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Set the Sun, Rise the Moon

Chapter Text

When his vision clears and Stiles can breathe again, it doesn't make anything better. Because with the air he pulls in, he can smell the blood. He can see it, too. He can see…

"Dad?" he asks, quiet and horrified. "DAD!"

His father is still alive — breath shallow, heartbeat weak.

Stiles shakes his head, trying to deny it, but he catches a glimpse of his hands, still clawed, red and slick with his father's blood.

"No," he says, then scrambles for a phone. He dials 911 and tells the operator he needs an ambulance. The Sheriff needs an ambulance.

What's the emergency?

"He's bleeding. He's… Oh, god, Dad!"

His father's eyes are open but unfocused. Like he can't really see, or maybe he's just so fucking traumatized from his son's attack.

It wasn't supposed to be like this. Stiles came home after being bitten because he thought he'd feel safe. Less likely to freak out, because freaking out in public wouldn't have been good. And his dad wasn't supposed to be there, had mentioned sleeping down at the station for the whole weekend. There's so much happening lately and his dad is overworking himself, and the county is understaffed and the violent crime rate is at an all-time high.

It was supposed to be the safest option.

Stiles fell asleep when he got home, after a quick shower and change of clothes, but before he even had time to call anyone who might have helped him. He knew there were things to sort through, a timeline to figure out, but his body and mind were just so heavy, so desperately in need of rest. He remembers thinking he'd call Scott or Derek when he woke up.

But instead, he woke to his dad shaking his shoulder. Stiles remembered immediately, his senses coming online all at once, and he tried to calmly wave his dad off as he grabbed a pair of jeans. As soon as he had them on, he rushed downstairs, but his father was blocking the exit, demanding answers.

The new, unfamiliar thing inside him woke at the same time, and between that and the realization, everything crashed together like a tidal wave over his mind. His senses bombarded him with too much input, and he started to panic…

The emergency operator tells him to stay on the line, that help is on the way, and Stiles doesn't want to hurt anyone else so he hangs up. He leaves the front door wide open. The EMTs will have no problem getting in, though he's not really thinking about that at the moment.

He runs.

He probably should have cleaned up a little bit, but no one can blame him for not thinking clearly. He's lucky he wasn't spotted between his house and Derek's. If one of his dad's deputies saw him, there's no end to the trouble it would bring.

Derek takes one look at the blood on Stiles and the way his hands are still transformed into claws — he can't make them go away — and says, "What happened? What did you do?"

And Stiles just stands there because there's only one answer to that and he doesn't want to say those words. He looks at Derek, thinking, Help me, please, make it better, but he doesn't think Derek can. Not really.

Derek must not like his lack of response, because he snarls and moves closer, like he's about to grab Stiles and throw him around.

Well, Stiles deserves it, doesn't he? He's not going to stop him. Hell, maybe it's best if Derek kills him.

Put the dangerous monster down.

"That's not your blood," Derek growls.

Stiles flinches more from the truth in the words than the imminent threat of violence.

But then Peter just seems to appear, slotting himself between Derek and Stiles, like he's trying to protect him, and speaks sharply. "Derek, back away."

Stiles has no idea how to interpret that, and he can't see what Peter's face is doing, but his body language is hostile to Derek. He takes a step back so that he's closer to Stiles. He extends a hand behind him, like stay there and it's okay.

It shouldn't calm him but it does. As long as he doesn't think about—

He makes a sound that's mostly wounded animal and after one more angry glare is sent his way, Derek turns around and leaves the room. Leaves Stiles with Peter.

Peter turns around and reaches for his hands, no, his wrists. But the grip is barely there, just enough so that he can pull Stiles toward the bathroom. Stiles looks up and meets his eyes, sees something there that looks like understanding. It's too much and Stiles has to look away again. He lets Peter lead him, though. Like he's helpless to do anything more.

"Let's get you cleaned up," Peter says, matter-of-fact.

Stiles stays silent until Peter starts the shower and motions Stiles to take his clothes off.

"You being a creep or destroying evidence?" Stiles asks dully.

"I can't do both?" Peter asks with a faux lightness Stiles can appreciate.

"Multitasker, huh?" Stiles mutters, and takes his clothes off as quick as he can, distantly realizing he doesn't have to remove his shoes first because he apparently ran all the way over in his bare feet. The fabric sticks to his skin in places, especially the denim at his knees from kneeling over his dad, in all that blood, once he came back from his panic attack.

Peter looks at him, mouth twitching up at one corner into a humorless smile. Stiles feels too numb to attempt a smile in return.

"When were you bitten?" Peter asks him after pulling his own shirt off over his head. Stiles stares at the wall behind Peter's head and shrugs.

"I don't remember anything between when I told Scott I was leaving our one-on-one practice Friday night and then waking up at dawn on the Lacrosse field this morning, knowing I'd been bitten and wanting to go home." Then his words twist bitterly, "Because it was safe."

Peter looks at him for a long moment, then guides him into the shower, under the spray. He pauses for a moment to check something at the back of Stiles's neck. Stiles winces even though it doesn't hurt, prompting a thoughtful noise from Peter.

He doesn't say what he's thinking, but he cleans Stiles off, scrubs him down with a washcloth and shower gel. Stiles feels a part of himself preen under the attention and is confused. This is definitely not the time to be feeling good about anything.

He opens his eyes and is about to tell Peter to stop when Peter says, "Your eyes are shining. Gold, not blue."


"You haven't killed," Peter says.

Stiles's breath catches. "What?"

"You hurt someone, an innocent or you wouldn't reek of guilt the way you do, but they aren't dead. I promise." And for the first time ever, Stiles finds himself desperate to trust in the word of Peter Hale.

"He wasn't supposed to come home," Stiles whispers. He knows Peter can hear him even with the shower running. "He woke me up and I remembered and I panicked…"

"Your father," Peter says, and it's not a question.

"I tried to leave the house. I remember thinking it was too dangerous and my control is nonexistent, so I…"

Stiles makes a hurt sound because breathing seems too painful right now.

"I shouldn't have stopped to pull on my jeans, but it gave him time to get downstairs and he was blocking the door, telling me I couldn't leave because I'd been missing and he wanted to know what happened to me and then… I freaked out over feeling trapped. I had a full-blown panic attack and when I came out of it, he was lying on the floor and there was so much blood," Stiles tells him, and then it doesn't just hurt to breathe, he can't breathe at all, it's just like before, and he can feel his claws dig into Peter's shoulders and he doesn't want to hurt him, doesn't want to hurt anyone at the moment, but he can't let go. His claws are locked deep in Peter's flesh and Stiles is making noise, high-pitched whines and snarls and god, he can't stop.

Peter doesn't flinch or push him away. Instead, bafflingly, he actually pulls Stiles closer, holds on to him, and the acceptance and lack of fear in the embrace lets the panic drain away.

Stiles ends up sitting in Peter's lap on the floor of the shower, gasping injured sounds into his neck and clinging like he's the only thing keeping him together.

Chapter Text

Once Stiles is toweled down and wearing dry clothes (they smell like Peter and that's so much better than smelling like his dad's blood), he's mostly calmed. He's not sure what to do next, though. He doesn't think he hides the relief he feels when Peter doesn't give him any pesky choices, just tells him what's going to happen next. Thankfully, it's nothing to argue with anyway, because Stiles doesn't think he has the strength.

Stiles is led to the passenger seat of an unfamiliar car with a familiar scent. He tries not to think of how his sense of smell has improved so much or how he kinda likes the way Peter smells. He doesn't want to brood on the species change at the moment. He just rides in the car quietly as Peter drives them downtown. He should probably ask where they're going. He doesn't.

Maybe he has a death wish. He would jump to that explanation for the way he's trusting Peter, except Peter hasn't shown any sign of deception. Not that Stiles is really looking. He's not doing much of anything at the moment other than trying to stay in his numb, unthinking state, which is not a thing he's very good at with the way his brain goes off in directions he wishes it wouldn't.

Stiles blinks and he's sitting on a couch, looking up at Peter, who is helping him wrap his hands around a warm mug. He doesn't remember getting out of the car or walking inside. Is he losing time? Dissociating? Is Peter fucking with his head?

He's too exhausted to worry.

"We're in my apartment," Peter tells him before he can ask. Stiles bobs his head and takes a sip of whatever's in the mug. Coffee, sweet and creamy. Peter frowns, probably at Stiles's lack of reaction, and takes something out of his pocket. Oh, it's a phone. "Your father is going to be fine."

Suddenly, Stiles feels a lot less asleep. Less numb. He feels the world come back into focus all at once. He looks at the mug in his hand and lowers it to the coffee table. "How?"

"He needed some stitches but no major surgery, and about two pints of blood. He got help in time, Stiles," Peter tells him, meeting his eyes the whole time. "You saved his life when you called it in."

"I wouldn't have had to-" Stiles begins.

"Stop," Peter says, and moves his hands over Stiles's own. Without realizing, Stiles had his claws out again, piercing his own palms. Peter gently pulls them away from the flesh as he goes on. "It is not your fault you were Bitten, and you are too new and too close to the full moon to expect to have any real control over your actions, especially in a panic situation."

"But I know that," Stiles says, feeling the guilt and distress roll over him again even stronger. "I should have known better than to go home. I should have gone straight to- Derek, I guess." He makes a face, not liking the idea of Derek being his Alpha, but also knowing he doesn't have much of a choice. Scott may be naive enough to think he can get by without a pack and an Alpha, but Stiles knows that's mostly Scott's authority problems speaking, really. He also knows it's dangerous. Over-quoted fantasy series aside, nothing Stiles has seen in the hundred days or so since the night in the woods with Scott has shown him "the lone wolf dies but the pack survives" is anything but brutal reality.

"Don't think about Derek right now," Peter advises. His voice is very neutral sounding, but something in the air, a scent maybe, makes Stiles look closer at him.

"Because I have you, so I don't need an Alpha?" Stiles asks dryly.

Peter stills completely. Stiles didn't realize Peter was stroking gentle fingertips against his bloody hands to keep him calm until that stopped, too.

Stiles looks up, focuses on Peter's face. On his eyes, which are showing things Stiles can't identify because it's too much, too tangled. Hope, maybe. Hunger. It doesn't make sense. "What?" Stiles prompts.

"You do have me," Peter says, like that even makes sense. "If that's something you want."

Stiles moves away quickly, a snarl on his lips. Anger, that Peter is probably manipulating him, offering lies he thinks Stiles might want to hear. Confusion, because he's not certain that's what Peter's doing at all. He can't think of how to respond, except to say, "You are not going to be my Alpha."

More confusion when that only makes Peter flash a pleased smile. "No, I don't suppose I will be," he says.

Stiles wants to see his dad in the hospital, but he's too afraid. He has no way to control himself yet. Peter's the only one he trusts himself to be around.

"Well, if I gut you accidentally, it's no big loss, right?" Stiles says with a saccharine smile.

Peter snorts as if he knows Stiles doesn't really mean it. "I'm taking the return of your charming personality as a good sign." He offers Stiles his phone. "Do you want to call anyone?"

"Who'd you talk to before?" Stiles asks as he takes it and checks the past calls with a few swipes. "Melissa McCall?" He's not sure if he's feeling shock, outrage, or fear of her reaction.

Peter hums. "She may not care much for me, but she was willing to discuss your father's condition once I filled her in on what happened."

Stiles lowers the phone to his lap and frowns absently at the dried blood on his hands. Again. At least this time it's only his own. "What did she say? About… me?" he asks quietly.

"She's concerned, of course," Peter says. "Worried about you. Angry you were Bitten."

Stiles darts his eyes up to meet Peter's. "But not…" He stops talking and shrugs because he doesn't really want to say the words.

"She is taking it a lot better than my nephew," Peter says dryly. "But then she cares for you almost as another son, so that's to be expected."

He winces away from that. It's not something he wants to think about right now, neither Melissa McCall's nor Derek's reactions. "Is my dad awake? Has she talked to him?"

"Not when I called but perhaps by now," Peter says, and gestures to the phone. "Go ahead and find out for yourself."

"What if he's awake and wants to talk to me?" Stiles asks, mostly to himself. "I wouldn't know what to tell him. I don't even know how this happened."

"Your memories were taken," Peter says.

Stiles nearly drops the phone. He sets it next to his cooling mug and gives Peter his best 'WTF?' look.

Peter smiles. "It's a tricky operation, but a werewolf who knows what they're doing, usually an Alpha, can share or block memories by plunging their claws into the back of the neck. It's a dangerous ritual that takes skill. One slip…" He shrugs but he doesn't look as casual as he sounds.

"So some unknown Alpha kidnapped me, Bit me and… who knows what else, then took my memories and dumped me back at the field?" He can't help the waver in his voice. He's never felt so helpless and violated, not even when Gerard Argent had him in that basement. "Fuck."

Peter's eyes lose their uncaring flatness as he stares back at Stiles. Now he looks close to sympathetic. It's probably a trick of the light. "We should have told you what we suspect. It was Derek's decision not to involve anyone else, and it seems to have backfired."

"What you suspect?" Stiles asks, sitting up straight and glaring at Peter. "What's going on?"

"There's another pack near," Peter says. "They left their symbol on our door in April but other than taking Derek's two errant Betas, it's been quiet. Until now." He's obviously holding back, but Stiles isn't in the mood to wheedle or beg for every scrap of information. He doesn't like the news that Boyd and Erica are with this other pack, either.

He glares, trying to put as much of his wild frustration into the look. He wonders if his eyes glow. "Dammit, Peter. No games, just tell me. Who are they, why are they here, what are they doing with Boyd and Erica, and why the fuck did they do this to me?"

"Your answers, in order:" Peter says with an impressive eyeroll, "An Alpha pack, to challenge Derek, to piss him off, and… I don't know. Possibly you were taken and Bitten to give Derek a problem that would keep him busy, or maybe to involve Scott, since if they've been watching, they would see you as his pack. Unless they've been watching very closely, they wouldn't know of Scott's reticence to think or act like the wolf he is."

That last observance makes Stiles feel like he's eaten something rancid. It must show on his face, too, because Peter holds out a hand, Calm. It's okay. Stiles doesn't hear the words but he feels the intention through Peter's body language. He's never had much of a problem picking up cues like that, but this time it feels like more. Like it's a new sense he has now, alongside his regular senses being enhanced. And Peter doing this is close to what he did at Derek's when Stiles first showed up, in shock and with his dad's blood on his hands, though there was more comfort and protection then.

The weirdest thing is that Peter's supernatural hand signals work. He does feel calmer, more settled. Less like he's going to hyperventilate or puke at the thought of his best friend not being pack.

Stiles takes a shaky breath and lets it out again, slowly, counting in his head. Peter nods, walks away, then comes back a few moments later with a warm, damp cloth. Stiles doesn't understand until Peter takes his hands and starts cleaning them again.

"One of the things you'll need to work on is to not claw your hands to pieces whenever something's upset you," Peter says lightly, wiping the blood from Stiles's palms and where it's dripped down his wrists, smeared across the back of his hands, too. He looks up with a smirk. "And I suppose I should learn to temper my words until you get it under control."

"You?" Stiles asks with a snort. It doesn't occur to him to take the cloth and clean his own mess until Peter is already finished.

"If I don't want my upholstery bloody," Peter says, nodding to Stiles's sofa cushion, now smeared with dark stains.

Stiles's face heats even as he searches his mind for a solution. "Got some peroxide?"

Peter flashes a sharp grin and starts walking out of the room again. "Of course. And while I try to salvage my furniture, maybe you can call the hospital."

Stiles grimaces. Sighs. Gathers up his courage and picks up Peter's phone again. It makes a series of short beeps before Stiles can think what number to call, and it only takes a moment to realize someone is trying to call Peter.

The screen says Derek calling and Stiles makes another face but answers.

"Heyyy-" Stiles starts to say before Derek cuts him off angrily.

"Where is she?" Derek growls.

"Um?" Stiles answers, because he knows a lot of people who use the female pronouns. "Any specific 'she'?"

"Erica," Derek says, sounding more angry as the seconds go by.

"I don't-"

"I'm in your house and I have your laundry right now. You want to tell me why it smells like one of my missing betas?"

Stiles squints at nothing, trying to wrap his head around the visual Derek just gave him. "You have my laundry? What are you doing with it? Please tell me you're talking about a shirt or something and not my boxers."

"Stiles!" Derek barks out, "Where is Erica?"

"Dude, I don't know! If you're talking about the clothes I was wearing when I got home this morning, then… I still don't know! I can't remember anything! Peter said sometimes Alphas can take memories, and that's probably what happened." He blows out a frustrated breath, listening to Derek breathe angrily back at him. "I don't remember anything from late Friday afternoon until I woke up on the Lacrosse field at dawn. Today, I mean. I'm missing about 39 hours of my life, which, hey, thanks for caring about my kidnapping and attack and being turned into a werewolf against my will and all."

"I'll deal with you after I find Erica," Derek tells him.

"I don't like the sound of that," Stiles says. "Can you maybe hold off on 'dealing' with me for… well, forever?"

Derek doesn't answer except to growl again and end the call.

"So rude," Stiles says, mostly upset his procrastination-though-threatening-call has ended, though he is more than a little scared of what Derek will do to him now that he's a werewolf and has already attacked a human, and not just any human but a 'pillar of the community' kind of human, not to mention his own blood family.

Not that he doesn't deserve to be smacked around for what he's done, maybe experience some werewolf detention with punishment via chains and sharp implements. But he shudders at the thought of being at someone's mercy again, since he thinks there's been too much of that in his life lately. Gerard Argent was bad enough, but now he's got added trauma he doesn't even remember. He knows his heart is racing now from these thoughts, and the awful smell in his nose now his mind catalogs as distress and anxiety and other bad things.

"Stiles?" Peter asks, hurrying back into the room, cleaning supplies in his hands.

He doesn't know what his expression says when he looks at Peter, but it makes him set his things down and come to him, quickly but not so fast as to startle. Stiles's breath is coming harder now, feeling like he's not getting actual air even though he can hear it starting to turn into panicked hyperventilation. His eyes are probably too wide for his face, but his vision is blurring and he needs something to hold onto.

He's clutching at Peter now, his claws out again, and that's another thing to panic over, but Peter just shushes him when Stiles tries to pull away from where he's surely drawing blood again.

