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The Final Pack

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I'm writing because we should not be forgotten.
Because we should be more than a footnote in the history of humankind.
We should be more than text on a page, more than a memory.
We should be a legend. We lived and we loved and we lost so much.

Maybe we can at least be a lesson...


 

            The empty, metallic room was spotlessly clean, smelling of stainless steel and filtered air, the chill of it seeping into Stiles' skin the longer he sat in the uncomfortable metal chair. It was bolted to the pock-marked floor just like the empty metal table at which he sat, neither of them capable of being used as weapons. He slouched in the seat, thumbs hooked together, his hands between his knees, counting the pock marks in each metal tile even though he knew there were 196 in each.

            There were 196 divots in each tile in his room, too.

            Exactly ten minutes - because it was always exactly ten minutes - after he had been left alone in the little interrogation room, the door across the table from him opened. Stiles didn't bother looking up. He knew the man that came to see him would enter, cross the room, lay a folder on the table between them. He would take a seat, like he had done every week for two years now, and he would wait for Stiles to speak. Sometimes Stiles would look back at him until their hour was up, sometimes Stiles would keep counting. It didn't matter which, not to either of them.

            "Mr. Stilinski," greeted a soft, feminine voice.

            Startled, Stiles looked up, the cuffs on his wrists clacking together. This wasn't Harris. This was someone new, someone Stiles had never seen before in his life. She was thin, dark skinned, with very straight, dark hair and she was deceptively beautiful, innocent. But Stiles knew better, looking into her doe-brown eyes. She may not have been Harris, but she still wanted something from him, was still scheming about how to get it.

            "My name is Marin. Marin Morrell."

            He dropped his gaze.

            "Where's Harris?" Stiles asked, voice rough from disuse.

            "Out," she answered ambiguously.

            "So they sent a newbie? They shouldn't have sent you," he told her. "You couldn't take me if I got out of my cuffs."

            She studied him for a moment, the familiar brown folder held close to her breast, like a shield. "I suppose we won't find out. You're not out of your cuffs."

            Looking back up at her, he smiled the sort of smile that didn't quite reach his eyes, hollow and dangerous. "Are you sure about that? Willing to stake your life on it?"

            Her eyes traced over him, over the way he sat, over the way he looked at her, and then she moved into the room, laid her folder on the table between them. There was something else in the pile that Stiles didn't recognize, something wrapped in a wrinkled, brown-paper bag. A little, black recording device sat nestled on top of the stack.

            Then she took her seat, crossed her legs, and met his eyes. "Shall we find out?"

            For a moment he considered his options. Gerard wouldn't have sent someone in with him if they didn't know their shit. He wouldn't have put anyone unwitting into that sort of danger, if only because it would make him look bad. So whoever this was, however nervous she looked, she could probably take care of herself. Maybe she could take care of Stiles, if Stiles found a reason to resist. Instead, he pulled his wrists up from beneath the table, laid them out before her, cuffs intact. She just smiled politely.

            "I'm not here to fight you," she told him quietly. "I'm here to learn from you. It's been over two years since you spoke to anyone about what happened."

            "Gonna be at least two more," Stiles told her coldly.

            She pursed her lips. "You have to talk to someone."

            "I don't have to talk to anyone," Stiles replied evenly. "Not ever."

            Sighing, she leaned forward, as if consulting him, as if advising him. He knew she was just prying. "You've been in solitary for two years, Stiles. Aren't you tired of it?"

            He leaned forward as well, forearms sliding on the cool metal of the table until he reached the end of his chain, bolted to the floor, hooked to his cuffs. He looked her right in the eyes. "Ma'am... when I'm tired of solitary, you'll know."

            A sense of satisfaction curled in Stiles' gut when she took a deep, calming breath and let it out slowly. He could almost hear the way she tried to organize her thoughts, find another angle by which to approach him, but the problem was that Stiles had been through two years of angles. Harris had covered every angle, asked every question, made every threat. He'd offered anything, everything he thought Stiles might want. Not once had he ever found a crack, an opening to get under Stiles' skin.

            There was nothing left that Stiles wanted. Nothing they were capable of giving him, anyway.

