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Stiles and Derek limped out of the remains of the empty warehouse that was rapidly burning to the ground, both men looking somewhat worse for wear, but alive. Sparing a glance over his shoulder, Stiles was happy to not hear the remaining screams of the pack that had come to Beacon Hills looking to stir up trouble. Probably not the most ethical way of dealing with this problem, but the intruders weren’t easily deterred.

They’d sent Deaton as their Emissary to ask them to move along, or find out what they wanted for peaceful coexistence. That hadn’t worked. They’d tried sending Liam and Mason as a gesture that they wanted to talk but weren’t going to strong arm them into it. That resulted in a broken arm for Liam and a dislocated shoulder for Mason. It was curious that the intruders didn’t resort to major violence against the more fragile humans. Deferring to their Alpha, they followed through with sending additional envoys, increasing in strength, until Scott himself went to the warehouse to hash out their terms. Scott had returned slashed like an ex’s tire after being caught cheating. He’d been less than taken with the thought of resorting to extreme violence, but the invading pack was starting to stir up trouble in town. Trouble that the Sheriff was having a hard time suppressing or outright hiding the effects of. So, Stiles and Derek took it into their own hands to give their Alpha a degree of plausible deniability.

It wasn’t supposed to escalate this far, but the Alpha of the invading pack had left them no alternatives. Derek busted out his claws. Stiles busted out his trusty baseball bat, and they both went into the fight swinging. Derek had faired quite well, taking out a few Betas that got too close and chasing off the Alpha who would likely succumb to his wounds. One didn’t often recover from having a portion of ones’ digestive tract torn out and survive. Alpha or not.

Derek had taken a fair number of hits and more than a few broken bones. Because they were inflicted by the Alpha, they would take a while to heal. Stiles had taken a pretty bad beating. Enough that Derek was walking them towards the hospital, not caring how bad they looked. Stiles would recover, he was strong and stubborn, but he’d probably have to be admitted for at least a night. Both breathed a sigh of relief that the sight of the quiet hospital, Melissa and the Sheriff waiting for them at the door. Fewer awkward questions this way. Fewer lies. Relaxing in Derek’s arms, Stiles mumbled around his split lip.

“Do you think you’ll get it?”

“Get what Stiles?”

“His powers. The Alpha. Think it’ll come to you when he dies?”

Derek shook his head. Without a hint of regret he says, “Doubt it. Too far away. Not that I really want the powers back. Lord knows I didn’t handle it well the first time.”

Stiles shrugged as best as he could from his vantage point.

“You were young and angry Derek. You did what you could with what you had available at the time.”

Hissing as Derek gingerly placed him on the gurney, Stiles wrapped his fingers in the front of Derek’s shirt. Pulling himself up just slightly, he placed a kiss to the corner of Derek’s mouth, smiling a little at the look of shock on Hale’s face.

“Not exactly how I wanted the first one to go but...no complaints here either.”

Stiles sighed and slumped back on the gurney, eyes drifting closed as the rush of adrenaline faded and the pain from the injuries finally took hold. Glancing up at the Sheriff and Melissa, Derek awkwardly licked his lips, catching the taste of salt, blood, and Stiles there. Something in his stomach did a flip-flop at the combined taste, and he found himself grinning, despite himself. Sobering up at the look the Sheriff was giving him, he nodded formally to the older man.

“Derek?”

“Yes sir?”

“Anything you need to tell me about what that was about?”

“I’m...honestly not sure sir.”

The Sheriff looked at Derek, and looked at Stiles. Letting out a small sigh of his own, he simply rolled his eyes and squinted at the heavens as though trying to read the stars for the future.

“You know. He turned 18 today. And while I have no idea what you two just burned down, though I have a feeling I’ll be finding out soon enough, something tells me my son had bigger plans than a peck on the lips for celebration.”

Derek shifted uncomfortably, watching Melissa fuss over the gurney while briefing one of the new nurses about their patient. The nurse was a Shifter of some type. After one of the last attacks on the hospital, Melissa put feelers out for Supernatural based healers to apply for the jobs. At least they stood a chance at surviving an attack. It also meant a lot less questions when one of their Pack came in and were healing quickly, but not quickly enough.

Looking back, he flinched at the fact the Sheriff hadn’t broken his eye contact at Derek’s general direction.

“I’m honestly not sure sir. You know Stiles...”

Letting the sentence trail off, it was a pretty safe statement to make. To his relief the Sheriff just nodded and chuckled.

“I do know Stiles. Which means that now that he’s of legal age to date you...well...don’t be too surprised if that’s the route he aims to take. He’s been smitten with you for years now and honestly...”

The Sheriff looked like he was about to swallow a lemon. Derek felt the tension ratchet up and he heard his own heart trip in his ears.

“He’s a pretty good judge of character. So, if it’s something he does pursue and you’re on board...I’m not going to get in the way.”

Derek felt himself grinning.

“Just...don’t hurt him.”

“Don’t worry Sheriff. I’ll load the wolfsbane bullets for you if I do.”

Apparently satisfied with Derek’s answer, he gave the werewolf’s shoulders a firm grasp before leading him into the hospital, trailing after Melissa and the other nurse.

“What were you two up to tonight anyway?”

“You remember that pack that moved in a few weeks ago and were stirring up shit?”

“Say no more...I don’t think I want to know. Melissa and I are having cake for Stiles’ birthday tonight if you’d like to join?”

“He’s probably going to be admitted.”

The Sheriff laughed and nodded.

“I know. That’s why I’m going to have two pieces and no-one’s going to stop me.”

Chuckling, he let the elder Stilinski lead him down the hallway, not necessarily feeling at ease, but not feeling the tension he usually did walking these halls.

If only the buzzing in his ears would stop.

***

As Derek suspected, Stiles was mildly sedated to help with the pain, which just left him in a twilight doze of unconsciousness. The Sheriff sat with him for a bit while Derek stepped out for a moment, returning 15 minutes later with a balloon bouquet, a dozen packages of Reese peanut butter cups and a birthday card, in which he scrawled, “Do you want to be my boyfriend yes or no. Circle one. Love Derek.”

The Sheriff merely rolled his eyes and grunted.

“Undeniably corny. You’re perfect for each other.”

