stiles could barely make out shaped in the dark. Each passing moment, his vision clouded more and more. When his eyes closed, his felt his consciousness slipping from him. He barely felt his arm turn the steering wheel to the right hard, the sound of tires squealing as the jeep lurched to the side. A large thump, jolted Stiles, making him hit his head hard on the roof of the cabin. He caught the shape of a tree and the start of concrete freeway dividers before his jeep slipped between the two, knocking the jeep to a holt, effectively pinning in the middle where in the front just behind the front two tires. 

Stiles fell forward, the wheel knocking into his chest, a wave of pain shooting from his chest into his shoulders in arms before he fell to the side in his seat. His eyes swimming in darkness and water from his tears that he had forgotten about. He had passed out, barely aware of the lights moving over the cabin of his truck.

Chapter Text

Darkness was all around Stiles as he came back to sight awareness. He welcomed it. He was comforted by it. The silence and warm pull that would cause him to float in and out of consciousness. He was vaguely aware of an ache that swept through his body but he tried to pay it no mind. Instead he focused on something else. He felt like something was vibrating, yet couldn't distinguish what. He turned back to the darkness, encouraging it to surround him, wanting to bask in it and have it cloud out all his troubles. Yet the more he became aware of the darkness, the more he became aware of the pain. It seemed to go from a dull ache to a constant throbbing. It was throbbing in time with his heartbeat that was pumping in his ears. He supposed he should be glad he was still alive, but the pain was not helping in that happiness. 

When he felt a sharp sting shoot up his arm, he shook awake violently, arching up and almost losing consciousness again from a wave of dizziness. His eyes were a mixture of black dots and fuzzy shapes and colors. He could barely make out a soft yellow light that was in front of him. But he couldn’t see anything last that.

Warmth settled on his back then, a weight in between his shoulder blades. He was aware of another warmth on gripping his outer shoulder, shaking it, sending more throbs of pain through his arm, casting down and over his chest to the other arm with each shake. He didn’t know what to expect when he turned his head, but he didn’t expect a collection of soft, blurry colors surrounded by blackness at the edges of his vision. Nor what looked like brownish blobs on his body, or what was supposed to be his body. 

He wanted shake his head, clear his eyes, but it hurt. It hurt so bad that his head felt like it was swaying on his neck, moving the pounding in his head from one side to the next. Nausea was joining the dizziness then. He had to swallow, just to keep himself from wanting to keel over and heave. He couldn’t really hear anything besides his heart beat, but he did hear a voice. First like a whisper, almost coaxing to him then becoming clearer like it was getting closer to him. Eventually it became soft, concerned, a mixture of gravelly and silvery tones, something he could identify as a real voice.

Stiles knew that it was a person who was beside him. Despite the cloudiness of his eyes and his head, he could tell that much. The shifting blurs and the voice nearby was enough. Tell him to stay awake, to not fall back asleep. Take deep breaths and to keep focusing on his voice. He wasn't sure who it was, but it was familiar to him somehow. He hoped it was his dad, that he could deal with, he would welcome that. He did not know where he was or what happened. Why did his body feel like jello and painful with each breath and each twitch of a muscle, he couldn't tell you at that point. Stiles, might have leaned back a little into the warmth that felt like a hand that was pressing in between his shoulders, but a cold pain shot down his spine and over his shoulders, like icy fire. He hissed, sucking in air, arching himself away from the hand, but not going far. The hand didn't apply any more pressure, but just seemed to hover, only giving off heat after that. The other 'hand' that was on his shoulder loosened, just barely gripping him.

Stiles listened to the voice in his ear, focusing on it. He knew it was familiar, yet he could place a name or even a face. The more he listened, though, the more his body seemed to relax a bit. His vision was straightening out. He was able to turn blurs into more shapely items, the black dots leaving the edges of his vision. He still felt dizzy and had a massive headache, but at least the nausea was dissipating as he continued to stare straight ahead, focusing on the words being said to him. 

After feeling like he could move just a little, he slowly turned his head to the side, taking in the figure he knew was beside him. The features became clearer, sharper as be watched. The blurs fading to reveal tanned skin, angled face, strong jaw, and dark eyes. Short dark brown hair and shoulders that were broad as they rippled with movement. The face of Danny Mahealani staring back at him, his eyes holding his with a calm that both comforted and unnerved Stiles. When he looked down, he saw a hand, clear as day, on his arm.

Almost on instinct, Stiles moved, arching himself away from Danny. He grunted in pain, just barely keeping it from escaping his lips as he moved to the side, away from the hand, not even realizing it was Danny's. He didn't go far, his back hitting a wall, as he angled himself to be partially facing Danny, partially facing what was an empty room. It was his room, he could tell that now, the familiar sight of his closet, his desk, and his nightstand at the foot of his bed, holding the lamp from his desk on it, illuminating in a dull shade of yellow, being the only source of light in the room. Danny sat on his desk chair beside his bed, a brown towel balancing on his leg. He saw when Danny's eyes went wide with shock, worry lacing their depths as he held up his hands.

Why was Danny here? What happened to him? Why was he looking at him like that?

He could still feel the warmth from Danny’s body near his left leg, the heat from his hand still on his shoulder. Now his hands were palms up in a calm, non-violent gesture like he was testing Stiles like a scarred animal. I’m truth, Stiles was scarred. He couldn’t remember much, but as his vision cleared, his brain was starting to work again. The dizziness slowly clearing little by little to reveal the events from that day. Or previous day? Or what time is it? 

“W-what time is it?” Stiles stammered, his heart still pounding in his chest, vibrating his ears. His vision was starting to go back and forth to blurry again. He could feel his hands shaking, but he tried to hide them by gripping his thighs. 

Danny didn't answer at first, but he seemed to shake off his temporary shock, before answering. "It is almost 3 am."

Stiles said nothing at that. Of course it was late. Or early. He did not care really, it was just the first question to come out of his mouth.

"Stiles," Danny quietly coaxed, bring Stiles' eyes back to him. "Do you know who I am?"

Now he was even more confused. Where the hell did that question come from? Of course he knew Danny. He has known this boy for most of his life. Wait, did Danny not know who he was? No, no he said his name. So he obviously does know who Stiles is. Then, where was that question coming from?

Stiles nodded his head slowly, hoping to not jar his head. "Yes, Danny," he said, hoping that he Danny would elaborate on why he asked. 

Danny sighed heavily, relief clear on his face. But still etched with worry, he still held his hands up, conveying he was not a threat. Stiles knew that. Stiles knew Danny. Yet you still flinched away from him, his mind supplied in a whisper. Stiles felt guilty, but he couldn't stop seeing the hand on him. The hand that was big and tanned, with subtle muscles, long yet strong fingers. The image of Grant passed through his mind, completely unwanted and without delay, his face, leading to his hands, almost the same shape as Danny's, muscled from years of use on knives, warmth with their own heat, gliding over his skin, gripping and scratching, leaving their mark no matter where they went. In a flash, one hand on his body was enough to send him wanting to get away. Maybe it wouldn't have been that way if he was aware of it being Danny's. He couldn't be sure though, could he?

"What happened," Stiles asked, turning away from the images of Grant. He really wanted to know how he got home. The last thing he remembered was he jeep. He had hoped that none of what he remembered was true. With each bit of information he was remembering, he was hoping none of it was real. Yet if the way he saw Grant in his mind and how he remembered the feeling of his hands scratching over his body, his voice in his ear, any of that was anything to go by, it was very safe to assume that it was not a vivid dream. It was a very vivid reality, every single bit of it.

Danny settled his hands back on his legs, leaning closer just a bit, dropping his eyes to the floor. "I found you on the side of the road. Your jeep was crashed in between a tree and a concrete guard rail. I brought you home. I have been trying to get you to wake up for over 15 minutes."

Stiles couldn't remember that. Very vague images of the road came to mind, but nothing much, most just blurs of images he could not identify. "I...I'm sorry. I shouldn't have been driving." What else could he say. There was nothing he could say. If he told Danny anything that happened or even where he was coming from, he would get suspicious and more than likely not believe him. Danny didn't need to know about his problems.

"It's okay," Danny said as he leaned back in the chair. "I get it."

"Really?" Stiles couldn't help but asked in surprise. He wasn't sure he liked those three words. What did Danny mean?

"Well, you were stupid for driving in your condition that much is true. But I get why."

Stiles felt his heart beating faster now. "What do you mean?"

"Come on Stiles," the boy said, cocking a small, sad smile. "I know what hunter's marks look like by now."

Fear swept through Stiles. His body went rigid, his back going straight. He felt his eyes going wide, his hands clench in the fabric of his shorts. The pounding in his chest got harder, heat flushing on his skin as cold sweat started to gather on his back and hands. Danny's words echoing in his brain, replaying over and over again. He tried to think of a way to play off Danny's words, but there was no mistaking the hesitation Danny saw on his face. 

"What," Stiles asked so quiet it was whisper. He couldn't manage more than that.

"I know, Stiles," Danny said softly. "I know about hunters. I know about the pack." Danny moved slowly, seeming to try and not scare Stiles some more. He reached down, picking up a bowl with water and wash cloth in it. He set it on the on the windowsill, balancing it carefully so it would not fall. He pushed the cloth further into the water, letting it soak up some water before he squeezed it out. Danny held up in front of him, folded neatly, looking at Stiles with more calm than Stiles felt. He gestured towards Stiles, lowering his eyes to Stile's wrist, where they still raw and covered with dried blood. Small lacerations and peeling skin wrapped around them both. "May I," Danny asked in the same soft tone.

Stiles just stared for a few heartbeats. Danny knew. He knew about hunters, about the pack. How could he know? Did someone tell him? Was Danny just that smart or did he hear more than he let on? Stiles wasn't sure he could trust Danny. Even as he sat there though, he figured that if Danny wanted to hurt him, he would have already. Yet, he was the one who brought Stiles home. Danny was the one who made sure he was okay after his passing out in his car, covered in bruises and cuts, looking worse for wear, and still managed to get him home. Stiles had said once that Danny was nice to everyone, everyone liked Danny, he still stood by that. Danny was a good person, even if he didn't have to be. He and Danny had never been friends per say, but it did not mean that Danny had ever shown any animosity to him. Should he allow Danny to help him? 

Tentatively, Stiles nodded his head, but said nothing. When Danny, reached for his arm, he did it with his palm face up, not grabbing or reach, but rather allowing Stiles to meet him halfway. When Stiles put his forearm in his hand, his body relaxed slightly at the gentle touch, but he still tried to swallow the lump in his throat. He still was wary and after the night he had, he'd be damned if he left himself relax fully. Danny gently put the wash cloth on his wrist, just barely putting pressure on it as he guided it downward, collecting the easiest bits of dried blood, dirt, and skin that fell away without a problem. Stiles stared in silence as his classmate ran the cloth over his skin, the water cooling his heated skin. 

"How," Stiles asked breaking the silence, asking the question he really wanted an answer to. "How do you know about the pack? About hunters?"

Danny glanced at him for a quick moment, still wiping at his left wrist, turning his hand around to get at the underside. "I've known for a while," he answered honestly.

"Why...Why had you not said anything?" 

The simply shrugged. "I guess I was waiting to be included. It was not my place to say anything." Danny seemed sad about that, but he seemed to hide it quickly. The cross of emotion gone and his face turning back into a mask, focusing on what he was doing. 

"I suppose we never acted like we could include you," Stiles said guiltily. "I would have thought Jackson would tell you." Then Stiles remembered. Danny still thought Jackson was dead or at the hospital or something. Oh shit, how was he going to explain that. "Wait, I'm sorry, I shouldn't...I mean...Jackson...I just." Well shit.

Danny smiled, a chuckle coming from him before he looked at Stiles, cocking his head. "I know about Jackson too, Stiles. I found that out as well. As for him being alive, I am aware. He texted me earlier tonight. Said he was okay." 

Stiles couldn't help but see the tense lines in Danny's face as he talked about Jackson, but he didn't comment on it. "So you know everything?"

Danny nodded moving on to the other wrist, wiping gently a few time before putting the cloth back in the bowl to wet it, squeeze it out, then start again. "Just about. What I do not know, is what happened to you. I thought the pack was keeping an eye on you. What the hell happened to you?"

The seriousness and firmness of Danny's comments were off putting. He was still trying to wrap his head around the fact that Danny knew. That he had know for some time. Of course he did not say how he knew. That was a question Stiles thought was important, more so than answering Danny's question.

"How do you know about all this? About the pack and hunters?" Stiles had said, trying to straighten himself up some, hoping to show his defiance.

Danny sighed rolling his eyes before dropping his gaze to the floor. His shoulders looked rigid. When he looked back up it was with a hard look in his kind eyes. "Because," he said, "I was born into it. My parents were mixed up in the supernatural before they left. That is why I know about the werewolves and hunters. I put two and two together after I witnessed a few strange things. Not to mention some of you are not very subtle at keeping secrets." He spoke quickly, pushing past the words like he had to hurry before he would lose his nerve to say them. The whole time he looked at Stiles, never once breaking eye contact. His eyes were hard, an emotion he couldn't identify in their depths. "Now are you going to tell me what happened? Where are the others?"

Stiles let his lingering questions drop. He had no right to pry into Danny's personal life. Especially not about his parents. Everyone knew that Danny was left with his grandmother at a young age. His parents just up and left one day, leaving behind their son, giving him some of their willings and enough savings to get him through the rest of school without a problem. His grandmother took him without question, but it still did little to appease the questions of the town. No one had seen or heard from his parents since. All contact has been lost. Danny has barely spoken about them to anyone, never wanting to for the pain it still caused, all the unexplained questions. Now Stiles suspected they left for reasons pertaining to the supernatural. He had a feeling Danny knew that too. Whatever the reasons, it was enough to have them leave town and not take their son with them. 

Stiles felt like an ass for pushing, even though he didn't know Danny would mention his parents. It still didn't make him feel like less of an idiot for not suspecting a personal reason why Danny knew about the supernatural. "I'm sorry," he said quickly. "I didn't mean to..."

Danny waived his apology away with a hand. "It's fine. It was bound to come up sooner or later. Now will you answer my damn question?"

Stiles simply shrugged. The movement making him grit his teeth. Maybe he should refrain from moving for a few days. "I don't know where everyone is. Last I saw they were at the warehouse between Third and Elm."

"And your injuries?"

Stiles winced. "Hunters, who wanted information."

"What did you tell them," Danny asked. His tone wasn't harsh or accusing, just calmly questioning.

"I told them nothing. This was their way of reprimanding me for my misbehavior," Stiles tried with a scoff, like it was a joke. Danny was not buying it though. His face was tight, dark eyes searching Stiles face like he was searching for more answers.

”And the hunters?” Danny asked hesitantly.

Stiles didn't say anything more after that. He was afraid of letting Danny know more. Afraid of what Danny would do if he did learn more. So instead he kept his mouth shut. By the way Danny seemed to nod his head, the silence said enough. Stiles didn’t have to say what happened to the hunters. Danny already knew they would no longer be a problem.

Stiles was getting hot, his heart beating in his chest at the tense conversation. He still had on his shorts and long sleeve red hoodie over top a T-shirt. So he arched himself up a bit, unzipping the hoodie, before trying to shrug it off. It hurt to move like this, but he was burning up and needed to try and get more comfortable so as to not agitate his injuries even more. He was probably going to be bed bound of a few days and he knew that tomorrow his body would feel worse.

He was having trouble getting hoodie off his arms, the garment sticking to his T-shirt as he moved, trying to shrug it off while it was hiking up his front. It wasn't until he heard a sharp gasp that he realized how much his T-shirt was stuck to the front of his hoodie. He saw Danny's eyes wide as orbs, his mouth agape, his tanned skin going pale as he sat so still he could have rivaled a statue. Stiles looked down, seeing his shirt raised to reveal the large bandages on his stomach, the littering around the front of his torso. The mild burns were also on display, but not as noticeable. He made to put his shirt back down, but Danny moved before he could, stopping his arm with a gentle but firm hand. Stiles tried to not flinch from the touch, but he barely succeeded, sucking in a breath as Danny came close. It was pointless now to hide it anyway.

Danny saw the large cut on his stomach covered in makeshift bandages. There was a large line of dark red across the bandages, small drops of blood poking through the areas where the bandages were not. He and stared in horror. Stiles could only watch as Danny looked from the cut up to Stiles and then back again. Obviously Danny did not know how far the hunters had gone. But that was not the worst part. The worst part was the dark bruise on his side. The one that Stiles barely saw earlier, but was now there in full force for the world to see. the bruise just below the cut in his oblique, right at the top of his hip. Red and blue marks, extending out towards his belly button. They looked like weirdly connected ovals, all close together in a parallel pattern. They were the identifying marks of fingers. Fingerprints that Grant had left behind. Stiles watched as Danny's eyes became clouded, suddenly seeming even darker than they were a second before.

"I need to take you to the hospital," he said in a rush not looking away from the wound.

"No!" Stiles said quickly, his voice higher than it should be.

"What the hell do you mean no. If I had known about this, I never would have brought you home." Danny said forgetting about the wash cloth as it fell out of his hand. "What else have you not told me? What else did they do to you," moving even closer, getting out the chair to hover at his bedside, reaching like he was about to pat Stiles down, searching for more injuries beneath his shirt.

Stiles yanked back his arm, away from the hands, flinching as far as he could. He must have looked scared again because Danny froze. He looked at Stiles with rounded eyes, then looked down at his hands before quickly putting them back to his sides. Danny looked like he had burned Stiles. The guilty look crossing his features, making him look more sullen than Stiles had ever seen him.

"I'm sorry," Danny whispered.

"Danny, I can't go to the hospital," Stiles said brushing off the apology, not wanting Danny to look like that anymore. "If I go to the hospital, Melissa will know. She will tell my dad and then there will be more questions. Questions that I can't answer. Rather, questions I do not want to answer. He cannot know about this."

"Stiles you cannot expect him to not notice. He has to know."

"He can't. He is the Sheriff. It is his job to serve and protect. What do you think will happen once he learns there are things out there, things are supposed to be in nightmares, that he cannot protect people from? It will make his job even harder. I will not be the one to reveal this world to him. I want him to stay safe, and it is safer for him to not know about any of this." Stiles knew all of this. If he had to he would keep his dad in the dark for a long as he possible. He knew that Danny was right, that at some point his dad may find out. He would deal with that later. Right now he wanted his dad to stay safe. It was safer if his dad was clueless about about the supernatural. No one would question it. No one would go after him for what he did not know.

"But-"

"No Danny," he said firmly. "He can't know. Please!"

Danny stared at Stiles for a long few moments. Stiles felt his heart beating in his throat, like he was about to throw up. He was so exhausted and he hurt that all this adrenaline was making him dizzy. But he couldn't let up. He had to keep this from his dad. There was no better option right now. "Alright," Danny consented after his moments of thinking. "No hospitals."

"Thank you." Stiles had said gratefully, leaning back into the pillow behind him.

"But you need help," the boy said, making Stiles go rigid again. "You said Scott's mom knows about all this, she knows about the pack?"

Stiles nodded wanting nothing more than to close his eyes. "She's at the hospital though. She works the night shift and will not be able to come for hours."

"Fine then I can call someone else. Someone who can help." Danny was already getting up. He was pulling his phone out of his pocket, the bluish-white light illuminating the dimly lit room some, casting harsh shadows behind Danny as he held up to look at it.

 "Who?" Stiles asked gravelly. Who else was there that could help? Who else knew about the supernatural? "Who are you calling," he asked, trying to shake the exhaustion from his voice.

"I'll be right back," he said, heading towards the door. "It might take a bit. It is late, but they can help."

Stiles was unable to say anything else before his bedroom door closed. He vaguely heard Danny's voice on the other side, going in and out, his shadow passing under the door back and forth as he paced up and down the hallway. Stiles really wanted to know who he was calling. He laid his head back against his pillow, his body taking that as permission to relax more onto his bed. He clenched his jaw as his body pulsed as he sunk down some more. More and more, he tried to relax, Danny still passing back and forth outside his room. He was so tired. 

 

He must have fallen asleep.

The next thing he knew, Danny was shaking him awake gently. He sat beside Stiles on his bed, his hand on his shoulder. The light from his lamp was still on, slightly blinding him at the sudden light as he opened his eyes. When he met Danny's the boy gave a small smile. Stiles tried to return it, but instead he yawned. 

"How are you feeling," Danny asked him.

Stiles was confused by that question. Why would Danny ask him that? He had just shut his eyes for a few minutes. His body still ached, feeling warm, but aside from that he did not know what to make of Danny's questions. He was about to speak, when he Danny retract his hand, putting it back on his lap. He stopped then. It wasn't Danny taking his hand back that made him start to think, it was the feeling of the lingering warmth on his shoulder. He had felt the weight of the hand, the warm temperature, but he also felt the skin. It was a smooth glide when it moved, uninterrupted.

He turned to look at his shoulder, finding it bare. His pale flesh staring up at him like under the yellow light. When he looked down at his chest, it too was also bare, but covered with one of his blankets, only the top of his shoulder showing, the faintest evidence of the cut from his right collar bone to his underarm showing just at the top. Stiles must have looked on the verge of a panic attack because Danny was right there, his hand back on his grasping into his, coaxing him to breathe. Stiles locked eyes on Danny's. The fact that he had not slept for just a few minutes swirling in his head. No, at some point he had lost his shirt and he was not even aware of it. Stiles moved his hand under the blanket, feeling his stomach and chest. There was gauze wrapping around his torso and dressings on his chest, covering the large cuts. He had no doubt that if he looked there would be another one on the cuts over his shoulder blade. 

Someone had cleaned and dressed him. Someone had seen the damage on his body, what he had suffered through and he did not even know it. His breathing was coming faster, the edges of his vision blurring. He felt his blood run cold, his heart pounding in his ears. Sweat was starting to coat his forehead and slick his palms. Danny was still holding his hand, gripping it tightly, trying to anchor him. He was talking to him, Stiles couldn't put all the words together. So he focused on Danny's hand. Danny gripped his hands with both of his now, his thumbs rubbing into the back of his in circles. Trying to soothe him, trying to coax him to breathe. Slowly, Stiles focused on the fingers that were working to calm him. 

He tried swallowing, tried to take a deep breath before releasing it. He looked back at Danny who was nodding his again. His fingers still moving over the back his hands. His hands were like an anchor, holding Stiles to reality. Little by little, Stiles was able to get another breath and release it before doing it over again. Danny's voice joined his hands eventually, holding Stiles' attention, still trying to ease his fear. The boy's voice was soft, not urgent or commanding, but sounding like it had all the time in world. He told him it was okay, to keep breathing, focus on breathing, that he was okay. With the last few deep breathes, Stile's vision cleared out, his heart returning to a more normal beat, although still a bit faster. 

"It's okay." Danny said, still not letting go of his hands. "Just relax, I'll explain."

Stiles listened, letting his body relax just a little. The weight of Danny's body on his bed grounding him some more with the heat of his body wafting over him, helping to warm his and take away the cold sweat on his skin.

"Are you okay," he asked Stiles, eyeing him carefully.

With Stiles' nod, Danny sighed before letting go of his hands gently, but not moving any further away. "I called for some help. When I came back in you were asleep," he started, leaning back just a little, to look at Stiles more fully. "It didn't take long for them to come and immediately get to work. Your wounds have been cleaned and wrapped."

"Who did you call," Stiles asked, still sounding a little breathless.

"He called me, Mr. Stilinski." A voice said nearby.

Stiles turned to look at the voice just as Danny had, turning his body to face the new presence in the room. Deaton was standing in the doorway, wiping his hands on a small towel. His calm charisma wafting from him and his face impassive as he glanced at the two boys. His eyes were dark, seeming knowing, yet not unkind. Stiles could not help the momentary surprise at the vet's appearance. His stun was quickly replaced with anger in record time.

“You called him!” Stiles practically yelled, flicking his eyes to Danny before landing back on Deaton. He didn’t want to see Deaton. He didn’t want to be in the same room with the man. After what he helped Scott do, he wanted to haul off and punch the guy. Punch him in that damn expressionless face of his.

“Stiles, wait, listen,” Danny pleaded, turning back to him quickly with his hands up in appeasement, his eyes pleading. 

Stiles shook his head, despite it making his vision blur again. “No, get him away from me.”

"Stiles, he helped you." Danny pressed on as if Stiles hadn't spoken, already knowing what he would say. "He was the only other choice who could take care of you."

"I don't care," Stiles said bitterly. "I want him out. He is not welcome here."

Danny's face was a mixture of emotions Stiles couldn't begin to decipher nor did he care to. He did not want to take his eyes off of the vet. It was not because he thought Deaton would hurt him, but because he wanted to man to feel the full force of his glare, the full force of his pain. Deaton calmly stood in his spot, frown lines evident on his forehead and on the corners of his mouth. Stiles did not care if he was placing unfair blame on Deaton, after all the man was not a fortune teller. However, the man always had a knack for knowing more than he let on, for always hiding behind his charade of indifference and age-old snippets of advice. He never really trusted Deaton, but he never thought Deaton would go so far as to plan behind the pack's back without at least cluing them in just a little bit.

"What did you do," Danny asked glancing at Deaton, with some accuse in his tone. Stiles was proud of that if he was being honest.

The man said nothing to him. He didn't speak at all. He just looked at Danny like he was about to speak, opening his mouth only to close it again. 

"Oh please," Stiles said venomously, "let me tell him." Deaton said nothing, barely looking at either of the boys, just staring at the ground like a child who was in trouble. Stiles turned to look at Danny before speaking. "Our favorite vet here was helping Scott work with Gerard." Seeing Danny's eyes widen he continued. "Yeah, he was one of the hunter's who did this to me. Obviously seeing the perfect opportunity to 'question' me, in order to ensure that he knew all he could about the pack. So instead of Scott focusing on those around him, he helped him play hero."

"What," Danny asked turning from Stiles to Deaton. Deaton still didn't say anything, but he was looking at Stiles now, his usual collected face back on full display.

Danny looked like he was about to speak, but Deaton's voice cut him off before he could. "Mr. Mahealani, can you give us some privacy please."

Danny looked like he wanted to argue. Instead, the boy turned soundlessly to Stiles raising an eyebrow in questions. Stiles knew this conversation was bound to come. He was not happy that it came so soon. He was still tired and even after being cleaned and bound, his body still hurt. If he was going to do this, why not now? The quicker he got it over with the better. So he just nodded at Danny. Danny was rigid in the shoulders, but he complied. Danny walked past Deaton who stepped aside to let him out into the hall. Deaton closed the door behind him before turning to Stiles taking a slow step further into the room. Stiles was tense, being alone with Deaton. It was not that he viewed the man as a threat, given what he knew about the man, it was in anticipation for the conversation that was about to begin.

”Stiles," Deaton started slowly, his smooth voice quiet, "it was never my intention for you to get hurt. It was never my intention to lose your trust.”

”That would imply that you actually had it." Stiles replied bluntly. "I didn’t trust you before and I still don’t. After what you did, you’ll forgive me for obviously having good reason to.”

Deaton rubbed a hand down his face, the first sign of his careful control slipping from his features. ”I had no idea what happened to you. I did not have the forethought to think of the lengths Gerard would go.”

”Is that supposed to make me feel better,” Stiles spat angrily.

“It is supposed to help you understand.” Deaton replies sadly. “I will not deny my hand in Scott’s plan. I gave him an idea and he ran with it. It was supposed to deal with Gerard in a non-lethal way. That is all it supposed to be."

"Yet you failed to take into account of what Scott working with you would do," Stiles said matter-of-factly.

"I never imagined you getting caught in the cross hairs of Gerard’s desire for life and his madness.” The spoke with his eyes down, he hovered in the middle of the room, looking uncomfortable. Good, Stiles thought to himself on that. 

Madness was right. It described Gerard to a 'T.' The man craved power above all else. Power for himself mostly. His code went out the window out of his desperation to stay alive. He sought to become what he hunted. Never mind what it would mean for him in the hunting community. The way he saw it, the bite was his cure. Although the added bonus of supernatural powers was just the icing on the cake.

“So I shouldn’t blame you or Scott?” 

“I can not tell you how to think. I accept your scorn for what I did and the hurt and pain that has been inflicted on you in more ways than one.” Deaton said solemnly.

"It is not just what happened to me," Stiles said forcefully. "It is also what you did to Derek. You helped plan all of this without him. You planned to use him as the catalyst in you scheme, never mind what it would mean to him. You practically forced him to give the bite to a man he hates more than anyone in this world, apart from Kate, who happens to be the same man's daughter."

"I know."

"Do you? You had him give the bite to the man who oversaw the death of most of his family. You made him think he was giving Gerard a cure for his illness," Stiles yelled, his anger coming out full force. His body protested as he shot up in a sitting position, his vision coming in spots, but he brushed it off.

Deaton said nothing after that for a few heart beats. He glared at the man. If Scott was here, he would do the same thing to him. How could they have done this to Derek. He was pissed with Scott more on his own behalf, but with Deaton he was pissed with the man at what he had done to Derek, after his whole history with the Hales, this is what he does. He wanted to throttle the man for that. He supposed he should be angry at Deaton for Derek blaming Stiles, but his wasn't thinking logically right now. Derek had known Deaton for years, did he even think the vet would go this far? That thought made Stiles feel even more upset at Derek putting the blame of Stiles. Derek thought so little of him and it was tearing at him like claws would at flesh.

"How could you," Stiles said, no longer shouting. His anger was still there, but it was being replaced by hurt. Hurt for himself and despite his better judgement, for Derek also.

“What would you have done, if in Scott’s shoes? If the people you cared about were hurt?”

”I would have confided in the people I knew would never break my trust, the people I have given life for time and again.” Stiles said without thinking. His mouth was doing the talking, his brain supplying the words that came as easily as breathing. “I would not have become like him, lying and scheming in order to get rid of the problem. I would have placed my faith in those who I love.”

Deaton nodded, but supplied no other words to go along with it. Stiles wasn't done with his words yet. He had to let it out, let out before he burst.

"Obviously though, I am not one of those people. I am not pack. That was made clear not once, or twice, but multiple times this evening. And like a knife in the gut, it hurt more than you can even fathom.” Stiles said with tears starting to well in his eyes, he didn't care by this point. He was too exhausted to care. His emotions wound so tight that now that they were about to break apart, he was on verge of just letting it spill over.

“What else am I, besides the human with a silver tongue and a sheriff for a father, who I can keep in the dark about all of this, so they can do what must be done?”

“Stiles,” Deaton began looking like he really wanted to say more on this taking a steady step towards him, but stopping short before placing his foot down, thinking better about his approach, “that is not what you are. You are no disposable to them.”

”Really, then why was this done to me,” stiles asked pointing to his body. “You have seen my injuries. You have seen the ugly evidence of it all. Tell me why I was beaten and nearly raped when my friends care so damn much about me. Tell me where they were, since you seem to know so much.”

"I...," Deaton started and then said nothing. For the first time, Deaton's calm composure was broken to him. The look of sadness and guilt on his mocha features. He had nothing to say, at a loss for words and Stiles was privately happy about that. The truth hurts, right.

"Just go," Stiles said, holding his head up high, swallowing around the lump in his throat. "Your job is done. Now I want to be alone."

Deaton didn't fight him on it. Deaton sighed, turning and heading to the door. He left the room, leaving Danny to come in, looking at the vet leaving, before coming into the room. If Danny noticed the threat of tears in Stiles' eyes, he didn't say anything.

"Stiles," Danny began only to be cut off by Stiles.

"Thank you, for what you have done for me," Stiles said, wanting to have silence. He wanted to curl up and shut the world away. Call it wallowing in his feelings, he didn't care. He has earned that right for one damn day. "Really, thank you. But I wish to be alone right now." When Danny didn't move, Stiles pressed on, feeling the weight of the tears stinging his eyes even more. He didn't want Danny to seem him like this. See how utterly broken he was. "Please, Danny," he pleaded. 

Danny looked torn. Like he had more to say, but he didn't know how or even what to say. Stiles could see the hurt cross his face, the sorrow in his eyes-thank God it wasn't pity-and the defeated way he held his shoulders. He didn't want Danny to see him like this, but was this any worse from what Danny already had seen. He has seen Stiles body. He helped clean out the cuts and burns. Wash away the dirt from over his bruises. He had already seen what was done to him, the evidence that would inevitably scar. What else was worse than that? Danny got a front row seat to the devastation that Gerard and his men had inflicted on him. Stiles had no doubt Danny heard the argument he had with Deaton, heard what had happened with the pack. It just made the whole current picture that was Stiles all the more sad and broken. 

So yeah, Stiles had the right to ask to be alone. He was grateful to Danny, but right now his emotions were about to pour out, although his body still ached, he did feel a bit better. Druid magic only did so much, he guessed. However, it did nothing for his mind, the memories that still came and gone like a damn slide show that he couldn't turn off. 

Danny nodded, still looking torn before turning to the door. Before he left, he did say something, his back to Stiles, hand on the door handle. His voice was low and quiet, carrying across the silent room like a fell voice on the wind. "I'm so sorry, Stiles."

He left then, closing the door to his room softly. That left Stiles alone. Alone for longer a time than he had since the day before. The day before school, before the lacrosse game, before his kidnapping and the woods and before the last moments with his pack. He did not realize how daunting it was until he finally had all of it come to him at once, but he couldn't go back now.

The past 24 hours, a harsh contrast to the one before. He needed this. He needed time and if he was going to spend it with tears running down his face, then so be it. So he left himself feel it all. He let it all flow like a dam broke and it all flooded out. Hot, wet tears poured from his eyes, he breathing coming quicker in heaves. The anger, the despair, the hurt, the betrayal, all of it pushed into those tears as they flowed. He stayed in his room, clutching his pillow as he released his tears. If the hours started ticking by, he did not care. He didn't have it in him anymore. 

 

 

Danny didn’t want to close the door. He didn’t want to leave Stiles. What happened to the skinny, overactive, talkative kid he knew? It was like a hard slap in the face at what he had seen. Even worse what he had heard. He never imagined it was as bad as this. Some part of him knew that having Stiles in the pack was dangerous, not because he was a liability-far from it-but because he was human. It is not rare for humans to be part of packs. Packs were often made up of more than just werewolves, Danny knew this, yet seeing Stiles over the past year, running around with Scott and Derek, now Isaac, Erica and Boyd, he couldn't help but notice some things.

Like how tired Stiles looked. How the bags under his eyes seemed to progressively get worse. Usually he would notice whenever something was going on, something that had the pack on edge, where it seemed they were all constantly moving, evading and seen in the oddest places that most teenagers should not be.

Danny didn't care about where they all were at times, he just cared if they were okay. He learned long ago that the supernatural world was unkind, harsh even, and he lost track of the number of times he kicked himself for not helping the pack, for not letting telling them that he knew, knew about it all.

When Scott and Stiles started acting funny, being seen around Derek Hale, Danny didn't pay it too much mind. Those two always got into trouble, but after seeing Derek hanging around, it was like an itch on his brain he couldn't shake. He knew about Derek, about the Hale family. He learned the truth about them years ago, before his parents left. The sheer heartbreak that man must have faced day after day after the fire, Danny couldn't imagine and a part of him went out to Derek. The man often looked like he was mad or indifferent about the world, often with a scowl on his face, yet there were times, brief times that those scowls would disappear. Like when Danny saw him with Scott and Stiles one day on the street. The small smirk he had, just a hint of it, making his features brighter. Danny couldn't help but smile at that, at the way Scott and Stiles were giggling with each other, most likely at something that they did or were thinking, Derek's smirk unbeknownst to them, but no less there.

Danny has kept in touch with what was going on with the pack through his sources. Often coming across bits and pieces of information himself, before eventually putting them together. He knew about Derek being the new Alpha, about the turning of the others three. Jackson was the biggest surprise to him though. His best friend, the boy he knew for as long he remembered, one day seemed to change. He became more secretive, often more aggressive in his movements and commentary. It wasn't until after Jackson asked him to work on some video footage of him sleeping that he got suspicious. Then through the grapevine the puzzle started to come together, telling him that Jackson was bitten by Derek, that he knew about the supernatural. Danny was over the moon with that. He thought finally!

He was ecstatic to tell Jackson everything, everything he knew and had known for years. He wanted someone else to talk to about all this. He at one point wanted to Jackson when they were younger, but he never seemed open-minded enough to want to understand. So Danny kept it hidden, did what he could to help Jackson turn the other way if things got a little too out there. Now that Jackson knew, he felt relieved that he did not have to do that anymore. Of course it all went to Hell, when he learned that something was wrong with Jackson. The bite was not going to plan.

He wanted to help even more then. Having tried to coax his best friend into telling him the truth. He tried through many means, yet each failed. He even asked Lydia if she knew, but after Jackson broke up with her, she was not willing to help. She tried her best to not care, but Danny knew better. He was forced to watch as the people he grew up with drifted into the very world he could not tell them about for years, still having to hide it from them, because to them he was still a clueless human who can't know, who shouldn't know. 

How could this all happen? After everything he had heard, everything he saw, Danny was at a loss. He felt even more helpless now, even though he felt relieved that Stiles finally realized that Danny knew about the supernatural, he also felt greatly saddened and powerless to help Stiles. For many reasons. He couldn’t believe Scott, of all people. He and Stiles were supposed to be as thick as thieves, always stuck to one another no matter what. For years they were practically all each other had in the way of friends. After Scott got bit that changed, more for Scott, but it wasn't like Stiles was going to give up being his best friend regardless of how popular Scott had gotten. The boy got Allison, co-captain of the lacrosse team, new abilities, Danny could understand the sudden rise in fame. To be honest, he was surprised Stiles had not been jealous. He was surprised it had taken this long for something to happen, where Stiles noticed how Scott had moved away from him. Danny could see it, the way he often left Stiles alone to be with Allison, the way he barely paid attention to him when he was talking. Lately, he had seen Scott around Isaac than Stiles.

Yet how could he do this? Stiles was hurt, in fact he had been getting hurt for a while, but nothing as serious as this. Bruises were one thing, but this was crossing a very fine line. Where was Scott then? Why had he not helped Stiles? Did he not care what this would do to Stiles? Where was Scott now that his best friend was seriously injured?!?

Danny headed downstairs, his anger and sadness, evident on his face he had no doubt. He walked down, about to head out the door before thinking better of it. He didn't want to leave Stiles alone, not with the injuries he had sustained. Yes, he knew Deaton had pushed a little magic into helping him heal, but Danny would feel better, seeing Stiles up on his feet again. So he would wait. 

And it looked like he was not the only one.

Deaton was still here, sitting on the arm of a recliner chair, staring out the front window. Dawn was approaching, soft pale light slowly coming into the dark house with each passing moment. It would still be another two hours before the sun would rise, but the sky was preparing, the black and dark blue slowly fading as the sun got closer to the horizon. Deaton's face was calm, but trouble. Danny knew him well enough to know that he was in deep thought. When Danny came closer, he stood against the threshold, separating the foyer from the family room, crossing his arms allowing Deaton to notice him. 

He saw Deaton release a heavy sigh before swallowing. He raked a hand down his face like he was clearing away the feeling of sleep. "How is he," Deaton asked, breaking the silence of the dark house.

Danny shrugged. "Given everything that's happened, how do you think he is?"

Deaton nodded, his face still the same old cryptic mask of no emotion other than understanding. Danny wanted to grit his teeth at the sight. Would it kill the man to show emotion for once? Maybe it would help with having a conversation with him. "He needs time."

"He needs more than that. He needs his friends. He needs his pack." Danny replied harshly. "This was never supposed to happen."

"You know by now, Danny, that this world is anything but predictable."

Danny was getting annoyed at this man's impassive tone. "That is not what I meant. Where was his pack? A pack is supposed to protect each other. Stiles was kidnapped and nearly raped and killed, where the Hell were they! I know Stiles can be annoying, I know he can be hard-headed and obnoxious, but he is loyal to a fault. Nobody would want to hurt him! Let alone kill him!" He felt his anger rising. His voice was showing it as it elevated in tone. 

Deaton said nothing. Danny knew what the answer was. They were too busy. Scott was busy caring about Allison and his mother, not wondering what would happen to his best friend. Derek was off trying to find Erica and Boyd after they left, he wouldn't think about Stiles. He supposed he should not blame them for being distracted, but that was no excuse. A pack was like a family, or at least it was supposed to be. They always stuck together, knew when help was needed. It was supposed to be a feeling that ran deep within them, the feeling of closeness, of trust, love, acceptance, protection. Was there any of that? Did Stiles feel any of that for them or they him? Or was this never a pack to begin with?

That is what Danny feared the most. There was no pack, probably never was. There was just a group of people, brought together in different ways, but never forming what they should to help and care for each other.

"They failed him," Danny spoke quietly. The weight of those words spilling out into the room, laying over everything like a tense blanket. Danny could feel the sting behind his eyes at the words. If he felt like this for Stiles, after all that he had suffered, he could only imagine how the boy must feel. 

"Yes," Deaton replied softly, for the first time laced with sadness in his tone. It caught Danny by surprise. He could see Deaton's mask still in place, but the man was now looking at him. His dark eyes deeply troubled, worried, and sad. "It does not matter who he is or what he is like," the vet stated. "You know hunters with no code will do anything to get what they want."

Those words rang with more truth than they should have. Danny wanted them to be false, but he could not fool what he knew.

"What...what now?" Danny didn't know what to do. He wanted to help Stiles. He wanted to help him heal, knowing that it was going to be hard for him, for a while. Yet he also wanted to go and punch Scott in his crooked jaw. He wanted to punch him for Stiles. Same thing with Derek and Jackson. He wanted to punch every single one of them. Jackson more for not trusting him to know the truth, even though he already did. What can he say, it's been a long night.

 Deaton took a deep breath before releasing and clasping his hands together on his lap. "I don't know." The man looked pained to say it but Danny figured that there bound to be a time where Deaton didn't have an answer. "Everyone is scattered. Last I heard, Scott was with Allison. Mr. Lahey was with Scott's mother. Ms. Martin was helping Mr. Whittmore and Derek," he stopped, his brow furrowing, "Derek was still looking for his other two betas."

"And Stiles? What will happen to him," Danny asked, looking up at the ceiling on instinct, hoping Stiles was at least getting some sleep, although he highly doubted it.

"I'm afraid that is up to him," Deaton followed.

Danny nodded. There was nothing else that could be done. Stiles was hurting and would be hurting for who knows how long. Maybe Danny should pay a visit to Scott and not only knock some sense into him, but also tell him what he has done. Tell him to damn well fix it. Stiles needed his best friend, he needed people around to help him. The only problem was Danny was not sure if Stiles would want that at this point. 

"Does he know," Deaton asked suddenly, startling Danny out of his thoughts.

Danny knew what he meant immediately. It made his body go rigid, like a shock went through him. Deaton was asking about Stiles, about a part of him that Stiles clearly was not aware of. Danny had no idea what happened with the hunters. Stiles was not exactly forthcoming with the information and Danny was not going to push him for more. The fact that they were dead was enough for him. That was all he cared about when he asked. He wanted to make sure those men got what they deserved. It was clear they had, but he had no clue of how. Stiles seemed to be holding something back from him. If he looked deeper though, he was able to sense it. Deaton was able to as well.

"No," Danny said, shaking his head. "No, he doesn't know."

"He will," Deaton said solemnly again. "Stiles is smart. He will find out."

"Would it be such a bad thing if he does?"

Deaton shook his head, getting up from the chair, folding his arms over his chest, looking down at the floor. "No, but he will need help afterwards. He should have help now, but he first needs time. It will only make things worse if he finds out this when he is not ready."

"And if he is never ready," Danny said, looking up to the ceiling again.

Deaton scoffed. "This is Stiles. Young Mr. Stilinski is stronger than he is given credit for. This night proves that." Deaton finished with a small smile. He too looked up at the ceiling, the same smile in place, a small glint in his eyes. "He will bounce back from this."

"So in the meantime-"

"In the meantime, he needs to work things out," Deaton said. "No one can tell him how to go about this. His life has taken a drastic turn tonight and time will tell how much Stiles will be able to handle."

Danny nodded. He didn't know what else to propose. Deaton was right. They could not force Stiles to accept everything. He needed to cope his own way. It still left Danny deeply saddened for the boy. He still thought about the way Stiles flinched from him as Danny reached for him. That was not like Stiles. That was not the Stiles he knew. He wanted to help him, but he had no idea how to go about it. He did not know what was appropriate and what was not. Stiles has gone through a lot of trauma, physical and mental even emotional in a very short amount of time. Normal coping and accepting practices would be thrown out the window with all this. One thing was for certain though, he would help Stiles, however he could. But there was something else.

"His life will never be the same," Danny said, allowing the truth to fill the space between the two men.

Deaton nodded, picking up his medical bag from the chair at his feet. He headed towards the door, brushing past Danny as he did. Danny felt the heat of his body and smelt the spicy aftershave and the smell of rubbing alcohol on the vet as he passed. Danny thought the man would not say anything else after that. Accepting the words as Danny had. When he stopped at the door, the door just barely cracked open, Deaton turned back, glancing at Danny with a melancholy face that surprised Danny into stillness.

"That is what saddens me the most." Deaton supplied, turning to leave and saying goodbye as he did, closing the door on the silent house and leaving Danny alone with a broken Stiles upstairs.

Chapter Text

Derek was not okay. He was so very far from okay that there were not enough words to describe how he was feeling. He was angry, more enraged that it made his blood boil. He felt sadness that it would easily be translated to grief and it ripped through his body taking his breath with it. A sickening feeling joined them, churning his gut at what he had done. Betrayal added to the mix, singing every crevice of his body, leaving a deep ache in it's wake. But above all else, the one thing he felt the most, could only be described as...hurt.

He felt it like a weight over his body, pressing in on him. Diving deep into his chest, reaching into his soul. All these emotions, all at once, it was overwhelming. 

Derek did know what to expect when he woke up that previous morning, but he did not imagine this.

He could still taste Gerard's blood in his mouth, the glint of glee and smugness in his eyes. Derek hated the man. Derek wanted to rip the man apart but was unable to. A part of him felt immense satisfaction as seeing the blood ooze drip out him, making his body fight off the bite, ultimately making him sick, but another part of him wanted to sink his claws into the man, effectively ridding the world from his blight. Derek hated that he didn't get the chance to go after the man when he turned and ran. Instead he was focused on Jackson and then he became focused on Stiles.

Stiles. 

He felt a deep ache, like a chasm opening in his chest, at the name. How could Stiles? Derek trusted him. He trusted the teenager. Or at least he was really beginning to. It was no secret that the two but heads a lot, especially when Scott was around too. They did not always see eye to eye, but they were on good terms. Stiles annoyed the hell out of him sometimes, but Derek could not deny the boy's good heart. At least until tonight. He thought of all people he had around, Stiles would be the least to betray him like this. Stiles was smart, he had to know what this would do to Derek. So why did he do it?

Was it to get back at Derek for almost killing Lydia? Derek admits he did make a mistake. He owns up to that. Was it for all the times Derek pushed him against walls or growled at him? He couldn't pinpoint any time that would make Stiles want to really hurt him. The boy risked his life to save his. He dove into a pool and held him up for two hours to save them both when Derek was paralyzed with kanima venom. Why go through all of that if he was planning to betray him?

Derek growled as ran back to his place, fuming and enraged. He burst through his door, going to his train car and throwing over a little table and clawing at his makeshift bed, and the sides of the steel car, leaving his claw marks behind. He kicked and punched at the enclosure, ignoring the pain it caused him as he let his emotions out, his memories wander. 

He thought back over the past months, returning to when the pack was formed. Derek was a new Alpha. The power that surged through him was euphoric and indescribable. He was stronger, faster, he had better senses than he ever had. He was able to see and hear far better than he was as normal wolf, which he honestly didn't think was possible. He had heard that about it through word of mouth and whispers, but he never thought they were hold truth or at least not much of it. What he did not hear about was what would come with it. The urge to have others, to have a pack. Everyone knew an Alpha needed a pack. Without one, the wolf could become savage or fall into depression. They could become an Omega. He knew what an Alpha needed, but he never thought it was an urge, one that would grind in his bones, shake and beg him to do what he needed to feel whole, to feel stable, like himself again. 

So he bit a couple of teenagers. He thought that would solve the problem. But it only brought more. Bitten wolves had little control when first turned and the younger they were, the control was even harder to maintain. It was true, he did feel better, more like he wouldn't go rabid. However, he still felt detached in way. 

He tried with the teenagers. He knew they were young, but they needed to understand the cost of what their new lives entailed. He never regretted giving them the bite, giving them the choice. He was incredibly proud of them as individuals to take that leap. What he was not sure of is if they were able to see past their own desires, their own wants, in order to see the full gravity of what he was offering. The training he made them go through, the hard lessons, he wanted them to be prepared. 

Even as he thought back, he had seen the divide between his established pack and Scott and Stiles. The two friends often at odds with Derek and his betas. They were not at each other's throats, but they also did not see eye to eye. Derek had thought that once he had his betas, Scott would join him and be a part of the pack. He strongly refused to be a part of Peter's when he was Alpha and crazy, but Derek thought the teen would join him. Even after coaching the beta of a few things, helping him to understand he supernatural nature and abilities, he knew Scott still found it hard to no longer be human, but he never thought Scott would refuse him as well. Derek did not think about Stiles joining his pack, partly because he knew the boy would if Scott would. Maybe that is where he went wrong. Never actually considering to offer Stiles, thinking it was inevitable because of Scott. He knew the boy had doubts about himself even though he never really voiced them. It's probable that Stiles never felt useful or needed around Scott or Derek.

Derek begged to differ at the number of times the boy has saved them.

Yet the betrayal was like a blind side. Between Scott and Stiles, he would have picked Scott for betraying him first. Not both of them. Never both of them. Yet they showed their true colors. Scott couldn't have come up with such an elaborate plan on his own. Stiles was more cunning. It was obvious the pair had worked together. The whole time at the warehouse Scott said nothing and did nothing to justify his actions. Stiles did.

His argument with Stiles was painful. It wasn't like in the past where it was a mixture of friendly banter and annoyance. No this was fueled by hurt and anger. On his part anyway. He couldn't care less about what Stiles was feeling. During that time, Derek's wolf was howling and growling at him, telling him something was wrong, yet he ignored it. He pushed it down, in favor of trying to make Stiles hurt. Trying to make him see what he had done. He knew he shouldn't have said some things. Some were things he didn't mean, like Stiles not being pack or being just human. Derek's wolf was whimpering at that, which he still ignored. He noticed Stiles' look of horror and hurt and Derek took that opportunity to run with it. He poured as much venom and betrayal into his words as he could. He wanted to hurt Stiles like he had been. He wanted to rip away the trust and faith he felt for the boy crumble it into making it seem like he never had it.

When Stiles had told him to listen to his heart, that he could always hear his truth, his wolf agreed with him. Derek almost faltered then. He didn't hear a stutter or jump in his heart, but it was beating so hard and so fast that he couldn't be sure. Stiles was smart and cunning when he wanted to be, so he shook himself from that temporary stasis, and pushed on, making sure his point was driven home. 

It hurt him to do it, but it also gave him a minor sense of satisfaction.

Derek sat down on the seat of the train car, his bleeding knuckles in his lap. He was restless and swirling with emotions and unbridled energy that exhausted him. He was so locked up in his own head that he didn't take notice of Peter coming near. The man was calm in his stance against the train door, his arms folded over his chest. His expression unreadable.

"Well," his uncle said plainly, "I can see your sulking."

Derek growled and flashed his eyes at his uncle. "Get out Peter."

"So you can be alone to wallow in self-pity."

Derek was fighting back his claws from coming out. "Before I rip your head off."

"Look, nephew," Peter said, stepping in to sit on the parallel seat from Derek's. "I know you are hurting. I know you are angry. But sitting here doing nothing will help no one."

Derek looked up annoyed and spread his arms out. "Well then please. By all means tell me what it is I should be doing."

"Stop acting like a child," Peter growled back in exasperation, "and fix it."

"Fix what." Derek asked folding his arms over his chest. "There is nothing to fix. Gerard has been dealt with, Erica and Boyd are gone, and so is Isaac. What is left?"

Peter seemed to soften some then. His expression went from annoyed to sad. "Like I said. You fix it. You have made mistakes, I would know about making mistakes," the man said sadly, "Moping around and being all broody is not going to help."

"I am not moping around. I am pissed. Right now, two betas are missing and my pack is scattered."

Peter nodded. "Fine," he said. "What makes you think they will come back?"

"I am their Alpha."

Peter scoffed, getting up again to stand in the open door. "Like that amounts to much of anything anymore. Alpha's only have so much sway, they lose that sway when their betas drift away from them. When they no longer want to trust you."

Derek closed his eyes tightly, feeling his wolf wanting to take over and go out into the wilderness and run. Run from everything. It was howling in anguish and sadness. Derek was doing the same thing, apart from the howling. He felt it deep in his bones. "I am trying. They are young but they are learning. I am trying, Peter." 

His uncle's blue eyes shining with...sadness. It was something he had not seen on Peter's face for many years. The sight of the uncle he once knew very well. "If your truly believe you are trying hard enough, then what went wrong? Was this ever a pack?"

Derek stood frozen still. The words settling over him like a cold weight, chilling him from the outside in. Peter turned and walked out of the train station, heading up the stairs and out into the night. The words his uncle left behind were swirling through his thoughts. He wanted to shake them away, ignored his uncle as he had become accustomed to over the years. Yet, his mind ran away from him, taking those words with it. Was Peter right?

As he thought over his own memories, he realized that despite everything he has done, all that he has worked for...it did nothing. If anything, it made matters worse. Thinking back when they were all together, he could see what they were. Scott and Stiles, although friends were drifting apart although Derek didn't care to understand why, Allison was no longer in the picture after the death of her mother. As for his betas, they too were becoming more distant. Distant from each other and from him. Erica and Boyd stayed close to each other, having discovered they deeply cared for one another. Isaac fell away from all of them, connecting with Scott more and more as time went on. Derek refused to see it then, but maybe he had felt it, which was why he pushed his betas so hard. He pushed them to be better, to do better. He only now realized that he was pushing them further away from him, hurting them in the process. It was why Erica and Boyd ran. Why they ran from him.

It took his breath away at what he refused to see. Now it was all he could see. No matter how much he wanted to make excuses, he couldn't deny it. They may have been a pack at one point, or at least enough to get by. But now, they were divided. Some much more than others. The cold, hard truth was there was no pack. Derek felt an overwhelming amount of guilt at his hand in that.

He stood up then, shaking himself from his grief. He had to fix this. He lost too much already and whether they knew it or not, he did care for his betas. He had to find them and help them understand. He had to make it right. He wiped the blood from his hands and headed out to go to the Preserve.

He had his betas to find.

 

 

 * * * * * * *

Stiles awoke to a sun filled room. 

He felt the sun just slightly on his wrist as it hung over the edge of his bed. The sun’s rays peaking through corner of his window under the blinds, warming the skin, radiating up his arm. His room was empty, undisturbed, and he could see the dust particles in the air in the sun’s light wafting through the air.

Stiles rolled over on his bed, avoiding his back, but just barely putting enough eight on his front to feel any of his still healing wounds. In all honesty he felt  his aches and pains, but they were not as prominant. Whatever Deaton did to him last night had helped tremendously even though he would not admit it to the man. 

He had no doubt the Druid had used some of his magic to help him heal, pushing it into his body to speed up the process considerably. On some level Stiles was grateful, but like he said, he didn’t want to admit it.

His head was buried in his pillow. He could smell his shampoo mixing with the salt of his leftover tears from the previous night. The gray pillow case was still a little damp and he could see little smudges or dried spit on the fabric from when he cried out in both anguish and pain. He had tried to muffle the sounds as best he could as the night went on, but he didn’t really care. No one was at he house with him. He sent Deaton and Danny away, wanting to be alone in the silence of his empty house. 

He didn’t keep track of how long he cried but, he figured, at some point the exhaustion and emotional and physical drain he felt was enough to knock him out. Stiles didn’t want to get up out of bed again, didn’t want to face the day, and most certainly didn’t want to face the truth of the previous night. A part of him was hoping everything was a dream, a nightmare. That he had woken up after a very traumatizing, vivid dream during his REM sleep and none of it was real. 

Of course that was foolish.

The left over bruises and cuts on his exposed arms were proof enough. Not to mention the ache that ran through his body. He felt better, but definitely not great. He had no idea if he would feel ‘great’ for a long while if ever again. 

He heard a thumpin going on downstairs. It alerted to him that his dad was home. He turned over to look at the clock on his nightstand, signaling almost 2 in the afternoon. 

Marilee groaned at the time, having slept for most of the day, but since school was almost over, he didn’t care. It was the weekend anyway. And what a weekend it is, he thought to himself. 

Feeling heavy as lead, he rolled himself out of bed, stretching his long limbs as best he could. The coiled, tightness of them making the ache of his body more noticeable, causing him to wince. He walked slowly to his door to head to the bathroom. No one in the hall was a blessing. He had no idea what his body looked like now, but he still didn’t want his dad to see. He stumbled to the bathroom, closing the door behind him, before looking in the mirror. He almost wanted to cry again. 

Not because he looked worse for wear, but because he looked...better! He still had his cuts and bruises, but they were not as bad. The ones on his face were still there, but looked days old. The cuts on his eyebrow and lip were thinner and scabbed over, no longer so much as scratches. His torso was still heavily bruised, but they looked more purpleish yellow, like they had a few days to heal. 

Stiles didn’t bother checking the larger cuts on his chest, gut, or shoulder blades. He would save those for later. He did poke around them a little bit, regretting it immediately when they stung and he had to stifle a gasp and whimper at the same time. 

Over all he didn’t seem to bad, which surprised him and made him wonder how much of Deaton’s ‘knowledge’ the man did use. He wanted to take a shower, get all the grime off himself, but since he body was mostly cleaned and bandaged from the vet, he decided to wait till later. If it meant he would not have to see the larger cuts on his body yet then that was a bonus.

He brushed his teeth and used the bathroom quickly before turning away from his reflection to head downstairs. He figured it was time to face the music of his father, especially after what happened last night. Now that he thought about it, he was surprised his father had not already barged in to get answers from him after he got home. That made him worry.

Did his dad know about the Jeep? Did Danny fill him in on what happened? What all did Danny and Deaton tell him? Why had his dad not made himself known?

stiles hurried down the stairs, finding the place empty. The foyer and living room void and any person. He could hear some clattering in the kitchen and he headed inside, expecting to see his father attempting to make lunch. He couldn’t help but wonder if his dad would even talk to him at this point.

The person he found was not his father. It was Danny. 

The boy was still wearing the same clothes from last night. He was rummaging through the top cabinets bringing out plates and then moving towards the stove, stirring some contents in a large pan. Stiles was surprised to see the boy here, moving around the kitchen like he had been here for years. The whole time his back was towards him. As Stiles stared, he could see the ease with which Danny moved, his ear the music playing softly from his phone on the countertop.

Stiles was about to say something, before not really knowing what to say. Danny beat him to the punch.

”Hey,” the boy said without looking at him or turning towards him. 

“How did you know I was here,” Stiles asked, ignoring the other questions he had going through his head.

”I heard you upstairs and heard the creaking of your stairs as you came down,” he said simply. All valid points. I guess you don’t need werewolf hearing to be observant, Stiles thought. 

“What are you doing here,” Stiles asked quietly. He didn’t want Danny to get offended especially after last night, but he was curious. Danny didn’t have to be here. He already did his due diligence and helped him last night. He didn’t need the boy to drop everything to keep an eye on him. While Stiles had questions about Danny and his awareness of the supernatural in the town, he still didn’t want to pry and make him feel like he was being interrogated. So why was Danny here?

Danny had stopped cooking to turn and look at Stiles. His expression was soft, just a hint of concern on his features. His dark eyes were unyielding, but kind. “I never left.”

Yet again at a loss for words, which is starting to become a common occurrence, Stiles just said, "Oh."

He didn't know what to make of that. What could he say? Should he say thank you? There was so much running through his mind that he has barely had time to file it all to work through on his own. With what happened to him, finding out that Danny knows just about everything, Deaton's visit, his guilt issues with his dad, and now Danny having stayed over night, it was all starting to stack up in a tower. He had no idea where to start to sort everything out. 

When Danny pushed a plate towards him, loaded with rice and mixed vegetables and strips of steak, made up in the dish of stir fry-Stiles barely remembering that all of that was laid out the previous day-he forgot about his problems and focused on one. His stomach was rumbling and his mouth was watering. The aroma from the food was delicious, so he pushed his thoughts away and took the plate to sit at the table, the afternoon light spilling in the window, warming him as he sat down.

Danny joined him with a plate of his own. He sat across from Stiles, the small table just giving them about four feet between each other. When Stiles started to eat, he couldn't help the slight moan that came out as his taste buds fired. Even if Danny was here, he didn't bother hiding the sound, simply enjoying the food. He earned that right.

Danny didn't seem to care, he just hid a small smile as he dug into his own plate. They sat in silence for a bit, each just eating. Stiles kept his eyes down, watching the sun that lingered on his arm on the table, illuminating his skin, and highlighting the hairs on his arm, making them brighter. He could feel Danny's gaze on him, but he didn't look up. The other boy was silent, but Stiles knew he wanted to say something, obviously not knowing how to speak the words he wanted to. After another few minutes of quiet, Stiles felt tense under the watchful eye of his classmate. He knew that Danny was not going to hurt him, but he felt like his skin was tingling from the attention, making him aware that he was not alone in the house.

"Thanks," Stiles found himself saying, moving the rice and vegetables around on his plate. He still didn't look up, but he did see Danny still in his eating. "Thanks for your help last night."

"You're welcome," the boy said. Another moment of silence followed before Danny spoke up again. "How are you feeling?"

Stiles rolled his shoulder, still feeling the ache run through his body. His limbs felt like a mixture of jello and heavy weights. He felt the pull of his skin where the cuts were. Almost like it was being pulled tight over his bones. The more he thought about his injuries, the more they seemed more noticeable. They were noticeable, but they were more than bearable now.

"I'm okay," he said honestly. It was a surprise, but he truly did feel like he was going to be fine. He knew it could have been much worse, what he walked away with, but he was beginning to heal. Or was it still healing since it appeared that his injuries were a few days old now? "I feel better. I still ache and it will take time for my skin to go back to normal, but it is better than it was."

Danny nodded, but he had a frown on his face. "That wasn't really what I meant."

Stiles froze mid-chew then. He looked at the boy across from him, taking in the straight line of his shoulders, the frown on his lips, the concerned edge in his brown eyes. Stiles knew what he meant. It wasn't just the physical part Danny was concerned about. If Stiles was honest, then no he did not feel okay. Not anywhere near okay. If he had to put it in words, it would be like he was screaming on the inside. He wanted to scream along with it. Stiles could feel the tears still within him, just itching to break free again. His entire body felt like it was waiting for him to break all over again. He was hurt, angry, grief-stricken, he felt...what? He felt like he was being ripped apart with each passing moment. If he looked deeper, he could feel a darkness, like a hole deep inside him, waiting to swallow him completely. He felt...hollow. 

Stiles swallowed thickly before answering. "I'm fine." Even he could hear the lie in his voice.

"You don't have to pretend Stiles," Danny said softly. "You went through things that were traumatic. It's okay to-"

"To what?" Stiles asked harshly. He pushed away the rest of his food, eating most of it, but forgetting about it entirely now. He was getting angry. He knew Danny was still trying to help, but why? He didn't want help. More than anything, he didn't want him to see him like this. He and Danny weren't friends. They just were classmates. They were on good terms, but there was not much of an emotional bond between them. Stiles didn't want Danny, or anyone, to see him like this. He was on the verge of breaking. He was battered, bruised, and cracking and he was afraid of what would happen if it all came crashing down. He vaguely felt the cold lick of a panic attack coming, but he was more angry than afraid.

"To feel hurt," Stiles continued. "To feel upset, feel angry. Ya think Danny."

Danny put his fork down, he body tense, but he was calm in the face of Stiles' rising emotions. "Yes," he said. "You have every right to be. So why don't you?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Let it out," Danny said, calming, leaning back in his chair.

Stiles shook his head, pushing back from the chair to stand. "I did enough of that last night. You were here right? I have no doubt you heard enough."

The sad look that crossed Danny's face made Stiles want to punch something. It was like seeing the himself in the mirror all over again. The sadness, the pathetic look of what happened to him. The pity. He hated it. It was only a matter of time before he saw the pity in someone's eyes. He saw the portions of it in Deaton's eyes last night, but he was too angry to take full notice. He could take the sad looks or the anger, but not pity. He has had enough of that. Ever since his mom, he had plenty of those to last a life time and he did not need more. Not for himself.

Danny didn't say anything to his comment. He was stonily silent and he barely moved, like he was waiting for Stiles to burst. "What are you doing here Danny," he asked, his voice tight and husky.

"I told you," Danny said crossing his arms over his chest, almost looking like a stubborn child.

"No," Stiles replied, "you said you never left. Why? Why are you here?"

"Because I am here to help," Danny said, his tone getting hard. "I want to help."

Stiles couldn't help the scoff that came out. He knew he was being an ass, but he didn't care. In the back of his mind he was glad for Danny, but he didn't want him here. Not to watch him fall apart.  "You don’t have to pretend for me. You do not have to drop everything you’re doing to be here. I know what charity is, Danny, and I frankly do not want it."

Danny's eyebrows went up. The shock on his face evident along with the flash of hurt in his eyes. He leaned forward again, holding up his hands in a placating way. "This is not charity Stiles. This is not about pity. I am here because I want to be. I want to help."

Stiles could hear the earnest in his voice. Yet, he still was confused. If Danny was not here to take pity on him, then why? A part of him was in relief that someone was there with him, for him. The other was tense. He was partially waiting for the other shoe to drop. He was left alone. He had no pack, his best friend was uncaring about him, so who was left? His dad was no doubt avoiding him or going to avoid him for a while. His constant lying had taken a large toll on their relationship for a while now. So who was left? 

Danny stayed the night. He stayed the night, listening to the cries and wails Stiles had made of grief and anger. Stiles sent him away, wanting to be alone, wanting to be swallowed up so that his reality would disappear. Yet here he was, cooking for him and asking him to be honest about his well being. Wanting to help him, even though Stiles had no idea how he would do that.

"Why are you so eager to help me," he asked quietly. "God knows I haven't given you a reason to. We have never been close or really friends per say."

He regarded him with a look Stiles couldn't place. He clasped his hands together on the table, not taking his eyes off Stiles. "Haven't you?

"What?"

"Given me a reason," he said simply.

"I'm not following," Stiles said in confusion.

Danny sighed, pausing for a moment before answering, his kind eyes firm, and never leaving Stiles' as he spoke. "Believe it or not Stiles, you have given me many reasons. For starter you are good person. You put those you care above first with little regard to yourself, if last night is any indication on how you protected the others. Even though it is stupid that you did that, I respect and understand it." Danny paused just to take a breath. "You are incredibly smart, enough to rival Lydia of all people. You annoy me at times and you are hyperactive that it makes my head spin, but your energy is sometimes boundless that it's a breath of fresh air."

Stiles was stunned into stillness. He was not expecting all of that. He could feel a slight blush run up his cheeks. He was never one to take compliments without feeling shy. Danny didn't just mean those things as compliments, he was speaking plainly, matter-of-factly too.

"In all honesty," Danny continued, "if you would have me, I would like to be a friend to you. I understand if you do not want that and if you want time to reflect or be alone. I will not push. Just, you don't have to. Okay?"

Stiles looked away from the dark eyes. He could feel the sting of tears coming and he pushed them down as far as he could. He regarded the teenager with a hard look, trying to decide if there was an ulterior motive for his kindness. It was stupid, even as he thought about it. This was Danny. Danny was the most popular guy in school next to Jackson. He was more liked too. Everybody liked Danny. Danny was nice to everybody and understanding. He barely ever criticized and when he did, it was out of playfulness. Stiles had no clue how Beacon Hills could keep someone like Danny, but he wasn't going to question it. Stiles felt bad for acting like a douche earlier, but as Danny said, he had a right to. Danny was trying to help and he has already. The boy stayed the night, distantly offering support, even if Stiles didn't know it or want it. The very thought made Stiles want to choke out an apology. It was true that he had no one else. No one else to know what he was going through, except Danny. It would be nice to have someone to talk to, especially someone who knew about the supernatural world.

So Stiles swallowed hard, keeping back most of the tears, even if he felt his eyes become a little wet. He nodded towards Danny, offering a small smile along with it.

Danny smiled back, warm and genuine, before he pushed Stiles' plate back towards him in silent gesture for him to finish eating. Stiles obliged, sitting back down and eating his still warm food. They ate in silence for a bit before Danny got him talking. Stiles knew it was a way to distract him from his thoughts and he was grateful for it. They talked about school and about lacrosse. Eventually moving onto their likes and dislikes. Stiles was surprised to find they shared similar interests in music and books. They had different views on activities, where Danny was more active and physical, Stiles was more laid back and preferring to do let his mind do the activity. They joked on a few things, mostly about the supernatural, Stiles sharing some details on Jackson being a werewolf now. He told Danny about what happened when he the kanima, but kept it rather short, not going into a lot detail. Stiles got the feeling that Danny wanted to talk to Jackson, but did not know how to go about it. Their conversation went back and forth easily, the atmosphere being light and warm in the afternoon. Stiles appreciated that.

"You're not going to school on Monday, are you," Danny had said after a moment of silence later in the early evening. It was not a question.

Stiles flinched a little at the mention of school. Not because of the classes or homework like what most kids would be dreading, but because of what waited for him there. Rather who waited for him there. Stiles had so far gotten no calls or texts from Scott that day. His phone was dead silent all day. Danny's phone went off a few times, but he passed it off as just some of the other lacrosse buddies asking about having a little game on Monday since the season was over. Stiles doubted that was all, mainly because there were two times Danny looked at his phone when it went off. His face would turn down into a frown and then he would push his phone away without answering whoever it was. Stiles had a good guess who it was, but didn't say anything. 

If Stiles was being honest, he was planning on avoiding school. It was almost out anyway. They only had two days left. Yeah, it was stupid to have to go to school for two days of the week, but he didn't make the school year hours. What can you do? What he could do, was avoid the place though. He didn't want tot see Scott. He didn't want to talk to him or be in the same room with him. His best friend had worked with Gerard, gone behind his back to help and then betray the man. Not to mention Stiles was kidnapped and tortured and Scott had not looked for him, had not cared to look for him. Stiles knew where he stood in Scott's life and it was not high on the totem pole. So if he could put off seeing him then he would.

Stiles shook his head, confirming Danny's statement anyway. Danny nodded slowly, seeming at odds of what to say.

"You want to go see a movie on Monday," Danny asked, trying to lighten the mood again. "I hear the new Avengers movie is really good."

Stiles smiled then, nodding his head. He was glad Danny didn't push him to go to school, to face Scott or the others. He was glad Danny was trying to allow him to go about it at his pace. He could do that. He had to. If Danny wanted to help distract him and give him the opportunity to slowly feel more like himself as he healed, then he would grasp at that. He would fake smile until it started to feel more genuine. Fake it till he made it, he could do that.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Stiles spent the weekend with Danny. He had to admit it was nice. It would be nicer if his dad was around. He hadn't seen his dad. Rather his dad was avoiding him. Saturday evening, he expected to see his dad come home, but he never did. He was getting worried when his regular time of arriving home had come and gone. When it was long since dark, pushing almost midnight, his dad texted him and said he was staying at work, working a double. Stiles couldn't help but feel guilty at that. But he figured that his dad would come home in the morning and he would be able to talk with him then. 

He was sorely mistaken. 

His dad never came home. Instead he got a message sometime in the night that he was going to sleep at station, since multiple deputies were out and they had to make up for the ones that were killed by the kanima. Stiles could understand that, at least he tried, but he also felt even worse. His dad was doing what he could to avoid him. After the Friday night, his dad was mostly likely worried, but knew that Stiles would not tell him the truth. Stiles knew his dad well. He always lost himself in his work, dangerously so, even going so far to affect his health if he was really worried about something. He did the same for his mother and now he was doing it with his son.

Danny had come over both days, keeping him company. He left late on Saturday, waiting to see if Stiles was okay until his dad got home. Stiles hated the quiet after Danny left. He tried to tune it out with the TV, flipping through channels, but nothing worked. His mind kept drifting towards his dad. He was worried, but he felt unbelievably guilty at being the cause for his dad's avoidance. He knew the strain his lying has put on his relationship with his father. He wanted to fix it, to repair the damage, but he didn't know how without telling him the truth. He couldn't do that. If he did that then his dad would be in more danger. He was already a target for being an officer of the law and the sheriff, he couldn't add the knowledge of the world that was kept in the shadows.

At some point on Saturday night, he fell into a restless sleep, waking in the early morning from a nightmare. He was sweaty and felt icky, so he took a shower then. Finally being able to see the cuts under the bandages. They all had stitches in where Deaton tried to close them and let them heal with as little scarring as possible. The burn mark was uncovered, but he figured there was little to do with it but keep it clean and let it heal. Stepping into the shower, the warm water stung on his cuts, but he allowed the water to wash over him. He gently cleaned his aching body, but avoided the cuts so as to not open them. He patted himself dry and then re-bandaged what he could. He did a better job this time now that he had some rest and wasn't beaten blood and nearly senseless.

He didn't get much sleep that night, choosing instead to watch Netflix instead. The next morning, was just as silent as the previous night. Around mid-morning, he texted Danny, asking him to come over. He came over a little later after saying he was meeting with someone for a little bit before coming over. 

When he did, he came with a slight frown, but brightened it when he saw Stiles. Stiles however, didn't pass the chance to ask him about it. 

"What wrong," he asked, immediately seeing the sudden rigid look of Danny's back. 

"It's nothing," the Hawaiian boy said, trying to brush it off. The look in his eyes said otherwise.

"Danny," Stiles said in minor chastisement. 

"I went to see Deaton," Danny said quietly. Looking very much like a kid who got caught doing a bad thing.

Stiles had to admit that he didn't like it, but not for the reason Danny might think. He did not trust Deaton as far as he could throw him, but he wasn't about to prevent Danny from visiting the man, even though he was not aware that they were friends. He thoughts Deaton didn't have any friends, just injure animals to care for. 

So he shrugged. "Okay," he said. "Is that bad?"

Danny raised his eyebrows, but recovered quickly. "No, no I just. I had to ask him something. He also wanted to know how you were doing."

"Of course he did," Stiles said dryly. He headed back into his leaving room with the other boy behind him. They sat on the couch Stiles a little more carefully, being cautious of his cuts on his shoulder and gut.

"He gave me this," Danny said, handing over a little tube. It was unmarked, no label on its white surface.

Stiles twisted it in his hand a bit before opening it. Squeezing just a bit to see a minty green cream on the inside. It was kinda chunky, but it had smell earthy. The faint aroma of something like witch hazel coming from it. He recognized that smell from Deaton's place before. "What is it?"

Danny leaned back in the couch. "He said it's a special herb-based cream. He said to put it on the cuts and burn. Do not rub it in, but let it sit and absorb. He said it would help them to heal better."

Stiles wasn't sure about it. Given the fact it was from Deaton, he didn't want to use it just to spiteful. However, Deaton had never done anything to poison him before, not to mention he was a Druid. Druid knew about more natural remedies to help heal injuries. So he took the tube, but would think about applying it later. 

"Thanks," Stiles said, giving Danny a pat on the shoulder. The boy smiled some, but the same look was still in his eyes. The smile didn't reach his eyes and his features were still tight. "What else are you not telling me?"

Danny looked like he wanted to argue, but thought better of it. His shoulder drooped, sagging further into the couch. He looked worried which in turn made Stiles worry. He had enough to worry about, he wasn't sure he could worry about something else.

"Erica and Boyd are missing," Danny said.

Stiles went still. The mention of the betas' making him shiver all over. He was temporarily back in the basement with them. Seeing their faces, the blood and dirt on their skin. He could still see the tears in Erica's eyes and hear the growls from Boyd's throat. Shaking himself out it before he fell to deeply, he thought about what to say. Danny didn't know about Erica and Boyd being there. He didn't know that they were being tortured with him. 

"What," he found himself saying.

Danny nodded sullenly. "Deaton told me. He said that Derek has been looking for them since Friday night. Peter had come by to check with Deaton to see if he had heard anything, even seen them."

"Has he?"

Danny shook his head.

"But I-." Could he tell him that they were there? Should he tell him everything that happened in the basement. He wanted to trust Danny with it. The boy was worried about it obviously. Stiles was silently cursing himself for not doing more for the betas. Instead of worrying about his dad, he should have been worrying about them. He felt guilty for forgetting about them. Even after he vowed to go back for them, he didn't keep that. He could blame it on being to weak and banged up, but that was no excuse when two of the people he cared about were still out there, weak and banged up.

He wanted to tell Danny the truth. At least enough about the betas. So he did.

He started off telling him what happened when he was on the lacrosse field. Being taken by Gerard and then taken back to the Argent house and strung up in the basement. He told Danny about Erica and Boyd, saying that they were weakened with an electric current going through their bodies as well as wolfsbane. He did not mention much about his torture, bu focused on Erica and Boyd, bypassing most of what he went through while Erica and Boyd had to watch. He could feel the his throat constricting as he spoke, even though he wasn't really saying anything about himself. He heard the little stammer in his voice. He finished telling Danny that Gerard planned to keep them and then kill them later. 

When he was done Danny was tense. His hands were in fists and his eyes were dark with rage. His jaw was clenched and his muscles rippled up and down his arms. Stiles thought he was mad at Stiles just now telling him about this, but when Danny touched his shoulder, gripping it gently, he spoke, "We will find them."

"I don't know if they are still there," he admitted.

"Deaton said that Derek was trying to follow their trail in the Preserve, catching some faints trails before he lost them and then picking them up again later." Danny explained. "Deaton said that they he and Peter have been trying to narrow down the areas they might be."

"Was either of them the Argent house," Stiles asked, looking at Danny.

"I don't know."

This didn't make sense. Any trace of their scent in the woods would be long gone by now. Even if they were in the Preserve earlier on Friday it would be not be there after the hours of them being kidnapped. Yet there were scents that Derek and Peter were following. Stiles pushed his thoughts away from the Alpha, his throat closing up as the man's face rushed past in his mind. He had to focus of Erica and Boyd. If their scents were in the Preserve, it was possible that they were there after their kidnapping. Did they escape after Gerard and his goons left, after they took Stiles out there? Were they able to escape to run? A small part of him was hoping they did and were running as far away as possible. Another part was saying that they would not run that far. They were part of Derek's pack. If they did run, they would go back to their Alpha. Yet, if that was true, then they still wouldn't be missing. 

Stiles needed answers. He needed to know what happened to them. He feared they were taken from the house and killed then hidden somewhere. Another part feared they were still at the Argent's and Derek and Peter were on a wild goose chase. Yeah answers were needed. Stiles had spent enough time not trying to help them. He had some time to make up for.

He made a choice right then and there, not seeing much else to do, but swallowing the bubbling up fear that was inside him.

 

* * * * * * * 

 

Stiles had to get answers. There was only one way he could do it. He had to go to the source. Or at least he hoped it was the source. After finding out about Erica and Boyd yesterday, he couldn't get them out of his head. He couldn't wait any more, hoping for new information. He couldn't stop seeing their faces. Even in his dreams. They were always there. Every time he closed his eyes his mind was becoming more riddled with their faces. The look of pain and terror in their eyes as they stared at him. Tears pouring out of Erica's while Boyd's kept changing color from brown to gold. His nightmares were getting worse. The night he slept after he sustained his injuries and all was blissfully dreamless. He supposed it was his subconscious being too overwhelmed and exhausted from everything that he couldn't dream. Either way he was missing that. The past few night he woke in a cold sweat, his back plastered to his damp sheets, his hands gripping his blankets so hard that a small tear was starting to form on one of them. He would be breathing like he was on the verge of a panic attack and his heart would be like jackhammer, threatening to burst from his chest cavity and land in his lap.

It would take most of the rest of the night for him to calm himself down enough to feel any amount of exhaustion. He would barely go back to sleep, hovering between consciousness and sleep. Last night he didn't go back to sleep at all, instead heading over to his desk to do research, pulling up up to date maps of Beacon Hills and the county. Yeah, his nightmares were getting worse, and there was not much he could do about it. He would see Erica and Boyd, but mostly it would be Gerard and Grant that he saw. Their faces came first. Always they came first.

Stiles didn't go to school that day, deciding not too. He didn't want to see Scott or the others. No one stopped him, his dad having come home late last night after he was already in bed and then leaving early before Stiles even woke from his restless sleep.  He texted Danny before he was supposed to leave for school, telling him he was not ready. Danny was understanding and told him he would be over later after school. After their day together yesterday which consisted of more talking and lounging around watching movies or playing games, Danny left to go home after dinner, his dad still was not home. He made the decision to use today to get answers and he was going to hold true to that.

That found him walking towards the his destination. He parked his jeep a little ways down the street, hoping to not draw attention to himself. His destination was a house, a house that he knew well, especially after that night. He never imagined he would be back here, especially not willingly. He wanted to be anywhere else but here. It was like the place was looming over him, like shadow meant to land on him and engulf him, as he stood on the bottom step of the Argent's house.

Swallowing his fear and locking his jaw in a clench, he walked up to the door. Knocking on it with three short, hard knocks. A small part hoped that Allison would be the one to answer the door, but seeing as how he saw her leave a half hour earlier, heading to school, he knew that his hope was misplaced. When the oak door did open, he looked upon the man the house belonged to. The son of the man who haunted his dreams.

Chris Argent was surprised to see him, an eyebrow slightly cocked at him. He stood there looking at him with suspicion, but his stance was friendly.

"Mr. Stilinski," the man said, his deep voice laced with the same suspicion in his eyes, but no less kind. "Allison is not here. She left a little while ago. Shouldn't you be heading to school too."

"I'm not going," Stiles said, his voice wavering just a bit. He swallowed again, before clearing his throat. "I am not here to see her."

"Oh," Chris said, his scrutinizing gaze running over the boy before him again. "What can I do for you?"

"I am here for Erica and Boyd," Stiles said happy that his voice didn't waver this time. "I want to know where they are."

Chris didn't say anything for a moment. He then stepped to the side, opening the door wider to allow Stiles inside. Stiles' heart was fluttering in his chest and his palms were sweating. The looming house was even more looming and intimidating as he was given the option to enter. He didn't want to go in, but he figured it was better to talk in private than in the open where people could watch. However, he was tempted to keep this on the front of the house for the very reason that people could see, especially if Chris decided to hurt him in any way. Chris, though, had never showed any real animosity to Stiles, pretty much ignoring him. There interaction with each other was low so at least he could draw conclusions from that. He doubted Chris would actually harm him, but then he thought the same about his former principal. 

Even still, he needed answers. He wanted to find Boyd and Erica. 

He stepped inside. The large foyer was nice, showing classical architecture of the era it was aimed for. He didn't notice before, but then people tend to not notice small details when they are kidnapped and beaten before being taken to their execution. 

Chris stood to the side after closing the door. He indicated with his head for Stiles to follow, leading him to the kitchen. The man had a cup of coffee on the counter which he took upon re-entering the room. A newspaper was sitting on the counter top, open and waiting, where Chris also left it. It was a huge kitchen, made his at home look half it's size. It was nice too, with stainless steel appliances, white oak cabinets, and dark granite counter tops. It kinda made him jealous.

"I am afraid," Chris said drawing his attention to him as he stood with his coffee, "that I do not know where they are. I let them go in the Preserve and have not seen them since."

"So you did let them go," Stiles said, his thoughts of the two betas. He was feeling hopeful, glad that they were no longer bound and gagged. Relief was swelling in him at the fact they were not here. But it still posed the question of where they were. When Chris nodded, Stiles continued. "So where are they? Why have they not come back. People are looking for them."

"Like I said, I don't know. I left them in the Preserve to head where ever they wanted. I would have thought they went back to Derek."

Stiles swallowed at the mention of Derek's name. He didn't want to think about the Alpha. He has not seen the man since they all helped Jackson. Has not seen the man since he cast him out of the pack, if he was even a part of it to begin with. 

"Why should I believe you," he asked looking at Chris hard.

The man shrugged taking a drink of his coffee. "You don't have to. I have my code, I live and stand by it."

"Like your father did," Stiles asked with a hint of venom.

Chris frowned. Deep lines plagued his forehead. It made him look older than he was. Obviously this life, the life of a hunter, was hard. Stiles didn't care though. He didn't trust Chris, he didn't even trust Allison. He knew about Erica and Boyd being kidnapped by Gerard, but he also had help from Allison. Allison how shot arrows into them, helping her grandfather with his plan. Even if she didn't know about his plan to involve Stiles, she helped to harm her own classmates. 

"I will not make excuses for my father. He has had his own agendas for as long as I can remember. We used to live by our code, our honor of what we stood for. Even if my father does not, I still do," he said slowly, his voice slightly sad at the mention of his father, but strong nonetheless. 

Stiles nodded, taking in the fact that Chris was willing to stick with his code. The honorable code of the hunter, the one his family was supposed to always honor. Where had Gerard gone wrong? Where had Chris gone right under Gerard's tutelage? 

"So I'm supposed to believe that you had suddenly grown a conscience," Stiles asked, trying to hold onto more hope than he felt.

Chris shook his head. His expression grim. "I don't really care what you believe," he stated. "I will not get involved in this any further. I have to work to undo the things my father did. The betas are not my problem."

"How do you figure," Stiles asked. He was getting annoyed with righteous attitude Chris was using, while also pretending to be selfless. If the man was willing to fix things, shouldn't he start with this? "Considering it was your father who put all this in motion, I'd say you can help to undo it."

Chris glared at him. "You think so," he said tensely. "If I recall the rumors correctly, the betas ran from their Alpha, in hopes of leaving the territory. Hale, is not a good Alpha, despite what he thinks or even what you think." Stiles felt his eyebrows rise at the new information. Erica and Boyd were running from Derek? Chris kept going, not caring about Stiles' stance change. "Hale was never meant to be an Alpha and he knows it. He is going about this as he thinks. He has taken a group of teenagers and turned them, teenagers with little control on what they are, with little knowledge. If Hale has proven anything, well it was that he is just as lost as his betas."

Stiles shook his head. "But at least he is trying. He is trying to find them. Set things right," he replied. He didn't know why he was defending Derek. It wasn't his place to. He wasn't pack so why should he. Maybe a part of him was still trying to justify the Alpha's actions or maybe it was because he couldn't stop caring about the pack. He did still care. Otherwise he wouldn't be trying to find Erica and Boyd. He wasn't trying to find them for Derek though, that much he did know. He was doing this for them. He may not have been able to help them that night, but he certainly would now.

"What good is making up for past mistakes if we plan to do nothing," he asked the man before him.

"What do you plan to do," Chris asked rather sarcastically. "You are just a teenager yourself. You are human. You shouldn't even be part of this. That was the first mistake the Alpha and your friend Scott had done. Letting you tag along, knowing full well what the dangers entailed."

Stiles frowned. "You think I don't know how useless I am. Thanks for pointing it out." Stiles tried to not let the hurt show on his face. "I am in this for my friends. I won't walk away and let others get hurt. I won't walk away even if there is nothing I can do."

"Unwise choice," the hunter said. "As much as I respect that fire inside you, you will get yourself killed."

Stiles knew he was right. It wasn't the first time someone had told him that. Mostly it was Derek who told him, usually accompanied with growls and flashing eyes, but still he was aware of his soft, humanly nature. He didn't have any supernatural abilities to fight with or help when the others needed it. Scott did all of that and so did Derek. He was left on the sidelines. He was mostly called upon for research purposes. He was only along for the ride. He was a tag along. Scott was part of it all because he was a werewolf. Stiles was not, he was just his friend, and he had lost that now too. Scott didn't see him as someone he could trust nor as someone who cared about most to include or protect from all this. He was human and just in the way according to the rest of them. Of course that didn't stop Stiles from throwing himself into the thick of it, hoping to help his friends stay alive. Danny was right in say he cared too much without regard to himself. It was true.

It wasn't that he didn't value his life, he did. He just didn't want others to get hurt, especially those he cared about. He was human seriously outmatched in this world. He had nothing to protect himself with beside his mouth and his baseball bat. It was also his mouth that got him into trouble a lot of times too. Maybe he should stay out of it. Maybe he should just throw down that bat of his and back out. Yet as he watched the man, the hunter, in front of him his brain came up with something else.

"Train me, then."

The comical raise of Chris' brows would have been funny, but Stiles was not laughing. He was dead serious. He had had enough of feeling just human and useless. "What," Chris asked.

"I'm serious, train me." Stiles said, clenching his jaw. "Teach me to fight or at least defend myself."

Chris shook his head, taking another sip of coffee. "I was going for you staying out of it. Not giving you a means to run in head first."

"That is not why I am asking. You and I both know that I will not turn tail and run," Stiles replied strongly, feeling himself get lighter at his choice. "Whether I like this or not, I am a part of it. I may not be a part of the pack and I may be human. I am willing to help people who cannot help themselves. Myself included." It is time to make some changes, he thought to himself.

He had no doubt Chris heard his claim of no longer being pack, but he didn't say anything. The man had a crease on his forehead, like he was thinking deeply. His features were hard set, serious and stern at the same time. "Isn't your father the Sheriff."

Stiles rolled his eyes, getting frustrated with having his father brought up. "My father is not of concern here. He can't help in with this. He knows nothing about this world and that is how I want it for now." 

"Why now," Chris asked while he studied him. "Why do you want to learn now?"

In frustration and exhaustion Stiles made a decision. One decision that he hoped to never had to use again. He knew it was being harsh, but he didn't care. He wanted to get his point across and there was one way he could do it. "So that this does not happen again." He said as he lifted his shirt, revealing the bandages and bruises that were still healing.

Most of the bandages were gone now, but the cuts remained, holding together with their stitches. They would always remain. The only bandage left was the one over the deepest and largest cut on his cut. The one on his chest was on display, already healing to be a pink scar when it was done. The bruises still littered his body, but they were a little less purple and more yellow and green, turning his skin slightly sickly. His body was speckled from them. The burn mark on his side from the odd taser gun Gerard used was still there too, going to scar as well. It was red and yellow, healing slowly. It was leaving a line of burnt flesh behind, where the current ate away at his skin. He bared it all to Chris, letting him see what he endured.