            Yet, she'd been in the room with him for less than ten minutes before she folded her hands in her lap, leaned back in her chair, and pressed exactly where it hurt most.

            "They tell me you fought alongside werewolves, Stiles. Can you tell me at least that much? Is it true?"

            Of course she didn't need him to answer. She'd seen the way he started at the word 'werewolves,' a light coming to his eyes. But he looked away from her, pulled his hands off the table. "Yeah," he admitted quietly, voice cracking. "It's true. I used to, once."

            Her expression softened sadly. "I'd like to know what happened."

            The haunted look in his eyes when he glanced up to her was enough to break hearts. He just shook his head, jaw tight. "I don't want to talk about it."

            "Ever?" she asked.

            "Maybe. Not right now," he told her. "Not with you."

            She tipped her head, just the tiniest amount, and Stiles' heart gave a little twist. The gesture had been familiar once. "Why not me?"

            Lips pursed, a disgusted noise rough at the back of his throat, Stiles solidly met her gaze. "Because you can't understand." He shook his head, because it was impossible for her to think she could. Not hiding behind walls like these. "You've never loved them. And now they're gone, so you can't."

            That seemed to quell her momentarily, her dark eyes tracing over him, letting his words sink in fully. She would know some of the story, whatever they had thought she needed to know before she went into the room. They would have told her how dangerous Stiles was, but no one would have mentioned how broken. Stiles wondered what it felt like, to see him in person.

            "I'd like to," she told him quietly.

            He gave her a funny look, shaking his head just enough to give the impression he thought she was being completely ridiculous. "Why do you even care, lady?"

            "Someone has to, don't you think?" she returned solemnly.

            Stiles snorted derisively. "No one ever did before."

            The remark didn't seem to phase her at all. "You did," she said evenly.

            For a moment he just stared at her, mouth slightly open, and then he scoffed, looked away again. "Yeah, and look where that got me."

            Sitting up, she reached for the recorder on the table, moved it off the small stack, separated the object in the brown-paper bag, and laid open the folder. Stiles looked away, because he knew what was in the folder. Transcripts, pictures, documents. His past. She pulled out one, moved it in front of him, tapped it once with her middle finger. When he spared it a glance, his brow furrowed because it was one he didn't recognize.

            "Do you know what this is?" she asked softly. Before he could answer she continued. "It's a release form. There have been some... changes recently. Some new information has come to light, and if I can debrief you, I can have you released."

            Stiles' gaze fell to the document again, tracing over the typewriter print, the handwritten information in the blank spaces. He shook his head, leaned back away from the table again. "Doesn't matter," he told her. "Out there, in here... it doesn't matter."

            Slowly she nodded, and then reached for the brown-paper bag. As she unwrapped it, she told him: "I thought you might say that, so I brought a piece of the information that was uncovered. I have reason to believe you will find it invaluable."

            She laid upon the table a small, leather-bound journal, tied shut but not locked, the pages slightly wrinkled from damp storage. It clung to the steel beneath it as she slid it across the table to rest in front of him. Hesitantly, his heart in his belly, he reached up and brushed his fingers over the blood-stained surface. Tears jumped to his eyes, memories washing through him as if someone had opened a floodgate.

            He recognized this journal.

            "Where-" his voice cracked, broken, and he cleared his throat, looking up to her. "Where did you get this?"

            "It was recovered when you were captured," she told him. "Lost in storage. You can open it, if you'd like."

            Swallowing thickly, Stiles unlooped the leather holding the journal shut, pulled the cover away from the sheets of paper within. Rough words lay scratched onto the pages in a handwriting that was so, so familiar, even after over two years of its absence from his life. He closed his eyes, because he knew the first words on the page by heart, felt them like a vice on his heart.

            I'm writing because we should not be forgotten.

            This was Derek's journal.

            "You've read it?" he asked quietly.

            "Every word," she replied.

            He met her eyes. "Then you know what happened."

           With an open-handed gesture, she indicated the recorder still sitting upon the table. "I need to hear it from you, Stiles. Everything that happened, in as much detail as you can give. I'm sorry I have to ask this of you, I am, but they need to hear your story. All of it."

