Chapter 1: The Spice Must Flow
Adrian Harris pulled up outside the Hale Loft. It felt like he’d been summoned before the throne. It galled him to no end that he was forced to obey a child Alpha. He locked his car because despite the apparent wealth the Hales had, Derek lived in a place that was a step above condemned as far as he was concerned. The ride up to the loft was slow and set his nerves further on edge.
Harris scowled as Peter Hale opened the loft door and ushered him in. The first thing that caught his eyes was that there were boxes everywhere. He didn’t listen to much town gossip, but everyone knew that the Hales were rebuilding their family home, but in a far more ornate style that their old house had been.
Standing in the middle of the room was Alpha Derek Hale and how he wanted to punch the smug bastard in his face. He looked like a sculpture even in his bare feet, tight jeans, and white t-shirt. Harris decided to seize the momentum. “Why am I here?”
Peter chuckled behind him. “That is exactly what we’d like to know?”
“What?” Harris barked. “You ordered me to come here.”
Nodding, Peter agreed. “Yes, to find out why you are here. A demon in exile just happens to be in Beacon Hills? Unlikely. Therefore we want to know why you are here.”
Derek moved slightly but remained silent. He let the air build in tension, but only continued to stare at the demon in teacher’s clothing.
“Consider it a form of torture. Like an addict being just out of reach of his fix. The power that only a few can sense is overwhelming and I can do nothing to touch it!” Harris sighed and scowled. “Why am I here?”
“You left for the summer; we sort of knew where you were, but not what you were up to.” Peter circled behind the science teacher. “So the question comes back to; what are you doing here?”
Harris sat still and swallowed, but was unable to answer. Sweat trickled down the back of his neck.
“Let me tell you a story,” Peter started. “Everything that has happened to our family can be attributed to you in many ways. You showed Kate Argent how to burn down the family home. You empowered my nurse to pull my wolf out first and control me. Thanks to that it was you who had Laura summoned from New York. You used me to kill her to control an alpha. It was you who pulled me back from the grave.”
Derek now hovered closely to the demon. Harris could sense him close behind him.
Peter moved to look the demon in the eye. “Now that that your culpability is laid bare before the unassembled court; why are you here?”
Extending a single claw from his right index finger, Derek put it on Harris’ left shoulder. He applied a hint of pressure. Speaking for the first time, Derek growled, “Answer the question.”
Stiles rolled his eyes as Danny pushed the vest into Stiles’ chest. “Why are you showing me vests?” Derek was the one who gave the pack the day off and told them to go Back-to-School shopping. They all started off together but now it was small clumps of pack-mates roaming the mall in search of various clothing items. Or in Stiles’ case a conspiracy from his friends to remove plaid from his wardrobe.
“Because you need to improve your wardrobe, Stilinski!” Jackson barked. “You’re dating the second hottest guy in Beacon Hills! The least you could do is try to improve your image for him.”
Lydia stepped in and handed Stiles four different shirts. “What Jackson is trying to say, in his own loving way, is you need a makeover.”
“So this is three gay guys and their…”
“If you say the ‘h’ word I swear, Stiles, Derek will never be able to find your balls again they will be lodged so far inside you.” Lydia glared at him as she said that.
Stiles raised his hands in surrender. “I was going to say best girl friend. Rude! I like my look!”
Danny rolled his eyes. “You are not a golfer, so much plaid is wrong!” he handed Stiles another t-shirt. “And if you start looking at those Hawaiian print shirts we are disowning you!”
“Ugh, I would not be caught dead in one of those shirts!”
Jackson leaned close to Stiles and nodded at one of the shirts Danny handed to Stiles. “And for the record, I’m not gay just open-minded.”
“Seriously, open-minded is what you’re going with,” Danny quipped. “You forget I was there when you discovered the joys of boy on boy sex!”
Lydia stepped between them. “We are not discussing Jackson’s discovery about his favorite erogenous zone in the middle of Macy’s! That’s a far better meltdown for American Eagle or Abercrombie.”
“I thought I was supposed to get a makeover not that this was sorting out relationships 101,” groused Stiles.
Jackson and Danny smirked at Stiles. Jackson grabbed Stiles’ arm and pulled him towards the jeans area. “Yes, you are and you have a great ass. It’s time you highlighted it. No more layers!”
Danny thrust a pair at Stiles. “Go try those on. And no complaining that you can’t move in them.”
“I hate you all!”
Lydia waved him off. “I’ll text Cora and Allison. We are going to meet up with Erica and get pedicures. All you guys can go bond at the arcade or something.” She smiled again at Stiles. “Or Danny and Jackson can continue your makeover tour. Or they can go fuck like they want to but can’t admit to anymore.”
Danny and Jackson stared at her for a long moment and went back to looking for clothes that Stiles might wear and that weren’t plaid.
Lydia pulled up to the loft as Harris was leaving. Danny noticed the small spot of blood on the teacher’s shoulder, but he wasn’t going to offer him any help.
“Why was he here?” Jackson asked as he carried some of the bags to the loft.
Stiles stood watching as the teacher drove away. The air around him charged with magic and the others noticed the clenched hands at Stiles’ side sparked a bit.
“Calm down,” Lydia said quietly as she rushed to his side. “I’m sure he was here for a reason.”
“Peter and Derek summoned him. They had a conversation that I’m sure our neutered demon didn’t appreciate.” Venom dripped from Stiles’ words. “We need to know what he was doing over the summer. I should have ordered him to stay here.”
Scott and Isaac pulled up and bounded out of the car. Stiles rolled his eyes but returned Scott’s affectionate hug. “Danny texted us that you were going to put on a fashion show for us.”
Stiles whirled around and glared at Danny. Danny shrugged and pointed at Lydia. “Why?”
Lydia smiled and patted Stiles on the back. “I told you I owed you for the whole angelic mark debacle. Consider this the down payment.”
“You’re evil. How am I friends with you?” Stiles huffed.
Scott laughed and gave Stiles another hug. “Dude, you used to love her! Oh, all the words about how great she smelled and her pretty hair and how smart she is.”
Jackson, Danny, and Isaac started laughing and joined in harassing Stiles about his epic love for all things Lydia. She rolled her eyes and gave Stiles a peck on the cheek. “And followed me around like a puppy. At least you don’t do that with Derek.”
Stiles grumped, “No, he was the creeper who creeped. Seriously, why am I friends with any of you?” He stalked off to the loft.
“I swear these jeans are so tight my nuts are numb!” Stiles yelled down the stairs. “I will fall down these stairs if I try to walk in these jeans!”
Lydia arched an eyebrow and frowned. “I will send Erica up there to carry you down. Now get down here!”
Stiles used the hand railing to keep from falling down the spiral staircase since his jeans barely bent at the knees. The jeans were dark; he was wearing one of his ironic t-shirts and had a vest over it. His longer hair was styled gelled and forward. He managed to land on the floor without falling, but his balance was precarious.
“I am not going up and down the stairs in these jeans.”
Ethan laughed and moved closer. “Turn around, let’s see the goods.”
Peter rolled his eyes and patted Derek on the back. “It could be worse. Not sure how, but it could.”
“I’m losing feeling in my legs!”
Lydia walked closer. “You big baby, fashion is painful! Just ask any girl who has to wear a bra for an extended period of time!” She shrugged and nodded at Derek, “You’re welcome.”
“I liked him like he was, but he looks good like that too. Though the lack of circulation to his legs is a bit worrisome.”
Erica handed Stiles another shirt and pair of jeans. “Change here.”
“I’m not wearing underwear! There is no room in here for anything but Stiles!”
Derek was off the couch in a flash and had Stiles in a fireman’s carry and up the stairs in an instant. “Show’s over! Entertain yourselves!”
“That’s mean! We wanted the full show,” Erica yelled back.
“Speak for yourself,” Jackson said. “Most of us have seen him naked. He’s got nothing on us wolves.”
“Except he has Derek, of course,” Peter added. “I think that speaks volumes alone.”
Derek came back down and smiled at the pack. “I only rescued him. Plan for dinner and a game to play.”
Stiles changed back into his standard wardrobe much to Erica and Allison’s dismay. Lydia refused to talk to him. He gave Derek a hug and pulled out a Monster from the fridge. Derek took it from his hand and replaced it with a bottle of water. “I need my energy,” Stiles pouted.
“And we don’t need you in full hyper mode this late in the evening,” Derek countered. He gave mate a small smile and a kiss on the forehead. “Look at it this way, you can have dessert now.”
Stiles waggled his eyebrows. “Was that a euphemism for sexy-times with Stiles?”
Derek sighed and shook his head. “What did I do to deserve this?”
Smacking Derek on the back of his head Stiles pouted again. “By the way, what did Harris say?”
“That he went to a demon convention in Vegas.” Stiles glared at Derek for a second. Derek smiled and continued. “He went to some continuing education classes back east. But that was all we really got out of him. Peter wanted to rough him up, but we’ll play it cool for now.”
“He’s up to no good, you know,” Stiles commented. “Something about him sets my teeth to grinding now.”
“He’s a demon, Stiles, and on some level that type of magic would be offensive to you.”
“I know…Derek, I don’t trust him and I like it even less that we have to watch him. But we still don’t know who masterminded the plan to take out your family. That bothers me.”
Derek nodded. “I know and Harris doesn’t. He was an opportunistic asshole. I won’t feel better until we are safely moved into the manor.”
“Some of us won’t be living there full time, Derek,” Stiles pouted. It was an old argument with his dad about living arrangements. Fridays and Saturday nights were pack nights, but all other nights were to be spent at home. “Do the plans still stand for us to share a room?”
“Yes, Stiles. There is a sitting room attached to the Master for you to use to study or lounge. Plus the Master is pretty big. I’ll let you see it once the elves have cleared us ‘mortals’ to enter the house and start painting it.”
“Okay, good. I’ll feel better when all those magic books are behind all that security and many wards. And Lydia and I can really go to town with the new alchemy lab.”
Derek put both hands on Stiles’ shoulders and stared him in the eyes. “Do not blow up the new house, Stiles.”
It was the last Saturday before school started and the pack was out at the manor working to get as much of the landscaping done. Most of the outdoor rooms were completed including working water and fire features. The garage was complete, built on the same level as the basement: six car bays, all automated, and built into the side of the hill with a hall that led to the main den on the basement level. The parking pad in front of the garage was where all the pack cars now pulled up. The only car in the garage was the Camaro which Derek no longer drove all the time. He drove a mom car now for the room. But Stiles and the pack’s collective jaw dropped when Peter pulled up in an Audi Spyder.
“What the hell is that?” Jackson asked as Peter got out.
“That is what happens when you invest wisely and can’t mess with your portfolio when a Recession hits because you’re in a coma.” Peter smiled. “It helps that Apple and Google are trading at near highs too.”
Stiles shook his head. “You don’t get any less creepy. But I really want a ride in that!”
The pack made their way up the exterior stairs to the back of the manor and the fully functioning outdoor kitchen. Derek was already there grilling.
“Do you know what car your uncle is driving?” Scott asked. “It costs as much as a small house.”
Derek rolled his eyes. “Peter always liked to be flashy.”
The pack started talking about what car they would buy if they could. Jackson rolled his eyes and jangled his keys. He was already driving a Porsche. Stiles commented that very little could get him to cheat on his Jeep.
Derek listened in passing when Chris showed up looking anxious and tired.
“Chris, how are you? You want to stay for dinner?” Derek flipped a few more burgers and checked to make sure the chicken was cooking evenly.
Chris nodded and sighed. “I have news about those hunters I mentioned a few weeks back. One of the older hunting families has their number two on his way with a full team. Christian Campbell and twenty men are coming.”
Tension flowed into Derek. He took a calming breath and nodded. “How soon will they be here?”
“A week, maybe a little longer. Derek, I’ve been told that I am to be treated as a hostile.” Chris paused and looked Derek in the eye. “Derek, the Campbells aren’t like the Argents. They hunt more than werewolves. They are deadly beyond compare and they are coming here.”
“To look at you for sure and to see if I am to be killed. In some circles I’m a traitor, but they fail to see the big picture.”
Derek nodded. “Talk to John, it will be nice if the law was on our side in this matter.”
“Even if we are on the side of angels, I’m not sure the Campbells will care.” Chris took a deep breath. “Derek, they are the shoot first ask questions later types. And the very thought of a person who could unite all the packs under one leader would scare the shit out of them. They are already on edge with the Fomor incursions on the east and west coasts. This is one they think they can control.”
“We’ll see about that.”
Derek announced that the food was ready and the pack acted like they hadn’t eaten in days. He looked up at the scaffolding still surrounding the manor. The interior was almost complete. Another two weeks and the manor would be ready for the pack to move in. However, much of the furniture would not be delivered until the week after. It all made Derek’s head spin. Noise from the pack pulled him from his thoughts.
After everyone had eaten their fill, Derek motioned for Scott to follow him into the woods. He placed his arm across the teen’s broad shoulders. “School starts on Monday and we already face some challenges. You’ve grown and matured over the summer. But I need you to do something more.”
Scott paused and turned to look at the alpha. “What’s going on?”
“Chris informed me that some hunters with questionable ethics are coming and soon. I need you to lead when at the school. Stiles is my mate and listen to his advice, but he’s not…”
“He’s not a fighter. I know. I’ll protect him.”
Derek shook his head. “No, Isaac will protect him, you have to lead them when I’m not there. Lydia is a witch and a damned good one and Stiles is getting very proficient with combat magic, but they aren’t fighters. If the hunters, or any threat, attack the school...”
Scott sagged and nodded. “Isaac and Erica will get them and Danny out. We’ll work out schedules to make sure we all know where each other is. Danny and Lydia can work that out.” Scott paused, “You think they’ll attack the school?”
“If they are hunting us then it’s possible. We’ll have to see.”
Derek walked back up with Scott and cleared his throat. He motioned to the boxes near the French doors that led into the house. “We have been cleared to enter the house finally. But please put on a hard hat just in case. The only working bathrooms are in the basement.”
Slowly the pack filed into the ground floor living room. It was huge. It opened up to the large kitchen at one end and doors to the study and library on the opposite end. On the opposite side from the back doors was the entrance from the hall that was a clear view to the front doors. Derek didn’t stop in the living room but took them into the entrance hall. Open to two stories, the stairs were off to the side and the door to the library was next to the stairs. On the opposite side of the library was the formal sitting room and the formal dining room. The front of the house was done in stone flooring and warm colors, except the library which was row upon row of dark wood shelving.
Derek cleared his throat and it carried over all the noise of the pack taking in their first clear views of the manor. “If you want, and no arguing, you can pick a room on the second and third floors. Stiles and I will share the Master which is at the end on the South side. There are eleven other rooms above ground and two guest rooms below.”
Stiles walked over and ran his hands along the walls. “The Sigils built into the house already radiate power. Building the wards won’t be power intensive just complicated.”
“Call Chandler or Bill if you need help. Carlos is still out, but they can help.” Derek rubbed one of Stiles’ arms. “We trust you, but don’t try something you aren’t ready to tackle.”
“No, I can do this, it will just be complex.”
Yelling and cheerful screaming echoed down the house from upstairs as the pack sorted out the future living arrangements. Derek sighed and walked to the library. “Why me?”
Lydia came down after picking a corner room on the second floor and pulled Stiles down to the magical work rooms in the basement. “Okay, let’s see how they set up the alchemy room and the ritual workroom.” She had spent much of the summer immersing herself in magical knowledge and some working practice as well. Alchemy was her primary talent, but she wanted to be as strong as she possibly could be.
“Lyds, we are not working magic tonight. We worked all day in the yards there is no way I can concentrate enough to spell cast.”
Rolling her eyes, Lydia pick up one of the books on the shelf and pointed to it. “Deaton has had me studying this all summer. I need to see if my energy control as improved! You are the only one anywhere who can see minute energy flows. I don’t need you to cast magic I need you to watch!”
“Fine!” Stiles waited on the outside of the protection circle as Lydia tried some basic energy manipulation. He watched and nodded as she chanted something under her breath and suddenly there was a flash of light and the candles in the corner were all lit. “Bravo!”
“Shut up, Stiles,” Lydia flicked her hair over her shoulder. “This is just the beginning.”
Harris frowned as his phone started ringing. School started over in the morning and he would again be subjected to a level of torture that only convicted felons should be forced to endure. As a demon it was even worse since he was powerless to do anything other than hand out detention and fail the dumb jocks and subject them to losing their coveted social status. Such were his few thrills trapped as he was. “Yes,” he answered.
The voice on the other line made him shudder. “I did learn a few things this summer, but nothing I can put into practice. The binding spells on me are thorough. If I even try to call power they will know. Those damned werewolves can sense me now too.”
Harris leaned against the wall and banged his head against it. “The whole town is gossiping about the Hales moving back into the Preserve. I missed most of it over the summer, but no one has gotten a good look at the new house. They have built all kinds of obstacles in the Preserve to ‘encourage’ undergrowth’ and promote small woodland fauna. Crock of shit!”
The voice in the phone grew louder and more agitated. “I was summoned a few days ago and they wanted to know what I was still doing here. I basically told them I am trapped and there is little they can do about that. I’ll see what I can learn, but I am going to avoid them at all costs. I’m vulnerable to them now.”
He hung up and slumped down the wall. His hands were shaking and sweat was pooling in his underarms. “I need to find a way to free myself and get out of here.”
Isaac, Boyd, and Aiden were leaning against some lockers still half asleep on the first day of school. Danny, Jackson, Scott, and Ethan were across the hall still trying to finish their energy drinks while discussing the lacrosse season coming up. No one was used to getting up early yet or going to sleep early either.
Stiles was tying his shoes trying to remember what class he had first when his head shot up. All the guys turned down the hall as silence descended. It was like the parting of the Red Sea as Lydia led Allison, Cora, and Erica towards the guys.
“Oh. My. God! I was right, they are totally going to be the Mean Girls!”
“I am so glad I’m not dating Lydia right now. Good luck with the reigning queen of Beacon Hills, Aiden,” Jackson laughed.
“Shut up, Jackson!” Lydia automatically said. “And Stiles, we are not the Mean Girls.”
“Speak for yourself,” Erica snarked. “I’m not putting up with anyone’s shit this year.”
“This is going to be so bad,” Isaac laughed. “Scott will protect me,” he said as he moved to hide behind Scott.
“Yeah and who is going to protect me?” Scott asked.
The bell rang and the pack scattered. Stiles meandered his way to his first class, Honors English. No one from the pack was in this class.
In walked a pretty new teacher. “Good morning class, I’m Ms. Blake and I teach Honors English. We’ll be starting this semester with heroic literature.”
Stiles instantly knew something was off about her, nothing bad per se, but off. And if he’d learned anything over the last few years, anything even slightly off had a way of biting you in the ass in the end. ‘Just great. Already a mystery to solve on the first day of my senior year.’
The pack was laughing at lunch. Jackson and Isaac kept swiping parts of each other’s lunch. Aiden and Ethan were arguing over their class schedules. Stiles was trying to ignore Scott and Allison discussing Friday plans.
“Danny, nothing worked! We have no idea what it means!” Lydia whispered harshly.
“Well, I’ve searched every open database on the planet, Lydia! The Vatican Archives aren’t online! Do you have some random scholar you know who can look this up?” Danny scowled back.
Cora leaned over and asked, “What are you arguing about?”
Erica rolled her eyes and pointed at Stiles. “Boy Wonder over there has a mark that we have no idea what it means.”
“Batman, I’m not Robin.” Stiles said with his mouth full of fries.
“Don’t all of you look cozy?” All eyes turned to Marin Morrell standing at the head of the table. “Looks like the summer has treated all of you well.”
Stiles gave her a small smile. “Yes it was. Looks like you’re no worse for wear.”
Ms. Morrell chuckled, “It was a good one. And for the record, I will be keeping a watchful eye on all of you.” She smiled and walked away.
Allison sighed and rolled her eyes. “Between her and Harris we can’t find any place that’s normal.”
“Its high school,” Lydia snarked. “There is nothing normal about it.”
Derek rubbed his head as he looked over all the boxes around the loft. “This will be untenable.”
“What will?” asked Peter as he came in and handed Derek a chilled coffee from Starbuck’s.
“Hunters are coming and we will be moving. We’ll be wide open to an attack.” Derek moved to look out the large windows of the loft. “If I were them that is when I’d attack. No one will be able to defend themselves quickly. The manor will be wide open with movers and people all over the place. But we need to move. The pack needs its home.”
Peter was quiet for a few moments before he grinned widely. “Perhaps we need to use what’s available and let someone move for us.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Under the terms of construction, the svartalves are responsible for security until we take possession of the manor. The terms say we take possession when we move in, but that requires us to be in residence.”
Derek sighed and rolled his eyes. “I believe that I was already aware of those things.”
“Yes, but what if we had help moving? We are owed a few favors and Summer is most anxious for us to take permanent residence in the forest again. They are aware of the conspiracy against us and feel they failed our family the night of the fire.”
“And what is the solution?”
Peter laughed, “We use the brownies to move everything from here and a designated storage facility where we have all the furniture delivered. No one can be here and those facilities have no one onsite over night. In one night they move all of it for us. When we actually move in and take possession of the manor, we only have to unpack and the window of our vulnerability is very small.”
Derek allowed a small grin to grace his face. “See if you can make that happen.”
“Wait,” Peter said as he turned back to Derek. “You still have to answer the invitation to the White Court’s Ball.”
“Do I have to go?”
Peter laughed and it contained no mirth. “Yes, the invitation was to you. You have standing in the supernatural community. The White Court isn’t to be trifled with, Derek. They may be the weakest type of vampire but they also have fewer weaknesses. We cannot afford to make enemies based on slights of protocol.”
“I take it taking Stiles would be a bad idea?”
“Yes, but only because he’s young and the White Court manipulates emotions. They feed on them. If he were fully trained…” Peter trailed off. “Take a wolf, the vampires have a harder time manipulating us and we can rip their throats out before they could succeed.”
Derek sighed and nodded. “I’ll let you know.”
“Why are we having shield practice again?” Stiles muttered.
Derek sighed again. “Because this exercise is you protecting someone other than yourself.” Standing next to Stiles were Boyd and Aiden.
“I want to play,” complained Boyd. He rarely said anything, but he enjoyed the last shield practice.
“Me too,” added Aiden.
“Stop complaining, everyone!” Derek yelled. “Boyd and Aiden can return fire, but Stiles can only defend. This is a new wrinkle in what we can do. Hopefully, Lydia will be able to shield as well when she gets to that point.”
Lydia was sitting in the stands next to Peter. “You’re not going to try to get a shot in on Stiles?”
Peter shrugged and pulled out his phone and showed something to Lydia. Her eyes went wide. He put a finger over his lips and nodded to the field. She nodded in acknowledgement.
Derek looked around. “Go!”
Stiles centered himself and spun out a few partial shields and began moving them. This time he used his hands to direct the shields and power flows while spinning out a personal shield as well.
Scott, Jackson, and Cora launched the first wave with Scott firing at Aiden and Cora at Boyd. Jackson always took glee in throwing things at Stiles.
On the other side of the field, Allison, Danny, and Ethan fired their volley an instant after Scott’s group did. Isaac and Erica moved and fired as the third wave attack.
Boyd and Aiden gathered up ammunition and began to return fire. Stiles’ shields were keeping them from getting hit and him as well.
With a nod, all three groups broke formation and starting moving in a circle and firing baseballs at will. Stiles’ hands danced as he anticipated each the volleys and kept them off his two defenders and him. Aiden gathered two balls and took a small running leap. He landed on Boyd’s shoulders and launched himself high in the air. He twisted and fired one ball at Scott and another at Jackson, the two leaders of the assault. Both found their mark and were answered with ‘Ows’ from both wolves. Aiden landed with a roll and a shield kept him from being nailed by Isaac’s attack.
The wolves changed the rhythm of their attack several times and with degrees of success. Stiles was able to keep from personally getting hit, but both Boyd and Aiden took a few hits. Stiles was trying to vary his shields, but he was rooted to a fixed point and that made it easier to control his shields, but harder to use them to keep the pack off balance.
In the viewing stand, Peter nodded to Lydia. She stood up and fired a standard magical energy lance at Stiles. It would be no worse than a baseball, but it was an energy attack among all the physical ones. Another test inside of the larger test.
Derek watched as Lydia’s surprise impacted Stiles’ personal shield with no effect. But he caught it as his mate’s eyes flared with power. Stiles threw both hands over his head, slapped them together, and a slight pressure wave was felt by all. Stiles’ hands radiated power as he pulled them down and Derek was in a full sprint to the middle of the field.
“No!” Derek screamed before Stiles could unleash his gathered energy.
“Oh Shit,” muttered Jackson. All the wolves could sense the sudden power build up and could see Stiles radiating magical energy.
Just like that Stiles let all the energy go. “Way to ruin my fun, dude!”
“This was a defensive test not a Stiles goes nuclear event!” Derek rubbed the back of his neck. “Switch up! Scott, Jackson replace Boyd and Aiden as the defenders. Let’s see how they are at defending instead of being on the attack.”
Stiles smiled and threw his shields back out. He’d never admit to it, but if he let a ball or two fly through the shields to hit Jackson and Scott well that was what practice was for.
Derek sat on a pillow in the middle of the loft. The pack was at school and Peter was out doing whatever Peter did during the day. Slowly, Derek allowed his breathing to even out and pulled his awareness inward. Even after four months all the power he’d pulled from killing Kali and Deucalion was hard to tame. He’d sent plenty down the pack link to boost all of them, but Derek still surged with power.
He could feel the pack link and the bond with Stiles. The niggling in the back of his head found its source: Stiles. Since his return from Texas, his mate had been on edge and testy. Derek allowed his mind to sort through possible issues without fighting them. All the challenges they’d faced and the hectic pace of life left little time to do this. He needed time to ponder and reflect.
Something was bothering Stiles and he’d managed to hide it for the last three weeks behind all kinds of defenses. A small smile crept along Derek’s face. He gathered warmth and love and sent it down the link to Stiles like a mental hug. Now that he was aware of what Stiles was doing it was only a matter of time to pull the answers from the teen.
He shifted his awareness from Stiles back to his own power issues. Slowly he stripped and then began the shift to his alpha form. He’d only done it after he killed Deucalion, but he had to master it. Pulling on his wolf he brought all that power to the surface and the change swept through his body. The pain of the full transformation ripped through him. Every bone broke, stretched and reformed.
He stretched to his new full height and roared. More energy called to him. He pulled on that energy even more and from the dominating seven plus foot tall alpha were-form he shifted into a full wolf just like his mother could. Panic flooded him and in a flash he was human, drenched in sweat and taking in huge gulps of air. Shock flooded his system as did the memories. “Not doing that again.”
It was Friday evening and the pack was in the loft complaining about the first week of school. Derek parked his mini SUV and watched as five darkened SUVs rolled passed him and the loft. All the license plates were Illinois issued. He waited a beat for them to all get further down the street before heading up to the loft.
Scott met him at the door and frowned. “What? We all felt you get tense.”
“The hunters are here and made no effort to hide that they are here. They drove by in parade formation.”
“They are going to flaunt their presence to us,” Peter stated. “Remember they can be as aggressive as they want in their book, but any response by us is a sign that they are right.”
“Oh fuck that!” Stiles yelled. “If they think they can come into our town and harass us…”
“We will do nothing to them for now. Stiles, you are directly forbidden from interacting with them, spying on them, or in any way doing anything that would intentionally allow you to cross paths with them.” Derek moved right next to his mate. “Is that clear?”
Stiles huffed, “Yes.”
“Also, do no magic around them or openly, that goes for you as well Lydia. We need to keep some of our capabilities hidden. Surprise may be the only advantage we have if we do have to fight.”
“I texted my dad so he knows to expect company.” Allison curled into Isaac while Scott rubbed her shoulders.
Peter sighed, “I would go over there except that would add fuel to the fire I’m afraid. Though on the other hand it would be interesting to see how much it would piss them off.”
“As much as I would love to mess with them, discretion is the better part of valor,” Derek stated. “Though I think Allison and Lydia should head there with their boyfriends. It’s a risk, but I don’t want Chris alone tonight.”
“What about the rest of us?” Cora demanded. “I know we shouldn’t engage them, but at the same time they can’t make us hide!”
Derek laughed, “Okay, Boyd, Erica, Danny, Ethan, Cora, and Isaac, I think you should head to the diner and grab some ice cream. Jackson will stay here with us and have some takeout Chinese.”
“Why do I have to stay behind?” Jackson demanded.
“Most likely to say or do something to start an incident,” Lydia laughed. “That would be Jackson, Stiles, and Peter – the three mouths that roared.”
Jackson and Stiles flipped her off as the rest of the pack left the loft laughing.
Stiles was deep in one of the alchemy books the following morning. He was lazing next to Derek who was still dozing after their night together. A smile crossed his face as he recalled the night and how loud both of them had been. He didn’t care and Derek had stated more than once that the manor bedrooms were sound dampened to increase the illusion of privacy. Stiles didn’t care. Being with Derek was like completing his soul each time. Forgetting the book he reached over and started trying to wake his sleeping beauty.
Derek groaned, “Pack is coming for breakfast. We need to get up and get ready.”
Jackson scowled at Derek and Stiles as they came down from their bedroom. Jackson had sacked out on the couch while Peter and Isaac went to their rooms. Cora stayed with Erica that night.
“You fuckers could be quieter when you’re screwing each other’s brains out!” Jackson threw a pillow at them.
Stiles walked over and kissed Jax on his forehead. “Admit it, you wanted to jack off a lot and couldn’t because all the wolves would hear it.”
Isaac laughed and patted Jackson on the head as he passed by on his way to the kitchen. “Stiles, we already smelled it no need to hear it!”
Jackson’s mouth dropped open. “What the hell!”
“Do you need some alone time in the shower, Jax,” Stiles sang as he went into the kitchen.
“Fuck, I need to get laid!”
The rest of the pack slowly came back and said they saw strangers around but nothing happened. Peter was already at the Argent house speaking with Chris. The Saturday proceeded as normal with everyone sick of boxes upon boxes cluttering up the loft.
Derek chuckled, “It’s still better than the railcar Den.”
Chris was sitting in the diner eating breakfast quietly on his own on a quiet Sunday morning. The chime of the door opening pulled his attention from the papers he was reading. He schooled his face into the usual neutral mask as Christian Campbell and four of his men walked into the diner. Two men sat in a booth next to him and two sat behind him.
Christian walked right up to his table. “You look lonely. Mind if I join you?”
Knowing it wasn’t a request and not willing to cause a scene just yet, Chris nodded and motioned at the open chair. “Why not.”
“A man forgets his roots and doesn’t know who his friends are anymore or who he is if he isn’t careful.” Christian motioned for some coffee. “Been a long time, Argent. Heard you’ve had a bad year.”
Shrugging, Chris took a sip of his coffee. He took his time before answering. “What brings you and your posse here?”
“I think you know already. But for the record one violent nasty Alpha pack was last seen here. A spot where lots of trouble over the last year has happened regularly. Now, most of the news was that the Argents were handling things until a few died and Chris Argent retires. And that is when the alpha pack shows up. Ring a bell?”
“I think I would know when three of my family members die, Christian.”
“Then suddenly the alpha pack is gone and the Hale pack, one thought to be destroyed, is back and with a very strong alpha.”
Chris remained silent waiting for Campbell to continue.
“For the sake of the past, we’re going to ignore your recent behavior. Sister, daddy, and the wife all dying at once tends to make some people crazy. The Hale pack though, that is something that can’t be ignored.”
Chris folded his hands and leaned forward. “You may think you mean well, Christian. This isn’t a normal pack or situation. Leave it alone.”
“Now see, that is interfering. That’s your one warning. Stay out of this and you’ll live to enjoy your retirement. We can’t have those animals thinking they are better than humans.”
Chris dropped some money on the table as he stood up. He paused as he started to leave. “That is the problem right there. Who are we to judge?”
Christian waited for Argent to leave and pull away before he switched tables. “What do we know?”
“Our friend in the FBI sent us what he could. It wasn’t much but here it is,” said one of the Campbell men.
Looking it over, Christian scrolled through the information on the tablet. After a few minutes he pointed to one of the names. “This one is the key. Any operation we get her first.”
“She’s not a wolf.”
“No she’s a mathematical genius and those are rare. Our secondary target is the Sheriff’s kid. Just in case we need leverage.”
The Stilinski house was quiet when Derek let himself in. He knew John was working; the twins were out with their respective partners, and Stiles was due home from Scott’s soon. Slowly he unpacked the food he’d brought and began setting the table.
“Hey, Der! What brings you here?” Stiles walked over and kissed him. “You brought me dinner! Italian…” Suddenly suspicious, he looked at Derek and frowned. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing. I wanted a nice quiet dinner with my mate.”
Stiles sighed and pulled Derek into a hug. “I can tell you want to talk about something and Italian is a way to get me softened up. What is it?”
Derek sighed and made Stiles sit. He took the chair next to him and tried to smile. “Ever since you got back from your training session with Bill Meyers, you’ve been hiding something. I’ve tried not to press, but it’s making me anxious like something is going to happen.”
Stiles started to argue but rapidly deflated. He reached out and put his hand on Derek’s. “It’s stupid. I met wizards who are over two hundred years old and it hit me how odd my life is going to be. And it hit me that I might outlive you. Just…stupid.”
“Not stupid, but my mother…my mom would say you’re borrowing tomorrow’s worries for today.” Derek pulled Stiles into a hug. “How about we survive through your college graduation before we worry about the extended long term life questions?”
They ate together and chatted about the week. Stiles led them up to his room and Derek smiled as they settled on the bed. “Stiles, what else did you learn in Texas? You’ve been reticent to talk about it.”
“Magic is a tool, it doesn’t confer wisdom.” Stiles sighed and leaned back into Derek’s hug. “The wizards I met are people. They can do extraordinary things, but are only people. I found that there are worlds well beyond this one. It was exciting and humbling.”
Derek tightened his grip. “When I was in New York I never thought I would get used to how crowded and noisy it was. It was hell for a werewolf who lived in a forest most of his life. I wish I had been able to experience New York without all the pain I was suffering. I don’t think I’ll ever like it there. The memories are dark. But I get what you are saying.”
“I get to return the favor now, Sourwolf. You’ve had something on your mind, what is it?”
“I received an invitation to a ball in San Francisco in October. The White Court is hosting it, but I don’t want you to go.”
“I don’t want you near a vampire court, Stiles. Not until you’re a full wizard.” Derek squeezed Stiles’ hand. “They are very dangerous and I don’t want to be there either, but protocol demands it.”
“Then don’t go,” Stiles pouted.
“This is the type of thing I have to attend if invited. But I need to figure out whom to take with me.”
Stiles sagged back and then brightened. “Take Jackson! He’ll fit right in with them.”
“Are you trying to start an incident?” Derek laughed. “Jackson in a vampire den that doesn’t sound like fun to me.”
“No, really, take Jackson. He’s already wealthy, he knows how to handle himself in that type of social situation, and he’s pretty enough and knows it not to be impressed by the vampires.”
Derek groaned. “I’ll think about it, but to spend all that time with him…”
“Better you than me!”
It was raining as the pack raced into the school. Isaac ran up with Scott and frowned as they both shook off the excess water. “I saw two around the corner from the loft.”
Scott nodded, “Yeah, saw one camped down the street from Deaton’s clinic.”
Aiden and Ethan ran by with Stiles right behind them. “We saw a car down the street from Stiles’ place.”
Lydia and Danny strolled up and folded their umbrellas down. “Are we discussing the surveillance teams all over the place?” Lydia asked. “They are definitely watching our movements.”
Stiles pulled out his phone. “I’m texting dad. There is more than one way to get them to back off.”
Jackson ran up with Cora, Erica, and Boyd following. “Seriously tired of the goon squads hanging around town.”
Erica snarled, “Can’t we just kick their ass and move on?”
Putting his phone away, Stiles smiled and gave Erica a kiss on the cheek. “Soon my darling, Catwoman. We need to mess with them a bit first.”
Derek pulled up to Albertson’s and hustled inside to keep from getting soaking wet. He pulled out his phone and loaded Google Drive since Stiles insisted that there be healthy food around for the pack and not all junk food. The shopping list loaded and he set off to get enough food to last a few days.
He ignored the sounds of footsteps nearing him as he loaded up his basket. His senses told him to be on guard and he was. Reading the contents of a jarred pasta sauce he waited for the men near him to speak.
“So you’re the great alpha that has all the packs talking.”
Derek looked at a man in his forties, brown hair, non-descript, a little shorter than his six feet even. Nothing about the man was memorable and that made him a perfect hunter. Derek remained silent to see what else would come from the hunter’s mouth.
“Cat got your tongue? No matter. Have to say I wasn’t expecting a pretty boy to be the great alpha prince that I’d heard about. The defeater of the alpha pack. Blah, blah, blah. So any words from your highness?”
Derek looked at the jar and back at the irritating hunter. “Have you ever tried this? I usually prefer mine made from scratch, but no time this week.”
“You think you’re funny?”
Derek shrugged. “What do you want? I’m busy.”
“My family has been dealing with your kind forever. You’re not wanted here.”
“I believe that Mr. Hale has a right to be here since he lives in this county and I don’t think I’ve ever seen you here before.” John Stilinski said as he sauntered towards the small gathering in the Italian foods aisle. “I do know that there were two illegally parked SUVs out there blocking the parking lot that are being towed right now. Who are you?”
“My name is Christian Campbell and I respectfully suggest that this is a matter you don’t want to get involved with sheriff.”
“Now that would be a problem, Mr. Campbell, since this is my county and my jurisdiction and Mr. Hale here is a tax paying citizen.”
Campbell took a step back and nodded. “Of course, sheriff, of course.” He and his men starting walking out. He muttered just loud enough to know that Derek could hear him. “We’ll see you again soon.”
Derek pulled up to the Stilinski house and frowned as he passed the hunters on stakeout down the street. Danny had used a simple program to report suspicious men hanging out in a few neighborhoods to force the hunters to back off. The fingerprints couldn’t be traced back to the pack and it put the hunters on the radar of the whole Sheriff’s Department.
The loft was locked and no one was sleeping there that night. Derek pulled out his overnight bag and headed inside. The pack was split up for a school night. Aiden was over at Lydia’s with Allison and Jackson. Isaac was over at Scott’s while Cora and Boyd were at Erica’s. Ethan was spending the night with Danny.
It was moving night and everyone was nervous. The Summer Court had been amiable to facilitating the move of the pack by the brownies as a security precaution. But that didn’t keep everyone from being a wreck. The hunters were watching and the rentals for the moving vans were still on for Friday. Nothing had changed to outside eyes.
“Hey, Stiles! Food’s here!” He took the burgers into the dining room and handed John a grilled chicken sandwich. “Sorry, but Stiles would have my head if I let you eat something greasy.”
“Conspiring with him against me, oh the betrayal.” John mocked as he looked over his dinner. “Lucky for you I like these.”
“S’up Sourwolf?” Stiles looked at the sandwich his dad was eating and shrugged. “Grilled chicken is okay, but I think you need a tofu burger and soy. Maybe avocado and tomato.”
John frowned, “Stiles, seriously, my next appointment is in a month. If the levels aren’t down then you can make me an almost vegetarian, but if they are fine then I am having red meat on occasion.”
Stiles threw his hands in the air and snorted, “Fine! But if it isn’t better then red meat is history like gone forever!”
John looked at Derek and motioned at Stiles. Derek shrugged.
“No, oh no! You can’t bond together against me. Not fair!” Stiles collapsed into his chair and pouted.
Across the town the whole pack was doing anything and everything to keep busy. Derek and Stiles were curled into each other asleep when they both felt it. The wards of the loft were touched by magic. It was an instant, but enough to make them notice.
Stiles tried to stretch his awareness to the manor, but he had very little connection to it yet. Derek pulled him tighter and they both fell back asleep. They both had smiles on their faces. The move had begun.
Christian was with a team down the road from the Hale loft. This was moving day. They knew Derek had spent the last two nights at the Stilinski house. The assumption was that everything was packed at the loft and thus not habitable.
It was mid morning and alarm bells started ringing in the hunters’ heads. No moving truck had been seen near the loft or any of the houses of the pack. Campbell grabbed his phone and started yelling. “Where is Hale?”
“He dropped the Stilinski kid off at school and headed out of town. He hasn’t been back yet as far as we know.”
Campbell frowned at the phone for a second. “Any calls from his phone to see where he might be?”
Silence followed for a few moments. “No sir, no calls or texts. In fact his phone might be off since we aren’t picking it up near any cell tower currently.”
“That sounds…okay start a search pattern, standard grid. Look for Hale’s car. Something’s not right. Call the rental place and see when they are supposed to pick up the truck.”
Thirty minutes later Christian is ready to throw his phone against something hard. “What do you mean that the move has been rescheduled? A month, no that can’t be right! Find Hale!”
Jackson waggled his eyebrows as the pack left the school. He sniffed the air as did the other wolves. Scott nodded his head to the street off the main parking lot. Two of the hunters’ SUVs were right there waiting.
Erica laughed as she hooked her arm through Boyd’s. “I wonder just how pissed they are right now?”
Lydia rolled her eyes as she checked her phone. “Nothing from Derek. Did he contact you Stiles?”
“Nope, not supposed to anyway.” Stiles smiled wickedly.
Danny came strolling down the steps with Ethan right behind him. “Shall we get going?”
Allison hooked her arm through Scott’s and laughed as well. “Let the games begin. Thirty minutes?”
“Come on Stiles, since Prince Derek dropped you off you’re with me,” Jackson called as he headed towards his car. Ethan headed down to Danny’s car. Aiden followed behind Lydia on the way to her BMW. Erica and Cora followed Boyd to his truck while Isaac and Scott headed to Allison’s car.
The five pack cars pulled out and Jackson was the trailing car since his was the fastest. Stiles looked back and laughed. “And here they come.” He tapped out a message on his phone. ‘They’re following us – as predicted.’
Three dark SUVs trailed behind the pack. Stiles leaned back and started tapping his fingers against his thigh.
“Are you ever not annoying?” Jackson growled.
“Yes, but it’s rare around you.” He looked back again and smiled as they came up to the intersection. Three of the five pack cars went through the light. Only Lydia’s and Jackson’s cars were stuck. “I’m sure our hunter buddies are getting pissed.”
The light turned green and he watched as Lydia pulled away, but he waited until the light turned yellow and floored it. He laughed as one of the SUVs managed to follow but the other two were trapped by the red light.
Stiles laughed, “Okay, now they are pissed for sure.”
Down shifting, Jackson accelerated as the hunters followed. “Oh please boys, please say that you think you can keep up!” He floored it and was flying down the road heading away from town. “Aww, couldn’t keep up.”
Stiles looked down at his phone and laughed. “Cora, Boyd, and Erica are at the manor. Okay, to Best Buy we a go.”
Jackson rolled his eyes and did about eighty on his way to the rendezvous. Stiles announced Danny and Ethan were now at the manor. Jackson pulled off into a strip center and up next to Peter waiting in his Spyder.
“First the Porsche now the Spyder! See you later, Jax,” Stiles yelled as he got out of the car and headed over to Peter’s.
The Porsche roared off and Stiles smiled at Peter. “Shall we?”
“Your master plan was to play mouse with hunters? How you idiots survived for as long as you have!” Peter rolled his eyes.
“Whatever! Lydia and Aiden are at the manor now.”
“Which is where I would be except for this plan.”
