Chapter 1: I require a favor
“Can you repeat that?” Stiles asked weakly, his brain buzzing as he tried to process what he was hearing.
The man smiled indulgently at the boy and said again, “I require a favor, and I believe you are the best people to help me. The Nemeton is dying, and with it, Beacon Hills. We need to restore the balance that was present when the once-great Hale pack was guarding the land.”
“So you want us to go back in time?” Stiles confirmed at a whisper, hardly daring to speak any louder. He looked to his left at Lydia, who was uncharacteristically quiet. She shook her head at him almost imperceptibly and nodded at the man to continue.
“Yes,” he confirmed. “The Council and I need you to prevent the downfall of the Hale pack, so that they may survive and help the Nemeton to flourish.”
Stiles rolled his eyes. “Oh, is that all?” he asked dryly. “We just need to go back in time and prevent a massive fire from breaking out in the middle of the preserve that took the lives of more than ten people?”
“Yes,” the man replied unflinchingly.
“And to think I almost didn’t get out of bed when I felt that damn ward go off.” Stiles grumbled. He had been cozy and warm in his blanket burrito just an hour ago when he felt one of his and Lydia’s wards activate in the woods by the high school lacrosse field. He was all set to brush it off as someone else’s problem when his phone rang. And who was he to ignore a call from Lydia?
Of course the ward hadn’t malfunctioned – he and Lydia hadn’t spent all summer researching only to put up faulty wards, but he hadn’t expected… this.
They had barely made it out of Stiles’ jeep in the parking lot before they came upon the ‘threat.’ The man was sitting serenely on the bleachers, looking out over the empty lacrosse field as if he was merely waiting to meet an old friend.
He had introduced himself as Kane, spent about ten minutes describing his role on the Wizard’s Council, and then dropped the bomb about time travel on them without giving Stiles or Lydia the chance to so much as sit down.
“To my knowledge, time travel has not yet been successful,” Lydia interjected primly. “Are you telling me this has been tested before?”
Kane smiled kindly at her before answering. “Yes, my dear. Over the last several hundred years, we have perfected the art of time travel.”
Stiles’ eyes widened. “How many times have you done it?”
“Traveled through time?” Kane clarified. After a nod from both Stiles and Lydia, Kane answered. “Only twice myself, for routine purposes. Never with the intent of changing the past, as you two would.”
Stiles and Lydia exchanged twin frowns. “But wouldn’t changing the past, especially this drastically, detrimentally effect this world as we know it?” Lydia asked, voicing their shared concern.
“Not entirely. The universe has a way of balancing things out, as we have learned in our experiments over the years. And while this may seem like a drastic change to you, changing the fate of one family is the universal equivalent of a milk run compared to the situations in which we have had to intercede in the past.”
Lydia opened her mouth to ask what Stiles was sure to be a barrage of questions about these past situations, but he held up a hand to stop her. “Why us? Why not do it yourselves?”
“Ah,” said Kane eloquently. If Stiles didn’t know any better, he would have through the man was embarrassed. “We have attempted to intercede several times. There are simply too many variables at play, and we do not have the intimate knowledge of the situation that you do.”
Lydia cocked her head to the side, letting her not-at-all-sleep-mussed hair fall in a curtain over her shoulder. “Variables?”
Kane nodded. “The Argents had many back up plans that would have led to the annihilation of the Hale pack, had their first plan not worked out. We have attempted to stop several of them, but it would seem the only way, other than wiping out the Argent family altogether, is to get the Hales to trust us enough to inform them of the threat so they may prepare themselves to fight against it. As of yet, we have been unsuccessful in that arena.”
Stiles licked his lips and chuckled ruefully. “You may be overestimating how much luck we’d have getting the Hales to trust us. I mean, the Hales we know now barely trust us as it is, and we’ve been through a lot together. How are we supposed to get their whole pack to believe what we’re saying, let alone trust that we’re telling the truth?”
There was a sparkle in Kane’s eye as he responded. “I think you’d be surprised how much the Hales trust you already, Stiles. And as far as how you’ll get the others on board – I’ve known you for twenty minutes and already I trust that your intentions are pure. They will, too.”
Stiles exchanged another look with Lydia, who pursed her lips for several seconds before nodding. “Ok,” he said. “We’re in. When do we start?”
Right away, as it turned out. Stiles and Lydia were instructed not to let their pack in on the mission. Kane was concerned that there would be significant opposition to the task. Stiles, however, was more concerned that he wouldn’t be able to prevent Derek, Cora, and Peter from demanding that they come along. And that would be a disaster.
In the end, Stiles convinced Kane to let him tell Deaton, so there would be at least one person in the present timeline who knew that he and Lydia were messing with time travel. Lydia insisted that she tell Jackson as well, to whom she had grown closer when he reappeared suddenly from London after he had learned of the Nogitsune’s reign of terror, and Allison’s death.
The next night, after Stiles’ dad had left for his shift, Stiles picked up Lydia and Jackson and drove to the Animal Clinic to meet Kane. Kane was already there, just finishing the set up for the big spell. Deaton was perched in the corner with his arms folded. He had already expressed his displeasure at the prospect of Stiles and Lydia time traveling.
“How will they get back?” Jackson asked for the third time.
Kane turned his attention to the wolf and answered again patiently. “They will repeat the incantation I have told them to say. It must be done at midnight, under a moon that is more than half full.”
Jackson grumbled a bit and began pacing.
“Ok,” declared Kane, stepping back from the circle he had created in the middle of the room. “Lydia, you stand here.” He motioned to the middle of the circle, next to a pile of rune stones. “Stiles, across from her, here.” He led Stiles to Lydia and stopped him when they were only about a foot apart.
Jackson continued to pace nervously against the wall. He had also objected to Lydia attempting to time travel, but he was beaten down each time he brought it up. Stiles could almost feel the nerves coming off the boy in waves.
“Cheer up, Jacks,” Stiles jeered obnoxiously. “I’ll have her back in no time.” He winked at the wolf as Jackson stopped walking and growled.
“He’s right, you know,” agreed Kane. “It will feel to us as if no time at all has passed. We will only know that the spell was successful if they tell us in just a few seconds.”
Jackson pouted and resumed pacing. It was a testament to how anxious he was that he didn’t retort.
Kane turned his attention back to the two in the circle. “Now I need you to hold hands and not let go.” He waited until Stiles and Lydia had a firm grip on one another before continuing. “You ready?” After a nod from both of them, Kane began the incantation. His blue eyes turned a violent shade of orange as the spell began to take effect. The last thing Stiles registered before he passed out was someone screaming his name and strong hands catching him before he hit the ground.
Chapter 2: Be wary of strangers
Stiles came to on the grass. He felt blindly around himself and all he was met with was cold, hard ground. Opening his eyes slowly, he found himself shielding them from the sun. He heard a groan to his right and sat up immediately.
“Lydia?” Stiles called out quietly. “Are you ok?”
“Not Lydia. And not ok,” came a decidedly masculine voice.
The sound of retching reached Stiles ears as his brain caught up with himself. “Jackson? Dammit, what are you doing here?” He looked around wildly. “Where’s Lydia?”
Jackson wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “The spell was only meant for two people, remember?”
“Yeah, so why the hell are you here?” Stiles stood up, fighting against a sudden wave of nausea. He stumbled, and was surprised when he felt a hand steady him. “You!” he accused, pointing a stern finger at Jackson.
“What?” Jackson protested, taking a step back and looking at the hand that was on Stiles’ shoulder as if it had betrayed him.
“You caught me, didn’t you? When I fell at the clinic during the spell.”
“When you fainted, you mean,” Jackson mumbled, embarrassed.
Stiles took that as a confirmation. “Did I let go of Lydia?”
Jackson thought back to the moment for a second before nodding. “Yeah, right before I caught you.”
“Shit,” Stiles spat. “The spell must have transferred to you when you touched me. I guess I’m stuck with you,” he muttered to himself.
“Hey!” Jackson protested. “It’s not like I volunteered for this.” Jackson’s head shot up and turned to his left. He held out a hand for Stiles to be quiet. To his surprise, Stiles fell silent.
The two of them stepped to the side, behind a large oak tree. Jackson closed his eyes to focus his hearing while Stiles went against every instinct he had and didn’t speak.
Several minutes passed. Just when Stiles was about to burst, Jackson’s shoulders dropped in relief.
“What was it?” Stiles hissed, keeping his voice low.
Jackson frowned, still looking in the direction of the now-gone voices. “I think it was Derek. It sounded like him, only younger?”
Stiles’ eyes widened. “Does that mean it worked? Did we really just travel through time?”
“I think so,” said Jackson, awed.
Stiles moved out from behind the tree to get a better look at their surroundings. “I think we’re in the Preserve.”
Jackson nodded, following Stiles deeper into the woods. He paused to scent the area and pointed off to Stiles’ left. “The road is that way. Maybe we can find someone who’ll give us a ride into town.”
Stiles snorted. “And tell them to take us where? My house, where my dad…” he trailed off suddenly.
“What is it, Stilinski?” Jackson sounded concerned in spite of himself as he turned to face Stiles.
“It’s January 2005,” Stiles whispered, wiping a sudden tear from his face in the hopes that Jackson wouldn’t see it.
“So my mom just died.”
For once, Jackson bit back a smart ass comment and stood there awkwardly in silence.
“She died just after Thanksgiving in 2004,” Stiles continued. “At this point, I – little me – would be living at Scott’s house.”
Jackson looked like he wanted to ask, but refrained.
Stiles cleared his throat and shook his head, silently begging Jackson not to mention what just happened. “Anyway, my place is out. Dad’ll be there. He took some time off, after, to –”
“January 2005, did you say?” Jackson mercifully changed the subject. “We can go to my house. My parents take a two month long vacation every Christmas to Ibiza. I’d be crashing with Danny right now, so my house is empty.”
They shared a soft look, both unsure how they went from bickering at the Animal Clinic to sharing sad childhood memories in the span of half an hour.
Stiles spared Jackson a smile before nodding towards the road. He heard a muffled, “shut up, Stilinski,” before Jackson fell into step behind him.
They were walking for about twenty minutes before Stiles started to hear cars. As they broke through the tree line, Stiles stuck his thumb out.
To their utter shock, a very familiar Camaro came speeding around the corner only seconds later. It slowed to a halt in front of them.
Jackson tensed up and stepped in front of Stiles almost instinctively. Stiles ducked out from around the wolf to get a glimpse of the driver.
The resemblance was unmistakable. Behind the wheel was a young Peter Hale.
Peter, in a gesture so familiar to Stiles he couldn’t help but smile, leered at the two boys on the side of the road. “Can I help you, gentlemen?”
Stiles swallowed and cleared his throat. “Uh, yeah, we’re trying to get to our friend’s house.”
“And you thought you’d just walk there?” Peter raised one eyebrow expertly. His eyes roamed over Jackson appreciatively.
Stiles placed his hand on Jackson’s back in an attempt to prevent him from growling and giving away his wolfy predisposition.
“Yeah,” Stiles chuckled self deprecatingly. “Guess we misjudged some things.”
His brain worked overtime to make sure the next few sentences were close enough to the truth not to trigger Peter’s built-in lie detector. “Do you know the Lahey house?”
Peter nodded once, but made no move to invite them into the car. “I do.”
“We know Camden, the oldest brother,” Jackson cut in. Stiles sighed in relief internally as he remembered that Jackson actually did know the Lahey’s – having grown up across the street from them. “Any chance we could catch a ride?”
“Well, I don’t know,” said Peter, clearly enjoying himself. “My mother always told me to be wary of strangers.”
“Then maybe we should introduce ourselves,” offered Stiles. Remembering that he hadn’t started going by Stiles until about six months after his mother’s death, he figured the nickname couldn’t hurt to share. “My real name is unpronounceable, so you can call me Stiles.” He hooks a thumb over his shoulder at Jackson. “We call him Jackass, but you can call him Jay.”
Peter said something under his breath that caused Jackson to step almost imperceptibly back. He played it off as him shifting his weight on his feet, but Stiles didn’t miss the way Peter’s eyes lingered on Jackson after the movement.
“Alright,” he decided with a fake put-upon sigh. “Come on in, I’ll give you a ride.”
Stiles and Jackson exchanged nervous glances and both opted to sit in the back seat.
The ride was filled with half-truths and awkward silences, which Peter seemed to revel in. He really was just as creepy before the fire as after it.
“So, how do you boys know the Lahey’s?” Peter crooned as they pulled up to the house.
“How does anybody know anybody?” Stiles laughed nervously, grabbing Jackson’s shoulder and bodily removing him from the car as fast as he could. “Bye, thanks for the ride!” he said pointedly, clearly inviting Peter to drive away.
“Goodbye, Stiles,” he purred, eliciting a shiver from both Stiles and Jackson. “I do hope we meet again soon.”
Stiles didn’t like the knowing grin Peter threw their way. He shook the man from his mind as the Camaro turned the corner, determined to focus instead on the next task at hand – finding Talia Hale.
Jackson had no problem getting them into his house; they hid the spare key under the same rock in 2005 as they did currently. Jackson led them upstairs so they could shower and change before coming up with a plan to approach the Alpha.
“Oh my god, lizard boy, does your family own anything without a collar on it?” Stiles groaned after his shower, rifling through Mr. Whittemore’s dresser drawers.
Jackson entered the room wearing nothing but a towel. “Sorry we have class, Stilinski. Does your dad own anything that doesn’t say Beacon County Sheriff’s Station on it?”
“Fuck off,” Stiles pouted, not conceding the point, but not having any evidence to prove him wrong. He grabbed the least offensive article of clothing, which ended up being just a plain black t shirt, and threw it on with his jeans while Jackson put on some clothes in the next room.
Stiles peeked outside and thought he saw a boy no older than ten in the window of the house across the street. The blinds closed abruptly and with a jolt, Stiles realized the kid must have been Isaac.