After being shuffled out by a less than amused Melissa who was wearing her coat and normal shoes, Derek got in the back of their car, grateful that it wasn’t the police cruiser. He’d been working very hard to rebuild his reputation after finding himself in the backseat of that thing a few times and it didn’t take much to get sullied again. Listening to Stiles’ Dad and Melissa chat about their respective days, Derek chalked the lack of call out for the Sheriff up to Parrish being called in. They tended to leave him in charge of all things fire related. Safer in the long run.

“So Derek. What ended up happening with that pack you boys were talking about for the last few weeks?”

Derek shifted a little uncomfortably.

“We...that is Stiles and I...took care of it.”

“I’m guessing on a somewhat permanent basis?”

“More or less. Stiles came up with the plan, I followed it. Not entirely ideal but...”

Melissa chewed the answer around in her head for a few moment. As a healthcare worker, she was against needless pain and injury of all living things. But having been sent by her son to the pack with Parrish, and narrowly avoiding being ‘made an example of’ because she was the Alpha’s mother, she wasn’t entirely against the judicious application of appropriate force. In this life, sometimes that meant the other party didn’t always walk away from the negotiating table. Melissa had even been on board with a more escalated approach, but Scott with his rose tinted vision, wouldn’t listen to her either.

Nodding her head, she looked out the window, taking a deep breath.

“You boys shouldn’t be the ones having to take care of it all the time.”

“It’s okay Melissa. I’m used to it, and Stiles...”

“But you shouldn’t be. You shouldn’t HAVE to be used to it. Stiles shouldn’t HAVE to be used to it. Christ. I can’t believe I’m saying this but it isn’t your job. It’s your Alpha’s.”

“But he isn’t willing to do what he needs to do.”

Licking her lips, she nodded. “Yeah. I know.”

Letting the subject matter drop, Derek watched as the yards started to increase in size, and the houses moved further away from the road, until they were on the outskirts of town. John and Melissa had sold both of their houses and moved to an acreage that was wonderfully fenced in with a large amount of natural forest on the edge. It was near enough to the Preserve that Derek could easily run back to his house if researching was going late at the Stilinskis’, or he could walk Stiles back after pack movie night. Scott had elected to stay in town in an apartment he was sharing with Isaac and Kira, but Stiles gladly moved out with his Dad and Stepmother.

As much as he equated his old house with his Mom, and the memories that it contained were precious to him, Stiles had also been assaulted and attacked more times than he wanted to recall in the place that was supposed to be his refuge from the world. At least at the new house he could escape the memories of almost being killed in the kitchen by a wendigo or impaled through the shoulder by a crazed dhampir. So far in the new house he’d only been snuggled on the couch by an over tired Derek who was learning to let his guard down more and more around his friends and pack mates.

Seeing movement in the field, Derek couldn’t help but smile. Ranger and Mika were bouncing around like crazy dogs, excited and happy to have their humans home after a long day. Then again the German Shepherds greeted them with the same enthusiasm when they came out of the bathroom after a quick pee so the reaction was a common occurrence. You could never genuinely feel under appreciated when these two dogs were around. The yard had been warded to keep the dogs protected when they were outside so they could enjoy their space without fear of predators. Derek may have also marked the boundaries in a more primal way as well...but he wasn’t about to tell them that.

Sliding out of the car, Derek bolted forward to greet the dogs in a display of joy and affection that seemed to be reserved solely for canines and small children. The yips and yelps of playful exuberance from all three of them made Melissa chuckle, and John smile. With a flurry of kiss noises and ‘Good girls, good girls!’ Derek made his way inside where, true to their word, a rather large cake was sitting on the counter. Derek recognized it as a red velvet cake with buttercream icing. Stiles’ favourite. His too if he was being honest.

“Don’t you think he’s going to notice the cake missing?”

Cutting a large piece, John handed it over to Derek with a grin.

“Only if we tell him about it.”

Shrugging his shoulders, Derek took a bite, moaning around his fork at the way the moist cake seemed to almost dissolve on his tongue. Taking the half second to pull off his boots, he went to the den and slumped down on the floor in front of what he considered Stiles’ couch. If Stiles were here, he’d be parked on it right beside him, but the few times Derek had come here and Stiles wasn’t downstairs yet...it just felt wrong. Stretching out his legs, he shivered when he felt a small pain in his shoulder. Rolling his shoulders he growled slightly.

“You okay?”

Melissa had settled on the longer couch with her feet tucked under John’s leg for warmth. Wiggling her toes to make him snicker, she turned her attention back to Derek.

“Yeah. Fine. Little twinge in my shoulder. Not too surprising considering everything that happened. Took a few hits from the Alpha. Must have gotten hit a bit harder than I thought.”

He shrugged.

“It’ll be fine in a day or two.”

Apparently satisfied with that answer, they settled into more pleasant topics of conversation, like Derek’s volunteer work with an after school athletics program for disadvantaged youth, and the new cafe that was going up on the east side of town. The rebuilding of Hale House was another topic they were all interested in. Derek was rebuilding it based on the original blueprint, but with a few modifications, most of which at Stiles insistence. After the initial irritation had passed, Derek had to admit that some of the adjustments had a lot of merit. The recessed sprinkler system definitely had his vote. For some reason he also found he couldn’t say no to the way Stiles had designed the kitchen either. The fridge was massive, the freezer doubly so, and there was a large enough stove to cook for a full fledged pack. Something he admittedly didn’t have any more, but Stiles just shrugged and finished picking out countertops and sinks.

The biggest difference was how Stiles had portioned out much of the yard. Growing up the yard had been just a play ground for the children and an access to the woods that surrounded them. Stiles had sectioned it off and with Derek’s permission (and black Amex) had worked out a design with a landscape architect to make it aesthetically pleasing, but also practical, with a great number of herbs and plants that could be used in literal magical combinations. A witch’s garden of sorts. This was of course next to the more mundane garden that Stiles and Derek had decided on putting in to grow vegetables and peppers.

Looking back, he should have anticipated his relationship with Stiles changing. They had practically built their dream house together.

Sighing softly as he remembered the frantic energy Stiles worked with when picking out the wood finishes for the island and breakfast nook, Derek stuttered slightly and felt a little flush.

“Derek, you feeling okay?”

“Yeah. Just...tired. A bit of adrenaline wearing off I think.”

Melissa looked over at John, who exchanged a meaningful look with his wife.

“Maybe you should head up and get some sleep.”

“I can get back to my house. Thanks for the offer though. I don’t want to put you out...”