“Look, they have no idea how much magic exists, they only think in terms of monsters. Chris saw a wizard’s duel…”
Peter cut him off. “Yes, I’ve heard the story a time or two. I’ve met a Warden or two you know. Some are impressive and others are assholes.” He saw two of the hunter SUVs and sped past by them. “Though none are as much of an asshole as hunters are. Bunch of tiny dicked pricks!”
“Speaking from experience?” Stiles asked innocently but with a leer on his face.
“Really? That is what you got out of that? And while I am not one to get into such mundane things I’ll have you know there is nothing wrong with Chris’ anatomy.”
It was Stiles’ turn to roll his eyes. “This rides as smoothly as the Porsche. So how many Wardens have you met?”
“I was at some ceremony at the Summer Court a year before the fire. There were four there. Only one of them radiated power that frightened me. Though I will be honest Stiles, as young as you are, none of them showed the spine of steel you’ve shown so far. You run into danger instead of away.” Peter passed another hunter SUV and laughed. “I know the Campbells have a rep, but these guys are slow on the uptake.”
“And now Scott, Allison, and Isaac are there. Okay, our turn. Jackson should be there in five minutes.”
“Finally!” Peter made a sudden right turn and headed out of town away from the manor. “We’re going around the outskirts of town and head back into the Preserve from the opposite side. Plus, fewer stops and I can really speed.
“But the Wardens, and other wizards, are solitary. They have some friends I’ve gathered, but you’ll have the pack. I heard about Carlos and I’m sure he said some things to you, but they will look at you differently. Remember one key thing, Stiles. We must each walk our own path.” Peter laughed again. “I know I want to see how good you get with magic. This could be fun!”
They swung around to the gates of the Hale property and the road up to the manor. Right at the turnoff were two sheriff’s cars. Stiles waved and smiled broadly as Peter pulled up to the garage and one of the bays opened for the Spyder. Instead of heading into the house through the garage basement entrance, Stiles ran back out the open door and up the pathway to the front doors. As he came up to the large front porch, he grinned at the inlaid triskelion done in fused tile as large greeting for guests. The full symbol of the Hale family on display to truly announce that the family lived here again. The forest was theirs to guard and protect.
He took a deep breath as he looked out over the front gardens and off towards the park. He could feel magic all around. “Home.”
John Stilinski walked up behind two of his deputies. The sun was just setting. He shook his head as he looked at the scene. “We have an ID yet?”
“No sir, but I’m betting he attended the high school given he’s wearing a Beacon Hills High t-shirt.”
Squatting down near the body, John pulled on his gloves and looked at the body closely. “Get the body to the M.E. This doesn’t make sense there are multiple marks but this one looks post mortem.”
The body of the teenage boy was lying in a very precise way in the dirt behind the school. His neck had the marks of strangulation, but his skull also signs of blunt-force trauma. John sighed as he looked at the kid around Stiles’ age.
“Yes, sir. I hope this doesn’t mean another run of violence like we had before,” one of the deputies said sadly.
“From your mouth to God’s ears,” John said as he stood up. “How the hell does something like this happen near the school while the sun is still up?”
Christian sat with a few of his men at one of the local watering holes. They’d been played by the pack which was now happily hanging out at the new Hale Manor. The wild goose chase had to announce that the pack was fucking with them. He’d give them their due; they found a way to move without the hunters picking up on it. He’d been born to do what he did. “Prepare a scout team for the woods. It’s time we see exactly what Hale Manor looks like.”
He rolled his eyes when he saw the sheriff walk in with two deputies.
“Sheriff Stilinski, nice to see you again.”
John gave a nod of acknowledgment before speaking. “I had a look into your records, Mr. Campbell and I’m going to have to ask that you don’t leave town now as much as I would like to throw you out of my county. In fact, Monday morning at 9:00am I need you at my office.”
Campbell frowned, “Why?”
“You tend to show up when bizarre homicides happen and there’s been one here. I can’t hold you yet, but I can keep you from leaving. Monday, Mr. Campbell.”
Christian narrowed his eyes and nodded. “Monday it is.”
Chapter 2: In the Hall of the Mountain King
The pack moves into its new home as danger returns to Beacon Hills.
The manor was quiet. Stiles shifted out from under Derek’s arm and listened to the steady breathing coming next to him and the lack of noise all around. The only things in the house that had been put together were the beds. Sitting up slowly, he felt his muscles tug from the strenuous workout they’d been put through the prior night.
He pulled on his briefs and t-shirt and walked into the adjoining sitting room. Thankfully, a sofa was already in the room, the middle of it, but there for him to sit down. It was just after dawn, the soft light filtering into the room as he picked up his laptop. The headline for the online paper blared that a student from Beacon Hills High was dead woke Stiles up completely.
Stiles turned to look at Derek leaning against the doorway, bed hair in a thousand directions and his body completely naked. “News story, a student was killed last night behind the school. I’ll ask dad about it later. Not much here except for the death.”
Derek disappeared for a moment and came back wearing only basketball shorts. “The place looks like a disaster. I want to do a walkthrough, but…”
“Oh man, your OCD would kick your ass! And then all of us would spend the whole weekend organizing everything.” Stiles got up and kissed Derek on the cheek. “Getting this place perfect is going to take some time.”
“You think you’re funny,” Derek got up and pulled Stiles with him. “Why don’t we break in the shower? Designed for two with multiple jets and overhead rain setting too.”
Stiles stopped for a second and then he pulled Derek towards their bathroom. Derek laughed all the way.
The kitchen had enough food to prepare a large buffet breakfast, but serious shopping was called for if the pack was going to be there full time now. Derek had two crates of eggs out and enough butter to make any French pastry chef happy. Bacon was in the oven sizzling away along with the biscuits. Sausage was frying in a large skillet to make gravy and to mix into some scrambled eggs. Derek knew that the wolves had appetites that would leave no leftovers, but he also wanted them fueled for the day’s activities of putting the house together.
Allison and Scott wandered into the kitchen and they started looking for plates, utensils, and cups to set for breakfast.
“Put everything in the main dining room. It’s the only place set up for all of us anyway.”
Erica and Cora came in next and Cora instantly started brewing coffee. “You start this massive feast, but couldn’t be bothered to start the coffee?”
Derek shrugged. “Stiles, pulled a Monster out of the fridge and went to look at the lake. I’m fine with water right now.”
Lydia walked in and rolled her eyes. “Those of us without superhuman strength or stamina require caffeine to get moving in the morning.”
“Those of us who felt our alpha having tons of fun with his mate and are single need caffeine since we got no sleep,” groused Jackson. “Isaac, where did you sleep last night?”
Isaac rolled his eyes and frowned, “Not that it is any of your business, but my room. Alone. Happy?”
Jackson patted Isaac on the back and handed him a cup of coffee. “How is the third floor?”
Ethan and Danny walked in followed by Aiden and Boyd. Isaac smiled broadly, “I love my room. The view is amazing and it feels cozy. Not that the Loft wasn’t great…”
Derek huffed and shrugged, “The Loft was industrial and big, but austere. This is a home as big as it might be. Though we limited carpet to bedrooms because all of you are messy.”
“Well at least the house isn’t done all in black noir like I feared originally,” Lydia commented. “The kitchen is amazing.”
“Speaking of,” Derek started. He pulled out the bacon and biscuits from the oven. He poured the warm gravy into the gravy boat and started heaping eggs onto a serving platter. He handed both to Erica and Ethan. “Boyd, I need you to take Cora and Danny to Costco to stock up on everything we need from scratch. Allison, Isaac, and Ethan, I need you to head to the farmers market to get produce for a week and everything we need for a fall garden.”
Scott had his hand smacked as he reached for a piece of bacon. “Ow, what was that for?”
Cora smiled wickedly. “Hale family tradition…”
“No one eats until we are all sitting down,” Peter continued. “It was my grandmother’s rule. When you’re dealing with almost a dozen hungry wolves and equally hungry humans it helps keep order.”
Derek laughed and walked out with another platter of food. He turned his head and smiled as Stiles walked in from the living room.
“Can you tell where he is at all times?” Allison asked.
“I can when he’s on the Preserve and I’m here, I think. All I have to do is think about him and I know.” He looked at Lydia and rolled his eyes. “Yes, we can do some tests soon to see how well it works.”
He was quickly shut up by a hard kiss on the mouth from Stiles. “We have other things to test out first.”
“No, just no!” Scott howled. “Look we get it. We felt you bond forever, but please just no!”
Stiles laughed and took a seat. Derek helped bring in the last of the platters and sat at the end of the table. “I hope everyone slept well. This is our first real meal here. Pizza last night doesn’t count. Welcome home everyone. Dig in.”
Platters were quickly passed around. Laughing and teasing quickly ensued. Cora turned heads when she leaned over the table and smiled evilly at Jackson. “So, pretty boy, who is on your target list? You’ve been single for awhile and we can smell how horny you are.”
Jackson turned red, but didn’t say anything immediately. Ethan was sitting next to Cora and flicked her nose. “Don’t pick on Jackson. When he figures out what he wants he’ll go for it.”
Cora rolled her eyes, snarled at Ethan, and then smiled at Jackson. “Look, there’s a betting pool already at school for who you ask out first. It’s up to $400 already.”
“Yes, and you can’t ask for inside information,” shouted Erica. “The rule was to play fair.”
“How many of you are in this pool?” Derek asked. All the hands went up except Danny’s, Stiles’, and Peter’s. Though Peter did mutter something about feeling left out. “Lydia? Really?”
“Jackson’s one of my best friends and he won’t spill. If you follow markets you’d know that betting trends tend to yield some very good results for picking winners.” Lydia smiled broadly and then turned towards Jackson. “Since Cora let the cat out of the bag, who are you thinking of dating?”
“Greenberg,” Jackson stated flatly.
“He has no odds,” yelled Isaac. He turned to Scott. “Who’d you bet on?”
“I have Kyle Winthrop in October.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Jackson dropped his head into his hands. “Are you that bored?”
“No,” Allison said. “Just concerned since you walked away from Danny and Ethan.”
Danny cleared his throat. “I told you all to leave it alone. We’re friends.” He glared at Ethan who smiled and shrugged.
Derek smiled broadly. “Fine, if a member of the pack wins then that money goes to buying dinner for everyone that night – Jackson’s choice.”
Mayhem broke out over breakfast about Derek’s decision. Stiles watched as a smug smile took over Jackson’s face instead of the horrified expression when he found out he was the subject of a school wide bet. The two of them weren’t pals, but had reached an understanding and could joke now with ease. Jackson was pack and that meant something deep to Stiles now. He could feel all the bonds like Derek could. He frowned when he heard Jackson’s phone chime.
Jackson looked up from a text and sighed. He finished his plate of food and frowned. “I have to go. I’ll talk to you later.”
The pack paused and then waved, but Derek followed Jackson with his eyes until the teen was gone. He pulled his phone out and sent Jax a text asking if he was okay, but didn’t expect a response.
“Guess the betting pool is closed,” Lydia snarked. “Though I doubt Jackson has any real interest in Greenberg.”
Scott laughed, “Nobody has any real interest in Greenberg.”
“Except Coach Finstock,” added Ethan.
Derek pulled up to the diner and nodded at Jackson. “Jackson, what’s wrong?” He’d seen the beta only two hours ago and yet Jackson’s attitude had completely changed.
They sat in the back with Jackson’s back to the diner. The only person who could see him was Derek. He fiddled with his napkin for a bit before shrugging his shoulders. “It appears that the perfect son made a perfect fool of himself when I ‘died’ on the field last spring. My father has accepted a position with an international law firm and is moving to London. He’s leaving on Wednesday. My mother will follow as soon as all the affairs here are settled.”
Jackson shrugged and snorted. He looked away for a second and then at Derek. “It’s my senior year. Going to London would not be in my best academic interests they said. Changing schools so late would have a major impact in my college applications.”
Derek could feel the distress radiating from his beta. He reached over and put his hand on Jackson’s. “Where will you stay?”
“That’s one of mom’s priorities, to make sure Jackson has a place to stay since the house is on the market. It’s being shown by appointment beginning next weekend.” Jackson took a deep breath and looked away again. “All my stuff needs to be out by Thursday so the realtors can stage the place.”
Pulling out his phone, Derek raised a finger to stop Jackson. “Stiles, meet me at your place in twenty minutes. Make sure your dad is there too.”
Jackson’s eyes went wide. “No!”
“You need a place to stay and your parents will be happier knowing you aren’t alone. Most of your stuff can be kept in your room at the manor, but John can keep an eye on you officially.”
John rubbed the back of his neck and shrugged at Stiles. Stiles sighed deeply. “Don’t ever say I’ve never done anything for you, Jackson. But the same rules apply to you as did the twins. I swear I miss my only child status.”
“You sure this works for you, Jackson?” John asked. “Honestly, I feel like going over and punching your dad in the face and then arresting them for child endangerment.” He sighed and pulled Jackson into a quick hug. “Stiles, had two cousins he didn’t know about living here over the summer; what’s another one.”
Jackson ducked his head and shrugged. “Thank you. I…I appreciate it.” He gave the sheriff a small smile.
Derek threw his arm over Jackson’s shoulder and pulled him out of the living room and into the kitchen. John reached over and made Stiles stay seated. “Give them a moment…his parents basically kicked him out.”
Stiles looked towards the kitchen and sighed. “I can’t imagine being adopted and then being cast aside like that. But…he’ll have us and the pack.”
“Yes he will.” John looked at his watch and frowned. “Derek, you need to head to the store otherwise dinner will be late.”
Derek and Jackson emerged from the kitchen. Stiles grabbed Derek’s hand and gave Jackson a kiss on the cheek. Jackson rolled his eyes, “Really, Stiles?”
“Yup. Come on, we’ll get your stuff tomorrow. For now the three of us have to go shopping.”
The pack was lounging around the pool between the main house and the carriage house. The plants were fragrant and area comfortable. The sun was slowly setting and everyone was full simply enjoying the evening.
Stiles sat up abruptly and started looking around frantically.
“What is it?” demanded Derek.
Suddenly over the water appeared a preternaturally beautiful woman ‘robed’ in a very skimpy outfit in warm colors. She walked over the water and smiled brightly.
“Greetings, Lord Hale! I am Deanasidhe. I bring greetings from Titania, Queen of the Summer Court to the Alpha Prince, Lord of House Hale, Guardian of Golden Forest Gate. You are every bit as gorgeous as we were told.” Her gaze swept over the whole pack and her smile broadened.
“Greetings, milady,” Derek offered in return as he moved closer and inclined his head in acknowledgment of her station.
Deana walked over and stood in front of Stiles. “And you are the other Lord Hale; greetings young mage. The gifts and curses of modernity sit on you. But in you is the soul of a warrior and courage rarely seen. Dangerous you will be to any and all who threaten your pack.” She turned and looked over the pack again and laughed. “Oh, Reynard downplayed what we have here. Never trust a centaur to give you a direct answer.”
“Couldn’t the same be said of the Sidhe?” Peter asked as he walked forward.
“Peter Hale! Emissary from the Hales to the Summer Court!” She laughed again and gripped his hands. “We would have done anything we could to aid you, but you could not give consent. It is good to see you again.”
“It’s good to be seen,” he replied. “What news from the Summer Court?”
She held up her hand as she walked among the pack. “Young powerful wolves, a huntress, a very cunning witch, another guardian, a hunter, a healer, and,” she stopped in front of Danny, “a surprise.” She whirled back to Derek and Peter. “The news grows more grave by the day. Formorian Servitors hunt for your gifted. Your Wardens are young and inexperienced.
“Reynard has already passed along warnings, but I must be clear. Your peril grows as each day passes. Great will be your challenges soon. Formorians already test Summer and Winter lands. Another Sidhe War brews and you must hold this gate! But that test is yet to come. But for now enjoy your new home and the greetings from my Queen.”
In a flash she was gone.
“What the Hell was that?” Boyd asked of all people.
Peter smiled broadly. “That was one of the Sidhe, a powerful Fae and one of the powers of the Summer Court. Interesting that she visited so quickly. They are eager for our residence to resume here.”
“What did she mean by I carry the gifts and curses of the modernity?” demanded Stiles.
Danny piped up as well, “How am I a surprise?”
Peter shrugged awhile grabbing a piece of dessert. “We’ll have to see.”
Lydia leaned forward and smirked at Stiles, “Lord Hale?”
“Yes, if he were female he would have been greeted as Lady Hale,” Peter said. “They may not be married, but to the Fae, they are far more.”
“Dad told me we can’t get married until after I graduate from college. Plus we have to deal with Prop 8.”
John chuckled, “You can have an engagement ring when you’re eighteen, but no bells until after you’ve cost me an arm and a leg.”
Derek moved over and pulled Stiles up and started to fake waltz with him. “We’ll cross those bridges when they come. Until then Lord Hale, how about we clean up the kitchen. Alphas don’t get out of clean up duty.”
Cheers went up from the pack while Stiles sulked. He wanted to be able to get out of some chores.
Christian pulled his night-vision goggles down and led his team of eight in a recon of the woods. It was the week before the full moon and he knew that the pack was inside the new manor getting everything set up. It was after midnight and they were coming in from the opposite side of the park which bordered Hale land. Even with night vision it was difficult to get a read on the landscape.
This area of the Preserve was wild and open. Their entry point left them three miles from the manor, but that was the only way to get there without rousing the suspicion of the pack.
The lead hunter paused and placed up his hand to bring the entire group to a stop. The breeze picked up, but as it did a fog began to roll in from the lake. The limbs of the trees began to sway in the growing breeze. Shapes moved in the fog and suddenly the night-vision goggles stopped working.
The howl of a wolf not too far off rent the air. Christian narrowed his eyes and raised his gun. With a hand motion he ordered his team to fall back. Quickly the returned to their point of entry. Out of the fog, Derek walked with his eyes glowing. He turned and ran back towards the manor and the fog slowly dissipated.
“What happened?” asked a sleepy Stiles.
“Hunters in the woods,” Derek said as he stripped to climb back in bed. “The forest let me know as soon as they crossed inside. Nature itself responded to my needs. But it’s draining.”
“My werewolf used earth magic.” Stiles curled closer to Derek. “Go to sleep, babe. You’ll be fine in the morning.”
John looked down at the body of a girl he’d known for a long time. “She was in Stiles’ classes since kindergarten. How do I tell her parents?”
It was early Sunday morning and a jogger found the body on the school lacrosse field.
“Looks like the same type of wounds on the boy.”
John hated to do this, but his department was at its wits end. ‘Stiles, I need you and Derek to join me at the County morgue. ASAP.’
The body was recovered and taken to the County Medical Examiner’s Office. Derek and Stiles were waiting there. “Dad, why are we here?”
“Son…I have bad news.” John pulled Stiles close and led them down to the exam rooms where the body was being readied for examination. “Stiles, I hate to ask. I need you to look at the body with your and Derek’s skills. But, son, it’s Heather.”
The bottom fell out of Stiles’ stomach. “Sweet Heather…why?”
John shrugged and led them into the room. Stiles’ eyes glistened with unshed tears as we saw his friend. Derek pulled him tight and whispered, “You don’t have to do this.”
“Yes, yes I do. For her. For everyone.” Stiles moved closer and frowned. “Something is not right.” He opened up his Sight and looked over the body and frowned. He put a hand above her and closed his eyes to look deeper with inner sight. “Oh dear God. She was a virgin sacrifice. Is the first body still here?”
John nodded and pulled out the body. Derek looked over Stiles’ friend and the other body. “I smell traces of magic and little else, including what should be her scent. Something erased it.”
“Exactly,” Stiles added. “I’m not an expert, but these souls were yanked out. The murder is something of a ritual used to do something to the soul.” Stiles looked upward and sighed. “This isn’t just black magic, but this is something on another level. Death, violent death, pain, terror, all have different kinds of power, but this…this is something else.” Stiles took off to the restroom.
Derek frowned. “I’ll look after him. Be careful, I don’t need to tell you how bad this looks.” He found Stiles in the restroom wiping his mouth.
“We need to find someone who knows about this,” Stiles muttered. “We can’t wing this.”
The Sheriff’s office was buzzing with activity for all the wrong reasons. John looked at the clock and right at 9:00 he saw the front doors open and Christian Campbell walk in flanked by two lackeys. “Typical,” he muttered.
John made his way to the Interrogation Room and nodded as Christian came into the room. “Thank you for volunteering to join me this morning.”
“Seems like you have a huge mess on your hands, sheriff.”
“What would you know about that, Mr. Campbell?” John asked as he leaned back.
Christian smiled and shrugged. “I read the news. And I know what to look for.”
“What are you doing here, Campbell? You and your boys are from Ohio and Illinois, Beacon Hills, California is a long way away from there.”
“Family business brought me here. But to cut to the chase, I don’t know anything about the boy that was murdered. But I have a good idea who did it.”
John barked a laughed. “You know nothing about the murder, but you know who did it. Sounds awfully contradictory to me. Why don’t you tell me what you do know since you have this all solved already.”
Campbell leaned back and shrugged. “If you’re going to take that attitude then how do I know that you’ll believe me?”
“We’re going to have to see what you say first before I’ll even give you the benefit of the doubt.”
“Here goes nothing.” Christian smiled, “What do you know about werewolves?”
“She lived down the street from me,” Erica said as she wiped her eyes. Heather was one of the few who never made fun of her when she had epilepsy. “Who would want to kill her?”
Boyd pulled her into a hug as the word spread through the school that a second classmate was dead. Kyle wasn’t someone who hung with a specific crowd, but he had friends.
Lydia frowned and looked over some things on her IPad. She handed it to Jackson and shook her head. “This is not good. I have what information we’ve collected so far here, but we don’t have much on ritual murders.”
“How many books aren’t scanned yet?” Jackson asked. “We haven’t touched the Library yet.”
“With good reason,” Danny said. “We wanted to organize it as we put it together. The rest of the house will be easy compared to the Library and the work rooms.”
“Then we open boxes and find what we need,” Stiles said abruptly. “Perfect is the enemy of good,” he quoted. “In this case people are being killed and maybe, in the stacks of books we’ve never even looked at, there might be answers!”
“Stiles!” Lydia barked. “We get it. But we’re starting with nothing.”
“Not nothing.” Stiles pulled out his phone and quickly typed out a response. “Jackson, we’re leaving!”
“What? We still have two classes and one of them is with Harris.” Jackson looked around and frowned. “What? I may not be top five like three of you are but I am top ten. And I would like to stay that way.”
“We’re going. I already texted dad and told him that we have an errand to run and won’t be home until later.”
“Why are you making me drive to UC Davis?” Jackson frowned. “You’re taking this brother thing a little too seriously.”
“You have a faster more reliable car than I do,” Stiles countered. “I have an appointment with a Father Laughlin who teaches some mythology class there.”
“You’re shitting me? A Catholic priest is teaching a class on mythology?”
Stiles chuckled, “Jax, he’s a Jesuit and those are some of the most educated people on the planet. That’s why the Paranet people directed me there.”
Jackson ignored Stiles and turned up the volume on his radio. An hour later they pulled up to campus and the boys made their way to the Humanities Department. Their wait was minimal before they were shown to a cramped, crowded, tiny office. Father Laughlin was not what Stiles expected. In front of him was a mountain of a man in a Roman collar.
“Father Laughlin? I’m Stiles Stilinski and this is Jackson Whittemore. I need to talk to you.”
“Ah yes, I know why you’re here. Please close the door.” Laughlin pointed at the two tiny chairs in his office. “It is intriguing the request and how it arrived. Officially the Church frowns upon supernatural activity. There is a small network inside the Church, and has been for centuries, in the know. The message said it was urgent.”
Stiles pulled out his tablet and keyed up the images he was allowed to have. “We have two murders up in Beacon Hills that look ritualistic.” He handed over the tablet and let the priest look at them.
Laughlin took a deep breath after looking at the images. “Let’s put all our cards on the table. I know something about you but not much. To my senses you are a young mage with potential and you are a werewolf.”
Jackson sputtered for a second. “How did you know that?”
A deep barrel-chested laughed greeted them. “I have been at this for longer than you think. I’m a Jesuit, its part of my job to know things or learn them. I am part of a secret order inside the Church to guard against the supernatural. It grants us certain insights over time.
“These look like ritual killings, but there is something you aren’t telling me.”
Stiles nodded. “The souls of both bodies were harmed, damaged, or stolen in this attack.”
“Something removed their scents also is what our Alpha said,” Jackson added.
“Ritualistic murders with the emphasis on the soul,” Laughlin muttered as his face took on a vacate look. “I’m not the expert on such dark magic and that is what this is. But if I know my rituals then a third murder will happen soon.”
Stiles visibly deflated. “We feared that.”
“I do know some people who are far more experienced with such things and I will contact them, but in my group of friends don’t expect rapid responses.”
“We should head back,” Jackson said as he stood up.
“As soon as I know something I’ll contact you,” Laughlin added.
Stiles moved to the door and then paused. “Do you know about Enochian symbols?”
Laughlin laughed deeply again. “Yes, I am rather well versed in that subject.”
Without missing a beat, Stiles pulled his jeans and underwear down enough to show the priest the symbol on his hip. Jackson groaned behind him. “Do you know what this might mean?”
Again, Laughlin laughed and this time he had to grab his sides to he laughed so much. “You got that the night of the Red Court didn’t you?”
“It is a personal angelical sigil and I think I know who it belongs to. That I can email to you when I find it somewhere in this mess.”
“You don’t know?” Jackson asked with a frown on his face.
“I think I know, but you’ll want proof.”
Given Stiles’ life, he had to ask, “That bad?”
“Bad is not the term I would use. Intriguing comes to mind first.”
Jackson waved at the priest and drug Stiles out of the office. “Why do I have a feeling this is going to bite us in the ass?”
“Because that is what happens to us.”
John paced in the living room of his house. He’d texted Stiles to come directly home and not to Hale Manor. His son and his ward took off with a simple text and that simply wasn’t going to fly. He heard the Porsche pull up and if that wasn’t the weirdest thing in a long line of them he didn’t know what was.
He put on his ‘stern dad’ look and watched the door to open. He hid his grin as Stiles ground to a halt and Jackson ran him over.
“Stiles, Jackson, please take a seat.”
“I can explain!”
The look on Jackson’s face was priceless. “I thought you said you told him where we were going!”
“Yes, a simple text saying ‘we were doing something without asking if it was okay.’ With me or with his alpha.”
Jackson’s glare at Stiles was even better, John thought.
“Stiles! If you got me in trouble so help me…”
“Yes, but not to the extent my son is. Jackson, you just have two days detention for leaving school early. Stiles has detention all week and will be washing pack cars this weekend.”
“But,” started Stiles to protest but he stopped. “It will have to be the following weekend. I’m building the wards on Saturday with the full moon. I need all my energy.”
John smiled. “I’ll let Derek handle that. Now, what did you find out?”
“Oh no, you can’t punish us for working on the investigation and then expect us to hand over information! It doesn’t work like that!” Stiles crumpled at the look his dad was giving him. “Fine! But that priest is going to have to get back to us and we can expect another murder like the previous two.”
John sighed, “Definitely not what I wanted to hear.”
The dread John had felt since Stiles announced that another murder was almost a given came to fruition as he walked behind the school again. Two of his deputies were already there.
“This way sir.”
The crunch of leaves made him wince as he looked down on the girl, dead from the same causes as the other two. “Damn.”
John watched as they took all the photos they needed to document the crime scene. He looked around, but it was dark now and all the details obscured in shadow.
“Get the body out of here. We’ll look around in the morning. This is now a serial killer for sure.”
Marin Morrell walked down the halls of the school with a purpose. Two of the students were dead and her dreams gave her a feeling of dread. Two conversations with Alan Deaton had not soothed her nerves. She knew the students and knew they were virgins. Nothing good had ever happened when virgin sacrifices were involved to her knowledge. Her eyes narrowed on her target as she walked into the Teacher’s Lounge at lunch.
“What do you know, Adrian?” she demanded.
The science teacher rolled his eyes at her and ignored her. The sudden yank of his tie made him answer. “Are you insane? There are other teachers around.”
“Yes, but none are here yet. What do you know?” she locked eyes with him and wanted to peer deep in his head, but she knew she lacked the strength to win that battle.
“If you are referring to the murders then I can’t help you; I know nothing.”
Morrell was going to continue, but the door opened and the new teacher, Jennifer Blake, walked in. She pulled back and greeted the English teacher, “Hi.” She turned back to Harris and frowned. “I’ll talk to you later.”
Harris rolled his eyes and looked at Blake for a long moment. “Have we met before?”
Jennifer shrugged. “No idea, but you’re not my type.”
“I wasn’t hitting on you. You’re not my type either.” He stood up and went to leave, but something stirred in the air for a moment. He narrowed his eyes and looked at her again. “Did you say something?”
“No. Have a good day,” she said sweetly.
Harris walked out and into a waiting Morrell. “What do you want?”
She yanked his tie again and pulled him into a close empty class room. “Listen, you good for nothing neutered demon! If you do know something and are holding out I will make your life miserable!” She paused and looked around. “That said, does that new teacher strike you as strange?”
Harris straightened his attire and looked down at the counsellor. “I find all of you mortals strange.” He turned and stormed out of the room.
Marin paused and looked at the clock for a moment. “I’ll wait for now.”
The full moon was looming. The whole pack was in the Library unpacking boxes and moving them into various stacks. When John announced that another classmate, Emily, had been killed, it made the whole pack angry.
“How many books did you collect in New York, Derek?” whined Isaac. “There are another three boxes labelled Derek that are unopened.”
Derek looked up from the table he was sitting at where he was entering books into the database that Danny designed. “Never really counted, you heathen. Books are wonderful. What are all of you going to do if we lost power for an extended period of time?”
“I saw the designs, oh great and anachronistic alpha,” Lydia mocked. “We have solar power and a backup generator. We’ll live.”
Stiles ignored them as he looked over the books that Carlos had sent along with a few others he’d managed to get a hold of over the summer. “I really hope that Father Laughlin has some answers because this is a needle in a haystack.”
“But what a beautiful haystack it is,” Ethan said as he looked over the room. “This is simply stunning.”
“Danny, you’re losing your boyfriend to the library,” laughed Allison. “Better do something soon or he may never leave here.”
“I know how to distract Ethan, don’t worry about that.”
Cora pulled out a few books and sat across from Derek. “I see you’re still the closet geek big brother. Still the Dune fan that Peter made you?”
Derek looked up and sighed. “Some things never change, Cora.” He looked over at Peter and shook his head softly. “The best piece of advice ever I got from one of those books:
‘No matter how exotic human civilization becomes, no matter the developments of life and society nor the complexity of the machine/human interface, there always come interludes of lonely power when the course of humankind, depends upon the relatively simple actions of single individuals.’”
Peter walked over and smiled at the other Hales. “I always preferred:
‘Confine yourself to observing and you always miss the point of your own life. The object can be stated this way: Live the best life you can. Life is a game whose rules you learn if you leap into it and play it to the hilt. Otherwise, you are caught off balance, continually surprised by the shifting play. Non-players often whine and complain that luck always passes them by. They refuse to see that they can create some of their own luck.’
“Individual actions creating their own waves and those impact other actions.” Peter handed Cora another book. “Better than Nicolas Sparks.”
Across the room, Lydia’s head shot up. “Oh no you don’t!” Jackson hid his laugh as he turned and buried his face into Isaac’s shoulder. “The Notebook is one of the best books and stories ever told. Don’t you dare disparage it!”
Peter arched an eyebrow at Lydia’s tirade. “Merely making the point that wisdom is where one finds it.”
“Can we please focus!” Erica demanded. “People are dying and we have to do something!”
Boyd gave Erica’s shoulder a squeeze. “We’re looking, but we can’t rush out and make this worse.”
The pack looked over at them and went back to working hoping that they could find something.
“Stiles are you sure about this?” Derek asked with a pleading tone in his voice. “We can wait or call someone to help.”
“No, we have to do this tomorrow,” Stiles responded. “We have some defenses because it’s the forest, but I have to get those wards up. We’ve been here a week and that is enough to establish residence for a small threshold.”
“I don’t want you biting off more than you can chew.” Derek plopped down into one of the chairs in their private sitting room. “This is a much larger house than the loft or your dad’s place.”
Stiles sat down next to Derek and took a hold of one of his hands. “You will anchor me and be the source of my power; you and the whole pack. The wards won’t be tied to me, but to the power below through the pack bonds. Trust me, it will be fine.”
“Of course I trust you, but I also know that sometimes you take on more than you should to prove to yourself, and us, that you can.” Derek squeezed his hand. “You know best in this matter and I’ll leave it to you.”
Stiles nodded. “The whole pack needs to be here before sundown. I’ll start shortly after that.”
It was the night of the first full moon since the pack moved in the week prior. Stiles stood in the middle of the broad entrance hallway. Derek was in the basement almost directly beneath him with Peter almost above him on the second floor and Cora above them both on the third. The rest of the pack fanned out across the manor with Jackson in the Sun Room and Scott in the Music Room.
Slowly Stiles opened his mind and connection to Derek and through him linked down to the magic of the forest and its ley lines. Power welled into him as he pulled the rest of the pack into communion. His senses expanded as he felt all the totems, items, sigils carved into beams, runes stamped into the steel, all of the gifts, all of the various energies circled in his mind. The nascent threshold of the manor glimmered in his mind’s eye. Reaching down, he found the energies he and Derek unleashed on Midsummer’s Night. Pulling on them, letting them flow, they settled along the threshold; the memories of dozens of decades of the Hale family’s residence in the forest. The threshold was both old and new anchored by the living Hales in the house. The magic of the forest now considered him a Hale as well.
Stiles smiled and again gathered power. His hands high over his head, his long elegant fingers danced as he began to weave out power towards the threshold; the foundation of the protective wards. Sweat gathered on his brow and began to flow along the contours of his muscles. All of his considerable attention was focused on the magic flowing through him. The pack steadied him as he sent out various spells into the wards. Physical, psychic, magical, elemental defenses flew from his mind and into the fabric of the wards. Energy moved out from the manor and along the designated homestead fences. The first line of defense was being spun out incorporating the energy of the forest directly. He pulled back and wove defenses along the perimeter of the house, taking in the carriage house which served as Peter’s apartment.
Stiles fingers ached, his head hurt, his muscles screamed from the rigidity of the spell-casting. Everything he’d designed had been spun out and woven. Gathering all his remaining energy and concentration, he pulled on the pack and Derek in particular and focused. The sigil of protection that saved him more than once formed in his mind’s eye and he pulled everything towards completion. He slammed his hands together over head and it was an audible snap as all the spells locked into place. Stiles sagged against the wall and whimpered at the pain.
“That was very impressive,” Lydia said as she pushed Stiles into one of the sofas that lined the hall. She gave him a smile and rubbed the back of his head. “Are you okay?”
Derek walked up and looked pretty worn out as well. He served as the primary channel and anchor for the spells. He was the key to the power below the house as well as the forest. He plopped down next to Stiles and pulled him into a hug. “And the full moon is just beginning.”
Scott walked in and fell onto the floor in front of the alpha pair. “Even with the full moon I don’t feel the pull as much.”
“That’s because Stiles just burned off all the excess energy,” Peter stated as he walked down with all the pack from the upper floors.
Erica gave Stiles a huge smile and handed him a glass of water. “I remember when you did these at the loft, but this was…”
“Intense,” added Isaac. “I can feel them.”
“That’s because all of us are keyed to them,” Stiles said while leaning into Derek. “I feel like I could sleep a week.”
Stiles was still drained Monday morning when he got a call from Father Laughlin. “Hi, yes, I can arrange for a meeting with my dad and Mr. Hale on Wednesday afternoon.”
“Mr. Stilinski, it is imperative that you understand the danger that now roams through Beacon Hills. How it came to be there I don’t know but if I am correct then we are going to need help.”
“Father, what is it?” Stiles was worried if the experienced priest was rattled.
“Not over the phone. I’ll see you in two days.”
“Wait! Do I need to do anything in the meantime?” Stiles really hated playing catchup when it came to supernatural bad guys.
“No. We must confirm the findings first. To do anything at this point might tip our hand. We’ll play it safe for now.”
Stiles dropped his head into his hands and groaned. “What the hell has come to town now?”
“Sheriff Stilinski, I’m Special Agent Camille Adams and this is Special Agent Sam Winchester. For the second time this year your county has popped up on our radar.”
“And this brought the FBI to my doorstep? The State Attorney General already investigated everything. What brings the FBI into this?”
Agent Adams sat back and smiled. “Let’s say the nature of your incidents has raised flags in some particular places. Such things aren’t allowed to go unchecked anymore.”
“We have persons of interest already.”
“We know,” she said. “But they tend to be part of the solution more often than the problem.”
John sat back and looked between the agents. “So you’re aware of their particular brand of justice?”
Adams shrugged, “It’s come to the Bureau’s attention in the past. In fact that is partially why we are here. An incident in Chicago left the FBI with a nasty taste in our mouth when it comes to specific issues. However, it has been brought to our attention that a very special case exists in Beacon Hills.”
Leaning across his desk, John narrowed his eyes, “What special case?”
“We’d like to speak to Derek Hale.”
John stifled his groan. It was shaping up to be a hell of a Monday.
The ride over to the Hale lands was quick, but for John this wasn’t pleasant. He made the trip a few times under horrible circumstances. He chuckled as he found the gates to the driveway closed. He was aware of some of the security features that the homestead had and the gate was one of them. He pulled off the road and onto the expanded shoulder. He waited for the agents to join him.
The walkway up to the house was clear, but also unique. He had no idea how they did it, but two trees interlaced overhead and to the actual walk-in gate. It was open and led to a series of terraces back and forth over two manmade waterfalls. The lamp posts also added a great feature for the walkway to the house.
“They really didn’t spare any expense on this did they?” asked Agent Adams.
“After everything that family has been through, no one in the town was complaining much about the rerouting of the running trails. They paid for new lights and made the jogging trails level and better on the knees.” John smiled at the agents. “Besides, they had the money to spend so why complain.”
They came to the last terrace before the large front porch. A fountain that was the source for both creeks was in the center before stairs divided to the front porch. Large planters full of plants flanked the area. “Though it is beautiful,” John added.
The front doorbell chimed through the entrance hall as Stiles ran to get it. Derek and Peter were waiting in the Sun Room for the uninvited guests. The gates to the driveway remained closed so the Feebs and his dad were forced to park on the road and walk up the front walkway, the long involved front walkway. That was Peter’s suggestion as a small but important power play.
Stiles opened the door and looked at the three people outside. His eyes narrowed when he saw the woman. Instantly something set him on edge. The taller agent was handsome, but nothing in particular made his teeth grind. “Yes,” was all he said.
“Stiles, we’re here to see Derek,” John said with a long sigh.
“Through the doors on your right, through the Sitting Room and into the Sun Room. I must state for the record you are not welcome here, no invitation has been issued or granted. You are here to see the Hales and that is it,” he said directly to the FBI Agents.
Agent Adams bristled. “Why no invitation?”
“I think we both know that without an invitation you lose most of your mojo. I’m shocked that the government employs a witch.”
“Smart boy.” She entered the house and shuddered for a second before moving with the sheriff and her partner through to the Sun Room.
Stiles followed and closed the door to the Sun Room. He sat down on the couch opposite them and waited for the agents to speak.
Derek walked in from the opposite direction and stopped. “Sam?”
Stiles turned back and then looked at the tall agent who rose from his seat. “Sam? Sam, Sam, Sam…Oh MY GOD! Sam! That Sam?” New York Sam?”
“Hi Derek, been a long time.” The tall agent smiled.
“Yes, three years since you left for Washington. I guess it was for the FBI.” Derek motioned for the agents to sit. “What brings you here?”
“The murders in Beacon Hills over the last week or so have raised all kinds of flags for us,” Special Agent Adams stated. “There were a series of events beginning a year ago that had us interested and then they stopped, but a serial killer with supernatural overtones will bring us every time.”
“But why does that bring you here?” Derek asked as he sat down next to Stiles. “I have no knowledge about the murders.”
Sam frowned. “That we know, but this was a perfect opportunity to talk to you and see how much you know…in general.”
“How did the FBI come into following supernatural events?” Peter asked as he served water to the agents and sheriff. “The Bureau tends to be rather conservative most of the time.”
Agent Adams laughed. “Actually, if you’d believe it, the Bureau isn’t the agency most interested in the supernatural. It isn’t the DOD either, but the Library of Congress…”
“Get the fuck out!” Stiles yelled. “No way!”
Sam laughed and shrugged. “Knowledge is power, real power in the supernatural world. There is a Special Archivist group inside the Library, and has been there since Jefferson’s time, that has followed events of supernatural origin. But the SA asks for help from time to time. However the Bureau has been more active since an incident in Chicago almost a decade ago.”
Adams nodded. “A group of Agents and a Special Investigations Unit with Chicago PD were wiped out by a bunch of lycanthropes. These were magically created, not like the Hales or most packs. Like I told the sheriff, you are a special case.”
Derek narrowed his eyes and looked at the agents. “Why?”
Agent Adams pointed at Stiles and then motioned around the room. “We have some ‘contacts’ with the supernatural world. It is all unofficial. The Special Archivists are the ones who really keep tabs and know what is going on. Mr. Stilinski here is on some radars as are a few of your pack-mates.”
Peter sat down near Stiles and frowned at the agents. “That doesn’t explain why you are here.”
“God, I hate attorneys,” Sam muttered.
“You are one,” Derek countered. “Let’s back up. The Library of Congress is responsible for keeping track of supernatural events in America? Is that correct?”
Sam looked at Adams pleadingly. She sighed, shrugged, and then nodded. Sam took a deep breath. “It is known that Peter Hale has had extensive contacts with the Sidhe Courts and other supernatural agencies. He’s considered an ambassador of sorts actually. Your family was afforded a special honor and protected by one of the Courts under what are called the Unseelie Accords.”
Peter rolled his eyes. “I am aware of these things. We have held such consideration for over two centuries not that it helped seven years ago.”
“That is part of why we are here. Hunters are in the area and we know that your status has been returned to you by one of the signatories of the Accords.” Sam frowned for a moment. “The FBI can’t officially get involved…”
Derek held up his hands. “Wait! The Library of Congress is the lead agency on all of this?”
Peter leaned over to Stiles and whispered, “I think we broke Derek.”
Stiles looked at Peter and nodded, “Yeah, I’m with him on this. Because the FBI just said that Librarians are in charge of all the supernatural stuff and if they are anything like Giles then we are screwed.”
Agent Adams sighed. “The reason we are here is because things changed recently. Your family is back and that means something. And we know that a hunter family was heading this way to check out just how powerful the Hale family had become.”
John finally spoke up, “They’re here now. They already confronted Derek once.”
“We are looking into the ritual murders because those are always bad omens. But we are using that as an excuse to make contact. You’ve been under suspicion before, but this time we’ll simply say we wanted you on the lookout since you have so much open private land and some of it does bump up against the school,” Adams added.
Derek scowled, “I do not want my name or my family’s drug through the mud again.”
“I wouldn’t do that to you or let the Bureau,” Sam interjected. “But we are stuck between a rock and a hard spot. Since the Chicago incident, the Bureau really takes things like this seriously but the Archivists wanted us to meet you because you’re a special case.”
Adams held up her hand. “I understand your position Mr. Hale. We’ll be in town for a few days. In fact the sheriff here needs to take us to the morgue so we can examine the bodies before they’re released to the families. We’d like to talk again and maybe share some things that might help you understand why the Special Archivist exists.”
