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A Dialogue Allows Me to Refute Your Rebuttal

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Previously on Discourses:

A rustle from further in the house interrupted his pleased little musings. Seriously? Could he not catch a break? He tensed, listening hard before opening his eyes and, as quietly as possible, moved toward the living room. Stiles took a moment to centre himself like Deaton had taught him and took note of the not quite hostile tension in the house. Preparing his thoughts for defence, he stepped around the corner.

“Oh shit.”

Seriously, his life.

__________________________________________________________________________

“No. No, nope, nein, nyet, just no! Not tonight. I so cannot deal with anymore bullshit after the day I’ve had. Thank you for dropping by; the door’s that way.”

Stiles was so not going to take any more from the universe today. He’d had a craptastic day, only slightly mitigated by an amazing conclusion, with interspersed periods of sheer terror.

Also known as life as normal for the Beacon Hills pack.

He was officially done.

Chris Argent, apparently branching out into housebreaking (and thereby moving up in the world), smiled that fantastically creepy, fake polite smile.

Stiles’ skin crawled. He’d suffered Peter’s presence, okay, he knew from creepy and Argent definitely took the prize.

“Stiles. Please. Sit down. We need to have a chat.”

Oh hell no.

“Oh hell no. You are not pulling Moriarty offering Holmes tea in Baker Street on me, in my own house, after you broke in. You know, the sheriff happens to live here. I really don’t think he’ll be too impressed when he gets home and finds an uninvited guest. That really may not look good for your police record.”

Stiles was beyond furious. How dare Argent barge in and violate Stiles’ home? This was his safe place, the place that held the memories of his mother, the place he and his father had struggled to make their home. The hunter had no right and Stiles was duly pissed off at the entitled, self-righteous presence in his living room.

Stiles was at that point where he was so tightly controlled that he appeared calm. Any of his pack could have warned Argent that he was treading on extremely thin ice, but Chris appeared oblivious. He was so certain he had the upper hand that he ignored the major warning signs, which, yay, boded well for the werewolves. Arrogance was the villain’s downfall in how many books and movies?

(This is why Stiles pushed so hard for pack movie nights. Who said you couldn’t learn things from pop culture?)

Stiles, fuming, glanced around the room, looking for inspiration to deal with his pesky visitor. His eyes widened slightly as he caught sight of something over Argent’s shoulder.

And apparently, the man had no idea the picture frames on the wall were vibrating in sympathy with Stiles’ wound up emotions.

Shit.

Shit, shit, double shit. He wasn’t even consciously trying to reach his spark. Sure, he’d been ready to, but he hadn’t felt the need once he’d ascertained his intruder’s identity.

Argent was something to deal with mundanely, through double talk and frozen smiles.

And he was definitely someone Stiles didn’t want to know about his magic. To quote a badass blonde, this was so not of the good.

Argent continued smiling, blind to the building tension in the room. If ever Stiles had needed proof that the man in front of him could honestly claim he hadn’t had the slightest clue what his sister and father had been about, he was getting it in spades now.

Nope, not thinking about Kate.

His automatic rage at the manipulative and psychotic murderous bitch wound his magic up even further. There was an audible whining sound as his emotions pushed tendrils of energy around the room. Books slid in and out of place on the shelves and the curtains started blowing in a nonexistent wind.

(Okay. Apparently he was Matilda now. Awesome.)

Stiles was a little disgusted by the fact Chris apparently didn’t notice anything. The man’s wilful ignorance had obviously become ingrained. (Gee, that’s a great trait in a hunter, his brain sneered, rapidly working on ways to exploit that.)

He calculated the best course of action and considered what would happen when Dad, likely accompanied by Peter, got home to find Argent, who probably smelled of wolfsbane and gunpowder. Ugh, why did he always have to be the one in these situations?

“Fine. Say what you need to and then get gone.”

No one said he had to be reasonable about it.

“Now Stiles, you can do better than that. We can have a polite discussion without posturing, surely. We’re hardly animals.” The you just hang out with some was heavily implied and not doing Chris any favours in disposing Stiles to listen to whatever bullshit he had to say with an open mind.

Stiles just crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow. (Ok, he might not have Derek’s impressive brows, but he could pull a bitchface with the best of them. Thank you hours spent watching Supernatural. For research. Naturally.)

Argent sighed like the world had let him down when his felonious actions weren’t met with civility. “I need to discuss a topic of importance to your pack. Recently, we’ve noticed...”

Stiles interjected, holding up a hand, “Let me stop you right there, Chris. Anything pack related, you deal with our alpha.”

Argent raised an eyebrow at ‘our’, but responded, “Actually, protocol dictates that I approach the emissary of the pack. Human to human. I should have realized Hale hadn’t instructed you on politics. Perhaps you should sit in on the lessons I’ve been providing Scott. He was surprised there was so much formality involved in inter-pack and hunter-pack relations. Obviously, Hale doesn’t care for such things.”

Stiles watched with some satisfaction as his fury let his magic loose. Objects were yanked from their positions and crashed to the floor, causing Argent to jump and look around warily.

Stiles only indulged for a moment before breathing deeply and tucking his ire down deep in his psyche. Argent wanted an adult conversation? Fine.

“I’m afraid I can’t help you, Chris. You see...”

He was interrupted, which, rude and rather the opposite of what Argent kept touting as ‘civilized’. “I’m sorry Stiles, but this is the way things are done. I tell you the problem and you relate it to the alpha.”

“No, you’re not understanding me. I can’t help you, because I’m not the Hale emissary.”

Oh, he was going to remember that look of shock and pull it out to treasure on special occasions.

“But...you’re not a wolf. And you’re part of the pack. Scott’s told me how Hale defers to you. And that you’re taking magic lessons from Doctor Deaton. That equals emissary.”

Dammit. Stiles grit his teeth at more evidence of Scott not considering his actions. He needed to learn to keep his big mouth shut. (And yes, Stiles fully appreciated that irony.)

“Be that as it may, I’m not the Hale emissary. Doctor Deaton is, as he has always been.”

This was actually getting fun. Argent was beyond shocked this time. “But, he’s been training Scott and mentoring him, as an emissary. He can’t be emissary to both packs.”

What pack did Scott have? Yes, Stiles’ brain had had its moment of fibrillation earlier when dealing with his abandonment issues, his possessive issues, his Derek issues, his issues which apparently had their own issues, but really, there can be only one did not apply to werewolves.

“Um, pretty sure he’s just being helpful and caring for a wayward pup. See, I don’t know if you’ve caught this, but,” and Stiles let his inner dick show through by making his tone something better suited to kindergarteners, “Scott’s not an alpha. You have to have an alpha or at least another beta to have a pack. Ergo, Scott has no pack. Ergo, Doc’s not his emissary; he’s ours. Ergo, you should be discussing any concerns with him.”

And ‘ergo’ had now lost all meaning to him.

Argent’s deeply confused look warmed something inside. Ha, take that sucker. Try to act the all-knowing adult? Yeah, no.

He lost some of his poise and rose from his seat in agitation, saying, “But Scott was so sure you were able to influence Hale. And I know you’ve been studying magic.”

Okay, creepy much? And could the guy not give it a rest? Also, all the points lost for knowing Stiles had magic and still not catching on to the little bit of temper earlier.

He paced over to Stiles, trying to loom over him to what, make him give up pack business? Yeah, no, he’d been loomed over by far scarier things than Chris Argent. He’d been making out with one less than an hour ago.

(Right, abort that train of thought before dear Christopher got the really, really wrong idea. Ew.)

There was a stalemate for a few moments as Argent tried to intimidate him and Stiles merely looked steadily and coolly back.

Argent broke first and sighed. “Stiles, really, why do you defend them? Hale certainly isn’t the leader his mother was and you don’t owe him any loyalty. Doesn’t Scott deserve you at his side, after all you’ve been through together? I realize he’s been wrapped up with Allison and training lately, but that’s no reason to throw away all your history for the sake of vicious animals and a few magic tricks. And if it’s the company, well, Allison has quite a few lovely friends, with whom I’m sure you’d have more in common than the she-wolf and Miss Martin.”

He had not just...the man surely didn’t mean...Stiles’ brain just shut down in self-defence. There were so many things wrong with that statement, he just couldn’t.

(But he would pay anything, anything, to have had Lydia and Erica hear that crack. There wouldn’t be enough of Argent left to fill a matchbox.)

He decided to just pretend the last minute never happened. And made a mental note to invent brain bleach.

“Yes, I am working with Doc, learning all kinds of things. Including that tradition and political manoeuvring you were harping about. Which you’ve since violated by continuing to stay uninvited in my house after being informed you were in error as to my status. And I was not kidding about what my dad would do if he finds you here.” Stiles was manfully containing his urge to smirk smugly at the reversal of power in the room.

Argent still didn’t take the hint, however, and even rolled his eyes. “Please, Stiles, we both know your father is most likely at the hospital, given the events of the day.”

It was a close call, but Stiles was able to keep the lid on his temper this time. The fucker knew about Dad’s abduction? And still hadn’t offered help? Another pulse of fury tried to escape as Stiles realized Scott, whom he had begged to no avail to assist the search, had probably been the one to tell Argent.

“Actually, no, he’s right here and wondering just what the hell is going on.”

Stiles barely managed to avoid jumping. He should have realized some of the pack was close when he started being able to control his magic. Deaton had warned him that he’d have better control only when pack was nearby, at least until he’d gained more experience.

He looked over at the entrance to the living room to see Dad and, yep, Peter looking decidedly unimpressed.

Chris had the grace to look shamefaced at the unexpected arrival. Stiles was actually looking forward to seeing how he tried to get out of apparently accosting a minor in his own home.

“Sheriff,” he nodded politely, apparently content to ignore the loose cannon glaring murderously in his direction. Stiles noticed the carefully casual once-over the hunter directed at Dad, taking in the battered uniform and exhausted expression.

“Mr. Argent,” Dad said in a tone that Stiles knew from experience brought nothing good. “I’ll ask again, what is going on here?”

Chris smoothly stepped away from Stiles, doing a decent job of appearing non-threatening...if there weren’t two werewolves in the room who happened to be sensitive to the emotions in the air.

“I apologize for meeting with your son without your awareness. I’m sure you’re aware that Scott McCall is dating my daughter, Allison. After the boys had their unfortunate falling out, Scott has been extremely distraught, which is making Allison unhappy. I thought I might be able to plead Scott’s case to Stiles as a more neutral party.”

Stiles snorted. That actually wasn’t a bad bit of BS, in his professional opinion. Apparently, Argent was just going to gloss over the fact that Dad had clearly heard him admit to knowing what went down.

(Not a good move there, Chris buddy. Not everyone shared his obliviousness and Dad would have caught that even before he had über senses.)

“Uh-huh,” was all Dad said. He darted a look first to Peter, then to Stiles. The Stilinskis had a brief silent conversation, the son being more experienced in these matters for once, leading to Dad commenting casually, “Well, I’m sure Scott appreciates your efforts, but the boys will sort things out sooner or later. I wouldn’t be a teenager again for all the money in the world.”

He shifted his weight tiredly, and suddenly changed into Sheriff-mode, “And I’d like to know why it sounds like you know what went down today. The abduction of a law enforcement officer is serious business, especially since these guys are still out there somewhere.”

Argent blinked, apparently not expecting Dad to call him on it after his evasion. Ha, amateur. Stilinskis excelled at diplomacy and wordplay, something that had already saved the pack’s bacon more than once.

Saying that, he’d come upon his cue, to aptly quote the Bard. “Oh my God, Dad! What happened?! Are you alright? I was so worried; we were out looking for you!” Stiles twisted as much of the anxiety of the day as he could into his words.

Dad reacted perfectly, placating him with a quick hug. “I’m okay, kid. Nothing serious, probably just some pranksters. I’m not hurt, son, just a little groggy from whatever they must have dosed me with. Up and vanished about an hour ago and I ran into Mr. Hale here in the woods who helped me back to the road.”

Expression having smoothed over during the Stilinski bonding moment, Argent said, “Sheriff, to answer your question, I had checked in with some contacts earlier this afternoon about the possibility of a black market gun ring getting hold of some of my stock and they shared some rumours about a takedown of local LEOs. I’m sorry there was nothing concrete, or I would have passed that on to the station. I only put two and two together after the call went out on the police scanner, but the rumours were too amorphous to be any help.”

As if butter wouldn’t melt. Stiles felt sick at Argent’s slick smoothness, especially since the outcome of the evening could have been much, much worse and the man had elected not to act.

Dad raised an eyebrow, letting Chris know he wasn’t fully buying it. “I’m sure you would have. Like I said, these guys are still out there and I have no idea what scared them off, so if you hear anything else from these contacts of yours, I’d appreciate the heads up. Oh, and if you could also put out feelers for any new sort of hallucinogen or some type of drug cocktail used for abductions. I’d have labs run on whatever they used on me, but it’ll likely have processed out of my system by now. Forewarned is forearmed, you know?”

Stiles mentally added a (small!) piece of pie to Dad’s forthcoming steak dinner. He registered Argent’s agreement as Stiles’ eyes slid over to a suspiciously quiet Peter and was totally unsurprised to see the elder Hale’s eyes lit with amusement. He was, however, shocked to see a genuine smile in the place of the ubiquitous smirk.

“If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go change. You’ll forgive me if I let Stiles show you out; I’m in for an even longer night, given that reports of Mr. Hale’s demise were apparently exaggerated. It seems that he’s just regained his memory after being kidnapped from the hospital two years ago, and was making his way back to Beacon Hills when he stumbled on me in the Preserve. I really can’t repay his help, but I need to go start the ball rolling on re-establishing his identity.”

Okay, note to self: don’t underestimate Dad. (But maybe stop him from watching so many soap operas. Seriously Dad, amnesia, kidnapping, and being assumed dead? Overkill, much?)

Overall, that was actually a pretty layered explanation that one, gave the indication that Dad had no clue about the supernatural even after the events of the day; two, provided a plausible explanation for what went on since Chris couldn’t be bothered to help; and three, signified that Peter was going to be working with the police for the foreseeable future so his disappearance would be marked.

10 for style and saleability across the board, but a 6 from Russia on trope use.

The three supposedly ‘in the know’ watched as the Sheriff, slightly exaggerating exhaustion to Stiles’ practiced eye, made his way upstairs.

As soon as Dad was out of human earshot, Peter lunged for Argent. Stiles had anticipated the move and stood his ground between them, not allowing Peter room to manoeuvre unless he wanted to bowl over both humans. Stiles was admittedly playing the odds a bit and only extrapolating that the elder Hale would avoid any significant damage to his newly reclaimed long-lost best friend’s one and only child.

Then again, it was Peter, so he braced for impact.

After a beat passed with no werewolf impressions of a Mack truck, Stiles unclenched his muscles and opened his eyes. (Hey, he defied anyone to not shut out the sight of a fully enraged Peter Hale barrelling down at them).

He immediately shut them again as Peter was apparently practically a breath away.

Too close.

That was way too much Peter, way too close.

A shuffle from behind reminded him of their unwanted pest and recalled the fact that now was not a time to back down.

Stiles opened his eyes again, expecting to see Peter smirking at his reaction, but the wolf wasn’t paying him any attention. He was quivering all over from the exertion of holding himself back from attacking Argent, but unwilling to go through Stiles. (Which Stiles greatly appreciated!)

Stiles fought back the urge to gulp, realizing that now was the time to actually stand up and claim his place in the pack. With an audience of an Argent. And with their most erratic beta, to boot. Joy.

“Peter,” Stiles said quietly, yet with evident steel. He fought back the urge to say something like ‘Heel’ or ‘Down boy’. Hey, maybe he did have some sense of self-preservation after all. Or maybe he just finally realized he could be mature when the situation called for it. It was a toss-up, really.

The recently life-challenged wolf didn’t even spare a glance, intent on his target.

“Peter!” Stiles barked. (Great, not even a wolf and he was making dog jokes at himself.)

Peter’s gaze snapped to Stiles, but his tension didn’t abate. If anything, it got worse. “Stiles, he...”

“I know. But not here. Not with Dad in the house.” Stiles knew having reconnected with his friend and then finding his nemesis confronting a pack member and said friend’s child would have set any wolf off, let alone the notoriously territorial and slightly unstable Peter. He hoped that his stress on the word Dad would both call Peter back from the brink by not wanting to aggravate a new wolf with fighting and slide under Argent’s radar as to Dad’s supernatural knowledge.

Peter backed down, deferring to Stiles’ irrefutable logic.

“Oh please, and you’re telling me you’re not the emissary? Look at that reaction!”

Stiles drew himself up to his full (if scrawny) height. “No, I’m not the Hale emissary. But I am Derek’s second. And it’s high time you were leaving.”

It shouldn’t have made a difference.

He knew he had worth to the pack; the wolves had made that clear earlier in the clearing. But saying it, claiming his place at Derek’s right hand somehow tightened his connection to the pack. He felt the pack bonds in a more visceral manner: where before they had been a shadow, a whisper of emotion, now he was nearly bowled over with a unanimous sense of welcome and excitement.