Derek went to stand up, feeling the room tilt 90 degrees backwards as he did. Collapsing onto the couch, suddenly paler than a sheet of paper, he broke out in a sweat and groaned.

“No Derek, I think maybe staying here will be a better idea. C’mon son. Let’s get you upstairs. We’ll put you in Stiles room. I’m sure he won’t mind.”

Derek gave a weak smile as he let Melissa and John get him upstairs. Flopping down on Stiles’ bed, the scent shot straight to his heart, making him smile despite feeling like hell. The last time he’d felt like this was when he’d evolved to be able to full shift into a wolf. This was different though. Fussing with his socks and belt, he accepted defeat and let John help him with pulling off his over shirt so he could fall asleep in his tank top and jeans. Falling back into the pillows, he stared a bit puzzled as he saw John’s lips move, but didn’t quite hear the words over the buzzing that had suddenly increased in volume.

“What did you just say?”

“I asked if you want us to close the door, or leave it open so Ranger and Mika can check on you?”

The dogs treated him like a member of their pack, though they deferred to him as one of their masters. They treated Jackson and Ethan as equals to them, had a fondness for Isaac and a tolerance for Scott. Kira and Stiles often gave them treats and took them for long walks in the preserve so they were pretty much gods in the dogs eyes.

“Leave it open. They whine if you don’t.”

Melissa came back in the room with a large water bottle filled with ice, water, and a few herbs that apparently promoted healing in werewolves. She also handed him a couple tablets that were certainly not aspirins.

“It’s that funky fungus that Satomi uses for tea. But pill form. Because that tea is disgusting and I don’t hate you.”

Smiling weakly, he took the pills and a large drink of water before laying back down. Pulling the blanket up to his chin, he rubbed it slightly on his face, drawing in the comforting scent of the human who had gotten so under his skin in all the right ways. Feeling his eyes flutter closed, he smiled at the soft touch on his brow.

“Get some sleep Derek. I’ll check on you in the morning.”

“Thanks Melissa...for everything.”

Letting sleep reach up and claim him, Derek let out a soft sigh.

And that’s when the nightmares began.

***

“Derek. Deeeerrrrrrreeeeeek.”

The giggle echoed through Stiles’ room, sound reflecting in impossible ways. Curling into a ball and unable to take a full breath, Derek felt more than heard the whine in his throat. The buzzing in his head had grown to such a level that only the mocking voice seemed to cut through. It was a voice he hadn’t thought of in a long time. There was a time when it had haunted his dreams, until a new horror had replaced it.

“Wake up Derek.”

Clenching his eyes shut, balling his fists and driving them into his eye sockets, he shook his head, tears and spittle flying in the violence of the action. Taking a wheezing breath, he muttered under his breath, “You’re not real. You’re not real. You’re not real.”

“Of course I’m not real Derek. How can I be. I’m dead.”

The buzzing stopped and Derek’s hands were ripped away from his face. Feeling his eyes get forced open, the innocent face of Paige invaded his view. A bitter little grin graced her lips as she all but spat in his face.

“But of course you know that. You killed me.”

Her laughter filled the room, matched only by his screaming as the flesh rotted from her face, leaving a skeletal mask and black, empty eye sockets glaring into his soul.

Scrambling off the bed, Derek rolled across the floor to get away from her trying to close the distance between him and the most obvious path of escape. Ignoring the stabbing pain in his shoulder he escaped through the door that had been left open a crack only to draw up short, staring at the Nemeton and the body of Paige exactly as he’d left her.

The body looked up at him, brushing the dirt off her shirt as she advanced on him. No longer looking like a skeleton, she had the appearance of death. The colour drained from her eyes, skin a deathly pallor, the bite wound standing out in stark relief to the rest of her complexion.

“You killed me Derek.”

“You begged me to...”

“You killed me before that. When you decided that I needed to be a wolf. Like you.”

“No I...I was...”

“...young? Foolish? Naive? You were a monster. You looked at me like a thing you could possess and made sure I had no choice but to accept you for what you are because you did it to me too.”

“I thought...”

“You didn’t think. You listened to your gut which has lead you so wrong before that I’m surprised you didn’t get yourself killed.”

Derek’s feet stumbled over a root. Landing on his back, he scrambled back until he bumped into Paige’s legs. Looking up, a clawed hand reached down and pulled him up by his hair. Swinging his arm to break free, he found himself being thrown to the ground like he weighed nothing at all. Taking a kick to the chest, he landed spread eagle on the stump of the Nemeton. Coughing up a mouthful of blood, he spit his out. Eyes flashing blue, he tried to get to his feet.

“If you’d given me the chance Derek, you could have possibly kept me.”

“Or you could have run and told everyone what I was...what my family was...”

“Which could have gotten you killed?”

“And them.”

Paige laughed and looked to the misted woods behind her. Two bodies came into view. One’s eyes glowed a vibrant red. Derek felt his heart flutter in his chest.

“Mom?”

Talia looked at Paige and looked at Derek.

“Doesn’t seem to matter does it Son?”

“What do you...”

Shaking her head and tutting her disappointment, Talia levelled her gaze at Derek, no care or compassion to be found.

“It wasn’t your relationship with Paige that killed us. But it didn’t take long for you to take care of that little detail, did it?”

Eventually Kate came into view, standing shoulder to shoulder with Paige and Talia. Chuckling under her breath, Kate cocked her head and gave him a grin.

“Looks like Mommy’s not too happy with you. Can’t say as I blame her. You killed your first girlfriend. Second girlfriend killed your family. Third girlfriend...didn’t really fair too well after meeting you did she?”

“How many have you killed Derek?”

“How many more will you kill?”

“How much innocent blood has to be spilled on your hands before you’re satisfied?”

Pressing his hands tightly to the sides of his head, Derek shook his head, screaming as the voices blended together until all he could hear was the angry buzzing of a thousand hornets. Looking up from the ground he saw their faces twist and contort into demonic visages, eyes lit with hellfire itself. Moaning low, as the insect sound built to a crescendo, he felt himself loose a scream that even Lydia would envy.

***

Waking from a dead sleep, Melissa looked over at John, who saw their dogs pacing outside the open door of Stiles room, whining to show they were upset. Sliding out of bed, Melissa made her way to the bedroom and saw Derek thrashing on the bed as though he were under attack. Looking around the room, they didn’t see anything in the low light. Flicking the lights on, the lightbulbs blew out, showering the room with shards of glass, causing the humans to jump away from the door.