            "They?" Stiles repeated.

            She smiled apologetically. "I can't tell you who. I have to ask that you trust me for now."

            He dropped his gaze to the journal once more, eyes tracking over the script, mind tracing over the memories. He could feel himself strung tight enough to snap and so he took a deep breath, forced himself to relax. It had been so long, and they were not in danger anymore. No one could take them from him if he shared with the soft-spoken woman before him now and just maybe she could bring their story to others.

            Derek would have wanted that. To have his pack remembered.

            They deserved that much, Stiles thought.

            "Okay," he whispered, more a surrender than an agreement.

            With a small nod, she reached out and clicked the record button.

 


 

            From the corner of his eyes, Stiles could see the others in the squad spread out in the dense foliage around him. Scott was ahead of the group by at least 20 feet, ranging ahead because he had the softest step of any of them, even on the frost-bitten, crackly leaves of the forest. To his right he could just make out the shadow that was Danny and to his left somewhere was Jackson, only visible when he moved. It was a good team to have on a foggy January morning, even if it was missing two of its members.

            He raised one hand, pressed a finger to the com button near his ear. "Scott, don't get too far ahead, buddy."

            "Oh, that's rich coming from you," Scott replied and Stiles could almost hear the eye roll that accompanied it. "What are you gonna do if I don't listen?"

            Stiles scoffed, then tapped the com again. "I'll make sure you don't get a red meat ration for a week when we get back."

            "You can't!" Scott squawked, though he probably meant to sound confident. Red meat rations were something very precious to them, since the livestock that needed to be raised to provide it had been scarce to find around their base. The population was only just climbing, with all the mouths to feed.

            "Want to bet?" Stiles asked. "If I can keep it away from my dad, I can keep it away from you!"

            The crackle across the com probably contained a few choice words for what Stiles could do with that plan before it cleared.

            "You really want to be making that threat?" Danny's voice broke over the com. "McCall will take squad lead back in a few months and he'll remember this."

            "A few months?" Stiles teased. "We'll be lucky if we see him out of that nursery for a year after the kid's born. Allison either. It'll be just us, boys, and Matt when he's better."

            "I'm not following your dumbass lead for a year, Stilinski," rattled Jackson's voice in the com.

            "Not going to have a choice, Whittemore," Scott reprimanded. "When I'm out, Stiles is in charge, you know that. You signed up for that."

            "I didn't- Hey," Jackson said, cutting himself off before he could pick a fight. "Guys, I think I found something. Footprints. Heading off two-o'clock from where I am."

            "On our way," Stiles told him, changing course to about where he figured Jackson should be. It was hard to see in the fog, but when Danny caught up to him he motioned just a little to their right where Jackson was crouched. Scott was clambering through the dead underbrush to reach them.

            Jackson motioned to the indentations in the soft mud below them. Stiles traced the outline of the print with his eyes, the rainwater gathering in the long arch, the five dimples at the lead edge that indicated claws. The two prints were not footprints; they were pawprints and he knew exactly what had laid them there.

            "Werewolves," he said, not bothering with the com.

            "Just one," Scott said. "Too big to be full wolf, and the betas leave human footprints when shifted. Looks like we're tailing that alpha Greg spotted last month."

            "Oh good," Stiles said cheerfully. "Just what I wanted- to be tailing a bloodthirsty alpha werewolf in six inches of mud in the rain and fog. Excellent."

            Jackson rolled his eyes and Scott slapped him in the chest. "Come on," Scott told him. "This is serious."

            "Dude, you really want to try to take on an alpha with just the four of us?" Stiles asked. "What about the rest of the pack? They could be anywhere in this shit and we wouldn't see them until it's too late. You know there's at least three of them."

            "So that's your call?" Scott asked him in return. "Just going to let it go? What if it comes calling at camp? What if it catches your dad's scouting party?"

            Stiles clenched his jaw but managed not to roll his eyes. "Okay, yeah. We can't let it just... go. Whatever, okay, we'll go chase it down."

            Nodding, Scott turned away in the direction the footsteps faced. "I'll range ahead and see if I can't pick up the next set, give us a good direction."

