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            It wasn’t like Stiles wasn’t expecting it, nor was he surprised by the determination in Scott’s stance or the anger in his eyes. Scott was his best friend, and Stiles had been avoiding him - had been avoiding everyone - for almost three weeks now. He’d been very successful at dodging questions the first week, saying he was ill and didn’t want to give it to anyone else. Even his dad had grudgingly kept up the facade by turning away anyone who came to visit; and they did visit, almost everyone from the pack had turned up at some point.

            Part of him was grateful that he had so many people who cared what happened to him, but a part of him also knew that what had happened with the nogitsune the year before had left a mark on everyone’s ability to trust one another. So even though he was hiding, he’d kept in contact as best as he could, Skyping with Scott in the evenings and texting Lydia a couple of times with questions.

            The second week had been more difficult. He was grateful that school was not yet in, because that would have made it impossible to stay away from the others. Being ‘sick’ would only cover so much time before people got really worried, so he’d had to take time off from his project to meet the others for a movie night. It was terrible; the entire time he could feel that press of presence watching over his shoulder, silently insistent that they get back to work.

            It wasn’t like he felt no guilt over what he was doing, but he also knew it wasn’t wrong. The prickle of guilt over keeping his newest companion a secret had faded with every lesson. Stiles was learning. He was learning a lot, actually, and it always felt like there was more the creature that visited him could teach him. That couldn’t be bad, he told the part of himself that asked: then why haven’t you told them?

            He was going to tell the others, especially Scott. He was. He’d meant to, for a week now, but every time he thought about it, there was always something he didn’t quite have a grasp upon, and he found a way to put it off again.

            There was no more putting it off, though, not with Scott standing in his doorway and his father leaving them alone with the phrase “You should probably tell him” hanging in the air between them.

            “Tell me what?” Scott asked, planting his feet. It was weird to see, now. Three weeks ago, Stiles would have known that there was no way he could muscle past Scott. Now, he knew he didn’t have to.

            “You might want to sit down,” he said quietly.

            There was a moment where Stiles thought Scott wouldn’t listen, would maybe stomp his foot and demand Stiles talk to him, but they were past that, so far past that. Instead, he just closed the door behind himself, and took a seat on the edge of Stiles’ bed.

Stiles ran a hand over his face, then through his hair, settling back in his computer chair as he scraped for a reasonable way to begin. He wasn’t sure Scott would believe him, no matter what he said. Even with werewolves and kanimas and kitsune and darachs, this was… far-fetched.

            “I’m sorry I’ve been avoiding you,” he began. That was safe, or at least safer.

Scott hopped to his feet. “I knew it! I knew you were avoiding us. Did we do something wrong? Are you okay? Is it-”

           Holding up both hands to quiet him, Stiles shook his head. “You didn’t do anything wrong, none of you, and I’m fine, really. I’m not dying, or possessed, or anything like that, okay?”

            “Okay,” Scott agreed, reluctantly sitting back down. “But then, why?”

            “Someone… came to visit,” Stiles said slowly, trying to choose words that wouldn’t alarm his friend. That wouldn’t supernaturally alarm him. “Someone that knew my mom.”

            “Oh,” Scott said, suddenly subdued. They didn’t talk about Stiles’ mom, especially after the whole dementia scare the nogitsune had given them.

            “Yeah,” Stiles said. He took a deep breath and then decided it would just be easier to go for it. “He’s an angel.”

            Stiles watched Scott nodding, and realized before he even opened his mouth that Scott didn’t understand. “I’m glad he was nice.”

            “I mean, a literal angel,” Stiles said, watching carefully for the epiphany to dawn. “Werewolves, kanimas, kitsunes… angel.”

            There it was, the widening of his eyes, the way his body stiffened at the implication. “Like, halos and wings and servants of God, angel?”

            “Well, halos and wings anyway,” Stiles admitted. “Apparently god’s gone missing. His name is Castiel.”

            “God’s name is Castiel?” Scott echoed, confused.

            “What? No,” Stiles said, giving Scott a look. “The angel.”

            Scott just stared at him. Stiles knew the look; he was trying to determine if it was worth the incoming headache to try to include yet another supernatural creature into lives already jam-packed with the weird and scary. “Okay,” he said at last. “So, an angel that knew your mom came to town. I assume you’ve considered he could be dangerous?”

