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The Call of the Night

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       It’s been five years since the Hale Fire which killed almost every member of Derek and Laura’s werewolf family. Laura had returned to Beacon Hills to take care of some family business when she goes missing, pulling Derek back to his hometown and all of its memories. 

         Once he arrived, he discovered that things are more complicated than he thought, with bodies piling up and a rogue alpha biting the teen-aged best friend of the county sheriff. Derek found himself stretched thin trying to both look for his sister and help the new werewolf make it through his first full moon, and his first transformation. 

       Fortunately, he's not alone, Scott’s best friend Stiles has been right in the middle of things since the night Scott was bit, and his father, the sheriff, informed of the Hales werewolf secret, has been helping search for missing Laura. 

        Eventually Derek is able to set a trap for the Hunters who had captured Laura, and with the help of a few betas from a neighboring pack, including the remarkable Allison Argent, Derek is able to rescue Laura, but in the process he alerts Kate Argent to his presence. Kate is  Allison’s aunt, and the woman who once seduced Derek for information she then used to burn down his family home. 

         Kate manages to capture Derek, and is holding him captive in the ruins of the old Hale house, when the rest of the werewolves finally figure out who the rogue alpha is, and it turns out it is Peter Hale, who’s being mind-controlled by his nurse, Jennifer Martin. Peter is the only other survivor of the Hale Fire, and became an alpha when he killed one in the Preserve during one of the night runs Jennifer sends him out on. They discover this while listening in as Jackson Whittemore, who was also bit by the rogue alpha, gives his statement to the police.

        After Jennifer dies while Laura and the betas are trying to rescue Peter, the rogue gets free and runs off. Stiles agrees to meet Laura at the Hale House the next morning to drop off some maps of the Preserve to help coordinate the search, but when he arrives he’s surprised by Kate, who’s already aware of Stiles connection to the Hales. 

        Eventually Stiles and Derek are able to get free, though in the process Kate dies and Stiles gets stabbed in the leg. As they go to leave they encounter the still feral Peter, and in the struggle Derek kills him, becoming an alpha himself, and flees into the deep woods where eventually Laura is able to track him down, and stiles ends up in the hospital from a fortunately mild dose of aconite poisoning from Kate’s knife. 

        All of this happened in two weeks in January, around the full moon. 

        Now it’s two days later. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Wednesday January 18th 2011

Beacon Hills, California

630am

 

     The alarm clock was a cruel mistress Stiles decided with a groan as he reached over and smashed it until it turned off. The yip and growl in the corner alerted him that he was not alone in his room again this morning. He rolled over and looked at the giant wolf sitting alert in the corner with a guilty look on his face.

     “Snuck in again I see.” Stiles said with a smile. “Good thing I was sort of expecting it this time.” He hadn't been expecting it the previous morning, and had thrown an unfortunately convenient lacrosse ball at the startled wolf. Luckily Derek had supernaturally quick reflexes even when startled awake and had caught the ball out of the air. Stiles was pretty sure that counted as playing fetch.

      Laura had explained that the newly-made alpha’s pack instincts had likely driven Derek towards pack in the middle of the night, and he clearly considered Stiles to be close enough to pack to count. Derek who had still not resumed his human shape since Monday when he’d first shown up at the Stilinski home didn’t say anything. He just spent his time as close as he could get to either the senior or junior member of the household, trying not to make eye contact, and avoiding Laura altogether.

      Stiles had spent a very annoying Tuesday not being invisible at school since rumors were already spreading about Kate Argent, and trying hard to navigate the treacherous crutches between classes. He’d already decided to abandon the damn things in his Jeep before starting school for the day, and just suffering.

      After school he’d met with the lawyer Laura had tracked down for him, telling him not to worry about the cost because she’d cover it. He had a moment where he remembered with guilt the thick packet of cash he’d hidden before bed on Monday. But both the cash and the guns were things he wanted to not think about yet, so under the loose floorboard they had gone.

      “Are you ready to try human on for the day today?” Stiles said after a moment.

      Derek ducked his head and slumped back to the floor.

     “I’d say you can’t run from your problems, but clearly you in fact can. And no one except Laura will find you if you do.” Stiles sighed as the wolf continued to avoid looking at him. “I kinda miss your surly sarcasm dude. How bout you change back for breakfast and you can go back to wolf when I leave for school if you want?”

Derek closed his eyes.

     “I’ll make bacon!”

     No response from the corner.

     “Waffles?”

     Still no response.

     “Pancakes with fresh fruit?”

     Nothing.

     “Steak breakfast burritos?”

     There was a twitch of an ear.

     “With eggs, and sour cream, mmmmm, and cheese.”

      Derek’s eyes opened, and his ears twitched again. His tail beat against the wall a time or two.

      Stiles smiled. “I’ll leave your clothes here and see you downstairs dude.”

      He had just finished slicing the steak and was dropping it into the frying pan when suddenly Derek was standing next to him wearing one of Stiles giant oversized lacrosse practice T-shirt’s and the sweatpants Laura had brought him from the hotel.

      Stiles flailed before shouting, “Jesus dude! Make some noise.”

     “I did.”

      “Maybe for your wolfy ears, but for us mere mortals, you move freakishly quiet. How did you make it down the stairs without hitting the squeaky steps?”

     “I counted which ones squeaked when you stepped on them and skipped them,” Derek replied smugly.

     “You’re a menace,” Stiles griped at him. “For that I’m burning your steak.”

     “You’re cooking it, so it’s already over-cooked.”

      Stiles glared, “I don’t honestly know if that was an insult to my cooking or a reference to how you like your steak. But fuck off either way.”

      Derek smirked again.

      Stiles stirred the steak in the pan. “I assumed you’d be hungry since you haven’t eaten for awhile,” he said quietly, “so I’m making a lot.”

     “I can eat a lot, so that works.”

     They stood in silence for a long moment with only the sound of the cooking meat to break it, then Stiles said, “It’s good to see your grumpy face again. Not that I don’t love your furry face, but I like talking to you too.”

     “Sorry. It’s easier to deal with things sometimes as the wolf. Priorities are different, the alpha power doesn’t feel as strange.”

      “Sounds like avoidance to me. Laura said the alpha thing was a lot like going from being a human to a wolf, that it’s a transformation of another kind.”

       Derek just nodded. “I never expected to be an alpha, I’m not-” he paused for a moment, “no one ever expected me to be an alpha, that was always Laura. I don’t even know what to do, I don’t think I’m really alpha material.”

       Stiles turned and looked at Derek as he stirred the sizzling steak. “Dude are you for real? Did you not just keep the whole ‘searching for Laura’ thing going? Not just finding her, but kicking ass on a whole bunch of Hunters at the same time. Scott, who has so many issues with authority figures it’s not even funny, thinks you’re not so bad, and Allison thinks you’re awesome. So maybe cut yourself some slack on the whole ‘not alpha material’. You may not be the same type of alpha that Laura is, but you do pretty damn good at building and leading a team that respects you and thinks you’re pretty awesome.”

      Derek gave him a shy smile. “So you think I have potential?”

      Stiles rolled his eyes, “Yeah Kit De Luca, we think you’ve got a lot of potential.”

      A confused look flashed across Derek’s face for a moment until he got the reference, “Oh my god, did you really just quote Pretty Woman at me, who are you?”

      Stiles laughed. “Don’t even with me Derek Hale. You totally got that reference in like 3 seconds, I knew you were a total sap.”

      “It was one of my mom’s favorites,” Derek replied with a smile.

      Stiles grinned at him, “Was she a big fan of romcoms? That doesn’t fit the whole ‘grrrr alpha’ vision I had in my head of her.”

      Derek shrugged, “Not really exactly. She didn’t have a lot of time for movies between work and pack stuff. But I think it held some memory for her with my dad, cause they’d quote it at each other and laugh.”

     “What was he like?” Stiles slid the steak onto a plate and poured the scrambled egg mixture into the hot pan.

     Derek caught his lip between his teeth, “Laura always says I’m just like him. I’m not so sure. He wasn’t as hard to deal with as I can be, definitely not as sarcastic. He did what he thought was right, always. He wasn’t someone who’d be flexible in his morals. God he fought with-“ Derek winced, “he and Uncle Peter were very different. Peter was always really goal oriented, but the means were flexible to him. I don’t think I really understood that difference between them, then. But now, looking back, I see it.”

      Stiles was quiet as the eggs cooked for a couple of minutes before he turned back and said, “You know Laura isn’t mad about what happened don’t you?”

      Derek froze, and Stiles knew he was about to bolt.

      “We don’t have to talk about it. And I won’t bring it up again unless you do, but she knows it was an accident, no one blames you.”

      “I blame me,” Derek said in a whisper. “Everyone keeps saying I’m not to blame for the fire, and now I’m not to blame for Peter, but I blame me.”

       Stiles leaned sideways and poked Derek lightly with an elbow, “We’re done with that conversation for now. I just wanted to make sure you know. There’s things Laura and Dad need to talk to you about, Scott’s Dad is in town so there’s a thing.”

      “What does Scott’s Dad have to do with anything?”

      “Dude, did I not tell you? He’s like some big shot asshole FBI guy. Apparently Kate was on their radar, and when she turned up here they sent him.”

       Derek stiffened.

       “So yeah, they need to get you on the same page as far as what they’re telling him. Cause werewolves are probably not going to fly.” He shook some salt and pepper over the cooking eggs, then continued, “Laura talked to me about what it was like in wolf form. She said it was hard to remember conversation. She said you can understand it just fine as it’s happening, but it doesn’t always get remembered well.”

      Derek nodded, “That’s accurate,” he continued, as Stiles started piling eggs onto the tortillas he’d pulled out of the oven and covering them with steak and cheese, “sound, scent, and motion of the now become most important. Conversation depends on keeping track of words in the past, and anticipating the future. It’s not relevant to the wolf, so it’s hard to focus on it, and hard to remember it.”

     “She said you probably came here because you felt safe here, with me and my Dad.”

      Derek nodded, “You’re pack, to me at least, in my head. But my wolf didn’t want others wolves around while the alpha power was doing its thing.”

      “Dad and I talked, like, we’re fine with that. We like you, both of us. You’re sarcastic, and the eye-rolling grumpy thing is hilarious, and we both think of you as a friend. You’re like always welcome here. I think it’s the same as you mean by pack really. You’re someone we want in our lives. And on that subject, Dad wants you to move into the spare room after Scott’s Dad is done poking around. Like while you’re getting your place ready.”

        “Your Dad is okay with this idea?”

       “Dude, this is his idea! Eventually Laura is going to head back to school, and Dad doesn’t want you brooding around that hotel room glaring at people and stuff. So yeah, that’s pack isn’t it?”

       Derek smiled, “That's pack, yes.”

       Stiles grinned, “Laura said you’d argue way more. I totally told her you wouldn’t argue because you wanted my magic petting fingers around.”

       Derek snorted, “You mean you want to treat me like your pet dog and convince me to play fetch with you.”

       “You’re not a dog Derek! You’re just, you know, fluffy, and puppy shaped. It’s like the werewolf version of playing catch right?”

      Derek laughed, “Sure Stiles, But I swear to god, if you ever talk to me in that bullshit baby-talk voice people use on their pets I will rip your throat out with my teeth.”

      “Jesus dude, aggro much?”

      “Just making my limits clear on the whole subject of fetch.”

       “That seems reasonable. The teeth ripping thing, not so reasonable, though understandable. How ‘bout a pink collar with rhinestones?”

        Derek blinked. “Stiles, why would I care if you want to wear a pink collar with rhinestones? Do what makes you happy.”

        “I meant you,” Stiles said in an outraged tone. “You in the collar.”

        “If you try to put a collar on me you’ll get what you deserve,” Derek said with an evil glint in his eye.

 

745am

     After breakfast Derek had done the dishes while Stiles went up to get ready for school. When he went to leave Derek followed him out onto the porch where Stiles gave him a list of things he should do including talk to Laura, talk to his dad, and reply to the calls and texts on his phone which Stiles had charged up for him while he’d gone wolf. Then he eased into his Jeep, hissing when the movement pulled at his stitches, and headed off to pick up Scott.

      Pulling up to the McCall house Stiles left the engine running. He knew Scott could hear him inside, so he started singing the Spice Girls ‘Wannabe’ which he knew Scott hated with a passion. He’d tried ‘Barbie Girl’ once, but he was horrified to discover Scott actually liked that one. Stiles honestly had no idea where Scott’s shitty taste in music came from, because Melissa had amazing taste. Thinking about it for a moment, he decided it was probably his dad.

       Scott came bounding out of the house and piled into the passenger side just as Stiles pointed at him and sang “really really wanna zigazig ha”.

       “Whyyyyyyyyyyyy?” Scott whined.

       “Hey Scotty!” Stiles chirped. “So, update on Derek is that he has returned, at least temporarily, to the upright broody and sarcastic form. Plus holy hell, dude ate four huge breakfast burritos.”

       “Thank god! Is he going to talk to Laura? Who knows how long she can push my dad off.”

       “I told him to, but, you know, who knows if he’ll do it. He seems ok, but I’m pretty sure it’s an act. He totally creeperwolfed into my room again last night, so Laura nailed that one.”

        “Did you tell him about your dad's idea?”

        “He didn’t even argue,” Stiles said with a smirk, “Laura totally owes me $20 now.”

        “That was a total sucker bet.”

        “Right?” Stiles said. “Cause I’m awesome, who wouldn’t want to live with me? And I mean, dad’s alright too.”

        “I think your dad is just hoping that if Derek is there you’ll let him have some red meat.”

        “It’s already started! I noticed a package of steak in the fridge last night, so I made Derek steak breakfast burritos this morning and used it all up. Honestly, what was he even thinking? I was stabbed in my leg not in the eyes, there was no way that was going to slip past me.”

        They chatted the rest of the short way to school, and when they got parked Stiles carefully slid out and grabbed his bag and they talked and walked slowly to the doors. Just as they got there Jackson and Lydia sauntered past deep in conversation.

       “Hey Lydia,” Stiles said a little louder, “you look-“ he grimaced as she walked past, “right, yeah, like you’re going to ignore me.”

       “Still on the five year plan?” Scott murmured as Jackson looked back with a glare.

       “Yes Scott my man, this is all part of the plan.” Stiles met Jackson’s eyes which narrowed as he opened the door for Lydia. As she walked in Jackson let the door close behind them after one last glare at Stiles.

        Stiles stopped walking and looked at Scott, a terrible thought crossing his mind. “Scott, did you notice anything different about Jackson this morning?”

       “Different how? Did Jackson get a haircut or something?”

       “Different like ‘danger of going furry’ Scott, remember I told you on Sunday night that Jackson was attacked by Peter? What if his bite worked too? I’d forgotten it among everything else, but holy shit, I’m not sure I’m up for a werewolf Jackson. He’s enough of a dick without superpowers.”

        “Are you going to ask him ‘hey by the way Jackson, are you noticing any changes since you got attacked’ or something?”

        “No,” Stiles said, irritated. “I’m going to call in an expert.”

        “Derek?”

        “No. Laura.” Stiles grinned. “It’s Wednesday, so open campus for lunch. I’m going to see if Laura is in the mood to go to lunch. Your job is to listen in on Jackson and Lydia’s conversations this morning to help me figure out where they’re going at lunchtime.”

        “I don’t know how to focus it like that yet!” Scott protested.

        “I have faith in you buddy, and there’s no time like the present to practice your new werewolfy skills.”

        “I hate you,” Scott complained.

        “I’m the gift that keeps on giving Scotty. Bringing joy and life to your otherwise boring existence.”

         “Hate hate hate.” Scott grumbled, and opened the door for Stiles to limp through into the school.

Chapter Text

835am

      

      In the desk beside her, Jackson jumped slightly and shook his head when the bell rang to end first period. Lydia glanced at him and frowned, Jackson had been off all morning. He’d made a face when he’d taken a drink of his usual Starbucks order, and had been fidgeting in a way that was very out of character. Jackson usually had laser focus during class, driven by his overwhelming need to succeed.

     As they walked out of class she pulled him to the side and whispered into his ear, “What is wrong with you today?”

     “I don’t know!” he whispered back urgently, “It’s like everything is really loud today, and I can’t sit still.”

     “Is this a side effect of the rabies shot?”

     “All they said was redness or swelling,” Jackson replied.

     They started walking down the hall as Lydia googled. “Well, the good news is that those aren’t side effects of the vaccine,” but then continued, “They are however symptoms of rabies, so there is definitely no kissing me in your immediate future, and I have a call to my doctor to make after kissing you last night and this morning. You have an appointment this evening to have the plastic surgeon check your bite right? Maybe I’ll go along.”

     “Rabies?” Jackson hissed, “I thought that’s why they gave me the shot, so I didn’t develop it.”

     “And there’s the irritation. Another symptom.”

     “I think this is my normal level of irritation Lydia.”

     “It’s hard to tell Jacks.” She smiled slightly, “Wait, I know how to check.” She scanned the hall and seeing exactly what she was looking for. “Look over at Stiles, what do you feel?”

     Jackson glanced down the hall, “A deep desire to shove him into a locker.”

      “Okay, Yes, that does seem like a normal level of irritation for you.”

     Jackson rolled his eyes, but then narrowed them, “He’s talking about me.”

      “Jackson, he’s 50 yards away with 100 people between us, I don’t think you can tell what he’s saying.”

      “I can though. He’s talking to McCall about my symptoms. About side effects of the bite. That fucker knows that dog had rabies somehow.”

      “What else is he saying?” Lydia asked.

      “I’m not sure, I lost the conversation, now all I can hear is Greenberg complaining about stains on his jersey.”

      Lydia’s eyes swept the halls. Greenberg was nowhere to be seen. Her eyes went back to the list of symptoms and caught on one word: hallucinations.

 

945am

     Derek had been expecting the knock of course. He’d heard the Camaro park on the street minutes before. Had heard Laura take a deep breath before getting out of the car. He heard the pause before she knocked on the door. He’d had time to decide if he was going to shift back, or if he was finally ready to talk to his alpha. His sister. He opened the door after only a moment of hesitation.

      He saw Laura give him a quick once over, though what she was checking for he wasn’t sure, all of his scars are on the inside. “Derek,” she said after a moment.

     “Laura.”

     She gave him a shaky smile, “You’re such an ass.”

     “Stop sounding like mom.”

     “Then stop being an ass little brother,” she teased. “I’m glad you’re you again.”

     “Stiles bribed me with breakfast burritos. Steak.”

     “I should have recommended that. What was I thinking.”

     “I assume you were hoping to save them all for yourself,” Derek replied as he stepped out of the way to let her in.

     She leaned in and pressed herself against Derek in a way that might seem intimate to a stranger, but was all about the scent of pack. After most of a month of being apart, Derek smelled more like Stiles than her. Derek tensed for a moment, and then relaxed into her, the scent of family, of his alpha, easing something in him. After a moment they pulled apart and he followed her into the kitchen. She moved hesitantly, not quite remembering where things were from her one visit, but eventually finding the coffee cups and pouring herself a cup from the cooling pot that Stiles had made with breakfast that morning.

     “I still don’t know how you can drink that stuff,” Derek said with a slight grin, bringing up a topic they’d argued so many times that it was a well worn routine they could always fall into.

     “Says the guy who drinks hot chocolate like a four year old.”

     She sat down at the table next to him. “Stiles called you?” he finally asked.

     “He texted. Said he wasn’t sure if you’d go back wolf or not, but that you’d at least eaten. How are you feeling?”

      “Better. It’s still a lot. Peter, and Kate. The alpha thing.”

