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When Derek was sixteen he made the biggest mistake of his life. He never dreamt that falling in love would have had such awful consequences.

A year ago he wouldn’t have fallen for it, but he was hurting and in pain, Paige had died because of him and every time that he looked in the mirror, flashing his blue beta eyes, he was reminded of how much he had been at fault.

He’d been so scared of losing her, so convinced that she was his mate, he hadn’t known how wrong he was. Paige had loved him, he knew that, and he thought he loved her, the sweet smile she offered him, the soft tender kisses. He loved her and he’d wanted to be with her. Ennis giving her the bite had destroyed all that. It had destroyed her. It had destroyed Derek.

So when less than a year later Kate had waltzed into his life he’d been caught off guard. She smelled nice, there was something hard about her, something less fragile than Paige and he revelled in the fact that she wouldn’t break as easily. He thought it was odd that a woman that was eight years older would even be interested in him, but he pushed that thought to the back of his mind, after all, she was beautiful and clever and maybe a little bit twisted, just like him. He knew that Kate wasn’t his mate. He didn’t love her the way that he’d loved Paige, but still, he clung to her in the darkness and went along for the wild ride.

Every morning he looked in the mirror, studied his growing body, his short dark hair, the warm green of his eyes before they flashed to their electric blue. He deserved this. He got up and went to school, often skipping classes in favour of spending time with Kate. Slowly opening up to her, about what had happened with Paige, how in the end it had been Derek that had ended her suffering, how she had smiled at him and told him it was okay and that she loved him. He cried in front of Kate, the first time he had done anything like that since that night. She comforted him, told him how it was okay, that his family couldn’t understand his pain. She was right, they tried, but they couldn’t, none of them had ever murdered their first loves.

So Derek had fallen for her, hard, despite his wolf protesting every second that this woman wasn’t his mate, wouldn’t ever be his mate, he ignored it. Deciding instead to bury the thoughts deep inside, bury himself in Kate, in the smell of her golden hair, the strength of her body, the darkness of her humour.

He didn’t know what a mistake he was making until the night of his sisters’ birthday. Laura was turning twenty, the whole family was coming together to celebrate. Derek spent most of the night scowling, Kate had said she couldn’t make it, he didn’t like spending time with his family that much anymore, didn’t like the looks of pity they had when then looked at him. His younger sister Cora had swept him up in a big hug, gazing at him like he hung the moon, he cracked a smile for her. That was his undoing, because suddenly all the younger kids were piling all over him, knocking him to the ground and creating a puppy pile.

Derek grinned uselessly, laughing when Laura looked put out that she wasn’t the centre of attention. He winked at her and she cracked a smile, flipping her blond hair over her shoulder a moment before diving into the puppy pile.

Derek hadn’t laughed so hard in ages, it eased the ache in his chest, it genuinely felt as if it was the first time in months that he could breathe. They spent the rest of the night laughing, Derek had almost completely forgotten about Kate, no longer sulking that she couldn’t be here. They went to bed in the early hours, Laura shoving him into a wall playfully. He made the decision right then that he would leave Kate, whatever was going on in their relationship, it didn’t make him feel like this, it didn’t make him happy. He decided he would call her in the morning and tell her it was all over.

He was woken a few hours later, he’d only had two hours sleep tops, there was the sound of gunshots, the sound of a fight outside, the sound of people shouting in fear. He hurried down the stairs to where most of the pack was gathered in the front room, his mother had gone outside and when Derek tried to follow after her, Laura pressed an arm across his chest stopping him.

“Don’t.” Laura pleaded, her wide eyes full of fear for him. That only made him panic, what could be so bad that Laura didn’t want him to see? He shoved her out of the way, ignoring the other attempts to get him to stop and he barrelled out of the front door. What he saw stopped him in his tracks.

He could see his mum kneeling next to the side of the sheriff’s car, a man lay on the ground next to her. He could smell Kate, see the nearly complete circle of mountain ash surrounding the house and then, worse, he could smell blood and fear and gasoline.

“Mum?” He called out, stumbling down the steps to her side, “Mum?” He whispered, seeing the sheriff on the ground, a bullet in his chest, his eyes struggling to stay focused, “What happened?” He blurted out.

“Not now Derek!” His mum shouted, her eyes flashing red at him, he ducked his head submissively, unable to meet her gaze as he stepped slowly backwards towards the house. He could hear an ambulance approaching and a minute late it appeared in the clearing. Two men jumped out quickly and ran across to the Sheriff, assessing his injuries.

“Stiles.” The sheriff mumbled, “Please, Stiles.” He said, tears running gently from his eyes.

“We’ll get him Sir, don’t worry. But right now we need to take care of you.” One of the men said, applying bandages to his chest to stem the flow of blood.

Derek stared at the man, he wasn’t sure what had happened but it was obvious the man was in pain, more than that, he was in distress, not for himself, but for whoever this Stiles was. They loaded him up quickly and were out of sight within a moment. Derek just stared at the ground where he had lay, there was a dark stain of blood, his mother’s arms were covered in it. She had tear tracks running down her cheeks, her dark hair flying wildly around her face in the wind. Her eyes harsh as she looked at him.

“What happened?” Derek whispered, his voice breaking at the sight of his mother’s distraught face.

“That man just saved our lives.” She said through gritted teeth, Derek could smell the anger coming off her, it made him cower in fear, he had never seen his mum so angry before, not even after Paige. “Your girlfriend thought it would be fun to burn our house down, with us all inside, thankfully the Sheriff managed to stop her before she ran off into the woods.” Talia spat out and Derek looked at her in horror.

“No,” He whispered in denial, “No, she wouldn’t do that, she wouldn’t.” He said shaking his head, she was wrong, Kate wouldn’t do that, Derek knew she wouldn’t.

“She’s a hunter Derek!” His mother shouted and Derek whimpered, by now the whole pack was stood on the porch staring at them and Derek felt his whole body shaking, “She didn’t love you! She used you! She used you to get to us, and you were stupid enough to fall for it!” Talia shouted, her eyes flashing red the entire time, “The whole pack was at risk, because of you. If it wasn’t for the Sheriff we’d all be dead. Do you understand that?” She shouted and Derek nodded, tears slipping down his cheeks in disbelief. He’d known Kate wasn’t right, known that she was sometimes unstable, but to do this? To nearly kill his entire family? How could he have made such a huge error in judgement?

“I’m sorry.” He sobbed, his voice breaking, his knees giving way, falling to the floor, unable to support himself. He couldn’t believe he’d been so stupid. “I’m so sorry.” He repeated over and over, unable to believe that he had come so close to losing his family.

“It’s okay.” Laura said, rushing from the porch and placing a warm arm over his shoulders, “It’s okay Derek, you didn’t know.” She said, comforting him, he sobbed harder, he didn’t deserve her, he should have known, he should have figured it out. A moment later another warm hand was on his cheek and he looked up to see his mum’s worried eyes.

“I’m sorry sweetheart. I’m sorry.” She said, pulling him into a tight hug, whatever anger was gone now, replaced by grief, Derek could smell her panic, her fear, the whole pack had nearly died, if Kate had finished the job, if she’d have had another minute, they’d all be dead. He sobbed harder.

“It’s my fault. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.” He begged, the words getting lost in his mother’s shoulder.

“It’s okay sweetheart. It’s not your fault. It’s hers. We just have to be more careful.” Talia whispered to him, stroking his hair gently. Derek didn’t know what he had done to deserve his family, but he promised himself in that moment that he would never risk the lives of his family again. He would never put his family at risk for something as stupid as believing he was in love.

It was three days later when they heard the news that the Sheriff was in a coma, unexpected to ever wake. Derek felt the guilt wash over him again, the poor man was basically dead and it was all his fault. There was only more heartbreak to come. His uncle Peter informed him that he’d seen the Sheriff’s son, Stiles, the boy he’d been speaking about in his last conscious moments, being dragged from the hospital by social services. His mother had died two years prior and his father was all he had left. Apparently one of the nurses had a son who was Stiles’ best friend and she’d insisted that he should stay with them until his father woke up. Child services wouldn’t listen to her and Peter had watched as the ten-year-old child was dragged kicking and screaming from the hospital. Screaming for his father. Derek had never felt more like a complete and utter bastard.

His decisions had taken a father from his son. He would never again trust his own judgement.

Derek visited the hospital, more often than he would ever admit, he sat with the Sheriff, told him over and over how sorry he was, but it didn’t ease any of the guilt. He had tried to track down his son, see if there was some way that Stiles could stay with them until his father recovered, he knew it was only guilt talking, he had no idea how he would ever be able to earn their forgiveness. He never managed to track Stiles down, and soon the weeks turned into months and then into a year and still there was no sign of him.

“Derek, nice to see you here again.” Nurse McCall said as she came through the door.

“You too Ms McCall.”

“I’ve told you it’s Melissa.” Melissa said, smiling brightly at him. Derek nodded, knowing that he never would call her that, he had to keep his distance from everyone, he only brought destruction. “He’s not doing so well today.” She said, monitoring the machines that kept John Stilinski alive.

“But shouldn’t he be getting better?” Derek asked, his heart beating rapidly in his chest. He needed John to live.

“Oh, sweetie,” Melissa said turning to him, tucking a stray dark curl behind her ear, “John, he’s,” She paused, “He’s dying Derek. The machines keep him alive, but there’s very little hope he’ll ever wake up.”

“Can’t someone do something?” Derek said, feeling his eyes well up with tears.

“We’re doing everything we can.” Melissa say, placing a comforting hand over Derek’s. “Believe me, if there was anything I could do I would have done it already. Scott misses them both so much, he won’t stop mithering me about when John is going to wake up so they can get Stiles back. Every day it breaks my heart seeing him like this, not even knowing where Stiles is, or how he’s doing. They went through so much you know, losing Claudia, Stiles, well he grew up so quickly, his mum got sick when he was six and he took care of her until it got too bad, then when she died, he took care of his dad, and they meant everything to each other. I hate to think of Stiles alone, not knowing how his dad is doing.” Melissa said, sniffling slightly, wiping at her eyes.

“But, there’s nothing we can do.” She said, taking a step away and placing her hand on Johns, “We have to just keep hoping that John finds a way out of this.” She said, glancing back at Derek before leaving the room.

“I’m not going to let you die.” Derek said angrily, “You don’t get to die. Not because of me.” He said striding out the room and heading for home. His mum was waiting on the steps, as if she’d known he was coming and what he was about to ask.

“Okay.” She said simply.

“Okay?” Derek said, stopping in his tracks, suddenly terrified that his mum could in fact read his mind.

“He’s dying Derek. If he survives the bite he’ll live, if he doesn’t, it will lessen his time suffering in the in-between.” She said quietly and Derek nodded, pulling her into a tight hug.

“Thank you.” He whispered into her ear, glad that he hadn’t even needed to ask.

“You carry too much guilt Derek.” She said, pulling away from him and gazing into his eyes, “This wasn’t your fault. None of it was. You put your trust in the wrong person. We’ve all done it.” Talia said, smiling gently at him.

“That may be true.” Derek said, “But you could have still died because of me, the whole family could have, and maybe you’ve put your faith in the wrong person before, but it’s never come with the risk of destroying the family. I should have known.”

“You were sixteen Derek. You are allowed to not know everything. I shouldn’t have been so harsh on you. I should have been keeping a closer eye on you. I was just so sure you needed space, after everything with Paige, I wanted to give you time to grieve and instead I practically pushed you into her arms. I’m the alpha Derek. I should have watched over you and I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault.” Derek said, feeling such a deep sorrow in his chest at the thought of that night.

“Nobody is at fault, other than that bitch, and when she’s eventually tracked down, we’ll make sure she suffers for breaking the code.” Talia said, smiling at him with love in her eyes.

“Okay.” Derek mumbled, trying to believe her words, but still only feeling guilt at the situation. “So, will you come to the hospital?” Derek asked and his mum nodded firmly.

Melissa looked surprised to see him back again so soon and smiled politely at his mother.

“He’s worse than earlier.” She said, “It’s probably good that you came back.” She said, a forced smile on her lips, Derek knew what she was trying to say, that John probably wouldn’t make it until the next day. He could see the grief in her eyes already, the evidence there for all of them to see that she truly cared about John Stilinski.

“Ms McCall, my mum wanted to come say hi, I hope that’s okay?” Derek asked.

“Derek, it’s Melissa, please. Of course it’s fine.” Melissa said, pushing back her hair slightly and wiping at her eyes at the same time. “Scott wants to see him too, but I told him it probably wouldn’t be for the best. He remembers John as full of life and always smiling, seeing him like this, I don’t want that to be his last memory of him.” She said, apologizing when she started to cry.

“Melissa, please don’t cry.” Derek said, gripping her hand tightly.

“I’m sorry.” She said between sniffles, “It’s just, I really thought he’d pull through, and to see him like this, watching him fade away, it’s just like Claudia all over again. And I just keep thinking about Stiles, and how he’s doing, and god, I just want them back so badly.” She said, breaking into full blown tears. Talia was suddenly surging forwards and hugging the woman tightly and Derek watched with fascination as Melissa sobbed onto his mum’s shoulder.

“It’ll all work out. I’m sure.” His mum said a few minutes later when Melissa’s tear had finally stopped.

“I wish I had your faith.” Melissa said heading for the door.

As soon as she left Talia went towards John, watching the monitor next to his bed. Derek remained silent as his mum sat down on the bed and raised John’s wrist to her lips. She bit down hard, her eyes flashing red, her teeth cutting through his soft flesh easily. A moment later she lowered his arm gently back down onto the bed and moved to the chair next to the bed.

“What now?” Derek said nervously

“We wait.” Talia responded softly, worry in her voice. Derek slumped into the extra seat, praying with everything he had that this worked. He could only hope that John would survive and then they would be able to reunite father and son.

Thankfully the bite took and within twenty-four hours John was awake and blinking at them slowly. The doctors had called it a miracle, they knew differently. Melissa had come back in that morning, looking at John with amazed eyes and sobbing openly as she clutched at his hand.

“Stiles?” John asked, the first word to come out of his mouth.

“He’s,” Melissa faltered, “He’s not here at the moment. But we’ll get him soon John.” Melissa smiled, looking like the sun had finally risen. John nodded seriously, glancing across at Talia, his body tensing slightly.

“Could we have a minute alone?” Talia asked and Melissa looked at them oddly before glancing at John who nodded.

“Yeah, sure, I’ll be right outside if you need anything.” She said, retreating quickly. As soon as the door shut John sighed heavily.

“What have you done?” He said and Derek faltered, the man sounded so upset, he shouldn’t sound like that. The bite was a gift.

“Mr Stilinski, you were dying. I did what was necessary to keep you alive.” Talia replied.

“Where’s Stiles?” John said, sitting himself up.

“Well, Stiles is,” Talia paused quietly,

“Please don’t lie to me.” John whispered, “Stiles is all I have. I can hear your heart beating. I can hear Melissa’s heart beating. Hell, I can hear half the hospital. I know you’ve done something to me. I want to know that Stiles is okay. I want my son.”

“Firstly, John, as far as I’m aware Stiles is fine. As for what I’ve done to you, I bit you, I turned you into a werewolf. It will have enhanced your hearing, your sense of smell, your eyesight, your speed, agility, healing capabilities. It is a gift from us to you, to thank you for saving our family.”

John gazed at her, it was evident that whatever he’d been expecting to hear it wasn’t that.

“I’m sorry what?” He spluttered in surprise, his eyes going wide as Talia flashed her eyes at him and John’s flashed blue in reply, his claws breaking through his skin and his teeth descending. Derek could smell the waves of fear and surprise spreading from him and he took a step forward to comfort him, flashing his eyes in response. John seemed to relax and Derek let go of the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding as John’s claws and teeth retracted.

“Okay.” John said, staring at them in awe, “So, that’s new. But you still haven’t answered my question. Where’s Stiles?” He said, the worry evident.

“Stiles, he was taken by child services, a week after your admission.” Talia said quietly and John tensed up.

“A week? How long ago was that? How long have I been here?” John said, suddenly flinging his legs over the side of the bed and pulling the wires from his skin.

“A little over a year.” Derek said.

“They’ve had my son for a year?” John shouted, his eyes flashing dangerously, Melissa came back in the room, obviously brought in by the shouting. “Why do child services have Stiles Melissa? Why didn’t he stay with you?” John demanded.

“I tried. They wouldn’t let me.” Melissa said, her voice breaking slightly, “You have to believe me, I did everything I could.” She said and John suddenly calmed down, his breathing was still heavy but otherwise he seemed to relax.

“It’s fine. It’s not your fault. I just, I need to see my boy.” John said, pulling out the remaining wires and getting to his feet.

“You should rest John. You’ve only just woken up. I’ll get in touch with them, find out where Stiles is okay?” Melissa said comfortingly.

“No. He’s been without me for a year. You don’t understand, losing his mum, god, I promised him I’d always be there. I told him I’d be home to take him to school. I, god, I need my boy.” John said, sobbing heavily as Melissa rubbed his back calmly.

“I know John. We’ll get him home okay? I’ll call them now.” She said, disappearing from the room leaving Talia and Derek to stare at him.

“Thank you. Thank you for bringing me back.” John said, staring at the floor.

“You are pack now John. You are family. We’ll find Stiles and we’ll bring him home, together.” Talia said, smiling at him when John bared his neck to her. “Come on. Get dressed and then let’s get out of here.” She said, tossing John a bag of clothes and pushing Derek towards the door.

Child services wouldn’t discuss it over the phone, they had to go and visit them in person. It was two weeks before the next available appointment and John spent the entire time cursing every single one of the government officials. Thankfully he seemed to be adapting well to the fact he was a werewolf and was welcomed into the pack with open arms, after all he had already proven his loyalty to them just by doing his job that night. He stayed more often than not at the pack house, feeling more stable there than in his own empty home.

Derek had sat with him one night and explained what had happened with Kate, how this was his fault and that he was sorry. John had looked at him with concern in his eyes and explained how it would never be Derek’s fault. The fault would always lie with Kate who had taken advantage of a minor. It was an odd relationship, Derek always got on well with his dad, but John became more like a second father than just another member of the pack. They spent a lot of time together so it came as no surprise when John asked Derek to accompany him to the meeting with child services.

They pulled up to the old grey building in the middle of the Sacramento and John and Derek both winced as the smells overwhelmed their senses. The place smelt of despair, the very idea that Stiles had been here for over a year made John’s stomach turn. He glanced gratefully when Derek put an arm on his shoulder for support.

“Come on.” Derek said steering him towards the main office. There were a few kids hanging about on what Derek guessed was supposed to be a playground, there were two broken swings and a slide so old it looked like it would fall apart as soon as somebody touched it. Derek wondered vaguely if any of these were Stiles, they didn’t look like the photo that John had shown him, the boy with the bright smile and the brown mischievous eyes.

They entered the office and were greeted by a friendly man who offered them a seat and a drink and then informed them that Mrs Muller would be with them shortly. John’s leg was tapping out a rhythm on the floor, his whole body shaking with nerves. Derek wondered what was possibly going on in the mans’ head.

“What if he’s mad at me?” John blurted out a moment later and Derek gazed at him in shock.

“What?” He said in confusion

“Stiles, what if he’s mad because he’s been here?” John said, chewing on his lip nervously.

“I think he’ll be too glad to see you.” Derek reassured him.

“You don’t know Stiles. He’s so stubborn, he can hold a grudge like no-one’s business.” John said, smirking a little at a memory of his son.

“I’m sure he’ll just be glad to get out of here and have you back. He’ll probably give you shit the whole ride home though.” Derek said, glad to see John relax slightly and a small smile appear on his lips.

“Mr Stilinski?” A woman called out and both John and Derek turned to look at her. She was an older lady, her dark hair greying slightly at the roots, she looked harassed but managed a small smile, “Would you like to come through?” She said motioning to her office.

Derek sat in one of the seats, John sat on the edge of the other, obviously barely able to sit still in the anticipation of seeing Stiles.

“Mr Stilinski,” Mrs Muller began and the tone of her voice made Derek frown, it didn’t sound good, “I’m so very sorry, I’m new here, and I would have thought that someone would have already told you, I’m so sorry to have to inform you of this.” She paused, glancing down at the file in front of her, and John looked at her with concern in his eyes, “Your son, Stiles, he was with us for three weeks. In that time, it says that he tried to leave the facilities a number of times.”

“Of course he would. You took him from my hospital bed.” John said, his voice sounding slightly angry but he still seemed to be in control so Derek wasn’t worried.

“Mr Stilinski,” Mrs Muller’s tone changed to one of sorrow and Derek felt like a knife was twisting in his gut, he didn’t like that tone at all, “Stiles attempted to leave the facility one night and was hit by a car in the process. I’m so sorry but he didn’t survive the accident.” Derek felt like the ground had just collapsed underneath him, he had no idea how John was feeling but the sudden green tint in his face suggested not well.

“No.” John mumbled, “No, that can’t be right. Please check you have the right file.” John said calmly.

“I’m sorry Mr Stilinski, it’s definitely the right file.” Mrs Muller said, and Derek could see how uncomfortable she was with the whole situation.