Peter pulls him close and rests his forehead against Stiles's own. When he speaks, his voice is calm and coaxing, not commanding at all, and he starts to lead Stiles through counting as he breathes so they slow it down together.

Even when Stiles is mostly calm again, he doesn't want to let go or pull away. Peter doesn't smell like what Stiles would call home, in the past. His own house has a smell that calms him, like vanilla and cinnamon and his dad. Peter's scent is nothing like that and not a thing Stiles is equipped to analyze at the moment, but there's something about its wildness that makes him feel safe right now.

"I won't allow him to hurt you," Peter breathes, barely audible, but since Stiles not only hears it but feels it..

Stiles doesn't know what to say to this vow of protection, whether to snort or roll his eyes or try to give him a little sincere gratitude. Memories of the past year and common sense tell him Peter's promises mean nothing, but something deeper believes Peter's words. Not just believes, but is settled and calmed by them.

He's also tempted to tell Peter what set off his anxiety, and why, but just because Peter seems to be on his side at the moment doesn't mean Stiles trusts him. Not with that.

For now, he's going to let the moment go. He has too much to deal with as it is and doesn't need conflicting, confusing emotion getting in the way.

Stiles pulls away and scrubs his hands over his face, unsurprised when he finds his eyes and cheeks wet. He moves to the window and faces away from Peter.

"Will you be all right?" Peter asks. There's concern in his voice but it's not thick the way Stiles thinks it would be if it was feigned. But then, Peter is a good liar. A good actor too, probably.

Stiles nods and waves the thoughts away. He breathes in deeply to steel himself, then a few more times to make sure he really is collected enough to talk to his father. Then makes his call.

Chapter Text

He's still looking out the window, thinking about what his dad said on the phone. Thinking about what he didn't say.

The Sheriff's Department has been given a story about his dad walking in on a robbery in progress. As the story goes, an unidentified intruder panicked and slashed at him a few times with a knife, then fled the scene. Stiles, having been asleep upstairs, heard the commotion and came downstairs in time to find his father, call 911, but not to see the suspect.

The deputies have been told Stiles had a panic attack and didn't feel safe in his house after the attack, and is currently staying with a family friend. Because of the trauma, he's not able to give a statement at this time, and because he's a minor and the sheriff's son, he's being given more leeway than any other potential witness, especially since his dad made it clear Stiles didn't see the suspect at all.

So legally, Stiles seems to be in the clear. Also, his dad's injuries are being put down to knife wounds and not animal attack, so any hunters hearing about the incident aren't going to be looking for a violent werewolf. Apparently Melissa McCall gave him the lowdown before he got the chance to speak to anyone official, and they worked out a story between them that would protect Stiles from law enforcement and werewolf hunters.

It's not that he's not grateful for that. But.

But his dad had no comment on Stiles's new non-human status. Not one word about it. He didn't mention the fact that he was in the hospital because Stiles put him there with his new sharp and inhuman claws. So he didn't condemn Stiles for his attack and he didn't forgive him and he just… didn't mention it.

His father told Stiles he's going home tomorrow, and didn't say a word about when Stiles can go home. Stiles told him he was at a friend's, another werewolf, that he was safe, and… well, his dad just said okay and then ended the call.

It's not that Stiles thinks he can go home right now. He won't put his father in danger like that again. Still, he would have liked the reminder that he still had a home there with his dad.

A vague, distant thought flits through Stiles's mind that maybe he should call Scott. He's his best friend, has always claimed him as his brother, and now they're the same species again so shouldn't Stiles think of him as pack now? Scott claimed Stiles was part of his pack in the past, but the way he said it seemed off. Now, the memory of it offends Stiles for reasons he doesn't fully understand. Scott said it almost like… a joke. Like he didn't even take the word that seriously, let alone the thing it stands for, and Stiles didn't understand Scott's attitude because even as a human he saw how integral to a werewolf's life the pack should be. He still feels that way, only magnified a hundred times when viewed with nascent werewolf perspective. Pack is everything, he knows that now, and Stiles doesn't want to be pack with someone who doesn't know that.

Peter has been leaving him to his thoughts so far, though he's close by in case Stiles needs him. It does make Stiles feel safer, since Peter's proved he can calm Stiles down or comfort him or… whatever. And Stiles would bet his life on Peter knowing how vital pack should be.

"Jesus, what a shitshow," Stiles mutters to himself, scrubbing at his face with his (thankfully human) hands.

"Derek is on his way up," Peter tells him.

Stiles cocks his head instinctively, trying to listen for whatever Peter heard, then realizes what he just did. He's a little embarrassed, but not as much as he thinks he would have been with a more human mindset. Maybe he's settling into his new species better than he thought.

He doesn't have much time for musing, though, because Derek bangs on the door and the apartment vibrates like they're mid-thunderstorm. Stiles can feel him more now that he's not so shocky. He has an aura, what Stiles guesses is his Alpha power, and it's making Stiles uncomfortable.

Peter touches his shoulder briefly on his way to the door, just a slide of his hand over Stiles's borrowed shirt, and it's just enough to let him release the breath he didn't know he was holding.

Stiles isn't stupid. He knows Peter is manipulating him for some new plan he has now that Stiles is riding the werewolf wagon with the rest of them. That doesn't mean he can't use it for his own benefit, though.

Peter opens the door and Derek walks in, his movement stiff, his eyes locked on Stiles. Stiles goes still and watchful. He wants to run away, hide, so he doesn't have to feel so vulnerable. It's not fear, exactly, but he's definitely anxious about the situation.

When Derek's eyes flash red, the reason slots into place. Derek wants him to submit. To acknowledge Derek as Alpha and more powerful, more worthy of respect than Stiles. He stalks closer as if getting up in Stiles's space will make him more amenable to doing what Derek wants.

It's like Derek's never even met Stiles. Stiles doesn't respect people for power or posturing; if that were true, he'd have been Jackson's minion since kindergarten. Stiles isn't a follower as a rule, and if he was going to fall in line behind a leader, that leader would have had to work to earn Stiles's respect first.

Stiles doesn't realize at first that his stance has changed, or that he's squared his jaw, or that he's glaring at Derek like he wishes he could cause him to spontaneously combust by will alone.

Hearing Peter's amused huff of laughter brings Stiles out of his instinctive defense mode, though. He glances over at him and notices the man's casual stance isn't really, that Peter seems ready to launch himself at Derek in a split second. It makes Stiles relax and even smile.

"What did you do, Peter?" Derek asks, his words grinding out between clenched teeth.

Peter gives a lazy smile. "I haven't done a thing. This is all Stiles. He's not going to submit to you, and if you knew him at all, you already would have figured that out and spared yourself this embarrassing scene."

Then Derek starts stalking toward Peter and Stiles moves without thinking, a snarl escaping his throat as he places himself between the two. "Don't," Stiles tells Derek.

Derek looks puzzled for a long moment before glaring at Peter over Stiles's shoulder. "You made him submit to you first."

Stiles's squawk of outrage sounds out at the same time Peter gives another huff of laughter. "Again, I must point out how very little you know of Stiles. And of me, actually."

Derek's confused face is hilarious, and Stiles would laugh at it if he wasn't a twitch away from trying to rip his arms off.

When it's clear Derek doesn't have any words left, Peter smoothes his hand down Stiles's back, calming him, letting him know Peter's okay and the situation is under control. Stiles relaxes.

"I thought our priority tonight is to find your beta. Erica, is it?" Peter says smoothly. "I haven't had the pleasure, but I'm sure she's just as charming as Isaac. Who I would think would want to come along on our search?"

Derek narrows his eyes. "He's in the car."

"Hope you cracked a window for him," Stiles says, and tilts his body toward Peter, still keeping Derek in his line of sight. "Erica's awesome. She's pretty badass. I think you'll like her, she's just about as inappropriate as you are sometimes."

Peter smiles and Stiles thinks about how he means it, how he does have good feelings for Erica and hopes she survives this pack he can't remember. Actually, Erica feels like pack in a way Scott doesn't, but that thought is too confusing right now so he's going to shove it aside like the other conflicted feelings he's been having, and deal with it another time.

Chapter Text

They split up. Peter and Stiles go one way and Derek and Isaac go the other. Isaac gives Stiles an awkward smile as they walk away, but Stiles isn't fluent in Isaac's facial expressions so that could mean anything from 'welcome to the species' to 'I'm plotting your death'. Though Stiles does wonder what Isaac thinks of what happened with his father when he's pretty sure Isaac dealt with his father being abusive when he first turned and didn't lash out like Stiles had. But maybe Isaac never had the chance before the murder lizard got to his father. Stiles isn't a hundred percent sure of the timeline there.

He switches gears and asks Peter a question that's been niggling at him since they left his apartment. "What did you mean back there? When you said if Derek knew me better he wouldn't be… doing that. Where he tried to make me submit. And that he didn't know you, either."

They're already at the edge of the woods and it just seems natural to move into them. He notices Peter's not leading him in, but not following behind, either. He's beside him, but seems to be taking his cues from Stiles.

Stiles glances at Peter and sees a small, pleased smile on his face. It's not a smirk and it doesn't hint at anything dark or violence. Stiles would call it happy if he thought Peter capable of the emotion without bloodshed being involved. Stiles looks away, scanning the trees and underbrush for lack of anything else to do as he waits for Peter to answer.

"Derek has never been particularly good at judging a person's nature and character," Peter says several minutes later, after they've hiked far enough into the Preserve that the sounds and scents of civilization fall away. The air seems better here, and Stiles breathes deeply, enjoying the way it fills his lungs.

"Not like you, of course," Stiles says drily. He stops to lean against a tree with a thick trunk and raises his eyebrows at Peter, wanting him to get on with the explanation.

"Of course," Peter says with a grin. "I learned early on to watch people and learn what makes them tick."

"All the better to manipulate you with, my dear," Stiles says, and is surprised his voice drips fondness rather than disdain. He turns his face away, not wanting to see whatever expression that puts on Peter's face.

"Hm," Peter says in amused agreement. He probably looks delighted but Stiles is still not looking. Nope. "Thanks to my particular people skills, I'm aware you won't submit to an Alpha, or an Alpha substitute as Derek thought I'd tried to position myself as for you."

Stiles narrows his eyes and looks back at Peter, trying to read what he's not saying from his face. But Peter's only smiling slightly, and while Stiles is sure he can do Honest Face on command, he's sure that's not it. Peter's expression and body language aren't trying to cajole or convince.

Stiles has sat in on numerous trials and even more county committee or commission meetings in his life. At first because his dad didn't want to ask a deputy to babysit last minute again, feeling he was taking advantage of his position no matter that his deputies (a few of them, anyway) repeatedly claimed not to mind. So he brought Stiles along (only if he was properly medicated beforehand, though soon enough Stiles found himself getting interested in the way the various players interacted and was too engrossed to fidget or make scenes. Later on, Stiles begged to be able to attend the various legal and political proceedings, promising to stay quiet and unobtrusive, making deals that put his video games and internet time on the line if he broke his promises, until finally he wore his dad down and was allowed to attend.)

So Stiles recognizes liars and cheaters and has been able to do so since he was a kid. He knows exactly what slick political smarm looks like. Now that he has enhanced senses, he could probably sniff it out like the county's K-9 unit finds explosive materials or narcotics. (Werewolf now; he can apply dog jokes or analogies to himself without guilt. Not that he ever felt guilt for them before.)

He should expect disingenuousness from Peter but he isn't seeing or sensing that at all. He knows Peter's holding back information, but not for the purpose of deception or harm. Stiles's best guess is that Peter's trying to protect him.

Stiles is startled at a sudden realization: he trusts what Peter is saying, and that — as impossible as it should seem — Peter is on his side right now. Is actively working with and for him. And Stiles might not be Lydia-smart, but that's not the kind of smart he needs to be right now.

Stiles is Stilinski-smart, comes by it honestly from his dad, who wasn't elected because of any of the aforementioned political smarm but because beyond having excellent leadership skills (finely honed by military service), he was a damn good detective who solved a larger percentage of his cases than the national average. His father never stopped working active cases after becoming head of the county's law enforcement; putting those puzzles together is his calling. And not only has he passed on the aptitude through his genes, he's taught Stiles about investigations and puzzles and fitting things together since before Stiles could properly walk.

All that just means Stiles can fit clues together, even ones that seem unimportant or insignificant. And thanks to the unique way his brain works, he can more easily pull an idea from one process and fit it to another idea from a completely different train of thought and suddenly he's making it work. It makes sense.

He must gasp when it fits together in his head all at once, but he's too busy thinking of all the implications to really notice. Not until he sees Peter has moved and is now standing right in front of him, his eyes searching Stiles's face, a smile growing on his own.

"Yes, Stiles?" Peter asks, his expression a jumble of wary hope and anticipation. How can Stiles read him so well?

"You think I should be an Alpha," Stiles says. He shakes his head when Peter's smile just grows, then asks, still not quite believing, "You want me to be… your Alpha?"

Peter nods, his eyes going hungry and more intense as he steps closer.

"I don't…" understand, Stiles wants to say, only that's a lie. He gets it. It's suddenly very clear. Peter doesn't want Stiles to be the kind of Alpha Derek has become, or the kind Peter was when he was on his pain/trauma/rage-driven revenge spree. Peter knows exactly the kind of person Stiles is, and he wants him to be his own kind of Alpha.

"I want a pack that means something, Stiles," Peter tells him. "I want to be in a pack where I mean something, where no one is shoved aside for the sake of convenience. A pack headed by an Alpha who is loyal to us first, who puts the pack first. I've seen the way you will do anything to protect and care for the people you love. I want that."

Stiles wishes he didn't hear all the undercurrents and subtext, because it's painful to think that all Peter wants now is to belong and to be appreciated. Loved. The part about being shoved aside is a sharp reminder that Peter's niece, his supposed Alpha, left him alone in Beacon Hills after a traumatic event, catatonic and vulnerable, while she and Derek moved to the other side of the country.

They abandoned a packmate who was physically, emotionally, and (if what Stiles has researched about pack bonds is even close to correct) spiritually wounded and in need of pack and Alpha more than ever.

The very idea makes Stiles shudder with revulsion. He doesn't know why it never occurred to him before, but now it's clear to see Laura Hale's actions as Peter's Alpha were reprehensible. Stiles is sure if he looked at the situation more closely in the past, even as a human, he would have come to a similar conclusion. As a werewolf with instincts and more slowly awakening within him, it affects him so deeply it may as well be in the marrow of his bones. There is no defense. No excuse. Any Alpha who would abandon an injured packmate is unworthy of the title and power and pack.

The pieces click together to form a complete and clear picture. The revelation is a wrecking ball that knocks out his breath. His legs give out as well, and the only reason he doesn't drop straight to the ground is because Peter catches his arm and helps him slide down more easily. Stiles's head knocks back against the tree and Peter sits right beside him, not looking away.

Stiles seizes on the gleam of Peter's eyes as a point of focus. His own eyes feel too wide and wild, and he pants like he's just finished suicides for Coach.

He has to say it out loud. The words feel alive now, and they need to be spoken.

"The responsibility. For the pack and to the pack. That's what an Alpha is meant for," Stiles says. He doesn't wait for an answer because there's no question. "The power… that's just a bonus that helps the Alpha do their job. So they can hold the pack together and protect it and give back." Love and power and protection and possession… Stiles gets it. Becoming an Alpha should be like finding a true vocation, and it's calling to him. Inside his chest he's being slowly hollowed out so that he can be filled later with that power and devotion.

Peter's eyes shine blue for a moment and that first trickle of pack flows in. It's so subtle that Stiles could shrug it off as his imagination, but he feels it. A barely-there connection between them, a taste of strength with the potential for much more. Is it possible so soon?

"Is that a pack bond?" Stiles asks quietly.

Peter lets out a soft breath. "You do feel it, then?"

"How?" Stiles asks.

"You know how," Peter says, and now he's smiling again, eyes brighter than Stiles has ever seen. "Though I had no idea you would come to the necessary understanding so soon."

They're pack. It's new and strange and Stiles still has doubts about Peter as a person, but apparently he's okay with him as a packmate. And not just that. Stiles is in the process of accepting him as his. His beta. His responsibility. His family.


Now that he's aware of the Alpha's true role, he knows the qualities Peter noticed in him that set them on this road.

Possessiveness and protectiveness are familiar states. He hesitates to call them feelings, since they seem so much larger. Stiles has always had a very small, select group of people he cares for, and the rest of the world can go hang for all he cares for it in comparison. His love and care have never been small, tame, or containable things. He's always been intense when it comes to his loved ones.

Since his transformation, that part of him has only strengthened. He's fitting Peter into his circle, which has evolved from 'people I care about' into pack. This perspective he can only compare to the evolution of a pseudo-legendary Pokémon. For years he had Deino-strength emotion for his family, all teeth and boundless energy. Then his mom got sick and died, propelling him to level 50 and evolving into something, like Zweilous, that was more hostile and twice as dangerous. Now? Becoming a werewolf has brought with it an unexpected level boost. His emotional intensity has become Hydreigon. And apparently Peter thinks he needs the kind of Alpha who compares the strength of his devotion to a fictional, violent, three-headed flying dragon with overwhelming potential for destruction.

Of course Stiles would only turn that destruction toward enemies or traitors to his pack, but he can see where Peter would find that an attractive quality.

Stiles has a sudden thought that makes him laugh. "I kept thinking of an Alpha as a warlord or, I don't know, Don of a fang and claw Mafia?"

Peter smiles. "Well I do believe you'd make a terrifying crime boss if you so desired."

"I think I'm better suited for this, really," Stiles says, with almost too much honesty. It's okay, though. Now isn't the time to hide. "Thank you." He hopes Peter understands just how much he means it. Being chosen (and come on, that's exactly what this has been) by Peter to be Alpha is an honor, even if it's just as Alpha stand-in at the moment. Which reminds him, he should be clear about this up front, "I'm not killing Derek."

Peter's sudden laughter sounds unpracticed but genuine. It makes Stiles grin.

"Though I'm not opposed to getting rid of whatever asshole Alpha bit me," he doesn't hesitate to point out.

Blue eyes flash with dark amusement and something else, something hungry. "I'll do my best to make that happen for you."

Chapter Text

Stiles really hasn't had a whole lot of good happen when he goes walking in the woods at night. But now that he's a creature of the night himself, maybe things won't end so badly for him or those he cares about.

