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A Second Chance

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Beacon Hills is descending into a blanket of eerie darkness as the sun sets over the horizon. Screams are echoing in Stiles’ ears and bloodied corpses flash in his mind as he presses down harder on the accelerator. Warm air is whipping in through his open window temporarily battling the silence. His mind is traveling a million miles a second. He doesn’t know how to stop the people he loves from dying. He doesn’t know how to combat a force that they can’t see to fight.

Stiles remembers the last time they were all together. A week prior they had all convened in the expanse of the McCall living room with snacks and a stack of movies. The thought of death pushed to the side lines. Stiles was sprawled over the couch with his feet propped in Derek’s lap. Scott and Kira were sandwiched together in the armchair, making noises that caused Stiles and Derek throw popcorn at them. Lydia, Parrish, and Liam were lounging in the floor in front of the couch fighting over which movie to watch first. Everything was normal for once. Being with pack was safe and Stiles had reveled in it. Now, that moment of peace was long in the past.

Things had been so utterly calm since Mexico. Stiles should have been prepared for the other shoe to drop but he wasn’t. No one was. Across town an acceptance letter to Harvard collects dust on Lydia’s desk. Kira’s suitcase sits half packed upon her bed, a UCLA t-shirt draped over the edge. Then there was Liam. Liam, who’s blood is still splattered over Scott and Derek’s faces.

Scott sits ridged in the passenger seat as they speed through red lights. Horns are blaring and vehicles are swerving out of their path as they speed down the highway. The Sheriff and Parrish are leading the way in the cruiser—sirens on, lights flashing—but even with the escort Stiles doubts they will make it to Deaton’s in time. Their last hope for survival is clutched in the pages of an ancient grimoire from the Hale vault. Stiles had been the one to find the book, but Deaton had managed to uncover an ancient rune that just might tip the scales of a certain ritual into a way out. The plan was a long shot, but they were out of time.

The ritual in itself is simple in preparation, but Deaton says it will take belief and ‘a need so deep that death must be a promise on the horizon.’ Stiles thinks that that part is definitely covered. The swirls and harsh lines of the rune Deaton had shown him had made Stiles’ eyes go funny, but he had memorized it anyway—they all had. If some ancient symbol carved into their bodies would give them a second chance at this villain he was willing to do anything.

Stiles rolls up his window as the ghostly wails of a Banshee rip through the chaos of the night. He catches Derek’s luminescent blue eyes looking deep into the darkness, searching for any sign of a threat as he clutches the book in his lap. Their eyes meet for a moment and Stiles knows Derek doesn’t see a way out. The fear is bleeding out onto his usually blank expression and he looks broken. Stiles drops his gaze as he whips the jeep into the back parking lot next to his father's cruiser.

They can see Deaton fumbling in the alley for his keys. Derek thrusts the book into Stiles’ chest when they get out of the jeep. His long fingers, still stained with the blood of his pack, wrapped around the worn leather. Derek catches his gaze again. He is looking at Stiles like he is saying good-bye. Stiles wants to say something, tell him him this isn't the end, but he force the words pass his chapped lips. He settles for shaking his head firmly. When he steps closer the book is the only barrier between them.

Derek is a positive constant in Stiles’ life now. Malia’s denim jacket still hangs on his computer chair. Her scent still faintly clings to the unclaimed fabric even though she left months ago with Breaden in search of the Desert Wolf. Derek sits in that chair now. It is Derek’s scent that clings to the walls of his room and the fabric of his couch. There is a harmony between them when they set leisurely in his room, perfectly content with the silence. He can remember the first night Derek sought out his company.

A couple of weeks after Mexico Stiles rummaged through his kitchen in search of sustenance for his video gaming marathon. The plan had been to spend the night pigging out on pizza and beating Scott's stupid werewolf ass in every game possible, but as usual his best bro had dumped him in favor of his foxy lady. No big surprise there . Stiles understood that girls would always out rank him when it came to Scott’s free time.

He managed to dig out a hidden bag of potato chips and a couple cans of coke he had stashed away from his dad. He climbs the stairs two at a time before stumbling into his room to find Derek sitting in his room fully shifted. The black wolf had his head cocked to the side in obvious amusement as Stiles jumped almost a full foot in the air.

“Oh my God, Derek! I thought you might be louder as a wolf, but noooo. You’re like a freaking ninja wolf. Holy hell, you scared the shit outta me!” Stiles sat his spoils on the desk and Derek barked at him.

The sound was sharp and demanding and Stiles idly wondered how he understands Derek’s wolf language so well. He chalked it up to all the years they have known each other. Derek waited silently behind him while Stiles poked around in his dresser drawers to find Derek something to wear. He settled on a pair of his oversized pajama pants and a t-shirt he hadn't worn in a while. He tossed them at Derek’s paws and turned to wait while he shifted.

“Thanks,” Derek grumbled.

Stiles turned to face him with a grin. The pants fit him perfectly, but the shirt was more than a little tight, but Stiles wasn't going to point that out. “No problem, wolfy. What brings you to my humble abode?”

Derek's shoulders tensed in a way that Stiles had come to recognize as defensive. “I was in the neighborhood.”

Stiles rolled his eyes. He didn't need werewolf senses to know that was a complete and utter lie. Derek turned his head to gaze back out the window. Stiles tossed a coke at him, knowing the wolf would hear it as it whistles through the air. Derek caught it in mid air a grin creeping onto his face as he looked down at the bright red aluminum. Stiles flopped down on his bed and patted the space next to him. Derek only sighed before he sat down in the offered space.

“You should know by now that you can't lie to me about wolfy things. I'm sort of an expert now. Wolves don’t like being alone and in the midst of Breaden being gone with Malia to search for the Desert Wolf it is just you and that big ol’ empty loft. Scott is always with Kira or Liam and Parrish is with Lydia. That leaves me. Despite being a last resort, I’m happy to satisfy your wolfy need for pack time.”

Derek shook his head, an unbelieving smile splashed across on his face as he snorted in laughter. Stiles cocked his head in confusion.

“Do you honestly believe that you are my last choice?” he asked.

Stiles frowns. “Well, yeah. I sort of live to annoy you. You said that to me once.”

“That was around the time you threatened to leave me for dead. You are the only one I would voluntarily seek out for company at this point. Now shut up.”

Stiles smiles at the memory. After that day the two of them spent most of their time together. Scott was jealous at first, but they still had bro time when he wasn’t looking after Liam or cavorting around with Kira. Derek and him just clicked. Sometimes Derek would just show up in his wolf form and sleep curled up on the couch or Stiles’ bed. The first time that it happened was Laura’s birthday. Stiles didn’t mind. He welcomed it more than anything when Derek had nosed him awake from a nightmare a couple weeks after. He had been grateful when Derek had only huffed and nosed at each one of Stiles’ fingers, silently counting each one with a slap of his tail against the tangled sheets.

Stiles wishes that this was only one of his nightmares.

“Do you think Peter is behind this?” Derek asks, his eyes tracing over their overlapped fingers that still grip the book.

“He is kind of the bad guy to end all bad guys when it comes to our lives, but I don’t know.” Derek grimaces and moves to turn away, but Stiles grabs his arm. Derek finally meets his eyes and Stiles can see the worry there. “We are going to get through this, Derek. This is going to work.”

Derek gives him a firm nod, which is as close to a smile Stiles can get in their situation. Scott has already joined the others as the two of them make a move to follow. Deaton slots the key into the lock to open the back door of the clinic when several shots ring out simultaneously. Stiles’ shoulder throbs painfully as Derek knocks him to the cold concrete next to the rear tires of the jeep. He brackets his body in—shielding him from any bullets aimed their way.

“They’re using guns now?” Stiles forces out between harsh breaths. Derek is rigid above him. A whimper escapes his lips as he buries his nose in Stiles’ neck. It is a quiet pained sound that put Stiles’ heart in his throat. “Derek? Derek what’s wrong? Are you hit?” Stiles demands as he frantically tugs on Derek’s jacket, looking for a bullet wound.

Derek’s lifts his head. The devastated look on his face does nothing to ease the panic building rapidly in Stiles' chest.

“Not me,” he chokes out.

Derek’s eyes are focused on something over his shoulder. Stiles turns in his hold to follow the line of vision. His breath is trapped in his lungs as he sees the splatters of red coating the chipped paint of the exterior clinic walls. All of them, the remaining members of their pack, are lying still on the ground. Blood is pooling next to their heads, hallow eyes staring into an abyss he can’t see.

“No, no, no. NO! We have to help them,” Stiles tries to break away from the hold Derek has on his shoulders, but he can’t.

Something in his chest is ripping apart as he looks at their pack. Their family. He desperately tries to claw his way out from under Derek. The grimoire still pressed between them. Derek is using his full strength as he holds him down.

“Stiles! Stop! Stop! Look at me!” Stiles glances at Derek through the moisture clouding his vision. “They are gone…I can’t feel them anymore.” Derek’s eyes flash alpha red and Stiles’ heart sinks into his stomach. “Scott’s dead.”

“Not them, Derek, not them. I can’t—” Stiles tires to choke back his sobs but he fails entirely, pressing his head into Derek’s chest. “We can’t do this without them! My dad—oh God!”

A bullets shatter the glass of the jeep windows. Glass shards rain down on them slicing into Stiles’ arms; pain white hot and searing as the debris embed themselves in his skin. Suddenly, he feels himself being pulled to his feet, Derek jerking him close to his side.

“We have to run! Stiles, we have to run!” he yells as grabs the grimoire.

More shots follow as they reach the treeline. Derek stumbles but Stiles refuses to let him fall as the two of them dart blindly into the unforgiving woods. He loses track of time as they flee. All he registers is the burning of his legs and the painful lack of oxygen in his lungs as dry leaves and twigs crunch harshly under his boots. A year ago he wouldn’t have been able to match Derek in a sprint, but the pack had been training. He and Lydia had pushed themselves to the limit to be able to run miles without stopping.

Stiles doesn’t realize how far they have gone until he trips over one of the roots of the Nemeton. He lands hard on his hand and knees. He can feel the forest floor cutting through his palms. He gasps as he leans tiredly against the stump. Derek drops heavily beside him struggling for air and holding his side. Stiles grabs the fallen spell book from a few feet away. He flips it open to the dog eared page. The print-out of the rune is folded haphazardly between the pages.

“The rune,” Derek gasps. “If we want to make it we have to—”

“I know, I know, but I don’t know if it will work without Deaton.”

Derek is looking at him so openly. He rests a bloody hand on the side of Stiles' neck, thumbing at the rapid pulse there. “You can do this, Stiles. I trust you. I believe in you.” His eyes are boring into his own and Stiles takes a deep breath, Derek’s hand a calming presence.

“Ok. Yeah, I can do this. I can do this. I’m a spark right?” Stiles pulls a dagger from his boot. The blade glints in the sliver light of the moon. He skims the ritual. There are mentions of candles and elements that he doesn’t have time for so, he sticks to the bare minimum. “Think of everything you wish had gone differently. Think of all the second chances you wish you could have had, Derek,” he says while carving the rune into the ground beside them. Derek’s hand drops from his neck.

“You first,” Derek demands, claws reaching for Stiles’ shirt. “There isn’t much time. They are going to figure out where we are.”

“No.” Stiles’ voice is deadly calm.

This has to work. This will work. He will not lose the last pack member he has left. Stiles cuts Derek’s shirt away with his knife and digs the tip into the sweaty skin above his heart. Derek grimaces as the blade carves deeper but otherwise doesn’t move.

“Stiles, you could have done this after I made sure you had a chance.”

“No. The blood loss would have been too much. I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate enough to help you.”

Derek nods and closes his eyes as Stiles slices and carves through his skin like its butter. It doesn’t heal like it is supposed to, making Stiles relax if only a fraction. The magic has taken hold.  As he carves he is determined, every swirl, every dip, every accent will be done exactly like it is meant to. After Derek has let his eyes shut and his head loll back against the stump Stiles finishes. He sits back and studies the rune briefly, satisfied with the work.

They are both soaked in blood—so much blood. Dark rivets run down Stiles arms to soak the sleeves that rest at his elbows. There are various crimson spotted patterns that adorn his jeans where it has dripped heavily from his hands. Derek looks up at him, eyes glowing red and slashes Stiles’ shirt clean down the middle. His claws are covered in blood and dirt. Stiles can’t be bothered to care because he can hear Lydia’s ghostly screams picking up in the wind again, warning them.

“I can’t lose you too,” Derek mutters quietly.

“You won’t, dude. We are going to be okay. Just get carving.”

When one clawed finger sinks deep into his skin he does his best not to scream out in agony. He manages to only allow a pained whimper to escape his pale, chapped lips. The pain is hot and raw, but he knows that if he lets himself scream it could tip off whatever is hunting them. So, he grinds his teeth and he lets Derek carve into him like he is a human etch-a-sketch.

The minutes tick by and he grows dizzy with the loss of blood. As Stiles feels the last curve of the rune being carved into his skin an arrow catches Derek in the leg.His roar scatters the wildlife from the surrounding trees and vibrates Stiles' bones.

“Wolfsbane,” Derek grunts and rips the arrow out with a wet, sickening sound that causes Stiles to gag. “Hunters are part of this.”

“We don’t deserve this, Derek. We deserve our pack. We deserve a second chance.”

Another arrow catches Derek in the side and he and falls heavily against Stiles’ chest with a pained groan. Maybe it’s the adrenaline or maybe it is the fact that one of the arrows has caught Stiles in the stomach, but it doesn’t hurt any more. He isn’t scared or angry, just thankful he isn’t alone. One of Derek’s arms curl around him protectively. Vaguely, he wonders if this is how Allison felt when she died at the hands of the Oni.

 Stiles runs a bloody hand through Derek’s hair and takes a ragged breath. God, after all they had survived this was how they were going down; killed by faceless bullets and arrows.

“We’re going to be okay. Everything will be fine,” Stiles whispers.

Derek mutters something Stiles’ brain can no longer comprehend and the arm around him tightens momentarily before going lax. With only his own heartbeat stuttering in the silence of the night he lets go, content to follow Derek into the silence of death.

Chapter Text

The warm breeze blowing against his face is comforting. The feeling reminds him of when his mother would take him to the park. The two of them would spend the entire day running around the play ground until she would spread out an old blue blanket over the grass. They would eat sandwiches and fall asleep in the warm rays of sunshine next to the swinging bridge. He thinks that is one of the things he misses most. Then his thoughts turn to the soft pressure on his shoulders.

The scent of leather, blood, and earth fills his nose. Something that feels agonizingly familiar curls in the pit of his stomach as he inhales deeply. The pressure on his shoulders goes tight and he feels himself being rocked back and forth. His eyes snap open and he drags oxygen into his lungs sharply. Derek is staring down at him with a blood soaked face and watery eyes. Stiles reaches up and tugs at shredded leather sleeves. Derek collapses against him with a broken sob and Stiles holds him closer.

Relief and happiness swells in his chest as he takes in the rhythmic beat of Derek’s heart along with the hitched breathing next to his ear. Stiles can’t place the feeling at first and then he gets it. Derek is his pack; his only pack. He doesn’t understand why he can feel that now. Actually, physically, feel it. Before he just knew, but now his can sense the tug in his core, the flutter at the back of his mind that tells him Derek is alive.

 “Your heart wasn’t beating, Stiles. You weren’t breathing.” The words are whispered and desperate against his ear. Derek grips at Stiles’ tattered shirt, inhaling greedy gulps of his scent. He wraps his arms around Derek’s neck, pulling him tighter to his chest. “Stiles—”

Stiles shifts back to look into Derek’s eyes. He turns his head away and wipes at his eyes, embarrassed.

“Derek look at me,” he demands. Stiles gives Derek’s shoulder a shake causing the man to turn his gaze to him. “We’re alive.” Stiles places Derek’s hand to the pulse point of his neck and smiles briefly. “See? Listen. My heart is steady and I’m here. Everything hurts like a bitch, but I’m here with you. We made it.”

Derek’s eyes lock onto Stiles’ neck. He thumbs at the pulse point there like he had before. Stiles looks down at Derek’s chest. He expects to see a jagged open flesh wound where his dagger carved into him, but instead there are crisp black lines that are partially covered in dried blood. He traces over the rune with the pads of his fingers realizing that it’s different than what he originally drew. It extends up over Derek’s left shoulder only to curl back down his arm and around his wrist. The lines twist and turn into symbols and letters that Stiles doesn’t recognize. Derek shivers under his touch.

“We match,” Derek says nodding to Stiles’ own chest.

He looks down quickly to see that Derek is right. His chest still stings with lingering pain, but where once bloody wounds lay there are now the same inky black design reaching over his right shoulder and trailing down his arm. Derek grins softly as he places a hand in the center of his chest. The black veins curling up Derek’s arm are harsh in the light of the morning. He feels the last remnants of pain draining from his body.

A light breeze ruffles the leaves above them. The sunlight is filtering down through the branches, turning the forest floor into a kaleidoscope of shadows and sunbeams. It seems peaceful here, as if darkness hasn’t touched it yet. Darkness, something that Stiles had felt surrounding his heart since, his, Scott’s and Allison sacrifice. It was gone now. Derek’s presence and the loss of their pack was the only thing he could feel there now.

“It’s different,” Derek says quietly as he scents the air. “I’m not sure where we are.”

Stiles blinks in confusion and looks around. They are still at the Nemeton, but Derek’s right. The ground is even instead of jagged and marred from the numerous fights and magical battles that had happen in the last few years. The carved rune and the blood that had soaked the ground under their bodies has disappeared leaving only fresh green moss curling along the Nemeton’s roots.

“The book is gone,” Stiles mutters as long fingers trace the empty space where the leather bound tome had once laid.

 “It smells different. I—It smells like—” Derek is abruptly cut off by a furious growl. Every muscle in their bodies tense as they clamber to their feet and whip around to see Laura Hale. A very alive, very angry, Laura Hale who standing in front of them, wearing Derek’s scowly face. She snarls, fangs elongated menacingly.

 “Who are you and what the hell do you think you are doing trespassing on Hale territory?” Her eyes flash yellow and, okay, even Stiles is stunned by that. If her eyes are yellow then that must mean—

“Laura, stand down,” the voice holds the command of an Alpha. Alpha Talia Hale Stiles realizes as she steps out of the shadows from behind Laura. She looks just like Stiles had pictured. Her hair is dark and blowing lightly in the breeze. Her hazel eyes are firm, “We will let them explain.”

Stiles chances a look at Derek. When he falls to his knees Stiles drops down beside him and grips his shoulder tight. Derek is staring at his mother and sister whom have been dead for years. Stiles is pretty sure he isn’t breathing. He looks back to the Hale women.

“We’re sorry to have trespassed, but we had no choice, Alpha Hale,” he rambles out. Stiles takes a moment to consider this may not be the living world anymore. Talia and Laura’s presence would clearly suggest that it isn’t. “We don’t actually know how we got here.”

Derek finds the hand laying firmly on his shoulder and gives it a squeeze. Stiles relaxes if only marginally.

 “I think someone needs to explain what the hell is going on,” snaps Laura eyeing the markings on their bodies. “What kind of stunt are you trying to pull? What coven are you from?”

“We’re not witches,” Stiles says lamely. “I’m being completely honest. We aren’t even exactly sure what is happening or has happened.”

Stiles can see that Talia and Laura are torn. His heart is steady and his breathing calm; there is nothing to indicate a lie. They debate this issue with silent looks until Talia turns red eyes on him. Stiles can see were Derek and Laura have gotten their patented scowl.

“Then you better start from the beginning, because you, young man, certainly smell like a witch,” she says lowly and crosses her arms. “Magic has a very distinct scent. One that is clinging to your very core.”

Derek squeezes Stiles’ hand tighter. “We are seeking refuge after an attack on our pack,” he explains.

“How many dead?” Laura inquires, voice mildly softer.

“Several. Everyone but us.”

“You do not smell like you belong to a wolf pack that large,” Talia interrupts, her eyes skeptical.

“We weren’t all wolves. I’m human, there was a kitsune and a banshee—I—we were a mixed matched group.” Stiles takes a breath. “We were hunted. They started picking us off slowly and then they just killed everyone. We don’t know why—” the growing lump in his throat hinders him from finishing.

“Your entire pack has been killed?” Talia’s voice is incredibly soft and sorrowful. “How did you manage to escape?”

“Just before the last attack we learned about a possible way out by use of an ancient rune with an old ritual. Our emissary said it was supposed to grant a second chance.” Stiles gestures to the marked design on their bodies. The Hales study it as he talks. “We were running from whatever was hunting us, and we stopped at the Nemeton. We couldn’t go any further. I was too exhausted and there was too much wolfsbane in his system,” he shuffles closer to Derek. “We carved the runes into each other before we died. At least I’m pretty sure we died. It felt like I died.”

Derek disentangles their hands and tucks an arm protectively around Stiles’ waist. His head is hung low and he is looking everywhere but at Talia and Laura.

“You died?” Laura asks, disbelief coloring her tone.

Stiles nods once firm eyes hard. “Yes. Now we are here; wherever here is.”

“You are in Beacon Hills, and you are most certainly not dead,” Talia says.

“They aren’t real. None of this is real,” Derek mutters. “They can’t be real, Stiles.”

“The way I see it there are three possibilities. We have gone completely crazy and are imagining you, we are actually dead and in hell, or this is an alternate universe. At the moment I’m leaning toward the latter, considering that I have ten fingers, and I pictured hell to be…” he pauses while gesturing wildly with one hand, “well, not this.”

Talia rubs at her temples. “You don’t smell familiar, but you claim Beacon Hills is the home of your pack?”

“Was,” he corrects bitterly. “Scott McCall was our Alpha. Derek Hale has inherited the position after the event of his death.”

Laura’s eyes flash as she snarls, spit flying. “Derek Hale died six years ago. He was killed by a hunter,” she spits lividly.

Derek’s head snaps up and his eyes lock with Laura’s for the first time. She gasps and grabs her mother’s arm in surprise. Talia’s eyes widen in disbelief as she really looks at Derek. She hurriedly closes the distance between them until she is crouched in front of him, a hopeful smile tainting her face.

 “Was the name of that Hunter Kate Argent?” Stiles inquires quietly.

Talia nods once and then her arms are wrapped around Derek’s neck. The hug looks stiff and uncomfortable. Derek has one arm around Talia, while the other is still tucked securely around Stiles like if he lets go his world just might unravel.

“Der, is that really you?” Laura asks as she squats down.

Derek pulls away. He face is a jumbled mess of emotions that Stiles can’t read, but happiness isn’t anywhere to be found. He looks like someone who has had their momentary contentment ripped from them multiple times and isn’t ready to fall for it again.

“I’m a Derek, but I don’t think I’m your Derek,” he says softly and then Stiles gets it.

No matter how much they look like the Hales that Derek lost in the fire all those years ago, they aren’t actually them. Just like if Scott is here he won’t really be the Scott Stiles grew up with, and his Dad won’t be his dad. Their pack was still dead and they are still alone.

“Doesn’t matter. You’re still family no matter what version of Derek you are,” Talia says.

“Your scent is nearly identical,” Derek says quietly.

Laura’s brow furrows and she glances from stiles to Derek.