“We can’t do anything for him right now, Stiles.” Jackson’s voice startled Stiles out of his reverie. Jackson, who had joined Stiles at the window and was wearing a surprisingly soft expression, looked sad for a moment before his practiced mask of indifference took hold. “Let’s go,” he nodded towards the stairs.
Stiles followed and they sat down in the living room to devise a plan.
Chapter 3: Hi, Bambi
An hour later, they were no closer to having a fully fledged plan then they had been when they first landed in 2005.
“We are not seducing our way into their house,” Stiles said for the fifth time.
“Why not?” Jackson argued again. “I’ve told you before, I’m everyone’s type. And Cora’s hot.”
Stiles rolled his eyes so hard it physically hurt him. “Cora’s like ten in this timeline, you idiot. You’d have better luck with Laura.”
“Well then why don’t you seduce Derek into letting you in?” Jackson responded slyly.
“No. Not an option. Derek’s had enough of that to last a lifetime,” Stiles said fiercely. “Besides, that wouldn’t work on him anyway. He’s not even remotely interested in me.” The last part he said a little more quietly, hanging his head so Jackson couldn’t see the blush spread through his cheeks.
Jackson huffed. “You can duck all you want, I can smell the misery on you. We are so not having this conversation right now. Fine, seduction is out. What are we supposed to do, make friends with them?”
“Yes,” Stiles responded through gritted teeth.
“Well, just look at them like that and we’re in.” Jackson tossed a throw pillow at Stiles’ head, prompting a startled laugh from them both.
Stiles sat back into the couch with a sigh. “I so cannot figure you out,” he muttered. “One second you’re a douchebag, the next you’re catching me when I faint in the animal clinic and throwing pillows at me.”
It was Jackson’s turn to blush. “Shut up.” He leaned back into the couch next to Stiles, where they sat for a while contemplating their options.
“Well this is all moot if we don’t even know where to find them,” Jackson pointed out quietly a few minutes later. “It’s not like we can just show up at their house. Peter may have not realized I was a werewolf, but Talia Hale would.”
“And she wouldn’t take too well to having an unknown wolf show up uninvited claiming to be from the future,” Stiles finished dejectedly.
Jackson nodded slightly. “So we’re back to befriending them. Do you know where they’d hang out? I mean Derek said once that he played basketball, but school’s out for Winter Break right now. Did any of them, you know, have jobs or something?”
Stiles shot up from his seat. “Jackson, you’re a genius!”
Jackson looked absurdly pleased.
“Oh, don’t get ahead of yourself,” Stiles brushed it off with a wave of his hand. “I just meant that in this particular situation you said something helpful.”
The wolf pouted slightly and gestured impatiently for Stiles to go on.
“My dad told my mom once that he’d gotten a call to the local coffee shop, you know, The Morning Grind? There was a guy there acting all belligerent, and when she asked him who’d called it in, he said Laura Hale. Maybe she works there?”
Jackson sighed and got to his feet. “It’s as good a lead as we’re bound to get just sitting here. Come on, we can take my dad’s car.”
They pulled into the parking lot which was mercifully almost empty, and strode into the coffee shop. There was a ding that announced their presence but other than that, the shop was silent.
Stiles walked up to the counter and peered behind it. He jumped back with a yelp when a mountain of brown hair nearly whipped him in the face.
“Hello,” the girl said cheerily, righting herself from her crouched position under the counter. “Welcome to – aww.” She cut herself off when she took in the sight of Stiles’ wide eyes. “Hi, Bambi.”
“Bambi?” he repeated weakly, still not quite believing what he was seeing.
Jackson took a step forward so he was shoulder-to-shoulder with Stiles.
“Hmm,” she said appreciatively, eying Jackson with a different kind of interest. “My name’s Laura. What can I get for you, handsome?”
Jackson, suddenly oozing charm, leaned forward with his elbow on the counter. Holding his chin in his hand, he said, “I’ll take a double red eye.”
Laura snorted behind her hand and turned around to make the absurd drink. “What about you, Bambi?” she asked, sparing Stiles a glance over her shoulder.
“Oh,” said Stiles, still taken aback at the fact that he was in the presence of someone who was not alive in his timeline. “I’ll just have whatever’s easy.”
“So, Laura?” An achingly familiar voice announced the arrival of another member of the Hale family.
Laura swatted at Derek as he passed by her behind the counter. “Der, don’t malign me in front of new friends.”
Stiles’ jaw dropped at the sight of teenaged Derek. Jackson cleared his throat under his breath, prompting Stiles to attempt to look normal. He shook his head and focused back on Derek and Laura’s interaction.
Derek spared Laura a quick grin, but it turned sad after a few seconds. Stiles frowned, trying to pinpoint the change, before he realized this would only be about a month and a half after Paige’s death.
He may have stared a bit too long. When Stiles finally looked away from Derek’s face, he was met with Laura’s knowing glance from next to the coffee machine.
“So what did you say your name was, Bambi?” she asked shrewdly, eying Stiles and Derek. Derek had gone back to the far corner of the coffee shop, where a book and an iced coffee had previously been abandoned. His head was down, but Stiles could tell he was listening.
“Uh, you can call me –”
Stiles couldn’t believe his (lack of) luck. He heard a ding and turned around to find Peter waltzing through the door.
Laura gestured between Peter and Stiles. “You two know each other?”
“We do, indeed,” Peter replied, his eyes never leaving Stiles. “Twice in one day? People will talk.”
Jackson snorted and tried to cover it with a cough. Derek went back to actually reading while Laura finished getting their drinks ready.
“So, do you all know each other?” Stiles asked, feigning ignorance.
“Yup,” said Laura, hopping up onto the counter after depositing their drinks in Jackson’s hands. Jackson handed Stiles his black coffee and adjusted his position so he was between Stiles and Peter. “Tall, dark, and broody back there is my little brother, and this old creep is our uncle.”
“Well, it’s nice to meet you,” said Stiles genuinely. His heart broke a little at the thought of the Derek in the corner losing Laura. The very much alive Laura who was standing right in front of him.
Laura frowned, and Stiles could tell immediately it was because of his scent. Jackson picked up on the change and attempted to distract Laura with a little flirting. It was the kind of flirting both parties knew would never lead anywhere, but was still fun to do.
Stiles left them to it and took a seat at another table near Derek’s, trying with all his might to ignore the all-knowing looks Peter was sending his way.
He wanted to desperately to whip out his phone and mess around with his apps to diffuse the awkwardness he was feeling, but Kane had made Stiles and Lydia leave all electronics back in the clinic.
To his dismay, Peter pulled out the chair across from him.
“So, are you two just passing through Beacon Hills?” he asked as if he already knew the answer.
Thankfully, Stiles was spared from having to answer by the squeal of tires in the parking lot. A black SUV rolled to a stop in front of the doors. Two people got out and made a beeline for the coffee shop.
Stiles’ breath caught in his throat when he recognized them as Gerard and Chris Argent.
Chapter 4: We're closed
“Hey, Jay, come switch drinks with me,” Stiles called across the shop. Jackson was so preoccupied flirting with Laura that he still hadn’t noticed Gerard and Chris. Stiles’ only hope of controlling Jackson’s reaction to Gerard’s appearance was if he could get the wolf to sit next to him calmly.
“What do you mean, switch with you?” Jackson shot Stiles an annoyed look, but surprisingly started walking towards Stiles with his hand outstretched, offering his cup.
Stiles nodded to the seat next to him and looked at the Argent’s approaching through the window surreptitiously. Jackson followed his gaze and, to Stiles’ shock, was able to school his expression and suppress a growl. Jackson nearly melted into the seat by Stiles.
Peter, who had stood up immediately at the first whiff of Argent, walked over towards the counter and leaned against it next to where Laura was perched. His face was the picture of calm, but Stiles could see a muscle twitching in his jaw.
Derek was still sitting at his table, but Stiles saw him crane his neck towards the SUV outside, as if hoping someone else would emerge from the back seat. Stiles felt sick when he realized that meant Kate had already gotten her hooks into him.
Jackson placed a calming hand on Stiles’ back. To outsiders, it would just look like a normal gesture among friends. But Stiles appreciated it for what it was – pack comfort.
“Can we help you gentlemen?” Peter asked, picking at some dirt under his fingernails idly once Gerard and Chris were both inside the shop.
Chris shot a wary glance towards Stiles and Jackson, clearly not recognizing either of them, but also not wanting to start a confrontation in front of civilians.
“Just here for some coffee,” Gerard replied.
The sound of his voice made Jackson tense up. It was a testament to how nervous Peter and Laura were that neither of them noticed the sudden shift in Jackson’s demeanor and scent.
“We’re closed,” Laura replied lightly, attempting to look the picture of calm up on the counter. “Maybe try the Starbucks a town over?”
Gerard looked around the room and spotted Stiles and Jackson. “It doesn’t look like you’re closed,” he said with a vicious grin. “How about two black coffees, my dear?” Laura sneered at the endearment and was only held back by Peter’s hand on her knee.
“To go? I think we can do that.” Peter jumped over the counter and filled the travel cups as quickly as he could. His eyes flicked to Derek as he passed the drinks to Chris, but Derek’s face was once again pressed into his book.
Stiles saw a look he couldn’t place pass between Chris and Peter during the exchange of money. It almost looked as though Chris mouthed the word ‘sorry,’ at the young wolf.
There was definite longing in Peter’s eyes as he watched the Argent’s walk away, and it wasn’t for Gerard.
Gerard’s eyes swept the room one last time before he left. He locked eyes with Stiles and it took everything Stiles had not to be the one to look away first.
Gerard spared him an almost impressed smile before leading Chris back out the door.
“Friends of yours?” Stiles asked after the SUV had pulled back out of the parking lot.
“You could say that,” Peter replied bitterly. “Derek,” he said abruptly. “Time to go home.”
Derek started to object, but a look from Peter silenced him. Peter had turned his back on Stiles, which led Stiles to believe he had flashed his eyes at Derek to get him to comply.
Peter and Derek left without so much as a goodbye, leaving an edgy Jackson alone with Stiles and Laura.
Stiles distracted Laura while Jackson took a few deep breaths. “Is it always this tense in here, or was it something we said?”
To his surprise, Laura laughed. The tension bled from her shoulders as she hopped down off the counter. She shook her head and pulled out a cloth to start frantically wiping down any surfaces she could reach. “Nah, that’s nothing,” she said, trying to appear nonchalant. “Our families just don’t get along very well.”
There was a finality in her tone that suggested Stiles wasn’t going to get anything more out of her on that particular topic, so he switched gears.
“Derek’s not much of a talker, huh?”
Laura stopped cleaning and raised an eyebrow at him. “Saw that, did you? I couldn’t help but notice that wasn’t all you saw.”
Stiles gulped and elbowed a laughing Jackson in the ribs. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he denied unconvincingly.
“Mmhmm,” Laura hummed and pointed her washcloth at him. “Just watch yourself, Bambi. I don’t want some kid with doe eyes and a dry wit coming in and fucking his life up.”
He nodded rapidly, ignoring Jackson as he continued to laugh at Stiles’ expense.
Stiles and Jackson sipped their drinks for another minute in silence, wondering exactly what to do next, when Laura suddenly stopped cleaning and plopped down onto the seat across from them.
She let out such a world weary sigh, it made Stiles want to wrap a blanket around her and make her hot chocolate.
“Penny for your thoughts?” Stiles said.
Laura chuckled half-heartedly, but then it was like a dam broke. She let all her troubles out what seemed like a single breath.
Nothing about the supernatural, of course. She was overwhelmed, not crazy. But she ranted about her siblings and the pressure her mom was putting on her to ‘take over the family business,’ which she didn’t know Stiles knew meant ‘become the next Alpha.’
She talked for nearly ten minutes non-stop. By then, Stiles and Jackson had both finished their drinks and were just watching her. They would each pipe in every once in a while with a follow up question or noise of concern, but mostly they just let her go.
“Oh my god.” Laura sat up and covered her face with her hands. “I can’t believe I just unloaded on you guys like that. It’s just with Peter being a dick and Derek barely talking to anyone, and then with the Argent’s showing up like that –”
Stiles reached across the table and squeezed her shoulder. “It’s ok, we’ve all been there.”
She sent him a grateful smile and stood up, displacing Stiles’ hand gently. “I should close up. Thanks, though, both of you.”
Jackson, who looked supremely uncomfortable, just kind of grunted in response.
“You guys here long?”
Stiles shook his head. “Just visiting. Should only be here about a week.”
Laura nodded absently and took out a pen and an old receipt from her pocket. “Well if you guys get bored or want to hang out with an oversharing nutcase at all while you’re here, give me a call.”
Stiles took the paper and nodded affirmatively. They threw away their cups and said their goodbyes. Neither Jackson nor Laura felt up to continuing their flirting charade, so they parted with a simple wave.
Jackson pulled over into an abandoned bank parking lot a few minutes later, once they were out of earshot of Laura. They both sat back into their seats and exhaled sharply.
“We were not prepared for this,” Stiles whispered.
“Nope,” Jackson agreed. “We have to save her, Stiles.”
“You bet your ass we do.”
Chapter 5: An unhealthy relationship
Stiles still had a pit in his stomach from seeing Derek look for Kate when the Argents came to the shop. He couldn’t help it – Derek was only fifteen, and even though Stiles had put the pieces together from all of the reports on the fire he’d stolen from his dad, it was still a shock to see this version of Derek being manipulated up close. Still so trusting, yet broken from Paige’s death. If there was anything Stiles could do to get Derek out from Kate’s hooks, he had to do it.
“Pull over up here, will you?” Stiles asked Jackson, pointing at the gate marking the South entrance of the Preserve.
Jackson raised his eyebrows at the request, but pulled over anyway.
“Derek told me once of this place around here where he’d go to get away when he was younger,” Stiles admitted quietly. “I thought maybe –”
“Go ahead,” Jackson interrupted. “There’s something I want to do in town anyway. I’ll pick you up here in an hour.”
