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Gods and Monsters

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"Aria, stop teasing your brother!" Stiles barked, looking into the rearview mirror.

"Gabe started it!" she replied.

"Nuh-uh!" Gabe chimed in.

Stiles hated making this drive. The closer he got to the spot, the more his heart clenched in his chest. He pulled his car into the spot next to the blue Toyota. He remembered when Derek first traded in his black Camaro for the more family-friendly vehicle. He had missed the sleek, sexy lines of the Camaro, but the news that they were going to be having a baby made it worth the change.

Derek was the first to get out of his car. This was greeted with cries of "Daddy!" from Stiles' back seat.

"Stay here for a second. I need to talk with him," Stiles said, looking in his rearview mirror.

"Are you going to argue?" Aria asked.

The question broke his heart. He had never wanted this to be his children's life. He never wanted his children to grow up in a broken home or see their parents arguing like that. He wanted them to live a safe, happy, and normal life—or as normal a life they could, given that both of them were Werewolves thanks to Derek's half of their genes. There were times when Stiles lamented the fact that neither of them inherited his ability to do magic, but then again, Stiles hadn't been born with that ability either.

Picking up the large envelope on the passenger seat, Stiles opened the door and got out of his car. He noticed instantly that Derek was still wearing his ring. He still carried his own in his wallet, but never dared to place it back on his finger. "Once you've signed these, you can drop them off at the lawyer's office and everything will be official," Stiles said as Derek hesitantly took the fat envelope from his hand.

"I don't want it to be official," Derek said softly. "I still want to try and work it out."

"There's nothing to work out, Derek. You fucked Braeden!" Stiles snapped.

"And you slept with my uncle…"

Stiles' nostrils flared angrily. "I was drunk and high and out-of-my-mind upset after finding you fucking Braeden… sober… in our bed! To be quite honest, I was so fucked up that I don't even know if or how I was able to get it up that night and I've said it before: you're the one that broke the trust in our marriage, not me. Just sign the damn papers so that this can be over."

Tears were brimming in Derek's eyes. He turned and wiped them on the sleeve of his shirt before nodding, "If that's what you truly want."

"It is," Stiles said quickly.

"Alright," he sighed. "I'll sign them and bring them to the lawyer."

"I'm going to be on tour for the next week. There's a conference scheduled with Aria's teacher on Tuesday at 4:30 and Gabe's checkup is on Thursday," Stiles began.

Derek cut him off. "I know, Stiles. But do you know how much they worry about you when you leave like this?"

Stiles' eyes flashed dangerously and the air crackled around him with his power. His voice became low and deadly. "I don't need a guilt trip from you, Derek. When we first had children, you agreed that I could keep my career. Why is it that suddenly after you decided that you couldn't keep your dick in your pants that my career is an issue?"

"For the millionth time I fucked up. I'm aware. There is nothing in this world that I regret more than violating your trust," Derek said. He looked beaten. "I want nothing more than to earn it back."

"If you want to start earning my trust and show me you're reliable, then sign the papers and give them to the lawyer."

Derek sighed and opened the passenger door of his car and tossed the envelope on the seat. He was tired of fighting and he was tired of being a disappointment to the man he loved with every fiber of his being. He swallowed hard and opened Stiles' car door to pull Gabe out of his car seat. He was greeted by cries of "Daddy!" from his children. He tried to mimic their excitement as he greeted them. Gabe hung tightly to his neck until Derek buckled him in and Aria showered him with kisses.

"Daddy guess what? I made something at school for you!" she said excitedly. "It's in my backpack!"

"I can't wait to see it!" Derek replied, kissing her on the forehead. "You'll have to show me when we get home!"

"Bye, Dad!" they called to Stiles, waving emphatically. "We love you!"

"I love you, too," Stiles replied as he leaned into the car to give them both goodbye kisses and hugs before Derek got into the driver's seat. Stiles closed the car door and watched as they drove off.

It tore his heart out every single time. He hated the weekends they stayed at Derek's and spent most of the times he didn't have shows scheduled drinking himself into a stupor or hanging out with Scott or his father to keep his mind off the fact he didn't have his children.

"Aunt Cora!" Aria called as Derek pulled into the driveway. The Wolf Moon was that week and it was the most important holiday for the Hale family. The moment that Derek let her out of the car she ran off, nearly tackling her aunt.

Cora smiled. "You're getting so big!"

"Look what I can do!" she said excitedly. She paused for a moment and concentrated, focusing every fiber of her being to her task. Suddenly her eyes glowed briefly bright yellow. The moment she lost concentration, the glow faded.

"Very good!" Cora exclaimed. "Pretty soon you'll be transforming!"

"I want to become a real wolf like Daddy can!" Aria said as Gabe joined them. Cora scooped him up in her arms to hug him.

"Keep practicing and who knows? Maybe you will. That talent runs in our family, you know!" Cora said setting Gabe back down. "Why don't you two go up to your rooms and unpack! I need to talk to our Alpha for a moment."

The kids nodded and scampered off leaving Derek and Cora alone. "You're giving off some pretty gnarly chemo signals. What happened?"

Derek pulled the envelope out of his jacket pocket. "Divorce papers."

"I'm so sorry," Cora replied softly. "And there's nothing you can do to change his mind?"

"I'm afraid not," Derek sighed. "It's really over and… I don't know how to handle it."

"You're Derek Hale," Cora said. "You'll endure. It's what you do."

"But I'm so sick of enduring," he said. "He's the love of my life. I can't believe I fucked this up after everything we went through to be together. I betrayed him. I honestly can't blame him for his anger… but I hate it because I know he still loves me. He's just trying to convince himself he doesn't."

"Then don't sign the papers. Demand marriage counseling or something," Cora said. "If it's obvious you still love each other, then don't give up. Be the Derek Hale he fell in love with…. Be the Derek Hale he married and had kids with. He married into Werewolf culture… we don't have a concept of divorce."

"I don't know, Cora… the human world does. And on top of that, I want him to be happy."

"And he will be, big bro… with you. You're a good guy. You made a huge mistake, but he owes it to you and to you children to try to make things work."

"I won't be that kind of ex. I just have to believe that he and I are soulmates and eventually he'll come back to me," Derek said softly before entering into the house. Aria and Gabe had already gotten into their chairs for dinner. Cora had taken the liberty to order pizza. Gabe was going through a phase where he refused to eat meat, so there was one veggie pizza that Derek shared with him, while Cora shared the pepperoni pizza with Aria.

"So," Derek asked, directing his question to his children. "What is the significance of our upcoming holiday?"

"The Wolf Moon means change. It's like our new year," Gabe replied.

"Very good!" Derek said. "Each of the major Alpha families are assigned one Moon to be their key moon. Ours is the Wolf Moon. It also represents the renewal of the Hale Family's dedication to protecting the innocent from those who would do them harm."

"But that used to be Papa's job," Aria pointed out. "That's why he learned magic… he wanted to be able to help protect the humans who didn't know about our world. So why isn't he here with us? He's part of our Pack."

"He's got some shows he's gotta perform. But he'll always be part of our Pack, you know that, right?" Derek asked.

"Why don't you live with us anymore?" Gabe asked.

Derek sighed. He didn't know how to answer this one. He didn't want to lie to them, but he didn't think they were old enough for the truth just yet. "If I lived with you guys, then I wouldn't be able to live in this house so you could come visit!"

The answer didn't quite excite them as much as Derek had hoped. Instead, it lead to more questions until Derek decided it was time for them to get washed up for bed. He hated this. This was worse than when he thought he was alone in the world because he knew he wasn't, but it sure as hell felt that way.

Derek looked down at his ring. The day Stiles placed it on his finger was one of the happiest days of his life—eclipsed only by the births of his children. He remembered having to actively hold back during their kiss to ensure he didn't accidentally hurt Stiles. The sex that night had been unreal. There was such passion between them and in one moment of stupidity and weakness, he dashed it all.

After being sure his children were asleep, he sat at the table with his pen hovering over the final line on which his signature was necessary to finalize the divorce. The terms outlined weren't particularly terrible except for the fact that he'd no longer be married to Stiles.

He took out his phone and dialed the number. Stiles answered after three rings. "What do you want, Derek?"

"I want to talk to you, Stiles… Please. Can you meet me somewhere so we can talk?"

"I don't have anything to say to you, Derek. Besides… who will watch the kids?"

"Cora can watch Aria and Gabe for a few minutes while we talk. If, by the end of the conversation, you still want the divorce, I'll sign the papers and be done with it," Derek said.

"It's a waste of time, Derek. I don't want to hear anything you have to say. But if it will get this done quicker, then fine. Where do you want to meet?" Stiles replied.

"Are you still in Beacon Hills?" Derek asked.


"Can we meet in the Preserve, at the cliff that overlooks the city?"


When Stiles parked the car and turned off the engine, he asked himself why he bothered to come. The answer was simple, though he hated it. He still loved Derek. He loved Derek more than almost anything in the world and that made his betrayal more painful.

He saw a large, black wolf sitting calmly at the edge of the cliff. Stiles knew it was Derek. He heaved a sigh and climbed out of the car. Immediately, Derek shifted and was sitting, naked, in the same spot. In his human form, his skin glistened with sweat from the hot evening air beneath the light of the nearly-full moon. "Thank you for coming out here," he said, turning to look at Stiles. He indicated a spot beside him. "Have a seat… please."

Stiles' breath was uneasy. "Is this some sort of trap?"

"I really just want to talk to you," Derek said. "I would like for us to say the things we haven't said before and get everything out. And I'll be 100% honest with you. Anything you want to know, I'll tell you."

Nodding his head, Stiles told Derek to put out his hands. Summoning the magic from within himself, a blue flame appeared in his palm. Stiles carefully transferred it to Derek's hands. "This is a spell called 'The Flame of Truth.' It burns blue and cold so long as you're being honest. The flame turns red when you lie and begins to burn hot… burning the person holding it."

Derek looked down at the flame. It was beautiful. Blue was his favorite color.

Stiles decided to go first. "You broke my heart, Derek. You were the love of my life. There are only two people on this earth I love more than you… and both of them are half-created by you. You were supposed to be the one person I could trust never to hurt me and you ripped out my heart."

There was a moment of silence that seemed to stretch on forever. "I can't defend my actions because they're indefensible. You're my world, Stiles. I made a vow and I broke it and I would give almost anything to go back and undo that night."

Stiles watched the blue flame closely. It flickered for a moment as a cool breeze passed through, casting light on Derek's painfully beautiful features. Every muscle seemed to be more defined when outlined by the soft blue light from the magical flame in Derek's hand. It was as if the gods had intended to create a testament to perfection when crafting him.

"It's very difficult for an ordinary human to obtain magic, you know," Stiles said softly. "Those not born with it can only obtain it one way: making a deal with a trickster god. I think it's time you finally learn the price I paid for the magic we used to have our kids." Derek looked over at Stiles with a look of concern. "The trickster god I went through was Loki himself. It's the reason my magic is so powerful."

"Stiles what did you trade for that power?"

"When I die, my soul is forfeit."

Derek gasped, staring slack-jawed at Stiles. "Why would you pay that price?"

"Because I wanted us to be able to have children the normal way… but I knew what danger our children may be in from other Alphas. I needed to be able to protect them and I couldn't do that as a normal human," Stiles said. "I sacrificed my soul so that we could have a family. I gave up everything for you, Derek… and… why would you do it with her? And in our bed?" A surge of sudden anger forced Stiles to his feet. "You know, I never felt in our relationship that I actually deserved you. When I finally got you, I thought I had hit some sort of lottery and half the time, I expected to wake up and have it all be a dream. Do you know how jarring it is to go years thinking you don't deserve your spouse and in the course of a few moments realize that your spouse doesn't deserve you?"

"It was just the one time, Stiles. I swear," Derek said. "I really don't know why. I love you so much, Stiles. You can't possibly hate me more than I hate myself for what I did to our marriage." Stiles' eyes flicked between Derek and the flame in his hands. Its color remained steady. "I want to work this out. I want to do the work it takes to regain your trust and be the husband you deserve. But most importantly, I want you to be happy. The divorce papers are currently sitting on my kitchen counter, signed. I'll give them to you and let you do with them what you want."

"So I get to be the bad guy," Stiles sneered.

"I never said that," Derek countered. "I want you to be happy. If happiness means that you submit the papers to the court, then do it. But I'm begging you for the chance to do right by you and fix what we have."

"How do we fix this?" Stiles demanded. He could feel the lump rising in his throat, choking off his words. "How do I heal so I can trust you again? How do I change so that you're never tempted to fuck someone else?"

Derek rose to his feet. He shifted the flame into the palm of his left hand and put his right one on Stiles' shoulder. Because he transformed from his wolf form, he was completely naked, but unashamed. He had no reason to be ashamed of how he looked naked… and it's not like Stiles hadn't seen every inch of Derek before. "We go to marriage counseling. It's going to be hard work. I know that I completely destroyed your faith in me and that it's going to be difficult to earn that back. But I promise I will do everything I can to prove to you that I'm serious and that I want to spend the rest of my life with you, at your side, as your husband."

Stiles raised his hand and summoned a flow of his magic to extinguish the flame Derek was holding. It immersed them immediately in darkness. Only the moon was there to provide light. Stiles knew Derek could still see perfectly, even if his own eyes needed a few minutes to adjust. There were several minutes of silence that passed between them. Stiles found his hands slowly moving to Derek's chest and buried his face in Derek's strong shoulder. "I'm giving you one last chance, Derek," he said finally. "If you fuck this up, I'm continuing the proceedings."

Derek nodded. "Understood. Just please promise that you won't look for a reason to leave…"

"I have a million reasons to leave, Derek. What I'm looking for is a reason to stay."

Derek squeezed Stiles tightly. He couldn't believe how much he loved the man in his arms. He couldn't believe how closely he'd come to never holding Stiles like this again. He felt Stiles start to pull away and reluctantly loosened his grip.

"What are we going to tell the kids?" Derek asked.

"I think we can figure that out later," said Stiles. His eyes were finally adjusting to the darkness.

"You smell like fear," Derek pointed out. "What are you afraid of?"

"I'm afraid I'm going to get my heart broken again," Stiles replied.

Derek pulled Stiles close again. "I will never do anything to risk losing you again, Stiles. I swear on my power as an Alpha."

The alarm seemed to come too early for Stiles, but it felt good to wake up in his husband's arms. It had been so lonely sleeping alone since they separated. Stiles reached over and sent a flow of magic from his hand. In his sleep-filled stupor, he didn't just turn off the alarm, he destroyed it.

Derek chuckled in a way that shook his whole body. "Good morning," he said.

"I'll replace that alarm clock, I swear," Stiles grunted.

Derek yawned. "It's fine. Aria heard the alarm. She's on her way in here."

Stiles groaned. "I don't remember if I still have underwear on."

Derek chuckled again. "You don't… you've got about 10 seconds to fix that."

Stiles reached down and grabbed the underwear that had been thrown off and quickly pulled them on. He had gotten far too little sleep that night. The lovemaking had been inspired. It was like when they first got together. It was passionate and intense… but for Stiles, it was also heartbreaking. He found himself wrought with feelings of inadequacy and wondering if Derek had used the same tender caress on Braeden when she was in their bed. It made him realize that he was going to have a much harder time finding it within himself to forgive Derek for what he'd done.

He had little time to relive those insecurities because Aria burst into the room. "Dad! I thought I smelled you! What are you doing here?"

"I wanted to have breakfast with my two favorite children!" Stiles replied as she jumped onto the bed and into his arms.

"Does this mean that we're a family again?" she asked.

"Sweetheart, we've always been a family," Derek chimed in. "And we always will be. Don't forget that. We're Pack."

"You're the Alpha," Aria said. "Gabe, Aunt Cora, and I are the Betas… and Dad is the emiss-issary."

"Emissary," Stiles corrected, placing a loving hand on his daughter's head. "But yes. We're a Pack. Daddy protects the people of our town and I, in turn, protect all of you."

