Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by Jeff Davis et al. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Warnings: spoilers for s3
Derek wasn't sure what he was feeling. Frankly he wasn't totally sure which way was up and which way was down either as he blinked and tried to make sense of what had just happened. Jenifer, or what was left of her, was on the floor and this time the job had been done right.
The eclipse was still in force and he could feel the power that had come from somewhere else leaking away, but for a while there he had felt like the strongest alpha on the planet and he'd been surrounded by others equally as strong, all the others actually. Then he had heard Scott's command and it had literally reverberated through him.
The wolf in him was still howling 'my alpha' in Scott's direction and he really didn't know how to deal with that.
"Is everyone alive?" he asked, because it was about as coherent as he could manage.
There were vague noises from most directions.
"Allison," Chris Argent said, dropping the knife he was holding and going to his daughter's side.
Luckily Allison appeared to be waking up.
Swinging his eyes around, Derek did a quick head count since, for once, nobody seemed to be trying to kill anyone else. The Alpha pack were to one side, Issac was on one side of him, Peter the next with Cora just behind and then Scott. Only Scott did not have blood on his hands. Lydia was on the stairs with Deaton and Morell.
Derek turned as soon as he heard Sheriff Stilinski and scanned the area. With his enhanced senses gone he couldn't see any more than the humans, but it was clear Stiles was nowhere to be found.
"He was right there," Scott said pointing at an ominous patch of blood; "I saw him land when Ms Blake threw him."
Derek might not have had werewolf powers to rely on, but he could still see the blood trail towards the nemeton. The bloody handprint over the sigil made ice run up his spine. However, there was no sign of Stiles.
"He sacrificed himself to the nemeton to give you all the power to destroy Julia," Deaton spoke from the stairs.
Something in Derek's chest twisted at that.
"Then where is he?" the sheriff demanded. "Where's my son?"
At least at that Deaton looked unsure. If there was no body there was a chance Stiles was still alive.
"I do not know," Deaton admitted, "but in extreme circumstances the nemeton can sometimes become a gateway to other places. It is possible Stiles passed through."
"To where?" Scott wanted to know.
"How do we get him back?" was what the Sheriff asked.
"I will have to do some research," was all Deaton said, looking apologetic.
"Well, as much as I am enjoying this family drama," Deucalion interrupted, "oh right, I'm not."
Derek really wanted to punch him.
"We will conclude our business later. We are leaving," Deucalion said and Derek saw the twins look at each other.
"We're not coming," one of the twins said, moving closer to his brother.
"We're staying with Scott," the other agreed.
Kali looked between Deucalion and the twins and then back again as Deucalion snarled. It was only a human snarl, but the twin who had spoken second flinched.
"I'm staying too," Kali said and Derek was actually shocked.
Clearly he wasn't the only one feeling the effect of the True Alpha through whatever connection the power outflow had caused.
"If you think I will allow..." Deucalion started to shout.
"Shut up," Scott said even though it was clear his asthma was getting to him again. "Your pack is gone; they don't want you anymore. You pushed them too far, made them kill too many people they loved."
"Power is everything..." Deucalion was not about to give up.
"Power is nothing," Derek stepped in.
"Says the man who turned maladjusted teenagers because he was so desperate for it," Deucalion taunted.
"The man who gave it up to save his sister," Cora moved up beside him.
Now everyone was looking at him, even Deucalion had followed Cora's voice.
"You would never..." Deucalion clearly did not believe that.
"My mother knew how to be an alpha," Derek said, "my sister Laura knew how to be an alpha, but I never understood, not until my sister was dying and there was something I could do to stop it. Power is nothing, Deucalion, and you can keep pedalling your demon wolf crap forever and it won't change anything. Family is everything, pack is everything and once upon a time you understood that. I have been fighting since I met a kid turned against his will and I always thought I was fighting to get him into my pack. Turns out I was fighting to stay out of his, only I'm not fighting anymore."
It didn't look as if Scott knew what to say to that, or it could have just been shock that he'd said more than three words at a time.
"You felt it just like the rest of us," the second twin said, clearly trying to appeal to Deucalion; "you obeyed as well."
"Weak minded fools," Deucalion roared.
Chris Argent put a stop to the rant with a well aimed blade into the alpha's leg. Given that they were all virtually human at the moment, Deucalion went down with a pained cry. Derek found it very interesting Argent hadn't taken a kill shot.
"We need to get the injured to a hospital," Argent said, "if we're not putting him down right now we need to get some chains on him and you," he pointed at Deaton, "need to figure out how the hell we're going to find Stiles. Any questions?"
Scott shook his head, which made the choice for most of the wolves. Even Peter didn't look like he was in the mood to argue.