Stiles wanted to ask, but let it go. He shot Jackson a grateful nod and got out of the car.
The clearing Derek told him about was only a ten minute walk from the Preserve entrance, so it wasn’t hard to find.
Stiles smirked to himself as he grew closer to being within earshot of Derek; it was only a few months earlier that he’d been able to perfect his creeping technique in a way that even Derek couldn’t hear him coming.
Keeping his weight on the balls of his feet, and being extra careful not to step on any particularly crunchy-looking leaves, Stiles was able to get close enough to actually see teenage Derek sitting on a boulder before the wolf’s head shot up.
“Who’s there?” Derek’s voice rang out in the forest.
Stiles gave up on being sneaky then and announced his presence. “Hello?” he called, feigning innocence. “Oh, hey! Derek, right?”
Derek squinted at him suspiciously. “You’re the guy from the coffee shop, aren’t you? Are you following me?”
“Stiles, yeah.” He waved and continued walking until they were only about five feet apart. “And no, not following you.” He didn’t elaborate. The less he said, the less likely it was that Derek would catch him in a lie. “What are you doing here?”
Derek was silent for a minute while he took Stiles in. He looked like he had half a mind to just get up and walk away. Instead, he just slouched and replied. “I come here to think sometimes. My family lives a couple miles away.”
“Think about what?” Stiles aimed for nonchalant and missed by about a mile. He winced and laughed self-deprecatingly. “Sorry, I guess I’m not very good a subtlety.” He hooked his thumb over his shoulder. “Laura gave us the abridged version of some family stuff that’s been going down. I can imagine that’s not easy on any of you.”
The wolf shook his head, still eying Stiles curiously. He looked like he was desperate to talk to someone about what was bothering him, but Stiles was still a stranger. “Laura told you that?”
Stiles just nodded and waited. Hopefully knowing that Laura at least trusted him enough to give him a condensed family history would prompt Derek to open up as well.
For a second, Stiles thought Derek was going to, but instead he sat upright as if something had just occurred to him. “Did she send you here to get me to talk to you?” He stood up and started pacing. “That’s – that’s… I can’t believe she did that.”
Stiles waved his hand to encompass Derek’s whole posture. “Not that I don’t want to dive into that particular sibling relationship, but no, Laura didn’t send me here. I didn’t even know you’d be here.”
Derek stopped pacing and cocked his head to the side while Stiles spoke. Stiles barely repressed rolling his eyes at the young wolf’s obvious attempt to read his heartbeat. Clearly he had not been taught stealth yet.
When it was clear to Derek that Stiles was telling the truth, he relaxed minutely. After a few moments, he sat back down and hung his head. “Sorry,” he muttered.
Stiles disguised his surprise at hearing the word come out of Derek’s mouth and waved away his apology. “Don’t worry about it.” He took a deep breath. “Do you want me to leave you alone?”
Derek didn’t answer at first. He raised his head and looked at Stiles with something akin to wonder. “No. And I have no idea why.”
Stiles laughed, which seemed to break some of the tension. “I have that effect on people. No one can resist my wily charm and sparkling personality.”
“Sparkling personality?” Derek repeated wryly.
“Hey,” Stiles protested through a laugh. “I can be sparkly.” He moved towards Derek and sat on a downed tree a few feet away from him.
They were quiet for a few seconds, trying to move through the awkwardness of talking to someone you don’t really know. Surprisingly it was Derek who broke the silence.
“Have you ever had a girlfriend, Stiles?”
Stiles pursed his lips as his thoughts turned to his one-sided love affair with Lydia, the ‘almost sex’ with Heather in her basement, the maybe-it-was-the-Nogitsune-maybe-it-was-him virginity loss session at Eichen House, and the unrequited crush he had on his version of Derek. “Uh-uh,” he settled on eventually. “Not really.”
Derek frowned at his feet. “I think I do.”
Stiles’ blood ran cold. He was talking about Kate. “Think?” he managed through gritted teeth.
“I don’t know.” Derek ran his hands through his hair and looked up again. “I had a girlfriend, before –” he cut himself off.
If Stiles was a wolf with super senses, he knew Derek would smell of misery.
“But now?” Stiles prompted him, trying to get Derek away from memories of Paige.
Derek shook his head and allowed the conversation to shift. “But this is different. She doesn’t want to introduce me to her family, or even really be seen with me in public.”
Stiles tried to keep his voice even. “Sounds like an unhealthy relationship to me.”
“It’s not,” Derek denied vehemently. “She loves me, she told me. And I think I love her. It’s just complicated.” He looked up with wide eyes, imploring Stiles to believe him.
Stiles was struck suddenly with the thought that Derek didn’t have anyone to talk to. He’d clearly ostracized himself from his friends at school after Paige’s death, and it wasn’t like his family would have been open to a discussion about Kate.
“What makes it complicated?” Stiles asked evenly. If he gave Derek an outlet for his confusion, maybe he could be one step closer to convincing him that the relationship was toxic.
Derek looked around shiftily. “Well, she’s a little older than me,” he admitted quietly.
Stiles nodded. “You look like you want to say more. Are there other things that make it complicated?”
“Yeah.” Derek made no move to continue.
“You can talk to me, you know,” Stiles prodded gently.
Derek must have seen something in Stiles’ eyes, because the floodgates opened and he just let everything out in a rush. His relationship with Kate, how it started, how his family wouldn’t understand, how he loved her and trusted her and knew she would never hurt them. He made a vague reference to Paige’s death, but only in the sense that he told Stiles he didn’t fully trust Peter after ‘what he did.’
He slipped up then and mentioned how he’d met Kate, “in class.” His eyes widened and he closed off his posture immediately.
Stiles frowned as he tried to parse through the sentence. “So,” he said slowly. “She’s a teacher?”
Derek’s shoulders slumped. “Substitute teacher.”
Rage shot through Stiles’ veins like hot lead. “Let me get this straight. This woman got a job at your school, manipulated you into starting a relationship with her, convinced you that she loved you and you loved her, won’t introduce you to her family, forbade you from telling your family about her, and you don’t think this is an unhealthy relationship?”
Derek stood up, suddenly defensive. “You wouldn’t understand. You don’t know me at all, and you certainly don’t know her.”
“No, don’t,” Derek cut him off, already striding purposefully out of the clearing. “Forget I ever said anything.”
Stiles ran his hand through his hair, pulling it in frustration. “Damn it,” he muttered under his breath.
He walked back towards the entrance, where he found Jackson waiting for him. He slid back into the passenger seat with his head hung and his mind racing.
“Hmm,” said Jackson pensively. “That’s your, ‘I fucked up,’ face. What did you do?”
“Fuck off, Jackson,” Stiles sniped half-heartedly.
Jackson just rolled his eyes and reached over Stiles to get a small box out of the glove compartment. He tossed it onto Stiles’ lap and started the car.
“What’s this?” Stiles asked, curiosity pulling him slowly out of his own negative headspace.
“New phone,” Jackson grunted.
Reinvigorated at the thought of being able to tease Jackson for the thoughtful gesture, Stiles spent the rest of the drive poking fun at him. By the time they reached the Whittemore house, both boys were laughing.
Chapter 6: Talia Hale
Stiles caught Jackson up on his interaction with Derek. Ignoring the eye rolls and derisive snorts, Stiles tried not to leave anything out that might help them moving forward. They toyed with the idea of just going straight to Talia, but they weren’t sure quite how that would play out.
He had just finished catching Jackson up when his stomach growled loudly enough for Jackson to hear even without wolfy super hearing.
“Come on,” Jackson said, standing up from the kitchen table and leading Stiles back out to the car.
Stiles yawned and followed, rubbing his stomach absentmindedly. They pulled into the grocery store parking lot just as the sun was starting to set.
Stiles grabbed a cart and allowed himself to be led around the store by Jackson, who was putting all the most expensive products into the cart without even checking their prices.
“Wow.” Stiles whistled lowly. “Dude, you know the store brand is just as good and it’s like much cheaper, right?”
Jackson frowned and looked at the contents of their cart. “I’m not buying store brand groceries, Stiles,” he retorted, as if the mere thought was insulting.
“How are we even going to pay for these? It’s not like we brought our wallets with us.”
Jackson muttered some response about knowing where his family kept petty cash, but Stiles was too distracted by the sight of a familiar face at the end of the aisle to listen. Jackson caught a whiff of Derek’s scent as the other wolf turned the corner and the two followed the Hale without a thought.
“Oh, shit,” Jackson swore in hushed tones. He pulled Stiles back into their aisle and ducked down, as if the sight of two teenagers ducking wasn’t at all suspicious.
‘What?’ Stiles mouthed to him.
Stiles’ eyes grew big as saucers. Talia Hale couldn’t find them. How were they supposed to explain that Jackson, an unknown werewolf, was in their territory and had no pack they could verify? They weren’t prepared to answer her questions yet.
He nodded towards the door. They abandoned their cart, but only got a few steps before –
Stiles closed his eyes and turned around slowly. He pushed at Jackson’s back subtly to indicate that he should keep moving, but Jackson remained stubbornly at his side.
“Oh, hey, Derek. Fancy meeting you here.” Stiles cringed internally at his attempt at nonchalance.
“What are you doing here?” Derek asked him, taking a few steps forward so they were only separated by the cart.
Stiles gestured to the cart between them with a smirk, causing Derek to duck his head with a chuckle.
“Yeah, ok, stupid question,” he allowed. He raised his head and Stiles could swear there was a twinkle in his eye.
“Derek?” An unfamiliar voice rang out from the neighboring aisle. Stiles and Jackson froze as a woman they had only seen in pictures rounded the corner and walked towards them regally.
She was exactly as commanding a presence as Stiles had expected. Her long brown hair fell in sheets around her shoulders, and Stiles was certain he’d never seen anyone with posture as impeccable as Talia Hale’s.
“Oh, sorry, mom. This is Stiles and this is his friend, uh.” Derek frowned, embarrassed. “Sorry, I don’t remember your name.”
Jackson smiled, all charm, and waved his hand at Derek. “Don’t worry about it.” He turned his attention to Talia and nodded his head respectfully. “You can call me Jay. We’d love to stay and chat, but Stiles and I are actually in a bit of a rush.”
Once Talia’s sights were fully on Jackson, her posture changed. Stiles knew in an instant she had figured out he was a werewolf. Derek shot his mother a confused look, but before anyone could speak, the clacking of heels on the far end of the aisle distracted them all.
“Kate,” Derek whispered almost reverently.
Now it was Talia’s turn to be confused. She looked back and forth between Derek and Kate, who hadn’t yet realized she was sharing an aisle with the four of them.
Chris rounded the corner then, holding two different cereal options in his hands. The two of them bickered about which to buy, before Chris just shrugged and tossed them both into their cart. He looked up and did a double-take to the end of the aisle. He said something to Kate that Stiles couldn’t quite hear, but that made the three wolves surrounding him stand up straighter.
Before any of them could move, a mother and her two children squeezed past Kate and Chris, planting themselves in the middle of the aisle with no idea what they had just interrupted.
The younger child, who was no older than four, looked around curiously while her mother and big brother picked out some cake mix.
Stiles saw Kate smirk at Derek from across the aisle, and moved to stand in front of him instinctively. Talia raised an eyebrow at the interaction and took a step forward as well, effectively shielding both Derek and Jackson from the Argents.
Stiles saw the little girl’s eyes grow wide, and followed her eye line to Derek’s face. The young wolf’s eyes were glowing electric blue.
Without thinking, Stiles turned his back on Kate and Chris and latched onto Derek. He placed one hand on his shoulder and the other on his face, and turned him so he was facing away from the girl.
“Derek, your eyes,” he whispered urgently.
The shock of learning that Stiles knew about werewolves was enough for Derek’s eyes to return to their soft green color. He ducked his head slightly, taking care not to dislodge either of Stiles’ hands, and took several deep breaths.
Talia looked like she wanted to intervene, but evidently decided that between Stiles and the Argents, the Argents were the greater threat.
Derek’s hand shot up to grip Stiles’ forearm. They made eye contact when Derek raised his head, the intensity of which caused Stiles to stop breathing momentarily. He saw several conflicting emotions in Derek’s eyes; confusion, betrayal, hope, fear.
Stiles broke eye contact to see if the Argents were still there. He sighed in relief when he found that the four of them were alone in the aisle.
“It’s ok, Derek,” he said softly. “They’re gone.”
“I think perhaps the four of us should speak privately,” insisted Talia. She spoke at a normal volume, but her voice sounded like thunder.
Jackson ducked his head automatically and nodded. Stiles let go of Derek and moved to Jackson’s side, staunchly ignoring the tingling sensation in his fingertips where they had contacted Derek’s skin. Together they walked behind Talia like two school children being led to the principal’s office. Derek walked next to his mom, but kept shooting Stiles obvious glances as they stepped out into the parking lot.
Their carts lay abandoned in the store.
“Follow us,” Talia commanded, not unkindly, but in a way that brokered no negotiation.
They were silent on the drive to the Hale house behind Talia’s SUV. They should have been using the time to get their stories straight, but a shared look between them before they got in the car told them that they both knew they’d have to come clean.
Stiles only hoped their word would be enough.
Chapter 7: In four days
Talia had clearly called ahead to the Hale house, because Peter, Laura, and Derek’s dad, Robert were all waiting out on the front porch.
Laura looked betrayed and Peter looked smug, while Robert’s face was a blank mask.
“Does Sharon have Cora, Brian, and Andrew?” Talia asked Robert.
He nodded and turned to walk inside after Derek and Laura. Peter followed them with a smirk.
Jackson frowned in confusion at Stiles, silently asking him who Sharon, Brian, and Andrew were.
“Derek’s aunt and two little brothers,” Stiles told him resignedly. He looked sheepishly at Talia, who wore a look of surprise.
He shook his head grimly and went inside to accept his fate.
Robert, Peter, and Derek sat on the couch in the vast living room to the left of the entryway. Laura was perched on the arm of the couch by Derek.