      “We don’t need to talk about it, but I know you didn’t intend what happened with Peter.”

      Derek flinched. “I was trying to keep his attention on me. It was like fighting only his wolf. Both times I fought with him it felt that way. You know how Peter was, he was fast and unexpected, and endlessly clever. This was the opposite of that, there was no-” he searched for a word for a minute, “no intellect driving him. And when I went to slash across his chest he turned, and-” He couldn’t finish, just shuddered and closed his eyes.

     “Deaton has the body, he called me about the spell the witch was using to keep him docile. The way the spell was set up it was designed to suppress the human side. It looks like it had been in place for some time, probably months. The witch was his nurse, Jennifer Martin. Deaton was familiar with the family. Apparently her mother was a well known wailing woman.”

    “A banshee? In Beacon Hills?”

    Laura nodded. “Her name was Loraine. Apparently mom knew her, though not well, and Loraine had already slipped into a kind of madness by the time of the fire.  According to Deaton, banshees are prone to that when they’re not anchored deeply enough in the present. She died at Eichen House.”

    Derek shuddered again at the name of the notorious USSI supernatural prison attached to a local sanitarium. His mother had worked for more than a decade to get the USSI to move the worst of the supernatural prisoners to a more secure facility, but the aura of evil still clung to the building.

     “Is that why he didn’t change back when he died?”

     “Probably. There’s not a lot of information about what happens to wolves when they’re controlled by compulsion spells like that. Mostly because books on those spells are destroyed as often as possible. He also said there was probably no way to break the spell, because a compulsion is built into blood and bone to cage the spirit. Even killing the witch doesn’t release them.”

     “We should have protected him better,” Derek said, misery creating an acrid scent in the air.

     “We did the best we could Derek. He was protected against Hunters, we didn’t think about witches. You can’t plan for everything.”

     Derek nodded.

     “John wants to talk to you about the story we’ve put together for the FBI. Are you going to be okay to talk to him about that?”

     Derek nodded again, the miserable smell fading. “Yeah, Stiles mentioned it. Scott’s dad apparently, because that’s how fucking small the world is. Do you have a contact at USSI we should reach out to about this?”

     “No. I’m sure mom did, but I’ve never needed to deal with any of them except that one asshole after the fire. I’m supposed to meet with Satomi on Monday to thank her for loaning us her betas and I can ask her then if she knows anyone. But USSI is pretty much run by Hunters for Hunters these days, so I doubt there’s going to be much help there.”

      “Where is John? Stiles didn’t say, and he left before Stiles got up this morning.”

      “He’s trying to keep on top of the paperwork. There’s a whole bunch of cases all tied together, plus the Hunters he arrested all have hearings this week. The DA wants to talk to you as well as agent McCall, and Chris Argent wants to meet with us tonight.”

      “So another busy week?”

       “Yes. The good news is there was no frame damage on your 4Runner, and Remy was able to get the parts to fix it. He said he should have it done in a couple of weeks.”

        Derek nodded. “I guess I’m going to need to get another rental. I’m also supposed to meet the building inspector on Friday about the building I’m thinking about buying.”

       “We need to get a calendar,” Laura said with a smile. “Also, way to go on the adulting. In New York I couldn’t even get you to move into the apartment across the hall. Here you’re buying a whole building to spread out in.”

        Derek blushed slightly then replied in a surly voice, “I figured I’d build you out your own apartment for when you’re in town, and maybe like a pack area on the second floor. And I haven’t technically bought it yet.”

       “Anything is better than that warehouse. The scent of wolfsbane just lingers in there.”

       “So, on a weird ‘property we apparently own’ question, any idea why mom bought the old train station?”

       Laura looked startled and then laughed. “Oh my god! I totally forgot about that! I do remember that.”

      “I mean, it turned out to be useful, but it’s kind of a weird thing to buy.”

       “Okay, so there’s this long backstory to this. Like almost 20 years ago, a few years after mom first took over the alphahood from gramps, there was this alpha who started building this network of wolves, which is great, except they were basically werewolf supremacists. His own territory was out in the desert, they even called him ‘the desert wolf’ or some nonsense. But there wasn’t much to the territory, no crossroads or anything to make it a desirable territory, so it was a bad location to build a power base from.” She paused, thinking for a moment.

     “Deucalion! That was his name! God, how’d I forget something as old school as that. Anyway, he bought the old train station when the railroad decided to sell it off because it’s right by the part of the Preserve where the crossroads are. He was pretty clearly angling to challenge mom, but he hadn’t gotten around to trying to it before he got involved with a pack war, then some Hunters got involved. He pissed off the Hunters and ended up getting killed, and his pack was eliminated. So when the pack trust was liquidated, mom took the opportunity to buy the property at a really good price.”

       “So she didn’t really have a plan,” Derek said with a smile.

       “No, are you thinking about renovating that too?”

       Derek shrugged, “I’m just considering my options. I thought mom might have had a purpose in mind. That’s where we took Scott for his first full moon, and it’s built like a fortress.”

       “No purpose that I know of, she was just closing off another easy route into the part of the Preserve closest to the crossroads I think.”

       “Maybe I’ll take another look at it if this building doesn’t work out.”

        “It might be a better location.” She pursed her lips slightly. “I suppose we should talk about the house. The county has been sending letters about it for a few years now. We’ve held them off by bringing up our grief and school, but one of the county commissioners is really pushing for the property to be condemned and turned over to the county. So we need to do something fairly soon.”

       Derek stilled. A deep panic building up, but Laura reached out and touched him, helping ground him. He looked in her eyes. “We have some time, it’s currently a crime scene in an active investigation, we don’t have to decide anything today. But we need to do something. If they take the house, they’ll take the rest of the property too, and we can’t allow that.”

     He nodded.

     “I want to start training you on your alpha power this week too. There’s a lot you need to know, and with everything going on, we need to get you started soon. You know the Hunters will be back.”

     

1020am

     Stiles had only two classes with Jackson, which he was normally thrilled by, but by the middle of Economics he had found he was both convinced that Finstock’s understanding of 21st century micro-economic models was a little lacking, and that Jackson’s bite was taking. He slid his phone out to text Laura, but saw her response to his earlier text about Derek that she was going to head over to see him and he didn’t want to interrupt that, but he really felt the need for an expert opinion.

     He thought about calling Billy, but he knew that a random twenty-five year old, even one who looked as unassuming as Billy, would get questioned on school grounds. Then he realized the same logic applied to Laura as well. Why were all of his friends suddenly so inconveniently old?

     But Allison was due to start school later that week anyway. And he realized that she would be perfect. Finstock glanced back his direction and he slid his phone back out of sight.

      As he listened to coach lecture about highly questionable economic models, he tried to hold still but stress tended to make the symptoms of his ADHD worse, and he kept shifting in his seat, and drumming his pencil against his notebook. Four rows over and one ahead, Jackson turned and glared at him. Stiles froze, looking down at his pencil, looking back at Jackson, and then pointed. Jackson’s glare got more intense, and then he nodded once. Stiles set his pencil down on his notebook, trying hard not to antagonize the freshly bitten wolf.

     Across the room he could see Jackson’s eyes widen, and Stiles wondered what had happened, what Jackson’s no doubt newly emerging senses were telling him. He whispered as quietly as he could, “Jackson, can you hear me?”

     Jackson twitched and glared harder at Stiles, and Stiles was certain that a disaster was imminent at any moment.

     “Jackson, I know you hate me, and no problem, I promise it’s completely mutual. But you need to calm down and relax. The more you stress out the worse it’s going to be. Try to think about something calming. Like-” Stiles paused, “Fuck, I don’t know what you find calming. Waxing your Porsche or something, or ordering around your servants or some other rich person bullshit.”

     Jackson rolled his eyes, but Stiles could see him trying to calm himself.

     Stiles continued with his super soft commentary, thinking back to Derek and Allison with Scott on the full moon, “Try to focus on your heartbeat maybe.” He kept up the litany and gradually he could see Jackson start to relax. Enough that when the bell rang Jackson actually jerked in his seat. Stiles stayed frozen, not sure if it was safest to not move or to try and get away as fast as possible. Jackson stood up and waited as all the other students emptied the room, and continued waiting until Stiles gathered his books and notebook.

      Stiles was sure that standing up and walking towards the door, and the baby werewolf that had hated him for years, was the bravest thing he’d ever done. As he passed Jackson, the lacrosse captain fell in beside him, but didn’t say anything.

     Stiles finally said, “I know it’s hard, but you’ll get through it.”

     Jackson snorted, “You don’t have to sugar coat it, it’s pretty permanent once it starts from what I understand.”

     “Well, yes. I didn’t even know you knew what was going on though.”

     “I knew it was a possibility, but Lydia’s the one who figured it out.”

     Stiles laughed a little. “Of course she would.” He looked at Jackson closely, “Are you going to be okay this afternoon? If you need anything, you can text, I’ll find a way to get out of class and help if I can. And if there’s an emergency I know people to call.”

      “I’ll be fine. It’s permanent, I’ll deal. It’s just the symptoms that are making me crazy.”

     “I bet. When S-” he froze for a second, “when someone I know got bit and the symptoms started I know how difficult it was. But you can learn to manage them with some effort, and god knows you’ve got the determination to keep control.”

     Jackson just looked at him, “Nothing personal, but I’ve never been anything but an asshole to you, why would you help me? What’s your deal Stilinski?”       

     Stiles shrugged, “Jesus dude, I hate you, I don’t want you dead. Plus if you go all aggro and kill someone I’m going to feel guilty. Well, maybe not Marshall. But with my luck it’ll be me. Besides I actually know what’s going on. And I know there’s not like there’s giant pool of other people just running around who will know how to help, so I’m kind of stuck with it.”

      Jackson grunted. “I swear to god Stilinski, if this is you fucking around with me, I will end your existence.”

       “There’s someone I know, you should talk to her. She understands all of this better than I do. Do you have some time this evening you can meet her?”

     Jackson glared murder again, “Don’t think that this makes us instantly friends Stilinski, but let me know where to meet you. We have a game Friday, so practice tonight is just conditioning and I should be done by 5, if I feel like it I might show up, though I have somewhere to be at 7.”

     “Hey asshole, I’m trying to help you. I’ll check with her and let you know if tonight works, but I’m not setting up this little play date if you aren't going to show up.”

     Jackson rolled his eyes and walks away from Stiles where the hall split without saying anything else.

      Stiles muttered ‘Thanks Stiles, no problem Jackass, happy to help! Hey Stiles, lets grab bubble tea on Saturday. Great idea Jax, glad I saved your stupid life.’ As he pulled out his phone and sent Allison a quick text:

 

Stiles: Can you come to the school? No big deal, just another werewolf problem.

      From down the hall Jackson shouted “I heard that dickmunch.”

      Stiles shouted back “I figured you would asshole!”

 

Chapter Text

415pm

      Finally getting some sleep had done wonders for Allison by Wednesday. Her dad had been quieter than usual, but they’d spent Tuesday afternoon looking at houses, and Wednesday they went back to compare the ones they liked best. They were down to arguing the merits of the two favorites. Allison preferred the cozy three bedroom bungalow with a basement that backed on the arm of the Preserve that cut deep into town, but which was not terribly far from the dead witch’s house. Her dad preferred the more upscale gated community, even though the house was far larger than they needed.

        She glanced at her phone, “Dad I need to go meet Stiles at the school, it’s your house, pick the one you’re going to love.”

       He gave her that strange haunted look he could get, “Ally, it’s your home too,” he said with emphasis. He stepped close and hesitated slightly before leaning in slowly to give her an awkward half hug.

       She knew she should respond, but the return to physical affection was new, this was only the third of these awkward encounters they’d had, and she was still surprised by them. “I know Dad,” she finally said, “I just mean I’ll be going to college in a couple of years, and then it’ll mostly just be you around. Get something you’re going to be comfortable in.”

        He smiled as he moved back away, “What, you don’t think I’ll be moving to San Luis Obispo the minute you leave for school?”

        His joke surprised a genuine laugh out of her. “Oh yeah, cause the Holman pack is going to let you just move right in.”

        He smiled broadly, “Lugh would no doubt meet me on the border.” Like many of the most conservative and inflexible of old school alphas the Holman alpha had taken a name from ancient mythology and it spoke to his arrogance that he’d chosen Lugh. The alpha and Chris had been reluctant allies during the pack war and subsequent elimination of Deucalion's pack. But he’d refused Chris and his ‘mongrel’ daughter permission to settle there after Allison was bit, and the bad blood ran deep.

      “I’m not deciding tonight,” Chris finally said. “And maybe we should just get an apartment for awhile at first, and take our time looking.”

      “I’m okay with that too Dad, really, I’m just ready to be done with the hotel.” She grabbed her purse off the bar, and headed for the door. “I’ll see you at dinner!”

       They’d fallen into a more comfortable relationship since coming to Beacon Hills. Satomi has been right, of course, that working together would help them repair what was damaged. It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t even great, but they were better and Allison was thrilled. She tumbled into her car and set out for the school.

     She parked when she arrived and stepped out of the car. While trying to be inconspicuous, she inhaled deeply, analyzing the air to see what she could find. She caught the scent of wolves, Scott of course, and, she was surprised to find, a slight hint of Peter as well. She wondered what the witch had meant by bringing him here, or if he’d come on one of the nights he’d been roaming free.

       She didn’t detect this new wolf, Jackson, she remembered Stiles had called him. She drifted towards the school, past Stiles’ blue Jeep. She took a moment to run her fingers along it. Not conspicuous to anyone watching, but a chance to mark pack.

       It was a strange feeling, having a pack. Not just being acknowledged and tolerated on the edges, but people who were actively invested in her, who called her when they needed someone at their back. It was new, and tentative, but it was the first time she’d ever felt like a part of the werewolf world from the inside, rather than just an observer.

      She paused, listening for Stiles’ distinctive heartbeat, and followed where it led her.

      She finally found him sitting at a table in a courtyard still lit by the late afternoon sun. She slipped into the seat across from him, but he didn’t move from where he was laser focused on whatever he was typing.

      When she had been there for almost ten minutes as Stiles typed away furiously at his keyboard, she finally said, “Stiles!” and he jerked in his seat.

     “Allison! Jesus, when did you get here?”

     “Like five minutes ago maybe? You were super absorbed into whatever you were writing.”

     “Yeah I had a paper to finish, so I took another Adderall, and apparently I was in a zone. Sorry.”

     “No problem. Is your friend meeting us?”

     “Ugh. Jackson is not my friend,” Stiles answered, “and probably, though he might not show just to prove how much better he is than us mere mortals.”

      “And you said he already knows?”

      “Yeah, apparently Lydia figured it out, the brilliant strawberry blonde goddess that she is.”

      “She’s the one I met?”

      “There can be only one.”

      Allison laughed, “She was certainly forceful.”

      Stiles smiled, “Right?” The admiration was obvious.

       “Scott thinks you’re in love with her.”

       “Yep!” he replied, “She beat me on a spelling test in third grade and it was love at first defeat. But Jackson. I’m not sure if I’m going to be much help, he wants to kill me on a good day.”

Allison smiled. “So what’s the deal with the two of you?”

       Stiles sat fidgeting with the pen he’d picked up. Then finally, he shrugged, “No clue really, hate at first sight maybe? We’ve all gone to school with each other forever, we were friends I guess in, like, first grade, but in junior high it changed. Whatever, he’s a dick.”

       She sighed, “Well that’ll make this fun.”

      “Can we just ship him off to the worst alpha we can find?”

      “That’s up to Laura and Derek.”

       “Derek can be bribed with breakfast. I’ll figure out Laura soon enough.”

        Rather than respond, Allison tilted her head, “There’s two people headed this way.”

       “Jackson and Lydia maybe?”

       “Is he likely to bring her?”

       “Better question is could he manage to leave her behind.”

        A few minutes later Lydia, who she did recognize, and Jackson who she didn’t, came around the corner into the courtyard downwind of her, so she couldn’t tell if he was a wolf, but she trusted Stiles instincts.

       There was a flash of recognition when Lydia saw her and then a deeply thoughtful look. Allison watched them carefully, the way Jackson responded to far off sounds beyond human hearing telling her that he was a wolf long before his scent hit her. When it finally did she tensed. A slight familiarity was teasing at her, but she couldn’t place it immediately. She wished Billy or one of the Hales was with her. The subtlety of scent was something that could take a lifetime to master, and born wolves were almost always better at it than turned wolves.

       “Well hello again,” Lydia said with a smile. “I would not have guessed you’d be Stiles’ expert on this.”

       Allison smiled at her, “Well, surprise!”

       Just as Jackson started to speak, in the distance she heard a loud clanging of metal on metal that made her startle and turn, Jackson mirrored her actions, while the humans didn’t react to the sound beyond their hearing.

       Stiles and Lydia both watched them carefully, Lydia’s eyes shifting from Allison to Jackson, then back again. Her look switched to one that was both calculating and intense.

       “What is it?” Stiles asked Allison.

       “Nothing. I think it was a railcar maybe. Metal against metal.”

       Stiles nodded, and Jackson looked back at Allison. “You can hear that?” Jackson demanded.

        “Of course,” Allison replied.

        Beside him she heard Lydia draw in a quick gasp of air and say, “Oh my god, this isn’t about rabies at all is it?”

        Stiles opened his mouth, but nothing came out, and he turned to look at Allison who started to laugh.

        “Rabies?” Stiles finally said. “No, definitely not rabies.” He looked at Jackson, “Seriously, this is what you think is going on, that you got RABIES?”

        Jackson’s face set, and Allison could smell the aggression start to pour off of him.

       “Jackson,” she said in a commanding voice, “calm down.”

       Jackson balled his hands into fists, and she could tell at any moment he was going to come across the table at Stiles, but then unexpectedly she heard Stiles beside her start to talk in a low voice, and remarkably, she could see that Jackson was listening to him. It was just a litany of things to concentrate on.

       “C’mon Jackson, focus on my heartbeat. Listen to the rhythm, you’ve got this. Feel the wind on your face. Feel the sun on your skin,” Stiles said in a low even voice. She recognized it as things she and Derek had said to help Scott learn to control himself, to help him ground himself in his human senses.

       Lydia’s eyes took it all on, and Allison could see the moment it all clicked together. “Werewolves, of course. You’re all werewolves.” She looked at Stiles, “Honestly, that’s kind of disappointing.”



530pm

      John was exhausted. He’d thought he’d been exhausted the week before, dealing with the whole mess with the Hales and the Hunters, but having McCall in town was giving him a new level of exhaustion to experience. He thought he and Laura had come up with a tight timeline of events to cover all the events of the week before without bringing in Hunters or the supernatural. The original interviews with the Hunters were locked in his safe at home, and the tapes that had been turned over had been the interviews conducted after Chris Argent had spent some time with each Hunter, and a cohesive and supernatural free narrative had emerged in the second interviews.

      John was torn about the cover up. He understood its necessity, and understood the secrecy that the supernatural world depended on, but using his office to hide the truth troubled him. He wished that there was someone he could turn to for advice, but neither the Hales nor Argent knew any other cop in his position. Laura had mentioned a federal group, the USSI, that dealt with supernatural crimes on a national level, but they obviously worked in secrecy, and John didn’t have any idea how to contact them.

       He glanced back down at the latest overtime report from the jail and sighed, finally signing off on it and shoving it into the completed stack. Looking at the pile still in his to-do basket he wondered if it would ever be clear again. He glanced at the time again, and winced when he realized that he’d been at work for 12 hours. Stiles was going to kill him. He finally climbed to his feet and grabbed his jacket, shutting and locking his door as he walked out. When he got to the front he looked at Tara and asked quietly, “McCall?”