            "Stay close," Stiles told the other two as Scott disappeared ahead of them. "Keep eyes out to either side in case it turned off course. Danny, hang back and radio Lydia. Let her know we found something."

            Danny nodded, dropping back and pulling a small radio from his belt. Jackson watched him for a second and then stepped sideways, fanning left away from Stiles. Ahead of them Scott was already out of sight and so Stiles moved to his right and kept his eyes to the soft, wet ground. Scott checked in to say the wolf was on course just as Danny passed Stiles on the left, following the center path Scott had taken.

            "Hey guys." Danny's voice crackled over the com. "I found blood."

            "Scott, did you see it too?" Stiles asked.

            Dead air greeted the team.

            Stiles' brow furrowed and he pressed his finger back to the com. "Scott. Did you hear Danny? Did you find blood?"

            An unearthly snarl rent the air and Stiles was running before he even had time to think about what they were running toward. Danny was behind him an instant later, leaping over a rotting tree with his gun already in hand. Scott's pained scream drowned out Jackson crashing through the forest to their left. Three gunshots rattled through the trees and Stiles was thankful because it meant Scott was still alive, still fighting.

            "Scott!" Stiles shouted. He could hear the sounds of the fight now, the snarls, Scott's cursing, the dull sound of impact after impact, of tearing fabric.

            Stiles burst into the clearing first, just in time to see the alpha werewolf peel away from Scott, dropping back. Its shoulder was seeping blood from a gunshot wound and it was glaring at Stiles with all its long, sharp teeth bared. Scott was prone on the ground, groaning and clutching at his side, Danny crouched beside him. But Scott was alive and that had to count for something.

           Before anyone could make a move, the clearing was suddenly full of werewolves, from across the clearing. Two of them, a dark-haired girl and a young boy, grabbed hold of the alpha, one arm each, and started dragging him out of view. Stiles shifted his gun to the younger wolves but his shot was interrupted by a bulkier, dark haired werewolf who was shouting something at him. Stiles couldn't focus over the sound of his heart thrumming in his ears but he could hear there was more shouting.

            "Hold your fire!" Stiles shouted as Jackson burst into the clearing. Danny was still crouched beside Scott, examining him, but Stiles could tell what had happened by the look on his face. Scott had been bitten.

            "Hold my- are you insane?" Jackson snapped, bringing his rifle up.

            "We don't kill humans!" the beta was shouting at him. Stiles trained his rifle on him and the guy held up one hand as if to stall him. "We don't kill humans!"

            A shot rang out through the clearing and Stiles whipped around to face Jackson, knocking his gun's barrel aside. "Jackson! Hold your damn fire!"

            "Why?" Jackson yelled back, bringing his rifle to aim again, Danny beside him now. "They hurt Scott!"

            Stiles batted at his rifle again, but Jackson dipped it away from him. "I swear to god, if you fire one more shot I will personally ensure you never see the field again!" He snarled before turning to face the werewolves again, meeting the dark haired beta's pale eyes.

            "Derek!" the young blonde girl at the beta's side was pleading, held back by his outstretched arm. "We can't let them get back to the others!"

            "No!" the beta, Derek, shouted back, eyes still locked on Stiles. "No, we don't kill humans, we don't! We just want to get my uncle away from here."

            "Stiles," Danny said from beside him, sounding much more collected than anyone else. "We can't let them leave."

            "Scott's been bitten?" Stiles demanded, needing to be sure. He had to repeat it to get a snapped 'yes' from Danny. "Then stand down," he ordered.

            "But-"

            "Get out of here," Stiles told the beta in front of him. "Do not make me say it twice."

            "All right, okay," Derek agreed, both hands up in a placating gesture before he grabbed onto the sleeve of the burly beta snarling at his other side. The blonde was already standing down, backing away from the humans. "We're sorry. Thank you, we won't-"

            "Just get out of here!" Stiles snapped, taking a step forward.

            The wolves scattered as quickly as they were able while carting their injured leader. Jackson cursed in more colorful language than Stiles had heard in a long time as he covered their retreat with Danny. Dropping down beside his injured friend, Stiles peeled Scott's hand away from his hip. There was a lot of blood, enough to coat both his hands. The twin crescent bite wounds were jagged and oozing.