Talia stood next to where Robert was seated and gestured for the boys to sit across from them on the loveseat. They obliged and waited for someone to begin speaking.
“Would you care to tell us who you are and why you are in our territory?” Talia asked formally.
Stiles cleared his throat and stole a glance at Jackson. “Well, my name really is Stiles, and this is Ja – Jackson. Believe it or not, we’re here to help you.”
“Help us how?” Robert’s voice was strong and confident, though Stiles could detect a hint of incredulity.
“Something terrible is going to happen in – what day is it?”
Startled by the change in subject, it took Talia a few second to respond. “It’s the 11th.”
Stiles blew out a big breath. “In four days, then.”
Robert sat up straighter. “What are you planning?”
“Not us,” Stiles assured him, shaking his head emphatically. “I promise we mean you no harm, you can listen to my heartbeat.”
“How do you know about werewolves?” Derek demanded, speaking for the first time since they left the grocery store.
Stiles scratched the back of his neck nervously. “That’s kind of a complicated question.” He exchanged another glance with Jackson. “Well, my best friend was bitten by a rogue Alpha a couple years ago. The Alpha didn’t really stick around so we had to deal with his transition all alone. After that, there were… circumstances that led to a few others being turned, including Jackson.”
Talia frowned when Stiles paused. “Your heartbeat was steady, but you are choosing your words too carefully. What are you not telling us?”
“A lot of things,” Stiles replied with a breathy chuckle.
“Stiles,” Jackson said gently. “We should just tell them.”
They locked eyes and had a silent conversation. The fact that he understood everything Jackson was trying to convey to him was deeply disturbing, but also felt kind of nice. Jackson’s eyebrows won in the end, so Stiles steeled himself to drop the bomb on the Hales.
“We’re from the future.”
Laura barked out a laugh, which was promptly silenced by a look from Talia. Stiles spared Laura a smile and pushed through with his explanation.
“We’re from about seven years from now. We were approached by a man who told us that in order to save Beacon Hills, we needed to come back to this time period and prevent something from happening.”
“Why you guys?
Peter, Laura, and Derek all talked over each other, prompting Talia to hold up her hand to quiet them.
She locked eyes with Stiles, as if the answer to whether or not he was lying could be found in his gaze. “What is it that you were sent back here to prevent?”
Stiles looked down at his feet and licked his lips. He tried to avoid Derek’s eyes when he looked back up, but failed. “There was a fire.” He tore his eyes from Derek’s face and looked at Talia instead. “At the house – this house.”
“A fire,” Talia repeated weakly. “And?”
“And it took the lives of eleven members of your pack,” Stiles whispered. “Well, ten, I guess. Cora somehow made it out.”
Robert’s gaze sharpened. “How do you know Cora?”
Stiles cleared his throat again. “I – we know Derek in the future. He’s our friend, and –” he cut himself off, unable to finish his sentence.
“He was my Alpha,” Jackson admitted, sparing Derek a small smile.
“Was?” clarified Laura with a frown.
“Alpha?” Derek repeated. He grabbed Laura’s hand in a tight squeeze. “No, Laura is the Alpha next. Does… does that mean she –”
“No,” Stiles interrupted immediately. “She doesn’t die in the fire, Derek.”
“But I do?” Talia asked.
It took all of Stiles’ willpower not to duck his head when he nodded. “Yes, you do.”
“And we’re just supposed to believe all of this?” Robert demanded sharply, rising from his seat. “That you’re from the future, and you know all of our fates?” His eyes glowed gold as they bore into Stiles’.
Stiles nodded, not breaking eye contact. “I know it’s a lot to ask, but it’s the truth. I can try and prove it.”
The Hales were silent as they considered Stiles. After a minute passed with no sound, Peter finally asked how.
“Derek, ask me anything about you.” Stiles turned his body so he was facing Derek fully.
He and real-time Derek had grown closer after the Nogitsune’s reign of terror. They’d bonded over their traumas, and they’d both shared more about themselves to each other than they ever had anyone else. Stiles only hoped it was enough.
Derek frowned at him. “What do you mean? Like my favorite color?”
Derek’s eyes lit up at the prospect of the challenge Stiles was issuing. His competitive streak led him to lean forward, forgetting for a second why they were all there. “Favorite snack?”
“Cupcakes, but you tell everyone it’s goldfish.”
“Sarah Randall. You kissed her at the top to the slide in kindergarten.”
“Favorite TV show?”
“Right now, it’s Fraiser. But in 2011 something comes out called Game of Thrones that we have marathoned several times.”
Stiles snickered at this one. “You told the pack it was the Camaro, but you told me a few weeks ago you always wanted a hatchback with a large backseat.” He threw in a shrewd wink for good measure.
When Derek didn’t follow up with another question, Stiles frowned. “What?” he looked around for something that might have caused Derek’s playful mood to change. “What’s wrong?”
“You said ‘pack,’ does that mean we’re pack?” Derek asked, gripping Laura’s hand again. “Are we all pack?”
Stiles’ shoulder slumped as the seriousness of their situation settled back in. “You, Jackson, and I are, along with some others.”
“I’m still not buying this,” declared Robert. “Time travel does not exist.”
Jackson snorts. “With all due respect, Mr. Hale, we’re werewolves. You really think time travel can’t exist?”
Talia pinched the bridge of her nose and exhaled sharply. “Ok, say we believe you. How does our house catch fire exactly?”
Stiles bites his bottom lip nervously before responding. “Kate Argent burns it down after surrounding it with a line of mountain ash so no one can escape.”
Chapter 8: You die
Derek stood up abruptly and sprinted upstairs. A few seconds later, they heard the sound of his bedroom door slamming.
Stiles, desperate to follow Derek, stayed seated. He needed to convince the Hales that he was telling the truth.
“Look, I know this is all really hard to believe –”
“It’s not, actually,” Peter interrupted seamlessly. “Witches have been messing with time travel for centuries.”
Stiles threw up his hands and collapsed back onto the loveseat. “Now you tell us!”
Peter’s eyes sparkled with mischief. “Oh, dear, do we know each other in your present?”
Jackson huffed disdainfully. “You could say that.”
“You’ll be happy to know that you’re still super creepy seven years from now,” Stiles added with an eye roll for good measure. Laura hid a chuckle behind her hand that made Stiles’ heart break.
“Call Deaton if you don’t believe us,” suggested Jackson. “He helped us with the spell that sent us back here.”
Talia pursed her lips. “Alan is helping out a friend at the moment. He is unreachable.”
“A friend?” Stiles repeated, confused. Realization struck him and he sat forward suddenly. “You mean Deucalion? I don’t know how this whole time travel thing works, but you have to watch out for him, Alpha Hale. Please trust me on that. If we’re able to get you past the fire, and you stick around in your timeline, you need to keep an eye on his movements.”
Talia frowned at the change in his demeanor. Stirred by his vehemence, she nodded carefully. “Ok,” she agreed.
Robert was still not convinced. “I don’t know why we are entertaining this – this child. He has given us no concrete proof that what he is saying is true. He clearly knows too much about this pack. He’s a threat to us, Talia.” He leaned towards Talia, imploring her to agree with him.
Talia looked back and forth between Stiles and her husband. “Robert, you heard his heart. You know he’s not lying.”
Robert fisted his hands into his hair and began to pace.
“Mr. Hale,” Stiles said quietly after a minute had gone by in silence. “You weren’t born a wolf.”
The man stopped pacing and fixed Stiles with a surprised look. “How do you know that?”
“Your son told me,” replied Stiles, still speaking softly. Laura and Peter didn’t know whether to look at Stiles or Robert. Their heads whipped back and forth rapidly.
“Derek told me you were born human. That you didn’t even know about werewolves until after you started dating his mom.”
Robert squinted suspiciously. “That’s right.”
The corners of Talia’s mouth ticked upwards. Contrary to Laura and Peter, her eyes never left Stiles’ face.
Stiles took a deep breath. “You chose to take the bite after the two of you got engaged. You chose to become part of her pack, didn’t you?”
Robert just nodded, not sure where Stiles was going with the question.
“Even after your family disowned you because they couldn’t handle the supernatural.”
At that, Robert growled under his breath and took a step forward. It wasn’t an aggressive step, but it was enough for Jackson to stand up and put himself in front of Stiles.
“Enough.” Talia’s voice rang out with authority. Both Robert and Jackson bowed their heads and abandoned their posturing. “Stiles, what are you getting at?”
Stiles pulled at Jackson’s arm until the wolf sat back down. “I’m just trying to say… you chose this pack. You chose to be a part of this family, even forsaking your old one. Are you really going to risk their lives because I might not be telling the truth?”
Robert was silent at that. He sat back down on the arm of the couch by Talia.
“You die,” Stiles whispered.
Robert’s eyes closed. He bowed his head and grabbed Talia’s hand.
“Talia dies,” Stiles continued. “Your sons Brian and Andrew. Talia’s sister Sharon, your mother- and father-in-law. Talia’s other sister Maria and her two children. They all die. And they don’t have to.”
The man shook his head softly, his eyes still closed.
Stiles chanced a look at Laura and saw her wipe her eyes. She placed her hand gently on Peter’s shoulder and waited with baited breath to see what her father would do.
Talia looked at Robert expectantly, seemingly already knowing what he would say next.
Robert exhaled sharply and met Stiles’ eyes. “Ok, say I believe you. What do we do now?”
Relieved beyond belief, Stiles and Jackson spent the next twenty minutes answering questions and coming up with plans. They were careful not to go into too much detail about the future – Laura’s death by Peter’s hands in particular.
After a while, Stiles found an opening to excuse himself and made his way up the stairs to Derek’s room. He knocked three times and waited for an answer that he knew wouldn’t come.
He opened the door to find Derek lying on his bed staring up at the ceiling.
“I’m guessing an, ‘I’m sorry,’ wouldn’t really suffice here?” he joked half-heartedly.
“You’d guess right,” Derek responded, not looking at Stiles standing in the doorway.
Stiles ignored the snark, as he usually did with Derek, and walked further into the room. He closed the door behind him and sat on a plush chair in the corner, just in Derek’s eye line if the wolf were to turn his head away from the ceiling.
“Go away, Stiles.”
“You’re wrong about Kate.”
“She would never hurt me.”
“Dammit, Derek,” Stiles exclaimed, standing up and approaching the boy on the bed. “Think about it. She’s an Argent, which doesn’t automatically mean she’s evil, but just – think about it. She doesn’t want to be seen with you in public, she doesn’t want you to tell your family about her, she got a job at your school and seduced you even though you’re only fifteen. Do I need to go on? I mean, what part of you thought this was a real relationship?”
Derek sat up and swung his legs off the bed. “You don’t understand. She loves me,” he insisted, with less conviction than he had when they spoke in the Preserve.
Stiles shook his head gently. “She doesn’t. She’s using you to get to your family.”
Derek looked down at his feet and didn’t respond. Stiles took a few cautious steps forward and sat down on the bed next to him.
“Are you really from the future?” Derek’s voice was at a whisper, but Stiles could hear him perfectly. He just nodded in response, knowing Derek was looking at him out of the corner of his eye.
“Does she really kill my parents?”
Stiles couldn’t help but wrap his arm around Derek’s shoulder. The gesture alone was enough for Derek to curl into Stiles. He let out a shudder and Stiles knew right away that he was crying.
He wasn’t sure how long he held Derek, but they were both startled when the door opened again.
Laura walked forward swiftly and jumped onto the bed behind them. Derek and Stiles turned towards each other so they could see Laura better. Derek wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and let out a chuckle when Laura enveloped him in a tight hug.
She leaned back on her heels after letting go of Derek, and fixed Stiles with a serious look.
“You’re telling us the truth, right,” she demanded.
“Yes.” Stiles kept his voice even, knowing they were both listening to his heart for a lie.
Laura and Derek sat silently for several minutes, holding hands and hardly breathing.
“Stiles, how do I die?” Laura asked him softly, squeezing Derek’s hand before letting it go.
Stiles frowned, his mind racing to find a way out of answering the question. “How do you know you die?”
Laura laughed sardonically. “Everything you said downstairs just now, it was all about Derek and Peter. There was a little about Cora, but you tried really hard not to mention me.”
“I –” Stiles stopped himself. “I really don’t want to tell you that, Laura. I just don’t think it’ll help.”
Laura looked like she wanted to argue, but fell silent.
The siblings locked eyes and seemed to agree in the same instant to brush off their sadness for now and move forward. “Ok,” declared Laura, sitting up straighter on the bed. “We’ll just have to figure out a way to prevent this fire from happening, and maybe that’ll change my fate?” She addressed Stiles with the last bit.
He nodded hopefully. “It might.”
“And you,” she pointed at Derek with a ferocity that made the boy recoil. “Mom has some questions for you, mister.”
Derek’s eyes went wide, but he nodded solemnly. “I know,” he said quietly.
“Ok, great. Let’s join the others downstairs. But first, Stiles,” Laura said with a twinkle in her eye. “I need you to tell me how long you and my brother have been dating in your timeline.”
Chapter 9: Help us
“I – I – what?” Stiles spluttered. “We’re not,” he shook his head, steadfastly not meeting Derek’s eyes. “We’re not dating.”
Laura’s face quirked up into a mischievous smile. “But you want to be?”
“Laura,” Derek whined. “Leave him alone.”
Laura pounced on Derek, ruffling his hair and muttering about defending his boyfriend, when they were interrupted by another Hale entering the room.
“I hate to break up whatever is going on in here, but your mother needs you downstairs,” Peter said with a sneer. His eyes lingered on Stiles for a second too long before he turned around and left the way he came.
“Still so creepy,” Stiles muttered, following him out. He was grateful for the distraction, but his mind was still racing with thoughts of him and Derek.
The three of them re-entered the living room. Derek and Laura sat back down on the couch while Stiles joined Jackson with an apologetic frown. He hadn’t meant to leave Jackson alone with Talia, Robert, and Peter for so long.