“You call Deaton. I’ll call Scott.”

John nodded his head, pulling up the ‘after hours’ phone number for the veterinarian who was so much more.

“Alan. It’s John. No, nothing to do with Ranger. No. It’s about Derek. I think...”

The Sheriff looked into the bedroom, and caught a glimpse of the pained expression on Derek’s face.

“I think you should come down here. There’s something wrong with Derek.”

***

“Why Derek. Why did you have to tell her about our family?”

“I don’t know...I thought...I thought I could trust her...”

“You didn’t even think to ask me. Your mother...your Alpha? You went rogue and we paid the price.”

“I didn’t mean to...”

Kate laughed from her vantage point beside Talia. Resting her cheek on Talia’s shoulder, she smiled a deranged little smile.

“You didn’t mean to what? Turn your Mom and Dad into crispy critters? Drive your Uncle mad with pain and memories of watching his mate and their children burn to death? Give it all up for the first person to give you a blow job?”

Talia shook her head disapprovingly at her son. “Sweetheart, if you did all this for a girl you liked...I shudder to think of what would you do for the man you love?”

Kate grinned a wicked grin, all but laughing in his face.

“Oh my god. With everything you’ve done to the people you love...imagine what you’ll do to Stiles?”

Laughing in his face, they watched as Derek scrambled to his feet, trying to put as much distance between them. Not looking back and running through the dream space, he didn’t question it when a door appeared in front of him. Leaping through it, he rolled to his feet and got a look at his surroundings.

The loft.

Somewhere he hadn’t lived in a while.

Moving through the main room, he heard the buzzing of white noise start to encroach on his refuge. Looking around the empty space, he looked towards where his table sat, the flash of lightning showing the after image of his shifted form, with his claws buried deep in Boyd’s stomach.

Shaking his head, he looked to the door to the loft, and saw it open a crack. Closing his eyes, he heard a familiar voice calling to him from the other side of the door.

“Derek...can you hear me? His eyes are opening...Derek?! John...he’s really cold. Could you...”

The buzzing drone of the white noise muted anything else. Feeling his heart beat a bit slower...calmer...he moved towards the door, hoping it would lead him out. It was Melissa’s voice. Soft and calm, and caring. He may have done a great number of things in his life...but he had left her reasonably untouched. In that way lay safety. In that way, lay home.

“Of course, dear nephew, you have to make it there first.”

Lightning crashed, causing Derek to turn away from the sliding door. When he turned back it was just a solid wall, with no soothing voice coaxing him forward. Turning back around, Derek’s eyes searched the loft and set his eyes on Peter. Not the Peter he had seen last week for their regular game of basketball, but the Peter who he had killed all those years ago.

“And absorbed my Alpha power too. Don’t forget that part.”

Peter walked forward, his swagger unmistakable. Eyes glowing red, he smirked.

“I think, dear nephew mine, that we had a little chat.”

***

“What are you doing here? You’re not dead...any more anyway.”

It was a complicated relationship, but a lot of time and therapy had gone in to turning Peter into a reasonable useful member of society. He was still sarcastic, bitter and a bit of an asshole, but even Lydia gave him a little bit of leeway these days. They would never be stupid enough to trust him completely, but he’d at least stopped trying to sell them out. The fact that Stiles still on occasion referred to him as ‘Derek’s Uncle Bad Touch’ was just as telling. His renewed lease on life left him a bit of a lech.

Given that the most recent attempt at trying to kill them was by misjudging the cook time on a turkey and Cora taking a mouthful of undercooked meat. Thankfully as a werewolf she escaped unscathed, and Stiles hadn’t taken a bite just yet. Peter was apologetic and embarrassed. Two things that rarely described him in the past, after the fire at least.

“Think of me as the ghost of Christmas past, and you’ve been a wasteful little boy Derek. You killed me and took my powers. For what?”

Peter wound up and kicked Derek in the chest, causing him to fly across the room and into the wall. In the waking world, Melissa flinched when she felt one of his ribs break and then mend. Thumping back on her heels, she scrambled forward and cut open Derek’s tank top. Rapidly appearing and disappearing bruises peppered his chest. Looking up at John with a new feeling of concern she dialled Scott again.

“I don’t care what you’re doing Scott. Pick up your phone. Derek needs you. Your pack needs you.”

Tossing the phone to the side she looked at Derek’s face and ran a soothing hand through his hair. Looking at the mark that had appeared on his shoulder, she focussed back on his face.

“Fight it Derek. Hang on...”

“Fuck it. I’m calling Peter.”

In the dream scape, Derek pulled himself to his feet, groaning at the pain in his ribs. Taking a few deep breaths, he watched as Peter circled him.

“You envied my power so much that you manipulated Scott and his friends into joining your attack on me. You never had any intention of letting Scott land the killing blow, because you knew it wouldn’t cure him. But you also knew that I’d never let you close enough.”

“It isn’t your power.”

“It was my sister’s.”

“It was Laura’s! You stole it from her. You killed her. Because you were what? Jealous that she inherited it and you didn’t? We lost EVERYONE in the fire. Except each other. You. Me. Laura. But you just couldn’t wait to get your hands on the Alpha power.”

“Because it should have been mine. Talia was a good leader,” Peter picked at invisible lint on his shirt as he advanced towards Derek. “I did not envy my sister and what she had to deal with to keep our territory secured. She didn’t listen to my cautions about the Argents, so between her hubris and your stupidity I think you both shoulder the blame for what happened to our family.”

Peter reached out and took Derek by the throat, effortlessly lifting him into the air.

“But when the power went to Laura and the two of you dumped me in that Hospital...and ran? Now in all fairness, what happened with Laura...I was out of my mind with pain don’t forget. But you? You gave up our territory to anyone who would have it. I suppose we should thank our lucky stars that no one moved in. But why would they. Fucking Hunters took our territory.”

Peter levelled his gaze on Derek.

“And then you tore my throat out, and took on the Alpha power, only to turn four juvenile delinquents and give up your powers to save Cora. I suppose, given that she’s family, I should say that was noble of you. I think, if I were an outside observer, I’d even commend you for it. But you TOOK my LIFE and just gave the power away like it was nothing. My death...was in vain. My death, was just for your vanity.”

Pulling Derek in close enough that he could smell the sour scent of Peter’s breath. Trying to pull away from the rapidly growing teeth, Derek struggled hard enough to break the grip on his throat.