      She smiled. “He left about 20 minutes ago. Didn’t look like he’d be back.”

      John nodded. “I’m going to head home. I’ll have my cell on if anything comes up.” Tara was his right hand deputy, and he knew she could take care of anything that might need attention.

      “Goodnight John, tell Stiles to stop by, I’ve missed seeing him around here lately.”

      “He’ll no doubt be back to terrorize everyone soon enough,” John said with a wave as he walked out.

 

535pm

      Rafe McCall waited for his son to come out of the locker room, watching the students leaving with his usual attentiveness. He knew something strange was up in Beacon Hills again, and he could tell that Stiles was caught up in it. He also suspected his son was caught up in it as well, he just wasn’t sure how deeply. When Scott finally exited the locker room, he didn’t turn toward the parking lot, but instead cut back up towards the school. Rafe had seen Stiles’ jeep in the parking lot, so Rafe assumed he was meeting up with his eternal sidekick.

      Rafe had never really liked Stiles, and the feeling was mutual. The boy was disrespectful, and he couldn’t shut up. But he appreciated the boys’ loyalty to each other in a way that neither Scott nor Stiles had ever understood. He also knew Stiles wasn’t the only one of the two he had a hard time getting along with. Rafe and Scott had never really understood each other either. He wondered why the twins were so much easier for him to connect with, and wondered if he’d been less preoccupied with his work, and less secretive about his life with Scott and Melissa, if things would have gone differently.

      A few minutes later, Scott emerged from the school with Stiles, and Rafe was surprised to see the Martin girl, and the Whittmore boy both boys had gotten into so many fights with. But it was the last person, the girl with the dark wavy hair that caught his eye instantly. He immediately saw the way she scented the air, the tilt of her head. He saw the way she moved, and that he’d been right and Scott had gotten involved with dangerous people. He recognized those movements, and knew in an instant what she was, the potential danger she represented.

      Her presence confirmed what he’d suspected when he’d seen Kate Argent’s name connected to an investigation, and the conclusions he’d drawn when he could see the way that John had tried to weave his investigation around the supernatural. He wondered how long it had been going on, and when John had found out about werewolves. He wondered if Scott knew exactly how dangerous his new friend was.

      He watched Scott walk her to her car, saw him smile, and could see the interest between them. He sighed, of course his son would fall for a werewolf. Five hundred completely ordinary girls in his school and he finds the one that could kill him if she lost control.

      Scott watched the girl pull out of the parking lot, and Rafe took note of her plate number so he could run it later to find out who she was. Scott walked back towards the rest of the group, and after a surprisingly tense exchange, the kids parted ways, the Martin girl and the other boy to a parked Porsche, and Stiles and Scott to the Jeep.

      Rafe waited a few minutes after they left before turning and grabbing his phone. He scrolled through his contacts for a few minutes before pulling up one of the numbers that was not a department resource and hit the call button.

      After a couple of rings a familiar voice answered and said, “Well, long time no call. What’s up Rafe?”

      “Hey, is the old man available to talk to me this week?”

      The voice laughed, “He’s still pissed that you married that woman, but yeah, he’s around. Can you give him about an hour to get free?”

       “Thanks Marco, I think I’ve got a situation here that might need some of his kind of attention.”

       “I’ll give him a heads up.”

       “Thanks, I’ll call back in an hour.” Rafe said and hung up. He dropped the phone on the seat beside him and reached down to start the car. A moment later he pulled back onto the street.

Chapter Text

620pm

 

     Stiles dragged himself into the house, exhausted, and stopped as he came through the door. Derek was in the kitchen cooking while still wearing Stiles oversized lacrosse shirt (which fit the man almost perfectly) and his sweats.

     “Hi.” Stiles managed finally after a moment.

     “You seem surprised that I'm still here.”

     Stiles snorted, “Not even dude, I told you my dad wants you to move in. I’m surprised to see you all not furry still. I figured spending the day with Laura would be enough to send you fleeing for four feet.”

      “RUDE!” Laura not quite shouted from the living room, “I’m delightful. Is this how you talk about me when I’m not around?”

      Stiles laughed. “I saw your car oh great and mighty alpha, I knew you were still here.” He limped into the kitchen and hovered over the pan on the stove, “That smells amazing, what is it?”

      Derek smiled, “I figured I should earn my keep and at least make dinner. It’ll be lasagna eventually. Your dad is upstairs taking a nap.”

      “When did he get back?”

      “About 20 minutes ago.”

      “I didn’t know you could cook,” Stiles added. “I mean, all I’ve seen is the ‘grrrr werewolf’ bit. Look at you being all well-rounded and everything.”

      “Yes Stiles, I’ve managed to feed myself and Laura at least occasionally for the last five years,” Derek said with a roll of his eyes, though the tone was still warm.

      “Hey, all I’ve seen you eat is fast food and protein bars, don’t judge me for thinking you were one green salad away from rickets. Or wait, that’s vitamin D, scurvy, that’s the one. Wait, can werewolves GET scurvy?” When Derek shrugged, Stiles turned toward the living room, “LAURA!” he shouted toward the living room, “I need answers!”

     “Stiles!” Derek hissed, “Your dad’s asleep, and she has werewolf hearing.”

     “Look who’s all growlywolf now, grrrrr Derek,” Stiles said with a smile. “My dad sleeps with a fan on, he’s used to my noise.”

     Derek cocked an ear upstairs, then nodded. “You still don’t need to yell to be heard.”

     Stiles rolled his eyes, “Alright growlywolf, I’ll just go see Laura to get all my answers.” Then he leaned in and added quietly, “Thank you for cooking.”

     When he limped into the living room, he saw Laura grinning where she lay sprawled on the couch.

     “Scurvy Stiles, that’s your question?”

     He shrugged. “Rickets too actually. Like, I can see it going either direction. Does the healing thing stop that, or are there limits.”

     She actually looked speculatively. “You know, honestly, I’m not sure. I’ve never heard of a werewolf with scurvy, so I have no idea. We don’t catch normal human diseases usually.” She paused, “And no locking my brother in the basement and denying him sunlight and anything green to test it.”

     Stiles flopped into the seat across from her, “You’re the worst, I need answers Laura.” He sighed, “Actually, change of subject and all, I found you another werewolf and congrats, he’s the worst so I guess Derek's saved from that because I can just lock Jackson in the basement instead.”

     She sat up, looking at him, “What are you talking about?” Then half a moment later, before he could even respond he saw the dawning understanding, “The boy from Sunday night. Shit, with everything on Monday I forgot all about him.”

     “Yeah, join the club. I was in economics listening to Finstock miseducate my fellow youth of today with his fuzzy grasp of microeconomic models, and Jackson is like moments away from a meltdown. But I talked him down and got him calm, he managed to make it through Economics without maiming Finstock, which is impressive on its own; or me. Which, considering it’s Jackson, is basically a miracle.”

     “I can’t tell how much you’re exaggerating and how much you’re serious.”

     “Naw, he was fine. He’s a lot more angry young man than Scott was, but the advice that Derek and Allison gave Scott on the full moon really worked for him. Concentrate on my voice, concentrate on my heartbeat. That stuff.”

      She tilted her head, “How do you know what advice Derek gave Scott on the full moon?”

      Stiles snorted, “Cause I was there, of course.”

      “DEREK SAMUEL HALE!” Laura shouted, “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”

      “Hey!” Stiles yelled back, “My dad’s sleeping!”

      Laura glanced up and tilted her head, ear toward the ceiling, then shook her head. “He didn’t wake up.” Then she turned to Derek who’d walked in the room.

      “Relax Laura. I had Deaton put down a circle of mountain ash, and Scott was fine. Like weirdly fine, all night. I told you he took to it like he was born to it.”

       The outrage on Laura’s face was priceless. “Derek, even if he had been born to it, it was a needless risk. What if Stiles had been hurt?”

       Derek got a guilty look and glanced over at Stiles.

       “Laura, it’s fine, it was my choice. Derek told me that it was a little dangerous, and Deaton explained how the ash worked, and everything was ok. I don’t want to be left out just because I’m human.”

       “Stiles, you can’t make wise decisions out of a place of ignorance. Derek knew that you could still get hurt, and he shouldn’t have let you make that decision.”

       “Laura, not to be an asshole about this, but I have two responses. First, today might have been very different if I hadn’t gone that night. I learned by listening to Derek and Allison how to help Jackson through his rough spot today. And I bet I was in much more danger from him even before the full moon than I was from Scott on the full moon.” Then his eyes got cold, “And, second, and this is the asshole part, but the only time I’ve been hurt through all of this was when I was supposed to meet you.”

       Laura flinched momentarily and then the ghost of a red glow washed over her eyes and she opened her mouth to respond, but Stiles kept talking. “But you’re not to blame for that anymore than Derek was for the full moon. I made the choice to get involved. I want to be involved. Is there always going to be some low level of danger in this for me? Fuck yes. But the most danger I’ve been in so far was that very first night with Peter in the Preserve when I was entirely ignorant.”

       “And when you get hurt again, how do I look your dad in the eyes?” she replied. “How do I say, ‘I’m sorry your son got hurt while running with the wolves?’”

      Stiles looked away for a moment, a certain tension in his movements, “Look, my dad’s not an idiot, he knows there isn’t a way to keep me away from all this, he knows me. Scott’s involved so I’m involved, that’s how we roll. Notice it wasn’t you who got the lecture when I woke up in the hospital.” He looked back up right into her eyes, “I’ve already agreed to work with Argent on some more advanced self defense than what my dad has taught me, and maybe start teaching me how to do more than just maybe survive against the supernatural. And I’m going to talk to Dr Deaton and learn about other things I can do to level the playing field. Just don’t sideline because I’m only a human. Help me be smart about it because I’m going to be involved.”

         She breathed out slowly. Then back in. “I’m not trying to push you out of the pack and I do just want you to be smart about this Stiles.”

        Derek opened his mouth and then closed it, then he stiffened and spoke, “Laura, you’re my alpha and my big sister, I don’t want this to cause a problem. But think about what would have happened if Stiles hadn’t shown up at the house. She was ready for me. I have no doubt she was ready for you too. But she didn’t see Stiles as a threat because he was only human, only a kid.”

       Laura was quiet for a moment, and Stiles wondered what she was thinking. “I see your point,” she said finally, “but what if she’d just shot him instead of taking him captive? It’s what I’d have done if I’d been her.”

       “Already with the death threats?” Stiles said with a small smile.

       “I like you Stiles. And I want you as Pack. You’re smart, and more, you’re clever. But you’re also overbold and impulsive. That’s a dangerous set of traits when you don’t have a way to protect yourself.”

       “I’m not arguing any of that,” Stiles replied, “just don’t push me away from the little bits of danger that I can learn from, in an attempt to keep me out of the bigger dangers. I know I’m human, I do, and I don’t want to get hurt again. That’s why I’m training with Argent. And why I’m going to talk to Deaton.”

        She glanced at Derek, clearly deep in thought, then finally she nodded. “Just be smart Stiles. Think before you act. Be careful.”

       “I promise,” he replied.

       “And no keeping secrets from your dad. If he says no, it means no.”

       Stiles nodded.

       Derek relaxed and walked back into the kitchen, and Laura leaned back into the couch. “So tell me about Jackson.”



715pm

      Derek heard Scott set his bike against the porch outside and glanced over to where Laura and Stiles were having a heated debate over the relative merits of DC versus Marvel, but he saw the quick tilt of her head when she heard him as well. A moment later Scott came bursting through the door and paused a moment when he saw Derek and Laura. Derek smiled briefly, clearly Scott hadn’t actually been using his new senses or he’d have known they were there.

      “Scott, thank god, a voice of reason! Tell this heathen that Batman is better than Iron Man EVERY DAY,” Stiles said without even turning to look.

      “Hey guys,” Scott said, and then after a moment continued, “And Batman is best. Always.” He said it like a fact that didn’t interest him at all but that he’d memorized many years before.

      Derek snorted. “You’re all idiots. Superman is the best.” He’d been avoiding weighing in on Stiles and Laura’s argument, which had revealed Stiles had a nerdy depth to almost match Laura’s encyclopedic love of all things comic. When they’d first announced Iron Man the movie she’d spent months talking about it. When the movie came out she had spent equal times loving it, and complaining that it had almost rewritten Tony Stark’s character. Though she’d also admitted it was probably an improvement and that RDJr was a gift to all mankind.

      Stiles turned on Derek, “Superman? What are you, a senior citizen? He’s all ‘aw shucks’ and ridiculously overpowered.”

      Derek shrugged, “That doesn’t matter, he’s an actual superhero rather than a billionaire in fetish gear, Stiles.”

      “Derek, you can’t just say that!” Stiles howled. “Fetish gear? I can’t believe I just heard Derek even say that!” He looked at Laura, “How is that heretic even related to you?”

      “Not a heretic Stiles,” Derek said from the doorway he’d retreated to. “And at least I agree with DC, so I’m not sure why you’re complaining so much.”

      Laura smiled, “I think he only got into Superman because they were the only comics I wouldn’t steal from him before he could read them.”

     Scott slumped into the loveseat, relaxed with an amused smile.

      Laura looked up at him, “Did Derek and I intrude onto plans you guys had?”

      Stiles laughed, “No, it’s Wednesday. So momma McCall is starting on nights again. Scott stays over here when she’s at work most of the time.”

      Scott groaned, “My dad called earlier and wants me to have dinner with him tomorrow, so I won’t be here until later. He forgets my birthday and then calls today since he’s in town like it’s no big deal.”

       “Your dad is the worst Scott,” Stiles replied.

       “He forgot your birthday?” Derek said. “For how long?”

       “A week,” Scott said with a sigh, “I mean, to be fair, he was busy with a human trafficking ring, but like a text was too much?” Scott shrugged. “Whatever, it’s not like it’s the first time.”

        Derek’s chest tightened with an unexpected feeling. His dad had always been so involved with the family, picking up a lot of the slack of keeping the home since his mom had been busy both being the alpha and with her own career. He knew not every family was like that, but hearing the frank way Scott commented on it gave him a new insight into the lack of relationship the boy had with his father.

       The fact that he still needed to sit down with the man and talk about his own kidnapping and the death of Kate just added to the complex of emotions he suddenly felt.

       Derek started feeling the need for some space, so he said, “I need to get dinner in the oven or we won’t eat until ten.” And then he turned and walked back toward the kitchen.

        He kept thinking about it as he assembled all the ingredients for his dad’s lasagna into the Pyrex baking dish he’d pulled out of the Stilinski’s cupboard. Knowing Stiles had strong opinions about John’s diet, he’d made his meat sauce with ¾ ground turkey and ¼ ground beef, but cooked it together so it wasn’t so readily apparent.

       He was so lost in concentration he didn’t even notice Stiles limp back into the kitchen until he was almost standing beside him. He glanced over at Stiles who was looking closely as he prepared. After a moment he said, “It’s mostly ground turkey.”

        Stiles smiled. “His cholesterol isn’t that bad yet, but the doctor said it was something to watch, and his mom died of a heart attack right before my mom got bad.”

        “Do you mind if I ask what happened to her?” Derek asked quietly. He’d gathered that Stiles mom had died when he was young, but hadn’t heard the details.

         “When I was eight,” Stiles said, looking away and fidgeting with the tail of his shirt, “she had a rare form of dementia.”

         Derek didn’t say anything and a silence grew between them for a moment, in the other room he could hear Laura and Scott arguing about baseball.

         “I know how much hearing ‘I’m sorry’ doesn’t help, and it’s still the only thing I know to say,” Derek finally said. “That loss, it’s like a well, and you never really get out of it.”

      Stiles tensed, and then a moment later Derek smelled the stress change in his scent. “We don’t really talk about her, my dad and I.”

      Derek nodded, “Laura and I are the same, we talk about them from before sometimes, memories and stupid things, but not about after .”

      Stiles closed his eyes and turned and looked away. “Yeah, exactly.”

      “Would you come to see them with me sometime?” Derek asked. “I haven’t been since the funeral.”

      “Of course,” Stiles said, looking back at him.

     “Maybe this weekend?”

      Stiles nodded, a small smile on his lips. “Anytime you want.”

      Derek slid the baking dish of lasagna into the oven and set the timer. “Okay then.” He finished and they walked back into the living room where Laura was pelting Scott with pillows from the couch.

 

Chapter Text

Thursday January 20, 2011

630am

 

      The alarm went off and Stiles groaned before he reached over without opening his eyes, and pushed Scott out of bed. “Go shower,” he muttered, and hit the snooze button. 

       Scott grumbled as he sat up and then yelped, which woke Stiles up faster than the alarm ever could. When he sat up, he saw Scott staring at the corner where wolf-Derek was laying, watching them. “The hell, Derek! You scared the hell out of me.” 

       Stiles slumped back into his pillows. “Oh yeah, he’s slept there the last couple of nights. It’s a pack thing I think.” 

       Scott shook his head and Stiles turned over and looked at Derek. “So back to fur-self huh? Am I going to have to bribe you with breakfast to get you human again?” Laura had gone back to the hotel the night before to check in with the betas, but Derek had stayed again.

        Derek tail smacked the wall a couple of times. 

        Stiles sighed, “Fine, go get dressed and I’ll meet you downstairs.” Stiles slipped out of bed and pulled on an old hoodie against the morning chill, his thigh aching and stiff after the night’s sleep. 

       He paused as he was pulling on some socks, strange fragments of his dreams still flashing through his mind. Puzzled, he made his way down the stairs and walked through the kitchen door out into the even colder garage. Soundlessly Derek appeared behind him soon after, his face unsure of what was going on, but not saying anything for several long minutes.

       “What is it?” Derek finally asked.

       “You know the idea that you only dream about people and places you know, or have seen?” 

       “Yeah?”

       “Do you think that applies to the things in your dreams too? Like, if I was going to dream about a freezer, you’d think it would be this one right?” 

        “Sure, I guess?” Derek replied.

        “All night last night I kept dreaming about a room and a freezer. But it wasn’t this one. And nothing about the room was familiar. There was, like, a street sign on the wall and a box with some trophies next to it.” 

        “I’m not sure what you mean Stiles.”

        “I’m not sure I do either,” Stiles said, not sure what exactly about the dream he was reacting to, “but it felt important somehow. I think there was a lock on the freezer. And-“ He paused again, remembering, “and maybe there was blood on the outside of the freezer.” He shook his head. “I don’t know dude, dreams are weird I guess.”

       Derek snorted. “You’re weird and your dreams are weird. And stop calling me dude, you sound like some frat bro.” 

       “Eh, I’ll be heading off for college in a year and a half, maybe I’ll join a frat, take up beer pong, and call everyone dude. Don’t judge my life choices cuddlewolf.” 

        Derek rolled his eyes and they walked back in the kitchen. Stiles grabbed the eggs and cheese from the fridge and set them on the counter. Then went back and pulled out the turkey bacon and some vegetables, which he proceeded to start dicing up and then dropping into a frying pan he’d started warming on the stove. As he cooked he hummed to himself, and upstairs he heard Scott turn off the shower, as well as someone else, probably his dad, coming down the stairs. A moment later the man himself walked into the kitchen. 

        “Can you grab some more eggs for me?” he said to Derek, “I’m not sure I have enough for my dad and me and two werewolves.”  