"With your magic?"


"I wish I could do magic," Aria said. "It's so cool."

"You're a Werewolf… that's even better!" Stiles said.

Derek paused. "Gabe is incoming…"

Sure enough, within moments their son appeared in the doorway and catapulted himself into the bed. Stiles used his magic to soften the impact. Aria moved to snuggle against Derek while Gabe wedged himself between Aria and Stiles. "Aria, stop breathing on me…"

"You stop breathing on me, butt breath!" Aria ripped.

"Hey!" Derek scolded. "Apologize!"

"It's true," Aria grumbled. "His breath smells like butt!"

"And yours isn't exactly a bouquet of roses, right now. Apologize to your brother. And then both of you go brush your teeth and get dressed."

"Are we going somewhere?"

"We're going to bring your father to his gig."

"Can we watch?"

"You certainly can," Stiles replied. "When you turn 18. Now do what you were told! I want your teeth brushed and clothes on!"

When they were alone once more, Derek leaned over to kiss Stiles, who leaned away. "I'm not ready for that right now."

Clearly wounded, Derek retreated. "Is this about last night? There were some chemo signals I picked up on."

"Did you touch and kiss her like that?" Stiles asked.

"No," Derek replied softly. "It wasn't like that with her. There was no love… no passion… it was just mechanical."

Stiles felt a bitterness rising within him, like bile. "Then why? If it was just sex… why? I never once refused sex. What were you looking for from her that you weren't getting from me?"

"I don't know, Stiles," Derek replied.

"Don't lie," Stiles snapped. "If you don't want me to turn in the divorce papers, I need honesty. And I need to know what I wasn't giving you."

Derek sighed. "You had been on tour for the longest you'd ever been gone in our entire relationship. I guess I was just lonely. For a moment, I wanted to feel the companionship I felt with you. I couldn't ask you to cut off your tour… it wouldn't have been fair…"

"But letting me walk in on you screwing her was?" Stiles asked, trying to understand the logic. He couldn't understand it, though, because none existed.

"No… it wasn't. And I'm so sorry, Stiles," Derek said simply. "I'm sorry that it happened… I'm sorry that I betrayed your trust… But it won't happen again. Last night, when you said you'd give me another chance, it was one of the fourth best thing I've heard from you…"

Cocking his head quizzically, Stiles asked, "And what were the first three?"

Derek held up a finger as he listed the items, adding one finger each time. "One, when you said 'I do.' Two, when you said we'd be having Aria. Three, when you said we'd be having Gabe."

Stiles smiled. He wanted to be able to forgive Derek… but he still held way too much resentment. One night together wouldn't heal the wound caused by his infidelity. This was going to be a long, hard road that not even his formidable magic would be able to help.

Chapter Text

Derek hated having to leave Stiles. It was, however, necessary since Stiles was going to be visiting seven cities in seven days and performing eight different shows. It was the occupational hazard of being married to a successful comedian and actor. There were a few moments of tears from Gabe as he complained about having to leave his father. Derek held his son tightly and soothed him with a gentle rocking motion and a song that his mother, Talia, sang to him when he was upset as a child.

Gabe eventually tired himself out and slept the entire way home, waking only when they pulled into the driveway. He woke a tad cranky, but Derek paid it no mind. Once dinner was served and the festivities began, he'd be fine.

Cora greeted him at the door, smiling brightly at her niece and nephew. She had spent nearly the entire day in the kitchen preparing the feast. Derek could smell the wonderful aromas as he hugged his little sister. There was a pang of guilt that gnawed at the pit of his stomach, in addition to his hunger. He was supposed to help her cook today, but instead left her alone while he drove halfway down the state with his children and husband. Then again, Derek always felt guilt these days. It was an awful, sickening feeling that kept him up at night. He couldn't shake the feeling that he was constantly disappointing everyone he loved. "Thank you so much," he sighed as he let her go. "For everything."

"Don't mention it," she replied. "Everything is ready, though. Want me to make sure the kids are washed up?"

"Yeah," he replied. "I just need a moment."

"Sure thing!" She disappeared into the house, leaving Derek alone on the porch.

He leaned against the railing and took a moment to simply breathe. Closing his eyes, he repeated the mantra that helped him maintain control when he was young and inexperienced at shifting around the full moon. He could feel its pull on him now. "Alpha, beta, omega…" he whispered over and over. Inhaling the cool, woody air made at least some of the knots in his stomach release. Opening his eyes caused that momentary relaxation to be done.

Peter Hale stood in the lawn, staring up at his nephew. The typically arrogant air that surrounded him seemed somehow deflated. He seemed almost meek and scared… which served only to unnerve Derek.

"Why are you here?" Derek growled. The anger rising within him caused his claws and fangs to extend and his eyes to burn bright red.

"I wasn't sure if I should come…" Peter replied hesitantly. "But I'm a Hale. I deserve to celebrate this night with my family."

"And I deserve an uncle who doesn't fuck my husband when he's drunk," Derek snapped. "I guess we'll both do without."

"There's more to what happened that night, Derek," Peter said softly. "There are things that you don't know."

"Then tell me, Peter. What excuse do you have?" Derek demanded. "What mitigating circumstances could possibly excuse your actions?"

"I wish I could tell you," Peter said in a trembling voice. "But I can't."

"Why not?"

"Because I don't remember," Peter said. "I was hoping you could find out… using your claws."

"Fuck off, Peter," Derek snarled before turning around to head inside. "I'm not falling for your manipulative bullshit today."

As Derek reached for the door handle, he heard Peter say, "I knotted him, Derek. He took it like a pro…"

There was a rush of anger that came spilling through him like a crimson tidal wave. Before he knew it, he was in full-wolf form and Peter was flat on his back on the ground. Derek's fangs were bared, inches away from his uncle's throat.

To his credit, Peter didn't flinch. "I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry. I just hoped I could goad you into helping me piece together what I don't know."

Derek backed off and shifted back to human form. His clothes had been shredded in his transformation, but nudity wasn't a taboo for Werewolves. Peter made his way to his feet. "I'm not going to be manipulated by you anymore. I told you no. If you still want to find out, try Scott or Deucalion or one of the hundreds of other Alphas."

"Don't you think the timing of it is just a little suspect?" Peter demanded. "Are you really able to remember everything about that evening?"

"That was one of the worst nights of my life, Peter. I've tried to forget it. That night nearly destroyed my marriage… my family."

"But think. I know you have a better memory than that, Derek. Think about that night. Tell me nothing about it seems hazy or strange," Peter implored. "The fact that you slept with someone other than Stiles. For fuck's sake, he's everything to you."

"I fucking know that!"

"Then think… for a moment… about how out of strange it is for you to have cheated on him and put him through so much pain. Then put some effort into trying to figure out if anything else about that night seemed strange to you. The night that all Werewolves are completely powerless and vulnerable… the first such time in nearly three years…" Peter said.

Derek did try to think about that night. The more he did, the more he realized that he didn't actually have a memory for the events leading up to him having sex with Braeden. It was as if his memory tried to slide over that time period and focusing on it seemed nearly impossible. Trying to focus on it caused him to develop a headache. This, of course, only backed up the idea that perhaps Peter was telling the truth. This was unfortunate, though. It gave him no solace to know that he might not have been responsible for nearly tearing apart his marriage and destroying his family. If he went to Stiles with this, it would be the end of everything. Stiles would leave him without a second thought because it would seem to his husband as though he was shirking any responsibility for his actions.

Sighing deeply, Derek said, "Here's how this is going to go: You and I are going to go inside and celebrate the Wolf Moon with our family. We're going to pretend this conversation never happened and I don't want a word of this getting to anyone. Especially not Stiles. You and I will look into this together. We bring this to the others only after we have conclusive proof that someone or something forced us to act against our will."

Peter nodded his comprehension. "That sounds fair."

Derek shifted back to wolf form and padded to the door. Peter picked up the shredded bits of his nephew's clothes and opened the door for him to enter. Derek sprinted upstairs and got dressed before returning to the dining room to find that the table had been set.

"Uncle Peter! I can make my eyes turn yellow! Wanna see?" Aria asked him.

"Of course!" Peter replied.

As Derek watched the scene, he thought about how shocked he always was at how good Peter was with his children. Certainly he'd never trust his uncle to babysit… he had far too many memories of his uncle helping him to break every rule his mother came up with. There was also the fact that he didn't trust his uncle whatsoever. He certainly wouldn't trust Peter with his children.

Stiles collapsed on the hotel bed, thoroughly exhausted. He was coming down from the adrenaline rush that accompanied performing his comedy routine.

He pulled his phone out of his pocket and dialed Derek through Facetime. "Hey!" Derek replied brightly as his face popped up on Stiles' screen. "How was your show?"

"It was good," Stiles said, stifling a yawn. "But I miss the kids."

"Just the kids?" Derek asked.

Stiles smiled for a moment. "I missed you, too. How was the Wolf Moon celebration?"

"It was lovely! Cora made an amazing dinner… the kids enjoyed… and Peter showed up," Derek said.

Instantly any smile on his face was replaced with a scowl. "What was Peter doing there?"

"He showed up and when I tried to kick him out, he made a good argument about how he is a Hale and deserves to celebrate our holiday," Derek replied.

"You fell for that? Seriously, Derek?" Stiles demanded. "How many times does he have to worm his way into your life and destroy it before you realize he's toxic and only brings bullshit."

"Relax, Stiles," Derek assured him. "It was just for tonight. And just so that he could celebrate our holiday."

"Are the kids still up?" Stiles asked.

"No, they're in bed. I can have them call you when they wake up tomorrow, if you'd like," Derek offered.

"No, it's fine. I'm probably going to sleep in. I'm exhausted."

"I love you," Derek said.

"Goodnight," replied Stiles. He hung up the call. He was still unwilling to say those words, no matter how strongly he felt them. For a moment he saw the hurt look on Derek's face and felt a twinge of guilt, but it was too late to do anything about it. He turned off the light and rolled over onto his side, closing his eyes in anticipation of a restless night's sleep.

As dawn was breaking, Derek woke up. Heading down to the kitchen, he could hear the coffee maker already going. A quick sniff told him Peter was already awake, as was Cora.

"Family breakfast," Derek said.

"Mhmm," Cora replied sharply, eliciting a smirk from Peter.

"Your sister doesn't trust me," he said as he poured a cup of coffee and brought it, black and steaming, to his lips.

"You killed our sister and have done nothing but manipulate me and the people I love since you came out of your coma," Cora said. "As far as I'm concerned, you were better off unconscious."

Peter looked genuinely hurt at this statement. "I know I am not the best uncle… maybe I'm even the worst… but you don't know what it was like to burn in that fire."

"I lost my mother and my Pack."

"And I lost my sister!" Peter snarled.

"And you wanted her position as the Alpha. That's the reason why I lost my sister, isn't it?" Cora shot back. "I kept my tongue last night because Aria and Gabe were here, but you have no right to walk back in here and demand anything of us… especially not Derek and especially not after you fucked Stiles."

"Enough!" Derek barked, flashing his Alpha-red eyes. "If you wake the kids, I'm going to be pissed. I'm not saying you have to get along… I'm just saying you can't have a shouting match in my kitchen."

"I can't believe you're taking his side, Derek!" Cora complained.

"I'm not taking anyone's side. I just don't want to deal with a full-blown argument first thing in the morning. Hash out whatever you need to after I've fully woken up," Derek said, pouring himself a cup of coffee.

"So when are we going to take care of the matter we discussed yesterday?" Peter asked after a few long minutes of silence passed among them.

"Later," was all Derek replied.

Later came about two hours after. Derek changed into a running outfit and set off into the woods, giving Peter a subtle cue to follow. They didn't stop until they were near the Nemeton. "Since your claws are going to be jammed into the back of my neck, I'd like, at the very least, a gentleman's promise that you won't murder me when you see my memories of fucking your husband."

"I don't make promises I'm not sure I can keep," Derek replied, extending his claws. He brought them up to the base of his uncle's neck and then pressed them into the flesh. Blood trickled and almost immediately, Peter's body tried to heal from the wound, but the fact that the claws remained, and that it was an Alpha inflicting them, made it impossible.

Almost immediately Derek's mind was flooded with information from Peter's. It was difficult sifting through it all to get to the night they needed. "Focus," Derek scolded.

"It's not like this is particularly comfortable," Peter growled back, but did, indeed, try to focus.

The blurred flashes came like the images of a subway tunnel at high speed, finally slowing down as Stiles came into view. He was stumbling toward the door of the bar, barely able to stand. "I can't let you leave, dude," the bartender said. "Let me call you a cab or something."

"It's fine," Peter's voice rang out. "I'm a relative of his. I've got him."

The movements were robotic and it was clear to Derek that Peter didn't have control over his actions. Through Peter's eyes, he watched as Stiles was guided into a cab and driven to the apartment Peter rented. The entire time, Stiles cursed his husband's name. "Fucking piece of shit… didn't even stop thrusting when I opened the door."

Have sex with him, an all-consuming voice filled his head. Peter resisted it, causing the voice to become more insistent. Do it, or I'll make you kill him, instead.

"Perhaps he needs to learn the lesson of how it feels to be betrayed like that," Peter said, leaning back in the chair and unfastening his pants. He pulled out his cock and guided Stiles' lips down to it.

Stiles resisted at first. "I don't know…"

An agonizing voice filled Peter's mind. Not doing this will result in your end, it said, accompanying its terrible message with a shot of pain that set every nerve on fire. Adrenaline and desperation filled the werewolf. "I can cover you in my scent so he has no choice but to face the fact that it happened."

Stiles looked up with a fiery vengefulness before letting his tongue trace the tip of the engorged cock. He let Stiles service him orally for a while before telling him to strip and move to the bed. He provided the Emissary with a powdery substance that had been given to him by the stranger. Stiles sniffed the powder and shuddered. It went to work fast, numbing him to the pain he felt at his husband's betrayal and exacerbating the exquisite combination of pain and pleasure brought on by the rough, animalistic fuck Peter was giving him.

Knot him, the voice commanded. Peter resisted it. Knotting the mate of an Alpha was tantamount to an act of war. Not to mention the fact that he didn't exactly want to be doing this to begin with. Another burst of agonizing pain was all it took to convince him to continue to follow the orders he was receiving. He allowed his instinct to take over. The knot built up, and then Peter forced it into the emissary. Sparks of magic flew from Stiles' fingertips as it became lodged within his body.

Peter collapsed on top of Stiles as his knot and seed filled him. Their breath seemed to be in tandem. Maybe you'll give him yet another Hale child to whelp, the voice teased. That was one outcome Peter did not want. When his knot faded finally, he went to pull out, but the searing pain in his body stopped him. Fuck him again.

"Do you want to go again?" Peter asked Stiles. He would fight this agony with everything he had—even if it killed him—before he raped the Hale Emissary. He was already skirting a foggy enough line with the chemicals coursing through his blood.

"I don't wanna be able to walk," Stiles said by way of granting permission.

He continued again and again until he was so exhausted he could barely move. He asked the voice why it was doing this. I don't need to tell you. You won't remember the details anyways… you'll only wake up with the scent of your Alpha's mate all over you. Stiles grunted over and over as Peter continued to thrust, knot, and deposit his seed deep within. Peter was terrified and tired. He found himself actually praying that there were extra rituals involved in the creation of Derek's children and that he wasn't becoming a father again in the process.

Then the voice said something far more chilling than anything it had before. Maybe next time, I'll have you do this to your nephew… Peter woke up alone in the bed with nothing on his body but the smell of Stiles. It clung to him along with the guilt that accompanied knowing why. He tried to remember the night before and it slipped away from him like water in a fast-flowing stream. A soul-crushing guilt accompanied it and he did something he hadn't done for as long as he could remember. He turned on his side and began to cry.