“But you don’t smell like us in the slightest. I wouldn’t have been nearly as rude if you had.” She pauses shortly. “Wait, why did you have another Alpha?”

Derek doesn’t reply, and Stiles understands that he can’t. He gives Derek’s shoulders another squeeze.

“His family was killed in a fire when he was fifteen; a fire set by Kate Argent.” Stiles clears his throat. “It’s a really long fucked up story that eventually ends in the death of everyone, so…”

Talia looks at them sorrowfully before exchanging a look with Laura. Derek and Stiles are pulled to their feet by the Hale women, who begin leading them toward their home.

“We can compare universes after you both have cleaned up and had some rest.” Talia places her palm against Derek’s cheek. “I may not be the mother you grew up with, but that doesn’t mean you are not technically my cub.” Stiles is no longer slotted up against Derek, but he sees the way his shoulders relax at the comment.

“One more question,” Laura says as she looks closer at Stiles. “Just exactly who are you? Did Derek call you Stiles?”

Stiles scratches at the back of his neck.

“Name’s Stiles Stilinski. Uh—my dad might be the Sheriff.” Laura’s eyes have gone wide and she looks to her mother. “Oh, God please don’t tell me I’m like some crazed psycho here, or that you guys, like, hate me for some reason.”

Laura places a hand firmly on his shoulder and they begin walking again.

 “Neither of those actually,” she says quietly. “You died several months ago. Cora went to your funeral.”

oOo

According to Derek the Hale house looks just like it did in their universe. Looking at it now Stiles realizes why Derek had been so reluctant to let go even when it had only been a burnt out shell. There are flower beds surrounding the porch with different colored blooms indicating late summer. Toys are scattered haphazardly around the yard; a stray jump rope nearly sends Stiles sprawling before Derek catches him by the elbow.

 When they climb the polished wooden steps to the porch he catches sight of several sets of hand prints scattered around the edges in multi-colors. Inside he sees the staircase Derek and been thrown down and Scott nearly killed on. Littered with a few magazines and different odds and ends that belong to different members of the family it doesn’t look like blood could ever be spilt there.

Talia goes further into the house and comes back with a set of clean clothes for Derek and Stiles. She points Stiles in the direction of the downstairs bathroom whiles Derek heads for the stairs. Derek looks at him as if to ask if he will be alright alone. Stiles simply nods once with a tentative smile. He watches as Derek takes the steps two at a time.

The bathroom on the first floor is huge. Stiles flails a little bit when he sees all of the beauty products on the counter. He laughs a little as he turns on the shower and shimmies out of his ruined clothes. No about of stain remover, in any universe, can get out that much blood. When he steps under the hot spray he sighs audibly. He closes his eyes to keep from seeing the rust colored water swirl down the drain.

In the back of his mind he realizes this in the first actual shower he has taken since the pack was attacked. He pushes those thoughts from his mind and begins scrubbing the blood off of his arms. When he is finished the bathroom is a haze of steam. He grabs the towel and eyes the t-shirt and track pants with a weary glance. He is almost positive they belong to Peter. They smell like they belong to Peter. He stops momentarily to wonder how he knows that, but promptly decides it is something they can worry about later. Preferably when they have a solid plan for survival line up.

When he pulls on the pants there is a soft knock on the door. He frowns as he tugs on the shirt before yanking open the door to find Laura.

“Uh—can I help you?” he asked confused.

She coughs when a cloud of steam hits her in the face.

 “I wanted to talk. Derek is exuding extreme protectiveness right now so, I thought this would be a good time.”

“Can you blame him for being protective?” he asks with a raised brow.

Laura shakes her head and pushes past him to takes a seat on the toilet seat. Stiles closes the door and leans back on the sink counter. He levels her with a curious stare.

 “So, did you know me in your universe?” Laura asks simply.

Stiles shifts uncomfortably as he remembers the upper half her lifeless body lying in the grave next to the charred remain of her house. “Never had the pleasure I’m afraid.”

Laura clicks her tongue and picks at the frayed hem of her t-shirt. As Stiles looks at her he can seen Talia in her features, but not nearly as much as Derek has. Her hair is much lighter and her eyes a deep brown.

“You said we all died."

“Mostly. You Derek and Peter survived. Cora too but we didn’t know that until a long time after.

"If I survived how come you never met me?"

"Peter kind of went crazy after it happened.”

“Crazy?”

“Yeah, he— he was in a coma for six years. That, well, it isn’t good on a werewolf’s psyche. I don’t know how seeing him again is going to turn out. I’m pretty sure he is the one who orchestrated the attack on our pack or at least tipped off the hunters that killed us.” Laura looks up with raised eyebrows. “He killed you to become alpha and create a pack to get revenge on the Argents. I’ve been to the grave that Derek dug for you. I’ve watched Derek kill Peter and become Alpha. We have seen him resurrect himself only to kill and terrorize us all over again. That kind of insanity…”

“You wonder how it can’t exist in him in this universe as well,” she deduces. “Peter didn’t take Derek’s death well. He blamed himself for not noticing what was happening with him and Kate. He and Derek were the closest in the pack. I mean they were outnumbered when it came to Hale women after all.” Stiles smiles. “The night Derek died Peter was supposed to have been with him, but he was running late. Got hung up at work. They were meeting at the school for a late practice. Kate got there first.”

“She didn’t go after the entire family?”

“That had been her plan. Kill Derek then burn our house to the ground while we mourned. Peter got there just as the wolfsbane bullet struck Derek’s heart. He ripped Kate apart before she could lower her gun.”

“But-”

“He killed her brutally, but it was a just killing. Peter has three children and a wife who he loves with all his heart. He visits Derek’s grave every day, but he has never harbored any ill will toward anyone, but Kate.”

Stiles wanted to believe that this Peter was good, but he knew it would take a long time before he ever trusted any version of Peter Hale. Stiles scratches the back of his neck before flailing wildly hands extending outward.

“How did the Argents retaliate after Kate’s death? Didn’t they try and like, I don’t know, eradicate you guys?”

Laura smirked. “Her brother was understanding. Derek was a just a kid who had never hurt anyone, and Kate was twisted in a very sick way. Chris lives by the code. Their father was the one we had issues with.”

“Gerard,” Stiles mutters darkly.

“Evil bastard in your universe too?” Stiles nods. “Yeah, well he tried to finish what Kate started by staging murders around town. He claimed that our pack had turned feral and that we needed to be put down. In the end we killed the bastard when he attacked Mom with a sword and tried to get her to bite him. He tried to run her through with a fucking wolfsbane laced blade.”

“Language,” Talia calls from down the hall.

“Chris defended our family and we were left alone after that. We have a long standing treaty with the Argent family now. He still lives here with his daughter—”

“Allison,” Stiles says with a sad smile.

“Pack?”

Stiles nods. “She was. She was killed nearly a year and a half ago.”

Derek opens the door with a blank expression. Derek and Allison had never been close. They had only just begun to get along before she died, but Derek had still been affected by her loss through everyone else. Stiles smiles at him. Derek is clean and dressed in a soft blue sweater and jeans. Without his usual leather jacket and Henley he looks younger, but Stiles know that both of them are far too old for their age.

“I thought we could inform them about a few of our villains. See if there is anything we can prevent in this world that we failed to in our own,” Derek says as he steps over to Stiles, their shoulders brushing.

“Why don’t we take this conversation to the kitchen so you boys can eat? The pack will be out for a few more hours,” Talia says.

Derek and Stiles follow the Hale women into the kitchen. They take a seat at the island and watch as Laura sets about pulling leftovers out of the fridge. Derek is trying hard to keep his expression neutral, but Stiles can see the wonderment creeping into his eyes as they track Laura.

“Why don’t you start from the beginning? I think the universes lose their Parallelism around Kate Argent’s appearance. How about you both start there?” Talia says as she watches them from across the counter.

They take turns talking as Laura force feeds them meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Stiles knew what they had lived through wasn’t normal, but judging by the looks on the faces of Laura and Talia they hadn’t imaged it had been nearly as bad as it was. When they are done and Laura and Talia are looking at them with pitying eyes, Stiles yawns and glances over at the digital clock next to the door. It’s only slightly past noon, but he doesn’t think he can keep his eyes open much longer, until he sees the date.

“Derek,” Stiles mutters as he slaps him on the shoulder while pointing to the clock, “looks like we didn’t just switch universes.”

Derek, as per usual, doesn’t say anything. He simply sits there staring at the tiny little 2011 squished next to 12:16pm. Laura reaches across the granite counter top, brushing her finger tips over Derek’s arm.

“What’s wrong?” she questions. Her glance alternates between both him and Stiles.

“In our—uh—we are older in our world. Older by, like, a few years. How old was this Stiles?” He feels Derek’s hand land on his shoulder.

“Um, I don’t know, fifteen or sixteen maybe?” says Laura. “You and Cora were both getting ready to start your Sophomore year.”

Stiles grabs his hair with one hand and gestures wildly toward Derek. “That was when we met Derek. Right after Scott got bit. Oh, shit, you don’t think…?”

Derek shakes his head, “They would know about any rogue Alphas in the area.”

Stiles looks to the Hale women for reassurance. Both Talia and Laura are sitting with their heads held high, but they are avoiding eye contact. Shit.

“Why do you think, Mom and I were lurking out in the woods?” Laura asks quietly.

“Oh, hell, please tell me I wasn’t Alpha kibble,” Stiles begs.

“You were not,” Talia declares firmly. “It was a cerebral hemorrhage. You went quickly and without warning according to the Sheriff.”

Just hearing the words had his heart aching. He could take having his father killed in front of him. He could survive, will survive, but leaving his dad alone? He wasn’t so sure how well he could handle this. Could the Sheriff handle that?

“You are on speaking terms with the Sheriff?” Derek questions.

“We let Sheriff Stilinski in on our secret after your death, Derek. Unfortunately, a murder scene at a high school in broad daylight with supernatural creatures is harder to hide than you think,” Talia says. “The Sheriff is also a very smart man.”

“You just need more practice,” Stiles mutters. “Wait. My da—The Sheriff knows about werewolves?”

“Yes, having law enforcement on our side has helped tremendously. Territory is much easier to control when you have law enforcement helping with certain conflicts.”

Stiles sits back in his chair and Derek rests a hand on his knee. Stiles calms a little at the touch and gives Derek something akin to a smile.

“Did I know? I mean did other Stiles know?”

Laura shakes her head. “The Sheriff always said if you knew that you would get way too involved and probably get killed. Looks like he was right.”

Stiles sets up straighter and glares at Laura. Derek tightens his grip on his knee but Stiles ignores him.

“You don’t know what we have been through,” he spits icily. “I died, yes, but this isn’t the first time Derek and I have died. We’ve died because people needed saving, because no one ever thinks what killing an entire pack can do to a druid!” He kicks his chair back. “Or because no one ever taught Derek what to do if his entire pack was killed and he became an Alpha. We did the best we could with the cards we were dealt. When it came down to it we were a pack and all of us knew how to survive if left on our own, because in our Beacon Hills that line of thinking was just fucking practical.”

Stiles takes in ragged breaths as he stares at the shocked look he has left on their faces. He and Derek hadn’t gone into specific detail about everything, but that still didn’t give them—oh was—Derek was hugging him. Yep, he was totally being hugged right now. Derek is holding him tight to his chest, nose buried in his neck, breathing deeply. Stiles sinks into the embrace, letting Derek calm him down until he is pliant in his grip.

“I miss them too,” he says. “I miss Scott and your dad. I miss them all, but they aren’t coming back. As strange and screwed up as this may be, we are all we have left. We are pack, Stiles.”

Stiles nods into Derek’s chest, “Pack.” Derek squeezes him just a little tighter.

Chapter Text

Derek’s old room had long been turned into a guest bedroom. The only spare room as they soon learned, but the bed is roomy and they don’t particularly care. The sun is still streaming in through the windows as they crawl under the plain blue covers. They both feel as if they have been awake for days. Stiles' muscles ache and magic from the ritual still lingers on his skin, a restless tingle.

Derek doesn't bother to strip down. He doesn't even take off his socks. Stiles takes the hint easily enough. If something goes wrong they need to be able get out of here as fast as possible. He slips of his shoes and makes sure they are in reach for a quick getaway. Derek has taken the left side of the bed thus Stiles settles in on the right. With Derek's comforting presence beside him, Stiles drops off into sleep almost immediately despite not being in the middle of the mattress.

The sun has long sunk below the horizon when Stiles wakes to a hand shaking his shoulder. There is a draft in the room causing Stiles to sleepily clutch the covers closer. Grunting, he looks up at Derek. His head is cocked to the side, the moonlight casting sharp shadows across his face. Derek places a finger to his own lips as he looks down at him.

“Peter thinks our being here is a coven’s idea of a joke. They must have had dealings with one in the past that didn’t go to well.” Derek’s voice is soft enough that Stiles has to struggle to hear it.

He rolls his eyes and sits up to glance at the clock, which is unhelpfully unplugged. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes he blinks over at Derek, who he notes is rubbing absently at his chest.

“Cora thinks you might be a clone,” Derek whispers bemusedly.

"Of course, Cora would be the one to come up with that idea." Stiles chuckles and throws the covers off to slip on his shoes. “Come on, we better go face the music." He lowers his voice below werewolf hearing levels. "We’re stuck here so we might as well check seeing Uncle Crazy off the list of things we wish we didn’t have to do.”

Derek nods solemnly and gets out of the bed with a huff.

“It’s about four in the morning,” he says as he gazes out of the window. “Looks like we slept for a long time.”

“Why are they up so early?" Stiles asks incredulously.

"They probably never went to sleep. There is a strange Alpha in their house with someone who smells an awful lot like a witch. Would you have slept?"

"Point taken. Come on, sour wolf. Don't doddle."

Derek shoves him out into the hall with the corners of his mouthed ticking up slightly. Stiles counts it as a win.

The house is eerily quiet. The silence makes him want to tiptoe down the staircase but he refrains knowing everyone would hear him anyway. Derek pulls him protectively behind his body once they reach the landing. His shoulders are tense and Stiles can tell he is stressed. He supposes he would be too if he was about to face a room full of people who looked just like the one he lost.

Peter glares at them from the fireplace when they walk in side by side, Stiles refusing to be stuck behind Derek like a child. Laura and Talia smile softly while everyone else eyes them warily. Stiles wishes that Derek had given him the low down on his family during all the time he had know him, but unfortunately he is looking around at several faces he has no way of putting a name to.

“I don’t think you can clone someone and make them older, Cora,” says a boy from the sofa next to her. Stiles thinks he can’t be any older than thirteen.

Cora slaps him hard in the arm.

"Shut up, Ben," she snaps.

“I was just sayin’!” Ben defends as he rubs his arm. "Keep your wolf strength to yourself. I'm gonna have a bruise."

Talia gives them a firm look and they quickly look down to their laps. Stiles wonders if that was the look Derek always tried for and failed at during his first time as Alpha.

“Derek, Stiles, this is our family,” says Talia. “We have given them the need to know basics of what you provided Laura and I with yesterday.”

“But they don’t believe it,” Derek grunts out eyes locked on a spot on the back wall.

“Uh,” Stiles starts as he scratches the side of his neck, “why don’t you ask Derek questions? I mean, I think our timelines are pretty similar up until his death; that’s obviously when things went wonky.”

Peter growls and takes a step forward causing Derek to jerk Stiles roughly behind him and roar loudly. Derek's eyes are crimson and his fangs bared. Stiles peeks around Derek to get a look at the others. He fingers the sliver blade at his waist. They won’t win against this many wolves, but they won’t go down without a fight either.

Talia looks calm, but she is giving Peter a glare that gives Stiles' the urge to shiver. The rest of the room looks tense but Stiles doesn’t think that they plan on attacking. He places a hand between Derek’s shoulder blades, rubbing over the triskele tattoo he knows lies beneath the fabric.

“Easy, big guy. Come on, wolfing out now, would be a terrible idea.”

Derek slowly comes out of his crouch, but he keeps Stiles tucked safely behind him. Stiles doesn’t bother protesting this time, knowing his protests would only show weakness in Derek's ability to control his pack. He gazes over Derek’s shoulder at Peter.

“Listen, man, we have spent the last few years fighting everything our universe could think to throw at us. So, growling and lunging probably isn’t such a good idea right now.”

Peter takes a step back, but he doesn’t look pacified. “How can we trust someone who claims to be Derek if he will attack pack over an outsider. Can you even control the power of an Alpha?”

Derek’s muscles tense under Stiles’ long fingers again. His voice isn’t harsh when he speaks, but it is teetering precariously on the far end of calm. “Stiles is my pack. I never claimed to be your Derek. He is dead just like my family is dead. The sooner you accept that, the better off we will be.”

“Derek is right we are not the pack he lost and he is not the cub we laid to rest,” says Talia. “But that doesn’t mean that he and Stiles cannot find a home here with us.”

Peter rolls his eyes. "Fine," he scoffs, "but he inherited the Alpha power recently. Can he control it or are we going to end up as chew toys?" He eyes Derek, his smirk unsettling.

Derek growls lowly at the challenge, but doesn't rise to the bait. Stiles steps closer bringing himself almost flush against his Alpha's back. The heat generating between them is calming, and Derek relaxes minutely.

"Our Alpha was a true Alpha," Derek replies. "He never killed to come to power but instead rose from his own strength of character. He may have been a bitten wolf, but he taught me what I never had the chance to learn from my family. He taught me how to lead. I wouldn't inherited his power if he hadn't thought I could handle it. I trust in his dying decision."

Laura steps up next to Peter and punches him hard in the shoulder. The younger siblings giggle.

"Agh! What the hell was that for?" he exclaims while grabbing his shoulder.

"For being a dick," she says simply. "Keep doing it and I will punch you in the throat," she pauses as she glares evilly, "or worse."

Peter takes a deep breath and rolls his eyes again. A blonde steps up to his side and kisses him lightly on his cheek. Stiles eyes her with interest. Her eyes crinkle at the edges when she smiles back at his critical gaze. He silently wonders how Peter of all people ended up with someone so innocent looking. Then again if he and Derek had learned anything, it was that not everything is as it seems.

“Talia tells us that the ritual you used has marked you,” says the man next to Talia. Stiles can only assume it is her husband. “May we see? I have studied ancient magic for quite some time.”

Stiles shrugs and tugs the sweatshirt over his head. There is still a sore stiffness to his muscles and he tries not to grimace. Derek pulls off his own sweater as he turns to rest a hand on Stiles’ chest. Stiles feels his joints go loose and relax as Derek takes the pain from his sore muscles. He sighs gratefully and finds his fingers tracing the magically inked lines that travel down Derek's arm.

“Oh, wow,” says Cora. “They match.”

Stiles lets out a small laugh. Cora is so much like Derek it surprises him sometimes.

“The marking is the magic’s way of saying that it can never be undone or duplicated,” says Talia’s husband. “A one shot deal.”

“That was what we had been searching for,” Stiles says bitterly as he tugs his sweatshirt back on. “Being transported to another universe where our pack is still technically dead however was not.”

“Magic cannot bring back the dead, Stiles,” he replies.

Stiles eyes Peter with a narrowed gaze. “You’d be surprised.” The wolf raises an eyebrow at him but turns his attention back to his brother-in-law.

“I believe the ritual you used is in one of our books. For it to work the caster must hold a great sorrow for events past and have been done a vast unjust by destiny.”

Stiles sighs loudly. “That would be the definition of our lives.”

“Well, at least they aren’t some coven’s idea of a sick trick,” says Laura as she heads toward the kitchen. “I vote breakfast. Any takers?”

Derek shrugs and tugs his sweater back on as they follow the Hales into the kitchen where Laura and the younger boy, Ben, start pulling ingredients from the shelves.

“Peanut butter and banana pancakes?” Cora asks Derek, a hopeful note in her voice.

Derek smiles softly at her. “Only if you add nuts.”

His words cause the kitchen occupants to pause and look at them both. Cora has a fond smile on her face and Talia’s eyes are just a little bit shinier.

“I told you that everything is likely to be identical up until his death. No one ever listens to Stiles.” Derek nudges him in the side and they take a seat at the bar. If Derek sits closer than normal no one says a thing.

oOo

They have been at the Hale house for over a week come Monday. He and Derek have spent most of their time in the library searching for anything else they could find on the rune they had used in the ritual. No one has said much about the rouge Alpha that is apparently lurking on the outskirts of Beacon Hills, but then again no one has come up with any ideas on integrating Derek and Stiles back into society either. They seem to be giving them time to adjust to their world first.

Stiles has come to notice that he and Derek don’t spend very much time apart. Not that they really spent a lot of time away from each other at the end of their past lives either, but it is different now. When Talia offers to clean out the storage room for one of them they both decline. Being away from Derek for more than an hour makes him uneasy let alone sleeping away from him. Derek hadn’t admitted as much but when Stiles had been in the library comparing the details of this new universe to their own, Derek settled into the chair next to him after only an hour and a half.

Currently Derek is sprawled out on the porch swing with a book, while Stiles has propped himself against the railing next to him with a copy of the Beacon Hills times from 1998. Cora is somewhere in the house sulking about being suspended from school for fighting on Friday. Apparently, grounding was something an Alpha mom was amazing at.

After reading the same sentence for the fifth time in a row Stiles slaps the paper down on the cherry wood of the porch. Derek looks down at him with a raised brow.

“I’m bored! Beyond bored. I didn’t know such a non-gritty universe could have a down side but it does, Derek.”

“Would you like to go out searching for the Alpha then?” Derek asks calmly.

“Don’t even think about it!” calls Talia from the kitchen.

“No, but come on! Entertain me,” he all but begs.

Derek sighs and closes his book. He looks at Stiles for a hard moment and grins.

“We’ve been on vacation from training,” he says. “Just because this universe doesn’t seem as screwed up as ours doesn’t mean it isn’t.”

“Wanna pick up where we left off?” Stiles asks as he jumps up eagerly.

Excitement is flowing through him as Derek smiles and somersaults off the railing. He leads the way to the backyard. Stiles places his hand on the hilt of the dagger still tucked at his waist as they walk. Even now he doesn’t dare go anywhere without it. Derek doesn’t fight fair, but none of the opponents he has fought ever have. The werewolf tugs off his shirt and tosses it a few feet away.

Stiles grins when Derek crouches a few feet away. This was the first move they had started with. When Derek leaps, Stiles lunges toward him and slides under his body before Derek’s claws can graze him. He pulls himself to his feet quickly, eyes always staying locked on Derek.

“Really? You think I have regressed that far? I’m appalled, big guy.”

“I noticed you have lost a bit of muscle. I thought I would go easy on you until you got back up to speed.”

Stiles glares at him. Since they had been training Stiles had bulked up a bit. He would never be up to Derek’s status, but he had always been a smaller build. The muscle he had gained is a good advantage in a fight, especially when you’re a human fighting the supernatural. He didn’t like the thought of losing any advantage when it came to their last chance.

“Fight like you mean it, Derek,” Stiles demands, voice harsh.

Derek growls and lunges toward him again only this time he doesn’t give him room for escape. In the beginning Derek and Chris had taught him how to evade; if he was quick enough than someone could get there to help him before it was too late. Toward the end they moved on to hand to hand combat in case he was ever in a situation when evasion wasn’t possible, or if he knew no one was coming.