Jackson just scoffed and nudged Stiles’ shoulder with his own.
“So,” said Talia, effectively restarting the meeting. “Derek, sweetheart, I need to know more about Kate. I know you may not want to talk about it, but it will help us. If you’d rather speak to me privately, we can do that.” Her voice was soft, but her stare was sharp.
Derek hunched his shoulders and looked down. “Alone, please.”
Talia nodded and took Derek’s hand gently before leading him into the hallway towards an office.
“Ok,” Stiles said, clapping his hands once and rubbing them together. “Mr. Hale, you might want to call the rest of the family and tell them not to come for this full moon. It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to have Aunt Sharon take the kids somewhere safe, too.”
Robert still looked wary, but nodded and left to make his calls.
“Laura, Jackson, you guys should go get the blueprints from the vault and figure out the best way to fortify the house.”
“How do you know about the vault?” Laura asked with a frown.
Stiles shot her a grin and a wink, but didn’t answer. Laura shook her head at him and made sure to muss his hair as she and Jackson left the house.
“And what about the two of us?” Peter drawled, his eyes alight with amusement.
“We need to go talk to an old friend.” He whipped out the phone Jackson had bought him. “I just hope he has the same number.”
Peter looked on curiously while Stiles dialed. It took a few rings before a gruff voice answered.
“Hello? Who is this?” Peter’s back went rigid when he recognized the voice.
“Who I am is not important. It’s what I know that will interest you.”
There was silence on the line while the man considered Stiles’ response. “What you know about what?”
Stiles knew that tone and smirked victoriously. “About the Hales and what your family is planning to do with them.” Before the man on the other line could respond, Stiles finished quickly. “Meet me at the high school, out back by the lacrosse field. One hour.” He hung up abruptly.
Peter snarled when Stiles hung up. “And why are we meeting with Chris Argent?”
“Well,” hedged Stiles, steadfastly not meeting Peter’s gaze while he put his phone away. “He’s somewhat of an ally in my timeline.”
Peter hummed while he digested that information. “An ally?” he mumbled to himself. Stiles detected a shred of hope in his voice. “But why am I coming with you?”
Stiles swallowed reflexively. “I, um. I thought you might be useful in persuading him to help us?”
The corner of Peter’s mouth ticked upwards, but he didn’t respond. He gestured for Stiles to start walking towards the garage, and followed the boy at a somewhat uncomfortably close proximity.
They were silent in the Camaro on the way to the meet. They were going to be early, but Stiles knew Chris would already be waiting.
“Stay in the car,” Stiles ordered Peter when they pulled into the parking lot.
Peter scoffed, affronted. “Absolutely not.”
“Dammit, Peter, will you just listen to me for once in your life?”
His outburst caused Peter to bark out a laugh in shock. “That might be the first time anyone has ever yelled at me,” he said once he had recovered.
Stiles rolled his eyes, but his expression softened when he saw Peter look longingly towards the lacrosse field. “You can hear us from here, but please just don’t come out until I call for you. Please?”
Peter pouted, but nodded. He leaned back into the seat and closed his eyes to focus his hearing.
Stiles shook some of the tension out of his shoulders and walked towards the lacrosse field. He could see Chris pacing back and forth by the bleachers. As Stiles grew closer, he saw Chris place his hand on his sidearm.
“Thank you for coming,” Stiles said once they were only a few feet apart.
Chris squinted, trying to place Stiles in his memory. “You were at the coffee shop. Who are you?”
Stiles scratched the back of his neck nervously. “Uh, you can call me Stiles. I have a proposition for you.”
Chris stood up straighter and nodded at the boy to go on.
“I want you to help me save the Hale pack from your sister.”
It took about fifteen minutes for Stiles to catch Chris up on everything. He told him all about the time travel and the fire, leaving out any mention of his and Peter’s suspected relationship. He told Chris about Allison (not that she had died, but that they had been friends), and about their tentative alliance over the years. By the time Stiles was done, Chris was sitting on the bleachers looking worn.
“You’re not joking, are you?” Chris asked weakly. He rubbed his hand over his beard, scratching it slightly.
Stiles shook his head. “I’m not really sure how to prove it to you. I mean I can name and locate every weapon on your person right now if you want?”
Despite himself, Chris chuckled.
“You can look up the Wizard’s Council and see the research they’ve done on time travel, but I don’t think we have that kind of time. And they’re not in your bestiary.”
Chris’ gaze sharpened as he rounded on Stiles. “What do you know about my family’s bestiary?”
Not deterred in the slightest anymore by Chris’ glares, Stiles just smiled and waved his hand. “Oh, please, I spent the better part of the last year updating it for you. It’s shocking how much Gerard got wrong. Though, I guess only looking at all the supernatural creatures like they were horrible demon spawns didn’t help with the impartiality you need for effective intelligence gathering.”
After picking his jaw up off the floor, Chris schooled his face back to neutral. “Ok, say I believe you. Kate would never murder innocent people. She just wouldn’t,” he said, shaking his head fiercely.
Stiles took a deep breath and turned his body on the bleachers so he was facing Chris more fully. “I think we both know that she would. And besides, she doesn’t see the Hales as innocent. Neither she nor your dad follow the Code. You have to know that.”
Stiles saw a crack in Chris’ façade and jumped on it. “Just like you have to know that Peter Hale is still in love with you.”
Chris’ eyes shot up to meet Stiles’. “What did you just say?”
Before Stiles could respond, there was a mighty roar from the parking lot. Chris stood up, his hand flying to his gun.
But Stiles was quicker. He grabbed Chris’ sidearm and the knife hidden in the man’s sleeve. Chris barely got over the shock by the time Peter rounded the bend towards the bleachers, looking furious.
Stiles discarded the weapons and held his hands out in front of himself pleadingly. “Peter just hear me out.”
“But you left me.”
The voice was so small, it took Stiles a few seconds to realize it had come from Chris.
It was enough to stop Peter in his tracks. “What?” He sounded like he had been gutted. His face, which had taken on its beta form, lost its transformation.
“You left me,” Chris repeated, anger coloring his words now. He rounded on Stiles with fire in his eyes. “Look, I don’t know who you are or if you’re telling the truth about any of this, but you don’t know me. And you know nothing about my relationship with Peter, so stay out of it.”
He picked up his weapons and placed them angrily back in their holsters. As he turned to walk away, Peter spoke.
“I didn’t leave you, Chris.” Peter looked as broken as Stiles had even seen him. His usually cocky posture was hunched, and there was no sign of smugness on his face. Instead, he looked like a heartbroken young man.
“Of course you did,” Chris dismissed easily, not breaking his stride.
Peter ran to catch up with him and turned him around abruptly. “You left me,” he corrected. “I got your letter – you wanted nothing to do with me. You wanted to marry Victoria and have kids and a white picket fence.”
Now it was Chris’ turn to be confused. “Peter, I never wrote you a letter. I left you a message to meet me and you never came. I called you dozens of times and you never answered or called me back.”
Stiles held his hands up and backed away slowly. “Well, I can see you’ve got some stuff to work through so I’m just gonna be,” he hooked his thumb over his shoulder towards the parking lot, “over there.”
Neither of them seemed to hear him, so he continued to make his way back to the Camaro.
He heard raised voices several times over the next twenty minutes, but no gunshots so he figured everyone was at least physically ok.
There was a brief stint of silence, which got Stiles a little worried. He sighed as he hoisted himself off of the hood and started walking back towards the bleachers.
Only to find Chris and Peter making out very aggressively on the lacrosse field.
“Jesus,” Stiles muttered under his breath. “Is now really the time for this?” he called at a louder volume.
The two separated as if they’d been shocked. Chris smoothed down his shirt and cleared his throat, while Peter took only a second to regain his practiced composure.
Stiles rolled his eyes at the two and stopped a few feet away from them. “Ok, Chris. Will you help us?”
Chris eyed Stiles warily, but his expression softened when he snuck a glance at Peter. “What exactly do you need me to do?”
Chapter 10: Not a wizard
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Stiles insisted, backing away from Talia in the kitchen. “I’m not a wizard.”
It was a true testament to Talia’s patience that she didn’t roll her eyes at Stiles’ theatrics.
“No, but you told us that you and your friend Lydia were successful in putting up wards in the Preserve,” she encouraged him gently. “So it stands to reason that you have some magical proclivities.”
Stiles frowned as he considered her point. “Deaton did say I had something of a spark. I was able to manipulate mountain ash, and the wards did work.” He nodded firmly, gaining confidence as he muttered to himself. “I’ll try warding the house, but I don’t want that to be our main line of defense. There’s a chance it won’t work, and we need to be prepared for that.”
“Of course. Thank you, Stiles,” Talia replied, pleased.
She turned her back on Stiles and proceeded to make them both some tea. Stiles mumbled to himself under his breath, considering the types of wards he could place on the house and grounds.
He was startled a few minutes later when a pair of hands gently placed a pad and pen in front of him. He looked up to find Derek grinning at him.
Stiles blushed. “Was I thinking out loud?”
Derek nodded and stole a sip of Stiles’ long-forgotten tea. “Yeah, but it was kind of cute so you’re forgiven.”
The blush disappeared down Stiles’ collar at that, causing him to have to fan at his face in an attempt to cool himself down.
Derek clearly delighted in seeing Stiles react that way, and had just opened his mouth to say something Stiles was sure was totally inappropriate, when they were unceremoniously interrupted by Laura entering the kitchen.
“Jackson’s insufferable,” she pouted, leaping up onto the counter and letting her legs dangle.
Stiles, who hadn’t realized he’d slowly been leaning towards Derek, leaned back into his chair at the island and laughed. “Tell me about it. At least you didn’t have to deal with him when he was a lizard.”
Derek and Laura shot him identical looks of horror while Jackson’s faraway noise of protest broke the silence that had followed Stiles’ declaration.
“I got better,” Jackson countered, waltzing into the kitchen a few seconds later. He shot Laura a wink and sat down next to Stiles.
“Aren’t you guys supposed to be coming up with a plan to fortify the house from an attack?” Derek asked dryly, cutting into the sneering contest Jackson and Laura had started with one another.
Laura just rolled her eyes at him and jumped down. “Fine, we’ll leave the two of you alone.” She turned her attention to Jackson with a wicked grin. “Here, boy,” she crooned at him, snapping her fingers like she was summoning a puppy.
Jackson opened his mouth indignantly and chased the now-laughing Laura out of the kitchen.
“I don’t know whether to be happy or terrified that the two of them are bonding,” Stiles mused aloud when he and Derek were alone.
They looked at each other pensively. “Terrified,” they agreed at the same time.
They spent the next half hour or so talking through different wards Stiles could put up around the house. Derek was surprisingly well-versed in the lore, and it took only a few minutes for them to get completely lost in their planning.
Derek’s mind wandered at one point while Stiles was busy writing down their latest ward idea. He looked up from the note pad to find that Derek’s eyes had gone glassy.
Stiles cocked his head and reached out on instinct, placing his hand on Derek’s shoulder to bring him back to the present. “Hey,” he said soothingly. “Where’d you go?”
Derek shook his head minutely and looked away.
“You were thinking about Kate, weren’t you?” Stiles guessed.
Derek let out a sharp breath and walked to the other side of the kitchen island. He ran his hands through his hair agitatedly before leaning forward with his forearms on the countertop. “I just can’t believe how stupid I was… thinking she could really be into me.”
“No,” said Stiles fiercely, hopping down from his chair and rounding the island. “You can’t go down that rabbit hole. This was Kate’s fault, not yours. She manipulated you, end of story.”
There was a slight quirk in Derek’s mouth, but Stiles knew it would take a lot more convincing.
“Are –” Derek stopped himself and turned away, embarrassed.
“Are what?” Stiles encouraged him gently, ducking his head to try and meet Derek’s eyes.
Derek looked up and rolled his eyes at his own theatrics. “In your timeline… are we friends?”
Stiles nodded easily with a smile. “Yeah, we are. We weren’t at first, but I wormed my way in, and I think you – my you – are secretly grateful I did.”
“Are we anything more than that?”
Stiles bit his bottom lip, buying time before he had to respond. “No,” he said finally. “I’m attracted to you, but you don’t feel that way about me.”
Derek frowned indignantly. “I’m an idiot.”
A surprised laugh came out of Stiles’ mouth before he could stop it. “Well, yes, you are. But not about that. I’m really just glad we’re friends, especially after everything we’ve been though.”
Derek looked like he wanted to ask more, but he cut himself off and closed his mouth.
“You look confused,” Stiles prompted gently. “What’s on your mind?”
The boy blew out a big breath and stepped towards Stiles, putting them only a foot away from one another. “I am confused. I’m confused about Kate, and this whole time travel thing. And I’m confused about you. I just –”
“You’ve got Kate’s voice in your head telling you she loves you, and you’re still reeling from Paige’s death?” Stiles guessed with a sad grin.
Derek’s head shot up and his eyes flashed blue briefly. “How do you know about Paige?”
Stiles just gave him a knowing look.
“I told you,” Derek said, defeated.
Stiles nodded and rubbed his hand up and down Derek’s arm reassuringly. “Yeah, you did. And I know you’re confused. So why don’t we take this one step at a time? Step one: warding your house.”
Derek smiled and nodded his head. He stepped around Stiles and resumed his seat, but made sure to brush past Stiles when he did.
Stiles looked towards the ceiling for strength and joined the wolf at the table.
Chapter 11: I can't
Talia insisted that Stiles and Jackson stay at the Hale house for the remainder of their time there. After a somewhat somber dinner, Stiles sat down with Talia, Robert, and Peter to come up with a more succinct plan.
“Jackson and Laura are going to start with the bulletproofing in the morning. The windows and doors will probably take them all day. I’ll put up the wards tomorrow as well. Derek’s been helping me, but some of them will take three people,” Stiles began, speaking before they’ve even sat down.
Talia nodded once. “Robert can help. He has some experience with rune magic.”
