Actions

Work Header

Lines of Communication

Chapter Text

Stiles awoke with a smile because he felt the warm presence of his werewolf boyfriend beside him in the bed, arm wrapped around his waist possessive and protectively. There were no threats though, the Alpha Pack was gone for a few days now which meant that the Werewolf Watch Stiles had been under was over leaving Derek with no reason to be by Stiles’ side 24/7. He’d returned to his house in the forest or wherever it was he normally slept and spent a lot of the last few days with his Pack, something he’d been neglecting in order to keep Stiles safe.

Which wasn’t to say that Stiles and Derek hadn’t seen each other over the last few days. Stiles had spent the vast majority of his time--except for yesterday; yesterday had been project day--at the Hale House with the Pack. His Pack. There were training sessions and Pack meetings to attend after all, but Derek--under threat of sheriff--had stopped spending his nights in Stiles’ room. Waking up to him wrapped around Stiles meant that the sheriff had the morning shift and was already gone. It was the first time they’d been alone since the morning they’d... bonded.

Derek sensed that Stiles was awake, probably from his heart rate and breathing, and ran his nose just under Stiles’ ear with a small, pleased rumble.

“Good morning.” Stiles murmured.

Derek responded by nipping his earlobe teasingly. Stiles rolled onto his back with a smile and pulled Derek in for a kiss. It was a little odd how easy it was, the kissing, but he liked it and he certainly wasn’t about to complain. He let Derek deepen the kiss, turn it into more than just a greeting.

His hand inched under Stiles’ shirt and Derek’s warm hand brushed over the new scars on his torso. The wounds from the rescue mission had finally healed completely and in their place, Stiles had a set of new scars to add to his collection. He didn’t mind too much. He’d absolutely do it all again in a heartbeat since it meant Erica and Boyd were back with the Pack and safe.

Derek drew Stiles’ mind back to the present when he rubbed a calloused thumb lightly over his nipple, eliciting a small intake of breath. His shirt was quickly removed after that and Derek moved to replace his hand with his tongue and lips. Stiles made a mental check mark on his list of previously unknown erogenous zones next to nipples and tried to stifle a moan as Derek nipped and licked and teased his way to the other one.

Suddenly remembering that he was also in possession of hands, Stiles began to run them along Derek’s shoulders and back, running one up to fist in his hair. It was softer in the morning, absent of any hair products, and Stiles liked to run his fingers through it. Derek seemed to like it too, if the pleased growl was any indication. Stiles used the grip he had on Derek’s hair to bring him back up so he could kiss him again.

Derek broke the kiss to dive into Stiles’ neck, inhaling and kissing in equal measure. It would definitely leave stubble burn, but Stiles was so past the point of caring, especially when Derek moved on top of him, bracing himself with one arm while the other explored every inch of Stiles’ exposed skin. Stiles returned the favor, taking stock of every contour of Derek’s Adonis-like body and learning which areas made the werewolf squirm. He learned that the base of Derek’s neck sent goosebumps down his skin when Stiles ran the tip of his fingers along it; he learned that the skin below his belly button, just above his waistband, was particularly sensitive, making him release a moan when Stiles brushed his hand along it; he also learned that when he dug his fingers into Derek’s lower back, he reacted by arching his hips forward into Stiles’ causing fantastic friction. That one was Stiles’ personal favorite.

The attention that he was getting caused Stiles’ dick to sit up and pay attention. When Derek’s hips met his own, he was deeply satisfied to learn that Derek was also sporting an erection. He liked knowing he was the reason for that.

Derek moved down again, kissing a trail along the way. When he ventured closer to Stiles’ tattoo, Stiles’ heart rate amped up a little in anticipation. They were interrupted before anything could happen last time--pretty much his own fault--but since that wouldn’t happen again, Stiles had a moment to wonder just how far Derek was planning on taking the morning’s activities.

“You smell amazing.” Derek rumbled, nipping at Stiles’ hip.

Stiles scoffed. “Doubtful, I haven’t showered yet.”

Derek’s fingers gripped Stiles by the hips firmly and he growled. “Do you have any idea what hearing you in the shower was like?”

“You could hear me?” Stiles choked.

Derek hummed an affirmative. “If I didn’t know better, I would have thought you were doing it on purpose. Taunting me.”

Stiles was somewhat embarrassed. “Taunting you? You’re the one who sleeps without a shirt, how is that not--”

Derek cut him off with a searing kiss that slowly devolved into traded nips and bites along jawlines and necks. It was hot as hell but also tender, and Stiles was surprisingly not horrible at it. He went in for another kiss and Derek obliged, rolling his hips in the process which Stiles responded to by moaning into the kiss and moving his hips in rhythm with Derek’s, turning the kiss into something positively dirty.

A tentative tap on the window had them both growling and glaring in that direction.

Isaac sat on the sill and opened the window, coming in with the dawn light. “Really sorry to interrupt, but we have a problem.”

Derek sighed and got up off the bed. Stiles followed suit and stood beside Derek as the Alpha faced Isaac.

“What’s wrong?”

Chapter Text

“There’s... a thing. In the forest, we tracked it coming back from the cemetery.” Isaac reported.

Stiles raised a curious eyebrow, already moving for his laptop. “What do you mean a thing? Can you describe it?”

“Long limbs, kinda dead looking, fast and strong as hell.” Isaac listed promptly.

“And it came from the cemetery?” Stiles clarified.

“Yeah.”

“Where is it now?” Derek asked.

“Boyd, Jackson, and Danny are tailing it.” Isaac told him. “We tried to corner it, but...” He shook his head.

It was then that Stiles noticed that Isaac was kinda dirty, and there was blood on his shirt. Whatever wound had left it was healed now, but there had obviously been a scuffle. Stiles checked on the others via the Pack bond and was relieved that they were all alive. They were moving towards the Hale House.

“We can cut it off, meet them at the house.” Derek assessed, moving for the window.

“Wait!” Stiles called. “You don’t even know what it is yet.”

“I don’t need to know. It attacked the Pack, it dies.” Derek said.

Stiles glared. “I’m not disagreeing with you on that front, but we need to know what it is so we know how to kill it.”

“I was thinking ‘tear its head off’ would be effective.” Derek objected.

Stiles heaved a sigh and nodded, grabbing his magic kit as he stood. The brownies had said that he didn’t need components to work magic, and maybe that was true, but it was easier with components and glyphs. He hadn’t tried to do anything without yet.

Isaac coughed. “Uh, Stiles...”

“What?”

“You’re... not exactly dressed.” Isaac pointed out.

Frustrated, Stiles rolled his eyes. Of course, Isaac was correct. He was only wearing his pajama bottoms. He snatched a shirt and threw it on, and shoved his feet, sans socks, into his shoes. When he was done and turned back to the wolves, he found that they were already gone.

“Not cool!” He yelled.

Stiles grabbed his keys and ran down the stairs, out the door, and into the Jeep in record time. He started her up, threw her into gear, and tore down the road pissed off that they’d left him. He was human, yes, but he wasn’t helpless or useless and the sooner they got that through their heads, the better.

He got to the Hale House a few minutes behind Derek and Isaac, and hurried around to the back where the wolves were all snarling and growling at whatever it was they’d tracked. As he rounded the corner, Stiles got a good look at the thing. Dead-looking was fairly accurate. It was emaciated, grayish skin stretched across bone and not much else, and sported deeply sunken eyes, but those eyes burned with a feral intellect and hunger that clearly marked it as something other than just a corpse. Lanky limbs propelled the thing across the yard faster than a human, and when they swung out to bash a wolf away, the wolf went flying. The thing that grabbed Stiles’ attention though, was the mouth. Huge and gaping, it had bits of flesh and bone stuck between its teeth and blood covered its chin. It was gruesome, and the stench was impressive even to his human senses.

A name came to him though. Ghoul. This was a ghoul, and it cared not a whit for the werewolves around it--all seven of them, the only one missing now was Scott--as soon as it caught Stiles’ scent, it moved for the human.

“Lovely.” Stiles murmured. He pulled on a set of fingerless gloves that he’d glyphed with the supercharged no trespassing glyphs--a product of project day--while the ghoul fought its way through the wolves to get to him. When the gloves were on, he added the magic to the glyphs that activated them and then braced for impact.

When the ghoul charged him, breaking free of Derek’s hold--tearing a chunk out of its side in the process--Stiles was ready and hit it with the glyphs on a downward thrust, sending it skittering into the ground with the same force of a speeding car. The ghoul went down, stunned but not out, thirty feet away, so Stiles drew out a silver-edged knife (courtesy of Deaton) from his pack and tossed it to Derek with a shout. The Alpha caught it and stabbed the ghoul through the heart, killing it at last.

The skin around the wound sizzled and hissed from the silver, and the wolves looked at it curiously as Stiles retrieved his knife. He cleaned it on a rag and held it up so they could all see.

“Silver-edged. Relatively harmless to you guys, except that it’s still pointy; it would take a lot more than what’s on this knife to do anything potentially damaging, but it’s effective against things like ghouls.” Stiles nodded his head to the dead ghoul, and then put the knife back in his bag along with his gloves. Stiles gave them all a cursory once-over; when he was satisfied that no one was injured beyond their ability to heal, he relaxed.

“How did you know what it was?” Boyd asked.

Stiles shrugged nonchalantly. “Been doing a lot of research recently.” Specifically, Stiles had been going through the list he’d had Leeloo help him compile and researching the creatures on it. “How did you guys find it?”

Boyd, Isaac, Danny, and Jackson took Stiles and Derek through how they’d stumbled upon the smell of it near the edge of the forest near the cemetery. They followed it, not knowing what it was, only knowing that it smelled wrong, and found it tearing into the recently deceased. They engaged it to make it stop and chased it into the woods, away from the city, doing their best to keep it on a path toward the Hale House, sending Isaac off to fetch Derek and Stiles when they realized how much stronger it was than them.

Stiles took notes, asked in detail what it smelled like to wolf senses, how strong it had been, and if they’d noticed whether it healed or if it was harder to damage than normal. He wrote it all down, and thanked them.

“You sure are taking a lot of notes.” Erica pointed out.

Stiles nodded. “I’m writing my own bestiary.”

“How resourceful.” Peter commented.

“Resources are exactly why I’m doing it. The Argent’s bestiary is lacking in several areas; ghoul’s included. If I can get more information on the creatures they do have, and add one’s they’re missing then we can all be better prepared if... when something shows up.”

“What does the Argent’s bestiary say about ghouls?” Isaac asked.

“Almost nothing. They aren’t all that common; it’s possible they hadn’t seen one. Just recorded rumors. I want to know why it’s here.” Stiles glared at the dead ghoul, willing it to divulge its secrets.

“For the tasty dead bodies, I assume.” Jackson offered sarcastically.

Stiles smirked a little but shook his head. “There are bigger cemeteries, and more remote cemeteries. Why Beacon Hills?”

“You think it’s the ley line, don’t you.” Lydia said. She’d joined the group once the ghoul was dead, exiting the house.

Stiles nodded. “The brownies said things were coming back to the forest.”

“You think the Alpha Pack scared things off,” Lydia continued, “but now that they’re gone...”

“It’s open season on the ley line again.” Stiles sighed. Was it too much to ask for a little time off? Apparently so. Stupid universe.

Chapter Text

“The ghoul didn’t seem to care about us at all.” Boyd assessed. “Even when Derek showed up, it didn’t seem to be afraid of us. I don’t see it being afraid of the Alphas either.”

“Call me crazy," Peter added, smirking at his own joke, "but it didn’t seem particularly interested in the ley line either. It just seemed hungry.”

“Went after Stiles.” Danny pointed out. “He smells like magic all the time now; maybe it wanted magic after all.”

“Stiles is also human.” Derek countered. “He could have just been after fresh meat.”

“I’m going to go with option two.” Stiles agreed. “Ghouls, from what I could dig up, don’t care about magic. Just food.”

“So why was it here?” Lydia asked.

Stiles’ phone started singing Who Let the Dogs Out? and Stiles nearly jumped out of his skin. He fished for it and quickly answered before the judging looks became too much. “Scott, dude--”

“I think I’m tracking a zombie! Where are you and how soon can you get the Pack together?”

“Where are you?” Derek barked.

“By the cemetery, but it’s moving into the woods now.” Scott answered, clearly hearing Derek over the line.

“You can see it?” Stiles asked. He’d assumed Scott had picked up the trail of the ghoul that they’d just killed, but apparently not.

“Sort of. It’s fast, and--crap, there’s more than one of them now.”

“How many?”

“Three that I can see.”

“We’re moving to you. Don’t lose them.” Stiles ordered and then hung up after getting Scott’s quick affirmative.

Stiles thought quickly. With three of them, they outnumbered Scott and just one had been enough to give almost the whole Pack some trouble. If the ghouls decided to make Scott a snack, he wouldn’t stand a chance. Erica, Isaac, and Danny were the fastest. If they ran full tilt now, they could catch Scott and the ghouls and even the odds a little. There was only one knife, so if it came down to killing the ghouls, they may have to rely on Derek’s ‘tear it’s head off’ method, but if he gave it to one of the runners, they would have an even better chance against the ghouls if they attacked.

Stiles looked to Derek for approval before giving orders. Derek obviously sensed that Stiles had a plan, so he nodded and let him command the Pack.

“Three against one is bad odds, if they decide Scott is trouble or food, then he’s dead. Erica, Isaac, Danny. You run as fast as you can, get to him so that he has back up. Don’t attack unless they do. Take this.” He held the knife out and Erica took it before they fled into the woods toward Scott as fast as they could.

“We’ll follow a little slower; keep your strength for the ghouls.”

Derek nodded. “Go.” He ordered the others and they left at a fast, but not break-neck pace. Derek held Stiles back though and said, “I’m not foolish enough to tell you not to come, but I want to. You’re not weak, but that thing went after you--”

“Like a shark after blood. I noticed.” Stiles allowed.

Stiles frowned, but not in anger. He knew that Derek was right. He’d been able to quickly defend himself against one because the Pack had stalled it long enough for him to get his gloves on, but there was a difference between one well timed hit and fighting off three hungry ghouls.

After another quick thought, Stiles nodded. “If you can get them here, I can make all our jobs a lot easier.”

Derek grabbed Stiles gently by the back of the neck with one hand and leaned in, resting his head against Stiles’ for a beat in thanks before shifting into his hybrid form and running into the forest after his betas. Stiles rolled his eyes fondly as he picked up the shredded bits of pajama bottoms that Derek had just ruined.

“You get to be the magician’s beautiful assistant, come on.” Stiles said to Lydia as he headed for the front of the house and his Jeep.

“I feel the need to comment. You two are kind of adorable.” Lydia followed him to his Jeep.

Stiles opened up the trunk and pulled a bag that had a few things that were too big to carry in his little magic kit. This was a bag he used for training the wolves, but it would work as a big set up kit as well. “I’m glad you approve.”

“I always got the sense that Derek was a secret romantic; just the way he so obviously cares for his Pack seems to me like it would transfer over into any relationship he’d have.”

Stiles started walking back to the back of the house. “Sound logic. Here, drive these into the ground along the tree line.” He handed her stakes and a mallet. “Square not a line, about three feet long.”

“You mean he isn’t romantic?” Lydia did as she was told while she talked.

Stiles sighed as he drove his own stakes into the ground. “It hasn’t been that long, Lyds, but sure. Waking up with my own werewolf cuddle bug is kinda romantic.”

“Sleeping together already? My, my, Stilinski. You certainly don’t waste time.” She smirked.

“Sadly, my innocence remains intact, because the Pack is a bunch of cockblockers.” Stiles groused.

She laughed and the two of them finished driving stakes into the ground without more gossip, for which Stiles was thankful. When all of the framework was set, Stiles used bungee cord to make hold glyphs like the ones he’d used against the Pack during training. He remembered to put a little extra power into them, however, since Derek had been able to break free of them and the ghouls had proven to be at least as strong as the alpha. When they were set and Stiles felt that tug that meant his magic had worked, he nodded approvingly to himself and then walked up to Lydia wielding a Sharpie.

“What are you doing?” She glared at the marker.

“Scent scrubber.” He explained. “One breakable human for bait is enough, and I’m just slightly less breakable than you, so...”

She crinkled her nose in disgust. “Must you use a permanent marker? Can’t you make a talisman or something?”

“I’ll look into it.” Stiles promised. “For now, this is all I’ve got.”

Rolling her eyes, she grabbed her hair and tilted her head, giving Stiles access to her neck. Maybe the location didn’t actually have anything to do with how effective the glyph was, but Stiles had always associated the neck as a primary scent location on the body and it just seemed like the best place for the glyphs to go, so he didn’t question it. When the glyph was done, he capped his Sharpie and put it back in his kit.

“You think those will help?” She gestured to the glyphs now lining the perimeter.

“If a ghoul steps anywhere inside the glyph, it’ll be caught in the trap and held in place long enough for one of the Pack to kill it.” Stiles explained.

She nodded. “Okay, but what if they break through, or don’t step in a glyph?”

“That’s why contingencies exist.” Stiles slipped his gloves back on and poured enough magic in to bring the glyphs back to life.

He checked in on the Pack’s progress and frowned. They were almost to the house. He gestured for Lydia to get inside and out of sight and she obeyed. Stiles stood in the middle of the clearing and waited for the ghouls to arrive. He hoped that at least one would get caught in the glyphs, because he didn’t like the odds if the Pack had to fight three with only one wee bitty knife between them.

Not too much longer, Stiles heard the rustling of leaves and pounding of feet that signaled the ghouls’ approach. He braced himself and watched through the thinning trees as they raced toward him. Erica and Danny were close behind one while Scott and Isaac were tailing another; the wolves were menacing the ghouls by slicing at their heels and attempting to trip them as they ran. It worked a little and the two that were being hounded were slower than the third, allowing the heavy hitters of the Pack to move in and attack. Boyd latched on to the one that Erica and Danny were chasing while Jackson took several swipes at its sides and neck. Peter took the one that Scott and Isaac were tripping, able to do as much damage as Boyd and Jackson were doing because he was clearly better trained. Derek, still in hybrid form, raced after the third ghoul as it ran for Stiles.

When the ghoul hit the glyphs Stiles threw out a cheer as it came to an abrupt stop and looked mightily confused and angry as it tried, unsuccessfully, to free itself. Derek leapt over the ghoul--and the glyphs--and turned, standing between it and Stiles. He let out a vicious snarl and then literally tore the ghoul’s head off, letting it drop in the glyphed square, to the ground.

The sound of a ghoul screeching and the hissing of skin burning signaled the death of the ghoul Erica, Jackson, Boyd, and Danny were fighting. Stiles turned to look in time to see Erica wipe the blood from the ghoul’s slit throat off the knife using Jackson’s shirt. He growled at her, but she flicked him on the forehead unimpressed.

The fight between Peter and the last ghoul was not going as well. Sliced and hamstrung though it was, the ghoul didn’t seem to be having too much difficulty keeping Peter, Scott, and Isaac from inflicting all that much harm. They’d moved pretty far across the tree line in the struggle and were now just about opposite where they had started. The ghoul seemingly realized that crossing the treeline where its brother had would be unhealthy and hadn’t touched the glyphs yet. Stiles could see that Peter and Scott were both bleeding, and Isaac was struggling to his feet a few yards away from them. As he watched, the ghoul dodged an attack from Scott, and Scott sailed over the tree line and into a glyph, trapped. The ghoul took his chance and jumped over Scott like Derek had and raced toward Stiles, Peter close behind him.

Derek stepped in front of Stiles, snarling his anger at the ghoul as it came for him. Stiles could see over Derek because he was crouched down, ready to attack, and he watched as the ghoul did a complicated and painful looking twist so that it could grab ahold of Peter’s arm as he ran alongside it and flung the wolf into the trees several yards away. It was disturbingly impressive and Stiles winced at the sound of crunching and snapping, not sure whether it was tree branches or limbs. The Pack bond told him that Peter was still alive, though, so he focused on the ghoul again.

Boyd, Jackson, Danny, and Erica slotted themselves between the ghoul and Stiles as well, jumping into the fray as Derek did. The ghoul was strong and fast though, and the wolves got in their own way often enough that the ghoul managed to get just that much closer to Stiles.

Stiles, however, was not a damsel in distress and he was not helpless. The wolves forgot that on occasion, but Stiles was okay with reminding them when it happened. Stiles crouched down, took a twig off the ground at his feet, and channeled his magic before snapping it easily between his fingers. The ghoul shrieked as its spine broke, and fell at Stiles feet. It started to drag its way closer, still yearning for the human meat before it. Stiles shook his head, wondered briefly how something like a ghoul was even created, what a horrible existence it must be to be consumed by a mindless, driven hunger all the time. He raised his hand and slammed it down onto the ghoul’s head, using the repulsive force of his gloves and the immovable object that was the ground to crush the ghoul’s skull like Gallager and a watermelon.

Stiles released the magic in his gloves and took them off, putting them back in his kit as he stood. He looked to his Pack to see if anyone needed help, but they were all healing from whatever injuries they’d sustained; even Peter was getting to his feet. Stiles went to Scott and released the magic in the glyph so that he could stand.

“Mental note: Don’t piss off Stilinski.” Danny muttered as they all looked at Stiles’ handiwork.

“A better note would be to remember that I can handle myself and not to treat me like a damsel in distress.” Stiles commented calmly as he looked around at the now four dead ghouls that littered the clearing.

Where had they come from? Ghouls were uncommon, very uncommon. There shouldn’t even have been four in the entire state of California let alone in one tiny town! One had been odd, this was just downright suspicious. Stiles had a nagging feeling that this was just the start of something big.

Derek lumbered up next to Stiles after checking on each member of the Pack. He raised his hackles in a silent snarl at the dead ghoul, expressing his displeasure pretty clearly. Stiles sensed his anger that something had encroached on his territory and caused harm to his Pack, but also his satisfaction that the threat was gone and that everyone was well. He even got a little hint of pride from Derek aimed his direction. Which was fine. Stiles was still going to tell him off for leaving him behind earlier, though.

“Those things are rank.” Scott choked, frowning at the odor. “Can we get rid of them please?”

“We should burn them.” Stiles said. “I don’t know what makes a ghoul, and I don’t want to risk whatever nasty-ass magic is involved seeping into the ground.”

The betas nodded and started gathering the dead ghouls. Erica handed the knife back as she passed Stiles and he put it away before helping with body disposal. He made sure that the betas did it well away from the Hale House, and helped them clear a circle of leaves and twigs or anything that could catch fire. He then glyphed anti-burn wards around the edge of the circle in the dirt before telling to Boyd spray the ghouls with lighter fluid--courtesy of Lydia--and grabbing a match box out of his kit.

“You go on.” Stiles said to them.

They looked at him questioningly. “Why are we suddenly relieved of body disposal duty?” Danny asked.

“The smoke will be harsh on your wolfy senses.” He told them. “Plus burning ghoul probably does nothing for the appetite.” They hesitated. He sighed. “Trust me on this and go. I’ll be fine.”

Danny, Jackson, Erica, and Boyd hesitated a bit more before finally moving away. Boyd handed the lighter fluid to Stiles as he left, and the four of them made their way back to the house. Isaac and Scott remained, stubborn.

They gave him a look and Stiles didn’t argue. He struck the match and dropped it on the ghouls and the three of them watched until the bodies were nothing more than ash. When it was done, Stiles put scent scrubbers on each of them and then followed as Isaac and Scott led the way back to the house.

Derek was dressed and there waiting for them, having put on clothes while they were burning the bodies. He gripped Isaac’s shoulder when the beta said hello as he passed, and nodded to Scott. The two of them went in and Derek took a few more steps closer to Stiles.

He buried his nose in Stiles’ neck and released an annoyed growl. “I hate that glyph.”

“Better than smelling like smoke and ash.” Stiles told him softly, putting a hand in Derek’s hair. He hadn’t wanted the Pack to come back to the house smelling like a fire. He could imagine what that would be like for Derek, Stiles was the same way about hospitals, and he hadn’t wanted Derek to suffer through it.

Derek didn’t say anything, but he stilled. Stiles ran his fingers through his hair, trying to coax Derek to relax a little. It seemed to work eventually, and Derek bit gently at Stiles’ neck, right where the scent scrubbers were before pulling back.

“Something’s bothering you. What is it?” Derek asked.

Stiles didn’t try to deny it. “The ghouls. I want to do some more research, but... They shouldn’t have been here. Not like this.”

Derek frowned, concerned by Stiles’ tone. “You think something brought them here.”

“Something.” Stiles nodded. “I’m going home to do more research. No more single patrols.” That last bit was to all of the wolves, so he raised his voice a little.

“What about you?” Derek asked.

Stiles was tempted to say that Werewolf Watch should be reinstated, but he wouldn’t. He wasn’t patrolling the forest, and he was safe behind his wards. He would be just fine on his own, and Derek needed to spend more time with the Pack. “I’ll be back later for training tonight.”

“You could stay, borrow Peter’s laptop for research.” Derek offered.

That was a tempting offer too, but Stiles needed his books. “I will take you up on that another day.” He leaned in closer so that he could whisper in Derek’s ear and add with a smirk. “Besides, I need to take a shower.”

The rumble Derek made encouraged Stiles to grin cheekily. He walked back a few steps without turning around and winked at Derek before turning around to walk to the Jeep. He made it all of two steps before Derek wrapped his arms around his waist from behind and pulled him close. His breath was warm against Stiles’ jaw as he whispered, “Maybe I should come with you. Make sure you get to the house safely. Lend a hand if anything... comes up.”

Stiles hummed in playful thought, letting Derek think he was considering his suggestion for a moment before he sighed and nodded sagely. “I suppose that would be safest.”

“Glad we’re in agreement.” Derek hefted Stiles up, somehow managing to turn him around, and threw him over his shoulder as he began walking for toward the Jeep.

It was very caveman-like. Stiles was ready to object about being fully capable of walking on his own and not being a sack of potatoes, but then he caught sight of the view. Derek's very fine assets were right there in front of him. Stiles approved.

He slipped his hands into Derek’s back pockets and wow that was an awesome ass. He’d seen it in tight jeans and pajama bottoms, admired it from afar, but getting his hands on it was another thing entirely. He squeezed just a bit, temptation too great to ignore, and was rewarded with a light smack to his own ass.

“I thought Deaton was teaching you about self control.” Derek teased.

“Hey, it’s taking all of my self control not to stick my hands into your pants.” Stiles told him.

Derek set him down since they’d reached the Jeep, but he immediately crowded him against the side. His teeth found the glyph on Stiles’ neck again and Derek growled. “Don’t like not being able to smell you.”

“I’m a teenaged boy, I can’t smell that good.” Stiles found it a little amusing that Derek was so offended by the simple glyph.

“You only say that because you can’t smell yourself.” Derek dragged his nose along Stiles jawline, like he would if he could smell him, seemingly guided by the memory of what he would smell like.

Stiles caught Derek’s mouth when he got close enough and coaxed his mouth to open for him, swept his tongue inside to tango with Derek’s, and smiled into the kiss. His brain came up with the coolest ideas at the oddest times. This idea, though, was at least on the same subject as what was currently happening.

“You know, they say,” kiss, “that when you’re deprived of,” more kissing, “one of your senses, the others,” still more awesome kissing, “compensate for the loss.” Stiles decided he should have all future conversations like this. Kissing and talking was fun. “And wolves rely on,” he almost lost his train of thought when Derek slipped his hand under Stiles’ shirt, “guh, uh, scent. More than any other sense. So maybe I should,” Derek ran his claws across Stiles’ lower back, and Stiles lost the ability to speak temporarily as he ground his hips into Derek’s, “I should, you know, do this more often. Train you to,” Stiles hadn’t realized his ear was an erogenous zone, “to, uh, use your other senses.”

“Hmm...” Derek’s whole body practically vibrated with his low, growl/hum thing, and Stiles was already hard enough to make any kind of non-sex related activity both ridiculously embarrassing and kind of awkwardly painful, thankyouverymuch, he did not need more encouragement at the moment. Didn’t stop Derek from continuing though. “You mean I should watch you squirm as I find a...” his claws--and they were claws, finding just the right balance of sting and pleasure--trailed down Stiles’ spine, and Stiles involuntarily arched forward, “sensitive spot.” Derek smirked, clearly pleased with himself. “I should run my hands over you,” his calloused thumb circled Stiles’ nipple slowly, and Stiles had to bite his lip to stop from moaning, “touch and learn every inch.” Derek brought that thumb down, tantalizingly slow, until it hooked into Stiles’ waistband. “I should taste and kiss my way across your skin; down,” he slipped his thumb under the waistband, touching the top of the triskele tattoo, “down,” Derek was literally millimeters from touching Stiles’ erection; he could feel the heat radiating from Derek’s hand, and if he just moved it a fraction of an inch closer to himself, Derek’s knuckles would graze along the shaft, “down,” finally Derek gripped the base of Stiles’ cock, “until I’ve tasted every inch.” He stroked upwards, mercilessly slow as he said it, and Stiles had to start listing the periodic table of elements in order in his head to stop from coming right then and there. Derek returned to grip the base with an equally slow downstroke and leaned in to whisper in Stiles’ ear, “And I’ll hear the noises you make when I’ve finally decided to let you come.”

“Holy mother of God.” Stiles whimpered, aroused more than he’d probably ever been in his life. If Derek didn’t start moving his hand, Stiles was going to lose control of his hips and start thrusting, and this would be over way too soon.

“We applaud the spectacular performance,” Erica called out from the porch. Stiles and Derek both sent death glares her way, but she simply smiled and continued, “but you’re breaking poor Scott’s brain. Take your naughty, naughty training session elsewhere.”

Stiles had a moment of proper blood flow and felt his cheeks blush as he realized that he’d just been caught with Derek’s hand in his pants and had apparently been overheard, making Scott highly uncomfortable. He tried to send his apologetic feelings Scott’s way via the bond.

Derek grumbled about private property and being able to do as he wished, but he did remove his hand and hustle Stiles into the Jeep so that they could relocate as instructed. Driving was, as predicted, kind of painful what with his raging boner, but Stiles drove as fast as he thought he could get away with back to his house, which was blessedly empty when they arrived.

Chapter Text

Stiles kicked his shoes off as soon as he got in the front door and nearly tripped in his haste, but years of spastic and klutzy behavior had taught him how to stop from face-planting. Most of the time. He threw a small, embarrassed grin over his shoulder at Derek and continued to make his way toward the stairs. He pulled his shirt off halfway up and threw it at Derek for being slow and fully clothed. The werewolf caught it, of course, and smirked, pulling his own shirt off and tossing both of them onto Stiles’ bed as he walked by the door. Stiles took the opportunity while his back was turned to jump out of his pajamas, chucking them into the hallway as he moved to turn on the shower.

Hot, naked, wet werewolf Greek god? Yes please.

“Stiles.” Derek’s tone made Stiles lose his smile.

Stiles turned to face him noticing that Derek was putting his shirt back on. “What’s wrong?”

“You’re dad’s coming.”

“Oh my God, so tired of damn cockblockers!” As he said it, Stiles’ phone began to ring. Derek tossed it to him along with his pajama bottoms. Since it was his dad’s ringtone, Stiles answered.

“Dad?”

“Is there another omega running around that I should know about? I have four dug up bodies with bits missing.”

Stiles sighed, relaxing a little. “No, they were ghouls. We took care of it.” Full disclosure was awesome. No more lying to his dad about what was happening in Beacon Hills.

“Everyone alright?”

“We’re good.” Stiles confirmed.

“Good to hear. I’m almost to the house, have you eaten yet?”

Stiles’ stomach rumbled, interested in the prospect of food. “Not yet.”

“Well, you and Derek should put your pants back on and join me for lunch.”

Stiles spluttered and eyed Derek when the werewolf made a choked sound. Derek was obviously trying to decide if he should be amused or terrified that the sheriff seemed to be blase about him potentially sleeping with his underaged son. Stiles was just annoyed that it wasn’t true.

“I’m pulling into the driveway, Stiles; be dressed or I’ll take Derek to lunch, and leave you here to starve.”

“Oh my god!” Stiles hung up annoyed and skittered to his room to put on clothes.

Luckily it didn’t take Stiles long to get dressed and he was ready within a few minutes of his dad getting into the house. When he was dressed, he joined Derek and his father downstairs. The tension between them was a little awkward, and Stiles tried his best to ignore it. Hopefully they’d relax over lunch.

They took two cars because neither Derek nor Stiles felt like riding in the back of the cruiser, and there really wasn’t room for anyone in the backseat of the Jeep. Not comfortably anyway. So Stiles and Derek had space to talk away from prying ears on the way to the diner.

“Are you okay with this?” Stiles asked, tapping nervously against the steering wheel.

Derek shifted a bit in his seat, which Stiles supposed answered his question. He gave a noncommittal grunt as well.

“I can make up some wolf emergency if you want out of it.” Stiles offered, even though he actually really wanted Derek to join him and his dad for lunch.

He could feel Derek’s gaze on him as he drove, intent on the road since his dad could easily see him through the rearview mirror and Stiles didn’t want to start lunch with a lecture on safe driving. He did flit his eyes over to look at Derek occasionally, briefly, intimidated by the silence.

“I’m sure we’ll survive.” He said at last, sighing.

Stiles nodded, trying valiantly not to let his disappointment show. Derek felt obligated to join them since the sheriff had extended the invitation, but he apparently didn’t actually want to be there and that made Stiles... sad. He wanted Derek and his dad to get along.

He felt Derek’s scrutiny upon him once more and made himself focus on the road. Stiles realized a bit late that no matter how hard he tried to hide all of the outward signs of his emotions, Derek would still be able to feel it through the bond. He could feel Derek’s own apprehension and nervousness via the link, and he winced a little.

“Ignore me.” Stiles tried a smile. “He doesn’t seem to be too worried about us being together, so I’m sure this won’t be all that bad. Plus, hey, free food is always good. Dad will insist on paying, so don’t bother trying to get the bill, by the way. You won’t win, he has secret ninja check stealing ways--”

“Stiles.” Derek cut off his rambling, probably as a mercy to Stiles. “I’m not worried about your dad’s approval.”

Stiles was both surprised and completely not surprised at all. It was a little weird to be both, but weird was Stiles’ normal, so he went with it. “Why not? Aren’t you worried he’ll shoot you with his wolfsbane bullets? He has those, if you recall.”

Derek actually smirked, “He and I already had that talk.”

“Oh. When?”

“When I carried your blood covered body into the emergency room.” Derek told him bluntly.

Stiles cringed. That must have been unpleasant. “Sorry about that.”

“Don’t be.”

Silence rang for about a mile until Stiles finally asked. “If it’s not Dad... what are you worried about?”

Derek shifted uncomfortably again and--mumbled was probably too undignified for Derek’s taste, but that’s what Stiles would call it--mumbled. “Everyone else.”

Stiles thought about that, for once, before commenting. He had to hold his tongue between his teeth to do it, but he did it. Derek had been literally hunted by the cops, been persona non grata in the town, and was just generally unsocial out of habit. Being seen at a public diner with the sheriff and his son would... draw attention.

“Huh.” Stiles considered it. “Maybe it won’t be that bad?”

Everyone stared at them as they walked into the diner together. Everyone. It was like a freaky pod people moment and Stiles wanted to slam his head against a hard surface to knock himself unconscious so he wouldn’t have to deal with it. He felt Derek’s discomfort as well and was about three seconds from making an excuse to his dad and ditching.

The sheriff, however, just raised an eyebrow and cleared his throat, giving the diner at large a highly unimpressed look. The patrons and staff quickly went about their business, but a low hum of many hushed voices filled the diner where idle chatter and the clinking of flatware had been.

The hostess led them to a booth, one that was thankfully away from the majority of the other customers.

“Don’t mind them.” She smiled, sliding menus onto the table. “Gossip is the only thing that keeps the buildings in this town standing.”

“Good to know they’re just doing their civic duty.” Derek muttered.

The sheriff chuckled and Stiles relaxed a little. If Derek could joke, then the situation wasn’t completely horrible... Though he did recall that time that Derek burned wolfsbane out of his system and came up snarking. This wasn’t that bad though. Right? Right.

The hostess told them their waitress would be with them shortly and left them to their own devices.

His dad went over the menu in front of him, so Stiles did the same. He seemed calm and relaxed, completely at ease sitting across from Derek and Stiles. Stiles decided it was a trap of some kind.

He was right.

“Do I want to know what the blood colored stains are on your fingers, Stiles?” He asked quietly, still not looking away from his menu.

“Blood?” Stiles answered.

“And brain matter.” Derek corrected.

“From the ghouls this morning.” Stiles clarified.

The sheriff hummed, nodding. “Think you maybe should go clean up before anyone else notices?”

Stiles opened his mouth to object, but his dad finally looked over the top of the menu and gave him a look that brooked no argument. He sighed and nodded, scooting out of the booth and walking quickly to the restroom. He scrubbed vigorously with soap to get all of the blood off his hands quickly. It was stubborn, so it took longer than Stiles would have liked, but eventually he managed to get it all off.

When he walked back to the table, Derek and his dad were talking quietly, politely, like they actually got along. Stiles smiled. He slid back into the seat next to Derek and grabbed the water that was waiting for him.

“What’d I miss?”

“Derek was just telling me that we shouldn’t be expecting more ghouls.” The sheriff told him. “But that you think someone sent them.”

Stiles shrugged, trying to downplay the potential threat. “I’m not sure yet.”

“But?”

Stiles winced. “But I wouldn’t be surprised if Beacon Hills got more activity... of the weird variety.”

The sheriff sighed heavily. Before he could respond, however, the waitress appeared to take their order. They all gave their request for food and she left with a promise to bring it out shortly. When she was gone, there was a tense silence.

Eventually the sheriff spoke up. “You planning on handling what comes our way?”

“Yes, sir.” Derek responded.

“And you?” He asked Stiles.

Stiles nodded, resolute. This was his town and like hell he’d have hostile invaders try to harass his people.

His dad seemed to think it over for a bit, sipping his coffee. Finally, he set the mug down and looked between the two of them determined set to his features. “I want to see what you can do. I want to know that I can trust you’ll be able to handle yourselves--this goes for your Pack as well Derek. I’m not leaving the safety of everyone in the hands of teenagers unless I know they can handle it.”

“You mean like a demonstration?” Stiles asked.

“It’s not an unreasonable request, Stiles.” His father raised an eyebrow at him.

To his surprise, Derek nodded. “We’ll set something up.”

“Uh, yeah.” Stiles went with it because he didn’t really see a reason not to, he was just surprised that it had been suggested at all. “Two days?”

“Acceptable.” His dad agreed and drank more of his coffee. When he set it back down, he threw them both for a curveball. “This lunch with the family thing isn’t terrible. Why’d you two wait so long to do this?”

Stiles nearly spit the his water out in surprise and he heard Derek force himself to not choke on his own coffee. They looked between each other then back to the sheriff--who was smirking, damn him.

“What do you mean ‘wait so long’? It’s only been a few days; we haven’t even gone on a real date.” Stiles stumbled over his words.

Wait.

“We’ve... never gone on a date.” Stiles repeated slowly--to himself mostly, but Derek could join the conversation if he so desired--like the goddamn epipha-tree had just smacked him in the face for being a moron. He turned to look at Derek. “We should do that.”

“It’s on my to-do list.” Derek admitted, sheepish. He nudged Stiles under the table and gestured minutely to the sheriff.

Turning to look at his dad, Stiles realized that he looked less than pleased. “Doing this a bit out of order, aren’t you?”

Stiles got hit with the epipha-tree’s backswing and realized that his dad believed that him and Derek were having sex, and apparently had been for a while. Not that Stiles could blame him; if it weren’t for interruptions, he and Derek would have slept together before ever going on a date.

“You’re thinking that Derek and I have... we haven’t. Promise. Believe me.” Stiles floundered.

His dad didn’t look impressed.

“No. Seriously. The Pack is a bunch of cockblocking--” Stiles felt Derek’s hand grip his leg firmly, willing, begging him to stop and listen to the words coming out of his mouth. Stiles cleared his throat. “I mean...”

“You’re trying to defend your actions by saying that the only reason you haven’t been sleeping together is because the Pack has interrupted you?” The sheriff sounded like he questioned Stiles’ sanity and, to be fair, point.

Stiles sighed a sigh that was a little more like a whine than he normally would have liked. “I’m a teenage boy.” He reasoned. “I have a mighty need!”

A plate of pancakes was promptly set in front of him.

“Not what I meant, but also acceptable.” Stiles muttered.

He was a little too involved in his plate of cakey-goodness to immediately parse the strangled sound that came from next to him. It did draw his attention though. He looked over to Derek who seemed to be trying to disappear into the non-existent shadows.

“Would you like a ladder to get yourself out of your hole, Son?” The sheriff asked seriously.

Stiles’ brain caught up with his mouth and he sank a little in his seat. “Nah, it’s cool. I figure if I keep going, I’ll come out somewhere in China and not have to deal with the embarrassment.”

That did get a small chuckle out of his dad. Stiles hoped that he hadn’t just ruined this lunch with his runaway mouth, but he kind of doubted it. Derek still felt uncomfortable and nervous, which was in turn making Stiles uncomfortable and nervous.

“Both of you can relax.” The sheriff told them magnanimously. “If the age difference bothered me that much I wouldn’t have invited Derek to join us for lunch.”

Stiles relaxed just that much more. His dad was awesome. Derek seemed to relax as well and they all dug into their food with only a slightly awkward silence.

As Stiles had predicted, he dad ninja’d the check and paid for the meal before Derek could. Derek stubbornly left cash for the tip however, and only raised his eyebrow at the sheriff as if daring him to object. Chuckling again, his dad raised his hands in defeat and led the way back to the cars.

“Meet you at the house, Stiles.” His dad said before shaking Derek’s hand and getting into the cruiser.

When he was pulling away, Stiles turned to Derek and winced slightly. “Sorry. Foot in mouth syndrome.”

“It wasn’t terrible.” He shrugged.

Stiles hesitated. He was loath to bring up something that might make Derek reconsider this whole thing, but... He’d accidentally brought it up and Stiles knew that there were possible hang ups that might become an issue, so he had to know. “So... about the age difference...”

“Stiles.” Derek huffed, making Stiles look at him by tipping his head up from its downcast position. “You are smarter, tougher, and more stubborn than any other sixteen year old I’ve ever met.”

“I’m seventeen, actually.” Stiles corrected absently.

Derek looked confused for a moment. “When--”

“Couple months ago; like a week and a half after the Cookie Debacle.” Stiles caught the regret from the bond and shook his head. “Don’t worry about it.”

Derek sighed, clearly frustrated at himself. He continued his earlier train of thought though, “Smarter, tougher, more stubborn than any seventeen year old, and you’ve fought for the Pack, bled for the Pack, killed... I trust you’re capable enough to decide whether or not you’re ready for a relationship.”

“Good to hear.” Stiles nodded.

He wasn’t sure how long the sight of Cora bleeding slowly from every pore was going to haunt his nightmares. It wasn’t something he liked, but he would do it again if it meant Derek lived. The ghouls had been distinctly non-human and killing them didn’t bother Stiles as much as killing Cora had. They were forces of chaos and destruction and had threatened him, his Pack, and his town.

Reminded once again of the ghouls, Stiles set his shoulders. “I need to get started on research. I... won’t make it to the Pack meeting unless I get answers by then.”

“Let me know when you have something.” Derek nodded.

“Want me to drop you off at your place?”

Derek shook his head. “It’s fine. I don’t mind walking.”

Stiles would have liked to give Derek a kiss goodbye, but he sensed that he was nervous and on edge in public, the diners still not-so-subtly watching them through the windows. He settled for a reassuring smile before climbing into the Jeep.

Derek closed his door for him and leaned against the open window, “I’ll text you later about that date.”

Stiles grinned, “Looking forward to it.”

With that, he pulled out of the lot and drove home, still pleased that Derek had been serious about going out on an actual date. The lunch hadn’t been horrible after all.

Once at home, he poured himself into his research. First on his list of factoids was how ghouls were created. He needed to know if this was something happening locally or if the ghouls had been sent. One was bad enough, but the latter implied intent and that did not bode well. At this point, Stiles had several useful sites bookmarked along with a few forums that were peppered with people from the supernatural community that were also fairly helpful. He combed through the sites for several hours trying to find any relevant information regarding the creation of ghouls. Several sites had pieces, gaps in the process or steps specifically and purposefully blacked out, but put it all together and Stiles had a recipe.

It required serious necromantic mojo to create a ghoul on purpose. Ritual casting and weird components that, given the proper motivation, Stiles could actually track. Magic like that left marks, left signs. Unnatural phenomena blamed on weird weather patterns and creepy campfire legends. If someone was cooking up ghouls, Stiles could figure out where they’d done the spell based on these weird signs.

If.

Another hour and a half of internet searches came up with nada in the way of necromantic signs anywhere in North or Central America. Frustrated, he flung himself away from his desk and scrubbed hands over his tired face. He sighed and decided to take a break. He still needed a shower after all and it was nearing dinner time.

Stiles pulled himself to his feet and made his way to the bathroom where he took a steaming hot shower. He was frustrated. Today had been a frustrating day. And here he was, in the shower, scrubbing off permanent marker and the smell of ash, and thinking about the absolute frustration of still being left to relieve his own tension, as had been his increasingly frequent habit of late. With a live-in werewolf, the shower was really the only place to jack-off, and there had been a serious need for that with Derek in his space all the time. Finally, there was the chance of some mutual satisfaction, and they’d been cockblocked left, right, and center. There was something less satisfying about orgasming alone when he’d been so close to having company. To have come so close! And yet to have not come at all... Well, he was fixing that right now.

When his shower was over, he got dressed and headed downstairs for dinner. His dad was already at the dinner table with a few boxes of take put in front of him. They were at least relatively healthy, so Stiles didn’t complain. He grabbed a box of fried riced for himself and sat across from his dad.

“How’s research going?”

“I’ve determined that no one has created any ghouls recently,” he sighed dejectedly, “which is unfortunate.”

“Shouldn’t that be a good thing?” The sheriff asked dryly.

“Normally. But in this case, not so much. It means that the four that attacked earlier arrived on their own, which is... unheard of. Ghouls are extremely uncommon; they shouldn’t have been here.”

The sheriff frowned. “Do they have to be created to be controlled?”

Stiles thought about it. Technically no. If a magic user was powerful enough, they wouldn’t need to have created the ghouls in order to control them, but it seemed unlikely that said magic user would have found four ghouls and controlled them long enough to set them on Beacon HIlls. And if they had enough juice to do that, creating them would be doable as well, not to mention probably easier. In the end, it just didn’t make sense.

Stiles shook his head. “Possible, but not likely. If someone could control them, they could create them, and creating them would be less risky.”

“So which is worse? Ghouls coming here on their own, or a rogue Spark?” The sheriff asked wearily.

“It might not be a Spark. Much more likely would be a necromancer.”

“There’s a difference?”

“A Spark is just a type of magic user; not everyone who uses magic is a Spark. Specifically--and as far as I understand it--a Spark draws magic from within himself to cast spells. Not everyone works that way. A necromancer, for example, draws power from death and entropy directly, and doesn’t require any internal magical ability. Just the knowhow to manipulate natural magical energy and a will to use it.”

The sheriff nodded slowly in understanding. “So which would be worse?”

Stiles sighed heavily. “Both suck in different ways, but... if it were a person doing it, we could stop them and that would be the end of it. If it’s not, if their doing of their own volition, then... I have no idea how stop it.”

His dad frowned. “How sure are you that this wasn’t a one time thing?”

“Our luck is never that good.”

Later that night, after dinner, Stiles texted Derek like he’d promised to let him know that he hadn’t found much, but that he suspected that they weren’t dealing with a spell caster. Derek’s response had been eloquent.

FROM: sourwolf
8:13pm

Fuck

Stiles agreed.

Stiles spent the next day reading up on as much information he could find regarding... anything that had to do with things that went bump in the night. He had no idea what the next visitor would be, but he wanted to be prepared. In between hours of staring at his computer and the pages of old books, Stiles texted the Pack. They’d set up patrols in pairs as an early warning system of sorts and were checking in with Stiles and Derek regularly. It was tense, like everyone was waiting for the other shoe that refused to drop. It was, frankly, exhausting, but no one was able to relax.

Near midnight, too anxious to sleep, Stiles was working on the talisman that Lydia had suggested. He still had leftover jewelry from Lydia’s birthday that he hadn’t bothered to return yet, so he selected a choker that he’d thought went well with Lydia’s hair and his exacto knife. He was etching the glyphs into the inside of the choker when he heard the tap on his window.

Absently, he gestured for whoever it was--checking the Pack bond, it was Scott--to come in.

“You suddenly have an aversion to front doors?” He asked casually.

“This was faster?” Scott shrugged with a half smirk.

“What’s up?” Stiles asked.

“Nothing. What are you doing?” Scott inquired, coming closer.

Stiles kept working while he explained, “Lydia said that she was getting tired of being Sharpie’d so I’m working on a talisman. Figure now’s as good a time as any to get as much prepared as possible.”

“What will it do?” Scott, bless him, was legitimately interested. He apparently had a secret love of all things magic!Stiles.

“Currently working the scent scrubbers, but there’s room for more if I can think of what else to add.” Stiles told him. He finished the last line, felt the tug that meant it worked, and put it on. “Well?”

Scott smirked, “I don’t think it’s your color.”

Stiles shoved him, grinning. “Seriously though.”

His friend took a deep breath and frowned. “Yeah, it works.”

“Good.” He released the magic and took the choker off. When he had it back on the table, he pulled out a bottle of clear nail polish and began going over the lines so that they wouldn’t wear off with use.

“Nail polish?” Scott teased.

“Good for lots of things.” Stiles replied with a shrug. “Preserving my work,” he motioned to the choker, “applying invisible glyphs, killing chiggers, emergency adhesive, metal tarnish prevention, easy needle threading, so on and so forth.”

Scott did his confused puppy head tilt. “Needle threading?”

Stiles threw a smile at him and pulled out the fingerless gloves that had the no trespassing glyphs stitched on them, holding them up for Scott to see. “You think I got these at Target?”

“I didn’t realize you’d sewn them.”

“Stitched. Don’t let me anywhere near a sewing machine; I’d probably sew my fingers together.” Stiles shook his head.

There was a short silence while Stiles continued to apply polish. He could sense that Scott wanted to ask something though, so he just let him gather his thoughts.

“Wanna play Halo when you’re done?” Scott finally asked.

Stiles smiled brightly. It had been awhile since they’d clocked in any good Scott-Stiles Bro Time. “Definitely.”

They played Halo for a good three hours with nothing more substantial than expletives and creative suggestions for where to shove certain weapons. It was nice, very reminiscent of life before werewolves, and a great distraction from the looming chaos. Stiles could still sense that Scott wanted to talk about something though, so he wasn’t surprised when the conversation shifted to a much more serious topic.

“I’m sorry for being a shitty friend.”

Stiles paused the game. “You’re not--”

“I kinda was.” Scott interrupted. “I got so caught up in... everything, and I used your friendship for your help with it all, but I never really made time for you. Like we used to.”

“Hey, man, if I wasn’t up for helping, I wouldn’t have done it. You can’t say it was friendship that had me helping Jackson, or even Derek at first.”

“I know, but still...”

Stiles shrugged. “Relax. We’re cool. We’re Pack. We’re... pretty much brothers, Scott.”

“Still. I wanted to apologize, and... thank you. For... all of it. For helping, for saving my ass, for... the Pack. I never would have had that without you, so...”

“You could have joined the Pack whenever you wanted to; you didn’t need me for that.” Stiles pointed out.

Scott shook his head though. “I wouldn’t’ve joined without you yelling at me like you did. I guess... I always thought that if I had one I couldn’t have the other, and maybe that’s true, but I was so focused on Allison that I... didn’t see anyone else. I thought that I didn’t need Derek or his Pack because I had Allison and you, but it’s not the same, like, at all.” Scott paused then, frowning with concentration. Stiles was content to let him work it out in his head because he was truly interested in what had finally changed Scott’s mind. “That night, when Isaac was at my place after you saved Erica and Boyd at the clinic... He and I talked about what had gone down with the Alpha Pack. I wasn’t there, still too... confused I guess, but I still felt it when everyone panicked. Especially when you were taken. Man, I don’t think I’ll ever forget what that was like, everyone’s distress and fear, especially Derek’s. Isaac talked to me about it, the Pack bonds, and... I don’t know. I guess I was still a little freaked out about it, but then Erica and Boyd showed up and... that sense of calm and contentment that came over them all being in the same room again after what had happened... I hadn’t felt anything like that in... a long time.”

Stiles smiled. “Pack is awesome, and about more than just being stronger and better. It’s why it makes you stronger and better. It’s like family.”

“I’m starting to get that.” Scott smiled tentatively.

“Good talk bro.” Stiles unpaused the game and blew Scott’s head off.

“Ass.”

Stiles felt Scott relax over the bond and the two of them continued to play until the sun rose.

Chapter Text

The next day transpired much like the one before. Stiles did research, the Pack patrolled, they all texted, and absolutely jack shit happened. Stiles was beginning to think that maybe they’d caught a break. He knew he shouldn’t, but he sort of couldn’t help it.

Then his practical thoughts were confirmed.

FROM: Leeloo
10:35pm

There’s something weird in the forest. We’ve been warned away until it’s gone.

Stiles gestured flailingly at Derek, who had slipped into his room about an hour ago, content to read more Dresden Files while Stiles obsessively researched. He felt Derek’s warm presence over his shoulder as he responded.

TO: Leeloo
10:36pm

What is it? Where is it? Is it hostile?

FROM: Leeloo
10:38pm

We don’t know... Just tell the Pack to be careful. It seems particularly drawn to magical energies.

“Awesome.” Stiles muttered.

“Nice of her to warn us.” Derek muttered, frowning. He had his Alpha frown on, which meant he was in Protect-My-Peeps mode. He didn’t call it that, but Stiles totally did. Quietly, and only to himself.

Stiles nodded and sent her a thank you. “If the elves don’t know what it is, I’m going to bet it isn’t in the Bestiary.”

“Probably not.” Derek agreed. He had his own phone out and was texting the Pack when Stiles turned around. “Still worth a look though, just in case.”

A few keystrokes later, the Agrent’s Bestiary was up on his screen. He did a search for anything that seemed drawn to magical energy like Leeloo had mentioned, but there were a large number of hits. It would take more information to narrow the list. “I need more to work with.”

“The others say they haven’t found anything weird, but they aren’t covering the entire forest.” Derek admitted.

“Hard to with only eight werewolves.” Stiles sighed.

When his sigh turned into a yawn, Stiles found himself levered out of the chair. Derek hoisted him onto the bed and knelt down to take off his shoes for him. Stiles began to object, but Derek silenced him with a look. Accepting that Derek was in a mood, Stiles allowed himself to be undressed. He moved further up the bed when Derek asked him to and watched as the werewolf shucked his jacket and toed off his own shoes before laying down next to him in the bed. Stiles was mildly disappointed when all Derek did was snuggle him close and tell him to sleep, but he was tired and Derek made an awesome snuggle buddy.

When he woke up the next morning, Derek was gone. He did have a post-it note on his head though. Stiles chuckled groggily as he took the note off to read it.

I had to leave before your dad came home, sorry.
The demonstration is still scheduled for today.
Bring him by the house when you’re ready.

Right. His dad had asked for a demonstration of skill so that he could trust the Pack to take care of the town. That was supposed to be today. Stiles glanced at the clock. It was early yet, his dad would still be asleep after coming home late from work. He sent a text to Derek to let him know that he’d come by in the afternoon, and then he went back to work on Lydia’s talisman.

He decided to give her very basic protection against harmful magics; he couldn’t give her the whole set that he’d had tattooed on, but he did glyph a generic protection from hostile magic. It wouldn’t be as strong as his was because it was generic, but it would be better than nothing. When he felt the tug, he coated it in polish and set it aside to dry. He felt that a third glyph was in order, so he sifted through his list to see which would be most helpful. He decided on a glyph to increase stamina; it should give her a boost of energy when she needed it.

When it was all done, he held it aloft and smiled. She should finally stop glaring at him when he came at her with a Sharpie--because he wouldn’t have to anymore, so long as she remembered to bring the choker--and she’d be a little bit safer too. He put it in his kit so he wouldn’t forget to give it to her later.

Once that was done, Stiles went on a hunt for everything he could think of that he could glyph for his father. His badge was first, then his favorite jacket, his uniform jacket, boots, and belt. He snuck into his dad’s room while he was asleep to get it all, but Stiles could be surprisingly quiet when he wanted to be. With his loot in hand, he returned to his desk to get started. He wanted all of these done as soon as possible. If big bads were making themselves known, then Stiles would make sure his dad had the best protection he could give him short of tattooing it into his skin.

The belt got the full monty of magical protection, rather like the line of glyphs that wrapped around Stiles’ own waist. There was enough room on the belt for all of them, unlike the choker, and he was taking no chances. Those took half an hour. Once he applied the nail lacquer, Stiles moved on to the boots. He would be applying scent scrubbers--and not just for the anti-tracking aspect; his dad’s feet were rank--just as soon as he figured out where to put them without effectively destroying the shoe. In the end, he removed the laces completely and pulled the shoe as wide as it would go, giving him access to the inside. He carved the glyphs into each shoe, lacquered them, and then re-laced them as it dried. He took fifteen minutes on each shoe, making the glyphs as strong as he could (because seriously). Setting them aside, he grabbed the first jacket and then needle and thread. The lining made the job of hiding them much easier. He stitched many of the same physical protection glyphs that he had just under the collar of the jacket; not all of them, but most. He did the same thing to his dad’s uniform jacket so that it didn’t matter which one he was wearing. Each jacket took an hour.

Lastly, Stiles set the badge in front of him. The sheriff’s badge was a symbol of protection in and of itself. There were creatures in the world that were repelled (or at least didn’t like) the six pointed star, and the authority behind the badge--granted by the belief of thousands (more if you counted sheriff badges in general and not this one specifically) of people--held its own power. All Stiles had to do was make it stronger. Etching the triskele on the back of the badge took a lot of concentration. The glyph was, itself, harder to carve because of the spirals; add the fact that he was working with metal rather than something soft and reasonable like leather and it just made it that much more difficult. When he finished half an hour later, he pushed himself away from the desk and leaned back to stretch the soreness out of his spine.

“Can I have my stuff back now?” The sheriff asked calmly.

Stiles jumped in surprise, falling completely out of his chair. He hadn’t realized that his dad was there. How long had his dad been there? “Uh... almost done.” Stiles stammered. He still had to apply the nail polish to the glyph, but then he’d be done.

“You realize I will at some point have to give that back, right?” The sheriff pointed at the badge, raising an incredulous eyebrow at his son.

Stiles only shrugged. “Eh, I can fix it.”

His dad nodded, probably more humoring him than agreeing with him, but whatever. Stiles got back to his feet and quickly applied a layer of polish to the glyph and then set it down to dry. As it was doing that, he handed his dad the rest of his stuff.

“Was all this really necessary?” He asked as he put on his boots and belt.

“Yes.” Stiles said. “The last thing I want is for you to get clawed or possessed or kidnapped by fucking faeries again, so yes. All of it is necessary.”

“Again?” Disbelieving tone was disbelieving.

Stiles sighed. “Back in the beginning of summer, that night you don’t remember because ‘you were drunk’? Not so much drunk as abducted by a crazy faerie. Derek and I saved you. So. You’re welcome.”

He stared, confused for a moment before collecting himself. “I’m not going to touch that. Deliberately changing the topic now; when are we meeting the others?”

Stiles checked his watch. “I said afternoon, so we have time to eat first if you want to.”

His dad nodded, gathered his badge, and led the way downstairs.

After lunch, they headed to the Hale House in the cruiser. His dad gave him a Look when he realized where they were headed, but didn’t comment. When they arrived, Stiles climbed out and was pulled into a hug by his werewolf boyfriend who had so rudely snuck out of his bed last night. He ignored whatever normal discomfort or embarrassment he might have had showing affection to his boyfriend in front of his father because Derek hugs were rare and awesome.

He noted with amusement that Derek shook the sheriff’s hand while still hugging Stiles with his other arm.

“Derek.”

“Sir.”

Stiles internally rolled his eyes. It was friendly, but overly formal in his opinion. Scott and the others poured out of the house to come say hello too, effectively distracting the sheriff long enough for Derek and Stiles to have a quick chat.

“You smell of magic; intensely.” Derek commented, inhaling deeply. “Did something happen?”

“I just spent three and half hours warding some of my dad’s stuff.” Stiles told him. “Sorry if it’s distracting.”

Derek shook his head. “Just wanted to make sure you didn’t run into anything.”

“So, how are we doing this?” Scott asked, bringing everyone’s attention back to the task at hand.

“Wolves first.” The sheriff decided.

Derek nodded and let Stiles go so that he could address the Pack. “We’ll treat this like a training exercise, unless there’s something specific you’d like to see?”

“I’ll admit that I don’t know a lot about werewolves, so it might be best if you just show me.”

Derek nodded again and then made a hand gesture telling the wolves to round up. “You’ve seen Scott shift,” Derek started, “and while betas, especially younger ones, don’t look too different from their human faces, you should still see the others. Know them so you can recognize them later.”

When Derek looked back to the betas, they shifted. Stiles hadn’t seen all of them shifted before either, so he took the time to look as well. Erica looked the most like herself, possibly because she was the youngest, but also maybe because she was female. Boyd after her, and Stiles made a mental note to ask about his lack of furry growth. Was it because he was already bald? Isaac he’d seen on a few occasions; same for Scott and Derek. Danny and Jackson looked more dramatically different than the others, but, if Stiles recalled, they were actually a little bit older, so that made some sense. Peter was the biggest change; as a full grown man, his beta form resembled Derek’s in facial reconstruction. Derek’s eyes were red, Peter’s and Jackson’s eyes were blue, everyone else’s were gold.

The sheriff took his time committing everyone’s faces to memory. Stiles was proud of the way he didn’t flinch at seeing the wolves. He knew not everyone would be able to stare weirdness in the face with as much composure. When he was done, the sheriff nodded to Derek.

“Werewolves are faster and stronger than regular humans,” Derek began, “even the youngest and newest wolves,” Erica and Danny stepped forward, “are strong enough to throw a full grown human with ease.”

Whether Derek coached them what to do before they arrived, or if they just instinctively sensed what their Alpha wanted, Stiles didn’t know, but Erica grabbed Boyd the same moment that Danny grabbed Jackson and both went flying.

“Our reflexes are faster as well, enabling us to react and respond to threats and danger better than a human.” As they landed, Jackson and Boyd tucked and rolled and came up snarling and ready for the next assault. Point proven, they relaxed and joined the other betas.

“Senses are also enhanced. Sight, hearing, and smell especially.” Derek continued. “We’re able to pick up things beyond and outside of human registry. We can hear heartbeats distinctly enough to know when someone is lying; we smell and see subtle shift in body language enabling us to read certain emotions. Tracking is also easily learned.”

Stiles saw his dad shake his head with a small smile on his face. He didn’t have to ask to know what he was thinking though, because Stiles had thought it at one point or another too. Werewolves would make killer deputies. Derek gave him time to process, and when he was done, the sheriff asked a question.

“What about full moons?”

“Controlling the shift takes practice.” Derek was about to be brutally honest, Stiles could tell. “Not all of them are there yet, but there are precautions we take to make sure no one endangers anyone else. Even each other.”

“Precautions?”

“Chains are good.” Stiles pipped up, wanting to take the brunt of the Disapproving Stare that was no doubt headed their way. “Handcuffs, not so much. Manacles are stronger, but need to be anchored to something really secure. But Mountain Ash works best.”

“Mountain ash?”

“Makes a temporary but impenetrable barrier against shapeshifters.” Stiles detailed calmly. “I have some with me if you’d like to see.”

The sheriff nodded, so Stiles fetched the magic dust from his kit and did an internal eenie-meenie-minie-mo settling on Boyd. He beckoned him with a finger and then did a circle of ash around him. “The circle works both ways,” Stiles said after it was done. “He can’t get out, and none of them can get in either.”

To demonstrate, Boyd tried to leave the circle, but was rebuffed every time, and then Erica stepped forward to try and reach him. She couldn’t, and Stiles could sense the mild irritation via the bond. He smiled apologetically, and broke the circle with a wave of his hand.

From there, Derek started the training session. The betas would break up and pair off to wrestle, which always reminded Stiles of when two dogs start fighting, all snarling and teeth and too fast movement. They worked in predictable pairs: Jackson and Danny, Erica and Boyd, Scott and Isaac. Peter didn’t wrestle, possibly because no one trusted him enough not to kill someone, though it could also have been as simple as he was much better trained than the others and would wax the floor with them.

The sheriff watched it all and Stiles watched him. He noticed when his dad nodded approvingly, noticed when he frowned in concentration, when he sighed in resignation. The matches were over in a few minutes, both parties having landed good blows and blocks and pleasantly tired.

When Derek declared a “winner” for each pair, the sheriff glanced to him and asked, “Mix it up?”

Derek nodded and switched the beta pairs. Scott with Jackson, Danny with Erica, and Boyd with Isaac. The wrestling began again, but this time Stiles split his attention between the wolves and his dad. Watching his dad, he suspected that the sheriff was developing a theory. He expected another question once these matches were done.

“What about you, Hale?” He could have been talking to either Hale, but Stiles suspected he meant Derek.

Derek sighed quietly. To the unfamiliar eye, he looked annoyed, but Stiles could tell he was actually nervous. “The only one here that has a chance to win is Stiles.” Stiles whipped his head around and blinked, surprised. That sounded incorrect to him. The human versus the Alpha werewolf seemed like a pretty obvious choice. “His magic, when he choses to use it, is... impressive.”

The image of Cora bleeding from her pores came unbidden to his mind and Stiles shifted uncomfortably.

“Even the odds then,” his dad stated. “All of them, versus you.”

Derek nodded, and Stiles climbed up onto the cruiser to get out of the way. His dad looked at him, admonished, but stood a bit closer to the cruiser than he had been. When they were settled, the betas attacked. Stiles observed the fight because he was curious. He’d never seen all of them attack Derek before and he wanted to see who would win. As the fight progressed, Stiles realized what his dad had probably seen earlier. He sighed, because there was no way he wasn’t going to comment on it.

Stiles doubted highly that his dad cared who won the match, because that wasn’t the point of making them fight. Decided on this, he chose to lend a hand. The young betas were enough to test Derek’s skills, forcing him to be quick as they attacked from multiple flanks, but he was holding his own. Peter on the other hand, was a sneaky bastard who only attacked when Derek was busy dealing with the others. He’d landed a few slashes several times doing this, and Stiles honestly didn’t trust him enough to stop if he got an opportunity to slit Derek’s throat. He pulled his magic kit closer and pulled out his thread. He selected a strand, channeled his magic, and snapped it. Peter fell with a grunt as his leg snapped with the thread just as he was about to attack Derek’s flank. He could have done it to his spine, but he wasn’t that much of a bastard and Peter hadn’t done anything to deserve it. Recently.

When Peter dropped to his good knee, the betas sent Stiles a wary glance and it was enough of a distraction that Derek was able to toss Boyd and Jackson (the two heaviest hitters) into nearby trees. When it looked like they were about to get up and go for him again, Stiles took two toothpicks out of his kit, broke them in half, and then channeled his magic again, this time wrapping a thread around each pair. Jackson and Boyd stumbled and fell as their legs were suddenly bound by invisible force. They both glared at Stiles, who just shrugged and grinned.

Now it was four versus the Alpha and while Danny and Erica were very fast, faster even than Derek himself, they weren’t doing enough when they hit to actually keep him distracted for long. Scott was the strongest of the four remaining wolves, but he wasn’t as well trained and it showed in his attacks. Isaac was a good balance and seemed to be doing the most damage. Not enough to keep him down though. It was, at this point, a stalemate to see who would run out of stamina first.

Or. Stiles could tip the balance. He chuckled quietly to himself and pulled out another thread. He channeled his magic and tied a knot and watched as Derek sighed and sent him a Look. The momentary distraction, and the now cramping leg muscle, didn’t stop Derek from putting Scott on his ass when he tried to jump the moment his head was turned. It did make him just a little bit slower though, and that was enough.

Scott got back up and Stiles noticed that he and Isaac shared a little nod before attack simultaneously, each one grabbing Derek’s arms and pulling, trying to literally drag him down. Erica took the chance to leap and landed squarely on Derek’s chest. The force of it tipped them all that last little bit, and Derek fell onto his back, arms pinned by Scott and Isaac while Erica sat triumphantly atop. Danny quickly grabbed his legs when he was ready to wrap them around Erica to get her off of him. Thusly pinned, Derek yielded.

Stiles released his magic and applauded.

“I call foul.” Jackson grumbled as he got back to his feet.

“Be happy I didn’t break your leg.”

“Can I call foul?” Peter demanded.

“Be happy I didn’t break your spine.” Stiles stated calmly.

His dad eyed him. “Can you do that?”

“Easily.” Isaac nodded. “He did it to the one of the ghouls and one of the Alphas.”

Stiles shrugged noncommittally. He would be just pleased as punch if his dad didn’t know the details of his previous supernatural altercations. He redirected the focus a little.

“I’ve got a few go-to offensive spells that... I don’t really want to practice on these guys.” Stiles admitted. “I can show you other things though.”

“Agreed.” Erica said emphatically. “I like my bones as they are, thanks.”

“I understand. You have any defensive spells?”

Stiles shrugged again. “Most of my personal defense is already done, but I can set up a few glyphs.”

His dad nodded again, so Stiles hopped down off the hood and pulled out his chalk. He did a quick hold glyph on the hood where he’d been sitting. “Any volunteers?”

“Is it going to hurt?” Isaac inquired, inching toward the glyph.

“Nope. Completely painless.”

Isaac crossed the remaining distance and put his palm to the glyph. He froze, as the glyph had been designed to do, and sighed dramatically when he realized what he’d walked right into.

“This is a hold glyph.” Stiles explained. “He can’t move beyond breathing and talking. Even if someone were to remove his person from the glyph itself,” Boyd and Erica lifted him away from the cruiser, “he remains immobile, they are unaffected, and he can’t move until I let him.”

“A good trap.” The sheriff commented. “But you need prep time.”

Stiles allowed that with a little shrug. “Yeah. Like you said, it’s a trap. I haven’t had to do it spur of the moment. Most glyphs will be like that unless I’ve prepared them in advance with something a little more permanent. Then it’s just a matter of adding a little magic and activating them.”

He let Isaac go as his dad considered this. “Do you have anything that you can do spur of the moment in defense?”

“No.” Stiles admitted. “Well... sort of. Not unless you count offense as defense.”

“What about the gloves?” Scott asked.

“Those are offense.” Stiles said.

Danny shrugged, “I don’t know, Stiles. You could use them defensively too.”

“You used them to deflect the ghoul.” Boyd pointed out, agreeing.

“By hitting him with a huge amount of force; that’s offense.”

“Show me.” His dad cut through the argument.

Stiles pulled out the gloves and slid them on. He showed his dad what they looked like by holding his hands up and waving his fingers. “I made these a few days ago. Like this, they’re just gloves. I can pick stuff up, I can touch other people, etc. without anything happening. When I activate them,” he did so, “this happens.” He turned and held his hand aloft. “High five, Scott.”

Scott happily bounded--no really, he bounded--up and gave Stiles a high five, which sent him flying. He landed, laughing giddily, and came back over. “Again?”

“I think I’ve got the point.” The sheriff shook his head.

“I can vary how strong it is based on how much magic I put into the glyph. That,” he indicated Scott, “was a third of what I used on the ghoul.”

His dad mulled it over and asked, “Can you stop faster things? Projectiles?”

Stiles thought about it. He hadn’t tried anything like that before. The ghoul had been charging him, which was why he’d used so much energy. In order to come out on top in that situation, he needed to overcome the force of the oncoming ghoul. Physics stated that force was equal to mass times acceleration. The ghoul had had a serious advantage with acceleration, so Stiles had needed to counter it with excessive force. That was a charging ghoul, but--while impressive--it was nothing compared to something like an arrow or bullet. To win that physics battle, he’d need... a metric fuck ton of force. And he’d have to be ready for it, because no way was he fast enough to move his hands when he wasn’t ready for it.

“Maybe?” Stiles offered eventually.

“Let’s see.” Jackson chucked a rock at him.

Stiles threw his hands up at the last minute, not really in an attempt to deflect the rock, more as an attempt to protect his face, but the rock hit the gloves and went shooting back toward Jackson. He yelped as the rock hit him in the shoulder, but no one was sympathetic. Derek, Scott, and the sheriff all glared at him pretty darkly.

“Do it again.” Stiles said. Everyone turned to look at him. “This is training, right? He’s an ass, yes, but if I’m going to learn to do it, I have to practice.”

Derek glared at Jackson again, but nodded. “Start with something softer.”

“Such as?” Boyd asked, gesturing at the complete lack of supplies around them.

Scott jogged over to a tree and bent down. When he came back up he had a pinecone in his hand. He tossed it to Isaac and then went back for more. While he was gathering pinecones, Isaac tossed his up and down a few times before throwing it at Stiles. He easily just stepped out of the way, raising his eyebrow incredulously.

“Is this necessary right this moment?” Erica asked.

“You telling me you don’t want to throw things at Stiles?” Isaac countered.

“Don’t get me wrong,” she grinned, “I’m all for it. I just think there are better things we could be doing with our time at the moment.”

“I agree.” His dad sighed.

“This is all I can do, though.” Stiles objected. “I’m at a loss as to what to show you. I can break someone’s spine, I can hit them with the force of a semi, I can tie their muscles in knots, or bind them with nothing. I can also do things that are a lot less survivable, but I don’t want to do them to these guys.”

“For which we are thankful.” Danny muttered.

“You asked for a demonstration, but unless something attacks right now, I don’t know what else to show you.”

Stiles should know better by now. He really should. Saying things like that were invitations for weird things to happen. As it stepped out from between the trees, screeching it’s arrival, he and the Pack had a few moments to be surprised that it snuck up on them.

He had a few really quick theories as to what actually brought it though. One, his stupid bad luck. Two, the Pack's laughter, arguing, and general merriment could have drawn it's attention. Three, his own repetitive use of magic could have drawn it out as well.

Either way, it was here and it was not here to make friends.

The thing was… radiating magic, but at the same time seemed to be drawing magic into itself. It was hideous, greenish skin and hair, black soulless eyes, and scary claw-like nails, and it was apparently out for Stiles--option three it was--, launching itself at him from across the cruiser to tackle him. Derek met the thing in the air, already shifted into his hybrid form, and started scratching and biting.

The thing--he had a few guesses but he wasn't sure yet--simply flicked its wrist and Derek went flying. It pinned him against a nearby tree and held him there, never taking its eyes off Stiles. The Pack joined him a moment later, each either pinned to a tree or the cruiser or held to the ground. It was an impressive display of magic.

Stiles didn't have his kit near him, but he wasn't useless. He released the magic in his gloves so that he could tug a thread loose and then channeled his magic, breaking the thread.

Nothing happened.

Well, that wasn't entirely accurate. The thing cackled, and ate his spell! What the hell?!

Stiles saw his dad draw his gun from his peripheral and almost yelled for him to stop, but… if his magic didn't work, and the Pack was incapacitated, then maybe the sheriff was the one to handle this. Stiles had certainly bedecked enough of his personal effects with glyphs to keep him safe-ish.

The sheriff pulled the trigger and nailed the hag--the eating of his magic gave him a name, don't say Stiles doesn't look for silver lining--on the left side of her chest. It was a good shot, and would have put any human on the ground. The hag was a lot stronger than that though. Instead, she glared at him and jerked her head, sending the gun flying from his grip. By the look on her face, that wasn't the only thing that was supposed to go flying. Stiles quelled the desire to stick his tongue out at her.

While she was distracted, Stiles went in with just his fists and other flailing limbs to try and take her down. It was a fairly desperate move, he wasn't really well trained in hand to hand combat after all, but he had to try something. Predictably, however, he landed one solid punch before the hag backhanded him, sending him skidding in the same direction as the gun.

Which hurt. A lot. In case anyone was curious.

That's when his dad stepped up. He wasn't werewolf fast or strong, and he didn't have magical protection against injury like Stiles did, but that didn't stop him from laying into the hag with a lethal grace. It had been a while since Stiles had seen his dad employ his martial arts training, but it didn't look like he'd lost his touch. The first hit landed on the bullet hole, eliciting a shriek from the hag. When she tried to backhand him, he easily dodged and replied with a quick kick to the side of her knee. The pop that signaled the dislocation of the joint was audible to Stiles several feet away. After that, the sheriff pressed his advantage, getting in a short series of kicks and punches that brought the hag to the ground, struggling, flinging spell after useless spell at him as he laid into her.

The problem with hand to hand combat against something as strong as the hag was that it wasn't going to kill her. Wouldn't even knock her out or break enough of her concentration to release the Pack it seemed. The sheriff started to back away when the hag lay panting on the ground, no longer throwing spells, but as soon as he did, she sprang up and tried to attack him.

Stiles was ready for it though, knowing that she was probably just waiting for her chance, and he brought his dad's gun up to bear, giving her a quick double tap to the back of the head. She dropped.

The Pack was released from the spell that held them and his dad came over to help Stiles to his feet. He also took the service piece back, slipping it into his holster after emptying the chamber and turning the safety back on.

"What… the hell?" Jackson looked between the two Stilinski men liked he'd never seen either one of them before.

"Nice moves Mr. S," Erica smirked.

"How did you… I mean where did you learn to…" Isaac seemed a little lost for words.

"Guys," Stiles rolled his eyes, "he's like, Mortal Kombat levels of fit. How did you think he got elected to be sheriff?"

His dad gave him a look. "A background in procedural and investigative work?"

"Nope. It's because you're a badass."

"Runs in the family." Erica smiled.

"Huh?" Stiles said eloquently.

"Double tap? To the head? What the hell Stiles?" Erica gestured to the dead hag.

"I keep guns in my house; of course I taught my son how to not hurt himself." The sheriff said. "Then once he was old enough and sufficiently practiced at not hurting himself, I taught him how to use one properly."

Erica just looked at him again. “I want to be you when I grow up.”

Stiles snorted, but was distracted from making further comment when Derek wrapped his arms around him and shoved his muzzle in his neck, inhaling deeply. Stiles allowed himself to be inspected for injury with a small smile on his face.

“I’m fine, dude.” He whispered. “Just a few bruises.”

In truth, his jaw was throbbing and it hurt a little to talk or move it in general, but it would heal and nothing was broken, so he qualified that as fine. Derek seemed to disagree however, because he put one of his clawed hands very gently across Stiles’ jaw and began to leech the pain away. It was nice.

His dad seemed to tense however when the massive clawed hand made an appearance on his son’s face, but he was forestalled from comment by Isaac.

“He’s taking the pain away.”

The sheriff turned surprised eyes to Isaac. “How?”

Isaac shrugged. “I don’t know exactly how it works, but it’s something that werewolves can do. It’s easier on animals, dogs and such, but not impossible to do for people. Especially Pack.”

“Derek is better at it than the rest of us.” Erica added.

“He’s a born wolf; he’s had more practice.” Peter patted her on the shoulder encouragingly. It was a little odd for Stiles to see, but he supposed that if anyone was going to be comfortable with Peter, it would be the ones who weren’t around for his Alpha days.

“What the hell was that?” Scott asked, totally ruining Stiles’ moment.

“It was a hag.” Stiles told him after Derek finished taking most of the pain away. “They feed on magic; I’m not surprised it was here.”

“It came after you?” Scott glanced between the hag and his friend warily.

Stiles shrugged. “Might have been here for the ley line originally, but it attacked us because it smelled or sensed my magic, yeah.” Stiles glared at the dead hag in thought. “Leeloo mention that something weird was in the forest; I bet this is what she was talking about.”

Derek huffed his agreement against the back of Stiles’ neck, raising goosebumps and forcing Stiles to suppress a happy shudder. He was trying to cut back on breaking Scott’s brain after last time.

“Your little blonde friend with the penchant for hats? How is she involved?” His dad asked.

“She’s actually an elf.” Stiles told him quickly.

“An elf.”

“Is no one else going to ask how the human didn’t go flying like the rest of us?” Jackson demanded. Mostly everyone ignored him.

“Use your nose, dumbass.” Danny elbowed him in the ribs.

“Elves are real?”

“And assholes, mostly.” Scott added.

“That’s a little biased.”

“He’s actually correct. Elves are notoriously pompous assholes.” Peter supplied.

“I don’t smell anything--”

“Exactly.”

“No comment from the peanut gallery.” Stiles glared at Peter.

“He’s been glyphed.” Erica rolled her eyes at Jackson’s confused face.

“As much as I could, at any rate.” Stiles nodded, finally contributing to that conversation, electing to ignore Peter’s smirking face before he gave in to the urge to punch him.

The sheriff stared at his son for a moment, catching up to the switch in topic, glanced at the items Stiles had borrowed that morning, and smirked. “Good to know it worked.”

“You should go get changed.” Stiles murmured to Derek as the others began talking about the hag in hushed voices. He was still in his hybrid form because he’d be naked when he changed back, having foregone stripping before shifting.

He huffed, but let go and lumbered into the house.

“So.” The sheriff watched him go. “That’s the alpha form you were talking about?”

“One of them.” Stiles nodded.

“Looks impressive.” He frowned.

“Something the matter?”

“Where’s he going?”

“Oh, he’s just getting dressed. Downside to full body shifts is that his clothes don’t shift with him.” Stiles explained calmly. “He usually remembers to bring a spare set in the Camaro.”

“Stiles.” His dad didn’t sound thrilled. “Does he live here?”

Warning bells went off in his head. He was about to deflect and redirect, but before he could, Scott pipped up. Traitor.

“Almost the whole Pack lives here.” Scott shrugged, completely oblivious to the Very Bad No Don’t face that Stiles was shooting him. “You get used to it.”

Stiles facepalmed and waited for the lecture to start.

“Hale.” Stiles peeked out from between his fingers to see Derek walk out of the house having just thrown on a pair of sweats.

“This is still my property, Sheriff.” Derek said calmly.

“I understand that. I’m not going to take it from you, however, it isn’t structurally sound. This isn’t an acceptable place to live, I don’t care if you are a werewolf.” His dad stated.

Stile fretted with whether or not to interrupt and defend Derek, but he was kind of in agreement with his dad as well. The house was in no real state to be lived in. He decided discretion was the better part of valor, however, and remained silent to just watch and listen.

Derek surprised him. “I’m looking into it, Sir. For now, this is what we have.”

Stiles wasn’t a wolf and couldn’t hear a lie, but he was a sheriff’s son and observant in his own right. He considered himself to be fairly good at telling when someone was lying. As far as he could tell, Derek wasn’t. The sheriff also seemed satisfied for the moment.

It was in the moment of silence that followed Derek’s comment that Stiles sensed it. Something... he couldn’t put his finger on it. It wasn’t anything he heard, more something he... felt. A disturbance, or a distress call? He frowned and tried to find where it was coming from.

Derek of course noticed that Stiles had noticed something. “Stiles?”

He held up a hand for a moment. He concentrated as best he could to try and pinpoint the source. When he thought he might have a direction, he moved toward it, stepping over the dead hag and into the forest. He heard the others follow, even heard Derek give orders to the betas to keep alert, but he was focused on the disturbance. The further into the forest he moved, the stronger it got, or the stronger he felt it at least. He was soon running toward it, a sense of urgency pulling him forward. Finally, he located the source.

He stopped and stood completely still and quickly gestured for the others to do the same. Before him was a small, fallen tree. Except it wasn’t a tree. It looked like a tree, at first glance, but the more he looked, the clearer the shape became. A woman; thin and fragile-looking. Her skin was bark, her hair was made of leaves and twigs, and her eyes were small, empty holes in her head. A dryad! They were trees that were imbued or changed or possessed by magic and altered into guardians. Old, peaceful, and shy by nature, dryads rarely made themselves known. He never thought he’d get to see one.

She stared at him, wary and frightened, but also clearly in pain. He moved forward slowly, hands in front of him in the universal sign for unarmed. He knew that something that would attack the dryad wouldn’t need weapon in hand to attack, but he hoped his intent to help translated well enough.