“What do you have to show for it? One beta who ran off with a Hunter. One Beta who ran off to the other side of the fucking world. And two bodies. One of which died just over there.”

Peter pointed to where the after image of Derek holding Boyd on his claws appeared between lightning strikes.

“You were a pathetic Alpha. Barely even worthy of the title.”

Derek stood stock still as the impact of the words hit him. As much as Peter was able to inflict injury on him, the words seemed to have the greatest effect on him. Recoiling as each truth landed with the force of a fist behind it, Derek dropped to his knees. Peter advanced on him, looming like a menace, but this time not resorting to physical intimidation or assault.

“Now, you are nothing but a Beta, the pawn of a True Alpha who scarcely understands his powers. He doesn’t hesitate to remind you of your past, while he’s unwilling to do what he should to make sure you have a future. You’re less than a Beta. You’re his pack’s omega. His bitch. His attack dog. He is going to use you up, and spit you out, like everyone else has. What’s worse. You like it. Because this way, you don’t have to face the responsibilities of your actions. You do what your master tells you and you just lap up the praise, or take the beating, all with a smile on your face.”

Leaning in and whispering low in Derek’s ear, he all but hisses. “Makes you wonder what Stiles could possibly see in you.”

Feeling his heart stutter in his chest, Derek crumpled in on himself as though he were just stabbed. Letting the tears flow free, he clung desperately to the thought that Stiles wouldn’t see him like that. That Stiles would love him anyway. Curling into a ball, trying to make himself as small as possible, he didn’t notice Peter leave, but the new scent that replaced it caused his heart to break all over again.

“Hello Derek. Long time no see.”

Looking up through his fingers, Derek felt the blood drain from his face.

“Hello Boyd.”

The younger man’s face contorted into a mask of rage that Derek had never seen on him while he was alive.

“Got time to talk?”

***

Melissa pressed the cold cloth to Derek’s forehead, as he was now starting to run a fever. Deaton was running a little behind getting to the Farm as he and his sister were disposing of the body of the Alpha that Stiles and Derek had taken out. He was going to get to them as quickly as possible, but he was on the other side of the county. When Melissa asked him what she should do to help, he told her to trust her instincts.

“You’re a Mother. And a nurse. Do what your gut tells you to do. If you think you need to do something, then do what you think you need to do. We’ll be there as quickly as we can. Have you had any luck reaching Scott?”

The unamused growl in her throat made John reach out to check on Derek, when he realized that it came from his wife. They DID have lunch dates at least twice a week. Seems he was starting to rub off on her.

“Perhaps I’ll stop by the hospital and pick up Stiles then.”

“Do what you need to do Doc. We’ll be here.”

Disconnecting the line, she looked closer at the black mark on Derek’s shoulder. Gingerly touching it, despite the fact he was burning up, it felt cold as ice.

“John...what does this look like to you?”

Taking a closer look, he grunted in thought. Before all this had happened, he would have figured it was just a squiggle. But, now that he was firmly entrenched in the supernatural (whether he wanted to be or not) he knew it was something more.

“It looks like a tattoo, but Derek hasn’t said anything about getting one. And if he had, I don’t think it would be that...foreboding? I just look at it and feel...”

“...dread. It’s cold but the rest of him is burning up. And I’d guess when he was freezing it was probably burning hot.”

Looking down at the werewolf who had dissolved into frantic whimpers, tears rolling down his cheeks in waves, they exchanged a frightened look. They didn’t know what they were witnessing, but they knew it wasn’t anything good.

“Come back to us Derek. Come back for Stiles.” John’s voice was low and commanding, but there was more than a touch of affection in it. Despite everything, he knew that the werewolf would sacrifice anything and everything to keep his son safe. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, he knew that Stiles loved this man, and he had no doubt in his mind that Stiles would be devastated if something happened to him.

Each of them taking one of Derek’s hands they gave them a squeeze showing their solidarity, silently willing him to wake up.

***

“You were used. Is that what you were planning on saying? Someone forced you to do it? You couldn’t fight back?”

Derek looked up at Boyd who was, unlike everyone else, not physically trying to attack him. His voice was slow, and calm, as it had been in life. It wasn’t accusatory, nor was it cruel. It would have been better if it were, because then Derek could block it out with all the other hate that had been thrown at him through his life. This was worse, because the words floated through the eery silence of the loft and landed as delicately as fluff on Derek’s head.

“Truth is, you didn’t know what you were doing. Your lack of planning when we were just trying to survive probably didn’t help much. I mean, you let us go. You didn’t even try to get Erica and I to stay and how did that turn out?”

Boyd lowered himself to the floor, stretching out his legs and looking Derek square in the eyes.

“I had to watch my best friend...my only friend really...get killed trying to escape so we could find you. That Pack...when you found out that they wanted you to kill us, THAT should have been the sign to get your head out of your ass and actually protect us like an Alpha would.”

Derek stared down at his interlaced fingers, picking at his nail beds, trying to think of a response other than what the spectre before him had already determined. At the end of the day, he could never escape the reality that it was his claws that had ended Boyd’s life, and it was his perceived apathy towards his Betas that led them to running from him in the first place.

“What did you think would happen? You should have known better than that Derek. You grew up in this area. You know who surrounds us. You could have at least directed us to Satomi’s pack. You could have even reached out to help with the Alpha pack...but what did you do.”

“I tried...”

“Tried what?”

“We tried to find you.”

Boyd thunked his head into the wall with a grimace. Opening his eyes, they glowed gold, and his voice distorted around the fangs growing in his mouth.

“You didn’t try hard enough.”

With a roar, he fell on Derek, pinning him to the floor.

***

The doors were unlocked, allowing Deaton, Stiles and Peter entry to the house. Stiles was a little unsteady on his feet, a combination of the injuries from earlier in the evening, the painkillers in his system and the late hour doing a number on him. Peter was propping him up, acting like a crutch to keep him from collapsing from sheer exhaustion.

Following the shouting, they made their way to Stiles’ bedroom where they were assaulted by the smell of fear and adrenaline that even Stiles’ human nose was able to pick up. Watching Derek thrashing on the bed as though he were fighting for his life against an invisible assailant, John and Melissa threw a grateful look over their shoulders as they saw their backup arrive. Suddenly Stiles wasn’t feeling so weak, as the sight of Derek in distress caused something in him to shift. Breaking away, Stiles crossed the remaining feet to get to the head of his bed to put a hand on Derek’s forehead.