Peter blinked, a big tell for the usually poker-faced wolf, then slowly smiled. Stiles knew the expression probably looked menacing to Argent, but he could tell it was actually a delighted reaction to Stiles taking his place in the pack.

Argent huffed and brushed past Stiles to leave the house in obvious dudgeon. Stiles did note the wide berth he gave Peter, though, and grinned.

He kept grinning, high on the connection to the pack, even as he met Peter face on. The older Hale, obviously telegraphing his movement, clasped Stiles on the shoulder and simply said, “Well done.”

Stiles was torn between being overwhelmed by the honest praise and slightly heartbroken at Peter’s palpable hesitance in reaching out to a pack member. Yes, Peter was really not all there sometimes and he had done horrible, wretched things, but with his new knowledge of the impact of pack bonds, Stiles was rapidly revising his estimation of Peter’s strength to carry on, even more than half-mad, in the face of all but two pack members being ripped from him.

Surprising even himself, Stiles wrapped his arms around Peter for a quick hug. The wolf stiffened, but relaxed so swiftly that Stiles felt his heart tug again. He knew the tactile nature of wolves and that Peter was often excluded, or more honestly held himself aloof for fear of crossing lines, from pack bonding. Stiles made a note to talk to Derek about that at some point.

Pulling back, he grinned at the slightly baffled, yet almost shyly pleased look on Peter’s face. Man, he wished he had a camera.

Hearing Dad come tromping back down the stairs (and really? Stiles was the one that got yelled at for wearing out the carpet? Yeah, how about not), Stiles just said, “Thanks, Peter.” He knew the wolf would get that he meant thanks for both being there to witness his connection to the pack and for following his lead with Argent.

They both turned to watch the newest Beacon Hills werewolf stomp into the living room. Exchanging a look of commiseration (and boy, was Stiles still reeling about the whole Peter and Dad long lost BFF thing), the senior members of the Hale pack followed.

Dad had flung himself into the Lazy boy, actually looking as tired as he had acted in front of Argent. His eyes were closed as he took a few obviously calming breaths. Stiles made to go over to him, but Peter grabbed his arm. Stiles looked up at him, really wanting to go check on Dad, but Peter shook his head. Sullenly bowing to the actual werewolf in matters wolfy, Stiles stayed put, but couldn’t stop his mouth from running.

Peter sighed as Stiles started talking, but c’mon, talking is what he did best!

“Dad, you ok? It’s been a hell of a night, I know I don’t have to tell you, so how’s about you go hit the sack?”

It was a lame attempt at getting out of having that particular discussion, and Dad made his opinion of that clear by rolling his eyes, folding his arms, and exuding a general air of ‘well?’. It really sucked having a trained interrogator as a parent sometimes.

“Ugh, fine! What do you want to know?” Stiles threw himself onto the sofa, already dreading being grounded for the next century after Dad found out just what the pack had been up to in the past two years. He consoled himself briefly with the thought that at least he’d managed to keep Dad out of it for longer than the six months he’d ever managed to hide something from Sheriff-Dad before.

It didn’t help much.

Stiles looked pleadingly at Peter, hoping their bonding moment was enough to override the wolf’s seriously overdeveloped schadenfreude.

Getting a toothy grin back, he guessed it wasn’t.

Ugh. Fine.

“A long time ago, in a preserve not so far away,” Stiles started, smirking at the eye roll and dodging the throw pillow Dad threw at him. If he had to relive the pain and suffering of the last two years, then he was going to do it his way!

The next hour or so wasn’t exactly the most painful of Stiles’ life, but given his life, that wasn’t exactly saying much. Dad had started off playing by kindergarten listening rules, but started serious interrogation at key points.

Like Jackson’s brush with lizard-kind.

Or the prevalence of Argents in bad situations.

He avoided mentioning the giant elephant known as Scott, for which Stiles was extremely grateful. That wound would have to be lanced later. Maybe with alcoholic companionship.

Peter’s Lazarus impression had obviously been discussed between the two men while Derek had been melting Stiles’ brain, so thank God he didn’t have to bring up that can of worms with the smirking ex-corpse leaning against the wall like he was doing it a favour by holding it up.

At least Snarky Wolf managed to keep his commentary to himself.

Mostly.

He obviously couldn’t help himself at some points and honestly, Stiles couldn’t blame him. Some of the things they’d done/attempted/failed had been pretty stupid. Catching up to the events of the day, Stiles sat back, for once actually feeling talked out.

He examined Dad carefully, noting the slight look of shock that full exposure to the hidden side of Beacon Hills brought out.

“Yeah, Dad. I know.” He shuddered in reaction to the memory of his earlier frantic fear and crumpled a bit. “I’m so sorry, Dad. I’m sorry I had to keep this from you and I’m sorry you’ve been thrown in the deep end with no handy flotation device.”

“Hey, son, I’m okay. I’m...not one hundred percent okay with all of this happening under my nose and the number of times you’ve almost been maimed or killed. And I’m definitely not okay with the fact you were dealing with this on your own.”

Dad waved his hand, dismissing Stiles’ automatic interjection. “I know you’ve had the pack, kid, but I should have been able to be here for you too. I’m just feeling a little useless going back over everything I never guessed was going on in your life. But Stiles,” he leaned forward, demanding eye contact, “I’m okay with what happened today. It’s a lot to take in, but given the choice between being a...werewolf and not being able to see you grow up into the brave and loyal man you’re becoming? Not a choice.”

Stiles sniffled a little. They didn’t do heart to hearts like that. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t exactly what he needed to hear right then.

Dad apparently heard his little lapse in control or smelled the burgeoning tears or who knew what with werewolves, because he zipped over and had Stiles in an awesome Dad-hug in a blink. He took a minute to just absorb the general amazingness of a Dad-hug before glancing over to check Peter’s reaction to Stilinski mush.

Surprisingly, he had turned faux-casually away to study the pictures on the wall. Stiles felt a moment of pride at this obvious emotional growth before remembering just which pictures were on that particular wall and vowed to get even when the inevitable blackmail or ribbing began.

Dad sat back on his haunches (aww brain, no, please no dog jokes with Wolfy Dad. Stiles might be brave, but he wasn’t suicidal) and looked at Stiles. Apparently satisfied any imminent tears from the progeny were staved off, he stood up and crossed his arms. His expression smoothed out into his serious business face.

Alarm bells started going off in Stiles’ brain, only augmented by the soft snort from the peanut gallery.

“Now, Stiles. We need to lay some ground rules out.”

This was bad. This was really bad.

“I realize this is your first relationship, and now, I’m no expert on dating a guy...”

Nope. Scratch that. This wasn’t bad. This was Hell.

“Oh, my God, Dad!” he shouted, trying to drown out the continuing torment spewing from his previously cherished father.

That was Dad’s breaking point, as he broke down into gales of laughter, joined in by the soon-to-be-re-murdered Peter.

“Sorry, son, but...your face!” Dad spluttered as he kept laughing.

Ugh. Why was he surrounded by assholes?!

Stiles decided to attempt smothering himself with a convenient pillow.

Far too soon for the lack of oxygen to give him that nice floaty feeling (and the fact that he was intimately familiar with oxygen deprivation was just another sign of his seriously whacked life), the pillow was yanked away from his grasp. He whined and made grabby hands at his new friend being taken away.

“Really though, Stiles, you know the rules about dating someone. I’m not setting down any extra and I’ll just remind you to be careful. That’s all I’m saying about that.”

Dad had his sincere face on and had helpfully shelved the chortles. Peter was still cackling away to himself, but screw him. Stiles had ideas to get him back.

“Not that I’m complaining, really really not complaining or questioning or even poking with a stick, but out of pure curiosity, why are you so cool with this?”

Stiles wasn’t sure why he wasn’t just completely relieved. There was a little part of him that was kind of disappointed Dad apparently wasn’t that bothered by one, Derek the (barely) adult as his son’s significant other; two, a guy as his son’s significant other; and three, Derek the ex-person of interest as his son’s significant other.

“Son, I’ve seen the two of you together, more often than you think I have. You can stand up for yourself and Derek will respect that. I know you’re not going to just roll over for the older, good-looking, once murder suspect.”

Stiles bit his lip, and then he bit his knuckle, just waiting for Dad to realize what precisely he had just said.

Dad squinted at him, then rolled his eyes. “Seriously, Stiles?”

It wasn’t like he could help being a teenager and predisposed to reading sex into everything!

Dad reached out and gently pushed Stiles’ head back. “Okay, kiddo, that’s enough out of you tonight. I’m bushed and I think we could all use a little down time. Go on up and I’ll set Peter up on the couch down here.”

Stiles could definitely get behind that plan. Hugging Dad on the way past, he flipped a still snickering Peter the bird and trudged up the stairs. He barely managed to brush his teeth before faceplanting into bed and passing out.

Chapter Text

Ick. Apparently, he hadn’t moved all night, because the first thing Stiles was aware of when he woke up was a face full of cotton. He rolled himself out of bed, groaning when everything in his body announced it was unhappy with him.

Glancing at the clock, he did a double take when he registered it was almost one in the afternoon. Huh, he guessed those nightmares he’d had pencilled in decided to stand him up. Not that he was complaining!

He shook off the normal lingering darkness, betrayal, and hints of blood in his dreams and got started on his day.

Stiles had a vague impression that he was forgetting something. It kept him company all the way through showering and getting dressed. After stumbling down the stairs to the kitchen, he noticed a note on the fridge.

Reading it quickly, he beat his head on the fridge door as he realized it was actually Friday and he’d missed school. At least Dad had called him in sick, since apparently there was no waking him.

So much for Harris and that pop quiz he had anticipated and/or noted during an impromptu rifling through Harris’ planner. The nice thing about having the Sheriff as his dad, though, was the automatic belief in the office staff when Stiles was called in sick. That meant any and all pop quizzes needed to be either given to him later or taken out of consideration in his grade.

Of course, Harris had a nasty tendency to make a new quiz entirely for Stiles with material three units away in the hopes that he’d fail. Stiles had anticipated that the first time and made his teacher hate him even more for getting most of the answers right. It being almost the end of the year, there was only so much material left uncovered and Stiles totally had that.

Having found himself with an unexpected bounty of leisure time, he dithered momentarily between going over his college acceptance letters and trying to make a choice or having a Marvel marathon.

Yeah, he went with Cap, Iron Man, and friends.

He’d gone through the entirely logical progression of Cap 1, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 1, and was just going to start Thor after making some tasty nibbles when he froze, hoping beyond hope he hadn’t heard what he thought he did.

Stiles had what he swore was a momentary heart attack (and just never mind that such a thing was medically impossible; he actually felt his heart stop with an accompanying flatline ringing in his ears).

Scott was here.

While that was of the bad for a whole host of reasons, the biggest one was that supernatural sniffer already making its nosy way into the house. (And wow, trust Scott to blithely ignore the fact that Stiles hadn’t spoken to him in weeks and just assume he was welcome.)

It was far too late to think about Febreezing the shit out of the house and dumping a bottle of bleach in the kitchen to distract the werewolf from the scent of an unknown wolf all over the damn place. (Not that Stiles’ brain didn’t give a good old college try to come up with a workable plan thereof.)

“Stiles!” He heard the front door slam and a heavy tread head his way.

Stiles braced for Scott to wolf out at the scents that had to be all over the house. He frantically tried to think of any excuse other than Dad; the Argents in no way needed to know about the Sheriff’s recent hirsute issues and sadly, telling Scott was apparently like telling the hunters himself. Unfortunately, his mind, unused to needing to prevaricate to Scott, was blank.

Scott’s head appeared around the corner of the kitchen. He grinned and sauntered in, casual as could be.

Stiles was shocked.

He shouldn’t really have been shocked, he realized distantly, because this was Scott, after all. Wilfully blind was a kind way of putting it. Scott had developed a strong ability to ignore what was actually going on for a kinder, fantasy world during his parents’ brutal divorce. His refusal to accept what he didn’t want to had only gotten stronger with the appearance of the supernatural.

Stiles, on the other hand, was a born and bred realist, who warily accepted that he wouldn’t have to discuss Wolf-Dad, but was on edge as to why his former best friend had decided to make an appearance.

“What are you doing here Scott?”

Scott blinked, apparently expecting a far warmer greeting. “I just wanted to check up on you, man.”

“I told you we were done. That if you really walked away, that was it.” Stiles gestured between them. “You walked. We’re done. So why are you here?”

“Please, Stiles. You didn’t really mean it! You never have before. I gave you some time to cool down, so things should be back to normal, right?”

Stiles blinked in sheer disbelief. Was Scott really that self-centred that he didn’t see anything wrong in what he’d done? And was that his opinion of Stiles, that he would just roll over if given enough time?

Fuck that.

Stiles was livid. Scott, sensing his abrupt rise in emotions, actually took a step back.

“You told me to leave Isaac to die! That the Fae would leave the rest of Beacon Hills alone if they just had one sacrifice and ‘at least it was only a werewolf’! How the hell is that even okay in your mind? And then, then when we actually had a workable plan that would have eliminated anyone getting hurt, could you actually get your act together and help? No!”

He grabbed a quick breath and continued, “You fucked off with Allison, who we also could have used by the fucking way, which meant we were down to three wolves and a human trying to defend against a shitton of really unhappy fairies while Lydia, Peter, and Derek frantically negotiated with their queen. I got stabbed, and poor Isaac, who already had abandonment issues and possibly PTSD, had to face the fact that his friend didn’t care enough to come save him! That he would rather listen the word of a man whose sworn purpose is to exterminate werewolves. Goddamn it, Scott, you seriously think I’m just going to get over that?”

Stiles stopped for a moment, closing his eyes to gather for the final push, the one that would likely sound the death knell for his longest and closest friendship.

Scott continued making the random noises he had during Stiles’ rant. What little filtered into Stiles’ conscious during his attempt at thinking before speaking appeared to be justifications and excuses. Not once did Stiles hear a word of apology or regret.

That really just put the final nail in the coffin.

Stiles opened his eyes and Scott, for once, shut up at the expression on his face.

Very calmly and quietly, Stiles said, “I could have forgiven that, Scott, your abandoning our friends. It’s not like it was the first time, after all. But I can’t forgive your trying to undermine Derek by spreading poison around town and trying to lure the betas away.”

Scott tried his hardest to look innocent and confused, but Stiles knew all of his tells.

“No, really. Did you think I wouldn’t catch on? That l wouldn’t notice Erica and Boyd talking in hushed voices and constantly glancing at Derek? That Derek would be fine at training, but come back a little quieter after getting food? Ten to one you only didn’t get to Jackson because Lydia put the kibosh on any BS you spread. I’m sure she saw right through you.”

And didn’t say anything to Stiles at first in the hopes that the boys could still reconcile. More evidence of the Ice Queen’s carefully hidden heart.

Stiles tensed with fury just thinking about what Scott had knowingly and maliciously done to Derek and his reputation.

He’d just about been ready to go after Scott with wolfsbane bullets when he’d pieced everything together. It had taken longer than was excusable for Stiles and Lydia to figure out that someone or someones had been spreading rumours about Derek around town. Nothing concrete, nothing they could easily trace, but whispers of drugs, gangs, and even paedophilia had suddenly been wrapped around the last legally alive Hale.

Stiles hadn’t quite caught on why Derek would retreat into himself when they went on a supply run until one day when they’d split in the store for faster food acquisition. Stiles had just turned toward the checkout to meet Derek when he’d heard an older woman berating Derek for ‘bringing a lot of trouble into town and dragging children into his disgusting lifestyle’. He thought his heart would break at Derek’s shattered expression while he just stood there and took the abuse. Stiles had gotten so angry that he didn’t clearly remember the next few minutes.

He’d come back to himself to find Derek wrapped around him and a sore throat from all the apparent yelling he’d been doing at the busybody who thought she had the right to chastise his alpha. Stiles had had to hide his face in Derek’s leather-clad shoulder to avoid Derek seeing the tears in his eyes as the wolf had quietly thanked him for standing up for him.

Derek had been so amazed by anyone defending him that Stiles swore to get to the bottom of what had obviously been going on for a while. Rumours about the Hales had always abounded, but they were more of the typical small-town envy of successful and happy people. These seemed to be more specific. And if someone had already confronted Derek in a fit of self-righteousness, they’d been circulating for longer than Stiles liked.

And Derek’s sharp hearing had caught them all.

Lydia had come into the picture after she stumbled onto Stiles eavesdropping on some of the children of the more prominent citizens at lunchtime. Stiles’ wrath had most definitely not cooled and after he had dumped the whole episode and his suspicions on her in a flurry of whispers and vehement gestures, she had dragged him to the hallway. Sitting him down, she had (gently for Lydia) explained that Jackson had been abnormally twitchy about the pack and her involvement for a few weeks. She’d finally confronted him about it and he’d told her everything about Scott dropping a few hints and then even his parents muttering about that vile Hale brat at breakfast. (Okay, so probably not what they had actually said, but Stiles always imagined the Whittemores as living in some kind of Downton Abbey-esque world of wealth and emotionally distant parenting.)