       Derek snorted and wordlessly handed him a second pack of eggs from the refrigerator. “I have to meet with Scott’s dad today, so I’ll stop and grab more before I head back?” When he spoke there was an odd questioning tone there, like he was asking for permission, and it took a moment for Stiles to figure out what was going through his head. Once he figured it out, he shot his dad a look, and the elder Stilinski smiled back before he turned to look at Derek. 

        “You could stop at the hotel and grab the rest of your stuff while you’re out, if you like,” John said to Derek, “I know Laura wants to stay at the hotel while the other betas are still in town, but if you’re going to be here you should have your stuff.” 

        “I will if you’re sure you want me here,” Derek replied, “Laura said it’s best that I avoid betas from another pack as much as possible until I have the alpha power under control, but I can get a room at a different hotel too. Or just get an apartment or something.” 

        “Nonsense. We have the room, and she said it would be good for you to have people you consider pack around. Besides, you can keep an eye on this miscreant when I’m working nights.” As he spoke he cupped Stiles neck in a familiar way that had always expressed the man’s affection when words failed him. Stiles had a moment of sadness as he realized that besides Laura, there was no one in Derek’s life that could give him the kind of easy affection that a lifetime of knowing someone would give, “And I should stop and have a couple of extra keys made this afternoon,” John added as Stiles started to pour the scrambled eggs into the frying pan. 

         After Scott had come downstairs and the eggs were all cooked, Stiles joined the others at the table, and as he half listened to them talk, his mind turned over the strangely haunting remnants of his dreams from the night before. He only paid slight attention to Scott excitedly talking about the upcoming lacrosse game, and his dad asking if Jackson was going to be a problem. 

        Stiles kept catching the half worried glances that the others kept throwing his way over the uncharacteristic silence, but the tinge of horror that echoed from the dreams kept dominating his thoughts and he continued to stay quiet while he ate and tried to remember more than just fragments of the dreams.

        

         

       

 

1230pm

 

     “Lunine, lunine, where the fuck is lunine?” Stiles muttered as he glanced through the Latin to English dictionary at the table in the library.

      “Are you sure you don’t mean lumine?” Lydia said unexpectedly from behind him. 

      Stiles turned, “You know Latin?” 

      She shrugged. “I dabble.” 

       “I’m not sure,” he said. “Whoever Severtus Julius was, he was the worst. There’s like no spaces between words,and the hand-writing is way worse than mine.”  

       “Are you trying to read a primary source?” Lydia asked. 

        “I’m trying to read the fucker’s notebook,” Stiles said with a grimace and a shrug, “but he didn’t even need to write in code to be impossible to read.” 

        She rolled her eyes and grabbed the oversized but thin book from in front of Stiles. When he reached to grab it back she slapped his hand and said, “Stop.”  

       She glanced over the first pag e. “Wow,” Lydia said after a moment, “This really is awful. The no space between words though, that’s an actual Roman thing.” She motioned for Stiles to give her the paper he’d been translating onto. She looked at it and rolled her eyes again. “Have you ever looked at Latin before?” she asked.

       “Does ‘carpe diem’ count?” he asked with a smirk.

        “No,” Lydia said as she glanced over the pages. “And that shows in your translation. Fine. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll translate your manuscript in return for two things.” 

        “I’m interested,” he replied. “What do you want?”

       “First, never mention to anyone that I did this for you,” she said, “Or you’ll regret it. And second, I want you to stop embarrassing me in public with your stupid crush. Deal?”

         “I, ummm,” he said as he slid back and down into his chair, suddenly feeling very exposed.

       Sh e shifted her expression and glared back at him, her eyes suddenly filled with an icy rage. “Do you understand how humiliating it is to be treated like an object to be owned? Like I can be bought or won, like a prize at some tacky carnival? I know you don’t understand why I’m with Jackson, you’ve said it often enough, but for all of Jackson’s worst traits, he would never consider me an object.” The worst part of it may have been the low tight voice she used, a furious quiet sound that filled him with shame. Here, in the privacy of the corner of the library was Lydia as he’d never expected to see her, stripped of the superficial facade she usually wore. Intense and alive with her fury, as she leaned forward across the table in a naked aggression that stunned him in it’s abruptness. 

          His face flushed a deep red, burning with shame, as he looked away, Every word she said hit deeply home, revealing to him how his actions had gotten increasingly unacceptable over the years, “Oh fuck, oh god Lydia,” he said, his voice shaking, “I have been such an asshole. Fuck, what was I thinking? I didn’t mean that. At some point, I stopped seeing you as you. Shit.” He paused, seeing his actions for the first time through the lens of how she must have felt them. “Jesus Lydia, I’m so sorry.” 

         She nodded, the fierce glare fading from her eyes, and the slightly vacant facade she wore so fully slipped back into place. It was a shocking reminder that while he’d seen hints of how much she hid, that he didn’t really know her, and he wondered how much of what he’d assumed about her was just a fantasy. For the first time he began to consider that might actually be almost all it was. “Good,” she said simply. “With Jackson being how he is, I imagine we’ll all be around each other more, I wanted to get this cleared up.”  She glanced around before she leaned back across the table, “But you need to understand, I don’t want to be seen as some weirdo. So we’re going to have to do something about-” she gestured at him, “all of that.” 

Her sudden about-face left him speechless. “What do you mean, ‘all of this’?” He looked down in surprise, because he’d put on a clean shirt that morning and everything. Mostly because Derek had washed all of his laundry the day before, and he was pretty sure the wolf had hidden or maybe thrown out a couple of pairs of Stiles oldest shoes. They had actually begun to smell a bit Stiles had to acknowledge to himself, so it was understandable that they might offend wolfish senses.

     She rolled her eyes, “Stiles, stop arguing. Just go along with what I say and I'll have you acceptably popular before Jackson even shifts next month, just do what I say.” 

        “Wait, I mean, fine, but I don’t have to talk to the idiots on the football team do I?” Stiles replied, real terror on his face. “Jackson I can deal with, but Quincy and Robert Ashton are a step too far.” 

     “Quincy will be asking you why you never come to his parties by next week. And Robert will probably low-key ask you to come over sometime by the end of the month. Don’t do it, I think he buys Rohypnol in bulk.” She flipped back to the front of the book and started scratching away at Stiles’ notes. Filling in corrections and adding commentary in the margins of the translation. 

“Why?” Stiles asked, “and how?” 

  Lydia sighed and put down her pen. “Stiles. This is what I do. I make and destroy reputations. Jocelyn Keller is at Beacon Valley now because she tried to sleep with Jackson, and she thinks it was her idea. I thought about getting rid of Robert, but here I can keep people out of his way until someone is willing to come forward publicly. Plus, without him the football team will never win a game again unless we can get a decent quarterback. Also, I’m going to have Danny switch your Honors History and your Study Hall starting tomorrow. I’ve been trying to figure out how to get rid of Tammy Holcomb sharing my table, and this will be perfect time. She steals my pens and leaves post-its everywhere.” She paused again, tapping her pen on the notepad, then smiled with some internal thought, “Yes, perfect. So I imagine people will probably ask you who you were sleeping with in your old history class, just don’t name anyone. Imply it was someone dating someone else and be vague about the gender and it’ll be perfect.”

  He just stared at her speechless.

She looked at him as the seconds ticked by and he couldn’t put any words together. “This is where you say, ‘yes Lydia’.” She prodded his hand with her pen.

He rolled his eyes, slumping further down into his seat and groaning. “Yes Lydia.” Then after a moment he leaned forward across the table, his curiosity in full gear. “S o wait, who are people going to think I was sleeping with?”

She grinned, “Well, some will think it was Lester Holt, but I imagine the majority will think it was Caitlin Muir. She and her boyfriend aren’t exclusive, so it won’t matter, and Lester is notoriously unfaithful and somewhat-.” she paused, the pen poised in the air in front of her, “indiscriminate. Either way it doesn’t matter, suddenly you’ll be seen as someone who is desirable, which is really what this is about. ” 

“You know honestly, I’ve met an actual serial killer, and right now you terrify me more than she did,” Stiles said with a relaxed grin. 

She smiled as she looked back up at him, and his stomach lurched slightly. “That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me, Stiles. And as a lesson, that is the kind of compliment that works on me.” 

He laughed, and said candidly, “For years I thought I knew what you were really like beneath the Lydia Martin exterior, but I think I didn’t even come close. Why did you even stop and help me today? Was it just to clear this up, or was there another reason?” 

        She looked at him with a long steady gaze that made him feel like he was being measured in some way, before she finally replied, “Jackson was reason enough, but your idiotic crush on me aside, how did you see me?” 

        He looked and her and sighed. “Honestly?” 

        She nodded.

        “I’ve always thought you were the most brilliant person I’d ever seen,” he said quietly. “Your IQ is probably like a million. I know you do topological mathematics in the margins of your chemistry notes because you’re bored most of the time. You speak Spanish and French, and apparently in your free time you’ve learned Latin, so I have no doubt you know at least a couple of other languages. On top of all of that, you’ve completely conquered the social hierarchy as a sophomore. I don’t understand why you bother, but it’s clearly important to you. I didn’t quite see how actually terrifying it would be to have all of that attention on me, and I think I understand why Jackson is so Jackson now. But I’ve always been in awe of you, and honestly I think I always will be. You’re fucking amazing and whatever you decide to do you’re probably going to change the world.” 

         She looked at him, the superficial facade stripped away again. “How do you know all of that?” she finally asked.

         He sighed and glanced around before leaning closer and answering, “I know everyone thinks I talk too much. That’s the ADD, and I can’t really do much about it,” Stiles said, “but I hear as much as I talk. I see as much as I talk. And I’ve been paying attention to you since the third grade. So how could I miss it?” 

        She nodded. “I might have underestimated you a little bit too, you know. I never trusted that you could keep things a secret, and secrets are a currency. But you’ve seen all of that, and the werewolf thing, and now I think maybe we can try to be friends.”

       He smiled again, and looked at her, seeing her more truly than he ever had, “I think that would be awesome. Just, you know, if I’m an asshole again, tell me. Clearly I don’t always see-” He looked for the right word, “I don’t always see what I’m doing.” 

      She gathered up the pages of the translation, and stood up. “I think I can do that. And now, I need to actually find the books I came here to get.” She looked back at the book, “When do you need this done? And when is Jackson supposed to meet the alpha?” 

He shrugged, “I don’t think it’s hugely important, so whenever, it was a book that Kate had with her in the house, I’m just curious why she had it I guess. And I asked Jackson if he was free tonight, but he Jacksoned me and told me he’d let me know.” 

She rolled her eyes. “He’d be completely offended that you call it that, but I know exactly what you mean. Tonight will be fine. Should we come to your house?”

      “I’ll check with her first, but yeah, probably. I’m going to practice today to keep an eye on Jackson and Scott to help keep them focused, I should have an answer by then.” 

      She tapped her pen against the book as she looked at him. and added quietly, “I wish you’d never thought you loved me, because I could have used you as a friend more.” 

       He looked back down before looking back to catch her eye, ashamed again by his actions, “I’ll never be sorry I thought you were worth being in love with, but I am truly sorry I was such an asshole about it. Because, even though the person I thought you were was awesome.” He paused, as her eyes got slightly hard again, before continuing, “The thing is, the you that I saw here? Yeah, way more awesome and more than a little terrifying. So hell yeah I want to be your friend, because fuck it all, you’re amazing.”  

       She smiled and gathered her things before she glanced at him one last time, the look on her face unreadable, and walked away. It wasn’t until after she left that he realized she’d never actually answered his question about why she was helping him.

Chapter Text

330pm

    Stiles was annoyed to find himself in the bleachers by the field watching two werewolves try not to reveal their supernatural skills, and muttering quiet encouragement to them while they struggled to not give into the beast inside. Because he’d already reached the point of almost normalcy about it all, he also quickly found himself bored, and multitasked by texting Laura. 

 

Stiles: Oh Alpha my Alpha!

Laura: Are there any other humans we can adopt instead of you?

Stiles: Ouch Laura, that one hurt.

Laura: Wait, really? 

Stiles: No, because clearly I’m awesome. But it MIGHT have hurt. If I was less awesome.

Laura: How bout that kid at the 7/11? Greenberg I think his name is? He seems ok. 

Stiles: He has athlete’s foot. Plus he’s failing economics. I’m not even sure HOW, since normally coach just autopasses everyone on the team.

Laura: Fine. I guess we’ll keep you. What’s up? 

Stiles: So tonight work for you for me to bring Jax around? 

Laura: Does he know you call him Jax? 

Stiles: Are you kidding? The last guy to call him that almost lost a kidney, and that was before he became a creature of the night. 

Laura: I’m going to regret Peter’s choices forever aren’t I? 

Stiles: I mean, you got me when he bit Scott, so that’s a win. 

Stiles: But yeah, I already regret Jax. . 

Stiles: Though Scott is like the best ever. So it evens out.

Laura: Scott’s basically a labrador, you realize that right? 

Stiles: Wait, did you just make a dog joke?!? OH MY GOD<3 <3

Stiles: Seriously, you’re the best.

Stiles: And also, so true. 

Laura: I’ve known born wolves like that, but I’ve never met a bitten beta that had as few problems at the beginning as he has. 

Stiles: It’s cause I’m an awesome Obi Wan. 

Laura: No, it’s because he apparently is an actual Disney princess. 

Stiles: Funny story, I have a picture on my phone of a bird landing on his shoulder.

Laura: Shut up. Really? 

Stiles: Serious. It was amazing. 

Stiles: So, tonight?

Laura: Oh yeah, bring him by. Actually, let’s meet at the warehouse. I finally got the new door put in today, plus some actual furniture. 

Stiles: Holy shit. Furniture? What’s next a minifridge? 

Laura: Fuck no. A full size fridge, have you seen werewolves eat? 

Stiles: That’s a valid point. Also, can we have a bar? 

Laura: Are you 21? 

Stiles: I have an excellent fake that says I am.

Laura: I’ll make sure I let your father know. 

Stiles: YOU WOULDN’T!!!!

Laura: Try me Stilinski. 

Stiles: I’m putting wolfsbane in your laundry detergent.

Laura: Greenberg is definitely a better choice.

Stiles: /googles aconite suppliers/

Stiles: Holy fuck, Scott just did a back flip and caught a ball. 

Laura: Jesus, way to keep it under the radar Scott. 

Stiles: I told him that if he did it again I’d put wolfsbane in his laundry. He looked guilty. 

Laura: Recycling your threats? Slacker.

Stiles: Please, recycling is the zeitgeist.

Laura: Nice vocabulary word. 

Stiles: Notice I can spell it and everything. 

 

    Stiles glanced up where Jackson was gripping the handle of his crosse so hard Stiles could see the metal starting to give as he stared at Scott. His thoughts raced and he whispered, “Jesus Jacks, hopefully you don’t grip your dick that tight when you jack off.” 

    Jackson’s eyes flashed as he turned towards Stiles, taking a step. 

    “That’s it Jackson, focus, and now breathe. You’ve got this. Scott doesn’t have much more experience than you. You’ll both get through today.” 

    Jackson loosened his grip on his crosse and turned back toward the field. A few minutes later, just as Stiles was bending back to his texts he heard the tell tale woosh as the ball flew past his head. He jerked back as he looked back towards the field where the coach was yelling at a smirking Jackson. 

    “Sorry coach,” Jackson said unapologetically, “Got confused at which way the goal was.”

    “You jackass, what if that had hit me, asshole!” Stiles shouted at him. 

         “Shut up Stilinski,” Jackson said as he jogged by to retrieve the ball, “You’ve seen me play, you know if I’d meant to hit you it would have.” 

    On the field Scott was gripping his crosse now, his eyes starting to flash a dangerous gold. 

    “Jesus Scott, calm down,” Stiles whispered, “Think about Allison, think about your date after the game tomorrow. Listen to my heartbeat.” On the field Scott’s grip on the crosse loosened and Jackson stopped as he came back by. 

    “You’re pretty good at this werewolf whisperer thing aren’t you?” 

    Stiles snorted. “Well, I’ve also got back-up.” He gestured to the hill rising towards the school where Lydia and Allison were sitting in the fading afternoon sunlight talking about what Stiles wasn’t sure, but he knew Allison was keeping her ears open to what was going on. 

    Jackson nodded and jogged back onto the field. 

 

Laura: I'm sure your dad is so proud that you’ve mastered autocorrect.

Stiles: Think Satomi would be interested in an awesome human for her pack. 

Laura: For dinner? 

Stiles: I thought she was like into Buddhist werewolfiness? 

Laura: Gotta satisfy the need for human flesh somehow.

Stiles: That’s the most creepy thing you’ve ever said to me.

Laura: Didn’t Derek warn you? 

Stiles: In his moping missing you he somehow forgot to mention you were sort of an asshole.

Laura: Sorry to disappoint. 

Stiles: Are you kidding, I feel like we were separated at birth. 

Laura: Aw, the feeling is mutual Robin. 

Stiles: Wait, no way! I am totally Batman in this relationship!

Laura: Hardly. I’m the badass creature of the night. Doing good with brutal means.

Stiles: Please, Derek has the brooding bad boy look down. 

Laura: It’s just the eyebrows. 

Stiles: It’s definitely the eyebrows. Like he has this whole eyebrow language I think. It’s hilarious.

Laura: Oh my god, right? And he’s so much better about using his words than he was even a year ago.

Stiles: I looked him up in the old yearbooks. They were terrifying even then. 

Laura: Thank god he finally grew into them. 

 

    They continued texting as Stiles kept watch on the werewolves, but as the practice wore on he could tell that the edge of the aggression had worn off, and while Jackson kept having moments where he was clearly struggling to keep control, he didn’t come close to losing it again. When coach called an end to practice Stiles slipped his phone in his pocket and started to limp across to where Lydia and Allison were laughing in the grass. Jackson jarred him as he went past and growled, “Watch it, Stilinski.” 

    He gently lowered himself down next to them. “Oh my god, I never want to get stabbed again, this shit sucks. Also, Jackson is still an asshole,” he complained as he gently rubbed his aching thigh. 

    “Being a werewolf isn’t going to change who he is inside Stiles, isn’t that what you said? I do still want to hear the full story about Kate though.” Lydia smiled like a predator. 

    “Honestly the official story is pretty true. I literally tripped over psycho Kate at the Hale house.”

    “The newspaper thinks you were there to pick up a jacket you’d left out there the day before,” Lydia said, “And now that I know about werewolves and hunters, I’m guessing that’s not exactly accurate.” 

    Stiles sighed, rubbing his hand over his face. “Ask me after the meeting tonight, Laura wants everyone to meet at the warehouse in an hour if that’s cool?” 

    “Fine,” Lydia snapped.

    “Honestly Lydia, I’m not trying to annoy you, there’s just secrets that aren’t mine all caught up in this.” 

    She paused, as if considering, and then nodded, her irritated expression fading a bit.

    “So Stiles, why are you and Jackson the way you guys are?” Allison said, clearly trying to change the subject.

    Stiles groaned and said, “Honestly I’m not really sure. It’s like sometime in junior high we went from being not friends to actual enemies.”

    “Seventh grade,” Lydia said, as she wrote down the next lines of the translation she’d been working on. “It was seventh grade, around the time that Stiles asked me to go to the winter dance.”

    “So it’s all over you?” Allison asked confused. 

    Lydia sighed, “Not exactly. Jackson and I were already a thing, in a junior high kind of way. And Stiles came up during lunch and sat down next to me and in front of everyone asked me to the dance. It was just so random, because he and I hadn’t even talked since fifth grade, and it was weird and sort of uncomfortable.” 

    Allison glanced at Stiles, whose face was starting to turn red, and who was looking anywhere but at the two girls he was sitting with. “Not my finest moment,” he finally said. “And then Jackson lunged across the table and hit me.”