Derek stood up and offered to show them out. John shrugged and Derek nodded at him. After he closed the door, Derek leaned against it. He arched an eyebrow at Stiles. “She was a witch?”
“The air around her reminded me of Morrell. Your friend, Sam, though reads all human.” Stiles smirked at Derek for a moment.
“I detect a hint of jealousy in your tone,” Derek teased.
“Then I’m doing it wrong because there should be more than a hint.”
Derek laughed and pulled Stiles close. “And yet I fail to see why you should be jealous at all. If it were a competition then you won going away, like the ’99 Yankees.”
“Oh good God, no! Mets fan here. Never bring up the Yankees!”
Danny sat back in his office outside the server room. The rooms were on the basement level, but the design and natural rock formation in the server room kept all the equipment very cool. His ‘office’ was actually at the end of a large conference room. He waited for the rest of the ‘team’ to join him.
“Have I been to this room?” Jackson asked as he walked in. “In fact have I been everywhere in this place yet?”
“No and no,” Derek replied as he led Stiles, Lydia, and Peter into the room. “Okay, Danny, the floor is yours.”
On the table they were sitting around, Danny typed something on it and slid the image to the display on the wall.
“Camille Adams, age forty-six, single. Masters in Psychology and Behavioral Sciences. She’s a profiler.” Danny slid two more data grids up to the display when he looked up at the gang. “What?” They all had incredulous looks on their faces.
“How are you doing that?” Lydia asked gob smacked.
Danny laughed. “I have connections and you’d be amazed at some of the technology that gets developed and never fully explored. Two of the tables in the library are equipped like this one.” He glared at Derek for a second. “Though one is all natural in honor of the luddite in the room.”
“So glad I could expand your vocabulary over the summer,” Derek quipped. “Continue please.”
“Ms. Adams has two sisters who are very active in the paranormal community. One of them is very active in a New England coven. Parents are deceased, but the mother used to own a New Age bookstore in Boston.”
Stiles sat back and nodded. “Totally called that she was a witch.”
Another image replaced Agent Adams’. “Sam Winchester, age twenty-nine, single. JD and undergraduate work at Stanford. How he got assigned to this group is unknown. Both parents are alive and living in St. Louis. He has one brother, a mechanic, living with a wife and two kids in Kansas City.”
Stiles turned and looked at Derek. “You know him or knew him, what can you add to that?”
Derek thrummed his fingers on the table and sighed. “He’s incredibly smart. I’d say between you and Lydia level of smart. In the few months we knew each other I always got the feeling he was trying to figure me out, but we were both busy.
“You got involved in this because Scott was bit. Maybe he was introduced to this world in some way like that?”
Danny shrugged and started typing. In front of Stiles and Lydia popped up keyboards and screens on the conference table. “Do your own searches, when you have something just slide it up to the main screen.”
“Where’s mine?” Jackson asked. “I know how to research too you know. Just because I’m not top five like some people in the room.”
Derek chuckled, “It’s my understanding that you are sitting at number six right now.”
“Tell that to these assholes. Valedictorian and Salutatorian over there and this one sitting at number four. Two spaces above me.” Jackson huffed and smiled at his best friend when his own console appeared. “Thanks number four.”
“You’re welcome number six.”
Lydia glared at them, “Well number one is telling all you losers to shut up.”
Peter cleared his throat. “Summa cum laude Stanford and number two in my law class. When you top that, call me.”
Derek glared at the research team staring at him. “Cum laude from Columbia and if not for coming back here I’d be at Harvard right now. Plus, Lord Hale, remember. I think that trumps all of that.”
“Seriously, that’s what you’re going with?” scoffed Stiles.
All eyes turned to the main display when Lydia slid something up there. “Look at this. When Agent Winchester was a senior in high school there were six unexplained deaths including one of his closest friends.” Three yearbook pictures joined the display. “Blake Stevens was killed by unknown assailant.”
“The death report shows significant blood loss,” Danny added. “There are no photos to examine though.”
Jackson leaned back and rolled his eyes. “Has anyone thought to ask him? Room full of werewolf lie detectors is available for questioning.”
“Where is the fun in that?” Lydia asked. “We can use all this information to cross examine him and find out what we need to know.”
“They want to meet with us again. I’ll see what Sam says then.” Derek stood up and grinned. “We have two of these in library? Might have to have a poetry reading in there some day.”
“Not in this lifetime,” Peter growled.
Scott and Allison were trying out the new Thai restaurant first so the pack didn’t have to. At least that was the excuse Scott gave Allison for their date. Since school started things had been a bit weird between them, but then again Scott knew that things were always a bit weird between them.
“You know it really sucks that Jackson’s parents pretty much left him,” Allison said as she made a lettuce roll. “Lydia would love to talk to him, but he’s avoiding everyone except Stiles and Derek.”
“I don’t blame him. We all bet on his love life, he’s living with Stiles, I think he really wanted it to work out with Danny and it didn’t.” Scott paused and looked around. “Allison, I think there are hunters out on the street.”
She looked out and nodded. But two people walked in that drew Scott’s attention instantly. “What?” she whispered.
The subtle shake of his head told her that he couldn’t say anything yet.
He listened for a moment.
‘We’re going to have to tread carefully. Hale is the key to the whole situation. We need to remain neutral or this is going to explode.’
‘Nothing about this feels right, Camille. Make contact, assess the situation, and observe. There is a murderer on the loose and we need to focus on that.’
‘Sam, we’ll do what we can, but our first order is to maintain the peace. This is volatile enough and has implications well beyond anything the SA has seen before. They’re nervous and they’re never nervous.’
Scott heard enough. “Time to go.”
Allison nodded and grabbed her things. “What?”
Scott left some money on the table and smiled as they went outside. He spotted one of the hunter SUVs down the street. “We need to hurry.”
Quickly they were in her Civic and off towards her house. Scott noticed that they were being followed. “Head to Stiles’ house. I have key.” Scott sighed happily when he saw both Jackson’s and Stiles’ cars out front.
“So how do we get home now?” Allison asked as she pulled up to the Stilinski house.
Scott looked down the street and noticed the SUV was gone. “Huh? Let’s say hi and have Stiles drive behind us to get you home. He can drop me off after that. Jackson will go with so he’s not alone.”
Allison agreed. “You also need to tell us what you heard that spooked you.”
It was early Tuesday afternoon when Father Laughlin arrived at the Hale residence. He’d managed to get up to Beacon Hills a day earlier than expected. His old sedan pulled up to the gates as they swung open and he drove up the meandering driveway. The large parking pad surprised him as he went around another turn. The six car garage built into the hill with the carriage house over it made for an imposing edifice.
“Welcome, Father Laughlin.”
The priest turned and was greeted with the site of a young handsome well built man dressed casually. “Hello,” he offered back.
“I’m Derek Hale. Stiles will be here soon. If you’ll follow me we can get you comfortable in the Library.”
Laughlin was impressed by the house and the library truly called to him. The walls are lined with bookcases except for the wall between two double doors, that one had a large flat screen on it and a thin table under it. The middle of the room had three tables and there were three large plush couches in there as well.
“Most impressive,” he said when Derek walked back in. “Some very interesting titles are here as well.”
Derek smiled. “It was a collective effort. Would you like some tea, coffee, water, we have a variety of soft drinks?”
The priest chuckled, “Whatever you are having.”
Derek went back to the kitchen as he did he could hear the commotion of running down along the back staircase. He shook his head as Stiles emerged looking rushed and sweaty. “Hey sourwolf! Lydia, Jackson, and Danny are right behind me. Umm, Isaac and Aiden want to join us too so I said okay. The rest of the pack wasn’t too keen on research so they’re going to play in the woods.”
Derek grunted but said nothing as he brought in the tray with his and Father Laughlin’s drinks. He arched an eyebrow when Peter went to say something instead the older wolf hit Aiden on the shoulder and motioned towards the kitchen. The twin groaned and grabbed Danny to help with other refreshments.
“I’ve been in this business many years and I’ve never really come across a werewolf pack. It really does seem like a large extended family.”
The other wolves returned and the research team settled in. “Hello, to all of you. I’m Father Jason Laughlin, SJ. I looked into those ritual murders and the leading theory isn’t pleasant. We think it is a ‘soul-devourer’ of possibly Egyptian origin. This is ancient demonic lore.”
Peter flailed for second. “Is this Egyptian Book of the Dead stuff?
“Yes, but the key is the taking of the souls. Souls are very powerful and if this ritual is taking them then it is for the purpose. Souls embody everything that makes a person, a person. It is the center of choice and free will. And it is a desecration if they are being taken after the body has been killed.” Laughlin pulled out a few copies of some notes. “I’m concerned what this could mean.”
Stiles leaned forward. “So this is about something bigger.”
“Much bigger. If it was just blood magic, then that is bad enough. It is stored energy to be unleashed in a spell. But hording souls, that is gathering power on a different plane with far greater intentions. Nasty, nasty stuff.”
Derek frowned and looked away for a moment. “Would the FBI know about this?”
Father Laughlin scoffed. “Not even. They would look for a serial killer and never know what kind of power they were dealing with. If they did capture this person doing these things and kept him in prison…”
Peter and Derek exchanged a look. Stiles watched it and caught Derek’s attention and nodded. Derek rubbed his chin. “Even if the FBI was being directed by a Special Archivist.”
“Now that changes things though it depends on how much these agents know.” He shifted in his chair and looked over the pack while rubbing his graying beard. “Life has a way of throwing wrenches into plans or as we Jesuits love to say, Shit happens.” He paused to gather his thoughts again.
“If the agents are being directed by the Archivist then they are being directed by the Venatori. An ancient order that tries to fight the darker elements of the supernatural, but they also try to limit the knowledge of the supernatural. Knowledge is power. Elements of the Church take issue with that from time to time.”
Stiles looked up, “But I thought the Church did the same thing.”
Laughlin looked up and said a silent pray. “I am a member of the Ordo Malleus. As a Jesuit, I seek knowledge and as a member of the Ordo I seek to protect those that cannot protect themselves. The true nature of the Ordo was misapplied and developed a bad reputation for spiritual purity and was rather dogmatic.”
Peter arched an eyebrow. “You are referring to the Inquisition.”
“Yes, and over the years the Ordo and the Venatori have shared goals and been at each other for certain methods. I doubt very much that your agents know anything about the Venatori and may have orders they don’t understand. The Venatori are notorious for doing that.”
Jackson looked around and sighed. “I am so confused.”
Laughlin laughed. “I would be surprised if you weren’t. There is far more to history than you’ve been told and part of that is directly related to the Venatori and other supernatural powers. You need to be warned: all groups have an agenda. Sometimes it will coexist with your own and other times they will be at odds.”
“And what about your agenda?” Lydia asked.
“That’s a fair question. Two of your members came to me for help and I am doing so. It is my duty to protect those that cannot protect themselves and you are a way for me to achieve that goal. But more so, I think I am going to be here to offer some guidance where it is lacking.
“Stiles has the makings of a future Warden. This pack is powerful, but very young. The Wardens and you have a lack of what we call institutional memory. There is little experience to guide your actions; much of your knowledge will come from books. This can be dangerous. All I can say is that it feels like I was meant to meet you. Everything else after that is up to us. That is the price of Free Will.”
Silence reigned in the library for a few moments while everyone digested what Laughlin said. Finally Isaac spoke up, “So…Egyptian soul eater, huh? Just another day in Beacon Hills.”
Aiden turned to Isaac and frowned. “What the hell did I miss before I moved here?”
Stiles looked over at them and frowned. Then he remembered, “What about the sigil on my hip?”
“Now that is interesting. It appears incomplete still, but it can be one of four marks and they’re quite interesting.” Laughlin slid a piece of paper over to Stiles.
Stiles’ eyes bugged out when he looked down at the sigils and names. “Are you kidding me? These are my choices?”
“To be honest, I doubt it is Azriel or Michael. That leaves Raphael or…”
“Gabriel,” Stiles continued.
“Wait,” Lydia yelled as she looked at the images the priest gave to Stiles. “The sigil is from an Archangel?”
Peter leaned back and started laughing. “Oh, what have we gotten ourselves into?”
Early the next morning, Derek got out of bed and looked out the windows of his bedroom and watched the rain fall. He needed answers and the only person who would be able to give them was Sam. He didn’t trust Camille, but he at least knew Sam and that was enough to get a read on the overall situation. He hated politics, but he was now stuck in the middle of a situation he didn’t understand.
His thoughts swirled as he went to take a shower to clear his head. White Court, White Council, Summer Court, Wardens, Sidhe, Venatori, Vampires, Soul eaters, all of it made his head ache. “When the hell did I sign up for this?”
Finally he made his way to the garage and he grabbed the keys to the Camaro. He deserved to let loose a bit and relax as he drove to town. Peter was going to meet him at the Sheriff’s Office to talk to the FBI agents again. They needed answers.
Derek frowned as Sam and Camille walked into the conference room fifteen minutes late. He knew Peter would hide his annoyance better so Derek scowled openly. “You’re late.”
Sam frowned. “We had to join a conference call last second. What the hell bit you in the ass?”
Peter’s lips twitched at the comment, but he refrained from making a sarcastic comment. Derek stared at the agents for a few more moments before pulling out his phone.
“Derek, what the hell?”
“You avoided the question on Monday and I want an answer; what are you doing here? Because I heard you looked at the bodies for five minutes and that wouldn’t tell you anything.”
Agent Adams frowned. “The victims were killed with a three-fold ritual. They were virgins. Those two items together tell us this is a sacrifice.”
“Do you even have a clue what you’re looking for,” Peter snarled. “I expect better out of a trained profiler. Though what qualifications Mr. Winchester has to be part of your librarian henchmen group remains to be seen.”
Both agents moved backwards in their seats as though they had been slapped. Adams took a deep breath before speaking. “I find the tenor of this meeting to be very disturbing right now.”
“We find your presence in town to be duplicitous at best currently,” Peter countered. “You gave a reason concerning hunters which doesn’t ring true as a cover story and said you came to make contact with Derek as the real reason. Hunters are roaming the streets of Beacon Hills right now and you’ve done nothing to dissuade them. And as for contacting Derek, that meeting lacked any conviction. So, why are you here?”
“You are, Mr. Hale.” Camille Adams leaned over the table and met the werewolf’s gaze. “You were dead and now you’re back. That concerns us. But you don’t reek of dark magic like you should.”
Derek frowned. “Why do I get the impression that there is more going on here than you’re telling us?”
Sam cleared his throat. “History, as you probably know it, has been simplified. The reason red flags have been raised, comes down to a dark wizard known as Heinrich Kemmler. He was an extremely dangerous and power necromancer. He started World War I and was killed then, but managed to return and was a power behind Germany in World War II. It wasn’t until the Sixties that he was finally killed completely. But it took the combined power of the entire Senior Council, many of the Wardens, and a group known as the Brute Squad out of Archangel, Russia.
“However, there is no Brute Squad anymore, the Wardens are full of people my age or younger, and the Senior Council just spent a decade fighting a war with the Red Court. We needed to know if someone was practicing necromancy out here.”
Derek sat back and pondered all that information. “So how did you come to get involved in all this? She’s a witch so that’s obvious.”
Sam looked away for a few minutes and then stared at Derek. “When I was a senior in high school a Red Court vampire killed my best friend. It was part of some vendetta against his father. When I was a sophomore at Stanford, I had a very close call with a succubus. I started researching the crap out of things. Then after I graduated from law school I found out that my ex-boyfriend was a werewolf from a very prominent family.”
“Well at least he doesn’t sound bitter about you, Derek,” Peter laughed. He turned serious for a moment. “I am not a necromancer and I doubt the Summer Court would have anything to do with me if I was. Take it up with the demon that reincarnated me.”
“Fair enough,” Adams said. “What do you know about the murders?”
Derek paused for a moment deciding on how much information he should share. “Our magical experts think the ritual damaged and captured the victims’ souls. To what end they don’t know.”
“How…Who came up with that?” Sam demanded.
Peter leaned back, “A Jesuit priest.”
“Son of a bitch!” Adams yelled. “Black magic or blood magic is one thing, but that is a whole other level of evil. Damn! I know a shaman who can confirm, but I’ll trust this priest knows what he’s doing.”
The call came early in the evening. John listened and grabbed Stiles to join him. “Jackson, come with us just in case.”
John made the call to the FBI agents knowing they would want to see the crime scene up close. He wasn’t prepared for what greeted him on the basketball court at the high school. Where the fading Alpha mark had been painted large, on each line from the center was a man stretched out in a ritual killing of the Viking blood eagle. Blood was everywhere. The victims, grown men, hadn’t just been ritually killed, but other things had been done to the body. It was beyond perverse.
“How in the hell did this happen and they didn’t put up a fight?” John exclaimed. He watched as the agents came forward and cringed. He watched as Stiles moved closer to the scene. “Stay back, son.”
“Sheriff, this is beyond what the three original victims had done. This is a specific ceremony for enemies,” Agent Adams said.
Stiles took in the scene in front of him. Black magic and evil permeated the air. He wanted to get a read on the spells used, but his vision blurred. He tried to focus but everything became fuzzy. Suddenly he reached for Jackson to steady himself. He clutched his chest as pain radiated; he was too young for a heart attack. He stared ahead, vacantly, as the glyph for the containment spell appeared in his head. It glowed as he screamed and clutched his chest again.
Stiles’ knees buckled and he fell forward. His hearing, vision, everything went white. The containment glyph burned in front of his eyes and turned to ash. He could barely make out shadows in front of him. “Harris…” he tried to speak. His voice coming out in a strained whisper. “His containment spell…broken.” Darkness took him.
This was heavy in Dresden-verse.
Chapter 3: Losing My Mind
More questions than answers about the past.
“Hey Kiddo, long time no see."
Stiles looked over and sighed. It was his archangel watcher and if that wasn’t a kick in the pants. “Where am I?”
“Passed out, unconscious, lost to the world at the moment,” the archangel said with a smile. “But you’ll recover. I’m not breaking the rules by telling you it was the backlash from your spell being broken.”
“Who broke it?” Stiles asked. He was in the familiar white blank room. He couldn’t feel anything, but he recalled the pain before he passed out.
“That, I can’t tell you. You will need me far more in the future than for this minor item.”
Stiles frowned and then looked at the archangel again. “So you’re Gabriel.”
“That was more of a guess than an answer, but yes. And it took you long enough. Gave you that mark seven months ago and you’re just now figuring it out. Shame! Here I thought you were a brilliant modern detective to rival your hero, Batman. ”
“I’ve been busy,” Stiles replied defensively. “Besides it was incomplete for awhile there too so that doesn’t count. In fact, it’s still incomplete according to that priest.”
Gabriel smiled. “Not anymore. Stiles, all joking aside, what has just happened is a huge deal. I can’t give you anything to go on because that would be interfering. But I can tell you not to underestimate what has happened.”
“What can you tell me that doesn’t violate the rules,” Stiles muttered the air quotes around the word ‘rules’ hanging in the air.
“Kid, everything you think you know is simply that, a thought. The more you learn the more you find that you know less than you thought. I can give you this advice. Don’t get lost in the knowledge. You have a focus. You have a center. Keep them.” Gabriel walked over and winked. “This time, it’s going to hurt!” He put his finger on Stiles’ forehead and pushed.
Pain is the first thing Stiles recognized, followed by the feeling of being watched. He tried to sit up, but several hands kept him down. “Owww.”
“Finally returning to the land of the living.” It took Stiles a moment to place the voice as Deaton’s.
“How long?” his voice sounded broken to his own ears.
Stiles slowly sat up with the help of Deaton and Ethan. Lydia was standing against the wall looking around. She gave him a slight smile. “Nice of you to join the land of the living. Before you ask, Derek is with your dad at the crime scene. They say it’s different.”
“How so?” he managed again. He had an idea, but his head was reeling from the backlash and from his encounter with the archangel.
Deaton frowned, looking over Stiles at Lydia before continuing. “Blood magic, but Jackson said he could smell the pain of the men killed. Their scents were still there.”
“Stiles, what happened? Your dad said you said something, but no one caught it.” Lydia moved closer.
“The containment spell that bound Harris was broken. That is what hit me. Someone broke my spell.” Stiles managed to stand up with Ethan’s help. “You aren’t telling me something.”
“Stiles, the men killed were hunters,” Deaton said. “That isn’t likely to sit well with their friends still in town.”
“Shit,” he muttered. “We have to find out who did this or they will come after the pack as a simple matter of course.”
Deaton nodded. “That is the fear right now. Your father is dealing with it, but there are a lot of hunters in town.”
Agents Adams and Winchester continued to look around the school grounds searching for clues on how the three hunters got there and looked like they put up no struggle.
“Hale says there is no sign that this was like the virgin attacks,” Adams noted while typing on her phone.
“The sheriff trusts him, but the younger wolf with him rubs me the wrong way,” Sam said as he typed on his laptop and uploaded pictures to the FBI database.
“He’s a pretty boy rich kid who is athletic and smart; what’s to like?” She smiled at him. “Seems like your type if he were ten years older.”
“Please! And don’t make me laugh. You know I like tall, dark, and handsome.” Sam rolled his eyes. His phone chimed. “Bronson’s here.”
They walked out to greet a tall man in his early forties. He had straight jet black hair with only a few strands of silver. They motioned for the sheriff and two wolves to join them. “Dr. Bronson Keys, these are Sheriff John Stilinski, Alpha Derek Hale, and Jackson Whittemore. Guys, this is one of our experts.”
Bronson shook all their hands and laughed when Jackson’s touch lingered a bit too long. “I appreciate the look, but my wife would object.”
Jackson’s face fell looking mortified. Derek shook his head and fought a laugh. “You’re a shaman aren’t you?”
“Very good and the word is out on you too. To my inner sight you glow like a small star, now where is the murder site?”
The shaman walked around and examined it from every angle. “You’ll need a tox screen because while I sense dark magic and lots of blood magic, it looks like it was used after the victims were here. That suggests other agents were used to subdue them.”
Sam squatted next to Bronson. “I assume they died of their wounds.”
“No, they were all alive after their lungs were pulled out and their intestines spilt all over the place. The ritual kept them alive until it drained their life force, but the pain was unimaginable.” The shaman stood up and shuddered. “This is one of the nastier pieces of work I’ve ever seen and that is saying something. I worked in an ER for my residency.”
“How about magically?” Adams asked.
The shaman shook his head slowly. “This was a down and dirty blood ritual. All pain, suffering, and agony to raise the most power. This was for something nasty.”
Lydia drove Ethan and Stiles to the manor, it was safer and most of Stiles’ magical items were there now.
“You staying, Lyds?”
“I’ll stand watch tonight.” She smiled at him. “I figured out how to play with wards. I can’t change them, but I can activate them. Besides, it’s almost midnight. Thankfully we all keep clothes here now.”
They made their way to the living room and Stiles was instantly hugged by Aiden and then Isaac. “I’m okay guys.” Stiles spotted Peter and nodded. “It’s a school night, what are you doing up?”
“Well Stiles, considering I graduated from law school years ago, I don’t have a bed time,” Peter stated with a smirk on his face. “And I can get beauty sleep while all of you are enjoying the prison, I mean the lovely school known as Beacon Hills High.”
“You really are an ass,” Lydia snarled. “Derek felt the backlash through you and so we all felt some of it. Jackson was shaking when I talked to him. He’s coming here with Derek.”
Ethan moved past Stiles and patted his twin on the shoulder. “Stiles, sit, we’ll get you something to eat. The whole pack wanted to be here, but Derek wanted everyone to stay put.”
Peter sat down next to Stiles and looked him over. “The demon is free, you say? Will the wards hold up against him?”
Those words flowed into Stiles’ mind and made him inhale sharply. “I…I don’t know. They have the power source of the forest and ley lines. They should because they have multiple disciplines in them.”
“Calm down, Stiles, it was only a question. Having a demon on the loose is not something I think we should take lightly.”
“Excuse me, Uncle Peter,” Stiles snarked. “But I’m not taking it lightly given a few hours ago it felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest!”
“Stiles!” yelled Lydia. “Enough, we’ll deal. We always do. Derek and Jackson will be here soon and then we can make plans.”
Peter looked around and frowned. “I will contact your Jesuit friend. I get Fae magic and human magic, but spiritual magics – not a fan.”
Lydia frowned and moved closer to Peter. “Do not mess with the priest. We need him far more than he needs us.”
“I’ll be on my best behavior, princess.”
Derek flew through the house and into the living room. He spotted Stiles leaning against a walls talking to Ethan and Lydia. Before he could process it, he was taking his mate in his arms and hugging him close. “Are you okay?”
“I will be,” Stiles nuzzled under Derek’s chin.
“I felt your pain. Stiles, it almost broke me. If Isaac hadn’t been there I would have fallen down the stairs.” Derek kissed Stiles softly. “I wasn’t there to protect you and I swore I would.”
“Derek, I’m okay. There was nothing you could have done. Harris is loose and we need to focus on that.” Stiles tightened his hold on Derek.
“You two really are sickeningly sweet,” Lydia chuckled. “It’d make me sick if I didn’t approve. I’m staying here tonight even though Stiles can handle the wards. It’s too late to drive home.”
Derek hugged her tight and kissed her behind her ear. “Thank you,” he whispered.
“Not a problem.” She reached over and gave Jackson a hug. “Look at you coming into the role of protective brother.”
Jackson rolled his eyes and noticed the smiles on his pack-mates’ faces. “You’ll suck!”
Agents Adams and Winchester sat across the conference table at the Sheriff’s office from Christian Campbell and one of his associates. Sheriff Stilinski sat at the end of the table looking over notes.
“Three of my men are dead and I want to know what you’re doing about it,” Campbell opened while slamming his fist down on the table.
“There is more to this than meets the eyes, Mr. Campbell,” answered Agent Adams coolly. “We are not going to rush into anything and place more lives at risk.”
“Place at risk?” scoffed Campbell. “I already know who is responsible! Go after Derek Hale, he and his group of miscreants are responsible. Nothing more than rabid scum!”
“There is no evidence to suggest this was done by any pack, Campbell. In fact the ritual highly suggests a powerful dark mage of some kind. We are working…” Winchester was cut off with another fist pounding on the table.
“Don’t tell me what you think you know. I know for a fact that a pack of mongrels lives in this town and has brought nothing but trouble with them,” Campbell spat. “If you let their kind linger then the foul stench allows other creatures to come as well.”
“That is enough!” John yelled. “There will be no actions taken by you or your…crew at any point. There is an ongoing investigation that will not be impeded by you.”
Christian stood up and stared at all of them. “Three of my MEN are dead. You are woefully overmatched here and I will not stand for this. Justice will be served; one way or another!”
The hunters stormed out while John and the agents watched. John sighed and shook his head. “They are going to do something stupid.”
“Yes, and it will not help anything at all,” agreed Agent Adams. “We will help keep an eye out for them, but our priority is the killer.”
“Anything else your expert has to say?” John asked.
“Bronson had to leave, but he walked by two of the murder sites. He confirms that a spiritual mauling took place. He was deeply unhappy with that answer.” Sam frowned and leaned back. “Sheriff, this is becoming a cluster fuck.”
“Tell me about it.”
Marin Morrell walked quickly down the halls. Adrian Harris was missing and hadn’t called in sick. The multiple homicides on the school grounds had everyone nervous, but she was beyond that now. Something happened last night and she could sense the power of it on the basketball court. Some powerful dark magic had been used and it tainted the air.
The Chemistry room was full of half asleep teens waiting to learn Chem II. She walked in and cleared her throat.
“Good morning, Mr. Harris has suddenly taken ill. You have your assignments for the week so I urge you to do them. Mr. Stilinski, my office please.” She didn’t wait for him to follow as she made her way back to her office. She looked at Stiles and frowned. “You’ve looked better.”
Stiles huffed a laugh and plopped down into the chair. “May I ask what this is about?”
“We need to clear the air here and talk. You are a mage and damned innovative one at that. What happened last night?”
“Look, I don’t like you and I know you didn’t think you had a choice with Deucalion, but you did,” Stiles started off.
“He was my half-brother and he died a monster. I am willing to let bygones be bygones, but you have to as well. Something happened last night with strong magical overtones.” She stared at him for a second. “I’m stronger than Deaton. I can help.”
Stiles thought about it and sagged in his chair. “Harris is free.”
Marin fell back and rubbed her temples. “That is some of the worst news I have ever heard.”
“I have no idea how it happened, but it did. We are searching for ways to protect ourselves from him.”
“He’ll have to be quick to gain power. He’s weak and vulnerable right now. Damn!” She paused and sat back. “Alan may know a defensive spell or two that can help. I have some books that might as well.” She fixed her gaze on Stiles. “You must keep me informed of any developments. Even though Deaton and I can do the same things we are difference disciplines. Our approaches inform our magics. A useful thing to know right now, Stiles.
“Stiles, listen to me. Too much death has happened here too soon. An imbalance may occur and that isn’t good. The autumnal equinox is this Saturday. A point of balance, I fear a loose demon around here with a major configuration event two days away!”
“You know Ms Morrell, you really know how to cheer a guy up,” Stiles muttered as he sank lower in the chair.
The whole pack was gathered upstairs or in their rooms, but Derek was leading Scott down through the basement into the sub-basement. It was the main magical workroom and it was fully warded and sound proofed.
“Scott, you’re young, but have a great heart. You love like few can with such openness that it’s disgusting,” Derek smiled at the last bit. He pulled Scott close. “Deaton told me he thinks you can handle what I need of you.”
“Derek, dude, you aren’t making any sense.” Scott gave Derek one of his puzzled looks. “Kind of lost here.”
Derek moved closer and grabbed Scott’s arm. “I’m giving you a power boost. You can inspire loyalty in your friends and our pack-mates. I need you to be stronger. I am the Guardian here and alpha, but you will be an alpha under me. After Stiles, the pack will follow you.”
“Derek…are you sure?”
“Very.” Derek locked gazes with Scott and reached inside to the raw power he held as a Great Alpha. He grabbed a bit and sent to over to Scott. Derek locked onto the pack link and gave it a tug to let Scott touch it too. Derek let his wolf roar to the surface and felt the energy and link flare.
Scott’s eyes went wide and his wolf came surging forward. Derek watched as Scott’s golden eyes changed to alpha red. He dropped his hand and the link. They used each other to stay upright.
“That was…intense,” Scott whispered. “I can feel the power in me.”
“It will take a little time to settle. We’ll have one-on-one training so you can get used to additional power.” Derek maneuvered them out of the room and back to the gathered pack. They were silent as they made their way up there.
The whole pack was there. Derek nodded at them. “I was saving a speech like this for a happier occasion, but rarely do we get to make choices as events frequently force our hands. With danger on our doorstep once again, I’ve used my power to elevate Scott to an alpha wolf.
“We are a pack and I expected to have a few alphas here by the time everyone is done with college. But more importantly we have become a family. Our bonds have been forged deep and true. Much will be asked of us again, but we will meet these challenges, hopefully better prepared than the past. So I give you Alpha Scott McCall.”
The room exploded in applause. Derek stepped away and allowed the pack to hug and kiss on Scott. Stiles hugged his buddy and messed with his hair. Allison gave him a kiss while others gave him hugs or harassed him.
Melissa came forward and gave Scott a hug. “You know this doesn’t mean you can slack off on your school work again.”
John went over and gave his other ‘son’ a hug. “Now that I’m in the know, I can help enforce that edict, young man.”
Scott looked around panicked for a moment. “Stiles! Help!”
Derek cleared his throat. “I know this was impromptu, but it is a school night so if you don’t reside here during the week, you have ten minutes to get out before I throw you out.” He gave Stiles a pointed look.
Christian Campbell looked around the abandoned train station and muttered. “How the hell did the Argents miss that this was the home for a rag tag pack of wolves? Kate managed to kill off most of the Hales without help, but now there are three left. Reeks of incompetence.”
One of the men shook his head. “No, the younger Argent is dating one of them or did. Hard for us to determine, but they are compromised for sure.”
“We know their schedules,” Christian said coldly. “An alpha is useless without his pack. What are a bunch of teenagers against trained hunters? I say we surprise them tomorrow at school. It will be a nice send off for the weekend.”
“What about the FBI and the sheriff?”
“There are ways we can delay help. No matter what the dossier says, these are a bunch of kids.”
By the time Stiles made it into the Alchemy lab, Lydia had been hard at work. She gave him one of her patented disdainful looks and sighed. She pointed to one of the large monitors. “Hurry up and help. One of the spell books has three formulas for veiling potions. We have the ingredients for all three, but not enough to make all three.”
Stiles knew by now that Lydia was already figuring out which one would work best with what they had on hand. “Which one do you think gives us the best results?”
She gave him a small smile and tossed her hair back. “This is why I like you; you already know I have a plan.”
“Yes, so which one is it?” Stiles pulled out a tablet and logged into the house server. After a few swipes and passcodes he was in the potions section. He quickly accessed Lydia’s list and scrolled through them. “Let me guess, behind curtain number two is the potion of choice.”
“You are such a dork. And yes, that is the one. It has a smaller time limit, but we can make more than we can of the other two. Plus it can be stackable the other two aren’t.” Lydia went back to cutting and measuring out components.
Stiles moved from his lab space to the back desk and started flipping through some pages that had not been scanned and indexed yet. “Stacked with speed spells maybe or did you have something else in mind?”
Lydia looked up and frowned. “I’m afraid a speed potion would accelerate the burn rate of the veil. I was thinking about healing boosts or strength boosts.”
The door to the lab opened and they both smiled as Danny and Allison walked in. “Come to help?” Lydia asked.
Allison pulled her tablet out of her bag and nodded. “Of course. Danny practically yanked me out of my house to get here.”
“This stuff is really interesting. Frankly I think everyone should learn something about magic and how all this works. We live in the supernatural world now. We need to know some basics in case you two aren’t available.”
Lydia shrugged. “Especially since next year we are all going to be split up at college. Our new alpha needs to know how to handle a few things without you, Stiles.”
“Don’t pick on Scott! We can come up with a quick guide for everyone.”
Allison started laughing, “The Supernatural World for Dummies; a Guide on How to Thrive and Not Die.”
“If we wrote a survival guide it will not be a for Dummies type of book,” huffed Lydia. “Though I’ve seen our male wolves after a huge meal and they are useless.”
Danny rolled his eyes, “Most guys are.”
The four of them settled down and started working on various potions. Allison started inventory what they had on hand and Danny started cross referencing that data to potion recipes.
“How do we find some of these ingredients?” Danny asked. “Because I’m sure unicorn horn dust isn’t going to be found at the local store.”
“And that is why we need a survival guide,” Allison smiled.
“That is why there are specialty shops in places like San Francisco and New York. I imagine we can find some of those places in New Orleans and maybe Chicago.” Stiles finished mixing one of his potions. He poured his will into it and it changed color. “Perfect.” He poured it into two vials and handed them to Danny and Allison. “For extreme emergencies. This is speed enhancement potion. You will be wiped out after you drink this – there is always a price with magic like this and fatigue is the one for the speed boost. If you have make a quick getaway, use it.”
It was Friday afternoon and Marin could feel something in the air. Most of the students were gone. The late activities were breaking up and she could feel that all of the Hale Pack students were still in the building. Warning bells in her mind went off and she quickly went to the security office. Cameras around the school showed a group of heavily armed men approaching. She ran to the largest block of the pack she could sense, the boys’ locker room.
Scott looked up as Counselor Morrell barged in. “This is the boys’ room.” He looked around and was glad no one was naked though most were shirtless after running suicides on the lacrosse field. “Can we help you?”
She locked eyes on Stiles. “Les chasseurs sont a la porte!” She quickly pointed outside.
Danny leaned forward and whispered so all the wolves would hear. “Hunters are outside.”
All of them quickly grabbed their belongings. Stiles grabbed Isaac for a moment and let his gaze go vacant for a few moments. Once he refocused, he looked at Scott and frowned. “Twelve of them and heavily armed. Three are in the woods cutting off that escape. The route to the cars is blocked as well.”
Boyd frowned at his phone. “Peter says that there is a car right outside the gates to the manor.”
Jackson frowned as well. “Derek says he’s with Chris at John’s office. There is a car there as well.”
“How stupid are they to have a car outside the Sheriff’s office?” barked Aiden.
Marin snapped her fingers. “Focus. Where are the girls? There are twelve against twelve, but they have the advantage. They will kill and you will not.” She turned abruptly and stared at Scott. “When did you become an alpha?”
“Two nights ago,” Scott said with a frown on his face.
“How,” she demanded.
“Derek made me one. He gave me some of his power and linked me to pack a different way. Why?”
Marin raised her hand to stop him and started muttering so low even the wolves couldn’t tell what she was saying. “He’s still the strongest alpha I’ve ever felt. I can sense his presence still. You read as a new alpha, but strong.”
Stiles moved over and frowned. “Derek took out Kali and Deucalion. He absorbed all their strength.”
“I’ll puzzle it out later. Come. We must protect the innocents and make sure you all stay in one piece.”
They moved into the hall and met up with Erica, Cora, Allison, and Lydia. Morrell looked at Lydia and shook her head. “Ditch the heels. This isn’t Scream.”
Scott moved to the front. “Cora and Erica, you guard Danny, Lydia, and Stiles. Jackson, take Allison, Ethan, and Boyd and keep them off anyone in the school. Aiden and Isaac will help me clear a path to the cars so people can escape.”
Stiles looked at Lydia and nodded. “Scott, wait a second and listen buddy.”
“Stiles, Derek made me promise to keep you safe…”
“And I will be. Lyds, Danny and I will head to the roof. We can help from a distance. That frees up two more to make it nine on twelve.”
Lydia opened her bag and pulled out several vials. “Here are the veiling potions. They will last only ten minutes.”
Morrell stepped between them. “Get moving. I have to gather the students in the library that are left.”
Scott divided the pack into Jackson, Cora, Boyd, and Ethan. He would lead Allison, Erica, Aiden, and Isaac.
Danny led Lydia and Stiles to the roof entrance. “Why does this seem all too familiar?” Stiles snarked.
“This time its hunters instead of a kamina or a rouge alpha.” Lydia replied as she climbed the ladder after Danny.
“I have no idea why I hang out with you or joined the pack,” Danny groaned.
“Well the love of your life is a werewolf as is your best friend and you love the action,” Lydia responded.
They settled on the roof. Danny pulled out a small pair of binoculars, a flexible keyboard, his phone, and something Stiles had never seen. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Mobile electronic command center. Plus Ethan and I thought of something to really fuck with the hunters.” Danny smiled broadly.
“You really are the biggest geek of the pack,” Lydia stated and then laughed. “I see two blockading the parking lot.”
“And there are three deeper in the tree line,” Stiles said. “Seven are going to storm the school.”
Danny nodded. “I am online. Looks like ‘flush the quarry’ to me.”
Lydia looked over at the SUV blocking the main parking lot exit. “Stiles, I have an idea to send a message. And Danny, when we survive this; next priority is a better communication system. We don’t have a Prof. X to coordinate this for us.”
“Listen to you geek out with us.” Stiles winked. “I have an idea too. Let me execute mine and then yours. Danny, do whatever you are going to do.”
Morrell lead what students were in tutoring and other activities into the library. She was about to lock the doors when Jennifer Blake came running up. “What is going on?”
“Get in, we have a situation and the police have been alerted.”
Blake frowned as she moved into the library with about a dozen students. “What is going on?”
“Several armed men are approaching the school and the main parking lot is blocked. We are on lockdown!” Morrell snapped the locks into place and made a quick patrol of the library. “Everyone, back this way. The office has enough space for us to hide.”
Marin touched Blake on the hand and had an image flash to a house in San Francisco. It was fleeting, but made an impression. She gave the English teacher a hard look. “Hurry, we have to keep the kids safe.”
Scott moved his group quickly to the front doors of the school. “Allison, hold back and be the last line of defense. Jackson is taking his group to loop around and take out the second advancing on the school. We’ll meet up and take out the last group.”
Erica nodded. “Tell us when,” she said as she lightly shook her potion vial. Aiden and Isaac nodded as well.
A quick peek out the side glass showed four hunters approaching. Scott frowned. “I’ll walk out and I want all of you to follow quickly. Drink yours so you’re invisible as soon as this happens. Be careful and disarm only.”
Isaac sagged. “Please can we at least knock them out of commission? It’s one less hunter to deal with.”
Scott threw open the doors and smiled at the hunters. “You’re in the wrong place, guys. This is for students only.”
One of the hunters raised his gun and smiled. “School’s out for you.”
“Why does this always have to be the hard way?”
Jackson and his group moved out of the locker room exits and slowly moved to backside of the wing entrance where the scents of the other hunter group was emanating. Boyd nodded when he spotted the trio of hunters approaching. Jackson motioned for his group to hold back.
He muttered low so only his team could hear him. “On the count of three drink and come in.”
He ran forward and yelled at the hunters. “You really don’t belong here.”
One of them sneered, “Look, a stray dog.”
“Dog jokes, seriously?”
Stiles sensed the brewing confrontations below, but he ignored them as he turned his focus deep inside to the link with Derek and through him the link to the forest. All of Beacon Hills once belonged to the Hales and was still under their Guardianship. He felt the forest and Called. The pack was under threat. Called again. By rite of blood, he was now a Hale and recognized as the full mate of the Guardian. He Called and the forest responded. The trees swayed where the hunters were. He could sense the trees’ branches moving like arms, waving at the hunters.
Gunfire echoed in the air as they started firing at the trees. Stiles allowed a small smile to grace his face as the hunters ran from the tree line, one of whom was thrown through the air. The panic in the air was palpable as the two hunters blocking the escape ran to their comrades fleeing the forest.
Scott jumped to his left as far as he could. The quartet of hunters moved to site him, but suddenly were grunting or screaming in pain as their weapons were ripped from them. One screamed as his forearm was snapped in two another cried out as his knee buckled and hip was broken as well. Scott stood up and took off for the parking lot.
“What the hell?” echoed from below as Stiles smiled.
Jackson and his crew hit the hunters swiftly. In seconds they were disarmed and neutralized. Jackson took off for the parking lot to join up with Scott.
Lydia stepped over and grabbed Stiles’ hand. “Focus on the energy around their SUV. Focus all the kinetic energy around the gas tank.”
Together they made the air around the SUV plunge in temperature by leeching all the energy from the air; ice formed all around the ground and car. Seconds later the SUV exploded as all that energy heated the gasoline to explosive conditions, flinging the other hunters several feet in the air. Stiles watched as Scott and Jackson moved as one to take out the remaining Hunters, the ones who escaped from the forest.
“Cora and Ethan sent me some info. A few of these guys are suddenly going to find they have outstanding warrants,” Danny said as he finished some keystrokes. “Okay, time to go.”
Sirens filled the air as emergency services raced to the school. Stiles motioned for Danny and Lydia to get close. “I’ll veil us as we head back to the locker rooms.”
Stiles caught the other wolves racing back to the school. Jackson and Scott vanishing as they downed their potions.
The school was in chaos as it was searched for any additional armed suspects. John walked over to Danny and gave him a hard look. “It appears that a few of these men are wanted for various crimes in the Midwest. Know anything about that? We have US Marshals coming for them, as soon as they can be released from the hospital or from their psych evaluations. They claim ghosts are in the forest and the school.”
“Sound like nut jobs to me.” Danny gave John a quick wink and went back to talking to Ethan.
Derek wondered how the cliché, ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ got started when he was in college. But being out at the manor in the middle of the forest while a storm raged outside, he understood. The attack on the high school unsettled him, but it was not unexpected. John said he would handle it and Derek trusted the man to do so.