Stiles frowned at the new information, but sent a smile towards the man in question. “Great. I’ve got a few things to pick up from Deaton’s in the morning, but I figured we’d start around noon.”
Robert just nodded his assent and turned his attention back to Talia.
“About the Argents,” she said stiffly, locking eyes with Peter. “I won’t deny that having someone inside their operation to assist us would be helpful. But before I can put any stock in Chris’ intel, I need to know.” Her eyes bore into Peter’s, who stared back unflinchingly. “Do you trust him?”
“Yes,” Peter replied immediately.
Talia arched her eyebrow while Robert shook his head.
Peter reached over the table and grabbed his sister’s hand. “I loved him once, Talia. I know him.”
Talia cleared her throat and squeezed Peter’s hand. Unable to give voice to her thoughts, she simply nodded.
The next morning, Robert drove Stiles and Derek to Deaton’s to pick up the items Stiles decided he would need for the wards. Derek ran his fingers over the spines of some of Deaton’s books in the back office, smiling to himself when he found one of the titles amusing.
Stiles noticed Robert hanging back, leaning against the doorframe. He was watching Derek with a soft, surprised look on his face, as if he was unaccustomed to seeing Derek smile. Which, Stiles realized with a pang, he probably was since Paige’s death. He shook his head and busied himself with finding the right herbs.
Stiles cleared this throat a little while later, drawing the attention of both wolves. “I’ve got everything I need.”
Derek sent Stiles a smirk and brushed past him on the way out the door, while Robert simply nodded and followed the two to the car.
“Talia says you’re familiar with rune magic?” Stiles asked Robert as they drove back towards the house.
“I was,” Robert responded tersely, closing the subject to further discussion.
Stiles slumped a little in his seat at the obvious dismissal, but smiled to himself when he saw Derek’s hand reach back from the front seat, searching for Stiles’.
He knew he shouldn’t, that he was tempting fate or messing with the natural order or taking advantage of the situation, but he found himself drawn towards the comfort being offered, and the one doing the offering. He grasped Derek’s hand tightly and held on for the duration of the drive.
If Robert saw, he didn’t let on.
“So, what kind of wards are we putting up?” Derek asked as they got out of the car on the far edge of the Hale property.
Stiles stumbled getting out of the car, but righted himself as gracefully as he could before answering. “Out here, I’m hoping to put up some general wards. It’s the ones closer to the house that will be the trickiest. These are just your basic perimeter wards – warnings and such so we have a head start if one of the hunters passes the property line.”
Robert, who had grabbed Stiles’ backpack from the car when he saw Stiles stumble, looked begrudgingly interested in what Stiles was saying. He started unpacking some of the herbs he knew were useful in perimeter wards, setting them down on the hood of the car.
“Thanks,” Stiles mumbled, grabbing the ones he needed for the first ward.
As Stiles had expected, these wards weren’t hard to put up. He didn’t end up needing any assistance, and was finished in just under an hour.
When they reached the Hale house driveway, however, Stiles paused before beginning the wards.
“Uh,” he said indecisively. The first ward he was attempting was arguably the largest – a fire resistance ward that would span the length of the driveway, through the house, and into the backyard. He needed to draw power from one of the wolves, but wasn’t sure exactly who to ask for the help.
“What is it?” Derek asked. He approached Stiles cautiously, concern etched on his young face.
Stiles scratched the back of his neck nervously. “Well, I need some help with this one, and in my timeline Derek usually helps me.”
Derek nodded enthusiastically. “I’ll help.”
Stiles smiled at him. “No, I know you will. It’s just,” he turned his attention to Robert. “You have some magic in you, right? It would actually strengthen the ward if I was able to pull from another magic user.”
Robert straightened up, his posture screaming anger. “I told you, Stiles, I do not have magic in me anymore. Once I became a wolf, I forfeited that part of myself. I don’t appreciate you bringing it up a second time.”
Stiles frowned, barely registering Derek’s distress at his father’s sudden mood change. “Who told you that?”
“Told me what?” Robert snapped.
“That you forfeited your magic when you became a wolf?” Stiles took a determined step towards the man.
When his father didn’t respond, Derek asked lowly, “What are you getting at, Stiles?”
“Who told you that?” Stiles repeated, his eyes never leaving Robert’s.
Robert took a deep breath, his frown still prominent on his face. “Deaton did. But what does it matter who told me? You can’t be a wolf and use magic.”
Stiles let his breath out in a huff of rage. “Deaton. I’m gonna kill him. Listen to me,” he said, taking another step forward. “You still have magic in you. There are some spells you can’t perform now that you’re a wolf, that much is true. But wards, runes, protection spells… all of those things are still within your power to do. Trust me, I looked it all up when I started using my spark. There’s always a chance I’ll need the bite to save my life after some battle and I wanted to make sure I could still help the pack if I was a wolf.”
Many emotions flickered over Robert’s face. Ultimately, distrust won out and he shook his head. “I don’t believe you. I have no –.”
“Hold this,” Stiles interrupted, placing a small stone into the man’s hand.
Robert looked startled at the interruption, but his actions betrayed his confusion when his hand clamped desperately around the stone.
Stiles rummaged around in his bag until he found a small knife he’d taken from Deaton’s stash. He handed Robert the blade, along with a picture of a rune he and Derek had drawn the night before. “Carve this into the stone,” he instructed Robert gently.
Derek looked back and forth between his dad and Stiles. He was bouncing slightly on his feet, his face full of cautious excitement.
Robert stood unmoving for a minute before taking a deep breath and adjusting the knife in his grip. Stiles took a step back and watched the man carve the rune with ease. He smiled to himself, knowing without a doubt that it would work.
“Ok,” Robert said hoarsely. “What now?” He held out the finished rune stone towards Stiles, who just shook his head.
“Now you activate it.”
Robert closed his eyes and tilted his head back in exasperation. “I can’t.”
“You can,” Stiles countered. He knelt down and dug a small hole in the ground by the mailbox before stepping towards Derek to give Robert some room.
After a small sigh, Robert clasped both hands around the stone. He brought his hands to his mouth and started whispering an incantation. Stiles didn’t have to hear the words to know they were correct.
Once the rune was buried, there was silence among the three. Stiles could tell that Robert didn’t fully believe him, so he decided a practical demonstration was in order. Without warning, he picked up the knife Robert had discarded and threw it at Derek, who was standing a few yards away.
Before the knife had traveled halfway to Derek, Stiles was on his back. Robert let out a mighty roar and pinned him to the ground, his eyes flashing a blinding gold.
“Dad!” Derek cried out. Robert and Stiles looked up just in time to see the knife hit what appeared to be an invisible barrier around the boy, before falling uselessly to the ground. “Dad, I’m fine. Look!”
Stiles couldn’t help but smile, despite his current position. He turned his attention towards Robert and saw a flicker of trust in the man’s eyes.
Chapter 12: Something's wrong
Robert followed a laughing Derek into the house, casting one last look at Stiles as the boy finished cleaning up after the runes had all been cast.
Stiles smiled to himself, happily recounting the wards he’d helped Robert put up himself after the first one. If they all worked, the house should remain unharmed and the Hale pack should survive.
Once Jackson and Laura had completed the bulletproofing, they collapsed in a pile of limbs on the couch. Jackson halfheartedly grumbled at one of Laura’s feet digging into his ribs, but he let it go in favor of laying his head back on the arm of the couch with his eyes closed.
Stiles huffed a laugh at the two and followed Derek upstairs. Determined not to think about Kate, the fire, or the inevitable impending battle, the two played video games in Derek’s room until they were called down for dinner. Derek’s phone buzzed several times while they were playing, but after ignoring the fifth phone call from who Stiles had to believe was Kate, Derek simply turned it off.
Chris Argent was sitting at the table by the time the two made it back down the stairs. Derek stiffened behind Stiles, and followed him much closer than necessary as they made their way to their seats.
“Chris,” Stiles greeted, nodding at the man.
“Stiles,” he returned, nodding as well.
It was clear that Robert was not happy with a hunter in their house, but one look from Talia stopped whatever he was about to say on the subject.
“Chris, we’re so glad you could join us,” Talia said warmly with a smile that almost reached her eyes. Obviously she was trying to be genuine, but the snort Jackson had to cover made it clear Stiles wasn’t the only one who noticed her tone.
“Talia,” Chris responded. “Thank you for having me. Apart from wanting to be here, I do have some news.”
At this, the rest of the table straightened up. Laura, who had chosen voluntarily to sit next to Jackson, waved at him impatiently to continue.
Chris nodded rapidly at Laura, clearly not yet every bit the confident veteran hunter he would grow to be. “Right. My father told me they are planning an ‘event’ on the 16th. He hasn’t given me any details yet, but he asked me to keep an eye out for any strange werewolf activity in the Preserve. Said something about how one of their assets is no longer cooperating.”
Derek coughed, turning the attention to him. “I think that might be me,” he admitted sheepishly. "K – she’s tried to get in touch with me a lot since yesterday and I haven’t been answering.”
“As we had discussed,” Talia said soothingly, sparing a soft look for her son.
Derek let out a small breath and looked down at his plate. Stiles grabbed his hand under the table and squeezed. He’d been aiming for a quick, reassuring grip, but Derek’s hand tightened around his, so he left it there for the rest of the meal.
As they were wrapping up dinner, Stiles suddenly latched on to something Chris had said. “Wait, did you say the 16th?”
Chris nodded. “Yeah, the 16th. Why?”
Stiles frowned. “Because the fire happened on the 15th. Are you sure you got the date right?”
Chris nodded again.
“What could have happened to make them attack a day early?” Robert mused aloud.
The tentatively peaceful atmosphere that dinner had created suddenly vanished into tension and worry.
“Chris, you’ll try to get some more information?” Talia asked.
Chris agreed readily as Peter stood to walk him out to his car.
With no other news or preemptive protective measures to work on, the Hales, Jackson, and Stiles went to bed uneasily after clearing the table.
A little after midnight, Stiles’ door cracked open. He hadn’t been asleep, so he just called out quietly. “Whoever that is, just get in here.”
To his surprise, Jackson crept inside the room quietly, closing the door behind him. He walked over to the other side of the bed and pulled back the covers before climbing it.
“Shut up, Stilinski.”
“I didn’t say a word.”
By the time the 14th came around, everyone was on edge. Jackson and Laura’s bickering became more pointed, Derek began retreating in on himself, even ignoring Stiles’ attempt to pull him out of it, and Peter was spending more and more time away from the house for secret rendezvous with Chris.
Chris, who had not been able to glean anymore information from his father than they’d already had, made his appearances at the Hale house post-dinner scarce. The last thing they needed was for Gerard to catch wind that his son was spending time there.
“What time does it happen?” Robert’s voice shook Stiles out of his reverie in the library.
Closing the book he’d been reading, Stiles let out a big breath and rubbed at his eyes. “The fire department was called at 3:26am on the 15th. So we’ve got,” he checked his watch, “six hours and forty two minutes.”
“But they said the 16th,” Robert argued halfheartedly, collapsing wearily into the chair next to Stiles.
Stiles took a good look at the man. His eyes were unfocused and glassy, his hair a mess as if he’d spent the last few hours running his hands through it.
“You’re a good father, you know,” he said, apropos of nothing.
Robert huffed in disbelief, but looked pleased nonetheless. “What makes you say that?”
Stiles spared him a small smile before shaking his head. “I don’t know, I guess just the way Derek talks about you. My Derek,” he clarified. “It took him a while to be able to talk about you and Talia, but when he does, it’s clear how much he adored you, and how much he learned from you.”
The side of Robert’s mouth curled up for a moment. He looked longingly at the ceiling towards Derek’s bedroom, where the young wolf had been holed up all day.
“You should go talk to him,” Stiles encouraged him gently.
Robert nodded. “I think I will.”
Stiles thought that would be the end of their conversation, but before rounding the table, Robert paused and placed his hand on top of Stiles’ head.
“Thank you, Stiles.”
Jackson was sitting against the arm of the couch with Laura’s feet in his lap when Stiles went huffing into the living room several hours later. “What are you groaning about?”
“Well aside from the fact that you snore and I haven’t slept in like three days,” Stiles huffed again. “I feel like something’s wrong.”
Laura, whose eyes finally opened from where she had been napping on the couch, frowned deeply. “What do you mean?”
Stiles looked around, peering out the windows to the darkened backyard as if he could see trouble through the trees. “I just feel like something is happening.”
Laura swung her legs off of Jackson and sat up fully. “Is it the wards? Is someone coming?”
Talia, Robert, and Derek, as if summoned by Stiles’ distress, appeared in the living room to hear Stiles’ response.
“No,” he shook his head. “The wards are fine. It’s - ,” Stiles’ eyes went wide and he whipped out his phone.
He hit Peter’s name and placed the phone on the coffee table, placing it on speaker so everyone could hear.
Stiles had never been so happy to hear Peter’s voice. “Peter, where are you? What are you doing?”
“Well aren’t we nosey?” Peter purred into the phone.
“Ugh, just answer me.” Despite the seriousness of the situation, Stiles was able to roll his eyes.
“I’m with Chris,” Peter replied, confused at Stiles’ tone. “I’m driving him back to where he hid his car.”
“It is almost three in the morning, Peter, we need you home,” Talia insisted.
“I know,” Peter replied with a softness in his voice Stiles would never get used to. “I’ll be there – ”
Peter was cut off by a deafening screech of tires, followed by the sound of metal colliding with metal.
Jackson and Laura stood up from the couch, both wanting to do something but not sure what. Derek’s eyes widened and he seemed frozen in place.
Talia grabbed the phone and began screaming Peter’s name desperately, even after the call disconnected.
Robert and Stiles locked eyes and in that moment, Stiles felt the perimeter ward go off.
Chapter 13: Break them
Almost as one, the six of them turned towards the front door.
“The wards will work,” Robert said confidently, striding over towards Laura and enveloping her in a tight hug.