"My loft?" Derek asked, nodding in Deucalion's direction.
It had the biggest floor space and somewhere they could chain Deucalion. The eclipse would last another hour at least, which gave them time.
"We'll take Alison and the sheriff to the hospital," Scott decided; "is everyone else okay to wait until the eclipse finishes to heal?"
"I'm coming with you," Lydia said and walked over to Scott.
Derek nodded along with the rest of the wolves. He'd had far worse and waiting might teach him to be more careful next time. Then Scott looked over at those left on the stairs.
"I almost forgot," he said. "Ms Morell we should take you too, for your shoulder."
"No need," the woman replied; "luna eclipse."
Apparently that was supposed to explain everything and Derek realised there was a lot he didn't know about Emissaries. He made a mental note to learn even if they didn't want him to.
"What about Stiles?" the sheriff wanted to know.
"My sister and I will remain here," Deaton said, "and attempt to find out what has happened."
"I'll call some people to deal with the clear up?" Chris Argent said and no one chose to object.
The events of the night had shaken them all and no one was much up to politics.
When they stepped outside there was another shock coming.
Where there had been a stump there was a massive oak. The nemeton, which had been only roots was now a full tree and its leaves shook at them in a very unsettling manner.
"I remember this place, this was where we found Julia," the Sheriff said, staring up at the tree, "that was not there before."
"Deaton," Chris Argent called back down into the root cellar.
It was Morell whose head appeared through the open trap door and for the first time ever, Derek saw the woman look stunned.
"By all that is holy and sacred," she whispered.
"Does that tell you what happened to Stiles?" Scott asked from where he was trying to look as if he wasn't leaning on his mother for support.
No one had thought to bring an inhaler.
"No," Morell replied, "but it gives us somewhere to start," and promptly disappeared again.
The effects of the eclipse wore off just when expected and all the wolves brightened considerably. There were some very heartfelt groans from around the loft. Derek felt his skin tingling as small cuts and bruises all began to heal.
It wasn't exactly a comfortable group in his loft, but at least they were being civil. Cora had even made coffee.
Stretching to take some of the kinks out of his back, Derek let his wolf out to speed up his recovery.
"You weren't lying," Kali said and he realised his eyes must be blue.
"It was the only thing that would save Cora," he said and he could see loss in her expression.
He still wasn't sure why Kali had given up on her vendetta against him over Ennis, but he was not about to ask. It was funny, he had thought he would regret losing his alpha power, feel it more, but he was just glad Cora was alive.
They'd had a call from the hospital and Allison appeared to be okay, but was being kept in, in case of concussion and the Sheriff was being scheduled for various tests to check that his wound was healing okay. The fact Jenifer had patched up her prisoner to make sure he didn't expire anyway except deliberately was quite obvious. According to Melissa the wound appeared far less severe than Scott had suspected from what he'd seen in the classroom. That, at least, was good news.
With that part of the problem dealt with, Scott was on his way over to deal with the rest of it.
There was a new alpha in town, an alpha with three other alphas in his pack; it was going to take some sorting out.
The fact Stiles was not there to make snide comments was kind of jarring. It had become part of what Derek expected, what he needed to know everything was going to be alright, and wasn't that a kick in the teeth. Stiles had gone from being the annoying kid he wanted to kill to the annoying kid who reassured him in situations that even scared the hell out of an alpha werewolf.
Derek looked over when the alarm went off and pretty shortly after that the door opened and Scott walked in. Their eyes met and Derek felt energy rip up his spine. He'd never felt anything like it and his knees gave out, forcing him to the floor.
"Derek," Cora was by his side in a second.
He pushed her away, fearful of what he might do as pain ripped through him. Throwing his head back he roared, feeling his whole system light up, before he collapsed forward onto his hands and knees, breathing hard.
"Derek, are you okay?" Scott asked, kneeling down a couple of feet in front of him.
Honestly Derek didn't know how to reply. He lifted his head slowly and looked at Scott, completely at a loss to explain.
"Oh," Scott said and then reached out and patted him on the shoulder, "welcome back."
Derek still didn't understand. For once he didn't even try and pretend he wasn't confused.
"Your eyes," Scott said, sounding kind of pleased, "they're red again."
"Never seen that before," one of the twins said.
Sooner or later Derek realised he was going to have to figure out how to tell the two apart.
He was so confused about everything that he wasn't exactly ready when Cora threw her arms around him and they both almost ended up flat on the floor.
"How?" he asked, looking at Peter, since Peter had been the one that told him the story in the first place.
"Don't look at me," Peter said, "I've never heard of this one."
"It didn't happen when we met before the eclipse," Derek said, looking back at Scott, "and you were an alpha by then."