“Fan out.” Derek ordered. “Perimeter around Stiles, make sure nothing attacks.”

The betas moved to circle the area around Stiles and the fallen dryad. Derek and Stiles’ father kept their eyes on the center.

The dryad never took her gaze off Stiles, even as the wolves moved around her. It was difficult to tell just by looking at her since there were no discernible pupils, but he felt her attention on him. He knelt down next to her, hands still out, and began to look her over for obvious injury.

“I’m not going to hurt you.” He whispered soothingly, hoping she could understand him. “My name is Stiles; these are my friends. We’re here to help.”

Her response was not what he expected. She had no mouth that he could see, but she began to make noises similar to the wound of snapping twigs and wind through branches. He guessed it was her language, but it wasn’t one he could understand.

He gave her an apologetic look, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what you’re saying.”

She fidgeted and kept making the noises, but she didn’t move to attack him, so he continued his assessment. He talked to her as he did so. “I know you’re hurt; I... heard you calling out. I’m going to see if I can help, okay?”

He reached out with his magic, figuring he wouldn’t be able to see the damage on a creature that he was unfamiliar with. From what he could tell, she seemed to have been partially eaten. There were no physical marks, but from what he remembered of his research, dryads were beings of almost pure magic. Any attack that could significantly hurt a dryad would have to be magical in turn. He would bet just about anything that the hag had done this. She’d eaten his spell and had apparently been munching on the dryad beforehand.

“The hag did this.” He said, mostly to the Pack, but also to the dryad to let her know that he knew what had happened to her. “It was eating her.”

“I don’t see any injuries.” Isaac mentioned, contemplative.

“It’s a tree, how can you tell?” Jackson scoffed.

Stiles took a moment to glare at Jackson, “She’s a dryad. She’s made of magic. Magic that is now missing and damaged.”

“Should we bring her to Deaton?” Scott asked.

The dryad began to make somewhat distressed noises, though Stiles still couldn’t tell what she was actually saying. He guessed it was a no, however.

“I don’t think she wants that. I might be able to give her some magic... like a blood transfusion. It might help.” Stiles decided.

“Is that safe?” His dad asked.

Stiles shrugged. “I’m not even sure it’ll work.”

He began to channel his magic, but as he did so, the dryad began to make even further distressed noises. He looked to her, sensing the panic in her... tone; she was looking frantically at the trees as if she were looking for something, and she kept trying to talk to him. He realized that she was worried that him using his magic would draw the hag out.

“The hag is dead.” Stiles told her. She quieted suddenly and looked at him once again. “We killed it, it won’t come back, I promise.”

She calmed and Stiles began again. There was no spell for this, no glyph that he could trace to give her some magic, but the blood transfusion metaphor was not far off from the truth. He just wasn’t sure how to begin. He assumed touching would help. He’d bonded himself to Derek through touch and that had sort of been a transfer of magic, so... touch. He looked for the best place to put his hand. Her chest seemed a bit invasive and presumptuous, same with her face. Stomach was slightly better, but a limb might be best.

He noticed then that while she seemed to be made of tree bark, her legs actually looked less... alive than the rest of her. More tree-like. The physical manifestation of the damage he guessed. If she died, she’d just look like a tree on the forest floor.

Finally he settled on her stomach. Her... core for lack of a better term. He gently grasped her wrist and settled her hand on his own stomach, completing the circle. Happily, she didn’t seem to object. Once that was done he began the transference.

He went slowly, but he could definitely feel it working. He started to hear more of the dryad’s language as he continued, and he really wished he could understand what she was saying, but it wasn’t distressed or angry or pained, so he kept going. If anything it was curious.

“Uh... Stiles?” Erica’s voice filtered through his concentration.

Stiles paid a little more attention to the Pack bond and he felt their wariness and curiosity increase. “What’s going on?”

“The trees are surrounding us.” Jackson growled.

My sisters; they have come, the voice was in his head and Stiles nearly jumped in surprise. He looked to the dryad and saw her nod. The magic. I can communicate like this with you now.

Stiles nodded and kept going, he was almost done after all. “Your sisters?”

They heard my distress; they came to help. They fear your wolves; worry for me.

“Can you talk to them?” Stiles asked.

“I don’t speak tree!”

“Shut up, Jackson!”

“The Pack is getting nervous.” Stiles apologized. “I don’t want an incident.”

The twig snapping and wind blowing language picked up again and increased in volume quickly as the dryads began to talk. Stiles finished while they were talking, so he removed his hand and let her hand drop as well. Derek helped him to his feet and Stiles began to look around to see the other dryads.

Do not be afraid; calm your wolves.

“It’s okay, guys. They aren’t going to attack, relax.” Stiles relayed.

The dryads moved closer once the wolves relaxed their stances. The one that Stiles had helped got to her feet--that looked much more like the rest of her now--and led the group over to Stiles. She kept speaking in her language, but the tone had shifted. The others seemed much more curious than nervous now.

“What do we do?” Scott asked.

“Nothing.” Derek spoke calmly so as not to spook the dryads. “Pay attention to the perimeter.”

Stiles. It is you. The brownies spoke of you. There were five dryads in total now, but only the one he helped spoke to him in a way he could understand. The others were speaking quietly in their own language.

Stiles waved, “Hi.”

My sisters and I appreciate your help, but... they want to know why.

“Why what?”

“Can you understand them?” Derek asked him quietly.

Stiles half shrugged. “She’s communicating.” He tapped his head in lieu of an explanation.

Why help?

Stiles frowned. “Why wouldn’t I?”

There was an increase in dryad chatter at that.

We do not understand. You are... human. Bruxa. Your kind do not help freely.

“What’s going on, Stiles?” His dad edged closer, nervous.

“They’re confused.”

“They’re not the only ones.” Erica muttered.

You are Bruxa, you do nothing without price. She insisted.

“I’m starting to think Bruxa is synonymous with asshole.” Stiles grumbled mostly to himself. “I’m not like other Bruxa. I could help, so I did. That’s it.”

There was more incomprehensible conversation for a few seconds.

You will not demand tribute?

“Trib- No!”

Your wolves will not harm us?

“No.”

We... are free to leave?

“Yes. Go about your business.”

The other dryad moved quickly to the trees and disappeared into them. Stiles wondered if that was uncomfortable, but figured not for them since they were made of wood anyway. The first dryad remained, however, so he brought his attention back to her.

My sisters have not met a Bruxa in almost an age. They do not know you. Do not trust you.

“Do you?”

You shared more than you magic when you helped me. You... are within. I know you, Cionnfhaoladh Stilinski.

“Really, uh, Stiles is fine. Please.”

If she had a mouth, Stiles suspected it would be smiling. This forest is my home; we will meet again, Stiles.

With that, she ran to one of the trees and disappeared within.

“So. Tree people.” Isaac broke the silence first.

“Dryads.” Peter corrected. “I didn’t think so many still existed.”

“At least they’re friendlier than the ghouls.” Boyd commented as he and the other betas looked more closely at the tree the dryad had disappeared into.

The sheriff exhaled a long breath and relaxed a little, “Can’t say I was expecting that one. Care to clarify what exactly just happened?”

“I, uh, made a friend? I think?” Stiles rubbed the back of his neck nervously.

Scott chuckled, “What is it with you and magic chicks, dude?”

“You wish you had this kind of game.”

The betas seemed unimpressed.

Chapter Text

The group made their way back to the house and Stiles took the time to try and explain what had gone down. There seemed to be mixed opinions about how friendly the dryads might be in the future, and Derek, Scott, and the sheriff appeared to be less than thrilled that the dryad seemed to get so much from Stiles sharing his magic with her. Admittedly, it made Stiles cautious as well, but he hadn’t picked up and murderous intent off of her, so he’d let it be for the moment. Not that there was anything he could really do about it anyway.

“Makes you wonder though.” Danny looked thoughtfully toward the forest.

“What?” Jackson stared confused in the same general direction, trying to guess what had caught his friend’s attention.

Danny glanced back at Derek, “Just what all lives in the forest.”

Derek stopped and looked at the trees with a frown. Peter did too, though he wore a more contemplative face than his nephew.

Danny continued. “So far we’ve had, what? Elves? Brownies? Now dryads? Sounds like--”

“A whole other world.” Stiles finished. “It is. Elves and brownies and dryads--”

“Oh my.” Erica whispered.

Stiles flashed her a grin before continuing his train of thought, “They’re not people you’re going to meet just walking through the forest--”

“Unless you’re name is Stiles, apparently.” Scott interrupted.

“Let him finish.” Boyd grunted.

“They’re all fae. They live... almost on a different plane. They’re creatures of magic and they don’t exist purely in the physical world like we do. The see it, they can interact with it, but they live beyond it.” Stiles tried to lay it out simply. “And I am 100% unsurprised that there are so many in this forest.”

“It’s an old forest; well preserved. The Hale’s are mostly responsible for that.” The sheriff said, nodding to Derek and Peter.

Peter assented. “There have been Hale’s in Beacon Hills from the town’s creation.”

“That’s part of it.” Stiles shrugged. “But the real reason they’re here, and I suspect the reason the Hale family has been here so long, is because of the ley lines.”

“The ghouls and hag too, right? You said they were here for the ley lines?” Erica asked.

Stiles frowned. “Yes, but... It’s not the same.”

“You mean, why now?” Scott added, insightful. His fascination with Stiles’ magic led him to absorb the information that Stiles gave them all with an astute clarity. Never let it be said that Scott was stupid; he just needed something that caught his interest.

“Exactly.”

There was a small pause before Isaac pipped up. “You have any theories to go with that ominous statement?”

“Not yet.” Stiles grimaced.

Conversation devolved into a few discussions about what else might live in the forest and what else might come by for a visit; Scott and Peter tried to bounce ideas off Stiles as to what might be bringing the unwanted guests beyond just the general assumption that they were after the ley lines; and the sheriff leaned against the cruiser and raised an eyebrow to Derek giving him a cue that he wanted to talk. Stiles was familiar with the look, it did not usually come before good news.

“Stiles, stay; the rest of you run perimeter in pairs, make sure there’s nothing else out there. Peter go with Danny and Jackson.” Derek ordered calmly. The pairs split off and Stiles joined Derek and his dad by the cruiser.

“I’m going to forestall any comment you might have by first saying that I am impressed.” The sheriff started. “However, I have my concerns.”

Derek nodded, “Name them.”

“They need to be able to work together.”

Derek frowned. “They work together all the time.”

“They always pair off the same way. It breeds familiarity, which is good in many respects, but they do it to the detriment of working with anyone else. When you match them up outside of their normal pairs, they move less confidently, they struggle, and they don’t trust.”

Derek seemed to ponder the assessment for a few moments. Stiles did too. It was exactly what he suspected that his dad had noticed earlier while they were sparring. He gave it some more thought and decided that there was an obvious reason for it.

“They pair off with who they’re most comfortable with.” Stiles assessed. “Scott and Isaac work together at the clinic and have been hanging out more and more since school let out. Erica and Boyd went through everything with the Alphas together. Jackson and Danny were attached at the hip before they grew fangs. You and Peter are family. It makes sense.”

“And there’s nothing wrong with having a prefered person to work with. There’s a reason cops work with partners, but--”

“This is a Pack.” Derek finished. “They need to be able to work as one.”

“It’s more than just being able to work together though,” the sheriff shook his head.

Stiles caught on to where his dad’s train of thought was going. “He’s right. We worked together whenever there was a threat to the town, even before we were all Pack. Now that we are one, though, we aren’t really doing anything we didn’t do before.”

“Less yelling.” Derek pointed out.

Stiles conceded that point with a nod, but continued, “We should do Pack bonding nights, beyond training sessions. Get everyone comfortable just... being around each other when there isn’t a crisis.”

“When isn’t there a crisis?” Derek mumbled but nodded his consent. “Anything else, Sheriff?”

“Erica Reyes and Vernon Boyd have families. Concerned families that are wondering what happened to their runaway children.” The sheriff stated. “I can’t just ignore that.”

Derek sighed heavily. “They went through a lot being held by the Alpha Pack.” He admitted. “Erica has nightmares; she woke up screaming the first night she tried sleeping on her own. Boyd heard, lost control of his wolf, and ran to her. Nearly tore Peter’s head off when he got in the way. They both sleep better when they’re together.“

This was news to Stiles. He glared at Derek for withholding the information that his betas were hurting. Admittedly, Stiles felt ashamed of himself as well for not feeling it along the bond, but if it only happened at night, then there was a chance he didn’t feel it because while he slept. Didn’t really make him feel better though.

His dad rubbed his head, frustrated. “You’re worried about a repeat performance.”

“It’s only been a little over a week.” Derek stated. “If it happens while they're with their families, it could be dangerous.”

“He’s right.” Stiles agreed. “Not only would it put whoever got in their way in danger, but the whole Pack would risk exposure.”

“I respect their need to heal, boys.” The sheriff scolded. “This can’t be permanent, though. Their families deserve to know they’re alive. It’s bad enough that the Whittemore’s can’t know that Jackson’s alive; you can’t have a Pack of fugitives.”

Derek sighed again. He was frustrated, Stiles could tell, but he was also worried. His betas were--for the most part--all teens. There had been strategic reasons--Stiles didn’t know what they are, but he was convinced they exist--for filling his Pack with teenagers, but it also created obvious problems. Right now, Derek’s need as an Alpha to care for and keep his Pack safe was butting heads with the pesky problem that his betas had families that were out of the loop.

“I might be able to work up a charm or something that can help them sleep,” Stiles offered somber, “but it would be better to keep them with the Pack until they heal.”

“How long?” He asked.

“If we can stall until after the next full moon, I think we should be safe.” Derek settled.

“When’s the moon?”

“Three weeks. Erica, Boyd, and Stiles were all... recovering after the rescue during the last one. This will be the first full moon were all together as a Pack.” Derek explained, pleading subtly for the sheriff to understand the importance of that.

Stiles winced. “That must have sucked. I’m sorry I missed it.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Derek murmured. “You were unconscious.”

“Fine.” The sheriff sounded anything but happy about it, but he had to have seen the logic behind it. “School will have started by then, right?”

“Full moon is three days into the semester.” Stiles confirmed.

“With luck they won’t miss more than the first week.” His dad guessed. “Between now and then, I want to have a serious conversation with them and you, Hale. We need a logical story for where they’ve been.”

Derek nodded.”Anything else?”

“Keep me updated when we have visitors. Beyond that, I have nothing else at the moment.” The sheriff shook Derek’s hand and then pulled his keys out, unlocking the cruiser. “You coming, Stiles?”

“Give me a sec.”

His dad got in the cruiser as Stiles and Derek walked a little closer to the house. “This went well.”

Derek frowned and ran his thumb along the, no doubt, lovely bruise that was blossoming across his cheek. “I think it could have gone better.”

“If I walk away from a magic eating bad guy with just a bruise, I’m going to call that a resounding win.” Stiles grinned.

The grumbling that he received was a good hint that Derek disagreed. “You realize that this is going to look suspicious.”

“Remember who you’re talking to. I’m the best bullshitter this city has ever seen.”

“You were hit. It looks like you were hit. No one will believe you if you say you feel down.” Derek insisted.

Stiles shrugged. “I’m also the most accident prone person this city has ever seen. I don’t think anyone will ask too many questions if I say it was a lacrosse accident or something.”

Derek sighed, resigned. “Just... Be careful. The last thing you need is someone looking too closely into your life.”

“If it’ll make you feel better, I could just hide in the house for a few days until it’s healed.” Stiles suggested.

Derek heard the joke in his tone, but he took the suggestion seriously. “It might.”

“Aw, come on!”

“I could give you incentive.”

Stiles looked at him suspiciously, “Oh?”

“If you stay inside, and away from prying eyes, I’ll take you somewhere nice once you’re healed.” Derek offered.

Stiles perked up. “You mean... like a date?”

“A date.” He confirmed.

“You drive a hard bargain, but you have a deal.” Stiles agreed.

Derek squeezed the back of his neck gently and gestured for him to go with his dad. Stiles sighed but did as instructed and got in the cruiser while Derek made his way to the house. Stiles and his dad pulled away from the house and off the preserve, headed back home. Stiles told him that he intended to stay inside until the bruise healed and was glad that his dad didn’t protest. He was actually in favor of the idea.

When they got home, Stiles went upstairs and rested. He was more than a little drained from all the magic use and he wanted a nap. He was interrupted, however, because the universe liked yanking his chain.

FROM: Leeloo
4:24pm

Did you kill a hag today?

TO: Leeloo
4:24pm

Word gets around fast it seems

FROM: Leeloo
4:25pm

How... It eats magic! How did you kill it?

TO: Leeloo
4:25pm

Nothing magical about bullets, and I thought you didn’t know what was in the forest?

FROM: Leeloo
4:27pm

You shot it?! And that worked? And a dead hag is a lot safer to identify than a live one.

TO: Leeloo
4:28pm

It wasn’t quite that simple. Dad helped.

FROM: Leeloo
4:30pm

You’re dad. The human. Helped you take down a hag.

TO: Leeloo
4:30pm

He’s tougher than he looks. And I glyphed some of his stuff.

FROM: Leeloo
4:31pm

You never cease to amaze, Stiles. The elders are taking notice.

TO: Leeloo
4:31pm

Should you be telling me that? Aren’t there rules...?

FROM: Leeloo
4:33pm

I delete all texts we share. I know there are rules, and I can’t tell you everything, but you’re not the threat they imagine you are. I don’t want to see you or

FROM: Leeloo
4:33pm

your Pack hurt because of stupid prejudice.

TO: Leeloo
4:34pm

You’re a rebel. I like that.

FROM: Leeloo
4:34pm

Oh, Stiles... Flirt with a lady and she’s going to get Ideas.

TO: Leeloo
4:35pm

I’m flattered, but I’m spoken for. We’re going on our first date in a few days actually. :)

FROM: Leeloo
4:36pm

Your first? Really? Haven’t you been sleeping together for a week or so?

TO: Leeloo
4:36pm

Sadly no. I’m still wearing my purity ring, so to speak. We keep getting interrupted.

FROM: Leeloo
4:37pm

Awkward. But probably for the best.

TO: Leeloo
4:37pm

You’re probably right :/

FROM: Leeloo
4:38pm

Poor thing. I know it must be... hard, but it’ll be worth it ;)

TO: Leeloo
4:38pm

Dick jokes? From an elf? I’m shocked. And amazed.

FROM: Leeloo
4:40pm

I get my amusement where I can these days. You just happen to be my favorite source. :)

TO: Leeloo
4:40pm

:P

TO: Leeloo
4:40pm

I don’t suppose you’ve heard anything else on the grapevine?

FROM: Leeloo
4:41pm

Only that the Dryad Assembly made its first appearance in nearly a century. Wonder why that happened.

TO: Leeloo
4:41pm

How was I supposed to know she was someone important?! I was just helping someone who needed the help. Paying it forward, all that jazz.

FROM: Leeloo
4:42pm

Whatever your reason, you’ve become Known. Your name is traveling.

TO: Leeloo
4:42pm

Awesome. This doesn’t sound like it’ll bite me in the ass later.

FROM: Leeloo
4:43pm

It might. Be more careful with who you give it to. You’re protected with your wards and because it isn’t your real name, but there are still those who will use

FROM: Leeloo
4:43pm

it against you.

TO: Leeloo
4:44pm

Don’t worry. I’m not about to give it to your elders or another magic user. I have some self-preservation.

FROM: Leeloo
4:45pm

Good to know.

She let him take a nap after that. Sort of. More like he fell asleep and she didn’t call him worried that he’d randomly died. When he woke up a few hours later, he felt better, if still a little groggy. He decided a shower would help to clear that up. He slipped into the bathroom across the hall and got his first good look at the bruise.

Derek was right. It looked like someone had taken offense to his face. He supposed he should count himself lucky, still. It was a startling shade of purple, but he felt pretty confident that if he hadn’t been warded, his jaw would have been broken. Or dislocated. Something significantly less bearable than a pretty bruise. He poked at it, because it was a bruise and that’s what one does with a bruise, and flinched at the pain. He didn’t know how long it would take to heal, but he decided that limiting his facial movements would be less painful for the time being.

His shower was brief, and he got dressed in pajamas when he got back to his room. If he was going to be confined to his house for the next few days, he was going all in and spending them in total comfort. He grabbed his laptop and brought it over to the bed so that his researching could be done on the soft mattress rather than the desk chair. Stiles was determined to figure out what the hell was going on in his town, and he would spend these days researching until he found his damn answers.

He didn’t know why ghouls and hags were coming to Beacon Hills. They were after the ley lines, yes, fine, but that didn’t explain why they were here now. Beacon Hills had been around for a long time and the ley lines were around for longer, but it was peaceful town. There weren’t massive, mysterious deaths, or a large number of missing persons cases, or anything that would indicate high levels of supernatural activity.

He suspected that that might be due in large part to the Hale clan living in Beacon Hills for so long. It made sense that a werewolf Pack would keep its territory clear of invaders and threats. Following that logic, it made relative sense for there to be an increase in activity with most of the family gone. That was certainly the running theory for why the witches and such had made their presence felt at the beginning of summer, and it was a fairly reasonable explanation for why the hag had shown up. But this felt different. An absence of Hales wouldn’t explain why four ghouls had found their way, of their own volition, to the town.

Since that was his only current anomaly, he focused on that. If he could find out possible motivation for what brought the ghouls to Beacon HIlls, then he might be able to predict what else would show up before it came knocking.

Speaking of knocking.

Stiles smiled when he heard the tap, tap, tap on his window just before it slid open. Derek slipped in and closed it behind him before toeing off his shoes, slipping out of his jacket, and joining Stiles on the bed. Stiles scooched over so that they could share the middle, and Derek slotted himself next to Stiles before picking up the book on the nightstand and reading.

“Hello to you too.” Stiles huffed, smiling.

“Sh. I’m reading.” Derek silenced him.

Stiles laughed quietly. “I see how it is; you’re only using me for my books.”

Instead of saying anything, Derek did some complicated werewolf ninja move, and Stiles was suddenly resting between his legs, back up against his chest while he read, book tickling Stiles’ ear. Stiles relaxed a little into the warmth of Derek’s body and continued his research while Derek read.

Hours ticked by. Stiles had pretty much exhausted his sites that have information on ghouls, and all he found was general information. Nothing that would suggest why so many would be in one place, or why that place would be Beacon Hills. He maked a frustrated sound and dropped his head onto Derek’s shoulder.

“Problems?”

Stiles groaned. “Yes. I can’t find anything.”

“You’ve read dozens of sites.”

“And none of them tell me what I want to know. Just... general descriptions. How ghouls are undead juggernauts that like chaos and dead people, and that they’re hard to kill, but that they don’t like silver, and that there aren’t that many. Just shit we know already.” Stiles gestured accusingly to the computer screen as if it had failed him.

Which it had.

Derek reached over and closed his laptop, picked it up, and then set it down on the nightstand along with his book. Then he wrapped his arms around Stiles and nuzzled into his neck.

“Take a break.”

Stiles hummed pleased. “You had something in mind?”

“It’s after midnight. Sleep.”

Stiles pouted. “Tease.”

“You’re tired.” Derek insisted quietly.

“Am not.” Stiles yawned. Stiles felt the small smile pressed against his neck that spoke of Derek’s amusement. “Don’t be smug. No one likes a smugwolf.”

Stiles’ jaw twinged. Yawning was a little much for his bruised self. He tried to hide the wince, but Derek was too observant. He lifted one of his hands to touch the bruise as he brought Stiles further back into himself so that he was laying comfortably against him. He took his pain away as the thumb of his other hand brushed the skin between his shirt and his pajamas, just grazing the top of the triskele tattoo.

Between the stroking, the easing pain, and the warmth of the werewolf behind him, Stiles was barely keeping his eyes open. “Maybe a few hours...”

Derek rumbled in agreement and Stiles drifted off to dreamland.

When he woke up the next morning, Derek was gone. Stiles huffed his disappointment, and shuffled off to the shower. He took his time examining the bruise and was surprised to find that it was almost healed. It had reached that lovely yellow color. At this rate, Stiles guessed it would be gone by tomorrow morning at the latest.

Stiles grabbed his phone and snapped a picture to send to Derek.

TO: sourwolf
9:56am

[pic attached] 
So where are we going tomorrow?

Stiles set his phone down and hopped in the shower. He heard his text tone and the phone buzz against the counter while he was scrubbing. He smirked to himself and finished quickly. He grabbed the towel, wrapping it around himself as he lept over to his phone.

FROM: sourwolf
9:59am

It’s a surprise.

Stiles huffed amusement and threw on pajama bottoms before settling down with his laptop. Since researching the ghouls had been mostly a bust, Stiles decided that he’d spend today working on the bestiary in general. He still had a lot of creatures to go through from the list that Leeloo and Derek had given him and he wanted to get at least basic information on as much as he could so that identifying them wouldn’t take long.

He focused on those that he’d granted a Dangerous rating to because that seemed ever slightly more pertinent than the Friendly and Non Hostile categories. There were, honestly, more than he was comfortable with, but such was how thing happened in the life of Stiles Stilinski. He made notes, he double and triple checked what he found, he even added tactical ideas for the Pack. Stiles didn’t think that if they ran across something suddenly that there would be time for him to pull up the bestiary, but writing it down and thinking about it now would help him to remember it in the future so that he could give instruction quickly should the situation call for it.

Several hours later, his dad called him down to eat. Reluctantly, Stiles pulled himself away from his computer and made his way downstairs. He plopped himself into a chair and began to pile food onto his plate.

“That looks better already.” His dad commented as he took his own seat at the table.

Stiles nodded. “Faster healing has its perks.”

“You said your wards are doing that?”

“Yep. It was hard to estimate how much faster I’d heal while I was making them, but given this,” he gestured to his jaw, “I’d guess it’s actually a bit faster than I originally thought. Still not werewolf fast, but... I’ll take it.”

“No kidding.”

“Actually, speaking of... Derek mentioned taking me out somewhere when I recovered. I was thinking tomorrow night?” Stiles asked hopefully.

His dad raised an eyebrow at him, “Your first date, huh?”

“Dad, don’t do that thing.”

“What thing?”

“That overprotective father thing--”

“Overprotective?”

“with the gun cleaning and the thinly veiled threats and ultimatums.”

“Stiles, you’re dating a werewolf. I don’t think there’s such a thing as overprotective.” His dad smirked.

Stiles sighed the sigh of the heavily put upon and stabbed at his food.

“I’m not going to threaten him. Relax, kiddo.”

They finished dinner in an easy silence, and Stiles did the dishes before going back up to his room to continue researching. He only managed a few more hours of it though before his dad tapped on his door telling him to go to sleep. Stiles slumped a little in his chair, but eventually complied. His eyes were getting tired from staring at the screen for so long.

He shot Derek a text before climbing under the covers.

TO: sourwolf
12:15am

All healed. What’s the plan for tomorrow?

FROM: sourwolf
12:17am

I’ll pick you up at 7pm

He sent a quick affirmative before turning off his light and going to sleep.

Stiles was up fairly early the next day. He jumped straight into his bestiary, determined to finish the Dangerous list before Derek arrived for their date.

Lydia threw a wrench in his plans around noon.

“What are you doing?”

Stiles didn’t jump. He totally didn’t. He... twitched. With his whole body. Didn’t matter. Lydia was leaning against his doorway, judging look firmly in place.

“Working on the bestiary.” He answered, ignoring the question of why she was there since she would no doubt tell him momentarily.

“Why aren’t you getting ready?”

He glanced at her, glanced at the clock on his computer, back to her. “It’s noon.”

She narrowed her eyes at him. “You say that like it’s a valid argument for still being in your sleep clothes.”

“My date isn’t until seven; I have time.”

“Were you planning on being in your pajamas all day then?”

Stiles shrugged. “Not going anywhere.”

“Wrong. I am craving human company, and since you’re human, and since we should establish before school starts that I find you acceptable to be in my company, we are going shopping.” She made her way into his room while talking.

“Uh...”

“Do you own anything other than plaid?” She sniffed disdainfully at his closet.

“There’s nothing wrong with plaid.”

“I’m going to pretend that you didn’t just say that.” She started shoving hangers aside looking at his clothes. “Listen up Stilinski; the student body is not going to just accept that I’ve deemed you worthwhile unless you look the part. I have a reputation, one entirely balanced upon association. If I’m going to maintain this reputation I need to whip you into shape.”

“But...”

“However, there is a line that we’ll be walking. Very carefully. It cannot be thought that you’re Jackson’s replacement. You know and I know that your infatuation is gone, but to the rest of our peers, it will look like you’ve taken his place. That, no matter how much you may look the part, would cause irreparable damage. No offense.”

“None taken.”

“So. Here’s what’s going to happen: you are going to be seen with Derek. Publicly. I’m aware that you two have your first date tonight, but from what I’ve gathered, you’re not going anywhere that you could be seen. Which is fine. I’m not going to spoil your first date by demanding you go somewhere else. However. For this to work, you will have to be seen with him a few times before school starts.”

“You’re turning me into your gay best friend, aren’t you.”

“Good to see you’ve caught up with the class.” She sighed dramatically and put her hands on her hips. “There is nothing in here.”

Stiles glanced at his full closet briefly before rounding on Lydia. “You realize that not everyone in town is going to be okay with me and Derek dating, right? I’m technically underage, and he’s five and half years older than me. We could get in trouble--”

“You’ve already been seen in town together with your dad. That implies a certain level of approval, or at least consent, from the sheriff. It should be enough to get people off your back so long as the two of you don’t get caught having public sex.” She gave him the stink eye.

“We were on private property and Erica interrupted us.” Stiles pointed out.

“Yes. Well. Try to keep it indoors if not in your pants.” Finally she pulled the duffle that lived on the floor of his closet out and yanked out a grey Henley. She tossed it to him. “Wash it, wash yourself, wear it, and hurry up. We have a lot of work to do.”

Stiles set it on his bed. “It’s actually clean. It’s Derek’s. That’s the bag he kept here while he was staying over.”

“Even better.” She sat primly on his bed. “Go on.”

He sighed, but moved to the bathroom to take a shower. He took a super quick shower, dried off, and got dressed as fast as he could. It was unwise to keep Lydia Martin waiting. Pulling the Henley over his head, it was a little big on him--to absolutely no one’s surprise--but it wasn’t as bad as he imagined it would be, and it still had the lingering scent of Derek, so bonus.

When he got back to his room, Lydia nodded once in approval and then they were off.

Shopping with Lydia was as close to traumatic as Stiles got without supernatural elements involved. She dragged him from store to store and made him try on countless outfits, rejecting or accepting them on seemingly random merits. Stiles wasn’t sure his sanity could survive the experience let alone his wallet, but thankfully Lydia seemed inclined to pay for it all. When asked, she told him to think of it as a birthday gift and to not look a gift horse in the mouth.

Reminded of birthday gifts, Stiles recalled that he hadn’t given the warded choker to Lydia yet because she hadn’t been there at the demonstration. He pulled it out of his kit--he never went anywhere without it--and gave it to her while they were breaking for lunch.

“Here.”

She took it gingerly and inspected it. “Not a bad choice. Why are you giving me this?”

“Instead of a Sharpie, all you have to do is put that on. It should also give you a limited protection against hostile magic, and an energy boost when you need it.” Stiles explained quietly.

Her small smile was thanks enough. She put it on and then pulled him to his feet so they could continue shopping.

When they were done, she left him in his room with a mountain of bags and ten minutes to get ready before Derek showed up. He sighed and eyed the mountain with suspicion. He didn’t feel like digging through it and putting everything away, and Lydia hadn’t demanded he wear something specific tonight--like she had for the first day of school--so he felt reasonably sure he was okay with not choosing something new for tonight.

He actually decided to just relax on the couch downstairs so he didn’t even have to look at it. Problem solving: Stiles Stilinski style.

When 7pm rolled around, Stiles concentrated on the link to gauge where Derek was. Upon discovering he was pulling up in front of the house, Stiles grinned and shouted a “bye” to his dad before jumping out the door. Derek had parked and was leaning against the passenger side of the Camaro as Stiles walked over.

“Hey.”

Derek gave him an amused eyebrow lift, probably sensing his nervous energy. “Ready?”

“You going to tell me where we’re going yet?”

He just opened the passenger door for him and nodded for him to get in. Stiles obeyed, but he gave Derek a look for treating him like a girl. The door was closed on said look, and Derek walked casually around to the other side, opening his own door, climbing in, and starting the car.

“Is that mine?” Derek asked rather redundantly. He could probably smell that the shirt was his even if he didn’t recognize it as such from sight alone.

“Lydia forbade me from wearing plaid.” Stiles answered.

Derek nodded. “And you let her?”

Stiles shrugged. “Better to just go with it when she’s on a mission. Besides, it’s comfy.”

He didn’t miss the small, please smirk that crossed Derek’s features briefly, nor the contentment that came to him via the bond.

“Have you talked to the Pack about what Dad suggested?” Stiles guessed from Derek’s continued avoidance that where they were going was still a secret.

“In a general sense.” Derek admitted. “They’re willing to give... bonding a shot.”

Stiles looked at him inquisitively. “Is it a weird idea to you?”

Derek frowned. “It... wasn’t necessary. Before. My family had already... bonded. It hadn’t occurred to me that we were missing that.”

“Didn’t occur to me either until Dad pointed it out.” Stiles assured him. “We know how to fix it though, so... Oh! I wanted to run an idea by you for our first Pack bonding night: Firefly.”

Derek glanced at him. “This is a reference to something.”

“Poor uneducated soul.” Stiles shook his head. “Trust me, it’ll be good.”

“When?”

“And where. No offense, but your house doesn’t have a TV.”

“I’ll take care of that. Do you know Scott’s schedule?”

Stiles thought for a moment. “He should have an evening free tomorrow.”

“Isaac’s working until 6 tomorrow.”

“Hmm... if we start at 6:30, we’d finish... ick, around 5am, not including the movie.”

“This is a series I take it? We could break it up.” Derek suggested as if it were the obvious thing to do.

Stiles frowned. “Or we could wait until they have a day off.”

Derek rolled his eyes. “You really want to feed eight werewolves twice in one day?”

“If we go for three episodes a night, that’ll take five days, with the fifth day playing two episodes and the movie. How’s that sound?”

“Should hold us over until school starts at least.”

The rest of the drive went by in comfortable silence. It wasn’t long before the Camaro pulled to a stop in a lot for visitors to the Preserve. Stiles climbed out of the car and looked to Derek. He seemed nervous, if Stiles had to guess.

“It’s a little bit of a walk.”

“Lead the way.”

Stiles followed Derek into the woods. It wasn’t long before he took them off the beaten path and into the forest proper. Stiles trusted that Derek knew where he was going, however, so he didn’t worry about getting lost. He focused instead on enjoying the forest. It was right around sunset, so the light gave the trees a burning vibrancy that was really quite nice. Stiles wasn’t intimate with the forest because he usually couldn’t trust himself not to get hopelessly lost or injured, but he did like it. He always had.

Thinking on it now, he supposed his affinity for nature came from his Pict bloodline.

When he noticed that they were headed in an uphill direction, Stiles asked, “Where are we going?”

“I want to show you something.” Derek continued to be vague.

He seemed to sense that the silence was weighing on Stiles a little, so he started talking. Quietly, but without hesitation. Stiles liked it when Derek talked. He didn’t do it in front of the Pack or strangers, not in the same way that he talked with Stiles. Like he didn’t have to worry about what he said being used against him.

“I had a fairly large family, even when my cousins, aunts and uncles weren’t visiting. The house was always loud.”

“I remember.” Stiles smiled. He had enjoyed going to the Hale house with his mom because it was so full of life and people.

Derek smirked over to him. “The twins thought you had too much energy to be just human. Laura would laugh and ask them what they thought you might be instead. They never did settle on something.”

“Good instincts.” Stiles nodded sagely.

“Werewolves.”

“So you did remember me.” Stiles prompted.

Derek glanced at him again. “I remember. You were a reminder of them, of before the fire. I... handled it badly.”

“Don’t sweat it.” Stiles told him seriously, squeezing his shoulder lightly.

“My point,” Derek continued, “is that sometimes it got too loud and there is... no privacy in a house full of werewolves. I would go running to have time to myself, and eventually I found this place.”

He led the way out of the treeline to reveal a little spot on top of a cliff clear of trees overlooking the town. The sun was big and orange against the horizon as it set, casting a glow over the land. It was stunning and Stiles wished he had the ability to capture it in something other than memory.

So distracted by the view, Stiles didn’t even notice the picnic setup until Derek sat down on the blanket. Drawn from his rapture, Stiles joined him on the blanket as Derek pulled food out of the cooler.

“This is amazing.” Stiles said seriously.

Derek smiled. Genuine and large, Derek smiled and it lit up his face, making him seem years younger and much more relaxed. It was kind of absurdly romantic. A grand scene that seemed like it belonged in a Hollywood movie or epic book, not something that would happen to Stiles.

“Fair warning,” Stiles started, grinning, “I’m going to kiss you now.”

Derek smirked, but he didn’t resist as Stiles leaned over the food to kiss him. He even pulled him closer with a hand on the back of his neck. The kiss ended before it got too heavy, but that was okay, Stiles decided. There would be time for more kissing later. After food. Because food, and he was hungry especially after the hike up.

The two of them ate dinner as the sun sank below the horizon.

Chapter Text

The waning moon was still fairly bright, so Stiles didn’t stress about not being able to see in the dark. Plus he had a werewolf to guide him when they headed back just in case. As they packed up the picnic, Stiles took every opportunity to bump or brush casually against Derek until he dropped the blanket and reeled Stiles in close. He kissed lightly at Stiles’ jawline slowly, trapping Stiles’ arms so he couldn’t move him where he wanted him. It was intense for all that not a lot was going on, but Stiles loved it. He was starting to breathe heavily by time Derek finally claimed his mouth. This kiss was much more heated than the last. When the kiss broke, Derek nipped lightly at his neck before letting him go so they could resume packing.

A sudden lurch in Stiles’ equilibrium like an earthquake had him drop to his hands and knees, half pitching over the edge of the cliff. He held on fiercely to the ground has he tried to pull himself back up the cliff face before a strong grip hauled him up and back onto his feet. Derek crushed him to his chest, breathing heavily, heart racing.

“What the hell, Stiles--”

“Did you feel that?” Stiles demanded, adrenaline running high.

Derek shook his head, “Feel what?”

“I sense a disturbance in the Force.”

“You nearly died, and you’re joking--”

“It’s the best description I can come up with!” Stiles defended.

Stiles couldn’t feel it anymore. Whatever it was, it was over, but he couldn’t help but feel that something really bad had just happened. He stood firmly on his own two feet and nodded that he was good, so Derek released him, albeit reluctantly. He thought quickly. If he felt it and Derek didn’t then... was it the ley line? What would have caused it to shift like that?

“Something happened.” Stiles insisted. “I should--”

A bestial screech assaulted their ears and Derek was wolfed out before its echoes had fully dissipated. Movement in the trees ahead followed the sound of fighting, and whatever it was, it was moving towards them. Quickly.

“What are the odds that it’s actually just a really loud, fluffy bunny rabbit that likes scaring people?” Stiles asked as he put his gloves on.

Derek just gave him a Look.

“Never hurts to be optimistic.”

On the tail end of his protest, two warriors wearing armor and wielding weapons came crashing through the trees closely followed by eight half grotesque human, half bird creatures. Harpies. The warriors looked outmatched and fast approaching overwhelmed. Stiles decided that since he knew harpies were bad--he’d put them under Dangerous in his bestiary--he’d take his chances that the warriors were at least Non Hostile and help them out.

Stiles dug through his kit as Derek launched himself at a harpy, taking her clean out of the sky. He grabbed the feathers--common flicker feathers--that he’d gathered and began channeling his magic. A harpy’s greatest advantage was that it could fly. Their claws were on their feet, so if they couldn’t fly, any future attacks would be limited and awkward. He broke a feather and the corresponding harpy fell, wing broken.

The male warrior was quick to slay it once it was on the ground, and Stiles moved on to the next feather. He only had three--two now--but he promised himself to keep a few more in his bag in case of more winged beasts. He broke the wings of two that were harassing the female warrior, and she felled one before the other tripped her up. As she landed on her back, the third harpy that was attacking dove in. It was knocked aside as Derek tackled it out of its dive, the one he’d already taken down dead behind him.

Stiles didn’t have time cheer because a harpy had zeroed in on him. He channeled his magic into his gloves with as much strength as he’d given the ghoul and braced himself. Stiles threw his hands up and sent the harpy skittering into the dirt. They must have been heavier than they looked, because it didn’t go nearly as far as he thought it would have. It was flying again quickly enough, circling him more cautious this time. He tried to keep his eye on it without letting his guard down to other attacks.

It became increasingly difficult as a second harpy joined the first in her circling. Soon, though, Stiles felt another body move next to his. It wasn’t Derek though, it was too slight of frame.

“I admit, I had not thought to find assistance in these woods.” The male warrior said as he and Stiles moved back to back to keep eyes on the harpies circling them.

Stiles shrugged. “I didn’t think I’d find harpies in the forest, so...”

“They were not at first.” He informed Stiles taking a swipe at a harpy that got too close.

“Hey, you got their blood on that thing?” Stiles asked quickly.

“Yes. Do you require some?”

Stiles made gimme hands, quickly releasing the magic in his glove so that he wouldn’t send anything flying. “A little would be helpful.”

A cloth was set in his palm and Stiles brought it forward. There was plenty of blood on it for his purposes. He channeled his magic again and began chanting. He wasn’t overly practiced with chanting magic, but he knew a few off the top of his head.

“Sanguinem alligo, sanguinem praecipio.” He kept his order: Land in his head as he cast the spell.

The harpy that he’d sent flying earlier stumbled in flight, like she was fighting his spell, but eventually she landed and remained still. Derek came up behind her while she was enthralled and ripped her throat out before leaping over her to engage another harpy that was coming for Stiles. As he clawed at the harpy, another came up from behind and raked her claws deeply down his back. Derek dropped to his knees, and Stiles could feel the pain that he was in via the bond and he reacted.

With an angry shout, Stiles grabbed at air and pulled. The harpy that had attacked Derek went with his movement as if she were attached to a rope. He flung the harpy as hard as he could into a tree, impaling her through her chest on a branch. The one that Derek had been attacking was moving in on him while he was vulnerable, but Stiles grabbed her too and slammed her into the ground with enough force to leave a crater, leaving her broken.

The last harpy died on the female warrior’s blade, but Stiles didn’t care. He was already at Derek’s side checking his injuries.

“It’s not bad.” Derek assured him through clenched teeth. “It’ll heal.”

“I think your jacket may be a loss.” Stiles sagged with relief.

“Are you hurt?”

“Not a scratch.”

“Good.” Derek grunted and got to his feet.

Behind them, Stiles heard movement. He turned to face the warriors, consoled that Derek moved with him without needing assistance. Now that he had the time to look at them, he noticed that they cut an impressive portrait. Their armor gleamed in the moonlight. Hers was more highly decorated, but both were well adorned in stylings. He carried a sword while she sported twin axes; they were serviceable and dangerous judging by the blood on them. They removed their helmets and Stiles saw that they were elves. Young, probably Leeloo’s age, though it was hard to tell with elves. One of them was actually vaguely familiar... Well. Stiles had only ever met two elves in his life and since these weren’t Leeloo, that left only one alternative.

“Avorndir.” Stiles was a little surprised to see him.

He extended his arm and Stiles took it in a warrior’s grasp. “I was not sure you would remember me.”

“You know him?” Derek asked.

Stiles nodded. “He dueled Scott a few months ago; I acted as his second.”

“And won.” Avorndir acknowledged. “Though, I’ll call your methods a little unorthodox.”

Stiles grinned, pleased with himself.

“You are Bruxa.” The female warrior spoke up, and she did not sound overly pleased.

“And happy I am for it, Hatholdes.” Avorndir scolded gently. “Had we not run into them, we would likely be dead.”

She gave Avorndir a slightly disapproving look but nodded and offered her hand to Derek. He gave her the warrior’s greeting that Stiles had given Avorndir. She seemingly did not mind the blood that he left on her vambraces.

“It is an honor to meet a warrior of your caliber. I did not believe them to exist in this world.” She told him with a smile. “I am Hatholdes ferch Arahaelon, and this is Avorndir ap Callon. We are warriors of the Beacon Forest.”

Stiles felt the challenge in her words. She was testing them, testing him more precisely. He could read it in her tone and on Avorndir’s face. He was really glad Leeloo never made him go through this.

“This is Derek ap Talia, Alpha of the Hale Pack, and I’m Stiles ap Eryk, Bruxa of Beacon Hills and member of the Hale Pack.” Stiles told her formally. His extensive research on elves after meeting Leeloo would not go to waste it seemed.

She smirked. “Isn’t it polite to introduce yourself first?”

“I recognized his rank as Alpha by introducing him to you first, just as you recognized your own superior rank to Avorndir by introducing yourself first.” Stiles wasn’t fooled.

Avorndir laughed as Hatholdes looked slightly put out and clapped Stiles on the shoulder. “Well done! And well met, Derek.”

Derek nodded to him.

“What brings you to our neck of the woods?” Stiles asked.

“We don’t know how the shift of worlds happened; it certainly wasn’t by choice.” Hatholdes answered curtly.

“Are you cut off, or can you cross back over?” Stiles frowned. He suspected the shift he felt in the ley line was the cause of their passage, but he had no idea if was permanent.

Avorndir shook his head cheerfully. “We are not barred passage. We simply did not have time while dealing with the harpies.”

“We should return.” Hatholdes advised. She turned to Stiles and sighed. “We thank you for your assistance Bruxa.”

“No problem. Happy to help.” Stiles offered honestly.

“You will forgive me if I do not take you at your word, Bruxa.”

Stiles frowned a little. “I’m not one of your cautionary tales, Hatholdes. Ask Daumelladnel or the brownies or the Dryad Assembly. I’m just trying to help.”

She raked assessing and calculating eyes over him, seeming to try and judge if he was being honest or possibly trustworthy. Whatever she found, she relaxed the set of her shoulders slightly and gave him a grudging nod. “I will talk with them.”

With that she opened a way into her world and stepped through.

“That should go over well.” Avorndir winced.

Derek frowned. “She won’t find anything negative--”

“No. I know she won’t. However, you just sent my girlfriend to talk to my ex.”

Stiles suppressed the urge to laugh. Instead he patted Avorndir on the shoulder. “Sorry about that.”

The elf waved him off. “Don’t worry about it.”

“And no hard feelings about the bench to the face?” Stiles had to ask.

Avorndir laughed. “It was a clever tactic, and it is not often one can boast that they fought against a Bruxa and lived.” He opened his own way into his world and bid them adieu before stepping through.

“So.” Derek said once the elves were both gone. “Good first date.”

Stiles collapsed to the ground he was laughing so hard. When he opened his eyes again, Derek was standing over him, arms crossed trying to look serious. It just made Stiles laugh a little more. He accepted Derek’s hand up and just followed the momentum, leaning against his shoulder.

“Best first date ever.” Stiles chuckled.

Derek huffed, but wrapped his arms around him. “It could have done without the bloodshed.”

“Harpies or no harpies, I thought it was perfect.” Stiles let a little more of his weight fall on Derek. “Next one will be perfect too.”

“You don’t know that. It could go horribly wrong.” Derek pointed out amused.

Stiles hummed happily. “Optimism. Embrace it.”

Derek rubbed slow circles into Stiles’ back, right hand meandering up to his neck. He gripped the back of his neck firmly, reassuring himself, probably, that Stiles was okay. Stiles groaned at the pressure, feeling boneless as Derek worked the tension out of his muscles. Seeing Derek go down, seeing the blood, and using his Bruxa abilities had left Stiles a little shaky.

“You worked the magic again.” Derek commented, because of course he noticed. Bleeding with chunks missing from his sides, but he still noticed when Stiles did something special.

“I saw you drop. I panicked.” Stiles explained, monotone.

Derek hummed pensively. “You should work on control.”

“Hey, I saved your life, asshole.” Stiles chided without real heat. “That’s all I get in thanks? I need more control?”

He felt the rumble of Derek’s chest, like a growl but different. “If you don’t control it, the magic could get away from you. It could be dangerous.”

He was worried, Stiles realized. Worried that Stiles might hurt himself by using a power he wasn’t used to. Stiles huffed a little. He knew Derek was right, but that didn’t mean he liked it. “Practicing with glyphs and components and chanting is one thing. Using it like that... without help... It feels,” Stiles sighed, “more wild. Vicious.”

“Does it scare you?” Derek asked seriously. It was a conversation they’d had when Stiles had first started learning from Deaton, before knowing what being Bruxa really meant.

Stiles thought about it like he had then. “It’s stronger, not bound by rules and limits--none that I’ve found anyway. It listens to me, to what I want, and it makes it happen. And that should be a good thing, but that’s the part that scares me.”

“Why?” He could hear the frown.

“Do you make the most rational decisions when you’re angry or scared?” Stiles pointed out.

Derek grunted. “All the more reason you should practice control.”

He grumbled nonsensically in futile protest, but eventually silenced himself when Derek’s hands began moving over his back again, purposefully working knots out of muscles. He relaxed and let Derek continue for a few minutes. When he stopped, he drew Stiles into a sweet kiss that helped distract him from thinking about what he could do in a rage or a panic. When they broke apart, they silently agreed to finish packing up the picnic so that they could go.

Chapter Text

He and Derek eventually made it back to the Camaro and Stiles forced himself to stay awake after the adrenaline wore off so that he didn’t miss anything. He wanted a goodnight kiss because it was cheesy and romantic and Stiles was secretly a hopeless romantic at heart, and he was beginning to suspect Derek might be as well.

When they pulled up in front of Stiles’ house, Derek did give him his kiss goodnight. It was slow and lazy and Stiles smiled into it. He would never get tired of kissing Derek. Eventually, he had to pull away before the windows started to steam up. Stiles told Derek goodnight as he opened the car door. Derek claimed one more quick kiss before he climbed out and headed to the house.

“Have fun?” His dad asked casually from his spot on the couch.

Stiles smirked. “I really did.”

His dad eyed him over the paper. “Dare I ask?”

“It was good clean fun, Dad. I swear my maidenly virtue remains intact.” Stiles rolled his eyes.

His dad scoffed but returned to his paper. “Go wash the blood off, kiddo, and tell me again how clean this fun was.”

Stiles looked at himself and grimaced. He’d been too wrapped up in... well, Derek to notice that he had blood--probably Derek’s, actually--on his hands. Stiles went to the kitchen to wash up and raised his voice to be heard. “We ran into a few harpies in the forest. Derek got scratched, but he’s fine, and they’re dead, so...”

“Sounds romantic.”

Stiles chuckled. “Other than the harpies, it actually was, I’ll have you know.”

“So the blood?”

“None of it’s mine.” Stiles made his way back to the living room and flopped down on the couch next to his dad.

Per his request to be kept informed, Stiles went into more detail about what had happened with the harpies that night. He made sure to include the shift he felt in the ley lines as the reason for why they had shown up, and he told his dad about the elves that had made the cross with them. He skipped over the gory details, because he didn’t want to worry his dad needlessly. Everyone was fine anyway, except for the harpies.

Once he’d finished, his dad clapped him on the shoulder in thanks. “This town is getting a lot of activity.” He added, worry lines deepening as he frowned.

“I’m worried it’s only going to get worse.” Stiles grimaced.

His dad rubbed his head with a sigh, “We’ll figure it out, kiddo. Don’t worry.”

Stiles nodded and went up to his room after saying goodnight. He made more notes in the harpies section of the bestiary after seeing them in action, and then showered before getting ready for sleep. He did put away all of the new clothes that Lydia had made him get before sleeping though. He didn’t need his dad asking why there was a mountain of shopping bags in his room.

He crawled under the covers, turned off his light, and checked on everyone via the bond before going to sleep. It was nice to know that everyone was okay.

Not that that calm lasted long. Stiles tossed and turned as he tried to go to sleep. It was going to be one of those nights however, he could feel it. When he finally did get to sleep, it was by no means peaceful. Scenes of Erica and Boyd strung up in Argent’s basement, Gerard beating him up, Cora and Kali bleeding him, and of course Cora bleeding out of every pore. It was an all for one night, apparently.

He woke up and threw the sweat soaked sheets off, stumbling his way to the shower. He stripped out of his clothes and let the water rinse his body as he tapped into the bond again, trying to bring the calm of the Pack into himself. It worked, for the most part, but he wasn’t eager to get back to sleep.

Research it was.

Days crawled by for Stiles and the Pack. Stiles and Derek kept everyone on the alert for possible intruders and there was always more research to be done, a lot of which Stiles did at night either after waking from a nightmare, or just foregoing sleep altogether.

Stiles did hear from Leeloo about her talk with Hatholdes, and was glad to report that he had more support from the elven front. Three elven teenagers wasn’t much in the long run, but it was better than nothing and Stiles would take what he could get. The more he heard about the Elders, the less he liked.

A few days after their date, Stiles and Derek held the first Pack bonding night at Stiles’ place. Despite originally planning it for the next day, the group as a whole decided to push it back on account of harpies. Stiles wanted to make sure nothing else had come through with the ley line shift before trying to plan anything.

Snacks covered the living room table and werewolves covered every seat. Lydia sat on a large pillow at Jackson’s feet, her back against his legs while he ran his fingers gently through her hair. Boyd and Erica shared the loveseat, a tangle of limbs that took up more space than they should. No one seemed ready to fight them for it, however. Danny was next to Jackson, Isaac next to Danny, and Scott wedged himself between Isaac and the arm of the sofa. Peter brought a chair in from the kitchen to sit on, and Derek claimed the recliner. Meanwhile, Stiles flitted about getting everything set. He made sure all of the food was within reach, then made sure everyone had a drink that wanted one. After that, he popped in the first disk, turned on the TV, and began the show.

There was some initial protest of not getting to vote on what was watched, but Stiles silenced everyone by attempting an Alpha growl. Everyone forgot to argue because they were laughing too hard, but Stiles took advantage and pressed play.

He sat at Derek’s feet, head on Derek’s knee, as the show played. Stiles was more intent on the others than the episode, eager to know that they liked it. Scott was already familiar with it, but no one else had seen FIrefly before, and Stiles wanted them to like it; to share in his love of all things Joss Whedon.

Before the episode was half over, Derek pulled Stiles up off the floor and settled him in his lap. Vastly more comfortable than the floor, Stiles didn’t argue, and he was privileged to the small laughs that rumbled through Derek’s chest as he leaned against it.

The night went well. There was light-hearted bickering and everyone seemed interested in the series, so Stiles counted it as a good start. There was still obvious distance between certain parties, but it was only their first go at it, so Stiles didn’t force the issue.

He did pull Erica aside at the end of the night, however, as everyone was leaving. He took her up to his room and glyphed it against eavesdropping so that he could talk to her without everyone knowing what was said.

“What’s up Batman?” She grinned sitting herself on the end of his bed.

Stiles leaned against his desk. “Derek mentioned you’ve been having nightmares.”

Her smile slipped off and she hunched her shoulders defensively. “Not every night.”

“When you try to sleep alone, right?” Stiles worried his bottom lip at her discomfort.

Erica shrugged and looked at the floor rather than at him, “No. I mean... sometimes I still, but it’s... easier. To go back to sleep. When he’s there, I can reach over and remember that we’re not... there still and... I can get back to sleep. Usually.”

“I get them too.” Stiles admitted quietly. “About Gerard, about Cora... I get it.”

“How do you handle it?” She asked. “I know Derek doesn’t sleep here... how do you...?”

Stiles sighed scrubbed his hands across his scalp. “I don’t.”

She looked at him confused.

“I don’t always sleep.” He clarified. “I mean, yeah, when Derek’s here, he tells me to sleep and I do, usually because he stays long enough for me to fall asleep, but... When he’s not here to tell me to, I... don’t always. Or if I do, it’s for like an hour or two.”

“Does Derek know?” She asked, frowning.

“He might suspect, but I don’t think so. My wards... they’re good at helping me stay relatively alright without a lot of sleep, so...”

“Still isn’t healthy.” Erica scolded.

Stiles huffed. “Hey now. I brought you up here to talk about your sleeping habits, not mine.”

“You brought it up.”

“I was commiserating! But I had a point.”

“Do tell.”

“We could try a spell.” Stiles offered. “I thought about it when Derek first mentioned you were having nightmares, and I wanted to know if you were interested.”

She frowned again. “If you have a spell, why aren’t you using it?”

“Because magic isn’t a cure all and shouldn’t replace real legit healing.” Stiles sighed. “But, I’m offering it to you because real legit healing takes a while. We’re waiting until after the full moon to get you guys back with your families, but that may not be enough. And I don’t like the idea of you waking up alone and scared any more than you do.”

She was quiet for a moment, but she nodded.

There was a knocking on the door, so Stiles released the magic in the wards. “Come in.”

Derek and Boyd made their way into Stiles’ room quietly. Boyd moved to Erica, sitting beside her on the bed. She leaned against him and smiled as he buried his nose in her hair. Stiles let them have their moment.

Derek caged him against the desk with his arms on either side. He bumped his head lightly against Stiles’ before running his nose along his cheek. “Warn me before you do that.”

“Just trying to have a conversation away from werewolfy eavesdroppers.” Stiles placed a hand on Derek’s jaw, stroking softly against the stubble in apology.

“It’s disconcerting, man.” Boyd grumbled. “I don’t like suddenly not hearing her heartbeat. Or yours, for that matter.”

Derek huffed in agreement.

“Noted.” Stiles ducked his head. “I’ll try to warn you next time.”

“Let’s go.” Erica muttered to Boyd, changing the topic. “My bed beckons.”

Derek released Stiles long enough to put a hand on Erica’s head and give Boyd’s shoulder a squeeze in goodbye. Stiles let Erica pull him into a brief, but near bone crushing, hug before punching Boyd lightly on the arm. Boyd rolled his eyes and gave Stiles a shove which sent him sprawling onto his bed. He grinned and waved goodbye to Boyd and Erica’s amused chuckling without looking away from the ceiling.

When his door closed, Derek’s face appeared in his line of sight.

“I really feel the love with those two.” Stiles commented.

Derek smirked before joining Stiles on the bed. Stiles rearranged himself so that he and Derek were in a better position. Mainly, so that Stiles now straddled Derek’s hips. He grinned mischievously, rather proud for not flailing or embarrassing himself in the move.

The smirk was back on Derek’s face as his hands found their way to Stiles’ hips, teasing just a few fingers under his shirts to rub maddeningly against his skin. Stiles wriggled under the touch that was too rough to tickle but too light to entice, and froze when the friction of their jeans fretted abruptly delicious against his growing erection. The hands on his hips tightened and moved their way up his sides.

“We shouldn’t.” Derek cautioned even as he hiked Stiles’ shirts higher.

Stiles grinned. “Let me know if you want to stop.”

Derek surged up and removed Stiles’ shirts completely, using Stiles’ elevated position to get his mouth on one of Stiles’ nipples. His hands returned after discarding the shirts to run through his hair and along his lower back. The delightful teasing caused Stiles to stutter out an “Oh my god” as Derek kissed, nipped, and licked a trail up his chest to his neck and then back down the other side.

A slight shift in Derek’s hips kicked Stiles back into action. He tugged and yanked at Derek’s shirt until he finally allowed it to come off. Once it was over his head, Derek latched himself to Stiles’ lips with his own. Soft and sweet at first, Stiles admired--internally, his lips were busy after all--how Derek tended to kiss slowly and gently at first. It played a nice counter to the rougher handling that came from the biting and such--not that he minded that, of course. It almost felt like the kissing was more intimate than the other stuff, that Derek treated it a bit more... reverently.

A part of Stiles wondered why this was, but he was cautious to bring it up. That, and most rational thought went out the window as soon as Derek deepened the kiss.

Derek removed his hands from Stiles’ hair long enough to pull him closer by his hips so that he felt the press of Derek’s own arousal more acutely against his own. It was distracting as hell and had Stiles writhing for better friction. Derek’s hands resumed their trek through his hair--Stiles noticed that it was getting a little long, but decided that the gentle tugs and sensation of fingers outweighed any expediency of upkeep.

Finally, cursing the need to breathe, Stiles pulled away from Derek’s mouth to kiss along the underside of his jaw while his own hand brushed up his other cheek to make its way to his hair. Stiles found his hand was waylaid, however, when Derek turned quickly to catch a couple fingers with his teeth.

Curious, Stiles glanced up just in time to see Derek wrap his lips around the captured appendages and... “Oh, wow. That’s a different sensation.” Stiles groans out as Derek sucks tightly on Stiles’ fingers. The warmth of his mouth, the firm pressure of his tongue, and the absolutely hungry look that he’s giving Stiles at that moment are enough to cause his brain to short circuit.

Because oh, the beautiful, sweet, teasing allegory! His dick twitched excitedly in his pants, as if jumping up and down, begging to be next.

Time passed. He really wasn’t sure how much, he lost track, but when Derek finally released Stiles’ hand with a lewd, wet pop, he had a smug grin on his face that Stiles really wanted to wipe off. He was pretty positive he wouldn’t be able to do what Derek had just done with any level of proficiency, but hey, practice made perfect.

He nuzzled his head in one of Derek’s hands before turning his head to nip lightly at the pads of a few fingers, glancing at Derek for permission to--attempt to--reciprocate. The slight nod was all the encouragement Stiles needed, and he watched with interest as Derek’s pupils blew wide as Stiles slipped a couple of Derek’s fingers between his lips. He did his best to mimic the feeling of pressure, sucking lightly at first, then more firmly when that got a positive response. He moved his tongue along the underside of Derek’s fingers, never letting up on the pressure, and reveled in the taste of him. Woodsy, a bit salty, and entirely new, it made Stiles crave the taste of his skin. He resolved to run his tongue along as much of it as he could.

When Stiles began to move his tongue with a bit more finesse, Derek buried his face into Stiles neck and began to worry what was sure to be an impressive hickey into Stiles’ skin. Apparently satisfied with his work, Derek laved his tongue over the mark to sooth it and then moved his free hand to the waistband of Stiles’ jeans. He pulled his other hand free of Stiles’ mouth, kissing him deeply as he shifted their positions so that Stiles was now on his back with Derek above him.

Stiles was glad for the new arrangement when the sudden earthquake-like shift in equilibrium rolled through him. He gripped firmly at Derek’s hair, panting heavily as he adjusted to the imbalance. Derek was quick to realize something had happened, because he stopped his path towards Stiles’ pants and looked at him with concern.

“Stiles--”

The roiling, heaving of the ley lines was still present as Stiles grit out, “Give me a sec.” Worry and discomfort making his words sharper than he’d intended. He ordered his other hand to release its death grip on the sheets and rub gently at the back of Derek’s neck in apology.

When the shift finally ended--mear seconds, though it felt much longer--Stiles eased up his hold on Derek’s hair and ran his finger through it softly.

Derek moved up to look Stiles in the eye. “What happened?”

Stiles shook his head and reached up to kiss Derek lightly. “It’s over now.”

“Another... disturbance?”

Stiles nodded, resigned to the fact that they probably wouldn’t continue until Derek was reassured. “I think it’s the ley lines.”

Derek frowned and pulled Stiles to a seated position across his lap. “What about them?”

“It’s... like an earthquake. They’re shifting, but I don’t know why.” Stiles rested his head on Derek’s shoulder.

“Dangerous?”

Stiles shrugged. “I’m going to guess yes, at least indirectly, but I have no idea.”

“Are you okay?” Derek lifted his head so that he could look him in the eye again.

“Other than an increasingly uncomfortable case of blue balls,” Stiles kissed him, “yes, I’m fine.”

Derek gave him a very mild form of his bitch please face and pointedly ground against Stiles’ hips to showcase his own obvious irritation at the interruption.

“We could fix that, you know.” Stiles suggested.

“I was trying.” Derek sighed exasperated.

Stiles leaned back to return to his horizontal position, though with the way Derek had his hands on his thighs, the move turned more into an almost yoga stretch, arching his spine. It actually felt pretty good, and Stiles was flexible, so he didn’t mind. Given the noises suddenly coming from Derek, however, something about the shift was either really bad or really good.

When he felt the tips of Derek’s claws gently circle low on Stiles’ skin, he realized what had happened. The stretch had revealed the top of the tattoo that was Derek’s triskele, and the wolf was now admiring it happily; the noise was in fact Derek’s pleased purring growl. A warm hand followed up Stiles’ curved back as Derek sank lower on the bed to get his mouth on the tattoo, while the other undid the button on his jeans.

Pop.

What?

Pop. pop pop pop pop.

His room was invaded!

“Stiles.” Derek growled lowly, hands ceasing their movement and gripping him tightly by the hip and side.

“Bruxa! Bruxa-Stiles!”

Stiles groaned, annoyed and frustrated, and lowered himself into a more relaxed position on the bed. He pinched the bridge of his nose, cursing silently, before turning to the small face that was looking at him earnestly over the edge of the bed.

“Look Derek. We have guests.” Stiles deadpanned.

“Guests are welcome; they were not.”

“Bruxa-Stiles! Need your help! Monster in forest!” The brownies spoke over each other, repeating their request.

Derek and Stiles were on their feet in moments; Derek pulling his phone out to contact the Pack while Stiles talked to the brownies. “Do you know what it is?”

“Beast.”

“Monster.”

“Evil.”

“Descriptive.” Stiles muttered. “Can you give me a physical description?”

The brownies huddled close, chattering quickly to themselves before they suddenly quieted and lifted their hands. The air above them shimmered and then an image slowly came into focus. A humanoid figure resolved itself more fully as Stiles observed into that of a shapely female. As he watched, he noticed the pattern of scales grace her skin along prominent bone structure, delicately claws fingers, her face was coldly beautiful, revealing a mouth full of sharp teeth as the image moved her lips into a snarl. More movement caught Stiles’ eye and drew his attention to the top of her head. No hair, not normal hair at any rate. It wriggled and moved independently even of other parts of itself, and Stiles realized with cold dread that the strands were snakes.

“Medusa.” Derek breathed behind him, clearly just as shocked.

“Fuck me sideways.” Stiles threw himself into his desk chair and pulled open the bestiary. “She’s supposed to be Greek myth! What the hell is she doing here?”

“You want to ask her?” Derek’s voice was harsh with worry.

“Pulled through.” The brownies said. “The river churns, it shifts, opens paths.”

“The river? You mean the ley lines?” Stiles’ fingers flew across the keyboard as he pulled up page after page online. Keyword searches, erroneous theme filters, anything he could do quickly to give himself the best pool of data he could find, all the while making notes as he found read. There wasn’t anything in Argent’s bestiary on Medusa and it hadn’t been one that Leeloo marked for him so he hadn’t done a lot in the way of relevant research. “If the ley line shift is what brought her here, she could be from anywhere. Fuck, she could be from any when. I have no idea what the magic is capable of.”

“Where is she now?” Derek asked the brownies.

The image of the Medusa solidified even more as the surrounding area came into focus, and Stiles realized that this wasn’t just an image, this was the actual Medusa in real time. He pulled his eyes away from the image though, to focus on the computer once he saw that she was making her way closer through the woods to the freaking hospital. She wasn’t there yet, but Stiles saw the lights up ahead.

“This is bad. This is very, very bad.” Stiles whimpered. He straightened his shoulders as best he could while still typing and resolved himself to a frantic fucking night. “Derek. Can you to call Lydia for me? Put her on speakerphone and set it by the keyboard. Then call Scott on your phone? Send him, Isaac, and Peter to the hospital to try to keep it out of the damn building.”

“Peter might be recognized.”

“He also has the best knowledge of the layout, and probably the best capable to actually fight the damn thing.”

Derek grunted agreement and set Stiles’ ringing phone by the keyboard as he’d asked. “What about the others?”

“Heavy hitters: Jackson and Boyd need to try and flank it as she comes up on the hospital; Erica and Danny are going to rendezvous with my dad; they’re the fastest and Erica respects him enough to follow orders that he may have. And we’re going to need his help if this goes south.”

“Stiles!” Lydia’s voice picked up on the other line.

“Lyds. We’ve got Medusa headed for the hospital; are you near a computer?”

She muttered a few choice curses, but Stiles heard the sound of her nails on a keyboard. “I’ve got my laptop; what do you need?”

“Sending my notes so far; I need anything and everything you can get in regards to how to kill it as fast as you can get it. I know the myth, but we’re a little short on god-gifted swords at the moment, and this talk of sisters has me a little nervous.”

“I’m on it.” He heard her typing relentlessly and transferred the call to his bluetooth so that he could keep his hands free.

“Stay on the line; I’m going to need you to be my Q for this.” Stiles said standing and making his way to Derek.

“I’m not calling you 007.”

“Derek,” Stiles looked to him, “put it on speaker?” He was throwing a lot of orders around and he felt bad about it, but there wasn’t a lot of time for discussion.

Thankfully, Derek did as asked and Scott’s voice came over the line. “--Should call my mom--”

“Not yet!” Derek instructed. “There isn’t anything she can do at the moment.”

“But--”

“He’s right. She can’t evacuate the hospital, and telling her now will only make her worry.” Stiles shook his head even though Scott couldn’t see it.

Scott growled in frustration, but didn’t protest further. “Do we have a plan?”

“Details are in the works, but this is really important: Do not look at her!”

Scott spluttered. “How are we supposed to fight--”

“You have to rely on your other sense!” Derek ordered. “Listen to her movements, smell her location. You’re a werewolf, these need to be second-nature.”

“Scott,” Stiles said seriously when his friend groaned, “if you look at her directly, she’ll turn you to stone. You’ll be dead.”

“Not necessarily.” Lydia chirped over his line.

Stiles turned slightly away so he could focus on her. “You’ve got something?”

“Possibly. There was a site that mentioned returning stone to flesh by using blood. It didn’t elaborate though. Should I dig deeper?”

Stiles started sifting through his memory to see if he could remember any blood spells that could do that, “No. Stay on how to kill her.” He jumped over to his library and pulled out the book on blood magic.

“They’re on their way.” Derek told him as he hung up.

“Good. We need to give Dad a heads up.”

“Already on it.” Derek had the phone to his ear again. “Sheriff; we have a situation.”

Stiles left him to it as he quickly read through the book. Near the end, he found the spell that Lydia had mentioned and groaned. It required blood of the victim which would be impossible to get once they were made of stone. The spell itself was simple, however. He pulled his kit out and made sure to put the book in it just in case. When that was done, he slung the kit over his shoulder and turned to the image that the brownies were still projecting. She was getting closer.

“Time to go.” Derek said behind him.

Stiles nodded and followed Derek out the window, throwing a thanks to the brownies on his way out. He’d climbed up to Scott’s room enough that he knew how to navigate a roof and siding, so getting down from his own window was not actually all that difficult.

When he and Derek were both on the ground, Stiles noticed that the Camaro was gone, and as much as he loved her, the Jeep was not fast enough. Derek was slipping out of his pants in the darkest shadow of the house and when he emerged again, he was full wolf.

But massive.

“Dude.” Stiles breathed. He didn’t know if Derek had control over how big his full wolf form was, but he couldn’t imagine that this hulking mass of fur and teeth had gone over very well when he’d sent him as a distraction to get Danny out of the hospital when he’d been Turned.

Derek nudged him gently, despite the urgency of the situation, and Stiles gripped his hands in his mane of fur instinctively. His shoulder came up to just below Stiles’ ribcage, and Stiles estimated him to be at least twice, if not three times the size of a normal wolf. A short wuff brought Stiles’ attention back to where it should be and he glanced at Derek’s head. Derek looked directly at him and then gestured as best he could to his back.

“You want me to get on?” Stiles choked.

“Do I even want to know?” Lydia asked.

“Not quite how I imagined riding you for the first time, just putting that out there.” Stiles muttered, ignoring Lydia as he swung up onto Derek’s back.

There wasn’t a whole lot of clearance between him and the ground, so he tucked himself in as close as he could to the wolf between his legs, and Derek took off. They moved through the woods rather than to the streets, and Derek was fast in this form, even with Stiles’ added weight.

“Any progress, Lyds?”

“From what I can tell, there doesn’t seem to be a specific requirement for a divine blade. Any weapon will work in order to behead her, but it has to be a beheading. Even after that’s done, though, she’ll still be dangerous.”

“Right, Perseus used her as a weapon after killing her; I remember.” Stiles huffed. “Do we have any details on whether this is the actual Medusa from the myth, or if it’s a species...?”

Lydia hummed thoughtfully. “Medusa is a specific person, the species is gorgon. They aren’t all that common, and I’m not finding any reports of gorgon outside of ancient Greece. No references to eerie statue look-alikes either.”

“There were later stories that mentioned sisters. Are these actual sisters or just more gorgon?”

“I’m betting that the fact that there was more than one doesn’t necessarily signify a more powerful relation, but just more than one in the species. Knowing how wrapped up in their pantheon they were, it isn’t a stretch to think that after seeing something like Medusa they’d attribute it’s existence to their wrathful gods. The first one was killed by Perseus, who for all we know, could have been an early hunter, and then years later another was seen, looking nearly identical, and no one could kill it like Perseus had. What were they supposed to think?”

“That... actually makes sense.” Stiles nodded along. “They came up with the story that there were immortal sisters, maybe even to scare people off from trying to kill it.”

“Need anything else?” She asked.

Stiles thought quickly. “Last minute advice?”

“Keep your eyes shut or find a mirror.” She said bluntly.

“Call me if you find anything else.” He said before tapping the button to disconnect. Not three seconds later, his phone beeped that he had an incoming call. He pressed the button again. “Trouble?”

“I hope you guys are close because the bitch just got into the building.” Jackson snarled. “North side.”

Stiles bit back the curse that was in no way useful. A thought occurred to him suddenly. “The mirrors.”

“What?”

“The mirrors that hang in the halls! If you can get your hands on them, you can use them to corner her.”

“How?” Boyd asked. Party line then.

“Use them like shields, surround her, and keep your eyes on the mirrors to track her movements.” Stiles suggested. “We’re almost there.”

He hung up and dial Mrs. McCall.

“I’m at work, Stiles.” She answered, mildly annoyed.

“I know. You’ve got an intruder of the Do Not Fuck With variety in the hospital; the Pack is working on it, but she’s breached the walls.”

He heard her take a few deep breaths over the line and stepping into a quieter area. “Tell me.”

“Medusa isn’t so much a myth, turns out. Do you know if the hospital has any spare mirrors?”

“Uh... maybe. There’s, uh, a large supply/storage closet in the east wing? If we had any, that’s where they’d be.” She stammered, clearly trying not to panic.

“Excellent.” He spoke calmly so as not to scare her more. “Next question, what’s on the north side?”

“Maternity, why?”

Derek snarled beneath him. “Uh, is it particularly full right now?” Stiles asked, dreading the answer.

“Five or so newborns and their mothers. Why?” She sounded angry. “Tell me that’s not where that thing is.”

“We’re handling it.” Stiles assured her. “And Dad’s already on his way.”

She exhaled sharply. “What can I do?”

“Call him. Direct him towards the mirrors, get him to bring as many as he can to the north side. We’ll hold her off as long as we can.”

“On it.” She hung up.

Derek skidded to a stop on the north side of the building and Stiles sat up straighter now that they weren’t running. One of the doors--a maintenance door by the look of it--was pried open and there was evidence of fighting. Stiles slid off Derek’s back as they neared the door; he was sure Derek would prefer either his hybrid or human form for this fight. In fact, as soon as he was off and safely standing, Derek shifted back to human, prying open one of the lockers--okay, locker room not maintenance--and throwing on a pair of scrub pants so he wouldn’t be completely naked.

“Follow me; keep your eyes shut.” Derek grabbed Stiles’s hand to lead him through the halls. They weren’t far, Stiles could hear them from where they were.

“Simply ripping her head off is going to be nearly impossible.” Stiles whispered. “Those snakes will bite you, and werewolf or no, that much venom could easily kill you.”

“What do you suggest then?” Derek didn’t sound angry, which was good. He sounded tense and, okay, a little angry, but not directed at Stiles.

“I don’t know. A scalpel is too small, but a bonesaw would take too long.” Stiles tried to think of something that was easily accessible.

“Can you do anything about the snakes?” Derek asked.

Stiles mentally ran through what he hand in his kit. He had some thread, but without knowing how many damn snakes were on her head, he couldn’t be sure he’d get them all. Component magic was great at specific tasks, like tying someone’s legs together or breaking a bone, but it was also somewhat limited because of that specificity. He couldn’t generalize the target and have the spell work. He could maybe get a hold glyph on the ground, but they’d have to get her to touch it and there was no guarantee that it would hold the snakes the way it held her. He didn’t have any of her blood at the moment, so that was out too until he could get a sample. He didn’t know any chants off the top of his head that would apply either, and he made a mental note to work on improving that particular branch of spellcasting.

That left either tapping into the magic directly and using his Bruxa ability, or shaping the stored magic in his wards.

Well, he knew which he prefered.

“Is there a hall mirror I can watch the proceedings from?” Stiles asked.

Derek paused before answering, presumably to look around. “Yes, but you’ll have your back to the fight.”

“That’s fine. I trust you to keep her off me.” Stiles squeezed his hand. “Point me to it, and go. Be careful.”

Derek grabbed him by the shoulders and maneuvered him into position before joining the fight.

Stiles snapped his eyes open and took stock in the mirror. The fight was currently in front of the damned nursery window and Stiles really didn’t like that he couldn’t hear any upset babies from the otherside. As it stood, Peter and Jackson were doing the most damage. The other members of the Pack seemed to be struggling to use their other senses to fight and mostly limited their attacks to when the gorgon actually moved near them. The group wasn’t doing a good job of keeping her in one spot like this. Derek joining helped, but there was the problem of how to decapitate her and how to do it without becoming snake chow.

Settling his breathing, Stiles began to channel his magic, and it really, honestly was only then that he realized he was not currently wearing a shirt or shoes, the button on his pants was still undone, he had crazy sex hair, and a definite hickey complete with surrounding stubble burn on his neck. He’d been in that occupied by the situation that he had completely forgotten his current state. His tattoo’s flared into life, throwing his features into stark relief, but he pushed the image of himself--and honestly, the word debauched came to mind to describe how he looked at the moment--from his mind so that he could concentrate.

How to handle the snakes... Well... they were hair, sort of. He kept her in sight in the mirror as his hands began to move as though he were gathering someone’s hair into his hands in order to put it up. He’d played with his mother’s hair enough as a kid to remember the action. Pleased to see the snakes move with his intent, he continued until he hand them gathered in one hand. He did notice the gorgon had focused her eyes on him as soon as she felt him mess with her snakes, but so far Derek and the others were keeping her occupied. If he read her look correctly, aside from murderous, she looked a little confused.

He decided to clarify.

“How about a little off the top?” He murmured, still concentrating. With his other hand, he mimed turning on a pair of clippers, an act he was certainly familiar with, with all the times he’d buzzed his own hair rather than go somewhere else, and ran the “clippers” over the top of the gathered hair.

She screeched as the heads of the snakes were shorn off, and it was horrible and loud and he felt really sorry for the wolves in the room. Also, she launched herself at him, which was nice. Luckily, Danny and Erica got there first, coming from the east, mirrors raised like shields to shove the gorgon back. Stiles saw his dad and Melissa quickly handing mirrors to the other wolves until everyone had one.

“Take her and get somewhere safe.” Stiles called out to his dad once the last mirror was given out. He was relieved when his dad threw his hand over Melissa’s eyes and guided her away from the mayhem.

He continued to channel his magic in hopes of finding another opportunity to use it. Now that everyone could see again, the Pack was much better able to herd the gorgon away from the more populated areas and back the way she came.

As they passed him, Stiles took a look around. From where he was standing he counted four security cameras. That simply wouldn’t do. He used the magic he was channeling to wipe the footage and disable the camera, rather like running a strong magnet over a computer. He hoped it was enough, and if it wasn’t, that’s what their resident hacker was for.

He heard the sound of glass breaking, followed by a loud snarl (Derek), and then an angry screech (gorgon) that was cut short. He booked it down the hallway as he shouted, “Mirrors up! Still dangerous!”

He came to a halt, staring purposefully at Scott’s mirror since it offered the best view. The gorgon was dead, Derek was standing over her, eyes tightly shut, still holding the rather large glass shard in his hand. He pulled a cloth sack--repurposed pillowcase, same thing--out of his kit. He’d glyphed it for containment on the off chance they ever ran into a cursed object or the like. Deaton’s suggestion, actually. As he stepped carefully into the circle of mirrors, he made sure to keep visual on where he was in relation to the head, and made his way to Derek. Using Dere’s body as a reference point, Stiles knelt down and scooped up the head into the bag, quickly tying it shut before giving the wolves the all clear.

“Stiles!” His dad called him from down the hall, and he sounded frantic.

The whole Pack made their way toward the voice. When they rounded the corner, the sheriff and Melissa were at the window looking in. Scott’s mom looked close to tears and Stiles’ dad wasn’t far behind. Looking in for himself, Stiles saw why.

The cribs with the newborns all held little stone infants.

Erica let out a choked sob which set off Mrs. McCall, who began to cry. Scott put his hand on her arm and she grabbed him, hugging him tightly as she cried. Stiles noticed that Boyd had Erica in his arms trying to calm her while more than a few tears made their way down his face as well. Derek, Peter, and Jackson all looked ready to murder something, but Jackson still rubbed slow circles on Danny’s back as the goalie did his best not to start crying. Isaac looked so lost that Stiles wanted to wrap him up in a big blanket and force fed him hot chocolate until the haunted look left his face.

His dad, though, tried to remain professional as he turned to Stiles. “Tell me there’s something...”

Stiles snapped his head over to look at his dad and remembered. The spell. He’d almost forgotten the blood spell that Lydia had mentioned.

“Mrs. McCall.” He cleared his throat and reached for the book in his bag.

Scott nudged his mom gently until she looked at Stiles.

“The hospital takes blood samples, right?” He gestured slightly to the infants.

“You can do something?” His dad asked, hand on Stiles’ shoulder, painful hope naked in his eyes.

“If there are samples of their blood, there’s a spell that can undo the...” he glanced to the statues.

Mrs. McCall pulled herself together and nodded, running quickly down another hallway. Everyone was tense while they waited, and no one spoke. Stiles took the time to go over the spell, making sure he knew exactly what he was doing.

When she returned with a tray of test tubes, Stiles told her to let him into the room. She did and he closed it behind her so that it was just the two of them. He asked her to sort out the samples, to be really sure the blood went to the correct baby. As she did that, he walked over to the window. He pulled out a dry erase marker and tapped his ear, letting the wolves know what he was doing, before drawing the glyph for silence.

He channeled his magic, felt the tug, and then replaced the maker. He caught his dad’s assessing gaze from the other side of the glass, knew that there was no way to hide the tattoos that had come to life with his magic.

“That’s an interesting light show.” Mrs. McCall tried for casual.

Stiles grinned shyly as he turned back to her. “The wards keep me safe, and this way I’ll never misplace them.”

She chuckled softly, though her rough inhale still bespoke of the recent tears.

“I silenced the room because they don’t need to hear this.” Stiles started. “The spell will work, but it is not a painless process.”

The book had warned that such a spell was, while technically simple, practically difficult, and wasn’t without cost. It involved a give and take to restore stone to flesh.

“For you or for them?” She asked, worried.

Stiles didn’t answer at first, but ultimately decided that she should be warned. “Both.”

“Can you transfer their pain?” She asked softly.

Stiles raised a questioning brow.

“To me. Instead of hurting them...”

“No.” Stiles told her softly. “The spell doesn’t allow for that; I’m sorry.”

“Stiles, you don’t--”

“Yes, I do.” He interrupted. He moved to the first crib and took the test tube that she handed him. “I only need a little.”

She searched around for a syringe, eventually locating several. She stuck the needle through the rubber stopper, drew out a little amount of the blood, and then handed the syringe to Stiles in exchange for the tube. He pressed the plunger down onto the marble forehead and then placed his hand over the blood so that it connected to his lifeline on his palm.

“Hey, just out of curiosity,” he began, “where would you hide a tattoo if you never wanted anyone to see it?”

“Anyone?”

“Anyone.”

“Is this really necessary right now?”

“Humor me.” Stiles cringed.

