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Atavism

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“Grandpa, have our runaways told us where Derek is yet?”

Stiles' eyes shot towards the entrance to the basement, hope welling up in his chest. A pair of stylish, yet still functional black boots appeared at the top of the staircase. Gerard paused, fist raised as he turned slightly towards the voice of his granddaughter. Stiles took advantage of the distraction. As quickly as he could, he raised himself up onto his elbows, wincing at the pain of most likely several cracked ribs.

“Allison! Allison, help-”

His cry was cut off abruptly as Gerard's fist came down hard. For the umpteenth time, Stiles' face smacked hard onto the concrete floor. He groaned, turning on his side and curling protectively in on himself.

God, this was unbearable.

But the building hope blossomed as he saw Allison quickly descending the stairs. Somewhere above him, a whimper caught his attention. Turning his head slightly brought the two Betas into view.

Boyd's eyes narrowed in an expression of fury that Stiles had never seen on his usually calm face. Eyebrows narrowing in concern, Stiles' gaze shifted to Erica. The female wolf's eyes were wide and filled with terror. Both wolves watched Allison as she reached the foot of the stairs and stepped into the basement. For a moment Stiles was terribly confused. It was Allison, she was on their side. A knight in shining armor!

But Allison herself immediately caused him to reevaluate his opinion.

The girl didn't appear to be fazed at all to find two of her classmates strung up and electrified in her basement. Her eyes were darting between Stiles and Gerard, narrowed in a calculating manner.

“Grandpa, what's going on?”

Stiles felt his heart and hopes sink as her words finally sunk in. Grandpa? Since when did she call him anything other than Gerard? He took in her appearance with a new eye. Gone were the nonfunctional fashions that had initially caught Lydia's eye and sparked their friendship. Everything about Allison now screamed efficiency, from her boots to the archery gauntlet on her right arm.

“Now, now sweetheart. Why don't you go on up to bed? Tomorrow is going to be a big day. You need your rest.”

“But, Stiles...”

There was a moment Stiles could see the conflict warring in her eyes, the concern for her friend fighting against whatever had brought on this new affection for her grandfather. But it all vanished, hardening into a dark fury at Gerard's next words.

“The Betas won't talk. Their connection to Derek is too strong, they won't betray him.” Gerard turned back to Stiles, nudging him in the side with a foot. Stiles flinched away, his body reacting instinctively to the weapon that had battered his ribs. “So we needed to acquire a weaker link. We know that the boy knows where Derek is hiding. You yourself told us that he and Scott took the female to Derek after that little scuffle with Jackson in the library. He's just being a little reluctant to share what he knows with us.”

Allison's face became positively frosty. She approached Stiles slowly, barely glancing at the Betas despite Boyd's snarls as she passed them. Kneeling beside him, she reached out, taking the collar of the t-shirt he wore under his jersey and using it to gently wipe at the blood spilling from the split on his lower lip.

“Stiles.” Her tone was gentle but Stiles could hear the sharp bite of steel that it concealed. “I want you, I need you, to tell me where Derek and Isaac are hiding.”

Stiles shook his head, hissing through his teeth as pain shot up the side of his face.

“No, Allison. What do you think you're doing? You're helping him? He's abandoned the Code! What do you think he's going to do if he finds Derek and Isaac? He's going to cut them in half!”

The look of pure hatred on Allison's face terrified him. For a moment, he thought of Kate. Everything that he had been told by Scott, all of the details he had read about in the police report detailing how the Hale family had been trapped and unable to escape the fire, had created a terrifying mental image. He had never actually met Kate when she had been alive. But seeing the hateful expression he had imagined so many times on Allison’s face scared him so much that he actually tried to crawl away from his friend.

“Good.”

Stiles' eyes went wide with shock. That wasn't an Allison response. That was an angry Stiles, not really meaning it, response. Allison was warm and sweet. She cared about doing the right thing. About protecting people. This cold, hard shell kneeling beside him was a far cry from the Allison he knew. The Allison that his best friend loved.

Her hand followed him as he moved away. But the fingers that caught his chin had lost almost all of their gentleness. She turned his head around, forcing him to meet her eyes.

“Tell me where he is, Stiles. You don't owe him anything. Derek wanted to kill Lydia remember? He set his bitch on you, unrestrained, not caring if she hurt you. How many times has he threatened you himself? Why are you protecting him?”

“Because,” he spat out, blood and saliva flying onto her fingers. “It's the right thing to do. Derek might be a socially incompetent asshole, but he tries to do the right thing. He's saved my life...and Scott's. So yeah we owe him. We owe him our lives.”

Brown eyes burning, Allison pulled away.

“No,” she said. “He owes me. For taking my mother away from me!”

Stiles froze. What? He was pretty sure that his dad had said that Victoria Argent had killed herself. How was Derek responsible for that? He thought back to the last time any of them had interacted with Mrs. Argent. The night of the rave. The night she had tried to kill Scott.

After Stiles had broken his fan-freaking-tastic line of magical fairy dust, Derek had taken off after Scott. It wasn't ten minutes later that he had come stumbling back, weak from wolfsbane poisoning with a half dead Scott cradled in his arms. Derek had mentioned that he had wrestled a little with Mrs. Argent. But Stiles was sure he would have said something if he had killed her.

Stiles remembered being extremely concerned about that fact as he drove headlong for the animal clinic. Watching Derek wipe the blood off of his lips had given him flashbacks to Peter the night of the winter formal.

Wait, wiping the blood off of his lips? He'd been so preoccupied with his worry over Scott to really think at the time.

Oh God, no.

Allison nodded grimly as she saw the realization in his eyes.

“That's right. He bit my mother. The leader of the Argent family. We have laws, Stiles. My mother was brave to make the sacrifice that she did!”

Stiles shook his head, fear temporarily overcoming the pain.

“Allison, no! You don't understand! Derek was trying to-”

A foot came flying out of nowhere. Stiles screamed. He actually could hear another rib cracking. Panting heavily, Stiles curled into himself again, arms wrapped tightly around his abused torso. Gerard sneered as he stepped back into Stiles' line of sight.

Allison stood, looking up sharply at her grandfather in reprimand but Gerard's eyes were locked on Stiles as he raised a foot and brought it down heavily on the boy's unprotected back.

“There is no excuse for what that monster did to my daughter-in-law! It's a slavering beast, controlled by base instincts and desires.”

Anything Allison had to day died in her throat. She looked at Stiles’ defending the beast that had taken her mother from her and she stepped back.

Stiles opened his mouth, but Gerard reached down, grabbing him viciously by the jaw and dragging him to his feet.

“There is no need for your incessant babbling, Mr. Stilinski, unless I've changed your mind about Derek Hale. But I don't think that I have yet.”

Stiles flailed, clawing at the fingers that dug painfully into the bruise on his cheekbone. The old man's face didn't change as his uppercut slammed into Stiles' gut. He gasped against the hand as all of the air was knocked out of him and his eyes prickled with tears. The hand holding his face released him and Stiles quickly fell to the floor. He crawled backwards, as far away from Gerard as he could get.

Oh God. Where was Scott? He'd been so sure in the beginning that Scott would find him in no time. But how long had it been now? It seemed like hours. But due to the distinct lack of clocks in the Argent's basement, there was no real way of knowing.

Gerard was speaking to Allison. Stiles knew that he should be listening in. He needed all the information on the enemy that he could gather. But the fact that it was Allison had him thrown. Though, it really shouldn't have. After all, this was just Kate all over again.

Someone manipulating Allison for their own ends? So last month. And Stiles had no doubt that Gerard was manipulating her. The speed with which he'd stopped Stiles from revealing just what Mrs. Argent have been doing when she was bitten was all the proof he needed.

His eyes were drawn back to Boyd and Erica. For the first time he took in their physical state, beyond being shackled and electrified. Both were filthy, covered in leaves and soil. They must have been running all out, not even bothering to dodge around trees. It looked like they'd fallen several times.

Erica's face was tear stained. On her upper left thigh, there was a bloodstained hole in her jeans. Boyd's clothes were in a similar state of disrepair. Although the bloodstained holes in his clothes were all over. His leg, his torso...right above his heart. If he had still been human, Stiles had no doubt that Boyd would be dead.

Stiles recognized those holes. He'd seen them in Derek's clothes the night they killed Peter. The night Allison shot him.

Stiles felt himself began to shake. She had hunted them. She hadn't been at the game because she was hunting her classmates.

Allison turned, heading back towards the stairs. At the foot she paused, glancing back at Stiles over her shoulder. Stiles searched her face. Looking for any signs of hesitation or unease. He thought he could see a glimmer, maybe. But the Betas were growling beside her and he could see her stomp down on any emotions that could have helped them.

“Just give him up Stiles. He's not worth it. You're still a human, as soon as you give us what we want, you can go home.”

With that she turned, vanishing up the stairs with every hope that Stiles had left. As soon as the door slammed closed behind her, Gerard turned his attention back to Stiles. The old man smiled and chuckled quietly.

“She's such a good girl. Reminds me so much of my Katie.”

“Yeah,” hissed Stiles before he could stop himself. “I really got the psychotic bitch vibe from her right then. What did you tell her? That her mom was just minding her own business and Derek decided to use her as a chew toy?”

Gerard stalked forward, grabbing Stiles by his jersey and hauling him back onto his feet.

“You just really can't help yourself can you? That mouth just runs away without you sometimes. It's the ADHD isn't it? Or is it the medication? I confess, I've never done much research into your disorder.” Gerard pushed, sending Stiles back against the wall. Tilting his head, the old man contemplated the beaten boy in front of him.

“The bite would fix that for you. If it can cure epilepsy, ADHD shouldn’t be a problem. But you haven't taken the bite.” Stiles leaned against the wall, panting heavily. He bit his cheek, hard, to stop himself from responding and glared. But the heated glare only drew another chuckle from Gerard. “Why haven't you taken the bite, Stiles? I can only imagine how much better your life would be. No more sitting on the bench, only being allowed to play when half the team is injured or absent. You'd be first line.”

“No more worrying about the monsters hurting your father. You would have the strength to protect him. So I wonder, what's stopping you?” Stalking closer, Gerard caught Stiles' chin in a move reminiscent of his granddaughter's. He turned Stiles' head, forcing their eyes to meet. “Or hasn't Derek offered?”

Stiles could taste blood in his mouth. But he couldn't tell if he had broken the skin with his teeth or if it was from the split lip. Every bruise and every cut pulsed with heat, a blinding pain, keeping time with his heartbeat. Gerard's fingers were like a burning brand on his skin. He wrenched his neck but the old man merely tightened his grip.

He was sick of this history repeating itself shit. First Allison gets manipulated into hopping back onto the crazy train. Then Stiles gets kidnapped by the bad guy flavor of the month. This was really something he would have rather avoided.

He'd have never believed there would ever be anyone that could scare him more than Peter Hale. Almost all of his nightmares for the last couple months had featured the former Alpha in a starring role. Peter crouched over Lydia, her blood staining his lips. Peter's hand on his head as he slammed it into the trunk of his dead nurse's car...Peter's fingers clenched tightly around his wrist as fangs inched towards his pale flesh.

But Gerard was at least running neck and neck with the deceased psychopath now.

“Or was it not Derek who offered?” Gerard's eyes widened in realization. “His uncle, the rabid wolf that murdered my daughter. The Alpha that bit Scott. Well, I understand why you wouldn't want to tie yourself to that one.” Gerard's fingers tilted Stiles' face, staring at him contemplatively. “But why would he give you a choice in the first place? He had no problem biting your friend or the Martin girl without consent.”

His eyes narrowed at the word and he repeated it thoughtfully. It seemed to have triggered some dim recognition but he couldn't grasp the meaning. Stiles was in the dark regardless. He had never stopped wondering that exact thing himself. Why? Why hadn't Peter bitten him? Even knowing that at least a small part of Stiles desired the bite and the advantages it could bring him, Peter had driven away. Leaving Stiles alone and, relatively, unharmed in the parking garage.

“Ah, I see.”

Apparently the old man's Alzheimer's had been temporarily defeated. It seemed like he had remembered what he-

Stiles gasped as Gerard's hand fell from his chin to clench tightly around his throat. Blunt fingernails dug into skin as his windpipe was forcibly closed. Stiles' arms came up, clawing at the hand and beating against Gerard's chest. But the man didn't seem to notice. His eyes were locked on Stiles' panic stricken face, bright with a manic glee.

“He didn't leave you human. You were never completely human to begin with.”

“What?!” Stiles tried to force out. Oh God, he could feel the pressure building in his head. A dry heat. Coiling in his stomach, pulsing in his veins. Burning in his lungs. Grandpa Crazy Face was really going to strangle him! And what the hell did he mean Stiles wasn't human? Stiles was the human-est human he knew!

“The mountain ash barrier. That was your doing wasn't it? For a moment I'd thought that Alan… but no, he doesn't have the kind of power needed to create a barrier that large.”

The Betas were screaming, fighting against the chains and electricity keeping them contained. Stiles wanted to reassure them, to glance over and send them some sort of signal to calm them down. To stop them from hurting themselves more. But he couldn't see them, his line of sight was blocked by Gerard. He gasped but couldn't take in enough oxygen. The edges of his vision were going black.

God and he'd thought the panic attacks were bad.

Starved for oxygen, his muscles were burning and he couldn't find the strength to keep fighting. His arms dropped, hanging limply at his side. Tears were flowing freely from his eyes now and he couldn't find the will to care about showing his weakness to this man.

Allison had said they would let him go home. Ha, showed how much control she really had over this situation.

Damn it, he couldn't die like this! He remembered seeing his dad, jumping and cheering in the bleachers. He'd been so proud, so happy. This would utterly destroy him. Would his body even ever be found? Stiles was pretty sure that the omega Gerard had cut in half had never been found. Was that going to happen to Stiles? His dad wouldn't be able to take that. He'd work himself into an early grave looking for his son.

“You're a rare find, my boy, just like Jackson. Another weapon I can add to my arsenal after my own transformation.”

“What?”

Gerard's hand released, moving to grip him tightly by his shoulders to control his descent to the floor as his legs gave out beneath him. Everything was out of focus. Drawing in deep lungfuls of air made him feel slightly light headed. Stiles could barely concentrate. What was the bastard talking about now?

“I've been fighting a little health issue of my own for some time now. A little more serious than ADHD or epilepsy. Witch doctors and potions can keep the symptoms at bay, keep my strength at its peak. But there is only one sure fire cure-all, isn't there?”

Stiles coughed violently, eyes wide as he fought to speak.

“You want the bite! You old hypocrite, did you say anything about this when your daughter-in-law killed herself rather than turn? What about your so called laws?” Stiles breath was ragged as he glared up at Gerard. “What do you think your son will have to say about this?”

Gerard laughed.

“What my son might say won't affect my decision. I'm dying and tonight I'll have my way to overcome that and survive. Scott will bring me to Derek, one way or another. Derek will turn me. And when I kill him, I'll become an Alpha.” Gerard smiled. “And after I'm an Alpha, I'll turn you.”

Stiles froze.

“Why? What could I possibly offer you? A parlor trick with mountain ash? I don't think it's very special.”

Gerard knelt beside him and Stiles couldn't even muster the energy to crawl away any more.

“Oh but it is. That 'parlor trick'? It's a test. The bestiary doesn't have a very detailed section on Sparks. They are not as rare as the Kanima, but still rare enough. I suppose it's possible for you to not even know what you are, especially if the trait is on your mother’s side.”

Stiles blinked in confusion. What did his mother have to do with anything? Lack of oxygen had given him a serious headache.

“An Alpha, with a Spark and a Kanima in his pack. There won't be a monster safe from me. I'll rid the world of them all.”

Stiles stared. Really? That was his master plan?

“Dude, that seems a little hypocritical since you'd be one of the monsters!” Stiles smirked. “And this all seems pretty dependent on Scott. But you're underestimating him. Scott won't lead you to Derek. He won't let Derek turn you.”

Gerard's smile didn't waver.

“Oh, Mr. Stilinski. You are out of the loop aren't you? Scott McCall is perfectly aware of what I want. Even he isn't dense enough not to pick up on it.”

His heartbeat seemed to stop for a moment. What?

“Mr. McCall and I worked out a sort of agreement some time ago. He keeps me informed on the activities of Derek and Jackson and I don't stick a knife into his mother's gut.”

Oh God, he could feel his heart breaking. He knew that one of Scott's greatest fears since he had been bitten would be that his mom would be injured. Dragged into this supernatural free-for-all and hurt, or worse. It was one of the first things Peter had picked up on.

Why? How could Scott have kept this from him?

“And now he knows, if he gives me Derek then he gets to keep Allison too.”

And just like that Stiles knew, with every fiber of his being that Scott wouldn't be saving him. Because ever since he became a wolf, since Allison came into their lives, Stiles was quickly beginning to lose his position in Scott's life. He couldn't really blame Scott, falling in love was a powerful thing. But it was still a bitter pill to swallow.

It had always been just Scott and Stiles, for years. But now it was Scott and Allison. And Scott couldn't find time for Stiles anymore.

If it came down, in the final moments, to a choice between Allison and Stiles. Scott would choose Allison. No matter how much of a psychotic bitch she was becoming. He'd mourn afterward, most likely never forgive himself. But in the heat of the moment he would choose Allison.

Gerard's next comment was cut off as the door overhead opened and feet quickly descended the stairs. One of the hunters that had grabbed Stiles off the field appeared. He ignored Stiles and the Betas completely as he approached Gerard and waited for permission to speak.

“We've found Derek Hale. He and another man, possibly another werewolf, showed up at the high school after the authorities left. They approached Scott McCall and Isaac Lahey in the locker room, then all four left together. They appeared to be heading towards the old Hale house.”

Gerard stood, his face contemplative.

“There was an older man you say?”

“Yes but neither of us recognized him. We haven't caught sight of him on our surveillance before.”

Stiles' heart leapt. A wild card! That was apparently on Derek's side. That was a good thing right? Oh, please let that be a good thing.

“Thank you, Marcus. Go on ahead and get the car ready. In a moment, you can return Mr. Stilinski to the school.”

“So, you're not gonna kill me?”

Ugh, didn't he just say something about history repeating? Gerard pulled Stiles to his feet as Marcus ran back up the steps.

“Of course. I'm hardly going to keep you tied up with the beasts. You'll be by my side soon, Stiles. Let's call this a gesture of good faith.”

“Good faith? Good faith! You just beat the shit out of me in your son's basement! There is absolutely nothing you could do to foster good faith with me!”

Gerard smiled, brushing dirt off of Stiles' jersey.

“How about I agree to let Scott live? To not call in an anonymous tip and have the Sheriff gunned down in a dirty alley as he searches for his missing son?”

Stiles whimpered. How did these people always know how to make them hurt the most? Know what to say to make them all dance like damn puppets? Why did these people always go straight for the heart? Were they all that easy to read? Still, he had to try something. Anything.

“You won't be able to kill Derek. He was badass as a Beta and becoming an Alpha has just made him crazy strong.”

Gerard wrapped an arm companionably behind Stiles’ back, tossing one of the boy’s arms over his shoulder to support him. Stiles stifled back a scream as his ribs protested the movement.

“Oh, I don't think I'll have too much trouble. After all, Derek has lost two of his Betas.” He kicked at Erica and Boyd as they passed. “These two were abandoning him when Allison caught them. I don't think Derek will be at his best.”

Stiles barely had time to meet the Betas’ eyes as Gerard began dragging him back up the stairs.

“But even if Derek proves too much of a challenge, I have other options. See, I'm old. I've had lots of time to make friends, in a lot of places, Stiles. And these friends tell me there is another pack coming. An Alpha pack. If I can't kill Derek, I'll have several more to choose from soon enough.”

Stiles' heart was racing. An Alpha pack? Didn't they have enough problems as it was?

“Now Stiles, Marcus is going to return you to school. I think it would be for the best if you went home and rested a little. Let your father know that you're okay.” Once they reached the main floor Gerard hustled him quickly into the garage and the waiting Tahoe.

“Go home Stiles. Spend some time with your father, think about what we talked about and when the time comes... accept it.”

Stiles didn't answer. His eyes were glued to the floorboards. With a final smile and a revolting pat on his shoulder, Gerard closed the door and the Tahoe quickly backed out of the garage.

Stiles slumped in his seat, not caring that his seat belt wasn't buckled. He wiped the tears off of his face, wincing as he brushed up against his bruised cheekbone. Street lights illuminated the floorboards as they drove beneath them. Stiles knew that he should be doing something. Drawing attention to himself. Trying to escape. But he just couldn't work up the energy.

It sucked. It all just sucked.

He never thought in a million years that he would prefer Peter Hale. Over anybody! But Peter had never threatened his father. Peter was crazy for a reason.

Gerard was just psychotic.

There was no way he could accept a bite from Gerard. He'd been terrified of what Peter might make him do. He knew what Gerard wanted him for. To use his magical fairy dust to murder all the supernatural creatures in existence.

He couldn't let Gerard bite him. He couldn't. But Gerard wasn't bluffing. There would be nothing stopping him from gunning down his dad in cold blood.

Stiles didn't know what to do.

Hell, there wasn't anything he could do! Tonight had just reinforced the lesson he had learned that night at the station.

He had kept his mouth closed. But the pressure was beyond what he could bear now. And nobody was coming to save him.