Derek retracted his claws from Peter's neck and stepped back. Shocked by the separation of their minds, Peter fell to his knees. Forced to relive the experience, new tears filled his eyes. "Derek I'm so sorry…"

"You and I both saw the same thing," Derek said. "It wasn't your fault. You were being tortured into it. But we need to figure out who or what was behind that voice."


Derek shrugged. "I honestly have no idea."

"But what about you… maybe we could see if it was the same voice or force that led you to cheat on Stiles," Peter said, extending his claws, ready to help.

Derek took a step back. "Put those away. I'm not letting you anywhere near my memories just yet. Not until you've proven yourself to be more trustworthy."

Defeated, Peter retracted his claws, wearing a disappointed face. "I wasn't going to do anything other than help you retrieve those memories…"

"I don't want to relive them right now," Derek said, turning around and slowly walking into the woods. "Let's do some research into what kinds of creatures can do what happened to you and we'll go from there."

Peter rose to his feet and followed after Derek. "And you think I wanted to relive that?" he demanded. "I may be a lot of things… but a home-wrecking rapist is not one of them." He motioned to his well-built body. "I can get all the single, willing men and women I want with no problem."

"Wow," Derek replied. "I didn't think you could do it… but you proved me wrong…"


"Turn this into something to do with your vanity. Let's not lose sight of the real issue at hand, Peter. Someone or something is taking control over powerful Werewolves and forcing them to do things they don't want to do. We don't know if it's just werewolves. For all we know both Braeden and Stiles could have been affected. All we know is that free will is being taken away, at least temporarily and we're powerless to stop it because we don't even remember it when it's over," Derek said.

"All the more reason to search your memories and those of both Braeden and Stiles. I don't know about you, but I really want answers," Peter said. "And I want to rip apart the person responsible."

The week dragged on with Derek and Peter combing through the Hale library on various supernatural creatures. Cora left for New York a couple days after the Wolf Moon and Derek realized quickly how much he missed her help.

He admitted Peter back into the pack, but made it clear that he couldn't move into the house. Given Peter's power and skill in all things Werewolf, it led to a great increase in the overall power of the Pack… one that even the kids were able to feel.

"What about Kitsunes?" Peter asked. "The older, most powerful ones are capable of making intense illusions… we could draw on Stiles' experience being possessed by the Nogitsune."

Derek shook his head. "Kitsunes and Werewolves are traditionally enemies. I don't think we were possessed by a Nogitsune."

"Encantados?" Peter suggested. "We've had to deal with Kanimas and Were-jaguars so why not another supernatural creature native to South America…"

"Even if so, it would only explain Braden. Encantados prefer to do the seduction themselves, they take the form of a female and then… well… you know. That wouldn't explain what went on between you and Stiles," Derek replied.

"Succubi or Incubi?"

"No… again, they do their own seducing. They don't farm it out to others."

Peter tossed the book aside. "I give up. There's nothing in these books that comes close to figuring out who or what did this."

Derek froze. "Stiles just arrived."

"Should I leave?"

"No. I don't want it to seem like we're hiding something."

"But we are hiding something, Derek," Peter replied.

"I know that," Derek hissed. "Which is why I don't want it to seem that way!"

They headed out into the kitchen. Derek greeted Stiles with a hug. He wanted a kiss, but knew that if Stiles had wanted one too, he'd have made the move toward it. "Why are you here?" Stiles asked Peter.

"What? Just because I'm no longer the Hale Alpha, I don't get to meet with the Hale Emissary?" Peter asked, feigning hurt.

"You and I both know that most packs don't even know they have an Emissary and that the relationship between Alpha and Emissary is typically private. Now unless you have something that is so important to the needs of the Pack that you can't discuss it with your Alpha, then perhaps you don't need to be part of the Pack at all," Stiles said dismissively.

Peter smiled. "Who knew you had claws more deadly than any Werewolf."

Stiles let some magic spark at the ends of his fingers. "You don't even know the half of it. Now get out."

"Is this about the night we shared?" Peter asked as he slowly moved to the door.

A flash of fury ran across the Emissary's face, followed by a bolt of blue light. In a matter of seconds, Peter was flat on his back outside in the dirt, stunned. "Bring it up again and I'll force-feed you a mountain ash and wolfsbane tea," Stiles said from the doorway. He then slammed the door and went back to the kitchen. "I don't want him around Gabe and Aria."

"They're Packmates, Stiles…" Derek said. "I'm sorry. But they're connected by blood and pack. It's more complicated than that."

"It isn't up for negotiation!" Stiles said flatly. "I'm not subjecting my children to him."

Derek fought back the vile words that formed in his throat. They would have been the nail in his coffin had he said them. "You subjected yourself to him." It was unfair and inaccurate. It was a cheap blow during an angered moment. Instead, he said, "Alright. But he wants me to help him research something."


"There's been some supernatural activity that we can't seem to pin down to any one particular species that we know of. We're trying to ensure the people of the town are safe," Derek explained.

"It seems like a flimsy excuse for him to get back in your life."

"If it turns out to be nothing, then I'll drop it. If it turns out that it's something, then I'd rather have him on our side than against us," Derek replied.


The therapist crossed her legs as she looked down at her pad. "Derek, how do you think Stiles feels about you… since the affair?"

Derek took a moment to think of his answer. "I know he loves me, but I know there's a lot of pain. I lost his trust and I want to earn it back… but there are times when I think he absolutely hates me—and it's not like I blame him."

"Does what Derek says hold weight, Stiles?"

"Yes and no," Stiles replied. "Because even after it happened, I tried to hate him. I tried with every fiber of my being to despise him and I couldn't. I love him. He's the father of my children. He's the man I've always wanted. But now whenever he touches me or kisses me… I think about him doing the same thing to her."

"The thing about affairs," the therapist began, "is that it's not a strict progression of cause and effect. There are a multitude of factors and no one person is wholly responsible. In this case, both of you slept with someone other than your spouse, though for drastically different reasons. The good news is that we have a firm foundation of love here. It's obvious that you two love one another and that's important. It's something you should hold onto tightly. It's going to be the way to rebuild the trust in the relationship.

"Honesty and hard work are going to be key to the success of both the therapy and the relationship," she continued. "I won't sugar-coat it and say that it's going to be easy… but I think that if you're willing to be honest with one another and put in the effort, you might find that your marriage ends up even stronger than it was before the affair."

"It doesn't seem possible right now," Stiles admitted.

"And that's a normal reaction," the therapist replied. "My job is to provide you a safe place to discuss the factors of your marriage that need work and help you set a series of small, achievable goals to meet along the way, that eventually add up to the overall goal: a stronger, happier, trust-based union. Think of it much like rebuilding a house that's been destroyed by a storm. Putting the roof back on is a moot point if the walls aren't secure enough to support it."

Stiles appreciated the analogy, but the task seemed daunting. Never the patient one, he wanted there to be a quick fix, but there simply wasn't one. He could use magic to rebuild a demolished house in a matter of moments. It seemed a little odd that they would be doing trust-based therapy while concealing a key factor of their relationship… which was that he was an Alpha Werewolf and Stiles was a Druid Emissary who had obtained arcane powers by implementation of a Faustian bargain.

"How do we rebuild that trust?" Derek asked.

"Start by being men of your word. If you say you're going to do something, follow through. And no more secrets. Keeping things from one another can be one of the most damaging things you can do right now. It might help to share your location on your phones… but not everyone resorts to such drastic steps," she answered. "It might seem like small stuff right now, but it can help go a long way toward where you ultimately want to go." She scribbled something down on the pad before saying. "Our time is up today, but next week I'd like to speak to each of you separately just to get a better insight into your individual hesitations."

"Doesn't it make more sense to go through this together?" Stiles asked.

"Yes… but it can cause the opposite partner to feel defensive. We don't want that. Healing separately will let you heal together when you're ready."

Derek stood up and shook the therapist's hand, thanking her for her time. Stiles did the same and they exited together to the receptionist. Once back in the car, they both took a moment. "Do you think this is going to work?" Stiles asked. "Are we wasting our time?"

"No!" Derek replied quickly. "We went through so much to become a couple to begin with. We now have a family, too. Isn't it worth fighting for?"

"That's the thing, Der," Stiles replied. "Aren't you tired of fighting for things?"

"Not when it comes to this, Stiles," Derek replied. "I won't stop fighting for you."

Chapter Text

Stiles gripped the headboard as Derek's head bounced up and down on his length. His body tremored in pleasure. He'd come home to find that Derek had asked Scott to watch the kids. A trail of candles and flowers that lead to the bedroom. "It's a night about you," Derek had announced.

He had never received a blowjob like that. He felt his pleasure mounting and Derek could tell he was close to orgasm. He stopped, trailing kisses back up Stiles' body to his neck and jawline. "Do you want to come?" he asked in a breathy voice.

Stiles nodded and Derek reached down, letting his fingers dance along his husband's thickness and gripped it tightly, pumping it as Stiles moaned and writhed. He screamed out as his orgasm hit him like a truck. Derek worked to catch some of it in his mouth and swallowed it, which drove Stiles absolutely wild. They kissed with desperate longing. Their bodies glistened in the candle light as Stiles held Derek's head.

Derek was a romantic. It was one of the things Stiles had loved about him, because Derek was never so radiant as when he was doing something to show how much he loved his husband. These sorts of nights happened frequently before Gabe and Aria came along. For a few minutes, Stiles could forget the fact that the infidelity happened. He could forget the fact that they were in marriage counseling. He could forget the fact that they had reached a point in their relationship where divorce was the easiest option available to them. He held his husband in his arms, feeling the heat of their bodies as they did something that was so natural… so easy.

Using his considerable strength, Derek moved them so that he was on his back and Stiles was on top of him. "It feels like you're ready to go again," Derek teased as he felt Stiles' cock twitch. Derek adjusted their positions and slowly guided Stiles into him. He didn't always like bottoming because his werewolf healing made every time feel like his first time. He'd tried it a few times in New York when he lived there with Laura, but decided it wasn't for him. Stiles changed that.

Throughout their relationship, sex with Stiles was the exception to every rule. He did not have a healthy relationship with sex before Stiles. Kate took advantage of him and then murdered his family. He tried to fill that emptiness with casual encounters with men—usually Alphas—in New York and since coming back to California, his luck hadn't been much better. Jennifer took advantage of him and Braeden… she was a relationship of convenience so that she could get closer to Malia and by extension, the Desert Wolf. Stiles was really his first sexual relationship built on genuine love and trust. It was the first time that sex was free of guilt and stigma. They seemed to know each other's body almost instinctually. Bottoming for Stiles wasn't painful or degrading like it was for the men in New York. It was pleasurable and fun.

Stiles was slowly thrusting in and out, forcing Derek's body to rock in tandem. He had a skill for always hitting the right spot and sending shockwaves through him. He had to fight not to let his claws extend as he scratched down Stiles' back, urging him to go faster and harder. Derek had a desperate need to feel his husband deep within him and Stiles seemed to want to satisfy that need with the same frantic longing. Since obtaining magic, Stiles' stamina had also improved monumentally. They went on for hours, both of them coming multiple times. When they were finally done, they were lying on the bed with the stink of sex so pungent it made Stiles proud.

"We might have to burn the sheets," Stiles joked after a while of just enjoying his husband's company.

Derek laughed an all-consuming laugh that shook his entire body. Seeing Derek laugh like that made Stiles laugh too, until they were both sore from laughing. To stop, they finally had to go into separate rooms to calm down. Derek wandered into the master bathroom and turned on the shower. Stiles went into the kitchen to grab a bottle of water. When he returned, Derek was lathering up and still quietly chuckling. Stiles climbed into the shower with him. They kissed a little more before finishing washing up.

After stripping and changing the sheets, they climbed back in bed together. Stiles' stomach growled loudly. "I had a dinner planned, but we had so much sex that pretty much all the nice restaurants are closed," Derek replied.

"There's always In-N-Out…"

They sat across from one another trying to pitch fries into one another's mouths. As expected, Stiles' prowess at this was no better than it had been when they were younger and merely dating. Derek, conversely, caught each one with a devilish glint in his eyes. He was using his powers as a Werewolf to assist.

"Cheater!" Stiles accused when he caught the 20th in a row.

Derek froze, missing the next one. It bounced from the scruffy cheek onto the floor. "What?" he asked. He had a pained expression, as if Stiles had just stabbed him. He set his jaw and leaned back in the chair.

"You're using your Werewolf reflexes!" Stiles elaborated. "Unfair advantage, I'd say!"

"Oh…" Derek said, looking down at his tray. He brought the juicy burger to his mouth, but set it back down, no longer having much of an appetite. Instead, he used a French fry to doodle in the puddle of ketchup. After a few minutes, he excused himself from the table.

"Derek… what's wrong?" Stiles asked, following after him. Derek was leaning against the car, his face buried in his hands.

He tried to focus on that night again. He tried to see for himself if Stiles' accusation was warranted. Was he a cheater? It certainly felt like he was. Tears of frustration rolled silently down his cheeks. If he was innocent, why would he feel so guilty? He clearly remembered the intoxicating scent of Braden as she stripped down. He remembered the taste of her lips, the suppleness of her skin. He remembered the way she moaned and encouraged him to go faster. He remembered the way it felt to be inside her. But no matter how much he tried, he couldn't recall how she got into his bed in the first place.

Stiles gently placed a hand on his shoulder as he approached. "You're worrying me, Der. What's wrong?"

"The problem is that if I tell you what's going through my mind right now, you'll pack your bags and leave me for good."

"We're supposed to be working on communication. Come on… tell me. I promise it can't be that bad," Stiles said softly.

"Get in the car," Derek said. "If we're going to have this discussion, we can't do it here."

Hesitantly, Stiles did. They drove in silence to their spot. The place within the Beacon Hills Preserve that overlooked the entire city. Stiles followed Derek's cue to get out of the car when it came to a stop. The Alpha held out his hands. "Conjure the fire thingy… the one you did the last time we were here."

"Der… what's this about?"

"JUST CONJURE THE DAMN FLAME!" Derek roared. "I need to tell you something and I need you to know that I'm being honest." More tears were beginning to seep from his eyes. Being surrounded by nature made Stiles' magic more powerful and predictable, but far more dangerous.

"Using magic to evoke truth is dangerous, Derek. I shouldn't have done it before. If what you say while holding the flame is a falsehood, even by accident, the flame will permanently scar you," Stiles replied. "If the lie is great enough, it will kill you."

"What if it's a price I'm willing to pay."

"I don't give a fuck if you're willing to pay it, because I'm not!" Stiles scolded. "I'm going to speak to you now not as your husband, but as your Emissary. The fabric of reality is written in truths. The laws of physics and nature obey these truths. Magic is entropy in motion. It is a momentary rewriting of the laws of physics to do the will of one individual. It's dangerous and unpredictable by the most skilled users. When you mix magic with truth, you risk rewriting reality to fit that truth. One slip of the tongue and suddenly you and I were never married… Aria and Gabe were never born… you could have died in the fire with your family. None of those things I'm willing to let happen." Stiles paused. "Even if our marriage doesn't survive this, I'm always going to love you, Derek. I won't entertain the idea of anything that could kill you."

Derek fell to his knees, frustrated at his powerlessness. "Without that spell, I can't prove to you that I'm telling the truth," he said.

"What is this about?"

"The night… the night of the affair," Derek said.

"Maybe we should talk about it with the therapist," Stiles suggested.

Derek shook his head. "There's too much supernatural for her to hear this and… I can't keep it in anymore, Stiles."

"What brought this on?" Stiles asked. He focused his magic for a moment, using it to create seats from rock so they could sit.

"When you called me a cheater at the restaurant…" Derek said. "It struck a nerve."

"I meant you were cheating at the French fry game…" Stiles said.

Derek shook his head. "It's not that… it's… never mind. I need to get some fresh air…" He pulled off is clothes and shifted to wolf form before darting off into the dark of the preserve.