“He feels like ice...”

Deaton and Peter exchanged a look as John and Melissa gave them a run down on what had transpired after they arrived back home after the hospital. Including the devouring of a cake that had been originally meant for Stiles. Unamused look aside, there was nothing to indicate why Derek would be suffering from an attack like this. Despite warning, Stiles slid onto the bed and cradled Derek’s head in his lap, gently carding his fingers through Derek’s sweat soaked hair, murmuring words of support and kindness.

“There’s something else. Stiles, can you take the bandage off his shoulder?”

Stiles nodded absently, removing the gauze and tape. Looking at it, he went a little pale. Deaton pursed his lips. Peter let loose a small torrent of curses that made even John’s eyebrows jump into his hair line. With all eyes turning his way, Peter shifted slightly uncomfortably. Shaking his head in a small measure of self recrimination, he growled.

“I should have known. I should have...fuck.”

Silence fell over the room, air heavy with anticipation as Peter flopped into Stiles’ computer chair.

“The pack that you...shall we say...dealt with with Derek. Was there any sort of unusual characteristics about the Alpha you have evidently killed?”

Stiles nodded his head. “Yeah. His claws were black. Like. Pure black. Like obsidian.”

“Anything else.”

“When Derek ripped out a chunk of his intestines he actually smiled at us. He slashed Derek one more time and took off.”

John squirmed a little at the clinical detachment his son seemed to possess when talking about someone in the room tearing out someone else’s intestines, but this was the world he was living in now, and he had a feeling it would be the least of the weirdness he’d have to listen to before he died.

With a bitter smile, Peter leaned forward, fingers pressed together as though he were praying.

“Alan. What do you know of the Crimson Narcissus Pack?”

***

Every night when he went to bed for years, theirs were the last faces he saw in his mind before his dreamless sleep would claim him. They would be the first thing on his mind for a long time after what happened as well. Slowly, as he started to forgive himself, they invaded his thoughts less and less. As he started to listen to his friends, and accept that what had happened wasn’t entirely his fault, Erica and Boyd took their places in his memory as people he hadn’t been able to save. He would never completely forgive himself, and the guilt would always be there, but the hurt didn’t have to be. He could move on and accept that it was okay to move on.

Facing down his two deceased Betas all but broke his heart. When he felt Boyd’s fangs at his throat, he almost surrendered and gave in, allowing vengeance to come full circle. He felt himself start to let go and just let it happen. He felt it was the right thing to do, until suddenly it wasn’t. His eyes snapped open, and he found his forearm pushing back against the dead man’s throat, leg leveraging up to throw him off. Rolling to his feet, he squared off against his Beta when he saw Erica slide into the picture. He couldn’t identify where she had come from, just that she was suddenly there, looking every bit the werewolf she was when he first bit her and took her for her make over. Feeling his chest heaving, trying to take a full breath, he growled, watching as they both flinched and took a step back.

“Oh Derek. You don’t really think you’re going to win against Us do you?”

Snapping his fangs, unsure of where the sudden strength came from, he also wasn’t about to question it.

“I know I’m not just going to roll over and play dead...”

***

Deaton ran his hand over his bald head, for the first time in the years they had known each other, looking like he’d rather be expressing the anal glands of Mrs. Bauers’ schnauzers than having this conversation. Stiles immediately picked up on the vet’s annoyance and while he sympathized with the man, he cleared his throat, prompting him to get a move on with the information.

“The Crimson Narcissus Pack is not one of the nicer ones out there. They have no Emissary, and no Emissary will have them. It’s said that back in the day, they flayed every Emissary that was sent to them until we wised up and stopped going to them.”

“When was this?”

“About 600 years ago. Before they moved to the United States. They’ve been here for about 150 years.”

“Where are they originally from?” Stiles asked, looking at the marking on Derek’s shoulder.

“Greece, originally. Though they moved around in Europe a lot before settling here.”

Peter shook his head and crossed his arms. He knew something else. Something the good doctor wasn’t telling them.

“What was their name before they moved here.”

Deaton sighed a defeated sigh. It would appear his habit of half truths and incomplete information wasn’t going to fly this time. If his sister were here with him, she would have just given them everything they needed to know and called it a day. Why he was more enigmatic, even he didn’t know. It drove their parents crazy to say the least, and caused more than a few babysitters to just up and quit on them.

“Scarlet Eumenides.”

“Further back Alan. Don’t hold back for the kiddos.”

John and Melissa gave Peter a look. They were both older than him by a few years. Stiles for his part merely threw a pillow at Peter while rolling his eyes.

“They were the Black Erinyes first.”

Stiles perked up at the name. Hearing it often enough was what he likely needed to start making the connection.

“Wait. The Eumenides...I know this one. They were Greek goddesses of vengeance weren’t they?”

“What name are they better known as?”

“The Fur...fuck. Furies.”

Peter nodded his head.

“The Black Furies Pack of Greece. Alpha with obsidian claws, and a pact with the Furies that if their Alpha is killed, he leaves his mark if he’s able...”

“...and the Furies attack...”

“...and kill the person who killed him.”

A hush fell over the room, punctuated with the occasional grunt and groan from Derek as he writhed in Stiles’ tender hold. Stiles gnawed on his bottom lip, running everything through his head to the best of his ability. Looking around the room at the assorted adults in his life, there was a grim determination in the room, but nothing forthcoming with answers.

“So what do we do?”

Deaton let out a sigh.

“I don’t know if there is anything we can do. I have some books that...”

“...fine., Get the books. Dad, take him and throw on every siren you need to. Someone get a hold of Chris? If anyone’s going to have information on these guys it’s going to be the Argents.”

“Stiles it’s the middle of the night.”

“Here. In Paris it’s just past sunrise. He went back about two weeks ago after a rather tense standoff with Scott.”

“I’ll call him,” Melissa volunteered. He’d stood up in her bridal party when she and John tied the knot. She didn’t give him the gears for dating Isaac. It was an interesting relationship to put it mildly.

Stiles nodded. Looking up at Peter a little helplessly, Stiles made himself as comfortable as he could on the bed. The elder Werewolf reached over and rested his hand on Stiles shoulder, absorbing the pain and fatigue as best he could. He’d never been that proficient at it, at least not since the Fire. It took the edge off though, to which Stiles was grateful.