Chapter Text

Stiles hadn't really thought much about what he was doing. Everything was just rushing by and he was trying so hard not to trip. So hard not to fall back into that helpless depressed state he'd been feeling since Matt had pistol whipped his dad and murdered half of the county’s deputies.

He tried to remember the rush, that high that he had felt out on the lacrosse field. The success of being a 'hero'.

Taking a deep breath, quietly through his nose, he backed away from the dusty warehouse window. He couldn't see everyone but he could see enough. Skipping lightly on his toes, he hightailed it back to his jeep.

Lydia sat impatiently in the passenger seat, her eyes following his every move. As soon as the door was open, she let loose with her interrogation.

“Are they in there? Did you see Jackson?”

“Shhh,” hissed Stiles. “Whisper! Half of them can probably hear you and I'd like to hold onto the element of surprise.”

Lydia's look was biting. She glanced reproachfully over the dashboard towards the Jeep's engine.

“If they can hear me talking, there's no way they missed this piece of shit Jeep driving up.”

Frowning, Stiles pointedly didn't reply as he jumped back behind the wheel and buckled his seat belt. Lydia's eyes narrowed.

“Where are we going? I thought you were going to take me to Jackson?”

As if his heart really needed to take another pounding tonight? Forcing himself to stay in the moment, Stiles gestured towards her seat belt and he threw the Jeep into drive. Lydia's glare intensified, but she fastened her belt regardless.

“Don't worry. You'll see Jackson in a minute.” He sighed, sparing her a sideways glance. Her eyes were so hopeful, but scared at the same time. She needed this so badly. Needed Jackson. She, God, she loved that asshole too much. Way more than he deserved. “A word of warning though, you might not recognize him.”

She didn't have time to reply. Stiles gunned the engine, driving straight towards the weakest part of the building he could see. Lydia gasped slightly, sitting up straight as she clutched at her seat belt. Driving headlong towards the old warehouse door, Stiles whispered encouragement to his baby, praying that the door wasn't reinforced. Believing that they would gather enough momentum to break through.

He could see Lydia squeeze her eyes shut and raise her hands protectively in front of her face. As the wall loomed gigantic in front of them, she screamed. Stiles clutched the steering wheel tighter, driving away the urge to scream himself. Or to close his eyes. Or to veer off course.

There was a moment, when the door filled the windshield, that he considered slamming on the breaks. What was he thinking? They were human! If the gate was reinforced, if they didn't break through and the Jeep crashed...they were so fragile. So easily broken.

But then the door was breaking apart as the Jeep rammed into it and they were barreling into the warehouse.

Stiles didn't have time for the whoop of joy he felt like crowing, or to take in the big picture, or to settle himself into a nice secluded corner for a major panic attack. His eyes zoned in on the Kanima, Allison pulling out of its grasp as it was distracted. He didn't have time to worry if she was out of the way as he turned the wheel, aiming straight for the giant lizard-man.

At the moment of impact, he gave into the desire to close his eyes, continuing forward for a few seconds after the telltale thud of a collision. Slamming on the brakes, he peeked one eye open towards Lydia. Out the passenger window, he could see Scott, his friend's eyes wide with amazement.

“Did I get him?”

Scott grinned and Stiles couldn't help the reflex to grin back. Then the Kanima got up. He jumped, hissing viciously, onto the hood of the Jeep, glaring into the cab.

Stiles wasn't too manly to admit that he shrieked like a four year old. But he didn't think anyone could really blame him. Not anyone that had gotten an eyeful of what those claws had done to his father's deputies.

Scrambling, he and Lydia abandoned ship. It wasn't until he had taken up a much safer position behind Scott that he realized that he had lost Lydia along the way. Eyes searching, he turned and saw her, standing in front of the Kanima. Confronting Jackson.

“Jackson...”

Oh god, his heart couldn't take any more pain. If he watched Lydia die tonight, he would shatter and never be able to pull himself back together. He started back, to get her. To drag her away from those deadly claws. But Scott grabbed him, holding him back.

The shock of betrayal he felt was instantaneous. How could Scott do this? Just let her die? If it was Allison- But then Stiles caught sight of Allison, standing by Scott's side as if she had never left and Gerard's words came back to him.

Scott's eyes were still trained on Lydia. Turning back, Stiles watched as she held up the key that hadn't left her hand all night. The Kanima caught sight of it and Jackson, actually Jackson it seemed, couldn't take his eyes off of it.

For a moment, there was silence and then, the scales began to recede. Jackson was Jackson again. Lydia was crying, tears of joy, and Stiles had to look away. Because, she loved him. She had never stopped loving that asshole. Even when he had taken her heart and stomped it into the ground. And if her feelings hadn't changed after that, they never would.

After everything that had happened; the beating, the betrayal, it seemed like such a small thing. He'd known, he had always known that Lydia loved Jackson. That she would never feel that way about him. But to have it rubbed in his face, on this night, was just too much.

He thought he'd shed all the tears he could. Apparently he had been wrong.

Then, Jackson backed away from her. He raised his arm and gave a small nod as his eyes closed.

Derek came flying out of nowhere, getting between the two and stabbing his claws into Jackson's gut. Another wolf came in from behind, too quickly for Stiles to get a good look at, repeating the action to Jackson's back.

For a moment, the scene was frozen. Everyone staring in shock. Then Derek and the other wolf released Jackson and he dropped limp onto the floor. Lydia sobbed, hysterical as Jackson died for the second time, right before her eyes.

But Stiles wasn't watching her anymore. His heart pounded in his chest, adrenaline he had thought was already spent sent coursing through his system. Because as Jackson fell, he caught sight of the other wolf.

And it was Peter Hale.

Peter Freakin' Hale, back from the dead it seemed. He looked better than the last time Stiles had seen him. His throat looked whole and he didn't appear to be charred at all. He shot a wild eyed glance towards Scott for confirmation that he wasn't actually hallucinating from one too many knocks to the head in one night.

But Scott wasn't fazed at all. He had to know that the wolf who had bitten him was there. Had to be able to smell him. But he was showing no reaction to Peter's presence. In fact, he appeared to be completely calm. Stiles glanced down and found the reason why.

Allison had taken his hand at some point. Their fingers were laced tightly together.

God dammit. They were really going to act as if the 'psychotic bitch reprise' had never happened?

But Allison wasn't looking at Lydia. Wasn't glaring at Derek. Her eyes were scanning the warehouse.

“Where's Gerard?”

Stiles felt his heart beat stutter. He turned, searching with his own eyes as Chris replied. But he only saw a puddle on the ground. It shone like blood in the moonlight. But as he took a cautious step forward, he saw that it was black like oil.

He recoiled, eyes wide, heart racing like a rabbit.

He'd found a rabbit in their backyard when he was just a kid. Sprawled out; stiff and cold with glassy eyes. But he hadn't seen any injuries. He'd taken it to his mother and she'd told him that the poor little thing had been so frightened of something, that its heart had burst. Stiles wondered if it was possible for human hearts to burst from extreme fright. With the work out his was getting tonight, it seemed possible.

He recognized that black oily substance, from the night he almost had to amputate Derek's arm. It was werewolf puke. Oh God, had Derek really bitten the old bastard?

Claws scratching against concrete caused him to whirl around. Murmuring under his breath. 'Oh my God. No, no, no, no, no.' But it wasn't Gerard, come back to fulfill his promises. It was Jackson, eyes glowing as he made the glorious transformation from corpse to werewolf. Something that seemed to be happening much too often lately.

Unbidden, his eyes jumped towards Peter. The zombie wolf was watching Lydia and Jackson, his eyes calculating. As if sensing that he was being watched, Peter's eyes snapped towards Stiles and widened slightly as a pleased smile curled the edges of his lips. Stiles didn't bother to try and hide the shiver that crept up his spine. Peter's smile seemed to grow even wider.

What had been that treacherous thought that had slipped out of his subconscious earlier? That he'd prefer Peter Hale over Gerard Argent any day? Something along those lines. Yeah. Someday he was going to learn to stop his brain when it was ahead. Or well, just stop his brain sometimes.

Peter's head tilted back, nose raised slightly. Oh hell, was the zombie wolf sniffing him? God, he felt so violated. He took a few steps backward, as if he could move out of sniffing range, but froze when his foot splashed in the black puddle. He jumped forward with a startled cry, dragging his shoe along the concrete.

Oh gross, it was werewolf puke. Definitely werewolf puke. That was a stench he'd never forget. Stiles turned in a circle, trying to rub all of the grossness off of his tennis shoe. Damn it, these were new and he already knew he'd never be able to wear them again.

“Stiles, are you okay?”

Miracle of miracles! Scott's attention had left Allison. Stiles paused. His mild freak out had drawn the attention of everyone. Well, everyone except Jackson whose face was buried in the curve of Lydia's throat. Stiles' eyebrows raised and his arms flailed out. Just far enough as to not bowl him over in agony.

“Well yeah, of course I'm fine. I've just got some gross, disgusting geriatric werewolf vomit on me. Maybe some scales on the Jeep. But otherwise I'm perfect.”

Everyone in the warehouse looked shocked. Well great, score one for Team Stiles.

“Oh my God, really?” He turned on Derek, pointing accusingly. “You bit him? You really bit him? Why? Why would you do that?”

Derek's eyes blazed, Alpha red and furious. Slowly, he turned to stare at Scott.

“I wasn't exactly given a choice.”

All of his anger fizzled out. Everything; his fear, his pain and disgust. It was swallowed up by his shock and disbelief. Stiles visibly sagged, turning to stare wide eyed at his best friend.

“Scott... Scotty, what did you do?”

Scott had the gall to look...somewhat pleased with himself.

“Dr Deaton and I, we had a plan.” Scott turned towards Allison, squeezing her hand tightly. Apparently this explanation wasn't just for Stiles' benefit. “I played along, did what Gerard wanted and when I got the chance I swapped his pills with capsules of mountain ash. When Derek bit him, his body resisted the change.”

Scott paused. This was the part of the routine where normally Stiles would praise him for thinking up a plan on his own. But not this time. Stiles just felt sick.

“Derek, what did Scott do?”

He turned away from his friend, eyes searching the Alpha's face. Derek stood, stone still, in the same position as before. But the fury was melting out of his eyes. Replaced by the oh so familiar haze of betrayal. When Derek didn't speak, Stiles rounded on his friend. His best friend. Scott, the big lovable puppy. Who'd never kept secrets from Stiles. Not until now.

“Scott!” He was yelling now. “What did you do!?”

Scott recoiled, a hurt look in his eyes. But Stiles couldn't muster the effort to try and feel sorry for him now.

“It was part of the plan. Derek had to bite Gerard.”

“When Derek was paralyzed by the Kanima's venom, Scott pried my nephew's jaw open and forced him to bite down when Gerard stuck his arm into his mouth.”

Peter's voice was coming from right behind Stiles, but it had absolutely nothing to do with the shudders racking his body.

“Was Derek in on your plan?”

Scott finally seemed to begin to understand. Open mouthed, he gaped at his friend before shaking his head in the negative. Stiles choked out a laugh.

“So, you forced Derek to bite Gerard Argent! The man, who is ultimately responsible for all of the untold misery in his life. Without even the courtesy of letting him know that, you had a plan? That's cold Scott, he's your Alpha.”

Scott's face turned belligerent.

“He's not my Alpha!”

And there went Derek's face with the betrayal again. God Scott. What had he done?

Stiles smiled and wondered if it looked as nasty as he felt. “That's right,” he said. “You only joined the pack because 'Grandpa' wanted the inside scoop.” Scott's eyes were wide with shock, Stiles hadn't ever spoken to him like this before.

Behind Scott, Allison froze. Chris turned abruptly, a look of realization dawning on his face.

“He threatened my mom.”

“I understand, believe me. But, God, Scott, why didn't you tell me? I might not have been able to help, but being kept in the loop would be nice.” He didn't like the bitter tone his voice was taking. But he was just so tired now. He was pretty sure that dawn was creeping into the warehouse through the hole he'd made with his Jeep. He'd just like to make it home before his dad realized he wasn't in his bed and reorganized the search party.

“I mean, a little heads up isn't too much to ask for. 'Hey buddy, I've been conspiring with the evil principal for the last few weeks, but we've stopped talking. So be on the safe side and keep an eye out!'”

Scott's eyes widened as he took in the cuts and bruises and realized what practically everyone in the warehouse probably already knew.

“Gerard did-”

“Yep, right before he gloated about you two being the best of friends! I'm sure Erica and Boyd enjoyed the show.” Derek's eyes widened. “You know, your girlfriend really knows how to keep a captive audience.”

He looked past Scott, smiling sardonically at Allison who looked torn between bursting into tears and shooting him. It was a look he thought only she would ever be able to pull off.

“Really Allison, I never knew you had it in you.” He paused, glancing back to the black puddle. “But I really should have.”

Derek's roar drowned out any response Allison might have made. Isaac's hands appeared to be the only thing keeping the Alpha from charging the huntress. The younger werewolf kept himself between them and for the first time Stiles noticed his injuries. Derek obviously noticed them as well, since he didn't slap the Beta out of his path. Or maybe he was just too tired as well. Allison prepared herself regardless, dropping to a low crouch and drawing a knife from who knows where.

Bravely, Chris stepped between them, hands raised towards Derek in a placating gesture.

“Both of the Betas are free. I let them go myself before I left the house to find Scott.”

Derek huffed angrily, but allowed Isaac to pull him away, accepting the truth of Chris' heartbeat. They conferred among themselves for a moment. Peter passed Stiles, nodding absently at whatever was being said.

It seemed like this was the breaking point for the night. What was left of the wolf pack huddled together. Scott's attention was back on Allison, but it appeared to have lost a glimmer of the former glow. Chris was digging through the back hatch of the Tahoe, searching for a blanket not covered in glass shards for the shivering Jackson.

Glancing back towards the black puddle, Stiles asked.

“So who's going to hunt down Gerard and kill him if he turns?”

Everyone froze. Scott looked at him, confused.

“Stiles, he isn't going to change. The mountain ash prevented it.”

Stiles sighed.

“No Scott, the mountain ash set it back. His body is rejecting the change now, but so did Jackson's at first remember? And look what happened to him.” The image was enough to make Stiles sick, but he had to make the others see it. To know that the danger wasn't past. “If it doesn't kill him, the bite could still take. He might become a werewolf. Or who knows, he could become something else.”

Scott looked genuinely shocked. Dr Deaton really needed to learn to simplify explanations more. Or maybe just not be so vague.

“So who's going to find him and make sure he's dead before he turns? Before he finds another Alpha to kill.” He met Derek's eyes across the room, judging his reaction. “After all, with his years of experience and vast amount of contacts, I doubt he'd have trouble finding another.”

The Alpha's eyes narrowed. He glared at Stiles, trying to work out exactly what the teenager was implying. Peter was watching him again, an eyebrow raised curiously. Isaac glanced between the three of them, brow furrowed. When he opened his mouth to speak, Stiles clapped his hands in a loud and cheery gesture.

“Well.” He rubbed his sweaty palms together and glanced back towards the Argent's. Chris was digging through the hatch again, this time taking stock of his weapon cache. Allison was kneeling beside Lydia, trying to coax the other girl to her feet. “I'll leave you supernatural and hunter types to it!”

He turned, making his way back to the Jeep. He paused briefly to inspect the damage to the grill. Bits of wood and scales were caught in the dented metal. He sighed. Damn it. It seemed like he had just gotten it out of the impound lot and he was going to have to send it back to the shop. What was his dad gonna say?

A hand grabbed at his arm, holding it lightly. After a moment of fighting back panic Stiles glanced over his shoulder and met Scott's eyes. Scott's big, sorrowful brown eyes.

“Stiles, where are you going? We need you here.”

Stiles pulled away slowly. With a heavy sigh, he turned to face his best friend.

“No, you don't, Scott. And what I need is to be home before my dad has to get up and go to work. He can't know that I was out all night after what happened yesterday.”

Scott looked torn. He knew how frayed Stiles' relationship with his father had become these last few months.

“You didn't need me when you were hatching this plan of yours with your boss. You didn't need me when you were reporting to Gerard behind all of our backs.”

Stiles’s eyes were bright with un-shed tears. Scott swallowed.

“But-”

Stiles cut him off.

“You had your reasons, Scott. I get it. It seemed like your only option at the time. We'll talk about it all later, I promise. But right now; I'm tired, in pain and angry. I need to go home. Okay Scott?”

He backed away, reaching for the door handle. Scott nodded. Stiles nodded back, then pulled the door open.

“Stiles?” He sighed as he climbed into the driver’s seat. Scott appeared at the window, speaking through the glass. His eyes were slightly panicked. “You're my best friend, the best friend I've ever had. Am I...am I still...?”

Stiles watched his friends face carefully. The slight panic increased every moment he stayed silent. That uneven jaw clenched, dark brows furrowing. Stiles leaned forward, closing his eyes as he rested his forehead on the steering wheel.

“Of course you are. Always have been, always will be. But-” He paused. “I just need some time Scott. Just give me a little time.”

Scott nodded, understanding warring against worry in his eyes. Stiles turned the key, breathing a sigh of relief when the engine turned over. He glanced back into the warehouse, watching Allison help Lydia and Jackson into the Tahoe. He nodded towards them.

“Make sure Lydia gets home safe.”

Scott turned to look and met Allison's eyes. For a moment, they watched each other, sharing a longing glance. But then Allison caught Stiles' gaze.

Abruptly, her face went white, contorting with guilt. She turned away, quickly running to the other side of the Tahoe. Scott turned, his face a mixture of emotions.

“Stiles, what did Allison do?” He flushed. “I mean, what did she do to you? She can't even look at you.”

Stiles shook his head, not meeting Scott's eyes.

“Not now. We can talk later but, please, not right now.”

Scott nodded again and this time he stepped away from the Jeep. Stiles lifted his head, shifting the Jeep into reverse. As he sat up, he caught Derek's eyes.

The Alpha was still watching him, eyes wary. Stiles narrowed his own eyes in return before turning to watch as he backed out through the hole he had made. It wasn't until he was several miles away and hopefully out of the range of wolfy ears that he pulled over onto the shoulder and put the Jeep into park.

He leaned back in his seat, hissing in pain as he gently tested his ribs. They didn't feel broken. He remembered what a broken rib felt like. Of course it hadn't been his rib. But Coach hadn't let anyone leave practice that day until everyone had felt up Greenberg's torso.

So they would know what it felt like, he had justified. Stiles still wasn't convinced. The man enjoyed torturing Greenberg too much.

So, cracked ribs. They just wrapped those, right? He could do that. He couldn't go to the hospital. Mrs. McCall would be there, or she'd hear about it. And they would call his dad. No, he'd just wrap it himself.

With another deep breath, Stiles put the Jeep back into drive and pulled back onto the road.

Chapter Text

Stiles woke up gasping, furiously blinking away tears and the remnants of a nightmare. He curled in defensively beneath his sheet, panting and soaked with sweat. After a moment, he winced, finally noticing the pain in his ribs. The bandages he had wrapped himself had not been a successful venture in the first place. And they had slipped even looser while he slept.

Opening his eyes, he groaned. The sun was shining into his room and it seemed like every muscle in his body was stiff and achy. Everything seemed to protest as he forced himself to sit up. The sheet slipped off his bare shoulder, pooling in his lap. He sat for a few moments, taking deep breaths to calm his racing heart. It seemed like he could feel every heartbeat pulsing painfully through all his cuts and bruises.

His eyes caught the post-it note stuck to the bedside table and he sighed, gingerly reaching over to pick it up. It was just a few lines, written in his father’s chicken scratch. But it hurt just as much as any of his cuts or bruises.


Got called in. Whittemore's body vanished from hospital.
Please don't have anything to do with it.
We are going to have a very long talk when I get home.
Be there!

He'd found the note stuck to his bedroom door when he'd gotten home that morning. His dad had already gone. Stiles leaned back against the headboard, dropping the post-it note back onto the bedside table.

This conversation was...a long time coming. Months. But Stiles still had no idea what he would tell his dad. He knew that his off the top of his head lie about the opposing team from yesterday's game wouldn't hold up to the Sheriff of Beacon Hills' scrutiny. But he had no clue what he could actually say. His dad would know if he was lying. Stiles knew that he had been accepting the lies for awhile, but didn't think he was gonna do that anymore. He wanted the truth. But...there was no way he could actually tell his dad the truth.

Could he?

No!

He had been prepared to once. Before Jackson's restraining order. But, his dad would never just believe him. He'd need proof. He would need to call over Scott or Isaac (or god forbid Derek) to show off for his dad. But he couldn't expose them like that, especially after last night's violations. Their non-human status wasn't his secret to share.

So, lying was out. Telling the truth was out. He could try pleading the fifth or asking for an attorney but his dad got enough of that at work.

Stiles yawned, stretching his aching muscles. He'd figure something out. He had too. But now...His stomach rumbled. Now, food.

Swinging his legs over the edge of the bed, Stiles used his foot to root through a pile of dirty clothes. Every shirt he managed to find was either stained or stunk. He gave up fairly quickly, probably wouldn't have been able to pull a shirt on over his head anyway.

With a wince, he levered himself up onto his feet, the growling in his stomach sending him out of bed to scavenge some breakfast. Or lunch. At the door, he paused. Eyes widening with dread, he turned and scoured the floor.