Stiles drops to a crouch, drawing his weapon. He thrusts his blade toward Derek’s shoulder. The metal nicks his tanned skin and allows Stiles to roll away and get to his feet before he comes at him again. Derek grabs his shoulder with human finger tips, but the intent is clear; if this was a real fight a set of claws would be hooked deep right now. Stiles winces but turns and thrusts the elbow of his opposite arm down hard on the arm holding him captive. Derek grunts and Stiles twists himself around until he is at Derek’s back with his blade at his throat.

Derek laughs once the tension is broken and Stiles drops to the ground out of breath. Derek drops down beside him and looks at him with a mesmerized expression. Stiles furrows his eyebrows at him and Derek holds his arm up. The limb is bent at such an odd angle that Stiles' eyes wide in surprise.

“Did I?”

“Yeah,” Derek says before he snaps the bone back in place, grimacing slightly. “I think you’re stronger now that you can feel the bond.”

“Huh,” Stiles says as he traces along the skin of Derek’s newly mended arm. “I guess that’s going to come in handy in the future, but I really want to research the hell out of it later.”

Derek moves his arm from Stiles’ grip and steps backward fangs elongating. He watches the dagger that Stiles weaves quickly through his fingers. His eyes flash to Laura, who stands on the edge of the porch. Stiles angles his head toward her but his gaze is solidly locked on his Alpha. He hears the whistle of the blade as it slices through the air. He ducks back down into a crouch hand reaching up to catch the dagger. Derek gives him an impressed look then turns a crimson glare on Laura.

“I just wanted to see how he would fair with two instead of one,” she says innocently from the porch.

She rests her elbows on the banister, a smirk set firmly on her lips. Cora walks out to join her followed closely by Talia. They are studying Stiles, who hasn’t taken his eyes off Derek, with curious interest.

“You haven’t fought with two daggers in a long time. You prefer just the one remember?”

Suspense curls through the air like smoke as they circle one another. The sun glints off the sliver blades of the mismatched daggers and Stiles smirks.

“I’ve always thought having a free hand is important,” he says. “You know for breaking mountain ash barriers and slapping stupid wolves in the back of the head.”

Sadness tinges the edges of the atmosphere. Derek can still see him slapping Scott just before everything went to hell. He can see the smiles on their faces and he can hear Lydia and Kira’s laughter. When Stiles lunges Derek isn’t prepared for the speed behind move. Stiles tackles him to the ground and Derek rolls them only to find two daggers lightly nicking his sides.

“Clever, but not a kill shot. I would still have time to rip your throat out with my teeth,” Derek whispers into his ear.

“No, but when the daggers are laced with wolfsbane the distraction gives me just enough time to do this!”

Derek is thrown off balance by a knee to the groin. He gasps for air as Stiles scrambles out from under him and has his daggers at his throat within seconds. The sun glints off the blades, mirroring on Derek's face. He smiles, nudging the blades away with an index finger.

Applause sounds from the porch and Stiles and Derek blush. The Hales laugh as they retreat into the house.

Stiles places the daggers on the ground and sits shoulder to shoulder with Derek.

“I can practically hear you thinking too hard,” Derek says as he gazes into the woods bordering the yard.

Stiles leans further into him.

“I shouldn’t be able to break your bones like that, Derek. These bruises shouldn’t be healing until weeks later. I can feel you in the back of my mind. I’m not a wolf Derek, but I don’t think I’m human anymore either.”

Derek is silent for several moments as he continues to look out into the preserve.

“Your scent has changed," he says after awhile. "Magic has always been a part of it, but before I had to search to find. Now, it overwhelms you almost.”

“You sure it’s magic?”

“Magic has a very distinct scent, like pepper and clay." Derek pauses to look at him. "Do you remember that night at the hospital with Jennifer and the Alpha pack?"

"Yeah, yeah, I remember that. Not one of my best displays of prowess. I remember hitting the twins Alpha form with a wooden bat thinking it might help."

Derek rolls his eyes. "How about when you woke me up in the elevator after Jennifer attacked me?" Stiles nods. "I smelled it on you then too. I don't think anyone else would have been able to wake me up. I think your magic overrode hers."

"Do you think I'm a druid like Deaton? Am I, like, your emissary or something?"

"No. An emissary provides advice to an Alpha, but otherwise have no connection to us because they keep balance. They can't do that if they favor a certain side."

Stiles sighs heavily. "I guess we just have to wait and see like usual."

"We will talk to Talia about it. See if she knows anything that might help." Stiles looks at him with an impressed grin. "We should use our resources. Scott would."

Stiles nods with a sad smile.

"Come on, slacker," Derek demands as he leaps to his feet.

They train until they are both drenched in sweat and the grief for their pack is only a steady ache in the back of their minds. Stiles watches the scrapes on his palms knit back together quicker than what should be possible. Derek grabs his shirt from where it had been lying in the grass and wraps an arm around Stiles’ shoulders.

"Whatever you are now, you're healthy. I would be a able to tell if something was life threateningly wrong with you. You smell like you and magic, Stiles. You're safe."

"You've gotten so protective," Stiles teases as he pokes him in the ribs.

Derek pulls him closer, hazel eyes boring into whiskey irises. "We're pack. If anyone so much as threatens you. I will seriously consider ripping out their throat–" Stiles swallows and quickly glances down at Derek's mouth, "with my teeth.”

When he looks back Derek's eyes are red and the grip he has around his shoulders tightens.

“That last part is a pack thing,” Laura says from the porch beside Talia.

Derek doesn't seem to be surprised at the interruption, but Stiles' heartbeat kicks up several notches. Derek eyes fade back to normal and he loosens his grip, looking to Laura.

"When a wolf loses part of its pack the remaining bonds strengthen to great extents. Especially for an Alpha," she finishes.

“But it doesn’t explain why I can feel our pack bond,” Stiles says as they ascend the steps. “I’m supposed to be human. Of course, maybe dying or whatnot had some sort of affect on that.”

“Not being human might explain how you were able to break an Alpha’s bones,” Talia comments briskly as she heads back inside.

Derek squeezes Stiles’ shoulders as he guides them inside toward the Library. Stiles doesn’t particularly care if their new physical relationship is due to strengthened bonds or whatever. He just knows he likes it.

Chapter Text

Stiles slams the cover of about the twentieth dusty medieval book shut and slouches down in his chair with a sigh. He swipes at the dust cloud swirling in front of his face. Next to him, Derek sits up from his slumped over position to wipe the sleep from his eyes. He sees Stiles glaring at him when he looks over.

"You know what we have to do," Stiles says.

“No,” Derek grunts.

“Derek, come on. I haven’t found one single shred of help in these books. Deaton is the only one who could possibly explain what's up with all of this.” Stiles gestures wildly to himself.

“No, Stiles.”

“Listen, sour wolf. We are stuck here for the foreseeable future since the magic can’t be undone and all that. We are going to have to go out in public at some point! Deaton’s is the perfect place to start. He probably even knows we're here already. That man always knew way too much.”

“And if Scott's there?” Derek deadpans. "How are you going to explain yourself. We haven't even come up with a plausible explanation as to why we're here yet."

“This is Scott we're talking about, or at least an extension of him. Do you remember him when you first met us? I’m four years older, Derek. Come on! A riddle from Deaton is better than the gigantic goose egg we have found in this library. He might even help with the back story crap. He has resources in any universe, dude.”

Derek gets up with a huff, nods once, and leaves the room. Stiles fist pumps the air in triumph. He quickly fumbles out from behind his stack of books and follows Derek's brisk pace through the house. Talia and Laura are on the porch watching Peter’s kids, with any luck they can hitch a ride into town. He catches up to Derek just as he walks out the front door.

“Done researching already?” Talia asks from the swing.

The breeze is cool as it whips across the porch and through Talia's and Laura's hair.

“We need to talk to Deaton,” Stiles blurts and Derek glares at him.

“I was wondering when you would be bringing up Deaton. Laura can take you into town, but until we figure out a way to explain your presence try and stay hidden; especially from the Sheriff. Scott and your other friends may not recognize you, but your father will.”

Stiles doesn’t bother to mention that his father is dead. He knows he would probably jump the Sheriff if he saw him anyway. He respects Derek for the sheer amount of control he exhibits around these people that are so like the ones he lost. Stiles has never said anything but he sees the sad look on Derek's face when he watches them. Being here is hard on his Alpha.

“We can take the Camero,” Laura says as she jumps over the porch railing.

Stiles slaps Derek on the arm. “Dude, your sister totally stole your car in this universe.”

Derek pushes Stiles down the last step. “She didn’t steal it. It was always hers first.”

Stiles slides into the backseat. Laura doesn’t say much as she cranks up the engine and pulls out of the drive. Stiles picks at a loose thread on his shirt.

“So, I know you guys have known each other for a long time, but how long have you been friends? From the things you told me and Mom it didn't sound like you got along very much in the beginning.” Laura asks as she turns onto the main road.

Derek snorts from the front seat whiles Stiles grins.

“When we first met he was lucky I didn’t rip his throat out with my teeth,” says Derek.

“He was lucky I didn’t leave his little werewolf ass in the road to die,” supplies Stiles with a smirk gracing his features. Laura furrows her brow as she glances at him in the review mirror. Stiles just lets a small smile settle on his face. “After we realized we worked better on the same team, and Derek learned that killing everything wasn't the answer things got easier.”

Laura looks thoughtful as they turn out onto the main road.             

“Did you ever think that being the only ones left would ever be a possibility?" she asks after a moment.

Derek frowns while turning his gaze out the tinted window.

"I always saw losing them as a possibility. Thinking that we would all make it into old age wasn't practical, but I never thought the universe would be kind enough to let me keep someone like Stiles. If I had my pick of anyone to do this with it would be Stiles. I loved our pack, but out of everyone I have always trusted Stiles the most."

Stiles' face heats up at the admission. He smiles wide as he reaches around the seat to squeeze his Alpha's shoulder. Derek trusts him. Stiles can see it in the way Derek's shoulders relax in his presence, and how he can fall asleep before him. Hearing Derek say it out loud—hearing him sound proud about it? Well, that makes Stiles’ stomach go all warm and fuzzy.

When they reach Deaton’s office Laura parks in front and cuts the engine. Stiles and Derek look at the building with unreadable expressions. The last time they had been here they watched the last of their pack die. The scene plays in their minds. Laura sits quietly out of respect, waiting for them to make the first move.

When Stiles clears his throat Derek opens the door and they both climb out of the car. Laura leads the way, her long stride more confident with every step. She pauses briefly at the door with her hand on the handle.

“I hear more than one person inside. Are you sure you guys are ready for this?” she questions quietly.

Stiles glances at Derek and takes a deep breath.

“We can't back out now.”

Derek rests a hand on Stiles' shoulder, “What is important is that we talk to Deaton.”

Laura nods once before pulling the door open. The bells jingle harshly as they file in. The lobby looks exactly the same, even the mountain ash gate. Derek allows the door to softly swing shut behind him. He stands closely behind Stiles waiting for either Deaton or Scott to emerge from the back.

Stiles’ heart is beating hard and fast as his eyes dart around the room. They hear the sounds of a dog barking in the back and a muffled voice growing closer. Both of them cringe at the voice not low enough to belong to Deaton. Derek steps closer, aligning himself flush against Stiles’ back. Laura tenses next to them when Scott emerges from behind the door. As his scent hits Derek’s nose he understands why. Scott is already a wolf.

Stiles recognizes the stiffening of Scotts muscles and the flash of his eyes. In has been so long since he has seen Scott incapable of controlling his wolf, but he recognizes it all the same. Scott drops the clipboard he had been holding when Laura growls menacingly, her eyes flashing gold.

“Laura, stop,” Derek snarls his own eyes glowing red. “He isn’t a threat.”

Laura narrows her gaze at Derek. “You don’t know that. He could’ve already joined the Alpha.”

Scott steps forward looking right at Laura. “What's an Alpha?”

“This is obviously a new development," Stiles interrupts, “Cora has classes with him, she would have noticed.”’

Scott’s eyes linger on Laura for only a brief moment before his gaze zeros in on Stiles. His brown eyes widen comically. Then Stiles is breaking because Scott is breaking. The wolf in front of them is frozen to his spot behind the gate as he stares at someone who looks remarkably like his deceased best friend.

“Sorry," Scott says and shakes his head. "You look a lot like someone I knew.”

Stiles really want to say something anything, but he just keeps staring at Scott and his stupid shaggy hair. He wants to tell him he is just a distant cousin, but looking at Scott all he can see is part of the best friend he lost. He feels Derek tense at his back, but he leans into the muscle, grabbing Derek’s hand. The movement doesn’t escape Scott’s attention.

"Stiles?" Scott asks in astonishment.

Scott barrels through the open gate and wraps his arms around them both because Derek is refusing to move. It is awkward and one of his hands is still tangled in Derek’s, but this Scott isn't letting that stop him.

“Dude, you’re supposed to be dead! How are you here?” His voice is muffled because it’s crammed into the space between Derek’s and Stiles’ shoulders. “Why are you with a Hale and,” he looks to Derek and then leans back slightly to look at Stiles, “a guy with a matching tattoo? Wait. You have a tattoo?” an eyebrow disappears under his fringe of hair.

"I'm sorry, but I'm not who you think I am," Stiles say softly.

Scott flings himself back in horror. "Oh, god! First the hearing, then the smells, and the waking up in the woods, now I'm hallucinating!”

Stiles leans back further into Derek, seeking the warmth and comfort of his pack mate. The disappointment and sorrow in Scott’s eyes sits sourly in his stomach. He hates seeing the raw grief that mirrors his own. Derek’s warm breath at his ear is comforting, and he gladly welcomes the heavy hand on his shoulder.

"You aren't hallucinating. I'm not him—we're different people, but I guess I'm part of him, in a way,” Stiles tries to explain.

Deaton appears from the back. His eyes are dark with curiosity as he looks between Stiles and Derek.

“Perhaps we should take this conversation to the back,” he says as he steps around the group and flips the open sign over to closed. He motions for them to walk through the gate and eyes Derek and Stiles as they walk past Scott. He greets Laura with a smile and a questioning glance.

“It’s a long story, but it’s legitimate.” Deaton raises a brow. “We have offered them reprieve and a place alongside our pack for the foreseeable future.”

Deaton nods and escorts her back. They gather around the exam table.

"Can someone please tell me what the hell is going on?" Scott demands weakly.

"Were you bitten by something recently, Scott?" Laura asks.

He is quiet as he looks between all of them. Deaton places a firm hand on his shoulder.

"I was on a date Friday with Allison," He begins. "She was teaching me about archery and this red–eyed thing came charging out of the woods." Scott absently rubs at the wound Stiles knows has long healed. "Allison shot at it but it was too fast. It bit my side."

Derek looks to Laura, his expression serious.

"Has Chris trained her, Laura?" He inquires.

Laura nods once.

"He started a little over four months ago. He hasn't called about Scott though, which means that Allison has kept it to herself."

"She hasn't talked to me since it happened. She was really freaked out. She told me not to tell anyone." Scotts eyes go wide. "Wait, do you guys know what bit me? Am I going to die?"

Laura gives Scott the werewolf talk. He takes it much better than last time when Stiles broke the news. Perhaps it is because she can offer him valid proof in the way of fangs and missing eyebrows.

"So, I'm a werewolf," he says blankly, "and Allison knows, but didn't tell her father because she is freaked out that he might kill me because her family hunts us."

"Chris wouldn't kill you," Laura amends. "He follows the code. If I had to guess she hasn't told him because she needs time to process it. You both have been dating for quite some time. I'm sure she will come around."

"Okay, so who are you?" Scott looks over to Stiles and Derek with a sad frown.

Derek talks this time around while Stiles sticks close to his side. Explaining the events has gotten easier, but neither of them can talk about their lost pack without their voices breaking or tears threatening to spill over. By the end Laura is watching Derek and Stiles with sympathetic eyes. Deaton is intrigued and Scott, well, Scott doesn’t really know what to feel.

Deaton strokes his chin as he walks into another room. He returns holding a dusty, leather bound book. It is the same book that used to be covered in their blood, lying on the roots of the Nemeton. He lays it on the exam table.

“I have this on loan from the Hale vault. I had a feeling I would need it."

Stiles rolls his eyes. Of course he had a feeling.

Deaton flips through the book quickly and stops on a yellowed page with the rune splashed across it in dark red ink. "The rune you used has one purpose; to appeal for a second chance,” Deaton says. “That chance does not have to be granted.”

“We were willing to try anything,” Derek says.

“You carved the rune into each other before you died and were resurrected here in this universe which means, you have a purpose here. I am curious to know how you managed to travel together though. What were you thinking about before you died?”

Stiles and Derek exchange a brief glance.

“I was thinking about everybody that was killed because of my stupid decisions. I wanted to be able to see my mother again. To help Erica, Isaac, and Boyd the right way. To protect Scott and Stiles from being killed by whatever the hell was hunting us. That if the rune worked I didn’t want to be alone. How sorry I was that I was dying before Stiles and leaving him there.” Derek is looking at the floor, but Stiles nudges him in the ribs and offers him a close lipped smile.

“And what about you, Stiles?”

Stiles scratches his neck and shrugs. “Our Deaton said that we needed to believe we deserved a second chance. I was thinking about my Dad and how he didn’t deserve to die. I was thinking how shitty it was that Kate had to kill Derek’s family and how different everything would have been if she had been stopped.” Stiles takes a deep breath and avoids Scotts eyes. “About how Allison must have felt when she died in Scott’s arms.” Derek wraps an arm around Stiles’ shoulders.

“And the last thought you remember having?” Deaton presses.

“I wanted to follow Derek.” The wolf holds him a little tighter and Stiles relaxes against his side.

“The ritual of carving the rune needs to include a member with magical ability, which means that Stiles holds a significant reserve of magical energy."

Laura steps up from her place in the back of the room.

“Could power like that explain the strength needed to break the arm of an Alpha werewolf and Stiles being able to feel the pack bonds and heal like Derek?”

“Most definitely. Your magic is a living force inside of you, Stiles. You feel the pack bond because you want to, and you heal faster because you need to."

"And the fact that we don't want to let each other out of sight for more than an hour?" Derek inquires.

"You just lost your pack, Derek. Stiles is the only pack member you have left. The magic of the pack bond doesn't differentiate between human and wolf in times like these. The need to be constantly near one another will fade with time or the rebuilding of your pack. I take it you have not joined the Hales?”

“No, we uh—we are very grateful to them—”

Derek cuts off Stiles’ attempt to explain, “They have offered, but we feel it better if we keep to ourselves for the time being. Right now we are more concerned with just how alike your world is to ours in regards to the future.”

Deaton sighs and crosses his arms.

“The future is unwritten, Derek. You know that. You asked for a second chance and it has been granted. I’m afraid that is all I can tell you.”

“Alright, how about why your Stiles died from a non—supernatural cause and I am perfectly fine.”

“Running off of the assumption that the worlds are parallel, I would say that your magic saved you. Your magic seems to be founded in belief, from what you have told me. You were constantly believing you and your friends would survive; that you would somehow make it through no matter what. Our Stiles had no reason to think that. He had no knowledge of the supernatural and therefore never had an opportunity to develop his magic.”

“Shit, Stiles died because he never knew about the supernatural? This is going to kill the Sheriff,” Laura says.

“In no way are we telling him that theory. No way,” Stiles says firmly.

"Just because this Stiles has magic does not mean that our Stiles did. There is unfortunately no way to know," Deaton explains.

“What are we going to tell everyone?” inquires Laura. “I mean, obviously were going to have to let Sheriff in on the whole parallel universe bit, but Stiles can’t just come back from the dead. Maybe, if he had been missing and not died in the middle of Mr. Harris’ Chemistry class.”

Stiles flails widely and gives Scott an horrified look.

“Are you serious? Mr. Harris was the last person he saw?”

Scott appears to be torn between a laugh and a sob. He clears his throat. “He was right in the middle of a lecture. We were talking and he uh—well he was being Harris. You--Stiles was in the middle of a smart-ass remark and he—he just sort of stopped. He put his head in his hands and then he was just gone, dude. Jackson almost cried. Harris did cry.”

Stiles walks over to Scott and before he can say anything Scott is wrapped around him like an octopus. Stiles holds on tight.

“I’m sorry you lost him.”

“Yeah, but having you here, dude, it kind of like getting a piece of him back,” Scott mumbles quietly. “I mean we probably have some of the same childhood memories right?”

Stiles pulls back and gives Scott a small shove. “Do you remember the time you were in your kitchen when you were like five and you thought that you and Stiles could make cookies on your own?”

“And mom came in and Stiles was covered in a half a bag of flour and like six eggs?”

“She was so pissed!”

Stiles and Scott are laughing now when Derek comes up behind Stiles and tugs him back possessively. He flails while making a squeak of protest, but he quickly shuts up when he senses Derek’s unease. His arms rest across Derek’s.

“Use your words, big guy.”

“You’re starting to smell like a strange wolf. I don't like it,” Derek grunts.

Stiles laughs but rests his back against Derek’s chest. The Alpha sighs contentedly, a rumble moving through his chest that Stiles vows to ask him about later.

He looks at Scott, “You are taking this much better than my Scott did."

Scott shrugs, "I think it's easier knowing I have other wolves willing to help me through it."

“You better believe it," Laura confirms. "This is our territory, which makes us responsible for you despite who bit you. We will teach you how to control the shift. It will take some time, but I’m certain you will pick it up. Just try not to kill anyone in a blind rage.”

Scott gulps and nods firmly. Deaton sighs and checks his watch.

“I’ll speak to some of my contacts and see if I can’t get a couple of sets of forged papers for Derek and Stiles. Long lost members of the Hale and Stilinski families would be the best route since I would assume you both want to at least keep your last names. Derek can keep his first name as well, seeing how common it is, but Stiles…”

Stiles winces, “Yeah, yeah I know. Just pick something Polish and I’ll pass it off. We need to go talk to Talia about the Sheriff. If Scott recognized me then he totally will.”

“Dude, you definitely look older, and you—you move differently, like your always on alert. You’re calmer than our Stiles, but I don’t know. You have his eyes, man. I just sort of knew it was you. I don’t think anyone else will make the connection if you claim older cousin, or you know, love child.”

Stiles face palms. “Jesus Christ! We cannot say I’m the Sheriff’s love child. Just—no.”

Chapter Text

Derek is the first to hear the soft crunch of gravel when the Sheriff's cruiser turns onto the long drive. The sun has only just risen as Stiles immediately perks up at the tilt of Derek's head. Laura yawns widely from her place on the couch next to Stiles, and picks at her cuticles with a disinterested look. The slam of the cruiser door causes Stiles to take in a deep breath, his hand seeking out Derek's. Talia rises only a moment later with a reassuring smile, making her way into the foyer to welcome their guest.

They listen to the Sheriff's soft footfalls as he climbs the stairs, momentarily hesitating on the squeaky fourth step. Talia opens the front door with a warm welcome tumbling off of her lips.

The grip Stiles has on Derek's hand tightens to supernatural strength, causing Derek to grimace.

“Calm down. We will explain before he tries to shoot either of us,” Derek says as he tries to get Stiles' grip to loosen if only slightly before he crushes his phalanges.