Chris was startled. His eyes went wide. He set his coffee down, turning fully to look at the devastation that was Stiles' healing body. When the man moved forward a step, Stiles flinched back, his shirt falling from his hands to cover himself back up. Chris didn't miss the flinch, he was trained not miss such things.

"What-what happened," Chris asked slowly, softly like he was trying not to scare him.

"A little parting gift," Stiles said, straightening his shirt. He looked at Chris square in the eye, letting the next words go with hatred burning in them. "From your father."

Chris went pale after that. Stiles figured the man didn't know about what Gerard had done. No one knew except Danny and Deaton. So obviously Gerard's son wouldn't know. What Stiles found strange was that the hunter didn't try and deny it. He didn't try to defend his father or blame Stiles for running with the pack. He didn't even blame Jackson. He looked to be sick. There was no doubt that it was not supernatural inflicted wounds. The wounds would be messier, more erratic. Not to mention more cuts if the man thought Stiles had roughhoused with one of the wolves. The burn mark and too clean cuts were indicators. Chris did not say anything, but his face said it all. He looked like he wanted to be angry, angry at his father, and then sick, sick at what he had done. Chris didn't ask what happened or how Gerard had done all this. Stiles figured the man did not want to know, probably making it worse in the process. When the silence between them became so deafening that Stiles could hear his heart thumping in his ears, the man spoke.

"Why ask me? What makes me the best choice to ask?" He voice wavering slightly at the end. 

Stiles raised his head defiantly, taking a deep breath before letting it out. Letting out his residual fears to tell the man exactly what he thought. "Because given everything, you owe me that much."

Chris met Stiles' eyes, blue eyes meeting his amber-brown ones. Chris was clenching and unclenching his fists, his coffee forgotten on the counter. His posture was stiff. If Stiles didn't know better he would have thought the man was shaken with the news. With the depths of how far his father had gone. Stiles couldn't care less. This was not for Chris, this was not for the pack. This was for him and for the two betas out there. He wanted to help find them, but he needed to learn how to help himself first. Who better to learn from than someone who learned from man who gave him his scars?

Seeming to shake himself from his internal struggle, Chris looked up at him. Resign in his features. ”We start tomorrow.”

Chapter Text

Training was not as bad as Stiles thought it would be. He wasn’t stupid enough to think that the first day would consist of him learning how to shoot with arrows or fight with knives and swords, but he didn’t expect being pushed outside at the crack of dawn with a punching bag set on the ground that weighed more than him. 

“Are you sure this is what you want to do,” Chris has asked at the beginning of the day when he arrived. 

Stiles had arrived about ten minutes before heading up to the door, parking his jeep around the corner between two other cars on the side of the street, not wanting anyone to notice him at the Argent's. Stiles still felt his gut twist at the sight of the house, but he didn't falter. He had to get used to it. He couldn't let the sight of the house undo him and break his carefully composed outer shell. He woke up early that morning, not because of his excitement to get started but because he had another nightmare. This one ended with him shaking awake, almost toppling off his bed, his sheet wrapped around his body wet from his sweat. He had tears in his eyes which he hastily brushed away. He spent a half hour controlling his breathing and trying to shake himself from the edges of a panic attack. When he was able to move from his bedroom floor, he went to his computer, refusing to go back to sleep, instead pulling up Hulu. 

When he decided to leave for the Argent's, he saw his dad was already gone. Shaking his head and burying those emotions for later he headed out, grabbing an apple from the kitchen as he did. He skipped the last day of school (hey he's already missed quite a few other days this year, why not miss the two days where nothing ever happens), his GPA was still high, so who cares if he skipped. If he was actively avoiding his used-to-be friends then that was a plus in his book. He had no texts from Scott or anyone yesterday besides Danny. They originally were going to go the movies, but decided against it in favor of staying in to curl up on the couch, watching sitcom re-runs.

It was nice and Stiles found that he liked having Danny around. The tech genius was easy to get along with and he found there were things he didn't know about the teenager. They shared similar interests and had a taste for good comics. Conversation was easy and it made Stiles feel a small sense of normalcy. After Danny's confession about Stiles and wanting to actually help him, Stiles had to do a double take. He was surprised at the force of Danny's confession, the sheer honesty. He never thought badly of Danny-the boy was nice to everyone for heaven's sake-but he never thought Danny would willingly want to spend time with Stiles or even be exclusive friends. It was still a shock, but Stiles liked it. He was willing to give Danny a chance. He welcomed it actually. 

He had the sneaking suspicion that Danny was avoiding Jackson after the whole Kanima thing, especially since Stiles found out that Danny knows the truth about everything, but Stiles wasn't going to ask why. It wasn't his place. He was glad for Danny's company. He did want to trust Danny, but that was something he found he was struggling with right now. So for now, he was content with Danny being around. He had to have time.

Walking up to the house, he noticed Allison's car wasn't there which made his plans much easier. He didn't want anyone to know what he was doing. That was something he needed to tell Chris when he got the chance. He got distracted from that thought when Chris opened the door, his features set in a frown, bags under his eyes indicating he either didn't get much sleep either or he was not a morning person. 

Stiles didn’t falter in his answer, having made up his mind from the moment his brain thought it up. The more he thought about it, the more he believed this was the right choice. He wasn’t just doing this for himself, but for any future problems. Stiles has had enough of feeling like he was incapable of handling himself. Supernatural trouble is one thing, but it wasn’t the supernatural that kidnapped him. It was humans. Humans who had beaten him. Humans who almost killed him. Humans who almost...

stiles shook his head free of those thoughts. His unconscious mind was riddled with Gerard and Grant’s faces enough. Every time he closed his eyes, they would appear, no matter how much he avoided thinking of them during the day, his mind would make up for it when he was asleep. It made his skin crawl and his heart quicken just thinking about them. He could still feel Grant’s hands on his hips and it made him want to slice off his own skin to get away from those phantom hands.

Stiles had nodded his affirmative, ready to begin.

The morning consisted of him going through motions, mostly warming him up with stretches to start with since he was still a little injured. His body was healing quicker than he suspected. The cream Deaton gave him through Danny was magic in a tube. His deep gashes were no longer gashes, but cuts that were pretty shallow now. The burn was healing now a bright pink slightly jagged line rather than an angry raised red mark. The stitches were still in the cuts to help them stay closed so the cream could heal them, but there was no doubt Stiles would have scars. 

He expected that from the beginning. Scars that would forever mark him or what he went through. A reminder of what that night was like for him.

Going through the motions slowly he tried to loosen up his stiff body. Eventually Chris lead him over to the punching bag, intending on starting him with that. At Stiles deadpanned expression, Chris rolled his eyes.

”You didn't expect to start handling weapons or learning to kickbox straight away did you?”

"Well," Stiles drawled. "No. But it would have been a nice switch for once."

Chris had the audacity to look exasperated. Stiles couldn't help but think the man was second guessing his agreement. "You need to learn the basics first. Right now, you need to build up strength and balance. Boxing will help with that," Chris said folding his arms over his chest. When Stiles just stood there, looking at the punching bag, the man rolled his finger in a 'get a move on' motion.

Sighing Stiles undid his light jacket and threw it on the ground. Slipping on the gloves that only cushioned his knuckles, he flexed his fingers to get a feel for the fit. When he looked back at Chris, the man looked bored, but expectant, waiting for Stiles to start. Stiles had never done this before and he kind of felt insecure under Chris' scrutiny. It wasn't for the lack of trying. His dad did get him enrolled in karate once and also tried to teach him a few self-defense moves when he was younger, but Stiles could never sit still long enough to pay attention nor could he focus enough to continue it for long before he got bored. Often times when he should be concentrating, his mind would wonder to whatever, breaking his focus on the task and making him want to stop. He couldn't do that this time. He had to focus. This was his choice.

He roped Chris into doing this, mostly out of guilt for what his father did to him, but he couldn't back away now. The man didn't have to agree, but he did. Chris was willing to teach him. If he was doing this, then Stiles would make sure he actually learned something.

So Stiles moved forward towards the bag, taking a deep breath before swinging his fist forward. The jolt he felt as his closed fist connected with the bag was surprising. He felt it vibrate up his wrist and into his arm, through his shoulders. The bag moved just a little, before sitting still again. It felt good, Stiles had to admit. Just the action of it. Using his body to move something, but also feeling it as it gave way. So he tried it again, connecting with the bag to make it move. The same vibration going up his arm. He felt lighter with each punch.

It was surreal yet grounding at the same time. With each punch, he could feel his insecurities disappear. After a few moments, Chris would speak telling him to move his legs, circle the bag, but not to stand still, which was good for Stiles. The moving of his legs allowed Stiles to relax more, quieting his mind from telling him to move more, to keep moving. So he followed it, moving around the bag, punching it as he went. Chris would speak out a tip and Stiles would follow. Usually consisting of moving his feet more, do not cross his feet while stepping to the right or left, stepping with his right foot when he punches with his right, vice versa with his left. He would tell him to flatten his fist more, making the connection more firm giving it more power. Each tips making it both harder and easier.

Eventually Chris came over to stop the bag from moving. He held out his hand to hold off Stiles from making another punch. He regarded Stiles for a moment, assessing him in a way. Stiles was breathing a little heavier, but he felt fine otherwise. His body didn't ache from his injuries and he barely felt the tug of the stitches on his cuts as he moved his shoulders so that was a plus. He would have to get the stitches out soon, however he would do that himself, he did not want to see Deaton. Pushing his thoughts away from the vet, he focused on Chris who was speaking now.

"How do you feel," he asked honestly.

Stiles shrugged. "Fine," he replied. "I've never done this before, so if you're going to point out my shortcomings to this, then save it."

Chris gave a small crooked smile. Stiles was shocked. He never saw Chris Argent smile. It was always like a hunter smile he saw. A mixture of condescension and wolfish. Stiles thought of the irony at the hunter picking up some of the wolves habits. 

"I can see you haven't done this before," the man said. "But that is why you want to learn is it not?"

Stiles didn't say anything. He didn't have to. Chris nodded to himself, his face no longer smiling, but his eyes bright in the morning light. It was cooler out, chilling Stiles' heating skin, which helped to not over heat him. Chris moved the bag to be between them both, holding it with both hands. When he looked back at Stiles he was serious again, schooling his features into that of an almost reluctant teacher.

"That was just a warm up of sorts, letting you get a feel before the actual motions."

"Or you were testing me to see if I would move the bag," Stiles muttered under his breath.

Chris pretended to not hear him. "I was watching, to see how much you actually know. You need to remember to breath between punches. Breathe in between punches, and out as you jab forward. Your punches lack power because your breathing is all over the place."

"Okay," Stiles nodded. 

"Another point is your punches in general." At Stiles annoyed look, Chris continued. "You need to save your energy the best you can, which means no long punches unless you make them count. Also, keep yourself centered, do not move unless you have to." Chris stepped to side and back to give himself room. Stiles watched as the hunter raised his hands up to his face, keeping his hands loose, before thrusting forward with his right, connecting to the bag and making it move. He brought his hand back quickly to jab with his left, pulling it back to do it again before switching to his right in quick succession. With each punch, Stiles could hear a puff of breath as Chris breathed out as he connected. The bag rocked with each punch. When Chris was done he stepped back, lowering his arms. "Jabs are meant to be fast, allowing you to reserve your energy longer. Keep your arm straight by tightening your muscles in your arm and your fist tight as you punch.  and switch it up between both hands."

Stiles nodded, showing his understanding. When Chris waved him to demonstrate, Stiles did. He punched with his right, jabbing the bag, tensing his muscles as he did so. His breath whooshed out of him as he released his punch, before quickly inhaling before pulling his arm back to switch to his left. Chris watched him for a few moment, allowing him some time to become acquainted with the quick movements and the centering of his body. Breathing between his punches was difficult. He had to remember to keep at that, finding himself wanting to hold his breath as his fist connected. That was a habit he had to remember to stay away from. 

"Good," Chris said, stepping up to the bag again to stop it's jostling. "Next up, is your right cross, or right hook. With the jabs you don't expel too much energy giving your cross more power. But you also need to rotate your body. It cannot come from just your arm alone. When you punch, rotate your hips and upper body, move your right foot in a pivot, pointing in the direction you are punching.Switch and do the same thing with your other hand. Breathe the same way you do with your jabs. Exhale on punching, inhale when you pull back." 

Again Chris demonstrated. Stiles watched as carefully as he could. Chris punching the bag, rotating his hips and right shoulder to provide momentum and strength to the punch. Stiles saw his foot move and his upper body did, everything pointing towards the bag. As he connected, the bag lurched back, almost falling over before springing back up in time to meet Chris' left fist. His body twisting again, left foot moving with his left side. He demonstrated it two more times, before going slower. This time breaking it up into three parts. He started at the beginning, calling it step one, where his stance was firm and his fist pulled back. Then went to step two, moving his hand to press against the bag, his arm straight and firm, his hips turned, his foot pivoted. Lastly was bringing his hand back to where it was in step one. He stepped back allowing Stiles a go. 

Stiles tried his first time, however as he twisted his body, his foot didn't quite want to follow, making his punch run off to the side. It made contact, but it didn't have much power. Stiles pulled back, regaining his balance, looking at the ground sheepishly.

"Try again," Chris said, behind him. "Focus on your body giving you momentum as you aim."

Stiles breathed deeply. Trying to shake off his temporary clumsiness. Stiles continued, trying to remember where to point himself, focusing on the turning on his body and the tightening of his arm right before he made contact. He hit the back dead center, but it didn't move much more than it his normal punches. He couldn't help the disappointment at that, but he kept going. He tried again with his right hand before switching to his left, each one connecting, the bag still not moving past a little dip before wiggling back straight up. Stiles felt better about making his hooks hit in the center, but felt discouraged about the lack of power.

Seeming to read Stiles' mind, Chris spoke up behind him. "It will take some getting you to. The main thing is to get the basics down, the strength will come later when you feel more comfortable. Learn to control your breathing and your momentum and you will notice a difference."

Stiles nodded slowly. He knew Chris had a point. He didn't really expect to get everything down on one go and move on to the next. He just started so he shouldn't let himself get discouraged. He had a long ways to go before he really noticed a difference. He had to start somewhere, where else than at the beginning. Stiles nodded again, this time more sure.

Yet when Chris stepped up into his peripheral vision, his hand coming up to either grasp his shoulder or give him a shove to keep going, Stiles flinched. Dammit, he flinched again. Stiles couldn't help it. The dark silhouette on the outside of his vision, coming up too fast, too soon, it messed with him. He did not suddenly imagine the basement or anything, but it was the act itself that did it. Filtering through his mind, so similar to that night. It was similar to Gerard and Grant. When his vision was blurry from pain and tears, sweat dripping into his eyes. Silhouettes and shapes were all he could see on the edge of his visions. He stepped away from the figure, realizing too late that it was Chris behind him. When he jerked away, his eyes caught onto Chris' face. 

The man stopped immediately, his hand in mid-air. At Stiles' reaction, he slowly put his hand down like any sudden movements would scare him away. Stiles could see the confusion on the man's face, changing to understanding and then sadness. The sadness turned his features darker, his frown deeper. The lines in his face making him look older than what he was. There was a slight twitch in his jaw, where he clenched his teeth shut, before taking a half a step back. 

Chris didn't say anything for a moment and Stiles was not able to. He maintained his breathing, but his heart was not quite as steady. When Stiles looked away from Chris, avoiding his eyes, the man spoke. 

"Continue practicing. Switch it up as you go. Focus on keeping your jabs fast." Chris backed away, heading towards the house. "Remember to breathe and concentrate on aiming your momentum. Stay centered."

With that he went back into the house. The silence was clear, but not deafening. The morning sounds of the town and outside trees were enough to break Stiles from standing there too long. The chirping of the birds and clicking of grasshoppers were enough to help calm Stiles. When he went back to punching the bag, he focused on what he needed to do. Keeping it slow until he built up to a comfortable pace. He switched up between his jabs and his hooks, keep it going as the sun rose higher into the sky. Eventually he felt his arms get heavier, soreness running up his arms and shoulders, but he ignored it. He focused on the bag, aiming dead center with each punch. 

As time went by he tried not to think about Chris' face or about that night. It was easier said than done. The faces that haunted him were floating in his mind, yet he twisted it around to make it seem like the bag was their faces or their bodies. He felt his emotions rise up inside him. Anger and rage leading the way, hurt not far behind mixing with fear. Each punch fueled by his amounting emotions. Each punch he imagine their faces. Each punch he imagined pouring his anger out through his arm, meeting the bag, letting it drain out of him little by little. 

It may not be healthy to do this, but Stiles couldn't care. Each passing minute, he breathe, he punched, and he felt everything from that night. Soon it wasn't just Gerard or Grant he was seeing. It was everyone. Scott, Derek, Jackson, Isaac, Allison, every person that was there that night. Yes he was angry.

He was angry at Gerard. For kidnapping him and torturing him, first for information then because he wanted to. Grant for taking so much pleasure in his pain and then trying to satisfy his own sick fantasy. Scott for lying and betraying him, for not helping him or coming for him, for making Stiles feel like he was worthless to his once best friend. For Jackson being the sole attention of so many people, distracting everyone from even noticing Stiles' kidnapping or evident hurt. Allison for her insecurities and blind rage at Derek and the pack for her mother, listening to Gerard and helping him, knowing that it was wrong. And Derek...Derek hurt the worst. 

He couldn't think about the man. If he did, he was afraid of what would happen. If he was being honest, he was more angry at himself. For letting it all happen. For being blind to what was obvious now. Scott's constant dismissals of him despite everything he has done for his friend, Derek brushing him away and treating him like an annoying fly who constantly hung around, Allison's blind rage and hurt for her mothers clouding her judgment. He felt so stupid for not taking charge prior to all of this happening. He felt angry at himself for not being stronger. For being weak and allowing himself to be used and then thrown away without second thoughts. For being tortured and helpless to help himself or Erica and Boyd because he was weak.

Each punch he made was filled with so much emotion, he barely noticed the bag was moving more and more. His breathing quickened and his heart thundered in his chest, but he maintained focus as best he could. Sweat was pouring off of him, his skin heating up under the morning sun. He heard a whistle from behind him, shocking him out of his trance. He turned quickly to see Chris standing there, a bottle of water in his hand, his face a blank mask.

"I think that is a good place to end for the day," he said softly, extending his hand a little, offering the water bottle. Stiles waited for a moment, taking deep breaths, letting the burn of his lungs subside.

He went up to Chris taking the water with a small smile. He chugged most of it before feeling his body calm down enough. He could still feel the residual anger, but it wasn't as pronounced as it was. Stiles had to admit that he felt better. Who knew boxing could be a form of stress relief. Sweating and sore, he could feel his muscles ache in slight protest and the strenuous activity. Neither one of them said anything, each one just standing there, drinking some water, listening to the approaching early afternoon. When Chris put his bottle of water down, stepping away from him, Stiles felt the need to say something.

"Thanks," he said to the man. "For doing this."

Chris nodded, not really looking at him, but giving an acknowledgment to his words. "Don't thank me yet. You have only begun." Chris continuing to move towards the bag.

Stiles smirked, reaching down to pick up his jacket. He unclasped the gloves, pulling them off noticing his hands were as sweaty as the rest of him. He put them on the ground at his feet. He was about to leave before another thought crept back into his mind.

“Also, about all this” he stated to Chris who was heading towards the bag to put it away in the shed. “Don’t tell anyone. Please.”

Chris’ look of confusion was enough to make the boy pause. “Wouldn’t your pack want to know how you are doing with training? Allison would be happy to help.”

At the mention of the pack and Allison, Stiles winced. He could feel his face darkening, his frown evident. He couldn’t help it. All their faces circling in his mind, taunting him, bringing back the sharp stab of hurt and anger. If Chris saw his face, he didn’t mention it, just stood there patiently waiting for Stiles to continue.

"No," he said a little to forcefully. Sucking in a deep breath before letting it out, Stiles shook his head before he spoke, keeping his tone more quiet. “What pack? I don’t think I was ever a part of one.”

With that Stiles left, barely seeing the confused and concerned look on Chris’ face as he did. He left his request in the air. Chris could do what he wanted, Stiles knew that. He just hoped that Chris would abide by his request. Stiles didn’t want anyone to know what he was doing. He didn’t want anyone knowing and then telling his dad. That would lead to too many questions and Stiles has lied enough over the past few months. He also didn’t want the others to know. His former pack didn’t need to know. If they saw him as a weak human who wasn’t needed then so be it. No one seemed to care about him anyway, so why would they waste time learning about why he wanted to learn how to defend himself. Protect himself from anything like that happening again.

He wasn’t doing this for them anyway. With Gerard and Grants faces still running through his mind and his body still healing from last Friday, Stiles bit his lip. No he most certainly wasn’t doing this for former friends. He was doing this for him, and him alone.  

* * * * * * *

 

Visiting his dad at the station sounded like a good idea. He hasn’t seen his dad for more than a few moments at a time and it mostly was when he was leaving the house to go to work. He figured he would stop by, not just to see his dad, but also see if anyone has reported Erica and Boyd missing. Their parents had to have known right? It had been over three days since anyone else has seen them last, so the odds of someone reporting them as gone would be likely. Stiles hoped that logic was sound. He had to start figuring out where they had gone. They wouldn't run away on their own, at least he hoped they wouldn't. So if the missing person reports were a no go, he would move on to other things. Like the license plate on Boyd's car, their credit card histories, formally check with their families. The list goes on. He knew the others were looking for them, so will he, but he would keep to himself about it. He will do all he can for the two betas. In fact, he'll do what he does best. Research.

When he went into the station, he noticed the lack of deputies immediately. When the Kanima attacked, it dwindled the numbers of the station considerably. The first thing he noticed was the portraits of the officers on the wall to the left of the lobby, eight in total. Each with a smiling officer and their name in the portrait below their picture. There was a small table against the wall below them, with a small vase of tulips on it, and two candles burning underneath. Stiles recognized all the officers, having met and seen them the many times he came to the station to see his dad. Their faces making Stiles stop part way through the lobby, frozen at the many faces he would never see again. Each one of the deputies he knew by name, each one playing baby-sitter to him at one point or another when he came to visit as a kid while his dad was busy with work, keeping him company. 

He could feel the sting behind his eyes before turning his eyes away from the portraits. He couldn't cry, not here. he had work to do. Stopping at the front desk, the deputy on duty recognize him and let him on through to see his dad. 

The lack of deputies was even more pronounced in the back. The empty desks and chairs were like practically taunting him, telling him that their previous owners were no longer there. Keeping his eyes forward, he headed to his dad's office, only to find the door open and the room empty. He looked around the room noticing that his dad wasn't here. He did see another familiar face though. Deputy Cordova was sitting at his desk, typing away at his computer as he completed paper work.

"Hey Deputy Cordova," Stiles said, walking over to the man.

The man looked up and smiled as he noticed who it was. "Stiles," he said, reaching out to shake Stiles hand. "It's been a while. What are you doing here?"

"Looking for my dad. I thought he would want to get a bite to eat, but he's not here." Stiles said gesturing to his dad's office.

The deputy nodded. "Yeah he left about a fifteen minutes ago. Got a call about accident, first officer on the seen reported drunk driver with possible drug possession."

"Why didn't he send you for that? Could have taken one of the dogs with you."

Deputy Cordova was one of those who helped oversee the K-9 unit. For as long as Stiles could remember, the man helped to train the dogs as well as take them out to sites whenever they were needed. Thankfully it wasn't often when it came to drugs, but nowadays the dogs were used more to find missing bodies, especially in the Preserve. Cordova was a good guy, always brought a smile to Stiles' face when he was a kid. Often letting him run around the station when his dad left him in charge of Stiles as a kid. He would even let him play with the dogs they trained in back, effectively keeping him busy most of the time until his dad would take him home. It was Cordova who gave Stiles his first cup of coffee at the age of 12, without his dad knowing that is. It wasn't good coffee since it was from the station's break room coffee maker, but it was still his first. 

"He could have," the man said with a nod, "but with the...vacant positions, we are short staffed leaving him to go out. I have paper work to file."

Stiles saw the crestfallen look on the man's face and quickly changed the subject. He didn't come here to make people sad, he had enough sadness to go around and didn't want anyone's to add to his own. "How are the mutts doing," he asked hoping to brighten the sullen mood.

It worked when Cordova's face lit up with a crooked smile. "I should have known there was a catch to coming to see me."

Stiles smirked. "Not at all. It's nice to see my favorite deputy apart from my dad."

Cordova chuckled, rolling his eyes as he got up from his chair. "Why don't you ask them yourself," he said, leading Stiles to the back of the station. He opened the back door to the grassy lot outback. It was where there were a few targets for practice as well as mats for self-defense and sparring stashed up against the building underneath an overhang. In the back was large cage, with three German Shepherd's barking and yipping happily.

Stiles smiled, seeing the familiar dogs he has gotten used to. He immediately went over to them, undoing the hook to the cage to let himself in. The dogs were on him before he was fully inside, barking and pawing at him, licking at every piece of skin they could reach. Swatting away their tongues, trying to pet the overgrown pups Stiles felt lighter than he did in a while. Running his fingers through their fur, calling out their names, and scratching their necks. Always so full of energy, the wagging of their tails evident as he showed them all affection. Each one he remembered from when they were pups, each being a couple ears old now. Yet still as curious and loving as they were when they smaller.

However there was someone missing.

"Where's Luna," he asked, looking behind him at Cordova.

"Over here," he heard from off to the side.

He looked over to see another deputy, Deputy Landon, coming up from through the lot, most likely from the grassy field a little to the side of the station. The field was yellowish brown with long grass, about four acres in length, separating the station and east side of town from the Preserve. There were two storage units building off to either diagonal side behind the station too, but they didn't take much away from the field. It was ware some of the training sessions for the K-9 unit took place. Mostly where the officers would hide something and the dog would attempt to smell it out.

Deputy Landon was striding up to them, a smile on his face, a leash in his hand holding a very excited black and white shepherd beside him. Stiles scrambled out of the cage, barely closing the gate before Landon let go of the leash so the dog could pounce on Stiles. Luna was bouncing on her hind legs, pawing at his stomach as she tried to reach his face to lick him. She was whining, her tail flicking happily behind her.

"Hey girl. How you doing," he said, wrapping his hands around her fluffy neck.

Landon smiled. "She just finished a training exercise so I guess she deserved her treat."

"Aww," Stiles said in a mocking tone. "I knew you thought I was sweet Landon."

The deputy rolled his eyes, a smirk on his face. "I'm going to go get some dinner. Cordova, you coming?"

Deputy Cordova looked like he didn't want to go, but the rumble of his stomach was easily heard, even by human ears. He looked at Stiles apologetically. Stiles just chuckled. "I'll be fine. I'll wait for dad out here."

"You sure," the man asked, twitching to go back inside.

Stiles nodded, petting the happy dog rubbing her sides against his legs. Both deputies left, leaving Stiles alone with the dogs. He sank to the ground, his back against the cage. Luna climbed on top of him, finally seizing her chance to plant a lick on his cheek and nose. He stifled a giggle, running his fingers through her soft fur. He could feel the other dogs behind him, rubbing against the side of the cage against him. It would be a regular puppy pile if he was inside laying on the ground. At some point Luna settled down, sitting beside him, her tongue hanging out and her tail thumping against the growl lazily.

”Hey Luna,” he said to the dog trailing his hand down her back. “Did you miss me?”

If there was a hint of a baby voice in there, sue him. Stiles didn’t care.

The dog was beautiful. Like the others she was a German Shepherd. What made her different was her story and her characteristics. Luna didn’t have a good upbringing. She was originally a rescue dog. Almost a year ago, she was brought into the station by local volunteers who found her on the side of the road. She was dirty, bloody, and under weight. Stiles dad told him that she had a collar on, no name, but with tags to tell them where she came from. Upon further investigation, it was found that her owner was mistreating her along with a few other animals in their care. The animals were seized and taken to shelters and the owner was charged with animal cruelty and endangerment. Stiles had never seen what Luna looked like under such conditions, but his dad showed him a few photos of the other animal that were rescued. One was a horse, another was a cat and another dog. Each one were malnourished, covered in abuse marks and dirt and grime, looking more than pitiful in the photos. Stiles found that he did not want to see Luna looking like that.

It took some time for her to recover, eventually being less skittish around people. The department took care of her shelter bills as well as the other animals. It made Stiles upset when he learned no one wanted to adopt her. It wasn't due to not trying, but when she was still in the shelter and recovering, she was still learning to get used to people again. Used to no one hurting her. Eventually she was moved from the shelter to the station so that they wouldn't have to keep paying the shelter for her up keep. It also advised that being around other dogs would help to calm her down and ease her into being more herself.

She was a good dog all around. She had it hard, but eventually she became accustomed to people and she often found comfort in the other dogs at the station who made up the K-9 unit. She became young and vibrant under the care of those who wanted to see her thrive. Stiles had visited the station multiple times just to see her, even after she was release from the shelter. At some point, the department agreed that it was best to keep her and train her as part of the unit since she took to the other dogs and the deputies so well. She was still new to it and learning everyday. Mostly she is out doing training exercises on a daily basis to help her, but she has been out on a few small jobs.

She really had come a long way. She was cheerful and full of energy every time Stiles saw her. Unlike the other shepherds, she was unique. While the others were black, brown, and tan, she was the opposite. Her fur was etched with black and white, mixing with light tan in some spots that made it look silver. Her face was a mixture of dark and light. Her nose was dark, fading into the light silvery tan and white. Around her eyes was black fur that bled back into the back of her head like it was eye shadow. Her ears and the top of her head, neck, and back was black, while her under belly, chest, and legs were a mixture of white and silver tan. Her black and white fur blending into each other seamlessly up her legs and down her sides. Her bushy tail was much the same, a mixture of the three colors. Dark and light, black and silvery white, almost like the moon against the night sky.

It was Stile who came up with her name. Upon first meeting her, he proposed it to his dad when the man told him her story. When Stiles thought about her collar not having a name, his dad asked him what he think they should call her. Luna, seemed like the perfect choice. 

"How you doing girl," he said, petting her head, scratching behind her ears, which was her favorite spot. Typical right?

She whined at him, her pink tongue still hanging out. They sat like that for a while. Stiles listened to the birds chirping as they flew around, the wind softly brushing his skin, moving the grass over the loft and the longer weeds and grass in the field in waves. Stile was content to stay there for the rest of the day. He much preferred being here surrounded by the dogs of the Beacon Hills Sheriff's Station rather than stay at home alone. He supposed he could have spent the evening with Danny since he was out of school now, but he didn't want to interrupt Danny. The boy had to have other things he wanted to do than babysit him. Stiles wanted to tell Danny about his training with Argent, but for right now he wanted it a secret. He more than likely knew what Danny would say if he did mention it to him. 

He would ask if he had a concussion or he naturally was drawn back to the family that put him through so Hell. For all intents and purposes, Stiles didn't really have an answer. He could have gone to get training from someone else, maybe anyone else. He could have come here to the station to learn self-defense. Deep down though, he knew it would not help. No one else was equipped to handle the supernatural as well as the local hunters of the town. Chris was the only logical choice when it came to learning how to defend oneself from the things that go bump in the night and inadvertently potential human threats as well. 

Maybe Chris was not his first choice, but his gut knew that it was his best choice. So he would continue to train with the man. And so far the hunter seemed understanding about what he wanted and was content to help. Whether out of guilt for what his family had a hand in or out of his own morals, Stiles didn't know or care.

He was lost in his thoughts that he didn't notice the Luna moving away from him, standing a few feet from him. It was the sudden stiffness of her usual swishing tail that caught his attention. When he looked at her, pushing his thoughts away, he heard what he was missing. She was whining.

He was about to say something to her when she barked. 

“Luna, what is it?” Getting up dusting off the back of his pants. 

Bark.

She looked back at him, her brown eyes looking at his, before she looked forward again.

”What is it girl?” You wanna play or something," coming up beside her, reaching out to touch her back.

A growl vibrated through the dog, radiating up Stiles hand. She continued to look out, barely breaking her gaze on the horizon where the Preserve started across the field. Stiles couldn’t see anything when he followed her gaze or at least attempted to. The cloudy evening making the Preserve darker than it was. It made him shiver at the thought of possible anything lurking about in there. It didn’t shake Luna though. Her growls were still evident. Her body tense. Her ears were up straight and pointed towards the tree line. Her fur bristling just a little at the top of her shoulders, her tail stock still, pointing downward.

"Luna ,come on let’s go inside for a bit.” Stiles wasn't liking this. Something got her attention and it wasn't like Luna to get all growly without good reason. He can't remember ever seeing her act like this. It made him think twice about her seeing a squirrel. He reached down to pull at her leash, trying to lead her into the station. She didn’t listen. She wouldn't budge and her gaze never left the Preserve line. Instead with another growl, she taking a step forward.

Then suddenly she took off, her leash slipping out of Stiles' hand with a snap. She ran towards the woods, her barking coming in between every couple of yards as she did. 

Stiles made to follow her but stopped at the edge of the station's lot. "Luna! Luna, wait. Heal!

Stiles wanted to go back to the station. Try and get one of the deputies to go after her or to help him follow. With each passing moment he could hear her barks get lower in volume and her bouncing silvery black form becoming more obscured by the tall grass of the field. He had no idea what got her worked up, but he had a hundred guess going through his mind. Even the other dogs were growling and yipping behind him, pawing at the cage. Whatever it was, it wasn't good. He thought he should call someone, reaching to pull out his phone only to pause. Who should he call? Who would even answer his call? 

He temporarily thought of calling Danny, but thought better of it. If this was a real problem-meaning supernatural-what would Danny be able to do. Better yet what would Stiles be able to do? However, what it wasn't. What if she was running after another little animal. If he called for help only to find her circling a tree trying to get to a small rodent or something, he would curse himself for it. It would be like him calling 'wolf' only for there not to be one. Wow, the irony.

Without much more thought Stiles ran after Luna. Cursing under his breath about dogs, their stupid sense, and their stupid instinct to follow their noses and what not. All of it was stupid. Yet Stiles was following, which cue recklessness at his boneheaded choices, he still did not want to see Luna potentially hurt. So he ran, hoping that this was not a bad idea.

 

* * * * * * *

 

Yup this was a stupid idea! A really fucking stupid idea!

Stiles thought that over and over again as he was running. Within the Preserve he had no idea where he was going or which direction he was heading, he just hoped he was heading back towards the station. The sounds of shrieks and snarls urging him on without delay. 

He never was able to find Luna. She had already disappeared when he got to the tree line. He was able to hear her distant bark further into the woods. Of course he was reluctant to go further, but he didn't want to leave her. Over and under the brush and wooded ground of the Preserve he went, following the sound of her barks. It wasn't until he heard growls that he stopped. He couldn't pinpoint where exactly they were coming from, but he had a general sense. Hoping that his hearing was enough to lead him to the German Shepherd. Carefully treading his way through sticks, stones, and forest overgrowth, he followed the barks mixing with growls. 

As time passed, the evening had gotten later, the cloudy sky getting darker, approaching twilight. It made Stiles even more antsy. he could feel an itch under his skin, shooting up and down his arm as he called out to Luna, hoping that his voice would pull her away from her antics and urge her to return home with him. He still had his phone with him, which made him happy that if needed he could call someone. He kept following an unknown trail, the barks leading him deeper into the darkening forest. The itch got more and more noticeable the longer he stepped over the forest ground. It wasn't long before the itch turned into a burning sensation, yet despite it, he shivered. His breath hitching in his throat and the cold burning going up and down his spine, his fingers tingled and his stomach clench, the hairs on his arms stood up.

He was too preoccupied with the burning chill and finding Luna that he missed the fact the he was being followed. He suppose the growls should have been a key, but he assumed it was Luna. When he started hearing the growls turn to snarls, he stopped. Listening harder, trying to ignore the pounding in his ears, it sounded like the feral noises were coming behind him and off to the front. He had pulled out his phone to turn on the flashlight it had, taking comfort in the extra light only to have it come crashing down on him when he raised the phone higher behind him.

The shriek was enough to make him stumble back, his heart in his throat, his breath leaving him before he knew what was happening. 

The sight that greeted him was that of a dark figure, rippling in wisps of black shadow around it. It was clothed it tattered, dirty clothes, mostly torn and hanging off them than actually covering them. It was humanoid, skin gray and black, flaking in some spots like it was turning to ash. It's face was skeletal as compared to the rest of it's body, long hair hanging below it's shoulders. It's eyes were wide and angry at the same time, pale white in color, pupil-less, and the mouth lined with sharp teeth. It shrieked as Stiles fell back to the ground. The sound like nails on a chalk board, grating and making him feel like his ears were going to bleed. 

The figure loomed over him, coming closer with its wispy like body and dead skin, the smell of rot and death hitting his nose. It reached a hand out to him, long thin fingers, tipped with black straight claws. 

Oh shit.

Stiles kicked out at it, hitting the things gut or maybe it's legs, he didn't care, all he care about was that it stumbled back, surprised at it's prey's fight. Stile took advantage of the momentary stun, scrambling up and running from the thing. He ran, not caring about the strain it might have on his still healing body. He would rather be alive to heal rather than die at the hands of that thing. He ran through the growth of the Preserve, ducking and dodging the best he could from the branches that seemed to reach out at him. The light from his phone was only thing that gave him any sense of what was in front of him. He could hear the shrieks and snarls behind him, making him push himself harder, harder to get further away. 

His breathing was heavy and his side was aching along with his still sore muscles. He had no idea where Luna was, but he prayed she was no where near that thing. When he thought he was far enough, he stopped trying to catch his breath. He couldn't hear anymore angry sounds behind but that didn't mean he was safe. He kept his phone close to him, the flashlight dulled to keep it from attracting whatever that thing was. Logically he knew he had to call for help. He knew he needed to, yet his fingers never typed out any contacts. He stood there, in the growing dark, with some unknown monster somewhere nearby, not knowing where to go or who he could call.

No one would answer anyway, a part of his brain thought. 

No one would care.

You don't even know where you are, it provided. 

Stiles felt that burning chill run through him again. It turned his attention from his phone as a chill went down his spine again. His hairs stood on end, his skin running cold in the warm night air. He felt his heart beat faster, his shoulder tense up and his legs tighten. He couldn't explain it if he tried. It felt like his body was a live wire, sparking with a cold fire. He could feel his muscles pull him, twitching to get him to move. It was like his body was telling him to move, his gut clenching, telling him something was off.

He turned around in time to see the black, dead looking monster come up his left. What made his breathing stop and his heart jump into double time was that it was not the same creature. This one while still dead looking with the same black, gray skin, same sharp teeth, and all white eyes, had also different looking features. Thin skeletal face like the all, but not longer hair. Instead it looked bald. It was taller too. The ripped and dirty clothing was hanging off its torso like rags, making it looks like one ratty one-piece robe. It's claw were long and black, equally as dirty and just as menacing. 

It's shriek was not as high pitched as the other, it was more deep and husky, coming from it chest, almost like a crying growl.

On instinct, Stiles' body moved, tearing him away from the second monster. He ran hard and fast. His feet leading who knows where, so long as it was away from that thing. His side-stitch came back in full force, his body screaming in protest. He had to keep going, the further away he was the better. The cries and screaming of the monsters erupted behind him. He could hear both of them now. He could make out the difference between them as he ran, each still just as terrifying. The cold fire under his skin somehow serving as a push to him, urging him forward. It made him run, serving as the driving force to push down his aches to keep going. Ducking and round around trees and bushes, skipping over stones and fallen logs and branches. Those things still behind him, only their ghostly sounds telling him how far away they were.

It would be surprising to anyone how he maintained his pace for so long, only it was never meant to last forever. Stiles tripped over a raised root or maybe it was a rock, he couldn't tell. It was too dark to see and his phone only lit so much in close proximity. He landed hard on the ground, his breath whooshing out of him as if he did a belly flop in a pool. His foot stung a bit from his obstacle and his phone had fallen out of his hand, landing upright on the ground nearby, pointing its light up into the air. He made to get it, until he felt the cold fire ignite inside him at full force, making his vision go white for a split second, a stutter leave his lips.

It was then he felt the weight on him. Crushing him into the ground below. Long, pointed claws on his shoulders, dead, rotten breath coasting over his sweaty skin. He wrinkled his nose, he breathing stopped. He was pushed over, coming face to face with one of the monsters. It was the bald one. It pupil-less eyes filling his vision. They were unseeing and yet unnervingly knowing. The sharp teeth were yellow and brown, coated in saliva as the creature leaned over him. It's claws were on his chest, pushing him down, holding him in place, digging into his skin. He could feel the skin break in some spots and he tried not to breathe. 

A cross between a growl and cry left his attacker's throat, it head bent so close to Stiles' that the smell was too much. He couldn't breathe even if he wanted to. He wanted to close his eyes, but they stayed open. The chilling burn within him was like an inferno, raging inside him. His skin felt cold, yet his inside felt hot. He was sweating and his heart was beating so fast, it was a shock he wasn't having a heart attack yet. The creature opened its mouth, leaning close to Stiles and it was like time was agonizingly slow. 

Oh God!

A blinding flash of silvery white shot into Stiles' vision, accompanied by a growl and bark. A heavy mass hit the creature in the side, making it topple away from Stiles. He felt the brush of softness as he rolled away, getting free air. His sucked in breath, burning his lungs, as he reached for his dropped phone, pointing it towards the animalistic sounds. It was Luna, biting and snapping at the dark thing. Her teeth sunk into the its arm, yet no blood was leaking from it. It there was, he couldn't be sure. It obviously found it hurting, because the high pitched scream it let out was enough to make him want to clench his hands over his ears. It waved its arm and body, trying to dislodge Luna. 

She held on though. Growls ripped from her throat. Stiles got up only to have the long haired one come out of the shadows, running towards him with with intent. Stiles stepped on a rotten branch, before dropping his phone, the light shining up into the sky as he bent to grab it quickly, swinging it around in an arc. The branch connected with the thing's torso, snapping in a collection of wood chips, but it managed to make it lose its balance. 

He grabbed his phone in time to hear a whine and a pitching cry, seeing the thing claw at Luna's side, drawing blood immediately, then throwing her off onto the ground where she skidded into the trunk of a tree. He skittered over to her, covering her wounds with his hand, the other clutching onto his phone. Her whines were like a knife in his heart and yet he couldn't think about what to do. She tried to turn her head towards the wounds, her growls mixing with her whines as the monsters were still there. They kept coming, this time more intently, their cries becoming more like snarls. Saliva dripping from their open mouths, their eyes white and wide. 

In a flash, orange and yellow light burst into his peripherals only to land in front of him, his vision following the light as it swished back and forth. The growls turned to shrieks as the creatures back up some, their claws swiping at the light as it got too close to them. The light was on the end of a stick, held by a dark figure. A figure with short hair, broad back and shoulders, eyes dark and angry as they met his over the man's shoulder.

 "Danny!"

The boy was in front of him, holding out a burning torch. Where he got it, Stiles had no clue nor did he care. It seemed to keep those things at bay, holding them back with the threat of fire. They screamed and cried, snarling through their pointed teeth as Danny waved the torch at them. The yellow-orange glow was comforting, illuminating the area around them, attempting to keep the dark at bay. 

"Get out of here," Danny called, his tone hard and commanding. "Go!"

Stiles was surprised. He never thought he would see hear that tone on Danny. Nor see the tense look on his face. The very sight of him was a blessing and Stiles couldn't help but be happy. That did not distract him from the current matter at hand though. "No, come on let's go!"

Stiles was getting up, standing up behind Danny, his hand in his shirt trying to tugged him back, but Danny didn't budge. He waved the torch in front of them as the long haired monster came closer, hoping to squeeze past the fire. The hitch pitched sounds making them both wince. "Stiles you got to go. Wraiths are not to be messed with."

So that's what they are! Wraiths. He remembered seeing something about them in the bestiary. He had been so focused on the Kanima at the time he barely grazed the page on them. It wasn't important at the time and now Stiles wished he had paid more attention. He vaguely remembered that wraiths were not spirits but very corporal beings. However they were dead once. He couldn't remember what causes them to become 'alive' again or what makes them so distorted into the creatures that they are now. If they made it out of there, he would make a mental note to look into them more and probably read the entire damn bestiary for good measure.

"Go!" Danny bit out, clutching the torch tightly.

Stiles shook his head. "No, I'm not leaving you here."

Danny tightened his hold on the torch that Stiles thought it might break. The line of Danny's shoulders went flat and his back was rigid. Stiles couldn't see Danny's face, but he had no doubt his jaw was set and his face was probably angry or extremely serious. One of the two. "You're an idiot, you know that."

Despite the situation, Stiles couldn't help but smile. "Probably. We can worry about that later. Come...Danny!"

They barely had a chance to react, Stiles' warning a little too late when both wraiths moved swiftly, dodging away from each other, the shadows almost swallowing them whole. The shriek of one of them was so loud that it made them flinch, Stiles covering his ears and hissing in protest. Their very skin crawled and hairs rose on their arms from the force of the scream that pierced the night. Danny didn't let go of the torch, but he faltered some. His head turning to his shoulder in hopes of stifling the sound as best as possible. That moment of broken concentration was enough for the bald wraith to surge from the shadows to their side. The white of its eyes illuminated in the torch light. 

The torch was knocked from Danny's hand. Danny almost being knocked with it if he didn't let go. He stumbled back, Stiles grabbing hold of his shoulders to pull him back. Blindingly a claw flashed out from the wraith, raking across Danny's chest. His shirt ripped and Stiles heard a sharp hiss of pain coming from Danny as he pulled him further away from the wraith. He wrapped his hand around Danny's torso, feeling the exposed skin and blood underneath. Pushing Danny back behind him, he forced himself and Danny back. Stiles could see Luna's form on the ground as they stepped back further and further. She was still whining, but it was breaking up into more breathless pants.

The wraith came forward again aiming for Stiles. This time they both moved, ducking to the sides, letting the creature moved passed them with a scream. The other was not far behind, barreling towards Stiles, aiming for his chest. He felt the sting of the claws as they dug into his chest and side. He cried out in pain, using his hands to push against the wraith. Its long hair was brittle and ratty, falling over its shoulders in clumps, brushing against his skin as it leaned close. The strength of these things was surprising. 

Danny came up to punch at the wraith, his fist connecting with his face, its sharp teeth grazing his fingers. It didn't seem to deter the thing. Instead Danny was thrown back by the other one. The screams pulsing around them. Danny hit the trunk of tree, shaking the lower limbs. He crashed to the ground with a thud, dirt spraying around him. Blood was covering his shirt and his right hand looked bloody too. The bald wraith seemed to flex it's hand, before stepping towards Danny.

It's black dirty claw were aimed at Danny, the wraith holding it's dead hands out like was about to pounce. It walked closer to Danny, each step feeling like an eternity passed, but not making the sight any easier. 

Danny panting and bleeding from his chest, a small trickle of blood running down the side of his forehead as he struggled to get back up. Stiles fought harder, somehow managing to turn around in the process, only to be stepped on my the wraith pinning him down. The strength of those mistakenly fragile looking limbs was not to be underestimated. Stiles didn't care though. He tried to claw his way across the ground, hoping to get to Danny.

"Danny," he called, hoping to get the boy to stir and move away. The boy looked dazed, his body on the ground in a heap. His eyes unfocused as he dragged in deep breaths while the wraith moved closer to him.

Stiles couldn’t move, the foot digging into his back, pushing against his spine. It was a crushing weight, his lungs stinging from his labored breathing, but he couldn't focus on it. All he saw was Danny. The long claws of the wraith and the deadly intent it had. For the life of Stiles, he couldn't help but picture being back with the hunters. The feeling of helplessness and dread eating at his mind. Only this time he wasn't alone. Now he and Danny were in trouble. There was no guns or knives, or laughing hunters, instead there was supernatural monsters, bent on death and whatever else they craved. It was different once you thought about some of the aspects he went through with the hunters, but it still didn't take the gut wrenching fear away. The rising panic was building inside his body. The cold fire engulfing every nerve ending with it. It burned his limbs and torso. He could feel his heart pounding into the dirt below him. The fear joined that burn, fueling it under his skin.

He kept trying to get closer, trying to reach Danny. He had to think of a way out of this. He had to get to him. He couldn't suffer for Stiles' mistake. He couldn't die for Stiles' recklessness.

The bald wraith stepped closer, hovering over Danny. Its hand wide open, black claws poised to strike. It's piercing scream vibrating into the night, echoing off the darkness of the woods around them. Stiles couldn't breathe. This couldn't happen. It can't happen!

”No!”

The terror burned inside him and the icy warmth ignited, burning in his chest before flooding out into his arms like wave. As he screamed, fire erupted from where he grasped the dirt. The fire igniting from under his hand. He stared wide eyed at the sudden flames. The yellow-orange light blinding. He almost pulled his hand back, but for some reason he didn't, his hand remained on the ground, his fingers digging into the dirt. He didn't feel the flames. The realization of only a slight warmth was the only thing he could feel. It burned under his palm, licking at the ground and turning it black in it's glow.

As he watched in bafflement, the flames bled through the ground it as if it was following a trail of highly flammable gasoline, surging up towards the wraith over Danny. The sudden light making the wraith turn just in time to catch the fire as it climbed up its dead flesh and torn clothes. The high pitching wail was deafening. It moved away from Danny, engulfed in burning light. As Stiles watched, he saw another trail leave his palm on the ground, turning to wrap its way around his body on the ground. Before he knew it, the crushing weight on his back was gone and he sucked in heaving breath.

More light burst into the wooded area. The wail from one wraith was accompanied by another. Stiles turned on his side, his vision dotted around the edges, as he took in the sight of the other wraith in flames. Clawing at his body and clothes, trying to put out the fire. Instead it was tearing at its own skin. The smell of rotten, burning flesh wafting into the air, laying over everything like a blanket.  It batted, wiped, and struck itself to put its skin out. As the dead flesh melted away, the gurgling sounds joined the pained screams. It fell to the ground a mere two feet from Stiles as he scrambled his legs away from it. He turned away from the creature, pawing his way over the dirt. He still had to get to Danny. His vision was going back and forth between blurry and clear. 

The shrieks sounded like they were coming from everywhere. Stiles had no idea what happened, but he didn't care. If this was a miracle then he would bloody take it.

He saw the bald wraith move into his line of vision. The blaze of its body too bright to look at fully. It snarled and screamed as it swiped at itself. Yet it came towards Stiles as it did. He could feel the heat of the fire. The light penetrating his blurring vision. It was coming for him, hoping to burn him with itself. He could barely see the clawed hands as it reach for him. The flames inching towards the ground as it flew on its robe-like clothes. Its white eyes wide and staring at Stiles with an intent that Stiles had no clue how to read. 

"Stiles!"

In a flash of green light, the ground erupted in dirt and vines. The sprouted from the ground, wrapping around the wraith as it burned. It was pulled to the dirt by it's arms, legs wrapped tightly. Another vine snaking around its fiery torso. The wails and screams getting more jagged and choked. The wraith still tried to claw its way towards Stiles. Its finger leaving deep crevices in the dirt. Another vine burst near its head, entangling around its throat. The choking sounds became more wet and hoarse. Stiles looked towards Danny who was still by the tree, his eyes on the burning wraith, one hand on his chest, the other outstretched.

And it was glowing.

Green light seemed to encase Danny's open hand. The boy's eyes never leaving the wraith, his face grim. Stiles found himself looking back at the wraith. It wasn't clawing at him anymore. The screams growing less and less, until they stopped. The burning, dead smell still radiating from it. The flames never once leaving the body, not even touching the vines. The fire burned away the clothing, eating away the decayed flesh. Bits of flaky skin rose in the air like floating paper on the wind, incinerating to nothing as they drifted. The fire never once dulled or faded. Smoke billowing out into the night, the wind taking it away in different directions. As Stiles watched with wide eyes, the wraith jerked and then went still. And then everything went silent.

The only sound being the fire still burning the two wraiths until there was nothing left to burn away.

Stiles didn't know how long he laid on the ground, looking at the still form in front of him. He was not even aware if he was breathing. He was distantly aware of his body, the painful knowledge of more bruises and cuts to take care of, but he didn't move. It was like he was frozen. He didn't even acknowledge that the cold fire in his body had disappeared, leaving behind a dull humming warmth. He felt every part of his body was tingling, but that might have been due to the shock. Yet, he felt no fear. Not anymore.

He was so out of it, Stiles didn't even know Danny had come over to him, wincing as he knelt beside him. He felt a warm hand on his shoulder, another on his arm, gently tugging him. When Stiles looked at the boy beside him, Danny's face was calm almost resigned in a way. His eyes, however, were worried and awestruck. Blood was still dripping from his chest and his forehead, but he seemed coherent. Covered in blood and dirt, Stiles had never seen Danny look like that. It was almost the same image of himself on occasions after a supernatural fight when he was with the pack. 

Danny squeezed his arm gently, but with a firm strength, coaxing him to focus. He looked down at the hand on his arm, the same hand that was moments ago, glowing green. That was not a dream. None of this was. Stiles would swear with every breath he had, he saw Danny's hand glow. He supposed he should be afraid of said hand touching his skin, but instead felt nothing at it. The warm pressure was only reassuring. 

"We need to go, come on," he said gently, his voice seeming loud in the sudden stillness of the night. Stiles nodded, letting the other boy pull him up. They had to leave. They had to find safety. They had injuries to treat and Stiles had to get to Luna. 

Yeah, they had to leave. They had much to talk about.

Chapter Text

It took over an two hours to get back to town. Danny knew the direction he had come from, having marked it by following the little landmarks in the Preserve. Funny looking tree over here, boulder next to tree over there, creek over yonder, he did his best to remember what he passed as he made his way into the forest, hoping to find his way back. Together, he and Stiles made there was out of the Preserve, Stiles carrying the German Shepherd-Luna, as Stiles called her-in his arms. 

Each of them were hurt, Luna most of all. Stiles had suffered cuts and scrapes on his chest, shoulders and arms. Danny had five cuts on his chest, deep in some areas, but not bad. He was more concerned about his head. He barely remembers hitting his head on the tree he was thrown against. It hurts and his vision is somewhat blurry if he moves his head too quickly, but he is able to remain upright. If he has a concussion, well great.

Luna fared the worst out of them. The poor dog had punctures that were at least 5 inches deep in her sides and she was bleeding with each passing moment and she also might have a broken leg if her keep it close to her body is any indication. Her soft whines is the only sound between them as they walk. The crunches of leaves and sticks beneath their shoes. The sounds of a predominately sleeping Preserve sounding quietly around them. It was a stark contrast to the piercing wails of the wraiths they dealt with before. The whole time Stiles was quiet, holding the dog, in his arms, the dog's head and front paws over his shoulders. 

It made Danny worry. Stiles was never quiet. Stiles was always moving and talking. His ADHD preventing him from being as stonily silent as he was unless something was wrong, really wrong. Danny chanced glances at the other boy as they got closer to the Preserve treeline, the tenseness of his back, the deeply thoughtful and concerned look on his face. Danny stayed close to him, in case he needed help walking with the dog or in case he wanted him to help carry her, but he never faltered. Not once stumbling or seeming to get tired. He kept on, unyielding and silent.

Danny felt something like proud of Stiles for it, but he was not sure if he was aloud too. Especially after what happened. They had just faced two wraiths. They came close to almost getting killed. Stiles had almost gotten close to getting killed, again. It was like the boy was a damn magnet for trouble. Danny had done what he could to help him, inevitably revealing what he was to the other boy. He revealed he was not ordinary.

They had a long night ahead of them. They had a tidal wave of things to talk about. 

Danny was upset. Upset with himself mostly. He never meant to reveal what he could do to Stiles. He had no choice though. He had to protect him. He had to save him. He did what he could on short notice and with what he had, hoping that it would all play out well in the end. He was massively wrong. He did expect the wraiths to fight and he did expect to walk away with cuts and bruises, but he did not expect to have to reveal his...abilities. Not before he was ready. He also did not expect what Stiles had done.

He eyed the boy more times on the walk back than he had in the past few days. The boy looked like the same Stiles he's always known, but Danny knew that there was far more to him than first thought. 

Danny wondered if Stiles knew. If he knew what he was and what he could do. From the lack of communication in the past two hours, he thought maybe he did, and didn't know how to bring it up. Maybe Stiles was more in shock about Danny's abilities? Maybe Stiles was waiting for Danny to bring up the burning questions. It is possible Stiles did not know. That he was in stunned about what he had done, not Danny. Danny was worried that Stiles was going to have a panic attack, that all of this was going to be too much and make him go into overdrive to try an understand.  He had been waiting till the moment Stiles had found out the truth, only he never thought it would have taken so long. Especially when he was with the pack so long. Danny thought he would find out when the pack was around to witness it. 

Look how those thoughts turned out, he thought to himself.

He was still incredibly pissed and hurt on Stiles' behalf. The previous Friday's events going over and over in his brain each day. He wanted to find each member of the pack and punch each one and yell at them about their stupidity and selfishness. It may not do any good, but at least it would be out in the air. Danny was angry with Scott, and disappointed in Derek. Out of everyone, he thought those two would not have stooped so low.

Stiles had avoided going to school the last two days of the school year. Danny knew he would, not wanting to chance seeing Scott or the others. He kept in touch with Stiles while he was in school, just chatting with him, keeping him company on the phone since he wasn't there with him. He wanted to be, he also wanted Stiles there at the school too. He wanted him to be his usual vibrant, talkative, spastic, smart self while he walked in the halls and sat in class. Looking at how things were now, Danny knew that it might be a while before Stiles returned to the kid he once was, if ever.

Once they broke through the vegetation and out of the Preserve tree line, they half-ran, half-walked to where Danny was parked. He had gone into the Preserve close to the school, the building providing cover for him in case anyone saw. Since the woods were just past the fields, he parked his car in the parking lot and ran as soon as he turned the engine off. Thank god for no houses near the school either, they didn't need nosy people watching.

They made it to his car, Danny opening the passenger door for Stiles, letting the kid slide in while he held the dog, holding her softly as he sat down, trying to not jostle her. Danny hurried to hop in his side before starting the car. Neither spoke still, lost in their own mind as the engine purred to life and soon they were on the road, heading to the one place they could go. 

No that was not the hospital.

Deaton's clinic was dark on the outside. All the lights were off and the obvious sign on the door had stated the place was closed. After helping Stiles out of the car, holding Luna to his chest, his fingers scratching at her back softly, they walked briskly to the back. The back door was locked at night, but they knew that Deaton would be in. The man was always in. Danny knocked on the door, waiting for the man to open up.

"I don't want to be here," Stiles said finally. 

Danny looked over his shoulder at the boy. He was worried, that much was clear. He also seemed apprehensive and wary. Danny knew the other boy didn't trust Deaton. He didn't blame him. Danny could understand why. However, when he looked at the way Stiles was clutching to Luna and the blood coating his shirt and dripping a little down his arms, not to mention his own wounds, Danny shook his head. 

"There is no place else to go," Danny spoke softly. "I know you don't trust him, but you need help and so does she." He gestured to the dog who was looked like she was losing consciousness. Stiles held onto her a little tighter, his fingers rubbing her soft fur.

"Fine," Stiles said after a few moments as Danny knocked on the door again. "But you need looked before me. You're hurt more than me."

Danny hid the smile that was about to show. Leave to Stiles to be selfless, regardless of the turmoil in his mind. Thankfully, the door opened in a tired but alert looking Deaton greeted them. He barely had to look at both boys before he pushed the door open further, stepping to the side to allow them to pass. They immediately went past the stock room and the extra room for some cages that were used for animals before surgery or for an overnight stay. There was a gray cat in one and little dog in another, both barely keeping their eyes open.

They made their way to Deaton's examination room, Stiles quickly moving to put Luna on the steel slab in the middle of the room. Deaton had followed them quietly, no one saying a word until they were all in the room. Luna laid between them all, the dog whining softly at the nudging of her wounds, her eyes fluttering. Stiles stayed close to the dog, keeping his hand on her neck, providing quiet reassurance to her. Deaton stood in front of them on the other side of the slab, his calm, his eyes scrutinizing on them and the dog.

"What happened," Deaton asked, turning away from them to grab some gloves from the far counter. 

Danny looked to Stiles for a moment. Stiles met his eyes, the same wariness in their amber depths. Even in the fluorescent lights, his eyes were swimming with unease. Stiles didn't want to share much with Deaton, but also knew that Deaton wouldn't be able to help if he did not know what all happened. Seeing the tense expression on his face, Danny gave him a slight nod, hoping to let Stiles know that it was okay.

Letting out a deep breath of air, Stiles relayed everything that had happened. Danny listened silently with Deaton as Stiles told them what happened up until where Danny found him. He told them about visiting the station, about Luna running off, and then about the two wraiths, about Luna attacking the wraiths effectively protecting him. When he stopped suddenly, Danny realized that Stiles was about to tell Deaton about what happened to the wraiths. He was about to tell the man about the fire, the sudden burst of blames up his hand, and how it trailed after the monsters to burn them to death. 

Stiles was still for a few moments, his eyes downcast, his hand still on Luna as Deaton worked. The man had to cut a little of the dog's fur around the wounds, but only enough to reach it clean it an examine it. Deaton was quiet the whole time. Not saying anything or looking up from what he was doing. He was applying disinfectant, the smell of alcohol polluting the air. The gauze wipes coming away bloody and dirty, but effectively cleaning the wounds on the surface. Deaton also would take a little syringe of the rubbing alcohol to squirt into the the deeper holes, letting the bacteria be burned away and rise to the surface for him to wipe away. Luna would release a breathy whine here and there when he did that, but she mostly stayed quiet.

Danny had not noticed before how much blood she lost. It seemed like a lot. Her side was covered in the dark scarlet liquid. She had dirt on her fur, mixing with the blood, turning spots of her white and light tan fur brown, red, and pink. Danny had no doubt the dog was beautiful. Her color was not always seen in German Shepherds. Her fur was a mixture of light and dark, almost silver in spots. Luna was a perfect name for her. Danny shook his head fondly, knowing full well who had a hand in her naming as he looked at the boy next to him. 

When Stiles stopped speaking, it drew their attentions. Even Deaton stopped in his stitching of the dog to look up, his eyebrows rising up his forehead. 

"Stiles?"

The boy didn't move for a moment. He stared down at his hand on the dog, his thoughts far away from them. When he spoke again, it was in tentative tone. "Then they caught fire. They went up in flames from the ground. They burned up."

Deaton was looked up at the both of them, his eyes questioning, before they settled on Danny. Deaton seemed to be asking a silent question. Danny answered it, having heard it loud and clear. Danny has had many dealings with the Emissary vet to know how to read the man when he wanted to know something. Nothing needed to be said anyway, Danny had no doubt the man already suspected what happened, he just wanted confirmation. Deaton returned his eyes to Luna, silently threading a needle and thread to stitch her deep cuts now that they are cleaned. 

"Interesting," the vet said before threading the needle carefully through the first cut.

"Yeah," Stiles said, continuing on like Deaton hadn't spoken. His nerves starting to surface. "One moment they were there screaming their heads off, not literally, although that would have been beneficial. Save us from having to get all these cuts and bruises and all. The next moment we are on the ground, then whoosh," Stiles raised both hands above his head, "fire lit them up like over-sized candles. But then candles don't shriek and flail about so I guess that analogy doesn't make sense, but I don't know what else to call them. I wouldn't say sparklers because they were not sparkling and they didn't exactly burn out very quickly and I think-"

"Stiles!"

The boy stopped after Danny called his name. His rambling ceasing and his pacing stopped beside Luna again. He stood there as still as he could, his fidgeting of his feet not going unnoticed. Deaton was still watching what he was doing, finishing up on his stitching, wiping away any extra blood, but his mouth was twitching at the corners, looking like he was trying not to smile. Stiles looked a little sheepish, but was otherwise quietly nervous. He was gripping the edge of the steel slab. Leave it to Stiles to ramble even when he is stressed.

"Sorry," the boy said.

Deaton waved away his apology, giving him a small twitch of his lips in acknowledgement. "It has been a long night."

Both boys nodded. Time passed in silence, each one going over their own thoughts. The only sounds were the small snips of scissors on the stitching thread, the little whines from Luna and humming of the lights overhead. When Deaton was done with Luna's stitches, he wrapped a bandage around her body, Stiles having to hold her up a little so the bandage could be wrapped smoothly. Deaton gave her some shot of antibiotics to prevent from any infection and then gave her a sedative to help her sleep. They all watched as her eyes closed, her body going lax, before Deaton went to the sink to put the used utensils in the sink and throw away the bloody wipes. He then scrubbed his hands before gesturing to Danny to come over to sit on the chair the other slab. 

The vet pulled out more gauze wipes, another pair of scissors, two pair of needles with some thread, and antiseptic. He started with his chest, since it was the worst of it. Danny pulled away his shirt, his skin stung as the fabric passed over it making him grit his teeth. He looked down at his chest, five claws marks greeting him. They were not bad, but they could have been better. Blood caked his skin in some spots as it flowed from some of the deeper areas, mostly in center of his chest when the claws got too close. He knew they were scar a bit, right over his sternum and maybe halfway on his pectoral muscles, but it was hard to say at this point. When Deaton started to clean the wounds, they started to look better, fresh blood seeping through just little, but that was a good thing. It meant less infection to happen. With the pressure and the introduction of rubbing alcohol, the biting sting made him grip the edge of the cold slab, holding his breath in an effort to make the pain lessen. It didn't work very well.

The whole cleaning process, no one said a word. It was only when the man brought out small needle to stitch a few spots to help them close better did he speak.

"Stiles, do you remember that talk we had about how you used the mountain ash?" Deaton asked, looking up from making the first stitch in the deepest cut in the center of Danny's chest. Danny had to clench his jaw as Deaton worked as tenderly as possible.

Stiles was startled by that question, but shook off the expression to replace it with confusion. "Sure," he nodded. 

"What do you remember from it?"

Stiles shrugged a shoulder, quirking his lips. "I remember, you telling me that although it was unlikely, it could have been due to a...Spark?" Stiles finished in an unsure tone, looking at the floor in thought.

Deaton nodded in Danny's peripherals. Danny hadn't heard this story. What happened with mountain ash? What did Stiles do? This might have been around the time that Deaton figured out that Stiles was more than he seemed, but then it also could have been just an accident he witnessed. Either way, his interest was peaked and he was curious about where this was going. He sat as still as possible, letting the conversation continue, hoping that it might help Stiles to understand what the rest of the people in the room already knew.

"Exactly," Deaton said softly. "Do you remember what I said a Spark was?"

Stiles leaned forward on the slab Danny was perched on, his elbows on the metal, his chin resting on his closed hands. “Um, not really. I don’t suppose you are referring to a small discharge of electricity in the air between two points, are you?

Deaton just cocked an eyebrow at him, while Danny couldn’t resist the eye roll. Stiles chuckled a bit, waiting for a Deaton to elaborate on his point. Deaton was finished stitching some of the deepest parts on Danny's chest and now he was cleaning off the extra blood. The man grabbed a large bandage, slowing unwrapping it before taping it over the stitches. Both boys watched as he next took roll of gauze and tape, before wrapping it around the his torso over his chest and under his arms.

“A Spark is a type of force," Deaton explained, still handling the gauze. "A quality, if you will, that resides in a being. In some ways it is a source of multiple things. Wisdom, strength, will, even empathy.”

”So like a characteristic?"

Deaton nodded, snipping the gauze roll as he was finishing up before taping it in place. “In broad terms it could be considered that. However, it does have standing in supernatural terms. A spark lives within every living being, often providing those very ‘characteristics’, as you put it, into use. It is a part of a person, much like emotions. As time passes, the Spark grows with the person, highlighting some of their core qualities and abilities.”

”Okay, Stiles nodded. “What does this have to do with anything?"

”A Spark can also be a source of power. For some it can be a great source of emotion and will, allowing them to mold into more physical appearances. It allows those people to manifest their intentions and desires in various ways.”

"Oh sweet baby Jesus, spit it out already! What is a Spark?

Deaton’s mouth quirked, straightening his back, taking a step back from Danny taking a look at his handiwork before leveling a serious gaze upon Stiles. “Magic, Mr. Stilinski. A Spark allows some to use magic. The physical representation of intentions, desires, will, and nature all in one. The very expression of oneself into the physical world.”

The silence was nerve wracking. You could practically hear a pin drop. It was like waiting for the storm to start up again, the silence that was deafening before chaos took over. Danny had no idea he had stopped breathing, but he couldn’t help it. He didn’t turn around to see the other boy’s face but he could feel his eyes on the back of his head. It was like a weight pushing on his skin before it went away. 

“Alright,” he heard Stiles say in a low voice. “So magic exists. Why not? I mean werewolves and druids do too, so yeah. I’m not expecting Harry Potter shit to pop up, but there’s got to be some magic in the world with all the supernatural stuff right?”

"It would certainly help explain a few things. Like your use of the mountain ash.”

"Right,”Stiles said, the sound of his pacing now behind Danny. He turned to see him running his hands through his hair. “I mean who knows what kinds of magic is out there to-,” he stopped suddenlya few feet from them in mid stride, his back to them before he turned around, his eyes on Deaton. “What did you say?”

"It explains your use of mountain ash. When you sealed the barrier to prevent Jackson from escaping, without touching it.”

"No that wasn’t me. I wasn’t near it to move it," said Stiles, with a small roll of his eyes.

”You didn’t have to be. Your intentions were enough.”

"My-"

"Think about it. Your use of mountain ash, that came from your desire. The desire to protect your friends. Stop any more harm, to seal the barrier,” Deaton said, leisurely leaning back again the counter across from Danny.

Stiles shook his head, biting his lip. "That was everyone’s intention."

"Everyone else was fighting to prevent Jackson's escape, but you focused on the barrier.” Deaton coolly replied. “Your Spark helped make that happen. Whether intentional or not, it responded to your plea. Just like it did tonight with the fire."

"No, that's not true."

"It is true. You have the ability to use magic, Stiles.”

Stiles stopped, looking at Deaton, his eyes calculating. In the next moment, he laughed. His face broke into a wide grin as he busted up in laughter. It’s wasn't a belly laugh but it was like he found it all comical, enough to make him think that it was all a joke. When Danny sat there with Deaton, neither saying a word just staring, Stiles looked at their faces. To Danny, it looked liked Stiles was searching their expressions waiting for them to crack and join in in the joke with him. It never happened. 

Slowly Stiles’ composure came back to him, his laughing ceased and his smile dropped away. His eyes changed, growing a darker shade as he started to think, becoming serious. 

“No,” he said. Shaking his head slowly, his eyes darting between them. “No that is crazy.”

”Yet you have friends who are werewolves.” Deaton supplies calmly.

”No that is not possible. I’m not...magical. I’m just human,” he said breathlessly and scoffing at the same time, gesturing to himself. “I’m...I’m just...I’m a nobody.”

Danny shook his head as he found his voice to speak. “That is not true and you know it.”

"Come on Danny," Stiles said raking his hands through his hair making it more unruly. "Whatever happened out there, that wasn't me."

"So fire just burst out of no where?"

"Hey," he said spreading out his arms wide looking at his friend, "spontaneous combustion is not unheard of. Not to mention we didn't know what those monsters were capable of. Maybe they did it on accident."

Deaton shook his head, his mask over his features. "Wraiths do not have that kind of power. They are bodies of the dead brought back by dark means, purposes that vary. They may be monsters, possessing nothing but instincts and a desire to steal the souls of another, but they are still, in a sense, a shell of what they once were," he said while grabbing more antiseptic and pouring some on a gauze wipe.

"Oh," Stiles sighed for a moment trying to grasp at straws to make another excuse. "Well then there's another reason."

"Stiles, there is no other reason," Deaton said, leveling his wise gaze at the teen.

Already he was shaking his head, pacing a little next to Luna's slab. The dog still asleep, but breathing more normal. She didn't even stir at their voices or Stiles movement. "It can't be. It is not possible."

"Can you honestly say that, given everything you know? Everything you have seen?" Danny had asked, trying to stress the truth in his words. Danny didn't want to scare Stiles, he didn't want to make him worry, but Stiles had to know. He had to know the truth, deep down the boy knew something was different. "I know you saw my hand Stiles. I know you saw what I did."

Stiles was quiet for a time. His amber eyes wide like honey colored orbs, staring at Danny with a mixture of emotions that Danny was afraid to understand. He recognized fear and confusion. Stiles' brows were furrowed in the middle just a little as the teen thought. No doubt going over everything in his mind, everything that could now be explained. It was hard to watch. Yet Danny felt a bit of relief. He was relieved that Stiles finally knew. Not just what Danny was, but also about what he was.

"Why did you not tell me," he asked softly, almost breathlessly.

Danny felt himself frown. He felt his stomach flip at his words. "I wanted to. I wanted..."

Danny let the sentence fall away. He didn't know what he could say. He wanted to tell Stiles, ever since Stiles found out that he knew about the darker parts of the world. For some reason, he couldn't. There were no words to describe why, at least not yet, except that he wasn't ready.

Stiles looked like he was about to say something else, but Deaton cut him off. His voice a calming monotone in the silence as he began to wipe Danny's head of excess dirt and blood. "What happened the night you were with Gerard and the hunters?"

The question stunned the boys into silence for a few moments. Danny eyes the vet critically, trying to understand where he was going with this. The man knew what happened. Deaton knew what Stiles went through that night. Stiles was still dealing with the trauma of that horrific night. Why would he bring it up again? Danny looked at his friend, watching his face contort into surprise followed by a tense calm. If Danny was a werewolf, he would bet Stiles' heart was beating loud enough to sound like a drum.

"I was kidnapped," he said slowly. "Tortured and nearly killed."

"What else?"

Stiles swallowed hard, his Adam's apple bobbed with the force. "I was beaten to a pulp. Almost killed in the woods," he said between clenched teeth. Danny could see his hands clench open and close at his sides. His back was straight, but his shoulders were a little hunched over, like he wanted to hide, but wasn't going to run.

"But there is more to it," Deaton replied, not seeming to notice Stiles' tense demeanor as he switched to a clean wipe to finish wiping Danny's head. "Isn't there?"

"Deaton-," Danny began, only to be cut off by Stiles.

"What does it matter? You already know what happened," Stiles commented tersely. "I'm here. I'm alive and they are not."

Danny knew that the hunters were no longer around. He knew from the look on Stiles' face that night, that the hunters were dead. His curiosity was peaked though. He had no idea how Stiles escaped. He had no idea how the hunters ended up dead, where Stiles was able to get away. That did not mean he didn't have an idea. Danny had a very good guess. He suddenly knew why Deaton was pushing Stiles to answer this. The former Emissary wanted Stiles to figure it out. He wanted Stiles to think about that night, understand what had really happened. He wanted Stiles to face the truth and accept what he is capable of.

"Why is that," Deaton asked. "What happened to them?"

When Stiles didn't speak, the room fell quiet again. The boy fidgeted, shuffling his weight from foot to foot. He hugged his arms around himself, his fingers twitching to rub the sleeve of his torn jacket between them. 

"Your smart Stiles," Deaton said slowly, calmly, despite the thick strained atmosphere. "What does your gut tell you?"

Stiles sucked in a breath of air. The nervous rubbing of his jacket stopped, instead clutching it, so tight his knuckles went white. His breathing became heavy. His eyes unfocused, staring at the ground like it was something terrible. Danny saw Stiles take a small step back, like he was about to run. If Danny looked closer, he saw a small bead of sweat on his temple. Danny wanted to go over and snap Stiles out of his thoughts, but that might do more harm than good. He and Stiles were still relatively new to their friendship. There was still some things that Stiles was not comfortable sharing, same goes for Danny. But it didn't mean Danny still didn't want to help. Based on Stiles reaction, he was able to put two and two together. It answered the literal burning question. What really happened that night. 

"The wraiths," Danny said slowly, trying not to scare Stiles or cause him to react in a negative manner. "They caught fire. They burned up." When Stiles moved again another step, his hands started to shake. He looked the perfect mixture of horrified and miserable. The shadow of something covering his amber eyes. It reminded Danny of a chilling...guilt. "Like the hunters did, didn't they?"

Both Deaton and Danny looked at Stiles who remained quiet. Shaking in the silence of the clinic. He swallowed multiple times, like he had something stuck in his throat. He clung to his own arms like lifelines. The sweat of his brow became more pronounced. He looked on the verge of a panic attack. Danny has only seen Stiles have a panic attack once. It was a long time ago in middle school after his mother's death. It was not a sight he liked then and surely was not one he wanted to witness again. He didn't mean to cause Stiles any unwanted emotions. He just wanted to help him understand, just like Deaton. 

When Stiles raised his eyes to them, they were glassy, filling with tears. His head nodded to Danny's question as the tears filled his eyes.

"I-It was me. I...I killed them."

Danny saw it the moment those words broke through his lips. He saw the terror, the sadness, the heart-retching guilt, the shattering of any denial he had left. Stiles' eyes went wide before his shaking radiated up through his body. It traveled from his hands up his body. His whole body broke down, his knees giving way as he fell to the floor. Tears no longer contained, spilling onto his cheeks to splash on the floor. The words 'I killed them' repeating in the room like the endless lyrics to a song. It echoed off the clinic walls, making it sound worse than it was. 

Danny was there in the next moment, ignoring his aching body and the slight wobble he made as he vision went blurry for a second, kneeing beside Stiles as the boy wept. His hands shaking as he looked at them with wet almost unseeing eyes. It was like he was cursing them as he stared at them. Fear and disgust swirling back and forth on his face. Like his hands betrayed him. He was breathing in heaving breaths, barely getting the air he needed. Stiles swayed slightly as he trembled, opening and closing his hands over and over again like he was grasping for something to hold onto. Danny didn't think then, he didn't care to. He couldn't watch this happen to Stiles, not over this.

He clasped his hand into Stiles'. It was cold and clammy, shaking even under his grip. He squeezed it firmly, trying to provide any support he could. When Stiles looked up, he blinked seeming to realize Danny and Deaton were still there.

He tried to back away from them then. "No," he yelled, making the pair of them jump. "No, don't touch me. Please, don't. I don't wanna hurt you." Danny moved with the scrambling teen. He couldn't let Stiles run from him. It was not going to help anything.

"No Stiles," he said holding on tight, moving with his across the floor until Stiles' back pressed against the opposite wall. "It's okay. Listen to me."

"Please," he pleaded. "I don't wanna hurt you too."

Danny gave a sad smile, but stood firm. "You won't. Listen to me. You are not a killer. You protected yourself. They were going to kill you Stiles. They were going to hurt you."

"But I killed them," he repeated in between heavy breaths. More tears fell, but he didn't try to shake Danny off. "I'm a...I'm a murderer."

"No!" It might have been a little to harsh, but Danny didn't care. He couldn't let Stiles believe this. He was watching Stiles break apart in front of him. "You are not a murderer. You are not a killer. They were! They were going to kill you and they were going to kill Erica and Boyd. You protected yourself and you also helped protect them."

When Stiles shook his head Danny clenched his hand harder, moving so that he was in his line of sight, making sure he saw his face. "You are not like them! You are nothing like them." He gripped his hands with both of his. Holding on tightly, rubbing his thumbs over the other boy's knuckles in an attempt to soothe him.

Stiles continued to cry, his face a mess of tears and dirt. He brought his legs up to his chest, hugging himself. He still held Danny's hands, squeezing them every so often like he was making sure he was there. Burying his face in his arms and knees, he hid his face, letting the sobs roll through him and the heaving breaths continuing. Danny put his forehead on Stiles' hair, trying to offer any sort of silent comfort he could. It wasn't until Stiles jerked, that they both looked up to see Deaton kneeling beside them. He had a small syringe in his hand, taking it away from Stiles' arm.

"What are you doing," Danny asked quickly, feeling his eyes go wide.

Deaton put his hand on Stiles' shoulder, who flinched a bit, but his eyes started to flutter. "Gave him something to help him calm down, to rest. He needs it."

"Asshole," Stiles stammered. His grip was slackening in Danny's hands. His eyes closing before he forced them open again to glare at the vet.

Deaton gave a small smile in return. "You can hate me later. For now, rest."

Like Stiles had a choice in that. Despite the half-hearted glare and the muttering of no doubt threats and insults against Deaton, Stiles' eyes started to close. His body went limp against the wall, slowly sinking down a little as sleep finally took him under. His hands never left Danny's but he wasn't holding tightly anymore. Now that Stiles was under, Danny looked at his face. Puffy eyes, circles under his eyes, pink streaks from tears down his cheeks. His skin glistened with left over sweat and tears. Slowly, Danny reached up to wipe away the tears on his cheeks, feeling his heart clench at the sight of a sleep deprived, torn Stiles. 

Deaton moved away from them, heading back to the far counter, putting the syringe in the sink. Danny followed after a few moment, carefully removing his other hand from Stiles'. Neither said anything as they listened to the silence of the room. The soft murmur of the lights above them, the hum of the small fridge next to the bottom cabinets for medicines and shots. It was almost deafening, but given the hell of a night Danny has gone through, he almost welcomed it.

When Deaton turned back around, his face was grim. He looked as tired as Danny felt. The vet leaned back against the counter, folding his hands against his legs. "I never expected things to become so...troubled."

"How did you expect them to be," Danny asked folding his arms over his bandaged chest.

Deaton rubbed the back of neck, sighing heavily. "I expected the pack to be strong. I expected them to hold true together."

"A lot of good that has done." Danny said, wiping his hand down his face, gathering excess dirt and left over sweat on his hand. "The pack is in tatters. Two betas are missing while another is newly transformed with no one to really help him. Scott has practically elected exile with Issac in tow. Stiles..." he looked at the sleeping boy against the wall, feeling his own sadness wash over him before pushing it away, "Stiles was wrongly kicked out, hurt beyond words, and now dealing with more than he ever should have to."

"We can help Stiles."

Danny leveled an annoyed look at Deaton. "Help him how?

"Danny, you and I have not always been on the best of terms, but don't play coy," Deaton said with a straight face.

Danny knew what the older man was leading up to. "What if Stiles does not want that?"

"That is up to him," Deaton shrugged. "It is his decision of where he goes from here. Now that he knows the truth, he may have questions. He may want to know more about what it is he can do."

"Questions, yes, but not necessarily the 'want' to pursue this any further. You are suggesting to train him. You saw what he looked like just now. He just found out what he could do and the two times he has used his magic, he has unwillingly killed," Danny said, gesturing to Stiles his a nod of his head.

"That maybe, but both times it was to protect himself. He has no control."

"He doesn’t understand what he has done. You think he will want to control this, after all that has happened? He might not want anything to with it."

Deaton sighed heavily like he was trying to explain to a child. It irked Danny. Yeah their history with each other was not always pleasant and this was one reason why. "He awoke his Spark in a period of heightened emotional stress, on the verge of losing his life. Unleashing his magic along with it."

"He has been in dangerous situations before, why now," Danny pointed out.

"Perhaps this time it was because he was alone," Deaton sullenly supplied. "Because he had no one else to help him."

"That is the pack's fault," Danny spat coldly. "Also partially yours too, or have you forgotten?"

"No I have not. I never will forget my hand in all of this. Regardless of how we got here, we are still here. That boy is hurt and confused. He will want answers."

"Of course he will. This is Stiles, the Sheriff's kid. He is too curious for his own good."

"That he is."

"You knew, didn’t you," Danny said speculatively. "You knew even before I did that Stiles had the ability to perform magic." Deaton avoided his gaze, looking at the sleeping boy in the corner with a look Danny could not guess. "Why had you never told him before or at least helped him to figure it out?

Deaton took a moment before replying, his face in that same mask. "That is a story only Stiles can hear, when he is willing."

Danny rolled his eyes, clenching his jaw at his irritation for the vet. "What about the pack?"

"Time will tell. But I firmly believe that Stiles can help them," the mocha colored man said, nodding his head to his own answer.

"What makes you think he will want to?"

"Because he is a good person, more so than he believes right now. He will do what he can to protect them, to help them."

Danny sighed heavily, slumping against the slab behind him, putting his hands in his shorts pockets. "We shall see." Deaton went back to putting his supplies away, silently ending the conversation, but Danny wasn't done yet. There was more to be said, but the one thing he found his mind going to was of the biggest concern. "He's going to be in danger now, isn't he?"

"He was always in danger," Deaton said without turning towards him. "Twice his powers have surfaced. Twice he has released a large amount of magical energy. Even now I can sense his magic. It surrounds him more now where as a few days ago, it was just a little, like a brush on the surface. His Spark has awoken and with it, his means of magic. It will get stronger."

"He is not going to like the danger it will bring."

"The best he can do is prepare himself. Prepare and grow," he said softly.

"Alright," Danny said, "I'll talk to him. I don't know how much he will want to listen, but I'll try."

Deaton turned back towards him. "Take him home," he said looking at Stiles. "His wounds are superficial. The cream I made him will help them to heal faster. The same for your head wound. You may have a minor concussion, you know how to use your own magic to help with that. I'll keep her," he said gesturing towards the dog. "I'll watch over her through the night. Stiles can come over tomorrow to see her. I will also call the station in the morning, give them a cover story for her disappearance."

Danny nodded while shrugging his shirt back on, careful to not aggravate his stitches, moving over to the dog to give her one more look over and pet on the head. He made a mental note to thank her later for saving Stiles. He crouched next to Stiles, picking him up bridal style. Stiles was light, lighter than he should be. Which meant some disturbing things to Danny. Danny liked to believe he was strong enough to carry Stiles, but as dead weight, it was hard to say. He could feel the ridges of his ribs under his hand and the slight protrudes of his spine on his back. Stiles was always skinny, but was he always this skinny?

Danny needed to keep a more watchful eye on Stiles. Especially now. Deaton followed them out, opening the door for Danny as he carried Stiles out to the car. The whole time Stiles was out of it. He had his arm around Danny's neck, his head on his shoulder. His skin felt cool to the touch, but he was breathing deeply and calmly. It was the first time Danny had seen Stiles look peaceful in the past few days. He hoped it would become a regular occurrence. He walked behind Danny as they headed towards his car, ready to help if Danny needed it. When Stiles was snoozing softly in the passengers seat, Danny stepped back to close the door, nodding at Deaton in thanks. 

Climbing in, he started his car, pulling out onto the road to head back to Stiles' house. The green clock shone at him as he drove, showing it was almost three in the morning. Danny was tired. He had been at school all day so he has been up for almost 24 hours. It was a good thing school was over now, he wouldn't be able to get out of bed for class if he did. He wouldn't want to go to school anyway, not after tonight. Danny found himself glancing over at the sleeping teenage boy beside him. 

Even in the dim lights of his dashboard and the clock, he could see the shadows under Stiles' eyes. It was no secret that Stiles was not getting rest. You could blame his exhaustion on the day's events but that would not be the full truth. Danny knew better.

Driving down the empty road it gave Danny a chance to think. He thought about everything that has happened in such a short time. The drastic changes from what everything had been to what they are now. It was like the world had turned on it's side. No matter how much Danny thought about all that has led them to this point, it still gave him a headache to make sense of it all. The memory of seeing Stiles so upset was never going to leave him. He looked so defeated and disgusted with himself that it bordered on hatred. Danny had thought Stiles would be over the moon when he found out he had magic, but he never expected this. He could never have predicted Stiles would act like this. He bypassed all the awe, excitement, even confusion and went straight to horrible. The boy blamed himself for killing not only the wraiths-which Danny was grateful for-but also the hunters.

He believes he murdered them. How could he think that? He was beaten and tortured, nearly raped. He had no choice and even if he knew about his magic, would he have not protected himself. Stiles didn't know, how could he? 

Danny was surprised Stiles was so adamant about him being anything more than human, that magic was out of the question for him. I guess running with wolves where he practically was the only human would do that to ones mentality. Stiles expected nothing else. He was human and he once believed that was all he was. It made Danny sad to think about how much Stiles thought so little of himself, not to mention how much he was going guilt himself into believing he murdered those hunters. They deserved it after what they had done. Stiles had to know that they would have done far worse to him if his magic hadn't acted.

Danny didn't understand. There were things he wanted to talk to Stiles about, but he had no idea how to bring them. They were painful enough as they were.

He pulled up to Stiles house, the Sheriff's car was in the driveway. That made him nervous. There were no lights on in the house, so he hoped Noah Stilinski was asleep. The last thing Danny wanted was to deal with a tired, worried Sheriff whose son was asleep and coming home well past midnight. The fact that Stiles had driven himself somewhere, since his jeep wasn't parked next to the Sheriff's, it was going to make tomorrow even worse. Regardless, Danny had to get Stiles inside so he could rest, hell he himself was about to crash.

Parking in the driveway, he turned off his car, reaching behind him to grab a jacket from the back seat before getting out to get Stiles. Instead of carrying him, he shook Stiles. He was still delirious, his eyes glazed over, but somehow he understood having to get up out of the car. Danny held him up, his arm wrapped around his waist as he half-carried, half dragged Stiles towards his front door. He grabbed Stiles' keys-which were thankfully in his front jeans pocket, like seriously Danny was counting his blessings that Stiles had his keys on him-before letting themselves inside.

The house was dark and quiet. Danny stopped at the threshold, listening to make sure no one was waiting for them. He helped Stiles up the stairs, carefully trying to not make noise. The creaks of some of the steps under their weight made him pause a few moments, before continuing. The whole time Stiles' head was on Danny's shoulder, soft grumbling escaping his lips incoherent in his words. Making it down the hallway, they entered the bathroom, closing the door behind them before he turned on the light. If Stiles' dad was awake, he didn't want to attract his attention by having a light shining in the hallway.

He sat Stiles down on the close toilet before helping him take off his jacket-more like him taking it off for him, while his arms remained dead limbs. He grabbed a washcloth from under the sink, wetting it before, wiping at Stiles skin. The cold water helped to wake Stiles up a little bit more, be he still didn't say anything or moving much. Danny cleaned the cuts on Stiles' arms, collecting the dried blood and bits of dirt. Rinsing and repeating the process a few times until the boy's skin had a small tinge of pink. He wiped off his face a little before, rinsing the wash cloth off again and leaving it in the sink to dry. Danny ran the water over his own face before drying off. He found the cream Deaton made, squeezing out a dollop of it before applying to Stiles' arms and his own head on his tender cut on the crown. He will have to deal with that in the morning. 

Right now they needed sleep. Bringing Stiles into his bedroom was like a switch. The boy woke up enough to notice his own bed, moving out of Danny's hold to flop on his bed face first. Danny suppressed a chuckle before closing the door and moving to undo Stiles' shoes and pulling them off. He left Stiles the way he was, letting him his exhaustion and the residual effects of the sedative Deaton used to take over again. 