            “Oh, he’s dangerous,” Stiles said. “But he’s on our side. Well, humanity’s side. Sort of. It doesn’t matter.” He waved his hands, dismissing the subject of the angel’s alignment. “The point is that he had some stuff he needed to teach me.”

            The words lay strung out between them as Scott considered everything that could mean. Stiles knew he would get it, knew that he would make the connection and, sure enough, a moment later Scott straightened up again. “Oh! Your mom! He knew your mom, does that mean…?”

            Stiles nodded, throat catching on whatever response he might have given otherwise.

            “So that means you…” Scott trailed off, eyes widening even more. “You’re an angel?”

            “Nephilim,” Stiles corrected, then shrugged. “Technically. It means I’m only half.”

            That had been something of an experience for him. Maybe he hadn’t been exactly minding his own business, but he certainly hadn’t been investigating any angel business the day Castiel had shown up on his doorstep.

            For some reason, Stiles had thought angels would be more impressive, more mighty or holy, but the man that had gruffly proclaimed himself an angel and Stiles a half-angel had been… well, ordinary. If he hadn’t then proceeded to manifest a stunning set of dark, rumpled wings where all the neighbors could see, Stiles would have guessed he was a tax accountant. An extremely grouchy tax accountant.

            As it was, Stiles had had to herd the man indoors as quickly as possible, closing the blinds and drawing the attention of his father from the kitchen. His father had become accustomed to a great many things since Stiles had dumped the truth about the supernatural into his lap. The existence of angels didn’t seem to come as any particular surprise to him. The fact that Claudia had, in fact, been an angel possessing a young human woman, was much more of an ordeal.

            Frontotemporal dementia, as it turned out, looked an awful lot like angel possession to an MRI machine. Where an angel’s Grace resided, a dark space appeared. Stiles thought it was particularly ironic; one of the most brightly illuminating substances in heaven and earth, leaving a dark mark where it touched. Castiel didn’t seem to find it funny. Castiel didn’t seem to find much at all very funny, as Stiles found out.

            “That’s… a lot,” Scott said when Stiles told him as much. “So this guy… Castiel. He’s been, like, teaching you angel stuff?”

            “Kind of,” Stiles said. “He’s been… showing me how to do some angel stuff, I guess.”

            “What stuff?” Scott demanded. Stiles could tell how worried he was, and knew that it was justified, especially after everything with the dark fox.

            “Nothing bad,” Stiles assured him, then grinned a little. “Actually, do you wanna see?”

            He could practically see the way excitement sparked inside of Scott, despite the obvious way he was trying to stay angry at Stiles. “You know I do,” he said in a little bit of a rush.

Stiles’ grin widened, and Scott returned it this time. “Okay, stand back, because I’m still… learning.”

            Scott scrambled up, clearly uncertain what Stiles was going to do, and put his back to the far wall. He nodded when Stiles asked if he was ready, and then Stiles closed his eyes and held out his right hand. Without a word, he gave a flick of his wrist… and nothing happened. Stiles roughed an annoyed noise in the back of his throat, and did it again with the same result.

            “It’s okay if-” Scott started.

            “I got this,” Stiles said quickly. He took a deep breath, and focused his energy as Castiel had told him to, imagining that he could see what he wanted actually happening. This time when he flicked his wrist, a long, slender blade slid into it, the three edges it had glittering in the shaft of afternoon sun beaming in from his window.

            “Ha!” he exclaimed, holding it aloft in triumph.

            “A dagger?” Scott asked. He didn’t move until Stiles nodded and beckoned him over.

            “It’s called an angel blade,” Stiles told him, passing it over. “Castiel said that every angel forges their own from their Grace -- the power source, remember? -- and can call it and put it away at will. I’m not really supposed to let anyone else touch it, but I don’t think you’ll stab me with it.”

            “What if I did?” Scott asked, gently poking Stiles in the chest with it.

            Stiles made a choked noise and practically trampled his chair to get away, his hand flying to his chest to cover the bloody mark Scott had left. “That!” he said, pressing down on the wound. “That happens!”