Dirty clothes were strewn everywhere. But his lacrosse uniform was nowhere to be seen.

A groan escaped his lips as he leaned against the door. How likely was it that someone would have Gerard and his cronies DNA on file? A small county like theirs would need to send samples to an outside lab to have a DNA analysis done. Would they link the DNA on his jersey to a whole string of unsolved murders that Gerard had probably left strung across the country?

With his luck? The FBI would be banging on his door as soon as the results were in.

Stiles scrubbed at his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. He should have hidden it, taken some precautions. He knew that his dad was suspicious. That he wouldn't he satisfied until he had names and someone in the station's one interrogation room. Hell, he'd probably sent someone out to get cheek swabs from the other team last night!

Whatever the results of the lab testing, he couldn't let them be sprung on his unsuspecting father. Because, while he didn't know exactly what his dad's suspicions were (drugs? A gang?), his only son being kidnapped and beaten by a murderer, possibly serial killer, wasn't likely on the list.

Which just magnified his need to come up with something to tell him. Maybe something like the truth after all. He had been prepared to do it once. He would just need to dredge up that lost resolve. Maybe he just needed to get it over with. They couldn't expect to keep this supernatural shitstorm a secret forever.

But he couldn't tonight.. He needed to talk to some of the wolves first. Get permission to share their secrets and their faces.

Again, his stomach growled and Stiles opened the door, pounding downstairs to the kitchen. He opened the fridge, sticking his head inside. Nothing already made up. A couple of eggs that were starting to go bad. Some vegetables and some uncooked ground turkey. With a groan, he stepped back, swinging the door closed. Maybe there was some cereal left.

A banging from the behind the house froze him in his tracks.

Stiles' eyes shot to the kitchen door that led out to the back yard. After a second, his eyes dropped to the doorknob. Locked, of course. His dad would never leave a door unlocked while Stiles was home alone and sleeping.

Another loud bang sounded, followed by a scratching sound on the back deck. Stiles swallowed, his heavily shaking hands pulled open the cutlery drawer and grabbing the largest knife they owned.

Stiles' feet didn't want to move. He sucked in deep breaths of air, fighting back the panic he could feel building.

He flinched, taking a few steps backwards as another bang echoed out of the yard.

He should check. Not open the door or anything stupid. Just take a look out the window. It was probably a stray, digging through the garbage cans. They should both be full today, since the pick up was tomorrow morning. Just a quick peek and he could calm down.

Another noise, a car horn blaring from the street, sent him scurrying out of the kitchen and down the hallway. The door to his dad's office wasn't locked and he quickly scrambled inside and locked the door behind him.

Stiles backed away from the door until he ran into the desk. Panting, Stiles held the knife in front of him with both hands, willing his body to stop shaking. To calm down.

He needed to calm the fuck down! It was just noise. It was the middle of the day. Gerard Argent wasn't going to show up to murder him in the middle of the day.

He shoved the rolling office chair away from the desk, dropping to the floor and crawling into the open cavity beneath it.

Oh god. He didn't want Gerard Argent to kill him in his own house. He didn't want to die before he had the chance to clear the air with his dad.

In the darkness below the desk, it was difficult to tell if his vision was blacking out at the edges. He felt confined, his breaths coming short and ragged. As if he couldn't get in enough air. But his back was protected, he couldn't be flanked. Couldn't be snuck up on. This room only had a small rectangular window, up by the ceiling. No one older that five could squeeze through it. (He and Scotty had tested it.) The only possible approach was right in front of him.

There was noise, senseless and thoughtless sounds of terror, slipping unbidden through his lips. Letting go of the knife with his left hand Stiles brought it up to cover his mouth. The high pitched whimpers and heavy panting still escaped, but were muffled now.

Closing his eyes, Stiles fought to slow his heart beat, to even out his breathing. Everything was fine, he told himself. He was overreacting.

Very slowly, he sat the knife down on the floor. He opened his eyes, looking at the shine on the edge of the blade as he pushed it away with his foot. Stiles slumped, his eyes never leaving the knife as it slid across the floor. The panic was sliding away with it, he told himself. Visualizing it, he forced himself to take a deep breath and hold it.

He was calm, all about the calm. Stiles was a still lake. A Zen temple. He was an herbal tea that smelled good, but tasted awful.

Tires screeching out on the street sent his visual from still lake to rushing rapids.

Gasping for air, Stiles slid backwards on his ass. He needed that wall on his back, something to brace himself against. He didn't expect to crack his skull on anything.

Twisting slightly Stiles caught sight of a small metal box anchored to the underside of the desk. Oh, it was a lock-box. For a gun.

He didn't realize he was moving, twisting all the way around and rising on his knees as much as he could, until the lock-box was open. Until the gun was in his hands. He checked the safety, on, and then put his back to the wall.

Stiles could feel his heartbeat slowing, his breathing resuming a steady rhythm. Logically, he recognized all of the sounds that he had heard. Just background noise from the neighborhood.

A stray in the backyard.

Mr. Richards down the street was always honking unnecessarily at things. Kids on skateboards. Dogs. Baby carriages.

The neighbor's kid, Samantha or something, had just gotten her driver's permit.

Everything normal enough. No psychotic, old, maybe werewolves coming to kill or kidnap him. He knew all of that, acknowledged it.

But he held the gun tightly. (Finger beside the trigger, not on it.) And he didn't come out from under the desk.

Several hours later, it must have been but it just felt like a few minutes, he heard the familiar sound of his dad's cruiser pulling into the driveway. The tension began to drain out of him. As he heard the car door slam and his dad's key in the lock a few seconds later, he let the gun sag to the floor.

Stiles could hear his dad grumbling as he opened the door and no doubt stepped on the mail left all day on the floor. He closed his eyes, counting the seconds as he imagined his dad picking up the envelopes and shuffling through them. Listened to him as he ambled by the closed office door on his way to the kitchen. Heard him pause when he caught sight of the still opened drawer. Then, right on cue:

“Stiles?”

He'd been expecting a more questioning tone. Not the startled and worried sound his dad made. Stiles cleared his throat, noticing how dry his mouth was for the first time. He called out and then a little louder, because his dad was human after all.

“Here...I'm in here.”

John Stilinski's footsteps sounded hurried as he moved back down the hallway. He hit the door, not expecting it to be locked.

“Stiles? Are you in there? Unlock the door for me, kiddo.”

Even as he spoke, Stiles could hear his keyring rattling loudly. So the boy didn't bother to get up.

“Stiles, what are you doing in my office? If you're sneaking a look at case files again, I swear to God...”

His voice dropped off as he pushed the door open to find the office dark. As he flicked on the light switch, his tone escalated from worried to approaching panic, but still trying to hide it.

“Stiles?”

Beneath the desk, Stiles stuck out a foot, wiggling it slightly.

“Down here.”

John entered the room slowly, taking his hand off the butt of his service weapon to close the door behind him. Grabbing the desk chair, he pushed it further away as he knelt to look under the desk.

“Stiles...”

The first thing to catch his eye was the opened lock-box. From there his eyes darted straight to the gun in his son's hands.

“Give me the gun, kiddo.”

That was his cop voice. The calming tone that said, 'Trust me, I'm an elected official.' Stiles glanced at the gun briefly as he let his dad take it from him.

“The safety is on.”

John was silent as he double checked the safety. Then ejected and checked the clip. After a quick glance at his son's hands, he pulled back the slide and sniffed the chamber. That was enough to ruffle Stiles from his lethargy.

“I didn't shoot anyone, Dad.”

John stuffed the gun back into the lock-box, keeping the clip as he shut and locked it. Crisis averted for now, he sighed, shifting until he was sitting on the floor beside his desk. Eyeing his son wearily, he asked.

“You been under there long?”

Stiles shrugged, he didn't remember if he'd so much as glanced at a clock after he'd woken up.

“Long enough that my ass is numb.”

John nodded.

“You gonna come out of there anytime soon?”

“No, not yet. It's kinda nice, like being in a cave. Or a blanket fort. All I need is a flashlight, some comic books, and junk food. Hey Dad-”

He broke off as the beam of John's police issued Maglite shone into his eyes. Blinded, Stiles protested loudly, raising an arm to shield his eyes.

“Gah, Dad! What the hell?”

For a moment, John was silent. Then:

Jesus Christ Stiles! Are those...Did someone try to strangle you?”

Freezing, Stiles looked down with wide eyes. Of course, he hadn't looked in a mirror. But all of the bruises from yesterday would look even more vivid today. He couldn't see his throat. But where the bandages had slipped down his torso he could see dark purple, blue, and green bruises covering his ribcage. Both of his upper arms were bruised as well, from where Marcus and his friend had yanked him off the field.

“Damn it Stiles, answer me!”

Stiles flinched. He couldn't explain all of this away. There was more damage done then even the roughest of games. And someone would have-.

“Okay, then tell me this. All of the boys from the Jefferson Heights team have alibis. As soon as the game was over, they were back on the bus and headed home. The coach and his assistant vouched for all of them.”

He couldn't keep the look of guilt off of his face. His dad obviously saw it, judging by the anger behind his next question.

“So, who do you want to point the finger at next? Should I have a deputy bring in Derek Hale? Just to get that all out of the way?”

“No,” Stiles sounded- God, he sounded pitiful. Beaten. “Derek didn't do this.”

His dad caught onto his wording right away. So, no lies by omission either.

“Did he have something to do with it?”

Already, Stiles could see it. Derek on the run from another manhunt. He could see his dad mentally working out how many favors he'd have to call in from the adjoining counties.

“No, Dad. Derek had nothing to do with this.”

A lie, quickly picked up by bloodhound dad.

“Stiles, is he threatening you?”

“No, Derek isn't threatening me.”

Not for a little while anyway.

“But someone is?”

“Not anymore.”

Hopefully. If Chris or Derek had gotten rid of Gerard this morning.

“Not anymore!? What...” John glanced at the lock-box as his hand darted to his key ring. “Stiles, did you-”

He didn't finish the question. His fingers had found the small key that was necessary to open the much more dangerously stocked gun safe upstairs.

“No, Dad.”

Stiles huffed and finally shifted. He scooted himself slowly out from beneath the desk. He'd been down there, stuck in one position, long enough that his arms and legs had fallen asleep on him. Stiles couldn't decide what was more irritating: the pins and needles in his extremities or the unfortunately familiar pain in his ribs.

As soon as he was clear of the desk, his dad's hands caught his shoulders, guiding him into the desk chair. John's hands were gentle, his touch brief, as he cataloged his son's injuries.

Stiles remained silent through the quick inspection. Closing his eyes, he allowed himself to tip forward slightly, just enough to catch a whiff of his dad's familiar aftershave. He breathed in deeply, fighting to quell the tremors still rattling through his body.

John sighed, pulling Stiles in and wrapping him tightly in his arms. John made a strained, frustrated noise, but he didn't let go.

“Jesus, Stiles. Just tell me who did this. What happened?”

Stiles took another deep inhalation of aftershave and did nothing to stop the tears from leaking out and staining his dad's uniform. John let go as he stepped back to kneel down, taking his son's face gently between his hands.

“Just let me help you.”

Stiles sniffled, pulling away to viciously wipe away the tears streaming down his face. John sat back on his heels and it killed Stiles to see the look of resignation on his face. To watch him as he braced himself for another lie.

“I want to tell you.” John looked up, startled. “I've wanted to stop lying to you for so long. But I...can't tell you.” He raised a hand to stop his dad's interruption. Talked over his protests. “No one is making me lie to you Dad but...I can't tell you without breaking other people's confidences. A lot of people. Their secrets are important, like...life and death important, and they aren't mine to tell.”

John's face was a mixture of emotion: pride at his son's loyalty, but anger and frustration for the same characteristic at the same time. Stiles sat back in the chair, biting his lip and watching as his dad came to a decision.

“Okay, that's the way things are? You...you talk to these people. You tell them that I am going to be told the entire situation, in full, whether they like it or not.” Turnabout was still fair play apparently. John talked over his son's protests just as easily as his son had done a few minutes before. “Because I've got a pretty good idea about who a few of these people you're protecting are. I am not above dragging them all into the station on suspicion of whatever the hell I feel like at the time. You let them know that.”

Stiles couldn't help it. He laughed. The image of Derek, being frog marched back into the station face all scowly was too much for him.

“Okay, I'll let them know.”

Anything else he might have said was interrupted by the earsplitting growling of his stomach. Which, Stiles was mildly proud to admit, would have put a werewolf to shame. The tension in the room broke and John laughed at his son as he rose to his feet to help Stiles out of the chair.

“How about we get a pizza?”

“Okay,” said Stiles, remembering the state of the fridge. “But veggie lovers.”

“Nope,” said John popping the 'p' sound childishly. Stiles approved. “After the day, I've had we are getting the carnivore special.”

Stiles turned on his dad with a sharp judging glare. John met his gaze evenly. Stiles broke first, smiling as he pulled away.

“Alright, I'll let you cheat tonight. But it's back to the good stuff tomorrow.”

Muttering under his breath, John left to grab the phone and place their order.

“Alright, the good-for-you stuff!”

John nodded, waving a hand dismissively as he raised the phone to his ear. Stiles followed him out of the office but turned to stomp up the stairs.

“Gonna take a shower.”

He didn't listen to his dad's reply as he stopped by his bedroom to snag a set of clean clothes. Ducking into the bathroom, he dropped the pile of clothes onto the counter by the sink and grabbed a towel and washcloth out of the linen cabinet. But he couldn't avoid seeing it forever. Best to just get it over with he thought.

For the first time, Stiles looked at himself in the mirror.

He looked wrecked. And not in a good way.

The contrast between the bruises and his naturally pale skin was shocking. Seeing them for the first time really drove home not only how vicious Gerard had been, but how careful as well. The majority of the bruises, almost all of the intentional injuries, were in places that would have been hidden by his clothes.

Hissing, Stiles pulled the bandages off completely. His torso was a mottled mess of dark colors. Gingerly, he pressed against his more abused left side.

Yep, at least three of those ribs were cracked.

He slid his pajama pants and underwear off of his hips, stepping out of them and leaving them lay on the floor. He usually kept the bathroom fairly clean. But he was the only one who used it. What was the point of straining himself to pick up if he didn't have too?

Very carefully, Stiles stepped over the rim of the tub, pulling the shower curtain closed behind him. He twisted the knobs and gave the water a moment to warm up before he stepped under the spray. He shuddered slightly as the warm water beat against his chest. Not hot enough. Bending slightly, he turned up the heat.

The water heated up almost instantly and he groaned with pleasure. Dipping his head, he let the water run over his forehead, streaming down the curves of his face. A step forward and a new stream branched off, running down the back of his neck to slide over his shoulders.

For a few moments, Stiles remained utterly still, his chin resting against his chest, the nape of his neck exposed. He didn't make a move to wash himself. He just let the water rinse away the sweat he had built up in his panic.

After a few moments, his shoulders hitched. He froze, trying to keep it contained. But soon it happened again and he could not restrain the accompanying sob. Tears hid themselves amongst the streams running down his face, only distinguishable by the salty taste they left behind on his lips.

The loud drum of the water muffled his quiet sobs and finally Stiles stopped retraining himself. He let the tears flow freely, letting go of all the pent up fear and tension.

He was gonna tell him. Let his dad in on the big secret of Beacon Hills.

Surprise Dad! None of your crime scenes the last few months have made any kind of sense because of werewolves! Oh, let’s not forget the werewolf hunters and that Kanima thing.

A hysterical giggle slipped past his lips. He was gonna be so pissed! Stiles wasn't going to be allowed out of the house until he was like thirty or something.

And that was just fine with him. Three more weeks of school until summer vacation. Then hopefully he'd have some peace. Some time to breathe. For that he could accept his dad's ire.

The water had eased most of the stiffness from his sore muscles. Stiles sighed, rolling his neck. Tilting his head back, he scrunched up his face as he let the water beat against it. Soon the salty tear tracks were washed away.

He could do this. He could tell his dad the truth.

But first, he swallowed nervously. First, he needed to know what had happened with Gerard. Stiles grabbed the washcloth, soaping it before building up a good lather. He scrubbed himself thoroughly, gritting his teeth as the soap sunk into his cuts. It stung!

Once the soap was rinsed away, Stiles reached down and turned the water off. He let himself drip dry, breathing in the warm steam. A knock on the door startled him out of his thoughts. He poked his head out from behind the shower curtain.

“What?”

“I said are you doing okay in there?”

Stiles nodded.

“Yeah, I'm good. How long till the pizza gets here?”

“Another ten minutes.”

Good, he'd need some time to wrap his ribs back up. He thought about asking his dad for help but dismissed the idea immediately. His dad was worried, and angry enough as it was, all without seeing the suspiciously boot like bruises on Stiles' side.

“Kay, I'll be down in a bit.”

Silence. Then, after a few minutes, Stiles heard his dad leave. Pulling back the curtain, Stiles reached out and snagged his towel. He rubbed his head vigorously then the rest of his body a little more gently. After he was dry, he pulled on his underwear and gym shorts. Then he began his struggle with the bandages.

Eventually, he was semi-satisfied that they were wrapped as tightly as he could get them on his own. Then he began his secondary struggle, the shirt.

Five minutes later, he pounded down the stairs, completely dressed. His dad was at the door, shoveling out cash to the pizza boy in exchange for a large box of meaty goodness. Sneaking up behind him, Stiles snagged the box out of his hands. He made his way back towards the kitchen, loudly sniffing appreciatively the whole way.

After dropping the box on the stove top, Stiles reached up, without thinking, to grab a couple of plates. A sharp surprised cry ripped past his lips. He wrapped an arm around his ribs and leaned heavily against the counter. A moment later, John's warm hands landed gently on his shoulders.

Stiles turned, smiling as he tried to brush it all off. But he recognized that worried look in his dad's eyes. He'd seen it much too often lately. And he hated himself a little for putting it there. John reached out, catching Stiles by the chin as he tried to look away and he could barely resist the knee-jerk reaction to flinch away.

“Hey, do I need to take you to the hospital?”

Stiles shook his head.

“No, I'm fine.” His dad didn't look convinced. “Really, there's nothing a doctor could tell me or do for me. I just need a couple of Ibuprofen.”

John still didn't seem convinced, but he let it go. Effortlessly, he reached up into the cabinet, grabbing them both a plate. Stiles opened the pizza, moaning obscenely as the scent made his mouth water.

After a few slices found their way onto his dad's plate, Stiles pulled the box away and began to fill up his own. His dad scoffed, ruffling Stiles' short hair affectionately.

“Hey, I've got to take what I can now. By the time I get home from work tomorrow, you and Scott will have devoured the leftovers.”

And with that he left the kitchen, answering the siren's song of prime time television. He didn't see the look of sadness that blanked his son's face. But by the time he popped back into the kitchen, Stiles' face was back under control. A forced smile in place.

“By the way, you're grounded.”

At least he didn't have to pretend to smile anymore. Scooping a few more slices onto his plate, Stiles followed after his dad, protesting loudly the whole way.

His dad was gone again when Stiles woke up the next morning. It was a Sunday, so thankfully he didn't have to go back to school yet. But, grounded or not, there was something that he had to do.

His laptop had disappeared from his desk overnight. As did the Dish receiver downstairs. After a quick check, he confirmed that even the connector cables for all of the DVD players in the house were gone, no doubt locked up tight in the trunk of his dad's cruiser. He really hoped it didn't get too hot today.

He showered quickly. Got dressed at a much slower pace and ate a few more slices of pizza for breakfast. Then he was ready to go. Already back to lying and breaking the rules.

The keys for his Jeep had vanished from his keyring. But he had expected that. In the hallway, he paused outside the door to his dad’s office.

He wasn't afraid of Derek. Not anymore. But, until he was told otherwise, Gerard was still out there. And so was Peter. And they both scared the shit out of him.

The office wasn't locked. He paused inside the door, considering. Then he clenched his jaw, his eyes hardening with determination. Pushing the chair out of the way, Stiles dropped to his knees in front of the desk. The electronic code for the lock-box hadn't been changed overnight. Stiles' fingers punched in the six digit code quickly. It was easy to remember.

His mother's twenty-first birthday. The day his parents had met. They always claimed that it had been love at first drunk and disorderly.

The gun was gone.

In its place was a police issue Taser and a large can of pepper spray. Shrugging, Stiles took both and shut the lock-box behind him. If Gerard was still alive, it was unlikely a gun would do him any good anyway.

It'd do about as much damage as a Nerf gun.

But a Taser, that would come in pretty handy against a werewolf. Pepper spray too. Even if their eyes healed, it would sting like a bitch and blind them for at least a few seconds.

Stiles slipped into the garage, locking the connecting door into the house behind him. Squinting, he searched the dark corners all the while ignoring the dark silhouette of his mother's truck, tires flat after sitting parked in the same place for years.

He found his old bike stashed away beside his dad's dusty workbench. Brushing the cobwebs away, he wheeled it out the side door. It wouldn't be good for his dad or a deputy to do a drive by and see the garage door raised.

His Jeep wasn't even in the driveway and Stiles paused for a moment to admire the lengths his dad had gone to. Just what did he think he was gonna do? Hot-wire his own car? He'd never hurt his Baby like that!

Still shaking his head with disbelief, Stiles straddled his bike and pushed himself down the driveway. He hadn't actually ridden a bike since he had gotten his license. The tires were a little flat and the chain was a little rusty, but he thought it would make it to where he needed to go.