“But you weren’t here. You don’t know. My son, Stiles, he wouldn’t do that. He wouldn’t step out in front of a car. I raised him to know better than that, he wouldn’t.” John mumbled, tears starting to spill down his cheeks.

“I wasn’t here, I can only read through the notes, it says that Stiles stepped into the path of an oncoming vehicle, he was hit, paramedics tried to revive him but he died on scene. As he was a ward of the state he was given a basic funeral and his ashes scattered at the cemetery nearby.”

“He was cremated?” Derek asked, feeling the grief from John rolling over him in waves.

“He can’t be. Please, I just, I need to see my son.” John said and Mrs Muller shook her head in despair, tears trickling down her cheeks at the scene in front of her.

“I’m so very sorry for your loss.” She said, “But it was all confirmed by my predecessor, I have a copy of his death certificate if you’d like?” She said, handing Derek the sheet of paper. Derek’s heart was breaking for John. John’s heart was just breaking.

“No. This can’t be happening.” John said, holding his head in his hands. “No. Not Stiles. Please.” He sobbed.

Mrs Muller sat with them for a while longer until Derek managed to steer John from the room and back towards the car. Derek drove them home in silence, he didn’t know what to say, there was nothing to say. Stiles was dead and it was his fault. If he’d never met Kate, John wouldn’t have been shot, Stiles wouldn’t have been taken and right now John and Stiles would be sat at home happily enjoying their day.

They pulled up to the house, the pack already waiting for them on the porch, waving happily at the sight of them. Melissa and Scott stood at the front, Melissa holding Scott in place, the boy practically bouncing with the excitement of getting to see Stiles.

Derek got out first, shaking his head at his mum, wishing for a moment that she could read his mind, knowing that she couldn’t. Only shock registering on her face as she smelt the grief coming from both of them. Scott bounced forward, opening the back door of the car before any of them could react.

“Where’s Stiles?” He asked, looking at John who was clutching tight to the one piece of paper that was his last link to his son.

“Scott, honey, why don’t you wait inside?” Melissa said, suddenly seeing the state of John and trembling slightly.

“No!” Scott said, stomping his foot in a tantrum he was probably too old for. “I want Stiles. Where is he?” Derek looked at the boy, he was eleven, his puppy dog eyes half hidden under his shaggy brown hair. He looked lost, Derek could only imagine what the kid must be feeling and he knew that was his fault too. Scott had lost his best friend because of Derek.

“Scott,” John said, his voice sounded awful and Derek cringed away, this was the true voice of grief, “Scotty, come here.” John said patting his lap and Scott looked at him with worry before jumping on his lap. “Scott, Stiles, he was, he got hurt.” John said, fighting back tears. The whole pack looked at Derek in shock and he nodded solemnly. “He got hurt very badly and he couldn’t stay with us. He’s with his mum.” John said, his whole body shaking with emotion. Scott stared at him, his brown eyes wide with confusion.

“No. Stiles wouldn’t leave. He has to look after you, he told me so, he wouldn’t leave because he needs to look after you. Now you’re better he’ll come back. He promised he’d come back.” Scott said, looking around at the adults surrounding him. “Don’t you understand?” He said, jumping down from John’s lap, “Stiles can’t be gone. He promised.” Scott said, stopping when John started to sob again. “I don’t,” He looked to his mum in confusion, saw the tears streaming down her cheeks, “I don’t understand, mum, please, Stiles promised.” Scott said, his eyes wide and pleading.

“Scott, sweetie,” Melissa said, kneeling on the ground next to Scott, “Sometimes, people make promises, and they want to keep them, they really do, but they can’t. I know Stiles would have tried to come back here, he would have tried very, very hard. But sometimes things happen, and those promises get broken okay?”

“No.” Scott whispered in denial, his throat closing up as he fought back tears, “Stiles promised me mum. He promised. He promised.” Scott stuttered, tears making his words crack and muddle together.

That was a day that Derek would never forget. That was the event that he would never forgive himself for. This was his fault, watching John fall apart, watching Scott, a kid he’d never met before, fall so completely and utterly apart, this was his fault.

The pack rallied around John and somehow he made it through, it wasn’t easy, but each day he got up, he went to work, he kept moving forwards, sometimes he would sit and cry silently and Derek would despise those days. He would hate witnessing the grief that his actions had caused. He watched anyway, this was his fault, he deserved to see the pain that he had caused. He deserved to suffer too.

Sometimes he’d see John watching a kid in the street, his hand half raised as if to shout out to Stiles, then he’d see the memory come crashing over John that Stiles was dead and his hand would drop and his eyes would fill with tears and Derek would witness it all as his punishment. Eventually that lessened, until years later it had stopped altogether.

Little by little John improved, he started to smile occasionally, he threw all of his efforts into the pack, determined to research and know all he could on werewolf lore, often teaching some of the younger members how to behave in public. Derek still smelt loss on him though. It was less when Scott and Melissa were around, he wondered vaguely if John was ever going to admit to his feelings for her, she might not be his mate, but he obviously cared deeply for her and she cared for him too.

She found out about werewolves a year later and she’d been so mad that John hadn’t told her, but then she’d taken it in her stride, even deciding to inform Scott about it. The kid had grinned happily and Derek couldn’t help but wonder how different he would be if Stiles were still here. From all accounts Stiles was the one with the crazy ideas, he was the one that would show no fear and do something incredibly stupid nine times out of ten.

Sometimes Scott sat and talked to Derek about Stiles. Derek didn’t know why Scott chose him, but he went along with it, if it helped Scott to deal with it then Derek would listen to all the crazy stories. He thought sometimes Scott must have exaggerated the details, after all surely a nine-year-old wouldn’t have even known where to get hold of a hundred rats, never mind know how to put them in the school vents? He’d glanced across at John who had just shook his head in despair and laughed quietly, an obviously happy memory for John now.

When Derek was twenty-two his whole life flipped upside down. The pack had grown, blossomed even, there were more pack members than ever before, they all still stayed around Beacon Hills but they’d moved into their own houses on the preserve when the house just couldn’t hold them all any more.

John was sat on the porch with Derek, drinking a beer that would have no effect on either of them. His mum and Laura were in the house, Peter was in the back shed completing some painting on his next project and the rest of the pack were either in bed or out for the night. The next night was a full moon and Derek could feel the pull of it somewhere in the back of his mind. He’d long since learnt how to control his wolf.

“So, when are you going to get out there and start dating again?” John said out of nowhere and Derek nearly spit his drink out. “Come on, you haven’t dated since, well, since Kate. You should get out there. You’re not going to find your mate waiting around here.”

“I’m not looking.” Derek said a minute later.

“What do you mean?” John asked, raising an eyebrow at him.

“I mean, I’m not looking. Whoever my mate is, I don’t want them. I’ve messed up so many times, I don’t trust that even if I met them tomorrow that I wouldn’t mess up again.” Derek said quietly, trying to make sure Laura couldn’t hear. She’d given him so much shit over the years about it, he’d always denied the reason behind it though, if she heard him now, she’d drag him out to the nearest club, strip him bare and throw him out the waiting crowd. He blushed at the thought of it.

“You know you’re a good kid Derek. Just a kid who made a mistake. You should stop blaming yourself.” John said, leaning back in his chair and looking up at the stars.

“My decisions had consequences. I don’t want to date. Or to find my mate. I wouldn’t inflict this on them.” He said solemnly. John looked like he was about to tell Derek what an idiot he was being when a scream tore through the preserve.

“What was that?” Derek said jumping from his seat, ears prickling for more noise. Another scream, louder, more terrified, he knew that voice.

“Scott!” John and Derek both said, starting in the direction of the scream. They heard Talia, Laura and Peter behind them. There were more screams, they ran faster.

Derek stumbled onto a scene that made him want to throw up. He’d known Scott was going camping in the preserve with a group of friends, he’d thought they would be safe, he’d been so wrong.

An alpha wolf was pouncing on the group, tearing chunks from them as it bit into them again and again. His mum was already turning, transforming to attack the rogue alpha who was seeming to enjoy playing with his food.

Derek dashed forward, grabbing hold of one of the boys, seeing a bite at his hip, trying to drag him out of the way of the fight. The rogue alpha seemed to have realized another alpha was present and was turning on Talia, baring its teeth, it’s hackles stood up on end making it look a monstrous size. Talia dove into the fight without fear and John, Derek, Laura and Peter did all they could to drag the remaining kids out of the way.

“Scott!” John called out, dashing towards the boy who was flat on the ground. Derek could hear his steady heartbeat, knew that he was alive for now. John had turned his back on the fight to get to Scott and he didn’t see as Talia was flung backwards into him. They connected hard and both went down. Laura and Peter were on the other side of the clearing, helping two girls to get out of the way, Derek was the only one close enough to do anything.

He ignored the fear running through his system, instead focusing on the fact that his mum, John and Scott were all weak at the moment and the alpha had them set in its’ sights. Just as the alpha launched itself at them Derek threw himself into its path, catching around the back of the alpha’s neck and holding tight.

He was spun around like a ragdoll, but he clung tightly, tightening his grip as he felt bones begin to break under the strength of it. He felt the presence of his mother at his back and knew that she was up and ready to fight again. He wanted to let go, but he didn’t know how. The alpha snapped at him and Derek only just missed its giant jaws. As he twisted he felt something snapping under his grip and it was only when the alpha fell to the ground Derek realised that he must have broken its neck.

He let go and got to his feet slowly, his mum was looking at him, she looked incredibly proud and Derek help but blush under the scrutiny. Talia bent to the wolf on the ground and finished it with a killing blow before turning to look at the destruction around her.

There had been eleven kids camping, Derek could see the remains of three of them at least. The others were covered in multiple bites and Derek knew that even if they survived they would all become wolves. Only one seemed to have come out of it without any damage and she was currently kneeling over Scott with fear shining in her eyes.

“Oh my god. Is he going to be okay?” She asked, sighing weakly in relief when Scott opened his eyes to look at her.

“Ally, are you okay?” He mumbled and the girl bit back a nervous laugh.

“I’m fine Scott. I swear, you ever do anything like that again and I’ll kill you.” She said, tears streaming down her face as she stroked at his hair. Derek thought vaguely how nice it must be to have young love like that. Then he thought of Paige, of Kate, he frowned. At sixteen Scott McCall and his friends were going to be werewolves. He felt sorry for them, teenage years were hard enough without having to deal with the emotions that your wolf brought with it.

That night eleven teenagers had gone out in the woods to have fun camping, three died, six were bitten, Scott, Jackson, Erica, Isaac, Boyd and Lydia. Allison and Danny both escaped without a scratch thanks to Scott apparently. Lydia thanked her lucky stars when it turned out she was a banshee not a werewolf, apparently she couldn’t handle the extra hair. Derek had snorted at that and Lydia had smiled at him.

Somehow, and Derek wasn’t sure how, the newly turned teens all seemed to turn to him for advice. He wasn’t sure why, surely Cora, who was their age, would have been better to talk to, but for whatever reason they seemed to trust him. Derek always tried to think carefully before offering them any advice, and it was usually the same thing, trust your instincts, listen to your wolf. He didn’t want any of them to make the same mistakes as him.

They all joined the pack happily and Derek knew that the pack could only blossom from the new additions. He caught the sad smiles that John sometimes wore when he looked at Scott, no doubt he was wondering what they’d be doing if Stiles was with them. But they grew less over time and Derek was relieved.

As time passed Derek grew into a position of importance in the pack. Obviously, his father was the alphas mate and he was pretty much the same as an alpha. Laura was always intended to be alpha after his mother and Derek had no issues with that. Laura would be a great alpha, but after that, his mother always turned to him and John. She trusted their words, John often led with his heart, Derek was suspicious of everyone. Somehow it balanced out.

When Derek was twenty-four John moved into the Hale house permanently, he muttered something about not wanting to live with ghosts and Derek sort of understood. The house where he had lived with his wife and son must only be a constant reminder of what he had lost.

Derek went to visit other packs with Laura when his parents couldn’t make it, he was happy with his lot. Despite the fact that they all encouraged him to date, the last incident even involved locking him in a room with some poor woman, he’d torn the door from its hinges to escape and there had been no attempts since. Derek was fine as he was, he didn’t want to meet his mate. He didn’t want to be a disappointment.

Initially Derek had distrusted Allison, she was an Argent after all, but she proved time and time again that she wasn’t like her aunt, often protecting them in battle. Although the fights were fewer and further between now. Not many supernatural creatures strayed onto their lands when there was such a powerful pack in place.

Scott and Allison were sickly in love, it made Derek gag sometimes and he often caught Cora making the same motions, despite the fact that she was just as loved up with Isaac. Derek couldn’t help but feel lonely sometimes, everyone around him seemed to have met their mate and radiated love at every opportunity.

They were celebrating Boyd’s twenty second birthday, it just so happened to be Derek’s twenty eighth as well but he was trying to keep that quiet. There was cake and music and dancing and Derek laughed along with the rest of them as they celebrated the event. He felt content and that was surely more than he could ever ask for, more than he could ever deserve.

It was a few days later when a message arrived for them and Derek sat in the study with his mother Laura, John, Peter, Lydia and Scott, all who had proved themselves invaluable over the years.

“I’ve received a message from Brent, the alpha of the Nevada City pack.” His mother began looking serious and Derek sat up straighter in his seat. They all knew who Brent was, he was known to be unstable, violent, and generally insane but his right hand beta was worse. A man they called Red, if even half the rumours were true then it was clear that the man was a bloodthirsty maniac, it was only the fact that Brent kept him in control that he hadn’t already exposed their existence to the world. Nobody messed with Brent because Red would kill them, viciously and cruelly. Derek felt a shiver run down his spine at the thought of the name. He knew he shouldn’t be afraid of the man, after all he was still only a beta like Derek, but still, it was his name that the pups whispered when they were telling each other stories, Red that they feared to find hiding under their beds, Red that would come and kill them while they slept.

“What does he want?” Laura said calmly, although Derek knew she dreaded the name as well.

“Apparently, there are some hunters after them. He believes they will be coming after us too. He’s requested a meet as agreed within our treaty.” Talia said stiffly.

“These hunters aren’t something that Red could take of?” Peter said arching an eyebrow and Derek smirked slightly. “Perhaps the rumours are exaggerated.” He said, Derek fought back a smile, sometimes he was sure that Peter could read his mind.

“Perhaps they are.” Talia said, sounding worried, “Either way, it may be sensible to meet with him. I haven’t seen him in nearly fifteen years and it’s important to keep treaties in place.” Laura nodded in agreement.

“Fine. But we should decide where. And we need to decide on numbers, how many do we take? We don’t want to look worried, but we don’t want to look weak. Also, if it’s a trick and we leave members behind, they could use that as their advantage and plan an ambush.” Laura said and Talia nodded, clearly thinking it over.

“Erm,” Scott said clearing his throat, “What about, if we said we were going on a hiking holiday, as a pack, there’s that hotel in the middle of the woods, the one near the mountain lake?” Scott continued when they nodded in recognition, “Well, we go there, as a pack, on holiday, then should we need to be, we’re all there in an instant, but it doesn’t look like we’re all there for the meet, it just so happened to coincide with our holiday?” Scott said glancing at Talia nervously.

Derek couldn’t help but admit it was a good plan, plus the fact that there would be plenty of humans around, Brent wouldn’t risk something in front of them. But it was still reclusive enough that the hunters wouldn’t be able to attack them directly. Derek liked the plan.

“Peter, see if you can book us some rooms for the weekend please? Let’s see, thirty should be enough. John, can you round the pack up and ensure that everyone is aware of the situation? I’ll reply to Brent and inform him where to meet us. Scott, thank you for your input, it’s a good plan.” Talia said smiling and Scott grinned happily. Derek couldn’t help but smile at the glee on Scott’s face, it was always the little things with Scott.

Brent replied later that day that he was happy to meet at the hotel and he would see them there on Friday. Derek could sense the nerves running through the adults of the pack, they had all heard the rumours, they all knew what they could be letting themselves in for. Brent had never been known to ask for help from other packs, if he was doing, then it must be bad. Either Red wasn’t all he was cracked up to be, or the hunters were worse.

Derek didn’t sleep well that night, his dreams were filled were blood and screams, broken sobs, lifeless eyes staring up at him, his pack slaughtered at his feet, Kate laughing, a hooded figure in red standing on the opposite side of the clearing to him. He woke up suddenly, his heart pounding in his chest, his vision still flooded with the image of Laura’s empty gaze staring up at him.

“Derek, Derek! It’s okay!” Laura was saying, gripping his face tightly between her hands. “It’s okay. It was just a dream.”

“Kate.” Derek stuttered out and he watched as Laura’s face paled. “She watched you all die, she laughed.” He sobbed.

“She didn’t kill us Derek. She didn’t. She won’t.” Laura said, cradling him gently. Derek felt like he was sixteen again, his older sister still looking out for him. He didn’t care that he was twenty-eight and sobbing onto her shoulder, the dream had been so real, so incredibly vivid. He couldn’t lose them.

“It’s okay.” Laura muttered, stroking his hair gently until he started to drift back to sleep. Derek knew he’d feel embarrassed about it in the morning, but right now he just needed the comfort. He drifted back to sleep and his mind was empty.

They travelled to the hotel in a convoy of cars, all of them piling in, more subdued than Derek would have liked. They were all obviously worried about Brent, about Red.

“Relax a bit. It’s a holiday.” Erica said, jumping out of one of the large cars. “Who fancies dumping their stuff and then running to this lake Scott’s on about?” She said happily, a chorus of voices agreeing with her. Derek could still sense the tension in Erica, but he was glad she was putting on a brave face and trying to convince others to relax especially the pups.

“This time tomorrow, it will all be over.” Scott said from next to Derek.

“I hope so.” Derek mumbled in reply. He couldn’t wait to get this over with.

The next morning, he walked down the hallway silently. The rest of the pack were already out on a hike and he sat down in one of the seats in the conference hall. They’d managed to book it and Derek was glad, he didn’t think this was a conversation that he wanted to be having in public. Talia, Lydia, Peter, Scott, Laura, John and Boyd were already sat at the table when he came in. He walked forward and took a seat in between Scott and Laura.

“Any sign of them yet?” He said sipping at his coffee.

“They’ll be here any moment.” Talia said, straightening in her seat. They followed her lead. A few minutes later the door opened and they rose from their seats.

“Talia, how lovely to see you again.” Brent said stepping forwards and shaking her hand. Derek took the moment to study Brent, he was older than Derek had expected, late thirties, maybe early forties, he had short blonde hair, he was built like a wall, solid, sturdy, and although he was smiling it reminded Derek of a shark, his eyes cold and hostile and he saw the madness there.

“Brent, I admit it has been a while. How have you been?” Talia asked conversationally. Derek studied the other four men that had entered with him, none of them were dressed in red, Derek scoffed at his own idiocy, just because he was called Red didn’t mean he only lived in red. It could have been any of them, they were all tall, broad, harsh looking men, the slight variance in hair colours the only thing that meant Derek could tell them apart.

“Well, introductions, of course, I’m so excited to meet your pack.” Brent said and Talia introduced them slowly, Brent shaking each of their hands, Derek avoided the instinct to wipe his hand on his trousers afterwards.

“Lovely to meet you all, these are my seconds, Matt, Mark, Luke and Logan.” He said introducing them each in turn. Derek forgot which one was which the moment Brent had finished, he was just glad that Red wasn’t among them.

“What about your other second?” Peter asked.

“My other second?” Brent looked at him in confusion.

“Red?” Peter smiled, flashing his teeth and Brent laughed manically.

“Oh, no, Red isn’t my second. He’s my mate. Your records are obviously a little out of date. He’s been my mate for what, eight years now?” He said glancing to who Derek thought might be Matt. Matt nodded in agreement.

“Eight years?” Peter asked, “Wow, well, congratulations. We weren’t aware.”

“We tried to keep it quiet, at least to begin with. Didn’t want people going after him just to get to me. But then, evidently he has proven himself.” Brent said smiling.

“Oh yes, his reputation proceeds him.” Laura said, a forced grin on her face. “Will he be joining us?”

“Yes, he’s just cleaning himself up.” Brent said smiling, “Actually, I believe that’s him now.” A moment later the door cracked open and a young man strode in.

Derek couldn’t help but stare slightly, the guy was perfection on legs, he looked to be around Scott’s age, but he must have been older if they’d been mated for eight years. He was wearing jeans and a red hoodie, things that should make him look awful, but Derek couldn’t tear his eyes away from the guy, he had short light brown hair that Derek wanted to run his fingers through, he was pale, moles covering his skin, full cupid bow lips, a lean muscular body. He had a tattoo created of Latin words that he couldn’t read that circled his neck like a collar, glowing an odd burnt amber, he had lovely brown eyes, that unfortunately, were gazing at them with hatred filling them. Derek didn’t care, he wanted to touch and lick and kiss him anyway. Then the smell hit him and he felt like if he wasn’t sat down he would have fallen over. It was faint, covered by the smell of blood and anger, but he could still almost taste it, he smelt of apples and cinnamon and fresh cut grass and rain in the forest. He tried not to inhale again, he was very close to pouncing over the table and claiming Red as his own.