            “Dude, I’m so sorry!” Scott said, dropping the blade with a clatter and taking a step back. “I had no idea it was so sharp! Are you okay?”

            “I’m fine,” Stiles told him. He could already feel the flesh knitting closed, though there was no pain in it. He knew it wasn’t the same for werewolves; they felt the healing. He focused, and the blade vanished. “I guess that’s why I’m not supposed to give it to anyone.”

            “I’m really sorry,” Scott repeated, moving closer now that the blade was gone.

“It’s fine,” Stiles told him, wiping at the now-healed skin. The blood was already tacky, drying into a brown stain on his neatly cut shirt. Castiel had told him that the blades were made to kill anything- demons and angels included. He’d assumed it was by magic or something, but he was beginning to think maybe the blades were just sharp enough to cut even ethereal beings.

            “Maybe we can wait on the angel tricks,” Scott suggested.

            Stiles felt the prickle of presence, heard the flutter of wings, and nodded. “Good idea. Do you… do you want to meet him?”

            “Meet… Castiel?” Scott asked, tipping his head a little. Realization dawned in his eyes and he looked around. “Is he here?”

            “Yes,” came a voice from behind Scott, who whipped around to see. “Hello, Scott.”

            Scott looked with wide eyes at Stiles, and then stood up straight. “Hello, Castiel. You’ve been keeping my friend from me.”

            “I assure you, I have meant no harm,” Castiel said flatly. It was strange, to hear the lack of human inflection, like he wasn’t used to speaking aloud or using a human mouth. Stiles had never asked how long he’d been possessing that body. Castiel had told him once that it was empty of a human soul, but hadn’t explained how the vessel had come to be that way. “There was a lot he needed to learn, and some of it was… dangerous. As you have proven.”

            “Neither of us knew,” Stiles said before Scott could defend himself. Castiel gave him an unimpressed look. “Now we do. See, Scott’s teaching me, too. We’re like one big teaching family.”

            Castiel looked between the two of them as if trying to determine the ruse, but both boys just stared back very seriously. He nodded once. “My human friends have taught me a lot as well.”

            Scott and Stiles exchanged a glance, and then Scott let out his breath. “Stiles can’t keep being away from us like this,” he said quietly. “We were all very worried about him.”

            “I was concerned that he had… aligned himself with you and your friends,” Castiel admitted, glancing to Stiles and then back to Scott. He shifted like he was uncomfortable in his skin, and Stiles wondered if that might actually be true. He wondered how it felt, to be as enormous a creature as Castiel was in his true form, and yet be squeezed into one little human. “My previous experiences with werewolves have been very different.”

            Stiles reached out, placing a warm hand on Scott’s shoulder to keep him in place before he said his next words. “Castiel works with a pair of hunters, usually, but he’s agreed not to hunt anyone here.”

            “You and your pack are… different,” Castiel said, as though that explained everything. He tipped his head. “I believe my friends would be interested in meeting you, but it would probably not be wise.”

            “I’ve had enough hunters in my life,” Scott assured him.

            “We don’t kill them,” Stiles added hastily. Then he patted Scott’s back and flashed a smile that changed the subject for him. “We should hang out.”

            “Human social activities?” Castiel asked as Scott gave Stiles an incredulous look for suggesting they hang out with an angel.

            “It sounds really weird when you say it like that,” Stiles said, squinting just a little at Castiel. “But yeah, like, go get food or something. I’m sure Scott has questions, and we were supposed to be practicing… stuff.”

            He paused, searching for something that would entice the angel to stick around. He wanted Scott to be able to talk to him, wanted to be able to share all of this with his friends now that it was in the open with Scott. He needed Scott on his side, to understand that Castiel was not bad, and that Stiles wasn’t in any danger.

            “We can practice Enochian!” Stiles said brightly. A smile touched Castiel’s lips at the mention of their now-shared language. “I can… maybe you can help me put the protection poem on Scott?”

            Castiel looked to Scott, then back to Stiles. “He is a werewolf.”

            “Yeah but-” Stiles protested. Werewolves couldn’t fight angels. They’d had enough trouble fighting other werewolves and physical beings that came to pick a fight.

            “He’ll heal,” Castiel said, interrupting whatever Stiles had meant to say. “But perhaps a tattoo could work for him, as it worked for me, once.”