Danny laid on the floor next to the bed using his jacket, folding it up into a ball to lay his head on. He looked at the white ceiling, listening to the sound of the settling house around him, the soft deep breathing of Stiles beside him. Danny could feel his tired body ache and his eyes feel heavy as he finally stopped moving for the day. Slowly he let his body shut down, hoping sleep would come quickly.

The last thing he remembered thinking before total blackness was of the fire, licking at the wraiths. The fire underneath Stiles' hand as his eyes took on a glint he has never seen before, the terrible screams echoing in his ears as he lost consciousness.

Chapter Text

Stiles awoke with a start, his heart hammering, his sheets twisted around his legs and his skin clammy with a cold sweat. The nightmare still lingering, it's clutches beginning to loosen. He had bitten his lip. keeping himself quiet as the nightmare woke him up. Thankfully he didn't scream out. This was a more mellow version of his nightly terrors, but no less shaking.

It began like it always did, in the Argent basement. Gerard and Grant hovering over him, wicked smiles, knives in hands. He could still feel the blades on his skin, cutting into him like butter. The cold sting on his skin as air rushed into his open wounds, the whole time Erica and Boyd in the distance, watching like they did that night. It was like he was reliving it all over again. The biting cuts and the invasive hands. Grant always getting bolder and bolder with his touches with each nightmare. Stiles feared what his dreams will conjure up next. He didn't want his subconscious to think of anything else.

He hadn't meant to fall asleep, but thanks to Deaton and that sedative, he didn't have much choice. 

This time, the nightmare started the same, but it ended differently. He did not wake from the pain like he was expecting to do again. No, this time it was due to Erica and Boyd. During the torture, Gerard moved over to betas, Grant pulling him away from them. Erica and Boyd watching with wide eyes. Gerard appeared behind them, a smug smile on his face. The further Stiles was pulled from them, the more they became more beaten down, bloody and bruised. Stiles remembered screaming out for them, but got no answer. The last thing he remembered was Erica's tear filled eyes, staring at him in hurt and terror, her words echoing in ears over and over like a mantra.

"You didn't come back for us."

Stiles woke up then, the words still fresh, providing their own sting the nightmarish knives never could. His breathing was labored and the sting of tears did nothing to help with that. That was different. He had never dreamed that before, but he couldn't deny it now. He knew it was a matter of time before it caught up to him. His dream Erica was right. He didn't go back for them. He left them there at the Argent house to endure God knows what else. He left them their and he didn't fight back. No matter how weak he was, he failed them. He failed them even more by not getting to them, getting the pack to go after them as soon a possible. Chris may have let them go, but in what kind of state?

They were weakened enough. Practically easy targets for other to take them. Is that why they were still missing? Were they kidnapped again? Are they being held because they were hurt anyway, just ripe for the picking? Easy opportunity. If not kidnapped again, then where are they? Were they not here because of that night? Was it because of the torture they went through? The fact that Derek, their Alpha, didn't find them? 

Or is it because of me, Stiles thought, the image of Erica's face making him shiver.

You know that feeling guilt gives you? Mixing with hurt and a wretched sadness, eating away at your insides making it hard to breathe. Yeah, that was feeling he was becoming all to familiar with. He thought learning that he killed 4 people, whether they deserved it or not, made him feel bad, no this was far worse. No matter how hard he tried he couldn't escape what his mind was telling him. He could lie to himself all he wants, deny it with every neuron in his brain. But he couldn't deny what he knew deep down was true. He did leave them and he was too late in his return. They were already gone, still currently missing, because he didn't go back for them.

He could feel the tears in his eyes, threatening to spill over, his breath hitching in his throat as he sat on his bed. It wasn't till he saw a form move in his peripherals that he looked over in surprise. Danny was lying on bedroom floor, still asleep, head cushioned on a black jacket. He was shirtless, but his chest was covered with large bandages. Also he had a fuzzy throw over his body, covering most of his torso so you would have to look closely to see the bandages. Stiles was surprised he seemed to be sleeping comfortably, his face peaceful in the rising morning sun, just peaking through his window. He was still wearing his jeans, much like Stiles was.

Stiles was still wearing his clothes from yesterday, wrinkled and disheveled from tossing and turning last night. He still felt sweaty, his shirt damp around him. Slowly he ran his hand over his eyes, dispelling the tears there. He wasn't going to cry where Danny could hear or where anyone could for that matter. He refused to. He would deal with the nightmare and his guilt his own way. He grabbed his phone from his pocket, looking at the screen and seeing three misses messages. Two from his dad last night asking where he was, and one from Scott. The one from his best friend was short and simple, 'Hey'. Shaking his head, he stuffed the device back into his pocket. He inched his way off his bed and went to his dresser to grab a pair of boxers, long sleeve shirt and jeans. He paused and threw a shirt down at the bed for Danny when he woke up before heading to the bathroom. His dad's bedroom door was ajar, signaling the man was awake and most likely downstairs. 

Stiles had to be quick. He peeled off his clothes after entering the bathroom and locking himself in. He took a look at himself in the mirror and almost stared with his mouth open. His torso was still a mess, but it was not bruised so much anymore. The lingering cuts were healed mostly now, just pink lines on their last mend. The fresh cuts on his arms from the wraiths were a little angry, scabbing over, but someone would think he got in a fight with a cat than supernatural monster. Under the last bits of bandage on his chest and abdomen, the large cuts were mostly healed, now scarring over. The one on his chest was healing white and pink. He was happy to note that it wouldn't be as noticeable, since he was already pale. The same couldn't be said for the one on his gut. That one was larger and it would take more to heal it. The skin was healing nicely, but he could see the scarring tissue, pink and raised. After he took out the left over stitches the morning before, he applied the cream Deaton gave, hoping that it would heal the cuts-secretly hoping that it would make it all disappear and he had no scars at all. Apparently that was wishful thinking. This was the evidence left now. This was for the world to see what he had gone through. 

The bruises on his body were now yellow and fading. Instead of the purple, black and red they were almost a week ago. The bruises that remained persistent in the their appearance were the ones on his hips, highlighting as finger and hand prints from Grant. They were red and yellow now, but still worse that the others. Stiles wasn't aware at the time of how hard Grant was gripping him, trying to hold him still. It made him sick to think about it. His fractured ribs were no longer broken and he could breathe much easier. The criss-cross cuts on his left shoulder blade were still healing as well. They would scar as well, but they would be like the on on his chest. The burn on his side was still there, pink and red skin in a jagged line. That would never fully heal either. He wouldn't classify it as a scar, but he didn't know what else it could be other than discoloration.

Overall he looked...better. His face was healed too. The bruises were gone and the cuts on his eyebrow and lip long since faded to only be slight lines. The cream worked wonders, he had to admit. Sadly it would do nothing for the shadows under his eyes. That he would have to endure. Just like everything else.

Stripping off the bandages, he hopped into the shower after it warmed up. He heated water running down his sore body, relaxing and soothing. The steam helped to clear his nose and his head by fogging it up as he breathed. He tried to not think during the shower, instead letting himself enjoy it. He needed the small bit of relaxation. Stiles felt hot water run deep into every part of his skin, into every muscle, every lingering bruise, and every healing cut. He stood under the spray for a solid 10 minutes before washing his hair and body, getting rid of the previous day and letting it wash down the drain. 

Stepping out in the steam filled bathroom felt good. He felt clean but he also felt tingly and lighter than he did before he stepped in. He didn't redress his cuts, deciding that the cream would be enough. After reapplying the cream to all cuts, even those on his arms, he dressed, brushed his teeth, and went out to head downstairs.

He hadn't really seen his dad since that Friday night. Only in passing or not at all. It made him sad, but he had no doubt his dad was still disappointed in him. Probably hurt and worried too. He just couldn't tell his dad the truth. He couldn't imagine his dad's reaction and even if tried, he always picture his dad looking at him like he was crazy. He supposed he could prove it to him, I mean he did have evidence, werewolves who are-were-friends, not mention his magic. So yeah he could prove the validity of the past year to his dad. However, what Stiles most wanted to avoid other than his dad thinking he was crazy, was his fear. Fear of his son. Fear of what his son has gotten into and having lied about it for so long. 

Stiles knew that if his dad knew, then it would paint a target on his back. It was bad enough he was already a target because his was a law enforcement officer, now those who knew his name would find out he was the Sheriff's son. They wouldn't just go after him, but also his father. They would do that not just to get to him and therefore the pack, but also to find out what his dad knew. He couldn't let that happen. He had to make sure his dad stayed as far from this life as possible. It didn't matter what happened to him, this was his doing anyways. His dad never had to know. 

Heading downstairs he found his dad in the kitchen, sitting at the table drinking coffee, reading the newspaper. When his son came in the room, Noah Stilinski looked up to meet his eyes. Stiles felt fidgety, but stood still under his dad's gaze. He tried not to notice the bags under the man's eyes and the tenseness of his body as he watched him. 

"Hey dad," he said, putting a smile on his face.

"Hey kiddo," his dad said, putting down the newspaper. "You look better," he said, moving his eyes up Stiles body and face, searching for any more signs of trauma.

I feel better, really." Stiles said, stretching slightly and feeling some of his muscles pop with a dull ache. He really did feel better. His body felt better than it had in days. Minor aches and pains here and their, but that was a given after what he went through. He supposed the real reason he felt like this was due to Deaton's healing and the cream he made him. Stiles wasn't sure how Deaton healed him since he was asleep at that time, but he was certain Deaton used a little 'mojo' to do it.

Stiles had never seen Deaton use magic. He wondered if it was how Danny did or if it was different for each user. Either way it made him curious. He supposed he should at least say thank you to the vet, but his emotions were still raw from that night. He didn't want to see the man and have it all flood back into him. He already said what he needed to that night anyway. He did not trust the man, but he wasn't ungrateful for what he did.

His dad nodded, taking a sip of coffee which Stiles eyed with wide eyes. His body moved before his mind did, going over to the coffee maker, pulling a mug from the drying rack next to the sink. Stiles pour the dark liquid and added a little sugar and some sweet cream creamer in it. Yes, that is how he liked his coffee, so sue him. Not everyone can drink it black. Sitting down across from his dad at the table, he nursed his mug, take a sip and smiling to himself at the comforting taste.

"So where were you last night? You weren't home and your jeep is missing from the driveway. Were you out with Scott?"

"No," he said honestly, ignoring the mention of Scott. "I was with Danny, he's a friend from school. We just went out last night." His dad smiled faintly at him, eyeing him with a glint.

"The same boy who is up in your room, still asleep on the floor?" His dad grinned then at Stiles' saucer like eyes.

Stiles nodded after a moment, at a loss for words. He should have figured his dad would check on him, especially after getting home so late. Not to mention how last Friday went. Any parents who gave a damn about their child would act the same way. It made Stiles feel a little better that at least his dad still cared about him, despite his lying. "Uh...yeah that's him," he said carefully. "He gave me a ride home and it was already so late, so I asked him to stay."

"So are you two...you know," his dad began, looking away from his son. Stiles saw his dad try and grasp for the right words, his face turning a little pink. "Are you and he...you know-."

"As a matter of fact, dad, I do not know. What are you getting at," Stiles asked in utter confusion. Why was his dad acting like this? What did he think he and Danny were up to?

Noah sighed, looking up at the ceiling, like he was praying for patience. Well Stiles couldn't agree more with that if his dad didn't spit it out. "Are you dating?"

Stiles nearly choked on the cup of coffee. The hot liquid going down the wrong pipe to make him gagged and cough. He felt his skin heat up at his attempts at clearing his air passages to breathe. When he looked at the Sheriff he felt his own eyes go wide, unintentionally looking at the ceiling almost like he expected Danny to have heard it too and either bust up laughing or run out of the house. It was even more embarrassing when Noah looked at him with a slight smug look like he just caught him with his hand in the cookie jar.

"Okay, first off," Stiles struggled, his voice sounding wheezy. "Danny and I are not Danny and I." At the arched brow on his dad's face, Stiles continued, flailing his arms in embarrassment. "Honestly dad, we are not dating. We don't even like each other like that. He's a friend, that's all."

"U huh," the hint of a smile still on his old man's face. 

Stiles threw a piece of his dried toast at his dad, it wasn't like he was eating much anyway. "I'm serious! Danny is friend, nothing more. He has been around the past few days, helped me get over the beating the other school 's players did last Friday. He stood up for me that night. He's a good guy dad, honestly, he is."

He couldn't mistake the dark look that clouded over his dad's features when he mentioned last Friday. He remembered all too well the look on his dad's face, seeing the cuts and bruises on his face. If the man saw the rest of his body that night, who knows what would happen. He could imagine his dad disappearing in front of him, the Sheriff stepping in and taking control of everything, hunting down the bastards that hurt him. Stiles couldn't allow that to happen. He couldn't let his dad do anything rash, not for his own mistakes and most certainly not after Stiles had lied to him for so long. 

If only things were different. After everything, he wasn't sure he would be able to look his dad in the eye again. He felt so much guilt, so much anger towards himself for letting this go on that it has become almost second nature to lie to the man. He never meant to hurt his dad. The man wasn't stupid, he was goddamn Sheriff. Stiles had no doubt he knew Stiles was hiding something, many somethings, and his lying was a regular thing anymore. It made his heart clench painfully, knowing that his dad was hurting, watching his son drift away from him. Stiles had no choice though. He had to protect his dad. From all of this. He knew that if his dad found out, the man would do anything to prevent Stiles' involvement. Hell he would throw himself into danger if it meant protecting his son.

Apple doesn't fall far from the tree, huh, he thought to himself sadly.

He already lost his mother and that hurt more than anything else in the world, he couldn't lose his dad too. He wouldn't survive that.

If only things were simpler. Now they are even more complicated. Last night he found out he could do magic. Magic of all things. In his wildest dreams, he thought such a thing could be possible, but he never once truly believed it. Yet after everything he has seen and witnessed over the past year alone, it made sense. Magic had to exist in some way. The supernatural doesn't come without some form of magic right? 

Last night he found out what he was capable of. Or at least in short terms anyway. He had no idea what that all meant. On one hand, he couldn't deny he was thrilled, excited even. The idea of no longer being a frail, weak human, dependent on others during the supernatural crises was appealing. Despite starting to train with Argent, he still felt weak. He knew it would start to fade with time, the more he learned, the more Chris taught him, but he couldn't shake that feeling. The feeling of helplessness. The desperation to do something to help and not stand on the sidelines. Even if he had no pack now, hardly any friends, he would still help protect them if it came down to it. He knew that for sure.

On the other hand, he was terrified. Terrified of what it all meant for him. Was he still human? He never wanted to be a werewolf, one reason why he turned down Peter Hale's offer all those months ago. Back when the man was a bat crap crazy, murderous, Alpha. He turned it down. He didn't want that, even if Peter killed him then, he never wanted to be a creature to be feared. Now, he wasn't sure what he was. Human or not, he still felt that same fear. The chilled spike inside his gut, sitting like a weight and never lifting. He has only had his magic for a short time-Deaton confirmed that-and what has he done with it so far? He killed four hunters and two wraiths.

He has already hurt people with it. Granted, a part of him knew the hunters deserved it and the wraiths were monsters; wanting nothing more than to kill him and Danny, but still. He has never killed before. He may have had a hand in Peter's death back when he was a psycho Alpha, but it was not him to deal the final blow. He knew the Molotov cocktails wouldn't kill the feral Alpha, it would just harm him or at least distract him enough for Derek to do what needed to be done. It was all for the protection of the town, his friends, his dad. At that time it was to help Scott hold onto hope of returning human. Yet even now, Stiles knew Scott would never have done it. He never would have killed someone like that, no matter what it would have done for him. But Stiles?

Stiles never thought about Peter's demise as being an accomplice to murder, not once did he think that his hands were just as dirty as Scott's or Derek's in that. Yet now, now he wasn't so sure. Was that a foreshadowing of what his future would become? Was that his first clue? If he so easily could have killed Peter, deranged Alpha or no, then what was to stop him from doing the same to others if given the right incentive.

That was one thing he never thought about when he and Scott were brought into this life. He never thought about what it would cause him to do. What it would cause him to become. What his dad would think of him now, he couldn't help but wonder. Not to mention the rest of his former pack. Would Scott see him in a new light? Would Lydia trust him again? Would Erica and Boyd be afraid of him now if they were here? Would Derek...would Derek even look at him again?

How naive was I, he thought. To think innocence would stay true and pure.

Stiles wished things were different. If not different, that they were better. He wished some things never happened. If only those things never happened, he could enjoy what he uncovered, what he learned. As much as he enjoyed learning about the supernatural, seeing things that he thought was only pop culture, the stuff of imagination, he was naive to think there was no price to pay for it. The world was darker now. Dark, twisted, cold, and cruel. No longer hidden behind the false image of what the world was made out to be. 

If only.

"Well I'll be glad to meet him," his dad said, breaking him out of his troubling thoughts. "That way I can thank him."

Stiles nodded, going back to his coffee as his dad pulled the paper back over to him. No one mentioning the previous Friday further. Stiles knew his dad would not drop the subject. Eventually he would get something out of Stiles or he would find someone who knew the truth. It was a good thing only three people knew what happened. Deaton would have no reason to cross paths with his dad. Chris mostly kept to himself anyways and was practically an upstanding citizen according to the law. That was just part of the facade he used to hide what he truly does for a living. That only left Danny.

Danny knew about that night. The only he didn't know was every vivid detail. Stiles had never spoken about what had happened and Danny never asked. He was thankful for that. The evidence on his body spoke volumes for him. If there was a time Stiles felt comfortable talking to Danny about it, he hoped it would be a time when it was easier to handle. If he talked about it now, he feared he would have a panic attack. He nearly had one last night and he didn't want to burden Danny with that again.

He remembered Danny's face, hauntingly sad eyes, panic etched into his skin. It made Stiles feel not only guilty but sad that in his own panic, he caused Danny to feel the same.

He needed to tell Danny the story he told his dad about that night. It was more an excuse rather than a story, but he was sticking to it. He had to. If there was a time for Stiles to tell his dad the truth on everything, then it had come and gone. He couldn't tell him now. Especially not after Stiles had uncovered his magic. He feared what his dad would do if he found out. What he feared most in that moment, is if his dad would look at him the same way.

The sound of footsteps on the stairs shocked him back to the present, someone coming through the living room to find the two men sitting at the table, both looking up to meet the intruder. Danny stood in the open threshold, his short black hair slightly tousled, his dark eyes tired. He was wearing one of Stiles' shirts; black with a small Captain America shield on the left side of the chest, since his own was still in tatters, which was smart on his part. It was a little too small for him, but it was passable. His jeans from yesterday were wrinkled and a little dirty, but hopefully his dad wouldn't notice. He was rubbing the back of his head when he came in, his eyes going a little wide and his mouth gaping open when he saw the Sheriff sitting at the table. Stiles had to admit Danny looked adorable in that moment. If there was a caption to be made, it would have been 'Oh shit busted.'

Stiles had to drink from his cup to hide his smile.

"Uh hi," Danny stammered, looking between both men before his eyes fell on Stiles.

"Morning," his dad said. "You must be Danny."

Danny nodded, his eyes momentarily flicking to Stiles before he stepped further into the kitchen, extending his hand to Noah. The man stood up, shaking his hand in the process. Stiles could see a glimpse of a small smile on his dad's face.  "Yes sir," Danny responded automatically. Stiles has rarely ever seen Danny nervous, but when he did, there was always a slight blush to the tops of his cheeks. He cleared his throat and nodded towards Stiles. "I am sorry if I interrupted. I didn't mean to sleep so late."

Stiles didn't miss the way Noah's eyebrow cocked, the same hint of smile on his face. "It's fine Danny," Stiles said waving his hand. "We were exhausted last night."

"Speaking of which," his dad interjected, sitting back down, looking at Danny with a hard look, making the teen gulp. "Where were you both last night that you were out so late. I could understand you and Scott," he said eyeing Stiles, "well because you are hellions at best, but you know better than to be out so late without letting me know."

"It was my fault." Danny said ahead of Stiles. The Sheriff looked back at Danny, the boy blushing pink again at the attention. "We went out to a party last night at our friend Lydia's house. Since the last day of school was yesterday, she does it every year. I asked Stiles to go and we stayed longer than expected. I drove him home last night. We were going to get his jeep this morning."

Stiles had to admit, it sounded plausible. Danny didn't even stutter. It was also partly true. Lydia did usually hold parties at her house, none of which Stiles had ever attended, but he did know about them. Whether there was one last night he was not aware of it. Noah was quiet for a few moments, silently assessing Danny's statement. Stiles hated when his dad went all Sheriff, but sometimes he thought his dad couldn't help it. He couldn't see his face, but he could tell that he was staring at Danny, waiting for him to break or fidget too much under his gaze. When Danny stood calmly, looking back at the man evenly, his dad looked at him. 

"Stiles?"

Stiles smiled sheepishly. "I know, I'm sorry dad. I know, I should have called. I didn't think about it and I messed up. We weren't out too late, but yeah I should have told you ahead of time where I was. I swear there was no alcohol, there was no drugs or drinking. Lydia may be popular, but even her mother would kill her for throwing a party with booze."

Stiles didn't look away from his father. He knew his dad was still testing them, waiting for a hint of deception. To be fair, all of it was a lie, but Stiles had gotten very good at those. It made his stomach twist at yet another lie he had to tell his father. When would it end, he thought. He watched his dad sigh heavily before nodding his head. Taking a sip of his coffee before speaking again.

"Well, don't let it happen again. I'm glad you had fun though. It's been a while since you did something fun with friends." His dad's face grew a little sad at that last statement and it made Stiles nervous. He was glad his dad believed him, but at the same time, he almost felt like his dad was rolling over. It surprised him. 

His dad always fought for answers, more answers than was necessary. And for something like this he would ground him as punishment at minimal. This was not the first time Stiles had been out late, coming home at early morning hours and worrying his dad. If Stiles had to count, he would lose track. Thankfully his dad did not know about all those times, working the night shifts during some of those. It made it easier to hide his bruises and guilt if his dad had no clue. Other times he wasn't so lucky. His dad grilling him for answers, then receiving excuses or explanations that could be easily understood, but the end result would be him getting grounded.

This time, there was none of that. No further questions about the party, the people, what was 'actual' time they got home. There was no guilt tripping to make Stiles talk more. There was no reprimanding. Stiles couldn't tell if it was because Danny was here, helping to spin a story with him, or because his dad had given up trying to get him to tell the truth.

Either way, it made Stiles feel an enormous weight of guilt settle in his stomach, turning his insides into butterflies.

"Me too dad." He said, looking down.

"Come on Danny," his dad said, waving his hand at the boy who still stood near the door. "Have some coffee."

"Thank you sir," Danny said, moving over to the coffee put to pour himself a small mug. He added a generous helping of sugar to it, something Stiles took note in.

"Please, don't call me sir," Noah said,moving to go pour himself more coffee into his travel thermos. "I ain't that old."

"Pushing 45 is pretty old," Stiles said with a cheeky grin.

His dad raised an eyebrow at him. "You are the reason I have so many wrinkles at this age, kiddo."

Stiles felt his smile grow wider. Rolling his eyes, he went back to his coffee, Danny sitting next to him at the table with his own. They shared a look, Stiles giving a small nod, Danny giving a knowing smile. 

"Alright, I need to head to work," the Sheriff said, taking his gun from the table to strap it to his hip. "I'll see you later tonight son." His dad looked at them both, looking a little unsure. Stiles wasn't sure why, so he got up from his chair to go hug his dad. He felt his dad's arms wrap around his shoulders and his face in his hair. Stiles hoped his dad didn't notice the how quick it had started to grow, like he did. He didn't really care though. He relaxed a little into his dad's embrace, smelling his aftershave, coffee, and laundry detergent all mixed together. It always calmed him, always made him think of home. He never wanted that to end.

"Bye dad," he said into his shoulder.

Noah squeezed his son one more time before letting go. "Okay, Danny," he said, looking at the other boy, "It was nice to meet you. I hope to see you around again."

"Me too, sir," Danny said with a crooked smile.

Noah rolled his eyes at the formal word. Taking his thermos and keys from the table, heading out the front door, leaving the two boys alone. The silence was comfortable, but it still made Stiles turn around to look at Danny. His friend stared back with the same smile and a cocked eyebrow.

"He thinks you and I are an item." Stiles said plainly. 

Danny nearly spat out his coffee, pink rising on his cheeks in embarrassment, as his eyes widened. "He what?"

Stiles waived off his friend's look. "Don't lose sleep over it. I told him that it was not true." Sitting back down with a sly smile. "I mean, me and you, highly unlikely."

Danny's face fell, his eyes downcast, face wrinkling in a deep frown. "Yeah, right."

Stiles had to do a double take. It was a shock to hear Danny sound like that. Almost like disappointment? "No, no, I don't mean it like that," Stiles rambled, holding up his hands in a placating way, almost knocking over his coffee mug in the process. "I just think that it wouldn't be right because you know, I'm-."

"Not gay," Danny supplied. Now Stiles knew that voice. That wasn't disappointment, that was hurt! Shit, now what did I do, he thought to himself.

"Oh no, no that's also not why. I'm bisexual actually if I'm being truthful." Stiles said matter-of-factly, watching the other boy look back up with big eyes. "It's just that you and me, I never really thought about it before. Don't get me wrong, your great Danny," he said with a smile, clapping him on the shoulder and squeezing, "but I guess I just don't see you like that."

"Why not," asked Danny, genuinely curious.

Stiles shrugged. "Maybe at one point I did, when we were younger. Now, it's just different. I do like you, but I guess I've known you for so long that you are more like a cousin to me."

"Cousin?" Danny said arching an eyebrow. "That's a new one."

Stiles chuckled. "Yeah. I mean I've had crushes before. Plus, I don't think you see me like that anyway. Yeah, cousin's makes sense, it's not quite like how Scott and I am...or are...was..." Stiles stopped, his mind drifting towards Scott. Often nowadays when he thought of his best friend, his chest would hurt. He had not heard from Scott in days, not since that Friday. Not one message, not a stop in at his house, nothing. It was like Scott dropped off the planet. Rather, Stiles had according to Scott. Yet, you would think for someone you care about, you would want to still be in contact with them. It became even more real as more time passed that Scott didn't care. He didn't care that Stiles had been kidnapped and tortured, he didn't care that he had been MIA for 5 days, and he didn't care that he hurt his best friend, betrayed and hurt him, to work with the man who haunted his nightmares.

Stiles knew why Scott did it. It was to protect his mom and Allison. But what about him? Did Stiles not matter to him? Did he think that Stiles was just collateral damage?

"Hey," Danny asked, putting his hand on Stiles' arm, making him flinch from the sudden contact.

Stiles didn't mean to flinch. He couldn't help it. The touch was like a slap, a reminder to him of that night. It may not have been in a harmful way, but the skin to skin contact was no less a flash of muscle memory. Not all the touches he got that night resulted in injury. Not all of them resulted in his screaming in pain. Not all were painful. Some were meant to be...pleasurable. They never were. 

The touches Grant made. The gentle caresses and slight grips down his sides, over his arms, lingering on his hipbones, drifting further and further towards his ass; it all would haunt him in his dreams, followed by pain and agony. He would see the hunger and manic in the Grant's eyes. The shear pleasure it brought the man at the uncomfortable, displeasing, nausea his hands brought Stiles. The way his skin would crawl under those fingers. It made him sick thinking about it and it made him want to rub his skin raw in hopes it would wash away the memories.

He knew Danny would never hurt him, yet it did nothing against the phantom hands that haunted him.

"I'm sorry," Stiles whispered, swallowing around the lump in his throat.

Danny shook his head. "Don't be. Don't you ever be sorry," he said gently, but with a firm emphasis on each word. "You have every right to be cautious, to be defensive against anyone."

"Do I," Stiles asked sadly.

"Yes!"

"Maybe I brought this on myself," Stiles said, thinking out loud, not fazed by the near shout Danny made. "Maybe I am being punished for not running away from this life. For not running away the moment Scott became a werewolf. Instead of being cautious, I delved deeper, ran headfirst into it like I belonged to this world."

"You and I both know that you never would have ran. Your best friend was in trouble and you helped him to understand and figure it out. Not to mention you did the same for other members of the pack," Danny said.

Stiles scoffed. "Helped? A lot of good it did. I get kidnapped and beaten," Stiles said, counting off his points on his fingers, "I get betrayed by my best friend of 10 years, kicked out of the pack by a man I thought was beginning to trust again, ignored and ridiculed by them even when I was a part of it, and stood on the sidelines like a cheerleader, watching as they all risked tooth and limb to protect this town."

"That's not the way I see it," Danny began his tone hard, but his eyes soft and earnest. "The way I see it, is that your so called 'pack' just lost the most valuable member they had, the one who thought everything through, no matter how tedious or exhausting it was, the one who risked more than they ever should have for very little gain. They never protected this town Stiles, not once. They fought to protect themselves, the town was just a happy bonus."

"Why are you saying all this? What makes any difference?"

Danny pushed back from the table forcefully, almost knocking over the chair. He got up and paced around the small dining room, almost heading back into the living room. "Because it does make a difference!"

Stiles was stunned into silence. Watching as Danny paced and ranted, clawing his hands through his short hair. The small shirt on his torso riding up just a little to reveal the tanned, tone skin underneath. The boy's tanned skin getting pink again, but this time from anger.

"It makes all the difference. Stiles, you were always a part of this world. I mean, shit, you can do magic. That pack may have started out to be a pack but it never became one, not fully. What kills me the most is how little they cared. How little they cared about you, how little they cared about each other, how little they cared about anyone else in this town. So long as they were the major benefactors, the only heroes, they thought all was as it should be. It doesn't work that way!"

"What are you saying," Stiles asked quietly, his mind numb from the rant.

"I am saying that a pack is not just a group of werewolves or friends coming together to fight when it is needed. A pack means family," Danny said, stopping to lean on the table, his hands planted flat on the wood, eyes boring into Stiles, trying to get him to understand. "A pack means safety, a family, a home. People who will stand by you, will fight with you, not just for you. The Hale pack used to protect all of Beacon Hills, have their hands in everything so that they could help better guard the town. Monsters and creatures are every where and who else would stop them if not the pack? That is how it once was. Long ago, Derek once knew that, now...now I am not so sure."

"Your saying Derek is...a bad Alpha?"

Danny shook his head. "I think he is...lost."

Stiles absorbed all this information. He didn't know what to make of it all. Danny had said more than he ever did on his knowledge of the supernatural world. Obviously, Danny had been at this longer, but he never thought Danny knew Derek's family, or at least how they were. Stiles barely remembered and he was Danny's age when the fire happened. It was the worst disaster to ever happen in Beacon Hills.

Stiles could see why Danny thought Derek was lost. The man had lost his family. He had lost his sister, Laura, to Peter when he was out of his mind. For all intents and purposes, Derek had every right to want to be lost. He was thrust back into this town after the death of his sister and was now kept here for his duties as an Alpha. Maybe Derek never wanted to stay. He did anyway, he tried to make a pack out of a bunch of rag tag teenagers. Stiles knew that it was Alpha instinct to make a pack or find one, so he couldn't blame Derek for that. He wouldn't know that feeling. 

What he did know, was loss, hurt, betrayal, feeling raw, and lost. He felt all of those before. When his mom died, Stiles withdrew into himself. Nightmares plaguing every night, often he woke up in screams and tears. His dad was not much different, until one day Stiles snapped out of it, seeing the many liquor bottles his dad emptied. He couldn't let that happen again, so he took up the household duties, trying to fill a little of his mom's shoes. Cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, anything to make it easier, while also trying to get her absence to hurt less. It worked for a time. It worked and he started to feel better, go to school, hang with Scott, try out for Lacrosse. All of it helped to distract him at one point until he no longer felt they were distractions. His dad was getting better too, no longer throwing himself into his work or losing himself at the bottom of a bottle. They would spend as much time as they could together, hoping that family would ease the hurt of losing family. With time he started to feel like a weight was being lifted.

But now, not he felt all of those again. It wasn't because someone died this time. It was because of one night. One night that changed everything. He no longer had people he thought cared for him. He lost what he hoped to one day call a second family. He lost a couple of people he wanted to be friends with. He lost the trust of someone who was probably as damaged as his was, if not more so. Any hope Stiles had at those thoughts or maybe wishes, were now gone. At the same time he bared witness to trauma that he would carry for the rest of his life. It was literally scarred on his body.

"Yeah," he said softly, barely above a whisper. "I dare say he ain't the only one."

Danny sat back down, letting the quiet swallow up the room. Not a single one of them said anything. They finished their coffee, both wrapped up in their thoughts, listening to the birds chirping from the open kitchen window above the sink. The sun was shining higher now, but it was still morning, well late morning. Stiles supposed they should probably go get his jeep. He wanted to see Luna too. The previous night was like a kick in the ass when he thought about it. 

He was about to propose they both get ready to go. He wanted a shower first and he suspected Danny might also, or at least might want to stop at his place to get a shirt that actually fit.

“Alright, let’s go get my baby,” Stiles said, getting up from the table.

“I hope you mean your jeep,” Danny said with a smirk. 

Stiles didn’t have a chance to say anything. The knock on his door echoing off the walls like it was made to be a drum. 

Stiles looked back at Danny in question, the other boy raising his eyebrows and lifting a shoulder. Neither of them had obviously expected a visitor so whoever was here wasn’t invited.

Another, louder knock came then. Moving together they both walked slowly to the door. When Stiles got close enough, he took a deep breath before peaking through the peep hole, his heart beating faster than it probably should. Hey, he’s seen horror movies, you never know who has a gun behind the door ready to shoot you through the peep hole and in the eye, or a large knife for that matter. 

Imagine his surprise when he saw a petite body, fashionable clothes, creamy skin, and long strawberry blonde hair. 

He opened the door making Danny suck in a breath behind him. 

“Lydia?”

 

* * * * * * *

"Sheriff," Deaton said in a warm greeting. 

"Alan," he said in return with a nod. 

There were two people in the waiting room when the Sheriff came in. One was a young woman with a kid, who had a small puppy sleeping in his arms, the other was an elderly woman with a cat in its kennel. When they saw the Noah walk in their eyebrows went up, but no one said anything. When Deaton came from the back after hearing the little bell above the door, the vet too looked at him with raised eyebrows, but was warm in his greeting.

"What brings you in," Deaton asked.

"Well I got a message that you had one of my dogs," Noah said plainly.

Deaton gave him a knowing look, that same glint in his eyes the man was practically famous around town for. He waved the Sheriff to follow him, holding open the little gate for him before leading him to the back. When they got to the back, Deaton kept going, heading past the two operating rooms and a lab room before opening the door at the end of the hall. It led to the outside kennels. Six large, gate to gate cages stood to the right, protected by large overhang. There was another dog back here, a pit-bull who barked at them once before sticking out it's tongue as they passed. Two cages down, was Luna. 

The multicolored German Shepherd was lying on her stomach, a large white bandage around her torso. She looked half conscious, but when she saw Deaton and Noah, her ear perked up and she opened her eyes fully. Her tail wagged a little, but otherwise she didn't move.

When Deaton was unlocking the cage to let them in, Noah spoke, "What happened to her?"

"Didn't you get my message," Deaton asked, not looking at him.

"I mean what really happened," he asked rolling his eyes even though Deaton couldn't see.

"Wraiths," the vet said looking at him with a look Noah has not seen in a while. It made his blood run cold.

Noah felt his eyes widen. Damn this town and its' lure to the supernatural creatures. "Wraiths." Noah said, more to himself, letting the word roll off his tongue like a curse. "What were wraiths doing in town?"

Deaton shook his head. "They were in the Preserve."

"Wraiths have not been seen around this town in years," Noah said, kneeling down beside Luna, running his fingers through her head. She leaned back a bit to lick at his fingers, a soft whine escaping her throat.

"That is true," Deaton said in a matter-of-fact tone. "It has been over a decade to be more precise."

"What would bring them here now?" The older Stilinski thought out loud. "What would cause them to attack a dog? Or better question, why was she in the forest at all?"

Deaton shrugged beside him, checking the dogs bandages to make sure they were still secure. "I'm not sure. I'll have to do research on that, but they could have been here for anything or nothing at all."

"Or maybe I should ask Stiles."

Deaton stopped, eyeing the Sheriff in mock confusion. Noah has come to see right through that false disarrangement. "Stiles?"

Noah nodded. "Part of my job, Alan as you know, if to pay attention to details and gather information. When I heard your message, I asked a few of my deputies. Apparently my son was at the station yesterday, outside with Luna, until they both went missing. I never went back to the station last night, instead I headed home after my shift. Imagine my surprise when I was told that one of our unit's dogs was gone and my son was last seen with her."

Alan seemed to still for a split second before continuing his examination. He checked under the bandages, moving a finger underneath them to make sure they were not too tight, also checking for any rips or tears. The lack of immediate response from the former Emissary was enough to give Noah his answer.

"That can mean only one thing," Noah said not to anyone in particular. He sighed heavily before saying the word he suspected for a long while, “He knows, doesn't he?"

Deaton gave a small smile, his eyes a little sad, but still with their usual glint like he always knew more than anyone else. He nodded though, confirming Noah's suspicions, but he didn't say anything, instead petting Luna beside them as she laid back and enjoyed the attention.

"I should have told him," Noah said. "I should have told him long ago."

Deaton got up from his crouch, smoothing out his jacket and stepping to check Luna's water bowl. "It was bound to happen sooner or later."

"I am aware," Noah said rubbing his hand down his face. "It doesn't make it easier."

"You cannot blame yourself."

"No?" He asked, looking at his long time friend, straightening up from Luna much to her disappointment. "I am his father and I kept this from him. He had every right to know about all of this years ago."

"What would you have said," the vet asked calmly with a shrug. "Do you think he would have believed you?"

"He's always been open minded, it was possible," Noah admitted. "But I still did nothing. Especially after his first run-ins with Derek Hale. Of all people, I thought that boy would be able to help Stiles uncover the truth himself, but I was wrong. I underestimated Stiles' hesitation, his wariness, his grasp on his brain power and what he sees more than he suspects. Never once did he have a reason to believe he could do more and we let him."

"But he did come into his own. Maybe not in the way we expected, but it still had the same result. He knows about his magic and isn't that what we hoped for?"

Noah nodded. "Yet you won't tell how he came to find out, will you?"

"It does not matter how Stiles awoke his Spark," Deaton said gesturing for the Sheriff to leave the cage first, closing the cage door behind them to leave Luna inside. "What matters is that he did. He is going to need to learn to control it. He is going to want to. His curiosity will ensure that."

"So train him. He knows the truth now, so offer to train him, help him. He must know about you, if he knows about Derek, then he must. It will help him understand."

"It is...far more complicated than that," Deaton said, rubbing the back of his neck, shaking his head.

Noah squinted his eyes moment, a frown on his face. "What do you mean?"

"Unforeseen complications have come about," Deaton said hesitantly. "Derek and his pack are having a few issues of their own."

"Is Stiles a part of those issues?"

Deaton didn't answer at first. It made Noah worry even more. He didn't know everything about what his son had been up to but he suspected a lot of the past year. He knew the reports that he has been seen around Derek Hale and a few other teenagers his age. Even before those reports, Stiles and Scott had been seen with the older boy. Even when Derek was considered a murder suspect-which was not the Sheriff's doing, that was him following evidence and the law at bringing Derek into the fray about his sister's murder. As her living, sane relative, he had to be told. It was law. Noah never got the full story about what happened to Laura, but since he learned that Derek had a pack of his own after all the wild animal attacks as they were dubbed, he suspected it was a rogue Alpha. Which made sense, no wonder Derek had a pack now. 

He felt for the boy, he really did. It couldn't have been easy. And then the disappearance of his uncle just made everything seem worse. Derek Hale had been dealt a very shitty hand at life and he was sad at how much the boy had changed from the care-free teenager he once was. He hadn't seen him or the other members of his pack around, just hints of them here and there, but he supposed that was for the best. The less law enforcement knew the better.

When Stiles was brought into all of this he wasn't sure, but he knew it was after Laura's body was found. That was when everything started getting weird. Stiles became more secretive. He also started lying more. At first Noah was able to detect it, sometimes calling him out on it, yet Stiles never cracked. He never spilled any hints of his involvement with the supernatural. Noah knew better though. He suspected Scott was a part of it too. In what way, he still didn't know, but he found he didn't care so long as both boys were staying safe. 

Safe was a flexible term anymore. He has seen the bruises on Stiles, the cuts and wariness. He has even seen the shadows under his eyes. However, none of that compared to now. It had gotten worse in the past week. So much worse that it worried him. He thought that Stiles had unlocked his magic a while ago, but all evidence pointed to the opposite. If Stiles had his magic, there would be no way he would look the way he does. Also he thought, or maybe hoped, that he would have come to his dad by now, asking about it, or hinting at it in some way. Stiles was smart, cunning even, he would have found a way to get information from his dad if he really wanted to know the truth. 

Now, he was more worried than ever. His son looked like he was slowly withering away and he wanted to help, but he didn't know how. After all the lying and dodging Stiles has done, Noah felt bad for ever grounding him for it. It made Noah look like a hypocrite. Wasn't he doing the same thing? Hell he had been doing it much longer.

"Is he being safe?" Noah asked Deaton, who hadn't spoken. "Is he at least being looked after?"

Deaton nodded his assurance, his lips turning up just a little. "He is. It'll all work out, but right now, Stiles doesn't trust me. With good reason. The boy sees me as too cryptic and secretive to place his trust in. I can't say I blame him. Old habits die hard. I have hidden myself from the world ever since the fire on the Hale house those years ago."

"Alan, you started to withdraw even before then. Ever since Claudia."

Deaton's eyes went downcast. "I kept my distance to allow time for you and Stiles. Claudia's death was hard to come to terms with, after everything I tried to do to help."

"You blame yourself for her passing." Noah realized. That can't be right. Alan Deaton was not one to hold in that kind of guilt, not when he knew his efforts were fruitless from the very beginning. Yet they still held out hope when Claudia got sick. They held out hope that maybe things would turn out differently.

"I blame myself for not being prepared." Deaton said looking at Noah apologetically. "Which is exactly what I want Stiles to be. He is going to need that."

"Why?"

"Others will come. His magic will attract more to Beacon Hills, as it did the wraiths. It is not just the Nemeton anymore or the pack territory. With Stiles' magic now in the fold, now encompassing this town, more will come for it. For him."

"All the more reason for you to teach him," Noah said.

"It is not that simple. Like I said before, I hid myself well. I bound my powers Noah. I did that after the fire." Deaton said, turning away to walk back inside, his head hung down some.

"What?!" Noah nearly shouted before realizing people could be around.

"I still have some of my abilities, mostly due to the Nemeton. But my abilities now rely on artifacts, runes, and spells." When Noah stared dumbfounded, trying to think of more to say or shout about, Deaton held up a hand to stop him. "That was my choice to help keep the town a little under the radar. My time as an Emissary is over, has been for years."

"You actually believe that," Noah said still in shock. "What is Stiles going to do now? If you will not help him then who?"

"I never said I wouldn't help him." Deaton smiled, a genuine full smile. "Stiles has friends who can help him and already have started. I will step in when needed."

Noah sighed, still not wanting to let the fact that Deaton bound his powers go. That was a stupid idea. If he had known then he never would have let the man do it. He knew Deaton felt guilty for Claudia and the Hale fire, but he never suspected it would drive him to this. Deaton can spout whatever excuses he wanted, but Noah would call bullshit on all of them. He would deal with that later though. Right now his focus was on his son, who had just woke his magic and who he hoped would trust his dad enough to open up to him. No more lying to protect him, yeah Noah knew exactly what Stiles was doing, he knew all too well. He hoped Stiles would come around and soon.

"Do you think he will do okay?" Noah asked his friend, both heading back inside to one of the lab rooms. Deaton sitting in the chair at a desk with a computer and a telescope. The man leaned back, clasping his hands in his lap.

"Stiles is unique. I can't explain why, or how I know, I can just feel it. We always knew he had potential and he has proven that time and again."

"Is he like Claudia," Noah asked with curiosity.

"No," he said with a small shake of his head. His brow furrowed as he thought about this. "She was a witch and a gifted one at that. Her Spark was bright and strong, but Stiles' Spark is brighter, stronger. In such a small amount of time, I could feel his magic surrounding him. Maybe it is because he is young and raw at it all, I don't know. What I do know is that he does not fit the typical characteristics I suspected he would."

Noah tried to fidget with that information. Stiles could understand what he meant about Deaton's cryptic answers. While he got some answers, Deaton always left him with more questions. "Is that a good or bad thing? Should we be worried?"

"I don't think so. That boy has surprised me on many occasions and I have no doubt he will continue to do so. But I promise that I'll keep on eye on him," Deaton said reassuringly, bring a clipboard of paperwork into his lap.

"Okay." Noah said quietly, his thoughts making him go quiet.

It didn't stop the man from worrying. He trusts Deaton, but even still he worried. He was a father for God's sake. It came with the territory. The fact that Stiles finally uncovered his magic was like a major weight off Noah's shoulder, but it now laid down a bigger weight. It made him feel guilty for lying to his son for all these years. After Claudia, he will admit he shut down. He avoided people, including his son. Stiles reminded him too much of his late wife and it killed him to know that she would not be here anymore. She would not be here to see their son grow up and become the man he is today. She wouldn't know he awoke his Spark, something she wished he would do. Noah knew that Claudia wished he learned about his magic at an early age, but it was not something they could force on him. It would be wrong to do so and he had to awaken his magic on his own.

It pained Noah, knowing that Stiles has gone so long, cutting his dad from that part of his life. But he couldn't hold it against him. Noah Stilinski was doing the same thing.

"You should talk to him. Tell him the truth." Deaton had said looking up at him from beneath his eyelashes.

Noah sighed, running a hand through his hair. "Easier said than done."

"You would be surprised what people can forgive," Deaton supplied with a small smile. "You and him are so much alike, I have no doubt he will understand?"

"If I'm being honest, I would prefer he never had to learn about all of this. He will always be in danger, but it does give me peace of mind that he is never truly alone."

Deaton;s smile widened, "I have faith in him. Claudia did too," making Noah nod his head, a fond smile playing at his lips as his memories flashed through his head. Deaton handed the paperwork to the Sheriff for him to fill out. It was care and release papers for Luna since she was well enough to leave the clinic, Noah was going to have to find a way to keep her looked after while her wounds healed. Deaton continued, "If things were different, I have no doubt she would be teaching him as much as he could possibly contain."

"Yeah, if only."

 

Chapter Text

“What are you doing here?”

The strawberry blonde beauty regarded him with a purse of her lips and a cocked eyebrow. “Is that anyway to greet someone?”

”I must be out of practice,” Stiles quipped. 

She flipped her hair behind her shoulder, striding past them into the house. She eyed Danny as she walked past. Stiles saw his jaw clench before he looked back at him, his eyes concerned and slightly annoyed. 

Stiles and Danny followed her into the living room. She stood in the center of the room, her designer Coach bag of her shoulder. Green blouse crisp and clean, matching her eyes eyes and making them pop. The black skinny jeans and pumps rounding off the look. She looked like she was fresh off a GQ or Vogue magazine as always. She held a look of disappointment on her face mixing with concern when her eyes met Stiles.

”You weren’t at school the last two days.” She said, her hand on her hip like she was a parent about reprimanding a misbehaving kid.

Stiles swallowed before answering, not taking his gaze from Lydia’s. “I was busy.”

”Doing what,” she asked coolly.

Before Stiles could answer, Danny stepped in, sitting on the arm of his dad’s rocking chair. “Why are you here Lydia?”

She regarded Danny with a calculating look. Her green eyes narrowing. “I could ask you the same thing.”

"Danny is here for his own reasons along with mine," Stiles said, starting to get annoyed with all the back and forths. "Now, Lydia I must ask that you play nicely. But since you have never visited me or come to my house, I say that is grounds for me to ask the questions here."

Lydia's mouth opened like she wanted to say a retort back but then closed it again. She looked at Danny warily, but her eyes softened. She looked at the floor like it held the answers for her, but when she looked back up the expression was gone. "I actually need to talk to you." She then looked at Danny again, expectantly. "Privately, please."

Danny's eyebrows rose comically like he was offended. Stiles would have giggled, but then he thought over Lydia's words. This would be the first time he'd be alone with her since that night. What did she want? Why would she want to speak to him? He would have thought she was with Jackson, professing their love for one another and making sure he didn't eat any stray bunnies. Yet, here she was primly perfect, the queen she always was, standing in his living room, staring at him with her sharp green eyes and silently asking for him to talk with her. Aside from Danny, he hadn't seen anyone from school, and Stiles found that he was relieved about that up until this point.

When Stiles sighed heavily, he turned to Danny. "Give us a few moments, please," he asked.

He knew he didn't have to ask permission from Danny, but seeing as how Danny was on the fence about leaving him alone with Lydia, he could only guess why. He didn't want Danny upset with him or even with Lydia. The girl was his best friend too, apart from Jackson. So why was he acting like she was a lit fuse, waiting to blow?

Danny clenched his jaw, but nodded. He got up, brushing a hand over Stile's arm in a comforting gesture. Shockingly, it didn't make him jump this time. He supposed it was because it was coming head on this time. Either way it made him feel a little better. Danny headed out of the living room, heading upstairs. Stiles kept his eyes on Lydia, her eyes watching the two boys with interest although she tried to hide it.

When they were alone, Stiles spoke. "What do you really want Lydia?"

"What makes you think that I want something," she asked offended.

"Because we both know you wouldn't be here otherwise."

"That is not fair," she pouted, crossing her arms over her chest defensively. "You cannot claim to know me so well after only a couple of weeks."

"But well enough to know you always have a motive for the things you do," Stiles said gently, almost quietly. This was true. She always had a reason. He had a feeling he already knew what her reasoning for being here was. Maybe it was his gut instinct or his brain telling him what he suspected. Or maybe it was his magic warning him of what was to come depending on the outcome of this meeting, he had no clue. Either way it made a weight settle in his gut and a shiver run up his spine.

Lydia's eyes went sad then. The green going a shade darker. "I came because Erica and Boyd are still missing. I'm sure you have heard about it."

Stiles just nodded. Of course this wasn't news to him. He had been working out ways to find them for days. He hadn't had the time to test out a few theories, but it didn't mean he forgot. Waiting for Lydia to continue, Stiles sorted through his mind, trying to think of the best places in the town limits, Erica and Boyd could be. Ever since Chris said he let them go, he had thought they'd turn up in the woods. Danny telling him that their trails ran cold worried him. Where were they now? Were they taken again? Were they hurt?

"I am here because the pack is running out of leads. We need your help."

And there is the million dollar statement folks. The pack needed his help. Oh how Stiles wondered if he was dead right now if he would be turning in his grave at the switch of events. Stiles almost felt a little smug, but mostly he felt insulted. Not to mention hurt.

"Do they?"

Lydia looked up at his hard tone. "Yeah," she said, beginning to look nervous, which was unusual for her. "We know tracking them is no good and their families don't care. We thought that maybe you would have some ideas. Or that you could use the Sheriff's system to find out if they were seen around town, any cars leaving town around the time of their disappearance, or something."

Stiles nodded. "You know it's funny how I am not pack and yet I get roped into all of this again."

Lydia's looked even more sad by that point. "Stiles, you are pack. You never stopped being pack."

"Really," Stiles chuckled. "I find that hard to believe. You do recall last Friday night right? The night I brought you to save Jackson, profess your love for each other, stop him from becoming a murdering lizard for the rest of his life, and somehow end up getting ridiculed and reproofed for my efforts despite everything I have done."

"Scott didn't mean any of that," Lydia said, stepping towards him confidently.

Stiles nodded. "Of course not. After all with it being 'his' pack and all, I'm sure it was all meant in loving banter. I'm sure Derek finds a kick out of it being Scott's pack."

"I just-"

Stiles waved a hand at her, cutting her off. "Save it Lydia. There is nothing you can say to discard the truth. I am not pack, plain and simple. Scott hasn't spoken a word to me since that night, frankly none of you have."

"You weren't at school," she said with a scowl.

"There's these little things called cell phones," he deadpanned. "Not to mention visiting, much like what you are doing now."

When Lydia didn't say anything, Stiles shook his head. He knew that a day like this would come. He didn't imagine it would feel so soon though. He was starting to get used to not being around the pack or having to do all their research for them. He was beginning to enjoy the down time, even though there wasn't that much of it, what with what happened last night with the wraiths and all. Even then, he expected to get into a routine. Yet here he was, being brought back into the fray. The pack or rather Derek's pack; technically group of teenagers and one creepy uncle, since he thought about Danny's previous points on the pack, were asking for his help again. Never mind what happened a few days ago.

Stiles had to wonder how Derek felt about all this. Asking the guy who 'betrayed' him for help. Stiles found it baffling how Derek was allowing Scott to help him. Since it was Scott who was working with Gerard. It was Scott who lied and manipulated them. It was Scott who practically handed Stiles over on silver platter for Gerard to use as a human punching bag. Somehow though, it sounded like Derek forgave Scott and it had only taken a couple of days and two missing betas to do it. Where did that leave Stiles?

Apparently that left him still on the out, because he was the mastermind behind Scott's temporary lapse in character.

Stiles had no idea was made him more upset, the fact that Scott got a reprieve or that Stiles was being asked for help by the very people who turned their backs on him, after everything he had to suffer through. Erica and Boyd though, weren't the others. They knew the truth. They were the only ones to see the devastation the hunters caused his body. They were the only ones who were with him through it all. Stiles didn't care if they were his only witnesses to tell the pack. He no longer cared what they thought of him now. Not after they sent Lydia to fetch for his help. No he cared if the betas were okay. He hadn't meant to abandon them when he was taken from the basement to be killed in the woods. He wasn't about to abandon them again. He had magic, as surreal as it was. So, maybe there was a way he could use that to help. Speaking of which, he had questions. A lot of questions.

"I will not help Scott or Derek," he said firmly, making her eyes go wide in shock. 

"What," Lydia said quickly. "You are being petty Stiles Stiliniski."

"Excuse me," he said, intrigued.

"You are unwilling to help find two of your missing friends because you are bitter about your current friendships right now. Life is unfair. Sometimes we have to work with the people we currently dislike in order to achieve something. We don't like it, but we make due," she ranted coldly. She folded her arms of her chest, her eyes hard. Her lips purse while she tapped her foot against the hardwood floor.

Stiles scoffed. Amazing how people think so little of him. "I never said I was unwilling. You presumed as much when you interrupted me," he said, watching her intense scowl falter. "I said I would not help Scott or Derek. I will be doing this on my own terms. I have not stopped looking for Erica and Boyd from the moment I found out they were missing. I just haven't had my nose to the forest dirt in the process."

Lydia stood silent. She was trying to control her emotions from showing on her face. Her perfect, popular mask dropping as Stiles glanced at anger, relief, happiness, shock, and sadness all pass over her face.

"I will look into other means of trying to find them along with researching potential hiding places around Beacon Hills that they could be at. I do not know if they have been taken and it is clear that neither do any of you. So right now, we have to assume as much along the fact they might be hiding out on their own. Anything I find, I will direct to you."

"Why not Scott," Lydia asked, a little baffled.

"Why didn't Scott ask me to do this himself," he countered, knowing she would either not have an answer or would know the answer and not want to upset Stiles further. Either way, it worked and she closed her mouth. "I will stay in contact with you, but that is it. I am out of the pack, these are my terms to help said pack."

Lydia looked like she was about to argue on that, but instead she closed her mouth, biting her bottom lip in the process. After a few moments of quiet between them, she spoke again. She was quiet in her tone. "I really did want to see you. After that night, I didn't know what to say to you. I didn't know what I could say. I am new to all of this, but I am catching on quickly."

"Hopefully you catch on quicker than I did," Stiles muttered, but it was loud enough for her to hear.

"Look, Stiles," she came closer, now only two feet apart. He could see her green eyes clearly now. Green, etched with with hints of hazel and flecks of yellow in their depths. Her red lips turned down in a frown and her perfect brows furrowed. "I meant it, I did want to see you. You were bruised and had cuts on your face. I was worried."

Worried enough to wait five days before talking to me, Stiles thought to himself. He really didn't want to have this conversation. He didn't want to be here right now. He had things he wanted to talk about with Danny. His mind was racing and he couldn't care less about the pack's flaws. "Well after I got spooked from the field after we won, I ran into a few players from the other school. Apparently badmouthing them was a mistake on my part."

Stiles didn't care that he just lied to Lydia. Lying was easy now. How could he explain the truth to her? She was just brought into all of this, mostly for Jackson and she is staying because of Jackson. She may be learning, but she doesn't know as much as Stiles. So how could he tell her? Stiles wasn't even able to tell Danny everything and he was there after it all happened. He was there to see the evidence with his own two eyes. He helped to clean those wounds before calling Deaton. What could Stiles say to Lydia that he couldn't bring himself to tell Danny?

So instead he lied. He lied through his teeth. Hell, the others already think that he ran off from the field after the his adoring fans came out and the lights went off. That provided the perfect excuse for him. Everyone else would believe it. Stiles Stilinski, the spastic, hyperactive, kid not too good with attention shies away from it.

"I don't believe that, Stiles," Lydia said, eyeing him up and down, shaking her head softly. "I do not believe you got those from a couple of pigheaded sore losers."

Stiles shrugged. "I'm fine Lydia. It's not like it is big deal."

"It is a big deal," Lydia said looking like she wanted to shake him.

"Look, Lydia, believe what you want. I'm fine. It was nice to see you, but right now Danny and I need to go pick up my jeep at the shop and I have to get back to finding Erica and Boyd." He said quickly, trying to brush off her concerns, making it seem like it wasn't a big deal even though she didn't know the half of it. She didn't even know any of it.

Lydia looked like she wanted to argue, instead she sighed a deep huff in exasperation. She moved around him, heading to the door, but before she reached it, she turned back to look at him. "Since when are you and Danny buddy-buddy?"

"We have always gotten on fine," Stiles said, arching his eyebrow. "Danny was the only one to help me that night. He got those guys off me and helped me get back home."

Lydia looked at him hard, squinting her eyes just the littlest bit like she was trying to see something better. "That was before you came to get me."

It wasn't a question, but Stiles nodded. 

"I never said thank you." She said, making him look at her in surprise. "For getting me to Jackson, for trusting me with...all of this," she said waving her hand to gesture between them and then around them. "Thank you, for seeing me better than I did."

Stiles gaped for a moment, silently staring at he strawberry bombshell before him. He swallowed before nodding to her. She surprised him again by stepping over to him quickly, wrapping her arms around his waist, giving him a hug. Stiles' arms were floundering for a moment, his mind racing as he tried to think of what to do. He had dreamed and wished for a moment like this with Lydia many times over. He had wanted this for so long, desired her to touch him and never let him go, while he clung to her back. It was a perfect picture to him. He had spent the better part of his school life infatuated with her. A few times he thought it was love, but he knew better now. 

It wasn't love, just wishful thinking on his part. He knew it would never happen, Lydia looking at him like she did with Jackson. That became clear when she professed her love for Jackson to help save his life. Obviously he felt the same. Stiles though, Stiles wasn't sure what he felt for the girl. He did still like her and thought she was still a brilliant strawberry goddess like always, but that wasn't love. It was never love. He accepted that, but it didn't mean he still didn't care for her. So that was how he found himself hugging her back, gently wrapping his arms around her shoulders.

"Your welcome." He said quietly. 

They stayed that way for a few more heartbeats before they stepped away. Lydia smiled at him and Stiles returned it as best he could. It felt more like a grimace than anything, but it seemed to satisfy her. She gave little nod once before turning on her heel to let herself out, closing the door softly behind her. Stiles released a breath that he didn't know he was holding.

He gave it another few moments before heading upstairs, the quiet of the house making his steps sound louder. Upon entering his room, he found Danny lying on his bed, staring at the ceiling. He looked calm, the small shirt raised just a bit to show the skin of his abdomen, one leg flat on the mattress, the other hanging off bent at the knee. He didn't say anything as Stiles came further into the room. Stiles sat on the edge of his bed, his back against Danny's leg.

"She asked you to help the pack, didn't she?" Danny asked into the silence. He couldn't make out Danny's tone.

"Yeah," he said in a low voice, gazing at the Hawaiian teen beside him. 

Danny sighed heavily, closing his eyes. He looked like he was frustrated, silently venting to himself instead of to Stiles. "I can't believe, after everything, you are willing to help them with their problems. Again."

Stiles was not a stranger to how Danny felt about the pack. The boy was extremely disappointed with them. He was annoyed and angry with them, practically flirting with the pissed emotion too. Stiles supposed he couldn't blame Danny. However, it was Stiles who had been let down by the pack, kicked out and ignored till now. Stiles was upset, in fact he was pissed. There was no mistaking how much he hurt about his so-called friends letting him down. "I never said I was helping them."

"You shouldn't," Danny said, finally looking at him. 

The boy leaned up on his elbows looking like he wanted to say something but was afraid too. Or just couldn’t put it into words. 

“Look,” Danny began, “I know they are your friends. I know you care for them.”

”But?” Stiles asked after Danny didn’t continue. 

“But when will it stop? How long before the next time you get hurt? Till they hurt you again,” he stressed, his eyes worried.

“The hunters are dead, remember,” Stiles stated.

"I wasn’t referring to the hunters.” Danny said with an eye roll. 

“I know. I never said I was helping them. I am not doing this for them or to get back into their good graces or whatever the hell they want to tell themselves to better sleep at night,” Stiles said getting flustered the more he thought of the pack. 

“It sounds like you are,” Danny said rolling onto his side to better face Stiles. “You don’t have to help them with every problem they get themselves into.”

”And I won’t.” Stiles diss confidently. “They made their choice. I made mine. I am not helping them, but I am helping Erica and Boyd.”

”Why?”

Stikes swallowed around the lump in his throat. He looked at Danny, seeing the worry and curiosity in his dark eyes. He could tell Danny. He could tell Danny everything, everything that he was holding back. Danny only knew the gist of what happened. That he was tortured and the two betas were there to witness it with him. What he did not know is exactly what they had done, what Grant had done, nor at the house or the woods. Danny may take pity of him or may want to treat him tenderly, careful to not set him off or scare him, hurt him, but at least he cared. Danny has been there for him when no one else was, so he owed him something for that, right? 

“Because they were there.” He said averting his eyes from Danny’s although he felt the other boy tense beside him. “They were there with me and endured much of what I had to for nearly a day before I was taken.”

“Jesus,” Danny whispered.

"We were in the basement of the Argent house. No one else was home. The last time I saw them, I was being forced out of the basement, with their eyes on me the entire time. If I have the opportunity to see them again, see them in one piece and unharmed, then I will take it," he finished in a whisper. He could feel his throat close up and the burn of tears behind his eyes, but his voice stayed steady. He tried to keep the images of Gerard and Grant from his mind, but he was unsuccessful. Their faces, smirking and manic, staring at him in his mind. Gerard's knuckles against his face, the sting of Grant's blade followed by his lingering hands.

"Do the others know? Do they know that both of them were being held by Gerard," Danny asked gently.

Stiles shook his head, not trusting himself to speak. He jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder, squeezing it lightly. He turned, clasping his hand to the one on his shoulder. He saw Danny sitting up, his right hand on him while the left was held up, palm facing him. Stiles looked from the hand to Danny's face then to the hand holding onto his shoulder. He had to swallow a few times, trying to calm his racing heart.

The images of the basement and Gerard were still flashing through his head. The feeling of Grant's hands and lips on the back of his neck as he pushed a knife into his shoulder blade. It was like he was seeing his nightmares again. Reliving all of it, fresh as the night it happened. Only this time, he wasn't alone. He grasped onto Danny's hand, feeling the warm skin, the strong muscles moving under his touch as it squeezed his shoulder again, providing any sense of comfort possible. Stiles could feel the the phantom hands on his skin, making him break out into goose bumps with a shiver going up and down his spine. His heartbeat was pounding in his chest. He gripped Danny's hand tighter.

"Stiles, look at me," he heard. 

Stiles raised his eyes from the hand on his shoulder to the eyes was were staring at him. Dark brown eyes, almost black. There were nothing like Gerard's or Grant's. They held no malice, no twisted enjoyment, no threat, no lust. The hand that held him was not restricting or harmful, it was grounding and reassuring.

Stiles let out a deep breath, closing his eyes as he focused on the pressure Danny was using to steady him. Counting backwards from ten, Stiles slowly tried to calm his heartbeat, listening to Danny make quiet reassures to him, telling him that it was okay. That he was home. That he was fine. When he opened his eyes again, Danny's worried ones were still focused on him, his hand never moving from his shoulder. 

Danny gave a small smile, silently asking him if he was alright. In acknowledgement, Stiles took one more deep breath, letting it rush out before he nodded his head.

"Thanks," Stiles muttered.

Danny brushed it away with a wave of his hand. The two boys passed some time, sitting in silence. Stiles relished in the silence. Letting it calm his nerves after the past memories. He breathed deeply, letting the scent of his room fill his nostrils. The smell of his clothes, burning spice and vanilla wafting through the air. He could also smell Danny next to him. He smelled of dirt with a soft scent of cologne. He listened to the creaking of his house and the daytime sounds outside. The open window providing fresh air with a warm gentle breeze. When he felt calm enough, he thought over what Lydia had told him.

Erica and Boyd were missing and he needed to find them. He wanted them to be okay. His conversation with Lydia was enlightening, tell him that the pack had very little options. But, his conversation also gave him an idea.

"Hey, Danny," he asked, looking at the boy a little unsure. When the other boy looked at him, Stiles asked, "You say that I have magic, that I can do...things."

When Danny nodded, Stiles continued. "And you're able to do the same?"

"I can," Danny said calmly. 

"Are you a druid too, like Deaton," Stiles asked, eyeing him up and down, like he could evidence of it.

Danny shook his head. "I am witch."

"So...not a druid?" Stiles asked, mot getting the difference. Damn why had he not read the bestiary.

Danny laughed. "There are more than just druids as magic users. I'm a witch, a Hedge witch to be exact."

"And that is?"

"Where are you going with this, Stiles? What are you thinking?" Danny had asked suspiciously, his eyes narrowing.

"Is there a way to track people, magically, I mean?" Stiles had to ask and Danny would know why. He temporarily dropped the subject, noting to pick it up again later. He wanted to help find Erica and Boyd, he wanted to help the others find them. If it was possible the 'how' was for him and Danny to know. As long as they were able to locate them first, they would then worry about if they were okay.

Danny seemed to consider this for a moment after a brief moment of surprised confusion, his brows furrowed for as he thought over what he knew. When he answered, his tone was unsure, but encouraging. "There are certain methods to find people, much like a supernatural lo-jack. However, the most effective methods are when the two people share a very strong bond. Another method is when the spell is used with that person's blood."

"I don't have either of those," Stiles admitted bitterly, not thinking about the blood factor.

"Like I said there are other methods, some not as strong. There is the use of one of their possessions, something that belongs to them. Something like that can be used to help locate them. It is not as powerful though."

"Why?"

"It depends on a variety of factors. One being the strength of the caster," Danny said, running his hands through his hair, looking at the floor. "Another would be the item of choice not having a great sentimental value to said person or never being originally theirs to begin with. Even if you do find something of theirs that of great value to them, most of the time it narrows it down to an area of where they would be, not their full location."

"So, even if we would do this, there is no guarantee we will find them," Stiles said leaning back against his bed.

Danny shook his head. "No, we can still narrow down the area. Even if they are still here in Beacon Hills, we would be able to find out for certain."

Stiles nodded, more to himself than Danny. Having decided he would already do this, he looked at Danny a small smile on his face. Coming to terms with the fact he had magic was going to be a challenge, especially with how surreal it was, but he would try. If he could help find Erica and Boyd this way, using his newly awakened magic, then he would do it. "Alright, show me how we do this."

Danny's eyebrows rose. His mouth opening before closing, only to open again. "You-you want to learn magic?"

Stiles nodded. "I think it's time I did something good with it."

Danny smiled, his eyes bright as they lit up his face. He pulled himself up and sat in front of Stiles, crossing his legs. Stiles did the same opposite him on the bed, getting comfortable because they were in for the long haul. 

"Wait," Danny said, his hand up, making Stiles stop. "Don't we need to get your jeep?"

Stiles laughed, having forgotten to get his jeep from where he parked near the Sheriff's station the day before. Nodding his head, they got up to head out, putting Stiles' new studies on hold.

 

* * * * * * *

So that is how the days passed. Stiles and Danny practiced with his magic, trying to get him used to the feeling of it. The more he practiced the better he got at understanding how it felt within his body. It turned out it felt like a warmth, a little fire inside him, warming his chest and then expanding to encompass his arms and legs as he worked with it.

At first it was like a flicker, hard for him to grasp onto. Danny had to explain how he saw his own magic, like a tree growing from a sapling up higher and higher the more magic he used. It was a good analogy, but to Stiles, his was like a flame getting bigger and bigger the more he practiced. The more he worked to understand the feel of it, the better it became to grasp it. It took a few tries, extending a couple hours before he managed to do something and that was just making a small pencil eraser roll just a little. When he accomplished that he got so excited he felt like he was on cloud nine. He thought the hardest part was over, making the first step, feeling his magic work for the first time-or at least consciously now that he knew what to look for. Yeah he was so wrong.

He didn’t realize how hard it was going to be. He should have known better. He was a novice magic user, trying to learn so much at once to help Danny with tracking Erica and Boyd. It may have been his idea, but Danny was happy to go along with it and help him. He did not know who was more foolish, himself or Danny. 

He couldn’t count how many times he got frustrated but or annoyed when nothing would happen. He would not feel the warmth in his chest, he wouldn’t feel his intentions go beyond the norm and make something happen. He would stare at the eraser for long periods of time before throwing up hid hands and cursing to himself. Yet, Danny through it all, said nothing but encouraging words. He told him it was okay and that it would take time. 

Yet time was something they didn’t have. 

He may have moved the eraser the one time, but it meant nothing when the second time he tried it, the eraser stayed out like it was being weighted down. It was almost a week into the practice that he finally got a better grasp on his magic. 

They would practice for hours whether at his house or Danny’s. No one bothering them, so it was easy to sit on the floor, barely moving from their spots as Stiles worked to control his magic. His dad was often at his When Stiles was alone he would practice some more. Doing anything he could to reach for his magic, feel it inside him and hold onto it, hoping it would allow him to direct it. 

When he was able to move the eraser again, this time when he was alone, he understood he feeling. The rising spread of the warmth through his body. He felt it move inside him, gently nudging under his skin. He concentrated on that feeling, hoping that it would cause him to do it again, the excitement, anticipation, and joy circling around his head. That was when the eraser flew across the room. 

He immediately called Danny and told him all of it. The next day, he showed it again to Danny, his emotions leaping for happiness at what he discovered, doing all of it again, this time though, all the erasers in the room went to the other side of the room; even the ones sti attacked to the pencils. 

They sat in silence for a moment, looking at the small pile of erasers and pencils that were all from his desk or the floor. Danny looked at Stiles’ confused and agape face, with a mixture of surprise and pride.

"I didn’t-" Stikes began.

"Yes, you did,” Danny said cutting him off a big grin on his face. 

“But I just wanted to...”

"Move the eraser,” Danny had finished.

At Stiles nod, Danny asked him a question that he didn’t expect. “What were you feeling, when you focusing your magic?”

Stiles explained his emotions and then told him the same thing about what happened the night before. Danny nodding his head in thought for a moment while he listened. When Stiles finished, his eyes gleamed. 

“So that’s it.” Danny said almost to himself.

"What do you mean,” Stiles said in shock. Fearing that he did something wrong. “What did I do?”

Danny shook his head. “You didn’t do anything, but you did just uncover a bit about how your magic responds to you.”

“How?”

”You magic is controlled by your emotions,” Danny said with a smile. “It isn’t anything bad, in fact it is a good thing in some ways. The more you feel the more energy you release, meaning the more you magic responds.”

”So this,” Stiles gestured towards the erasers, “was because of my excitement?”

“Excitement, happiness, desire, it doesn’t matter. They are all powerful emotions and your magic responded.” Danny said with a nod. “But it can also prove to be difficult. It means that you will have to work to keep yourself in check, your magic will need to be controlled by you so that it doesn’t run rampant based on your emotions.” 

“So it means I need to stay calm,” Stiles said. When Danny nodded his affirmative Stiles did the same. “Right I can do that. Calm and collected. Cool like a cucumber.”

Danny snorted.

The next days passed much the same. Stiles practiced with his magic, using his emotions to test out different reactions. Danny taught his some spells, easy ones, but no less difficult for a newbie. However to his surprise, he picked them up in less than a day. Danny was impressed, but had him continue until he wasn't breathing heavily or having to concentrate for too long. The more he understood unlocking his magic, the more he came to want to find out more about how it worked.

It wasn’t until he was practicing with Chris Argent one morning that things took a little twist. He had been going to the Argent house almost every day. After missing his second training session after the wraith attack, he made a note to not do that again. It wasn't because he wanted to avoid annoying Chris or making him mad, that he didn't care about, it was because he didn't want to give up on his training. Stiles was passing his days training his body and his magic and he found it was easy to pass the time doing either.

When he arrived at the house, Chris had taken one look at him, before asking if everything was okay. When Stiles nodded, he said that he had a few things to do the day before and left it at that. Chris seemed like he wasn't really buying it, but he said nothing further. His training sessions passed with him on the punching bag and going through drills. He was doing a little cardio and strength training, something he was moaning and groaning about, but relented to it in the end. 

Chris' explanations for it were to help him train his body, helping him get stronger as well as providing his body the ability to control his breathing the more stressed or worked he was. Stiles had to admit that he wasn't happy at first, but he was slowly starting to like it. Slowly.

Chris kept him on the bag, learning different punches and techniques on how to position his body and move when needed. Each day consisted of him learning endurance, strengthening his body, and going through the motions of cardio. He left each morning sweating and tired. His muscles were screaming at him most of the time, burning under his skin, but it wasn't like his magic. It wasn't a nice burn, uncomfortable and slightly painful. But Stiles had been through worse, by far. He found he actually liked it. It was satisfying in a way, making him feel like he accomplished something, even if it was something small.

During the sessions, Chris wouldn't really talk to him, but would dish out comments and pointers here and there. At first he barely said much at all, just giving directions and that was it. After the first couple of sessions, Chris started to open up a bit, saying more than a few words at a time and offering praise and constructive criticism where he saw fit. Stiles even thought he saw the hint of smile on the hunter's face a few points, but it was gone before he could do a double take. 

He thought he was doing good, all things considered. He was still new to this, so he didn't expect to be the badass in an action movie. So imagine his surprise when Chris came up to him, telling him to stop, putting on a pair of gloves himself.

"I think it is time you learn how to spar," Chris said plainly.

Stiles was too stunned to form a sentence so he just stared, watching as Chris fastened the last glove. It wasn't until Chris stepped forward, did Stiles step back, his eyes going wide. He didn't miss the surprised look flashing through the hunter's eyes, followed by worry and sadness. Chris held up a hand, gently warding off Stiles' fears. 

"I know you may not want to do this," Chris said slowly. "I won't force you, this is entirely up to you. But training means nothing if you do not put it to use."

Logically Stiles knew this was true. He knew that Chris had a major point. After all, training was meant as a way of trial and error, without having to really worry about potential deadly consequences. What good was training if Stiles never intended to put it into effect?  He had to practice to be better. Stiles was wary though. It was not an apprehension to the training itself nor putting what he has learned into an actual moving target, it was more internal than that. It was the rising unease that he would not be sparring with Chris. He was afraid it would be someone else.

He was not keen on Chris touching him. He knew Chris wouldn't hurt him. The man was not his father, but he has been at the mercy of hunter's before and he didn't want to seem weak, even to his reluctant teacher.

Stiles nodded his head to Chris who gave a nod in return. Chris motioned for Stiles to stand in the center of the lawn, both facing one another a few feet apart. Chris motioned for Stiles to raise his arms, protectively covering his face like he normally does while boxing with the bag. 

"Alright, you will do the punching, I will attempt to block them, understand," Chris asked, as Stiles nodded his head slowly. "This is not to see how many blows you can land, this is to get you to takes the skills you have learned and put them into practice. This is where you learn to fight."

Stiles nodded again, holding his hands up to his face, keeping his breathing controlled even thought his heart was pounding in his chest. At Chris' signal of start, Stiles moved forward, throwing the first punch, which was weak by all standards. When Chris swatted his arm away, he looked at him with a cantankerous look and raised an eyebrow. Stiles felt his face redden, but tried to ignore it. He didn't want to hurt Chris, even if this was his idea. Stiles knew he probably couldn't hurt the man, but it still made his stomach knot at the idea of hurting him when he was trying to help him.

"Really," Chris asked, his tone sharp. "What was that? You are not training to get squeamish now."

"Sorry." Stiles said, his eyes down. "I'm just not-."

"Not ready." Chris said, making it into an answer instead of a question. "Stiles, you will never be ready."

Stiles eyes went wide as he looked at the man. His heart was beating hard and he felt a small tinge of fear in his gut, making the knot tighten. Was Chris giving up on him? Chris shook his head, lowering his body in a more balanced stance, his right side pointed towards Stiles. Chris sighed heavily, looking at the teen before him. 

"You will never be ready for a fight," he said gravely. "You can only be prepared for when it does come. That is your biggest lesson for today."

Understanding, Stiles straightened his shoulders, before giving them a roll. He licked his lips before re-positioning himself. Once Chris gave him the go ahead, he punched. This time with more strength and precision. He didn't connect with Chris, but he did connect with the man's arm, blocking the punch from his face. It surprised Stiles and also excited him. Chris moved so fast he didn't realize it. The movement was fluid and effortless. He wondered if he would be able to do that. 

Hiding a smile, Stiles punched again, this time with his left fist, aiming for the side of Chris' head. He dodged it, this time just moving his body to the side a little. Stiles continued, throwing punches left and right, never once connecting. He either missed completely as Chris side-stepped or ducked away. Chris would also block his advances, waving his fists away or holding up his arms to hold off a potential blow to the head. The more Stiles tried, the braver he became. He started to move, stepping forward or sideways, trying to throw Chris off. Maintaining his balance and his breathing, Stiles jabbed and his long punches, he kept going. Sometimes he got close to hitting the man, but with these, Chris would evade instead of blocking. 

As time passed, Stiles became annoyed, slowly going towards angry. Never once did he manage to land a hit and it was making his confidence falter but pushing him to do more, try more. He kept his punches going, stepping to the side, then forward before stepping back then to the other side. He tried anything to throw off Chris' defense. He got frustrated enough that Chris noticed.

"Concentrate," he simply said.

Stiles huffed out a breath. "I am. You keep moving too fast."

Chris chuckled behind his upraised hands. "Do you think it will be this fair out there?"

"No." Stiles jabbed again, a quick succession of three punches, the first two being blocked with Chris dodging the last one. "This isn't helping."

The older man's eyebrows rose in mock surprise. "Isn't it?"

"Your toying with me," Stiles spat, his anger coming out. "Instead of teaching me, you are letting me make a fool of myself."

Chris blocked his last punch, his blue eyes seeming to fall into shadow. "Is that what you think I am doing?"

"What else I am going to think?"

With that, Chris took the arm he blocked, quickly wrapping a strong hand around Stile's forearm to pull him forward, twisting his arm around to wrap around his front. Stiles was too stunned to react before Chris sweeped out his legs from under him, making him fall front first into the grass. His face hit the ground, the cool grass felt nice on his skin, but not when it came at him like he was the one to get punched. His cheek collided with the grass but would nothing more than a slight bruise. The arm that was wrapped around his gut was pinned under his weight while his other was flailing beside him. He felt weight on his back, holding him down. 

The air was knocked out of him, the anger dissipating as quickly as it had come. From his up close view of the dirt and grass beneath him, he felt the warmth of Chris over top of him. He tried to see the hunter behind him, but Chris was holding him still, first with is arms over his back, before Stiles felt even more pressure on his body. He craned his neck, barely able to see the man pinning him with his knees and arm. Stiles' previous annoyance got replaced quickly.

In fact Stiles started to feel fear. Chris was nearly sitting on top if him. A knee on his lower back and his right arm over his shoulder blades. His other hand was braced on the ground and Stiles could feel the man breathing above him. He knew Chris wasn't doing anything wrong, wasn't hurting him, but his mind wasn't listening to any reason. All he felt was pressure on his body. On his lower back, near his hips, over his shoulders, a weight pushing him into the ground. It was such reminder of Grant that Stiles' breathing quicken and his heart kicked into overdrive.

"Get off," Stiles said breathlessly.

Chris shook his head from his peripherals. "No," he said making Stiles' heart sound louder in his ears. His blood ran cold and his hands shook under him. "Lesson number two, think of a way out of this. Use your body as leverage or even your opponent's."

Stiles couldn't think beyond what he felt. It made him want to crawl further into the dirt to get away from it. He hated feeling that way, but he couldn't help it. His mind raced through that night. The woods, the forest floor digging into his exposed skin. Grant on top of him, laughing as he touched him, as he threatened him. The other hunters watching with equal glee. He could feel those ghostly hands on his body, the pressure of the man's body against his own, the hot breath on his neck as Grant leaned in low, pressing even further onto him. It was all he saw and felt at the moment. There was no Chris, no training, no Argent house. There was the dark woods and gruesome situation he remembered, the one that vividly presented in his nightmares.

"Get off," Stiles said more firmly, breaths coming in pants.

"No," Chris repeated, not aware of Stiles' panic. "I have all morning for you to think of a way."

Stiles was on the verge of a panic attack. He could feel the icy tendrils in the back of his mind, creeping closer. His breathing was becoming more shallow and his vision was going white and blurry. He was surprised Chris hadn't felt his heart hammering beneath him, surely he must feel that. It was all Stiles could feel of his body. The weight of the older man like a driving force, pushing his heart faster with each passing second. The panic was rising, churning in his chest, ready to burst. He felt his magic along with it. Ready to act as the warmth expanded and burned it's way over his body. It was like it was trying to offer comfort, but the more panicky he felt, the more it spread and hotter it felt inside him. He couldn't let his magic out. If it responded to his emotions, he feared what it would do. He feared what he would do to Chris.

"Get off! Let go!"

Chris immediately moved away, Stiles pulling himself up to a near sitting position, but crawling backwards away from Chris till he hit the outside of the house. He was leaning against the wall, next to the large French doors. Chris a few feet away, staring at him with too many emotions Stiles couldn't care to decipher right now. He was trying to get his breathing under control, his heart to slow down. He still felt the edges of his panic attack. He had to put his head between his legs, taking deep, ragged breaths. Clenching his hands together into a tight fist, he focused on his breathing, calming himself down as best he could. 

His magic was burning inside him, like a fire waiting to be released at his say or if absolutely needed. It made Stiles think of his magic as a sort on consciousness. How it reacts to his emotions as well as his commands, at least at times. He was still learning and still finding it difficult to focus his magic to do what he wanted. But he was better, by far better. Now that understood how his magic worked, it responded quicker and more easily. Which means he couldn't let it out now. Not like this and definitely not in front of Chris.

He didn't want to hurt Chris, but he also didn't want the man to know he had magic. The man may be teaching him, but Stiles didn't trust him. He didn't trust him to keep Stiles' secret even if Stiles willingly did tell him. The man was a hunter, dealt with who knows how many supernatural creatures. It was his life's work. Everything he was trained in for most of his life. Trained by Gerard of all people. So no, Stiles did not trust him.

"I'm sorry," Stiles said between breaths. Those words were becoming a part of his regular vocabulary, but he couldn't help it. He didn't want to look up. Chris may know what happened to him, may know how much of a psycho his father was, but it didn't mean Stiles wanted to see the pity in the man's eyes. 

"Why are you here Stiles," the man asked.

Stiles looked up then. He didn't see pity in Chris' eyes, instead he saw worry mixed with concern and curiousness. He thought he might see anger in his features too, but he couldn't understand why. Why would Chris be angry with him? Was it because of his near panic attack, the way he reacted to Chris' surprise tactic? Stiles knew he wasn't the first choice for someone to train, but come on, he was trying. You can't erase everything that was done to him in a couple of weeks and think everything is okay. It doesn't work that way.

"What are you talking about," Stiles asked now defensive.

 The man release a harsh breath. "Why are you here? Why are you doing this?"

Stiles shrugged getting up from the ground, bracing himself on the house as he leaned against it. He was trying to hide his shaking hands behind his back. "I want to be able to help the pack." 

That wasn't technically false. Stiles did want that. That was if he had a pack at all. Chris didn't know that he was kicked out. He didn't know that Derek wants nothing to do with him and Scott was avoiding him, aside from the one text message he got from him asking him if he wanted to go see a movie with him and Isaac. Stiles never replied and he had no intention to. Scott made his choice and now Stiles was too. Scott hadn't wanted anything to do with him for over two weeks, not one word from him other than a "hey" the previous week, which also went unanswered. Stiles had no idea when he lost Scott, but the more he thought about it, the more he realized it was before that night when Scott chose to work with Gerard instead of coming to help his best friend.

Even when he was part of the pack, he didn't feel part of it. If he was being honest, he didn't think he was ever part of the pack. It was Derek's pack to begin with and the man barely tolerated him. He only seemed to care because of Scott. Scott as a werewolf took more priority over Stiles, meaning Derek looked after Scott first. Yet Scott fought Derek on his Alpha status. Stiles knew Scott didn't want to remain a werewolf and he was still bitter towards Derek for killing Peter in revenge for his sister. Stiles couldn't blame Derek for that. Like Scott, Stiles didn't make it easy on Derek either. He supposed he had himself to blame for that. 

But he actually believed after Derek protected him a few times, after the pool and all, Stiles genuinely thought Derek was beginning to see him as more than just...Scott's annoying human friend.

"And yet you choose now to be of use, after all this time?" Chris said, as if Stiles hadn't gotten lost for a moment in his own mind.

Ow, that stung.

"What better time, if not the present," he said sarcasm dripping from his voice. He was getting mad again. If Chris wanted to judge him, he can do it alone. Stiles had had enough of that. He had enough of that from school, his used to be friends, and he definitely didn't need that from Beacon Hill's local hunter.

"That is an excuse."

"Still the truth," Stiles said through gritted teeth.

"No it isn't." Chris shook his head, crossing his arms over his chest, his jaw set. "You are dodging with part of the truth. I can spot a lie almost as easily as a werewolf. I've been trained too."

"Congratulations," Stiles spat. "This is my choice. I am doing this for me."

Chris shrugged, not letting this go. "Why? You ask me, a hunter, one you don't trust, one your pack doesn't trust. You ask me to keep it a secret. You came to the son of a man who nearly killed you, which I assume no one knows about, so tell me why?

Stiles said nothing. His anger boiling. He felt warmth inside him again. Growing to extend past his chest, encompassing every part of him. He could feel his face heating up. His panic induced shaking has stopped, now replaced with other emotions. He vaguely was aware of his magic itching to surface again, trying to make itself known, ready to respond to his emotional command. His anger, hurt, and guilt mixing together to fuel his Spark. Those emotions weren't on Chris' behalf though. They were on his own.

It all came down to what he felt for himself.

"Why, Stiles," Chris asked forcefully.

"Because your family did this to me!” 

As his voice bounced off the Preserve treeline behind the fenced in yard, a loud pop echoed with it. Stiles saw weird shimmer in the air behind Chris' shoulder. At his look, the man turned to see the punching bag on fire. Dead center where Stiles had been punching earlier, flames sprouted, licking their way down towards the ground and up towards the sky. Bright yellow and orange, similar lighting of the morning sun as it rose higher. The The fabric of the bag turning brown and black as the fire withered it away.

“What the hell,” Chris said, running to get  the outside hose, turning the faucet and spraying the bag in an attempt to douse the flames. 

Stiles looked on in astonishment. Feeling his anger subside a bit, replaced by the slight fear and surprise at what happened. He didn’t have to think about how it happened. He already knew. 

He did it. He lit the bag on fire. 

He could feel his magic, burning underneath, moving like someone was taking a hot cloth under the skin. It spread out from his chest, feeling his emotions. He tried to take deep breath,s unbeknownst to Chris who was busy putting out the punching bag. In and out, he reigned in his anger and fear. If he was counting backwards from ten with each big breath he took, then sue him, it was helping. He pictured anything that would calm him down. His home, his bedroom, his dad and mom, even Danny.

Wait, Danny? That was different.

Either way it was working. Focusing on his breathing, he felt his heart slow in his chest. He calmed to a distant anger, one that subsided to be resolved under the surface. When Chris had finished putting out the fire, he was circling the watering hose back up, stuffing it around the faucet that sat next to the house. Unwrapping his gloves, the man came back over to the Stiles, his eyes on the bag like it was something Chris had never seen before. When the man looked back at him, Stiles faked surprise and fear, eyeing the bag like it might burst into flames again. He couldn't let Chris know the truth. So he played innocent.

"What was that," he asked, trying to sound wary.

He apparently succeeded because Chris shook his head, looking back at the bag before returning to Stiles. "I am not sure."

Shuffling from one foot to the next, Stiles unwrapped his gloves, tossing them to the ground. He needed to leave, like minutes ago he needed to leave. He's obviously over-stayed his welcome. He moved away from the house, before bending to pick up the water bottle he brought before turning back to Chris. "I need to go," he said plainly.

"Stiles," Chris began, turning towards him. The man looked older than he was. The stress of the years showing on his face, this situation adding to it. "You're right."

Stiles felt stopped in his tracks as he was moving towards the door. Slowly, he turned towards the hunter. He tried to not show his emotions, he's done enough of that today. Instead he remained impassive. He still felt his magic providing a sense of comfort so he took that. Otherwise he was afraid of breaking down. All the anger, grief, hurt, and guilt was bound to get out somehow, and he wanted to control when. His nightmares were getting worse every week and lately the tears he woke up with were not enough to deal with them. Stiles was more than sad or guilt stricken. He was pissed and he had didn't know what to do about it.

"What," he asked the man.

"You're right," Chris said gently, his eyes sad. "It is my family who are to blame."

Stiles didn't say anything. He didn't trust his mouth in this situation.