“He won’t try and shoot you," Laura tries to comfort. "He would never disrespect Mom like that, and he would never dare get blood on her floors."

Stiles nods, completely unconvinced, but loosens his grip minutely. Over the past few days he has been working overtime with Deaton, learning how to use his magic. Since the daily sessions have begun, he has learned how to tap into the powers of the pack, allowing him access to Derek's enhanced senses and strength for short periods of time. He thinks that maybe being able to hear everything isn't such a good thing for his nerves in this situation.

They listen to the quiet conversion Talia and the Sheriff are having in the foyer.

“You said that you have new wolves joining your pack? How many humans have been turned by this rogue Alpha, Talia?” the Sheriff inquires.

He sounds tired and irritated, causing Stiles winces internally. The exasperation in his voice reminds him of the night his father told him he had been suspended from the force due to Stiles' bad behavior. It is a memory he doesn't wish to dwell upon.

“Only one human has been bitten, and he has not joined our pack as of yet. The other two belong to a pack all of their own.”

Their footsteps stop just outside of the living room. Derek nudges Stiles in the side, and he lets out the breath he didn't realize he had been holding. He knows this man isn't his father, but the thought of being turned away by him is nearly too much to bear.

“Isn't that rare? If they have a pack, why are they in Beacon Hills? I thought this was your territory.”

“They had a pack, Sheriff. Recently, they have become the only surviving members. From what we understand, their pack was quite large, and the attack came out of the blue. Unprovoked. They have sought refuge here with us, and we have gladly taken them in. Only one is a wolf. The other member is human... in most respects. They are still quite young—”

“I’m sorry did you just say ‘most respects,’ Talia?” demands the Sheriff, and Stiles can practically see the squint of one eye as well as the slight shake of his head.

“He has a great deal of magical ability, Sheriff, and he is more than nervous to meet you.”

“Does he have a record? Am I going to have to arrest someone? Because—”

“No, no, you will not be arresting anyone. I just want you to stay calm when you meet them. Remember that they are under our protection, which means we consider them pack even if they aren’t members, and that means we trust them.”

“Alright, you’re starting to scare me, Talia. Who are these boys?”

"Just keep an open mind, Sheriff," she says, a small sigh escaping her lips as she opens the frosted glass, doors to the living room.

Stiles and Derek quickly get to their feet as Talia leads the Sheriff into the room. The entire house is silent as the Sheriff stares in disbelief. His gaze bypasses Derek and lands directly on Stiles, who is watching him with anxious eyes.

“Is this some sort of joke?” he asks, eyes locked on a boy who looks far too much like his dead son to be real.

Stiles stiffens at the Sheriff’s angry tone. His magic pulses hot and restless under his skin as they stare at one another. He hates the feeling of not being in control of a part of himself. His magic is fiercely protective and lashes out with raw unshaped force, knocking things of shelves and breaking hundred year old vases that Deaton tries to pretend wasn't that important. He imagines this is what the bitten wolves had felt like on their first few full moons before learning how to control their shift.

Witnessing Stiles like this isn't something Derek is used to. He hasn't yet become accustomed to the violent bursts of wild magic that Stiles is now prone to when he is really upset. Derek is used to pouting and sarcastic barbs, not this wild and relentless magic that is threatening to tear the room upside down. Seeing him like this, so dangerous and powerful in his own right, makes something deep within Derek rumble with pride. Stiles is someone that can protect not only himself, but Derek and the pack if the occasion were to arise.

Derek rests his free hand between his pack mate’s shoulder blades, rubbing small circles though his shirt in effort to comfort him. He can feel a little of the tension drain out of Stiles at his touch. Pride swells in his chest at the thought of being able to sooth Stiles like this. Before they arrived in this universe, when he found himself with the urge to comfort Stiles or even seek comfort from Stiles, he needed the safety of his wolf form. He knew that with Stiles being human and oblivious to the magical pull of the pack bonds, he may not understand the need to seek out physical comfort like Scott or himself would have, and thought perhaps the attention was best delivered in his full beta shift–if only to make things lees awkward for Stiles. Now, he knows that Stiles simply enjoys any type of physical touch Derek offers and vice versa.

“I promise you, Sheriff, this isn’t a joke," Talia assures him, her voice firm. She stands between both the Sheriff and the boys as a barrier, knowing that Derek and Stiles do not take to hostility lightly. While the Sheriff may not attack his body language isn't saying the same. "We have done the research. Give them a moment to explain. They are telling the truth."

The Sheriff sighs heavily but sinks down in one of the armchairs. He runs a tired hand down his face before centering his gaze firmly back on Stiles, who has returned to his seat on the sofa with Derek.

"Why don't you start with why you look so much like my son?" the Sheriff suggests.

So they do, but they don't tell him everything. They only give him the basics of their history and the challenges they have faced in the past few years. It’s all the Sheriff really needs to know. When Stiles recounts their arrival to this world, his voice wavers, emotion overwhelming him. The Sheriff shifts in his seat, seemingly torn between sympathy and disbelief at their tale. He looks like he is having a hard time digesting the idea that things could reach such horrifying levels in any universe.

Derek scoots closer to Stiles, an arm winding around his tense shoulders. The heat of the Alpha's body is even more of a calming force, and Stiles immediately relaxes into the embrace, his magic finally sinking back into his bones. No longer does he feel like he may rattle apart like a broken toy. Now it was just a gentle hum at the back of his mind waiting to be of use.

"You're just kids. How did you–you managed to live through–Christ, I can't even–" he mutters.

"With all due respect, Sheriff," Derek says, "we haven't been kids for a very long time."

The Sheriff eyes the tattoos on their arms and the way Stiles sits calmly beside Derek. He isn't fidgeting. He isn't talking a mile a minute. He’s not at all acting like son would in this situation. The only things he seems to have in common with his son are his eyes and the moles randomly scattered across his skin.

“From what we can figure, the Alpha who is running around stalking the general public could be someone that our pack has dealt with in our universe in some way, or they maybe be completely unknown,” Stiles says in effort to maybe steer the subject away from their tragic back story and more toward the present.

The Sheriff stands restlessly. He paces several times before managing to speak.

"Why are you both here?" he asks, the confusion dripping from his lips. He stops to look between them. "Don't you want to go somewhere to start over? A new pack? A new life somewhere far away from this place?"

Stiles looks at the man in front of them. His blue eyes are dull with puffy, dark bags surrounding them. He wonders when he slept last or when he ate something other than fast food. Under his aftershave, Stiles can detect the lingering scent of whiskey, cigars, and grief. His heart is breaking for the man in front of him.

"If there is one thing we have learned, Sheriff," Stiles says, "It's that Beacon Hills–no matter how colossally screwed up it may be– is our home. We asked for a second chance to right our wrongs. The magic brought us here. That means we have a purpose in your universe, that we can help you in some way. Seeing all of you here–knowing that something like what happened to us could happen here... we couldn't live with ourselves if we didn't try to help. If we can keep you safe, we will.

“The things we've seen are horrible and probably some of the worst things you can ever imagine. In our universe, they were simply experiences we wanted to forget about, but here they are now experience none of you have. Things that Derek's family had thought to be just scary stories–monsters that you all believe to be just stories– are real and even more frightening than you ever thought possible. But they can be killed. Some of them can even be saved."

The Sheriff looks at him for a long moment. Stiles can see the surprise in his eyes. The fear. It unsettles him, sending shivers up his spine, and causes his magic to prickle at his skin once more. Talia and Laura are deadly quiet. They have heard some of the stories in detail, only believing them when Derek had explained some of the things their Peter had revealed to them about the Hale records. Stiles understands how hard some of this information can be to digest. He wouldn't believe most of it, had he not lived it.

The Sheriff has known for a long time that he lives amongst the supernatural, but he never knew just how extensively dangerous that world is until now.

“The way you hold yourselves makes it clear to me that you have been through hell. I've known Talia and the Hales for years, and none of them act like the two of you." Stiles and Derek stare at him, perplexed. "Even sitting here now you are on alert." He nods to Derek. "Your head tilts at every creak of this house like you are expecting something to jump out of the shadows and attack you. You," he gestures to Stiles, "you have this eerie stillness when you talk about the things you have faced. The way you sit at the edge of your seat, even though your leaning against him seeming somewhat calm and relaxed, makes me think you're constantly preparing yourself to fight whatever he is listening for...I've never seen anything like it."

Neither of them know what to say in response. Having their behavior pointed out is odd. They have been like this for a very long time. Scott, Lydia, Liam, and everyone else had all been the same. The rule was simple: let your guard done and you die. The lesson had been a tragic one, one they would never forget in any universe.

"You’re not the son I laid to rest," says the Sheriff, "and I am not the father you lost.” The bottom of Stiles’ stomach drops out at the statement. Ice rushes through his veins. “You can't replace my Stiles, and I can't replace your father, but I'd be a damn fool if I let someone like you slip through my fingers. To me, you are still family, no matter how distant. Now, stop looking at me like that, and get over here."

Derek releases Stiles and allows the Sheriff to pull him off the couch and into the warm expanse of his arms. Stiles hugs him with every ounce of power he has and is determined to never let anyone here so much as bruise him. Finally, the foundation of some of the walls they had been building against the people in this strange new universe start to crack.

Part of him fears he might forget that this man isn't his father, or that the Scott here isn't his best friend. He thinks that maybe one day he may wake up completely unbalanced. Then he looks across to Derek, and catches his eyes. As long as he has Derek he will never lose his center of gravity. Derek is his Alpha and together they will never forget their family, but they might be able to form a new one.

"I think they would want us looking out for each other. Don't you?" asks the Sheriff.

Derek looks to Talia, who is watching him with something akin to sadness. He smiles softly at her as he watches her approach. Laura is hovering at his side, a hand on his shoulder when Talia stops in front of him.

"Derek, we know that we can't replace what you lost, but we would like to be a part of your lives." Tears spill over and stream down her cheeks as she rubs at his arms. "We share early memories, and we share territory. Maybe we could consider sharing dinner once a week if you plan on leaving us?"

Derek pulls her into his arms, and something inside of him finally breaks. They aren't his family, and they can never replace the one he lost, but maybe they can grow to know each other and one day consider each other as such. He knows it will take time and that it won't be easy, but as long as he has Stiles supporting him, he thinks that maybe they can make it work.

"I–I think I can handle that," Derek says.

Across the room Stiles and the Sheriff finally pull apart.

“You smell like bacon cheese burgers. Tell me your Stiles didn’t let you eat that stuff. You’re not eating that stuff with me here.”

The sheriff laughs loudly and hugs him again. He slaps Stiles on the back, wiping tears from his own eyes. “Why is the universe set on not letting me eat junk food? Christ, how are we going to explain this to people?”

Derek comes back to stand beside Stiles. He is grinning widely as he pulls him back into his side, a protective arm settling across his shoulders. Talia takes a seat in one of the chairs gesturing for everyone else to do the same. She smooths out the wrinkles in her dress pants before presenting the Sheriff with two manila folders. He furrows his brow but opens each of them. Staring up at him are two different Identities.

“Derek’s was quite easy to take care of. It is a fairly common name, and he is much older than the memory of our own Derek. No one would ever question his presence. He never even has to claim relation to us. Stiles, on the other hand, was a bit more difficult, but, with a little bit of finesse Deaton managed to get it right.”

The Sheriff crunches up his face in disgust.

“This is worse than your own name.” Stiles only shrugs in response. “You realize Claudia never had a brother, right?”

“Yeah, but no one else needs to know that. As far as anyone is concerned, he died tragically, leaving his only son orphaned with only his uncle from California to take him in.” Stiles looks over to Derek with a glint in his eyes. "Of course, Derek couldn't dream of living without me, so he decided to tag along."

“Uh–huh," the Sheriff says as he eyes them warily. He notices Talia quietly shaking her head out of the corner of his eye, an amused glint in her eyes. He looks down at the folders in his hand with a grin tugging at the edges of his own lips. "Deaton did a very good job with these. A very good job. You even have passports.”

Stiles scratches his temple and looks around the room. “Yeah, well, Mexico has been a thing in our history. We thought it would be a good idea to be prepared just in case.”

The sheriff raises his eyebrows as he looks at another detail in the file. “Stiles, this says you're a senior. How old are you?”

Stiles clears his throat nervously. “I was getting ready for freshman year of college before everything went down. With this Alpha stalking the teenagers of Beacon Hills, we figured that I should be the one to keep an eye out at school with Cora. Let's be honest. I can't pass for a sophomore, and there was no way I was going to repeat three years of high school. Hell to the no. One, I can take for the team but not three. A lot of the classes are mixed, so I should still be able to keep an eye on everyone.”

"And by everyone, you mean those from your old pack?" The sheriff questions.

Derek nods, effectively gaining the Sheriff's full attention.

"When I became an Alpha for the first time, the betas I picked were all in need of saving in some way. I didn't know what I was doing. I was working off pure instinct and my time to build a pack, and train them, was limited. I thought biting them would help them, but it only got them killed."

Stiles squeezes Derek's knee. "What Derek is trying to say is that they were in trouble before he bit them. That means they could be in the same kind of trouble here, too."

"Alright, what sort of trouble are we talking about? Can I help?"

"You can help with one. The others are a different matter," Derek says. "Do you know Isaac Layhe?"

They hadn’t known where Isaac had gone after Allison’s death. They figured he had found a new pack when he had gone away with Chris. Chris never said, and they never felt they had the right to ask. If Isaac had wanted to come back he knew he was welcome. Turns out, it was a good thing he didn’t.

"He plays lacrosse," the Sheriff replies. "The team came to the funeral, and I remember Isaac because he stayed behind afterward to cover–" the Sheriff breaks off, refusing to finish the sentence.

“In our universe, his father had a rather skewed view on child discipline,” Derek says stiffly. "I picked him, because I knew he needed an out. He was safer with me, chancing hunters and an Alpha pack, than he was in that house."

“Coach Layhe was a severely twisted individual,” Stiles agrees, disgust dripping from his tone.

“I'll look into it–ask some questions and see what turns up. I'll need a statement from Isaac or a witness of some sort before I can do anything concrete though.”

“Leave that to me,” Stiles says with a curt nod. "I have my ways."

He hopes that maybe things in the universe are different for Isaac, but the chances are slim. After all, Isaac’s life never really crossed with the Hales to cause his father to act like that. He has it on good authority that Jackson still lives across the street, but he doesn't know how cold the kid's heart is when it comes to others.

The Sheriff closes the folders and leans back in his chair. He looks at Stiles with a sad expression flitting over his face.

“I haven’t packed up his room yet. You’re welcomed to it since you are going to be living with me.”

“Thanks, Sheriff, but, Derek comes too, though. We’re pack and I can’t—”

Stiles' heartbeat is racing, and he moves closer to Derek. The thought of not being near the wolf is almost too much to handle. They are all each other have left. Derek keeps him calm, he keeps him sane. Without Derek by his side none of this would seem real, and he doesn't know if he could survive with the thought that maybe it isn't, and he never made it out of his own mind. No. Derek is his line to reality, he could never survive long without Derek somewhere near, not without losing his grip on sanity.

"Wow, calm down, kiddo. Derek is more than welcome to come with you. I understand that you are a pack. I get it. I wouldn't dream of trying to separate the two of you anyway. I like my body parts attached.”

Derek looks up, a small smile of relief coloring his features. “Thank you, Sir. Now isn't a good time for us to be separated, not when things are so fresh in our minds.”

“I have to get back to the station, but I’ll see you both when I get home?” The Sheriff stands and looks between Derek and Stiles with a frown on his face. His eyes settle on Derek. “From what I can guess, you have both had each others backs for a while now. It goes without saying that I expect you to keep him safe.” Derek nods firmly.

Talia and Laura are standing off to the side of the room, happy with how well things have turned out. The Sheriff glance over to them, as if he expects them to suddenly call the meeting to a close, but they make no move to do so.

“Alright. Um…” His eyes shift to Stiles, who is still wrapped firmly in the werewolf's protective grip. The Sheriff finds himself glancing awkwardly between the two of them, searching for the right words. “I’ll call and see about getting you enrolled in school. In the meantime, figure out who this Alpha is, or at least keep him from biting more teenagers. Lord knows they have enough uncontrollable urges as it is." The Sheriff shakes his head and roll his eyes helplessly. "Scott–a werewolf. That boy barely made it through puberty.”

Chapter Text

Derek spins around several times in the computer chair across the room. Stiles eyes him critically while absentmindedly picking at a loose thread on a comforter he doesn't recognize. He looks around. The walls are bare except for the random pinned drawing or piece of artwork. The computer desk is a mess. A stack of books teeters precariously on the edge next to a cup of overturned pens, and there are several notebooks scattered about the surface next to an unfamiliar laptop.

Stiles walks over to the cluster of sketches pinned next to the window in a collage. Some are of Stiles and Scott, others of random wildlife and places. He looks to the biggest one in the center of the cluster. It's older, the edges curling in on themselves, but the scene displayed is still crystal clear. Stiles and Lydia sit smiling with their arms around each other. In the bottom right corner, Stiles spots the looping 'L' of the beginning of Lydia's initials. He looks closer at the rest of the drawings. All of them bear her initials.

Derek gets up to examine the sketches, his eyes lingering on the one of Stiles and Lydia. His fingers brush over the back of Stiles' neck, easing a tension he hadn't realized was there. Stiles cranes his head around taking in more of the room. It isn't anything like his was. None of the books on the shelves have anything to do with the supernatural. The walls are missing the red tape of his research, and the floor is entirely too clean. The clothes in the closet are not his usual mix of graphic tees and flannels, but instead more trendy pieces with dark colors and strange fabrics. He figures Lydia is responsible for them.

A thick layer of dust has settled over the entire space. When he runs a finger across the window seal, it collects thickly on his finger causing him to grimace. He wipes it onto his jeans. He knows it must be irritating Derek's nose by the way the man tries to cover a sneeze behind him. He steps back into the warmth of Derek's chest and allows the scents of the room to over take him.

Underneath the dust he can smell the half empty bottle of Adderall lying under the bed. Unwashed lacrosse gear hides in the closet beneath several pairs of worn out sneakers. Then there is the scent that is ingrained into the walls and the very being of the house. It is much milder than his own scent, not nearly as sharp or spicy, but more soft. It reminds him of rain, caffeine, ink, and old books all melded together.

Derek moves away, leaving the skin of his back cold and bereft. He hears the swish of the covers as he falls across the bed and the inevitable sneeze caused by the dust cloud that rises in his wake. Stiles opens the window, allowing the morning air, and the smell of fresh cut grass to rush in. He kicks his shoes off as he trudges over to the bed.

Derek tugs on the hem of his shirt. Stiles follows the pull, fitting himself into Derek’s side with a sigh of contentment. He rests his head on Derek's chest. The Alpha grumbles good naturedly and wraps his arms around him. Goosebumps flitter over Stiles' skin, but he doesn't know if that is due to the cool air swirling around the room or Derek.

"I don't think we had much in common," Stiles says after a few moments.

The realization that his counterpart's friendships were so different is a shock to Stiles. He could have never imagined a universe where he wouldn't have told Scott everything or dragged him out at all hours of the night for adventures that inevitably changed their lives forever. He certainly couldn't have imagined a world where Lydia was the one he confided his deepest darkest secrets to.

Cora had told them how Scott and Stiles had both gotten really good at Lacrosse by freshman year. She had said that if anyone had ever needed to find Scott, Stiles, Jackson, or Danny they just had to go to the field. Jackson was still an ass according to her, but Danny, Stiles, and Scott seemed to have more of a tolerance for his bullshit. They were close.

"He definitely didn't smell anything like you–aside from the Adderall addiction," Derek admits.

"By the amount of books on his desk, he probably had better grades than me too."

"He wasn't dealing with a psychotic, supernatural, murdering monster every Thursday either."

"Valid point, but from what Cora tells me and what I can see in here, Lydia was his best friend, which means he had an all access pass to her brain of vast and unconceivable knowledge."

Fingers card through his hair as Derek makes that adorable humming noise of agreement that makes Stiles' stomach do funny flips. "There are other scents in here. I don't know if you can detect them, but they're still lingering from years of visits."

Stiles listens to the high pitched chirps from the birds outside their window. Beneath him, Derek is breathing deeply with his nose buried in Stiles' hair to keep out the smell of dust, if Stiles is to venture a guess. He thinks back to his and Scott's younger years. The two of them had dozens of sleepovers and video game marathons. Just them. He's having a hard time picturing more than just Scott piling onto his floor or the couch with tons of junk food and energy drinks.

"I know it's odd, but the two of you being so different is a good thing. People won't try and connect you now. Having your own identity will be easier," Derek finishes.

Stiles nods in agreement, his cheek rubbing against the soft fabric of Derek's sweater. Fingers continue to massage his scalp as they lay there in silence, content to just be in each other's space.

“You're much more relaxed here," Stiles comments after another moment. "Do you think you will miss being at the Hale house?"

Derek is quiet for a long moment. When he finally arrives at an answer, Stiles has started to drift off.

"No," he says. "When they look at me, I know that a big part of them see the Derek they lost, and I can't be him. Besides, two Alphas under the same roof is asking for trouble. You're my pack now, and, of course, Scott, too, providing that is something he wants. Weekly pack dinners will be enough for me with all the time we will be training Scott on the preserve, and, if I ever need advice, Talia is only a phone call away."

Stiles smiles softly against Derek's chest. He misses Scott and his dad. He misses the way Lydia use to look at him, judging him to his very core for whatever dumb thing he had said to piss her off. He misses the way Liam would tag along with him and Scott, and the way the kid used to look up to them. He sees bright colors and funky patterns in Cora's room and thinks of Kira's awesome fashion choices.

He knows he'll never stop missing any of those things, but he still has Derek. He still has Derek's broody looks, and his special smiles. He still gets to laugh at the way his hair sticks up in every direction in the morning and how he trips over his feet when he is extremely exhausted. As long as they are together, the grief is bearable. Stiles can breathe with Derek and know that one day they will have a new pack. Maybe it will be with the counterparts of their old one, or maybe this new universe will bring new wolves. Only time will tell.

"I feel more comfortable here than with the Hales, but it still feels weird being in here. I feel like we're intruding in his space. Maybe if everything wasn't so different it wouldn't be so strange," Stiles says.

"We could always find our own place," suggests Derek. "You only have to live here on paper until you graduate. We could build a place, or we could rent a house somewhere close. "

“Dude, I don’t know about you, but my bank account isn’t as full as it used to be, considering I left all my savings in another universe.”

Stiles was never used to having much money– if anything he was used to copious amounts of debt–but when they showed up here not having anything at all was awkward. Talia and the rest of the Hales had be very accommodating, seeing as neither of them could simply go out and find a job at the time. Still, having someone go out and buy him all the necessities like clothes and toothpaste made him feel kind of like a bum.

Derek laughs softly. “About that…”

Stiles sits up to look at Derek with a questioning glare. “What haven’t you told me?”

“Talia thought that you and I should be reimbursed for what we lost. She gave me a pretty generous check before we left this morning.”

Stiles quirks an eyebrow. “How generous, Derek?”

Derek shifts sideways and pulls out his wallet. He hands Stiles the folded check. Stiles glances once more at Derek and then unfolds the slip of paper. His jaw drops.