Being Lydia, once the clues were in place, she’d figured out Scott’s, or more likely the Argent’s, game. She just hadn’t figured out a way to counteract the pieces on the board already without irrevocably sundering Scott and Stiles’ friendship.

Stiles hadn’t at that point given up hope for some form of reconciliation, even if nothing would ever quite be the same. He wasn’t ready to lose his oldest friend. Denouncing Scott wouldn’t even do anything to help raise opinions about Derek. It had hurt to be stuck between his best friend and his alpha, knowing one was in the wrong, but being able to do absolutely nothing.

Lydia, being remarkably understanding, had offered to play spy. She’d managed to keep Allison’s friendship separate from supernatural crap, even if she had gotten more wary of the huntress as Allison kept not helping with the continual crises. She had hesitated to condemn Allison, but conceded that if nothing else, Mr. Argent bore keeping tabs on. Maybe something would fall into place with enough warning to protect the pack.

The Fae issue had superseded all of their tentative plans to rehabilitate Derek in the town’s eyes. Allison had proved pretty useless as a source of information. She still absolutely hated Derek, blaming him for her mom’s suicide.

(Yep, there was a lot of honesty going in Scott and Allison’s relationship if he had just let her continue to think Derek had maliciously bitten Victoria Argent instead of saving Scott’s goddamn life.)

Lydia was actually pretty sure that Allison knew way more than she was letting slip about any plans to go against the pack. It was just hard to see past Allison’s natural Disney Princess mode and Scott’s inherent naiveté and their respective friendships. It was so much easier to just assume Chris Argent had gone round the bend in the wake of his father, sister, and wife dying, and somehow Scott and Allison got caught in the crossfire.

Plus, they were all teenagers. Teenagers weren’t supposed to be involved in blood feuds and attempted genocide.

And Scott and Stiles were supposed to be friends forever.

“Scott, leave.”

Stiles was abruptly weary of trying to fight a losing battle. Scott had betrayed him, betrayed his other friends, and betrayed the pack. He would never see anything he had done as wrong. He was always the victim of everyone else’s choices.

Scott was still spluttering at him. “Stiles! C’mon, man, you’re my best friend! Are you going to throw that away just because Derek and company got hurt? Seriously, you’ve been my friend forever. Way before this supernatural shit. Don’t let them come between us!”

Stiles had shut down. His emotions were locked in the smallest box possible in the corner of his brain so he could get through the next few minutes.

“Scott, nobody came between us. This is all on your choices and the fact that I can’t deal with who you’ve turned into. You’re not the Scott who would never abandon me. You’re not the Scott I can count on. You find that Scott again, we’ll talk. But I don’t want to know this Scott.”

Scott’s face cycled through a bunch of painful emotions, all of which caused that box in Stiles’ brain to hurt, too.

He watched, a little distantly, as Scott finally came to the conclusion that Stiles wasn’t choosing him over the pack. Face darkening like a thunderstorm, Scott opened his mouth, but obviously thought better of it and slammed out of the house instead.

Stiles just stood in his kitchen, slightly shaking. He kept replaying the last ten minutes, trying to see anything that he could have said differently to persuade Scott out of his misplaced sense of persecution and self-righteousness.

He slowly came back to his senses, only to be immediately surrounded by support and comfort through the pack bonds.

And he’d apparently grown an Erica-shaped attachment while off on his little mental vacay.

“Ack!” he yelped. (He’d forever deny it was high-pitched.)

Erica just kind of growled at him and hugged him tighter.

Being far from stupid, Stiles hugged her back, petting her hair a bit to get her to purr slightly. (Oh, she’d get him back for that later, but it’d be worth it! Providing, of course, she let him keep all his important bits.)

Calming down from both his grief over Scott and the Erica-induced near heart attack, he rested his head on top of his packmate’s and nodded appreciatively to Boyd and Isaac. The boys were sitting at the kitchen table in an obvious attempt to not crowd him while his mind was occupied. It was amazing how put-together he was feeling just by having pack near.

Although...he glared at the empty plate, where his pizza rolls had been.

Isaac snickered, noticing the look. “Hey, they were getting cold! That’s a sin with pizza rolls, dude!”

So he may have had a point, but still, “You owe me, curly.”

Boyd smirked, but drew attention back to the more pressing issue. “Stiles, man, what happened?”

Erica pulled back and led Stiles over to the table. “Yeah, we all felt some serious rage and sadness and what-have-you through the pack bond right after school. We can all smell Scott, but what happened, Batman?”

He dropped his head, still not to terms with losing his oldest and, for a long time, only friend. A sense of comfort and encouragement crept up on him, with a definite flavour of Lydia’s no-nonsense and Jackson’s sardonic WTF eyebrow. Stiles got a metaphorical pat on the back that could only have come from Peter. And he hoped to God that pulse of pride tangled with affection and a tinge of lust was from Derek. (Okay, he could tell it was, but reading the pack bonds was obviously a skill he had yet to master, having only had full access since, oh, the night before.)

He sat up, the realization that yes, he may have lost Scott, but he wasn’t alone papering over the hole in his heart.

Stiles started to speak, then, in a burst of personal growth, thought better of it. “I totally appreciate you guys coming to the rescue, but I think we should wait for our regularly scheduled pack meeting tomorrow. I only want to go over this once and there’s no sense in changing our habits now. I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

His classic reference was greeted only by eye-rolls. Philistines.

“Whatever, Stilinski. You and the boys are going to go play COD to let you blow a bunch of people up. Then I’m taking on the winner and beating the crap out of you.” Erica flounced her way out of the kitchen, throwing the awestruck males a wicked smirk over her shoulder.

Boyd calmly stood up, saying, “That’s my girl,” and followed his girlfriend to set up the inevitable slaughter.

Stiles and Isaac just looked at each other, a little turned on and a little freaked. Stiles just shrugged it off, used to fear and arousal going hand in hand. He tried to grab the last of the pizza rolls, but Isaac swiped it out from under him.

“Hey!” Stiles squawked. Isaac just grinned at him with a mouth full of delicious mozzarella and sauce, and then swallowed obnoxiously.

Clearing his throat from his pilfered load of pizza goodness, Isaac said, “Consider that your penalty for whatever you did to Derek last night.”

At Stiles’ slightly lost expression, he continued, exasperated, “He was smiling, Stiles! Smiling! And not his normal may-be-a-smile-or-may-be-a-snarl. We’re talking full on beaming! It was freaky and I just know you’re to blame for my serious trauma!”

Taking a second to subdue the gooey feeling that rose up at the thought of Derek being just as happy about their changed relationship as he was, Stiles tried to keep any form of smirk or giddiness off his face.

“Don’t know what you’re talking about, dude. You know Derek; he could have just been really happy about the massive overkill he did on that alpha. I’m sure it had nothing to do with me and the absolutely filthy way we had with each other last night. Nope, nothing to do with the way Derek and I sucked...”

“Ah! Nope, no way, not listening! I can’t hear you!” Isaac covered his ears and ran away to the living room.

Laughing, Stiles followed, saying, “I was going to say face, bro. Wow, you’ve got a dirty mind.”

Erica had perked up at this apparently unknown bit of news and Stiles just knew he was in for a grilling. “Oh, really, Stilinski?” she purred. “Come and tell mama all about our beloved alpha’s oral skills.”

Isaac had thrown himself behind Boyd and was now cowering between the sturdy beta and the back of the couch, chanting, “Lalalalala, I can’t hear anything.”

Boyd just looked completely disinterested, but a small smile graced his face at the antics of his pack.

Stiles knew how he felt.

He’d definitely angst over Scott later, but right then, his awesome pack required some serious schooling in how to blow a virtual head off.

Chapter Text

Saturday morning started late. It was actually more like Saturday afternoon when Stiles managed to pry himself from his very comfy bed and stagger downstairs in search of life-giving caffeine.

Dad was sitting at the kitchen table, apparently having taken the day for once. Given the time, he’d obviously been lying in wait for Stiles.

Being the smart man he was, however, he graciously let Stiles stumble over to the coffee and imbibe a whole cup before attempting anything as complex as conversation.

“’Sup, Daddy-o?”

“I want to train a little today, before the pack meeting.”

Okay, apparently Dad was in full steam ahead mode.

“Um. Okay. We can do that. Do you want me to call Derek or Peter?” Stiles wasn’t sure if he just hadn’t woken up yet, or if he’d missed something. It wasn’t like Dad needed his permission.

“No, I want you to show me the ropes. I know you probably had a lot to do with Scott surviving the first few weeks and I think...” Dad trailed off, looking a little sheepish. “ I think I’ll do better if some instruction comes from you, first, instead of another werewolf.”

Hey, that was the first time Dad had used the W-word without hesitating! If only Scott had been as accepting.

And...that was the sound of something crashing to the floor upstairs as Stiles’ spark reacted to his thinking about Scott.

Whoops.

He winced, and then glanced over to see Dad with a raised eyebrow.

“Stiles? Something you want to tell me, son?”

“Not really. I mean, I will, but later, when everybody can hear. I’m okay-ish, though? I think. I just need to keep busy for the next few hours, so let’s go hit the mats!” Stiles finished, with a rah-rah attitude complete with imaginary pom-poms.

Dad just shook his head and muttered to himself, but got up to follow Stiles outside anyway.

“Right, so basics? Honestly, the speed and shifting are probably critical, but require more space and more privacy than we’ve got here. I think we need to work on your senses first. Sight, hearing, and smell are seriously enhanced, so you need to figure out how to use them without reacting.”

Dad nodded thoughtfully, so Stiles was glad he seemed to be making sense, instead of pulling it out of his ass. (Which he so totally was.)

Taking a major page out of The Sentinel, because TV was an excellent source of ideas when one’s life had become a supernatural/fantasy mashup complete with super senses, the Stilinski men actual seemed to accomplish something. Dad at least had more than a baseline understanding of how his new senses were affected by stimuli and how to hide his reaction to sensing things beyond human range.

Fortunately, it was a lot easier than trying to get anything through Scott’s Allison-obsessed skull.

Although Stiles would have liked to try the lacrosse balls at Dad.

On second thought, maybe not at the guy who had grounding powers.

And bringing up Scott in his thoughts again had the lovely side effect of blowing out the glass in the back door.

Well. That was different.

Dad had sped over to stand between Stiles and the glass, despite the eight or so feet between him and the house. He totally appreciated the gesture, but was definitely not looking forward to the discussion that had to follow.

“All right, Stiles, that’s enough. What’s going on?” He pointed a finger at Stiles, followed with, “Ah, no diversions this time. I let you get away with it this morning, but I think you need to let off some of that pressure before you implode.”

The man might have had a point. Stiles debated with himself for all of ten seconds, then his shoulders slumped as he gave in.

“Okay. Let’s go inside. I’d rather be comfy for this.”

They trudged back inside, taking care to step over the glass. There was absolutely no point in shutting the door, so it was a good thing they were already in late spring.

Stiles sank onto the couch, head cradled in his hands. He heard Dad sit down next to him, but didn’t say anything for a minute.

“Okay, so you may have noticed my recent tendency to knock things over without being near them or having to clean up a lot more broken things than my normal clumsy-yet-awesome Stilesness allows for.”

“Yes, Stiles. I’m the Sheriff. I got there by dint of my keen observational skills.” Dad was one step short of rolling his eyes.

Stiles really wanted to comment on the lack of those skills in detecting the werewolves among them, but decided antagonizing his strangely cool and accepting parent was probably not the brightest move he could have made.

Dad was looking at him like he knew what was going through his mind anyway, so Stiles wisely decided to just move on. (And make sure that disastrous attempt at a telepathy spell really had faded out.)

“So, it turns out, I may be a little bit magic?”

Dad sighed and muttered, “Of course you are.” Stiles totally commiserated, because this was a strange new world the Stilinskis had found themselves in and it took some getting used to. “Okay. And what does a little bit magic mean?”

“It’s not full-on ‘Yer a wizard, Harry’. It’s more like, I’ve got potential in me and sometimes it acts out on its own without my conscious approval because I’m too stressed or freaked or angry. Otherwise, I can use spells to kind of guide what Deaton calls my spark to have a specific impact. Um. Yeah.”

Well, that was certainly coherent.

In his defence, it was extremely difficult to describe the way his spark interacted with the world. He could feel when his will was interacting with and influencing or guiding the world around him, but it was like describing colour to a person blind since birth. There was simply no correlation that would explain it in concrete terms. He was stuck with fantasy-style verbiage, which made him (and Lydia) very unhappy at its impreciseness.

Surprisingly, Dad only nodded his head and said, “Yeah, I can see how terminology would fail you there.”

Stiles thunked his head onto the coffee table. So, there went that inner monologue not staying inner so much again. Like that wasn’t a sure sign Stiles was rapidly approaching overloaded.

“Hey, kid, it’s going to be fine. You seemed to have a good handle on things last night.”

Stiles pried his face off the table just enough to glance incredulously at Dad.

“No, really.” Dad shifted over to wrap an arm around Stiles’ shoulder. “Think about it. You said your powers or whatchamacallit act up when you’re stressed out or scared. I think you were definitely both last night. And nothing happened.”

Huh.

Okay, so the old man had a point. Stiles had been an emotional maelstrom yesterday when trying to find Dad and seeing him on the ground should definitely have been a tipping point. The fact that nothing had blown up or ignited (yeah, sorry about that last time, Boyd) was both incredibly reassuring and awesome.

“I do always have more control when with the pack. They were working super hard on keeping me calm and updated. Plus, I hate to say it, but I’m way too used to that kind of stress. I think it’s become a normal setting on my spark-o-meter.”

Stiles sighed. It was always one step forward, twelve steps back with his magic use. And yes, he did mean to sound like a recovery program.

Dad was shaking his head in that parental guilt way over the path Stiles’ life had taken in the last year or two. His mouth pursed a bit in discontent, but said calmly enough, “I, for one, am glad I didn’t have to spend the night down at the station explaining why half the Preserve was suddenly a crater, so we’re just going to keep moving past your terrifying acceptance of violence and kidnapping and on to what set you off so much between last night and this afternoon to have you hexing the back door.”

Stiles really wanted to just thunk his head back on the table, but manned up and gave Dad the rundown of the Scott encounter, complete with background into their bro breakup. He was so tired of going over the whole thing in his head, but Dad was a great sympathetic listener who had been there for every foundational moment of their friendship. It actually felt almost okay after telling him everything.

Dad didn’t shovel on any platitudes about growing apart as you get older that the pack, well meaning as they were, were fond of. He just gave him a hug, and then packed him off to the kitchen to eat a sandwich or three before the pack meeting.

The conversation was much easier now that everything was out in the open. Stiles really could have cried with how much he’d missed just talking to his father. They didn’t even talk that much about the supernatural shenanigans. The lack of secrets and guilt on both sides made ordinary conversation less fraught and guarded.

They managed to rig a tarp over the blown out porch door with every intention of fixing it the next day. As it was, they barely had enough time to gather what Stiles assured Dad were pack meeting essentials: bags of Doritos, queso dip, Twizzlers, and a couple six packs of various drinks.

“Dad, seriously, you think a couple of teenage boys are bad? You have no idea how much teenage werewolves can eat. Derek would have been broke within a year if we didn’t all pitch in. And even though today is serious business, hypoglycaemic wolves are really unfun.”

He got rolled eyes for that one, but really, Stiles still occasionally had flashbacks to the first few months after their pack had solidified. Nobody had figured out that werewolf metabolism required constant munching, especially when teenagers tended to eat less than nutritious junk. After breaking up several physical fights in one session, Derek had stormed out, returning with pizzas as a bribe and plea for actually getting some training done.

The resulting calm tempers had struck a light bulb and the nearly sheepish alpha had clued the betas in to their increased caloric needs. It had actually explained a lot about the lack of cohesion in the early days.

Bickering genially about what Dad should therefore now be allowed to eat, Stiles pointed the Jeep in the direction of the loft Derek kept for non-training pack nights.

Pulling in to the lot, though, he started having serious second thoughts about the whole venture.

Oh, this was gonna go great.

Introducing Dad to the whole of the Hale pack, in their terrible and wonderful themness, yeah, what could go wrong? The brief confluence of his worlds on the night of Dad’s were-birthday had in no way prepared anybody for this.

He managed to drag himself into the building under Dad’s pointed look. He caressed the wards as they passed through, packing a little more mojo into the net of protection he’d woven. Purposefully using his spark settled his nerves a bit and he picked up the pace, eager to see his pack and his alpha.

The Stilinskis entered the loft to commotion. Fortunately, this was a more normal teenage type of chaos than the more frequent lupine roughhousing. Not to say that Erica didn’t have Jackson in a headlock for some ungodly reason, but Stiles wasn’t asking.

Peter apparated from whatever corner he’d been lurking in and Stiles immediately lost his father’s attention.

That was never going to be unweird.

All thoughts of parental histories disappeared as Derek came into the room, bypassing the stairs entirely.

It was a little strange to be able to openly appreciate the Alpha. Stiles caught himself catching himself staring and reminded his brain he didn’t have to hide anymore.

Derek’s full attention was immediately on Stiles, even as he separated Erica from her victim by dint of tossing her at Boyd.