"I am sorry for earlier. I crossed a line. It was not werewolves or any other creature that did that...to you.” He said with a far away voice. The man looked like he was struggling to find words, clenching and unclenching his jaw, swallowing hard like he was preventing himself from vomiting. “I cannot take back what was done, but maybe, I can help give you a way to never let it happen again."

At that, it was Stiles' turn to swallow the large lump in his throat. He didn't know what to think of Chris' proclamations or his confession. So he said the only thing that would put this conversation to bed quickly, "Okay."

Turning to leave again, he made to the open door of the house, about to go inside to head out the front door when Chris stopped him again. "Stiles," he called, making the teen look over his shoulder at him. "Whatever your reasoning for doing this," he began, "don't let it be for your fears. Don't let them rule you that way, or else they always win."

Stiles knew what he meant. Face your fears. That was a saying he's heard before and had tried to become familiar with. He tried to do that a long time ago, back when his mom got sick. Back when she was dying. His fears of his mother's death, of not being good enough, smart enough to help her, of not being there for his dad, all were what haunted him back then. For months he was plagued with those thoughts, those doubts. He never really got over them, but he did learn to face them. Of course, he had his dad to help with that. He also had Scott too. They helped chase away those fears, reassure him, make him face the truth no matter what his insecurities were telling him. 

Not this time though.

They weren't there for him this time. He didn't want his dad involved in all of this because it was safer for him. And Scott, well his former best friend, didn't seem to want to be involved in it. So who was left. Danny? Could he go to his new friend with his troubles? Danny already knew the truth of what all happened, so it made it easier. But could he burden Danny with the weight of what Stiles felt and dreamed on a daily basis? 

Stiles was not sure about that. Nor did he fancy it. He liked Danny and as much as the other boy has helped him the past few weeks, Stiles was still sore about Scott. He felt like if he slipped up once or it became too much for Danny then he would find himself alone again. He didn't know what he would do then. 

Stiles had a lot to think about. On the one hand, he knew Chris was right. He couldn't let his fear of Gerard and Grant, the hunters, rule him. If he did, they were always haunt him, they would always win. On the other, it did nothing to prevent the nightmares. His subconscious telling him what he refused to think about while he was awake. Stiles had to figure this out on his own. Like everything else, he had to use his own smarts, his own resources. If he couldn't do that, then he would...endure. He's done plenty of that, so why break the streak now.

With nothing left to say, Stiles gave a nod before heading into the house, briskly walking across the long hall, into the foyer, before letting himself out of the extravagant house. He broke into a run, heading for his jeep down the street. Each step feeling heavy, each breath feeling short, yet bringing him closer to what he considered a piece of home, sometimes the only piece.

* * * * * * * 

 

Derek didn’t like how uncertain things have become. To be honest, nothing had been certain for a long time, but at least when he formed his pack he thought he knew where everything was headed. He was wrong. 

As he made his way out of the woods back to his old house, he looked at the remnants of his pack. Jackson was walking a few steps ahead, covered in dirt and bits of dead leaves and grass. Isaac fared no better. Peter was going to be waiting at the house waiting with Lydia after they all met in the middle of the Preserve, much to Lydia's dismay. To Derek’s surprise the girl seemed to be taking all of them like a fish to water.

He had to give her props. She bounced back for being a superficial prom queen. Or at least that’s what Derek used to think of her when he first met her. He was wrong then too. 

It seemed to be a recurring thing anymore. He hated that. He hated that he had been wrong on so many things. His decisions and misconceptions had cost him a lot in his life and they still do. 

Derek regretted much, but he had to focus on the present. He had to put his pack first.

They were coming back from training in the Preserve. Derek put Jackson and Isaac through drills, testing their reflexes, their control before having them spar with each other. He was testing their reaction times, their pursuit in their attacks, while measuring their aggression. He had to make sure they were stable in a fight. He also had to gage how well they would do in said fight. 

Jackson was a new werewolf and therefore needed the most training, but Isaac still had need of it as well. Jackson still lacked control, often getting angry or sloppy in his movements. It led to him losing control over his wolf, lashing out instead of thinking it through. He was arrogant and all around jackass, but it made Derek think about what was under the surface. What did Lydia see in him?

Isaac was different. He learned control, thanks for being a werewolf longer, but it was a matter of learning when to let his instincts go that was a problem. Due to his past, Isaac was not good on being him, nor was he good at fighting back no matter how warranted it was. Derek had seen a change in the boy. He was less timid but he was also more defensive. More standoff-ish when it came to listening to what he should be doing. Derek supposed Scott was running off on him too much. Isaac was reluctant to come to training in between their long hours of looking for Erica and Boyd. But he did so out of respect for Derek as his Alpha.

Scott, he hadn’t seen him since that night either. He’s heard things here and there from Isaac. Apparently the boy was trying to patch things up with Allison along with his mom since she found out about him. It was not easy. Allison still had issues to work out about her family and herself. She has not been seen around much, but Lydia has stated in seeing her almost everyday, often the other girl spending night with her, getting away from her home. 

As for Stiles, he heard nothing. For weeks he hasn’t heard anything from the human boy, nothing from around town or from word of mouth from his friends. He hasn’t talked to Scott since that night, but Derek heard more about him than Stiles. 

Derek couldn’t help the small part of him that felt worried about it, but otherwise he didn’t care. He decided not to care. After what Stiles has done, he couldn’t care less if Stiles was a stranger on the street now. Someone who was just anyone. He remembered that Friday night like a nightmare. Much like his other nightmares only this time it wasn’t of his family, but of Gerard, then twisting to Stiles. 

Some nights he would see Stiles standing beside Gerard, a smug smile on his face. His amber eyes cold and cutting. Holding a knife in his hand looking like he was ready to stab Derek in th whack with it. It was nights like that he woke up in a cold sweat, batting away the images of Stiles like they offended him. Like they should offend him.

But other nights...he saw something else. He saw Stiles face contorted in hurt and pain. The boy clutched at his own arms as they wrapped around himself, either from cold or for comfort he didn’t know. His mouth agape in a silent ‘O’ and his eyes wide. The whiskey orbs pain filled, grief stricken and...broken. 

Derek saw that before. Once back when he was young and his family was alive. Back when Stiles mother had just died. Yeah, he knew him then. Or he knew of him. 

He remembered a flash of that on Friday. Or maybe he thought he did. He couldn’t be sure he was so angry. It was night like that, where he saw those eyes he woke up breathing heavily, his heart beating in his chest, and his gut clenching painfully. It was nights like that his wolf would not settle. 

In fact his wolf whined a lot inside him lately. Always seeming to pace and never stay still. He didn’t know why, but it seemed to happen every time Stiles was a brought up subject. He didn’t know how to feel about it. He was pissed at the boy, hurt and feeling betrayed. Yet partially. 

Another part of him felt hollow. It felt like a weight settled in his stomach, warping it and twisting it till it was uncomfortable, and then when he would run in the Preserve around the territory line or workout anything to burn off energy, he would feel empty inside. Like he burned the weight away leaving a hole.

He didn’t understand it. He didn’t understand how to feel. So instead he pushed those feelings aside and focused on what was in front of him. Focused on his remaining pack and finding Erica and Boyd. 

They had searched for days, weeks now. No luck on any lead. Lydia said she had a contact at the Sheriff's station, one who owed her a favor, looking into any reports of the two around surrounding towns, any leads of stolen cars heading from town. Derek was surprised, but didn't question it. He was happy to at least have another manner of trying to find them. He had Deaton call his contacts in the supernatural community, asking for help in trying to locate them if they turned up. Peter did the same with his contacts, even though he wondered how his uncle had any to begin with since he had been in a pain induced coma for 6 years. Derek, Jackson, Isaac, and sometimes Peter would scout around the town and Preserve territory, trying to pick up their scents, hoping that by some chance they would find them. 

They had very little to go on and had even worse luck in their endeavors. Still, they kept trying. Isaac even said he had Scott helping. Keeping an eye around town, asking his mom if anyone had been brought into the hospital over the weeks that had strange injuries, just in case. Even if the woman was still coming to terms with her son being a werewolf, she seemed to still want to help him. Derek was grateful for that. He was grateful for everyone's help. He wanted to find his beta's. He wanted to make sure they were okay. He wanted the chance to make it right to them. If he got that, he would be happy. Or well less scowly. 

They trudged their way back towards the Hale house. The dark, burned exterior of his once childhood home coming into view through the trees. Burnt beyond salvageable, the old house looked like it would fall apart after a good storm. After coming back from New York, Derek didn't want to return to his old home, but found it was the last place Laura was. Since her death, he didn't want to leave it. The abandoned train station was the only place he could sleep in properly, after Kate Argent managed to sneak up on him, he didn't want to risk being caught off guard again. Also it wasn't like he could have any of his pack inside the house. It was likely to cave in on them if they breathe the wrong way. In a way, Derek didn't want his pack inside the condemned house, partly because it was dangerous, another part because it was once home. Now it was just a shell of what it once was.

It pained him to see it anymore now. It made his grief rise at the sight of where his family died and the years that has gone by. The elements not being all that kind to withstanding structure.

The closer they got, the more details he could make out. The black and ash charred wood, the peeling dark paint on the outside. The broken windows and splintered wood in places. It was black and brown picture. The only color was the trees behind it and the two people out front, who were talking strenuously to each other. Lydia, the girl with flawless skin; even for a human, red curls cascading down over her shoulders and down her back, pink lips and eyes as green as the canopy of the Preserve. Her purple top clung to her body, accentuating her curves, a soft gray sweater over her shoulders, dark blue skinny jeans and her signature heals. She was the picture of fashion and elegance, even next to his destroyed home. 

Beside her was Peter. He looked better, less dead. Wearing a white V-neck shirt that was a size too small and dark jeans and boots, he looked similar to Lydia in terms of put togetherness, which made Derek want to roll his eyes. His uncle was many things, slightly vain was one of them. They both were talking in hushed tones, voices too quick for Derek to pick up from where they were coming from. He saw Peter and Lydia looking back and forth, from the house to each other. Their expressions wide eyes and tense.

Derek sped up his walk, nearing a jog as he closed the distance between them, Isaac and Jackson coming up behind him. Upon seeing his nephew, Peter turned to look at him fully, not bothering to hide the worry on his face.

"What," Derek asked, looking between his uncle and the girl.

Neither one said anything. Lydia simply pointed towards the house. Derek followed her motion, looking at the house. Stepping closer he looked to see what had the two so tongue tied. When his eyes scanned his house, he found nothing, until he stopped at the door. The once bright red door, now faded, burned and peeling, now painted in black was a symbol.

It resembled a triskelion, like his family pack symbol, the one Derek carried on his back, only instead of a triangle with three spirals sprouting from each side, it was a triangle with three straight lines whose far ends were bent at a near 45 degree angle. It was a twisted version of what his pack symbol was. While the spiral in his was meant to mean movement, revolution and change, this symbol meant a dead end in it's lines. He knew that symbol and he knew it well. 

He feared seeing it one day. Today was no exception. He felt his heart drop and his wolf howl inside him.

"Derek," he heard behind him. It was Isaac, his voice low and tense. "What is that?"

Derek couldn't speak. All he saw was the black mark on the door, standing out like a brand. It was a calling card, telling him what was coming. It was a promise. Derek could feel his wolf howl and snarl inside him wanting to break free and run around his land, marking it as his and no one else's. He wanted to find vent out his frustrations and fears on the ones who did this, but if he did that, he would most likely get killed.

When Derek didn't answer, Peter did it for him. "It’s the symbol of the Alpha pack.”

"Which means what?” Jackson asked with his usual snark.

Peter sighed heavily, rubbing his hands over his face, not looking away from the symbol like Derek was. "It means, that they are here and they want something."

"Wait, what is the Alpha pack," Jackson said, his voice turning sarcastic at the word Alpha.

"Exactly what is sounds like, pup," Peter said his smirk tight with worry. "The Alpha pack is a pack made up of only Alphas. Powerful and strong, they travel the country, often from pack to pack, looking to add to their power or kill for sport."

"Why," Isaac asked.

Peter shrugged. "Because they can. They want to gain more power, more respect, more standing in the supernatural world. Each pack they have killed has added to their reputation."

"And no one has stopped them because," Lydia said in annoyance, her worried emerald eyes on Derek who had yet to speak.

Derek couldn't take his eyes off the door. His mind going over everything that could have gone wrong, actually going wrong. His pack was new and divided. Two members missing, one new beta, an Omega in town to contend with who had a personal issue with Derek, a dangerous now sick old man to find before he hurt anyone else, and now a pack of Alphas invading his territory.

His wolf growled at him, trying to tell him he forgot one other problem. One he didn't want to address.

"They are simply too powerful." Peter said remorsefully. "They kill without question and they take what they want. They have for years."

"How does a pack of Alphas work," Isaac said confused.

"That doesn't matter, right now we need to figure out what to do here," Lydia said, dismissing the beta's question.

"Which is what? What do they want?"

"Me." Derek had said, swallowing hard. He could feel the eyes of his pack on the back of his head. His wolf sensed their unease, the stress emanating from them. It made his wolf whine and growl at the same time. Desperate to end the threat and comfort at the same time. Shaking his head and breaking his gaze from the door, he turned around, catching the eyes of every member. "They are here for me."

"You," Jackson said in confusion.

"What," Isaac asked wide eyed.

"They want me. They want to recruit me," Derek said levelly.

"To be a part of their pack," Lydia finished for him. "Are you insane? You can't join them!"

"I'm not," Derek said pinching the bridge of his nose. "That is why they are here. They hear about newly formed packs and they come to scout, recruit, or kill. They bargain for power and this is no exception."

Isaac shook his head, his blue eyes wide and fearful. "You can't join them, Derek. What will happen to us if you do?"

"Nothing much, just die, probably gruesomely," Peter said dryly with a shrug.

At the looks of worry and terror on the younger members faces, he sighed heavily. Turning to sit on the steps of the porch. "I am not letting that happen. I am not going with them and no one is dying." He pointedly looked at Peter, earning a smirk in return. "Right now, our best bet is to maintain caution, be we continue to train and look for Erica and Boyd. They are our top priority."

Everyone nodded, except for Lydia who was biting her pink bottom lip. Shaking her head she said, "We need help.”

"No," Derek said quickly, not liking the idea of outsiders coming into pack business.

"Yes, we do," she said forcefully. She cocked her hip to the side, folding her arms over her chest.

"This is my pack. I have it covered.” Derek flashed his eyes in emphasis. The two boys seemed to look down in slight submission, but Lydia stood firm. She raised a perfect eyebrow, her eye narrowing. It sucked she wasn't a werewolf, he wouldn't be dealing with her like a defiant teenager then. Even though that is what she was, he at least would be able to get her to listen. It was scary how alike she and Erica were. The difference was, this girl was human and had a mind that was not overrun by instincts.

"How is that going for you exactly?" She asked with twitch of her lips. "Considering we still can’t find two of your betas.”

Derek growled, making Jackson step closer to Lydia, but still not meeting his Alpha's eyes. Isaac kept looking back and forth like he was watching a movie scene unfold. "I am handling it," he said between clenched teeth. "This is how it is. You can either get with the program or leave."

"Well, I refuse to wait around and die," she said sharply, spinning on her heal, flipping her hair over her shoulder as she went. Jackson eyes went wide before he started to follow her, glancing over at Derek, then back at Lydia's retreating form, then back at Derek, Isaac and Peter. Isaac was stunned into silence. Peter was watching with his arms crossed and smirk on his face. His eyes were alight with enjoyment.

"Where are you going?” Derek called out to her as she headed to her car.

Lydia didn't bother turning around, fishing her keys from her purse over her shoulder. Instead she call back, unlocking her door with the push of a button. “I am going to go find the person who has any lick of sense around here besides me?”

Derek could only sit there and watch as the strawberry blonde got in the driver's seat with Jackson running up to climb in beside her. The car rolled to life and soon they were speeding down the driveway back towards the road that led into town. He silently cursed the hardheaded girl in the silence of the woods. He cursed the world and the stars beyond at his run of luck. It was like the universe was out to get him. 

Chapter Text

Talk about an interesting turn of events, not to mention a headache filled day. At least that’s what Stiles thought when he was sitting in living room with Lydia and Jackson standing there in the middle of the room. Lydia looked confident and collected while Jackson looked uncomfortable. He was putting on his best smirk, but it seemed to lack the heat it used to. Or maybe Stiles didn’t care anymore at this point. 

“Do you mind telling me why you barged into my house,” Stiles asked. 

“You opened the door,” Lydia said smoothly. 

“Not my first mistake and definitely not my last,” Stiles muttered. Folding his hands on his lap, he looked at both the teenagers. Lydia looking like she had multiple things to say and Jackson looked uncomfortable. 

Lydia spoke first. "We are here to ask you something?"

"Really," Stiles deadpanned.

Jackson rolled his eyes, huffing out a breath. "Look Stilinski, she has it in her head that you are useful," he said giving his girlfriend the stink eye before looking back at Stiles with his usual condescension. "Frankly, I don't see it. But I find it hard to change her mind."

Stiles ignored Lydia glare at Jackson. "That would require you to have the neurons to change her mind." Stiles plainly said. That earned him a glare from the jock, but a small smirk from Lydia. "You are also not earning brownie points in your favor."

"Stiles," she began. "We came because there is another pack. They left a message. The Alpha pack is here and they want Derek."

Stiles tried to pretend he wasn't shocked, but he could tell he failed. He felt his eyes widen the slightest bit and his heart skipped a beat. He had no idea what an Alpha pack was, but obviously it didn't sound good. Also who names a pack Alpha pack. I mean cliche much. But then to what about the reason they were here. They want Derek. Stiles didn't know what that meant. Did they want to kill him, capture him, have him join them; the list of possibilities was longer than Stiles cared for and he didn't like it. 

Then he thought about Derek. About the Sourwolf and his growly demeanor. He thought at the last time he saw him. The anger and rage in his red eyes. The growls slipping from his throat as he ridiculed Stiles. The taught muscles under his shirt as he restrained himself from doing something stupid. The hurt and betrayal that cross his features. It made Stiles feel on the verge of grief. Despite none of it being true, that he had not betrayed and hurt Derek like that, he still felt it. He felt the Alpha's emotions like waves. Derek really believed Stiles had been the mastermind. The artist to plan out the scheme. 

Stiles tried to make him see the truth, practically begged him to see it, and it nothing worked. It made his heart hurt and insides twist at how far Stiles had fallen. It also made him feel a bitterness that was so dry and hurtful, that he had never felt before. With all the hurt Derek felt, Stiles felt it ten times worse. Unlike Derek, Stiles lost his best friend, his pack, and a man who could have been his Alpha. 

Stiles thought he and Derek were on a good path. A road to a true friendship. He liked Derek, more so than he cared to admit. Sure, the man had his faults, but Stiles understood why. He never blamed Derek for it, at least he did his best not to.

"We...we wanted to ask for your help." Lydia said, studying his face as he blanked out for a moment. His thoughts taking over. Jackson looked like he was scrutinizing him, his nostrils were flared and Stiles could tell he was smelling his scent. "Anything you can research on them or what we can do to protect ourselves."

“No,” he said softly, looking away from them to the floor. 

“No?”

”I already told you I cannot help. It is not my place,” Stiles said with slight tension, looking at Lydia fully. 

Jackson looked surprised and a little angry at that. “What the hell do you mean you won’t help? Are you really so butt-hurt about McCall that you will ignore the pack? As much I dislike it, you are still in this.” 

Stiles refused to show emotion at the mention of Scott. The low in his gut sting at his name made him feel nauseous. He missed his best friend, but he couldn't see him. He couldn't talk to him. Scott had made his choice. He chose to work with Gerard, chose to not look for Stiles and assume he was weak. He chose to allow hours to pass, not trying to call or text him while Stiles got tortured. His former best friend chose to put Allison and the Argent's before him multiple times. Even before Derek, when all the man wanted to do was help him. After all of that, he tells Stiles that he is the one with the problem, that he is not needed to help. 

'Go home, let my pack handle the rest.'

Those words stuck with him as much as Derek's. He was not pack. Not to either of them. It made him sad and incredibly angry. After everything he had done for them. The times he has saved them, all the times he has bailed them out of trouble. He has risked his own life in the process, just as much as they have. He has the fucking scars to prove it!

And here he is, forced out, left alone. No word from anyone for days, still doing their dirty work and dealing with the repercussions. He was still trying to help look for Erica and Boyd. Studying his magic so that he could use it to find them. Losing sleep over his nightmares and what he should be doing, while they focus on one problem at a time. He was being asked to help while being kept at arms length.

"There isn’t much I can do for you, for them," forcing the words out on a steady breath.

"Get over it, Stilinski! Stop being a push over. Your acting like a hu-"

He stopped. Jackson clammed up faster than Stiles ever saw him. Lydia was clenching his hand, her eyes wide as she looked at him.

"Stop being what," Stiles asked coldly, aiming a glare at Jackson. "Human?"

"That is not what he meant," Lydia said, scowling at Jackson before looking back at Stiles. 

"No, no let him finish," Stiles said, leaning forward, putting his elbows on his knees. The full weight of his amber eyes on them both. Stiles could feel his anger building for the second time that day. He reminded himself to breath calmly, to reel in his anger. He wasn't going to reveal his magic to them. As much as he would like to wipe Jackson's smirk off his face with it, he couldn't do that. He also was no where near trained enough to do any real damage. At least not the kind that he could control. "You are right, I am human. Nothing but flesh, blood, bone, and completely ordinary." Okay now you are laying it on thick, Stiliniski, he thought.

When the two teenagers just stood there, stunned into silence, Stiles smirked.

"I am human," he continued. "I am proud of that, because this human saved your sorry, stuck up ass. I won't take all the credit, that would make me, well like you. I will take some though. If not for me and Lydia, the two humans in the group, you would still be scaly and hissing at people before you gut them." Stiles watched as Jackson went from angry to wide eyed, his composure falling away. His eyes never left Stiles' face, but Stiles saw him grip Lydia's hand more firmly. "Your welcome by the way. As much as I don't like you, no one deserves to be treated like a tool for other's gains. No one deserves to be a...monster."

Jackson went pale at the word. Stiles never once broke his gaze, amber gazing into blue eyes. He watched Jackson swallow hard, tightening his jaw like he was preventing himself from throwing up or opening his mouth to speak. When the silence stretched on, Stiles leaned back in his seat. 

"Lydia can I speak to you alone," Stiles asked not unkindly. At that look Jackson looked at her and back at Stiles like he had just affronted him. Stiles had to hide a chuckle.

Lydia nodded, much to her boyfriends displeasure. When Jackson was about to protest, Lydia held up a hand to stop him. "Please just give us a few minutes. I'll talk to him." When Jackson seemed to deflate, not wanting to go against her, he started to move, heading out of the house back to his car. He did give Stiles another dark look, growling under his breath as he did which Stiles only rolled his eyes at. He may not be powerful and all with his magic, but Jackson was not someone to get worked up over. He had most of his childhood to get used to the Lacrosse Captain. 

His thoughts temporarily drifted to Danny, silently wondering what the other boy saw in Jackson. What was it that Danny saw behind in him to be best friends with him for so long? Was it because they were both popular, because they were good at sports, because everyone seemed to fall at their feet? Maybe it was because they balanced each other out so well, Stiles wondered. Jackson was like aggression and bite, while Danny was gentle and understanding. 

It was a good thing he asked Danny to come by later in the evening. He wasn't sure why Danny hadn't said anything about Jackson in recent weeks, but he figured it was because Danny was ignoring him. He remembered seeing Danny's phone light up with texts from Jackson, but he never noticed if there were any replies. Stiles couldn't think of why Danny might be mad at his best friend. It made him curious, curious enough that he might just ask.

"Amazing how after a couple of weeks, he forgets how human he was and still is," Stiles said, getting up to stand a few feet from her, his back towards the fireplace, waiting for her to turn around. 

“He’s adjusting. We all are,” she said softly, turning her green gaze to Stiles. He waited for her to say more, letting her get whatever she needed off her chest. “Look, I know you don’t want to get involved, but this has nothing to do with Scott. This is Derek and the pack.”

Stiles nodded. “I am aware.”

“Are you?” She challenged, arching an eyebrow. "Because it seems like you want nothing to do with it."

”What good would it do me, besides get me killed,” Stiles asked in a low voice.

"I don’t know, you get to help your friends, be part of something bigger than this town deserves." She studied him for a moment, her intense gaze scrutinizing. She swallowed before she spoke, like what she would say next would hold some weight to her argument. "One thing you are Stiles Stilinski is good. You won’t let others hurt if you can help it.”

"Maybe I should.”

"What are you talking about,” she asked in slight exasperation.

"These friends, you call them, who are they exactly.” He asked, hearing own voice go distant and emotionless.

He had to get this out. If he didn't he might never again. He didn't blame Lydia for a lot of things, especially not for the supernatural. She was new to all of this, much like he still was in some ways. She obviously didn't know the truth. She didn't know the real reason why he wouldn't help. Maybe he should tell her. It would help her understand his hesitation. It might even earn him sympathy from her.

One thing Stiles had thought about for years was Lydia Martin comforting him, any time he got upset. Of course that was never going to happen, probably in any universe, so why dwell on it. He could tell her everything and let it sink. Let her feel the weight that has been on his shoulders and the terrible clenching around his heart since that night.

Yeah he could earn some sympathy points from her, but he could just as easily earn pity. He couldn't handle that. He didn't want that. The swelling sadness he felt from that night was a constant in his life right now. Most days he pushed that down, letting the bitterness, anger, and hurt take front and center. He hid his pain behind a mask. Much like she did. Only Danny knew the truth, he could see how much Stiles was affected, but Danny has not pushed him. Danny let him be, until he was willing to talk about it with him.

Lydia hid herself for years. She hid her genius, her desire for knowledge, her fierce loyalty, her need for companionship. All of it locked away under the perfect, beautiful, shallow mask she worked to keep in place. If anyone knew about hiding, Lydia definitely did. Stiles could tell her, but why should he. For years, that mask reigned, often doing things to people that was cold.

"Isaac and I barely exchange words," he said, after a moment, taking advantage of her stunned state. "He couldn’t care less what happens with me one way or the other. Jackson, the selfish jock, has made it his life’s mission to point out my lack of social prowess in every way until the best years are behind us. Then there's Peter, who I helped light on fire with homemade cocktails, so your alpha could become what he is today. Erica and Boyd, when they were here, either used their new abilities to intimidate, threaten, or ignore me. And Derek," Stiles said, his voice cracking just a bit, "Derek doesn’t tolerate me nor does he even care if I get hurt or not. I have the bruises from him to prove it."

He used his negative emotions to fuel his words. His voice remained distant, only showing the slightest emotion when he reached Erica and Boyd's names. The last time he saw them, passing behind his eyes. Bloody, dirty, and struggling with everything they could muster. Stiles hoped they were fighting for him, to help him, or to escape to help them all, but he wasn't sure. Not now. His words bore truth. They never showed interest in protecting him, or liking him for that matter. None of them did, except for maybe Peter. 

Peter had offered him the bite months ago, but that might have been him just trying to get more members in a pack. He was psychotic then, or more psychotic than normal. Or maybe he offered it as a way to toy with Stiles. Playing on his desire to help save Lydia, which she also didn't know about. He never told anyone about that night either. The more time that passed, the more it seemed his secrets and lies were building, towering over him like a giant shadow, waiting to engulf him.

During his speech, Lydia stayed silent. Her green eyes going darker with each sentence, each fact, each dark truth of where Stiles really stood with the members of the pack. He didn’t even mention Scott. Frankly he didn’t have to. She had to remember the last time the two actually spoke. The time where Scott proved to him how little he thought of his best friend, he little he cared. 

But Stiles wasn’t done yet. There was one other person he had to point out and she was staring at him with a cracking mask on her face. 

"Or you for that matter." He said, focusing completely on her gaze. "For years, you have not acknowledged I was even alive, then all of a sudden, two visits to my house in less than two weeks. Now, you expect me to roll over and think nothing is different."

"Stiles I-"

"I watched you you know,” he said interrupting her. He realized a little late how that statement sounded so he quickly continued. "Admired you for your brilliance, control, socialism. Just once I wished you had spoken to me in school, really spoken with me. But you never did."

Her eyes were glistening now. Her mask slipping with each passing second. Stiles was glad his words stung. It might make him feel guilty about it later, considering she was not part of the pack before all of this with Jackson, but he would deal with that later. She had made her own mark on him, now she had to face it.

"I thought, for a moment, that after you learned about all this, things would be different. That we could move away from the past and actually be friends. That’s what I wanted.” He said fighting back his own sullen emotions. “But I guess I’m not good enough for the great Lydia Martin."

She shook her head, the tears spilling down her cheeks. "No, that is not true."

”I am not part of any of this." He said, feeling now more tired than bitter. He said what he needed to, his words now spent and wanting to speed this along. "I don’t think I ever was. I am just the boy who knew to much, and put his nose where it didn’t belong.”

Lydia looked like she wanted to argue, her tears turning dark as they picked up mascara. She seemed to want to stand firm and sort everything out. Even if it meant having a screaming match. Instead, she surprised him by not saying anything. She didn't come back with a retort, nor denial of his words, or anything to sway his view. She turned her eyes away from him, her jaw working as she struggled with her tears. Stiles saw the pale skin of her neck move as she swallowed strenuously.

Deciding to have some mercy on her, because he was a good person, damn his compassion, "I will still help look for Boyd and Erica. They are my main priority, as for the Alpha pack, that is up to Derek."

She swallowed again, before nodding her head slowly.

"I'll keep in contact with you with any updates I have on more leads or whereabouts," he said his voice now barely above a whisper.

Lydia sniffled for a moment before deciding it was time to leave, not looking at Stiles. Stiles watched as she moved towards the door. Stiles leaned back against the fireplace, the mantle hitting his shoulder blades. He felt his magic swirl inside him, providing warmth. He couldn't help but feel cold, like he just did something that he never would have. Maybe that was true. Once upon a time, maybe he never would have talked to Lydia Martin like that. He would have thanked her, begged her to come around more. Not anymore. Not after all that he has been through.

Before she left through the door, she spoke, breaking him out of staring at the floor. "I'm sorry, Stiles." She said, her voice heavy with emotion. "I'm so sorry."

He didn't get a chance to say anything more as she left closing the door quickly behind her. In truth what could he say. A part of him felt bad for upsetting her, but another part of him felt satisfied. Having felt like he finally accomplished what he should have. Finally letting how he treated be seen. He was pleasantly surprised he didn't have the need to shout or get angry. Instead he felt a cold detachment, like the anger wasn't worth it. He spoke the truth and that was it. 

It was for the best and he knew it. He wasn't pack, so why get involved? He would do his part and help find Erica and Boyd, make sure they were okay. After that, it would all end. He would walk away completely. No more pack business, no more interactions with them. They would no longer ask for his help and he would be back on the sidelines. He would focus on his magic and nothing else.

Eventually he would get around to saying the same things to Scott, if ever he would get the courage to talk to his best friend. He still had yet to reply to any of Scott's texts, a couple more appearing over the weeks. Still, Scott has not come by, not visited or tried to make physical contact. Stiles couldn't handle talking with his former brother anyway. If he did, his cold calm, might just break. He feared what his anger would make him do or say. His magic was responsive to his emotions even more now, so he had to maintain his control. No, he couldn't talk to Scott, not now.

But there was one person he did want to talk to.

Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his phone, shooting off a text to Danny, asking him to come over early. He mentioned Lydia and Jackson's visit and Danny replied barely a couple seconds later.

Danny: On my way.

Danny arrived about twenty minutes later. Coming from across town, Stiles didn't know what he was up to, but given how he smelled of dirt and had small smudges on the bottom of his shirt, he guessed he was at his grandmother's flower shop. He looked a little out of breath, although Stiles couldn't tell why. Danny found him in the living room, sitting on the far side of the couch, legs curled up underneath him. Danny slowly sat down on the couch with him, clasping his hands in his lap loosely, leaning back against the cushions. Neither spoke for a moment until Danny seemed to get up the courage to ask.

"So what happened?"

Stiles sighed heavily. Not lifting his head from it's resting place on his arm. "Apparently the Alpha pack is in town,” Stiles said smoothly not missing the way Danny turned his head to look at him, his eyes bugging out in a way that he almost found comical. But another look at the fear in those dark eyes, he stopped short. "You have heard of them?"

Danny nodded his face going dark. He ran a hand through his short hair. "The Alpha pack has a reputation that precedes them. One that is more violent than you may think."

"What is it," Stiles asked with curiosity.

"The Alpha pack is made up of all Alpha's, with one who reigns above the rest. Deucalion, is the head of them," Danny said seriously. "He is strong, very strong. For being blind, he makes up for it in his narcissistic psychotic beliefs."

"He's blind?"

"It happened years ago," Danny said with a shrug. "I don't know how it happened, just that it was from hunters."

Stiles nodded. Well at least he understood what the man went through, at least a little. "So what does he want with Beacon Hills?"

"Deucalion has it in his head that a perfect pack means a strong pack. He seeks out those with great potential. Mostly, alphas. He and his pack go from pack to pack, trying to recruit members. Often times, it doesn't go as they planned," Danny said venomously.

"How so," even though Stiles was sure of the answer.

Danny looked at him with sad, but angry eyes. "If he cannot get others to join him, he kills them, along with all members of their pack."

"How has no one done anything about them," Stiles asked in outrage. "The bodies pile up, but no one does anything."

Danny shook his head. "The supernatural world does not thrive on laws. It keeps to itself, in the shadows. You know this. You know that murders are always seen as animal attacks or get turned into cold cases. No one stands against them because they can't."

"Can't or won't?"

"There isn't much of a difference anymore. Other packs are too afraid. Deucalion only goes after werewolf packs, nothing else. He wants the perfect pack to stand behind him. Natural born wolves with the instincts to go along with it."

"So that's why he wants Derek," Stiles muttered. "Because he is a natural born werewolf."

Danny nodded, sitting forward to lean on his knees. "Also because of his name." At Stiles' confusion Danny finished. "The Hale name has been known in the supernatural world for centuries. It is a long standing family name and their land has always been Beacon Hills. Derek's family protected this land and now he does too."

"So they want the territory too." Stiles sighed, fighting back the nausea in his chest at the thought of a group of Alpha's doing God knows what in this town. No one to stop them, and Derek beside them. "Derek wouldn't allow that. He won't leave his pack to join them."

"He may not have to," Danny said sadly.

"What do you mean?"

"Deucalion will not allow Derek's old pack to live," Danny explained, looking at the floor as he recalled his knowledge. "It would mean they are a threat. A threat to Derek and to him. If one of his beta's manages to kill Derek, they would get his power, therefore decimating Deucalion's dream. It would also mean they could rally other packs or create another pack, one to rival his own."

"So he would kill them," Stiles said in a whisper.

Danny nodded. Stiles let that sink in. No, Derek wouldn't allow that to happen. Derek was a lot of things, but he was not a selfish. He would not let his pack die for that mad man. He has proven time and again that he would rather it be him than someone else, especially when it comes to his betas. No, he couldn't do that. As much as Derek hid behind his walls, Stiles did know that he cared, when he would allow himself to. Derek would not throw away lives for power, especially not for some other Alpha.

Before either of them spoke, the heard a rumbling sound. Stiles looked out the window to see a sleek black Camaro outside his living room window, parked on the side of the road. A man in dark clothes and a leather jacket getting out. He didn't have to wait but a few seconds before loud knock sounded on the door. He heart had jumped into his throat and his stomach seemed to drop. 

"Stiles!" came a deep grumble, loud enough to be heard from the other side of the door from the living room.

 

* * * * * * *

To say that Lydia was happy was so far from the truth that it was no where near funny. She left Stiles’ house in tears, something she has never done. She never aloud herself to break down in public, not in front of anyone if she could help it. After closing the door she practically ran towards her car, ignoring Jackson's concerns and giving death glares to Stile's house as they drove off. She fiercely wiped at her face, clearing away the evidence of her loss of composure. Jackson profusely asked her to talk to him, but she kept quiet. Her lost keeping her busy as they drove back to the Hale house. 

Stiles words stung, in fact they hurt. Never has anyone talked to her like that. Never has anyone dared. She should be angry. She should feel humiliated and furious, but she didn't. She couldn't no matter how hard her shallow side was telling her to. 

She had no right.

Stiles spoke the truth. The kid was smart, insightful enough to know the right buttons to push to get the points across. He didn't hit every button, but it was enough. She could see the sorrow on his face, the bitter detachment in his eyes. When he spoke of the pack, she heard his voice break, even though he tried to hide it. Stiles truly thought he was not pack. It made her tears heavier as she thought about that Friday night.

The look of painful grief and shock on his face. The way he looked at Scott, like he was a stranger. Yet she did nothing. She could have spoken up then, but she stayed quiet. In truth, she was too stunned to speak. She never thought those two would fight like that. Thick as thieves if the term she thought when she wanted to give meaning to Stiles and Scott's friendship. It seems that was a lie. 

Pulling up to the house again, she parked, nearly ripping her keys out of the ignition before throwing herself out of the car. Jackson following her.

"Well," Peter asked from behind his book as the two young love birds came up to the house. He was sitting on the stairs, Derek was just coming out from inside the house, looking dusty and had small dark smudges on his dark blue T-shirt. Isaac was apparently gone, having disappeared somewhere else. If they noticed Lydia's red rimmed eyes they didn't mention it. "How did it go?"

"The asshole said he won't help," Jackson spat.

Lydia turned around to slap him hard in the back of the head. The crack of skin contact echoing around them. He looked baffled at her reaction, but she instead turned away from him, uncaring about her action. She eyed both older wolves, looking at them evenly. Both of them were as stunned as Jackson at her attack. She didn't care. The more she thought over Stiles words, the more hurt she felt. It wasn't for herself though. It was for him.

She didn't want to tell them, but it wasn't like she could hide it. Especially not now since Jackson had already said something. She understood Stiles reasoning for not helping. She didn't blame him. At first, she might have thought he was being petty, but she knew better. Stiles was hurting and felt betrayed. He was upset with Scott and he had every right to be. She didn't fully understand not wanting to help Derek and the other's, partly because she didn't know them personally before she was brought into the fray. Stiles said he was not treated like a friend, so maybe he really didn't want to help them either. Maybe Stiles wasn't welcome.

But that couldn't be right. He was pack. Maybe not to Scott, but to Derek he was. Lydia had seen how they worked together. She had seen how they looked at one another is the very short times she had seen them, she noticed it. They had a slight trust towards one another, an odd relationship that was more bite than warmth, but it seemed to work well under pressure. So why did Stiles think that Derek didn't want him around? Why was Derek against disturbing Stiles with all of this?

"He says he will not help with the Alpha pack. He wants no part in it."

Peter seemed to nod in understanding, his face morphing to look almost sad. That was a surprise to Lydia. She never liked Peter, especially after what he did to her and with him coming back from the dead. She didn't like his secrecy on things, nor his snarky, sociopathic arrogance. There was enough of that in Jackson. Yes, even though she loved Jackson, she did find his attitude bothersome. She didn't trust Peter and in fact nearly went out of her way to avoid him. He did apologize to her, several times in fact, about his behavior when he was Alpha. She believed his sincerity, hearing his side of the story, therefore hearing more about the Hale house fire. She needed time to collect her thoughts and feeling, especially when Peter was the sole shadow in her nightmares. She had only seen him look sad or upset once, and that was when he told her about his past. It was a stark contrast to his usual cocky, calm demeanor. This time it had nothing to do with his painful memories, it was like he was hurt by the news.

"What," Derek said quickly grabbing her attention.

She simply shrugged, seeing the flare in his nostrils and tightening of his jaw. Huh, maybe Derek cares more than he lets on. 

"He says he won't help," Jackson said behind her, earning him a glare from her. Silently she prayed he would for once shut up.

"Did he say why," Peter asked, although he was looking at Derek who either did not notice or was avoiding his gaze.

Lydia shook her head, "He said it was not his place."

Jackson looked at her in confusion, but she clenched her hand around his wrist, digging her nails into his skin. It was her silent way of telling him to keep quiet. She knew he heard her and Stiles' conversation. Heard the whole truth about why he will not help. She also did not want to tell Derek. It was partly because she feared his reaction. She feared if he would be angry and go after Stiles to confront him on his views. Another part of her feared that he would prove Stiles right and react nonchalantly. 

It was not her place to say anyway. This was something Stiles had to say. If they wanted his help, they would have to prove it to him.

She would have to prove it to him. That was exactly what she was going to do. She just had to work out how.

Peter seemed to nod out of the corner of her eye. She kept her gaze on Derek who seemed to go tense. His expression was unreadable. "I wonder what makes him think that," Peter said to no one in particular, going back to his book, ignoring them.

Lydia looked at the older man for a moment, trying to deduce what his statement meant. Did Peter know? Did he know why Stiles would not help? She looked back at the Alpha. Derek was clenching his fists, but was silent. It took a few moments for anyone to say anything. This time it was Derek to break the silence. Only he didn't say anything. He simply stepped down off the rotting porch and started to walk towards his Camaro.

"Where are you going," Jackson asked incredulously.

Derek didn't answer them. Instead he stalked onward, pulling open his driver door and sliding in. The engine purred to life and he took off, sending dirt and fallen leaves into the air as he went. He left the three of them watching. Jackson bemused, Lydia curious, and Peter slightly amused and also what looked like worried. Lydia didn't know what to say after that. She had questions now. She wanted to ask Peter who seemed to know a little more than she did, but she didn't want to talk to the man.

Instead she got lost in her thoughts, thinking over how she could talk to Stiles again. She had to make it up to him, or try at least. The weeks they had spent together, where he slowly peeled away her mask, she came to see Stiles as more than the hyperactive kid. He was different. He didn't sugar coat things, but he wasn't insensitive. In fact he was probably more compassionate than she ever would have thought possible. During their whole conversation, she couldn't help but think he seemed different though. Different from the boy who sat in bedroom, trying to coax her to talk to him. She couldn't put her finger on it, but she knew it was true. There was something different, something new. How curious? 

 

* * * * * * *

 

Derek didn't know what he was doing when he was parking in front of the Stilinski household. He barely remembered the drive. All he could think about was getting to Stiles and probably forcing him to explain. When he pounded on the door, her vaguely heard two heartbeat's inside. He called out Stiles' name. He could have come threw the window like he has done in the past, but for some reason he came to the door. Maybe it was his subconscious way of remembering that Stiles was not pack anymore.

He stood on the other side of the door, listening to Stiles heartbeat on the other side. He could distinctly hear it, picking it apart from the other one. It was beating faster than it did when he was calm, but otherwise it still sounded like it normally did.

"Open up," he said against the wooden door, knowing Stiles would hear him fine.

He heard a scoffing from the other side, steps getting close to the door. "No," the blatant reply came.

"I need to talk to you," he said. Great, he was in for childish games.

"I don't care what you need. I know what you want and the answer is no."

"Stiles, open the door."

The was a loud thud that reminded Derek of something hitting the other side of the wooden door. Maybe a fist? It made him retreat back a little, thinking that Stiles might just open the door to throw something at him next. "Fuck off," came the sharp, angered reply. It made Derek growl. The Alpha in him not liking being spoken to so rudely. 

"I never asked Lydia to get you involved."

"You didn't stop her either."

"Stiles, I-" Derek had stopped. Not knowing what to say. What could he say? He didn't trust Stiles. He couldn't after what he did. Derek had practically forced Stiles away, stated he was not pack or anything to Derek. Stiles was a talented liar, smart, cunning, with a knack for trouble. How was Derek supposed to accept his help? No matter what the howling his wolf inside him was making, he just couldn't. "Just-just don't do anything stupid."

"Like what," he heard from the other side. "Like help? Rest assured, your pack is safe from my influence."

"That is not-"

"You can leave now. Message received."

Derek tried the handle, finding it locked. It wouldn't hold up against his strength, but he did possess common manners, as hard as it was for others to believe. He was getting irritated, talking through the door. Why wouldn't Stiles open the door? Better question, why was he even here? He didn't want to ask for his help, but then he did. "Can I just-" 

"No. You have already said everything you needed to."

"You know I can break down the door."

"Good luck getting past the mountain ash beneath the door line." 

That surprised Derek. He looked down, expecting to see a dark line of ash on the white wood, but found nothing. So it was under the door on the inside. Derek could feel the pulse of it through the door. The magical repellent that would keep him out along with any other creature. Derek wondered when the boy had used the ash if Jackson and Lydia had been here, but he could have just broken the line. He couldn't shake the feeling of disappointment that ran through him. He didn't understand it's origin. Why should he feel like that about being kept out? Did he really expect Stiles to keep his door open for them all to stroll through when they felt like it?

Derek hadn't told the others about what he did. He hadn't told them about his proclamation of Stiles not being pack and probably never will be pack. It was not something they needed to know. Unless it put them in danger, this was between him and Stiles.

The boy was silent on the other side of the door, but Derek could clearly hear his heartbeat, thudding in that same fast rhythm. He could smell Stiles through the door. The warm scent of vanilla and spice like earth or maple wood. Derek was surprised it was a strong as it was, but it also smell a little different. He couldn’t explain it, but it was there, no less pleasant. It was not his business to care, though.

"There in lies the effect." Came Stiles voice again, a littler harder, but still quiet. "I am out of all of this. I'm not a part of this, remember. You have made that quite clear and can now have nothing further to say."

Derek was angry. He was annoyed. Leave it to the universe to make him deal with a bunch of teenagers. But then he supposed he should have expected this. This was what he wanted. It seemed Stiles wanted it now too. Although Derek didn't know what Stiles could be so upset about. Derek was the one who was betrayed. He was the one who had to endure getting tricked and forced to bite a man he wanted to see with his throat ripped out. Derek was the one who had lost most of his pack in one night and still hadn't been able to put it back together since. Stiles was a teenager, a human, one who had no business dabbling in the supernatural. Aside from Scott, Stiles had no claim to this world. He gave the kid props for not turning tail and running after it all got tough, but that was because the boy had no sense of self-preservation. 

Stiles risked what he could to protect those he cared about. He did what he could to help. Even go so far as to manipulate and lie. Like he did to Derek. So what did he have to be angry over. The boy was smart enough to know there would be consequences. He knew Derek would never forgive betrayal by those he was beginning to trust. He really did believe he could trust Stiles, apparently he was wrong.

"Fine." Derek gritted out. "I'll deal with this myself."

Derek turned and stomped back down the driveway towards his Camaro. For whatever reason, his sense ignored the rest of the world, focusing on the house behind him as he walked away. He focused on the heartbeat behind the door, beating fast out of whatever emotion he could not identify. He heard a small thump on the other side, slightly muffled. It was followed by words, softly spoken, but with a slight edge to them, "So be it."

Hearing those made his gut twist. Inside, his wolf was whining, his gut dropping, like those words were a finality, one that he didn't want to think about.

 

* * * * * * *

Stiles stayed quiet for a few moments, slowly trying to gain his breath back. Derek's gruff voice echoing in his mind. He had not expected to see Derek again, not even hear his voice. He never thought Derek would be the one to first make contact even he he did think they would be thrown together again. In some part of his mind, he had hoped, he hoped that he would be able to see the man again. Maybe to be able to get a second chance to get him to see the truth, make him see that Stiles would not put Derek through that. If he ever arrived at such a thought, he would have gone to Derek immediately. Never would he have tricked him. Of course, Derek didn't see it that way.

Why would he?

They weren't friends. They were just acquaintances, thrown into the situations that constantly found their paths crossing. Only a few times they have actually worked together. They were allies at the best of times. The rest of the time, they were just individuals. Once he thought that it could be different, but the universe loved proving him wrong.

Still, Derek sought him out this time. He came to him, telling him to be careful in his own short, austere way. Stiles didn't expect that. He expected Derek to come rip his throat out for his pack members, Jackson and Lydia, coming to his house and being anywhere near him. He thought Derek would tell him to stay away from his pack. He didn't want to hear those words again. Derek already made his view of him clear. So Stiles said the words for him. 

He took those words and threw them back into Derek's face-well through the door and into his face. He would have no part in it. 

He didn't know what disappointed him more, that he was kicked out of the pack or that he had accepted that. In truth, he had accepted it. He couldn't play the fool and hope for change. It was not going to happen.

That is why he was making changes himself. He was training with Chris and Danny, learning more about himself every day. He was trying to learn about his magic, something he didn't expect was possible. Little by little he was improving and getting better. It had gotten to the point that Stiles became so used to his magic, it was the first thing he felt in the morning. Always there, always like a little flame under his skin in his chest. It was like an energy source that help push him through the day. Despite his nightmares, where his magic was non-existent, where he was helpless, he still awoke in tears and stifled screams. He would reach for his magic, trying to feel if it was really there. That his nightmares were just nightmares. 

That was the only thing that was yet to start improving. His nightmares came every night, relentless and staggering. He hated nights anymore. Sometimes he would try his best to not sleep, staying up as late as he can, often till almost when his dad would arrive home from work, but always falling asleep from exhaustion. Still woken up by his haunting subconscious soon after. 

Stiles was making changes to better himself. It was not for Derek's pack. It was to help find Erica and Boyd and that was it. The rest was for him. It was to prove to himself that he was not weak. He was not helpless.

Stepping away from the door, his pushed his thoughts away from Derek, heading back into the living room, finding Danny sitting at the tablet between him and the kitchen. He was looking at his phone, reading a text message, only to turn his screen black. The boy put his phone down as Stiles came in. He looked up with his dark eyes, trying to offer a small smile. 

"So, how's Miguel?"

Stiles groaned. "I knew I shouldn't have had you over that day," he said, sitting down in the chair beside Danny. He brought the can of Coke the other boy had set of for him up to his lips, taking a long swig. Danny was chuckling beside him. 

"I thought it was funny," Danny said with a smirk. "Aside from none of you knowing about me, I give you props for trying. It was nearly convincing."

"What are you talking about? It was very convincing," Stiles said, feigning hurt. 

Danny laughed. Taking a sip from his own drink. Stiles found himself smiling, something he did rather rarely anymore. He used to smile more often, but not recently. When he did, it was usually sad or forced, hardly ever genuine. In those rare occasions when it would be real, it would be with Danny. He liked Danny, he was grateful for all that Danny had done for him. Stiles just wished he could give something back in return. 

"I have to say," Danny began, "even though you pimped him out, I did enjoy the view."

Stiles rolled his eyes. Of course Danny would point out Derek's body. Stiles remembered that day clearly. He could practically recall Danny eyes bugging out and the bobbing of his Adam's apple as he swallowed when Derek stood shirtless in Stiles' bedroom. It was the first thing that came to his mind, honestly it was. He needed Danny's help then and a little incentive never hurt anyone, right? It was surprising that Derek went alone with it. Of course he was still pissed. Tell that to the bruise on Stiles' forehead that didn't go away for a week when Derek forced it to get intimate with his steering wheel. Rude much!

Stiles had to admit that he didn't blame Danny for oogling. Stiles had snuck in a few peaks himself, although he wouldn't admit it outside his own mind.

"Seriously, you have to appreciate that man's aesthetic appeal," Danny said with a grin, his dark eyes unfocused as he no doubt got lost in his own memory of those moments. When Stiles didn't say anything Danny simmered down some, his expression growing considerate. "You know, you never said what type of guys you are attracted to. You must have had crushes, right?"

Stiles felt his eyebrows meet his hairline. He didn't expect the conversation to take this turn. It was startling to say the least. True, his bisexuality wasn't a secret, but he never out right made it publically known. Only his dad and Scott knew the truth. Now Danny. With a shrug Stiles nodded. "Yeah, I have. But it's not like I have many opportunities to pursue those crushes."

"Why not?"

Stiles looked at the table, feeling a little self-conscious. "I am a hyperactive kid, with attention deficit disorder, lack of any curve appeal, and low on the social chain. Pretty self explanatory."

Danny shook his head. "That is not true." Stiles looked at him, barely registering the firm lines on his face. "You once asked me once if gay guys would find you attractive. The answer if yes. You are certainly attractive."

"You're still not my type, Danny," Stiles quipped.

Danny flicked his arm. "I'm everyone's type." The boy smiled, his dark eyes still on Stiles face. Stiles was making a point to not look at Danny.

Danny may be trying to make him feel better, but Stiles had heard this pep talk before. His dad had given it times before and so did Scott, of course that was when Scott was his best friend and didn't have girlfriend. When neither knew about the supernatural world. He had heard about his qualities enough times he could recite them, but in truth, Stiles couldn't see them. He may have a big brain, but that was all he saw. He wasn't athletic like Danny or Jackson, he lacked muscle tone like Derek, had amber-brown eyes instead of Scott's puppy dog brown. Now to go with his list of faults, he had scars over his body. Ugly slash marks and burns from his troubles. Troubles of sticking his nose where it didn't belong. Of caring too much and getting very little in return.

"Yeah, well it's not like it matters." Stiles said, finishing his can in one long gulp. "Of the few people I have had a crush on, none of them would ever look at me that way."

"Oh, so sure are you," Danny asked, leaning back in his seat. "Now you have to tell me who these people are."

Stiles waved his hand. "Most are celebrities like anyone else. But there was one who was a full on crush, the other...just a thought, I guess."

"Now you really have to tell me," he said with a grin. "I already know about Lydia. That you made painfully obvious for years, but who is the other?"

Stiles wasn't surprised Danny guess Lydia. Everyone would guess Lydia. Stiles had made the mistake of making it crystal clear for years. It was one subject he was ridiculed about for. Often made fun of for his out there wishful thinking. "It doesn't matter. What's done is done. They are no longer a possibility."

"You make it sound like they are either dead or that hope is lost," Danny said with a frown.

Stiles shrugged. "Either would be acceptable."

Danny was about to say more when the door opened a yipping sound came from the foyer. Hopping up from the kitchen table in time to see his dad come in, holding a red leash around his fist. At his feet was Luna, panting with her pink tongue out, her tail wagging like crazy as she came into the living room. Her nose leading her to various items and she bounced from one thing to the next.

Stiles wasted no time in rushing towards the mutt, dropping to his knees. At the sight of him, Luna barked, her tail bouncing from side to side. She practically jumped on him as he came close, licking at his hands and his face. He was a fit of giggles and snorts as he pet her. Danny came in behind him and she went back and forth between them, licking and whining at them both, trying to get as much attention as possible. 

"Luna," Stiles exclaimed. "Hey girl, what you doing here? Did you miss me?"

Noah Stilinski cleared his throat as he took off his key ring to dangle it in his hand. "Uh, I'm here too."

"Yeah, hi dad," Stiles said in between Luna's licks. He pet the thick fur around her shoulders, loving the way she squirmed, twisting her body so he could scratch her back and then her head then her sides and then all over again. Getting up to give his dad a wide grin, one that hadn't done in a long while, he asked, "What is she doing here?"

Noah chuckled. "She is here because she needs to finish healing." At Stiles' look confusion, Noah said, "She is still healing from her skirmish with some wild dog and needs to be kept away from the other K-9's at the station for now. She gets her stitches out later in the week."

Stiles had nearly forgotten about Luna's brush with the wraiths. She didn't have the large bandage on anymore, her fur still as sleek and soft as ever. The boys didn't know what kind of story Deaton would tell the station, but they trusted he would make it a good one. Stiles had asked about Luna a few times during the past two weeks and his dad said they were monitoring her. Trying to keep her away from the other dogs in case her stitches came out. It seemed the story Deaton gave was plausible to his dad. Stiles had to admit it was a good story. Although, he wondered if his dad thought so. Of course he wouldn't ask that though.

"So you brought her for a visit?" Danny asked.

The older Stilinski shook his head. "No I brought her to stay."

"What!?!" Both boys asked in unison.

"She is staying here for a while," Noah said hiding a smile. "She needs to take it easy and stay away from the other dogs. She is still on antibiotics and needs rest. As Sheriff, it is my job to help take care of our K-9 unit."

Stiles didn't care that that sounded like complete wolf shit. His dad may be acting Sheriff, but he has other deputies, lieutenants who oversee the K-9 unit. That is their sole job. They could have easily taken over Luna's care. Also it wasn't like Luna was the first dog to get hurt. A few of the other dogs have sustained injuries, one even a bullet wound, and still been housed at the station with the other dogs. So, he saw right through his dad's excuse, but he didn't dare question it. He was too happy to care.

He jumped up to hug his dad. Wrapping his arms tightly around the man's shoulder's. Noah chuckled warmly before returning the embrace.

That was how they later were in his room, sitting on his bed. His dad long since gone to bed to be up early tomorrow morning. They ate dinner together, one that Stiles cooked, Danny staying over for that. It was the fourth time in two weeks that has happened and Stiles was getting used to it. It reminded him of actually having a friend over, something he found that he missed. The whole time at dinner, Stiles thanked his dad for bringing Luna here, promising to look after her since he was out of school for the summer. Danny trying to hide his laughter and Noah rolling his eyes with a fond smile on his face. The rest of the evening consisted of talking about nothing, but what the teens were doing, which they lied about for the most part, except in Danny's case where he mentioned his work at his grandmother's shop. He also got a job at the local ball park, helping to plan out activities for younger kids over the summer while their parents worked. Stiles was surprised at that.

Eventually, his dad went to bed, bidding them both good night and telling Danny to head home soon or otherwise stay for the night. Now they were in his room, running through a spell book that Danny brought from his hidden stash. It was small, but it had some decent spells for beginners that Stiles had been practicing from. The book was in Danny's handwriting, obviously more of his own practice when he was younger, something that Stiles had yet to mention. He knew Danny was young when he uncovered his magic, but he was curious about what happened next. He didn't want to pry, knowing Danny would tell him in time, yet his curiosity was eating away at him. Luna laid down on the foot of the bed, fluffy tail curled around herself, ignoring them as they read. The German Shepherd looked right at home and Stiles hid a smile at that. He was very happy she was doing okay. 

"So are you going to tell me who your crush is, or was," Danny asked tentatively.

Stiles rolled his eyes. "This again."

Danny nodded his head like a kid in a candy shop. A wide smile on his face. When Stiles grimaced, keeping quiet, Danny persisted. "Can I guess?"

Stiles chuckled. "You would never guess right, but go ahead."

"Is it that bad?"

Stiles felt his small smile falter. Slowly he felt his head nod, even though his mind was telling him it wasn't bad, just impossible. "Yeah," he said.

"Someone I know from school?"

"Not from school."

"But I still know them," Danny said, his eyes searching Stiles' face like it held the answer. Maybe it did. Danny had paused for a moment, before his eyes widened in surprise even though Stiles didn't say anything. "Derek?"

Stiles stayed silent. No confirmation or rejection, but neither were needed. The look on his face apparently meant Danny knew he was right. "No way," the Hawaiian boy said, his mouth open.

Stiles' frown grew deeper, his hand running through Luna's pelt gently. "You see what I mean about it never happening."

"That is not what I said," Danny interjected.

"It doesn't matter. I don't want to talk about it. That's all it was, just a crush. Derek and I weren't-aren't-even friends."

Danny regarded him sadly. "Are you sure about that?"

"It's time to move on," Stiles said with a finality that made Danny close his mouth before he could say more. "It's what I'm good at."

Danny watched him for a few moments more, not saying a word. Stiles focused on Luna, who was falling asleep on his bed. Her soft black, white, and light tan fur running through his fingers, gleaming in the his overhead light in some spots. Her bandage was gone, but Stiles could feel the raised areas of his skin underneath that were still healing. The stitches he could still feel, but at least they would be gone soon. Stiles was glad she was here. He had to make a note to thank his dad profusely for bringing her here to finish healing. Maybe he could talk him into allowing Stiles to keep her. 

He really wanted to. The dog saved his life for Heaven's sake.

"So," Danny said, breaking the silence. "Are we going to practice some magic now?"

Stiles smiled, meeting Danny's warm eyes. The boy still had traces of sadness on his face, but otherwise was happy to change the subject. They moved onto the floor, positioning themselves across from each other. Stiles was practicing how to move and expand water. You could call it levitating it, but Danny said there was a difference. Levitating was just moving up and down, but using it to its full extant was harder. There were no spells for this. It was about feeling, a flow of motion. Stiles wasn't sure why Danny was getting him to practice without spells since he was still knew, but he trusted that Danny knew what he was doing. He was more knowledgeable in this than he was.

It was harder than it looked. His magic was easy to harness, but it was another issue to direct it to do what he wanted. When he would move the water from the cup between them, it would move, but when he would try to expand it or crush it into a ball, not much would happen. He had been practicing this for a few hours yesterday, only able to get the water to stretch into wider ball only a little. After Danny told him it was meant to be an extension of his magic, letting it flow as fluidly as water, that he finally was able to get it to move at all.

Tonight he was aiming to do the same, hopefully with better results. He was trying anyway.

 

 

* * * * * * *

 He found himself walking in the woods. Stiles had no idea what part of the woods he was in. Everything looked the same after a while. Trees and grass and dirt. Fallen leaves covering most of the Preserve floor. He knew the Preserve when he saw it. It was always a shade darker under its canopy. Light breaking through every so often unless you were lucky enough to find a clearing somewhere. The woods always spoke of a wildness that you can only get from nature, but sometimes Stiles felt there was more to it.

Even now he felt it. Like a gut feeling, a weight, telling him that the woods were not as thy seemed. He has been around enough supernatural stuff to know it. It made the hairs on his arms and the back of his neck stand on end. It made a shiver run down his spine.

It was like a current of electricity in the air, making his skin tingle. Stiles had no other way to describe it other than it was there. 

Moving in between the trees and over the brush, he walked. He didn’t know where he was going but he figured he should be keeping an eye out for the edge of the Preserve. Not to mention anything else that was here besides him. 

He knew he shouldn’t be here. Being the human he was, in his pajamas bottoms and a loose T-shirt, he wasn’t exactly equipped to go trudging through the woods. From what he could tell it was early dawn, pale light slowly making the dark blue and black recede in the sky. Stiles could see in the early morning light. The forest was covered in low amounts of fog, dusting the ground and horizon where Stiles looked, making the forest look paler then it really was. 

Stiles didn’t remember leaving his house, he didn’t remember falling asleep. The last thing he remembered was being in his room with Danny, practicing with a few spells Danny wanted to show him. 

Now he was in the middle of the woods, heading in who knows where, and he had no idea how he got there. Yet he kept walking, heading past trees that were beginning to look the same no matter how many times he looked again. 

It was a good thing it wasn’t winter or he’d be freezing right now. No shoes or socks on, his feet were dirty and he was stepping on leaves and twigs but otherwise he was fine. He had no phone in his pants pockets, not that he expected to have it with him. He wasn’t that lucky. 

The longer he walked, the more he felt his skin tingle and the more the warmth inside him grew. At least his magic was still present. He was comforted by that. 

The feeling of warmth was like a rock he wanted to grab onto. With each step he felt the warmth grow and the his hairs stand up straighter. He felt his heart quicken just a little and a buzzing enter his ears. 

It was almost like he felt when he didn’t take his Adderall. Too much energy, but the buzzing was new. It wasn’t a feeling he likes per se. He liked having energy to spare but if there was no way for him to expel said energy, he felt antsy almost twitchy.

He walked faster, hoping to find his way out of the mass of trees. The buzzing never left his ears but it soon accompanied by a thumping sound. It sounded like a heartbeat. Stiles didn’t stop to think about it, assuming it was his own. He was getting more anxious by the moment. The sound of his own heart in his ears would be expected. 

Stiles stopped, hoping to get his barings and perhaps see something, anything to point him in the right direction. This is where a werewolf would come in handy. With their powerful senses they would be able to help. Hell any of Stiles friends would help. That was if he had friends.

He had Danny. Maybe not the wolves but he did have Danny who had magic himself. Danny could find him. He had to trust that. Stiles wasn’t giving up yet but at least he knew someone else would be able to find him. Someone other than his dad. 

It was sad that only two people would come after him, but it was better than none. 

He thumping in his ears got louder, making him worry. He never heard his heart beat that loud before nor that hard. The hairs on his neck and arms were still raised, static filled the air. He looked around the dreary woods looking for the source of the sound. It couldn’t be his heart. If not for the source then maybe a way out. 

Twisting left and right, his eyes scanning every piece of horizon he can, passing the trees, buches and overgrowth. The warmth in his chest expanded, flooding his whole body making him shiver. His skin broke out into goose bumps and his breathing came quicker like his heart beat. 

When he turned around he noticed a large tree stump, easily the length of his whole body. He didn’t recall seeing that before. It wasn’t there a moment ago. Stiles could have sworn that stump was not there.

He was about to bypass it altogether, but something about that stump kept his gaze. There was nothing special about its appearance, it was an old tree stump. It would have been glorious and huge if it were still alive, but Stiles couldn’t see anything else to make it stand out. 

Yet his body kept getting closer to it. His steps slow and hesitant but still closer. The closer he got, the bigger the stump seemed to get. He also noticed the buzzing getting louder, the thumping did too. It was deafening.

He wanted to turn around and run. He wanted to get out of there. Curl up in his bed and pretend he never left. 

His body seemed to have another idea. He felt his right arm rise, his hand outstretched and pointing towards the tree stump. He watched in horror as his body failed to respond to his brain. It was like he was a puppet or like he was sleep walking, not actually in control of his limbs. 

With each passing second the sounds plagued his ears drowning out everything else. His magic was like a fireball inside him, roaring at him, yet he couldn’t tell if it was because of his emotions or something else. He was afraid but he didn’t know why. Why was he afraid? Why was he in the woods? Why was he trying to touch a long dead tree stump?

He braces himself when his hand is nearly a few centimeters from touching it, expecting something bad to happen. Something has to right? Turns out, he never makes contact, because he is then thrown back off his feet.

He hits the ground hard, sliding across picking up dead leaves, twigs, and dirt. The wind is knocked out of him, his vision suddenly brighter with white around the edges.

He spit out the dirt that sprayed in his mouth, wiping his hand over his eyes to clear them. Gaining his breath back, he sat back up only to be met with something that made his blood run cold.

“Stiles.”

The one word sent his body convulsing with shivers. He looked around expecting to see someone, only to see the stump.

He didn’t know why, but he crept closer to the stump, dragging his body over the ground to do so. If he was being watched, static closer to the ground might help hide him. The brush and trees might help him. Slowly, he pulled himself closer, but when he was a foot away, he was thrown back again. This time against another tree. 

He landed in a heap against the smaller trees base. He gulped I’m breaths. His eyes felt wide like saucers as he looked for around. Still seeing nothing. 

”Stiles.”

The voice came again. Like chill on the wind, terse and emotionless. It made Stiles go rigid. He tried desperately to see who was near to no avail. 

“Who’s there? Who are you?” He called out to the open air. Obviously he got nothing in response. 

He scrambled to his feet ignoring the pounding in his shoulder. He was going to have a bruise. He backed up only to get jerked back feeling like a tight grip was suddenly on his around his upper arm. He landed on his front, his face nearly plummeting into the dirt. He heard something across the wind, like a whisper. But he couldn’t tell what it was if it was anything at all. 

He pushed back up onto his feet, his hands clenched into fists. He reached for his magic, the familiar warmth providing any semblance of comfort it could. Stiles didn’t care if he was alone, he didn’t care if he was human. Whatever was out there, he would fight if he had to. 

”Who are you!”

His voice echoed into the woods, bouncing off every surface to reach his ears again. Yet again no answer. 

Instead, the woods darkened. The place going darker. It was odd because the sky was still pale above, but the woods were goin black like a blanket of black shadow was engulfing it. Stiles felt his heart drop and his panic rise, but he kept firmly still. His magic giving him strength, swirling inside him, ready to help him. 

Only he wasn’t ready for what came next.

”Mieczyslaw.”

That sent Stiles to a near panic attack. His heart was pounding so hard he thought it would burst from his chest cavity. His sweat turned cold and his breathing stopped in his throat. 

His mind raced with the single word, the single name. No one knew his name. Not his real name. No one but his dad, Scott, the hospital, and some of his teachers. Hell sven the school changed his name on the system to Stiles. It made it easier. 

No one spoke his name. No one could. Everyone who ever tried got it so wrong it was near laughable. But this time, whoever this was, said it perfectly. 

As the shadow over the woods got darker, the sky seemed to get lighter. It made Stiles wish he could fly. Fly away from his troubles, fly from the ground where all danger seemed to be lurking. 

He turner and ran, running for who knows what but he didn’t care. He had to get away. Away from that stump. Away from the Preserve. Away from that voice. He pushed himself, feeling the warmth in his body drift to his legs, pushing him, flooding him and making him go faster. His magic was helping him and Stiles was grateful. He poured his emotions into his Spark letting it fuel his magic, forcing it to help him go further and faster. 

The trees blurred by him and he kicked up dirt, leaves, and dust in his wake. He didn’t care where he wasn’t going so long as it was away from who was calling him. 

“Mieczyslaw.” 

He beard again. The voice grating on his nerves. It seemed so close yet far enough that it was like an echo. He pushed himself to go further, ducking his head to speed up. Stiles has never been graceful in his movements. Anyone who saw him would think Stiles’ body was replaced with another one and his head was sitting on its shoulders. He didn’t care, he wanted to keep his head on his shoulders thank you. 

“Stiles. Stiles."

it came again. This time quicker. He risked looking behind him, meeting nothing but darkness, the forest blending away. As he passed the forest floor below as the trees nearby, they all turned black and fell into nothingness behind him. 

Turnign back around, he lost his footing and then he was falling. 

He fell and fell. He tried to scream but had no voice. It was a silent panic, pressing in on him and his panic rose. There was no hole above him, there was nothing but the rush of air around him and the feeling of his stomach in his throat as gravity took him into nothing. 

“Stiles!”

No, he had to get away from that. It couldn’t follow him. He was falling, darkness bleeding around him. There was no light, nothing but black. He couldn’t see his hand in front of him. He saw nothing.

He felt cold and like he was shivering. It was rocking through his body, shaking him as he fell. 

“Stiles! Stiles! STILES!”

He felt a large force slam into face, stinging making tears come to his eyes. He felt his eyes close. The stinging spread over his cheek and face. Suddenly the falling sensation stopped and air around him settled. Stiles opened his eyes to be met by a sight he was near ready to burst into tears over. 

"Danny," he choked out. 

“Oh thank God,” the boy said sitting back on his heels a bit. There was some thudding motions happening around it. Stiles just barely caught sight of some books falling back onto his desk before Danny moved.

He was half on top of Stiles, his hands gripping his upper arms tightly, his face contorted into worry and fear, followed slowly by relief with each breath Stiles took. 

Stiles then took notice of his room, it was a disaster. Well it always was but this time it looked like someone had come through in desperate search of something. Books were off the shelves, his clothes were scattered, picture frames knocked over or joining the clothes on the floor. Sitting up he took in the room, Luna beside them at the foot of the bed, her head nuzzling into his legs. Her whines were pitiful and it made Stiles’ heart ache. 

Danny looked just as bad. He was wide eyes, pale, sweat was on his brow. His eyes were dark with emotions that Stiles couldn’t identify quick enough.

”What happened,” Stiles asked softly, his voice a whisper. 

"Stiles," Danny said, his dark brown eyes blown into saucers. "Your eyes."

Stiles felt his stomach drop. What was he talking about?

He had a nightmare. He deduced that after he woke up. His nightmares have always been vivid, but this one was different. It felt real. Everything felt as real as Danny's hands on his skin now. The warmth from Danny's hands made no effort to stifle the shiver than ran through him at the thought of his dream. He didn't understand it. His nightmares were always his subconscious fears and sometimes his real ones playing out in his mind. Often times, those fears went unspoken and it was his nightmares where they manifested. So what was this nightmare about?

Quickly getting up from the bed, shifting Luna's head off him and moving away from Danny, he ran to his bathroom across the hall. He vaguely saw his dad's door closed, causing him to silently send up a prayer that his dad had not heard anything, praying he was fast asleep. Turning on the light to look in the mirror. When he caught his reflection, he couldn't look away. He looked the same, his skin was fair, his hair ruffled from sleep, a light sheen of sweat on his forehead. Everything was familiar until he saw his eyes.

They were not the honey brown he was used to. They were not his mother's eyes. Instead they were amber, aglow with a hidden fire behind their depths. As he stared, they shimmered and swirled for a moment more, the color as beautiful as it was mesmerizing. He could make out flecks of gold, red, honey, and brown in their depths. Like the sun shining through rubies and topaz. It took his breath away.

When Danny came up behind him, the shimmering stopped, slowly returning the orbs back to normal. 

Danny's face was the same mixture of emotions, but he had a hint of a smile on his face, completely awestruck like Stiles was. Danny didn't need to ask, because Stiles had no answer. He didn't understand what his eyes meant. The only thing he could blame the sudden display on was his magic. He felt it beneath his skin, circling and brushing underneath, much like the glow that was behind his eyes a few second prior. Whether it was true, he was not sure. It had to be the only explanation, right?

"I-I don't understand," he said softly to himself in the mirror.

Danny nodded. He stepped closer, now only a foot behind Stiles. "Me either," he said. "But I think it is time to talk to someone who might."

Stiles swallowed hard, never taking his sight from his eyes. He half expected them to start glowing again. First the mishap at Chris', then Lydia and Jackson, the nightmare, and now his eyes taking a new look. Could this day get any weirder?

The answer to that question was yes.

When Stiles didn't answer, Danny laid a hand on his back over his right shoulder blade. It was a light touch, but it caused Stiles to hiss in pain. At his reaction Danny removed his hand. Stiles saw the other boys eyebrows rise, looking at his own hand like it offended him. Stiles turned before reaching down to pull up his shirt. He didn't want to put his scars on display for Danny, but it wasn't like the boy hadn't seen what they looked like before they healed. Turning to the left, he angled his shoulder towards the mirror, pulling up the shirt just enough to look at his shoulder.

"What the hell," he gasped.

The pale skin was red, purple starting to show as a large bruise was forming. It was forming fast because there was no way in hell Stiles went to sleep with it. Yet there it was staring at them both in the face. Red and purple with a slight hint of blue right over his shoulder blade. The skin was raised a little, a welt underneath, like he hit something very hard. Hard enough to leave behind a bruised bump.

He couldn't think of how he got it, the day's events rather docile. Not even during the training with Chris did he experience the kind of pain he would suffered to get this. So where did it come from? It wasn't until he thought through the rest of the day did he remember the dream. He remembered the woods, the trees, that weird stump. He remembered the chilling voice, the one who knew his name, calling out to him. He recalled the fear that shook through him. With that he also got reminded of being tossed around like a rag doll.

The tree he hit. The one he was thrown back against. It hurt even then. He hit his back then too, in the same area the bruise was currently forming. But that was impossible, wasn't it? Nightmares don't give you bruises. Nightmares can't physically hurt you. The look on Danny's face was equal to his own. Wide eyes and mouth agape. The difference was that Stiles was the one slowly putting the pieces together. The evidence was clear on his skin. 

His eyes and the chaos of his room were good points, but this was even more so. He knew Danny was right. Stiles needed to talk to someone and there was only one person in town he could speak to about this. He dreaded it though. He feared not getting answers or not getting good ones. He was scared already. He could see it and now so could Danny.

"We go tomorrow," he said quietly. Danny nodded, his gaze still on Stiles' shoulder. Stiles swallowed the lump in his throat, before lowering his shirt. "I want to know what is happening to me."

Chapter Text

“Stiles, to what do I owe this pleasure,” Deaton asked as he and Danny had entered the clinic. Thankfully it seemed to be a slow day or they just missed the crowd because the place wasn’t empty and it meant no onlookers. 

Deaton nodded his head to Danny in hello, Danny doing much of the same. It striked a thought in Stiles that the two must have had a long history. Stiles has only known the mocha colored man for two years, ever since Scott started to work for him. It wasn’t until the whole supernatural twist that he came to see the man for what he really was. 

Speaking of which, he clearly didn’t know enough.

"We have a problem.” Stiles said without pleasantries, already heading into the back in the first exam room her came to. The other two were following without delay, Danny looking worried, but Deaton looked a little bemused and calm as always.

”Rather he has a problem,” Danny muttered. Stiles shot him a glare, but it lacked any heat. Danny wasn’t wrong. 

“Oh,” Deaton asked eyeing Stiles with two wise eyes.

Stiles could feel himself fidget under the vet’s state. Aside from the fact he didn’t want to be here, he also didn’t like how the man always was so cryptic. He still hasn’t forgiven the man for what he helped Scott do. Accidentally making Stiles the fallout guy who lost a pack and his best friend. Not to mention being beaten by the man he hoped to stop. He was the patsy and Deaton inadvertently had a hand in that. 

“What do you know about sleep walking,” Stiles asked quickly. 

The confusion on Deaton's face was priceless. It was the first time he had seen true emotion other than his usual contentedness. Aside from glimpses here and there this was full blown and for the world to see. 

Danny sighed beside him. “Stiles I told you on the way over here, you were not sleep walking.”

"Then how do you explain my nightmare,” Stiles asked arching his eyebrows.

"How do you explain waking up in your room which you never left?”

Deaton cleared his throat, breaking them both from their little debate. "Maybe you should start at the beginning.”

They told the man everything. Well almost everything. They didn't mention his eyes glowing or the floating objects that Danny witnessed, at least not yet. Stiles wanted to keep it to themselves at least for now, but Danny insisted. They just had to work their way up to it and who knows if Deaton will catch on to and ask them before they could. Stranger things have happened. Stiles told his side of things, going over the nightmare, the strange tree stump, the voice that called out to him by his real name.

"What is you real name," Danny had asked interrupting his story.

"I am not telling you so you can hold that over my head for the rest of my life" Stiles said, earning him a pout from Danny.

Rolling his eyes in with a smile, he continued. He mentioned the thumping, like a heartbeat, and then being thrown around like a rag doll which got a surprised look from Deaton. He ended with falling down, everything being completely black, then Danny waking him up in his room and finding the large bruise. He never mentioned where it was just that he had it. Danny started his side, throwing in what he observed while Stiles was ‘not’ sleep walking. He said he heard Stiles whimper, cry out at times, grimace in pain, tossing and turning.

Stiles hoped to get a semblance of what Deaton would say or at least guess after they finished, before telling him about his eyes and the floating of his possessions. If the former Emissary could actually gave straight forward answers.

“Can I see this bruise on your shoulder,” Deaton asked after a few moments of processing.

"How did-"

He could have sworn he never said where it was. Deaton, however, just eyes him knowingly. With a sigh he rolled up his shirt, moving his arm out of the sleeve gingerly to show the stinging bruise. 

It was worse than last night now. Fully developed and red and purple and blue. Raised in the center like he got hit with a baseball, making it form a lump that shot a sharp stab of pain through his shoulder and arm. Deaton gently prodded on the sensitive area making Stiles grunt in pain. Taking his hand back Deaton hummed before moving away, heading to his cabinets to pull out supplies. A tray with a small spatula, several vials and beakers of things Stiles couldn’t make out and a little mixing bowl. 

“So what do you make of this,” Stiles said after giving more than enough time for silence. 

Deaton didn’t answer at first, putting a few contents into the bowl before mixing it with the spatula and then going back to putting in something else. 

"Well there could be a number of explanations.” The man said earning him an eye roll that Stiles was afraid they would roll back into his head. Of course the man didn’t see it. “You mentioned something about a stump,” Deaton said, looking away from him. 

“Yeah,” Stiles said dismissively. “It must have been cut down a long time ago.”

”Can you describe it to me,” the vet asked seriously looking at him now. 

Taken aback by the question he recited his memory of the stump. “It was large, easily, as wide as my height. Possibly oak or ash wood. It had a crack in it’s middle extending to it's sides, most likely from the years of elemental exposure.”

"Have you ever seen this tree before?” Danny asked. 

“Um no,” Stiles said. “I don’t often go looking for stumps in the woods. And it was a nightmare. Just some random, rather weird detail.”

”I don’t think it was random,” Deaton said with a small shake of his head. 

Stiles didn’t miss the way Deaton and Danny looked at one another. Serious expressions, marked with hard lines. Their eyes were mirroring concern and what looked like wonder. 

“What are you talking about?” 

“Did you touch this stump," the vet asked him. 

Stiles was curious about that question. What would it matter? Even if he did, it's not like it would mean anything. Oh my, I touched a tree stump, shocking, he thought. Yet at the still rigid expressions on their faces, he thought better of making a joke about it. He still couldn't help but think about what the big deal was. It was all a dream, a nightmare. What was the significance of a some random tree stump?

"No," Stiles said slowly, eyeing them both, watching as their expressions changed from serious to minutely disappointed and a little relieved. Danny was nodding his head and Deaton was going back to mixing his herbs into a cream. Stiles could practically feel the stimulation in the air, the tenseness at the conversation and he couldn't take it anymore. "What are you both not telling me?"

The silence that fell on the room was deafening. All he could hear was the clink of the utensils as Deaton mixed and crushed his herbs together. The man still had his back to him and Danny was purposely avoiding his eyes. 

"Well?" He raised his voice in impatience.

"It is nothing to be alarmed about," Deaton said finally, looking at him calmly. "I believed you might have come close to an old sacred place."

"Sacred place," Stiles said, enunciating each word slowly, like he was talking to a toddler.

"Correct," Deaton said unfazed. "Beacon Hills once had a place, marked by a tree that was said to be very spiritual, but it was lost and became hidden a long time ago."

"Uh huh." Stiles was flabbergasted by that bit of information. He honestly didn't expect to hear about a tree that was said to be...spiritual. He turned to Danny, looking at his friend, seeing him look a little uneasy. "You believe this too?"

Danny nodded. "It has been mentioned in books before. Known to supernaturals long ago."

"Known how?"

"Druids use such places for spiritual guidance, rituals, even to seek clearer understanding in spells. In Druid circles and even others, this special place would be symbolized as a seat of power," Deaton said, bringing his finished cream tray over to the counter. To Stiles it looked more yellow than white, but he could smell honey and witch hazel from it. "This power was pure in nature, a place where one could feel a deeper connection to the Earth if they wanted to."

Stiles took all of that in for a couple moments before speaking again. Deaton started to rub some of the cream on his shoulder, making him hiss in pain slightly, before settling again. It was cool on his skin, dulling the ache in his shoulder a bit as Deaton worked as diligently and as gently as possible. 

"So you think I might have stumbled across this place in my nightmare?"

Deaton sighed heavily, his eyebrows furrowing just a bit. "I am not sure. As I am also not sure this was a nightmare. Nightmares can be violent and are often manifestations of our fears and insecurities, but it is quite rare for them to be anything else. Especially present as places you have never been to."

"Well I have always defied the odds in unfavorable ways," Stiles muttered.

Deaton gave a small smile. "While it may be nothing, I strongly suggest in letting me know if it happens again."

Stiles wanted to object to that, but a part of him didn't want to. Hell he had already come here asking for answers and while he didn't have all of them, he had a few. It was more than he came here with. It was odd that he would leave Deaton's clinic for the first time with less questions than answers this time. 

"What about your eyes," Danny said quickly, before immediately closing his mouth, his eyes going wide as he stared at Stiles. Stiles gave him a glare. He was hoping to explore his eyes, later, possibly seeing if it would happen again. Now the cat was out of the bag and he could see how it peaked Deaton's interest.

"Beg your pardon," the former Emissary asked, looking at both boys. "Did your eyes get hurt," he asked. Moving to look at Stiles' eyes, scrutinizing, looking between the both of them for any signs of distress. Of course all he would find would be exhaustion. Stiles averted his gaze, trying to not laugh at Deaton's concerned inspection.

"No," he began. "It was nothing like that. It was after I woke up. Danny said my eyes were different when I woke up." At Deaton's cocked eyebrow, Stiles swallowed hard before he finished a little unsure. "My eyes, they...um...they seemed to glow.”

Deaton was quiet for a moment, plenty of heartbeats to count. His face was his usual mask and Stiles could only guess what he was thinking. “I see. Just out of curiosity, were you using magic?” 

“I don’t think so, maybe.”

”You were.” Danny said not looking at either of them but at the floor. “Your room, it was like the Conjuring in there. The picture frames, books, some clothes, they were floating.”

"Floating?" Deaton had asked.

"Yes. A good few feet in some cases." Danny said raising his hand to show how high some things were floating in example. "When I woke up after hearing him in his sleep, I saw it. I had a sock hovering over my face.”

"That’s impossible. Are you sure that wasn’t you or just you being dazed from sleep," Stiles said trying to play it off. He still wasn't sure of what he saw when he woke up. The falling objects could have been anything. 

"Stiles, be serious." Danny said in minor annoyance. "Of course it wasn’t me. I can levitate things, but to a certain degree and never that many things at once. My magic doesn’t work that way.”

"What do you mean?"

"I’m a Hedge Witch remember," he muttered.

"No, no I don’t since you didn’t explain what that meant," Stiles said with a minor flail of his arms. 

"It means that my magic is...not the same." Danny looked like he was struggling for words. He tone was getting lower and he stopped looking at Stiles, which was odd. "It only gets me so far.”

"That is not all,” Deaton said, speaking up after a few moments of being silent, with a cocked eyebrow. 

“That is not the point.” Danny said between his teeth glaring at the man.

"What does that mean? What am I missing here,” stiles asked looking between the two.

"Not now.” Danny said waving his hand in his direction. 

Deaton stepped into Stiles' line of sight of Danny positioning his body just so, giving him a different angle to Stiles’ bruise. Gritting his teeth, he turned away. The careful hands of the vet running softly over his shoulder, applying the cream in a few more spots before Deaton went back to the counter. Stiles sneaked a glance at Danny. 

The other boy wasn’t looking at him. His face was turned down staring at the floor. His arms crossed, a frown line on his forehead. It was the picture of sadness or maybe guilt. Stiles didn’t understand it. What could Danny feel guilty or sad about? What was it about his magic or being a Hedge Witch, as he called it, that he didn’t want to tell him?

When Deaton came back, holding a small ice pack in his hand, he put it gingerly in the sore spot. The cold felt good and it made Stiles relax his shoulders just a bit. Although all of this was a little unnecessary, he was not going to complain. It felt too good to complain.

"Why don’t you just heal me,” Stiles asked turning his head to look at Deaton. “You know, like you did that...that night.”

He hated bringing up that dreadful night, when everything had gone to shit and he was left in the dust, bleeding out, broken, and alone. He hated the memories it brought to him, almost like on command. He couldn’t avoid it. No matter what he wished for, he couldn’t change it. Deaton seemed momentarily confused about his question before sighing out a breath.

“I never healed you that night.”

"What?”

"I didn’t heal you that night, Stiles,” the man said slowly shaking his head. “I bandaged you up after cleaning your wounds and stitched what I could to help them. I never healed you.”

Stiles felt his head shake and his eyebrows furrow. “No. They were a lot worse before you came, before I woke up. I remember all the bruises, a cracked rib at least. It was hard to breathe and I had a mild concussion.”

Deaton looked at Stiles a little worried for a moment before his eyes looked past him over his shoulder, then back at him. “That was not my doing.”

Stiles felt his jaw drop and his heart stutter. He looked over his shoulder at Danny, the boy who had gone suspiciously quiet. Who kept his eyes down, arms crossed, and was squeezing his tricep muscles in succession nervously. 

Stiles thought back to that night. He had passed out, that he remembered but after was dark and fuzzy. He remembered when he woke up to Danny and then talking with Deaton. Danny with a light sheen of sweat on his brow, his dark eyes tired, skin strangely a bit paler than normal. He didn’t think anything of it then. He didn’t even notice, too wrapped up in his own injuries to notice. If he had registered these hints, he might have thought it was to do with the late night and dealing with a person who was badly injured and passed out.

"It was you.” He had whispered into the air between them. 

Danny still had the sad, guilty look on his face. He refused to meet Stiles’ eyes. Stepping away from the slab he was leaning against, he walked over to Danny, urging him to look at him. Still Danny wouldn't. He was biting his lip, rubbing at his arms like a kid who just got caught with his hand in a cookie jar.

Why didn’t he say anything, Stiles thought. Why did he keep this from him?

But then he thought about it. Stiles didn’t know about his magic then. It made sense to not tell him. He could understand why he would hide it from him. But then Stiles found out about it in the woods with the wraiths. When Danny protected him, he found out then. So why did he not share what happened that night after his magic was revealed?

Did this have to do with his magic and how it was different? Did this have to deal with Danny being a witch? Despite all his questions, Stiles did the only thing he felt was right, what he wanted to do in that moment.

He hugged Danny. 

He wrapped his arms around the other boy, ignoring the jolt of pain in his shoulder and squeezed. Danny was the first person he willingly touched, who didn’t coerce him, or touch him first, nor was he doing any training. He didn’t do it as an act of comfort for himself, but for Danny. 

His friend realized this too. He stood there for a few seconds, stunned, and Stiles could practically feel the gears in Danny’s head turning as he put the pieces of what was happening together. Slowly, Danny’s arms came around his sides, hugging him back, careful of his shoulder. It was tentative, almost like he was giving Stiles time to adjust and not spook him in case he didn’t want the contact anymore. 

“Thank you,” Stiles said resting his chin on Danny’s shoulder. 

He half expected there to be flashes of Grant or Gerard running through his head. He thought his subconscious would shock him into thinking Danny’s hands were Grant's on his back. But it never happened. It was a surprise, but a pleasant one at that. It was the first hug he had gotten from anyone besides his dad, who he knew would never hurt him. The first embrace from anyone that wasn’t his dad or Scott. He knew this was never going happen again with Scott. Even though it saddened him and he would miss it, it made him feel better, when Danny gave him a little squeeze, hoping to give reassurance. So for a few moments, he let himself have this. 

With a final pat on Danny’s back they split up. Danny’s face was brighter, a small smile on his face. 

“Don’t think this conversation is over though,” Stiles said pointedly. 

Danny only grinned. But nodded his head. 

“Anyways,” He said returning to Deaton who had a knowing look on his face. “What now?”

Deaton shrugged. “Given the new information, I am not sure.”

"Shocker,” Stiles muttered under his breath. Danny elbowed him in his side gently beside him. “So you have no information to help with this? Nothing at all?”

"I am not sure what this all means. But I have a few suspicions.” The man said, cleaning up his supplies to put them in the sink across the room.

"Care to share with the rest of the class," Stiles asked in sarcasm.

"You will know when I know for certain. I need to confer with a few sources first before I can give you any more definitive answers." Stiles figured that was the best he would get out of the man. Turning to Danny, he gave slight roll of his eyes, making Danny smirk before they turned to leave. "But," Deaton said, making them stop in their exit, "that does not mean you cannot help me look for answers."

"What," Stiles asked, while Danny looked on in confusion.