Stiles looked a little faint at the mention of another tattoo for Scott. The first one had been such an ordeal. He knew he wouldn’t be able to hold the blowtorch like Derek had done, to sear the special ink into Scott’s skin. They would have to get Derek to do it again, which meant the older wolf would have to find out about… everything.

            “Maybe just burgers, for today,” Stiles amended. Burgers were safe. No needles or burning or passing out for anyone, just delicious beef and cheese.

 


 

            Scott groaned, bumping his head back against the headrest of the passenger seat in Stiles’ Jeep. “No more Enochian,” he pleaded. Stiles just laughed as Castiel leaned forward so that he could be heard.

            “I apologize,” he said very seriously. “It has been a long time since I was able to joke with another who understands.”

            “How did you even learn that language?” Scott asked. The two had been going back and forth for the past fifteen minutes, and Scott was getting a little bored of it. He didn’t understand the script Castiel had burned into the skin over his ribs, or the jokes they were telling.

            “Remember how I said my mom’s Grace got- how she gave it to me before she died?” Stiles asked. When Scott nodded, glancing in the rearview mirror to see Castiel, Stiles continued. “Well, memories and stuff were linked with the Grace. I didn’t…”

            “I was able to show Stiles the portion of his Grace that contained our language,” Castiel said, when Stiles just trailed off, shoulders tensing a little. That was something Scott was really going to have to ask about later. “Technically he did not learn the language; if I were to remove his mother’s Grace, he would lose access to the memory of the language.”

            “Did he need it to learn, you know, other angel stuff?” Scott asked curiously.

            “Not particularly,” Castiel said, shifting uncomfortably and dropping his gaze. He cleared his throat. “It wasn’t necessary at all, I just… wanted someone to talk to. The other angels… don’t really like me much.”

            “Can’t imagine why,” Scott said. Castiel’s eyes rose swiftly, catching Scott’s gaze and then softening a little. Scott smiled.

            Earlier, over cheeseburgers and seasoned fries, Castiel had told them at length about the non-apocalypse, about his endeavors fighting Raphael, and about the Leviathan that followed, released by Castiel into the world. As they wandered on foot to a nearby ice cream shop, he’d admitted to his folly regarding the Fall the angels had taken, and how as many angels blamed him as forgave him, though they had forsaken him when he had proved loyal to humanity first.

            Though both Scott and Stiles had agreed it was the right choice for Castiel to make, the angel had seemed unconvinced until Scott had reminded him gently that those who have power should work to protect those who do not. To him, the angels sounded like powerful beings who had no concern for the well-being of human kind, and Castiel seemed… better.

            “You helped those hunters stop the apocalypse, and you wanted to keep that other angel from restarting it,” Scott had told him, shrugging a little. “People make mistakes.”

            “We’ve made a lot of mistakes,” Stiles had supplied helpfully.

            “Like dragging our best friends out into the woods in the middle of the night to search for half a dead body,” Scott had said. Stiles just rolled his eyes.

            They had finished their ice cream and Castiel had made Stiles relocate them to the Jeep through the veil. Scott hated traveling that way, he found. It was cold, and the entire time it felt like there were things sliding over his skin, echoing in his ears. It was unnerving, to say the least. Before he got into the vehicle he’d made both Castiel and Stiles promise not to fly him around like that without asking permission.

            He didn’t exactly believe Stiles’ crossed heart and solemnly sworn oath, but he’d gotten into the Jeep anyway, and now they were on the way to see the others. Scott had asked them to meet him at Derek’s loft, partly because it was more than large enough to accommodate them all, and partly because Derek, Erica, and Boyd were already there. Allison and Lydia were already out together, and they had agreed to swing by and pick up Kira and Isaac in order to meet them.

            Stiles pulled up beside Allison’s car and gave Scott a nervous look. Anyone else might have thought it was a smile, but Scott knew better. “It’ll be okay,” Scott reassured him. “This isn’t like the nogitsune. You’re still you. They’ll understand.”

            After a deep breath, Stiles nodded, and they all got out and headed into the building. The others were waiting for them at the top floor, already in the hallway. Any would-be enthusiastic greetings were cut short when the pack caught sight of Castiel standing in the ancient elevator behind them.