“Hey,” Stiles said, very lamely trying for nonchalance. He had also stuffed his hands into his hoody pocket to stop them from latching on to any part of Derek.

“Hey,” Derek said back, mocking him, but with obvious affection for once.

Manfully ignoring all the leers from his jackass packmates, Stiles lost the battle with his grabby hands as they darted out to grip Derek’s shirt. He towed the thankfully compliant alpha to the kitchen.

He turned only to be faced with one of Derek’s impressive eyebrow raises. “Yes, Stiles? Can I help you with something?”

The dipshit was smirking at him. Stiles didn’t say a thing, but finally fulfilled one of his long-standing fantasies and crushed his mouth to that smirk. Derek’s arms immediately surrounded him, pulling Stiles flush against all that yummy muscle.

They could happily have stayed in their own little world of caressing lips and wandering hands. They could have, but they were rudely and forcefully separated by a suspiciously Dad-like pair of hands.

If Stiles wasn’t still recovering his breath, he would have snarked about Derek’s severe deer-in-the-headlights expression.

As it was, Dad just looked at them both for a minute, then shook his head, and pointed firmly to the living room.

Slinking back to salacious commentary was only mildly embarrassing on the scale of Stiles’ mortification. Really, he’d had enough exposure to public humiliation over his high school career and having Derek, knowing that Derek actually wanted him?

Yeah, that went a long way toward mitigating any uncomfortable-ness.

Catching Isaac’s wince, Stiles turned just enough to see the tail end of a content little smile on Derek’s face. It was promptly wiped out as the alpha barked out (ha) for his pack to control themselves, coupled with a quick, nearly concerned glance over his shoulder at Dad.

The rowdy pack slowly calmed down, letting Lydia’s sardonic tones carry. “You know, Sheriff, you’re supposed to use a spray bottle on badly behaving pets.”

That set everyone off into a last gasp of hilarity, this time tinged with a bit of desperation. Everybody knew things had gotten serious.

As people regained their composure, Stiles gave everyone a rundown of the Scott situation, making a point to highlight Scott’s shifting body language and expressions for his wolves to parse out.

Everyone was quiet as they digested the fact that Stiles and Scott were definitely no longer StilesandScott.

Or at least that’s what Stiles was ruminating on. He may have been projecting a bit.

The quiet didn’t last long. Everyone had their own interpretation of what the turn of events meant and apparently didn’t care to wait to share it. Even Dad was trying to talk over everyone to make sure Stiles knew he ‘hadn’t done anything wrong’ despite their earlier conversation.

“I, for one, am concerned over the fact that our second was in a highly charged situation with a ‘wolf who has a history of striking out.”

Everybody stopped at Peter’s pronouncement. It obviously hadn’t occurred to them that Scott did have a record of lashing out when upset and that Stiles had been alone with him. Dad looked about two seconds from rushing over, even though he knew Stiles was fine.

Physically, at least, he was fine.

Emotionally was a whole ‘nother ball game.

Peter continued, for once not picking up the increasing tension. “Honestly, it’d be better if Stiles was turned. He wouldn’t have been defenceless against an immature omega.”

Derek visibly froze, muscles locking into place. Stiles’ blood ran cold at the thought of the chain of events that would necessitate that scenario. They had a pact, fought out between them after Stiles had broken his arm and sliced his leg open defending a downed Isaac from vengeful witches.

(Stiles personally thought bitches described them better, as they were way past worrying about the Wiccan Rede and being affected by the Rule of Three and were well on their way to being Furies. Who knew Charmed could be so accurate? And...that was Stiles admitting he watched the most girly of supernatural/paranormal shows. At least it was only his internal monologue. He hoped.)

But the important thing was that Derek had sworn that turning would only occur in life or death situations, like serious-viscera-hanging-out-and-or-severed-artery sort of situations.

Derek’s quiet but forceful, “No,” broke into his reminiscence.

Peter grumbled, “Dearest nephew, you’re not thinking logically. Stiles is already your greatest asset. He’s quick-witted, able to ...”

“I said no,” Derek growled, flashing red eyes at his uncle to underscore the seriousness of his statement.

Last year, heck, even six months ago, that would have happened hourly as Derek tried to throw his weight around on the betas, but Stiles had a moment of quiet boyfriend-y pride that Derek had finally learned being Alpha was more than simply having his commands followed. He’d cut down on what Stiles liked to call the Alpha-assholeness. The pack knew now that he usually had a good reason for the my-will-be-done moments.

Derek, not to mention Dad, was getting agitated and Stiles needed to lighten the moment pronto.

Plus, he had a few points to remind dear Uncle Peter about.

“Uh, guys, I’m feeling the love here, really, but we’re also forgetting the very useful fact of at least a couple humans in the pack to break through mountain ash and handle the wolfsbane. Also, spark? Not so much liking the furry. My magic skillz kinda offset the need for another wolf.”

He smirked as Peter had a visible moment of ‘oh right’. He couldn’t really blame the elder Hale, though, since he’d been leery of doing any magic around the pack until he felt more settled in his abilities. (Ironic in that his spark was most settled when around pack, but then Stiles never claimed to always be rational.)

Deaton hadn’t really helped his comfort level when he’d offhandedly mentioned that Stiles’ power level really should have been trained from a much younger age and it was a miracle he hadn’t already blown himself up.

Thanks, Doc. Really helpful there.

But the gist was he’d only done defensive things around the pack, like warding everybody’s houses and cars. Those weren’t really flashy things that showed off his power.

Actually, there was nothing to show for his warding efforts, except for one of the witches being thrown violently into a parked car when she had tried to go after Erica at home. That had been cool, but Stiles was the only one who had noticed when he felt the ward activate.

He really needed a chance to blow something up.

(Preferably not himself)

Derek had calmed down a bit, so Stiles took the moment and grew serious.

“Plus, the last thing we need is another new wolf right now. Scott being an oblivious idiot about Dad was a fluke. Dad was probably the best option if someone had to be turned right now, because he’s awesome at flying under the radar and doesn’t come into contact with Scott that much. We know the Argents are gearing up for something; Scott trying to be buds again was not just Scott being Scott.”

Stiles had spent the rest of the evening after Isaac, Boyd, and Erica had left in a haze of rage at his former bestie, trying to keep the pain at bay.

How fucking spineless did Scott think Stiles was? He knew full well when Stiles was serious about something, and it’s not like Scott had made much of an effort to keep their friendship going in the past few months anyway...

The lightbulb had gone on at that point.

Scott did know Stiles.

He knew that Stiles was the master of holding grudges. True, it had never applied to Scott before, but Stiles had never actually meant anything as much as when he had told Scott that not helping with the Fae meant they were done.

Scott had known he’d meant it. So coming back now, playing like it was the same as when Scott had broken Stiles’ new skateboard back in seventh grade, that was not Scott being oblivious.

That was Scott acting under somebody’s orders to get back in Stiles’ good graces. Somebody who didn’t know Stiles at all.

Somebody like an Argent?

Maybe.

He had texted Lydia with his epiphany. In a frantic flurry of texts that devolved into a massive research party over Skype, they’d pinned down a tenuous timeline of little things that hadn’t registered at the time as probably being linked.

Like Scott starting to back away from Stiles and Isaac.

Like Mr. Argent taking over ‘training’ Scott.

Like the influx of hostile supernatural forces that both drained and tested the pack’s response.

Like Argent coming to his house and trying to get him to leave the pack and go under the hunter’s training.

Stiles looked around the room at his pack. They were all focused on him and he really hated to be the bearer of even more bad news. Didn’t they all deserve a break? But there was nothing for it.

“Just to recap, we’ve had witches, redcaps, that seriously lost kelpie, Fae, trolls, the freaking Wild Hunt, a succubus, a hag, literally a feral Omega every other week, the...” he shuddered, “zombification of the town from that fuckin’ necromancer, and a gorgon, all in a six month period. Things have been both dire and hectic. Seriously, you’d think we were suddenly getting a dog park we aren’t allowed to even look at!”

Forever cementing her awesome-ness, Erica chimed in, “Welcome to Beacon Hills. And now the weather.”

“Well, most of this town has the say nothing and drink to forget down pat.”

Everyone stopped and just looked at Derek, who blinked at their sudden attention and then scowled. Stiles caught sight of an adorable little flush crawling up the back of his boyfriend’s (oh yeah, his boyfriend!) neck. He gave two thoughts to mocking that rosy glow, but then what just happened actually registered in his conscious.

“Dude! You are so perfect,” he sighed. Hot as hell, a freakin’ alpha werewolf, and now a Welcome to Night Vale aficionado? Score.

Derek’s ears were turning pink as he glared at the pack, daring them to say anything. Notably skipping Dad, who had clapped a hand over his eyes in parental shame, he scanned over to Stiles, his expression softening at the probably extremely sappy look of adoration he was wearing. (What?! Hot and nerdy revved his engine, okay?)

Getting them back on track by virtue of a truly chilling glare, Lydia succinctly laid out what they’d worked out the night before. The pack was truly stunned that they hadn’t worked out the connections that were now blazingly obvious. (Stiles ignored the part of his brain that told him to quote Sherlock.)

Stiles groaned under his breath at how complicated life had become. “Sometimes I miss the days when Scott would just do what I told him,” he mused.

The slightly fraught silence clued him in to how that sounded outside his head. He tacked on, “But that’s usually only commentary from the little sociopath in the back of my mind.”

He picked his head up from where it was resting at the back of the couch at the increase in tension. He was met by incredulous and wary looks from every single pack member. And Dad.

“What? Doesn’t everyone have one of those?”

Apparently not, given the various eyebrows, side-long looks, and obvious decision to just move on.

The next few hours passed with little frivolity. Ideas were batted back and forth about how to counter the probable Argent threat along with in-depth debriefing about the nasties they’d been dealing with lately.

Stiles, when his brain wasn’t devoted to three simultaneous tracks of conversation, noted that Dad was sitting quietly, intently watching the pack by-play. He’d have asked if he was okay, but was always sucked back in to counter a ridiculous proposal by Isaac here and firing back at Jackson’s sarcasm there.

They didn’t manage to come up with anything concrete, not surprising, given their total lack of workable intel. The rehashing of past battles did have a positive effect, though, as everyone pitched in with their remembrances one by one. The con crit that came out could only ever improve their chances of surviving what was coming.

Stiles actually sat back at one point, leaning against Derek’s legs to forestall any alpha input, when Erica was describing how she’d foolishly rushed the succubus who’d put Boyd under her thrall. Jackson was the one to respond, offering his point of view from watching Lydia go down without any reason in the fight with the hag and how he’d let his emotions overrule his common sense and trust in his pack members. That had resulted in nearly losing his right arm and hadn’t done anything to protect Lydia.

“So, if you want,” and Stiles had never heard Jackson sound so tentative, “I think we can create a training scenario where Stiles puts Boyd and Lydia out and you and I have to fight our instincts to get them back.”

He turned a hopeful look to Erica, who looked stunned, then relieved that someone else was having the same problems.

“That’d be really helpful. I knew it was wrong when I was doing it, but I couldn’t stop myself.”

Peter chimed in with surprising encouragement, “That’s not an uncommon response to a mate being threatened. You’re both progressing very well if you can identify the problem this early in your training. Turned werewolves usually have a much harder time separating instinct from rational response, giving the overwhelming hijacking of your emotional responses from the turning process.”

Derek rumbled a little under his breath, pulling attention to him. He grimaced, but threaded his fingers into Stiles’ hair, causing contrasting sensations of chills down his suddenly melting spine. Through his nervous system lighting up, Stiles heard Derek say, “I think that’s just moved to top priority in training.” He tugged on Stiles’ hair lightly, reminding everyone that it wasn’t just Boyd and Erica and Lydia and Jackson who were likely to have to fight against overpowering emotional instincts anymore.

Derek continued, “Actually, everyone is going to be involved in different groupings for this. We’re a lot closer than most non-blood related packs and training to subsume the automatic defence of a pack mate for logical action is something we should have been training for all along.”

Nodding, Peter added, “Especially since preying on those instinctive reactions is SOP for hunters.”

That was a really good point that Stiles’ slowly rebooting brain could appreciate. It wasn’t just the couples of the pack that were hyper-defensive of each other. Isaac, who seemed to somehow always end up bleeding through protecting someone else, definitely could benefit from hypothetical scenarios that involved watching a friend go down. He opened his mouth to set up a more concrete and immediate training time, when Dad jumped in from his quiet corner.

“Derek, I’m in. If you’ll have me, I want to be part of the Hale pack.”

Whoa. Stiles had not seen that one coming.

Or not yet, at least. He’d had a feeling that no matter Dad’s opinion of the pack, he’d want to join just to keep an eye on Stiles’ safety. For him to make a decision this fast...

“Of course, Sheriff, we’d be honoured to have you, but can I ask why you’ve decided so quickly?” Okay, Derek’s deference to Dad was still hilarious.

Dad confirmed Stiles’ thoughts when he said, “I’m supremely impressed with all of you. Just watching you all interact shows me a group of loyal, smart, and courageous men and women. Most of you were thrown into this with very little warning, yet you’ve all stepped up to protect this town and each other. I’m the one that would be honoured to be part of your family.”

Catching movement out of the corner of his eye, Stiles turned to see Peter slightly vibrating in his seat. His expression was so open and hopeful that Stiles had no doubt that if he had a tail currently, it’d be wagging. He shut down the nearly confirmed suspicion that tried to make itself known. Nope, not going there.

Derek shifted minutely enough that Stiles, pressed against him, was probably the only one to notice. He was, however, radiating bashful pleasure at Dad’s praise through the pack bonds. Stiles was struck again with the fact that for a long time now, Derek hadn’t had anybody of authority to approve of him.

Discussion of Dad finding time to literally bond with the pack was interrupted by Lydia’s sharp intake of breath.

Everybody shut up at the sound from their unflappable redhead, who pulled her eyes up from her phone’s display to lock with Derek.

Stiles knew it was coming before she held the phone up to her ear and said, “Allison. What’s up?”

The tension only grew as Lydia’s expression grew pained and she pinched the bridge of her nose as Allison said whatever it was she’d called to say.

Of course, looking around at the wolves and their slightly constipated looks of concentration, Stiles realized he was the only one who had no idea what was being said. Sometimes being human really sucked. Especially when the human in question was pathologically curious.

“Okay, Allison. Thanks for the heads up.”

Lydia slowly brought the phone back to her lap. She opened her still pained eyes to acknowledge Stiles’ fraught expression. “It’s on. She said that we should meet her in the warehouse district after school on Monday, because she just found some papers of her dad’s that outline a major offensive to take us out.”

Manfully biting back the full Admiral Ackbar ‘It’s a trap!’ that sprang to his tongue, he craned his head back around to Derek, wanting, hell, he just wanted to look at his boyfriend right then.

Derek glanced down at him, face full of worry and fear that he wouldn’t let the rest of the pack see. His hand gripped Stiles’ shoulder briefly as if to reassure himself that Stiles was still there.

Boyd was the one who finally said it. “We all know it’s a trap, right?”

Isaac jumped in, visibly relieved to have not been the one to have to state the obvious. “It has to be! Why else would we have to go meet her in the creepy and cliché warehouse district, not today, but two days from now?! You guys are still nominally friends, Lydia, so she could just as easily meet you at your place or for coffee and tell you whatever it is.”

Erica piped up, “And how stupid do they think we are, that Scott feels out Stiles and the next day Allison suddenly has major intel? I’m offended. Is anyone else offended by this?”

Murmurs of agreement swept through the room.

“I agree that the delay, especially, is sounding warning bells. I’ll keep eyes out for people heading into town or suspicious movement down by the warehouses, but this short notice, there might not be anything overt.” Dad smiled grimly. “You’re sure Scott didn’t react at all in the house, Stiles? Because I can monitor successfully if I’m actually being monitored in turn, but it’s going to take extra precautions.”

Stiles was abruptly reminded that Dad came from a long line of military men and that his own grasp of tactics only came from what he’d learned from his father. Not to mention that Dad had met Mom in an intel class in college aimed at future law enforcement and spooks.

Peter answered before Stiles could. “Let’s just operate under the assumption that we’re all being watched. If this has been building for the past half year and they still need a couple more days, the board isn’t set yet.”

Derek had been eerily quiet. “Are we jumping the gun here? Yes, Stiles and Lydia found a pattern that suggests something big in the works, but are we seeing something that isn’t there?”

The alpha looked frustrated. Nobody had a response to that. It was possible, but then again, it was also possible that they were all in a hell of a lot of danger and it could only pay to practice hyper-vigilance.

Derek sighed. “I just thought...Chris and I had come to a truce at the start of the school year. We both knew things would be changing with college coming up and he’d asked me for advice on helping Scott accept himself as a werewolf. He knew it was getting dangerous for Allison to be around an untrained and unhappy omega, so we, and Alan, were discussing ways to bring Scott around. It seemed to being going okay by the time the witches showed up and we’ve just been too busy for me to follow up.”

Okay, so Stiles should probably be really unhappy this was going on behind his back, especially given that he was supposedly the 2IC, but all he could think of was how amazing Derek was to try to work things out with the remnants of the family responsible for his orphaning.