Stiles called after him, but he knew it was a fool's errand to give chase. Derek was far too fast. Instead, Stiles sat down near the car. He didn't know how to change himself into an animal as fast as an Alpha Werewolf. He waited for what felt like hours. Finally, he took one of the garments Derek had pulled off. Tracking spells were difficult enough for regular humans. Werewolves were much harder. Alpha Werewolves were damn near impossible thanks to their talent for hiding themselves when they didn't want to be found. He held the fabric in his hand and chanted words in a language more ancient than any recorded. It sounded like a melody comprised of nature itself. It was at once explosively violent and beautifully peaceful.

The shirt began to float as if in water. It gave off a bright red glow that helped illuminate the pitch black of the forest. As Stiles walked, he felt the anxious pit growing in his stomach. Something seemed off. He willed the enchanted garment to go faster, picking up his pace from a walk to a jog, then on to a full-blown sprint.

His heart dropped as he heard the unmistakable sounds of gunfire followed immediately by the sharp cry of a wolf.

He ran harder and faster than he ever had before in his life. He knew that wolf. When he reached the scene, he saw Derek sprawled naked in his human form. He'd been shot in the stomach. Three Hunters were standing with their guns trained on Derek. Two others were hoisting a rope over a limb.

It was the traditional execution style of the North American Hunters. First they'd hang the Werewolf and then, before he was dead from asphyxiation, they'd take a broad sword and cut him in half. At first this was reserved only for Werewolves guilty of the murder of an innocent human. But the North American Hunters had taken it too far. To them, all Werewolves deserved death simply for existing. It pissed Stiles off. He had been friends with a Hunter. She had tried to show them a different way. Allison died in her attempt to change the mission of the Hunters.

"This one's for you, Allison," he whispered as he shot bolts of light out of his hands, knocking the hunters with guns off their feet.

Battle magic was easy. It was instinctive. When invoking it on behalf of Derek or his kids, it was deadly. There was never a time he felt less in control of his powers as he did when he thought his family was in danger, but this was the reason he'd made that awful deal to begin with. This magic required no spells or forethought. He just needed to see his target and wish harm upon the unlucky soul. Then he could force upon them deaths that not even his own admittedly demented mind could dream up. "Which one of you shot my husband?" he demanded. "I just want to know who I'm killing first."

One of the Hunters who had been tying the noose chuckled. "This isn't your fight, Druid. This Werewolf is guilty of killing an innocent. You know the rules."

Stiles sucked his teeth and sighed. "I guess you're the one who dies first." The magic flowing through his veins acted without conscious effort. His hands moved in wide, purposeful motions. The rope came to life, wrapping itself around the man's neck and stringing him up. His body flailed as it was starved for oxygen. His fingers clawed at the rope being pulled tighter every second from the weight bearing down on it. Because his neck didn't snap, the death was slow and excruciating. Stiles didn't care. Seeing his husband bleeding and in pain, unable to heal from the wolfsbane laced into the bullet justified everything. In this regard, Stiles recognized that he sometimes had more in common with Peter than Derek.

The other Hunters had regained their balance and were back on their feet. Their guns were cocked and aimed at Stiles. "One less Druid and one less mongrel… I don't see a downside now."

"Come on guys… Four against one… with three of you holding shotguns. This is such an unfair fight…" Stiles said. Another glance at Derek's wound drove Stiles into further rage. He couldn't tell if it was the dark and shadows playing tricks on his eyes or if the wound was seeping the black goo that sometimes happened when a supernatural creature was poisoned with one of the many substances toxic to them. He drew further on the magic he'd obtained from Loki. He dropped to one knee and pressed his hands against the ground. It began to shake and the earth beneath the hunters liquefied, swallowing them up to their shoulders.

A quick death would be too easy for them. But killing them all would only send more into their territory and Stiles didn't want that, either. He'd send one back to wherever they came from to spread the message that the only Hunter welcome in this city was Chris Argent. "I'll ask you again. Who shot my husband? An innocent person doesn't need to worry. I'm not unreasonable. But one of you is guilty of shooting the man I love with a wolfsbane-laced bullet and I want to know who the son of a bitch responsible is."

Stiles could feel the pulse of the earth against is hand. He scratched his fingers into the soil and could feel it constrict around the Hunters. Each exhale they made caused the ground to tighten further around them, like a boa constrictor. Soon, they wouldn't be able to breathe at all. Finally, the one on the far left broke. "It was me…" he sobbed, gasping for air he'd never get. Stiles released the tightness around the others and freed one of them.

Stiles approached the one he freed. "You're going to leave. You're going to tell your leader that if I catch another one of you in my territory again, that it will be officially an act of war and I think that from what you've experienced tonight, you understand that you don't want that. Am I correct in that assumption?" Stiles asked. He cast a green glow on the man's skin that faded after a moment. It was a simple trick that literally did nothing more than make him glow, but Stiles was certain the man didn't know that. He had quickly learned that many times, and especially when dealing with people ignorant of magic, the simplest spells mixed with a lie often produced the most effective results. "I've placed a curse on you. Anyone who breathes the same air as you will catch this curse… and when any of you come back into my territory, you'll die immediately upon crossing the border. Am I understood?" The man nodded, but Stiles wasn't done toying with him just yet. "I can't hear the rocks in your fucking head rattle. Am I understood?"

"Y-yes!" the man stammered.

Stiles spat at him. The glob of saliva landed in the man's eye. "You're dismissed. You've got exactly 30 minutes to get as far away from Beacon Hills as you can before the curse kills you."

Once the freed man ran off into the woods, Stiles turned his attention back to the men who were still buried up to their shoulders. "You said you'd let us go if we told you!" one of them cried.

"I lied," Stiles replied simply. "The rest of you are going to die here." He began drawing up his waning magical resources. After this, he was going to need to recharge. The trick with the earth had drained him to an incredible degree. Once again he spoke in an unrecognizable language. This one sounded otherworldly and the spell he cast was more involved than simply making their skin glow a random color. "You're going to stay here until you die. Nobody except for those of us currently here will be able to perceive you at all. They won't be able to hear you, see you, feel you, smell you… in short they could be staring right at you watching you die and not even know it. The animals, however, will know that you're here and defenseless… easy prey. So hope you die of starvation or dehydration first."

The sun was beginning to rise as Stiles was finally able to help Derek to his feet. For now, he had no more magic to assist and in hindsight, he knew he should have healed his Alpha before anything else. But he had wanted to make them suffer. With the added benefit of light, he could see the wound. It was, indeed, seeping the black goo, but he knew how to fix it and it would take just a few moments upon returning to their house. After that, he could crash.

It took a while to get back to the car. Stiles raced down the roads to the Hale mansion. Scott was in the driveway with Gabe and Aria. As Stiles got out of the car, so did he. "Where've you been? I've been trying your cell forever."

"We got mixed up with some Hunters. Do you mind keeping them for a few more hours? If not, I can call my dad… I just don't want them to see their Alpha like this. It will only scare them," Stiles replied softly. "I can't use my magic because I used it to take care of the hunters… I'm going to have to treat this old-school Druid-style."

"Yeah, I'll keep them a little longer. Text me when it's safe to bring them back. Also… Do I need to alert the other Alphas?" Scott replied.

Stiles shook his head. "I don't think the hunter groups will mess with us for a while, at least. You might want to let them know it happened, but they shouldn't be worried. I took care of it."

Scott hugged him lightly and Stiles leaned into the car to plant kisses on his children. "You're going to stay with Uncle Scott for a few more hours, OK?" he said.

Gabe yawned as he nodded. "I love you, Daddy," he said.

"I love you too," Stiles replied. "I love you both. I'll make your favorite for dinner if you're good. Does that sound like a plan?"

"Can we also have cake?" Aria asked.

"Certainly! We'll have a big cake covered with icing."

Both of them cheered. Stiles placed another kiss on their foreheads before closing the car door. He waited for Scott's car to be out of sight before helping Derek inside. He laid down a sheet on the couch as to not get any blood or black goo on the upholstery. He then gathered his supplies from the study. He placed a leather strap between Derek's teeth. "This is going to hurt."

Using a pair of tweezers, he dug the bullet out of the wound and placed a bandage against it. "Hold this here and apply pressure," he instructed. Then, using a mortar and pestle he ground up various herbs and plants into a poultice to apply to the wound.

Every muscle in Derek's body tightened. "FUCK!" he screamed as a burning sensation ripped through every vein in his body.

Stiles ran his fingers through Derek's hair. "I know it hurts… but there was a lot of wolfsbane in your blood stream. I had to get it out so you could heal. Just a few more minutes, I promise…."

Tears of agony streamed down his face. He could handle it if it were anything other than a burning sensation. He imagined that this was what his parents, cousins, aunts, and uncles felt the night of the fire. He heard their screams. He could smell their burnt flesh. He could taste it on the air. All of those sensations came back to him.

When Stiles took the poultice off, the wound was almost completely healed. There was no need to cause any more pain, so Stiles decided to allow Derek's body to do the rest of the work. And truth be told, he was exhausted. After setting aside the various items he'd used to fix Derek up, Stiles climbed onto the couch and snuggled against him. The wound had completely closed up. They were both exhausted, however. It had been a very long night.

While he lamented not having learned whatever it was that had upset Derek earlier, he hoped that the showmanship he exhibited in dispatching the hunters had done something significant to show that the lack of trust was unwarranted. He doubted it, though. He knew that Derek saw it as nothing more than protecting his family. It didn't surprise him. He tilted his head up and kissed along Derek's scruffy jawline and before resting his head on Derek's chest, and his hand on his husband's tight belly. "I love you," he said.

Chapter Text

"We've been more…" Derek searched for the word. "I guess you would say… intimate?" He leaned forward and stared at his hands. "But there are moments when he looks at me and I know he's picturing me with her. The wound becomes fresh and the little bit of progress we've made is gone. I'm fighting an uphill battle."

"I know it can seem that way. But at this early stage, progress can be slow and sometimes even grueling. But you've got to let Stiles heal in his own time and in his own way," replied the therapist in their one-on-one session. Her response made him want to scream. There wasn't even certainty that he had committed the sin that had landed him in this hell.

Throughout the rest of the session, Derek shut down, riding out the clock. His thoughts became fixated on proving his innocence or guilt. He found it strange that his life was so much more bearable when he actually believed he had done the terrible thing. "I've got a meeting with some producers in Los Angeles," Stiles said breaking the silence on their ride home. "I should probably leave tonight. I can get a hotel. I should be back tomorrow night."

"Alright," Derek said. "I can whip up dinner before you go… that way you don't have to drive on an empty stomach."

The small talk continued until they got home. Derek began cooking and Stiles packed for his trip. When he was done, he leaned against the counter watching Derek. Aria joined them in the kitchen. "Are you guys fighting again?" she asked.

"No!" Stiles assured her. "Of course not… why would you even ask that?"

She wrinkled her nose. "It smells like sadness in here."

"I'm just sad that I have to go to LA and leave you here tonight," Stiles said as he knelt down and hugged his daughter tightly. "I'm sad every time I have to leave you."

Aria pursed her lips as she wriggled out of his grip. "A girl at my school said that when two people are in marriage counseling, it means that they're going to break up and never love each other again. She said that's what's going to happen to you and dad."

Derek turned around and looked at his daughter. His words pierced him more painfully than the bullet shot by the hunter. "Who told you that?"

"Lucy Cahill," Aria replied.

"Lucy Cahill is a moron who needs to mind her own business," Derek told her. "And you can tell her I said that."

Aria looked back and forth between her parents. She grabbed Stiles' hand then Derek's and pulled them together. "Then promise me."

"Promise what, sweetheart?" Stiles asked.

"Promise me that you'll never break up and that we'll always be a family," Aria insisted. "Promise!"

Stiles looked up at Derek, seeking guidance. He wanted to be able to make that promise, but wasn't certain he could. "Sweetie, it's more complicated than that."

"No it's not!"

Derek knelt down and placed his hands on her shoulders. "Aria, we're in marriage counseling because we love each other. We've got a few things that we need to fix and the counselor helps us fix them. Even if we break up, we're still a family and we're still pack. You and Gabe are both a part of each of us and nothing is ever going to change that." By this point, Aria was softly crying, but Derek hugged her tightly. "You and your brother mean everything to us, Aria. Never forget that."

Aria broke free from Derek and ran upstairs, still crying. Stiles was fighting back tears himself. Derek hugged him too. "She doesn't understand the complexities of what we're going through. She's too young."

"What if we don't make it? She's going to hate me for the rest of her life. She's going to think that I abandoned her," Stiles replied. "The fucked up thing is that she's not wrong. It means that I abandoned our family."

"Stiles, no," Derek replied. "I won't let them think that. If we don't work out… at least we tried. Nobody can say that we didn't. I'll talk to her while you're gone. Don't worry."

Stiles sighed. "I think I'm just going to leave. I'll grab food on my way down."

"Are you sure?"

Stiles nodded. Derek kissed his cheek. He walked out with Stiles and watched until he could no longer see the tail lights.

The next morning, after dropping his kids off at school, Derek drove to Peter's. He'd taken up residence in the loft Derek had once lived in. Given that he still owned the building and had the key, he let himself in. Peter was kneeling on the bed, a lithe young man bent over in front of him as Peter thrust in and out.

"Ah Derek," Peter said, not stopping. "Give me a few minutes… I'm almost done here."

Derek folded his arms across his chest and averted his eyes. The slap of skin against skin echoed in the loft for another eight minutes before Peter grunted and came before pulling out and slapping the man on the ass. Derek glowered as the man disappeared upstairs. Peter walked up, his cock still hard and glistening. "Who's that?"

"An omega I found," Peter replied. "He's got a kink for getting knotted and as luck would have it, I've got a kink for shoving my knot in him. He's probably mad because you showed up and interrupted… hard to pop a knot when your nephew is watching."

Derek sighed in disgust. "How long has this been going on?"

Peter looked at the clock as he headed to the fridge and grabbed a bottle of water. "He and I were fucking for about 14 hours… give or take?" He paused for a second before feigning understanding. "Oh you mean how long have I been fucking him in general… since a week after the Stiles event. It's the best… he's always tight and ready and he doesn't care if he gets off." He opened the bottle and took a long gulp. "If you and Stiles ever break up, consider getting yourself an omega. You might not ever sleep again, but it's fucking worth it." He knew he was annoying Derek and he knew that Derek was uncomfortable with him standing there naked, reeking of sex with the omega. Now that Derek was his Alpha again, it was the only power play he could make. "What brings you over?"

"I need you to search my memories."

"It's about time," Peter replied as he extended his claws and brought them to the base of his nephew's neck.

Derek knocked his hand away. "Put some clothes on first."

"Why? They're just going to come off once you're gone…" Peter pouted as he searched for a pair of underwear. All he could find was a jockstrap that belonged to the omega. He pulled it on and then grabbed a wrinkled V-neck shirt.

"Pants?" Derek prompted.


"Is that all you do? Just stay here and fuck?" Derek asked.

"We take food breaks. And I drink." Peter's smile turned devilish. "I've come to like the flavor and if I spike it with certain strains of aconite, it actually gets me drunk. Now do you want my help or not? Because I'd really rather be knot-deep in him than having this conversation with you."

"Fine," Derek sighed. He sat down on a chair that he couldn't smell the Omega on. Every other surface smelled like sex which meant Derek wouldn't touch it until it had been medically disinfected.

Peter moved behind his nephew and extended his claws. "It's going to hurt," he warned.

"I know. Just do it," Derek ordered.

"You sound like my omega," Peter chuckled as he stabbed his claws into his Alpha's spine.

Derek walked into his bedroom after tucking his children in. Just a few more days and his Mate would be home and in his arms. He was planning a sexy night in. Cora was going to come and take the kids and Derek was going to let Stiles know just how much he'd been missed. He grew instantly hard thinking about his husband. It had been so long that he feared he'd pop a knot at the slightest breeze. He needed a cold shower.