He wobbled down the street, peddling to gain moment. He tried to stand and winced as his ribs protested. Several times he had to put a foot down to keep himself from falling over.

Just like riding a bike, he thought mockingly. It's so easy.

Nearly an hour later, Stiles was mentally cursing whatever jackass had come up with that saying. He was wheezing for air as he walked his bike up the long driveway towards the charred Hale house. There was no way Scott could ever have done this without his wolf powers.

Dropping the bike Stiles fell to his knees and gently collapsed onto his back in the grass. For several minutes, he lay there panting. It only then occurred to him that it was possible that Derek hadn't come back here. Yes, the hunters had claimed that Derek and the others had gone to the Hale house last night. But before that Derek had been avoiding it. Stiles growled.

“Derek,” he said not bothering to raise his voice. If the wolf was here, he would hear him. Had already heard him. “I need to talk to you. Just ask a couple questions. Then just have a couple of hours to lay here and die.”

He heard footsteps, but didn't bother to look around. The sky was so blue today. The clouds were all fluffy and white. He could hear birds singing in the trees. But the songs were interrupted by his shocked scream as Peter Hale crouched down beside him and smiled.

Chapter Text

Stiles’ dreams weren’t always nightmares. There was one dream that had been recurring for awhile now. It was only half a dream really, built from a faded memory.

Stiles was either eight or nine. He sat next to his mother and her best friend on the old wooden bleachers beside the baseball field. Together the three of them waved cardboard signs, cheering on a player whose number had long been forgotten. It had been a boy, several years older than Stiles. When he stepped up to bat he waved to a blonde woman standing by herself against the fence on the far side of the field.

Stiles and his mother cheered when the boy hit the ball into the outfield. He took off running and for some reason Stiles thought that he should be flying. The boy looked like he was holding himself back. Rounding first the boy slid safely to second just as the baseman caught the ball.

Stiles’ mom said something to him that made him smile. She stood and walked towards the concession stands. When Peter Hale slid into her seat Stiles didn’t scream or try to run. Peter smiled at him, twilight glinting off of his bloody lips and teeth.

This was usually when Stiles woke up.

But there was no waking from real life.

“Oh shit,” yelled Stiles. He tried to crawl back away from the crouching werewolf but was stopped by the sharp pain in his ribs. Peter watched him, with an expression of mock concern. For a split second Stiles considered reaching for the taser in the pocket of his hoodie. But Peter’s clawed hands were resting on his knees, reminding Stiles just how vulnerable he had been that night on the lacrosse field.

For several moments the two watched each other. Stiles, looking for some sign that the werewolf was about to attack him and Peter, cataloguing the boy’s bruises and abrasions. Stiles wondered where Derek was. He wondered if Peter was skulking around the old house all alone. He wondered…

“Why are you still alive?”

As soon as the words passed his lips Stiles wanted to bite his tongue and mentally slapped himself. His lack of a brain-to-mouth filter was going to get him killed someday; he just hoped that day wasn’t today.

Peter smiled.

“It’s all thanks to your darling friend Lydia. When I bit her I left just enough of myself behind to...influence her a little towards my best intentions.”

Stiles’ eyes narrowed. So much of the redheads behavior over the last few weeks was beginning to make sense. But:

“Not what I meant,” Stiles said angrily. “Why hasn't Derek ripped your throat out? Again?!”

Peter looked offended. But the terrifying glee in his eyes spoiled the effect. Stiles sat up, slipping a hand into his hoodies pocket. Peter’s eyes followed his movement. Then he smiled.

“Derek has left my throat intact because he needs me.”

Stiles laughed, loudly, in the werewolf's face.

“Derek doesn't need you! He hates you. Your presence is probably like poison to him!”

Peter frowned. “No,” he said quietly. “Derek is going to need me soon enough. I think you know why.”

Stiles scoffed, he schooled his expression into casual dismissal and tried to calm his racing heart.

“For this ‘Alpha Pack’? Derek’s gonna need better help than a psychotic zombie.”

Peter’s lips curled upward, his eyes burning triumphantly. Stiles felt a weight drop into his stomach. Should he have kept that he was aware of that information to himself? Well, the cat was out of the bag now. Peter stood, straightening his clothes as he loomed over the boy on the ground.

“Who else does he have to help him? Scott?” Peter laughed. “Derek might never trust Scott again! He’s already down two Betas. He needs me.”

Stiles’ eyes narrowed. “Boyd and Erica didn't come back? Chris said that he let them go, didn't he?”

“No matter what he said we wanted to see for ourselves,” Peter said, his eyes darkening. “For once it seemed like an Argent was telling the truth. Lonely and Overcompensating left the house and headed back into the Preserve. A few miles in the scent ends.”

“It just ends,” Stiles repeated flatly. At Peter’s nod, he gestured violently with his hands. “It just ends?! It can’t just end. Even if they had been carried away there should have been some kind of scent left!”

Peter nodded, tapping a finger against his chin. “That’s what my nephew and the Cherub thought. They’re still out there scouring. But I think I've got an idea of what happened.”

“Then why aren't you sharing it with Derek?” Stiles yelled. “If he needs you then help him, unless you want your throat ripped out again.”

Peter smiled. “Why it almost sounds like you’re worried about me.”

Stiles glared, his voice venomous as he hissed. “It’s not you I’m worried about! You think this ‘Alpha Pack’ took Boyd and Erica, right? Why didn't you tell Derek?”

Peter shrugged, turning his eyes towards the shell of the Hale house.

“Before I had a chance to share my suspicions with my nephew, he sent me away.” Peter’s smile twisted into a grimace. “I think he believes I’ll try to corrupt his cherub if we spend enough time together.”

Stiles raised an eyebrow. “Would you?”

Peter snorted. “As if his ragtag pack of self esteem issues have anything to offer me.” He turned, glancing down at Stiles with a mirthful smirk. “Not when I could smell a much more interesting target for my attentions.”

Confusion coloring his features Stiles looked down at his T-Shirt, then his face turned red.

“Oh my God,” he exclaimed. “It’s not a bulls-eye! I'm not stupid enough to walk around with a target on my chest. It's...a band logo." If he searched he could probably find something.

Scoffing dismissively, Peter turned back towards the house. Stiles used the opportunity to scramble, as quickly as he could, to his feet. He was in enough pain, he didn't need to deal with Peter Hale looming over him.

“What are you doing here Stiles?” Peter’s voice floated over his shoulder as Stiles brushed dirt and grass off his jeans.

“Me? What am I doing here?” Stiles pointed a finger at himself when Peter glanced over his shoulder, eyebrow raised mockingly. “I needed to talk to Derek. But I can just talk to him later. Should probably get home anyway.”

He was halfway to his bike when Peter spoke again.

“What did Gerard say to you?”

Stiles turned, his hand slipping back into his pocket to grace the can of mace. But Peter had crossed the distance between them in seconds. He was now close enough that Stiles could feel the warm exhalation of the werewolf’s breath on his face.

Clawed fingers wrapped gently, yet still tightly, around Stiles’ wrist. Slowly, Peter pulled until the boys hand was free of his pocket. The werewolf’s eyebrows raised when he caught sight of the aerosol can.

“Smart choice, it wouldn't hurt for long but it would overpower our sense of smell for a short while.” He smirked and, with his free hand, Peter poked a clawed finger against the outline of the Taser in his pocket. “If that’s what I think it is you would have a pretty good one-two punch for temporarily taking down a werewolf.”

Stiles eyes narrowed. “You can thank my dad.” He pulled and Peter let him go. The teenager stumbled back a few steps, not taking his eyes off of the dangerous man in front of him. “He made sure to get me the good stuff.”

“Good enough for humans maybe,” said Peter with a smile. “It would inconvenience a werewolf. But only that.”

Stiles ducked his head. Every muscle in his body was tense. His index finger was twitching on the aerosol cans trigger. Oh, he wanted to inconvenience that bastard so much! But the way his luck ran he would end up missing. Then Peter would be able to claim self defense if anyone ever found his mangled corpse.

“What do you think would have happened if Gerard had been here instead of me?” Peter asked, taking a step forward. He tilted his head to get a better look at Stiles’ face. He smiled. “Did he figure it out? I bet that made him happy. Our little town is becoming quite the hot spot for rarities.” He took another step forward. “Did he say that he would turn you when he became an Alpha?”

Stiles raised his head, glaring defiantly.

“He might have mentioned something along those lines,” he said. Stiles stepped forward, deliberately moving into Peter’s space. Peter didn't move but his eyes were shining with amusement. “But first he asked me why you asked. He seemed pretty hung up on that idea and it’s been bugging me too.”

Stiles stopped, just short of touching the older man. He was shaking, his heart pounding. But self-preservation had never been his strong suit.

“You bit Scott and you bit Lydia. Why did I get a choice? What about being a ‘Spark’ kept you from just biting me?”

Stiles was panting now and covered in a cold sweat. What the hell was he thinking? Provoking Peter Hale was never a good idea. This wasn't going to end with his head being slammed into the trunk of a car. It was going to end with him in tiny pieces!

Smiling Peter leaned forward. He paused when Stiles flinched away and waited until the teenager had gotten his breath back. Then he got close to Stiles’ ear and whispered. “Don’t you know? With just a little kindling a spark can become a bonfire.”

He had had enough. Stiles jerked back, pressing the button on the aerosol can as he brought it up. But Peter had already moved. The bastard was laughing!

“What does that even mean?” Stiles screamed in frustration. “So you didn't bite me because you were afraid I’d burn you? Well, that worked out well for you in the end didn't it.”

Peter’s smile and laughter faded away quickly but he stayed out of the pepper sprays reach.
“Yes, I remember it didn't work out for me very well at all. Maybe I should have taken Gerard’s route. What did he do? Did he threaten your father?” He must have heard the fearful stutter of Stiles’ heart because his look became knowing. “But I didn't do that, did I Stiles. I never once threatened the person in the world that is most important to you.”

“No,” Stiles replied. “Not the most important. But you did threaten someone that I care very deeply for and you bit the other two!”

Peter shrugged before he turned to look at the house once more.

“If you are really curious about what a special little snowflake you are I would suggest Scott’s boss.” Peter frowned. “Alan Deaton, he didn't live here before the fire. But he is much more than just a veterinarian.”

A smile crossed Peter’s face and Stiles felt his heart stop or maybe it was breaking a little. Because this smile looked...real. And Stiles had a pretty good idea why. He closed his eyes and struggled to breathe. This was no time for a panic attack,

By the time he had gotten himself back under control, Peter was gone. He put away his pepper spray and stumbled the last couple of steps to his bike, wincing as he leaned over to pick it up from where he had dropped it on the ground. Carefully he swung his leg over the seat and used his feet to push himself towards the gravel road.

He paused halfway there. Peter had kept looking at the house. Stiles turned, as much as his bruised body allowed, to look at the house. Something was definitely different. Someone had taken black paint (he really hoped that that wasn't werewolf puke) and painted a symbol on the front door.

Stiles squinted against the sunlight, trying to get a better look without having to turn around. The symbol was a triskelion, like Derek had tattooed on his back. But where Derek’s tattoo was swirls and almost peaceful looking this symbol was sharp and angry. It was all straight lines and sharp angles. It made Stiles shudder, despite the fact that he didn't know what it meant.

Peter was gone. Derek wasn't here. There was no point for Stiles to stay here with the creepy symbol. With a feeling of dread filling his stomach Stiles set off on his long ride home.

He made it home before his dad. After hiding his bike back behind the workbench, he went inside and upstairs. Grabbing the pajamas he had been wearing the night before he took a quick shower. The hot water eased some of the pain and tension from his body and afterwards he stood in front of the fogged up mirror, staring at his bruised reflection.

The bruises still looked vicious and painfully but they didn't look any worse than they had the day before. After wrapping his ribs with fresh bandages he went back downstairs to help himself to some leftover pizza.

As the microwave nuked his leftovers Stiles circled the ground floor, checking all of the locks. He didn't bother to return the Taser or Pepper spray to the lock box. His dad had left it there for him to find so he intended to keep them.

After every lock had been checked and double checked he grabbed his pizza and headed back upstairs. Stiles dropped the plate on his desk and crouched down to pull out the second and third drawers on the right hand side. Taped to the bottom of the first drawer was the sections of the Argent's bestiary that had looked the most interesting to him. He had printed them off with the idea that he could teach himself ancient Latin and translate them all at the same time.

After twenty minutes of getting absolutely nowhere he was willing to admit to himself that it was probably a bad idea. He’d gotten no further than translating the titles of most of the sections he had printed out and none of them mention anything about ‘Sparks.’

He headed downstairs when the cruiser pulled into the driveway and sprawled across the living room couch as his dad unlocked the front door. John didn't say anything about the mail left in front of the door. He closed the door behind him and locked it and Stiles listened as his quick footsteps approached the living room. Just as he appeared around the corner Stiles sat up and dramatically wailed:

“Arg, I’m wasting away in this technological wasteland!”

The relief in his dads voice was apparent. “You’re grounded, that means technological wasteland until I say otherwise.”

“And how long will that be?” Stiles moaned.

“Until I say otherwise.” John replied.

Flopping back onto the couch Stiles blew a raspberry in his dads general direction. John’s laughter lingered as he made his way into the kitchen. From the sounds it appeared that he found the few slices of pizza that Stiles had generously left him and quickly popped them in the microwave. After the microwave was done he joined Stiles on the couch.

“So,” he asked around a mouthful of assorted vegetables, pepperoni, cheese and sausage. “Did you manage to talk to any of your people today?”

Stiles stared at his dad, torn between complementing his lack of manners and warning him not to eat like that in front of Mrs. McCall. In the end he simply decided to answer the question.

“How would I have managed that?” He replied. “I’m grounded, remember? Until you say otherwise? There was a distinct lack of communication devices after you kidnapped my cell phone and laptop.”

John raised an eyebrow, “We have a landline. Or did you think I took that too?”

Stiles gasped in mock horror. “Dad,” he said. “I am not a caveman!”

John rolled his eyes. “Excuse me for my lack of foresight.” He shrugged. “I’d planned on giving you your cell phone back tomorrow anyway. You've gotten at least twenty text messages from Scott by the way. He ended up calling the station when he couldn't get a hold of you.” John took another bite, side eyeing his son while he chewed.

“I was actually a little surprised that he hadn't seen you. Grounding has never kept you two apart before.”

Stiles stilled. How should he put this? ‘Scott and I aren't talking right now because he left me in the dark to be beaten up by a psycho’ was probably not the best answer. But he was sick of lying. So, a half truth it was!

“Scott and I are taking some time to ourselves for a little while. Or we’re supposed to be.” He corrected. “How many messages did you say he left?”

John shrugged, “I stopped checking after twenty.”

Stiles eyebrows shot up. “Did you read them!?!”

“It would be within my parental rights,” John replied. “But after I made the mistake of checking your browser history last year I've decided that you need to have your privacy.”

Stiles eyes widened in genuine horror as he thought of some of the things he had searched in the last year. “Oh my God, Why? Why would you do that? What did you see?”

John’s face was as red as the pizza sauce and he wasn't meeting his son's eyes.

“Let’s just say,” he finally replied. “That it was more information about how far your curiosity goes than I am comfortable knowing about.”

Oh, thought Stiles. So it was a sex thing. A hundred times more embarrassing but much less actually dangerous. His own face bright red he stood.

“And on that note, I make my exit.”

As he disappeared up the stairs John called after him. “You can tell me anything Stiles! Just not in graphic detail!”

Stiles wanted to smother himself. Why couldn't he have learned to delete his browser history so much earlier? He slipped inside his room, closing the door behind him and froze in absolute horror.

Derek Hale was sitting on his bed.

Derek Hale was sitting on his bed and looking extremely uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable mixed with a couple healthy helpings of embarrassment and rage.

It looked like he wouldn't have to smother himself after all.

“What are you doing here?” he hissed. “My dad is right downstairs, if you try to kill me he will hear you.”

“I’m not here to kill you,” Derek said, his own tone hushed but lacking none of his trademarked anger. “But I should, it would save you dying from your own stupidity!”

“What?” asked Stiles, disbelievingly. Surely Derek wasn't blaming him for what Gerard had done. He knew that in stressfull situations, those who could handle things would sometimes blame the victim. But he hadn't thought Derek capable of it. Unless the victim was himself. “What are you talking about?”

“You went to the house!” replied Derek with a menacing step forward. “Gerard is running loose, probably turning into who know what and it smells like you walked through the Preserve to the house!”

“I did not!” Stiles didn't know why he was bothering to argue about this. Derek just always brought out his mulish tendencies. When Derek raised a condescending brow Stiles scoffed. “I mean, I rode my bike.”

“That doesn't make it any less stupid Stiles!” Derek snapped.

“Shut up,” Stiles shot back. “I needed to talk to you okay? And there was no way I was going to be able to get to your filthy warehouse without my dad finding out. So I went with my second best guess and went to your house. But you weren't there.”

Stiles stopped himself and Derek’s glare intensified.

“But Peter was.”

The Alpha snarled. “Another reason you should have stayed away! I have no idea what my uncle is up too! How he’s even alive again-”

“Lydia.” Stiles interrupted. “He did something to Lydia.”

Derek’s sneered and took another step forward. “I figured that much when she showed up at my filthy warehouse with wolfsbane and knocked me out. It really hit home when I woke up at the house and she had dug up the rotting, burnt corpse under the floorboards.”

Stiles backed up until his back hit the door. Derek froze. Stiles mentally cursed himself. He wasn't afraid of Derek. He hadn't been afraid of Derek for a long time. But that imposing figure, stalking towards him was making it hard to breathe.

“Stiles,” Derek’s voice was softer, more gentle. “You shouldn't be going anywhere alone. It’s not safe. If you need to talk to me call me, I know that you have my number.”

“Dad took my cell phone,” Stiles mumbled as he awkwardly avoided looking Derek in the eye.

“You have a landline,” Derek replied.

Oh my God,” Stiles whined. “You've been here since that?” Stiles brushed past Derek and flopped onto his bed. “Well, you don’t have to worry about me anymore because I’m going to suffocate myself from the embarrassment.” When Derek didn't say anything to contradict him Stiles shoved his head underneath his pillow with a groan.

For a few minutes they let silence reign. Then with a sigh Derek walked over and sat down on the edge of the bed. Stiles twisted, glaring out from underneath his pillow but before he could complain Derek began to speak.

“When you saw Erica and Boyd, in the basement,” he paused, eyes focused on the computer across the room. “How were they?”

Stiles’ glare faded away and he sighed. There was no point in lying. Derek would know and assume the worst.

“Gerard had them strung up by their hands in the middle of the basement. There were wires attached to their chains and I’m pretty sure he was electrocuting them, keeping them from changing.” Stiles saw Derek swallow and nod. He’d been expecting nothing less. “They had been shot, with arrows. There were holes in their clothes but not too much blood so, I think they had healed before they were tied up.”

Stiles sat up and moved until he was sitting on the edge of the bed beside Derek. The Alpha was tense with a hint of blood red leaking into his iris’. As soon as Stiles was settled he nodded for him to continue.

“Gerard’s thugs, Marcus, pushed me down the stair when I got there. The lights weren't on so I couldn't see anything,” he paused. “But I could hear them. I turned the lights on and they were right there. They were scared, I hadn't seen Erica that scared since before the bite.”

Derek’s fingers were clawed, fisted tightly into balls probably to keep him from shredding Stiles’ comforter. Stiles appreciated his restraint.

“Gerard never really hurt them while I was there. He mostly just tossed insults their way.”

Derek’s body lost some of it’s tension. He turned his eyes, now completely Alpha red, on Stiles. The third person to really take in the multitude of his injuries. When Derek reached out, slowly and with clawless fingers, Stiles was still. His breathing was deep and even, he knew that Derek wouldn't hurt him.

Derek’s fingertips gently brushed his forearm and, when Stiles made no move to stop him, his warm hand was touching Stiles’ skin. It was odd, usually whenever Derek touched him it was to smash him against the nearest hard surface. Whenever he touched Derek it was usually in the course of saving their lives.

For a moment Derek’s hand merely was resting on his arm. Stiles wondered if the Alpha was trying to comfort him. Whoever had taught Derek to comfort people had seriously failed at their duty! But then his grip tightened slightly and the veins on the back of Derek’s hand turned black.

Stiles jerked away, the only thing stopping him from crying out loudly was the hand that Derek clapped over his mouth.

“Shut up,” Derek said. “I’m not hurting you. This will help.” He waited until Stiles stilled and asked.

“Are you going to be quiet?” When Stiles nodded he removed his hand.

“What was that?” Stiles asked immediately. “What were you doing.”

“That isn’t quiet,” Derek grumbled as he reached out and grabbed Stiles’ forearm. Again his veins turned back, running up his own forearm.

“But what are you doing?” Stiles asked anxiously. He was starting to feel a little odd. As if he’d gone to the hospital and been set up with a morphine drip. Was that what Derek was doing? “Are you drugging me, dude?” he questioned, a little sluggishly.

“No,” said Derek firmly. “I’m just taking away a little of the pain.”

“Well,” Stiles said as he flopped sideways onto his pillow, amazed by the lack of pain in his torso. “Keep it up because that feels fantastic. Oh wow, you need to tell Scott about this. This is something he needs to know how to do.” He blinked happily at his computer desk. “I think you’re gonna turn me into an addict dude.”