    Lydia nodded. “Jackson had just found out he was adopted, and had been being weird all week. But I ended up breaking up with Jackson over it, because I do not need to be defended like I’m anyone’s property, and went to the dance with Robert Ashton, and Stiles and Jackson became dedicated to hating each other.”

    “It went all next level when Scott talked me into joining lacrosse last year,” Stiles added. “I thought he was going to straight up murder me at tryouts.”

    Allison’s face grew thoughtful and she was quiet for a long time before she asked, “Is this going to be a problem with having him around the pack?” 

    Stiles frowned, “Why would it? I mean, I can’t imagine that everyone in a pack always gets along do they?” 

    Allison shrugged a bit, tipping her head side to side, “Yes and no. Like, there’s always people who are closer. And the pack size affects things a lot. But usually if there’s a really serious problem it gets worked out, or else someone ends up leaving. That’s why Satomi sent Gary here, to get some distance while the tension between him and his ex cools off.”

    Stiles heart clenched a bit, he refused to be kicked out the the pack just because he and Jackass couldn’t get along. “Well, I guess we’ll have to work through our stuff then.” 

    Lydia snorted, “Good luck with that.” 

    “Hey! Be a supportive friend over there!” 

    Lydia laughed, “That was supportive. My first response was ‘that is never ever happening’.” 

    Stiles groaned and flopped back onto the grass. “Fuck my life,” he said softly.

 

515pm

    Stiles slammed through the door and dropped his bag on the ground. “Fucking door,” he muttered and rubbed his shin where he’d smacked into it, and made his way into the living room where his dad and Derek were watching a basketball game. “Hey guys.” He flopped onto the couch next to his dad, and reached over and grabbed the magazine that the sheriff had abandoned.

    “Rough day?” his dad asked, looking carefully at him. 

    “Rough week. Can I sleep for the rest of it?” 

    “Not a chance. Do you need to skip the meeting tonight? Laura told me about it.” 

    “No, I need to go and at least introduce everyone,” Stiles said with a sigh. “I just wish my leg felt better.” 

    “It’s going to take some time,” his dad replied, “Even though you caught that knife in a best case scenario, it’s still going to take awhile to heal an injury that deep.” 

    “I know. This would just be a lot easier if I could just move around like a normal person, this thing is super annoying.” 

    “Well, think about that before your next shoot-out, son.” 

    “Thanks dad, you’re going to get Father of the Year with no problem with that level of support. Scott at dinner with his dad?” 

    “Yeah, he said he’d be over afterward. I’m meeting Melissa in an hour for our usual dinner since she goes in late tonight.” 

    “You missed your chance to throw a party tonight with Derek and me gone,” Stiles joked, setting the magazine back down and picking up the remote to play with.

    “Maybe next week,” his dad replied. “Melissa and I are going to try that new Italian place on Columbia.”

    “Wait, isn’t that the one you think is run by drug dealers?” 

    “Well, if the lasagna is terrible, I’ll know something is up. And in the meantime, I get a meal that has actual red meat in it.” 

    “I’m texting Melissa to make sure you order a salad with that,” Stiles griped. 

    “If the actual nurse isn’t worried about my cholesterol isn’t that a sign?”

    “She’s probably just trying to get me for her own, considering how awesome I am.” 

    Derek, who’d been sitting silently through all of this just snorted. 

    “And what does that snort mean McGruff?” 

    Derek rolled his eyes, and said, “Is that what you’re wearing to the meeting or do you want to change before we head out?” 

    “What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?” Stiles said with a shrug, wondering what was wrong with his outfit that both Lydia and Derek thought he should change it. He glanced down at his shirt, it still looked clean.

    “Nothing, it’s fine. we should head out then.”

    “Okay.” Stiles struggled back to his feet, and handed the remote back to his dad. “Have fun at dinner, daddio, and tell Melissa I said hi.”

    “Don’t let him stay out too late,” his dad said, looking at Derek. “He needs his rest no matter what he says.” 

    “No argument from me,” Stiles replied, “I’m ready for a week of uninterrupted sleep.”

    He limped back to the door and almost tripped over his bag until Derek caught him. “Thanks buddy,” Stiles said, “Clumsier than usual today.” 

    Derek nodded, and they walked out to the jeep and got in. As they drove, Stiles glanced at the older man who seemed slightly off somehow.

    “Is everything okay?” he finally asked.

    “Yeah, worried about tonight. Laura almost told me not to come, but she wanted to see how it went in a fairly controlled environment.

    “Is it that big a deal?” 

    Derek looked away out the window and shrugged before finally saying, “It’s hard. Laura’s been working with me during the day to help me get comfortable with the alpha power, but it’s a lot. It’s like when I was a teenager again trying to find my anchor again. The worst is that I’m suddenly way more territorial about things. Your dad grabbed my glass earlier when he was going to the kitchen and I had the urge to jump up and grab it back. I think I’m prepared for the big things, but it’s the little ones that slip by.” 

    “Fuck dude, that sounds intense.” 

    “Dude again?” 

    “It’s California Derek, dude is our heritage.” 

    The wolf sighed and shook his head.

    “Well, try not to kill Jackson, he’s annoying, but-” Stiles thought for a moment, “see the thing about Jackson is this: he’s like a total asshole, but, at the same time, he’s also like really good at everything. He’s not a genius or anything, he just works harder than anyone else at doing well. And I know he wasn’t always as good at lacrosse as he is now, but I’ve seen him at the school on weekends and during the summer, working at getting better. I guess that’s the thing, he’s always trying to be better. So yeah, an asshole, but like, you have to admire him a bit too, I guess?”

    “My brother was like that,” Derek said. “Kyle.” Then he was silent, and Stiles wondered if he was regretting that he’d brought up one of the lost Hales. “He was younger than Cora, so you wouldn’t have known him, but he-” Derek stopped again, his voice cracking slightly, “he always tried to keep up with us. When he was seven he snuck out after Laura and I had left for a run, and followed us through the preserve. When we got to the top of Murray Hill we’d stopped running and were just goofing off in the trees and he comes panting up the hill. Mom was so mad at him when we got home, but he was so proud that he’d run as far as we had. He wouldn’t even let me carry him back, he insisted we let him run with us.”

    Stiles listened quietly, appreciating the sharing for what it was, before he asked, “What was your favorite thing about him?”

    Derek smiled, “His wolf rode the surface all the time. I mean, even for one of us.” 

    “What do you mean?” 

    “Born wolves,” Derek said, “we’re intense.” He looked at Stiles. “I assumed you’d noticed it. It’s the wolf, the way they see the world.” 

    Stiles thought back, “I mean, I’ve noticed it, but I thought it was a Hale thing,” he shrugged.

    “No, it’s most born wolves. With Billy it isn’t noticeable very often, but it’s still there. If you know what to look for, we give ourselves away in a hundred ways. I know you think of us as basically human, but we’re not always, not completely. We just hold back in some ways.”

    “Like what?” Stiles asked. 

    “You’ve seen me and Laura together, the way we stand and touch, that’s us trying to fit in with humans. If no one is around we just end up on top of each other, constantly touching. But humans filter that differently. They think it’s a sex thing, but with born wolves it’s just a pack thing. I mean, yes, sometimes it is a sex thing too,” he laughed a little, “but mostly it’s just constantly being in each others space. In New York, we each had our own rooms, but we shared a bed 99 percent of the time. Sometimes one of us needed space, but it’s not a common feeling. It’s different for bitten wolves. Their brains are wired more human, though you’re going to notice Scott probably getting more touchy with everyone, as time goes on.” 

“He did cuddle more into me last night than he usually does, which I mean, the dude is a total cuddler anyway, but yeah, I did notice it. What else?” 

    “Have you noticed how often Laura and I smell for things?” 

    “That one I have noticed,” Stiles said. “You do this thing where you’ll take like three short little sniffs. I thought it was a you thing until I hung out with Laura the first time.” 

    “There’s a lot of information we get from scent that is completely invisible to humans. You’ll notice I rarely ask Laura how she feels about something, because if we’re close by each other I can smell how she feels about things. It’s harder with people I don’t know as well, because every person's body chemistry is a little different, though some things are fairly universal.”

    “Wait, so what kind of things are easiest?”

    “Rage is easy, irritation, lust of course. Depression has a scent in most people. Jealousy smells worse than rage.”

    “That’s weird and cool, Der,” Stiles said with a smile, as he tapped a rhythm on the steering wheel. A moment later he pulled off the road and parked beside the warehouse, and they slid out and made their way inside.

Chapter Text

615pm

    Melissa slipped into the seat across from John with a sigh. “Sorry I’m late,” she started, and he smiled. 

    “No worries, I’ve been trying to decide what artery clogging delight I’m going to take advantage of tonight.” 

    Melissa laughed. She knew John would end up ordering something fairly healthy, and knew he would most likely tell Stiles he ordered the most artery clogging option. Since John’s diagnosis two years before of slightly elevated cholesterol, Stiles and he had gone back and forth about Johns diet. And while his cholesterol was back under control, Stiles constantly pushed his father towards healthy choices, and John delighted in making Stiles crazy by telling him about the worst food choices possible.

    They chatted for a few minutes about work, and then John glanced around before asking, “So how are you really dealing with Scott’s new furry thing?” 

    She closed her eyes for a moment as she leaned back into the chair. “Honestly? I’m still freaking out. Laura is much better at keeping me in the loop than Derek is, so that’s nice. But still, werewolves? I keep having moments where it really hits me again and I just-“ She let her voice trail off, trying to find words for her feelings. 

           “I know what you mean. I get that it’s different for me, Stiles wasn’t the one bitten, but suddenly his life has changed. It’s been Scott and him versus the world for so long, and now he’s suddenly got this whole group of friends. Then yeah, I remember they’ve got-“ he waved his hand from side to side, “you know, the fur, the fangs, the glowing eyes.” He shook his head. “Remember when a couple weeks ago our biggest worry was if they were sneaking out to drink and if they did their homework?” 

         Melissa laughed, “The good old days?” 

         John grinned. “I’m not so sure. After Kate I wanted to lock Stiles in his room and not let him out again. But he’s been different lately, alive in a way I hadn’t realized he wasn’t. And I like the Hales. Derek’s a good kid, and he says he’ll make sure Stiles stays safe, so I’m just trying to remember that he’s almost 17, and I can’t just lock him in his room to keep him safe.” 

          She nodded in sympathy, “I know! My abuela called a couple of days ago and we were talking about Scott, and I realized that I now have a whole secret life I’m going to be hiding. But I’m glad it happened now, rather than in a year or two when they might have tried to keep it from us.” 

           “They’re not very good at keeping secrets,” John said, grinning, “I think I’d figure out something was going on fairly quickly.” 

           “Yes, but we wouldn’t guess werewolves, would we? I’d probably have assumed girls or booze probably.” 

            John chewed on his lip a bit, a habit she recognized from their years of friendship was a specific sign of family-related anxiety. “That’s another side of it. I don’t want them trying to keep things from us. I’ve been meaning to sit down with Chris Argent and get a ‘so your kid’s a werewolf 101’ from him. But with Raphael underfoot at the station I’ve just been too busy.” 

            She groaned. “God, I know. I ran into him at the gas station this afternoon and he acted like he hadn’t avoided me and Scott for the last 7 years.” 

            John bit off a laugh, “So he’s not trying to say it’s for your own good anymore?” 

           “No. But he did ask about Allison of all people. He didn’t know her name, but said he’d seen her and Scott together and wondered if that was his girlfriend. I told him if he’d tried harder as a father he’d know if she was.” 

           “They’re still planning on going out Friday night?” 

            “Yeah after the game. I talked to Laura about it to make sure it wouldn’t cause problems, since Scott is still learning control, but Laura thinks it should be ok, and Allison will be able to track if Scott starts to slip. This is a whole aspect of dating that the parenting books definitely do not cover.” 

            John laughed and started to reply when the smile slipped off his face and he merely said, “Speak of the devil, incoming ex.” 

            Melissa turned and saw Rafe just as he caught sight of them, and she watched him wave away the hostess and start to walk over. She sighed. “$20 says he’ll open with an insinuation we’re on a date.” 

           John snorted, “I’m not letting you win a sure bet.” 

          She glanced back at him with a smile. 

          “Well this is a surprise,” Rafe said. “I didn’t expect to run into you two. Together. I hope I’m not interrupting?” 

          She found it hard to resist rolling her eyes, “John and I try to grab dinner every week or so, since we end up co-parenting the boys most of the time with you and Claudia both being absent.” She knew it was a rude response, but Rafe’s lack of interest in being a father had been a sore point for years. 

           Rafe pursed his lips slightly, probably biting back an escalating response. “And yet I notice that I’m in town and I’m still not invited to join your dinner.”  

          “My understanding was you were having dinner with Scott,” she replied. 

           Rafe shrugged, “I’m grabbing food now then headed over. I lost track of time reading some case files.” 

          “Enjoy your dinner.” 

          “And you two enjoy your date,” he replied snidely. 

          “I’ve always wondered how someone who loves to jump to conclusions before he has the facts ever had a successful career with the FBI,” Melissa responded savagely. “Because you’ve implied or outright accused John and I of being in a relationship at least 6 times now, and you’ve never once been correct.” 

          “I’m not the only one who’s ever pointed out how cozy you are,” Rafe shot back. 

          “My wife was also suffering from the dementia that would eventually kill her when she said that,” John said quietly, and no one could miss the silent rage that underlay the words. “So I think it’s time you go get your food and spend time with your kid rather than try to dig up old grief and lies.” 

           Rafe stood there staring for a moment before he broke eye contact and walked off.

           John looked back at Melissa, “Honestly, what did you ever see in him?” 

          Melissa laughed. “I was 16, and had terrible taste. He had a great car and this kind of intensity when he looked at me. It took me awhile to realize the great car and the brooding didn’t make a good husband. And by then we were both in school and Scott was on the way. Thank god for my sisters, if they hadn’t been around to help with the baby I have no idea how things might have turned out.”

          “Are they coming out this summer?” 

          “Possibly. Helen for sure since Riley and Spencer are in college out here. Jennifer and Robbie are talking about going to Yellowstone instead, so we’ll see what happens.” 

           “We could always pack the boys up and meet them up there. I haven’t been in years and Stiles has never been. I’ve certainly got the vacation time.” 

           “That sounds great, I’ll talk to Helen and Jenn about it.”  


7pm 

    The changes in the warehouse in just a few days were astounding. Allison had wondered what Laura had been doing with her time, and now she could see the alpha had been busy. Not just with adding furniture, but also the beginning of some strategic construction. Metal partial walls were bolted to the ceiling and sunk into new concrete that had clearly been recently poured, to provide some defenses to the room. The scent of wolfsbane was still in the air, but much fainter than she expected. 

    She watched as Laura came around one of the walls and handed Stiles a Sprite with a big smirk on her face. “So what do you think Robin? A decent Bat-cave?” 

    “Dammit Laura, I told you, I’m the Batman here.”

    She snorted, “Sure you are. Maybe Nightwing,”

    “Hell yeah, I’ll take it. Nightwing is awesome!” Stiles replied. Allison slipped in between the two Hales, leaning in to touch them both. 

           She saw the startled look on Stiles’ face, and a moment later a clear realization. It made her smile inside to watch the way that his thoughts were so clear on his face. It was what her dad called an honest face, revealing his thoughts and feelings openly. She’d noticed it about both Scott and him, they weren’t people used to hiding things, and it saddened her that very soon they’d change. The supernatural world wasn’t a world for honest faces. 

            A ding on her phone made her glance at the screen. “Lydia says they're about fifteen minutes away,” she said looking at Laura. 

            “Gary and Billy should be here before that. They’re on the way back with food now, and Scott is running late with his dad so he might not make it.”

             “God he’s the worst,” Stiles grumbled. “I mean Agent Asshole obviously.” 

             “What’s the deal with him?” Allison asked. “Scott hasn’t really wanted to talk about him.” 

             “After like champion levels of absentee fatherism up to and including forgetting birthdays and anniversaries Melissa finally kicked him out when Scott was 9. And Scott didn’t see him again for two years until Agent Asshole randomly just showed up and wished Scott a happy birthday on the wrong day. Since then it’s mostly been the occasional call or card. Then a year ago he dropped in and mentioned he’d gotten remarried and wife number two is pregnant, but he didn’t bring her to meet Scott, and hasn’t asked Scott to come visit. But he did feel free to mention that he had learned from his mistakes when Scott was little and wanted to be a better father to the new kids.” 

           “Wow. Sounds like a winner,” Allison added dryly. 

           “Yeah, I’m really looking forward to when he interviews me. Speaking of,” he looked at Derek, “when are you supposed to talk to him?” 

            “Tomorrow in the afternoon. I have an appointment with the building inspector at 10 to see if there are any problems with the building I’m looking at. Then I understand there’s a lacrosse game I can’t miss.” 

             “Look at you with a busy schedule!” Stiles teased. He looked over at Allison and added, “When I first met him it was all ‘grrr pesky youths!’ and looming behind trees.” 

             Derek sighed, “My life was so much easier then. Now I’ve got a pack of idiot teenagers around all the time. No time for looming behind trees at all.” 

             “Poor Der,” Laura said, “I have no idea how you manage.” 

             “Hot chocolate and breakfast burritos mostly,” Derek said with a small smile.

              Behind them Allison heard the door open and she realized she’d been so distracted that she’d missed Gary and Billy pulling up outside. She turned and watched them slip in, wide grins on their faces as they caught sight of her. Billy pushed up into her space as soon as he got close enough. She’d so been busy with her dad and getting Jackson up and running that she hadn’t seen either beta for a couple of days. He was one of the members of Satomi’s pack she was closest to, and it relaxed something in her she hadn’t realized was tense. 

            Beside her though, she felt Derek start to tense up and she realized that with his new alphahood a non-pack beta getting in his space was likely stressful, and she saw the realization dawn on Billy at the same time. He pulled away and stepped back. Derek looked over at them and winced. “It’s fine,” he got out, “it just caught me by surprise.” 

           Billy smiled, “Hey Derek, no. It’s good. It’s a big change. How’re you doing? I’m a little surprised you’re here actually. A rising alpha is usually pretty volatile around non-Pack wolves.” 

           “Yeah, it’s-“ Derek crossed his arms over his chest defensively, “it’s a change. I didn’t think it would be this hard.” 

            “Don’t worry, I’ll keep back,” Billy said easily and Allison had a quick flash of appreciation for the born wolf. They chattered for a few minutes about the week. Billy had had a brief interview with McCall and his partner that day, but since he’d only been involved in the attack on the warehouse and not Kate’s death, it had been pretty short. But when he finished telling them about the interview there was a moment when he paused, unsure if he should go on. 

            “What is it?” Allison finally asked. 

            “Well, during the interview McCall said something. It wasn’t direct exactly. But I kind of wonder if he knows about us. Werewolves I mean.” 

           Allison saw Laura turn away from where she was teasing Stiles and focus on Billy immediately. “What does that mean? What did he say?” she asked. 

           “It was after I’d answered his questions and he was thanking me for my time and everything. He said something like ‘wouldn’t it all be a lot easier if we could just throw the kidnappers to the wolves’ or something like that. He didn’t act like there was any particular meaning to it, and maybe I’m just reacting to something that didn’t mean anything. But I just think we need to be careful.” 

            Laura and Derek glanced at each other and then at Allison in silent question. “Dad doesn’t know him,” she answered, “It doesn’t mean he’s not a hunter, but if he is, it’s nobody dad has met before.” 