It did enough to quell him for now, but as exited the master bathroom, his body and hair still dripping as he continued to run the towel across himself trying to sop up the extra wetness. He froze as he saw a man seated on his bed. He had unnaturally red hair, incandescent green eyes, pointed ears, and sharp cheekbones. "Derek Hale," he said. "A pleasure to meet you."

Instantly Derek's claws and fangs were bared. He didn't care that he was naked in front of this man. He was a stranger. He was a threat. Derek lunged, ready to tear the man's throat open. Instead of hitting the man, he fell straight onto the bed. A blink of an eye and the man was across the room, but closing the distance. "You won't be able to kill me, Derek, so stop trying. Besides, it's not you that I want dead. You see… There was a made a deal with someone. He got a great deal of magic and the knowledge of how to use it on the condition that he surrender his soul."

"What does this have to do with me?"

"Unfortunately, that man isn't dying soon enough. I want to speed that process up."

"Then kill him."

"But that's so boring! Why would I do that when I can destroy everything he loves and then drive him to take his own life."

Derek didn't know if this man was insane or stupid to try and corner an Alpha. "Whatever you're trying to do, you fucked up the moment you entered my territory without permission," Derek said, looking to find the right moment to strike and kill.

"Fucking werewolves," the man replied. Derek saw an opening and lunged. The man waved his hand and suddenly Derek wasn't moving. He was frozen mid-leap. The man approached leisurely. It was clear he didn't view Derek as a threat whatsoever. He reached out and grabbed Derek's cock and balls. "Impressive equipment you've got here. I look forward to experiencing it."

"Fuck off," Derek growled.

The man circled Derek. "How about a form more appealing to you…" When he was back in Derek's line of sight, he was naked and the exact image of Braeden—scars and all. A glance at Derek's manhood showed that this wasn't doing anything. Instead, he changed shape again, assuming the likeness of Stiles. Every mole on his body was in the correct place and the lonely longing for his husband stirred something within him. The man noticed and smiled. "Ah…"

"You're not my husband. You can't make me do it."

"I don't need to make you, Derek. You're going to be willing," the man replied before pressing his lips to Derek's cheek. He worked up a gob of spit and let it drop into the Alpha's mouth before kissing him. The moment the man's saliva entered his mouth, he wasn't a stranger taking the form of the man he loved most in the world… he was Stiles. He smelled like Stiles. He tasted like Stiles. His husband was back in his arms.

"Thank God you're back," he said.

"Show me how much you missed me," was Stiles' response. Derek didn't need to be told twice. He gladly pushed himself into his husband's tight hole. It was warm and velvety like always.

Every kiss Derek took put him further and further under the spell. The stranger spat in the Alpha's mouth a few more times but Derek drank it up like it was manna from heaven. The Alpha belonged to him now. The real fun could begin.

Derek was so far under his spell that the man no longer needed to put forth the effort of maintaining Stiles' likeness. The Alpha would continue doing what the man needed him to do until he was ordered to stop.

The man smiled when he heard the front door open. Just as he planned. Each step up the stairs filled him with more and more glee. He changed form back to the beautiful dark skin of Braeden and feigned ecstasy—not that what Derek wasn't doing a good enough job, but the amount of concentration the illusions took made it difficult to focus truly on the pleasure at hand.

When the door opened and Stiles saw the sight, the man ensured that Derek turned around and looked at his husband while continuing to thrust. He saw the rage and pain on the Emissary's face. Once Stiles was no longer in the doorway and the front door slammed shut, the man knew that his plan was under way. He created an illusion in which to trap the Alpha for the next few hours.

The man moved out from under Derek, who didn't seem to notice. He allowed himself to orgasm and fed the results to the Alpha. Suddenly the entire night had been with Braeden. She was still beneath him, urging him on.

The stranger cackled as he disappeared, ready to put the next part of his plan in play.

Peter retracted his claws. Derek was shaking. He didn't do it. There was a short-lived wave of relief—short-lived only because he now knew without a doubt that Stiles was in danger from a deity no less.

"It looks like you have a problem, Derek," Peter sighed as he returned to his bed. He let out a whistle and the omega came racing down the spiral staircase.

"My family is under attack by a sorcerer who thinks he's a god…" Derek said.

"Oh no, not that. We just learned without a doubt that you weren't responsible for what happened that night. But Stiles…" Peter paused as the Omega fished his cock out of the jockstrap and engulfed it hungrily. "Stiles may have been drunk, but he was just as eager as this omega. We don't know if he was being affected by this guy, but if I had to place a wager, I'd say no."

Derek's blood ran cold. Peter snapped and the Omega got on all fours. Peter got up behind him and wasted no time in slamming all the way inside. Derek walked out, closing the door behind him as the slap of skin-against-skin filled the air once more.

Being alone with his thoughts was unbearable. Drinking did nothing, since his metabolism didn't allow alcohol to work on him. He hated Peter for pointing it out. The more he thought about it, the angrier he became. If he had not been so hurt, he might have realized that the extra anger and rage was being fueled by the upcoming super moon.

When Stiles got home, Derek was sitting at the kitchen table. In front of him was a packet of papers that Stiles recognized. "Derek what's going on?" he asked, sitting beside his husband. He took Derek's hand in his. "And why are you staring at the divorce papers?"

Derek took a deep breath. "Considering handing them to the judge," he said.

Stiles was taken aback. "What's this about?"

"For months I've beaten myself up and blamed myself for almost destroying our marriage," Derek began. "I wasn't the one who threw the bomb into our marriage. You were. Peter and I have investigated what happened that night. There were things that didn't add up. Both he and I were tricked. Braeden was never here that night. It was some strange magic user. He tricked me into thinking it was you. He tortured Peter into going along with your advances… but you…" Derek took a deep breath. "You were all too willing to bend over for my uncle."

Stiles didn't know how to react. He sat there in stunned silence. "Derek, you have to understand… I could only go by what I saw… I saw you and Braeden having sex. I saw the man I love having sex with someone who wasn't me and I was angry. Fuck—I've never been so angry before in my entire life. I wanted to hurt you so I did the thing that I knew would cut the deepest. I didn't know what Peter was going through when it happened. I was so drunk and so high… it was the only way I could let someone who wasn't you touch me like that."

Derek stood up, pacing away from Stiles. "Aside from my kids, I've got three living family members left. You've now fucked two of them. You used to be my safe place. You used to be the thing I could count on no matter what and once again, someone has used sex and fucked up notions of love as a way to distract me while my family is destroyed…"

"We haven't been destroyed, Derek," Stiles insisted, closing the gap between them. "If anything, it's shown us that we can survive this terrible—my terrible actions. But you're right. Once again, you were victimized. Since this person used you to try to get to me, I take responsibility for that."

"Did you know that in Werewolf society, I had every right to execute Peter? He knotted my mate. His scent was on you and there was no mistaking his guilt. If I were a less-rational Alpha… if I were like Deucalion or Kali… hell… even Peter… I could have killed him on sight and been perfectly within my right to do so?" Derek asked, turning around to finally face Stiles. His eyes were bright red. "You're supposed to be an Emissary. You're supposed to understand these intricacies of our kind and help us to navigate them. You're not supposed to pit us against one another. That's what Jennifer did and we nearly all died because of it. Boyd and Erica did die because of it."

Gabe's small voice cut through the tense air between them. "Please stop fighting," he begged.

Both Derek and Stiles turned their attention to their son. Neither of them knew how long he had been there or how much he had heard. "Gabe, sweetie," Stiles said as he rushed to his son, but the boy recoiled from him. There was genuine fear and anger in his son's eyes and it hurt more than anything Stiles had ever imagined. Gabe reached out for Derek—his Alpha. It was one more painful reminder that his children would forever hold a bond with Derek that he could never hope to comprehend.

Though they insisted otherwise, in times of turmoil, Derek was Pack. He was the leader. He was their protector. Stiles simply wasn't. There was something so visceral to the bond young werewolves had to their Alpha that Stiles couldn't hope to recreate in his relationship with his children, despite the fact that it had been his magic that brought them into the world in the first place.

Derek picked Gabe up and hugged him tightly to his chest. Gabe seemed to curl up against him much the way a young puppy would. He was instantly relieved by the touch and caress of his Alpha father. "Sometimes parents fight, Gabe. It's just the way things are. It doesn't mean we don't love you. It just means that Daddy and I have a few things we need to figure out so that we can be better parents to you and your sister," Derek cooed as he brought Gabe back upstairs. Stiles sat back down, heartbroken.

When Derek returned, he sat next to Stiles. "He's right, you know," he said. "We can't keep fighting like this. It's not good for them and they're only going to resent us."

"Resent me, you mean," Stiles corrected. "Because you saw the way he flinched from me. And now that we know the truth of what happened… why shouldn't he? You were right, Derek. I was ready to file divorce the moment it happened and it turns out that I was the monster all along."

"You're not a monster, Stiles."

"No… I am. I wanted you to hurt. I wanted to make you feel as terrible as I felt in that moment. I wanted you to have to smell Peter's scent on me and deal with the fact that I gave it up to your uncle. I hoped you would fear I'd get pregnant again and that you'd have to see me carry a child that wasn't yours, but was part of your pack. I tried to hurt you in the most personal and intimate way possible and that makes me a monster," Stiles said. "There's no other way to word it."

"So what do we do from here?"

"I can only apologize for my actions and promise that I will never again do something so awful," Stiles said. "But you're under no obligation to accept it. Christ knows I put you through enough of an ordeal the millions of times you apologized."

There was a long stretch of silence. The clock on the wall seemed to echo throughout the room. Finally, Derek moved his hand over and gently placed it on Stiles'. "I do accept your apology, Stiles, because I know how agonizing it is to be sorry and feel nothing in return. You fucked up and you made a bad decision. But you're not a bad person. We'll get through this and then we'll put an end to whoever that guy was and anyone else who thinks they're going to threaten my family."

Stiles' eyes moved from the hand that Derek was touching, up to his husband's jawline, high cheek bones and liquid emerald eyes. It brought him to tears. He was reminded of the day they exchanged rings and vows. He had told himself every day before then and every day since that he didn't deserve this man. Never before had it been so true as it was in this very moment. It amazed him that after everything Derek had been through—after everything Stiles had put him through—that he could be such a compassionate person. Stiles made a silent vow that he would spend the rest of his life working daily to earn the forgiveness that Derek had shown him.

With the hand that Derek wasn't touching, Stiles made a complicated gesture, drawing in the air a series of symbols that utterly perplexed Derek, but seemed natural to Stiles. The divorce papers floated into the air. Two months of decomposition were compressed into a few moments of time. The resulting dirt then floated into a pot along the windowsill of the kitchen.

The dynamic in the house was different. The change was felt almost immediately. They were still attending marriage counseling—only with a different therapist, since the new revelation had turned the actual issue on its head and it was far too complicated to try to explain it to their previous therapist.

Stiles had begun the process of learning to deal with his guilt and Derek started down the journey of coping with the betrayal. They were making far more progress towards the kind of couple they had been prior to 'the incident' as they now referred to it.

Derek resumed the role of primary caregiver and stay-at-home dad while Stiles worked on his various acting gigs and comedy shows by day. At night, however, he remained immersed in the study pouring over various tomes in an attempt to learn anything he could that might provide answers as to the identity of the man who had disrupted the sanctity of their home. And if truth be told, Stiles was also looking for spells that Derek would likely not approve of, given the gruesome and terrible ways they could dispatch the intruder.

The study remained lit well into the night. Derek yawned as he leaned against the door frame. "Are you coming to bed any time this century?"

"We're dealing with a wielder of powerful magic who wants me dead and isn't afraid to use you to help with it. I'm trying to figure out how best to deal with him," Stiles replied, not looking up from his book. "Part of me is wondering if it's Loki himself… but that can't be… it'd violate our contract…"

"Why not do some of that kick-ass magic and send his ass back to Jötunheimr," Derek suggested, slipping casually into a flawless Norse accent with the pronunciation of the last word.

"There are a couple of problems with that… the first of which being that we're not talking Loki from the Marvel movies. The real Loki is much more dangerous and has none of the charm that Tom Hiddleston adds to that role," Stiles replied. "Also since my magic came from him, it would be useless against him. I'd have to agree to get magic from another trickster and pay whatever price they're going to demand. The best bet is actually to destroy him."

"Assuming it is Loki we're dealing with how do you destroy a god?" Derek asked.

"Herein lies the problem. Not even the rest of his Pantheon could. In the end he was chained to a rock with poison being dripped into his eyes as a way to keep him under control until Ragnarok," Stiles explained.

"What dumbass freed him?"

Stiles sighed. "I did, so I could make my deal."

Derek shook his head. "Of course. And he still demanded your soul after you freed him from that?"

"To a god, it's equal. They don't see justice the same way we do," Stiles said. He still hadn't looked up from his book so Derek cleared his throat. Stiles placed a bookmark in the large tome and glanced over at his husband. He was naked. His hair was still wet from the shower he just stepped out of.

"Not that I'm complaining because I appreciate the view, but why are you loitering in the doorway naked?" Stiles asked.

"Because I'd rather be loitering on our bed naked… with you, also naked," Derek replied. He stopped leaning against the door frame and approached Stiles. Standing behind Stiles, Derek put his hands on his husband's shoulders and began massaging them. "You've been working yourself into exhaustion, Stiles. I'm just asking you to take a break for one night. I promise I'll make it worth your time."

"Damn you drive a hard bargain," Stiles replied, leaning back into the massage… as well as something else of Derek's. "And it appears your bargain isn't the only hard thing I'll be contending with tonight…"

Derek chuckled. "And if truth be told, you probably won't get a lot of sleep either. It'll just be a hell of a lot more fun than these books."

Stiles paused for a second. "Derek?"


His heart raced as he summoned the courage to ask his question. "Do you want to have another child?"

Derek's hands stopped massaging Stiles' shoulders. "Stiles, do you think it's the right time? I mean we're gearing up for a fight with someone pretty powerful."

"All the more reason, really… we might not have another opportunity," Stiles replied.

Derek understood the time crunch they were potentially facing. But given the sensitive place their relationship was still in, he didn't want this to be the kid they had to try and save a doomed marriage. "Don't talk like that," Derek murmured. He leaned down and gently kissed Stiles along his cheek and jaw. "We're going to get through it. We're going to figure out who this person is and stop him."

Stiles didn't honestly believe it. To be able to do what this stranger had already done took serious magical know-how that went far beyond anything Stiles had ever attempted. He knew Derek could sense his hesitation, but he leaned into the embrace he was receiving.

"Yeah," Derek said at last. "To answer your question, I'd like another kid."

Chapter Text

"So how are you guys doing?" the therapist asked. Their new therapist was an older man with glasses that rested far enough down the bridge of his nose that Stiles had a nearly uncontrollable urge to push them up for the guy. He also had a long gray beard and on more than one occasion in his private conversations with Derek, Stiles had referred to him as "Professor Dumbledore."

However, the situation today wasn't pleasant enough to warrant any sarcastic responses. Stiles sat stone-still in the chair. Anger still vibrated off of him in tangible waves. Most of it was directed at Derek.

"We had a bit of an argument yesterday. It got heated," Derek sighed. "Our china cabinet was the least of the collateral damage."

"The sheriff got called to the scene by one of our neighbors. We live about a mile away from the nearest house," Stiles interjected, his arms folded tightly across his chest. "Also… the sheriff is my dad."

The therapist's eyebrows raised in a surprised manner. "What precipitated this argument?"

"I don't know…" Stiles began. "Maybe the fact that Derek thought it would be better to jump to conclusions instead of having a civilized conversation."

"You had just come from my uncle's place… and you smelled like sex," Derek said, keenly aware that the therapist knew who Stiles had cheated with as well as his relation to Derek.