Instead Red walked slowly to the table, observing them cautiously, then instead of taking a seat, Brent pulled him by the arm, down into his lap.

“Come on Red, play nice.” Brent taunted, wrapping a hand around Red’s waist and shifting him slightly on his lap. Derek couldn’t help but feel irrationally jealous. Brent turned Red’s head towards him, pulling his attention away from those at the table and pulled him into a deep kiss, Derek stared transfixed as the tattoo changed colour slightly, the amber deepening to an almost red colour, he supposed it must be the lighting.

Peter cleared his throat a minute later and Red pulled away slightly to glare at Peter. The hatred in his scent seemed to increase and Derek felt almost overwhelmed by it.

“So, of course, we wanted to discuss the hunters.” Brent said, letting Red slide off his lap and sit in another seat but still keeping a tight grip on the back of his neck.

“Yes. You believe they’re coming?” Talia said, trying to keep her voice neutral.

“Oh yes. They attacked our pack not long ago.” Brent said.

“And why didn’t Red do anything?” Peter asked conversationally and Red glared at him.

“Oh, Red, he did plenty, but at the end of the day there’s only so much he could do.”

“Perhaps we’ve been misinformed of his capabilities?” Peter said and Derek thought about smacking him around the back of the head. Red opened his mouth to speak but Brent cut him off.

“Would you like a demonstration?” Brent smiled, his shark teeth on display and Derek felt himself shiver, he very much did not want a demonstration. He wanted Peter to say the same thing.

“Oh, I’m sure Red is plenty terrifying, I’m just not really getting a wolf smell from him, in fact, he smells almost human, I’m just wondering how powerful a human would really be in this game?”

“That’s because he is almost human.” Brent smirked, “But please, feel free to test it. Red, how about you mark them all. Not enough to leave any damage of course.” Derek noticed that Red was staring at John, his eyes wide with confusion, John instead was looking at Brent with something like disgust on his face.

“Red.” Brent snapped, clicking his fingers in front of Red’s face and getting his attention. “I said mark them all. No permanent damage. Now.” He said, sounding quite harsh. Red stood up suddenly, the tattoo around his neck jumping from amber to red, the hatred evident in his scent, a snarl on his lips.

“I don’t think we need any demonstration.” John said quietly.

“Oh, no, you should, you need to understand what kind of hunters you’re dealing with.” Brent said smiling at them. Derek went to stand, to protect the pack from Red, but before he could do anything there was a slight gust of wind, a sting across his cheek, then Red was standing behind the pack, making his way back around to Brent, Derek tried very hard not to stare at his incredible ass, instead he looked down the table and saw that every one of them had a small cut across their cheek that was already healing.

“You missed one.” Brent said, indicating Lydia.

“She doesn’t heal like them.” Red said, his voice hollow.

“So?” Brent snapped

“You said nothing permanent.”

“I said mark them all.”

“I did.” Red said calmly and at that moment a spot of blood bloomed from Lydia’s fingerprint. Brent saw it and started to laugh. A full bodied laugh that had him bent over the table gasping for air.

“One day, Red, you’re going to be the death of me.” Brent laughed pulling Red into another kiss.

“One can only hope.” Red said sarcastically pulling away and sitting back in his seat. Brent smirked happily.

“It’s good to see that you keep your monster on a tight leash.” Peter smirked and Brent laughed. Oddly, Derek thought he could detect a hint of hurt and embarrassment coming from Red.

“So,” John asked, “Evidently the rumours about your mate are true. Which means these hunters must be truly dangerous?”

Brent nodded. “I do believe you’ve come into contact with them in the past? I’m looking for intel before we act.”

“Really? And who are these hunters?” John asked

“The Argents.” Brent replied and the whole room fell into silence.

“What is it that you want to know exactly and what is your plan?” Talia asked a moment later, wanting to see what Brent’s plan was. Derek couldn’t help but notice how Red’s eyes barely left John, his scent, which had for a brief moment earlier flared with what seemed like hope had gone, instead his scent seemed to fill with more anger and frustration, and something Derek couldn’t place, something like a combination of despair and betrayal, the longer that they were sat there. Derek wondered momentarily how anyone could ever survive the anger Red felt, but he felt it would probably be too personal of a question to ask. He found himself leaning forwards, unable to resist the delicious scent hidden under the anger, thinking that if he could just get close enough then he’d be able to taste it.

He was brought by to his senses by a sudden growl and noticed it was coming from Brent. It was then that he realized he was almost out of his seat. He jumped up quickly, suddenly aware that he’d been sniffing the mans’ mate, he’d been sniffing Red, god, he was such a fucking idiot.

“Sorry. I just need to use the bathroom.” Derek said, practically running from the room. He splashed water on his face, trying to calm himself down enough that he could go back into that room. God, he had no idea why he’d just done that. Red was the enemy, he was the boogie man in the dark, Derek shouldn’t be fucking trying to scent the guy. God, the only time he’d ever seen anyone do that before was with their mate, shit, their mate, his mate. Was Red his mate? He couldn’t be. Red was with Brent. People don’t get two mates. That’s not how it worked.

John opened the door a minute later and Derek had never been so relieved to see the man in my life.

“You okay son?” John asked, looking down at him where Derek was crouched on the floor.

“I think Red might be my mate.” Derek whispered and John crouched down next to him. John looked at him with the concern evident in his eyes.

“Derek, that’s not how it works. We only get one mate. Not someone who’s already mated to someone else.”

“I know.” Derek growled, “Just, he, he smelled really, really good, like I couldn’t think of anything else. And I wanted him. I still want him. I want him more than anything I’ve ever felt before. God, John, what am I going to do?” Derek said, sounding like a lost kid.

“Maybe you just need to get out and get some fresh air, clear your head.” John said. “You could catch up with the others on the hike maybe?” Derek nodded slowly.

“Am I losing my mind?” He whispered.

“No.” John said firmly, “They’ll be another explanation I’m sure. Don’t forget it’s your soulmate. They are the only person in the world for you. It can’t be Red if he’s with Brent, not to mention, the man is evil, pure evil, you deserve someone better than that. Just get some fresh air.” John said standing up, Derek didn’t want to admit that it was probably exactly what he deserved. Somebody evil, a monster as his mate, that seemed right to Derek, it was only fair. “I need to get back in there. Are you going to be okay?”

“Yeah.” Derek said getting to his feet. “I’ll be fine.” Derek said already heading for the outside world, trying to ignore the fact that his wolf was howling at him to go back, to claim Red, to turn around, to claim their mate.

He had barely got to the treeline when he smelt something slightly off, like a rotten egg smell, then before he could think anything else there was the feel of something striking his neck, he pulled the object from his neck, looking down at the dart, gazing at it in surprise as his vision started to blur and his legs gave out. Then there was only darkness.

John had gone back into the room after meeting Derek, his mind racing, Derek never talked about a mate, never wanted a mate, it couldn’t be possible that Red was his mate. Firstly, because Red already had a mate, and secondly because Derek could do so much better. John had avoided looking the guy in the eyes, he didn’t want to look at him and see anything less than a monster. He knew the stories, knew at least some of them were true, and even though Red might look like a kid, John knew he wasn’t, he instead glanced at Scott who was looking at him with worry.

“He’s fine kiddo,” John said, placing a hand on Scott’s shoulder, “Just needed to clear his head a bit.” John could almost feel the gaze of Red on him, could feel the anger radiating from the man, it was odd that John thought it also smelt of hurt and a sense of grief. He glanced up briefly at Red before looking away again as Peter cleared his throat.

“So, the Argents, they are after you? And what is it that you’ve supposedly done?” Peter asked and Brent smiled.

“Well, you know the Argents, they hold grudges for no reason whatsoever.” Brent said shrugging his shoulders, “What we need to know is their weak points.” Brent said.

They decided on a break around lunch time, it didn’t feel like they were getting anywhere and John wanted to get out of that room, to go check on Derek. They said they would resume in an hour and Brent smirked as he gripped Red’s hand tightly and led him towards their room. John didn’t even need to imagine what they would spend their hour doing.

They all wandered around outside, meeting up with the rest of the pack for lunch and hearing about their morning. John didn’t see Derek and he wondered where the man could be, but he also knew that Derek sometimes needed to be by himself, John decided not to push it.

When they returned to the conference room he was overwhelmed by the smell of sex and blood. Red was sat on Brent’s lap again and the older man was smiling happily, Red however was still scowling at them.

“Well, no need to ask what you two were up to.” Peter grinned and Red almost snarled at him, his tattoo turning a bright red.

“Hush now.” Brent said, kissing Red to silence him. “We have work to do Red. Can you behave?” Red remained silent but nodded seriously. “Good boy.” Brent said, letting Red slide off his knee and onto a different chair. John tried to ignore the fact that Red winced slightly, he really didn’t need the mental image of them having sex.

“So, back to business.” Talia said seriously, “We know that they attacked you here.” She said pointing to a building on the map in front of them. “We know that Red attacked several of them at this location.” She pointed to another building. “Which would suggest that they are somewhere in this vicinity.” She said circling an area on the map. Red scoffed. “Do you have any input?” Talia asked authoritatively, Red opened his mouth to speak and Brent put a hand on his leg, squeezing tightly.

“No. Red doesn’t need to speak; do you mate?” Red shook his head angrily.

The conversation continued for a little while longer before there was a knock on the door. John glanced around the room, everyone was here that needed to be, apart from Derek of course, he sniffed slightly and could almost detect the man’s scent, John thought it must be Derek returning to them. Instead when the door opened a second later two humans strolled in, glaring at them in disgust.

“Who are you?” Talia demanded.

“We work for Kate Argent.” The first man said, smiling at Talia. “We’ve here to offer a trade. Give us what we want and we’ll return Derek to you.” There was silence in the room as their words were processed, John could feel his heart rate go through the roof. There was no trace of a lie in their words. They had Derek.

“And what is it you want?” Lydia asked, an almost snarl torn from her lips, John couldn’t help but admit it was impressive.

“Brent knows what we want.” The second man said smirking. Brent stood up snarling at them.

“Red.” Brent said, clicking his fingers and Red turned to look at the men, the tattoo on his neck glowing a bright red. “Kill them. Painfully.” Brent snarled and Red strode forward, the rage coming off him in waves that made John feel sick. The men, that had strolled in full of confidence, died quickly, a short dagger rammed into their brains within a few moments after Red had first moved, before they’d even had the chance to plead for their lives.

“I said painfully.” Brent snarled.

“It was. Very.” Red said, wiping the blood from his blade.

“I wanted it drawn out.” Brent demanded like a petulant child, John wondered briefly which one of them was more monstrous.

“Well, you should have said that then.” Red said, shrugging his shoulders slightly as if it didn’t matter to him one way or the other. John couldn’t help but think Red looked a little smug, as if he’d won something. He supposed that was what you got when you were crazy.

“Are you insane?” Laura shouted, “They have my brother and you killed them! What if they kill him now?” She snarled, confronting Brent.

“Good point.” Brent said, clicking his fingers again, “Red, go find Derek. Bring him back. Preferably alive and in one piece. Kill anyone who gets in your way. Don’t let them capture you under any circumstances. Come back to me.” Red snarled, the tattoo that had faded to a soft orange returning to a hint of red. He nodded and then quickly left the room. John was still staring in shock at the bodies on the floor, he hadn’t even realized Red was carrying any weaponry. Apparently neither did they. It had cost them their lives. John wanted to say he felt bad about it, but these men had Derek and they had probably hurt him and John couldn’t help but feel a hint of satisfaction at their deaths.

“Would anybody like a drink?” Brent said, pouring himself a glass of wine.

“You don’t seem overly bothered about sending your mate to fight these hunters?” Lydia asked in confusion.

“Of course not. I told him to come back. He’ll either come back with Derek or without, but he’ll be back one way or another.” Brent said casually.

“Derek is my son.” Talia snapped. “I happen to consider it of great importance that he comes back in one piece.” She snarled and Brent tensed slightly.

“He’ll bring him back. Red hasn’t been known to fail me yet. Now please, have a drink while we wait.”

Derek had come to his senses slowly, his whole body ached, it felt like he’d been hit by a bus. When he blinked open his eyes it took him a moment to register where he was. He was in an old warehouse, dangling from a hook about forty feet in the air. There was a walkway just below him and about three foot in front of him and he thought that if he kicked out he might just be able to get his feet to it and take some of the weight from his shoulders. Unfortunately, it was too far out of reach and he cursed silently as his body throbbed in agony with the movement.

“Derek, long time no see.” A woman’s voice spoke and he looked up to see Kate standing on the walkway, he thought he might throw up. He snarled at her instead. “oh, lover, I always did love when you made that noise, gives a girl all sorts of nasty ideas.” She said, smirking up at him. “You’ve grown up very nice. Shame that I don’t get to keep you.” She laughed, “Although maybe my father will change his mind on that.”

“What do you want Kate?” He growled.

“Oh, you know, death and destruction.” She smiled before her grin turned more evil than usual, “I want my toy back Derek. Brent took it from me. He gives it back. I let you go. Not too hard to understand is it?” She snarled. Derek wondered vaguely what her latest toy might be, probably some kind of weapon that could shoot wolves at a hundred feet.

“Have you told Brent this?” Derek said, twisting slight, hoping to break the chains that held him in place.

“Of course. They’ll have received the message by now. In fact, you’ve done me a huge favour, there was no way Brent was going to give it to me before, but your whole family there, pressuring him to save you, he’ll have to give in. It’s going to be even easier than I thought.” Kate smiled dementedly.

There was a loud bang from near the entrance and Derek glanced down just in time to see Red coming through the doors. Derek didn’t think he’d ever been so relieved. Red was splattered with blood, his hoodie stained with it. He was holding onto a metal bat and swinging it wildly at anyone within striking distance. He could hear the solid connection of the blows, the heavy drop of bodies to the ground.

By the time that Red got to the walkway he was panting harshly, his skin almost white beneath the blood and Derek could smell that at least some of the blood was Red’s, his tattoo was glowing a brilliant red and he looked younger covered in blood, like he couldn’t be any older than Scott, it made Derek want to protect him. He could smell the fear coming from Red, but Red didn’t show any of it, he still looked dangerous and deadly and completely and utterly in control despite the way his heart was beating like crazy. Kate was staring at him in wonder and Derek struggled helplessly at the chains.

“Red, so nice to see you.” Kate said in greeting.

“Shame. I can’t say the same.” Red growled making to step forward and halting when Kate held up a device in her hands.

“One more step and I’ll drop him.” She smirked, Derek saw Red glance across at him, was that worry in his eyes? “Think you can catch him and kill me?” She taunted. Red shrugged.

“Probably not. But I’m willing to give it a try.” He said, taking a step forward, Kate panicked and pressed the button, Derek felt himself suddenly falling and let out a completely undignified squeak of fear. Then, barely able to register what he was seeing, Red was jumping over the walkway and coming after him. Derek reached out and grabbed onto Red, not sure what exactly the plan was here, despite whatever his powers were, he was still human and he was falling with Derek. Derek might, just maybe, survive the fall, Red would not.

“Hold tight!” Red shouted, wrapping his legs around Derek’s hips and Derek squeezed his eyes shut burying his face in Red’s neck, loving the delicious smell of him. Some tiny part of him was glad that it would be the last thing he smelt before he died. There was a sudden pressure and Derek clung tighter to Red, then there was a faint popping sound and they hit the ground.

Derek was surprised to find that the ground felt softer than he thought it would. He cracked open an eye at the sound of his mother’s voice and couldn’t help but gape as he realized they were back in the conference room.

“What the hell…” He said, looking around in wonder, before realizing that he had landed half on top of Red and the man still had his legs wrapped around Derek. They disentangled themselves as the crowd of people rushed towards them. Derek grinned in disbelief, unable to figure out how they’d survived.

“Dude, you just like popped in out of nowhere.” Scott said in excitement.

“Are you okay?” Laura said, rushing towards him and patting him down, obviously looking for any injuries.

“I’m fine.” Derek said, pushing her hands away gently and turning to look at Red. “Thank you.” Derek said, unable to believe that Red had been the one to save his life.

“Don’t mention it.” Red said blushing slightly, despite the fact he looked exhausted, Derek saw that the tattoo had faded to a soft gold, and he wondered vaguely what all the colours could mean.

“Red.” Brent said, striding forward and gripping Red tightly, pulling him from the crowd, “Are they dead?”

“No. Kate survived.” Red said hollowly.

“I told you to kill them all.” Brent said furiously.

“You also told me to bring Derek back alive. I had to pick one.” Red said angrily, pulling his arm away from Brent.

“Next time, make a better choice, my monster.” Brent snarled, oblivious to the disgusted looks the Hale pack were giving him.

“I hate you!” Red suddenly shouted and the whole room turned towards them and fell still. “I fucking hate you! I despise you! No, you know what? I loathe you! You are the fucking monster not me!” Red screeched, “Don’t fucking touch me.” He shouted when Brent reached out to take him by the arm again, “I hate when you touch me. You know that. You know I wouldn’t even be here if I wasn’t fucking bound to you. I hope you know that, when you’re busy forcing me to play along with your twisted games, I hope you know that I feel fucking sick at the sight of you!” Red raged.

“Enough!” Brent shouted suddenly. “I told you to remain silent so be silent!” They watched as Red fell into silence, the anger radiating from him like nothing they’ve ever felt before, his tattoo suddenly flashing to bright red. “You never speak to me like that again!” Brent shouted, his whole face turning almost purple with rage. They could all see Red gritting his teeth, evidently wanting to say something but seemingly unwilling or unable to. Brent grabbed Red by the arm and steered them towards the door. “Apologies but it seems that I need to have a chat with my mate. We’ll return shortly.” Brent snarled, leaving the room before any of them could speak. Matt, Mark, Luke and Logan all looked at each other before following Brent out of the door.

“What the hell was that?” Scott said, staring at the closed door in shock.

“Derek, what happened?” Talia said, checking again for any injuries he’d sustained.

“Kate.” He whispered, “But Red saved me. He fucking saved me.” He stared after the door in disbelief. “Are we going to talk about what just happened?” He asked, “Did nobody else think that was weird?” Derek asked and watched as everybody else nodded in agreement.

“Derek thinks Red might be his mate.” John said suddenly and then all looked at him in awe and Derek blushed.

“He smells nice.” Derek grumbled to the floor.

“He smells like rage.” Peter said, “If you can smell anything else then congratulations.”

“He doesn’t smell like rage!” Derek said, raising his voice only slightly, “Well, not just rage. Anyway, that’s beside the point, he can’t be my mate. He’s mated to Brent.” He said, his voice sounding hollow.

“I know I’m probably wrong on this one,” Lydia said, “But, Red said he was bound to Brent, not that they were mates.” There was silence in the room.

“No. They are mates.” Laura said, “We know they’ve been having sex, Brent calls him his mate. Besides, Red is a monster who likes killing people, there’s no way that he’s meant for Derek.”

“Sex doesn’t mean mates. Surely you of all people should know that.” Talia said and Derek bit back a laugh at the look on Laura’s face. “Perhaps we need to talk to Brent and Red about this. Subtly ask them to clarify their relationship. But in the meantime, do we know why Kate attacked you?” Talia said turning to Derek.

“She said she wanted some toy back that Brent had stolen. I imagine it’s something with a very clever way of wiping us all out knowing Kate.” Derek said solemnly.

“Did she say anything else?” Scott asked and Derek thought back, had she said anything else? Other than the fact she wanted to keep him, that she’d probably be able to persuade her father to keep him. He wasn’t sure he wanted the others to know that.

“Not that I can think of. It’s all a bit of a blur.”

“Well, can we go back to the fact that Red fucking teleported the two of you back here? I mean I get that he’s evil and everything, but that is still a pretty awesome power.” Scott said in excitement, “And like, Brent says he’s almost human, but that means he’s not completely human and I wonder what else he can do?”

“Scott,” Lydia said seriously, “The guy could probably kill us twenty times over before we even noticed. How about we tone down the excitement?”

“Yeah, but he could have let Derek die and he saved him!” Scott said happily.

“I might have survived the fall.” Derek said quietly.

“Yeah, but, Red didn’t know that!” Laura said, sounding almost as excited as Scott, “Besides, he teleported! Can we just have a moment to focus on that?” She smiled and Derek laughed slightly.

They chatted quietly, running over the events of the afternoon before Talia stiffened slightly and Brent opened the door entering the room with his seconds.

“Apologies for the delay.” He said formally.

“Not a problem.” Talia said with a forced smile that looked a bit more like a grimace. The man smelled strongly of sex and Derek felt his stomach churn at the thought of Red having sex with Brent. Red was his mate, he was almost sure of it. “Will Red be joining us?” Talia asked and Brent bared his teeth slightly.

“No, unfortunately Red has decided to rest for the evening.”

“Nothing wrong I hope?” Peter asked smoothly.

“Actually, Red was injured earlier rescuing your son and I’ve advised him to rest and recover from his wounds. I’ll be sure to pass on your best wishes though.” Brent said formally and Derek felt like they were skating on thin ice.

“So, Derek informs us that Kate believes you stole something from her?” John said without preamble and Brent turned to look at him. He sat down in his seat, smirking at John like he had certain knowledge that John didn’t.

