Chapter 1: Prologue: How It Happened
Claudia Stilinski and Talia Hale were the most terrifying women in Beacon Hills. Most people wouldn’t think so, because what could be so scary about sweet Mrs. Stilinski the librarian, and her best friend, brilliant Mrs. Hale the district attorney?
Of course, most people also didn’t know was that Talia was one of the most powerful Alpha werewolves in the country, and Claudia was an emissary gifted with insane levels of magical talent.
Naturally, the two were incredibly close friends. Two such women couldn’t possibly be anything but, for they were too similar in all the right ways.
Today, Talia was explaining a tradition her family had held about arranging marriages for at least one of their children with either a higher-ranking beta from another pack or a magical being, such as an emissary.
“It didn’t quite work out for our generation, of course. You have Johnny, I wasn’t particularly interested in marrying you, and Peter went and picked his own mate and refused to even consider marrying anyone else. Thankfully, Isabelle fits the high-ranking beta qualification,” she was saying.
“Well,” Claudia grinned, “I don’t see any reason why we can’t try to arrange it for our kids. We won’t force them, though, right?”
“No, no,” she laughed. “But little -”
“Stiles,” cuts Claudia, snickering, “he insists on being called that now. I can’t exactly complain, I gave him my Dad’s name and nobody else can pronounce it.”
“It is ridiculously unpronounceable,” she agrees. “But who will he marry? Laura has a boyfriend, and she’ll throw a fit at the idea of us picking the alpha’s mate for her.”
“Maybe Cora? Or even Derek. Or we could ask them.”
Once they’ve called the kids in and explained the tradition of arranged marriage for the children of the Hale Alpha, fifteen-year-old Laura immediately cuts in:
“Nope, no, you do not get to pick out my boyfriend. Or husband. Absolutely not.”
Talia smiles. “We know, sweetheart. We were thinking maybe the others?”
Cora frowns. “Nope. Don’t wanna marry Stiles, he talks too much.”
“You sure, Cora?” asks Claudia. She shakes her head firmly. “Okay then.”
“I wouldn’t mind, I guess,” Derek mutters shyly. Stiles, who had been uncharacteristically quiet thus far, beamed at him.
“You wanna marry me?”
“I-it’d be okay,” he stammered.
Their mothers laughed. “Alright, then, Der baby,” Talia said. Next thing they knew, Stiles had grabbed Derek’s hand and was dragging him away to go do puzzles.
Their parents – all four of them – had discussed the whole thing properly later, talking with the boys in detail about marriage (no, not those details). When John had asked Stiles if he was sure he wanted to marry Derek and not some pretty girl, he had shrugged, blushing, and said, “Derek’s plenty pretty, and he wants to marry me, so that’s enough for me.” That was also enough for them to seal the deal.
Derek met her five years later.
She was tall and sharp and hot like burning. She was also twice his age.
Kathy flirted with him a lot, even more than those girls his year who made googly eyes at the whole basketball team and sat at their practices stinking up the court with arousal. It was incredibly flattering, but Derek was getting a little uncomfortable, considering that, one, she was twice his age, and two, he was engaged. Surely she would have heard him tell the girls who kept trying to ask him out that “sorry, but I’m spoken for, no use dating,” and grin at them apologetically and pawn them off on his teammates.
He did exactly that – minus the pawning off on his teammates because twice his age – when she asked him to stay after the class she was substitute teaching and tried to climb into his lap. Kathy wasn’t pleased.
“Spoken for? How does a sixteen-year-old boy wind up spoken for? Did you, what, knock someone up and have to answer for it, is that it?”
He chokes and pushes away the hand that was travelling up his thigh. Seriously. “No, it’s a family tradition thing. My mom and her best friend arranged for me to marry her son,” emphasizing that last word, thinking maybe she’d leave him alone if she thought he was gay, “and also I’m just fifteen. You know, half your age,” he added, wincing. He knew you shouldn’t ever bring up a woman’s age if she was above twenty, but if it got her away from him, good.
She raises her eyebrows, unfazed by the reference to her age. “And that’s okay with you, sweetie? Letting them…dictate your life like that?”