The new senses are incredible, though.

Being outside and catching the scents of things other than people and household items (and cold tacos at Derek's that smelled like they'd been there at least two weeks, which was gross, ew) is distracting. The wind blows and brings with it a whole symphony of scent. It seems that most things are hard to identify, but Stiles is already planning how best to memorize certain notes. He's got an ongoing list in his head now, with the heading of How To Werewolf (Better), though he can't decide if How to Alpha (Better) is a subheading of that or vice versa.

Also distracting.

Stiles decides he's had enough of heavy conversation for now and attempts to change the subject. Unfortunately, the only topics floating around in his head have to do with werewolves, packs, and guilt.

"Soooo…" he tries, but then he shakes his head and sighs. "Nope, I got nothing. This is like literally the first time in my life I can't come up with a totally inane thing to say other than 'how about that weather' or 'do you like lacrosse'. This is a sad, sad day."

Peter makes a small sound of amusement. "Not really weather related, but you should know the next full moon is a lunar eclipse."

"Is that a good thing or a bad thing?" Stiles asks.

"That depends, really," Peter says. "For about fifteen minutes, while the moon is fully eclipsed, we lose most of our enhancements. The effect makes werewolves… human, for the most part. That's not a completely accurate explanation, but that's the best way I can describe it without delving into a full treatise on the supernatural link between us and the moon."

"Fifteen minutes doesn't sound like very long, but it's a large enough window if someone was looking to get to us while we're vulnerable," Stiles says. "A lot of bad can happen in fifteen minutes."

"And it will be your first full moon, so we need to plan the night very carefully," Peter says. He doesn't need to explain because Stiles gets it instantly.

"So I'll be out of control for most of the night, except for the fifteen minutes we'll be mostly human and vulnerable to any hunter or other baddie who wants to hit us when we can't fight back," Stiles says. "We can't go somewhere public like the mall, because I might lose it and eat the local shoppers, but if we camp out away from civilization, it's like 'in space, no one can hear you scream!' Only, you know. Not space."

Peter looks amused. "We'll work something out. But other than finding a safe place to spend the moon, you should be thinking of finding your anchor and gaining control."

Why he didn't he think of that first? Guilt sours his mood. Of course he should focus on control. He's already hurt the one person in the world he'd least want to hurt ever and he doesn't want any repeat performances.

"I don't think the stuff I figured out to help Scott is gonna to be right for me," he says. "My anxiety is a real problem and it's been amplified like… yeah. A lot. So." He looks over at Peter. "Think you can help with that?"

He can feel hints of the pride and pleasure coming from Peter. Stiles hides his shock. He hadn't imagined Peter would care so much about this small show of trust. He's not going to drop his wariness completely, not yet, but now he has more cause to make Peter feel involved and like an integral part of their new pack.

"I have some ideas," Peter says, a smile playing around his lips.

Before Stiles can respond (he wants to snark back something witty and sharp, but he's temporarily distracted by how genuinely happy Peter seems), he hears Peter's phone vibrate. Peter looks frustrated for a moment but answers anyway.

"Have you found her yet?" Derek asks. Stiles takes a moment to marvel at the super hearing that allows him to listen in. "A scent? Anything?"

Peter's lips twist like he's tasted something bitter. "I would have called if that was the case."

A sound catches Stiles's attention. Nothing so obvious as a twig snapping, but more like a weight being shifted against damp leaves, just a bit. Someone who is hiding, maybe. He zeros in on where the noise came from and tries to open his senses. He smells… something. He's not sure if it's Erica or not. But there's the scent of piss and fear and something underneath that is familiar, too.

He calls out to her by name and hears a breath suck in, loud in his ears now that he's listening for it. He only vaguely takes notice of Peter telling Derek they might be close. Derek's reply is cut off by Peter ending the call, and then he's there beside him.

Peter doesn't ask the question is it her? aloud, but when he brushes against Stiles's arm and their eyes meet, Stiles hears it anyway. He nods and walks closer to a dense cluster of shrubs and vines.

"It's okay, Erica. It's me and Peter," he says, then realizes Erica's never met Peter before and what little she's heard of him was probably all bad. "He's alright. He's pack."

He feels Peter's reaction to that: pulse of warmth though the nascent bond and shiver of skin beside him. Stiles doesn't look at him, but he does reach out. Deliberately not thinking about what he's doing, he runs his hand down Peter's suddenly tense forearm. Warm touch (comfort, understanding) and dragging his scent over Peter's skin (acknowledging the new something they have).

A rustle of foliage steals his attention and then Erica's face peeks out at them. "Stiles?" Her voice cracks, sounding painful.

He nods and without looking grabs a water bottle from the bag slung over his shoulder. "Are you injured?" he asks, coaxing her out so he can look her over. He takes note of the grime and torn clothing, but he's more interested in the way she holds herself, protecting one arm and her left side, while she shifts her weight off what must be a painful leg. Maybe her hip.

She takes the water from him without hesitation but just holds it for a moment, looking at Stiles with eyes full of relief and slowly abating fear. Or maybe that's what he smells. It's hard to tell. He's picking up so much from body language and scent and a few soft, subvocal sounds Erica makes as she shuffles closer.

Peter steps aside and gives Stiles and Erica space, and Stiles can also tell he's guarding them both while they're distracted. Stiles shoots Peter a grateful look, especially because Erica relaxes when she realizes Peter is the most capable wolf present and she's safer with him looking out for them.

"Sti-" Erica starts to say, voice breaking.

"Drink some water," Stiles says, and manages to sound encouraging and firm at the same time. He thinks so, at least.

Erica obeys. Stiles has to stop her halfway, though. "Slow, okay?"

She nods and takes smaller sips, then leans into him. "I thought you were dead," she says, so soft, though the last word sounds like a sob. "I couldn't feel you." She lifts her head, confusion on her face as she stares at him. "I still can't feel you."

Now Stiles feels as lost as Erica looks. "I don't know…" I don't know what the hell is going on here. He doesn't want to admit that aloud, though.

"His memories were taken," Peter says. "He doesn't remember being taken, or turned, or anything that happened while he was gone."

Erica sucks in a breath and Stiles swears he can feel her pulling away in more ways than one. He can't help it — he has to make sure she knows he's not rejecting her. She's pack, even if he doesn't remember the past few days or why it's so important to her. So he pulls her close and she tucks her head under his chin like a child. She's not far from childhood, really. New to the werewolfing as well. A pup, something inside tells him, but why she is and he's not, he doesn't know.

He reaches out without thought again, this time to snag Peter's wrist. Peter comes closer without any reluctance at all, and while he keeps a little distance between himself and Erica, he practically plasters himself behind Stiles, a hand on his hip and what Stiles thinks is a cheek (only the slightest bit of stubble growing in) against the back of Stiles's neck. It makes something in his stomach flip over but not in a negative way. He has Erica and Peter close, warm and smelling like pack the longer they stand together.

"I don't have to go with Derek, do I?" Erica whispers.

Protectiveness soaks Stiles's whole processes. Thoughts and feelings are suddenly all devoted to keeping Erica with him where he can be sure she feels secure.

"Not if you don't want to," Stiles reassures her, hugging her tighter. "You can stay with…" He trails off, remembering his house is a crime scene. He could probably go back but… the blood. The memory.

"Both of you can stay with me if you like," Peter offers. "We should stick together right now anyway."

Erica nods and pulls back to look at them both. She doesn't say the words, but Stiles hears them anyway, or what he thinks she might be wanting to say. So this is our pack? And yes. Yes it is.

He doesn't have long to bask in the newly forming bonds, though, because Derek comes into view, Isaac trailing behind him. "Are you okay?" Derek asks Erica gruffly. "What can you tell me about them? Where are they?"

"Back off," Stiles says, only barely managing not to snarl the words.

Erica keeps her eyes down. Stiles doesn't like it. He puts her behind him and glares at Derek.

"What the fuck, Stiles?" Derek asks. "Give her here, I've got to take her home. The car's not far. C'mon, Erica."

"She's not going with you," Stiles says. He's surprised that Peter is hanging back and letting him handle this, but not surprised that Erica is. She's worried and a little scared right now, on top of the residual terror from whatever happened to her with the Alpha Pack. Stiles can feel it all, and he's determined to get her someplace safe (Peter's, apparently) so they can all relax for a little while.

"What." Derek glares back at him, then looks at how they're standing together, Erica's head bowed and hands twisting, Peter coiled at the ready, Stiles tense and protective. Apparently he doesn't like any of it.

Later, Stiles will be able to look at this and understand. Derek's betas have been missing, he's been frantic, the Alpha Pack is in his territory and now he just wants to get Erica and get her safe, the same way Stiles is feeling, too. But Derek lets out his Alpha roar to try to intimidate Erica and get her to submit to his will. And Stiles isn't having it.

Stiles's roar is impressive, enough that Derek blinks at him in confusion and astonishment. And then he puts his hands up and backs away. "Okay."

Isaac is huddled in on himself, and Stiles would feel bad for him if he didn't have other things to worry about at the moment.

"You're going to leave her alone?" Stiles asks, his fangs slurring his speech.

"Stiles, your eyes just flashed," Derek says slowly.

Stiles doesn't understand why he's not as angry now. He shrugs. "Werewolf."

"Red, Stiles. They flashed red."

Chapter Text

Peter sucks in a breath beside him while Erica makes a small noise of confusion.

Stiles is just as stumped as Derek. "I don't know what that even means. What?"

He can feel Peter knows, though, but also that he wants to keep it to himself and the pack. He doesn't trust Derek enough to give him more information.

"I don't…" Derek says, and sighs. He looks genuinely deflated, all his previous anger gone in the light of a mystery. "I'll find out." He gives Peter a look, though. Like he knows his uncle probably knows exactly what's going on. Rightly so. "Isaac and I are going home." He glances at Erica, what he can see of her as Stiles and Peter shield her. "I'm glad you're safe." He looks like he wants to say more, but then he swallows it and turns to leave.

Stiles keeps his eyes on Derek's back until he's out of sight, and then he's still listening, waiting, wondering if he'll change his mind and come back to fight.

Peter rubs his shoulders. "He's gone. Relax, Alpha."

Stiles isn't sure why Peter uses the title. Respect? Teasing? Distraction, to get Stiles to realize he can stand down? It's a distraction, alright. Stiles doesn't want to think about the reaction he has to the word in Peter's mouth.

Stiles tries to glare at Peter. His beta just smirks knowingly.

"You're such a shit, oh my god," Stiles mutters.

Erica snickers and then they are on their way back to Peter's place, the three of them walking close enough to help Erica along without hurting her too much.

"Why isn't she healing?" Stiles asks Peter when they get to his apartment and checks over Erica's wounds. From what Stiles can tell, she has a broken left ulna. She's also been slashed with claws across a few ribs and her hip. It's not pretty. There are other, less serious injuries, bruises on her legs and arms, near her eye, and her lip is scratched. Those should have healed already. Has she been poisoned as well as beaten? Tortured? Does she need to eat lots of protein (she's skinnier than she should be) or is there some special werewolf medicine she needs?

Erica rolls her eyes and pulls her clothes back over her skin. "Stop fussing and don't talk about me like I'm not here. What about the red eyes and Alpha protectiveness you've got going on? Because I'm more interested in the answers to those questions, myself."

Peter smiles at her. It's a nice smile, with nothing more than his usual Peterness hidden inside. "I can answer all of that, I believe. But first, may I touch you? I just want to drain some of your pain so you're more comfortable. Stiles needs to learn, too, so you'll be helping him, as well as yourself."

"Oh, well, if you insist," Erica says weakly, though Stiles can tell she very much wants to hurt less.

"Any werewolf can do this, but you have to have empathy for the person — or animal — you're trying to take pain from," Peter explains, and places his hand over Erica's broken arm. "She's not healing because the injuries were caused by an Alpha. Or Alphas, as the case may be."

"Stiles actually figured that out already," Erica murmurs, her eyes widening as Peter's hand and arm show black lines. "Oh, wow."

"Wait, what?" Stiles asks. He's fascinated by what Peter is doing, but he doesn't remember figuring out the thing about Alpha injuries.

Peter pulls his hand away and motions to Stiles to try. "You have to want to take her pain, but more than that, you have to care."

Stiles doesn't think he lets his disgruntled offense show (but he is offended, because Erica is his, of course he cares), but Peter seems to see it anyway. Or sense it. He bumps his shoulder lightly, and it's playful and respectful at the same time.

There's so much to this werewolf thing. Touch and scent and bonds and all of that. Stiles… he likes it. A lot.

"Okay, here goes," Stiles says, and puts his hand on Erica's skin, right where Peter held his own hand. Stiles can tell because his action mixes their scents even more thickly. Erica's is there, slowly getting better than it was before, and Peter's is layered on top, and now Stiles's scent joins theirs and it's a good combination. It's Pack.

It's so easy to get distracted with all the new thoughts, feelings, and preferences. He wishes Erica smelled entirely like him and Peter. Peter, too, only..

Well, he wants Peter to smell like him even more. He grumbles under his breath, or tries to, but it comes out as a growl.

Peter and Erica both jump just a little, looking worried.

"No, nope, don't worry about it," Stiles says. "Accidental growl right there. Sorry. Okay, back to the draining of the pain. I just… pull it out?" It sounds ridiculous but the tendril of bond he feels forming actually helps. He can feel where she hurts, and he can pull on it. "This is easier with Pack, isn't it?" he says, mostly to himself, as her pain immediately begins to pull into his hand and run up his arm. It's tingly, not at all pleasant, but a much diminished version of what Erica was feeling.

"So we are?" Erica asks quietly, watching Stiles. "We were already, but you forgot…"

"They took my memories, Erica. I didn't just misplace you like when I can't find my keys," Stiles grumbles. "Was I with you? While I was gone?"

"Almost the whole time," Erica says, and Stiles can tell she's too tired, emotionally and physically, to talk about it. "I tell you later? I want to know about your eyes. Why did they flash red?"

"Because he's becoming an Alpha, faster than I thought he would, even," Peter tells them.

"I thought you had to kill another Alpha to get that power," Erica says.

"So did I," Stiles says. "Though it can't just be that, or Alphas dying of old age would… well, I suppose ritual killing could be a thing, but I really hope not."

"It is in some packs, actually," Peter tells them, and Stiles and Erica both make disturbed faces. "But there are actually three ways to become an Alpha. The most simple is to kill another Alpha. Except that's not always foolproof either, since there are some Alphas you can't gain power from that way. I'll come back to that. The most common way is… well, let's call it an evolution."

Stiles leans in, because that's how he's been feeling. Maybe he was thinking more Pokemon evolution, but there's more truth to it than that. He feels like he's in the process of becoming something he's meant to be.

Peter continues, "It's when someone who is either very well suited to the role, naturally or through training, breaks through some barrier that was keeping them back from becoming an Alpha. Usually through a feat of will, but tonight when you protected Erica, you basically claimed her as your beta. And since the feeling was mutual, I assume…?"

Erica smiles a little and nods. "You bet."

So much responsibility. But Stiles wants it. Craves it. He wants a pack to protect. Peter and Erica mean so much right now, more than he can only think of as raw emotion.

"So I'm suited and I want it, so I become an Alpha? If it was that easy, there'd be Alphas running around everywhere," Stiles jokes, but it does sound too simple.

"Not really. There are very few who are suited. You figured out what it means to be an Alpha earlier, which I wasn't expecting for some time. But your mind leaps ahead, skipping whole steps the rest of us need to get where we're supposed to go. You see a few pieces and then the whole pattern is obvious to you, while some people are left wondering how those few pieces might even fit."

He's not going to blush. He's not.

Erica, meanwhile, is trying to stifle a yawn. Stiles looks at Peter, who motions to the sofa.

"Hey, lay down, would you?" Stiles tells her, and Peter grabs a pillow and blanket from a nearby closet. "You need to sleep. We'll talk about what's going on in the morning, okay? Late morning. Sleep 'til two in the afternoon if you need, I swear. You need it, I can tell."

Erica snuggles down on the couch and Stiles runs a hand over her messy hair. She looks up at him and smiles. "You're a good Alpha."

"I'm going to try to be," Stiles tells her. It's more a vow than anything else.

Erica smiles more and closes her eyes, relaxing.

"You already are," Peter says quietly as they move away from her toward the kitchen. "Would you like tea? Or something to eat?"

"I'm starving," Stiles says, before his stomach can say it for him.

"Do you like BLTs?" Peter asks, going to the fridge.

"Yeah, actually. Love them. Don't get a lot of bacon at home because I try to watch dad's sodium and fat intake…" He sighs.

"You'll see him soon and work everything out. This is a big change for him to accept, but he's not going to disown you. I've known plenty of people like that. He's not it."

Stiles shrugs. "He thinks the way I dress is proof I'm a hundred percent straight, so," he says, ducking his head down but peeking up just a bit to see if he can catch Peter's reaction.

Peter frowns. "What are you talking about?"

"I tried to come out to him. Kinda. I mean, sort of as a joke and sort of not?"

"I am well familiar with feeling people out to make sure they're okay with certain aspects of yourself. I was a master of that game by the age of fourteen. Which is why I know you're doing it right now," Peter says.

"What, me? No. Not... not really," Stiles says, lying through his teeth. Which he can smell on himself now, so no doubt Peter can, too. And his heart, it did the little unsteady blip Scott's told him about. Great. Nothing left to do now but facepalm.

Peter turns away from the bacon frying in a pan and faces him head on. "So you identify as something other than heterosexual. Do you really think I might have a problem with it? I may judge others for their stupidity or bad decisions, or even just for having horrible taste, but I'm not going to say a word about something you can't change, or something that makes you you."

Stiles is nodding now, nod nod nod, because he agrees and he's relieved and Peter… is not that bad a guy when it comes to some stuff. Not to mention Stiles is kind of proud to have him as a beta. His. His beta. So maybe he's possessive over Peter, too. "That's… good. So I'm… I guess I'm pansexual? Like I've read all the definitions and that seems like… what I'm feeling like."

"I just use queer, for myself," Peter says, making sure Stiles is utterly speechless for some time. He continues like he didn't just drop a bombshell. "Some people have a problem with the word, but I feel completely positive about reclaiming it for my identity. It feels freeing. And if you ever want to have a conversation about queer theory we can discuss whether werewolves are inherently queer just in their natural state of existing."