            "Why the fuck did you let them leave?" Jackson cussed as soon as the wolves were out of sight. "We had the whole pack there!"

            "And how do you think that would have ended, Jackson?" Stiles asked harshly. "Six of them against three of us?"

            "We could have at least taken their damn alpha!" Jackson snarled.

            "Yeah?" Stiles snapped. "How about you use your freaking head for a minute and think about why that would be a bad move."

            "We need him alive for Scott," Danny intoned levelly. Both Jackson and Stiles turned to look at him; even Scott looked up. Danny shrugged. "There's that rumor, you remember right? Kill the one that bit you, turn back human. If you'd killed that alpha, Scott'd be done for. No chance at becoming human again."

            Jackson let out a breath, frustrated because Danny was right and he hadn't even thought of that. He would have let their squad leader get turned permanently if Stiles hadn't been thinking.

            "Exactly," Stiles confirmed, turning back to Scott. "Now, we don't know that it'll work but... it's all we have."

            "We can't take him back to base," Danny pointed out before looking skyward. "And it's going to start raining again soon."

            "You radioed Lydia, right?" Stiles demanded of Danny, who nodded. "Okay, then. Look, they know we were hunting the alpha. You two go back, tell them you got separated from us and you came back like you're supposed to."

            "Coms?" Jackson reminded him, tapping the side of his helmet. Without any warning, Danny smashed the butt of his rifle into the side of Jackson's head where the button to his com was. Jackson dropped to the ground with a shout of pain, clutching at the side of his head. "What the hell, Danny?!"

            Danny shrugged as he peeled off his own helmet and tossed it to the ground beside Stiles and Scott. "We ran into the alpha. Your com got damaged. I lost my helmet."

            "How about next time I lose the helmet and you get the concussion?" Jackson growled, prying at the edges of his helmet until it came off. His ear was bleeding, but not badly. "Some best friend you are."

            "I hurt you because I care." Danny smiled smoothly. "Has to look real so you don't get in trouble."

            "Get a room," Stiles told them both as he helped Scott to his feet, draping one of his best friend's arms over his shoulder.

            Danny and Jackson both backed up to give them space. "Where are you taking him?" Danny asked, actually concerned.

            "I don't know," Stiles said. He twitched his shoulder and Scott let go of him, testing his ability to stand on his own. Though his leg was obviously sore where the alpha had lashed out at him, it was probably only bruised, not broken. "How far do you think you can walk?"

            "Ugh, walking... man, I think it broke my ribs. It was trying to get my gun," Scott informed them with a groan.

            "Smart dog," Stiles told him with a smile. "I'd try to get your gun too. You're lethal with that thing."

            Scott laughed but the noise deteriorated into a whimper of pain. "Dude, don't make me laugh."

            "You'll heal." Stiles regretted the words the moment they were out of his mouth. Of course Scott would heal but it would be a matter of hours rather than weeks when the bite began to work.

            "That's sort of the problem, isn't it?" Scott asked, trying to make light of it. Then he sighed heavily, shook his head. "I can't go back to camp. They'll kill me just for being bit."

            Eyes closed, Stiles ran one hand over his face, up over his buzzed hair as he let out a deep breath. "Look, I don't have answers, you don't have answers. There's really only one place that has answers. One group of people."

            "One pack," Danny surmised.

            "Yeah," Stiles confirmed. Scott was shaking his head before Stiles even opened his mouth.

            "No, Stiles," he said. "No way. We're not going to the werewolves. Are you crazy?"

            Jackson snorted. "Somehow I think the Hills pack isn't into adopting stray puppies," he pointed out sardonically.

            "He has a point," Danny conceded. "They might just kill you."

            A huff of laughter escaped Stiles. "I'll take 'might' over 'absolutely will' any day. Because that's what's waiting at base for him."

            Both Jackson and Danny heaved sighs because they all knew when Stiles got that tone there was really no convincing him of anything. "What do we tell Allison?" Danny asked, resigned. "You know she's going to flip that we left you out here. She'll whip her dad into taking his squad out looking if your dad doesn't get to it first."