Deaton spread his arms out for gesture that said why not. "I have books that I am not using. You are welcome to them. If you find anything that is to your liking you can feel free to learn from it."

"Are you...offering to teach me?" Stiles asked in stunned silence.

"I am merely asking for assistance in looking for potential answers to what your nightmare might mean. If it means you learn some things along the way, that is just a coincidence," Deaton said in a vague manner, like he couldn't care one way or the other. Stiles didn't miss the small twitch of his lips though.

"I..." Stiles didn't know what to say to that. On the one hand, he didn't trust the man, but on the other he wanted to learn. He wanted to hone his magical skills. He learned that he had abilities, most could only dream of, so he wouldn't be in his right mind to turn down help. At the very least he would learn to control his magic and do a few spells along the way. 

He was learning from Danny. He had learned a lot from the other boy, but even Danny had said once that his material were limited. Maybe Deaton had some things Danny did not. Maybe they could learn something new together. It wasn't a terrible idea, although Stiles was not sure how the other boy would like it. Sneaking a peak at his friend, Danny was looking at the ground, almost seeming to find something interesting to catch his eye.

Before he could answer though, he stopped. In that moment, he heard what shocked him out his deliberation. He heard a scream. And it shook him.

"Do you hear that," he asked.

"Hear what," Danny said looking at him.

His eyes turned towards the small windows on the brick wall, he listened, trying to hear the direction it was coming. It sounded like it was far away, yet for some reason it felt close. It was like his ears was only picking up the trace of it's pitch, but his body could feel it. His magic welled up in him, responding to him, as listened to the sound. He didn't know why he reached for his magic, just that he felt like he needed to. The flame burning brighter as he listened, heating him up and pulsing in time with his heart beat. The sound lasted for a few seconds, but they felt longer, like a stretch of time, slowing it down, until the the scream ended.

"Stiles," Deaton asked curiously, his eyes focusing on Stiles' face.

Even after the scream ended, his magic was still alight under his skin. He couldn't help it. He felt like he needed it. He know what he heard. It was a call. A call for what. he couldn't say. He couldn't even tell you what the call was for other than the fact that he could feel it. It was a scream of fear. No matter how close or far it was, he heard it. He felt it like a live wire, electrifying him, jolting through his nerves, sending a chill down his spine.

It was when he was about to tell the other two men what he thought he heard that his phone rang. Pulling it out of his pocket he barely glanced at it before he answered it. 

“Hello,” he said, ignoring the curious looks of Danny and Deaton.

“Stiles.”

“Lydia,” he asked into the speaker.

”I need your help.” 

 

* * * * * * *

Lydia didn’t understand it. She felt herself being pulled. Like an invisible tether was around her chest, guiding her to who knows where. If you had asked her where she was or where she had been, she probably wouldn't have been able to tell you. All she knew was that she to go somewhere. Following an invisible path that led her from street to street. 

She didn't care about where she was or about the time. All she cared about was following that pull.

It was a good thing it was early morning. It was still fairly dark out, but growing lighter with each passing minute. Lydia walked on the sidewalks, keeping her close to the shadows, making it harder for people to see her. Her feet in her slippers, a light rope around her torso, covering her pajamas. With each step she drew closer. Closer to whatever her destination was. She felt not just a pull around her body, but a whisper in her ears. The longer she walked, the louder the whisper became. There were no words to make out, just a constant stream of white noise, too jumbled and fast for her to make it out. 

Lydia kept going, not paying attention to anything or anyone. Left and right, she turned down streets and paths, getting deeper into town. It wasn't until she came to the YMCA and the community pool that she stopped. Looking at the pool from the sidewalk, there was nothing special about it. The water blueish green from the yellow lights under the surface of the water. The place deserted since it was early morning. Reclining chairs spaced out around the fence that Lydia stood at, separating the pool from the sidewalk. The concrete a pale tan in the morning light. There was nothing here.

The whispers seemed to disagree. They were incessant, like streams of voices on the wind. No words that made sense. It was like she had a large crowd in ear canal that were all talking at once. Yet she was the only one around. She felt a chill run up her spine as she listened. Each whisper seeming to want to get her attention, trying to tell her something. The pull in her chest was still present, but not accompanied by a feeling that she couldn't describe. 

It was like a rising in her chest. Her stomach felt like it was dropping and her skin had goosebumps.

Something was Urging her to keep going, coaxing her to come closer. She didn't even think as she opened the gate, letting herself in. Her eyes never left the pool. The tranquil waters dipping and swaying to the light breeze. But that wasn't the reason she couldn't stop staring. The closer she got, the more a dark figure came into view bobbing on the surface of the water like a buoy. Coming up next to pool's edge she felt her breath hitch in her throat at the sight. It was a body.

A man, floating face down, with water lapping at his lifeless form. The rise in her chest got worse, like a burning feeling, the urge to do something. There were no words for it, just the urge. The voices got even louder after she laid eyes on the body.

Out of the corner of her vision, she saw something stream on the water's surface. Looking at it, it looked like red dye. Floating on the water before dispersing apart, mixing into the blue. The longer she watched, the more the red seemed to get more prominent, changing a small part of the pool water purple before fading back to blue in the larger body of water left untouched. The purple water drifted over to the body, the lights from the pool making it darker. Lydia bent down to look closer, the smell of chlorine and concrete in her nose. The red dye drifting like it was ink.

It didn't concern her that red should not be in a pool, but her curiosity was telling her find out where it was coming from. The entire time, her ears were screaming from the whispers. There was nothing else she could hear. Turning towards the edge of the pool beside where she stood, she saw more red. Thick and brighter than it was in the water. It was dripping into the water, flowing down over the concrete to inch over the plaster and into the cool liquid. She followed the red liquid, up the concrete to the chair next nearby. It was the lifeguard chair, standing tall overhead. She saw the scarlet dripping onto the concrete in dots and the webbing of it criss-cross and flow over the white plastic legs. 

She felt that urge grow, like a balloon ready to burst. She didn't even realized she was sucking in a breath. Lydia saw nothing else but the dark red as it crept up higher onto the seat. The sight above her making her eyes go wide into saucers.

The horrible, red sight of another body. A man with dark hair, unseeing eyes, and blood running out of his mouth and a large hole in his chest. She couldn’t help it, she couldn’t prevent it if she wanted. The whispers ceasing in an instant. The breath she didn't realize she took was not aching in her chest. That urge full blown, it was either release it or bite off her tongue. She did the only thing that seemed...logical, almost instinctual. 

She screamed.

Long and hard, she wailed. It lasted only a few seconds, but they felt longer. Winded and drained, she felt the tears in her eyes. Her body was shaking, whether from the sight or the force of the scream, she didn't know. Pulling her phone from her robe pocket, she called a number. Not bothering to look at the name. It was the only name she could think of at the moment.

He answered on the first ring. "Hello?"

She let out a shaking breath, tears now rolling down her cheeks freely. "Stiles." Ignoring her name from his side, she continued, "I need your help."

 

* * * * * * *

A few days passed after what happened with Lydia. He was still running through that night trying to understand what happened. When Jackson had come to pick her up, she was shaken. Stiles had found her a the local community pool next to YMCA. She looked nearly catatonic, but when he crept closer to her, calling out her name she rushed over to him, wrapping her arms around him.

She had tear streaks down her cheeks and her skin felt cold. She was in her pajamas and a fuzzy robe. It wasn't cold outside, but apparently it did nothing for her skin or the shaking. He didn’t understand what was going on until he looked around and found the two bodies one on the lifeguard seat, the other in the pool. Blood dripping down the pale skin, and running further down over the seat and onto the concrete. Even the pool was getting a taste of the scarlet liquid.

Stiles was so surprised by the seen that he too stopped and stared for a moment before returning to consoling the strawberry blonde in his arms. He didn't flinch away from her touch, which was comforting in a way, but it did nothing to erase the gruesome sight before them. Danny stayed behind at his Jeep, a little ways down the street, not wanting to get out to jostle Lydia further by having too many people around her. 

It took a good ten minutes to get her to calm down enough to talk to him. She told him what happened and how she had next to no memory of getting there or why she was there. She just felt like it was fugue state, heading somewhere just to be heading somewhere, conscious of what was around her, but never aware of it. She never expected this. She mentioned this pull, drive to follow something, but couldn't tell what. 

Stiles had called his dad, telling him that he and Lydia had been out, and found the bodies when they noticed the guy in the seat from the street. 

Obviously he couldn’t tell his dad the truth. He would worry about the details later. Right now he was worried about the trembling girl next to him, her eyes looking back and forth between the ground and the bodies. Stiles had wanted to ask her more questions, but right then she looked like she wasn’t willing to speak. After giving a statement to a deputy that arrived with his dad, Noah sent them both away. The paramedics coming as Stiles was talking to the deputy.

Stiles took Lydia’s phone to send a message to Jackson. He figured the boy wouldn't answer if it was him calling, not to mention he didn't have Jackson's number.

The jock had arrived in a matter of minutes. His silver Porsche faintly glowing in early morning light. As they had waited, the sun was breaking over the horizon. Now making it a new day and the sky yellow and blue. At the sight of his girlfriend sitting on the curb stunned into silence, he rushed over to her and wrapped an arm around her, glaring daggers at Stiles like it had been all his fault. 

Stiles explained as best he could at what happened but even he didn’t have the whole story. So he gave only what he could. Jackson looked like he didn’t want to believe Stiles and frankly Stiles couldn’t care. He was tired and it was early morning. He wanted to head back to bed. After being up before dawn to get to Deaton’s he didn’t want to stay up any later than he had to.

He didn’t miss the faint murmur from Jackson as the boy gave him a funny look from behind his lashes. “Why does he smell like Danny?”

He was clearly speaking to Lydia, but she was too busy lost in her own mind to notice. Stiles had taken that as he moment to leave. He and Danny drove off a few moments later, Stiles telling him everything. Since that night, Stiles hadn't heard anything from Lydia or Jackson. He didn't expect to hear anything from Jackson, but he did think Lydia would try and make contact. She was the one to call him when she could have called Jackson.

That night, he didn't think about what he would find when she called. He just left, hurrying out of Deaton's with Danny in tow. So it was safe to say he never expected two bodies. His dad had let a few things slip that one had seemingly drowned, while the other might have been impaled by something large. Either way, his dad labeled them as murders. It was too much of a coincidence that two bodies would be found in the exact same area, in different manners. Stiles supposed he was right. It made him feel uneasy about the possibility that someone in town was a killer. All evidence suggested it was not the infamous Alpha pack. Somehow Stiles expected they would leave more claw marks, maybe some throat tearing out with teeth, and a lot more blood.

After they left that night, they went back to his house, Danny updating Deaton on the phone as they drove. Upon getting into the house, they crashed. Stiles fell onto his bed, curling up around a pillow, while Danny laid on the floor, using one of the pillows Stiles offered him. Luna laid next to Danny, her fluffy form nuzzled up against his side.

Days turned into weeks, with still no word about potential suspects. There was no word from Lydia after that, which Stiles chose to not feel worried about, more out of her having Jackson to comfort her, which meant Stiles was able to get lost into his own devices, in his own routine. And most of that time was spent practicing. As it turns out, he learned a lot from Deaton. The man had books, quite a few interesting ones. Ranging from spells, sigils and runes, to herbs and plants, and languages. It took a couple days for Stiles to accept Deaton's offer to train him. He still didn't trust the man, but he couldn't pass up the opportunity to learn as much magic as he could.

At least that is what he told himself after the reading the same line for the twentieth time while he was at the clinic one afternoon. "Tell me again why I need to learn Latin and Sanskrit.” Stiles said whined frustration. “They are dead languages for a reason.”

"And that is?” Deaton asked as he was fingering through a checklist of items he ordered, both for his actual clinic work and his magical stock.

"No body speaks them!”

Deaton suppresses a chuckle something Stiles was still getting used to. All these emotions this man had been displaying lately, it couldn’t be healthy after being a near statue for many years. 

“Actually these languages are in wide use today. Latin is the official language in Poland, where I believe your ancestry originates from, and Sanskrit may not be widely used, but it is another western language that pays homage to it as they have taken influence from it for centuries. Not to mention these languages are prominent in a magic user's arsenal.”

Stiles rolled his eyes. Studying magic was starting to become a chore, but one he found he was loving. Who knew?

Stiles also kept up his word to practice with Chris as well. He found it to be like a schedule to him. One where he would practice and spar with Chris in the morning and then go to Deaton’s or go home and read through the books Deaton gave him. Danny would come over daily, mostly right after he came back from Deaton’s. Stiles wondered why Danny never came with him. He was sure Danny would get lost in some of the books the man had. Danny loved to read, so he thought he would jump at the idea of getting more books on magic. But then he figured, with how long Danny and Deaton have known each other, he might have already read them all. When he last asked about it, Danny shook his head and changed the subject.

Stiles still hadn't forgotten about that strange conversation they had at the clinic that night. He hadn't forgotten to ask Danny about his magic. Why Danny was so adamant to not tell him about what a Hedge Witch was. Which was one reason why Stiles kept an eye out for those terms when he was reading. He would give Danny some time to tell him, but Stiles would do research of his own.

Danny would often ask him why he wouldn’t go to the clinic in the mornings and get to spend all day practicing or learning. Stiles couldn’t tell him about his mornings with Chris. Not yet. He liked Danny, a lot, and he valued him as a good friend, but he knew what Danny would say. He would tell him to quit. 

Danny has done a lot for him, but it made Stiles feel worse about not saying anything. If Danny became angry with him, he didn’t know if he would be able to survive another person he trusted throwing him away like the past didn’t matter. He hated himself for thinking that. Danny wasn't like that, but he thought the same thing of Scott once. As much as he wanted to trust Danny was that information, he feared what the boy would say. He no doubt would tell Stiles he was being an idiot for still getting involved, for planning to fight or be prepared.

But was he not doing the same with his magic?

So he kept his combat training a secret. Over the weeks he has expanded to learn how to defend and block in various tactics. His speed improved along with his balance and strength. Slowly he became more confident in what his body was doing. 

Chris still put him through drills of cardio and strength training which sucked monumentally, but he found he was enjoying it. It helped to expel extra energy. His magic was growing with his knowledge. He found that he was able to expel more energy when he pushed his magic into his limbs, giving him extra strength. He was experimenting one day when he tried it, but it worked. Just a little push helped him do a few more push ups, punch the bag a little harder, steady his legs a little more when he felt like they were made of jelly after a day of learning to grapple and wrestle out of positions.

He still shied away from being touched. Each time Chris would touch him, gripping any part of his body to show him a new technique or counter move to get out of, he would flinch. Chris noticed it each time, but he never said anything. Stiles was thankful for that.

He had to remind himself a few times when it got too much, it was not Gerard or Grant touching him, it was Chris. It was Chris, who was not his psychotic father, who was helping him, teaching him, not hindering or hurting him. Often causing him to bite his lip, almost too hard at times. Still Chris never said anything, giving him time to calm down. But he was learning. With each new bruise and each painful memory he got when he was touched, he pushed on and hardened himself. After all he wouldn’t be able to improve and protect himself if he lost his nerve every time someone touched him.

A few times during the week they wouldn’t practice at the Argent house. Instead they would go to the Preserve off the town park away from the walking trail. This was when Allison was home. 

Stiles hadn’t seen her since that night at the beginning of summer. It was now the middle of their vacation and he still hadn’t seen her. He had no desire to. He bet he would see her first in some fashion before actually hearing any words from her lips being directed towards him anyway. He never asked about her although every now and then Chris would mention his daughter. Saying she was out with a friend-most likely meaning Scott, he thought-or she was getting along okay, since it was her first summer without her mother. 

Stiles felt for the girl, really he did. But he also wanted to shake her. Surely she must know about what her mother did. The woman tried to kill Scott! Then she killed herself after Derek bit her. That he found out from Gerard while he was being tortured, a smile on that man's face. It was disgusting, seeing how gleeful he was about the woman sacrificing her life because she didn't want to be the 'monster' she hunted. He was sorry that Allison had lost her mother, but honestly how much of a tender woman was she anyway. 

Either way, she was near the top of the list of people he didn't want to see right now. The list seemed to be growing the more he thought about it, but he didn’t care. 

It wasn’t like any of those people were knocking down his door, demanding to see him. Or blowing up his phone to talk to him. 

So he focused on himself. He focused on his training and practicing his magic. The more spells he practiced and executed, the more his Spark recognized his growth and went along with it. At least that is how Deaton expresses it. But there were consequences for his drive.

Deaton told him to be careful and not expand too much energy because if he pushed it too far, he could exhaust himself and cause fainting spells or even nosebleeds. Both have happened once already. He fainted after he successfully managed to shut the electricity off at the clinic for a few minutes and then turned it back on. He nearly wasn't able to, but he managed it. It just made him faint after he reached to restart the electrical current back through the building. He made a few bulbs burst in the back, at the force he made the current return, but he still did it. Deaton strictly sent him home after he awoke, telling him to go rest and no more magic for the day.

The time his nose bled was when he and Danny were in the Preserve and he worked his magic to turn the dirt into rock then reform it into mud where it swallowed a boulder and made a small tree uproot. Stiles had a wide grin on his face, while Danny was worried, holding his top shirt out to Stiles to hold against his nose. he told him until he has rested and the bleeding has stopped, they were not doing more magic. Stiles thought those two were being such worry warts. 

Going back to his book at hand, he was trying to translate the Latin wording into English. It was a book on wards and protections, something Deaton wanted to start him on and practice with a soon as he understood it. Telling him it was a user's bread and butter and would prove fruitful to him.

From what he gathered from it so far, it was rather interesting, but also complex. There were different spells for protection, different ways to create wards, varying in all manners of power. Yet he was excited to start creating one. However the giant headache he had at trying to decipher a language that was as foreign to him as anyone preferring Hershey bars over Reese’s was not helping. 

Why couldn’t there be a spell or a way to read books in different languages without the hassle of going through basics first, he thought to himself. That thought sparked an idea in him. 

Maybe there was a way. He had been working on forming incantation and spells like Danny. Deaton and Danny walked him through on specific ways to word a spell, often giving the subject before the intent of desire. Something he made sure to remember. When he asked Deaton if it was possible to create a spell for anything, Deaton almost went a shade lighter.

"No," the man said quickly.

"But-"

"No, Stiles," the mocha skinned man said, coming closer to him. His eyes bright with an emotion he couldn't pinpoint. Was it fear? "Under no circumstances should you ever create a spell."

"Why," he asked. "So long as it follows the rules of an incantation, it should work, right?"

Deaton shook his head. "Theoretically, yes. But it doesn't. It never does. Believe me when I say that you are not first person to have asked that question and definitely wouldn't be the first to try it and something go wrong."

"What do you mean?"

"Magic is made possible by one's Spark, you know this." Deaton began, sitting down in the chair beside Stiles, his hands in his lap, eyes dark in thought. "Magic can only be done if one possesses the ability to mold that Spark into a source to call upon. An incantation or spell, is magic already. It is magic that was created with an intent. Words that have magic in them, created with it for a sole purpose."

"Okay," Stiles said, slowly trying to grasp what Deaton was saying. "So why can't another spell be created?"

"Because it is dangerous," Deaton stressed. "It is not for the lack of trying that magic user's have attempted this. If a spell is not known in books or in history at all, one could put as much intent and magic into those words as possible and it still would do nothing. People have died because they thought they could make a spell, underestimating the power it takes to create full fledged words to make it real. Even what we consider simple spells require large amounts of magic. A few simple words could drain you dry where it could take weeks for your magic to return or kill you on the spot from the sheer force of the power you are trying to create."

"So it is impossible to tell how much magic is needed to create a spell and even more impossible to execute it properly," Stiles said in understanding. "You cannot create something without giving something in return."

Deaton nodded solemnly. "Spells are magic already, your spark is just a means to guide it to your intent."

Stiles was silent for a few moment. He didn't expect that. It was strange to think that with magic, you could do almost anything with enough power, but there were still limitations. There were ground rules for everyone, rules that can never be broken without consequence. Yet it made him wonder how any spells were made at all if people didn't try to create them in the first place. Trial and error was natural in life, but if it meant losing your life, then what happens?

Stiles nodded his head when Deaton asked him to promise to not attempt what other have. It was too dangerous, even for magicians with years and years of experience. Stiles returned to his book, slowly attempting to learn Latin the long way. At tedious as it was, he supposed it was the best way.

I guess magic is not quite what it seems, he thought to himself.

 

* * * * * * *

He was running again. 

Trees and shrubbery passing in his haste to get to wherever. He has no idea how he had gotten back into the woods only that he had to run. He was being chased, that much he knew about. He could hear the laughter behind him. Deep and menacing, like a cackle drifting out to him. He could hear gunshots too.

He ducked and dodged over the various plant life and went around boulders as he ran. His breathing running ragged and his heart pounding in his chest so hard he could feel it pulse in his arms and ears. 

“Mieczyslaw.”

He heard in the air. A chillingly sharp voice carrying his real name out to him as he pushed harder. He knew this was a nightmare, just like last time. At least he hoped so. He didn’t want this to be real.

His magic swirling inside him ready to answer to his call. He used his magic, waving his hands behind him, making branches from trees twist to warp themselves around to shield behind him.  Another shot cracked through the air, a sizzling sound running right past his side and into the trunk of a tree he passed. 

“Stiles,” a deep sing song voice yelled behind him. 

He recognized that voice. He recognized the teasing monotone and the wolfish smile it would be coming from. ”Not again.”

He pushes his magic into his legs, making him run faster. He felt his skin sting from the branches and leaves that cut into him as he rushed by, but he paid it no mind. He couldn’t stop, not until he made it to town or wherever he could where people were. If this was a dream, he still would not stand still and wait for who he feared to come gut him. Fuck that!

He didn’t know if he was running further into the Preserve or heading towards town or any kind of civilization. He pushed himself further, his lungs burning and a side stitch was making him wheeze. 

He didn’t register the thundering crack before he felt the sharp pain in his leg. He stumbled a few steps, looking down to see blood rolling down his leg. His jeans soaking in blood with each wobbly step.

His thigh had a hole in it the size of his index finger nail. It hurt like hell. He gasped in pain, gritting his teeth to keep from yelling out. 

He looked behind him to see how close his pursuer was, hoping that they weren’t nice close. It wasn’t until he heard another crack that he turned his head back around in time to see a large branch fall near his head. Arching his body out of the way, he fell backwards. 

The thump of the wood meeting ground felt like a vibration running up his torso. His breath rushed out of him as he fell to the ground, hitting the ground hard. Dirt shot up and wafted around in the air before falling back down again. The smaller branches scraped and caught at his pants, nearly pinning him to the ground. He rolled, trying to wiggle his way out from under it. Pulling himself up, he had to try and hurry, only he never got the chance.

Just then he was pushed off his feet by a hard impact to his side, forcing him up against a tree. He hit his head, making his vision go cloudy before he felt his back being pressed up against the rough bark.

"So good to see you again.”

The harsh, manic tone of the hunter said in his ear. Stiles could feel Grant's hot breath on his skin. The clammy warmth of his fingers on his face and neck as he held him in place. Even in his nightmares the man's eyes were alight with glee and malice. Stiles hoped, rather prayed this was a nightmare. The man was dead, he had to be. Stiles watched him die. He watched him burn and fall to the ground in a lump of charred flesh.

"I was hoping you would come back to play," Grant said, running a hand down his neck and over his shoulder.

Stiles found the nausea in his throat. Biting the inside of his cheeks for a moment before hissing out, "Get off of me."

That made Grant laugh. It was musical and joyful, twisted and gritty on it's after tones. It was also not the only laugh he heard. Gerard stepped out behind Grant, seeming to appear out of nowhere. A wolfish grin on his wrinkled face. His eyes sparkling with the same glint in Grant's that made dread seeped into Stiles' bones. He was carrying a gun in his hand, the end smoking just a little. No doubt he was  the one firing bullets at him. Grant was more in favor of sharp objects.

"Well, if it isn't the boy who runs with wolves. Or rather used to run with them." Gerard's grinned widened at Stiles' glare. "I don't suppose Derek liked having a human in his little club."

"Fuck you," Stiles spat.

That earned him a punch in his shot thigh from the old man. That sent a fiery wave of pain up his leg and into his torso. He could just barely keep himself from crying out, but a little whimper did escape his lips. The sound make Grant coo at him, rubbing at the skin of his throat and lower just under the collar of his shirt. He flinched away from the touch, pressing himself back against the tree as much as he could, hoping to get just a little more distance from the man.

"Don't be like that," Grant whined. "I only want to have some fun."

Stiles nearly gagged. His skin felt like it stung everywhere Grant's fingers touched and trailed. 

"Get away from me," he said to Grant, who only smiled bigger.

The man looked at him up and down, like he was something to eat. Only he moved back a step. It caught Stiles off guard for a second before he remembered who he was dealing with. The man only smiled, not moving more than step from him, keeping his hold on Stiles' shoulder. When he stepped back Stiles saw a flashed on blonde hair and dark skin.

Erica and Boyd standing hand in hand beside Gerard. Both looks of accusation and hurt on their faces. Stiles could feel his breath hitch in his throat at the sight of them. Even now he wanted to blast Grant away with his magic and run over to them, but something held him in place. It wasn't Grant's hold on him, but the fact they were standing so close to Gerard. So close to the man who held them prisoner and tortured them for over a day. They looked at him with cold eyes and it made a chill run through him. 

"Guys," he found himself saying.

"How could you Stiles," Erica said, her voice thick with hurt.

"What-"

"You left us," Boyd said, his with anger. His eyes flashed yellow. 

"No," Stiles said shaking his head. Almost coming off of the tree to get to them only to be held back by Grant. "I tried. I tried to find you, I still am...or was." Stiles was losing grips on whether this was a dream or not. He feared this moment. He feared seeing Erica and Boyd again. Despite all that he has done, all that he has learned, he still hadn't been able to find them. No matter how many excerpts on the Internet he read on tracking spells, nothing fit. Nothing made sense or proved beneficial. Danny didn't have any spells for tracking and he never practiced one. He hadn't been able to ask Deaton yet. In truth, he had been distracted.

He could feel the guilt welling up inside him at the silent admission. Yet it seemed Erica and Boyd already sensed it from him, looking at him with mixtures of sadness and betrayal. 

"I'm trying," he said, his voice becoming heavy.

"No you are not," Boyd yelled. "You are failing. You left us there to rot and when you heard we were released, you saw your opportunity to forget about it. Forget about us."

Stiles shook his head. "That is not true."

"You didn't protect us." Erica said venomously. "You couldn't even protect yourself."

Their words stung. They were true. He had failed them. That night was a constant in his life anymore. Always it fought it's way to the surface, making him remember in detail. His scars ran deep at what he witnessed and what he went through. No matter how hard he resisted or fought, he still was a victim. He was helpless and powerless to stop it. He was weak. 

He couldn't help the two beta's in front of him. The ones he thought he could be real friends with. He wanted to protect them then, help them, and he failed. Sure he had gotten free later, but unknowingly how by him then and since that time, he had not gone out looking for them. He had not exhausted every bit of resources and power he had at his disposal to find them.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, feeling the tears burn in his eyes. "I'm so sorry."

"You failed us and now," Erica said, coming closer to him slowly, Grant stepping away with an evil grin on his lips. "Now you are going to get what you deserve."

He barely saw her nails grow longer, sharpening as her claws came free. He didn't have time to react as she moved fast as a striking snake, her hands moving fast to sink her claws into his gut. He felt them pierce into him, deep inside him. He could feel his stomach clench around her fingers, his blood flow over the sharp points of the nails. His eyes went wide in horror as he stared at her yellow eyes, a snarl ripping from her throat.

On instinct, he reached for his magic, feeling it surge like a tidal wave up and out. He shot it out of his body at a force he didn't know he had. He knocked Erica back into Boyd, throwing Grant and Gerard off their feet with them. A shot came from the gun Gerard clutched as his finger unintentionally pulled on the trigger. The bullet slicing through the open air towards the sky. 

In a quick second, the bodies of the people before him seemed to swirl and distort, darkening and twisting into shadows. He stared in horror as they seemed to grow and then mold into one another. Rising upright, they formed a silhouette, no longer separate beings anymore. Gerard and Grant now gone, and Erica and Boyd disappearing with them as they all formed something else.

It was a black figured, cloaked in darkness and black. A large hood over it's head and covering it's face. It was easily a foot taller than Stiles. He couldn't make out any other details about it. The air around him seemed to chill a bit, but it also held a current around it. It tickled his skin and raise the hairs on his arms and neck. As he watched the creature (or person?) form, two crystal blue eyes glowed from the dark crevice beneath the hood. It made the breath rush from his lungs and the blood run cold in his body at the sight. His magic seemed to coil in close inside him, sensing to warm him, protect him.

”Who are you,” Stiles shouted at the thing. “What do you want! What have you done with my friends?"

”I want my prize, Mieczyslaw."

The voice, that voice was familiar. It was the same voice he heard before. The one who knew obviously knew his real name. "You," he exclaimed.

He heard a light laughter, like a whisper on the wind, echoing in his ears.

Then Stiles started to panic. His magic rising so quickly to the surface that it was overwhelming. The images of his past playing through in front of him like a motion picture. The night in the Argent basement, the faces of the hunter's, Gerard and Grant. The tear and pain filled faces of Erica and Boyd.  He vaguely could hear a loud howl or like a bark but he couldn’t focus on it. All he saw were the faces he wished he would stop seeing. Gerard, the hunters. All the while the hooded figure keeping it's cold eyes on him. If Stiles could guess, he could almost feel the smiled on the thing's face.

He watched in horror as Grant seemed to step out from behind the figure, coming closer to him with a large knife in his hand. A smirk on his face and the blade gleaming in the soft light of the foggy day. Stiles couldn't move, blood gushing from his leg and stomach, the tree his only support. All he could do was watch, his magic itching break from under his skin, seeking to answer to his fears and emotions to protect him.

Just as Grant started to swipe the knife down from his shoulder to his wrist, he felt a sharp pain over his forearm that didn’t feel like the blade. 

It felt like a piercing vice. He felt hot air on his arm, brushing again the fine hairs. When the vice started to shake, the pain sinking deeper into his arm, he screamed. 

"See you soon," the chilling, unnatural voice said as his vision left the forest around him.

He jerked awake in his room, his left arm throbbing, a breathy scream leaving his lips before he reigned it back in. He immediately saw some clothes and various other items in his room in mid-air before falling to the floor in clatters, too loud in the silent house. When he looked down he saw Luna stepping away from him, whining pathetically. Blood was slowly running down his arm and covered the white fur around her muzzle just a little. 

He didn't have to think about what happened. He supposed he should be angry, but he wasn’t. He was relieved.

Luna woke him up. He was having another strange nightmare and she woke him up. Her whining and whimpering as he brown eyes went from his face to the bleeding arm hanging over the edge of his bed was nearly enough to break his heart. 

“Hey it’s okay. I’m alright girl,” he said reaching out slowly to pat her head, swallowing back the large lump in his throat. He must have been screaming or at least talking in his sleep. His mouth felt dry. She lowered her head in submission or maybe guilt, he couldn’t tell. It took a moment for her to raise her head again. She licked his hand but continued to whine. “I’m okay. Good girl, you did good. Thank you for waking me up.”

He pulled himself up, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed to the floor. Taking deep lungfuls of air, trying to shake the images of the vivid dream from his mind. He looked down at himself, expecting to see blood on his clothes or a bullet hole in his leg. There was nothing. What he did have was a headache and small bump on his the right side of his head as he rubbed his temples. It didn't go unnoticed to him that that was the side his head hit when Grant shoved him into the tree.

God, what was happening to him? Dream were never like this. Or at least his weren't. He has always had nightmares he could remember in detail, but not ones that resulted in bruises or bumps. He controlled his breathing, trying to steady his heart which hammered in his chest. He was sweating, his shirt damp and clinging to his back. Luna seemed to take his upright position as invitation to come closer and lay her head on his lap. She still whined but it wasn’t as loud as it had been. He took comfort from her closeness, not realizing how much he needed it until now. 

The silence of the house told him his dad was still not home, most likely working a double. He counted his blessings that his father wasn’t home. Who knows what he would have seen if he came in his room, with Luna whining or barking, and then biting his arm, forcing him out of his nightmare and now bleeding from his arm. Same thing for Danny. Danny was going to come over tomorrow, but last night he had to help his grandmother close up shop for the night, so he was going to stay there with her.

Looking down at his injured arm, the scarlet liquid, seeping from the puncture marks, he supposed he should take of that. He pushed his magic into his skin, muttering under his breath as he worked a rather useful healing spell he had learned recently. It was the same healing spell Danny used that night to help heal him before Deaton came. Helping to slow blood flow and ease the pain, and take away inflammation and deeper tissue bruising. Danny admitted he didn’t have the power to do more than that, which made him feel guilty. Stiles still told him how grateful he was for it anyway. He also asked Danny to teach him the spell, teach him how to heal like he did that night, which Danny agreed to with enthusiasm. 

After he had learned the spell, he mentioned it to Deaton. Deaton told him to be careful when healing. Telling him that it takes more energy to heal than it does to cast other spells. Deaton had told him his magic will already start healing his body no matter what. It would know when he was hurt, acting on it’s own to correct it. It is a self defense mechanism, his Spark wanting to not only protect him but also itself. Without Stiles, his magic would disappear.

When Stiles asked if it was like that for all magic users, Deaton gave a cryptic answer. Saying, it depended on that user. Sometimes it depended on how strong their magic was. Other times how severe the injuries. Stiles didn’t know what to do with that. Was Deaton telling him his magic was strong?

Either way, he needed his magic to heal him tonight before he gave his dad a heart attack and probbly put Luna down. Stiles couldn’t let that happen. 

So he healed the bite mark, making it so he was just red marks on his arm, letting his Spark take care of the rest. He went to the bathroom, going to use the cream he still had from Deaton. After washing off the blood, he applied the cream rubbing into the skin liberally.

He found himself thinking about the nightmare. The faces of Gerard and Grant springing to life in front of him. Of Erica and Boyd, looking at him with such disgust and betrayal. It was almost reminiscent of Derek's look that night. It looked and felt just as real. 

But it couldn’t be. Grant was dead. Gerard was somewhere, but he wasn’t here. He wasn’t in Beacon Hills. Erica and Boyd was still missing, waiting for them, for the pack and Stiles to find them. That’s all it was, just a nightmare. The ghosts of the faces that haunted him. The words they said to him, were much the same. His fears playing out in his head.

Then there was the hooded figure. The one with pale, glowing blue eyes. He didn’t know what that was or even who it was. When it spoke, it’s voice was icy and menacing. Deadly. It was like a million spiders crawling over his skin, sending chills up and down his body. Whatever it was, that thing was was playing with him in his dream. He could tell it was. It was enjoying itself, watching as Gerard and Grant tormented him, as Erica impaled him on his claws. What was that thing?

More importantly, what did it mean?

It’s final words were dancing in Stiles brain. It made him uneasy and his insides flip. 

Did it mean that person, that thing, whatever it was coming to Beacon Hills? Was it coming here? For him? Was it coming for something else?

He didn’t like that thought. Not for a moment. What if it came here to hurt him? Or worse, hurt his dad, or Danny. Anyone he knows. He didn’t worry about the pack, they could protect themselves. However, with the threat of the Alpha pack closing in, two betas missing, and lack of experience on most of their parts,  he was starting to worry.

A part of him didn’t want to worry or give them a second thought about their well being when they obviously didn’t care about his. He wasn’t pack anyways, so why she he care.

Yet he couldn’t help it. Call it a fatal flaw in his character. He just cared to much.

His mind went back to the wards. Maybe there was a way for him to protect the town. Maybe there was a way to protect everyone from this...thing. If not this threat then maybe another one.

There had to be a way to shield the town and not just a person or an object. Mind made up, he ran back to his room. Shaking off the last it of fear his nightmare gave him. Picking up the book on wards and protections, he started to think. If there was ever a time to make a spell to understand another language, it was now. Drifting over to his notes and a book on languages for incantation, he started to write. Taking notes and hints on what he needed to make a spell. It may not work, but he had to try. He knew what Deaton told him, how dangerous it was. But with his nightmare, fresh in his mind, now mixing with the images of Gerard and Grant's devilish smiles, the last look of Erica and Boyd's grimaces of pain and pleading eyes, fueling him, he couldn't help it.

Screw the consequences. If he felt like he was being drained of his magic then he would stop. He was always too curious for his own good, so why stop now. He had to try something, anything after the nightmare. He didn't have time to learn a new language in order to do that. He had to get to it now. He shook off any exhaustion to find a way. Luna laid on the floor nearby, her brown eyes on him as he worked through the night. If his dad came home from work while he was still reading through the books and taking notes, slowly trying to word out a spell, he paid it no mind. He needed to focus. He had work to do. 

He still had to find the two betas, but he first had to make sure they had a home to return to. He had to find a way to protect this town. Protect his home.

Chapter Text

Oh this is such a bad idea, he thought. 

Stiles sat on the floor of his silent house, a circle of books and papers around him as he stared. Luna was laying on his bed, half dozing and half keeping an eye on him. She stayed with him all night, letting him work as she remained a silent companion. He had been working all night and into the morning. His dad had come in and gone to bed, never bothering him. It was now closing in on late morning and he was was exhausted, but he still felt energy running through his body and his mind was running a mile a minute. Even if he tried to sleep now, his mind would not let him. Nor did he want to sleep anyway.

After Luna woke him up last night, he couldn't shake the gut wrenching feeling of guilt he felt at seeing Erica and Boyd again, even in his dreams. The guilt that sprang back into him at seeing their faces, hearing their words, feeling their anger and hatred towards him. He did leave them. He abandoned them that night. He never returned to help them after the Jackson fiasco. He even temporarily forgot about them, being sidetracked with his lessons on magic and self-defense. He had forgotten why he had asked for Danny's help in teaching him magic in the first place. 

How could he do that?

Maybe he wasn't in the wrong for being preoccupied or trying to better himself so he could help them, but it wasn't like he was actively looking for ways to find them either. When was the last time he tried researching a tracking spell. He had the internet, he had some of Deaton's books now. He was still the son of the Sheriff. When did he forget to help find his friends?

Well now, he was going to correct that. After he completed this spell he worked so hard for hours trying to build, he was going to read as many of Deaton's books as he could. No matter what language they were in. If the spell worked that is. 

He looked at his hopefully completed spell. A small bit of pride filling him but quickly pushed down by the fear. He knew he shouldn’t be doing this. He was warned against it. Of course did that mean he was going to listen to said warning? Not if his boundless curiosity had anything to say about it. So he swallowed around his suddenly dry throat and sat crossed legged on the floor, holding the spell he wrote down on his lap.

He prayed this would work. So much was riding on it. Maybe it was taking the easy way out, but he didn't have time. Time was being ticked down with every passing minute and what he feared most was that Erica and Boyd were out of time. This summer was already halfway through, no word or sight of them, and the last time he had seen them, they were bloody, sweaty, and scared. No, he needed to return to his original objective. He needed to find them, get them home. Then maybe, he could try and tell them, convince them, that he didn't leave them.

He had done as much research as he could on forming the spell. Carefully choosing the words, pulling from other spells he read in some of Deaton's book. He studied the wording of other spells, even ones in other languages. He tried to get a sense of how common word placement and contexts were used in them. All the while translating them into his own spell. He wrote his creation in Latin, being an old language, and a powerful one at that. It helped make it easier to reword if needed and organize to the old language's rules. It was safe to say that it was not easy and Stiles had a headache that started somewhere around the first paragraph he read the night before. It was also a good thing someone created Google Translate. Right now it was his new best friend.

Looking at the chaos of his room and then back to his completed spell. Luna still hadn't moved, but her eyes were wide open, her pink tongue hanging from her mouth as she watched him. Well, now was a good a time as any.

Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes. He didn't have to look at his paper, having memorized each word over the hours he spent writing them. He had to focus, concentrate on his magic and the wording. Slowly he pulled from his magic. The warmth in his chest expanding as he willed it to go further. When he spoke, he pushed his magic into his voice, hoping it was transferring into his words. He was a bit unsteady in his wording, mostly trying to feel if his magic was running from his body too quickly or that he was dying on the spot. He sent up a silent prayer that neither of those would happen.

After his first round of his spell, he tried again, pushing more magic into it, forcing his voice to be calmer and more commanding. That was what he had to do. He had to command his magic to make his intent known. So he pushed that into his words. Letting his emotions and mind fuel what he wanted his spell to do. He finished the spell the second time, then a third, and then a fourth. Each time pushing more and more magic into it. He felt his body heat up from the inside, the usual flame in his chest now a roaring inferno. 

Stiles couldn't be sure, but he thought he felt a breeze on his skin, but that might have been a trick of his mind. He had to focus. Once more, he ran through the spell. His voice more sure and commanding than ever before. Relaxing his hands and shoulders, he let the Latin words roll off his tongue like he knew them by heart his whole life. With each word he felt his magic pull from him. Like a release of pressure on his body. Each word, each syllable he felt lighter, the heat in his body leaving him in chunks. When he completed the last word, he pushed further, this time expelling his magic as best he could by pure desire alone.

He wanted this, he wanted to do this. Not for him, but for his friends. 

With that he was done and he felt lightheaded even before he opened his eyes. Actually that was wrong, he felt dizzy before, now he felt faint. The last thing he saw before he collapsed were the pile of books and the black inked words all blurring together into nothingness.

When he woke up again, just barely escaping the outskirts of a nightmare, the sun was orange on the horizon behind the trees of the Preserve. He heard nothing except birds outside and the slight chirp of a few crickets, but nothing else. Opening his eyes further, he found Luna half laying on top of him, the other half on the books. Obviously she had come down from the bed at some point to be closer to him. He had a headache that sprang to full blown pain when he opened his eyes, radiating all around his head.

Groaning in pain, he heard Luna's soft whine, feeling her wet nose nuzzle against the skin of his arm. He pushed himself up to a near leaning position, ignoring the ache in his cheek at sleep on the edge of a couple books below his face. His head pulsing in time with his heart. His skin felt heated, but other than that, he was still breathing. So he would count that as a win. But did the spell work?

He gingerly reached for the closest book he could get, the one he recognized as the leather bound book that was written in Spanish. Turning to a random page, he began to take notice of the words. He had to wait a moment for his vision to go back to normal, before he could see them clearly.

"The magic user will be unable to reverse the effects within 24 hours, until...," Stiles stopped. He felt his eyes go wide as he realized what he said. Thinking he made it up he flipped to another page. "This magic works best when combined with a meaningful object to...." Stiles threw the book away before grabbing for another one, skimming it just barely to recognize Greek writing before opening it to a page. 

"To tap into an outside source, the user must push their magic into..." Stiles moved to another book copy, this one in Mandarin, "Use of mistletoe has various forms, but all can be for both poison and a cure. Holy shit!"

Stiles sat up quicker than he probably should have, his head making his vision swirl. It didn't deter him from cracking a big grin on his face that felt as splitting as it was no doubt goofy. He gaze locked on every book he could see with a title. Each one branded with their original language, each one he could read as clearly as if they were English. Ohmygod, this is amazing he kept saying to himself. He could feel his excitement radiate through his body. Luna picked up on it, her tail thumping against the ground as he sat on his heels. He couldn't believe his spell worked. He couldn't believe it actually, genuinely worked. He pinched himself a couple times, making sure he wasn't dreaming. The more he looked at the open pages of the books around him, the more their languages jumped out at him, his mind telling him what each word said.

It was mind boggling to say the least. Aside from the splitting headache and the flush of his skin he felt fine. He wanted to tell Danny and even Deaton. He wanted to share his joy, but he knew that would not be a good idea. He would be in serious trouble for it. Even still, he couldn't believe it worked. He had no idea how, but it did. He was now able to understand all languages he read. It was amazing.

But there would be time to celebrate later. He had a task to get done. So getting up from his floor rather unsteadily, he made slowly made his way to his bathroom. Taking a quick cold shower to help with his skin, he stepped out feel a little better. The cold helping to dampen his headache as well. He swallowed a couple pills of Advil before heading back out. He trotted downstairs, hearing the quiet of his creaking house, knowing his dad was still at work. He went to the kitchen to pop a mug of water into the microwave and pulling some chamomile tea from the cupboard overhead. After making his tea and mixing in a little honey, he went back up stairs, Luna walking about the house, no doubt getting some exercise after laying down with him all day. He carefully sat on his bed with the book on wards and protections in his lap. The Sanskrit text staring at him as he opened to chapter one. He sent a quick text to Danny noticing he had two missed ones, telling him he would see him tomorrow and that he was going to get some shut eye early. The was a lie, but still, he didn't want the guy to worry. He was in for a long night again, but at least he wouldn't have to do a ton of translating in the process. 

Taking in a sigh of relief, balancing his cup of tea in his hand, he started to read. Wanting to absorb as much knowledge as he could. 

 

* * * * * * *

Ordering his drink, he sat on a plushy faux leather chair close to the far window in the Starbucks shop in town. Stiles had woken up very early, nearly screaming himself awake from another nightmare. He was counting his blessings that he had stifled his scream into his pillow in time. He didn't want his dad barging in, asking him what was wrong. His dad didn't need to know he was having nightmares. It wasn't like he never had them before, he had them when he was young and his mom was sick. They got worse right after she died, but they eventually stopped with some time. He hadn't really had nightmares since, not really until he and Scott were pulled into the supernatural world around them. He wasn't going to spring any of his hot messes on his dad.

He woke up sweating and shaking, so to dispel the images lingering in his mind's eye, he started to gather up the books and papers from his floor and stack them on his desk. He had spent a good portion of the night reading about wards and protections. He felt pretty confident he could do it. Almost everything he read coincided with one another it was just mixing up a few details and executing it all a little differently. He wasn't finished with the book, but he read a lot of the important chapters, especially the ones about after effects and protection failures.

He had only gotten a few hours of sleep before he woke up. After he refused to go back to sleep, he resumed his reading. Taking notes on some things for future reference and then continuing. Eventually he heard his dad get up and head downstairs around  four in the morning before no doubt getting breakfast and a large travel mug of coffee, before heading out the door. Stiles took that moment to leave his room, grab a quick shower, and brush his teeth.

He took in his reflection. His light skin looking paler, the shadow and bags under his eyes evident. There was nothing he could do about that. He ran his hand through his drying hair a bit, applying a little gel. When did his hair get longer? Why did he not notice? Ignoring the redness and tired look in his eyes, he left the room. Heading downstairs to let Luna out for a few moments to do her business, grabbing a Pop-tart while he waited. When he allowed her back in, he grabbed his keys, pet her on the head, before closing the door behind him.

He wanted to get started right away on his wards. If they didn't work he would try again later, but he needed to try. So he sent a quick text to Danny, warning him that he would be over soon. A reply came back a few moments later, telling him to give him a half hour to wake up.

And that was how Stiles found himself in the local Starbucks, waiting for his drink and Danny's. Sitting within hearing distance of the will-call area, his phone loosely balancing in his hands, he knee bouncing away. He was getting jittery, what from the nightmare last night or the spell he created yesterday that worked which was still surreal to him, or maybe it was the anticipation of what he was aiming to do that morning, he couldn't say which of those it was. He sat thinking, going over everything in his head again and again on what he had read. Just to help pass the time awaiting for his drinks in the long line he had to endure, he pulled out his phone, looking up Spanish books or articles, seeing how much he could understand. Funny thing is that he could read all of it. It was as easy as the English language no matter how many times he stopped and started again thinking it was a trick of the eyes. 

His knee was still bouncing, his fingers tapping away as he waited. Yeah no one could accuse him of being tired, although his body might feel differently.

"You nervous you won’t get your drink or something,” a voice asked across from him. 

He looked up to see a boy his age, sitting in another leather chair, balancing a computer on his lap and and pen and notebook on the arm of the chair. The boy had lightly tanned skin, light brown hair and brilliant sapphire eyes. He had an eyebrow cocked at him, twirling the pen in his long fingers. 

“Uh...no, no, I just have a lot of energy this morning,” Stiles said a little awkwardly. 

The boy tilted his mouth down in consideration. “Coffee will only make it worse,” he said.

"Coffee is my life line,” Stiles said with wide eyes. “The world is brighter with coffee. Without it would crumble into anarchy.”

The boy chuckled putting his pen down on his pad before picking up his own cup of heated goodness. “I suppose I can’t argue.” 

Stiles watched him take a gulp, the movement of his throat muscles a little captivating before he realized what he was doing and returned his gaze to his phone. Where the hell did that come from?

”What’s your excuse for being up so early,” the boy asked him suddenly.

In surprise Stiles tried to think of an excuse. He couldn’t very well say he was meeting his friend to do some magic work. There was no other excuse. Except that he couldn’t sleep. His latest nightmare was one he couldn’t shake. Grant and Gerard were nothing new, but Erica and Boyd looking at him with such disdain, such anger. Then Erica digging her claws into his abdomen. 

He shook himself from the imagery not wanting to lose himself in the still fresh memory. The other boy was looking st him curiously, still waiting for a response.

Stile shrugged. “Couldn’t sleep. I’m meeting a friend in a bit.”

Technically it was the truth. The boy seemed to nod slowly before returning to his work. The boy looked familiar but he couldn’t be sure where he had seen him before. Maybe a class they might have shared or roaming the halls. Somewhere around town? He couldn’t be sure. 

He didn’t look to be older. He had a bit of stubble on his face, roaming over his jawline and cheeks, making him look edgier, older. So maybe he was the same age. 

“Well that’s a good way to start the day,” the boy said with a small smile. 

Stiles nodded. He noticed something black on the inside of his arm, reaching up towards his wrist as he moved to grab his drink again and take a sip. Stiles couldn’t tell what it was but it looked like some fancy cursive writing. Most likely a phrase. 

“Stiles?”

Stiles heard his name being called, moving to get up to get his drinks. When he got up he dropped his phone from his lap forgetting that it was not in his pocket. Turning back to get it, he didn’t have time to bend down before the boy leaned over to grab it for him, balancing his laptop in his hand as he moved.

Picking it up he handed it back to Stiles, a crooked smile on his face. 

“Stiles, huh?"

"Uh yeah, it’s a...uh...it’s a nickname.” Stiles was stumbling over his words. Why was he stumbling? This guy's eyes were so incredibly blue.

”So what’s your real name,” the boy question. 

Stiles huffed in amusement. “You wouldn’t be able to pronounce it if you knew.” 

“Okay,” he said with a looking down at the phone.

Stiles didn’t realize for a few beats that he and this boy were still holding onto either ends of his phone. Seeming to notice the same thing, the boy took his hand away, sitting back into his chair. Stiles put his phone back in his pocket, mumbling a thanks, as he got up and turned to go feeling more awkward than he had in a while. 

“See ya around Stiles,” he heard behind him. 

Turning to face the brunet he nodded. “Bye...uh?”

"Ryan.”

Stiles felt heat rise in his throat and cheeks. “Bye Ryan.”

Ryan smiled, his sapphire eyes as bright as his smile. Stiles turned to head out the door, forgetting for a moment that he had to push instead of pull the door. Feeling more embarrassed and genuinely confused Stiles took a deep breath of the outside air before heading back to his Jeep. 

For whatever reason his mind didn’t drift back to his nightmare that morning as he headed to Danny’s. He thought of other things. Mostly involving his magic, what he read quickly, and hoping that it would all work. If there was the occasional flash of sapphire eyes and light brown hair, he decided not the mention it to himself further.

Not yet anyway.  

 

* * * * * * *

Stiles and Danny were in the woods, heading out a good distance from the town just to help give them some privacy from prying eyes. Stiles had picked up a tired, disgruntled looking Danny from his grandmother's, holding a large coffee in his hand, which Danny took immediately and took a long swig. Danny had asked-more like whined-why they were out in the early morning when the sun was just barely over the horizon, when Stiles said that it was because he wanted to try something.

On the way into the Preserve towards the southern part of town, Danny kept sneaking glimpses to Stiles, which he ignored, trying to reel in on his excitement. When he parked on the side off the road into one of the many camping paths in the woods, they got out, Stiles heading into the woods before Danny had a chance to ask anymore questions. Danny looked surprised about Stiles wanting to come out into the woods, but he supposed he thought it was to practice some magic. The boy didn’t complain or ask although the looks he kept shooting Stiles as they walked were getting for more curious and questioning.

"Okay, wait up," Danny said, after about ten minutes of them walking. He caught up to Stiles, holding his cup in his hand, Stiles leaving his in the jeep. "What is going on? Why are we out here so early?"

"I wanted to try something," Stiles said nonchalantly.

"Uh huh, out in the woods, early in the morning." Danny said not feigning his sarcasm.

"Exactly," Stiles said with a grin.

Danny snorted. "Come on Stiles what are we doing out here?"

"I want to try my attempt at making some wards around the town." Stiles said quickly, not looking at his friend as they continued walking.

Danny was quiet for a moment, the twigs and leaves crinkling under their shoes before he spoke again. "And how would you know how to do that?"

"I read about them," Stiles said with a shrug. "In one of Deaton's books."

"So let me get this straight. You read about wards and protection spells and decided to give it a go on the town.”

Stiles said, “Yeah. If this works then maybe we can prevent anymore monsters from coming and making it into a war zone.”

 "Stiles, what you plan on doing is really strong magic," Danny said in warning. 

"I am aware, but I want to try," he said honestly. "What is the worst that can happen?

"Well that depends on how much magic you put into this. Wards can be powerful shields. Too little magic will make them useless to provide protection. Too much magic could cause the shields to not let anyone past them. Meaning you could trap everyone in town."

"Okay I get it," Stiles said, knowing the consequences. He read about them strenuously over the course of the night and refreshed it this morning. "I still want to try. Which is why I brought you. If it gets too much, then you can pull me away from it."

Danny nodded looking a little annoyed. "So you brought me along as a babysitter."

Stiles giggled stopping at tree of his choosing, one that was of decent size, but not overly huge. This should be a good distance away from the town border to prevent people from stumbling upon it and deep into the Preserve to provide amble distance between potential threats and the town. He pulled a switch blade hunting knife from his pocket. It was one that Chris had let him keep, or maybe it was one Stiles took and forgot to give back, however you look at it, he needed it at the moment. 

"I brought you along as a friend for support." Stiles said, flipping the blade out. Danny eyed it with arched brows. Stiles could see Danny's unease, his hand gripping the cup in his hand, broad shoulder tense. He understood why Danny was worried, but he needed to try this. He hadn't mentioned his nightmare, the one with creepy blue eyes again, but it didn't mean it wasn't a factor. Stiles still couldn't get that thing's last words out of his head. The worry he felt as bone chilling as the creature's voice was. Stiles just wanted to try this. It would help put some ease on his mind, knowing the town was protected in a way. If not protected, then maybe his wards could warn him of potential threats. "Look," he said softly to Danny who was still looking at the knife. "If you don't want me to do this, then okay, we can find another way. I just want to give it a shot."

Danny nodded after a moment, taking a deep breath before relaxing a bit. "Alright. If you are going to do this, then I know the best way to create a ward or protection is to use something meaningful."

Stiles nodded. "Something representing the user's desire."

Danny didn't seem surprised Stiles knew about the meaning. "Yeah."

"Like an object, a person, or even a symbol." Stiles said, mostly to himself as he turned towards the tree he chose. 

"The stronger the meaning, the stronger the ward will be." Danny had said, although Stiles didn't really hear him. He was busy focusing, sensing his magic pooling inside him, ready and waiting for him to use.

So Stiles took the knife in hand, twisting to the blade was pointing at the tree and started to get to work. Slowly he carved what he visualized into the bark of the tree. Careful to not slip and cut himself or make an error in his work. Danny remained silent as he watched Stiles etch what he wanted into the wood. Stiles had already picked out what was meaningful to him a little while ago. He picked it out when he was reading about the different kinds of wards. The one he was doing was meant to protect the town. Keep out supernatural intruders who wished to do harm, at least that is what he was going for. If not that, then he hoped it would alarm him, let him know about the threat to the town so that he could answer it accordingly. He wouldn't let other people get hurt due to their ignorance of the supernatural.

As he worked, he poured everything he could into the carving. He muttered under his breath the spell that he learned, shoving his intent, desire, and wish into it. In the minutes it took him to finish his design, he felt his magic burn inside him, his Spark guiding it into his arms and in his fingers, pushing it all into the tree he carved in. Stepping back from the tree, feeling satisfied, he took in his masterpiece, well somewhat masterpiece. He could feel his magic in the tree, centered on the carving. It was small, but it was was big enough to be seen if you knew what to look for. Set against the gray and brown wood, was the ruin, the symbol he wanted to use to protect this town. 

"That’s a-.“ Danny began stepping up beside him to look in astonishment at the symbol.

"Trisklieon.” Stiles said turning his head to the side just a little to see the symbol in a different angle. 

“Celtic, right?” Danny asked still looking at the tree.

Stiles nodded, but said nothing more. He eyed the tree, feeling it radiate his magic from it's trunk. He felt proud of himself, but there was a time for that later. The trisklieon stood out light tan and green against the rest of the tree. He did some research a while ago on the symbol, learning of it’s origins and it’s meanings. Many things could be associated with it. It depends on each person, letting them decide what it means to them. 

“What made you choose this,” Danny said  giving a small smirk.

Stiles shrugged, trying to think of the best way to put it. “Each spiral represents something, the whole symbol means that it is constantly flowing, always with the potential to change, one thing flows into the next.”

Danny chuckled. “I am aware of it’s meaning. What I meant is why you chose the Hale pack symbol?”

Stiles stared at his friend with wide eyes. He could feel a small blush creeping into his cheeks before he turned his eyes away. He forgot how much Danny might know. The boy had known about the supernatural far longer than Stiles had. Of course he would know about the local werewolf pack, even before the Hale fire. Stiles didn't really have an answer to his question, well he had an answer, but maybe it wasn't a good one. He chose that symbol for a list of reasons. But then he could be accused of being biased.

Danny looked on in quiet resolution, letting Stiles work through his thoughts and emotions. Stiles still didn't answer his question, instead his mind raced passed it, voicing his insecurities instead.

“I know I probably shouldn’t use it,” he said, feeling his voice stutter just a bit as he thought of the pack, of what he no longer was a part of. “I have no right to. It is not my symbol, or technically it is not anyone's. No one can own the right to a ruin or symbol, not to mention the different meanings many can associate with them. I mean, I’m not pack anymore, not that I ever really was. I get why I am not part of the pack, I understand that I am not needed or wanted for obvious reasons. I just wanted a symbol that will be strong enough to protect this town, regardless of where I stand in the pack or not." Stiles realized he was rambling, something he hasn't done for a while. He closed his mouth quickly, looking at Danny sheepishly. The other boy regarded him with a small fond smile, but said nothing, letting him continue. "I just...I wanted it to mean something."

He finished indicating the trisklieon with a finger. He could feel his sadness rise in his chest, his magic awakening to soften it, to comfort him. He knew using the pack symbol was a bad idea. But he couldn’t help it. Even with all the ruins and symbols out there he could choose from, even with the ones that actually meant protection, this was the one to jump out at him every time.

“They are idiots you know,” Danny said quietly, bringing Stiles gaze back his. Sad amber eyes meeting honest dark brown ones. “They are idiots for doing that to you.”

Stiles looked down, feeling his chest constrict. No matter how much time has gone by, being kicked out of the pack or being asked to stay away since he wasn’t officially part of the pack, it still hurt. It stung in his chest and made his stomach roll. He never allowed himself to think about it for very long, knowing he would lose himself to his grief all over again. He cried enough that night, after it all happened, after he lost it before he could even gain it. 

He never was pack and he never would have the chance to be again. 

“Yeah, well,” he said clearing his throat, “I didn’t exactly make it easy for them. Being human, rambling constantly, always in the way. I suppose I had it coming.”

"Bullshit,” Danny said between his teeth.

Stiles shook his head. “No it’s okay. I can’t pretend I lost anything when I never had it to begin with.”

”You really expect me to believe that?” Danny asked his face contorted into sadness and anger.

”I was not ever pack. Not fully.” Stiles said with another shrug as if it was all okay. “Anyway, Derek made his choice. I could have fought harder, tried to make him see the truth, but I didn’t.”

”Derek should have known better,” Danny said harshly. “How could he believe you would do something like that?”

”Because it happened once already,” Stiles said turning to the other boy, feeling his own anger coming to the surface. He wasn’t angry at Danny’s persistence to defend his actions or to accuse Derek of his faults. He was angry at the whole situation. He knew Danny was right, that it wasn’t his fault, but he couldn’t help but not partially blame Derek either. “He trusted the wrong person and it cost him everything.” 

“That has nothing to do with you.”

“Maybe not,” Stiles said feeling his anger slide away, replaced by a sad acceptance. “But I understand why. I can’t blame him for that, for assuming the worst when he has already seen what that worst can do.”

"And where does that leave you?”

"I said I can’t blame him for being hurt, I never said I couldn’t blame him for not giving me a chance.”

"So why use that symbol when they don’t deserve it from you?” Danny said getting back to his original question.

“Because,” he began in a soft, reluctant voice, “despite everything, I still view the pack as protection. I still see them as what they are meant to be. I still see them as safe.”

Danny watched him for a moment, whether to gaige the truth in his words or to wonder about his sanity for still caring about the pack, he didn’t know. Either way a long moment passed before Danny sighed shaking his head a little. 

“Like I said, they don’t deserve you, even after all of this, you still work to protect them.”

”This isn’t for them,” Stiles said quickly to hide his rising blush. Danny just gave him a look that said he wasn’t buying it. “Okay it is not totally for them. This is for everyone. Why should anyone else suffer if I can do something about it? There are plenty of other people here that I care for and I don’t want to see any of them hurt.”

"You do not owe anyone anything," the Hawaiian said softly. 

"This isn't about owing something to someone," Stiles said, balancing the knife in his hand as he started to walk away, going to make another part of his wards. "This is about doing what I can to help. If it means people can remain blissfully ignorant to the dangers around them and we face the dark truths, then I will welcome that."

"Are you speaking for everyone," Danny asked, "or your father?"

"Both and you too?" Stiles said. At Danny's smirk and soft eyes, Stiles shrugged, still not breaking his walk. "What is a happy coincidence in you being here to help with that?"

"What indeed," Danny said with a small smile as they headed to their next destination.

 

* * * * * * *

Jackson hasn’t been this unsettled for a while. He couldn't remember when the last time was, but that was beside the point. Right now he was pacing back and forth, possibly creating a ware trail in the hardwood floor beneath him. He was keeping watch over Lydia, the girl sleeping softly on the couch in the next room. They were at Derek's place, the man finally living in something other than a run down, burnt shell of a building or in an abandoned train car, instead trading all of that in for a loft space on the outskirts of town in an industrial area. It was a large place, most of it an open floor plan. Except for this room that was just for storage use that Derek used for extra storage.

The man didn't have much in the way of taste and the building smells more like copper and concrete than anything else, but Jackson would take that over burnt wood and mildew any day. The room Lydia was in was small, mostly consisting of boxes and small futon, but it was enough for the purpose of having her pass out. He is worried about her. She hasn't been sleeping properly and ever since he found Lydia stunned into silence that night, she refused to acknowledge it. She wouldn't talk to him about it no matter how many times he asked. He didn't even want to think about what she was doing outside in the early morning in her pajama's and with Stilinski of all people.

Why the hell was he there to begin with? The story he told him when he arrived to pick up Lydia sounded so vague and had more holes in it than it should. However, it was more than he got from Lydia. He didn't know whether to believe the other boy or not. He remembered listening to him, not sensing a lie from his heart beat, so maybe it was true. But still why was he out so early in the morning and why did Lydia call him first. Jackson wash her boyfriend not Stilinski.

Maybe Jackson was being jealous or overprotective, but he couldn't shake the feeling that something was up. He wasn't in the loop of that something and it was starting to eat at him. Who knows maybe Stilinski was lying and was really good at it. It wasn't like the kid would have been much help anyway in uncovering the truth if he didn't know anything. He wasn't helpful on the Lacrosse field nor was he any help in finding Erica or Boyd. Hell, he promised he would contact Lydia with updates and tips on potential whereabouts and any leads. They haven't heard anything from him in over two weeks up until Jackson found him with a shaken Lydia. The last time he saw him before that was at his house when he proclaimed he would not help with the Alpha pack.

He wouldn't be much help anyway, Jackson thought to himself.

But still, he couldn't deny the boy had some good ideas. Yet there was something about him that day that Jackson found, unnerving. The way he spoke to him. Jackson had never heard him sound like that before. So detached and hauntingly cold. And his eyes just kept him grounded, piercing into him like daggers. It was like when Lydia gave him her pissed off look that told him to not argue or she would rip out his tongue. Only this, this seemed different. More compelling in a way. He had the same kind of look in his eyes when he picked Lydia up, but less compelling and more, dare he say it, authoritative. No, he would deny that to his grave.

Either way, the bench warmer wasn't going to help. After Derek came back from his mystery field trip that day, no one spoke of it since. Which didn't seem right to Jackson. Stilinski was pack, wasn't he? So why was he not here? Why did he refuse to help them with the Alpha pack when everyone kept insisting they ask him anyway. Even lately, his name had been thrown around. Isaac and Lydia both mentioning him a few times, asking on if they think Stiles might be able to help with a theory or running through past thoughts about where Stiles pinpointed a possible place to have a look. Each time his name was mentioned, Jackson could feel the weighty silence that would fall over the room, sometimes there would be no silence but someone would quickly move past the name altogether and keep talking. Derek would have little to say in the matter, and Peter, well he was a creeper wolf as always. Putting in his two cents when he felt like it was needed. No matter how much they worked or went over locations on the town and county maps, they came up with nothing. The little times they went to actually search, also met with fruitlessness. He practically had to beg Lydia to get some rest today while they were there, her irritability and exhaustion starting to make the rest of the pack walk on eggshells after she snapped at Isaac for eating a bag of Doritos too loudly.

Derek looked like he was trying to reign in his own annoyance, so Jackson had to  coax her into taking a small nap while they worked out where to look for Erica and Boyd next. He could feel everyone’s unease. The disappearance of the two betas and the threat of the Alpha pack looking over their heads. He felt at a loss of what to do and his wolf was pacing almost ever moment of each day, as antsy as him. He supposed it was a small blessing when they have not heard anything more from the Alpha pack since the beginning of summer, but it didn’t mean much when you put the stories about them into thought.

 He kept pacing much to Derek and Peter’s annoyance. Not that they mentioned it, aside from the huff and puff here and there. Jackson couldn’t sit still though. He would go crazy if he did. He kept monitoring Lydia from the other room, listening to her breathing and heartbeat. Luckily the door opened and in came Isaac, holding a few bags of groceries that no doubt was mostly junk food since Derek never really cooked. Surprisingly Peter did a few meals for them when they were there for late nights. Who would have thought?

Much to everyone’s relief was the promise of food when the boy came in, but it quickly turned to dismay when another scent followed him in. Scott McCall seemed to squeeze through the door, a look of nervousness all over his face. 

"What is he doing here," Derek growled, standing up from his seat at the small table near the kitchen.

Scott held up his hands, trying to ward off Derek's anger, but it was Peter who spoke. "I asked Isaac to pick him up."

"You did what," Derek asked turning to his uncle, his eyes flashing dangerously.

"Well dear nephew," Peter said with a sly smile, "given our current situation and limited man power, I thought we could use another set of hands, eyes, and ears."

Jackson walked over to Derek and Peter, Isaac already in the kitchen putting things away, apparently avoiding everyone's gaze. Jackson barely got a glimpse of any of the groceries, before Isaac was burying his head in the closet and cabinets. 

"What does he know about our situation," the Alpha asked tensely.

"Well I know that you're betas are still missing and that the Alpha pack is here because of you for starters," Scott said crossing his arms.

Derek growled menacingly, his claws just barely peaking through. Jackson had to step in front of him, blocking his view from the other werewolf to keep him from doing something. He wasn't one to like McCall, especially because of his plain clueless look on most situations, his whining on morality, not to mention his annoying infatuation with Allison. It was enough to make anyone want to knock him on his ass. Jackson looked over at Peter who arched an eyebrow at the other teen and then over to Isaac who has been mysteriously quiet since he came in the door.

"McCall in case you hadn't noticed, you are not exactly welcome here," Jackson said. "Mind the attitude."

Scott regarded the Lacrosse co-captain with an deadpanned look before looking over at Isaac who was now watching all of this with silent interest. "I am here because I want to help." When no one responded and Derek simply growled under his breath he quickly moved on. "I want to help find them. Their parents may not care, but we all do."

"Do you," Derek asked stepping around Jackson, his arms folded over his chest. "You expect me to believe that you care about my betas. Given how your moral compass has been spinning a lot lately."

"That is not...I just-." The kid broke off only to take a deep breath and start again. "I can help. I have been practicing with my senses and I'm sure Stiles has a some good ideas on-." Scott stopped again, seeming to look around the room, trying to find a familiar face. He didn't seem to notice that Derek had gone even more tense, his breathing stopping in his throat. Peter was flicked his eyes over to his nephew and then back down again, doing nothing else. Isaac went still for a moment, but he was as clueless as Scott. Isaac hadn't been there when Jackson and Lydia came back from his house that day, Lydia upset and with Stile's firm no in tow.

Jackson wasn't aware if anyone told Isaac about their conversation or Derek's apparent departure after they told him, but he thought Peter might have. Jackson sure hadn't. He barely spoke with the boy to begin with. Sure they practiced and sparred with each other, but that was mostly the furthest they had gone in terms of communication.

"Where is Stiles," Scott asked confused.

"Not here," Derek said tensely, looking away and turning towards the large wall sized window. Jackson couldn't tell what the man was thinking. Derek wasn't exactly one to share those details. Neither was he to be honest. Ever since the beginning of summer, after Jackson returned to being a werewolf, Jackson has noticed things about his Alpha. Originally Jackson didn't want anything to do with the pack, but he couldn't deny it's appealing pull. Or Derek. The man was broody and scowling most of the time, but mix that with his temper and you get a scary packaged Alpha.

"Look Derek I-," Scott began only to be cut off by a loud scream that echoed off the concrete and brick walls.

It was piercing and terrified. It was also long and loud. It made them all wince from the force as it bounced off the walls. At Lydia’s scream everyone came running with Jackson moving first, barely turning on his heel to run towards the back room. Derek was right behind Jackson. They all found the girl on the couching, sitting up, tears in her eyes with a blank stare. When Jackson sat next to her she tried to fight him away. He had to wrap his arms around her to keep her from hitting or scratching him with her manicured nails.

"Lydia, it's okay." He said, whispering into her hair. "Lydia wake up, it's me. You're okay."

When she started to calm down, her breathing was labored and her whimpers between breaths was enough to make Jackson want to whine with her. His wolf was still antsy, now howling at Lydia's panic. He had to take deep lungfuls of breath, inhaling her strawberry scent, to help calm himself before he started yelling at the now crowding room. Derek was standing just on this side of the room, looking as stunned and Jackson was. Just behind Derek was Peter, the man’s eyebrows raised to his hairline with Isaac and Scott in the doorway. Both with identical looks of worry and confusion. 

This wasn't the first nightmare Jackson has dealt with from her. She has woken up screaming a few times before. The first time it nearly made his wolf jump out of his skin. The second time it was just as unexpected, but it took less time for him to get over his shock than it did the first. Since then, when he has slept over or if she has, he was partially asleep, waiting for her to scream like she was being attacked. Most nights she would seem fine, but other times and growing more recent as the summer progressed, she would wake up with her breath in his throat or with a bellowing scream.

Jackson had never told Derek or the others about her nightmares. It was normal, he guessed. At least he thought it was. Lydia would hardly speak to him about them. Sometimes she would mention details. Gruesome one about blood, clawed hands and long teeth. That was to start with, other times it was about whispering voices, constantly berating her, hounding at her, making it inescapable for her to get away from. She also mentioned a tree a few times, but that didn't jump out at Jackson as important. He didn't know how to help her and she would shut down when he would mention them to her. Just like that night at the pool and the two dead bodies.

He did mention that to others. Not about how Lydia really came to be there, but about what Stiles said. He didn't want to bring up the other boy, but he felt like he had to. After all, he knew more than Jackson did and it wasn't like Lydia was giving him anything. At the mention of the two bodies, Derek went rigid and Peter arched an eyebrow. At the details and what Jackson observed before he took Lydia home, he didn't smell anything but blood, concrete, and chlorine. Neither of the older wolves seemed to like the new information, but it didn't sound like the Alpha pack.

"Lydia, shh, calm down," he said to her, letting her try and control her breathing and wake up fully. When she finally seemed to relax, her heart beat still fast, but slower, he loosened his grip on her. "What was it this time," he asked slowly.

He saw her flick her eyes to the others, then duck her head towards her chest like she was embarrassed. When Jackson looked at every face other than Lydia's, silently telling them to get out, they all back away rather slowly. Derek was the last to leave, his face a little constipated in a way. There was no door, but at least it gave them the semblance of privacy. When they were alone, he turned back to Lydia, her hands shaking just littlest bit, but he could see it. 

He grabbed one of her hands softly, holding it firmly and then giving a little squeeze, trying to get her to talk to him.

"Come on Lydia," he whispered. "Tell me what happened. It might help."

She didn't answer for a while. The only thing marking the time they spent sitting there was the sun passing in the sky and the sound of their heart beating. Lydia's was still a little faster than his, but it was slowly down as time went by. The voices and footfalls of the others in the other room, Jackson could hear, but he ignored them in favor of his girlfriend. When it seemed like she wasn't going to say anything, he was about to move away, going to go get her a drink of water or do something for her. She squeezed his hand, then took a shaky breath before speaking.

"I saw...amber eyes,” she said between breaths, tearing running down her cheeks. “I saw the tree.”

Jackson didn’t know what to make of that. He didn’t like the sound of those. Especially the tree part. He couldn’t help but ignore the eyes she mentioned. He didn’t know if he liked that part or if he hated it. She wasn’t dreaming of someone else was she?

No that wasn’t it. If she was dreaming of someone else, especially in that way, then why was she in tears and shaking. Was it a bad dream with someone else? Was there no consent going on? Bad touching? He was starting to get a mental image that did nothing for his rising anxiety, but he had to keep a level head. She was the one who was freaking out, what good would it do if he followed.

Yeah he was getting distracted. 

"What is it with you and dreaming up trees?" He wondered aloud. At her somewhat dark look he kept quiet, but gave her small smile, hoping to lighten her mood.

She shook her head though, her green eyes dark, and her perfect brows creased with worry. "It is not trees that I dream."

"What do you mean?"

"It is the same one. The same tree over and over again," she said a slight shiver running through her body that Jackson could feel. "Every time I close my eyes, I can see it. It is the same tree, large and wide. Old looking too."

"You saw it again this time," he asked gently.

She nodded then stammered over her next words, her lips quivering. "This time it was different. It was...leaking blood."

"Blood?"

She nodded again. "A lot of it, coming through the bark," she said.

It was safe to say that it was eerily calm after that. Lydia was strangely silent and twitchy, Jackson was keeping close to her, while the other's did there best to not bring up the conversation they all no doubt heard. It wouldn't do much good anyway. What good would it bring dwelling on dreams? At least that is what Jackson told himself. He stayed close to her, while she read swiped at her tablet, looking for missing person reports or sightings that may fit Erica and Boyd in the state area. Jackson saw Isaac and Scott sitting near each other on the far side of the room, away from Derek no doubt, with a Beacon Hills map in their laps. Jackson was surprised Scott was even still here, but he chose to stay quiet about it for now. Derek was over by the table, looking through various books that Jackson had no idea what they were. Peter was sitting on the stairs, another book in his hand. 

A few times Jackson caught Peter looking at them, or rather looking at Lydia. Maybe he expected her to start screaming and shaking again, he wasn't sure. Peter seemed to have a thoughtful, maybe curious look on his face. Jackson didn't like it so when he caught Peter's glance, he arched an eyebrow at him, pulling Lydia a little closer to him. Peter just smirked and rolled his eyes. Jackson huffed but didn't say anything else. 

If anyone continued to think about Lydia's dream while they worked, no one spared the chance of mentioning it.

 

* * * * * * *

When they were turning to head back to town after completing the last ward, Stiles was a little exhausted. It took no more than two or three hours, to complete their round trip. In the end Stiles only carved the symbol into five trees. With each new ward he made, an invisible line would connect them to the existing ones. He could feel it in his head and his chest, like a little hum inside him. He couldn't explain his connection to the wards, but he could feel their presence. Like beacons in his mind, each connected by the tether to join them as one shield, one wall of protection. When he breathed in deep, focusing on his wards, they seemed to expand with his breath before relaxing again. It was a good feeling, similar to feeling his magic in his chest. It made him feel a little bit protected.

Of course when he felt felt something like the snap of rubber band on the back of his head, he stopped walking immediately. He reached up, turning around, thinking he would feel a bump and see the culprit behind him, but nothing was there on both accounts. Again he felt another snap, a push then a release. He realized it was in his mind. He felt his magic rise inside him, illuminating itself from the small constant flame to an engorged fireball. 

Something just broke through his newly made wards.

"Well that was fast," Stile said to himself.

Danny heard him, turning around to look at where Stiles was still standing with his hand to the back of his head. "What's up?"

"I think...something just came through my wards." Stiles said as he kept with the feeling. It felt like a breach, an invasion, in his mind. That was the best he could describe it. His magic was telling him that his wards had been broken through. That made him worry. Maybe they were not strong enough. Maybe he did them wrong. He thought he did everything he read from the book right. He chose one of the best ways to create a ward, something meaningful to him, something that was able to power with his magic and his intents. He felt them all connect in his mind. He could even feel the barrier now, even though he wasn't standing too close to it, he could feel it like electricity or a wave of energy in the air.

Danny was alert, his head twisting from left to right, thinking he could see what came through. "Where is it?"

Stiles searched his mind for a moment, feeling the connection of his wards, the pentagon shape felt like a dull pulsing. He concentrated on where the breach came from, pinpointing it towards the northwestern point. That was back from where they came. Turning around, he started to run, with Danny falling behind him. They quickly made there way back through the woods, Stiles following the tether of his ward line in his head to where he needed to go. Eventually they came back to around where his last symbol was carved into the large ash tree. 

Looking around nothing came out at them suddenly, but it didn't mean much to him. He was sure his spells worked and his wards were up. He was positive of that thanks to the the continuous hum in his brain and the line than marked his protection around the town. He was feeling more nervous by the minute as they looked around, Stiles clearly able to see his carving on the tree a couple feet away. Usually when something was afoot, Stiles had a wolf as backup, but that wasn't the case now. He trusted Danny, given that they have protected each other before and they both had magic, but it still didn't alleviate the jittery feeling in his gut.

"So where was it," Danny asked as he breathed a little hard. 

There was nothing and no one around but them. Trees and dead leaves everywhere else, but no person nor creature. Except that is what he originally thought up until he saw the blur of something fly past him and bury itself into a tree nearby. They both looked over to see an arrow deep into the bark, quivering at the end from the blow. It was made of smooth tan woods and its feather were white and brown.

"Stiles," he heard Danny say. His friend wasn't looking at him but in the direction to the east. 

Two men were standing between the trees. One with a bow raised and an arrow aimed at them. The men were full grown, fair skinned, one with longer black hair, the other with short pale blonde hair. Both dressed in green and brown clothes that looked like they belonged in the Renaissance Fair. Green tunics, with brown pants and boots. Each had a thick belt around their hips. The blonde had the bow and a quiver on his back, the other had a long dagger strapped to his thigh.

They stared at them with such intense gazes, green eyes, grim expressions on their faces. Unwavering postures as they began to walk up to them. If they were hunters, they were not what Stiles was used to. There was no black leather or cargo pants. Not to mention no guns. The closer they got, the more antsy Stiles became. He noticed more details about them though. Their clothes were made of fine material, maybe silk or cotton. They were leather cuffs around their wrists, most likely as protection, each branded with different symbols that Stiles couldn't begin to recognize. The bow was smoothed and wooden, also carved but in an elegant looking design like it was an art piece instead of a weapon. The belts were made of the same leather as the cuffs, tough and thick. The blade on the other was long and silver, slightly curved, and the handle wrapped also in leather.

"Where is the mage," the one with long, black hair said, his voice harsh and cutting. He spoke English but it was heavy with another accent. He could place the accent, but it didn't sound European.

It took Stiles a moment to put together the strange man's words. "What," he said without thinking.

"The mage, witch," the man said again. "Where are they?"

"I am afraid we do not know what you are talking about," Danny said sternly, his voice rough. "There is no mage here."

The one with pale blonde hair laughed. It sounded musical almost airy before he spoke, his voice having the same accent as the other. "You think us fools?"

Stiles held up his hands slowly in a placating motion. "No, no. It is true, there is no mage here. I'm not even sure what a mage is." Blacked hair guy looked towards his companion, a dark sneer on his face. Stiles was barely able to see his ear behind his hair. He saw two silver studs on the side of the appendage, but he also managed to see the smooth skin rising to a point. He turned to the other one seeing clearly the point of his ears. Stiles felt himself gasp before he could retain any semblance of a poker face. "You're elves."

They both regarded him like he was a bug. The pale blonde inclined his head towards his friend. "That is Kyram, I am Flynn."

"Regardless of our names," Kyram growled, stepping towards Stiles, his hand on the hilt of his dagger. "We want to know where the mage is."

Danny also seemed to step closer to Stiles, his shoulder brushing against the back of Stiles'. "You have us at a disadvantage."

"Do we," Flynn said with sarcasm.

"Yeah, you apparently know of a mage here, whereas we do not and we live here," Stiles said, his brain finally coming back him after having an internal freak out. Elves! Elves are real. But then of course they were. Werewolves and witches, duh. 

"Do not play games with us, children," Kyram asked then pointed towards the tree with Stiles' carving. "These wards were freshly made."

”Which means that the mage is close,” Flynn finished for his friend.

Stiles didn’t know what to say to that. He didn’t really know what a mage was. Apparently these two wanted him. But why? More importantly how could they have known about this mage if they were here. Did they follow him from somewhere?

”Any user adept with magic could have made these wards,” Danny said confidently. “There is no mage here.”

“You are lying witch,” Flynn said. “These type of protection spells are tricky to execute and need a great source of magic to get them to stick and to keep them going otherwise they burn out too quickly.”

”What,” Stiles said looking at Danny over his shoulder. “Is he right?”

Danny didn’t say anything. He barely flicked his eyes to his own. Instead the only tell Stiles saw was he jaw tightening, the muscles bulging just a little. 

Stiles didn’t know this. If he read about it, he never registered it. It made sense. Magic is not a constant. It needs either a source to help it continue or it needs continual maintaince. So what does a mage have to do with that? Can’t all magic users do it? Did Danny know of a mage being in town?

”Like he said,” Stiles said, hoping to sound confident too. “There is no mage here.”

”Well you may know about him,” Kyram said holding up a finger to point at him. Then he slid his finger over to direct it at Danny instead. “This one seems to know plenty.”

When Kyram made to step closer to Danny, Stiles moved with him, holding onto Danny’s wrist at his side, squeezing tightly. Danny had somehow put himself in front of Stiles, his back keeping him behind. 

“We don’t know anything,” Stiles called over Danny keeping an eye on the arrow still pointing at both of them.

”What do you want this mage for anyway,” Danny asked in a hard tone

Kyram laughed. Musical and chilling at the same time. “Why to snuff out his magic...permanently.” 

Danny went rigid in his back and he very discreetly edged himself more in front of Stiles. Stiles felt his friend’s fingers brushing against his side, trying to offer some sort of comfort.

Stiles wasn’t comforted. How could he be so stupid? He should have known better than to go trampsing through the woods playing with magic. Even if he had good intentions, he still didn’t know what he was doing. This was also Beacon Hills, of course shit was going to hit the fan. There were other creatures, monsters out there who could always come along. That was one reason why Stiles wanted to do the wards, but he didn’t think of anything coming along when he was trying to erect those walls. It never crossed his mind. 

Let’s also not forge this Alpha pack who was no doubt squatting somewhere in town. Hell Stiles probably should be thanking the Heavens that he and Danny were not having their throats torn out right now. He knew all of this and yet here they were facing two Elves with weapons pointed at their faces and the twitching feeling of danger in the back of his head. 

How could he be so stupid? He put himself and Danny in danger. He should never have brought Danny out here. If it wasn’t for him, his friend would be at home, safe. He couldn’t let Danny get hurt, not because of his mistake. This was his fault. 

“Why,” Stiles asked without thinking. As the Elves eyes met his, he stammered on. “What has this mage done to you? Why do you want them dead?”

"Because That is what Elves do,” Danny said angrily in front of him. “Their kind hate other magic users, viewing them as lesser beings. To them, Elves are the purest because of their immortality, which they get from their own magic.”

Flynn flashed a smug grin. "You make us sound like supremacists."

"More like savages,” Danny spat. 

“Careful witch,” Kyram said, holding the handle of his blade tighter. “I have no problem collecting your head for my collection.”

"You kill for sport,” Danny said. “You won’t pass up the opportunity for the mage.”

Kyram nodded elegantly, a small smile on his face. “Of course not. Which is why you are not dead yet.”

Stiles felt his heart skip a few beats. “What?”

"Well you are here, standing by the wards you so happen to not know about. And you,” Kyram said looking a Danny with intense green eyes that could give Lydia a run for her money. To Stiles horror, the elf pulled his blade free, holding it nimbly in his long fingers. “You know more than you are letting on. So maybe I should kill your friend and then get you to tell me where my mage is.”

There wasn’t time to say anything, just react. Stiles pushed against his flame of magic, pulling it from his body. As Kyram started to move, he kept a tight hold to Danny’s arm, his heart beating rapidly in his chest as his magic coursed through his body. As the knife reflected the sun above, he pushed his magic into the blade, keeping his eyes on the blade, willing it to get hot, scorching even. It worked quickly, the blade lighting up like a light bulb. Going from shiny steel to illuminating orange. Kyram screamed, raising his arm in surprise and dropping the blade. Flynn temporarily lowered his bow, looking at his companion in shock.

There was a red mark on the dark haired man's hand, angry and pink on his palm and over his thumb. Danny was immediately backing himself and Stiles away, keeping Stiles behind him as they made to leave. They were most likely not going to get far when they turned tail and ran, but they had to take a chance. But when Kyram looked at them with his cold stare with Flynn holding his bow down towards the ground, kneeling just a little over his friend, Stiles watched the man smile a wolfish grin that made his hairs stand on end.

"Well now," he said with a tinge of awe in his voice mixed with a smugness that Stiles didn't like. "Isn't this a surprise. I am curious as to how you do not know. I must say I did not see you as the mage."

Stiles felt Danny catch his breath. Stiles looked at him and then back at the Elves who were looking at them. No, they were not looking at Danny, they were looking at him. He tightened his grip on Danny, tugging just a little, trying to get Danny to turn around. Turn and run with him. They may have magic, but he was no where near confident enough to go up against immortal Elves with weapons. Not to mention one with a bow and arrow where he wouldn't need to move a step to shoot them.

"His eyes are gorgeous," Flynn said in thought.

"Indeed," Kyram said, standing upright with the other. "They would make for a nice trophy."

Danny turned his head to look at Stiles over his shoulder. Seeing how his own eyes went wide and his mouth went agape for a split moment. Stiles didn't have to ask to know what they were all talking about. He knew from the horror on his friend's face that he just revealed what the Elves wanted. Stiles' eyes were glowing, shimmering with their hidden fire. Sparkling topaz, with hints of ruby and honey.

No this couldn't be right. Stiles was not a mage. He couldn't be. He didn't even no what that meant. Somehow though, he doubted reasoning would sway the full grown men in front of them.

Danny acted without his knowledge, pushing his hands outward, glowing a faint green. In quick succession, the earth shifted around the two Elves, raising and then dipping away from them. Making them fall forward. Turning around, Danny pulling Stiles away from the scene, a look of fear on his face. "Run!"

They ran. Heading back the way they came, trying to get back to Stiles' jeep. Stiles felt his body burning with his magic, wanting him to use it, release to help him. He didn't know how though. His fear and confusion was clouding his thoughts. The idea of him being a mage was repeating itself in his head. Rushing past the trees in their way, they kicked up dust and leaves in their wake. Danny was to his right, running with him, looking back as he kept pace with him. Stiles didn't want to look back. He learned not to after the number of times he fell into a trap that was in front of him. He had to mind his footing and make sure he and Danny made it safely to his jeep.

He heard a loud gruff from his right, turning his head to see Danny being tackled to the ground by Kyram. Both of them rolling over the forest floor, leaves and twigs sticking to their clothing. Stiles made to get to him, but was hit in the right side of his head by something hard. Stumbling to the ground from the force, clutching his face, his vision swam. Tears immediately came to his eyes from the hard sting. He could feel a cut on his temple, stretching into his hairline just over his ear. It was a heated pain that made him wince.

Out of the corner of his left eye he could see blurred figures of Kyram and Danny wrestling with each other, but he couldn't make out details. He heard Danny say something that sounded like a spell, but he wasn't sure what the effect was. He wasn't able to see because then he got whacked again in his shoulder, throbbing pain radiating down his arm and up into his neck. He went down onto the ground, yelping at the pain. Standing just a few feet from him, aiming an arrow at him was Flynn. His pale blonde hair shining in sunlight. He had a tense look on his face, his own green eyes void of emotion, his mouth down turned into a sneer.

"Nice try mage," he said callously. "But we have centuries of hunting prey and magic users. You are not at all in their league."

"You don't have to do this," he said, trying to get into a kneeling position. He was wincing with each movement his shoulder made. He felt like he pulled something, but he couldn't heal himself yet. He needed his energy. He reached for his magic, trying to think of a spell to get him out of this. His head was killing him and he could hear Danny grunting and Kyram snarling at him. He didn't dare take his eyes off Flynn, but he had to help Danny. He couldn't let Danny get hurt. 

"Don't try to beg for mercy," Flynn spat as he pulled his string tighter. "It won't save you anyway. Have some dignity and face your demise at my arrow. Like the magic user's before you."

Stiles didn't think as he acted, he reached out with his magic bringing it out of him as easily as breathing, his eyes never leaving the arrow head that pointed straight at him. Whether it was his fear that drove him, his desire to help Danny or even himself, or his innate want to wipe the smirk off Flynn's face, he couldn't tell where his magic stemmed from. It could have been all of it, but whatever the source, his magic responded. He saw Flynn release his hand, the bowstring springing forward to let the arrow fly. Never taking his eyes away from the metallic point, he pushed harder at his magic, no spell coming to mind, just an instinct that he was hardly aware of. He didn't want to die and he definitely didn't want Danny to die. He had to help.