            “We should move this inside,” Derek suggested before anyone could even ask who Castiel was. The last time the hallway had seen someone not intending to visit Derek was probably years ago, but it still felt more exposed than the confines of the loft and whatever security the large, metal door could provide.

            With nervous glances traded all around, they all drifted into the loft and Scott drew the door shut in their wake. The moment silence settled, he held out one hand to motion to Castiel. “This is Castiel,” he said. “He’s a friend, and an angel.”

            “Like, a nice guy angel or a wings-and-halo angel?” Kira asked hesitantly.

            “Wings and halo,” Stiles confirmed. “He came to find me because apparently my mother was an angel too.”

            Scott winced, because there were probably a hundred more delicate ways to give that information to the group, but Stiles had never been delicate about dumping information on them. “Castiel is on our side, and Stiles is still… Stiles.”

            “You checked?” Allison asked. She had kept her eyes on Stiles the entire time, and Scott couldn’t blame her; she had come the closest to death when Stiles had been taken over by the nogitsune.

            “He checked,” Castiel assured her in a gravelly tone, drawing all of their attention. “Though I can teach you all a few less harmful ways to test for various supernatural creatures than knives forged in kitsune fire.”

            “And why should we trust you?” Derek asked flatly, crossing his arms. Scott sighed, and stepped into the middle of everyone.

            “No fighting,” Scott told them all seriously. “I think we’ve had enough fighting amongst ourselves to last an entire lifetime, don’t you?”

            To his surprise, Isaac shuffled forward a little, and held out his hand to Castiel. “It’s nice to meet you, Castiel. My name’s Isaac.”

            Castiel awkwardly took the offered hand, as though the gesture was one only recently learned, and a smile graced his lips. “It is a pleasure to meet you, all of you, as well.”

            When they separated, Erica cleared her throat. “So, if your mom was an angel, does that make you an angel or a half angel?”

            “It’s called nephilim,” Stiles responded, forcing a smile. “I guess it’s like a half angel. I can’t do all the things a real angel can do, but I can do a lot of cool things.”

            “Like what?” Boyd asked. He didn’t sound impressed. Scott wondered, not for the first time, if there was anything that actually impressed him.

            Stiles glanced to Castiel like he was asking permission, and Castiel moved away and gestured for him to continue. Obviously whatever Stiles intended to do wasn’t going to be particularly dangerous. Scott looked between the two of them, and wondered if they were using what they had called angel radio to communicate silently. Something hot and possessive flashed under Scott’s skin, but he let it go as he stepped back as well, just in case.

            Taking a few deep breaths, Stiles closed his eyes. His nose scrunched a little in concentration, and Scott held his breath in anticipation.

            A moment later there was a rustle of noise, almost a crackle, and shadows of long, tapered wings appeared on the metal of the door behind Stiles. Allison gasped, grabbing on to Lydia’s sleeve, and Isaac backed up until he was standing beside Boyd and Erica again. Stiles didn’t move, didn’t open his eyes, and Scott knew he wasn’t done even before he saw the faint shimmer of wings in the air.

            “Wow,” Kira said, under her breath. Scott doubted anyone without werewolf hearing wouldn’t have heard it over the rustling.

            Wow was right, Scott thought, watching the soft glow radiating from the echo of Stiles’ wings. He could see the rest of the room through them still, but he could also the the outlines of feathers, just a dusting of golden-brown light the shade of Stiles’ eyes. They had always been there, Castiel had explained earlier. They had always been there but they existed on the same plane of existence as angels- in the Veil. Bringing them to view in this plane of existence was difficult and potentially dangerous.

            “That’s enough,” Castiel said, and the light disappeared, plunging the loft into a dimness that seemed deeper than before angelic light had touched it.

            “You’re really an angel,” Allison said.

            “Yeah,” Stiles said quietly. Despite the small, forced laugh Stiles gave, Scott knew that tone; he was awaiting judgment. He was expecting his friends to reject him, and Scott realized for the first time why he had been avoiding them since Castiel’s arrival.

Lydia snorted, and shook her head, tossing her hair over her shoulder. “It’s about time you joined the club,” she said.

            This time, Stiles’ laugh was genuine.