            "Just-" Stiles cut himself off and took a deep breath. "Just tell her whatever you have to, to keep her at the camp. Tell my dad I said that I lost my keys. He'll know what that means, he'll find a way to keep Chris at camp too. Just buy us time okay?"

            "Yeah, okay," Jackson agreed, then smacked Danny's arm with the back of his hand. "Come on, let's go before this drizzle bullshit turns into a downpour. We'll see you two lunatics back home."

           Scott and Stiles watched the two of them disappear into the forest. When they were gone, Scott turned to face Stiles, gave him a concerned look. "Do you really think the werewolves will help me?"

            "Honestly, I don't know," Stiles admitted, looking over. Everything he had ever learned said they stood no chance, that werewolves would never help humans, and yet his mind still echoed with the words we don't kill humans. "But we have to try. I'm not letting you get away that easy. You're my best friend!"

            "I'm your only friend," Scott told him with an eyeroll.

            Stiles laughed. "Yeah, whatever. Come on, let's go throw you to the wolves."

 


 

            Morrell reached forward, clicking the stop button on the recorder, her dark eyes trained on Stiles. He gave her a questioning look, surprised to be interrupted. Their hour wasn't quite over yet. So far he hadn't lied, either, because this was all stuff they had probably learned. If nothing else, Allison would have told them this part.

            "You took your injured best friend to a den of werewolves rather than bring him back to base to be treated?" she asked incredulously.

            "Yeah, well, being 'treated' here would have meant a bullet to the skull," Stiles told her plainly.

            "You could have both been killed," she countered.

            "Lady, he was my best friend. My only real friend, okay?" Stiles shook his head like he couldn't even believe they were having this conversation. "That's just what you do. You take the chance. You try to save him." He looked down. "Even if all you do is go down with him, you have to try."

            The recorder whirred back to life.

 


 

            The house was not as inconspicuous as Stiles would have thought it should be, though it was farther out than he would have expected. It was an older manor, half of it caved in from the huge oak that had fallen into it during one of the storms the apocalypse had thrown their way. But the tracks very clearly lead to this house in particular. If they hadn't been half-dragging the wounded alpha, Stiles might never have happened upon it; certainly not in one of their routine safety sweeps. Squads only ranged up to 5 miles out in a day and very rarely stayed out overnight. The real nasty supernaturals hunted at night.

            Scott was flagging by the time they reached the place. He was having trouble breathing and Stiles could hear a wet noise in his lungs when he breathed in. The alpha had done more than just break a rib, of that much he was sure. He just hoped that Scott would turn fast enough to keep from dying of a punctured lung or something.

            As they approached the house, Stiles could hear shouting from within. A male and a female, punctuating their argument with beastly snarls. Stiles and Scott shared a look, neither of them really wanting to interrupt a werewolf brawl. Especially not after their earlier encounter.

            "Maybe we should come back," Scott suggested in jest. Stiles just rolled his eyes.

            The sharp knock Stiles gave the door when they reached it silenced everything inside the house. There was a small amount of shuffling and he caught the vague whisper of someone inside, shushed by an angry, hissed reprimand. He knocked again, three times, like police officers used to do when they dragged him home to his father, the sheriff. It sounded so much less official when he knew what was on the other side of the door.

            "We aren't going to hurt you," Stiles called out loudly. Scott shot him a sharp look, because they both knew they absolutely would hurt them if there was a chance they would survive it. "Come on, we need help. Please!"

            The handle turned and the door cracked open to reveal the dark beta Stiles had ordered off earlier. Derek, Stiles recalled. That's what the blonde had called him. He was glaring at Stiles, at the way Scott leaned against Stiles like he was going to pass out. Murmurs leaked out from behind the door and Stiles assumed the rest of the pack was laying in wait.

            "Your alpha bit my friend," Stiles told him by way of explanation. "I can't- we can't go back to base. They'll kill him."

            "Not my problem," Derek replied harshly. "Maybe if you hadn't been out trying to hunt us down like animals-"

            "Look, I'm sorry," Stiles interrupted. "But your alpha made this mess, so it's kind of your problem. You can't just say no."