“Yes. I did.” Brent said, never breaking eye contact with John.

“Mind telling us what it is?” Laura asked.

“Of course.” Brent said, clearing his throat and finally looking away from John, “I took a special toy of hers. She wants it back.”

“Okay. So what does this toy do?” Lydia asked, sighing heavily, “Can we call it a weapon please? Toy makes it sound so creepy.” There were a few laughs around the room.

“Of course Lydia.” Brent said, tapping his fingers gently on the table, “This weapon,” He smirked, “is incredibly dangerous. If you know how to use it, how to control it, you could wipe out entire packs in the blink of an eye.”

“And can you control it?” John asked.

“Most of the time. There’s the odd moment where it still catches me by surprise. But I’ve mainly got it under control.” Brent smirked.

“Where is it?” Derek asked.

“Upstairs.” Brent supplied.

“You brought it with you?” Talia asked in surprise.

“Of course.” Brent said smugly, “Where would be the threat otherwise? ‘Oh yes, I could destroy your pack in an instant, just give me a minute to pop to my secret hiding place and grab the weapon.’ It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it somehow.” Brent mocked and Derek had to admit he agreed.

“I’m curious,” Peter said, and Derek groaned, he didn’t like that tone of voice, “About your relationship with Red.” There was silence and Derek watched as Brent clenched his jaw slightly.

“Oh really? And what is it about our relationship that fills you with curiosity?” Brent said tightly.

“Well, we could all pretend that we didn’t hear that outburst earlier, but I’m not one for pretending. Red didn’t sound exactly pleased that you are mates?”

Brent laughed, “Don’t be ridiculous. He is very happy I’m his mate. It is just that sometimes, after incidents like earlier, he’s very hyped up, he’s ready to maim and kill, and he needs me to help take those frustrations out in other ways.” Derek fought back a snarl, that wasn’t how it had felt at all.

“It didn’t smell like that. It smelt like he genuinely hates you.” Peter said, smirking at Brent as if to provoke him. Brent snarled.

“Red!” He shouted, “Here! Now!” There was only a moment’s hesitation before Red popped into existence next to Brent, his back to the rest of the table, he was topless and Derek couldn’t help but stare at the scarred pale skin exposed to them.

“What?” Red practically snarled refusing to turn around and look at anyone other than Brent.

“You’re stitching that up wrong.” Brent said and Derek could suddenly smell the blood radiating from Red. “Here. Give it to me.” Brent demanded and Derek watched as the tattoo around Red’s neck burst into life, as well as two circling his wrists. Derek hadn’t seen them before and he watched in fascination as the tattoos turned a subtle red. Red sighed heavily and passed the needle and thread across to Brent who then started to stitch at a wound at his side.

Derek could almost feel the pain that Red was in as Brent practically stabbed the needle through his skin.

“Can I leave now?” Red asked a minute later and Brent grinned.

“No, sit down. Have a drink with us. The Hale pack seems to think that you’re not happy with me. I thought it would be a good idea to show them how happy you are. Maybe I should fuck you in front of them? Show them how good of a mate you are?”

Derek felt the whole room pale at his words, Red more than any of them.

“I don’t think that’s necessary.” Talia said quietly.

“Are you sure?” Brent said, turning Red around and bending him over quickly, slamming him hard down onto the table. Derek wasn’t the only one to snarl, nobody treated their mate like that, no matter how crazy they were.

“Brent…” Red whispered, his voice sounding broken and Derek looked at him properly, saw the split lip that hadn’t been there earlier, he snarled, nobody should hit their mate, especially when Red was his. Derek knew it with every fibre of his being. Red was his and he would not let Brent hurt him like this. “Brent.” Red said, his voice slightly stronger. “Enough.”

“I don’t think it is actually.” Brent snarled. “Red is mine. It’s time you all learned that.” Brent said, undoing the buckle on his belt.

“They get it.” Red growled from the table, Brent’s hand still pinning him down. “They already understand. They’re just jealous. No need to give them any more reason to be.” Derek couldn’t help but think Red sounded a little desperate.

“Yes.” Scott said suddenly, “We’re sorry if we’ve caused any offence Brent. We just couldn’t understand. Obviously we’re incredibly jealous of you.” Red rolled his eyes and groaned in disbelief and Derek was sure that if he could have facepalmed he would have done.

“You’re jealous of me!?” Brent raged in disbelief, “You should be jealous of Red. I am a very good mate.”

“Of course you are.” Red said, the tattoos glowing red again. “I know what a good mate you are.”

“Good.” Brent said, pulling Red up by his hair and dragging him flush against his body, they could all see the discomfort on Red’s face, “Don’t you dare forget it.” There was no denying that whatever relationship this was, it wasn’t one of mates. Derek was sure that everyone else in the room also recognized that Brent was abusing Red, but none of them seemed to know why Red hadn’t killed the guy already.

He let go of Red and Derek fought the urge to go to him as he sighed in relief. Instead he studied the scars littering Red’s body, there was a fresh trail of blood near his hip where Brent had stitched the wound closed, it was obvious that he had been injured a multitude of times over the years, there were places where the scars were covered by more scars and Derek felt himself marvelling at how brave Red must be to have survived all those battles.

“What is that?” John said, his voice cracking and the whole room turned to look at him, his face had gone almost white and Derek wondered what John could have possibly seen to make him look so terrified.

“What’s what?” Scott asked, following Johns’ gaze.

“That number.” John said, looking directly at Red. Derek looked and there was indeed a number carved into Red’s pale flesh, just above his heart, it looked to be years old but Derek couldn’t help but feel it was familiar somehow. “Why have you got that number Red?” John asked and Red flinched slightly as Brent gripped his arm tightly.

“Yeah, Red, I’ve wondered about that one too.” He said sarcastically, smirking at Red, “Why don’t you share with the class?”

“Go to…” Red started, evidently going to tell Brent to go to hell.

“No. Tell them.” Brent smirked, Derek watched as Red fought to keep his mouth shut, the tattoos turning a bright red, the brightest Derek had seen yet.

“To remind me.” Red snarled through gritted teeth a minute later.

“Remind you of what?” John said, his voice small and timid, seemingly terrified by whatever Red was saying, staring at him with something like hope and fear in his gaze. Derek was trying to figure out why the numbers seemed so familiar. Red was just shaking his head in despair.

“Yes, Red, tell him what you needed to remember.” Brent said proudly and Red snarled at him.

“I hate you. One day I’m going to really enjoy cutting your heart out.” He whispered as all the fight seemed to leave him.

“I know. But that’s what makes it all the more fun.” Brent smirked.

“To remind you of what Red?” John demanded and Red sighed heavily.

“To remind me of you. To make sure I came back. Like I promised.” Red said and the words hung heavy in the silent room.

Derek suddenly realised, the number was John’s badge number. He gazed at John, who looked like he was about to faint.

“Stiles…” He whispered faintly and Red nodded grimly, looking to be on the verge of tears.

“What?” Scott said in astonishment. “No! Stiles is dead.” He said, looking at Red with wide eyes. Derek stared at Red then, really looked at him, he had the same coloured eyes from the photos, even if they’d hardened over time, the same moles, although there seemed to be more of them now. The same hair colour, the same pale skin, full lips, now that Derek thought about it, he even smelled a little bit like John.

“I wish I was.” Stiles replied and Scott looked like someone had just knifed him in the gut.

“I don’t believe you.” Scott growled. “Tell me something only Stiles would know.” Red sighed heavily.

“When we were eight you told me that you were going to grow up and be the first person on the moon. I laughed, I had to tell you that there had already been a man on the moon. You were so disappointed that you started to cry. Then I had to spend the next four hours convincing you that the landing was a fake and of course you could be the first man on the moon if that’s what you wanted.” Red said sadly and Scott just welled up, tears spilling freely down his cheeks.

“No. No. This, this can’t be real.” John said gazing at Stiles in shock.

“What? Don’t want a monster for a son?” Brent smirked and Stiles glared at him.

“Stiles…” John whispered, seemingly unable to comprehend that his son was standing in front of him.

Stiles went to move towards John and Brent growled. “Stay.” Stiles froze, the tattoo’s turning bright red almost looking as if they were burning into his skin and Stiles gazed at the floor in defeat.

“You know, it took me a while there.” Lydia said angrily as the whole room turned to look at her, “Reading Latin is hard enough when it’s not constantly moving.” Stiles glanced up at her and it looked something like relief was shining in his eyes, “Exactly how long have you had Stiles bound like a slave? Having to carry out your slightest desire?” She said in disgust and Derek looked at the tattoos with an anger he’d never felt in his life. Was Brent controlling Stiles?

“Hmm, you’re quite smart aren’t you?” Brent laughed, pulling a knife from one of Stiles’ pockets. “Put it to your throat. Don’t move it from there.” He ordered and Stiles growled as he took the knife and held it against his throat. “Good boy. Now why don’t we sit down and discuss this like adults?” He said, sitting down in one of the seats and then pulling Stiles’ into his lap.

“Take your hands off my son.” John growled and Brent laughed.

“Oh, now’s the time to get all fatherly is it? Where was that anger a few hours ago when he first saw you? When he was screaming internally for you to just look at him and see him and recognize him?” Brent taunted. Derek could see that Stiles was blinking back tears, the knife pressed so tightly against his throat that he was drawing blood, the tattoo’s blazing a fiery red. “But then, he didn’t want you to know, didn’t want you to see the monster he’s become.” He pulled Stiles closer and they all saw Stiles grimace at the movement.

“And out of all those deaths,” Laura snarled, “How many would he have committed if you hadn’t ordered him to? We can all see the tattoo’s. I know they glow red when he’s fighting you on something. I’ve figured that much out. So how many times has he had to murder people because of your orders?” She growled and Derek thought back to what he’d witnessed all day. The tattoo’s glowing a bright red when he’d been told to cut them, when he’d kissed Brent, when he’d killed the hunters in the warehouse. He felt sick. How could anyone survive being used in that way?

Brent had the audacity to laugh. “Such smart cookies.” He cooed, “But, despite what you may think, we’re still on the same page.”

“And how is that?” Peter snarled, sounding angrier than Derek had ever heard him before.

“The Argents want Red back, he’s the weapon they’re after. I’m not giving him up. You, I’m sure, don’t want him back in their hands. So, we can either work together or I can get Red to kill you all now, if you’d prefer?” Brent taunted.

“No!” Stiles shouted in fear.

“His name is Stiles.” John growled, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Brent was threatening to get Stiles to kill them all now.

“Very well, if you prefer I’ll call him Stiles for the rest of this little vacation. Now, can we get back to business?” Brent sighed.

“Not until you let go of my son.” John snarled and Brent smirked tightening his grip on Stiles.

“That isn’t going to happen. So why don’t you sit down before I get Stiles to put you down.” Brent laughed and John seemed to register the fear in Stiles’ eyes before finally sitting down in his seat. “Good. Now. Back to the Argents.”

“You said you took Stiles from them?” Talia said tightly, her voice barely concealing her anger.

“Oh yes. You see, Kate tracked him down. She was more than a little mad at you, John, for stopping her from killing the Hales, she does hold such a grudge for these things. She took him from the home, even paid a nice sum for the cover up, then she played with him.” Brent smiled, seeming to enjoy the look of horror on their faces. Stiles was just glaring at a particular spot on the floor. “How long was it again? How long did she torture you? How long did she have you before you couldn’t scream anymore?” He taunted. Stiles’ tattoos’ glowed red trying to fight the order but eventually he whispered.

“Four years.” There was silence around the table as this new information was processed.

“By then, of course, Stiles was coming into his powers, and I happened to know a good way to bind them, there was no way in hell I was letting the hunters keep this little beauty, I knew they were close to figuring out how to do it, I had to get there first.” Brent smiled, stroking Stiles’ cheek. “You couldn’t even imagine the damage they’d do if they’d figured out how to bind him before I did. So I gathered my forces and we took him. We got these lovely bindings put in place and the rest, as they say, is history.”

“So you bound my son to you?” John spat out and Brent laughed.

“Oh, I did a lot more than that.” He said, trailing a hand along Stiles’ thigh and they watched as Stiles’ tattoos started to glow, his body held in place in a silent order, “I made him my mate as soon as the bindings were in place.” Derek took a second to register that, the fact that Brent had taken a fourteen-year-old kid as his mate. He shivered at the thought. “He screamed, didn’t you, sweetie?” Brent asked and Stiles refused to look up from the floor. “That first night, then every night after for months, he screamed and he begged and he cried for someone to come save him. He even screamed for you John. He pleaded for his dad to come save him. I loved the sound of those screams, I still do.” Brent smirked in satisfaction and Derek could see the tears of horror running down Johns’ cheeks, oddly enough he could see the same on Stiles’ cheeks, but he smelt more like humiliation than anything else.

“So, the important question is, will you help me with the Argents or do we end this now?” Brent grinned and the whole pack looked to Talia.

“We’ll help you with the Argents. Then we’ll discuss this matter further.” She said.

“Oh, you want me to go into more detail about how I fuck Stiles? I can give you a demonstration if you’d like?” Brent teased and Stiles tensed up.

“I believe we’ve had enough demonstrations of your power over the boy.” Peter said in disgust. “I don’t think we need to witness you raping him.” Derek felt as though all the air had been knocked out of him at that thought, of Stiles being forced to not only murder people but to act like a mate to Brent. He felt his stomach roll, the idea of his mate, because Stiles was his, being forced to do anything, made him angry beyond belief. He was shaking with anger, could feel his wolf howling with the need to protect his mate.

“It’s hardly rape if he asks me to do it.” Brent smirked. Lydia and Scott both growled. Derek fought the urge to join in. He remembered then that Lydia, Scott and Boyd would have all gone to school with Stiles, that they would have got to know him as a child, to see him like this, it would be probably as devastating as it was for John.

“So, what do you suggest we do with the Argents?” Derek gritted out, refusing to look at the way Brent was touching Stiles.

“Well, I personally, want to kill them all, but since they have a way of stalling Stiles’ magic, I can’t send him into kill them. There’s a good chance they might capture him, and oddly enough, I don’t want him in their hands. I already risked that in your rescue, if they were to catch him, manage to change the bindings so that Stiles is theirs, well, we’d all be dead within a week.” Brent said, looking at Stiles with a hint of pride, as if he was proud of the fact that Stiles could murder them all, Derek thought he probably was.

“We can agree on that much.” Derek snarled. “So how do we find them and how do we get rid of them?” He asked the room as a whole.

“How did you find them earlier Stiles?” Brent asked and Stiles tensed.

“I didn’t.” He whispered, the tips of his ears turning red slightly.

“Yes you did.” Brent insisted. “So how did you track them?”

“I didn’t track them.” Stiles relied, gritting his teeth.

“So how did you find Derek? If you don’t mind me asking?” Laura said softly and Stiles glared at the floor again.

“I tracked him.” Stiles said blushing slightly, wincing when Brent tightened his grip around his chest.

“Excuse me?” Brent said angrily.

“I tracked Derek. I couldn’t sense the Argents but I could sense him.” Stiles said, still glaring at the floor. Talia and Peter were staring at Derek, but everyone else was staring at Stiles with something akin to awe.

Brent stood suddenly, dragging Stiles up with him, backing him towards the nearest wall.

“You did what?” Brent hissed and Stiles glared at him with open hatred, Derek wondered how they could have ever thought that they were mates.

“I tracked Derek.” Stiles said defiantly. “You want to know what he feels like?” Stiles taunted, it was evident that they all wanted him to back down, but Stiles was always a stubborn child and apparently, nothing had changed, “He feels warm. He feels pure and safe and he feels like pack. You feel dark. I could pick you out of a crowd half way around the world because you’re nothing but a black hole that sucks in everything. You are darkness. You are madness.” Stiles snarled, barely even flinching as Brent slammed him into the wall.

“How dare you!” Brent growled. “You will remember who you are talking to or I will make you pay.” He warned, Stiles glared in silence at him. Derek had risen from his seat, as had everyone else in the room, ready to intervene but nobody moved for fear of what would happen if they did. Brent surged forward, kissing Stiles passionately. His tattoos glowed bright red but he didn’t move until Brent pulled away. “You will remain silent until I say you can speak.” He ordered and although the tattoo’s glowed slightly, there was no real defiance there. Brent came back to the table and sat down, pulling Stiles back into his lap, kissing at his neck, sucking dark marks into his bare skin. Derek knew he wasn’t the only one growling but Brent just smirked at all of them, cupping Stiles’ ass as he kissed him.

“So,” Brent said a few minutes later, the scent of his arousal stinking out the whole room, “Now we all know where we stand, how do we track the Argents?”

“We could set a trap.” Laura suggested stiffly, glaring at Brent with disgust on her face. “We pretend like we’re handing Stiles over. Then when they go to get him, we attack.”

“It’s very basic.” Peter said stiffly.

“Well, we’ve got want they want. They’re going to come one way or another. They know where we are. What choice have we got?” Talia replied.

“Yes. But there are a thousand ways it could go wrong. I’m sure none of us want anything to happen to Stiles, or for him to end up back with the hunters, not now we know how important he is to our family.” Peter said quietly. Derek wasn’t sure if he meant because of John or because of him, then Derek paled slightly, Stiles was Johns son. Derek wanted Stiles as a mate. Oh god, John was going to hate him.

“We’ve all had a long day.” Brent said a few minutes later, “I think it’s time to leave this for the evening. We’ll start again in the morning.” He said rising from his chair.

“Mate,” Stiles whispered, “Please, can I stay? Just for a little while?” He glanced back at John and Derek felt his heart breaking at the look of love there. “Please my mate? I’ll do whatever you ask. No tricks. Just please?” Stiles pleaded. Derek wanted to argue, Stiles shouldn’t submit to him, he shouldn’t have to offer himself up on a silver platter just so he could talk to his dad. It made Derek feel sick.

“Fine.” Brent growled, “You can have half an hour. Then you are going to come to me and do whatever I ask, no tricks.” Stiles nodded silently. “You’re not allowed to tell them anything important and if any of them even try to touch you, you’ll break one of your own bones.” Brent said, glaring at each of them as Stiles nodded, the tattoo’s barely even glowing. Brent leaned in, kissing Stiles aggressively before turning from him, “I’ll see you shortly.” He warned before exiting the room.

Stiles turned back to them, sitting quietly across the table from them.

“Hey dad.” He whispered, his voice breaking slightly and John started sobbing, reaching out to touch Stiles’ hand. Stiles jerked away, “Sorry. You heard him. Don’t fancy fixing any broken bones right now.” He shrugged in apology.

“Stiles…” John said, his throat tight with unshed tears, “You don’t know how glad I am to see you, kiddo.” Stiles grinned softly.

“Me too.” Stiles said, he crossed his arms over his bare chest and Derek knew he was trying to fight off the cold, thankfully Scott threw a jumper to him and Stiles thanked him quietly, pulling it over his head. “So you’re a werewolf now?”

“Yeah. Talia saved me, I was in a coma for a year. When I woke up I tried to find you, but then I was told that you’d died.” John sobbed.

“So I’ve been told.” Stiles said bitterly.

“Is it as bad as it seems?” Scott asked and Stiles gave him a half grin.

“Nah, not really Scotty.” Derek could tell Stiles was only saying that for Scott’s benefit, “Brent is a bit of a douche, but you know me, I can douche with the best of them.” He smiled and Scott laughed lightly.

“I’ve missed you man.” Scott said, reaching out as if to touch Stiles and then pulling back at the last second, “Sorry. Just. I thought I’d never see you again. I’ve missed you so much.” Scott said.

“Me too. I haven’t had anyone to plot with, honestly I feel like my best pranking years have just gone to waste.” Stiles smiled and both John and Scott laughed. Derek felt like he was intruding on what should be a private matter, but he couldn’t leave, not when he finally got to see the real Stiles.

“I bet you still managed to pull one or two off though right?” Lydia smiled.

“Obviously.” Stiles grinned, “This is me we’re talking about. You should have seen what I did to Kate the second year. Oh my god, I’m actually surprised her hair grew back.” Stiles gave a small laugh and Derek felt his heart almost explode with love, how Stiles could still laugh was beyond him, but Derek wanted to hear that laugh every day for the rest of his life, he would do anything possible to hear that laugh again.

“Stiles,” Peter said seriously, “We’re going to get you out of this. We won’t let him keep using you like this.”

Stiles shrugged. “Yeah, maybe, but I don’t know, he’s good at keeping his monster on a tight leash.” Stiles said and Peter grimaced as his own words were repeated back to him. It was evident to all of them that the only monster here was Brent.

“You’re not a monster.” John said through gritted teeth.

“Tell that to the people I’ve killed.” Stiles mumbled.

“You are not a monster.” John repeated, “They are not dead because of you. They are dead because of him. It’s not your fault.”

“Keep telling yourself that. Maybe one day you’ll believe it.” Stiles replied.

“I already know it Stiles. You should know it too. You are my son. You will never be a monster. This is him, this is Brent, controlling what you do. We will get you out of this.” John said confidently, Stiles only shrugged in reply.

“Is there a way to break it?” Talia asked and Stiles glared at a spot on the table, the tattoos turning red.

“Does it hurt?” Laura asked and Stiles looked up at her, “When you try and fight it? Does it hurt?”