He had absolutely no doubt this was definitely Scott's fault.
"But not your alpha," Scott replied, "and we hadn't all been joined together by the power of a nemeton."
Scott made some very valid points.
"Are you okay?" Scott asked and Derek nodded, readjusting his mental parameters yet again; make that four alphas in Scott's pack.
As he pulled himself together, the first thing Derek noted was that everyone was looking at him, the second was that Isaac was suddenly very close to Scott.
"Now isn't that a turn up for the books," Deucalion said and Derek was once again flooded by the desire to just kill the other alpha.
He was getting used to the sensation; it had been pretty constant since finding Erica's body, so he growled and then turned away.
"If you don't want to be gagged, shut the hell up," Peter said and made all their views clear pretty succinctly.
"Look," Scott said, standing back up, "I know everyone is tired. What happened out there, well, I'd call it mind blowing and until Deaton comes up with something we have no way of finding Stiles. We need to get some sleep and then start again in the morning."
"There are blankets in the closet for anyone who wants to stay, don't use all the hot water," Derek said.
As much as he wanted to hate Kali and the twins it was just easier to blame it all on Deucalion. The others were clearly looking to Scott as their alpha now and that made them pack, which was too confusing for Derek to deal with on no sleep. Even Peter was reacting as if Scott was his alpha and that was just bizarre.
The most affected was Isaac. There was something else going on there as well, because the way Isaac had started behaving as soon as Scott walked in was not just beta reactions. Those had been what Isaac had shown around so many alphas before Scott's return, now it was something else, but Derek was too tired to figure it out.
"I have to go home to look after my mom," Scott said and Isaac inched closer to him as if on a string.
Scott looked at Isaac and frowned, but then seemed to accept that.
"Isaac is coming with me, but we'll be back first thing," Scott said. "Don't go out unless you have to, because the FBI is on alert and my dad's an asshole."
Someone was going to have to go out for food sooner or later, but Derek just agreed along with the others. They would cross that hurdle in the morning.
Derek didn't know why he was back at the nemeton. It had been two days of fruitless looking for Stiles and listening to Deucalion rant. In the end even Scott had backed the need for a gag. Somehow the whole mad idea that two rival packs were suddenly one actually seemed to be working and Derek had even figured out how to tell the twins apart. However, nothing else much was going their way. They were by no means giving up, but it felt like they were walking around blindfolded.
Something had called him here, something he didn't understand and he stood, staring up at the huge tree. It moved gently without wind, shifting to its own rhythms and he could feel its power humming through the earth around it. The atmosphere in Beacon Hills had changed since the tree had been restored. It was powerful and it felt good.
"What do you want from me?" he asked.
A shiver ran through the tree's leaves creating a whispering sound, as if it was trying to talk to him. Of course he didn't understand, but he felt it as the power around him shifted. A crack appeared in the trunk of the tree, revealing a warm yellow glow coming from inside. Liquid seeped out of the hole as it grew wider and Derek could see a shape inside, but he couldn't tell what it was. The smell of fresh sap tickled his nose and there was something under it, something not treelike.
That vague scent called to him, even though he didn't know why, and he stepped forward as the tree opened further, giving a great groan. It sounded as if it was giving birth and the shape slowly tipped out of the hole, landing at his feet with a wet slap. It even looked like the tree had given birth, because the thing was covered in a semi-opaque sac, moving weakly like a new born. Following his instincts more than anything else, he knelt down, splitting the sac as carefully as he could with his claws and a much wetter liquid than the sap splashed all over the ground.
Coughing and laboured breathing came next and then a moan. The sound had him frantically pulling back the sac, because he recognised it. That moan he had heard before and it made his heart beat fast and his chest fill with hope. Pale skin, plastered down, messy hair and moles, that was what he took in at first. He barely let himself believe until he had a naked, shivering Stiles free from the slimy covering.
"Stiles," he said, pulling the teenager into his lap, "can you hear me?"
"Derek?" Stiles asked, voice slurred and confused.
Dazed, brown eyes blinked up at him before glowing a gentle green and closing again.
"Stay with me, Stiles," Derek said, fumbling for his phone.
"Tired," Stiles replied, leaning against him. "Hmm, you're warm."
"Derek, where are you?" Scott asked as soon as Derek turned on his phone and speed dialled. "You were supposed to be here half an hour ago."
When he had walked into the woods he had ditched another meeting about how to try and find Stiles.
"I've got him," he said.
"Stiles," he said; "the nemeton, it called me. Stiles was inside it."
"Is he okay? What did it do to him?"
Before replying Derek gave Stiles a quick once over.