“We’d better hurry. I’m not sure how much is hearsay or how much is fact. But if we can’t wake him up by sunrise, he probably won’t wake up at all.”

Stiles looked a Peter, a grim expression crossing his face.

“He’ll wake up. Even if I have to go in after him.”

“Watch what you say Stiles. You never know who might be listening.”

***

Derek wheezed as his back hit the wall. He distinctively remembers sparring with these two as being a hell of a lot easier when he was an Alpha. It was some consolation that Erica and Boyd were looking as tired as he felt. Forcing himself to look up at them, he grunted as he tried to push away and meet their charge. Finding he didn’t have the energy, he dropped to the ground at the last moment, allowing them to hit the concrete with their full strength. Reinforced concrete. Rebar was a bitch to punch. Watching the two dead Betas back off, he spit out the mouthful of saliva and blood as they left to tend to their wounds.

“Is that...the best...you can do...”

Chuckling more to himself than anything, he pushes his broken rib back in position and hisses as it heals. Watching the way they were following him with their eyes, he felt the cold and calculating part of his mind take over. They were observant. Sharp. Skilled. Things they definitely weren’t went they were alive. Boyd was pure strength, but he was tactically weak. Erica was cunning, but the surgical strikes she was making weren’t hers. She could have gotten there if she had trained properly. If HE had trained her properly. And if she hadn’t gotten killed.

“This isn’t a dream. It’s a curse.”

He whispered to himself, but the spectres before him heard. Straightening up, they looked at each other and exchanged a small smile. Their forms started to shimmer, the edges starting to fade to dust.

“Very good Derek. Very good indeed.”

“Won’t matter though.”

“Not overly.”

“Not really.”

“Not unless you can wake up.”

Derek took a deep breath, willing himself to be back to full strength. Surprisingly that’s all it took. As though now he understood the stakes he was up against, he could control the dream state somewhat. Though the entire, ‘willing himself awake’ thing was a work in progress, he at least had successfully achieved understanding.

“Who are you?”

“You’ll see.”

With that, they faded from view, leaving three of the most severe maidens he had ever seen in his life in their wake.

Sitting down at the bar, he invited them to take a seat across from him.

“Derek Hale. Who the fuck are you.”

***

Stiles watched the clock on his desk opposite the bed with a slightly nervous uptick in his heart beat. There was very little he could do at this point except wait. Something he was never particularly good at. Carding his hands through Derek’s hair, lips tripping over the Latin incantations that he could remember to provide strength and protection from a distance. He didn’t know if it would help fortify his friend’s mind, or it was just an exercise in futility at this point. Every time he hit the last word of the incantation, he felt a ‘click’ in his chest letting him know he had at least cast it corrected.

Around him, everyone was pouring through the various books that Deaton and Morrell had brought over. Peter was flipping through a book that looked half beastiary half mythology. Opening a pull out, he frantically closed it again.

“I think I found where they made that animation of the kanima’s final evolution.”

Shuddering and muttering something about, “nightmares for weeks,” he flipped through, grabbing a translation guide once he hit the page that he was looking for.

“Anyone find anything?”

“References to ways to break magical curses set on werewolves aren’t exactly indexed at the back of ancient tomes Stiles.”

“I’m aware of that.”

“But.”

Stiles all but rolled his eyes at Marin.

“But there are references to his Alpha yelling, or for true love’s kiss to be the thing to break a curse.”

Stiles looked down at Derek who was, at least now, calm, and not looking like he was ready to kill anything. He was looking pale though. Too pale for Stiles’ comfort. The clocks were all ticking toward dawn, and they were no further ahead than they were before they sprung him from the hospital.

“I’m not kissing him.”

Everyone in the room stilled at the softness in his voice when he made that proclamation. Feeling all the eyes in the room turn towards him, he shook his head and leaned against the headboard.

“Stiles...why not?”

“If I have to I will but not while there’s still another chance.”

“Why not just...”

“...take the easy way out? Look at him. Everyone. Look at Derek. This is the man who I held his head above water for over 2 hours because I needed him to keep me alive. This is the man who was manipulated by my best friend into biting his worst enemy. This is the man who had his will drained away from him by the Darach, and almost killed. The man who was forced to kill one of his Betas. Who was manipulated by every force in the world to do unspeakable things. Without his choice. Without his say. No. I’m not going to force that on him too. Derek...I. Derek deserves a lot more than that. If I have to in order to save his life, then I will. But I’m not forcing myself on him. End of discussion.”

Letting the gravity of the situation settle in the room, Stiles took a breath, closing his eyes to the stinging of tears. Derek had a lot of life’s situations forced on him. All Stiles ever wanted to do was give him the choice.

“I guess we’ll call Scott again?”

Peter set the books down and shook his head.

“I think we all know that the ‘Twue Alpha’ isn’t answering his phone. The Kitsune fried her last phone when we took out that nest of vampires last night and hasn’t picked up a new one so we can’t get to him from her. Besides. We don’t need Scott. Boy it felt good to say that. We don’t need Scott. Almost gives you a tingle.”

Wiping his eyes with the back of his hand, he merely looked at Peter for an explanation.

“We all know that Derek’s never accepted Scott as his Alpha. An Alpha. Sure. Even that acknowledgement is tenuous at best. Scott could come here and howl until he passed out and it would have likely even less effect than Jordan coming in here and FaceTiming him.”

Stiles watched as the elder werewolf picked at his nails.

“No. If what I’ve read is true, Derek needs his Alpha to wake him up, and that Alpha is in this room.”

Stiles scoffed. “What. You?”

“No dear boy. You.”

***

The three maidens approached the bar, moving seemingly as one. Taking their seats, they folded their hands in front of them, leaning back slightly as though taking measure of the man before them.

“You don’t seem afraid of us Young One.”

“Should I be?”

“We’ve driven greater men than you mad just by our sheer presence. But you…you fight us every step of the way.”

Derek smiled a rueful smile. He was quite used to being the underdog. When his family was still alive, he was so often overlooked because he wasn’t first born. He wasn’t Alpha material like Laura. He didn’t have the ruthless streak of Cora. He was, if anything, the most sensitive of his family. Great for being an Ambassador. Great at following orders. Terrible for being the person making the decisions, either in the boardroom or the battlefield.

“These last few years have given me a reason to fight. Can’t say you’d have been impressed if you’d met me a few years back.”