“Yes.” He whispered, “It burns. The more I fight it, the worse it feels, like my insides are melting.”

“So you give in?”

“I can’t really do anything else.” Stiles said, “It’s not even just the burning, it’s fighting the order as well, it’s trying to stop it from feeling like my insides are boiling and not let my body do whatever Brent orders. I can’t do both. I can’t fight both feelings. I can’t stop it, not for long.”

“You’re very brave.” Laura said and Stiles blushed slightly. “I couldn’t do it.”

“I wish I didn’t have to.” Stiles said quietly, “I wish I could just die and let it be over, that I wouldn’t have to keep killing people, watch them die at my hands. Bathe in their blood. And yes I do mean that literally, Brent is the absolute extreme of fucked in the head.” He said and the room fell into silence.

“We’ll find a way to break it.” Derek said solemnly. He would not allow Stiles to live like this, not for a single second longer.

“Yeah, well, let me know when you do.” Stiles said, the tattoos glowing slightly.

“So there is a way to do it?” Lydia asked and the tattoos went a brighter red. “I’m going to take that as a yes okay?” Stiles grunted, “Okay, well then you’ve got me on the case so don’t panic.” Lydia grinned. “Can I look at your wrists?”

“No.” Stiles said, but he pushed the sleeves up and laid his wrists on the table, “But I can’t help it if you happen to see them.” He smirked slightly and Lydia leaned closer, taking photos on her phone. “Loopholes are pretty good.”

“So when he said earlier to kill them painfully, and then was pissed when you did it quickly?” Laura asked and Stiles grinned at her, seemingly surprised that she’d figured that out so quickly.

“Eight years and he still hasn’t figured that one out yet.” He winked, “I know it’s not brilliant, that they still fucking died painfully, but at least he didn’t say like ‘skin them alive and make sure they’re still breathing until the last bit of skin comes off.’ It’s shitty, and I hate him and the whole situation, but it’s all I can do. Sometimes he just says kill them quickly and I do it as mercilessly as possible. Then he gets rather pissed, but what can he say really? I was following orders. You’d think by now he would have figured it out, but he’s really not the smartest cookie in the box.”

“So, dude, what are you?” Scott said excitedly, “Like, fucking teleportation man, that is pretty awesome, what else can you do?”

“Erm,” Stiles started, “I can’t say.” He frowned, “It’s pretty rare, but, yeah, sort of like, you know the genie from Aladdin, your wish is my command?” Scott nodded, “Yeah, well that’s because of the bindings, not what I am, usually there wouldn’t even be this issue, but Brent found a way and apparently the Argents had discovered a way too, guess it’s sort of the lesser of two evils in a way. So yeah, sort of like genie, except no restrictions, I mean I haven’t tried to bring anyone back from the dead, but I probably could if Brent ordered me to do it. And it’s not wishes, it’s commands, it doesn’t even need to be verbal, just like a shake of the head or whatever. Any command at all to do anything at all. Which kind of sucks. If I think I can do it, I usually can, I’ve tried thinking that I can’t do it, but that doesn’t seem to work, which was a real bitch to figure out. And it’s not limited to three orders, he’s my master, for however long that lasts. Apparently, I wasn’t supposed to come into my powers until I was sixteen, but I guess the hunters…” Stiles grimaced as the tattoos started to glow.

“Doesn’t matter dude.” Scott said a moment later. “Can you talk about your powers?”

“I can teleport. I’ve never managed to teleport two people before but there’s a first time for everything I guess.” Stiles said quietly.

“Wait,” Derek said, his heart beating rapidly, “So, when you jumped off that walkway earlier, you didn’t know if you’d be able to get us both out of there?”

“Erm, no.” Stiles shrugged casually, “But I wasn’t about to let you die, was worth a shot at least, and if it didn’t work, the fall would have definitely killed me and it would have been over.”

“You can’t be serious?” Derek said, rising from his seat and pacing nervously, “You could have died!”

“And?” Stiles said raising an eyebrow, “You think I care?”

“Of course you should fucking care!” Derek said, trying very hard to stay calm.

“Why?” Stiles said, looking at him and the rest of the pack in question, “Why should I care if I die trying to follow out his fucking orders? I’m mentally screaming for someone to beat me in a fight every single fucking day. I want someone to kill me so I don’t have to keep following every single thing he can think of. I’m praying that I slip up and somebody manages to put a knife in me properly. Just so nobody else has to die because I’m too weak to fight him.” Stiles seethed and there was silence in the room, what could any of them say to that?

“You’re not weak Stiles.” Lydia said. “You’re anything but weak. You’re still here. You’re still fighting.” There was a pause, “So, what else can you do?” Lydia asked, attempting to ease some of the tension in the room. Stiles glanced at her before sighing lightly.

“I can slow things down, like time, so that’s how I did the cuts earlier, sorry about that by the way.” Derek had forgotten all about that, they had long since healed, instead he was still thinking about the fact that Stiles had jumped off a walkway to save him and had had no idea if he would survive. “I can fight, but I think that’s more training than anything else, it’s pretty much, anything you can think of I could probably do if I believe it enough. I can sense things sometimes, like when things aren’t quite right.”

“Is that what happened the night you told me to go to the Hale house?” John asked and the whole room looked at John in surprise.

“If I’d have known dad, I swear I wouldn’t have sent you there. I just, something felt wrong there, I shouldn’t have let you go. I’m so sorry.” Stiles said, tears sliding down his cheeks.

“Stiles, listen to me,” John said, evidently desperate to hug his son, to touch him, to know he was real, “It wasn’t your fault. It wouldn’t ever be your fault. You did something amazing. You helped me to save their lives. If I hadn’t gone they would have all died. You did that. You saved them.” John whispered.

The door opened and one of the seconds came back into the room.

“Red. Times up. Boss wants you upstairs.”

“I’m coming.” Stiles said, standing from the table slowly, looking at them with a small smile on his face, “Guess I’ll see you in the morning.” He said, pulling off the jumper and throwing it back to Scott.

“You can keep it.” Scott said.

“Nah, wouldn’t want to get blood on it.” Stiles said casually before exiting the room.

There was silence for a minute as they listened to the second, possibly Mark, Derek thought, leading Stiles away. He wondered how Stiles could be so calm about it? How he could march up to the room not knowing what was in store for him? Not knowing what he would have to do before the night was out? Or maybe he did know and decided that it was worth it in order to spend just half an hour with his dad. Derek felt sick at the thought of what Stiles had been through.

“We’ve got an actual plan right?” Scott said sounding nervous, “I mean, we can’t just be letting Stiles go up there? Not when we know what Brent’s going to do to him?” There was silence, “I mean, he’s going to rape him, you guys get that right?” Scott said getting angry.

“We’re aware.” Laura growled.

“So, what’s the plan then? We’re going to stop this somehow right?” Scott said, eyes wide with worry.

“We can’t do anything right now.” Talia said solemnly.

“But…” Scott started, obviously horrified that they were in such a helpless situation.

“But nothing.” John growled, “We can’t do anything until we find a way to break the bindings. Until then we can’t do anything. If we try, Brent could make Stiles hurt us, or worse, make Stiles hurt himself.” John said, his voice cracking when he said Stiles’ name.

“But he’s going to hurt him anyway!” Scott exclaimed

“You think I don’t know that!?” John shouted, “You think I’m not already imagining what he’s doing to my boy? What he’s been doing to him for eight years!?” John raged, his eyes flashing blue in his rage, “You don’t think I want to go up there and tear him limb from limb? But I can’t. Because of Stiles. Because I’ve just found out that my son is alive. I can’t lose him now. Not after twelve fucking years. Do you understand Scott? We can’t do anything and I’ve never felt so fucking useless in my life, but I’m not willing to risk Stiles. Do you understand that?” John said, glaring at Scott who nodded mutely, staring at John in shock.

“We’ll figure it out.” Lydia said quietly. “We’ll find a way alright? We’re going to get Stiles back.” She said firmly, gazing at the photos on her phone. “I need to figure out what this says.”

“I can help with that.” Peter said and they put their heads together mumbling about different phrases within the tattoos.

Derek sat in silence. He was afraid to move, every inch of him was screaming to go after Stiles, to stop him before he got to Brent, to kill Brent and make him pay for every mark on Stiles. Instead he sat still, knowing that if he moved it would only be to go after Stiles.

“Derek?” Laura whispered coming to sit next to him, no doubt she could smell the rage and despair coming from him. “Are you okay?” He shook his head, knowing that if he spoke only words of rage would come out. Laura pulled him into a hug, offering the only comfort she could. Derek had never imagined it would be like this, he thought he’d be able to resist his mate, know that they would have a better life without him in it, but the urge to protect Stiles was so strong he could barely think of anything else. Derek hated himself, hated that Stiles was suffering and there was nothing he could do.

“He’s been with Brent for eight years.” Laura whispered, “He can survive one more night.” She said, obviously hoping to comfort him.

“He shouldn’t have to.” Derek seethed. “He shouldn’t fucking have to!” He shouted in a rage, almost knocking Laura over as he stood up. His wolf was snarling, he was snarling, he had never felt so close to losing control before in his life. Derek was supposed to protect his mate, protect Stiles, and instead he was sat down here helpless, knowing that Stiles would be going through hell upstairs and he couldn’t fucking do anything about it. He was pacing across the floor, clenching his hands into fists in an effort to keep control.

“Safe to come in?” Erica said poking her head around the door. Derek growled at her. Erica looked at the rest of them in concern.

“Yes, come in.” Talia said wearily and Derek continued to pace as the rest of the pack piled into the room.

“So, what’s been going on? What’s the plan?” Allison asked and Talia sighed heavily.

“The Argents,” There were several sharp intakes of breath, “They are the hunters we are dealing with. They’re after Red.”

“Well, give him to them then.” Isaac said in confusion, “He’s supposed to be like bat shit crazy isn’t he?” Derek growled.

“It’s a bit more complicated than that.” Laura said, glancing at Derek.

“Turns out that Red isn’t actually that crazy. It’s all on Brent. Who has some binding in place that makes Red do whatever he wants. Red is actually an innocent in all this.” Talia said and Erica scoffed.

“Really? Red who murdered eight wolves in one night is an innocent?” Erica said in disbelief and Derek fought the urge to punch something.

“Yes. He’s fucking innocent.” Lydia snarled, “He’s also Stiles. So, if any of you say another bad word against him I will personally beat the living shit out of you.” She growled and Derek hummed in agreement.

“Stiles?” Jackson said, “Stiles like our Stiles?” He said and Lydia glared.

“Who else do you know called Stiles?”

“But, he’s dead.” Jackson said in shock.

“Evidently not.” Peter said dismissively. “Apparently, the Argents took him to get back at John, then Brent took him to get at the Argents. And now he’s bound to Brent with some archaic Latin shit.”

“Wow.” Erica said her mouth hanging open, “Okay, so, productive day then?”

“Oh yeah, in between Derek getting kidnapped and…”

“WHAT!?” Cora screeched and then suddenly half the pack were rushing towards him as if to check he was still there and unharmed.

“I’m fine.” He snarled, not wanting any of them anywhere near him.

“You don’t sound fine. You sound pissed.” His dad said, gazing at him with worry.

“Obviously I’m pissed. He has Stiles!” Derek growled.

“Which is a big deal to you because…” Erica said, waiting for an answer.

“Oh yeah, because Stiles is also Derek’s mate.” Laura said and there were more audible gasps.

“Red is your mate?” Sarah, his cousin, asked.

“Yes.” Derek growled, not even caring about the way that John looked at him as if only just remembering this fact.

“But, I don’t get it.” Colin, Sarah’s brother said, “Even if he’s, like, got to do what Brent says, he could probably still fight it and yet he still kills people, he’s still a monster.”

Derek grabbed him by the shirt collar and slammed him into the wall, flashing his eyes at him.

“He is not a fucking monster. If you ever use that word again, I’ll show you what a real monster looks like. Do you understand me?” He threatened.

“Derek. Enough!” Talia shouted and Derek let go of Colin allowing him to drop to the floor. There was silence in the room. “Derek’s right. Stiles is innocent. We’re going to do everything we possibly can to break the bindings and protect him. In the meantime, if anyone uses that word again I will personally see to it that they are punished. The only monsters here are Brent and the Argents. If anyone feels differently then, they are welcome to go home.” There was silence. “Our next step needs to be to find a way to break the bonds. Lydia and Peter are going to look into it. I suggest everyone else go to bed and rest. We have a long few days ahead of us.” Talia said authoritatively.

Most of the wolves left the room but Erica, Isaac, Allison, Jackson and Cora stayed with them.

“What can we do to help?” Erica asked and Laura smiled softly.

“Well, we’re trying to translate the Latin tattoos.” Lydia said, quickly sending a text so that the pictures arrived with the pack members still present. “It’s proving rather difficult, like they don’t want to be read or something. If any of you can help at all then please go ahead.” Lydia paused suddenly as if remembering something, “Didn’t Brent say something about the Argents having a way of like changing ownership? Maybe there’s something in these stupid tattoos that tells us how to do that. Just need to translate like a thousand lines in archaic Latin.”

“I’ve got some books in the car, I can go grab them?” Isaac suggested.

“You carry Latin books around with you?” Jackson said in surprise.

“Yeah. Well, sort of, actually, it’s this cool history book about sparks, but it’s in Latin, so I’m sort of struggling my way through it. But it’s really interesting, it’s just translating the language that’s hard.”

“Sparks?” Peter looked up suddenly interested.

“Yeah, they’re like this really rare…”

“I know what a spark is Isaac.” Peter said quickly. “Go fetch it. Now.” He demanded and the rest of them looked at him in surprise. “Sparks are able to do anything they believe in. They’re incredibly rare. They come into powers when they reach adulthood, which used to be around sixteen, back when the last sparks were around. There hasn’t been a documented case of a spark for over three hundred years.” Peter said looking at each person in the room in turn. “If Stiles is a spark, and I know it’s a jump, he could be plenty of other things, but if he’s a spark, this book might have something on the bindings.” Peter said and Isaac almost ran out of the door in his haste to get to the car.

Derek wasn’t sure how long they sat studying in the conference room, it was long after the moon had risen for definite. It was the middle of the night, Talia and Peter had announced they were going to bed a little while ago but Derek stayed. He knew he couldn’t sleep tonight, that he’d only have nightmares filled with Kate and Brent and blood and death and Stiles. He didn’t want to dream about that. So he sat up with the rest of them, Laura, Lydia, John, Scott, Allison, Isaac, Jackson, Erica and Boyd all studying the book and the tattoos, mentioning anything that might come in handy, anything that could be relevant in any way that would help Stiles.

Derek was fighting to keep his eyes open, Erica, Isaac and Allison were fast asleep, their heads resting on the table softly. He could see Jackson and Lydia were struggling to stay awake. Scott’s eyes kept closing for a few minutes and then he’d give himself a little shake and blink furiously at the image in front of him. John just glared at the photos like they were personally offending him, Derek guessed they probably were. Laura kept glancing at Derek from the corner of her eye, the time getting shorter between each one as if she expected Derek to disappear suddenly.

He sighed heavily, he wasn’t sure what good this was doing. Perhaps they were all just hiding from their nightmares here. Nobody wanted to go upstairs to their rooms, nobody wanted to think of Stiles and Brent, of what could be happening right now. Derek shuddered at the thought. He closed his eyes, trying to think of something happier but he seemed to fail miserably, instead it was the image of Kate flickering behind his eyelids, the obvious madness in Brent’s eyes, the crushing despair in Stiles’.

There was a faint pop and suddenly the stench of blood filled his nostrils. His eyes shot open and he looked to see Stiles wobbling slightly and standing in only his boxers at the end of the table, looking at them warily as everyone shot to their feet at his arrival.

John stumbled forwards to hug him, but Stiles backed away grimacing.

“Sorry. Orders still in place.” Stiles frowned and John looked on the verge of tears, Stiles had a multitude of shallow cuts covering his chest, just enough for them to bleed, not enough for them to do him permanent damage, his lip was still split and a bruise forming on his cheek. Scott burst into tears at the sight of him and Allison clung tightly to him.

“Sorry.” Stiles whispered, the sorrow evident in his voice, “I think that I’ve made things worse. I’m going to go again.” He said scrunching up his eyes.

“No!” John half shouted and Stiles looked at him in surprise. “Stay. Stay with us for as long as you can okay?” Stiles nodded silently.

“Here.” Derek said shrugging off his jumper and throwing it to Stiles.

“Thanks, but I can’t. If I smell of anyone else and he’ll know I’ve been out of bed.” Stiles said sadly, placing the jumper on the table. They all frowned.

“What are you doing here Stiles?” Erica asked and he looked at her for a moment.

“Erica?” He said in shock.

“Yes.” She replied.

“Wow, you’ve changed. You’re a wolf, suits you.” He smiled and Erica blushed slightly.

“I didn’t think you’d know who I was?” Erica said shyly and Stiles shrugged, leaning back against the wall and closing his eyes, seemingly relaxed.

“Don’t be stupid. I remember every little detail from my life before. Jackson’s still a jackass I bet?” He smirked with his eyes closed and Jackson let out a little growl.

“Relax dude, I’m yanking your chain.” Stiles said without opening his eyes. “Bet Isaac and Boyd make great wolves though?”

“Yeah they do.” Scott said numbly.

“You too Scotty? You like it?”

“I love it man. Derek has helped us all through so much, he even helped his mum take out the alpha that bit us.” Stiles opened his eyes to glance at Derek, as if assessing him, then his gaze shifted to Allison.

“I don’t know you though. Scott’s girlfriend?” Stiles asked and Allison nodded, reaching out to shake his hand and then seeming to remember that she couldn’t without making him hurt and pulled back.

“Sorry.” She said blushing, “I’m Allison.”

“Cute.” Stiles said and Allison smiled. “You’re an Argent though?” He said looking at her suspiciously.

“Yes.” Allison said honestly, “But I’m not like my aunt or my grandad. I’ve been with the pack for the past six years. Scott’s my mate. I wouldn’t let anyone hurt them.”

Stiles glanced at his dad, as if seeking his opinion.

“She’s safe Stiles.” John said and Stiles nodded as if that settled the matter.

“Alright, cool, nice to meet you. Hope I get to know you better in the future.” Stiles said, closing his eyes again.

“But Stiles, what are you doing here? Aren’t you going to get in trouble?” Laura asked and they watched as Stiles tensed slightly before shrugging.

“Hopefully not. I mean Brent is out for the count, and so long as I can teleport back into the chains then he won’t even know I’m gone. Just needed to get out for a while really. Usually he’s better at his orders, but he wasn’t quite in a sane state of mind tonight and I figured if he wasn’t going to tell me to stay in the exact same spot all night then that’s pretty much the same as telling me to go out for a mid-night stroll, right?”

Scott laughed quietly whereas Derek was still stuck on the thought of chains.

“He has you chained?” John asked and Stiles glanced down at the floor in embarrassment.

“Still haven’t learned when to shut my mouth.” Stiles said sadly, “I mean don’t get me wrong, Kate definitely tried to enforce silence, but I think she failed pretty miserably on that one as you can all tell. Anyway, yes, chains, not the worst thing that’s ever happened though so don’t worry about it.” Stiles said casually and Derek wanted to run up to him and shake him, how could he possibly think that it was okay to let Brent chain him up.

“Stiles…” Lydia said sadly and Stiles just grinned at her.

“Don’t sound so sad Lyds. It’s not that bad. I’ve got to see you all again. You have no idea how much I’ve missed you all. So yeah, I’ll take a bit of a beating because I got to see you, I got to talk to you. Those first few months, with Kate, I was sure I was going out of my mind, there were huge things I couldn’t remember, I was so afraid that I was going to forget you all, so one night I managed to get hold of one of her knives and I put your number right here,” He said, softly touching his chest and glancing at John, “After that, it was okay, I was okay, it didn’t matter what she did, she wouldn’t be able to make me forget you.” Stiles paused, “But, look at me, hogging the whole conversation. Tell me about what’s been going on with you guys?” Stiles asked and Scott launched into everything that had happened to him since Stiles had been taken.

At some point in the early hours Lydia had snatched the car keys off Isaac saying she had to go and she’d be back soon. It wasn’t long after that that Stiles had slid down the wall and gone to sleep. Derek couldn’t help but think about how vulnerable it made him look. How could anyone ever look at Stiles and think monster? He was a good man trying to do the best he could in a terrible situation, Derek knew that much.

He also knew that Brent would be waking up soon and if Stiles wasn’t there then he’d be in trouble. He didn’t want the night to end, but he didn’t want to see Stiles hurt because they let him stay.

“We need to get him to go back.” Derek said quietly to John. John stared at his sleeping son and nodded to Derek.

“I know. I just don’t want to let him out of my sight.”

“We have to.” Derek said, placing a comforting hand on Johns shoulder.

“I keep thinking,” John whispered, “How long since anyone has hugged him? Has comforted him? He’s my kid and I can’t even hug him and tell him it’s all going to be okay.” John sounded like he was about to cry again. Derek thought he might too.

“When we break the spell you can hug him for as long as you like.” He said, hoping to comfort John in whatever way he could.