Laura whined into the embrace and squeezed even harder.
Jackson stepped forwards so he was shoulder to shoulder with Stiles. Their eyes never left the front of the house.
Talia perked up, as if she heard something distressing far away. “They have Peter.”
Derek ducked around his mother and flung the front door open, ignoring the cries behind him to stay back.
Stiles and Jackson followed Derek blindly. The sight they were met with caused Stiles to audibly gasp.
At the end of the driveway, Kate and Gerard had Peter on his knees in front of them, facing the house. He was covered in blood and looked to be barely conscious.
Derek growled loudly enough to be heard by Kate, who let out a derisive laugh. “What’s wrong, puppy? Don’t like to see one of your fellow mongrels hurt?” She kicked out at Peter’s back, causing him to collapse forward onto the ground.
Talia appeared from behind Derek and pushed the three of them behind her. “What do you want, Gerard?” she asked harshly. “We haven’t hurt anyone; we have abided by your code.”
“Have you?” he crooned back casually, as if talking about the weather and not the potential annihilation of a friendly pack. “We’ve had reports of several animal attacks in the area.”
Talia shook her head. “Those are false reports, Gerard, you know that. Don’t do this. Leave Peter and go.” Her eyes flashed red, and Stiles was momentarily stunned at how she had successfully kept the desperation out of her voice.
“I don’t think so,” Kate jeered. She reached behind a nearby tree and pulled a young woman back with her by her arm.
“Ms. Morrell?” Stiles wheezed.
Marin looked up, but did not recognize this Stiles. After a few seconds, Stiles realized how terrified she looked. Kate was holding her at an awkward angle, as if holding a gun to the base of her spine.
“Break them,” she commanded, pushing the gun further into Marin’s back.
Marin took a deep breath and began chanting.
“No, Ms. Morrell, please don’t!” Stiles shouted. He tried to step past Talia, but was held back by Robert’s hand on his shoulder.
Jackson and Laura exchanged a fearful look, while Derek couldn’t take his eyes off of Kate.
Stiles felt it when the wards were deactivated. On instinct he grabbed Robert and pulled him further inside the house. “Repeat after me,” he commanded.
Robert nodded without thinking and placed his hands on Stiles’ shoulder, mirroring the way Stiles had grabbed his. Together they began chanting, begging the house to retain its fire resistance.
With a victorious smirk, Kate threw Marin to the side and advanced on the house, taking care to step on Peter’s inert form as she did so. She paid no mind to Marin sprinting away as fast as she could.
Kate’s advance was halted momentarily by her brother’s hand on her ankle. She looked down with a sneer at the man and shook him off easily.
Chris looked no better than Peter, but he was minimally conscious. He dragged himself over to Peter and laid beside him on the ground.
“Pathetic,” Gerard spat, sparing the two of them only the smallest of glances before following his daughter.
Talia caught sight of the two Argent’s approaching and took a mental tally of how many other hunters’ heartbeats she could hear from the trees. There were at least seven that she could count. With Robert and Stiles out, they were certainly outnumbered.
“Do you smell that?” Laura asked quietly next to Jackson.
“Mountain ash,” Jackson confirmed.
They were trapped.
After taking stock of the situation, Talia roared. “Jackson, stay with Robert and Stiles. Derek, Laura,” she unleashed her fang and claws. “You’re with me.”
The two Hales followed suit; Laura’s eyes shining a blinding gold while Derek’s shone icy blue. They took off towards the Argents, dodging a storm of bullets as they approached.
Talia reached Kate before she could raise her weapon. They tumbled to the ground in a whir of screams and grunts.
Laura turned her attention to Gerard while Derek ran to the tree line to try and take down as many henchmen as he could.
Derek took down two men – incapacitating but not fatally wounding them – before a third got a lucky shot into his right shoulder. He could feel the wolfsbane enter his bloodstream, but the adrenaline held it at bay. He took down the man who shot him and rounded the driveway to get to the other four he could sense.
Talia took a shot to the left calf from a stray arrow that slowed her down enough for Kate to unsheathe one of her knives. She got in a slash at Talia’s abdomen that sent the Alpha staggering backwards.
Laura was holding her own with Gerard. He was slower than her, but more cunning. She got in a few good shots early that had her wolf howling with pride, but he found a weakness in her right side and exploited it to stab her in the thigh. She roared and rolled until she could stand upright to catch her breath and remove the knife.
Two of Argent’s men were hurling gasoline at the house, surrounding it completely with the pungent liquid. Derek surprised the one on the east side of the house and was able to debilitate him after a short scuffle.
Meanwhile, Jackson was torn between helping the Hales and making sure Stiles and Robert weren’t interrupted. His instinct was to obey Talia’s order, but it didn’t feel right to him not to help the fight when he could.
A shadow in the backyard pulled his attention away from Stiles and Robert, who were still chanting desperately. One of the Argent’s men was approaching the house at a sprint.
His attention was again torn when he heard a shrill scream from the front yard.
“You bitch!” Kate screamed at Laura. She abandoned her fight with Talia in favor of approaching the victorious beta, who had just succeeded in breaking Gerard’s neck.
Laura looked shell-shocked at what she had done, but could not find it in her to feel sorry when she took in the lifeless body of Gerard Argent at her feet.
Kate took a gun from one of her many holsters and pointed it at Laura with rage in her eyes.
“No!” Talia screamed, lunging at her. She caught Kate’s calf in her claws and ripped them down her leg brutally. It was enough of a distraction for Laura to join the fray, though Kate seemed to be fighting with renewed vigor.
Derek could hear three more men – one in the backyard and two in the front with torches, trying frantically to light them before they were seen. Judging those two to be more of a threat than the lone man in the backyard, Derek took off towards them.
One of the men abandoned his torch and drew a crossbow, sheathing and releasing an arrow into Derek’s stomach before he could reach them.
Talia and Laura heard Derek cry out. “Go,” Talia shouted to Laura. Laura ran towards Derek without hesitation, trusting Talia to finish off Kate herself.
Derek pulled the arrow out of his stomach with a sickening squelch. Laura grabbed him by the shoulder and used her momentum to get him running again.
They heard the sound of a door being broken open from the back of the house, causing Derek to stumble. “Stiles,” he whispered.
“I’m good, go help Jackson,” Laura shouted without breaking stride. Derek vaguely heard the sounds of one of the men screaming even before he reached the front door.
Jackson was on the floor in the living room, trying to pin down the intruder. Stiles and Robert were still chanting, but Derek could see Stiles glancing towards Jackson with concern.
“I’ve got him,” Derek reassured Stiles, joining the other wolf in his fight. Derek was able to get a good grip on one of the man’s arms and yanked until he heard a pop.
Kate and Talia took that moment to burst through the front window in a hail of flying glass and blood. Talia was slow to stand up, giving Kate time to look around at the scene before her. Suddenly understanding what was happening, she hastily grabbed another gun from her ankle holster and pointed it resolutely at Stiles.
“No!” Stiles heard someone yell, before a body threw itself in front of him. He heard the faint sound of a gunshot before realizing it was Jackson who was now bleeding from his chest on the floor.
“Jackson?” Stiles felt the shock take over, but continued chanting. He tasted something salty in his mouth and realized he was crying.
Derek, who had taken care of the other hunter, dropped to Stiles and Robert’s feet to check on Jackson while Talia tackled Kate to the ground.
“Is he dead?” Stiles asked Derek urgently through his chanting. “Derek, is he dead?”
“Uh,” Derek stammered, trying to stop the bleeding. “There’s too much blood. I think the bullet’s in his heart.”
Suddenly, Robert stopped chanting and dropped his hands.
“What are you doing?” Stiles asked weakly.
Robert frowned. “You have to take him back, Stiles.”
Stiles shook his head, but without resolve. He looked around at Kate and Talia fighting to the death, and could just barely see Laura trying to fight off two men at once as they hurled fire at her outside.
“I can’t. The mountain ash. If they set the house on fire, you’ll die.”
Derek ran outside again to help Laura, sending an unreadable look towards Kate, and another towards Stiles as he went.
“Stiles, if you don’t take him back now, he’ll die,” Robert said, pushing the boy to his knees in front of Jackson.
Talia and Kate were locked in a stalemate. Derek and Laura were in a similar predicament outside. Peter and Chris might both be dead already.
“Damn it,” Stiles swore, pushing up his sleeves and holding pressure to Jackson’s chest. He looked up at Robert one last time. The man nodded solemnly as Stiles began to chant.
Chapter 14: Do you trust me?
Stiles felt the world around him shift. He focused his energy on holding pressure to Jackson’s wound and squeezed his eyes shut.
When he opened them, he was in the clinic with a shocked Lydia, Deaton, and Kane.
“What the hell happened?” Lydia screamed. She bent down and replaced Stiles’ shaking hands with her own surprisingly steady ones, attempting to stop the blood rushing from Jackson’s chest.
Deaton and Kane rushed to help immediately. Together they hoisted Jackson up onto the exam table and got to work extracting the bullet and burning the wolfsbane out of Jackson’s system. Lydia stumbled back into Stiles’ chest.
He wrapped his arms around her shoulders from behind, anchoring them both.
“Wh – what happened?” she asked again, more calmly. Her eyes stayed glued to Jackson’s unmoving form.
Stiles cleared his throat. “He caught me when I fell, so he came with me. Kate shot him.”
“Kate?” Lydia replied with wide eyes, turning in Stiles’ arms at the news. “Does that mean it worked? Is she dead? Are the Hales ok?”
“I had to take us back early. I don’t know if –,” he ducked his head in shame. “I don’t know what happened.”
Lydia pulled him close, not caring that he was covered in Jackson’s blood. They stood like that for several minutes until they heard Deaton speak.
“He’s going to be ok.”
Stiles felt all the air whoosh out of his lungs. He and Lydia separated and rushed to the exam table to see with their own eyes that Jackson was still alive.
“Stiles, I need to know what happened,” Kane instructed gently while Deaton began cleaning up the room.
Before Stiles could respond, his vision blacked out suddenly and he stumbled. Someone caught him as he hit the ground, but before he could figure out who it was, he lost consciousness.
When he came to, he realized Lydia and Deaton had also fainted. He sat upright in the chair he had been deposited on and took stock of his physical state. He felt fine, but was mentally woozy.
“Stiles, what do you remember?” Kane asked him. It looked like only seconds had gone by. Kane was still in the process of depositing Deaton into a chair next to Lydia’s.
Stiles rubbed his hands over his face and leaned back, closing his eyes. He was suddenly met with visions of a life he knew he hadn’t lived, but he felt in his soul he had.
Making friends with Cora in middle school. He, Cora, and Scott becoming thick as thieves in the cafeteria.
Watching Derek from the stands during Varsity basketball games. Holding up a sign made of pink glitter with his name on it, Laura home from college wolf-whistling through half time.
Dinners at the Hale house. The people around him are blurry; he can only make out Derek and Laura’s faces at the table.
His eyes shot open and he bounded to his feet. “It worked!” he exclaimed, rousing Lydia and Deaton from their slumber.
Lydia rubbed her eyes sleepily. Stiles waited for her to remember her ‘life,’ but he didn’t have to wait long. “Oh my god,” she whispered under her breath, her eyes round as saucers. “Stiles, oh my god.”
“What do you remember?” Kane asked again.
Stiles and Lydia walked towards each other as if pulled by magnets. “The Hales – we know them,” Stiles started.
“But we don’t,” Lydia finished, breathless. “We don’t, but Laura helped me pick out what colleges I want to apply to.”
“And I remember Derek being crowned Prom King. Cora and I gave him so much shit.” Stiles broke off with a grin.
Kane sighed in relief. “Do you remember them all? Are they all alive? We need the Hale pack as whole as possible. The more of them there are, the more stability we will be able to bring to the Nemeton.”
Lydia and Stiles frowned and exchanged a worried glance. “It’s coming back in pieces, some of it is foggy. I only remember Derek, Cora, and Laura,” Stiles said as Lydia nodded along.
“Nothing about Alpha Hale? Or her brother?”
The two shook their heads.
“We have to go to the Hale house,” Stiles said urgently, knowing in his bones it would still be standing.
Lydia nodded frantically and rounded on Deaton. “Can he travel?” she asked, walking towards Jackson.
“I’m fine,” Jackson groused. Lydia perked up, but her reunion was interrupted by Stiles throwing himself into Jackson’s arms.
“Damn it, Jay,” Stiles swore, squeezing the wolf with all his might. “You scared the shit out of me. What were you thinking?” He pulled back with a smack to the side of Jackson’s head.
“Ow,” Jackson deadpanned. He looked around sheepishly, avoiding eye contact. “I don’t know, I just reacted. She was going to shoot you,” he mumbled.
Lydia looked between the two, fascinated. “I don’t even want to know. Come on,” she instructed, crooking her finger at the both of them. “We gotta go.”
Stiles went to help Jackson off the table but was held back by a snarl. He held up his hands innocently and was barely able to stifle a laugh.
“Meet us at the house a little later?” Lydia told Deaton and Kane. They both nodded and went about cleaning up the rest of the spell and blood.
Jackson had his epiphany in the car. He passed out for about half a minute in the back seat and awoke with a cry of, “Laura!”
“Yeah, yeah, buddy. We’re almost there,” Stiles said lazily.
Jackson shook his head in wonder. “But I remember her. Her and Cora and Derek. We – we grew up with them? But we didn’t.”
Before Stiles could answer, his phone rang. He looked at who was calling and picked it up right away, placing it on speaker on the dashboard. “Derek?”
“Stiles?” Derek croaked. “Stiles, what’s going on? Something feels wrong.”
Stiles looked around at Lydia and Jackson before answering. “Nothing’s wrong. Something happened, though. Can you meet me at your house?”
“At the loft?” he responded in confusion.
“No, your house. In the Preserve.”
“Stiles, why –”
“Derek, do you trust me?”
“Of course,” he replied instantly.