“Der, this is not on you, okay? Chris obviously had a change of heart, given his hostile approach at the house. And Deaton could just as easily have followed up, you know, as your emissary. That’s kind of his job. Yeah, you two have your own issues to work out, but seriously, let’s just put the blame down and focus on trying to survive whatever is coming at us now.”

Stiles wasn’t sure if that was the best pep talk in the world, but having Derek weighted down with guilt was so not going to help the situation.

Jackson’s cry of “Lydia?!” broke into their staring match.

Stiles turned around in time to see Lydia sway in her seat as her nose started bleeding.

Peter was the first to respond, jumping up and speeding into the kitchen, returning almost immediately with a wet rag.

Jackson grabbed the cloth and set about taking care of Lydia, who eventually murmured she was fine.

“That was not fine, Lyds! Was that another headache?” Jackson demanded, visibly worried.

“Yes, it crept up about the time Allison called, but it’s better now.” She was still paler than normal, but her fire was coming back.

“Has this been more than once, Lydia?” Derek asked, going over to squat beside her chair. He swept a hand over her hair and Stiles was astonished to see her lean into the caress. Only the wolves had ever had that reaction to the alpha. Jackson didn’t even react, which was even more surprising.

Jackson was the one who answered, still concerned with his girlfriend. “They’ve been coming for the last few months or so. This is the first time there’s been blood, though.”

“Guys, I’m fine. I went to the doctor last week and got migraine meds. He said it was probably just stress with the end of the year and college choices. Really, we’ve got other things to worry about.”

Derek looked like he wanted to protest, but only said, “Okay, training session tomorrow afternoon in the Preserve.”

Dad chimed in, “Derek, I think you should do a buddy system for the next few days. Just in case.”

Nodding, Derek ordered, “Nobody goes anywhere alone. Sleepovers all around for the next few days and keep all your phones on and charged. Lydia, I want you there tomorrow even if you don’t feel up to it. We’ll breathe easier having you with us than on your own. In fact, I’d like it if everyone managed to stay over here tomorrow night.”

Right, that was a bit of a problem. How about they just light a neon sign that they were onto the Argents? Stiles could have smacked himself when he realized a possible alternative. “We probably shouldn’t change our behaviour patterns too much, especially if we think we’re being watched. I worked up a few notice-me-not spells awhile ago, so if everybody could just stand still, I can take care of that right now.”

Derek’s gratefulness washed through the pack bond, along with the overwhelming tiredness of the whole pack.

Stiles dug around in his bag for the posy he’d made to activate those particular sets of spells. They should, in conjunction, work to make the pack movements unremarkable and for any watchers to only get an impression of daily routine. He’d tried to impart a sense of each pack member that would only activate if that person was being watched. Like Jackson’s watcher would only remember him going to the school to practice lacrosse or Isaac would be reported as going to the library in Derek’s car. It was harder than it sounded to add protective, non-malicious deception to a spell without going into curse territory, but Stiles was pretty darn certain it was going to work.

With his need to protect his pack surging, it only took a moment for his spark to catch his intent and kindle it into a palpable force. As the posy burst into flames, the spells snapped into place. Even with the last minute addition of Dad, Stiles didn’t feel any strain, only the contentedness of his spark at being used well.

“So, those should be good to go. Just everybody keep an eye out and on each other. And for crying out loud, get some sleep before the bonds knock us all out in self-preservation.” Apparently that was a thing that could happen. Stiles really wanted to avoid that.

Calling out farewells and promises of contact, the non-resident pack members headed out. Isaac had apparently collapsed on the couch with no intention of moving further, so that left the Hales and Stilinskis to say their respective goodnights. Peter and Dad had the foresight to move out to the hall, leaving room for Derek to sweep Stiles into a mutually desperate embrace.

“Be careful, okay?” Stiles muttered into the side of Derek’s neck.

The alpha rumbled an agreement, but Stiles pulled back to make eye contact. “I’m serious, Derek. Don’t do anything stupid or self-sacrificing. We’ll deal with this as a pack, just like we have been. Just because it involves Argents does not mean it’s your responsibility.”

He figured he’d been on the right track when a little bit of the tension left Derek’s shoulders.

“Okay, Stiles. I won’t.”

“Good. Now give me something to dream about tonight.”

Stiles smirked at Derek’s groan over his bad line. Mission accomplished.

Derek’s eyes narrowed at the smirk, and before Stiles knew it, he was fully pressed against a very happy to see him alpha, being mauled at the mouth. He gave back as good as he got, or at least tried to given his limited experience. He felt a little awkward, but matched each thrust with his own. Derek didn’t seem to mind, but right before Stiles would have had a very embarrassing ride home with Dad, Isaac woke up with a shout of disgust.

“Gross, guys! It stinks in here!” he groaned, covering his nose and mouth. “This is worse than movie night with Boyd and Erica.”

He grumbled all the way up the stairs to the bedrooms, leaving an uncomfortable, but seriously horny Derek and Stiles to slowly untangle and regain some sense of decorum. Of course, just as Stiles was ready to chuck decorum out the window, Derek froze up.

Just sighing, Stiles leaned in to steal one more kiss. “Whatever Dad just said, ignore it. We will definitely finish this at a later date. I’ll see you tomorrow, Der.”

Derek smiled ruefully, acknowledging that his Sheriff and underage boyfriend issues were still cropping up. He grabbed Stiles as he reached for the door, swinging him up against it instead and sealing their mouths together.

“You be careful, too, Stiles. You’re just as likely to do something stupid because of Scott.”

That...was a fair point and if all of Stiles’ brain cells were functioning, he’d say something. He really had to figure out a way to stop Derek’s Derekness from shutting down his higher brain functions. He prescribed exposure, lots and lots of exposure to treat the problem.

Nodding with a most likely gormless expression on his face, he finally gathered himself to open the door. Heading down the hall in a daze, he registered passing Peter, but fortunately didn’t catch what he mumbled.

Having recovered somewhat by the time he reached the Jeep, he got in without looking at Dad.

“Shut up.”

“I didn’t say anything, kid.”

Chapter Text

Sunday dawned all too soon. Stiles had intended on staying up and researching or experimenting with scrying and more protective spells, but he’d been out as soon as he hit the pillow. (Okay, so he’d been out as soon as he took care of some pressing business brought up by Derek’s goodnight. Close enough.)

There was a Post-It stuck to his forehead, because Dad had just as immature a sense of humour as Stiles. It basically said that he’d headed to the station for the morning and that he’d be back before their training session with a replacement door. His babysitter would be arriving at 9:30.

Stiles glowered at the note, but checked the clock. He had about ten minutes before whoever it was showed up, just enough time to shower and dress.

Sure enough, the doorbell rang in tandem with his text alert going off as he finished towelling off his hair. Sometimes he missed the buzz cut of early high school, even if it made him look twelve.

Exhibiting the same caution he was going to beat into his pack’s heads, he checked the phone first, relieved to see Lydia demanding entry and coffee.

Lydia and Jackson swept in as soon as the door was opened, the latter shoving a bag of, oh score, fresh bagels in his chest.

He followed them in to the kitchen, Lydia already having her nose buried in a cup of coffee. By the smell, Dad had reverted to his crisis mode drinkable mud. That should keep the caffeine addict happy for at least an hour or so.

Stiles politely waited for Lydia’s blood to be replaced by coffee before enquiring just what the heck they were doing at his house.

“Both you and Derek said nobody was to be alone, remember? The Sheriff called this morning and asked if we could take over for him while he was at work. So, here we are, ready to do some prep for training today.”

She stared expectantly at him. In self-defence, because he had no clue what she wanted, he shoved a freshly toasted bagel in his face. He ignored Jackson’s snickering.

While masticating, he contemplated the problem that Dad was alone. He quickly realized that Dad, still not used to magic, was operating on the level of not acting differently, regardless of the notice-me-not spell. Also, if the hunters didn’t know about his change in status, then he was probably safer at the station full of deputies than hanging out at home where Stiles was more of a target. (Not that Dad had probably through that part through, but it made Stiles feel better.)

Lydia was practically tapping her foot, not that she’d ever be that gauche. But Stiles could feel the impatience and expectation rolling off of her.

“Well?” she snapped, toleration of Stiles’ avoidance obviously at an end.

“Uh, what?”

She rolled her eyes. “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe how are you doing with the betrayal of your best friend, are you dealing with your dad as a werewolf, how are you and Derek doing with the changes in your relationship, what thought have you given to magical offense and defence, just little things like that, Stiles!”

Oh that.

“Oh, that.” Okay, he probably deserved the kick in the ankle for that.

He mused for a moment, debating what to actually get into with her. He honestly didn’t mind Jackson being around for such important life details. (Although that fact still caused him some cognitive dissonance.)

He also couldn’t really justify not talking about Scott, since Lydia was going through something similar with Allison. They were a peer group of two in the bff betrayal support group.

“I’m not doing so well,” Stiles said, slowly, trying to pick his words carefully. “I really should have expected this latest bit of ‘act, then don’t think’, but I’m still reeling from the fact that Scott isn’t here, helping me figure out a plan or at least letting me bounce ideas off of. That it’s actually Scott that we’re trying to defend against, even if it is an amorphous sort of threat, is really screwing with my perceptions.”

Lydia put her hand on his arm, encouraging him to continue to somebody who understood.

“I mean, it’s always been me and Scott! Then yeah, okay, it was my big idea to go out into the woods the night Peter bit him, but continuously blaming me and not facing facts that he’s a werewolf is just driving him, well, pretty much driving him crazy. He’s über paranoid about Derek, he’s isolating himself to just Allison and avoiding Isaac and me, he’s letting Argent fill his head with god only knows what...I just don’t know how to reach him.”

Stiles was panting at the end of his rant, but felt a bit better having finally merged all of his random thoughts and problems with Scott into one big diatribe.

Lydia nodded, “Allison and I have pretty much the same problem, although we’ve both agreed that friend-time is separate from pack-hunter time. It had been working okay at the start of the year, but recently...well, recently I haven’t been able to reach her at all, really. Her coming up to me with the whole unsubtle, hey check out this warehouse after dark on Monday thing was the first time she’d voluntarily approached me in months.”

She looked troubled. Stiles totally got that, but he had to ask.

“So, did those headaches of yours start with the stress of Allison not talking to you?”

He forced himself to not recoil from her glare.

“Never mind! Jeez, really, never mind!”

“Fine, moving on. Strategy and preparation! Ever heard of those?”

“Seriously, Lydia, I’ve got some ideas, but we don’t know what we’re walking into. I can only do so much ahead of time. And I can definitely only carry so much. Not to mention, finding a safe, quiet-ish place to cast is not usually feasible in the middle of one of our melees.”

Jackson, surprisingly, was the one to answer. “Dude, you need a couple of minutes to do a working, you just tug on the pack bonds. We’ll cover you.”

Stiles wished he didn’t look so unattractively shocked at that. Jackson did do, apparently, as he sighed like Stiles was a severe trial.

“Stilinski, you’re the backup and last line of defence. If we can’t protect you while you set up to protect us, there’s not a whole lot of us that will be left.”

Damn it, would other people stop having smart points?

Stiles acknowledged Jackson’s point, then practically had to swear on his mother’s grave that he would let the pack protect him if he needed it. It was like they didn’t trust him to do so. Okay, so maybe they just knew him really well.

Moving on, Stiles showed Lydia some of his tried and true defensive workings. He really tried to avoid offensive magic. Those consequences were just not fun and definitely rarely worth the effort. He’d played around with a basic ‘silence your enemies’ spell under Deaton’s careful supervision and had woken up two hours later, having successfully, but temporarily, muted a cockatoo.

Of course, his idea of defence probably stretched the normal definition, but he saw no problem in asking the ground to trip opposing forces while staying smooth for the pack. It all depended on phrasing and intent. If he was working for protection of the pack, he was probably still okay on the white/grey/black magic spectrum. If he went after foes with vengeance or intent to harm, all bets were off.

Lydia didn’t quite see eye to eye with him. They’d had many conversations that sounded exactly like their current argument.

“Stiles! If you can hide the pack from spying eyes, you can certainly confuse the Argents’ intentions and make attacking the pack a moot point!”

“Seriously, Lyds? If I could do that, I could just change Scott’s mind for him and avoid the issue entirely! Not a good thing to slide into freakin’ mind control. How the hell is that acceptable in your book?”

“Preventing an attack is the same as protecting the pack during an attack. It’s still the same intent behind it! Why can’t you see that?”

Stiles vehemently shook his head.

“Uh, because forcing opinions or decisions on someone else is definitely of the bad? Protecting the pack with spells for success, healing, and whatnot is beseeching the elements to help, which doesn’t affect a person’s sense of self. It’s also not a guarantee, just a bit of a boost. If I could make you all invulnerable, I wouldn’t, because that would change who each of you are in the long run. So, no, Lydia, I will not act to influence the Argents out of whatever the heck they have planned.”

Lydia looked slightly taken aback by his fervour, but he was standing strong on this point.

Jackson had very smartly done a fade into the living room as soon as the resident brainiacs got vocal. The sound of old-school Madden filtered in to the sudden quiet in the kitchen.

He knew Lydia was still frustrated and not a little disappointed that magic didn’t quite work right for her. Okay, that was actually an understatement. She was more like livid that she couldn’t master what she saw as another useful skillset. The one time Stiles had taught her how to light a candle, she’d managed to set the table on fire. In her house. When they were out in the Preserve.

Stiles had immediately banned her from doing anything magical and had taken to carting his stuff back and forth. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Lydia, per se, but more that he understood her inability to accept failure at something she thought she should master.

That had led directly to the current problem, however, in that she had an outsider’s point of view in how to deal with magic and where the boundaries were. Stiles had a more organic feel for those limits, knowing how his spark resisted and fluctuated the closer he got to moral fence posts.

Lydia seemed to understand that pressing him on this issue was really not going to help, so she had him run through his standard series of spells again. She may not be able to do magic, but she was a great coach for getting him to practice and for bouncing off ideas. They would just have to stay away from the philosophical questions.

He wanted to save his new set of combat spells for practice. Not that he was feeling underappreciated, but he really wanted to hammer the point home to Peter, not to mention Dad, that he was capable of taking care of himself. Just because he wasn’t going to play with mind control and start on the offensive didn’t mean he wasn’t prepared to defend his pack.

Dad called in, giving him a breather from the harsh pace and distractions Lydia was throwing at him. He’d finally made it through all of his repertoire without faltering the last two run-throughs, so she granted him a break.

“While I’m glad you’re studying, Stiles, for God’s sake, go spend some time outdoors.”

Translation: Go to the Preserve, Stiles. I’ll be right along.

It didn’t take long to pack up Lydia and Jackson, along with his magic kit.

Jackson stalled any continuation of the earlier argument by giving a running diatribe about the lacrosse captain for next year and how he didn’t want to hand the reins over to such a moron.

The rest of the pack was already roughhousing across the clearing where the Hale house had once stood. Derek was, to no one’s surprise, shirtless and directing the tussling with a lifted elbow here and an adjusted stance there. Peter was cooling his heels on the porch of the small cabin that the pack had built together last summer. He raised a glass in welcome; Stiles raised a finger back.

Jackson bounded into the fray with a cheerful howl, bowling Boyd over. He was promptly airborne as Boyd planted his shoulders and launched Jackson off with his legs.

Lydia and Stiles just sighed and shared a long-suffering look as the rest of the werewolves dog piled on Boyd.

Stiles watched with keen appreciation as Derek waded into the writhing pile of betas, tossing each one out.

It was, however, less than impressive that Dad’s first look at the fine training methods of the Hale pack was four betas lazing on the ground while their alpha growled in a futile attempt to get them to focus.

Dad moseyed over to Stiles and Lydia, asking, “So, this is training?”

Poor Derek’s ears flushed a red visible from across the clearing. He snarled a final warning that had Isaac and Erica springing to attention. Boyd and Jackson waited a beat, just to make sure everyone knew it was their own idea to rise.

Stiles’ pack really were a bunch of assholes.

Everyone slowly assembled in a ragged group on the cleared training field. Derek caught each pair of eyes, ensuring he actually had their full attention. “Okay, we’re changing things up today like we discussed. Lydia and Stiles, you’re with Isaac and Boyd. I want you to team up two on two and work on basic sparring. When someone goes down, switch out the teams.”

As the trio (plus Lydia’s tazer) headed off to the other end of the field, Stiles hung back for a moment to observe. Derek had turned to his remaining four betas and was saying, “Sheriff, I’d like you to work with me on some basics for a bit before we throw you in the deep end.”

Stiles knew that one-on-one time with the alpha was also critical for new betas, so he applauded Derek’s neat handling of Dad and his ego.

“Jackson, Erica, and Peter, I want you to watch the others for a few bouts, and try to manage your impulses to intercede. Give it about half an hour, then start sparring yourselves. I want to simulate the stress levels and distractions of a real fight as much as possible.”

Stiles surprisingly had very little trouble concentrating during a fight, even while he kept tabs on everyone else. Deaton said that a spark bound to a pack could be brutal in defence of that pack, but Stiles knew it was mostly his own brain’s peculiarity in handling multiple strands of thought at the same time.