However, he felt it when Scott pulled on the alpha power. It was a small tug, but he felt it. Something about that began to worry Derek. They were a large pack and Deaton had no objections to the idea, in fact he even suggested it. Derek moved away from the window in his sitting room. Most of the pack was here already. Only Peter, Chris, John, and Melissa were not in the manor or on the grounds. He knew they were all safe. But his thoughts suddenly turned dark.
“Why are you up?” a sleep fogged voice called from the doorway to the shared bedroom.
“Nothing, go back to bed, love,” Derek said as he pulled Stiles back towards their shared bed.
“Liar, something has you antsy all of a sudden and it isn’t the hunters.”
Derek took a moment to process. “Stiles, this is between us and only us. You understand?”
Stiles was suddenly wide awake. “Of course. Only between us.”
“I felt something earlier, when Scott pulled on his power. It was a tinge, but it has raised some concerns with how safe raising him to alpha status was. Looking back, Deaton is the one who suggested it.”
Stiles went to say something, but frowned for a moment. “He’s helped me and he knows a lot about magic, but sometimes I get the feeling he’s holding back. Carlos trusted him for part of my education. But now that is assigned all over the place.”
“But what do we really know about him?” Derek asked. “He was supposed to be my mother’s advisor, but after the fire Laura never heard from him, that I know of, and we shared lots of information. There are holes that need to be addressed, but I don’t want to offend him.”
“Uh, didn’t you threaten him more than once?” Stiles gave Derek one of his looks. “Not that he didn’t deserve a few of them since he’s been insufferable many, many times.”
“Stiles, I’m serious. Now that I think things through, they aren’t adding up. I need Scott to be stronger, but not if it will damage the pack in the long run.”
Stiles pulled Derek closer. “Then we investigate. We need to talk to Ms. Morrell, who actually is helpful lately. Not that I trust her that much either mind you.”
Sunday breakfast was a tradition that Derek wanted to start and maintain. People could come and go out of the manor as they pleased, but Sunday mornings was a pack meal. The group that had cooking duty grumbled about how early they had to get up, but everyone went through the rotation.
Derek flipped open his tablet and started reading his headlines. He listened to the latest gossip and kept his comments unvoiced. A headline caught his eye and before he could stop he was out of his chair yelling, “Yes!”
All conversation stopped and all eyes turned to him.
John hid his smile and asked, “Are you okay?”
“Oh, yes, sorry. Giants won the NL West yesterday. I was in New York when they won the Series two years ago. The idea that they can do it again…yeah,” Derek sat back down and smiled again.
Peter started laughing. “Do we need to find you posters of the great Giants and 49ers again?”
Cora laughed as well, looking at her older brother fondly. “How many times did you beg dad to let you stay up to watch the games?”
The rest of the pack watched the interplay and realized how rare it was for the Hales to mention the past. The broad smile on Derek’s face made all of them realize how much they needed to remember the family. Stiles looked over at Lydia and they shared the same thought.
“I was twelve when I snuck down to watch a Monday Night Football game. Jason was here hanging out with you,” Derek laughed out loud smiling at Peter.
“Jason, you would have to remind me. He was a wolf I met at Stanford. He was from some pack based out of northern Michigan. Big Midwestern corn-fed boy.” Peter’s eyes grew distant and face schooled into fond memories.
“Laura always said you stunk to high heaven when Jason was around,” mocked Cora.
“You were six how do you know?” Peter chuckled.
“Duh, I eavesdropped.”
“You were such a little shit growing up,” Derek stated laughing again. He looked over the table. “She actually tried to blackmail Laura once when she found a box of condoms in her room.”
Peter started laughing hard. “You got into so much trouble for that. I thought Talia would have beaten you if not for Andrew.”
Everything ground to a halt with that name. Stiles looked over at Derek, who was lost in thought. “Who was Andrew?”
Peter took a deep breath, “He was my older brother, born a year after Talia. Imagine Derek, but three inches taller and with sky blue eyes. Smarter than me and a gentle as a summer breeze. But oh good God was the man born without common sense. He could not keep his dick in his pants for anything.”
“He died before the fire,” Derek said sadly.
Chris looked confused. “It wasn’t hunters was it? I never heard of a Hale being killed before the fire.”
Peter chuckled morbidly, “No, the idiot went sailing in a storm with two friends and they all died. Thankfully, his kids lived with us since Talia didn’t think he had two common sense brain cells to spare to raise kids.”
Silence fell across the room until Jackson cleared his throat. “The Niners are playing soon. Can we make Sunday’s breakfast and game day all in one?”
Derek’s smile returned. “That is an excellent idea! They play the Vikings, right?”
Several nods confirmed the match up.
Cora cleared her throat and muttered, “There better be some activities planned for those of us who find football tedious.”
Marin showed up later that Sunday afternoon and thrust some papers at Derek. “Fill these out and show up tomorrow. I know you have a degree and while you have an arrest record you were never charged with anything. You are qualified to substitute teach.”
“What?” Derek’s jaw was on the floor. Part of him figured he’d speak to the witch, druid, whatever, but not on his doorstep and not on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
“Consider it extra protection for the pack at school.”
She turned to go, but stopped when Derek said, “Wait. Please come in.”
“I would have thought Stiles taught you better than to openly invite someone with ‘abilities’ into your house.” She smiled and then laughed. “Not that I think I can do anything to you here, now.”
Derek shrugged and led her into the front Sitting Room. “May I offer you a refreshment?”
“So polite, but no thanks. There is something I need to discuss with you and have no idea how to broach it.”
“Then just ask,” Derek said sitting opposite of her.
“I need to ask if you talked to Deaton about elevating Scott to alpha status.” She looked him in the eye.
“Did he warn you of possible repercussions?” She continued to look at him closely.
Derek frowned, “No.”
She frowned suddenly and sat back. “I didn’t expect such a move until the students were older and about to build families of their own. It’s not unheard of, but it is rare to have alphas stacked like you do based around one pack. You need another alpha though to balance the power flows.”
“I don’t follow,” Derek said.
“Right now you elevated Scott. His power if partly his own and the pack. But it also comes from you. Your pack has two magic users in it and both are strong. There are eight other betas. Add in the humans and you have an incredibly powerful pack. But the power levels fluctuate between you and Scott for pack energy.
“You will need another alpha sooner than later to make the power flow work better. Your power though, it isn’t pack based solely and that is what I find confusing. Even with all the power from Deucalion and Kali, there is far more there. A puzzle for another day perhaps.” Marin stood and smiled, “Thank you for listening. And tomorrow be at the high school at 7:30. I already cleared it. I think all the girls will go nuts for you in the halls. Though, please wear something that doesn’t look painted on.”
Derek blinked a few times and frowned. “Wait. Fine, I’ll be there tomorrow, but not every day. How well do you know Dr. Deaton?”
She stopped cold. “Alan is an enigma. He’s never been very open with anyone, but I know he and your mother got along well for emissary and alpha. Though she was not his first pack. The one he trained with in Florida broke apart and he found his way here. Your mother was such a powerful alpha that Alan was able to regain some of his abilities. Why?”
Derek shook his head. “Been thinking about some things. Do I need an…emissary or will Stiles do?”
She took a deep breath, “He’s a wizard-to-be which is so far above what I can do. I don’t know. I have some contacts in the White Council too. I did my due diligence and they don’t know what to make of it either. You are in uncharted territory, Lord Hale.” She smiled as she said that. “Having an emissary for the pack in general might be a good thing, but bound to one of the other alphas. I’m without a pack and can advise you, but only on an as needed basis. But please, ask if you need something. Secrets have a way of killing us.”
Derek walked her to the door and nodded as he made her way down the path. He looked down at the papers and started laughing. There was a whole section of his wardrobe that was begging to get used. Slowly he wandered through his walk in closet. Laura loved to see him in dress clothes. She made him go out to dinner with her at least once a week in New York while he attended Columbia.
The accessories drawer held belts, watches, and a few pairs of glasses he loved to use when he needed a look change. He knew exactly what he was going to do and it was going to make the pack flip out. It was the little things in life that made him smile.
John and the two agents waited until Monday morning to bring in the other hunters for questioning. Eight of the men found at the school were still in the hospital following surgery to correct some severely broken bones. Months of therapy awaited a few of them. But now it was time for their ringleader to answer some questions.
Christian Campbell sat in the interview room furious. “Why am I in here?”
John allowed the FBI to take lead on interviewing the man since they knew more about him. Sam flipped open a file and stared at the hunter. “Do you have any clue why some of your associates were at the local high school armed for combat last Friday afternoon?”
“So we’re playing it like that? We got a tip that some local wild life was running loose. We all have hunting permits so that group went out to see if they could find it. But somehow they ended up getting attacked by a gang of teenage hoodlums.” Campbell smiled at the agent. “I’m sure our lawyers will have a field day with all the personal injury cases they’ll have to file on behalf of my associates.”
“Your friends violated several laws in doing so Mr. Campbell. In fact seven of them are being sent back to various jurisdictions for violating parole or outstanding warrants.” Sam smiled broadly at that.
“What? None of those men has a record!” Campbell was incensed.
“I don’t know. Mike Turner owes more than twelve thousand dollars in child support. Jason Taylor is in violation of his parole for several instances of public indecency. Jack Hawes is wanted for Grand Theft Auto.”
“Listen, Mike Turner is so queer that he’s never been near a woman much less got one pregnant. Taylor is so damned repressed I’d be shocked if he didn’t shower with his underwear on, and well Hawes…that’s possible.”
Behind the view glass, John was having a very difficult time not laughing. He really had to hand it to the pack; some of the violations and outstanding warrants were inventive and a little mean.
“What do you know?” Adams asked. “You are having way too much fun right now.”
John shrugged. “I know nothing.”
Stiles pulled into the parking lot with Jackson sitting next to him. They traded off driving to school. Stiles was still stunned that Jackson never complained when about the Jeep compared to his Porsche. Stiles shook his head. He was still half asleep from playing games with Jackson the night before. “Stupid werewolf stamina.”
“Suck it up, Stiles. You should know better by now.” Jackson smirked and then stopped. “Is that Derek’s Camaro?”
“Yes, but he doesn’t let Cora or Isaac drive it. The twins have their bikes. Why is it here?” Stiles looked around
Jackson looked down the row and saw the Hale Toyota. “Wait, does he let either of them drive his mom car?”
“You know that no one can control Cora, I think she just takes it.” Stiles spotted the pack and frowned at their faces. “What the hell guys?”
Erica could barely stop from either laughing or crying. “Um, Derek is here.”
“We saw the Camaro. Anyone know why?” Stiles asked as he finished his Pop tart.
“We hoped you would know,” Isaac said. “He left before we did. Real early.”
“Has anyone seen him?” Lydia asked as she leaned back against Aiden. “He could be doing something because John asked him.”
“Dad would have mentioned something.”
The bell rang and the pack dispersed to their classes. Stiles was settling in when he got a text from Danny. ‘OMG, look who is subbing!’ A picture came over with Derek wearing slacks, long-sleeved dress shirt with the cuffs rolled up, a vest, and some glasses that made him totally look like an intellectual.
Stiles had to look away from his phone as messages started flying back and forth. Stiles ignored his teacher as he typed out a message to Derek alone: ‘I am so turned on right now it’s not funny!’
Stiles refused to see what the other members were saying. Knowing his mate was dressed like that and down a few doors was making him feel every bit the hormonal teenager he was.
It started with Allison feeling queasy in the middle of her second class. Something felt off so she asked to go to the restroom for a moment. Running the water, she slashed a little bit on her face to try to clear her head.
‘Look at you! Running around with mongrels. You were raised better. You were raised to be proud. Look how low you’ve fallen. Even dating one of them. You’re such a disappointment.’
Allison’s head shot up and she saw her mother in the mirror over her shoulder. “What?”
‘The fact that I don’t have to see this every day makes me glad. You are not my daughter!’
Quickly turning around, Allison saw that no one was there. “I know I’m not crazy.”
Hitting the track during his free period is a way for Jackson to float free. Everything had changed for him inside of a year – everything. His adopted parents had pretty much washed their hands of him. An email a few days prior spelled out how they would support him financially until he reached his eighteenth birthday and his inheritance from his birth parents would kick in.
He picked up the pace as he tried to marshal anger or resentment, but now it was resignation. He was cut off. With the allowance he was being given he would barely be able to afford the insurance on his car.
‘Serves you right, you vapid pretty boy. Just a pretty face that no one really loves.’
Jackson stopped running and looked around. “What?”
‘So pathetic, always hiding how you feel until you can’t feel anymore. Couldn’t even keep your best friend, the man who knows you best, could not keep him as a boyfriend.’
Quickly turning around Jackson searched for the voice. He spotted something in the middle of the field. His blood turned to ice. “Matt,” he whimpered. He took off for the locker room, tears mixing with sweat as he ran as fast as he could.
Erica was in the restroom fixing her lipstick and touching up her hair. She blinked and suddenly in the mirror was pre-bite Erica. Hair stringy, eyes tired, and no strength in her body.
‘We told you that it was a miracle that it went away, but everything can be taken away.’
Images flooded her mind of her last epileptic seizure.
‘Beauty is only skin deep. Look at who you really are!’
Erica wanted to scream but turned and saw she was still wolf Erica. Her hands shaking she made her way out of the restroom and towards her class.
Boyd was running late after his History teacher told him he needed to get some tutorial work to improve his grades.
‘No one will notice if you’re late. No one ever notices if you’re in school. Who sees you? All the students walk right by you and never notice…you’re no one.’
Air rushed into his lungs as the crowded hallway vanished. It was empty.
Boyd nodded at Jackson. “Yeah, man, I’m cool. Late for class.”
Scott’s stomach was growling. He needed food since breakfast had been rushed.
‘Look how hard your mother works to support you. You were a terrible kid and ran your father off. Incapable of being a real son, asthma always acting up, unable to play with kids. He wanted to have a real son.’
His head shot up and looked around. Blood pounded in his ears. It felt like an old asthma attack.
‘Look at the princess, no one able to take you seriously. Your parents wanted a china doll to put on display. The longer you pretend to be stupid the dumber you get.’
Lydia looked around for that voice. Telling her things she might have believed even six months ago, but no longer.
‘Worthless good for nothing lazy boy! Should have been you that died. Your brother was worth ten of you!’
Darkness began to surround Isaac. He was being locked in a freezer again. “No…”
The cold vanished as did the darkness. He looked over at Danny and tried to smile.
“I don’t know.”
Derek walked into the teacher’s lounge to get some coffee. He noticed a non-descript lady reading The Crucible. “Good book, great take on McCarthyism when it was written.”
She smiled up at him. “You’re new here.”
“Jennifer Blake, and you are?” her smile was broad.
Derek nodded, giving her a partial smile. “Derek Hale.” Something was off about her, but it wasn’t something that made him instantly hostile, simply wary.
“Hale, why do I know that name?” She stood up and smiled again.
“Huge piece of property next to the Preserve with the big house on it. My family’s place.” Derek refused to claim it all as his since it was officially owned by the family trust. He was simply the primary trustee. “Plus we’ve been around town for a few centuries.”
She laughed and touched his arm. Derek didn’t pull away instantly, but extended his senses to better gauge the teacher in front of him. “So why are you substituting if you have that big house?”
“Have to put my degree to use somehow.” The borderline bad flirting annoyed him. “I need to return a text to my fiancé. He was floored that I decided to do this.” Derek almost laughed at the way her face fell. He refused to stick around any longer. He could go to Starbucks for coffee.
Stiles instantly picked up the pack’s mood as he sat down for lunch. Something was wrong. “Guys, many of you are really tense. What gives?”
Several of them look lost. Stiles stares at Scott until Scott drops his head. “I could have sworn I heard my dad’s voice telling me it was my fault he left.”
Several of the pack members looked over and stared. Allison sighed, “I thought I was going crazy. I saw my mom in the mirror telling me I was a disappointment.”
“My dad was going to lock me in the freezer.” “I was suffering from epilepsy again.” “I was nothing more than a Stepford wife.” “I was invisible again.”
Stiles heard them all and saw Jackson and could tell he was suffering as well. “Jax, you too?”
“That I deserved to be alone.”
Derek sat in the Camaro and prepared to go grab a quick bite.
‘Hey there lover boy! Miss me?’
Kate Argent was sitting in the passenger seat. ‘Kill anyone you love recently? Had that deliciously gorgeous cock of yours lead to some epically bad decisions?’
Derek chuckled and threw the car into drive.
‘Cat got your tongue? Or can’t dispute all the evidence? Everything you love – you kill. Total poison, loverboy. No matter how much of a stud you are, in the end you are simply a terrible person.’
“Interesting,” Derek pulled out his phone and sent a text to the pack. ‘Can someone tell me why a ghost of Kate is in my car?’ He looked at her and smiled. “Sweetheart, when it comes to bad lays you were the worst.”
Stiles looked at his phone and frowned. “Derek, had a visit and so did many of you. Why not me?” He looked over and noticed that Danny, Ethan, Aiden, and Cora had not been bothered. “Curiousor and curiousor…”
“Are you quoting Alice in Wonderland?” Aiden asked. “Because that so does not need to be something mentioned in a M A G I C A L zone. Don’t tempt fate. Isaac told us everything that happened before we got here. Yeah, no!”
Lydia narrowed her eyes and frowned. “So this is a magical attack of some kind? You would be the last person they would come after because you might be able to track them.”
Allison tapped the table. “Wait, the ones not visited had nothing to do with events before the alpha pack.”
‘Sounds like a vengeance demon – PH’
“Is there a way to keep him from texting all of us? Because zombie wolf creeps me out!” Erica hissed. “I know he’s your uncle and all that, but…”
“Dude is creepy,” Boyd added.
“Be that as it may,” Stiles started. “And I am far from his greatest supporter, but we need him and he’s pretty damned funny.”
“Well he’s not stooping your dad, so I vote major creepy.” Allison snarked.
“Hello, vengeance demon,” Jackson reminded everyone. “I don’t want to ever see Matt again.”
Agents Winchester and Adams sat in the Sheriff’s conference room with John leaning against the wall and Dr. Keys and Father Laughlin video conferencing with them.
“So other than some kind of soul eating demon, that is all we know?”
“Whatever ritual is being performed isn’t in any records that I or my associates can find,” Laughlin noted. “The worst case scenario is that the practitioner has cobbled together this ritual from several disciplines.”
Keys nodded. “Indeed, such a spell would be difficult to counter because its nature is unknown. Worse, such spells can fail or do something other than what it was intended to do.”
“The Law of Unintended Consequences,” Sam said. “Given virgin sacrifices and now a blood eagle ceremony do we have any idea what the person is after. Our primary suspect is a demon named Adrian Harris. No one can find him.”
“I never thought I would ever hear that sentence some out of an FBI Agent’s mouth.” John shook his head and frowned. “All we have out right now is a Missing Persons alert. His car was still at his house and no one has touched his credit cards.”
“What is a demon doing with credit cards?” Dr. Keys asked. “I’ll be back in Beacon Hills in two weeks. I have to contact some friends and see if they have heard anything.”
Father Laughlin nodded. “I can’t get back there until next week. It is imperative that any activity be reported at once. We have precious little to go on determining the ultimate intentions of these rituals.”
The video lines ended and Agents Adams turned to John. “Well sheriff, we have what resources we have, including the one your son brought in, working on this. The Bureau is very nervous about all the serial killer talk. More agents may be dispatched soon.”
John nodded. “Understood.”
The pack was assembled in the basement den with everyone except Peter facing the large TV screen the guys mainly used to watch sporting events. Snacks were situated around several small side tables. It was the day after all the sudden voices and apparitions. Nothing had occurred that Tuesday, but the whole pack was nervous.
Ethan leaned back next to Danny and looked around. “Why is this beginning to feel like a lecture?”
“Because it will be one,” Peter said as he dimmed the lights. “I did some research and it appears that I may be correct in that a vengeance demon is now lurking around and attacking various pack members.”
He tapped on his tablet and two images came up side by side. “Usually there has to be deep emotional trauma to attract one or it can be summoned. I’m betting it was summoned and targeted.”
“How do we deal with it?” asked Cora. “Because some of these guys are jumping at their shadows.”
“Why didn’t it go after Stiles?” asked Boyd. “He was in the thick of things with everyone who was affected.”
Peter frowned and tapped out another command. “First, to deal with it requires a few charms or amulets if you will. It’s were charm bracelets got their origin. And as for Stiles, I think he has one of those already in his shield bracelet.”
Lydia pulled out her tablet and started typing something. “How do we make them and when do we get started?”
“We hit some jewelry stores for some simple flat stones to hang on a necklace or bracelets to engrave the charm.” Peter shrugged. “It will be up to each pack member. But it will take our magic users a few days to get them crafted.”
Several of them groaned. “Does this mean we’ll be subjected to more of these attacks?” whined Isaac.
Derek cleared his throat. “Knowing that you are under threat should heighten your senses. You can defend yourself from a mental attack. Keep focus and calm. If it is a vengeance demon then it is out to heighten your emotions to make you do something stupid.”
Peter nodded. “It’s an opening gambit. However, it makes little sense if it is so obvious.”
Aiden and Ethan exchanged glances. “Dude, what do you do all day to know this stuff?”
“Right now I’m studying for the Bar exam. Imagine that they’re making me take it again simply because I was in a coma for so long.” He winked at the group. “Oh and working on the family finances since its going to cost about half a million annually to send all of you to college.”
Derek shook his head. “We’ll deal with that later. Right now, we have some kind of vengeance demon haunting us and no idea who cast it.”
Stiles rolled his eyes. “My money is on Harris. Dick!”
Jennifer Blake walked into a dank abandoned warehouse. She made her way to a lower level and smiled at the glowing triple circle. Inside of it was hanging one Adrian Harris, suspended from above by several hooks. Carefully she stepped through the circles one at a time. A silver knife was in her hand and she slowly worked it over his exposed arm.
“Demon blood is so rich and full of power. Especially demon blood that has been fermenting for as long as yours has.”
The demon locked eyes with her and yawned. “Why am I here? Inside these circles I’m about as useful as I was with that damned spell laced around my being. What do you want?”
She licked the blood off the knife and put it away. “You’re a goldmine of information about the locals. I’m hiding out from my ‘family’ and demon blood is such a nice boost for casting spells to keep me off anyone’s radar.”
Harris rolled his eyes. “Keep up the virgin sacrifices and everyone will come looking for you.”
She laughed and shook her head. “Are you mad! I want no part of that. That kind of thing attracts angels eventually. No sweetie, I saw you at school and figured you for a nice power source. For now at least.”
“If you are going to use me as your magical battery at least tell me who your family is!” Harris demanded.
“Of course since you aren’t going anywhere. House Malvora of the White Court.” She smiled as stepped back out of the circles and reengaged them. “See you soon.”
Derek pulled up to the Stilinski house to drop Jackson off. Peter made them go get fitted for the formal wear they’d need in a little over a week for the White Court Ball.
“Derek, wait a second.” Jackson took a deep breath. “I need…I need your help.”
Derek never heard those words from Jackson or the deep sincerity behind them. “Anything, Jackson.”
Jackson swallowed and looked out the window for a second. “I…I need to sell my car and get something I can afford the insurance on.”
The growl from Derek reverberated in the Camaro. “When did they cut you off?”
“I get an allowance, but it will barely cover my insurance and that’s it. But I got an email a week ago.”
“Don’t please, it’s embarrassing to go from the top of the heap to the garbage pile.”
The pain in the teen’s voice made Derek move and pull him into a half hug. “Do not ever refer to yourself as garbage again. We will figure this out. And honestly, you need a new car because a two-seater in a pack is not ideal.”
Jackson laughed. “Maybe I can be a hipster. Get some odd car and listen to obscure music no one has ever heard of. Dress in retro 80’s stuff.”
“I saw pictures of Peter in the 80’s, don’t.” Derek though did mess up Jackson’s perfectly styled hair. “Go to school tomorrow without product. See what people say.”
“Only if you do it too.”
“I’m not subbing tomorrow, but I’ll lose the gel for a day or two. And talk to Stiles about this.”
Jackson frowned. “As much as I picked on him since elementary school he’d love this.”
“He hasn’t used your new found sexual awakening against you.” Derek gave Jackson a shrug. “Up to you, but you live here now. Imagine being able to exist without all those walls. Trust me, when they come down its liberating – painful at first, but liberating.”
Stiles was in the main workroom meditating. It had been a week since Harris had escaped his containment spell and Stiles needed to find him. It was time for magical means now that he felt fully up to it. He hadn’t tried this yet, but he was supposed to be safest here. He opened his senses to the magic around them and sent his spirit up and out. Hovering above the town, Stiles horrified by the energy flows. He knew that Ms. Morrell had been right, too much death from horrific circumstances had happened in too short a period of time. He could see where the energies were warped.
‘The school is in the middle of a growing field of bad mojo!’
The woods outside the school was the place that held two of the virgin sacrifices, but the woods’ energy still held a neutral power. The manor radiated like a golden palace, a beacon for Beacon Hills and Stiles really hated that he made that connection.
But something stood out. On paper there was no pattern to the locations of the deaths, but the energy sinks those were spread out in a pattern somehow. He had no idea how to figure out what was causing some of those spots.
As he came back he knew Derek was in the room. It was supposed to be sealed… “How did you get in?”
“Mate, head of the house, take your pick.” Derek waited for Stiles to join him. The longing to be near Stiles had not subsided even after bonding. He pulled his other half close and kissed his neck at just the point where…
“Derek!” Stiles’ blush colored his whole face. “Okay, later, like all weekend, but we have a problem.”
Derek thunked he head against the door. “We always have a problem. Do you think we can run away to some island someplace and live off the sea?”
“Not with Climate Change and rising sea levels. Totally safe here from that.” He gave Derek one of his patented grins. “But there are fields of dark magic around town and specifically the school. I need to call in some help.”
“Call Chandler or Bill. We do need to see how Carlos is progressing as well.” Derek kissed Stiles before opening the door. “Though if this ends up being really bad we are moving to a rocky deserted island.”
It was late on a Thursday evening and Chris knew that Allison was out with Lydia, Scott, and Aiden having some study session. His new home was well guarded, but he knew that the five hunters who didn’t attack the school were finally free. That had him on his guard.
‘Looks like you finally got your wish.’
Chris whirled and saw his dead wife behind him. “Go away, you’re not real.”
‘Where is the fun in that? Finally free to whore yourself out to the wolves and to take it up the ass like you wanted to except your father hated faggots almost as much as he hated wolves. Guess you get to be a double disappointment to him.’
Slowly opening one of his clothes drawers Chris looked over his shoulder and shrugged. “Don’t really care what he thinks of me since he’s a murderer and you were a pain in the ass most of the time too and not the good kind. But you wouldn’t know anything about that.”
He threw some powder at the ‘ghost’ and watched it scream and vanish. “Nothing like a little salt mixed with holy water and mountain ash to make a demon scream.”
‘Just got visited by the V demon. It knows too much – CA’
Stiles walked into Ms. Morrell’s office trying to keep calm. Ever since his and Derek’s conversation about Deaton something had been niggling in the back of his mind. If he was right then they had huge issues.
“Stiles, this is unexpected…and by the look on your face this isn’t a pleasant visit.”
He took a seat and pulled a box out of his backpack. “Can you sense dark magic? On an object or if a person is being affected by it?”
“Sometimes but not always.” She fixed a steely gaze on him. “Why?”
Stiles handed the box over and raised a hand to stop her before she opened it. “If you saw someone wearing that, would you have known he was being manipulated?”
She opened the box and gasped. The black magic coming from the burned bracelet was palpable. There were faded compulsion spells on there. They were old. “Yes, I would have sensed something very wrong if I came into contact with someone wearing this. Why?”
“Sixteen year old Derek Hale wore this for over two months before his family was killed in a fire.” Stiles swallowed harshly as several possible implications tore through his mind.
Marin gasped and sat back. “But he didn’t kill his family. The stain would be too great not to notice. Talia was a legendarily powerful alpha, but this would require a magic user to…Oh My God! How did Deaton not know? Talia and he would have spoken more than once in those two months. That bracelet would have left traces from casual contact!”
Stiles dropped his head in his hands. Confirmation of his fears making the knot in his stomach tighten. “That is the million dollar question.”
John was beginning to hate these calls, scratch that, he always hated these calls. The random ‘body found in one of a wooded areas around town’ never were good ones, especially on a Friday night.
“Sir, I think we have a missing persons report out on this one.”
“Get me Agent Adams; tell her she’ll want to see this.”
John shook his head as he looked down on the mangled body of one Adrian Harris. “Our primary Person of Interest is dead. Wonderful.”
Slowly weaving in some of the greater plot arcs from Dresden-verse while using events from TW as signposts.
Chapter 4: Moon in Water
Life and school continues. Known traps bring unknown results.
Stiles, in fact the whole pack, was gathered at the high school to take their SATs. It was the first Friday night he hadn’t spent at the Manor or with Derek since they’d been together and in the same town. He knew his dad was out on a call, but the pack was on total lockdown for the stupid test to make sure they got into college.
He smiled and waved at the others as they all walked towards the school on a gloomy overcast Saturday morning.
“Stiles, stop trying to radiate cheer,” grumped Jackson as he walked next to him.
It took a moment to notice, but Jackson was dressed in some workout shorts, old workout shoes, and a pretty ratty t-shirt. Stiles stopped for a second and let it go. He liked Jackson looking so casual. Hell his hair was a mess and it was kind of sexy.
Isaac gave Jackson a long look before breaking out a wide grin. “So Jackson does require time to look like a model every day.” He patted Jackson on the shoulder. “I like the ‘just rolled out of bed’ look on you.”
Jackson laughed a deep genuine laugh. “I’ll remember that. And I did just roll out of bed.”
Lydia walked over and gave Jackson a once over as well. “Okay, I don’t approve of the attire in general. Stiles is wearing off on you, but even you make it look good.” She gave him a peck on the cheek. She looped her arm through Stiles’ and headed inside. “Hurry up boys or you can’t take the test.”
Dr. Bronson Keys looked over the body and frowned. The FBI Agents, Adams and Winchester, were in the corner watching as he examined the remains. What tools he had as a doctor were not as valuable as those he held as a shaman at the moment. “I wasn’t due back here for another two weeks. It’s a nice town, but…”
Agent Adams sighed, “Yes, Bronson, we know. Now, what do you have for us?”
“This body was tortured for a period of time. There is old scarring on the body and some cuts that are half healed. He was being used as a blood source, but not much of one. But over all, he’s been drained. All the demonic energy is gone, but the essence of the demon was destroyed. Someone just got a huge power boost and that is not good news.”
Sam scrubbed a hand over his face. “The main suspect is dead and drained of all his power. I don’t even want to contemplate what could do that and did do that or the fact that it is here already!”
Keys removed his rubber gloves and nodded. “You need to talk to the alpha and we need to get some help here. The magic here is getting volatile and that is a deadly issue for any place.”
John led Melissa to back patio with Peter and Chris trailing. “This will be interesting,” he said as he winked at Chris.
In front of them was the pack, humans decked out in combat gear and the wolves in some modified gear as well. Stiles was dressed normally except he had a small backpack on and an ammo belt around his shoulder.
“This time things will be a bit different. Stiles will have three minutes to go hide. Once the gun goes off the pack will have ten minutes to find and capture him, except without me,” Derek said. “If after ten minutes you haven’t caught him then I will join the fray. If all of you are down before I can join then he wins outright. My joining the battle instantly makes this a draw. Any questions?”
Isaac raised his hand. “Can we make sure Stiles doesn’t do severe bodily harm to those of us who can heal? He’s been cackling since Thursday when you scheduled this.”
Stiles shrugged and smirked, “No promises.”
Derek rolled his eyes. “Chris, you are the time keeper.”
Chris clicked the stopwatch and yelled, “Go.”
Slowly walking backwards, Stiles kept his eyes fixed on the pack. His fingers danced by his sides as he focused first inward and then downward. The mutters and confused looks from his pack-mates didn’t register as he pulled energy from all around.
“Two minutes left,” Chris stated as he watched Stiles not moving.
The whole pack watched as Stiles’ head moved slightly and his eyes glowed faintly. There was no outward sign of anything happening. He was moving backwards slowly. His steps small, but still facing the pack.
“One minute left,” called Chris.
Stiles continued to focus. He pulled out some dust from a pouch in his pocket and threw it in the air. He raised both hands in front of him and smiled as a fog rolled all around the manor and Hale land. He calmly turned around and walked into the dense blanket.
“Time!” Chris yelled.
Scott raised his hand and kept anyone from running out. “Stiles has done this and it hampers our senses of smell and sight. Jackson, take Danny and Cora and head down to the lake to keep him from getting out that way. Lydia, you, Aiden, and Allison head along the creek to keep him from heading towards that exit point. Erica and Isaac head down the left side and hold containment. Boyd and Ethan, guys you are with me. We are going straight down the path.”
Stiles had thirty seconds lead time, but it was more than enough time. Scott was leading the first wave and he knew his best friend would try to cover all his bases. Stiles made his way down the path and looked right and moved towards the creek. He ordered the fog to thicken to almost no visibility. However his awareness reached into the forest and he could see where the pack was deploying. ‘Too spread out to immediately help, excellent.’ He could sense Lydia in the area and that not the first person he wanted to face.
Time was essential to manage. Derek was a wild card now and Stiles needed as many of the pack out in ten minutes as he could manage. It was time for some old fashioned deception. Stiles extended his awareness and focused on the path he’d left and projected an image of himself just out of Scott’s reach. It was stretching his abilities to keep himself hidden by partial veil and to project a shadow of himself to make Scott follow.
Allison fired first as she caught movement and Ethan went down. Boyd returned fire and hit Allison. Lydia used a stunning spell to take Boyd out. Scott used his gun to nail Lydia and Aiden launched himself down to take out the figure. In seconds Scott and Aiden rolled around before they realized they were on the same side.
“What the hell?” Scott exclaimed.
“Fucking Stiles!” Aiden spat. “Sorry man, but you’re out.”
Five members of the pack were out thanks to friendly fire. He looked down and he had three minutes left. ‘Damn!’ He had Aiden to deal with at his back, but needed to move away from that area. Jackson’s group was the next target and put the most distance between him and Derek. He was going to have to face his mate.
Derek paced. He could feel it as each member went down. He looked over at the display and he had a little over a minute.
“How many are down?” asked John.
“Five.” Derek continued pacing until there was only half a minute left. He stilled and gathered his thoughts. The land was telling him many things but most importantly it was telling him that Stiles snuck up on Danny and now half the pack was down.
“Time,” Chris called and fired his gun to alert all the players.
Derek nodded. He shifted into his beta mode and ROARED. In seconds the fog vanished. Stiles was going to have to change tactics, but a pissed alpha was on his way.
“Dammit!” Stiles muttered as the fog vanished. Derek was Lord and Master of the land and Stiles had used his link to create the fog and it was gone. His attention pulled back as Jackson and Cora came after him. Hyperawareness allowed him to shield quickly and to keep the two powerful betas off of him. The land warned him that Aiden was coming as were Erica and Isaac. Derek was going to have five betas with him and Stiles was going to have his hands full.
He jumped up and left, moving quickly to the outdoor room near the lake. He clamored over the pergola and fired his paint gun hitting Jackson and Cora once each; nowhere near enough to knock them out of the game. Executing a full twisting layout, he went over Aiden. ‘Fulgar!’ he screamed and the taser level lighting spell hit the twin and knocked him out of the game.
“Okay, that hurt,” Stiles said as he grabbed his hamstring. “Not a gymnast, Stiles, that is for experts only.”
Isaac came flying behind him and Stiles managed to get his shield up in time to send him off in another direction. Stiles knew that it really was a pack of wolves circling him now. He had to focus because Jackson, Cora, Erica, and Derek were still out there and Isaac wasn’t down yet.
“Duratus!” Stiles yelled at Isaac and watched him fall over shivering.
“You’ll live,” Stiles moved over the hill and ducked just as Erica flew over him. “Fulgar!” he nailed her with the taser spell and ignored her screams and threats of retribution. He still had three wolves to fight and they were strong.
He dropped down the gully and moved past two more embankments. There was a small clearing that they’d turned into one of the outdoor rooms. Large metal trellises framed part of the area and large overgrown plants hid it from view. More than a football field away from the Carriage house, it was perfect to stage a fight and keep the wolves from using their numbers to overwhelm him.
He flared his shield to full strength just in time to repel Cora. He didn’t get a chance to hit her with a spell because Jackson was there in a flash. Stiles pulled out his metal baton and used it as a weapon to keep Jackson from getting too close. All his concentration was on moving his shields and keeping Cora and Jackson off balance.
“Not bad, but not good enough either!” Jackson taunted.
Cora jumped over Stiles and tried to attack from behind, but Stiles’ shields kept the attack off of him.
Stiles dropped and moved back and got off two more rounds hitting Jackson and Cora for their second wounds. Still not down, but close.
Derek jumped behind Stiles. Stiles moved and refocused his shield on Derek and managed to throw Cora’s next attack off, but it was all a feint. He felt his ankle grabbed and he was yanked down on the ground. Looking up at Jackson he frowned. “Great.”
“I caught the mage!”
Stiles got up and brushed off the dirt and leaves. “How long did I last?” he asked as he made his way back to the manor.
Derek frowned. “Far longer than you should have.” He pulled Stiles close to him and whispered, “You could have done far worse than you did. Why did you hold back?”
Stiles shuddered and looked away for a moment. “Derek, I’ve used my full strength once. I never want to have to put that much effort out again. It means things are bad. I know I should practice at that level, but it’s hard.”
“Then we find ways to practice at that level for your control.” Derek threaded his hands through Stiles’ hair. “We’ll do it together.”
It was the middle of the night and Stiles walked downstairs into one of the workrooms. Chandler had been adamant about using proper shielding when scrying and Stiles shuddered to think how vulnerable he’d been when he spirit walked.
The wards around the workroom tingled his senses as he settled in the middle of the inlaid circle. Sitting cross-legged in the middle of the circle, he opened his mage senses and focused his awareness up and out. Quickly he found himself on the dream plane and he was off.
The county morgue wasn’t anyplace he wanted to visit normally, but he knew his dad was hiding some information, but Stiles had the test to take and then had the full training session. He knew enough to piece this part up though. It became clear what hadn’t been mentioned was intentional; Adrian Harris was dead and along with that death came the end of numerous leads and theories.
‘I expected you sooner, Mr. Stilinski.’
Stiles turned and shrugged. He’d heard of the enigmatic Dr. Keys, but had yet to meet the man. Though meeting on this plane wasn’t what he considered meeting. ‘Dr. Keys, nice to finally meet you.’
‘You are quite powerful to walk as well as you do. As you can see your former teacher is dead.’
‘That doesn’t seem to be the end of it. The energy signatures are all wrong.’
Keys nodded. ‘Something drained him of all his energy and whatever did is extremely powerful now.’
‘What could do that to a demon? A recently freed demon at that?’
‘That is the question we are hunting down now, Stiles. We are in a danger zone; rituals are being performing we don’t understand and by entities we don’t know either.’
Stiles looked over the body for a few moments and shook his head. ‘I can’t see anything other than the energy distortions. Not much help there I know.’
‘Go get some rest. Now that you know you can help research this issue.’
Stiles obeyed the directive and frowned when he saw Derek leaning against the wall. “Dude, you’re making me think I can’t ward anything.”
“You can’t ward me out, Stiles.” Derek waited for Stiles to get close when he pulled him into his arms. “The fastest way for me to get up is for you to sneak off.”
“I didn’t want to wake you. I couldn’t sleep.”
Derek pulled them out of the workroom and locked it behind him. “I am well aware of how your mind works. I’d rather be there with you when you do these things than worry about you. I told you last spring I can tell when you are out spirit walking.”
Stiles pulled back a little and stared at Derek in the eyes. “I know it’s just that I…I know what I can do but I still feel like the weak link.”
“No, you are my mate and better half, Genim! Don’t you know that yet? You are already the most powerful member of the pack. Everyone knows this.”
Stiles put his head next to Derek’s and slowly exhaled. “Years of feeling useless and powerless don’t go away overnight. And I do know, every day I feel you deep in my soul.”
Derek licked at the spot where he bit Stiles in the mating ritual. He nipped it again sending ripples through both of them. “I feel you deep in mine too. We share the burden. I know it is a lot to ask of you since you are so young.”
“No,” Stiles stated fiercely. “I’ve been forced to grow up since I was ten. We are in this together and I’m sorry that I kept you out. Sometimes…I just forget myself for a moment and try to do too much.”
“We all do, Stiles. Come to bed. We can cuddle and maybe, if you’re good, you get some of your sexy times.”
“I’m always good.”
It was the perfect Sunday morning, with breakfast being served out on the patio. Cora rolled her eyes as Scott and Allison flirted across the table. She moved closer to Erica and leaned against her. “Have they always been like this?”
Danny nodded from Cora’s other side. “You should have been there when he first met Allison. He’d just joined the lacrosse team and we could hear him going on and on to Stiles about how pretty she was and how perfect.”
Jackson flopped down to Erica and nodded. “It was really something.”
Lydia rolled her eyes. “Don’t forget that you made a play for her as well, Jackson! Water under the bridge now, long gone.” She pulled Aiden down next to her and smiled at Cora. “But yes, when they first met, well when we first knew who Scott was, it was like that.”
Isaac sat down next to Jackson and shocked him by pulling him up against his back. “You needed a hug! So do we have any Halloween plans?”
Scott piped up. “We should totally throw a Halloween Party here! We have three weeks to plan.”
In an instant, Stiles stood up and yelled, “Hell no! Are you insane?”
All the other conversations stopped and the pack stared at Stiles.
“A little melodramatic there, Stiles,” Erica chided. “We’d love a party.”
“Absolutely not!” Stiles folded his arms and the air around them rolled with a slight menace. “Halloween is a sacred night. The veil between worlds is thin, energies are odd, and this home is new!” He saw confusion on their faces. “When you have a party it is an open invitation for people to enter your home. An open invitation on the night that magic is weird. We would not be able to tell who is friend or foe with the wards being so new. If you want a party it will have to be a Yule party in December, but no to Halloween!”
Derek stood off to the side and nodded at Stiles. “Okay, you heard the man. We’ll have a huge Christmas party, but no to Halloween this year. Now if one of you wants to host it then I’m sure Stiles won’t mind that.”
Scott nodded. “So Lydia, you up for a party?”
She nodded, “Yes, but the pack is decorating and Derek is providing the food.”
It was Monday night and Stiles knew his dad was downstairs settling in with Monday Night Football. It had been a relaxing day off from school ‘celebrating’ Columbus Day. He’d cooked something easy for dinner and now everyone was doing his own thing. His dad disliked the Jets and wanted the Texans to win, but the game wasn’t on Stiles’ mind. No, his priority was his housemate, Jackson.
Knocking on the door Stiles asked, “Can I come in?”
Stiles noticed Jackson was sprawled on his bed reading from his Kindle. He also quickly noticed that Jackson was only in some designer white briefs. “Isn’t it early to be in your underwear?”
Jackson shrugged, but pulled up the blankets to cover his lower body. “Better?”
“I wasn’t complaining, Jax.” Stiles shut the door and sat down next to the handsome teen. “But I wanted to talk with you.”
“Spit it out, Stiles,” Jackson put down the Kindle and looked at his pack-mate.
“Are you okay?” Stiles frowned. “I know Derek is worried about you, but he hasn’t and won’t say anything.”