Derek’s frown deepened. “Scott knows how to do this,” he said. “He showed Isaac the other day. He’s been using it on the dogs at the clinic.”

Stiles was so relaxed that he couldn't rein in the whimper of betrayal before it slipped out of his mouth. Beside him on the bed Derek shifted, leaning over Stiles’ legs to sniff at him. He moved, pushing up the hem of his shirt to look at his poorly wrapped ribs. Stiles was so numbed by now that he could barely feel when Derek slid his fingers underneath the wraps and began pulling his pain again. But it did nothing to relieve the guilt churning in Stiles’ stomach.

“It was my fault you know,” he said. Derek glanced up to meet his eyes then looked back down to his injured ribs.

“This wasn't your fault Stiles.”

“Not this,” he corrected. “Scott, he would never have been in the woods that night if it wasn't for me.” He closed his eyes, unable to look at Derek but incapable of moving. “I was stupid and...insensitive, we never should have been out there.”

Shit...it had been Laura, Derek’s big sister. The only living family member he’d had left after the fire. Stiles had never really allowed himself to think about it before. But that had been Laura that they had been looking for that night.

Obviously they hadn't known that at the time. Stiles had just known that a woman had been found bisected in the woods. But, regardless, she was still someone’s family! For all he’d known she could have been someone’s mother!

If that had happened that to Stiles’ mom and someone so callously decided that it was entertaining, the most exciting thing to happen in their small town in years, he would have beaten them worse than Gerard had beaten him. He couldn't understand how Derek hadn't murdered him and Scott the first time he’d seen them trespassing on his property. Or after they had dug her up.

“I never apologized,” Stiles said, trying to ignore how his eyes were watering. “For going out to look for her that night, for digging her up and getting you arrested. It’s too late for it to mean anything but I am sorry.”

Stiles didn't look at Derek. Training his eyes on the carpet he could see Derek’s shadow moving. He could feel the freshly grown claws lightly scratching at his skin. Derek said nothing in reply. After a few minutes he stood and Stiles watched his feet as he left the way he had come in.

With a shaky sigh, Stiles pulled his legs onto the bed and crawled underneath the covers. He’d never let himself think about it before. His method of ignoring a problem until it went away wasn't going to work here. He’d been putting if off for months now, telling himself that Derek had brought it on himself by being a creeper.

But Stiles had never been a fan of blaming the victim and that’s what Derek, for the most part was. A victim of Kate and Gerard, a victim of Peter, and a victim of Scott and Stiles. He groaned, smashing his face into his pillow. The pain drain was amazing but if it made him this introspective every time it happened he’d probably be better off getting some pills from the hospital. Groaning, Stiles batted at the lamp on his nightstand until it went dark. No more thinking, he told himself. Tomorrow was Monday. Monday meant school and knowing his luck, his dad was going to determine that he was well enough to go.

Chapter Text

When the bell rang Monday morning, Stiles wondered why he hadn't fought harder to stay at home. By the end of third period it was official, Stiles was the only idiot to come to school after Friday’s final showdown.

It might have been worth it, if anyone had bothered to remember that he, Stiles, had been the one who scored the winning goal. But his one moment of glory had been upstaged by Jackson Whittemore supposedly dying on the field and then coming back to life later that night.

By lunch he had heard all the rumors. Jackson really was dead and the police department was covering it up. Jackson and Lydia had gotten back together and faked his death so that they could run away together. Jackson had gotten involved with drug dealers and they attacked him during the game to teach him a lesson.

He’d stopped listening soon after that. The last one being, at the same time, too close to the truth and still so wrong that it made him want to scream.

He sat, alone, at Boyd’s table and propped up his textbooks around him, as if they could shield him from his classmates. They were an ineffectual shield that didn't nothing to stop Danny from sitting down across from him.

“So, what really happened?”

Stiles raised an eyebrow as he peeked out at the other boy from his textbook fortress.

“What really happened, where? When?” He said. “You've gotta be a little more specific Danny Boy.”

Danny rolled his eyes as he took a quick sip from his water bottle.

“What really happened at the game. Friday night.” He replied. “There are so many rumors flying around and they keep getting more and more extravagant. But something happened that night and not just to Jackson. I imagine the odds of one player dying on the field the same moment another goes missing being a coincidence are fairly slim.”

Danny leaned forward, shoving Stiles’ biology book until it toppled over and took the rest of the fortress with it.

“Jackson is my best friend,” Danny said, his eyes narrowing. “But the last couple of months he hasn't been acting like himself. If I didn't know him as well as I do, I would consider taking the drug dealer rumor a little more seriously. But I know if Jackson ever got into that kind of trouble his dad would just throw money as whatever it was until the trouble went away.”

Stiles sat as far back on his bench as possible without falling off. Damn it, he shouldn't have to be dealing with this, he thought. Danny didn't even like him! If Jackson or Lydia had bothered to show up they could have dealt with these rumors themselves. But, then again, that was probably why they were ditching.

Well, if they were going to leave all of this up to Stiles…

“Alright,” he whispered, leaning forward conspiratorially. “The truth is...Jackson was attacked on the field by a Freddie Krueger wanna be. Then that night, Lydia snuck into the hospital and stole his corpse and brought him back to life with the power of true love.”

He’d managed to keep a straight face through the entire story, even when the truth slipped in there at the end. Danny sat back, frowning.

“You’re so full of shit Stilinski.”

“Yep,” said Stiles, with a grin. “I've got no freaking clue what happened to Jackson. Despite what you might believe coincidences do happen. I myself, wandered off the field in the dark and got lost in the woods.”

Danny smirked.

“Is that so?” He asked. “Then why were the Jefferson Heights guys all complaining on Facebook about how the Beacon Hills police chased down their bus and kept them for hours questioning them?”

Stiles’ grin faded. Danny leaned forward, a concerned look on his face. Stiles was almost fooled. But Danny wasn't his friend and he wasn't concerned with him.

“Stiles, what happened-”

“Danny,” Stiles cut him off. “What happened to me Friday night is, frankly, none of your business. If you want to find out what happened to Jackson then I would suggest that you ask Jackson.”

And with that, Stiles shoved his books back into his backpack and left the cafeteria. He’d reached the parking lot before he had even realized that he was planning on leaving. Climbing into the jeep, he tossed his backpack into the passenger seat. He locked the door and, just for a moment, rested his head against the steering wheel.

They would call his dad. Tell him that he’d skipped out at lunch but Stiles would cross that bridge when he came to it. With a sigh, he sat up and put the key into the ignition. Soon he was on the road. He thought about heading home and finishing off the last of the pizza. Danny had ambushed him before he’d gotten started on his lunch.

But a sign on the side of the road caught his eye and Stiles slammed on the breaks. Flipping on his turning signal Stiles checked and pulled off the road into the small parking lot of the Beacon Hills Animal Clinic.

For several minutes Stiles sat motionless in his car, staring at the familiar building. He usually avoided coming here, unless it involved a supernatural emergency. He glared at the ‘open’ sign hanging beside the door.

“The mountain ash barrier. That was your doing wasn't it? For a moment I'd thought that Alan… but no, he doesn't have the kind of power needed to create a barrier that large.”

“If you are really curious about what a special little snowflake you are I would suggest Scott’s boss.”

With a snarl Stiles threw himself from the vehicle before he could change his mind. Everything that everyone had been hinting at pointed to Deaton having the answers. The only problem would be getting the tight lipped man to share!

The bell above the door jingled loudly as he stepped inside, glaring at the stupidly impersonally painting of flowers.

“Stiles?”

Scott’s voice preceded him into the room. Stiles turns towards him and saw a bright smile stretch across his friends face.

“What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be in school?”

Stiles raised an eyebrow, “Dude, do I need to remind you that you’re skipping today too?”

“Oh,” Scott said as he glanced back into the one exam room the clinic had. “I was helping Isaac look for Boyd and Erica this morning and he mentioned that he was needing a new job…” Scott trailed off sheepishly as the other werewolf slunk into the front lobby. Stiles was mildly pleased to see that he was covered in a multitude of healing cat scratches.

“Cool,” said Stiles, his voice flat. “I’m actually here to see your boss.”

“Stiles,” came Deaton’s voice from his office. “I’d been wondering when I’d be seeing you again.” The veterinarian appeared in the doorway and beckoned. “Why don’t you step inside and we’ll talk in private?”

“Said the spider to the fly,” muttered Stiles under his breath prompting a dark chuckle from Isaac.

Deaton smiled at his two employees and said, “The cats aren't going to clean their litter boxes themselves.”

Stiles stepped into the office, ignoring the warm ball of irritation sitting in his throat. Again he glared at the pictures on the wall. He flopped into the chair in front of Deaton’s desk, wincing with regret when he was painfully reminded that he wasn't in the best of health. Deaton took his seat behind the desk, dark eyes carefully watching his visitor.

“So, I was recently asked about my circle of magical fairy dust from a couple of weeks ago. It was heavily implied to me that it was less of a parlor trick than I had been lead to believe.” Stiles whispered, his tone bordering on vicious. “Gerard Argent seemed to believe that it was some sort of a test.” Stiles glared. “So, what were you testing me for Dr. Deaton? You gonna initiate me into your witch-doctor vet club? Is that a thing now?”

Deaton shook his head.

“There’s no need to whisper Mr. Stilinski. These walls are very special. Even if Scott and Isaac were standing on the other side of the door with their ears pressed against it, they wouldn't be able to hear anything we are saying.”

“That’s not an answer,” Stiles said, leaning forward in his chair. “Is that why you sent us out there, depending on me, only to leave me thirty feet short?”

Deaton’s eyes widened slightly with surprise before his face snapped back into a neutral expression.

“I hadn't been aware that you were short. However it appears that my faith in you was not unfounded.” Deaton stood, turning to peruse the bookshelf behind his desk. “In short, yes. The mountain ash barrier is a test. The fact that you were able to hold a barrier that large and even close the ring when you were that short implies that you are stronger even than I had anticipated.”

Stiles stood, angrily, as Deaton found whatever book he had been looking for and turned back around.

“That’s great!” he said. “But what exactly is a ‘Spark’? Spark with a capital ‘S’! And what does any of this have to do with my mom?”

Deaton sat, placing the book on his desk and flipping it open to a marked page.

“A Spark,” he said. “Is a person with an atavism. Do you know what an atavism is Stiles?” He turned the book, which looked a lot like Stiles’ biology textbook, and pointed to a picture of a whale with hind legs.

Stiles nodded. “It’s basically the reemergence of an ancestral trait, right? Usually something that evolution has done away with?”

Deaton smiled thinly, “Sparks possess an ancestral trait for extreme magical power. They are extremely rare. They are only produced by certain bloodlines, many of which have died out.”

Swallowing Stiles sat back down.

“So,” he asked quietly. “My mother, was she a Spark?”

“No,” Deaton replied, shaking his head. “It is your mother’s bloodline that your ancestral traits come from but she was not a Spark. Like myself your mother had power but not nearly as much as you do.”

Now that he had his answer, Stiles wasn't sure what to do about it.

“Magical? Me...I’m magical?” He raised a disbelieving eyebrow. “So, because one of my ancestors was a Spark, I’m a Spark too?” He was almost expecting Scott and Isaac to pop through the door any moment, laughing at the great joke they’d convinced Deaton to be a part of. But even if they had been able to get Deaton to play along with a practical joke it wouldn't explain Gerard Argent or Peter Hale.

“No, a Spark is a descendant.” Deaton replied. “Your ancestor had a different title that was more appropriate at the time.”

Stiles frowned. “And that title was?”

“Your mother was an Arbiter for supernatural matters.” Stiles froze in his seat. So his mom had known. When he had learned who the Alpha was Stiles had wondered briefly. But he’d quickly put it out of his mind. But now....

“So, she was a sort of supernatural mediator? A judge for the things that go bump in the night in Beacon Hills?”

Deaton sighed. “Almost. Those people that have power usually know from a young age what they will do with their lives. Their power is a calling, sending them to where they are needed the most.”

Stiles frowned. “So, my mother was the Slayer?”

“No,” said Deaton impassively. “Your mother was the Arbiter who grew up knowing that she would move to this city and try to maintain the peace for a family of werewolves.”

The hot lump that had been residing in Stiles’ throat spread into his stomach and behind his eyes.

“So,” he said, clearing his throat. “You got ‘called’ to Beacon Hills to replace the veterinarian?”

“I was called to Beacon Hills to fill the void left behind when an Arbiter died years before her time. That fact that we were both veterinarians was probably coincidence.”

“Okay.” And that was enough emotional turmoil for today Stiles decided. “I should probably be getting home. The school’s probably called Dad and he’ll be on the warpath soon.” Stiles stood and blinked with confusion as Deaton thrust the book across his desk.

“Take this with you, it was written many years ago by the child of the last known Spark. It’s about Magical Theory, it should be a good foundation for you to start from.”

Stiles took the book with a skeptical look.

“And after I finish with my Hogwarts textbook?”

Deaton smiled. “Come back and we’ll start determining within what area your power lies.”

Nodding absently Stiles turned and made a break for the exit. He wasn't really sure what he had expected when he got here...but this certainly wasn't it. Eyeing the textbook doubtfully he opened the door and blinked as he came face to face with Scott.

Scott stumbled backwards, a hand coming up to brush awkwardly through his hair. He smiled and Stiles wanted nothing more than to punch him in his crooked jaw and hug him tightly. Stiles stepped out of the office, into the area behind the reception desk, and closed the door behind him.

“I’m still not ready yet,” he said and watched Scott’s face fall. Across the room, on the other side of the desk, Isaac glared. “But I do need to talk to you about something.” Eagerly Scott nodded. Stiles glared over his shoulder at Isaac. “In private?”

Scott looked behind him confused. “Isaac will be able to hear us where ever we go. Except, I guess, Deaton’s office.”

Stiles sighed. Best to just come out with it then.

“I’m going to tell my dad everything.”

He heard Isaac move before he saw him. The taller boy snarled as he launched himself across the room. Stiles flinched backwards, his hand reaching out instinctively to slam the tiny gate for the desk closed. It shouldn't have impeded the werewolf. Isaac clearly intended to jump cleanly over the desk. Instead he smacked head first into a barrier that blazed with a bright blue and tossed him across the room.

“Isaac!” Scott yelled, his voice full of shock and concern. “What they hell?”

Stiles stared at the gate in shock as the Beta climbed to his feet, his game face on. Behind him the door to Deaton’s office opened and the older man stepped out.

“He has no right!” Yelled Isaac, running for the desk again. “He’s going to put all of our life’s in danger to keep himself out of trouble!”

Stiles snapped.

“I’m telling my dad,” he yelled back. “Not holding a freaking press conference. And you don’t need me to put your life in danger, you did a bang up job of that by taking the bite in the first place!”

Isaac slammed into the barrier again and was, again, thrown back into the wall. Stiles stared at the desk. Scott moved and Stiles reached for him, began to call a warning but it was too late. Scott hit the barrier and rebounded into the wall just like Isaac.

“It’s mountain ash. The reception desk is made of mountain ash.” Stiles looked to Deaton for confirmation.

“Not just the desk,” the veterinarian replied. “All of the walls are lined with mountain ash. All someone has to do is close a door to complete a barrier. And since it’s built into the building, it doesn't require a large amount of power to maintain.”

Scott and Isaac’s faces were human again as they stared at the building around them in surprise. Stiles swallowed the lump in his throat as he looked up at the vet.

“Was that something that you added on when you bought they place?”

Deaton shook his head. “No. The mountain ash was laid into the walls and the buildings foundation during the originally construction around fourteen years ago.”

Scott’s eyes widened and he looked at Stiles in shock.

“Wait, Stiles...that means your mom…”

Clearing his throat loudly Stiles interrupted his friend.

“Dad needs to know, he pushing for answers Scott. He’s already got a pretty good idea who all is involved and is threatening to drag everyone into the station for questioning. But he’s not going to believe me without proof.” Stiles turned and met Scott’s eyes. “Will you-.”

“Anytime,” Scott said. “Whenever you need me, just call and I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

Stiles smiled, deliberately not thinking of water eight foot deep and the dead-weight of a Alpha in his arms. “Thanks.” He turned, to look at Isaac who stood glowering at him from the far wall. “My dad isn't a hunter Isaac. Unless you break the law he’s not going to come after you and if you do break the law, he’s not going to murder you. He’ll arrest you and send your ass to jail.” Stiles glanced at the clock. “Now I've gotta go or he’s probably going to send my ass to jail.”

He tried not to hesitate as he reached out to open the gate and break the barrier. He passed Isaac without a glance and held in his sigh of relief until he’d safely tucked himself inside his jeep. Stiles put Deaton’s book with his backpack, started the jeep, and quickly headed home.

Stiles was lucky enough to make it home before his dad. Once inside, Stiles locked the door behind him and, gingerly, stooped to pick the mail up off the floor in front of the door. He browsed through it quickly and left it in a neat pile for his dad on the kitchen table. Stiles microwaved the last of the leftover pizza and quickly headed upstairs to his room.

Tossing his backpack to the floor beside his computer desk, Stiles sat with his back against the headboard of his bed. As he chewed he stared at his ceiling and thought. Scott had said that he had been helping Isaac look for Erica and Boyd. Stiles frowned. If he’d told someone where they were as soon as Gerard let him go would they still have tried to leave?

Swallowing Stiles wiped his hands on his pants and grabbed his cell phone. He flipped through his contacts list until he found the listing for ‘Sourwolf’ After some quick mental deliberation Stiles composed a sort text message and sent it before he could second guess himself.

After all, Derek had pretty much given him permission to text him yesterday hadn’t he? Sure that had been before Stiles had reminded him was an insensitive ass he’d been. But hopefully the offer still stood.

any news on e&b? also, if haven’t yet, ask creeper uncle what he thinks

-stiles

He waited a few minutes before setting his phone aside and dragging Deaton’s book into his lap. Flipping through the pages Stiles wondered if there was some real-life school out there that taught magic as a subject. This book had vocabulary to memorize and problems to work out just like any of his other text books. Stiles smiled as he flipped to the table of contents. Had his mom read this book?

Stiles jumped when his phone began ringing on his nightstand.

I'm bulletproof, nothing to lose

Fire away, fire away

Ricochet, you take your aim

Fire away, fire away

He’d forgotten that, despite the fact that he’d never contacted him, he’d given Derek a personalized ringtone. Quickly he unlocked the screen to read Derek’s reply.

Nothing new yet. We’re going to expand the search grid tomorrow. I’ve already talked to Peter and his idea is very likely.

What’s the point of using punctuation for only half of your message?

-DH

Stiles couldn’t help it, he laughed. The situation was completely inappropriate: two of his classmates missing, probably kidnapped and he’d just found out that he fits in better with the creatures of the night than he’d previously believed. But the knowledge that Derek Hale, man of few words but many glares, was totally anal about grammar was hilarious.

b Careful out there. ur no use to anyone if you go missing too. keep an eye on uncle creeper, he’s not to b trusted

-stiles

A few moments later, he received:

Now you’re just doing it on purpose.

P.S. I’m well aware of that.

-DH

Smiling Stiles sat his phone aside and went back to his book. Maybe, he could learn something useful from this. Something that would help them find Erica and Boyd. Gerard has questioned why he hadn’t taken the bite when it would give him the strength to protect his dad. Stiles poured over the text in front of him. Maybe he’d had the power to protect his dad all along. Now he just had to figure out how to use it.

Chapter Text

According to the copyright page, the book on magical theory had originally been written in the sixteenth century. Over the years the book and been revised, updated, and, eventually, printed. The version Deaton had given Stiles was the 162nd edition, printed in 1992. From his reclined position on his bed, Stiles glanced to his computer desk. If he had had his laptop, he would have been tempted to check Amazon for an updated edition.

The text arrived when his dad was due to get home at any moment.

open your window stilinski

Stiles stared. Despite the number not being in his contact list, he recognized it. He frowned as he typed a quick response.

what do you want jackon?

-stiles

The sound of a phone ringing outside of his window startled him more than it should have. Stiles stood, crossing the short distance quickly. Jackson glared at him from the other side of the glass, uncomfortably crouched on a small section of roof. Stiles frowned at him.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” He asked. “My dad’s going to be home any minute!”

“Exactly,” hissed Jackson. “So let me inside so I can get this over with!”

Stiles shook his head as he replied.

“Nope, not gonna happen. You might think being a real wolf-boy now gets you an all access pass but you’d be wrong.”

“Let me in,” Jackson snarled. “Or I’m going to break the glass and come in anyway.”

Glaring Stiles leaned against the sill, checking the yard below.

“Are you alone?” he asked.

Jackson’s look was incredulous.

“Of course I’m alone you dumbass! I’m not going to drag Lydia here with me.”

Stiles sighed and forcibly suppressed his fear and hesitation. Jackson wasn't the Kanima anymore and Gerard was no longer controlling him. With a huff Stiles unlocked the window and slowly began to raise it. He grimaced, this wasn't doing his ribs any favors.

As soon as the opening was wide enough Jackson pushed his way into the room, shoulder checking Stiles as he passed. Stiles winced as he closed and locked the window.

“So what are you doing here?”

Jackson didn't reply right away, turning in a slow circle as he took in Stiles’ room.