            Laura nodded and Derek relaxed slightly. Outside, Allison could hear a car pull up and could hear the distinctive sounds of Lydia’s heartbeat and a second heart that sounded like Jackson. A moment later they came through the door, Lydia bold and fearless, followed by Jackson, trying not to appear defensive and angry, but failing. 

            “Hey Jackson, Lydia,” Allison said, trying to project a happy and calm exterior.

            “Hey,” Jackson said as he glanced around, and Allison could see both of them taking in Laura’s stressed face and Derek’s defensive stance. But a moment later Laura smiled widely as she relaxed and stepped forward. 

            “Hi, I’m Laura.” She said in her usual sunny way. Warm and strong. She held out her hand and shook first Lydia’s and then Jackson’s hands, then pointing out the others, “the judgy eyebrows is my brother Derek, Stiles and Allison you know, and this is Gary and Billy who are visiting from the Redding pack.” 

          As Derek started to step forward to shake hands Allison saw him pause and glance at Laura and saw Laura’s small nod, and she saw Lydia also catch the exchange, and her eyes narrowed slightly. A moment later after Gary said hi,  Billy stepped forward and shook the newcomers’ hands. Allison also saw his eyes widen slightly as he looked first at Jackson and then Laura, a question clear in the glance.

          They all stood and talked for a few minutes before they sat, and Allison half listened as Laura explained to Jackson and Lydia what had been going on, including a little background about the Hale Fire and Hunters in general. As she wound down her explanation she added that she’d love to work with Jackson to help him learn control even if he opted to stay an omega rather than join the pack. 

           The bulk of Allison’s attention was focused on that moment when both Derek and Billy had turned to Laura when they first met Jackson, and she wondered what they had noticed that she had missed. She barely paid attention to the questions that Jackson and Lydia asked, or Laura’s answers, until Stiles leaned closer and whispered, “What’s wrong?” 

           “Nothing,” she said with a smile, turning to him, “I was just distracted and thinking.” 

           “Are you still starting at school with us tomorrow?” 

           “Monday I think. Dad found another house he wants to check out. Plus I really need to get in a hard workout. I’m missing the pack gym in Redding already.” 

            “I’ve been running in the nature preserve in the mornings, if you want to join me tomorrow?” Billy said. 

            “That would be great. I’m going to need to figure out a whole new routine,” Allison said with a little laugh. She turned to Laura and Derek, “Do you guys want to come too?” 

            Derek turned toward Laura, who shrugged. “I could use a run I guess,” he finally said. “I can’t stay in hiding forever.” 

            “I’ll come too then,” Laura said to her brother, “just in case,” she added softly. He nodded and looked away.

            Laura turned to Jackson, “Do you want to join us?” 

            Allison saw Jackson start to stiffen up, but before he could say whatever his intended response was, Lydia gripped his arm and looked at him, and he relaxed and glanced over at her. After a moment he nodded. “What time, and where?” he finally asked.

            Laura’s eyes went back to Derek and Billy, then said, “6 at our old house? There’s a path we used to run up to Murray Hill. We can take that.” 

            Everyone agreed and after that the meeting started to break up. Jackson had some homework to work on and needed to get home, and Allison could see Derek watching Stiles who was starting to fade as well. As she drove home, her thoughts kept drifting back to the strange looks the three born wolves had exchanged when they’d met Jackson, and she wondered what she was missing.

    

Chapter Text

Friday January 21st, 2011

8am

         Derek was fairly certain that eventually someone was going to comment about him sleeping in a teenager’s room every night. So he tried to fall asleep in the guest room the sheriff had showed him the first night. But it ended up that he still couldn’t sleep, knowing that Scott and Stiles were unprotected down the hall. So around 1 he’d finally given up on sleeping in the bed, and shifted back to wolf and slunk back down the hall. It had only taken minutes for him to fall asleep then.

         Stiles alarm woke him up at 530 and in the other room he could hear his own alarm go off. 

         “Up Cuddlewolf,” Stiles said sleepily as he turned off the alarm and next to him Scott slept on obliviously. Stiles himself was asleep again before Derek had stretched and made it out the door of his room. 

          Back in the guest room he shifted back upright and turned off his own quiet alarm. He could hear all three sleeping heartbeats around him, calm and steady. He didn’t know how to describe the sense of pack in words, but it filled him in that moment. 

         Since he’d become an alpha it had become sharper and he could sense the differences between bonds in a way he’d never noticed as a beta. The connection developing between Stiles and him was so different than with Scott that he was shocked he’d never noticed the difference before Peter died. That back of the head constant awareness of a packmate has changed too. Since his family died the only connection he’d felt there was with his sister, and the burgeoning connections that were growing threatened to overwhelm him at times. But it felt good too, like he was finally healing after years without, and he wondered again why Laura had never felt driven to build a pack herself, if maybe that was her response to the loss of their pack. 

          After running with Laura and the betas he returned to the Stilinski home to shower before he met the building inspector at 10 when the guy should be finishing up the last part of his inspection. He’d see Laura again after that.

          He stood on the sheriff’s porch looking at the key for a moment and then he let his eyes wander the slightly neglected yard. It was still a marvel to him to be so easily accepted into their home, and into their lives. It felt like cheating, like it was all going to be taken away as quickly as he’d found it. It wasn’t that he distrusted the Stilinskis, he just didn’t believe that any good things could last. 

         He’d even felt, when Laura was taken, that it had a certain inevitability. She was the last good thing in his life after all. But then he’d found allies where he hadn’t expected. And Laura has been rescued, then Stiles had managed to free them from Kate. It had unsettled that expectation of disaster that filled his head. 

         He knew that the deaths of Kate and Peter still hadn't really sunk in. And the changes to his body as the alpha gift changed him were not making it any easier. He’d tried to explain it to Laura and she said she understood, but he wasn’t sure how since he barely understood it. 

           Standing there on the porch staring off at the unpruned roses as the sweat dried on his skin, feeling a cacophony of competing emotions, he heard the door open behind him, but recognizing the sheriff’s heartbeat he didn’t turn around. 

           “How are you holding up?” John asked quietly, and Derek felt a warm bump against his hand as the sheriff passed him one of the two cups of coffee he carried.

          “Sometimes I think I’m okay,” Derek replied, “and then something happens and I realize I’m just-“ he paused, searching for words. “Numb maybe? So much happened so fast.” 

          “Are you ready for your meeting with McCall today?” John asked, a note of curiosity in his voice.

          “I think so. Laura’s lawyer will be there. And they’ve already let him know that with my past with Kate if it becomes too much they’re going to end the interview.” Telling the sheriff the truth about Kate and him, and about the fire, had been mortifying. But it had filled in a part of the case that had been missing. John already had plans to interview the fire inspector about his report, and the knowledge had opened new avenues in search of evidence. 

            “I think we’ve managed to account for everything to cover up the claw and fang part, besides giving Kate a motive for the fire. That part is going to probably be what Raphael focuses on. He’s playing it close on what else they have on Kate, but there’s something. He’s focused on her in all of his interviews in that sideways FBI approach, so be careful there.” 

            Derek nodded slightly, he could feel the tension through his body. Today was going to be a particularly terrible kind of hell, but probably the least payment he could make considering his part in the fire. 

           “Are you sleeping any better?” 

           “Depends on what you mean by better I guess. I didn’t wake up as much last night, but I still couldn’t fall asleep in the guest room.” 

            “You’ll get there. Laura told you your alpha instincts would be like that at first.” 

            Derek made a noise, not agreeing or disagreeing. “How is this not weird for you?” 

             John shrugged. “It is a bit. But I know what I was like when Stiles was born. Jesus I got up and checked on him at least twice every hour or so that first week. So I understand that. There are parts I don’t necessarily understand, that I probably can’t really. But that? Yeah, I get that. Don’t think I haven’t wanted to lock him up in that room so he stays safe since Kate. He’s my only kid. But knowing you’re there, and you’re keeping watch? Hell yeah I feel better. You seem to think that at some point I’m going to start thinking of you as dangerous, but I know how dangerous even ordinary people are to each other, the potential to be dangerous doesn’t make you any different from anyone else.” 

            He patted Derek on the shoulder and turned back into the house. After a moment, Derek followed him inside and closed the door.

1030am

          Chris pulled into the driveway of the house the realtor had emailed him. It wasn’t quite what he was looking for, quite a bit bigger for one, and he couldn’t figure out what he’d use all that space for, but he’d asked about houses that were on the edge of the Preserve and this one has come up. It was an old listing, the house had been unoccupied for almost a year since the owner had retired to Florida. It had wraparound porches on the first and second floors that didn’t quite match the original Victorian look. But there was also something about it that drew the eye. He looked at Allison who was giving it an interested look. She turned and caught him looking and smiled before she unlatched her seatbelt and slid out the door.

           Chris noticed her scenting the air and she smiled and headed through the card, calling back to him, “You’re the one who taught me to pay attention to my surroundings.” Chris went to the porch and checked the railing, it seemed sturdy. Allison got closer and started to reach her hand out but stopped before she could touch it. “Mountain ash,” she whispered. She started to walk along the railing, feeling her way along. “It’s an unbroken line of it. There’s no way this was by chance. Someone build a werewolf resistant fortress.” 

            “Hunters do you think?” Chris asked. 

            “Maybe. Or witches. If it’s witches then this is probably on one of the telluric crossroads, I wonder if Laura knows anything about it.”

            “So this one is a no then?” Chris said. 

            “I’m not saying no,” she replied. “I bet the actual entrances aren’t ash. Let’s check.” 

             They wandered back up and she walked up to the front door and touched it. “Yeah, it makes sense,” she knelt to examine the top step and Chris stepped forward to look too. “It’s just pine here. But if you’re expecting supernatural problems you can easily swap it out with mountain ash I bet. Which means-“ she turned and walked towards the porch and stopped at the corner of the house where a diagonal board ran from the railing to the wall. “There it is. It’s actually brilliant.” 

            As she was walking back across the front of the porch to map out the limits of the mountain ash, another car pulled in and his realtor Sandra got out and waved. “Hi Chris!” she said, smiling, “I see you found the place ok.” 

           “I did,” Chris replied. “You remember Allison.” 

           “Of course! Checking out the porch I see, it’s so unusual the wraparound on both first and second floors, it’s definitely the only one like it in Beacon County. Will Matherly, he’s the owner, it was built by his grandparents. Well rebuilt really. Parts of the house are much older, one of the oldest in this part of the state. The only other one that preceded it that I can think of would have been the original Hale House of course, but it’s long gone.” 

             “Is that the one that burned?” Allison asked.

             “That’s the one!” Sandra said, then added, “well not the one that burned a few years ago, of course, no that’s actually the third Hale House if you can believe it. Built in 63 I think. I was talking about the one they have a photo of at the high school.”

             “I don’t start until next week,” Allison said, “but I’ll have to check out the photo.” 

             Sandra led them through the house pointing out features and architectural curiosities. When it was all done she turned to the two Argents and said, “So what do you think?” 

             Chris looked around again, and was surprised to hear Allison say, “I like it.” 

             “Well,” Sandra said enthusiastically, “I’ll let you look around some more and talk it over.” 

             After she left, Chris turned to Allison, “really?” 

             “Really,” she nodded. “I love the defensibility. Wolf or not there’s a lot of other supernatural baddies out there that’ll be kept out, so that’s attractive. I think it’s the price range you were looking at. What do you think?” 

             “It’s a lot bigger than I was looking for. A lot,” Chris said with a slight grin, “and I’m not sure how I feel about living in a house that could be used to trap my daughter inside. But I do love a lot about it. Shall we think on it for a day or two?” 

             “Definitely. It’s the one I’ve liked the most on its own. But I want to look into the history a bit. I’ve never heard of a Matherly family of Hunters, but I haven’t heard of any witches by that name either.”

             “Well you needed homework,” he replied dryly. 

             “I’ll start with Laura, I’m sure she knows something if it’s that connected to the Hales.” 

4pm

          The day had been more brutal than Derek could have imagined. He was already in a bad mood after his meeting with the property inspector. The building was a definite no since it had a bunch of problems, including some code violations that were so severe the inspector was planning to turn the contractor in to the state. 

           And McCall had certainly not gone easy during his interview. Just as John had guessed, the agent had definitely been very interested in what Derek felt Kate’s motives for the fire were and what she had said while she had him at the house. Despite it all, Derek had made it through with only a few breaks to get himself back in control. But now he was completely wrung out.

            Laura held onto his hand as they left the station and he leaned into her for comfort. When they got outside they paused while Laura and the lawyer exchanged some last words, but after a moment he pulled away and slid into the Camaro and closed his eyes. He was still sitting there in silence, eyes closed when Laura got into the driver's seat.

          She sat for a moment before saying, “Do you want to talk?”

          He shook his head, not opening his eyes. 

          “Do you want me to talk?” she followed it up with, and he nodded immediately. Laura’s voice was soothing, and he knew it would calm the jagged harshness the day had kicked up for him. 

           She started the car and pulled away, but didn’t follow the expected route to the sheriff’s house. He opened his eyes to watch where she was going. As she drove, she talked about one of her high school friends he only half remembered and her current relationship woes. It was an old trick that Laura had used a million times on him when he was having a bad day. He watched her take the road north out of town and took the turn to that last left turn and he realized where she was heading. 

           When she turned off the engine she also stopped talking and they sat in silence for a few minutes. “Maybe it’s a sign of some kind,” she said, breaking the silence. “Or maybe it’s chance. I don’t know. Maybe we only see a pattern because that’s the way our brains work. But I think of mom buying this place to secure our territory, and I see this building, all stone and brick, and immune to fire, and I see the potential.” 

            Derek shook his head, opened the door and got out. He turned and looked at the old rail station and tried to see the potential in it that his sister did. He heard her open her door and come stand beside him. “This doesn’t feel like a home to me,” he finally spoke, quiet and tired. 

           “Then find something that does say home to you,” Laura answered. “Talk to John, he might have some ideas. Or talk to Chris Argent, he’s been looking at places too, maybe he’s seen something. Oh! Speaking of, Allison texted me earlier about that. They checked out the Matherly house today.” 

            “Holy crap!” Derek said, suddenly engaged, “did old Will die?” 

            “No apparently he got tired of trying to interest one of the cousins in the place and moved to Florida last year and put the place up for sale.” 

            “That’s definitely not in the running for houses I want to live in. Can you imagine? I bet the ghost of Flory Matherly herself would rise from the grave.” 

            Laura snorted, “Gustav Halle might rise from the grave alongside her.” 

            “I’m not sure I want to see either of them across the dinner table. Are they thinking about it?” 

             “Apparently. She wanted to know if the Matherly’s were hunters or witches, once they saw the mountain ash on the porch. I called and gave her a ten second view on the Matherly’s, not our history with them, just you know, witches, crazy ancestor, and that stuff.” 

              He nodded, “We should explain it in detail if they decide to buy it. Just in case there is a curse on the house.” He started to walk forward, glancing at the abandoned rail cars rusting in the fading afternoon light, and the unused tracks on rotting timbers that lay everywhere. The station itself wasn’t a bad building, if you got rid of the old rail cars and tracks. The new rail line had been built in the 60s, shifting everything northward out of downtown Beacon Hills and leaving behind the station as a relic of a different era. He glanced over his shoulder at Laura, “Did you bring the keys?” 

             She laughed and nodded, reaching back inside to grab the keys that Martin had given him and they set off to check out the inside together.    

Chapter Text

7pm

          Stiles was ready for the week to be over. He’d gone home to an empty house and slept for two hours after school since there was a game later and no lacrosse practice to have to coach Scott and Jackson through. As he got out of the Jeep he thought back on the day. 

           He’d gotten called to the front office in first period about his schedule change, and he’d been impressed that Lydia had managed it already, just as she’d said. When he left his third period class he already had his honors history book and started heading to Mr Castaneda’s class when suddenly Lydia was walking beside him.

          “Okay good, you already have your book. The key to this is that Tammy is always cutting it right before the tardy bell, so if we’re early I can manage the situation when she gets there.” 

           “And good morning to you too Lydia, oh star of the morning and terrifying rearranger of schedules.” 

           “Don’t be silly, Danny rearranges the schedules,” Lydia said smiling deeply. “And why does Derek Hale look almost exactly like Scott’s cousin Miguel?” 

            “Ummmm,” Stiles said, “Uhhhh Derek’s middle name is Miguel?” Stiles was very aware of the occasional glances he was getting from some of the other students in the hall.

            “Terrible,” Lydia said. “You’re a cops kid, how can you lie this badly? Never tell a lie that can be fact checked. Say ‘it’s a nickname’ or something like that.” 

             “You terrify me Lydia Martin.” Stiles replied. “I’m over here wondering how I did on my Spanish quiz last period, and you’re giving me pointers on lying better.” 

             They walked into Castenada’s room and Lydia guided them to her usual table and she pointed Stiles spot out to him. “Sit,” she commanded. 

              Stiles sat. She slipped into her own seat and said, “Okay, get out your chemistry homework. I need to go over the answers.” 

               Stiles rolled his eyes knowing she had a 101% in chemistry currently, but got out his homework. She quickly started looking it over, a minute later a girl Stiles didn’t know was hovering in front of the table, and Stiles went, “ummmmmm” again. Lydia looked up, and smiled widely. He was pretty sure the lighting in the room did actually brighten. That had to be a real thing right?

            “Tammy, hey, do you mind if Stiles sits here today? I need some help with my chemistry and so he’s supposed to be tutoring me, but with the game tonight I just won’t be able to meet after school.” 

            The girl, who was apparently Tammy, melted before the Martin smile and indomitable will, just like Stiles had. It actually made him feel better that he wasn’t the only one affected by it. “Sure Lydia, yeah that’s fine.” 

            “Thanks Tammy!” Lydia chirped. Tammy shuffled away. 

            “Out of curiosity, has anyone ever said no to you rearranging their lives for them?” 

            “Jackson. Once,” Lydia replied. “Well, for awhile,” she paused, “it’s rare that I act that openly is the key. But I’ll follow it up later with something, maybe I’ll buy her lunch, or give her a little gift. Something to cement that she did me a favor, and then it’ll be done.” The bell rang and Castenada started the class, but that explanation stuck with Stiles, and he wondered whether or not he was just another cog that Lydia had moved into place.


 

             Lydia and Allison had gotten Laura into a bright red Beacon Hills Lacrosse sweatshirt and the three were clearly having a great time as Stiles limped his way into the stands. Harley, who he’d known since 1st grade. stopped him on the way to his seat and said, “Hey Stiles, who’s the new girl I’ve seen you with?” 

              “New girl?” Stiles said blankly, trying to think back to any new girls in his classes. 

              “The one sitting with Lydia?” Harley said gesturing.

               “Oh Allison. Yeah she’s a friend. She just moved to town.” 

                “Wow and Lydia’s already got her claws in there. She moves fast,” Harley said, and Stiles belatedly remembered that she had some grudge against Lydia, though he wasn’t sure what it was all about.

                 “I think they bonded over outerwear or something,” Stiles said, trying to take Lydia’s advice on plausible lies. 

                “That’s good to know. I wanted to talk to you anyway, to see how you were doing since, you know, the incident,” Harley looked at him closely. 

                “Oh I’ll be fine, a week or two and it won’t even hurt anymore,” Stiles said, gesturing at his leg. 

                “Well if you need some help with the homework you missed in chemistry while you were out let me know. You could come over and we could watch a movie or something.” 