He wanted that arrow pointing away from him. He willed it away from him. As the air split through the air, his magic shot out in a wave, intent on the target his eyes was focused on. It all happened so quick that it was flash of movement. The arrow flipped around in mid-air to fly back for where it came, never seeming to break it's flight. Before Stiles could blink, he saw it bury itself into Flynn's chest, just to the right of his heart. The elf fell backward from the shot, hitting the ground with a thud. 

Stiles moved without taking in the sight, ignoring the pounding in his head and the needle points radiating through his arm. Reaching down as fast as he could manage to grab an arrow from Flynn's quiver on his back, he ran over to where Kyram was kneeling over Danny, the dagger inches from Danny's throat. He was struggling to keep the blade away from him. If he moved too much, he could lose leverage, if he moved his legs, he could give Kyram too much leeway to push down further. Danny's eyes were focused on the elf above him, sheer determination in his eyes, Kyram had deadly intent in his. That was all Stiles saw as he gripped the arrow tight in his hand and he slammed it into the elf's back between his shoulder blades. 

He heard a grunt of pain, followed by a slight gurgle and everything went still. For a split moment, no one moved. When Danny pushed the elf away from him, the arrow still in his back, Danny scrambled away, getting to his feet. Stiles couldn't look away from Kyram. His eyes wide and unseeing, his mouth open with the tiniest bit of blood at the corner. No longer gripping the blade he had which laid forgotten on the ground. 

"Stiles," Danny croaked, before swallowing hard. Stepping closer to Stiles. The sudden movement made Stiles flinch, his eyes going wide on their own. Danny's face contorted into a hurt look, but he held up his hands in a placating, calming manner. "Stiles, it's okay. It's okay, it's over."

"I-," Stiles stopped. He couldn't look away from Kyram, the arrow in his back, making his lean against it awkwardly. The red blood starting to soak the ground below them. It wasn't much, but it was enough to notice. His already fair skin, now going to get paler. Even though a part of Stiles knew he did the right thing, saving Danny and himself, he saw Kyram's pained face, then slacking into one that was void of emotion. Restful and unflinching. His body following, going limb as a board now. He couldn't look away. He didn't see an elf, or a supernatural creature. He saw a person, one who looked as human as him. He was dead and it was Stiles' doing. 

He killed him. He willingly, actively, killed him. There was no magic that did it this time. There were no shrieking monsters. There was no flames that burst from the ground at his emotions. This was him in control, intently seeking for a way out and using his magic and willpower to do it. He was the one who put Flynn's arrow into his chest. He was the one who took one of those arrows and made the conscious decision to stab it into Kyram's back. It was like looking at the dead bodies of the hunter's all over again. Only Kyram wasn't burned black and gray, he was normal, like he was still alive. Still as human looking as he presented himself to be, until you realized the truth. He didn't really think about it when he plunged the arrow down, he just had to do it. He had to save Danny, save himself. He succeeded and he killed two people to do it.

These were no monsters, with sharp teeth or long claws. No glowing eyes or vicious growls.

And Stiles killed them.

"Stiles." He heard Danny call his name, but he didn't recognize it. He was still staring at Kyram's eyes. Green and unfocused, staring at nothing and never will again.

"Stiles. Stiles!" 

Chapter Text

Danny could see the change in Stiles like the flip of a switch. His body was incredibly still and he stood staring at Kyram’s body like it was the most horrible, terrifying thing he could see and still not look away from. 

Danny didn’t know what to do or say in this moment. He was as tongue tied as Stiles seemed to be. The boy was rigid as a board, with only his chest rising in quick gasps of air. His fist still clenched tight at his sides. Danny could feel the magic around the boy slowly receding back into his body. He felt it earlier when Stiles lashes out at Kyram, burning his knife, then again a moment before Kyram came close to driving that same knife through Danny’s neck, before Stiles saved him. 

Stiles saved him, again. 

Yet the boy looked like he just witnessed a catastrophe. It was like after the wraiths, after Stiles found out what he had done to them and to the hunter’s who tried to kill him. Stiles was near having a panic attack, restraining himself from doing anything, fearful for what he had done.

No Danny couldn’t watch that. He couldn’t let Stiles go through that.

”Stiles.” He said gently, trying to urge the boy to look at him. It didn’t happen in the slightest. “Stiles!”

He saw him start to shake, his hands still tight in fists. But not his body was trembling, it was subtle but it was enough that had Danny moving. Lunging forward, ignoring the jerk Stiles made backward at his movement, he pulled at Stiles hands, wrapping both fists in his own. 

“Stiles look at me,” he said trying to keep his voice calm. He was watching Stiles about to fall off the edge and have a panic attack. Danny did not want to think of what that would look like. He squeezed his hands more firmly, respecting his name again.

Slowly Stiles dragged his gaze away from the dead elf’s body and looked at Danny. He held Stiles’ gaze, looking at the deep honey colored eyes, the ones that were glowing not ten minutes ago with a hidden fire that that could only be explained as magical. 

When Stiles was about to speak, fighting over his words, Danny interjected, “Don’t even."

"But-"

"No!" Danny didn't care if his voice was more forceful than he meant it to be. He couldn't let Stiles fall apart because of this. He saved their lives. For the second time Stiles has saved him. Danny felt a mixture of guilt for having to put Stiles in that position, but also relief. Danny didn't want to die and he was glad Stiles felt the same, for himself and for Danny. "You did what you had to."

"I killed them," Stiles whispered, almost wrecked.

"They didn't give you a choice," Danny said, still holding onto Stiles, squeezing his hands, trying to ground him, trying to get him to listen to his words. "It's just like the with the wraiths."

Apparently that was the wrong thing to say, because Stiles' eyes changed. They soft brown changing to a dull topaz, with flecks of gold close to the pupil. Danny would have pointed it out, except now was not the time. Aside from Stiles' magic surfacing in slightly more noticeable ways, he was now surprised to see Stiles angry. Stiles jerked his hands away, rummaging them through his lengthening hair, and walking away from Danny a few steps. Danny heard his friend taking in deep breaths, letting them out in shaky pants.

"I do not need a reminder." Stiles spat out, not facing Danny. "But they," he said gesturing to the two elves on the ground, "they were not monsters. They look human to me. They had no claws, no fangs, no glowing eyes. Weapons or no, I still killed them."

"They were monsters," Danny said not moving as Stiles paced. "They were going to kill you Stiles. They were going to kill me." That got Stiles to stop. He looked at Danny with equal parts fear and sadness in his eyes. Danny saw the momentary flash of understanding in Stiles eyes, so he jumped at the opportunity. "Is that what you would have wanted? Did you want them to have the chance to finish what they started?"

Stiles eyes went a little wider at the question, but he shook his head anyway. 

"Did you want to die?" Danny pressed on, watching Stiles give another head shake. "Did you want me to die," Danny went on.

"No!"

The force of the exclamation was enough to make Danny stare. Stiles was still clenching his hands tightly, but his eyes looked a little glassy. Stiles just shook his head after a moment, wiping his hands down his face, then resuming his pacing. At least he looked less panicky and more like a caged, restless animal. Danny let him have his space now, standing perfectly still, just being the silent support that he hoped would help Stiles. When Stiles did start talking his voice was bitter.

"I'm sorry," he said, making Danny look on in surprise. "I never should have brought you out here. I should have done this alone, or maybe not at all. I didn't even think it would work anyway, I just wanted to try. I wanted to give it a shot and hope that I could pull it off. Maybe then we wouldn't have to look over our shoulders every day. I just wanted to do something, anything to help. Apparently it didn't work. The wards are up, but ineffective since not a few minutes later they came through like it was nothing. Of course they would. Why wouldn't they? It's not like I know what I am doing and I-"

"Stiles!"

"I'm sorry!" Stiles said with tears now starting to gather in his eyes. His hands grasping his hair so tightly that Danny thought he would pull it out by the handful. Stiles face was pink and his eyes watery. His teeth biting his bottom lip and the look of anger, disgust, and fear on his face. "I'm sorry. I didn't think. I-I...didn't know."

Danny could feel his own heart constricting at watching Stiles beat himself up. Not just over killing the two elves, but also feeling like it was all his fault to begin with. That was crazy. He couldn't have known. Neither of them could have. Not one of them could see the future. So how could Stiles be angry with himself for making the choice to try something with his magic. How dare he think that he brought this on them.

"Stop," Danny said walking towards him, pulling him to stop him from moving away. He held Stiles' upper arms, keeping him in front of him. "This is not your doing. They were coming no matter what we would have done today. This was not because you wanted to try something with your magic."

"Isn't it," Stiles muttered sounding defeated. "You heard them. You heard what they were after. They wanted me...a mage."

Danny didn't know what to say to that. It was true. Even now, with his emotions of self-hatred and guilt, Danny could sense Stiles' magic. This close to him, he could feel it like a thrumming, a warmth that drew him in. It has gotten steadily stronger of the past few weeks. Danny tried to not notice, but he couldn't ignore it. His own Spark was reacting to Stiles', reacting like a magnetic field that he could feel. His own Spark was telling him that Stiles was strong, had an air about him that was not entirely human. He had no doubt Deaton could feel the same, but he tried to not notice. Danny had never felt that before in someone. Here and there, he sensed someone had the potential in their Sparks, strong character and will, but it was never as strong as it was with Stiles. The more Stiles practiced and learned magic, the stronger he could feel it. Like a little tingle under his skin.

Danny had heard of mages, but never did he imagine knowing one. His knowledge of them was limited, but he knew a little. They were uncommon and they were rather powerful, but he didn't know much past that. After seeing how quickly Stiles has learned spells and when he exhibited some manifestations when he was having that nightmare, his magic reflecting his subconscious emotions, he thought it might mean something. He thought Deaton did too, but of course the man was not going to share, at least not yet. Maybe Deaton only suspected a few things. Did Deaton suspect Stiles was a mage?

Danny sure as hell didn't. It never crossed his mind in the possibilities. Even after Stiles eyes glowed. They glowed! The whiskey orbs turning to a liquid fire was not something he ever thought was possible. Yet ever since that night, when Stiles would practice magic with him, occasionally his eyes would glow. It would be faint, but it was there. Danny watched the change happen a few times, wondering if he would be able to see it or if it happened to be his imagination at times. Sure enough, he could recount the number of times he saw the shift in Stiles' eyes. It was a sight to see and it left Danny with a lot of questions and no answers. 

Until now.

"You are not to blame," Danny said with certainty. "I am not sure what this all means, but I do know, that this is not you fault. You did not ask for this to happen. You did what you could to not let it happen."

"They came through my wards," Stiles said sadly. 

"Your wards cannot protect against everything. Even I can sense they are strong, but there are other's out there, magic users who are unaffected by wards, unless those wards are much more powerful to withstand them," he said, trying to reason past the guilt in Stiles' eyes. "You cannot expect to stop everything Stiles. It doesn't work that way, no matter how much you wish it would. Sooner or later, something will find a way through."

"Then what good is having the wards?"

"They protect this town from other things. Creatures less powerful, but no less dangerous."

"Like what," Stiles asked in exasperation. "Pixies?"

Danny nodded. "Actually yeah," ignoring Stiles' wide eyes as Danny let him go, taking a little step back. "Along with others. Your wards are strong, anyone with an ounce of magic can tell that. They can protect against a lot of monsters out there. Like wraiths for instance."

That got Stiles attention. Danny could see the glazed over look in Stiles eyes as he thought back to the start of the summer, remembering the grotesque monsters with dead-like skin, gnarly claws, and piercing screams. It was not something Danny liked to remember, but he thought it might get Stiles to feel better. Knowing that monsters like that, monsters drawn to magic and bright souls, were not strong enough to pass through his wards. Maybe it would help Stiles realize that his wards were doing something.

"Really," Stiles asked a little hopeful look in his eyes.

Danny nodded. "They do enough for now," he said referring to Stiles wards. "They can always be improved when you learn more. And knowing you, you will indeed learn as much as you can."

Stiles huffed out a strained laugh, but he seemed more calm now. His eyes were still clouded with sadness though. "I just don't understand what all is happening. With those two bodies found, the Alpha pack, Erica and Boyd missing, my night-"

He stopped, making Danny look at him with concern. He knew Stiles was going to say nightmares. It was not a secret that Stiles had nightmares. Danny has witness a few already. The one he had to wake him up from was the worst it seemed, but all of them left a cold feeling in his chest. Stiles was often sweating, tossing and turning, mumbling incoherently. Stiles would always wake up from his nightmares. Usually with gasp or in two situations, a faint scream, ones that he would muffle in his arm or pillow before it went full blown. Danny has only tried to help once before with it. Asking if he was okay, if he wanted to talk about it, and Stiles claimed up faster than any time Danny has ever seen in the boy. He told him he was fine and that he just wanted to go back to sleep. Danny would go back to his spot on the floor, his ears still listening to Stiles, turning on his sheets, suppressing his breathing. Even though Danny could hear the little gasps here and there.

Danny hated that. He hated that Stiles wouldn't talk to him. But then what could Danny say to make it easier. After the horrors that Stiles has gone through already, there was bound to be emotional scars left behind to go with the physical ones. 

When Danny woke him up from the big one where Stiles magic manifested and his eyes glowed for the first time, he thought Stiles would keep quiet again but he didn't. He was actually forthcoming. It made Danny feel a little better. He felt like he was actually getting somewhere with Stiles and his nightmares. It wasn't until the one that took place a few days after that when they passed out on the floor after a night of practicing a couple spells and binge watching Orange in the Black on Netflix that Stiles had another nightmare, this one making him shake himself awake with a deep heaving breaths. Once again Danny tried to help, only for Stiles to pull away and head to the bathroom. He came back a little while later, looking tired, but willing to go back to sleep, saying he just wanted to forget about it.

Each nightmare he witnessed made Danny's heart break and his stomach drop. He could only imagine how many he didn't witness when he wasn't there.

"One step at a time," Danny said finally. "The Alpha pack is not your concern, that is the packs."

"And yet they could have been the ones to find us today too." Stiles said dryly. "This was a stupid idea."

"According to Lydia, there has been no further advances on their part. Not for over a while. I am not saying they are still not a threat, but I doubt they will waste time with two teenagers," Danny said with as much confidence as he muster. Of course he was still worried about the Alpha pack, but he wasn't about to let Stiles blame himself for them too. "So, buck up, stop blaming yourself for any of this."

"But I-"

"Stiles I swear I will tape your mouth shut," Danny said threateningly. When Stiles rolled his eyes he continued. "You did what you had to do. Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. You know that more than anyone. If you had not acted, I don't even want to think about where either of us would be right now. You saved us. You did."

Stiles looked at him for a long moment, his eyes searching his face. Danny gazed back just as much, both unflinching. He could still feel the warmth from Stiles' body near him, feel the tingling from his Spark. Stiles' honey colored eyes never left his as he looked for whatever he was hoping to see. Strength? Understanding? Lies? Whatever Stiles saw, it was enough to make him almost shrink. Danny watched as his shoulder dropped, his face falling, eyes going to the forest floor below them. 

Danny didn't know if that was a win, but he would take it for now and build on it later. "Come on," he said, reaching to gently turn Stiles away from the bodies, "Let's get out of here."

Making Stiles turn around they started to head to where Stile's had parked his jeep. They had gotten a little topsy, turvy after there rolling around and running. They were banged up a little, mostly Stiles, so they needed to get back and deal with those injuries. The cut on Stiles cheek was still leaking a little blood, but it was starting to crust over from the growing afternoon air. As they started to make their way back, Stiles stopped at Kyram's body. Danny thought he was standing in shock again when Stiles bent down and grabbed the slightly curved dagger from the ground beside the body.

At the incredulous Danny sent him, Stiles shrugged, holding the dagger in his hand lightly. "A little extra protection never hurt."

Danny scoffed, but said nothing else. When they continued to head away from the bodies, Danny made a split minute decision. He allowed Stiles to keep going ahead of him. Danny didn't know how Stiles would feel about it, but Danny knew that it would be better if this was done. No questions. No evidence for some potential wolves to find. 

Danny turned around, his hand instinctively grasping the necklace at his neck, pulling it from beneath his shirt. His hand closely firmly around the body temperature warmed medal. Muttering quickly under his breath, trying to make this quick, he said the spell he needed. Watching closely he saw as the dirt around the bodies of the elves started to turn to a loose, slightly sandy material. As he watched, the bodies were sinking, more and more being pulled under into the earth below. Danny continued to mutter the spell, ensuring it did it's job until the bodies were gone. It took no more than a couple moments, but it was enough to leave his body feeling flush, a little perspiration on his forehead and his heart beating faster in his chest. Eventually, the bodies were buried completely, leaving nothing behind. It was only then Danny stopped the spell. The earth would turn back to mostly solid dirt on it's own.

He felt withered after that, but still strong enough to continue. Leaving the woods behind, he went after Stiles who thankfully didn't notice as he haphazardly made zig-zags around trees and sticks and rocks. He caught up to him, both stepping away from the woods in silence, heading back into the town they were trying to take care of.

 

 * * * * * * *

"You know Noah there is no need to always come around when I have an animal on the table,” Deaton said with a hint of a smile.

Noah was not going to ask or think about how Deaton knew he was there when he literally just walked in. He let himself into the clinic, thank goodness no one else was present. More than once Noah had thought about asking the vet when he would get a some help, at least someone to help with the front desk, especially with calls or walk-ins. He still couldn't help but think that as he made his way to the back, finding the man bent over a golden retriever, examining there vitals and writing them down on a chart on his clipboard. Apparently, the man didn't need help in being told when someone had arrived. 

"One of these days I will sneak up on you," Noah said feigning annoyance. 

Deaton raised an eyebrow at him. "You are starting to sound like a certain teenager."

Noah chuckled. "Well if I wasn't working so much..." He let the sentence drop, knowing Deaton would put the rest together. Ever since the two bodies had shown up he was working more hours to his already long days. With the shortage of deputies at the station, it was strenuous enough to keep shifts occupied. Not to mention the mountain of paper work that followed. There wasn't much in the way of available hands to help, which had the Sheriff pulling more overtime. 

There were available positions at the station, but he knew they wouldn't be filled quickly. Strangely no one wanted to take a position in law enforcement in a town where the fatality rates were rising and it's officers were among those casualties. Shocking!

"I take it that news on the two bodies was not good," Deaton asked turning back to the dog on his table. The dog was cute, it's whole body pliant and patient as Deaton prodded and check every thing he needed to. The golden fur illuminated slightly from the fluorescent light overhead. The Sheriff stepped closer to pet the dog, smiling softly as the dog licked and butted against his hand as Deaton wrote down his numbers and findings on the sheet.

Noah sighed heavily, scratching behind the dog's ears. "Not in the slightest. There is no evidence as I expected there wouldn't be. Both had their throats slashed. One was found in the pool, the other on the lifeguard chair."

Deaton hummed. "And no evidence to support any theories."

"None that would make sense or hold up in court." Deaton turned away from him and dog, taking the clipboard with him to set it on the opposite counter. Noah continued talking, knowing the vet was still listening. "What makes it even worse is what is known about the bodies."

"Such as?"

"They were found with their throats slashed. One had a large hold in his chest. The one in the pool was drained of blood. The coroner divulged to me, repeatedly mind you, that the man had little blood left in his body, which explains why there wasn't more blood in the pool," Noah said, running a hand through his hair.

Deaton looked at the Sheriff with a hard look. "That much blood loss is very uncommon."

"By normal human standards it is." Deaton nodded, his forehead wrinkled with concern and thought. Noah knew the man was thinking through the different scenarios, explanations as to why one man had been drained of nearly all his blood and the other was left with a slit throat and fist sized hole in his chest. "What are you thinking, Alan?"

At his name the vet looked at Noah, seeming to temporarily forget he was not alone, before leaning against the counter, his arms crossing. "I am not sure. Vampires come to mind along with a few other creatures, but none have been around these parts for years. What is more striking is two bodies, killed in nearly the same way, one with most blood intact, the other with most missing. What time did the coroner say they were approximately killed?"

"About eight hours before they were found."

"Both?"

At Noah's nod, the man's eyes went unfocused, far away as he retreated back into his mind. "Strange."

"It was not a pretty sight. The poor Martin girl was shaking when I arrived and had a firm grip on Stiles' sleeve when I had them give their statements to a deputy."

Deaton nodded. "Stiles did mention the girl looked rather...put off. She has dealt with quite a bit in recent months."

"Stiles? Stiles told you about this," Noah asked incredulously.

The vet simply cocked an eyebrow at him before stepping away from the counter, taking off his stethoscope and running his hands over the dog, first to soothe, then to delve deeper, running over the muscles and bones, looking for anything out of the norm. "He and Danny told me that morning, after they left that is."

"What were they doing up...wait that doesn't matter. Why were you told? Danny was there, I didn't see him. When were you going to mention that you knew most of the details already," Noah asked accusingly, crossing his arms.

Deaton just eyed him a little sheepish, but otherwise not bothered. "Well after dealing with one Stilinski for a couple hours a day and their stream of questions over magic and creatures, the peacefulness is rather captivating."

"Hey I don't-" 

Noah stopped, having just heard all of Deaton's words. He felt his eyes go wide as Deaton intentionally kept his eyes down. Writing on the clipboard, face looking rather bored. "He’s agreed to learn from you?”

At Deaton's nod, the Sheriff felt his shoulder slump and a heavy breath run out of his lungs. He didn't realize how much he had worried about Stiles' magic until now. Every day he thought about it. Every time he saw his son, he wanted to ask him how he was doing, really doing. He wanted to talk to him about his magic, about what he was learning, if he was gaining control and understanding. He wanted to talk to him about the important things. The things that he knew Stiles was keeping from him, the things Noah has been intentionally turning a blind eye to for the better part of a year.

He would never stop feeling guilty about telling him the truth long ago, but it was a choice he stood by, just to help give his son some normalcy. A lot of good that did.

"That's good," he said, feeling a little weight leaving his shoulder. At least Stiles had someone to learn from. "I glad he has agreed to that."

"The boy has always been resourceful," Deaton said with a small smile. "He would have gotten help in other ways if he wanted."

Noah nodded. "True, but his pack doesn't know as much about magic as you do. At least I suspect that to be true."

Deaton seemed to have a shadow pass of his face quickly before it was gone. Noah wasn't sure if he was mistaking it or not. It was not often that Deaton showed his emotions anyway. The man stopped doing that years ago, back when he was an Emissary, back before the fire, before Claudia. So he didn't expect that the man would start again now. Still, Noah thought he saw something. Was the momentary off look about the pack?

"How is the pack doing," Noah asked, genuinely curious. "You mentioned before about some rough going. Everything alright?"

Deaton nodded, but didn't answer straight away. To anyone else, Noah would have been concerned about that. But after a long history of dealing with the vet's communication skills, it was something he got used to. He could never really tell when Deaton was lying. Nor could he tell if he was thinking about excuses or just thinking about something else entirely. The man was a wild card to put it frankly.

"The pack is doing fine," the man said after moment. "Scott comes by weekly with updates."

"I have not seen Scott in a while. Are you working him too hard?" It was meant as a light jab, but Deaton didn't seem to notice. The man seemed to focus solely on his papers, writing down whatever he was currently thinking about. That made Noah do a double take.

Now that he really thought about it, he hadn't seen Scott in a long while, months in fact. The boy used to be over at their house weekly, sometimes daily depending on what was going on. That hasn't been the case for quite some time. Noah couldn't remember when Scott was last seen walking through his door. The more he thought about it, the more he noticed that it was a big change. Stiles hadn't even mentioned it. He couldn't even remember Stiles even mentioning Scott's name, especially not recently. The only person Stiles talked about when they were able to have a conversation was Danny. 

Danny was the only person coming and going anymore. Aside from that Martin girl, he couldn't recall seeing Stiles with anyone else recently. That struck him as odd. Stiles and Scott were always together. Thick as thieves ever since they were young. The two boys were practically joined at the hip for as long as Noah could remember. Where one was, the other was likely to follow. Yet, now it didn't seem to bare truth. Now it was like Danny and Stiles were everywhere.

Anytime he came home, he would find them both in his room or in the living room watching a movie, talking. Other times he would see Stiles leaved early in the morning, often telling him he was meeting Danny. It made Noah reconsider the idea that Danny was dating his son. He was aware of Stiles saying it was not like that, but Noah didn't want to think about any alternatives. No not at all. His son was responsible and Danny seemed like a nice boy. But then teenagers were nothing if not impulsive.

Oh god he had to stop thinking about this. He needed to talk to Stiles.

Thankfully Deaton broke him out his freak out. "Of course I'm not. It takes me more than a few times to get Scott to go home and away from the animals anymore."

Noah smiled, but he didn't feel it. He couldn't stop his thoughts from drifting to Stiles and Scott. It made him wonder.

"Noah, your thoughts are going to become tangible if you do not stop thinking so hard," Deaton said next to him.

He felt himself chuckle. "I am just worried. About Stiles."

"Have you talked to him," the mocha man asked openly.

He shook his head in disappointment. It was his fault for not instigating the conversation. He knew he needed to talk to Stiles, really talk to him. There was much he needed to let his son know. It both relieved and scared him at the same time. On one hand, he was happy about Stiles uncovering his magic. On the other, he was petrified. A part of him was hoping Stiles would never know about the supernatural, but he knew that it inevitable. Stiles was too observant and he was smart. If he didn't see something happening, he would put the puzzle pieces together if he tried hard enough. 

He felt guilty for that. He felt guilty for never telling him the truth. Stiles had spent his whole life relying on his big brain, trying to see the patterns and possibilities to solve problems and see the world, but he never was given a reason to see it another way. A magical way. Noah allowed him to think that way, never think about what if. When he was younger, Stiles wondered at the world, his eyes big and bright like any other child's, but after his mother, after he was forced to grow up so fast, no thanks in part to Noah himself, that glint in his eyes faded. Only shining when he was able to see the puzzle for what it was, not what it could be. After he worked to put it all together.

"I need to," he said sadly. "I should have done it long ago."

Deaton neither denied nor agreed with him, which made him feel worse. "So what stops you now?" Noah just level him with a dry look and Deaton's mouth quirked just a little. "Start slow, the rest will follow."

"He will not be happy about it," Noah said quietly.

"Maybe not," Deaton conceded, "but the boy may just feel like he gained something in the end."

"Like what?"

The vet shrugged, running a hand down the golden retriever's back. "Self."

Noah stared at the man for a few moments, contemplating his words. As he finished the rest of his shift that evening, he played out what he hoped to be a good scenario.

 

* * * * * * *

Stiles went to his bathroom, washing off the dirt on his face and shrugging out of the shirt he was wearing. As soon as they got home, it was already starting to get dark. They had stopped at a drive through, both starving after trudging through the woods, trying to find their way back to Stiles jeep. Stiles didn't imagine this would take all day, but then he didn't count on being attacked by two elves either.

They piled into his truck, taking comfort in the confined space, the steel and leather around them helping to provide some semblance of protection. They sat in the jeep for a bit, breathing in deep breaths, resting just a little before Stiles turned over the engine and headed back to town. After eating in the parking lot of the drive-thru, the radio quietly playing, Stiles drove them home. They didn't exchange too many words. Both didn't know what to say after the whole ordeal. The word mage constantly circling around his head. He needed to do research  and a lot of it. He supposed he could go to Deaton about it, but that might lead to more questions and he did't really want to answer those just yet. Danny seemed to be in the same boat, although Stiles was not sure what words or images he was picturing.

Getting into the house, his dad on the last leg of his shift and would be home later, they let themselves in and climbed his stairs. Stiles first made his way to the bathroom, hoping to at least take care of the cut on his right cheek. It didn't really hurt anymore, but he could feel the cool air pass over the wound, so he figured he should do something about it.

There was an angry welt on his shoulder, marked by a pink line in the center where the bow had connected. There was a cut on his head, from his cheek bone to over his right ear, but it wasn’t too bad. It was already beginning to bruise, turning his pale skin red and purple, but it wasn’t terrible.

Sighing heavily he went to put his shirt back on, deciding to deal with it later, but  he heard a shuffling behind him.

"Let me see,” Danny said behind him.

"No I’m fine,” Stiles muttered reaching for his shirt to attempt to pull it over his head. He winced at the pain in his shoulder. 

“Let me see Stiles,” Danny said more closely behind him, his voice more authorative but still gentle.

Stiles clutched his shirt between his hands, kneading the material between his fingers. He ground his teeth together. He didn’t want Danny to see him. Aside from the newest bruises he got that day, he still had his scars. The two crossed ones on his shoulder would be the first ones Danny saw. But as soon as Stiles would turn around, the bigger one on side and stomach would be seen and the one over his left pectoral muscle. The ones of his wrists from the cuff and chains that night were more faded than the others, but Stiles always felt them. Even the burn on his side was still red and pink. It would never go away, just like his scars. His scars, his cuts, his bruises and burns, the entire patchwork of his body would be seen.

Stiles barely looked at himself in the mirror anymore. When he did, he avoided his previous injuries. He even avoided his own eyes. He feared he would fall apart if he looked into them. He was supposed to be a kid, sixteen years old and innocent. Long since that has gone.

He felt a warm hand on his shoulder and he tensed. He raised his head to turn to see Danny looking at him, his gaze soft and his mouth a worried line.

His heart was thumping in his chest and he had to remind himself to breathe. He tried to not think of Gerard or Grant in that moment, instead focusing on Danny. The gentle warmth of his hand, the steady comfort he seemed to exude. He soaked it in, taking deep breaths as he did. He could smell his own vanilla scent and Danny’s woodsy cologne. Somehow it helped to soothe him, chasing away the threat of his darkest memories before he could fall.

He still didn’t want Danny to see him, his ugly scars that he was forced to bare for the rest of his life. He couldn’t look at into his friend’s eyes as he turned. He didn’t want to see what could be there. Pity, sadness, disgust, anger, he wanted to see none of that. Swallowing hard and forcing himself to turn, he bit his bottom lip to keep from squirming under Danny’s hand.

Danny said nothing as he moved his hand over to Stiles hurt shoulder. Stiles kept his arms down, but Danny raised his other hand, enclosing it over a necklace that Stiles vaguely remembered Danny wearing all the time.

He heard a muttering under his breath and he felt the warmth in the Hawaiian boy’s hand spring up and then radiate into his shoulder. Stiles looked up in surprise in time to see Danny’s eyes close and his forehead crease in concentration. Stiles saw Danny’s hand glow faintly, a dull, shimmering gold under his palm, that seemed to leak into Stiles’ shoulder, turning his skin a shade darker. 

In a moments time, Danny released his hold on him, his muttering falling silent and his eyes opening. There was faint sheen of sweat on his brow, but it was wiped away when he stepped away.

Returning his gaze to his shoulder, it no longer was red. There was no longer a raised welt of a line there, but now smooth skin with hints of a healing bruise, now yellowish pink. The ache was still there, but it was manageable, far less prominent than it had been. He could feel the warmth from Danny's hand slowly fade as the air around them brushed it away. The only thing that remained was the warmth that was from the spell in his body. It sunk into his muscles, helping to release some of the tension in his shoulders. 

"Better," Danny asked.

Stiles nodded, returning his gaze to his friend. He looked as tired as Stiles felt, but he still had looked to have shadows under his eyes now. Strange those weren't there before were they?

"Thanks," he said giving a small smile.

Danny waved off his gratitude, before allowing Stiles to pass, pulling on his shirt as he did. When they got back into his room, Stiles settled onto his bed. Luna was waiting for them, her tail bouncing on the bed. He patted her soft black and white fur, trailing his hand up and down her neck. She licked at his arm, nestling closer to him, making him smile. He leaned into her, trying to clear his mind, attempting to relax just a little. Danny went over to his desk, looking at his window. Stiles didn't pay much attention, watching at his fingers trailed through Luna's fur, leaving little tracks of lines, before he brushed it all back into place.

"What is this?"

Stiles looked over to see Danny standing by his desk, a piece of paper in his hand. It looked like it had a lot of writing on it. It took Stiles a moment to realize that it was the paper that had the spell he made. He felt his body stiffen and his mouth dry up. Danny held the paper in his hand, his brows creased, his other hand on a red leather book, the one that was about wards and protection spells.

Stiles didn't answer his question, which only spurred Danny on more. The boy raised his eyes to him across the room, his eyes seeming darker in the evening setting sun barely shining in the window. "Stiles what is this?"

It took a few tries for Stiles to swallow properly before answering. "It's nothing. Just some notes."

"Notes written like a verse," Danny said rather tensely. "That read an awful lot like understanding languages and texts. Not to mention other words scrawled and then crossed off, most having similar meanings to words not crossed off in the verse."

"They are notes," Stiles said, getting up to take the paper from Danny who eyed him critically. Stiles took the paper and shoved it in one of the books, then took the stack and brought it over to his bed to shove underneath. He had to find a way to hide his belongings, or at least the ones that might make people question some things. What if it hadn't been Danny looking at the books? What if it was his dad? 

What would his dad think of him reading book in various languages? Even if his dad could understand these languages, what if he learned what these books were about? Stiles was not prepared to have that kind of talk with his dad. He probably would never be ready for it. He had kept the supernatural world from his dad for this long and he would continue to do so. Stiles couldn't risk his dad finding out. It would destroy the man, knowing his son was hiding this from him so that he could protect him. His dad would be furious with Stiles. Thinking he had gone mad, thinking Stiles was irresponsible for not coming to him and intentionally putting himself in danger. Yup, that was not a conversation he wanted to ever have. 

Danny watched him put everything his bed, pushing it back far enough that someone would have to go on their hand and knees to reach. Stiles was thinking that Danny was too quiet when Danny spoke. "Those were not notes were they?"

"Sure they were," he answered quickly, perhaps too quickly.

"No-"

Stiles interrupted with some stammering before actually forming a sentence. He could feel his heart beating faster, knowing that he had been caught. Danny wasn't an idiot. Stiles knew that he would have found out sooner or later, but at the same time, he wished Danny was still in the dark. At least for a little while longer. After the previous conversation he had with Deaton, he supposed it was going to rough waters on this topic.

"My notes are always crammed and don't make much sense. But I can read them. With all these books, I had to write down some things to help organize it all. You try learning all of this and see if you don't feel like getting an aneurysm from so much complicated information."

He forced himself to shut up after that. When he was done with his books he sat back on the bed, taking a little comfort from Luna beside him. No one said anything for a lengthy few minutes. Stiles couldn't tell if Danny was quietly seething or if he was trying to process everything. Stiles was more afraid that boy would start yelling at him. Or worse take away the books and give them back to Deaton. Wait, Danny wouldn't do that would he? He wouldn't take away Stiles' hope to learn his magic right?

He chanced a glance at Danny. The boy indeed looked angry. He eyes were dark and his hand clenched. He looked on the verge of punching the wall, but there was something else in those dark eyes. His eyes never left Stiles, which made him freeze. The look made him shiver.

"You created a spell, didn't you," the Lacrosse goalie said. It was more of statement than a question, but Stiles found himself nodding guiltily anyway.

"Stiles you have no idea how dangerous that is," he yelled. "It could have killed you!"

"I am aware of what could have happened," Stiles said calmly. "But it didn't."

"This time," Danny forced out between clenched teeth. "What happens next time you do something stupid like this? What happens when you become too weak, you become paralyzed, or if the spell alone kills you? What then? Stiles was opening his mouth to argue, but Danny stopped him, moving on. "You do not get to do that again. So long as I am around you do not get to mess with magic regardless on if it will help or not."

Stiles said sarcastically, "Good thing you weren't there the first time."

"Goddamn it Stiles," Danny screamed in anger. "This is not a game! I have seen this happen before. I will not stand by and watch someone else I care about get hurt because of what they think they must do!" Realizing too late what just left his lips, he closed his mouth fast before he could say anything more. Stiles however was looking at him with wide eyes, his curiosity peaked.

"What are you talking about," Stiles asked.

"No," Danny said shaking his head, crossing his arms. "No you do not get to change the subject."

"What do you want me say Danny," Stiles said imploringly. "Do you want me to give you a good reason? Do you want me to tell you that I came up with the idea after I had another nightmare?"

Danny eyes went straight from angry to sad. Stiles didn't mean to mention his nightmares. He didn't mean to bring his shit onto Danny. The boy didn't deserve that. This was Stiles' doing, this was his problem, he could expect Danny to help him after everything he has already done. 

The cat was out of the bag anyway, so might as well rolling with it.

"Because that is all I've got," he said softly. "I came up with the idea to first put wards around the town, hoping that it might make this town feel less like a supernatural hell, but I didn't want to wait. I couldn't read the book in Sanskrit on my own. It would have taken weeks, maybe months for me to decipher it all and then makes sense of it. So out of my own impatience I decided to try another way. So no, I do not have a good reason."

Danny lowered his gaze to floor looking like he should be the one that was guilty. Stiles didn't want to accept that. So he walked up to Danny, leaning against his desk next to him, gently bumping his shoulder. "I'm sorry," he said. "I know I was in the wrong."

Danny shook his head. "No you weren't, not completely. It is only natural, your reaction."

"What do you mean?"

"Your actions stem from your fears." Danny said honestly, keeping his eyes down, maybe afraid to see Stiles' face. "Fear makes people do many things," he said, making Stiles shift uncomfortably, "but you practically run towards them. You work to counter them, even if you are able to do nothing at all. I've noticed that about you."

Stiles scoffed. "Yeah my methods are really something to behold."

Danny chuckled. "They really are. Just, stop putting yourself in danger. Please."

Stiles didn't miss the earnest plea in those words. He didn't know what to feel in that moment. Should he feel happy or sad? He was upset that Danny was angry, hurt that Stiles would be so careless, despite having somewhat good intentions, but he was also happy that Danny seemed to care. Danny cared about him, his well-being. You would think that after these past few months, since the beginning of summer, Stiles would be used to it by now. Maybe it was still the shock of what happened with Scott, not having heard or seen him in months, except from the occasional texts here and there. Stiles didn't want to talk to his once best friend and it wasn't like Scott was making a real effort to see him anyway. Hell Lydia made more effort, in different ways. Surprisingly, even Derek made an effort at the beginning of the summer, but that was more of a "stay away" effort. Pretty much to capitalize his previous statement of wanting Stiles to have nothing to do with his pack.

Of course that didn't stop them from asking for his help with the two missing betas. Stiles was no fool though, he knew he would have looked for them anyway.

But Danny, Danny had been a constant over the months. Aside from originally learning magic from him, he was still there as company. They were hang out at each other's places, watching TV, play games between practicing and Stiles' studying. Stiles hoped that Danny was not hanging around because he felt sorry for him or was afraid he would fall apart if he left. Stiles feared those possibilities even now. But he couldn't deny the hum of magic inside him at the boy's statement. He couldn't ignore the way his heart clenched at the idea of someone other than his dad actually caring about him. 

It made him feel...lighter.

"Okay," he said leaning against the other boy, who leaned back just as much.

The sun was already gone from the sky. Dark blue fading into black as the stars began to pop out across the night sky. It must not have been late, probably a little early, but Stiles didn't care. He didn't know how long they stood there like that, both offering support in the silent house. He still ached from earlier, but that was just a physical problem. Emotionally, he felt drained. He wanted sleep, to crawl into his bed and pass out. He was afraid of seeing the ghostly faces he wished to forget though, but he couldn't ignore the way his eyes were wanting to droop. He figured Danny felt the same. They could deal with everything else in the morning.

"You staying the night," Stiles asked quietly.

Danny nodded, a timid smile on his face. With a simple inclination of his head, Stiles allowed Danny to use the bathroom first. They had the house to themselves so they weren't going to disturb anyone. When Danny left for the bathroom, Luna padded in behind him, hopping up and curling at the foot, her brown eyes on them, already looking half-lidded. Stiles was shrugging off his his shirt carefully, being mindful of his shoulder. It ached, but thanks to Danny's healing it felt better. When Stiles had some rest he would heal it the rest of the way himself. He had practiced a bit more with the healing spells that he learned from Deaton's books. They were better than Danny's spell, but they were a little more complex, not to mention draining. These spells were bigger than Danny's, which meant that they siphoned off his energy more. He didn't want to get a nose bleed again.

When Danny came back in, he was shirtless, wearing only a pair of black boxers. Stiles tried to hide the scoff that escape, but he failed. Danny gave a smirk before he fell on the bed, shaking Luna a bit who crossed her front paws and gave Danny a huff. Stiles just tilted his head, looking at the boy on his bed who was closing his eyes, prepared to sleep.

With fond shake of his head, he headed to the bathroom to relieve himself, brush his teeth and splash cold water on his face. He changed into a loose T-shirt and pajama shorts. Heading back into his room, he shoved Danny aside to push him closer to the wall so he could get under his covers. Settling on his back, he stared at the ceiling, feeling soft breathing of his friend beside him, the warmth coming from his body only a few inches away from him.

"If you wanted to sleep in my bed all you had to do was ask," Stiles commented.

Danny chuckled. "I thought it be better to just climb in and not say anything."

Silence passed for a few heartbeats. Both taking in the settling atmosphere and listening to the quiet sounds of each other breathing and soft snores of Luna at the foot of the bed, her weight curling around their legs. 

"Danny,” Stiles spoke into the dark room. 

“Hm?”

"I’m still not into you." Stiles muttered. 

Danny laughed quietly, shaking the bed before they both started to doze off. Eventually their breathing turned heavier. Stiles didn’t want to sleep, fearful of where his dreams will take him tonight, but with Danny and Luna nearby, he hoped he didn’t have much to worry about. 

He couldn’t fight off his exhaustion, so slowly his eyes fell closed, bringing the sweet blissful state of sleep to his body.

 

* * * * * * *

“Stiles!”

He heard his name being called behind him. Turning around, a guy with aviator sunglasses was waving at him a crooked smile on his face.

Stiles stopped walking to stare at the man. He was coming back from getting some lunch in town after his morning session with Chris. He was sore, still a little sweaty, but he felt better than he had the day before. He needed to work out his extra frustration. Mostly that frustration was aimed at himself, but he wouldn't tell Danny that. His training was getting more intense as the weeks ticked by. Chris starting to train him on weaponry and knives just to start out, but mostly still sparring with one another. He was getting better and Chris was pleasantly surprised how much Stiles was countering when he needed to. The more Chris taught him, the more Stiles pushed himself, trying to do better and learned intently. It was safe to say all the sweat he worked off was not just do to cardio and weight training and he was strangely proud about that. He never sweat so hard playing lacrosse and even then that never amounted to anything except that one game. The one game on the night that changed him. In what way he wasn't completely sure yet.

After stopping for a quick bite, he was heading back to his jeep, having walked a block to help clear his head, but also prolong his time to himself. It had been a couple days he had not been alone for longer than an hour at most. Danny was constantly around, trying to get him to talk to Deaton about the spell he created, not to mention practice with him. Although Stiles suspected Danny was more trying to keep an eye on him since the aftermath with the elves.

However, they were working on ways to try and track Erica and Boyd. Thanks to Stiles' spell, he was able to read Deaton's books faster and there were interesting possibilities that they were working on trying. Stiles wanted to try a tracking spell now, but unfortunately they needed a few things. As Danny once told him before, he needed something personal from them. That was not exactly easy to get. He supposed he could try to get something from each of their houses, but it wasn't like he could waltz through the door and rummage through their belongings to try and find something personal to them. Danny was trying to look up other ways, but so far everything was saying they need a piece of them, something for magic to hold onto.

Stiles was just exhausted. Don't get him wrong he loved Danny and he was amazing to have around, but Stiles also wanted some time to think. Time to process everything. His nightmares were not helping anything, but at least he had plenty to distract him, much to Danny's dismay when he came down earlier that morning before Stiles left, making the excuse of going to bring his dad breakfast since he left early that morning. He still was not ready to tell Danny about his training with Chris. Stiles having already been up for a while, woken by a nightmare, and currently downing another cup of coffee with shadows under his eyes. Stiles was already accepting of those new fashion statement to his look. It was either those or waking up screaming from the terrors that haunted him.

The guy that called him was with three other people standing back with the man each with slightly confused looks on their faces. Two other guys, each fairly young, but looked a little older than the one who was waving at Stiles. There was also a woman, with blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail. They all looked identical. Not in a sibling kind of way, but when in terms of dress. 

They each had on tan colored short sleeve shirts and regular jeans. But the shirts had a logo on it. Dark red crest over their hearts, with what looked like a a helmet in the center.

The man that called his name was walking towards him now leaving the rest of his friends behind, the smile still on his face. Stiles recognized that face the closer it got. Apart from the aviators covering most of his face, Stiles felt like he knew this person. Obviously this guy knew him. 

“Hello?” He said a little cautious of supposed stranger.

The guy chuckled when he was a few steps away. “Forgot about me already? Ouch.”

When Stiles just raised an eyebrow the guy pulled his sunglasses off, revealing the rest of his face and sapphire blue eyes. 

“Ryan.” Stiles said a little too loudly before reigning in his volume. He couldn’t tell if it was his surprise that caused his outburst or his relief.

"That is my name,” he said looking downward. The right side of his shirt had his name in red letters. The other side with the logo. Indeed it was a helmet in the center of the design. A firefighter helmet, with a small ax at the bottom of it. Beacon Hills Fire Department circling the logo. 

“Your are fireman.” He found himself saying. No wonder he had seen him before. He had seen him around town during the occasional fires and maybe once or twice when he happened to notice crime scenes.

”Paramedic actually,” he said with a shrug.

That made even more sense about why he was around town. Up close in the outside light, the guy didn’t seem much older than him. Stiles was almost seventeen, so by sheer estimation alone, he guess this guy was Derek’s age. Maybe a year younger.

"Wow," Stiles said honestly. “Um...I thought I had seen you before.”

Ryan nodded with a small smile. “Yeah, I started at the station a few months ago after getting out of school.”

“How old are you?” After realizing he couldn’t exactly take the question back, he tried to smooth over his rude question with a statement. “You look young to be an EMT.”

Ryan gave him a slightly cocky grin but he answered not unkindly, “I’ll be twenty-one this coming November.”

"Cool," Stiles said feeling a little awkward. He tried not to fidget from his nerves, but maybe he wasn't succeeding from the way Ryan eyed him and his shifting from foot to foot. "Are you just getting off," Stiles asked, glancing briefly at the other fighter's where they talked amongst themselves as they waited for Ryan.

"No, we were just on a lunch break," Ryan said, with a quick look over his shoulder. "I didn't expect to see you around."

Stiles scoffed. "Yeah, of course I would be. I am always around. Here and there, I'll pop up when you don't always know it. Yup, just boom, pop and here I am," he shut up then, feeling his face go red that had nothing to do with the heat of the sun.

Ryan laughed. Stiles couldn't help but smile at the sound. It was unexpected, how it seemed to be so easy for the guy. At the softly melodic laugh, Stiles found himself relaxing a little more. He saw Ryan's eyes crinkle at the corners as he smiled, his white teeth showing under his lips. Stiles would be a fool to say the guy was unattractive. The man was the opposite of that. In the light of the sun, the guy looked a little more tan than he did in the shop. Stretching over muscles that Stiles didn't notice until now. He wasn't as big as Derek, just a little smaller, but he was no sloth in the gym. He had a lean look, with muscles that stemmed from ample time in exercise between shifts. His short, lightly styled hair was still light brown, but with strands of highlights, turning the brown to honey and blonde in some places. The stubble on his face was the same, often reflecting the light as he moved, turning his hair a little lighter. His eyes, well, there was no other way to describe them but as sparkling jewels. They were like the deep blue ocean.

Yeah the guy was good looking. It made Stiles blush harder and also question why the guy was talking to him at all.

"That you do," Ryan said with his smile still plastered on his face.

"Yeah," Stiles said, feeling like he needed to start leaving before he rambled some more. "Well you need to get back to work and I need to actually find a job." That actually wasn't false. He did need to find something to occupy his time. It didn't go unnoticed how other people his age were earning money and he wasn't. Look at Scott at Deaton's clinic and Danny at his grandmother's and being a coach at the Little Tyke's League for the elementary school. 

He was turning to go when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He moved quickly away from it in reaction, turning to see that it Ryan. It wasn't anyone else. It was not Grant or Gerard, or anyone trying to kill him. At least he hoped not. He had to feign surprise than fear, but he wasn't sure if he succeeded. He didn't feel like he did, but Ryan didn't seem to notice, he just lowered his hand, his expression looking a little unsure. 

"Look," he began, starting to twitched and rub the pads of his index finger and thumb together in nervous succession. "I actually wanted...um..." He seemed to stutter for a moment, nothing passing his lips as they moved just a little, looking like they wanted to form words, but he didn't voice them. "Do you want to get some coffee sometime," Ryan asked quickly, before looking down at the concrete.

Stiles was stunned into a tongue tied stillness. He was not expecting that. Of all the ways he thought this conversation to go, he did not see Ryan asking to see him again. What should he say?

He didn't know the guy, but he seemed sweet and nice. Yeah, Stiles knew perfectly well, somewhat better than anyone that first impressions are deceiving and people have more faces than a princess cut diamond. But still, did he want to? Was this like a date? So what if it was, it wasn't like Stiles was oppose to it. I mean look at the guy! Also, let's point out that Stiles was not against the either genders. He told Danny he was bisexual, even his dad knew that. So it wouldn't be a stretch or anything.

He wasn't sure though. He still didn't know the guy. Of course that was how it was supposed to work. Two strangers going out for a drink, lunch or dinner, what have you, learning about one another, finding out if they are compatible to see if time would be good to them. To see if the two could become a they. Stiles didn't have experience in that department. He was far from it. Stiles was the eccentric, talkative, flailing boy who got into other people's business. He had no prospects in the dating scene. He wasn't lying when he told Danny he had two crushes in his life, both extremely out of his league, neither ever going to happen for multiple reasons.

Lydia was a crush of the past. Once upon a time he thought she was the best person on the planet. The goddess of Beacon Hills. Beautiful, smart, charisma to match her wits. In a lot of ways she still was. It was just his affections were misplaced. His love for her was more out of a desire to know her. He just wanted to be a person in her life, not a bystander. Maybe he still could be. It would take time to build up a real friendship, but after their last conversation, where he laid it all on the line for her, he wasn't sure if that friendship would build. Then why did she call me that night, he thought to himself.

Derek, however, well that was more impossible than Lydia. His crush on Derek was rather short lived, but he couldn't deny that it was there. He admired the man. His strength, not his werewolf strength, but his character. The man had lost so much where he has a right to never want to get up every morning and face the world yet he did anyway. He tried to take Scott under his wing to teach him, help him however he could. He helped three teenagers overcome their troubles, leave their past behind them so they could make a future. Of course Stiles did not agree with his methods on things and the turning of teenagers was reckless he had to admit, but he still saw some parts of the good. He didn't know if Derek saw them, but he did.

Yeah of course, the guy was easy on the eyes. Stiles even admired a little of that from afar when they were not arguing or running for their lives. He wasn't sure when his crush ended or if it ended at all.

He just felt a detachment to the Alpha werewolf. Maybe it was after that night, when Derek said he was not pack, that he would never trust him. After hearing how Derek saw him, as a manipulative child, he felt...empty. He felt hollow at the mention of Derek's name. He felt a weight around his gut that seemed to want to pull him into the ground.

Before he used to feel different. Maybe a skip in his heart, butterflies in his stomach. Definitely annoyance and slightly intimidated. But once he felt-dare he say it-safe with the man. Now, he wasn't sure how to feel.

So why should he care about his past? He was a mage after all. He was still figuring out what that meant and he still needed to talk to Deaton about it, but that had to mean something right. He had magic and was learning from a retired Druid and hunter. He had faced scarier things alone with far less, so what was a potential date. Maybe it wasn't a date. It could be just a get together with a potential new friend.

It wasn't like Stiles had an endless supply of those.

Ryan was still waiting for an answer, looking more discouraged by the minute. He was down casting his eyes every couple of seconds, most likely not wanting to pressure Stiles by scrutinizing him, expecting an answer. He was still rubbing his fingers together, his shoulders seeming to hunch just a little as Stiles thought over his answer. What the hell was Stiles waiting for anyway?

"Sure," he said finally.

Ryan looked up at him in shock, before a broad smile stretched across his face. The tips of his ears turned pink, but it did little to hide the beaming smile. Stiles couldn't help but give a little smile in return.

"Okay," Ryan said nodding his head. "Okay, alright. Yeah. Um...I don't know what your schedule is like. Uh...how about later this week on Friday. I have the late shift so I can meet you around lunch time."

Stiles nodded his head, the smile growing a little at watching the man stumble over his words. At least Stiles wasn't the only to do that. "That's fine. I have no plans. Free."

"Great," he said. "Where would you like to go? Any place special, simple, little of both?"

He shook his head, moving his shirt just a little to get some air down there against his suddenly hot torso. "I'm fine with the cafe on Crescent Street."

Ryan nodded, his smile still in place. His eyes seemed to sparkle in the sunlight. "Okay sounds good. Yeah."

Thankfully Ryan was called by one of his friends from the station, saving both of them from an further potential embarrassment. They would have plenty of that later. Ryan looked behind him quickly giving a quick wave before turning back to Stiles. His smile faltered just a bit, but his face was still flush. Stiles felt much the same way. He didn't know how to do any of this. He was a newbie to it all. It was a small comfort that it seemed Ryan was just as nervous as he was, but Stiles doubted the guy had as little experience as he did.

"So I guess I will see you Friday," Ryan asked, looking a little unsure.

Stiles nodded shyly. "I'll be there around one?"

Ryan smiled, brilliant white teeth shining through. "Okay," he said.

"Okay."

Ryan left him then, stepping back a few steps before turning away. Stiles watched a few second more, watching the lean guy get back to his friends before heading back to his jeep. When he finally got inside, he was trying not to have a freak out.

Did he mention he had not done this before?

He didn't know what do, how to handle this. What should he wear? Should he tell Danny? No wait bad idea, Danny would probably find a reason to tag along and if he didn't have one, he would certainly tail Stiles there. Danny would no doubt make fun of him for a while, before ultimately trying to help him. Either possibility was not appealing. Stiles didn't know how to feel about all of this. Ryan seemed like a nice guy. Stiles did not expect the request, but it wasn't like he was opposed to the idea. The man was fine, so it wasn't like it was a terrible decision. Of course it made Stiles wonder what the guy saw in him. He was lithe and awkward. It made no sense.

Wait, what am I thinking, he thought. I'm awesome!

Oh this was going to nag at him for the next few days. He was sure he was going to have a mild panic attack about an hour before he to meet Ryan but he would deal with that later. Right now he kind of wanted to bask in the knowledge that he had a date. A date! With a guy. At one point in time he imagined his first date being with Lydia. Such a magical date it would be, but yeah, that was sadly not going to happen. But Stiles was not disheartened.

He had a date dammit and he was going to worry about it later. He had a date with a good looking guy and he felt a little giddy about it.

 

* * * * * * *

He saw the hooded figure standing by the large stump, his pale hand coasting over it, almost reverent. What made him catch his breath was the hand looked human. Pale skin over bone and muscles, as human as his own. Long figures, slender fingers, dancing over the tree in fluid movements. What the was going on here? The air around the figure was shimmering in a way. Like a mirage on the air or a lot of rising heat. As Stiles stared, the distortion got worse, twisting around the figure and the tree. Like image on the surface of water, Stiles saw the figure put both hands on the tree, throwing it's head back towards the sky.

Stepping away from the scene, Stiles wanted to get as far away as possible. Only his right foot stepped on a twig, a loud crack ringing through the quiet woods. The figure turned it's head in his directions, the shadows of the hood covering the face, except for the glowing pale blue eyes. 

He didn't have time to move before he had someone slamming into him, pulling him off his feet and then shoving him against a tree where his legs gave out and he fell to the ground. The weight that was on his body disappeared, leaving him trying to take big lungfuls of breath, before he opened his eyes. Thankfully he didn't hit his head. He was startled to see Boyd standing in front of him, Erica close behind.

Both had equally menacing looks on their young faces. Erica was regarding him like a fly not worth her time, while Boyd looked to be holding back growls. Before either they or Stiles could say anything, he was face with the hooded figure who stepped around the tree into Stiles' line of sight. The piercing blue eyes were like knives into Stiles body, like two icy daggers knocking the wind out him. The hooded figure seemed to glare at him and somehow Stiles got the sense that it was smiling at him.

Stiles barely remembered coming into the forest, but then he never did when it came to his dreams. He scarcely remembered falling asleep in his room, if that is where he actually was. He vaguely remembered passing a few trees, feeling like he was heading to some place, but didn't know where. He still felt the tugging sensation in his chest. His magic was pulsing inside him, like it was trying to tell him something, but he didn't know what. As like the last time, he found himself wandering around, seeming aimlessly in any direction, only to find himself returning to that damn stump with the figure that seemed to have it out for him.

Lucky him to be right back where he never wished he wanted to be. Only this time, he didn't expect to be so close to the figure. This close he could feel something from the figure. He couldn't explain it. It was like a tingling under his skin. His magic seemed to react to it, seeming unsettled and as antsy as he was. It was like a sense he got around certain people a couple times before. Like with Peter, even with Derek.

It was like a screaming exclamation mark in his head. Screaming that they were not what they seemed. There was something more.

"Well as always you can't keep your nose away," Boyd said coldly, bring his attention back to them.

Stiles tried not to see the pale blue eyes in front of him. He could feel a tremor running through his body, but he did what he could to keep it down. He couldn't let them see it. "Well you know me," he said feigning toughness. "I am naturally inquisitive."

"A fatal flaw," Erica said with an evil smirk. She moved forward, her claws extending. Stiles didn't have time to flinch away when the hooded figure moved, holding up a hand, warding her off. 

Stiles didn't miss the disappointed look on her face, her eyes gleaming just once before she backed up. Stiles didn't like that she seemed to consent to this figure so easily. He wasn't Derek, he wasn't their Alpha. It didn't make sense and it definitely didn't set well with Stiles.

"What do you want with me," Stiles asked the figure.

He didn't expect an answer, so it surprised him when he got one. The harshly cold voice ringing in his ears. "Out of my way."

He should have expected the grab to the throat but his eyes didn't catch the movement before it was too late. Stiles felt his hand, cold to the touch, close around his neck, constricting it so tight that Stiles barely got a breath before it happened. He felt his body being risen from the ground, the figure rising with him. He tried to kick out, but his body was unresponsive. The lack of air keeping him from moving. He tried to pry the hand away from him, nails digging into the skin. It did nothing but make the hand squeeze tighter. He felt his throat grow hot, a mixture of searing cold and burning fire. It made him want to cry out in pain but the vice around his neck prevented him from taking in a breath let alone speaking. In the next moment he was thrown to the side, his body rushing into the air before he hit the ground hard.

Coughing and rolling to the side, he heaved air into his throat. It burned as it passed his lips, his chest rising and falling too quickly. The little bits of air he could gather were too small to help his aching lungs. Instinctively he reached for his neck, tenderly brushing his fingers against the no doubt bruised skin. It stung as he made contact, the burning of pulling air into his throat and in his lungs was like he swallowed a hot branding iron. He turned his head to the side where the figure was still standing, Erica and Boyd beside it, both with smirks on their faces.

He didn't bother saying anything because he didn't get the chance to before he heard movement coming from his other side. Gingerly turning his head he saw Gerard and Grant stepping around the large stump, identical looks of evil joy on their faces. The other hunters were behind them, each looking like giddy kids on Christmas, like they were about to be treated with some presents. Another movement to ahead of him made him look towards the thicker tree line. Kyram and Flynn both stepped from behind the trees, hands balancing their weapons nimbly, smug looks on their faces, their deep green eyes matching the forest behind them.

Stiles was practically surrounded. He felt fear plant itself firmly in his chest, his pulse pounding like a jack hammer in his body, his gut fluttering like millions of tiny wings. This wasn't nervousness, this was downright terror. Here he was surrounded by the people he made enemies with. The hunters, the elves, all looking at him with predatory eyes. He wanted to cry out for Erica and Boyd to help him, but as they stood there with equal parts satisfaction and deadly glee on their faces, he didn't think it would matter. He knew they hated him for leaving them. He knew they wanted him to suffer like they did.

No they wouldn't be able to help him.

As the others closed in on him, he tried one last attempt in hopes of making a run for it. Gathering the magic he could feel under his skin, the thrumming fire inside his chest, he willed it out, shoving it past his body around him. He hoped it would throw all them away from him, maybe even stun them for a time. He couldn't think of a spell to do that with his mind racing, his throat searing both inside and out, and his fear rising. So he tried for whatever, only nothing happened.

No magic, no release of the pressure inside him, no pulse of energy sending his enemies away from him. He tried again, all of them getting closer, smirks on their faces. Reaching deeper inside him, he felt the warmth spread over his body, down his arms and legs. This time trying to use his hands as the exit point, he willed his magic to respond. Nothing happened, this time it was like he pushed out a tidal wave only for it to roll back into him, making it feel like he just got punched.

What happened to his magic?

There was laughter around him, coming from almost everyone. Mostly he heard the chilling, ghostly laugh of the hooded one. His glowing eyes burning into his body like his hand was. "Try your magic all you want," it said. "I assure you it won't work."

"Wha-What did you do to me," Stiles spat breathlessly.

Erica answered for the thing. "Just blocked your magic. Just to make things more interesting."

He could try to deny her words. He could try to force his magic out, try anything. Conjure fire, move the earth, levitate something. Yet he could feel his magic under his skin, wanting to respond to him, but unable to do anything more than pressed up against his skin, nothing more than a silent supporter. This couldn't be happening to him. This wasn't real. It couldn't be.

"This is just a dream, this is just a dream, this is just a dream," Stiles said making those words into a mantra. It did nothing for what he saw. Grant and the hunters in front, all with dark smiles on their faces. Gerard stepping to the side to stand by the betas. The elves joining the hunters.

"No, it is not little boy," Grant said with a grin. The man through him a knife that Stiles barely caught without cutting himself. Stiles stared at the cold blade in his hand then looked at Grant with wide eyes.

"What are you doing?"

Grant shrugged. "I am having my fun."

Stiles clutched the knife in his hand, feeling it grow clammy with sweat. He looked at Grant with no doubt a lot fear in his eyes as the man's smile widened. He saw the other hunters, Kyram and Flynn moved around them, creating a wide circle. They locked him and Grant inside. With an expert twist, Grant held his knife backwards, blade towards his body. His grip loose, but controlled. 

They were going to make him fight. Stiles realized this a bit too late as Grant moved. Stiles didn't have time to shrink back or put up any defense as he felt the knife slide down across his thigh, tearing through his jeans and into his skin. Blood welled up a little, but it wasn't a bit wound. It was was mostly shallow. Stiles looked back up to meet Grant's cold eyes.

"You might want to do something beside stand there," he purred. "I like it when my toys fight back."

The sounds of laughter around him made his heart sink. He looked from Grant to the knife in his hand then back up again. There was no choice. He couldn't tell if this was a dream anymore. The pain in his leg made it feel real. The sheer fear he had radiating through him felt real. The constant hum of his magic under his skin made it feel real. The only problem was that he couldn't use it now. He was powerless. His magic would not help him now. Like last time, he was just a kid with nothing special to help, facing a bunch of hunter's with skills they learned from years of experience and practice. Not to mention elves who were however old, with possibly hundreds of years of deadly skills.

This had to be a nightmare. It had to be. 

Then why won't I wake up, he thought.

 

* * * * * * *

Danny woke up to the sounds of whimpering and deep breathing. He was on his side, feeling the warmth of another body on his back. He could feel the movement of said body against him, barely brushes of contact, but enough to notice. He knew it was still late, or maybe early. After spending the evening with Stiles, just watching Netflix and playing games, they decided to finally call it a night. They didn't practice magic today, wanting instead to just hang out. After the what happened in the forest with the elves, they just wanted a day to be teenagers. Danny suggested that, still feeling mildly sad about Stiles' admitting what he did out of his nightmares, but it seemed Stiles was all for it. 

Rolling over, he turned to look at Stiles, preparing himself to start shaking him awake from another nightmare. Only what he saw, he wasn't exactly prepared for.

He first noticed the room. It was dark, but he could make out different items floating a few feet off their original surfaces. In the sliver of pale light from the moon from the window, he saw outlines of each of Stiles' possessions in the air, hovering steadily. Luna was by their feet, whining softly, her eyes going back and forth between the floating objects and Stiles who seemed frozen frozen from his neck down. Danny remembered Stiles moving the last time something like this happened. And even so Stiles was never this still. The boy's face were the only muscles moving, twisting into grimaces and gasps and pants leaving his lips. Danny reached over to turn on the lamp light on the nightstand, illuminating the room in a yellow glow.

He didn't need to see what all was floating around the room, his main concern was Stiles. Luna was inching closer to them, her paws on Stiles body, her whining becoming louder.

"Shh," he said to help calm her. "It's just a nightmare." If his own voice faltered a bit, he decided not to dwell on it. When he turned his eyes back to the boy beside him, he froze.

Stiles face was pale, lightly coated in sweat. Nothing unusual about his normal look when has a nightmare, but this time, there was purple and red bruises on his neck. Inching closer, Danny felt his blood run cold as he noticed the distinctive shape of fingers circling around the smooth skin. Danny could have sworn those were not there before they went to bed. It was not possible for him to not noticed before. The bruises were a stark contrast to his normal skin color, standing out ugly and noticeable no matter which direction you would be facing.

He couldn't think about how Stiles had gotten it and so quickly. It didn't make sense. As a Rubik's cube floated by his head, he started to remember the last time this all happened. The last time he witness Stiles having a nightmare like this, one where he woke up trying to pull deep lungfuls of breath into his body and a bruised welt on his shoulder blade.

Danny felt the dread settle in his chest before he shoved the covers off of them, kneeling partially on the bed as he leaned over Stiles.

“Stiles wake up." He tried first, lightly shaking his shoulder, trying to coax him gently into opening his eyes. He would probably curse himself later if it was nothing and Stiles laughed at him for making such a fuss. However, the large bruise around his friend's throat was not something he was mistaking. It stared at him like it was a red flag.

When Stiles didn't wake up, his face distorted into a deep frown, followed by a grimace, his head turning to the side back and forth twice, he tried again. "Come on wake up. It’s just a nightmare."

Still nothing. He was starting to panic. Danny shook him harder, making his head roll a little with the movement. "Stiles, wake up. Wake up now."

He tried to pat against his cheek, softly at first, then building up to an annoying love tap. All the while saying his name, trying to get him to open his eyes. All to no avail and Danny was really starting to worry. Luna was no better, her head now on Stiles' stomach, soft growls and whine escaping her throat.

"Wake up! Stiles, come on, wake up!

Luna barked with him, both of them trying to wake up their friend.

"Stiles," Danny yelled, his heart beating rapidly in his chest. The fluttering feeling of fear running through his body with each passing moment.

If Danny was too focused on Stiles to notice Noah Stilinski standing in the room;s threshold a look of fear and worry on his face, then who could blame him.

Chapter Text

“What the hell is going on,” the Sheriff asked as he stormed into the room. 

Danny looked at him with wide eyes, panic stricken eyes. Deep brown turned into almost black with worry. Noah came into the room, finding Danny over his son’s sleeping form, trying to get him to wake up. When he came into the house, he could hear him from dounstairs, calling out to Stiles. Luna barking and whining as the boy shook at his son in an effort for movement 

When he came close, he didn’t miss how Danny leaned over Stiles just a little more, almost seeming to protect him. He couldn’t see Stiles face with Danny in his like of sight, but he could tell something was obviously wrong. 

He noticed Danny looking nervously at the floating objects in the room. A watch that Stiles never really wore hovering on its own near his shoulder. Noah didn’t care, he just stared at the two boys. He eyes transfixed on Stiles’ still form.

”Danny what is going on,” he asked taking s step closer, angling his head so he could try and see Stiles’ face. 

“He...he won’t...he won’t wake up,” Danny stumbled getting over his shock of Noah being there. He kept eyeing the weightless belongings, his eyes going a little comically wide as if he thought he was the only one to see them. “He’s having a nightmare. I can’t wake him up.”

Noah sat down on the bed next to Danny, pulling Stiles’ right arm to him. Giving it a few tugs. Noah tried calling out his son’s name and was met with silence. Danny didn’t move from his spot, his eyes dark, echoing his own growing suspicion and concern.

When he saw the bruises on Stiles’ neck, his blood went cold. He angled Stiles’ head so he could see them better. He noted the purple and red marking, eerily similar to hand prints. He looked at Danny, the kid looking back with fear on his face. Noah could feel the anger rising in his chest as he looked from Danny to his son’s neck. 

“Did you do this,” Noah asked quietly, etched with dangerous undertone. He prayed Danny didn’t. He liked the kid, but he would never let him get away with hurting his son.

Danny shook his head quickly, his nearly black eyes wide and glistening with tears. “I found him like this. I woke up and he was whimpering and breathing heavily.”

When Noah looked skeptical, Danny pressed on. His voice a little shaky, but stern in his tone. “I wouldn’t hurt him. I found him like this. I thought he might have done himself, but he would have woken up if he had. I don’t understand how.”

Noah wasn’t sure if he believe Danny. The boy was convincing he would give him that. He really did like Danny. Stiles and him seemed to be as thick as thieves lately. Given Scott seemed to be more or less MIA, he couldn’t help but revisit his earlier assumptions that Danny and his son were dating.

The kid was wearing a T-shirt and boxers, in bed with Stiles, for who knows how many hours, while Noah himself had just gotten home 15 minutes ago. To a hormonal teenagers that was a good life.

He wasn’t opposed to it. Far from it, but after Stiles denied strenuously any kind of romantic involvement with Danny he decided to believe him. Yet he wasn’t sure. There were signs. Those signs could be misinterpreted, but then thy couldn’t. To Noah the only times this signs were misinterpreted was when it was Scott involved. Maybe Danny really was just friends with Stiles? Noah wasn’t sure, but would be getting to the bottom of it.

“So, you work up and found him like this, bruised and still asleep,” Noah asked, hearing how it sounded crazy even to him.

Danny nodded. “I don’t know how it happened. But I didn’t do that.”

The vehemence in his voice made Noah relax just a little. Danny might not hurt Stiles, but he was still concerned about his son with dee bruises on his neck and not awake to notice it.  

Stiles having nightmares were nothing knew. Even as a kid he had them and they were usually due to come around when he was really stressed out. The worst of his terrors was when his mother was in the hospital getting worse and then afternoon she died. Noah would wake almost every night to his son screaming and crying. He was happy to know that Stiles hadn’t been having nightmares for a while, even after all of these supernatural shenanigans, at least that is what he believed up until now.

There is already a lot Stiles was trying to keep from him. Was he keeping his nightmares a secret too? It wasn’t like Noah was often home at night to tell, so it was possible. That made his stomach twist and his desire to wake Stiles up stronger. He didn’t care about the floating things around the room, he cared about why his son was not opening his eyes.

Stiles was barely making a sound beneath them, whimpering and breathing out gasps here and there, but otherwise he was quiet. His head was turning to the sides, he was avoiding something. Noah tried to shake him, a little harder rattling his head a little into his pillow, still nothing. This wasn’t right, Noah thought. This is not like his usual nightmares. And the bruises on his neck were too jarring to not worry.

There have been time Stiles did not wake up easily, but never like this. It made Noah’s hair rise on his arms and his chest  clench.

"Was he doing magic before he fell asleep,” Noah asked, shocking Danny out of his own thoughts.

The boy looked like he didn’t know what to say. His eyes remained like saucers and his mouth opening and closing like a fish. No doubt he was stumbling over the right words to use here. Noah knew that Danny knew about the supernatural. He hadn’t been sure, but seeing him more and more around Stiles and occasionally seen with some of the others, Noah thought it best to assume. Also since the Lacrosse goalie didn’t seem particularly surprised about the empty Red Bull can hanging above his head told Noah that he might know a thing or two.

"I...uh...no he wasn’t. We just went to sleep.” Danny said his dark eyes confused and aflutter. Then going a little accusatory as he spoke what he wanted to from the beginning. “Wait, you know?”

Noah nodded. “I do and I have for quite a long while.”

“But Stiles...he...” Danny no doubt was probably going to say that Stiles didn’t know that Noah knew. That he had been trying to hide it from him. Noah has heard enough of that for a while. Seeing his son this still and not opening his eyes, it was not helping him in his guilt with what he has been keeping from him too.

"Stiles doesn’t know, I realize that,” Noah said, trying to reign in his annoyance. It was more due to himself than Danny. He understood the kid’s surprise, given how he inadvertently has been hiding Stiles’ secrets from Noah as well. “That I will fix, but he needs to wake up first.”

"Last time this happened, it took me almost ten minutes to wake him,” Danny offered.

"So this has happened before,” Noah said, feeling his stomach flutter and then drop like a weight. Stiles has gone through this before and he didn’t know.

When Danny didn’t answer, just tried to shake Stiles, Noah got his answer. That caused him to become more antsy. This was not a normal nightmare, anyone could see that. Stiles would have woken up from them doing what they could to shake him back to consciousness. Maybe this was a magic problem? Maybe something had gone wrong?

"Call Deaton,” he said to Danny quickly reaching into his pocket to pull out his phone tapping it once to unlock it and handing it him. 

“What?”

"Call him, tell him what is happening,” he said. When the boy made no sudden movements he looked at him, seeing the confusion and surprised on his face. “Now Danny.”

The kid didn’t hesitate then, dialing the number quickly. Noah didn’t miss how the boy seemed to pull the number from his mind, but he said nothing. His attention went back to Stiles, lingering on the grimacing face and the deep bruises on his neck. He never felt so useless in his life than he did right then. He could feel his own panic grip behind his ribs, holding him to they spot as Danny conversed with Deaton in the hall. 

Noah didn’t hear the words being said, but he didn’t care. He just kept looking at Stiles. Holding his too still body into his lap. Deaton will fix this he thought to himself. He will fix it. 

 

* * * * * * *

To Danny’s surprise Deaton arrived quickly, not 15 minutes after he got off the phone with him. He told him everything, running through it without much of a breath, the whole time the vet stayed quiet taking it all in. When he was done, the vet said he would be there soon and then hung up. 

Danny was surprised but grateful for how serious Deaton was taking this, but then he never really saw the man taking anything but serious. So when he arrived with a couple knocks on the door, Danny ran downstairs, leaving Noah in the room with Stiles. Opening the door, he found the vet standing there a deep frown on his face. He had a black case in his hand, which was gripping the handle tightly.

Danny stepped to the side to allow Deaton in. Before he even finished stepping through the threshold he was speaking. "Where is he?"

"In his room."

Deaton was moving before Danny finished, heading up the stairs. Upon entering the room, Noah looked at Deaton with so much worry that Danny's heart constricted. Deaton took one look at the room, eyeing the levitating objects curiously, before he went to the beside, brushing past the suspended objects lithely and kneeling down. This was the second time Danny had seen Deaton in this position, kneeling beside Stiles while he was asleep on his bed, tending to him like a doctor who made a house call. This time though Deaton was not pulling out bandages to wrap broken ribs, nor treat burns and stitch up cuts. This time, it was more of a clinical approach to the vital signs. Checking his pulse, examining the dark bruise around his throat, looking over his torso for any more apparent injuries, monitoring his breathing. He had a stethoscope around his neck, listening to every movement and sound Stiles made. It wasn't until Deaton took a small flashlight out of his case and opened one of Stiles' eyes that they all noticed they were glowing. Beautiful copal, shimmering, and brilliant.

But they were unseeing. His pupils dilated and unmoving.

When Danny sat on the edge of the bed, Luna beside him, silently whining and cuddling into his side, still perched half on Stiles' legs, he got a good look at Deaton's face. The man was frowning so hard, he thought his face would crack. He couldn't be sure, but it looked strangely like worry, deep worry on the ex-Emissary's features.

"Well," Noah Stilinski asked, beside Stiles, worry clear in his voice, mirroring the lines on his forehead and mouth. "What is going on Alan?"

Wow Danny was going to have to get used to Noah knowing about the supernatural. He was more than interested in seeing how Stiles would react to this. It was weird hearing the man say Deaton's name. Sure Danny knew Deaton had a first name, but Danny couldn't remember the last time he had heard it. It was like second nature to refer to the vet by his surname and nothing more. But seeing as how both men knew each other, and that was in a long history sense, it was making Danny's head spin.

The chocolate colored man seemed to sigh heavily, sitting back a little on his knees, his hand still on Stiles' pulse point. "It is safe to say this is not a form of sleep."

"Then what is it." Noah asked with another frown line appearing if that was even possible.

Deaton sat back fully, taking his hand away, scratching the back of his neck as he tried to think of what to say. "Well, his pulse is not calm, rather it is fast like he is experiencing something stressful, the bruises, his magic reacting to his emotions, deep unconsciousness that outside forces have no effect on..." The man stopped, ticking off every problem like it was part of his list. Danny could practically see the wheels in the man's brain turning as he thought. "This is all part of the problem."

"Oh for God's sake man, beat around the bush a little more please,” Danny said in clear annoyance. 

Deaton went on, pretending to not hear Danny. “He is too deep in his subconscious. There is no easy way to bring him out of it.”

"So...a trance," Danny asked.

Deaton shook his head slowly. "A trance is breakable and his magic would not react the way that it is," he said looking around at the still hovering possessions.

"So what is this," the Sheriff asked looking around before gesturing to his very still son.

"I believe his magic is manifesting itself on it's own."

"It's hurting him," Noah said, the volume of his voicing rising in worry.

"No," Danny said strongly. "His magic would never hurt him. It needs him. A Spark will not survive without it's body. Not to mention those bruises look like hand prints."

Deaton nodded, rubbing a hand down his face. His dark eyes were darting from Stiles, to a floating mini-stabler overhead, then back at Stiles again. "This could be astral projection."

"What," both Danny and Noah said together. Noah out of confusion, Danny more from shock.

"It's an out of body experience." The man started to explain, quickly sounding like a teacher. "It is where the soul and often the subconscious leaves the body.”

That might have been the wrong thing to say as Noah's eyes went wide and he gripped Stiles more firmly to him. His voice dangerously close to a whimper. "Are you saying that my son is no longer here with us?”

"Yes and no." Deaton said calmly. "The subconscious part of him travels, his soul self as it is sometimes called. Crosses between our plane and the astral plane.”

Noah's emotions were all over the place tonight. Danny couldn't blame him, but the constant shift between worry, confusion, fear, was starting to make Danny dizzy. If the man wasn't careful he may end up having a heart attack by the end of the night and Danny did not want Stiles to wake up to that. The boy had enough guilt problems as it were. "I think you are losing him Deaton," he said with a small smile, trying to help the Sheriff relax just a little, even though he himself was internally freaking out.

There are multiple planes through out the worlds each has its own set of laws and rules. Like gravity for instance. Some of those planes mirror our own. The world seen through different lenses in a way. The astral plane is is another dimension within our own. A mirror image made of up magical energy and matter.

"And Stiles is there?” Danny found himself asking tentatively.

"It would appear that way."

“Then how do you explain this,” Noah asked pointing a finger at his son’s neck. 

Deaton frowned gravely at that. Danny didn’t like that look and he could tell Noah didn’t either. “I am not sure. The Astral plane works a lot like our own. The difference is you are split between your subconscious and conscious, but you still share a body.”

"So,” Danny said trying to put the pieces together. “If you get hurt there, it transfers here?”

Deaton nodded, checking Stiles’ neck with light touches, pushing down a little to check for hidden damage. “It would appear that way. It has never been proven and very few magic users has ever gone to the Astra plane let alone, gone there for a long period of time.”

"So you are saying something or someone on this plane is hurting my son,” Noah asked angry.

No one spoke their thoughts on that. They all knew the answer. The evidence was clear.

”We need to wake him up,” Noah stressed.

“How,” Danny asked. “What can we do that we have not tried?”

Deaton leaned away from Stiles, returning his stethoscope to his case. “I have already started trying to find a way. This is uncharted waters for me. After you mentioned his eyes and magic presenting itself while he slept, I made some calls.”

“And?” Danny asked expectantly.

"Astral projection, as you know, if difficult to do. And yet Stiles seems to have stumbled upon it. His magic is more powerful than we first believed. The reason we can deduce that he is in the Astral plane is because he is still here. Most of the other planes you have to be there physically and they are even more difficult to get to. To reach the Astral plane, one must be able to reach a type of peace within their mind."

"He believed these were nightmares," Danny said. "How is that peace of mind?"

"It can come before his subconscious takes shape," Deaton said with a shrug. "Knowledge about this plane is limited. Given that Stiles is the catalyst to all of this, I think it safe to say he is not like any other witch."

Danny went still for a moment. His thoughts drifted to the Elves. Making him think about what happened in the woods the other day. He had been thinking about it lately, playing it over in his head. Each time returning to Flynn and Kyram looking at Stiles like a prize, calling him a trophy. Calling him a mage. He knew Deaton and Noah didn't know about this kind of information. He needed to tell them. Despite Stiles wanting to work his way up to it, the cat was very nearly out of the bag anyway. Plus Noah already knew about the supernatural and Stiles' magic so what's another bomb shell. "About that?"

At both men staring at him, Danny tried hide the urge to flinch and squirm under their gazes. "Danny," Noah asked, "what do you know?"

Take a deep breath, Danny took one more look at Stiles, taking strength from seeing him nearly comatose and plowing through the story. With each word, Noah became surprised, worried, and slightly angry. Danny hoped his anger wasn’t directed at him. Deaton ate up the words like he was listening to someone speak for the first time. Danny told them everything. His and Stiles' clash with the wraiths-which Deaton already knew and was more for Noah's benefit-then moving on to first nightmare, ticking off the major points, also for Noah's benefit, and proceeding to tell them about some of their practicing exercises, how Stiles' eyes would glow here and there. He spoke about Stiles' idea on his wards, completing the spell only to have two elves break through wishing to find the mage responsible and kill him as a trophy, finding out he was the mage and everything else that happened afterwards.

No one missed the small gasp from Noah at the trophy part, but Danny pressed on, telling them every detail he could remember. He told them how Stiles had no choice, how he saved them both. Deaton and Noah seemed to understand, both nodding in clear reassurance.

When Danny finished telling them about his finding of what Stiles had done, creating the spell to understand any language written, he stopped, avoided looking at Deaton's face. He knew the man would have already warned Stiles about that action, strenuously no doubt. It was a very strict rule in magic, one that many learned too late. What he didn't expect after a few tense moments of quiet, he looked up to see the man's eyes seemed to glint as he thought over all the new information.

"Hmm," he said to himself more than likely.

"What," Danny asked after a moment more, his anxiety starting to creep up, "that's it. Nothing else from you?"

Deaton leaned against the edge of the desk on the opposite side of the room, one arm crossed over his torso, his chin resting on his other hand, balancing his arm on top of the other. "Well there is much that I can say, let alone do."

"So wait, he is stuck like this," Noah asked almost pleading. "No, no there has to be a way to wake him up."

"That was not what I meant," Deaton said calmly, his eyes on Stiles' face. "I meant that what's done is done. While I am not happy that Stiles had ignored my warning, I suppose I should have seen it coming. One thing I know is to not give Stiles ammunition to do something he knows he shouldn't." He stared at the boy between them all for a moment more, each one of them casting looks of worry at him before the vet sighed heavily, chin still resting on the knuckles of his hand. "It seems he is more powerful than I first suspected."

"So it really is true," Danny said, hearing the shock in his own voice. "He really is a mage."

Deaton seemed to consider it all for a moment. Danny kept his eyes on him, waiting eagerly while Noah did the same. His eyes wide with expectation and anticipation. Slowly the bald man nodded. "I always knew Stiles had potential, extreme potential, but I wasn't sure. His level of control in our sessions and his ability to pick up magic quicker than anyone I have seen before was astounding, but I thought it was due to his practicing with you along with that big brain of his."

Danny didn't know what to do with all this information. It was true that Stiles was smart. Even Danny could see how much he had progressed with his magic. With the limited spells Danny had shown him, it only took a few tries to get it right. After he unlocked how his magic worked and what it felt like, getting control of his emotions, it all seemed to become natural to him. He was a little jealous about that, how easy it seemed to be for Stiles. With Danny it was never easy when it came to magic, something that he had to deal with everyday. Of course no one knew why, not even Stiles. Danny felt even more guilty for not telling Stiles, something he intended to change after Stiles woke up.

They didn't have a chance to press further on questions or speculations because Stiles started to groan and whimper underneath Noah's arms. Everyone in the room moved a little closer to Stiles' hoping to see him open his eyes only to have nothing happen. What they did see was more terrifying.

A long cut appeared on Stiles' arm running from the outside of his shoulder around to the inside crease of his elbow. It was like an invisible knife had just cut into him like butter. To everyone's horror, they all watched as the cut opened up, blood welling up on his arm, starting to seep across his skin. Stiles' didn't move, didn't awaken from the pain that no doubt Danny knew was there. The only indication of any discomfort or motion from all the frozen bodies around was the look of pain on the boy's face and the slight groan of pain that escaped his lips. 

"What the hell," Noah whispered in terror.

Before either of them could move, the wound was closing. The blood slowing to a stop as the cut stitched itself back together again, leaving only a faint thin pink line of where it used to be. Danny had to blink a couple of times, seeing the fair skin of Stiles' arm, now with a slowly paling scar left over. Blood was still on his arm, now without a point of origin, just sitting there as it drifted over the hairs and skin with gravitational help. Those were the only evidence left behind of him ever having a cut to begin with. Deaton moved quickly, reaching into his still open case to pull out a gauze pad, wiping away the blood and examining Stile's arm in the process.

"What was that," Danny asked his eyes still on the thin scar.

"Is that how he got this," Noah asked, pointing the Stiles' neck where the purple bruise was.

"Deaton what is going on," Danny pressed firmly.

"Alan what the hell is happening to my son," the Sheriff nearly yelled.

"Quiet!"

The sudden outburst from the always calm man stunned them both into closed mouthed positions with wide eyes. They both waited, keeping quiet, but no doubt the on the verge of bursting again if Deaton didn't start talking again. Danny was staring at the stretched out arm in Noah's hands, half expecting it all to be a trick. The only thing keeping him from thinking none of this was happening was the line turned scar where the cut was. Stiles now had another scar to go with the ones he has already suffered. It made Danny question what his subconscious was seeing, what was going on on the Astral plane. It scared him and he was trying so hard to not lose his head. All he felt like doing was screaming and crying at the same time out of pure frustration and fear.

"I don't know what is doing this to him," Deaton finally said running his hands down his face. "But we need to break him out of this. As soon as possible."

"How?"

"I'm going to make some calls," Deaton said with finality. "You two, find something, whatever it is, that might be able to bring his subconscious back to his body." 

With one final look of worry that still surprised Danny, the vet was gone, already pulling his phone out of his pocket. Danny couldn't sit still anymore either, so he jumped off the bed, kneeling down under it to pull out of the books Stiles had. He would look through them all, anything that mentioned astral projection, soul self, or subconscious. Noah stayed with Stiles, seeming lost in his thoughts, until Danny handed him a random book, not even looking at the title. The man eyed it for a brief moment, before taking it and then balancing it on his lap beside Stiles' shoulder, he opened it.

Danny sat on the floor, scattering the books around him, pulling out his phone as well to get the internet up and ready for him. There had to be something, somewhere that could help him get his friend back. He wasn't going to sleep until Stiles' was awake again.

 

* * * * * * *

Derek was unsettled. He couldn't quite piece together why. Aside from all the obvious points that is. He had been uneasy for weeks now, stretching into months even. He couldn't remember the last time he felt at ease. That might have been back when Laura was still alive. Or maybe after his pack was established and starting to really get used to each other. He couldn't decide. Both were a possibility and both were equally just wishful thinking. 

He stood at the far side of his loft, back against the large window, looking at the people littered around the open area. Jackson and Lydia pouring themselves over the Internet on Lydia's laptop, trying to look for any stories or hits on missing persons in the state and bordering states. A few have turned up, but nothing really promising. Peter had been on the phone all day, checking his anonymous contacts, trying to see if there was a trail, also help to keep tabs on the Alpha pack and learn anything he could. He was finishing up a conversation with one in the corner, pacing back and forth as he talked in hushed tones. That left Isaac and Scott.

Those two were piled on he only couch, looking at the maps, marking down places they have already looked, pinpointing other ones that could be possibilities, looking them up on their phones to see how far of a distance they would be. Their head were bent towards each other, both also talking in hushed tones. It was an odd sight to Derek, seeing the two boys looking like closed friends trying to work out a dilemma. Putting their heads together in hopes of solve it. There had been other times Derek had seen Scott looking so focused, crinkled brow and all, trying to piece together a puzzle. Only he usually had a talkative counterpart, one with whiskey colored eyes.

Derek had to shake that thought away. He couldn't think about a teenager who seemed to have wormed his way under Derek's skin. Derek didn't want to think of Stiles. Yet lately he couldn't help it. With Scott being around more and more, he often found his thoughts drifting to the hyperactive teen. It made him angry.

Stiles was not pack. He wouldn't be pack, not after what he did. Derek couldn't trust him. The same went with Scott, he couldn't forgive Scott and it wasn't like the boy willingly offered any sort of apology. So they stayed away from one another, barely exchanging words or glances at one another. Scott was just there to help find his betas, that was it. Scott didn't want to be part of his pack and frankly after what he had a hand in, Derek thought it best. However, he may not trust him, he wasn't going to turn away his help, nor his presence. The reason for that being he was a werewolf. Derek had enough problems and he didn't want to have to worry about Scott going off the rails because he didn't have a pack. The boy had Stiles, but Derek knew that the wolf would demand more. 

Although he did find it odd how Stiles hadn't tried to come with Scott for any of their research meetings. Nor had Scott offered to bring Stiles. Also that one day were Scott first came by, offering his help, then asking about Stiles' location. That struck Derek as odd, but he shook it away. Maybe it was because they both knew what Derek would say if they offered? Or maybe it was because Stiles really didn't want any part of this anymore?

The fact that Scott was nearby put him on edge. He was already on edge due to everything, so what was a little more tension. It also didn't help that he could not shake the feeling that sat in his gut like a dead weight when he thought about the boy. His wolf was equally troubled, whining and howling inside him, nearly begging to get out. He felt an itch inside him, an itch to get out and go, run somewhere, but he couldn't guess where. He felt that lingering, troubled feeling for the entire summer but he couldn't remember when it started. Maybe it was after the Alpha pack announced they were coming, he couldn't be sure.