"I can't smell any blood or see any injuries," he said. "It must have healed him. I think he just went to sleep on me."
Stiles was leaning against him heavily, breathing easily now and looking for all the world like he was taking a nap.
"Get to the road," Scott said, "we're coming to pick you up."
He and Scott had not agreed on several things over the last two days (there was a reason Deucalion was still alive and it wasn't him), but this was one thing he was not arguing about.
"Meet you at the trail turn off," he replied.
There was no trail directly to the nemeton, but one of the main ones did run reasonably close by and where it joined the road was the easiest land mark.
Putting his phone back in his pocket, Derek took off his jacket before wrapping it around Stiles. The sleepy complaint about being moved was a very good sign, but Stiles did not come back to full consciousness even as Derek hoisted him into his arms. The scent he had picked up was now clear as day and it was mostly all Stiles, but there was a hint of earth and oak about it too.
Cradling Stiles to his chest, he gained his bearings and then just ran.
The sheriff and Scott were already there when he burst out of the trees, having taken the most direct route that wouldn't endanger Stiles.
"Oh my god," the Sheriff said, taking Stiles from him immediately and cradling his son, "is he hurt?"
Derek decided not to mention the Sheriff seemed to have totally forgotten that he was still injured as well. Clearly paternal need overcame any lingering pain.
"I couldn't find any injuries," Derek replied even as he fought the urge to try and take Stiles right back, and wasn't that a confusing instinct, "and he seemed okay, just confused when he was awake."
"But there was blood everywhere in the root cellar," the sheriff said.
"And he was actually inside a living tree," Derek said. "The nemeton helped Julia survive, it must have done the same to Stiles."
"But she was still hurt, I know I found her."
"It was much stronger this time," was all Derek could come up with.
"We should get him to the hospital," Scott said, pulling off his own jacket to put over the parts of Stiles that Derek's did not cover.
"That might not be a good idea," he said before the others could run off.
"Why?" the Sheriff all but demanded.
"When he first looked at me his eyes glowed green," he revealed. "Now it might have been residual something from the tree, but do you really want to have to explain that, especially considering who's in town."
He looked significantly at Scott.
"Dr Deaton's," Scott said.
"I thought we were upset with him at the moment," the Sheriff replied.
The fact that Deaton and Morell had refused to do anything once they had helped them find the nemeton was a sore point with most of the pack. Deaton was helping them try and find Stiles, but some of the trust was gone.
"We are, but he's never let anyone down whose hurt," Scott replied. "He can at least look Stiles over and see if we need to take him to a real hospital."
The Sheriff didn't look entirely convinced, but eventually nodded.
"Shall I drive?" Derek offered since the Sheriff had his hands full.
Derek really hadn't expected to find himself sitting in the Stilinski's kitchen with Scott, an hour later as the Sheriff put Stiles in bed. Deaton's verdict had been very succinct: "He seems to be physically perfectly healthy. He is very tired and confused, but otherwise whole. I would suggest letting him sleep."
"How did you find him?" the Sheriff asked the question no one had really had time to ask as he reappeared through the door.
"The nemeton called me," he replied, because he didn't understand it.
"Like in a dream?" Scott asked.
Derek shook his head.
"I just knew I needed to go in that direction, I didn't even realise what I was doing until I got there," he admitted.
The Sheriff opened the fridge and came back with three beers, placing one in front of each of them.
"Do not tell your mom," he said to Scott.
Derek twisted off the cap of his bottle and took a long swig.
"Did you have to cut him out of the tree?" the Sheriff asked.
"No, it gave birth to him," sounded strange as soon as he said it, but he didn't have any other way of describing it.
"Come again?" Scott said.
"It opened, liquid came out, then Stiles in a thin sac, how else would you describe it?"
Scott made a face.
"What the hell happened to my son?" was what the Sheriff wanted to know.
Deaton had been less forthcoming about that, saying he would have to talk to some people. In Derek's opinion, this was something even the Emissary was not going to be able to explain.
"He was hurt, badly I think," Scott said, staring at the bottle of beer without having drunk any yet; "maybe this was the only way the nemeton could heal him. He sacrificed himself for us and it rewarded his sacrifice."
That was a bit too simplistic for Derek's taste. The supernatural didn't tend to be that straightforward, but he had no better ideas, so he kept his mouth shut.
"Maybe Stiles will know when he wakes up," Scott added and finally opened his beer.
If Derek was honest with himself, he was just glad they had Stiles back. If they never figured out what had actually happened he wouldn't care. He needed someone to call him stupid names and make fun of the fact he only had two expressions. Their pack seemed to be solidifying nicely, but it was missing a crucial member.
The current crisis was over; Stiles was returned to them. Now they could move on to the next one.