"...Are there a lot of gay werewolves?"

"Hmm. I need to find you some good foundational texts on academic theories of queerness since it's obvious you don't know what I mean," Peter says, smiling. "But to answer your question, there is a higher incidence of LGBTQ+ individuals within the born werewolf population than the regular humans. I say born werewolf because I believe it's a cultural thing, that we're more accepting of differing natures, than a lot of humans. So our families are okay with us however we identify, be that our sexual identity or lack of interest in sex or romance, or our gender identity or expression. And when you see others being accepting and accepted, it's much easier to identify what might be different about yourself and accept it. Here, a BLT. Eat up. Would you like something to drink? I have milk, grape soda, orange soda, or I can make tea."

"Water," Stiles says. His head is full of questions about werewolf culture, and how it's a thing he's not even heard of so far, and how is that possible, and when can he meet some more awesome queer werewolves? Not to mention, oh god, Peter… likes dudes. Peter, his gorgeous new beta with the wicked smirk and cutting tongue could be smirking around Stiles's dick and then… with his tongue… and…

He looks over at Peter, who obviously has smelled his desire, and now the man has bared his throat. Stiles wants. He wants and wants.

"Put that away," Stiles says hoarsely. "Jesus, Peter. I asked for water, not porn." Peter's throat does look like porn. Tender and a little stubbly and so vulnerable. Stiles could bite in, growl, force Peter on his back to bare his belly, too. Then…

Peter whimpers. It's totally on purpose, just to drive Stiles crazy. Has to be, because then he says, "Alpha…" in a voice made rough with his own want. Probably. Maybe. Stiles doesn't know what's manipulation and what's real.

"I can't… goddammit, Peter, you can't do that, I'm gonna, you don't know… Do you know how you look? How you sound?" Stiles asks with a rough voice of his own. Now he's got Peter backed against the wall, BLT and water forgotten, and they're standing so close they are breathing each other's air. "You look like a fucking wet dream I could have if I fell asleep right now. Hell, maybe I'm dreaming."

Peter whines when Stiles cups the front of his throat, digs his fingertips in. It's such a simple, easy thing to lean in and kiss him. He kisses him hard, deliberately, and deep. Stiles has all the power and Peter just gives up more to him, melting into it, letting Stiles fuck into his mouth with his tongue and bite at his lips with teeth that are nearly fangs.

Peter's panting against him, gasping for breath, but Stiles doesn't let up, won't give him an inch. He wants him so completely, to take care of him forever, but to have him like this forever, too. God, it's fucked up. But it's also amazingly good.

But until Stiles knows exactly what the fuck Peter wants from him beyond the Alpha thing, he can't let this go further. "Stop," he says, then kisses Peter as softly as he can, gentle and respectful, not at all what he was doing moments before. He rests his head against Peter's, nuzzles his nose, ignores the faint whine Peter releases again. "I need time. To make sure."

He doesn't say what he needs to make sure of because he's not entirely certain himself. Somehow, he thinks Peter knows better than he does on this. Or will, once his good senses come back to him.

Peter nuzzles his cheek and nods. "It wasn't to get something you don't want to give," he says after a few moments. "I may play games, but I promise I would never…" He sighs. "But my promises are worth nothing yet, are they?"

Stiles feels a tightening in his chest that he's not sure is entirely his own. "I wouldn't say nothing. We're pack. That does count to me."

"If it didn't, you wouldn't be worth my energy," Peter says. It's a tease, a joke, but it's also true. And Stiles feels warm now knowing he's the kind of Alpha Peter does deem worthy.

"Where's my BLT, by the way?" Stiles asks, looking around. Peter slides it over on the counter and Stiles can smell it, has been smelling it, and his stomach is now telling everyone with ears that he needs to eat immediately.

Peter huffs a laugh and turns away. Stiles watches him adjust himself in his pants and touch his swollen lips.

"Shouldn't your lips not get like that? Because of werewolf healing?" Stiles asks. He's not going to pretend they weren't just kissing.

"You're my Alpha. Any… I hesitate to call this a wound, but it was given by an Alpha, my Alpha, and it will take longer to heal."

"So that's why Erica's bone was still broken and those claw marks…? They were done by an Alpha?" Stiles asks.

Peter nods. "Yes, exactly that."

"But also… I'm not quite an Alpha yet. And you still haven't explained becoming one all the way, so… I'm listening."

Peter nods and sits on a stool beside Stiles at the kitchen island. He's not crowding Stiles, but he's close. Stiles can smell the want on him and he's sure Peter can smell the same coming from Stiles.

Stiles doesn't bring it up, though. There are things more important than hormones or… whatever. Whatever it is or could be is something to think about later, when he's got other things sorted out. Luckily, Peter begins to talk and thoroughly distracts Stiles from the other distraction.

"So I said there are three ways to become Alpha. But before I tell you about what some people call 'True' Alphas, I want to tell you about advisors in packs, and human emissaries. It's all tied together, so it's impossible to tell you about one without the other."

"I'm listening," Stiles says, and takes another bite of his delicious sandwich. The toast is no longer warm the way he likes his fresh BLTs, but he's starving and it's still pretty tasty.

"Packs have always had advisors. Sometimes they were humans, but only if the human was Pack, usually when the Alpha had a human child, they would learn lore and simple magics, but mostly they would move between supernatural and human groups to smooth things over. It's a show of trust to allow another pack or supernatural group, or hunter family or anyone else, access to a valued Pack human. So just their inclusion in talks leant meaning and good faith to the proceedings. But for a lot of packs, that fell out of favor a couple hundred years ago when the 'druids' horned in and took over the position. They call themselves emissaries, advisors to the packs, but they aren't pack members. Some packs refused to use them when they started showing up in towns with supernatural populations. And some of those packs were punished. Of course it all looked accidental, or more like Alphas making poor choices and leading their packs to misfortune… because, of course, they didn't take in an emissary when they really needed to." Peter says these last words with a curl of his lip and his voice drips disdain.

"So the emissaries set themselves up with some respected position and if they weren't accepted, they attacked?" Stiles asks.

"From every unbiased source I can find, I've learned they did exactly that. And they continue to do it."

"Okay. No emissary for us, then," Stiles says. "Do you know where they came from? Before they decided to make a new role for themselves?"

"They call themselves druids but they are not. I've known actual druids, one in particular, and the lore the emissaries put forward is skewed and twisted to what they want others to believe. As far as we've been able to tell, the emissaries came out of a few secret societies of people interested in the occult, who mixed and matched magics that had nothing to do with gods or paths of prayer and reciprocation that true druids followed. Druids are, for the most part, people of learning. The emissaries are people of cheap, sometimes sacrificial magic, or they use others who have what we call a Spark to do what they want done. Usually through manipulation and psychological tricks. Which is where True Alphas come in," Peter says. He gets up and fixes himself a glass of water and comes back.

Stiles has finished his food and now he's listening avidly. "What's a True Alpha?"

"It's possible it's the third way of becoming an Alpha, but it's more like… a cheat code. A psychological trick. If you tell someone a thing is possible, tell them the steps to achieve it, and they're already on the road to becoming something anyway because you've been secretly training them for it, it's not exactly real now, is it? And then the emissary can add stipulations or their own rules for such a state, and what happens?"

Stiles frowns. "Then they control the Alpha. They tell them what they can and can't do. They make them dependent on the emissary."

"Exactly right," Peter says, sounding (and feeling, Stiles can feel it through the bond) satisfied and proud of Stiles's conclusions.

"Right. So who is the emissary and who are they training?" Stiles asks.

Peter laughs. "The answer to your first question is: our own Dr. Deaton. He was our pack's emissary because Talia wouldn't listen to me when I told her he wasn't a real druid and he'd bring nothing but misfortune down on us. She accused me of being melodramatic and let him in anyway."

Stiles is silent for about three beats of his heart until he says, "Scott can't be an Alpha!"

"He's just what Deaton wants. He can give him some rules that mesh with Scott's own morality, and since he's been training him he's sure to know exactly what that would be. Scott has no idea what an Alpha is, but it doesn't matter. He'll be calling himself a 'True Alpha' in no time, and those are rare and special," Peter says, words dripping sarcasm.

"And what about me? How do you explain me?" Stiles asks.

"The Bite may not have been a gift for you, but you… Stiles, you are the gift. You were born to be an Alpha. You have the right attitude, the right priorities. The emissaries may talk about their True Alphas, but that name should be reserved for ones like you."

Stiles feels his face heat. "When you offered to bite me before, when you were going to turn me…"

"I only had the slightest idea. I knew you'd make a good wolf. I liked you. But you are so much more," Peter says.

"You're gonna give me a big head," Stiles mutters, rubbing the back of his neck.

Peter just smirks at that. Then he says, "You'll need another beta. A stable pack has at least three."

"Well… maybe we'll have to be unstable for a little while. I don't see anyone else volunteering."

"You don't consider Scott your pack already, that's interesting," Peter remarks.

"I don't even know how to approach that issue. Scott is… Scott," Stiles says, then tries to explain. "He hates being a werewolf, for one, and I've tried to be sympathetic to that, but it's not exactly easy. And now that I'm one myself… I don't know. I feel a little hostile to that idea, I guess. And I know he's not going to get behind us acting like a real pack, because he's clinging so hard to his humanity."

"And if he says he wants to be in your pack?" Peter asks.

Stiles reaches out and runs a hand down Peter's arm. "He doesn't even understand what a pack or an Alpha even is. He doesn't know what it means. I can see him saying the words, just to try to get along, but I can't see him treating it seriously. I don't know. I can't see him accepting it like I'd need him to." Stiles moves in closer. "And stop saying it's my pack. It's ours. Yours, too. And as for another beta, we don't know what's going on with Boyd. I don't remember, but when Erica wakes up, she can tell us."

"You'd steal another of my nephew's betas from him?" Peter asks.

"Not… not steal. Erica and Boyd left Derek. They were going to go back, but I guess our visiting nightmare pack grabbed them on their way back. But Erica seems to like the idea of me leading our pack, and Boyd loves Erica. I think he'd do pretty much whatever she wants, as long as it wasn't a stupid idea. He's known me longer than Derek, and it feels like it might be what's going to happen. So that's three betas."

"Or he might be dead," Peter points out. Stiles glares halfheartedly and sighs.

"He might be dead," he agrees. "In which case… does Derek really want to be an Alpha that badly? He'd make a good beta. Dependable. I know he's an Alpha but there's something about him. Is that possible, for him to make the change back? Without going through what you did, I mean."

Peter's silent for a few minutes, apparently thinking. He doesn't seem to have an answer handy.

"It's okay. Just something to consider," Stiles says. He drinks his water to wash down the taste of bacon and tomatoes. He feels good. Content. He wishes he could just go to bed, but there's one more thing to ask about. "Anchors. When Scott went through his 'control issues', he needed an anchor. I think I should be working on that. Like I'm surprised I didn't shred you to pieces when I kissed you. Why didn't I?" He can feel his face go hot as he reminds himself and Peter, but it's a fair question, and one he needs an answer to.

"Different people have different ideas of what an anchor should be. How to manage with them, what to do if your anchor breaks. I thought I had an unbreakable anchor. Turns out it wasn't foolproof, but neither is anything else."

Stiles looks at him. "Who was your anchor?" he asks.

Peter shakes his head. "All of them. My pack. I thought if the whole pack was my anchor, if someone died, well. The pack was always there, wasn't it?"

Stiles winces. "So what is your new anchor?"

"That's just it, Alpha. My pack is my anchor. There's nothing stronger, nothing more important. If I lose my pack again, I won't care if my control breaks."

"But before I said I'd be your Alpha? Before this, what did you use?"

Peter smiles. "The idea of a pack. Of what my pack could be. Derek, I suppose, but you, too. The feeling of what pack is, what it means. I didn't want another anchor. Nothing else could compare. So I rethought what pack meant to me, and I realized it's more than the people."

And Stiles understands that better now. He can't think of a lot of people who could understand it, though. Maybe that's why Peter chose him.

"I think I'm the same way," Stiles says. "I haven't really felt out of control since we talked about what pack is. What an Alpha is. Can you have an anchor without realizing it?"

"If it's that important to you?," Peter asks, then shrugs. "You tell me."

"I think we have the same anchor," Stiles says. "Sort of. It's not a concrete thing, is it? I can say pack is my anchor, but it's such a big concept. It's more than just a word."

"And that's one of the many reasons you're perfect to lead one," Peter says.

Stiles smirks. "Perfect, huh?"

"As close as you can get," Peter says.

Chapter Text

When Peter and Stiles finally went to sleep, it seemed natural to share a bed. Stiles knows it should be weird, but he's good with normal being thrown out the window in favor of being close to Pack. He did lie there for a few moments before huffing and maneuvering Peter and himself into a good position. It's not until after they've settled comfortably that he realizes he's made himself into the big spoon, Peter's back settled against his chest, Stiles's arm holding him close with one hand resting against Peter's heart.

It just feels right. Like it should be exactly this way. Part of Stiles feels content holding his beta, getting his scent all over him. Another part is quietly thrilling, because it may be the new normal, a werewolf thing, but it is still very new, and he's cuddling with the person he was kissing just a couple hours before.

Stiles wants to lie awake, pulling apart every sensation, every emotion, until they fall in line and make more sense. But the heat of Peter's body, the bone-deep satisfaction (shared by Peter, he feels through their bond) of having Pack this close, is dragging him into a relaxing doze.

Peter murmurs, "Good night, Alpha," and it's the last thing he knows for hours.

Stiles wakes once, at sunrise, to see Erica standing at the door, fiddling with the hem of her shirt, her eyes on Stiles and Peter. Stiles can't stand that she's so unsure, but he understands this is new to her, too. He beckons her over, focusing on sending a pulse of welcome her way. She smiles, her whole body language changing from shy and unsure to… well. She reminds Stiles of an exuberant puppy.

When Stiles rolls onto his back, Peter turns over, not really awake, to lay his head on Stiles's shoulder. Erica grins and wiggles up to Stiles's other side. She still smells like anxiety, but it's fading. Stiles wraps an arm around her, drawing out pain when he touches skin. Erica relaxes with a sigh.

"It's not that bad now," she whispers. "I'm mostly healed up."

Stiles doesn't argue, even though he can feel the echo of her pain as he takes it. He kisses her hair and tells her to go back to sleep, instead.

"Thank you, Alpha," Erica whispers.

It's interesting, the feeling he gets from Erica saying it. It's a protective, warm feeling, but different from how he feels when Peter says the word.

He's too tired to pick it apart now. Or maybe he already knows the answers to the questions he'd ask himself.

It's a new day. Sure, it was a new day hours ago, but Stiles is a hundred percent awake now and ready to face it. Whatever 'it' may be.

He sends Peter out to buy fresh blueberries. Blueberry pancakes are one of Erica's favorites, and Peter says he knows how to make them. Hale family recipe. Stiles says he expects stack upon stack. He's starving, to be honest, and Erica probably is, too.

While Peter is gone, Erica wakes up and Stiles tells her — as steadily as he can — what happened with his father. About the dumb decision to go home instead of somewhere safer. About how his dad's confrontation made him feel trapped, and how it triggered a panic attack.

Erica rubs his back when he tells her about coming back to himself and finding his dad shredded. Seeing the blood on his claws.

"I'm anchored now," Stiles assures her. "I shouldn't lose control again. But it's hard to know what might happen if I have another freakout." Freakout sounds less violent. "I don't want to have to trigger another one just to see what happens, but I might have to."

"That… sucks," Erica says. "But I understand, you know? Kind of. When I was a kid, they put me through so many tests. EEGs don't sound so bad, it's just a bunch of electrodes on my scalp to catch seizure activity, right? But they had to trigger them sometimes, if I didn't have them on my own. They had to see what they looked like, and where they were coming from in my brain. So. They took my meds away first, and then they'd do different things to trigger them. Make me smell strong odors, or flash lights at me. It was something they had to do in order to know how best to treat me, but… it was still them triggering seizures when I was a scared little kid. And then I'd just lose control of my body. I'm not saying it's the same thing as a panic attack, but I figure it's the same loss of control. Or kinda the same, you know?"

It hurts to think of Erica having to go through that, especially when she was much younger, and Stiles turns around and hugs her. "I get exactly what you're saying. Thanks, Catwoman."

Erica laughs quietly and hugs back. He can feel her breathe in deep, taking in his scent. They all smell like Pack now, after their night of sleeping in the same bed, nuzzled together. Stiles likes how she doesn't just smell like him, but like Peter, too. It's good like that, the three of them meshed together into one really amazing Pack scent. Stiles figures that's what Erica smells, too.

Stiles is about to comment on how weirdly amazing being a werewolf is when he hears Peter outside the door. Only he isn't alone.

"Look who I found loitering in the produce section," Peter says, and behind him is Derek. But Peter is relaxed, giving Stiles a steady gaze, and Stiles nods at him and tries not to tense up.

Erica takes her cue from Stiles and Peter, though she angles her body behind Stiles's, just a little.

Stiles clears his throat. "Hey, Derek," he says. It's almost surreal, after last night, to be greeting Derek this way. But other than throwing him out or getting hostile and possibly ruining everything again, he doesn't have many options.

Derek looks uncomfortable, but he nods in reply. When he doesn't say anything, Stiles looks to Peter, raising his eyebrows.

Peter smiles. "Derek is going to help me make breakfast."

Stiles can feel his face doing its most surprised expression. Peter doesn't laugh out loud, but his amusement comes along the pack bond loud and clear. Erica lets out a quiet snicker as she relaxes.

"I didn't say I'd do that," Derek grumbles.

"Blueberry pancakes, nephew. For a room of hungry werewolves. Don't make me make them all by myself," Peter says to him.

Derek looks surprised. Then resigned. And something else Stiles doesn't understand, but he thinks is a positive emotion showing through. Maybe something like hope.

Erica relaxes even more as she and Stiles watch the Hales fall into what must be a familiar pattern. They move around each other as they gather ingredients together, as Peter washes off the fresh blueberries and Derek stirs melted butter into the pancake batter.