She thought for a moment. “I guess... there’s no real place to hide it all the time. Even the scalp would require you to shave your hair to get it. Least visible would be... bottom of the foot? Maybe? Behind the ear if it’s small.”

Stiles nodded thanks while he considered. Finally decided, he began.

“Geronimo.” Stiles whispered before channeling his magic.

The door burst open before Stiles could begin. He glared at Derek’s intrusion; he didn’t want the wolves to hear what was going to happen. “Derek--”

“No. You can’t turn part of yourself to stone and think I’d be okay with that!” Derek shouted.

Stiles gaped at him. How did he know? Stiles had specifically not told anyone what the spell would do to him. Then he saw the phone in Derek’s hand.

“Lydia looked up the spell.” He sighed.

“Of course I did.” She was apparently on speakerphone too, awesome.

“Look. I have to do this, or these newborns die. You get that? As in dead. I’m not going to put a few patches of skin above their lives.” Stiles growled.

“I’ll do it.” Derek moved with purpose over to the little crib. “I can remove the stone and then heal.”

Stiles balked at the idea. “You can’t rip your own skin off!”

“I’ve been through worse.” Derek told him calmly.

He knew it was true, but that didn’t mean he liked the idea. “I can’t transfer the effect to you, and you can’t cast the spell.”

“That’s not true.” Lydia piped up again. “He’s a magical creature and it’s not a difficult spell. With a little guidance from you, he could do it.”

Derek pulled Stiles to him with his free hand. “Please. I can’t watch you hurt yourself. Not when I can protect you.”

“You think it’s easier for me to watch you get hurt?”

“We don’t have time to debate this.” Lydia snapped. “There’s only a limited time frame for the spell to work.”

Mrs. McCall cleared her throat. “Think about it, Stiles. You can’t walk around with stone skin; it won’t stretch the way skin should, and it’ll be pretty conspicuous if anyone sees it.”

“Traitor.” Stiles groaned, reluctantly giving in. “Fine. Let’s get this over with.”

“Show me what to do.” Derek insisted.

Stiles pulled Derek to the edge of the crib and placed his hand where his had been. There was still enough blood for the spell to work, so he didn’t need to add more. Once he was sure the placement was right, Stiles told Derek to concentrate. Feel the power in the blood. He channeled his own magic and opened the bond between them a little wider in hopes that it would lend Derek his ability to feel the magic. When Derek confirmed that he could feel it, Stiles walked him through the workings of the spell, what to envision and how to imprint the desired effect.

Slowly, the spell began to take and the cold marble turned to warm skin, tense silence turned to high pitched wailing, and Stiles felt Derek tense in pain. Stiles removed his and Derek’s hands once he was sure it was done, and let Mrs. McCall move in to calm the baby. He took her place by the counter and started sifting through a few drawers until he found the alcohol wipes. He cleaned their hands thoroughly, making sure to get all of the blood off.

When the wailing did not stop, Stiles frowned and sighed. He walked to the window of onlookers and pointed to Isaac before making a come here gesture. Obediently, Isaac made his way over to the door--which Mrs. McCall had shut during their argument--and waited for Stiles to let him in. He closed the door behind him and locked it.

“Take his pain.” Stiles pointed to the babe still crying in Mrs. McCall’s arms.

Isaac brightened considerably and gently laid a hand on the soft head. The black tendrils crawling up his arm made Mrs. McCall shoot Stiles a questioning look.

“Werewolf thing.” Stiles explained. “They can suck the pain right out of your body.”

The infant calmed as the black receded from Isaac’s arm. Mrs. McCall set him back in his crib and the two of them made room for Stiles to get to the next baby. Mrs. McCall handed Stiles a fresh syringe with newborn blood and he swatted at Derek as the wolf started poking and prodding at the circle of marble that now decorated his upper arm.

The pain was worse this time judging by Derek’s hiss, but he worked the magic with Stiles’ help. Luckily, Isaac knew enough, or was cautious enough to not try and touch him while he was working the spell. When it was done, Isaac moved to help Derek, but he shook his head, motioning insistently to the little girl bawling her eyes out.

He sighed, but did as Derek told him.

The pattern followed until all five babies were fleshy pink again. Stiles slumped to the ground when it was done, too tired to really bother trying to move even to the wall. Tapping into his wards had finally caught up to him it seemed. Derek caught him before he hit the floor, concern etched into his features.

“Just tired.” Stiles promised.

Derek slung Stiles’ arm over his shoulder and helped him as they walked out of the room and back into the hall.

“I’m so proud of you, kiddo.” His dad said, relief evident as he hugged his free side.

“Derek did most of the work.” Stiles returned the hugged nevertheless.

“You’re both heroes, and I’d give you medals if I could.” He whispered. Derek looked surprised at the admission, and even more so at the hand that squeezed his shoulder before the sheriff pulled away from them. “I have to handle clean up, but you all need to get yourselves looked at by Deaton. Especially you, Derek.”

There was a quiet chorus of “Yes, sir.” from the Pack before the sheriff left with Mrs. McCall to handle everything.

Scott made sure to take a firm hold of the bagged head before they all absconded away from the hospital. Stiles fell asleep on the way to the vet’s office.

When he woke up, he was in his own bed. He shifted under the blankets in an attempt to get up.

“Relax, kiddo.” His dad’s voice made Stiles stop.

Looking over, he saw his dad sitting in his desk chair. “Dad. What time is it?”

“Late. Or early, depending.” He was out of uniform now. “Go back to sleep.”

“You should sleep too.”

“I’m fine. You need to rest; get your strength back.”

“The babies okay? The Pack?” Stiles had to make sure.

He heard his dad sigh, “The newborns are healthy. The Pack healed what injuries they had, and Deaton helped Derek remove the marble.”

“Good. That’s good.” Stiles mumbled, sleepy.

“Sleep.”

He did.

Chapter Text

When woke again, light came through his window to glare at him annoyingly. He freed himself from the covers and sat up. As he got ready for the day, last night replayed over and over in his head. It didn’t sit right with him.

He called Lydia.

“What do you make of it all?”

There was a pause. “Be slightly more specific.”

“The gorgon. There hasn’t been a gorgon outside of ancient Greece... ever. Why was it here?” Stiles complained.

“Derek said the brownies told you the ley lines brought it.” She huffed.

“That’s another thing! What the hell is up with the ley line? Last night was the second time I’ve felt it spaz out like that. What’s it doing? Why is it happening now?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Stiles sighed. He gave her a rundown of the shifts that he’d felt previously, and how each one had preceded the arrival of something. He explained that apparently no one else was feeling it happen either, which was slightly annoying.

“You probably feel it because of your magic.” She told him.

“I know that. That’s how I figured it was the ley line doing it, but it’s still embarrassing to fall on my ass randomly.”

“You do that without the ley lines.”

Stiles ignored that. “I just... It bothers me that something that powerful is seemingly... unstable.”

The heavy silence on the other line meant that Lydia agreed with him. “It might be time to ask for help.” She said eventually.

“Too bad the people with the answers hate me.” Stiles grumbled.

“Not all of them.”

She hung up, claiming an appointment she needed to get to. Stiles sighed and looked morosely down at his phone. She was right; not all of the elves hated him, but he had no idea how much Leeloo knew about what was happening.

“No better way to find out.” He mumbled to himself and hit call.

“You’re alive! Hatholdes owes me a few silver.” Leeloo greeted brightly.

“I take it you heard about the gorgon.” Stiles sighed.

“We were told not to interfere; otherwise I would hav--”

“It’s okay. The brownies clued us in.” Stiles assured. “But I do have a few questions. Are you free to swing by?”

She paused before answering. “I think I can manage in a couple of days?”

“Just let me know when you’re free. We seriously need to talk.”

“Agreed.”

When they hung up, Stiles tossed his phone onto his desk and opened his computer. There was always more research. It seemed foolish to rule anything out at this point; the gorgon hadn’t been in either bestiary, and Stiles wasn’t about to trust that something so easily recognizable would show up next time.

Stiles sat in front of his computer compiling as much information as he could in the hours leading up to the Pack meeting. He would probably bring his computer with him to the meeting to continue research while the wolves trained--and he made a mental note to make sure sense deprivation was added to the training regime--using whatever mystical wifi that existed at the Hale house. Seriously, only bit of electricity found in the house was the internet connection.

About an hour before he’d have to leave to get to the meeting, Derek texted him.

FROM: sourwolf
8:00pm

I want to show you something.

TO: sourwolf
8:00pm

Ok. When/where?

FROM: sourwolf
8:02pm

Now. I’m outside.

Stiles smiled and gathered his stuff before dashing downstairs. He told his dad he was headed to the Pack meeting on his way out the door, giving him a short side hug when his dad just told him to have fun.

Derek was waiting outside with the Camaro. Stiles got a quick kiss since it was dark and no one--presumably; he trusted Derek to know--was watching. After that, he slipped into the passenger side and buckled up, fidgety with anticipation.

He waited until Derek was in the car and got it moving before asking, “What do you want to show me?”

“You’ll see.”

Stiles sighed. Derek wasn’t going to tell him, obviously. So he sat back in his seat and enjoyed the ride.

“How bad were the injuries?” Stiles asked, unable to keep silent for very long.

“Nothing serious.” Derek told him. He wasn’t being evasive about it either. Derek knew that Stiles cared deeply about the Pack’s well being just like he, himself, did, so he didn’t beat around the bush when it came to stuff like that. “A few bites and scratches, but nothing their ability to heal couldn’t handle.”

“Good. Your arm?”

Derek obligingly shimmied out of his jacket to show Stiles the smooth, unblemished skin. “I told you I’d be fine.”

“Forgive me for wanting to see for myself.” Stiles sighed. Digging the marble out of his skin had to have been painful, but Derek didn’t show any signs of it. He wouldn’t either; not after this long. “Deaton took care of the head?”

“Yes.”

Stiles relaxed. “Good.”

It wasn’t long after that, less than ten minutes, when Derek pulled into a small, unmaintained parking lot. He turned the car off and got out, so Stiles followed his lead. Outside was pretty dark; the only light came from the dying street lights that lined the road, but Stiles trusted that Derek knew where he was going.

He was led to a building that looked like it could use a new paint job, around to metal door with a grate on the window. Derek opened it and held it while Stiles entered. The only thing inside was a hallway that ended in a staircase and a single door, not dissimilar to the one he’d just walked through. Derek took him past the door, up the stairs, and down another hallway. The second floor had more doors, big ones though. The kind that a large and metal and slide open with herculean effort. There were two down the hall that Stiles could see. One near the staircase, the other on the other side and all the way down, as far away from the first door as it could get.

It was the second door that Derek led him to.

“Where are we?” Stiles finally asked, looking at the huge door.

In answer, Derek opened the door--like it weighed nothing, showoff--and ushered him inside. Stiles couldn’t see anything since his sight hadn’t quite adjusted from the decently lit hallway to the near dark room, but after Derek closed the door he presumably flicked on the lights, because the room was illuminated.

And Stiles realized they were in an apartment. A loft apartment judging by the half exposed upper story. It was large, but that might have just been the fact that it was empty. Stiles took his time looking around. He went first to the kitchen which was small, but serviceable. From there he went to the veritable wall of windows in the living area, none of which look liked they opened, and the wrought iron frames didn’t offer enough space for someone to easily slip through if the glass broke. After that, he walked to the spiral staircase and a not-so-small part of him jumped around excitedly at it; he’d always liked spiral staircases, found them to be unquestionably awesome and fun. He went up to the bedroom area. It had a line of much smaller windows near the ceiling, a door which presumably led to the bathroom, and a wrought iron fence to keep people from falling into the living room.

“What do you think?” Derek asked from the living area.

Stiles leaned over the fence and smiled. “This place is pretty cool. Renting or squatting?”

“Renting.” Derek half smiled at Stiles’ blase question.

Stiles perked up. “Really? Are you becoming an actual member of society?”

Derek shot him a look. “You’re dad was right. We can’t be fugitives.”

“Makes getting help rather difficult.” Stiles nodded sagely. “When do you move in?”

“The Pack is bringing everything over tonight.” Derek informed him. “Hope you don’t mind Scott driving the Jeep; he should be picking it up from your place about now.”

Stiles smirked. “I hope you told Dad first. I don’t think Scott would enjoy Grand Theft Auto: Beacon Hills.”

“Are you going to come back down?” Derek asked, though he masked his amusement with a roll of his eyes.

“In a moment.” Stiles slipped away from the railing and moved toward the back wall. He had a mind to deck this place out in wards since it was a reasonably permanent structure, and obviously one that would see a lot of Pack activity if it was going to be Derek’s--and presumably the beta’s--new abode.

The sound of something hitting metal had Stiles glancing behind him in time to see Derek hop off the railing. “Do stairs offend your wolfy sensibilities?”

“Wastes time.” Derek brushed it off.

“Show off.” Stiles muttered.

“If I were showing off, I’d have done it while you were watching.” Derek pointed out.

Stiles ignored him. “Would you miss your security deposit?”

“Why?” Suddenly, Derek seemed suspicious. Stiles felt he should have been, at least, mildly offended, but under the circumstances, he’d forgive him for jumping to reasonably accurate conclusions.

“I take personal issues with the security of twenty foot walls of windows.” Stiles answered quickly. “This place has potential. Very blank slate.”

“And you’re planning on using my apartment as a canvas for... what, exactly?”

“Any and everything I can think of.” Stiles was already running through the a list of wards and charms that he thought would be good for the loft.

The floorboards were wood, so definitely anti-fire wards. On all of them. Can’t be too careful. The door to the loft was big and metal, but a little magical reinforcement never hurt. He’d also glyph it against unwanted visitors. Might be good to work in some wards for peace and serenity in the walls, make the Pack calm and such while here, but subtle so that he didn’t force the emotion on them if the situation warranted something less zen.

“I can see the wheels turning.” Derek leaned casually against the back wall as he watched Stiles think.

Stiles threw him a small smile. “To be fair, you probably weren’t going to get the deposit back anyway; not with all the wolf business this place is likely to see.”

Derek shrugged.

“By the time I’m done, this will be the safest place in all of California.” Stiles promised. “And we should get started before the furniture gets here.”

“Why?”

“It’s harder to remove floorboards when there’s stuff on top of them.” Stiles said offhandedly, already digging through his kit as he looked for the right tool.

“You’re not ripping up the floor.”

“I’ll put it back.”

Derek sighed. “The Pack will be here with everything in an hour. You don’t have time to rip up the floor.”

Stiles frowned. “You’re right. Doing the whole apartment is going to take a while; I suppose I could break it up into sections. Starting with the floor is preferable, but probably not the most immediately relevant charm.”

“What are you doing to my floor?” Derek glanced at the wood as if it were going to attack him.

“Burn ban. Even a barrage of Lydia’s cocktails won’t so much as warp the wood.” Stiles was still thinking about what to do first. The walls maybe. It wouldn’t take too long to do the whole thing, and it wouldn’t get in anyone’s way.

He was too preoccupied to notice when Derek moved, but the warm breath on the back of his neck was a little harder to miss. Stiles turned slowly to look at Derek, who seemed to be warring quietly with himself over something.

“Derek? You alright, man?”

“The... burn ban. Tell me why.” Derek wasn’t angry, but he was clearly... frustrated, seemed too weak a word.

Stiles got it though. Fear versus pride maybe. Best to be honest in such a case. “Like I said, best protection I can dish out. If I could, I’d do something similar to Dad’s place. But... while possibly excessive, I’m not about to let anything happen to this place, this Pack. We deserve a place we can call safe and home, and it should be here rather than my Dad’s, you know? Here is where our Alpha lives. And yes, I am thinking about the fire when I decide to place the burn ban, because I don’t want anything like that to happen--in general, but to you specifically--ever again. So, while it won’t be Bobby Singer Panic Room protection, it’ll be the best I can give it.”

Derek raised an eyebrow at the reference that... may or may not have gone over his head, Stiles wasn’t actually sure, but he nodded, accepting that Stiles had more than one reason for wanting such extensive protections. He was a smart guy and wouldn’t turn Stiles down, though, regardless of reasons why.

“Tell me what you have in mind. All of it.” Derek requested, not so much curious as just... Alpha. He needed to know what was going to be done to his place.

Stiles talked him through it; his plans for the walls, floors, windows, door, and his idea for keys. Derek followed along, asking questions as needed, even throwing in a suggestion or two. When they had a full plan settled, they were just in time for the first of the Pack to arrive, and Stiles sent a quick text while Derek was briefly distracted.

“Not a lot in the way of privacy.” Erica commented looking around. She was unburdened, but Isaac and Boyd came in behind her carrying a couch loaded with boxes.

“You’re a werewolf; I wasn’t aware you still had privacy.” Lydia snipped, giving the loft an assessing glance as she came in behind Boyd, arms also void of anything.

“The illusion would still be nice.” Erica muttered.

Jackson came in with Danny, both were carrying a chair each. Peter followed, arms full of boxes. Trailing at the end was Scott who was hunched over, mattress over his back and shoulders. The betas divested themselves of their burdens and took a quick look around.

“This is definitely better than the depot.” Scott decided. Such high praise. Probably the best they were going to get from him though.

Stiles made his way down the spiral staircase to greet the Pack. Derek took the shortcut. Once the hellos were out of the way, the Pack--minus Erica and Lydia, because “Someone has to supervise, Stiles.”--went back down to the cars to finish unloading. There wasn’t a lot that wasn’t furniture, but Stiles grabbed the large duffle and a couple boxes that remained while the wolves got the pleasure of carting up another couch, bookcases, a table, and the bed frame. The next trip up saw another bookcase, chairs for the table, an end table, dresser, and huge freaking TV.

When it was all up and in the loft, Stiles joined Lydia in deciding--arguing--how everything should be arranged. He tried to tell her it didn’t matter since it would all be shifted and rearranged when he warded the floors, but she refused to yield. She insisted that everything be put where it belonged now so that there wouldn’t be question later, after the wards were in place, of where everything should go.

Stiles finally just agreed with her so they would stop arguing. It was obviously a futile effort.

Once he’d capitulated, Derek cleared his throat, “Can we get the meeting started?”

In silent agreement, the Pack found spots on the couches and chairs and got comfy. When they’d all stopped shifting, Derek nodded to Stiles. This meeting had been at Stiles’ request, so he was going to start it before Derek took the betas to train.

“After last night, I’ve decided to take a few precautions.” Stiles pulled vials from his kit and passed them around. “I need samples of your blood. The gorgon isn’t the only thing out there that can turn you into something inanimate, and we got lucky that none of you were made heroes of Canton last night, because I wouldn’t have been able to do jack shit without your blood. There are also other beneficial spells that might require blood, so...” Stiles relayed seriously. “I won’t let anyone else touch it, the vials will be magically sealed so only myself and Derek can open them, and I promise not to use any Pack blood for any nefarious spells.”

Lydia looked at him rather pointedly. “Where’s my vial?”

“Your blood sample will be taken, along with mine, as soon as our last guest arrives.” Stiles told her calmly. The Pack all perked up, not sure who else would be joining. “In the meantime: Derek, do you have keys for everyone?”

Derek nodded and pulled a small yellow envelope from a pocket. He emptied the contents into Stiles waiting hands. “How’d you know?”

“Everyone needs access to the new den.” Stiles smiled. “I’ll need yours too.”

Derek pulled his own key off the ring and handed it to Stiles too. “I’m going to key your keys.” Stiles explained bluntly. “It’ll let you passed the wards I’ll be setting up on the door, and it’ll be specific to you. So don’t lose your key, don’t trade your key. Not unless you want an unpleasant surprise.”

He went along the group, one by one. He used a small sample of blood from the vial to cast the spell that personalized each key to its owner. When the spell was done, he handed the key to the corresponding Pack member, and then magically sealed the vial of blood before putting it safely in his kit.

Once everyone’s--but his and Lydia’s--were done, he continued. “I’m also getting a copy of the Jeep and Camaro’s keys made,” Derek grunted his annoyance at that, “to be used for emergencies only. Not to joy ride, not to go shopping, not even to go to school. Strictly for werewolf business only. So if something comes up, if either myself or Derek are unavailable or incapacitated, there’s a set of keys for someone to use the cars.”

“You think that type of situation is likely?” Boyd asked.

“Not really.” Stiles admitted. “But I’d rather have it and never use it, than need it and not have it.”

There was a knock at the door. Derek got up to answer while Stiles began to pull two more vials out of his bag.

“Mom?” Scott sounded very confused.

Mrs. McCall waved at the gathered Pack as Derek showed her in. She gave Scott a short hug as she sat on the arm of the couch next to him. “Don’t look so freaked out Scott.”

“What are you doing here?”

“She’s Pack.” Stiles stated. “Same way Dad is Pack. Tangentially for the most part, Pack by association if you will, but Pack nonetheless. Dad got a crash course in werewolf, now it’s her turn.”

“Nice to see you again, Melissa.” Peter sounded almost cordial if it weren’t for the slime that always seemed to coat his every word.

Mrs. McCall glared frostily at him, Scott growled a bit, but Derek flashed his Alpha eyes at him, willing his beta into submission. When Peter ducked his head, and held his hands up in surrender, the tension lessened enough for the meeting to continue. Though Stiles doubted this would be the last time Peter’s past interactions with Mrs. McCall would be an issue.

“Like I said: she’ll get Werewolf 101 when you guys get to training, but for now I’d actually like your help, Mrs. McCall.” Stiles held up the vials along with two blood collection needles he’d swiped from the hospital.

She sighed fondly at him. “I think you have a serious case of sticky fingers.”

“I like to think of it as being resourceful.”

Mrs. McCall swatted him gently on the head, but took the equipment. She drew blood from Stiles and Lydia before handing him the vials. He quickly keyed the keys before magically sealing the vials and putting them in his kit.

“You should get samples from your dad and Mrs. McCall as well.” Derek suggested quietly.

Stiles nodded. “I’ll get more vials from Deaton tomorrow.”

“Anything else?” Jackson drawled.

“I have a few things I want to talk with Lydia and Danny about; the rest of you can follow Derek.” Stiles acknowledge.

The wolves, sans Danny, stood and followed Derek to the far side of the loft which was devoid of furniture. Mrs. McCall followed, listening indulgently to Scott as he started talking about how dangerous this all was and how she shouldn’t be here. Stiles smirked when Mrs. McCall whacked him on the head and asked why she should let him be here if it was so dangerous.

“You wanted us for something?” Lydia brought his attention back to the matter at hand.

“Last night, having you on the line doing research while the rest of us were out was really helpful.” Stiles stated. “I’d like you to consider doing that more often.”

Lydia took a moment to think about it. “Is this just because of my research skills, or because I’m human?”

“Both.” Stiles agreed. “You’re immune to the Bite, and you might have even been immune to the gorgon’s gaze, but it’s not something I want to test. And, you are human, you don’t have magic, and you won’t heal as quickly, but while that’s a consideration, I wouldn’t suggest this unless I thought you could do it.”

“Hmm... An interesting idea, Stilinski. One problem though. I won’t always be at home when something attacks.”

“I know, but for when you are, or when you’re able to get home, it’ll be really helpful.”

“I’m still not calling you 007.”

“Spoilsport.”

“What about me?” Danny asked.

Stiles smiled. “Danny, how familiar are you with the cameras around town?”

“You want me to hack into traffic cameras and CCTV?”

“No. Not at all.” Stiles shook his head. “I want you to teach Lydia how to hack into traffic cams and CCTV.”

“Why?”

Another sigh. “Because we won’t always be lucky enough for something to attack in the woods. If something enters the town, we’ll need eyes on it so we know where it’s going, and if it’s headed to a populated area. Being able to use the traffic cams and CCTV would be monumentally helpful.”

“And illegal.”

“But worthwhile.” Lydia agreed. “I’ll need a better computer setup, but that won’t be a problem. We’ll talk logistics after the meeting, Danny.” She shooed him toward the wolves and he went with a sigh.

When he’d joined in on the training, Stiles turned to Lydia. “I got in touch with Leeloo. She’s agreed to come talk to us in a couple days.”

“She seems willing to risk quite a lot for you.” Lydia commented.

Stiles shuffled uncomfortably. “I wouldn’t ask unless it was important.”

“Important enough to bring the wrath of the elven elders?” Lydia wondered.

“I’m not like the Bruxa they’re used to. I haven’t done anything--”

“Maybe you should.”

Stiles gave her an are-you-serious look. “What?”

“Not to prove them right, but to prove them wrong.” Lydia said.

“I’m trying.”

“You’re saving your Pack and the city. You haven’t done anything for the elves.”

Stiles sighed. “Hard to do when they’re in another realm.”

“You’ll think of something.” Lydia patted his cheek patronizingly before going over to watch the training.

Mrs. McCall found her way back over to him after a brief werewolf lesson. “So, this is nice.” She motioned to the loft.

“It is.” Stiles smiled. “Definitely a step up.”

“And a step in the right direction.” She was being quiet, perhaps in a vain attempt to keep the wolves from hearing. “He’s a good kid, behind all that scruff.”

Stiles chuckled.

The rest of the meeting proceeded as usual. Stiles even joined in on the training, doing push ups and such alongside his wolves. He didn’t do as many, of course, but he wasn’t a wimp. Lacrosse was good for something, at least.

The next day was spent warding the hell out of the loft. He started with the walls, doing his planned glyphs for serenity, carving it into the mortar between bricks. He also added glyphs to prevent other spellcasters from working magic in the loft. Now it would be practically impossible for anyone other than himself to cast a spell, maintain a spell, or dispel a spell within the walls of the loft. Once that was done, he moved to the door. He set his trap and reinforced the strength of the metal and the area around it, again carving the glyphs, this time along the edges of the door. He carved the same anti-evil protection glyphs into the doorframe that he had at his house, using the triskele to symbolize the Pack. He added a dormant anti-eavesdropping glyph that he’d be able to activate whenever he’d need it. Satisfied, he moved to the windows. He started with the same anti-evil protection on the frame, and then moved on to the glass itself. He reinforced the strength of the glass, essentially making it bullet proof, he put very specific anti-faerie glyphs into it as well. He didn’t want any more faerie abductions. It also got the dormant anti-eavesdroppers.

Derek made him stop and break for lunch once he’d finished with the windows. Stiles protested until he smelled that alluring aroma that only meant curly fries.

“Cheater.” Stiles accused as he took his first delicious bite.

Derek was unapologetic.

After lunch and an hour of digesting, Stiles and Derek tackled the floors. It took the rest of the day and well into the evening to finish, but Stiles felt a lot more at ease once it was all done. He fell onto his back, starfishing on the cool hardwood, exhausted from so many glyphs.

“Wouldn’t the couch be more comfortable?” Derek asked, looming over him.

“Possibly, but it would also require more effort to reach.” Stiles panted.

Derek wasn’t even sweating, despite tearing up and reapplying floorboards for many hours. “You need to eat something.”

“Sleep.”

“Food, then sleep.”

Stiles pouted. “Why? Chewing, too much effort.”

Derek hauled him up by his shirtfronts and sat him on the arm of the nearby couch. Stiles leaned forward and rested his head on Derek’s chest rather than expend the energy required to keep himself up.

“You burned through a lot of energy; you have to replace it.” Derek ordered.

“Order something and I’ll nap until it gets here.” Stiles suggested.

Derek sighed, but didn’t protest. He lifted Stiles’ head up, kissed his forehead, and then lightly pushed him until he tipped back and landed on the couch with an “oomph.” Stiles closed his eyes and drifted to sleep, barely registering the sound of Derek talking on his phone.

In seemingly no time at all, Derek woke him up with the promise of food. Annoyingly, he made sure that Stiles ate nearly a whole pizza to himself before allowing him to fall back into unconsciousness.

Chapter Text

Another day and a half after Stiles finished warding Derek’s new loft, Leeloo called him asking to meet. Stiles readily agreed and called the Pack together to meet at his place. It was familiar territory for Leeloo and had the added benefit of coming complete with a sheriff, so he could join in on the conversation as desired.

Derek was first to arrive with Isaac, Erica, and Boyd in tow. Lydia, Danny, and Jackson pulled up a few minutes later; Scott and Mrs. McCall not but a few seconds behind, and Peter slunk in at some point too, though Stiles couldn’t be sure exactly when.

They all had time to get settled before Leeloo arrived, flanked on either side by Avorndir and Hatholdes. All three of the elves were dressed much less modernly than Stiles was used to seeing Leeloo, almost as if they’d stepped off a medieval movie set. Avorndir and Hatholdes were in armor again, though leathers instead of the breastplates he saw them in earlier. He noticed their weapons too, though they’d been peace-tied into their sheaths. Leeloo wasn’t in armor, at least. He wondered if the others might be warriors by trade, like Leeloo was a tattoo artist.

“Stiles.” She greeted him warmly, giving him a hug as she stepped into the house.

He returned it before gesturing to the others to come in as well.

As she came forward, Hatholdes offered her hand to him as she had not done in the woods. “I was mistaken Brux-- Stiles. My judgements were hastily made; I apologize for my offense.”

“None taken.” Stiles offered his own hand and she grasped his forearm in a warrior’s greeting. “I wasn’t expecting you two to come.” Stiles admitted.

“Daumelladnel said she would be speaking with you on matters concerning the Elders; we came to help.” Avorndir explained, greeting Stiles as Hatholdes had.

“Why?” Derek asked bluntly.

Avorndir looked to him, unoffended by his abruptness. “Because we can, and because someone should.”

“The more information I can get, the better.” Stiles ushered them all into the living room where the Pack was waiting. Stiles made quick introductions, noting quietly that Hatholdes’ gaze lingered a few seconds longer on Peter than any of the others, and then got down to business. “Where do we start?”

“How much do you know about Bruxa history?” Leeloo asked.

“Bits and pieces. I know there’s bad blood between Bruxa and elves, and apparently every other good-natured being.”

“Bad blood is an oversimplification, but yes. Bruxa of old were not known for temperance or kindness. They controlled with an iron will, bringing several species to kneel, as they saw fit. It was not until the bloodlines thinned and the magic diminished that the subjugated were able to break free.” Hatholdes clenched her teeth.

“The elves were the strongest of the survivors; they hid away and were able to thrive with the rules that the Elders writ down for the protection of all.” Avorndir continued. “No Bruxa is to be trusted. The discovery of a Bruxa is to be reported to the Elders. No elf is to help a Bruxa, through willful action or inaction. And any Bruxa who is found before coming to full power is to be eradicated.”

There was tense silence among the Pack.

Finally, after letting that sink in for a bit, Stiles breathed out in a low whistle. “So why am I not dead?”

“These rules were written centuries ago.” Leeloo grumbled. “They’re archaic and brutal and completely unrealistic given the advancements of humans in recent decades.”

“Not everyone sees it that way, though.” Hatholdes shook her head. “There’s indecision among the Elders. Some favor killing you anyway, others are hesitant to draw human attention.”

“How many Elders are there?”

“Five.” Avorndir answered. “Four Consuls and the General.”

“What’s the current split?” Stiles asked, curious.

“Rínor and Arahaelon are in favor of your long and painful death, Daechir and Arvellon are too cautious of humans, and Callon is undecided.” Leeloo detailed.

Stiles frowned. “Arahaelon and Callon... Not...”

Avorndir sighed, “Yes. My father, Callon, is the General.”

“And Arahaelon is mine, yes.” Hatholdes shrugged. “Who else would know so much about the Elders than their own progeny?”

“Leeloo?” Stiles asked.

“Daumelladnel ferch Arvellon, though she doesn’t act like it most days.” Hatholdes answered when Leeloo did not.

“Like I said: Archaic and brutal. I have no desire to follow in my father’s footsteps; I loathe politics.” Leeloo shifted uncomfortably.

Stiles nodded. This could be either really good or really bad depending on how the Elders reacted. For the moment though, he’d take the help that was given. “So, until they reach a decision, I’m safe?”

“For the moment.” Leeloo agreed reluctantly. “They’ll be looking for any excuse though, any reason to cut you down where you stand.”

The wolves growled lowly, and Stiles--though appreciative--waved a hand at them to subside the growling. It was unnecessary in current company. Stiles started, “I’m getting really tired of no one talking to anyone else. The people who have the most information about the ley lines won’t talk to me because I’m a Bruxa, but I can’t help, can’t prove myself an ally, unless I have information.”

The elves looked to each other and Hatholdes tipped her head in acknowledgement. “We can ask, but we don’t know what’s causing the disturbances. The Elders have been discussing it, but they haven’t reached a conclusion yet.”

“Once they tell us, we can relay the information to you as soon as we’re able.” Leeloo offered.

Stiles shook his head. “Why not cut out the middleman? Let me meet them, talk with them. Hell, bring the Brownies and the Dryads and anyone else who lives peacefully in the forest. Whatever’s happening is dangerous and getting worse; it concerns them too.”

If the elves looked nervous before, now they were downright shifty. “That... is not likely to happen.” Avorndir stated.

“The Elders withdrew our people after the decline of the Bruxa; elves have lived apart from the others for many centuries. I am not sure a... gathering such as you suggest would even be considered.” Hatholdes added.

Stiles groaned in frustration.

“It’s a completely reasonable proposition.” Lydia complained. “Mutually beneficial to everyone. Information could be shared from several sources, different theories brought to the table, and it would be the fastest and most convenient way for everyone to... work together; ask for or give help as needed. Stiles is right; this is something that your people should consider.”

“Should is not the same as will.” Leeloo frowned. “It won’t happen; I’m sorry.”

“Fine.” Stiles rubbed his hands through his hair, agitated. “Just... tell me what you can.”

“You’re right. The problem--whatever it is--is getting worse. We’ve noticed an increase in activity for the past several years.” Leeloo informed them solemnly. “Unfortunately, it was too subtle for us to pick up until recently; only in the last year--more so in recent months--did we really begin to notice the upset.”

“But you don’t know what caused it?” Stiles asked.

“No.” Avorndir shook his head. “There are theories, but if the Elders have come to a conclusion it has not yet been shared.”

“Do we know how bad it will get?” Scott asked.

A brief pause before Hatholdes answered, “Based on the observed behavior, and if the pattern follows... our best estimate says the ley lines will reach a point of no return by the end of the year.”

“Define point of no return.” The sheriff requested. “Be specific.”

“No one knows.” Avorndir winced. “The ley lines haven’t behaved like this in near a millennia. There isn’t much history left from that far back.”

“Not any that the Elders have decided to share, at any rate.” Leeloo grumbled.

Stiles got the sense that she didn’t really agree with how things were run.

“You’ve no evidence that they know anything--”

“Don’t be naive.” Peter spoke over Hatholdes. “Of course they’re keeping things from you. Information is valuable; they wouldn’t just give it away. Especially to a child.”

You are an aberration that I tolerate only for the sake of the Bruxa; do not test me.” Hatholdes snapped viciously, glaring daggers at Peter.

“Try me; my weapons are not bound.” Peter smiled.

Everyone was tense. Peter was Pack; much as Stiles didn’t like or trust him, they should show a united front. However, Peter was being purposefully antagonistic toward a potential ally. Stiles would like nothing better than to tie his tongue in a knot until the evening was over, but he wasn’t sure how well that would go over with Derek. In general, Stiles deferred to Derek whenever Peter was involved because he was Derek’s last relative, and because Stiles never wanted Peter to second guess who was in charge.

This time though, it wasn’t Derek or Stiles who stepped up.

“Lay one hand on her and I’ll put you back in that coma.” Mrs. McCall’s deceptively calm voice sent shivers down Stiles’ spine.

Thankfully, the matter wasn’t pressed. Slowly and after several silent, tense moments, Peter dropped out of his threatening posture and stood once again as if he were bored by the entire ordeal. Hatholdes shifted into a less aggressive footing as well and refocused her attention on the rest of the Pack.

“All that we know for sure is that the ley lines are destabilizing.” She stated. “As it does, more and more monsters will be drawn to it, to the chaos. Whether they come on their own or are pulled through the ley line itself...? Both are likely and nearly impossible to predict.”

Stiles frowned. “Do you feel them? The shifts?”

Avorndir nodded. “For now, the shifts are subtle enough that only those with innate magical ability will sense them--I am unsurprised that you have noticed them--but they will get worse. Eventually, if the situation is not corrected, we believe even the ungifted will feel them as well.”

“Subtle? You call those subtle?” Stiles pulled a face.

The elves looked to him as if he were naive. “Like I said. They will get worse.”

“Great.” Stiles sighed.

“Unfortunately, that is all we know.” Leeloo shook her head. “We will make our inquiries, but it may be awhile before we can tell you anything new.”

“So you can’t help us at all.” Boyd grunted.

“We are limited, but we are doing what we can.” Avorndir corrected gently.

Isaac shrugged. “You two look like you’re ready for a fight; why not help us fight?”

“Do not presume--”

Leeloo spoke over Hatholdes quickly, “It is not actually easy to make the journey here unnoticed. Sudden, unplanned travel is... difficult to do without provoking unwanted attention. I am sorry.”

“We’ll manage.” Derek nodded.

“You’ve done well so far,” Hatholdes agreed, “but that could change. There are monsters in the world that are not so easily beaten.”

“Do you purposely try to be foreboding and melodramatic?” Jackson sighed.

Lydia rolled her eyes.

“Heed my words or do not. The choice is yours, but you would be a fool to dismiss them so quickly.” Hatholdes glared.

“Jackson’s just being Jackson.” Stiles told her. “You get used to it.”

The sheriff sighed in the proceeding silence, finally speaking. “If you’d like, Melissa and I were going to get lunch ready; you are welcome to join us.”

Stiles smiled. His dad probably wasn’t aware, but the offering of refreshments or food was actually a really good idea. The breaking of bread together often symbolized alliances and trust among disparate parties. He resisted the urge to give the air a fist pump of accomplishment when he saw Hatholdes and Avorndir relax almost imperceptibly and share mild looks of shock.

“We would be honored.” Avorndir answered.

“Great.” Mrs. McCall smiled. “We were going to grill up some steaks,” que cheering from the teenage werewolves, “how do you take yours?”

Avorndir and Hatholdes looked slightly confused, but Leeloo smiled and answered, “We’ll go with medium; thank you Mrs. McCall.”

The sheriff, Mrs. McCall, and the elves made their way to the backyard where the grill was; the sheriff leading the way asking about what the elves were used to when it came to food. Stiles was sure given half a chance, he’d regale them with a few amusing hunting stories from his youth.

He let them go and asked the wolves to hold back a bit. When he had their attention, he began, “Asking them to join us for food was just Dad being polite, but they’re going to take it seriously. Really seriously. Like forging alliances seriously. So don’t antagonize them, even a little. We really need them to be on our side.”

“You worry too much.” Isaac slapped him on the shoulder with a smirk as he walked past.

“Yeah,” Erica grinned, “it’s like you don’t trust us.”

Stiles winced a little, much to the Pack’s apparent amusement.

The Pack followed Isaac out until it was just Derek and Stiles left.

“Relax.” Derek rumbled. “Leeloo’s already familiar with their antics.”

“It’s not Leeloo I’m worried about.” Stiles sighed. “We need Hatholdes on our side. Avorndir too, but Hatholdes seems like the one most likely to... take offense.”

“It’s one meal. Nothing’s going to happ--”

“Don’t jinx it!” Stiles smacked a hand over Derek’s mouth.

Too late.

He feel something in the air as he and Derek stepped out into the backyard. It felt... charged. There was some kind of energy that rolled around; though as far as Stiles could tell, it wasn’t affecting him at all. Other than his awareness of its existence, he felt no different.

The same could not be said of the others.

Most of the Pack was already near the edge of the forest that bordered the yard. Avorndir, too, was making his way closer to the trees, seemingly intent on following the others.

Scott was in the lead, already disappearing into the forest. Peter only a few steps behind him, quickly stepped out of Stiles’ sight as he watched, confused from the back porch. Danny was next, Boyd, Jackson, Avorndir, and Isaac not but a few paces behind.

“What the hell--”

Stiles was jarred out of his inaction when he noticed Derek making his way toward the trees as well.

“Derek!” Stiles shouted.

Lydia was already cursing up a storm at Jackson, demanding he get his ass back over to the house. Erica was with the rest of the Pack, but her intent seemed more along the Stop Them variety than the Join Them. She snarled and snapped and even physically tried to stop Boyd from advancing, though nothing worked.

“What on Earth is going on?” Mrs. McCall asked, concern making her voice tight.

“I don’t...” The sheriff frowned and shook his head. “I kind of.... want to go with them, but...” He shook his head again, confused.

“It’s a spell.” Stiles declared, his mind already racing through his known list to see if anything fit. Of course several spells immediately came to mind, but none that would be feasible. He was the only one that had samples of everyone’s blood, and those were safe in his kit--he could sense the magic on the seals; intact and right where he left them. “I can... feel it.” He gave a full body shudder, even though it wasn’t affecting him, it still wasn’t pleasant.

“Wait...” Lydia muttered, eyes darting to everyone still present. “Only the men.”

Stiles snapped his eyes to her. “No... You don’t think...”

“It is not only men; they are both still here.” Hatholdes gestured to Stiles and the sheriff.

“Stiles I understand,” Lydia looked him over, “but why are you unaffected, Sheriff?”

“I glyphed Dad’s stuff; not as strong as etching it into his skin, but... effective.”

Lydia frowned. “But, there isn’t any-- Oh.”

“What? Speak!” Hatholdes demanded.

“It’s a siren.” Stiles told her. “There’s a lake on Hale property.”

“Then we follow, yes?” Hatholdes was already moving toward the trees.

Stiles nodded to Erica to lead Hatholdes through the forest to the lake. “Follow the others; make sure nothing happened to them en route. We’ll meet you at the lake.”

With a nod, the two raced into the trees after their enchanted Packmates.

“Odd that Danny was affected.” Lydia commented idly.

Stiles snorted. “I don’t think the siren cares what your sexual preference is.”

With a nod of assent, Lydia turned to him, determination set in her features. “So what’s the plan?”

Stiles looked at each of them. Leeloo and Mrs. McCall weren’t fighters, though there was something to be said of a mother’s instinct to protect... Lydia wasn’t not a fighter, but he didn’t give her molotov cocktails much chance of helping if the siren (possibly sirens, they tended to travel in groups from what he could remember) was in the water. The sheriff was the most experienced of the group--aside from himself--but he had no idea how strong the pull of the song would be as they got closer, or if his wards would hold out.

“Right.” Stiles wracked his brain to remember what his research had told him of sirens. “We need to break the enchantment--”

“You should be able to do that easily.” Leeloo frowned.

Stiles shook his head. “This is a more complicated spell; it’ll take time, and I can’t do it from here.”

“We should go then.” Mrs. McCall stated. “Eryk, take Stiles in the cruiser; I’ll take the girls in--”

“My car.” Lydia said. “It’s faster.”

Mrs. McCall nodded.

Lydia tossed her the keys. “Your computer password protected?” She asked Stiles already headed for the house.

“I’ll text it to you.” Stiles pulled out his phone and sent her the password and where to find the bestiary on his computer before placing his bluetooth to his ear. “Ready when you are.”

His dad nodded and led the way around to the cruiser, Leeloo and Mrs. McCall following toward Lydia’s car. His dad turned on the sirens--Stiles snorted at the word--and they took off to the preserve. Mrs. McCall following in Lydia’s car.

Stiles spent the drive conversing with Lydia as she fed him information. According to lore, there was a chance that breaking the enchantment could actually kill the siren. Stiles wasn’t so sure that was true though, since both he and his dad technically fell under the “heard it and survived” category that the legend described, as Lydia so helpfully pointed out.

“Maybe it’s more literal than that.” Stiles thought aloud. “What if... what if it’s the breaking of the enchantment? Like a spell’s backlash.”

“You’re thinking of the witches a few months ago.” Lydia seemed to be following his train of thought. “Didn’t that nearly kill you too?”

“Yes.” Stiles admitted. “But, that was a serious, heavy duty ritual. The danger’s probably minimal.”

“Probably?” His dad side-eyed him. “What’s ‘probably minimal?’”

“Stiles, have you read about this silence thing?” She asked.

He sighed. “Yeah, but there isn’t a lot on it, and it isn’t in every legend.”

“You going to risk their lives on a maybe?”

“No. I’ll do a cleanse; make sure every trace of the enchantment is wiped out so they don’t die.”

“Stiles.” His dad apparently disliked only hearing half of the conversation.

“You think that’ll work?”

“Yes. Hopefully.” Stiles wrinkled his nose in distaste. He found he really disliked it when someone cast spells on his Pack. “Is there anything in there about killing them other than breaking the spell? In case it doesn’t work?”

“Not online, but the Argent bestiary has a bit on sirens, give me a sec.”

While she translated, Stiles filled his dad in. “If we can break the enchantment, the backlash should kill the siren, but there’s a chance--small one really--that the backlash might also kill whoever is nearby. I say small because there’s a chance that it won’t be fatal because the spell isn’t the most powerful thing in the world, though it is pretty powerful, so I don’t expect zero retribution which means I am going to ask that you and Mrs. McCall stay as far back as you can. Everyone else will heal. Eh, except the elves... crap... Leeloo will have to stay back with you guys too. Also, there’s is a small, and I mean really small, like hardly even worth mentioning small--”

“And yet you are mentioning it.”

“--chance that once we break the enchantment, the sudden loss of the spell could potentially be fatal to everyone that was affected. Not instantly of course, I’d have time to fix it if that seems to be a problem.”

His dad was silent for a beat or two. “Anything else?”

“If breaking the enchantment doesn’t work, or if I can’t break it, we might not know how to kill it.” Stiles said quickly.

“Great.”

Lydia called for his attention. “Okay, according to this, a bronze dagger dipped in the blood of the enthralled will also kill it.”

“Awesome, but we don’t have a bronze dagger.” Stiles bit out, frustrated.

“It may not have to be a dagger. Maybe, just anything that’s bronze...” Lydia suggested.

“We don’t have any bronze.”

“My badge is bronze.” The sheriff supplied.

Stiles looked at him, surprised. “What, really?”

“Really.” He acknowledged.

“That’ll be really difficult, Stiles.” Lydia scolded. “Nice as it is to have as an option, you can’t do a lot of damage with a sheriff’s badge.”

“Watch me.” Stiles snapped.

The rest of the drive Stiles spent discussing the different ways he might be able to break the enchantment with Lydia. He didn’t want to have to use the blood in his kit, because it would take too long to do them all and he didn’t have Avorndir’s blood. Simply willing it to be broken probably wouldn’t work either, as far as he knew. It didn’t always work, after all; the protection the witches he’d taken down at the Hale House had cast had been too strong for him to break the way he’d broken the others. It would still be the first thing he tried, of course. Component magic was just right out; it would never work on something so intangible as a spell. There were chants that might have worked, but he hadn’t had time to memorize them--which he was really going to devote a good week to once this was done--and were far too complicated to try without that confidence.

He might be able to use his own blood; do a power vs power thing, but that would have serious consequences if he wasn’t strong enough. Although... Deaton had said there wasn’t any way to be sure how strong a Bruxa was.

They pulled into the makeshift drive that was in front of the house, and Stiles hurled himself out of the car before it had even fully stopped. He raced along the path to the lake; Leeloo, his dad, and Mrs. McCall behind him.

When he emerged from the last patch of trees, he saw movement in the water. Not the Pack though. These were the sirens; three of them, gliding around in the deepest part of the lake, singing their song. He could physically hear it now that he was this close.

“Is that...?” Lydia could hear it too apparently. “It sounds so...”

“Sad.” Stiles agreed. It was beautiful in an achingly melancholic way. He wanted it to stop. “I don’t see the others yet.”

“Shorter distance taking the forest route, but they weren’t traveling as quickly...” Lydia began running calculations in her head, Stiles could tell.

He cheated.

He closed his eyes and felt along the bond. “They’re moving faster now; they’ll be here soon.”

“Pass me to someone else.” Lydia ordered. She’d suggested this earlier, so that she wouldn’t distract him while he was working his magic, but so that she wouldn’t be cut off from what was happening either.

He handed the earpiece and phone to Mrs. McCall since she was right there. “Don’t hang up on her.”

She raised an eyebrow, but put the earpiece on without further comment. Stiles looked to his dad, but he seemed no different than he had at the house, so Stiles decided he wasn’t more strongly affected given proximity; his wards were holding. Satisfied that he wasn’t in danger, Stiles told him along with Leeloo and Mrs. McCall to stay put while he started working on breaking the enchantment.

He jogged away, headed to the small rocky overlook that jutted out over the lake behind the sirens. They seemed to be intently watching one section of forest, probably in anticipation of the Pack’s arrival from that direction, so they didn’t seem to notice him as he made his way up. Once he was situated, he channeled his magic and focused on the spell, able to more easily and accurately examine it while tapped into his own power.

Before him, the song manifested in waves and colors and impressions. It was intricate and complicated and very, very strong. He saw how each siren added her own strength to make the spell more powerful; and it would have to be, he realized, to trap werewolves. He could... read it, almost. The longer he observed, the more about it he learned. The spell of a single siren was enough to trap a dozen men easily, but werewolves were a different matter. Magical creatures, period, had a natural resistance--however minimal--to spells, and the sirens compensated for that by combining their song.

They knew exactly who they were calling.

Stiles wondered if that was because of intent, or if they were simply aware of whoever was caught in their net. They could have strengthened the spell once they realized who they’d caught. Not that it mattered one way or the other.

Stiles wouldn’t let them have his Pack.

He could sense them drawing closer; they’d break the treeline in a minute. He began sifting through the spell, looking for the weak points, vulnerabilities. He wanted to go about it delicately so as not to shock his Pack when the spell ended, hopefully working around the worry of them reacting poorly to its loss, and also to mitigate the fallout of the backlash. It was unlikely the sirens wouldn’t notice, but he doubted they’d be able to do anything to him. They could pour more power into the spell to try to stop him--and they did once they noticed his meddling--but they were limited otherwise. He was unaffected by their spell, and they couldn’t physically attack him without weakening their hold on the wolves, at which point, said wolves would likely attack them.

It was a straight up power struggle, but Stiles was at a disadvantage. The longer he took, the more likely one of his own would die, but if he hurried, he ran the risk of killing his own Pack. If the sirens could wait him out, there would be nothing left for him to save.

Scott broke the treeline first, running to the shore. Hatholdes was physically holding on to him, digging her heels in to slow him down, but on he moved. Stiles fought to unravel the spell quickly, but his best friend broke Hatholdes’ hold and hit the water. Peter and Danny followed; unimpeded by any interference, they reached the water a few seconds after Scott did.

“Right. Fuck this.” Stiles began tearing into the spell, throwing delicate out the window in favor of speed.

In the time it took him to make a sizable dent, to the point where he began to sense the instability, Isaac, Boyd, and Jackson had also made it into the water. Avorndir had broken the treeline, but Hatholdes had knocked him unconscious. She, too, was apparently past being delicate. Erica had wolfed out and was roaring at the boys, trying to drown out the sound of the song, maybe, possibly also just yelling at them.

He couldn’t see Derek, though, he could sense him. He was unsurprised to realize that he was free of the sirens’ song. Stiles suspected that Derek would be the first to break it as soon as it began to fray. When he felt Derek’s warm presence behind him, Stiles warned him to brace himself before he shredded the last of the song.

Derek apparently took that to mean Protect Stiles, because his firm hands grabbed Stiles so that he could physically turn them both. Stiles was about Derek’s height, but the Alpha was definitely bigger, and he used that size difference to shield Stiles from the backlash.

It swept across the clearing like a thunderclap, shaking the very ground they stood on. It made Stiles’ ears ring and he winced in sympathy for those with super hearing. Looking up, he noticed that Derek’s ears were bleeding, and that he was cringing in pain, but as he watched, the blood receded and Derek was able to relax.

“Are you hurt?” Derek’s voice sounded muffled and far away.

Stiles definitely had some hearing damage, but he shook his head. “Not bad.”

He was more focused on the others anyway. He moved so that he could look out over the lake. Boyd, Isaac, and Jackson were slogging their way back to shore. Peter and Danny broke the surface of the water as Stiles watched, and they both began swimming once they’d oriented themselves. They made it to shore and got to join the other betas as Erica chewed them out. Stiles couldn’t hear what she was saying, but she looked pissed.

Dread slowly began to fill a pit in Stiles’ stomach. Where was Scott?

As a severe asthmatic, Scott had never gotten a lot of practice in swimming. It aggravated his condition, and his skill as a swimmer suffered for it. To put it bluntly, he was pretty crap at it. While his lungs were fixed after receiving the Bite, Stiles was pretty positive it didn’t also magically grant one the ability to swim. Add that to the pressure wave that no doubt went through the water, and Scott could seriously be in a lot of trouble.

“Scott!” Stiles called. Probably futilely, but he was kind of close to panicking, so he didn’t really care. “Scott!

Derek’s firm hand on his shoulder brought him away from the edge. He gently moved Stiles out of the way and then dove into the water. Stiles hoped that Derek was a good swimmer, because he knew from experience that it was hard as fuck to lift dead weight underwater.

He saw Mrs. McCall sprinting down to the shoreline, Leeloo and the sheriff a little bit behind. He wanted to join them, but that would require moving and losing sight of the water. He would not do that until Scott and Derek surfaced.

Tense seconds ticked by.

When Derek broke the surface of the water, Stiles almost lept in after him, but he forced himself to stay where he was. With a great heave, Derek lifted an unconscious Scott enough so that his head was above the water. Stiles about collapsed in relief, but Scott wasn’t out of the woods yet. Stiles watched to make sure that they both got to the shore before he convinced himself to move. He raced down the overhang and booked it over to the shore where Mrs. McCall had already started CPR. He skidded to a halt between his dad and Derek and watched.

It was all he could do, and he felt utterly helpless.

Chapter Text

There are things that some people are just naturally talented at; their personalities and character lend themselves to one talent or another by the grace of chance. More often, however, people are good at things because they do them a lot. Then there are people like Sheriff Stilinski who are both naturally talented and forced to practice that talent often enough that it becomes as common and easy to do as breathing, no matter how difficult breathing might actually be in that moment. Stiles has stumbled upon or ridden shotgun--when he was younger, and he always stayed in the car watching through the window--to enough crimes scenes to see his dad in action, and he knows, knows deep down at the core of his being that his dad was always and only ever meant to be a sheriff. He had that talent for managing chaos--arguably something that he may have passed to Stiles--and the practice required to be able to do it even in the worst moments.

Stiles was reminded of this, of why his dad would always be his hero, when the sheriff took control of the scene.

“Don’t crowd; give her space.” He ordered gently, but firmly, to the betas when they creep ever closer to Scott’s limp form. “Stiles,” he put both hands on his neck and cheeks, guiding his face away from Scott and towards his own serious expression, “I know you’re worried, but our guests are bleeding. I need you to look them over for me.”

His ears were still ringing, but voices were less muffled now. Stiles stared into his dad’s eyes for a few breaths that he wasn’t really breathing, and forced himself to nod. It was a little jerky, but it conveyed his understanding. When his dad nodded in response and let him go, Stiles took a deep breath, with one more look at the McCalls, and made his way over to Hatholdes and Avorndir.

There was blood trailing out of their ears, and they looked like they were in a bit of pain. He had Hatholdes’ attention as he squatted down in front of her, and he tapped his own ear in question. The look on her face with the little shake of her head told him what he’d suspected. Her hearing was gone.

Over his shoulder, he heard his dad talking calmly with Derek, forcing him to engage rather than just stare really intently at Mrs. McCall as she tried to--

Stiles didn’t even want to think about it.

He focused. Task at hand.

“I think I can help.” Stiles said slowly, forming the words distinctly so that Hatholdes would have a better chance of understanding. When she shook her head uncomprehending, he frowned and thought. Conveying through flailing hand gestures probably wasn’t the best idea at the moment. Instead he reached for his phone, but remembered that he gave it to Mrs. McCall. He sighed, frustrated. Finally he yanked the collar of his shirt down and channeled his magic so that the glyphs lit up and then gestured to her ear, raising his eyebrows imploringly.

She seemed to get that at least. He saw her tense, her knee-jerk reaction was probably to stay no, to run him through for even suggesting casting a spell on her, but she relaxed when Avorndir, conscious again, squeezed her arm gently.

Avorndir nodded to Stiles and positioned himself a bit more upright so that he was about level with Stiles. Slowly, so that he’d have the chance to pull away if he wanted, Stiles reached for the blood dripping from Avorndir’s ear and collected a bit onto his finger. He saw Hatholdes reach for one of her axes, but Avorndir made no attempt to pull away and remained fully relaxed. Stiles channeled his magic again, drew a restorative healing glyph on Avorndir’s pulse point, and was quick to wipe the blood off his hand once he felt the tug.

The elf drew in a sharp breath as the magic restored his hearing and then smiled. “My thanks.”

Stiles nodded. “Welcome.”

Avorndir turned to Hatholdes and held out his hand. She took it and allowed herself to be brought in front of him, nestled against his chest. He held her loosely as Stiles moved with the same deliberate slowness to gather her blood. He repeated the process that he’d done with Avorndir and nodded his regard when she thanked him and apologized for her mistrust.

Task done, he turned back to look at Scott. It had been only a few minutes since Derek had dragged him out of the water, but it felt like so much longer. Mrs. McCall’s steady rhythm never wavered as she tried to force the water out of Scott’s lungs. The water was cold, even in the summer, so there was still a pretty good chance that Scott could be... revived.

“Can’t you do something?” Isaac’s voice broke.

Stiles clenched his hands and looked down ashamed. “I don’t... I can’t control it.”

“You just glyphed the elves,” Jackson snapped, “you controlled it then.”

“Jackson.” Danny scolded.

“That’s my brother!” Stiles shouted right back. “You think I don’t want to pull a miracle out of my ass?”

“Batman.” Erica wrapped her arms around him, resting her head on his shoulder, “He’s scared, just like the rest of us.”

Stiles took a few deep calming breaths, forcing himself to not get angry. She was right. It was concern for Scott making them both snappish. Lashing out wouldn’t help anything. He reigned in his temper.

“Good.” Erica whispered. “Now, kindly pull that miracle from whatever orifice you so desire, because Momma McCall isn’t going to hold it together much longer.”

She steered him to Scott and he saw the tears streaming down Mrs. McCall’s cheeks, though her rhythm never faltered. He gathered every ounce of his resolve and stepped forward, handing Erica off to Boyd as he passed, and knelt down next to his brother.

Unsure of what, exactly, he was going to do, but knowing he couldn’t do it blind, Stiles started to channel his magic--

And that’s when he saw it.

This wasn’t a normal drowning: the sirens had begun to feed off of him. Mrs. McCall’s efforts were going to do absolutely nothing until that problem was addressed.

“Stop.” Stiles told her.

She glared at him and kept going.

“No, stop. He’s not... this isn’t a normal drowning.”

“Melissa.” The sheriff ordered softly. “Rest; let Stiles work his magic.”

At the word, she seemed to snap out of whatever haze she’d been in and moved back, allowing Stiles access. He opened his awareness like he had before when observing the sirens’ song and looked. He saw the traces of the spell, coiled tightly around Scott’s lungs and throat; it robbed him of air and... essence, drained him of breath and life force like a drink through a straw. Interrupted and unfinished, the spell hadn’t killed Scott--not yet--but it would have to be removed before he could heal.

He went about unraveling the spell delicately this time. If he didn’t, there was a chance he’d inadvertently kill Scott, so Stiles took his time. It was agonizingly tempting to just rip it out, but he couldn’t, and his impatience kept screaming in his ear, but he forced himself to keep calm and do it right.

As he neared the end of the spell, Stiles focused on the part of his wards that held Scott. Some of his essence had been removed, so Stiles planned to give some of it back. This was tricky and fragile and probably unsafe, but also rather necessary, so Stiles went for it. He... converted some of his magic to mimic Scott’s essence, and found that it took a lot of magic to make a relatively small amount of essence. Scott wouldn’t need a whole lot, but the exchange rate was a bit of a bitch, and Stiles decided this was not a thing he should attempt often. He prepared himself for another magical transfusion, and as he finished the unraveling, he started the transfer between one heartbeat and the next.

When it was done, he moved away and looked to Mrs. McCall. “Now. Try it now.”

She began CPR again, not needing more than ten chest compressions before Scott lurched and puked up a few mouthfuls of lakewater.

“Awesome.” Stiles panted. “Now. Nobody panic.” Utterly exhausted, he then promptly passed the fuck out.

Two things kept Derek rooted to the spot and not panicking. One, Stiles’ heartbeat was loud and clear in his ear, steady and, while elevated from stress, still well within normal. Two, the elf quickly began assuring everyone that Stiles was just tired and not, in fact, dead.

Neither of these facts were enough to put Derek in a what would be called a pleasant mood, however.

“He’s unconscious. That’s not what I’d call fine.” Derek snapped, kneeling down next to Stiles.

“Relative values of fine.” Leeloo shrugged, unconcerned. “He’s just over extended himself.”

“What did he do?” Scott asked, voice hoarse. “Will he be okay?”

Leeloo grinned, pleased by something. Derek didn’t know or particularly care what about. “Stiles will be right as rain after he sleeps it off. Promise.”

“I thought he was supposed to be super powerful.” Erica began. “A few spells and he’s down?”

Now the elf did smile, large and bright. “What he did was more complex that a few spells, and yes. That much power worked by someone unused to it will cause exhaustion.”

“Why are you smiling?” Derek glared.

“Because he’s doing things that should be impossible.” Hatholdes answered. “Daumelladnel does so enjoy going against the status quo.”

Leeloo scoffed. “It’s not like I’m an anarchist.”

“No.” Hatholdes admitted. “But you take teen rebellion to a new level.”

Derek raised his eyebrow at the skip of Leeloo’s heart.

“How long will he sleep?” The sheriff asked, back to more important matters.

Leeloo shifted unsure. “More than an hour, less than a day?”

“Great.” The sheriff turned to Derek. “You willing to carry him to the car for me?”

In answer Derek scooped Stiles up out of the dirt and followed the sheriff. He heard the others follow quickly; Scott and Mrs. McCall taking up the space to his left, Isaac and Leeloo to his right, Erica, Boyd, and Peter behind him. The two new elves brought up the rear, following at a little distance, but not as far as he would have expected. It seemed their opinion of Stiles and the Pack wasn’t too low despite lunch being interrupted.

Derek laid Stiles in the back of the cruiser, even buckling him across the waist so that he wouldn’t fall onto the floorboard. When he’d finished, Mrs. McCall handed him Stiles’ phone and ear piece. He took them with a nod of thanks, but he handed them to the sheriff when she’d walked back to Lydia’s car.

“Not joining us?” He asked.

Derek shrugged out of his sopping wet shirt. “I’ll meet you there, Sir. I don’t want to get your interior wet.”

The sheriff nodded. “Back door should still be open.”

With a last nod of acknowledgement, Derek loped off into the woods towards the Stilinski house, shucking off his wet jeans and folding them tightly as soon as he hit the treeline. He shifted into Wolf, shook to try and rid himself of lingering water, picked up his jeans, and then ran. He slowed when he neared the backyard, listening for any nosy neighbors, before trotting calmly to the backdoor. It wasn’t fully closed, so he pawed it open and made his way inside.

The sheriff was in the living room, watching a game. He glanced over his shoulder when Derek opened the door. “If you put those in the laundry room, I’ll throw them in with the next load.” He shook his head with a grin. “He’s in his room.”

Derek wuffed softly through the denim in his jaws and headed upstairs. Lydia was in the desk chair reading one of Stiles’ magic books while he slept on the bed. She looked up when he nudged the door open.

“Do you see color in that form?” She asked apropos of nothing.

Derek flicked his ears, uninterested in answering even if he were able at the moment. After dropping his jeans by the hamper, he hopped up onto the bed and curled himself around Stiles, head resting on his chest, the better to feel the rise and fall of his breathing and the steady heartbeat.

Lydia scoffed quietly, “He’ll be fine. He just overextended himself.”

A whine escaped his throat before he could stop it.

“I don’t like it either, but he’s being stubborn about practicing and this is the result. Maybe it’ll knock some sense into him.” Lydia rolled her eyes before going back to the book.

Derek growled lightly, only half-serious in his chastising. He agreed with Lydia that Stiles should be practicing, but her attitude could use some work in his opinion.

“Have you read these?” She held up the book she’d been reading. “They’re fairly useless considering... There is nothing in here about Bruxa; not even a mention. He needs better reading material. Or someone who actually knows what they’re doing.”

Stiles still had lessons with Deaton, but Derek had been spectacularly unimpressed with Deaton’s teaching methods thus far, and the man had admitted to not knowing how to train Stiles’ Bruxa abilities. Lydia was right, of course. He needed someone who knew how to help him control the wilder aspects of his magic.

His train of thought was interrupted by the arrival of the others. Scott’s hurried footsteps thundered up the stairs as soon as he got in the house, and he was first to Stiles’ room. Erica and Boyd weren’t too far behind though. Jackson, Isaac, Danny, and Leeloo came at a more sedate pace.

“He’s okay, right?” Scott demanded.

Derek just stared at him, unable to actually speak.

“I said he’s fine.” Leeloo answered from behind the others. “He just needs to...” She trailed off and put her hand to her head, frowning.

Isaac and Danny, being the closest, reached out to help, but she shook her head.

“Are you alright?” Isaac asked.

“Something’s coming.” She relayed. “It’s... disturbing the magic in the area.”

“We should be safe in here. Stiles warded the house.” Erica pointed out.

Derek sighed, ready to shift to give orders. Modesty was an uncommon trait in a werewolf, a born one especially, but he still didn’t like being completely naked in front of his entire Pack. He didn’t quite get the chance though, before a few bright, glowing, bouncing, blue and green lights appeared in the room swirling among the betas.

“Are those gixies again?” Lydia asked, standing to get a better look at one of the lights. It shied away from her and she followed.

The entire mass of them, in fact, began retreating out of the room and into the hall.

“They don’t look like gixies.” Leeloo answered, trying to get a closer look.

“How’d they get in?” Boyd asked, pragmatic.

Derek stood up on the bed, careful not to actually step on Stiles, and moved to follow the lights. He wanted to know how they’d gotten in, too, and what they were. At his movement, the betas began to chase after the lights, not running, but attempting to move stealthily enough to catch one. Lydia and Leeloo had already left in pursuit.

Derek was off the bed and headed out the door before the feeling of Wrong crept over his fur. He shook himself, trying to get rid of the feeling, but it clung to him like an oily coating. Determined to find out what the lights were, he just tried to push past the feeling of Wrong and follow. It only took a few hard won steps before the feeling of Wrong increased to a sense of Impending Doom that made it difficult to breathe, like a sharp, heavy weight was crushing him right between his shoulder blades. Right where his tattoo would be...

Stiles.

He turned, suddenly furious with himself for abandoning Stiles while he was unconscious, and finally broke free of the compulsion to follow the damned lights.

There, standing over his mate, was a willowy figure with a hand on Stiles’ abdomen, right where the triskele tattoo was. The hand was glowing a dull red and Stiles’ body was arching up off the mattress a little, as if something was pulling him.

Derek snarled. Whatever this thing was, it was not allowed to touch Stiles, and Derek decided that ripping out its throat sounded like a really good deterrent.

Whatever it was didn’t pay him an ounce of care as it continued to drain Stiles. Derek stalked closer, intent on getting it away from Stiles so that he could tear it to pieces without risking Stiles or his clean sheets. As he neared, the thing opened its eyes and gave Derek a contemptuous look before going back to what it was doing.

Derek saw that it was decidedly not human. The features were humanoid, but they were exaggerated and unearthly beautiful. The eyes were purple, though there was something about them that disturbed Derek beyond just their unusual color; the hair was moss green and wild, tangled with twigs and dead leaves; and the limbs and dimensions of its body were stretched and thin, but managed to look graceful rather than skeletal. He didn’t need Stiles’ bestiary to tell him that this was one of the Fae. Normally, based on it’s actions, Derek would have wagered that it was of the Unseelie court, but if it were, how did it get past the wards?

Not that it mattered at the moment.

Derek snarled again and advanced, launching himself at the Fae. It glided out of the way, despite his speed, and hissed at him. Derek was unimpressed with the intimidation tactic. He jumped again, and again the thing slid just out of reach, back to Stiles’ side. The arm inched toward Stiles again, intent on picking up where it left off. Derek forced it away with another lunge.

It was too fast for Derek to catch, but was also intent on getting to Stiles whenever it could. Derek snapped and lunged again and again to keep it from touching his mate, and the dance continued for several minutes, neither of them gaining enough ground to push an advantage.

Derek miscalculated at some point because the Fae was now on back to Stiles’ side, with the bed between Derek and the Fae, and that was unacceptable. Derek roared in defiance, and then jumped clean over the bed, hoping to push it out the door and away from the bed altogether. It worked, the Fae slammed into the hallway, and Derek took hold of the arm that had been on Stiles, breaking it with a satisfying snap of bone.

Over the sound of the Fae screeching in pain, Derek heard the sound of stomping feet and a gun round being loaded into the chamber. Derek saw the sheriff take a quick second to assess the situation once he reached the landing, and then put a round into the Fae’s head right between it’s impossibly violet eyes.

Derek listened intently as the Fae’s heartbeat slowed and stopped as the iron bullet did its job to destroy the creature. Once it was dead, Derek snorted in wolfy disdain, turned around, jumped up onto the bed, flopped protectively down onto Stiles, and growled lowly in his throat, berating himself for falling for the obvious willo-the-wisp trap.

He opened his bond to Stiles a little, making sure that there wasn’t any permanent damage, and also to encourage him to take a little of his own energy to help him heal. It wasn’t something that would probably work, but he felt like trying.

“You alright, Son?” The sheriff asked and it took Derek a moment to realize, startled, that he meant him and not Stiles.

Derek lifted his head and looked the sheriff in the eye, drooped his ears a little and whined quietly. He’d let this happen by being caught in the trap, so, while physically he was unhurt, no, Derek wouldn’t say that he was “alright.”

The sheriff was obviously familiar enough with dogs to recognize shame when he saw it. “You got it away from him; don’t be too hard on yourself.”

Derek lowered his head back onto Stiles’ hip and sighed heavily. He was glad that the sheriff seemed willing to forgive him, but he’d fallen prey to enchantment twice in one day and wanted to kick himself for it. He settled for being hyper-alert as he watched over Stiles.

He watched the window, wondering how the Fae had gotten through the wards, but he heard the sheriff move, so he didn’t jump when he felt the hand land on his head, between his ears.

“Melissa managed to scrape together something to cook since the steaks were a loss; I’ll bring something up for you when it’s done.” He gave Derek’s fur a single scratch before retreating out of the room.

Derek listened as Leeloo and Avorndir discussed how best to get rid of the body, but he didn’t particularly care. They seemed to settle on taking it with them when they left and disposing of it somewhere beyond human reach. He did hear confirmation that it was of the Unseelie court, though, but that just reminded him again of the wards on the window.

Hatholdes came into the room cautiously at first, though when Derek made no move to stop her, she seemed to gain a little courage. She came over to the window, hands held above the sill as if she could feel the magic. Maybe she could.

“There were wards here, yes?” She asked.

“Were?” Lydia snapped, she’d reclaimed her place in the chair for the moment. “As in past tense?”

Derek perked his ears forward, intent on this conversation.

“They are here no longer.” Hatholdes confirmed. “The sidhe has absorbed the magic within them; they will need to be redone.”

Derek growled, annoyed and worried. If something could so easily take the magic in Stiles’ wards, then he was not as safe as Derek had thought, and that was not a comforting notion.

“It’s not a common ability, if that’s what has you growly.” Leeloo soothed somewhat ineffectually. “And I believe the only reason it worked is because Stiles wasn’t conscious to sense the disturbance and counter it.”

“Apt assessment.” Hatholdes agreed. “Likely a scavenger; picked up on his display against the sirens and took advantage while he was weakened.”

“This kind of thing going to happen often?” Jackson drawled, leaning against the doorway.

“It shouldn’t have happened at all.” Avorndir shook his head. “The Unseelie court knows better than to venture so openly into human lands.”

“What does that mean?” Erica asked, confusion and worry making her seem younger. Much closer to her actual 16 years than she normally strove for.

Hatholdes hands went to her axes, gripping them in agitation. “A rogue most likely; though one as strong as this one was isn’t likely to go rogue.”

“Look at it.” Leeloo ordered. “It didn’t go rogue, it went crazy.”

Hatholdes removed herself from her examination of the window and went to the Fae in the hall.

While she looked the Fae over, Boyd turned to Leeloo. “What’s the difference?”

“If it was simply a rogue, it would still be bound by sense. Even a Fae who chooses to go against the laws of the courts still respects certain boundaries and limitations, avoiding the human world chief among them.”

“This isn’t the first faerie we’ve seen though, remember? You were there...” Scott pointed out.

Avorndir shook his head. “As counterintuitive as it sounds, the less powerful the Fae, the easier it is for it to remain unobserved. They tend to be smaller, have glamors specifically designed to remain unnoticed, and live closer to this world than the stronger Fae. Because of this, they venture into the human world with much more frequency. It isn’t actually impossible for you to have encountered one of these smaller Fae since they’re the ones, nine times out of ten, that are responsible for the faerie abduction stories in your fables.”

“However, that being said, the faerie that came after Stiles was crazy.” Leeloo added. “Early stages of it to be sure, but she was definitely a few fries short of a Happy Meal.”

Avorndir and Hatholdes shot her a confused look at the phrase. Derek wondered if Stiles was rubbing off on her or if Leeloo had always been more... modern than her elven friends.

“Why do I get the feeling it isn’t exactly common for a Fae to go crazy?” Isaac asked, resigned.

“It isn’t.” Leeloo agreed. “This is connected to whatever is wrong with the ley lines, I’m sure of it.”

“Should we expect more crazy faerie attacks?” Jackson grumbled.

“No.” Hatholdes spoke up, finally done with her assessment of the body. “There is not a large number of Fae in this area despite the size of the ley lines, and we will bring this to the attention of the Elders. They will make the barrier more secure.”

“Doesn’t that limit your ability to travel as well?” Isaac inquired.

Leeloo laughed softly. “Indentured servitude hasn’t stopped me; why should this?”

Hatholdes rolled her eyes. “Your lineage will not keep you from retribution if you keep getting caught.”

“Then I won’t get caught.” Leeloo stated nonchalantly.

“Food is ready!” Melissa called from downstairs.

The stampede of hungry betas made Derek chuckle quietly to himself.

Lydia and the elves went down at a much more respectful speed, leaving Derek to watch over Stiles.

Once they were gone, Derek dug at Stiles’ clothes with his nose until the triskele tattoo was revealed. It seemed red and irritated, almost like the tattoo was new. Derek licked it gently a few times, hoping to soothe away the irritation.

The footsteps on the stairs made him pause. Once he’d identified the sheriff’s gait, he placed his paws on top of the tattoo to hide it from Stiles’ dad. He’d seen the others, the glyphs that lit up when Stiles cast a spell, but this was a little different. Personal.

He knocked on the doorframe before coming in with a tray of fettuccine alfredo and a bundle of clothes. They were his spare set from the Camaro. “Brought you this.” The sheriff indicated the bundle. “For when you change back. Be sure to eat, too. I have to work tonight, so I’d appreciate it if you’d keep an eye on him while I’m gone.”

Derek nodded.

When the sheriff left again with a thanks, Derek got up long enough to eat, being careful not to make a mess, and then hopped back up on the bed. He’d change back when Stiles woke up, but since he didn’t need to talk to anyone at the moment and his senses were more keen as Wolf anyway, he chose to stay as he was for the time being.

For the next few hours, the Pack took shifts in visiting Stiles and Derek. Stiles’ room was too small to fit them all comfortably, and there was a perfectly serviceable TV downstairs to offer distraction. Eventually, though, it got late enough that the sheriff had to head into work. Everyone took this as their cue to depart, so after one final swarm of bodies as the Pack bade them goodnight, the house was empty but for Derek and Stiles.

After the noise of so many people, the house was exceptionally quiet. Derek felt his eyes droop in the silence, with no more TV or teenagers to keep the exhaustion of the day from creeping in. He kept himself from going too deep into sleep, mindful that he still needed to watch for anything that might come knocking, but a little nap wouldn’t be bad. He’d wake up easy enough if he needed to.

Chapter Text

Derek was running late for the Pack meeting, having gone to fetch “snackage” for the descending hoards as Stiles had put it. He’d left Stiles at the loft because he wanted to be there to greet everyone as they came in. Derek shook his head in amusement. For all his dog jokes, Stiles could be very much like a puppy at times himself.

When he pulled into the lot, he saw that all the Pack seemed to have arrived already, but he couldn’t hear them. Stiles must have activated the wards for privacy, which likely meant that he and Scott were on the game system with the volume up as loud as it would go. Again. While he appreciated not having his neighbours call in noise complaints, his ears could only take so much abuse. He didn’t know how Scott and the other betas stood it sometimes.

Preparing himself for the noise, he climbed the stairs up to the loft and shifted bags around so that he could get a grip on his key. He went to put it into the lock when something tugged at him along the Pack bond. Feeling a new urgency, he dropped the bags of food to fling the door open once the key had disengaged the traps.

The assault to his ears that he’d expected wasn’t there. The loft was eerily silent, in fact, and it only made Derek all the more worried. He couldn’t see anyone from his current vantage point. The lights were out, which had not been the case when he’d left. The darkness wasn’t much of a hamper to his vision, so he didn’t bother looking for the switch. Instead, he stepped forward cautiously.

He listened intently, and could easily hear the heartbeats of his Pack. They were here, somewhere, and there weren’t exactly a lot of places to hide. They all beat a steady, normal, relaxed pace.

Except one.

Stiles’ heart rate was distressingly elevated, but he still couldn’t see him!

“Stiles!” He called out, voice sounding too loud in the otherwise quiet space.

The soft sound of laughter, vague and indistinct, filtered through the loft. He couldn’t pinpoint where it was coming from and it made him want to growl because it wasn’t Stiles’ laugh. His hackles were up, and he wanted whatever was happening to stop. Stiles’ heart had kicked up another notch when Derek had called for him, and he could feel the fear coming off the bond in sick, gut clenching waves.

“You’d think he’d be better than this.” Lydia’s sweet tone echoed.

More haunting laughter. “Yeah, he’s Derek ‘I’m the Alpha’ Hale. Doesn’t that mean he’s supposed to know what he’s doing?” Jackson sneered.

“When has that ever actually been the case?” Peter drawled.

“Enough!” Derek yelled. He had no idea what was going on, but if he didn’t find Stiles soon, he was going to start breaking shit.

“Ooh. I think that hit a nerve.” Isaac’s voice had that cruel edge it had developed right after he’d been turned, the one that had tempered out once he’d found his anchor, much to Derek’s relief.

“Should we go for another? I want to see what he looks like broken.” Erica giggled.

Derek’s eyes flashed red, he could feel it. He was losing control a little in the face of this unknown threat. There had to be something going on, something using his Pack, or at least... he hoped.

He felt his fangs descend when Stiles’ heart kicked up again, and fervently continued his search of the first floor.

More laughter, deeper, this time. “Stiles has taught you nothing.” Scott taunted him. “If this were a horror movie, you’d be dead, Derek.”

The laughter continued, drowning out Derek’s snarl. What was it that Stiles always said about the people in horror movies?

They never look up...

Derek whipped his head up and nearly fell on his ass in surprise and horror.

Bathed in the moonlight streaming in from the windows, Stiles was strung up on the railing with wire digging into his arms and chest, legs dangling in open air; he was bloody, beaten, trapped, and gagged. His eyes tracked Derek as he struggled to regain his equilibrium, begging, pleading with him for something. Derek didn’t know what; to save him, to save himself?

He started for the stairs, but felt like he was moving through molasses, unable to move as fast enough. As he struggled, his Pack emerged from the shadows to stand next to Stiles. The betas were wolfed out, and Lydia was stirring something in her hands as she moved forward.

“What are you doing!” He demanded, furious and confused and terrified.

Lydia smirked at him prettily, but didn’t answer. Instead she leaned down and kissed Stiles’ bloody cheek before corking the bottle and breaking it against the banister. The self-igniting Molotov Cocktail soaked into Stiles’ clothes and skin, setting him aflame and not even the gag was enough to block out his pained screams.

Derek jolted awake with the fading echoes of Stiles’ scream in his head. Panting heavily he looked around and saw that he was in Stiles’ room, in his bed, with Stiles right there next to him.

A dream. Just a dream. Derek shuddered and shook out the remnants of it from his fur.

“You okay?” Stiles grumbled, sleep thick in his voice. “That sounded like one hell of a dream."

A nightmare more like.

Derek turned and saw that Stiles was awake. Unharmed, whole, and healthy. He couldn’t help himself; Derek shifted back to his human self and pulled Stiles to him, heedless of his squawk of surprise.

“Derek, man, you okay; what’s wrong? And you do realize you’re naked right?” Stiles stuttered a bit, though he relaxed enough to wrap his arms around Derek.

Derek breathed in his scent, reminding himself that there was no blood, no fire. Except... there was something. A hint of blood and of hurt. Derek suddenly remembered the Fae that had been trying to drain Stiles earlier. Had that really only been a few hours ago?

“What do you remember?” He asked, already shifting his weight on the bed so he would be able to get a look at the tattoo.

“Uh... the sirens and Scott and then passing out. Did I miss something? Dude, those are my covers--” Stiles protested, surprised when Derek yanked them off, throwing them to the floor in his haste.

Derek put a firm hand on Stiles’ shoulder, pushing him down a little as he set his attention to the tattoo. When Stiles moved where he wanted him, Derek pulled his shirt up a little and tugged gently at his pants until the tattoo was visible. Still red and irritated. He got a bit closer and inhaled, getting a good dose of Stiles but mingled with that hint of blood that he’d caught earlier.

It was then that he noticed Stiles’ slightly elevated heartbeat and the little hitch in his breath. He looked over to him and saw that Stiles’ eyes were lust dark and a little flush was making its way from his cheeks down his neck to disappear under the collar of his shirt. The sight of him like that made Derek aware of the musk of Stiles’ scent, tantalizingly close. He closed his eyes and breathed it in again, savoring the heartier scent of arousal and just the quintessential Stilesness.

“Derek.” Anticipation made Stiles’ voice low and thready.

Derek smirked, pleased with the tone. He decided that a thorough examination was in order, just to make really sure that Stiles was okay.

He was aware of his own growing erection as he hooked his fingers into the waist of Stiles’ pants and started to remove them. When he met resistance, he pulled the rest of the zipper down with his teeth.

“Oh my God.” Stiles squirmed a little, canting his hips up unconsciously, but it was enough for Derek to get the insufferable fabric off. When they were though, Stiles did something Derek wasn’t expecting. He pulled on Derek’s arms, guiding him up. Derek followed, unwilling to do anything Stiles didn’t want. He had to be sure that this wasn’t too much or too fast.

Stiles tugged him down for a kiss. Derek complied agreeably. He enjoyed savoring the taste of Stiles, something so enticing and different than anything else he’d ever tasted. It was always enough to fill Derek with that heart stuttering emotion that he’d avoided at first, tried to ignore until he just couldn’t anymore. Didn’t want to anymore. It was a gift, Stiles was a gift, and he couldn’t get enough.

Stiles deepened the kiss first this time, much to Derek’s pleasant surprise. He threw himself into the kiss, severely inhibiting Derek’s higher thought processes. While he was distracted, Stiles adjusted them so that Derek wound up on his back with Stiles plastered atop him. Derek decided that there was still far too much fabric on Stiles. He needed to feel his skin against his own.

Seemingly reading his mind, Stiles broke the kiss long enough to get his shirt off before plunging in once again. Derek pulled him close, savoring the heat of his lithe body against his. Stiles’ hands began to rove, touching as much as he could. Those hands were stars in a number of Derek’s fantasies.

“My turn.” Stiles whispered against his jaw before trailing kisses down.

Derek forced himself to keep breathing as Stiles worked that clever mouth over his nipple and sides, taking his time and exploring with tongue and teeth and lips and still with those hands. He was at Stiles’ mercy in that moment, pliant and not regretting a second of it.

Lower and lower he traveled, unerringly finding all of Derek’s erogenous zones, making him breathe heavily and muscles to become slightly twitchy. When Stiles brushed his nose along the thatch of hair at the base of Derek’s cock, Derek’s hands found their way into Stiles’ hair, much to his mate’s apparent amusement. The chuckle vibrated in Stiles’ throat, and through to Derek’s cock as a slight tingling sensation since it was nestled up against Stiles’ neck as he breathed in Derek’s scent.