"Holy. God! Derek, that is a lot of zeros. We can't take this!"

Derek raises his hands in defense.

“I told her it was too much, but she used her Alpha voice, and it would have been disrespectful to refuse it. She wanted us to be able to take care of our pack.”

“You realize we will never be able to miss any of our pack dinners with the Hales, like, ever right?”

Derek laughs . “Yeah, I realize. So, do you want to stay here, or...?”

Stiles thinks about having a house of their own–somewhere their pack could always go to feel safe and welcomed. He thinks about Isaac having his own room where he doesn't ever have to worry about being screamed at or beaten. A place where Boyd and Erica would have a sense of family. Most importantly he thinks about having a home that he and Derek can build a new life.

“What if we build a pack house? I know it might take a while, but I think us staying here during the construction will help the Sheriff."

"I'll talk to Talia about buying some land in the preserve. We don't want to be too close to their house, but being close will be convenient when dealing with threats."

"We'll be able to back the other up if one of our packs is ever attacked," Stiles deduces.

"Exactly."

"You're are an amazing Alpha, Derek. You know that, right?" The tips of Derek's ears reddened. "In the beginning if I would have made half the effort to learn about you, and why you were the way you were, as I did the supernatural, things would have gone very differently."

"What makes you think that?" There is a smile lingering on edge of Derek's tone that causes Stiles' heart to warm and shift closer to him.

Stiles knows Derek better than anyone now. He watches how his eyes crinkle just slightly from his smile, knowing Derek firm in believing that the past isn't something to dwell on. That particular lesson had been hard for Derek to learn, but eventually he caught on. He evolved into one of the best people Stiles has ever had the pleasure of knowing.

"Scott and I were always a team," Stiles says softly. "We were a packaged deal. That means if I would have trusted you, Scott would have too. Maybe we could have managed to save a lot more people if we could have worked together in the beginning."

Stiles' hand tangles itself in Derek's sweater. Shivers run up his arm when the pads of Derek's fingers traces over the tattoo curling over the skin there. Stiles thinks about meeting Derek in the woods that first day. He knew who he was, knew that he lost his family, and he wishes he would have tried to get closer to him instead of running full speed in the opposite direction.

He remembers being loyal to Scott, always putting him first. He misses him more than anything, but Scott didn't make the best decisions in the beginning. His mind was too clouded with Allison to see reason most of the time. Stiles thinks back to the night at the pool with the Kanima. Derek pushed him out of the way, getting himself paralyzed to keep him from getting his entrails ripped out. Looking back, he realizes how self sacrificing Derek was when it came to others. They saved each other that night, with Scott coming through at the last minute like always.

Of course, there were other times that Derek's motivations were obvious and he just didn't see it. When Kate shot Derek with the wolfsbane bullet he went to the school looking for Scott, because Scott was the only person Derek had to turn to for help. Scott had asked him why he should help, and Stiles remembers Derek's response with perfect clarity.

"Because you need me."

After Kate the only person Derek had left was Laura and then Peter cut her in half, leaving him on his own. He was an omega with serious trust issues, and not without good reason. Derek, in his own way, was just trying to help Scott–just looking for a pack to be a part of again. He had two options when the chance to kill Peter arose: Let Scott kill him and return to human, or take the Alpha power and build his own pack. Stiles understands why he chose the latter. Had he been in Derek's position he knows he would have done the same.

Derek squeezes his wrist, drawing his attention from his thoughts.

"Or maybe it would have torn the two of you apart," he says, eyes serious, "and we would have all died a lot sooner. We can't change the past, Stiles. We trust each other now, and that's what is important."

Stiles traces patterns across Derek's shoulder. "You realize that we're the packaged deal now, right?" he moves to hover fully over him. His eyes look down into Derek's, and he realizes he has never quite been able to distinguish the color of them. "Where you go, I go. It isn't negotiable."

Derek smiles up at him, a devilish twinkle in his eyes.

"Does that mean I have to follow you to school? Because I'm pretty sure I'll get arrested for stalking the youth of Beacon Hills."

Stiles slaps his chest, a little shock of magic coming out that makes Derek jerk and glare. Stiles simply grins, resting his head back against the warm expanse of Derek's chest. Cuddling with Derek like this has rapidly become one of his favorite things about this universe. Before, the closest they came to this sort of interaction was when Derek was curled up somewhere relatively close in his full wolf form. As much as he misses the foot warming effect of Derek's thick fur, he thinks he can live with this.

There are certain things about Derek that Stiles has come to notice in the time since they have been in this new universe. He has quickly come to realize that Derek's smiles are important and mostly aimed at him these days. Laura, Cora, and Talia only glimpses one here and there on rare occasions. Derek doesn't let people see him smile unless he trusts them.

It is almost like he sees it as a weakness that will be taken advantage of, which explains all of the scowls when they first met. Peter Hale has yet to see Derek crack so much as a grin in his direction. Stiles, on the other hand, gets to see the way his front teeth stick out just a little bit too far and how his eyes crinkle just slightly at the corners when he laughs. His laugh is so utterly amazing to his ears.

Another thing is that Derek is severely protective when it comes to people touching Stiles that are not Derek. He has this way of simply glaring at anyone willing to try, causing them to immediately withdraw whatever limb that dared to venture too close. It amuses Stiles to no end, not so much Scott and Cora however.

"You could always come as my seeing eye dog. I would be down for that," Stiles says. "I'm not looking forward to being away from you for eight hours. I'm going to be on edge after the first class."

"I'm not going to be much better," Derek replies. "I've agreed to do patrol with Peter in the morning so that I can be productive while I stay within running distance of you. I'll be able to get there quickly if something goes wrong."

"Well, despite the universe, this is still Beacon Hills. That means something is definitely going to go wrong at some point."

"Your faith in the universe is outstanding."

Stiles hums.

"Yours isn't much better, big guy."

Derek rumbles in agreement.

"I had a talk with Talia before we left. She said we should be starting to think about building our pack sooner rather than later. Before, no one really knew we were here, but now that the Sheriff's nephew has shown up out of the blue with a Hale, nonetheless, other packs in surrounding areas will wonder. They will hear that we are looking to build a pack on her land. Omegas will come looking for me. They will try and prove themselves to earn a place in our pack. Others might see me as an easy target."

Stiles shifts over so that he can look at Derek again. He toys with the neck of his sweater for a moment. He knew the rogue Alpha wasn't going to be their only problem. That would be asking way too much with their entirely horrible luck.

"Talia is going to be questioned for sharing her territory with us," Stiles deduces, "and, while some packs may respect her decision, others will view it as a weakness. They will try to challenge us both."

"Exactly. You will be the one they seek out first, because they will assume you're human, and they will think they can use you against me. Some of them might recognize the scent of your magic, but, as a rule, most of them won't. We will have the upper hand."

"The danger is the Omegas joining the rogue Alpha," Stiles says. "I'll speak to Scott at school in the morning and see where he stands with us. Then I'll look for Isaac."

"We are going to go about this right this time," Derek says. "The full moon is in a few days. We will introduce ourselves now, and let him get to know us. Then, if he wants the bite I'll give it to him after the moon."

"That will give us a month to help him learn enough control before the next moon. Smart idea. What about Erica and Boyd?"

"Same tactic. They want family and friends above anything else. We can give them that first, and let the power be an afterthought. Scott said their situations were pretty much the same in this world as in ours. Maybe this is where we are meant to be of help."

"It's certainly a theory I am willing to consider. First thing first though, we keep them safe from the rogue Alpha."

Derek nods firmly and pulls Stiles back down to his chest, arms winding tightly around him. Stiles allows his eyes to close in the light of the morning sun. Derek is his to protect. His Alpha, his friend, and above all, his family. He drifts off with Derek fingers moving in comforting circles between his shoulder blades.

                                               

Chapter Text

Stiles has come to the realization that Laura Hale is an unstoppable force of nature. 'One to be reckoned with,' as Talia says. He never had the pleasure of meeting the Laura of his original universe, but by the stories that Derek tells him when they lay in the dark of their room, he knows he would have adored her. Her sarcasm is just as on point as his own, and her humor is something Stiles craves almost as much as curly fries. Derek says that he never imagined her to be any different no matter the universe. Laura is a constant, no matter the time, place, or world.

Sometimes, Stiles catches himself watching her. She carries herself with undeniable confidence, and she gives the absolute best death glares. He loves those the most, especially when they are aimed at Peter. He occasionally wonders what it would have been like if Peter hadn't managed to kill her; if she had been their Alpha. He knows Scott would have butted heads with her, but Scott would have trusted her without question. He thinks maybe some lives would have been spared, but he knows he can't change their past. He tries not to dwell on it too much, but sometimes he finds he can't help it.

The Camero stops in front of the school with a harsh squeal of tires and a jerk that has Stiles momentarily checking himself for injuries. Laura looks at him pointedly, as if offended that he would think she would allow him to be hurt.

“You shouldn’t be allowed a license. You do realize that, right?” he questions as he unbuckles himself.

“Oh, please,” Laura says, indignantly. “I’m an amazing driver.”

“You’re worse than Derek.”

"I would have totally soccer mommed you had there been any real danger."

"That does wonders for my masculinity. Really, it does."

She laughs loudly at him. Stiles can’t resist grinning at her reaction. He pushes up the sleeves of Derek's sweater, inhaling the scent and allowing it to calm him. When Derek had peeled it off his sleep warmed body earlier this morning and shoved it in his direction, his face heated up and his stomach flipped. He attributes the love of being covered in Derek's sent to his new pack instincts, but when they are laying in bed at the end of the night with their limbs tangled in one another's, he knows it is more than that. He tries not to think about the implications of that. They don't have time to deal with his misplaced emotions right now.

Looking out the windows, he takes note of the students milling around. He stills once he realizes that people have stopped to stare at Laura's car. He can understand their curiosity. She really has no business being at the school. She graduated years ago, and it is a well known fact that Cora rides with her friends. The questionable stares and whispered questions are only to be expected, but that doesn't mean it's welcome.

Stiles sighs and makes a move to open the door when he sees Isaac walk past. He had long forgotten how lost and defeated he had looked before Derek turned him. Stiles remembers Isaac as confident, sarcastic, werewolf, not withdrawn and hunched in on himself. Seeing him now with a black eye and busted lip makes his heart ache and his temper boil. He watches him walk up the steps to the school and he has the strongest urge to follow.

Laura's forceful voice jerks him out of his thoughts.

“Stiles, calm down,” she demands. “Do you want Derek charging into your homeroom and ripping apart the nearest person scowling at you? Because he will totally be able to sense your mini freak out right now. You can handle this shit. You can help them. You can, but you have go in there with confidence, or everything you have planned for them is going to scatter like ashes in the wind.”

“Derek wouldn’t barge in,” he says petulantly. “He would lurk in the shadows like a true creeper, and then ambush me the minute I was alone–effectively scaring the ever living shit outta me.”

Laura rolls her eyes and puts the car in park. Someone honks from behind her. She growls low in her throat, her eyes flashing yellow momentarily.

“Why couldn’t you have taken the jeep? I’m sure the Sheriff wouldn’t have cared. You could have even ridden with Cora and her friends.”

Stiles shakes his head vigorously. Laura regards him with a raised brow.

“First of all, her friends stare at me, Laura, and—”

“Because you’re hot,” she interrupts. "If my windows weren't tinted I'm pretty sure everybody out there would be salivating puddles onto the ground."

Stiles glares at her. “Ew. Just–ew, Laura." He physically shakes the mental image of salivating students from his head. "Like I was saying, they stare at me like I used to stare at Lydia, and I feel really bad about that now, because it's suuuper creepy. And as for the jeep? The Sheriff has been really welcoming and all, but he just isn't ready for that. When Derek gets a car, you can go back to doing whatever it is that you do in the mornings."

“I sleep - like every other young adult werewolf who has been chasing a rogue Alpha all night.”

Stiles takes a moment to look at the dark circles around her eyes, and the stray leaf in her disheveled hair. He gives her a sympathetic wince and plucks the piece of shrubbery out of her pony tail.

She grins in appreciation.

“What have you figured out?”

“It is really fast, Stiles. Even in her full wolf form, Mom can’t match its speed. Its form isn’t normal either. It’s distorted, and it’s wrong.” She runs her hands over her hair, checking for any more pieces of forest in the mirror. “When I try and track it, all I can register from the scent is anger and fear. The trail always leads in circles, and eventually the path has crossed so many times that I can’t figure out what direction to continue in.”

“So, we have a feral Alpha who has somehow wandered into our territory. What could even cause something like that? I mean, werewolves recognize territory lines even in their most primal mindsets. It's scared? Shouldn’t it have fled the territory by now if that is the case?” Stiles fingers drum out a restless pattern on the dash board as he watches the students pass by. He sees Laura shrug in his peripheral vision.

“We can’t figure out what it is scared of or even get close enough to try and help. Mom almost got close this morning, but it slipped out of her grasp when it heard the argents closing in.”

“Hopefully Derek and Peter will have more luck today. Just don’t let Derek do anything stupid since I’m not there to talk reason into him,” he says as he wraps his fingers around the strap of his backpack. "He isn't close enough for me to pick up on his presence yet, and it really freaking sucks."

Laura laughs. “He looked so miserable when I came to pick you up! It was worse than the time when we were kids and his goldfish died. Seriously, that was pure misery written all over his precious, scowly face.”

Stiles grins, but his face quickly sobers at the tweak of worry he can feel from Derek in the back of his mind. Being away from pack right now is hard. Especially, when there is a threat in the territory. Stiles fingers the handle of the dagger hidden at his side. He is even more alert and on edge with Derek not being in his near vicinity. The itch slowly working under his skin is a testament to that, but they can handle being apart. They can handle it for Scott and the others. Someone has to be there to keep an eye on them, and Stiles knows Cora can't watch everyone.

“Oh, god, yep, that’s the look,” says Laura. "You would think that the fact that you are drenched in each other's scent would calm you down at least a little bit. I mean, that sweater reeks of him. It's like you took a bath in eau de Derek."

Stiles rolls his eyes and pushes the door open. “Just send someone to get me after school please. And don’t torture Derek!”

He doesn’t stick around to hear her smart remark and shuts the door slightly harder than he has to. She speeds away with a squeal of tires, and he curses her mentally. Everyone is looking at him now, even more than before. He hefts his backpack onto his shoulders.

He can do this. He can see Erica and Isaac without flipping out. He can smile and say hello to Allison like someone who hadn’t watched Scott mourn her death. He will look at Boyd and not see Derek on his knees, completely devastated by his death. He will be totally fine. He can do this. Stiles tries not to acknowledge how many lies he just told himself.Ducking his head he makes his way toward homeroom. The staring never lets up.

His knows his classes will be easy. He remembers the majority of the work from his senior year and some of lydia's old notes are burned into his mind. He had gone over them enough times with Malia. The hard part is going to be dodging all of the questions he gets. Why do you look like him? Are you his brother? Why are you here? What does your tattoo mean? How old are you? They will be endless.

He was right, of course. Stiles does his best to dodge them all. He manages most, but he doesn't want to come off as a complete jerk. That wouldn't get him anywhere. So, he talks when he thinks it is absolutely necessary and smiles in all the right places. No one is the wiser.

Toward the end of his first class the anxiety of not having Derek near him takes hold. The itch under his skin has intensified to a constant ache that radiates throughout his body. He keeps his nose buried in the sleeve of his sweater, taking in lung fulls of his Alpha's scent, but it isn't helping as much as he thought it would. His magic is constantly reaching out for Derek–searching for him.

On the outside he looks calm and disinterested, but on the inside he is going insane. He wonders if maybe this is all a dream. Maybe he is dead. Maybe Derek isn't really here. Did they ever save him from the nogitsune? He breathing quickens and he really wishes he at least had this class with Scott or Cora.

When the bell rings he dials Derek as quickly as he can, hoping his voice will settle the pull inside him. Derek picks up after the first ring.

"Stiles," Derek's voice runs through him like a calming wave, "are you okay? You're upset. I can feel you freaking out. I'm coming to get you."

Just like that, some the anxiety drains out of him, and he feels like he can function on a semi-normal level again. Derek is alive. They are both alive and safe, for the most part. This is real. He wishes they were at the sheriff's house together on the couch or even training in the back yard. Anything if it meant he could be next to his pack mate.

"I just needed to hear your voice," Stiles says as he leans against the lockers. He notices Scott giving him a worried look from down the hall. "Being away from you–not being able to touch you–know that you're safe and real–it's freaking torture, dude."

"Don't call me dude. I'm headed your way with Peter anyway. We caught scent of the rogue headed near the school, so keep an eye out, alright?"

Stiles can hear the worry in his voice. The way his voice is rough and strained. Derek has it the worst with his Alpha instincts screaming at him not to let Stiles out of his sight. He is quite honestly surprised that Derek hasn't snuck into the school yet.

"Be careful, Derek. Please?"

"I promise. I'll see you soon."

The line goes dead. Stiles tucks his phone back into his pocket and gives Scott a reassuring nod. The beta visibly relaxes and goes about shoving his books into his locker. Stiles turns to head to his next class when he sees Isaac again. His curly head towering above the others. He is holding tightly to his backpack as he weaves his way through the crammed hall.

Stiles stops in his tracks causing a girl to bump into him from behind. He ignores her muttered apology and continues to stare at Isaac. There is dark bruise under one of his eyes. His bottom lip is busted. Stiles' magic prickles under his skin, reaching out for Isaac, longing to fit around him like a protective shield. He pulls it back in quickly.

Isaac is about to round the corner when Jackson emerges with Danny and Lydia. Stiles backs up closer to the lockers, not ready to be seen by Lydia just yet. He doesn't know how she is going to react to his presence here, but he doesn't think she will be very welcoming. Jackson body checks Isaac into the lockers as they pass. Stiles sees him suck in a sharp breath, barley keeping himself from falling to the floor.

He tries to stop himself, but before he knows it, his magic is lashing out in fury, wild and uncontrollable. He watches helplessly as it ricochets through the hall, causing books and papers to go flying. The students stop in stunned silence, and then Jackson is shoved hard to the ground. The magic snaps back to Stiles like a rubber band. He gasps as it slams back into him, sinking into his bones as if appeased now that Jackson is justly on the ground.

He catches Isaac's eyes across the hall and manages to give him a small nod. Isaac just looks at him curiously, the hint of a smile starting to form at the corner of his busted lip. Stiles just grins, quickly making his way down the hall before anyone can notice his presence.

Stiles can feel Derek's concern clawing its way to the front of his mind. He jerks the phone out of his pocket, dodging the students milling around in front of his classroom door. He types out a quick reassuring text as he slides into a seat in the back of the room. Derek's concern doesn't fade. Stiles can feel him more every second.

He makes through the rest of the morning with his biggest issue being his separation from Derek. Lydia is in his calculus class, but she didn't even so much as glance in his direction. Not even once. He knows that he has lunch with Scott, and upon entering the cafeteria he spots him sitting at a table with some of the Lacrosse guys. He is laughing along with Jackson and Danny about something he doesn't care to eavesdrop on. Stiles searches the room for Isaac's curly head and comes up empty. He doesn't see Erica or Boyd either. He doesn't think sitting in Jackson's vicinity will go well, but he does need to speak with Scott.

With a heavy sigh he heads toward the table, thankful that Allison and Lydia are absent. Jackson is watches him with narrowed eyes as he approaches, and Danny… well, Danny is finally answering that question Stiles asked him so long ago. He stares open mouthed at him, practically drooling.

Scott is covering his smirk with his hand as Stiles drops his backpack next to the table with an audible thump. He casually drops into the chair next to him, a hopeful smile on his face.

“Mind if I sit?" Stiles asks, ignoring daggers Jackson is shooting him.

"Nah, man," Scott looks around the table, which has gone completely silent. "Everyone, this is Stilinski, he's the Sheriff's nephew."

The guys at the table are looking at him with a mixture of awe and curiosity. Of course the rumors have been flying around all day about a senior who looks remarkably like Stiles Stilinski joining the ranks of Beacon Hills High. Their eyes drink in the truth as they stare at him. He knows what they see. They see his longer hair and sharper jaw line. Moles that are strangely in the same places. They want to say it, but they can't because he is older. Years older and that is the only thing that has people believing this entire fabricated story that he and Derek have cooked up.

"That explains the resemblance," says Jackson, unimpressed.

Stiles tries to hide his smile when he hears Danny muttering, “He may resemble him, but he is so much hotter.”

Scott coughs to hide his surprise.

“So, Stilinski,” Jackson prods. Stiles turns his attention to him with a raised eyebrow. “You know anything about Lacrosse or are cheesy tattoos the only thing your into?"

Scott glares at him, and Stiles absentmindedly rubs at the ending tendrils of a spiral on his wrist. The tattoo is a reminder. A connection to the reality that he and Derek now live in. The curves of the lines are stark against his pale skin, and when the sunlight hits them just right they have a blue tint that almost seems to come alive. It's odd and looks out of place until you see him with Derek. Then the two markings seem to connect and flow together like they belong—as if they had been born with them.

Stiles doesn't need another reason to dislike Jackson. The cards were already stacked against him. He had hoped that maybe Scott was right and the Stiles would be able to get along with him, but after watching him body check Isaac in the hall, Stiles isn't feeling very friendly at all where Jackson is concerned.

Danny slaps Jackson on the shoulder, chastising him for the rude remark.

"Not cool, man," he says. "Stop being a dick."

Jackson rolls his eyes. "Whatever, it's a valid question."

Stiles straightens his shoulders, eyeing him warily.

"Do you need some pointers?”

The occupants of the table laugh at the jibe causing the tension to lift. Jackson on the other hand is seething with rage at the dig. His jaw is clenched tight, and he is gripping his water bottle so hard Stiles is waiting for the moment it bursts soaking both Jackson and Danny.

“I’m the captain of the lacrosse team. We need someone to warm the bench with Greenburg. I thought you might be interested.”

Stiles snorts, humor dripping from the edges of it. “Tempting, but I’m afraid I’ll have to decline your offer.” Jackson rolls his eyes and opens his mouth to reply, but Stiles stops him before he has the chance. “I’ll play, but I won’t be warming the bench. I think Greenburg can handle that all on his own.”

Jackson clenches his jaw again and glares. Danny rests a firm hand on his shoulder in warning.

"Dude, calm down, we need a few more good players this year if we want to win the state. Besides, he's a senior and look at his body. Definitely lacrosse material."

Jackson just rolls his eyes again and shoves some potatoes angrily into his mouth before moving to sit somewhere else. Danny follows in his wake. Stiles and Scott are left alone at the end of the table.

Scott sighs heavily and pushes his half finished try away from him.

"He'll never admit it, but he really misses Stiles. They were pretty close since he was Lydia's best friend. He used to always go to him when he needed advice after screwing something up with her. They've been fighting a lot lately without him to hold them together. He is grouchier than normal."

Stiles looks at Scott with a sympathetic expression. He still can't fully wrap his head around how close their Stiles was to Lydia and Jackson. The thought is nearly unconceivable in his head.

"So," says Stiles, "Not to blatantly change the subject, but Derek and I were wondering if you planned on declaring an Alpha anytime soon. Wolves are stronger in a pack, Scott."

Scott nods in understanding. "Oh! Strength in numbers. That makes sense."