 


 

            Stiles lay on his bed later that night, a musty book open face-down on his chest and his hands tucked behind his head. Across the room, he could hear Scott still fiddling with the container of holy oil that Castiel had left in their care, saying that it was one of the few things which could contain - and thus neutralize - any angels who may wish anyone in their pack harm. They were supposed to be studying it, but after Stiles had gotten some on his skin and spent the next hour itching worse than the time he’d gotten poison ivy, they had stoppered the clay bottle.

            His trinity blade lay on the desk behind his keyboard, beside another stack of books that Stiles was supposed to be reading whenever Castiel was off doing Castiel things rather than helping Stiles in person. Scott had offered to help him read them aloud, but Stiles had pointed out that most of them were in another language. Scott had suggested Stiles read them aloud instead.

            They had made it about seven pages into the book currently overturned on his chest before neither of them could take the dry, boring text. Stiles had practiced a little with summoning his blade, but there was only so much calling forth god-forged weaponry he could take before it, too, became monotonous.

            “I bet Lydia could figure out how to make this,” Scott said from the floor. Stiles scooted until he could see his best friend. “I’m sure there’s a formula.”

            “I’m pretty sure it’s like ancient Egyptian god-blessed magic oil,” Stiles said.

            “It doesn’t sound like God had much to do with human interaction,” Scott replied, setting the bottle on the floor. “So it’s probably some kind of ancient attempt at alchemy.”

            “Which is chemistry… with magic,” Stiles said.

            Scott rolled his eyes. “Then Lydia and Deaton can figure it out together, I’m sure.” When Stiles gave no response, Scott turned to look at him. Their eyes met, though Stiles found he could only hold his gaze for a moment. He didn’t have to be looking at Scott to see the concerned face he made. “What’s wrong?”

            Sighing, Stiles picked at the edge of the book on chest, and then picked it up enough to close it. “Nothing,” he said.

            “Bullshit,” Scott replied immediately. Stiles had expected that, so he just lobbed the book at his desk chair and covered his eyes with the heels of both palms.

            “You know how Castiel said he unlocked Enochian for me?” he said haltingly. He wanted to tell Scott everything all at once, but he was dreading saying aloud what came next. Scott made an affirming noise, and Stiles pressed against his eyes, causing blue-green stars to appear in the darkness. “He- he gave me access to other stuff, too.”

            “Like what stuff?” Scott asked, sitting up a little straighter.

            “Like… some of my mom’s memories,” Stiles admitted. “Memories of… us, I think. Me and her. Me and dad and her. I don’t know.”

            “How do you not know?” Scott said, tipping his head a little.

            Stiles gurgled a noise of frustration, and dropped his hands back to the bed, looking up at the ceiling. Of course, he should know. He should have wanted to delve into the memories, to see every last second of his mother that she had left behind for him. Maybe that was the whole point of giving up her Grace- she was dying, and she wanted to leave him with something that he would hopefully one day understand. Leave an actual piece of herself for him.

            He should want to see all of that, to know everything.

            “I’m scared,” he said, so low Scott wouldn’t have heard it as a human. Stiles scrunched his noise, and shook his head a little. “I don’t know what I’ll find, and I’m scared it- I remember her a certain way. I was a kid, and I remember her as a kid. What if what I remember isn’t… real?”

            Scott studied him for a moment, chocolate-brown eyes just tracing over and over his face. There wasn’t judgment, at least not of Stiles; he knew Scott was taking everything into consideration, turning it over in his head, and looking for some sort of solution.

            “Isn’t it worse not to know?” asked Scott finally. “After everything that’s messed around with your head… wouldn’t knowing the truth be better? Knowing what’s real?”

            Stiles swallowed. There was that, of course- the reason he had even brought it up in the first place. He did want to know, at the very core of him, he wanted to know. “Yes.”

            Nodding, Scott turned his body so that he was facing Stiles, though he stayed on the floor. “Maybe I could watch with you,” he suggested, holding up his hand and letting his claws out just a little. “Peter taught me how to find memories. I don’t think I could have used it before, but you can heal now. Maybe you don’t have to do it alone.”

            His chest was tight, constricting on the breath he tried to take as he stared at Scott’s offered claws. Alpha. If he didn’t have to see the memories alone, maybe…           “Okay,” he said, before it had even registered that he was going to agree. “Okay.”