“Lydia’s been here.” He said as he sniffed. “Derek too.”

“Stop!” Stiles squawked. “Don’t come in here and start sniffing! That is a major invasion of privacy!”

“Shut up Stilinski, I’m here to do you a favor!”

Blinking in confusion, Stiles paused and looked at the other boy. Despite the irritation in his voice, Jackson didn't look any more murderous than usual. He was attempting to appear at ease and uncaring, but Stiles could see the tips of his ears turning red with embarrassment. He sighed and asked.

“So how are you going to help me?”

Jackson nodded. “I had to go to the police station today and give my statement about what happened. I told them that it was supposed to be a prank. I was trying to get back at you for kidnapping me.”

Stiles stared. “So you’re going to take the fall for this? Because you know, this is going to get you community service at the least.”

“I know that,” Jackson snapped. “My parents have been bitching about it all day. The only thing that you need to know is that, before the game, I told you that something bad was going to happen and that all the evidence was going to point to you.”

“So,” Stiles said, seeing where this story was going. “When you collapsed on the field and ‘died’ I freaked out and ran? That’s pretty flimsy dude. My dad is never going to believe it.”

“Well, you’re dad doesn't need to believe it,” Jackson snipped. “You’re telling him the truth aren't you? The only people we need to believe us are everyone else.”

What the hell? Did word really travel that fast?

“Have you been talking to Isaac?” he asked.

Jackson snorted, “No, McCall came by after I’d given my statement. I’m not with Derek and I don’t plan to be.”

With a groan Stiles dropped his head into his hands. Why did all young werewolves have to be such hard headed assholes?

“Oh my God,” he said as he crossed back to his bed and collapsed on it. “None of this is ever going to end. You’re all going to butt heads and be at each other’s throats and eventually something is going to come along and wipe Beacon Hills off the face of the planet because we can’t work together!”

Stiles heard Jackson flop into his computer chair and he raised his head to glare. The new Beta glared back, eyes flashing an icy blue.

“You can’t seriously expect me to work with him,” Jackson said. “He might be a ‘born wolf’ or whatever but that doesn't mean that he knows what he’s doing.”

“Of course he doesn't know what he’s doing!” Exclaimed Stiles, tossing his hands in frustration. “Laura became the Alpha when their family died. The Hale family was huge! They probably never expected Derek to become an Alpha, so they probably never taught him how to be a good one. But, despite that, he’s trying!”

Jackson’s eyes narrowed.

“Laura? Laura Hale was the Alpha?” His tone was surprised. “I thought Peter…”

Stiles shook his head as Jackson’s words trailed off.

“Peter killed Laura to become the Alpha. Werewolves aren't a patriarchal society. I don’t know what it is that gives someone Alpha potential. Maybe it was just because Laura was a first born. All I know is that Peter and Derek didn't have it, until they killed to get it.”

Jackson was silent and Stiles sighed.

“Look, I’m not trying to endorse his methods or anything, because Derek has made a lot of very big mistakes. But he’s trying, at least, and things were getting a little bit better.” Stiles’ words stuttered to a halt. Things had gotten better because Scott had ‘joined’ Derek’s pack and Derek had trusted Scott. But Derek would probably never trust Scott ever again.

That was probably the root of Derek’s problem. Stiles would assume that to have a strong and stable pack, the Alpha and the Beta’s had to trust each other. But it didn't seem like Derek trusted anyone and now that he’d taken a gamble on Scott and lost, he probably felt justified.

Stiles sat up, tossing his legs over the edge of his bed as he pinched the bridge of his nose. Beacon Hills had more problems than ever, the only semi-friendly Alpha was probably distancing himself even further from what was left of his pack, and Stiles needed to figure out how he was going to tell his dad about all of this without giving the man a heart attack.

“I don’t trust him,” said Jackson as he raised his chin defensively. “And I don’t trust his pack. Especially now that Peter is back.”

Stiles groaned.

“Nobody trusts anybody anymore,” he said. “And in Peter’s case, that’s for the best. But I’m serious about us all getting wiped off the face of the earth if we don’t start working together.”

Derek was at the center of the web of mistrust. The Beta’s needed to trust him but for them to trust Derek, Derek needed to show some trust in them. Again Stiles groaned. It was a vicious cycle.

“I need to go,” said Jackson as he stood and canted his head like a dog. “You’re dad’s almost home.”

Stiles’ eyes narrowed. Jackson could differentiate his dad’s cruiser among the rest of the afternoon traffic? But then again, he’d been able to pick up the old scent of Lydia in Stiles’ room as well as the more recent scent of Derek.

“You’re picking that up really fast,” Stiles said. “Even after Scott learned that Allison was his anchor it took him awhile to really master his senses. He’s still working on scent.”

Jackson stilled his stalk towards the window. He looked back, with wide eyes, and Stiles was shocked to see vulnerability there.

“I think,” the other boy said, a little shakily. “It’s because the Kanima’s senses were sharper than this. I’m actually feeling a little disadvantaged.”

Stiles snorted, attempting to lighten the dark mood that had descended on his room.

“Well, try to remember what it was like for us mere-mortals before you go on about how werewolf senses suck.” He glanced at the book Deaton had given him and an idea struck him. “Are you going to see Lydia tonight?”

“She’s distracting my parents,” Jackson replied as he pulled his old persona on like an old coat. Stiles watched it happen. Between one moment and the next Jackson's vulnerability vanished to be replaced by the cocky attitude that Stiles hated. He smirked. “They think we’re getting...reacquainted.”

“Well,” said Stiles, as he tried to ignore the stabbing pain and frustration in his chest. “I have a favor I want to ask her.”

Stiles stood and crossed the room to his closet, grabbing his desk chair and dragging it behind him, even as Jackson protested. He shoved a pile of dirty clothes out of the doorway and positioned the chair carefully before he climbed onto it. He straightened up, holding onto the trim around the door to balance himself.

Raising his arms was difficult but, grimacing, Stiles forced them to go. He reached up, feeling the trim over the top of the door, until he found the hole that he had carved out years ago. Quickly, Stiles fished out the flash drive that he had copied the Argent’s complete bestiary onto and climbed back down off the chair.

Jackson was watching him with impatient and questioning eyes. He frowned but took the flash drive when Stiles thrust it at him. His dad’s cruiser was now close enough that even Stiles could hear it. As the two boys crossed back to the window, Stiles explained.

“That’s my copy of the Argent’s bestiary, yes I really mean bestiary. Ask Lydia if she could find and translate the section on Spark’s for me. Also,” Stiles watched as Jackson raised the window himself before crawling out, wavering. Even if he didn't tell Jackson, Lydia would undoubtedly find it. “There’s a pretty large section on werewolves in there that you might want to read. Just keep in mind that everything is biased from a hunter point of view.”

Jackson didn't acknowledge him before he dropped off of the roof into the darkness of the Stilinski’s back yard. Stiles watched him as he made his way to the fence and turned away when he saw the werewolf safely make it over.

A few minutes later, Stiles heard the front door open. He wavered between going back to his book and heading downstairs to face the music. The chance that the school hadn't called his dad to notify him that Stiles had ditched class halfway through the day was slim. The rumbling in his stomach decided for him.

He stopped by the bathroom on his way down the hall, checking that his bandages were still wrapped tight and that his t-shirt wasn't exposing anything that his dad hadn't already seen. Satisfied Stiles made his way downstairs. Sniffing appreciatively, he entered the kitchen to find his dad setting a pot on the stove top.

“Hey Dad, is that Mrs. McCall’s chicken noodle soup?” Stiles shuffled up to the pot, making grabby hands at the bowls his dad pulled out of the cabinet. “So, did she stop by the station on her way into work? I thought that she was still on the day shift?”

John surrendered a bowl, watching as Stiles proceeded to fill it to the brim and set it on the counter before turning to hunt through the cabinets for crackers. Triumphantly, Stiles stood, grinning as he brandishing two packages of saltines and, in turn, surrendered one to his dad as the older man passed him on his way to the living room. Stiles grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator, holding it from the cap with his teeth, and scooped up his bowl to follow.

His dad was sitting in his armchair, flipping through channels while he waited for his soup to cool. Stiles made himself comfortable on the couch, setting his bowl and water bottle on the coffee table. He ripped open the cracker package and proceeded to crumble several into his soup. John stopped channel flipping on an old episode of Friends and both Stilinski men dug into their meals.

They’d never really made too much of an effort to eat meals at a table after his mom had died. The kitchen table’s main purpose these days was the mail receptacle and bill paying station. Occasionally, John would risk bringing case files out of his office and spread them across the kitchen table. Stiles usually tried not to bother him when he did.

The kitchen had been his mom’s domain. She’d loved cooking, even if most of her meals ended up slightly burnt or tasting a little odd.

Stiles could remember seeing his dad work case files in the kitchen when he’d been a child. His mom would dart between the stove and the cabinets, adding new seasonings as inspiration struck her, then offering her husband a spoonful to taste.

People that had known his mother told Stiles all the time that he look so much like her. But his dramatic range of facial expressions had been inherited from his dad.

“You’re going to have to come by the station tomorrow so Tara can take your statement,” said John unexpectedly.

Stiles glanced up, wide eyed. “You’re charging me for ditching a couple classes?” As soon as the words passed his lips he winced. As if there wasn't some other reason that the deputy Sheriff would need to take his statement.

“You ditched class?” John asked, eyebrows rising.

Stiles frowned. “You mean, they didn't call you?” When John shook his head Stiles slumped back into the couch with a groan.

“Stiles, you can’t just skip in the middle of class.” John said with a sigh as he rubbed his eyes. “If you weren't up for going back to school you should I let me know. I would have called in and gotten you excused.”

“I thought I was going to be okay,” Stiles said honestly. The guilt of causing his dad more worry gnawed at him. “But everyone there was asking about Jackson and they all seemed to think that I’d know but I didn't know anything and it just...I just needed to leave.”

John nodded and Stiles occupied himself with his soup so he wouldn't have to see the disappointment on his dad’s face. They watched the sitcom antics, in near silence, for several minutes until John asked.

“So, are you any closer to letting me know what’s going on today?”

Stiles forced a smile.

“A little bit. I've got to get some visual aids together and decide on a time and a place. I’m planning a power point presentation but it’s a little hard to work on it right now.”

“Your laptop is in the car,” John said looking a little relieved. “You can have it back after dinner to work on your homework.”

Stiles was quick to take him on his word and was soon powering his laptop up at his desk. He logged on to his Facebook first, remembering Danny’s comment about the Jefferson Heights team comments. He scanned through his news feed and then poked around a few profiles and found nothing that could potentially cause him, or his dad, any problems.

He clicked the link for the 'Beacon Hills Insider' next. The Facebook community was always full of busy bodies poking into other peoples business. Stiles found a few posts about wild animals coming further into town then usual. He took a quick screenshot of some of the more involved discussions before logging off.

Then he opened his C drive and clicked on the Program Files folder. After going a few levels deeper Stiles clicked on a folder titled, ‘ClientW’. It wasn't a great hiding place for his research on the things that went bump in the night. But, while it wouldn't keep someone like Danny from finding it, it was perfect for holding his semi computer literate dad at bay.

Stiles created a new folder, titling it ‘Magical Humans’, then created three sub-folders inside: ‘Sparks’, ‘Arbiters’, and then, a group Deaton hadn't discussed with him, ‘Wardens’. Wheeling his chair towards his bed, Stiles grabbed Deaton’s book. He flipped it open to the glossary in the back as he crossed back to his computer and opened three new word documents. He had a lot of transcribing to do.

Titanium pulled him out of his work a few hours later. Stiles leaned back in his chair as he grabbed his cell phone with raised eyebrows. Derek was voluntarily texting him now?

Stay out of the woods. Peter and I have been finding signs of Gerard’s presence everywhere but we haven’t been able to pin him down. But he’s definitely turning.

-DH

Shivering, Stiles took a couple deep breaths and glanced up, out of habit, to check his window. No one was there. Definitely turning, Derek said. But turning into what?

thanks 4 the update. any news on e&b?

p.s. if you need any help let me know

-stiles

Stiles stood and crossed the room to collapse on his bed. There was just too much to deal with: Gerard, an Alpha Pack, and freaking Peter Hale. Stiles buried himself under his blankets and pillow, groaning quietly. Too many problems for the separated factions of their town to deal with. Too many things that could go wrong if information wasn't passed on. But he had no idea how to resolve any of the issues that kept them all at odds with each other. Stiles didn't even really know if he wanted to try. His phone altered him to a new message and he fished through the sea of blankets to find it.

Stay out of the woods Stiles, there isn't anything you can do. Isaac picked up Erica’s scent a little while ago but he and Scott lost it.

-DH

Stiles snorted. As if words would keep Stiles from doing anything. His dad had been trying and failing for years. Nothing less than zip-ties pulled tight enough to cut off circulation would keep him still. Not that his dad had tried that of course. But he and Scott had a Houdini phase a couple of years before. It had ended as well as anyone could imagine.

aye, aye o Alpha! my Alpha! btw, Jackson’s nose is pretty good. you might ASK him if he would help in the search

-stiles

An hour later, after receiving no reply, Stiles shut down his laptop and turned off the lights before crawling back under his covers. He wasn't disappointed, he told himself as he closed his eyes. The ache he felt was just his ribs.

Chapter Text

Once again, Stiles was the only person foolish enough to actually attend school. His dad had given him an out that morning, told Stiles that he could call in and have him excused. But it was the review week for finals, Stiles had stupidly replied.

Snorting ungraciously, Stiles grabbed his backpack and darted out of Harris’ classroom as soon as the bell rang. That man was a megalomaniac, thought Stiles angrily as he made his way towards the cafeteria. It was nearly impossible to actually learn anything in his class with the way he singled Stiles out. He wished that his dad had been able to get enough dirt on Harris to get him fired. The asshole shouldn't be teaching impressionable teenagers.

After buying his lunch, a limp chicken patty and some nearly inedible curly fries, Stiles sat down in the seat that Boyd had claimed for himself at the beginning of freshman year.

It was pretty neat, Stiles thought. From Boyd’s seat you could see the entire cafeteria. Stiles watched as the students filed through the lunch line and claimed their seats as the tables quickly filled up. But, Stiles realized as his table remained empty, sitting here alone while you watched everyone else eat with their friends was extremely lonely and isolating.

Almost as if he could read his thoughts, Danny dropped his lunch onto the table across from him.

“Be careful,” Stiles said with a self-deprecating smile. “If you keep showering me with attention like this, I might start to think you like me.”

“I do like you,” Danny said as he polished his, much healthier, apple. “Mostly, in small doses. You’re a funny guy Stiles, there aren't many people in this school, besides Jackson, who actively dislike you.”

“Take Boyd for example,” said Danny, tapping the table with a shrewd look in his eye. “He may not like you but he’s never actually spoken out against you either. Erica Reyes,” he said, watching Stiles’ reaction carefully. “She used to like you a lot. I don’t think you ever noticed though. And once you did notice, after she started taking her new medication, she began actively disliking you.”

Danny took a bite of his apple while Stiles fought to keep his expression bland. Why couldn't Danny leave well enough alone? It didn't involve him!

“I don’t have to guess how Isaac got involved, abused kids are usually easy targets. It’s you and McCall that throw me. Sure, you aren't exactly A plus citizens but, before this year, I would have never expected you to put your dad’s job at risk for a quick fix.”

Stiles’ mouth dropped open as his eyebrows shot up with shock.

“Danny, what-?”

But Danny angrily cut him off.

“I don’t know what he’s selling to you guys but tell your ‘Cousin Miguel’ to stay away from Jackson!”

Ah, thought Stiles. There it was. Danny’s stake in this game.

“No! I mean, he’s not pushing drugs! Derek’s a little weird but he’s not a drug pusher.”

Danny sat back in his chair, absently licking apple juice from his lips. He grinned, devilishly.

“So, we’re dropping the ‘Miguel’ facade?”

“Yes!” exclaimed Stiles, loudly enough that several people turned to stare. He glared at them before leaning over the table to whisper. “Okay, he’s not my cousin and he’s not selling drugs. Yes, it’s weird that all of his friends are teenagers but I’m working with the theory that he’s emotionally stunted at the age of sixteen. So, really, he fits right in.

Sighing heavily, Danny dropped propped his elbows onto the table and put his face in his hands.

“I’m sorry Stiles. I know this isn't any of my business but Jackson and Lydia are my best friends and the last couple of months, things have just been wrong.”

Stiles frowned.

“Yeah Danny, I’m sorry too. If it was Scott, I wouldn't stop kicking ass until I had answers.” He raised an eyebrow and smirked. “Of course, it would be Scott’s ass I was kicking.”

Danny glared.

“But I know that you know.”

Stiles’ smirk vanished as his face became deadly serious.

“But it’s not my secret to tell and I’m getting a little sick of people asking.”

Abruptly, Danny’s eyes shot to the bruise on Stiles’ cheek. It was still a vivid purple reminder of the ordeal he had gone through. Danny’s expression softened. Stiles wondered what the other boy believed had caused it.

“You’re right. I’m sorry. The next person I ask will be Jackson.

Stiles nodded, pleased. He was torn between wanting Jackson to tell Danny and wanting the nicer boy kept safe in the dark.

“It’s alright,” Stiles said. Then his face lit up with a mischievous grin. “Although, if you’d really like to make it up to me you could point me in the direction of where you got your fake ID. The ladies at Jungle keep texting to ask when they’re going to see me again and Dad took the ID that I had before.”

Danny laughed.

“Stiles, even if I were to get you a new ID, which as the only child of our county Sheriff sounds like a bad idea, the bouncer would never let you in. I'm still not sure how you got inside the first time.” Danny took another bite of his apple and hummed in consideration. “However, if you’re already to the point of hiding fugitives in your bedroom, sneaking into a club could be a step down from your usual illegal antics.”

“Exactly!” said Stiles, nodding enthusiastically. Danny stood, shaking his head as he picked up his tray. “It’s your duty as a semi law abiding citizen! Just let me know if you need any money!” Stiles called after him as he walked to his normal table.

It was like someone had flipped a switch. As soon as Danny left, as soon as Stiles was sitting at this table alone, it was like he was on an island. All around him people were eating and talking with their friends but at his table Stiles was completely isolated.

He remembered sitting here, what was just a few weeks before. At the time he had thought that Boyd was just trying to wring more money from him. But know he wondered if the other boy had been stalling to keep Stiles’ company, just for a little while longer. He shivered as he picked at his curly fries. In retrospect it was easy to see how Boyd had been drawn to Derek’s pack.

Economics was Stiles’ first class after lunch and the quickest route, that he always had taken, went right past the principal's office. Stiles forced himself to plant one foot in front of the other as he made his way down the hallway. It was ridiculous, he told himself, to be afraid of the office. Especially since he knew Gerard couldn't be in it! He’d only ever been in the office when Gerard was present once! There was no reason for his heart to be racing as he neared it.

Then he saw Deputy Sheriff Tara Graeme step out of the office and approach him and his near panic seemed justified.

“Stiles,” she said with a slight smile, as she drew near. “It’s good to see you. You’re going to swing by the station after school to give me your statement right?”

“Yeah,” said Stiles distractedly, peering over her shoulder to stare at the small horde of deputies searching Gerard’s office. “What’s going on in there?” He asked, in what should have been a nonchalant tone. He didn't quite manage.

Tara glanced behind her with a shrug.

“The school called to officially report him missing this morning. I guess he was supposed to come in Sunday to go over some new security procedures with the teachers but he never showed.” Tara turned back to Stiles, her eyes narrowed slightly. “The school was under the impression that he was living with his son and his family but when I went to talk to Chris Argent this morning he claimed that he’d kicked his father out last Friday.”

Tara shook her head in disgust. “Apparently Gerard had been saying some pretty terrible things to your friend Allison about her mother's death. He claimed they hadn't seen him since before the game Friday night. It seems like that’s the last time anyone saw him.”

Stiles eyebrows climbed his forehead in shock. He’d known that Chris had released Erica and Boyd and that he had gone to help Scott. But to throw his own father to the dogs? Stiles hadn't expected it of him. Tara frowned, her gaze narrowed in on his bruised face and the frown deepened.

“A lot of stuff going on since Friday. A teenager dying on the lacrosse field and another going missing? Now we’re getting reports of a missing principal and more missing students? There’s something not right with this school,” Tara said, shaking her head as she watched students pass through the hallway.

“When Principal Thomas resigned as quickly as he did and left there was some talk of foul play but…” Tara trailed off, glancing guiltily at Stiles as if she’d just realized that, despite how often he was in the station, he wasn't another officer.

“That is pretty unusual,” Stiles agreed, trying to keep his voice from shaking. His eyes were locked on the office across the hall but he wasn't really seeing it. His breath hitched and he swallowed. The chains holding Erica sparked when he touched them and burned his finger tips. Stiles took a deep breath and closed his eyes.

He was at school, surrounded by his peers and several people who worked for his dad. He wasn't trapped in the Argent’s basement. Erica and Boyd weren't beside him, in pain. Stiles needed to keep his shit together.

“They were trying to warn you. It's electrified.”

Gerard was behind him!

Stiles turned sharply, half expecting to see Gerard, descending the stairs into the basement. But he was at school. The only thing behind him was a long row of lockers. Blinking furiously, Stiles shook his head as if to clear his mind.