Dad and Derek had rapidly progressed through the basics of werewolf defence and offense, thanks to Dad’s previous training and his and Stiles’ practice session. Derek was obviously grateful to have a student who accepted and internalized his teachings without the bitching his younger betas had given him. They had gone almost all-out in their last bout and Dad had definitely gained an appreciation for the difference in his abilities, as well as the dangers of going up against an alpha.

The two had joined the others, splitting up so Dad was with Stiles’ group and Derek with Erica’s. To Stiles' uncomfortable and complete lack of surprise, Dad’s joining the sparring caused Peter’s attention to slip big time.

Although he’d be sure to point out to Derek how his previous concentration spoke to Peter’s innate trust of Derek to train Dad.

Practicing outside the normal pairings was helping, that much was clear. Jackson was actually able to ignore Lydia’s going down under Boyd with only a wince after nearly two hours of constant sparring. Erica and Isaac, not to mention Dad, were having a harder time letting go of their instincts, but the problem Stiles saw was that they all subconsciously knew nobody was in real danger from another packmate.

It was obviously time for the big guns.

Going down under a surprisingly heavy Isaac, Stiles tapped out, mentioning the need for water. Lydia just grinned at him as she threw herself at Boyd, landing on his back with a practice blade at his throat. (Yeah, Stiles was going to beg, barter, and plead to have the pack go as the Avengers for Halloween this year. Lydia was a kickass Black Widow.)

Stiles casually made his way over to his bag, waving Derek’s attention off him. It had already cost the alpha, as Peter and Erica teamed up to nearly immobilize him the moment he looked away. That had the fortuitous effect of refocusing Derek on his fight, leaving Stiles free to sneak certain ingredients out of his bag.

Focusing his intentions, he murmured a spell over a quickly sketched diagram of his pack’s positions on the field. He felt his spark take hold and power his words, which was awesome, since he was totally winging it here. Satisfied, he turned around and sat back to watch the fireworks.

Selected spots between and around his sparring packmates suddenly erupted with explosive sprays of dirt and rocks. Shouts of alarm were almost swallowed up by continuing ‘bombs’ that followed their scattering. Isaac grabbed Lydia and swung her behind him protectively, obviously sensing the eruption building right where the only human on the field was standing.

Erica was snarling, frantically searching the surroundings for their attackers and refused to move until Peter shoved her out of the way.

With the earth still exploding around them, Stiles watched the pack pull together, strategically placing the more sturdy Boyd, Derek, and Jackson around Lydia and Dad. Peter and Isaac, along with Erica once she pulled it together, were on point, using their greater sensitivity to steer the others around the next mines to go off.

The explosive displays started to die off once the pack had made it to the edge of the practice field Stiles was hovering on. Everyone was on high alert, still trying to figure out who or what was targeting them. Dad was the first to break formation, heading for Stiles in concern. He pulled up short though, at Stiles’ casually crossed arms and growing smirk.

Sensing Dad’s sudden reaction, everyone else shifted their attention to their supremely self-satisfied second and resident magic worker.

“So, how’s that for a training exercise?” Stiles snarked, feeling his evil smirk grow.

Lydia, recovering from the shock faster than anyone else, shrieked her outrage. “Stiles! You ass!”

Pretty much everyone had the same opinion, judging by the cacophony of abuse shouted towards him. He just kept grinning, knowing he’d killed two birds with one stone with his display.

Peter’s slow clapping gradually rose over the few final mutters and threats.

“Bravo, Stiles. You certainly do know how to prove a point,” he said, “but I do wonder if a more concrete demonstration is in order. We’d do better to be fully informed of your capability when making plans.”

Stiles grimaced inwardly, despite having planned on doing exactly that. He still wasn’t fully comfortable with his considerable capability, but Peter did have a point. And, going by Lydia’s expression, she wasn’t going to let him wiggle out of it.

“Okay. But everyone behind me.”

Stiles rooted around in his bag again, pulling out the necessary ingredients by feel thanks to rigorous training. He set the candle in front of him, placing the salt and sulphur next to it. He didn’t really need the props, magically speaking, but the hell he was letting his spark out into the world without some form of limitation. He’d use the bumper lane as long as he could.

Aaaand, it was bad enough that he looked down to see the candle already lit. Oy with the helpful spark, already.

He shook of his vague unease and concentrated. A pinch of salt to the candle flame gave it a nice orange colour, but also caused it to flare. A simultaneous combustion of the stump he and Lydia used for target practice made the pack inhale audibly in shock.

Yeah, letting his inner pyro out was pretty impressive.

Stiles let the salt burn out, turning the flame back to a normal yellow. He carefully pinched a very small amount of sulphur and, taking a deep breath, added it to the candle flame. The resultant blue flame flared taller than the table salt. Stiles could feel it eagerly awaiting his orders.

He pointed carefully at various targets, a clump of grass, an old pop bottle, a cluster of dandelions, and watched as the blue flame flew from the candle to follow his finger.

The stench of brimstone pervaded the deadly silent field as the pack realized his witchflame wasn’t burning out, but consuming its target and continuing to burn.

The silence grew more fraught as Stiles gestured and his three small fires rose from the ground, converging on each other and hovering like a small fallen star. He pulled his arm back like drawing a slingshot, then pushed outward, releasing the burning ball toward the already scorched training target. The fireball gleefully soared outward and obliterated the sturdy wooden structure, pulling inward until nothing was left.

Stiles took a deep, luxurious breath, because, damn that had felt good. He slowly regained awareness of the pack drawing back slightly as he turned around, having been so wrapped in his spark that part of him had travelled with his fireball.

Facing the awestruck and slightly concerned faces of his chosen family, he simply raised an eyebrow.

Nobody said anything for a long moment until Lydia burst out with, “You said offense wasn’t acceptable! That’s why you wouldn’t just prevent the whole Argent situation.”

Okay, that killed his afterglow.

“Lydia. I said mind control was not an option. I didn’t say I wouldn’t cause gross bodily harm in order to keep any of you alive. It’s the same as returning fire in defence of others during a shootout. If it’s intended to preserve a life, I can take a life.”

Stiles was very, very careful to stay certain of his belief in the best defence occasionally being a good offense. He’d argued this one out to himself, basing his opinions on legal precedents for self-defence. None of the pack was unfamiliar with killing; supernatural creatures were surprisingly hard to stop without at least a body or two. He’d be the first to protest the idea that humans were any different from a werewolf or a witch in terms of life. Eliminating a life was the same for any entity.

Now if only hunters could clue in to that one and actually stick to their code. There might be hunters out there who did genuinely only go after murderous supernaturals, but Stiles only had their not-so-friendly neighbourhood Argents as an example.

The pack still looked shaken from Stiles’ obvious firepower, although some of them were nodding thoughtfully. They didn’t have to deal with quite the same moral quandary, since their life-taking was done purely in self-defence against opponents with similar or greater skills. Stiles was the one who had to be careful, given his sheer power level. He could do catastrophic harm, but it would be non-proportional and therefore probably evil.

He’d like to avoid being evil.

“Besides, the actual take home part here was that when threatened with a surprise attack, everybody worked together to protect each other. You were a cohesive pack, facing an outward threat. In other words, you guys, you just did what today’s training session was supposed to do.”

They all looked somewhat shocked by that revelation, but group satisfaction slowly took over. Derek looked, Stiles hated to admit it, slightly constipated as he thought back to how the pack had acted together. His dawning look of fierce pride and relief totally made Stiles' high come back. That was totally the way to end his day.

Of course, Jackson had to ruin it with his thrown out, "Nobody likes a smartass, Stilinski."

Okay, so the good-natured laughter and ribbing made delight ripple through the pack bonds, so maybe Stiles wouldn't put itching powder in his boxers during gym tomorrow.

Maybe.

Chapter Text

Monday morning brought more than the normal Monday blues. It seemed to take forever to sort out a bathroom rotation without anyone getting maimed and get everyone dressed and fed before the teenage pack members fell into assorted vehicles and sped off to school.

At least the rest of the school was used to their group by now. Not a single eyebrow was raised at the king and queen of the school sweeping in the doors with former outsiders. Stiles did a quick brush of the few wards he’d managed to sneak into the school, mostly preventing wolfsbane from crossing the perimeter, but everything seemed okay.

Lydia’s voice pulled him back into the physical plane. “Remember, nobody goes anywhere alone. We’re doing this just like with the Fae and waiting to trade off buddies between each period.”

At the start of the year, Lydia, through some mathematical wizardry, had managed to organize everyone into pairs so no one pack member was ever alone in a class. It had definitely come in handy before, especially when Stiles had added meeting points to insure even passing time was covered by the buddy system.

It had also had the side effect of furthering their pack bonds, forcing them to interact outside their normal preferences.

Like now, when Stiles had to head off to Harris with Jackson.

“How is she, really?”

The lacrosse captain sighed. “She’s Lydia. She hides how much she’s hurting and plays it off as stress, but it’s gotta be more than that.”

Stiles agreed. “Do you remember when it started? Like, the first time you noticed it?”

“I don’t know exactly. It was definitely before the hag, because she went down without being touched and I’m pretty sure that was a migraine. Maybe about the time with the kelpie?” Jackson ran his hand through his hair in exasperation. “I’m pretty sure the first time I noticed it was just the first time it was so bad she couldn’t hide it.”

Yeah, that sounded about right for Lydia.

The kelpie had been in late January, just about four months ago. Chronic migraines shouldn’t escalate that badly in that short of time without something being seriously wrong.

They just exchanged a helpless look, both coming to the same conclusion.

Stiles shrugged it off, knowing there was nothing to be done that day. Hopefully they’d all be alive to deal with it tomorrow.

He said as much to Jackson, and was gratified to see his dark humour actually lightened the load on the werewolf’s shoulders.

Jackson affectionately shoulder-checked Stiles, saying, “Hey, you get to go enjoy one of Harris’ special quizzes. I wouldn’t be so flippant if I were you.”

“Ah, but you are not me, and therefore have not memorized the remainder of the text book, along with the college credit online chem course I’ve been taking this term.”

Jackson just chuckled, used to the unexpected when it came to Stiles.

They settled in class, Jackson setting up in the desk between Stiles and the rest of the class. He’d been a buffer ever since the Fae debacle and Stiles greatly appreciated his low-key ousting of Scott from his habitual seat.

Stiles was right: the make-up quiz sucked. He knew the answers for the most part, of course, but it still made him angry that a teacher was able to pick on a student this way.

Okay, so that was partially his fault for never reporting it, but he’d tried that back in freshman year and that had failed miserably, so he’d never tried again. He could have gotten Dad involved, but by the time it was a pattern, they’d stopped talking so easily.

It was easier to just deal with it in his own way. He’d taken a while to realize that by doing nothing, he was paving the way for other outcast students to suffer the same thing. He’d asked around and had the pack keep their pointy ears out for a hint of Harris doing the same to others, but they hadn’t found anything. Even if it was just a Stiles-specific problem, he’d decided to go the next step and was planning a major geas for the end of the year that would prohibit Harris specifically, but really any bully, from acting within the school.

The rest of the day passed relatively calmly. Scott settled for glaring at him randomly throughout the day, but that wasn’t terribly unusual these days. Catching up with Lydia in AP History, their last class of the day, he learned that Allison had been the same as ever, but had refused to elaborate on whatever she had to ‘tell’ them later.

Following the same route from the morning in reverse, the pack headed back to the Hale loft. Dad was already there by the time the almost-adults stumbled in and he’d come bearing buckets of fried chicken and Chinese take-out.

The subsequent carnage would have done a real pack of wolves proud.

Peter, Stiles was glad to see, had continued to be more relaxed and comfortable than he’d ever been, making it very obvious why Derek had considered him his favourite uncle growing up.

Derek was more touchy-feely than normal, not just with Stiles, but the whole pack. He rubbed over Isaac’s curls on the way to refill drinks and bussed Erica on the head when she leaned over him to acquire the mushu pork from Lydia and got stabbed for her troubles. Stiles apparently wasn’t allowed to leave his lap after he’d been pulled there when passing by with his purloined eggrolls. (Take that Isaac! Teach him to steal Stiles’ pizza rolls!)

Nobody mentioned the rising tension about fast approaching events. Nobody mentioned it, which of course made it all the more noticeable.

The Hale pack, young as it was, was far too accustomed to the possibility of not having any more tomorrows or of losing people. Stiles was seriously impressed with both their maturity in the face of potential devastation and their unique brand of denial.

Well, he supposed it wasn’t really denial, per se, but more a recognition that any one of them could be missing pack meetings come tomorrow. They simply all chose to deal with it by making more happy memories than grim preparations.

(He had to admit, they were a little more Marvel than DC in that respect. Which hurt Stiles’ Batman fanboy soul, just a little bit.)

Derek finally pulled them out of their weird contentment.

“Time to go.”

Stiles felt a fleeting caress of his back, coupled with a quick press of lips against his forehead, before he was suddenly vertical and standing on his own two feet.

He was oddly glad that Derek seemed to share his opinion that last minute I-might-not-make-it groping was slightly déclassé, and definitely had no place in their relationship. He mused on how much trust they had in each other to do what was necessary to survive, even as he (quietly for once) observed his pack mates making their own ritual motions.

Boyd and Erica simply pressed their foreheads together and breathed in each other’s scent. They separated, but only so far as to pull Isaac in to a group hug. Derek’s original Terrible Trio didn’t linger, but shortly separated, Isaac to a quick hug with Derek and Erica to punch Stiles affectionately on the arm as they headed out the door.

Lydia and Jackson were nowhere near as demonstrative, but instead just gave each other a lingering look full of private meaning. Jackson finally reached out to brush his fingers down Lydia’s face before turning to catch up to Derek.

Stiles felt almost voyeuristic at the look on Lydia’s face. It was sheer contentment threaded through with iron determination. It slowly smoothed out to a more normal Lydia expression, especially as she purposefully gathered up Stiles by dint of hooking his arm in hers.

He looked down at his goddess, because Lydia would always be special to him, and made her laugh as he winked roguishly.

She towed him out the door, but he made the critical mistake of looking back for the lingering pack members. He threw his head back around, almost getting whiplash.

Nope.

Fuck nope.

He saw nothing. There was nothing to see back there.

Lydia, snickering at his side, drew his attention, but met his consternation with only a raised brow.

Stiles groaned and, finally reaching the parking lot, gently pushed Lydia toward her boyfriend. He made a beeline for his own, needing a moment to pack everything away where it had to go before a confrontation with the Argents.

Derek just opened an arm, letting Stiles slither up to his side while he finished last minute reminders to his betas. Stiles closed his eyes, focusing on the pack bonds and guiding his will along them to strengthen and aid each end point. He felt Dad, who had been growing ever more present in the bonds even in such a short amount of time, and Peter join them and added their strands to his working.

It wasn’t much, but he poured as much protection and goodwill along the bonds as he could spare without severely weakening his ability to act. Stiles got a weird sense of almost happiness and pleasure from his spark, with an eagerness to act.

That was definitely abnormal, but hey, he’d take it. Magic was like a muscle and maybe he'd been practicing enough lately that he'd built up some tolerance. Werewolves and magic, man, who knew what was next?

By the time he came back to himself, everyone seemed to be on point, but patiently waiting for their resident mage to finish his agenda. He glanced around the solemn group of faces dear to him, noting the others doing the same thing.

Derek lightly squeezed his shoulders. Stiles nodded, easing slightly away to let Derek take the lead.

With a final glance at his pack, Derek turned and headed off into the night. The pack followed, grateful for the early darkness of late spring.

The only positive thing Stiles could say about the location of Derek’s loft was that it was close to the deserted fringe of town. Most supernatural things seemed to go down there or the preserve, so it made strategic sense to have strongholds in those sectors.

Regardless, creeping up on a derelict warehouse with a bunch of werewolves was definitely high on the list of things that made Stiles’ life just plain weird.

At least they’d finally managed to get that whole stealth thing down. He’d be so embarrassed if certain people cough Erica and Isaac cough repeated their early graceless stomping, signalling their approach to anyone with ears.

He’d had to pull the notice-me-not spell, given that bullets tended to not care if there was a body in the way, even if the shooter was aiming at something more tangible. It also freed up some of his reserves for more spontaneous and probably critical works.

Speaking of...

“I don’t feel any anti-magic wards, which is really strange if we’re still assuming a hunter trap.” Stiles would have been concerned, but anything that made tonight easier was okay by him. He’d still keep his eyes out, but hey, lack of foresight on the Argent front was not his fault.

“Great, so Stiles can just do his voodoo thing, and we’ll be set.”

Stiles had just opened his mouth for a lengthy diatribe about how what he did was most certainly not voodoo, or Hoodoo, or even Vodun when a delicate hand slapped over it.

“Not. Now.” Lydia hissed. And to be fair, she had a point. They were in the middle of sneaking into a building where hunters with a grudge had most likely laid a trap for them, with their sole purpose being to circumvent said trap. Probably not the best time for a lecture about the various paths of magic/mysticism/metaphysics in the world. (Of course, Stiles wouldn’t have seen anything wrong with picking up new information at any point in time, but his pack could be single-minded like that.)