Jackson was quiet for a few beats and then whispered. “I have to sell my car. I can’t afford it anymore.”
Stiles moved closer and pulled Jackson into a hug. “We live together now, Jackson, that isn’t it alone though is?”
He buried his head into Stiles’ neck. “I’m lonely. And so fucking horny. I’m not used to this at all. Fuck, Stiles, I don’t know anything anymore. I see you and Derek and he’s okay with you holding him. He’s the freaking mega alpha and he…he loves it when you take care of him. I want that.”
Stiles pondered the bag in his hand. He recalled what he’d seen earlier with Jax leaning back into Isaac. He hoped they would be more than friends even though he suspected Isaac loved someone else.
“Yeah, don’t get mad, but I ordered you something and no one knows about this. But, um, yeah, I can tell you’re horny a lot now. Not sure if it is because of the alpha bond with Derek or us living so close, but I can really tell.” Stiles handed the package to Jackson.
Jackson opened it and blushed red. “Stiles, why, oh I am going to kill you and then die of embarrassment.” Inside the package was a tube of lube and a mid-sized dildo. “Why?”
“You…you like it that way now and I know that solo sucks when you need something else so…I figured you hadn’t thought of that since you’re new to solo or being a bottom and solo.”
Jackson buried his head back into Stiles neck and laughed. “I want to kick your ass and thank you at the same time. Only you would do this.”
Stiles hugged Jackson tight. “Man, so much shit has been thrown your way so quickly. I mean yeah, you were an ass, and can still be, but you’re pack. And…you’re my friend. Sucks figuring stuff out especially alone.
“Seriously though, if you need to talk then please let me know. Just, don’t be loud when you use it. I know Derek and I earned payback for being loud, but you don’t have to repay that favor.”
Jackson gave Stiles’ shoulder a light punch. “I’d be mortified if you heard me trying this out. I’m mortified knowing you know I have this.”
“I could return it?” Stiles offered helpfully and with an evil glint in his eyes.
“No…no need to do that. Fuck, I need to get laid.”
Stiles plopped down in his chair and hated life right now. Monday mornings sucked ass, especially when they were really Tuesday mornings, and his meds didn’t work much anymore because of all the magic he was using. Luckily his focus was growing stronger. He blinked as Ms. Blake came in looking harried.
“Okay class, I’m a little under the weather so this will be independent study. Read your assigned chapters and I expect outlines on Friday of your papers. They’re due next week.”
He looked at her and could tell something happened. Her smooth demeanor was broken and he could tell something was wrong magically as well. He did his assignment and once they were dismissed he made his way to Morrell’s office.
“Stiles, what can I do for you?”
“Ms. Blake, something is wrong with her and on a magical level. I can’t get a good read, but something happened and whatever she was playing at has backfired.”
Marin sat up quickly. “Broken spells can eat away at many things. I’ll go check on her soon. Go to class.”
She moved down the hall at a rapid pace. She walked into the English teacher’s room and smiled. “Are you not feeling well?”
Blake turned to Morrell and frowned. “I’m fine. Just a touch under the weather.”
Students all stopped to watch as the tension in the room built up. “Okay, I’ll keep that in mind and check on you later.” Marin nodded at several students and made her way back to her office. Stiles was loitering in the hall. “Please, can you make yourself more obvious?”
“I could have camped out in your office.”
She rolled her eyes at him. “You’re right. Something is magically wrong, but her magic is foreign to me. I can’t piece it together.”
“Okay, I’ll see what I can come up with, but keep an eye on her. The last thing we need is another villain running around town.”
For Lydia, it started when the Hales talked about the past at breakfast without prompting. The pain of their loss was something the whole pack knew in their heads, but not their hearts. Cora skipped lunch with Allison and Erica to spend some time swimming after a hard test. Lydia made the other two girls come with her to an empty classroom away from werewolves who couldn’t keep secrets.
“We need to find ways to get some pictures of the Hales,” Lydia said before anyone took a bite of lunch.
Erica stopped before taking a bite of her Chicken Caesar Salad. “Where would we find any?”
“The library to start and then the Beacon paper.” Allison paused and tapped her finger against chin. “Perhaps we pool our money and see if we can’t hire a portrait artist to paint Talia and other family members so we can hang them up in the hall or major rooms.”
“Yes,” Lydia smiled. “That is perfect. Derek’s birthday is in November. Maybe we can have one ready by then?”
Erica leaned back. “How do you know that? He never tells anyone anything.”
Lydia rolled her eyes. “Stiles is a fountain of information. Derek can’t keep anything from him.”
“Ah,” Erica smiled as she rubbed her hands together. Her eyes had a feral glint to them. “He’s scared of me so maybe I get him to spill some juicy tidbit of gossip out of him.”
“Derek would eat you alive!” Allison laughed.
Derek insisted that all pack members have some form of extracurricular activities. He wanted them to feel like normal students. Cora was running around the track with Ethan and Aiden. The three of them ran at the same pace.
Suddenly the image of Deucalion appeared and ran with them. ‘Look at the two of you trying to fit in. Killers is what you are and you little lost lamb. What are you playing at? You aren’t fit for a family, no you’re a defanged kitten.’
All three wolves broken stride for a second. Cora was a Hale and this was her land. She hissed, “Listen to me! We are a family, faults and all. You, a pathetic memory of a demon, have no power here.’
The image shifted to Kali then and she laughed. ‘Oh, kitten, does your brother know what you did to survive? Does the great alpha know what the twins have done? Oh yes, Ethan, does your mate know how often you spread your legs to your former alpha to keep Aiden safe? Does Aiden even know?’ Kali’s wicked laughed echoes across the field.
“ENOUGH!” roared Stiles from across the field. He raised his arms in in a flash the image of Kali fluctuated and turned into a hideous creature. It shimmered and vanished as Stiles finished his incantation. He raced across the field to the three shivering wolves. “Are you alright?”
Aiden was pale and shaking. “Did…did you hear that?”
“No, but even if I had I know enough about demons by now to know that they spew poison to weaken their victims.” Stiles looked around and saw Scott, Danny, and Jackson racing from the lacrosse field. “Whatever was said, if you don’t want to share it then don’t. We are a pack and we support each other. Now, it’s time we deal with this demon once and for all.”
It was Thursday and Jackson was getting more and more nervous about the Ball coming up. He was so lost in his thoughts he didn’t notice Isaac plopping down next to him.
“Quarter for your thoughts?” Isaac asked as he leaned closely into Jackson.
“They aren’t worth that much.” Jackson was shocked when he felt both of Isaac’s hands on his shoulders. He couldn’t help his moan as they started to knead the tense muscles. Tension slowly moved out. “Please don’t ever stop.”
Laughter colored Isaac’s voice. “Do you know that you smell super horny right now?”
Jackson’s head dropped a bit, but he acknowledged the truth. “I am super horny and your hands on me just magnify the problem.”
A quick peek over Jackson’s shoulder and down his chest made Isaac laugh right in Jackson’s ear. “Looks like Jackson Jr. is awake.”
“If I get up everyone will know I’m as hard as a rock.” Jackson leaned further back into Isaac’s magic hands. Other pack-mates passed them by sitting outside. Ethan and Aiden both raised eyebrows as they sniffed and gave small smiles. “You smell good Isaac.”
Isaac rubbed his chin against the back of Jackson’s neck. “Well, you’re wearing these tight jeans that clearly define your ass. I’m surprised Scott or Boyd hasn’t grabbed a water hose to keep my pheromones down.”
Jackson’s heart rate spiked. Those magic hands kept him in place. “When did this happen?”
“I’ve always had an appreciation. Most people in the school always did even when you were a douche wolf. But as you mellowed you became…interesting.”
With an audible swallow, Jackson turned slightly to look at the other beta in the eyes. “Interesting?”
Another moan came out of Jackson low and long as Isaac found a knot on the lower neck and loosened it. “You busy tomorrow night?”
Isaac smiled broadly. “I have no plans.”
“How about bowling and then…other activities?” Jackson smiled at Isaac.
“Okay, but we sleep in my room. I like my pillows!”
Lydia looked up from her work bench and sighed deeply. “Stiles, this work is hard on my nails!” She paused for a second and sighed again. “Sorry, I don’t mean to sound so…trivial.”
Stiles looked over and smiled at his friend. The difference in her was night and day from the girl he worshipped growing up. She was fierce and beautiful. Her perfect hair was pulled back into a ponytail and she was in plain clothes. “Lydia, you have on lipstick alone and have never been prettier.”
She stopped and stared at Stiles for a second. “You mean that, don’t you?”
He nodded and got up. He handed her one of the charms and lightly placed one of his hands over hers. “You have become a great friend and I see you for this amazing person beneath the image you project. We’ve all grown, hell Jackson is someone I love now. Tell me six months ago that I’d actually love the guy and I’d have laughed my ass off.”
“I told you that you didn’t know the real him. Though I’m not sure he and Isaac are a good match.” She handed another charm to Stiles.
The work room had multiple charms on several benches. Danny, Aiden, Ethan, Boyd, and Cora engraved symbols in all of them. While Stiles and Lydia ‘painted’ them with special blends of oils to fully enchant them. It was painstaking work, but they would serve to protect the pack from all kinds of things, including the vengeance demon still roaming around.
“Well, Isaac can be a puppy and Jackson…not sure Jackson knows what Jackson wants yet.”
“Exactly,” she replied. “But when he figures it out then he’ll be amazing.”
The bowling alley was crowded. Thankfully, Isaac called ahead and reserved two lanes for the pack. Isaac and Jackson were huddled close, while Aiden had Lydia, Allison was with Scott, Ethan draped all over Danny, and Boyd had Erica. Cora walked in with Stiles. They were picking on each other.
“Where is Derek?” asked Scott as his tried on bowling shoes.
“He had to meet with some people about something.”
“He didn’t want to come?” Isaac asked as he picked out a bowling ball.
“He’s meeting with Sam and Agent Adams. Peter actually arranged it.” Stiles shrugged. “I’m more worried about Ms. Blake. Something changed recently. She looks haggard and paranoid.”
Lydia frowned down at her nails and then at the bowling balls. “Why must everything ruin my nails? Have we had our Internet Guru, Danny, try to find out everything about her?”
Danny rolled his eyes. “No we haven’t and your nails are fine.”
“Well, we have been busy with other issues, but something about her strikes me as odd and Ms. Morrell confirmed that.”
Boyd sat down next to Lydia and looked at her nails. “You know if you switched to a shorter type they’d last longer. I keep telling that to Erica, but she ignores me.”
Several of the pack looked at him like he grew a second head. “Basic logic,” he muttered as he shrugged.
“I’ll consider it.” Lydia got up and got ready to bowl. “If we lose then I will be upset Aiden.”
It was easier for them to meet at a small bar on the edge of town that for the agents to return to Hale Manor. Derek and Peter made their way inside. Derek’s nose twitched at the overwhelming scents of stale beer, sweat, and puke that filled the air. Peter motioned with a slight head nod towards a booth in the back. The two agents were already sitting.
“You already ordered a bucket of beer?” Peter asked as he sat down. “That’s getting a rather early start.” He looked in it and frowned. “Domestic, how quaint.”
Derek arrived from the bar and handed Peter one of the Mexican beers he preferred if he was drinking beer. He eyed Sam. “What’s new?”
“Two more agents are on their way and one of them thinks supernatural issues are bullshit and the other one thinks hunters have the right idea.” Sam pulled on his beer and shrugged.
Adams frowned, “We are still on the case, but they will be hovering over our shoulders. They could not override the request from the archivist. But someone in the Bureau is sending them to make sure things go a certain way.”
“Derek, will be in San Francisco tomorrow night dealing with supernatural bullshit as you say. When are they coming?”
Sam shrugged again. “Sometime next week.”
“And what will they do with Christian Campbell? He’s still in town.” Peter frowned again.
“Unknown,” Adams says.
“I don’t understand why you are taking my car,” Peter stated flatly. “You have a car you love, take it.”
“Yes, but it is also not something that ‘Lord Hale’ would show up to a ball in,” Derek countered. “And Jackson doesn’t have his Porsche anymore, not that I would have shown up in my date’s car.”
Peter rolled his eyes and handed over the keys to his Spyder. “Scratch it and I will break you, alpha or not.”
Jackson straightened his tie and checked his hair in the mirror again. “Are we leaving? Because it is still two hours on the road and this stupid thing starts in three.”
Derek adjusted his cufflinks, titanium triskelions that Peter gave him, and nodded. “I’m driving, you sit and look pretty.”
“I’m really starting to feel like a show toy.”
Peter scoffed. “While you are pretty, you are far from a show toy – too mouthy. Though if we put you in some tight leather pants and nothing else we could get a handsome sum at a leather bar.”
“We are not taking Jackson to some seedy leather bar you like to frequent.”
The drive into San Francisco went quickly. Derek and Jackson talked about colleges and getting Jackson’s new SUV. As much as the teen wanted another sports car, Derek knew the pack needed better transportation options and this change helped that.
“Okay, so we are walking into the lion’s den and are on the menu,” Jackson stated while examining his fingernails. “Why are we going to this again?”
“Because this is old world politics and to have refused would have been an insult. You have your charms and according to all the research, you’re having been kanima actually grants you far more protection than a standard werewolf.”
Fifteen minutes later, Derek pulled into the valet line. “Okay, Jackson, it’s show time.”
They exited the car and made their way into the mansion. It was a cool October evening in the city. Derek knew from Peter’s briefing that about one hundred-fifty guests usually attended affairs like this.
“Welcome Lord Hale, we’ve heard so much about you and such a lovely guest as well. I am Daniela Skavis, daughter of Lord Skavis. Please enjoy yourselves.”
Jackson nodded and followed a set behind Derek. His eyes scanned the room and he tried to pick up heartbeats he couldn’t see.
“At least three people have designs on you already, Jackson. They will move to talk to me and separate you from me. Focus on my scent and heartbeat. Take them into you now and they will be your guide all night, Jax. You can do this because I trust you.”
They walked down and into the back garden area. The main rooms were all open onto the patio on two levels and people were milling everywhere.
Derek raised an eyebrow and sniffed. “There are at least three other werewolf packs represented here tonight. And tons of vampires.”
Jackson walked over to a table and picked up a bottle of water. He checked the seal and cap to make sure neither had been tampered with.
“I assure you that the rules of hospitality have been obeyed young wolf.”
He turned slowly to face the speaker. Jackson was shocked to find a very fit man who appeared in his early forties. He licked his lips which caused the man to laugh and pat him on the shoulder. “I’m flattered one as beautiful as you would have such a reaction to an old fart like me. Luke Amirani, and you are?”
“Jackson Whittemore Hale. A pleasure to meet you.”
Luke laughed again and it sent chills down Jackson’s spine and made a heat unfurl from his nuts. He was incredibly happy that Isaac fucked him within an inch of his life the night before. As horny as he’d been before that he’d have jumped this man right in front of everyone. He had no idea he had a daddy fetish!
“As I said, the water is safe and so are most of the refreshments. Don’t eat anything one of the Fae might offer you though. They would view it as your mistake for taking one of their gifts.”
Derek was off a bit and covered his amusement over Jackson’s reaction by sipping his beer. He scanned the guests and spotted the other wolves with ease. He wasn’t the senior wolf present, but he was the most powerful. Protocol dictated that they come to him. A beautiful Asian woman nodded at him as she passed. Her proximity instantly had him on edge.
“Yes, that was one of the Jade Court,” said an older man. “Greetings, Lord Hale. I’m Brandon Lewis of the White Council. I was hoping to meet you tonight, but I don’t see the protégé here.”
“No, this cesspool was too dangerous for him to attend.”
“Indeed, but that isn’t the half of it. Pure power politics is on full display here. Over there is the Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Monsignor Rincon. The former Speaker of the House is having a drink with the Lt. Governor inside. At least three Silicon Valley billionaires are here, not to mention all the Fae.”
Derek kept his frown to a minimum and slowly did a circle to scan the whole party. “Quite the turnout for a known danger.”
“Lord Hale, the city is in danger and this gathering is all about the enemy of my enemy is my friend. No one here likes each other, but Los Angles has fallen. If this city falls then all of the West Coast is gone. This is the citadel,” Wizard Lewis stated firmly.
“Hello, Alpha Hale.”
Derek turned and nodded at the older female werewolf in front of him. “Greetings, Alpha Hamilton. How are you doing?”
“I’m fine you daft young pup! Give me a hug!”
Derek hugged Jasmine Hamilton and was so happy to see her in this mess. “I’m sorry for not being in communication much.”
She rolled her eyes. “Your pack should’ve contacted me before we sent you the gifts.” She took a deep breath and gave his shoulder a squeeze. “Your mother would be very cross with you about that. Though the Lord Hale thing might have made her laugh. Her little boy as the Great Alpha and Lord of the Forest.”
Derek managed to keep his blushing to a minimum. “Jasmine Alpha Hamilton, allow me to introduce you to the Wizard Lewis of the White Council.”
They greeted each other and the wizard moved away for a second. She moved closer to Derek and lowered her voice. “Caleb Sanchez and Amanda Saenz are here as well.”
Sanchez and Saenz were the two packs from the central valley. Hamilton was the pack from the southern bay area. “What of the southern packs?” There were traditionally seven major pack families in California. The Hales held most of northern California.
“They didn’t want to come with the trouble down south and the White Court understood. The Court members have fled from Los Angeles except for some of their thralls.”
Derek spotted the two alphas in question and nodded at them. “We need to reform the Cal Pack Council, or at least have a Hale sitting on it again.”
“Since your family was almost wiped out the council has done little. But danger signs are all around us.”
He nodded again and spotted Jackson still talking to the same man. “Do you know who that is?”
“No, but he isn’t human I know that for sure.”
Jackson was leaning into Luke and it was taking everything he had not to lick the man. Suddenly he pulled back and he knew the tug came from his alpha. He blushed and stammered out, “I’m sorry I was…not myself.”
Luke laughed deeply. “As I said, I’m flattered and your interest is deeply genuine. I have a sense about these things.” He grabbed Jackson’s hand lightly and his eyes unfocused for a moment. “So much pain and guilt for one so young. Your anger was burned away by love and you set that love free. I am far older than I look and your tale is not new, but it is one that can have a happy ending.”
“Who are you?” Jackson looked into endless blue eyes and saw depths of pain and knowledge that was almost beyond comprehension.
“It is time for us to mingle. Your alpha has found an old friend. Beware young wolf, you are a predator but there are many who hunt you as well. Oh, and be young while you can. Your friend…Isaac…enjoy the moment. None of your friends will judge you, they will simple be your friends.”
“And make my life hell as we keep company,” Jackson sighed.
“That is what friends are for.”
Derek stopped listening to the relatively innocent conversation as he spotted an old friend. “Chin-Ma! We tried to contact you, but the number was disconnected.”
“You are looking very good, Lord Hale. I see you and your young wizard more than bonded.” She elbowed him in his side. “It is good to see you as well. The tea shop moved to a safer location for now. We spotted a Formorian Servitor in Marin County over the summer and figured they are probing the City’s defenses.”
Brandon Lewis wandered back over and bowed to Chin-Ma. “Greetings, milady.”
“Greetings to you wizard.” She smiled back up at Derek. “We’ve known each other for sixty years. He’s no Warden, but he can be handy.”
The wizard shrugged, “Combat magic was never my thing, but wards and veils, those I can weave in a flash. Your beta made a friend.”
Chin-Ma nodded. “If you can contact Amirani then do so with Stiles.”
“Who is he,” Derek asked.
“An aspect,” Lewis stated quietly. “People like him cannot exist on this plane in their totality that is a mere hint of who he is, a shadow or reflection.”
Derek’s stomach turned over for a second. “Hint of what?”
Chin-Ma pulled him closer and forced his ear to her mouth level. “An ancient power. We aren’t sure, but we think he’s an aspect of a Greek god.”
“Or a Titan,” Lewis added. “The clues are too far and few to know for sure and since the Night of the Red Court, there are more and more aspects appearing on our plane. That alone is the biggest sign that something is happening. Magic is flowing again, Lord Hale, and that is not an altogether good thing.”
Jackson moved through the crowd and allowed his libido to settle. He spotted a small cluster of men chatting. His ears perked up when he heard the word ‘games’ being thrown around.
‘The latest version for the PS3 and X-Box 360 will be ready for Christmas.’
‘Do they do what we need?’
‘Yes, they will give the players nightmares the more they play.’
‘Will we be able to track the locations?’
‘Of course, we have our hacks into Microsoft and Sony already. We know where every player is in the world. It’s a matter of picking and choosing after that.’
‘We even have our people at Google ready to start on Android versions of the games for next year. Our people at Apple aren’t deep enough to help us.’
Jackson moved away from his spot and walked inside. He reached for Derek and used his alpha as a crutch to calm his heart rate.
“The plots are heavy and thick around here.”
He turned and frowned at the vampire standing near him. “I spotted at least four politicians of national importance here, of course the plots are thick.”
The woman laughed and shook her head. “Those can be bought and sold any day. The real plots are about the things that no one knows about. The politicians, that is expected and therefore condoned.” She offered her hand. “Suzanne Conner-Raith.”
“Jackson Whittemore Hale.”
“Ah, werewolf. You don’t read as human and you don’t read as food either. Those men never leave their work alone.” She sipped her drink and laughed. “You wondering if I’m going to kill you. Why should I? They’re stupid enough to openly discuss these things then they can suffer the consequences if something goes wrong.”
“Three members of the Jade Court will not like the fact that Sony, one of their protectorates, is threatened by White Court influences.”
Jackson leaned back against the wall and listened to Derek’s heartbeat. Calm surged through him again. “Why are telling me all this?”
She laughed again. “You’re new to this game. All the scheming and plotting. It’s what vampires do. Humans are cattle and werewolves are dangerous. We’ve heard of your alpha and that’s why he was invited. I can sense his power even here. Watch from a distance and you can see the hints of it in action. He has his own gravity, people move near him, but he has his own little court going on with the Chinese medicine woman, the wizard, and the other wolves. You can see some of the vampires want to talk to him, but dare not get too close too soon. He’s a new power and an old one. I’m just a distant cousin of the powers so I amuse myself as I can.”
Another woman came over and kissed Suzanne deeply in front of Jackson. He sipped his water and looked around. He even looked at his watch bored as the two women continued to kiss.
“Well that was a waste of time,” Suzanne said frustrated. “Not even a hint of arousal. So young to not be turned on in the least and this is Elisa, a witch and longtime friend. Nothing.”
Jackson rolled his eyes. He smirked and motioned at Luke who was leaning against a bar in the distance. “See that, he had me seconds from coming just by talking to me. You, and Zena here, not so much.”
She snarled at him and he flashed his fangs and eyes at her. She moved back. “Blue!”
“Jaded as you said. Thank you for the info but I’ll not be your seduced meal tonight.”
She stepped back and her friend did as well. “Jackson of the Hale Pack…just be warned that a very unpleasant surprise is waiting for you soon. In fact…”
Whatever she was going to say was lost as a tapping sound on a microphone silenced the crowd. People began to move towards the patio to get a good view. Jackson moved away from her and found a good point to watch everything. He slipped on some glasses that Danny ‘managed’ to obtain that held video and audio recording devices. He hit a sequence on his phone and it started to transmit to the manor.
“Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of House Skavis, I want to thank you for attending this function.” Daniela stated from the raised area at the back of the patio. “We would be remiss if we did not formally introduce the newest member to our community. Welcome to Alpha Derek Hale, Lord of House Hale.”
Derek nodded in her direction and suddenly he was on edge. All his instincts warned him about coming here and now they were screaming at him.
“For such greetings and welcomes normally a gift is given. Something of great value. Lord Hale, we have something…or one, you might like.”
Suddenly ushered on stage was a man in his early twenties. Longish dark hair framed his handsome face. He looked bewildered as though he had just had a blindfold removed. Derek inhaled sharply. “C.J.” he said.
Alarm chimes started ringing throughout the house. Stiles was using his time to peruse the library. He needed to know why Jennifer Blake set his teeth on edge. Marin Morrell had been next to useless on the subject. The alarm continued to chime until he picked up the tablet in the room. He keyed in a sequence and the TV in the room came to life and he was looking at the White Court Ball.
“Why are we seeing this?” he asked as other residents came into the library.
Peter frowned, “This was only a contingency plan.”
‘For such greetings and welcomes normally a gift is given. Something of great value. Lord Hale, we have something…or one, you might like.’
Peter’s mouth dropped open and Cora gasped. “That’s Cameron!”
“Who is Cameron?” Lydia demanded.
Cora wiped the tears from her eyes. “Cameron was our cousin. He was like another brother to us.”
“He was Andrew’s oldest,” Peter stated. “Cameron Joseph Hale, he was called C.J.”
Stiles raised his hands. “Shut up. Something is happening!”
Anger coursed through Derek’s body. Chin-Ma was next to him as was the Wizard Lewis. He could feel the shift under his skin. His claws were itching to come out and rip the Skavis bitch to shreds. And in doing so he would doom his family and werewolves. He reached down and found his anchor and let the anger flow away. He turned to Alpha Hamilton and frowned. “Someone is trying to manipulate me.”
Lewis raised an eyebrow and muttered something. Four vampires screamed as they clutched their heads. “Yes, someone was trying to manipulate you.”
Derek turned to face Daniela Skavis. Slowly he moved out of his small group and towards his cousin, who he always thought of as his younger brother.
Suddenly, Luke Amirani moved forward. “I would put forward that the actions of House Skavis in the last few moments have been dangerously close to violating all the rules of hospitality and protocol laid out in the UnSeelie Accords. Further, Daniela you failed to notice the pin that is currently on Lord Hale’s lapel. If one of your sycophants had they would have noticed it is leaf from the Summer Court signifying an ally.”
Derek moved forward and next to his cousin. He touched Cameron and looked him over. “Are you okay?”
“Derek, is it really you? I thought everyone was dead!”
He smiled at his cousin and nodded. “Yeah, C.J. it’s me.” He motioned for a waiter who was circling with champagne flutes. Reaching into his jacket he let one of his fingers elongate into a claw and pierced one of the vials he was carrying. He let his nail dip into the potion and let a few drops fall from it into one of the flutes he picked up. He handed one to Daniela and kept one for himself.
“I would like to propose a toast,” taking over from Amirani. “I would like to thank House Skavis for locating a lost member of the Hale family.” He lifted his glass. “Thank you for hosting a wonderful party full of esteemed guests.” He drank and so did all of the gathered. He kept an eye on her to see if she drank and she did.
Luke glanced between the two of them and smiled at their hostess. “I believe that Queen Mab would take great interest in tonight’s events. She takes her accords very seriously. And even though Lord Hale is affiliated with the Summer Court, the Winter Queen doesn’t like things to get…messy.”
Daniela swallowed and scanned the crowd. “Perhaps we should keep this affair low key then.”
A laugh erupted from the handsome man. “Really? I think it is far too late for that.”
Derek nodded at Jackson, who was approaching, and pulled Cameron with him. “Jackson, this is my cousin by blood, but little brother in truth, C.J. Take care of him and get ready to leave shortly.” He turned back to a seething Daniela. “Let me ask you a question.”
She gave him a withering glare. “What?”
“Exactly. What did you hope to accomplish?”
The potion he slipped into her drink was a truth potion. “The easiest way to seize the power you control was to cut you off from your allies. We found Cameron over the summer and had him for the last six weeks. We made sure no one would miss him from Johns Hopkins University. You shouldn’t have been able to resist the urge to attack me.”
He smiled at her confession. “I was prepared for a trap. And I’m leaving now. I’m sure the Summer Court representatives will have something to say about this evening’s events”
She put a hand over her mouth. “What have you done?”
“Deception. Now, I am leaving with my party and you aren’t going to do anything.” He moved quickly down the group and towards Jackson and his cousin. He watched as Chin-Ma handed Cameron a vial and told him to drink it. Derek nodded and Cameron swallowed it down. “What was that?”
“Now you ask that?” demanded Cameron.
Chin-Ma chuckled, “Lord Hale and I are friends as I was with your Aunt Talia. What I gave you will wake you from the influence of the vampires. Though…” She motioned the Wizard Lewis to closer. “He doesn’t read as a normal werewolf.”
The wizard looked over Cameron and nodded. “Indeed, he doesn’t. What are you, boy?”
“My mother came from a family of Australian werewolves, but she was a mage not wolf-born. Somehow after the fire I ended up there. I can manipulate magic similar to a druid.” He leaned closer to Derek. “Can we go?”
Derek moved closer to Jackson and removed the glasses. “Say goodbye to your new friend and meet us out front.”
Quickly Derek moved closer to Alpha Hamilton. “This was meant to be a near fatal blow to all werewolves. The White Court had plans for us. Pass the word and be careful.” He motioned to the Alphas Sanchez and Saenz. “Something dreadful is brewing back home. I may need help. My pack is numerous, but young. If you have an experienced beta you can spare soon it would be appreciated.”
Jasmine nodded. “There are a few smaller packs in the area that have unattached betas with wanderlust in them.” The other two alphas agreed.
“Thank you all, I’ll be in contact. C.J. let’s go.” Derek hugged Chin-Ma. “Please contact us if you need anything.”
Stiles watched all the events with several pack members. As soon as the feed ended he motioned to Danny. “We have all of that?”
“Yes.” Danny smiled and nodded. “Including all the background conversations that Jackson was close enough to pick up.”
“Pull them apart and any images he might have seen as well.” Stiles turned to Peter. “I remember Derek mentioning that he thought eleven members of the family died in the fire, but the fire report only had eight bodies.”
Peter inhaled sharply as did Cora. Peter moved closer. “Cameron and Cora…there is still the possibility of one more out there.”
“Yes,” Stiles nodded. He raised a hand and lowered his voice. “Peter, something is bothering me though. Deaton was Talia’s emissary; how did he not know who survived the fire?”
The low growl that came out of Peter made all the wolves in the room jump. “Stiles, the more I ponder the events of the fire the more questions I have.”
Stiles raised a hand to stop Peter. The pack member who’d been out were returning. “We’ll talk later and with Derek.”
Jackson monitored as two servants loaded C.J.’s luggage into the trunk of the Spyder. He watched as Cameron and Derek climbed into the back. Jackson frowned as he was given the keys. “So, now I’m chauffeur?”
“For now, yes.” He pulled Cameron close and whispered in his ear. “Welcome home.”
“You’re the alpha now.” He rubbed his chin against Derek’s face. “Is anyone else alive?”
“Yes, Cora and Peter are at the rebuilt house now. Laura was alive…but she died.”
The younger Hale relaxed against the elder. “If I had known, I would have looked for you. I thought I was the last one and was too scared to come here.”
Derek rubbed his cousin’s, no, brother’s hair. C.J. had always been his little brother, his shadow growing up. He tightened his grip and let tears of joy flow. “You’re here now. There is a huge pack waiting at home. Including…”
“Your mate. I can smell that you’re mated. And a man too, and here I thought only the ladies caught your eye.” Cameron teased his ‘brother’ and relaxed against him further. “If Corey had known he’d have been all over you!”
“Corey…Corey Andrews? How did you know him? He’s two years older than you.” Derek started laughing. “I always appreciated some of my teammates but didn’t really figure it out until I was in college.”
“Which one? And what did you study?”
Jackson rolled his eyes and accelerated out of the city. “Is this going to happen all the way home? Because I’m really happy for you to get each other back, but the twenty questions thing will get old.”
“One of the new betas?” Cameron asked as he looked towards the front seat.
“Yes, they are all mouthy. Except Boyd. He’s cool.”
“Wait until he meets Stiles!” Jackson started laughing hard.
“My mate and he never shuts up.”
Cora and Peter were pacing and it was driving everyone crazy. Stiles sat back in one of the overstuffed chairs in the library. Every so often he would reach out and feel a spark of happiness from Derek; he could sense another piece of his soul healing. But for him it made Stiles grow angrier. He kept his anger way from Derek and focused on the problem at hand.
“You are dangerously quiet,” Peter said as he smiled down at Stiles.
“Contemplating the current state of events,” Stiles replied without inflection.
Peter moved closer and frowned. “I’ve come to know you rather well, Stiles and something is amiss. What are you thinking?”
“Not now, Derek will be here soon and you can see your nephews.” Stiles got up and moved towards the door and ultimately the kitchen. He knew that it would be less than ten minutes before they arrived, but Stiles wanted to scream.
“Calm down,” Lydia said as she walked into the kitchen. “All the spells are vibrating you’re so angry.”
He quickly plopped down at the kitchen table and put his head in his hands. “There is so much we don’t know and I’m afraid it’s going to get us killed. Even knowing that fucking Ball was a trap, Derek almost got caught in it.”
Lydia moved to sit down next to Stiles. She placed a hand on his shoulder. “I know you too well now, that is not all it is. What is bothering you?”
He typed out something on his phone and handed it to Lydia. He watched as her eyebrows shot up. “You’re serious?”
He nodded. He inhaled deeply and let I out slowly. “Derek is pulling into the garage right now.”
The screams of joy made Stiles forget his worries for a second. Lydia offered him a hand to get up and they made their way to the living room where Cora was giving the newest Hale a huge hug. At Derek’s beckoning, Stiles moved closer and smiled at the incredibly handsome and mischievous looking guy.
“Cameron, this is my mate, Stiles. Stiles, this is my little brother, Cameron.”
Stiles was swept into a hug. “Okay, an affectionate Hale, who knew?” he returned the hug and could feel another piece to the pack settle into place.
Slowly all the pack met C.J. and then made their way to their rooms. Derek pulled C.J. with him to the master suite. He smiled at Stiles and pulled him close. “Mini-pack bonding tonight.”
He instantly understood and went to get something appropriate to wear to bed. Derek didn’t want his brother alone. Stiles didn’t either. He knew it was important and he wanted to make sure Cameron felt safe here.
Danny and Boyd were in the electronics room reviewing the recordings that Jackson took. Everyone was dragging from the late night. Boyd volunteered because, while he loved mechanical and electrical engineering, there wasn’t much for him to start on currently.
“Who makes a play for the newest Hale first?” Danny asked Boyd.
“I would have said Jackson except he and Isaac seem to be getting along well.” Boyd frowned and then laughed. “Let’s just say they are very…excitable and loud together.”
Danny started laughing. “Wait, what is that?”
An image of someone saying goodbye to Jackson. The audio was muffled, but they did hear, ‘It was very nice to meet you and to see that someone so young was still into me.’
Both the guys looked at each other and laughed. Danny hit print and shook his head. “Jackson was totally into a daddy type.”
They kept laughing until they went back and heard, ‘They won’t know that one of ours is going to be looking into their affairs. What’s better is that he’s not a believer.’
‘Indeed, not, but he’s from there and suspects many things. He was skeptical of the Hale fire and he already knows the sheriff.’
‘He’ll rein in Adams and Winchester. He might even make life miserable for Lord Hale.’
‘Yes, when Stuart McCall returns home it will be the wedge we need to break the pack.’
Danny quickly moved that recording to a new file and sent it to Stiles and Derek. He looked at Boyd and frowned. “What the hell else went on at that party?”
Peter was sitting in one of the overstuffed chairs with Lydia in another. Derek stood near the wall while Stiles sat down on the couch. They were assembled in the private sitting room next to the master suite. Stiles used a privacy spell to keep any of the wolves from hearing this conversation.
Lydia tapped her feet on the floor. “We started this last night, Stiles. Why are you concerned about Deaton?”
“Things don’t add up, Lydia.” Stiles pointed to the box on the table. “Derek was given that bracelet by Kate. It reeks of dark magic and compulsion spells. Even if Deaton never saw Derek directly, Talia would have had secondary magical contact and he should have sensed it.”
“More so, he should have been able to heal me rather than it take six years for my body to repair itself. He should have warded me from outside influences, but he didn’t. That witch sank her claws into me and it cost us Laura.”
“He never alerted me to the dangers of raising Scott to alpha status. He wasn’t helpful during the Jackson affair.” Derek frowned and stared at Stiles. “He should have known how many of us were left and gathered us together. Or he should have fled with Laura and I to New York.”
Lydia sat back and frowned. “Well we can’t kill him, not openly anyway. We need to confront him and see what he knows. Or see what he’s been saying about us.”
Stiles dropped his head. “Deaton’s Saruman isn’t he?”
“Deep in our counsels and betrays us. Yes, that is a perfect description.” Derek moved and started massaging Stiles’ shoulders. “Lydia, we need a stronger truth serum. Cameron knows magic as well; he’s been training at it longer than you two have. Ask him. Deaton knows your weaknesses far too much.”
The pack was sitting at their normal lunch table. For much of the school it had been a transformation of the social order. Lydia Martin was the Queen and Jackson Whittemore the King, but no one popular considered Stiles to be anyone. Except now all the other members of the popular clique knew that Danny, Lydia, Allison, and Jackson took their cues from Stiles. Scott had become popular with his lacrosse heroics and he was Stiles’ twin. But now the real twins were in the group along with the bombshell Erica, the quiet Boyd, the stunning Cora Hale, and the handsome Isaac. For Beacon Hills High, everything changed a few weeks ago and the rest of the popular kids kept looking at that table confused.
Scott frowned as Stiles was typing away on his phone and reading something for a class. “Stiles, what are you doing?”
“I didn’t get much homework done over the weekend. Need to finish this up and then I can start some research we need done.”
The low growling coming from Scott set the whole table on edge. “Maybe if you weren’t having secret meetings you would have gotten your work done in the first place.”
The flashing red eyes from Scott didn’t do anything to Stiles, but it made a few of the betas flinch. Cora and Jackson simply looked at Scott like he was nuts.
“Excuse you,” Stiles sarcastically remarked. “One, not everything involves you and two, don’t going flashing your red eyes at school because it doesn’t affect me. You look like an idiot doing it.”
“I’m the alpha here, Stiles, not you.” Scott’s eyes flashed again.
Lydia flicked some water at him. “Slow down there, Fido! In case you forgot, Stiles is the Alpha’s Mate and Derek is the head of this pack, you are a lieutenant. What the hell has gotten into you?”
Allison put her hand on Scott’s and he shook his head a bit and blinked several times. “Sorry guys, not sure where that came from.”
Stiles and Lydia exchanged a look. She nodded. “Did you work yesterday afternoon?”
“Yeah, Deaton had an emergency and needed help. Why?”
“Didn’t see you around yesterday afternoon,” was all she said as she turned to kiss Aiden’s cheek.
The bell sounded and the pack started to break up, but Isaac grabbed Stiles and pulled him towards the back. “I hate to bother you, but you need to know.”
Stiles nodded at the beta, knowing it was important if he was speaking out. “What is it?”
“Scott’s been acting like that a lot lately. Out of nowhere he gets angry and wolfs out. This is the first time he’s done it in mixed company. Normally it’s me, Boyd, or Erica that is around. Never Cora or Jackson. And never you.”
His phone chimed so Stiles pulled it out and looked it over. ‘Laughlin and Keys will be here soon. Sheriff checking you out at 1:30 – D’ He dug in his pockets and pulled out his keys. “Will you give these to Jackson? Dad’s checking me out of school soon. And I’ll look into Scott’s behavior. It might be an aftereffect of getting the alpha power.”
Isaac shrugged and smiled as he looked at the keys. “Will the house be empty?”
“Oh My God! Probably and I don’t want to know. It is so weird that you and Jackson…”
“Weird?” Isaac pouted.
Stiles deflated. “I don’t mean it negatively. It’s just…I never expected you to be Jackson’s boyfriend.”
Isaac threw his hands up. “Woah, wait, we are friends with benefits and maybe a little more, but we are not dating.”
“Have you talked to him about this?”
“Has he said anything?”
Stiles rubbed his forehead again. “Okay, after you two have your afternoon fun, talk to each other because this conversation is weird.” He started to walk away and paused. “And thank you for the info, I’ll look into it.”
Derek looked around the manor and slowly searched for Cameron. He knew Peter was heading to Costco to pick up some needed supplies. Everyone else was at school. He closed his eyes and opened his ears and other senses and finally located C.J.’s heartbeat in the gym downstairs.
The smell of a young wolf working out was strong. As large as the first floor of the manor was, the first basement level was even larger. The machines to workout were in one room, but next to it another was simply a large open space with high ceiling to allow for sparing. Derek watched as Cameron executed several moves with amazing skill and grace.
“Where did you learn those?”
Cameron stopped and smiled. “In Australia, some of the wolves in that family had an SAS background and taught me hand to hand combat. They taught me how to survive as an omega wolf. They harbored me for three years and then sent me back.”
Derek removed his shirt and rolled his neck. He moved opposite Cameron and nodded. They traded jabs and moves. Derek was nowhere near as disciplined as Cameron, but he’d been doing some form of martial arts since the fire. After another pass, he smiled again. “Is that also why you were taught to handle magic?”
“Yes, my mother helped me but was distant. I had no place among them. They helped me get into Johns Hopkins. I study engineering. All the rest is to survive.”
Derek moved and pulled his brother into a hug. “We all did what we had to to survive. You have a home here again. I know you have a life back in Baltimore…”
Cameron flipped Derek and then landed on top of him. “Always wanted to beat you, but you were sixteen and I was thirteen. Now I can, oh alpha.”
Laughter bubbled out of Derek as he pulled Cameron close. “Whatever you want we’ll make it happen.”
“This semester is out. Might as well take the year off and then graduate next spring. It feel wonderful to have a pack again. Being alone so long sucked.”
Derek got up and pulled Cameron up too. “I had Laura for years and I wish we had known. But you’re here now and that’s what’s important. OH! You still a Giants fan?”
“Game 2 of the NLCS is tonight! Completely forgot all about it with everything. We’ll take over the Den and enjoy the game!”
Peter returned home in time to let Father Laughlin and Dr. Keys into the house. Cameron took one of Derek’s credit cards and headed to the mall to expand his wardrobe. Stiles came barreling into the library and waved at the guests. “Sorry I’m late.”
“Its fine, Stiles,” smiled the shaman. “We’ve been in contact with various sources and we have to deal with whoever has unleashed the vengeance demon. We assume it is the same ‘person’ who has done the ritual killings.”
Derek frowned. “How do we find this person?”
“There is another issue and it’s just as important because they are related,” Laughlin added. “The ritual killings are destabilizing magic in the area. Keys has looked around and we’re not sure why or how, but the intent is evil.”
“I’ve seen the pattern,” Stiles added. “We have an issue too and we need your counsel.”
Keys nodded. “Go ahead.”
“We think that the ‘official’ Hale Emissary has been duplicitous if not an outright traitor.”
Everything that Stiles knew was laid out before the two men. Father Laughlin looked grim. “He hasn’t been a true emissary since he was with Talia from the looks of it.”
Keys added, “So there is no bond to break officially. But…there are some things you need to know and this is most disturbing.”
“There are implications with this that go far beyond your family,” Laughlin said. “It is known in some circles that some key people were compromised a few years before the fire and before the Red Court war.”
Stiles looked around the room and sat back in his chair. “The Hale family was targeted by Kate Argent and Alan Deaton was an accomplice.”
“Maybe,” Keys noted. “They may have worked independent of each other. Your father mentioned a fog concerning the Hales that didn’t start lifting until after the Night of the Red Court. Many spells broke that night. If Deaton has been compromised then he was set here long before the fire.”
“When did you talk to my dad?” Stiles demanded.
“You are not privy to every conversation,” Keys chided. “We’ve discussed your education at length. Yours and Ms. Martin’s for certain and Mr. Mahealani’s as well. We are almost certain he can be a healer.”