“Stiles,” said Tara behind him, her tone suspicious. “Are you all right?”

The bell rang and, mentally, Stiles cheered it’s good timing. He turned, shooting Tara a forced smile as he darted down the hallway, calling behind him.

“Yeah! I've got to get to class but I’ll be sure to stop by after school!”

The hallways were nearly empty as Stiles sprinted around a corner to fling himself through the door of Coach Finstock’s classroom.

“Stilinski!” bellowed Coach as soon as he was through the door.

Stiles winced, trying to slip past the teacher to get to his seat.

“Sorry Coach, got stopped by Deputy Graeme in the hallway.” He shrugged. “Won’t happen again.”

Finstock stopped him, curling an arm around his shoulder and pulling him into a close huddle. Stiles fought back the urge to shiver.

“Not important now Stilinski. What is important is that you keep doing whatever it was you were doing Friday night!” Coach tapped him lightly on the chest, causing his ribs to twinge. Stiles smiled weakly. “Cause let me tell you, we were sucking out there! Lahey taking out his own team and Jackson…” Finstock trailed off for a moment and Stiles slipped out from underneath his arm. Coaches eyes were bright and he eyed Stiles with a maniacal determination.

“You really managed to pull it together Stilinski and we are gonna need that. So you keep that up and maybe, maybe, you’ll make first line next season!” Smiling, Coach beckoned Stiles to lean closer and, hesitantly Stiles did. “You really did good kid. I’d have told you that night but you went and vanished on us. Where’d you go?”

“Oh,” said Stiles. his eyes widening slightly. “Um, I had a thing...that I had to take care of…”

He allowed himself to trail off ambiguously, which had been a tactic that worked with the coach in the past. But Finstock’s eyes were widening with realization, so probably not this time.

“Oh, oh,” Finstock said, then he whispered. “You mean, a thing, like we talked about before the game?” Awkwardly, he patted Stiles’ shoulder. “That’s okay Stilinski, adrenaline rush, it’s perfectly natural. Good that you took care of it elsewhere though. It’s illegal in public, apparently.”

Eyes widening in horror Stiles nodded, backing down the aisle of his classmates all the while praying that none of them had heard that exchange. Once he’d reached his desk; Stiles sat with a huff, dropped his head onto the desk, and covered it with his hands.

As soon as the final bell rang, Stiles was out of the doors and making a beeline for his jeep. School usually wasn't such a hassle for him, he thought. But usually he was helping Scott with something or watching Lydia or glaring at Jackson. Stiles didn't relax until he was inside the vehicle with the doors locked. Leaning his forehead on the steering wheel, he sighed. Being alone and bored sucked!

As soon as the parking lot had cleared out, Stiles started his jeep and headed for the Sheriff’s Department. He was torn. On one hand, he wasn't really excited to go along with the story that Lydia and Jackson had come up with. There were several questions he would have to answer that their scenario hadn't accounted for. Stiles had been able to come up with a few believable lies, that hopefully Tara would believe but none of it was going to reflect well on Stiles.

But getting all of this out of the way, on the other hand, would be something of a relief. Sure he still needed to talk to Scott and work out a good time for the big reveal to his dad but settling the issue of where he’d disappeared to with Tara would be a good start. Thinking about finally coming clean to his dad, he should probably give Derek a heads up. Just in case Isaac hadn't seen fit to pass on the news.

The department was fairly deserted. Stiles paused outside the glass doors, shivering from a whole different trauma. He hadn't been back here since Matt’s killing spree. He didn't understand how his dad could come back to this place everyday, where so many of his deputies had died. It made him think of Derek, how he’d stayed in the ruin of his house until the Argent’s had pretty much chased him out.

Stiles had always assumed that Derek was punishing himself. He didn't want to think that of his dad. He was the least at fault for what had happened.

Taking a deep, calming, breath Stiles pushed open the door and crossed the threshold. He saw no bodies as he approached the counter. There was no heavy, iron scent of blood in the air. The deputy on duty, a man around Stiles’ dad’s age who would occasionally let him help train the dogs, smiled warmly at him.

“Nice to see you Stiles! Go ahead on back. Tara’s waiting for you at her desk.”

Stiles gave the man a smile as he passed. He avoided looking at the floor, terrified that there would still be blood in the grout between the tiles. Tara stood from her desk as soon as he rounded the corner.

“Stiles,” she said with a smile as she collected a stack of paper work off of her desk. “I think you already know the way.”

Stiles nodded. The Beacon Hills Sheriff Department only had one interrogation room after all. He led the way there, pausing in the doorway to stare in the direction of the cells. Tara’s hand on his shoulder jolted him from his memory and Stiles realized he was shaking.

“I’m sorry Stiles,” said Tara as she squeezed his shoulder tightly. “I didn't think. Would you rather give your interview in your dads office?”

Stiles was tempted to say yes. His dad’s office was safe. Despite the fact that Matt had been there, had sat in that room and directed them around with a gun, nothing really horrible had happened in there. It was still a safe place. But Stiles shook his head.

“No,” he said, attempting to make the words sound firm. He wouldn't let this beat him. They were only memories after all. “No, I can do it here. This is fine.”

Despite her obvious hesitance, Tara nodded and opened the door. Stiles quickly made his way inside and took a seat at the table. Tara sat across from him and spread out her paperwork across the table.

“Alright Stiles,” she said in a calm voice. “I’d like you to tell me what happened last Friday night. Just go ahead and tell me and if I have any questions, I’ll wait until you’re done.”

Stiles nodded, took a deep breath, and began reciting the made up chain of events. As he talked Tara’s eyes narrowed, her smile became a little less genuine. Stiles knew that she could probably smell the lies. When he was done she began her questioning.

“Alright Stiles, you said that before the game Jackson Whittemore was verbally harassing you? Could you be a little more specific about that?”

“I guess,” said Stiles, trying to swallow around the lump in his throat. “As we were heading out the the field from the locker room, Jackson kinda approached me. He started saying things like, ‘you know, if anything were to happen to me it would be really bad for you’ and ‘wouldn't it suck if your dad lost his job, right after he got it back, because of you?’” Stiles shrugged. “Just stuff like that.”

"Ah,” Tara remarked as she made a couple of notes on her paperwork. “So, when Jackson went down at the end of the game and didn't get up, you said you panicked and ran? Why would you have thought it had anything to do with you Stiles? Lacrosse is a rough game and the field was dark. Anyone could have run into Jackson and just knocked him over.”

“Yeah,” said Stiles, chuckling slightly as he sat back in his chair and rubbed a hand over his hair. “I felt really stupid about it later but at the time all I could think about was Dad getting in trouble again, because of me. Everything that Jackson had said seemed to make sense. If wasn't until I tripped and went head over heels down that bluff that I starting reasoning with myself.”

Tara nodded before glancing up with him.

“In his own statement, your dad said that when you got home and he asked what had happened you initially claimed that some of the players from Jefferson Heights had roughed you up.”

“It was stupid,” said Stiles lowering his eyes to stare at the shiny surface of the table. “It was really stupid but I was scared and embarrassed. I had no idea about what had been going on with Jackson, at that point I’d convince myself that he’d just been knocked down and had taken awhile to get back up.”

“Stiles,” Tara said, raising an eyebrow. “You realize that with your past record of giving false statements does cast a negative light on any statements you might give in the future. Do you have any witnesses that saw you heading into the woods? Anyone that saw you walking home?”

Eyes still glued to the table Stiles shook his head. Tara’s disappointed sigh cut through him like a knife. He moved to stand but she spoke up quickly to stop him.

“Sorry Stiles, I've just got a few more questions.” Nodding Stiles settled back into his chair. “The lacrosse game was the last time anyone saw Gerard Argent. Did you see him at the game Stiles?”

He quickly tucked his hands underneath the table, knowing that he was starting to shake again. Stiles swallowed heavily and nodded, glancing up to meet Tara’s eyes. She looked determined and sure of herself. Confidant that she was on the right track to discovering something.

“Yeah, he was there. He actually gave the team a speech after Coach’s regular breach of Twenty First Century Fox’s copyrights. I was on the field most of the time but I caught a couple of glimpses of him during the first half of the game.”

“And you didn't see him after the game?” Tara didn't want to give this up. She’d tasted blood back at the school and like a shark, she was determined to follow it. “You haven’t seen him since?”

“Nope,” said Stiles. He really wanted this to be over now. His whole body felt cold, much too cold.

“What about Erica Reyes or Vernon Boyd? I’m aware that you’re classmates of theirs. Have you seen either of them since last Friday?”

He couldn't remember how it was you could tell if a person was lying. Was it looking down and to the left? Avoiding eye contact? Too strong eye contact? Or, could it be a combination? Stiles cursed unrealistic cop dramas for confusing him.

“Erica and Boyd,” he said, in a hopefully convincingly confused tone. “We aren't really friends but I noticed they hadn't been in school the last couple of days. Are they missing too?”

Nodding, Tara sighed. She made a few more notes and shuffled around her paperwork before looking up to meet Stiles’ eyes.

“Are you sure that you haven’t left any details out? That there isn't something more that you would like to tell me?”

That he would like to tell her?

“No,” he said with a smile. There was absolutely nothing more in the world that he wanted to tell her about this situation.

Shaking her head slightly, Tara stood.

“If that’s all then, you’re free to go Stiles. But your dad wants to see you in his office before you leave.”

Already halfway to the door Stiles nodded and called back over his shoulder.

“Thanks Tara!”

“That’s Deputy Graeme!” She called after him in an exasperated tone.

The door to his dad’s office was shut and Stiles knocked briefly before letting himself inside. John looked and smiled when he saw Stiles in the doorway.

“Hey,” he said brightly, gesturing for Stiles to take a seat in one of the chairs on the other side of his desk. “Did you get everything sorted with Tara?”

Stiles nodded as he settled into the comfortable chair.

“Yep. She said that you wanted to talk to me about something?”

John’s eyes took in his sons appearance carefully. Stiles fought the urge to sit up straight as his dad, clearly, fought the urge to ask if he’d been truthful with Tara. Biting the inside of his cheek, Stiles raised his eyebrows expectantly. John let the issue drop, raising slightly to dig his wallet out of his pocket.

“I brought the last of the soup with me to work so there’s nothing left at home to eat.” He fished a couple of bills out of his wallet and held them across the desk. “Would you mind stopping by the grocery store on your way home and stocking up on the essentials?”

Stiles clambered out of the chair with a grin and reached across the desk to take the money.

“Sure thing Pops-” He’d began to move but froze when John grabbed him by the wrist. Stiles flinched and his dad let go as if he’d been burned. Swallowing, Stiles glanced up to meet his father’s eyes. “Was there something in particular you wanted me to pick up for you?”

“No,” said John, shaking his head. His eyes were projecting a mixture of emotions: worry, fear, and a smidgen of anger. “Just head home as soon as you’re done shopping. I want you to be there when I get home.”

“Not a problem,” Stiles assured him as he straightened and began backing towards the door. “Just so you know, since you've put me in charge of the groceries I won’t be restocking your illicit stash of Oreo's. Love you!”

He dashed out the door, leaving his dad protesting feebly behind him. As he got back behind the wheel of his jeep Stiles considered hitting the grocery store and then heading straight home. He’d had a long day. He deserved to go home and rest. But with a sigh, he pulled out onto the street and turned towards the animal clinic instead.

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven

Stiles left the clinic with more questions than answers and a gallon zip-lock baggie full of mountain ash. Deaton had confirmed his belief that Arbiters functioned similarly to lawyers, whereas Wardens were more similar to cops. But he hadn't confirmed much else.

He put the key into the ignition, turning it with an irritated growl. Despite the situation Beacon Hills was in, which seemed to be it’s default setting lately, Deaton had still managed to dodge almost all of his questions about these elusive ancestors. Even the book hadn't had a straight answer!

The jeep roared out of the parking lot and Stiles quickly turned onto the road that would take him towards the grocery store. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, bobbing his head in time with the radio as he drove. Every so often his eyes would get drawn towards the bag of ash in his passenger seat. Shifting in his seat, Stiles huffed.

“Believe, Stiles,” he mimicked. “All it takes is belief!”

Nothing was that easy, Stiles thought. If people could change the world with nothing but belief it would be an extremely different place.

“Pigs can fly!” he declared suddenly, then he leaned forward to look expectantly out the windshield. “Hmm, guess I didn't believe enough.”

The parking lot of the grocery store was slowly emptying as Stiles pulled in. The twilight hours were quickly heralding in the darkness. Stiles couldn't wait until Spring, when the daylight lasted longer. He jumped out of the Jeep and after a bare moment of hesitation, Stiles reached across the seats to grab the bag of mountain ash and shove it into his pocket.

He didn't bother locking the jeep. He never kept anything inside that was worth stealing and no one in Beacon Hills was willing to try and steal the fairly recognizable jeep itself. The grocery stores automatic doors slid open as he approached and Stiles grabbed a cart as soon as he entered the store.

Quickly going over his mental list, Stiles made his way to the cereal aisle first. Grabbing the usual suspects for himself and his dad, his hand hovered over the cereal that Scott preferred. It was something that he would usually stock up on as well. Stiles swallowed and left it behind. Pushing the cart quickly down the aisle, he skipped the next couple items that were also Scott related and concentrated firmly on staples.

He was on his way to the produce department when he nearly crashed his cart into Chris Argent. For several seconds Stiles stood frozen, staring at the hunter. He didn't look well.

But then, thought Stiles. His wife had just died. She had killed herself rather than live as a werewolf. Something she was probably pressured into by his father. His father whose long term goal was to become a werewolf himself.

Swallowing, Stiles averted his eyes and caught sight of the travesty that was Chris Argent’s shopping.

“Oh my God,” he said before he was able to help himself. “I thought Scott said you could cook? What the hell are you doing?”

Chris’ eyes went wide. Glancing down into his cart, his face took on a guilty expression. Instead of food staples and ingredients for cooking, it looked as if he’d emptied the freezer section into his cart. Stiles had seen it before. After his mother’s death, he and his dad had lived on takeout and frozen dinners until Mrs. McCall had found out and put a stop to it.

“You can’t do that,” Stiles said. “Don’t stop cooking and don’t eat that crap. It’s horrible for you.”

He pushed his cart past the frozen hunter, willing his mouth to stay closed. The Argent’s didn't need his pity or his sympathies. They didn't deserve them, he told himself viciously.

But, after an unintended backwards glance at Chris’ face, Stiles reconsidered. At that moment, Chris Argent reminded him so much of his dad after his mother’s funeral that Stiles froze in his tracks. He swallowed, shifting nervously on his feet.

“It feels like the end of the world but you can’t let it be,” he said. “You can’t let what you've lost become more important than what you still have.”

Stiles didn't wait to find out how or if the other man would have responded. He made a break for the produce department. After that, Stiles finished his shopping in record time. He didn't linger to talk with his classmate that was working the register, even though she congratulated him on Friday’s game. Stiles was fairly certain they’d gone to school together their whole lives, that he had gone through her register before in the past, and that this was the first time she had ever spoken to him. He gave her an absent smile as he collected his groceries and left.

The parking lot was devoid of human life. Stiles couldn't help nervously glancing around himself as he hurried back to the jeep. It was eerie, he thought. Twilight had finally faded into true nighttime. Overhead, electricity was humming as the parking lots flood lights came on automatically.

It used to be normal.

Would he have thought this was eerie before, he wondered. Before that night looking for Laura?

Ever since he’d gotten his license, Stiles was no stranger to late night junk food runs. True, he’d usually had Scott with him for those but not always. Had Stiles ever considered being alone, in the nearly-dark, eerie?

No, he decided. He wouldn't have because to before!Stiles there was a distance. That famous, ‘it can’t happen to me’ belief.

But it had happened. So many horrible things had happened. And now, what had been normal was eerie.

A quiet scraping startled Stiles as he neared his jeep and he reached for his can of pepper spray. Only to remember that he had left it at home that morning, rather than risk blinding a classmate if they managed to startle him. As the sound grew louder, Stiles regretted that decision.

Stiles…

Unfortunately, that didn't appear to be his post traumatic stress talking.

Cold fear gripped Stiles tightly as he unceremoniously dropped the grocery bags and made a break for his jeep. For less than a second he considered screaming for help. But the parking lot was deserted and no one would hear him. More importantly, Derek had confirmed that Gerard was definitely turning. Stiles couldn't draw Joe Schmo civilian into that. It was possible that a werewolf could be within hearing distance but Stiles couldn't take that chance.

“Stiles, fix this…”

Stiles stumbled to an abrupt halt, freezing with shock. Gerard was leaning against the driver’s side door of his jeep, glaring at him furiously. He slapped a hand over his mouth, smothering the scream building in his throat. Gerard had indeed turned but Stiles couldn't determine into exactly what.

The old mans skin had taken a sickly, pale tinge and there were patches of shining scales on almost all of his visible skin. He had the Kanima’s eyes burning out from underneath a werewolf’s brow that matched his sharply pointed ears. His clothing was filthy and had torn to accommodate a heavy tail that dragged along the ground behind him. At some point in time, Gerard had lost or kicked off his shoes. Scales completely covered his feet and his toenails had transformed into talons.

Gerard lurched forward, his toenails clicking and loudly scraping against the pavement as he dragged his feet, and Stiles flailed free from his terror. As he stumbled backwards, crashing onto the asphalt, he quickly considered his defensive options. Like the pepper spray, the taser had been left at home that morning. None of his groceries surrounding him on the ground would be of any help. He couldn't get to his jeep and even if he could there was nothing inside to defend himself long enough to start it and drive away. He was alone. He was defenseless.

Poor Stiles,” his classmates would think. “Mauled to death in a parking lot.” This would break his dad, because he had asked him to go. Not to mention Scott...he didn't want to die while he was angry at Scott.

“Fix this,” snarled Gerard as black ooze spewed out of his mouth. “That damned mongrel's bite was no good! This isn't what was supposed to happen Stiles. Fix me!” A clawed hand swept out, raking loudly down the side of a parked Toyota. Gerard’s bright eyes were trained on Stiles, following his every twitch. “Fix me and I’ll let you live.”

Stiles’ shaking limbs propelled him into a sloppy crab walk backwards. His breaths were coming too quickly. He couldn't panic now, he needed to think! Stiles gritted his teeth together and got to his feet. Not again, he told himself. He wasn't going to let Gerard get the best of him again.

“This,” Stiles said, gesturing to Gerard. “None of this is something that Derek did. Sometimes the shape you take reflects the person that you are inside! You’re clearly a monster on the inside. Now your outside reflects that perfectly.”

Gerard’s tail lashed out and crashed into the already abused Toyota. Stiles winced as the car alarm began to blare loudly. But his reaction was nothing compared to Gerard’s. The monster flinched, clawed hands coming up quickly to cover his ears. Hissing viciously, Gerard turned to glare at the car. For a brief second, Stiles thought he might have a chance to escape.

Then Gerard jumped. Metal screeched as he landed on the hood of the Toyota and began shredding it with his claws. Stiles stood stock still, staring in shock as Gerard reached into the hole he had created and ripped the car’s battery out to silence the alarm. Then he turned back to Stiles.

“Not right,” he said, crawling off the car on all fours like the Kanima. “Not supposed to be this way. Strong, healthy, kill them all! Burn away the sickness, little Spark.”

Grandpa Crazy Face had clearly become more crazy face. Stiles watched in horrified awe as Gerard began clawing at the scales on his left arm. Then a realization struck him like a lightning bolt. He was a Spark, capable of creating barriers that could hold back creatures like Gerard...with mountain ash. Which he currently had a pocketful of!

As quickly as he dared, Stiles pulled the baggie out of his pocket. Gerard didn't seem to notice as he continued his vicious and bloody mutilation of his own arm, the skin healing nearly as quickly as he tore into it. Stiles closed his eyes as he opened the baggie. He tuned out the eerie parking lot, tuned out Gerard and thought back to the memories of the night at the rave. The memories of his belief and his excitement when he had seen what he’d done. He knew that he could do this.

After all, he’d done it before.

Gerard’s attention was recaptured as Stiles turned in a quick circle. The monster snarled and charged, only to be blasted backwards off the barrier of ash that Stiles had laid down.

Stiles felt like cheering. Gerard snarled and charged the barrier again. Like before he was repelled. Now that Stiles was safe, all he had to do was call Derek and all of this would be over. He reached into his pockets for his phone and felt his heart drop when he didn't find it. Then Stiles groaned, he'd tossed his phone onto the passenger seat and forgotten to grab it when he went into the clinic.

Gerard circled him angrily, testing the barrier every few steps. Stiles turned, never taking his eyes off of him.

“What will you do now Stiles? Derek and his pack are all in the woods tonight, searching for his traitorous Betas. If you screamed loudly enough, Scott might hear you but so would anyone else in the area. Do you think they would come to help you?” Gerard smirked and Stiles flinched. “Maybe they would just call the police. Does your father know where you are? Would he come himself?”

Flinching, Stiles took a step back. Gerard’s eyes snapped to his back foot and Stiles nearly cursed as he looked down himself. His foot was brushing against the ash line. Just a few more millimeters and he’d have either stepped over the line or broken it. Glancing back up, Stiles had force himself to keep still and slap a hand over his mouth to muffle a scream.

Gerard was back up on his legs and leaning against the barrier. Stiles, quivering uncontrollably, watched Gerard’s smoking fingers instead of his burning eyes.