Stiles gets a sense of family and bittersweet give and take. Peter is holding in his emotions well — nothing but determination is visible on his face — but Stiles can feel his tender hope and bitter grief wrapped together. Erica probably doesn't feel it as strongly, but she leans against Stiles's shoulder anyway, and together they continue to watch what might as well be a glimpse into the past. A shadow of what was, before the fire.

As eager as Stiles is to learn what Erica has to say, all the facts and truths she has yet to reveal, he doesn't want her to interrupt the careful cooking choreography Peter and Derek have going on. Erica must know without being told, though, because she stays quiet. Once, she shifts on the kitchen stool beside Stiles and he reaches out to leech her pain. There's not much there now, but Stiles is still grateful he can do it for her.

Peter and Derek create stacks and stacks of fragrant pancakes dotted with blueberries. There's really a lot there, even more than four werewolves can eat, Stiles thinks.

"Did you want to invite Isaac over?" Stiles asks.

Derek shakes his head. "I'll wrap some up for him later."

And that's that, apparently.

There's not much said as they eat, other than a few happy sounds of pleasure. The pancakes are delicious, especially dripping in maple syrup. They all eat fast, like they're starving. Stiles has always eaten with less than stellar manners, but apparently the phrase 'wolf it down' is a perfect description now. Somehow, Peter manages to look classy as he practically inhales his own food, even though he eats as fast as the rest of them do.

Stiles and Peter clear up the plates and load the dishwasher, and then it's time.

Everyone looks at Erica and she laughs, even while shifting uncomfortably. They're sitting in the living room now, and Stiles nods at her.

"Just start at the beginning, I guess," he tells her, and she takes a breath and begins to speak.

She looks at Stiles when she describes being let go from the Argent basement. She only talks about what happened there in vague terms, but Stiles can feel Peter's curiosity piqued. Erica doesn't mention what happened to Stiles, but she doesn't have to. Stiles remembers Peter's eyes on him then. He knows the man wouldn't have missed the evidence marking Stiles's face or how he held himself that night.

But then Erica talks about how quickly she and Boyd were captured soon after, on their way back to Derek. Stiles sees Derek twitch at that, but he doesn't interrupt.

Erica talks about her and Boyd being prisoners of the Alpha pack. She describes them, names them. Peter's sharp surprise when he hears the name of the Alpha pack's leader almost has Stiles interrupting and demanding information, but he figures Derek had the right idea. They should let Erica get it all out at once.

"They have someone else, too," Erica says, looking back and forth at Peter and Derek. "She said her name is Cora. Cora Hale."

Derek immediately starts to argue that it's impossible, that it can't be his sister. Peter is quiet for a moment, lets him say his piece.

"Look, all I know is what she told me," Erica says.

"It's possible," Peter says with a frown. He looks down at his hands. "I don't remember much more than the fire and the screaming-"

Derek shudders.

"-but I remember trying to get one of the children out. I remember pushing someone through a barred window, but if that's a memory or a dream…" He looks lost. Like he's afraid to be hopeful. Stiles touches the back of his hand and Peter grabs on and holds tight. Stiles isn't sure if he's aware of it, but he'll offer as much comfort as he can.

Erica starts explaining more, halting as she begins again. Stiles nods at her and her confidence returns. "We were separated most of the time. I hadn't seen Boyd or Cora for awhile before they brought Stiles in and put him in with me."

"Do you know why they took him?" Peter asks.

Erica looks at Stiles and back at Peter. "They were pretty open about it. They wanted to freak out McCall. But they kept coming back to ask questions. Mostly about Scott and Derek, but a lot about the Argents, too. Especially Gerard."

Stiles swallows. "I'm assuming I didn't want to answer any questions they had."

Erica doesn't look pitying, but she does look sad. "Yeah, you kinda pissed them off. A lot. And they weren't very patient with you."

"If they wanted to freak out Scott, why didn't they tell him they had me?"

"I think they were going to, but they were waiting for something. I don't know what," Erica says.

"Maybe they were testing to see if Scott could sense it through a pack bond," Peter murmurs.

"Scott's never mentioned… I don't think he has any pack bonds," Stiles says. He's not sure how he feels about that. Now that he has a pack, as small and new as it is, he can't imagine being a werewolf and not having bonds with pack members. Or not having a pack. Scott said in the past that Stiles was Pack, but if that was true…

Well, it's obvious it isn't.

"Why did they give me the Bite?" Stiles asks.

Erica shakes her head and gives him a rueful smile. "It was accidental. You pissed off Kali and she snapped at you. Like, she literally snapped. And bit you. So then there was a huge fight where...I don't know what happened, we just heard it from another room. They left you there with me while you turned. And that's when we planned our escape. Except they ended up letting you go, so it was really just my escape. But hey, plan worked, I got free. Thanks for that, by the way. I know you don't remember… but thanks."

Derek has been scowling for at least five minutes now. Stiles wonders if he should tease him about getting his face stuck like that. Probably not. They're just barely coexisting at the moment and while normally he'd be all about trying to get a rise out of Derek, Stiles actually has to think about what's good for his pack. What's good is probably working together with Derek's pack and not antagonizing the other Alpha.

"So they just let him go… why?" Derek asks.

"Good question," Stiles says. He gives Derek a thumbs up. Derek doesn't look appreciative of his praise.

"To sow chaos," Peter answers. "They seemed interested in Derek and Scott, so they probably wanted to make things difficult for them. Throwing a new werewolf into the mix would usually do that. And taking his memories would make things even more uncertain. Imagine if Stiles hadn't found an anchor so soon. Or if Scott had leapt to conclusions and assumed Derek bit Stiles without listening to anyone's side. Or if Stiles had assumed it. Really, I could go on. They may not have meant to turn him, but they used the situation the best way they could have if they wanted to make a total mess of Beacon Hills. Or at least, that would be their thinking."

Erica nods. "From what I heard, that's exactly what they thought."

"Well they messed with the wrong damn person," Stiles says.

Peter smiles at him, practically beaming, really. "I'm sure you'll make them pay."

Stiles grins, letting a hint of fang show.

Erica bumps his shoulder. "You look kinda hot when you look evil," she says.

Stiles peeks at Peter. Who gives him a knowing look. "I'd agree but I don't want to feed your ego, Alpha."

Now Stiles can't help either his grin or the the flush of his cheeks. Peter leans in, and it's like the rest of the room disappears, though Stiles can hear a little grumbling from Derek. Stiles doesn't know what Peter is going to say, or do, and he doesn't get to find out, either. Because that's when Peter's phone rings.

Peter answers, then hands it over to Stiles. He doesn't have to say who's there, since Stiles heard Scott's voice loud and clear.

Chapter Text

Stiles looks into the mirror, not sure if he's happy with the sideburns. His beta form… well. It's interesting. At the moment his eyes are glowing gold, not red, and he's got some impressive forehead ridges. He guesses they're attractive in a certain way, if you like the Halloween look, but it's not for him. He lets it go and his face settles back into its human form.

His face has more than one form now. It's freaky.

He can hear Peter outside the bathroom door, just breathing, his heartbeat steady. It warms him, that his beta wants to stay close. But it's also a little sad, because he knows Peter is afraid of losing him. Of losing his place in their fledgling pack.

"You might as well come in," Stiles says.

Peter opens the door and smiles at him. It's amazing how many genuine smiles Stiles is getting out of the man lately. "What are you doing?"

Stiles shifts his face to show Peter, gesturing at the mirror. "Being a dork," he says around a mouth of sudden fangs.

"I don't know what it's like to suddenly be different, to be a werewolf this way. But I can imagine it's… interesting." Peter watches Stiles, eyes roaming over his face.

"I was thinking about how to get my eyes to glow red again," Stiles says. "I feel like I'm half an Alpha, really."

"It happened when you were feeling particularly possessive and protective, am I right?" Peter asks.

Stiles sighs and looks at his watch. "Yeah. But it'll have to wait until later. I have to go meet Scott at the hospital."

Peter steps behind him and hooks his chin over Stiles's shoulder. They make a nice pair, Stiles thinks, seeing how they look together in the mirror. Peter rubs his goatee against skin, where Stiles's shirt collar is eskew. "You should have told Scott you wanted to see your father alone."

The hairs on Peter's chin tickle. Stiles rolls his eyes. Turns his head a little and kisses Peter's temple before he can think about what he's doing. It's odd. Little gestures of affection between them, between them and Erica, too, seem completely natural. Maybe they are. Pack. It's still weird. Weird that it isn't weird.

"I have to face him sooner or later. This way he thinks he's doing me a favor, being there with my dad to tell him stuff. I mean, I know Melissa already filled him in, but I'm sure Scott probably thinks… I don't know. That I need him, I guess." Stiles winces a little. That sounds a little too cold. Scott's his best friend, his brother, and…

Well, he doesn't need him. His wolf doesn't want anything to do with him, and Stiles really isn't looking forward to the upcoming conversation when Stiles reveals he's in a pack with Erica and Peter but not Scott.

"Don't worry too much," Peter says. "You're our Alpha. You're capable of dealing with Scott."

Stiles makes a face in the mirror. "My eyes say I'm not Alpha enough, though," he says.

"Close your eyes."

Stiles balks. "What?"

"Trust me. Close your eyes," Peter repeats.

And Stiles does trust him. So he does.

"Think about your pack. Think about me, and Erica. About how being an Alpha makes you feel. What it means to you. Think about the power and how you'll use that power to protect us and keep us safe. How you'll take care of us."

Stiles isn't dumb. He knows what Peter is trying to do. He's honestly curious about whether it will work, so he does as he's told. Peter's his pack. Erica is his pack. They're small and more than a little fucked up, but they're good. Ohana or some shit. And Stiles will use every drop of blood he has inside him, every ounce of power, every drop of sweat, to keep them close. To keep them safe.

"Scott won't take us from you. Neither will Derek. Because we're yours, Alpha. We're your pack, and we don't want it any other way."

And while Peter hasn't said the words yet, he knows it's time to open his eyes. To see the red glow staring back at him.

It's there. Peter grins, triumphant, and Stiles shakes his head. He feels pretty triumphant too, though, so he's not going to make a big deal about it.

He may turn around and press Peter against the wall, though. "You're mine," Stiles says, and Peter doesn't answer in words. He bares his throat and Stiles follows his instincts. He nips at a tendon and scents his beta thoroughly.

Outside the bathroom, he hears Erica tease him. It's enough to make him pull back, embarrassed.

But Peter just keeps smiling, even as Stiles walks out of the bathroom, not making eye contact with him again.

Derek's long gone since breakfast was over, so it's just the three of them in the apartment. Stiles flashes his eyes at Erica and they must still be red because she whoops and hugs him.

At least, he thinks, something is going right. And while he's still anxious about meeting with Scott, he's much more confident now.

Scott isn't at the hospital when Stiles gets there. It's confusing because Stiles was expecting a McCall brand ambush. But thankfully, Scott is nowhere to be seen and Stiles can walk right into his father's room without having to explain where he's been or what he's been doing to his best friend. No, he just has to explain to his dad.

He pauses when he walks in. His dad is pale, but he doesn't look like he's in trouble. Stiles doesn't have to listen for his heartbeat because a nearby machine is doing that for him. His eyes are closed and Stiles has a moment of wondering whether he should wake him up or let him sleep before he hears, "Well come on and sit down, son. Don't just stand there."

Then his father opens his eyes and smiles. Oh, thank god.

"Hey. Hi," Stiles says, and twitches in the direction of the waiting chair. Which is closer to his dad than he is now. "I'm not gonna freak you out or anything, am I?"

His dad looks like he's about to say something dry and sarcastic, but he seems to stop himself before shaking his head.

Stiles can only imagine what he was going to say. Something like are you going to turn into a monster and attempt to maul me again? So it's probably a good thing he didn't say it. That would've burned.

He sits in the chair and leans forward. Puts his hand on the bed's rail. His father doesn't flinch back or anything, so maybe it's okay.

"I'm really sorry," Stiles says. He winces at how very sorry that actually sounds. Pathetic, really. "I should've known better than to go home."

"You want to tell me what happened?" his dad asks.

"What do you know already?" Stiles asks. He's not sure where to start.

"Werewolves. Scott got bitten last year by Peter Hale, who was also the one behind all the damn animal attacks," his dad says.

Stiles bites his lip and runs a hand over the back of his head. "Melissa told you that?"

"No. Scott was here. He also told me Derek Hale killed his uncle but somehow he came back to life? It didn't make a lot of sense to me except to make me feel like I should question everything I ever knew about this town."

"Scott was supposed to meet me here," Stiles says instead of commenting on various Hales and who they have or haven't killed.

"I sent him out to get the biggest burger he could find. I told him after everything he told me, I needed some red meat." His dad smiles but it looks forced. Not at all relaxed.

Stiles opens his mouth to protest his father eating heart attack inducing foods, but he cuts it off before it's out. "Fair."

"He told me only an Alpha can turn someone, and that maybe I need to be going after Derek Hale if I want someone to blame."

"What?" Stiles says, startling so bad he almost falls off his chair. "No! No, Derek didn't bite me."

"Then who?"

Stiles sighs. "An Alpha named Kali, as far as I know. They took my memories. But there's a whole pack of Alphas in town for some reason, possibly just to make our lives harder, and that's who took me and turned me."

"Scott didn't say anything about that," his dad says.

"Scott doesn't know. Scott doesn't know a lot of things," Stiles mutters.

"What's that supposed to mean? Is there something else you're keeping from me? I had to find out about werewolves by... " He trails off and Stiles feels a pulse of guilt.

"I'm sorry," Stiles says quietly.

"I just would like to know things before they come around to bite me, so to speak," his dad says wryly.

"I don't know if I'm ready to tell you about it," Stiles says. It's honest. That's important, right?

"Is it dangerous?" his father asks.

"It could be? But I have an anchor now, and I don't think I'll be accidentally attacking anyone else."

"Scott made it sound like you'd be out of control for some time."

Stiles snorts. "Who do you think taught Scott control? Or at least, I tried to. He's not a hundred percent, I don't think."

"It may be different when it's yourself, though," his dad points out.

Stiles shakes his head. "Nah. I've actually got this one."

"Oh, you do, do you?" his dad asks, sounding like he doesn't believe him.

"I'm anchored. I've got a pack," Stiles says. When his dad raises his eyebrows, silently asking him to go on, Stiles continues with, "We're a small pack, just me and Peter and Erica, so far, but it's enough. I'm not going feral or losing it, and I can control my shift now… though I know it's kinda weird that I'm doing so well this soon, but I am. I may not stay this way once the full moon comes up, but for now the populace of Beacon Hills is safe from maulings."

It's not until after Stiles has said it out loud that he realizes he should have kept the last bit to himself. Since he's actually mauled his father already.

But his dad just says, "That's good to hear," with a funny look on his face.

Stiles winces. "What?"

"Peter and Erica? Not me? Not Scott? The murderer who came back to life and… do you mean Erica Reyes? The girl who went missing with her boyfriend? Boyd, right? Vernon Boyd."

Stiles takes a deep breath. "Which of those questions do you want an answer to first? Because there's a lot of information and I'd rather you rest instead of worrying about stuff I've got a handle on."

His dad looks worried. Stressed. Stiles wishes that wasn't the case.

"Look," Stiles says when his dad doesn't answer. "A lot is going on right now-"

"And I'm your father; I'd like to hear about it. You've kept enough from me over the past months. Christ, Stiles, you could have been killed. Or hurt… Who really beat you up after that game? Can you tell me now?"

"Did Scott tell you about the Argents?" Stiles asks.

"Just that he's on a break with Allison, which I already knew."

"Figures," Stiles mutters. "The Argent family are werewolf hunters. And like, I guess they hunt other stuff but they've got some serious historical beef with werewolves. Allison's grandfather in particular…" He trails off. He doesn't like talking about Gerard.

His dad's eyes are shrewd. "Allison's grandfather took you after the game and beat you up? The principal of your school who's now disappeared?"

Stiles nods.

"Where is he, do you know?"

"I don't know, but maybe Scott does," Stiles says. "I never asked what happened with him, which I know is out of character for me but I honestly would rather not think about him at all."

Stiles hears someone approaching, and when the door opens, he sees that it's Scott.

"Maybe Scott can tell us now," the sheriff says.

Scott stops, looking at Stiles. He's holding a styrofoam to go box that smells like something delicious his father shouldn't be eating.

"Why don't we hold off on it for now," Stiles murmurs.

"Stiles!" Scott says. He frowns. "Maybe you shouldn't be in here alone with your dad. That's why I wanted to be here when you visited, in case something happened again."

Stiles freezes. He hasn't talked to Scott for longer than a few minutes since he hurt his dad, and they haven't talked about it. "I'm okay. I have an anchor, I'm not going to hurt anyone now."

Scott frowns harder, then opens his mouth — and Stiles can tell it's to disagree, so he's ready to talk right over him if he has to.

But his dad say something, instead. "Stiles has been fine since he's been here so far, and I trust him. If he says he has this under control, I believe him."

"I wouldn't have come if I thought I'd put anyone in danger," Stiles says.

"But remember when I thought I had a handle on it? Remember when I thought I could go to a party on a full moon? It's easy to get overconfident when-"

"Buddy, I understand what you're saying and I appreciate it," Stiles says slowly, even though it's not completely the truth. It's actually pretty annoying, but he does get where Scott is coming from. "But I wouldn't put my dad at risk again. I swear, I'm okay. Okay? Look at me. I'm not flashing my eyes or growing claws or anything."

Scott watches him for a moment before he jerks his head in a nod. "Yeah, alright."

"I was telling dad about how I got wolf-ified, and I think you should hear it, too. There's a pack of Alphas in town. We don't know what they want yet, but they kidnapped Erica and Boyd and Cora Hale, too-"

"Who's that?" Scott asks, while Stiles's dad looks astonished.

"Peter's niece, Derek's sister — she's about our age, maybe a year older. Somehow she survived the fire, and… well, I don't know where she's been all this time, but she's being held hostage with Boyd."

"What about Erica?" Scott asks.

Stiles feels a frisson of pride in his beta. "She escaped. She's at Peter's right now."

"...Why? I mean, why not Derek's? Isn't he her Alpha?" Scott asks.

Stiles growls low before he can stop it. "No, she's-" Mine, he doesn't say. Scott wouldn't understand, would get it all wrong. And Stiles isn't ready to share his Alpha status with Scott yet. Not when he's not sure how he'll take it.