            Scott nodded, and unfolded his legs, shoving himself onto his feet. Stiles sat up as well, shuffling himself over to one side of the bed to make room for Scott, who hesitated at the edge of the bed. “We should- we should probably lay down, right? I haven’t really done this before.”

            Shrugging, Stiles motioned for Scott to get on the bed and the moment he was laying down, Stiles stretched out beside him. He bent his head, exposing the back of his neck to Scott’s grasp. Heat prickled down his spine as Scott laid a warm hand over the nap of his neck, brushing it clear a little too slowly.

            “It’ll probably hurt,” Scott murmured close to his ear. He sounded guilty, but Stiles just huffed a laugh and pressed back into the touch.

            “Just go,” Stiles told him. “I’ll be fine.” Now that he was so close to seeing whatever his mother had left behind for him, he was almost desperate with the need to get on with it.

            He felt the deep breath Scott took and for just a moment, he was acutely aware of all the space that was not between them. Then the sharp pain of claws splitting his skin shot through him, and the world went black around him.

 


 

            Gasping, Stiles struggled upright, the feel of Scott’s claws sliding from his neck a pain so distant it barely registered. Scott was up an instant later, grabbing hold of his arm before he could topple out of the bed, and for a long few minutes they just stayed like that, gulping in breath and struggling to put themselves back into their own minds.

            “The fuck was that?” Stiles breathed out at last, looking down at Scott over his shoulder.

            “Death,” Scott said with a little shudder, staring blankly up at the ceiling. His voice trembled, shaky, and Stiles dimly recalled hearing it do the same.

            “You’ve felt that before,” he said.

            Scott nodded. “When you… yeah, I felt it before. It’s no less shocking. Why would she leave you that…?”

            “Because,” Stiles said, turning back around and looking at his hands in his lap. “Because I was there.” He laid back, resting his head on Scott’s arm. “I was holding her hand when the monitors flat-lined.”

            Somewhere in the back of his mind, he had known that he was there, and what had happened. He was nine years old, and he didn’t remember a lot about what happened after that, but he remembered that. He remembered the feel of muscles going slack in death, and he remembered the endless, droning tone a moment before the world burst into a flurry of action. He remembered the heat of tears streaming down his face, and the feel of his throat going raw from wailing.

            “You were her last thought,” Scott mumbled, sounding a little mystified. Stiles wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be a statement or a reassurance. He wasn’t sure it mattered which. “Giving her Grace to you was her last thought.”

            “Yeah,” Stiles agreed, feeling small. He let Scott take his hand, and for a time they sat still, Stiles letting his mind roam over the memories. The gentle moments where she sung him to sleep as a baby. Watching his own first steps, and feeling the same swell of pride his mother felt. Watching himself draw pictures for his mother, seated in the crook of her arm, babbling to her about what he was making, and what they would do when she got out of the hospital.

            Dementia, they had called it. She spoke softly of angels and Grace, telling Stiles all of the things he would forget in the grief and panic attacks that swallowed up memories of everything before her death.

            With her memories came the memory of the fall. Of the angels cast out of heaven. Of their inability to heal from celestial illness without access to the resources of heaven.

Stiles’ fingers tightened in Scott’s, and he let himself lay back down, curling up a little closer. Scott reached out with his free hand, and brushed it over Stiles’ shoulder, down his arm. Though they exchanged no words, Stiles thought they didn’t need to; just having Scott there, knowing that he had his support, was enough.

            “I’m glad you’re here,” Stiles mumbled after a while. Scott looked like he was about to drift off, and Stiles wasn’t feeling much more awake.

            “I’m glad you’re still here,” Scott replied. He sounded as sleepy as he looked.

            “Where else would I be?” Stiles asked with a little grin. “It’s my room you’re falling asleep in, you know.”

            Scott huffed. “I don’t mean here,” he said. “I mean I’m glad you didn’t, I don’t know, leave with Castiel. Run off to do angel things.”

            At that, Stiles laughed. “You really think I’d run off with an angel?”

            “It wouldn’t be the first time you’ve done something without thinking it through,” Scott told him seriously. Stiles knew they were both thinking of the night Scott had gotten bitten by Peter. “I just don’t want to lose you.”