“Or I could do nothing,” he forced himself to say. “Who’s to say Derek and his pack won’t smell that you've finally dragged your ass out of wherever you were hiding and come after you?”

Smiling maliciously, Gerard ducked his head, forcing Stiles to meet his eyes.

“I found it so odd that they couldn't find me. Even when the mongrel and his rabid uncle were practically on top of me. Then I realized, it was like they didn’t even know it was there. It was so important to the Hale pack that I tried to destroy it, years ago and neither of them could even see it. Scott or Isaac might have been able to see it, could probably have found me, but they’re more concerned with other matters.”

“They are all concerned with more important things than you Stiles.” Gerard hissed viciously. “None of them came for you before. I could have killed you so easily but I let you live remember? I won’t hurt you again Stiles. Not if you fix me.”

Claws scratched against the pavement as Gerard pressed himself against the barrier. Stiles balled his hands into fists, standing straighter and meeting Gerard’s eyes.

“There’s nothing to fix about you Gerard.” Stiles said, his voice growing stronger with conviction. “You wanted to kill the monsters. But the werewolves were never monsters until you and your daughter, made a monster of Peter Hale. This,” he said, gesturing to Gerard’s transformed body “is what your ambition and your hatred made you. This is what you've always been on the inside. The only real monster I've ever met.”

Screaming with incoherent rage, Gerard attacked the barrier viciously. Stiles knew he needed to think of a plan. He couldn't stay here all night. Even if the parking lot was practically deserted someone would come along eventually.

Gunshots shattered the silence, as if summoned by this thoughts, from behind him. Stiles could feel the bullets flying past him before they struck Gerard. For a moment Stiles felt dread pooling in the pit of his stomach. Had his dad sent a Deputy to follow him? Had his dad followed him himself?

But when he turned and caught sight of Chris Argent, reloading his desert eagle as he approached them, the dread bubbled into hope. Chris was an experienced hunter and had demonstrated in the recent past that, even if he wasn't on the werewolves side, he was done taking his dad’s shit.

“Christopher,” Gerard snarled as he took several steps back, covering the bleeding wounds in his shoulder and stomach. “What do you think you’re doing? I’m your Father!”

Chris’ glare was icy as he took in the scene. His eyes narrowed slightly when he caught sight of the mountain ash ring but he was careful to lift his feet and not disturb it when he stepped inside. He gestured for Stiles to move and the boy was more than happy to stand behind the man with the gun. Stiles stood back, giving Chris plenty of room to aim, and covered his ears.

“You’re the man who encouraged my wife to kill herself rather than become a werewolf.” Chris growled. “You've no right to call yourself a father. Stiles is right. You have always been a monster.”

With that Chris unloaded the magazine into the beast. Stiles pressed his hands harder over his ears and cursed. Someone was definitely going to call the police. Hell, they were practically in the center of town! Chris swore and Stiles quickly looked up to see what else had gone wrong. Eyes widening with shock, Stiles swore as well.

Chris had hit the mark with nearly every bullet. Stiles wasn't sure what caliber he was using but each entry wound was a gaping, bloody hole. Stiles could see the smoke and glow of wolfsbane but he could also see that Gerard’s body was expelling the bullets and healing itself.

“He’s part Kanima or something,” Stiles said over Chris’ shoulder. “Jackson once had his throat torn out and he healed within minutes.”

Chris’ shoulders stiffened and the hope bubbling in Stiles’ gut vanished. Well, that hadn't lasted long. Already they were back to square one. Only now, the police would definitely be en route soon.

Heaving a heavy sigh, Stiles ran his hands vigorously over his head. He needed to think, to come up for a solution to this problem. He was supposed to be the clever one after all!

“He’s not completely in control,” Chris said unexpectedly. Stiles glanced up and then followed his eyes to Gerard. He’d gone back to stalking the circle on all fours. Stiles eyebrows furrowed in confusion as he watched Gerard test the barrier every few steps. He started to question the behavior but Chris shook his head. Then slowly, reached into his pocket and withdrew a handful of change. When Gerard circled behind them Chris flung the coins towards the totaled Toyota.

They both watched with horrified fascination as Gerard twisted and, hissing, charged the already totaled car. The thick tail swung and caved in the cars clawed up side. Gerard crawled onto the mangled hood and began clawing at the cracked windshield. When the glass finally gave way and shattered, Gerard wormed his way into the cab.

Chris reached back, grabbing Stiles arm tightly as he dug a set of keys out of his pocket with his other hand. Stiles fought back a flinch, realizing that neither of them had time. This was the only chance they might have. It was unlikely that they would be able to distract Gerard so thoroughly a second time.

Pulling Stiles behind him, Chris turned and took a step outside of the ash barrier. But as a chorus of jubilant howls sounded in the distance, he changed his mind. Stepping back into the circle, his grip on Stiles arm tightened slightly. Stiles swallowed nervously. He wasn't an expert but none of those howls sounded like the Beacon Hills pack.

Gerard came tearing out of the totaled Toyota, further destroying Stiles’ final burgeoning hope of escape. For a moment he was torn between watching the direct threat and searching for what could either be a new threat looming or the cavalry riding in, then Chris’ grip on his arm became painful and made up his mind.

“Dude, you’re hurting me,” Stiles whispered, tugging his arm out of the older man’s hold. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Chris didn't answer, his eyes were evaluating his father. Stiles followed his gaze, watching as Gerard crawled off of the Toyota’s hood. There was something different, Stiles realized. No longer was he hissing threats or curses against Derek. No longer was he trying to coerce Stiles into helping him. Gerard was silent as he stalked stiffly towards them.

A second chorus of howls stilled him and Stiles watched as Gerard silently gnashed his teeth in frustration. He turned in the opposite direction of the howls and took a few steps forward before turning back to stare at Stiles and Chris. It was unnerving, Stiles thought. Chris had said that Gerard wasn't completely in control but right then it appeared to Stiles that there was no human thought in the drivers seat.

Inadvertently he thought back, months ago, to that day in the locker room when Scott had tried to kill him. He’d only gotten a brief glance at Scott’s eyes but instinctively he knew that he was looking at a mirror of them on Gerard.

"I've never seen him like this,” Chris murmured. Stiles turned and saw the sorrow on the other man’s face. “He’s always been in complete control, has always had a plan.” In an instant the sorrow vanished, replaced by a grim determination. “He’s acting on instinct. That will make it easier to hunt him down later.”

Instinct won out and Stiles turned to watch as Gerard’s scaly, disfigured body fled into the darkness towards the preserve. Stiles was shaking, his adrenaline had spiked but it was running out now. His breath was coming in jagged pants and he had a horrible feeling that he might just pass out.

“Okay, that’s enough danger and horror for tonight right?” Stiles asked, wheezing. He really needed to sit down but if he collapsed here, he’d never get back up on his own. “I mean, I figure that I've filled my quota for the next few years anyway right? Right?”

“I’m sorry to say that real life doesn't work that way Stiles,” Chris quipped back. He turned and finally looked at Stiles for the first time since the confrontation had began. His eyes quickly cataloged Stiles’ injuries, obviously looking for fresh blood or maybe bite marks. “Did he hurt you?”

Stiles couldn't resist the urge to snicker, probably sounding a little hysterical.

“Not anymore than he already had.”

Chris nodded and dug another set of spare clip from...somewhere. Stiles watched in a state of semi-detached fascination. Where did he keep them? It wasn't like he’d been wearing a gun belt and holster in the grocery store.

What kind of person armed themselves that much just to go grocery shopping? Outside of a zombie apocalypse scenario, he couldn't think of anyone other than an Argent or a Winchester. Stiles blinked, before turning to Chris with wide eyes.

“On a scale of one to ten, how likely is the zombie apocalypse scenario?”

“Not the time,” Chris growled, his eyes glaring across the parking lot. For a moment, Stiles was worried that someone from the police department had finally arrived. Then he turned and caught sight of the glowing red eyes approaching out of the darkness.

Eyes, plural.

Three sets to be exact.

Chapter Text

An Alpha pack. They had barely survived Peter and now they had to face an entire pack of wolves at least as strong as he had been. Hopefully not as crazy. But Stiles supposed that Gerard had the crazy on lock, so they were covered there.

Stiles shivered, watching the three figures approach out of the darkness. So far, no one had seen fit to explain to him just why this pack was coming. He doubted it was to welcome Derek into their ‘Red Eyes Only’ club.

How did an Alpha pack even work, he wondered. Was there an Alph-alpha and Beta-alpha’s? Were they a democracy?

Chris cocked his pistol as the three figures drew close enough that Stiles could make out their features. Two men and a woman.

One of the men was wearing sunglasses...at night time. He was either blind, which startled Stiles but seemed the more likely option by the cane he was holding, or a douchebag. The second man was tall and bulky with a shaved head, he sneered at Chris’ gun and then slowly licked his lips and grinned. Stiles shivered, he was eyeing them like Stiles’ Dad eyed at a well grilled steak.

The woman looked like she’d perfected a sort of half shift. Her fangs were out but not enough to alter the shape of her jawline. Her hands were clawed and she, like Gerard, had kicked off her shoes so that her toe claws could click on the pavement. She was the only one whose eyes were still glowing red.

“Well this is surprising,” said the blind wolf. “Just from your scent I never would have expected you to be an Arbiter. Does your Alpha know? I can’t imagine that he would approve of the company you’re keeping.”

“The abomination was here,” the hungry man said as soon as the blind man was quiet. He and the woman moved to circle the battered Toyota. He grinned at Stiles and Chris, showing off his own fangs. “You know what they say about ports and storms.”

“It doesn’t matter how bad the storm is,” the woman replied and Stiles was amazed that neither of them were slurring their words over the fangs they was sporting. “If you’re going to get slaughtered as soon as you get into the port you might as well weather the storm at sea. Unless,” she said with a sneer. “You slaughter everyone else in the port first.”

“Okay,” Stiles interjected loudly. “As fun as all of these analogies, or metaphors or whatever they are, are why don’t we cut to the chase?” Chris’ shoulders were shaking. Was he scared? Or was that just the physical signs of him restraining himself from strangling Stiles?

The blind man smiled as he stepped up to the circle of ash. The two other alpha’s flanked him. Stiles determined that the blind man must be the Alpha-alpha. But even as he began to speak in a highly amused tone, Stiles’ attention was drawn to the woman.

“Unfortunately, not really enough time for a chase tonight and nothing quite worthy of a good enough challenge.” The woman was drawing her claws along the barrier, tracing shapes or maybe symbols that lit up brightly. Stiles frowned. “But we do have a message for young Derek if the Arbiter would be so kind as to deliver it for us.”

“I’m not an Arbiter,” Stiles couldn’t help but answer as he watched the woman. The symbols looked almost familiar but he couldn’t grasp their meaning.

“Ah a young Warden then? Much like Kali used to be.”

“Well, Warden to Warden,” the woman said conspiratorially. “Don’t let yourself get too attached to Hunters. They might claim to have the same goals that we do but they’re just as likely to murder you some night.”

Then something extraordinarily terrible happened. Kali’s hand ceased its tracing and shoved through the barrier. Stiles could see her skin burning and smoking as he fell backwards into Chris, who braced him and managed to keep them both inside the circle. She was able to lightly drag her claws across his bruised cheek before the pain made her withdraw.

Chris twisted, pulling Stiles behind himself as he finally spoke up, speaking over Stiles frantic babbling.

“What is the message?”

“What the hell? How come she can do that? Werewolves aren’t supposed to be able to cross the line!”

The alpha’s voice lost all hints of amusement.

“We are challenging Alpha Hale for the rights to his territory. His Beta’s have until the next full moon to leave the territory unharmed. On the night of the next full moon Alpha Hale will answer my challenge and he will die” Behind his sunglasses his eyes began to glow again. It created an odd effect, the glow seemed larger than any of the other Alpha’s Stiles had seen. “The Argent family will not be allowed to flee, they will all die as recompense. This territory will then belong to the Alpha Pack.”

“That’s not a message,” Stiles retorted, with a snarl. “That’s a fucking ultimatum! What gives you the right to come here and try to take this territory-”

Chris silenced him with a hand over his mouth.

“Stiles will make sure your message will be relayed to the Alpha. If I surrender myself willingly will you allow my daughter to live?”

Stiles thrashed, trying to shout at Chris but he couldn’t free his mouth. That was the last thing Allison needed, he wanted to scream. If she was ever going to go back to the sweet person she’d been she needed her dad alive.

But the Alpha was shaking his head. He reached up and removed the sunglasses, revealing eye’s that even werewolf healing hadn’t been able to save. The whites of his eyes were bloodshot and his iris and pupils were a milky white. When he flashed his eyes at them his whole eye turned red.

“There will be no mercy, no quarter, given to any Argent.” The man’s face twisted into a hateful expression. Stiles thought that he could see the man’s face begin to shift but as quickly as it appeared, it was gone. The man’s face smoothed over, the hatred vanished.

“I will not allow your daughter to live and grow stronger. She will die with you and your father. It’s only a pity that your wife and your sister are already dead. I would have like to have killed the woman responsible for the Hale fire.”

Stiles started to speak but Chris’ hand tightened on his face, digging his fingers into the bruise on Stiles’ cheekbone. Unbidden, he flinched, closing his eyes and trying to pull away. Chris released him and stepped back as far as he could go while remaining inside the circle.

Shaking, Stiles took a deep breath. He tried to visualize his still lake. The woman’s laughter turned the water into rushing rapids again. Opening his eyes, Stiles glared at her.

“Be quick about taking our message to your Alpha little Warden,” said the Alpha-alpha. “If you need proof that we are more than capable of carrying out our threats, you should hurry home. We’ve left you a present.”

“Imagine our surprise when the strongest scent on our prey wasn’t their Alpha,” the woman said as she stepped forward. Again she raised her hand and Stiles was dismayed to see that it had healed completely. Slowly she resumed tracing symbols against the barriers with a claw. “Not their Alpha, not a Hunter. A human smell. I will admit it was a little confusing that such a weak Alpha would keep a human in his Pack.”

Stiles almost told her that he wasn’t part of Derek’s pack. But something stopped him.

What really defined Pack? Was it protecting each other? Caring about each other? Scott had said that Derek wasn’t his Alpha and Stiles had always considered himself part of Scott’s Pack.

Scotty had been his best friend for as long as he could remember. When Stiles’ Mom had died, Scott had been there for him. After Scott’s Dad had left, Stiles had helped him in anyway that he could. But after Scott had become a werewolf, everything made more sense if Stiles was part of Derek’s pack.

Derek had been there to try and protect him so many times. Stiles had tried to protect him as well. Was that enough? Did that make them Pack?

“It makes more sense now,” the woman continued, her claw still drawing against the barrier wall. Sanskrit Stiles thought, he’d seen pictures of some sanskrit writing in Deaton’s text book. She grinned as her fingers broke through the barrier. “You should stick around little Warden. We could find a use for you.”

Her two companions were leaving, following the path that Gerard had taken towards the preserve. She waved her charred fingers at him before stepping away from the barrier and followed them.

As soon as they were out of sight Chris stepped out of the barrier.

“No,” Stiles cried, grabbing him by the arm and trying to pull him back into the circle. “What if they come back?”

“They won’t,” Chris said, shrugging out of Stiles’ hold easily. He turned and quickly began gathering up Stiles’ groceries. “They are hunting Gerard, though I doubt they know it’s him. They won’t come back but the police will probably be showing up soon.”

Stiles’ eyes widened. It would be very bad if one of his dad’s deputies caught him here.

“Their response time is significantly down but it’s been long enough that, if someone called to report my shots, they should have someone on scene soon.”

Stiles took the groceries when Chris shoved them at him and pushed him towards the Jeep. He quickly pulled open the passenger door and dropped the bags on the floor boards. Grabbing his cell phone, he was relieved to see that he hadn’t missed any calls. He slammed the door and started to cross over to the driver’s side door when he saw the mountain ash circle on the ground.

Chris had his phone out and was walking back towards the store entrance. As he walked, Stiles could hear him.

“Yes, this is Chris Argent. I’d like to report a vandalism outside of the grocery store on Fifth Avenue. Yes, I discharged my carry weapon to scare away the vandals.”

Stiles grabbed the ziplock baggie that he had dropped and tried to brush the ash back into the bag. It was taking too long, he thought anxiously. He closed his eyes and imagined the bag filling as he blindly swept around the circle. When he opened his eyes, there was no ash remaining on the ground.

Despite the lingering fear, Stiles could help but smile.

“All it takes is belief huh?”

Hearing the faint approach of sirens, Stiles jumped to his feet and quickly climbed into his Jeep. He left the parking lot through the back exit, the opposite direction from the approaching siren.

Stiles made it home just as the landline started ringing off the hook. He dropped the groceries, anything that was going to break probably already had, and ran to the phone.

“Stilinski residence,” he said as he grabbed the phone from the hook.

“What grocery store did you go to,” his dad asked without preamble.

Stiles winced. The grocery store might not have had camera’s in the parking lot but they definitely had some inside the building.

“The one of Fifth Avenue. I know they don’t have those cookies that you like but I wasn’t going to buy those cookies for you anyway.”

“Did you notice any suspicious in the parking lot?” John asked.

“What do you mean suspicious?” Stiles asked. “It’s a parking lot, there’s always someone suspicious there. It’s like a rule. After dusk, there’s always someone creepy hanging out in a parking lot.”

His dad was silent for a long time. Stiles fidgeted, looking around the kitchen nervously. The Alpha’s had said they’d left him a gift at home. Finally his dad sighed, a heavy sound that speared Stiles through the chest.

“Don’t leave the house again tonight,” John said before hanging up.

Stiles hung up the landline and pulled his cell phone out of his pocket. He unlocked it quickly and opened his contact list. The Alpha’s had left him a present and there hadn’t been anything in the front yard. Neither of the doors were unlocked. He hit the Sourwolf contact and the little green phone icon. As the phone began to ring he climbed the stairs towards his room.

He was shaking and not just with fear. His body had been filled with adrenaline from the first moment he’d seen Gerard in his twisted new form, but it was wearing off now and leaving him feeling weak. Stiles approached the door to his bedroom warily. He couldn’t remember if he had closed it or left it open when he had left that morning.

“Stiles!” Derek’s voice was loud in his ear. He hadn’t even realized that the call had connected. “What’s going on?”

“I need to talk to you,” Stiles whispered as he turned the doorknob. “The Alpha Pack paid me a visit at the grocery store.” He paused to listen to Derek growl. “They said they left a gift at my house.”

“Get out of the house Stiles,” Derek said. Stiles could hear the Camaro’s engine roaring in the background. “Go to your dad at the police station.”

“They aren’t here,” Stiles said as he stepped into his room. Their gift wasn’t here either. The mess of his room looked untouched. “They went off chasing the abomination that is Gerard. Oh, I forgot to mention that he paid me a visit too.”

Derek’s growls turned into outright snarls. Stiles ignored him. If they hadn’t broken into the house, the only other place to leave their gift would be...Stiles looked out his window into the back yard. Despite the darkness he could see two bodies, perfectly framed by the window. He swallowed hard.

“It’s Erica and Boyd,” he told Derek, his voice cracking. “They left Erica and Boyd in my backyard.”

The call cut off abruptly and Stiles shoved the phone into his back pocket. As he turned and rushed out of his room, Stiles wondered if Derek had destroyed his phone. He descended the stairs faster than he should’ve with his injuries and spiraling energy levels. He wasn’t really surprised when he slipped. Only his tight grip on the banister kept him from falling head over heels.

Stiles forced himself to slow down. It wouldn’t do Erica and Boyd any good if fell and punctured a lung on the stairs.

He made it to the kitchen without any more accidents and paused at the door. He swallowed and reached for the door knob. Neither of them had looked like they were moving from his window. Were they dead? Stiles hadn’t considered them friends but that didn’t mean that he would be okay with finding their dead bodies.

But he couldn’t let Derek be the one to find them either. Derek had found enough dead bodies of the people that he cared about in his lifetime.

Stiles opened the door and onto the back deck. His eyes were drawn to Erica and Boyd’s bodies. Had they moved at all since he’d last seen them? He couldn’t tell, the angle was too different.

He approached them slowly. It didn’t look like they were breathing, which was bad. But what was worse was the blood. Both were drenched in blood. Stiles fought not to gag as he got closer.

An engine roared in the distance. It grew louder and louder, coming closer and closer. Stiles clenched his jaw and forced himself to close the distance between himself and his unmoving classmates. He wouldn’t leave this for Derek. The Alpha’s had left them for him, because he had been with them last, this was his grisly responsibility.

Carefully, he knelt by Erica’s body. He heard the Camaro’s engine cut out and Derek calling his name from the front of the house. Reaching out, Stiles brushed Erica’s blood matted hair away from her throat. It was in one piece he was relieved to see. He put his fingers on her carotid artery and held his breath.

Derek came rushing through the back door of the house like a furious tempest. Stiles ignored him, reaching out to check Boyd. Derek froze and the scent of his Beta’s reached him. Stiles looked up and saw the red fading from his eyes.

He wasn’t looking at Erica or Boyd. He was watching Stiles, his eyes blank. Derek had given up all hope of finding them alive. Then his eyes widened with shock. His ears had heard the faint sign that Stiles’ fingers could feel.

“They’re alive,” Stiles confirmed.