"I smelled like sex because your uncle has turned his loft into a veritable sex den," Stiles growled through gritted teeth. "I didn't know that before I went there to see what he knew about the visitor we had." Stiles then directed his speech to the therapist. "And then instead of a conversation about it, Derek, all-knowing as he is, figured he knew exactly what had happened. He accused me of sleeping with his uncle and refused to hear anything I had to say." Stiles had even offered to prove it by allowing Derek to use his claws to see into his memories. "So I want to make this point perfectly clear: the only reason I slept with Peter the first time is because I thought I had walked in on my husband cheating on me and I wanted to hurt him back, which we have acknowledged was a shitty thing to do. When it turned out that my little revenge sex stunt was the only infidelity that happened, I was devastated. I would never sleep with Peter again under any circumstances."

"In case you didn't catch it," Derek said. "He's mad at me for jumping to conclusions when it was him jumping to conclusions that landed us on this couch in the first god-damn place."

"Our marriage isn't a scoreboard where we keep track of every tiny slight we've taken from each other, you ass!" Stiles snapped. He looked at the therapist. "It wasn't this bad when we were heartbeats away from filing the divorce papers and I don't know what to do at this point. I know I fucked up when I slept with Peter and I take full responsibility for that. We had a long, hard conversation when the truth was finally revealed and I thought we were in a good place."

"Derek, it sounds like you still have some hurt you're holding onto. Do you think that it's possible you could be projecting it onto this situation unfairly?" the therapist asked.

Though he didn't look at Stiles, he nodded. "Stiles, when we had our conversation, you said the reason you slept with Peter was because you wanted to hurt me in a deep and personal way. I get that you were reacting to… well… you know. But I guess it took a bit of time for me to truly process what that confession meant for me. It made me think that if I do something that upsets you, you'll respond similarly. I lashed out. I'm sorry."

"Stiles, are there any hurts you've been holding onto? Now would be the time to air them," the therapist said in his soothing way.

Stiles sighed. "The kids…" he began. "I feel like if I weren't in the picture it wouldn't even matter to them. You are so much more central to their world than I am. They have a stronger connection to you than I do and each time they see us argue, it seems as though that relationship you have with them strengthens and my relationship with them gets more and more strained."

"So you guys used a surrogate and Derek was the donor?" the therapist asked, seeking clarity. Because of the highly unusual way in which they had their children, Stiles simply sighed and stared imploringly at his husband, hoping he'd realize that this was part of it. People always saw Derek as their biological father and nobody ever assumed the same of Stiles.

"I get it," Derek said softly. "And I am sorry for flying off the handle like that. I think my issue has more to do with my relationship and history with my uncle and you bore the brunt of that. It wasn't fair to you."

Stiles leaned over and pressed his lips to Derek's scruffy cheek as a way of telling him that the apology was accepted.

"I think we've made some great breakthroughs," the therapist said at the end of their session. "I'd like you to work on assuming positive intentions from one another. You guys really seem to love one another in such a deep and profound way. Taking a few moments to stop and think and then waiting until you've cooled down a bit to have the conversation might help avoid future conflicts like this."

Both Stiles and Derek thanked the therapist and shook his hand. As they walked out to the car, Stiles' fingers interlocked with Derek's and he felt a need to be close to him. In recent months they had spent so much time fighting and arguing that they had forgotten the simple pleasure of being in each other's company.

After their friendship developed and Derek finally returned to Beacon Hills, they spent time together. Sometimes in complete silence. When Derek reassumed the role of Alpha, Stiles volunteered to become his emissary since Deaton had begun filling that role for Scott. It was then that the spark of love grew. They discovered new and interesting things about one another on a daily basis.

Stiles remembered their first kiss. He recalled with perfect clarity how nervous and hesitant they both were in the lead up to that moment. He could still feel the ghosts of that kiss on his lips when he thought about it. He was so surprised by how soft Derek's lips were. The sensation of Derek's tongue moving into his mouth. He didn't even want to break for air. Their hands explored each other with brazen familiarity. Clothes ripped to shreds as neither of them could resist the urge to feel the other's body flesh-to-flesh.

In that moment, there was no shame or fear. There was no vulnerability. Stiles trusted Derek implicitly and in return, received Derek's implicit trust. The transition of their first kiss to the first time they made love, all in the span of a few short minutes seemed to be the most natural progression they could have made. So natural, in fact, it seemed a violation not to go that route. It was more than the fevered thrusting of two men seeking carnal pleasure. It was the mutual desire to be one body, one mind, and one soul. Each was the other's drug, without which, they could not hope to continue living. They were mates. They were meant for one another. An atom's width separating them was too much.

And somehow, that had devolved to this… petty arguments and sleepless nights with one of them on the couch on a different floor of the house. It boggled the mind that this could be the same two people. It broke Stiles' heart.

"How did we become this?" Stiles asked finally. "We used to be able to talk about anything and now we can't have a meaningful conversation unless our therapist is present."

"I honestly don't know," Derek admitted. "We used to never fight. Maybe we're suddenly making up for that lost time?"

"I don't like it. I want the marriage we used to have," Stiles replied. "I want my best friend back."

"Me too," Derek replied. More silence passed between them "I just wish we knew how to get back to that dynamic we had… oh my fucking god. Why didn't I see it?"

"See what?"

"The fighting and bickering… especially after we had finally gotten to a good place… somebody is using magic to instigate chaos," Derek said. "My guess is that it's our visitor."

Stiles made a series of intricate hand motions. Derek didn't pretend to understand what his husband was doing. All he was aware of was a deep growl of "Mother fucker!"

"Was I right?"

"Yes. It's been woven into the very fabric of our reality. It could even be affecting those around us like Aria and Gabe," Stiles said.

Derek's foot slammed onto the brakes, causing the car to lurch to a stop. "He's casting spells on our children?" Rage seemed to roll off of him. "I'll kill him."

"I can ward them against it once I undo it, but we have to figure out who he is and how to stop him," Stiles said.

They picked their kids up from school, not cluing them into what was happening before bringing them home. Stiles disappeared into the study. He began drawing a series of complex diagrams and casting frameworks of magic that appeared in the air like small glittering tendrils, reaching out and connecting with one another. Circles filled with shapes and symbols both of this world and not seemed to connect the tendrils. Soon, Stiles was surrounded by a web of magic.

Derek appeared in the doorway and watched Stiles work. He found it hard to look at the magic as it was being cast. There was a natural aversion that Werewolves had to magic, particularly the type of magic Stiles was casting. "I made food," he said.

"Can you bring it in here? I can't stop until I've completed the spell or else there could be disastrous effects," Stiles replied, not looking away from what he was doing. "I've got to scrub every bit of the spell from us before I can ward us. I'm also sending this chaos right back to its source and doing a few other things that you probably won't approve of."

Derek smiled. "He cast magic on my family. Take care of him however you feel you need to." He quietly watched Stiles work for hours until all at once, the streams of glittering light vanished. "What happened?"

Stiles yawned. "The spell is cast," he said as he stood up. He took one step and collapsed. Derek rushed to his side. Blood trickled from his ears and nose.

"Stiles!" he exclaimed, pulling his husband into his lap. Stiles' body hung limply in his arms. He checked for a pulse. Stiles was definitely still alive, but unconscious. Derek picked him up and brought him upstairs. Aria noticed and came out of her room.

"What's wrong with Daddy?" she asked.

"He was casting a powerful spell," Derek told her. "It just took a lot out of him."

"He's going to be alright though, isn't he?" Aria asked, pressing her hand to his forehead.

"Yeah, he just needs to rest," Derek replied. "Do you want to help me watch over him?" Aria nodded and Derek gave directions, which she followed to the letter. Stiles woke up several days later to find Aria and Gabe asleep beside him, their heads resting on his torso.

He smiled as Aria nuzzled closer to him in her sleep. Gabe was the first to notice that he had woken up and began showering Stiles in kisses. "You're better!" he exclaimed, waking his sister, who did the same.

Derek rushed up. The relief he felt at seeing Stiles awake was palpable. Cora followed right behind. "Daddy! Aunt Cora! He woke up!" Gabe announced.

"I see that," Cora smiled. "But why don't you guys let your parents talk for a few minutes."

Gabe leaned over to give Stiles one last hug. "Don't pass out again, please," he said before climbing down from the bed, causing Stiles to chuckle.

When they were alone, Derek took Stiles into his arms and held him tightly. "Please don't ever scare me like that again," he said. Stiles felt he was going to be crushed to death by Derek's embrace. "What happened? What caused you to pass out? You've been unconscious for days."

"I've never performed magic that complicated or that powerful before," Stiles admitted. "It wasn't just one spell. I basically strung half a spell book into one casting that simultaneously removed the chaos magic cast on us, cursed it back on the sender in some pretty gnarly ways, and then protected us and our loved ones. I spread the protection spell over our relatives, Pack, and Scott's Pack. I also included provisions so that if anyone but me attempts to undo the protection spells, they won't live long enough to regret that decision."

"That sounds like some pretty complex spell work," Derek said, not even completely sure he followed. "You had us all worried, though. You should have warned me it was going to take so much out of you."

"I honestly didn't know," Stiles admitted. He gazed at Derek. There was such love and devotion gazing back at him that he knew the spell had worked.

It took more than a week for Stiles to fully recover. Gabe and Aria kept checking in on him to make sure he was alright. It helped to know that they cared as much as they did, given his recent insecurities. They insisted on trying to read to him, bringing him flowers, and discussing their days at school.

When it was just him and Derek, they cuddled and kissed and told each other "I love you."

"So now how do we find this person?" Derek asked.

"Once he does something to trigger the defensive portion of the spell I cast, I'll be able to locate him," Stiles replied.

"And then what?"

"We take him out," Stiles said.

"I'm worried," Derek admitted. "What happens if the magic you use to take him out is as powerful as the magic you used to send the chaos curse back?"

Stiles shook his head. "It's battle magic. And I'm really good at that."

"Can you join up with other… Wizards?"

Stiles laughed. "We didn't go to Hogwarts, Derek."

"Warlock?" Derek asked. Stiles shook his head. "Sorcerer?"

"I honestly don't know what the correct word we should use is," Stiles admitted.

Derek chuckled a little and looked down.

"What?" Stiles asked.

"It's stupid," Derek said as he turned away, but grinned more broadly.

"Tell me!" Stiles urged.

"Do you promise you won't think it's stupid?"

"I promise!"

Derek sighed. Stiles thought that if he concentrated, he could see his husband summoning the courage to say it. He looked up slightly as he finally said the words, "Emissary with Benefits."

Stiles laughed so hard he fell over. He laughed for so long his face and sides hurt and tears streamed down his cheeks. He made several unsuccessful attempts to compose himself, but each one of those ended in yet another fit of raucous laughter. At first, Derek was caught off-guard, then insulted, then when he realized that Stiles was genuinely pleased with the idea, he, too, joined in the laughing. Aria and Gabe came to their parents' room and stood in the doorway watching as both their dads were doubled over, unable to move.

"Are they alright?" Gabe whispered worriedly, not peeling his eyes away.

His sister shook her head. "Gown-ups are weird."

The lights were turned down low and the candles were lit. A bottle of wine was breathing in the decanter and Stiles had personally curated the playlist on Spotify. He wasn't as good of a cook as Derek, so he instead used his magic to conjure takeout from the restaurant where they went on their first date. Though they were definitely in a better place now that the chaos magic had been removed, Stiles wanted to keep it that way. He read that romantic gestures like this could help ensure the life of the spark in their marriage.

All he needed now was to wait for Derek to get home, which would be any minute. When Derek came through the door, he seemed shocked by the sight before him. "What's all this?" he asked.

"It's our date night," Stiles replied. He pulled the chair out for Derek. "Do you like it?"

"Everything looks so great," Derek said as he took it all in. "Wait a second… are these the meals we had on our first date?"

Stiles smiled and nodded. Derek pulled his head in and kissed him deeply. "It wasn't too much?" he asked when the kiss broke. "I know it's sort of corny and we don't really do things like this so…"

Derek silenced him by placing a finger on his lips. "It's perfect. Every bit of it is perfect." They ate slowly as they talked about their respective days. Derek had been to a meeting of the Alphas in the area. Some of them could sense the growing presence of magic in the area. Stiles had spent the day with the kids and his dad, who was watching them now so that they could have their date night.

"Gabe's eyes almost popped out of his head when Dad said they could ride in the cop car," Stiles laughed. "Aria was just about as excited as her brother."

When they were done eating, Stiles guided Derek into the living room and pressed play on his iPhone. The song that filled the house was the one they danced to at their wedding. Derek pulled Stiles tightly against him as they rocked back and forth in a small circle. Stiles' head rested against Derek's shoulder as he inhaled the scent of him.

"Stiles, you have become so important to my world," Derek said. "Even through the crap we've been put through lately… without you and our kids, I wouldn't be the person I am today. I don't tell you enough how much you mean to me."

Stiles smiled. "I feel the same way. It's like the one consolation prize we have for this hell we've gone through is that we remembered why we fell in love in the first place."

Their night of romance culminated with them having intense sex on the staircase after Derek encouraged him to cast the spell that could help him get pregnant. They fell asleep in their bed after having sex a few more times. Derek's hand rested on Stiles' belly with the hopes that it would soon be growing his third child.

When they woke up the next morning, Derek asked if the spell was still in effect and they tried several more times. The upcoming full moon was fueling Derek's heightened libido, but Stiles wasn't complaining. They showered separately before heading to his father's house to pick up the kids.

"Daddy!" Gabe called, tackling Stiles from across the room. Stiles picked him up and swung him around. He cackled with glee. "Can we go to the park?"

Stiles looked toward Derek for his input. The Alpha gave a subtle nod and said, "I don't see why not!"

Both children exalted in the news.

"Well if you guys are going to the park, I think that means Grandpa deserves another hug," Noah said.

Aria and Gabe wriggled out of their parents' arms and gave their grandfather tight hugs. "We love you, Grandpa!" Aria chimed.

"Why don't you two get in the car so I can talk to your parents," Noah suggested. They scampered off to do as they were told and Noah addressed his son. "They said you stopped fighting," he said when they were out of earshot.

"We did," Stiles admitted. "There was a spell cast over us. It started causing us to fight. I removed the spell and protected us against any more like it."

"Yeah, and you nearly killed yourself in the process," Noah replied. "Your kids understand far more than you realize. They're worried."

"We know, sir," Derek spoke up. "We've been trying to figure out how best to deal with this person. Unfortunately, we don't even know who he is or what he wants."

Noah sighed. "If it weren't for those kids, I'd wish you just left this magic crap alone."

"Believe me when I tell you that sometimes I feel the exact same way," Stiles replied.

Noah pulled his son in for a hug before they left.

The park was crowded. Almost as soon as they got there, Gabe and Aria dashed into the frenzy of children lost in their imaginative play. Stiles and Derek found a park bench where they could easily view the majority of the area.

"Is it too soon to tell if we'll have a third?" Derek asked.

"Just a bit," Stiles replied. "I should know tomorrow."

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed."

The sun was beginning to set and the park was starting to clear out when Stiles felt a sudden clench in his chest, followed by Aria's sharp scream cutting through the dusk. Both Stiles and Derek sprang to their feet. Behind the giant jungle gym, Aria was clamping down on the leg of a man who was trying to cart off a kicking and biting Gabriel. "Let my brother go!" she said between stabs of her claws and teeth into the man's leg. He kicked hard, sending her flying. She hit the slide and crumpled.

The magic in his veins came alive at the sight of his daughter being thrown and his son being carried off. A sweeping motion of his hand and nobody without at least the spark of magic that all supernatural creatures possessed were frozen and the area was warded to keep everyone from either coming or going. "Put my son down," Stiles demanded. "Put him down and I'll kill you quickly. Hurt him in any way and not even death be enough to ease the pain I'll put you through."

Stiles fired blast after blast at the man, attempting to get him to release Gabe, but the man held on. Stiles fired off more magic, this time meant to cause pain.