He shrugs. “He’s really sweet, and pretty, and smart – and I don’t mind.”
She looks disappointed. “Shame,” she murmurs, “depriving the panting female population of, well, you.” She gets up, finally, and leaves. He bolts out the door as fast as he’s allowed to go in public.
Thankfully, there was no practice that day – maybe it was why she had picked that day to corner him? – so he drove straight to Stiles’ house, where he knew his mom would probably be by then.
Stiles lit up the moment he walked in. “Derek! Hi!” He got up and ran to greet him, but stopped in his tracks. “What’s wrong?”
Derek tried to smile as he closed the gap to hug him. “I have to talk to my mom. She’s here, right?”
“I’m in the kitchen!” Talia calls.
Stiles’ eyes narrow. “You’re not answering the question. You aren’t okay, so what’s wrong?”
Derek sighs. “I’m not sure if you’ll be allowed to listen if I say this in the kitchen, so okay. The substitute teacher tried to kiss me today, and I noticed she smelled like smoke and gunpowder…and aconitce.”
“What,” growled his mother. She stalked into the living room eyes blazing red and claws out, Claudia right behind her. “What is she called? What does she look like? What did she do?”
Derek looked down, afraid and ashamed. “She said her name is Kathy de la Salle, she’s tall and athletic, long blonde hair, around thirty years old.”
“Look at me, Derek. Did that whore try to touch you?” He looks away again. “Damn it! Damn her!” Talia snarls. “Let me go, Claudia, I’ll rip her to shreds-”
“I pushed her away, mom, calm down, please? I told her I was spoken for and gay and too young for her and she left me alone so I ran straight here,” Derek babbled. The sadness and horror in his voice gave Talia pause. She cupped his face in her clawed hands and looked him long and searching in the eyes.
“I’ll make it okay, Derek,” she promised. “I’ll make it right.”
A week later, a hunter and a small group of hired men set fire to the Hale house in a failed attempt to kill the family. Claudia fortunately arrived in time to break the barrier of mountain ash and wolfsbane placed around the house, getting everyone out with minimal injuries. The arsonists tried to run when they saw that the line had been broken, but they didn’t get very far before the wolves caught up to them and dragged them back to their alpha, clawed and bitten and beaten into submission. Talia had to be held back again from ripping the leader to pieces and actually killing her before human justice could be served.
Two weeks later, Katherine Argent, who had called herself Kathy de la Salle, was in prison for sexual harassment of a minor, arson, and ten counts of attempted murder. At the trial, she sat black and blue where her skin wasn’t covered in slowly healing claw marks. Mountain lions, she had said. If it wasn’t actually mountain lions, well, nobody would have offered her any sympathy anyway.
The third day in prison, she was visited by Talia Hale, who smirked at her with a feral hatred in her eyes.
“Hello, Alpha Hale,” Kate greeted her from across the table.
“Proud and a fighter even when you’ve already lost,” she remarked. “And you have no idea just how much you’ve lost.”
“I’m in prison. The future Matriarch of the Argent clan, locked away for life, and even my father can’t break me out of here. I think I know.”
Talia shook her head. “Even that won’t compare to what I’m going to do to you, Kate-,” she spat the name out. “A hunter’s worst nightmare. Have you any idea yet?”
Her eyes widened. “You wouldn’t,” she whimpered. “No, no, don’t!”
Talia laughed humorlessly. “You’re begging me now? You tried to murder my pack, you soulless monster, I have no mercy to spare for you.”
“You can’t do that – the cameras – the guards! They’ll see you and they’ll know! My father – my brother – they’ll kill you!”
Her eyes flashed red. “You have no idea how influential I am,” she smiled, stalking around the table to where Kate was cuffed to it, “and no idea how powerful my emissary is.”
She yanked her up by the hair, exposing the nape of her neck. As she plunged her claws into Kate’s spine, hissed, “you will feel how we all suffered as we burned, and when the pain and terror leaves you, I,” one claw sank home, “will,” and another, “Bite,” the next, “you.” All four claws were deep, and she watched the horror in Kate’s eyes with vindictive satisfaction.