But lately, in the past two days, it seemed to have gotten worse. It ran up and down his spine, leaving a chilled feeling in it's wake, making his skin crawl. He didn't know what it was, but he didn't like it. His wolf didn't like it as it howled at him from within. Or was it trying to tell him something?

“When are you going to talk to the boy,” Peter asked coming up beside him, still holding his phone which was now held at his hip.

Broken from his thoughts, he turned to look at uncle, who was eyeing Scott on the other side of the room. Derek lowered his voice so the others wouldn't hear. "Scott is not my concern right now.” Which was sort of true.

"You know your scent may not give you away, but your face does.”

Derek gave a low growl at his uncle. "We have other matters to focus on."

"True," Peter said with a cluck of his tongue at the end. "But I worry about you possibly tearing a kid's head off."

"I'm fine, Peter. Now do you have any information or not?"

"Not," the older wolf said. "There have been no reports of missing young werewolves in the area. As for the Alpha pack, everyone doesn't know much more than we do. Everything based on their reputation and/or rumors."

"So basically we have nothing." Derek huffed out, clenching his fists together as he took several deep breaths to ignored the pacing of his wolf. "We need options which we don't have."

Peter leaned against the window with Derek, his body turned towards him. Folding his arms over his chest, he rolled his eyes at Derek's statement. “What we need is a fresh pair of eyes and a brilliant, wise cracking mind.”

Derek nearly released an internal groan. He knew his uncle was getting at without having to ask. He was not surprise the man would bring this up now. He had been expecting it to happen at some point. “No,” he said a little too forcefully under his breath.

"You don’t even know who I am referring to.”

"He is not part of this," he said ignoring his uncle. "He has also made it clear he doesn’t want to be here either.”

"Hm, I wonder why that is," Peter said with heavy sarcasm.

Derek set his jaw, refusing to look at his uncle. He didn't look at Scott or Isaac either. He instead focused his attention on Lydia and Jackson, typing away on the keyboard before them. "I cannot overlook what he did."

He saw his uncle nod a curt nod before saying, "Yet you turn your head away when it is was Scott who practically pulled the trigger.”

"I havn't given his a pass either," he said honestly. His eyes went quickly to Scott, who was still talking with Isaac over the maps. Derek honestly couldn't determine if or even when he could forgive Scott.

"Yet he is here."

Derek stifled another growl from escaping his throat. He could feel his wolf pacing inside him. He could hear it whine and growl often at him, seemingly at odds with his decisions. Derek had to maintain control. He had to in order to help his pack. What good would it do if he lost control because of his own emotions? He turned his eyes to his uncle, feeling them narrowly bleed red for a second before he started to ask. "Why are you being so astute on this?

Peter raised his eyebrows, looking ever bit as annoying as he did when Derek was a kid. "Why are you being such a child on this?

Derek was frustrated. He was annoyed. He was agitated and worried. Everything combined into the package that made up his body. The fact of him being constantly on edge wasn't helping. He usually could deal with his uncle, but right now he wanted to be left alone. Yet he knew that if he tried to leave, Peter would become even more of a hassle in the future.

But Peter ought to know why Derek was so adamant about this. Derek didn't want a repeat of the past. He didn't want to let his walls down for everything to crumble around him. He thought he could trust Stiles and instead that trust was shattered, even if it was do to the best intentions. Stiles knew how much Derek felt about the bite, about Gerard. So how could Derek open up to him more when he already used his feelings as ammunition. Derek did not want his current pack to suffer like his family had, not because of Derek's mistakes again. It would surely kill him.

"I will not allow someone else in so that they can ruin us," he said with a hard, quiet tone. "Not again."

Peter seemed to soften for a second or maybe that was a trick of Derek's eyes. Peter had not been soft since before the fire. When he spoke, his voice was quieter but still with an edge of gruff. "And you think Stiles will do that?"

"What am I supposed to think?" He asked his uncle in exasperation.

Peter seemed to consider for a moment before settling on an answer. His tone sounding sure of itself. "I believe there is something more that we are not seeing."

Derek didn't want to argue with his uncle. He knew it wouldn't do any good. So he silently agreed to disagree whether Peter wanted to or not. Derek was not going to take the leap of faith that Peter wanted him to. Derek didn't want to bring Stiles back into the fold, despite what Peter was proposing. He kicked Stiles out of the pack, or at least he blatantly told him to stay away from it, and with good reason. If he did allow Stiles back and that was a big if, he wouldn't be able to trust him. He wouldn't be able to let his guard down nor take Stiles' word without much worry or caution. That was not what a pack should be like.

A part of him did want to have the boy back. Believe it or not, that teenager was smart and often had good ideas. His wolf would agree to that. He was useful and even though he was annoying and flailing about most of the time, he had been growing on Derek. After Stiles saved him in the pool that night, Derek had really started to see what Stiles was capable of. Derek had never thanked Stiles for that, he hadn't thanked him for a lot of things, but now it didn't seem like he should. He had seen potential in Stiles, what he could be to the pack, but it meant he could see the bad along with the good. It was mess of a situation, one that Derek internally grappled with.

"I need time, Peter," he said more to himself than to his uncle. "I need to figure things out. I need to get my betas home, I need...I don’t know."

That was the only way he could put it. With everything and his constant state of alert and a sinking feeling of heavy weight inside him, everything was just...so much.

Peter seemed to nod in contented silence. Seeming somewhat satisfied with Derek's honesty. The man stepped away from the window, turning to go look at the table with a collection of tomes and books piled on it. Only he stopped before he moved away completely. Telling Derek something that registered deeply. voicing the same fear that Derek voiced a few moments prior, only now sporting a seemingly different meaning. 

"Well you better figure it out soon nephew.” He said as he turned back to give him a sad look. “I will not watch another pack get torn apart.”

 

* * * * * * * 

 

Lydia didn’t understand what made her drive all the way there. She couldn’t explain it if she tried. The cold feeling running down her spine was a constant reminder of her dream or nightmare or whatever you wanted to call it. 

All she felt was the feeling of dread. All she could think about was Stiles. Like she said, she couldn’t explain it. She just felt it. 

She awoke screaming, something that was becoming all to familiar, only this time it was different. There was no tree, no blood leaking from within it. There was were no images that didn't make sense. This time she saw person. She saw amber eyes, like she did before, this time more clearly. Over the past week, her nightmares have been getting worse. A mixture of the tree and those amber eyes, but also accompanied by cold, piercing blue eyes that was unlike anything she had seen, even from the werewolves. She saw the amber eyes constantly, this feeling of dread. It wasn't until last night that those eyes turned away from her, drifting away to reveal Stiles. It was like she was watching him fall away from her, slowly drifting. She saw blood dripping from his body, his mouth open in a silent scream, his eyes unseeing and slowly losing the glint that she always remembered seeing in them.

She already felt the pure horror in her gut and the dread that followed at the metal picture, a picture she didn’t want. She had no idea why she dreamed it or why she dreamed any of the things she has been recently. It scared her. Yet with each night, they all came back, playing on repeat for her again. Only a few times she has screamed herself awake, giving her mother and Jackson a heart attack once or twice. She nearly scarred her mother to death, almost earning a run to the hospital or a 911 call. Jackson, however, seemed helpless and worried. Yeah, he has witnessed it all before with her, but now it was like he was at a loss of what to do other than hold her in his arms.

Lydia was all for that if it meant he could chase away those nightmares. All week she had been having those nightmares. The tree and amber eyes, mixing with snarls in darkness, and piercing blue eyes were haunting her, playing in her head like a home movie on repeat. All week she had been feeling something, something she couldn't really explain. Like a constant sinking feeling, like her stomach was dropping out from her body. She also felt like she kept hearing an echo in her ears, yet nothing she could make out.

Tonight when she dreamed about Stiles, Jackson wasn't there, not by his choice, but by Derek's. He was asking him and Peter to go with him into the Preserve to look for any trails for Erica and Boyd, keeping close to the territory border, but also maintaining vigilance in case the Alpha pack came near. So they were going to search together instead of splitting up.

It gave her the house to herself since her mom was still at work. She had only slept a few hours, but that was all she going to get. She didn't care at this point. With the nightmare fresh in her mind, she couldn't think of anything else. All she saw was Stiles and his blank whiskey brown eyes. The light they usually held gone, now unfocused, slowly turning white as they lost their color and his life faded from him. The blood she saw on his body was dripping from cuts, marked randomly across him, some deep cuts others shallow, but no less bloody. She didn't understand it, frankly she didn't want to.

She fumbled out of her bed, changing into the first pair of clothes she grabbed from her walk in closet. Grabbing her purse and keys she ran out of the house, nearly knocking over the vase on the side table near the door as her purse flew behind her. She hopped in her car and drove.

The entire way, she felt her breaths coming in a fast rhythm and her heart pounding. Her throat felt dry and achy. She didn't care about the speed limits, she just wanted to get to the person she needed to see. If she didn't do that, she might scream. She felt panicky and clammy, accompanied by the cold chill that seemed to stick to her skin, making her hairs stand up. The time of night did nothing to deter her. Maybe she was going crazy, maybe she was on the verge of a mental breakdown?

Or maybe, just maybe, that damned feeling of dread, making her feel sick, was telling her something.

The more she thought about it, the more it would not let up, in fact it got worse. Something was wrong and she felt like her insides wanted to burst. The whispers were back in her mind, like a crowd in her ears. The faster she drove, the closer she got to the house, she kept telling herself she was getting closer to the person she needed to see. 

She had to reassure herself. She had to see Stiles. 

* * * * * * *

A little over a week passed as they fought to find a way to bring Stiles out of the Astral plane and wake him up. Nothing worked. Danny had poured himself over the books Stiles had in his room, reading everything that dealt with the spirit, soul self or anything remotely helpful. Deaton was coming and going, checking up on Stiles before heading out in search of more answers. He made calls to his contacts in the supernatural community and got next to nothing. 

Danny learned that Deaton didn't give out names, nor did he reveal what Stiles was, keeping it as anonymous as possible. He told them only the basics, asking all he could about the Astral plane. It turns out there really was not a lot of information. Few have ever been able to reach the Astral plane and there were vague descriptions of what it was like. Other than it was made of magical energy and matter, no one really knew what was there. It was supposed to be a mirror world of our own, a separate plane that was nearly identical to the physical. So shouldn't it have the same things we do?

They had all done as much research as they could. Deaton went back to the clinic everyday, dealing with his clients, but also going through his stash of books and notes, even making calls there then coming back after he closed to report what they already knew. Noah took off work everyday this week, saying at first that he was not feel well, then later saying that Stiles was feeling bad with the same symptoms, saying he would stay home to help him get over his fever. Yes, that was all a huge bunch of bull, but Danny was glad he didn't have to do the research alone. Not to mention he was glad for the company as he sat with Stiles day in and day out looking through book after book and surfing the net, all while Stiles stayed unconscious.

Luna huddled in nearby, never leaving Stiles' side, whining and keeping her big brown eyes on his face, like she expected him to wake up and start petting her. It was a sad sight, even to Danny.

Danny hadn't slept, eaten little for the week. He didn't even think about it. Not until half the time Noah would shove a plate or bowl of something under his face, getting his attention. Most of the time it was soup or spaghetti. Danny didn't finish all of it, no matter what any of it was. He ate enough to satisfy Noah's or Deaton's concerned gazes and then went back to his reading. He supposed it wouldn't do him any good to pass out from starvation or exhaustion while trying to find a way to wake Stiles up, but he couldn't help it. 

Especially after more cuts showed up. The second one came later that first night. This time of his leg, right below his knee. They nearly didn't see it until Luna started whining, nosing at the blanket covering his legs which started to turn red under her nose. Before they could press anything to the cut to stop the bleeding, the cut healed, just like the first one. The next one came the following morning, across his lower back, that happened when Noah was changing Stiles' shirt, it was good thing too otherwise that one would have been soaked. The sheets were not so lucky.

After that, Danny helped Noah move Stiles to his master bedroom, laying two towels down on the bed before settling Stiles on top, just in case. It was a smart move on their part as more cuts appeared as the week went on. Scaring the lot of them shitless each time, watching as the blood seeped out, Stiles' face becoming more stoic with each new cut. It had been getting so bad that they could see Stiles' skin taking on a paler, sickly look. With the lack of nutrition his body was getting, Deaton made the decision to try and get change that. He brought over an IV and fluid bag one morning, hooking it up on an metal stand, injecting vitamins and minerals into the bag, hoping it would help replenish what Stiles was losing. The whole time Danny could feel the slight thrum of Stiles' magic around him and he tried to take comfort from that, telling him that Stiles was still here. After cuts appeared on Stiles' side and over his thigh at once, they watched them heal, and then Noah nearly threw the television off the dresser in a fit of rage and sheer worry. Danny dared not say anything because if he was being honest, he wanted to do the same thing. All of the research they did and with each passing day, they came up with nothing.

More wounds came and went, each one leaving a pinkish-white scar behind. Some were small, others larger. The larger ones seemed to appear on bigger portions of his body, like his back, his legs, and the one on his side. There were some that looked like stab wounds, no longer than a couple inches, but bleeding profusely before they closed. It drove all of them to points of fear that neither of them spoke afterward. If Noah felt anymore anger, it was muddled by the terror of what all of this meant. Stiles was getting hurt, tortured or stabbed, whatever on another plane, with no help, and none of them could do anything about it. Danny had never felt so powerless before and he was no where near as powerful as Stiles was. That much was obvious now. The more cuts that appeared, the more scars were left over. His back and arms were the worst, criss-crossed lines of paled skin, none of them raised, but still there in fine lines. Far away, you couldn't see them, only up close. Danny found that they were all he could see, reminders of his failures staring at him in the face.

Danny had performed a couple spells, in secret when Noah was asleep or out of the room and Deaton was at the clinic, trying to force Stiles awake. He even tried to do a spell that would allow him to see into his subconscious, but it drained his energy too quickly that he couldn't hold it long enough to see if it could work. Danny didn't want to give up, he couldn't. He knew Stiles wouldn't if the roles were reversed, so he wouldn't dare think of it. They had to keep trying.

Lydia’s arrival at the end of the weekend after this long, seeming endless week, came as a jolt to everyone. They didn’t expect visitors and to be frank they didn’t really want any. 

Danny was close to turning the girl away, no doubt coming to ask for more Stiles' help. But when he opened the door, huffing out a sigh as he did so, the girl burst through the threshold without a second glance to him. Her face was pinched in a worry, her green eyes red rimmed and looking everywhere like she expected something to jump out at her. She was dressed haphazardly, something Lydia never ever did. Yoga pants, a long gray T-shirt, and a blue cardigan, with neon green tennis shoes made up her attire. It was like she just finished exercising, but mixing it with her long mussed hair like she had been running her fingers through it for a while, made Danny think maybe not. Something was wrong.

He felt his Spark thrum in him for a moment, like a cord was struck on a guitar, something that momentarily stunned him. It wasn't unusual, mostly he felt it around Stiles. Maybe he just didn't realize it was still doing that after a while.

She looked at him, her make-up free face studying his like a doe caught in headlights. "Stiles. Where's Stiles?"

Danny didn't bother to hide his surprise. He was too tired to care. After a little over a week of a few hours of sleep in total, he was thinking not much would shock him right now. He felt run-down and his limbs heavy. As the girl before him looked from him to the living room, to the other side of the foyer where the study was, most likely thinking Stiles would come out to reassure her. When he didn't speak, her eyes started to glisten a little, but she held firm, asking again where Stiles was.

When Danny glanced upward on accident, that was enough for Lydia as she started climbing the stairs. Danny followed behind her, not bothering to really stop her, but also not wanting to Noah to get upset because she was here. They didn't bother going to Stiles' room, all Lydia did was take one glance then keep going down the hall. They had moved Stiles to Noah's room, giving them more room in the master bedroom to do their research and keep on an eye on Stiles. Arriving at the door to the room, the girl froze with her breath catching in her throat.

Noah was on the bed with Stiles, a large tome from Deaton in his lap. At their appearance, he looked up. The man was as exhausted looking as Danny was. His eyes bloodshot, his face deeply marked with worry lines, turning it into a grimace. When he saw Lydia, he sat up a little straighter, his hand moving to Stiles' arm in a sign of protection.

"Lydia?" The Sheriff asked.

"He's dying," she said quickly, making time seem like it stopped. Danny was looking at the side of her face, while Noah stared at her fully. Neither said a word, neither knew what to say. Was this a joke to her? She didn't even know what was happening. 

"What-" Danny was about to ask when Noah made gasping sound.

They all looked to see Stiles' face twist in pain as a cut appeared on his forearm, deep and oozing blood. Danny moved at the same time Lydia did. He went to Stiles' other side on the bed. Lydia hopped on the foot, her green eyes wide as she looked from the cut to the two men's faces. They didn't notice the cut on his neck either, from the back near his hairline to the front, close to his collarbone. Blood was dripping down to the hallow of his throat, a stark contrast to the pale of his skin. It may not have been as bad as it looked, but it did nothing for their nerves nor did it take away the terrifying sight of so much blood now oozing out of Stiles while he stayed completely still.

"What-What just happened," Lydia stammered.

"It's a long story," Danny said quietly, not taking his eyes off of the cut which was slowly closing.

When Deaton came in, holding his case, his dark eyes landed on Lydia. He didn't seem particularly surprised to see her, but then when had the man ever really been taken round the bend. No one paid attention to him long enough to warrant a greeting to him. Everyone huddled over Stiles' limp form. The vet moved over to Stiles' right side, nearly shoving Danny away so he could get to him. The blood was running down his arm and neck, staining the towel they placed under him when they moved him into the room.

The three men were starting to get numb to seeing new cuts appear on Stiles' body, blood draining out of him. Lydia however, was shaking. She looked like she was trying to hold in her tears. She watched in horror as Deaton managed to hold a piece of gaze to the one on his neck until the cuts closed on their own like they have been doing all week. At least he didn't get any stab wounds like he did earlier.

"There has to something that can be done," she pleaded, her eyes on Deaton.

"He is trapped in the Astral plane," Deaton said, not going into detail of it all. They would get to all of that later. "We don't know how, but we have been trying to wake him up all week. All of the energy he is releasing is taking it's toll on him and with his subconscious still away from his body, he is slowly declining."

"No, there has to be a way," she said shaking her head.

Danny put a hand on her shoulder which she ignored. "We have been trying."

"Then try harder!" She yelled, tears now in her eyes. "He can't die. We have to try something. Anything. We have to let him know we are here. We have to call out to him, signal him."

That was an odd statement to Danny. He didn't think about it like that. He supposed he wouldn't considering they have been trying to wake him up, not signal him in a way. He doubted it would work anyway. He has tried multiple times already to call out to Stiles. Yelling and shouting at him and nothing worked. Even when he was left alone with him, in private moments he has tried. Speaking only to Stiles, pleading for him to wake up. Danny hated seeing him like this. So still and hurting, getting marked by an unseen force, leaving the scars behind. If Stiles woke up, Danny feared what Stiles would be like when he saw the scars himself. There were more now on his body, littering it in pale lines, mostly on his chest and back. Only the small ones on his arms, except for the big one from that first night. It tore Danny apart seeing them and it made him cringe thinking about what Stiles' subconscious was seeing on the Astral plane.

No one seemed shocked by her outburst. They all were thinking the same thing. They didn't want Stiles to die. But his body was declining. With each passing day he was growing paler, sweating. The boy hadn't eaten or drank for since before he had fallen asleep. The toll of staying under for so long was drastic and was making his body shut down. His losing of blood was not helping when he was not getting nutrition. Deaton had already put the IV in his arm, but it seemed to not be helping. Danny could feel it inside him, his Spark telling him what they all knew, Stiles was getting worse. The more time passed, the more Danny could feel Stiles' magic declining, weakening in its potency. There was no longer a thrumming energy from him, but a slight murmur of what it used to be.

Stiles barely moved anymore. His head was not turning in the slightest and his face was becoming more and more impassive, no matter how many wound he was getting. With all the research they have done, they were still at square one.

"We don't know how," Danny found himself saying. "We have been trying, nothing has worked. Normally one could wake up on their own, come back from the plane, but something is interfering."

"Something or someone," Noah questioned to the entire room than anyone in particular. "Those wounds, those scars are not happening because he is lost."

Deaton sighed heavily, wiping away the extra blood and then throwing the gauze away in the trash. "I agree, but that still keeps us at a disadvantage. We have limited sources and nothing to go on but what we know."

They didn't get a chance to question further, because Stiles body started to shake. It was convulsing like he was being electrocuted and his mouth falling open in a silent scream. His eyes remained closed as they all watched. The floating objects shook in the air and then seemed to crash to the floor, thudding against the hardwood, sending vibrations up the walls. The levitating desk light fell, the bulb breaking on impact. No one took their eyes from Stiles as a large cut went across his chest from one shoulder down to the ribs on his opposite side, scarlet blood soaking the shirt and staining it like the towel below him.

At the sight, Lydia suppressed a scream, her hand covering her mouth. Deaton rushed to cover the wound, trying to prevent further blood loss. Noah was helping him, holding his son still as he shook. His face returned to a deep grimace, the pain evident in his features, yet still he did not wake.

Lydia nearly fell off the bed as she went backwards, her knees underneath her as tears blurred her green eyes. Danny trying to hold Stiles' legs in case he started kicking. They waited the next moment out, watching as the wound started to close, not doing anything for the blood or the soaked shirt. Stiles' body stopped seizing, and then went completely still a single breath rising from his body, then leaving quickly.

When Danny let go, he reached out with his Spark. He wasn't trying to do magic, but he was trying to sense it. Sense Stiles. Only he didn't feel much of anything. There was no hum of energy, there was no warmth of magic around him. It was fading. 

Deaton was holding Stiles' wrist, feeling his pulse. Danny could have told him that it was slow, slower than it should be and getting less and less. His eyes went dark with deep fear and Noah was no different. Lydia was whimpering on the bed in soft sounds under her breath.

"No, no, no," Noah was saying, trying to shake Stiles' shoulder. "He needs to wake up." Deaton just stood there, looking entirely lost even under Noah's panicked gaze. "Wake him up. Magic did this, magic can undo it."

"Noah I-"

"He is my son!"

Danny could feel his own terror rise. The more he felt with his own Spark, the more he felt Stiles' dwindle more and more. It was like a flame slowly burning out. He sensed it before, feeling it get weaker as the week progressed, but now it was so weak that it was barely there. One little blow and it would be gone. Danny knew what happen then.

Stiles would die. A Spark could not live with out the body, a healthy body. Just as the body couldn't live without the mind. Stiles has been away from his for too long. It was killing him. He was deteriorating in front of them and they were powerless. Danny could channel as much energy as he possibly could and it would not help. He could make it worse or nothing would happen at all. He wouldn't know where to begin if he did try. No magic wouldn't help them with this. Magic did this!

Danny couldn't keep back the burn in his eyes as he felt Stiles slipping away. They were losing him. He looked at Deaton were remained like a statue, caught in his own fear and sadness. Noah was nearly gripping Stiles so hard his knuckles turned white, holding him to his body as if it would hold his son together. Lydia was silent, nearly unmoving as everyone else was helplessly watching.

Danny looked at her suspiciously. The redhead girl was looking at Stiles’ suddenly still form with fear in her eyes, her body shaking. Her lips kept twitching and her hands grasped at nothing by her folded legs. The girl looked like she was going to jump out of her skin. He thought she was close to having a panic attack, only she never slipped over the edge. She was sweating and she was sitting mostly still aside from the shaking that seemed to radiate mostly in her shoulders and arms. Her emotions mostly running rampant on the inside rather than showing on the outside. 

Danny felt his Spark shudder inside him suddenly. He couldn’t put it in exact words but it was like his body was shaking on the inside. The more he felt it, the more it grew and a nagging feeling was in the back of his head, trying to tell him something. The longer he stared at the girl, the more his Spark pulsed and squirmed inside him.

He had never seen Lydia look like this. She seemed like she was slowly falling apart. She was at a loss of words, at a loss of what to do. Her mind racing while her body was shuddering from something unseen. She looked like Stiles did when he had too much energy. Jittery and shaky, unable to suppress it. There was only one time Lydia looked like that before. He remembered seeing her from afar at the YMCA pool, looking much the same. He saw it from the jeep a little distance away, as Stiles helped to comfort her, Danny stayed back to give space, but he did observe. Even then she was the picture of frightened, shaken, and looking like she wanted to scream.

That thought made his Spark ignite briefly inside him. It made his mind race. The more he played that over in his head, the more his gut was telling his to run with it. His Spark supporting it, equally humming with it, like it was waiting in anticipation. He tried to turn it over and over in his mind, trying to get a picture of why. He tried to concentrate, his hand instinctively grasping the necklace around his neck. To anyone else in the room he may have looked crazy or like he was trying to pray, but he didn't care. This nagging feeling was calling out to him and for some reason he couldn't ignore it.

The more he thought, the more he tried to picture what his Spark was trying to get him to see, all he got was images of Stiles. Stiles hurt, still, bloody, and pale. Then he got Lydia, wild green eyes and mouth open like she was about to scream. Those picture kept flashing in his head, going back and forth faster and faster, until they were blurs and then the thrumming his felt in his gut turned into a shaking scream that shook him out of his daze. He couldn't help but think about something he vaguely remembered from a long time ago. He just thought about it, having no real idea why, but he couldn’t shake it. Now he had a hunch, one that he was going to test. 

He grabbed Lydia’s hand, the one closest to him, the one clenching her thigh. She was shaking under his fingers, but she didn’t flinch at his touch, seeming to not notice. He shook her shoulder, trying to get her attention. When she finally looked at him, her eyes were unfocused, tears glistening in their depths.

"Lydia, you can help him." He said slowly.

She blinked at him, but there was no recognition in her eyes. "What?"

"Call his name," he said, growing more sure. He felt it in his Spark. It was telling him to keep going, telling him what his gut was telling him. He was onto something and he had a good idea what.

Deaton was looking at them both and Noah was too, eyes red and wide with tears as he was holding onto Stiles. "Danny what-" Deaton began only for Danny to ignore him.

He pulled both of Lydia's hands into his. "Do you feel like you want to?" She looked confused by his question, so he tried again. "Do you feel like calling him?"

She cast her eyes over to Stiles, her bottom lip trembling. She slowly nodded her head. "Yes."

"Tell me what you feel Lydia," Danny said.

"What are you-"

Danny held up a hand to cut Noah off. He gazed at Lydia intently, trying to coax her to speak. She stammered over her words a few times, but she was able to get it out. "I want to...I don't know. I want to shake him. I want to force him to wake up. He is dying...I can see it. I can't do anything about it. I-I don't want...I just feel like screaming."

"Then do it,” he said his eyes hard on hers. “Scream his name, Lydia.”

”But I-“ 

“Just trust me,” he implored. “Do it. Call him.”

The girl turned her eyes back Stiles ever growing pale face. His skin cold under clammy looking and no doubt cooler than it should be. That had to change. He had a hunch so he had to believe it. No room for doubt. Danny was near panicking anyway. He could feel the declining sense of magic in the air as Stiles was fading away. Noah had tears streaming down his face,  Deaton with raw worry that Danny had never seen before. Both with confusion on their faces, but Deaton was looking at Lydia was scrutiny.

Danny was getting impatient. If this didn't work then he didn't know what they would do. They were out of options and Stiles was too far gone. This had to work. Danny trusted what his Spark and his gut was telling him. They couldn’t wait anymore. 

“Lydia,” he said harshly as she stared at Stiles, “Scream!”

Something in the girl seemed to break then. Her eyes going blank, looking at nothing, not even seeing Stiles anymore. Danny saw her shoulders dropping at the same time her pink lips opened releasing a sound that he could only imagine up till that point.

She screamed, piercing and powerful. It shook the room, the house even. The windows in the room shattered from the force, the bulbs in the lights broke overhead and the television burst. The IV stand and bag, shuddering. It made Danny’s teeth vibrate as he held his hands tightly to his ears. Deaton and Noah doing the same. Noah still had Stiles against his side, but he seemed to favor keeping his ears from bleeding out instead of holding his son. Both men had looks of pain and awe on their faces as the girl before them screamed a name.

“STILES!!!!!!!!!”

Danny could not tell how far and wide her voice radiated out, but he couldn’t care at the moment. He was praying this would work. He momentarily worried that she would blow Stiles' eardrums out since no one was covering his ears, but this is what he wanted. He wanted him to hear her. If she was screaming as loud as he suspected, there was no way he wouldn't.

The scream lasted only a few long seconds, but it seemed to last much longer, echoing around them, reaching every crevice of the house and beyond. When it was done, Lydia looked a little relieved, her eyes bright with tears as they fell freely down her cheeks. Her mouth slack, panting a little, like she just expelled all her energy in that scream.

Just as quick as the scream came it stopped, returning everything to a dead silence. No one moved, no one dared breathe. 

It wasn’t in the next second that Stiles’ flew up in bed, sitting upright so fast that  everyone nearly jumped. When his eyes opened, they were glowing a brilliant golden and honey hue. Sparks of fiery red and glistening orange and flecks of smoky brown, swirling in their depths. When he woke up a shock wave radiated from his body, like a pulse of heated air. Rocking everything in the room, nearly toppling what was left of the damaged television, but knocking the IV stand over, thankfully not tearing the IV out of Stiles' arm. Making everyone stumble backwards bit more in shock than impact at the same time. 

Danny was the first to move followed by Noah, both trying to get into Stiles like of vision only for the boy to look at neither of them, his eyes still glowing and yet, unfocused on anything. Before they knew it, his eyes closed, and his body dropped back onto the bed, passed out cold. 

Deaton reached out quickly, checking his wrist for his pulse, feeling his head, closing his eyes in slight concentration. It took a few tense seconds, everyone on the edge of if they were back where they started. Danny also reached out with his Spark, feeling the steady hum in the back of his mind, the familiar presence of magic that was not his own. Not taking it as false hope, he reached forward, putting his hand on Stiles' leg, concentrating, searching for the reassurance he needed. He pushed some magic into Stiles, muttering a spell, one that would tell him that Stiles' heart was beating faster than it was before, his breathing evening out, his magic no longer a flickering flame, but the pit of fire that it normally was. 

Danny sighed in the relief at the same time Deaton did. Noah was holding onto Stiles looking at Deaton expectantly.

“He will be okay,” he said quietly. 

“He’s asleep,” Noah said fearful. “Sleep is bad I thought we established that.”

"This is not the same," Deaton reassured his long time friend. "Technically Stiles was never asleep and he needs it. He is exhausted and his mind needs this, not necessarily his body, but we will wake him up in a few hours.”

”We can’t let him sleep,” his dad protested. “What if he doesn’t wake up again.”

"I will stay with him,” Danny said automatically. His eyes on his friend, the feeling of his magic like a settling weight on his chest, somehow making him breathe easier after this long week.

Deaton nodded. Noah seemed reluctant to leave his son and seeing as how everyone else was the same, it was probably best that someone make some coffee. "I'm going to go make a pot," he said quietly, slowly retracting himself from Stiles' side. Danny watched him leave the room, cracking his neck as he went. Deaton was looking at Stiles for a moment longer, almost seeming to contemplate leaving as well. Eventually he walked around the bed, after checking the IV in his arm one more time, reaching to pick up the toppled IV stand from the floor to set it upright so it could drip properly. Danny slowly pulled himself up on the bed n the vacated position Noah left, sitting gingerly on the side next to his friend.

He wanted to rest, but he knew he couldn't. He could barely believe that his hunch worked. He could barely believe that Stiles was here with them again, or at least on their plane. He just hoped it stayed that way. He worried that Stiles would slip away again, right under their noses. So no he couldn't let his guard down. Not yet, not until Stiles was awake.

Poor Lydia didn't seem to know what to do. Which was a first for her. Deaton seemed to notice too, because he put his hand on her shoulder, silently coaxing her to look up at him. "Come downstairs with me," Deaton said to her, his eyes thoughtful, helping her up from the bed. She still looked in a daze, but she went, leaving Danny to watch over Stiles alone, something he was kind of grateful for. "I think there is a few things we should talk about," he heard Deaton say.

When he was alone with Stiles, Danny took a deep breath, trying to settle his frayed nerves. It didn't really work, but he didn't care. He kept a close eyes on Stiles. Trying to see any sort of reaction from him, anything to warn him that Stiles was falling under again. If he had to, he would slap Stiles awake. Stiles may find it funny having Danny stare at him like a creeper, but Danny didn't care. He would lose more hours of sleep, not eat or drink, not even breathe if it meant Stiles would be okay again.

That is what he hoped.

Chapter Text

 

If Stiles was awake, he wasn't sure. He heard voices, whispers and then higher tones, one gruff and the other one, lighter and younger. They sounded familiar but the haze around his mind couldn't piece it all together. He distinctly felt something pressing against the entirety of his body, soft and cushioned, but he couldn't tell what. He wanted to open his eyes, but he didn't have the energy for that. So he kept them closed.

It was better that way anyway.

It meant he couldn't see the horrors around him. He remembered all too well the last things he saw before he fell into the deep blackness. The faces he seemed he just couldn't escape from. He remembered the pain, the anger, the desperation and fear. He also remembered someone calling his name.

Now here he was in a white space. Wait, wasn't it black a moment ago? He could have sworn that it was. He looked around, seeing nothing. It was a room, all white and seemingly endless. White space and a light gray squared ceiling. As he watched the room, it was fading in and out, the same voices getting louder and then fading just like the room. Stiles turned trying to find the source of the voices. 

There were a few times he heard his name.

"Stiles has always..."

Wait, what?

Who was that? That voice, he knew that voice. It was light and soft, with teasing undertones. It sounded strangely close too. It was dark now, the white room disappearing as the darkness engulfed it. He felt the same plush feeling beneath him, softness on his skin, and warmth. He could also smell something bitter and strangely comforting. Maybe coffee? Along with another smell, it was woodsy with a light smell of lavender. That was very familiar. Like...Danny?

"Tell Stiles-"

Huh. Tell Stiles what? Who was that?

He knew that voice. It was gruff and sounded tired, strained in a way. He knew that voice. It was his dad. He wanted to reach out, open his eyes to find his dad. It felt like forever since he saw him, but in truth, he had no idea how long. He was exhausted, that much he knew. He felt like his body was a heavy weight, pressing him further into the softness that seemed to cling to his back. It was a curious feeling, but it was oddly comforting.

He wanted to hug the man, feel that he was alright. That was more for Stiles' benefit than his dad's but he didn't care.

"Claudia..."

Mom. His dad was talking about his mom. He never really talked about her. Neither of them did. They just kept her close, silent memories of her, but never outright spoke of her except in important moments. If it really was his dad speaking of his mother, was he talking to Danny? Was Danny here? Why were they talking about his mom? Why the hell can't he wake up?!

He wanted so bad to see open his eyes, to rest his gaze on them. He couldn't though. For some reason, he felt like he had to remain here like this. As he faded in and out of the white room, he caught more talking. So he focused on that, relishing in the voices of the two people he wanted to see most right now. Stiles felt more energetic than he did a while ago, or maybe a long while ago. Maybe it was hearing his friend and his dad's voices? Maybe it was something else?

He felt his magic within his chest, swirling and warm, flickering like a flame under his skin. He felt a strange tingling on his skin, a slight pull inside his chest, but he ignored it, in favor of listening to Danny and his dad. He took comfort from their voices, hearing them so close. They were a little muddled together, but the more he ignored that pull in his chest, the better he could hear them. So he concentrated, straining his ears to hear them.

 

* * * * * * *

They sat in silence for a while. Noah had made coffee, bringing some up for Danny while Lydia and Deaton stayed downstairs to talk. Danny didn’t need to be be down there to know what they were talking about. He had already put the pieces together and now it was a matter of getting Lydia to see the whole puzzle. So he would leave that to Deaton to fill her in. Anything the girl didn’t know or wanted to know, she would ask and then later do research on.

She and Stiles were more alike than Danny first noticed. Both with a innate curiosity to understand and the brain power to dig deeper to uncover what they wanted. Speaking of Stiles, it had been hours now since he had woken up from his astral coma. 

It was still a sight to see Stiles like this, completely immobile. He may be sleeping, but this is not normal sleep. This is bone dry, drained, exhausted sleep. Danny had to do double and then triple takes, checking his pulse, and then feeling with his Spark to make sure that Stiles was really back, really in his right plane of life. When he could feel the growing thrum of the other boy’s magic and see the slow rise and fall of his chest, Danny relaxed just a little. He wouldn’t truly relax until Stiles was awake.

They should be shaking him awake now, but at Deaton’s instructions to let him rest, everyone reluctantly agreed. 

This type of exhaustion is very taxing. Danny can understand to a great deal how much. It took magic to get Stiles to the Astral plane and an even more amount to sustain his stay there for over a week.

And with Stiles who came very near death where his body nearly shut down from it, it was safe to say he needs his rest. His magic needs to replenish itself and that in turn will help him heal. Danny  was glad to see some color back in Stiles skin, although not much. But at least he was not starkly pale and looking like he was fading away. Danny could even see that the boy’s weight had gone down, the lack of nutrition making his magic eat away at his body, trying to sustain itself and therefore him while he was in another plane. 

No one really noticed it till now. Too hellbent on trying to bring him back, researching and going through every source they could easily get in the frantic week. No one took the full look to see what Stiles’ body was going through other than the cuts. Aside from losing a few pounds, Stiles gained more scars. Thin white lines now speckled his body, some long others short. Mostly covering his torso and arms. A few on his legs.

At every glance, Danny felt anger spike in him. Anger and grief, rage and despair, all bubbling under his skin. The evidence of yet another traumatic experience Stiles had to go through, one where no one knew exactly what all happened but could only guess. All they got were the aftermath effects of what was happening to Stiles in the Astral realm. Now they had to wait and hope that Stiles would tell them, tell them what he went through for the whole week. If he ever would. 

When Noah brought him his cup of coffee, he smiled at thanks, but didn't immediately start drinking. He just kept sitting on the bed next to Stiles, his eyes on his lap, staring at nothing, but lost in his thoughts as they kept taking him to the possibilities of what Stiles faced. He must have looked rather tense since Noah cleared his throat sitting in the chair he pulled up to sit next to Danny. 

"He will be fine," Noah said gently, nestling his own cup in his hands, sitting back in the chair, his eyes on Stiles before looking at Danny. "Thanks to you."

Danny scoffed. "I did nothing."

"Oh I beg to differ," Noah said, taking a sip of his coffee, his blue eyes still trained on him, a smile in their depths. "I think your quick thinking might have saved my son's life."

Danny shook his head, finally taking a gulp of his hot coffee, enjoying the bitter taste, hoping the caffeine will help keep him awake. "I still did nothing. I had a hunch, a theory that panned out. That was all."

"Theory or not," Noah said, leaning forward a bit, urging Danny to look at him, "you helped save him. Stiles would never let you belittle that and neither will I."

Danny felt himself give a small smile. The Sheriff was right. Stiles would not stand for him to think he did not help. He would most likely slap him upside the head for thinking otherwise and then thank him. Danny didn't want praise or gratitude for this. Not after the week long quest to wake Stiles up. In fact he wished it had never happened. Despite them all learning about how magical Stiles really is, Danny wished it didn't take Stiles being in danger-again-to learn about it. He and Stiles already knew about him being a mage. They learned that over a week ago, they just weren't sure what that meant. They still don't really. That was something Deaton would talk to Stiles about after he woke up.

Same was going on with Lydia now. Deaton was trying to tell her everything he could about her. Deaton was not an expert of everything supernatural, but he did have a few sources that could help him when he needed it. Not to mention years of experience as a Druid and former Emissary. So he could help Lydia understand far better than Danny ever could. That was just how it was.

"I didn't ever think his magic could go this far," Danny heard Noah say beside him. "Admittedly I never suspected I would have to worry about such problems. Yet again he surprises me. He is so much like his mother."

Danny didn't know what drove Noah to talk about his late wife, Stiles' mother, but he kept quiet for a few moments. He barely remembered the woman himself. Having met her a few times when he was young. He and Stiles were never really close when they were kids, something he kind of regrets these days.

He still remembered bits and pieces of those days. If he tried hard enough he could remember her long brown hair and brown eyes, so similar to Stiles'. But that would be all, everything fading away to just fragments of things he wasn't sure if they were real or made up. Mostly he remembered his parents, Jackson, his grandmother and some other people from his childhood. He could only see her face from the pictures around the house, momentous of her before she died. He did remember a bit of that. He remembered a few times at school where Stiles would cry, especially soon after her death. He was always trying to hide it, but not many people would say anything on it. Not many people talked to him then anyway. Danny would always feel guilty for those years passed.

So the Sheriff offering up this kind of information freely was surprising to Danny. He thought the man was like Stiles, not saying anything about his mother, never bringing her up out of pain and grief. Danny never pressured, even after learning about Stiles' magic. He suspected Stiles' mother had magic or at least had something in her blood she passed to him. He always assumed Noah knew nothing about the supernatural so he thought he was purely human through and through.

"You were planning to tell him,” Danny asked hesitantly, wanting to know truth. He had gone over a week, the nagging question in the back of his mind going unanswered so why not ask now, right? “That you knew about...all of this?”

Noah nodded his face turning into a frown. “I tried so many times."

"What stopped you," Danny asked, his curiosity gaining more ground.

The man shrugged taking another sip from his mug. "I could never get past my own fears. I never could find a way to tell him.”

"Even I know that Stiles has always been pretty open minded," Danny said with an edge of laugh.

"That's not what I mean," Noah said, dragging a hand down his face then around to the back of his neck. "I spent over a decade, his whole life in fact lying to him."

Danny waited patiently, watching as the man before him took on a sad look that stemmed from years of guilt or sorrow, he couldn't tell. There wasn't anything he thought he could say at that moment, so he just sat there, balancing his mug in his hands, letting the Sheriff say what he wanted on his own. Danny could see where Stiles got that from. When he did speak it was with a hitch in his voice.

"Claudia, his mother, wanted to tell him. Both of us planned to tell him on his tenth birthday, knowing he would have a better understanding then. But when she fell sick, it all changed." He said swallowing hard, not looking at Danny, but at Stiles, still asleep. "She still wanted to tell him, but the more her memory failed her, the more she saw the effect it had on Stiles.”

"He never really spoke of her, what happened after..." Danny let the sentence drop, hoping the Sheriff would understand that Stiles still found the memories painful.

He seemed to, nodding his head slowly. "I guess I had something to do with that as well, for never really bringing her up. Treading lightly like the very mention of her would send him into a downward spiral."

"Did you ever to find help, anything to help sustain the spread, give time?”

He shook his head, his eyes glazed over with memories. "No although it didn’t stop her from trying. She tried spells and did what research she was able to get done. Even Deaton tried what he could to no benefits.”

Danny perked up at the vet's name coming into this. So this is where they know each other, he couldn't help thinking. "Deaton knew his mom?”

"They were friends. When we moved here after she got pregnant, she met Alan. Before settling in the territory, we asked permission from Talia Hale, since this was pack land. A witch in the territory who was not an Emissary would have been seen as a potential threat. Alan, the acting Emissary at the time, introduced us to Talia."

"You met Talia Hale," Danny said in surprise.

Noah nodded a small smile. "She was quite the woman, even then. You could tell she had a presence, even I, a human could feel it. But she was welcoming, warm and open, something Claudia was grateful for. As time passed, working a deputy I worked alongside Talia a few times, mostly when it involved supernatural business that needed to remain hidden and Claudia worked with Alan at his clinic."

"They bonded over shared talents, but it was more over Claudia's desire to help animals. She loved it. She took classes to become a vet, getting tutelage from Deaton before she got her license as a practitioner. Then she worked with Deaton full time, both running the clinic."

"Until she passed," Danny said, although he cringed at his own words. They didn't need repeating.

"Yeah," Noah said sadly.

"Why not tell Stiles all of this?”

Noah sighed heavily, slumping in his seat, forgetting about his coffee now. Danny having much done the same. "After she got sick, Stiles through himself into studying, learning what he could, while hardly ever wanting to leave her side." The man looked so downcast that if like was cartoon, there would be a storm cloud over his head. "He tried to find a cure, anything in medicine to help. There was nothing that could be done and Stiles was too young to accept it.”

Danny nodded, imagining a young Stiles with books scattered everywhere, barely sleeping, scrambling to find answers. Nearly bringing himself to tears out of frustration and the impending fate that was moving closer and closer. The very thought of the boy beside him, fighting for others even so young, made his heart swell and break at the same time. Maybe it was the loss of his mother that drove Stiles to protect others?

"But magic-"

"Magic would have given him false hope." Noah said moving to set his cup on the nightstand beside Danny, then sitting back in his chair, keeping his eyes on the comforter on the bed. "As I said Deaton tried and so did she. His contacts proved to him that for such a complex condition there was no cure. They could whip up potions or perform spells to possibly prolong the inevitable, but the side effects would have been too great. Claudia didn’t want that. She wanted to still be her while she could.”

"So you kept it from him."

"It was an effort to. Claudia was so upset about not being able to tell him. But she did try to leave it behind for him.”

Danny felt his eyebrows furrow. "What do you mean?”

Noah smiled a sad smile, his eyes glistening. "She wrote it all down. Everything she learned, everything she wanted him to know. It was her last chance to show him the truth before she no longer could remember it." Noah took a shaky, deep breath, grounding himself as Danny saw his eyes water just a little more. "She spent weeks writing it all in the book I got her. Deaton helped her even in her hard days when her memory was nearly gone.”

"Why didn't Deaton mention any of this? He knew about Stiles' magic long before the rest of us. Why didn't he say anything a year ago?" Danny was nearly about to split open with all the information. It was so much more than he expected to get from the man. He obviously wouldn't get anything from Deaton so he was surprised Noah would share so willingly. He could only imagine how Stiles would feel once he knew.

"We asked him to not speak a word of it. I wanted to be the one to tell him. I took the book when she was done, hid it away until I hoped to tell Stiles.”

Danny watched as the man's face contorted into a grimace, his eyes still on Stiles' still form, breathing in and out evenly. He knelt forward, his elbows on his knees and he clasped his hands together. Danny noticed he was shaking a little. Trying to hold back tears or finally admitting the truth after so long. Maybe it was both. 

”I never should have let it go on for so long," Noah said in near whisper. "Even after I found out about Derek and Scott." At Danny's raised eyebrows Noah gave a little smirk, reminiscent of Stiles. "Yes I know about them too. The puzzle pieces were there I just had to put it together."

Danny swallowed around his suddenly dry throat. Trying to choose his next words. There was so much he wanted to say, so many questions he wanted to ask, but he settled on trying to be comforting. "After all this time, Stiles tried to keep you away from it all. Yet you knew. You were trying to protect him in return.”

"Part of me wishes I never should have," the man said with a shrug. "The other part thinks I should have tried harder. If I had, maybe then things would be different. Maybe me and him would be closer."

"What!?" Danny couldn't help the sudden rise in his voice. The ridiculousness of that last statement made him want gape and then slap the man. "You are close."

Noah shook his head, the frown on his face deepening, now showing on his forehead. "We used to be closer. But our times together have been interrupted by lies and secrets, both his and mine. I could have changed all of that if I told him the truth. Maybe then he wouldn't have felt the need to protect me. I cannot be mad at him for that, not even a little. I failed him as father, I failed his mother too."

Danny wasn't having this. Enough of this pity party. They couldn't change the past, but he wasn't going to sit by and watch the Sheriff beat himself up over this. If he was being honest, they both were to blame. Their stubbornness obviously having lead them to this point. Danny knew about what it meant to let secrets and lies rip a family apart. This was not the case. Sure they made mistakes, but Stiles would do anything for his dad. After losing one parent, he knew Stiles would move mountains to keep the other. Danny knew about failure, this was not it.

"Look you are not the only one who has lied. Sometimes it is necessary." He said, trying to get the man to understand and stop wallowing in his mistakes. "Sometimes it is easier to hide."

That got the man's attention. He looked at Danny with a mixture of surprise and curiousness, but then change to a wariness that Danny couldn't place. "I take it your parents didn't know you were a witch," Noah asked.

That question sparked Danny into silence for a few moments. He didn't expect this turn of events. He didn't expect learning about Stiles' mother and therefore about Stiles himself, turning into a question about him. About something that was personal to him. He didn't know what to say now anymore than he did when other had asked about his parents in the past.

It was a time he would much rather forget if his was being honest. The very memory of his parents was hard to bare sometimes. He never spoke about them, just like how Stiles never spoke about his mother. The difference being is that their stories were very different. Danny had meant to tell Stiles, about his magic. He had been hiding it from him, hiding it from everyone. The only person who really knew was Deaton and that was because Deaton put it together. He wasn't sure if he even should tell Noah. But given how the man opened up to him, virtually a stranger, he figure maybe he should do the same. He had been holding it back so long, maybe letting someone else know, someone with a history of knowing about the supernatural would make it a little easier.

"They knew," he said after gathering the courage to speak. "They were witches too."

Noah's eyebrows went up some. "Really?"

At Danny's nod, the man leaned forward just a little, asking tentatively, "What happened to them? I was only a deputy at the time, but I never heard about what happened to them."

Danny didn't speak immediately. It wasn't that he was trying to find the right words, but trying to force them past his lips. The very memory of his parents was flooding through his brain, making him feel tongue tied, and his heart speed up. Only two people know about his parents. Himself and his grandmother. There was no one else. Not even Jackson, his best friend, knew about them. He never could bring them up. Jackson did though, several times, but Danny would always round on him, telling him to drop it.

It was something Danny kept to himself, leaving it for him to grieve alone. He did that enough as a kid. Even now it still hurt. Yeah this was a bad idea, he never should have admitted to anything.

When his silence stretched for a long few moments, Noah held up a hand gently trying to tell Danny it was okay. "You don't have to say-"

"No, no, it's okay," Danny said sadly, trying to move past his thoughts. This was still a bad idea, but he owed Noah something, right? "To be honest," he said looking at the Sheriff, meeting his eyes, "neither have I."

"What," he asked.

"I never heard what happened to them. Not since they left."

"L-left?" Danny could see it, the moment it clicked for Noah. The realization at the words, the harsh truth now coming clear. "Oh. I didn't...I so sorry."

Danny shook his head, waving his hand to dispel the man's pity. He didn't want it. "No it's okay." Lie. "That was their choice."

"That doesn't make it right," Noah said softly, but firmly.

Danny shrugged. "They left enough behind to remember them by anyway."

"What do you mean?"

Danny looked down at his hands, holding the mug still. The dark liquid long since cold. He moved one hand to his neck, pulling the necklace from beneath his shirt, the small metallic charm at the end warm in his hand. He spoke carefully, weighing his words as he thought them, letting them slip out as he did. "My magic is not the same as Stiles' or Deatons'. It works differently."

"I don't follow," Noah said in genuine confusion.

"There are different ways to harness magic. Your spark is either a force to conjure it, a source point, or it is a director. Magic can be harnessed by runes, spells, potions, and rituals, even objects," he said in one quick breath.

"What are you saying, that you don't actually have magic?"

"Exactly," he said in a whisper only they could hear.

"But-"

"I am a witch, but there are different interpretations of what a witch is or rather subgroups of them. I fall in the Hedge witch group. It means my magic is not my own." At the Sheriff's stunned silence Danny went on, ignoring his own bitterness. "It does not come from me. In order for me to do anything, it has to come from a source. My Spark is not strong enough to store magical energy, only to direct it. If I try to use my own energy, I become weak often becoming ill. If I use too much, I can kill myself. I have to have a source, channel that magic from it and direct it with my own Spark for my intents."

"And Stiles?"

"He is different. I am not quite sure how much, but I know his magic derives from him. His Spark provides magic. Sure he can probably channel it from other sources, but he doesn't have to. His Spark is strong enough to pull the energy within himself to bend it towards his will."

When Noah nodded his understanding they sat back in silence. Letting everything that Danny said settle. The kid had no idea what Noah was thinking, in fact he didn't want to know. All he had running through his thoughts were his parents. The day that they left, the day when he stopped believing in fairy tales. He remembered that day as clearly as if it were on screen. As clearly as he saw Noah in front of him now. Time didn't make it any less painful.

"This," he said holding up the necklace in his hand. "This is where I draw my magic from. This was my father's. It was his talisman and before that it was his father's. This is the last thing he gave me."

"I'm so sorry Danny."

Danny shrugged, not looking at the man. "It's okay. Like I said they left."

"You were their son, a witch yourself. It is not okay," Noah said honestly, his voice bordering on sadness and tinge with anger. "Did they ever tell you? Before they left, what you were?"

Danny shook his. "I figured it out on my own."

"Your grandmother?"

Danny nodded. "She knew, but she only mentioned it after she caught me passed out in my room after trying to learn a spell. She later explained everything to me. What I was, what I could do, what I could not do, and that was all."

"Is she-" he started to ask but then let the sentence drop slowly.

"No, Gran is not a witch. She just knew based on her mother being one and her son. It doesn't always follow the next generation. Although the potential is always there," Danny finished as an after thought. He wondered himself is his Gran ever wanted to learn magic.

"So she never knew about why your parents left," he prodded gently.

Danny shook his head, scraping a hand through his short hair. "No," he said. "You can imagine her surprise when she woke up that morning, finding me at the door calling out for them."

Noah looked at him with such sadness that it made Danny's inside twist and his gut flutter. This was one reason why he never told anyone. He hated seeing faces like that. He saw it plenty when people found out his parents went missing, at least that is what the official story was. What are the odds of both parents leaving their children, unless it was due to an accident or kidnapping or something? The chances are very slim. So the police put out a search for them, only to come up empty two months later, saying they were giving up the search. Danny expected them to find nothing. He didn't know how he knew that, he just did. His parents were long gone, without so much as an explanation. 

"Does Stiles know any of this?"

Broken from his mind he shook his head, not looking at the man, but at the wall opposite him, not expecting to see anything, but maybe a way out of his own memories. "No."

"Why not."

Danny shrugged, opening and closing his mouth, trying to settle on how much he wants to say. "I...I guess I don't know how to tell him. In our world, people like me, it is... different for them."

Noah didn't ask him to elaborate. The man probably had some idea about what he meant. So Danny just let the conversation drop from there. Both of them settling into a mildly comfortable silence as they waited for Stiles to open his eyes again.

"It seems that we both have things to tell him. Secrets that have been left unspoken," Noah said softly after a few moments.

"I'm afraid so."

 

Unbeknownst to them, Stiles had heard nearly every word. His head slightly turned away from them, the evidence of his overhearing coming from a single tear, etching from the corner of his eye, running down the side of temple into his hairline. Then he faded into sleep once again.

 

* * * * * * *

Danny still sat on the soft bed with Stiles, fighting to stay awake himself. After John left to go downstairs to talk with Deaton, Lydia came up.

She was quiet in her movements, almost like she didn't want to spook him or wake Stiles. She walked closer, moving to sit on the edge of the bed, closer to Danny. She looked at Stiles with expressions of sadness, awe, and confusion flicking across her face. Her strawberry hair was a little more presentable now, but still unkempt from the long night. It was morning now, the sun already rising and breaking over the horizon. It illuminated the room in a warm yellow glow, turning her skin to a golden pale color. Her green eyes were soft as she looked at Stiles, something Danny never expected to see.

After their last meeting, she was so shaken that he didn't know what to expect from her in the future. After the meeting before that, he thought she was going to avoid Stiles. Even then the idea made Danny want to shake some sense into her. To him, both of them were brilliant, easily top of their class. Lydia had always expressed her subtle joy of the competition that was Stiles Stilinski at Beacon Hills High. She hid her talent for years, but she confided in Danny a few times that her brain power was challenged sometimes by the boy next to them both, something she appreciated. Now that she no longer cared about her popularity or social standing, she allowed herself to really shine and quickly rose from a C average to front of the class with only Stiles to compete with. Danny had never thought they would be friends no matter what Stiles wanted, but now, seeing how she looked at him, with such emotion that she rarely showed, he thought maybe he could really be wrong.

Something changed between them and he wasn't sure what it was. 

"So," Danny said in a shy voice. "A banshee huh?"

Lydia looked at him with wide eyes. She seemed to contemplate what she should say, but eventually she settled on a shrug and a small nod. "I guess so."

Danny tilted his head, considering his next words carefully. "You don't seem happy about it."

She shrugged again, her eyes now looking at the comforter beneath them. "I'm still not quite sure what it means."

"Didn't Deaton explain it to you," Danny asked confused.

Lydia nodded, settling onto the bed more fully, pulling her knees up to her chest to wrap her arms around them. "He did. He told me everything I wanted to know, after I was able to speak that is. What it all meant and what my instincts-as he called them-would be telling me."

"Then what are you unsure about?"

"What does it all mean...for me," she asked rather quietly.

Danny scoffed, stretching out a leg to nudge hers with his foot. "You think your life is over or something." When she didn't answer, keeping her eyes away from his, Danny felt the little smile on his lips fade. "You can't be serious?"

Lydia looked at him with plain confusion on her pale face, but she also looked angry. "Of course I don't. But I also see what this life has done to others. How much they have had to endure in order to get through one more day. I could only imagine a world filled with supernatural and magic and now that I live in it, all I see are monsters, nightmares, and pain. That is what I have to look forward to, Danny. Deaton explained enough, but being a Banshee, I literally am the voice of death."

Danny listened as she ranted, her eyes filling with tears and anger as everything came to her in a rushing jolt of what she now had to face. Danny didn't think about it that way. He was actually happy that another one of his best friend's was not quite human too. Now Jackson was a werewolf and Lydia is a Banshee. It meant that he was not alone anymore. He wasn't hiding from the two people he enjoyed having in his life. Now he had the both of them and Stiles, each one of them unique in their own way. Of course he knew that they were not a tight group, especially Jackson and Stiles, but at least them all being different than they once thought they were, was a start.

He never considered the consequences of having them all be different. Of Jackson being a werewolf, having an urge to shift and an even harder time controlling his anger. Stiles now a mage, learning to control his magic and understand it, not to mention deal with repercussions of a night that has changed him deep down that he will barely speak of it. And now Lydia, a Banshee who will be plagued with visions about death and will inevitably be drawn to them in some way for the rest of her life.

Then there is himself.

"I'm sorry," he said softly. "I didn't think about what all this could mean for you."

Lydia grunted an affirmative, but rolled her eyes at him. "Such is fate I guess. I guess there is more to my family than first glimpses."

"Is your mom-"

Lydia shook her. "Even I can tell my mom is not like me."

They sat together, a few minutes passing as they drifted into their own thoughts. It wasn't until Stiles moved, just a small movement, his head turning to the side just a little, making them both look at him expectantly, holding their breaths, thinking he was waking up. Only Stiles kept his eyes closed, his breathing remaining even. It was clear to anyone who would have come in that they were disappointed.

"I never knew, never suspected," Lydia whispered, Danny just barely heard her words. She was staring at Stiles with such sadness and such awe that shocked Danny.

"What?"

"Stiles," she said. That was all she said, leaving it up in the air as if it explained itself. Danny supposed it did. The girl saw and heard enough to know that Stiles was not ordinary.

"He surprised me too," he said truthfully.

"I mean I suspected magic could be a possibility, but I never allowed myself to believe it. And from Stiles," she said in wonder, a smile starting at the corners of her lips.

Danny chuckled. "Well he never really suspected it either. You should have seen his face when he found out."

"I wish I could have seen the packs faces," Lydia said.

"Oh they don't know, but it will be priceless when or if they find out," Danny said before he could stop himself.

Realizing too late what he said, he immediately clammed up faster than he ever has before. Seeing Lydia's face she wasn't particularly surprised, but she still had the quiet, stunned expression in her eyes. Like she was taking it all in and then replaying it in her mind, just to make sure she understood and then repeating it to allow herself to believe it. Danny hadn't meant to say that, knowing that it was Stiles' wish to keep a secret, partly because it was his secret to tell, but also because he knew he owed the pack nothing, not anymore.

However, Lydia may have have found before all of them anyway. Did Danny mention that the girl was brilliant? 

She would have figured it out, possibly. Or maybe Stiles would have told her first. Either way, the rest of the pack didn't know and Stiles had hoped to keep it that way. Danny had to make sure she kept his secret, and his for that matter. He didn't want Jackson to know yet. He was still not speaking to his best friend either. Partly because of his treatment to Stiles in their last meeting, yeah Danny overheard what Jackson said, but also for Jackson's lying to him about him becoming a werewolf and all, wanting to hide it from him. 

That was the pot calling the kettle black, but Danny knew Jackson's reasons were for out of his own selfishness. He desire for more that was hardly sated until he got what he wanted. Jackson was always like that. At least until he met Lydia.

"Why," Lydia asked. "Why don't they know? Or at least Scott or Derek?"

Danny felt his irritation rise at the mention of those two names. It was something he couldn't really help at this point. Over the summer, he has learned a few things about them both. He has learned a thing or two about what Stiles actually meant to them and it was underwhelming even to Danny. In Scott's case it was worse, since he was meant to be his best friend. Hell Danny hasn't even seen a hint of him around town. Not once all summer. As for Derek, well that was more complicated. He was angry with the Alpha, after learning about what he had said to Stiles, assuming what Stiles had done, ignoring the condition he was in that night. Yet Stiles still went out of his way to help his pack, his missing betas. Danny may not like Derek and he may want to punch Scott in his puppy dog eyes for his blatant disregard of his best friend, but he respected Stiles even more for helping with Erica and Boyd.

Danny shook his head nervously. "That is something for Stiles to do."

"Then why hasn't he," Lydia asked, prodding further. "This is Stiles we are talking about. The kid who talks lovingly about curly fries and pop culture. I would have thought he would be spewing he has magic left and right just to shove it in the pack's werewolf faces." She finished with a smug smile that Danny wanted to return, knowing she was right on some level. But she didn't know the truth, the truth about the pack and how he found out about his magic, otherwise Stiles just might have gone about it that way.

"It is not that simple," Danny stumbled out.

Lydia was looking at him suspiciously. Her eyes went to Stiles, running the length of his body, before flicking back to him. She unfurled her legs, inching just a bit closer to him. "Danny what is going on?"

"Nothing," he said quickly. "You just can’t tell them."

"Why shouldn’t I,” she asked with a hard look. "They will find out eventually."

"Because it is Stiles' choice."

She narrowed her green eyes at him, inching even closer to him. Danny hated it when she gave him that look. Something that said she was not keen on being lied to. Jackson learned that the hard way once. Danny was not looking forward to learning the same lesson. But this was not something he could share with her, he had no right.

"Speaking of Stiles," she said cryptically, "he has not been around the pack all summer. He rejected helping with the Alpha pack. Only said he would help search for Erica and Boyd, but his own way, although I suspect you were around for some of it. And Scott has asked me a few times if I have heard from him."

When Danny sat stoically still, she continued. "You two have gotten awfully close in recent months. And Jackson has also said you have been avoiding his calls and messages."

Oh God please, oh please don't let her think Stiles and I are dating. Danny had to admit he like Stiles and he was attractive, but Stiles was right when he said that they could be nothing more than good friends. They had a companionship that they didn't see coming, one brought on by pain and pure unexpected events. Yet it worked. Danny was happy for it. Honestly, he never thought he and Stiles could be this close, and now that they are, he wished it had happened sooner.

"There is something you are hiding from me," she stated, pointing a finger at him somewhat lazily.

Danny sighed heavily, slumping in his seat, hoping to steer her away from any romantic thoughts. "Lydia, believe me, there is a lot I am hiding from you." When she opened her mouth to start her list of objections, he interjected. "I promise I will tell you soon, but there are some things I cannot say. Not yet. Stiles' choice to keep this from the pack is one he must tell you himself. If he wants."

"Why wouldn't he," she asked with a small shrug of a shoulder.

Danny resisted cocking an eyebrow at her. "Let's just say, it is not easy to bring up."

 Lydia sat back giving a little pout. It took her a moment to say, "I bet I can get it out of Scott."

Danny chuckled darkly. "What makes you think Scott knows?"

"Maybe because Scott and Stiles are best friends."

"Scott is busy with Allison to know about what is going on here," Danny said tensely. "I can assure you he doesn't know."

Lydia arched an eyebrow at him, pursing her lips. "Allison and Scott broke up."

Danny gaped at her, feeling his eyes go wide. That was...unexpected. He had to admit that was news to him and he didn't expect it. He also couldn't deny the slight bit of smug satisfaction he felt at the news. Then he also felt a wave of anger again once he remembered Lydia saying Scott had been asking about Stiles. Of course now that Allison wanted space from him, he wanted to run back to Stiles, although he hasn't really been making an effort. Danny was pissed on Stiles' behalf.

"When," he said instead of saying what he really wanted to say which was 'good for her.'

Lydia shifted, flipping her hair over her shoulder. "It was near the beginning of the summer. Allison has stayed over at my house a few times over the months, wanting some time away from her family and Scott. Given the circumstances before school let out, I can see why."

"You have no idea," Danny muttered under his breath. At her narrowed steely gaze he moved on saying, "I haven't seen her around either."

"She has been trying to work through some things. She has been meaning to talk to her dad, but she is still angry and upset," Lydia said with concern on her brow.

"If you had a grandfather like hers, wouldn't you be," Danny asked honestly curious.

Lydia nodded to slowly, settling down to a quiet stillness. Both of them getting lost in the memories of that night and finding out some horrible truths. It was the night that change a lot for them. Set things in motion that they couldn't foretell. Danny supposed they were both destined to come to a point like this, Lydia finding out what she was, and Stiles learning about his true abilities, and Danny coming to learn about them both, but it was that night that helped propel them to here and now. There was so much that remained unsaid as they sat together, both patiently waiting. And as they sat in the room, with the morning light growing lighter and lighter, the boy they had sat with, concerned about when he would grace them with being awake again moved.

Stiles sits up in bed quickly. His eyes snapping open and his breath leaving his body in a whoosh. Danny and Lydia both look turns toward him expectantly, matching looks of concern and astonishment at him finally being awake. 

What they didn’t expect wasn’t what came out of his mouth for the first time in over a week. 

“I know how to find Erica and Boyd.”

Chapter Text

Derek was at a loss. For days, the past week in fact, he had felt troubled, unsettled, nearly ready to break out of his skin. He had no idea why.

The Alpha pack still had not shown themselves since theirs calling card was made. He had no doubt they were waiting for him to make a decision but they wouldn’t wait forever. It was either he make a decision or they would make one for him. Derek feared that outcome and he did all he could to not dwell on it. His focus was still on his betas. His pack was not strong enough to go up against the Alphas. He had only two betas, his uncle who he guess he could also call a beta of his by association, and Lydia who was human. Scott may know about the Alpha pack, but he still wasn't part of his pack. The boy was just...around.

Derek wasn't really sure why Scott was coming over more and more. He had seen him every week, getting to be multiple days a week, often helping to search areas around town or in the Preserve. He and Isaac would often go out together, but other times he would go alone to cover more ground. Derek couldn't pretend he wasn't grateful for the extra help, but he was reluctant to accept it from Scott.

He tried to focus anyway. But for the past week he couldn’t. 

His wolf was much the same. Inside he felt like it wanted to break out, run and howl, desperately trying to get out of the loft and the confines around it. His wolf whined and growled him, but he couldn’t understand why. He felt confused, but he also felt the same cold shiver running up his spine with each passing day. His wolf echoed those feelings, deeply troubled like he was.

Was it the Alpha pack? Was this their way of sensing something wrong on his territory?

If he had an answer to that, he wouldn't be passing the days of the week pacing or sitting restlessly. Anytime he tried to stay still, he found he was still twitching, bouncing his knees or drumming his fingers together as an attempt to move. It was bothering Peter to no end, who was grumbling about it non-stop telling him to settle down. At one point, Peter was tempting him to drink some tea, but Derek never care for the taste of tea, so he declined.

Then suddenly yesterday, his wolf went silent. Completely still and without a single emotion. It woke him from his restless sleep. He was trying to get a few hours of rest, when he realized something was wrong. He didn’t understand it. He felt restless before, but then it was like he was punched in the chest and hole was left over, filled with nothing but air. He felt like he couldn't get air in his lungs fast enough and his body felt heavier than anything he could possibly lift, even with his Alpha strength. If he felt troubled before, this was so much worse.

His senses alert and his focus went all around the loft, searching for a non-existent intruder. The wolf inside him, never once giving away anything. There was no input, no sounds or growls like he usually felt. It was total silence, something he never felt before. Derek had always been in tune with his wolf. Always felt something from it. Anger, sadness, grief, pleasure, but it was never this silent, like it was refusing to be present anymore. That hole that was left behind yielded nothing, just emptiness. 

Lately he couldn't help but feel like a stranger to his wolf. He couldn’t identify what it wanted from him or what it was trying to tell him. He hadn’t felt like that since he was a teenager. For months now he had been getting resistance from it. Angry growls in protests or sullen sounds that bordered on whines. Occasionally he would feel his wolf pace inside him, but mostly it would stay put, almost like it was curling up around itself, not bothering to move. Like it was asking 'why bother?' 

Derek didn't like that. He wanted to understand, but he didn't know how. It started ever since the beginning of summer and Derek had an idea why his wolf was at odds with him or why it was constantly trying to get his attention. He guess it had something to do with Stiles. After telling Stiles to leave him and his pack alone, his wolf seemed to take those words to heart as if Derek had said it to his wolf instead. It was upset with him. 

Derek did that for a reason. A good reason he thought. He did it to protect his pack and himself. How could he trust someone if they would betray him, taking the time to learn about him, just to turn what Derek let loose back on himself? He did that once, and he lost everything. He lost his family because he trusted the wrong person. The only people he could trust was pack. He had to believe that. Otherwise, God forbid he lose anyone else he cared about.

Now to have his wolf go quiet, after so long of hearing it all summer just to stop, like it was stunned beyond reach. What did that mean? He didn’t know what to do about it. If he was speaking the truth, he was terrified. Terrified and sad and he didn’t know why.

He nearly stumbled about five minutes later in shock when suddenly his wolf seemed to jolt into action again, howling and clawing at him again from the inside. His insides burning with a determination from his wolf. Renewed with a howl that rattled even him. This time it was every sound made was in desperation.

Still he did not understand. He tried to listen, but everything was so muddled together. He wished he could speak to Peter about this. Of course the man was not here, he was out who knows where. Also if he did go to him, the man would likely hold it over his head forever. Above all he wished Laura was here to help him.

Derek knew he was never supposed to be the Alpha. He was never meant to the one at the head of the pack. He had never been taught the pack dynamics the Alpha ran by, nor how to handle the power or the threats, both diplomatically or aggressively. He was running blind in all of this. Derek was grateful for the small bit of insight Peter has given him, but Derek needed more. He needed real help, someone to turn to. Someone to stand by him and offer their words when he needed it. Laura would be the perfect choice. She always knew what to do and if she didn't she would think hard on it and would give a well thought out solution. He missed her so much, sometimes it just hurt how he missed her. How he missed all of his family. What he wouldn't give to at least speak to them again, just for a little while. But then he couldn't be that selfish. Laura would scold him on the spot for that line of thinking.

With his wolf back and clawing at him to let it out and all kinds of thoughts dancing in his head, he made a choice. He threw on some joggers and shirt and did the only thing he thought he could do to gain some sense of grounding. He ran. 

 

* * * * * * *

Stiles was out of the bed quickly. He knew he was in his dad's room, he vaguely took it all in as he moved off his dad's bed, which no wonder he felt like he was lying on a cushion. He technically was. He didn't look at the other two teenagers when he got up, his mind on one thing. Well it was actually on a lot of things, but he decided to ignore the rest of them in favor of the one that presently mattered.

"Stiles?"

He heard Danny's voice, but he kept moving, round around the sitting Lydia, who he did barely registered, and heading out of the room to his own. He caught himself on the wall of the hallway as he stumbled, feeling his vision cloud and get spotted with dots, before it seemed that the hallway twisted a bit like a fun-house. He nearly wobbled on his legs, but he was able to hold himself up. He was ignoring the flip his stomach made at the sound of his friend's voice. Stiles imagined he wouldn't hear that voice again. The nightmare he had felt so real and maybe it was, he couldn't be sure. He felt everything that happened. He could feel his throat close up and his heart clench as Danny followed him, calling out his name. Stiles fought back the urge to touch Danny, just to make sure he was real, but then was the nightmare? Was anything he endured?

He shook off the odd dizziness and rounded into his room, pulling out the books Deaton gave him, flipping through the Enchanting Herbs and Plants copy first. He was searching. Searching for the one thing that has become a regular in his dreams.

He didn't realize how quick he was brushing through the pages, ignoring Danny as he came in.

"Stiles, you said you knew how to find Erica and Boyd."

"Yeah, yeah, u huh," Stiles said distractedly. He barely heard Danny, his eyes still on the flutters of pages. It had to be in here. Or at least in one of these books. He had to find it. It was the only thing that could help. He knew that much. After finishing through the Herbs and Plants book he through it over to his bed, picking up the next book in his large stack that seemed to have gotten much bigger. Weird? He didn't remember having a book on Rituals and Mystic Arts

"Stiles wait a minute," Danny said, coming closer to him, concern laced in his tone.

Stiles was moving too fast. He couldn't stop. He could feel his magic twist and churn in his chest, equally as antsy as he is. 

"I have an idea on how to find them," he said absently, still looking through the text. Searching for the words that might help. There was some pictures too, but nothing was helping.

"Okay, how," Danny asked carefully.

Stiles didn't know how to answer that question. He was working off off intuition or his gut. Whatever it was. He had an idea and he was running with it. In his mind it made sense, but to someone else, he wasn't so sure. Stiles knew that Danny was probably going to ask him some questions. In fact he himself had questions. Like why was he in his dad's room? Why is it looking like mid-afternoon? Where is his dad? And Luna?

One thing at a time he told himself, he couldn't get distracted now. "I just...I have a feeling. That is all I can say."

"Well do you know where they are," his friend asked like he was trying to talk to a crazy person.

Stiles shook his head, still refusing to look at Danny, still brushing through pages as his eyes scanned as quick as he could. "No, but I may know of a way to find them. The tree, I need to find that tree," he muttered, more to himself than anyone else.

"Tree," he heard Lydia ask near the doorway, but Danny beat her to it.

"What tree?"

Stiles answered haphazardly. Not really paying attention to their conversation. He had the image of the tree in his mind. His magic felt sluggish to him, but it was there, gently flickering inside him. He vaguely noticed his mouth was dry and he felt a little nauseous. Maybe that was from the dizziness. "There's a tree I keep seeing. Even when I was dreaming I saw it."

"Stiles," Danny said gently, tone soft and concerned, "you weren’t dreaming."

Stiles didn't hear what he said. He just bypassed it altogether and said, "Sure, sure. I need to go. I need to research a few things. Maybe go see Deaton. I think it all means something. I mentioned it to him before and he said he would look into it. I wonder if he found anything, I think he might have a little information. Yeah, I’m sure he would know something about it. Anything would help. Even if it is nothing, I think it would be good to know."

He was already gathering a few books into his arms, which felt heavy to him. Even with the three books he carried, he felt like he was about to drop them. They weren't heavy books. Stiles felt like his arms were made of jello. They shook as he attempted to heft them higher and hold them against his body so he could move. 

"Stiles dammit just wait a minute!"

Stiles stopped at his friend's raised voice. He looked at Danny for the first moment in what felt like forever. His nearly dropped his books just so he could reach out to touch him. Just so he could see if he was really there. He felt his throat close and nearly choked on a breath as he saw Danny's dark, concerned eyes take him in. Stiles took a moment to look at his friend, and he really looked at him. 

Danny had dark shadows under his eyes. He looked worn out, but his eyes seemed wary, focusing on every movement Stiles made. His hair was a little unkempt and his skin was paler. He wore a pair of joggers and an old looking T-shirt, as the color seemed faded. His clothes were wrinkled too, something he never saw Danny in. Danny always looked put together, almost as well as Lydia or Jackson did.

It made him wonder about a few things. Namely why was he in his dad's room?

"Where’s dad," he asked suddenly.

Danny's expression changed to said that he was caught off guard by that question. "Um...he took Luna out for some fresh air at the park. Said he’ll be back in a little bit."

Stiles nodded. "Okay okay, because I need to talk to him. Actually I need to talk to you too." He glanced at Danny quickly, trying to not fidget under the boy's gaze. "But first things first. I have stuff to do. Talk to Deaton and...I need my laptop too. That will help."

He was already looking for his phone and laptop. He couldn't find his phone, but his laptop was still perched on his desk, plugged in and ready. "Stiles," Lydia said, still softly, making her presence known again. She was quiet, almost reserved, but her voice was strong. That was something he felt very familiar with.  "This tree you are talking about, does it have a lot of branches? Looks very old? Kinda creepy?"

"Well I don’t know. I don’t know what it’s branches look like. It's just a stump. A very large stump. With big roots and a crack down it’s center," he said honestly, booting up his computer.

"Isn't that the same stump you mentioned the first time you had-"

"That dream? Yeah," Stiles finished for Danny.

Danny came a little closer, still inside Stiles' peripheral vision. "Stiles you weren’t dreaming."

"What do you mean," Stiles asked still not really looking at him.

"There's a lot you missed in the time you have been out," Danny said hesitantly, almost like he was talking to a someone who was scared.

Stiles stopped his typing, to listen a little better, but he still didn't turn around. "How long was I out? A couple hours? A day? What all did I miss in a few hours of sleep?"

"You really don’t know."

That got him to turn around. He was getting annoyed with these cautious questions and he had research to do. As hard as it was for a dream to be helpful, he thought he would give it a shot. Maybe that tree stump did mean something. It obviously helped me wake up, didn't it, he thought to himself. "Know what?"

"What you did," Danny pressed gently, almost coaxing him.

Stiles wasn't having that. "What the hell are you talking about," he asked in exasperation.

"Astral projection Mr. Stilinski," Deaton said surprising them all, as the man stood in the doorway of his room.

Stiles didn't miss Danny turning his head to look at Lydia as she went to sit on Stiles' bed. "I texted him as soon as Stiles woke up," she said to dismiss his glance.

Deaton stepped into the room, holding his usual black briefcase that held his various items, both for natural and supernatural means. The man was in casual wear, but he looked different too. Like Danny he seemed to have shadows under his head, something that Stiles has never seen on the man before. Stiles never made it a point to notice these changes in Deaton, but it actually made him lose a little of the usual mask he always had on so Stiles saw that as a plus. Other than that, the man looked the same. Calm, quiet, demeanor, calculating and knowing eyes.

"Good thing I was on my way over here anyway," he said setting the case down on the floor. "It is good to see you up at about."

Stiles was confused now. What did Deaton mean? Why was Danny talking to him funny? Why was everyone's eyes on him, scrutinizing and wary, like he was about to have a breakdown? Stiles was missing something, he knew he was. Yet he couldn't understand what. The last thing he remembered before his nightmare was falling asleep with Danny, both of them in his room. Yet when he woke up, he was in his dad's room. 

Had something happened?

"Astral projection," Stiles said, remembering what Deaton said coming in. He read about that somewhere, but it was pretty ambiguous to begin with so it didn't make much sense.

Deaton nodded slowly. "What do you remember, before you fell asleep?"

"Uh...Danny and I were here, climbing into bed after talking for a bit," Stiles was not going to talk about what of, like how he created a spell, despite Deaton's strict advisement to never do such a thing, "and then we fell asleep."

"And your dream," Deaton pressed. "What do you remember from that?"

"Well it-" Stiles stopped. He never mentioned having a dream. Of course it was a nightmare, but that was besides the point. "How did you-"

"It wasn't a dream Stiles," Danny said somberly.

Stiles tried to hold on the little bit of hope he had. He knew all along that it wasn't a dream. It was definitely a nightmare, but his gut was telling him that it was anything but make believe. His magic knew it too. It settled inside him like a heavy weight as the memories of his nightmare flashed through his brain. He wished it wasn't real. God, he wished for that.

He thought that if he tried hard enough, then maybe he could convince himself that what he went through was just all in his head. That it was the darkest parts of his fears bleeding into his subconscious. But he knew better. No matter how hard he tried, those images would never go away. The feel of it all, the taste of what happened. He hated it. With everything he had, every fiber of his being, he hated it.

And he couldn't forget.

Resigned to accept it all, he looked at all of them evenly. Stiles refused to break down in front of them. Even if he wanted to curl up in a corner, or run so far and so fast, or scream his lungs out until he had no breath left in him. 

"So astral projection huh," Stiles said a little bitterly. "Who would have thought?"

They all stared at him with mixtures of curiosity and surprise on their faces. Danny seemed unsure of how to approach his question. Stiles didn't bother to tell them it was rhetorical. Deaton seemed unfazed as always. "You don't sound surprised."

Stiles shrugged, but he said nothing.

"What happened over there?" Danny asked softly, his dark eyes full of worry. Stiles could tell he was dreading the answer, but the inevitable itch to ask because of one's own curiosity was sometimes too powerful to ignore. "On the Astral plane," he clarified.

"Nothing," Stiles said dismissively. He wasn't going to tell them, at least not everything. He will tell them enough, enough to get them to see, but that was it. That is if he could bring himself to talk about it.

"Stiles-" Danny began.

"Nothing happened. I was...trapped there, I guess. I handled it the best I could."

Stiles shook his head. He really didn't want to talk about this. He wanted to curl up and sleep. He also wanted something to drink. He felt parched and like he was going to fall over. He wasn't dizzy anymore, but he felt sluggish.

"You can talk to us," Danny said almost hesitantly. Stiles could tell that Danny didn't really want to know the truth. Danny just asked because he had to know. Otherwise it would be like a burning question he could never stop asking. When Stiles still refused to answer, he went on, sounding a bit stubborn. "You had cuts that healed and bruises. Some of them deep. Those don’t just show up on their own randomly. They healed as quick as they came."

"Did I," Stiles said absently. He was picturing each cut he remembered. Each one, now a mark of where he had actually been. Now he had a name for it. It wasn't his dreams, but the Astral plane. "Huh."

It was quiet for a few moments, no one saying anything. Stiles was torn on wanting to break it and wanting to revel in it. It was Danny who broke the deafening, heavy silence.

"That's all you have to say? 'Huh.' You were practically in a coma on another plane for over a week. Bleeding out with each new cut that magically healed and slowly withering away from the trauma and strain your magic was doing to your body and you have nothing to say. Look at yourself! Look at your scars! Look at your body." By the time Danny was done, his eyes were glistening, hands balling up into fists.

Lydia was much the same by that point. Her eyes coasting over him, attempting to be subtle, but not succeeding. Stiles hadn't looked at his body, he didn't really need to. Like he said, he remembered the cuts, every single one. He didn't know that he now had scars from them. Scars that now went along with the ones he already had. Stiles swallowed hard, avoiding everyone's gaze, avoiding looking at his arms lying in his lap as he sat by his desk with his computer. Instead he stared at the floor, like he was guilty. 

Maybe he was? 

Eventually he would see the devastation left behind, but he didn't need to right now. It was all still fresh in his mind anyway. It was his magic that took him to the Astral plane. He should be practicing control over his magic and not how to do spells whenever he wanted. Regardless, what's done was done. It also explained why he felt so run-down. It explained why he felt like he had no energy. He understood now the bags under Danny and Deaton's eyes. He could only imagine how his dad looked.  

A week. It had been over a week. Stiles was asleep through all of it on this plane while he endured the Astral realm. He could feel the heat of tears prickle at his eyes. He lost a week and he caused it. He made his dad and Danny worry about him, because he did not have a handle on his magic.

"Stiles, please just tell us something," Danny said pleadingly.

"I can’t," Stiles said honestly, holding himself back from looking at his arms, at anybody. "I just-I...I just need some time. To process it all or get my head back on straight. I...”

He couldn't finish. What else could he say? He didn't want to talk about it. It wasn't that he didn't trust Danny or that he didn't want to tell him everything. He was afraid of what would happen if he did. Stiles feared what Danny would think of him. If he knew the truth, he feared the look Danny would give him. He also feared that if he allowed himself to feel it all now, he would never stop.

"Okay," Danny said quietly, moving towards Stiles, to put his hand on his shoulder carefully, gently as if he was made of porcelain. "Okay."

Stiles nodded in thanks. It was a silent thanks to Danny for getting where he was going with this. The boy had gotten good at reading Stiles when he was like this. Never pushing too far and never overstepping on his quest to understand. "Anyway," he said after a moment, taking a deep breath before letting it out. "Back onto other topics. Since you are here Deaton, the tree, the one I keep seeing. I think it means something. 

"Does it look like this,” Lydia asked pulling a piece of paper from her purse at her side to show them. Stiles looked at it curiously. The paper had a drawing on it, in blue ink, more of a sketch, like a doodle than anything, but it was enough for Stiles to notice the similarities. The difference was that Lydia’s tree has branches, reach up high and tall. They went off the page, showing how big the tree could be, but all Stiles saw was it's base, large and wide, with roots that seemed to creep up onto the side and then run deep into the ground.

"Yeah. I guess. Like I said I don’t know for sure because I only ever see the base since it was cut down."

"Let me see that," Deaton asked holding out his hand. Lydia passed him the paper, letting him take a closer look. The vet's eyes scanned the picture, taking in the detail, his brows furrowed. "You remember that spiritual place I told you about after our first conversation on this," he asked Stiles after a moment.

Stiles nodded.

"Then you remember what I said about certain spiritual spots possessing a kind of power. Raw and un-tethered. One thing I did not mention was these places of power laid at the place of corresponding ley lines. However, they are not always natural. They could be the very rest place of massive ritual sacrifices, or protected and blessed sites. Those that do present in nature will always be found at crossing ley lines, represented by a natural conduit to release that power. In this case it is called the Nemeton."

"A tree has a name," Lydia asked skeptically.

Deaton shook his head, "It is not just a tree. The convergence of these natural energy lines are proof of that. There are many all over the world. Ley lines are forces of potent raw energy, only the supernatural can sense. It is believed that these are manifestations of Nature’s magic. The Nemeton is the physical representation of that source of power."

"You make it sound like Nature is an entity, like a god or goddess," Lydia said quizzically.

Deaton nodded his head a little. "You are correct. For Druids, Nature is an entity. Often portrayed as a Goddess. Interpretations has changed over time, but the basis remains the same. Nature is seen as force, an eternal consciousness that weighs over everything."

"Okay but I have never seen this before," Stiles admitted. "At least not for real." 

"Neither have I," Lydia said after. "So how am I drawing it?"

"Oh and why is hers standing tall," Stiles asked quickly, making it a point.

Deaton studied the picture for a few heartbeats, his eye scanning the lines of ink carefully. Stiles wished he could tell what he was thinking. "I cannot say on that last part. But Nemeton or Nemeta for plural, acts as a beacon to supernatural. Anyone who is within miles of one can feel its pull. Like magnetism."

"So your saying there is a literal 'beacon' in Beacon Hills," Stiles asked.

"That is exactly what I’m saying," the man said as he gave Lydia back the drawing that she folded and put back in her purse. "Beacon Hills was given it's name because the founders of this town were aware of the supernatural and they too saw the pull the Nemeton had on the creatures that wanted to find it. It is raw power after all, many would seek to use it."

Stiles noticed how Danny was being very quiet about all of this. Just standing there like a statue, face turned down in a frown, eyes on the floor. It looked like he was uncomfortable with this. The reason for that Stiles couldn't guess. "So why are we seeing it in our dreams," he asked carefully, trying to monitor Danny's attitude.

"Perhaps you can both sense it now that you are more open to your abilities. Or that it is a side effect of the power and it exudes. It is different for every being who is part of the supernatural," Deaton suggested.

"Both of us?" Stiles had asked, looking at Lydia questioningly and with equal amount of confusion and curiosity.

Danny answered for her, "Like I said, you missed a lot."

Stiles took that in. His curiosity was peaked that was for sure. But there was a time and place for that. He made a mental note to talk to Lydia later. He had a lot to catch up on it seems. Who knew that he would miss so much in a week? He had a lot to make up and he needed to talk to his dad and Danny as well. There some things being unsaid right now with Danny and he still hasn't seen his dad. 

"So you knew," Stiles said looking at Deaton. "Ever since I brought it up the first time you knew it was the Nemeton."

"I suspected it was a chance encounter," the mocha colored man said, looking at him evenly. "It is not out of the norm for those new to their abilities."

Stiles hated how even after all this time, after their lessons together, the man was still being cryptic. It didn't mean he didn't know why. The man had years of being an Emissary and a Druid. He had to be secretive. It was part of the job. If he allowed his secrets and knowledge to be known, who knows what people would do with it. That also meant people who wished to do harm. Stiles had no doubt that if Kate Argent was still around, she would sacrifice anything to gain the knowledge Deaton had. Stiles couldn't be too bitter about Deaton being cautious. But still, he wished for a day when the man would trust him. Just like he wished that for Derek, but that was a ship long since sailed.

"So even if we went out to look for it, we wouldn’t find it," Lydia asked looking at Deaton, voicing what Stiles was planning to do. 

Deaton shrugged his shoulders and his lips. "Hard to say. I have tried in my younger days to find it, but I never could. It has been said that Nemeta possess the abilities to cloak themselves. Even with magic, you wouldn’t be able to find it. It has to want to be found."

"It sounds like it’s consciously alive," Lydia voiced.

"Indeed. That wouldn’t be a lie. There is still much to be understood when it comes to the Nemeta, even the one here in Beacon Hills. All manners of trying to find it have proven useless. Very few have come to lay their eyes on the Nemeton," Deaton said matter-of-factly.

"Then how are you aware of it? How do you know what it looks like," Danny asked then, sounding curious, voicing what Stiles was wondering.

Deaton looked at him honestly. "Because my mentor had seen it and it does have a history in this town. It's history is rather clouded, but it is said to have been cut down out of fear of it’s power."

"Who would do that?" Lydia asked, leaning forward to put her arms over her knees.

"Take your pick of the supernatural creatures and hunters around the world. If the power a Nemeton can give is as strong as hinted at some will crave it and will do anything in an attempt to harness it. Others will seek to protect themselves from that," Stiles said in conclusion seeing how that would be very bad. Raw power was something many would kill for, many have proven that time and time again. The Argent's were first to pop into his head without much thought.

"Quite right," Deaton said with a nod.

"Well then I guess it is a good thing it is hidden," Lydia said. 