"No. They are literally stronger in every sense of the word, Scott. You heal faster, you run faster, you hit harder. Omegas are going to come here seeking a place in Derek's pack. Word of a new Alpha travels fast, and most of the wolves that show up will not be friendly. Derek and I need to start rebuilding our pack so that we can defend ourselves and the town. We need to know where you stand. Whether it be Derek or Talia you need to choose. You have a far better chance of survival as a Beta than an Omega. Especially when the hunters come looking for them. Not all hunters follow the code like Chris and Allison.”

Scott scratches the back of his neck and looks away, a flush coloring his cheeks.

“I sort of assumed I was in your pack. I mean you are still important to me even if you're not him. Me and Stiles might not have been close in your eyes, but he was still my best friend in the whole world. He was my brother, man. Lydia didn't monopolize him all the time. I trust any version of him, dude.”

Stiles smiles stupidly and shakes his head. Of course that is what Scott thought. He really needed to get back in touch with the way Scott used to view life. He keeps forgetting that this Scott hasn't seen people slaughtered in front of him or had to watch as his friends died. This Scott thinks those things can't happen in a town like this that friendships can't be tested in ways like that.

“Happy to have you man, but you need to talk to Derek. You need to know what it means by declaring your loyalty to him as his beta.”

“He won’t, like, reject me will he?” Scott's face contorts into the most frightened puppy dog expression that Stiles thinks he has ever seen. His heart nearly cracks at the sight of it.

“No, but he is going to want to make sure you want to join us and not the Hales.”

Scott's face immediately relaxes. He shrugs his shoulders. “The Hales are nice and all, but I don’t really feel like I belong there. I sort of feel like I’m intruding. With you and Derek it's different. You guys feel like home to me, if that makes any sense.”

Stiles pats him on the shoulder. "More than you know, buddy."

Scott tilts his head toward Jackson and Danny's table. His eyes grow wide, like he has heard something horrifying. Stiles can't find it in himself to be upset that he missed it.

“I don’t think we should ever let Derek meet Danny,” Scott says under his breath.

Stiles raises a questioning eyebrow, and Scott awkwardly runs a hand through his hair. “I just think Derek is kind of protective over you is all.”

“Of course he is. I'm pretty protective over him too.”

"That's not what I–"

Stiles doesn't hear the rest of whatever Scott says. His eyes catch Isaac’s across the room. He walks in with his try in hand and heads toward an empty table.

"I gotta go buddy. We will talk more later." He pats Scott on the shoulder once and abandons his seat in favor of moving toward Isaac, backpack in hand.

Isaac notices him approaching and he freezes. The closer he gets the more Isaac looks like he is ready to bolt, but Stiles makes it to the table before he has the chance. He plops down in the seat across from him with a warm smile.

"Hey, man, I saw what happened this morning. You okay?" he asks. "Looks like it's not the first time Jackson has decided to be an ass. He do that to your lip?" Isaac pales, his heart racing.

"Uh, no," he looks down to his tray, poking at his chicken, "Lacrosse." His heart skips. Lie.

"Well, if it makes you feel better I think I might be Jackson's outlet today. I'm Stilinski, by the way." Stiles smiles widely, trying his best to make Isaac feel comfortable.

Isaac look up from under his lashes. A small smile at the corners of his mouth. "I'm Isaac."

"Pleasure to make your acquaintance. We will be great friends." Isaac tilts his head up and raises a brow. " As a friend I should let you know that I am I'm pretty good at self defense if you want to learn. I can give you a few pointers after practice for keeping Jackson—" Stiles looks at him closely, "or anyone else off your back."

Isaac seems to be at a loss for words. Stiles' kindness seeming to have thrown him for the loop of the century. His tentative smile blooms into a wide grin after and moment and he nods his head.

"Thanks."

This is foreign territory to him. He and Isaac had never been close. Before Derek had bitten him Stiles hadn't said more than two words to him. He never even though to consider it. He wished he had if his Isaac had been anything like the guy sitting across from him now. He is shy and quiet until he decides you are being sincere. Then the sarcasm come out hesitantly at first and then he can trade barbs like a pro. Though, underneath it all there is a sweetness that still tugs at Stiles' heart and magic.

They converse throughout the rest of the lunch period. Stiles talks to him about hand to hand combat, and tells him about Derek and how he is related to the Hales. He doesn't mention anything about werewolves or about his magic, but he makes his intent of friendship clear. He wants Isaac to understand that he has someone he can come talk to now. Someone that has his back no matter the reason.

When the bell rings signaling the end of the period Isaac seems reluctant to leave Stiles' company. Stiles promises to meet up with him at practice with promises of 'serious all the kick ass moves.' Isaac is smiling when they part. Stiles grins in triumph as Isaac disappears into the throng of students. Derek texts him a smiley emoji only minutes after Isaac left obviously picking up on Stiles' good mood. Stiles can't believe Derek knows how to use emojis. He blames Laura.

Chapter Text

Stiles really wants to say that he is looking forward to gym class, but that would be a bold-faced lie. Allison and Lydia are the two people he is most worried about meeting. Lydia had completely ignored his presence and then skipped lunch with Allison in order to delay meeting Scott's “new friend.” According to Scott, neither of them were too keen on meeting him. Stiles suspected each girl had her own reasons. He couldn't blame them—really he couldn't.

Scott meets him halfway to the locker rooms, just as cheerful as ever. Sometimes Stiles wants to punch him, but then he remembers how rare Scott’s happy smiles were in the end. He’s not going to take them for granted this time around.

"You ready for this, man?" Scott asks as they enter the room.

Jackson glares at him from his locker. Stiles sighs loudly as he starts to undress. He totally isn't ready for this. Not one bit.

"Totally. I can handle the love of your life being ready to murder me, and Lydia's face when she realizes exactly how much I look like him. I'm so ready you don't even know," says Stiles. He jerks Derek's sweater over his head with a frown.

Danny whistles from across the way. Stiles' head snaps in his direction, his mouth falling open in an embarrassing fashion.

"Damn," Danny says with a smile as he looks Stiles up and down.

He goes a bit red and turns away when Danny's eyes settle on the marks centered on his chest. He rubs at them subconsciously and avoids Danny's gaze. Suddenly, he misses Derek even more.

"Ok, seriously, Danny? Could you be more obvious?" Scott asks with an exasperated sigh. "Trust me, dude. This isn't good for your health."

Stiles doesn't even brother to ask Scott what he is talking about. He doesn't want to know. Danny puts up his hands in surrender and turns back to his locker. They dress in relative silence after that. He keeps imagining Lydia's face when she sees him. He isn’t her Stiles, no matter how much he might look like an older version of him. He feels just the slightest bit guilty that his presence is causing her more grief, but it is a small price to pay if it saves their world from ending up like his and Derek's.

Scott and Stiles are the last to exit the locker room. When they walk out the doors, Stiles spots Allison waiting down the hall. She is looking straight at him, her eyes hard. He stops dead. Scott looks back at him in confusion before looking back at Allison in recognition. He steps between them, but that doesn't stop Allison from coming closer. Her steps are long and forceful. He can tell just by the way she looks at him that she has been training much longer than his own Allison.

She doesn't see how much he looks like her lost friend. She is assessing a threat. A threat to Scott and her friends. He gets that. To Allison, Stiles and Derek are creatures she has been taught to be weary of and to kill if the need arises.

She stops only inches away from Scott, who is looking slightly green. A worried frown is plastered over his face. Allison is the girl he loves–has loved for years–but Stiles is pack. He is part of a person that Scott thought he had lost forever. Scott won't take either of them being hurt well, but especially not if they hurt each other.

“You’re part of the pack seeking refuge with the Hales. You are the Alpha's second," she says firmly.

Stiles squares his shoulders and stands at his full height. The title she has given him doesn't seem quite right, but he doesn't correct her, unsure of exactly how he would define his position in their pack. He feels more like Derek's equal. Derek listens to him, asks his advice, he doesn't order him around like he would a beta. He can't. No Stiles isn't Derek's second.

Stiles raises his brow. "And you are an Argent hunter."

"And you just conveniently show up with your Alpha after Scott gets bitten," She snaps. Stiles' magic flares, and he pulls it back. By the low whine Scott is making, Stiles knows he felt it. Knows Derek felt it, too. "If I were you, I would think twice about staying here."

Scott straightens at the threat of his pack mate despite the fact that it is Allison who made it. His proverbial heckles rise, and he stares at Allison in disbelief. Stiles places a comforting hand on his shoulder. Allison glances at Scott, her eyes showing just the slightest bit of shock that he is taking Stiles' side.

Out of the corner of his eye, Stiles sees Lydia round the corner and comes to a stop once she sees who Allison is with. Her eyes lock onto Stiles and she seems frozen as she stares at him in astonishment. He wants to say something—acknowledge her presence in some way—but he can't take his attention away from the hunter in front of him.

“Derek isn't the Alpha who bit Scott. I won't lie. We are happy to have him in our pack, but Derek did not bite him. He would never bite someone against their will. We live by a code, just like your family, Argent.”

Her gaze snaps back to him, and this time it is ten times fiercer than before. Stiles catches the first hint of her movement and he lets her pin him to the wall, the cold blade of her dagger resting at his throat. She lowers her lips to his ear.

“If you even think about hurting anyone I will kill you both,” she whispers.

“Allison, they are my pa—” Scott starts from behind them.

Stiles huffs angrily, and then, in a quick twist of his limbs, he has her on the ground, arms pinned above her head. The knife skitters several feet away, knocked out of her grip in the shuffle. His own blade glints at her jugular.

“Dude!” Scott exclaims from behind them, a whine sounding low in his throat.

“Derek and I mean no harm to anyone. We came here because we lost our pack–our family. We didn't mean to stumble upon this cluster fuck of a disaster, but it happened, and we are trying to help. We have experience with fucked up Alphas. It sucks that Scott was bitten, but it happened, and there is nothing you or any of us can do to change that."

"We consider Scott pack, and we plan to protect him as such. That protection extends to you. Hunter status aside, you are important to Scott, which makes you important to us.”

Allison eyes widen slightly and she opens her mouth to respond but closes it quickly. Stiles slowly backs off her and tucks his blade away. He offers her his hand, helping her to her feet. She narrows her eyes at him but nods once in truce. Lydia moves closer to them, her curiosity drawing her in. Her eyes are locked onto Stiles.

“Glad to know I’m not the only one who brings knives to school,” Allison says off hand. “Where did you learn to counter like that?” She dusts the dirt off the back of her gym shorts.

Stiles smirks. “I learned how to fight werewolves from the wolves in my pack. I learned how to fight hunters from the hunters in it.”

Both Lydia and Allison gape at him.

“There were hunters in your pack?” Allison asks in astonishment.

Stiles nods and spares a glance at Scott, who is pointedly looking away. He knows exactly who the hunters in his pack were and their fate. It is something Scott refuses to talk about, and Stiles can understand that. He, himself, doesn’t like talking about it, either.

Stiles thinks about the Allison he knew. Her smiling face flashes in his mind, the memory of her bright eyes and the dimples in her laugh tugging painfully at his heart. Allison and Chris may have had a rather tarnished past when it came to wolves and their pack, but Allison was family. Even when she wasn't with Scott she was still pack, still loved beyond reason by all of them. Her death will always set heavy in Stiles' heart. He knows he didn't kill her, but wounds like that don't heal. He’s not simply going to get used to them, so he might as well learn to cherish the good memories.

When Chris came back to Beacon Hills Scott had welcomed him with open arms, and, for some reason, Chris didn't hesitate to carve his own spot into the pack and into their hearts. Immediately pulling Stiles and Lydia into training. Determined that they need to know how to protect themselves from any threat, not just run away. Chris became just as much of pack as Allison had been. His loss hurt just as much. He would go as far to say that it hurt Derek even worse than Allison's.

“Yes, but that was another life and another time.”

Allison nods solemnly. “My father has been trying to teach me that move for a week. I can’t get the footing right.”

Stiles smirks. “Try crossing your right foot over your left instead of the other way around when you swing your arm out.”

She frowns for a moment reviewing the move in her mind then smiles wide.

Lydia takes a step closer to Stiles, nudging Allison out of her way. She is only inches from him when the scent of blood hits his nose. His eyes flash to the hand resting on her side. He'll give it to her, she is good at hiding the pain. He can see Scott's eyes go wide out of his peripherals, but quickly places a hand on his arm. When he remains silent Stiles thanks his lucky Stars. Allison does not need to know about this.

She places her free hand to the side of his face. He holds his breath. Lydia's heart speeds up at the contact. He knows she feels a connection to him. Maybe if she hadn't been bitten she wouldn't, but she has been and he knows her banshee instincts are screaming at her that there is something wrong, something unnatural about his presence, but she is silent on the outside. Her long fingers trace along his jaw, and he feels a shiver run up his spine at the contact. Tears are brimming in her eyes, threatening to spill over, but he can't seem to make any words of comfort pass his lips as he stares at her broken heart.

Her hand drops just as Coach comes out of the locker room. The man does a double take when he first sees Stiles. His eyes widen to the size of saucers. He goes a few shades paler, and Stiles manages to tear his eyes away from Lydia.

“I’m his cousin,” Stiles explains before Coach can say anything.

"Sweet, merciful, Jesus! I thought I was going insane." Coach looks down at his clipboard with a frown then looks up at Stiles with a sympathetic wince. “They have no mercy in your family.”

Stiles shrugs. “Just call me Stilinski, Coach. Everyone else does.”

“Whatever. Just don’t hurt yourself climbing the wall. Now, go! Go! Go! Go!” He ushers them into the gym. “Everybody shut up!”

Stiles stops short once he enters the gym. Scott runs into his back, shoving him forward a few steps. Stiles balks at the wall in front of them. Just like that, he is taken back to when Erica tried to climb the wall herself only to fall, Scott catching her mid seizure. He remembers excitedly climbing up without even a thought in her direction after Coach had called their names. He hadn't realized how much he regretted that day until this moment.

His rips his eyes from the wall, and they dart around the room in search of Erica. He catches sight of a head of unkempt blond hair amongst the class of students. She is standing toward the back looking at her shoes attempting to make herself as small as possible. Stiles gives Scott a pat on the back and makes a beeline for her.

She doesn’t look up when he approaches, but he can tell she notices his presence by the way she wraps her arms around her torso. His heart is constricting at the sight. He remembers his Erica with the heels, the leather, and the cleavage. She was fierce and snarky on the outside, but, on the inside, she remained the same insecure girl from her human days. She never had a chance to learn she could just be herself and still be loved. This time round, he is going to be sure to change that. He has to.

“Wanna be my climbing buddy?” he asks cheerfully.

A friendly smile spreads over his face as he looks at her. She glances up at him from under her lashes only briefly before looking to the rock wall before them.

“I’m not good with heights,” she says quietly.

Stiles shrugs, turning to look at the wall, and bumps his shoulder against hers. His magic shutters violently, and he is taken aback for a moment. He can sense the possibility of a seizure hovering under the surface. His hands tremble and he clutches them into fists at his sides. His magic fights him, wanting to wrap around Erica, wanting to protect her from it, but he can't let it. He doesn't want to scare her off.

He is silent for too long, he realizes, when Erica shuffles a step away.

“I'll keep pace with you, and we will hit the buzzer together. Promise,” He assures.

She looks at him, surprise clouding her features. The astonishment hurts his heart. Erica is so sweet and shy. She should be someone people fight to be friends with. He doesn't understand why people look at her and see someone to taunt and ridicule for an illness she has no ability to control–an illness that she didn't ask for. Just like Isaac and Boyd, she needs people to show her that she is worthy of befriending. Worthy of being protected. Worthy of being given the honor of pack. Stiles understands Derek's choices more with every passing day, but, most importantly, he respects them.

“I’m Erica,” she says, once the surprise is only lingering on the edge of her expression.

He smiles happily at her acceptance, giving her his name, too. His hands tremble again. Before he can stop it, his magic swirls around her, seeking to ease her anxiety, to protect her like he would do for Derek or Scott when they're worried. Derek never says it, but the way he closes his eyes the small smile that stretches across his face make words unnecessary.

"I don't think it is something you do consciously," Scott had said once during training. "It's like you’re letting me know you’re there for me. That everything is alright and you have my back. It's really comforting, dude."

Erica's breath hitches, and she turns her wide eyes on him. So many people have been looking at him like that lately.

"What did you–" she begins, but stops when Stiles hold a finger to his lips.

"Sorry, um–I'm a little different than most people. Can we leave it at that for now if I promise to explain after lacrosse practice today? Providing that I haven't freaked you out too much?"

"I don't exactly have any room to judge. I'm not exactly normal either," she says sadly and turns her gaze back to the floor.

Stiles places a hand on her shoulder. She looks at him in confusion.

"Well, normal is overrated. I, personally, think you're pretty great, and I would like to explain after practice if you wouldn't mind waiting in the stands."

She looks him for a long moment. Her eyes search his for any sign of a trick. He doesn't fight his magic when it reaches out for her this time. He wraps it around her firmly, kicking away at her anxiety and staving off her illness for the time being. He supposes werewolves can't have all the kicks when it comes to helping out humans.

Her wary expression softens into a smile. She nods once.

“Alright! What do ya say we show these armatures how to climb a big fake rock? Yeah!”

Erica laughs when he punches the air. Something in him relaxes at the sound. Stiles takes her hand and pulls her to the front of the class where Allison and Scott are repelling down from the wall.

“Stilinski!” Coach yells.

“I’m going with Erica!"

“Just go!”

Erica is looking at the wall nervously as Scott hands her the harness. She takes it with shaky fingers. Stiles quickly attaches the one Allison hands him and moves over to help Erica with her own. Her heart is beating like crazy. He doesn't need enhanced senses to tell him that. He tilts her chin up to make her look at him. He is vaguely aware of the class staring at them, but he keeps his attention on Erica.

“You've got this, Catwoman. Just concentrate on getting to the top. I won’t let you fall. Trust me, okay? I. Wont. Let. You. Fall.”

She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. He listens closely as her heart slows and her hands stop trembling. When she opens her eyes, she is determined. She pulls her wild hair back into a messy bun.

“Don’t look down, right?” she confirms, voice steady.

“Exactly.”

They start together. Stiles makes sure to keep with her slower pace. It is obvious that she is frightened, but he knows she can do this. Halfway up her breathing becomes irregular, and Stiles can hear the uptick of her heart beat when she pauses and looks down.

“Before we die of old age!” Coach complains from below them.

Stiles maneuvers closer to her, and she sucks in an anguished breath sound on the verge of tears.

“Come on, Catwoman. You can do this,” he says.

She clenches her eyes shut when Coach's voice boom up at them again.

“You two are slower than my grandmother! And she’s dead!”

Stiles huffs and looks down over his shoulder at the man.

“Coach, I say this with all the respect of someone with respect for you. Shut up, and let her do this at her own pace!” Stiles yells.

Thankfully Coach seems to be shocked more than angry at his outburst. Stiles goes back to ignoring them. He has more important things to deal with at the moment. He shuffles a few inches closer to her.

“Hey, look at me, Erica. Look at me.”

She turns her head toward him. He can see the fear on her face, smell it thick in the air. He can hear the low worried whine in Scott's throat as he watches them. Stiles tones his senses down to where it is only him and Erica. She has to know she can do this as a human. She has to know how strong she can be without the extra power he and Derek will offer her in the future.     

“Don’t give them the satisfaction of seeing you fail. You got this. I’m not gonna let you fall.”

She sucks in a breath. Her eyes are red and glassy, tears threatening to spill over. “You promise?”

“Batman always keeps his promises. Now, grab your next hand hold, and follow with your right foot. I'm right beside you."

She obeys Stiles’ direction one step at a time. Her spirits lift with every passing inch. When they reach the top, the look on her face is brighter than Stiles had ever seen it in his universe. They press the buzzer at the same time, and Stiles laughs giddily as happiness and accomplishment waft off her in waves.

“Now we just let go. Ready?” he asks.

Erica nods, and they release the wall at the same time. When their feet hit the ground, Erica immediately crashes into him, wrapping her arms around his neck. Stiles takes in her scent. He can smell the sickness under her skin, but hiding underneath is Erica. Not the one they lost but someone just as special. Floral, mixed with something spicy and kind. Hope.

“Thank you!” she says happily in his ear.

Stiles hugs her back as he laughs into her hair. “No problem, Catwoman. I knew you could do it. Come sit with me and Scott?" She looks at him hesitantly. "Come on, him and Allison won't bite. Promise. What do ya say?"

She nods skeptically, and they go over to join Scott and Allison on the bleachers. Allison is giving him a suspicious look while Scott watches him knowingly. He plops down next to Scott. Allison immediately pulls Erica down beside her.

“Great job,” Allison says, "At least you didn't fall like Scott over here."

Scott grumbles something and sticks his tongue out at her. The easy going atmosphere has Erica smiling and Stiles is grateful when Allison pulls her into a discussion about girly things that Stiles promptly tunes out.

Scott punches him in the shoulder. “Dude, that was awesome! You calmed her down so quick. For a second, I thought she was going to freak out.”

“She was Scott,” Stiles says quietly. “And, in my universe, it didn’t end very well.”

“That bad, huh?”

In his memory, Stiles can see Scott running inhumanly fast to catch Erica. Stiles recalls in vivid detail how she held on to Scott's hand for dear life as she convulsed. Knows it was the last time he saw her human but not the last time he saw her vulnerable. That was what Derek's wolves could never seem to understand. Just because they suddenly had power, it didn't make them invincible.

Isaac maybe understood more than most that power came with equal weakness. He learned the hard way how easy it was for a hunter to corner him. Stiles remembers how that hunter knocked out Stiles’ dad and then moved on to kill a wolf who was no more than a teenager. Still, Isaac was too quick to rush into a fight for Derek or Scott or anyone he deemed worthy.

Erica, however beautiful and fierce, sought out any chance to prove herself. Any chance to make everyone realize she wasn't that same weak human as before. It got her into trouble often, just like it did Boyd. Both of them felt the need to prove to everyone that they were worthy of attention. Boyd with lacrosse and Erica with her looks. They never took the time to realize how dangerous a power trip could be. No one ever showed them how special they were as humans.

Stiles and Derek are determined not to let history repeat itself.

“You have no idea," Stiles says, solemnly. "The full moon is tomorrow. I've got Isaac coming over under the pretense of self-defense lessons against Jackson, and Erica has been lured in with the promise of me explaining what I did when I accidentally let my magic wrap around her earlier. We can count on you to be there, too, right?”

Scott nods seriously and glances to the rock wall where Lydia is climbing. They watch as she favors her side, falling behind Jackson.

"I'm guessing you're going to confront her later?" Scott asks.

"Yep. Not looking forward to it, but I'd bet you a month's worth of curly fries that's the bite of an Alpha she is hiding. Keep that to yourself, though, until I can confirm it."

Scott nods in promise as they watch Lydia and Jackson descend from the wall. At least this time, Stiles knows Jackson isn’t unwittingly plotting the death of the swim team. This place does have some comforts. Stiles looks around and takes in their faces. None of it seems real. They look so much like his old pack. Part of them is, but he still can’t wrap his mind around it. Panic nips at the edges of his thoughts.

What if this isn't real?

What if this all something he has cooked up in the depths of his mind?