“Stiles.” John whispered, hoping not to wake the others who had drifted off to sleep finally. Stiles stirred slightly, blinking up at them with sleepy eyes. Derek felt his breath catch, Stiles was beautiful, seeing him like this, just waking, it was perhaps the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen and he prayed that one day he’d get to see it for real, opening his eyes in the morning and seeing Stiles lay next to him in bed. “Son, you need to go back.” John whispered, his throat tight with emotion.

“I know.” Stiles said quietly. “But I don’t want to dad.” He said, looking to be on the verge of tears, “I don’t want to go back to him. Please.” Stiles sobbed and John reached out for him, his hand hovering in the air a few inches away from Stiles face.

“Kiddo, I know.” John was sobbing now. “I don’t want you to either. But you know what?” Stiles looked up at him, tears spilling from his eyes, shaking his head slightly, “I am so incredibly proud of you. My brave boy. You’ve survived on your own for twelve years. Do you know what I see when I look at you?” Stiles shook his head again, “I see you. And I couldn’t be more proud. You are twice the man I could ever be Stiles. I am so proud of you and I love you so much. And we’re going to help you. We’re going to get you out of this. And when we do, I’m going to hug you until you’re begging me to let go.” Stiles let out a sound like a half sob and half laugh and Derek felt his heart breaking.

“I’m scared dad.” Stiles whispered, “What if he makes me hurt you? I can’t fight him and I can’t lose you, not now I’ve just got you back.”

“He won’t. But Stiles, if he does,” John paused, “If he makes you do something like that, then know that I won’t blame you for a single second. That I know it won’t be your fault. That I won’t be any less proud of you or love you any less. You will always be my brave boy okay?” Stiles nodded, his eyes wide, gazing at John with such love that Derek longed to hold him tight. “But right now you need to go Stiles, okay? We’ll see you soon.”

“Okay.” Stiles said, sounding like a small child and then he scrunched his eyes in concentration and a moment later he was gone. John turned to Derek and hugged him tightly, sobbing into his shoulder. Derek just patted him on the back, telling him it was going to be okay, even though he knew it wasn’t. Nothing would ever make this okay.

Derek woke everyone up slowly, telling them to head to bed for a few hours at least. He went up the stairs to his room, stopping on the second floor for a moment when he smelt Stiles’ blood. He clenched his hands into fists, gritted his teeth and continued up the stairs. He couldn’t do anything. Not yet. He dragged himself the rest of his way to his room and collapsed exhausted onto the bed.

He didn’t remember falling asleep, couldn’t even remember what he had dreamed about when Laura knocked on the door hours later. He shuffled to the door and blinked at her slowly.

“Come on Der, meeting’s going to start soon.” She said and he nodded at her before heading to grab a quick shower hoping it would wake him up. He hurried down the stairs in a fresh set of clothes feeling a little bit more awake than he thought he would. His wolf purred when he smelt Stiles up ahead, although he was worried about how fast his heart beat was. He stepped into the conference room, not really surprised to see that everyone else was already there, although Lydia still wasn’t back.

“Derek,” Brent smiled, putting an arm around Stiles’ shoulder and pulling him closer, “So nice of you to join us. I was beginning to wonder if I’d have to get Stiles to come rescue you again.” He smirked and Derek tried not to growl.

“We’re just trying to formulate a plan.” Talia said calmly, her eyes warning Derek to remain calm. He nodded and took his seat on the other side of the table, studying the bruises on Stiles’ cheek and trying to ignore the way he wouldn’t meet any of their eyes.

“Actually,” Brent smirked, “I’ve been thinking about this and I have a plan.” Stiles glanced up then, looking at Brent with a calculating gaze.

“Oh, really?” Peter said in surprise, “Well, please feel free to share.”

“Of course.” Brent grinned, “First, Stiles,” He said turning to Stiles who glared at him, “I’d like you to find a nice human woman, travelling alone, someone who nobody would miss, strong enough to survive the bite, then bring her here to me.” The scent of Stiles’ fear suddenly filled the room.

“No.” He snarled, the tattoos turning bright red.

“Stiles,” Brent warned, “Don’t argue with me. Go find someone now.”

“No.” Stiles said again through gritted teeth, the tattoos turning almost black now and Derek could smell burning flesh, the stink of it making him feel sick.

“Enough.” Talia said, rising from her seat, “He’s had enough.” She said to Brent who only glared at her before turning his gaze back to Stiles.

“I said go Stiles!” Brent roared and Stiles dropped to his knees panting as he still fought against the order. They could all smell his fear and his pain but he was refusing to back down, even as the smell of burning intensified.

They were all rising from their seats now, ready to intervene, unsure what they could do, a chorus of voices echoing the same sentiments, for Brent to leave Stiles alone.

“I won’t do it. Not again!” Stiles snarled, his voice filled with pain, his face white as he fought the order.

“I am your master and you will obey me!” Brent roared and the room fell into silence. “Now bring me a woman before I decide to play with your pressure points.” Stiles snarled at him. “Really? Well, then, Stiles, you can go find a woman and bring her here to me now or you can slit your father’s throat.” Stiles glared at him, the rage rolling off him in waves as he tried to fight against the orders before promptly popping out of existence.

The whole room sagged in relief, Derek wasn’t sure that he would have been able to stop Stiles from getting to John and he knew that if Stiles had been forced to kill his father then there would be no coming back from it.

“Well, that was easier than I expected.” Brent laughed and the whole room glared at him in hatred. “I genuinely thought he’d hold out longer than that. Good to know how much he cares about you John. I’ll be sure to use that in the future.” John growled, making a move towards Brent, Derek held him back.

“It won’t help John. You’ll only make it worse.” He whispered and Brent nodded.

“Yes, you will. Stay there like a good boy if you don’t want me to make your sons’ life a living hell.” Brent smirked, “Honestly, I’m only just considering all the ways this will work in my favour. I should have thought of this years ago.” He laughed loudly.

“Can you tell us what your plan is already?” Laura said wearily, “As much as I love listening to all the ways you abuse Stiles, I want to know how you plan to keep him out of the Argent’s hands.” She said sarcastically.

“Oh, well, that’s simple. But first I need a freshly turned wolf, hence why Stiles is going to bring us a new friend. But we’ll wait for them to return before I explain the rest of my plan.” Brent said smugly.

“So you’re just going to turn some woman?” John said in disgust, “What if she doesn’t survive the bite?” He hissed.

“Oh, she’ll survive. Stiles has a nose for these things. He won’t bring me someone who won’t survive. He’s not that stupid. He knows he’ll just have to go and fetch someone else.” Brent smirked, taking a sip of his coffee and studying the group around the table.

They sat in silence for another few minutes and then the door opened and Stiles returned with a woman around the same age as Laura.

“You took your time. What? No teleporting this time?” Brent said, studying the woman in front of him. Stiles was standing half a step in front of her, his tattoos still glowing black.

“There’s a better way.” He snarled.

“Well, I want to do it this way.” Brent said, taking a step towards the woman. She looked terrified, glancing at Stiles with fear.

“Please.” Stiles said, “Please. I’ve got a plan.” He pleaded.

“Silence Red.” Brent snapped and Stiles closed his mouth, glaring at Brent in disgust and still not moving out of his way, still trying to protect the woman behind him. “Move out of my way.” Stiles glared at him, the smell of burning flesh getting stronger, “Would you like me to order you to kill Scott? Or Laura? Perhaps Derek? Your father? Talia herself?” Stiles growled at him before finally taking a step to the side, “Good boy.” Brent said, pulling him in for a kiss. “It is lovely when you try to defy me, but it’s so much sweeter knowing that you can’t.” He grinned before turning to the woman, “Your name?”

“Bianca.” The woman whispered, gazing around the room with awe. “I know what you’re planning.” She said seriously, “I know that you are werewolves.” The room went silent and Brent looked to Stiles.

“And how do you know that Bianca? Did Stiles here tell you? Did he explain what I’m going to do to you?” Brent snarled, the anger evident in his voice. “Why are you always such a little shit?” Brent raged snarling at Stiles, slamming him against the wall.

“Just comes naturally I guess.” Stiles smirked. Brent had an arm across his chest, pinning him to the wall and Derek thought for sure that Brent was about to tear his throat out when the guy suddenly paused and he smiled widely.

“You know what Stiles?” Brent hissed, “I think it’s about god damn time you submitted to me once and for all.” He said taking a step back and releasing his grip on Stiles, “You’re going to bare your throat to me and you’re going to do it now. Or we can say goodbye to one of the people in this room.” Stiles paled, evidently it was something he had never done before and Derek could understand why, baring your throat to a wolf was pretty much the same as them claiming you. That you belonged to them. Derek wasn’t sure how Stiles had managed to resist the order all the other times that Brent must have ordered it, but he must have found a way. Now they could see the war in his eyes, if Stiles submitted then it would be as good as agreeing that Brent was his master, if he didn’t then one of them would die, and Stiles would be the one to kill them. He tensed, he knew how much Stiles must have fought Brent on this one, he honestly didn’t know which one would win out.

After a minute of Stiles glaring at the ground he tilted his chin up and exposed his throat to Brent who hummed happily, pressing his face into Stiles’ neck.

“Good boy. I knew you’d make the right choice. Now, stay.” Brent hummed happily. Stiles looked to be on the verge of tears and wouldn’t meet any of their eyes, instead staring at the ceiling. Eventually Brent pulled away and turned back to Bianca, “Unfortunately Stiles telling you about my plan really doesn’t change anything.” Brent grinned stepping towards her.

“I know.” Bianca said calmly, trying not to show just how afraid she was but they could all smell it.

Brent flashed his eyes at her and she whimpered in fear.

“This isn’t how we do things!” Talia shouted, slamming her fist on the table.

“It’s not how you do things.” Brent smirked, “But, you can’t really tell me what to do, can you?” He taunted, his teeth elongating as he turned back towards Bianca. “Don’t worry. I’ll make it quick.” She swallowed loudly, backing into the wall behind her. She glanced across at Stiles who only nodded once before she seemed to steel herself and then Brent was on her. They all heard her cry of pain but there was nothing any of them could do about it.

A moment later he pulled away and they saw the bite at her shoulder.

“Good. It won’t take long to heal and then we’ll put the plan in motion.” Brent smiled smugly. “Stiles. Come sit with me.” He said moving back towards the table and Stiles followed him silently, meeting Bianca’s eyes as she looked to him, the bite already healing and starting to change Bianca quickly.

“So what is the plan?” Scott asked unable to look away from Stiles, Scott knew that look in Stiles’ eyes, he’d seen it enough as a child, it was obvious that whatever Brent had planned, Stiles had his own plan with Bianca.

“Well, quite simply, we’re going to play cat and mouse.” Brent smiled and Stiles’ heartbeat soared rapidly.

“Which involves what?” John said through gritted teeth, no doubt picking up on his son’s sudden panic.

“Well, the Argents want Red,” Brent smirked, “Sorry, they want Stiles,” He said, grinning at them, “They wouldn’t believe if I passed Stiles over to them willingly, so instead, Stiles is going to make a brave attempt at an escape. Except he’s going to run into a rogue wolf unfortunately. A freshly turned wolf who doesn’t know how to control her powers yet. He’s going to run from the wolf. The wolf is going to chase.”

“And the Argents come into this where?” Laura snarled

“Well, they want Stiles alive, they’re going to be too busy trying to stop the wolf from killing him to notice that we’re going to be closing in on them.”

“So you want to use Bianca as bait to lure the hunters in and then you’re going to hunt them?” Peter asked in clarification.

“Yes. Simply put.” Brent smirked.

“And why doesn’t Stiles just turn around and kill Bianca?” John asked. “Or teleport out of there?”

“Well, I’m glad you asked that one.” Brent smirked and Stiles’ reeked of fear, his heart rate getting even faster. “You see, during his daring escape, Stiles is going to be injured, just enough that he’s going to be basically a defenceless human.”

“And you think the Argents are going to buy that?” Laura scoffed.

“Oh, I intend to make it very believable.” Brent smirked before rounding on Stiles and slamming his head into the table. They all jumped to their feet prepared to attack but Brent just smirked at them.

“Fuck!” Stiles moaned, raising his head slightly, wiping away the blood that was running down his face from a cut on his temple. Derek snarled loudly.

“Let go of him right now.” He demanded, his wolf barely contained.

“I don’t think I will actually.” Brent said smugly in reply. “Stiles, can you still think clearly?” He asked without breaking eye contact with Derek.

“I can still think you’re a dick.” Stiles mumbled. Brent slammed his head into the table again, “Motherfucker!” Stiles cursed. The whole room was beginning to smell of blood and Bianca was staring at Stiles in panic. Derek growled again, the growl echoed by the others in the room.

“How about now?” Brent asked kindly. “Answer honestly.” He said when Stiles opened his mouth to say he’d had enough.

“You know, maybe it is working, you look like a cat.” Stiles snarled.

“What?” The whole pack asked in confusion.

“You know?” Stiles smirked, “A fucking pussy.” He let out a little laugh as Brent dragged him from the table and slammed him into the wall.

“You know what you look like?” Brent growled, “Like you aren’t in enough pieces.” He said snapping the bone in Stiles’ arm easily. Stiles cried out in pain and Derek roared, leaping over the table and tackling Brent to the ground. He pinned Brent in an instant and raised his claws ready to slash the man’s throat when he felt a knife at his own. Brent smirked beneath him.

“Oh, please, go for the kill.” Brent laughed, “You won’t get anywhere near it and Stiles will have to deal with the fact he killed you. It would be quite fun for me. It’s so amusing watching him torture himself with the fact that their deaths are on him.” Derek snarled but his claws retracted and he slowly backed away from Brent until he could see Stiles out of the corner of his eye, placing himself in between Derek and Brent, protecting the man with his own body. The tattoos were glowing black again and Stiles seemed to be struggling to keep the knife from cutting any deeper into Derek’s neck, his hand actually shaking at the effort.

“Okay.” He said, holding his hands up in surrender and locking eyes with Stiles, “Okay, it’s okay Stiles, I’m backing up okay?” Derek took a few more steps back and Stiles started to lower the knife, the look of relief on his face evident for all of them.

Brent got up from the floor laughing.

“I do like a good fight.” He said happily, grabbing hold of Stiles’ broken arm and pulling it behind his back before punching him quickly in the ribs. “How about now? How many fingers am I holding up?” Brent asked.

“I don’t know. How many am I?” Stiles slurred, raising his middle finger and directing it at Brent, a small smirk on his face and a small trickle of blood at the corner of his mouth.

“Enough!” John shouted, “He’s had fucking enough! Stop it.” He screamed, actually having to be physically restrained by Peter and Boyd when Brent punched Stiles again. Scott was growling threateningly and Derek was clenching his fists so tight that he was drawing blood.

Stiles slid down the wall, cradling his broken arm gently and tears sliding down his face.

“Just one more for good luck.” Brent grinned before kicking Stiles hard in the stomach. Stiles collapsed sideways, coughing for breath, cursing quietly. Brent crouched down next to him and gripped him tight by the chin.

“You know the drill Stiles. But let’s clarify things for our friends here.” Brent said turning back to them. “Any singular one of you threaten me and Stiles will pop back and slit your throats. He might be a bit bruised right now but he’s still my guard and that won’t change.” Stiles gritted his teeth as the tattoo’s burned bright red, “You’re not allowed to let the hunters know you can still use your powers, not under any circumstance, unless they’re about to kill you. You are not allowed to let them know that you know Bianca, or that any of us are coming after them. Make sure you leave a nice clear trail for us though, as usual. Do I make myself clear?” Brent growled and Stiles nodded his head sharply, “Have I missed anything?” Brent grinned, “Oh, yes, of course.” He smirked, “Make sure you kill Bianca once the hunters are close enough. We don’t need the distraction of a feral wolf do we?”

Stiles snarled at him, the tattoos glowing brightly.

“Bianca, come here.” Brent ordered, Luke shoved her forward and she stumbled closer to Brent. He grabbed her and shoved her head into Stiles’ neck. “Take a nice deep sniff.” He smirked as Bianca struggled. “Does he smell nice?” Brent asked and Bianca trembled, “Does he smell good enough to chase?” Brent hissed and Bianca’s eyes flashed golden, “Does he smell like prey?” Her claws came out at that, and she clenched her fists tightly, drawing blood.

Brent leaned forward, licking at some of the blood on Stiles’ face, pulling him into a rough kiss.

“You’re turn sweetheart.” Brent said and Bianca leaned forward slowly licking at the blood still running from Stiles’ temple. “Good girl.” Brent said smugly when her teeth started to elongate. “Alright, Stiles.” Brent said, grabbing him roughly and dragging him towards the door, “Get going. Make sure the hunters see you. Let’s see, ten-minute head start sounds fair?”

“Plenty of time.” Stiles snarled at Brent. Brent grinned manically at him before slamming his head into the door causing Stiles to groan in pain again. “Get going then.” Brent said shoving him out the door. Derek saw Stiles stumble slightly before Brent was slamming the door and Stiles was gone from view.

Brent sauntered back to his seat and Derek fought every single instinct he had to resist tearing the guy into a thousand pieces.

“Still got the scent Bianca?” Brent smirked and Bianca nodded from where she stood against the wall still trembling and trying to stay in control.

“How do you know this is even going to work?” Scott asked, “Bianca is freshly turned, what if she decides to track someone else down instead? It’s not like she can control it yet?”

“Ah, well, that’s very simple. Have you ever smelt magic Mr McCall?” Scott shook his head slowly. “Well, very soon you will be able to, and trust me, it’s not a matter of if Bianca will follow Stiles, it’s more if you’ll all lose control too. I guess we’re going to see just how good your control is.” He smirked and then glanced at the clock on the wall. “Times up. Get going Bianca.” Brent snarled and Bianca sprinted to the door and then was gone from their sight in a moment.

“Alright, well let’s get after them.” John said quickly standing up from the table.

“Just a few minutes yet. We don’t want the hunters to guess the game just yet.”

“How do you know they’re even going to take the bait?” Peter snarled.

“Obviously, you’re not aware of just how badly Kate wants Stiles back. I mean to begin with, obviously, it was all about getting back at John, her plan was to turn Stiles against all of you. Send him back just so she could watch the looks on your faces when Stiles shot his dad and burned you all alive. But Stiles didn’t break for her, which, of course, I am extremely glad about, because if he had then the binding spell probably wouldn’t have worked. But anyway, I’m getting off topic.” Brent smiled, his blue eyes still cold and hard, “After a little while, she didn’t want Stiles just to kill all of you, she wanted him because she knew if she could control him she’d have a weapon that was almost undefeatable, and she’s not let go of that hope.”

“But Stiles is bound to you.” Laura snarled.

“Yes, but Kate has recently acquired a way to, hmm, how should I say it, a change of ownership. If she gets her hands on Stiles, well, let’s just say, we won’t last long.”

“She could have used it yesterday when she had me. Stiles was right there.” Derek said, his stomach flipping at the thought of Stiles being controlled by Kate. She was perhaps the only person he knew that was more insane than Brent.

“Yes. Although she’d have struggled. Once the chant starts it can’t be interrupted, and since Stiles knows to kill anyone who tries to break the binding, it’s very unlikely Kate would have survived long enough to finish it.” Brent said smugly. There was silence in the room, Brent was insane, completely and utterly insane. “Well, we should get out there I suppose. Don’t want Stiles to be too exhausted for tonight. He’s got a lot of grovelling to do and I can think of several ways for him to make it up to me.” Brent smirked standing from the table.

Derek gritted his teeth. He would find a way to kill Brent before the day was out, he would not allow him to lay a single finger on Stiles again ever.

As soon as they stepped outside the hotel Derek was hit by the most amazing scent he’d ever smelt, he could tell the others smelt it too. It was light, fresh, a softness in the air, he could almost see it, a soft shimmering that lead towards the woods. He could smell pain and anger underneath it, but it was all blocked out by this magical scent.

“Told you.” Brent smirked as his eyes flashed red, “Time to let the beasts out.” He snarled before his eyes flashed red and he sprinted toward the woods, obviously following Stiles’ scent. Talia sprinted after him and then everyone else followed suit. Just as he was about to go after them Lydia appeared in the car park, grinning like an idiot, even though she looked exhausted, and waving a piece of paper in her hands like it was the holy grail.

“Derek!” She said jubilantly, “I found it, I found how to change his master.” She said gripping his arm. Derek felt his stomach drop.

“Lyds, Brent told us that Stiles has orders to kill anyone who attempts to break the bindings.” He said softly, not wanting to crush the hope in her eyes.

“Well, then,” She said angrily, “We’ll just have to hope that Stiles can fight it long enough for me to finish reading it.” She hissed. “Where are they?” She turned around.

“In the woods. Come on, I’ll explain as we go.” He bent down slightly and she jumped on his back like she’d done many times before. So he explained everything to her, everything that Brent had done, intended to do. Lydia explained about the spell, that she’d changed Brent’s name to true mate, so that Stiles would only have to obey the orders of his true mate, which would hopefully be Derek. Derek wasn’t sure how he felt about that, but he was willing to accept it if it meant Stiles was free of Brent and Kate.

“So you just need to read it?” He asked, already planning how he would be able to keep Stiles away from Lydia long enough for her to read it.