Stiles felt a rush of emotions at the response, but tamped it down momentarily. “Then meet me at the house. I can’t explain over the phone, there’s just something you need to see.” He hung up and sighed deeply.
The three wore matching frowns for the duration of the drive.
They pulled up to the magnificently still-standing Hale house. Before Stiles could put the jeep in park, the passenger doors were open. Jackson sprinted inside, followed closely by Lydia, then Stiles.
“Laura!” Jackson called once he was in the living room.
They looked around wildly for any signs of the Hale pack.
Stiles stopped short in the doorway of the library. On the ground unconscious were Talia and Robert Hale.
Chapter 15: More than ok
The air left Stiles’ lungs as he collapsed onto the floor by Talia’s head. He could still hear Jackson calling for Laura throughout the rest of the house. “Talia?” Stiles shook her shoulder gently.
Talia blinked awake. She sat up and looked around before her eyes came to rest on Stiles. “Stiles?” she asked lazily, rubbing her face. Her eyes grew wide as her memories came flying back. “Stiles!”
She pulled him into a fierce embrace, tears flying freely down both of their faces. “Oh, Stiles, you did it. You saved us.” She pulled back and cradled Stiles’ face in her hands. “You’re ok.”
Stiles sat back on his heels with a small laugh. “I’m ok? I left you fighting to the death with Kate Argent and you were worried about me?”
Talia just shook her head with a smile. “And Jackson – is he here? Is he ok?”
Just then, the boy in question came running into the library with a Laura-shaped barnacle on his back. The grin on his face was wide enough to elicit a similar one from both Stiles and Talia.
Lydia entered behind them at a slower pace, but she was smiling as well.
Robert woke up a few seconds later, allowing them all to have a small reunion before the sound of Derek’s car in the driveway distracted Talia. She started towards the door, but was held back by Stiles.
“He doesn’t know what’s happening,” he reminded her. “He may have gotten some of his ‘memories’ back, but as far as he knows, you’re still dead. Maybe I should talk to him first?”
“That’s probably a good idea,” Robert said, nodding at Talia.
Stiles ran towards the front door and opened it before Derek was out of his car.
“Stiles, what’s going on?” he asked in an awed voice, his eyes raking up and down the perfectly-intact Hale house reverently. “Why is my house here? It’s exactly the way I remember it. Why do I have these memories of my family that I know never happened? Did you do something?”
Derek was halfway up the porch, so Stiles stepped forward to block his entry into the house. “Yeah, sort of. Maybe you should sit down?” He gestured to the porch steps and took a seat next to Derek.
It took about ten minutes to catch Derek up on everything that had happened. Derek hadn’t said a word the entire time Stiles had been talking, but looked sharply towards the house several times as if he had heard something.
He took several deep breaths and closed his eyes. Without thought, Stiles reached out and grabbed Derek’s hand. Derek latched on and opened his eyes, looking straight into Stiles’. “Where are they?”
“Right here, darling,” Talia responded from the doorway.
Derek shot up and ran into his mother’s arms.
Robert appeared next to the two and was pulled into the embrace. Derek’s hand fisted in the back of his shirt as if he was never going to let go.
Stiles got up and brushed off his jeans. Behind Derek, Talia, and Robert, Stiles could see Laura crying softly with her arm around Jackson’s shoulders.
Derek sniffed when his parents let him go, but he barely had a chance to wipe at his eyes before Laura launched herself into his arms.
Kane and Deaton arrived about a minute later. Derek and Talia both began questioning them before they made it out of the car.
Kane answered most of the questions, telling the group patiently that everything had worked perfectly, and that their memories would be coming back slowly over the next 24 hours.
“Are they real?” Stiles asked.
“Yes and no,” Kane replied. “They aren’t real in the sense that you actually lived them, but they are real in the sense that they affect you the same way your real memories would.”
He paused before continuing almost sheepishly. “There is one more thing. The Council and I may have taken a few liberties when helping to create your new memories and tidy up loose ends.”
Kane began to elaborate a bit, but was cut off when Stiles collapsed.
Stiles opened his eyes less than a minute later and found that he was sitting on the porch steps with Derek, Talia, Robert, Laura, and Lydia all crowded around him.
“Are you ok?” Derek asked him with a frown.
Stiles couldn’t help but smile at the concern and patted the wolf’s chest reassuringly. “I’m fine, but I remembered a few more things.”
He stood up and ran up the stairs into the house with Derek hot on his heels. Stiles closed his eyes and accessed his new memories to visualize the room he was looking for.
He sprinted up to the second floor and flung one of the doors open. On the floor were two figures who were just waking up from what Stiles was now calling a ‘memory nap.’
“Erica!” he cried, throwing himself onto the floor and wrapping his arms around her.
“Boyd?” Derek croaked, reaching a hand out on auto-pilot to help the beta to his feet. Boyd smiled and hugged Derek, manfully ignoring the tears in both their eyes.
Erica let go of Stiles and jumped up into Derek’s arms. Boyd helped Stiles up and clapped his back. “Good to see you, man.”
The four head back downstairs with smiles on their faces. They all piled into the living room with the others to hear the story of what happened that night after Stiles and Jackson had to leave.
Talia was recounting how she killed Kate when Lydia and Jackson had a memory nap. They both came to and laughed to themselves about all the memories they had gotten back. Lydia curled herself under Jackson’s arm and turned her attention back to Talia.
After making sure Stiles and Jackson had safely gone back, Robert had joined Laura and Derek in fighting the two men trying to set the house on fire. They had been moderately successful, but part of the house had been singed in the process.
Just then, the wolves heard a car approaching.
“Oh!” said Derek with an unreadable look on his face.
“What?” Stiles asked impatiently, nudging Derek’s knee with his own. “Who is it?”
The door opened to reveal a very much alive Peter.
Stiles sighed in relief and met the man and the door. “Dammit, I never thought I’d be glad to see you.” He gave the man a cursory hug. “What do you remember?”
Peter eyed him with veiled fondness. “Almost everything. I was a little confused at first, but this one helped fill me in when he showed up at my place.” He pointed his thumb over his shoulder at Chris, who was walking up the porch steps.
“Chris,” Stiles exclaimed happily. “I’m glad you’re ok.”
“More than ok,” the man said, beaming. He looked back towards the car. Stiles saw the back door open, but couldn’t see who was getting out through the glare from the sun.
When he was able to make out the figure walking towards him, Stiles gasped.
Over the next few hours, the rest of the Hales made their way to the house. Derek and Cora, who had to everyone’s surprise arrived with Isaac, reunited happily with their little brothers, Brian and Andrew, along with their grandparents, two aunts, and two younger cousins.
The house felt more alive than it ever had. Derek’s cousins were playing tag out back with Brian and Andrew, Aunt Sharon was in the kitchen with Robert cooking a feast fit for kings, and the rest of the pack was squished into the living room basking in the feeling of everything falling into place.
Peter and Chris were sharing an armchair next to the fireplace, completely lost in their own world. Cora and Isaac were seated on a couch with Allison and Scott, who had come rushing to the Hale house after hearing of Allison’s return. The two couples were happy beyond words, content to just be near one another.
John and Melissa, who had both been summoned for dinner, were standing against the wall, smiling at all their children looking so happy.
Lydia, Laura, Erica, and Boyd occupied the couch across the room by the wall of glass windows looking out over the backyard. Jackson was seated on the floor between Lydia and Laura’s legs.
It didn’t escape Stiles’ notice that the rest of the pack had left the loveseat for him and Derek. Nor did he miss the blush that trailed down Derek’s neck when they sat down.
Stiles, throwing caution to the wind, simply huffed once and scooted over so they were flush against each other. Derek stiffened up initially, but ever so slowly relaxed and raised his arm to wrap it protectively around Stiles’ shoulder.
Isaac said something under his breath at that, causing Derek to growl half heartedly. Isaac raised his hands innocently, but the two shared a soft smile.
Talia returned from the library where she had been speaking with Kane and Deaton. She took one look at the pack happily engaged in conversation and grinned.
“Ok everyone,” she said at a normal volume. All talking ceased immediately. “The good news is, it seems as though this arrangement is permanent. Kane has walked me through everything. If you would like to know more about our situation, either he or I will be happy to share that information with you. For now, however, we celebrate.”
As if on cue, Derek, Cora, and Laura stood up to begin setting the table.
Dinner was a marvelous affair, full of laughter and way too much food. At one point towards the end, Stiles became overwhelmed by how happy he was, and had to close his eyes and take a few deep breaths.
A hand grasped his tightly under the table. Without opening his eyes, he turned his hand in Derek’s and interlocked their fingers. Derek pulled their hands onto his lap where they remained for the rest of the meal.
After enveloping Allison in a tight hug, Chris left with Peter for Peter’s apartment. John and Melissa left soon after, followed by the rest of the extended Hale family. Scott and Allison left with Melissa after convincing her to let Allison stay the night at the McCall house.
Robert went upstairs to tuck Brian and Andrew into bed while Boyd, Erica, Cora, and Isaac attended to the dishes. Deaton, Kane, and Talia disappeared back into the library to discuss a ritual they would need to perform on the flourishing Nemeton later that night.
Lydia, Jackson, and Laura went into the basement to pull out some games for the pack to play once the dishes were done, leaving Stiles and Derek alone at the table.
“Will you take a walk with me?” Derek asked Stiles softly.
“’Course.” Without letting go of Derek’s hand, Stiles led him out back to a well-worn path. There was enough light from the moon that he could see perfectly.
They walked hand-in-hand for about five minutes, until they were sure they were out of earshot from the house. Stiles had wanted to fill the silence so badly while they walked he was almost vibrating with energy, but he could tell Derek was working his way up to saying something.
Derek took a deep breath and grabbed Stiles’ other hand. “I’ve been trying to think of a way to say thank you that doesn’t seem insufficient.” He huffed a laugh and looked up to meet Stiles’ eyes. “You brought my family back to me. How do I thank someone for giving me my whole life back?”
Stiles just shook his head. “Derek, you don’t have to thank me for that. There is no one in the world who deserves to be happy more than you.”
Derek cocked his head to the side to listen to Stiles’ heartbeat. “You really believe that, don’t you,” he whispered.
Derek let go of Stiles’ hands and pulled him into a comforting embrace. Stiles reciprocated immediately, wrapping his arms around Derek’s waist. They closed their eyes and held each other contently for what could have been hours but was probably only a few minutes.
When Derek started to pull away, Stiles tightened his grip so he didn’t go far. Their noses touched and Stiles could see the hunger in Derek’s eyes.
Stiles’ heartbeat skyrocketed as he leaned forward and pressed his lips to Derek’s. Just a gentle pressure, but it sent sparks through Stiles’ whole body. His breath caught in his chest and he opened his mouth to take in air. Derek used the opportunity to deepen the kiss, grounding himself with one hand in Stiles’ hair and the other on the small of his back.
Stiles had expected his mind to race with thoughts, concerns, and insecurities, but it was quiet. Kissing Derek felt like the most right thing Stiles had ever done in his life.
They pulled back panting. Stiles’ eyes opened slowly and found Derek’s glowing. He reached up and ran his fingertips over Derek’s eyebrow and around to his cheekbone before letting his hand drop.
Derek was helpless to do anything but grin goofily. He let out an ecstatic bark of a laugh and pulled Stiles in for another joy-filled kiss.
Unaccustomed to seeing Derek so happy, Stiles vowed to himself to do everything he could for the rest of his like to keep that smile on Derek’s face.
Stiles chuckled and grabbed Derek’s hand, steering him back towards the house. “That is so not how I saw that going.”
“What do you mean?”
“I was picturing our first kiss more as a ‘me kissing you then running away in shame when you didn’t kiss me back’ kind of thing.”
Derek pulled Stiles to a stop and frowned. “Why wouldn’t I kiss you back?” he asked, as if that was the most ridiculous idea in the world.
Stiles shrugged. “I just never knew you felt that way about me.”
Derek rolled his eyes and started walking again, pulling Stiles by the hand until he joined him. “Stiles, I spent most of my time with you after the Nogitsune.”
“Yeah, but I thought that was just a pack thing – like providing for a weak pack member or something.”
“I let you pick the movie every night.”
“Because your taste in movies is awful, so I had no choice but to take over.”
“I let you stay at my loft whenever your dad was on the night shift.”
“I just thought you were taking pity on me!”
“Stiles, you slept in my bed.”
“You don’t have a spare room!”
Derek looked towards the sky for patience. After a moment of silence he decided to try a different route. “I’d like to get you back to that bed.”
Stiles, oblivious as always, pouted. “But I’m not tired.”
Derek leaned in so his mouth was barely touching the shell of Stiles’ ear. “I didn’t say we were going to sleep.”
Stiles stumbled on a branch perfectly illuminated by moonlight. He made a small sound of surprise and sped up.
Derek laughed and kept pace. “We still have to stay for game night, though.”
“One game,” Stiles declared.
They entered the house through the back door and found Lydia, Jackson, Erica, Boyd, Laura, Cora, and Isaac setting up a game on the cleared kitchen table.
“Monopoly,” Stiles groaned. “That’s gonna take forever.”
Derek smiled and kissed his temple, leading them to two empty seats next to each other.
“Oh, no,” Erica said. “You two sit together and we’ll never finish this game. You’ll be making eyes at each other all night.”
“Come here, Bambi,” Laura commanded, pulling out a chair between her and Jackson.
Boyd just laughed under his breath and nodded at the seat next to him for Derek.
The two tried half-heartedly to argue, but Lydia stopped them both with a look.
They settled for a short kiss before parting for opposite ends of the table. There were some wolf whistles (Laura, Erica, and Cora), and some fake gags (Isaac and Jackson), but Stiles and Derek were too happy to care.
In the end, the separation was moot – they made eyes at each other the whole game anyway.
The end!! Thank you all so much for sticking with me through this fic!! I cannot tell you how much all of your kudos, comments, and support have meant to me. <3
I hope you enjoyed reading this one as much as I enjoyed writing it. :)