When the pain had left her, Talia took her forearm. Looking the horrified hunter in the eyes, she smiled and sank her fangs into her wrist.
She dropped Kate and left her sobbing on the floor by the chair. She had finally been broken.
Talia smiled as she resumed her seat, tossing a silver knife at the writhing lump. She watched her and waited for her to die.
Chapter 2: Pilot/The Fiancé
Derek and Laura come back to Beacon Hills.
The phone ringing snapped Lydia out of the daze Jackson's mouth put her in, and she pushed him away, grumbling.
"This had better be important, Stiles," she snapped.
"Help I'm freaking out because my fiancé is coming back to town for the first time in AGES, like, the last time I saw him my voice hadn't broken yet, Lydia! What do I do, what if he thinks I'm too scrawny and annoying and pathetic and calls it off, what if he hates me now, what if he's actually totally straight and just figured that out now, oh god what if he's in love with someone else, Lyds, what if-"
"Okay, STOP," she said. "Calm the hell down, Stiles, breathe. Did Derek say why he's coming back? Is he going on his own or is Laura coming with? When do they get here? Are they flying or driving?"
He was taking gasping breaths, slowing down. "Their uncle Peter, his wife had the baby the other day. Laura's driving them, they should be here by mid-afternoon."
She hummed for a moment, replied, "I'm coming over, make me some tea," and hung up.
Jackson scowled at the phone. "Really?”
"Oh, shush," she rolled her eyes. "Come pick me up at seven-thirty tomorrow." She pushed him out of her room and, after taking one final look at her first-day-back outfit, grabbed a purse and left.
Lydia and Stiles became friends when they were twelve and Lydia noticed the existence of a boy who knew just how smart she was, someone who could be her equal, and who adored her, without wanting in her pants. He was, she noted, actually almost disinterested, just admiring the scenery but not actively desiring her. When she had asked about this, he told her about his fiancé. Lydia found it intriguing and even a little romantic. Stiles obviously did love Derek, but it wasn’t the bright-hot, short-lived, high-schoolish passion that so many of their friends have. They had something more like what an actual married couple had – they were a fact of life for each other, and they couldn’t even imagine not being in each others’ lives - and it was kind of sweet.
When she arrived, Stiles was hyperventilating. She sighed. "Have you taken your Adderall?"
He shook his head. "Forgot. Too nervous."
"Go take one, then sit down and listen to me." As he did so, she continued, "Stiles, the two of you skype regularly, so I know he knows how you look and sound now, and I don't think you've done anything to make him hate you. And has Derek actually given you any reason to doubt that he still wants to marry you? And indication at all?" Stiles shook his head. "Then I'm pretty sure your engagement is still on." She then pulled out the chess set and started a game to calm him down, as was their habit, until it was time for her to leave.
The next day, Stiles was still fidgeting endlessly, but this time it was due to excitement rather than nerves. Okay, maybe a little bit because of nerves.
"Are you alright?" Scott asked worriedly.
"I'm fine, just really excited. A bit nervous."
“Me too! I really want to make first line this year."
"Well, it's good to have a goal. Even a pathetically unrealistic one.”
“Very funny," he grumbled. "Don't you want to make first line? To actually play a game?"
He shook his head. "I might actually quit this year. It's not as if I ever play."
"Why are you so nervous then?"
Stiles inhaled deeply, trying to steady himself. "My fiancé is coming back to town."
Scott stopped to consider. "Yeah, you win this one. That's scarier."
Scott had spent first period staring at the new girl and Stiles had spent it twitching nervously. At the lockers before lunch, Lydia started to make friends with the new girl, Allison, while Stiles watched Scott stare at her and actually sigh dramatically, and shook his head. (Hand her a pen, Cora had told Scott. She’ll like it. Match) Well, he didn’t want to watch his best friend pine from afar, so he grabbed him and walked over to the two girls.
"Lyds," he whined.
She turned to face them. Lydia looked Scott over calculatingly, and sent Stiles an unimpressed look, but played along. "Still nervous?"
"Excited. Nervous. Bit insecure."