            Stiles propped himself up on one elbow, and Scott looked up at him, soft brown eyes so earnest Stiles couldn’t help but keep his words soft too. “I wouldn’t go without you,” he said. “I’d never go without you. I’d much rather run with wolves than angels.”

            “You could fly with them,” Scott said. “I don’t want to keep you grounded.”

            For just a heartbeat, Stiles hesitated, and then he leaned in just enough to let his nose touch Scott’s, ensuring every ounce of the other boy’s attention was on him. “You do keep me grounded,” he murmured. “And that’s good. That’s really good. I hope you keep me grounded forever.”

            “Forever’s a long time,” Scott replied, licking his lips nervously. He didn’t pull away, though, and Stiles smiled.

            “Is that okay with you?” Stiles asked. “Because it’s okay with me. I don’t plan on running off with anyone else. You’re the only angel I need.”

            Scott tipped his head a little. “Do you think angels are allowed to be in wolf packs?”

            Stiles huffed a little laugh. “You’re the true alpha,” he said. “I think you get to make up the rules for your pack. So, will you have me?”

            “Forever,” he whispered, and before Stiles could say anything else, Scott closed the distance between them, pressing his lips to Stiles’.

 


 

           Golden dawn light was pouring into his bedroom when Stiles finally opened his eyes. Scott was curled up against him, head pillowed on his arm, his sleep-mussed hair tickling Stiles’ nose. A lazy, pleased smile crept onto his lips. This was right. This was perfect.

            He was just about to close his eyes when the muffled rustle of feathers drew his attention. Letting his head loll to the side, he found Castiel standing between his bed and the window.

           “Morning,” he mumbled, voice sleep-rough. Scott stirred, and, though he didn’t wake, Stiles switched to silent mode. Can we delay training today? I have a lot of things to work out with him.

            Castiel’s blue gaze shifted to take in the sleeping werewolf in Stiles’ arms. I’ve located another nephilim.

            Oh, was all Stiles could think to say. If Castiel had found another like him, then that person would require the same help Stiles had received. Judging by the way Castiel held himself, he wasn’t here to say they were only cutting their training time down some. I suppose that makes this goodbye?

            Not forever, Castiel replied. You may reach me like this no matter where we are. If you need help, I will come, but I suspect that you will not. He nodded toward Scott. You are fortunate, Stiles. You have many people here to take care of, but they have shown that they will also care for you.

            Yeah, Stiles agreed, smile warm. You know, if you ever need us, you can call. We’re not much, but we’d do what we could.

           Thank you, Castiel said. They both knew that he wouldn’t ask for help, but Stiles felt better knowing he had offered.

            Thank you, Stiles said in return. Stay safe, Castiel.

            For just a moment longer, Castiel stood looking at him, and then Stiles watched him spread coal-black wings. There were no real goodbyes; there were few places either of them could go that the other couldn’t get to within minutes. So, when Castiel simply disappeared from view, Stiles just put his hand on Scott’s elbow and snuggled back down into the covers.

            “He’s gone now, isn’t he,” Scott said, like he already knew the answer. He sounded like he was still half asleep.

            Stiles made a noise of agreement and closed his eyes. “Yep. All alone.”

            Scott’s laugh was hot on his skin, and he smiled. “Does that mean you graduated angel academy?” He yawned, and looked up at Stiles expectantly.

            “Yeah,” Stiles agreed, nosing at Scott’s forehead and then wriggling down until he could kiss him, just a soft press of lips. “You know, I learned a lot of things.”

            “Oh yeah?” Scott said, shifting as Stiles propped himself up and rolled them a little, enough that he could straddle Scott’s hips.

            “Yeah,” Stiles said, voice dropping low. He knew his dad had already left for work, but it still felt weird being too loud. He focused, just enough to feel his wings, enough to bring the tip of one down and draw it along Scott’s skin. Scott shivered, eyes widening at the sensation from a feather he couldn’t even see. “You wanna see?”

            “Yes,” Scott said, voice gone hoarse as he brought his hands up to rest on Stiles’ hips. “I want to see everything you learned.”

            Stiles just smiled, and leaned down to kiss him again.