"Yeah."

Just then they all heard his dad come into the house, the familiar clap of the door being close and the clicking of Luna's nails on the hardwood floor below. Stiles moved before anyone else did. He was a little unsteady, but he didn't care, rounding out of his room, narrowly missing Deaton with his arms. He bounded down the stairs and stumbled into his dad who barely caught him as they clung to each other. Stiles held on tight to his dad, who stood frozen for a split second before he wrapped his arms tightly around his shoulder, a hand in his hair, pulling him ever closer.

"Son," his dad whispered into his hair as he kissed his head.

Stiles couldn't talk. He knew the moment he saw his dad, he wouldn't be able to stop himself from wanting to throw himself at him. The urge to touch his dad, to hear his voice, and see him was stronger than Danny. He wasted no time as he clung to his old man, burying his face in shoulder his new too well. If he felt a tear or two fall from his eyes, he didn't notice. He was too relieved, too happy to hug his dad again.

Luna was whining and huffing around them, her nose and body nudging at them both as they stood there, not breaking away. The sound of her nails echoing in the foyer. Stiles could feel her soft fur against the bare skin of his calves and knees. He took even more comfort from that. The symphony of her soft whines and her incessant need for attention helping to spur a calmness in him as he breathed in his dad's cologne and the scent of the house around them.

Finally they broke apart, his dad gently pushing his son back just a bit to look at him. His dad's warm hands cupped his face. Stiles realized that he had tears in his eyes, a relieved smile on his face. 

"Dad stop," he choked out. "If you start crying then I will too."

"I'm not crying," his dad said, swiping away at his eyes, before pulling him into another hug again. "Who's crying. I just...I'm glad you're okay."

"Me too," Stiles muttered against his dad's shoulder.

Everyone else came downstairs, soft expressions on their faces. Stiles stepped away from his dad, just to kneel down to pet Luna who was still overjoyed to see Stiles and get attention from him. It made Stiles' heart clench at the sight of the beautiful German Shepherd twist and turn so he could pet every part of her, licking and whining under his hands. Stiles couldn't help but chuckle in happiness. Stiles looked up in time to see Deaton and his dad shake hands and him greet Lydia with a smile and a nod. 

Yeah Stiles missed a lot alright. He needed the story about what happened on this side. Of course he dreaded when his dad would ask about him.

Thankfully his dad perked up and asked, "Who's hungry. Pizza anyone?"

Everyone nodded. Stiles nearly wanted to object at the unhealthy food, but his stomach gurgled at the thought and he said nothing. He figured it had been a stressful week so why not indulge. Especially when it came to himself. Of Deaton wanted to excuse himself, but his dad said no. Something about the way they interacted with each other made Stiles look at them curiously. It made him wonder. It was like they hadn't met each other a week ago. Or at least hadn't started to really interact with one another a week ago. 

His dad ordered the pizza and within twenty minutes they all gathered around the table to eat. Talking about nothing and everything. No one brought up the past week. Stiles saw that as a blessing. It was a nice reprieve from the stress that was building in his gut. He would rather spend time with his dad and Danny and Lydia first, time as just a kid, before diving into what his life has really become. So they talked about school starting again in less than a month, reminding Stiles about the time he lost, about how Lydia's mom is doing and that she got a position at the school for next year, Danny and his grandmother, Deaton and the clinic and anything fun and interesting going on around town.

If there was a shadow outside the window near the front of the house for a moment, no one had seen it.

When Stiles excused himself to go use the bathroom, carefully stepping over Luna who laid at his chair, not wanting to leave his side for most of the evening, he meant to make it quick. After relieving himself and washing his hands, he temporarily forgot when he looked in the mirror. He forgot about what he would see, what would inevitably be there. His breath hitched in his throat as his eyes lingered on his reflection.

He barely recognized himself. He was pale, paler than usual, his eyes sunken in and with shadows under his own eyes, like faint bruises. He seemed thinner, not by much, but enough for him to notice the change in his body since he knew his body well. His hair was longer, now enough to run his fingers through and grasp. But above all, it was the scars. Thin pinkish-white lines marked his body. The ones' on his arms were smaller than all others, except for the one that went from his shoulder down to the inside crease of his elbow. The rest were like scratches that would never leave. He noticed the one on his neck, that was below his right ear down to below the collar of his shirt. Hitching up the fabric he saw the devastation that was his torso. More scars across his sides and over his chest. The one from his neck went past his collar bone and crossed over the one that Grant left in the woods, the one that went from his tip of his collar bone to over his nipple. His back was the same. More white lines speckling his pale skin. Some minor cuts like his arms, other's were longer, especially the one that went from side to side, long and deep. He remembered every single one. Every cut singed into his brain as he stared at them.

When he looked back up at his eyes, they were still whiskey brown, but with flecks of gold in them that weren't there before. They no longer swam like melted chocolate, but now looked hard like topaz crystal. It was unnerving, but no less true. He even saw the scars on the top of his thighs and few on his calves. With each piece of skin he saw, his eyes seemed to grow brighter and harder. 

His phone buzzed in his pocket that he took it out to see a text from Scott.

Scott: Hey bro. Can we talk?

Those were the words that set him off. He immediately broke, his eyes flooding with tears that were unexpected as they were bound to happen. He wasn't crying because of Scott or about what happened between them, he was crying for himself.

He didn't recognize himself anymore. The boy in the mirror wasn't someone he recalled. The scars, the fading bruises, the shadowed eyes, and the hard, bright gaze. It was like looking at a double that was not him, but a rip off. Yet was it? Look at the things he had done. Look at what he has been put through. The doe eyed, hyperactive boy was not the one looking at him in the mirror. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't see that guy anymore. His tears ran down his face in small rivers, dropping to the floor. His breaths came quickly and he clutched his gut as his magic burned inside him as if trying to offer comfort. He cried for himself. He cried for what he lost and what he endured. He cried because he feared he was no longer who he once was.

 

* * * * * * *

Stiles was in the living room with Danny, he was on his laptop looking up satellite images of Beacon Hills and maps of the area. He wanted to go out and find that tree. The Nemeton was a constant image in his mind right now. Now that he knew the significance of it he couldn’t shake it. He felt like he wanted to go run in the Preserve to find it yet he couldn’t really tell why. Stiles wasn't really sure what he would do when he did find the Nemeton, but he hoped, that this 'conscious magical' tree would be able to help him.

He was doing everything he could to not think about the fact he lost over a week. That his 'nightmare' wasn't a nightmare as he wished it was. To think he could astral project was crazy and that was something he was going to speak to Deaton on. After the first time, after that first bruise he got on his shoulder, he knew that this was something. He just didn't know what. Now that he did, he worried about it. He didn't want to accidentally go back to the Astral realm. He had already texted Deaton earlier that night, giving him a private message, telling him that wanted to know of a way to prevent it from happening again. Deaton said he would look into and said that he had been working on that for him anyway. He said he would get to him soon.

Until then, Deaton ordered him on bed rest. Told his dad that he need to build back up his strength. He need to sleep, despite being unconscious for over a week and he needed to consume nutrients to help rebuild his energy. That was something Stiles could get behind. He felt starved. He ate a whole box of pepperoni pizza on his own!

It didn't make him feel better. Mostly because it had already happened. After he peeled himself off the floor of the bathroom after fifteen minute cry, the soft taps of his dad knocking on the door asking if he was okay, he shook himself out of it and put on a face. Something he was getting very good at. He had to keep it together.

Stiles tried to shake the thoughts away, pushing them down. He knew that Danny and his dad wanted explanations, but he wasn't ready for that. Despite what he thinks his dad knows, the man did not know the full truth. The truth about what happened to him, on the Astral plane or before the beginning of summer. At least he hoped not. Thankfully no one pressed, at least not yet.

He was searching his laptop, sitting on the couch while Danny was reading the books on the floor, at least the ones in English and Spanish. Stiles hid a small smile each time Danny pulled out his phone, looking up a word or phrase in Spanish Danny didn't recognize. He wanted to tell Danny that he would help with the books later, but he wasn't going to pass up the opportunity for help. Lydia and Deaton had left a little after dinner, wanting to let Stiles rest and saying they would stop by again another day. Lydia saying she might stop by tomorrow. After the swell of voices and conversation, it was a little jarring at the silence going on. Even with his dad in his office, Stiles barely heard anything, but the turning of pages and the clicking of his keyboard. Even Luna's soft breathing at his feet was so quiet to him. He could only imagine how Danny and his dad felt after their week.

Speaking of which, his dad came in, holding a rather large bag with a strap over his shoulder. A grim look on his face.

Stiles sat up straighter immediately, bracing for his dad to say that he was leaving or heading to work. But the man wasn't wearing his uniform, so he was at a loss of why his dad had that look. 

Before he could ask his dad spoke, "Danny can you give us a few minutes."

The boy nodded, giving Stiles a small smile before heading out of the room and upstairs, coaxing Luna along with him, her tail wagging playfully as she went. When they were alone, Stiles looked at his dad evenly, keeping himself still even though he was itching to ask what was wrong. His dad looked exhausted. Bags and shadows under his eyes, weathered looking and wary like he thought Stiles was about to disappear in front of him. He seemed a little twitchy like he didn’t know what to do with his hands, one gripping the strap of the bag and the other at his side, his fingers rubbing at each other in a nervous gesture.

Stiles looked closer seeing the uncertainty in blue eyes he knew well. His dad looked...afraid. Maybe no wide eyes or panicked breathing, but Stiles had no doubt if he gave his old man a hug, he would hear his heart beating rapidly. The worry lines prominent on his forehead. Somehow, Stiles was calm under all of this. Maybe it was because he knew he had nothing to be edgy about or maybe because he suspected where this was going. 

"Stiles," his dad began, swallow hard. "There’s something-some things that I need to tell you."

Yup, Stiles knew exactly what was coming. He had tried to convince himself of it all being a dream, but he was foolish to think that would be the case. He knew the truth. If the conversing between Deaton and his dad was evidence enough at dinner, then he didn't know what was. He could see how hard it was for his dad to say the words. The man awkwardly came into the room more, sitting the bag down on the floor next to his recliner, sitting down on the edge of the seat, looking like he wasn't sure how to begin. Stiles decided to save his dad from the pressure that he looked to be under. 

"I heard what you said, dad." He began gently, after taking a quick deep breath. He couldn't see his dad look like that, so crumbled by the weight of his next words. He pretended to not see his dad's look of shock and confusion. "About mom," he clarified.

That seemed to be the moment something broke. His dad went stock still, his eyes starting to glisten with each passing moment that went in silence. They stared at each other as the seconds ticked by, turning to minutes. Neither moving.

"I’m so sorry Stiles," his dad said, voice cracking over those few words.

"No dad let me talk please," he said quickly. He knew that if he let his dad talk first, he wouldn't have the strength to say what he needed to. He wouldn't be able to say it all without the floodgates opening. He thought it was all a dream before, now he was sure. And he didn't quite know how to really feel about it. So he did what he did best...he talked.

"I don’t blame you. I don’t blame anyone. Not you, not her. Sure I wish I had known, but I understand why you kept it from me. I know losing mom was hard and I know you didn’t want to lose me too if I had gotten involved in all of this. The uncertainty, the constant danger that we can't see, I get it. I really do. I never imagined that this-any of this-would happen." He indicated more to himself and the books around them as he spoke. "I just wanted to keep you safe."

"Stiles," his dad interjected, holding up a hand to stop his son. "You are the child and I am the parent. I am the one who is supposed to protect you. That is my job. If I had gotten over my fear, if I had told you everything-"

Stiles went over his dad's words with his own, trying to hold back the tears threatening the back of his eyes. He could feel them creeping up, making his eyes warm and heavy. "I didn’t ask for this. Any of it, but I also didn't run from it when I probably should have. I've just been taking it in stride. I didn’t want you to worry and I know how hard your job is. I just didn’t want my involvement to lead back to you. I thought if I could keep you away from this, that you wouldn’t have to learn about all this. That you wouldn't be in danger. I made that call because I had the power."

"Son-"

"I just didn't want you to get hurt because of all of this, because I didn't do enough. I thought...I thought..if I had done that then maybe I could make up for mom."

He was trying so hard to keep the tears back then. His throat was closing up. He could feel the water in his eyes, but he refused to let them fall. 

His dad looked at him for a few silent moment, his eyes wide with disbelief. Before the man got up and came over to sit on the thick maple coffee table in front of Stiles. He positioned himself in Stile's view, dead center. "Don't you dare," he said with a hard tone that surprised Stiles. "Don’t you ever think you failed her. What happened to your mother was something no one could have helped. There are some things that cannot be helped."

"But ma-magic-"

His dad shook his head, closing his hands around his son's in a tight, warm grip. "Magic can only do so much. Believe me, son, we tried. She tried. There was no spell that could reverse the effects. Perhaps slow it down but the mind is it’s own kind of power. There were too many variables that were unaccounted for and your mom did not want to spend the rest of her life, the rest of her time with you, trying to find a hopeless cure.”

"I tried to help," Stiles whispered, swallowing around the lump in his throat. Not many people knew how much he tried. He researched even then, doing all he could to find a cure for his mom's sickness. Going to every doctor's visit, every exercise to help sustain her memory, every CAT scan. He would have his mom take him to the library, looking up all manner of books to try and find anything to help. Researched online for articles or treatments. He spent the better part of two years as his mom's memory slowly dwindled away into nothing, looking for any hope. His mom would often smile and listen to his findings, telling him he did good or that she would check with the doctors. He remembered his dad giving him encouraging pats on the back, firm hugs at the progress he made, just for all of it to prove of no worth.

In the end nothing helped. Stiles never knew his research was being countered by his mother's. Looking not for a scientific cure, but a magical one. Even then, there was nothing.

"I know you did," his dad said softly. "She was proud of you for that. She knew you would stop at nothing to find answers. Which is why she helped you. She stayed with you while you studied and read everything you could. Learned everything with a vigor that brightened your eyes with each new information, wanting to share it with her."

"All to no avail," Stiles muttered, feeling the first tear slide from his eyes.

Noah shook his head. "No. You gave her something better than a useless cure."

Stiles tried to hide the shake of his bottom lip as he looked at his dad. He believed then that those weren't useless cures. He believed then that they would work. Who was he kidding? "What," he asked, not really wanting to know the answer, but asking anyway.

"A glimpse of the very man she knew you would grow to become. The young man that I can attest to. The one I see everyday with her smile and her eyes."

Stiles was gripping his dad's hand back so tightly he thought it was painful for the man, but he didn't seem to mind. He looked at his dad's calm and assuring face, the man's own eyes glistening with tears. He didn't resist when his dad pulled him into a tight hug, both of them leaning into each other across the small space between them. Noah wrapped his arms around his son tightly as Stiles clutched onto the side of his dad's shirt. Stiles didn't bother to stop the tears then as he ducked his head into his dad's shoulder. He knew it was bound to happen anyway. Ever since the dream, he thought it was too good to be true. That his dad knew all along and that his mom did too. He felt a weight off of his shoulders almost instantly, as warmth settled in his gut as he allowed himself to hold onto his dad. The heavy tears falling from his cheeks freely. He didn't care that Danny was there. He was relieved that he no longer had to hide from the one person in his life that meant the most to him. 

So he cried in pain-staking, fluttering relief that left him sated in a way that he didn't know he needed. While his dad held him tightly, rubbing soothing circles in the middle of his shoulder blades, saying nothing, but being the strong rock his dad always was. If Stiles felt wetness on his head and the side of his neck, he never mentioned it.

After a good while, they broke apart, Noah clapping him on the shoulder with a wry smile as Stiles sniffled.

"I am proud of you son," he said gently. "And I have no doubt she would be too."

Stiles fought off another wave of tears as he smiled at his dad. "I guess that means that I am off the hook for lying all this time."

"Good try," his dad said with a glint in his eyes. "But I'm trying to think of how long I should ground you."

"What," he said flailing his arms. "That is so unfair. You're the pot and I'm the kettle here."

His dad chuckled. "Be that as it may, I think you have punished me enough by making me eat turkey bacon and tofu stir fry."

"This is what I get for caring," Stiles said with mock hurt. 

"This is what you get for me caring," Noah said getting up from the table, cracking his neck as he moved.

Stiles glared at his old man although it lacked any heat. He pointed a finger at him. "That's a double standard there. Don't make me take away the Dove ice-cream bars and Drumsticks. Not to mention your stash of candy bars in your office."

"Come on," Noah said with a huff. "I am still the parent here."

"And as my parent," Stiles went on, sitting back on the couch with a smirk, "I expect you to live a healthy life until I reach at least upper middle-age although I am sure I can stretch that if I get rid of the candy bars. Oh and did I mention the popcorn in the closet?"

Noah rubbed a hand down his face as he sunk into his recliner, leaning back and slipping deep into the seat like he was sulking. "You are a menace."

Stiles smiled smugly. "But you love me anyway."

"Yeah, yeah," his dad said after a groan.

After a few moments of silence, his dad sighed heavily, looking at his son with worry and sadness. Stiles didn't know what brought that on, but he waited nonetheless for his dad to speak his thoughts. It took a bit for him to speak. Stiles could practically see the gears in his dad's head turn as he thought of the right words to use. The black bag was still at his feet, but Stiles forced himself to meet his dad's troubled gaze.

"Son, about the Astral plane, about what happened..."

Stiles stiffened at that. No, it was too soon. He just woke up a few hours ago. He didn't want to think about what he did and what to say to his dad. He didn't want to think about any of it right now. What he wanted was just to be with his dad and Danny and forget even if it was temporarily.

"Dad, please don't," he begged, hearing the hitch in his own voice. He tried not to wince at that. "I'm...not ready to go into that right now. I know you want answers, I do. But I...can't talk about it right now."

"But I just think-"

"No," he said a little forceful. "I am asking you to let me have my space on this. At least for now, please."

His dad looked like he wanted to argue. He looked like he was nearly ready to march him straight up to his room, lock them in there until Stiles fessed up. Stiles understood where he was coming from. The unknown of what happened, the fear of what he went through, that fact that he was not there to help him, Stiles knew all of those pushed his dad's drive ask and push. But Stiles was not going to act like a victim in this. Yes he needed time, but he was not going to give the facts until he could uncover how it all happened and what he could do to prevent it from happening again. He needed time to sort out his thoughts and think over what he wanted to say. He knew how his dad could be and despite his dad knowing about the supernatural, Stiles knew that his dad could only handle so much. The last thing he wanted was his dad to collapse from a heart attack because of what Stiles went through.

Stiles looked at the black bag at his dad's feet. He wondered what was in it, considering it was a kind of big. Apparently he was eyeing it a little too curiously because his dad straightened up, moving to pick it up to place it in front of his legs. Noah had that uncertain look on his face again, but he didn't seem tense this time.

"I have something for you." He said slowly. He pulled out a fairly big rectangle, wrapped in an old linen that Stiles was not sure what it was. There was nothing remarkable about the cloth, but it looked like it made of somewhat fuzzy material like towels were made of. He came forward with the object balanced out flat in his hands. 

He put it on Stiles lap. It was heavier than he thought it was. With slightly unsure fingers, he uncover the object from it's cloth protection. Stiles was right to assume it was a towel protecting it. It was old and smelled like it had been in a closet for a very long time, but it was still soft. Unwrapping the fabric revealed a book. Easily the size of an encyclopedia or at least close to it. It had a simple black leather cover and and back, with a slightly glossy finish. The leather was textured under his fingers, like a reptile scales. He could see the texture if he looked closer, like little circles dotting the surface over and over again. 

Stiles had no idea what this was as he picked the book up and turned it left and right, examining the outside of it. He placed it back on his lap, moving to open the book and looking at his dad with an inquisitive look.

"What is-," he didn't finish.

When he looked back down he stopped mid sentence as his brain caught up to what his eyes were seeing. The pages had writing in them, in bold black ink, some with detailed pictures, others with print outs of drawings of hieroglyphs and illustrations taken from what looked like ancient texts, taped to other pages with captions and then more detailed information on the next page with them. It was a book of his supernatural dreams. It had so much he had not seen before or read. He doubted that it had everything he could ever know, but that didn't matter to him. This was from his mom. This was everything she had written down for him. It was now the most cherished possession he ever had next to pictures of her.

"It was your mom's," Noah said softly. "She made this for you, knowing that you would one day need it."

Stiles flipped through some of the pages, barely wanting to touch the pages in a ridiculous fear of the pages breaking apart or turning to dust in his palms. "When did she-"

"Every night, when you were in bed," his dad was with a small smile. "She worked on it when you were asleep adding as much as she could. Sometimes during the day when you were at school too."

He felt a new set of fresh tears spring to his eyes. Flipping through the pages he came across a page that seemed marked. Or rather it had something stuck between the pages. It was an envelope. Simple white envelope, that felt a little thicker with paper stuffed inside. Turning it around Stiles saw his name on the front of it, written in his mother's elegant hand. He might have stopped breathing then as his eyes went wide.

He didn't imagine a letter being left by his mother. There were days when he wished he could hear her voice again. Where he could feel her or have her speak to him in some fashion. This letter was a way of that happening, albeit not in the way he wished most, but more than he had since she died. Now that he had the letter in his hands, he couldn't open it. He was frozen in place.

"That was also from her," his dad confirmed. "I don't know what it says, she made me promise to never read. I never have."

Stiles nodded numbly. He didn't know what to do. Should he read it? Should he read to his dad too? Should he read it in the privacy of his room and then burn it afterwards? What should he do? He was stock still on the couch, his dad looking at him with a mixture of concern and expectation. His dad wanted him to read it, that was for sure, but he didn't have the strength to make his fingers move. He didn't have the courage to read the last words his mother ever wrote.

"You don't have to read it now," his dad said gently, sensing his hesitation. "It's okay to take your time."

With that his dad, got up and left to go back into the kitchen to pull out a bowl of ice cream. Leaving him alone clutching onto a letter that could say a multitude of things, none of which he was really ready to read. He itched to open it, but then wanted to stuff it back in the book and pretend he never saw it. He desperately wanted to have answer on what to do. But it was clear as he looked at his dad, the man avoiding his gaze as he put scoops of chocolate ice cream in a bowl, that he wasn't going to provide any help. This was up to Stiles.

Without much thought, he put the letter in the back of the book, stuffing it into the crease of the back cover and the last page and closing the Grimoire, saving it for when he felt like he was ready to read it.

 

* * * * * * *

Three days later Stiles spent it trying to get back to his normal routine. Or at least the somewhat normal one. He texted Chris the night before telling him that he wanted to meet tomorrow morning in the Preserve. Chris replied back a few moments later with a simple okay. But then asked about why he had not reach out for training in over a week. Stiles didn't really know what to say without it sounding suspicious or leading Chris to uncover his secret so he simply said that he had been feeling under the weather a bit and his dad was getting a little suspicious that he was leaving pretty early in the mornings. Which was a lie, his dad still didn't know. Chris seemed to take it fine, but without seeing the man's face, Stiles couldn't be sure.

In all honesty he was taking that time to heal himself. After seeing the devastation of his body, he took the three days to help himself. He didn't want Chris to suspect something and either tell the Pack or get worried, which the latter was not as likely as the other. Stiles needed to make sure that he was rested enough. Deaton gave him sleeping potions to help replenish his energy that kept him under for eight hours only, which he used at night only. During the day he researched for the Nemeton and ate, a lot. Mostly it was snack and junk food, but he didn't care. A few times a day, he would call to his magic gently, knowing it was still fairly weak to help heal him just a little. It wouldn't do anything for the number of scars on his body, but it would help replenish his body of the energy and nutrients he lost while his magic was slowly draining him in order to keep him alive while his unconsciousness was away.

So he drove out to the Preserve in the very early morning, having avoided sleeping all night, partially because he didn't feel like he needed it and also because of his fear of returning to the Astral plane on accident. He wanted to avoid doing that again without his consent. He had no idea how he was able to do that and Deaton had speculations, but now that the former Emissary knew that he was a mage, he expanded his search even more to try and find a way to help Stiles prevent it from happening again. So Stiles studied his mother's book, nearly tearing up a few times when he read little tips and thoughts his mom wrote to the side of a few pages on certain creatures or spells.

He spent the night before reading through the pages, almost reverently, going over each sentence slowly so that he could commit it to memory as best he could. This was his mother's book, she wrote it for him while her memory remained. He had spent a full hour, with the book balanced on his lap, looking at the envelope with his name on it, trying to get up the courage to read it. Each time he tried, his fingers would tremble and his throat would close up. Ultimately he had sat the letter to the side in favor of reading the contents of the homemade Grimoire his mother took the time and energy to make for him before she passed. He still hadn't read her letter and he doubted he would be able to in the near future.

There was so much material. Spells and rituals, to herbs and plants, to creatures and monsters that Stiles had yet to ever see. Some of which he hoped he would never come across and he prayed his mother never did, just heard or saw from afar and that was it. All of these things were evidence of her life, everything she had uncovered little by little and he was in total awe and gratitude for it. There were things written in that he had not read in the books Deaton gave him, things he had not learned yet. By the time he deemed it okay to get up and head out to meet Chris, he was just barely halfway through the book.

He quickly dressed and brushed his teeth, pocketing his phone, just before dawn had peaked over the horizon. Meeting Chris at their 'reserved' spot in the Preserve, they quickly got back into his training routine, fit with cardio, strength training, and sparring techniques. Chris had no once brought up his sudden disappearance for a week and Stiles was grateful for it. He didn't want to deal with any of that right now. He wanted an outlet to his emotions and his thoughts. He wanted a distraction and training was helping with that.

Chris taught him a few other sparring techniques, mixing it with his boxing. It took Stiles barely two tries before he executed them perfectly and Chris was surprised how quick Stiles retained them. Chris commented on his speed and reaction time, telling him he had really improved since they last met up. Stiles tried to hide his scowl at that.

It wasn't that he didn't feel pride or happy about his improvements, it was how he came to improve so quickly. It wasn't his magic, it was what he learned on the Astral plane. It was what he endured for what felt like endless hour there and what was actually a week here.

He wasn't using his magic during the whole time, not once. He could feel it under his skin, but he never allowed it to push him to do more. He didn't need to, not with this. He tried to not feel bitter or sad at the turn of his thoughts. His time in the Astral realm has taken it's toll on him, body and mind. He had already seen what it did to his body. His magic was still strengthening anyway and while he did feel better and less groggy or exhausted, he was still a day or so away from feeling like his usual self.

If he was being honest, he barely noticed how much he had improved when he blocked and countered Chris' advances. They had moved on to weaponry wielding some time ago. Stiles favored the knives while Chris had a knack for firearms more. But it didn't mean the man wasn't proficient in long array of weapons he seemed to have. When he noticed how well adjusted Stiles became at blades, he decided to use it more in their sessions.

He was getting better with each week, learning too step and carry the blade like an extension of himself rather than just a weapon. He recalled when he was still unsure of himself. Even a week ago he was hesitant. Often overthinking his steps and his next movements into another. Chris often scolded him on saying to stop thinking so much, to not treat it so shyly. If he was to wield the blade, then he had to actually be present in the here and now, with said blade. Now it was different.

Stiles was far too familiar with the cold steel of the daggers, knives, and short swords he used. He swung and twisted them in a confident way he didn't have before. It was something he didn't take much notice in until later, after he came close to swiping the blade across Chris' chest, narrowly pulling back in time so as to not harm him, merely cutting the fabric of the older man's shirt. When Chris noticed his eyes went wide, a glimmer of surprise and strangely what looked like pride.

"I'm done for the day," Stiles said quickly, turning to wipe his forehead with his arm, going over to the Chris' trunk to put the dual knives he had inside.

Chris seemed to hum behind him. "You were doing so well."

"Too much of a good thing and all that," Stiles said nonchalantly, trying to quell down the thoughts of if his blade got just a little closer. He swallowed hard, ignoring the slightly faster beating of his heart. Something else he has come to notice that changed. He no longer felt the nervous pattering his heart made at these exercises. Having had enough to squash those nerves. "We both know I am clumsy," he said as a distraction. "I say we quit while I'm ahead before I do something that is dangerous like poke my own eye out."

Chris huffed as he moved beside him, untangling the bindings on his hands to help with his grip. He put his own blade in the trunk. "You have improved, rather exponentially, I might add."

Stiles tried not to fidget under the man's scrutiny. "Probably just a good day. Or maybe you are getting slower, old man," he said with a smirk.

Chris chuckled beside him. "Careful, Mr. Stiliniski. I may be slower, but it is not always speed that wins the upper hand."

Stiles knew that that was true. There were many things that could win one the upper hand, but he was not going to voice his opinion on those. He was afraid of what Chris would say if he knew the truth about Stiles. The man was a hunter for heaven's sake. He has hunted supernatural creatures for years. He may have a code, but Stiles was not completely sure what contents went into that code. Stiles was not a werewolf nor was he a were of any kind. He was a mage.

He was still learning what all that meant, but he was not sure how others, like hunters would see it. If Deaton's words were to be heeded, then it meant that his magic is like a shiny treasure to others in the supernatural community. It meant he was a target. One others will come for.

"True," he allowed, wiping off his forehead again, looking up at the sky. It was late morning now, nearing noon based on the position the sun was in the sky. There were some grey clouds in covering up the blue of the heavens above, but it didn't worry Stiles. He took deep breaths of the air around them, smelling the Preserve. The smell of trees, dirt, fresh air mixed with the other natural scents. "Anyway, I'm going to go. I'm going to meet a friend in town."

Chris nodded in understanding. "You did well," he said. 

Stiles smiled rather shyly before nodding. "Thanks." Stiles was about to turn away to head back to his jeep a little bit away, but stopped himself, needing to say something else. "And thanks," he said looking at Chris beside him. "Thank you for teaching me all of this. I know I sort of guilt tripped you into doing this, but I am grateful. I know I am not easy to handle."

"You're welcome," Chris said evenly, giving Stiles nod. 

Stiles took that as his moment to leave, letting himself roll his shoulders loose before they locked up from the exercise. He headed to his jeep, just barely reaching for the door when Chris spoke again already having got into his truck, the driver side door still open. "Do not think of yourself as a burden Mr. Stilinski. I may not have trained anybody, but Allison, but I have found this a rather...enchanting experience myself."

Stiles felt his eyes go wide just as Chris gave small wave as he close his door and started up his truck to drive away. Stiles stood frozen for a few moments even as Chris left, kicking up a little dust as he went. He couldn't move, he barely breathed as his heart jumped a few beats. He replayed the hunter's words in his mind.

Was that a tell? Did Chris know? He couldn't know. Stiles has been so careful. At least that is what he thought he has been. Except for that one time where he set the punching bag on fire, but that was once.

Either way Stiles had to be even more careful. Chris may not hurt him, but he was not sure about that. His magic was swirling inside him, providing some comfort at his struggle to understand. He was happy to have that, but there were times, where he wished his magic told him what to do. He wished it would give him advice and tell him what he could not see. It would be of serious help when he needed it. He already cherished his magic, even though he hasn't had it for very long, now he couldn't imagine the rest of his life without it.

He wondered if his mom felt the same way. Or if Danny does too. He needs to talk to Danny about a few things. There was more that he heard while he was still unable to fully regain his consciousness, but he did hear enough. He needed to sit Danny down and talk over a few things. He had no doubt Danny needed to say a few things, and frankly so did Stiles.

Leaning against his jeep, he contemplated on what to say to his friend, but he didn't get far when he felt a release in his mind. Like something just broke. He reached with his magic to feel his wards, knowing that was what he felt. Something has broken from his wards. Judging from the force of it, it was fast, but not very big. And it was to the east a few miles away.

Stiles wanted to take his jeep and head out and down the road to get closer to where the breach was, but he didn't. He felt a tugging in his chest. His magic seemed to curl around itself before leaping against the inside of his ribs and chest. It wasn't painful, but it felt like a nudge. It was nudging him forward. This only happened once before and that was the first time he entered the Astral plane. He may have thought it was a dream the first time, but he remembered. It was the same feeling, the same urge. His magic was coaxing him to following it's lead. Before it lead him to the Nemeton in the Astral realm. Was it doing the same this time?

He could tell it was urging him to go in the direction the breach was in, but could it be that the Nemeton was that way. So far he hadn't found any maps or leads on where the ancient tree could be, but he was hoping to find it. Was today the day? Hesitating for a moment more, he pocketed his keys and phone, before running off, his magic being his guide.

Wherever he was going, he hoped it held answers. 

 

* * * * * * *

Stiles ran through the brush, his magic acting as his guide. The closer he got, the more his magic seemed to get restless, fanning through him like a heated swarm of butterflies, radiating around his chest, dipping low into his gut and then back up again. The longer he ran, the more the sun became shaded over by thickening gray clouds. Stiles wasn't sure it was supposed to rain, but at this point he didn't care. He had to focus and his magic was urging him to keep going. He was almost there.

In his mind, he felt himself getting closer to where the breach came through his wards. His wards were back up as if it never happened. But there was an echo of it, like a lingering tingle in the back of his brain from where his wards snapped apart and then mended themselves back together. With each step, he coudl feel it get stronger in his head. Eventually he started hearing things. It saw a little thumping and thudding. Then he heard a roar. It wasn't loud, but more like a warning. It was followed by something like a screech mixed with a cry. Turning his head this and that, he did't see anything as he ran through the trees, bounding over the obstacles in his way. He used his magic to push himself faster, sending it into his legs to give him a boost.

Maybe he was close to the threat. It sounded like two of them. Two threats that came through. He supposed that should worry him, but he didn't feel worried. He didn't even feel determined. If anything he felt indifferent, yet curious to know what came through.

In the distance he saw a little bit of light come through the denser trees. There were shapes and shadows passing every so often, but he couldn't make them out. Bursting through the trees he found himself in a small clearing. There was nothing special about it just that it an opening in the Preserve, one of a few. He knew that from the maps he had been glancing at over the past few days. Although he wasn't sure which one he was in. Looking around the area was nothing but weeds and tall, thin grass with some wild flowers and weeds poking through. 

Nothing out of the ordinary, well if you didn't count the black winged monster flying around in a circled and a werewolf snapping and snarling at it, tensely waiting for it to make it's move.

As Stiles looked closer, he realized the werewolf was Isaac, he had a little blood on the side on his face and shirt and pants had a few tears in them with a bit of blood staining them. As the creature lunged at Isaac he swiped his claws at it, catching at it's weeks and torso, a harsh growl ripping from his transformed face. The winged monster was something Stiles had never seen before, or expected. It had dark skin, almost melted dark chocolate in color. It had a thin body reminiscent of a woman's. It's arms were it's wings, large and black with tough looking feathers that seemed to have an eerie gleam to them. The feet were in the not human, but like the talons of a bird, long and sharp black nails, curved to a point. Feather dotted the creature from it's arms up it's neck, down it's torso and sides. What Stiles supposed would be the belly and legs were uncovered and color of the skin of the humanoid face. The monster had no hair and it's head was somewhat pointed on the crown and it's face was rounded, similar to a baby's, but with no nose, only slits like a snake. All of it's teeth were sharp looking, but not as long as Isaac's were. It's eyes were a bright green, clouded with animalistic anger.

Stiles couldn't tell what the winged-creature was, but he vaguely thought he had seen something similar to it before. As he watched, Isaac swiped his claws against the monster's skin, opening up wounds that bled. At least the blood was red from what Stiles could see. The creature kicked out at him, sending him off balance, it's talons scratching down his front, leaving claw mark in his skin. Stiles saw Isaac's face contort in pain as he fell back. Before Isaac could gain his balance, Stiles saw the monster twist in the air, curling it's wings around itself before lunging it's left wing forward, throwing what looked like three knives through the air. The black daggers hit Isaac in the chest, digging in. He roared in pain before thumping to his knees.

It was like the world slowed down and time went to a crawl as Stiles watched Isaac pluck the knives-no they were feathers-from his chest. It looked painful and his face creased with hurt as he growled in pain. He tried to get up, but he couldn't seem to get his legs under him. Within seconds, Isaac went slack and fell back in a heap. The winged-lady circled him, flying up into the air, screeching as she went.

Stiles didn't think, he didn't have time to. Moving quickly, it was like his body was moving of it's own accord. He raised up hands, feeling his magic thrum within him as he called to it. He didn't care about potential consequences like Isaac seeing him. He moved with out a thought because all he saw was the winged-creature coming back around aiming straight for Isaac. The boy was knocked out cold, at least that is what Stiles was hoping for. He feared thinking about anything worse. As the creature came close enough, Stiles muttered a spell, waving his hand out towards Isaac.

The winged-creature seemed to hit an invisible barrier close to Isaac's body, throwing itself backwards at a tremendous force. It fell to the ground, and Stiles thought he heard a loud crack of something breaking. Still running, Stiles made his way to the boy's still form.

Falling to his knees, he check Isaac's pulse feeling it thump under the skin of his neck into Stiles' fingers. He took a second to let out a sigh of relief before he turned to see the creature lunging for him. He nearly avoided the sharp talon on it's feet scraping against his face, but he wasn't so lucky with his thigh and side as he fell backwards in an attempt to get away.

He hissed in pain as they scratched his skin open. The creature was flapping it's wings, trying to hover back into the air over him. Avoiding the kicking of it's talons, Stiles rolled over, throwing out his magic in another spell. This one a like a shock wave, sending the creature back a few feet. Stiles crawled over to Isaac, contemplating on waking him up so he could help. He would come up with an excuse later, but he didn't have time.

The resounding squawk and screech of his foe came behind him. Flapping it's black wings and it's sharp teeth gleaming even in the cloudy day. Waving up his hands, he put back up the barrier, separating him and Isaac from the monster. It recoiled back from the force from hitting the magical barrier, but it pressed on in the next second. Scratching it's talons on the shield, headbutting and kicking out in an attempt to get to it's prey. It's winged arms were flapping furiously as it screeched and cawed at them. Sending itself back with a kick, it threw it's right wing forward, sending two sharp feather at them, barb first. Stiles watched as they hit his barrier and fell to the ground harmless. He could see the that they were wet, glistening with something that he couldn't guess. The black fuzz, gleaming under the light of the cloudy day. It was poison, that much was clear. Stiles was counting his hopes and praying that it was not fatal to werewolves. He had to hurry and get Isaac to safety.

He didn't have a choice but to drop his barrier. But he didn't do that before grasping a hand to the curved dagger he brought with him from home. The one he took from Kyram. If there was a time to put it to use, it was now. Dropping the veil that separated him from the monster, he dodged out of the way as it aimed it's talons at his face, flying past him as he moved. He turned, gathering his magic in his hand.

A ball of fire sat in the palm of his hand, a spell he learned a little while ago, although he guess he had done fire magic before he learned an actual spell for it. When the creature turned back towards him, he threw the ball of fire at it. It moved out of the way, snarling and crying out at him. He did it again. Throwing another one, this time aiming for it's head. It flapped to the right, it's black and brown body a contrast in the cloudy sky. He had a plan, he just needed the creature closer to the ground.

It came at him then, swooping in low, aiming to kill or maim him, it's teeth and claws at the ready. Lunging to the side, he quickly turned to aim his magic at the ground, calling upon what lies beneath. His hand temporarily glowed a luminescent green, before thick vines shot from the ground, tangling into the winged-lady as she flew right into the them. He watched as they wrapped around her legs first, pulling her closer to the ground. Tightening around her torso and one shooting between her feathers to hold onto one of her wings. Stiles watched as she attempted to fly out of them, kicking and raking her talons out jaggedly. Screeching and squawking as she tried. Her green eyes amassed with rage and terror at once. 

Stiles took that as his chance, using it as the only opportunity. She was close enough to the ground that he could reach her. Quickly, he ran over, sliding out of the way of her whipping talons, pulling the dagger free to swiped across her middle, spilling her blood easily and then twisting away as she aimed her teeth at him with a piercing cry, and arching his arm out, turning the blade to point towards her, cutting into her neck down into her pointed collarbone.

Stiles watched as she went stock still, ceasing her attempts to get free, her green predator eyes, going wide and then blank. She fell to the ground still intertwined with the vines, blood running out of her likes a small river, staining the ground below. He stared at the limp form for a moment, waiting to see if she was in fact dead before, wiping the blood off on the knife on the ground and putting it back in the sheathe strapped to the small of his back under his shirt.

He turned to see Isaac still on the ground. It made him wonder. He saw the feathers still lying on the ground and he was tempted to take them to Deaton, take them to help him identify what that monster was.

For a moment, he thought about leaving Isaac to come to on his own. For a moment, he thought about making his presence invisible. Like he was never there. But then, would he be able to live with that choice? Would Isaac be okay? Should he get involved, despite the pack not wanting anything to do with him? Should he risk anyone finding out what he is? 

As bad as it was, Stiles didn't know what to choose in that moment.

 

Chapter Text

Stiles didn't know what he should do. He was torn.

As terrible as that was, it was true. In this situation, he was wasn't sure he should help. A part of him wanted to, the other part told him that he shouldn't get any more involved. This was pack business. He had no right to insert himself in it. Maybe he should leave, go get help. Stiles could do that, no problem. Isaac was unconscious, possibly dying, and Stiles couldn't help with that. His magic humming underneath his skin, like a live wire, waiting for him to release it into a current out of his body. He didn't know if he could help or not. But as he watched Isaac lie unmoving, bleeding and looking so small, he decided why was there ever a decision? Why was there ever a choice? 

He felt guilt surge through him at the thought of what he was doing. The thought of what he almost had done. Stiles wasn't a coward. He would never be a coward.

Running over to Isaac he dropped beside him. He took comfort that the blood was not pouring out of his body, but rather sluggishly. But he prayed that it was due to him starting to heal. At times like this he wished he could hear people's heartbeats like werewolves could, but he will settle for feeling for a pulse. He grabbed Isaac's wrist, feeling the thudding under the skin and watching as the steady rise and fall of his chest signaled what he needed to know. Stiles felt his breath rush out of him, forgetting that he hadn't been breathing.

He patted Isaac's cheek, trying to rouse him. When he still noticed the dark creature a few feet away, still tied to the ground, he waved his hand quickly, muttering under his breath, feeling his magic respond almost instantly. He felt it pull out of his chest, leaping into his arm and out of his hand. The ground turned soft, like mud and sand, and the winged-creature sank into the earth, leaving nothing behind. It was a spell he read in one of Deaton's books, turning the earth into minerals, altering the density and phases of them.

When he reached for Isaac again, he saw the one of the pale scars he adorned. This one on the inside of his forearm. It wasn't big, but it also wasn't small either. Going from one side to the other in a slightly tilted angle. He immediately took his arm back, feeling like he wished he wore long sleeves. There was nothing he had to cover it up, not to mention the other scars he had. He didn't bother hiding them from Chris because the man already knew about his night with Gerard. He already knew the about the damage. He may not know the extent of it, but Stiles thought he could use that to his advantage. He wasn't sure how much Chris might have seen or noticed, but he figured he would assume they were from Gerard and the hunters.

He had nothing to cover up the scars, but maybe he didn't need something physical. He had an idea, he just had never tried it before. So maybe now as good a time as any. If Isaac noticed then he would make up an excuse. Stiles concentrated, centering himself. His magic responded to his pull as he thought over what he wanted. He had a picture in mind, an clear image. As he muttered the spell under his breath, he allowed his magic to ignite in his chest, its warmth spreading out over his body, making his finger tips and toes tingle with the sensation. He felt it waft inside him and over his skin like a warm breeze, the entire time, bringing forth what he desired. After he was done, he felt his magic settle over him like a blanket, a thin invisible blanket. It was clear it worked, or something did anyway.

When he turned back to Isaac he was coming to, blinking his eyes rapidly and seeming dazed. When he seemed to realize he wasn't alone, Isaac moved quickly, reaching out with his clawed hands to grip at Stiles firmly, claws piercing his arms. Stiles barely resisted the urge to flinch, but he did expect the outcome. He probably should have planned better for that. When Isaac opened his eyes the fullest he could manage, they were glowing golden. His long fangs gleaming and brow-less forehead scrunched in anger and fear.

"Easy," Stiles said in a placating tone. "It's me, Isaac it's me. It's Stiles."

It took a moment for the werewolf to realize who he was grasping. It also took him a moment to realize what was happening. He looked around quickly, then pulled Stiles down to the ground with him, nearly climbing on top of him as he scanned the area. Stiles went but that was more out of surprise than anything else. He didn't expect this reaction to be honest. He actually expected to get pushed away and told to leave or run first. Feeling the warmth from Isaac's body above him as he was pressed into the tall, brittle grass was something that made his breath hitch in his throat. He tried to not think about Grant in that moment, shoving the memory down as far as it would go, gritting his teeth as he did.

"Where is it," Isaac said above him, with a lisp from his large fangs. "Where is that...thing? The winged-creature."

Stiles just nudged his head out from behind Isaac's elbow looking around, ignoring the urge to throw Isaac off him, to get him away from his body, he tried to be the perfect picture of innocence. "Uh...what?"

"There was a black winged-thing. It looked almost like a woman, but it wasn't," Isaac said tensely, panting.

"Oh that thing,” Stiles said, not bothering to deny what Isaac saw. It would prove useless in the end. “It flew off when I found you.”

"What are you doing here,” Isaac said not looking at him as he tried to wiggle out from under the the boy. “That thing is going to come back. I can’t protect you and fight it off.”

"I don’t need protection,” Stiles announced rather bewildered. He was a little surprised at the act. Isaac protecting him, who knew? He gritted his teeth as Isaac moved over top of him, the press of his chest near Stiles' shoulders as he tried to raise himself up, his legs on Stiles' thighs. He tried to ignore the feeling, the flash of unwanted sensations that he wanted to forget desperately. He tried to cover it up by saying, "Anyway you are not in any condition to fight it again.”

Isaac looked down at himself before he winced at the movement. Stiles couldn't tell if he was healing, if he was then it was slow. Blood was lazily flowing from the cuts on his chest from being impaled by those sharp feathers. A few still laid nearby and Stiles wasn’t itching to take one or two with him. The claw marks-or rather talon marks- on the Were's body were fairing no better. He was bleeding from his head, a line of scarlet red running down his temple, most likely from another wound hiding underneath his blonde curls. They were not as bad as they might have seemed, but it was clear they still hurt. 

Slowly Stiles tried to push Isaac off of him. Isaac seemed to go reluctantly but then he moved a little quicker Stiles might have brushed his wounded torso with his squirming. Stiles climbed up to his feet, dusting himself off, eyeing Isaac carefully. The other boy followed but slower, wincing with each movement. When tumbled forward again, barely bracing himself on his knees and hands, Stiles rushed to brace him. Isaac was sweating, taking in deep breaths and releasing them quickly. His face twisted in pain. It crossed Stiles’ mind to call someone for help, but he didn’t have his phone on him. He thought he brought it with him, but he might have left it back at his Jeep.

"Can you call the pack? Maybe one of them can help.”

Isaac shook his head. “My phone broke.” He turned his head to the side, pointing a finger past Stiles aiming towards the ground a couple feet from them. The tattered remains of a phone was on the ground. The screen was broken and it looked a little dented on the side. 

Well damn. 

Stiles couldn’t leave Isaac here so he could go get his phone. Despite the winged creature being dead, it didn’t settle his concerns that something else could come along to attack the beta. Say the Alpha pack for example.

He was going to regret this, he knew it. As much as he wanted to stubbornly refuse, he and Isaac needed to get out of here. He had the option to take him to Deaton, but the man was at the clinic, no doubt with patients of his own, so it wouldn't be a good idea to bring and bloody, half-healing werewolf kid into the vet's clinic, asking for help when the hospital made more sense to curious onlookers. He wasn't going to use his magic to help, that would raise far more questions, far more problems than he wanted to deal with right now. He already had enough on his plate and he didn't need to lose more sleep over having the pack potentially learn about what he was. His options were very limited. He knew that. He also knew what he needed to do and he felt his insides turn at the thought. 

He sighed heavily, resigned at what he had to do, the path that would lead to least problems, but still not much more pleasant.

Stiles bent down to take Isaac's hand, wrapping his arm around his shoulders. The boy looked at him in surprise for a second before gave a small nod of understanding. Slowly, he got his legs under himself and Stiles supported more of his weight as he helped him straighten himself. Isaac hissed in pain as his muscles stretched and lengthened with his body, but otherwise he was doing okay. Stiles knew that the poison or venom, whatever it was, was still going to be in the young beta's system for a while. He hoped it wasn't fatal, but so far Isaac seemed to be doing fine. He was alert and he was breathing fine. The blood flow was slowing more, but his cuts weren't healing. It was possible, this poison didn't have any real effect on werewolves or that it was never meant to kill, just incapacitate or hinder abilities. Stiles had a lot of research to do when he got home, but first things first.

"Okay, my jeep is in that direction," he said pointing towards the edge of the clearing he came into, "a little over a mile away. We can get there and I'll take you home. Do you think you can walk long enough to do that?"

Isaac looked at him with an eyebrow raised and a cocky smirk. "I think I can manage. Werewolf and all." Isaac then took his arm away from around Stiles, pushing him away a little before starting to take a step. He was able to get in one step before he tried to take another and his legs collapsed from under him, making Isaac face plant the ground.

Stiles couldn't help the satisfied scoff that came from his throat, but he tried to stifled it, if a little unsuccessful. "Well, then you are welcome to crawl to my jeep, but I somehow don't think that will be very quick and I still have dinner to make."

Isaac growled from the ground. Stiles moved himself into Isaac's line of sight, part of his face in the long grass, while his left eye was looking up at him with irritation and winced in pain as he attempted to move. He said something, but it was muffled under the grass and dirt below, so Stiles couldn't catch it.

If Stiles broke into a little smile, who could blame him. He and Isaac had never been close and often times Isaac was rather terse and cocky with him. Stiles knew it was a facade, after what he heard about Isaac and his father, about the good for nothing man who beat his kid and terrorized him, Stiles supposed that the boy deserved to feel some semblance of control in his life. But still, seeing him like this, a werewolf, who made it a point to belittle Stiles for being human and running with them a few times, well Stiles did feel a little bit smug. 

"Well come on, we don't have all day." Stiles said, snapping his fingers and waving his hand in the direction they supposed to be heading. Isaac growled at him again, the eyes he could see flashing yellow. "Come on boy," he called."

Isaac said something then, but Stiles still couldn't hear him. He could still hear the rumble of his chest though even if he was about a foot or two away. He watched as Isaac moved his arms to push himself over on the ground, his arms shaking with the effort it took. When he rolled over, he had scoff of dirt on his face and pieces of pale yellow grass in his blonde curls. "You are lucky that fight took most of my energy," he said through clenched teeth.

Stiles rolled his eyes. "The fight didn't zap you of your energy dumbass. You were poisoned, with venom or something." Stiles went a few feet away to pick up two feather to take with him, feeling the softness of the feathers, but he could feel the quill under it. When he stared at it, he noticed a barged point at the top of the feather, hidden behind the black fibers. Well no wonder they flew through the air so easily. They were essentially daggers. He was careful to not touch the glistening fibers, thinking that the poison came from them, thereby coating the barb. Yeah, he definitely wanted to do some research. 

If he was being honest, he was excited about it. Another monster, besides a werewolf or kanima. Something else to learn. Maybe this creature was in his mom's Grimoire. 

He came back to Isaac holding the two feathers carefully by the quill at the bottom, showing him. "Remember these," he asked. "My guess is these are not just for flight." Stiles carefully put the feathers in his back pocket, gingerly edging them into the fabric so that they weren't going to poke him and he made sure the fibers were not touching his skin. "Anyway, I'll see what I can find out about that thing. Hopefully that is the last we see of it."

Stiles didn't wait for Isaac to say anything or make an attempt to argue that he was fine. He infused a little of his magic into his arms, hefting Isaac up quickly by his arm so he could wrap it around his neck again. Isaac raised his eyebrows at the sudden display of strength, but he didn't say anything. Instead Isaac kept his mouth closed, his eyes trained ahead, and he gripped Stiles' shoulder more firmly, holding himself up as best he could with the support.

It took a few steps before they found a stride that was comfortable for them. It took some time, but slowly and surely they made it from the clearing and into the cover of trees and were what Stiles hoped to be nearly there toward his jeep. About halfway there, Isaac had started to walk more on his own, taking some of weight from Stiles' but not fully. Stiles kept glancing at him, testing to see if there were any other signs of the poison or venom taking a toll on him. He hoped that they got back to his jeep soon. He didn't like the possibility of Isaac collapsing suddenly and none of them having a way to call for help. Stiles used his magic to sense where his jeep was, silently sending it out track his recent steps. They didn't talk as they made their way through the forest. The sounds of their shuffling, surrounding by the echos of birds, waving leaves on the breeze, and disturbances of the brush and botanical life around from the animals nearby were the only things that disturbed the silence. Stiles could smell the Preserve and he welcomed it. He loved the smell of pine, dirt, fresh air and, rain on the air. It always helped to calm him and he wondered if some part of him, some part of his supernatural heritage, felt at peace with nature so close. Was it the same for Isaac as a werewolf?

"What were you doing out here," Isaac asked suddenly, breaking him from his thoughts.

He knew that question was bound to come up. Good thing he put that glamour on himself. He only hid what he wanted to. That meant his scars, his scent, and his heartbeat. The good thing about that spell was that it could be used in different way. It could hide things completely or it could change them to be what he wanted them to be. If he wanted his scars to remain hidden, then the spell allowed that. If he wanted his heartbeat to remain steady, the spell would make that so. It only worked on the outside. The only person who would know the truth would be him. He would be the only one to feel if his heart was racing or see his scars. It was like a mirror. He could see out, know the truth, while the mirror projected what he wanted the world to see, nothing else.

"I followed it," he answered, knowing his glamour would hide any blips in his heart beat. If there was any. He had gotten pretty damn good a lying, he just hadn't been able to test it around a werewolf for over a the past few months. In all honesty, he didn't think he needed the glamour, it was just a precaution. Especially for his scars. Those he could never hide without help. "I saw it in town. I was heading to the station when I saw it over the treeline on one of the back roads. I couldn't be sure, but I was curious so I followed it. When I thought it came to the Preserve, I parked my jeep, got out and came this way. Imagine my surprise when I found you, when you found it."

"Are you demented," Isaac asked quickly. Stiles noticed he seemed a little annoyed and angry. Before he could say anything Isaac continued, "I mean seriously. What would you have done if that thing came after you?"

"Why be still my beating heart," Stiles said in mock surprise. "Isaac Lahey worried about little old me. I'm feeling a little light headed."

"Stiles-"

He laughed. He couldn't help it. It had been a while since he allowed himself to joke with someone else other than Danny and his dad. It was a breath of fresh air. It made him feel a little more normal even if it was at Isaac's expense. Even though this situation wasn't exactly normal, it was their normal, which made Stiles want to relish in it just a little. At Isaac's look of annoyance and the tighter grip his made on Stiles' shoulder-which rude-it made Stiles stop his snickering, but he still had a small smile on his face.

"Look what I do or don't do is my choice. I don't need a lecture from you when you were also on your own out here. If I hadn't come by, maybe you would be dead by now," he said rather matter-of-factly. He didn't care if Isaac believe him or not. His heart wasn't going to give anything away, but he also wasn't going to stand by and let Isaac berate him on coming out here and therefore helping him at the same time. He could always leave him to his own devices and see where it takes him.

"I am a werewolf." Isaac said petulantly. "I heal faster, I'm stronger and faster and you are-"

"Human."

Stiles didn't mean for the word to sound like a curse, but he couldn't stop it now. He was not ashamed about being human, he never was. Sure he had a few opportunities to become a werewolf. Hell Peter offered him the Bite and he refused. He didn't want to be werewolf. He didn't want that kind of burden nor did he want to be a burden to anyone else. He didn't want people to expect his anger to take over, or his instincts. There may be benefits to being a werewolf, but he also knew there were benefits to being just human. Stiles was okay with that. If the Isaac didn't like that choice, then that was on him to deal with. Isaac made his choice to become a werewolf as an escape from his father and his fear, Stiles commended him for it, no matter if he sometimes thought it was a rash choice, but he wasn't going to make him feel less for it. The same went with the pack as well.

It wasn't like Stiles was associated with them anymore anyway, so why should he care. Besides he had magic. Name a werewolf that had that!

"That's not what I meant." Isaac said quickly, looking at him sorrowfully.

Stiles shrugged, waving his hand in slight dismissal. "Regardless of what you meant, it is true. I am human. But don't forget this human is helping you. You barely possess the strength to keep yourself upright and your 'fast healing' looks to be slower than normal, close to a human's right now."

They both fell silent after that. Stiles was not angry, he was barely annoyed. He didn't care what Isaac thought of him. He didn't care that he was human and breakable. Stiles had been through a hell of a lot this summer, more than any the pack would ever know. He has grown in that time, both outside as well as inside. He was harder and he was stronger for it. Does he wish didn't have to endure all of that, God yes, but he couldn't change it. He couldn't dwell on it. He didn't allow himself to.

Isaac stayed quiet for a while and Stiles left him to his own thoughts as they trudged their way towards his jeep. Eventually after maybe an hour, maybe almost two, his jeep came into view. Stiles sighed in relief at the sight of his jeep and Isaac did much of the same. They picked up their pace, stumbling a little to get over twigs and rocks, rounding trees, every second bringing them closer. Finally, nearly panting they made it. Stiles helped Isaac to the passenger side, opening up the door quickly, before gingerly helping the beta inside the cabin. He was careful to not jostle his healing injuries. He noticed the cuts looked better than what they did before, no longer bleeding and slightly scabbing over. The one on his head was no longer bleeding either and he had wipe the blood from his face on his arm, smearing it a little on his skin, but at least it wasn't serious. Isaac looked less pale, but had a small sheen of sweat on his brow. It would take possibly the rest of the night for him to heal completely and be back to normal, but Stiles wasn't sure. As long as he was healing, Stiles figured that was a good sign.

Closing the door and rounding to the driver's side, he carefully took out the feathers from his back pocket to put them on the seat between them before climbing in. Starting the old girl, the jeep roared to life. Before he started driving, he searched for his phone, finding it underneath the jacket he brought with him that morning. he gave it to Isaac telling him to call Derek, Scott, or whoever. Turning Roscoe down the road and to the only place he knew Isaac would be safe.

Stiles silently listened to the conversation Isaac had with Derek. No doubt the man first wondering why Stiles was calling him, then hearing it to be Isaac, most likely putting the Alpha on edge. He heard Isaac give vague overview about what happened, saying he was attacked and Stiles was with him and helped him, yes Isaac was okay, yes he was on his way back. Stiles was surprised to hear Isaac say that Stiles was safe also, meaning the man had asked. Stiles didn't know what to make of that, but maybe he figured Derek was just being polite since he was nearby listening to the conversation. After that, Isaac said he would be there soon and then hung up. The boy was silent for a few moments after that, his eyes scanning the forest around them. No doubt looking for the any appearance of the winged-creature. Despite Stiles knowing the creature would never harm them again, he was comforted by Isaac keeping an eye out. It meant he could focus on the road and get lost in his own thoughts.

Stiles had a lot to figure out. He had to research this creature and on top of it all find Erica and Boyd. He still wanted to find the Nemeton, hoping it would at least be a place he could at least focus his magic on the best tracking spell he could find so far in order to find the betas. Or at least being near the sacred tree would strengthen his magic enough to narrow down the area even more. Each time he tried a tracking spell, he always pointed to Beacon Hills as a whole. It bounced between their houses, to the school, to where old train station where Derek lived. All of the places they would normally be if they were still here. He already had something from both of them, pieces of clothing that they wore, having gotten that from Danny. How he got those items, he had no idea nor did he ask at the time, he was too happy to give the spell a try.

Yet, to no avail they couldn't get a definitive place of where they were. Only where they have been.

"Where are you going," Isaac said looking out the window. 

"Uh...taking you to Derek's," he said, now a little nervous about Isaac's memory. He feared the poison was having other side effects.

Isaac looked at him in confusion. "What?"

"Derek." Stiles said, really starting to worry now. "You know 6 feet, dark hair, usually red eyes, always sour puss attitude."

"This isn't the way to Derek's place."

"This is the way to the old train station. Near the outskirts of the east end of town, across from the old middle school that is now being converted to an insurance company. Ring any bells," he asked.

"Derek doesn't live at the train station anymore. He rented out a loft in the industrial area, the one being remodeled with new condos and apartment buildings." Isaac had said, looking at him closely.

He looked like he really believe his words. Which meant that Stiles was wrong. He hadn't heard about Derek actually finding a place to live in. Something that wasn't abandoned or run down, falling apart around him. Stiles was pleasantly surprised. He didn't know what to say to this new information. But then what could he say? He wasn't entitled to know. He wasn't pack. So of course he wouldn't know. No one would have told him. Not to mention he hasn't spoken to any of them in months, he hasn't seen any of them since before summer started.

"Oh," he found himself saying instead, ignoring the drop his stomach made. "Well that's good. Good for him."

"You didn't know," Isaac said incredulously. Stiles avoided his gaze, focusing on the road. He was silently thanking his magic and glamour he has on himself. He was afraid Isaac would hear his heart skin a beat at the information. Or smell his unease or distress at what he has missed. Sure Stiles was still upset about everything that happened with Derek and Scott, but that was in the past now. He had moved on, and apparently so have they.

"I've been rather busy," Stiles said, which was only half the truth. He has been busy. He has been unconscious for over a week while his mind, his soul, wandered into another plane. Who could blame him on being preoccupied?

Isaac was shaking his head in his peripheral vision. "You have been rather checked out lately. Ever since the beginning of the summer. No one has seen you. No one has talked to you. Scott has been asking me about you."

So Scott has been talking to Isaac. Of course he was. The two of them have become rather close, even before the whole Gerard incident. "I have my reasons."

"What because he didn't tell you about Gerard," Isaac asked looking annoyed now. "So what? He didn't tell any of us. Not to mention Lydia said you didn't want to help with the Alpha pack. You have been working on finding Erica and Boyd, yet you have not been coming up with anything remotely helpful." Stiles tightened his hold on the steering wheel. Isaac didn't seem to notice as he kept going. "You are supposed to be helping and you standby and do nothing."

Stiles stopped his jeep immediately, jerking the vehicle to a stop. It almost threw Isaac into the front dash, hissing as the movement stretch the skin of his still healing cuts. Holding onto the side of his head like the jolt of movement caused his head to ache, or at least ache even more. Good, Stiles thought. He was now agitated and Isaac needed to remember the place he was in. He felt his magic burn inside him, creeping along his skin, aching to be released like it felt his anger and wanted to do something about it. Stiles didn't need anyone telling him what he should be doing.

He knew perfectly well what he should do. He was working blind like the rest of them, but instead of sniffing the air, he was using his magic to, honing it, trying to understand it, all in an effort to find the two betas. The two betas who had endured torture for hours at the hands of hunters, the two betas who got kidnapped, just to be set free, only to be taken again, by who knows what or who. The Alpha pack was certainly a possibility but since said pack was playing hide and seek for a while, no one has heard anything from them in a while to even suggest seeking Erica and Boyd with them. Stiles would do anything to find them and bring them home, just so he could let go of his guilt that he had failed them, if only a little. He was not pack and never would be, but at least he could stop reliving the nightmare of failing them, seeing them either tear him apart or watch them die at hunter's hands, because he had not gotten to them in time.

"Listen Lahey," he said calmly, venomously, bringing Isaac's gaze to meet his. Isaac seemed to freeze in the seat, his blue eyes slightly wide. "I am working with what I have. While you and the others put your noses to work I have to rely on actual smarts. I have no instincts to follow, no trails to pick up on, no abilities to search the town's territory and beyond quickly with enhanced speed or senses. I have my wit and ideas and when I think of possible places someone may want to lay low or hide someone in this town I let Lydia know because your senses would be able to pick up on them better than eyesight alone." Isaac was still staring at him and Stiles held his gaze, keeping his voice even. It surprised him how steady he sounded, even how cold his tone was. His magic swirled and lifted in his chest, feeding off his emotions. He paid it no real mind, but he did tighten the fist still resting on the steering wheel, hoping to reign in his emotions just a little. "My relationship with Scott is none of your business and I will deal with him when I damn well feel like it. As for the Alphas, I am not getting involved because I have my dad to think about. He doesn't know about any of this and I would like to keep it that way. If they find out about me and then him, that will put him in danger and his job is dangerous enough. I will not be the one responsible for that. Not now or ever. As a human, I shouldn't even be doing any of this, yet I am. I am doing it out of respect and to help bring Erica and Boyd home. But instead I am helping your ungrateful ass because nor you or the pack thought to travel in at least pairs what with the Alpha pack around and now there are other creatures that are new to us. You should count your small mercies, because you just might be running out. You get me?"

Steeling himself further, he turned away from Isaac, putting Roscoe back into drive and heading towards the industrial area in the northern part of town. He kept looking ahead, studiously driving and nothing else. He felt his magic coil inside him, simmering down, resting like a vigilant guardian. He was still annoyed, but he regretted nothing. He actually felt a little better about it. It wasn't everything that he wanted to get off his chest and throw into Isaac's face, but it was enough to not arouse suspicions about his magic or even about Danny or his dad actually knowing the truth and having known for most of his life.

It was quiet in the cabin, for a long few minutes. Stiles stopping at stop signs and stop lights when they got into town. Turning and winding his way through the streets, heading closer to their destination. Stiles felt the quicker he got their, the quicker he could get all of this over with. 

"I'm sorry," Isaac said beside him. Stiles chanced a small look at the beta, seeing him avoiding his eyes, looking down at his lap and the dashboard, but no where else. His hands resting in his lap, picking at his nails nervously as he kept his gaze down. "You are right. I have no business telling you what you should do. I'm sorry. I have forgotten about your dad, about what he doesn't know. I suppose I have forgotten about the knowledge of having one. Or at least one who cares and one your care about in return. I'm not making excuses, I'm just saying that you are right. You are right to want to keep your dad from all of this, trying to protect him. There is no telling what would happen if he knew. Not everyone is like Melissa McCall, not everyone will understand this or...us."

Stiles sighed, raking a hand down his face as if to clear his left over annoyance and the creeping feeling of exhaustion. The glamour charm was starting to become a chore to hold onto. "It's okay Isaac."

The other boy shook his head. "No it's not. I shouldn't have assumed. I shouldn't have made you feel like you weren't helping because you are. I know you and I have never been on the best of terms and that was mostly my fault. For that I am sorry. I am grateful for your help in searching for Erica and Boyd. I want them to be found. I really want them home. I just hate feeling...like I'm powerless."

Stiles can relate. God, he can relate in some of the worst ways.

"It's okay," he said again. "I know you are worried. We all are. We won't give up on them," he said confidently, sincerely. 

Isaac was silent for a moment, before he piped up again saying, "And thank you. For finding me when you did."

Stiles smiled a little to himself. "Your welcome."

"You look different too," Isaac said suddenly, making Stiles freeze. He feared his glamour was gone. Did Isaac see his scar? "I mean, you just, I don't know. It's a good different, but not the same."

Stiles didn't know what to say to that. He wondered if Isaac was sensing his magic or if his glamour spell was sending off a signal of sorts, but that shouldn't happen. He wasn't sure if he should take Isaac's words to heart. He may have said it was a good different, but it wasn't like he could elaborate on it. Stiles was never one to take compliments, it made him blush, slightly embarrassed, but it was also because he never got compliments on his appearance. Not since his mom.

So he said nothing, instead they spent the rest of the ride in companionable silence, except when Isaac gave him directions, aiming him towards the the area they needed to go to and then towards the very large industrial apartment building they parked at. There were several cars out front. Stiles recognized Derek's Camaro, Jackson's Porsche, and what he assumed was Peter's dark cherry Mercedes. Stiles rolled his eyes at the local car show as he pulled his old jeep up to park next to the Mercedes. Hopping out, he quickly rounded over to Isaac, the beta having already swung the door open and starting to slowly ease himself out of the jeep. 

Stiles helped him out, taking an arm over his shoulders again, before closing the door behind them and heading to the side door to let themselves in. Stiles guess this building was going to function as an apartment building or condos, but it didn't seem completely finished. The inside was still mostly drywall and concrete. The flooring covered with floorboards and rolled up carpet laid against the walls for the carpenters and designers. Stiles was surprised that anyone could rent out available spaces since the building didn't look finished, but he supposed a lot could happen for you if your forked over money and an intimidating scowl.

What irked him was when he noticed the lift was out of order, so instead they had to take the stairs. When he asked what floor Derek was on, Isaac confirmed his fear of the top floor. Well shit, he thought. Isaac was able to hold himself up most of the way so he extracted himself from Stiles, but kept a hand on his arm as way to ground him. Stiles kept his hand hovering at his back, ready to catch him if he showed signs of faltering. They climbed the stairwell, Stiles grumbling under his breath about the number of steps, having to pick the top floor, antisocial werewolves, and sour wolf Alphas. If Isaac snickered a little as they went higher, neither paid it any mind. 

Upon reach the top floor and opening the door at the top, Stiles had a light sheen of sweat on his brow and he took comfort in Isaac having much the same. He beta wasn't done healing so Stiles felt better about him not being the only one effected by the climb at this time. When Isaac stopped at a large metal door that looked like it slide open, he was wondering if he was about to knock. Only the door slid open, groaning as it did as if in protest. Revealing a Jackson behind it and large loft space behind him.

Upon seeing his pack mate, hurt and looking exhausted, Jackson moved forward, pulling Isaac's other arm around his own shoulder so he and Stiles could lead him inside. Stiles tried to keep his eyes from looking over everything, but he couldn't help it. The place was nothing special really, but it was a decent size. It had a concrete floor with four large wooden and concrete pillars going from floor to ceiling, no doubt being part of the structure to hold up the second floor. The far wall was a large window that nearly went from floor to ceiling as well, with a slight arch at the top. In the far left corner was a spiral metal staircase. There was a blackish-blue suede couch with a coffee table in front of it near the center of the room and a desk on the far side up against the window with a chair behind it. The right side was a brick wall that opened up into a kitchen. In the far corner, tucked away was a queen sized bed, with black comforter and pillows. Aside from that, there was nothing else. Not that it surprised him. All of this was a bit more startling than he expected it to be. Like holy shit there was actual furniture.

Turning his eyes away from everything else, he saw the other people in the room. But he kept himself from focusing on them. His felt his heart beating hard in his chest, but he forced to take deep breaths, trying to get it under control. Even if the glamour was masking it, he needed to control his own emotions. He was nervous and he frankly didn't want to be here. Stiles didn't want to see these faces, the faces of those he had gone all summer without seeing. The faces of those he tried so hard for and in the end got nothing out of it.

He saw Jackson lead Isaac to the couch, letting him slip down on the cushion with a look that practically said 'fucking finally.' "What happened," he heard Jackson say to him.

Isaac swallowed, looking at his chest with a grimace before answering. "I was out making my rounds. Trying to catch any amount of scent from Erica or Boyd. I was near the southeast border of the territory. I heard a weird thumping sound, but didn't pay it much mind. I was almost done when I heard a screech. It was unlike anything I ever heard, but it was animalistic in a way. I came to a small clearing, but I didn't see anything. It wasn't till I was about to go back to my searching that this winged-creature came out of no where, kicking me in the back, sending me to the ground."

"Can you describe this thing," Peter said, from the back of the large room where he was skulking. 

No one seemed to pay Stiles any mind as he stood there by the door. He didn't push himself to say anything, just listened like the rest of them. It wasn't his place to interrupt anyway. 

"Black mostly. Dark brown skin. It had wings for arms, with large black feathers. It had feathers on it's body too, going from neck to mid-thigh. It looked like a woman or at least part of it's body did. It had bright green eyes, no nose, just slits to breathe from. All of it's teeth were sharp, but kind of small."

"Anything else," Jackson asked beside him.

"It had talons for feet. Large bird like talons, black and curved."

"And this thing did this to you," Derek asked from the middle of the room. Stiles tried to not feel his magic heat up at the Alpha's voice. It was rising within him, his emotions all over the charts. He was unsettled and his magic was itching to get out just to relieve some of the energy inside him.

Isaac nodded. "I tried to fight it off. I was able to hurt it a bit, but it managed to get the drop on me. It poisoned me or something. With it's feathers."

"It's what," Jackson asked in bewilderment.

"It's feathers," Stiles said, pulling one of the feathers he took from his jeep to show to the others. "It's got a barbed point at the tip, explaining why it was able to use it like a throwing knife. It's got some kind of coating on its fibers. I figured it might be the source of where its poison came from."

"Why do you have that then," Peter asked from the window an eyebrow arched.

Stiles shrugged, "You know of a better way to identify what this thing is or if this poison or venom is dangerous?"

When he felt everyone's eye on him, he tried his best to not fidget. He hated being the center of attention, he always has. Stiles didn't care that he was in a room with four other werewolves and he was the only human, the only one not part of the pack, but he cared when they all looked at him with a mixture of emotions on their faces. Isaac was looking at him rather softly with understanding, Jackson had a look of curiosity and confusion. Peter stood in the back of the place, his expression was unreadable to Stiles, but he could have sworn the man smiled at him, his eyes gleaming as he did. Then there was Derek.

Before he had a chance to look at the Alpha, he heard a scoffing behind him and in came Scott, his headphones in his ears, carrying his backpack with what looked like books in them and two bags filled with take out containers from the local Kung Pow chicken place. When he came in and saw the pack staring and then turned to see Stiles who he passed while he wasn't paying attention, he nearly dropped the bags on the floor. Stiles felt like he had been punched in the gut at seeing his best friend. He also felt a wave of bitter anger wash through him as saw Scott here, looking so casual.

Here Stiles was, standing before the pack that kicked him out. The pack who thought he willingly betrayed them, betrayed their Alpha, even after everything he had done for them. After he had been kidnapped, tortured, nearly raped and killed because he was with them. All so Gerard could get information on said pack when all along he was getting it from Scott. When all along it was Scott who made the decision to betray them. It was Scott who worked with Gerard, and maybe they were done on the best intentions, trying to protect Melissa and Allison, but at the cost of the lives of the pack. Did Scott not think that if Gerard turned into a werewolf, if his plan had backfired or not worked, that the old man would not kill them all after killing Derek? He would be an Alpha and if he didn't get the other to submit to him, he would kill them.

Stiles had thought all of this before and seeing Scott again brought all those thoughts and memories back. His former best friend was staring at him with wide, puppy dog eyes, an honest smile breaking on his lips. Stiles felt nausea and anger spill into his body, his magic surging like a wave inside him, answering to his bottled up emotions that he was trying to hold himself back on. How could he be so stupid?

How could he think that he and Scott would be trusted by the pack after what happened? They all knew the truth. They all knew what Scott did and they believed that Stiles helped him with it. That Stiles was the one to formulate the plan. He was the brains after all. Derek believed that himself. It seemed right that both of them would be on the outs with the pack. Yet here Scott was, carrying take out for everyone, looking the picture of relaxed if a little distracted, walking into Derek's place like it was a regular thing. Smiling at Stiles like all was well.

God, he was such a fucking idiot.

Of course they would forgive Scott. He was just the tool in all of it. Stiles was the one to create the plan, formulate it into a ploy to get at Gerard. Scott was just the muscle, but had a purpose to protect the two people he cared about the most. Not to mention, Scott was a werewolf. If he was not part of the pack, he would be out of it. Everything Stiles read meant that if a wolf had no pack, they would become an Omega. Often times that lead to temper problems, shifting more and becoming dangerous. The wolf would essentially become feral. Derek couldn't have that. No, he couldn't have a feral Scott out there on the lose. Despite all of the boy's belly aching about Derek and how he ran things, he gladly rolled over when it meant he was on the outs and needed them. Derek wouldn't say no, it meant adding more power to his pack, to him, but also keeping a lid on a potential crisis.

Stiles felt sick. He felt damn well near humiliated. He wanted to scream and shout at all of them. He wanted to punch Scott so hard, infusing his arm with his magic just so he could see Scott's nose bleed. He wanted to see the hurt in his eyes, at knowing that his former best friend was lost to him. Stiles shouldn't care about him, he knew he shouldn't. Over a decade had gone into their friendship and he has nothing to show for it. He wanted to throw Derek against the wall like he had done to Stiles a dozen times, telling him he can go to hell. Out of the start of the nightmarish summer, he got dealt the hand with the Joker in it. He had been played for a fool.

As Scott was about to speak, Stiles beat him to it, shaking off his initial shock, burying his rising emotions deep. He was good at games, well now was the time to see how good his poker face really was.

"I was going to take this to Deaton and see if he can identify what the creature was, hopefully quickly before it returns," he said evenly, looking at Peter, instead of anyone else.

He ignored the shuffling of Scott off to the side. "Hey, buddy," he said almost gingerly. "You look different. Like I don't know..."

Stiles ignored him, refusing to acknowledge the way Scott seemed to notice a change in him since the last time he saw him. But then it seemed Scott's brain caught up to what was being said and he quickly switched gears to, "Wait, creature? What creature?" When his eyes found Isaac slumped on the sofa, his eyes widened, he walked over to Isaac, barely touching his skin as he looked at the wounds. "Dude, you okay? What happened?"

"We will explain," Isaac said, gently moving Scott from his line of sight of Stiles. "Do you think he will help," he asked him.

Stiles shrugged, leaving the question a little unanswered. He wasn't going to go to Deaton's. He was going to research this thing himself. The monster was already dead, so who cared if he indulged himself in a little light reading. The pack didn't need to know that now.

"Well text one of us when you find out about it," Peter said from the other side of the room. His voice sounded gentle, but with something underneath that Stiles couldn't pinpoint.

"Wait," Scott said quickly, turning back around to look at Stiles. "What are you doing here? What do you know about what happened to Isaac? What is this creature?

Stiles tried hard to not roll his eyes. "Apparently I'm here to play 20 questions. Look I found Isaac and thankfully that thing flew off when it realized he wasn't alone. It could have been far worse. But never look a gift horse in the mouth, right?"

"It ran from you," Jackson asked from beside Isaac. He didn't ask unkindly, but rather puzzled, like he was trying to piece together a riddle.

"Either that or it got distracted by something else."

Peter spoke up then, "Where did it go?"

"How should I know? Does it look like I followed it?"

"I mean which direction did it go," the older wolf said with an amused quirk of his lips.

Stiles pretended to think for a few second before answering. "Uh, south I think."

"What were you doing out in the Preserve?"

Stiles barely wanted to make eye contact with Derek when he spoke. The man had been silent for the entire exchange of information. Stiles looked at him anyway. The tone of the Alpha wolf sounded curious, but with an underline tension and accusation in it that Stiles didn't like. He felt his magic coil tighter inside him, like a fiery snake getting agitated. In truth, Stiles himself was angry, he was hurt (emotionally), but that was a given. He didn’t want to come here, but he wasn’t going to let Isaac become easy prey for anyone in the Preserve especially with the Alpha pack around. So yeah he made eye contact with the Alpha werewolf, staring back at the man evenly.

Derek's was set in his usual scowl, although Stiles could see shadows under his eyes. Derek looked just like how Stiles remembered. His dark hair artfully mussed, frown on his face, bright hazel eyes and dark the ever present dark stubble that was so unfair to see sometimes. Wearing a pale gray henley and dark jeans and boots. Stiles had to fight back the urge to punch Derek as well, wanting to just wipe that scowl from his face, if only to make it go to one of surprise, all for Stiles' benefit. Just for the satisfaction of seeing the man look at him differently for once. Stiles had seen Derek furious, angry, and petulant, none of those faces intimated him anymore. Those gazes once made him sweat and make him stutter nervously, made him want to fidget and either run or stay perfectly still like a statue. That was before the summer started. Now as he gazed at the man he had been actively avoiding think about, he found that he was numb to anything about the man.

Was it everything he had been through? Was it because of what Derek did? Because he wasn’t pack?

Stiles was not intimated by the Alpha. Not anymore. 

Honey brown eyes meeting luminous hazel steadily. He watched as Derek’s muscles in his jaw and throws locked up and relaxed before repeating over and over again, like he was forcing himself to remain still or swallowed something he was trying to keep down. Stiles wanted to leave. He was long past done being in this room, in the damn building. He wanted to leave before he overstayed his welcome. That is if he was ever welcomed to begin with. 

 "I saw the creature flying near town. I followed it to see where it could be going. Perhaps see if it was working with the Alpha pack or whatever. I almost lost it when I heard Isaac’s roar," Stiles replied easily.

Stiles saw the tick of Derek's jaw. "And you thought that going after it alone was a good idea? You thought that being out in the the woods with that thing and the Alpha's that it was a good idea?" Derek had asked rather tensely.

"Yeah what we’re you thinking buddy?” Scott chimed in leaning against the side of the back cushion of the sofa.

Stiles shrugged. “It’s not like either one is after me or would see me as a threat so why would they bother?"

"Still-"

"Still was my choice," he said calmly, cutting off Scott. "And anyway, since Isaac is back with his father, uncle, and brothers,” he said indicating each person in the room, referring to Derek as father, Scott and Jackson as brothers, and Peter as everyone's favorite creepy uncle, who arched an eyebrow as he looked at him, obviously amused, “I'd say I'm done here and going to go.”

"Wait Stiles," Scott began, "where are you going?"

"Home?"

Scott looked uncomfortable, nervous even. "Don't you...I mean you could stay with us, right," he said looking at Isaac and Derek, before turning back to him. "We could hang out a bit...eat the food I brought. We can go over any more ideas about finding Erica and Boyd."

Stiles shook his head. He was tired. He felt drained. It wasn't really physical, but emotional and magical. The glamour was still draining his resources and he needed to lower it soon or it would fall away on it's own. "I can’t. I have dinner to make and other work to do. I might have an idea about where they could be, but I need to research a bit more and make sure that it is a good lead to follow."

Derek seemed to perk up then, taking his eyes from the floor to look at Stiles again. "You know where they are?"

"I said I might have an idea."

"You didn’t think to share with me," Derek asked with the hint of a growl in his voice.

"There was nothing to share," he said as calmly as he could. He was so close to fed up. The pressure of his magic in his chest was building, ready to burst like a bomb or a spout of fire. He feared which one would be the more likely.

Derek's eyes seemed to tinge with red. "They are my betas. I have a right to know. If you have any information on them then you need to tell me instead of hiding it." 

Stiles scoffed. He couldn't help it. "What I have is nothing but a theory." He looked at the Alpha in the eyes, not back down from the piercing gaze. Maybe Stiles had a death wish, he didn't know. Either way he couldn't care less. He was over this conversation. He didn't need Derek's Alpha pride and anger getting in the way. "That said theory requires thinking, something useless for you. Until I know for certain it is to prove fruitful, a theory is all it is."

"You said you would keep us updated on any ideas," the man added, ignoring the jab at him, neither breaking the stare off.

"And I have," Stiles said in a hard tone. "Like I said you will know something when I know. Until then I suggest you look after the beta who is still healing and I will go find out what exactly attacked him. Unless you have a better idea, Hale, I'm all ears."

The mention of Isaac still being hurt, broke Derek's gaze from Stiles'. He looked at his wounded beta, a complicated emotion on his handsome face. Isaac was looking better, but it still be a while before there was no evidence left over. He was safe now. Stiles' work was done. It was already early evening now. He needed to get home himself and he was antsy to get going. He should have already left.

"I’ll send a text to Lydia if what I find is worth taking a closer look," he said with finality, already taking a step back about to head for the still open door.

"Thank you, again." Isaac said from the couch, a tilt of his lips at he gave Stiles an open look. "For your help."

Stiles gave a little nod at him before a little wave at him, then was about to leave.

"You can send a text to any of us," Scott said in a hopeful voice. "It doesn't have to be just Lydia. We will all answer your call. I could come by and help you if want."

Stiles didn't know how to take those statements. He rather not try to decipher them anyway. He knew Scott was trying to coax him into breaking. Trying to get Stiles to let down his guard so Scott and him could exchange words with each other. In all honesty, he wanted to avoid that. He knew if he started saying anything to Scott, then he wouldn't stop. He knew Scott would not like what he had to say.

"I'm fine. This is what I do best. Leave this type of lifting for the humans,” he said dismissively, raking his eyes over Derek in passing as he turned to leave. He kept his face neutral, but he couldn't say if his eyes reflected his emotions or not. He didn't care to address it.

He walked out the door, using his left hand to pull the door close behind him without turning back around or breaking stride, leaving behind a group of werewolves staring at him in various states of shock and concern.

When he got outside, having nearly ran down the stairs, he breathed in the air, taking it heavily into his lungs then letting it out slowly in an attempt to calm himself. His agitation still flooding his body, his magic going from one side of his chest to the other like it was pacing. He climbed into his jeep quickly, sitting there for a few moments to continue taking breaths, trying to release the tension in his body, calm his emotions before something happened that he didn't mean to. Stiles release the glamour on his body, letting it drop and it felt like the invisible blanket was sliding over his skin, disappearing, being replaced by the early evening breeze. The sun was setting, turning the blue sky yellow and orange.

He gripped his steering wheel, just in case his hands were shaking, which he wasn't sure about. He laid his head against the back of his cabin, on the seat, closing his eyes. One who knew him might have thought he was recovering from a mild panic attack, but that wasn't it. He was frustrated, pissed, and hurt, and he felt humiliated. His stomach twisting at the knowledge.

Scott was pack. Derek accepted Scott into the pack, not him. After everything Scott did, all his arguing with Derek, it was like it was water under the bridge. Stiles was a fool to think that it wasn't just him, that Derek would want Scott to beg his forgiveness for what he forced him to do. Stiles was a fool to think he mattered at all to them. Even to Scott.

It proved to Stiles just how little they viewed him.

It didn't matter. Not anymore. He was not part of the pack so why should it matter to him. He had other friends. He had Danny and Lydia, people who saw him as something worth spending time with, acknowledging, and listening to. Stiles still hadn't talk with Lydia about everything, although he suspected she had put a great deal together herself. She was smart and she could have picked up on some hints or observations here and there. Speaking of Lydia, she was coming over for dinner with Danny, having not seen them both for two days. His dad insisted he get some rest, so they gave him the space to do so.

Sighing heavily, letting the tension go as much as he could, he turned his jeep on and accelerated on home. However at a stop light, he heard the sound of a siren. He looked to his left to see a Beacon Hills fire truck and ambulance weaving around stopped cars, blowing the siren and horn, going straight through the stop light, not stopping until they were out of sight.

It was then that Stiles remembered Ryan. He remembered Ryan and the date, not-date that they set last Friday. The Friday that had come and gone almost two weeks ago. It was currently Thursday and he had been unconscious in the Astral plane for over a week, waking up on the previous early Monday morning. He had spent the past few days resting, regaining his energy and strength. Stiles had forgotten all about it. Granted he didn't have a choice in the matter, but he also forgot about it in the days since he regained consciousness. He could imagine Ryan waiting for him at the coffee shop, ordering a coffee and sitting alone for who knows how long. 

That was a sad image. Stiles could relate to being forgotten about and it made him feel guilty for it. He had a good excuse, but still. He owed Ryan an explanation. He just had to think of one. 

Good thing he wasn't sleeping anymore. Caffeine was his new best friend.

Chapter Text

"Well that went well." Peter said from the sofa.

Derek had finished helping Isaac, finished cleaning the cuts with Jackson, making sure that he looked to be healing, coming down the spiral stairs looking tired and deep in thought. Whatever that poison was in his body, it was making his healing slow, so Derek had to keep an eye on him. Peter would help with that and it was a good thing that the teenager was out of school. It gave them the chance to monitor him for the next few days, make sure he truly was okay. They hoped that it would exit his body soon or at least burn off with his werewolf healing.

Peter had been listening in from downstairs as Derek had gone up to sit with the teen. Jackson had stayed for a while before returning home, not wanting his parents to worry, especially after the almost dying fiasco when he was the kanima. Scott following a little later, heading home to meet his mom when she got off her double shift at the hospital. He listened to Derek asking questions, listened to Isaac's answers. Not once did the teen indicate any lying or deception. They talked about everything from what happened in every detail and then to how he was feeling. Even mentioning his broken phone when Derek asked why he or Stiles didn't try to call for help sooner. Peter wasn't surprised when the conversation strayed to more Stiles after that. Although that was more of Isaac's doing.

Derek seemed to go quiet after that, grunting or saying nothing at all. Peter didn't have to be in that room to practically see the stoic expression on his nephew's face. He had to suppress a chuckle at the thought. Instead he listened to Isaac talk about Stiles. Telling his alpha that the boy seemed different, but it wasn't bad. Just hard to explain. He talked about his and Stiles' conversation, about why Stiles hasn't been around, figuring that Derek would want to know. How he said somethings that were out of line. Peter was curious to know what Isaac had said to Stiles, but the boy didn't elaborate and Derek hadn't asked. At the end of it, Peter agreed that Isaac was right, Stiles was different.

Derek looked at his uncle scowling but ignored him otherwise. The sound of rock music playing upstairs being the only sound they could hear, other than each other's breathing and heartbeats. Good, it means we can talk privately, Peter thought.

"Shouldn't you be getting some rest," Peter asked instead, turning away from the topic he really wanted to talk about.

Derek went to the kitchen. Peter heard him open the fridge to pull out a bottled water, opened it and taking a big swig, coming back into the main room as he did. "Shouldn't you be getting your own place?"

"Ouch." Peter said, not taking his eyes off the book in his hands. "And here I thought you would like having family around."

Peter saw out the corner of his eye as Derek went over to the desk chair and sat down in it, slumping a bit as he did. His head rolled back and he stared at the ceiling. Peter got the impression that his nephew was troubled by something, or maybe a lot of somethings, but he knew that Derek wouldn't talk about it. No matter how annoying he could get, he knew Derek would clam up so fast that it would take Peter resorting to more unfriendly manners to get him to speak. 

"How is he," Peter asked instead of shutting up.

"Don't pretend you weren't listening."

Peter shrugged, even though Derek didn't see it. "Regardless of what I heard, I didn't see. Is he really okay?"

Derek looked at his uncle before looking up at the stairs then nodded. "He seems fine. He's healing. It'll probably take all night before the cuts are completely gone, but otherwise..."

Peter nodded, turning his eyes back to his book. "He will be fine. We will watch him for a bit just to make sure, but still." Derek seemed to sighed, whether in relief or acceptance, Peter wasn't sure. "It's a good thing Stiles was there when he was."

"I cannot believe he could be that reckless," Derek said in a grumble of annoyance and anger. "He put himself and Isaac more at risk."

"Did he now?"

Derek nodded, raking his hands t