                “That’s so sweet. Thanks Harley, I’ve actually already got it done. Thank god it was early in the semester and we hadn’t gotten to any of the big labs yet,” Stiles said, watching the players start to come onto the field. “But hey I should grab my seat, come say hi later and I’ll introduce you to Allison!” 

                 “Yeah, for sure I will!” Harley said with a smile, and Stiles made his way up the steps and slipped in between Laura and Allison. 

                 “Hey Robin, who’s your friend?” Laura asked. 

                 “Oh Harley? I‘ve known her since forever. She’s super nice, she wanted to check and make sure I didn’t get behind in chemistry. Harris is kind of an asshole and if you get behind you’ll be screwed.” 

                 “So she wasn’t inviting you over to her house?” Laura said looking at him.

                 “I mean yes, but if I needed help with my homework,” Stiles explained. He saw Allison and Laura exchange a look of disbelief.

                 “She’s thoughtful like that!” he added, “It’s not like a ‘she likes me’ thing, she’s just really nice.” 

                 “If you say so Stiles,” Laura said. 

                “More importantly, who is the guy talking to your dad?” Lydia added, and Stiles looked around for his dad but it took him a moment to find him without the uniform on. 

                “That’s Allison’s Dad,” Stiles answered. 

                “Oh. Oh my.” Lydia replied and everyone laughed, though Allison had a slightly scandalized look on her face.

               They watched the first quarter of the game, and eventually Chris and the Sheriff came over and joined them, squeezing in around the kids, though Stiles kept looking around for Derek. 

                There was a near accident at almost the end of the second quarter, but Laura was able to talk Jackson down from losing control. He was still new enough that he couldn’t always track what Stiles was saying in a crowd, but the alpha’s voice had some element that he seemed able to focus on. Stiles made a note to ask Laura about that later. 

                Finally Allison bumped against him arm as he was looking around again. “He’s here, don’t worry.” 

                Stiles rolled his eyes. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” 

               She laughed, “You’re not very subtle. You’ve been looking around every five minutes. He’s down at the end of the field. I think he’s a little on edge tonight.” 

              “Do you think I should go talk to him?” he asked after a moment, “To see if he’s okay?” 

              “He might appreciate that.” 

              He smiled at her and slipped out of his seat, though his leg had stiffened up and was incredibly sore again. He told his dad he’d be back in a few and made his way out of the stands to where he could see Derek looking a little lost not far away. He made his way over to him, not sure what to say, so he just opened his mouth and started, “Lacrosse is based on a Native American game, where hundreds of players would play from sunup to sun down, sometimes for days.” 

             Derek glanced at him and some of the tension in his shoulders seemed to fall away. “I guess you wouldn’t be a benchwarmer in one of those games,” he said, smiling. 

            “With my luck I probably still would be. It’s not my best sport.” 

            “Why do you play?” Derek asked looking at him.

            “Scott.” Stiles shrugged. “I run track and used to do cross country, but Scott wanted to try lacrosse but didn’t want to do it alone, so here we are.” 

            “He couldn’t try out by himself?” 

            “Dude, have you met Scott, I mean, he’s-“ Stiles looked for the right words, “he doesn’t do things by himself well.” 

            “Codependent?” Derek asked.

            “Not really?” Stiles said kind of half squirming, “I mean maybe a little, but we both are I guess. His mom works a ton, my dad too. So it’s been him and I for so long.” 

             Derek nodded. “Laura and I are like that too I guess. I think it’s part of why she’s never tried to grow the pack.” He looked away. “There were a couple friends the first couple years in New York that I think she was trying to see how it would work out, but I wasn’t really in a good place for a long time, and then she stopped trying and-“ he stopped.

             “And you didn’t ever tell her you were ready for her to start again?” 

             Derek shrugged. “I don’t know if I was ready. When I got back here, I was sure I was going to lose her too, and then Scott was bit, and I didn’t want him to have to do this alone.” 

             “And it just happened. And now you’ve got a pack of teenagers you don’t know what to do with?” 

            Derek rolled his eyes. “Stiles, you guys are the best thing that could have happened to me. There was no time for me to second guess it or talk myself out of it. And now it’s already done.”

            Stiles grinned and leaned into the older man. Derek laughed and leaned back. After a moment he stood up and looked back to Derek. “So I have a question about last week, something that I keep wondering but I don’t know quite how to bring it up without it being weird.” 

           “Well, you’re usually weird, so just go for it.” 

           “It’s about Peter,” Stiles said, watching Derek carefully.

           “Okay,” Derek said, shoving his hands into his pockets, “ask me.” 

           “Why did you guys leave him here when you left?” 

           Derek looked away. “I didn’t want to.” He was quiet for a moment and Stiles almost said something to follow up but finally Derek started talking again. “Peter was my mom’s youngest brother, and he was wild when he was younger. Like ran off for months at a time. Not feral exactly. But he did his own thing a lot. He got mixed up with this alpha named Deucalion who’d lost most of his pack to hunters and he became pretty big in the werewolf separatist movement, which morphed into a werewolf supremacist movement. They wouldn’t call it that, but that’s what it was.” 

          Derek’s face grew even more tense. “The movement also coincided with an era where a lot of younger alphas were moving away from the older traditions, and one of the traditions they discarded was the traditional pack anchor.” 

          “I know you’ve talked about anchors with Scott, but what’s it do exactly?” 

          Derek looked at him, “You can ask 50 wolves and get 50 slightly different replies, but it’s essentially a tie to something external to help keep the human side dominant over the Wolf. To keep us from losing our humanity in the wolf.” 

          Stiles nodded. “Ok. And why was using the pack as your anchor a problem?” 

          “Take it to its conclusion,” Derek said quietly. “My pack is my anchor, if Laura had died in the fire?” 

          And it crystallized in Stiles head, “That’s what happened to Peter. He lost his anchor in the fire.” 

           Derek nodded. “He and Laura were never close. And a few years before the fire, things started to get worse between them. My mom was our alpha before Laura, and she-“ Derek wipes away a tear, “she survived the longest in the fire. When she finally-“ he paused, “Peter must already have been in very bad shape and when the alpha spark switched to Laura, there wasn’t enough of Peter left to hold the pack bond. Laura wasn’t connected enough to him to maintain the bond on her own.” 

            “I’d wondered about that,” Stiles said. “If the connection to pack was constant or if it could be broken.” 

            “Packs are usually pretty stable, but they change over time. People change, relationships change. I think Satomi had hoped that connection would form between Gary and us as well, and gradually he’d become part of our pack not just Allison. But it hasn’t happened. There’s more of a connection between Billy and the pack, and I don’t think he’s going to stay either.” 

            “That’s too bad, I like him.” 

            “He’ll stay our friend, just because he’s not pack doesn’t mean he isn’t a friend. And who knows, someday it might change and he does join us. I imagine with a pack as large as the Redding pack and as many bitten wolves as there are that Satomi probably loses and gains a new wolf a couple times a year. Smaller packs are a lot more tight knit.” 

               “Thanks for explaining it. I wanted to ask Laura, but I didn’t want her to take it like I was criticizing her or something.” 

                “It’s a sensitive point with her. She came back a couple times every year to spend time with Peter to try and build a bond, but it never worked. If she’d been able to make that connection he’d likely have been able to heal the damage.”

              “Wait really?” Stiles said.

              Derek nodded. “Pack wolves are a lot stronger than omegas. We heal faster, our senses are better.” 

              “Any perks for the regular humans?” 

              “Actually yes,” Derek said with a smile. “Your senses won’t change, but you’ll probably heal faster. If you had magic your ability would get stronger, I’ve heard that just being in a pack will help humans develop magic, but I don't know if that’s true.” 

              “You mentioned emissaries awhile back, when I met Deaton. Is that what they are, humans with magic?” 

              “Not necessarily,” Derek said. “They’re usually human yes, but not necessarily magic, though most are anymore, at least dabblers. They’re-“ he paused, “They’re the connective tissue between the packs I guess. They’ll do most of the legwork of setting up alliances and treaties between packs. They’re like the Secretary of State, I guess. They do a lot of diplomacy between packs because two alphas not of the same pack in a room is going to usually be a fight for dominance.” 

             “Literally or metaphorically?” Stiles asked.

             “Yes,” Derek answered, grinning.

             “God you’re such a sasshole. No wonder we get along.” He smiled up at Derek. “Sasswolf.” 

             Derek laughed. “A good emissary is worth as much as a good alpha. A lot of packs, especially family packs where the alpha passes through the line like in mine, recruit specifically for their emissary like my mom did. Deaton is from a family of very famous ones.” 

             “Was he a good one?” 

             Derek was quiet for a moment. “He was a good one for my mom. Their strengths complimented each other. He and Laura not so much. I imagine Laura will be looking for one of her own soon enough now that we have a real pack again.” 

             “Maybe whoever she gets can teach me some magic. Like Deaton does with the mountain ash and stuff.” 

             “Just ask Deaton,” Derek said. “I imagine he’d be willing to teach you if you have a gift to learn it.” 

             “He’s just going to teach some random kid all his magical secrets?” Stiles said skeptically. 

             Derek laughed, “No probably not all of them. And you’re not a random kid, he knows you’re pack. But he’ll get you started and once you have the basics it’s just a matter of practice, I think.” 

             “Cool. I guess I’ll talk to him. I was going to ask him about the mountain ash thing anyway. Are we still on for tomorrow? The cemetery?” 

             Derek nodded. “Later in the morning maybe? I know Laura wants to go for a run with Scott and Jackson, but after.” 

            “Works for me. Can I ask you about Jackson now?” 

            Derek stilled. “What about Jackson?” 

            Stiles smirked. “Funny, that was going to be my question. Last night you and your sister both reacted when you met him. I know Allison noticed it too.” 

            Derek took a deep breath. “It’s complicated. There is something. But we really need to talk to Jackson about it first and this morning wasn’t the right time. I think Laura is planning to talk to him about it tomorrow after the run.” 

             “But nothing bad?” 

              Derek was quiet for a moment. “No, nothing bad.” 

 

915pm

        Rafe McCall watched the end of the game in silence. Cheering along with the crowd when his son’s team won, but the pit of his stomach felt like a giant stone had taken hold. There’d been a moment during the game when one of Scott’s teammates had been facing his direction and he’d seen the telltale gleam of glowing beta gold eyes which helped confirmed his suspicions about what had been going on in Beacon Hills. 

          Fortunately he had backup coming to help him sort the mess out. For all their personal issues, the old man and he agreed on how to deal with newly bitten werewolves. And he was starting to get a good idea of where he could start getting some answers about what had happened to Peter Hale, and the real circumstances behind Kate Argent’s death. He slipped his phone out of his pocket and sent a quick text message before he followed the rest of the crowd out to congratulate the team on their win.

Chapter Text

8am

         Stiles groaned when his alarm went off. Alarm clocks on Saturdays were the deepest sort of heresy in his opinion. He turned off the alarm and dragged himself to the bathroom. He vaguely remembered Scott crawling into bed when he got back from his date with Allison, but he was already gone and Derek’s usual corner was empty, so he assumed they’d left to go running as planned. 

         He climbed into the shower and let the heat soak in, reaching down and carefully massaging his injured leg. It was already less sore than it had been the previous few days. He finished up and made his way back to his room to get dressed. 

         Stiles enjoyed the quiet in the house after the near constant presence of people for the last week. He tried not to think about his interview with McCall on Monday. His mind drifted to that moment when Laura had finally met Jackson. Her reaction had been so strange, at first a slight pulling away and then a slight drawing closer. He wanted to believe Derek when he said Jackson wasn't going to be a problem, but something was going on. Well, hopefully it would come out soon enough. 

          He made his way carefully down the stairs, but faster than he’d done the previous days. There was a covered plate with his name on it in Derek’s crisp clear writing. He slipped the foil off and smiled at the eggs and hash browns. Grabbing a fork he dug in, not even bothering to heat it back up. When he finished, he headed out the door, climbed into the Jeep and made his way over to Deaton’s office.

          He glanced at his watch, knowing Scott worked on Saturday mornings for the vet, but his shift wasn’t for a couple of hours yet. It was almost 9 and he knew Deaton’s hours started then, so he pushed on the front door and it swung open. He took a deep breath and stepped inside. It felt different than the other times he’d been here, knowing Deaton’s ties to the supernatural world. 

          “Mr. Stilinski. I wasn’t expecting you,” the vet said in a tone that indicated that he should have been expecting Stiles. 

           “Mr. Deaton? Wait, Dr. Deaton? Shit I don’t think I know what I’m supposed to call you now.” 

           The barest trace of a smile crossed the man’s lips. “Let’s just go with Alan. I’m guessing this has something to do with the pack, since you don’t have a pet with you. Come on back.” He opened the gate and let Stiles through. 

           Stiles followed Deaton into the staff area, he’d been back there before, with Scott when he was taking care of the animals in the evening. But he looked at it again, wondering if the seemingly innocuous decorations were related to the supernatural, and wondering how much magic a Druid even had. More than a witch? Less? Deaton led him to a cage which he opened, and handed Stiles a kitten before pulling out the other two and motioning for Stiles to follow him. 

           “This is actually fortuitous timing, since it’s time for me to feed these little guys again.” He set the two kittens on a table and picked up three of the tiny bottles before handing one to Stiles. “So how can I help you?” 

            “Well, I wanted to see, Derek said you might be able to teach me the trick with the mountain ash you used and maybe get me started on a little magic?” 

             Deaton stilled and looked over at Stiles. “I see. Are you thinking about pursuing the emissary role then?” 

             “Not now, not really. Derek made it sound like it was something that took a lot of training, plus, he told me that there’s like a lot of diplomacy and like meeting packs involved and I’m not sure that, well I’d probably be a disaster.” 

             Deaton smiled again, the tiny kittens suckling enthusiastically at their tiny bottles. “That’s actually more perceptive than I expected you to be. Emissary training takes 7 years in my family. My sister Marin is 28, and is just settling in with her first pack. So if not an emissary what are you thinking?” 

           Stiles shrugged, “I don’t even know what the options are, really. I just promised my dad I’d figure out ways to stay safer in all the werewolf business, and I can’t start training in supernatural self defense with Argent until my leg is better, so I thought I’d see if there was anything you could teach me.” 

          Deaton nodded. “Do you have reason to think you may have some talent for magic?” 

           Stiles shrugged, “I’m not even sure how I’d know. I’m pretty sure it’s not like Harry Potter or anything.” 

           “No, it is definitely not like Harry Potter.” Deaton pursed his lips and looked down at the kittens who were almost finished with their bottles. As they finished up he set the bottles back on the counter and motioned for Stiles to follow him with his tiny kitten and took them back to their cage. After he’d gotten them settled inside, he turned back to Stiles. “Alright, come with me.” He led Stiles back to the storeroom and pulled a locked box off the shelf. He carried it over to the table and pulled out his keys and unlocked it. He removed a small bag and a piece of what looked like deer hide that was rolled up. He unrolled it, revealing a complex set of designs inked into the hide, and handed the bag to Stiles who just looked at him.

            “Go ahead and open it up.” 

            Stiles did, peering inside. “Wait, are those bones?” 

            “Among other things. Osteomancy is one of the oldest methods of divination we know of. It is one of the most universal as well. The lines here on the hide create what is known as the firmamental map. Most osteomancy depends on the skill of the user. As a beginner with no real understanding of magic, the bones would reveal almost nothing for you. This set, however, is not designed to depend on the knowledge of the user, but rather just on his or her native power. They’re a good judge of whether you have a gift for magic worth pursuing.” 

             “So this is a test?” 

            “One of several, yes.” 

            “And I just, what? Fling the bones on the map?” 

            “No. Pour them into your hand,” Deaton said patiently, and Stiles did so.

            Looking at the small pile, he could see there were more objects than just the bones. There were a couple of coins, a few small stones, and even a shell or two. He looked back up at Deaton. 

            “Close the bones in your hands. Close your eyes. Then decide what question you want answered. Think about the question as you let the bones shift in your hands. Concentrate on the bones, try and push your intent into them. Each of the bones has an alignment. Try to decipher their poles. When you think they’ve absorbed your question let them fall on the firmament while keeping your eyes closed.” 

             Stiles did as he was told, first trying to decide what question he wanted answered, and deciding that figuring out what was going on with Jackson would be best, since he’d be able to compare it to whatever the Hales finally told him. So he concentrated on Jackson, on the mystery of him, and tumbled the stones and bones across his fingers. Finally there was a strange flash of certainty that they were ready and he opened his fingers and let them tumble down.

             He opened his eyes and looked down then glanced at Deaton. The coins had both fallen outside the map of the firmament, along with some of the bones and stones. Deaton looked down at the pattern. And after a moment he said. “Interesting.” 

             “What does it say?” Stiles asked.

             “Something lost will be found. Maybe something that was hidden. This stone though, that’s Apache tears, and it’s in the house of the future. Grief is coming. The petrified wood is interesting, that indicates some connection to family. I’m guessing that relates to the pack in this case. The moonstone isn’t ruling over everything so I’m guessing the question wasn’t about the pack directly. Where you see it here it can indicate hidden truths, and since it’s in the house of the present I expect whatever is going to come out will be revealed soon. I’m worried to see the bones that fell inside though. Vengeance sits high in the future. Death sits down here, not certain but possible. Whatever this is warning about can probably still be avoided. My guess is that the cast is trying to answer two questions, so either your concentration was poor, or your question was vague and subject to various interpretations.” 

           “So no ‘the winning powerball numbers are 8-12-15-50 and 34?’” 

           Deaton looked up. “This would be a terrible mechanism if you wanted lottery numbers. Water divination, though often a liar, is best for that.” 

           “So I have some talent?” 

           “It would appear you do,” Deaton said as he swept the bones back into their bag and locked them back up.

         “Awesome!” Stiles replied. “Wait, so I have a question.” 

        “I would be surprised if you only had one.” 

        “I mean, about the bones. Why would anyone use a set that aren’t like these? Like, what’s the advantage of a set that depends on the knowledge and power of the user? Because there’s got to be one.” 

       “That’s actually an excellent question. What would you think the answer is?” 

       “Maybe it’s about accuracy, or the type of questions you can answer?” Stiles replied.

       “You’re close. These bones aren’t subtle. They’re impersonal. You notice that they seemed to be trying to answer two questions. Well, a set that depended on your knowledge and will and power would have answered in a way to let you know the question you asked was badly phrased. Perhaps it would have all fallen around the firmament depending on how you’d interpret that. Both the meanings and even the lay of the firmament become personalized.” 

       “So that’s what magic is? Knowledge, will, and power?” 

       “In essence, yes. Though trying to cast with just those three items is unlikely to result in a satisfactory conclusion without years of training, and even then, only for those at the highest end of the power range, which it’s unlikely you are.” 

        “Because I’m some random nobody?” Stiles said, bristling at the implied insult.

        “Because a spark of that power is vanishingly rare.” Deaton replied crisply. 

       “Oh, sorry, that was kind of a dickish response.” Stiles muttered.

        “You’re a teenager, I’d expect nothing less than a belief in your own superiority.” Deaton replied in his annoyingly dismissive manner. “So we know you have power at least, let’s see if we can measure it.”

         Stiles followed him back to his office thinking dark thoughts, but took the seat the Vet indicated. Deaton sat in his own chair after pulling out his keys and unlocking his desk drawer. “I only keep a few tools here for testing. But we’ll set up a time to do a more complete examination now that we know you have a gift worth pursuing.” He pulled out a black bag and slipped out the small crystal sphere.

        “Wait, So crystal balls are a thing? Really?” 