It was enough to have Derek grip Stiles’ hair probably a bit harder than he should have, and he released him immediately when Stiles let out a hiss.

Stiles’ hand caught his wrist as he moved away. “Don’t. Good hiss. Promise.”

Gingerly, Derek put his hand back into Stiles’ hair, massaging at the scalp in a half apology. Stiles went back to his exploration, moving up a little to suck a mark into Derek’s hip. He could feel the blood vessels breaking and coloring his skin, however temporary, and he growled in pleasure. Stiles’ wicked smirk made him pull him up so that he could kiss it off his face.

Derek noticed that at some point Stiles had removed his own boxers because now they were both quite naked and pressed tightly together. They both let out an involuntary, surprised gasp when their erections rubbed against each other.

“That... can I...? Again?” Stiles panted.

Derek nodded, already bracing himself to rut against Stiles again to find that glorious friction. Stiles cautiously shifted his hips against Derek’s, the slide and drag of too dry skin was both torture and magnificent. Derek brought a hand up to Stiles’ jaw, guiding him down for a kiss as he continued to move. When Stiles broke away after several salacious kisses, Derek shifted his hand just so, so that his fingers found their way to Stiles’ lips. He took them in without further prompting and Derek was treated to warm, wet suction.

After a little while Derek judged there to be a sufficient gather of saliva and removed his finger, with some reluctance. He shifted so that there was enough space for his hand and then wrapped it around them both, pulling with a firm grip.

The soft string of curses that Stiles had been muttering under his breath--just barely audible to werewolf ears--picked up a few decibels at the new stimulation.

“Oh, fuck, God Derek; this... might be embarrassingly short.” Stiles moaned, wrecked.

Derek already felt the growing crest of his own orgasm building; hearing Stiles, smelling him, and finally feeling him for longer than a few brief seconds was only hastening its progress. He groaned a few choice curses of his own, and if pressed later, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to recall what they were once they were past his lips and teasing along Stiles’.

“Nephew, I’m giving you a little advanced warning,” Peter’s voice trickled through the lust haze in Derek’s mind, “because I like my internal organs to be internal.”

Derek’s growl was one of immense frustration and no small amount vengeful intent as he stopped the evening's rather more enjoyable activities. “This had better be really important, Peter.”

“Life or death, in fact.” Peter told him.

“Peter?” Stiles snapped to attention. “Uncle Bad-Touch is here?”

Derek looked at him questioningly. He knew Stiles didn’t trust or like Peter, but he hadn’t heard that particular nickname before. “Almost here.” Derek answered Stiles question, though he deeply desired to have his own answered.

Stiles scrambled off him, leaving Derek suddenly cold by his absence. He took no more than a second to mourn the loss before getting to his feet and finding the clothes that the sheriff had brought up earlier. He and Stiles were dressed haphazardly in sweats and t-shirts when Peter leapt up to the window and let himself in.

“This had better be really, really important.” Stiles demanded.

“Would I interrupt your marital bliss for anything less?”

Derek scowled at him, low, warning growl bubbling in his chest. “You said it was life or death; stop wasting time.”

“Patience is a virtue, Nephew, but I can see you’re not in the mood for pleasantries. Our newest pup is in some need of assistance; seems Jackson attacked him in his sleep.”

“He’s not healing?” Stiles asked, already following them out the window.

“Injuries he sustained? Be grateful he isn’t dead already.” Peter replied.

Once in the Camaro, Derek burned rubber getting to the loft. It wasn’t a terribly long drive to begin with, but Derek made it in even less time than normal since he didn’t go below 60mph the entire drive.

“How’s Jackson?” Stiles asked.

“Not talking.” Peter informed him. “Which is a nice change.”

Stiles took off as soon as the car was slowed enough for him to leave without hurting himself. Derek took the required time to park and turn off the engine before following. In unspoken agreement, Stiles went to Jackson, and Derek went to Danny as soon as the door was open.

Bad as the damage was, it could have been worse. While slow, his wolf healing was doing its job and mending the damage. There were herbs that could help it along, so Derek summoned Erica over.

“Top shelf in the far right cabinet there’s a box; get it for me.”

Erica hurried to fetch it. “What is it?”

“Herbs that’ll speed the healing process.” Derek took the box from Scott and began crushing a few stalks between his hands. When he had a good paste, he applied it to the worst of the lacerations. He waited to see the herbs begin their work before turning to her. “What happened?”

“Don’t know. Woke up to Danny crying out and Jackson shouting.” Erica explained. “Boyd and Isaac are watching him now, make sure he doesn’t attack again.”

“Won’t.” Danny grunted. “Not... his fault.”

Derek hushed him gently, “Save your strength.”

Danny healed, the herbal boost enough to tip the balance in favor of his natural wolf abilities to finally start making real headway into the restoration of his body. Derek stayed with him through it, lending his beta what strength he could in his recovery. It didn’t take more than an hour before he was back to normal. The tension in the room dropped when Danny got back on his feet, nodding his thanks to Derek.

“It wasn’t his fault.” Danny insisted. “I heard him thrashing around and tried to wake him up. Lesson learned.”

Derek frowned a little. A violent reaction to being shaken out of a nightmare wasn’t something he’d consider abnormal, though certainly not the level to which Jackson obviously had. “Did he say anything?”

“Not a peep.” Erica shook her head. “Until Stiles got to him, anyway.”

Derek hadn’t heard Stiles or Jackson. He focused a little and realized he couldn’t hear their heartbeats either. Silencing glyph. He sighed. Derek disliked that little trick, but if it meant that Jackson talked to Stiles, he’d suck it up.

“Is he normally violent when someone wakes him up?” Derek admitted to not knowing. Jackson wasn’t exactly a ray of sunshine in the morning, but Derek hadn’t ever tried to physically wake him up, so he didn’t know if Danny just got really unlucky or if there was something else going on.

Given their luck and the recent influx of activity? Derek leaned more toward Something Else.

“Jackson’s not like that. He’s only ever taken shit out on himself; never someone else.” Danny insisted.

“Except when he was the kanima.” Erica challenged.

Derek shook his head. “He’s not anymore. And that’s not something you relapse back into.”

“What if it’s like PTSD?” Isaac offered, coming down the stairs to join them. “Like soldiers dreaming of combat, wake up disoriented, violent.”

Derek nodded. “Maybe. We’ll see what Stiles can get out of him.”

When Stiles and Jackson came down the stairs, Boyd following, eyes on Jackson the whole way, Stiles confirmed that it was in fact as Isaac had suggested. Jackson had had a nightmare about being the kanima, had reacted poorly to being woken up. Jackson still didn’t seem eager to talk, though, and only offered a few--but sincere--words of apology.

It became a rule then, that if it could be helped, no one was to try and wake up a wolf having a nightmare. Jackson wasn’t the only one of them with haunting memories, and while it hadn’t happened before, Derek and Stiles agreed that it could happen to any of them.

As soon as they all agreed that there were no hard feelings, no mistrust, no blame or accusations, Stiles sat them all down in the living room and popped in Firefly.

“Pack bonding is always a good idea after near death experiences.” He smirked.

“Dude.” Jackson snipped.

Stiles turned to the betas and their accusing faces. “Too soon?”

“Too soon.”

Derek hid his smirk behind his best poker face and watched Stiles make a face in apology before hitting play on the DVD. Poorly timed jokes aside, Stiles was right that it was a good time for the Pack to bond. Nip any residual negativity in the bud before it could take serious root.

When Stiles took a seat on the couch with the betas, Derek was a little surprised. Usually Stiles sat near or on top of him when they were all gathered like this. He did smirk this time as he watched Stiles lounge across four laps of disgruntled betas. When he’d finally stopped shifting, Derek saw that the betas had all relaxed and given in to Stiles’ easy nature and silliness. His mate shot him a quick wink and Derek gave him a minute nod of thanks for soothing ruffled feathers.

They watched Firefly until dawn. With the sun, though, came the farewells and see you soons that Derek normally avoided or found awkward. It seemed everyone was simply too tired to really give a shit about it at the moment. Sleepy handshakes and hugs were doled out and the betas shuffled off to their beds--air mattresses for the most part--and collapsed, dead to the world. Derek and Stiles went to the bed upstairs to pass out.

Derek shucked off his shirt and jeans as Stiles sent his dad a text saying where he was. When Stiles finally joined him on the bed, Derek pulled him in close and buried his nose in his hair before succumbing to sleep.

Chapter Text

Stiles was eased into consciousness with the feel of sexy stubble on his neck. “Mmf... D’rek.” He slurred, not yet fully awake.

“You should wake up.” Derek murmured in his ear.

Brain not fully online, Stiles responded without his normal filter to someone giving him an order. “Make me.”

The groan was silent, but Stiles felt it reverberate in the body against his back. “Could you try to sound a little less like a child when I’m trying to seduce you?”

Stiles’ brain finally kicked into gear, and he rolled onto his back and then continued his momentum so that he wound up on top. Derek quirked an eyebrow at him. “What about the betas?”

The grin that spread across Derek’s face matched the lazy pace of his hands as they made their way up Stiles’ sides. “Gone to breakfast. They seemed pretty adamant about not being here when you woke up.”

“Can’t imagine why.” Stiles arched under Derek’s hands.

“Something about group bonding I think.” Derek deadpanned as he removed Stiles’ shirt.

Stiles smiled brightly. “Knew they’d catch on to it eventually.”

Derek sat up, keeping firm hands on Stiles hips, and kissed him slowly. Stiles was all about the lovely, sweet, slow kissing normally. But they’d been so close last night that Stiles still ached from the sudden, tire-screeching halt they’d put the evening’s festivities. He was done with interruptions. He allowed the slow kissing for a few seconds, but urgent tugging on Derek’s (deliciously soft) hair was enough encouragement for Derek to deepen the kiss.

There was pesky, annoying fabric where there shouldn’t be. Stiles wasn’t in a good position to get rid of it though. While Stiles was debating with himself on exactly how to shimmy them both out of their boxers, Derek inhaled deeply at his neck and released a little disgruntled noise on the exhale.

Stiles frowned. “Something wrong?”

“You smell like the betas.”

That made sense. He’d been sprawled across them all at some point or another during the Firefly marathon.

And there was an idea.

An idea that didn’t involve clothes.

“I suppose I could take a shower.” He suggested casually, though he was sure the rapid beating of his heart gave away his excitement. “I should warn you though: I’m notorious for using all the hot water.”

“I can see how that would be a problem for anyone showering after you.”

“Well, I suppose you could shower first.” Stiles allowed, though a smile threatened to break his poker face. “But, two showers, one after another? I feel like we’d be straining your water bill.”

“Not very ecological either.” Derek agreed seriously.

“Very true.” Stiles wrapped his arms around Derek’s neck. “Seems like a bit of a waste saving the town if we’re just going to ruin it with poor water rationing.”

“Only one thing for it, I guess.” Derek sighed, his smile creeping at the edges of his mouth. He hefted Stiles up as he stood from the bed, and Stiles obediently wrapped his legs around Derek’s waist.

Stiles kicked the bathroom door shut as soon as they were inside, and Derek set him down on the sink counter so that he could run his hands over his skin as he kissed him. Stiles’ hands were free now that he didn’t have to cling--not that he really had to, to begin with--and made fast work of Derek’s boxer briefs. Once they were off, he got a good handful of glorious ass and squeezed. It was as absolutely fabulous as he’d imagined staring at it clad in scandalously tight denim.

“Grab ass.”

Stiles scoffed. “You would too if presented with this magnificent ass. Such an opportunity is not to be squandered.”

Derek hummed, seemingly in agreement, before manhandling Stiles against the door. As he kissed him breathless, one hand kept Stiles in place while the other tore off his underwear. Literally. It was in pieces on the floor now. Obviously pleased with himself, Derek moved both hands to grasp Stiles’ ass. He groaned in pleasure as Derek’s warm, strong hands kneaded firmly at the muscle, arching his hips unconsciously.

The tantalizingly familiar touch of skin on skin as their dicks brushed with the movement had both of them gasping. Derek’s quickly turned into a hungry growl.

“Wall--or well, door sex, I suppose--is good too.” Stiles muttered, eyes rolling back as he shifted his hips again to get more of that smooth drag.

Suddenly, he was not against the door. Reflexively, he put his arms around Derek’s shoulders as the werewolf moved them. He heard the taps being turned and then the shower pour water against the wall. Stiles yelped a little in surprise when Derek stepped into the spray.

Stiles let go of Derek’s waist so that he could stand on his own. Less risk of the both of them toppling over in the water. Besides, this was his chance to explore Derek in all his naked glory.

With his hands no longer full of Stiles, Derek grabbed the soap and began running it over Stiles’ shoulders. “I was serious when I said you smelled like the betas.”

Stiles smirked. “By all means.” He spread his arms wide, inviting Derek to run his hands over every inch.

As heated as their kissing and grinding had been just seconds earlier, Derek took his time to run the soap over Stiles’ skin. His face was serious, not grim, but intent. Focused. Stiles allowed the attention, hoping that he would be able to return the favor, and truly enjoying himself.

That kind of focus was... not anything he was used to. When he’d been strapped down and at the mercies of Kali and Cora, they’d looked at him like a bug under a microscope, a thing to be taken apart and examined. This was not that. This was much like that first time, when they’d acknowledged their attraction and desire to be with the other, but instead of just the scars, Derek was paying sweet attention to every inch of skin with hands and lips.

It was intimate in a way that nothing else really had been.

Goosebumps drifted across his body following the path of Derek’s attention, and when Derek drew a path down his spine, Stiles channeled his magic. He knew that Derek liked seeing the wards under his skin. His protection, his armor, his declaration of who and what he was proudly on display, and yet also just for him. After all, Stiles didn’t exactly walk around shirtless like the others seemed to.

Derek’s arms wrapped around his waist, still absently scrubbing, and Derek moved up close behind Stiles. He could feel Derek’s--rather impressive--cock slide up against his ass. Stiles moved against him, enjoying the feel of Derek heavy and warm against him. One of Derek’s hands slid down to grasp Stiles’ erection and gave it a few teasing strokes while the other kept up the task of cleaning.

“Derek...” Stiles whispered, forcing himself to not beg. It was really difficult though, when he wouldn’t up the pace of his strokes and kept Stiles from moving too much on his own. It was all amazing, but he needed more.

“Yes, Stiles?” Derek’s voice was unfairly low and rumbly and made Stiles a little weak in the knees.

He decided to give in to his wobbly knees and slowly dropped, sadly removing himself from Derek’s grip, but he did enjoy the feel of Derek’s cock as it slid against his spine as he knelt down. When he was down, he turned around, eyes closed and nuzzled a bit at Derek’s hipbone to buy himself some time.

He’d never done this before.

“Stiles.” Derek now sounded a little more like Stiles felt.

“I haven’t... done this before.” Stiles confessed into the skin of Derek’s hip. “But I want to try.”

A hand found its way into Stiles’ hair. “Tell me if you need me to do something.”

Stiles peered up at him. “I should be telling you that, but, uh... w-warn me? I guess? And tell me if I do something wrong.”

Derek nodded. “No teeth.”

Permission granted, Stiles took a deep breath and moved. He mouthed a little at the skin on his pelvis, working his way gradually toward Derek’s cock. When he reached it, Stiles took the time to get... familiar with it. He resisted the urge to just take him in his mouth right away, because as tempting as it was, Stiles guessed that he probably would need to work up to that point. Choking was unattractive and unpleasant, after all.

So he took his time.

Lips first. He didn’t so much kiss as ghost his lips over the skin. He rather enjoyed the smooth skin of Derek’s cock, and being this close meant that he got a heady whiff of Derek; Stiles imagined it was a bit like how the wolves smelled all the time. The powerful, overwhelming scent of Derek saturated his sense of smell, and he liked it. A lot. He liked Derek’s scent pretty much always, but, being human, he could never get it like this.

He licked his lips, moisturizing them so that they would glide easier, but his tongue caught a bit of Derek too. The taste was a bit different than the rest of his skin. Muskier, saltier, maybe. Not at all unpleasant. Neither was the shudder that ran through Derek unpleasant. Stiles smirked, smug. He went back to lightly brushing his lips along the shaft, though he made sure that when he wetted them, that his tongue also got Derek.

When the grip on Stiles’ hair loosened a bit as Derek relaxed, enjoying the gentle, easy ghosting of lips and occasional tongue, Stiles surprised him with a long lick from base to head, grinning to himself when the hand tightened again. He discovered that the skin there had more of that saltiness to it, and that Derek was uncut.

A part of his brain told him that made sense considering he was born a wolf, so circumcision seemed... potentially impossible. He made a mental note to ask about that later.

He shifted his focus back to the matter at hand.

He slipped the tip of his tongue under the foreskin and ran it along the sensitive, covered skin. After two or three swipes of his tongue, Stiles moved the rest of the foreskin back with his hand and took the head into his mouth. He made sure not to scrape his teeth against it as he moved. He didn’t take more than the head, but he lavished it with his swirling tongue. When he slipped it into the slit, lapping up the precum that gathered there, Derek gasped quietly above him and Stiles grinned.

He took the time to get used to the taste and feel of Derek in his mouth--and how not to accidentally use teeth--before he went deeper. While he hadn’t ever done this before, he had done research on how, research that wasn’t just porn, and he knew that he wouldn’t be able to take all of him right away. Stiles was under no delusions of pornstardom; that shit takes practice and control over one’s gag reflex. He compensated by using his hand to cover what he couldn’t take in his mouth.

The combination seemed to work well for Derek, judging by the strong grip in Stiles’ hair.

Stiles found that, despite the current uncomfortable position of his knees, he rather enjoyed this. The taste, smell, and feel of Derek was intoxicating. He was already achingly hard, and this was only making him more so. He resisted touching himself for the moment, though, because he wanted to focus on Derek.

He felt the little, subdued shift of Derek’s hips as he resisted fucking Stiles’ mouth. To torture him a little, Stiles removed his hand and then went agonizingly slow as deep as he could, and then held himself there for a few beats. It wasn’t all the way, but he promised himself that he’d practice until he could. He hummed, pleased with the thought.

“God, Stiles.” Derek moaned, throwing his other hand on the wall to brace himself.

Now that he knew his limit, Stiles moved a bit faster as he continued. He used his hand to stimulate the part of the shaft he couldn’t take, and placed his other hand on Derek’s hip. He rubbed his thumb along the soft, sensitive skin as he gained confidence in what he was doing.

Not long after Stiles really picked up a steady rhythm, Derek pulled him up. “Not gonna last... like that.”

Stiles smirked, immensely pleased with himself. “I thought that was the point.”

Derek let out a breathy little chuckle. “You said to warn you.”

“Yeah, warn me, not remove me.” Stiles sort of pouted. He was too busy smiling at Derek’s pleased, nearly blissed out face to be truly petulant.

Derek wrapped a firm hand around the both of them and gave a few, strong, heady strokes. “Better?”

Stiles was unable to vocalize beyond incoherent muttering, but Derek seemed to understand well enough. He held one arm wrapped around Stiles’ waist to keep him upright while the other worked the both of them quickly toward their fantastic, glorious, far-too-often denied end. Stiles felt his orgasm building, unable and absolutely unwilling to stop it. He clung desperately to Derek’s shoulders, kissing haphazardly at his neck and chest--really whatever he could reach--and murmured a string of profanities and praises between gasps and moans. Derek responded mostly in kind, though he seemed in just a little better control of his faculties than Stiles.

When he finally fell fabulously over the edge, he bit Derek’s shoulder to muffle the cry of pleasure that tore itself from his throat. Derek growled as Stiles’ teeth sunk into his skin and Stiles could feel him spill onto their stomachs in response.

The both of them stood there panting for a few moments.

“That...” Stiles smirked as the mark he’d left on Derek’s neck stitched itself back together, “I have no words.”

A richly dark chuckle from Derek echoed in the bathroom, “That’s a first.”

“Hey now. I could be motivated to come up with a few choice paragraphs. I can be rather verbose--”

Derek kissed him gently, sweetly, and it was only the arm around his waist that kept him standing. Stiles let the kiss stay as it was, no urgency, and enjoyed the moment.

When they were clean and dressed, Derek followed him down the stairs to the kitchen to make a pot of coffee while Stiles fried up some bacon and eggs for breakfast. They were able to enjoy a few minutes of tasty breakfast before the Pack returned with a few extras.

“Leeloo!” Stiles gave her a hug and offered the bacon that Derek hadn’t had the chance to devour.

She declined with a wave. “Ate with the betas.”

“Is this a business meeting or just for funsies?” Stiles asked, handing the bacon off to Derek.

“Well, it started out as business,” she allowed, “but I told the others everything when they told me you were... occupied.” She smirked.

Stiles did not blush. Nope. Not at all.

“That reminds me.” Lydia spoke up, apparently also having met the betas for breakfast, “school starts in a week, Stiles. The two of you need to be seen in public together.”

Stiles heard Derek harumph behind him and it took a bit of control not to lose his poker face. He knew it wasn’t that Derek didn’t want to be seen with Stiles, it was more that it seemed to be dictated by Lydia. Stiles admitted that it wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t like he wasn’t going to do it anyway. There was just one thing about her plan that bothered him a bit.

“You know I’m not gay.” Stiles told her. “Bisexual is a real thing, Lyds. I like the ladies too, obviously.”

She just rolled her eyes. “I’m aware. However, the tiny minds at our high school are not going to be able to grasp that as easily as ‘gay best friend.’ It’s a sad failing of the public school system and society in general.”

Stiles allowed that with a grimace.

Lydia continued. “Besides. You’re not planning on dating anyone else, so--”

“Yeah, aren’t you two like, werewolf married?” Scott interrupted.

Stiles nearly spat out his mouthful of coffee. “Um, no. Not a thing. That is not a thing that exists.”

Scott looked an odd mix between uncomfortable and confusedly determined. “But, I mean. It is more than just dating. You can’t tell me it isn’t; we felt it when you two,” he grimaced but powered through, “...kissed.”

"He means 'had sex'." Peter seemed far too amused.

Derek caught Stiles’ mug before it hit the floor. “What? Wait, what?

Derek set the mug on the counter, poker face as epic as Stiles had ever seen it. “You haven’t been blocking them?”

What?

“Is that a thing?” Boyd asked. “Can that be a thing?”

“Yes please.” Isaac requested.

“Don’t listen to them, Batman.” Erica consoled, before a grin split her concerned face. “I’ve been enjoying it.”

Stiles glared at Erica, but she just smiled cheekily and cackled.

“I think it’s time we had a lesson on werewolf culture.” Peter drawled.

“You volunteering?” Derek asked.

“Of course not.” Peter frowned. “I’d make a horrible teacher.”

“No arguments here.” Scott glared.

Stiles just let it all slide over him as a thought had started to crawl its way up his spine, leaving a cold trail behind in its wake. “Uh, guys.”

“Beggars can’t be choosers Scott. You may be stuck with me, if Derek won’t step up to the plate.” Peter grinned.

“It hasn’t been a priority.” Derek snapped.

“Seriously, guys. Important question.” Stiles tried again.

“I admit to being curious.” Danny offered. “Can we add it to our lessons?”

“For the love of-- Lydia!” Stiles gave up.

All heads turned to him.

“Did you feel it too?”

She smirked. “Worried your old crush knows you’ve moved on?”

“No. More worried that if you felt it, that means my dad did too.”

Derek’s mug hit the floor.

“Hmm...” Lydia put on her fake pensive face.

“Not the time for teasing, Lyds.” Stiles pleaded.

“Well...”

“I’m going to get shot.” Derek muttered.

“Stop yanking their chains, Lydia.” Leeloo sighed. “Just tell them.”

“No. You’re safe.” Lydia rolled her eyes. “Pretty sure it’s just a wolf thing.”

“Fantastic.” Stiles relaxed, putting his head on the countertop.

“I’m serious though; you two have a week to solidify to the public that you’re together. That means at least two, preferably three or four dates out in public where people from school will see you.” Lydia insisted.

Stiles glared up at her. “Is this really your biggest priority right now?”

“Yes.” She stated. “This isn’t just for me, you know. We all have to be seen out in public when there isn’t a disaster. Our image is... not the greatest at the moment and if we want people on our side instead of pointing fingers when things inevitably hit the fan, we need a better image.”

“The sheriff said pretty much the same thing.” Erica added, agreeing with Lydia, who smiled at her.

Derek sighed but nodded. “Fine. For the foreseeable future this will be something we work on. In part, this should include academics. No more failing classes.”

“I’ve been doing good all summer.” Scott protested. “Passed all my summer classes.”

“You have.” Stiles agreed. “But I don’t think this semester will be as easy as the summer was. We’ll all need to keep on top of our homework as best we can. Study sessions, group homework nights, the works.”

“Speaking of school...” Erica started. “I don’t... want to go back.”

“You can’t drop out--” Derek shook his head.

“I don’t want to drop out Derek, but I can’t go back to that school! I can’t. There’s no repairing my image. I will always be the freak, the epileptic. And after this? The going missing? It’s only going to get worse.”

“There are other high schools in Beacon Hills.” Stiles suggested after a beat. “She could go to Memorial.”

“If she transfers, so do I.” Boyd put in. “I’m not leaving her alone in a new school.”

“Actually.” Stiles began before Derek could potentially object. “This is a good idea. It fits in nicely with another plan I was working on.”

Derek rubbed his temples. “You know that it isn’t actually up to me. You have to clear this with your parents when you go back.”

“Plan? What plan?” Lydia asked.

Lydia pulled Stiles aside while Derek spoke with Erica and Boyd about their parents. “I said it before that stuff won’t always happen in the forest. When it does spill over we’ll need a reasonable, plausible excuse for everything that happens, right? So I got to thinking. What about a prank war.”

“A prank war?”

“Between Beacon Hills High and Memorial High. Anything weird would be more easily attributed to the prank war than to werewolves and creatures of the night.”

Lydia’s brain seemed to kick into overdrive and she nodded along. “Right. That’s good, I mean it’ll be a stretch, but no, we can work with that. There will have to be actual pranks to kick it off, too, and we can treat those like training in stealth.”

“Don’t get caught.”

“Leave no evidence.”

“Points for originality.”

“And for execution.”

“No collateral damage though.”

“I think this could work well.” Lydia agreed.

“I had wondered how to get Memorial in on it, but if Erica and Boyd are transferring, that eliminates the problem.”

“We still don’t know for sure.” Derek interrupted. “But if we can get their families to agree, then I don’t see a problem.”

“Fabulous.” Lydia grinned. “Now, Leeloo and I are going to take Stiles while you all do your wolf training thing, and we’ll meet you back here in time for your date tonight.” She grabbed Stiles under one arm, Leeloo grabbed him by the other and they walked him towards the door despite his surprised protests.

“I object! Manhandling! Abduction! I need an adult!” Stiles heard the Pack laugh at him as he was forced out of the door.

On the way back to Stiles’ house, Leeloo brought him up to speed on what she'd originally come over to tell him. The Elders had strengthened the border so that there shouldn't be any more issues with Fae, except for the ones already living on this side of the border. She didn't expect them to be too big of an problem though, since they were much better at laying low. Once business was done, however, and they'd reached the house, Lydia sat him down on the bed before beginning her hunt for all the clothes she’d bought him, none of which he’d worn yet. Leeloo meanwhile, began looking at him very calculatingly. It made Stiles a bit nervous.

“What’s up, Leeloo?”

“Debating different hairstyles. Stay still.” She informed him before grabbing him by the jaw and moving him about.

“I don’t have enough hair--”

“Nonsense.” Lydia snapped.”You have thankfully abandoned that buzz you insisted on wearing for the last decade, and now have something to actually work with. Now sit still and let her do her job.”

“What is going on here?” The sheriff poked his head in.

“Dad! Save me!”

“Don’t listen to him Mr. S.” Leeloo grinned. “We’re just getting him ready for his date.”

“Oh Lord.” The sheriff rolled his eyes. “Don’t break him.”

“Have a nice day at work!”

“Traitor!”

His dad just chuckled as he made his way down the stairs.

“You’re dad is pretty fantastic Stiles.” Leeloo told him seriously. “You’re really, very lucky.”

“I know.” He sighed. “And it’s easier now that he’s in on what’s been happening.”

“Even before then, though.” Leeloo shook her head. “He was supportive of you and your choices. Respected them. Even if he didn’t understand them.”

Stiles caught her hands, sensing there was more to this than just his relationship with his dad. “Leeloo... We don’t ever... talk about what it’s like back home, but if you ever need to, or just want to. I mean, I’m here for you.”

“Stiles,” she smiled, but shook her head, “that’s not home. This, here with you and your Pack. This is home.”

“It’s your Pack too.” Stiles told her firmly.

Leeloo bumped their heads together lightly and squeezed his hands. When she pulled away, she had collected herself and gone back to analyzing his hair. Behind him, Lydia tossed something on the bed and moved to stand next to her. Under the power of both their full attentions, Stiles felt a bit like squirming.

“Nothing too drastic, but we could spike it a little. Give it definition.” Lydia suggested.

Leeloo nodded. “I was just thinking the same thing. A little lift a little shape, he should be golden.”

“I have product in my purse.”

“Of course you do.” Stiles grumbled.

Leeloo flicked him on the forehead. “We’re doing you a favor. You should be grateful.”

“Ow.”

“Alright. Shower, put this on, and then we’ll do your hair, and if you complain one more time we’ll do your nails and make-up too.” Lydia smiled sweetly.

Stiles gaped at her betrayed and offended before reaching behind him to pick up the clothes she’d selected. He grabbed the clothes so he could change in the bathroom after the shower in order to preserve some of his remaining dignity. When he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror on his way out, he noticed a little extra color that he hadn’t realized was there.

“Uh, guys.” Stiles came back into his room. “Maybe a scarf? Or,” he winced, “concealer?”

“Why?”

He gestured grandly to the hickeys he was sporting which were now proudly on display.

“No.” Lydia smirked. “They are just as much a part of the outfit as the clothes.”

“Ooh, those took effort.” Leeloo observed, running a finger over the one just below his ear. “You shouldn’t bruise so easily nowadays.”

“Exactly.” Lydia was absolute evil. Obviously. “Why would you want to cover up all of Derek’s hard work?”

Stiles glared at her critically. “This is why you want the date to be tonight. So the bruises will still be there.”

“Brilliant deduction.” She guided him over to the bed and sat him down on the edge. “Now, don’t move.”

Leeloo and Lydia took the next thirty minutes working with a blowdryer--they pulled from Stiles had no idea where--a hair brush, a comb, and a mystery jar of product to get his hair into an acceptable style. Stiles wasn’t sure his head had ever had so much attention before. They declared themselves finished and handed him a hand mirror, again from somewhere Stiles had no idea.

He looked at himself and the new style. “Eee! Witchcraft!”

“Really Stilinski?”

“It’s defying gravity, how--”

“Don’t finish that sentence. You know better.”

Stiles grumbled a little, but didn’t vocalize anything coherent.

When they decreed him fit to be seen, Lydia sent a text to someone, and then they ushered him out the door. They brought him back to Derek’s loft and escorted him up the stairs in order to make the big reveal. Stiles humored them because it was easier not to argue.

And because, secretly, Derek wasn’t the only one who liked to make an entrance.

The two-tone red baseball tshirt was tighter than Stiles normally wore his clothes, but he did admit that it looked good. Lydia had insisted the three buttons at the collar remain unbuttoned. The black jeans were new and snug, and while they did great things for his ass, he began to wonder the wisdom of wearing them all the time like Derek seemed to. Red Converse finished the look, and he had to give it to the girls: whether due to witchcraft or the magic of hair products, he rocked the new ‘do.

“So, I don’t know about you,” Stiles sauntered in, idly swinging the baseball bat he’d grabbed from his closet, “but I actually used to be pretty good at this.” He hoisted the bat up to rest on his shoulders, arms draping off either end. “Up for few rounds at the batting cages?”

Erica wolf whistled. Stiles ignored her, eyes focused on Derek who was still taking in the image presented in front of him. Stiles forced himself to remain aloof while Derek’s eyes lingered on him, examined him. When Derek finally met his gaze and smirked lightly, Stiles’ grin broadened into something mischievous.

“You think you can keep up with a wolf, Stilinski?” Derek teased.

“I have a few tricks up my sleeves. My days of falling behind in physical activities to smartass wolves are over.”

Derek stalked over to him until he could place his hands on the bat, trapping Stiles between his arms. “Prove it.”

Stiles didn’t break eye contact. “Pretty sure I already did.”

“Ugh, God. It’s like watching Danny’s parents.” Jackson groaned, effectively ruining the moment.

Stiles and Derek were amused more than anything though. The bat slid easily off his shoulder as they began to leave. Derek threw over his shoulder that they should keep practicing, leaving Scott in charge to make sure they kept at it. Stiles would have told him it was a bad plan, but Scott looked like he fully planned on continuing to run drills with the betas. Happily, no one objected to Derek taking off. Stiles’ opinion was that everyone believed that Derek was owed some serious Fun Times for all the shit that had gone wrong in his life.

Fun times were indeed had, too. They went to the batting cages like Stiles had suggested and spent a good hour and a half smacking the hell out of baseballs. They talked too. Topics ranged from school, to Pack progress, to his dad, to the state of Beacon Hills in general, to foods, to movies, to books. Anything that came to mind, really. They didn’t have to worry about being overheard because the location was rather loud and they’d gotten the two furthest cages.

When they called it quits, Derek suggested the town favorite pizza place for lunch. It was a good pick in that it was pretty crowded, and Stiles saw at least half a dozen kids from school in just the casual glance he spared as they walked in. They argued good-naturedly about toppings until Derek relented, ordered, and then paid.

He could feel more than a few pairs of eyes on them as they ate, but Stiles didn’t give them any second thoughts.

In the parlor, Derek wasn’t as talkative as he had been, and while he didn’t shy away from Stiles, there were also no casual touches or stolen kisses. Stiles was okay with it because he could sense Derek’s nervousness via their bond. Derek always maintained control over himself in public, and crowds especially, so he wouldn’t be as relaxed as Stiles had seen him earlier.

Everything was going really well until they left the pizza parlor. Stiles was busy fighting with his travel cup, trying to get the lid on, and wasn’t watching where he was going. When Derek opened the door for him, he walked through, not paying too much attention and bumped full on into someone walking in, spilling his soda all over the both of them.

“Oh my God, I’m so, so sorry,” Stiles looked up into the glowering expression of the last person he wanted to see, “M-Mr. Harris.”

“Stilinski.” Harris practically hissed. “As usual, your spastic nature finds ways to darken my day; even in the summer, when I should be free of the curse that is your presence.”

Stiles bit his tongue to keep the scathing retort between his lips. He didn’t need another reason for Harris to hate him or make his life difficult, and even though he couldn’t give him a detention, Stiles wouldn’t put it past him to try and make him pay for his dry cleaning or something.

“I thought bullying was just for students.”

Stiles’ breath caught; he’d forgotten about Derek. He turned his head just enough to catch a look at him. Derek was glowering at Harris even as he accepted a handful of paper napkins from one of the servers. Derek took the two steps needed to close the distance between them and began to clean up the soda from Stiles’ shirt with the napkins.

Harris, Stiles noted, had gone slightly pale. He was looking at Derek as if he was a mob enforcer to whom he owed money.

“Hale.” Harris blinked rapidly, in an attempt to retain his calm composure. “I assure you, there’s a difference between bullying and discipline.”

“I’m aware.” Derek stated.

“Leave it alone, Derek. It’s fine.” Stiles swiped a little frantically at his shirt with a few napkins.

Derek turned to him as if to argue, but stopped. He sighed instead and offered, “I have a spare shirt in the car; come on.”

Stiles did not fail to notice the glint that formed in Harris’ eye as he observed their familiar demeanor. Stiles kinda wanted to tell him to shove it, but he knew better. Stiles instead got Derek to move a bit faster before either he or Harris said anything.

“You should choose who you associate with more carefully; trouble will follow that one.” Harris tossed over his shoulder at them.

Derek tensed under Stiles hand, so he squeezed his shoulder before replying. “I think I’m capable of choosing--”

“I was talking to Hale.”

Derek froze. Stiles cursed under his breath.

“Don’t. Not worth it. Let’s just go.” Stiles whispered.

There was a moment of absolute stillness before Derek finally took one deliberate step forward, then another. Stiles breathed out a sigh of relief when they reached the Camaro. They got in, Stiles changed into the spare shirt, and Derek drove away.

“He was threatening you.” Derek was aggressively still, moving only the minimum amount necessary to drive.

“It’s just Harris.” Stiles countered. “He’s a dick, and he hates me, but he can’t actually do anything to me. Other than give me detention at inopportune moments.”

Derek didn’t respond right away. He parked the car in front of Stiles’ house before he finally spoke. “He’s dangerous.”

“I get that vibe off him too, but...” Stiles shrugged. “He hasn’t been a real threat, so.”

“Stay away from him.”

“He’s my teacher, Derek. I can’t just avoid him. Much as I’d like to.”

The leather on the steering wheel creaked in Derek’s grip, but he sighed. “Just... be careful. He’s trouble, and I’m pretty sure he knows more than he lets on.”

“That’d be the day: Harris not bragging about how much smarter he is.” Stiles scoffed lightly.

“Stiles...”

“No, I get it. You’re worried. If it turns out he’s some evil villain, I’ll be the first on board with our standard take ‘em out plan, but until then... I have to just keep calm and carry on.”

Derek raised an eyebrow at him, the most expression he’d shown since getting in the car. “Really?”

“Isaac got me hooked; it’s a whole thing on the internet apparently.”

Derek smiled, amused. He relaxed and leaned back into the seat. “You were right, you know.”

“Of course I was. I’m always right. About what?”

“Today was good.”

Stiles smiled. “Good? I believe my word was ‘perfect’ and you said I was right, so... you must think today was...” Stiles encouraged, “come on, say it. Puh, puh...”

Derek leaned over and captured his lips in a kiss. When he pulled back, Stiles felt “Perfect.” ghost across his lips.

Stiles kissed him again before getting out of the car. “Tomorrow is Dad’s day off; I’m going to try for some father/son bonding. If something attacks, you let me know though.”

“Same goes for you.”

“Promise.” Stiles agreed before heading up to the house.

Chapter Text

Much to Stiles’ relief, the next day was monster-free. He and his dad watched a game and heckled the players on TV, after the game was a James Bond marathon, Stiles made a healthy lunch followed by a spectacularly unhealthy dinner, there was much merriment and bonding to be had all around. It was good to pretend for a day that things were normal.

The next day, Stiles started planning. It was probably up there with research in Stiles’ Most Frequent Activities. He’d been inspired to try something he’d watched yesterday and if it happened to also make for an interesting training tool, then so be it. In truth, he didn’t care if the betas actually got any real training out of it. He just really wanted to try it.

TO: Archive
10:32am

If I wanted to do something really awesome, could I get you to help me with it?

FROM: Archive
10:33am

Spit it out Stilinski

TO: Archive
10:33am

Themed training session!

FROM: Archive
10:35am

What?

Laying out his idea for Lydia took about four texts, but he was simply too excited about it to be concise. Of course she had her own input, but he welcomed it. There was nothing that the two of them couldn’t do if they put their minds together to do it. He contemplated briefly taking over the world, but decided against it.

Too much responsibility.

Eventually, Lydia declared their conversation too detailed for text. He agreed and logged onto Skype to finish the discussion. As they talked, Stiles began writing up a list of materials they’d need to get. He’d have to go to the store. It didn’t take more than an hour to get everything hammered out, but since she had him on the line, apparently Lydia chose to seize the opportunity.

“So there’s talk about the two of you.” She told him, small smirk in place.

He rolled his eyes. “That was your plan, wasn’t it?”

“Yes. It was. Although I despair at our classmates. Most of them don’t seem to recognize Derek; they’re just calling him Insanely Hot Guy.”

Stiles snorted.

“It’s not funny Stiles.” She reprimanded. “They need to know his name in order for his image to improve. No one is going to care if Insanely Hot Guy is an upstanding member of society, dating the sheriff’s son--”

“That second bit kind of negates the first, don’t you think?” Stiles teased.

She glared, unamused. “I’m serious. They need to know who he is.”

“What do you want me to do? Shout his first and last name on our next date? I can’t think of a context for that that doesn’t sound ridiculously forced.” Stiles shook his head.

“Go bowling.”

Stiles blinked. “What?”

“Go. Bowling.” She repeated, slower, like he was a particularly slow child. “They take ID as collateral for shoes. Katie Marshall is working the counter tomorrow night; she’s a horrible gossip. She will absolutely look at his name, and then tell absolutely anyone who will listen just who she saw with the sheriff’s son while at work.” Lydia explained.

“You’re making our dates feel like publicity stunts.” Stiles accused.

“An unfortunate side effect, but probably not far from the truth. I was completely serious when I said the Pack image needs to improve, Stiles. And it needs to start with Derek.”

He groaned. “You have a plan, don’t you? Like, long term. For everyone.”

“Just about everyone, yes.”

“You know... I was just contemplating world domination.” Stiles sighed.

“We’ll start with Beacon Hills; see where it goes from there.”

Stiles hung up so that he could go to the store. He wanted to get everything as soon as possible so that it would be ready in time. One of Lydia’s big suggestions had been to drop the pretense and just call it a party. From there, it became the We Survived the Summer/Back to School party and Stiles wanted to go all out.

“Alright,” he grabbed a cart, “first item on the list: Yarn.”

The lady at the checkout gave him a very odd look as he emptied his cart.

As he loaded up the Jeep, he got a thought and pulled out his phone. When it picked up he put on the charm, “Hey Mrs. McCall.”

“Stiles? Is something wrong?”

“No, nothing’s wrong. But I was wondering if you’d be willing to help me out with a little thing I’m planning for the Pack.”

“What kind of thing?” He could hear her skepticism.

“Such suspicion! It’s a themed party.”

“Stiles, I am not buying alcohol--”

“No, no, no! Nothing like that. Lydia has that part covered anyway--”

“I didn’t hear that.”

“I was wondering if you’d help me establish the theme.” Stiles continued. “A little acting, a little costume, nothing bad.”

“Tell me.”

He did. She laughed and agreed.

“Do you have a costume?”

“Do you?” She countered.

“In fact, I do. It... isn’t something I’d normally wear, but Lydia insisted and this is probably the best excuse I’ll get to wear it.”

“I admit to being curious, but also slightly terrified, so I’m not going to ask. But yes, in answer to your question. I have something that’ll work.”

“Fantastic.” Stiles fist pumped the air. “Okay, it’ll be Saturday night. That’s your night off right?”

“Yes.”

“Great. Remember, it’s a surprise. You can’t tell Scott.”

They said their goodbyes and hung up as Stiles pulled up to his house.

Derek was waiting for him at the house when he got back, so Stiles had him help bring in supplies.

“What is all this for?”

“Party.”

Derek raised an eyebrow at the contents of his current bag. “What kind of party?”

“It’s a surprise.” Stiles grinned. “Also, I hope you have a suit.”

Now Derek look mildly horrified. “Why?”

Stiles laughed. “You’ll see.”

They finished bringing in everything, Derek throwing increasingly skeptical looks and Stiles laughing maniacally. Derek didn’t ask any more questions though, and Stiles was glad because he wasn’t sure he’d be able to keep the secret under too much scrutiny.

When the last bag was placed on the kitchen table to be dealt with later, Derek turned to Stiles and asked, “Are you free tonight?”

“I am.” Stiles allowed. “Got something in mind?”

“A date. A real one. Not something planned by Lydia.” Derek suggested. “I was thinking a quiet dinner at the loft.”

Stiles smiled. “Sounds good.”

“Good. I’ll see you at seven.” Derek turned to leave.

“Whoa, that’s it?” Stiles asked.

Derek turned around to look at him. “Is what it?”

“You came over just to invite me to dinner? You could have called or texted that.” Stiles pointed out, advancing slowly.

“I could have.” Derek agreed.

“So why didn’t you?” Stiles asked.

“I came over to help you carry heavy objects, clearly.” Derek smirked.

Stiles slid his hands up Derek’s chest before wrapping his arms around his neck. “Well, if you were looking for a workout...”

The steady grip on his waist was the only thing that kept Stiles on his feet when the upheaval in the ley lines wracked through his equilibrium. He did deep, meditative breathing until it passed, but he noticed the hands around his waist went from enticingly steady to worryingly firm. Derek had clearly caught onto the abrupt shift in the situation and was waiting it out along with Stiles.

When he could breathe normally again, Stiles opened his eyes to let Derek know that it was over.

“We need to tell the Pack.” Stiles suggested.

Derek frowned. “We don’t know if--”

The mid sentence pause was accompanied by Derek’s head cocking to the side as if he’d suddenly heard something that Stiles was too human to hear. The grip on his waist also tightened, and Stiles felt the tiny points of claws against his skin through his clothes.

“What is it?” Stiles asked, already fishing for his phone.

“Angry.” Derek told him.

Stiles hit Lydia’s speed dial and glared. “Is there any other type?” She picked up just after the first ring. “Lyds, I need you to get to a computer.”

“What’s going on?” She snapped.

“Not sure yet. Just came through a shift in the ley lines, but we’re going after it.” Stiles told her, already fitting the bluetooth into his ear as Derek led the way out to the backyard.

“Where are you? Should I send the others?” She asked.

Derek nodded.

“My place, but we’re headed to the forest,” Stiles relayed as he and Derek moved to the treeline. “Derek heard it, but I didn’t. I’m guessing it’s loud but far. We’ll move at a slower pace until the others catch up unless Derek hears something that says we shouldn’t.”

“Danny and Jackson are on their way; they’ve texted the others, but I think Isaac and Scott are at work. Should they stay or join?” Through the line he could hear the sound of a computer booting up.

Stiles looked to Derek. He shook his head. “I don’t know what it is yet.”

“All the more reason to have all hands on deck, yes?” Stiles asked.

Derek still hesitated, but finally nodded, so Stiles asked Lydia to give them the message. It was quiet from then on as Stiles followed Derek through the trees headed west. When they had to climb over a familiar section of forest, Stiles had an inkling he knew where they were headed.

“Are we going where I think we’re going?” Stiles wanted to be sure.

“Probably.” Derek muttered.

“Where are you headed?” Lydia asked.

Stiles sighed darkly. “The cave.”

He heard her typing over the connection. “Is there anything Derek’s getting that can help identify it?”

“It’s large, it reeks, and I think there are actually three of them.” Derek answered.

“How large is large?” Stiles questioned.

Derek just glanced at him and grimaced. “Large enough to hurl boulders about.”

Stiles nearly stumbled, but caught himself before he fell. “Right. Big, smelly, and he brought friends.”

“Hmm...” Lydia continued to type, punctuated by a few clicks and moments of silence. “Well, there are still a few likely candidates.”

“Give me.”

“Golem, Grootslang, Olitiau, and Troll seem the most likely.” She listed.

Stiles considered. “Probably not a golem unless it’s got a master walking around too. I thought those were constructs.”

“Something to consider; there might be someone controlling it.” Lydia defended.

“If it had shown up without the ley line shift, I’d agree, but...”

“Fine. What about the others?”

“Cross our fingers it’s not Grootslang.” Stiles declared. He had very little desire to face an intelligent elephant/serpent hybrid that had the ability to devour regular, mundane elephants.

When they neared the cave, Derek slowed them to a creeping walk. Stiles glyphed them to remove their scent in case the wind changed, and they crept up to get a closer look. There was no activity at the mouth of the cave, but Stiles could clearly hear and smell that something was about.

“Ideas?” He whispered.

“Can you see them?” Lydia asked.

“No. They’re inside.”

“Might be good to get a closer look.” She suggested.

Derek moved forward, halting Stiles with a gesture. He moved silently as he made his way to the mouth of the cave, peered in, and then waved Stiles over. Stiles did his best to move quietly, but he wasn’t a werewolf. He made it over without dying though, so he counted it as a win.

Once he caught up, Derek moved them inside the cave. The entrance was deserted, but Stiles could see evidence of activity. Chunks of wall were missing, large rocks were scattered about the floor, and footprints in the dust that were too indistinct for an untrained eye like Stiles’ to identify.

“Footprints.” He pointed, needlessly.

Derek nodded anyway, and they followed them deeper into the cave. Derek took point, leading with his superior senses, and stopped them just before a bend. He hunkered down and Stiles followed suit, waiting for word. Derek looked around the corner, and held up three fingers.

Three of them around the corner. Check.

When he turned back to Stiles, he mouthed “Trolls.”

Fantastic. From what lore he remembered, trolls were large, strong, mean, dumb as rocks, and turned to stone by daylight. Of which there was none so far into the cave. Three against two was not good odds, especially given the fact they were in a lower weight-class. But, then again, Stiles had his kit and Derek was an Alpha werewolf. They might be okay.

“Plan?” Stiles asked silently.

Derek shrugged and looked expectantly at Stiles, obviously leaving it up to him. He thought quickly, familiarizing himself with the layout. He started moving away from the trolls, closer to the front of the cave, and drew a chalk circle around the two of them when they were far enough back that he didn’t think the trolls would hear the scratch of the chalk on rock. When that was done, he glyphed the circle for silence.

“It’s trolls.” He told Lydia, who had been blessedly silent. “We could try to get them out into daylight, but I don’t think they’ll fall for it.”

“No, they’re dumb, but not that dumb.” Lydia agreed. “How many are there?”

“Three that Derek saw.”

“How hard are they to kill?” Derek asked.

Stiles waved an iffy hand. “Some lore suggests they might regenerate, but I don’t know how quickly.”

“That may not be accurate though.” Lydia countered. “There are only a few sources that suggest that. More, however, claim that they are scared of lightning and the ringing of church bells.”

“Well, unless Thor and Quasimodo wanna show up and help us out, I think those are a little unhelpful.” Stiles huffed.

She sighed, “Surely there’s something you can do to simulate lightning.”

“You’re the one with the Taser!”

“Stiles.” Derek made him focus. “Is there a spell...?”

He rolled his shoulders a little and made himself think. He could, yes, toss a bit of lightning, but the myth said they were scared of it, not mortally injured by it. Sunlight was a different story. He couldn’t conjure sunlight out of nothing, but maybe... A trap?

“We might be able to lure them closer to the cave entrance.” Stiles suggested.

“You just said they wouldn’t fall for that.” Derek frowned.

“Not willingly, no.” Stiles agreed. “But if we get them close enough, I might be able to do the rest.”

“Let’s hear it Stilinski.”

“Derek goes in as a lure. Get their attention, get them to chase him, head for the entrance. They won’t go all the way into the sunlight, but if I can set up enough glyphs, maybe toss a bit of lightning to confuse them, and work a bit of the stone, I might be able to push them the rest of the way.”

“Get to it then!” Lydia ordered.

Right. Stiles hopped out of the chalk circle and raced toward the sunlight. He did some quick calculation in his head, which was--honestly--mostly just guess work because he had no idea how much trolls weighed, but he planned on adding a lot of power to the glyphs just to be really sure.

Stiles needed to know how long their stride was in order to glyph an adequate area of floor. The footprints were too indistinct and too many for him to accurately measure, but he knew how to get it from height. This, of course, was slightly problematic in that he hadn’t seen them. Yet.

He slunk his way back to the curve of the cave where Derek had seen them earlier, purposefully ignoring Derek’s bitch-face. The sourwolf didn’t like it when Stiles was reckless? Well, pot kettle, asshole. Stiles took just the smallest, quickest look he could manage.

Whoa.

Yeah. Lots of power. Lots.

He made his way back to his work area and completely covered a seven foot length of floor in three massive glyphs to make really sure that they wouldn’t miss. The section of floor was placed just beyond a bend in the cave so they wouldn’t see it coming until it was too late, and it was also far enough away from the entrance that they’d risk venturing there, and to top it all off, Stiles would have to put in enough juice to launch three giant-ass trolls at least fifty feet to reach the sunlight. Oh, and also hope that they didn’t knock Derek into werepaste as they flew.

This was going to go so horribly wrong.

As he rejoined Derek in the chalk circle, he chipped a few bits of stone free of the wall for the component magic he may also have to do.

“Ready?” Derek asked.

Stiles exhaled loudly. “I guess. I’ll active the magic in the glyphs when you’re past them, but make sure you duck or something, because I don’t want to have to scrape you off the walls.”

“Where will you be?”

Stiles pointed. “No one ever looks up.”

He saw and sensed a strong wave of... grief, horror? pass over Derek, but he quickly shook himself of it. Stiles was about to ask, but Derek silenced him with a look. Stiles gave him a look of his own; one that clearly stated they would talk about it later.

At that moment, however, their priority was the trolls. Stiles pulled a few tubes from his kit as Derek headed for the trolls. Stiles channeled his magic; combining a drop of glue, a bit of powdered spider (that had not been fun to collect. At all), and a drop of blood, Stiles gave himself the ability to climb and stick to the cave walls. A bit like Spiderman, but all of his skin rather than just the hands and feet. He pulled his shirt off, jumped out of his shoes and socks, and then scaled the walls as fast as he could.

Pro of this spell: it was an interesting view from the ceiling. Con: he had to actively focus on it to keep it going. Stiles was always good at multitasking. Well... He was decent.

He kept himself there, feet braced and back pressed against the stone so he could keep his hands free just in case. Once he was situated, Stiles gave Derek the signal, and released the magic in Derek’s scent masker.

The roar of an Alpha werewolf shook the cave walls. It kind of tickled, actually.

Moments later, he heard the sound of Derek running and something large following. From his current vantage point, Stiles could keep an eye both on the oncoming trolls and the cave entrance, so he saw as Derek skidded around the corner where the trolls were and ran full tilt for the next bend. He saw also that the trolls were faster than they looked. The only reason Derek hadn’t been caught was because he was a squirrely motherfucker and knew how and when to duck and weave.

They were too close, though, for Stiles to wait for Derek to pass the glyphs before activating them.

Unless he could slow them down.

He channeled his magic, grabbed another of the bits of rock, imbued it with his will, and then chucked it at the closest troll. The pebble hit with the force of a boulder right in the center of its chest--aim for the largest mass of body, more likely to hit--and staggered the troll right as it was reaching for Derek.

The troll paused, allowing its brethren to push past in pursuit of Derek, and looked around. It spotted Stiles easily enough; it didn’t have to look up just a whole lot, after all, and made a rumbling roar before charging.

“Son of a--” Stiles prayed silently and then leapt, launching himself to the wall furthest from the troll’s reach. His spell kept working, so he didn’t faceplant and fall in a heap of shame, so that was nice. Not so nice was the troll still chasing him. Stiles quickly climbed up to the ceiling so that he could get his placement right. When the troll advanced, Stiles shot his hand out and fired a bolt of lightning right in its face with a quick incantation.

Yes, he'd practiced throwing lightning, because it was awesome. Whether or not he pretended to be Thor while doing so is neither here nor there.

The troll let out a bellowing scream and dropped to its knees, ham-sized hands clutching at its face. Stiles had other things to deal with though, and since it wasn’t chasing him anymore, he redirected his attention.

Derek was on his back, attempting to scurry away as fast as he could from the trolls. Stiles didn’t know how or when he ended up on his back, but it was not a good position for him to be in. Another quick incantation landed a bolt of lightning between the trolls and Derek. They stopped, jumping back, long enough for him to get his feet under him, but were quick to follow once he started running.

Stiles had the glyphs ready to go as soon as Derek was beyond them, but the trolls were still too close behind him.

“Jump over the glyphs and take cover.” Stiles suggested, sure that Derek would listen.

He did. Derek dove over the glyphs and stayed down when he landed, making himself as small as possible. Stiles activated the glyphs as the trolls stepped down onto them and poured enough power in them to send a truck sailing; adding in their own forward momentum, the glyphs landed the trolls past the goal line.

The transition from flesh to stone was nearly instantaneous, and when they landed--hard--the now stone trolls cracked. Derek stood, brushing himself off, and strode over. He took one good look at them before smashing them into rubble with one powerful swing each.

When Derek turned to smirk back at him, Stiles saw his face go from smug to scared a second before Stiles was no longer on the wall. Huge, strong hands plucked him from the ceiling like lint from a shirt. He felt the troll squeeze and tighten his grip with the obvious intent to squash him. It was getting harder to breathe; Stiles could feel his bones protesting. He heard Derek’s roar of defiance, but the troll batted him away with a foot and continued to apply deadly pressure.

He felt a rib crack, then snap, followed by another.

He couldn’t breathe, his vision was going dark around the edges, and Stiles wished desperately and with all his might that he were outside the cave, away from the damned troll, so that Derek wouldn’t have to watch him die.

He felt a tug, and for a moment feared that the troll was about to literally tear him apart, but then the pressure let up all at once, he was on his own two feet, and he was in sunlight.

Also pain.

Lots of pain.

But air. That was cool. Air was good.

He forced his lungs to cooperate despite the broken ribs and sucked in glorious, beautiful air. He focused on breathing. Once he felt that he could manage that without having to think too hard about it, he moved on to assess what the fuck had just happened.

Hard to think with that pain though.

Lot more pain than he expected from a broken rib.

And why did his leg hurt?

“Stiles!”

That sounded like Lydia.

Oh, his headset. That managed to stay in? Cool.

“Stiles Stilinski, I swear to God if you do not answer me right this second--”

“Here.” He rasped. “Alive.”

“Thank Christ.” Lydia let out a shaky breath.

Stiles listened to her berate him about not being allowed to die when she’s on the phone with him, letting her voice ground him, but also tuning it out. He needed to figure out what had happened.

“Derek?!” Stiles tried to shout. Didn’t really work very well.

He looked around, tried to get his bearings. He was outside the cave; he could see the mouth of it not too far off, but even thirty feet seemed like a lot farther while in that much pain. In fact, Stiles was in so much pain that he didn’t even register that the others had arrived until Scott and Danny took hold of his arms.

“Dudes. Good timing.” Stiles gasped out and winced.

Scott looked decidedly uncalm. “Where have you been?”

Stiles frowned at him. That seemed wrong somehow, that the backup ask where the front guys have been. Stiles was ready to tell Scott just how little sense that made, when Derek made his way into Stiles’ line of sight.

He was very bloody--thought now that he looked, all the wolves looked bloody--he was wearing sweat pants (and nothing else), and he looked at Stiles like he almost didn’t believe his eyes.

Stiles looked down at himself to make sure he was actually there. Just in case.

Was that blood? Yes. That was blood. He was pretty sure he hadn’t been bleeding earlier.

“You’re bleeding.” Derek followed his line of sight, snapped out of his reverie.

“Astute.” Stiles might have been a little light headed. Yes. That was a good description. Hey look, ground.

Scott and Danny lowered him with much more grace than Stiles would have managed on his own, and Derek quickly began to look him over for injury.

“What happened?” He gritted out, handing the bluetooth off to Jackson so that he didn’t have to listen to Lydia yell at him anymore.

Derek frowned, but didn’t stop his examination. “The troll had you, and then you were gone. The Pack arrived and killed the troll, but no one could find you.”

“Are telling me,” gasp for pain, “I teleported?”

Derek found both broken ribs easily enough; the extensive bruising, tenderness, and shortness of breath was a bit of a give away though. He made sure he hadn’t punctured a lung, and then told Stiles not to talk unless to tell him something hurt. Then he moved on to tear open Stiles’ right pant leg since that’s where the blood was coming from. Stiles watched, morbidly curious.

A strip of skin, from knee to ankle, wrapping around his shin and calf, was just gone. The blood was copious, but through it, Stiles could actually see muscle.

Erica wrinkled her nose and covered her mouth. “That is so wrong.”

“I’ve been splinched!” Stiles yelped.

Ow. Yelling bad. No more yelling.

“We have to get him to a hospital.” Scott demanded.

“And tell them what?” Peter drawled.

“He’s right. Deaton’s the better choice.” Isaac offered.

Derek was already shifting, kicking out of the sweatpants part of the way through. When he was full wolf, Danny and Isaac helped Stiles onto his back.

“Are you sure about this?” Scott asked. “Won’t you jostle him too much?”

“Less than if he were carried by a human.” Peter insisted. “Wolves move quite gracefully.”

“He could still fall off.” Boyd pointed out.

Stiles focused as much as he could and channeled his magic, reactivating the spider cling spell. “Should... do it.” He groaned.

Derek didn’t need any more encouragement. He sprinted off, and Stiles focused on his spell and breathing, neither of which were particularly easy.

Someone must have called ahead, because Deaton was waiting for them at the back. He held the door open for Derek, and Stiles allowed himself to relax as soon as the door shut behind them.

He fell to the floor and wished he would just pass out so he wouldn’t have to deal with the pain of bumping broken ribs. He wasn’t sure how long he was on the floor, probably not too long, but it felt like a while before Deaton and Derek were lifting him up off the ground and onto the table.

“I’m giving you a sedative, Stiles.” Deaton told him calmly. “It should put you to sleep.”

Stiles let out a pained chuckle. “Bad choice... of words. Vet.”

“You’ll be fine.” Deaton smirked. “Rest now.”

There was a small pinch on his arm and then blissful relief.

When Stiles regained consciousness, Derek and his dad were there watching over him. He was fairly certain he was still in Deaton’s clinic, given the decor, so he couldn’t have been out too long.

“How long was I out?”

Talking hurt a bit less, so that was good.

“About four hours.” Derek answered.

He was bandaged around his ribs, with his arm splinted to his side to help with support, and to keep him from moving his chest too much. His leg was wrapped up too, and he could smell the disinfectant quite strongly.

“Doc says he’s confident your ribs will be fine by the end of the week.” His dad assured him. “Your leg, however...” He shook his head. “We’re at a bit of a loss kiddo. Normally skin grafts would be needed for that kind of damage, but...”

“I heal too quickly for hospitals.” Stiles nodded.

“Yeah,” his dad sighed, “but on the other hand, you’re open to infection until it does heal, and he doesn’t know how long that’ll take.”

Stiles absorbed this. He had plans Saturday, and like hell was he cancelling those. He could use the magic in his wards to speed the process along; it was one of the more common uses for the reserves according to Leeloo, and he’d done it before.

“Take the bandage off.” Stiles implored.

Derek quirked an eyebrow, but complied.

Stiles wanted to be able to do this without risk of sealing gauze in the wound, and he wanted to see it. So sue him. He channeled the magic in his wards and shaped them to heal his leg completely, because, as cool as leg muscles were, they weren’t supposed to be visible, and in for a penny in for a pound, as they say. He watched the skin grow little by little as he concentrated. It wasn’t as simple as knitting it back together; there were layers and layers of dermis and epidermis, nerves, blood vessels, hair follicles--because like hell is he walking around with a hairless stripe on his leg--that all need to spontaneously regenerate.

When it was done, Stiles felt like he needed another nap.

“Impatient were we?” Deaton asked from the door.

Stiles shrugged. “Is teleportation a thing? Like, possible, or whatever?”

“Normally I’d say no, but I’m not one to disregard evidence.” Deaton replied. “However, it is not something I suggest doing often. If ever.”

“I don’t know. Came in handy.”

“Stiles, you were gone for nearly half an hour and when you came back from wherever you went, you were missing part of your leg.” Derek objected.

“Half an hour? What?”

Derek sighed. “From when you disappeared to when you reappeared took 26 minutes 39 seconds.”

“That’s precise.” Stiles blinked.

“I couldn’t... sense you.” Derek whispered. “I thought you were dead.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to teleport.” Stiles offered.

“But you did.” Deaton shook his head. “Your magic works entirely upon your intent, your will. For something to have happened, you must have meant to do it. Whether consciously or subconsciously... that’s a matter of control.”

Stiles sighed and decided that now seemed like a good time to take a nap. So he did.

Chapter Text

This time when he opened his eyes, Stiles was in his room. Derek was on the bed next to him, watching him. He gave the werewolf a small smile in greeting.

“You slept through Wednesday.” Derek told him quietly.

Stiles sighed a little. “Not surprising.”

“Hungry?”

“I could eat.”

Derek helped him to his feet and they made their way to the kitchen. Derek sat him down in a chair at the table and then proceeded to cook lunch for the two of them. Stiles watched, appreciatively, as Derek moved about the kitchen. It wasn’t anything elaborate; just chili dogs with potato chips, but it was good.

“We missed dinner.” Stiles frowned a little. He’d been looking forward to the date.

“We had lunch instead.” Derek shrugged.

This made the corner of Stiles mouth tug up a little. It was true, he supposed. They were alone, Derek cooked, and while it might not have been at the loft, it was still nice. Still...

“You’re not... I don’t know, disappointed?”

Derek wiped his mouth with a paper towel before leaning back in his chair and looking at Stiles assessing. “I’d prefer you weren’t injured,” he allowed, “but it’ll happen. It wasn’t the first date to be interrupted; it won’t be the last either. No point in being disappointed when you’re here, I’m here, and no one’s dead that shouldn’t be.”

Stiles grinned. “Such a romantic, Hale.”

“I try.” Derek shrugged again.

“Though...” Stiles sighed, “speaking of dates. Lydia wanted us to go to the bowling alley tonight.”

“How are your ribs?” Derek glanced meaningfully at the arm currently binding Stiles’ ribs.

Stiles tested it a bit. Several deep breaths in a row didn’t yield any pain, so he tried moving the unbound arm in a wide range of motion. When that too, yielded no pain, he shrugged. “Seems fine.”

Derek considered him briefly. “Do you want to go bowling?”

“Do you want to defy Lydia?”

Derek raised an unimpressed eyebrow. “Who’s the alpha?”

“You are, but--”

“So are you.” Derek told him. “If you want to go bowling, we will, but don’t do it just because Lydia wants you to.”

Stiles thought about it. Mulled it over for a bit.

“Y’know... the idea of me throwing around a 12 pound ball sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.” Stiles winced.

Derek took another drink from his cup. “I wasn’t going to be the one to say it.”

Stiles glared at him, but it lacked real heat. “What should we do instead?”

“You should rest. Let yourself heal.”

“I’ll heal whether I’m resting or not.”

“Not as quickly and not as well.” Derek countered. “Unless you wanted to go to your party in a sling and brace?”

Stiles frowned. “Would spoil the atmosphere.”

“All the more reason to rest.”

“Speaking of the party, do you have a suit?”

Derek mumbled something that Stiles couldn’t quite make out and hid a little behind his cup.

“If you don’t have one, I’ll tell Lydia and she’ll drag you out to get one.” Stiles threatened.

He sighed. “I have one. I just think a dress code is--”

“It’s a themed party Derek. Like a Halloween party, but with a specific costume. It’s going to be so much fun, you’ll forget to frown.”

Derek looked less than enthusiastic.

“A little enthusiasm wouldn’t go amiss, dude.”

“No promises.”

Derek helped Stiles back up the stairs. Sort of. Stiles didn’t actually need help, but Derek kept his hands on his waist for ‘support’ anyway. When they made it back to the bedroom, Stiles got Derek to sit with him on the bed and comfortably arranged before asking him a question.

“Can I ask you something?”

Derek grunted.

“Earlier, when we were in the cave, you freaked out over something I said. Can you tell me why?”

He waited patiently for the answer. If asked a direct question, Derek usually answered, though he might take a bit to organize his thoughts first. Stiles had him pinned, so he wasn’t going anywhere. He’d either answer, or he wouldn’t; Stiles just had to wait.

“Reminded me of... a bad dream.”

Stiles was a bit surprised. Must have been one hell of a nightmare for Derek to still be shaken up over it.

“Was this the dream that woke you up after the siren attack?” Stiles couldn’t think of any other time he’d seen Derek have a nightmare. At least, not that he’d noticed.

A nod.

“Do... you wanna talk about it?”

Derek buried his nose in Stiles’ neck. “Not particularly.”

“Cool. I get it. No worries.” Stiles was actually really curious, but he wasn’t going to pull it out of him if he didn’t want to share.

“Did Erica talk to you about hers?”

“Not in detail, but that reminds me that I need to make that charm for her.” Stiles got up off the bed and over to his kit. He could theoretically wait, but he was thinking about it now, so...

He booted up his laptop and looked up instructions on how to make a dreamcatcher out of paper and yarn. Not the prettiest thing in the world, but it was only meant to be temporary anyway.

Turned out that cutting paper and stringing yarn were a lot harder to do without full range of motion in one arm. He reached to take off the binding, and Derek let out a low growl. Well, if Derek was going to be that way about it, then he got to be Stiles’s hand replacement.

“Yo, Derek?” Stiles held out the scissors.

“Are we doing arts and crafts now?” He cocked an eyebrow up, resigned.

“Come on. It’s for one of your pups. Aren’t you supposed to have maternal instincts or something?”

The other eyebrow went up as Derek leveled him with a bitch face. Derek’s bitch face was a thing of beauty in Stiles’s opinion.

Stiles shot him a grin.

After a beat of silence, Derek took the scissors. “First sign of glitter and I’m out that window.”

“Ugh, no. Glitter is the herpes of craft supplies.”

Between the two of them, they got a halfway decent-looking dreamcatcher. Stiles had been channeling his magic through the whole process, adding the protection and care of both himself and Derek into the magic that worked the spell. When it was done, Stiles held it up proudly.

“All she has to do is hang it up and presto! No more nightmares.” Stiles declared.

Derek looked at it, nodded once, and then flopped down onto the bed. Apparently done with Arts and Crafts hour.

Stiles set it aside and joined him. Derek moved him around a bit until they were both comfy, and then they took a nap.

Stiles was still mostly asleep when he heard his phone ring. He tried to reach for it, but that arm was still attached to his ribs, so he didn’t do much more than wiggle on the bed. He felt Derek reach over and grab his phone, answer it, and tell someone--presumably Lydia; he was pretty sure Short Skirt/Long Jacket was her ringtone--that they weren’t going anywhere tonight.

Stiles was asleep again before Derek had even hung up.

Friday morning, Derek was already gone when Stiles woke up, but he left a note saying that he had errands to run. That was fine; Stiles had errands too. He took the damned binding off with a little help from his dad, and then set about making the house ready for the party tomorrow. Today would just be cleaning; the real setup would take place tomorrow.

He enlisted his dad’s help with the garage, but let him leave for work before he moved to the kitchen, dining room, living room, downstairs office, and connecting hallways. He took a break for lunch, and then continued his cleaning spree with the up- and downstairs bathrooms, the upstairs office, and the hallways in between. Once those were all done, he decided to continue cleaning since the intense focus from his ADHD wouldn’t let him stop now, so he did laundry and tidied his room until dinner.

He made himself sleep that night, even going so far as to hang up the dreamcatcher by his headboard in order to keep the nightmares at bay.

When he woke up, Stiles made lunch for two, ate, and then began setup. His dad actually helped him with it too, having taken an interest in the party’s theme. As he helped Stiles build a maze out of lincoln logs in the garage, Stiles proposed that he help out like Mrs. McCall and act for him. His dad agreed, and Stiles cheerfully set up the--very watered down--no trespassing glyphs in the maze while they hammered out the details.

His dad outright laughed when Stiles busted out the red yarn and began to string it up. He then proceeded to pull out his phone and recorded Stiles testing it out. There were a few adjustments to be made, so Stiles banished his father out back to use the quick-dry spray paint to rid himself of the mockery.

When they both finished with those tasks, Stiles and his dad worked together to convert the dining table into a poker table with green felt and fabric markers. Once that was completed to Stiles’ satisfaction, they started hiding the scavenger hunt items.

Then it was time to get ready. Stiles showered quickly and then ran to his room. He pulled out the suit that Lydia had bought for him and couldn’t stop the grin. It was a pretty ridiculous suit that he had thought he’d never wear, but even he admitted that it had looked good. He was secretly glad that he’d found a reason to wear it.

The pants, vest, and jacket were a startling red. The buttons were black, as was his belt and shoes. The original shirt he’d gotten for the suit had been blue, Stiles swapped it for a black one for the evening to look more villainous. He wouldn’t wear a tie and left the top couple buttons of the shirt undone. He got dressed and was buttoning up the vest when the doorbell rang. He tested the bond, and finding it wasn’t one of the wolves, he went to answer since his dad was still in his shower.

Mrs. McCall smiled brightly when he answered. “Wow.”

“It’s a bit extreme, I know.” He shrugged.

“A bit.” She nodded. “But it looks good.”

She had a garment bag in her hands, so Stiles let her in. He gave her the tour and explained, again, what she’d be doing. He showed her to her ‘prison’ and asked if she needed anything before she got changed as he set up the wifi camera he’d hid in the hallway to the laptop he was leaving in the room. Because she should get to watch the hilarity. When she declined, he left her to it.

Once she was in, Stiles strung up yet more yarn on his way back down the hall.

When he went back downstairs, his dad was in the living room, ready to meet the Pack when they arrived.

“Lookin’ sharp.” Stiles grinned.

The sheriff eyed him with a smirk. “You realize this tie is coming off as soon as my speech is done.”

“You can break character as soon as your speech is done, promise.” Stiles waved him off.

There was a knock on the door.

“That should be Lydia.”

Sure enough. Stiles opened the door and had to pause, because damn. She had her hair in a tight bun complete with pens and pencils sticking out of it, and was wearing black--prescription free--glasses, a simple, blue button-down, a high-waisted black pencil skirt, black heels, and a form-hugging white lab coat.

“Is that... did you get that lab coat tailored?”

She had bitch faces to rival Derek’s.

“Glad to see you’re wearing the suit.” Lydia said instead. “Where’s the jacket?”

“Upstairs still.”

“Good evening, Sheriff.” She smiled, passing Stiles as she made her way inside. “You’re looking rather posh.”

“Thank you. I think.”

“I’ll show you around?” Stiles offered.

Stiles made mention of where everything currently was, but he took her directly to the downstairs study, since it was her domain for at least the start of the party. She took her time examining the spray-painted water pistols, making sure to arrange them as she desired. When that was done she took a look at the scavenger hunt list that Stiles had printed up and put in manila folders. He handed her Top Secret stickers so that she could seal the folders in a manner of her choosing. She also had a computer setup of the cameras that Stiles had positioned in the hallways.

“Acceptable.” She announced finally. “There’s a box in my car full of illegal refreshment. Fetch it.”

Stiles resisted for all of five seconds. He sedately made his way to her car, pulled the box out of the trunk, locked the car, and then headed inside. He set the alcohol in the kitchen, pulling out the martini shakers and glasses and arranging them neatly on the counter. His dad had allowed the underaged consumption of alcohol on the grounds that everyone stay the night. Stiles had tried to tell him that the only people capable of actually getting drunk were himself and Lydia, but it didn’t matter. Not that Stiles was protesting to a Pack sleepover anyway.

He had just enough time to get back upstairs to his room, throw on his jacket, get to the top of the stairs where he’d wait for everyone, and then activated every glyph he’d set up for the evening before the doorbell rang again. He checked via the bond, and smiled. They’d all arrived together like he’d asked.

He heard the door open and his father greet their guests. “Agents. Thank you for coming in. We have a mission that requires your attention.”

That was Lydia’s cue to hit play and the James Bond theme blasted through the speakers. Stiles heard Scott and Isaac both twitter with excitement, and Erica give an appreciative laugh. He felt like patting himself on the back.

“Your Quartermaster will lead you to the armory where you’ll be given mission brief and equipment loadout.”

“Thank you, M. Double-Ohs, if you’ll follow me?”

Stiles couldn’t hear what was said inside the ‘armory’ but he knew the gist. She was to hand them each a ‘Walther’ and folder. Inside three folders were the controls to three RC cars that were currently in the garage with the lincoln log maze. It was supposed to be a random distribution, so he’d be interested to see who got the controls first. He’d designed the maze to be indestructible except for a few choice locations so that it could be run multiple times.

When he heard the group make their way closer, he got ready. They wouldn’t see him until they exited the living room towards the kitchen. When they rounded the corner, Scott and Derek in the lead, Stiles smiled.

“I should thank you, 007, for leaving MI6 so... unguarded. Made it easy to steal what I needed.” Stiles announced, getting everyone’s attention. He sported his most evil smile and continued. “World domination is minutes away, and you have to choose. Save the world, or save her.”

With that, he dashed off. He dove, landed--thankfully--on the waiting creeper that he’d stolen from the garage and rode his way under the yarn to safety. When he was through, he picked up the creeper and dashed into his room, closing the door behind him.

He had the final wifi camera hook-up in his room and watched as his dad ran to the agents to announce that Moneypenny and Top Secret files had been stolen. Scott was the first one to brazenly try the stairs. He got to the the third step before flying back into Isaac and Erica after hitting a ward.

Stiles cackled.

Isaac was next to attempt the stairs, more cautiously this time. He took them one at a time, avoiding a stair if he saw a glyph. The others followed, Derek bringing up the rear. Stiles took the time he had now to admire the view. Scott’s suit had been improved since the last time Stiles saw it. It didn’t look a size or two too big anymore. Isaac’s looked new; a simple but nice black number with a white shirt and no tie. Boyd’s was steel grey, a forest green shirt, and steel grey skinny tie to match. Jackson was wearing a new suit as well; pinstripe and tailored. Danny’s was the same he’d worn to the dance last year, but it still looked good on him. Erica was in a sweet little grey three-piece that had a mini-skirt to show off her long legs. Stiles wished her luck in the laser mazes, especially in those heels. Peter had declined his invitation and was thankfully absent. They all looked fantastic.

Derek outstripped them all.

His suit was sinful in the way it hugged his body. It was black, his shirt was black, but his tie was red. It was mouthwatering and Stiles could not wait to touch.

He watched, delighted, as they all made it successfully up the stairs and saw the lasers. Erica clapped her hands in excitement, Danny gave the set-up an amused, approving nod, Boyd looked impressed, Isaac and Scott continued to geek out, Jackson grunted begrudged approval, and Derek smirked.

The rooms were enchanted against sound, and he and Mrs. McCall were both glyphed with scent scrubbers. It was random, 50/50 guess for the Pack as to who was where. The only one who knew for certain was probably Derek because he’d be able to sense Stiles’ location through the bond.

Derek split them up into two groups. “Scott take Isaac, Boyd, and Danny to rescue Moneypenny. Jackson, Erica, and I will get Stiles.”

“Which way?”

“Stiles is in his room.” Derek replied.

Erica was first up to the lasers. She gamely slithered and slunk her way through the mess of yarn, being very careful not to touch any of them. Jackson was next and was not nearly so patient. He attempted to claw his way through the yarn. Stiles cackled again as he yanked his hand back, shaking it vigorously. Stiles had thought of this, of course, and had bespelled the yarn to give a nice hard shock to anyone who touched it, and so that it wouldn’t cut. They would crawl their way through, damnit, because Stiles demanded amusement.

He saw Derek’s shoulders shake a little as he restrained his laughter. He patted Jackson on the shoulder, whispered something in his ear, and then made for the maze himself.

Isaac, Scott, and Danny were beginning to make their way through the other maze toward Moneypenny. Boyd was eyeing the yarn with extreme suspicion. It seemed he doubted whether or not he’d be able to make it through without getting shocked.

Scott, Isaac, and Danny all got few zaps as they made their way through, so it was entirely possible.

Erica made her way out of the maze without getting shocked once. Derek got hit once or twice that Stiles could tell; Jackson too. But it was a lovely view, so Stiles felt zero sympathy or remorse.

As they approached the door, Stiles got his own water Walther out and took aim. The door opened and Stiles shot the almost the entirety of his pistol onto Jackson’s face and hair as he squirmed and tried to get away. Erica had entered the room with her pistol drawn as well and was returning fire. Stiles ducked behind his bed to avoid getting hit.

While Erica laid down suppressive fire, Derek made his way over the bed while Jackson tried to corner him in by coming around. The floor was, of course, glyphed for just this event, and Jackson went flying into Erica. Stiles popped up from behind the bed when he heard the collision and came face to face with Derek. He had his Walther under Derek’s chin in an instant.

“Surrender to the inevitable, Bond.” Stiles smirked. “You’ve lost.”

Derek quirked an eyebrow at him. “That depends on what you’re willing to lose.”

A small pressure made Stiles glance down. Derek had his Walther aimed at Stiles’ crotch. He smirked and looked back up. “Well, well. Stalemate.”

“Draw?”

Stiles shrugged minutely. “Unless you wanna see whose head gets blown... off first.”

“Oh, for the love of-- I’m out. Meet you downstairs.” Jackson exited the room quickly.

Erica moved to follow, but Derek stopped her. “Search him for the data.”

“I think not.” Stiles drew his second Walther and had it aimed at Erica before she took two steps. “You want it, you’ll have to find it yourself.”

There was an audible click of a camera shutter. “You guys are absolutely adorable,” Erica teased, “but this is a party, and your dad is just downstairs, Stiles. Keep it in your pants for now.”

Stiles huffed, but nodded and lowered his weapons. “Draw.”

“Come on, the others have rescued Moneypenny by now.” Erica made for the door.

“They... have, yes.” Stiles checked the footage. “I should release the wards so Mrs. McCall doesn’t get shocked.”

“Hot damn!” Erica had moved to look at the monitor too. “Mama McCall looks fine!

Stiles nodded. Mrs. McCall was in a lovely lime green dress that definitely had slink to it. She looked really nice; like she belonged in a James Bond movie.

At the moment, her, Danny, Scott, and Isaac were standing in the doorway, pondering how to get past the maze. It was a lovely dress, but it didn’t look like it had a large range of motion. Scott ended up braving it first, telling his mom something just before slipping in. He got about halfway before Isaac entered. Then it was Danny's turn. It looked like the plan was for them to go through so that she could watch what they did.

“Erica. Want to be the hero?” Stiles asked.

She smiled devilishly.

He handed her the creeper he’d used to get under the yarn. “The lady’s chariot.”

She took it and hurried off to deliver it to Mrs. McCall.

Both he and Derek watched on the feeds as Erica rode her way under the yarn and then again to get to Mrs. McCall. She helped Mrs. McCall onto the creeper and then gave her a firm push to send her on her way. Erica then decided to show off and made her way out of the maze the old fashion way, again not getting shocked once.

“Color me impressed.” Stiles muttered.

“Speaking of color...” Derek’s fingers slid slowly along the inside of the vest collar.

Stiles smirked. “You like it?”

Derek made a pleased little rumble in response.

“At first I thought it was completely ridiculous, but I don’t know. It’s kinda grown on me.” Stiles admitted.

An increased bit of movement on the monitors drew Stiles attention. It looked like everyone had converged at the top of the stairs, including Lydia and the sheriff.

“We should join them.” Derek sighed.

“Do we have to?” Stiles turned around to face Derek. “We could lock the door, peel each other out of these suits...”

Derek’s eyes dilated in approval, but he shook his head. “Erica was right. We need to rejoin the others.”

“Fine.” Stiles sighed.

Derek went through the maze first. When he made it out without shocking himself, he turned to Stiles with an eyebrow raised in challenge. Stiles inclined his head in acknowledgement and then entered the maze himself. He released the shocking wards because no thank you, but he still went through the maze just like everyone else.

“So... what’s next?” Boyd asked.

Stiles grinned.

The RC cars were a big hit, because they were all secretly little kids at heart. The cars were going pretty much non-stop the whole night, but since it was only three at a time max, the others split their time between poker and trying to get the best times through the mazes. The scavenger hunt was largely ignored until Lydia mentioned that there was a prize at the end for whoever found the most stuff; within half an hour Erica, Jackson, and Scott had found everything on the list, with Jackson taking the prize: bragging rights and the right to choose the next Pack Movie Night entertainment.

Once the sun went down, they all spent a good hour in the forest beyond the backyard with the water Walthers, using the trees and wolfy night vision to their advantage. Until, of course, Stiles busted out the water balloon grenades and pegged Erica right between the shoulder blades. Then what had started as a friendly watergun fight developed into full-scale war. The Betas against the Alphas. Stiles--as a bright red target--was easily spotted and used as distraction while Derek used the trees and his natural stealth to ambush the betas. Stiles would lead them on a quick chase--familiar ground being his only advantage--and then Derek would bombard them with grenades from the trees while Stiles escaped in the confusion.

At one point Danny caught Stiles around the waist, tackling him to the dirt. He was hefted up by Danny and Jackson and forced to his knees. Jackson held his Walther to the back of Stiles’ head and called out to Derek as the other Betas converged on their position. “Come out, or he dies!”