"Come along then," she sighed. "Allison, this is Stiles Stilinski, and the tall puppy is Scott McCall."
"We've met," she smiled uncertainly. "Scott lent me a pen, I forgot mine this morning."
"I see," Lydia replied neutrally. "Come sit with us, Allison?"
"What's got you twitchier than normal today?" asked Danny as he took the remaining space next to Stiles.
"Derek and Laura are coming back to town today," replied Stiles around a mouthful of food. Lydia wrinkled her nose at him. He ignored her.
"Who are they?" Allison asked.
"Cora’s older siblings. Stiles' fiancé and his sister," Lydia told her. "Now, Stiles, what exactly is it that's got you insecure this time?"
Stiles took out his phone, looking for a picture, and then handed it to her. "I look like, well, me. My fiancé looks like THAT."
"Wait - fiancé?" Danny cut in. "How are you engaged?"
Stiles sighed, eyes on his tray. "Our moms set it up when I was five and he was ten," he explained. "They wanted me to marry one of Mrs. Hale's kids. Laura had a boyfriend, Cora thought I was annoying, but Derek said he wouldn't mind marrying me. As for me, well,” he smiled almost shyly, running a hand through his hair, “he was sweet and pretty and actually volunteered to marry me, and he actually put up with me even before I was properly medicated, so why not?"
Danny's eyebrows flew up. "I thought that was just a rumor. So when you asked if I find you attractive..."
"I was, in fact, actually wondering whether my fiancé would find me attractive, yes," Stiles nodded, gesticulating in mild irritation. "Especially since - well, Lydia, show him."
Danny took the phone, intrigued. His eyes widened. "Whoa."
Stiles nodded. "I know." Danny was still staring. "You can give me my phone back now, Danny." Danny's head snapped up, and he handed it back with no little awe in his eyes.
“Can you stop with the objectifying my brother now?” Cora whined.
“Wait, so you’re going to have an arranged marriage?” asked Allison almost incredulously.
Stiles nodded and ignored the disbelief. He was used to it by then.
“Not like anyone else would marry you, Stilinski,” muttered Jackson.
“At least there’s someone who actually wants to marry me,” he snaps back.
“I think it’s very sweet,” interrupted Lydia. “Don’t you agree, Allison?”
She hesitates for a moment, and then nods thoughtfully. “I wasn’t very sure, I mean, I didn’t think people still did that, but you do really like him, I guess,” she says slowly. “And this means you’ve been together for like eleven years, which is really cute. I mean, I’ve never been able to keep a boyfriend for eleven weeks, never mind eleven years,” she chuckled nervously.
“Exactly! But we’ve already talked about this, Stiles,” said Lydia, “you have no reason to be insecure. The two of you talk on Skype how often?”
“A few times a week.”
“Almost every day,” Scott corrected.
“Which means he’s under no illusions about your appearance,” Lydia nodded. “He doesn’t expect you to have a bodybuilder’s frame. And doesn't he ever say anything about your appearance?”
The blush reappeared. “Well, yeah.”
“And?” She raised a brow impatiently.
“Apparently I need to dress nicer and I’m lean and I have nice eyes or something,” Stiles mumbled.
She smirked. “He said something about your mouth again last time, didn’t he.”
“Wha – how did you even know about that!” he gaped.
She rolled her eyes and turned to talk to Allison.
Later that day, when Stiles was sitting with Cora, Lydia, and Allison watching the team hurl balls at Scott (poor guy really needed to work on his coordination, but who was Stiles to talk?), Cora looked up to grin at Stiles. "Laura's been mocking Derek about being more excited to see you than the baby since they left New York." She added, too low for the other girls to hear, "she still hasn't stopped."
Stiles looked at her sharply. "They're here?" he whispered. She nodded.
"Hey guys," she said to the others, "look over there. " She pointed in the direction of the parking lot, where Laura and Derek were getting out of the Camaro.
Stiles took off and ran towards them, and Derek walked to meet him. They stood there for a moment, just staring, until Stiles broke the silence.
“Creeper,” Stiles greeted his fiancé with a grin.
Derek grinned right back at him. “Mouthy.”