“Yes, although, it needs to be sealed with a kiss. So once I’ve finished, you’ll have to kiss him.”

“Okay.” Derek said simply, he wasn’t really going to argue about that, he’d been thinking about doing just that for the past day so he wasn’t exactly unhappy about it. Just about the fact that he was going to have to kiss Stiles against his will, and he had no idea how Stiles felt about him.

Derek followed the scent for a good half hour, eventually catching up with the rest of the wolves, Derek was worried as the scent of pain and blood became stronger the longer they tracked Stiles.

Brent slowed to a stop a few minutes later and Derek could see the trees thinning out ahead of them. He could hear the sounds of people moving about in the clearing and he glanced to Lydia who nodded in determination.

He was terrified, if anything happened to Lydia because of this, he’d never forgive himself.

They stepped into the clearing a minute later and Derek took in the scene in front of him. Stiles was stood glaring at Kate, his breath was coming heavily and there were three claws marks that were bleeding heavily at his side.

Derek didn’t know where Bianca was and he wasn’t sure he wanted to know, knowing that if Stiles had already killed her, it would be another death he’d have to live with, instead he glared at Kate and the pack of hunters she was with. She didn’t seem overly surprised to see them but she still wasn’t happy about it.

“Lovely to see you again Brent.” She smirked, the whole crowd of hunters turning towards them, Derek thought there had to be at least thirty of them. He wanted to say it was a little extreme but this was Stiles they were on about. He had been known to cause quite a commotion.

“Kate. The pleasure is all yours.” Brent replied, he looked across to Stiles, who was white as a sheet, blood covering half of him, his tattoos glowing fiercely.

“Evidently.” Kate said condescendingly, “However, I think I’m going to be taking him back now.” Kate smiled, flashing her teeth and a moment later one of the hunters at the back of the crowd started to chant loudly in Latin. Derek paled.

“Lydia. Now.” He shouted as the hunters rushed towards them. Lydia started to read of the paper in her trembling hands as the pack turned to look at her in confusion.

“You little bitch!” Brent turned, heading towards Lydia before Derek slammed into him from the side.

“Stiles!” Brent screamed, “Kill them!”

Stiles stayed where he was, the tattoos burning black against his skin as he fought the urge to kill them. There were shouts and screams from the wolves and the hunters. At some point the rest of the Hale pack appeared and Derek almost sagged in relief. Together they could defeat the hunters he was sure.

“Protect Lydia.” Derek shouted out and the whole pack turned to put themselves between Lydia and any threat that might come at her. Derek could hear the other hunter still chanting and he knew he had to stop the guy before he finished, he didn’t know how much longer they had left. Stiles was on his knees now, Derek could smell the burning flesh across the clearing, he didn’t know how much longer Stiles could hold out.

“Stiles!” Brent screeched. “I demand you to stop them! Protect me!” He shouted as a hunter went for him. Stiles was on his feet in a moment, stumbling towards the hunter, pulling knives out of nowhere and snarling at the man as he kept between Brent and the hunter.

“Good, now fucking kill her!” Brent raged pointing at Lydia and Stiles grimaced as the tattoos burnt more and he took a step forwards.

“Bianca! Now!” Stiles shouted and then suddenly there was a loud popping noise and Derek turned just in time to see Stiles fly backwards, a bullet tearing through his side.

“No!” Derek screamed, rushing towards Stiles, tearing through anyone who attempted to stop him.

Derek was aware that suddenly the chanting on both sides of him had stopped and there was silence in the clearing.

“Derek!” Lydia shouted “Do it!” She screamed and Derek dashed past the last hunter in his path and reached Stiles. He pulled Stiles up slightly, saw that his eyes were still open, his heart still beating, the tattoos a soft gold, he was in an enormous amount of pain, but he would make it, Derek wasn’t about to lose him. He surged forwards, pressing his lips against Stiles’. He took a moment to savour the softness of his lips before pulling away. Stiles was gazing at him with confused eyes.

“Did it work?” Lydia asked and Derek shrugged.

“Stiles, are you okay?” Derek asked and Stiles nodded at him, staring at him with an odd expression in his eyes.

“Stiles! Here now!” Brent ordered and Stiles started to get to his feet. Derek let out a sob, this couldn’t happen. He was sure it would have worked.

“No! Kill him Stiles!” Kate screeched, and Derek wondered momentarily if the spell had worked for Kate first and that’s why it hadn’t worked with Derek. Or maybe it was because he wasn’t Stiles’ true mate. Maybe that was the problem.

Stiles stood up, still clutching tightly at his bleeding side.

“Stiles!” John sobbed, “Please. No.” He whimpered, his voice breaking as Stiles stumbled towards Brent.

Stiles reached Brent and Brent smirked happily, seemingly pleasantly surprised that Stiles was somehow still his. Then, in a movement quicker that Derek could believe, Stiles reached up and snapped his neck, dropping him to the ground.

“Yes!” Kate said triumphantly. “Now, Stiles, come here.” She said, smirking at the Hale pack as Stiles made his way towards her.

Derek sat numbly on the ground, not finding the energy to move, Stiles was lost to them again. There was no hope. He couldn’t stop the tears trickling down his cheeks, the sorrow washing over him made him feel like he would never be able to breathe again.

Stiles stopped a few feet in front of Kate, observing the hunters that surrounded her, seeming to memorize each face.

“Good boy.” Kate cooed.

“Stay.” Stiles growled and Kate looked shocked for a moment before going to move forward. “I said stay.” Stiles repeated and Kate suddenly looked panic stricken when she couldn’t move.

“What the…“ Kate said in disbelief.

“You are not and will never be my master. Now shut up, you’re annoying me.” Stiles snarled striding through the hunters and grabbing the piece of paper the hunter was still holding. “And I’ll be taking that.” He said, Derek watched in fascination as the paper burnt into ashes. Bianca suddenly appeared between the trees, slightly out of breath but smiling happily at the sight of Stiles, a gun still in her hands.

“Cutting it a bit close there.” Stiles said and she grinned at him.

“Didn’t know which way it was going to go.” She replied.

“Thought you said you were a good shot.” Stiles complained.

“Well, I took a chance.” Bianca shrugged.

“What is going on?” Scott said, flinging his hands up in despair and Stiles gave him a sad half smile.

“Two minutes Scott. Then I’ll explain everything.” Stiles said before winking at Derek and disappearing out of sight.

“Wait!” John shouted but Stiles was already gone. Derek continued to sit in silence, he really couldn’t understand what was going on. Stiles didn’t belong to Kate, he didn’t belong to Brent, he sure as hell didn’t belong to Derek, so what was going on? He glanced back at Lydia who shrugged in confusion. The only possible solution Derek could come up with was that Lydia’s plan had worked and Stiles was bound to his true mate, it just wasn’t Derek.

Stiles popped back into existence a few minutes later and Derek couldn’t help but notice he looked even worse than before. He couldn’t even think about the amount of blood he must have lost already.

“You’re back!” Derek said, a little surprised, he really wasn’t sure that Stiles would come back to them.

“Of course I am.” Stiles said, smiling happily. “Just had something I needed to take care of.”

“So, explain what’s going on now.” Scott demanded.

“I don’t take orders from you.” Stiles grinned and Scott scowled, suddenly looking like a kicked puppy. “But, if you must know,” Stiles relented and Scott grinned, “Bianca here is a trained sniper. I explained the situation and told her to play along, she’d get super-duper wolf powers in the meantime. Then she needed to hang back and watch what was happening. If it looked like Kate was going to get control, or that I was going to hurt any of you, she was supposed to shoot me dead. But apparently, she had other ideas.” Stiles winced and Bianca looked at him a bit guiltily.

“But you’re alive.” She said, hoping that would make up for it. “And Brent’s dead and Kate and the hunters are stuck so it’s all worked out.”

“Brent’s not dead. Snapping his neck didn’t kill him. Just put him out of action until it’s decided what to do with him.” Stiles said, “Speaking of which,” He said turning to Talia, “Alpha Hale, I ask the favour of allowing Bianca to join your pack. She is new to this and didn’t ask for it. I believe she would benefit greatly from your assistance.” Stiles said formally.

“Of course.” Talia said smiling softly at Stiles and then Bianca. “What about you Stiles? Would you like to join our pack?” She asked, Stiles glanced backward to Derek.

“I kind of already am.”

“What?” Peter asked in confusion.

“Well, not actually pack. More like, I belong to a certain member of the pack.” Stiles said blushing slightly glancing again at Derek.

“What?” Derek said his mouth hanging open in surprise.

“It worked!” Lydia squeaked, jumping up and down on the spot.

“What worked?” Erica asked, looking at them all in confusion.

“Stiles.” Derek said, his voice soft, “Come here?”

Stiles rolled his eyes and smirked slightly, “Not really an order there, Der.”

“Erm. Right, sorry. Come here.” He said slightly firmer and Stiles walked towards him. “Holy shit.” Derek said under his breath, unable to believe that this had worked. Stiles was free from Brent. But, god, now he had to listen to Derek. He paled. Derek was the worst person ever at making decisions. This would only end in disaster.

“Well, as cute as that is.” Lydia said, waving the piece of paper in front of her, “If you want, we can just free you now?” She asked and Stiles’ jaw actually dropped.

“What?” He squeaked.

“I said, we can free you, if you want to?”

“Are you kidding me? Of course I do.” Stiles grinned then looked across at Derek, “Not that I don’t like having you as a master, I’d really rather not find out the hard way that you are like into really kinky bedroom stuff.” Stiles said and Derek blushed slightly as there were a few chuckles from the pack, “I mean,” Stiles suddenly backtracked, “If you know, if you don’t mind. If you want to keep the bindings in place, it’s up to you I guess.”

“Of course we’re breaking them.” Derek said, there was no way he was staying bound to Stiles against his will. Besides, Stiles recognized Derek as his master which meant that Derek was Stiles’ mate. They’d still end up together, he was sure it would all work out.

“Okay. So how do we do this then?” Stiles said, grinning slightly, then wincing when his side throbbed.

“Can we get you patched up first please?” Derek pleaded, reaching out to put his hand over the wound in Stiles’ side.

“If we absolutely have to.” Stiles said almost collapsing in relief when Derek sucked the pain from him. Stiles watched in fascination as the black lines trailed up Derek’s arm. Allison rushed forward with a medical kit and quickly bandaged Stiles up, it wasn’t perfect but it would stop him losing any more blood and hold his arm in the right position until they could get it seen to properly.

“Stiles?” John said stepping forward, “Can I?” He asked opening his arms and Stiles glanced once at Derek who nodded quickly in surprise, he wouldn’t have thought that Stiles would have even had to ask, before Stiles practically fell into his father’s arms.

The two of them fell to their knees, hugging tightly, both of them openly sobbing on the others shoulder. Finally, they had each other again. John had never dreamed he would ever get to see his son again, and yet here he was, clinging to him tightly, admittedly Stiles was covered in blood, pale as a ghost and still in a lot of pain, but he was alive and breathing and John couldn’t ask for more.

“I missed you so much dad.” Stiles sobbed.

“I missed you too kiddo.” John said squeezing Stiles tightly, “God I missed you. I love you Stiles. I love you so much. I’m never letting you out of my sight again. Not ever.”

Stiles grinned and Derek fell in love with him a little bit more if that was even possible.

“Not even to go to the toilet?” Stiles asked and John chuckled.

“Maybe then. But I think I’ll still need you to keep the door open.” John said, he was trying for serious but his voice betrayed his amusement.

“You want me to take pictures so you can check I’m healthy too?” Stiles laughed and John burst into tears again.

“God, I missed you.” He said sobbing at Stiles.

“I love you Dad. Really, really love you.” Stiles said. It was obvious neither of them wanted to let go but when Brent moaned from across the clearing, obviously finally healing from his broken neck, it was evident that they needed to get a move on. They broke apart and Talia looked across at where Brent lay and Kate and the other hunters stood.

“So how do we do this freedom stuff?” Derek asked eager to get it under way.

“Well, sticking with the genie analogy, you’re his master, you have to command him freedom.” Lydia said, “But,” She said when Derek opened his mouth to say that Stiles was free, “First I need to read this little bit here and I need you to,” She strode towards him and pulled him against Stiles. “Right, Okay, Stiles, bare your neck.” Stiles complied easily with only the slightest bit of unease in his eyes, Derek was glad about that. “Okay, perfect. Derek, place your mouth here.” Lydia ordered, touching Stiles’ neck at his pulse point. Derek leaned forward and placed his lips lightly against Stiles’ skin, “Perfect.” Lydia said grinning, “Okay, now it says that you need to bite, not enough to break the skin, just enough to hold Stiles in place.” Lydia said. Derek pulled away from Stiles and arched an eyebrow at her and Stiles let out a little squeak of fear. “Don’t worry. It’ll be fine.” She reassured them.

Derek moved back into position, glad when Stiles bared his neck again. He brushed his teeth against Stiles’ skin, pulling Stiles slightly tighter to him so he could make this as easy as possible. He couldn’t help but lick Stiles’ skin, wanting to know what it tasted like, he also couldn’t help but notice the tiny scent of arousal from Stiles. He could hear Lydia chanting nearby, but it all seemed very far away, instead all he could think about was how good it felt to have Stiles against him, to inhale and smell only Stiles, even if there was still blood and pain, there was still Stiles under all that. He tried very hard not to get overly aroused knowing that all the wolves would be able to smell it, but his body didn’t seem to want to be listening to him though. He focused instead on trying to locate every heartbeat in the clearing, he hoped it was enough of a distraction that he didn’t get carried away and jump Stiles before they even got back to the hotel.

“Okay.” Lydia said a few minutes later, “Alright, now you need to release slightly and repeat after me.” Derek let go of Stiles and looked him in the eyes as he repeated Lydia’s words. He could get lost in those eyes, they were so warm and bright and Derek wondered again how he could have ever thought, for even a moment that Stiles was evil.

A moment later and he had to look away, but that was because the tattoos were slowing disappearing from his skin and Stiles was staring in amazement at his wrists that were tattoo free.

“What about my neck?” He asked, reaching up and touching it as if he would be able to feel the tattoo.

“Completely tattoo free.” Derek smiled and was surprised when Stiles surged forward and hugged him.

“Thank you.” Stiles mumbled into his chest, “Thank you so much.” He said and Derek hugged him back, holding him tightly, not willing to let him go.

“So what now?” Allison asked a few minutes later, looking across at Kate.

“Well, I believe, that since Stiles is the primary wronged party, it is up to him to decide.” Talia said, glancing to Stiles. Stiles looked around at the pack, then glanced to Kate and Brent.

“I don’t want to spill any more blood.” He mumbled and Derek had to fight the urge to hug him tight again. Instead it was John to wrap an arm around his sons’ shoulder and pull him close.

“If you don’t want to kill them, that’s fine.” Talia said, “But I am more than happy to kill them on your behalf.” She said, allowing her claws to appear.

“No.” Stiles said firmly. “I mean, sorry, just, erm,” Stiles stuttered, “I don’t want anyone else to die because of me. Even if they definitely deserve it.” He paused, obviously gathering his thoughts, “Alpha Hale, I have no right to ask this but I’ll ask it anyway. Kate is a human, admittedly a sick, twisted, possibly insane one, but she’s still human. I ask that she is punished by human standards. She shot my dad. She kidnapped and tortured me. She needs to stand trial for that. So I ask that we take her to the nearest Sheriff’s department and hand her over to them.”

The pack were all looking at Stiles with wide eyes, even Kate was staring at him with surprise.

“Very well.” Talia said after a moment, “If that’s what you want Stiles, then I am willing to do it. Even if I would rather see her rot in the ground for what she’s done to you and my family.” Kate gulped. “And what would you like to do about Brent? He unfortunately isn’t human and we can’t put him in a prison cell.”

“Erm, I sort of had an idea about that actually. If it’s okay with you?” Stiles asked and Talia nodded. Stiles gave a small half smile before ducking his head slightly and moving towards Brent. Derek wanted to reach out and grab his hand but instead settled for walking a step behind him, there was no way Derek was letting Brent get anywhere near Stiles.

Brent glanced up at them from the floor, his neck very nearly healed now. “He’s mine.” Brent growled at Derek.

“I’m not anybody’s.” Stiles snarled. “And I was never yours. Not by choice.”

“You’ll be mine.” Brent smirked, “I’ll just rebind you.” He said smugly.

“Good luck with that.” Stiles said, his smile bright, “The only copy left in the world of how to bind sparks is sat in Lydia’s hands right now. I really doubt you’re going to get through the whole pack to get at her.” Brent snarled at Lydia and Jackson stepped in front of her, growling right back.

“You’ll have missed one.” Brent said angrily.

“I’m a spark. If I think I can, I can. So when I say I’ve tracked down and destroyed every single copy apart from that one then believe me, I have.”

There was a hint of smoke behind him and Derek turned to see Lydia burning the copy she held. Stiles gave her a small half smile and Lydia grinned back at him.

“So what?” Brent hissed, “You going to kill me now? Finally going to follow through without orders? Have I finally made a murderer out of you?” He laughed and Stiles looked at him a little sadly.

“No. I’m going to do something much worse Brent.” He said, laying a hand on Brent’s chest. Derek let out a little growl, he couldn’t help it, Stiles shouldn’t ever have to touch Brent again. Stiles glanced over his shoulder at Derek and let out a little smile, it stopped Derek in his tracks. Brent seemed to regain movement in his body and Derek knew that his neck had healed now. “Stay.” Stiles ordered and Brent’s body fell still. “It’s not very nice is it? To have to do something against your will?” Brent snarled, “Now think how I felt every time you ordered me to do something. When you ordered me to maim and kill and cause mayhem and pain. When you forced me to sleep with you, act like your mate, act like I could ever possibly look at you and feel anything but disgust and pity. Imagine all the awful things I could do to you right now.” Stiles hummed, “But I won’t do that Brent. Because I’m not you.” Stiles glanced back at Derek again, licking his lips nervously, Derek’s eyes tracking the movement. “You never deserved the gift you were born with.” Stiles said, closing his eyes in concentration. “So I’m taking it away.” Brent’s eyes glowed red and he growled at Stiles.

The whole pack gathered around to witness what it was Stiles was doing and Derek wasn’t the only one to fall back in shock when the red faded from Brent’s eyes slowly and the form of a wolf drifted from Brent’s chest, becoming more solid as it moved towards the trees.

“No!” Brent howled in despair, “What have you done!?” He screamed as the wolf became a solid entity and stood looking at the gathering in the clearing.

It was just an ordinary wolf, there was no strange tint to its eyes, nothing odd about its size, it wasn’t frothing at the mouth like Brent currently was. It was just an ordinary wolf that you could run into absolutely anywhere in the woods.

“That poor creature was living with your insanity, just as I was. I set him free.” Stiles said slowly, watching the wolf with sadness in his eyes. He nodded at it and then in a flash the wolf darted into the trees and disappeared from sight.

“You took his wolf from him?” The pack said, staring at Stiles in a mixture of awe, shock and something like fear.

“Yeah. He’s human now. He can be treated like a human. Punished like a human.” Stiles said, looking at the floor as if afraid to look up and meet their eyes.

“You’re pretty amazing.” Lydia said, stepping forward and hugging Stiles tightly.

“Yes.” Talia said, “You really are.” She paused, looking at Stiles and reassessing him. When she had first met him she had put him as an aggressive murderer, then he’d saved Derek and she had to rethink again, he obviously wasn’t pure evil. Then he was Stiles, not Red, and how could Johns’ son have turned out so wrong that he enjoyed murdering people? Then it was learning about the tattoos and how he was controlled by Brent and she’d felt sorry for him, but overall, she’d been glad that there was some limit to his powers, except then Derek had freed him, and he’d just stripped a born werewolf of his wolf, something that nobody had ever heard of before, Talia hadn’t even known it was possible. She knew that she needed to keep Stiles on side, that he was more dangerous than she had realized. She needed Stiles on her side, always. She was glad he was Derek’s mate, there was no way Stiles would betray them when he was mated to Derek. She needed to ensure that happened sooner rather than later.

“Maybe we should go back to the hotel?” John said a few minutes later and everyone nodded.

They marched the hunters, Kate and Brent back to the car park, John had already called the Sheriff’s department and explained the situation, the police were already there waiting for them when they got back, oddly enough Kate and Brent went along willingly and John wondered how much that had to do with Stiles. He’d never seen someone looking as broken as Brent, he couldn’t imagine how he’d feel without his wolf now. But he was still glad, he saw how destroyed Brent looked and he could smile, because his son had looked like that less than twenty-four hours ago. His son had sat there this morning and nearly broken into sobs at the thought of going back to Brent. Yeah John was glad the guy was human. He knew what happened to paedophiles in prison. He still thought it wouldn’t be enough.

Stiles waved off the ambulance, saying it was mainly flesh wounds and once he had a bath he’d be fine. John and Derek had both growled at him until he agreed to get in the ambulance and at least let them check him out, then they had both growled at the technician who asked Stiles to take his shirt off and then proceeded to stink the ambulance out with his arousal.

“Dude, what did you do to them?” Stiles mock whispered and the man blushed.