            "I think I did just say no," Derek pointed out.

            Stiles made a frustrated noise in the back of his throat. "Okay, I get it. Maybe you don't take charity cases. Fine. Name your price."

            "No," Derek refused.

            "Anything!" Stiles remarked hotly. "I can get you anything from our base. You want food? Medical supplies? Weapons? Whatever you want, I can bring it back for you, just... please. You gotta take him in. He's as good as dead if I bring him back. I can't do that to my best friend."

            For a moment it looked as if Derek would say no again, but someone behind him was whispering something Stiles couldn't hear and Derek appeared to be listening. His eyes tracked over Stiles, taking him in, judging him. Then he opened the door just a little wider to look at Scott as well. When he looked back to Stiles, it was with guarded curiosity.

            "The bullets you used," he began. "They were wolfsbane laced."

            "Tipped, yeah," Stiles confirmed. "It's an Argent trick. There are other kinds, stuff you could use. Silver tipped. Wooden tipped. Victoria even carved devil's traps into some of the .9mm rounds."

            "I'm not interested in those," Derek told him flatly. "Do you have any of the ones you used? Right now. The wolfsbane ones."

            "Yeah. I mean, I'm not going to use them if that's what-"

            "Give them to me." He held out one hand, opening the door to do so. Stiles could see the others watching from behind him.

            Stiles swallowed because he didn't really want to be disarmed, but he shrugged his rifle off his shoulder and unloaded it, pulled the ammo container from his belt and passed it all to Derek. The werewolf passed it all to a woman behind him, the dark haired one who had arrived to the clearing first, and she disappeared into the recesses of the house.

            "Now get out of here," Derek ordered him, still glaring. "Before I rip your throat out. With my teeth."

            Stiles realized what was happening just in time to stick his boot in the door to keep it from closing. He winced, because it still squeezed tight for a moment, and then Derek was back in the doorway, still glaring. Stiles did his best to remain calm. "You're taking him in," he said firmly. "He is my best friend and I am not letting him die like this. I am not letting him get shot like a fucking rabid dog. You told me you don't kill humans!"

            "Stiles..." Scott said quietly from beside him, drawing Stiles' attention. He wasn't looking better.

            "Fine," Derek agreed before Scott could say anything else. He met Stiles' eyes when he looked back. "You want my price? You."

            "Me?" Stiles asked, confused.

            "You want him to stay here with us?" Derek asked. "The price is that you stay too. As collateral. I'm not sending you back so you can give away our location."

            "You were going to," Stiles told him. After all, Derek had just ordered them out.

            "We were going to fix my uncle with your bullets and skip town," Derek countered. "We can't go anywhere with a new pup in mid-turn. So either you both leave or you both stay."

            "Forever?" Stiles asked, panic creeping in around the edges. He wouldn't even get to say goodbye to his father. Scott would be leaving Allison and his unborn child.

            "Just until the full moon," Derek said. "If he even survives it, we can show him how to control it once he's fully turned, and then you can leave."

            "That's three weeks," Stiles pointed out. "Base will come looking for us before then. His wife will come looking for him if I don't go back to stop her."

            Derek shrugged. "We'll figure that out when we get there. Do we have a deal or don't we?"

            Stiles looked over to Scott, who just shrugged helplessly. They were not going to get a better offer. This pack was their best shot at teaching Scott how to survive the change, how to control the werewolf side of himself. If they went back now, Scott would be killed and Stiles would be put on lockdown for not bringing him straight back, for not mercy-shooting him on the field the second he realized Scott had been bitten.

            If they stayed, however, Stiles had no guarantee they wouldn't kill him in his sleep here. They could betray him, kill them both. The team would never know what really happened and the wolves would be gone before anyone found this place. There was a good chance no one would ever find their bodies.

            But Stiles knew that Scott would do whatever it took to save him if their positions were reversed, and so he took a deep breath and squared his shoulders.

            "Okay," Stiles agreed for both of them. "We'll stay."

            Derek let out his breath and stepped aside, drawing open the door to allow them to enter. As Stiles stepped over the threshold at Scott's side, he knew there was no going back now.