“We’re just now hearing of this?” Derek was incredulous. “Why hasn’t this been disclosed before?”
“We didn’t know for sure. Healers are rare and his talent level is good, but he has to want to use that talent.” Laughlin sighed. “This is the age when talent really starts to manifest itself. If it is earlier then that suggests that the talent is stronger. What we need to find you is a real resident advisor.”
Derek frowned again, “We would except we think the one we’re supposed to have is a traitor.”
“He needs to be interrogated and that way you will know what he was up to. But he’s been at this a long time. He may be able to resist,” Keys added. “It must be done without him suspecting anything.”
Allison pulled up next to her home and instantly was on edge. Small things her and her dad had laid out as warnings were messed up. Quickly she moved her phone out of her purse and into her hand. A knife her father insisted she carry was placed under books for easier access. Her instincts warned her of danger and she keyed in a distress sequence into her phone.
Phone in the same hand as her keys, she made her way to the door. It opened smoothly and Allison moved into the hallway acting as though nothing as out of sorts. “Dad? I’m home.”
“Ally…” She instantly moved to her left and swung her leg back. The attacker was behind the door. She managed to use her momentum to trap his arm against the doorframe and pushed at the right point until she heard the loud snap.
Wheeling, Allison brought her leg down on his knee, forcing the taller assailant lower. Reversing her hold on the knife, she brought the handle down on the base of his skull and knocked him out. Quickly she moved to the other side of the kitchen island to see her dad tied up from the waist down.
“This one was left, but three. They wanted to get you.” Chris frowned as he clutched both wrists trying to restore full blood flow. “Get some of your things and head to the manor.”
“You triggered the alarm sequence. I heard my phone chime. Hurry, Ally, I’m calling John to deal with this asshole. I’m sure Peter will be here soon. Go!”
Packing quickly was something she was experienced with. Two suitcases were loaded and she was out the door in under ten minutes. Before she could say anything Scott and Isaac were next to her car.
Scott nodded. “Drive. Peter and Derek are watching the condo. Let’s go.”
John sat down in chair next to the hospital bed that held the man found in the Argent household. Christian Campbell was leaning on the wall across from him. John motioned to the bed and frowned. “Any idea why he was holding a man hostage?”
“Can’t say that I do.”
“It seems that you keep particularly bad company.” John rubbed his chin and nodded at the bed again. “Kidnapping is a major offense and the FBI will be here later to take his statement. Any idea where the two men he was with went?”
Christian frowned. “No idea.”
“For a man who showed up with tons for friends you’re down to two now.” John smiled as he stood up. “By now you know the drill. Don’t leave town.”
“Wasn’t planning on it. Want to what happens when a real law enforcement officer shows up.” Campbell smiled and winked. “We’ll see it real soon.”
It was Wednesday and the pack was sitting outside enjoying lunch in perfect weather. Lydia flicked leaf off of her dress. “I have bad news. My mother refuses to let me host a Halloween party. She has some contractors preparing to redo the living room and she can’t be bothered to have them move everything twice.”
The whole pack looked dejected for a moment. Aiden perked up and smiled at Ethan. They both turned as one to smile at Stiles. “What about the loft?” they asked in unison.
“What about it?”
Scott’s face lit up. “Yeah, the loft! Derek still owns it and it has plenty of room. We just have to get a sound system.”
“Today is the 17th and we can have it on the 27th,” Allison said. “Ten days is a bit tight to get everything set up.”
Boyd sat up and nodded. “Danny and I can get the light and sound system up in running in two days. You in Danny?”
Danny nodded and all at once everyone turned to Stiles. He frowned. “What?”
Cora gave Stiles a kiss on the cheek. “What they all aren’t saying is that you are hereby appointed to get Derek’s permission to use the loft for the party. Consider it your punishment for not letting us have it at the manor.”
Stiles’ mouth dropped open. “Rude! And you suck!”
The plan ended up being one of a quick abduction and interrogation. Dr. Keys brewed a potion that would knock out Deaton and also render some of his defenses useless. They drafted the one person Deaton never met.
Cameron Hale pulled up outside the vet’s office. He was in Jackson’s new Audi Q5 SUV. Peter, Derek, and Chris were down the street waiting in Chris’ SUV. Cameron got out and walked into the office. The mountain ash defenses didn’t bother him since he’s learned how to overcome all those obstacles from his mother.
“Can I help you?”
The college student looked at the vet and nodded. “Do you know who I am?”
Deaton’s brow creased in confusion. “No, should I?”
Reaching out, Cameron offered his hand. “Cameron Hale, nice to meet you.”
Deaton looked around and started to say something, but Cameron was too quick stopping Deaton from reaching for whatever his hands were going for. He jabbed the syringe he had in his other hand right into Deaton’s neck. “Guess you didn’t want to meet me.”
Scott rolled his neck as he approached his house. He frowned as he walked up since his mom’s car was there and so was another car of a basic American model. Slowly he walked in, “Mom?”
He stopped dead in his tracks as he saw a man get up from the couch. He knew instantly who it was. “What are you doing here?”
Melissa stood up as well and moved towards Scott. “Scott, he showed up and is in town. He wanted to see you.”
Scott’s face grew dark. “You’ve been gone for years. No birthday cards, no Christmas calls, nothing and you just show up? You don’t get to call me your son because you aren’t a father!”
Scott turned and ran out of the house.
A single light shone down on the man bound to a chair. Derek, Peter, and Chris all lingered in the edge of the darkness. Dr. Keys and the Wizard Brandon Lewis were the only ones visible.
“Why am I tied up?” a groggy Alan Deaton asked.
“Dr. Deaton, my name is Brandon and I’m a wizard of the White Council. I’m here to ask you a few questions about the Hale fire and your role in helping the Hale family.”
“Kate Argent set the fire after she seduced Derek Hale. I had nothing to do with it.” Deaton started to gain more coherence in his voice.
“Why didn’t you help the family after the fire? You were Talia Hale’s emissary.”
There was a flash of orange light and then Deaton tried again at his bonds, but they didn’t move.
“You’ll find that I am far above the ones you’ve been teaching magic to in ability. In fact you just activated a truth spell.”
Deaton’s eyes flashed and he glared at the wizard. His voice took on a deeper resonance. “This isn’t over wizard. The power under the forest doesn’t belong to the wolves.”
“Who are you? Where is Dr. Deaton?” demanded the wizard.
“Oh, Dr. Deaton hasn’t been here in ages. We are part of the coming storm. We are everywhere.”
Derek had enough. “What did you do to my family? What do you know?”
“It’s the young whelp who didn’t have the decency to die. Kate was supposed to kill you, but she never took instruction well. Not all of you died, but even thralls like this one can’t be controlled all the time. But you have our attention now.”
Lewis stepped forward. “What are your plans?”
“Divide and conquer of course.” Another flash ripped through the room. The wolves covered their ears and everyone blinked trying to clear their eyes. When it all cleared the chair was in pieces and Deaton was gone.
Peter frowned. “That could have gone better.”
Stiles was trying like hell to figure out his Calculus homework when his window opened. He knew Jackson was out grocery shopping with his dad so he jumped when Scott came through the window.
“Are you kidding me? I thought we were done with giving Stiles’ heart attacks!” he looked at Scott and was instantly over and pulling him into a hug. “What’s wrong?”
“My dad…he…he was at the house.”
A wide range of emotions flooded Stiles all at once. He hugged Scott tighter and wanted to head over to the McCall house and tear Stuart McCall apart. “What is he doing here?”
“He wanted to see me.” Scott rubbed his face against Stiles’ shirt. Only Stiles knew how much his dad’s leaving had hurt him. “I ran out of the house.”
In a flash, Stiles was digging through his dresser and closet. “Come on, I’m taking you to the Manor. You have a room there. I keep telling you to leave clothes but you never do.”
“Is now really the time, Stiles?”
‘Dad, taking Scott to manor. His dad in town, might want to check on Melissa – love Stiles.’
“Just texted dad so he knows. You’re lucky Allison is staying there for safety reasons. She’ll pamper you.”
Stiles pulled up to the manor and parked on the parking pad. He led Scott through the garage and into the basement. They stopped when saw Cameron sparring with Isaac. Allison, Derek, the twins, and Cora were leaning against the wall watching.
“You’re telegraphing everything your doing, Isaac. I can read your movements before you’ve committed.” Cameron motioned for Derek to join him in the middle.
The two born wolves trade jabs, blows, and move an incredible speed. Neither have shifted so there are no claw attacks being exchanged. Cameron’s attacks are perfect form while Derek’s counter moves speak to his mixed background.
Stiles was enthralled until he sees Scott next to him begin to get angrier and angrier. “What is it?”
Scott’s eyes turn blood red and he took off after Derek screaming, “What did you do?”
Derek turned just in time to take a charging Scott and use all that momentum to fling him across the room. Derek shifted to his beta form and roared. Scott shifted and they started going at it. Stiles picked up Scott’s phone and quickly looked through the messages. He tapped the voice mail app.
‘Scott, its Alan. Be careful. Derek is up to something. He tried to have me kidnapped but I managed to get away. Don’t trust him. Now that you’re an alpha he’ll try to keep you down. Trust none of them, they all want to poison you against me. Be safe. I’ll call you when I can.’
Stiles turned and watched as Derek was doing his best not to hurt Scott, but Scott was fueled by anger and after Derek’s blood. He didn’t even pause as he made his way up to the battle. His right hand clenched tight as he gathered his energy.
“You fucking idiot!” He punched Scott dead in the face with enough electricity in it to shock him back into human form. “Enough!”
He knelt next to Scott and pulled him into a hug. “I heard the voicemail. He’s lying to you. I’ll show you what we know, but he was using you, Scott. I’m sorry.”
“Why…” Scott buried his face into Stiles’ shirt and started to cry.
Derek moved forward and looked down at them. “Deaton?” Derek sighed at Stiles’ confirmation. “Is Scott…okay?”
Stiles knew what Derek was really asking. “He’s not tainted. He’s just heartbroken. He’ll be okay, but it will take time.”
Allison came over and helped Scott up. The boy looked at Derek and turned his neck up at him. “I’m sorry. If…if you want to make me a beta again, I’ll understand.”
Slowly walking forward, Derek stood in front of him and slowly shook his head. “You never wanted power to have power. That makes you a perfect alpha in my opinion. Go rest and we’ll explain everything later.” Before he walked away, Derek pulled Scott into a tight hug. “When we first met I told you I wanted us to be brothers and that is still true. It’s fine. Let Allison take care of you.”
The next morning Melissa showed up at the manor. She walked in and saw Scott sitting next to Derek in the Den. “Honey, are you okay?” It broke her heart to see her son look so lost.
“No…mom, Deaton…Deaton isn’t who I thought he was.”
She heard it from Stiles late the night before and knew how shattered Scott had been, but left him in the care of Allison and the pack. Now she moved over and gave him a hug. “Stiles told me last night.”
“Is he still here?”
That was another subject she didn’t want her son to face. “Yes. He’s taking over the serial killer investigations. He suspects John of gross incompetence.”
Derek took in a deep breath but said nothing.
She looked at Derek and sighed. “He’s going after you, Derek. He reviewing everything since Laura’s death.”
Scott growled. “He’s an asshole, Derek.”
“And he’s a nonbeliever. He was mentioned at the Ball, but I didn’t know he was your father. He was sent here to make life difficult.” Derek paused and looked at Melissa. “He and John have a history?”
She nodded. “It got very ugly after Claudia died. Derek, he can be very persistent. If he was sent here with a mission he will do it.”
Derek shrugged. “I’ve been hunted before. Go to school, Scott. Be with your friends and I’ll see you later.”
Derek moved to the study after Melissa and Scott left. He pulled up the house servers and quickly started keying in information. He heard his uncle and brother approaching but didn’t stop.
“Winchester called me to warn me that a new lead agent was officially in town.” Peter sat down opposite from Derek. He motioned for Cameron to take the other chair.
“I know, he’s Scott’s father. He’s coming for us.” Derek turned his monitor around to let Peter see what he was working on.
Peter’s eyebrows shot up. “That is risky, but at this point we have no choice.”
Derek nodded. “We are too young and inexperienced. I’ll be twenty-four in three weeks. Cameron is twenty. Everyone else is eighteen or under. You, Chris and John aren’t enough. We need help.”
Marin Morrell walked out into the parking lot and rolled her eyes when she saw Jennifer Blake approaching. “What do you want?”
“I want you to leave me alone.” Blake moved closer. “You don’t scare me. I know you’re a witch.”
The former emissary rolled her eyes. “And you’re an emotional vampire. Took me long enough to figure it out. Except you can work some sorcery. Fascinating.”
It was Jennifer’s turned to roll her eyes. “I’m in hiding you bitch. I want to be left alone. Except this damned town is crawling with werewolves, witches, and hunters. I ran away from San Francisco to get away from that stuff.”
Suddenly all the lights went out in the school and in the parking lot. Everything was pitch black. A mist started to come from the woods and creep along the ground. Marin blindly pulled something from her purse and threw it in the air. In a flash in formed a perfect circle around her and Jennifer.
“Thank you,” Blake muttered and then added something of her own to the protection circle.
Slowly the two women watched as spirits began to walk around the school. An eerie light emanated from each of the spirits. The same light started coming from the windows of the school.
“Okay, I may be a vampire, but this is creepy!”
Marin shuddered and started rubbing her arms. “Something is pulling out a ton of energy.”
In the midst of the fog, a shrouded figure approached the women. A deep dark voice came from the figure. “Two for the price of one.” In a flash the protection circle shattered and both women knocked unconscious. The figure hovered over them and laughed. “More than I need.” The spirits, fog, and women vanished leaving behind a broken circle and two purses.
Saw a recent picture of Tom Welling showing some gray hair and he became the mental image of Andrew Hale. Those who know Dresden will pick up that Nemesis is showing its head. Definite more blending of the universes now.
I use real life events as signposts in this universe.
Chapter 5: The Shape of Things to Come
The FBI swarmed all over Beacon Hills High School that Saturday morning. Special Agent Stuart McCall pulled on his latex gloves and squatted down next to the purses of the two abducted teachers. He ran his finger through some kind of ash circle and frowned as it slightly shocked him.
“Sir, all the clocks in the school stopped at 7:45 last night.”
Agent McCall nodded at the officer and looked at all the burned out parking lights. Heavy footfalls made him turn his head and a scowl covered his face. “What do you want Winchester?”
An answering shrug infuriated McCall and deepened his glare. “Agent Winchester, do you have something of note to add to the case at the moment or not?”
“Are you aware that the cell phones and the car batteries have no power at all? That the rooms closest to the parking lot, anything that had batteries are also drained of all power?” Sam pointed a few feet behind them. “There are some scorch marks back this way we can’t identify.”
Two more officers came down and motioned for the agents. “We pulled the school surveillance. Ummm…yeah…”
McCall stood up and followed them. He saw Sheriff Stilinski and tightened his hands into fists. But he said nothing as the sheriff joined the agents in the security room.
The tech switched on several monitors. “The school had high-def security cameras. Now the camera furthest from the school went out first, but it does record this mist rolling in from the forest. The cameras from the school catch the two teachers - chatting – before they notice the mist coming in around their ankles.
“Here is where it gets creepy. The lights go out in the parking lot and the school, but we see all these …people start walking around. The light we’re picking up is coming from them! Now the cameras are on batteries and the one in the parking lot is down, but two are still picking up what is going on out there. Look at this flash and the teachers are inside the circle we saw out there.
“That’s when we start really seeing people all over the school. The janitor freaks out and runs in this frame. But watch…a dark figure approaches the teachers and there is this flash, and the teachers are on the ground. And in another instant, they are all gone. Everything. The time stamps don’t lie.”
Agent Camille Adams moved right into McCall’s face. “Okay, hotshot, explain that!”
“I don’t have to answer to you,” he countered lamely. “This investigation is just beginning. Send copies of that video to the lab and let them pull it apart. Where is the janitor?”
John stepped forward. “At the hospital, being treated for shock. I just spoke to the Attending and he’s been sedated.”
“Sedated? Why?” McCall demanded. “He is the only witness to this…incident we have.”
“He’s a man of Faith, Agent McCall, and he kept saying the devil was in the school,” the sheriff replied. “The doctors had no choice since his heart rate and blood pressure were such that they’re scared he was going to stroke out.”
McCall threw his hands up in frustration. “Argh, this town! I want a guard detailed outside his room starting now.” He rubbed his forehead and then stared at his fellow agents. “We have two missing teachers, go find them!”
The pack was gathered in the basement den watching the security footage from the school. Danny built in a hack that recorded everything. Once word of the kidnapping spread he pulled the files.
“So there were ghosts walking the halls of the school?” Jackson stated plainly. “That’s just great.”
Erica threw her hands in the air and then slouched in the chair. “What’s next? Freaking…”
“Don’t you dare say the ‘Z’ word,” yelled Isaac as he climbed over Lydia and Aiden to cover Erica’s mouth. “Ghosts are one thing that is something else completely!”
Taking a deep breath, Derek cleared his throat and pointed back to the display. “Something took Blake and Morrell. I will be teaching on Monday. The school already called. Stiles, the charms, do they help against ghosts as well?”
Lydia and Stiles shared a look and they nodded. He waved his hands in the air for a second before speaking. “They were designed to ward against demons. Ghosts are much weaker and lack force unless they are haunting, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.”
“Who took them? That figure, have we seen him before?” that question came from Scott.
“So far all our guess and assumptions have been wrong.” Chris Argent stared at Peter and shrugged. “We are out of our depth. Much of what is happening has roots that go deeper than anything we know. Without Talia or an elder wolf we’re operating blind. We need some expertise.”
Derek nodded. “I made a call last week. We’ll have a few visitors soon.”
“How many,” Peter asked quickly. “Do we have any idea who they are?”
A slight shrug was the initial response. “I don’t think any of them will be from the primary families. Probably all made wolves not born. Jasmine and I spent some time discussing our temporary needs and she understood.”
Cameron shifted from the wall he’d been holding up. “What about an emissary?”
A slight murmuring filtered through the room. Peter moved to Derek and paused for a second. “One would have to be available and there are none free that we know of. Given the size of our pack we do need one.”
“So to recap, we have someone out there, no idea who it is, that kidnapped two of our teachers and Deaton is still missing too.” Stiles looked around the room for a second. “Did I miss anything?”
“Vengeance demon, ghosts at the school, asshole dead-beat dads in town, all kinds of sacrifices, and lots of college decisions,” Lydia quipped. “That about covers it.”
Agent McCall eyes darkened as they took in the site. Someone had been brazen enough to do this. Hanging upside down from the large oak tree in front of his motel was the missing veterinarian, Alan Deaton. One leg was crossed behind the other with his hands tied behind his head. The man’s eyes were missing and the heart had been surgically removed.
“That is the classic ‘Hanged Man’ pose,” Winchester stated as he joined the crowd.
“Hanged Man?” McCall could not help but ask.
“Classic twelfth card of the Tarot,” Agent Adams said as she joined them. “Did you hear anything, Agent McCall? You were closest on scene and this is right outside your window.”
“I heard nothing. This is a deliberate sign to show how ineffective the Bureau has been to date!”
Adams moved closer to the victim’s body. “We need to find out if anything was removed. Keys is still in town isn’t he?”
“Your quack?” McCall sneered.
Sam ignored him. “Yes, we can have the body to him in two hours. There haven’t been eleven prior murders. Why would he use the Hanged Man? The Virgins and the Warriors…”
“What we don’t know about all of this would fill a library,” Adams countered. “The rituals on the virgins was a combination of some sort. The Blood Eagle had nothing in common with the prior rituals. There was the Harris teacher, but he looked like he was tortured and killed.”
McCall stared at them and shook his head. “You just named seven murders and you’ve gotten nowhere with them.”
“And yet, we know you met with a man, upon arriving in town, who associates with people who attack schools.” She alluded to his meeting with Christian Campbell. “Do not assume that we aren’t trying to solve these murders Agent McCall. You don’t seem to comprehend that there is more going on here than meets the eye.”
“I’m tired of you trying to convince the Bureau that there is supernatural crap happening.” He narrowed his eyes at her. “Your poor skills find excuses instead of solving cases, Adams. I will get to the bottom of this.”
It was early in the morning with the sun threatening to rise and start the day. The diner wasn’t busy yet, but the pace increased every few minutes as people rushed around.
“I’m afraid your return to town has coincided with an increase in tensions between agents.” Bronson Keys slowly moved his spoon through his coffee. He glanced up at Father Laughlin and frowned. “Agent McCall is an unbeliever, his partner will be here in a few days. Kyle Benn is known to harbor a deep hatred for all supernatural entities. Together they make a lethal pairing in the Bureau.”
“How do they exist together if one believes and the other doesn’t?” Laughlin asked as he started to doctor his coffee.
“McCall looks the other way when Benn starts getting out of hand. He knows many hunters.”
It took several minutes for Laughlin to gather his thoughts. “I am less concerned with the FBI than I am with the entity we are dealing with. A soul eater is one thing, but the variety of rituals being used has me increasingly concerned. Are they being done by one person or by several?”
Keys ran his finger through the condensation from the water glass. “There are eight murders now. The demon was a huge one, but this Deaton…how does he fit in?”
Neither man said anything for a bit before Laughlin shrugged. “We need to talk to Peter Hale. He’s the only one of the pack that knows anything significant of werewolf lore. He’s the ambassador to the Summer Court, he’d know enough to be of help.”
“We are getting in deep with this pack.” Keys motioned for the waitress.
“I’ve noticed. I keep getting the feeling that is one of those points that if we fail then we lose far more than what we know.” Laughlin pulled out his phone. “We don’t know all the players, but we do know that this place has become critical.”
Derek strode through the halls of the school purposefully. The scent of fear clung to every surface. He dressed in a dark suit to project a specific image. As he passed students in the halls he could feel them relax a little. He was projecting a bit of power to help calm the anxiety in the air. Luckily, none of the students knew about the ghostly visitors from Friday evening.
He dropped his messenger bag on the desk that was Ms. Blake’s and that he’d be covering for four days this week. It was difficult to hold in his laughter as Stiles walked in the door and openly checked him out. The first time he’d subbed Stiles practically ravished him when they saw each other later. Apparently his mate loved it when his dressed up.
“Shall we discuss Beowulf?”
The answering groans actually made Derek smile. Perhaps teaching kids and torturing them could be fun.
All during the morning he kept his senses extended as far as possible while keeping attention on the discussion in front of him. “Listen, I’m in my early twenties so high school wasn’t that long ago for me. I’m not your teacher and there is a state curriculum that needs to be followed, but think of this story as a precursor to other stories you like. How many of you know about Tolkien?”
Most of the hands in the room shot up.
“Good. His stories didn’t happen in a vacuum, they had sources of inspiration. All great stories have their roots someplace and it all comes from somewhere.” Derek got up from leaning against the desk. “The challenge becomes finding your own inspiration in crafting your own story. We all have one. You might consider it boring or epic, depends on how exciting you are.” He smiled at the class. “Beowulf is one of those stories that created inspiration in others. So as you read it think about what this story might have fed into other stories…”
He stopped and looked out the window for a long moment. “Excuse me for one moment.” He walked into the hall and pulled out his phone. He texted the research group of the pack. ‘Something inspired those ritual killings. There is a common historical link. Dig out the oldest books.’
Walking back into the class he adjusted his glasses and smiled again. “Left the iron on, now where were we…”
Agent McCall sat down across from Christian Campbell and slid a folder over to him. “Most of your men are not here anymore. Argent has given up the game and only keeps two hunters here as personal protection.”
“Argent is living at the Hale manor along with his daughter. We have no way of getting to her as leverage against him.” Campbell threw back his whiskey shot. “Stuart, I’ve known you for a decade and you’ve never believed. Kyle believes but his sister died in Chicago. He has a reason. Why are you so sure about this? Not that I mind, but this ain’t just werewolves anymore. There is serious magic being thrown around.”
McCall scoffed. “Magic, please!”
“Despite everything you’ve seen, you refuse to see the truth!” Campbell drank his beer and shook his head. “If you don’t believe then why are you here? Winchester and Adams believe, not the right things, but they believe.”
“There is a cult here! The Hales were running it for years, but no one could see it. All that money from way back when. Then the fire happened right when I was getting close. I wasn’t able to get near Laura Hale or Derek. And Peter was practically dead! Now she’s dead and Peter doesn’t look like he was ever in a fire. As for Derek…”
Campbell’s eyes narrowed. “Listen to me, jackass, you may be FBI, but that doesn’t give you the Wisdom of Solomon. You need to open your fucking eyes to the truth you bastard before you get a lot of us killed. There is shit happening here and it isn’t a damned cult! Talk to Kyle and listen! Those kids that hang out with Hale are dangerous. The Stilinski and Martin kid the most.”
“Why are they the most dangerous? I’ve known Stiles for years and he’s just an obnoxious little shit.”
“You need to open your eyes! They are the brains of that operation and run the show.” Campbell shook his head again. “You’re supposed to be so smart and yet you know nothing. Something big is coming. Those murders, I called a few friends. There is a ritual being performed and as much as I hate werewolves, this isn’t them.”
“They are a series of murders. It’s a serial killer. This is what they do!”
Campbell got up and threw some money down on the table. “Winchester and Adams know the truth. I can’t leave because my buddies died here. I need to know exactly what’s going on. You and I though, call me when you get your head out of your ass. Because the first one to get ganked will be you. The rest of us will be running away at high speed.”
The metal rang as the two blades met. Peter and Cameron danced around each other as they practiced blade work. “You keep dropping your left foot old man,” Cameron taunted his uncle.
A quick flurry of strikes and Cameron was forced to use his speed to escape what would have been a nasty cut. Peter winked at his nephew. “Deception has its uses pup. I may not be as strong as I once was, but I still have skill.”
For Cameron, this was a dream come true. He’d seen Peter spar with his Uncle James and even with Aunt Talia. His mother and the Australian pack had drilled this art into him. All too often werewolves relied only on claws and raw strength to win a fight. Not Cameron, his superior abilities were channeled through existing martial forms. He knew that Peter and Derek were the same. His chats with Chris Argent were illuminating. Chris ran all the new betas through rigorous training over the summer. The Hales were wolves honed into powerful fighting machines. An unfortunate necessity that had been forced upon them by experience.
The sparing went on for twenty minutes before Cameron was able to overcome Peter’s defenses. “Enough, pup, I’m nowhere near the wolf I used to be.”
“Seem to be plenty to me,” Cameron countered while wiping the sweat from his forehead.
It took Peter a few minutes before he moved closer and sighed. “That does lead to something that I’ve wanted to bring up with you for a while.”
Cameron nodded, but said nothing. Peter always had a way of explaining himself and it was always in his own time.
“I’ve discussed this with Derek a little. We, as a family, need an order of succession. Scott as an alpha is all well and good except there must be a Hale alpha as well. Cora is too young and…not ready for that, maybe not ever. I…am not capable of being an alpha anymore.”
That startled Cameron to speech. “Why not?”
“I died. The true spark of life that existed in me was snuffed. It was rekindled by deep magic, but is not capable of igniting to greater heights. I cannot reproduce any longer either. I am a Gamma Wolf, an advisor. You must be the next Hale alpha if anything happens to Derek.”
“I’m not fit to be an alpha.” Cameron leaned back against the wall stunned. “I was an Omega for so long…”
“You are a born wolf and a Hale. My parents are your grandparents. You were raised in a wolf household. You can weave magic, your spark is unique. You can be an alpha.”
“I need to talk to Derek about this.”
Peter gave Cameron’s shoulder a squeeze. “Of course. Such talks are never easy, but as we’ve learned they are a must.”
The manor was full of tension as Lydia made her way inside looking for Allison. It was early evening, but she knew something was off. She’d gone straight upstairs, but now she made her way back down to the basement den where all the pack movie nights were held.
Leaning against the wall she stared as Derek leaned forward from his seat. Peter was just as engaged. Stiles was leaning against Derek. Erica and Boyd were coiled in tension as well. The twins were leaning back against one of the sofa’s with Danny sprawled out behind them. Cameron, Isaac, and Jackson were also captivated by the TV. Shaking her head she looked at the TV and sighed. “Baseball?”
“Shhhh!” came the collective response.
“The Cardinals have runners in scoring position. Bottom of the second, two on and two out. Kyle Lohse at the plate. Matt Cain has been nothing short of brilliant in the post season when he’s in a jam. Lohse, line drive caught by a leaping Brandon Crawford. The Giants escape the inning and still lead one to nothing. Bottom half of the inning coming up.”
The whole room exploded as the ball was snagged. Lydia’s head shook and jumped a little as Cora came in with bags of food. “They sent you?”
“I volunteered. Baseball is okay, but Derek lives and breathes it.” Cora smiled over at the room and handed a bag to Lydia. “I never thought I’d see this again! Peter is trying to keep his excitement together. Cameron loves baseball as much as Derek does.”
If one of the guys had walked up and handed her a bag like this then she would have kicked him and dumped the bag all over him. But it was Cora who took even less shit from the guys than she did. After checking out the contents of the bags, Lydia rolled her eyes. “Wings?”
“I’m not on clean up duty, Jackson and Stiles are so what do I care,” Cora smiled at her again. “You here to see Allison?”
“Is she with Scott?”
The answering look from Cora was all she needed, but soon Lydia found herself seated at one of the side tables, good view of the room and TV, and Cora near her. “I’ll split my quesadilla with you. I got enough for twice this many people.”
Before long Lydia was swept up in the excitement of the room. She jumped up and cheered with the rest of them when the Giants scored five runs in the third inning. Cora snagged her and pulled her to sit in front of Jackson. It was around the sixth inning she noticed that Derek was wearing a Giants jersey. She actually laughed when she noticed that Cameron, Jackson, Isaac, and Aiden were wearing Giants caps.
Stiles met her glance while he shrugged. “If they win I have to wear a jersey to school. In violation of the love I have for the Mets.”
Derek looked up and gave Stiles one of his patented, ‘why me’ looks. “What Stiles fails to mention is how he was so adamant that the Giants weren’t going to beat the Reds in the last series and so adamant that the Giants would fall in this series that he wrote a check his ass can’t cash.”
Snickers from around the room made Stiles frown. “Fine! I was wrong! See I can admit that.”
Answering groans from around the room had Lydia rolling her eyes. “Stiles, my dear friend, when you are right and everyone else is wrong, except me of course, you rub it everyone’s faces. When you win you do victory dances. Wearing a jersey to school is hardly a massive blow to your ego.”
The hunch of his shoulders told Lydia there was more. “What else was forfeit?”
“Next time the Mets are in town or if we go back to New York to see a game I have to wear a Giants jersey.”
Derek glanced over at Stiles. “And?”
“I have to cheer for the Giants when we go,” scowled the teen.
The pack laughed at Stiles’ dilemma which became official when the Cardinals went down in the ninth. Lydia looked back to see that Scott and Allison had joined the group at some point. “When did you get in?”
Scott laughed, “Early enough to hear all about Stiles new wardrobe tomorrow. Though that might get him some points at school. Maybe he should wear a Cardinal jersey; you know the ones who lost.”
“Shut up, Scott!” roared Stiles.
Derek moved over to Danny and handed him one of his credit cards. “Four tickets, Game 2, spend what it takes to get me seats. I missed the last World Series the Giants went to.”
Lydia’s jaw dropped when she looked at the card. “That’s a Palladium card.”
“Of course it is dear,” Peter sassed. “What’s the use of having money if you can’t flaunt it from time to time? I hope my dear nephew that I am one of those four tickets? Seeing how I took you to games growing up.”
“I’m going,” Derek announced. “The other three will have to wait and see.”
It wasn’t often that Danny was asked to do something for the pack that didn’t involve computers. But when Stiles came to him and said he needed to go see Dr. Bronson Keys, he did so. The drive over to a professional medical building increased Danny’s nerves. He felt fine, but Stiles had been very cryptic about what this meeting entailed. His last medical exam had been over the summer for sports reasons. Nothing had been found then, but his mind couldn’t help but start to worry. He was with werewolves who could smell anything. He heard Cora and Erica discussing that they could tell that Senora Cruz was pregnant and knew this by scent. Surely Jackson, his best friend since forever would have said something if Danny was sick. Right?
That Dr. Keys was part of all the supernatural bullshit also crossed his mind, but Danny wasn’t a wolf or a mage. He was a computer genius. Every time the FBI was mentioned he cringed a bit worried about the conditions of his release. After a quick run through of the breathing exercises that Derek, Chris, and Cameron were teaching, Danny walked into the building and found the office he was looking for. The door was unlocked and he walked in slowly.
“Hello,” he called. “Anyone here? I’m Danny, I’m supposed to meet Dr. Keys.”
A tall broad shouldered man with straight shoulder length dark hair came out. “I’m Dr. Keys. Please come in.”
The suite looked empty except for some boxes and a few chairs. “What is this place?”
“My future office. My wife wants to return to a small town setting. Our son and daughter will like the change of pace.” He moved closer to the teenager and motioned for him to sit. “You feel anxious.”
“Well, I was growing worried I had something medically wrong with me.” Danny chuckled softly. “Why am I here?”
“When you joined the pack, this pack in particular, it turned something from a potential ability into a budding one.” Keys looked Danny in the eyes. “You could be a healer, Daniel. It’s all in you to do it.”
Rocked, Danny sat back in the chair and didn’t say anything for a few minutes. “What would I have to do?”
“That is easy. All you have to do is learn. You don’t have to go to medical school, though that is an option.” At Danny’s frown Keys laughed and moved on. “We need to train you in how to use this gift.”
“I need to think about it, but I think I will.”
“Good. I will instruct you personally. Once I’ve moved, it will be easier to teach you, but once you’re ready we’ll start with the basics.”
Back when they started designing the manor, Derek wondered if the twelve bedrooms would be enough for the pack. He never included his master suite or Peter’s carriage house in the total because those were taken. The two guest suites in the basement also didn’t count because they were temporary housing.
There were two rooms he held in reserve and while they were on the plans, he knew only Peter knew about them. Slowly walking on the third floor, he came to a door that hadn’t been opened. Maybe one of the pack had gotten curious and looked, but it just led to the attic space above. There was a similar door on the opposite side of the third floor that also led to the attic.
As he climbed, he looked to his left and opened another door. He always wanted to live in one of these as a kid, but his parents made him have a second floor bedroom. Now Cameron would get to have a fourth floor attic loft. His brother had no idea what was in store for him, but he didn’t want him getting used to living in one of the guest bedrooms. He wasn’t a guest. He was a Hale and he would have his own space.
They were the only two in residence at the moment with everyone at school. Chris and Peter were out doing whatever they did. It didn’t take long for Cameron to find him. Derek moved closer to the large window hidden from outside view by some of the exterior stonework. “What do you think?”
“This is awesome. Great size and it has an en suite. Very cool.”
“It’s yours,” Derek said. “You have no idea how…getting you back has helped all of us so much. We can never truly heal, but finding you has helped.”
Cameron smiled and then hugged Derek like a lifeline. “I thought I was it. Alone…and suddenly there are four of us and a full pack. I can feel those ties, weak as they are, and it is healing me as well.”
Derek flashed his red eyes at Cameron. “You are family and you are pack.”
“I never wanted to be part of pack after what we had as a family.” Cameron stared into Derek’s eyes. “I missed it.”
Nodding, he pulled Cameron close and whispered in his ear. “Accept my bite and fully rejoin us.”
It wasn’t hard or deep, but enough to draw blood. But it was the blood of family and brothers thought to have lost each other. The pack bond roared to full life in an instant. Slowly, Derek ran his tongue over the mark and it healed. He pulled back and smiled. “Welcome home.”
The bonds roared in Cameron and he smiled at his brother. “We still need to talk about what Peter told me.”
“We will, but not today. This is for happier things.”
The meeting had been impromptu, but necessary. The rectory of Our Lady of Sorrows wasn’t in use permanently. Father Laughlin arranged for them to gather there in relative obscurity.
Peter walked in and could feel in the air how infrequently the place was used. The air was stale and full of dust, but the furniture had been cleaned recently. “This feels rather clandestine.”
The three sat down and had a cup of tea. Laughlin cleared his throat and gave an awkward smile. “Mr. Hale, we needed to speak with you because you might be the only one who knows enough lore…”
“What do you need specifically?” Peter asked. “I’m back in my right mind, but I find that direct questions keep me on track.”
Keys nodded. “Let’s start at the end and work backwards. “What do you know about Alan Deaton?”
“He was the former emissary to the Hale Pack under my sister, Talia. We discovered recently that many of his actions then and now were done under some form of coercion and made him a traitor to the pack.” Peter’s tone was flat and icy.
“An emissary traitor with deep local ties. A demon in exile is also executed.” Keys leaned back and studied his hands for a moment. “The kidnapped teachers, what do you know about them?”
“Marin Morrell was an emissary as well, but next to nothing about Jennifer Blake,” answered Peter. “Morrell would most likely be the next sacrifice if the pattern holds. Given that Harris was a demon and all.”
Out of nowhere Peter flinched and leaned back in his chair. A shudder passed through him and he slumped a bit. A small smile played on his face as he wiped at one of his eyes. “Sorry, a pack bond thing.”
Laughlin and Keys shared a look before Laughlin engaged Peter again. “What did you know about the demon?”
“He was up to something, but he was bound, practically castrated as it were. He still held his power as you know, but couldn’t use it. What concerned us the most was his knowledge base. He could still access all of it. He did something over the summer, but we aren’t sure what. We do know he lied.” Peter leaned forward. “I am well aware of how versed you both are in my world. Whatever killed a demon and sacrificed virgins isn’t something you take chances with.
“Stiles and Lydia are both versed in magic and amazingly capable, but whatever is going on is the Big Leagues and those two are barely Double A. You need to summon a heavy hitter.”
Stiles felt it first. He was in a class that held Lydia, Danny, Allison, and Cora. He could literally map it as they felt the change in the pack bond. Being Alpha Mate, he felt it first, but Cora felt it second being a born-wolf and a Hale. Lydia, Allison, and Danny all registered it at the same time. All of them looked over at Stiles and he blinked for a moment. AP Psychology was boring and a blow off elective for them so he just leaned over the table and muttered, “Derek officially added Cameron.”
The three humans shared a look which Lydia gave voice to. “Why did we feel that then?”
“He’d been away from the pack too long,” Cora answered. “The night…the night mom died the familial pack bond died too. Too much death happened too close together. Derek needed to rebond with me and Peter as well. His made betas never needed it because he created the bond. We felt this because Cameron was a powerful wolf in his own right and a Hale. It recreated the bond that used to exist.”
Allison and Danny stared at her for a second. Lydia smiled brightly. “You and I are going to have a long chat about all things werewolf. Peter likes to parse things out in small dollops and Derek…he’s Derek.”
The bell rang for lunch and the pack assembled; all of them feeling the buzz of Cameron’s bonding. Scott plopped down next to Stiles and leaned his head on his shoulder. “Tell me I’m still your favorite.”
“You’re still my favorite,” Stiles said automatically. He blinked and turned back to Scott. “What?”
Erica rolled her eyes and stole a Hostess cupcake from Boyd. “Scotty is worried that you’ll like Cameron more than him.”
“Have you talked to him?” scoffed Jackson. “Dude’s like a paladin werewolf. Freaking jack of all trades!”
“How do you know what a paladin is?” challenged Aiden.
“I…I played a few games in my time,” Jackson said as he slowly slid down a bit in his chair.
Danny started laughing. “Don’t lie, Jackson! Summer between middle and high school he spent all his spare time playing Warcraft. Well, he played that and with something else…”
Lydia waved them off and turned back to Scott. “Is our alpha having self-esteem issues?”
“Shut up,” Scott mumbled.
“I don’t know, Scotty,” Stiles leered. “I’m thinking Isaac is my favorite right now. Who else can get Jackson to scream that loud?”
The table erupted in laughter at Isaac’s and Jackson’s twin beet red blush. Scott laughed and then lightly punched Stiles’ shoulder. “You have a point there. Not that any of us needs to hear that or talk about it.”
Cora smacked Stiles and then petted Isaac’s head. “Don’t’ worry about it. You’re the cutest one at the table. As for you, Scott, don’t worry about Cameron. He and Derek were like two peas in a pod. If anything Stiles should get jealous because those two will spend all their time together.”
“I can’t believe we are going to see a World Series game!” Stiles yelled while bouncing around in the back seat.
Peter reached over and pushed him down to make him sit still. “How you convinced Derek to bring you along I will never know.”
“Extortion was involved,” Derek deadpanned. “Mate bonds were invoked, there were tears, wailing, and lots of threats.”
“That was all on your end dear,” Stiles laughed. “I just threatened to withhold sex for the next month. I have toys and was not above using them in front of him.”
“Way too much information,” muttered Cameron. He smiled as they pulled up to the valet parking area of AT&T Park.
Derek gave the valet his keys and all four of them made their way into the park. Paying over $5000 per seat they were going for the full experience, all of them were wearing team jerseys. The Black & Orange colors played well in October. Everything about the park felt different from their summer visit. This was the World Series.
Stiles went and bought all kinds of souvenirs for the pack since this ended up being a Hale family outing. Cora refused to go citing the need to wash her hair. The reality was she didn’t like baseball that much to waste a championship ticket.
The park was decked out in red-white-and-blue bunting. Signs that this was the World Series were everywhere. It struck Stiles how much the Hale men were smiling. He could imagine them when they were much younger coming here and having fun. He hadn’t seen it during the summer trip down, but maybe having Cameron back really had allowed a hole in their souls to heal a little bit.
After finally getting settled into their seats Stiles groaned, “We paid how much for these seats?”
Peter rolled his eyes again. “We didn’t buy them, Derek did. And these are third base line field level; what do you want?”
“Hey Derek looks like your crush is pitching,” Stiles sang.
“Madison Bumgarner?” Cameron asked. “Really?”
“He’s kinda hot and he’s really big,” Derek defended.
Now Stiles rolled his eyes. “Sam is really big too!” Before he knew it he was being hugged by his werewolf. “Get off me you oaf!”
“And yet who got me? Don’t get all jealous.”
“Children please! We are at a game.” Peter sat back and winked at Stiles. “If anyone is going to pick up a new boyfriend it will be Cameron. Derek and I are off the market.”
“Who says I want a boyfriend? I could find a nice attractive girl,” Cameron barked. “Don’t make assumptions, dear uncle.”
The other guys started laughing. Peter slapped Cameron on the back. “While most wolves are omnisexual, you tend to like big beefy types. I believe the actor who plays Thor is of particular interest to you?”
“Shut up,” Cameron muttered. “Watch the game.”
The game was scoreless through the bottom half of the Seventh. Everyone stood for the Seventh Inning Stretch. Stiles pulled out his phone and started texting the pack. The game started again, but he was trying to figure out a new word with Isaac when the crowd went wild.
Derek gave him a look. “If you paid attention you’d know how we scored.”
The Giants scored again in the Eighth Inning and Sergio Romo came on and closed out the game in the Ninth. The Hales were jubilant and Stiles was happy for them. “Ugh, I still have school tomorrow.”
“Sucks to be you,” laughed Peter.
Despite being ecstatic that the Giants were up 2-0 on the Tigers and being able to watch Game 2 live, Derek was wiped out when the doorbell chimed. Peter and Cameron were in residence as was Chris, but no one was moving towards the door. With great effort, Derek got up from his Sitting Room and walked down the stairs to get the front door.
“Really need to think about getting a servant to do this,” he muttered. He was shocked when he opened the door and three members of the White Court were on his doorstep. “Hello,” was all he got out.