“We never would have had a need to have met you a few years back. You hadn’t done anything.”

“At all.” Derek smirked, finishing the sentence he could tell they were trying to avoid saying.

“What are your names?” The mirth bleeds from his eyes, leaving the neon blue to stare back at them.

“We go by many.”

“As a group or as an individual.”

“Both. Neither. It doesn’t matter. The sun is coming up and soon we depart. We will take you with us.”

“Not as long as my friends are there you won’t.”

The middle one merely raised an eyebrow and cackled. The sound carried as much warmth as a winter wind between tombstones.

“Who’s to say they even know where you are.”

Derek smiled softly to himself.

“I can feel them there. My Uncle. My friends. My…”

“Lover?”

“In time. My Stiles. So I ask you again. What are your names?”

The one on the left let out a small chuff of annoyance.

“Alecto, Megaera and Tisiphone.”

Derek merely nodded his head as though they were simply confirming something for him.

“The Erinyes. Who is who?”

The one on the right rolled her eyes in a surprisingly modern gesture.

“Does that matter?”

Derek shook his head with a grin.

“No. Don’t suppose it does. Though that answers the question of which pack that was we destroyed. I don’t think they’ll be challenging us any time soon.” Derek’s voice dropped, as though slightly saddened by that news.

“You should celebrate Wolf. You destroyed your enemy and will die in our madness.”

Derek shook he head and with a tired slump of his shoulders, he addressed the three sisters as though they were one.

“There is no delight in taking a life. Even if it’s necessary to preserve the greater good. It’s sad that I had to. It’s worse that Stiles had to be there with me to do it. I’m not sorry we survived when they didn’t. But I’m sorry that it had to happen.”

A ripple of discontent worked its way through the sisters.

“We’re…actually quite sorry to hear you say that.”

“Why?”

The middle sister’s shoulders dropped to mirror Derek’s own.

“We have no choice. If you don’t wake by sunup we will take your soul. But…”

“But what?”

“This is the first time we have been invoked by the death of the Alpha to whom we are the Patrons…and found more honour in their killer than in them. If we don’t take your soul…”

“…or I don’t wake up…”

“…then a hole is ripped in reality and it’s all destroyed.”

Derek swallowed heavily, but squared his shoulders. Giving the sisters a reassuring smile.

“If you have to take me, when it is time, I will go with you. If it keeps those in my life safe, it’s the least I can do.”

A hush falls over the dreamscape. Instead of facing what came next as enemies, they waited to see what came as friends.

***

“The fuck do you mean me?”

“Stiles!”

"Sorry. Still. What do you mean me. I’m not an Alpha. Hell. I’m not even a wolf.”

Peter shook his head, and handed the beastiary and the translation from the other book he was reading over to Stiles. Reading through, Stiles gave him a rather skeptical look.

“We don’t know if this is what they mean.”

“We don’t know that it isn’t.”

Deaton, Marin, Melissa and John all exchanged a look like they were only catching half the conversation. Grabbing the literature from Stiles, there was a look of confusion in that the translation they were reading was just an updated form of Greek, and not english.

“Since when can you read Greek?”

“Since we had to help relocate a group of dryads further into the woods and they couldn’t speak English. Peter. You’re sure this will work?”

“What do we have to lose, besides Derek’s life?”

A tense moment passed through the room as the clock ticked inevitably towards the morning.

“Care to share with the class guys?”

Peter addressed the other adults with about the same level of patience he addressed Stiles and his cohorts when they were just teenagers foiling his plans of world domination.

“The spell is fairly specific in that it needs either a kiss from Derek’s love, or a howl from his Alpha. Greek werewolves had a slightly different perspective on their Alphas in that there were many types. The red eyed wonders that we all know and despise. But also the ones they follow without question. Either with their heart, or follow their orders like in the heat of battle. What I’m proposing is that Derek’s Alpha, in this case Stiles, basically screams him awake.”

Deaton looked skeptical. Marin looked intrigued.

“Think about it. Who does Derek follow blindly almost to the point where he has nearly gotten himself killed a few times. Who did he follow tonight to end the threat of the other pack? And whose ideas does he seldom if ever question.”

Everyone present more or less nodded their head. It was difficult to argue the logic.

“Stiles. If you’re going to try this…” Melissa looked at the clock. Time was running short. Very short.

Nodding, he scrambled off the bed, moved to sit beside Derek’s head and took it in both hands. Taking a deep breath, he found himself momentarily at a loss of what to say. Looking at the vision of peace and tranquility he so rarely saw on Derek’s face, it was easy to forget that he was nearing death. Letting his brain spin up, he felt a moment of panic. How did he do this? It wasn’t like he could just scream. That was Lydia’s thing. And the yell of an Alpha conveyed all kinds of information in its tonal pattern. Pressing his forehead to Derek’s he tried to will away the tears that were threatening to spill. Unsuccessfully he might add. Taking a deep breath, he whispered low enough that if Derek were awake, he could be heard just fine. He just hoped sleeping Derek could hear him as well.

“Wake up. C’mon Derek. It’s me. It’s Stiles. We’re all waiting for you to open those beautiful kaleidoscope eyes of yours and look at us like we’re crazy for being in your room. Which happens to be my room. They tell me I could have just kissed you to wake you up. I couldn’t. That would be…that’s just something I can’t do to you. You’ve had so many of your choices stripped away and I’m not going to be another person who does that to you. So you have to wake up. The sun is coming. And it’s coming to take you away from me.”

Stiles sniffed and wiped his nose on the sleeve of his shirt. Pressing his forehead to Derek’s he took a shuddering breath.

“I know you’re in there Sourwolf. I know you can hear me. Please. Derek. Wake up. Just…please…Derek.”

Stiles let out a choking sob.

“Derek…”

Gripping the sides of his head as though in a vice, he screamed.

“Derek. WAKE. UP!”

***

Sitting at the bar in his old loft, he saw the windows starting to lighten. Getting to his feet, he held out his hands to the Erinyes who were watching with him.

“Ladies. I believe it is time to go.”

Slowly getting to their feet, they nodded. Waving a hand the bar disappeared.

“Indeed Mr. Hale. It is. But not tonight. And not with us. Your Alpha calls. You had better answer.”

Feeling the look of confusion cross his face, before he could say anything his eyes shot open, bleeding red as he looked into the bottomless pools of whiskey he had fallen in love with all those years ago.

“Stiles? Happy birthday…”