Stiles snorted quietly. “Did you seriously just tell him to ‘come out’ while holding his boyfriend hostage?”

“Shut it Stilinski.” Jackson shot him in the shoulder.

“Ow, oh, I am wounded.” Stiles played along sarcastically. He was having fun after all, even if Jackson was taking it a little too seriously.

“Next shot goes to the back of his skull, Derek.” Jackson warned.

The other betas were sporting amused looks at the display, and Stiles was having some trouble keeping a straight face himself. Movement to the left made everyone turn though, except Stiles who looked right, because that’s where Derek actually was.

Stiles had no idea when or where Derek found the supersoaker.

“The name is Bond. James Bond.” Derek’s delivery was beautiful. He shot high pressured water into Jackson’s chest, and then sent all of his betas running screaming--in delight--as he turned the supersoaker on them. He helped Stiles to his feet as he watched them run away.

“Is this the part where I swoon and sigh, ‘Oh James’?” Stiles joked.

“Are you a Bond Girl?” Derek asked.

Stiles scoffed.

Derek tipped his head up and his eyes unfocused a little. Stiles recognized that look to mean that Derek heard something. “Your father is calling us back to the house.”

“I hope he has towels.” Stiles began the walk back with Derek in tow, comfortably close.

The more rambunctious activities were over for the night, and the sheriff ordered the lockdown to start as he and Mrs. McCall served up the martinis. Poker was still allowed, and a James Bond movie marathon was put on in the living room for anyone who didn’t want to play.

Around one, the sheriff and Mrs. McCall turned in for the evening, disappearing upstairs. The Pack would sleep in the living room, sprawled as they saw fit on sofas, chairs, air mattresses, or even the floor on a nest of blankets. Erica and Boyd cuddled up on the loveseat; Jackson and Lydia shared an air mattress with Danny; Isaac took the recliner; Scott piled a shit-ton of blankets and pillows on the floor between Isaac and Danny; Stiles and Derek shared the couch.

As the TV was finally turned off and everyone had changed and settled down for sleep, Stiles felt the warmth and contentment that came from a happy and peaceful Pack and relaxed fully onto Derek’s chest very proud of himself.

“This was a good idea.” Derek whispered in his ear.

“Yeah? Did you have fun?”

Derek tugged Stiles a little closer on the couch. “I’ve been reliably told I don’t know what fun is.”

“Who’s been spreading such slanderous lies?” Stiles demanded jokingly.

“Scott, Isaac, Jackson...” Derek listed casually, the hint of amusement evident probably only to Stiles.

Stiles snorted. “Your betas, you mean? The people you spend most of your time pounding into the dirt.”

“The same.”

“They haven’t been paying attention then. For you, that is fun.”

“That’s what I said, but they don’t seem to agree.” Derek lamented.

“Well, if it makes you feel better, you can pound me into any surface you want to.” Stiles offered gallantly.

“For the love of all that is holy, make it stop!” Scott whimpered.

Stiles threw a couch pillow at his best friend. “Go to sleep, Scott.”

“You first.” Boyd muttered, disgruntled. Erica jabbed him in the ribs.

“Everyone go to sleep.” Derek ordered a little less quietly.

He readjusted Stiles one more time before the two of them drifted off.

The next day was the last before school started. The Pack trickled slowly out of the house after breakfast, Scott and Derek being the last holdouts. Both of the McCalls stayed for lunch too, before needing to get to respective places of employment. The sheriff actually extended an invitation for Derek to stay for dinner as well since he was free and they wouldn’t get as much free time together once school started. Derek accepted with thanks.

During dinner, Lydia texted Stiles ordering the two of them to get in one last date before school. She reminded Stiles of the bowling alley, but also stated that the movie theatre was acceptable. Derek wasn’t keen on either option, but deemed the movies to be slightly less dangerous to society than Stiles with a bowling ball, much to the sheriff’s amusement.

So it was that Stiles and Derek went to the movies. Derek paid for everything with a card so that the cashier would see his name--a requirement that had him rolling his eyes when Stiles told him--and they sat through a flick with unrealistic explosions and over acting and bad writing and enjoyed the hell out of it because they spent most of the movie heckling (Stiles) and tossing well-aimed popcorn (Derek).

After, Derek drove them back to the Stilinski house to drop Stiles off by 10pm since it was a school night. Stiles groaned, but accepted the unyielding passage of time and necessity for an education as unchangeable facts of life, and trudged up to his room after giving Derek a goodnight kiss.

Stiles didn’t get much in the way of sleep. He’d given the dreamcatcher to Erica before she’d left and was hit by a nightmare that night. He hadn’t had one in a few days, so he supposed he was due. He brushed it off, got dressed, and then hunkered down in front of his laptop. He’d get started on ideas for the prank war before he had to leave for school.

Chapter Text

School was... well, school. It was crowded, loud, and tested his tolerance for stupidity, but it was also school. Stiles was one of those weird kids who liked to learn, and actually enjoyed school, looked forward to it. Well... he had been. Before werewolves were a thing. Now school was sort of an inconvenience that could be potentially dangerous. But still... learning.

Safe to say that Stiles had mixed feelings about the subject.

He had Harris again. Joy of freaking joys. Happily, though, Harris didn’t seem to take too much notice of him that day. Stiles didn’t count on the same thing happening the rest of the year though, so he didn’t get his hopes up.

Coach was also a repeat teacher, but Stiles actually got a kick out of Finstock’s quirkiness, so that was a good thing.

He’d wondered who’d they’d get to teach English since Mr. Trolly had died. Ms. Blake seemed interesting, Stiles decided, as she walked in after sending the class a mass text, but there was something about her he couldn’t quite put his finger on...

He shared her class with Lydia and Scott, and also Allison who was back from France. Lydia had told Stiles she was picking her up from the airport yesterday, and from what short conversation they’d had, it looked as if Lydia wasn’t giving up on Allison or their friendship. Which was fine by Stiles. He didn’t trust Allison, but she wasn’t technically evil, and she’d helped before. It was a good idea to keep tabs on her.

The day actually managed to be Event Free.

Until practice.

“Hope you losers didn’t get flabby over summer break.” Coach announced as he made his way into the locker room.

Stiles looked briefly around at all the stupidly muscled teenagers and scoffed as he pulled off his shirt.

“Stilinski! Something funny?”

“Just laughing at all the overweight, layabouts in your locker room, Coach.” Stiles replied smoothly.

“What about you, Stilinski? Did you get any training done this summer?” Coach Finstock accused.

Stiles caught Scott’s eye and had to bite his lip to keep from laughing at the absurdity of the reality of the answer. “Some.”

“Ever wonder why you’re on the bench Stilinski?” Coach threw his arm around Stiles’ shoulder after he’d put his workout shirt on.

“My interesting commentary and unparalleled wit?”

Finstock shook his head chuckling quietly, “Not even close. It’s because you lack drive! The desire to be the best, to crush your opponent!”

“It’s cross country. I don’t think there’s a lot of crushing involved.” Stiles told him.

Finstock put both hands on his shoulders, looked him dead in the eye, and said seriously. “That is why you fail.”

Finstock was in motion again before Stiles could comment on his Yoda wisdom.

The trail that the team used for cross country running was sort of in the woods, but more... on the edge of the forest. The trees were sparse, but there were also no buildings to speak of. Isaac, Scott, Danny and Stiles--much to Finstock’s surprise--were leading the group. That Stiles was being less flailtastic and actually seemed to possess something resembling stamina was enough to bring out something akin to pride on the coach’s face very briefly before he turned to the others and started shouting.

“Come on, you’re not going to let Stilinski outpace you, are you? That’s a new level of pathetic, even for you Greenburg.”

Stiles set the tempo for the wolves. As the human Pack member, they weren’t going to leave him alone, and it helped them keep up appearances as being good but not supernaturally good. Stiles was also aware of Derek, Erica, and Jackson in the nearby vicinity; though how they were managing to stay hidden was beyond him.

When the shift in the lay lines landed Stiles on his ass, Coach Finstock’s face was the first he saw leaning over him. “Thank God. I was beginning to wonder what alternate universe I was in, Stilinski.”

He chuckled to himself as he ushered the others to just run around their fallen comrade, but Isaac and Scott helped Stiles to his feet.

“Should we be worried?” Danny asked.

“I don’t know yet.” Stiles knew, keenly, that Derek, Erica, and Jackson were listening in now, waiting to hear what happened.

“Derek says they’re spreading out, but that we need to stay with the class.” Isaac informed him.

Stiles nodded. “If it is something bad, they’ll be in trouble.”

The four of them caught up easily. Stiles told Scott and Danny to take the lead while he and Isaac would stay at the back.

Because Stiles was well versed in werewolf behavior and observant, he noticed when Isaac caught something that was Not Normal. From the way he turned his head ever so slightly, Stiles would guess it was a sound.

“Direction?” Stiles asked.

Isaac pointed to the right. “Not sure how far.”

“What is it?” Stiles had already slowed his pace a little so it would just seem like he was lagging behind. Hopefully Finstock would keep going, as he appeared inclined to do.

“Music.” Isaac frowned.

Stiles popped his knuckles clenching them so hard. “Sirens?”

“No... Less singing, more...”

“Pan pipes.” Derek had snuck up to them.

Stiles turned to him. “Pan pipes? As in satyrs?”

Derek shrugged. “Haven’t met any before.”

“They’re supposed to be friendly...” Stiles offered, making his way to the right.

Derek and Isaac followed.

Erica and Jackson were keeping an eye on the others with Scott and Danny. Better to assume they weren’t out of the woods yet, literally or metaphorically.

Stiles lead the way through the trees; not too long after leaving the class he started to hear the music as well. He opened his sense of magic a little and used it as a more direct guide to the source.

As they neared, Stiles whispered, “Try to look... less menacing.”

“They’re in my territory--”

“Not by choice, probably, and they’re allies.”

“You don’t know that. You just assume they’re satyrs.” Isaac pointed out.

Stiles shot him a look.

He shot him another look when they entered a clearing and saw short goat-men dancing around playing on pan pipes. Stiles made a Vanna White gesture and mouthed “Satyrs.”

The movement seemed to catch their attention, and the music stopped abruptly as the satyrs looked ready to bolt.

Stiles held his hands up about mid-chest level in the universal unarmed gesture. “Greetings from the Hale Pack, protectors of this territory.”

The satyrs looked, perhaps, even more nervous, but one of them stepped marginally closer. “You are not Wolfkin.”

“Not personally, no. This is Derek, the Alpha, and Isaac. I’m Stiles.”

His name caused many of the satyrs to shift from the flight response to cautious curiosity. The one that had spoken before took another step forward. “You are Bruxa.”

“You’ve heard of me.”

“The Dryads spoke of Bruxa Stiles, hag-slayer and healer.”

“That’s me I guess, but the hag thing was more of a group effort.” Stiles conceded.

“Then we are in Beacon Forest? We confess, Bruxa Stiles, we did not mean to come here.” The satyr apologized. “We were preparing for the celebration of the Harvest Moon, and then we were here.”

Stiles nodded. “It happens.”

“Are you unable to go back?” Isaac asked, curious.

The satyrs all shifted as if nervous. “We... do not wish to.”

“Why?” Derek inquired.

“There is power here; this land, the trees, the very air, it teems with it. You feel it, do you not?” The satyr pleaded. “We are few and scattered, and places like this are rare. We could... thrive. We mean no harm.”

Stiles turned to Derek a little. “Couldn’t hurt; more allies is always a good thing.”

“You’re sure about them?”

“Lovers not fighters; they’re more likely to throw crazy parties than wage any kind of war.” Stiles informed him dutifully.

“Will you stay out of human sight?” Derek asked the satyrs.

“Trees are far better companions than cold rock.” The satyr promised.

Derek nodded. “Here is too close to the city. Move further into the forest, and you should be fine.”

A couple other satyrs approached with the first and bowed a little before offering each of them their panpipes. “A gift for our hosts.”

“Allow me to officially offer you sanctuary within Hale territory.” Derek was a little stiff with the formality of delivery, but it was adequate. He and the others accepted the gifts and watched as the satyrs seemed to flicker from view to head deeper into the forest.

“That went well.” Stiles declared.

“For once.” Derek allowed.

“We should get back.” Isaac tucked the instrument into his jacket pocket.

Derek agreed. “We’ll talk more after practice.”

Stiles and Isaac caught up to their classmates and moved their way up through the gasping and heaving bodies to the front where Danny and Scott were keeping a steady pace. They matched and led the way back to the school. After cool-down stretches and showers, they were released and Stiles filled Scott and Danny in on what they missed.

“We got lucky.” Danny pointed out. “The team would’ve been easy targets if they hadn’t been friendly.”

“I know.” Stiles nodded. “If we can’t get this under control, it’s going to be a lot harder to keep it all a secret.”

“I don’t want to say it, but dude... Maybe we should... I don’t know. Tell somebody.” Scott suggested.

The others looked at him. “Who, Scott? Okay? You realize how insane this situation sounds right? No one is going to believe us without proof.”

“It’s not like we don’t have proof.” Isaac allowed.

Stiles shook his head. “No. It’s too risky. The wrong person finds out and we have feds and worse knocking on our doors in the middle of the night to whisk you all away to some secret underground lab, never to be heard from again. Or! On the other side of that, we’re all lynched in town square. No.”

“It was just a suggestion.” Scott sighed.

“Actually...” Isaac looked like he had an idea.

“What? Something to add?”

“What if we just... told Coach? He’s already a little...” Isaac twirled his finger around his temple. “No one would believe him if he said anything.”

“He makes the practice schedule; if he knew, he could keep them out of the forest.” Danny agreed.

“No.” Stiles insisted. “Still too risky. He’d make some unsubtle comment, and then we’re back to the lynching. No. Not unless we have to.”

The subject was dropped, but the entire Pack showed up for cross country practices to keep the team safe if anything should happen.

The day of the full moon was a little tense. Erica, Boyd, and Danny weren’t yet in full control of their wolves during the full moon and that translated over to their behavior during the day. Erica and Byod spent their day with Derek, so they were better off than Danny. Stiles, Scott, and Isaac made sure to stick as close to Danny as possible, never leaving him alone if they could help it.

Danny was well-liked in the school, so no one gave him trouble during the day. He could go around school with a short fuse and not have it go off because people didn’t do things to aggravate him. There were other things that were a little beyond their control, however.

Like bullies.

It was lunchtime and Danny and Isaac were already sitting with Lydia at their table. Scott and Allison were doing an awkward dance of “Do you mind?” “No go ahead” with their seats, and Stiles was getting his lunch.

As he made his way to the table, a rather large senior and his equally large friends stepped in to block his path. Stiles took in their aggressive postures and malicious smirks and sighed.

“Don’t, okay? This is a bad day for this.” Stiles tried.

“Ah, is the twink missing his muscle man?” One of them taunted.

Oh, lovely. His first experience with homophobia.

“Shh,” Stiles held out a finger, pleading for silence, “sh, you really don’t want to do this.”

The biggest bully grabbed his hand, yanked, twisted and had Stiles’ arm up behind his back, tray crashing to the floor. “Don’t touch me, queer!”

“I believe you’re the one touching me.” Stiles grunted. “And you should stop before--”

“Hey!” Scott shouted.

“Too late.”

He was released as the bullies turned to look at their who was coming to his defense. Scott, Allison, and Lydia were on their feet behind the bullies, while Isaac was busy keeping Danny from doing anything too werewolfy.

“What exactly do you think you’re doing?” Lydia demanded.

“Lyds. I can handle this.” Stiles gave her a significant glance towards Danny as he rubbed his wrist lightly.

She glared daggers at the seniors, but stepped back to go help Danny. Scott and Allison were far more reluctant, which was fine. If the bullies didn’t get the hint, the two of them would be a big help.

“Let me explain to you how this is a stupid idea.” Stiles started, straightening his shoulders. “One, you’re in the middle of the cafeteria during lunch. There are witness everywhere. Two, this school district takes a very serious stance against bullying and hate crimes, both of which you’re committing. And, most importantly, my father is the sheriff; just how exactly did you imagine this scenario going?”

The entire room was silent as they waited for the bullies to respond.

“You should leave. Now.” Danny’s voice manage not to be a complete wolf-growl, but it was definitely deeper and more wild than he normally talked.

It was enough of a shock that it got the bullies moving. They pushed their way out of the lunchroom, and Stiles did his best to salvage his lunch. He and his friends sat at the table as conversation once again picked up in the cafeteria.

“That was weird.” Allison frowned. “I didn’t think homophobia was that big an issue at this school.”

“It isn’t usually.” Lydia replied, haughtily.

“I’m not popular like Danny, and I don’t have the body of a greek god either, so... easier target all that jazz.” Stiles shrugged.

“Well it won’t happen again, that’s for certain.” Scott grumped.

Stiles patting him on the shoulder. “It might, but not anywhere as public.”

“You should take self-defense.” Allison told him. “Just in case it happens when Scott and the others aren’t around.”

“I’ll look into it.” Stiles spoke over the Pack’s protestations that Stiles could handle himself before they were spoken. He actually didn’t want Allison or her father to know that he was Bruxa. Not because he thought they would come after him, but because word might get out to other hunters who would.

The rest of lunch and the day passed without incident, and Stiles took the betas to Derek’s while Lydia and Allison had a girls day. When the sun went down, Lydia would join them--with a few safety precautions--so that the Pack could be together for the full moon. Even Leeloo would be there.

Traditionally, a new wolf would be restrained with chains to keep them from harming themselves or others. Stiles found this to be a bit brutal, but he’d done it to Scott himself on more than one occasion, so he wasn’t going to get all high and mighty about it. However. He had a better option.

“Mountain ash.” Stiles held up his jar of the powder proudly as he walked into Derek’s loft. “Gone are the days of chains and blood; with a human, a Spark, we can do this with a lot less metal.”

Derek just rolled his eyes.

“This is better and you know it.”

Derek acknowledged that comment as truth with a slight tilt of his head, so Stiles set up two circles of ash; one around Danny, and the other for Erica and Boyd. If they got control of their wolves, and Stiles suspected Erica and Boyd might, then Stiles would be able to let them out to join the rest of the Pack.

“Why are they separated?” Leeloo asked.

“They don’t have control yet; the mountain ash will keep them from hurting anyone.” Stiles explained.

“I know that,” she stuck her tongue out at him, “I meant why is Danny separated from the others?”

“They don’t like being apart when they aren’t being driven by the moon; I didn’t want to make it even harder for them to find control. But Danny isn’t close like they are; he’ll be better off on his own.” Stiles elaborated.

Leeloo nodded her understanding.

As the moon rose, Stiles watched his Pack. Isaac and Derek leaned a little into the light as it poured through the window, enjoying the feel of the pull without needing to surrender to it. Jackson and Peter were ambivalent to the light, choosing to do their own thing rather than pay it any mind. Jackson and Lydia snuggled up on the couch, and Peter read on the staircase. Scott--calmer than he’d been the last full moon--sat passively next to Stiles and Leeloo as the draw of the moon turned Danny, Erica, and Boyd into their beta forms.

Stiles put a little extra strength into the calming wards lining the walls and watched as Erica and Boyd fought to gain control. Derek was there, moving between the circles of ash to talk to his betas. Offering them encouragement and advice and words of comfort. Within an hour, Erica and Boyd had control.

Stiles looked to Derek who then went to Erica and Boyd.

“Found an anchor?” He asked.

“My grandmother.” Boyd nodded. “You’d like her.”

Erica looked shy for a moment, “Do I have to share?”

“An anchor grounds you, reminds you of your humanity; if you’re ashamed of it...” Derek started.

“Not ashamed.” Erica objected. “Just...” she sighed. “It’s Stiles, okay?”

The Pack looked to him for a moment with varying expressions, but Derek nodded. “Your anchor is what works for you; it can be someone you know, someone you care about, a feeling, a memory, a significant object. As long as it works. I only pushed because it needs to be a strong connection. If you were ashamed of what you’d chosen, the connection wouldn’t have been as strong and you’d risk losing control.”

“You’re not... mad?” She asked.

Derek shook his head. “He done a lot for you, he’s your friend, and one of your alphas; you have every right to choose him as your anchor.”

She smiled and went to move toward Derek, but the circle of ash stopped her. Stiles hopped up and jedi’d the ring open so that they could move freely about the loft. He was scooped up in a hug by Erica when she was free, and he hugged her in return.

“Good for you, Catwoman.” Stiles whispered.

When she let him go, Boyd turned to him and let Stiles clap him on the shoulder in congratulations. Both of them got physical congratulations from Derek as well before moving on to the rest of the Pack.

Danny was still snarling, though, and probably would for a few months yet. It wasn’t a big surprise since his he was Bitten a little over a month ago. Derek and Stiles took turns with Lydia and Jackson, talking to him and offering comfort throughout the moon’s power.

The others spent their time together, playing video games or talking, and Derek and Stiles would join in when it wasn’t their turn to be with Danny. Overall, it was a good night.

Stiles wanted to take the next day off from school so that he could go with his dad to talk to Erica’s mother and Boyd’s grandmother, but his idea was vetoed. He went to school, but found it hard to focus. He was antsy the whole time and when the bell finally rang, he was out the door almost before it had stopped ringing.

TO: sourwolf
4:08pm

How’d it go?

FROM: sourwolf
4:09pm

They just left the station. I’m meeting Boyd and his grandmother first.

Stiles threw the Jeep into gear and tore out of the lot headed to Erica’s. He made it there and waited a few minutes for the police cruiser to leave before parking and knocking on the door. Erica’s mom answered, she looked stressed, and less happy that Stiles would have expected.

“Can I help you?”

“I know it’s really soon, but can I talk to Erica? I’m a friend from school.”

She huffed. “Word travels fast I see.”

“Stiles!” Erica came to the door. “Mom, let him in.”

Mrs. Reyes hesitated but eventually opened the door. Erica pulled Stiles into a hug as soon as he was in the door. “I’m so glad you’re here.”

Well that sounded less than awesome. Erica actually sounded fairly close to breaking down, and Stiles had no idea what was making her so upset. She pulled him further into the house and to her room before he could ask.

“What’s wrong?”

“I don’t think she’s happy I’m back.” Erica whispered.

Stiles frowned. “What?”

“She lied. I heard it in her heartbeat. She’s not glad to have me home.”

Stiles tried to rub a soothing hand along her back, but she kind of just curled up and used his lap for a pillow at the first touch. Stiles stroked her hair gently while she cried. “Do you want to wait for Derek, or should we just go for it?”

She sniffed. “She’s not going to like it either way, but... now. If she reacts badly, it’s just us in trouble. If Derek’s here, he’d risk exposure.”

Stiles thought about her logic and agreed to do it her way.

They stepped out from her bedroom once Erica had collected herself and made their way to the kitchen where her mom was just... sitting.

“Mom?”

She looked over. “Want something already?”

Stiles fought really hard not to break his cool. He found he rather disliked this woman.

“I want to tell you something really important.” She tried.

“Oh God, you’re pregnant aren’t you. This the father?”

“No, Mom! I’m not pregnant.” Erica defended. “I’m just... I want to tell you why... I’ve been acting differently.”

“You mean whoring yourself out?”

“Hey!” Stiles snapped. “She’s trying to tell you something really fucking important, so maybe you could pull your head out of your--”

“I don’t need to be talked down by a child.” Mrs. Reyes glared at him.

“Then act like a caring parent for a few minutes and listen.” Erica retorted.

It seemed to get her mother’s attention. “What am I supposed to do, Erica? You’ve completely changed; you’re not the little girl I knew and I have no idea what’s happened. You won’t talk to me about anything, you’re gone every night, you run away? What am I supposed to do?”

“Just... let me try to explain what happened.” Erica pleaded.

“Fine.” Mrs. Reyes told them to sit. “So talk.”

“Some of this is going to be hard to understand, but I promise I’m telling the truth.” Erica started. “I’m different now because I’ve... changed. I was given an option to be better and I took it, and at first... at first I didn’t handle it well, but I’ve gotten a lot better at it, and I promise that some things are going to change, but others aren’t. I’m still going to be out a lot, but I promise to talk to you more.”

“Erica.” Her mom said. “You were fine as you were.”

“No, I wasn’t. I had seizures and no confidence and no friends. I was teased mercilessly. I couldn’t stand it.”

“You have epilepsy. This isn’t something you can wish away, but it does get easier with time and medication.”

“Or a Bite.” Erica offered weakly. At her mom’s confused look, she continued. “This is the hard part. That option I mentioned, wasn’t a new medication or anything. It was a Bite. From a werewolf.”

Mrs. Reyes’ hands went to her mouth. “Erica. There’s no such thing--”

Erica shifted. “As werewolves?”

Her mother was up out of her chair and backing away. “Wh-what?”

“Erica is a werewolf.” Stiles took over. “She’s not a danger to you; she has control over her shifts. We made sure of it last night.”

Mrs. Reyes tore her eyes away from Erica and focused on Stiles. “We?”

“The Pack.” Stiles clarified. “She’s not the only werewolf in town, but I swear to you that the Pack isn’t dangerous.”

“You’re not... like that...?”

Stiles frowned. “That is your daughter. She’s still Erica, just without the seizures.”

“Mom--” Erica shifted back.

“No. Don’t. This isn’t real. This isn’t possible.” She muttered.

“It is real.” Stiles told her gently. “Erica chose to let you in on this secret because she wants to stop lying to you, wants you to be a part of--”

“No!” Mrs. Reyes shouted. “I won’t be one of those things!”

“No one has offered to Turn you.” Stiles said coldly. “There are quite a few humans in the Pack, actually. All she wanted was to let you into her life.”

“No. I want no part of it.” Mrs. Reyes shook her head, tears streaming down her face. For the first time since Erica shifted, Mrs. Reyes looked at her. “You should have stayed gone. Please leave.”

Erica started to cry again, so Stiles stood her up and turned so that she had to look at him rather than Mrs. Reyes. “Go pack anything you want to take with you.” She shook, not a seizure, but just waves of sorrow. “Sooner we leave, the sooner we’ll be with the others.”

She gave a small nod and hurried off to her room to get her things. When she was gone, Stiles rounded on Mrs. Reyes.

“This might be the last time you see her.” Stiles informed her as he sketched temporary anti-eavesdropping glyphs in the air. “You really want to do this?”

“She’s a monster.” Mrs. Reyes snapped.

“She’s a teenage girl. You’re the monster.” Stiles stated.

“What are you doing?” She followed the path of his fingers.

“Keeping her from listening in.” Stiles answered. “Werewolves have excellent hearing.”

Mrs. Reyes flinched at the word.

“Since you’ve made up your mind, here’s what’s going to happen. I’ll be back either later today or tomorrow with my dad, the sheriff, and we’re going to give you a bunch of paperwork to sign. You sign them, we leave. No muss, no fuss.”

“These some kind of gag order?” She glared at him.

“No. No need for a gag order. You tell anyone your daughter is a werewolf and they’ll lock you up in a room with rubber walls, snug and cozy in an I-Love-Me jacket, faster than you can say non compos mentis.” Stiles explained. “The paperwork is for Erica. Allowing her to live free from you so that she won’t have to come to you for this, that, and the other. She can do it herself.”

Stiles left then, dispelling the temporary glyph as he went to help Erica with her bags. They piled them into the Jeep, Stiles started the car, and they drove away.

Stiles took her to Boyd’s. Derek was still there when he parked, so he hoped that was a good sign.

They tentatively knocked on the door and were let in by a tiny, little, old lady.

She took one look at them and said, “Child, that is a gloomy look for such a pretty face. Come in here, Mami Boyd will make it all better.” Erica smiled a little sadly and let herself be led in by the old woman. “Vernon, čhavo, get your woman something sweet to put a smile on her face.”

“How did--”

“Your aura and his are all over each other.” She gave Erica a knowing look.

Stiles was intrigued.

Erica lifted an eyebrow. “Did you say aura?”

“I did.”

“She’s a Seer.” Derek informed him from the doorway to the kitchen.

“I am not.” Mami Boyd scolded, smacking Derek on his well-chiseled chest--since that was as far as she could reach. “I know you heard me, Baro. I said I have the Sight. That does not mean I am a Seer. Surely a wolf knows the difference.”

“So you’ve been told?” Erica asked.

“Mami knew all along, apparently.” Boyd gave Erica a large cookie when he stepped out of the kitchen. “Saw it on me the day I was Bit.”

“Of course I knew. Shame on you, čhavo, trying to keep it from your Mami like that.” She muttered.

“I didn’t want to frighten you.” Boyd tried.

“You could not frighten me with all your fur and fang; no, you disappearing was frightening.”

Stiles felt the corner of his mouth twitch. “What all does the Sight... do?”

She turned to look at him and winced. “Daenna! I need sunglasses to look at you.”

“Um... Sorry?” Stiles apologized.

“So much power in one so young.” She tutted. “My abilities are not like yours. I See auras, I See power, but I cannot manipulate energies. I observe but do not interact.”

“Is there anything I can do to... help with the...” He was at a bit of a loss. He didn’t want her to be uncomfortable just from his presence.

She shook her head. “Relax. I am fine.”

While they’d been talking, Boyd and Erica had slipped into the kitchen. Stiles could just see them leaning against a counter, Erica in Boyd’s arms as she munched on her cookie. Mami Boyd and Derek followed his line of sight when his attention wandered.

She sighed sadly and spoke a bit softer. “She is troubled.”

“Her mom kicked her out.” Stiles told them. “Didn’t want anything to do with her once she found out.”

“Dilo gaji.” Mami Boyd spat.

“There’s room for her at the loft.” Derek decided.

“No.” Mami Boyd shook her head. “The bori will stay with us.”

“Mami.” Boyd’s head shot up. “I think bori is a little...”

“Tell me I am wrong, čhavo.” She taunted.

“What? What does bori mean?” Erica asked.

Mami Boyd smirked. “A wish for the future.”

“Your granny is cryptic; tell me.” Erica demanded.

“Are you sure you want her to stay?” Derek asked.

“Yes.” Mami Boyd declared. “Do not worry, Baro, they will be good here.”

Erica was getting persistent. “How about that one? What does Baro mean?”

“Leader; she’s addressing him as the Alpha.” Boyd told her.

“So you can answer. What does bori mean?” Erica tried again.

“Her stuff is in the Jeep.” Stiles offered Derek an escape.

He nodded and followed Stiles out to the Jeep. They gathered everything up and brought it back into the house where Mami Boyd directed them to a room. It was Boyd’s judging by the few items that Stiles saw within. Apparently Mami Boyd was under no illusions.

“There are a few more things to talk about.” Derek mentioned as he set the bags down. “Erica and Boyd want to attend Memorial instead of Beacon Hills High.”

“Understandable and doable. I will submit the paperwork tomorrow.”

“They’ve both got control over their wolves, so full moons that aren’t spent together as a Pack will still be safe.”

“I assume this why you all waited until after the full moon. To make sure?”

Derek nodded.

“Are you going to tell me where they were?” She asked, much less friendly than she’d been before.

“They were taken by another Pack.” Derek simplified. “We rescued them only a month ago.”

She softened. “So that is why. I See the stain it left; I wondered.”

“I need to talk to my dad about some paperwork that needs Mrs. Reyes’ signature.” Stiles changed the subject. He wasn’t the one to tell Mami Boyd what had happened, and he didn’t want to know if the same stain was on his aura.

“Yes, yes. Much to be done. Go. Both of you. We will be fine.” Mami Boyd insisted, showing them to the door.

Stiles managed a wave in the general direction of the kitchen before heading to his car. From what he could hear, Erica and Boyd were still arguing over language, so he wasn’t too upset to be leaving.

He called Lydia first. “Lyds, I need a favor.”

“What is it?”

“I need you to talk to Mr. Whittemore about drafting up some emancipation forms for Erica.” Stiles told her.

There was an intake of breath. “That bad?”

“Kicked her out, never wants to see her again.” Stiles confirmed.

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“Keep me posted.”

He hung up and called his father. “Good news, bad news. Which do you want first?”

“Bad news.”

“Okay. Bad news: Mrs. Reyes freaked out, kicked Erica to the curb. I’ve got Lydia working with the Whittemore's to draw up emancipation forms to make it official. Good news: Boyd’s grandmother is awesome and took Erica in as well.”

“Okay. I’ll see what I can do to smooth the process. Talk to you later, Kiddo.”

From there he drove to the loft to share the news with the rest of the Pack. They were appropriately outraged at Mrs. Reyes, but Derek told them not to do anything. It was a gamble to have her know about them, they didn’t need to make it even riskier by scaring her further. It was pretty much unanimously agreed--Peter didn’t vote--that Mami Boyd be brought into the Pack as well.

Stiles gathered all the school-going betas after that and had them hand over their syllabi for their classes. They all shared at least one class with another member of the Pack, but there were still plenty of classes that weren’t shared, and Stiles wanted zero room for error. He’d take all of the currently constructed lesson plans and make a study schedule for each of them because if they had a schedule, it would be harder to procrastinate. Maybe he was going a bit overboard, but if this semester was anything like the last, academics would be the first thing to fall to the wayside when shit hit the fan, and that wasn’t good for anyone.

Eventually, Derek kicked them out because it was getting late and they had school the next day.

When Stiles shuffled into his room, intent on more scheduling, his phone beeped with a text.

FROM: Heather
10:12pm

Stiles, I want you to come to my bday party Sat. I haven't seen you in 4ever!!

Stiles came to a full stop mid-way through putting his stuff down. It had been ages since he’d seen or heard from Heather. After his mom had died, the playdates had slowed to a crawl, and then ended completely around middle school. From there on it had been an email, a Facebook comment, once or twice a year.

He could definitely stand to see her again.

TO: Heather
10:14pm

Just tell me when and where.

She texted him the details and he made a reminder on his phone.

Once that was done, he tried to sleep.

Chapter Text

As it turned out, his dad went the next day to Mrs. Reyes’ house while Stiles was at school so that he wouldn’t be there. He told him about it later, that she’d signed without complaint, and he got Whittemore’s help again in getting it processed as soon as possible. Mami Boyd also did what she had to to get Boyd and Erica transferred to Memorial High School, ready to start classes on Monday.

Stiles decided that since Heather went to Memorial that Erica and Boyd should come to the party too. He ran it by them and Scott, asked if they’d come with. He asked Isaac too, but the usually eager pup declined, said he already had plans for Saturday night.

As the made their way to Heather’s doorstep, Scott spoke his first word of protest.

“How well do you really know this girl?” Scott asked.

Stiles gave him an amused look of confusion. “Pretty well, Scotty. We were best friends growing up, but drifted a little in recent years. She’s cool though.”

“How come you never talk about her?” Erica wondered.

Stiles shrugged. “We were closest just before my mom died; I don’t really... talk about that time much.”

Boyd squeezed his shoulder.

“So why are we here?” Scott frowned at the house a little.

“Because, Scott,” Stiles sighed, “this is a chance for Erica and Boyd to meet other Memorial students, and a great opportunity for you to mingle with girls that aren’t Allison or Pack. It’ll be a healthy experience for you.”

Erica snorted and bumped Scott’s shoulder on her way to the door. Stiles beat her to it, turned to make sure he had everyone with him, and smiled before knocking. Behind him, Erica giggled a little.

“What?” He asked.

“She’s laughing at someone’s conversation.” Boyd supplied, wrapping his arm securely around Erica’s waist.

Someone--just a party-goer--opened the door and gestured for them to come on in. Stiles saw Heather so he made his way forward.

“Stiles!” She smiled widely and stepped into his hug.

And planted a kiss right on his lips before he could introduce everyone.

Stiles was stunned into inaction. This certainly wasn’t what he’d been expecting. At all.

Someone cleared their throat behind him and he leaned back enough to break the kiss. “Hea-ther.” He stuttered.

“I’m so glad you could make it.”

He was still dazed from the abrupt affection, but he very clearly felt the heat of Erica and Boyd behind him. It was enough for his brain to kick back into proper gear. “Yeah... Heather, not that it isn’t awesome to see you again, but I’m--”

“Gay.” A vaguely familiar girl said from behind Heather’s shoulder.

“Spoken for.” Stiles finished.

Heather looked confused and a little put out. “You’re gay?”

“No. Technically I’m bi, not that it matters. Like I said, spoken for. I’m sorry,” Stiles frowned.

She huffed. “Well there goes that idea.”

“What--”

“Let’s just move on from this awkward ass moment.” The girl behind Heather suggested. “Hi, I’m Danielle.”

“You were at Lydia’s party.” Stiles suddenly remembered.

“Yeah, that was me.” She said without shame.

“Right.” Stiles shook himself a little. “Anyway, Heather. This is Scott, Boyd, and Erica.”

“Hi,” Erica smiled predatorily, “it is so nice to meet you.”

Stiles nudged her. “Play nice.”

Never let it be said that Stiles let an awkward situation deter him from his goals. Stiles managed to tell Heather that Erica and Boyd would be going to Memorial and that he thought the party would be a good place for them to meet a few of their future classmates before school started. It seemed Heather was eager to move beyond the uncomfortable greeting and happily began to introduce them to a few of her friends. His goal for Scott was less successful. He mingled, but didn’t seem interested in anyone he met. Stiles was still glad to have him there, though.

The party ended around three, and it was nice to see Heather again once they’d moved past the kiss. He dropped Erica and Boyd off first, then Scott before going home. With luck he’d stay awake long enough for a shower.

He stumbled into his room after his shower to find Derek there.

“Hey.”

This kiss was much more welcome. Stiles allowed Derek to support most of his weight as he sort of melted into it.

“You still smell like her.” Derek told him quietly.

Stiles sighed. “Erica tell you?”

“I have spies everywhere.” Derek nodded. He guided Stiles down to the bed. “You know what else my spies tell me?”

“Depends on the spy.” Stiles muttered.

Derek shot him a quick smirk before going serious. “That you haven’t been sleeping.”

“I sleep.”

Derek looked skeptical.

“Nightmares. Not all the time, but...” Stiles shrugged. “It’s not like I don’t sleep.”

“Maybe you should make your own dreamcatcher.” Derek suggested.

Stiles wavered. “Maybe, but… like I told Erica, magic isn’t a cure-all and shouldn’t replace natural healing. I can handle it.”

“If it becomes a problem--”

“I’ll do something about it. I promise.”

Derek sighed, but nodded. He settled the two of them down on the bed and coaxed Stiles into sleep with his warmth. With Derek by his side, Stiles was graced with a dreamless sleep that night.

Stiles hunkered down and got ready for the first prank the next day. He decided that the first of the pranks had to be something… particularly special. In order to inspire a war, a give and take, it had to be something that encouraged retaliation. He had Ercia and Boyd and even Heather now at Memorial that could get the ball rolling, but he wanted to give them something worth while to work with. He scoured the Internet for ideas, of course, and there were several that really caught his eye, though not all of them feasible--even he couldn’t easily scrounge up three pigs in a town like Beacon Hills, after all--but it was enough to get his own creative juices flowing.

Prank chosen, Stiles enlisted Lydia and Derek for preparation, and Isaac and Scott to help him with execution. He and Lydia made their way through every Wal-Mart, Target, and random toy store in three cities before they had enough rubber ducks for Stiles’ purposes. Once they were done with acquisition, they took the ducks to the loft for phase two. Four of the rubber ducks were larger than the others, which Stiles used to send the message. Upon the underside of each of the large ducks, Stiles had Derek--because the guy had crazy neat and legible handwriting--scribe the message in Sharpie, one word per duck: “Your Move Memorial. BHHS.”

Once that was done and night had fallen, Stiles initiated phase three. Isaac and Scott met him at the loft where they loaded up the ducks into the Jeep. There wasn’t room for passengers afterward, but Isaac and Scott were fine taking Scott’s new motorbike. They made their way to Memorial High School, staying off as many main roads as possible. They parked, unloaded the ducks, and made their way to the building. A little ingenuity, a small application of force, and ten minutes later they were in. They made their way to the pool quickly and started unloading their burden. The last ducks to be placed in the water were the four large ones, which each took a corner.

Job done, prank pulled, the three left.

Stiles managed to get a few hours of sleep that night.

It didn’t take long for news of the prank to reach the ears of BHHS student body. The cafeteria was buzzing with chatter about it by lunchtime, theories about who could have done it were tossed about, but more importantly--to Stiles anyway--was chatter that he overheard about ideas for the next prank. Apparently the students of Beacon Hills were all too eager for something to alleviate the boredom.

When Stiles and the others convened at the loft after practice, Erica and Boyd were already there. This was a fact that Stiles came to understand when he got pegged in the head with a rubber duck as he walked in.

“I think that’s a little uncalled for.” Stiles rubbed his forehead and he picked the yellow bathtime projectile from the floor.

“Two hours, Stilinski.” Erica snapped.

Stiles looked to Scott and Isaac for clarity. When they both shook their heads, he turned back to Erica. “Um, what?”

“We spent two hours in the principal's office,” she chucked a duck at him, “being questioned about your prank!” Another duck. “They thought it was us!” She threw another duck, at his chest this time.

“Ah! I’m sorry! Jesus, stop with the,” he dodged a fifth, “duck throwing.”

“They let you keep them?” Scott asked, picking up the fallen fowel.

“No!” Another duck, this time at Scott, which he caught and tossed back. “I stole them. Lots of kids did. I think the four big ones were taken by Heather.”

As yet another duck flew pass Stiles’ head, he turned to Derek. “Are you going to put a stop to this?”

“You’re not going to die from rubber ducks.” He replied casually and kept reading his book.

Erica stuck her tongue out at Stiles in victory.

Memorial’s retaliation happened Friday.

“Why is everyone standing outside the door?” Stiles asked as he, Isaac, Scott, and Danny pushed their way through the throng of people standing outside the locker rooms after school.

That’s when they heard Finstock.

“Someone take this steroid-ridden birthday party from hell out of my locker room! What the hell is taking so long?”

The cross country boys all looked at each other apprehensively, but Stiles finally pushed his way to the front of the group. It was then that he got a good look at what was causing such a stir. The door to the locker room was open, but entry was impeded by a veritable wall of balloons.

“Whoa.”

“Stilinski!” Finstock barked. “Is this one of your crazy schemes that I don’t want the details of?”

“Can’t take credit for this one Coach.” Stiles smirked. “I think this is Memorial’s retaliation for the ducks.”

“Don’t look so amused, Stilinski.” Finstock began. “You’re cleaning it up.”

“What? Why me?”

“Because I said so, and next to Greenburg, you’re my favorite to pick on.” When Stiles was about to protest further, Finstock added, “And because I know those ducks came from your twisted brain, so consider this detention.”

Stiles frowned and ignored the laughter behind him as he moved forward to start clearing the balloons.

“The rest of you! Practice is cancelled on account of too much damned frivolity in the locker rooms. Get out of here.”

With Scott, Isaac, and Danny helping, it took an hour to pop all of the balloons and clean up the remains. By time they were finished, someone had created a website devoted to tracking the pranks. There were pictures from both pranks--Stiles thought he might have heard a few camera shutters while cleaning--a ranking system, and a comments section. Stiles was impressed and proud.

He already had a plan for BHHS’s retaliation. Using an anonymous account, he posted a comment alluding to such a plan being in the works. At least at first, he wanted to keep the pranking to a minimum. Too many people trying to participate would get hectic and probably lead to eventual property damage or actual illegal activities which would cause the authorities to actively prevent and prosecute pranksters.

This next prank required heavy lifting, so Stiles decided to take Jackson and Scott. Since there weren’t any materials required for this one, they were able to travel quiet. They walked from Stiles’ home Sunday night to Memorial, sticking to the forest as much as possible to avoid being seen. When they arrived, they saw a rent-a-cop guarding the entrance to the gym and Stiles smirked smugly. As if they’d pull a second prank in the gym. He led the others around to a door on the opposite side of the building, using the same tricks to get in as last time.

The relocating of the teacher’s lounge to the roof was an involved process. It wasn’t as simple as bringing all of the furniture up. No. Stiles wouldn’t settle for a half-assed job. The furniture was arranged, appliances were placed and plugged in using extension cords, and sunscreen was left as a courtesy. It was a lovely little set up, and Stiles hoped someone would be able to get a picture of it for the website before the administration had it taken down.

On the way back to the house, the three of them in varying stages of tiredness, there was a ley line shift that had Stiles clutching at a nearby tree for support. When the wave ended, they were all on high alert; all sleepiness erased, replaced by adrenaline.

By some definition of luck, the ley line dumped its passenger practically onto their laps. The creature was disoriented by its abrupt arrival, and that gave Stiles time to look it over and identify it. Hindquarters of a goat but larger, attached to the forelegs of a lion, the body was easily bigger than either animal ought to have been. The tail wasn’t a simple tuft of fur either, no, it had a snake for a tail. If that weren’t enough, the heads--plural--were, left to right, that of an insane ram, an angry lion, and a large lizard. Stiles would go so far as to say dragon, even.

“Chimera.” Stiles and Scott breathed in more than a little fear filled awe.

“Back up would be good.” Jackson growled, moving in to attack while the beast was still adjusting. He and Scott moved to flank, but when there were heads enough for all of them, flanking was a little less effective.

Stiles gave a sharp yank on the Pack bond that was Derek, hoping to wake him up. He backed up a little, back to a tree, and pulled his phone out to dial.

Derek answered just after the first ring.

“Stiles what--”

“Chimera!”

“Stilinski! Get your magic ass over here and help!” Jackson shouted.

Stiles winced, “It’s immune!”

From what he had read, Stiles had really hoped that a chimera would never show up in Beacon Hills. Especially not while only minimal Pack members were available to assist. Chimera were old, strong, fast, mean, and immune to magic. Stiles theorized it was the dragon part that gave it the immunity, but it could just as easily have been due to sick gods that enjoyed fucking with early humanity.

“I’m on my way.” Derek told him; Stiles had almost forgotten he was on the line.

“Cool. We’ll be here.” Stiles tried to sound blasé, but the dragon head chose that moment to spout a gout of fire into the air, which Derek no doubt heard.

Jackson wrestled the goat head with a large branch he’d found. “Do goats have fangs like this?”

“Not normally.” Stiles shook his head.

The branch snapped. “Fantastic.”

Scott grasped the dragon head by the horns and was attempting to pull the beast away from Stiles while dodging the occasional swipe from a lethally clawed paw. The chimera had its lion head firmly focused on Stiles, however, and seemed determined to get to him. Jackson had the goat head in a headlock, and whether he was trying to choke it out or break its neck, Stiles couldn’t tell, but he was firmly attached despite the repeated bites from the snake tail.

It was obvious that this was not going well.

Stiles tried to find something he could do to help. The chimera wouldn’t be affected by any spell he tried on it, no matter the type, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t affect other things. He groped along the floor near his feet for a large branch like the one Jackson had found. When he found one he swept it up to bear in front of him.

Ignis.” With a word and a touch of will, the tip of the branch lit up like a torch, and Stiles used it to keep the lion’s jaws from getting too close.

It wouldn’t work forever though.

Scott lost his footing briefly, but it was long enough for the chimera to send him sailing back with a screeching holler. The chimera moved forward, no longer held back, and landed a swipe across Stiles’ shins. He dropped to one knee from the force and pain, but he managed to keep the fire between the chimera’s jaws and himself.

Jackson snarled in defiance and sank one set of claws into one of the goat head’s eyes, blinding it, while one hand freed itself long enough to tear the snake off his shoulder. He bit clean through the snake’s neck before tossing the head aside. The chimera’s scream was matched by his own roar as he forced the goat head up and back, exposing its throat. He plunged his other clawed hand in and ripped its throat out. The chimera’s full attention was on Jackson now, and he had to dodge snapping jaws and angry claws as he righted himself from the drooping head. A solid swipe across his hip made him howl, but he caught the lions jaws before they could close around his neck.

While Jackson fought to keep the lion’s mouth open, Scott reasserted himself in the fight.

“Go for the legs!” Stiles shouted. He dug around in his kit until he found the dagger that Deaton had given him. It wasn’t much against a chimera, especially one of this caliber, but it was better than nothing.

Scott followed orders and dug his claws into the shoulders of the beast, riding it like a bucking bull while it tried to dislodge him. One head down, the tail incapacitated as well, the chimera was hurting, but it definitely wasn’t out of the fight yet. The two remaining heads were strong and Stiles was fairly positive that the dragon head would start breathing fire again soon.

Jackson’s hands were bleeding, Stiles could smell it and see the drops falling onto the forest floor. Sooner or later--probably sooner--his grip would give and the lion would bite his face off. Stiles wanted to go over and assist, but he had a dragon head staring him down.

Flaming branch in his right hand, dagger in his left, Stiles advanced on the dragon head. It snapped at him experimentally as he got closer, and Stiles struck it on the snout with the torch. The dragon snorted, unimpressed. As it snarled and snapped at him again, Stiles got a really stupid idea.

“Any time, Stilinski!” Jackson griped.

“I’m working on it!” He shouted back. Keeping his eyes trained on the dragon head, Stiles started issuing orders. “Scotty, you got to do something about the lion head.”

“I’m a little busy Stiles!”

“Lame a limb and reposition. Go for under the leg instead of the shoulder.” Another strong swing at the dragon’s eyes kept it from eating the nose off his face.

Scott managed to do as requested, digging into the armpit of the right leg, he tore out a chunk of flesh and blood. The chimera staggered, but remained upright. Scott then used his free hand to start tearing into the lion’s neck. It was stronger than a normal lion, but it was doing damage and distracting the lion head enough for the two of them to start gaining the upper hand.

Meanwhile, Stiles played snake charmer with the dragon head. He bobbed and weaved slowly, keeping eye contact with it. He was able to see when and where it would strike next and block appropriately, but he wasn’t doing any damage to it. Whether because its hide was too thick, or because it was part dragon, Stiles wasn’t sure, but fire was doing nothing to it. He’d have to implement his really stupid idea if he wanted to finish it.

Stiles waited for the perfect moment and shouted a war cry as he went for it. As the dragon head went in for another attack, Stiles swung with his left instead of his right, essentially feeding the head his left arm in order to get to the soft palate that was all that separated the mouth from the brain. In his periphery, he noticed as Jackson tore the bottom jaw off the lion with a warrior’s shout of his own. Stiles rammed the blade up and in, and the last thing he saw before the dragon’s fire engulfed him, was Derek running full tilt in his hybrid form, howling his rage.

The fire was hot. Very hot, in fact. It burned his shirts to ash, the hair on his arm vaporized, and Stiles’ skin--protected though it was--began to cook.

It was over in a moment. The fire lasted no more than a few breaths. When it was over, Stiles dropped to his right hand and knees, cradling the left to his chest. The others were next to him in less than a second.

“Shit, Dude, your arm!”

“Shut it McCall!”

“Stiles, can you hear me?”

Stiles nodded, hacking up a lung. He must have inhaled some smoke. Or fire.

“Is it--” more coughing, “is...?”

“Dead.” Jackson confirmed, kicking the carcass.

“Idiot! What the hell were you thinking?” Derek yelled.

Stiles shot him a half-hearted glare that was interrupted by more coughing. “Worked…”

“We need to get him to Deaton.” Scott spoke up before Derek could say whatever was on the tip of his tongue.

Derek started to lift him, but Stiles shrugged him off, angry at the Alpha for his outburst. He forced himself to his feet, gritting his teeth against the pain. When he staggered a little on his first step, Scott caught him under his right shoulder and let him lean a little. Stiles limped along until they hit the road. The Camaro was parked haphazardly, skid marks evidence of rapid deceleration on the asphalt.

Jackson got Stiles’ door for him since he had to climb into the back anyway, while Derek stalked over to the drivers side after getting a pair of basketball shorts out of his trunk. It was clear from his stiff posture and full scowl, that Derek was ragingly upset. That was fine. If he was going to be in a mood, Stiles was fully OK with getting just as pissed. He’d helped kill the chimera, kept the territory and Pack safe, and Derek had called him an idiot for his efforts.

Yeah. Stiles was pissed.

On the ride over, Stiles inspected the damage. The entirety of his left arm was screaming red, stiff and tight, and he had a stretch of blisters from the top of his hand to his elbow. It still felt like it was burning, too, but that was typical of any burn. Until he got it rinsed and cooled it would feel like it was still burning. His shin wounds were already starting to clot, so no issue there.

“This isn’t that bad, you know.” Stiles tossed over his shoulder to Scott.

“You got cooked, Dude. I can smell it.” Scott winced.

“I lost my dagger, though.” Stiles frowned.

Derek snarled. “Your dagger? Is that all you care about right now?”

“I don’t know what crawled up your ass and died, but there is no reason for you to be yelling at me right now.” Stiles snapped.

“Can you two not?” Jackson rolled his eyes. “Wait to have your domestic when we don’t have to be subjected to it.”

“You want to get out and walk?” Derek shot back.

“What the hell is wrong with you? He didn’t do anything either!” Stiles glared. “In fact, Jackson kicked chimera ass!”

Jackson groaned. “Don’t bring me into this.”

“If he was doing so well, you should have let him handle it.” Derek grumbled.

“Oh my god, really?” Stiles rolled his eyes with his whole head. “You seriously wanted me to just sit there and watch as Jackson and Scott got chewed up by the chimera?”

“I was on my way, you didn’t need to put yourself in danger--”

“I didn’t! The chimera landed on our laps, what were we supposed--”

“Call for help--”

“I called you!”

“--and then wait for backup!”

“Sure. I’ll just sit on the bench, like always, and watch as my friends do all the work. So not happening.”

“Will you both knock it off?” Scott pushed forward so that his head was between Derek and Stiles. “Focus on the task at hand; argue later.”

“What task?” Stiles demanded. “The chimera is dead; other than going home--”

“You’re going to Deaton’s.” Derek insisted.

“What? No. No! It’s three o’clock in the morning! Let the man sleep; I’ll be fine.” Stiles countered.

“Fine? You got burned!” Derek shouted.

“Seriously, Stiles. The smell alone is making me a little nauseous.” Scott whined.

Stiles rolled his eyes again. “Take me home.”

He closed his eyes and channeled his magic. Shaping the magic in his wards was a good quick fix for his arm. He healed it to the point that he’d be fully healed by school. There was no point in going all the way when the healing glyphs running down his spine would take care of the rest. Stiles may have tried to be smug in Derek’s general direction, but he fell asleep too quickly to put too much effort behind it.

He was in the loft when he woke up. Someone, probably, Derek had carried him up to the bed and removed his shoes for him. He sat up and groped around for his phone to check the time. Only a couple hours since the chimera attack. He inspected his arm and found it to be just about done healing.

“You should go back to sleep.”

Derek was lurking somewhere in the darkness of the room.

“Probably.” Stiles acknowledged as he flung the covers off.

The growl was enough to make Stiles pause, but not for long. He glared into the darkness and pointedly finished getting out of the bed. He fumbled around until he found his shoes, put them on, and then made for the door.

“Where are you going?”

“Home.” Stiles snapped.

“You’re still hurt, and it’s late. You have school in a few hours.”

“I’ve functioned on less.” Stiles went slowly down the staircase, iron grip on the banister to keep from tripping. The sound of Derek beating him to the lower level made Stiles groan a little.

“Stop.”

“No. Why would I want to stay here when you’re being a raging dick?”

Derek growled a little. “Me wanting you to sleep is--”

“No! You calling me an idiot for doing my job is you being a raging dick!” Stiles yelled.

Suddenly Derek was in front of him. “It’s not your job to get killed!”

“I was protecting my Pack!”

“You were on fire!

Stiles felt the anger leave him all at once. To Derek, seeing him suddenly engulfed in flame, must have been… Stiles should have thought about it sooner. He was still annoyed at Derek’s reaction though, and this, treating him like he was fragile, would have to stop.

He calmed his temper, and sighed. “I’m not made of glass Derek.”

“We’ve had this discussion.” Derek reminded him.

“I know.” Stiles said. “But I’m not going stand on the sidelines and watch the others do all the work and get hurt. I know you all heal, but it still hurts, so, no, I’m not just going to watch. If I can help, I’m damned well going to do it!”

“You said as much last time.” Derek smirked. “Do you remember what I said?”

Stiles thought for a moment. It was a conversation they’d had near the beginning of summer--only a few short months ago, though it seemed much longer--when Derek had helped Stiles get his father back from a homicidal faerie.

“That I was human and didn’t heal like the wolves.”

“And?”

“And… that I should let one of you help.” Stiles recalled.

Derek nodded. “I overreacted. I saw the fire, could smell your skin burning, and it reminded me of… I handled it badly.”

“Raging dick.”

“But you’re right." Derek ignored his little correction. "You’re not glass, but you are Pack. So, let me help.”

Stiles sighed, but nodded. “Not much to do though. Not burning anymore; I just need to rest.”

“So let’s go to sleep.” Derek suggested.

He nudged a little until Stiles turned around and headed back up the stairs. Derek followed, warm hand settled gently at the base of Stiles’ neck, thumb rubbing small circles in the skin it found there. When they made it back to the bed, Stiles kicked off his shoes and slipped out of his pants as well before climbing in. Derek did the same, tucked him in close--mindful of his arm--and took a little of Stiles’ pain before they both slipped off to sleep.

It took a full week before the students at Memorial retaliated.

“That had to have cost a lot.” Stiles commented upon seeing the entirety of the BHHS windows covered in sticky notes.

“Not exactly original.” Lydia frowned.

Stiles shrugged. “At least they got creative in their designs.”

“The cafeteria’s windows say ‘Go MHS Mountain Lions!’” Danny countered.

“Yea, but the front doors are playing Tetris! That’s pretty cool.” Stiles defended.

“I think I know what we should do for retaliation.” Isaac offered.

“What?” Scott asked.

Isaac shook his head. “It’s a surprise.”

By lunch there was an update to the site calling dibs on the retaliation, but no details. Stiles wanted to ask, but he liked that Isaac was taking charge of this one. It meant that he’d have to wait for photos, but also that the ball was moving on its own and that he wouldn’t be forced to come up with all of the pranks. All he had to do now was wait.

He got a text Thursday night from Derek.

FROM: sourwolf
10:54pm

Do you know why Isaac left the loft looking like a cat burglar?

TO: sourwolf
10:54pm

No. What?

FROM: sourwolf
10:55pm

Wearing all black, large pack over his shoulder.

TO: sourwolf
10:55pm

Must be for his prank. What was in the pack?

FROM: sourwolf
10:55pm

Chalk.

The pictures were up by that afternoon. Every sidewalk, curb, and parking lot were absolutely covered in chalk art. Really, truly epic and occasionally beautiful works of art that must have taken hours and a lot of help. The main walkway was a very well done rendering of a cyclone demolishing a bunch of mountain lions. Isaac apparently took it a step further, however, and included the windows in his redecoration using car chalk as a medium.

“Dude.” Stiles gestured wildly at the screen. “How did you do that?”

Isaac glanced up from his spot on Derek’s couch and shrugged. “Had help.”

“Yeah but… this is still impressive.

“Do you draw or something?” Scott asked, curious.

Again Isaac shrugged. “A little. I mostly paint.”

Stiles bought--with Derek’s money--canvases, paint, paintbrushes, a sketchbook, and a set of good drawing pencils the next day. He supported the hell out of his Pack, and any talent was to be supported. Sports were obvious, but art fell into that category too. Stiles wanted his friends to be happy. Isaac accepted the supplies with a big grin and that was all the thanks Stiles needed.

The next full moon was upon them soon after. Derek hosted at the loft again, and Stiles made sure Danny had a large area in his mountain ash circle. Leeloo came over a little after sundown and spent most of the night bent over a couple of sketchbooks with Isaac. Stiles and Scott hooked up a game system to Derek’s TV and started a Halo tournament, which Boyd won. Derek cooked dinner, Stiles made dessert, and nothing disastrous happened.

Disaster waited until Monday, because disaster is a bitch.

Chapter Text

The MHS prank was, while admittedly creative, annoying as hell after a while. Bubble wrap is loads of fun. Everyone delighted in popping bubbles as a child--sometimes older--and it’s amusing for a bit. However. When the floors are literally covered in bubble wrap, the wonder disappears by lunch. The popping of bubbles, the squeaking of popped plastic, and the ridiculously loud ripping up of bubble wrap that had been extra-strength, double-sided taped to the floor got to be very annoying and disruptive, especially when trying to take a test. Or four.

Stiles would be glad to never see bubble wrap again in his life by time practice came around. The locker room walls made the sound so much worse because of the echoing. Stiles saw Isaac and Danny twitch randomly while changing, apparently hearing the damned popping far more keenly and from much further away than Stiles. Scott frowned, but he managed not to twitch like the others.

“Alright, bring it in.” Coach waved them over as he exited his office. “You all get to be park rangers today! Our trail is taking us from the woods around the school all the way to the Preserve, at which point we will stop to observe the wonders of nature before turning around and hauling ass back here. Got it?”

“Fantastic.” Stiles grumbled amidst the acknowledgements. He didn’t mind the distance. No, Stiles just didn’t like the idea of the class being so far into the forest.

“So long as it gets us away from the damn bubble wrap, I don’t care.” Isaac muttered. “I have a new appreciation for why dogs chase UPS guys.”

“Retribution will be swift and just.” Stiles vowed solemnly.

“Stilinski!” Finstock barked, apparently catching Stiles’ promise.

Stiles grimaced a little. “Yeah Coach?”

“Bring anything less than your A-Game, and I’ll give you detention on principle. I’m talking escalation; give them something that’ll have this town talking for years.” Coach had the crazy eyes going. “I’m talking a prank so epic, it’ll have your children’s children’s children talking about it! Except yours Greenburg. Please, don’t ever reproduce.”

“No mercy.” Stiles agreed.

“Good. Greenburg, I swear to God, you so much as take another step…”

Finstock led the team out of the locker room and into the trees. Stiles cast out his Pack senses to see how far out the others were. Derek, Peter, and Jackson were in the trees, lurking. Stiles felt a little better knowing they were there. Erica and Boyd would probably join them when they could.

Stiles was grateful. It had been a little while since the last ley line upheaval, and Stiles was a little on edge. They were supposed to get more frequent, not less, and Stiles didn’t know what to make of the reprieve.

“I can feel your anxiety, Dude. What’s got you so wound up?” Scott asked.

“Maybe we should convince Coach to keep the team out of the woods.” Stiles murmured. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

“You vetoed telling him the truth. Any other suggestions?” Isaac challenged.

Stiles frowned. “Stay sharp.”

He couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched as he ran. Stiles kept throwing glances over his shoulder, convinced he’d just seen something move out of the corner of his eye. One time, he thought he caught sight of Derek in wolf form, but shook his head. Derek was in the opposite direction.

“You’re very fidgety today.” Danny commented.

“I swear I think we’re being followed.”

“We are being followed.” Isaac stated. “The rest of the Pack is tailing us per usual.”

Stiles glared at him. “By something else.”

“Such as?”

“I don’t know. I thought…” Stiles frowned and shook his head; the vision of a tan, bushy tail leaving his mind completely. “Nevermind.”

“You alright?” Scott sounded genuinely concerned for Stiles’ sanity.

“Let me get back to you.” Stiles sighed.

They were well and truly into the forest when the inevitable occurred. Stiles grabbed tightly onto Isaac and Danny to keep from falling on his ass and bit the inside of his cheek to keep from vomiting.

“They’re spreading out.” Scott relayed, glancing furtively to the trees.

“Son of a motherless goat; oh my God!” Stiles whined. “Those are not pleasant.”

Danny, Scott, and Isaac all made identical disgusted faces in the next moment.

“What the hell is that?” Danny looked about ready to hurl.

“What?” Stiles demanded.

“God, it’s putrid.” Scott grimaced.

“Smells… what is that? Like sick and death and decomposition?” Isaac tried to clarify.

Stiles wracked his brain trying to come up with something. “How far?”

“Close.” Scott answered. “Maybe a few yards that way.” He pointed in the general direction that Finstock was leading them.

“Super.” Stiles ran a bit faster to catch up with Finstock. Danny followed while Scott and Isaac fell a little behind and to either side.

Stiles wanted to move the group away from whatever was ahead, but there would be no convincing Finstock to deviate from the path. Instead, he kept on high alert and waited. Before too long, he could smell it too. The coiling reak of decomp and illness found its way into his nose and Stiles tried to sneeze it out.

“Holy God, what died?” Finstock snapped.

“Maybe we should avoid it? Turn around?” Stiles suggested hopefully.

Before Finstock could agree or disagree, however, a stumbling figure made its way toward them from behind a nearby tree. It was a woman, probably, but clearly sick. She was disturbingly thin, with greasy, stringy hair, sallow skin, and what Stiles thought might be boils or some kind of oozing sore.

“Jesus Christ.” Finstock staggered back.

The rest of the team stopped, some with barely concealed disgust, and waited for their coach to do something.

“Lady,” Finstock began, taking a very hesitant step forward, “you… need some help? A hospital--or morgue--maybe?”

“Hold up Coach.” Stiles stopped him from getting closer with a hand to his chest. “She’s probably contagious.” He whispered.

She was, in truth, highly and magically contagious. She wasn’t human, not really. Stiles could sense the magic of her. One of the more disgusting myths he’d read about, the Likhoradka, was essentially a Slavic walking, talking, and--shudder--kissing petri dish of viral death. She was also moving closer, so Stiles less than gently pushed Finstock back.

“Your concern for my well being is touching Stilinski, really, but she needs help.” Finstock objected.

“No arguments there,” Stiles chuckled without humor, “however comma, I think touching is a Bad Idea. Hear my capital letters? Bad Idea.”

“Are you speaking in punctuation?”

“To emphasize my point, yes.”

She was still edging closer to the group, sunken eyes intently focused if fever-bright. She still hadn’t uttered a sound either.

“Maybe someone should call it in?” Someone suggested. “Like get the CDC down here or some shit?”

“Me?” Stiles perked up. “Pick me. Direct link to the authorities, right here.”

Finstock eyed him with extreme suspicion. While he dithered, the Likhoradka kept inching closer.

Stiles eventually got fed up with waiting. He motioned subtly for Scott to distract FInstock before bending down under the guise of tying his shoe. While there, he nicked a small cut into his palm with a small needle he kept in the rubber of his shoe. He had little tricks like this for when it was too conspicuous for him to carry his full kit. When a sufficient drop welled up, Stiles channeled his magic and pressed his palm to the ground. With the direct blood connection to the earth and a whispered command, he willed the dirt and vegetation to slow the pestilent spirit’s progress.

“Fine, fine!” Finstock shouted. “McCall stop with the puppy eyes, Jesus. Danny! Take the team back to the school. McCall and Stilinski want to be good Samaritans and help me take this… poor woman… to the hospital. Go on, move it!”

Danny nodded, more to Stiles, who gave him the go ahead, than to Coach, before rounding up the herd and urging them back the way they came.

Finstock waited long enough for the last member to disappear before rounding on Stiles and Scott. “Alright. I’m not as dull as you lot seem to think I am. What is that, and why is it here?”

Stiles blinked. Scott looked just as surprised and gave Stiles a little shrug, clearly leaving the decision up to him.

“I can see you two thinking at each other; knock it off. Speak up, or so help me--”

“It’s a Likhoradka.” Stiles interrupted. “Slavic spirit of malady and disease. She touches you and you get infected and die a horrible, gross death.”

It was Finstock’s turn to blink. “I have several issues with that statement.”

“Go ahead, enumerate them.” Stiles decided since the cat was currently scratching its way out of the bag, he was going to put a little more umph behind his spell. The grass and roots grew up around the spirit’s legs, locking it in place.

“You’re doing something weird, what are you doing?” Finstock looked interestedly at his palm in the dirt.

“I’m keeping it at bay for the moment, but we need to find a way to get rid of it quickly.” Stiles spoke up a little to give the others the message.

“How?”

“Magic.”

“Really?”

“Yep.”

“Shit.”

“Happens.”

Finstock stared a little dumbly at Stiles for a moment before turning to Scott. “He’s not kidding?”

“Afraid not, Coach.”

“It’s a brave new world.” Stiles gritted out. The Likhoradka was killing the plants, so Stiles had to concentrate on keeping them growing.

“You. Explain.” Finstock ordered. “Small words McCall.”

“I’m… probably not the best one for that.” Scott winced.

“Try.”

“Some help would be nice, guys!” Stiles was starting to sweat, and he didn’t think it was from exertion.

“What exactly do you suggest, Stilinski?” Erica growled as she hopped out of a tree to land by Scott.

“McCall!”

“Okay, okay, just… it’s not easy to explain.” Scott stammered.

“Sure it is.” Boyd came up silently from a few feet away. For a big guy, he was stealthy as hell when he wanted to be. “Magic and supernatural shit is real, and Beacon Hills is a Hellmouth.”

“It’s not a literal Hellmouth.” Stiles grunted. “Not sure that even exists, but it is a, well, a beacon for supernatural activity. Those mountain lion attacks last year and this summer? Not a mountain lion.”

“You’re alluding to a point, I can tell. Get to it.”

“Werewolves are real, and you’ve got three of them on your team.” Stiles answered. “Alright. Fuck this.” He gave up on plant matter and moved to something a little less alive. He found a stone, channeled his magic, and chucked it at the spirit, sending it sailing back from the magical force.

“Three?” Finstock looked curious now. “Okay. McCall, that would explain your sudden talent.”

Scott nodded a bit sheepishly.

“Do I have to guess who the others are?” FInstock looked pointedly at Stiles.

He smirked a little. “Not me, promise. I have enough issues without getting furry once a month.” Stiles pulled a few threads from his socks and began binding the Likhoradka so that she wouldn’t be able to get to anyone. “No, Isaac and Danny are your others.”

“Well that’s… fantastic.”

“It gets better.” Erica smiled evilly.

“You scare me.” Finstock pointed an accusing finger at Erica.

“Where are the others?” Scott asked.

“Making sure the team gets back to the school.” Boyd answered. “Derek said to finish up here and give Finstock a full debrief if he wants it.”

“Really?” Stiles quirked an eyebrow. “Full disclosure just like that?”

“He says the more people on our side the better, and if telling Coach means the team stays out of the woods, it’ll free up time since we won’t have to babysit.” Erica explained.

“Do I get a say in this?” Finstock asked.

“Sure do.” Stiles smiled. “Sugar-coated or straight up?”

Finstock sighed. “Aw, crap.”

Finstock eventually decided on the sugar-coated version of events, stating he’d have nightmares as it was. Stiles and Scott took him through it while Stiles took care of the Likhoradka--with fire, best sanitizer in the world--before going back to the school. Finstock took what they said easily enough; he’d seen more than his fair share of weird-ass shit living in this town for a couple decades. When they got to the ley lines, Finstock agreed to keep the team out of the woods, but warned them it would mean compensating terrain for distance. Stiles informed him plainly that none of them would have issues with that. Stiles and Scott left out Jackson still being alive in their explanation, because that would cause far more problems than they wanted to put up with.

When it was done, and they were back at the school, Finstock let them go home, but not before promising--more seriously than Stiles had ever seen him--that he wouldn’t tell anyone their secret. Stiles still had his reservations about that, but there was no going back now.

On the way back to the loft, Erica wouldn’t stop grinning maniacally.

“What?” Stiles asked, suspicious.

“Did you have fun at school today?” She sounded entirely too innocent for Stiles to believe it for a second. Plus, it was Erica.

Stiles glared. “You--”

“I thought it would appeal to your inner child, Stilinski.” She cackled.

Isaac growled. “You’re going down, Reyes.”

“Promises, promises.”

Stiles put a restraining hand on Isaac’s shoulder when he tried to move toward the infuriating blonde. “Retribution is coming.”

The wolves were too busy glaring at each other to notice, but Stiles saw the tanish-red streak of fur that disappeared further into the forest. He opened his mouth to mention it, but as soon as it was out of sight…

What was he saying?

Right. Retribution.

Stiles shook his head to clear it a little, and then immediately grabbed ahold of the closest thing--Isaac--to steady himself as him head went for a ride on the tilt-a-whirl. “Whoa.”

“Another one?”

“So soon?”

“Someone call Der--”

“On it.”

“No.” Stiles protested. “It’s not. Not the ley lines. Just… a bit dizzy.”

Scott got close and gave him a worried look. “Dude. You don’t look too good.” He sniffed. “Or smell so good.”

“Thanks.” Stiles glared.

“No, I mean, you smell…”

“Sick.” Isaac finished.

Stiles felt his stomach drop. “Oh crap.”

“Dude, were you infected?” Scott sounded close to panicked.

“What? No.” Stiles objected weakly. “I’d be dead. Right?”

“You’re the expert.” Boyd pointed out.

“Stiles.” Erica was next to Scott now, looking rather obviously down the fronts of his shirts as he clung to Isaac.

“My eyes,” Stiles panted, “are up here.” When did it get harder to breathe?

She winked at him before her face turned serious again. “You need to stop channeling your magic.”

“I’m not.” Stiles frowned.

“The neon sign on your back says otherwise.” She told him firmly.

“What? You can… see them?”

“Yes.” Isaac confirmed.

“Shit.”

“We need to get him to Deaton’s.”

The Camaro screeched to a halt next to them, and Derek was out in a second. “What’s wrong?”

“Stiles is sick.” Isaac supplied.

“We think it was the thing in the woods.” Scott added.

Stiles shook his head weakly. “I’d be dead.”

“You look sort of like you’re dying.” Erica offered.

“So helpful.” Stiles rolled his eyes.

“Get him in.” Derek ordered. While Scott and Isaac sat him in the seat, Derek continued. “Call Deaton, tell him what happened and that we’re on the way; call the sheriff too.” He climbed in, slammed his door, and peeled out of the lot after that.

“Do I look… that bad?” Stiles wondered.

“Yes.”

They made it to Deaton’s in record time. He was waiting for them when Derek pulled Stiles out of the car. Derek carried him, ignoring Stiles’ feeble objections, and set him down on the exam table. Derek also began removing Stiles’ shirts after checking with Stiles. If there was something going on with his wards, Stiles wanted to see it.

The ones he could see were flickering, which wasn’t something he was familiar with.

“Doc…”

“I don’t know, yet.” Deaton admitted. “Tell me what happened.”

Stiles took him through the ley line shift, finding the Likhoradka, delaying her with the plants, before moving on to less subtle measures once the others were out of sight. He explained they got rid of her with fire, and that he felt mostly fine until they got back to the Jeep.

“How did you control the flora?”

“Blood magic.”

“I see.” Deaton sighed.

“Enlighten the rest of us.” Stiles snapped.

“By using your blood, you opened yourself to infection when your spell came into contact with the Likhoradka.”

“Shouldn’t I be dead then?” Stiles ignored the fear welling up inside him.

“Yes.” Deaton said, and if Stiles didn’t know better, he’d think that was confusion in the vet’s voice. “While I’ll bet that it’s your magic that’s keeping you alive for the moment, you should know that until this is handled, anyone you touch will be infected. The wolves will be fine with their ability to heal, but your father, Mrs. McCall, anyone at school… They will not be so lucky.”

“Stellar. Fix it.”

Deaton was quiet for a few moments. “I can try.”

As Deaton gathered supplies, Stiles asked, “Is that why my wards are… being weird.”

“Yes. The magic in your healing wards is attempting to counter the infection, but as they drain, they’re pulling from your own reserves to resupply. When your supply runs out…”

“Awesome.” Stiles flailed. He’d reached the point where if he didn’t move he was going to go insane. The worry, the fear, the anxiety needed to manifest itself in motion so that Stiles could control it.

He needed… he had to…

Stiles heard the sound of sirens fast approaching.

“Doc…” Stiles whimpered. “You have to fix this. I can’t do that to him again.”

“Stiles.” Derek pulled his face forward to face his. “You’re going to be okay.”

“Look at me, Derek.” Stiles whispered. His arms and torso were sprouting circular rashes and curing some of them as the magic healed them. “This is not…”

“Deaton will fix it.”

“I’m going to try something.” Deaton drew their attention. “Hopefully this will work. It’s a cleanse.”

“Whammy me.”

“Stand back Derek.” Deaton ordered. Derek reluctantly obeyed. The doc then sprinkled a powdered mixture onto Stiles while murmuring a chant. Stiles felt the magic in the room swell with the casting until it reached its peak. There was a spark like getting a static shock, and then nothing.

“Did it work?” Stiles asked.

“No.” Derek growled.

“Derek’s right. The infection persists.”

The door burst open and in ran Stiles’ dad, Mama McCall, and Scott.

“What’s going on?” The sheriff demanded moving forward to get to Stiles. Deaton put a firm hand on his chest to stop him.

“Stiles has been infected with something. His magic is keeping him alive, but he’s very contagious. If you touch him, you will die.”

“Do you know what it is? What he was infected with?” He asked.

“No.”

“Can a spell…?”

“We already tried.” Stiles shook his head.

“Let me look.” Mama McCall offered. “I won’t touch, I promise.”

The men moved out of her way until she could approach. She looked him over quickly and nodded to herself with what she saw. “I know exactly what this is; I’ll be back.”

“But… wha… Share?” Stiles asked her retreating form.

The sheriff left with her to give her a police escort to wherever she was going.

“Scotty, yo, help me out.” Stiles gestured to the door in question.

“Got no clue, Dude.” Scott shrugged. “Should we be worried? I mean…”

“Nah, your wolfiness is keeping you from catching… whatever this is.” Stiles gestured to a bulbous sore that had sprouted from one of the rashes.

“How are you feeling?” Derek asked.

Stiles frowned. “Achy, dizzy,” he started coughing, “hardish to breathe. Dude, if it weren’t for the ugly as fuck rash and boils of death, I’d think I have the flu.”

“Do you think… I mean, will whatever Mom’s getting help?” Scott wondered.

“Maybe.” Deaton answered. “It’s an old spirit; long before modern medicine but from a time with magic. Could be a modern cure would be effective where a magical one isn’t.”

When Mama McCall and the sheriff returned, she shooed the others to the side to give her room to work.

“So what’s the prognosis?” Stiles asked.

“Congratulations Stiles. You have the Black Death.” She told him with a small smile.

“The plague?” Derek raised his eyebrows in surprise.

“As in the thing that killed a third of Europe?” Scott demanded.

“The same.” She nodded as she pulled on a bright purple pair of gloves.

“Only you would get the plague.” The sheriff rolled his eyes.

“You’re both awfully calm.” Scott accused.

“It’s because the plague is actually really curable nowadays.” Stiles sighed, relieved. “What did you bring me?”

She held up a syringe full of medicine. “Streptomycin. Twice a day for three days after the fever is down.”

“You couldn’t have brought me a nice horse pill?” Stiles whined.

“Buck up buttercup.” She smirked before sticking him in the thigh.

Evil.” Stiles seethed.

“He still needs to be quarantined away from anyone susceptible. At least until his meds are done.” She advised.

With the help of the Streptomycin, Stiles was able to fend off the infection in the next two days which he spent at the loft so that someone could take care of him without risking infection. He did his own magical cleanse just to be sure that everything was good before going back to this dad’s. When it was done, Stiles gave his dad a fierce hug in greeting, and his dad gave Derek an equally fierce hug in gratitude for helping when he couldn’t.

After that, Stiles continued his plot for retribution. Not even the Black Death could sway him from his purpose. Which maybe said something about his priorities, but probably spoke more to the ever changing level of what was considered abnormal in his life.

Meh. Potato, po-tah-to.

Chapter Text

The acquisition process for his plan this time around was a little more complicated than the rubber ducks. It took two days of calling ahead to stores, checking inventory, and requesting holds for Stiles to find exactly what he was looking for. He picked them up, getting more than a few odd looks from clerks, and then took them home to implement the part of his plan that made this prank especially clever.

That’s how Derek found him: hunched over his desk, tinkering away, with several stacks of boxes on the floor waiting their turn.

“What are you plotting?”

Stiles threw a grin over his shoulder. “The most glorious prank Beacon HIlls has ever witnessed.”

“Dare I ask?” Derek glanced dubiously at the small appliance tower next to the desk.

“Scale of one to ten, how annoying is this?” Stiles hit a button and gave a little wince of his own in response.

Derek cursed and put his hands over his ears. “I’m going to tear it to shreds if you don’t turn it off!”

Stiles flicked it off. “Perfect.”

“She’s going to kill you.”

“You’ll stop her.”

“...”

“You’ll stop her, right?”

Derek glared. “...Probably.”

“No worries then.”

“I only said probably.” Derek reminded him.

It had been a while since the two of them had had much in the way of alone time. Between school, cross country, Pack study sessions, the sheriff at Stiles’ place, and Isaac and/or Jackson bunking at the loft, there weren’t a lot of opportunities for Derek and Stiles to be alone.

They were alone now, though.

“In that case,” Stiles smirked, “I guess I don’t have long left in this world.”

“You shouldn’t joke about that.” Derek’s mood shifted a little toward the serious.

“Who’s joking? Erica’s going to kill me after this prank.” Stiles tried to bring back the lighter tone.

Derek sighed. “Don’t. Please?”

It was Stiles’ turn to frown, though his was one borne of concern. He invaded Derek’s personal space a little to get him to look him in the eye. “What’s up big guy?”

“Just…” Derek shook his head. “It’s nothing. I’m fine.”

“You’re not. I can tell you’re not because I can sense it,” he tapped the triskele inked partially in Derek’s own blood, “so you can’t lie to me. Tell me what’s bothering you.”

Derek shook his head again. “I can handle it.”

“No. No.” Stiles objected. “Come on, Derek. Communication is a thing! No one in this stupid forest talks to each other about anything, which leaves all of us scrambling when something happens, and I can’t fix that. I tried, I got shot down, and I’m doing what I can to make everyone safe until we stumble upon the solution ourselves, but… Just. I need this to work. Us; something good, something stable. And I need you to talk to me because I don’t want to scramble and stumble and fail. Not with this.”

“Stiles.” Derek made him look at him. “We’re not going to fail. We will find out what’s wrong with the ley lines and we’ll fix it.”

“You’ve got a lot more faith in the Elders than I do--”

“I have faith in you.” Derek corrected.

“Thanks.” Stiles smiled a little. It was always reassuring to hear Derek’s trust in him. However, he was not to be sidetracked so easily. “I appreciate that, I do, but you’re avoiding the point.”

“They’re just nightmares, Stiles. Nothing I can’t handle.” Derek promised.

Stiles sighed, “So you won’t talk about it?”

“What’s to talk about? They’re bad dreams; a conversation isn’t going to fix them.” Derek protested calmly. “And before you offer, I don’t want a dreamcatcher.”

“Nightmares bad enough that you’re touchy about light hearted jokes involving me being maimed by Erica?”

Derek gave him a mild glare. “I’m supposed to find threats to your life amusing?”

“Pretend, totally improbable threats to my well-being that I tried to use as a lead into sex? Yes, those are supposed to be amusing.”

“Foreplay? That’s what you were going for?”

“Yes, obviously.”

The bitch-face said Derek believed otherwise.

“Rude.” Stiles gave him a bitch-face of his own. “What’s your idea of foreplay then, big guy?”

“It’s foreplay, Stiles. Death… not usually a turn on for most people.”

“Eh… I… yeah, okay. Fair point.” Stiles muttered. “But! But, foreplay… all about raising the heart rate, yeah? Threat of death? Believe you me, nothing gets the heart beating faster… faster.” He frowned. “That was a lot… smoother in my head.”

Derek smirked. “Relax. You don’t have to try so hard.”

“Easy for you to say; freaking greek god...”

“Stiles.” Derek moved closer and placed his hands on Stiles’ arms. “Try something. Close your eyes.”

Stiles obeyed, still feeling on the edge of insecure, but willing to trust Derek. Almost absently he tried the little trick Deaton taught him to block the Pack bonds--except for Derek of course--hoping that he knew where this was going. It seemed to be working.

“Don’t talk; just listen.”

Derek started with his face. Fingertips and lips ghosting over Stiles’ cheekbones, his nose, his lips, before slipping down and doing doing the same to his jawline, his pulse point, the nape of his neck. Derek slipped his hands under Stiles’ shirt, skimming up his skin lightly as he removed the cloth.

The only sound he could hear was that of his own rising heartbeat, though. “You’re not saying anything…”

“Listen harder.” Derek murmured, breath warming along Stiles’ collarbone.

Fingertips at first, then hands, then lips; Derek traveled from shoulders to arms, chest to back, giving special attention to certain areas that Stiles couldn’t find a pattern to. And Derek still wasn’t speaking. It wasn’t until Derek dropped to his knees, planting a kiss on the triskele tattoo that he found so appealing that Stiles started to get it. Derek was… worshipping him. He was paying Stiles’ body the attention that only Derek ever had, and telling him that he found Stiles attractive, desirable.