“Greetings, Lord Hale. If we could bother you for a moment we are here on a matter of the utmost concern.”
Derek could sense the other wolves approaching and nodded to the three on his doorstep. Stepping aside, he motioned for them to enter. “Please follow me into the Drawing Room.” Taking a left instead of the normal right, he led them into the never used Drawing Room. It opened into the Music Room. He closed those doors and motioned for them to take seats in the formal chairs. Peter and Cameron followed them into the room and Derek motioned for them to sit as well.
“What brings you to my home?”
“We recently discovered that one Julia Baccari, who you know as Jennifer Blake, has gone missing. It is not widely known, but she is a member of House Malvora and has some special talents.”
Peter rolled his eyes. “How does that involve us?”
“She was living in your area when this happened. She may have been…on respite…but she is one of ours. We view this as a matter of honor. We are prepared to assist you when you call if you rescue her. We are also prepared to view this area with hostility if she is not.”
“If she was…on respite… as you say then that means she was hiding from you. This should be considered an internal matter for the White Court,” countered Cameron.
“We consider that a matter in dispute and therefore request that House Hale locate and return one of ours that was lost in your territory. We would consider it a debt owed rather than one repaid for locating a missing member of House Hale.”
Derek leaned forward and met the lead vampire in the eyes. “That matter has not been settled to my satisfaction yet. An inquiry has been sent to the Winter Court to ascertain if protocols were broken.”
The vampire paused and then nodded. “We know that one of your allies was with our member at the time of her abduction. It would be unfortunate if House Hale gained a reputation for being unconcerned about the welfare of its allies. Given the current state of the West Coast, you will need all you can find.”
Derek looked over at Peter and caught the slightest of nods. “We will do what we can to find your member. It will be up to her if she returns to you.”
The vampires stood as one. “That is acceptable.”
Peter led them to the door and watched as they exited. His eyes followed them down the path to the front gate. He walked back into the front hallway and shrugged when he spotted the other two Hales. “How do we manage to get into these situations?”
“This is normal?” Cameron asked.
“Oh yeah,” sighed Derek. “All too familiar.”
They waited for John to arrive before heading down into the sub-basement. Chris avoided the meeting with the White Court, but the danger to the pack was amplified by that meeting.
“Okay, I’m here. What’s the rush?” John asked a bit winded.
“A visit by some vampires. We’ve been directed to find one of the missing teachers who is a vampire.” Chris smirked. “You just have to love Beacon Hills.”
Peter rolled his eyes. “Chris has stored much of his inventory in one of the subterranean vaults. We’re going to move some of it into the house proper for easy access.”
“We built in a few hidden gun racks that aren’t filled.” Derek led them down stairs and through a tunnel to the armory built for Chris. Argent came forward and scanned his palm and retina. The door unlocked and slid open.
“Well damn, that is an arsenal,” Cameron whistled.
John cleared his throat and glanced at Chris. “Some of this doesn’t exactly look legal.”
“Between us, it’s not, but that never stopped us before.” Chris moved down the rows of heavy guns and towards the explosives and other incendiary devices. “We need to get with Lydia and see what potions can be turned into aerosols and weaponized.”
Peter ran a hand over several of the weapons before turning back to the group. “We need to be careful what we bring into the house. We need some, but nothing that would blow the house up.”
Word spread through Beacon Hills High that the most popular insular clique was throwing a Halloween Party. Lydia’s parties were already famous, but since the new group formed they’d stopped. It was being held at a loft in the industrial district and that made it even cooler for the teens.
Neon colors were used to highlight areas of the loft, including the spiral staircase. Halloween decorations were all over the place, including a talking mummy in the far corner. The light and sound system was tested and ready to get everyone moving.
The pack opted to wear whatever costumes they wanted instead of a theme. Lydia pushed, hard, for them to all dress in masques and ball costumes. Scott, Aiden, Boyd, and Isaac all refused to wear hose. As punishment she opted to dress as the White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia and made Aiden dress as her personal dwarf. Stiles almost went with irony and dressed as a wizard, but he hated all the beards. Now he was dressed in the toga of a Roman Senator because it had been easy to find. Though he wasn’t happy with Derek’s insistence on wearing only a jock strap.
When Jackson walked in wearing skin tight leather pants, boots, eyeliner, loose fitting black shirt, a sharp red vest, and a sword belt slung low around his hips Stiles knew there was some bet going on some place. “And you are?”
“Captain Hook, before the hand incident.” Jackson wiggled his fingers.
Stiles’ eyes narrowed when he watched Scott and Allison walk in as the Huntsman and Wicked Queen. “I’m sensing a theme here and I thought we opted for no theme!”
It was when Cora walked into the loft dressed as Maleficent that Stiles lost it because Boyd and Erica trailed behind her dressed as Prince Philip and Princess Aurora.
“I’m feeling very left out guys!” Stiles fumed as they finished the last minute things and everything was set. He felt a little better when Danny and Ethan walked in dressed as Daft Punk from Tron. At least they weren’t fairy tale related. Then Isaac showed up looking like Prince Eric from the Little Mermaid and Stiles went off to find a drink.
Lydia came up behind him and flicked his ear. “Derek has something special in mind for you. All of us are in fairy tale garb. Just wait until you see what Cameron is wearing.”
Teens started streaming into the party while Danny and Ethan had the music blaring. Stiles nodded at all kinds of people and nursed his beer. He almost dropped it when Cameron came waltzing into the party, blue hair sticking up and a toga wrapped around him. “Oh My God, that is awesome! Hades!”
The loft was packed with people and Stiles wasn’t sure all of them even went to their school. He laughed as Capt. Hook and Prince Eric were in the middle of the loft dancing together looking like neither cared that there wasn’t a mermaid in sight.
Two of the biggest bads in the room, Cora and Lydia, were dancing together as close as two people could get. Right next to them, Erica and Allison were giving them a run for their money. Stiles didn’t have to be a werewolf to know that the show was sending all the guys into a near sexual frenzy. When Cameron joined Jackson and Isaac on the dance floor, the energy in the pack spiked. A long slow kiss with a body caress ended the dance between Cora and Lydia before Cora pulled Isaac close and started moving with him. Scott, Boyd, and Aiden all arrived at some hidden call to dance with their dates. The kiss being shared between Jackson and Cameron was anything but innocent. A pang of jealousy swept through Stiles as the pack all had someone with them.
Stiles could sense Derek close and saw him. Everything stopped as he took in Derek framed in the doorway. His muscular torso was uncovered, but there were leather bicep bands on his arms and thick leather bands at his wrists. The triple entwined leather cords around his neck offset the perfect jaw line dusted in day old stubble. As Derek moved closer he could see he was wearing a short leather kilt gladiator style and some leather boots. The smirk on his face made it all come together. Suddenly he knew why Derek made him wear a jockstrap, normal underwear would not keep his sudden tent under control and in a toga no less.
“Okay, you win the hottest costume award. Hands down.”
“Not the point. I wanted to see your reaction, to smell your reaction, to see if you would lose it and you did.” Derek pulled him close and kissed Stiles senseless. No one paid them any mind in the middle of the loft with music blaring and the lights on super low. “So hard to shock you nowadays. Had to try.”
Stiles pulled Derek through the crowd and upstairs. They made out in a corner, away from everyone. “You look so fucking hot, Der. You are sinful sex walking.”
The music changed and in the background in a heavy beat the words ‘We all feel better in the dark’ rang out. The music was a bit slower allowing people to move together. Stiles moved behind Derek and ground his erection against that sinfully muscular ass. “We all do feel better in the dark…”
‘Music moving through me…’
Derek pushed back against Stiles as they kissed over his shoulder. Stiles hands moved over the exposed sweat covered muscles. One hand splayed against the abs he worshiped. The other hand moving under the kilt to find no underwear to obstruct his access. “You are fucking sex squared.”
The song kept ringing out when Derek stopped Stiles’ hands. “Okay babe, time to head home. We don’t need a quickie in the corner of the loft. The pack can clean up.”
“We are going to extra innings here at Comerica Park in Game 4. The Detroit Tigers are hanging on for life as the San Francisco Giants lead 3 games to none.”
Derek was a nervous wreck.
“Dude, calm down. You’re totally upping the anxiety for the whole pack,” Scott practically begged. “Stiles, go calm your mate down!”
Waving off Scott, Stiles went back to playing chess with Allison. “I’m busy. He’s fine. If they lose then I’ll calm him down, but until then the red forces must overcome the white company for rule over this board!”
Several pack members looked over and shook their heads. “I’d say Stiles has lost his mind but it’s been up for debate that he ever had one,” quipped Lydia.
Derek jumped up screaming as the Giants scored in the top of the tenth inning. Cameron leaned over and gave Derek a high-five. The room grew quiet as the Tigers started batting.
“It has come down to this; Miguel Cabrera, the winner of the first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski did it in 1967, is down to one strike and the Tigers are down to one strike.”
Derek was on the edge of his seat tuning everything else out. In flash he was up, jumping up and down and hugging Cameron as hard as he could.
“Cabrera is called out of strikes and the celebration is on for the 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants.”
Stiles went over and gave Derek a huge hug and smiled. It was rare that the person he was before the fire was so openly on display, but there he was. They weren’t the Mets, but Stiles loved the Giants suddenly for letting the pure Derek shine through.
Derek could hear Peter pacing in the hall. For the countless time that morning, he rolled his eyes and Cameron laughed. “Chill, bro. Let Uncle Peter go nuts, we’ll sit here and be Zen.”
The driveway gate was open to allow the two cars they were expecting to park. The sounds of two unknown cars reached their ears long before they crossed through the gate. Derek picked up five heartbeats and kept his calm. Chris was down in the workshop fiddling new weapons in case the manor was attacked. He was a panicked call away, but still far enough not to spook potentially skittish guests.
The doorbell broke his inner monolog. He waited in the Sitting Room as Peter ushered in their guests. What he saw and felt truly shocked him.
“Derek, may I present to you Emissary Lynn Dorsett, Beta Patrick Watt, Beta Porter Kane, Beta Karina Phipps, and Beta Mia Carson. Ladies and gentlemen, Alpha Lord Derek Hale,” Peter said with full formality.
Derek rose and greeted each of their guests. “Please have a seat. Alpha Hamilton didn’t go into detail about who was coming only that there would be five of you.” He stopped in front of the man with same height as him, square jaw, beautiful pale blue eyes, and short dark blond hair. “Patrick Watt, why does that sound familiar?”
“I’m the former alpha of a pack in Arizona. Worked in law enforcement out of Gila County. Hunters came and took out my pack and almost killed me. Ended up being run as a drug hit on me. FBI cleared me, but five wolves and three humans died. It was a few years after the fire…”
That’s when it hit Derek. “Laura talked about it. She tracked hunter movements and some friends in New York kept her in the loop of all pack activities. I…you gave up your alpha status?”
“Lynn here tells me there is a remnant, an echo of the power I once held, but gave up. I passed it on to a great Beta from another pack who wanted to break off from her current alpha. It was all approved. I was going to become a nice omega and live in the mountains, but Jasmine Hamilton called.”
A clearing throat stopped both men. The regal Emissary, who was just a couple inches shorter than Derek smiled. Her beautiful dark features brightened with a wide smile. Her dark hair was heavily streaked with silver. “I believe it was me that called you, pup,” she laughed. “Alpha Hale, my services are available as an emissary. My son has taken up my position with the Hamilton Pack and frankly, you need me more.”
Derek could tell she would be a hell of a lot different from any emissary he’d met. To his way of thinking that could only be a good thing. “And these three?”
“Mia and Karina are cousins who got tired of ranch living. They wanted to see what else is out here. Jasmine stressed how dangerous this ‘assignment’ was and they still opted to come. As for Porter, he’s a drifter. Good man to have at your back, but he’s one of those wolves who will wander until he finds a home.”
Derek smiled at Mia and Karina. Mia was shorter with a mix of Asian and Hispanic features. Karina had beautiful mocha skin and brilliant jade colored eyes. “Welcome ladies, don’t take this the wrong way, but I hope you don’t find too much adventure here.”
Last came Porter Kane. Tall with short cropped dark hair and a hint of silver in his stubble. Dark eyes hinted at a wicked sense of humor. “And you?”
The tall muscular wolf laughed. “I was made a wolf when I was fourteen. My mom was bit by an alpha back home. She was dying, car accident. She made the decision that my sister and me should be turned.” He laughed deeply, “Becoming a wolf and going through puberty at the same time sucked ass. I grew eight inches in four months.”
That made Derek laugh as well. “Born wolf, but I can sympathize. I was in a house full of wolves when I was going through puberty. Privacy was non-existent.” He motioned for them all to sit again. “So what happened?”
“The alpha became my step-dad. He was okay, but I never fit in. I was a brat before the bite and became a bigger brat after the bite. When I was eighteen I asked to take off and he let me. I call every so often, but while mom is family it never felt like pack should feel.”
“We have some room here, for you. But I imagine the loft we own might be a better fit if you want. It just hosted the pack Halloween party and they are still cleaning it up, but we can get it set up quickly,” Derek added. He motioned at Peter and the Gamma left the room to handle the issue. “Most of the pack is in school. There are the two bedrooms below along with a gym if you’d like to clean up or rest? Most of the pack will join us for dinner.”
The gang arrived from the school in small groups. Stiles arrived last after having detention from the substitute AP Chem 2 teacher. He still didn’t know how he got talked into taking that class. But apparently correcting a sub when configuring hydrocarbons was a big no-no.
“You must be Stiles.”
He turned and smiled at the tall, majestic lady. “I am. And you are?”
Laughter rang in the air, “I figured you’d know already. I’m Lynn and I used to be Jasmine Hamilton’s emissary. My son took over and now I’ll be this pack’s.”
She motioned to one of the sofas in the Drawing Room. Sitting down she patted the space close to her and waited for Stiles to join her. “You and I will be working together closely. Derek and I have only had the one conversation so far, but I knew instantly he was mated. Now, I’ve heard about you, young mage, but seeing you up close is quite amazing. The entire pack is something else. I can see the wheels turning in your head.”
Stiles laughed and sat back. “That’s normal. How will this work? Deaton never said much of anything, always keeping things to himself.”
“Well, that isn’t how it works. I won’t bond to the pack alpha since his mate is a wizard level mage. Some decisions will have to be made, but the first is I will take up residence in the loft. You’ll meet the others soon, but I think Patrick, Karina, and Mia will join me and we’ll leave Porter to reside here.” She smiled at him again. “But I’ve always believed in open communication.”
“Something has been bothering me. Ms. Morrell mentioned issues with raising Scott to alpha status by Derek. How bad was that?” It was a topic he had no idea how to fix and no one to talk to about.
“Derek is an alpha of surpassing strength. I suspect getting another blood Hale into the fold has made him more so. Talia was extremely powerful. She was one alpha for a pack of fourteen. Derek is alpha of a pack of eighteen. But you and Lydia, I think her name was, are mages. That is a boost well beyond a beta or two. Ultimately though I think this will become a clan; a strong collection of packs under a central leader.” She quickly stood up. “Come, your stomach is growling and your mate will kill me if I let you die of starvation.”
After the party, Halloween itself was anticlimactic. Many of the pack were out doing their own thing. But Stiles’ instincts told him that this was Halloween which was truly a magical night. His dad was working overnight so he arranged for Jackson and him to stay at the manor.
The evening was early when Stiles felt the pull. He was a Walker before he was a wizard and all those instincts screamed at him. He sprinted for the subbasement and could feel Derek hot on his heels. Once he was in his workroom, Stiles stripped and motioned for Derek to do the same.
“I am going to pull you with me into the Dream Realm. Something is happening. Something I need to see, but I need you with me.”
Derek nodded and joined Stiles in the middle of the circle. Linking together at deep level Stiles focused down and out. In moments they were in the Dream Realm, floating above Beacon Hills. Stiles took a moment and looked at Derek on this plane. He could see a brilliant crimson flame emanating from deep within, but all around him was a golden hue culminating in a golden circlet around his head. Hints of green around the hues made him smile. “Hail Guardian of the Forest,” he laughed. His mirth was short lived as his attention returned to the Dream Realm.
All around the Dream Realm was moving. The broken landscape just as devastated now as it was months ago. All their attention shifted to the east, and quickly they moved to get a better look. In the center of a magical storm was what looked like a fortress and it was under siege. But the fortress was gleaming with a pulsing dark energy and yet magic that powered incredible spells was woven all around. It existed at multiple points in time. The magic anchored and built many times but all at once. Stiles’ mouth fell open in awe of the construct.
But several of the anchor points were being attacked as was the central edifice itself. They watched as waves of energy rolled from the island fortress. The spell was distorting everything it touched. Time seemed to slow as a result of the spell. Suddenly a counter spell rang out and the distortion waves flared as they met a counter force. All across the Dream Realm the waves impacted an already fractured landscape. Massive ripples of magical energy suddenly surged out from the supernatural duel.
The more the temporal spell impacted the counter spell the greater the distortion waves grew. Magic all over the place was being affected by the events in the Midwest. The Dream Realm heaved with all the chaotic temporal energy discharges.
Stiles yanked Derek with him back down into their bodies. It took a moment for them to clear their heads. “Call Lydia and tell her to brace her wards at home. I’ll deal with the ones here. Whatever that was is sending magic in wonky directions.”
Derek dressed and left the room as Stiles centered himself again and began actively weaving his wards back out as waves of temporal energy disrupted some of the set spells. It was like water eroding rock, but at a faster scale. All his concentration was required to keep the wards fully set and powered. He felt like he was fighting a losing battle as magical distortion waves impacted the house shields and he spun out new defenses.
After what felt like hours but was only several minutes the waves stopped. Covered in sweat and still naked, Stiles moved out of the circle. Strong hands wrapped him in a robe and guided him from the room.
“Cameron says it felt like a tidal wave of energy trying to sweep everything aside.”
“The spell and counter spell impacted time. But the mayhem caused by the Nightmare Night is still lingering so it all coalesced into this event.” Stiles slumped against Derek. “If I hadn’t been here then the wards would be riddled with holes and vulnerabilities. We’d be wide open.”
This was the most fun Lydia had had in weeks. She only got to pick some of the furniture and décor for the manor, but for the loft she’d been given wide latitude in selecting the furnishing. “Cameron, for a big strong wolf, you sure are a wimp at moving furniture.”
He growled at her. “I’ve moved this couch eight times now. Maybe we should buy interior design software and let it do the work for us.”
“No,” she gave him a withering glare. “Leave it there. It will pick up the sunlight and create a nice reading space.”
She looked over at Lynn who was busy setting up the revamped kitchen. All three of them looked up at the same time. “What is that?” Quickly she raised her hands and started focusing her energy on the wards around the loft. They weren’t nearly as strong as the ones on the manor, but they were pack wards and she helped Stiles craft them.
Lydia quickly found Cameron and Lynn next to her. The three of them linked magically and tried to keep the waves of energy from ripping down most of the wards. “What is this?” she screamed.
“Not sure,” Lynn responded.
“Feels like a tidal wave of energy,” Cameron gritted out. Several move powerful surges ripped around them as they held on and reinforced the loft defenses.
As quickly as the waves came, they were gone. Lydia started checking on them. “Somewhat degraded, but not horrible. I hope the manor shields held.”
Cameron nodded as he returned from making a call to the manor. “Stiles was in the workroom when this hit. He held them intact.”
Lynn moved around them and sat down on the much travelled couch. “This area is already magically active. I wonder what kinds of impacts that disruption is having. You were here and Stiles was there. And its Halloween night.” She unfocused for a moment and then shook her head. “I can sense the currents, but I’m not attuned to this place yet. And you and Stiles aren’t trained for that yet either. Cameron?”
He shook his head. “I learned a lot about combat magic, both offensive and defensive. The subtle variation thing was not on my training schedule.”
“Damn! We may not know what happened until after it’s on top of us.”
It had been days since they’d been abducted. Marin and Jennifer tested the defenses and found that neither of them could penetrate the containment spells. When they came to the first time they found themselves in a dark room with minimal light trapped inside a cage. The only thing keeping them trapped were the spells.
Marin had an idea who their captor was but hadn’t seen his face. The stench of necromancy though colored everything. The magic around her prison offended her own magical abilities. But they had only seen the cloaked man twice since their abduction.
“Do you feel that?” Jennifer asked as she stood up.
All at once Marin felt a ripple of energy through the cell and magic around them. Another wave of magical energy slammed into the containment spells and the spells wobbled. Marin motioned quickly to Jennifer and both of them used counter spells on the cells and the containment spells collapsed as more waves of energy rolled through the air.
“What the hell was that?” Jennifer demanded as she walked out of the cage.
Following, Marin said nothing but motioned for Jennifer to be quiet. Quickly she moved to the wall and followed it in the dim light to a door. Shocked, she found it unlocked and climbed the stairs it lead to. Without glancing back she knew Jennifer was following. The door at the top opened up into a large abandoned warehouse.
Jennifer stepped forward and frowned. “I know where we are. Old industrial district, lots of these abandoned warehouses. But we should hurry incase Mr. Creepy Necromancer shows back up.”
Agreeing, the two women cross the warehouse and are soon outside in the dark. There was little light since most of the street lights were out. They followed the broken road out until it intersected with a main road. Instantly the saw a car and flagged it down. A quick call to the Sheriff’s Office had them at the hospital being checked out and interviewed by the FBI. Their escape was the first break in the case.
The first thing out of Agent McCall’s mouth was, “Why is he here?” with a finger pointed directly at Patrick Watt.
“He’s here because I told him to be here,” countered John. “He was a deputy for the Gila County Sheriff’s Office for years before moving to Santa Clara where he’s worked for the last year. He’ll be joining the force and he has experience with major crime living in the Phoenix Area. Now, shall we actually work or are you going to continue to gripe?”
Winchester’s head shot up from where he was looking. He had to cough to cover his laugh. Adams led a group down the stairs and into the holding area. “Slowly, I don’t want to disturb anything more than it already is.” She raised her hand just in time to shield from a magical discharge. Ozone filled the air.
“What was that?” demanded Agent Kyle Benn, McCall’s partner.
“Everyone back out! Now!” she yelled. “Clear the warehouse!” Everyone was moving quickly as she ran across the dusty floor. All her concentration was centered on her personal shield and the continuing discharges from below.
Two flashes of light behind her made Adams speed through the door and kept running. “Move!” she yelled as she ran as far as she could. The creak of tearing metal rent through the air like nails on a chalkboard. Loud thuds of crashing debris accompanied dust billowing out from the former warehouse. Finally she was able to turn and look. Electrical discharges filled the dusty scene. “Did everyone get out?”
McCall walked forward, nodding. His face was covered with dust and dirt. Disbelief colored his face. “What was that?”
“I’m guessing a magical booby-trap.” Benn said as he came forward. He stared at Adams and then Winchester. “I’ll bite, give it to me straight.”
Adams shook her head. “No, you need to hear it from better sources. Laughlin and Keys will brief you and the part of the Department the Sheriff thinks can handle it.”
Marin was curled up on one of the couches in the loft. She trusted Lynn Dorsett more than anyone. She had no idea where Jennifer Blake went after they were done at the hospital, but she did see her with Peter Hale for a moment. It was Lynn who wanted to talk to her and Marin had never been so grateful.
A warm cup of tea was placed in her hands as Lynn sat down next to her. “Thank you.”
“Not a problem. Can you recall anything this morning?”
“Nothing more than I said last night. We are fortunate that whatever event happened last night did because it broke the magic holding us.”
Lynn nodded and sipped her own tea. “I fear there will be grave repercussions from your escape. Ms. Blake is at the manor, under Peter Hale’s care.”
“Do they know she’s a vampire?”
“Yes. Apparently the White Court came calling, demanding that the pack find her. There is something you aren’t telling me, Marin, what is it?”
“It was a necromancer who took us. But there was a powerful tinge of demonic energy around there as well. They shouldn’t be related. If he is the one who took Harris and sacrificed the virgins…” Marin shuddered and sipped her tea.
“A Warden is on his way. We’ll brief him when he comes, but I can tell that something dreadful is happening.” Lynn sat back and looked out the windows. “Demons, blood magic, and necromancy. I am far too old for this.”
The FBI agents sat at the conference table listened as Father Laughlin and Dr. Keys explained what they knew. John watched three of his deputies react to the news of what was really happening in Beacon Hills. He could see Patrick taking in all of the information and trying to figure out a plan.
“You’re completely serious?” asked Deputy Cranston. “I knew crazy shit happened here all the time, but this really pushes it.”
McCall frowned and pointed to the files. “You still have no clue what we are dealing with? The murders last year, the attack on this office, everything can’t be tied to this…whatever!”
John rubbed his forehead and sighed. “There are so many things that go bump in the night…”
Agent Benn cleared his throat. “We know about all of them, sheriff and my partner will finally get his head out of his ass and see what we’ve been dealing with over the past five years.”
“Enough,” Adams said firmly. “Officially this is still a hunt for a serial killer…”
All the lights went out in a flash. John looked down and noticed the mist first. “Everyone out!”
Both doors to the room were used to get to the main hallway. The windows outside showed that it was pitch black despite it being early afternoon. Emergency lights gave off dim light, but even that faltered as the mist grew thicker.
Patrick moved closer to John. “This isn’t good. Derek told me to keep you safe. We need to leave!”
Keys moved up to the front and started chanting something under his breath. John looked around and noticed the mist getting thicker. A flash from outside illuminated a dark figure on the street moving closer to the office. The shroud of mist almost completely obscured him.
“That looks like our perp!” one the deputies yelled. He pulled his gun ready to fire.
Patrick moved in front of all of them. “Out the back now!
The wind picked up and the mist began to break up. The hood figure turned away from the Sheriff’s Office and vanished.
John sighed as he watched a Warden walked up to the door. “Stand down, he’s a friendly.”
Warden Chandler walked in and frowned. “What kind of mess do you have going on now?”
It was early in the evening as a group of them walked the parking lot of the high school trying to understand the nature of the mage they were up against. Warden Chandler was there along with Emissaries Dorsett and Morrell. Dr. Keys and Father Laughlin looked on with Cameron, Derek, Stiles, and Peter in attendance.
“Much of the energy signature is gone,” Chandler said as he stood up. “Rain and numerous sunrises have erased any trail that might have lingered.” He raised his staff and swept it left to right while whispering words into the air.
It was Keys that started looking around first. “Something is wrong.”
Lynn nodded and stepped closer to the wolves. “Magic in this area is warped, sick, the nature of it twisted from its intent. Poisoned!”
Quickly Stiles moved and raised his shield bracelet. “The land is rebelling.” Suddenly on the other side of the school an eerie red glow appeared. The ground shifted like a minor earthquake. “What the hell?”
The same mist began to flood in around the school. Chandler raised his staff high. “Emundationem ventis subvenies!” Swiftly a stiff wind came out from opposite the school and started countering the mist.
Laughlin frowned. “This is an evil sign. I smell sulfur and death in the air.”
A buzz broke Stiles’ focus on the unfolding events. He glanced at his phone. ‘Stiles – weird glow down the street. Ground shaking.’
“Oh my God! The same thing is happening near the Sheriff’s Office!” Stiles lifted his phone and called his dad. “Listen same this going on at the school. Someone is on the way!” He didn’t wait for a reply. He turned to Derek. “We need to get someone over there ASAP!”
Cameron nodded and motioned to Stiles. “You and I will go. Your Jeep is here?”
Stiles pointed and took off after Cameron. Derek motioned for Peter to walk with him. “Rally the pack. Have Lydia and Danny stay at the manor to coordinate and defend. Send Scott and a group to Cameron. Jackson will bring the rest here. You will follow the contingency we discussed.”
A scream broke them from their conversation. Derek looked over and saw…creatures coming around the school. Marin opened a bag at her side and said something and threw the contents in her hand towards the approaching…things. “Ghouls! And I think I see a zombie!”
“Hurry,” Derek yelled at Peter. He motioned for Keys and Laughlin. “You need to head to safety. Go to the manor, hold it with Lydia.”
Keys shook his head. “I’ll stay, you go Jason. Summon Brandon Lewis he can be here in a few minutes.”
Derek didn’t wait to find out what they decided. He ripped off his shirt and jeans. Pulling on his inner power and the power of the land he fueled his transformation into the massive alpha werewolf form. He became over seven feet of pure muscle and power. He let loose a frightening roar and leapt into battle with the ghouls and zombies.
“I really hate this place,” clipped Chandler as he gathered his energy and unleashed a fire ball past Derek and into the crowd of ghouls. “Ramirez needs to get his ass healed!”
Cameron pulled up outside the Sheriff’s Office and saw people running away from the Industrial District where the red lights emanated. “Stiles! Slow them down!”
Not bothering to pause, Stiles took off in a dead run into the fleeing crowd. He stopped right an intersection before the nasty creatures saw him. “Oh gross! Are those body parts?” Pulling his attention back to the matter at hand, he yanked energy from the air and ground and wove it into a shield wall spanning from one storefront to another using them as material anchors. He rallied his considerable will to force the spell wall to become solid. Time slowed as he added more and more power to his spell. The pressure from the other side was growing stronger. But they had to get everyone away from this area. He couldn’t sense any people on the other side of the wall. Sweat dripped down his face and drenched his shirt. He didn’t know how much longer he could keep it up.
“Stiles, drop the spell on my mark,” yelled Chris. “Scott, grab him the moment he lets go! MARK!”
Stiles felt two arms lift him up and he dropped his spell at the same time. He sagged against Scott and watched as Chris fired a rocket propelled grenade into the zombie horde. The explosion was one of Lydia’s concoctions and instantly several of the horde melted into goo.
“That is so nasty!” Stiles croaked out.
Two of John’s deputies fired special bullets into the horde and they too melted into goo. Stiles leaned on a car and watched as the new guy, Patrick, jumped into the fray and started wailing on some of the invaders. Boyd, Erica, Allison, and Ethan joined Scott in attacking the horde.
“What do you want us to do?”
Stiles looked up and saw the new girls, Karina and Mia. He gave them a tired smile. “Flank the officers. Looks like the FBI is joining up with my dad’s group. Keep nasties from getting too close.”
Mia and Karina nodded and took off. Stiles moved closer to Chris’ SUV and grabbed two guns. He dug around and found a shoulder holster and shrugged into it. The handgun went into it and then he grabbed a shotgun. “Should have been better prepared for fucking zombie Armageddon!”
Cameron ran up and grabbed a few weapons as well. He lifted one of the cases and smiled. “I love Chris. He brought my long sword.”
Stiles stared at his brother-in-law. “The fuck brings a sword to a zombie fight?” Then he watched as Cameron jumped behind the leading edge of the horde and the sword moved like a blur beheading zombies and ghouls with ease. The stainless steel weapon moved with precision and grace. Cameron was literally cutting a hole in the horde. “Huh, maybe all the wolves need to learn to swordfight.”
John’s eyed bugged out as he watched Cameron cut a hole in the horde. “Chris, follow behind Cameron! Patrick, keep them on this street!” An explosion drew his attention. His eyebrows shot up when he saw it was Agent Adams wielding combat magic. “Damn!”
Scott and his group shifted into their beta forms and moved as one to attack the horde. Scott ripped the head off one while Ethan ripped the arms off one and started using them as clubs.
Chris reloaded and nodded when he saw Christian Campbell and what was left of his group join in. “Can you believe a zombie and ghoul invasion?”
“No.” Suddenly all the lights went out and green spectral lights started walked down the street as well. “Ghosts. Seriously, what is this place? Argent, this place sucks to be a last stand!”
Stiles walked forward, glowing in his own right. “This is Beacon Hills, home to the Hales & Friends. And my home.” He dropped his arms and started to weave a spell. “Time to get the fuck out, bitches!” Hand above his head small contained bursts of lightning flew through the air countering the spectral additions. “Who’s Boss? Me, that’s who!”
Jackson leapt off the shoulders of the new wolf-mountain, Porter. Isaac and Aiden provided protection as the mages were letting loose with some serious firepower. Jackson came up behind Derek and ripped one of the horde off his back. It was hard to speak in his beta form but he had to try. “Derek, fall back!”
The answering roar rang in Jackson’s ears. He shook his head to clear it and almost got crunched when he noticed that Ms. Blake was now fighting with the mages. “Derek! Move back!”
The other wolves moved as one to flank Derek and keep him from being overwhelm. He was a good fifty feet away from the mages’ circle. Marin was holding a defensive circle while Keys, Dorsett, and Chandler used offensive magic to beat back the horde. Cora was guarding them from any straggler that might get through.
Porter and Isaac met up with Jackson and started to form a way of escape for Derek. Aiden was right behind them to keep the way open.
“Derek! We have to go!”
Chandler sent a massive lightning bolt right past them sending a dozen or so of the horde into flames. “We need to move! We have no defensive positions here!”
Derek grabbed two of the horde and started using them as clubs. “Move!” He growled to his pack, forcing them to begin to retreat. He threw the two creatures in his hands towards the surging horde knocking many over.
An explosion knocked over the pack, mages and many of the horde. Jackson blinked and looked around. He helped up Isaac and Aiden. Porter grabbed one and started running. They all reached the mages. Jackson looked around. “Where is Derek?”
Chandler waved his staff and opened a path into the Nevernever. “Where is he?”
Cora looked around. “He…he’s gone!”
Stiles fired two fireballs in a row while Cameron ordered the group to fall back. The Horde were too many to overcome on the street downtown. “Where do we go?”
John ordered his guys into patrol cars and the rest into the SUVs. “We get behind them and make them come back to the industrial area.” He pointed to two of the deputies. “Make sure the club areas are clean. We’ll take them into the old cement works.”
Stiles fired off another fireball and moved to get into the SUV. As he reached for the door he screamed. It felt like his wrist was shattering. Suddenly he was looking up at a dark hooded figure. It smiled down and raised a large spike and his other wrist exploded in agony. He could feel his mate’s agony as if it were his own. “Derek!”
Chapter 6: Enjoy the Silence
The confrontation with the Necromancer.
Lydia paced around the computer room while Danny kept moving markers around a map on one of the computer display tables. They could hear some of what was being said since a few phones were left on an open channel to transmit back to the manor.
“What do they mean that Derek is missing?”
Danny shook his head as Cora and Jackson’s signals vanished. Derek’s phone still showed his location at the school, but he knew Derek stripped to transform into his alpha-form.
“The whole group just vanished, Lyds.”
She was about to start complaining when the front door rang. She knew that the priest was on his way. When she pulled the door open she was shocked to see the priest and another older man. “And you are?”
“I’m a wizard. I was sent for, I’m Brandon Lewis.”
Quickly she closed the door behind them. “The group at the school has vanished. The others are retreating to a more defensible position.”
Lewis nodded. “They would have left through the Nevernever to get out. That’s what Chandler should do. I need access to the roof. We need to provide what aid we can to primary group. Whomever cast this spell has targeted them.”
Those words froze her heart. “Targeted?”
“For them to survive we must break that spell.” Lewis followed her up through a door on the fourth floor and through the attic to a door that led to the roof. The whole forest was out there and the lights of the city not far away. The wizard raised his staff and began weaving new protections. “If they fall the horde will come here. The Council knows what is happening. Any help that can be marshaled is. But Halloween was two days ago. They’re still sorting out the mess in Chicago and elsewhere. We may be on our own.”
Pain radiated from all points on his body. Nothing registered except the pain. All he could remember was fighting at the school. He’d been in his full alpha form raging against a horde of zombie and ghouls, but a blast…the pain hit him again. Barely able to move his head, Derek noticed spikes hammered into his wrists and one holding both his feet together. Suddenly it hit him; he was floating in the air. His eyes couldn’t adjust, but he could sense magic at work.
“Don’t bother trying to escape, alpha. You are in a triple circle and those spikes are there for more than the pain they provide.”
The voice was close, but not human. It sent chills down his spine. Derek was able to make out a raised platform. The cloaked figure was directly opposite him. The pain and the magical buzz made it difficult to form a thought.
“Your pack will fall tonight and they won’t save you. But you won’t die tonight either. You’ll only wish you had.”
Reaching down inside himself, Derek pulled on his power to try to transform, to force those spikes from his body.
“We won’t be having any of that!”
The Necromancer reached out with a hand and yanked. Derek screamed as the dark mage pulled power from his inner spark. It flowed from Derek and into the man standing opposite him. “Yes, so much power, but not all at once. When I’m done…when we’re done, you’ll wish you’d died.”
Electricity coursed through Derek’s body. He couldn’t scream anymore and finally he passed out.
John and his group arrived at the old cement factory. Two huge mounds of broken concrete formed perfect points to place scouts. The area was well defined and easy to defend. His son’s screams still echoed in his head, but he needed to focus. He knew that Scott and Cameron were taking care of him. He motioned to his deputies. “We try to pull them all this way. They seem to be keyed to us and not the rest of the people.”
Sam Winchester walked up and looked armed for war. “We’ll form a line on the left and let your guys form on the right as the funnel through. The wolves can take out the ones that get through that kill zone.”
“Agent, we don’t have enough guns to do that. We can have one side funnel them down narrowly to the wolves, but that’s it.”
They both looked up at the twin mounds of rubble. John pulled out his phone. “Chris we need cover.”
Cameron helped Stiles out of the SUV. “Are you okay?”
Shaking his head, Stiles frowned. “No. The connection with Derek is weak. I can sense the magic around it. Something is trying to hide him.”
Looking away for a moment Cameron nodded. “I can barely sense him either.” He turned to Scott. “Can you feel Derek?”
The younger wolf looked down, eyes closed in concentration, with a frown marring his face. “Not really. I know he’s there, but the connection I have is…it’s like he’s on another planet or something.”
Stiles pulled his phone out. “Danny, trace Derek’s phone…the school? Alpha transformation…okay, thanks Danny.” He turned to Scott and Cameron. “That’s a no go. He stripped at the school to go full Hulk-Wolf.”
“We do what we can against the horde and then we’ll find, Derek,” Scott stated.
Chris yelled out orders. “Erica, take the 50 cal up to one of those mounds and set up. You,” pointing to Agent Adams,” Go with her. Not sure what you can do at long range, but it might be useful.”
Erica moved quickly up the man made hill with Ethan following carrying addition ammo boxes. Once they were at the top she looked around. “Everyone move away from that warehouse.” She pointed to a building on right. She opened fire on the outer brick façade. Tracers illuminated the early evening, dust and debris began to fill the air and soon the groaning of metal joined the cacophony of sounds. Half the warehouse came tumbling down. “There, now they all have to come through one point instead of maybe coming through the warehouse.”
Adams shook her head. “A little magic might have kept them out as well.”
“Everyone’s a critic,” Erica muttered as she rolled her eyes.
Chris held a finger to his ear and frowned as he listened to Danny. “They left and now that horde is heading here too. Great. Full of wonderful news, you are, Danny.” He listened for another minute. “Heads up the first horde will be here in two minutes. The horde from the school will be here in fifteen. Move it!”
The ghosts came flying in first. Adams threw two spells at them which forced them back. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed shimmering. The entire Hale property was under a massive ward. She smiled as flares of energy started flying this way from the property as well. “Thank you for magical air support.”
Cameron readied his sword. The first group of the horde crossed the parking lot and starting to climb of the remains of the old warehouse that Erica turned into rubble. Shorts bursts of gunfire took out the leading edge. He, Scott, and Patrick were the vanguard of their limited forces. Isaac, Mia, Karina, and Ethan were the second line of the ‘infantry’ everyone else at this point was artillery.
Without a thought, he leapt up and crashed into the lead ghoul. His sword danced through the air as a silver blaze. Three runes etched into the metal allowed him to channel some of his power along the blade. The enchantments on the zombies and ghouls shattered under his assault. Scott was to his left and Patrick to his right. They used their fierce werewolf strength to rip through the first wave of attackers.
The heavy pulses from the 50 cal gun echoed in the confines of the battlefield. Gun fire from the assembled law officers joined the fray as all the wolves were engaged in combat. Occasional blasts of magic rang out from above, but the horde continued to advance.
“Stiles if you have something up your sleeve you’d better do it now!” yelled Scott.
At that point John looked around and frowned. “Where is he?”
Chris frowned as he fired another one of Lydia’s special rocket propelled grenades. “He went to find Derek.”
Hearing that Scott wanted to wait to find Derek hit deep in Stiles’ gut. Instincts screamed in his head that Derek was the key and everything else window dressing. A quick glance around forced him to make a choice. He was the only real mage on site. Agent Adams was good, but she wasn’t a wizard or potential one. Cameron was a brilliant Paladin, but against the horde his sword was needed.
But his duty to his pack, to find a way to win, made the choice for him. If he found Derek, then he found the mastermind behind all of this. Stiles took a deep breath and focused. He pulled energy in around him and veiled his body and masked his movements. He vanished and went in search of his mate.
The horde approached down two alleys. The area was crawling with baddies, but none were racing towards him. None the less, Stiles moved towards an alley that didn’t have anything nasty in it. His veil was holding as he slipped by a few that looked like strays.
Finally clear, he centered his senses and reached for his link with Derek. Pain slammed into his mind, but he forced it aside and tried to feel where he was. A barrier was keeping him from fully communicating with Derek, but Stiles suddenly knew he was close by. He opened his eyes and let the Dream Realm overlap with reality. Water filled his eyes as he fought a wave of vertigo. His veil was coloring everything. Nausea rolled through him, but he fought it off. Slowly, everything calmed down and Derek’s proximity made it known. Stiles dropped the double sight and took off running.
Mayhem was the order of the day. The wolves were fighting off hordes of summoned necrotic enemies while the law officers were trying to keep them from overwhelming the area.
John fired two more shotgun rounds down a set of stairs. “Okay, they’re coming here now. Fall back to the next position!” he took off running with four deputies and the FBI agents following. “Winchester, you have any back up at all?”
Sam looked down at the open area were the wolves and hunters were now fighting side by side. “Sheriff, if I had a cavalry I’d have them here already. This is it!”
Jennifer Blake moved forward and within moments spun out a web of energy that ripped the magical essence out of the horde. She pulled that energy around her and sent it back out as a concussion blast, flattening dozens of the horde in the process. “We need an exit strategy because I can’t do that again and I know the wolves are flagging!”
Ethan, Karina, and Mia launched a salvo of cement chunks that beheaded a number of the horde, but they continued to advance. “They’re going to overrun us!” yelled Aiden. “Scott?”
Scott started to motion to that group of wolves but out of nowhere an explosion knocked the agents and officers to their knees. Scott shook his head trying to clear the stars from his eyes.
John peered over the railing and saw a smoking crater where the main horde was breaking through. “Sound off! Everyone report in!”
“I am never, ever, traveling with a wizard again,” yelled Jackson. He was covered in a green slime, for lack of a better term. “I don’t care if the short cut was through a swamp, it’s going to take me weeks to get the smell out of my nose!”
The wizard Chandler threw two bolts of lightning at the horde not flattened at the front line. Aiden, Boyd, and Porter launched over the wolves trying to recover from the sudden mage strike. The swiftly took out the few remaining near the front.
“Guys, get them up the other group is funneling through and they’re looking awfully pissed!” yelled Erica from her position. “And I have two ammo boxes left!”
Chris helped get the rest of the human fighters back up. “Ammo is going to be an issue.”
Nodding, Lynn walked over and started chanting something near the crater. Extending her hands flames started to rise from the ground and quickly encircled entrance. “That will keep them out of here for a bit so we can regroup.”