Scott raises his eyebrows in question.

"I don't want to talk about it," Stiles says truthfully.

"So… a pack of Alphas? More than one Alpha?" Scott asks after a moment when the air is full of tense discomfort. "And one of them bit you? Not Derek?"

Stiles rolls his eyes. "Yes, a pack. I don't know how it works, before you ask. And one of the Alphas is named Kali. She's the one who bit me."

"What's she look like? I can put a BOLO out on her," the sheriff says.

Stiles is already shaking his head. "You can't. She's too strong. Any werewolf is too much for humans who don't know about them, and even those who do. And she's an Alpha. Plus…" he trails off, not sure how to explain this.

"Son, spit it out," his dad says with a wry grin.

"I don't know what she looks like? I need to ask Erica for descriptions of the Alpha pack," Stiles says.

"You were taken by the pack but you don't know what they look like?" his father asks skeptically. "Were you blindfolded the entire time?"

"They took my memories, okay?" Stiles says. He's angry about this, still. He hates that his memories were taken, tampered with.

"What? How?" Scott asks.

"I assume this is more supernatural weirdness," his dad says with a sigh, looking at Stiles worriedly.

"Apparently sometimes werewolves can take away memories by sticking their claws-" he motions to the back of his neck, "-back here, like this. I don't know, Peter told me about it. It explains why I don't remember anything while Erica does."

"...Are you sure you can trust her?" Scott asks.

Stiles frowns. "Yeah? Why wouldn't I?"

"What if this is something Derek is putting her up to tell you?" Scott asks. "It wouldn't be the first time she did something because Derek told her to."

Stiles thinks about it. Remembers when Derek had her trying to seduce Scott. Or go after the kanima, or when she hit him over the head…

It doesn't make him trust Erica any less, but it does make him want to have a conversation with Derek about leadership.

He shakes his head. "It's not Derek, okay?"

"But what if he's the one who bit you?" Scott asks.

"He didn't!" Stiles growls.

"You're acting weird," Scott says. "You aren't even a little bit suspicious? You're usually suspicious of everyone. All the time."

"Erica's in his pack," his dad says shrewdly. Damn, Stiles had almost forgotten where they were.

"I'm not talking about this right now," Stiles says. Not with Scott, in the hospital. He's seen what happens when Scott gets mad, and he's not risking his dad like that.

Scott frowns. "What's 'this'? What don't you want to talk about?"

Stiles sends his dad a pleading look. He hopes it conveys 'don't mention Peter'. "I'll tell you, but not right now, okay Scott?"

"Why can't you tell me right now?" Scott asks.

Stiles shakes his head. He leans over and pats his dad on the shoulder, gently.

His father nods. "Call me. We'll talk it out later."

"Stiles!" Scott says.

Stiles shakes his head and pulls Scott out by his arm, and leads him to the exit. "C'mon, let's go somewhere else," Stiles says.

"So you can tell me what the hell has you acting so weird?"

"Yes. That, exactly," Stiles agrees.

Stiles thinks about dragging Scott out to the woods for this conversation, but he thinks that might make 'talking' turn to 'fighting' even faster. What with convenient trees for them to knock each other into and all. And while it's possible Stiles is stronger, faster, and generally more awesome than Scott since he's got the boost of being an Alpha, he… doesn't really want to hurt Scott. He would, if he threatened his pack. He would if he had to. But that isn't the case, here.

The biggest thing Stiles is worried Scott will react to is Peter's place in Stiles's life now. He knows it's going to be an issue. But he wants to minimize the fallout as much as possible.

The woods are out. A public place? Also out, because if Scott starts yelling loudly about werewolves or murder sprees… well, it's not that Stiles doesn't get enough looks in town anyway, but he'd like to keep that to a minimum.

"Where are we going?" Scott asks while they're walking down the sidewalk.

"I need to get my Jeep and my phone," Stiles says. "And we need a private place to talk. So… home. My house."

"We're walking to your house?" Scott asks. "That's like… miles."

Stiles smirks at him. "You can walk if you want. I'm running," he says, and takes off. "Race you!" he calls over his shoulder.

He doesn't run as fast as he can. But it's still fast, and while Stiles has run suicides enough for Coach, they were never, ever enjoyable. This? Running down the road with wind in his face and the rhythmic slap of his shoes on concrete? Is great. Because his heart's not going to beat out of his chest and he can breathe just fine. Even after several blocks, he's still running, and he's only sweating because of the heat.

Scott must have felt like this, only moreso because of his asthma, when he was turned. It's incredible. Stiles wonders how anyone feeling this could miss being human. But maybe that's just further proof that Stiles was born for this.

There's yellow police tape at Stiles's front door. It brings him up short because he was in such a great headspace, and he was just going home, not back to the scene of his crime. It's not as bad as seeing his dad in the hospital because of his actions, but it's still pretty bad. He turned his home into a crime scene. The one place his dad should have been safe, and Stiles ruined it, shattered the peace.

It's amazing his father is still talking to him.

Scott, thankfully, doesn't say anything when Stiles takes the tape away and into the house. He has to use the key on top of the outdoor light fixture to get in, since he didn't take his keys with him when he fled.

Stiles throws the tape in the kitchen trash once he reaches it, and then digs through the fridge for a soda.

"Are you gonna talk now?" Scott asks. "You're being way too quiet and it's freaking me out."

"I don't know where to start," Stiles says truthfully. He takes a long gulp of soda, feeling extremely thirsty all of a sudden. It's either because he just ran four miles nonstop or because he's procrastinating. Or both, maybe.

"Where've you been? I would've thought you'd come to me after what happened," Scott says.

Stiles… didn't even think of going to Scott, did he? "I went straight to Derek," he admits. "But I don't know why. I just… did."

Scott makes a hurt sound. "Derek?"

"Yeah. He was pissed off and maybe I felt like I deserved to get my insides ripped out by him or something, I don't know," Stiles says, and remembers that nearly happened.

"Obviously he didn't kill you," Scott says.

"Peter didn't let him," Stiles says. He looks at Scott. "He helped me."

"Derek did? Or… Peter? You can't be talking about Peter," Scott says incredulously. "He wouldn't help anyone… I mean unless there was something in it for him."

Stiles sits his can of soda on the counter and fists his hands. It's dumb to get mad at Scott over this. Scott has the worst kind of history with Peter. Stiles knows that. He also knows that's going to make this conversation as bad as it can possibly get.

"He helped me," he repeats, "and yeah, there was sorta something he wanted and that's why he was nice and all-"

"Nice?" Scott chokes.

"Well I mean, it's Peter so… But yeah. He was really helpful. Kept me from tearing myself up whenever I got upset, too, or at least cleaned it up after," Stiles says, smiling a little because yeah, that really was nice of him. Stiles was too far out of it to care at the time, but now that he looks back on it, he appreciates it even more.

"So what did he want?" Scott asks. "You said he wanted something."

Stiles closes his eyes. He thinks about Peter. He thinks about Erica. About protecting them and keeping them safe.

He opens his eyes and Scott yelps and takes two steps back, and only that much because he hits the stove and can't go back any further.

"What the hell, Stiles?" Scott yells. "Did you… did you kill somebody?"

Stiles blinks and shakes his head. "No, and I'm kinda freaked out that it's the first thing you go to?"

"How else.. Your eyes are red!"

"Yeah. I'm an Alpha," Stiles says. "Peter says-"

"You can't trust anything Peter Hale says, have you lost it?" Scott exclaims. "He's insane. Literally insane! And probably wants to be an Alpha again so he's… getting close to you so he can take your power, he's gonna kill you!"

Stiles growls. "Scott, calm the fuck down!"

"No, because you're acting like this is okay! How are you an Alpha?" Scott asks, going back to the first question.

Stiles sighs. "I'm just naturally that awesome?"

Apparently it's Scott's turn to growl. "Stop trying to be funny and answer me."

"I am," Stiles says. "That's pretty much the answer. Sometimes werewolves are trained to be Alphas and come into the power that way. That's how it happens in a lot of packs. So that new Alphas can take over when the old ones want to retire, but without any bloodshed. And sometimes it happens more spontaneously, like with me, when someone really understands what it means and… I don't know, when they're called to it."

"You've only been a werewolf for a couple of days!" Scott says, his scent one of confusion and anger. Jealousy, too, if Stiles is honest with himself.

"And I've probably always been an Alpha," Stiles says. "Or always was meant to be one, anyway."

"I bet Derek loves that," Scott says. "You're not gonna go around biting people, are you?"

Stiles tilts his head. "Well, I mean... under the right circumstances I might," he answers. "Like if my dad was dying, or if I needed to expand the pack and I found someone really perfect for us."

"You can't go around turning- Wait, hold on. Who's 'us'? Who is your pack?" Scott asks, frowning.

Stiles breathes. "Right now it's just me, Erica, and Peter. I still have to talk to dad about being pack, but-"

"What do you mean Peter?" Scott asks, too loud for Stiles's newly sharp hearing.

"Not so loud," Stiles says, wincing.

"Oh I'm sorry, you just told me you want to be pack with Peter Hale and you want me to keep it down!" Scott yells. "He's a murderer! He bit me on a crazy revenge rampage and then tried to turn me into a murderer! You're acting like he's your friend!"

"He's my pack," Stiles grits out between his teeth. "And that means more to me than it does to you."

"What?" Scott asks.

"Like when you joined Derek's pack, remember?" Stiles asks. "Then you turned around and betrayed him. He was your Alpha-"

"Derek was never my Alpha," Scott says. "I just told him that he was."

"You worked with hunters when you were supposed to be Derek's pack! You used him!" Stiles growls. "I would never do that to pack. Ever." Something flits across Scott's face that makes Stiles take notice. "What was that?"

"What? Nothing," Scott says, quick and defensive.

Stiles shakes his head. "What did you do, Scott?"

"Stop trying to turn the conversation around," Scott says. "And tell me why you think Peter's worth being in your pack but I'm not? I'm your best friend and he's a psycho. And why Erica? I mean, we barely even know her."

"She's my beta. So is Peter," Stiles says. "I'm not going to sit here and defend them to you, because you wouldn't even hear what I had to say anyway. You don't understand what pack means, you-"

"What, because I didn't want Derek to Alpha me around so I don't know anything? I'm not as stupid as you think I am," Scott says bitterly.

Stiles frowns. "Dude, I know you're not stupid. I never said you were."

"You just told me I don't know what pack means! I know what it means!"

"You don't or you wouldn't have done that to Derek!" Stiles says.

Again, a weird look crosses Scott's face.

"What the hell did you do, Scott?" Stiles asks, dreading the answer.

"It's nothing!" Scott growls and shakes his head. "It doesn't even matter. My plan worked, I was right, that's what matters."

"Right about what?" Stiles asks.

Scott shakes his head. "I don't think I should tell you. I don't think I should be telling you anything, since we aren't pack, right? You don't trust me, I shouldn't trust you."

"Who's your pack, Scott?" Stiles asks. "You need to find an Alpha. You're an omega now, and that's not good. That's… really fucking bad, dude. You'll get yourself killed."

"Well it's obviously not going to be you," Scott says. "I don't even see how we can be friends anymore after this. Taking Peter's side over me? That's low. That's beyond low. You know what he is. What he's done. But you still…? So no, I don't want to hear anything you have to say."

Scott gets up and leaves out the back door.

Stiles thinks back over the conversation. It's not that he can't see Scott's side. But… Scott can't see his side. And there's also something else, something Scott was keeping from him. Something he can tell Scott knew he wouldn't like.

He's going to ask Derek about it the next chance he gets.

Stiles sighs and goes upstairs to pack up some clothes, and at the last minute grabs the quilt his mom made him, too.

He thinks about what will happen when his dad gets home, when Stiles will want to stay with his pack but have to come back. There's still time to work it out, but for now Stiles is unsure. Right now he just wants to get back to Peter and Erica, to spend time with them. To reassure himself with his pack. He already knows they're waiting for him to return. He can feel them, has been able to feel them all along.

Both of them have been feeling anxious about his meeting with Scott. Both of them will need as much reassurance as he does when he returns to them.

He looks forward to it.

Chapter Text

There's a nice dinner waiting for him when he gets back to Peter's apartment, and both Peter and Erica are pleased when Stiles grins and compliments the food. After the three of them eat, they talk.

"You look stressed," Erica says. "Everything okay with your dad?"

"I think so?" Stiles says. "It's Scott I'm 'stressed' about. I think he just dumped me."

Erica shakes her head and hugs him from the side. Peter ducks his head, probably hiding a sneer. Stiles doesn't mind. He knows Peter and Scott will never get along. As long as it doesn't go beyond quiet (or not so quiet) mutual loathing, he's cool with it.

But Stiles can tell his betas are also under some stress. Peter hides it better, but Erica is biting her nails and practically pulling her hair. Stiles can feel both of them, though. Their pack bonds have grown stronger. "So what's going on with you two?"

"We need a plan," Peter says.

Erica nods. "Boyd and Cora are still the Alpha pack's hostages. We've got to get them back."

Stiles looks at Peter and can tell he's thinking the same thing. "We're not ready to fight them."

"No, but we can outsmart them for long enough to get my niece out of their clutches," Peter says. After a look from Erica, he adds, "And Boyd."

Stiles nods. "We're going to need Derek's help." Then, before they can argue, "Boyd is his beta and Cora is his sister. He's going to want in anyway. We've just got to find a way to work together."

"Boyd could be your beta," Erica says. "We don't know how it's going to go yet."

"We can't worry about that now," Stiles says. "But there's one thing I need to know, something Scott was keeping from me. What did he do to Derek?"

Erica shakes her head. "I don't know what you mean."

"I think I do," Peter says. "But I also think Derek should tell you, Alpha."

That's… odd, to say the least. But if Peter thinks it's best, Stiles will ask Derek and get the story from his own mouth. "I'll go talk to him. I need to ask him to work with us for Boyd and Cora, anyway."

"I'll go with you," Erica says.

"Are you sure you're okay with that?" Stiles asks.

Erica rolls her eyes. "As long as he's not trying to make me come back to his pack, I think I'll be just fine. And I don't think he will. He was fine last time."

"Yeah, Derek actually kind of got along with us. All of us," Stiles muses.

"Be careful," Peter says, and hesitates before brushing a kiss against Stiles's cheek. Stiles can feel Erica's surprise at the action, or maybe it's because he did it in the open, but when Stiles looks at her she's smirking.

"Don't keep it PG on my account," she says, eyes gleaming.

Stiles snorts and ignores her comment. "Let's go to Derek's."

He reaches out and clasps Peter's shoulder, rubbing his neck with his thumb. "Be good," he says quietly, more teasing than anything else. Then Stiles and Erica leave. They get into Stiles's Jeep, Erica keeping her eyes on him the whole time. It's an expectant look.

"What?" Stiles asks.

"You know what," she quips back. "So are you and uncle hottie a thing now?"

Stiles backs out of his parking place and shakes his head. He's on the road another full minute before answering. "I don't know."

"So you need to have the talk about defining the relationship, huh?" she says, smirking.

"I know you're joking but I might have to do that exactly," Stiles tells her. She's quiet now, listening. he goes on. "It hasn't gone far. Just a couple of kisses. And I'm not sure I trust him entirely."

"From what I hear about him, that's just being smart," Erica says.

"But he's Pack," Stiles says. He feels frustrated. Torn. He trusts Peter with some things but…

"So you mean you trust him with your life but you're not so sure about your heart?" Erica says.

"Blunt but accurate," Stiles mutters. "And it's not just my heart, it's… other stuff. I don't know what the hell I'm doing, really."

"Other stuff? Stiles, are you talking about your dick?" Erica asks.

Stiles cracks up. "Among other things," he says. He gets his laughter under control. "It's just that I'm in a position of power over him. And while I don't think I'd abuse it, I also think it'd be really fucking easy to do that."

Erica tilts her head and gives him a look. Stiles looks away from the road long enough to catch the expression. She thinks he just said something dumb.

"It's a valid concern?" Stiles says.

Erica snorts. "Do you honestly think Peter would let you abuse your position in the pack?"

"I don't know! The answer should be no but let me remind you I'm still incredibly new at this. At all of it. Werewolfing. Alphaing. Not to mention I'm a goddamn virgin. Half the time I'm afraid Peter's gonna turn around and tell me I'm being Punk'd."

Erica doesn't answer. Stiles can feel her thinking, turning everything he's said over in her head. By the time he pulls up in front of Derek's building, she's smiling softly.

He puts the Jeep in park and looks at her. "Got any great advice for me?"

"Yeah," she says. "Trust your instincts."

"Just like that, huh?" Stiles says with a smile.

"I think they've gotten you this far. Just take it slow and you'll work out what to do."

"Okay," Derek says, as if it's just that easy.

"Just like that?" Stiles asks.

Derek shrugs. "It's smart to team up. I want Cora and Boyd back as much as your pack does. Isaac will help, too."

Stiles looks at Erica, who seems relaxed but is actually more anxious than she lets on. He doesn't know if it's because she's there with Derek or because she's worried Stiles and Derek will fight. She looks up like she can tell he's worried. She gives him a smile.

"There was something else you wanted to ask him, so I'm just gonna go on outside. And wait." Erica waves and heads back out to the elevator.

Hmm. She must just have been wary of being around Derek again, though it could also be that she's just giving them privacy for what Stiles has to ask.

Stiles looks back at the other Alpha and sees him watching where she disappeared with a conflicted expression on his face. Then he frowns and turns back to Stiles.

"You wanted to ask me something?" Derek prompts.

And Stiles suddenly has a dozen questions. About werewolves. About being an Alpha. About pack and family. But most of those things Peter can answer, so he keeps them to himself. "It's about Scott. He did something, didn't he? Something to you. He won't tell me what it is, and Peter said it was up to you to tell me. But… what was it?"

"Besides joining my pack and then turning around and betraying me to hunters?" Derek asks dryly.

"Yeah… I never got the full story. Just that Scott tricked Gerard. But I don't know how."

Derek flexes his jaw and looks away. For a long moment, Stiles thinks he's not going to speak, but Stiles is willing to wait him out. Finally, Derek says, "He forced me to bite Gerard. He switched out Gerard's herbal remedy with mountain ash and then Gerard had Scott make me bite him."