After ensuring that Aria was alright, Derek, in his wolf form, tackled the man. His bared teeth snapping closely at the man's throat. The force of hitting the ground caused him to lose his grip on the young boy who moved quickly to get away. Derek shifted back. Stiles used the ground to trap the man.

"Stiles… look who it is…" Derek said. His eyes were wide and he looked clearly shaken.

As Stiles approached, he saw the face of the omega that Peter had been so enthralled by. The look of fear on his face faded as he laughed and broke free of the magical restraints Stiles had placed on him.

"Your magic isn't as strong as mine," he said. "That little counter curse you sent after me? I nearly pissed myself laughing." His face changed to one Derek recognized. It was the face of man who had appeared in their bedroom that night.

"Who are you?" Derek demanded. "What do you want from us?"

"I'm someone who earned my magic the old-fashioned way. The hard way. Instead of these simple deals you pretenders make with the Trickster deities," the man said. "But if you need a name, I've gone by many… most recently Corann and Weylyn."

Stiles' jaw dropped. "You're not supposed to exist…" he whispered.

"Stiles just kill him!" Derek demanded. "Or I will."

"You can't kill him, Derek," Stiles snapped. "Neither can I."

"That's right, little druid," Weylyn mocked. "It appears you know my story, so I'd like you to tell your mutt who I am and why neither of you can kill me no matter how hard you try."

"His real name was lost to time, even to him. He's one of the sons of Laocoön. He can't die because Zeus cursed him to live forever, never to be with his family in Elysium. The key to breaking his curse was tied into his name and banished," Stiles said. "So now he acts as a permanent bridge between wolf, human, and druid. He has power over Werewolves because he's one of the original werewolves. My magic can't kill him because he can't be killed."

"But what does this have to do with us? Why do you keep trying to kill Stiles?" Derek demanded. "And why did you go after my children?"

"Because Zeus didn't do a good job. One person figured out my name, but to keep him from giving it to me, he was trapped," Weylyn said. "When your husband freed him and made the deal that gave him his magic, the contract he signed… the contract that runs in his veins contains my name. Loki can't tell me himself as long as Stiles lives. Therefore, Stiles needs to die. But for my name to be released, he must die by his own hand."

"I'll never kill myself, so you can fuck right off with that," Stiles spat. "And just because you can't die doesn't mean I can't hurt you." Stiles looked over at his daughter who still hadn't moved and turned back to Weylyn before speaking words that were like fire and death. A burst of violet light erupted from his hands and Weylyn screamed more loudly than any banshee Stiles had ever heard. A searing pain ripped through him as well. It was blinding in its intensity and Stiles fell to his knees as he grabbed his sides. Every nerve in his body hurt. Weylyn disappeared and the pain ended.

"Stiles, what the fuck was that?" Derek asked, a horrified look coloring his handsome face. Instinct told him he had just witnessed magic that should never have been cast in the first place.

"It's one of the six Forbidden Acts," Stiles replied when he could finally manage to talk. He'd never experienced something so painful before. His nerves still vibrated with the aftershocks of it. "I shouldn't have cast it… but he hurt my kids. I couldn't let him get away with that."

"What did you do to him?" Derek demanded. "And what did it do to you?"

"The Forbidden Acts are feats of magic that are possible, but should never be used under any circumstances because they weaken the barrier that separates us from death. They can only be cast by those who have been dead before because you have to be able to speak the language of death itself," Stiles said. "In order to perform one, you have to have successfully performed the one before it. The further you go through the Acts, the harsher the punishment for doing so."

"That doesn't explain… what just happened?"

"I set the Torment of the Wicked on him, it's the second of the six acts," Stiles said as Derek helped him to his feet. "As punishment, I felt some of that torment myself."

There was a moment of silence as Derek pieced together what his husband said. "Then you've cast the first one already?" Stiles nodded. Derek sighed. "What was it?"

Taking a deep breath, Stiles looked over at his children. "The forging of life where none should exist."

Chapter Text

Gabe's shrieks were blood-curdling. His body trembled and his heart raced, even as Stiles held him close. "It's alright, Gabriel… I'm right here," he cooed into his son's ear, stroking his hair. The night terrors were getting worse. Gabe had begun sleeping in his parent's bed because he was petrified that he'd be taken again. The result was that neither Stiles nor Derek got much sleep because Gabe usually woke in the middle of the night scratching and clawing at a monster who wasn't there.

He was partially transforming, which worried Derek. "Aria can only get her claws and fangs to come out when she's angry. At his age, Gabe shouldn't be able to transform at all. This could affect his inner wolf and even his ability to control his shifts for the rest of his life."

What frustrated Stiles the most was how helpless he felt in the situation. He, of all people, knew what it was like to be afraid to close your eyes. Since being possessed by the Nogitsune when he was a teenager, his relationship with sleep was a tacit acceptance at best. Gabriel was too young to have to worry about this. Yet he had just been through a harrowing experience and didn't know how to process it.

Gabe sobbed quietly into his chest as Stiles rocked him back to sleep. He looked over at Derek who watched with the same helpless frown. It took a while for Gabe to fall back to sleep. Still, Stiles continued to caress his head. "I wish there was more we could do to help him."

Derek replied in a low voice, "And it's not like we can tell him there's nothing to be afraid of… he was nearly abducted. He has every right to be afraid."

He looked so peaceful once he fell asleep. "I'm sure there are spells I can find that will let him sleep dreamlessly, but I don't want to resort to giving my toddler a magical Ambien."

"Magic works differently on Werewolves, too," Derek murmured. "There's no promise it'd work correctly on him."

Stiles pursed his lips. "I'm failing him as a father and as his Emissary."

"No, Stiles," Derek cautioned. "You're not. What kind of monster attacks a child?"

"Gotta give it to Aria, though," Stiles admitted. "She attacked back."

"I think he'll be good for tonight," Derek said. They slowly placed him in their bed and headed downstairs where Derek began boiling water for tea.

"I'm going to need something way stronger than tea," Stiles said as he sank into his chair.

Derek chuckled as he reached into a cabinet and pulled out a bottle of expensive scotch that had been given to them as an anniversary present. He poured two glasses. Stiles preferred on the rocks, whereas Derek took it neat. He turned off the stove and went to the table, bringing the bottle and the glasses with him. "So are we going to talk about the fact that our kids were created by a forbidden form of magic?"

"We can," Stiles replied.

"What price did you pay for us to have our kids?" Derek asked.

"If I tell you… you have to promise you won't be mad at me…"

"It's never good when you preface things like that, Stiles…" Derek complained.

"Each time the spell is cast, it's active for a couple days, but it comes at the price of a few months of the caster's life," Stiles explained.

Derek's eyes widened. "A few months? Stiles, how many times have you cast this spell?"

Taking a large gulp, Stiles finished the glass of scotch in his hand, poured another, then downed the second. "Roughly 40… give or take," he mumbled.

The Alpha rose to his feet in anger. "A decade!" he said. "You've given up a decade of your life already!"

"And I'd gladly do it again. We have two amazing children and I wouldn't live in a world without them," Stiles said.

"Promise me you will never cast that spell again!" Derek said. "Please… promise!"

Stiles nodded his consent. "I promise."

"We don't need a third child if it comes at the cost of you losing any more time!" Derek pulled Stiles into his arms.

"Well, it's a bit too late to put that genie back in the bottle," Stiles said into his husband's bare chest.

"What do you mean?"

"This last one worked," Stiles replied.

"Really?" Derek asked, holding Stiles at arm's length again before picking Stiles up and spinning him around.

"A toast?" Stiles asked when Derek finally set him back on his feet.

"No! You can't drink!" Derek protested. "You shouldn't have had the two you just had…"

"It's fine, Derek," Stiles chuckled. "I used magic to remove the alcohol."

They kissed the same sort of passionate kiss Stiles remembered from their wedding day. He could feel Derek holding himself back as not to hurt his husband—and now the child growing inside him.

"I was going to wait until we had solved our problem to tell you. I'm going to have to cancel some gigs so money might get a little tight for a bit," Stiles said.

Derek shook his head. "Money won't be an issue. What is an issue is the man who wants you to die by your own hand."

"I don't intend to kill myself so it's a moot point," Stiles said.

"And that's great," Derek replied. "But from what you've told me, magic and gods can have really capricious ways of interpreting these things. If you die in childbirth from the spell you cast, couldn't that trigger exactly what he needs to extract his name?"

Stiles stared into space. "Holy shit… you're right."

"Have you ever taken stock of when it is you're actually supposed to die, given your decade lost?" Derek asked.

"Under normal conditions, after the consequences of the spell, I should be around until my late 50s," Stiles replied. To his shock, tears formed in Derek's eyes. "Der, what's wrong?"

"I've only got about 30 years left with you…" he said through the lump in his throat.

"Come on now," Stiles patted Derek's chest. "If you focus on the future like that, you'll miss out on the present."

Derek squeezed Stiles tightly as he choked back his tears. He didn't like thinking about the idea of Stiles dying. He didn't like that his son was being tormented by nightmares. He didn't like that he had no idea what to do to keep his family safe. Feeling helpless was terrible for anyone. For an Alpha, it was far worse due to the animal instincts driving the need to protect what he cared about.

"Daddy, why is Gabe scared?" Aria asked at breakfast.

"I'm not scared, Aria!" Gabe shouted defensively.

"Yes you are! You're a scaredy-pup! That's why you've been sleeping in their room!" Aria shot back.

Gabe began to cry. In his frustration, he searched for the words that he knew would cut his sister the deepest. "Well… you'll never be Alpha!"

Rage came over the girl's face as she pounced, knocking Gabriel from his chair. "Take it back, butt licker!"

"ENOUGH!" Derek shouted, flashing his eyes the bright, intimidating red of a pissed-off Alpha.

The shout forced them to stop. Stiles used his magic to separate them. "Apologize to one another!" Stiles ordered.

Gabe crossed his arms and turned away. "I'm sorry you're an Omega."

"Gabriel Noah Hale!" Derek growled. "Never call your sister that again! Do you hear me? Now apologize—for real this time!"

"I'll say it, but I won't mean it," Gabe said stubbornly.

"You are more than just siblings!" Derek said. "You are Pack. That means that you make each other stronger when you love and support each other. You make all of us weaker when you fight like this."

Gabe turned and glared at his sister with a near-murderous scowl. "She should apologize first. She called me a scaredy-pup!"

Both Derek and Stiles turned to their oldest. "Well, he's right," Stiles said. "You called him a scaredy-pup first."

Aria, who had also been crossing her arms, dropped them and turned around. "I'm sorry I called you a scaredy-pup," she sighed exasperatedly. Turning to her parents, she added, "I only meant that he shouldn't be scared because I protected him."

Gabe rolled his eyes. "You might become Alpha."

Both Stiles and Derek knew that was the best apology they were going to get from their son. "You're both grounded for a week for fighting and name-calling."

The two children grumbled their protest but knew not to argue. They finished eating and got ready for school. Stiles was already casting magic to ensure that they wouldn't be able to use their toys and games during their punishment. When it was just the two of them in the room, Derek looked at Stiles. "What the hell was up with that?"

"It wasn't anything magical, I promise," Stiles replied. "Just normal sibling bickering."

"But Gabe… his not-apology… what the hell is up with that?"

"Honestly," Stiles replied. "That's proof that he's definitely my child."

After dropping the kids off, they headed to the loft to check on Peter. He was lying naked on top of his covers. It looked and smelled as though he hadn't shaved or bathed in a week. He seemed nearly catatonic.

"Peter?" Derek said, sounding soft, almost afraid.

"Just leave me alone, Derek," Peter replied.

"Peter, we're worried about you," Stiles added. "You're part of our Pack… we're here to help you."

Peter sat up, angrily glaring at Stiles. "You weren't here to help me when you used magic to literally throw me out of your house. You weren't here to help when I was being kept under a spell. And… I…" he seemed like he was fighting back tears. "I don't have my powers anymore. I can't transform… I can't feel my wolf. I'm just… I'm a human."

Stiles and Derek shared a concerned look. "Peter, get up, get showered, and get dressed. You can stay with us while we figure out how to fix this."

"Or I could stay on this bed and drink until I die," Peter replied. "I want to go through with that plan."

"Peter, no. We're family. I lost my powers and when they came back, I was able to fully transform. Maybe that's what's happening to you, but if it's not we can try to fix it," Derek insisted.

"And what if I don't want to be fixed?" Peter demanded, finally standing up. "What if I'm tired of all this bullshit and I really just want it to be finished."

Stiles shook his head. "Gabe and Aria love their Uncle Peter. If you won't do it for us, do it for them."

"Don't guilt me with your children!" he snapped. "I didn't ask for you to breed. I don't have any responsibility for the products of your horned up rutting."

"I shouldn't have to guilt you with anything! You're Peter fucking Hale. When someone takes something from you—especially power—you fight back and you make the bastard pay for it," Stiles replied. "So nut up and take a shower so we can work on getting your powers back and killing the asshole who took them."

Peter's nostrils flared. He looked as though he were about to say something in retort, but held it back—an action that surprised even Derek. He disappeared into the bathroom for a while before returning shaved and clean. After packing clothes into a suitcase, he pulled on jeans and a t-shirt with a deep v-neck while growling, "If you ever presume to lecture me again, I will rip out your throat… claws or not."

Stiles smiled happily. "It's been a long time since a Hale has threatened to rip out my throat. Is it weird that I kind of missed it?"

Derek simply chuckled as he headed back to the car. He knew his uncle was grateful for their offer, but far too proud to admit it. His suspicion was proven true when he was found on the living room floor with Aria and Gabe crawling over him in some game that Derek didn't quite comprehend. The three of them laughed. Gabe and Aria squealed and giggled as they wriggled out of his grip and then let themselves become ensnared by it once more.

After dinner, Peter helped them with their homework and even tucked them into bed. Derek watched in secret from the doorway as Peter spoke to Gabe. "I used to have nightmares when I was a kid," he told the young boy.

"Really?" Gabe asked in a small, shamed voice.

"Yes. It was bad… I woke up screaming and crying and afraid."

"Aria called me a scaredy-pup. I told her I'm not one… but I think I am," he confessed.

Peter convincingly feigned shock. "You? A scaredy-pup? Never!" he said. "You're brave. You're the bravest little boy I've ever met. And most importantly, you're a Hale. We've been around for a very long time because we protect one another. Our pack is ancient and powerful." He poked the boy's chest. "And you're lucky. You have one dad who's a powerful Alpha, just like his mother was and your other dad is a really talented sorcerer. Nothing bad can happen as long as they're around to protect you."

Gabe reached up and hugged Peter before snuggling back into his bed. "But how do I know if I'm safe?" the little boy asked.

Taking the stuffed wolf toy that he'd given Gabe on his first birthday, Peter tucked it under the boy's arm. "As it so happens, I asked Stiles to enchant this toy wolf. When you're having a bad dream, hold it tight and the wolf will chase off any bad dreams you have."

Gabe looked skeptical. "Really?"

"Yes! Really! You won't have any more nightmares as long as you've got this wolf."

Still not sounding convinced, Gabe gave a hesitant "Alright…" before turning on his side and shutting his eyes.

As he exited the room, he startled at the sight of Derek. "Why are you spying on me?"

"I wasn't spying on you," Derek said. "I was just admiring how good you are with them."

Peter shrugged off the compliment as he pushed past his nephew. "I was like that with you when you were their age," Peter reminded him. "I didn't become a bad influence until you were old enough that rule breaking got fun." He chuckled as he reminisced. "It was always so entertaining watching Talia get pissed."

"I got grounded a lot because of you," Derek said flatly.

Peter grinned. "That's why it was so fun!"

"Just promise me you won't take the same approach with them," Derek chuckled.

"My bad influence started the chain of events that led to our entire family getting murdered. I won't make that mistake again," he said somberly. "They're good kids, Derek. You and Stiles did a great job. Your mother would be proud."

Derek did something he didn't remember having ever done before. He hugged his uncle.

"I just don't understand why he has to be naked," Derek complained.