“Oh.”

“Knew you’d figure it out.”

Derek wrapped his arms around Stiles’ legs, then, and stood up, hoisting Stiles over his shoulder before dropping him on the bed. His hands cupped around the heel of each shoe, pulling them off swiftly, before moving to the fly of Stiles’ jeans. He helpfully lifted his hips when Derek began to remove the denim; Stiles heard them drop somewhere off to the left before Derek’s hands distracted him again. In a smooth motion, they ran all the way up Stiles’ legs from ankle to thigh until his fingertips teased lightly at the nerve cluster just under the curve of Stiles’ ass. As Stiles squirmed, Derek removed Stiles’ last remaining item of clothing.

“I’m hate watching you get hurt.” Derek whispered as he leaned down to run kisses along Stiles’ jaw and up to his ear. “Vampires.” His lips ghosted over the scar on Stiles’ collarbone. “Faeries. Witches. Freaking Medusa. Trolls. A chimera. And now the plague. The plague Stiles.” Derek’s hand ran all over Stiles even as his face settled in the crook between his neck and shoulder, breathing deep.

Stiles gripped the hair at the back of Derek’s head, holding him close. “I’m sorry. But I promise, I’ll always try to come back to you. You know that right? You and me. It’s together or not at all.”

He could feel Derek smile into his skin. “I like that. Together or not at all. I’ll hold you to that.”

“You better.” And Stiles decided that was enough conversation. He let his hands run down Derek’s back until he found the hem of his shirt and pulled it over his head. The clothing disparity needed to be rectified immediately. Derek caught on quickly, shimmying out of his pants and shoes in a move that had Stiles clutching at the bedsheets from the friction. “Oh my god.”

Derek chuckled and lost his boxers as well. “So responsive.” He ran a finger down Stiles’ chest, purposefully barely brushing a nipple.

“And you’re a goddamn tease.” In a move that left Stiles feeling vaguely impressed with himself, he wrapped his legs around Derek’s hips and levered himself up, causing Derek to sit back, his ass resting on his heels. Now Stiles was naked in his equally naked lap.

Derek gasped a little at the way the move made their bodies move together and gripped Stiles around the waist. Stiles grinned and leaned in to kiss his ridiculously hot, naked boyfriend--seriously that was never going to get old--threading his fingers through Derek’s hair again. He took a moment to savor the kissing. Derek was good at the kissing, and he was discovering that he wasn’t so bad himself if the little noises Derek was making were any indication. Of course, that could be from the gentle rocking of Stiles’ hips, rubbing them together in the best kind of tender resistance.

And tender was right. Derek’s hands slowly made their way up and down his back, one hand eventually cradling Stiles’ head and the other his ass for better leverage. Every touch was reverent and the bond--actually seeming to gain strength now that it was just the two of them in each others heads and not the whole Pack--thrummed with emotion. Affection, focus, caring--oh hell, love, he could admit it in his own head--and desperation of the best kind. With what little brain power he had left he made sure to send his own feelings back, open and trusting, as Derek was being. It was incredible to be able to feel everything reverberating back between the two of them, making words unnecessary. Still, words too, soon. Not now though. Now was for the feeling growing everywhere his skin and Derek’s skin touched, for the way Derek’s hand still cradled his head gently even as his grip tightened on Stiles’ ass in growing ardor, for the increasingly desperate sounds Derek made even as his mouth sought every inch of skin within reach. He wasn’t any quieter. It was probably a good thing his dad wasn’t home actually. So Stiles was loud in bed, who was surprised? “You’re amazing. We are amazing.” Derek gave a brilliant twist of his hips. “Oh, god.” Stiles’ grip on Derek’s hair was probably too tight but neither made any move to slacken their grips. In fact, Stiles wouldn’t mind a little bruising from Derek. A conversation for later perhaps.

Their movements were getting a little frantic now, precome making the grind of their hips slick and perfect. But though Stiles’ could feel the swell of orgasm trying to crest, they hovered on the edge. “Derek--”

Derek surged up and tilted Stiles back to the bed again, pressing down on him, one arm holding himself up and another clutching at Stiles’ hip--there was that bruising, oh yes--and Stiles released his grip on Derek’s hair to clutch at his back. His fingers might have left some marks of their own.

The new angle was exquisite and just the right amount of extra pressure and Stiles came with a gasp. With the extra thrust of Stiles’ hips and the tightening of his legs around Derek, Derek wasn’t far behind.

Derek collapsed to the bed, making sure to land mostly not on Stiles.

“We should be doing that all the time. Seriously.”

Derek chuckled. “You won’t hear me objecting. Although, you should probably make time for things like school and friends and family.”

“Pft.”

“What a stunningly intellectual argument.”

“Seriously, nap for an hour, and then again.”

Derek brought an arm across Stiles’ chest and his hand up to run through his hair. “Agreed.”

An hour turned into three. Apparently both of them could use more sleep than they were currently getting. Stiles wanted to push the issue, but Derek had said he could handle it. So Stiles trusted him to handle it and to come to Stiles when or if he couldn’t.

Three hours also meant that there would be no round two. His dad was supposed to be home…

He wasn’t though.

Stiles concentrated for a bit. It was harder to sense the non-wolf members of his Pack, but his dad had the advantage of being one third of the binding triskele. He was… fine. Not in danger, not hurt, just… working still probably.

As Derek stirred and joined Stiles in the land of the conscious, Stiles realized that they were disgusting. Dried come and sweat covered their chests and stomachs, and they were both still naked. Probably for the best that his dad was running late, after all.

“Time ‘sit?” Derek mumbled. His not-fully-awake voice was low and rumbly and made Stiles really wanna try for round two before his dad came home.

“Uh… nearly ten.” Stiles informed him after finding his phone.

Derek groaned again, but started making more effort to wake up. He took a few deep breaths and paused, slight frown threatening to form on his otherwise relaxed features. “Where’s your dad?”

“Working I guess. He doesn’t feel like he’s in trouble or anything, so I wouldn’t get too worried.” Stiles debated sending him a text anyway, but if he was really busy--too busy to send a text of his own saying he was running behind--then he wasn’t likely to answer anyway.

Derek nodded with his assessment, and pulled himself out of the bed. He grinned when he noticed the mess they’d made.

“Proud of yourself?”

“Yes.” Derek challenged lightly.

Stiles grinned back. “Should probably shower though.”

Derek leaned over and nuzzled into the crook of Stiles’ neck, inhaled deeply, and hummed appreciatively. “If you insist.”

Since they weren’t sure when the sheriff would return, it was decided--albeit reluctantly--that separate showers were best. Stiles went first so that he could start dinner after. Derek joined him downstairs once he was clean and dressed. They cooked, ate, and settled in with some mindless TV while they waited for the sheriff.

Around midnight, nearly three hours after he was supposed to get home, the sheriff finally walked through the door. Stiles had been almost to the point of serious concern, the link being the only thing that kept him calm. Weary, drained, the sheriff shrugged off his coat and practically collapsed into his chair in the living room.

“Dad?” Stiles glanced cautiously from the loveseat he was sharing with Derek. When his dad came home in a state like this, it usually meant bad things.

“Hey Kiddo." He sighed. “Sorry. Long day.”

“What happened?” Stiles elbowed Derek gently to fetch the food they’d saved from dinner.

“Unusually high levels of traffic accidents. Been dealing with angry drivers all day long.”

That seemed a little… mundane. “How many are we talking?”

His dad accepted the plate that Derek handed him. “Seventeen major accidents; nearly thirty fender benders. Twenty-five people in the hospital, one fatality.”

“It hasn’t rained recently,” Derek frowned. “Why would traffic be that bad?”

“Tired. All of them either fell asleep at the wheel or were too tired to drive.”

Stiles frowned. “That’s… not normal.”

“Spell?” The sheriff asked.

“Maybe… but why?”

“Destruction. Chaos.” Derek offered. “Witches like that sort of thing. Other spell casters too.”

“Too right. I’ll look into it.”

“Let me know what you find.” The sheriff requested.

“We will.” Derek promised. “But, you’re looking tired yourself, Sir. Maybe you should turn in.”

“Sir?” Stiles’ dad snorted. “Aren’t I a member of your Pack?”

“Our Pack.” Stiles and Derek corrected. Stiles smirked before Derek continued. “Yes, but you’re the sheriff, and I’m dating your son. I want to show respect where it’s due.”

Another small laugh. “Eryk is fine. I feel the respect. Promise.”

“...I’ll try.”

“Good enough.” He sighed and levered himself out of the chair. “And I think I will head up. Thanks for dinner.”

“Night Dad.”

“Goodnight.”

They waited until they heard the door to his room close before Stiles launched himself into a mad pace across the living room. “What the hell? Seventeen major accidents in a day? All with the same reason?”

“You think it’s a spell.”

“Eh…” Stiles waivered. “Maybe but I don’t think so. Traffic accidents… it’s too random. If these people were targeted, the spell caster would have had to know when they were driving. Causing sleep isn’t exactly easy, either.”

“What if they weren’t targeted? Could it be a side effect of another spell? Or an area of effect?”

Stiles sighed. “I need more data. Who, where, when… I need the police reports.”

“Can your dad get them?”

“For himself, no problem, but he can’t technically let me look at them.”

“What if he just got the information you needed and gave that to you?”

“Skirting the line, but… maybe that’s best.” Stiles paused in his pacing briefly, thinking. It didn’t add up. Even an area of effect like Derek suggested didn’t make sense. Causing sleep wasn’t simple; if someone had the ability and the desire to use it, killing their victims outright wouldn’t have been just too much harder, especially with the ley lines acting like they were. And why drivers? Why cause mostly non-fatal car accidents? It seemed so arbitrary and haphazard. Just chaos for chaos’ sake wasn’t enough. There were other, easier, ways to cause chaos.

“Talk to me Stiles. What are you thinking?”

“It doesn’t make sense.” Stiles sighed and resumed pacing. “A necromancer might be able to induce sleep as a side effect of sapping life energy, or a witch might be able to cast a sleep spell, but why? Either of those could just as easily kill their victims, which would have caused a lot more chaos if that was their intent, but that’s not what happened.”

“Maybe they’re trying to make it look less suspicious.” Derek offered. “We’ve had a lot of strange deaths lately. This might attract less attention.”

“It got our attention.”

“If your father weren’t the sheriff, you wouldn’t have known.”

Stiles conceded the point. “Okay, so why… a build-up? A necromancer could sap life-energy from several sources, take less from more… to fuel what? Something like that… could be any number of things.”

“Necromancers leave signs, right?"

Stiles shook his head. “Only the higher power spells. This is more of a lead up to the main event. If it even is a necromancer. It could very easily be something else.”

“We need more information.” Derek repeated Stiles’ earlier assessment.

“Yeah.”

“So wait. Don’t work yourself up over it when you can’t do anything yet.”

Stiles sighed. “I suppose.”

“You have class tomorrow.”

“English test.” Stiles frowned. “Perfect.”

“You’ve never had problems in English.” Derek raised an eyebrow at Stiles’ sarcasm.

“Lately, I keep getting headaches in that class. I think someone’s using a perfume or something that I’m allergic to.” Stiles shrugged, dismissing the subject as unimportant. “You staying tonight?”

Derek shook his head. “I’m going to run a sweep of the town with Peter, see if we can find anything.”

“What about sleep?”

“I’ll sleep when you’re in school.” Derek promised.

“Lucky.”

Derek smiled cheekily, so Stiles kissed him. He bit gently at Stiles’ lip when he pulled away. “I do wish I could stay.”

“I know.” Stiles smiled. “I have an early start tomorrow. I should go to bed.”

Derek bade him goodnight with one last kiss and left, through the front door for once.

Stiles went up to his room, saw all the boxes still waiting for him, and resigned himself to no sleep. Whatever, he had three hours which was all he probably would’ve gotten anyway. Settled, he got to work.

At four o’clock on the dot, Danny and Scott tapped on his window. They loaded up Danny’s car--a little less recognizable than the Jeep, alas--and set off for Memorial High School. With the pranks, security was increased, but Stiles had timed it so that the guards would be at their most tired. Dressed all in black, the two wolves all but disappeared when they wanted to. Stiles, on the other hand, had magic. There were no spells to make him invisible, but he could muffle his footsteps. It wouldn’t keep them from seeing him, but he always liked a challenge.

The wolf selection for this evening required the smallest and lightest for one reason: ducts. In order to get the desired outcome, they needed access to the ventilation system.

There were guards at every door, so Scott and Danny jumped up to the roof. From there they found an unguarded window to open for Stiles and the alarm clocks.

Each of Erica and Boyd’s classrooms got an alarm clock programed with the mosquito tone in the air vent. Alarm clocks were also placed in a few other random classrooms just in case someone noticed Erica and Boyd were being targeted, the cafeteria vents, each hallway’s bathroom--either boys’ or girls’; they alternated--and the gym’s vents. Each alarm clock was battery operated and programed to go off at a different time. They were placed far enough back in the vents that they weren’t easily seen, and then the grates were screwed back in place.

Prank in place, they avoided the guards once again and made it home just in time to get ready for school.

Revenge really was sweet.

Chapter Text

Erica looked half crazed when she slammed her way into his room that afternoon. Surprisingly, she had Heather behind her, also looking ready to tear him a new one despite looking like she’d missed several days worth of sleep.

“Ladies.” Stiles smiled.

“You’re dead.” Erica snapped. “You’re a brilliantly clever little shit, and you are so dead.”

“Huh.” Stiles checked his pulse. “I don’t feel very dead.”

“Just wait, Stilinski.” Erica hissed.

“You wanted a war,” Heather stated warningly, “you got one. No holding back anymore.”

Stiles stood and stalked toward them, cocksure grin on his face, “I look forward to it, but for now, it looks like King’s to me.”

Erica flashed her beta eyes to him in challenge, Heather too focused on him to notice, and then took Heather’s hand. “Let’s go. We have planning to begin.”

They left, stormcloud of Women Scorned almost tangible in their wake.

“Glad to see you’re making friends.” Stiles commented while Erica was still in ear shot.

Before he could even sit back down, he had another intruder barge into his room. This one, at least, looked less like she wanted to murder him.

“Mrs. McCall?”

She was still in her scrubs from work, and she, frankly, looked exhausted, but she had that look on her face that Stiles recognized. The I-might-be-out-of-my-depth-but-I-want-to-help look. Stiles saw it in the mirror every day for a week or so after Scott got Bit.

“You said to come to you with anything suspicious…”

“Yeah, absolutely. Uh, have a seat.” He stood up so that she could have the chair while he took the edge of the bed. “What’s going on?”

“You heard about those car accidents last night?”

He nodded.

“They weren’t the only ones. The ER was flooded yesterday with people who were hurt either at home or at work… the injuries were mostly minor, relatively speaking, but everyone I talked to… they all said the same thing.”

“They were tired.” Stiles guessed. “Fell asleep and got hurt.”

She nodded. “Normally… I’d brush it off, but there were too many of them, and…”

“And?” Stiles prompted.

“And… they’re not the only ones.” She stated. “I’ve noticed it at the hospital too. Nurses and doctors run themselves ragged, work horrific hours, it’s part of the job, but this is different. They’re all tired. People who should be rested after time off are still… exhausted when they come back.”

Stiles thought about this new information. “What about you?”

She shrugged. “I just haven't been sleeping well; too much stress. Nothing magical about that.”

“Thank you for sharing this. I was on the completely wrong track…” Stiles frowned and added the new variables into the problem.

Not isolated to an area, and not done all at once. Affecting a wide range of people, and apparently for longer than just a day as he’d previously believed. He had been going about this all wrong. It didn’t sound like any sleep spell he’d ever read before. He had to have been missing something more…

Mrs. McCall left him to it, he bade her goodnight, and then hit the computer for more research. He could use some help though. He called Lydia and asked her to start her own investigation with the new variables. She agreed, though she didn’t sound thrilled.

“Something the matter?” Stiles asked cautiously.

“Just tired.” She yawned. “No big deal.”

“Tired?” Stiles stopped typing in search parameters. “You okay? Is it a spell?”

“I’m not being drained of life force, relax.” She scolded.

“Nightmares?”

“All the shit that’s happened this last year or so, can you blame me? Anticlimactic I know.”

Stiles shook his head. “Work on this a little, but get some sleep if you’re tired. Everyone needs to be alert.”

“Stiles… Do you know something?”

“Just. A feeling.”

It was October now. The elves had said that whatever was happening with the ley lines would reach critical mass before the end of the year, and Stiles had a feeling that things were about to get a lot worse very quickly.

“Ok. I’ll see what I can get and bring it to school Monday.”

“Good. See you then.”

Stiles went for a run with Derek on Saturday. It was pleasantly cool, just cold enough that Stiles was able to keep himself warm by running. They started up the trails behind Stiles’ house working their way toward the preserve. Stiles wanted to check on the satyrs, brownies, and the dryads if they could find them while they were out there. The elves had been increasingly noncommunicative, even Leeloo hadn’t returned his texts as frequently as she normally did, and he wanted to keep lines of communication with their supernatural visitors open as much as he could.

“You think they’ll grant us an audience?” Derek asked when Stiles told him his plan.

“Maybe.” He shrugged. “But it’s worth a shot.”

Finding the satyrs was simple enough. Once they crossed into the area that the satyrs had claimed for themselves, they were greeted by several eager individuals.

“Bruxa Stiles! Alpha Hale. Welcome to our grove!”

“Hello again.” Stiles waved.

They were guided to a small, controlled fire where the satyrs were dancing, playing music, and preparing food. As their entourage rejoined their fellows, another satyr approached Stiles and Derek. He wore a crown woven from twigs and leaves upon his head, so Stiles took a shot in the dark and guessed that he was in charge.

“We were preparing to break our fast and celebrate the day renewed; please, join us.” He smiled graciously and gestured for Stiles and Derek to sit by the fire.

“Thank you.” Derek nodded.

“Not at all. Your presence honors us, Alpha Hale.” The satyr smiled. “You may call me Koz.”

Stiles took a proffered plate and began munching on the berries.

“Have you had any trouble since arriving?” Derek asked of Koz.

“None at all. The Beacon Forest is… in a bit of flux, but there is ample magic. We can hide ourselves quite effectively when we must.” Koz assured. “Even from the beasts brought from the ley lines.”

“Do you know anything about why it’s in flux?” Stiles drew his attention away from the food on his plate to pay closer attention to the conversation.

“We don’t. We are not… scholars. We make fine wine, fine goods from the forest, the finest music; we are simple in our needs. The magic, while useful, is still largely a mystery. More fun that way.” Koz smiled broadly. “As it should be. After all, what is life without a good bit of fun?”

“Fun?” Derek growled.

“There won’t be a forest left if we don’t figure out what’s going on.” Stiles insisted.

“And so you will.” Koz declared. “And, oh, the celebration that day will bring.”

“Is that all you think about? Parties and celebrations?” Derek demanded.

“Of course.” Koz said seriously. “We’re satyrs; revelry is our nature. We’re not fighters, we’ve no place in war, but merrymaking? Never has man or wolfkin been made more merry than by satyrs.”

“Come on.” Stiles ground his teeth to keep his frustration in check. “We should move on.”

“Our intent was not to offend.” Koz told them. “We offer only the truth.”

“Believe me when I tell you that something needs to change, soon, or everyone in this town, this forest, will die. That’s the truth.” Derek snapped.

Koz sighed. “Alpha Hale, if I could offer help, I would. Do not mistake my inability as unwillingness. We are simply unequipped.”

Stiles looked around at their audience. Satyrs, he noted, didn’t exactly cut an imposing figure. The tallest stood at maybe four and a half feet, their cloven hooves might have been sharp, but they were attached to very thin, dainty legs, covered in thin fur. Their upper bodies ranged in build, some were rather portly, others lean, but few were built the way warriors or hard laborers were.The small nubs they called horns on top of their heads were small and likely dull. They wore no armor, not even clothes, and while a few carried daggers, they were small, likely tools for basic needs or small game hunting. They were no soldiers.

“Derek.” Stiles sighed. “He’s right. Besides, we didn’t come here to antagonize them.”

“We understand Alpha Hale’s frustration. We are not offended.” Koz promised. “We wish we could do more; your favor granted us a home, and we would like very much to one day repay the debt. But it will not be on a battlefield.”

Reluctantly, Derek nodded his understanding. Stiles bade the satyrs farewell, and they made their retreat. It wasn’t what Stiles would have called an ideal meeting, but it could have gone worse.

“Peripheral support is better than no support.” Stiles commented.

“Doesn’t feel like it.”

Stiles set the pace as they picked up their jog and shrugged, “Still; at least they seem to like us.”

Derek just rolled his eyes.

Stiles’ next stop was the tree that the dryads had disappeared into. He had no idea if they were still there or not, but it was his best lead to finding them. When they found the area, Stiles looked around a bit to see if anything just shouted “Dryad! Right here!” Sadly, he found no flashing neon signs.

In lieu of the obvious, Stiles channeled his magic and touched the tree. “Can you hear me? I, uh, don’t know if you can, but we’d like to talk if you’re, you know, up for it.”

For a few minutes, all he got in response were the sounds of the forest. Stiles was ready to call it a no-go, when suddenly the sound of wind picked up, but there wasn’t a breeze that came with it. Snapping of twigs and more wind soon followed, and then the tree began to move. Stiles quickly withdrew his hand and stepped away; as he did, a dryad stepped from the tree to stand in front of him.

“Uh, hi.” Stiles waved.

You called for us, Stiles?

“Wow, I’d forgotten how weird that was.” Stiles mumbled. Louder, he replied, “Yeah, we just wanted to check up on you; see how you were doing?”

I am well. Your concern is welcome, though unnecessary. She moved gracefully, touching each tree that she passed as she wandered.

“What’s she saying?” Derek asked.

The dryad turned to look at Derek. You are Derek Hale, Alpha of your Pack. I remember your mother.

“She says she knew your mother.” Stiles whispered.

No. The dryad shook her head. Follow your magic; you share a bond, let my words flow through it.

Stiles concentrated, felt for the bond connecting him a Derek, motioning for patience since Derek seemed about ready to launch an inquisition. When he had it, he tried to do as the dryad instructed. He knew he got it when she nodded.

I did not know Talia Hale, young wolf. I remember her, though. My sisters and I have lived in Beacon Forest for many ages, we’ve seen your lineage as it grew and protected the forest. Talia was especially powerful; her death and the death of the others… left a mark on the forest.

“A mark?”

The Rivers flow and meet beneath and among the earth; they feed the forest, as the forest feeds them. Upset the flow and the cycle is damaged. Small ripples have dire consequences if left unchecked.

“You mean the ley lines.” Derek clarified. “You know what’s happening?”

We feel it. The Rivers are churning.

“How do we fix it?” Stiles asked desperately.

Calm the waters.

“How?”

I don’t know, Cionnfhaoladh Stilinski. The Rivers have not been this chaotic in more ages than I can remember. She knelt down, placed a hand in the dirt. The worse is yet to come, the taint spreads, the ripple has spread unchecked for far too long.

“The ripple… you mean the fire?” Derek asked.

So many deaths… Like the Rivers, the protectors of the forest gave to the earth and received in turn. The fire caste a stone into the Rivers, disrupted the cycle.

“The fire caused the imbalance in the ley lines.” Stiles sat down heavily on a nearby log. “It’s had six, almost seven years to get royally fucked up.”

The dryad’s head snapped up suddenly, and she was on her feet in an instant. The Rivers, they carry travelers, unwilling to the forest!

The shift in the ley lines hit Stiles hard enough to nearly make him vomit. If he hadn’t already been sitting, he’d be on the ground. “Holy god!”

“Stiles!”

“I’m okay.” Stiles accepted Derek’s help to stand. “The dryad?”

I must go. Not safe. Calm the waters, Bruxa!

With that she disappeared into her tree, leaving Stiles and Derek alone once again.

“Damn. We need to find whatever ‘traveler’ came through this time.” Derek glared reproachfully at the tree.

Stiles tugged on his sleeve as he started running. He needed to get to a place with better signal, and preferably a car. They were out near the Hale property though, so the Jeep and Derek’s Camaro were out since both were back at Stiles’ place. They made it about a mile before Stiles’ phone started ringing.

“It’s Dad.” Stiles skidded to a stop to answer. “Dad?”

“I’ve got three frantic reports of a very large snake making its way toward town. Is this something for animal control, or you guys?”

“Uh…” Stiles fumbled. “Anything more specific?”

“It’s already eaten three small dogs.” The sheriff told him, “Oh and one eye-witness swears up and down that it had horns.”

“Horns.”

“Yeah.”

A loud beep in his ear signaled call-waiting, “Shit. How large is large?”

“Big. Reports say twenty feet, but…”

“Reliability of witnesses, yeah, I get it.” He checked the caller ID: Archive. “I’ve got Lydia on the other line, let me see if we can ID this thing.”

“Get to it.”

Stiles switched the call. “You have something?”

“Just Mom’s best friend crying frantically about an enormous, horned snake that ate her Pomeranian. Know anything about this?”

“Uh, okay. Easily identifiable as a snake, no extra heads, so probably not Greek; horns means it’s not Jörmungdar, rules out Norse--”

“What type of snake?” Derek asked. “If it looks like an actual snake…”

“We might narrow down the origin. Good. Lydia, did she say what type of snake it was?”

“You want me to ask?”

“Might help.”

“Fine.” The sounds were muted for a few minutes and then, “Copperhead.”

“Really?”

“She didn’t outright say copperhead, but she described it, and yeah, definitely a copperhead.”

“Well, that’s… Native American then probably.”

“Got it. Caddaja; giant, man-eating snake with horns.” Lydia announced.

“Man-eating.”

“Yeah.”

“It’s headed to town, we have to warn Dad.” Stiles stated.

“It’s not headed to town, it’s in town.” Derek corrected. “Let’s get going.”

Stiles started shoving Derek’s clothes into his bag as he stripped out of them. “Anything special to kill it?”

“No, just don’t get eaten, or bit.” Lydia told him.

“How big?”

“Doesn't say.”

“Fine. Call in the troops, and if you can, get on the cameras and find it. This is going to suck.” Stiles hopped on to the fully changed wolf and they took off for town. Stiles ended the call so that Lydia could contact the others, then he called his dad.

“Talk to me.”

“Definitely one of ours.” Stiles said quickly.

“Fine. I’ll get the force focused on crowd control.”

“That would be good.” His phone beeped. “Got another call. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Be careful.”

“You too.” He switched the call. “Talk to me.”

“You really going to ride a wolf into battle, Stilinski?”

“Jackson. Where are you?”

“Look left.”

He did. Through the trees he could just make out the road and a car driving alongside them. He did a quick focus along the Pack bond to see who was in the car. Jackson was by himself. “Did you steal a car?”

“Of course not, dumbass. I borrowed Danny’s.”

“Great. Pull over and we’ll hop in.”

“No fur on the upholstery.” Jackson quipped before disconnecting and pulling the car over.

Stiles jumped off of Derek and tossed him his clothes after he changed back. Together they climbed into the car and Jackson burned rubber getting them back to town.

“Are you wearing a Phillies baseball cap?” Stiles demanded.

“It’s my clever disguise.”

“It’s the Phillies.” Stiles objected.

“Not the time Stiles.” Derek grumbled.

Jackson smirked at Stiles smugly.

“Ass.”

They came screeching around the corner of a residential neighborhood about five minutes later. Stiles had to brace himself against the seat and the door in order to not go sprawling. Even his seat belt wasn’t capable of holding him in against those g-forces.

“Slow the hell down! You’re gonna hit someone!” Stiles squeaked.

“Am not. The street’s clear of anyone who isn’t a giant man-eating snake.” Jackson countered right before slamming on the brakes to avoid hitting a line of portajohns.

“I hate you so much right now.” Stiles grumbled.

When they finally pulled over, Stiles tumbled out of the car in his haste to exit the steel deathtrap. He sent one more glare in Jackson’s direction before getting down to business. Bluetooth nestled in his ear, he hit call and punched up Lydia’s contact info.

“You have eyes on target?” He asked.

“I’m a little limited to stoplight cameras until it gets into commercial sectors.” She replied.

“I’d like to catch it before then.”

“Last seen… three blocks east of your location, headed your way.” She told him. “You’re damn lucky most of that neighborhood is in development, Stilinski.”

“Noted.” Stiles pulled on his gloves. “Suggestions?”

“Cut off the head.” Jackson snapped.

“Don’t get eaten.”

“Very helpful.” Stiles mumbled.

Scott and Isaac pulled up on Scott’s motorcycle less than a minute later. Both were still in their scrubs from working with Deaton.

“Doc let you go for this?” Stiles wondered.

“Said we’d probably need these.” Scott held up a few syringes of clear liquid.

“Snake venom antidote.” Isaac supplied. “Lydia asked if Deaton had any.”

“Joy.” Stiles grimaced. “Can you guys smell it out?”

“This way.” Derek took off, the other wolves followed, leaving Stiles to bring up the rear.

“We need a plan.” Stiles pointed out.

“It’s a snake. Trap the mouth, eliminate the threat.” Lydia offered.

The Caddaja met them around the corner, and it was massive. From nose to tip of the tail it was easily twenty feet long, the width of the head was three feet, the horns on top of its head were curved like a ram, designed for striking and stunning a victim, not piercing flesh. At its widest, the body was probably three or four feet thick.

“Yeah. I don’t think it’ll be that easy.” Isaac shook his head.

The Pack moved into two groups to flank it. Scott, Derek, and Isaac on one side, Stiles and Jackson on the other. Predictably, the Caddaja tracked the movement of the larger group, sensing the bigger threat, bigger meal. While the head was focused on the others, Jackson and Stiles moved quickly to get to the portion of the torso that held vital organs.

“Rope would be good.” Isaac observed.

“We’re in a construction zone!” Stiles gestured. “I’m gonna bet there’s rope or something like it laying around somewhere.”

The Caddaja lunged to snap at Scott, splitting the group as they dodged in different directions. The snake slithered quickly, further separating the group by getting between Isaac and Derek.

“Magic it, Stilinski!” Jackson snapped.

The Caddaja began to coil its huge bulk, preparing for another strike, Stiles and Jackson had to move out of its way or be hit by a few tons of snake. Stiles tripped, of course, but picked himself up off the pavement as fast as he could.

“Stiles! You’ve got a minivan headed your way. Danny says there’s a few houses that are occupied nearby, including one on that street.” Lydia shouted in his ear.

“Shit.”

The Caddaja used his horns to slam into Isaac, catching him in the hip. He howled in pain, hit the ground, and didn’t get back up. Scott roared in defiance, launching himself onto the snake headless of Derek’s advisement to not.

“Jackson, go help them; I have to take care of a minivan.” Stiles cursed silently and took off toward the approaching car.

He had to catch it before it turned the corner and saw the werewolves engaged in battle with a giant man-eating snake. He cut through a house still under construction to save some time, but stopped in his tracks when he found a large coyote sitting calmly in his intended path.

“Uh…”

“Don’t worry about the van; I took care of it.” The coyote said.

Uh…” Stiles took a few unconscious steps back, hitting up against a doorframe.

The coyote grinned. “Come now, Stiles. A talking coyote can’t be the strangest thing you’ve seen.”

“You’re talking. You’re a coyote, and you’re talk-- No. You’re Coyote. The Coyote.” Stiles tried valiantly to pick his jaw up off the floor. “You… I’ve seen you, but then… I’d always forget. Have you been following me?”

“As if I have nothing better to do with my time.” Coyote barked a laugh.

“Okay… why are you here?” Stiles didn’t even want to blink, worried he’d forget again.

Coyote smiled. “I’m a Trickster. I like chaos.”

“The ley lines drew you here.”

The roar of an angry werewolf and the sound of something large hitting the asphalt echoed in the unfinished house, knocking loose some sawdust.

“The ley lines have drawn many things here.” Coyote pointed out. “It’s been a while since there’s been enough energy in a place that I can manifest physically so far from any of the People.” Coyote stepped forward then, until his was nearly nose to nose with Stiles. “I like you; it’s a pity you’re not one of mine. Because I like you, I offer a warning: Fix what’s causing this, Bruxa, or worse things than old gods and monsters will visit themselves upon this town.”

“Do I get an example?” Stiles tried.

Coyote laughed again. “Ask Arahaelon; he might be old enough to remember. Or don’t. It’s all the same to me.”

Coyote turned from him, then, diminishing in size until he was the natural size of a coyote. As he stepped forward to leave, his body lost its corporeal form until he was just a spirit bounding away out of sight.

Stiles took a few breaths to get his heart rate back to normal, pleased that he hadn’t forgotten the encounter once Coyote was gone.

“Is what just happened, what I think just happened?” Lydia asked over the line. He’d forgotten it was still on.

“You mean did I just have a conversation with Coyote, Trickster god from Native American legend, then yes. That is what just happened.”

“Holy shit, Stiles.”

The roar of another werewolf jarred him back into action. He sprinted back the way he came, hoping to help out against the Caddaja.

He saw the snake coiled up, ready to strike again, so he tossed a bolt of lightning at it. While the thing was dazed, Derek directed Jackson and Scott to tear into it’s sides where the scales were weakest. When it came out of it’s daze, the Caddaja turned its head Stiles’ direction.

“Clear!” Stiles shouted. He waited for Jackson and Scott to step back before sending another jolt of electricity to the snake.

The two wolves jumped back into the fight after a beat, working frantically while the beast was stunned. Stiles found Derek leaning over Isaac, who still hadn’t gotten back up from where he’d fallen. Derek had what looked suspiciously like a large fang sticking out of his left shoulder, but he was still on his feet.

Scott and Jackson were starting to make a dent in its hide with the tearing and shredding until the Caddaja writhed forcefully, sending them both back a few feet. Stiles took his opportunity to fling more lightning at it, but the Caddaja didn’t stay stunned nearly as long as it had before. Instead it came for Stiles with it’s horns, attempting to crush or stun him. Stiles rolled out of the way, tossing more lightning as he landed. Undeterred, the Caddaja came for him again, but this time, Stiles didn’t have the maneuverability to roll out of the way. Instead he threw as much force as he could muster into the gloves and held his hands aloft to catch the blow.

The breath was knocked clean out of him when the Caddaja’s strike met the force of his gloves. Stiles also heard and felt a few ribs crack under the pressure. The snake didn’t escape unscathed either. The force splintered the horns atop its head, sending shards in every direction, and caved in its skull, killing it.

Scott was standing over him in seconds. “Stiles! You alive, Man?”

Stiles finally managed to take in a lungful of sweet, painful air, and nodded.

“Don’t move.” Scott instructed. “Jackson’s giving Derek the antivenom, and then we’re going to get you and Isaac out of here.”

“‘Saac?”

“Shattered hip.” Scott told him dutifully. “He’ll be okay in a few hours. You?”

“Ribs.” Monosyllabic was about all Stiles could manage at the moment.

“Bruised, cracked, or broken?” Derek asked as he loomed over Stiles’ still prone form.

“Yes.”

Stiles heard Jackson scoff somewhere to his right. He put forth the monumental effort it took to flip him off.

“What are we going to do with the body?” Isaac’s disembodied voice wondered also somewhere to Stiles’ right.

A whisper in his ear told him, “I’ll take him home. Go now, Bruxa.”

“Don’t worry ‘bout it.” Stiles managed. “I’ll ‘splain later.”

Derek gently lifted him up, and carried him bridal style to Danny’s car. From there is was a bit of a drive to get to Deaton’s, so Stiles instructed Jackson to take them to Boyd and Erica’s since it was closer. Stiles spent most of it with Derek easing his pain, drifting in and out of sleep once he hung up with Lydia.

As they climbed out, Jackson explained that he was taking the car back to Danny since the neighborhood was too populated for him to safely get out. Derek nodded, and told him to be safe. Stiles forced himself to wake up enough to walk his own sweet ass to the door to knock. He needn’t have bothered, since Mami Boyd opened the door for him before he finished lifting his hand to knock.

“Don’t just stand there; come in.” She ushered them all inside.

Scott helped Isaac limp his way to the sofa while Derek and Stiles handled the hellos.

“Baro, you’re getting blood on my rug.” Mami Boyd scolded lightly.

Derek actually looked a little ashamed and started trying to stop the bleeding with a little pressure and the rest of his shirt. Stiles blamed it on survivors high for the way he twitched a little in his pants at the sight of Derek’s bare chest. Derek smirked at him, as if to say “really?” but Stiles was unrepentant.

“You look like shit.” Erica hugged him.

“Ow.” Stiles wheezed. “Ribs.”

Erica released him quickly. “What did we miss?”

“Caddaja.” Stiles told her, clutching his arm to his ribs. “Giant man-eating snake monster.”

“With horns.” Isaac added.

“Yeah. Those too.”

“Those ribs need to be bound.” Mami Boyd said sternly. In her arms she had strips of cloth which she used to bind his chest, and then his arm to his chest for support. “So. You come here just to heal, or are you finally going to take care of those Nightmares?”

“I thought… is the dreamcatcher not working?” Stiles turned to Erica.

“No. Dreamcatcher works perfectly.” Mami Boyd shook her head. “The rest of us not so lucky as to have dreamcatcher. Nightmares attack us.”

“Attack?” Derek frowned.

“What are you talking about?” Stiles asked.

Mami Boyd scrutinized him briefly before shaking her head. “The Nightmares, child. They come in our sleep, give bad dreams, take a little life force every night. Have you not noticed?”

“Nightmares… they whole town’s being attacked by Nightmares, magical Nightmares.” Derek clarified.

“It’s not a spell.” Stiles groaned. “It’s an actual creature making the whole town tired enough to cause all those accidents; that’s why everyone looks so exhausted all the time.”

“Mami says that the dreamcatcher you gave me is protecting me from the attacks,” Erica offered, “but they’re both still affected.”

“The dreamcatcher was keyed to you, it was made specifically for you.” Stiles told her. “I guess it only protects you.”

“What about you?” Erica asked. “You said you don’t have nightmares every night.”

“I don’t.”

“Then you are also unaffected.” Mami Boyd interrupted. “Why… Oh, I See. You’re warded against malevolent magics, aren’t you.”

“Among other things.” Stiles nodded.

Scott asked, “So, how do we stop it?”

“It can only be done in dreams, and only by those who know they are dreaming. It must be you and Erica; you are the only two unaffected, it will be too dangerous for anyone else.” Mami Boyd informed them.

“Okay. Nap time.”

“Not now.” She shook her head. “You are in no condition to fight a Nightmare. You will need your strength. And it must be another’s dream, the Nightmare cannot reach you in your own, so you must go to it.”

“That sounds like an invasive experience.” Stiles disapproved.

“And dangerous.” Derek added. “I’ll do it.”

“It is dangerous, but it must be done.” Mami Boyd objected. “Later, though. Rest now. Regain your strength. You will both need it.”

Scott stayed long enough to make sure that all injured parties were okay before leaving to go back to Deaton. Isaac dozed lightly on the couch, Boyd offered Stiles and Derek the use of his and Erica’s bed since it was a while yet before either of them would need it.

Before going to sleep, Stiles sent a text.

TO: Leeloo
1:10pm

Need to talk. In person. When can you meet?

It was a while before he got a reply, but he occupied himself by warding Derek with temporary glyphs to keep the Nightmares away for the moment.

FROM: Leeloo
2:00pm

After school Monday. Somewhere out of sight.

TO: Leeloo
2:02pm

The breezeway, after school.

FROM: Leeloo
2:02pm

Acceptable.

He went to sleep after setting his phone on the bedside table.

They were all awake for dinner. Mami Boyd cooked a meal large enough to feed them, and they all sat around in the living room, since the dining room was too small, while Stiles explained what happened with his encounter with the dryad and Coyote.

“When we were getting ready to leave, Coyote told me he’d take care of the body. Bring it home, he said.” Stiles finished up his explanation.

“You think he was brought through in a shift like the Caddaja?” Isaac asked.

Stiles shook his head. “I don’t think so. He almost made it sound like he was there by choice, that he liked the chaos that came with what’s wrong with the ley lines.”

“But how could the Hale fire have caused all this, I still don’t get it.” Erica stated.

“My family’s lived in that house for generations.” Derek explained. “We’re an old line, most of us werewolves, and we protected Beacon Hills from intruders. According to the dryad, the protection had an effect on the forest beyond just physically keeping it safe. When the fire… when almost everyone died, the loss of that connection to the forest caused a disruption in the ley lines.”

“Right. Small at first,” Stiles picked up, “but as time went on and no one fixed it, the problem got a little worse. Add Peter’s rampage of death throwing in even more chaos, and it snowballed into what we have today.”

“But we can fix it, right?” Isaac asked.

“I still don’t know how.” Stiles said, frustrated. “It can’t be as simple as establishing another Pack connection to the forest, because we’ve done that and it hasn’t stopped.”

“Like throwing a cup of water on a forest fire; it’s just not enough anymore.” Mami Boyd consoled.

Once dinner was over, Isaac, Derek, and Stiles made their exit. Scott was out front, as Stiles had asked him to be, and handed Stiles his extra helmet. Isaac was healed enough to walk home with Derek, and the both of them voted that Stiles catch a ride since his ribs were still damaged.

Stiles thanked Scott for the ride, and then got on the phone with Lydia. Now that he knew what was happening to the town, he had to tell Lydia so that she could start looking in the right direction. He needed information on the Nightmares: how to fight them, what their weaknesses were, how many there were, etc. He’d focus on the spell he’d need to enter someone else’s dream, and all that entailed. Before they hung up to begin their research, Lydia agreed to meet him after school on Monday in the breezeway since they didn’t share any classes.

Sunday, Stiles spent the whole day researching and planning the spell he’d need for entering someone else’s dream. A shared sleep spell looked like his best bet, but there were complications. One, he’d obviously need a volunteer. Someone would have to willingly let Stiles and Erica into their head to witness what was no doubt some of the worst things they could imagine; what haunted them, what terrified them, what woke them up screaming. It was a lot of trust. Problem two, they’d have to not wake up. In order for Stiles and Erica to have enough time to take care of the Nightmares, they’d need the dreamer to stay asleep for the duration. This also put the dreamer in a bit of danger. For as long as they were under, and until the Nightmares were dealt with, the Nightmares would be feeding off the dreamer’s life energy. Stiles and Erica would also need to stay asleep; if anything happened in the real world that could potentially wake them too soon, it would be bad. All of this meant, problem number three, someone would need to stand by to wait for the signal to deactivate the sleep spell. This someone would have to be able to nix the spell, but would also need a way to receive the signal.

“Derek.” Stiles sighed.

Said werewolf was currently in Stiles’ room, reading, as he typically did when Stiles went on a researching binge.

“Why do I think I’m not going to like what comes out of you mouth next?” Derek set the book aside to give Stiles his attention.

“It can’t be you.” Stiles told him.

Derek frowned. “Why not?”

“Because I’ll need you to be awake to break the spell.” Stiles explained. “You can do it, I trust you to do it--it’ll require our blood again--and you’re the only one I’ll be able to get a signal to so you know when to end the spell.”

Derek was quiet for a moment while he thought it over, then he nodded. “One of the others then.”

“I don’t like putting any of them in danger, but I don’t see another way. We’ll ask at the Pack meeting tomorrow.”

Monday finally came. Stiles got a fairly decent night’s sleep with Derek there, and he made sure to give Derek another glyph to keep the Nightmare at bay for one more night. Derek finally looked well-rested again in the morning.

Unlike everyone at school.

Stiles berated himself for not seeing it sooner. Everyone showed signs of sleep deprivation and lethargy. People moved slower, everyone was more irritable, and coffee cups were in a lot of hands. Stiles shook his head. At least it would be over soon.

When the last bell finally rang, Stiles made it out to the breezeway and waited for Leeloo and Lydia.

He got neither.

“You.”

Stiles rolled his eyes. He really did not need this.

The shove made his still-healing ribs flare up in pain, and he was slammed into the concrete wall of the breezeway. Stiles glared up at the bully and his two friends.

“Really? Can you not?” Stiles snapped.

“No one around this time, freak.” Another shove. “No cameras either. It’s like you wanted us to find you.”

“I’m waiting for someone--”

“Your boyfriend, queer?” The bully sneered. “Well he ain’t here, is he?”

The punch to the gut, Stiles saw coming; the follow up to the face, not as much. He wanted to blast them back, but he couldn’t risk exposing himself. At this point, he only had one defense left while he waited for either Lydia or Leeloo to arrive.

“No. Just you and your boyfriends.” Stiles grit out.

Another punch, this one to his solar plexus which made his ribs all the more vocal in their dislike of the situation.

“I’m not a fag!”

“No? You hit like one.” Stiles mocked.

The bully gestured to his friends, and they moved forward and pinned him against the wall. The bully threw a series of punches to his gut and face. “How about now?” The bully snarled.

Stiles licked his split lip and said, “I’ve known old men who hit harder than that.”

Whatever the bully was going to say in response was lost in the shout of pain he emitted as Allison ninja’d him to the ground. While she had him pinned on his knees, with his arm up behind his back, the other two released Stiles to attack her from either side. She kicked one in the groin with the heel of her boot, and used her free elbow to slam the other’s diaphragm, winding him, and then to his jaw to knock him down. As they both dropped, she tightened her hold on the leader to near-breaking point before releasing him with a shove toward his fallen accomplices.

“Pathetic.” She muttered.

“Allison.” Stiles clutched his arm to his ribs as he leaned against the wall for support. “Not that I’m not grateful…”

“I brought her.” Lydia answered, stepping up beside Allison as she watched the bullies scamper away. “She has just as much right to know what’s happening as the rest of us.”

Stiles looked to Allison who looked back to him, uncertainty written all over her face. “Fair enough.” Stiles agreed. He may not like what Allison had done in the past, but she was as much a part of what was happening as any of them.

“A fair warrior such as her should be welcome, given the circumstances.” Hatholdes stepped forward from where she’d apparently been waiting.

“Given the circumstances, I don’t blame his mistrust.” Allison allowed. “Who are you?”

“Allison, this is Hatholdes. She’s an elf from the forest; she’s been helping us.” Stiles introduced. “Hatholdes, this is Allison Argent.”

“An Argent.” Hatholdes gave Allison a more thorough look. “I see. What is an Argent doing protecting a member of a wolf Pack, especially one who is also a Bruxa? Or does your hunting not extend past the wolfkin?”

“My hunting extends to no one these days.” She turned to Stiles. “What’s a Bruxa?”

“Magic user.” Stiles simplified. “Surprise.” Jazz hands may have accompanied that.

Lydia pulled a jump drive out of her purse. “Everything I found on Nightmares. Derek’s not going to be happy.”

“Yeah. he and I had that discussion already.” Stiles sighed, taking the drive. “So now, on top of getting visits from a Native American god who is even more cryptic than Deaton at his worst, now I have to find another volunteer willing to let me and Erica view their worst nightmares all while risking death.”

“I volunteer.” Allison offered.

“What?”

“You said you need a volunteer. I’ll do it.” Allison reiterated.

“An interesting choice.” Hatholdes murmured.

“You’d do that? You haven’t even heard what you’d have to do, what I’d have to do to you.” Stiles protested.

“I trust you.”

Stiles considered the possibilities for a moment. The last time Stiles had asked for help from Allison, she hadn’t trusted herself to not attack the Pack. She seemed much more sure of herself now than she had been then. It was also possible that she wished to atone. Stiles couldn’t say that he was completely opposed to the idea. Allison, and Chris for that matter, would be a big help in fighting the things that were carried here by the ley lines. He’d take all the cooperative help he could get.

“Come to the Pack meeting tonight.” Stiles told her.

She nodded.

“As for you,” Stiles turned to Hatholdes, “I wanted to talk about Coyote.”

“We’d noted his presence, but he wasn’t causing any trouble.” She informed him calmly.

“He said something that I wanted clarification on.” Stiles began. “He said worse things were coming; when I asked what, he said to ask Arahaelon.”

Hatholdes tensed. “What were his exact words?”

“‘Worse things than monsters and old gods will visit themselves upon this town.’” Lydia recited. “When Stiles asked for an example, Coyote told him to ‘ask Arahaelon, he might be old enough to remember.’”

“My father is the oldest of the Elders, but even he was not yet born the last time the ley lines behaved this way. Although, he may have known someone who was; the stories may be somewhere in his memory. He would not speak of them to you, however.”

“I was afraid you’d say that.” Stiles groaned. “Damn it! This town is spiraling towards armageddon and no one wants to cooperate enough to save it.”

“What do you mean?” Allison asked. “What’s happening to the town?”

“This town sits on top of the largest ley line crossroads in the country, said ley lines are in chaos because nearly seven years ago, Kate Argent burned down the family that had been protecting the forest for generations, thereby throwing the ley lines out of whack. Crazy Uncle Peter then went on a murder spree six years later tossing in even more chaos to the unstable flow of magic. Now, the downward spiral of magical chaos is so strong that nothing we’ve done to establish a new protective Pack is enough to stem the tide. So, all this uncontrolled magic is spitting out creature upon creature into the forest and town that we must then track down and take care of before said innocent town becomes aware of their existence, but really, what does it matter? Because if the root of the problem isn’t solved before we hit critical mass by the end of the year, there won’t be a town left to protect!”

“You’ve discovered the cause of the problem?” Hatholdes spoke while Allison seemed to take her time digesting the new information.

“Yes.” Stiles sighed. “The dryads knew all along.”

“See.” Lydia glared. “This is why your Elders should be more open to the Summit Stiles suggested. How much sooner could this problem been solved if you would just take the time to listen to people other than yourselves?”

“It’s not her fault, Lydia.” Stiles objected calmly.

“No. She has the right of it.” Hatholdes stated. “I have not been as supportive as I should have been. Avorndir and Daumelladnel have been trying to convince the Elders to listen; it is past time I added my voice to theirs. Please, excuse me.” Stiles bowed his head in thanks, and Hatholdes opened a way, stepped through, and closed it behind her.

Once she was gone, Lydia, Allison, and Stiles made their way to Derek’s for the Pack meeting. On the ride over, Stiles and Lydia caught Allison up on the events of the summer and all the creatures that had been attacking. In turn, Allison informed them that Chris and she were out of the hunting game for the foreseeable future, but that she wasn’t sure if she could keep out of it anymore now that she knew what was happening.

When they arrived, the rest of the Pack was already upstairs. Stiles opened the door to the loft and stepped in, Allison only half a step behind him.

Scott leapt up from his seat on the chair. “Allison!”

“What is she doing here?” Erica snarled, stepping protectively in front of Boyd.

Derek didn’t even look at Allison. “You’re hurt.”

Eyes that had been focused on Allison shifted over to Stiles, so he took that moment to address everyone. “Those bullies from beginning of the semester found me while I was waiting for Lydia. Allison took care of them before they could do any real damage.”

Scott beamed, Erica stopped growling audibly, and Derek glanced briefly to Allison before fixing his eyes back to Stiles. “Thank you.”

“No problem.” Allison was still anxious, but she relaxed just a fraction.

“She’s also volunteered to help out with the Nightmares.” Stiles added.

“What?” Scott sounded worried.

“You realize what you’re doing?” Danny asked. “You’re letting Stiles and Erica look at your darkest fears, get up close and personal in your head.”

Scott added. “If something goes wrong, you could die.”

“I know.” She assured.

“You’re going to trust Derek with your life?” Peter sneered skeptically. “Wouldn’t it be easier just to present your throat and get it over with?”

“I trust Stiles.” Allison glared daggers at Peter. “He trusts Derek. That’s enough for me.”

Derek nodded. “Fine. What do you need?” He asked Stiles.

“Give me and Erica time to look over the information Lydia gave me, and then I’ll need a blood sample from Allison.”

“Gladly.” Erica snapped.

“You have every right to hate me--”

“Damn right I do!”

“--but I’m here to help. Let’s finish this, and after, you and I can duke it out if that’s what you really want.” Allison offered.

“I’d kill you.” Erica stated.

“Probably.” Allison agreed.

That seemed to give Erica some pause, so Stiles took the opportunity to diffuse the situation. He gestured to Scott and Lydia to distract Allison while he, Derek, and Boyd guided Erica to the computer in the corner.

Stiles and Erica poured over the information for the next hour. There wasn’t a lot there, but Stiles got the impression that Nightmares weren’t well-known. Something that masked itself as something completely mundane would be difficult to identify. The only reason they’d caught onto it as quickly as they had was because Mami Boyd was a Seer--sort of--and was able to See the effects of its presence.

Once they’d read all they had, and planned accordingly, Stiles and Erica rejoined the others.

“Ready?”

“Ready.”

Stiles waited patiently with a small vial while Allison used a small knife to cut a slice on her forearm. Blood gathered, Scott handed Allison a bandage while Stiles prepared the spell to put the three of them under. Glyphs drawn--in blood, because of course it was vaguely creepy--subjects placed in relaxed positions, one last check with all parties involved, and a small application of will later and…

Stiles and Erica found themselves in a dark forest, fog coated the ground, clouds covered the sky, and the ambient lighting made Stiles feel a little like he was on the set of a horror film. Stiles guessed they were somewhere in the forest on the preserve.

“Erica.”

“This is creepy.” She stated.

Stiles nodded. “Come on, we should find Allison.”

“That’s her up there.” Erica pointed to a pair of ATVs moving in the distance. “This looks like the night she caught me and Boyd and stuck us full of arrows.”

A scream in the distance sounded far too like Erica for Stiles’ comfort. “Right. Shall we?”

They moved to the ATVs quickly. When they crested the hill that they’d had to hike, Stiles saw dream Erica and Boyd on the ground in front of Allison. Erica had an arrow in her leg, Boyd had five poking out of his chest and legs.

“Chris had to stop her from killing him.” Erica growled.

Chris wasn’t anywhere in sight. Instead, standing next to Allison was Kate, sickly sweet smile on her face as applauded Allison’s actions. Kate wasn’t alone either. Gerard was at Allison’s other shoulder, telling her how proud he was of her, that she was an excellent protegé just like her Aunt Kate. So malleable, so full of hate.

Allison had tears streaming down her face, muttering to herself. “Stop. Don’t do it, God, please; just once don’t let me do it. Please, I can’t see it anymore, make it stop.”

While her face contorted in fear and pain and regret, her body was calm, stance perfect, as she drew another arrow from her quiver and knocked it to the string. As she drew the string back to her cheek, Kate and Gerard encouraged her, “Do it, kill it, do the world a favor.”

“No!” Allison screamed as she released the arrow. It found its mark right between Boyd’s eyes, killing him instantly.

“She regrets it.” Stiles observed.

“Regrets she lost her chance to kill us.” Erica countered petulant.

Stiles turned to say something to Erica, but as he did, the scene changed. They were no longer in the woods, but in the Argent’s basement. Stiles recognized it from his own time as the Argent’s prisoner. Erica noticed the change too; she looked around taking in her new surroundings.

“How many of these are we going to see before we kill this thing?” She asked as she looked at herself and Boyd tied up and enduring a constant stream of electroshock.

“We have to get through to Allison first. It’ll show itself when its meal is interrupted.” Stiles told her.

Footsteps from the stairs made Stiles turn to look. Allison was coming downstairs. She headed straight for the controls, cranking the juice, making Boyd and Erica scream through their gags.

“She tortured you?” Stiles asked.

“No.” Erica admitted.

Again Allison was crying, her face in complete contrast to her actions.

“Allison.” Stiles tried to get her attention.

She looked at him, but without recognition. “I don’t want to do this. Don’t want this, please, make it stop.”

Stiles tried to pull her hand away from the controls, but he passed through her. “Damn. Allison! You can make this stop.”

“Please, I don’t want to do this.” She begged, cranking the dial even further.

“Obviously that’s not true.” Kate’s pleased purr came from the shadows closely followed by her form. “Come on sweetie, you know this is what you want. To be powerful, remember? Be honest. Don’t you feel powerful?”

Kate grinned and stroked Allison’s hair lovingly.

“I can’t make it stop, please make me stop.” Allison cried again.

“Why would you stop? This is your legacy! Family business, isn’t that right Dad?”

“And you’re making us so proud, Allison.” Gerard agreed, coming down the stairs with an unconscious Stiles over his shoulder.

“Well that’s disturbing.” Stiles frowned.

“No kidding.” Erica agreed.

Instead of dumping him and leaving, Gerard strung up dream Stiles to hang from the ceiling, though not attached to the electricity. “Try this one, Allison.”

“Ooh, he’s a cute one. I bet he screams prettily.” Kate bounced over to Stiles as he hung from the ceiling.

“He’s human.” Allison objected even as her legs carried her over.

“He’s in a Pack.” Gerard corrected. “Werewolf sympathizer. He’s not human anymore.”

Allison took a fighter’s stance in front of Stiles and began hitting him like a punching bag. “This is wrong, he doesn’t deserve this.”

“He does if I say he does.” Gerard snapped.

“You can stop this Allison!” Stiles yelled. “Stop.”

“Feel the power.” Kate hummed. “Isn’t it intoxicating.”

“No, no, no. Please…”

“Come on Allison!” Stiles shouted again.

Erica screamed in frustration, stepping in front of Allison, ignoring the fists that flew through her as Allison continued to throw punch after punch. “You want to be powerful? Want to be proud of yourself? Take control of yourself! Ignore these assholes and own yourself! Take! Control!”

The next punch stopped centimeters from Erica’s face, and Allison froze, breathing heavily. Finally, slowly, she lowered her hand and stepped back.

“Allison?” Stiles tried.

“Stiles?” Allison turned to look at him, not the vision of him dangling from the ceiling. She turned back and said, “Erica.”

“Finally.” Erica nodded. “Can we get the hell out of the torture basement now?”

The next instant they were standing in the forest again. The sun was out, the ground was clear of fog, and Stiles recognized it as the area that they’d taken Jackson in the police van. Allison looked different too. She wasn’t wearing her all black hunting outfit like she had been earlier; now she was in normal clothes, and she was armed with her bow and quiver.

“Where is it?” She practically snarled.

“It’ll come to you.” Stiles told her.

They didn’t have to wait long. Soon enough two figures came out of the forest toward them. Of course they looked like Kate and Gerard, because why wouldn’t they. Erica shifted, Allison drew an arrow, and Stiles concentrated.

“Well, well. Dinner and a show.” Kate smiled.

Allison shouted angrily as she let the first arrow fly. It disappeared before reaching its target. Kate chuckled.

“This is our world; you answer to our whims.” Gerard said, and Allison’s bow disappeared.

“I don’t.” Erica growled and charged.

Erica slammed into the Nightmare that looked like Gerard, knocking him to the ground. He disappeared once he realized he couldn’t control Erica, reappearing closer to Allison. “Interesting. Not dream friends.”

“No. They’re visitors.” Kate declared, focus shifted to Stiles. “Interesting.”

Erica moved to attack again, but Kate moved out of the way easily. She laughed as she glided away from another attack, attention focused on Erica. Allison attempted again and again to hit Gerard, but he just disappeared or moved easily out of the way. Both of them seemed more amused than anything else.

Stiles just waited.

It took the Nightmares less than a minute to notice that Stiles wasn’t moving to attack as the other two were. “What’s the matter little one? Afraid?”

“Should I be?”

“Bravado. It won’t save you.” Gerard told him. “You’ll wither and die just like your friend.”

“Try it. Aren’t you hungry? Come on. Have a taste.” Stiles offered, arms open.

When their faces went from eager to blank, Stiles smiled again. “What are you?”

“Not afraid.” Stiles told them. “Because we’re not in your world. You’re in mine.”

The scenery changed again as Stiles activated the second stage of the spell. Now that they were in his mind, Stiles put them on the lacrosse field. Home turf. He gave himself a bat, Allison a bow and quiver, and signaled the real attack to begin by knocking Kate back thirty feet with a baseball bat to the gut. She got to her feet and began running away.

Erica pounced on Gerard with renewed vigor. He fought back, changing his own hands into claws. Stiles quickly dismissed them with a thought. He died quickly after that.

Allison let fly an arrow that landed between Kate’s shoulder blades, staggering her, but she kept going. Allison released more arrows, most finding their mark, but still she ran. Stiles just walked calmly to the other side of the field and waited, bat at the ready. When Kate hit the far edge of the field she disappeared and materialized back on the other side of the field. Stiles swung, caving in her skull.

“That was therapeutic. Everyone good?”

“Very.” Erica stood up from Gerard’s corpse.

“How did you do that?” Allison asked. “You changed things…”

“Like I said. I brought us into my mind.” Stiles explained. “Our attacks would be utterly ineffective so long as we were in your mind where the Nightmares had a foothold and near absolute control.”

The research that Lydia had provided had clued them in to that little detail, so Stiles had adjusted the spell. They had to start in Allison’s mind in order to draw the Nightmares out into the open, but the fighting would have to take place elsewhere.

“When Stiles and I were looking at Lydia’s research, we saw that the original plan wouldn’t work. Stiles told me to keep them busy once we drew them out so that he could do his thing.”

“Why not tell me the plan changed?” Allison asked.

“Couldn’t risk it.” Stiles apologized. “They had access to your mind, if they knew that we planned to lure them like that, they may never have shown up.”

“Okay.” She nodded. “Let’s go.”

Stiles focused intently on his link with Derek and gave it a few good tugs.

The first thing Stiles noticed when he woke up was that he was not where he’d started. He’d been curled up on the recliner when they’d all gone under, but he was now definitely on Derek’s bed. With Erica.

“What’d I miss?” He slurred.

“You fell out of the chair.” Derek explained, he was leaning against the dresser. “We think it was a shift in the ley lines, but we’re not sure. Lydia, Isaac, Danny, and Peter haven’t found anything yet.”

Stiles sat up, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. “Okay. Okay, what made you think it was a shift?”

“I was keeping our link more open than usual.” Derek admitted. “I didn’t want to miss the signal. When the shift happened… I felt it through the link.”

“Awesome.” Stiles groaned. He pointed to Erica, who was just waking up. “What about her?”

“You landed on her.” Boyd piped up. He’d been standing on the other side of the bed.

Erica had commandeered the pillows from the chair and the couch to make herself a nest next to the chair that Stiles had claimed. If he fell out of the chair, then he probably did land on Erica. So Derek and Boyd had carried them up here where it was comfier and less likely to cause bodily harm. Nice.

“How long were we out?” Erica mumbled.

“About four hours.” Boyd answered.

“Right.”

“Allison’s awake!” Scott shouted from downstairs.

Stiles climbed the rest of the way out of the bed and made his way down the stairs with Derek. Erica and Boyd followed a minute or so later.

“Did it work?” Jackson inquired.

“Yes.” Stiles confirmed. “Everyone can rest easy once again. Literally.”

Derek rolled his eyes.

Allison stood from her spot on the couch when Erica came downstairs. They made eye contact as Erica approached, and Stiles wondered if he was going to have to defuse another situation. Derek put a hand on his arm, silently telling him to let it play out.

“So. Are we still--”

“Shut. Up.” Erica snapped. “I know why you did it; I get wanting power and control over yourself, but that doesn’t make what you did okay. I will never forgive what you did… but neither will you. Don’t expect me to like you or trust you, but I won’t kill you.”

Allison nodded.

“Drama over?” Jackson demanded impatiently. “We still have to find whatever came through this time.”

“It’s always something.” Stiles sighed.

Chapter Text

Another three hours of searching produced no results. Stiles didn’t like it. This would be the first time something hadn’t come through with a ley line shift. It made him uncomfortable, suspicious. Stiles got desperate enough to ask the brownies if they had anything.

Calling them wasn’t difficult. Essentially as soon as he put a little effort behind conjuring them up, three appeared.

“Bruxa Stiles!”

“Hey. You guys able to help me out for a bit?” Stiles asked.

“What need?”

“We help!”

“The ley lines shifted a few hours ago. We haven’t been able to find what came through, could you guys help us look?”

The agreed and disappeared quickly. When they came back, less than ten minutes later, they were pleased as punch to report, “No monsters. Forest not invaded.”

“Thanks guys.”

After that, the Pack focused their search to the town itself. His dad was on duty, so Stiles called him up asking if he’d had any weird sightings or reports come in, but again the answer was no. The CCTV didn’t pick up anything, the stop light cams came up with nada, and Stiles was just about ready to throw in the towel.

“Alright guys. Get some sleep.” Stiles finally called the search off at three in the morning. “If we haven’t found it yet, it either isn’t there, or isn’t a major threat.”

Allison and the betas shuffled off to their respective domiciles, but Stiles held back for a bit. He wasn’t convinced they were in the clear yet, but he didn’t have any other leads. “Derek?”

“Maybe we got lucky.”

“Really? Optimism from you?”

“Just trying it out.”

Stiles sighed. “I don’t think we’re this kind of lucky. I’m not comfortable with this.”

“Me neither. But we’ll handle it.” Derek promised. “You should get some sleep.”

“Yeah. You too.”

This pattern followed until Halloween. A shift would occur, the Pack would go looking, and nothing would be found. The others were beginning to believe that maybe they just weren’t bringing anything through, but Stiles couldn’t believe that. All evidence pointed to the shifts being connected with the appearance of new monsters, and yet… nothing.

When Halloween arrived, Stiles was on edge. He couldn’t even enjoy the series of pranks that had taken place in October, he was so nervous. The Pack planned to gather for Halloween, and Stiles tried to bargain for his dad to take off work and join them, but Halloween was one of those busy nights for the sheriff’s department. Same went for Mama McCall at the hospital.

The call came in just before sundown.

Scott and Stiles’ phones rang simultaneously. When they pulled them out, Scott looked at his with a frown. “What’s it mean when the numbers are all zeros?”

Stiles’ phone read the same.

“I don’t like this.” Lydia stated warily.

“Don’t jinx it now.” Stiles teased dolefully. He looked to Scott who nodded, and they pressed answer, before putting them on speaker phone.

“If you want them back, bring the Bruxa to me.” The voice echoed between the two phones. “Deliver him and I won’t have to hurt anyone.”

The line went dead.

“How are we supposed to know where to go?” Scott asked frantically.

“He sent a text.” Stiles was ready to break something.

Scott’s phone pinged with a new text as well. He checked it, “No location or time, just… instructions.”

“Hale house at sunset.” Stiles held up his phone. “That’s… maybe twenty minutes.”

The wolves were furious, Stiles could sense it along the bond. He focused a little more to track down his link with his dad. He was alive, but unconscious, and he was already at the Hale house. They had barely enough time to get there before sunset, if they left now.

“Stiles,” Scott started as Stiles headed for the door, “he wants just me to bring you, bound and gagged.”

“Fine.” Stiles capitulated, but didn’t slow down. “We’ll do it in the car.”

The betas were behind him, no question, as he led the way downstairs. They wouldn’t be there for the switch, but they sure as hell would be in the woods nearby to make sure that nothing happened. Derek led the betas through the forest route so that Stiles and Scott would be the only two driving up, making plenty of noise in the Camaro.

Stiles drove. They made it there in seventeen minutes.

Before they headed up to the house, Scott smacked Stiles on the back of the head--as they’d discussed on the way over--and tied him up as instructed. The blow was meant to look painful and disorienting, but in truth wasn’t nearly as bad as some of the things Stiles had accidently done to himself over the years.

Bound as he was, Scott kept a firm hold of his arm as they walked up to keep him from tripping.

When they got to the house, Scott called out, “One Bruxa, as instructed.”

From out of the house poured seven misshapen humanoids. Lumps in weird places, thick frames, skin the color of red clay, no facial definition, and each one stood about seven feet tall. They were golems. Man-made constructs designed to be the perfect servant and excellent muscle for any magic user who could create them. The golems filed out of the house and lined up along the porch and steps; the seventh one led Stiles’ dad and Mama McCall on a rope that bound their hands together. Both were conscious, gagged, and bruised and the golem forced them onto their knees.

“Bring him forward.” A voice beckoned.

Scott and Stiles made their way closer until they stood at the base of the stairs. The golems blocked their path forward, so they waited. Scott was just about vibrating with his need to get to his mom and tear whoever did this a new one. Stiles shared that particular desire.

“Are we going to trade, or what?” Scott growled.

The voice cackled. “So impatient.”

“Unless you want to start monologuing, you and I have a deal to finish. Dragging this out is pointless.” Scott argued.

The golem that held the ropes, dropped the one holding Mama McCall and kicked her down the stairs. Scott shifted in a blink and roared, the sheriff pulled against his restraints trying to reach her, and Stiles began subtly untying his restraints.

“You said they wouldn’t be harmed!”

“I lied.”

The other six golems moved quickly. Three seized Scott, two took Stiles by the arms, and the last picked Mama McCall up off the ground. When everyone was held fast, their mystery kidnapper finally made his entrance. He stepped out of the house and Stiles tried really hard not to roll his eyes. The guy was maybe in his early twenties, had on way too much eyeliner, he was wearing all black, his sleeves had needless safety pins, he had on about three different necklaces, seven different rings, his hair looked like he either had way too much product in it or he hadn’t showered recently, and his combat boots probably weighed more than he did sopping wet. Stiles hadn’t seen anyone so stereotypical looking since the witch coven that had threatened the Pack over the summer.

“So this is the Bruxa.” He gestured and the two golems that had Stiles took him up the stairs until he was face to face with the kid. “You don’t look like much to me.”

Stiles gave him bitch face.

The kid smirked. “I’m Mordred, since you didn’t ask.”

Non-verbal communication was like a second language to Stiles. He gave an eye roll that conveyed the epic amounts disdain he was feeling.

“You and your wolves murdered my mentor.” ‘Mordred’--because like hell that was his real name--continued. “Not sure whether to kill you or thank you for that.”

Yep. Monologuing it was. Fantastic. Stiles really hoped the wolves got here soon, because his patience was running really thin.

“Stiles didn’t kill anyone!” Scott protested, pulling fairly uselessly against the golems restraining him.

“Wrong!” Mordred whirled around to get up in Scott’s face. “Think back, I know dogs have problems with memory, but try. Just a few short months ago, my mentor, Mab, and her sisters ventured through this town--”

“I remember.” Stiles finally spat the gag out of his mouth while Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs wasn’t looking. “They tried to kill the Pack to claim the territory for themselves. They died when their spell backlashed.”

You killed them! You disrupted their spell, but somehow you managed survive.” He squeaked. “I was left without a mentor, without anything! Until I found this.” He held up an old tome covered in glyphs and symbols. Most of it looked like it was just decoration, but a few of them seemed active from what Stiles could sense. “Her grimoire. Spells she crafted, potions and poisons she brewed, and all the information she could dig up on you. Years she and I worked together. Years! I don’t get so much as a footnote in her masterpiece, but you get twenty-four pages. What’s so special about you?”

“What, TL;DR?” Stiles taunted. “Didn’t do your homework, did you? You’d know the answer to that otherwise.”

“I read enough!” He snapped. “I know your weaknesses. I know where to apply pressure, where to hurt you.”

The golems that held him squeezed a little, making captivity actually painful, but Stiles didn’t care.

“You’re so weak! You have emotional attachments and that makes you vulnerable and stupid.” Mordred smiled. “Your poor dead mother might be out of my reach, but lucky me, you have a lovely surrogate. Melissa is so… what’s the word? Fragile. Don’t you think?”

Stiles kept his eyes focused on Mordred, he could feel the urge to maim rising in him.

“Stop. Now.” Scott warned.

“I’m not afraid of you.” Mordred tossed over his shoulder. “You’re as bad as he is. You think you’re brothers? You expect that to make you stronger? These attachments you’ve both acquired make you easy to manipulate, to control.”

“Don’t push him.” Scott cautioned again.

“You’re a mangy mutt and pathetic. I should have them squeeze you into paste!”

“Enough.” Stiles ordered.

“No!” Mordred hollered. “It’s enough when I say it’s enough! I’m in charge! I have the power! You do what I say!”

Stiles rolled his eyes again. “Your psychotic mentor didn’t mention you in her diary and now you’re throwing a temper tantrum. You’re a child. Why should I do anything you say?”

“Let me show you.” He hissed, and then grabbed Stiles by the chin, forcing him to look toward the sheriff. He whispered, “Watch carefully, because I don’t think I’ll get to demonstrate this twice.”

The golem that held the ropes binding Stiles’ dad raised one giant fist and began to bring it down, intent upon crushing the sheriff’s head. As soon as its goal was apparent, Stiles lost control. In a blink all seven golems were obliterated; there were no pieces larger than a golf ball left. Free of golems and his restraints, Stiles leveled a murderous look onto Mordred. He took one slow step forward, and the kid stumbled back to get away from him.

Scott took ahold of him so that he couldn’t run, which worked just fine for Stiles. A stationary target would be easier to hit. He advanced another step, but Scott threw his arm out, blocking his path.

“Don’t.”

“Out of the way Scott.”

“He’s defenseless.”

“He’s a murderer.”

“You’re not.”

“I killed Cora.” Stiles reminded him.

“That was self-defense. This would be cold-blooded murder. This isn’t you, Stiles.” Scott insisted.

Stiles snapped his eyes away from Mordred to glare at Scott, but the look he got back was all earnest, trusting Scott. Resolute in his stance between Stiles and the idiot kid who pushed too far, trusting that Stiles would listen, would never go too far.

He deflated a little.

“The others are almost here. Keep an eye on him while I check on Dad and your mom.” Stiles turned and walked away.

Stiles quickly undid the restraints that held the adults. Neither were seriously injured, though Mama McCall had a cut on her head that was bleeding a lot, as head wounds were wont to do.

“This needs to be cleaned.” The sheriff insisted, looking at it.

She winced as she inspected it herself. “I’ll be fine, Eryk. No permanent damage.”

“I can…” Stiles started, but he stopped himself when Mama McCall flinched. He withdrew his hand and stepped back. “Sorry. I should…”

“Stiles wait--”

Derek and the betas broke the treeline then.

“Stiles?” Derek asked, taking stock of the scene.

“Crisis averted.” Stiles supplied, stepping fully away from Mama McCall. He motioned for Erica and Isaac to take care of the parents while he made his way over to Scott and Mordred. “Now it’s just clean up.”

“No kidding. What the hell is all this?” Jackson sniffed distrustfully at a hunk of golem that decorated the porch.

“It used to be a golem.” Stiles refocused his mind to the asshole in front of him rather than think on what just happened with Mama McCall. “He’s got a book on him. Bring it to me?”

Boyd calmly walked over to Mordred and pulled the book out of his coat pocket after a quick search. He brought it wordlessly to Stiles, who thanked him with a nod. Derek hovered a little as Stiles inspected the book, and Stiles could tell he was picking up on the thrilling emotional cocktail running through Stiles’ head. Meanwhile, Danny, Boyd, Scott, Jackson, and Peter were keeping a close eye on their guest.

“You’re supposed to be dead.”

It was the first thing Mordred had said since Stiles had nixed the golems. Stiles looked up from the book to see Mordred looking closely at Jackson.

“What.”

“Whittemore. You died on the lacrosse field.”

“Who are you?” Jackson demanded.

“Good question.” Stiles agreed.

He ignored Stiles, keeping his eyes on Jackson. “You’re a liability, you know that right? If you’re found, all sorts of scrutiny--”

“Shut. Up.” Jackson growled.

Stiles looked to Scott, but Scott shook his head. He still wouldn’t let Stiles kill him, but that was… mostly fine. Stiles wasn’t feeling as murderous anymore. He did present a problem though.

“Make you a deal.” Stiles started, thumping the book soundly against Mordred’s head to get his attention. “You answer my questions, you agree to forget you ever saw Jackson, and then I let Dad take you in for kidnapping.”

He sneered. “How’s that a deal?”

“I could still kill you. Son of the sheriff, remember? I know all the best ways to get rid of a body.” Stiles whispered. It was mostly an empty threat, but if he pushed the issue… something would have to be done. When Mordred nodded just ever so slightly, Stiles continued. “Good. Question one: What’s your name? Because I cannot call you Mordred.”

“I forsook that name when I discovered my pow--”

“No.” Stiles cut him off. “Don’t care. Your name. The one that the cops will be using when they arrest you.”

A steely eyed glare was all Stiles got in return which he reciprocated with impatient bitch face until finally, “Eustice.”

Jackson snorted.

“Thank you, Eustice.” Stiles ignored Jackson. “Next question: how did you make seven golems?”

“Mab’s grimoire. It had the spell, I just needed the power.” Eustis supplied. “There’s enough of that around here, you just have to know how to tap into it.”

Stiles raised his eyebrows expectantly.

“The ley lines are acting weird.”

“We’ve noticed.” Peter rolled his eyes.

“Yeah, well, with a little prep you can harness the bleed off.” Eustice added.

“Bleed off?” Danny asked.

“The ley lines are chaotic, they’re… I don’t know, churning, or in flux, or something. You’ve noticed because creatures keep popping up randomly, right? Only it’s not random. Every now and then the ley lines will bleed off extra magic in an attempt to stabilize. These bleed offs are what bring the creatures, but if you can catch that bleed off before it materializes into something, then you can use that magic for yourself.”

Stiles absorbed that for a moment. “The reason nothing’s been coming through recently is because you’ve been using the magic to make golems.”

“Which you destroyed.” Eustice spat.

“Okay, how did dipshit know that and not us?” Jackson looked accusingly to Stiles.

“It’s in the grimoire, isn’t it.” Stiles asked. “That’s why they were willing to risk taking on a Pack of werewolves, to collect the magic from these bleed offs. Why wait months and perform needless rituals to connect yourself to the land when the ley line is sloughing off the extra magic like dead skin.”

“Exactly.” Eustice confirmed. “It was just a Pack of mutts between them and unlimited power.”

“Only it wasn’t.” Derek stated.

Eustis glared at him. “No. You had a Bruxa. Something no one has seen in centuries; no one knew what he was capable of.”

“And you thought it was a good idea to threaten him?” Boyd clearly questioned the kid’s intelligence.

“He didn’t even know what he was when Mab found him.” Eustice argued. “He was a kid, overly attached--”

“Just stop.” Stiles interrupted. “I don’t care why you thought it was a good idea; the fact is that you kidnapped and hurt people that I care about. Members of my Pack, my family. If it were up to me, you wouldn’t be going to jail.”

“Will a cell even hold him?” Danny asked quietly.

Stiles sighed and shook his head. “No. Which is why I’m going to bind him.”

Eustice blanched. “What? No! Y-you can’t.”

“I can, and I will.” Stiles countered.

“Kill me.” Eustice pleaded. “Just kill me instead, come on. I know you want to!”

“Stiles?” The sheriff wandered over.

“I have to bind his magic, cut him off from accessing it so that he doesn’t hurt someone or escape custody.” Stiles explained. “It’s not exactly a nice thing to do.”

“Will it hurt him?”

“No.”

“Yes it will!” Eustice shouted, latching on to what he saw as a lifeline. “It’ll be excruciating!”

“No. It won’t.” Stiles insisted. “Physically anyway. Being cut off can be traumatising, though. It’s often described as a fate worse than death because of the constant… block. Like seeing everything you want just on the other side of an unbreakable wall.”

“Is it avoidable?” The sheriff asked.

“If I don’t do it, he could use his magic to escape, or hurt someone, or influence someone… it’s too dangerous not to.” Stiles replied.

“I’ll tell everyone about Whittemore!” He challenged. “I’ll scream it all the time. Day and night.”

“Derek can solve that little problem.” Peter advised.

“It could kill him.” Derek objected.

“What?” Stiles inquired. “Do what?”

“An alpha can take someone’s memory, but it isn’t gentle. If I do it wrong, I could kill him or paralyze him.” Derek supplied.

“So it’s a win, win.” Isaac commented.

The sheriff frowned disapprovingly, but Stiles was the one to comment. “Don’t be so casual about it. Killing someone, even when absolutely necessary, leaves its mark.”

Scott smiled proudly at Stiles, like he’d passed some secret test. Maybe he had. Scott’s posture changed just slightly to the point that he was no longer blocking Stiles from getting to Eustice. Stiles nodded minutely to Scott in thanks. It was easy in the heat of the moment to decide that Eustice was a threat to be eliminated, just like any of the monsters that came through the ley lines, but this situation presented harsh realities. Some monsters were human, and there were laws--insufficient as they were for the situation--to be considered.

“Derek?” Stiles asked.

Derek considered for a moment, clenching and unclenching his hand repeatedly as he thought. Eventually, he nodded slightly. “Bind him first. It’ll make it easier.”

“Hold him.”

Boyd and Scott immobilized Eustice to keep him from struggling while Stiles secured the grimoire in his kit to be examined later. He then channeled his magic as he conjured up the glyph he’d need from his memory. Stiles resolutely ignored the tears and objections that poured out of Eustice and calmly traced the glyph onto his forehead. When it was done, the kid went eerily quiet.

“Is he supposed to do that?” Isaac asked.

“The sudden absence of magic can shock the system.” Stiles explained calmly. “He’ll be back to ranting and raving when his system adjusts.” Stiles stepped away, giving into the urge to wipe his hand of both Eustice and the binding spell. “Do it now, while he’s not struggling.”

Derek stepped up behind Eustice and sunk his claws into his neck. Stiles directed the betas to go. Their work was done. Derek would be more than sufficient to bring Eustice to the sheriff station if his struggling renewed, and Scott was instructed to take his mom home and look after her until the sheriff department needed her for an official statement.

When Derek finished, the different groups had gone their separate ways, and the sheriff took Eustice into the station while Derek and Stiles shadowed him to make sure nothing went wrong.

The ride was quiet. Stiles was on edge from the events of the night and had them playing on repeat in his mind. What had happened, what could have happened, what shouldn’t have happened… The fallout from this little encounter was hanging above him, waiting for the best moment to come crashing down. Derek probably sensed Stiles’ unease, and he kept glancing to Stiles as the silence stretched on.

“What?” Stiles finally asked quietly as they watched the sheriff drag Eustice out of the back of the squad car and into the station.

“You’re only this quiet when something’s bothering you.” Derek offered.

“I just ripped some kid’s access to magic away from him. Shouldn’t I be bothered?” Stiles sighed.

Derek grunted a little. “If that were really the problem… but it’s not.”

He shook his head. “I wanted to do a lot worse.”

“But you didn’t.”

“But I have before.”

Derek looked at him again, askance, before understanding. “You mean Cora.”

“Cora. The witches.” Stiles agreed. “If Scott hadn’t been there, I’d’ve killed that little asshole too.”

“Maybe not.” Derek protested.

Stiles glared at him. “I wanted to. I was about to, but Scott--”

“Scott didn’t stop you from destroying the golems.” Derek interrupted. “I saw what happened when I took Eustice’s memories of Jackson. You pulled from your Bruxa abilities to make them into confetti in an instant.”

“So?”

“You said that when you lose control and use your magic in the heat of the moment, it does whatever you want it to, right?”

“Right.”

“So. Why didn’t you kill him then?” Derek asked. When Stiles didn’t answer, he continued. “Maybe part of you wanted to kill him, but obviously not all of you. Otherwise, he’d have been torn to shreds just like his constructs, and there would have been nothing Scott or anyone else could have done about it.”

Stiles avoided Derek’s intent gaze as he contemplated the validity of his statement. He doubted it was entirely that simple, but it was as good a lifeline as any for the moment. There were dangers to magic; he knew that going in. There were more dangers to being a Bruxa, which he was relearning with every accidental slip. Corruption was a very real possibility for him, but one he very much wanted to avoid.

Balance, he reminded himself.

He touched the insular triskele tattoo on his chest. Id, Ego, and Superego working toward balance.

“I don’t know if that’s true. I want it to be, it would be easy to say that’s the way it went down and ignore everything else, but that’s not… I can’t trust that. I need better control of this magic.”

“You’ve been working on it.” Derek reminded him.

“But I’m not improving.” Stiles shook his head. “I can’t… focus.”

“You focus when casting other spells.”

“The components and wards and such make it easy. I use them to help focus, that’s their purpose, but manipulating the magic--my magic--without anything is… difficult. My mind wanders, even the littlest bit, and the spell fails.”

Derek frowned. “I’ve seen you so focused on research that you ignore everything else. Why is this different?”

“Research is different. I have a multitude of thoughts all running at the same time. The goal is the same, but the way I get there is with many trains of thought all working on separate problems. Won’t work the same with magic.”

“But you have used it.”