Stiles winces. The bite is a gift, or at least it should be. It is in Derek's mind. "He used you as a weapon." Stiles says it plainly, and Derek jerks like he's been hit.

Derek turns around and walks toward the large window. "I'm sick of being used, Stiles."

And Stiles gets it. He does. And in that moment he feels almost as protective of Derek as he would one of his own betas. "If he'd told me, I would have stopped him," Stiles says. "You shouldn't have had to go through that."

Derek huffs. "It was a good plan," he says.

"He could have told you about it," Stiles says. "Given you the choice. I know I would have given you the choice."

"It doesn't matter now," Derek says. "What's done is done."

Stiles is about to answer when he feels something come along his bond with Erica. Fear. He tilts his head and listens for her, straining to find her. She wasn't supposed to go far.

"What is-" Derek says, then snarls. "Argent."

But Stiles is already sprinting out to the elevator to make his way down to his Jeep. Erica is alone with Chris Argent and her fear is leaking across the bond like poison.

She's cowering away from him. Obviously forgotten she's a werewolf and can fend for herself. But she's been through so much — first with Gerard and then with the Alpha pack — that all she knows how to do is cringe back. Definitely something they need to work on.

"Hey!" Stiles says as soon as he comes within reach. He pushes Chris away from Erica but the hunter quickly recovers. He pulls out a cattle prod and it crackles with way too much electricity. No way that thing is legal.

"Back off, Stiles," Chris says. "Touch me again and you're going down."

"Stay the fuck away from her," Stiles growls. "What do you think you're doing?"

"Just asking her some questions about her 'Alpha'. That's you now, right?" Chris says. "I heard what you did to your father. I've been wondering if you'll need to be put down."

Another bolt of fear hits him from Erica. Stiles says, "I'm under control but it looks like you aren't. What's wrong with you that you'd go after a teenage girl?"

"I'd like to know that, too," Derek says, stepping out of nowhere. It's a dramatic entrance, definitely fit for a Hale, Stiles thinks fondly.

Now Chris looks less confident. More wary, but maybe more angry as well. "This doesn't involve you, Hale."

Derek smirks. "You're harassing people in front of my property. That involves me."

Chris scowls. "I just heard Beacon Hills has a new Alpha, and that he's already hurt one person that we know of. Anyone else, Stiles? Did you kill for your new status?"

"It's none of your business what I've done. My father is going to be fine, and I've got a strong anchor now. And no, I didn't kill anyone for my red eyes," Stiles says. "Though I'd love to know where you heard about all this."

"Scott's concerned," Chris says. "He told Allison. I overheard and asked for clarification."

The protective rage that runs through Stiles in that moment is almost enough to knock him over. Scott. Scott did this, set a hunter, an Argent, after his beta. After him, too, but that barely matters. What matters is Erica's fear, and the way Chris is still intimidating her with his presence and words. It doesn't matter if Scott did it accidentally, or on purpose, or... whatever. Stiles is pissed.

Derek's phone rings. Stiles keeps his eyes on Chris but he can hear Derek pick up and speak to Peter.

Stiles stops, breathes, and sends reassurance down the pack bonds to both his betas. He needs to remember he's responsible for them, and can't just tear Chris apart for doing what he thinks is his job.

He'll deal with Scott later.

"Get out of here. Everything is fine," Stiles says.

"What about the Alpha pack?" Chris says. "You expect you can take them on yourselves?"

"If we need your help, we'll let you know," Derek says.

Erica is still silent and anxious, but the scent of her fear is dissipating and through the bond, Stiles can feel her anger growing, replacing it.

Chris puts his ridiculously overpowered cattle prod away and climbs into his ridiculously overcompensating SUV and drives away.

Stiles looks after it for a moment, then turns to hug Erica. "It's okay. I wouldn't let anything happen to you. Not again." She clings back.

On the phone, Derek finishes explaining about Scott. Then he hangs up, but not before Stiles hears Peter growl incoherently over the line.

He's not sure what it means, but it's probably not anything good.

"I just feel so stupid," Erica mumbles as Stiles follows her into Peter's apartment. Peter's not home, but Stiles didn't expect him to be. Not after that growl on the phone.

The thing is, Stiles knows he should be concerned about what Peter's doing. He knows he's angry, absolutely livid that Chris confronted Erica and scared her so much. A hunter. An Argent. Except Peter won't be going after Chris because of this, oh no.

Chris was working off information given to him by Scott. Scott's concern led to Erica being scared and practically traumatized all over again by someone they definitely can't trust.

And Stiles really wishes he cared more about what Peter might be saying to Scott, but at the moment he just can't muster the energy.

"You had every right to be freaked out by Chris," Stiles reassures her. "He's dangerous."

"Yeah but I forgot I was a werewolf and suddenly I was this… this weak little girl who couldn't take care of herself." She leans into him when he hugs her. Tucks her face into his neck and breathes a shuddering breath. "I don't like feeling helpless like that. It's like being…" She trails off and clings to him tighter.

He knows what she means. She doesn't like feeling helpless like when she was taken by Gerard, or the Alpha pack. She's scared of something like that happening again.

He makes grilled cheese sandwiches for him and Erica to eat, then bundles them both up on the sofa to watch reruns of Leverage. It's a show they both enjoy and it makes Erica feel safer to be cuddled next to her Alpha.

After one and a half episodes, Peter comes home. His posture relaxes when he sees them and he immediately comes over to sit on Erica's other side. He scents her cheek fondly and kisses her hair. Erica relaxes even more with Peter home, and Stiles does, too.

Not that he was really worried about Peter, but something settles inside him once his pack is together again.

For the moment, he won't worry about what Peter did to Scott. He doesn't smell of blood, just Scott's fear. Hopefully he only talked to him. Otherwise…

Well. Stiles isn't thinking about it right now.

Chapter Text

Stiles, Peter, and Erica doze together on the sofa, Netflix on in the background. Erica's still in the middle of them, though her fear and anxiety have dissipated. At this point, Stiles thinks he and Peter need the reassurance that she's okay more than she needs the comfort.

She's healed well, Stiles thinks. When he tries to draw her pain, he finds there's nothing more than a little ache, nothing she couldn't handle on her own. He draws it anyway.

It's very late now, and Stiles knows they should go to bed so they aren't complaining of pains in their necks in the morning. (Do werewolves get cricks in their necks?) He looks over at Peter, surprised to see his eyes open. The bond is quiet, content. Stiles thought he was sleeping.

"Bed?" Peter whispers.

Stiles nods and stands, stretching out a bit before picking Erica up easily. She snuggles against his chest but doesn't wake. She's still pretty exhausted. Peter turns off the TV and follows behind.

In bed, the small pack cuddles together. It should be overly warm or otherwise uncomfortable but it's not. It's perfect.

Stiles knows they won't always do this. That this is all because they're so new. Once they become more confident in their pack and their bonds, they won't need to cuddle together (though they might want to). But for now, they all need the reassurance. Erica needs to feel safe. Peter needs to know he's actually being included and cared for. And Stiles…

Stiles is getting the safety and reassurance and love from this, more than he would have thought. But also he gets a tremendous sense of pride from curling up together with his pack. They are his. They trust him. He's not going to let them down.

Stiles wakes to the sound of his phone ringing. It's on the nightstand and he picks it up and looks at the screen. It's his dad.


"What the hell is going on?" his dad asks.

"I… don't know?" Stiles says. He gets out of the bed despite Erica making drowsy grabby hands at him. Peter's awake of course, eyes on him.

"You need to get over to the McCalls'," his dad says tiredly. "Apparently something happened between Peter and Scott."

Stiles growls. "If I see Scott I might rip his head off," he says.

There's a pause. "Did something happen?"

"You could say that," Stiles says. "Scott blabbed a bunch of misinformation to a hunter, who turned around and ambushed Erica and scared the shit out of her."

"Language," his dad says automatically.

"Erica's been through enough," Stiles says, not acknowledging the censure. "Scott needs to watch his damn mouth."

"Apparently Peter thought so too," his dad says. "You should visit Scott. He's… well, he's healing slowly. He says he'll be okay, but he's in a lot of pain."

Stiles looks across the room at Peter, though he doesn't need to see his face to know what he's thinking. He's worried. Probably that Stiles won't like whatever he did to Scott.

"Dad, I… I guess I'll go see Scott," Stiles says, though something sour twists inside when he says it. "And I'll come see you later, okay?"

"Alright, son. I think that's all Melissa wanted me to tell you anyway."

Stiles says goodbye and ends the call. He looks over at Peter. "What'd you do?"

"Do you know the main function of pain, Stiles?" Peter asks instead of answering the question. "It's to teach us not to do stupid things. Scott did an extremely stupid thing, and he reaped the consequences." As confident as he is, Stiles can still tell Peter is nervous. Ready to be rejected for his actions.

Stiles wants to reassure Peter that he's not mad, but… maybe he is, a little. Or disappointed. Or… maybe he just doesn't know how he feels.

"I'm going to go see Scott," Stiles says carefully. "And when I get back, we're going to talk."

Peter winces. A pulse of fear comes down their bond.

Stiles steps up closer to him and puts a hand on Peter's shoulder. "It'll be okay," he says. Peter relaxes a little under his touch. He bares his throat, probably subconsciously. Stiles moves his hand to Peter's neck and thumbs over his pulse point. "We're pack. Whatever you're afraid of, it's not going to happen."

Peter grimaces. "You haven't seen Scott yet."

Stiles leans in and kisses his prickly cheek. "It'll be okay." It's a promise he knows he can keep. Scott isn't dead, he's just hurt. He'll heal.

Scott is definitely hurt. He's laid up in bed at home, unable to move much, casts on his arms and legs, ribs taped. He has splints on at least four fingers.

His face is fine. Not a single bruise on it. It just shows how meticulous Peter was when he went after him.

Scott's accusatory when he says, "I'm healing so slow because my mom had to reset everything. Peter splintered my bones. He made it so it would take forever to heal."

"It won't take forever. Just.. maybe a day or so," Stiles tells him. "And you'd heal faster if you weren't an omega."

Scott snorts. "I'm not joining any pack that has Peter in it."

"That wasn't an offer," Stiles says. "At this point I don't want you in my pack."

Scott has the audacity to look hurt. "What? Why not?"

"You set a fucking hunter on us!" Stiles snarls. "Erica was scared to death. You have no idea what she's been through!"

"How would I know?" Scott asks. "You're not telling me anything!" He struggles in the bed and winces, pain coming off him in waves. Stiles watches dispassionately.

"What, like you didn't tell me anything about what you did to Derek?" Stiles asks.

Scott frowns. "You can't trust Peter. Whatever he said about me-"

"I asked Derek," Stiles says.

That makes Scott close his mouth and look guilty. He smells like guilt, too.

"You know what you did was wrong," Stiles says. "And so was blabbing my pack's business to hunters. From now on, I don't want anything to do with you. And if you ever threaten my pack again, you'll wish a few broken bones was all you get."

"I didn't threaten anyone," Scott says mulishly.

"Erica sure felt threatened," Stiles says.

"That wasn't me!" Scott protests.

"It was indirect, sure. It was still your fault," Stiles says harshly.

"Barely," Scott says. "I didn't deserve this. Did you tell Peter to do this to me?"

Stiles shakes his head. "No. He did it on his own."

Scott snorts. "Maybe you should keep a leash on your attack dog then. He's psycho."

Stiles growls. "I didn't say I disapprove."


"Don't fuck with my pack, Scott," Stiles says, and turns to leave. Then he has a thought and turns back. "And don't fuck with Derek, either. He doesn't deserve it."

"Why do you even care about Derek?" Scott asks.

Stiles doesn't answer. He's done talking. He just shakes his head and leaves.

Stiles visits his dad, who — surprisingly enough — is getting ready to be discharged from the hospital.

"Did they say you could leave or are you checking yourself out?" Stiles asks.

His father has the decency to look sheepish. "A little of both."

"I know you hate hospitals, but-"

"They aren't doing anything but giving me bad food and bothering me all the time," his dad says. "There's no real reason for me to stay."

"I've only been back to the house once since…" Stiles says.

His dad frowns. "Where have you been sleeping?"

"At Peter's apartment," Stiles says. "With Peter and Erica."

"That's going to stop," his father says slowly.

"Well with you home, I'm going to have to be there to protect you," Stiles says. His dad splutters and Stiles explains. "I don't know what the Alpha pack is planning. Their plan with me backfired and Erica escaped from them. They might go after you in retaliation. I don't know. I don't know how they think or what they want…" He scowls. "I hate not knowing."

"But you're going to sleep at home from now on," his dad says.

Stiles nods. "But don't be surprised if Peter and Erica practically move in."

"Because they're your pack? I don't understand why they can't be pack in their own homes, son."

"We're small, new, and vulnerable. We feel better when we're together," Stiles explains.

His father is silent for some time. Stiles jitters his foot as he waits for some response, some form of understanding.

Finally, his dad sighs. "You don't do anything by halves, do you?"

Stiles smirks. "No, not really."

"I should know this by now. I don't know why I'm surprised." He sighs again. "Okay, now explain what happened with Scott."

Stiles does. His dad doesn't quite get why at first, but when Stiles tells him Erica is suffering trauma already from first Gerard Argent and then the Alpha pack, that she's fragile in a way she'd never admit to, he finally nods and at least acts like he gets why Peter could be so angry with Scott.

"And he'll heal, I suppose," he says.

Stiles nods.

His father gives him a steady look. "It's a bit of overkill what Peter did, though."

Stiles isn't so sure. But he's worried that Peter did it without talking about it. Without asking what Stiles wanted. Stiles is the Alpha, after all.

It's definitely something he's going to talk to Peter about.

"I'm not sorry," Peter says when Stiles confronts him.

"I didn't think you were," Stiles says. "I just want to know why. Why you jumped to this. Why you did it before talking to me about it."

Peter sighs and turns away. Stiles can hear Erica on the phone in the other room, talking to her mom. She's not ready to go home, she says. She's okay, though. She's fine.

(Her heart skips when she says that. Stiles wants to hug her. Again.)

Peter turns back and looks at him after a few minutes of quiet thinking. It's killing Stiles to be patient and let Peter gather his words together, but he's doing it. He thinks it's the right thing.

"My older sister was my Alpha. And I was her… enforcer, let's say. I did the dirty things that kept our pack safe, that my sister didn't want to hear about. Violent things. Bloody things. She looked to me to do what she found too distasteful but she never really accepted it."

"I'm not like that, Peter," Stiles says, shaking his head. He reaches out and snags Peter's hand to hold. "I wouldn't ask you to do something I wouldn't do myself."

"I know," Peter says. He smiles a little. "You're a good Alpha. But so was my sister."

Stiles isn't so sure about that. "She used you."

"For the good of the pack," Peter says. "And that's why I did it."

"And that's why you hurt Scott," Stiles says. "I get that. But you didn't have to hide it from me."

"I wasn't sure if you'd accept it," Peter says, looking down at where their hands are joined.

Stiles can hear the unspoken, I wasn't sure if you'd accept me.

"Peter, you're my pack. My beta. I'm proud of you, of your strength and.. and your cunning. Okay? And I don't disapprove of what you did to Scott. I just didn't understand why you did it, or why you didn't tell me."

"But you do now?" Peter asks. His hope is a fragile, tentative thing along their bond. Stiles wants to cup his hands around it and give it a safe shelter to grow.

Stiles nods. "I do."


Peter opens his mouth, closes it, and shakes his head. "You amaze me."

Stiles smirks. "I'm pretty amazing. Awesome, really." He feels giddy now. He's basking in Peter's relief and… something else he's afraid to put a name to.

Peter rolls his eyes and then leans in to rest his forehead against Stiles's. "Thank you, Alpha."

"Next time, just talk to me about it, okay?" Stiles murmurs.

"Okay," Peter breathes.

And then Erica bursts into the room and ruins the moment, if there was one. Stiles is grateful, really. He couldn't handle any more emotionally-wrought things, to be honest. Even if it was just a kiss.

Stiles goes back to his own house with a couple of tag-alongs. His father isn't so sure about having Peter around, though he's developing a bit of a soft spot for Erica. Peter likes to act like he doesn't care what anyone but Stiles and Erica think of him, while Erica is milking the extra attention.

And then Derek and Isaac show up.

"Isaac wanted to see her," Derek explains. Both Alphas are in agreement that this mixing of the packs should be allowed. Erica seems lighter with Isaac around, and Derek cares enough about her that he thinks that's a good thing, too. It's another thing Derek and Stiles can agree on.

Isaac and Erica sit side by side with their heads close together. They don't whisper exactly, but unless Stiles really pays attention he can't hear what they're saying. He gives them their privacy.

Peter and John are outside having a discussion about something Stiles is pretending doesn't exist. He catches the words 'PTSD' and 'trauma recovery' and convinces himself they're talking about Erica — and only Erica. He knows he should talk to someone, but he's not ready. It's not as important, anyway.

It leaves Stiles and Derek alone together. Derek is quiet but he keeps giving Stiles these sidelong glances that do nothing for Stiles's comfort.

"What?" Stiles finally says after ten minutes of this.

"Does your father want the Bite?" Derek asks.

Stiles goes still. "We haven't talked about it. I… I'm not willing to risk him like that, though."

"It wouldn't be your decision," Derek says.

"There's nothing wrong with him being human," Stiles says. "He's awesome just the way he is." It's something he wished someone had said to him before he was turned. "Plus, having him in my pack like that, as… what, my beta?" Stiles shakes his head. "I can't imagine. He's my dad."

Derek huffs. "My father's parents were in our pack, as my mother's betas. It's not as difficult as you might think. The elders usually hold an advisory role anyway."

Derek would make a great addition to Stiles's pack. He has the potential to be a steady, solid influence. Stiles can sense it. He just doesn't know how to bring it up.

"But humans can be part of a pack, too," Derek says. "You should remember that."

Stiles wants his dad as pack. He's the person he loves most in the world. Of course he wants him there. But until now, he's been thinking in terms of werewolves, of Alphas and betas.

"He may not want to be part of us," Stiles says. And there's the problem. "We haven't really talked much about what me being an Alpha really means yet."

And then Stiles realizes Derek hasn't had anyone to talk to about being an Alpha at all.

"Thanks for talking to me about this, though," he says. "About your family and… everything."

Derek makes a face like he's pained to take gratitude. "You're welcome," he says gruffly.