Speaking of...he touched up all the personal wards he’d added to certain items of apparel his fashion-forward pack was prone to wear.

It’d be fine.

He was 99, okay 92% certain everything was going to go great.

But just in case, he added a little extra juice, one more time, to the protection spells of his nearest and dearest. And just in time, too.

Things happened fast.

Stiles was peripherally aware of a crapton of hunters charging out of the shadows and his pack springing to meet them.

He, however, was personally a little more concerned with the clawed hands that brutally seized him and forced him through a side door.

“Hey! Get off me!” Stiles shouted as he ramped his will up to fry his attacker at precisely the voltage of Lydia's tazer.

Unfortunately, he froze just long enough when he registered that Scott was the one who had grabbed him. That was just long enough for Scott to come in swinging.

The hit connected.

Stiles had managed to turn just enough that the blow didn’t land on his temple for a TKO, but the force on his jaw made something pop.

Stiles couldn’t get his bearing fast enough to defend himself and could only try to mitigate the blows raining down on him. He wasn’t doing so hot as blood began sheeting down his face after a direct strike to his nose.

“What the hell are you doing, Scott?” He had managed a quick shielding spell that didn’t feel like it had much force to it, so surprising given his lack of focus, but it gave him a brief bit of breathing room.

Scott caught on unfortunately quickly. “None of that magic shit, Stiles! Just let me knock you out okay? You’re going to want to be out for the next bit anyway.”

Well, that wasn’t ominous or anything.

Scott continued, kicking Stiles’ legs out from under him, along with his flimsy personal ward, “Why’d you have to go and learn magic anyway? You didn’t need to be any more of a freak!”

As his best friend since kindergarten swung at him again, Stiles found his random brain kicking in, inappropriately providing a soundtrack in the form of Imagine Dragons’ Monster.

If I told you what I was, Would you turn your back on me? And if I seem dangerous, Would you be scared?

Sadly, the answer was apparently yes.

He was still trying to block the worst of the blows, but that initial hit made his head feel like a hundred pounds. Stiles could picture the incantations he wanted, but couldn’t quite reach for his spark to shut down the beating.

Scott’s continuing invective trickled in past his spinning thoughts.

“God damn it, Stiles, would you just go down?!”

He felt the really random urge to giggle at Scott’s exasperation. Fortunately, his heavy and pained breathing precluded that, since he was willing to bet laughing right now would only aggravate the already irate werewolf currently attempting to make Stiles-paste.

He managed to dodge another crippling blow to his head, buying enough time to discover a handful of mountain ash filling his palm from God knew where and set a wide circle around Scott.

Scott roared with annoyance at being caged, but he was so weakened by his omega status that he couldn’t even get within a foot of the circle, stuck instead in the epicentre of the trap.

Stiles took full advantage of the miraculous breather, bending at the waist to help fill his lungs. He didn’t think any ribs had snapped, but he was willing to risk it for the much-needed oxygen.

Of course, the blood flowing down his face really didn’t help set his nerves to rest.

“Okay, Scott, you’ve got precisely one chance to tell me what the hell you think you’re doing and why before I leave you here to rot and go take out your girlfriend and her insane father.”

Whoops. Stiles was just going to blame the blood loss for that really fucking stupid choice of words when said to an already enraged and trapped werewolf. Scott seemed to go out of his already taxed mind, snapping and snarling.

Stiles frantically threw what will he could into holding the mountain ash, praying he could access enough past the pain to do some good.

He was abruptly fed up with everything. He’d been done with Argent schemes and Scott’s issues even before their cordial invite to this charming scene, but now, he was 1000% done.

“Hey! Down boy!” He snapped, drawing his arm down to imitate the thwack of a newspaper across his snout that Scott definitely felt.

It was enough to stop him in his tracks and apparently knock at least a little sense back into him. Before Scott could go on the offence again, Stiles glared. Scott, finally seeing the results of his handiwork smeared across his ex-best friend’s face, seemed to get a clue that something was rotten in Beacon Hills.

“Oh, God, Stiles! You’re really bleeding, like all over! Why couldn’t you just have come along quietly? This whole thing would be over by now!”

“Come along quietly to what, Scott?! No, seriously, when have you ever known me to follow along blindly?” When Scott looked like he was actually trying to come up with an example, Stiles snapped his fingers in front of his face. “Focus! Now’s the time when you do the monologuing and tell me what the hell ‘this whole thing’ means.”

“It’s a fucking cure, okay!”

That...was not what Stiles thought he was going to say.

Scott continued, reading the obvious but what does that have to do with me on Stiles’ face.

“A couple weeks ago, Mr. Argent finally found this cure for bitten werewolves who want to be human again. It has a bunch of technical parts I didn’t really grasp, but the secret ingredient is blood from a strong magic user. Without that, that’s why so many of those other cures we tried failed. So, you see, it’s perfect, because you’re teaching yourself magic and that’s really not something to play with, so I’m just saving you from yourself. Besides, you so owe me for getting me bitten in the first place. And yeah, it’s going to take a lot of your blood, but this way the magic will drain out of you, too. And we can just get back to normal.”

Stiles really couldn’t help the incredulous and mocking laughter that burst out of him.

“Oh, Scott. You dumbass.” Stiles shook his head at his friend’s continued naiveté. “I was born with the potential for magic, you moron. It was always part of me; I was always going to be different. Nothing about that can change. All you’re going to accomplish is killing me, not ‘saving’ me. You can’t save me from something that is me.”

And this was on Stiles, okay, he could totally accept that. He’d been so wrapped up in thinking Argent wasn’t half the threat his father and sister were, that Stiles was so much cleverer than the adults around him, that he hadn’t anticipated how much information he had actually let slip at that confrontation in his house what seemed like a year ago now. What had he thought about hubris then? Right, those ancient Greeks knew what they were talking about.

Scott frantically shook his head. “No! No, you’re wrong. You’re normal, just like I’m going to be normal, once Mr. Argent finishes the cure. Then everything can go back to the way it was and we’ll never have to deal with this supernatural bullshit again.”

There were so many things wrong with that, that Stiles didn’t know where to start.

“First of all, yes, oblivious one, I have magic because my mom had magic. Her family has always had magic. I just didn’t know about it because she died before she could tell me about it and how to use it. So, no, I was never going to be ‘normal’. Second, this little scuffle happening down the hall? Killing all the pack is not going to do anything, but cement your status as an omega. And then guess who is on the list for the Argents to hunt down? Oh yeah, you. On your own, because we’ll all be dead.”

He had to stop to gasp for breath.

“And third, even if by some miniscule, remote chance there is some sort of cure, how the hell do you think you can just put the past two years behind you?! Especially when you’ll still be Allison’s loyal pet! Hey genius, Argents are up to their bloody, bloody eyebrows in the supernatural. Your blind eye can’t work forever!” Stiles was shrieking by the time he finished his rant. He could feel tears of rage stinging at the corners of his eyes and he was panting heavily.

Scott was still shaking his head, trying to deny the truth of what Stiles had said, but Stiles had known the kid since he was a snot-nosed brat eating crayons. He could recognize the dawning horror in Scott’s eyes.

“No! No, this is all the Hales’ fault! Derek and Peter made this happen. Peter bit me and Derek’s controlling you with promises of magic and pack. He’s lying, Stiles! God, you’re so smart and you can’t see it! He’s just playing you to get what he wants and I’m trying to stop him from ruining any more lives. He’s bad, Stiles, I just don’t know why you can’t see that!”

“No, Scott. This has nothing to do with the Hales or anybody, but you. You keep going on about wanting to be normal, but really, you finally got a taste of power and you liked it. You want to be the one in complete control and a pack with an alpha would be controlling you, right? You’d be forced to do things you don’t agree with because someone else would have power over you, plus you’d have to actually acknowledge that you like being strong, even if the cost is being furry.”

Stiles choked on the blood running down his throat as he laughed mirthlessly. “Newsflash buddy: werewolf or not, you’re even more controlled by Argents than you ever would be in a pack.”

Scott just snarled at him, refusing to give in to the growing idea that he’d been a total idiot for no reason. The guy totally had no clue about what he wanted; he was so inside out with competing wants and desires.

“Scott. Listen. Chris Argent is afraid of magic. Most hunters are. Magic users are human, so they can’t justify killing them in their genocidal agenda. But, because they can’t control them, us, they’re afraid of us.”

Stiles had to pause and put his hand against the wall as a wave of dizziness blurred his vision. Oh, not good. He had to wrap this up fast and hope he was actually getting through to Scott. And that he was actually making sense, given his brain felt like scrambled eggs. And that Allison wouldn’t drop by and undo all his hard work with a bat of her eyelashes.

“Why do you think he suddenly found a cure, that just so happened to involve bleeding out your best friend, just after he found out I had started training in magic? And if a cure like that was a real thing, wouldn’t someone, somewhere have a record of it? Unwanted turnings happen and if all it took was a little, okay a lot, of magic blood, wouldn’t there be a system in place to have that happen? Scott, Argent is lying to you. He’s lying about the cure and he’s lying about my survival.”

God, how was Scott this dumb?

Seriously, was he that mixed up and that under Allison’s spell, that he had disengaged his brain? Stiles could do magic by virtue of his spark, something fundamental inside him. Bleeding someone doesn’t change their DNA or get rid of congenital diseases. (Not that his spark was a disease and he def wouldn’t be saying that analogy to Scott.) They had figured that one out a few centuries ago, for fuck’s sake.

“Scott, shut up and listen, okay?” Stiles wasn’t sure how much longer he’d be able to keep on his feet, let alone contain Scott.

He was pleasantly surprised when Scott actually did shut up. “Look, okay, you and Peter and Derek all got off on the really wrong foot, and I’m not defending Peter, so just shut your trap. He was wrong, but now being part of a pack and actually feeling what healthy pack bonds feel like? He was one thousand percent crazy. Yes, he murdered Laura. Yes, he was pretty evil. But he was legit out of his mind. The Argents, okay, mainly Gerard and Kate, but Victoria, too, all did horrible things out of sheer bigotry and hatred.”

He blinked, watching the room tilt alarmingly for a second. Stiles knew, he felt, that he was finally reaching Scott, so he powered on. “I like Allison, you know I do, but she’s been so brainwashed and conditioned by her family to hate werewolves for the sake of hating, that she can’t even think logically about situations anymore. Scott, you’ve got to see that separating us, trying to undermine Derek with the town and the pack, setting up this plot to get rid of me ‘for your own good’, these are not rational, logical actions. God, Scott, you’re setting up people we know, teenagers our age, to get murdered?! And for what?”

Scott’s natural tan had paled as Stiles had rambled on. He’d barely managed to mumble the last few sentences, but Scott’s expression was so pained, so full of his Scott, that Stiles knew he’d done it.

He felt his hold on consciousness fading and didn’t fight it this time.

He heard the wind rush past his ears as he headed for an impact with the floor, only for unnaturally warm and strong arms to catch him at the last minute.

Then things went black and quiet for a little bit.

“Stiles! Oh, God, Stiles! I’m so sorry. Please, Stiles, stay with me!”

Okay, ow.

The quiet hadn’t lasted long enough.

“Mmph, not s’loud,” Stiles mumbled, swatting at the hand now shaking him rudely.

“Stiles!” Scott apparently hadn’t gotten the memo that loud was bad.

“’m awake, ‘m awake,” he said, shifting to sit upright with an overly-solicitous Scott hindering the process.

Fighting off the vertigo and varied aches and pains, he fixed Scott with an expectant look.

His ex- (or maybe not) best friend looked down, radiating shame, but Stiles was surprised to see him overcome it enough to meet Stiles’ eyes determinedly.

“Stiles, I am so sorry. I’ve been the biggest dumbass. No, seriously, I don’t even know why I went along with some of the stuff Mr. Argent suggested in the past few months. And, God, no, I don’t want anybody to die! Of course not, but I just didn’t think about what anything meant, other than being normal again.”

Scott shook his head, looking pained at how he’d been acting. A very large part of Stiles was viciously glad to see how the light bulb turning on hurt Scott.

He’d try to work on that part later. When he wasn’t in severe pain and his friends and family weren’t fighting for their lives.

Scott, summoning the skill of reading Stiles that came with growing up in each other’s pockets, anticipated Stiles and carefully helped him to his feet.

“I know, I’ve got serious grovelling to do, but let’s go make sure nobody gets killed, okay?”

It was almost cute how take-charge Scott was all of a sudden. Like a ferocious puppy with a shoelace.

Stiles winced, both at his still-bitter thoughts and the agony the thought of moving caused, but gamely directed Scott to the door as he leaned on him for support.

“Oh, buddy, you have no idea what grovelling means. But yes, by all means, heigh-ho, Silver! Away!” he said limping to the door, only to be swept up in a humiliating bridal carry and rushed out into the hallway.

“No, damn it Scott, I didn’t mean it literally!”

With Stiles’ verbal abuse echoing down the hall, they stormed into the large, open room again.

Throwing a brief look at Stiles as he set him down gently by the wall, Scott hurled himself into the fray, bowling over the hunter facing down a wounded Isaac. Stiles barely had time to see the stunned, yet hopeful look on Isaac’s face when Scott helped him up and then stood at his back.

And...that was Stiles' cue to get it together. He pulled at his spark, only to find it rushing through his veins, bubbling up through his bones, ready to act. His own injuries were gone with nary a thought (although he made a mental note to have many thoughts about that scary implication later). He gathered his will and focused on sending strength and energy down the pack bonds.

Judging by the various roars, he may have over done it.

But his power was surging again, just waiting eagerly for a command. He should have been tapped out by either healing himself or donating the equivalent of topping up six health bars. Instead, he was juiced like that one time he’d mainlined like four triple espressos, alternated with Monster drinks. (Yeah, that was a really bad week for everyone involved. Especially Dad).

He formed his will into a coherent thought, shaping a comprehensive set of spells. He blew out the breath he was holding and felt his intent take flight.

Hunters suddenly found their weapons unable to fire, their blades crumpling like foil, their wolfsbane spray (and man, was Stiles morbidly curious as to how that one worked) jamming.

Score for the good guys.

Lydia had somehow sensed his intent and edged around the battle to him after her opponent was down.

“Nice of you boys to join us. Stop to have a good cry with manly backslaps on the way?” she snarked, swiping at the blood running down her chin. Stiles was seriously concerned about the likelihood of another migraine, given the pain pinching the corner of her eyes, but he knew better than to bring it up.

“I’ll have you know it was a very dignified beat down. Scott beat and I went down. But the Stiles Babble strikes again, so yeah. Call it a win.” Stiles shrugged, knowing there were still serious, serious issues to be dealt with, not the least his lack of trust in Scott for a long time to come.

“At your ten, Stiles,” Lydia calmly pointed out as she tasered the hunter who dared to sneak up on her.

To steal a quote, that was one badass chick.

Apparently the hunters hadn’t quite gotten the memo that the battle was won in all but name. They were actually engaging hand to claw with the wolves. Okay, so normally, one to one, Stiles would not recommend a human vs. werewolf grudge match. But the Argent’s little helpers had numbers on their side.

Erica, Boyd, and Jackson had taken the idea from Scott and Isaac and formed a triangle back to back, which helped repel most of their attackers. There was still a serious imbalance in the ratio.

The problem Lydia had pointed out finally made its way to the forefront of his brain. Derek was pinned down by Argent and Argent, Jr. The former wasn’t as big a problem as the latter, given Stiles had somehow not managed to disable her bow.

Derek was also hampered by the knowledge that killing either would bring the wrath of both Scott and every hunter ever on the Hale pack.

Allison and her dad? Not so much with the holding back.

Derek was managing to dodge arrows, but for how long was anyone’s guess. Peter kept trying to come up behind Argent, but the older hunter seemed to have preternatural senses and warded him off with a massive fuck-off sword that also somehow survived Stiles’ weapon attrition spell.

Stiles shot a quick impulse of stay down his bond to Dad, feeling the concern and itch to step in. Even over his desire not to have Dad anywhere near the fighting was the need for the Sheriff to remain above reproach in terms of legality. They could use the laws that so often seemed against them to depower the hunter threat.

Provided of course, that they survived the next few minutes.

Right, time for Stiles’ to get to work. His spark felt like it could vibrate right out of his skin anyway, so why not relieve the pressure with a few magical hijinks?

Trusting Lydia to buy him enough cover, Stiles pulled his supplies out from under his hoodie, pleased with the foresight that allowed his materials to stay attached to him even through Scott’s attack. The way he was feeling overly energized warned him that attempting magic without the limits of ingredients would be a very bad thing.

Speeding through his set up, he glanced up to see not much had changed, although Derek and Peter were now working together to keep Argent One and Two, as the only hunters with weapons, from targeting the betas.

He shunted a warning down the pack bonds, then sent his will out into the universe.