What if he is still under the control of the nogitsune, and this is some new sick way of torturing him?

Derek's presence rushes to the forefront of his mind, tugging him out of his thoughts. His shoulders relax a little, but he longs to be closer. He needs to be able to touch him, hear his voice, know that all of this is real and not in his head. Scott places a hand on his shoulder, giving it a slight squeeze.

Stiles' magic flares softly, a warm feeling rising in the pit of his stomach at the comfort of pack as well as Derek's fast approaching presence. He can practically feel Scott's eyes roll as Stiles hurriedly makes his way out of the gym.

Chapter Text

oOo

Stiles collides firmly with Derek when he rushes out the side door of the gym. He wraps his arms around his sweater clad shoulders and hangs on. The faint thrum of anxiety Stiles has been feeling all day comes to an abrupt halt as he relaxes into the warm expanse of Derek’s chest. He pulls back only slightly to watch Derek wrinkle his nose at him. Stiles tries really hard not to find it adorable. He fails miserably.

“You smell like other people,” Derek says, petulantly, as he pulls Stiles roughly back into his chest.

Stiles tightens his arms around Derek. He presses his nose into his shoulder and breathes in deeply. “God, I’ve missed your stupid werewolf ass so much today. You have no idea,” Stiles says.

Derek rubs his nose over the pulse point of Stiles’ neck. His breath is hot against throat as he speaks. “After Laura dropped you off, she caught scent of the Alpha nearby. I’ve been helping to run territory sweeps. I couldn’t concentrate on anything but the fact that you were here without any protection.”

Stiles chuckles. “Never thought I would hear you say that. Anyway, I can hold it off long enough for you or someone else to get here, and I have Scott.”

“Yes, Stiles, you have Scott before he has gained full control over his abilities. That is beyond comforting. What if no one gets there in time? What if I don’t realize you’re in trouble until it’s too late?” By the end Derek’s voice has gone soft and his fingers are wound tightly in the grey fabric of Stiles’ gym shirt. “I can’t do this without you.”

“I’m not going anywhere, Derek.” Stiles pulls back to look at him again. “You’re going to know if I’m in trouble. I’m magic now, remember?”

Derek goes about nosing against Stiles’ neck once more. Stiles doesn't bother to protest or hurry him along. He rubs his hands up and down the expanse of Derek's back letting his own scent cling to his alpha. He loves how Derek trusts him enough to get this close. He loves how irritated Derek is when his scent fades or mixes with Scott's or Laura's. Stiles clings to him, enjoying this moment for a little while longer.

Derek rumbles contentedly, satisfied that all the other scents lingering on Stiles' skin from the day have been overpowered by his. The sound of Coach's whistle from inside brings him out of the peaceful moment.

“I’m all for scent marking,” Stiles says as his fingers continue trace up and down the muscles of Derek’s back, “but we have a bit of an issue."

Derek pulls back only to raise his brows in question, his hands still tangled in the grey fabric of Stiles' shirt.

“I think Lydia has been bitten.”

Derek's grip tightens, and Stiles knows it is going to wrinkle.

“Are you sure?”

“I think I know what a—”

Derek goes rigid. His gaze is fixed over Stiles’ shoulder. Stiles attempts to turn in his grip, but Derek growls low in his chest, pulling him flush against his body.

“Der—what? What the hell?” Stiles rips himself from Derek’s grip and turns around in one swift motion. “Who—”

The words get lodged in Stiles throat as his eyes land on Chris Argent. He looks nothing like the Chris Stiles remembers. The man standing before them now looks lighter, untouched by the tragedies their own Chris had faced. His blue eyes are light, his face much younger than what Stiles remembers. The Chris from their universe had been through so much, aging him before his time. The man before them now doesn't know what it is like to have his family killed one by one. This Chris is arrogant. His shoulders pulled back as he looks down his nose at them. He is a threat.

“Well, hell. I didn’t see this one coming,” Stiles exclaims.

He throws his hands in the air, exasperated. He notices Chris' hand move to the gun resting at his waist. Stiles bets if he were to sniff the air hard enough he would smell the wolfsbane.

“You do realize you’re on school grounds, right?” Stiles adds. “I mean, you can’t shoot us here—not that we’ve done anything to constitute you shooting us."

Chris clears his throat but doesn’t remove his hand from the shining metal at his belt. “When Allison told me there was another pack in town, I assumed you were only passing through. She has informed me that you plan on staying?”

Derek rests a hand on Stiles’ shoulder, his gaze still locked on Chris. Stiles knows that Derek and Chris became something akin to friends. They saved each other's lives, forgiving one another for the wrongs they had committed, and now Derek would have to hate him all over again by the looks of things. Stiles can feel the mixed emotions rolling off Derek —pain, grief, anger—so Stiles places a calming hand between his shoulder blades.

“I’m a distant family member of the Hales, and my pack mate happens to be of relation to the Sheriff here," replies Derek. "We came here seeking refuge after the loss of our pack. Talia has agreed to share territory with us, and we simply wanted to see if we could negotiate treaty options.”

“I don’t see why you are asking for an audience when you have already been recruiting. Allison tells me that Scott has joined you. Quite conveniently as it happens,” says Chris, his voice hard and accusing.

Stiles narrows his eyes at the hunter. The obvious accusation makes his anger rise and his magic threaten to lash out in retaliation. Derek leans into him, a silent plea for him to stay calm.

“When Talia informed us that there was a recently bitten omega in the area, we reached out. Talia’s pack is mostly all blood relation except for their mates. While they have a responsibility to any bitten wolves in the territory we wanted to offer Scott a chance to join a pack where he might be more comfortable. He has accepted.”

Allison and Scott walk out of the gym. Chris takes his hand off of his gun. The pair of them freeze, glancing between the three. Scott looks torn as Allison goes to stand by her father. The tension is palpable in the air. Their eyes meet for a brief moment before Scott makes a decision that will change their relationship.

He takes his place at Derek’s side, next to his Alpha. Allison’s shoulders go stiff as her eyes follow him. To an outsider it looks like a simple decision, but to Allison and Scott it is as if a battle line has been drawn between them. Allison's eyes harden for a brief moment before she turns a glare on her father.

“Dad?” she asks, pointedly. “What are you doing here?”

Chris looks as if he puts every muscle in his face to work as he stifles an eye roll. “Allison, when my daughter informs me that another Alpha has recruited her newly turned boyfriend into his pack what else do you expect me to do?”

Allison takes a step closer, looking up at her father with demanding eyes. “Trust me when I say that they are not an immediate threat and you should grant them an opportunity.”

Scott looks confused at the exchange, but Stiles and Derek, on the other hand, understand why she is upset. She is one of the matriarchs of the Argent family. The decision had been given to her, but Chris is disputing it. Her fists are clenched at her sides, heartbeat beginning to rise.

“If they aren’t a threat, then why were they so quick to recruit new members?” asks Chris critically.

All eyes land on Derek and Stiles. Derek’s face is grim, and Stiles shuffles just a bit closer to him. The air around them is heavy, grief-filled. Scott scrunches his nose at the scent. He knows the true story and, even though he didn't know them then, he knows Stiles and Derek now, so their grief is his. He proudly rests a hand on Derek’s shoulder in show of support of his Alpha.

“Our pack was killed. Preyed upon for no reason,” Derek says. “The power of Alpha passed to me. My pack mate and I only wish for a fresh start. I will never bite someone who doesn't know what this life entails.”

“Talia has agreed to share her territory with another Alpha?” Chris asks in disbelief.

Stiles looks around catching the eyes of several passing students. “Guys, why don’t we continue this little conversation somewhere that blissfully, ignorant, human, students and teachers can’t hear? ‘Cause I sure as hell don’t want to be the one that has to explain the kind of supernatural hell that happens in this universe."

The tension breaks as the noise and surroundings come back to them. Class has let out. Lydia and Jackson are watching them from behind the glass of the gymnasium doors. Stiles doesn’t particularly want to know if Jackson knows about the supernatural, but, at the same time, he doesn’t think it’s possible Jackson is still ignorant to it at this point.

Chris lays a hand on Allison's shoulder before he leaves. After a couple of moments, Stiles hears an SUV roar to life in the distance. Derek relaxes next to him. Chris is gone.

Allison doesn’t smile as she approaches Scott. Her shoulders are tense, and her eyes sad but determination surrounds her. Stiles sees the sorrow in her eyes. She doesn't want to have to do this, and it is breaking her heart. But what surprises Stiles is that she doesn't look close to tears. The Allison he knew would have been fighting them with everything she had, but the tears would have still slipped through. The woman before them now if different. Dangerous in her own right. The thought causes a shiver to run down Stiles' spine.

“You are important to me, Scott, but I’m still an Argent," she says roughly. “Until we come to an agreement between your pack and our family, I can’t see you.”

Scott whines low in his throat. He has been with Allison for years in this universe. Seeing her walk away because he chose to stand with his pack is devastating. Stiles is angry with her. He knows why she did it, and he almost understands. Seeing his pack member hurt, though, doesn't make it okay. He wants to grab her by the shoulders and make her understand that they aren't a threat and that she doesn't have to break Scott's heart like this. He reigns it in, though, as he watches in silence.

“But Allison—” he starts.

“We'll figure something out,” she whispers as her lips ghost over his cheek. "I love you. That hasn't changed, but I can't go against my family when you are siding with an Alpha we don't know or trust. It will be safer if we are apart until this is settled."

The unspoken 'if' hangs in the air. She doesn't spare a glance at Stiles and Derek. She doesn’t give Scott a chance to argue with her decision, either. She turns her back to them and walks confidently back into the gym, flashing Jackson and Lydia a reassuring smile as she passes.

The heart broken look on Scott’s face twists deep inside Stiles' heart. This Scott shouldn't know the pain of losing Allison in any way. He knows Scotts mind is playing over what happened in Stiles and Derek's universe, wondering if this is even an inkling of what having her die in his arms would have felt like. Wondering if maybe they weren't meant to be together like they had always thought.

Stiles hates that he has to go through this. He clutches Derek's wrist tightly, nodding in Scott's direction. Derek frowns as he, too, watches Scott gaze after Allison. He rubs at Scott's shoulder. Scott looks up at him with sad eyes. Derek offers him an encouraging grin. At least this Scott knows he has a pack to help him through it.

Stiles exhales loudly and leans back into Derek, knowing he will take care of the situation in time. Derek wraps one of his arms around Stiles’ chest. He pulls Scott in by the nape of his neck with his other one. Having each Stiles and Derek close helps Scott's shoulders loosen. Stiles pokes Scott in the ribs. The tension immediately drops out of them when Scott laughs, the sound lighter than expected.

Jackson and Lydia emerge from behind the gym doors, back in their street clothes. Stiles, Derek, and Scott break apart. Derek glances toward the woods, probably thinking about meeting up with Peter.

“I’ll be close by. Don’t hurt anyone,” he says with a smirk then saunters away.

Stiles watches Derek’s retreating form get smaller, but his attention is soon stolen.

“Was he talking to you or me?” Scott questions.

“I was about to ask the same thing,” Lydia says as she approaches, one eyebrow raised dangerously high. “Who was that beautiful man you were all over? And why were you arguing with Allison’s father?”

“That was Derek,” Stiles says. “He’s a friend.”

Jackson rolls his eyes. “Save it, Stilinski. I know about werewolves.”

“Well, isn’t that dandy? ”Stiles asks, sarcastically, unable to stop himself. Jackson and the supernatural don’t bring back any good memories for Stiles. It brings back visions of people being ripped apart—people who had babysat him lying in sticky pools of blood on the floor of the police station. "Have you been bitten, too? Did you go looking for it?"

He eyes Jackson with a narrowed gaze. Jackson shoves up into Stiles’ space. Stiles pushes him away, his body going rigid with anger. He vaguely notices the bell ringing to signal the beginning of their next class. Lydia pulls at Jackson's hand tugging him closer to her, away from Stiles.

“I wouldn’t get on his bad side,” she says, warningly.

Jackson jerks his hand from hers, heading back toward Stiles. He shoves Stiles back a couple of feet then gets up in his face again. Anger rolls off him in waves.

“If I want the bite, that is none of your business.”

Stiles throws his hands up, forcing Jackson away from him. “You know what? None of you understand just what it is you are getting involved in. Just because you are bitten by an Alpha that doesn’t mean that you will be turned into a werewolf. Your body could fight the bite and you could die, or you just might turn into something else entirely. It isn't shit you should be messing with.”

“Then why are you involved?” Jackson demands stepping right back into Stiles’ space, seemingly fearless of the rage in Stiles' eyes. Unaware of the damage Stiles could cause to him if pushed too far.

They’re nose to nose. Something within Stiles just snaps. He sees red. His hands begin to tremble. He shoves Jackson into the brick of the gymnasium wall with much more force than necessary. His head cracks against the wall, causing Jackson to gasp in pain. Stiles crowds in front of him, arms bracketing him in.

“Because no one in my pack ever had a choice!" He slaps his hand painfully against the rough brick. He lowers his voice, taking on a tone of danger. "I watched my best friend get bitten against his will. I watched him grow into the most amazing Alpha in damn near a hundred years. Then I watched him take a wolfsbane bullet to the brain along with almost everyone else I loved, including my father. Derek and I have been through hell and back. Don’t think I’m just going to stand idly around while you make a mess of the life you have a choice over. Especially if it threatens our pack.

"The bite can be a gift, but it isn't something you can seek out for personal gain. You need a pack to survive. As a werewolf you need protection from hunters and everything else that goes bump in the night, and believe me there are creatures in this world that would make you never want to close your eyes again if you saw them. If you want a family—”

Jackson stills and finally looks into Stiles’ eyes. Stiles powers on ahead.

“If you want people who are going to love you no matter what, no matter how stupid you can be, then stop being such an asshole. Start considering other people, or I guarantee it, Jackson, when you take that bite, you won't be a werewolf.”

“You can’t know that,” says Jackson, shakily.

“I've seen it happen.”

Fear flashes across Jackson face before it is replaced by cockiness once again. Scott places his hand firmly on Stiles’ shoulder. A warning to calm down. The gesture is almost shocking to Stiles. The Scott he knew would have been right there with him. Ready to knock some sense into Jackson. This isn't his Scott.

“Dude, back off. Derek is about to come back and drag you home,” he says softly.

Stiles pushes himself back from the wall and sighs.

“That probably isn’t a bad idea, but considering there is a rogue Alpha stalking the student population as we speak, I don’t see it being an option. I’m fine, Derek. I promise.”

Stiles glances over at Lydia. She is looking at Stiles with wide eyes, her lip trembling. She has one hand resting over her side and another over her mouth to muffle the sob. He knows that look; he's seen it before.

Fuck, thinks Stiles, she doesn’t look good.

He holds up his hands and looks up to the sky, silently cursing their luck. He looks back to Lydia tears dripping from her cheeks. Jackson narrows his eyes at her. Realization dawns upon him.

“You? You were bitten?” he asks anger lacing his voice.

“Jackson,” Stiles all but growls at him.

Behind him he hears Scott frantically yelling in the direction Derek left for him to come back, but Stiles can't be bothered to care. He curls his hands into fists. His magic flares underneath his skin, and it throws Jackson up against the bricks again.

Then Derek is there, arms wrapping around his torso and pulling Stiles tight to his chest. His lips brush the shell of Stiles’ ear. He murmurs soothingly, desperate to calm Stiles before he does anymore damage.

“Calm down. You don’t want to hurt him. Pull it back.”

Stiles goes limp in his arms. His magic seeps back down into his bones, and he feels the calm of being with his pack wash over him. This must have been what Derek had been searching for after he killed Peter. The feel of knowing that someone is always going to be there for you. Not because they have to be but because they care. When Derek pulls away from him just a moment later, he feels cold in the absence of his touch.

“Come on. We need to move this conversation somewhere more private,” Derek says as he tugs them toward the lacrosse field. “The field will be empty, right?”

“Yeah,” Scott says, and he gives Jackson a shove in the right direction.

Lydia walks close to Stiles and Derek but doesn’t dare to look at either of them until they are standing behind the bleachers.

"How the fuck did you do that?" Jackson spits at Stiles.

Derek narrows his eyes at him. Stiles rolls his eyes not bothering to answer him. Jackson immediately backs down with a huff. Lydia sniffs next to them and Derek nods at her side. She hesitates for a moment steeling herself for their reactions.

Slowly, she lifts up the hem of her v-neck revealing bloody bandage sitting just above her hip. Derek carefully pulls back the gauze, revealing a jagged bite. Dark clots of blood dot across it, the skin puckered at the edge where the Alpha had jerked to hard when pulling away. There is still a little blood oozing from the edges, but it isn't infected. It is gruesome, and it will scar, and Lydia is going to hate it, but she isn't going to turn.

Derek gently puts the bandage back in place, and gives her one of his rare smiles. Stiles is jealous for a second, but realizes that is ridiculous. Derek's smiles don't belong to him.

“You aren’t going to turn into a wolf, but your body isn’t fighting the change,” Derek says. “I’ll look into your family history and see what I can find. Sometimes the bite of an Alpha will bring out dormant supernatural traits.”

“Like what?” she asks suspiciously.

“The possibilities are endless really." Stiles catches Derek's eyes for a quick moment. "Keep in touch with us. Let us know about any strange dreams or hallucinations. We can help you if you let us.”

Lydia looks between him and Derek. Stiles can smell fear leaking from her every pore. His heart clenches. She shouldn't have to deal with this, and he hates that she does. He can only hope that her knowing from the beginning will smooth over the transition this time. He won't let her suffer alone in the dark.

“What if the Alpha comes back for me?” she asks in a whisper, the tears making another appearance.

Derek shakes his head. “It wants wolves. Your scent will reflect that the bite didn’t take. It will avoid you, but if you need us, we are staying with the Sheriff for now. You are welcome to drop in anytime. Make sure you get our numbers from Scott so that you can call too."

Lydia stares at him for a moment. Taken aback by the offer. "I—thank you."

"I’ll let Talia know you have been bitten, but, Lydia, do not tell Allison about this.”

Scott whines low in his throat. Derek shoots him an apologetic glance. Stiles knows Derek doesn't want Scott to resent him for the rift between him and Allison. That had been one of the reasons they hadn't gotten along in their universe.

“I’m not saying not to trust Allison, but it will put her in a hard position,” Derek clarifies, glancing briefly at Scott before resting his attention on Lydia. “She is a hunter, and no hunter likes the unknown, especially her family. She has enough stress to deal with right now with Scott joining a pack they have no treaty with. If you wish, I will declare you part of my pack publically. That will put you under our protection, werewolf or no, if they found out about the bite. Just come to the Sheriff’s home this afternoon if that is what you want.”

Lydia almost seems at a loss for words, but she nods. “I'll consider it. Thank you.”

“You are protecting Allison?” Scott asks, dumbfounded.

“You obviously care for her a great deal,” Derek says. “That makes her important to the pack. I won’t forbid you from seeing her, and I’ll try and talk with Chris and her mother about your relationship.”

Scott looks down at his feet. Stiles can tell this isn't something he likes talking about. It must be something Allison hated to talk about. It makes Stiles curious to know what it is about the Argents in this universe that he and Derek don't know about.

“Her mom died when she was younger. She doesn’t talk about it much, and I haven't felt comfortable prying.”

Stiles doesn’t let it show, but he relaxes at the thought of the woman not being around in this universe. She had always been a little off her rocker in his opinion.

“Then I will speak with Chris. You are my beta, Scott. You won’t be safe if your are sneaking around. None of you will, and I want you safe.”

Jackson snorts in disbelief, forgetting he is in the presence of an Alpha. Derek turns his crimson eyes on him again, and Jackson’s own eyes widen in fright. Derek advances on him. Jackson takes a step back, his back hitting the chilled metal of the bleachers. He knows he has nowhere to go if Derek attacks and that fear is written all over his face.

"I've been trying to ignore your behavior, because, like Allison, you are obviously important to Scott and Lydia, but let me make something clear," Derek says, quietly. He takes a step further into Jackson's space, eyes still alpha red, and puts them chest to chest. "I don't accept people into my pack who try and force their way in. If you want to be part of this pack, then I'm going to need you to prove to me that your presence in the pack would benefit it not harm it. I won't offer the bite to someone who could threaten the safety of my pack. Neither would any other sane Alpha, including Talia."

Jackson stares at him in disbelief but nods once. The red fades from Derek's eyes. He turns to Stiles.

"I'll see you later. Talia is switching out patrol with me, so I can get some business done. Keep Scott out of trouble."

Derek thumbs at the pulse point of Stiles' neck, watching with delight as he leans into the touch. He steps away from Stiles, patting Scott on the shoulder before heading toward the tree line.

Jackson starts making his way back to the school, his faced pinched tight in anger. Stiles can't bring himself to care. Scott shoots him a faint smile then hurries to catch up with Jackson. Stiles still finds it odd that he and Jackson are such good friends here. To Stiles, Jackson seems like the same douche from his universe. Scott must have a good reason for keeping him around.

"He is a good Alpha," Lydia says, softly. She stares after Derek, her expression thoughtful, and Stiles jumps at the sound of her voice. He hadn’t expected her to bother speaking to him. She grins slyly over at him. "He is very protective of you and Scott."

"I've known Derek for a long time. He is a good guy, and he’s lost a lot,” Stiles says. “Our pack was the second that has been taken from him."

"You mean…?" Lydia begins to ask, trailing off whenever words fail her. The grin fades from her lips.

"Derek is a born wolf. He lost his family to hunters before he met me—well, he lost all except his sister and psycho uncle."

"Has he always been an Alpha?"

"No. He was a beta when we first met. His sister was the alpha, but then their uncle killed her so that he could become Alpha and build a pack to take revenge on the hunters that killed their family. His uncle bit my friend, and that's how we met. Once Derek figured out his uncle was the one behind everything, he killed him,” Stiles says, and he pauses for a moment, caught up in his memories. “Things were hard in the beginning. I didn't trust him, and he didn't trust anyone, but, after a time, things fell into place, I guess. He learned how to be a part of a pack again."

"Then someone ripped it away."

Stiles nods. Derek could have reverted back to that broken shell of a person he had been when they first met, but he didn't. Maybe Scott didn't know for sure that Derek would handle being Alpha, but Stiles likes to think he did. Derek and Scott trusted each other in the end. They protected each other.

Stiles and Lydia start making their way back toward the school. He watches how this Lydia holds herself. She is still proud and as calculating as his ever was, but this Lydia seems to carry some humility. She doesn't hide how smart she is. She is clearly proud of it, from what Cora has told him. She walks beside him now, in heels like always, but doesn't seem to pretend to tower over everyone else like his Lydia had in the beginning.

Lydia leads him over to the track field, her hand resting lightly over her abdomen. She catches him looking and rolls her eyes.

"I'm not a china doll. I can handle a little pain," she says, primly.

Stiles doesn't say anything in response. He smiles at her instead. Silence envelopes them for a time as they take a detour to walk around the track. Lydia walks slower than normal, seemingly content to keep his company as her heels softly click against the clay. It isn't until halfway through the first lap that she breaks the silence.

"I never got to say goodbye," she says softly. "We had met that morning for coffee before class. He—Stiles—seemed fine. We picked up Scott and Allison before we met Jackson and Danny in the parking lot, and we went to class like we always did. Everything seemed perfectly normal, but then he was just—just gone."