Outside, his father mentions Gerard's name again. Stiles growls.

"We don't know where he went," Derek says awkwardly. "But he was dying when we saw him last."

"I can't really rest until I know for sure," Stiles says, feeling… something he can't put a name on. He's mostly numb on the subject but underneath there is anger and fear. "We won't be safe until he's dead."

"Not to mention the alpha pack," Derek mutters darkly.

"We should stick together," Stiles says. "Safety in numbers and all that."

Derek gives him a look Stiles can't decipher. "I'll think about it."

Stiles blinks. "I didn't mean join my pack. Though you'd be welcome." He says it slowly. Deliberately. "You and Isaac, Boyd and Cora… I don't know Cora but if she's anything like you-"

"Stiles," Derek says, cutting him off. "I'll think about it."

"And talk to Isaac?" Stiles asks.

"We have other things to think about right now. More important things."

"There's nothing more important than pack," Stiles says, maybe a little more vehemently than he meant to.

Derek looks at him for a long moment. Then he nods.

Later, when Stiles's dad has gone to bed and is sleeping, when Erica has fallen asleep on the sofa, Peter creeps into Stiles's room and lies down on the bed with him.

Stiles tenses, certain Peter is going to pester him about his 'trauma'.

Peter sighs and takes Stiles's hand. Their fingers thread together. "Do you want to talk about anything?" Peter asks.

Stiles squeezes Peter's hand. "Not really."

Peter nods in the dark. Stiles lets out a slow breath of relief.

Then he pulls Peter close to him. "Go to sleep, Peter."

"Goodnight, Alpha."

Chapter Text

Stiles wakes up shaking, with tears in his eyes. He doesn't remember what he dreamed. He doesn't know what happened to make him like this.

Peter is holding him. Wiping away his tears. Erica creeps into the room, into the bed, and lies down beside him. They don't say anything.

Stiles takes one of their hands in each of his and just holds on. When he feels he can speak without his voice hitching he says, "I need my memories back."

Erica shivers and presses closer.

"I don't think you can get them back," Peter says. "They were taken from you, yes. But you can learn to live without them."

Stiles blows out a breath that feels like a sob. "I know it doesn't seem like much, but I hate it. I hate that I can't remember."

Erica squeezes his hand. "I can tell you everything I know. Every minute."

"It's not the same," Stiles tries to explain.

"Try to rest," Peter says, and kisses his temple. "We're here. We won't let anything happen."

They're good betas. Stiles knows he's lucky — blessed — to have them. But they don't understand.

The next day, Derek comes over, Isaac in tow. They both look like they haven't slept, like they need a respite.

Stiles invites them in and once they're sitting down, drapes blankets over them and fetches pillows. It's not until they're fully comfortable and Isaac's asleep that he asks Derek what happened.

"Isaac was attacked," Derek says. "It was the Alpha pack."

Behind them, Erica gasps. She comes over to the couch and watches Isaac like he might disappear.

"How did he get away?" Stiles asks.

Derek shakes his head. "He says a woman helped him."

"He didn't know her?"

Derek shakes his head again. He looks so tired.

"Get some rest," Stiles tells him. "We'll talk about it later."

Derek falls asleep shortly after, though he tosses and turns. It's understandable. His beta was in danger and he could do nothing to stop it.

Stiles tries not to think too much about why it makes him feel better knowing he and Isaac are safe under his roof. They aren't pack, but…

They could be.

"We need a plan if one of us is taken again," Stiles says. It's later in the afternoon, cool enough to hang out in the back yard. It's the sheriff's last day of medical leave before he goes back to work — light duty only. He's grilling burgers. Once again, Stiles is struck by the rightness of having everyone together in one place: his pack, his dad, and Derek and Isaac. It almost makes him feel like he's complete.

His mood has taken over his betas, too. Peter and Erica smile easier, sit less stiffly. Stiles can feel their contentment through the bonds, and it just makes him feel even better. A feedback loop of safe and pack.

"Where were you when you were attacked?" Stiles asks Isaac.

Isaac, on the other hand, isn't as relaxed and chill as the others. His eyes keep flitting between Peter and Stiles. Wary. "I visited Scott," he says in a subdued voice. "I was going back to Derek's."

Derek gives Stiles an indecipherable look. Stiles isn't sure what it's about.

"So they were watching you," Stiles says, moving on from the uncomfortable weight of Derek's stare. "They're probably watching all of us. I doubt they know I'm an Alpha now, though."

Derek nods. "That can give you an advantage, but we need to protect ourselves."

"We should stick together," Stiles murmurs, thinking. "Safety in numbers."

"Your father isn't going to like that," Peter says. "He has to go back to work."

Stiles loves that Peter knows his dad is pack. That he needs protection just as much as Erica and Isaac.

"I doubt the Alpha pack will come after him while he's at the station or with his deputies," Derek says. Stiles can't help but think of Matt. Derek seems to pick up on it. "They aren't the same. The Alpha pack relies on being unknown. They won't risk themselves in public."

Stiles blows out a long stream of air. Deflating. "I can't let anything happen to my dad."

Derek's eyes soften. "I know."

Stiles gnaws on his thumbnail. "I should get him some wolfsbane bullets, but the only place I know to get them is Argent."

Peter growls but Stiles shoots him a look and he quiets.

"I can get them from him," Derek says, wincing a little, probably at the thought of talking to the hunter.

"No," Stiles says. "You don't have to do that. I guess… best thing would be my dad asking. He's human, so there's no reason for him to try to hurt him. Threaten, maybe, but my dad can hold his own."

Derek nods, then looks at Peter and the others. "Stiles, can we talk? Alone."

"Alpha to Alpha?" Stiles says, trying to smile, to let Derek in on the joke, but he's stressed. He'll feel better once they get Cora and Boyd.

"Something like that."

"Let's go for a ride after we eat." Then, because he's compelled to, he looks at Peter. "Keep everyone here, and safe."

Isaac looks uncomfortable but Erica takes his hand and squeezes it. "We need some more bonding time, anyway."

They eat their burgers outside, sprawled on blankets like it's a picnic. Stiles has made lemonade and brought out his secret stash of chips so they have more to eat than just burgers.

He likes seeing his dad with the pack, but even more he likes his dad seeing him with his pack, so maybe he can see how important they are to him. How much the pack means.

"Dad, you're going to have to talk to Chris Argent and get some bullets from him," Stiles says after they're done eating. "But I hate for you to go alone." He bites his bottom lip to keep from ordering one of the betas to go with him.

"I don't have a problem with it," his dad says. "While I'm there I can have a discussion with him about threatening little girls."

Relief and affection run through Stiles, and his betas look up and over at him, smiling. Maybe they were listening and maybe they weren't, but they definitely felt that.

"I'll go tomorrow morning, before my shift."

"I'll go with you," Peter says. Stiles can feel he's agitated about seeing Chris, especially after everything that's happened.

"You can stay in the car," Stiles suggests. "Maybe… just there in case of emergency."

"I don't need an escort." Stiles's dad frowns. "I think I'm fairly capable of dealing with Argent."

Peter speaks up before Stiles has to. "We're being watched. It's not because we think Argent will do something, it's that you may be ambushed by the Alpha pack. And we can't have that."

"What are we doing to protect ourselves?" Stiles's dad is in full Sheriff Mode now.

"Sticking together as much as possible," Stiles answers promptly. "There's safety in numbers, and they won't attack in public. So as long as you're with us or at the station, you should be okay. You shouldn't drive alone, either."

"I can drive him to work and pick him up," Derek offers.

"You think they'll attack while I'm in my cruiser?"

"Sheriff, we can't be too careful," Peter says quietly.

Stiles's dad sighs. "There's got to be a better way. And call me John."

He's right. There does have to be a better way. But until Stiles figures it out, he's not taking any chances. Not with his family. Not with his pack.

On his way out with Derek, Peter gives him a long look. He's feeling uncomfortable, probably about whatever it is Derek wants to talk about.

"Watch over everyone," Stiles tells him, and he leans up to rub his hand over Peter's cheek, marking him with his scent. It's not necessary, since Peter already smells like he's pack, but Stiles wants to.

He walks over and runs a hand over Erica's hair, too. She looks grateful and leans into the touch. "See you later, Alpha."

He nods and looks at Isaac. "You're always welcome here," he says in a low voice. He knows the others can hear him just fine, but there's a hint of privacy in his voice, he thinks.

Isaac looks up at him like he's not sure how to react. He glances at Derek over Stiles's shoulder, then he nods. "Thanks."

Stiles grins. It's not the reaction he'd hoped for but without the pack bond telling him what to do to make things better, all he can do is keep himself open and friendly.

He gives his dad a hug and scent marks him as well. "Stay safe."

"You too, son."

"So what's this about?" Stiles asks. He's driving his Jeep, but most of his attention is on Derek.

Derek is quiet for a long moment, so long that Stiles thinks he won't answer. Then, "Let's go somewhere to talk."

Stiles raises his eyebrows. "Anywhere in particular you wanna go?"

"The depot's good."

There are a lot of things Derek could want to talk about. Stiles doesn't want to get his hopes up, but he's secretly thinking maybe Derek wants to merge their packs. They could be… co-captains. Alphas. Whatever.

Or Derek wants to talk about Peter. Which is a tricky subject, and not something Stiles particularly knows how to handle. He does know that Derek has no right to butt into his personal life, even if he thinks it's for the best reasons.

So when they pull into the depot and walk in, the first thing Stiles says is, "I know Peter has some faults, but I'm not giving him up."

"He's your beta. I wouldn't ask you to," Derek says. It makes Stiles feel a little guilty about 'stealing' Erica, even though it was her decision.

"So what's this about, then?" Stiles asks.

Derek sits on one of the many crates that are lying around. "Look, I know what you're going through. Becoming an Alpha suddenly, having a strong tie to your betas? I get it." He sighs. "I get wanting to protect them. But you need to look at your… bloodthirst. And tone it down a little."

Stiles appreciates the way Derek is confronting him, but… "What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about what Peter did to Scott, and how you condoned it. After the fact, maybe. But you didn't think twice about it after Peter explained himself, did you?"

Stiles shakes his head. Thinks a moment. "Peter was protecting our pack."

"I fully accept that's what Peter believes." Derek's fists are tight, but then he relaxes again. "You're really close to him right now. The pack bonds are… they're intimate and strong and I know it's hard to separate yourself from them. But you can't let your bonds get in the way of thinking clearly."

"Scott betrayed me and he put our pack in danger," Stiles says harshly. "He deserved-"

"He deserved a good fight, sure. Yell at him. Make him see how important the pack is to you. But Peter went too far. He tortured him."

"It wasn't torture," Stiles says, feeling mullish. It wasn't that bad. "And yelling at Scott- god, do you know how many times I've yelled at him, and how much good it actually does? This way he won't forget."

"Listen to yourself for a minute," Derek says. Pleads, really. "What if someone did that to Erica, hurt her like that? How would you feel about it then?"

I'd kill them, Stiles thinks but doesn't say. Derek seems to hear him anyway. He nods. Stiles is starting to get the point. Maybe Peter breaking his bones was…

Yeah. It was too much. Over the top.

"We need to be individuals as much as we need to take care of our packs," Derek says. "Pack bonds… It's amazing, how close you are to your pack. I envy you. But you can't let their emotions control you."

"Nothing… no one…" Stiles tries to say, then sighs. "How do I separate what they feel from what I feel? Don't I need to take their feelings into account?"

"You do. But you can't base morals on feelings. Look what happened with Scott."

Frustration makes tears prick Stiles's eyes. "I just want to be a good Alpha. I want to protect and care for my pack. That's all I want to do!"

Derek looks uncomfortable but he gets up from where he's sitting and puts a hand on Stiles's shoulder anyway. Stiles deflates.

"I need help," he says.

"I'm not the best Alpha to give it to you," Derek says. "Actually I think you should talk to your dad about this. He knows what it's like to be in charge, to have other people looking up to him and counting on him."

"So do you. You're a good person," Stiles points out. "Isaac trusts you."

"And my other betas ran off, not to mention Erica's choice to be with you," Derek says bitterly.

"Maybe we can help each other," Stiles says. "Maybe… we could try being co-captains?"

Derek drops his hand. Stiles can't read his expression. "You want to merge our packs."

"You know why, right?"

"It's safer, especially with the Alpha pack around," Derek answers. "But there are other considerations."

"What are they?"

"For one, I don't know how I feel about being pack with my uncle again," Derek says. "Or how I feel about the two of you being… whatever it is you are."

Stiles laughs. "I'm surprised it took this long for you to bring it up."

"He's not a good person, Stiles."

Stiles looks at him dead in the eye. "I'm not either."

But Derek shakes his head. "I've watched you. I know what kind of person you are. You may be a sarcastic asshole, but you're loyal and self-sacrificing and trustworthy. Peter is none of those things."

Stiles raises his eyebrows. "I'm taken, so if this is your way of saying you're in love with me…"

Derek laughs and sighs. "Like I said, you're an asshole."

"Wait, I'm trustworthy? You trust me now?"

Derek shrugs. "You haven't left me much choice."

"It's because I saved your life all those times, isn't it?" Stiles grins. "C'mon, you think I'm awesome. Admit it."

"Shut up," Derek says.

"Are we bros now? Alpha bros? Derek this is amazing," Stiles says, only half joking.

"Don't call us that," Derek says, but his lips are twitching.

Stiles crows. "You like me!"

"Don't make me change my mind."

"Join my pack," Stiles says. "Please. You and Isaac."

Derek gives him a long look. "Give me a chance to talk to him."

Stiles grins. "I can do that."

"That isn't a yes."

"No, I know. I'm cool, I'm not assuming," Stiles says, still not able to keep the grin off his face.

Derek rolls his eyes and extends his middle finger. Coming from Derek, it's the funniest thing Stiles has ever seen. He cracks up.

He has time to convince Derek that Peter's not what he thinks he is. That he can be trustworthy, when it comes to pack. That he's loyal to pack. That Derek and he can be family again. But it will take effort. Patience.

Stiles has hope.

Derek's not done. "I was serious about talking to your dad about this. Being sheriff — it's like a human Alpha. He protects his territory and he has a pack. Maybe he'd have some good advice for you. Not to mention, he knows you better than I do."

Stiles has to talk to his dad about the pack and his place in it, anyway. Asking for advice would solidify his place as trusted elder/advisor, too.

"Thanks," Stiles says.

Derek looks uneasy with the recognition. Fuck that.

"No, really. Derek. You've been really helpful and you've given me a lot to think about. So thank you."

Derek shakes his head. "You listened to me. You've shown me you want to be a better Alpha, and you're already pretty good at it. You're new at this, yeah, but… you're taking to it really well. I was never meant to be an Alpha, but it's different with you."

Stiles squints at him playfully. It's hard hearing these things without reacting with a joke. "You're talking a hell of a lot. Are you sure you're Derek?"

Derek rolls his eyes. "I'm not actually as taciturn as you seem to think I am."

"Pulling out the big words," Stiles says. "And that Hale eye-roll. I love it."

Derek looks up to the ceiling as if praying for patience. It's hilarious. "Talk to your Dad."

"Okay. And you'll talk to Isaac." The grin sneaks back on Stiles's face.

Derek's lips twitch. "Deal."

He's in a good mood when they get back to the house. Peter relaxes when he sees it, and Erica does too, though Stiles wonders if she even realized she was tense or if she was just picking up Peter's mood. Isaac seems more relaxed, too.

Stiles wants to go straight to his dad for a talk, but it's late now and he can hear his dad upstairs, sleeping already. Good. He needs to be fresh and rested for his first day back at the station.

Stiles goes outside instead. He beckons Peter to follow.

"Have a good chat with my nephew?" Peter asks. He's curious but also a bit jealous. Stiles takes his hand. They sit on the back stairs. The moon is waxing and Stiles remembers they have to get ready for the upcoming eclipse. But he puts that aside for now. They have some more time.

Stiles leans against Peter's side. "It was a good talk. He gave me some things to think about."

When Stiles doesn't say more on the subject, Peter sighs and seems to accept that's all he's getting. He wraps an arm around Stiles and it's nice. Comfortable. He smells like pack and safety. Stiles wonders what he smells like to Peter. Maybe he'll ask him sometime.

"I had an idea," Peter says. "But it's dangerous."

"About the Alpha pack?" Stiles asks.

"About your missing memories."

Stiles tenses. "Tell me."

"I told you how your memories would have been taken."

Stiles winces. "Claws at the back of the neck. Yeah."

"What if you could see someone else's memories of that time? It wouldn't be everything you lost, but… it's possible Erica could share her memories with you."

Stiles turns and looks at Peter's face in the moonlight. "How?"

"I know how to do it. In theory. I could connect the two of you, and you could see her memories."

"That would…" Stiles takes a breath. "That would be helpful. At this point, I'd take any piece of what I've lost."

Peter tightens his hold. "I know it's been wearing on you."

"It's such a… I feel violated. Someone broke into my mind and stole part of me." Stiles shudders.

"I know how that feels," Peter says quietly. "There are… I have missing memories, too. I think Talia took them, but I don't know why."

"And you would know if there was a way to get them back," Stiles says, finally understanding.

Peter nods. "I searched, researched… there's nothing unless I could get ahold of Talia's claws. And then I'd probably need a Seer to help."

"But I could at least see some of that happened, even if it was from Erica's perspective."

Peter nods again. "Unless we somehow overpowered one of the Alpha pack, this is your best bet."

"You said it's dangerous."

"I would be as careful as possible," Peter reassures.

Stiles is silent, thinking. Then, "It's up to Erica."

"I've already explained it to her, and she wants to help."

"I still want to talk to her about it."

The back door opens and Peter and Stiles turn. Erica stands in the doorway, a hand on her hip. "Talking about me?"

Stiles smiles at his beta. "You should be in bed."

Erica snorts. "So should you. Even Alphas need their beauty sleep."

"You're right. Let's go to bed," Stiles says, and gets up.

They end up piled in Stiles's bed, which barely fits the three of them but it does fit. It's comfy. And Stiles isn't ready to give up sleeping with his betas yet. His instincts tell him it's safer, and with the Alpha pack threat out there, his instincts are kind of on overdrive. Especially when Isaac was attacked.

Which reminds him — who was the woman who saved Isaac? He drifts off with that question on his mind.