Cora ran up to Cameron while wiping slime from her arms and torso. “CJ, they took Derek. We had to run and I…”
“We know, Stiles went after him.” He used the moment to wipe down his blade and stretch out his muscles.
Cora’s eyes widened. “Alone? No one went with him?”
Scott came walking up and frowned. “We didn’t know he was going off by himself. I told him we’d look for Derek after we deal with the horde.”
The earth shook and the flame barrier that Lynn erected shattered. Marin and Bronson shared a look. She went over and placed a hand on Scott’s shoulder. “This horde is huge. Unless the Necromancer is defeated, we will die.”
A combination magic strike from Jennifer and Camille Adams threw back the horde for a moment.
“Everyone, fall back to the ridge,” John yelled. “You’ll get pinned in there if you don’t haul ass!”
Cameron motioned for the wolves to form ranks. “Humans and mages out. We’ll hold them until you’re all out.”
The wolves raced towards the horde and started cutting down the enthralled creatures. Occasional gun fire and magic strikes kept the wolves from being overrun, but not by much. Claws flew through the air. Various other items were used as weapons to keep the horde back. Cameron led one flank, Scott the center, and Jackson the other flank. All the wolves regrouped into one of the three lines and started fighting as fiercely as they could.
“Get out of there!” yelled Allison. She fired another explosive arrow just behind the lead wolves to create a gap. “Get out now!”
Several of the horde moved past the blur of Cameron’s sword or the other lead wolves. Isaac yelled as he fell under the horde attack. Jackson and Aiden moved to help but they too were soon overwhelmed. Cora moved swiftly and used a machete to cut a path to try to rescue Isaac, but was quickly grabbed by Porter. “Out, we can’t hold them.”
Cameron thrust his sword in the air and lightning met it. In one move, he channeled that energy back out of the blade and cut down a dozen horde in one move. “We are leaving! Out!”
The rag-tag group of deputies, hunters, agents, and mages launched a combined salvo to buy time for the remaining wolves to get out. Dust filled the air. John screamed, “Dammit Scott, get out of there!”
Stiles raced into the building he knew held Derek. Magic concealed the door from sight, but he was able to find it with his own bag of tricks. As quickly and as quietly as he could he made his way down to the lower level. Tears filled his eyes as he saw a naked Derek hanging in midair, bloodied, bruised, but not broken.
The Necromancer laughed as he ripped more energy out the soon to be former alpha. “That spark, it’s almost gone, almost drained back to what you held last year. All this delicious power. Oh…my horde will finish off several of your humans, but the wolves…they will wish they’d died. The poison of the zombie bite…they will be enthralled as well.”
Stiles stopped and listened. ‘I can’t believe he’s actually monologuing. Seriously?’ Suddenly his heart froze when he heard more.
“Oh, Derek Hale, I will rip away your alpha powers and then I will rip out your wolf. Your soul will be shredded. It will bond with me and through it I will kill each and every one of your pack. Leaving that miscreant pain in the ass sheriff’s son for last. Only after he’s been drained of his magic only after the last of your pack is dead, only then will your broken soul be allowed to pass on.
“You’ll never feel the strength you take for granted again. Never heal again. No, you’ll be a miserable human for however many days it takes to absorb their power and life. And once your mage is dead, then the power in the forest will be wide open. No guardians, no wolves, only a former wolf, blind, broken, useless. Your pack bond will exist at the human level…you’ll have felt all of them die. Just like my daughter killed your family, I will kill yours all over again.
“I should thank you and that idiot, Scott. I made a deal with a demon to get back at you and it’s worked perfectly. The necromancer in me loves this body and I get to destroy all wolves soon. None will resist the great alpha you were…”
The hood fell back and the face of Gerard Argent, if he were over a century old, shown in the limited light. His aged hands reached out and yanked the spark at Derek’s center. Stiles felt the last of the alpha power flow from his mate. Derek’s roar deafened the room.
“No longer an alpha and now to make you no longer a wolf.”
Raising both hands over his head, Gerard chanted, and twin lightning bolts struck the spikes in Derek’s wrists. Blood dripped from Derek’s nose and ears. His image blurred beginning to separate. Two more bolts flew and nailed the spikes and the spectral form of Derek began to appear. Stiles could make out the power of the mantle helping Derek hold together against the spell trying to rip him in half
“So delicate, the soul, but it can be flayed. It can be destroyed. Those lovely virgins, fuel for all that I needed.”
Stiles was desperate. He made his way to almost directly behind Gerard, but he needed a clean strike. If he did anything now, his power wasn’t enough to defeat Gerard, or the creature in Gerard’s body. The pain from Derek was overwhelming his sense.
“You’re far stronger than I thought, Hale. Your soul should be in pieces, but you resist. Soon…” Another bolt nailed the spikes and Derek screamed again.
Stiles gathered all his power, everything he had. He just needed an opening and soon.
Erica finished off all the ammo she had from the 50 caliber gun and started running down the slope. Camille Adams followed her as quickly as possible.
Keys, Morrell, and Dorsett all used what abilities they had to support the wizard Chandler as he kept flinging serious battle magic at the horde. Half the wolves were down and the others still trying to scramble to safety.
Patrick Watt and Porter Kane, the newcomers on loan, scrambled up the dirt incline, bleeding from multiple points. Porter’s left arm was snapped at an odd angle. John, Chris, and Allison all combined a gun barrage to try to get Scott to safety, but the horde got him as well.
Cameron jumped back down to rescue Cora and Scott. Again he used his lightning trick to cut down a swath of horde, but his energy was flagging. His sword moving swiftly, but slower than it had danced. He grabbed Cora and flung her behind him. “You must live. One of us must make it out!”
She nodded and scrambled out of the lower bowl and headed to the ridge. She watched as Cameron reached Boyd and got him out of his jam. “CJ, run!”
“Everyone who can, go over the ridge and try to get to safety,” Chandler yelled. “I’ll give you ten minutes.”
“Ten minutes for what?” Sam demanded.
“I’ll final strike.” Chandler lifted his staff and began to mutter under his breath.
Several of the people around there instantly were on guard. John wasn’t sure, but he figured that it wasn’t good. “Does that mean what I think it does?” he reloaded the last of his ammo.
“All my life force into a single final blast. It will take out most of this area.” Chandler fired another fireball deep into the horde. “The Council will send aid. Get to the manor. I know Brandon Lewis is there now. You can hold out until help arrives. Hurry.”
Horns rang out suddenly and wild green fire began to swirl in the center of the horde. The fire soon turned into a tornado of dancing flames as it pulled many of the horde into its center. Huge eagles swooped in and started grabbing horde from surrounding those on the ridge. All eyes watched as the magical column of flames sucked in more horde.
From behind the horde came the horns and several banners. At the head of the column was Peter Hale and the Centaur Reynard. The Summer Court had come.
It happened in an instant. Gerard screamed and stopped his spell on Derek. Stiles dropped his veil and fired right at Gerard. The blast’s force sent Gerard flying backwards and into Derek. The spell holding Derek snapped up around Gerard. Like two billiard balls, all the momentum of Gerard’s flight transferred to Derek and sent him out of the triple circle trap.
Derek fell into a heap beyond the circles. Pain radiated everywhere. He felt empty; everything had been ripped out and twisted around. Suddenly, the power that had been yanked from his body flooded back as the spell snapped in reverse.
His vision went white. The spikes in his wrists snapped out and he screamed again, but all the pain of the pack: the fatigue in Cameron, the poison flooding into Jackson, Isaac, Scott, and Aiden that would rob them of all thought, the broken limbs in Erica, Ethan, Karina, and Mia. He could feel the panic in John, Chris, and Allison. All of it hit at once.
His pain merged with the pack’s to overwhelm his senses. Each breath he took thundered in his ears. Each heartbeat echoed in his head. Magic was all around and all his power was flooding him again. That place in him that held his spark that deep place in his soul that hurt so much. All the power rushed down there. But his pack.
It took everything he had, but he gathered that power and pushed it down the link to the pack. Everything he had and was; they needed it. Pain flared again.
His vision went white.
In an instant all the wolves and pack members felt a ray of sunshine from deep inside. Poison seeped out of the skin for those who were bitten. Bones rapidly mended, weariness vanished for others. Aiden and Ethan roared as their eyes turned back to red. Cameron screamed as power flooded him and his eyes turned red as well.
In a flash, the twins roared and swiftly merged into their combined alpha form. All the wolves howled together. If Cameron was an alpha…they howled again and blood lust took that as they launched a fierce-some assault on the horde.
Summer forces cleaved the horde into two groups. The heavy forces went down the center while lighter forces moved in behind on the left. Cameron and his group met the heavy Summer units in the middle as Scott and the law officers did clean up closest to the ridge. Summer alone took on the farther horde forces.
Chandler smiled as he saw Warden Meyers fighting with the Summer forces. He quickly joined his fellow Warden in combat.
“They seem disorganized,” Agent McCall managed to say while reloading his gun again.
Lynn Dorsett nodded. “Chandler, their organizing spell is breaking.”
More Summer fire flowed as it crushed parts of the horde. Reynard lifted his arms and signaled to two Fae with him. “The counter spell, now!”
Summer magic began to flow through the air like a spring breeze. Morrell and Dorsett soon added their energies to spell as did Dr. Keys. The combined forces stopped fighting as the spell began ripping the horde back through the areas of broken magic. The two wizards joined their power to the spell. In a flash all of the horde was banished from the city.
Stiles ran over to Derek “Oh god, Derek!” he could barely sense him through their link. He pulled his phone out. “Danny, Derek is injured. I think he’s dying. I need help, track the phone!” He tried to channel energy into Derek, but it wasn’t going anywhere. Their link was so weak…
He placed the phone next to Derek and turned back to the figure trapped in his own spell. Fury rang through Stiles’ veins. The man who caused so much misery for the town and one family for years hung there waiting to be destroyed once and for all.
Power thrummed through his mind and into his hands. All he had to do was throw it at the man, no demon, in the magic circles. Behind him was his whole life dying because of this…creature. All he had to do was unleash his power. Tears streaked down his face. One word was all he needed to utter. So he did,
Stiles looked as a being bathed in white light appeared in front of him. “Father Laughlin?”
“No, just borrowing the nearest capable body,” said Gabriel. It wasn’t Laughlin’s voice or eyes that Stiles heard or saw. The archangel placed a hand on Stiles’ shoulder. “You made a wise choice.” He turned to look at the man floating in the circles of power. “He made a deal with the forces of Darkness and violated the sanctity of innocent souls. That means I can act.”
Stiles turned to look behind him. “What about Derek?”
A sad smile cross the older man’s face. “That is yet to be determined. But as for this one...” Bright light filled the whole room and suddenly Time moved again. A voice from nowhere said, “His punishment is just beginning.” The circles were empty and the archangel gone.
Stiles raced back over to Derek. Placing his hands on both of his wrists, Stiles reached out and pushed his personal energy through them to Derek. “Please, Derek, please hold on.” He kept repeating that over and over again as he slowly fed energy to his mate, praying for it to be enough.
A hand landed on his shoulder. He looked up and saw Danny with Dr. Keys and Marin Morrell. Danny leaned over, “Stiles, let us help him.”
Isaac came running in with Cameron and Peter. Instantly, Isaac pulled Stiles away and into a tight hug. The two Hales moved to help the others with a fading Derek.
“We need to get him back to the manor,” Keys said quickly. “Danny, open a connection. Marin, ground Danny while I stabilize him.”
Shortly, Danny was weaving energy into Derek at Morrell’s instruction while Keys stabilized his feet. The mostly healed wounds at the wrists sealed completely.
“We have an SUV outside,” Peter said. “We need him at the manor where we can help him. His feet…”
Cameron lifted Derek and took him to the waiting car. The others followed. Isaac pulled Stiles with him and into another car. The caravan raced to the manor.
Everything was white as Derek looked around. He could feel nothing, but at least there was no pain.
“That was a brave thing you did. The capacity for human compassion always surprises me and yet it is one of the most beautiful things every time I witness it. Your pack, you saved them. You could have healed in moments, but you used everything to heal them all.”
Derek looked over and frowned. “Who are you?”
“By all rights, Derek Hale, you should be broken beyond all reason. But somehow, you always place your pack first. It is shocking and wondrous to see.” The voice coalesced into a body of a large man with young features. “The miracle is in the resilience of the human soul. For all that you claim not to be human, Derek, you are the most human of all your pack.”
“Am I dead?”
The man smiled and shook his head. “That remains to be seen. And do you not know me?”
It took a moment for all of that to sink in. “Gabriel. You must be Stiles’ protector.”
“And yours, you wear my mark as well.” The archangel smiled again. “Your act of selflessness allows me to show you some of the future. The surprises this timeline shows me continues to amaze. Look at some of what you allowed with your actions…”
The pool of the manor was full of kids splashing around. Scott yelled trying to get them to pay attention. A clearly pregnant Allison smacked him on the back of the head. “They aren’t doing anything. Let them play.”
Cora walked over and smacked the alpha on his head too. “Yes, let them play so we can all sleep tonight.”
Isaac sat up from his lounge chair and rolled his eyes. “You just want to get in some quality time with yours truly and not be bothered by the twins.”
“Kids, foods ready,” called Lydia as she walked out. Her hair was short and she leaned over and kissed her husband. “Porter, get Andrew out of the pool before he thinks he can eat in there.”
Cameron and Jackson laughed against a wall while toweling dry a little blonde-headed girl. Erica and Boyd laughed as Chris cannonballed into the pool. “All of you were kids once before and I’ll remind all of them of all your antics as they become teenagers.”
“Dad!” yelled Scott. “Don’t you dare!”
Ethan started laughing as he pulled Danny out of the water. “Oh, I don’t know. I heard all about your exploits with Stiles growing up. I think your son should know.”
“Absolutely not!” Allison laughed. “Melissa told me everything.”
Derek sat back and rubbed his eyes. “Stiles?”
“His future is undetermined yet.”The archangel gave Derek a knowing smile.
“Because I’m dead?”
“You have a choice. You can pass on or you can go back. I can’t advise you either way. Both have impacts. I will say that if you go back you must have courage to face the hardships in your path. You are far stronger than you know, Derek Hale. You’ve been forged through so much. Use it if you choose. Or you can pass on and lay down your burdens and find peace. None would think ill of you should you choose that path.”
Derek looked at the wall with the future playing out on it. Some of it was hidden and it all had to do with Stiles. “If I move on then I break him. He’ll never be the same. I can’t do that. I love him too much.”
“And that is why you are selfless. The future will be in good hands. The victory here only makes the next set of challenges greater. But there will be a break before the next storm, Lord Hale. How long I cannot say.” The archangel walked over and gave him a kiss on his forehead. “Peace be with you.”
The world went white again.
Dr. Keys walked out of the infirmary and sighed. Lynn Dorsett walked over and handed him a box. He handed them back and motioned to the room. The emissary took them where Danny, Marin, and the wizard Lewis looked down at the wounded alpha.
“These are healing crystals they can help rebuild his strength and realign his body’s energies.” Together they set them on and around the alpha. Lynn touched his forehead. “Heal, Derek, heal.”
Keys went out to the den where most of the pack was assembled. He instantly noticed that Stiles was sandwiched between two young women. The whole pack moved closer to the alpha’s mate. He knelt near the young man and placed a hand on his leg. “I wish I had good news, but time will tell. Derek was tortured and not all the wounds are physical. The necromancer tried to rip his wolf out. Part of Derek is deeply wounded, going all the way to the very fabric of who he is. We did what we could. His feet will heal in time, but his body has been through a lot.”
Stiles sobbed but leaned forward. “Will he survive?”
“I don’t know. His wounds go so deep. It’s too soon to tell.”
The industrial area was a disaster zone. John and the rest of his department, with the help of the fire department and FBI started looking to see if anyone was injured in the melee. Given the number of damaged buildings John prayed the number was small.
“I’d say we’re lucky that the localized earthquake only damaged that one gas line,” Agent McCall said loudly.
Winchester and Adams shared a look. Sam walked over to John and motioned towards McCall. “Is that the cover story we’re going with? A small localized earthquake and a gas main rupture?”
“It was his idea if you believe that,” John said. “Listen, I need to slip away for a bit. My son…Peter called and Derek is in a coma. Stiles…”
Camille walked over and gave the sheriff a hug. “We can handle things for a bit and it looks you’re your future deputy, Patrick, has a level head on his shoulders. Go help your son. The two wardens are walking around checking to make sure that counter spell worked. We’ve got it. Go. ”
John felt the pall in the air as he walked into the den and the pack was sacked out. None of them had so much as cleaned up from the battle. The room was rank with sweat, blood, and whatever the hell some of them walked through with the Warden Chandler.
He went over to Stiles and pulled him into the biggest, tightest hug he could. His heart broke as Stiles started crying against his shoulder. “It’s okay, son. It’s okay. This is Derek we’re talking about. He’s more cat that wolf. He’s got nine lives.”
“Dad, if I had acted sooner, if I had gotten there quicker…”
“You might be dead and most of us along with you.” John swallowed against the tightness in his throat. “He’s still here, son. That means there’s hope.” He turned to the room and pulled out his sheriff’s voice. “Now all of you get up and take a shower. You stink and you’re covered in God knows what. We’ll start a watch so Derek always has someone in the room with him. Scott, Jackson, both of you get Stiles settled. Cameron will take first watch and then Cora. Stiles, you need some sleep before you come back.” He surveyed the room. “Move!”
They all got up and headed upstairs. If there was one thing the pack knew it was that even Derek listened to John. The sheriff held tight to Stiles. “Son, I’ve never been more proud to be your dad than tonight. You and the whole pack saved the town.”
Stiles hugged his dad and let Jackson and Scott take him upstairs. John motioned for Cameron. “Go shower. I’ll keep watch for a bit. You’re running on fumes too.”
John headed into the infirmary and looked down at his son’s mate. “You get well. We need you.”
Monday dawned and the pack was reluctant to leave for school. Peter had been informed that both Marin and Jennifer were returning to school that day. Several buildings had been damaged in the battle, but only minor injuries to the general populace.
“You’re going to school, all of you,” Melissa stated with her arms crossed. “There is nothing for you to do here. I’m off and Dr. Keys will be here along with Lynn, Cameron, Peter, and Porter. We can handle it and you told us that some higher power was dealing with the damned Necromancer, Stiles.”
“I need to be near him. What if…what…” he could hardly finish the thought.
“School’s not that far away,” Lydia said coming up next to him. One of us will get you here if anything changes. But you know you need to do this.”
Jackson walked over and threw his arm around Stiles and started walking him out the door. “He’s held on for two days and Keys said he feels stronger, let’s go with that. Now this will let you get out of lacrosse practice. I happen to know the captain of the team.”
“Co-captain,” reminded Scott as he came up on the other side of Stiles. “We can still feel him, bro. Have some faith. Have some faith.”
It was the final debriefing and John was never so happy to see people leave.
“We’ve been assigned to the San Francisco Field Office,” Agent Adams stated. She gave John a grin and a nod. “It appears that with activity increasing on this coast and Los Angeles not deemed safe for certain assets. The Formorians have solidified their hold in Seattle and in Los Angeles. We may be the start of something out here, but this type of underground incursion is unknown. It’s a mess.”
McCall rolled his eyes. “I’ll admit I understand now, but Benn and I need to remain on the outside to help cover when the shit hits the fan again. Because one of the seers some of the hunters know says another sign has been fulfilled. Whatever that means.” He looked around and shook his head. “Do I really want to know what that means?”
“Probably not. About the hunters,” John asked while rubbing the back of his neck.
“We’re taking care of it.” Sam answered. “Christian is leaving with us and what’s left of his merry gang. And while Chris won’t be back in their good graces, they at least don’t have him on the kill list anymore.” He moved closer and dropped his voice. “How is Derek?”
John wished he had a good answer, but everything showed that he was still in a coma. Keys still maintained that it was the torture and magical overload causing it. But the pack was worried that his wounds were barely healing. His feet were better, but not completely healed. “Same. Dr. Keys isn’t worried yet, but if it lasts longer than a week he said he’d bring in some big guns.”
“Please keep me informed. We’ll be back in San Francisco by the end of the month.” Sam shook the sheriff’s hand and left with the rest of the agents.
“You staying or leaving,” John asked the only man left in the room, Patrick Watt.
“My reasons for being here haven’t changed. Too many young wolves and not enough old ones to make them mind their manners.” The blond took a deep breath. “I have a feeling Derek will live, he’s too damned strong not to. I can still feel his connection and that means something. I’m staying.”
“Then I’ll offer you a job here. I have openings. Do me a favor, the Reyes girl, she’s a wolf, I think she’d make a great officer when she’s done with school. Could you nudge her in a way that doesn’t…”
“Have your fingerprints all over it?” the wolf smiled and nodded. “I think Porter is staying, but Mia and Karina left with the Summer Court. Off to find their adventure.”
“They didn’t get enough Friday night?” John’s eyes went wide.
“No, but once Derek is back to full strength they will have to come back and ask for permission to leave. No one could give them that.”
John leaned forward and sighed. “Do you think Derek will come back okay?”
The wolf answered with a shrug. “What happened to him was brutal. I’m a born wolf and to have it…attempted to have it ripped out. It would be like cleaving me it half. I’ve never known life without that being part of me. I can sense he’s still a wolf, but there is so much magic around him I don’t know what’s going on.”
Lynn looked up and smiled at the two wardens. “I think we have been remiss in thanking you. The pack has been preoccupied I’m afraid.”
Chandler sat down and Meyers joined him. The Englishman spoke first. “I’ll be honest and say that I hope I don’t have to come here again anytime soon. Plus, Ramirez will be up and running by the New Year.”
The Texan chuckled. “He was bucking to come join this fight, but Councilor Listens-to-Wind was having none of it.” He turned serious for a moment and pointed towards the Preserve. “The power out there is something that can’t fall into the wrong hands. Stiles was smart and went after the Necromancer, but he was stupid to do it alone.”
“He went to save his mate.”
“And that is the greatest concern the Council will have,” Chandler said. “There are several Powers in play here and Stiles will most definitely be a Warden when the time comes. But can he make the tough choices when they are called for?”
Peter Hale walked into the loft and sat down next to Lynn. “Wardens, pardon me for my tardiness, but family business… I believe you don’t understand exactly what is going on between my nephew and Stiles.”
“They’re mates,” Meyers said flatly.
“They are soul-bonded, you idiot.” Peter snarled. “You act as though mates was a simple word to be thrown around. If one dies…if Stiles died then Derek would as well. If Derek dies then Stiles is broken. The light in his eyes will no longer shine. Eventually that loss would kill him as well. And we would have to watch this happen.”
Chandler leaned forward. “I don’t understand.”
“It’s not a matter of loyalty; it’s a matter of survival. We are a wolf pack and we are a family. We will do whatever it takes to survive. This family knows pain, suffering, loss, and anguish.” Peter stood up. “Be mindful when you make your report that we are still very much Summer allies. And we are not without resources.”
The wardens watched as the werewolf left. Chandler turned back to their host. “What was that about?”
“Do not underestimate what this pack will do for their own.” She smiled and poured some more tea. “Sugar?”
“His birthday is tomorrow,” Stiles said quietly. “The energy from the crystals is almost gone. They did all they could. I… I want him moved to our room.”
Keys and Melissa traded looks and the doctor looked over at Lynn. Her nod was met with one of Keys’. “I think that is a good idea. It is a familiar place and it smells of you and happiness. It is a safe place.”
Lynn got up and went into the infirmary and began removing the drained crystals. She placed a hand over his head and reached out with all her sense. “I know you’re somewhere, Derek. It’s all up to you now. We’ve done all we can from the outside.”
Cameron and Peter came in and Cameron gently lifted Derek into his arms. Quickly they headed up to the master suite where Stiles and Melissa were waiting. It didn’t take long for them to get Derek arranged comfortably. Everyone left Stiles alone with his mate.
“Come on, Der, come back to me. Please? I can’t do this without you. Please…please come back…”
Aches and pain started to intrude on his awareness. Moments ago he’d been in that stark white room with the archangel, but now his head hurt. Memories rushed back and his muscles contracted at their recall.
“Hey, calm down, calm down…you’re okay.” Stiles could feel Derek trying to return. “Can you open your eyes for me?”
Words grated in his head, but he knew it was Stiles. His senses were all jumbled. He could barely smell and his hearing felt muffled. It took all his effort to open his eyes and even that dim light felt like a knife to his head. He squeezed them shut quickly.
“Okay, you’re somewhat awake. Derek, how do you feel?” Stiles felt pain radiating from the link, “Stupid question.” He picked up his phone and dialed Keys. “He’s awake and in pain.”
Derek had no clue how much time passed. He heard the words fever and exhaustion. The injection he was given barely registered, but he knew that the pain faded and with it so did he. He was out again.
“How can he have a fever?” Stiles demanded.
“After everything he’s been through, his system is beyond taxed. He needs rest and the pain meds and antibiotics will help,” Keys said while looking in his bag.
“Some birthday he’s having.” Stiles carded his hand through Derek’s sweat soaked hair. “Come on, baby, you can do this. We’re all here.”
The pack came by one by one to check on Stiles and know that Derek was no longer in a coma. They only got vague echoes of pain from Derek, but nothing else.
Stiles and a few others tended to Derek for days until his fever finally broke. They cleaned him up and then got him settled back into bed. Stiles sighed as he could hear Derek breathing normally again.
Derek barely recalled much since he woke briefly. His eyes flew open. It was dark outside, but he had no idea what time or day it was. Trying to lift his arm took effort as every muscles felt like a lead weight. Extending his senses took as much effort, but he could feel Stiles next to him, on the other side of the bed, sound asleep. His phone sat on his bedside table. There was an hour before dawn. “Over a week since…” he didn’t finish the thought.
He almost fell out of the bed as he tried to stand. His feet ached and each small step was a labor, but he finally made it to the bathroom. The reflection in the mirror confirmed he looked like hell – given how he felt - and the scars still on his body told him how bad it had been. He could barely feel his wolf. Normally right there in his mind, now it was distant. Panic began to well up, but cold water on his face helped gather his composure.
It was in his closet, he knew that and finally he found a cane he’s used as a prop in New York. He needed it now for real. He needed air, he needed…
The house was asleep on that November Sunday morning. Slowly he made his way out the back doors and down towards the lake. His steps hurt, but not the pain they experienced when they were shattered. Derek knew he should have stayed in bed, but there was a call, a deep need to see the sunrise at the lake. His dreams, the nightmares maybe, all spoke of elemental balance. Water, earth, air, and the sunrise for fire.
False dawn gave way to dawn as he made it to the shoreline. He lifted his arms in greeting to the sun. The warmth from the sun drove away the coolness of the air. He wasn’t used to feeling so cool, but he was far from cold. Peace and stillness encompassed him and all the pain and panic that floated in his awareness stepped back. He sat down and watched the first rays of sunlight play on the water.
A hand slipped into his and he leaned back against Stiles. The warmth from his mate filled him. Stiles’ other arm went around him and Derek buried his head into Stiles neck. The deep feeling of safety and love overpowered. Noise from behind him didn’t make him move, but the safety of pack breached his defenses. The first tears leaked from his eyes and before he knew it he was sobbing into Stiles shoulder.
“Let it out, Der. He’s gone, you’re safe now. He’s gone.” Stiles soothed his mate as best he could.
Cameron sat down on the other side of Derek and gave him a hug. Others in the pack formed a ring of love around them. Isaac, Jackson, Ethan, Danny, Lydia, and Erica were a few that wiped their eyes several times.
John walked to the front and knelt down in front of his son and future son-in-law. “Derek, you let us handle everything until you’re ready. But its Sunday morning and its pack breakfast.”
Derek blinked up at John and nodded. “Think I need a nap.”
Cameron helped Derek up and he and Scott supported him back to the house. Stiles held his hand and kept soothing Derek through their link. “I promise Derek, it will get better.”
Tuesday dawned and Derek ached. The soup bowl from the night sat on his night stand. The thought of food made his stomach rebel, but he needed food. Normally he would not be able to sleep through the noise of the pack rushing for school, especially on a day after a holiday, but exhaustion seeped from every fiber of his being.
After taking several minutes to get to the bathroom and manage a shower. Derek tried to extend his senses to hear heartbeats in the house. The effort left him dizzy and sweating. He felt so torn from his moorings. He needed his wolf; he needed to feel the connection. He had to try. Mind made up, Derek slowly made his way down to the main work room.
Once the door was closed, Derek stripped off his loose fitting clothes. Slowly he stepped into the circle and opened his mind. Pain roared up, but he reached down towards that aching center and pulled it closer. Tears ran down his cheeks and all his muscles trembled in response to his exertion. His center, the place where his power lived, he found it and pulled it close. Agony was everywhere. Skin felt like it was on fire. He roared and everything went white.
All around him was a beautiful green field and trees swaying in the wind. The full moon hung right there as if he could reach out and touch it.
“Here at last, my alpha.”
Derek turned around and radiance almost blinded him, but the beauty called to him. A dark haired lady bathed in soft white light came near him. She ran a hand over his cheek and smiled.
“So brave my wolf. You cannot lose that which is truly yours. That demon-wizard thought he could use my people for his deeds then he did not know we still sit out here. We can act if the need arises.”
“Forgive me, but who are you?” Derek frowned up at her glowing face.
Laughter rang across the glen. “Has it been so long since we interacted with mortals that they don’t know their patrons?” She smiled at him again. “I am Selene or Luna, Goddess of the Moon and the patron of the wolves. You are mine and you will need to remember that when everything that comes unfolds. The archangel guards your mate and you ally with the Fae, but you are my piece on this board.”
He was talking to a Goddess. A few days ago he was talking to Gabriel! “Oh man, this wasn’t at all what I expected from my life.”
“No, it would not be, Lord Hale. It never is for those who must stand tall when events arise that requires them to be counted.” She moved closer and her form shifted from large to a normal size so she could look him in the eye. “There are rewards for faithful service, my alpha.”
He stared into her eyes and much of his pain vanished. Slowly he blinked and she started to move away. “Wait, please. What is coming? Gabriel was vague and you mentioned something enfolding.”
Again laughter rang in her glen. “Young Lord, you must understand that we do not see things as you do. Time doesn’t flow, it is. And it happens for many planes all at once. Your suffering drew my attention to this realm. It’s been long since this realm drew my eye. How events unfold…you need an oracle for that. I may be a goddess, but there are rules. Rest, my wolf and recover.”
She vanished and Derek felt like he was falling. Everything went white.
Stiles abruptly sat up. Jackson, Lydia, and Danny all stared at him. He looked around the room and no one else seemed bothered. “Something happened to Derek.”
Jackson’s ears perked up. “Is he okay?”
“Nothing bad that I can tell, but he feels…closer. Hard to explain.” He quickly texted Cameron to see how Derek was.
‘At the loft, will be back there in an hour.’
The glare from their history teacher made him put his phone away. “Cam isn’t there.”
Danny pulled out his tablet and started typing while watching the teacher. It was a skill that many of the pack wished they had. He keyed a few sequences and soon was looking at two feeds from outside the house. “No one is running around the woods or immediate property and his car is in the garage.”
“You aren’t feeling distress are you?” Lydia asked.
“No, I…its odd, but not distress.” Stiles sat back in his chair and frowned as he tried to engage his mate-bond with Derek.
The day was horribly slow, but finally Stiles ditched school and headed for the manor. He knew there would be hell to pay for missing practice, but he was worried. Jackson and Scott knew the score and would cover with Finstock. Seriously though, he wasn’t needed since there were six werewolves on first line. Plus Danny got some kind of boost from being in the pack. Stiles couldn’t use his hyperawareness on the playing field; he’d look like a blur.
All afternoon he tried to link with Derek to find something there that said ‘Derek’ but didn’t feel right. He made his way to their bedroom and stopped as he got to the bedroom. Stiles picked up the phone. “Cameron, why is there a huge black wolf wolf in my bed?”
“Well, we know his wolf is okay,” Lynn stated while sipping some hot tea. “What we don’t know is how or why this happened. He didn’t feel strong enough to shift into a beta form much less a full wolf.”
Marin shrugged and swirled her tea. “And Keys won’t be back until next week?”
“He bought the Whittemore house and will be moving here with his family next week,” John said and put down his water bottle. “But Derek sick and shivering in his bed is one thing. Derek as a wolf and completely passed out is another. Who is running the pack?”
“Cameron,” Peter said flatly. “No questions. When Derek shifts back then he will resume his duties as the head of family, but Cameron is designated heir until then.”
The emissaries, John, Chris, Patrick and Melissa traded quick looks. Chris cleared his throat, “Do we even know if Derek is still an alpha. Cameron’s eyes are red now.”
Peter shrugged. “We’ll find out when we find out, but according to Stiles, Derek still holds his Guardian mantle and as such is Lord Hale. That outranks alpha status. But I can still feel him and his bond link doesn’t feel like a normal bond, but like an alpha bond.”
“Then the matter is settled,” Lynn stated. “Regardless of Derek’s status, he’s the head of the family and pack as a result. But until he’s…human again, Cameron is in command.”
“Just to play devil’s advocate, but wasn’t Scott an alpha first?” Chris asked.
Melissa rolled her eyes. “I love my son, but him in charge of anyone frightens me to death. No, Cameron is in charge.” She reached over and lightly punched Chris. “Shame on you for even suggesting such a thing.”
The smell of food pulled Derek out of his haze. The last thing he remembered was going to the workroom to try to pull his wolf back up. Then the Goddess…
‘What the hell?’ Derek realized he was in full wolf form and shifted back to his human form. “Owww,” he muttered. It took a moment to stand up, but when he did he no longer felt the deep fatigue he had when he went down to the workroom. He picked up his phone and almost dropped it. “Three more days?”
His senses expanded and he felt the full pack downstairs preparing to eat and his stomach growled. “Not going anywhere smelling like this,” he muttered again and managed to head into the bathroom to shower and shave the unruly mess that was his beard.
Taking in his appearance as he left the shower, all the scars were gone except for two small points on his wrists. Even the scars inside didn’t feel as bad. They were there, but Derek wasn’t overwhelmed.
“I’ve lost weight,” he sighed as he took in his jeans and t-shirt no longer fitting tightly to his body. Not bothering to put on socks or shoes, he made his way towards the Dining room.
The sounds, smells, and the sight made his heart swell. He walked in and smiled a bit as everyone grew quiet. “Would you mind if I joined you?”
Stiles was up in a second and giving Derek the biggest hug. He pulled back and pushed him towards the empty chair at the head of the table. “I can feel your ribs, dude. Eat.”
Not wanting to upset his mate, Derek did as he was told. Before he knew it there was a pile of food on his plate. “Um, by my count I haven’t really eaten in two weeks. Not sure I can manage this.”
“Well, try,” Lydia said with a smile. “You had us all worried sick.”
Nods went around the table. Isaac cleared his throat, “Please don’t do that again. Stiles has been Hell to deal with.”
“Hey, it wasn’t just me. Jackson and Erica have been sulking and Scott worried to death as well,” Stiles defended.
Derek listened as the teens started arguing back and forth. Threats of food being flung was the final straw; he’d had it. “Enough!” he flashed his eyes and the room went silent. “What?”
“Your eyes,” Peter said in awe.
Taking a deep breath, Derek asked, “Are they not red anymore? I can’t tell with how I feel, but…”
“They were silver,” Scott blurted out.
“Moonlight,” Lynn corrected. “Your eyes shown like pure moonlight. You are most definitely an alpha. The blessings of the Goddess are with you for such a rare occurrence to happen.”
Every wolf heard his heartbeat shift. Patrick was the first to comment, “What was that?”
“I…I’ll tell you, but not today. Eat, I know Lydia will hound me if I don’t.” Everyone went back to eating and bantering. Derek caught Stiles’ eye once or twice and gave his mate a wink.
Even as recovered as he was, Derek tired quickly and bid everyone good night. Stiles followed. Once the doors were closed they kissed as if they hadn’t in ages.
“I will be.” Derek ran his fingers through Stiles messy hair. “Thank you.”
“For what?” he asked as he guided them back to the bed.
“I felt you with me the whole time. I was so weak and in so much pain, but you were there, trying to keep me from fading. I…I could never leave you. Even if I was broken, I couldn’t leave you alone forever.” Derek hugged Stiles as tightly as he could.
“Dude, I’d chase your spirit down. You’re stuck with me.”
They curled up next to each other on the bed. Derek kissed his mate lightly. “Thanksgiving is Thursday. I missed my birthday.”
“We’ll celebrate tomorrow. And stuff ourselves Thursday.”
“We have plenty of reason to give Thanks,” Derek said. “I have plenty of reason to give Thanks. I love you.”
“I know.” Stiles smiled and got a pillow in the face. “What?”
“You are not Han Solo. I am not a princess.” Derek moved back a bit and pouted.
“Don’t know dude, moonlight Goddess touched eyes, and a Guardian mantle, pretty close to being a princess in my book.” Stiles scrambled away as Derek started tickling him. “No! bad!”
“And don’t call me dude!”
Derek knew something was up when Cora and Erica kidnapped him. He tried to say he was tired, but Cora was having none of it. “Listen, you may be recovering, but you’ve been inside for over two weeks. That one morning of sunrise fun doesn’t count! We are going to the Farmer’s Market and then we are going to grab some Vietnamese sandwiches because yum!”
Erica pushed him into the backseat of Peter’s car. “Shut up and let us do this. And yes, Uncle Creepy gave us the keys.”
He knew he was still drained if he didn’t even bother to put up a token fight. They spent the afternoon running around and finally he had enough. “Look, you two may have all the energy in the world and I may not feel like I’ve been run over by a Mack truck twice anymore, however I’m still recovering.”
Cora rolled her eyes at him in the rearview mirror. “Fine. The big bad alpha needs a nap.”
“You should be nicer to me, I’m recovering.” Derek smiled broadly.
“Are you for real?” Erica mocked. “You just lost the right to play the sympathy card until Christmas.”
It was easy to ignore them the rest of the way home. He didn’t recall the backseat being this uncomfortable on the return trip from the White Court Ball. It might have something to do with the company. Derek didn’t realize he dozed off in the back until Erica is throwing something at him.
“You know when I’m feeling better there is going to be a training session from hell.”
“Blah, blah, blah,” Cora mocked. “There are four other alphas in the pack now buddy. You aren’t that special.”
Preparing to argue he was shocked when they made it to the den and it was decorated for his birthday. “Okay, I knew we were doing something, but not this.”
John handed him a beer and pushed him into a chair. “From what I can tell it’s a ‘Thank Goodness You’re Alive’ Birthday Party.”
Derek rolled his eyes and drank his beer. He drew the line when Stiles came over with a birthday hat. “You have to, it’s tradition!”
Grunting, Derek grabbed the hat and put it on. “Happy?”
Stiles kissed him on the cheek and moved away smiling. “Perfect.”
There was an assortment of gifts to be opened. Lydia came forward and handed Derek the first gift. “This is really a pack gift to you. But we thought your birthday was best for it.”
Intrigued, Derek unwrapped it and his mouth fell open. “Oh.” Was all he managed to get out. It was a portrait of Talia Hale dressed in a business suit. The oil and canvas painting was large and in an ornate frame. “This is beautiful.”
Cora, Peter, and Cameron came around and looked at it as well. Peter squeezed his nephew’s shoulder. “She looks like she always did, so full of life and power. Amazing.”
“We thought she should hang on the hall opposite the staircase,” Lydia added. “Everyone would see her often.”
As if on cue, Scott came forward with another wrapped frame. Carefully unwrapping it, Derek’s mouth fell open and Peter openly gasped. “That is…where did you find a picture to get this image?”
The portrait was of an older man and woman sitting down with four young adults and one teenager surrounding them.
“Those are my parents. That’s Talia, Andrew, and my cousins Celeste and Adam.” Peter’s hand almost touched the painting, but not quite.
Chris brought over a final frame to be unwrapped. Derek opened it and sighed. “Really?”
“Now this one we knew about,” Cora crowed. “Come on, you’re Lord of the Manor. You should have a portrait hanging up in the house.”
“My grandparents can hang in the Dining room and this one can hang in the study.” Derek stood up and stretched. “Now where is the cake?”
The day before Thanksgiving had everyone running around the manor trying to figure out what they needed for which recipe. Derek decided to let the pack handle everything and was incredibly happy that Lynn, Peter, and Melissa were actually running the show.
He was in his study when the door opened and Agents Winchester and Adams walked in. “I thought you left?”
“We wanted to check in on you and to finish up the report for the Archivist,” Sam said as he slid into one of the chairs opposite Derek.
“I was told we had an earthquake,” Derek smirked. “Not sure what my injuries were then.”
“You aren’t in the FBI report, but you figure prominently in the one for the Special Archivist.”
Derek stood up and motioned for them to follow. He led them to the Sunroom and called for a few in the pack to join them. “I need the sunlight to talk about this. Not even Stiles has heard it.”
Peter, Cameron, Lydia, Stiles, John, Lynn, Chris, and Scott join them. Stiles sat next to Derek and squeezed his hand. “You don’t have to do this.”
“Yes, I do.” Derek took a deep breath. “The necromancer was actually Gerard Argent with the spirit of a dead necromancer riding shot gun. The failed bite I gave him, combined with the mountain ash, made his body strong enough to deal with that kind of possession.
“Gerard knew who some of Kate’s contacts were with group that wants the power under this building. We need to look into that. He…his goal was to rip the spirit of my wolf away from my body and bind it magically to his. He needed the power of all those sacrifices to do this. Then with my alpha spark pulled out he could act like an alpha.
“Once…once that was done then he was going to kill all the betas and take their power. Stiles was the price for help to do this. He was to be drained of his magic and sacrificed.” Derek swallowed. “Only after all this was done could I die. All my ties to this life would be gone. Then the forest and this place would be wide open for their plans.”
Stiles squeezed Derek’s hand harder. “So it’s back to figuring out who Kate knew and how to stop them.”
“That is easier said than done,” Sam stated. “We don’t know who to trust. The White Court has thralls all over the government. We don’t know if Kate’s sources are protected by them. We do know that one of the Assistant Directors vanished right after the Necromancer was defeated here.”
“No one trusts anyone right now. The White Council gave aid because they knew you, but they are reluctant to get involved currently.” Adams leaned forward. “The Archivist did share that you are on a watch list. Good or bad, we don’t know. Laughlin said that his group is watching as well. You may not know this, but both the Summer and Winter Lady died on Halloween. Both Fae Courts are in upheaval.”
Sam stood up. “We’ll report some of what you said. The necromancer for sure and what he was after. That will raise red flags. This place has been a target for seven years or longer. If they had Deaton under control for a long time then they may have other sleeper agents.”
“Now I’m going to have nightmares,” Scott sighed.
“Even the Wardens had sleeper agents,” Adams added. “No one is safe.”
Peter showed the agents out and Stiles threw the pack out of the room. “You okay?”
“He came very close to getting what he wanted, Stiles. I was very close to breaking.” Derek leaned his head back and rubbed his eyes. “I’m almost back to normal except now my eyes are silver.”
“Hey, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. We’ll stuff ourselves silly with turkey and then pie.” He leaned over and kissed Derek. “Tomorrow’s worries are for tomorrow.”
“Yes, Obi-Won Kenobi.”
Stiles pulled Derek up and winked at him. “I’m Yoda and don’t you forget it.”
“Yes, dear. Let’s go find some food and see if we can snake a pie a day early.” Derek kissed Stiles and headed for the kitchen. He was right; all their worries could wait for a day.
Thank you for reading. This series will again have a few interludes before the next story.