“In extreme circumstances when literally the only thing on my mind is to save someone in the Pack from immediate danger.” Stiles sighed. “I can’t force that level of focus; not with the ADHD.”

It was Derek’s turn to sigh. “We’ll keep working on it.”

“Yeah.” Stiles said, defeated.

Enough time passed without a distress call from the sheriff that Derek and Stiles agreed it was safe to head back to the loft to meet up with the others. When they arrived, an argument was already in full swing between Jackson and Lydia.

“You can’t just give up!” She yelled.

“If you have an idea, Lydia, tell me now, because I’m not seeing a solution.” Jackson snapped back.

“What’s going on?” Stiles broke in.

Everyone was seated in the living room except Lydia and Jackson, who were circling each other like animals about to strike. All eyes were on the couple until Derek and Stiles entered. The mood seemed to be one of extreme tension, even among the wolves who weren’t in the argument.

“Jackson wants to leave.” Lydia accused angrily.

“What?” Derek objected.

“I don’t… I don’t want to leave!” Jackson countered. “But I can’t stay. I’m a danger to all of you.”

“This is about Eustice.” Stiles guessed. “What he said about you being a liability.”

“He was right.” Jackson stated stubbornly. “I’m supposed to be dead; I made the front page in my tragic and mysterious accident on the lacrosse field during the championship game. Not a single person in town wouldn’t recognize my face.”

“And they call me narcissistic.” Peter muttered.

“Shut up.” Derek glared at Peter before turning back to Jackson. “We’ve been careful, no one has seen you.”

“And I’m supposed to live like that the rest of my life?” Jackson demanded. “Just slink around town, stick to the shadows? Never interact with anyone who isn’t Pack? Cross my fingers that nothing happens to any of you in a public place? What kind of life is that?”

“Just because that’s how it is now, doesn’t mean that’s how it has to be forever.” Lydia rebutled.

Jackson looked at her like she was a deluded child. “Because you have a plan, right? Long-term: everyone has a place, and a place for everyone. Except me. How do I fit into your plan, Lydia? Am I a teacher? Lawyer? Doctor? Shop owner? Tell me what you envision for me, because I’m not seeing it!”

“It’s a work in progress.” She hedged.

“You don’t have anything.” He countered. “Because there’s no way I can come back to this shitty little town without broadcasting the supernatural world to everyone!”

“Jackson.” Stiles warned. “Tone down the raging douchebag; she’s trying to help.”

“I know.” He sighed. “She can’t, though. No one can. That’s why I have to leave.”

“You’re not leaving.” Erica declared. “You’re running.”

Derek looked to her briefly and nodded ever so slightly. “And once you start running, you’ll never stop.”

“Believe me: you’re better off here.” Boyd added.

“He’s right.” Stiles nodded. “Omegas don’t last long by themselves, but if you stay here, we’ll do everything we can to help. The truth of it is, you’re safer with us.”

“You’re safer if I go.” Jackson protested, looking beseechingly to Lydia.

“Screw that.” She decided primly. “You’re one of the best fighters this Pack has; Beacon Hills is safer with you here. And so am I.”

Jackson hung his head, resting it gently on her shoulder. “Fine. For now. When Stilinski gets this magic shit sorted--”

“We’ll revisit the conversation then, but for now, I don’t want to hear you even thinking of leaving.” Lydia squeezed the back of his neck.

Whatever Jackson may have had to say on the matter was derailed with a knock at the door. Stiles looked to Derek to see if he recognized their visitor or if it was truly desperate trick-or-treaters.

“It’s the elves.” Derek offered quietly, moving toward the door.

He pulled the door open, and Leeloo, Hatholdes, and Avorndir entered quickly. Once again, they were wearing clothes that looked more at home at a Ren Fair than in Beacon Hills, but Stiles got the sense that they weren’t planning on staying long.

“Hey guys---“

“You’ve been granted an audience.” Hatholdes steamrolled past Stiles’ surprised greetings. “The Elders have sent us to escort you to the summit; we should not delay.”

“Summit?” Lydia asked.

Leeloo shot Hatholdes a look, stopping the other elf from snapping a hasty response. “After much consideration and debate, the Elders have finally agreed to try meeting with the other inhabitants of the Beacon Forest in an attempt to facilitate a solution for the ley line problem.”

“Finally!” Stiles cheered.

Leeloo smiled a little. “Derek has been invited as a representative for the Pack, and Stiles, you’ve been invited because you’re Bruxa.”

“Will others be there?” Lydia asked. “The dryads, satyrs, and such?”

“Yes. Their representatives are already arriving. We’ve been sent as escorts because you cannot make the journey on your own.” Avorndir explained.

“What about the humans population?” Stiles inquired. “Derek for the Pack, me because I’m me, but what about the non-supernatural residents?”

“You have someone in mind?” Hatholdes sighed.

“The sheriff.” Derek answered. “He’s human, in the know, and has influence within the community.”

“Acceptable.” Avorndir agreed after a moment’s thought.

Stiles gestured to Erica. “Go with Leeloo to pick up my dad from the station. I’ll send him a text to let him know you’re coming.” When she nodded, her and Leeloo left taking the spare keys to the Camaro with them.

“The elders won’t have a problem with a plain ol’ human tagging along?” Isaac asked skeptically.

“Technically speaking, this was Stiles idea.” Avorndir explained. “The Elders are allowing you to invite those who you deem necessary to this summit, though they may vocalize their dislike, they aren’t truly in a position to refuse anyone with decent standing.”

Stiles nodded, thinking. “There’s someone else, then.”

“Who?”

“The Argents.” Stiles grimaced even as he suggested it.

“The hunting family?” Hatholdes frowned. “You’d trust them at this summit?”

“No.” Derek disapproved.

Stiles sighed. “I don’t particularly like it, but they could have input, and even if they don’t, they should still be kept apprised. We kept them out of it all summer, but we could use the help, especially if things get worse.”

“Fine.” Hatholdes acquiesced.

“Scott, take Hatholdes to pick up Allison and her father. Both of them.” Stiles instructed. “We’ll meet you at the summit.”

“Very well.” Hatholdes left with Scott.

Once they were gone, Stiles and Derek told the others to stay at the loft. They would fill them in on what happened at the summit, but the Pack was too many to bring all of them. Stiles sent off the text to his dad, filling him in, before nodding that he was ready. That done, Avorndir opened a way to the elven lands and guided Stiles and Derek through.

It looked like the forest on the Preserve, but he could sense the magic flowing through the land and trees. They definitely weren’t in Kansas anymore. Stiles was drawn from his musings of the new surroundings when Derek’s hand found its way to his shoulder. He gave it a firm squeeze for reassurance, and then followed Avorndir. Stiles fell into step with him easily and did his best to calm his breathing. He felt monumentally unprepared for this.

As they moved through the forest, the trees grew thicker, older… He began to notice elves in the trees--guards likely--watching them arrive. They were armed and armored, but none made a move toward them.

“Be honest Avorndir; am I in danger here?” Stiles whispered.

Their guide looked over his shoulder to Stiles. “You’ve been extended our hospitality. No one will touch you.”

“They’ll regret it if they try.” Derek grumbled.

“They will,” Avorndir agreed, “but not because of anything you’ll do. No offense. The Elders take things like hospitality very seriously. They would strike the offender down faster than you can shift; they wouldn’t have a choice. So long as Stiles obeys the rules, he’s safe.”

“Rules?”

“Don’t attack anyone.” Avorndir clarified.

Stiles nodded. “Got it.”

When they reached the city proper, Stiles started seeing elves everywhere. Civilians from the look of it too, though there were a few guards. They all stared at him as he passed; he even noticed heads poking out from behind windows to get a look.

“That’s actually a little creepy.” He murmured.

“Most of them have never seen a human in person. None have seen a Bruxa.” Avorndir smirked. “You’re a bit of an oddity.”

“Nothing new there.” Derek teased.

Stiles glared. “Rude.”

They neared the large central amphitheatre where Stiles assumed the Summit would take place. When they crossed over wards etched into the wood, Stiles took a little time to examine them. Truth and protection were easily recognizable, but there were a few that he wasn’t sure he knew.

“Magic seems common here.” Derek commented.

It was true. Stiles had caught more than a few elves warding themselves for protection as they’d passed by, and he felt it built into structures and even a few elves.

“We’re closer to the ley lines here. Elves are naturally more attuned to magic as well. Most of the population has some magical ability.” Avorndir explained.

“How can you be closer to the ley lines? I thought Beacon Hills was right on top of it.” Derek frowned.

“It is.” Stiles agreed. “But we’re essentially on another plane. It’s similar because it’s so close to our own, but there are differences.”

Avorndir nodded. “Correct. The biggest difference is our prevalence of magic. It’s a useful tool, but it has its downsides as well. We feel the shifts in the ley lines more acutely, unfortunately because we’re closer. If there is a shift during the Summit, i predict even you, Derek, will be able to feel it.”

“Don’t jinx it.” Stiles muttered. That’s all he needed. A shift here might actually make him throw up if it was worse than it was at home.

They finished their descent into the amphitheatre and Stiles took note of who was here. He could see representatives from the brownies, satyrs, and dryads standing off to his right. On his left were a few faeries--more than one of which looked dangerously powerful--and a couple races he hadn’t met. The centaurs gave him polite nods which he returned, but the unicorns--”Derek, unicorns!”--were a little harder to read.

Leeloo, his dad, Hatholdes, and the Argents were already waiting.

“This is crazy, even for you Stiles.” His dad opened with, pulling him in for a hug. He was still in uniform, which would probably work in their favor.

“Can’t have life getting too dull, can I?”

Chris looked outwardly calm, but Stiles could see the way his eyes tracked everything. He was nervous. Rightly so. “Stiles,” he said, “care to explain how you managed this?”

“Persistence?” Stiles tried.

“Good connections.” Leeloo added with a smile.

“I filled him in as best I could.” Allison shrugged. “It’s a lot though.”

Stiles agreed. “Tell me about it.”

“The Elders are arriving.” Hatholdes stated.

Leeloo nodded and quickly turned to the group. “Remember, speak clearly and truthfully. If you have something to add, be polite, do not speak over someone.”

“We’ll be fine.” Stiles promised.

Avorndir and Hatholdes moved to the center of the floor while Leeloo joined Stiles and the others in their section. The two elves stood at attention, and then--in a blink--the Elders arrived. Stiles could tell they were much older than any of the elves he’d seen thus far, but not because they had long beards or grey hair--they all looked to be in their early forties tops--but because they radiated power and grace. It was a little imposing.

“I, Arahaelon ap Arauthion, First Consul of the Elders, do hereby call to order this Summit of the Beacon Forest. We welcome you to our fair city, and extend our hospitality to all of you ambassadors here today. This Summit was requested by the Bruxa, and after much deliberation, the Council of Elders has permitted you all to come to our city to listen to his words.” The Consul orated. Stiles got the sense he would rather not be meeting with anyone, but that could have just been the heaping amounts of disdain in his tone.

“Called to speak is Stiles ap Eryk, Bruxa and member of the Hale Pack.” Hatholdes announced.

Stiles took his cue to step forward a little. He bowed respectfully to the Elders--some even returned the gesture--before he addressed the Summit. “With respect to our hosts, my words aren’t the only ones that matter. For the past few months I’ve worked closely with the Hale Pack and the Beacon County Sheriff in order to keep the population of Beacon Hills safe from the magical bleed offs that result from the ley lines in flux, but we’re just fighting a symptom. Recently, thanks to the Dryad Assembly, we learned what caused the destabilization in the first place, but we’re no closer to solving the real problem. I requested a Summit to open the lines of communication, to help solve the problem with the ley lines before the damage is irreversible. We all come from different places, have different knowledge, experiences, different ways of seeing the world. If we can share those things, work together, I think we can repair the damage done before it’s too late.”

His words settled over the assembled for a few moments before anyone spoke. Stiles had rather hoped for at least a little input, maybe a question, something to open the floor, but no one seemed eager to speak.

It was one of the other Elders who broke the silence; she turned her intense eyes upon Stiles and asked, “You are not familiar with your history in regard to the races gathered before you, are you?”

“I know enough. My ancestors were brutal, powerful, dominating, and wrong. I am not here to command fealty, or bind you in chains of servitude. Quite frankly, the idea makes me a little… nauseous.” Stiles winced. “I’m here to ask for help. You’re each free to do as much or as little as you choose.”

The Elder lifted an amused eyebrow. “I was not questioning your motivation, Bruxa. The brownies, satyrs, even the Dryads have all spoken of your unique attitude toward other species. Believe me when I tell you, you would not be here if they had not. I ask because you seem to be expecting a meeting of minds that will miraculously and instantly tell you the solution to the problem, but no one here will be the first to tell you their secrets Bruxa. There is too little trust.”

“Then let us be the first.” Derek offered.

“Derek ap Talia, Alpha of the Hale Pack.” Avorndir announced quickly to the Summit.

“My family protected the forest for generations; with that protection came stability and consistency for the ley lines. When the majority of my family was murdered, that connection to the ley lines was severed.” Derek explained. Stiles was proud of him for not calling the Argents out for their role in the fire. “Without it, the ley lines had years to get worse and worse. Within the last year, the mayhem of a rogue Alpha and the events of the Alpha Pack have sped up the destabilization. We have tried to reestablish the lost connection, but it’s not enough. The magic is too chaotic to be calmed by a stable Pack.”

“We also know that the visitors brought by the ley lines are the side effect of the ley lines bleeding off magic in a futile attempt to stabilize. You may feel these shifts more strongly here, but we’re dealing with these side effects which are getting worse and more frequent.” Stiles added. “I’ve also been contacted by Coyote. He believes that something worse, a lot worse, than monsters and gods will come here if we don’t fix the problem, and he said to ask Arahaelon what is coming. That he might be old enough to remember.”

Silence echoed over the amphitheatre as all eyes turned to the Elders. Even the other Elders seemed to be looking to Arahaelon for his response.

The Elder in question glared dangerously at Stiles. “No one alive now was alive during the last ley line upheaval.”

“No, but you’re only one generation removed, Arahaelon.” One of the other Elders, Deachir ferch Thanan, spoke up. “Your father was on the Council of Elders at the time.”

“That does not mean he shared information with me.” The Elder objected.

Stiles sighed, ready to speak his mind about stubborn old fools, when someone beat him to the punch.

“Speaking as a person charged with the protection of thousands of lives, if I encountered something as dangerous as what Coyote alluded to, I’d make damn certain that it couldn’t threaten anyone ever again.” The sheriff looked entirely unimpressed with the Elder glaring him down. “So, if you’re trying to tell me that there are absolutely no records, no rumors, no nothing regarding what went down back then? I’m going to have to call you a liar.”

Stiles, along with the rest of the crowd, looked shocked at the sheriff’s words. Stiles felt his face crack into a grin and he resisted valiantly putting his fist up for a bump. Instead he turned to Arahaelon and raised his eyebrow expectantly.

The Elder was silent for a long while. Slowly, as everyone’s eyes eventually made their way back over to him, he began to shift minutely under their collective gaze.

Finally, “There were… rumors.”

Callon glared. “You’ve withheld information from this Council--”

“They were rumors! Exaggerated accounts that could not be true!” Arahaelon insisted.

“There is usually a grain of truth in a rumor.” One of the centaurs offered. Hatholdes announced his name, but it wasn’t in a language Stiles understood.

One of the faeries, Veratis according to Avorndir, nodded. “It is something to work from at least.”

“Give me one good reason why I should trust this Bruxa! Why should any of us?” Arahaelon demanded. “His kin enslaved us. No one has seen a Bruxa in centuries, his power could outstrip our own a dozen times over! We’d be utterly defenseless against him. How could we entrust our lives, or freedom, to something like that?”

Stiles and Derek both began to step forward to defend Stiles’ intentions, but Leeloo held them back with a firm hand gripping their shirts. “Let the others speak.” She whispered.

“Bruxa is good!” The largest brownie ambassador squeaked angrily.

The sound of wind and snapping twigs that Stiles recognized as the Dryad’s language surged forward as well, though Stiles couldn’t understand a word of it. The other races gathered seemed to though, as many of them began to nod or murmur in response.

“The Lady Rowanna speaks true.” Veratis stated calmly. “The Bruxa and his wolves have come to the defense of the forest on numerous occasions. More often than you, Councilors.”

“A selfish act.” Arahaelon insisted.

“Selfish reasons or no, he has done more than you have to protect the forest.” Koz, the satyr that Stiles recognized, defended.

The same centaur that spoke before added, “He called this Summit, has spilt blood to keep the forest safe, has shared important information. It sounds more and more, to me, that the only one unworthy of our trust… is you.”

“You have kept this Council in debate over this matter for far too long, Arahaelon. It has led to an unacceptable level of inaction,” Callon decreed. “Speak now, since you seem to enjoy it so. What is threatening our forest?”

Stubbornness was clearly not only a human trait. Arahaelon remained tight-lipped on the matter, tensions of the crowd were increasing by the second, and Stiles wasn’t sure the rules of hospitality would do much to protect them if something didn’t give. Soon.

When it hit, Stiles was thoroughly unprepared.

He’d been so distracted by the debate that the thought had slipped completely out of his mind that the shifts in the ley line were stronger here and just what that might entail. He should have been bracing himself from the moment he’d arrived. Instead, when the shift occurred, Stiles’ axis tilted dramatically to the left, he fought valiantly to keep his stomach internal, and then blacked out.

When he woke, the first thing he saw was his father’s face looking rather concernedly down at him. His features relaxed a little as Stiles regained consciousness.

“Did I faint? That’s embarrassing.” Stiles muttered.

His dad chuckled a little and nodded.

Stiles noticed then that there was no noise coming from the rest of the amphitheatre. Curious, he looked around as his father helped him stand. Everyone--except Derek and Leeloo--was looking at him with faces varying on shock, fear, and disbelief. Derek moved closer toward him, but his attention--and defensive posture--was focused on the Elders, while Leeloo just looked more amused than anything.

“Leeloo…” Stiles muttered, looking nervously at the gathered crowd. “Care to explain why people are looking at me like I’ve grown an extra head?”

“Think of it this way: no one here felt anything stronger than light dizziness.” She explained.

Stiles sighed. The shifts were felt by anyone who possessed magic or--if the shift was strong enough--were supernatural in nature like werewolves. The more magic, the more acutely the shift was felt. Stiles had essentially broadcast to the entire room that he outstripped them in power by several magnitudes.

“Damn.”

“I was wrong.” Arahaelon smirked. “It seems the Bruxa is closer to one hundred times more powerful rather than simply a dozen. Do you see my concern now?”

“Daumelladnel,” Arvellon, Leeloo’s father, called, “step away--”

“No.” She interrupted. “Stiles is my friend and no danger to anyone here.”

“He is a Bruxa!” Arahaelon snapped. “His very existence is a danger to everyone!”

“Only if I choose to be.” Stiles stepped out in front of Leeloo and the others. “Councilors, ambassadors, I get why you’re scared. Bruxa are the monsters your mothers warned you about, and if I were in your place, I would be cautious and suspicious too. But while you’re focused on how strongly I felt that shift, and all that implies, I’m focused on what the hell it brought to Beacon Hills.”

Laughter was not the response Stiles had been expecting. A quick look around showed that no one else seemed amused, so Stiles was rapidly becoming concerned. Before the laughter subsided, a very large wolf appeared in the middle of the floor. He stood six feet tall at the shoulder, had blue-grey fur, ice-blue eyes, and quite a lot of very sharp-looking teeth.

When the wolf stopped laughing, he looked to Stiles and asked, “Why would I go to that boring little town, when all the magic seems to be right here?”

“You.” Arahaelon spat.

“Seems like you finally found something you like less than me, Arahaelon.” The wolf graced the Elder with a sidelong look over his shoulder before refocussing back on Stiles. “I think I’m jealous.”

Derek was wolfed out and clearly struggling. Stiles opened the link between them a little wider and realized that Derek wasn’t fully in control of his shift, like something was forcing it out of him. Stiles gripped his arm, concerned. “Derek…”

“Fear not, Erykson. He is doing remarkably well, considering.” The wolf took a few stalking steps forward. Stiles could hear the sound of chains when he moved, but none were visible.

Stiles also noticed that, while the others gathered were still moving and probably talking, he couldn’t hear them. He couldn’t hear anything other than the wolf and Derek’s abortive growling. “What did you do?”

He gave Stiles a toothy smile. “Their voices annoy me so. Besides, a civil conversation is so much more pleasant than shouting. Don’t you agree?”

“Fine. What about Derek?”

“His wolf is responding to meeting the father of his kind.” The wolf dismissed.

“I knew it.” Stiles shook his head. “You’re Fenrir. Son of Loki, Father of werewolves, chained to Yggdrasil until Ragnarok--It’s not… Ragnarok… right?”

Fenrir barked a laugh. “Regretfully, no. The magical flux has caught my attention. I used the extra magic to project myself here. The rest of me is still bound” The great wolf stepped closer, putting his nose level with Stiles’. “Father said you were smart… for a human, so tell me Stiles Erykson: do you know what slumbers beneath your city?”

“Uh…” Stiles did his best to not focus on the fact that Loki--god of mischief--seemed to know of him, and get to the point of the conversation. “If I say no, will you tell me?”

Another laugh. Suddenly, the noise level rose as the crowd became unmuted. Fenrir barked loudly once, and everyone went silent to listen. “Your attempts to misdirect the conversation, while somewhat amusing, end here. There are others here that hold more favor than you do, and I will not see them deceived by the likes of you, so tell them Arahaelon. What lurks beneath their feet?”

“You cannot give me orders--”

“I am not bound by rules of hospitality, Arahaelon. Do as I say, or I will kill you.”

Hatholdes tensed, but Stiles shook his head. He needed this information, but if it came to it, he would stop Fenrir… maybe… he’d try anyway. She trusted him and stayed put.

When it looked like no one would come to his aid on the matter, Arahaelon leveled a threatening glare at Stiles and said between gritted teeth. “It’s a dragon.”

A flurry of questions from all corners of the room swarmed after that declaration. It seemed no one had believed dragons still lived, that they’d all died millennia ago. In the excitement, Stiles was the only one to notice when Fenrir left--those eyes blue eyes winked at him before he disappeared.

Finally, when the voices had died down a little, Callon cornered Arahaelon. “Is the dragon a threat? Will he wake?”

“I do not know!” Arahaelon shouted. “They were rumors! The beast threatened to wake centuries ago, but the Elders with their combined magic couldn’t slay him, so they renewed the eternal slumber. That’s all I heard.”

There was a pretty intense staring match going on with the Elders, but Stiles’ brain was working in overdrive. If the weirdness that was happening now was like the last time, then that meant the dragon was reawakening. If it did… if it was truly below the city, then the devastation would be unimaginable. They had to fix the ley lines, and if that meant slaying the dragon or just putting him back to sleep, then they needed to act quickly.

“Do you know how they did it?” Stiles asked.

Arahaelon looked like he wasn’t going to respond, but Callon glared him into submission. “A ritual. I do not know its details.”

“We will come up with a one of our own then.” Arvellon stated. “It will take time…”

“The ley lines will reach critical mass in two months.” Stiles reminded him. “Don’t take too long.”

Arvellon nodded. “We will likely need your assistance in completing the ritual, Bruxa.”

“I’ll help however I can.” Stiles agreed. He turned to the others gathered. “That goes for the rest of you as well. We all live here, we’re all in favor of continuing to live. I suggest we reach out to each other more. Help each other.”

The creatures already familiar with Stiles smiled and bowed respectfully. The ones who weren’t as familiar watched as the others agreed so readily, and slowly began to nod themselves. The unicorns were first, then the centaurs, the faeries were last.

All the ambassadors departed after that. When the amphitheatre was empty save for Stiles’ group and the elves, he turned to the Elders. “Thank you for allowing us to meet. I look forward to further cooperation.”

“Bruxa,” Rínor, the fifth Elder, spoke for the first time, “it is not easy for the very old to listen to wisdom from the very young. We tend to believe we know more and do not need the advice repeatedly given. This sense of superiority is wrong… As was our opinion of you.”

Stiles bowed. “Thank you.”

“In truth, we should be thanking you, but the platitude is appreciated.” She smiled. “Go now. We will be in contact soon.”

Avorndir, Hatholdes, and Leeloo escorted them all from the city. Before opening a way back to Beacon Hills, Leeloo gave both Stiles and Derek a hug. “You are fantastic, Stiles. No one thought it would go that well.”

“My father was convinced you’d lose your mind and try to kill us all, but he’s never been very trusting.” Hatholdes allowed.

“No joke. Dude needs to ease up a little on the crazy.” Stiles winced.

“Thankfully, the others are all on your side. There is nothing he can do.” Avorndir added.

Stiles sighed. “Hopefully. Crazy always seems to find a way though.”

They stepped through the way and made their way back to their respective houses. Stiles and Derek took an hour to fill the Pack in on everything that had happened, and then fell into a much deserved sleep.

Chapter Text

The first thing Stiles did upon waking up the next day was make his way over to Scott’s. He fiddled with the key he’d had made, but ultimately decided against it. He shoved his keys into his pocket and knocked.

Melissa answered the door. “Stiles, Scott’s at work--”

“I know.” He rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “I actually wanted to talk to you, if that was… okay?”

“This is about yesterday.” She let him in.

“I wanted to apologize--”

“No.” She cut him off.

“No?”

“No. You have nothing to apologize for, Stiles.” She pulled him in for a hug. “I was… shaken yesterday. That kid, he used magic to take me; I just… reacted. I should have handled it better; you’d think I’d be more used to all this…”

“It’s cool.” Stiles exhaled relieved. He’d been so worried that she’d be distant because of the show of magic and the kidnapping. She was really a lot like a second mother to him, and he never wanted her to fear him or dislike him for any reason. “I should have asked first.”

“You just wanted to help.” She let him go and looked at him proudly. “You’re a good kid.”

“Thanks.” Stiles smiled shyly.

She hugged him again before sending him on his way. She had to get to the hospital, and he had things to do.

Now that a solution to the ley line problem was forthcoming, Stiles was able to let go of a little stress. Not a whole lot, because Hello, DRAGON! But some. The waiting was… manageable.

For the first few days.

All it took was a particularly strong shift in the ley lines to send Stiles back into panic mode. It happened while they were at school, in Econ. Stiles dropped out of his desk, hitting his head on the tile.

“Ow.”

“Stilinski!” Coach shouted. “While I appreciate your enthusiasm, we don’t need an interpretive dance of the stock market crash.”

Titters of amusement from the rest of the class harmonized nicely with the ringing in his ears. “Permission to go to the nurse?” Stiles croaked.

Coach’s face was there in his field of vision suddenly. He leaned down close as if to check Stiles over, and whispered, “Is this a thing thing, or just… one of your things?”

“Definitely that first one.”

Coach nodded. “McCall! Take Stilinski to the nurse.”

“Yes, Coach.” Scott quickly helped Stiles to his feet and ushered him out the door. When they were safely in the hallway, he whispered, “Dude. Even I felt that one, what the hell?”

“They’re getting stronger. We knew they would.” Stiles grumbled. “Come on. We gotta hurry before whatever it is invades the school.”

“You think it’s close?” Scott asked.

“Something Fenrir said, made me think.” Stiles nodded. “We’ve been lucky so far that nothing’s appeared in town or school, but what if that’s only because I’ve never been in town or at school when a shift happened?”

“Like the excess magic is drawn to you.” Scott followed. “You think whatever came through will be near you.”

“Not directly on top of me--yet--but yeah. In general.”

Scott nodded and hurried them out of the school. “We’re lucky school’s a little away from town.”

“Yep.” Stiles massaged the knot on his head to ease the remaining ache before making his way to the tree line. “Hopefully that luck continues and whatever it is will be in the forest.”

Scott was suddenly sniffing the air, frowning. “Do you smell that?”

“No, Scotty, I don’t have a keen werewolf senses.” Stiles glared.

“Smells like… smoke. And burning.” Scott started scanning the forest. “This way.”

Stiles followed Scott into the forest at a run. It didn’t take long for Stiles to start smelling it too. Definitely smoke. If it was related to the supernatural, they needed to handle it before the smoke reached the school.

“There’s something else, too. Something different, stronger…” Scott frowned in concentration.

“Brimstone.” Jackson supplied as he ran up to them. “Felt the shift, thought you could use the help.”

“You’re sure it’s brimstone?” Stiles asked.

“Went to Hawaii once, saw the volcanoes. It’s not a smell easily forgotten.” Jackson told him.

Soon enough, they encountered the first burning tree. Around it was scorched earth in a path leading west. Stiles took a match from his magic kit, lit it, channeled his magic, and then blew it out. The tree in front of them went out with the match.

“How many of those do you have?” Scott asked.

“Probably not enough.” Stiles admitted. “Let’s hurry.”

They followed the burned trail as fast as they could, but Stiles took the time to put out any trees he saw that were on fire. Sooner than expected, Stiles was stopped short by Jackson and Scott grabbing him.

“Up ahead.” Scott whispered. “Ugh, what is that?”

“Salamander.” Stiles informed him. The clues were obvious enough, but once he laid eyes on it through the trees he was absolutely certain. A large lizard, swathed head to tail in fire, meandered its way through the forest at a leisurely pace. Stiles had no idea what it might be looking for, but if it didn’t find it soon, it was going to start a major forest fire.

“What do we do?” Scott asked.

“We kill it.” Jackson stated.

Scott glared. “It hasn’t done anything.”

“It’s burning down the forest.” Jackson protested.

“Not on purpose.”

“Guys.” Stiles silenced them. “It’s not… inherently evil. Just really doesn’t belong here. You attack it, it’ll defend itself, but we might be able to make it leave.”

“Suggestions?” Jackson rolled his eyes.

Stiles nodded, and moved to get ahead of the creature. When he was standing in front of it--a safe distance away--he pulled out his remaining matches and repeated the process of extinguishing the burning trees. He had enough for all of the trees currently ablaze, and one left over for the grass. When they were all out, the salamander halted. It glanced around slowly, observing the suddenly cold forest, before settling its gaze on Stiles.

“Uh… okay. I don’t know if anyone is listening, but we could use a little help getting our friend here home.” Stiles declared nervously. His plan kinda hinged on someone who was close enough and who cared enough to help him out.

There was a slight displacement of air, and suddenly Stiles found himself standing next to the faerie Veratis. “Greetings Bruxa.”

“Wow, that actually worked.” Stiles blinked, surprised.

She laughed quietly. “Why would I decline a request for help from the Bruxa?”

And Stiles started to think that maybe this hadn’t been the best of ideas.

“Stiles…” Scott eased his way up to Stiles’ side. The faerie smiled sweetly, but Scott seemed unfazed; he gave the faerie a distinctly suspicious once-over before turning back to Stiles questioningly.

Stiles tried his best to keep one eye on the salamander, which—thankfully—still seemed content to wonder what happened to the fire, and the other on the faerie. His hesitation apparently made its way to his face because the faerie’s smile turned into a sly smirk.

“What’s this? So much talk of trust and cooperation; did you mean any of it?” She was clearly enjoying his struggle.

“I meant all of it.”

“Then why the hesitation?” She asked.

Stiles swallowed nervously. “I’ve had bad luck with faeries, and I know how dangerous asking for help from the fae can be.”

“Hmm… human hypocrisy at its finest.” She lilted. “You lack trust in my kind for the very same reasons everyone else in this forest distrusts you. What kind of message would that send to your tentative allies?”

“That he’s smart.” Jackson snapped. “Deals with faeries are tipped in favor of the house; everyone knows that. His power is only trustworthy when he’s the one in control of it, so you’ll have to excuse him if he’s hesitant to deal.”

Veratis looked over Jackson carefully as he ranted at her. “He requested help. He has only himself to blame if no one else answered.”

“He said we, not I.” Scott challenged. “We requested help.”

“Exactly.” Jackson stepped a little in front of Stiles to block him from few of the faerie. “So deal with me. I need your help to send this salamander back to where it belongs.”

Instead of being angry like Stiles predicted, Veratis smiled brightly and clapped her hands. “Wonderful. Wording is everything when dealing with the fae; be cautious how you phrase things. Any chance a faerie has to turn the deal in her favor she will take. Your Pack is remarkably loyal, Bruxa.”

“It goes both ways.” Stiles patted both wolves on the shoulder and stepped between them. “What do you propose?”

“I will take the intruder. He will be unharmed; I have been looking for a new addition to my garden, and he is a lovely specimen. In return, I ask for knowledge.” She offered.

“What do you want to know?” Stiles asked.

“You possess tattoos containing the magical ink of the elves. I can sense them on you. I wish to see them.” Veratis stated simply.

“Just see. No touching or magical probing?” Stiles clarified.

She nodded.

“Agreed.” Stiles handed his shirts to Scott, wiggled his pants a little lower, and then channeled his magic.

Veratis leaned in close, but like she’d promised, she didn’t touch him. When she noticed that the tattoos wrapped around to his back as well, she circled him slowly.

“Extraordinary.” She breathed. “Have you shown these to any of the elves?”

Stiles considered not answering out of plain contrariness, but eventually shook his head. “Just the artist.”

“Daumellednel. I recognize her hand.” Veratis looked closely at the triskele that resembled Derek’s. “And you added blood. Loyal, generous, and trusting this Pack of yours.”

“Stiles would never harm us.” Scott growled.

She gave him an almost pitying glance before turning back to Stiles. “Do you wish to know a secret?”

“Depends on the price.” Stiles answered quickly.

She smiled. “Not everything is a trick, child. No price.”

He agreed.

“There is a cost to these tattoos. Do you know it?”

“When I tap their reserve, the power has to regenerate. I’ll be weak depending on how much of it I use.” Stiles replied.

“By consuming the power of the host, the magic in the ink will regenerate, but there are dangers to this trade. Tap too much power and it could kill you in trying to regenerate. To protect their people, the host is given only what their body can handle safely.” She informed him.

“That makes sense.” Stiles allowed. “Why is that a secret?”

“It isn’t.” She handed him his shirts. “This is the secret. The most powerful elven mage only has three.”

“Stiles has twenty.” Scott pointed out rather needlessly.

“And he could handle more.” Veratis added. “You are a singular individual, Bruxa. I look forward to seeing how you will handle the coming dangers.”

When she disappeared, the salamander left with her. All that remained was the path of burnt grass.

“Great.” Stiles sighed. “Like I wasn’t stressed enough.”

When they got back to school, Econ was over so Stiles and Scott headed to English after retrieving their bags from coach’s classroom. Coach also gave them a note so they wouldn’t be given a detention for being late with the express instruction to not tell him what happened because he didn’t need nightmares.

Stiles handed his note to Ms. Blake and took his seat, sighing dejectedly when a low-grade headache settled over him. Whoever it was that bathed in whatever annoying perfume or cologne it was that gave him a headache, was going to spend the entirety of this class dying in interesting ways in Stiles’ imagination.

“Are you alright, Ms. Blake?” Scott asked, dragging Stiles out of his murderous thoughts.

Stiles looked to their teacher and noted that she looked a little paler than usual, a little shaken maybe, or like she could use some lunch. Stiles knew he was certainly ready for food.

“Thank you for your concern, Scott, but I’m alright.” She smiled. “Please take your seat.”

Scott did as he was instructed, and class continued.

Stiles made sure that the Pack knew that the threat had been handled when they gathered for lunch. He also sent a text to the members who weren’t present to let them know. Lydia was interested to hear about the faerie that he’d met, so Stiles regaled her with the story. Lydia was as confused as he was that the faerie had been so helpful, but Scott suggested that the Summit must have convinced her to help out. Lydia was less convinced. While Stiles would normally be inclined to agree with Lydia on this one, the faerie had been helpful and had asked very little in return. He decided to forego judgment on the matter until he had more evidence.

With Thanksgiving in a couple weeks--and no answer yet from the Elders--the Pack meeting devolved quickly into holiday planning. Erica and Lydia were in favor of a large Pack dinner. Derek liked the idea--Stiles could tell, even if the stubborn wolf didn’t say anything--but he hesitated because of family members not in the know. Neither Danny nor Lydia’s family were aware of the supernatural and both would expect their respective children to attend a family dinner for the holiday, and Allison said she had relatives--non-Argents--coming in for the holiday as well.

It was Stiles who suggested the Pack Turkey Day celebrations take place on another day. If his motives had more to do with avoiding Black Friday shopping and less to do with settling the argument, no one had to know but him. Erica would be spending Thanksgiving with Boyd, Isaac with Scott, and Jackson and Derek with Stiles, and then the whole Pack would gather at Stiles’ the next day for the Pack dinner.

In truth, he didn’t have a preference. Family holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas had never really been the same after his mom died, and he just wasn’t as into the holidays as other members--Scott. Mostly Scott--of the Pack.

Once the argument had been settled, Stiles put his foot down and initiated a Pack study night. Finals and other big tests were coming up, involved projects and homework assignments were looming over the upcoming break, and he wanted no one to fall behind. Derek and the other non-school going members of the Pack took the time to nap. Lazy bums.

The next shift in the ley lines happened a couple days later while everyone was training. Erica caught him and kept him from landing in the dirt, but Stiles could see that the wolves felt the shift as well.

“Those are annoying.” Isaac muttered.

Stiles glared at him. “I’m ignoring that understatement in favor of finding what came through.”

Twenty minutes later, panting from running to the site so quickly, Stiles took a moment to truly appreciate the absurdity of his world as he dropped to the ground and giggled breathlessly.

Scott joined him on his left, poking gently at their newest invaders. “When the satyr said hundreds of fanged, horned, winged, monsters had invaded his garden, this is somehow not quite what I’d imagined.”

The gentle cooing from Erica and Allison over the hoard of mutated bunny rabbits was not helping with Stiles’ giggles. One of the little guys hopped daringly into his lap, so he picked it up and took a good look at it. The size of a normal rabbit, the wolpertinger--Stiles’ mind supplied--seemed to be the supernatural world’s version of the duck-billed platypus. A bunny with wee tiny antlers like a deer, wings like an owl, and about half of them sported a rooster’s crest atop their otherwise bunny-like heads. It was an oddity for certain.

But not at all vicious.

“Suggestions?” Derek growled.

Stiles looked over at him and snorted in an attempt to keep the giggling at bay. The image of Derek, mighty werewolf in his leather jacket and aggressive stance, standing amidst a field of frankly adorable bunny-like things was a beautiful thing. He wanted to save the moment so he pulled out his phone and snapped a pic.

“I got nothing.” Boyd eyed the wolpertinger that Erica was handing him with extreme distrust.

“We could sell them?” Isaac suggested. “Novelty pet; we’d make a killing.”

“Suggestions that won’t compromise the secrecy of the supernatural world?” Derek rephrased.

Peter cocked his head to the side, thoughtful. “I’m with Isaac on this one.”

“No.” Stiles glared.

“Do we need to do anything?” Scott asked, petting the wolpertinger that came close enough.

Boyd grunted. “The satyr said they were destroying his garden.”

“Probably can’t just leave them here, then.” Allison nodded.

In the end, the Pack herded the hoard of wolpertinger out of the garden--an event that Stiles wished he could have gotten on film--and to another section of woods. From there, Stiles was at a bit of a loss. There was no reason to kill them, they were harmless, but he couldn’t just leave them to their own devices either for fear they’d be discovered or return to the satyr’s garden.

“I got nothing.” Stiles stated.

“We could get someone else to take them, like with the salamander.” Scott suggested.

True, but if another of the fae showed up, Stiles wasn’t really down for negotiating.

“Maybe Leeloo can take them.” Isaac shrugged.

Jackson sighed, “Can’t you just banish them? It can’t be that difficult.”

“Where do you suggest I send them?” Stiles demanded.

“Somewhere not here.”

Stiles rolled his eyes. “Very helpful.”

“Couldn’t hurt to try.” Derek offered. “See if you can send them back where they’re supposed to be.”

“Germany.” Stiles supplied. “Wolpertinger are a german myth.”

Not that he wanted to send them to Germany. The supernatural was supposed to be a secret everywhere, not just Beacon Hills. Now that he was thinking about it, though, he supposed he could send them to another nearby plane similar to where the elves lived. It would take a lot of juice to send so many, especially without any components since he didn’t have anything in his kit for this kind of thing, but he had the magic in his wards so it wasn’t impossible.

Decided, he made his way to the center of the hoard and concentrated. He focused, not on a specific plane, but on a desired type. Somewhere pleasantly habitable, where they wouldn’t draw unwanted attention, and where they would be happy. Once he had that, he tried to send them there. It took about five minutes of concentrating, but a small pop of displaced air later, and they were all gone.

“Hopefully that worked.” He frowned, recalling vividly the last time he transported something--himself--magically.

“Too bad we couldn’t keep them. They were adorable.” Allison pouted. Erica smirked.

“Next time a harmless, but obviously magical, animal shows up, I promise to consider letting you keep it.” Stiles groaned as he stretched in an effort to keep himself focused and awake. Using his wards always made him sleepy.

The Pack left the forest, objective completed. Stiles was deposited at his house to sleep off his magical draining, and the others went to continue their training that had been interrupted.

The next couple weeks went by in a haze of homework, projects, and ley line upheavals. Seven instances in the span of two weeks, all of them dragging a pissed off and confused beast into the forest or, once, Stiles’ backyard. He and Derek had sent the mummy--”This is so unsanitary...” “Focus Stiles!”--flying into the woods to get it out of sight before one of his neighbors looked out a window.

At last, though, school let out for Thanksgiving break and Stiles let out a huge sigh of relief. He’d had three close calls while at school in the past couple of weeks, and he was so ready to be away from everyone that wasn’t Pack for the next several days. So, when Derek knocked on his front door the day before Thanksgiving, Stiles was comfortably in his rattiest, most worn pajamas, excited for a day of absolute relaxation.

Derek took one look at him, smirked, and teased, “Did you just wake up?”

“No, I was just chillin’.”

“Get dressed.” Derek told him.

“We going somewhere?”

He nodded. “That’s the idea of a date, Stiles.”

Stiles grinned. “Sir, yes Sir. Give me a sec, I’ll be right back.”

He threw on one of the many Lydia-approved outfits that he reserved for going out with Derek and then hurried back downstairs. Derek was sitting comfortably with the sheriff at the kitchen table while he waited. When Stiles came back, they said goodbye to the sheriff before heading out the door.

Since it had been a while since they’d had a real date, just the two of them, Derek took Stiles to see a movie and then to one of the nicer restaurants in the city. The kind with a tiny as fuck parking lot so you had to park a block and a half away if you wanted to avoid paying $20 for valet parking. It was a nice day, so neither of them minded the walk and Stiles had enough frugality--on occasion--to refuse to pay for something like valet parking.

Derek asked him about it on their way back to the car once they were done with dinner. “Why so adamant we park elsewhere? It was just $20.”

Just? No, Derek, it was ridiculous even for valet parking, which is, by the way, a total scam.”

“A scam.”

“Yes! It’s just a way for the restaurant to make more money, when they could have just built a better parking lot. Instead, they charge an arm and a leg for some kid fresh out of driver’s ed to get behind the wheel of your car and park it for you. Do you know how close I came to losing Roscoe because the idiot valet couldn’t listen to simple instructions?”

“Roscoe?”

“My jeep. Sticks in second, I’ve mentioned this before, but did he listen? No!” Stiles ranted.

“Why was he going into second gear to park your jeep?” Derek was clearly amused. Stiles could tell by the smirk he was trying to fight.

“Because he was a moron who didn’t know how to drive standard. It’s not that hard!”

Derek chuckled and pulled Stiles in for a sweet kiss, effectively ending his rant about the injustice that was valet parking.

Then, disaster blindsided them.

One moment they were walking along headed to the Camaro, kissing--in public!--with Derek's leather jacket snug and warm over Stiles' shoulders, and the next there were screeching tires, Derek yelling his name, and he was being tossed into the grass as he heard the sickening sound of metal hitting flesh.

He couldn’t breathe. Stiles wasn't breathing, because Derek wasn't breathing. He scrambled to get to his feet, managing only a few stumbling steps on shaky legs to lurch over to Derek. He was scrapped up, there were jagged cuts along his arms and face from glass, his left shoulder was a jagged ripped up mess of road rash, obviously broken bones poked grotesquely against and through his skin, but worst of all, his neck was at a distinctly wrong angle.

"Derek..." Stiles choked and grabbed for his body, but two firm pairs of hands grabbed him and lifted him away. "No! Get off of me! Derek!!"

Stiles struggled; twisted and kicked and screamed. In anger. In pain. In desperation. If he could only get to him, if he could touch him, maybe he'd be wrong. Derek would be alive and not… No! He refused! He begged and prayed and willed it to be true. Derek had to be alive! He couldn't just…

The hunters--and they could be no one else--threw Stiles into the back of their murder van and drove away; leaving Derek on the side of the road like a dog. Stiles tried to fight, tried to get out of the van, tried to do anything… But he felt so weak. So drained. He hadn't felt this helpless in a long time. He collapsed in the back of the van and let the void take him.

When he awoke, he found himself tied to a chair. With chains. The metal was cold against his skin, and Stiles realized that his clothes had been removed. He was completely naked. Extreme, but these hunters obviously weren't ones for half measures.

"It wakes."

Movement to his left, static figures to his right. Stiles tried to find the will to care. He was probably in a great deal of danger, but he just couldn't bring himself to feel…. anything. He was numb, cold, and he honestly couldn't gather the will to be afraid. Derek was dead. There wasn't anything worse these hunters could do to him now.

"I still vote we just kill it." One of the others said. A woman, young, judging by her voice.

"That's because you lack foresight." The first, a man, snapped. "Live bait is far more effective."

In all, Stiles counted four currently in the room. He had no idea if there were more elsewhere--he suspected yes--or even where here was. He couldn't bring himself to care, really. He wished that they would kill him; at least then…

No. He shouldn't wish it. He had his dad and the rest of the Pack to think about. If they lost both of their alphas… Not a one of them would take it well.

That did make him wonder though. Briefly. Who was the new alpha? Power transferred in a way that he didn't really understand. Beyond the basic, kill the alpha to steal his strength, Stiles wasn't sure how it worked. Would it be Scott? Boyd? Peter? That last one would make him nervous, if he'd bothered to feel.

It was far better not to. Numbness was good. He wouldn't feel like his heart had been ripped from his chest in the numbness.

"Are we sure it's the right one?" One of the hunters asked. "Isn't it supposed to be… annoying?"

"It was with the alpha, it's the right one." The first grunted.

A shadow crossed his face and a figure leaned into his line of sight. "Come on little witching. Rise and shine." She taunted with a smile.

He forced himself to take more interest in his surroundings. If he was going to get out of this, he'd need at least a little awareness of what was around him, and the presence of mind to use what he found.

Part of being an excellent researcher and planner was the ability to focus beyond distractions and compartmentalize. It came in handy when he spent twelve hours in front of a computer looking up details on the creatures that might come visit. Now, however, Stiles had to use it to shove his grief into a tiny little corner of his mind so that he could function.

It wasn't something he'd ever had to do before. When his mom died, he hadn't needed to cram it down and ignore it right away. He found that it wasn't as easy as tuning out sounds and bodily demands for food and sleep. It wouldn't just sit peacefully in its corner and let him be. It was like trying to convince a person, with wills and needs, to do something it didn't want to. He had to give it something in return. So, Stiles gave it the only thing he had left.

Fury.

Cold, crystal clear fury that sharpened his mind and senses and honed his focus. It wasn't the kind of hot rage that made one stupid. It was far beyond that level and even the next. This seared his veins with ice and left goosebumps in its wake. This snap froze his heart and fused steel to his spine.

This was absolute and terrifying.

The hunter in front of him seemed to recognize when his lucidity returned, because she smiled brightly before ruffling his hair and stepping back. He followed her movement. She was older, probably in her late 40s, but she looked fit for her age. The only indication he saw of it was lines around her eyes and mouth. There were two men, both around her age or a little older. One had salt and pepper hair, the other was bald. The fourth was another girl, this one much younger, probably closer to Stiles’ age. They all shared a family resemblance.

Beyond that, they looked familiar. Not that he'd seen them before, he would definitely have recognized them if he had. No. This familiarity was different. They reminded him of someone, the woman especially. It was the eyes. Very scary, intimidating, piercing blue eyes.

Victoria Argent.

These were the relatives that Allison had mentioned. He wasn't aware her other relatives were also hunters, but he hardly spoke to Allison about her mother's side of the family. More the fool him, apparently.

"If this is about revenge, you're looking in the wrong place." Stiles stated. If he had fucks to spare, he might have been a little scared at how empty he sounded.

The woman scoffed. "If this were about revenge, we would've made your dog whine as we ripped him apart."

"Dog references. How original." Stiles sneered.

She didn't rise to the bait, which was fine. He hadn't expected her too. Instead she just smirked a little and fondled the knife at her hip thoughtfully as she moved to talk quietly with the others. She and the girl looked much more relaxed than the men. Stiles noticed the tense set of their shoulders and the way they kept their hands on their weapons.

It was like they didn't trust him or something.

The three adults conversed quietly, too quietly for Stiles to hear, but the girl kept looking at him. Curious, he'd guess. She was around Allison's age; it was possible this was her first encounter with the world of hunting.

He stared back, making eye contact when her eyes finally settled on his. She tensed a little and settled her hand on the gun at her hip reflexively. Stiles just raised an eyebrow at her. She moved closer to him, growing bolder when he didn't move. Her eyes raked over him and she smirked lightly, fingers now taping on her hip.

"Sam." The other woman snapped her attention away from Stiles.

"Ma'am."

"Don't feed the animals." She said, her tone labeling Sam a moron.

She stiffened and moved away, refocusing her attention on the others. While they held their little pow-wow, Stiles examined the room. Concrete walls and floor, no apparent windows, only the one door--metal and reinforced from the look of it--and it was on the far wall. His chair was bolted to the ground, his chains were confining, and the fluorescent light made getting a look at the ceiling difficult. From what he could tell, though, it was--surprise--more concrete. The room was small, rectangular, and empty of everything but himself and the hunters.

It was an effective little cage, he supposed.

Movement made him refocus on the hunters. They broke apart and the leader approached him again.

"Such a shame you and I can't get to know each other better, but alas, duty calls. Sam, however," she gripped the girls shoulder, "is going to spend a little time learning all she can about you. She plays rough, but I think you two will get along just fine." She left then, along with the other two adults.

Sam smiled sweetly as the door closed. She pulled a long blade out of a sheath on her back and tossed it easily between her hands.

"Is this supposed to be the part where you cut on me until I tell you my life's story?" Stiles was unimpressed.

"Only if you want it to be." She stalked closer. "I was hoping we could start slow, though."

Stiles remained quiet. He had nothing to say to her and torture was unreliable at best. He wouldn't give her anything. Not that he thought she'd actually ask him anything.

"Look, I get it. Your boy toy is dead, and you're upset. Understandably so. That's still no reason not to be polite."

He stared her down. Didn't glare. He mentally bashed her head against a wall, but he didn't glare. He didn't have Derek's skill at intimidation with a withering glare, but a flat stare could be equally as disturbing when emotions were supposed to be high.

Her smile faltered a little.

"Fine. You want to do this the hard way, we'll do it the hard way." She dropped the smile altogether and crouched down in front of him, tapping the blade against her knee as she considered him.

"I was going to be nice. You've just lost your boyfriend, and while bestiality isn't one of my kinks, I can't say he was unpleasant to look at. I wanted to go easy on you, be gentle, be kind--relatively speaking. But no, you don't want to play ball." She brushed a gentle hand over his leg and the look she gave him reminded Stiles of how Isaac looked at a canvass.

When she started tracing the blade lightly--too lightly to break skin even if he hadn't been warded--he tried to force himself not to move. He didn't relish the idea of being cut, but he knew he wasn't getting out of here without it happening. His reserves were low for reasons he didn't know. They'd possibly done something to him, or were using something, but he was warded against that type of tampering, so he wasn't sure why his reserves were so low.

"You have fascinating skin." she commented idly. "I could play connect the dots; make a pretty picture."

"What is it with psychos and games." Stiles muttered.

She smiled. "It's important to enjoy your work."

"You want to play a game? Let's play Fuck Off. You go first."

She smirked at him. "I like you. I can tell we're going to have lots of fun you and I."

The first time she really dug in with the knife, it didn't break the skin like she'd probably intended it too. She didn't frown though. Instead she looked up and considered him.

"We were warned about you being potentially warded. It's not uncommon for witchlings, but we should have found them all when we stripped you."

Stiles refrained from rolling his eyes. So that's why they'd done it.

"Although…" She tilted her head a little, "you were butt buddies with a wolf, so… maybe we didn't."

Stiles sighed. "Full cavity search is it? Gonna need to unchain me for that."

She smiled again. "Not necessary. I'll just have to try harder."

The blade was sharp, he'd give it that. The pain from the cut didn't register, just a throb that beat in time with his heart. He didn't flinch though. He'd gone through much worse pain from Gerard and the Alpha Pack. This girl and her knife were pretty low on Stiles' list of unbearable things.

She spent only fifteen minutes carving into the skin on his leg. He was bleeding, he could feel it ooze down his leg, but he wasn’t worried. The wound would stop bleeding soon enough and his wards still functioned to heal him even though his reserves were low.

When she’d apparently decided she was done, she stood up and cleaned the knife with a rag. “You know, when they told me that monsters walked our world, I somehow assumed they’d look… different.”

“Too human for you?” Stiles spat.

She gave him a pitying look. “Please. Humans are just as capable of being monsters as the beasts that stalk the woods. No, I mean… nothing is really as scary as I was hoping.” She straddled his lap, slinging her arms around his shoulders as she continued excitedly, “I wanted huge hulking beasts with fangs and claws and glowing eyes, things with the strength to crush a car or tear a tree out of the ground, or the ability to enthrall and kill you before you knew what was happening, maybe poison or paralyze you with a touch.” She sighed. “But no. I don’t get any of that. Instead I get furballs and scrawny kids with a propensity for parlor tricks.”

“Branch out. The bestiary is full of all those.” Stiles fought the urge to slam his head into hers; he had to bide his time until a real plan presented itself.

She smiled again. “Ah yes, the Argent Bestiary. You know it spans back generations, each hunter adding to it, but… it does seem to be incomplete. You know what it’s missing?”

“I’m sure you’re going to tell me.”

“Bruxa.” She whispered. “We thought we’d seen magic users of every kind: necromancers, pyromancers, hedge witches, Sparks… so imagine our surprise when we get a call from an old friend saying there’s a new one, a Bruxa, and boy, oh boy, does it seem powerful.”

“Cool story bro.” Stiles droned.

She smirked. “Do you know how a monster is added to the bestiary? How we gather so much information on a new creature?”

“Torture. Dissection.” Stiles guessed.

“You could avoid that fate. Just… answer some questions and we can avoid all that messiness.”

Stiles scoffed. “If I don’t?”

“We press buttons until we find one with an informative reaction.” She promised. “Then another, and another…”

“Until you kill me?”

She dragged something sharp across his shoulder, something small enough to conceal in her hand. If Stiles had to guess, it was something like an exacto-knife or a scalpel. “That’s a possibility, but,” she continued to cut a small pattern into his skin, “we could have so much fun, you and I. Picture it, my masterpiece: my own addition to the bestiary. I’ll go down in Campbell history as the youngest hunter to add to its prestigious text. And then there’s you, of course. With my own chapter and a tame Bruxa at my side, I’ll be in charge of this family. We’ll do things my way.”

She was, clearly, a few fries short of a happy meal, but she had essentially told him that she wouldn’t kill him. She needed him. Which meant Stiles had a chance. He needed to rest to regain his reserves, but she probably wasn’t going to let him sleep. He needed to get her angry enough to knock him out.

She stopped carving and sighed appreciatively. When she stood, she cleaned her blade again, and smiled at him. “That should scar nicely.”

“Probably not.” Stiles attempted to shrug as best he could with the chains.

She raised her eyebrow, askance.

“You thought your wee-bitty blade was going to leave a permanent mark? Not a chance.” Stiles shook his head. As her face contorted into a glare, he decided to try pushing a little more. “I’ve got enough scars, like I need your doodle?”

“I’ll just do it again. And again. Until it does scar. Skin can only take so much before the repairs get a little… phoned in.” She threatened.

Stiles tipped his head to the side and a one shoulder shrug in agreement. “Sure, yeah, usually. Unless there’s something or someone actively healing it with magic.”

She stomped to the other side of the chair to get a look at the wound, which, if Stiles guessed right, would already have stopped bleeding. Her grunt of outrage confirmed that it was in the process of healing.

“Stop that.”

Stiles snorted. “Make me.”

The tiny blade was back and at his throat this time. “I could kill you.”

“Yep.” He agreed. “Not much good to your plan if I’m dead though.”

She snarled in his ear, hit him forcefully on the back of the head, and then it was blessedly black.

The next time Stiles regained consciousness, before he even opened his eyes, he checked his reserves. He’d regained a good supply while unconscious, and his wards were at full strength too. It might be enough to bust out if he could come up with a plan.

He listened before opening his eyes. All he could hear was the faint ringing that came with silence. Opening his eyes, he looked about. There weren’t any lights on, so he couldn’t make much out. There were no windows, just the one door, and there was no light coming in through any cracks. The room was pitch black.

Despite that, his instincts were telling him that he wasn’t alone.

“You’re very good.” Sam said to his left. “I can admit when I’ve been played. It won’t happen again, though.”

“Wanna bet?” Stiles tested the chains. As secure as ever, though he noticed that someone had put pants on him while he was out--not his own--without underwear though, so it was still pretty uncomfortable.

“This is not a contest you can win.” She stepped around him, he tracked her footsteps. “There is no rescue.” She hit him with something heavy and blunt. It slammed into his arm, just below the shoulder and sent throbbing pain radiating down. “You will talk because we demand it.” The next blow landed painfully, just an inch away from his knee. “You are alive because we allow it.” A third strike, to his abdomen this time, winded him.

Stiles caught on to what she was doing. Talking to cover up the sound of whatever it was she was swinging so that he wouldn’t know where the next blow would land. Either she had frighteningly good aim or she could see somehow. He bet it was the latter, probably nightvision goggles or some such.

“Why is a Bruxa rare?” She demanded.

Stiles sighed. This was ridiculous. “Google it.”

She broke the small toe of his right foot. “Is it learned or inherent?”

He choked down a scream. “Read and find out.”

The little toe of his left foot was next. “Why are the elves afraid of you?”

“Seriously, does no one but me know how to use a computer?”

She huffed and then smacked him in the jaw hard enough to loosen teeth. “These are simple questions; answer them and I won’t kill your Pack when it gets here.”

He spat blood in her general direction. “Let me go now and I’ll think about not killing you.”

Sam sighed, disappointed. “You should be more amenable to my plan; you won’t enjoy what the others have in store for you.”

“Last chance, Sam.” He warned.

“Yes,” she patted him patronizingly on the cheek, “it was your last chance.”

Her footsteps faded, the door opened, then closed, and he was alone.

He was tempted to open a connection to the Pack bonds, to see if rescue was forthcoming, and how everyone was, but… the sorrow and rage within him wasn’t something he wanted to spread to the others, it wasn’t something they needed to experience, and--in truth, most importantly--he didn’t want to feel the emptiness that had been his bond to Derek. He kept a tight hold over the bonds instead; no emotional feedback at all.

Stiles gave it a few minutes before healing the wounds he’d received. The last thing he needed was anything slowing him down, and only a fool willfully escaped with a fixable handicap. Once that was done, he meditated. He wanted all the juice he could get, and now was as good a time as any while they weren’t bothering him.

Dawn broke before anyone else came to call on him. He could tell because dawn always carried with it a… cleanse almost. Magically speaking. If he was awake, he could feel the dawn.

The door opened and heavier footsteps than Sam’s walked in. One of the others then. He was sure their version of questioning would be just as predictable, just as tedious and redundant, just as ignor--

When Stiles looked to his guest, he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the sight of Derek’s leather jacket on the shoulders of the hunter. The jacket that Derek favored of his small collection, the one he wore most frequently. It was worn in the seams of the shoulders from Derek’s over-large build and penchant for crossing his arms, the cuffs of the sleeves were rugged and torn from all the fighting and training he’d done in it, the leather itself carried his scent mixed with its own. Stiles would recognize it anywhere. The same jacket that Derek had placed on Stiles’ shoulders just outside the restaurant minutes before that same hunter had killed him.

Well.

Wasn’t that interesting.

There was a level beyond cold fury. Stiles no longer cared about odds or plans. A button he didn’t even know he possessed had been pushed and there was no going back. His tattoos blazed into life.

“That’s not your jacket.”

The sound of chains hitting the steel chair as Stiles simply stood up--he had no use for chains, and therefore ignored their existence--strangled whatever response the hunter might have had. The hunter’s hand moved for the gun on his hip, and then he was pinned against the ceiling as Stiles looked at him with deadly calm.

Stiles said nothing as he inspected the hunter above him. The man was blubbering; Stiles tuned him out. He wanted the jacket undamaged and clean of the hunter, so his first step was obvious. He bent the hunter at the waist so that the jacket slid off of him and hung obligingly in the air next to Stiles, patiently waiting. Stiles took a knee and placed his palms upon the floor, reading the map that the building provided at his behest. Map and target in mind, he put on the jacket and then took himself from the room.

In front of him, doors opened, blown clear of their hinges. Above him, the hunter followed, dragging along the ceiling. Behind him, walls, ceiling, and floor crumbled to rubble and dust while he and the jacket remained clean.

He ran into the other hunters as he made his way out. Their shots missed as bullets disintegrated a foot in front of him, arrows and bolts burnt in a flash almost as soon as they left their strings, and the hunters joined the first on the ceiling. Uncle, Father, Mother, and an assortment of cousins.

Just one left.

Hours Earlier

It was like he was watching it happen in slow motion.

He heard the sudden acceleration of three heartbeats and then the gunning of an engine. He looked and saw the SUV coming at them, Stiles as yet unaware, and he couldn't move fast enough. Like one of those dreams where his limbs felt too heavy and too sluggish to do what they were told. He couldn't get them both out of the way, but he could save Stiles. He grabbed him by the jacket--his jacket--and threw him onto the grass and out of the way.

Derek had just enough time to see Stiles safely land before the car hit him and everything went black.

When he was aware again he looked for Stiles. He... Couldn't feel him. Why couldn't he feel him? Dimly, he was aware that he would normally be in a panic, but he just opened his eyes and looked around. Unfortunately, he didn't recognize anything.

In fact, it was rather hard to discern any features of the area at all. It seemed to... Shift or change and yet it wasn't moving. Derek decided, for his own sanity, not to focus on it. Instead he focused on the only solid object in the whole place.

The door was huge. It was also unattached to any walls that Derek could see, and for all that he called it solid, he couldn't determine anything beyond that it was big, it was closed, and that he wanted to open it.

He reached for it, but the door swung open before he touched it.

"I leave you alone for five minutes!"

Derek stared dumbstruck at her. Long black hair as sleek as he remembered, mouth set in that same determined smirk, eyes Alpha red fading to Hale green.

"Laura?" Her name fell from his lips in oddly muted shock.

"No, it's Santa Clause, of course it's me you dork!"

"Laura." The other woman chided. He recognized her though she wasn't family. She was tall, chocolate brown hair and honey brown eyes... Stiles' eyes.

Ceridwen Stilinski, Stiles' mom.

"Am I dead?" Derek felt ridiculous just asking, but it was his best guess even if he hadn't ever thought there was an... Afterlife. That might explain his dulled emotions. Without the body’s reactions… or maybe he was just in shock. Dying was a good reason to be in shock.

"Yes." Laura snapped. "You got taken out by a damn car! What the hell, Der?"

He supposed after everything that he’d survived, being killed by a car was rather ignominious, but he didn’t really care about that at the moment. "Is Stiles..."

"He's alive," Mrs. Stilinski assured him.

Derek stepped forward, toward the door. "Good." He clenched his jaw and fought the childish urge to say he didn't want to die. He was dead, there wasn't anything he could do about it.

"Derek, stop." Laura said. The first non-sarcastic thing out of her mouth so far.

He looked at her and frowned, confused. He didn’t want to go without Stiles, but surely it was better than waiting in this empty limbo? Weren’t those his only options?

"You cannot cross the threshold if you wish to return." Mrs. Stilinski explained gently.

"Return? As in... From the dead?" Derek asked. "I'm not Peter, I don't--"

"Peter did what he did with a great deal of preparation and unique circumstances. Such is not the case this time." Mrs. Stilinski told him. "However, you have a unique chance of your own."

"You mean Stiles." Derek guessed.

She smiled. "He has bound himself to you, and you to him--"

"Which is adorable, by the way. I approve." Laura interrupted.

"Because of the bond and because Stiles is a Bruxa, there is a chance he could bring you back." She finished, smiling indulgently at Laura's interruption.

Derek thought it through. If Stiles could bring him back, that was a metric fuck ton of power. None of them, not Peter or Deaton or even the elf, had really been able to guess how strong Stiles potentially was. His sudden and spontaneous uses of magic made Stiles nervous; the idea of wielding that much power didn't appeal to him. Derek was certain that if Stiles managed to bring him back, he would freak out. And so would a lot of other people.

"Is it safe for him to even try?" Derek asked.

Ceridwen shook her head. "For many reasons beyond the using of that much magic at once, no."

"But Stiles probably won't even realize he's doing it." Laura added. "How many times has he just reacted to something, or unconsciously done something impossible?"

"His inability to focus has caused more than a few leaks." Ceridwen agreed.

"He doesn't think he can with the ADHD." Derek defended.

Ceridwen winced with guilt. “He cannot; that was the point.”

“Point of what?” Derek asked, suspicion growing.

“Stiles began to show signs of being Bruxa at a very young age.” Ceridwen explained. “It was dangerous for him to wield that kind of power without an understanding of consequences or temperance, so I used what little magic I had to… essentially give him his ADHD, to make using his Bruxa abilities nearly impossible.”

Derek was ready to growl a cutting retort, but Laura stopped him. “Don’t get all snarly. There’s a reason we were homeschooled until we could control the shift. Giving a kid the power to get everything they ask for without question is exactly how people like Peter happen.”

Derek huffed.

“It was only supposed to be temporary.” Ceridwen continued. “I planned on removing the enchantment when he was old enough to understand and control it, but…”

She’d died.

“Why didn’t you remove it when you knew you were going to die?” Derek wondered. He remembered clearly Stiles’s tale of his mother’s death of pneumonia. That should have left time to cast one spell, right?

She shook her head. “He was still so young, even if I’d had the strength, I wouldn’t have done that to him. Loss makes a mind unclear, even if that mind believes otherwise at the time. There would be no telling what he’d have done.”

Okay, he could see her point. “But there is a way to remove it now?”

“Yes, and he will need it removed if he is to face the dragon below the city.” Ceridwen insisted.

Laura groaned. “I can’t believe there’s a dragon beneath Beacon Hills and no one told us!”

Derek shot her a look but otherwise ignored her. “How?”

“Beget by blood, and by blood undone.” Ceridwen stated. “Use his blood and your will to undo the enchantment.”

“Me?”

“You’ve done it before.” Laura reminded him. “The babies in the nursery. You undid that enchantment.”

“With Stiles’ help. And with something to focus on. There’s no tangible effect from this spell.”

“You have the ability within you to break it; my magic is not nearly so strong as a gorgon’s.” Ceridwen promised. “Stiles can’t do it. I built it so that it required focused will to break, which the spell makes him incapable of except in extreme circumstances.” She reached out and a feeling somewhere between a warm touch and the smell of fresh bread and the sound of lively music filled his senses. The feeling quickly distilled into something like the essence of a scent. “There. That’s my magic. Focus on that. That’s what the spell will feel like.”

Derek nodded reluctantly, and then forced the topic back to the present. “What kind of danger will Stiles be in once he’s brought me back?"

"Think about it, Der. You think it was some random muggle that hit you with his car?" The twins had started calling people not in the know muggles after reading Harry Potter and it had kinda stuck. "Those were Hunters." Laura scowled.

"They took him?" Derek growled. They had a truce with Chris, an understanding, but any hunter not from the area wouldn't care. They'd kill first and ask questions never.

"Not yet, but that's their plan, yes." Ceridwen nodded.

"Not yet?"

"Time moves differently here." Laura explained. "For the most part, it moves much faster, like when you're asleep. There, Stiles has only just hit the grass."

Derek frowned. "There has to be something I can do--"

Ceridwen raised her hand for peace. "Believe me, I know how difficult it is to stand by and do nothing, but you must have patience Derek. There is nothing we can do. We must wait on Stiles."

Derek growled frustrated. He hated being idle, and he loathed it when Stiles was in danger and there was nothing he could do about it.

"You'd think he'd be happier to see me." Laura pouted to Ceridwen.

Derek sighed. He was frustrated, but he was happy to see his sister again. He reached out to her and again felt more than just the touch he would have expected. This time it was the smell of the forest and of ash and the sound of howls and the intangible feel of the pack bound they’d once shared. Laura smiled and leaned in to nuzzle his cheek like she used to do when they were children. “You smell different. Like ozone and… cookies.”

Derek laughed. “That’s Stiles. Magic and baked goods. You can sense him even here?”

“Of course. You’re mated. I can sense the rest of your pack because I’m keeping the alpha power from shifting, but I’d be able to sense Stiles without that I think.”

“Speaking of, who…” He trailed off, but Laura seemed to understand.

“Stiles’s friend, the one with the crooked jaw, what’s his name…”

“Scott.” Mrs. Stilinski interjected.

“That one.” Laura confirmed. “He’s well suited for it if he ever gets over himself. Might even manage it on his own...” Laura looked like she’d said too much and changed the subject. “At least it’s not Peter. Punch him for me when you get back? I know you already set him on fire and ripped out his throat, but then he used you and a perfectly lovely young woman in a creepy ritual to bring himself back, so I feel like that kinda negates that.”

“Happy to.”

“If we’re passing messages now, just tell Stiles my death isn’t his fault. I don’t regret my choice, and I’m very proud of him. And send him and Eryk my love.” Mrs. Stilinski smiled wistfully.

“Of course.” Derek looked up at the two women. "And I have a few questions."

"More than a few I imagine." Ceridwen smiled.

"Where are the others?" He asked Laura.

"Beyond," Laura gestured behind her to the door. "They have moved on. It's harder for them to venture this close to the edge."

"But, Mrs. Stilinski--"

"You can call me Ceridwen, and I am able to come here because I have practice." She told him. "This is not my first foray to the edge."

Derek frowned again, and thought occurring to him. “Does that mean you haven’t moved on, Laura? You’ve just been here in this limbo?“

“Not all, little brother. I lingered closed to the door to keep a watch, but I was allowed to pass through with Ceridwen to help you. Couldn’t let you pass over if you had the chance to go back.” She teased. “And couldn’t have you losing alpha status just when you’re starting to get your shit together.”

"Do you know anything about the ley lines?" He moved on, pointedly ignoring that comment and turning to Ceridwen.

“I knew of them, but little else.” She shook her head. "I was just a hedge witch; I wasn't strong enough to wield them."

“So you can’t tell us what we need to do?”

“I wish I could. I can sense enough of the situation--being dead has it’s perks--to tell that there is a solution, it’s not hopeless, but I can’t tell the specifics. There are too many important decisions still unmade for the future to be at all clear.”

Ceridwen and Laura both looked off to the side, focus distant.

“He’s about to revive you.” Ceridwen warned. “It will still take some time for your body to heal though.”

“Find his kit, Der. It fell when you pushed him out of the way.” Laura advised.

He nodded and then looked away. “I’m sorry. About everything…”

“Don’t. None of it was your fault. No one blames you.”

“I do.”

“Because you’re a moron.” She told him.

He sighed. “So I’ve been told.”

“Like I said, I approve.” She smiled. “Now go save your prince.”

“Send them my love.” Derek waved before everything faded out.

When he awoke it was to the sound of sirens and one familiar voice.

“Derek!” The sheriff grasped his shoulder in a death grip. “What happened? Where’s Stiles?”

Derek glanced nervously around. He was in the back of a car, the the sheriff’s cruiser by the smell. The sheriff must have picked him up to avoid suspicion. Clearly some time had passed between not being dead and being healed enough to regain consciousness.

“Hunters.” He pushed to sit.

“Take it easy.” The sheriff steadied him. “You seemed pretty bad off when I got to you.”

“Healing now.” Derek insisted, glossing over the whole death thing. “Need to get to Stiles. They took him.”

“Do you know where they went?”

“No.” Derek frowned. “Not yet. Give me a second.”

He tried the bonds, but he was getting absolutely nothing from Stiles. He wasn’t dead, though. The bond was there, just closed. He could feel the others though: panic and confusion in heaping doses. He tried his best to calm them along the bond, but the easiest and fastest solution would be to get to them.

“Can’t find him, he’s blocking us.” Derek growled.

“Why? What does that mean?”

Derek found Stiles’ kit on the floorboard next to him pulled it to him before getting out of the cruiser. They were stopped on an abandoned patch of road. “Means we’ll have to find him the old fashion way.” Derek reached for his phone only to find a shattered hunk of glass and plastic. “Can I borrow your phone?”

He took the phone and dialed Scott’s number.

“Sheriff?”

“It’s me.” Derek corrected.

“Derek!? What the hell happened? We thought you were dead!” Scott stammered.

“It’s complicated. Look, hunters took Stiles. We need to find him.” Derek groaned, still healing. “Get everyone to the loft.”

“Already done.” Scott told him.

Derek nodded though Scott couldn’t see it. “Good. There in ten.”

The sirens cleared the road for them on their way toward the loft.

Chapter Text

When they arrived, Derek wasted no time getting to work. “Danny, I need you and Lydia on CCTV and camera feeds. Find that van, give me a place to start.” Derek ordered before the door finished opening. Both teens jumped to task. “Isaac, get ahold of Leeloo, see if we can get any help from the elves.”

Isaac pulled his phone out and hit a number on his speed dial as he stepped away to place the call.

“Once we have a direction on the van, Erica is going to ride with the sheriff. They’re smart, they’ll duck the cameras quick, we need to get the scent before it’s gone.”

“Got it.” Erica moved to stand next to the sheriff.

“I’ll get an APB out for Stiles--”

Derek shook his head. “Don’t.”

“Excuse me?”

Everyone stilled.

“My son has been kidnapped by psychopaths; give me one good reason why I shouldn’t bring in the entire department.”

Derek squared his shoulders. “Stiles uses his Bruxa magic when the Pack’s in danger, right? What do you think he’d do to someone who actually killed one of us?”

“No one’s dead, though.” Scott protested when the silence answered Derek’s question.

“I was.” Derek corrected. “As of right now, Stiles thinks I’m dead. Do you want the BHPD witnessing the fallout?”

The sheriff paused briefly, but shook his head.

“We will find him.” Derek promised, accepting the sheriff’s reluctant acquiescence.

“Scott.” He focused intently on the hesitant beta. “Get Allison and Chris in here. I want to know who these hunters are.”

Scott brushed his hand comfortingly on the sheriff’s arm before leaving to fetch the Argents.

“What about us?” Boyd gestured to himself and Jackson.

Derek sighed, resigned. “I need the two of you on guard for anything else that might happen.”

“You mean a shift.” Lydia tossed over her shoulder.

“Yes.” Derek grunted. “It’s been a couple days since the last one and they’ve been getting more frequent; we’re due for another.”

Jackson frowned. “You’re benching us? Now?”

“We can’t let something roam the town because we’re all distracted.” Derek objected.

Boyd put a hand on Jackson’s shoulder, stopping him from protesting further. “We got it, boss.”

“Are we all just going to ignore the dead thing?” Peter asked the room.

Everyone stared at him, annoyed.

“I think it’s an important detail.” Peter continued. “Our alpha perished, we all felt it, and yet… here he is. A little odd--not to mention hypocritical--don’t you think?”

“This coming from the zombie?” Isaac rolled his eyes.

“Believe me when I tell you from first hand experience that returning from the dead isn’t as easy as you might think.” Peter drawled. “I want to know what happened. How did he come back, and why didn’t the mantle of alpha shift when he died?”

“Now? You want to do this right now?” Derek confronted his uncle, getting in his space. “Stiles is in danger, and you’re more interested in why I’m still an alpha than in saving him?”

“Yes, of course.” Peter seemed completely unrepentant.

Derek growled.

His uncle tossed his hands into the air in a half-assed show of surrender. “I’m just suggesting the possibility that our mighty Bruxa may not be as helpless as you seem to think. I think it’s more likely that we’ll come in, guns blazing--so to speak--to find that Stiles has already dealt with his captors in a very efficient and final manner, so why not focus on the more interesting and impossible situation before us?”

“You want to know what happened?” Derek snapped.

Peter raised his eyebrows expectantly.

Derek punched him square in the nose. “Laura sends her regards.”

“Now, if we can focus?” He ignored the groans of pain coming from Peter’s new position on the floor to bring the others back on task. He’d discuss what happened while he’d been dead later, once Stiles was safe.

Once Danny was done hacking into the CCTV footage, it took about ten minutes to bring up the relevant time and location to start from. Derek let them sift through the cameras nearby to get a decent look at the van before devoting most of his attention to watching. He watched as Danny tracked the van’s progress for about ten minutes before they lost sight of it behind a building and didn’t return.

“Where did it go?” He demanded.

Danny rapidly switched cameras to try and find it, but there were no cameras with a look at that side of the building. He watched each one as he brought it up to real time, but still no sign. “It must be a blind spot; there’s nothing.”

“There’s no other street branching off from that one for another three blocks,” Lydia pointed out, “and we have footage of that. Either they’re still there, or they switched cars.”

“Sheriff, Erica, you’re up.” Derek ordered.

“On it boss.” She saluted and followed the sheriff out.

Leeloo arrived, Hatholdes and Avorndir in tow, as Erica and the sheriff were leaving. Derek jumped right passed greetings and into the situation since Isaac had caught her up to speed on the phone.

“Do you know a tracking spell?” He asked.

Leeloo shook her head. “Not my area of expertise. I gathered a search party though, got eyes and ears to the ground. If he so much as steps foot in the forest, we’ll know.”

Derek nodded and redirected his attention. “Jackson and Boyd are staying behind when we get a lead to handle any visitors while we’re getting Stiles back. You three will stay with them and help.”

“Understood.” Hatholdes accepted.

Scott returned with the Argents shortly after.

“What do you have?” Chris asked.

“We tracked the van to a building.” Derek brought Chris over to the CCTV footage. “Could they be inside?”

Chris shook his head. “A dump site, most likely. They’ll have switched cars.”

“Do you know who they are?”

Chris sighed. “Yes. The Campbell’s, Victoria’s family.”

“They came for Thanksgiving.” Allison added.

Jackson shot her a look. “They came for Stiles.”

“They’re a hunting family?” Derek ignored the others.

“Younger than ours,” Chris nodded, “but only by about a century.”

Derek nodded. “Tell me about them.”

“They specialize in witches the way we specialized in werewolves. They’re… Inquisitors. Torture, interrogation, intimidation are all taught at a young age. If they can, they’ll get information out of their victims before they kill them.” Chris informed him, disapproval evident in his tone.

“And you invited them to Beacon Hills?” Boyd questioned.

Allison frowned. “They shouldn’t have known about Stiles. We didn’t even know until the Summit.”

“They said they were coming to visit for Thanksgiving a week after; I was suspicious, but they would have come regardless of whether or not I agreed.” Chris stated. “I thought keeping them close would make things easier.”

Derek growled.

“Hey! Focus.” Scott interjected. “Find Stiles, then--”

“Then do a little interrogating of our own.” Isaac finished.

Scott sighed, “Not what I was going to say.”

“No.” Allison placed a hand on Scott’s shoulder. “He’s right. They got their information from somewhere. We need to know.”

Chris agreed. “First we find Stiles. They’ll be prepared for magical attacks. Their hideout, their transport, even on their persons. Magic shouldn’t work well against them.”

Leeloo snorted. “Good luck with that.”

“The Bruxa will ignore those as easily as breathing.” Hatholdes confirmed. “Especially if he doesn’t know they exist.”

“He’ll have to recharge first.” Derek shook his head. “He’ll be low on magic for a bit.”

“Assuming he even uses his Bruxa magic.” Lydia countered. “He hasn’t been able to focus it.”

Derek suddenly remembered the spell Ceridwen had told him about. “I don’t think that will be a problem.” He’d have to reverse the spell at some point.

“If it is, he’ll be vulnerable.” Chris told him. “I don’t know what protection spells he has in place, but they’ll find them and remove them.”

“They’d have to skin him for that.” Peter smirked, wiping the blood off his face. “So… not outside the realm of possibility, I suppose.”

Derek growled again. “Shut up.”

“Look!” Lydia pointed to the screens in front of her. “Erica and the sheriff just pulled up to the building.”

Derek waited for a call to tell him that they’d picked up a scent or something. He couldn’t see what they were doing so long as they were behind the building. A few tense minutes passed in silence before Boyd’s phone rang. He looked at the ID and tossed it to Derek.

“Anything?”

“We found the van.” The sheriff sighed. “Erica says the scent leads from the van to another parking space.”

“So they switched cars.” Derek confirmed Chris’s theory.

“Seems like. I’m going inside to see if anyone knows anything about who was parked there. If we find the make and model, we can track it on the cameras.”

They disconnected the call and Derek went back to watching the screens.

“In the time since the van arrived and the sheriff arrived there were seventeen cars that came from that direction.” Lydia began. “We could try to track them all, but it would be easier if we could narrow it down.”

“The sheriff’s working on that.” Derek told her.

“What should we do in the meantime?” Allison asked.

“Wait. Hope for good news.” Chris advised.

“You don’t know where they’d be hiding?” Derek demanded. “No idea?”

Chris glared reproachfully. “I can think of a few things they’d want, but there’s no guarantee they’d even stay in Beacon Hills.”

“Anything would help though.” Scott jumped in before Derek could lose what little temper he had left.

“An isolated building away from prying eyes, something with structure, preferably concrete or stone, likely abandoned.” Chris listed.

Isaac groaned. “There’s abandoned buildings all over Beacon Hills.”

“I don’t think they’ll stay in town,” Chris countered, “but they won’t go too far either. They focus on witches, but if they think the Pack is a threat, they may decide to use Stiles as bait to get the rest of the Pack.”

Boyd’s phone rang again.

“You have the car?”

“This building is abandoned, there’s no one inside.” The sheriff sounded very frustrated.

“Has Erica been able to isolate a scent to follow?” Derek asked.

“Cars, oil, exhaust. It all blends once they get in the car.” She growled. “But I have their scent from when they switched.”

Derek shook his head, even though she couldn’t see it. “Good enough. Get back to the loft, we’ll have to try something else.”

The Pack was silent while Derek thought. What else could they try? They needed more information.

“How many?” Derek directed his glare at Argent.

Chris considered for a moment. “There were six. If they brought anyone outside the family, I never saw them.”

“Seven.” Allison corrected. “Don’t forget Sam.”

Chris frowned. “She’s younger than you--”

“That doesn’t mean anything.” Allison shook her head. “She’s one of them.”

“Seven then.”

Derek sighed, and turned to the elves. “How long do you think it will take for Stiles to regain strength after depleting his magic?”

Leeloo looked a little nervous. “What did he do to deplete his magic?”

“Does it matter?” Lydia asked, before Derek could snap at her.

“It does not.” Hatholdes answered, looking to Leeloo in reprimand.

Leeloo shrugged. “I don’t have a solid estimate, but if I had to guess… if he was able to rest or meditate or,” she grimaced, “even if he were unconscious, he should regain most if not all of his reserves by dawn.”

“That soon?” Lydia asked. Derek agreed, he’d seen Stiles sleep off a magical depletion much less severe than this one for twelve or more hours.

“Normally, it would take much longer,” Avorndir nodded, “but dawn is powerful. It’s a renewal.”

“It wouldn’t be enough to rejuvenate him on its own, but it’s nine hours away. He’ll have regained much of it on his own before the sunrise.” Leeloo added.

Derek nodded, understanding. “We need to find him before then.”

Lydia and Danny worked on tracking the seventeen cars that left the blind spot in the allotted time, but it would take time. Derek wanted to do something now but there was nothing he could do short of pick a part of town and start searching, hoping to pick up Stiles’ scent. He had to trust that his tech savvy Pack members would find a trail.