        “Well, this is crystal. Quartz to be precise. And a ball. So yes. In this case, it’s because there are spells, like the one we’re about to try, that work better with a specific shape. No we’re not going to divine the future again, though I will show you a trick you can aspire to that will only work with a sphere.” 

       “Alright, I’m ready. What have you got for me,” Stiles said. Deaton reached across the desk and dropped the sphere in Stiles hand. Stiles let his hand close around it. 

        “Good. Hold it nice and firm,” Deaton said. “Now close your eyes again, and visualize light. Not fire, I’d prefer you not set my building on fire, just the light. I want you visualize the light in the crystal. Keep going until you feel like you’ve got the light built in your head and open your eyes when it feels right.” 

        Stiles tried to do as he was asked, it didn’t seem any harder than the first task, and he could visualize the light just fine, but he couldn’t get it to take alight in Deaton’s sphere. After several minutes of this, and Stiles getting more and more frustrated, Deaton finally said. “Okay, open your eyes.” 

       Stiles did, and the sphere sat clenched in his hand, no light shining forth. A stab of disappointment ran through him. “What did I do wrong?” he asked. 

       “Nothing,” Deaton said. “This wasn’t a task you could ever succeed at. This isn’t a toy, it’s a tool. No matter how much power you may have, without learning how to use it, it is just a chunk of stone. If you learn nothing else from me, please learn that magic isn’t easy. This isn’t, as we already pointed out, Harry Potter. The failure here is that you lack the knowledge and practice to make it work.” 

       “So you were just having fun at my expense?” Stiles asked. 

       “No,” Deaton said looking intently at him. “I’m trying to drive home the importance of learning how to use the spark instead of settling for easy toys like the one in the other room. They have a use, if limited. But they’ll hinder more than help you if you use them instead of learning how to do it yourself.” 

        Stiles got the point. “Got it. Just because the short cut exists doesn’t mean it’s the best option.” 

        “Exactly. I’ve taught a few students over the years. And you’ll have a significant advantage over all of them. Your connection to the pack will make your spark stronger than it would be naturally. But it will also distract you from the rigorous attention needed to develop your gifts fully.” 

        Stiles nodded. “Is it because they’re supernatural creatures?” 

         Deaton sat back in his chair a bit. “That’s a question that’s been debated for a thousand years. We know it happens, but the why of it, well, even sorcerers can’t answer that question.” 

        “What’s a sorcerer? Are they like the alphas of the magical world?”

        “That’s not a bad description. There are two kinds of sorcerers.” Deaton replied. “What’s called a natural sorcerer, and what’s called a bound sorcerer. A bound sorcerer is a spark, usually a fairly middle of the road sort, who makes a pact with a greater power. Some call all such powers ‘demons’, though there’s a wide array of creatures that will make such a pact, and an equally wide array of expectations. The bargain is never in the sparks favor. A natural sorcerer is something else. It’s what it sounds like. A mortal magic user whose inborn power is in highly powerful. We only see one or two born in a century.”

        “What would happen if a natural sorcerer made a pact?” Stiles asked. 

       “What would be the point?” Deaton replied. “If you can already bend space and time there’s no point in making a bargain so you can bend space and time.” 

        “Okay, yeah, good point.” 

        “It’s not a terrible question, it just reveals your lack of information. That’s not a negative in this case. This is your first exposure to magic. This is the equivalent of day one of kindergarten.” 

         “Can you teach me the right way to light the Quartz?” Stiles asked. 

         A quick ghost of a smile flickered across Deaton’s lips. “We’ll get there, there’s a lot of foundational work to do first. But hold the sphere out here.” 

        Deaton reaches out a hand, meeting Stiles’ in the middle. He whispered something softly, his hand gripped over both Stiles’ and the sphere. Stiles felt a slight rush and knew when the sphere caught alight. Deaton dropped his hand away. The light dimmed for a moment before it flickered slightly brighter.

        “That spell uses ambient power to maintain the light. That flicker was when I withdrew my own power.” 

        “So this is like me and everything around me that is in its scope?” Stiles replied.

        “That would be the case, except that this is a warded room. There is no native ambient power in here. That’s all you.” 

        “So I’m worth teaching?”

        Deaton smiled for real this time. “Anyone who wants to learn is worth teaching. It’s just that most can’t learn much more than to make a light or lay a line of mountain ash. But yes, it’s worth your time to learn.” 

        “So you expect great things of me?” Stiles added with a grin. 

        “Well, I think we can expect great things from you. But remember, He Who Must Not Be Named did great things too. Terrible, but great.” 

       Stiles mouth dropped open. “Wait, did you-“ shock struck him momentarily speechless. “Oh my god. You totally did.” 

       “I don’t live under a rock Stiles. I’ve read Harry Potter, and I’m capable of making a joke.” 

       “Right, but you were doing the whole ‘this is serious, don’t be a dark wizard’ routine, and then you pull that out? C’mon!” 

       “Humor is most effective when utilized sparingly.” 

       “So that’s a yes on magic lessons then?” Stiles replied. 

       “Yes Stiles. I’ll teach you the basics of magic. Come back on Monday and I’ll track down a primer for you. And possibly an overview on the supernatural world. I think I still have one.” 

       “Awesome! Thanks Dr. Deaton. Alan.” Stiles said, standing up and heading back toward the door. “I’ll be here after school on Monday!” 



945am

      After Stiles left, Deaton waved him out the door and went to mutter a quick dismissal spell on the abandoned sphere. He’d learned long past that it was important to not leave even so innocuous a spell as that one active. Instead he paused as he picked up the sphere, and changed his mind and set it back down for a moment. 

      From the bottom drawer he pulled out a different bag and a rolled chart not terribly dissimilar to the firmament chart Stiles had used earlier. He opened the bag and dozens of tiny bones and miscellaneous objects rolled out onto his hand. He placed the sphere in the top zone of the firmamental map, and rolled the bones around in his hand. Once he felt like he had a firm grip on his question he sank his will into the bones and let them fall. As they fell, he felt his power shape the response. When the pattern was complete he opened his eyes.

       “Oh,” he said simply. “Well that’s quite unexpected.” The shape of the future was clear. The influences very near and very strong. This future might be changed by small degrees, but this revealed challenges to the pack that throwing Laura’s fortune had not. He took out his phone and took several photos. This required studying if it was to be avoided. He paused as he looked at the raven feather that had landed in the querants zone with the still charged sphere of the boy’s power. It was a curious token his power had selected for Stiles. 

       He sat back in his chair to consider how best to avoid the boy’s almost certain death.

Chapter Text

11am 

       Derek heard the Jeep long before it pulled into the driveway. He was lying on the bed in the guest room not quite sleeping, but just being, and trying to get comfortable with the changes in his body. It had been less than a week and he knows that most of the physical changes have already taken place.

         The increased sensitivity to hearing and scent he had expected, since he remembered when Laura had become an alpha, and the things she’d mentioned. She hadn’t mentioned things like the deeper feeling of connection he felt to the pack, but he felt like he was finally getting used to that.

        He had even managed to sleep in the guest room the night before, though he suspected part of that was knowing Scott was there to keep Stiles safe. The protectiveness for his human pack member had really surprised him. He knew Laura was fond of him too, but she didn’t seem as protective of the boy as Derek was. He wondered if it was just that each alpha responded to the changes individually because he had taken a couple of psych classes and understood that sometimes stimuli did affect people in different ways, or if it was something else.

       The physical changes, well, he suspected those were going to take longer. He was stronger, faster, and significantly more dangerous. His temper would flare unexpectedly, he seemed to feel everything more intensely, but Laura had been really pleased with how well he’d handled himself around Satomi’s betas. Afterwards she’d told him that was one of the hardest things when she’d become an alpha, and Derek wondered if maybe it was the post-fire grief or the moving to a new territory that had really been the problem. 

        A few minutes later he heard Stiles bang through the door and start up the stairs, stopping only for a muttered curse that Derek could clearly hear, when he forgot about his leg and took the first two stairs as one. He heard him throw something, probably his backpack, down on his bed and the unnecessarily loud “Derek?” he’d shouted down the hall. 

        Derek pulled himself up casually, and went down the hall to Stiles room, by habit and memory avoiding the two squeaky spots in the hall floor. He slipped into Stiles room as the kid was pulling on a different pair of beaten up Converse.

        “Time for the blue ones?” he asked with a small smile.

         “I always wear the blue ones to go see my mom. She bought me my first pair of Chucks, and the blue was the color we picked out together, because it was the prettiest.”

        Derek’s smile widened a bit, “That's a memorial I can understand.” he replied. “When Laura first got accepted to NYU mom went crazy and ordered everyone T-shirts and sweatshirts and even hats. I was wearing my T-shirt the day before the fire and it was still in the Camaro. It doesn’t fit me anymore but it’s still in my closet. It’s not the only shirt that survived, I had a couple of others in my locker at school and my dads jacket was in his truck. But that’s the one the that holds the memories.” 

        Stiles’ face grows serious, and he replies, “My dad and I don’t talk about my mom much, I wasn’t sure if you’d want to talk about your family.” 

        “Laura and I talk about them from before, but not, you know, that night. And not about right after.” He shifts his head to the side, as if to escape the memories. “I think I’ve talked to you more about that night than her.” 

       Stiles stood up and moved closer to Derek, putting his hand around his shoulder in a way that was comforting and slightly possessive. Derek had a stray thought as it settled into place that he might be starting to be one of the people Stiles was possessive of, because it was a trait he’d noticed almost immediately. “Do you want to stop for flowers on the way?” Stiles asked. 

       “I don’t usually take flowers. They’re-“ Derek paused, realizing he was about to reveal a secret, then decided Stiles deserved to know. “The crypt is empty. We don’t inter anyone there.” he finally said. 

         “Wait, really?” Stiles said in surprise. “Why?”

         “We have our own rituals, our own ways. We don’t embalm, and we return our bodies to the packlands.” 

        “So your mom, your family is buried in the Preserve?” 

        “No. In the Hale lands away from the Preserve. On the first year after their death we plant a tree over the grave to remember.” He could feel Stiles grip on his shoulder like a brand. “I can-“ he paused, “When we’re young we learn our history by memorizing the different trees.” 

       “Would you rather go to the forest than the graveyard then?” Stiles asked. “We can do both.” 

       Derek nodded. “Let’s do both.” They turned and headed back downstairs. 

 

12pm

      Laura’s phone rang and she glanced down and saw Satomi’s name. She answered it quickly. “Alpha Satomi, it’s an honor.” Her mother had trained her in the strictly formal modes of address that the eldest alphas tended to uphold.

      “Alpha Laura,” Satomi replied, “The honor is mine.” The modes of address had started with in person meetings but had migrated to phone conversations as well. 

      “I’ve had an interesting call,” Satomi said, and followed up with, “Do you know Alpha Tecciztecatl Gonzalez? From Arizona?” 

       Laura thought for a moment, “I don’t believe so. Maybe someone who knew mom?” 

       “Possibly. He has a large pack, probably 40 wolves. But he doesn’t get involved in pack politics much. If he did, he might be a major power, but he’s a strange man, and a stranger alpha.” 

       “Strange like, collects statues of cats, or strange like collects actual dead cats?” Laura asked. 

        “Probably more the former than the later. He’s insular, rarely mingles outside of his pack. He’s old school.” Laura was surprised Satomi describe him that way, given her own adherence to tradition. “You can infer from his chosen name the nature of his politics. And he doesn’t consider humans to be pack.” 

        “Seriously? He’s actually a strict separatist? And why are we talking about him right now anyway?” 

        “He’s coming to Beacon Hills. In fact he’ll be there tomorrow. He contacted Alpha Lugh, who gave him my information and asked if I had a current contact number for you. He said he’d call you in the morning to arrange an in-person meeting. He said he has some personal business in the area, and he isn’t bringing his emissary, only a couple of betas.” 

        “Do you think it’s a territory challenge?” 

        “Unlikely. There’s no advantage to him trying to hold two territories so far apart. I suspect it is exactly as he says, the personal travel of a reclusive alpha. Do you remember how this part goes?” The question at the end wasn’t rhetorical. Talia had started training Laura in the intricacies of inter-pack relations, but they’d both thought they’d have decades for her to learn it all.

        “He’ll call and make a formal request to enter the territory, or his emissary if he keeps one. Traditionally the visiting alpha will present him or herself to the territory alpha when they arrive, but the actual practice on that varies widely now.” 

        “You’ve been studying,” Satomi said, clear approval in her voice. 

        “I borrowed Deaton’s copy of ‘Standards and Practices’  while our visitors were in town last week.” Laura replied. 

         “Good. I’m not sure how much of a stickler he’ll be, especially if it’s for personal reasons, but it’s good to be prepared. You may want to let him know Argent is there. I know his family was active in Arizona, and it would be good to avoid mix-ups.” 

          “That was part of why I wanted to come meet with you. I know he’s not his sister obviously, but how trustworthy is Argent?” 

         Satomi pauses before replying, “He is as trustworthy as any Hunter. Their priorities are not ours, and even the best see us as less than. If it had been anyone else in his family besides his daughter, he’d have gone along with the matriarch’s decision. On his own he’ll hold the code, but pressure from anyone he sees as an authority and he’ll fold.”

        Laura was quiet a moment, the response had matched her personal observation as well. “Am I being stupid to let him stay?” she finally added.

        “No. Not as long as Allison and he continue their negotiation of trying to reconcile their worldviews. I’m glad she’s finding a place with you, she’s an asset. But she needs someone to model herself on, and neither I nor my second are someone she can bond with.” 

        “Thank you Satomi,” Laura said, “for everything. I know it hasn’t been easy for you to have a power vacuum sitting here.” 

        “The crossroads is quiet. The other thing, well, it hasn’t stirred in years, even with the accidental sacrifice. It was hardly a bother, and I owed your mother a great deal.” 

        “Strange, she always said the same thing about you,” Laura added with a small laugh.

        “Call me if you need anything.” Satomi said.

        “I will. And thank you.” 

         Laura looked at the time and guessed that Derek was still with Stiles. She settled on sending him a quick text.

 

Laura 1234pm: No urgency, just call me when you guys get back.


6pm

       Rafe waited patiently for his son, knowing he’d probably be late. He wasn’t even sure if Scott was intentionally being late to irritate him, or if he just had trouble with timeliness. If it was Stiles he’d know, but Scott had always seemed the less likely to hold a grudge, though god knows there were plenty of reasons for one. Their first meal after Rafe had returned to town had been tense, with a lot of Rafe asking questions and Scott giving as close to a one word answer as possible. 

       Rafe kept telling himself he didn’t regret Scott, but he’d come along at the point Rafe was realizing that he and Melissa weren’t well suited, and that his secrets would always be a problem for her. 

       He was glad she’d kicked him out before things had escalated. His urges to lash out had terrified him as much as it had incensed her. The first thing he’d done after he left was seek anger management therapy, and it had been a revelation that had improved a great many relationships in his life, but he’d never managed to fix the one with his son. If he were completely honest with himself, and fair to Scott, he hadn’t put much effort into it. 

       Scott finally arrived about fifteen minutes late, and apologetic. “It’s fine,” Rafe answered, “you’re here now.”

       He’d learned from his mistake the first night, and picked a diner rather than the more upscale Italian place he’d selected before. Scott was clearly more comfortable tonight. He had slid in across from Rafe and actually talked, diving in about the game the night before.

       Rafe had never really understood lacrosse, when he’d been growing up football was still king, but he’d learned enough to follow what Scott was saying.         

       “So after the game, coach said I wasn’t first line yet, but that if I keep improving he thinks I might be for senior year.” 

       Scott’s obvious enthusiasm about a high school sport was relaxing after a week of trying to filter through the lies that the sheriff’s department reports were filled with. He’d come close to asking John to just cut the crap, but he was intrigued to see how well the lies hung together. He was concerned that it might be a sign of deeper corruption than just hiding the supernatural elements, but so far no signs of that had emerged. 

       “I was really impressed by how well you did when they put you in. You seemed to be as good as the guys who were first line. Except the one kid, the one with the cannon in the third quarter.” 

       “Oh Jackson.” Scott said, growing quiet. 

       “The Whittemore boy?” 

       “Yeah.” 

       “Are you guys still sworn enemies, or have you gotten over that by playing together?” 

          Scott relaxed at the direction of his question. Interesting. Rafe wondered if there was something else about Jackson that Scott knew was significant. Could Scott actually know the kid was a werewolf? 

         “We’re not friends or anything, but he’s-“ Scott paused briefly and continued, “he’s dating Lydia and she’s friends with Allison so we’ve been hanging out some.” 

         “This is the girl you went on a date with?” Rafe asked. “Allison.” 

         “Yeah,” Scott said, almost glowing. “She’s amazing. She’s a nationally ranked archer, and she is an amazing painter, she says she’s not, but she showed me a few and she’s really good.” 

          “She’s the dark haired one that was sitting by John and Stiles last night?” 

          Rafe was pretty sure she was the other wolf he’d noticed, but wanted to make sure.

          “Yeah, well, Laura was there too, but she’s older of course.” Scott’s monosyllabic responses were clearly a thing of the past now. 

         “I don’t think I noticed her. Who’s Laura?” 

         “Oh Laura Hale. You know, the family who-“ Scott paused, probably unsure how to say ‘the family who all died in a fire that was assumed to be an accident until their killer came back to finish the job’. 

         “Oh that Laura. Yes, her I did see. I wasn’t aware that you knew her.” 

       “Well Stiles knows her now, and Derek, after you know, everything.” 

       “Ah yes,” Rafe replied, “I can guess that would bring people together.” 

        “She’s nice,” Scott added. “Should I be talking about her since you’re, you know, investigating things?” 

        “I’m not investigating things Scott. I’m trying to make sure the sheriff's department didn’t miss anything, and to see if it ties into some other crimes that we have been investigating.” 

        “Oh okay. I didn’t know.” 

       “I’m surprised Stiles didn’t tell you everything. I can’t imagine he’s any less underfoot at the sheriff’s department than he was when his dad was only a deputy.” 

        “Well, he can drive now. So now he can be underfoot in a lot more places.” 

        “I guess that shouldn’t surprise me.” Rafe knew a change of subject would be smart, since Stiles was a guaranteed source of tension. “Have you started thinking about college yet?” 

         “Yeah, Stiles is helping me try to figure out a way to get into Vet school, which is really competitive.” 

       “When you know where you're going make sure you let me know, there’s some money set aside for that from my dad.” 

        Scott stilled. Rafe’s family had played a huge part in the failure of his marriage, though they’d refused to ever meet Melissa. In retrospect, it was their disapproval of the relationship had created the initial strain which was the bedrock for the rest of their marital problems. 

         “Your dad.” Scott replied flatly. “You mean the guy who’s had no interest in me my whole life? That guy?” 

        “He’s a complicated person,” Rafe answered. “And there’s a lot about him you don’t know.” 

        Scott grew stiff and Rafe saw him take a deep breath and shift his hands under the table.

        “I have my disagreements with him, but I can at least understand where he’s coming from-“ Rafe continued on, until Scott pushed himself out of his side of the table. 

        “I can’t listen to this,” Scott said as he got up. “That guy has ignored me my entire life. He told my mom she would never be part of his family. Why the hell would I want his help now?” After he finished, he turned and left. 

         Rafe stayed seated at the table, his mind in turmoil, because just for a moment he’d seen a flicker of the amber glow of a beta werewolf in his son’s eyes. After a few moments he pulled out a twenty and left it behind on the table and left. When he got into his car he took a deep breath, pulled out his phone, and dialed a number from his speed dial. 

         When a voice on the other end answered, he said, “Is he there? We have a problem here.”