Watching the chaos he had sown filled him with that oddly fulfilling sense of satisfaction magic always gave him. The pack had reacted to his split-second warning and thrown themselves out of harm’s way as the floor rippled, turning to liquid concrete around the hunter lackeys. The shouts of alarm as they realized they were trapped were pleasing harmony to Allison’s shriek and Chris’ curses as the ground under the Argents split apart. Allison was thrown to the side, finally losing her hold on her bow, while Chris was propelled twelve feet in the air as the earth shot up into an isolated plateau. The sword that had remained in his hand was pretty useless from up there.

Walking forward, Stiles freed and propelled the trapped hunters away from his pack with a wave of his hand. (And a whispered word releasing an already set-up spell, but hey, it looked more impressive without the vocals.)

He reached Derek’s side just as a wary Allison got to her feet. She didn’t bother heading for her bow, knowing any of the wolves would beat her there, but took the few steps to face the two of them head on.

“Impressive, Stiles,” she said, sounding just as sincere as she had the first time they went to the range together.

Buoyed by the sudden surge of hope, Stiles had to try one more time to reach out.

“Allison, you’ve got to stop. Seriously, you don’t really want to kill anyone, right? Especially not your best friend, or kids you have classes with.” His voiced cracked embarrassingly as he pleaded with the good-hearted girl Scott had fallen for. “I know it hurts losing your mom, but none of us are responsible for her death. What about your hunter motto? None of the Hale pack has hunted or hurt a human.”

Well, not in their right mind, anyway. He was just praying that Peter was overlooked as part of the pack.

Allison looked thoughtful and Stiles’ hopes at a peaceful resolution rose.

She signalled her hunters to stand down, even as Chris finally made his way down from his time-out spot and back to his daughter’s side. The battle lines were once again clear with the pack on one side, the hunters on another.

All eyes seemed to be on Allison and Stiles as they stood in the relative centre of the warehouse. Everyone was on edge, waiting for Allison to make a decision.

“Aw, Der, he’s just so cute! Just like when you were that age,” Allison cooed into the stillness.

Or, rather, not Allison.

Stiles’ blood chilled as he registered the words and tone at the same time as Derek went absolutely rigid at his side.

Holy, or actually unholy, fuck.

“Kate. I see you’re looking much better than you used to. Not that that’s hard, you ancient, hag-ridden, paedophilic bitch.”

So Stiles had a few teensy repressed issues with psycho-Argent number one.

“And that must mean Daddy’s riding Chris, right? Hey there, Gerard, sucks you have to be a parasite on your own son because a bunch of teenage werewolves owned you so hard.”

Aware of just how critical things had gotten, Stiles managed to keep a straight face even after he picked up on Scott’s gagging as he clued in to just what he’d been sleeping with for who knew how long.

Actually, no, they could probably track the Argent on Argent possession to the start of their Timeline of Bad Things. All that seriously black mojo had to have lit up Beacon Hills like Las Vegas Strip for the supernaturally inclined. And explained the abrupt about-face in Chris’ deal with Derek and Allison’s freezing out of Lydia.

That also neatly solved the mysterious lack of anti-magic wards. Couldn’t put those up without loosening the spirits’ hold on their hosts.

Come to think of it...was it really that easy?

Stiles anticipated the strain as he pulled on the natural elements to lend power to the heaviest spell in his arsenal. Not feeling anything but rushing energy, eager to follow his lead, was definitely concerning, but ultimately not critical at the moment.

He’d played around with the spell he was setting up. It had started as idle research, kind of a what-if worst-case-scenario deal, but the preponderance of magical and supernatural beings connected to the powers of nature had readjusted his priorities.

So, yeah, he’d pretty much always had Plans A-D, sometimes going so far as H, when dealing with the supernatural.

This one...more like Plan Z.

As in, game-over. Once he had started looking into it, he’d found some serious snags.

Did werewolves count as magical creatures, even if they couldn’t use magic? Yes indeed and he hoped that none of the pack ever figured out what had caused that miserable week of what they’d termed wolf flu.

Could he impact other magical beings without hurting the pack? Check.

Could he impact other magical beings, without hurting the pack, and without either spontaneously combusting, blowing up half the town along with himself, or just keeling over stone dead? Not so much.

Tuning back in to the regularly scheduled shitshow known as Beacon Hills, Stiles was supremely unsurprised to hear the typical Evil ArgentTM ranting about the unnaturalness of werewolves and how they were a plague upon the earth or words to that effect.

Privately, he was hoping at least one of them would choke on the blatant hypocrisy and do them all a favour, but that was probably too much to wish for, given Argent self-awareness.

On the plus side, some of the backup dancers Dead and Deader had brought to the party were stealthily making their way to points elsewhere. That was that lovely anti-magic prejudice he’d mentioned to Scott raising its head again. (And justified in this case: possession was no short walk in the dark magic park.)

Speaking of their newly regained pup, Scott finally started shouting, breaking up a yawn-worthy discourse on human superiority by Gerard: Take Two.

“Get the fuck out of my girlfriend!”

Kate continued her reign as creepiest psychoslut by giving Scott a sultry glance that looked really freaky on Allison. “But Scott, don’t you want another taste of this? This is the best of both worlds. You get Allison’s sweet, young body, and all my experience. All we need to do is get that cure and you can have it all.”

Not a male in the place could stop from gagging a bit at that particular image. Good ol’ Gerard looked mighty pissed off, too, which, did he honestly not know how much of a whore his daughter was? How did she spin the Hale fire if she didn’t mention her penchant for underage boys?

Okay, not the time or place, Stiles. Seriously.

“Uh, that whole cure thing’s already given up the ghost, just like you did. Not even Scott is that blind. Sorry, bro.” Stiles kind of shrugged at Scott, who gave a ‘yeah, okay, fair’ look back.

Just like he’d been hoping, that sent Kate off on another rant about how the Argents and their holy mission would never be kept down. Yeah, he was paraphrasing in his head, but to be honest, he wasn’t even paying a quarter of attention.

Something else had pinged his metaphysical radar. He was definitely sensing a disturbance in the Force, something beyond the general taint of ickyness he could now feel pouring off Chris and Allison’s bodies.

And boy, was he going to kick himself for not catching that one. Missing Allison not being Allison was marginally acceptable, since he didn’t really hang out around her sans Scott. Not realizing even something was off when ‘Chris’ confronted him at the house? Not at all okay. Hindsight being wonderful, it was obvious even just from Gerard’s speech patterns.

Stretching out his mystical fingers, those tendrils of influence he used to interact with the natural world, Stiles had to force himself not to recoil as he ran into a tar-like miasma of pure evil influence emanating through the warehouse unseen on the mundane level.

Okay, that was an object lesson on why you really shouldn’t play with mind control and magic.

In his obviously less-expert-than-he-thought opinion, that teeming morass of ichor was intended to impact his pack. There was a fading strand of the same crap attached to Scott, which, okay, Stiles might have to give him a sliver of a break, because maybe all his actions weren’t his own. (He was still a dumbass for being in position to get whammied in the first place.)

That certainly explained why Kate and Gerard were being just so accommodating in continuing to blather away. They were obviously stalling to let whatever nasty surprise they had cooked up take root. He didn’t care how or what it was meant to do. That shit was getting nowhere near the brains and souls of his family!

Nope, he spent the next interminable moments reaching deep, deep down to gather up enough will to try his certifiably insane, yet almost terrifyingly simple idea to just stop this whole shebang in its tracks.

It wasn’t often that Stiles got to be the sole hero. Normally, he felt like he either ended up needing rescue or just stood around as supernatural brawn took out the threat he’d identified. The past few days, however, had done wonders to bolster his self-esteem and place in the pack. He pulled on that to banish the last tiny bit of doubt about his plan.

So, he definitely wasn’t trying to go out in a blaze of glory. Nope, he definitely had more than enough to live for, and it was the thought of those precious lives that he finally pushed that final big red button in his head (hey, his magic, his visualizations) and let his spark loose. He was committed and knew it was their only hope; he was just enough of a realist to understand the risks.

But, apparently not enough of a realist to fully grasp that those bonds he’d been able to shunt energy down before went both ways.

Derek had been shooting increasingly concerned glances his way for the majority of the Argent ranting, which Stiles’ subconscious had noted in his distraction. When Stiles had stopped dithering and finally lit the fuse, Derek’s head had whipped around so he could stare, horrified at Stiles.

Whoops. He’d better survive now, because Derek would never forgive him. The whole point of secrecy in developing this plan had been to not worry anyone or give them time to try to talk him out of it. Somehow, Derek sensing his intent in the moment was even worse. Stiles did the only thing he could do at that moment. He sent a pulse of love and determination through the bonds, with no hint of apology. He just had time to give Derek a sincere smile before he was swept away in the inferno of his magic letting loose.

The distant spark of energy that used to be Stiles noted vaguely that deciding to use his/its/their very personal magic to fuel an anti-magic ward over the whole of Beacon Hills was not unlike finding him/its/their-self in the middle of a supernova. It also may not have been the brightest move he/it/they had ever made.

The flicker of energy formerly known as Stiles (okay, that one sounded dimly familiar) also noted with something distantly related to satisfaction, if blurs of physical and mental energy had emotions, two streaks of sulphurous energy being ripped into the swirling vortex that all the natural and supernatural magic within the place he/it/they were hovering over had become. There was a displacement of air that, if energy had ears, would probably equate to furious and terrified screaming as the tainted streaks of energy blurred faster and faster, before disappearing from any earthly plane.

The barely cohesive strands of energy gradually became aware that he/it/they were being pulled away from a perch a comfortable distance away from the omnipresent vortex of contained magics. That swirling, writhing, living chaos of mystical energy, a blend of white, black, and all shades of grey, was exerting a constant, certain pull on the last bits of free magic. Of course, this being the life/existence/state of incorporeality of that particular shade of energy, once he/it/they drifted closer to the familiar and unfamiliar magics, he/it/they became increasingly and uncomfortably certain that those imprisoned mystical forces recognized their jailor. Needless to say, he/it/they were highly aware that what little independent cognizance remained (soul? neurons? ghostly imprint on the world?) would cease to be once those other forces had their way.

The seductive magnetism of those other magics had a hypnotising effect, ensuring all metaphysical entities joined in. In a lulled stupor from beckoning forces that whispered of acceptance and sameness, he/it/they almost didn’t notice the opposing pull. It started softly, like a distantly heard melody that caught in a subconscious. Did he/it/they have a subconscious? (Oh, probably not a critical point right then.)

The earworm grew exponentially in strength, becoming stronger and stronger until it managed to overwhelm the pull toward the maelstrom of magic.

Flying back toward the physical, Stiles (at least he thought he was Stiles at some point in his existence, or at least this permutation of existence) was awash in warm feelings of care and recognition that drowned out the last of the siren call of other magics.

The Hale Pack was calling its second and its second had to answer.

Chapter Text

Slamming back into his body after who knew how long floating above Beacon Hills as a ball of mystical energy was not an experience Stiles would recommend.

“Oww!” was his first groaned vocalization. But hey! Vocal chords! Those were pretty neat and Stiles vowed to never again underestimate being able to talk. Or think. Or move, or kiss Derek, apparently, as he suddenly gained a suspiciously alpha-shaped growth.

“Mmmph!” Stiles moaned into Derek’s mouth in appreciation, before repeating himself in protest as Derek pulled back.

Shaking Stiles by the shoulders, Derek issued an ultimatum, red eyes blazing, “Never do that again!”

Stiles was increasingly concerned by the minute shudders he felt wracking Derek’s frame. Obviously, his little jaunt into incorporeality and attempting to cancel out all magics in the general vicinity of Beacon Hills, because nobody ever had accused the Argents of being underprepared, had thrown his pack and his poor boyfriend into an awful state.

He obviously took too long to answer for Derek’s taste, as the distressed alpha shook him again. “Stiles! Never, ever take yourself away like that again!”

“Okay! I get it!” He wasn’t exactly sorry, as his magical senses were still hyper-extended and he could feel the abrupt absence of the sulphur and brimstone that had signified Kate and Gerard, once he knew to look for them. The mind-control or whatever spell that had been targeting his pack had also dissipated.

Which reminded him...

With a whispered word of thanks, he pulled on the dregs of his satiated and slumbering spark to dismiss the anti-magic ward he’d thrown up around his town. An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure, to mangle an aphorism. Those iron spikes he'd spent a weekend driving into critical spots at the boundaries of the town had come in very handy in this case.

And okay, yeah, he was definitely going to be officially freaked at just how much magic there was floating around his fucking town. The gleeful and appreciative force that released with his spell did not sit well in his mind, especially when he hadn't ever felt that much in the town environs before. And doubly especially since he had the eerie sense that he and his abilities had been marked for watching.

He settled himself by letting Derek wrap him back up in a firm, if still slightly shaking grasp.

He felt the pack bonds all reverberate with echoes of Derek’s terror. Stiles knew he’d have to account for his actions, but seriously, there really hadn’t been another choice when faced with that nameless creeping horror the Argents had unleashed toward the Hale pack. He felt his own shudder rip through his frame in just remembrance of the cold and dark touch of that clammy evil.

“Ugh...” came a groan from over on Stiles’ left.

And on cue was the nagging feeling he’d overlooked something major.

“Allison!” cried Scott and Lydia, simultaneously.

Yep. There was that other thing.

Stiles let Derek help him up. He probably leaned into that firmly muscled torso slightly more than necessary, but really, nobody could blame him. He’d been a shapeless blur of energy there for awhile, after all.

(No, Stiles wasn’t going to milk that for all it was worth. Not at all. At least, not until he managed to find a way to explain what he’d done in a way that didn’t sound completely self-sacrificing or suicidal.)

Focusing his slightly blurry eyes (hey! Eyes were also something he wasn’t going to take for granted any time soon), he saw Allison sitting upright against Scott, rubbing her head. Lydia had a death grip on her other hand, looking terribly pale and still bloody, but shining with a fierce protective light.

Chris Argent, on the other hand, was obviously awake, but didn’t seem to have any inclination to move from his supine position any time soon. Stiles really couldn’t blame him. He didn’t even want to contemplate having Gerard Argent, father or no, taking up residence in one’s mind, body, and soul.

Stiles was really beginning to hate that whole hindsight thing, because really, how obvious was possession when placed against all their facts? He was actually almost ashamed that none of them had even broached the topic, given how horror movie cliché every other aspect of their lives seemed to be.

Whelp, live and learn, was going to be Stiles’ new philosophy.

After a very, very, very long nap.

He pushed down the urge to wince as Dad’s pack bond twanged with impatience, a wordless demand for answers, and a stubborn refusal to be put off, not to mention echoes of terror that had Stiles wondering just what the hell that anti-magic ward of his had done.

Okay, so that nap might need to be slightly postponed.

Looking around at his tightly milling pack, most of them staying within touching distance of their second, he definitely got the sense that something more than he remembered had happened and had totally freaked out his creature-of-the-night family.

Derek, apparently assuring himself that Stiles was planning on staying a corporeal, if gangly, Stiles, pulled back just enough for Stiles to get that that was not a great idea as he almost instantly lost structural integrity in his knees.

Being grabbed or supported by half a dozen hands instantly, Stiles was immersed in the worry, dissipating fear, triumph, and fading adrenaline that was consuming his pack.

Pushing down the vertigo with more than a bit of struggle, Stiles mused on the very, very not fun consequences of his sudden Spock-like sensitivity to his pack’s emotional state when being touched. He hoped to God it was only a result of his severe over-extension of his abilities.

Fortunately, that whole bond thing still went both ways, as Derek jerked his head to get the betas to back off. Which they did. All of two steps. But at least there wasn’t any more touching of the Stiles.

With his emotional centre equalizing back to Stiles-normal, Stiles felt more himself. Not enough to try standing on his own again, but Derek, the awesome and amazing boyfriend and alpha that he was, circumvented the next attempt by pulling Stiles bodily into his arms and stalking out of the warehouse.

“Uh, Derek? Shouldn’t we, like, see how the Argents are recovering? “ Stiles didn’t really want to stay and check on the bodies that had until recently been trying to either kill or enslave them (or something worse that Stiles didn’t want to contemplate), but it made good political sense.

Derek obviously didn’t agree, given the low, unhappy rumble issuing from his still shifted chest. His clawed hands clutched reflexively at Stiles, making it pretty clear that Argent welfare was low on his priority list.

Stiles’ brain and mouth had obviously recovered from their previous ordeal or at least decided to make up for lost time. “Dude, if for nothing else than them owing us hugely now, it makes sense to take care of them. And keep an eye on them.”

Hearing a snort, he peered over Derek’s massive shoulder (not the time, Stiles!) at Peter.

Derek actually stopped a moment, then turned slightly to catch Peter’s eye.

Peter, in turn, rolled his own eyes, but did an about-face and, gathering up Jackson, headed back in to the warehouse to ensure Chris and Allison at least made it home okay.

Not really sure that Peter was the wisest of all choices, Stiles managed to keep his mouth shut. Finding himself overcome with a wave of exhaustion, he snuggled down into Derek’s warm embrace and faded out.

Tomorrow was soon enough to face the music and work on establishing some sort of supernatural structure to Beacon Hills, hotspot for supernatural magics. Not to mention those lingering questions Stiles’ tired brain was still trying to puzzle out as he slid into a healing sleep.