When Erica and the sheriff returned, Erica wasted no time.

“Can you hack into a business’ records?” She demanded.

Danny nodded. “Probably.”

“I didn’t hear that.” The sheriff muttered.

Derek felt for him, but he honestly cared very little how they found Stiles, so long as they did.

“The van’s owned by the hunters,” Erica continued, kneeling between Lydia and Danny to get a look at their computer screens, “it’s way too saturated with their scent to be a rental, but I’ll bet that the car they switched to is.”

“What makes you say that?” Chris frowned.

Erica glanced at him over her shoulder in mild disdain before turning back to the screens, “An out of state license plate stands out too much, they’ll want to blend in as much as possible while they’ve got an unconscious teen in the back of their car. Similarly, they won’t risk using a stolen car for the same reasons, especially since Stiles is the sheriff’s kid. Every cop in town would recognize him immediately. They could just switch the plates, but a rental would make it harder for us to track by scent.”

“They could have scent maskers.” Chris objected.

Erica sighed and pointed to Scott, indicating he should answer that one. Scott straightened his shoulders a little and nodded, following where Erica’s mind had gone. “If none of them are magic users, then anything that would mask a scent would be an item making it unfocused, and to be strong enough to mask a whole car, we could follow the absence of a scent where one should normally be.”

“Bingo.” Erica smirked.

“There are three car rentals in Beacon County.” Lydia supplied, fingers moving fast across her phone.

“If they’re using an alias, we might not find them.” Danny murmured, already typing fervently.

Lydia shook her head. “We may not need to. Just check which cars are off the lot and we can cross reference that list with the seventeen cars leaving the switch point at the right time. Hopefully narrow the search.”

“Right.” Danny agreed. “Assuming they used one of the rental agencies in Beacon County.”

“One problem at a time.” Derek sighed.

Cross referencing the rental cars cut the list in half. None of the used names matched the Campbell’s or any alias’ that Chris knew of, but it was a start. With only nine cars to track, the task of following them all before dawn became significantly less daunting. Everyone waited, on edge, while Danny and Lydia tracked vehicles. Scott and Allison managed to make everyone eat something around two in the morning, and the sheriff made Lydia and Danny switch out with himself and Erica, ordering them to rest their eyes and eat. Those who weren’t in front of the computers napped on and off while they could.

At four, the list of possible cars was down to two, both of which fell off the grid when they left the urban and suburban centers. One was headed south, the other east. Either direction was plausible given the previous list of requirements.

“What now?” Scott asked.

“We have clear shots of their license plates, I could send out a couple patrol cars. Locate but do not engage.” The sheriff suggested.

Boyd frowned. “Won’t that be suspicious?”

“I don’t particularly care at this point. We need to find Stiles.”

“Wherever they’ve gone, they’ve got a head start of,” Chris looked at his watch and the timestamp on the video footage, “five hours. They could be well out of your jurisdiction.”

Lydia called up a map of Northern California, ran a few quick calculations, and drew a large red circle around Beacon Hills. “That’s our reliable area. Within that, and knowing which direction they left, we’re looking at something closer to,” she colored in the west and north quadrants, “this.”

“It must be closer to an urban area.” Hatholdes pointed at expanses of forest still within the viable areas. “Our scouts are watching the woods.”

Lydia obediently colored in the forests. The remaining areas were… not small, but not impossible either.

“Not all of it is forests.” Erica shook her head. “There’s plenty of land that’s outside of the cities and the trees.”

“Too open to risk exposure.” Leeloo nodded. “If he’s there, we would not see him.”

Then the ley lines shifted.

All the wolves, the elves, and--oddly--Lydia wobbled where they stood or sat. Derek seemed to be the only one that noticed, aside from Lydia herself, and he didn’t have time or energy to spare on contemplating it. He filed it away for now.

“Impeccable timing, as always.” Isaac grumbled.

“That was a big one.” Leeloo sounded worried.

“A shift?” The sheriff guessed.

“We’ll need to handle whatever came through.” Chris declared.

Derek growled, impatient. He knew that whatever came through needed to be dealt with, especially if it was as big a shift as Leeloo seemed concerned about, but he needed; to find Stiles. Fighting his primal instincts with his human intellect was never usually as hard as it was right in that moment.

He was so distracted in his struggle that he almost missed the smell of elation that poured off of Scott. Confused, he glanced up, restraining the urge to snarl--just barely--and asked, “What’s got you in such a good mood?”

“Something Stiles said.” Scott grinned. “He started to notice that whatever comes through usually appears around him or not very far. The shifts are drawn to his magic; the stronger the shift, the stronger the draw. So, if we find what came through--”

“We find Stiles.” Derek finished.

“About damn time.” Jackson’s eyes flashed. Derek could sense his vehemence along the bond, shared and fed by his own and the other wolves. They were all ready to retrieve their stolen Packmate.

Derek turned to the elves to ask for help in locating the intruders, but they were already on it. Avorndir held a mirror in his hand and seemed to be communication through it, giving hurried orders in a language Derek didn’t recognize. He didn’t hear a response, but one must have come through anyway because Avorndir nodded and replied.

“The sprites reported seeing the spawning.” He relayed to Hatholdes.

She acknowledged with a nod and turned to the map. “The sprites are here, in the eastern forest.” She pointed to a specific location. “They did not report seeing the Bruxa, but if you are correct, he will not be far.”

“Do we know what came through?” Lydia asked.

“They didn’t recognize it, but that’s not saying much.” Avorndir shook his head. “They’re useful for finding something specific and familiar, like Stiles, but they’re not very knowledgeable about things outside their interests.”

“But that rules out Fae.” Leeloo contributed.

“Just the one?” Chris asked.

The elf nodded. “That they saw.”

“Do we have any idea what it is? Any details?” Lydia snapped.

Avorndir nodded. “Quadruped, odd head, tail. If I had to take a guess? Maybe a griffon? Hippogriff?”

Hathodes scoffed. “You’re far more optimistic than I am.”

“We know where it is,” Derek growled, “we can debate what it is later. Let’s move.”

To his surprise, Lydia followed with the others. When Derek gave her a look, she rolled her eyes. “Next to Stiles, I’m the most familiar with the bestiary; I might be able to identify what it is when I see it.”

“If I say get down--”

“I kiss dirt, so to speak.”

Derek huffed a small laugh before he could stop it.

It was a small caravan that tore out of the parking lot, but Derek didn’t care. If it meant getting Stiles back safely, he’d take an army if it was available.

Derek ordered Lydia and the Sheriff to keep close to the elves as they made their way into the forest. Argent, Allison, Scott, Jackson, and Isaac were in another group, while he lead Peter, Boyd, Erica, and Danny. The three groups stayed within reasonable contact distance while they fanned out to search, but there was a lot of ground to cover. Derek worried it would take too long; dawn was approaching, and they still weren’t exactly sure where Stiles was.

Happily, it didn’t take too long for the wolves to catch a scent. Whatever it was, it did not smell normal, and left an easy trail for them to follow. As they neared, it became a little harder to pinpoint an exact location. The creature must have paced or stalked around the same path since it arrived, so the scent was prevalent throughout the area.

“These are not the tracks of a griffon or hippogriff.” Hatholdes touched the ground lightly as she examined the tracks. “I recommend caution; this creature is not docile.”

“Do you hear that?” Isaac frowned in concentration.

Derek stilled in an attempt to listen more closely.

“Is that whistling?” Scott asked. “Do animals whistle like that?”

“Not in my experience.” Avorndir murmured.

The group broke through a line of trees to a less dense area of forest. There was more space to move, but less direct visibility. Overgrown shrubs and grass made for perfect hiding spots, and the forest thickened again not too far away.

“Is that a person?” Allison nodded toward a large bush.

Derek followed her gaze. In the mass of leaves and branches there was a small space where he could get a look at what was hiding in the shrub. It did, indeed, look to be a human looking back at them with big blue eyes.

Allison took a careful step forward.

“No!” Lydia shouted. “It’s a manticore, get back!”

The face shifted, focused on Lydia and glowered before emitting an unnatural snarl. It jumped out of the shrub, revealing a lionlike body with a human head and large scorpion tail. When it landed, the manticore launched spikes from its tail, sending them toward Lydia and the others in her group. Avorndir raised his shield to the projectiles, Hatholdes swept her axes blindingly fast, cutting a few more out of the air, while Leeloo shouted a word Derek didn’t recognize and erected a semi-solid dome around herself and the sheriff. It would have protected Lydia too, but the redhead had moved toward Allison when giving her warning and fell just out of range of the dome.

A small cry, the sound of knees hitting dirt, and the sharp smell of blood meant at least one needle found its target. Derek couldn’t waste time to see if Lydia was okay; he trusted that Jackson or Allison would take care of her while he dealt with the manticore.

Derek tackled it as it attempted to pounce on Lydia. A second thump meant that Boyd had had the same idea. They both collided with the manticore in the air, but even together, they were only able to alter its path slightly. Instead of landing on Lydia, the manticore landed a couple feet to the left, directly in range of Hatholdes and her axes. Derek quickly dodged a swipe from one of the clawed paws, breaking contact to roll out of the way. He had to roll again to dodge another spray of spikes.

Boyd grunted to his right, and didn’t get back up. Derek heard his heartbeat, he was still alive, but he wasn’t moving much.

Avorndir and Hatholdes were in the fight in earnest, harassing the manticore while Leeloo maintained a barrier around Lydia, the sheriff, and herself. Danny and Erica were playing snake charmer with the tail, dodging and attacking in sync to keep it occupied. Scott, Isaac, Jackson, and Peter were moving in as they could, scoring shallow hits along its flank.

Derek pulled Scott away from the fight, nudging him toward Boyd as he took his place. Isaac pushed Jackson out of the way of a claw he didn’t see coming, and the manticore took the opportunity to knock Hatholdes and Avorndir aside to get to the barrier. It hit against it repeatedly, and Derek could see Leeloo inside, struggling to keep it intact. Derek jumped onto the manticore’s back and pulled its head back by the matted hair, directing its focus away from the weakening spell and humans within.

Back on their feet, the elves returned to their place in front of the barrier, while Jackson and Isaac began tearing at tendons in the manticore’s back legs as best they could. Argent and Allison each had a cluster of arrows embedded near the hip joints, slowing the legs a little. Erica and Danny had the tail pinned against the ground, but they couldn’t do much more than hold it down; it kept the manticore from aiming, but it still had the ability to launch spikes if it desired.

Despite their combined effort, however, it didn’t seem to be doing much more than slowing the manticore. No wolf had scored more than a superficial wound, but the manticore had cut--and cut deeply--most of the wolves.

\Peter droned. “Claws aren’t doing much.”

“This hide is too thick!” Jackson added.

“It’s weakest at the neck where the human head meets the lion body.” Lydia informed them.

She was standing up, Leeloo’s scarf pressed against her shoulder to staunch the flow of blood, removed manticore spike gripped tightly in her other hand. Other than the blood, she didn’t seem adversely affected by the injury. Derek looked back at Boyd who was still out on the ground where he’d fallen. Everyone who’d noticed she was still standing seemed confused, but Derek shook himself from it and refocused.

He couldn’t get enough leverage to pull the head back far enough to get to the soft spot by just gripping the hair, and he’d cover up the soft spot if he tried to grab under the jaw. Instead, Derek grit his teeth and swiped his claws across the manticore’s eyes; when it screamed in pain, he shoved his forearm into its mouth and lifted, ignoring the razor sharp teeth sinking into his flesh. Hatholdes was quick to slice her axes into the exposed soft spot once it became accessible, killing the beast at last.

Derek extracted his arm with a grunt. “Boyd?”

“He’s alive, but I think he’s paralyzed.” Scott relayed.

Leeloo let go of the barrier and stumbled. The sheriff caught her, lifting her into his arms when it became obvious she was too exhausted to stand on her own. Lydia grabbed her hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze as she walked toward Boyd.

“It’s the manticore poison; take the needle out and he should heal.” She ordered.

“Why weren’t you affected?” Hatholdes asked.

"Maybe it works differently on humans?” Scott supplied.

Argent shook his head. “Humans are a manticore’s favored prey, Scott.”

“Maybe she isn’t human.” Avorndir murmured too low for human ears.

“Does it matter?” Jackson snapped. “She’s fine, it’s dead, and Stiles is still missing.”

The sheriff nodded. “Jackson’s right. One thing at a time.”

“Right.” Lydia passed the bloody scarf to Allison temporarily while she twisted up her hair and used the manticore spike to hold it. She took the scarf back with a smile and set her shoulders. “Which way?”

“I recognize this forest.” Argent answered. “There’s an old abandoned mill just beyond the edge of the forest; about a half a mile west. It was converted into a hunter safehouse.”

“You didn’t mention this sooner because...?” Danny asked.

Argent frowned. “Hunters have safehouses everywhere. I didn’t know it would be this one until we were here.”

“Convenient.” Peter accused.

“Focus!” Derek snapped. “Stiles is priority.”

“Go.” Lydia agreed. “Allison and I will take Leeloo back to the loft.”

Derek did a quick assessment of his betas. Their wounds were healing; even Boyd was finally getting to his feet. “Isaac, go with them.”

The curly haired beta looked almost ready to protest, but nodded instead. He took Leeloo from the sheriff and left, flanked by Lydia and Allison.

Argent led the way through the forest to the safehouse. Derek followed close behind, urged on by the sky which had just begun to lighten with the first true rays of dawn. As the trees thinned again, Derek could see the building in the distance, illuminated by the sun. Stiles would have his magic back.

“There!” Scott called, a little needlessly.

Derek pulled ahead, but he only got a few steps before the ground began to shake. The building ahead began to crumble before his eyes.

“That is impressive.” Peter whistled.

“A controlled deconstruction.” Hatholdes assessed.

“Very controlled.” Avorndir agreed. “Look, you can track his progress through the building.”

“Run now, talk later.” Derek took off again, eager to get to Stiles before he did something more than take out a building.

~~~

He found her in the armory. She was decked out in knives and body armor, waiting for him. The first knife she threw turned around and cut cleanly through the straps binding the armor before lodging itself in the floor at her feet. The armor joined it as it slid off, no longer functional. The second knife--thrown almost as quick as the first--made a sharp 90 degree turn and planted itself firmly in the ceiling next to her mother’s head.

The building shook and rattled as it came down. The armory remained intact so long as Stiles was in it, but there was nothing left beyond the four walls around them. In the stillness and silence that followed the last crumbling piece, Sam stood, shaking like a leaf, glancing rapidly between her family, the exit, and Stiles.

Her eyes widened in abject fear when all of the knives she carried removed themselves from their sheaths and pinned her to the wall by her clothes as Stiles watched, completely still.

“Have I answered your question?”

She nodded shakily.

“Now answer mine. Who told you about me?”

“He’ll kill me.”

The knife in the floor extracted itself and hovered dangerously close to her throat. “Little girl, if you don’t tell me,” the walls and ceiling vaporized, leaving them all in the open amid the ruins of what used to be a repurposed mill. “I’ll kill you, and then I’ll move on through the rest of your relatives until I find one who will answer me.”

“Stiles!”

He shook the voice out of his head; he wasn’t there, would never be again.

The knife pressed against Sam’s skin. “Who?”

“Please.” She begged.

“Stiles, don’t!”

Stiles grit his teeth and growled, “Why should I take pity on you? Any of you? You’re murderers, torturers. Monsters.” The knife that had been in the ceiling circled around to mirror its mate against Sam’s mother’s throat.

“You can’t blame me for how I was raised! I didn’t choose to be born into a hunting family, but the laws and Code protect people, I only did what was right!” She challenged. “I am what I was made to be.”

“I should kill you all.”

“Dammit Stiles, stop!

“Then you’d be a monster too.”

He shrugged. “I am what I was made to be.”

The ground shook with the deafening sound. He recognized the sound; he felt it in his bones. The howl of an alpha calling to a lost Pack member. The call pulled at his mind, his hold on his Bruxa abilities slipped a little, forced him to focus on something other than the hunters and his pain, and it forced the Pack bonds open. He dropped to his hands and knees with the flood of emotions that swarmed through the link.

“Stiles.”

His grumpy, worried, beautiful face filled Stiles’ vision as a warm, solid hand drew his gaze away from the ground.

“Derek.” Stiles croaked. “You’re alive.”

A distant part of his brain noticed Chris, the elves, and his dad rounding up the Campbell’s where they’d fallen, but all he cared about was that Derek was in front of him, alive and whole. He thought he’d never see him again, was sure the hunters had killed him. Yet here he was, dragging Stiles to his feet, crushing him in a hug. All he could do was hug back, he just didn’t have the strength to do anything else. If the dragon burst forth from the ground and rained holy hell upon Beacon Hills in that moment, Stiles would stand there hugging Derek, breathing in his scent, listening to his quiet words of comfort and let the world burn. Nothing else mattered.

The rest of the world had to come back eventually, though. The Pack was circling, waiting their turn to check on him, make sure he was okay. When Derek finally pulled out of the hug, Scott was the first one to jump in his place.

“I’m okay, Scotty.” Stiles promised.

“You’re not allowed to do that ever again.” Scott scolded.

Stiles scoffed. “Getting kidnapped wasn’t exactly my idea.”

“No. Ass.” Erica shoved his shoulder before pulling him for a hug of her own. “You cut us out. We couldn’t feel you at all.”

“Yeah, well. I had my reasons.” Stiles hedged.

The others took their turn touching and hugging, reassuring themselves with physical contact that Stiles was okay and safe. When they managed to restrain themselves again, his dad took his turn.

“Kiddo, you’re going to give me a heart attack.”

“Don’t even joke.” Stiles shook his head. “Or I’ll put you on a vegetarian diet.”

“The hunters?” Derek asked.

“Alive and unharmed.” The sheriff confirmed. “Chris is talking to them, trying to find out how they learned about Stiles.”

Stiles took his magic kit from Derek with a grateful sigh. “I doubt they’ll spill easily.”

“Give Mr. Argent a shot; they might talk to a hunter more willingly.” Scott offered.

With a little help from Hatholdes and Avorndir, Chris had ziptied all the hunters and packed them into their rental that was parked not too far from what was left of the mill. He promised to fill the Pack in on what he learned before driving away.

“For the moment, I recommend retreating to the loft, see how the others are doing.” The sheriff suggested once the car was on its way.

Derek nodded. He motioned to the Pack to move while he followed behind with Stiles, filling him in on the manticore and how the Pack had found him. The hike back to the cars was long and somewhere on the drive back to civilization, Stiles fell asleep.

When he awoke, he was in Derek’s bed at the loft. Thinking of Derek, Stiles frantically searched for him, he still had to make sure he was really alive, that it wasn’t a dream. The wolf sat in a chair by the bed, absently spinning a vile between his thumb and index finger.

Stiles sighed in relief, “Not a dream; good.”

Derek smiled. “Afternoon.”

“What’s that?” Stiles nodded to the vile.

The twirling stopped and Derek lifted it a little higher so that Stiles could see it clearly. It was a vile from his kit, but unopened. “Yours.”

“Why is it out of the kit if you didn’t use it?” Stiles wondered.

“There are some things I need to tell you.” Derek admitted seriously. “About what happened when… when I died.”

“You couldn’t’ve died, Derek. I mean, you’re here, you’re alive; you can’t just choose to come back to life like Peter--” Stiles objected.

Derek shook his head. “I was dead, Stiles. You know it, you felt it. They all did.”

“Then how?”

“You brought me back. You used just about every drop of magic you had to do it, too.” Derek explained.

Stiles thought about it. He had been severely depleted when he’d first awoken; he’d assumed it was a spell or something used against him, but if what Derek said was true… The memory of Derek lying on the asphalt broken and twisted flashed before his eyes. He’d been dead. Derek was right, he had felt the loss via the connection. Stiles had wished it weren’t true, had begged and pleaded, and, apparently, his magic had responded.

“Stiles.” Derek’s hand on his brought him back to the now. “You saved my life--”

“Again.”

Derek glared a little. “And I’m grateful, but I have to talk to you about something important that happened while I was dead.”

“What? You see the pearly gates or something?” Stiles hedged. He didn’t think he really wanted to know about the afterlife.

“This is serious, Stiles.” Derek scolded gently. “I saw Laura and… your mother.”

Stiles felt like the rug had been swept out from under him. “Why?”

“They had a message for me. Ceridwen told me why you’re having trouble focusing your abilities.”

“The ADD. We knew that.”

“The ADD isn’t natural; it’s a spell. Your mother placed it on you when you were young to hinder your control so that you wouldn’t be able to use your ability before you were old enough to use it responsibly. She’d planned to remove it when you got older, but--”

“She died.”

Derek nodded. “She taught me how to undo the spell.”

“That’s what the vial is for.” Stiles guessed.

“Exactly.”

“...Don’t.”

Derek frowned. “Stiles…”

“Don’t undo it.” Stiles felt the burn at the back of his throat that heralded tears, but he forced himself to talk through it. “If it’s in my blood, it’s like… I’m carrying a piece of her with me, right? Why would I get rid of that?”

“You need to master the Bruxa magic.”

“You keep saying that, but I raised the dead! How much more control do I really need?” Stiles shook his head.

“Power isn’t the same as control. You and I both know that.” Derek refuted.

“No. Please, don’t make me get rid of her.”

]Derek moved from the chair to the bed; he held Stiles’ face gently and looked him in the eye. “I would never ask you to get rid of what you have left of your mom, but this spell isn’t what you carry of her. You have her eyes, you have everything she taught you, and you have your magic. She gave it to you, and she wants you to use it to the best of your ability.”

He was right. Of course. It still felt like a loss though. As much as Derek’s argument made sense, Stiles wasn’t quite ready to give up this piece of his mom that he’d only just discovered. “Don’t suppose I could convince you to let me keep it anyway?”

“Stiles,” Derek shook his head regretfully, “they told me you’d need the spell removed to deal with the dragon.”

Damn. Stiles let Derek brush away the stray tears that had escaped. “You could have opened with that.” He mumbled.

“I could have.” Derek agreed. “But everything I said is true, and you needed to hear it rather than an ultimatum.”

Stiles agreed with a slight nod. He would have felt cheated and angry; at least this way, he could see it as mostly his choice.

Derek gave him a kiss before unstopping the vial. He poured just a small pool into his palm and concentrated. Stiles opened his link to Derek a little wider to help him like he had when Derek had had to reverse the gorgon’s spell. Via the link, Stiles could sense what Derek was looking for when he found it. A familiar hand on his cheek, the smell of his mom baking in the kitchen, and the sound of lively music echoed down the bond. Stiles bit his lip to keep from crying out, but he smiled too; it was really nice to feel those again. That was his mom.

When the reversal was done he didn’t feel particularly different. He wasn’t sure what he was expecting, but he expected… something to be different. Derek just cured his ADD, after all.

“I don’t suggest trying anything yet. You’re still recovering.”

“I feel fine.”

Derek ignored him. “You’re on bed rest for today.”

“Bed rest.”

"Yes.”

“But it’s Thanksgiving!”

Derek gave him a Look. “I’ll bring you food.”

“Derek,” he grabbed Derek’s arm as he tried to stand. He couldn’t… it was still too fresh. The emptiness of the bond being severed was haunting the corners of his mind. He didn’t want Derek to leave his sight.

Something of what he was feeling must have leaked through the connection, because Derek’s features softened in understanding and he sat back down on the bed.

“If I have to stay in this bed, fine, but then so do you. You were d-” he swallowed and tried again, “dead and I don’t care if Castiel brought you back, you need rest too. So get in this bed and, just so you know, it’s going to take a lot of convincing for me to let you back out, so get comfy.”

Derek smirked, but complied after kicking his shoes off. He tucked Stiles close to his chest, resting a warm hand over Stiles’ beating heart; his thumb rubbed a soothing track over Stiles’ skin. Derek’s other arm wrapped protectively around his waist, keeping him flush to his chest. It was pleasant and warm and real and Stiles about shook with relief.

The past seventeen hours had felt like ages, and he was still sifting through his own mind in an attempt to decipher his feelings on what had happened. He’d been out of his mind with rage and grief and nothing had mattered but his goal at the time. Now that it was over, now that he had Derek and his Pack again, Stiles had to face what he’d done and almost done. He hadn’t hurt anyone, but he had wanted to, probably would have if the others hadn’t arrived when they did. Thinking on it, Stiles knew--resolutely knew--that if it came down to it, he would kill for his Pack. To protect them, Stiles would gladly do what he needed to. Killing for vengeance… was a different matter. Part of him recognized that. A voice that sounded remarkably like Scott, reminded him that he wasn’t a murderer. Another part of him… didn’t care. That voice whispered dark promises of revenge and justice to any who harmed his Pack.

Shouldn’t he be more concerned about that than he was? Instead, he just felt like it was basic knowledge. The sky is blue. Water is wet. Harm his friends, he harms you. Simple. Should it be that simple?

Derek rumbled behind him. “You’re thinking too much.”

Stiles smiled and shelved the inner discussion for another day. “Maybe you should take my mind off it then.”

He felt the vibrations of Derek growling quietly, suggestively. “We’re supposed to be resting.”

“We won’t get out of bed. Promise.” Stiles grinned.

Derek sighed, amused. “The Pack will be here soon for dinner.”

“Because it’s Thanksgiving.” Stiles realized.

“Yes.”

“Well then let me give thanks.” Stiles twisted and squirmed until he was facing Derek, absently dampening the information they sent out on the pack bonds. He didn’t cut them off--that would be cruel after the day they’d had--but he still didn’t want to project all over everybody . “I lost you, and it nearly killed me. Now you’re back, and…”

Derek kissed him, cutting him off. It was just a simple meeting of lips, but it was warm and sweet and just purely Derek. Stiles deepened the kiss after a moment, pushing forward to get on top of Derek. Hands went to his waist, teasing just under the hemline of his shirt. They didn’t do more than kiss for while, just enjoying the ability to be in the same space, that they were both here and alive. To his surprise, Derek was the one who upped the ante. The hands on his waist moved up to remove his shirt, forcing them to break the kiss temporarily. When the shirt was gone, Derek moved to leave trails of kisses along Stiles’ jaw and neck. Stiles ran his fingers through Derek’s hair, encouraging his exploration with gentle and not so gentle tugs, scraping his nails tantalizingly across Derek’s scalp. When Derek reached Stiles’ collarbone, he rolled them over. Now on top, he had more access to Stiles’ bare chest. While he toyed with Stiles’ sensitive sides--too light to hurt, too hard to tickle--Stiles writhed under him. Eventually, Stiles regained enough coherent thought to tug at Derek’s shirt until it, too, came off.

Stiles was achingly hard. He was straining at his jeans and wanted desperately to take them off or something to relieve the pressure. Seemingly reading his mind, Derek slid a hand down to undo the button and fly of Stiles’ jeans. He pulled them down enough to reveal the triskele tattoo that matched his own and began to kiss and nip at Stiles’ hips. Stiles let him inhale deeply, savoring Stiles’ scent, before pulling him up to kiss his mouth again. While they were thusly occupied, Stiles shimmied out of his jeans and then pulled at the sweats that Derek was wearing.

Which is how Stiles discovered that Derek wasn’t wearing underwear.

Stiles grabbed hold of Derek’s shaft and he dropped his head into the crook of Stiles’ neck, breathing deeply while Stiles gave him a few slow strokes.

“So when you say ‘soon’…” Stiles teased, ceasing his movements.

“Long enough.” Derek growled, voice rough with arousal. He pulled Stiles’ underwear off, tossing it to the side with the rest of their clothes.

Stiles chuckled quietly, but continued his previous attentions. Derek bit a mark into his skin just above his glyphs, eliciting a moan from Stiles, much to Derek’s apparent pleasure. In revenge, Stiles quickly channeled his magic and willed some lube onto his hand. His rough strokes turned into smooth glides in a blink, and Derek gasped silently. When he recovered, he gave Stiles an incredulous look. Stiles just looked at him innocently and gave a slight twist to his next up stroke.

Maybe he should have saved his first use of his Bruxa abilities for something… else, but fuck it. This way he didn’t have to stop what he was doing.

Not long after that, Derek pushed Stiles’ hand away so that he could reposition himself lower. He bit a mark onto Stiles’ hipbone, making a face when it disappeared quickly. Stiles chortled at him, because it was adorable. His amusement was cut short when his dick was suddenly enveloped completely in warm, wet, heat as Derek took him in his mouth. Stiles relished the sensation as Derek took his time giving the best head of his--admittedly limited--sexual experience. He felt the pressure at the base of his spine build as he got closer and closer to climax, but whenever he got close to the point of no return, Derek would ease up and back off, never quite letting him fall over the edge. Stiles praised and cursed him in the same breath over and over, unable to keep quiet even if he’d wanted to. Derek certainly didn’t seem to care that he was making a rucas. Indeed, if the hums of pleasure--which didn’t help Stiles at all--were anything to go by, he enjoyed that Stiles was so thoroughly enjoying himself.

Stiles whimpered when Derek stopped. “Why… no stop.”

The bastard smirked at that but shook his head. He crawled his way back up to Stiles and captured his mouth in a roguish kiss. Their tongues danced a competitive tango, each vying for lead and possession of the other. Then Derek cheated when he lined their bodies just right and wrapped one hand around both of their shafts, setting a tempo to match their kiss.

“I, ah… I’m going to come if you don’t knock it off.” Stiles panted.

“That not the goal?” Derek teased.

Stiles stuck his tongue out at him. “Derek…”

He knew what he wanted, but it was something they hadn’t done yet. In the months since they’d started dating, they’d traded blow jobs, hand jobs, and come together in just the fashion that Derek was clearly working toward, but they hadn’t gone further. They’d discussed it, agreed that they both wanted it, but between classes, homework, training, and the shifts they’d never really had the time. It wasn’t something that either of them wanted to hurry through; fevered hand jobs and hot blow jobs in the shower were one thing, but they needed more time to take it slow when they tried anything else.

After yesterday… Stiles didn’t want to wait for convenient timing anymore. He wanted to be as close as they could get.

Plus it sounded awesome.

“Not that way. I wanna try…” the thought of it made him hold tight against the urge to orgasm. Derek’s hand was still wrapped around both of them. “You inside me.”

“Not the other way around? It’s easier the first time to be the one--”

“No. I trust you.”

Derek lifted his hands to hold Stiles’ face and kissed him. It wasn’t the first time Stiles had told him that, but Derek always responded with the same sense of wonderment that Stiles was feeling through their bond.

Without further talking on either part, Derek’s hands began to roam down, pausing only to gather some of the magically created lube from Stiles with one hand. His other hand moved to help Stiles turn over, but Stiles shook his head and resisted. He wanted to see Derek. Derek nodded in understanding and instead moved his hand down Stiles’ thigh, gently widening the space between his legs and settling in between. Stiles helped by pulling his other knee up and out. Before the slightest twinge of insecurity or nervous vulnerability could set in, the feelings of lust and--Stiles wasn’t sure what to call it. Reverence? Yes--reverence coming through the bond from Derek, smothered the impulse.

Lube coated fingers traced the skin of Stiles’ perineum as Derek simultaneously leaned down to kiss him, perhaps thinking to distract Stiles from the feeling of one finger tracing his rim. Stiles didn’t really care to be distracted--he wanted to feel everything--but no opportunity to kiss Derek was to be missed either.

He was aware that his hands clutched a little too tight on Derek’s back as one finger slowly--so slowly! They didn’t want to hurry, but they could go faster than this!--entered him. Stiles heard himself babbling things like ‘more’ and ‘feels good’ but elected to let his mouth do what it wanted as he focused on Derek. He focused on Derek’s lips against his, which eventually became panting cheek to cheek as more and more of Derek’s focus shifted to his fingers in Stiles. He focused on Derek’s other hand clenching just a little too hard on his thigh, probably leaving bruises. He definitely focused on the feel of Derek stretching him. He was so careful, tender, so desperate to make sure he wasn’t hurting Stiles as his fingers--two now--gently stroked before slowly scissoring until he could fit a third.

Stiles especially focused on the bond reverberating back and forth between the two of them. He’d spent his whole life alone in his head, and hadn’t expected a return to that feeling to feel so empty and incomplete. Though that was only a fleeting thought compared to the overwhelming, crushing grief and absolute, chilling rage that had filled him instead at the knowledge that Derek was dead.

No. No, he was alive and here, and Stiles could feel him, feel the way his breath flowed against his skin, feel the way his skin brushed against his, the way his hand clenched at him and his other hand worked him open, and the mate bond pulsed with life. He wanted to wrap that feeling around him and never let go. He had no idea what his mouth was saying, but he knew that his side of the bond was sending desperate need and ‘never leave me again’ over and over, a feeling that was fully reciprocated. The feeling of Derek’s wonder and lust and trust and--yes--love through the connection between them finally let Stiles believe fully that, despite the horrible memory of what it felt like for Derek to die, he was here and alive and his.

Then Derek’s fingers left him, and Stiles couldn’t help the urge to bear down on nothing. Derek made soothing, encouraging noises in his ear and quickly made sure that his cock was slick before carefully--Stiles was really going to have to work on that with him later, clearly--guiding himself in and stilling.

It was not like the feeling of fingers had been. Despite his urgency, Stiles did take the moment Derek gave him to adjust to the feeling before indicating his readiness by thrusting his hips upward. Derek’s hands tightened briefly before he took the hint and started to move.

However, their desperation for each other was tempered by too much thankful adoration to let their love making to be anything but love making, tender and slow but intense. Derek’s thrusts were purposeful, and he took the time to feel every movement. Stiles felt himself just trying to get as close as possible with every return push upward.

Eventually, Derek did start moving a little more frantically as he came close to coming, and he moved his still slick hand to Stiles’s straining cock to make sure he didn’t come before Stiles. He did try to draw it out even more, but it didn’t take long before he was coming all over both of them. He made sure to clench down on Derek, wanting to bring the other man with him and succeeding. Or perhaps Derek merely stopped trying to resist coming. Either way, with only a few more slightly less coordinated thrusts and what was almost a purring sound--Stiles made sure to file that sound away with his favorite things--Derek orgasmed, still inside Stiles. He managed to avoid collapsing right on top of him, but only by a slight margin. Stiles wasn’t complaining. More skin contact was awesome.

Derek gently pulled out and turned onto his side. Another thing getting filed away with Stiles’ favorite things? The look on the other man’s face. Stiles would say that Derek needed to smile that soft smile all the time, but no, it was just for him. No one else could have it.

Chapter Text

The Pack arrived shortly after the two of them cleaned up and got dressed. Apparently a friend’s traumatic, near death experience was a valid reason for everyone’s parents to allow them to eat with friends rather than family because the whole Pack showed up for Thanksgiving dinner. It turned out to be a bit of a pot luck, everyone brought something with them, and the last to arrive was Scott and Mama McCall with the turkey.

Stiles basked in the glow of emotions coming off everyone, and couldn’t help but be a little manic in his happiness. He may or may not have smeared whip cream on Derek’s nose, and it’s entirely possible he and Scott started a food fight with the tiny marshmallows in the fruit salad. It was loud, it was delicious, it was everything that Thanksgiving was supposed to be and it was fantastic.

It was also the last bit of joviality the Pack would have for a long while.

The coming weeks were a toll on everyone’s nerves. Shifts came headless of the hour; those members of the Pack not in school were constantly on patrol, and if it weren’t for Chris helping the Pack, Stiles was sure there would have been an incident with the townsfolk by now.

When school finally ended, it was met with little relief. It was just another marker of the progression of time and how little of it they had left. They’d been warned that their deadline was before the end of December and the end of December was fast approaching. They needed something, and they needed it now.

As it was, Stiles barely slept, always on guard for another shift or a call from the Elders. He used his Bruxa abilities to keep his body healthy on only two hours of fitful rest a night, much to the displeasure of both Derek and the sheriff. They argued. It couldn’t be helped though.

One such evening where both Derek and Stiles’ dad were trying to talk him into sleeping for at least six hours, a shift sent Stiles falling down the stairs. He was fine, he mostly slid on his ass the whole way down, so he leapt to his feet and looked to Derek for insight as to where or what.

He didn’t have to wait long.

The sheriff was actually the one to point out the visitor. He had a good line of sight through the windows and saw whatever it was outside, in the front yard. Stiles thanked whoever was listening that it was close to the wee hours of the morning and most of the street was asleep, otherwise the sight of a giant bird might raise some alarm.

The three burst out of the front door, and the bird watched them with its steady gaze. Stiles held the others back since the bird, enormous though it was, hadn’t made a move to attack. It was twelve feet tall at least, and it radiated power; Stiles could feel the little hairs on the back of his neck stand up, and he swore he heard the rumbling of distant thunder when the bird shifted his wings. It watched them with intelligence in its eyes, and Stiles grew nervous.

“Uh, hey.” He waved.

“Stiles.” Derek growled.

The bird shifted his gaze from Stiles to Derek.

“He’s not attacking!” Stiles argued. “He’s intelligent, let’s just… tell him to leave.”

The gaze shifted back to Stiles, then abruptly moved to something behind them, over his shoulder.

“One does not tell a Thunderbird to do anything, young Bruxa.”

Stiles slowly looked behind him, forcing himself not to make sudden movements while the bird--Thunderbird, joy--was so close. Indeed, as he suspected, Coyote was sitting calmly behind him.

“Any advice?”

Coyote laughed.

“You’re not helpful.” He glared.

Coyote cocked his head to the side like a dog who’d heard an interesting noise. “Why would you think I came here to help you?”

“Then why are you here?” Stiles asked as Coyote stepped forward to stand next to him.

“For him. The Thunderbird, pulled from his time, and now the last of his kind.”

At that, the Thunderbird opened its beak and emitted a noise unlike anything Stiles had heard from an animal. It was more akin to the sound lightning makes when striking a tree; the sound was anguished, it was confused, and it was loud.

“Gah!” Stiles threw his hands over his ears, and quickly looked around to see if they’d attracted unwanted attention.

“It can’t stay here, Stiles.” Derek ground out.

Stiles glared. “No shit Sherlock.”

“Do you acknowledge that it is peaceful?” Coyote snapped, stepping between Derek and the Thunderbird.

“Yes.” Stiles answered.

“Do you wish it to leave?”

“Yes.”

“Do you wish it destroyed?”

“No!”

“Then help it!” Coyote growled.

Stiles looked up into the Thunderbird’s eyes, held his hands out as a sign of peace, and stepped forward. All eyes were on him as he moved closer to the giant bird. It ruffled its feathers, and shifted its feet, making that distant rumbling sound, but it didn’t move otherwise. When he was about six feet away he stopped. Calmly, he gestured for the Thunderbird to come closer, maintaining as nonthreatening a posture as possible. The Thunderbird looked at him, blinked, looked to Coyote, looked back to Stiles, and very slowly lowered its head until it was eye level with Stiles. Without touching it, Stiles placed his hands on either side of the Thunderbirds head, took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and opened his mind to the creature in front of him.

It was an interesting sensation, so unlike sharing emotion via the Pack bond, this was like someone playing dozens of different movies at max volume simultaneously. Flashes of memory, thoughts, and feelings poured into his mind from the Thunderbird. It was overwhelming, so Stiles tried to focus the flow. He wanted to know what the Thunderbird needed, what its prefered habitat looked like. He tried to convey what he was looking for, and it seemed to work. The images consolidated into a common theme. He saw open air to fly in, clean and natural water to drink, tall strong trees or mountains to nest in, and game in abundance to eat. With longing the Thunderbird shared with Stiles an image of him in flight: soaring among the clouds; claps of thunder echoing as it flapped his enormous wings; lightning singing along his body, bouncing to the ground and back in a playful dance; and the rain he gave to the ground in thanks and reverence. It wanted so badly for those things, but the air here was sick, filled with a wrongness that hurt his lungs that he didn’t understand.

The closest place Stiles could think of that fit that description was Yellowstone. It was massive and had everything the Thunderbird needed, although he didn’t know off the top of his head how much cleaner the air was. It would be better than here, but it probably still held more pollutants than he was used to. Stiles gave its location to the Thunderbird as best he was able and wished it luck, promising that he could call on Stiles if he needed help in way of apology for being so unceremoniously dropped here.

The Thunderbird cawed lowly and pressed his beak against Stiles’ forehead sending tiny bolts of electricity across his hair and down his spine. It didn’t hurt, but it left his hair standing on end in weird directions. The Thunderbird then took off in an amazing gust of wind and great clap of thunder. As it rose into the air, rain began to fall, as soon it sounded like a thunderstorm had found its way to Beacon Hills, moving steadily east.

“Oh. Good.” Stiles futilely wiped the water from his face and hair.

“It was.” Coyote tapped him on the elbow to get his attention. “Much has been lost. Your kin stole more from this land than they know. Blundering about in fear and arrogance they took and took and took until the land had nothing left to give and called it right, called it destiny. So few remain that remember the Old Ways, that remember the land returns what is given. It is good to see something of the People restored. Thank you, Bruxa, for being so unlike your kin.”

“Will it be okay by itself? You said it was the last...” The sheriff asked.

Coyote laughed again. “He is the Thunder, the storm itself. He need only find another and will it manifest. I do not believe he will be alone for long.”

With that, Coyote left, blinking out of existence.

“So that was Coyote.” Derek mumbled. “Not what I expected.”

Stiles shrugged. “At least he isn’t following me around any more.”

“Werewolves, Fenrir, and Coyote.” His dad sighed. “Really Stiles?”

“I know. I’m usually more of a cat person.”

Derek gave him a noogie, and the three went inside to dry off and go to sleep.

Around the twelfth, Stiles and the Pack began to notice that the shifts no longer deposited creatures near Stiles. They were beginning to drift away, focused around something else, though they were as of yet unable to determine what or where. The Pack discussed it at the meeting the next day.

“Maybe our theory was wrong?” Erica guessed.

Stiles shook his head. “I don’t think so. There’s too much evidence to back it up.”

“Any word from the Elders?” Scott asked.

“Silence.” Stiles groaned.

“Well.” Lydia hummed. “What if Stiles… isn’t the most magical thing nearby?”

They all stared at her, waiting for her to continue.

“It’s a dragon.” She emphasized. “Hard to picture something more magical than that.”

Stiles blinked. “Uh… that’s not actually a bad theory.”

“Sounds bad to me.” Boyd protested.

“Yeah,” Isaac agreed, “sounds like the dragon is, ya know, more awake. Which is--”

“Bad. Very bad.” Erica agreed.

“We knew that was going to happen eventually.” Derek pointed out. “There’s only nineteen days left until the end of the year. It could wake up any time between now and then.”

Nineteen days. The whole Pack went silent as that sunk in.

Leeloo chose that moment to let herself into the loft and join the meeting. She sat between Stiles and Isaac on the couch when they made room for her. Since she only came to meetings when she had information to share, she had everyone’s attention.

“The Elders are almost done creating the ritual.” She told them. “It’ll be ready in a week.”

“A week?” Scott exclaimed.

“What if the dragon wakes up before it’s ready?” Allison demanded.

“It won’t.” Leeloo promised. “They’ve been studying the activity in the ley lines; they believe the dragon will awaken in twelve days.”

“How sure are they?” Derek asked.

Leeloo smiled sadly. “They are the Elders. They are sure in all things they do.”

Jackson muttered curses under his breath, and Stiles couldn’t help but agree. If they didn’t need the ritual, Stiles would happily leave the Elders the fuck alone to stew in their own ridiculous sense of superiority.

“What do you think?” Lydia asked.

Leeloo looked a little more confident. “As much as they boast and bluster, the Elders are wise, and at least a few of them know what they’re doing. I trust them.”

“And they say twelve days?” Danny confirmed.

“Yes.”

“Well.” Stiles laughed without mirth. “Merry fucking Christmas.”

Lydia looked a little like she was staring off into space, but she asked quietly. “The ritual will happen before then, though. Right?”

“Yes.” Leeloo assured. “It has to finish before the dragon fully wakes, but…”

“But?” Stiles prompted impatiently.

She sighed. “But after it’s regained enough awareness to recognize the Bruxa performing the rite.”

“Do we have a timeframe on this, or are we supposed to guess?” Peter drawled.

“Nothing specific, but there will be signs.” Leeloo explained. “The shifts have been getting worse as the dragon regains consciousness; we’ll know it’s ready when everyone can feel them.”

Scott frowned. “Everyone?”

“Even the regular, non-magical, completely in the dark about the imminent end of the world citizens?” Isaac clarified.

“Yes.”

“How are we supposed to explain that?” Jackson asked.

“You won’t have to.” Leeloo promised. “They’ll just feel like earthquakes to anyone non-magical.”

“Oh, good. Earthquakes. Can’t wait.” Allison’s smile was very forced.

“There hasn’t been an earthquake strong enough to feel in Beacon Hills in… decades at least.” Lydia pointed out. “This is almost as bad as them not knowing what they’re feeling.”

“Doesn’t matter.” Derek stated. “We know what to expect, and we have a timeline.”

“He’s right.” Scott agreed. “This is good news.”

Stiles rubbed the back of his neck. “Goodish, anyway.”

“So... what now?” Boyd asked in the silence.

“Same thing we do every night, Pinky.” Stiles muttered.

Derek grunted. “We wait.”

By the 17th, the Pack was dealing with a shift every day, and some not as cleanly as others. The swarm of imps that invaded left property damage in its wake and cracked five of Scott’s ribs before he and Stiles managed to corral them all together long enough for Stiles to banish them. A dozen skeletons walking down the abandoned business center the next night was difficult enough that Erica, Boyd, and Isaac took a few mildly severe injuries, but wasn’t so horrible that they couldn’t handle it on their own; though both Derek and Stiles gave them an earful for not calling for backup while Derek nursed them through the healing process.

The 20th finally arrived, and with it Leeloo, Hatholdes, and Avorndir. The elves came to deliver the ritual from the Elders, and, apparently, their services for the next few days. The Pack welcomed them gladly, though Stiles griped about how the Elders couldn’t be bothered to meet him in person to deliver the ritual.

The Pack held their breath. Anticipation was thick in the air and it was difficult to look at the town, see the Christmas spirit on the faces of the townspeople, and not feel like they were in a completely different world. No one knew of the danger looming over--or under, more accurately--Beacon Hills, and the Pack endeavored to keep it that way. There were a few close calls, but between the elves, the Argents, and the Pack the populace was kept blissfully unaware. To help that goal, Stiles cast a spell on the local raven population. They would be his eyes all over the city and surrounding area; when a shift happened, the ravens would quickly and accurately tell him where their new visitor landed.

As soon as he was able, Stiles took the scroll and Leeloo to Deaton to go over it in detail. He wasn’t risking any mistakes.

“I’ve never seen anything like this.” Deaton informed him ever so helpfully.

Stiles refrained from the sarcastic comment and said instead, “It’s new, made fresh for yours truly.”

Leeloo squeezed his shoulder. “The Elders are very good at this, Stiles. It’ll be okay.”

Deaton hummed.

“What?” Stiles narrowed his eyes suspiciously.

“The power requirement for this ritual is… Well. If it were anyone else, I’d say it was impossible. For you? I’ll settle for extremely dangerous.” Deaton looked at him pointedly.

Stiles sighed.

“We knew it would be.” Leeloo reminded him quietly.

“I know.” Stiles rolled his shoulders and resolved himself to the task at hand. “Walk me through it.”

They spent the next hour going over the steps with a fine-tooth comb. Explicit and meticulous in every detail, Stiles and Deaton made sure there was no confusion, no half understood instructions, no nothing. It had to be perfect, Stiles would only get one shot at this and it was too important, too powerful to mess up. He could do as much, if not more, damage than the dragon if the ritual went wrong.

Before they left the vet, Deaton placed a hand on Stiles’ shoulder. “Do you understand what this ritual will do?”

“Save the town?” Stiles deflected.

Deaton gave him another look. “You cannot waiver. Your will must be absolute. If there is even the slightest doubt, you must find another solution.”

“There is no other solution.”

“Then do you know, do you understand, do you accept what will happen?”

Stiles looked him straight in the eye. “The needs of the many, Doc. I won’t put myself above the town.”

Deaton nodded and let them depart.

The earth shook on Christmas Eve.

The sun crept its way slowly behind the trees, and with the last few minutes of daylight, the shift rippled across the city setting off car alarms, knocking pictures off of walls, and frightening citizens. The Pack that was currently gathered at Derek’s loft stilled as the shift ebbed, looking to Stiles. They were concerned, fearful, angry. Stiles could feel it all along their shared bond, and he knew they felt his own emotions making his heart pound.

It was finally time.

The raven feather tied securely on a string around his neck, the one he used as a focus for his spell, warmed as it did when he was about to receive information. He placed his palm over it and let the magic connect. Images, more than he’d been expecting, poured into his mind.

“There’s more than one.” He relayed, still sifting through the information. “I’m getting… three? Four. There’s four of them.”

“Where?” Derek asked, already grabbing his keys.

He ran his hand over the map on the coffee table. “Here, here, here, and here.”

“Four different areas?” Isaac asked, surprised.

“Those are all around this building.” Leeloo pointed at the map. “That must be their new focus; where the dragon’s sleeping. What’s here?”

The Pack looked where she was pointing and gave a collective sigh. Of course it was.

“Beacon Hills High School.” Stiles growled.

Derek had an idea for where to perform the ritual, somewhere secure and hard to get to. He explained that the Hale’s had a vault beneath the high school, and Stiles agreed that it sounded like the best place for it.

Messages with relevant information went out to all the Pack members and assorted helpers. Stiles, Derek, Isaac, Jackson, and Leeloo packed into the Camaro and raced to the high school while Stiles tried to piece together what information the ravens could give him about what to expect. Luckily, ravens were smart and liked wolves. It’s why he chose them as his spies. With a little help from his own wealth of knowledge, added to their already surprising intellect, the ravens could reliably relate what was waiting for them.

The news was not good.

Stiles asked. “What’s the group breakdown?”

“Scott, Lydia, Allison, Chris, Peter, and the sheriff are almost to the school. Erica, Boyd, Danny, and the elves are there already.” Isaac replied.

“What’s our eta?”

“Seven minutes.” Derek grunted.

An unholy screeching sound reverberated through the car from something.

“Make it five.” Stiles stated.

Derek shifted gear and the Camaro accelerated dangerously.

Four minutes later, Derek skidded to a halt in the parking lot of the high school. The rest of the Pack met them there and waited for instructions along with the three ravens Stiles had asked for. Stiles wasted no time in giving them orders; as soon as his door was open he started.

“Open the vault!”

Derek did as instructed. The stone sign welcoming students to BHHS swung aside to reveal a staircase, and Stiles could sense from up here the magic off some of the artifacts within. He pulled Lydia toward the vault.

“Start setting up for the ritual. Everything you need is in here,” he handed her a backpack, “if things get dicey, close the vault and stay in there until the coast is clear.”

Lydia looked distraught. “Stiles. I have a bad feeling about all this.”

“You and me both.” He whispered. “Please, Lyds, I need you to do this for me.”

She took a deep breath and nodded, retreating into the vault.

“Dad, take Peter, Scott, Boyd, and Avorndir east: we’ve got a minotaur that direction that cannot reach us here. Got it?” Stiles pointedly eyed the females of the party so that they all understood what he meant. “Big, very strong, and mean, but otherwise straightforward. Just follow the raven. Go!”

They left.

“Derek take Hatholdes and go north until you find the basilisk. The centaurs will meet you there. Don’t look it in the eye! And watch out for the bite. Go!”

The second raven took flight but Derek hesitated. “I’ll be back when it’s time for the ritual.” He promised before following the raven into the forest.

“Chris go south with Allison, Erica, and Danny. There’s a giant walking bronze statue; if I’m right, it’s Talos and you need to sever the vein in its ankle.”

“If you’re wrong?” Chris asked.

“Then dismantle it completely. Armor piercing ammo, go for the ankles. Go!”

They left with the last raven.

“And then there were four.” Leeloo murmured, looking to Stiles.

“Yep.” Stiles agreed. “One for each head.”

The hydra wasn’t too far away, and Stiles dreaded every step. Normally he wouldn’t agree to take Leeloo to face something this dangerous, but she was a magic user and they’d need every advantage. The hydra was massive, a good ten feet tall, it towered over the four of them. Four heads, each with razor sharp teeth and keen eyes, and four legs each with five killer talons. It wasn’t ideal, but he’d split the group up as best he could, hoping that he could make up the difference with what little Bruxa magic he could afford to use.

Jackson and Isaac wasted no time. They moved in each going for one of the center heads, and Leeloo offered them cover with a flash of light to blind the hydra while they closed in. Stiles pulled some thread from his kit and channeled his magic. Two strings for two necks, one to bind them. The result was… not quite as successful as he’d hoped. The necks did slam together, and it did limit their range of mobility, but the hydra was smart enough to adapt. The heads moved in sync, and Leeloo threw out a barrier only just before they shot toward her. The force of the strike shattered the barrier and drove her to her knees, but she tossed out another one--without a spell--before the hydra could strike again. Stiles realized that Leeloo had a magical tattoo like the ones she’d inked into his skin and was using it to erect a barrier.

Isaac lept onto the back of the hydra, dodging the jaws of the head he’d been engaging. He climbed up the necks that were attacking Leeloo and drove his fist through one head with a shout. It went limp, hanging heavily were the two necks were bound, and Isaac slipped off landing in front of Leeloo’s barrier, ready for the other head to attack. It didn’t though. Instead, the head looked to the dead one next to it and bit clean through the neck, severing it.

“Oh. Crap.” Stiles groaned.

Before the new heads could form from the stump, he pulled out a zippo lighter and the thread. He refocused the energy to represent the newly regenerating heads and burned the thread, hoping to essentially cauterize the stump in hopes it would prevent the heads from materializing. It was slowing the regeneration, stalling it, but Stiles bet that if he stopped, the process would continue as it originally intended to. The hydra seemed to think this too, because the head that had been attacking Leeloo, turned and snapped at Stiles. Jackson was there, suddenly, and caught the jaws before they could clamp down.

“Hold that as long as you can!” Stiles shouted.

Jackson grunted, muscles visibly straining.

Stiles used a little magic from his own wards to hold the lighter and string, continuing the burning but freeing his hands. He ripped a branch of appropriate size off a nearby log and quickly etched the glyphs for strength into the wood. Once that was done, he stepped under Jackson’s arms and shoved the stick into the mouth of the hydra, locking the jaws open with the strengthened wood. As soon as it was done, Jackson grabbed him and rolled, taking them out of the reach of the head as it flailed attempting to dislodge the stick.

Leeloo and Isaac were doing what they could for the other two heads while this was going on. When they could, Jackson and Stiles ran over to assist the others. Leeloo’s barrier was spent, but she did what she could to distract the heads while Isaac harassed them. Stiles pulled on his gloves and charged them up, running to intercept the head coming toward Isaac’s flank. He slapped it across the bottom jaw, dislocating it, and sending the head crashing into the ground. Jackson used Isaac as a springboard, leaping up to wrestle the other head, clawing at the eyes.

It screeched, the same screech that had spurred Derek to drive faster, and slammed into a tree in an attempt to dislodge Jackson. There was a sickening crunch, but the wolf held on, snarling. Isaac dodged the head that Stiles had shoved a stick into the jaws; the stick was still in place, but the hydra was just using its head as a blunt instrument now. The dodge, however, left Leeloo open. Rather than snap at her with a semi-useless head, the hydra stepped forward and swiped at her with its claws. She skipped out of the way, but the very edge of a talon still caught her across the hip. She cried out, placed a hand over the injury to stem the flow of blood, but stood her ground. With a short, guttural chant and a palmful of her own blood, Leeloo created a sword. The spell she used required a lot of blood, and it wasn’t one Stiles had ever considered using, but desperate times… It was obviously painful, but Stiles applauded her gumption. She used the blood sword to slice through the claw as the hydra attacked again, amputating it at the wrist. Isaac kicked the claw out of the way as he made his way back to her.

Stiles pulverised the head he’d already injured, leaving a pulpy--but intact--mass of useless flesh and bone, and then ran over to help Jackson, who still clung desperately to a head. He’d blinded it successfully, but hadn’t managed to do much more damage.

“Let go, Jackson. I’m going to fry it.” Stiles warned.

Jackson did as requested, dropping ungracefully next to Isaac and Leeloo. A quick incantation and Stiles shot lightning at the head Jackson had just abandoned. It writhed and keened, but didn’t go down. The convulsions sent through its body was enough to snap the stick in the other head’s jaw, but temporarily stunned it. Stiles did it again, but deemed a third bolt too risky once he saw the lightning arch off to hit the nearby trees. Lightning was too unpredictable, even when directed.

While it was stunned, Stiles came up with a plan. They needed to get to the heart to kill it and, at the moment, Leeloo was the only one with a weapon that could reach it. It was ridiculously risky, but just beating up on the heads wasn’t going to kill it.

“Stab it in the heart.” He ordered.

The hydra recovered at that moment, catching them by surprise. One head went for Stiles, the other went for Isaac and Leeloo. Stiles managed to knock his away with his gloves, but the force of it shattered the bone in his wrist.

All he heard was the sound of something crashing into a tree and Leeloo shouting, “Isaac!”

He couldn’t look away from the head attacking him long enough to see what was happening to his right, but he did know that Isaac was still alive. The pain in his arm was nauseating, but adrenaline was a good pain killer. Stiles kept his arm close to his chest, and used the other to dig in his kit for the small mirror. Once he had it, he cast his spell, creating six mirror images of himself. He kept the hydra head occupied as it tried to find the real Stiles among the mirrors, each fake one blinking out of existence and reappearing elsewhere when it guessed wrong. The mirrors were also able to mimic spell casting to further confuse perception, so he was able to slowly direct its focus more and more away from its body as it attacked, forcing it to open itself up to attack.

“Get Leeloo to the body so she can stab it.” Stiles whispered just loud enough for werewolf hearing. He was able to keep an eye on what the others were doing by slipping behind a tree while the mirrors shifted about to keep the hydra confused.

Isaac was on his feet, but he was limping, Jackson also looked worse for wear, but the two of them worked together to get Leeloo a clear path. The hydra lunged for Leeloo, but Isaac swung her out of the way and Jackson dug his claws into the soft skin under the jaw, holding tight to keep it from going forward. The hydra didn’t like that and Jackson was slammed once again, this time against the ground. He spat blood when he was let up, and shoved one hand up through the lower jaw and pulled out the hydra’s tongue with a snarl.

Stiles was concerned. “Jackson…”

“I’m fine.” He snapped. “Finish this.”

Blinded and wounded, the head was slower, weaker. Jackson was able to yank and tug and pull it about as he saw fit, keeping it away from Leeloo and Isaac. The head Stiles was distracting caught wise to the fact that Stiles was no longer among the mirrors and redirected his focus to the more serious threat. Stiles shouted a warning, and Leeloo reacted. She swung her blood sword and severed the head.

“Crap.” Jackson growled.

“Do it now!” Stiles shouted. They had a short grace period before the heads regrew, but it should be long enough for Leeloo to kill it.

She sank her blade into the hydra’s body, but still the heads grew. She’d missed. She tried again, but to no avail.

“It’s not long enough,” she groaned, “I need… more blood.”

“You’ve lost too much already.” Stiles argued.

“Use mine.” Isaac offered. “I’ll heal; take what you need.”

Leeloo looked at him, shaking her head. “Isaac…”

“Do it,” he insisted.

“I could kill you.”

“Daumelladnel, I trust you.” He leaned forward and kissed her passionately but quickly. “Do it.”

Stiles watched as Leeloo kissed Isaac sweetly in reply, shaped her blade into a short dagger, and then sliced him deeply across the side. Her own blood sword disappeared as she laid her hand upon his wound. She uttered that guttural chant and drew a large blade from Isaac’s blood. It was twice the size of the one she’d had previously, and she stabbed the hydra just as the heads finished materializing.

Leeloo’s strength gave out and she followed Isaac to the ground as he fell unconscious. Leeloo looked pale, and she shook visibly. She’d definitely lost too much blood for Stiles’ comfort, so he pulled out some bandages from his kit as he made his way to them. He’d spelled them to aid healing just for this kind of thing.

“Stiles!” Jackson barked.

A scream pierced the night.

Confused, Stiles looked around to see where it came from, but it wasn’t near them.

That’s when Stiles noticed that the hydra wasn’t dead. The two new heads reared up and lunged. All Stiles could do was summon a barrier before a head slammed down upon him and watch, horrified, as Jackson sprinted over to Leeloo and Isaac to intercept the attack and finish shoving the blade into the hydra’s heart.

He managed both.

But it was too late.

The jaws of the hydra clamped fatally around his chest milliseconds before the blade found its target. Stiles felt the Pack connection to Jackson flicker and fade until, suddenly, it was gone. He was dead.

Stiles stood there in shock. His vision tunneled, focus solely on the limp form of Jackson still trapped in the jaws of the hydra. The forest seemed oddly quiet. All he could hear was the blood rushing in his ears; a cruel taunting drum that only highlighted the absence of… Jackson.

“Stiles…” Leeloo whimpered. It caught his attention away from… he forced himself to look elsewhere, to Leeloo and Isaac.

Leeloo and Isaac who were still injured, in need of help.

He stumbled over, bandages held loosely in his hand. He knelt down, wincing as he turned his back on his lifeless Packmate.

Stiles did the best he could with only one arm in applying the bandages to Leeloo’s hip. She helped a little, but she was weak from blood loss and exhaustion. He nudged and cajoled her into laying down, he had to make sure she didn’t go into shock. He used the scarf she was wearing--one of Isaac’s actually--as a pillow for her head and kept what pressure he could on the bandage to stop the bleeding. Isaac was still unconscious, but he was breathing, and the color was slowly returning to his cheeks. The wound on his side was already closed. With luck he’d be up in a few minutes.

A gentle hand on his cheek made him refocus on Leeloo. She was crying. So was he, he realized. He leaned into her hand but didn’t try to stop the tears. He’d have to focus, have to push it down for the ritual, but for now he was allowed to grieve.

Isaac came to with a groan and a cough. His eyes shot open and he started looking around, confused. He spotted Leeloo and Stiles and frowned, still worried, confused. As if he wasn’t sure what just happened.

“What… happened? Stiles, what’s… something’s wrong…”

Stiles caught his attention before he could look over and see Jackson. “Keep pressure on this.”

Isaac looked and saw Stiles trying to hold the bandage to Leeloo’s hip and immediately moved his hands to assist. Once they were in place, he looked between the two of them, searching. Finally, it dawned on him who wasn’t with them.

“Jackson… he’s… is he…”

Stiles nodded.

Isaac didn’t say anything, just bit his lip, closed his eyes, and exhaled slowly. Leeloo placed a hand on top of his, holding on to his wrist. Isaac opened his eyes again and tried to smile at her. It didn’t really work, but they understood.

He looked to Stiles. “You’re hurt.”

His wrist throbbed and he couldn’t really feel his fingers, but Stiles did his best to ignore it. “I’ll be fine.”

“You should splint it.” Leeloo advised.

“You need to rest.” He countered seriously.

He rubbed his face, wiping away the tears, and forced himself to focus. He clutched the raven feather and channeled his magic; he needed to know how the others were doing. The bronze statue was down. Chris and Erica were dismantling it piece by piece just to be safe, but it looked like Allison and Danny were huddled together on the ground. Stiles requested a closer look to make sure they weren’t injured. Allison had a cut along her hairline that was bleeding, but it wasn’t serious. No, they were crying. Erica was too, but she was powering through it. Stiles moved on.

Derek and Hatholdes were fine. The three centaurs with them were as well, though one of them looked like they’d been bitten on the flank. They’d wrangled the basilisk with some rope and chain. It seemed them centaurs were intent on keeping the thing alive, but either Derek or Hatholdes had blinded it at some point, rendering the creature almost impotent.

Scott was wrestling the minotaur. He had it by the horns and was stopping it from charging while the others did what they could. It was incredibly strong; Stiles could see dozens of cuts and injuries they’d already dealt it, but the thing was still standing. Peter was bloody, but whatever wounds he’d sustained were already healed. Boyd was on the ground behind Scott, but Stiles couldn’t see how badly he was injured. Avorndir’s armor was dented in places, his shield was in pieces on the ground, but he was still standing, so Stiles assumed he wasn’t hurt too badly. His dad was uninjured--small miracles--and staying a short distance away with his gun drawn waiting for a good shot. He got his opening when Scott roared--something Stiles could hear from where he was--and broke the horns off the minotaur in a rather impressive feat of strength. The minotaur was temporarily stunned, and the sheriff took the opportunity to put five rounds into its head. Scott threw the horns to the side and went to check on Boyd once the minotaur dropped. Stiles waited long enough to see Boyd move before severing the connection.

“All groups are done.” Stiles informed them. “We need to get to the vault.”

“What about…” Leeloo looked over his shoulder at Jackson.

Footsteps approaching warned them of visitors. It was Chris, Danny, Erica, and Allison.

“Stiles. Time for you to go.” Chris stated.

“We’ve got Jackson.” Allison whispered, wiping tears from her face. “Go.”

Stiles sighed and nodded. “Leeloo’s injured. Don’t let her move about too much.”

He got confirmation from them and then took off toward the high school. Derek met him halfway there and turned to run the rest of the way with him. Neither said anything. They both knew already.

Derek followed him down the steps into the vault. The ritual was all set up, but Lydia was just standing there listlessly. She was crying too. When she heard them coming down, she barely moved, just looked over at Stiles.

“Jackson’s dead, isn’t he.” Her voice was hardly above a whisper. A statement, not a question.

“He won’t be the last if we don’t get this ritual started.” Peter came up behind them, brushing his fingers lightly over a few of the artifacts in the vault.

“Out.” Derek snapped.

Peter looked at him pityingly. “Someone needs to guard Stiles while he works his magic. I’m here to offer my assistance.”

Stiles put a hand on Derek to calm him. “He’s right. I won’t be able to do anything else while the ritual is in progress. Besides,” he glared at Peter, “he won’t be the only one helping. Right Scotty?”

Scott descended the stairs. “Ready when you are.”

Stiles gently moved Lydia to the side to stand next to Scott. He brushed a stray tear from her cheek and whispered an apology for Jackson. He then stepped into the ritual circle that Lydia had expertly set up. Candles, salt, crystals, and even blood--Stiles’ blood; he’d prepared it for the ritual so Lydia wouldn’t have to use her own--set up a series of glyphs and wards so complicated Stiles was honestly a little surprised she’d managed to set it up as quickly as she did. Still, to be sure, he double checked it all and added his magic to activate everything. Once that was done, he took a deep breath, removed himself of everything, passed his clothes and kit to Derek, and began.

The ritual was broken into two parts. The ley lines had to be calmed and the dragon had to be put to sleep. The dragon wouldn’t sleep if the ley lines were as tumultuous as they currently were, so the first step was to calm the ley lines. This was, theoretically, the more difficult of the two steps. It was an incalculable amount of magic held within the ley lines, and Stiles would have to channel it all. The idea was to treat Stiles like a filter or detangler. Twisted, chaotic magic comes in, calm, stable magic comes out. No normal magic user would be able to handle all of that, but the Elders were confident that a Bruxa could. Stiles allowed his consciousness to spread to the ley lines below him, keeping a firm part of himself anchored so as not to get sucked in. The nexus below him was a knotted mass of current that he’d never be able to unravel if he started from the center.

Instead, he started slowly. He followed a line north until he reached a point of manageable chaos. He grabbed hold and directed the current, easing it into a smoother, more natural flow. He followed the line back toward the center, repeating the process, until all but the center of that thread was calm once more. He followed the next line and did it all over again. Again and Again he repeated the calming process until only the nexus remained. It was still a jumbled mess, but the threads were looser, more distinct. This was the part that required a Bruxa. Managing one line at a time was difficult, especially as each line increased in strength as it reached the nexus, but absolutely doable for any mage of sufficient skill and power. The nexus couldn’t be done one line at a time, however, and it was where each line was strongest. Stiles began to work loose the threads, not trying to pull any one free, just trying to parse which line went where. Once he’d mapped the knot, he dropped himself into the center and began to unravel it. He pulled and yanked and coerced the lines into their proper places, all the while calming and soothing the current. It was intense to say the least. So much magic going through him at once, he felt like he was on fire; both burning and powerful. It hurt, a lot, but he pushed through it.

When it was done, the ley lines were calm and flowing correctly once again. He returned his consciousness back to his body and opened his eyes. He was sweating, panting, but exhilarated. He couldn’t help the giggle that escaped his throat. Derek tossed him a water bottle, he drank greedily, and then tossed it back.

“You alright, Kid?” His dad asked.

Stiles grinned. “Super duper, Dad.”

“He’s high as a kite.” Peter accused.

Was he? Maybe. That might explain the awesome feeling in his limbs. He giggled again.

“It’s from channeling all the magic.” Avorndir explained. “He’ll be fine in a moment.”

Even as he said it, the tingling in Stiles’ limbs dissipated and his mind returned to the task at hand. He still felt the residual effects of the channeling, but they were less, much more manageable. He rolled his shoulders, popped the joints in his neck, and took a deep breath.

Finding the dragon took even less effort than Stiles imagined it would. There, just below the ley lines, the enormous creature slumbered restlessly. He stood there in shock for a heartbeat. The dragon was easily the largest thing he’d ever seen; at his full height, Stiles was maybe half the length of one of the dragon’s eyes. A quick survey confirmed Stiles’ suspicions. The dragon was the size of the town, and there would be complete devastation if it woke up. Nothing in the area would survive.

I know you are here.

Stiles nearly screamed. The voice was in his head, loud, imposing, and a physical pressure. Stiles returned to the eye, which was now open, focused on his tiny presence.

Ah. Child of the Magic,” the dragon sighed, “there you are.

“You know who I am?”

You have calmed the Magic. It bears your essence now.” The dragon hummed. “Even if you had not, you are a Child of the Magic. I can taste your presence in the air.

That was not comforting. “Can’t be too tasty; I didn’t shower today.”

Mmm… Still, more recently than my last meal.

Stiles chuckled nervously.

Be calm, Child of the Magic. If I wished you harm, you would be dead.

“This might be a dumb question, but why don’t you want to kill me?” Stiles couldn’t help his curiosity.

The dragon sighed. “I know why you’re here. I know what you intend. If I truly opposed the idea, I would not have let you find me.

“You want to sleep?”

My world is gone, Child of the Magic. Any desire I had to return to the Earth perished with the last of my kin.

“You’re the last of your kind?” Stiles felt… remorseful almost. There were so many things, awful, horrible, wonderful things in the world and--dangerous as it was--Stiles was thrilled that dragons, the epitome of magical beasts, were a real, living, breathing thing that existed in the mix of good and bad. The idea that there was only the one, that he was doomed to live a life in a coma… it seemed wrong. “Is there a way to bring more of your kin back? Like the Thunderbird--”

A return of dragonkin would bring a great change to your world.

Images invaded his mind. Lands of green as far as the eye could see, sporadic settlements dotted the landscape, nothing that looked built in the last three or four centuries. Stiles saw picts, his ancestors, living their lives. A shadow covered the land and the people below screamed, running for cover in meager huts that wouldn’t save them from a stiff breeze. A dragon, small compared to the one beneath beacon hills. It was enough to demolish the village in seconds. Another image, this one of ancient china. Just as before, the small village was obliterated by another dragon. Again the image changed, Spain, India, Middle East, Central America, Japan, Australia, over and over again the small settlements were destroyed, heralded by the shadow in the sky.

You would doom your mortals to this fate?

“They were all like that?” Stiles whispered.

Enough of them. Your desire to help is… surprising, but ultimately conflicts with your current goal.

Stiles took a few deep breaths. “Fine. Why not just… go back to sleep? The ley lines are calm--”

I would if I could, Child of the Magic. The sleep of ages does not come naturally; I require the ritual you have prepared.” The dragon informed him wistfully.

“I… honestly, I expected more of a fight about this. After everything that’s happened over the last few months, this seems anticlimactic.” Stiles admitted.

Chaos, destruction, and wanton violence are the result of neglect in the proper care of the Magic, not my will. If it were, your town, your Pack would already be dead.

“I’d kill you first.”

The dragon laughed, a rumbling noise that shook the area around it. “You would try.

“You don’t think I could do it?” Stiles asked, more challenge in his voice than he really felt. “I’m a Bruxa, I brought Derek back from the dead, who’s to say I couldn’t slay a dragon?”

Child of the Magic you may be, but I am a Father of the Magic. My will brought it into existence, my power is the original wellspring. You could no more slay me with Magic than you could stop a burning building with a torch.

“Oh.” Stiles absorbed that information. “Well… good then.”

Still amused, the dragon continued. “If you are ready, I would like to begin.

Stiles nodded. The ritual to make the dragon sleep would be a gradual descent into permanent sleep, the ritual essentially acting as a lullaby, and in exchange, Stiles would make sure the lullaby continued to play. For five years. The ritual was designed so that not all of Stiles would have to remain with the dragon, but a significant portion would. Specifically, his Bruxa magic. Completing the ritual would tap all of Stiles’ Bruxa abilities for the next five years; he would still have the ability to use magic, but only as a normal Spark would. Even in an emergency situation he wouldn’t be able to call on it, but it was the only way to get the dragon to go back to sleep. It was a potential risk, but it had to be done.

With that in mind, Stiles initiated the ritual. He spread his magic out, tendrils dancing along the length of the dragon, finding all of it. Massive would be an understatement; Stiles had the sudden and profound realization that, to destroy the town, all the dragon would have to do was stand up. The eruption of it coming to the surface would be more than enough to destroy the larger, more populated areas of Beacon Hills. Stiles was infinitely glad that he wouldn’t have to convince the dragon to go the fuck to sleep, because he wasn’t all that sure he could offer any significant deterrent to something this big and this powerful.

He pushed such thoughts aside as his consciousness finally covered the entirety of the dragon. Once he had it all in his mind’s eye, he began wrapping it gently in a cocoon of magic; all the while Stiles imagined the calming, gentle routines that were known to put children to sleep. The peace and comfort and relaxation that those images represented were the foundation for the sleep spell that had been adapted to work on the dragon. The basics were the same, the magnitude was really the only difference. While a single layer was sufficient for putting a person, or even a werewolf, into a good night’s sleep, a single night was not going to be enough for the dragon. So more layers were added. Layer after layer after layer on top of one another, gently guiding the dragon into sleep. Once the dragon had entered the beginning stages of sleep, the layers changed from a calming relaxation into a harder shell of impenetrable peace. Still more and more layers were added, each one taking with it a little of Stiles’ magic. After the cocoon was complete, Stiles’ magic would remain within the shell keeping the spell active for as long as it took to put the dragon into the Sleep of Ages, as it called it. Best estimates put that at about five years give or take a few days, but from what he could see, and what the dragon had shown him, it was well worth it.

A final once over confirmed that he was done; no cracks in the cocoon, and no Bruxa magic in him. He returned to his body.

“--is it supposed to take?” He heard Scott ask quietly.

“I don’t know.” Leeloo answered. “The Elders weren’t specific.”

“But he’s okay, right?” His dad demanded.

He made sure of that himself before doing anything else. The ritual was only supposed to take his Bruxa magic, but he didn’t trust the Elders very much, and a thorough check couldn’t hurt. He started by testing his mind, making sure he hadn’t lost any recent events, going back through important memories to make sure it was all there. From there he checked Pack bonds.

“Wait… I think he’s coming to.” Derek shifted closer, still outside of the ritual circle.

His connection to Derek was as strong as he remembered, as was his thread to Scott. The others were all there as well, except--of course--for Jackson. He may have spent a little extra time checking all of the wolves for other injuries while he was making sure the Pack bonds were intact, but after losing Jackson… he didn’t think anyone would blame him. Reassured that the bonds were stable and accounted for, he moved on to physical concerns. Fingers and toes worked, five on each hand and foot, so far so good. Hands and feet, good. Wrists--yes, still broken, ow--and ankles. Elbows and knees, check. Shoulders and hips, other than his ass being asleep, were in working order. He rolled his neck, loosening stiff muscles, and finally opened his eyes.

Derek, Scott, and his dad were there in his immediate line of sight.

“How long?” He croaked.

“Five hours.” His dad told him. “Had us a little worried.”

“Did it work?” Lydia asked.

Was it worth it.

She didn’t have to say it, he heard it, felt it behind her words.

“It’s done.”

Scott helped him to his feet, while his dad handed him his clothes. Stiles dressed as quick as he was able, and followed the Pack out of the vault. Derek closed it behind them, and they made their way to the cars. Stiles fought the exhaustion eating at his consciousness. He’d just spent the past five hours in a complex ritual, expended an enormous amount of magical energy, and he was probably going to sleep for a day or more once he finally gave in. He struggled to keep his eyes open, though. There was still more to do.

He forced his mind to focus on Leeloo as she spoke. “The Elders sent a squad to clean up while you were busy. The bodies are gone, and most of the damage to the forest has been healed.”

“Jackson?”

Leeloo bit her lip to keep from crying. “After a little convincing, Lydia let them take him too. They’re giving him a hero’s funeral.”

“She let them take him?”

“They can do more for him than we can.” Isaac added. “We can’t exactly bury him in a cemetery in town.”

Stiles nodded more forcefully than usual to keep himself awake. “Right. When’s the funeral.”

“After you wake up.” Derek stated, a clear order in his voice.

Stiles sighed and gave in. Sleep took him in seconds.

~~

She wanders.

It’s not aimless, but she doesn’t know where she’s going either.

The end is in her mind. An End is always in her mind. Behind the buzzing, white noise, silence. It lingers, it moves and shifts and stands its ground, but she can never find it. It only ever finds her.

She’s lost.

Is she?

The room she’s in is familiar. The edges of it solidify, and she recognizes it. It looks so different now, but she recognizes it. The room is empty. The bed, the mirror, the rug are all gone. Minimalist, he said. Empty, she said. She was wrong.

This is empty. Empty but for the memories.

And the silence.

It’s here.

There’s nothing here though.

She looks anyway.

She finds it. It finds her?

The envelope is pristine, clean, sharp. Like him. Like he used to be.

As she picks it up, clutches it to her chest, the silence finally recedes.

She leaves.

So lost.

Goes home.

She doesn’t want to be lost anymore.

Reads.

She’d call Danny first. He should read it. They all should, but Danny deserved to be first. She looked to the letter again. He’d written it not long before he’d died, had hidden it away somewhere they wouldn’t have found it, wouldn’t have had a reason to look for it if he hadn’t died. But he had and she did. It was… painful, but also helpful to read.

With Stiles still unconscious, and the ley lines once again calm, the Pack was allowed to grieve Jackson’s death. Lydia had been in near constant communication with Leeloo planning the funeral. It was odd, planning all aspects of a funeral, but not the date. It had been a week since Stiles had performed the ritual; everyone was starting to get worried that he hadn’t woken yet, but…

Not her.

He’d wake up, probably soon, but she had no way of reassuring the Pack of that without it just sounding like platitudes.

She knew he wasn’t dying as certainly as she knew that Jackson would.

The silence told her.

She couldn’t wait for Stiles to wake up though. Everything that was happening to her… she knew--obviously--that it wasn’t normal. She’d done some research, but there was precious little in the way of concrete information. A lot of conjecture and tangent theories, variations on a theme, and a few truly abstract legends. Maybe the fact that she was directly involved was causing her to have more issue finding what she needed, or maybe there just wasn’t a lot out there. Either way, she’d had enough trying to find it on her own. She resigned herself to asking for help after the funeral.

But she did know one thing for certain: a word.

Banshee.

~~

The day before school was scheduled to start for the spring semester, Stiles finally woke up. Stiles was distressed at first when Derek told him it’d been a week, that was a lot longer than he’d expected to be asleep, but the elves had come to the Pack on day three to inform them that the Elders weren’t concerned or surprised by the extended sleep. They’d then informed the Pack of the trade that Stiles had made to put the dragon to sleep. Derek had a few choice words for Stiles about how communication was key in any relationship and that he should have told someone that he’d be sacrificing his Bruxa magic for five years. All of which Stiles thought was hilarious coming from Derek, King of Monosyllabic Communication.

Thankfully, his wrist was mostly better. A sprain was all that was left after being completely shattered. It was tender and it hurt a little to use it, but a sling and some pain killers took care of most of it. He was still restricted to mostly bed rest. He’d miss the first day or two of class, but his dad agreed that it was better than him potentially collapsing at school for no apparent reason.

He did, however, get to attend Jackson’s funeral.

Stiles stubbornly insisted that he could stand on his own, so Derek and the sheriff indulged him, but kept nearby, just in case. He did shoo them out of his presence long enough to take a shower on his own. Derek helped him get dressed, tying his tie for him, so he wouldn’t have to use his wrist too much.

When Leeloo arrived to escort them, the whole Pack was ready. The Argents and Mama McCall were in attendance as well. A somber gathering of blacks and greys, no one said much as they made their way to the elven lands.

Hatholdes and Avorndir greeted them at the gates to the amphitheatre in full honor guard regalia, and to their surprise, there was a great many people in attendance. Centaurs, satyrs, dryads, fey, and elves all gathered to show respect and honor their fallen Pack member. They were shown to their seats and their escorts took position on either side of the dais that held Jackson within. The rendered carving of him on the lid was beautiful, if not strictly accurate. Full armor hardly seemed like something Jackson would wear, but what it represented was humbling. An honored warrior who fell in defense of another.

The Elders began the funeral by honoring Jackson’s many deeds of valor, committing his soul to the promised afterlife of the brave and selfless. It was formal and a little uncomfortable. They honored him and held in the highest regard for what he’d done, but they didn’t know him. They saw his deeds, but nothing else. No personality. No flaws.

Then Lydia stood.

The Elders made room for her to stand and address the attendees.

“Jackson was a hero, but he was also a person. He was everything you’ve just heard, but he was also a part of our Pack. A friend, occasionally an enemy. Family. He cared so much for all of us, and I know he was never very good at saying it, but… he did. He wrote this letter,” she pulled it out of her coat pocket, “before he died, just in case. He wanted all of you to know what he couldn’t otherwise say. I won’t read it aloud here, because it’s… personal, just for us. No offense.” She gave a watery smile to the others gathered. “But it reminded me that Jackson was so much… more. He was never small, never a footnote. Even when maybe you wished you could, he was impossible to ignore. And now that he’s gone… it’s like a part of us is gone too, and it’s raw, and it h-hurts, and I don’t know if it’ll ever really heal, but even knowing this, what this emptiness feels like, I am elated that I got to spend what precious time I did with Jackson.” She took a deep breath, wiped the tears from her cheek. “Thank you all for coming and honoring him with us; he will be missed, always.”

She stepped down to take her seat between Danny and Allison, and the Elders finished the ceremony with a blessing. They all paid their final respects, and then Leeloo lead them back to the loft.

Lydia handed him the letter she’d mentioned in her eulogy. Everyone in the Pack had had a chance to read it while he’d slept, she explained. It was his turn.

Listen up assholes,

I've been thinking. No one wants to talk about it, or consider it, but I know I'm a detriment to this Pack. I put everyone in danger just by being in the same city. We all know it, so I don't want any protests.

You've all done for me more than I would have expected, certainly more than I deserve. I know how I treated most of you at school, and I know at least a few of you have wanted me dead or even tried to kill me. I don't blame you. Don't blame yourselves. What little good I've done, what being part of this Pack has allowed me to do, doesn't make up for what I did before.

So I've made some decisions. You lot are the best thing that's ever happened to me, and I will do everything within my power to protect you. All of you. No one wants to think about it--you're all too optimistic--but this is dragon thing is dangerous shit. People will get hurt, might even die. If I can choose, if I can help it, none of you will die. If that means my life for yours, I'll make that trade.

If I'm wrong, if I survive through Christmas, I will be leaving. I will not endanger you any more. My mind is made up, don't try to stop me.

Lydia, I'm sorry for all the hell I put you through. I love you, but I want you to move on. Be happy. And don't be afraid of what you don't know; you're too smart for that. The Pack is there for you. Danny, it sucks the way you were brought in, and I wish to God we'd done it the right way, but I'm not sorry you're here. These losers are good people.

So, I guess, this is goodbye.

After months on edge, the town was safe at last. No more shifts, no more monsters, no more dragon threat. The Pack was too busy mourning the loss of Jackson to celebrate, and the victory seemed hollow at the moment. Stiles was sure, in time, it would seem… worth it.

For now, he just felt tired.