Her voice breaks on the last word. They both stop walking, right in the middle of the track. She wipes the tears from her eyes. Stiles thinks that maybe he should say something, but he doesn’t know what that should be.

"Now, Scott is a werewolf, and Allison tells us that she is a hunter, and I've been bitten, and Jackson hates me—"

"Wow—wow—calm down. First of all, Jackson doesn't hate you. Jackson is a jealous idiot who should be slapped. Second, that gigantic run-on sentence hurts me deep down, right here," he says as he points to his chest with a crooked grin. She gives him a soft smiles and wipes at her eyes again. He lets his grin fade. It’s too hard to maintain. "Life is really screwed up sometimes, Lyds. It knocks you down, and it mortally wounds you, only to tell you the fight isn't over. If you’re strong enough, you'll pick yourself back up. You know what, though? You’re strong enough."

She stares at him for a long moment, looking for something he can't decipher. Stiles feels exposed. Then, all too soon, she flips her hair over her shoulder. There she is: the confident Lydia most alive in Stiles’ memory.

"You are entirely too philosophical for a senior in high school, Stilinski. I'll be at your place by six."

She takes off toward the school, leaving Stiles standing just a little bit in awe. He shakes his head. A smile splits his face as he follows her.

Chapter Text

Stiles is aching to be in Derek's comfortable presence once more. Preferably napping in it, but he would take what he could get at this point. All of the surprise visits throughout the day has him spoiled. There has been question after question, and one imploring look after the other since gym. Nothing would make Stiles happier at this moment then being able to burrow his nose into the long line of Derek's neck and just breathe.

Unfortunately, Derek isn't anywhere near, and instead, Stiles is surrounded by the Beacon Hills lacrosse team. To say he is cranky would be the understatement of this universe. The tenor of Jackson's voice as he jokes with Scott and Danny is grating on his last nerves as his magic crawls restlessly under his skin, setting him further on edge.

 It wouldn't take much to let the raw power wrap around Jackson's suffocating presence and snuff it out. He cannot bring himself to entertain the thought for long. Not when there is still the slightest bit of hope that Jackson could become some semblance of a decent person given time. He just hopes he can hold off long enough to give Jackson the chance. The situation isn't looking promising.

"So, Stilinski," Danny says, snatching his attention away from Jackson's voice.

Danny is leering at Stiles' bare chest. A fast forming habit, Stiles has begun to notice. He glances over to Scott who is rubbing at the bridge of his nose, seemingly stressed.

"Sup, Danny?" Stiles asks as he turns back to his locker for his jersey.

"How much experience do you have?"

Next to them, Scott has apparently choked on his own spit. Stiles looks at him with a furrowed brow as Jackson helpfully slaps him on the back with a fond smile.

Stiles looks back to Danny, dismissing Scott's near inability to exist, "I've played since freshman year with guys a lot tougher than this. I'm sure I can keep up."

"We'll see about that," Danny says with a smirk as his eyes travel further down Stiles' chest.

Scott slaps the back of Danny's head with perhaps too much force and seems to ignore the wince on Danny's chastised face.

"Dude, seriously!" Scott stresses. "If you keep this up we're going to be short a player."

Stiles rolls his eyes and pulls on his jersey, ignoring Danny's cackle. The attention is odd, and Stiles isn't quite sure he likes it. It feels wrong and makes his longing for Derek worse. He quickly pulls on his clothes and searches the room for a familiar face. Isaac is a few lockers down, attempting to keep to himself as much as possible. Stiles slams his locker shut and side steps around Danny, avoiding his wandering hands.

Stiles approaches with a warm smile. Isaac pulls his jersey on as quickly as he can, but it doesn't stop Stiles from seeing the bruises. The sight of them surprises him for a moment. Stiles had never seen Isaac's body up close before he was turned. Never seen the damage obviously done by his father. Never really bothered to pay much attention to Isaac at all. Although, who is to say that the Isaac of this universe doesn't have it much worse.

"I know I said we would go over self-defense after practice, but we have a little time before practice starts," Stiles says. "You want to head on out to the field? I can show you a couple of moves and then we can really get into things back at the house."

Isaac's brows raise and his lips tilt up just ever so much as he nods. Stiles leads them out of the locker room and to the field, happy to leave the presence of Jackson's annoying voice. The longer they walk the more anxious Isaac becomes. The smell is acrid and Stiles is wondering what could cause such a massive amount of anxiety in such a short time. Part of his understands Isaac's suspicion. The way he just showed up in inserted himself into Isaac's life. He gets it. This Isaac doesn't have the confidence of werewolf strength to hide behind. He's just human.  

They stop a few feet from the bleachers. Stiles sees Erica not too far away and gives her a wave. She returns the gesture with a wave of her own followed by a shy smile that warms Stiles' heart. Cora isn't too far away from her and she catches Stiles' eye. She is smiling, something akin to approval flashing across her face. Stiles watches as she picks up her books and moves to sit next to Erica.

"You're friends with Erica Reyes?" Isaac asks.

Stiles turns his attention back to Isaac and raises a brow. His tone is defensive and his scent has sharpened.

"She's my gym buddy. Why would we not be friends?"

"It's just you're...you're..."

 Stiles watches him closely. Isaac's brows furrow and he looks like he just tried to eat a lemon. His anxiety is peaking, the scent sour in Stiles' nose.

"I'm what?" he prods.

"You–you're better than us! You're a senior, you're friends with Scott McCall and Lydia Martin. What do you want with people like me and Erica? The freak and the punching bag. I don't get it. What's your end game?"

Stiles rubs at his temples.

 "There is no end game. Isaac, I am friends with Erica because she is smart, sweet, funny, and damn beautiful if I do say so myself. She is the Catwoman to my Batman. I don't really care what idiotic assholes say about her epilepsy. She doesn't have any control over that. Just like you can't control who beats the shit out of you. It isn't your fault." Isaac gives him a look of disbelief. "Don't you even dare, Isaac. I know you haven't done anything to provoke anyone." 

"You don't know that."

Stiles doesn't even bother to use words to counter Isaac's. He just simply stares at him as if he is mentally challenged.  Isaac seems to decipher the look fairly quickly.

"I'm friends with you because I like you and that is all that really matters. If anybody has a problem with that they can take it up with me. Be honest. Do I seem like the kind of guy who gives a shit what people think about me, or who I choose to be part of my life?"

Isaac shrugs.

"I met the both of you only hours ago, but I know we will be great friends if you can bring yourself to trust me. Besides, you and Erica are by far my favorites out of everyone I've come into contact with today."

Isaac smiles slightly at the admission. He still seems slightly skeptical, but he doesn't bother to protest anymore. Stiles doesn't blame him for being suspicious. He probably would be too in Isaac's position. If Erica hadn't had his magic wrapped around her earlier she might be asking the same questions.

"If you're done questioning my motives then let's get this show on the road. I'm going to teach you something basic," Stiles says. "When I turn my back to you I want you to grab hold of my wrist and hold as tight as you can. Plant your feet and don't worry about bruising my wrist okay?"

Isaac nods, brows drawn together in concentration. Stiles turns to walk away and Isaac's long fingers wrap tightly around his wrist. Stiles whips around and twists his wrist from Isaac's grip, and follows straight through with his other hand palm up to thrust into Isaac's nose, but stops millimeters away. Isaac's eyes are crossed as they stare at his hand in surprise.

"How did you do that?" he looks at Stiles with wide eyes.

"Like that one huh? C'mon, again, only slower. Watch."

They repeat the move several times until Isaac feels comfortable enough to do it on his own. Once he gets the hang of it a smile stretches across his face. He is standing taller and more confident just by learning one move. Stiles loves that he is putting stock in himself as a human.

"Okay, so now you know how to handle someone jerking you around, but what if I go in for a punch?" Stiles asks. "This is where you need to be quick."

The students in the bleachers have migrated closer to watch the lesson. Stiles doesn't mind. The techniques he is using are great for everyday assailants. Stiles straightens his shoulders and motions for Isaac to come at him. Isaac lunges with his fist headed toward Stiles' face, but Stiles intercepts the punch with his forearm smacking against the bicep of Isaac's striking arm. He grabs the back of Isaac's neck and makes a motion to knee him in the face but stops again just in time.

"This one's a bit trickier but very useful. Your attacker nurses a broken nose, you make your escape," Stiles says.

"How did you learn all of this?" Questions Isaac as he tries to copy Stile's movements.

Stiles' face grows somber and his voice lowers ever so slightly.

"My neck of the woods was pretty dangerous, but I had some amazing friends there. They taught me how to protect myself and how to teach others."

If Isaac takes note of the sadness in Stile's face he doesn't say anything and they continue on with their lesson. Teaching Isaac is calming. His magic is content to linger happily in his bones as he guides Isaac through the moves. He watches Isaac's long limbs, clumsy, and awkward as he attempts to copy Stiles' movements. The thought of watching them become sure and fluid as his confidence in his human side grows is addictive.

As Stiles watches Isaac walk himself through the movements on his own he notices Jackson and Danny making their way to the field. Scott isn't far behind with a couple other players, but they still have a few minutes before the practice begins.

"Stilinski," Jackson calls with an eye roll. "What the hell are you doing?"

Stiles straightens his shoulders and narrows his eyes as Jackson approaches.

"Teaching Isaac how to bake," he replies, sarcastically.

Jackson has an ugly sneer on his face and Danny looks worried. Stiles knows that Danny isn't stupid. He realizes that Jackson is skating on thin ice with Stiles, and it is only a matter of time before Stiles loses his patience. He stands at Jackson's back but gives both Stiles and Isaac an apologetic grimace.

"What makes you think you can teach this loser anything?" Jackson asks, a smug grin fitting over his face as Isaac lowers his eyes.

Stiles' magic whips around him angrily. It is almost a tangible thing when he is this angry. Derek describes it like a charged wave that makes your pulse beat quicker and your hair stand on end. It insights fear. Deaton tells him it is because it is raw, all unleashed at once when the ritual was performed, and that it will settle over time.

Stiles knows Danny and Jackson can both feel it when the wave hits. Jackson tenses up, and Danny's brows raise in surprise. Danny takes a step back calling for Scott who has already felt the shift by the way he is running toward them. Stiles gets up into Jackson's space, his eyes narrowed into slits. His voice is low a dangerous.

"I know you're looking for a fight, Jackson. What I don't understand is why Isaac. What has he ever done to you?"

"What makes you think I have to explain myself to you?" Jackson counters, his voice strained.

Scott fits himself between them, pushing Jackson away from Stiles. Danny seems to get the message and corrals Jackson over to the other players on the field. Stiles is taking deep calming breaths when he feels Isaac's hand on his shoulder. He jumps a little bit in surprise at the touch and turns to face Isaac with a forced smile.

"You didn't have to defend me. Jackson just has some shit going on. I'm an easy outlet I guess," Isaac says quietly.

"Are you seriously trying to defend him right now?" Stiles asks incredulously.

Isaac shrugs and kicks at the ground. "He didn't use to be like this. I mean he has always been sort of jerky, but he never went out of his way to torment people. Not since Stiles–well, you know..."

Stiles rubs at the bridge of his nose and concentrates on the feeling of his magic slowly seeping back into his bones. When he looks at Isaac again he is looking across the field at Jackson.

"I think your cousin's death really screwed with him. Before Stiles' died he was fine. We weren't friends or anything, but if–well, he's my neighbor. If I ever needed anything he helped me out."

Stiles is taken aback by Isaac's words and he knows the surprise shows on his face. It's clear Isaac doesn't know Stiles is aware of his home situation, but it doesn't matter. He couldn't picture Jackson coming to Isaac's rescue, and he certainly didn't think Scott was aware of this.

"Isaac, I understand grief better than most people. It doesn't justify his actions toward you, man. It doesn't. If he had your back in the past he should have it now."

"Maybe, but like I said, Jackson isn't a bad guy. You can't be friends with Scott McCall and be a bad person. I think it's against the laws of nature or something." Stiles smiles. "I think–I think that this is how Jackson deals with grief, and if being an outlet is what he needs then I guess that's what I'll do."

"Isaac you are not Jackson Whitmore's punching bag no matter how much grief his is dealing with. If he was as good of a person as you say he wouldn't deal with his grief like this."

"Maybe he just needs someone to teach him that."

'Maybe he does,' Stiles thinks.

Stiles feels some of the tension drain out of his body as he and Isaac walk onto the field. Derek's presence is close. Sure enough, by the time Coach has blown the first whistle Derek is sitting in the stands with Cora and a blushing Erica. Derek finds his gaze, and waves with a genuine grin. Stiles can't imagine any of this without him. He lets some of the magic wrapped around Erica extend to Derek. Maybe, with Derek so close he can make it through practice without committing murder.

That hope is quickly dashed when Jackson goes out of his way to tackle Isaac after the first whistle. Stiles begins to doubt even Derek can keep him from ripping Jackson apart by the end of this. He looks to Scott who seems to feel the unease on the field. Scott knows Isaac is meant to be a part of the pack and he feels just as protective over Isaac as Stiles.

Stiles' anger is mounting to all new levels of 'pissed as hell' when he helps Isaac up from the ground for the fourth time after he has been body-checked by Jackson. When Jackson isn't trying to take Stiles down he is all over Isaac, who has started to limp after the last hit. He knows Derek can sense his anger. Hell, the rest of the field can sense it.

Stiles can see Erica and Derek sitting with identical frowns on their faces. Lydia and Allison are centered right behind the practice benches with similar looks of worry plastered across their features. Coach seems to be reveling in the violence as usual, but even Stiles can sense layer of concern under the amusement.

Isaac is wincing as they make their way back to starting positions. Stiles doesn't know how much longer he can let Jackson go unchecked. He looks over to Scott. Stiles can see his pinched expression behind his helmet. If Jackson body checks Isaac again it will injure him enough to keep him out of practice. That means more time that Isaac has to spend with his father. Stiles refuses to let that happen.

He can sense the anger coming off Jackson in waves as he passes. Jackson knows he can't take down Stiles and retain his dignity. Isaac in the next best outlet. What he doesn't realize is that Stiles has a very short fuse when it comes to these things. If Stiles really wants to he can take Jackson out for the rest of the season. Permanently, if he loses control.

Coach is looking at them in something of confusion, but Stiles can't really understand how he can be confused as to what is going on right now. It just pisses him off more. Stiles gives Isaac's shoulder a quick squeeze and gets back into position. He is focused solely on Jackson, who seems to be doing the same to Isaac.

The coach calls out commands that Stiles doesn't bother to listen to because he knows exactly where this is headed. He can see the confirmation in Jackson's eyes as he looks determinedly at Isaac. Stiles is not going to let Isaac be checked again. No way in hell.

The whistle blows shrill in his ears. Jackson heads straight for Isaac and Stiles goes for Jackson. Some of their teammates stop when they realize what is about to happen, but Stiles doesn't care. All he cares about is getting to Jackson before he can take Isaac down. Out of the corner of his eyes, he can see Derek charging onto the field, but even if Derek could use his alpha speed he wouldn't reach Stiles before he gets to Jackson.

When Stiles slams into his side, Jackson goes down hard. They roll a few feet, Jackson struggling to get the upper hand on Stiles. Blades of grass and dirt fly into the air as they both yank off their helmets and scramble to their feet. Jackson comes at Stiles grass stained and sweating, but Stiles is one step ahead of him. When Jackson swings Stiles ducks and spears him to the ground, causing Jackson to grunt in pain. Stiles rears up and just as he is about to swing down to land a punch to Jackson's face Derek grabs his arm and pulls him up.

Stiles is still struggling to get to Jackson as Derek wraps both arms around his torso and squeezes tight from behind. Derek's lips are at his ear mumbling words that Stiles can't quite make out through his rage as he watches Scott manhandle Jackson several feet away.

Eventually, Derek's words become clear. Stiles relaxes into Derek's chest, his eyes closing as his hands come up to rest on Derek's arms as he pants heavily.

"He was going for Isaac and I couldn't–" he starts.

"I know." Derek's hold tightens and he rests his forehead on Stiles' temple. "I probably would have done worse. Just, calm down. Your magic is everywhere."

Stiles turns a bit and presses his forehead to Derek's. Magic crackles through the air like static, and the scent of ozone is strong.

"I can't pull it back."

"Just breathe. You can do it. Use me, use the pack."

Derek holds him tighter and Stiles takes in several deep breaths. His magic finally starts to settle, content to wrap around the two closest, Derek and Isaac, for the time being. He hears a surprised intake of breath from Isaac, but he can't address it now.

When Stiles manages to pull away from Derek, He realizes that most everyone has left the field with the exception of a few. Coach stands not too far away with a surprised look on his face but doesn't interrupt the scene unfolding before them.

"What the hell is your problem, Jackson?!" Scott asks as he shoves Jackson further back from his pack. "I get that your pissed, but stop trying to take it out on Isaac! He hasn't done anything. Your problem is with Stilinski. Which is stupid."

"You're taking Stilinski's side, Scott? You saw him tackle me. He started the fight!"

Scott lowers his voice and Stiles has to strain to hear him. "Stilinski is part– is a friend, and you're being a dick! As your friend, it is my job to remind you when you're being a dick."

"Don't," Jackson says fiercely. "Don't take their side when they're convinced that I'm a self-absorbed jerk, Scott. You know me. I'm one of your best friends!"

"You haven't really given them any reasons to think otherwise! You're not acting like you anymore." Scott's voice softens, "Just because Stiles is gone doesn't mean you are allowed to break your promises to him."

Jackson looks as if Scott punched him.

"We also promised each other that we would watch out for you! But he's gone! He left me here on my own, and I can't keep that promise if I'm hum–weak!" Jackson's voice is loud enough that he knows Isaac caught the stumble. He avoids looking in his direction.

"If you would have just told them that instead of acting like a big jerk things would have gone a lot smoother. But no! You had to go and just be a dick! I was ready to tackle you, Jackson," Scott says and Jackson's eyes snap back to him. Surprise and hurt flashing before anger takes their place.

"Every time you checked Isaac I felt like you were attacking me. Imagine how Stilinski felt since he knew you were doing it because you couldn't get to him. I'm your friend, Jackson, one of your best friends, but you can't expect me to take your side when you're wrong, and you were wrong to go after Isaac when it is Stilinski you have the problem with. A problem that could have easily been avoided."

Stiles expects Jackson to fire back with a nasty comment or tackle Scott but he doesn't. He doesn't do anything Stiles expects him to do. Instead, Stiles watches in awe as Jackson drops his mask. The grief he has been avoiding finally showing in his eyes. He watches Jackson clutch at the black strip of fabric resting under the yellow captain's band on his arm.

Scott pulls Jackson into his arms and Stiles is even more shocked to watch him clutch Scott with every bit of strength he has in return. Danny wraps his arms around Jackson from behind. The picture it makes is foreign to Stiles, but the players and spectators in the stands quieten as they watch.

"It isn't fair, Scott," Jackson mumbles into his shoulder. "He is supposed to be here on the field with us. He supposed to keep Lydia from hating me. He is supposed to be here and he isn't! Why should I keep the promises I made to him if he broke all of his when he left us here?"

"Jesus, Jackson," Scott says, his voice wet with tears. "He didn't leave us on purpose. He wouldn't if he had had a choice. I get that you're angry but, dude–he wouldn't want this. He wouldn't want you hurting people. Not Isaac, and not Stilinski. Especially not Isaac."

 Jackson clutches tighter at Scott. "He was our best friend, man, and now he's gone and I can't–I can't, Scott. He held us all together."

Stiles winces. He can't help it. He thought Lydia's grief would be the hardest to deal with, but he was wrong. He leans further into Derek's side and glances over at Isaac who isn't watching Scott and Jackson, but him.

Stiles knows his emotions are all over his face. He had assumed that Jackson was just like the one from his own universe. He knows now that he was wrong. Jackson is not the same. He is just as different as the others, maybe even more so. The truth of it is shocking and if Derek's arms weren't wrapped so tightly around him he would be falling to his knees, the weight of the truth pulling him down.

  Isaac raises an eyebrow. Derek tugs Stiles toward the sidelines, one arm still wrapped firmly around his waist. Erica is waiting with a worried expression, her books cradled tightly to her chest. Coach meets them halfway and lays a hand on Stiles' shoulder.

"I'm letting it go just this once because I've been waiting for this moment. The kid has been about to break for weeks."

It isn't until the coach says the words that it dawns on Stiles. They are kids. Jackson, Scott, Lydia, all of them. They are all just kids recently touched by loss. None of them know grief as well as him and Derek. He hopes that none of them ever have to face the things they faced. The loss, the fear, and utter heartwrenching sadness of it all. No, Stiles hopes he can keep all of them kids for as long as possible. 

Coach looks Derek up and down. "Do you go to school here?"

Derek frowns. "No."

"Damn, you would have made a hell of a player." Coach slaps Stiles on the back. "I can't deal with all these emotions. Practice is over for the day," he says.

The relief after the announcement is nearly a tangible thing as everyone makes there way off the field. Isaac follows behind Stiles and Derek quietly and stands next to Erica once they reach the sidelines.

Looking at them now, standing so awkwardly next to each other, makes the memory of them in leather jackets and black seem like a strange dream. Derek gives Stiles' waist one more squeeze before letting go.

"Isaac, this is Derek Hale," Stiles says sheepishly.

Derek extends his hand. He doesn't smile, but Derek doesn't smile for anyone except Stiles nowadays. Isaac seems to welcome the gesture all the same.

"Are you related to Cora?" Isaac asks.

Jackson passes them not saying a word. He is walking toward the locker rooms, a calmer presence surrounding him.

"Distantly," Derek replies as Scott approaches with a sheepish Danny in toe.

Derek posture stiffens immediately. Stiles fits himself firmly to Derek's side without thinking. Derek's arm wraps around his waist tighter than normal as he glares at Danny.

"Uh–Danny this is Derek. Derek this is Danny, who is harmless." Stiles turns a little more into Derek's hold to whisper into his ear. "Pretend to be harmless and turn off the Alpha glare. I can smell his fear from here."

"Good," Derek grumbles none too quietly, "he should be scared."

"I–didn't know that–" Danny starts as he looks worriedly between Derek and Stiles.

"Now you do," Derek bites out.

Stiles looks between the two of them. Confusion takes over his brain, and instead of questioning the exchange he lets it go. Danny's heart is beating like a rabbit and Derek is holding him tight enough to bruise a normal human.

Scott slaps a hand on Danny's shoulder with a whispered, "I tried to tell you, man."

Cora steps up to them with a bright smile.

"It was nice getting to know you, Erica," she says, "But I have to be getting home. I promised Laura that I would help her and mom with a few things. I'll see you guys tomorrow."

She heads off toward the parking lot where Stiles can hear the rumble of the Camero's engine. Scott and Isaac don't do anything more than wave before making their way after Jackson.  Derek's hold on him loosens as Danny and Scott leave. Stiles traces his fingers over the tattoo between Derek's shoulder blades and smiles when some of his tension melts away from Derek's body.

"Well," remarks Stiles, "Let's get going. Derek and I have some explaining to do. Besides, Isaac has to tell us exactly when it was that he fell in love with Jackson."