“Nothing.” He said blushing, frowning at the wound at Stiles’ side. He patched Stiles up and Stiles slipped his shirt back on, a slightly sturdier cast on his broken arm now. The guy bent down and scrawled something on the cast and Stiles looked at it in surprise. “It’s my number, you know, if you want to meet up sometime, grab a coffee or something?” The guy said blushing brightly.

“Dude.” Stiles laughed, “Seriously, just spent eight years with a crazy man, these two could not get any more overprotective if you tried. And they have really bad bedside manners, let’s not set them off.” Stiles smiled and the guy glanced once at Derek and John before nodding and scribbling out his number.

“Yeah, sorry, probably not the smartest time to hit on you.”

“Nah, but it makes me feel kind of special.” Stiles grinned, “I thought I must look like shit, but evidently not if you are hitting on me still.”

Derek growled a little louder.

“Alright, cool it grumpy.” Stiles said, hopping out of the ambulance and giving the technician a little wave, the guy waved back slightly, looking incredibly confused as to what had just happened.

Derek glared at the guy and he quickly shut the door and drove off.

“Aww, look who’s all protective.” Stiles grinned and Derek huffed slightly. “Okay, first things first. I need a bath. Then I need to sleep.” He said seriously.

“Okay.” John said leading them to his room. “I’ll run the bath for you.” John said disappearing into the bathroom and Stiles smiled at him gratefully.

“Stiles, about earlier, I wanted to say…” Derek started but he stopped when Stiles moved closer to him.

“If you are about to say you’re sorry, I might have to hurt you.” Stiles smiled softly.

“But I am sorry.” Derek insisted, “Kissing you was supposed to seal the bond, which apparently it did, but I wouldn’t have done it, I wouldn’t ever make you do anything you didn’t want to do, and obviously now that you’re not bound to me, that’s really not an issue anyway, but I didn’t want you thinking that it’s something I would do because that’s not the kind of person I…” He trailed off when Stiles stepped closer to him and cut his words off with a soft kiss to his lips. Stiles pulled away again a moment later and Derek let out a breath he hadn’t know he was holding.

“There. Now we’re even.” Stiles said, grinning at him happily, before his face turned slightly more serious, “I guess it’s my turn to say sorry now.” He paused and Derek looked at him quizzically, what could Stiles possibly have to be sorry for. “I know Lydia was saying true mate in the chant. I know that means you are my true mate. Which I’m happy about, obviously, because just wow, but it means that I’m yours and I want to say sorry about that. I’m not going to be instantly okay, I want you to understand that. I want to give you the chance to walk away and try and be happy with someone else, because I’m not good. I’m not a good person, I’m a murderer. The way the pack was looking at me earlier, I saw the fear in their eyes that I could do that to them. I wouldn’t. Not ever. Brent was an extreme case. But it doesn’t take away the fear. I don’t want you to be with me when I’m such a complete and utter fuckup.”

“Stiles,” Derek said, gripping his good arm softly, “I wouldn’t expect you to be fine. If you were totally fine after everything that happened, well, I’d be worried something was wrong in your head. But you’re not a murderer. You are a good man and I will tell you that every day if you need to hear it, and hell, even if you don’t. You should know that I’m pretty fucked up myself. But I couldn’t even dream of a better mate. I couldn’t ever want anyone who wasn’t you. So, please, I know it’s going to take time, and that’s fine with me, but please, give me a chance to prove how much I love you.”

“I think you’ve already proven that.” Stiles said, looking at him with gentle eyes, “You set me free Derek. That shows me what a good person you are. But, yeah, we’ll figure it out together.” Stiles said and Derek grinned.

“Sounds good to me.” He smiled happily. “You should go get a bath. You smell too much like blood.” Derek said, his nose wrinkling and Stiles laughed slightly, planting another kiss at the corner of Derek’s mouth before heading off to the bathroom.

They headed home the next day, Stiles was now a multitude of colour, the bruises turning black and blue, he still smelled faintly of blood, but the smell of pain and fear was stronger. Derek wanted to stay close to him, but he knew Stiles needed his dad more than anyone else right now. Stiles had stared up at the big house in awe, then followed his dad silently up the steps.

“Aren’t we going home?” Stiles asked quietly although it was evident the whole pack had heard him. Derek’s shoulders tensed.

“Stiles,” John said softly, “I, erm, I sold the house.”

“What?” Stiles said in disbelief.

“I sold the house, it was too big and too empty and just reminded me of everything I’d lost. I moved in here a few years ago.” John said sadly, laying a hand on Stiles’ shoulder.

“But,” Stiles stuttered, “But, what? Why? What about mum? That’s all we had left of her.” Stiles said, sounding closely to tears. “No.” Stiles whispered looking like his heart was been torn out, “No. What about her cooking in the kitchen? What about when she sang me to sleep after a nightmare? What about when I’d come home from school and she’d nearly fall down the stairs when I hugged her? That’s all gone. How could you sell that?” Stiles said, tears falling down his cheeks.

“Stiles, your mum is still with us, she’s with me every time I do something I know she’d scold me for, she’s with me every time that I hear a joke that I know will make her laugh too. Every time I look at you I see her. You look just like her. A house doesn’t make those memories, we do.” John said, hugging Stiles tightly.

“I miss her.” Stiles sobbed and Derek felt his heart breaking, Stiles had been a kid and he’d lost his mum, then been snatched from his dad and then been tortured for years. It was going to take him time to readjust.

The next three months seemed to pass by in a blur, the kids absolutely loved Stiles, he’d happily play with them for hours, laughing and joking and pulling stupid pranks that made Derek wonder how anyone could have ever seen Stiles as anything other than amazing. He had such a huge heart and his loyalty knew no bounds. Derek fell a little bit more in love with each day. Sometimes Stiles acted out, doing things he probably shouldn’t have done but doing it just because he could and nobody could tell him otherwise. Derek understood, if he had had to follow orders like Stiles had then obviously, he’d act out just as much. Admittedly it calmed down after one of the pups tried to copy Stiles jumping off the roof and it was only the fact that Stiles caught him in mid-air that he didn’t suffer serious injuries.

Derek had to explain to his mother what had happened and she wasn’t overly pleased. Stiles had jumped off the roof the day before just to see if he could stop himself from falling to his death. Stiles had argued that it would come in handy to know in case of possible future scenarios and if it didn’t work he’d just teleport out of the fall. Derek had growled at him but hadn’t been able to stop him in time. Evidently Stiles could stop himself, thank god, something to do with controlling the air currents. He’d floated down slowly to the ground and received a chorus of cheers from the cubs who all worshipped him. So, when little Mike had climbed onto the roof the next day and shouted for Stiles to catch him before jumping, it was nearly to be expected. Derek had heard Stiles’ heart rate go through the roof, his face pale, and then he was gone, popping into existence next to Mike and catching him a moment before he would have hit the ground.

“Don’t you dare do that again!” Stiles scolded and Mike looked ready to burst into tears. Stiles pulled him tightly into a hug. “You could have been hurt Mike. If I hadn’t gotten to you in time, you could have got really hurt, and it would have been my fault. So please, don’t ever do anything like that again.” Mike had nodded solemnly and Stiles had sent him off to play with the other kids while he tried to calm himself down.

Derek had pulled him into a tight hug and Stiles relaxed instantly against him. Their relationship was complicated. Derek had no intention of ever pushing Stiles to do something that he wasn’t ready for, so he always waited for Stile to initiate anything with them, but Derek couldn’t help the touches of comfort he offered Stiles several times a day. Sometimes a simple squeeze of his hand, or a touch on his shoulder, or pulling him into a tight hug like this one. Occasionally Stiles kissed him, soft and slow and gentle and Derek was so grateful for each one, that Stiles was trusting him enough to do this. Most of the time they just talked, sometimes about important stuff, about how Stiles felt, about the guilt Derek felt every day, they reassured each other that things would be okay. Other times they talked about inconsequential stuff, Derek recommending his favourite books to Stiles who read them happily, losing himself in the stories for hours on end. Sometimes they had silly little arguments over characters in television shows, which song they would listen to for hours on end. Derek loved him. Truly and completely and he couldn’t imagine ever wanting to be with anyone else. He would just wait until Stiles was ready and hopefully felt the same.

A few days later it was Halloween, the pack had organized a bonfire and they all sat chatting happily around the bonfire, laughing at stories various pack members told. Stiles was sat next to Derek, his whole body pressing against Derek’s side. Derek put an arm around his shoulder, pulling him slightly closer and he heard Stiles hum happily.

“So, spooky story time?” Erica shouted happily and the whole pack went quiet. “What story do you want to hear?” Erica asked the pups and suddenly half a dozen hands shot up.

“What about the one with the monster in red?” One of the pups shouted eagerly, Erica grinning and laughing and then launching into the story. Derek grumbled, he hated the story, every year, especially the past few years, they’d sat and told the same ghost story, that there was a pack a couple of hundred miles north of them, that they’d sat around a campfire just like this one, telling a spooky story, and that they’d laughed and joked. Until suddenly Red had stepped into the clearing. Derek suddenly felt his stomach plunge as he remembered the story, remembered what happened at the end of the story. That Red murdered them all, laughing manically while he did it. He had forgotten all about it. It sounded silly but it was so hard to think of Red and Stiles as the same person.

Stiles was laughter and light; he was loyalty and safety and love. Red had been the boogieman in the dark. Erica suddenly stopped talking, as if seeming to remember that Stiles was sat with them and she glanced across at them, the whole pack turning to look at Stiles who was holding himself tensely.

“That’s not how it happened.” Stiles said a moment later, his heart beat steady but Derek could smell the hurt and embarrassment rolling off Stiles in waves. “I’ve got to go.” He said and before Derek could utter so much as a word Stiles was gone.

Erica was looking at him with a horrified expression, as if she couldn’t believe that she’d forgotten about Red. Derek shook his head sadly, showing her that there was nothing to forgive, he had forgotten the connection as well.

“Carry on. We’ll be back later.” Derek said, heading off after Stiles knowing where the younger man would go. He knew Stiles would be feeling guilty about ruining the party, so he hoped that by returning later and seeing that everyone was still having a good time it would make him feel better.

Derek ran all the way to the edge of the cliff. Stiles came up here sometimes when he needed to clear his head and Derek could understand why, the view was breath-taking, looking out over the whole preserve and Beacon Hills. Stiles sat on top of his usual rock, his knees pulled up to his chest, his arms wrapped around his knees and tears rolling silently down his cheeks.

“Hey.” Derek said softly, climbing up the rock and sitting next to Stiles. “Sorry.” Derek whispered, “Erica is really sorry she upset you.”

“She didn’t.” Stiles mumbled as he leaned against Derek and Derek relaxed slightly. If Stiles was leaning against him then it wouldn’t be that bad. “It’s just, I think I’m putting it behind me and then I hear something like that and it’s like I’m right there again.”

“You want to talk about it?” Derek asked quietly. Stile glanced up at him with wide eyes.

“I’m convinced that one day you’re going to hear something about me and you’re finally going to come to your senses and run away.” Stiles confessed.

“Not a chance.” Derek replied seriously, “Stiles, what happened in your past, what you were made to do, that isn’t who you are. You want to know what I see? I see this brave, amazing, loyal man. Someone who is terrified but will run headfirst into danger anyway if it meant protecting those he cares about. You’re sarcastic, you’re smart and you are so fucking stubborn it amazes me. You do the stupidest things sometimes and it drives me crazy. But I wouldn’t have you any other way. I love you Stiles. I love every single thing about you. I love your smile when you argue with Lydia. I love the way your eyes shine when you spend time with your dad. I love that cute little snore you do when your dead to the world.”

“When have you ever heard me snore?” Stiles said, a little half sob half laugh.

“Okay, so maybe it’s not so much as a little snore as like a fucking foghorn.” Derek laughed and Stiles laughed again, “But it’s still cute.” Derek smiled, pressing a kiss to Stiles forehead.

“I love you too, you know that, right?” Stiles asked, Derek nodded numbly, he hadn’t known that. Stiles had never said it before.

“So,” Derek said clearing his throat, “You ready to head back to the party now?”

“Not yet.” Stiles said, touching Derek’s cheek and turning his face towards him. “I just want to kiss you first, please?” Stiles asked and Derek nodded in agreement, his heart beating rapidly in his chest when Stiles kissed him, the touch of his soft lips sending a spiral of desire through Derek. Then, Stiles pressed his lips slightly harder against Derek and opened his mouth licking his tongue against Derek’s lower lip. Derek moaned at the sensation and then suddenly Stiles’ tongue was probing gently into his mouth and Derek pulled him closer, desperate to cling onto his warmth.

Stiles grinned happily as allowed himself to be pulled into Derek’s lap, Derek sucking on his lower lip before Stiles started kissing him again. He could feel the hard press of Stiles against him, could feel the tightness in his jeans and the ache in his groin. Stiles moved slightly against Derek, grinding against him and Derek let out another moan at how amazing it felt.

“Stiles,” He whispered a moment later, sure that if they didn’t stop now he wasn’t going to be able to. Stiles broke the kiss to look at Derek with confused eyes before looking away and heat flooding his cheeks.

“Sorry.” Stiles said, already starting to pull away from Derek, “Sorry. I just, I thought that this is what you wanted. Sorry. I’m just going to go.” Stiles said but Derek gripped his hips tightly, holding him in place.

“Of course I fucking want this.” Derek said, turning Stiles’ cheek back towards him, fixing him with his gaze, “Stiles, I’ve wanted this since the moment I laid eyes on you. The amount of times I’ve had to stop myself from just jumping you and claiming you, god,” Derek sighed heavily, trying to control himself at the thought of Stiles wearing his mark, “But I can’t Stiles. I can’t just do that to you. I need you to want it. I need to know that you want this and that you don’t feel like I’m pushing you or pressuring you or anything like that. I want you to be comfortable and I sure as hell don’t want our first time to be in the middle of the woods.”

Sties blushed again and Derek couldn’t help but smile at the sight, Stiles was beautiful.

“I want this.” Stiles sad, looking at him earnestly, “Derek, I’m crazy about you. You get me. You understand. You don’t judge, you just listen. I feel happy and safe with you. I feel like I’m finally home. I want you. Okay?” Derek surged forward, unable to control himself for a moment, pulling Stiles back into a deep kiss, loving the fact that he pulled a moan from Stiles this time. He pulled Stiles against him again, growled as Stiles moved his hips against Derek’s groin.

“Fine.” Derek growled, “But we are not doing this here.” He said and Stiles pouted. “No. I’m serious. I’m not doing this on a rock. Come on, we’re going home.” Derek said, pulling him towards the house.

“What about everyone else?” Stiles asked.

“They’ll be at the bonfire for a good few hours yet.” Derek said, kissing Stiles again, his heart racing like crazy. “Unless you want to wait?”

“Hell no.” Stiles said, gripping Derek tightly, Derek felt a slight pressure and then he was falling onto the bed in his room.

“That is definitely quicker than running.” Derek grinned, pulling Stiles into another kiss that left them both panting. Stiles pulled Derek’s shirt off and smiled happily, running his hands softly over his skin, it made Derek almost shiver with desire. He ripped Stiles shirt off, literally ripped, Stiles pouted because he liked that shirt. Derek apologized with kisses and Stiles hummed happily. Derek lay him down on the bed, kissing his body, a brush of lips over every single scar, sucking dark marks into his pale skin and getting harder by the second as Stiles writhed with pleasure under him.

“You’ll tell me won’t you? If you want me to stop at any point?” Derek asked seriously as he undid Stiles’ jeans.

“Of course I will. Now, god, please Derek, please.” Stiles begged and Derek grinned as he slid Stiles’ jeans over his narrow hips. He took a moment just to study his body, the pale skin, the lean wiry muscles, the scars, the little trail of hair that ran from his stomach down to his crotch. He lowered himself slightly on the bed and sucked Stiles’ cock slowly into his mouth. Stiles let out a low moan that had Derek’s’ toes curling with desire. “Oh my god!” Stiles panted when Derek licked at his cock and Derek growled contentedly. He liked seeing Stiles so close to losing control, he felt pretty close to losing control himself. “Derek!” Stiles gasped and Derek couldn’t help the small smug smile on his face as Stiles arched up into his mouth. He released him slowly, moving back to kiss Stiles while still stroking at his cock.

“This doesn’t feel fair. You’ve still got clothes on.” Stiles grumbled and Derek huffed out a small laugh before stripping off his jeans and boxers.

“Better?” He asked, arching an eyebrow and Stiles grinned.

“Much better.” He replied. Derek lay back on top of him, their cocks rubbing against each other as Derek kissed him, Stiles’ hips arching up ever so slightly so that Derek felt like he was going to lose his mind.

“God.” Derek shuddered when Stiles wrapped a hand around him, “God, Stiles, don’t.” He whimpered, afraid that he was so close to coming that he would embarrass himself.

“What’s wrong?” Stiles asked, stilling suddenly.

“Nothing.” Derek said, kissing him, “Just, god, I’m really close, and I don’t want to ruin this, and oh my god!” Derek panted when the tip of Stiles’ thumb hit a sensitive spot. “Fuck!” He growled, god, he was so close it wasn’t even funny.

“So, you what? Want to make sure you don’t cum until you’re nice and deep inside me?” Stiles asked innocently while Stiles stroked at his cock and Derek nodded vigorously, barely able to speak he was that close. “Guess that makes sense.” Stiles said, releasing his hold on Derek and smiling at him.

“But, there’s something you need to know.” Derek said seriously and Stiles raised an eyebrow in question, “When wolves have sex with their mate for the first time, something happens.” Derek said awkwardly and Stiles smiled at him smugly.

“I know that, idiot.” Derek gaped at him, Stiles leaned in and kissed him, taking the look of surprise of his face, “You think that Scott didn’t tell me about his first time with Allison after he turned? Man, I would have paid money to see his face at that moment, well, obviously not, because it’s Scott, and God no, I never want to picture that but yeah, to find out that you knot the first time with your mate, his face would have been priceless.”

“And you’re not bothered?” Derek asked, finally finding his voice again.

“Nope.” Stiles grinned, “Don’t tell me this is just your way of making sure we don’t have sex right now?” He teased, Derek growled happily, and Stiles laughed as Derek started kissing him again. Derek opened him up slowly, constantly glancing to check that Stiles was still okay with all this but Stiles just nodded at him in encouragement and Derek couldn’t help but feel smug when Stiles panted desperately underneath him, begging him to fill him up. Derek slid inside Stiles’ tight hole and almost came just from the sensation. Stiles was tight and hot and he felt so god damn amazing.

“Okay?” Derek asked and Stiles nodded, gripping tightly onto Derek, his hard cock pressing tightly to Derek’s’ stomach.

“Oh, god, please Derek.” Stiles begged when Derek moved slightly.

“Please what?” Derek grinned, loving seeing Stiles so desperate for him.

“Please, please move, please fuck me, please cum for me, please mate me and claim me, please.” Stiles begged and Derek kissed him softly and slowly as he started to move inside Stiles. Stiles moaned in pleasure and Derek nearly lost himself right there. Instead he moved a little faster, eliciting gasps from Stiles as he hit a certain spot. Derek changed the angle slightly so that he hit the same spot every time and Stiles was panting heavily under him, gasping with desire, moaning Derek’s name. Derek was so close, he wanted to let go, he wanted to cum, but he wanted Stiles to reach his peak first. He reached down and wrapped his hand around Stiles’ cock and as soon as he brushed it slightly Stiles shouted out with pleasure, his hole tightening around Derek which sent Derek over the edge. Derek bit gently at Stiles’ neck, breaking the skin only slightly, finally claiming him and Stiles cried out again with pleasure.

He lay on top of Stiles, peppering him with kisses as he knotted him.

“I love you.” Stiles whispered.

“I love you too.” Derek replied, unable to tear his eyes away from Stiles and the claiming bite at the junction of his neck. They lay there for a while until Derek’s knot finally started to go down and Stiles grinned.

“Does that mean you’re ready for round two?” He teased and Derek smiled.

“I am if you are.” He replied and moved slightly still inside Stiles. Stiles let out a little moan and Derek smiled, he could spend the rest of his life listening to Stiles moan.

“I think we’re going to have to wait.” Derek said sadly as he heard the door open downstairs. “Packs home.” He said as an explanation.

“It reeks of sex in here!” Isaac shouted and Stiles couldn’t help the laugh that slipped from his mouth.

“Oh my god!” Scott shouted and Derek couldn’t help but laugh too, “Stiles! I swear to god if you overshare I’m going to kill you!”

“What? Like how I know about that mark on Allison’s…” Stiles started, cut off short by Scott’s howl of embarrassment.

Stiles fell back laughing into Derek’s shoulder and Derek hummed happily, Stiles smelt of nothing but love and sex and joy. He never thought he’d get to feel this happy.

“Will you marry me?” He blurted out and Stiles looked at him in surprise.

“I thought that was what the bite was for?”

“Yeah. But I want to get married too. I want to have a huge party and show you off to everyone. I want to claim you in front of everyone. I want them all to see just how much I love you.”

“Okay.” Stiles said grinning widely, “Yeah that sounds perfect to me.”

At sixteen Derek made the worst decision of his life. At twenty-eight he made his best.