Peter stood in the middle of a series of concentric circles with runes and geometric shapes that Stiles had drawn on the floor of the basement in chalk. Due to the magical nature of it, Derek had a hard time getting his brain to focus on it. His wolf kept trying to get him to avert his eyes. Unfortunately, there was very little else to look at besides his uncle's naked form. His issue wasn't so much that his uncle was naked, it was that he was naked in front of Stiles. The sight of Peter's knot being forced into his husband came to the forefront of his mind's eye betraying the wound that was still in its healing stages. Peter wasn't responsible for his actions that night, but still Derek felt uneasy.

"Because if this works, there's a very good chance that he might fully transform and the clothes could result in him getting strangled or something," Stiles replied.

"Fair enough… but he has an erection," Derek complained.

"Neither of you should flatter yourselves," Peter said dryly. "Weylyn had me under his spell and we were fucking almost around the clock. My libido hasn't settled back down yet. Just cast the spell so I can turn back into a Werewolf and murder the bastard."

"Derek, you should probably go upstairs. The magic might affect you if you're too close to it," Stiles warned.

Reluctantly, the Alpha went upstairs, leaving his husband and his naked uncle alone.

Stiles flipped the pages of his spell book. "This spell is really complicated. It's probably best that you don't move at all."

"I know you're trying not to look at my dick," Peter said.

"Shut up or I'll send your dick into a volcano," Stiles replied.

He set the book down so that he could see it, but still had full use of his hands as he began the spell. He struggled through the ancient Gaelic part of the chant. It was a modified version of the spell cast on Laocoön and his sons by the original Druids. The difference was that they had already been turned into wolves and the Druids gave them the ability to change back and forth. Stiles had to start by turning Peter into a wolf and then working from there.

As the chant began, the outermost circle erupted in fire and the first row of runes began to glow an otherworldly purple. The chant switched to ancient Greek and then Latin before Peter began to cry out in pain. His body twisted and the sickening sound of popping bones threatened to make Stiles throw up. The innermost circle lit up with the glow of the runes drawn over them. They flew up onto Peter's skin. His agonized scream became louder still until all at once, his body sprouted fur, claws, and fangs. He crouched down onto all fours and the transformation was done. Standing in front of him was a large, gray wolf with glowing yellow eyes.

"How do you feel?" Stiles asked. Peter whined in response. Stiles wasn't sure how to interpret it. "I need to change the configuration of the spell designs so we can turn you back. Do you mind standing over there?" He pointed to the corner.

The majority of the chalk markings were erased with the spell, but enough of them remained that Stiles needed to scrub them away. It took a while to clean the chalk markings, but once they were gone, he began again, drawing new configurations of circles and shapes. This time, instead of chalk, he drew the shapes in a mixture of sap and ash from willow and yew before setting up an outer perimeter of alternating branches from both types of trees. Between each branch, Stiles placed one piece of moonstone and one piece of rhyolite. When the setup was complete, he asked Peter to return to the center of the circle. "I want you to focus on being a human," he told Peter. "The transformation back should be far less painful and feel like your normal shifts from before."

The spell Stiles began reciting sounded like the roll of thunder and waves crashing against the rocky shore. A wind began blowing in the basement as the intensity grew. Still, Stiles continued the spell, watching as the runes reacted to his words. Peter's transformation began much less violently than before. A line of fire began at the outermost edge and worked its way in until it consumed him, burning away the fur and leaving his naked, human form lying sprawled on his back in the center of the diagram.

He breathed hard.

"Do you feel like yourself?" Stiles asked.

"I was burned alive. Twice. I was locked in a coma feeling each cell heal one by one. I was killed and resurrected. None of that came close to whatever the fuck you just did," Peter said.

"I didn't tell you it was going to hurt because I thought it would scare you off," Stiles said as he knelt beside him.

Peter gazed up at him. "Thank you, Stiles. Thank you for fixing me."

"You're a part of the Pack, Peter," Stiles replied. "Of course I would help you."

"Even after I fucked up your marriage?"

"You didn't fuck up my marriage. I did," Stiles sighed. "But thankfully, Derek and I are finally in a good place again."

Peter reached up and placed his hand against Stiles' cheek. "You're good for him, you know. It sucks that it wasn't me you fell in love with. Maybe you could have brought me back from the dark places too."

Stiles was taken aback. "Peter… I…" he couldn't find words. Instead, he backed away, feeling incredibly uncomfortable by the way Peter was touching him. He was incredibly aware of Peter's nudity and the fact that, despite the darkness of the basement, Peter was probably able to see how flustered he was.

Peter shook his head as he sat up. "I don't mean it like that. Any feelings I'd have had for you would have been toxic and corrupting. It's the kind of person I am. It's just… all these experiences I've had made me realize that I wasted so much time pursuing power and being spiteful that I missed out on the chance to have a family. The Desert Wolf wasn't the kind of person to settle down and have a family with… but I didn't get to raise Malia. I didn't get to be a father."

"You have more time, you know," Stiles told him. "It's not too late for you."

Peter smiled. "It is, though, but you're very kind for saying that."

"What brought all of this on, Peter?"

"Like I said before, I spent my life trying to consolidate power and for what?" he replied. "Losing my power completely, lying in that bed… it gave me time to think that I have nothing to show for my life. My legacy is death and destruction."

"You're being melodramatic," Stiles said dismissively. "Go upstairs and go to bed. Tomorrow we try to figure out how to get our revenge."

Stiles took his own advice. Derek was in bed, reading. "Did it work?"

Stiles nodded as he pulled back the covers and crawled in. "Yep. He's back to normal."

After marking his page, Derek placed the book on his bedside table and moved closer to Stiles. "We've got our bed back, finally…"

"I know… finally we'll be able to sleep!" Stiles said through a yawn.

"Do you know what will help us sleep better?"

"Turning off the light?"

"I was going to say sex, but…"

Stiles' eyes opened wide. "OH! Yeah… let's do that first!"

They showered each other in kisses as they worked at peeling off one another's clothes. Stiles grasped Derek in his hand and slowly worked up and down his length, watching the look of ecstasy on his husband's face.

In the basement, Peter was still lying there in the same spot Stiles had left him. His newly returned hearing painted a vivid picture of what was happening in his nephew's bedroom. He crawled to the dirty laundry basket at the far end of the room, searching until he found something of Stiles'. His cock twitched and drooled as he closed his eyes. One hand found its way between his legs, the other held the garment to his nose and mouth as he breathed in the musky perfume.

His front teeth sank into his lips until he tasted the metallic tang of his own blood. Some of the blood soaked into the fabric of the boxers he held. His hand worked faster and faster. He remembered the sight and feel of the pale body bent over in front of him. The way his hole clenched greedily around the intrusion. Peter tried to imagine the interaction without the fear and pain caused by the psychopath that had been steering his thoughts. He remembered the greedy, hungry way Stiles took him into his mouth… he tried to imagine Stiles sober, begging for it. Wanting it.

Peter's hips bucked into his tight grip as the scene played out in his mind. The sound of Stiles' release triggered his own. His seed shot powerfully from his engorged cock, He whispered the Druid's name, loving the way it tasted on his tongue after such a powerful orgasm. The afterglow was the only thing missing, but he could trick himself into that, too.

He threw the boxers back onto the pile and headed upstairs to take a cold shower. He felt guilty for what he had just done. It seemed like a violation of their trust, but the guilt only made it that much sweeter. He had a way he could live that fantasy, yet Stiles and his nephew's marriage would remain in-tact and most importantly: Stiles remained outside of his corrupting, polluting grasp.

Chapter Text

It was like being a pre-teen all over again… first learning to shift, to control his emotions and his urges… the urges to kill, to maim, to fuck. His body vibrated constantly with the desire to do any one of those things… or all three. He didn't actually care at this point. He tried the mantra his sister taught her children… Alpha, Beta, Omega. It didn't work. He needed a new anchor. He needed a new tether to his humanity because he knew that without it, he'd revert to his murderous, scheming ways.

The only problem was that the one person he wanted as his Anchor couldn't be. He didn't know why he wanted Stiles so fucking much. There were times when being in the same room was so unbearable that he had to escape by any means necessary.

Peter Hale had always prided himself on his complete mastery of being a Werewolf… of knowing the secrets of his kind that even the most experienced Alphas had never even heard of. He ventured to guess that in his lifetime, he had forgotten more about being a Werewolf than his sister had ever even bothered to learn. She had always stayed within the limits of her morality and thus didn't know the true expanses of what her power could do… what the spark of the Hale Alpha, in particular, was capable of.

There was a steady voice in his head when he saw his nephew. He had to take to wearing large hoodies so he could hide his hands in the pockets. His claws and fangs were almost always extending in his presence… ready to reach through his chest, pull out Derek's heart and crush it in his grasp… destroy the body entirely to ensure it was never raised from the dead like he had been.

There was a time not too long ago that he would have acted on that impulse without hesitation. There was a time when he would have considered his own hesitation to be unforgivable and inexcusable weakness. There was a time when he firmly believed that morality didn't exist, only power and those too stupid or too weak to seize it for themselves.

His old anchor had been his rage at the world around him. He'd tried to teach that same philosophy to Derek. Peter thought they could all agree how disastrous that was. It wasn't until Derek chose a human as his anchor that he was able to find peace… to perform the feat that all Werewolves aspired to… to be so completely in sync with his inner wolf that he was able to fully transform into a wolf. The talent ran in his genes. The Hales had always had this power. Not all of them could achieve it, though. The closest Peter ever got was the hulking monstrosity he became while he was still recovering from the burns.

Derek choosing Stiles as his anchor had been the key to him achieving that equilibrium. Peter couldn't choose Stiles, though. Not now that Stiles had finally fixed his marriage with Derek… not after Stiles had invoked a ritual not performed in millennia to give him back his power. Not after Stiles saved his life. He was determined not to scheme against his family anymore. He was determined to be a part of the Pack and to do everything he could to destroy the piece of shit who was wreaking havoc on the people he had finally learned to love.

Peter could feel the oncoming full moon. It was his first full moon since the ritual. He didn't have faith in his ability to control himself. He stared off into space as he tapped his fingers methodically against the rich oak of the desk.

"Somehow I doubt that page is interesting enough to have been reading it for ten minutes," Derek joked. "What's wrong? You smell like anxiety. It's kind of overpowering and I can't really focus."

"I need you to lock me up tonight," Peter said softly. "I'm talking wolfsbane-cured metal, mountain ash, mistletoe, the whole 9."

"Why?" Derek asked.

"Because if you don't, there's a very good chance that I'll kill you," Peter said plainly. "I don't want to do that, so I'm asking to please lock me up until I can relearn control."

"What do you mean re-learn?" Derek asked. "Did you lose it?"

"I feel like a newly-turned beta. I've been doing my best to keep my shit together, but it isn't even night time and I already feel like ripping you apart," Peter said.

"I appreciate your candor," Derek said softly.

"I'm really trying, Derek… I swear. I don't want to be like I was anymore. I want to be good… but if I lose control, I could hurt you or Stiles or the kids and I can't do that. I care too much about you guys now," Peter said softly. "I'm begging you as my Alpha and as my nephew… lock me up. I don't care if you have to put me in Eichen House. Just get me the fuck away from your family."

Derek nodded. He could see how pained his uncle was by this prospect. It was a testament to the amount of growth he'd made as a person. The uncle he remembered more clearly would have easily succumbed to those instincts in an effort to once again become the Hale Alpha. "I'll make the necessary preparations," he said as he moved to his feet. He strode proudly—purposefully—across the room, pausing only once he got to the doorway. He turned around, "I can stay with you, if you want. Or have Stiles stay if it will be easier."

Of any of them, Stiles would be the safest. His magic was powerful enough to overcome Peter, Derek was certain. He pulled out his phone and texted his husband. How quickly can you put together a prison for a werewolf?

Stiles replied only moments later. Depends on which werewolf we're talking about, I guess.


There was no reaction for several minutes. Is everything ok?

Derek told him that it was and asked for him to come home. He was visiting his father, telling him the news that they were expecting a third child. He had no doubt that Noah would be overjoyed at the prospect of another grandchild. In truth, Derek hadn't had enough time to truly process that he was going to have another child. They had all been too busy trying to figure out how best to deal with Weylyn.

Stiles had been looking into what the Forbidden Acts might be able to do to help fix the problem. The only issue was that the prices of casting them became exponentially expensive and Derek refused to allow Stiles to pay them. Stiles refused to allow his children to grow up without both of their fathers.

When Stiles arrived home, he greeted his husband with a kiss. Derek then bent down to kiss his belly. Stiles laughed. He could already see a slight bump. His pregnancies typically went fast. Right now, though, he could explain it as a bit of a beer belly and cover it with a hoodie. It wouldn't be too long until he had to avoid going into public. Aria and Gabe also lined up to give Derek a hug and a kiss. He never felt so genuinely happy as when he had his husband and his kids all beside him.

"Go play," Derek encouraged them after a moment, needing some time to speak to Stiles. "Peter's really scared about what's going to happen tonight. I think it would be best if you stayed with him."

Stiles felt uneasy. "What if I can't subdue a rabid Peter?"

"If anyone can, it's you," Derek said softly. I think my presence would actually only complicate matters. He'd be way too tempted to try and kill me to become Alpha."

Stiles sighed. "Yeah, I can trap him in a mountain ash circle. I'll also get some of those sound emitters from Chris just in case he finds a way to break the line."

"It's going to be dark soon," Derek observed. "I'll pack some food for you."

"You're the best," Stiles replied.

Peter was uncharacteristically quiet as they made their way to a spot near the Nemeton. Stiles knew his powers would be strongest there. Peter's normally proud gait was restricted almost robotic. When they reached the spot, Stiles set the sonic emitters around a wide perimeter before establishing the mountain ash circle around his uncle-in-law. He made the circle wide, giving Peter room to walk around and sat just on the outside of the border.

Stiles passed a ham and cheese sandwich to him. Derek had thrown together sandwiches, chips, and drinks for them while they passed the time. Sensing a Werewolf in the area, there were no animals around and the night was eerily quiet.

"Are you ready for this?" Stiles asked, wanting to break the silence.

"No," Peter said softly.

"Remember to focus on your anchor," Stiles offered, trying to be helpful.

Peter took a large bite from the sandwich and chewed slowly before swallowing. "I don't have one."

"Peter, how do you hope to regain your control?"

"I don't fucking know, Stiles," Peter said. "You should have left me human. I would be less of a danger to you and your family."

"You wouldn't be yourself, though, Peter," Stiles said. "You've made so many improvements, but you're a Werewolf. It's not just what you are, it's who you are. You wouldn't have been happy as a human."

"What else do I possibly have, Stiles?" Peter asked. "I've got a nephew who doesn't trust me for a million reasons, not even the least of which is the fact that I fucked and knotted his husband. My daughter can't stand to be in the same room as me. I'm singularly responsible for the deaths of three quarters of my family. The Omega I found that I thought maybe I could claim, since he was the one thing that numbed the pain was actually a psychopathic Dorian Gray and stole the one thing that made me even remotely remarkable." Peter paced within the confines of the mountain ash circle. "Stiles, if you wanted to do what was best for our family… for the Hale pack, you would kill me."

"No," Stiles replied. "If you won't fight for yourself, fight for Gabe and Aria." He pulled up his shirt a bit to reveal the fuzzy belly with the slight baby bump. "Fight for the brother or sister they have on the way."

"You're pregnant?" Peter gasped.

"Yes," Stiles replied. "And I want him or her to get to know the real Peter Hale. The one I know exists."

"You need to get out of here," Peter said more desperately. "You're not safe with me. Especially if you're pregnant… I don't have something I can anchor my humanity to… what little of it I have left. Stiles, please!"

Stiles took in a deep breath. He paced the outside of the mountain ash circle, chanting something in a magical language. He then stepped into the circle and a large wall of rocks shot up around the circle, enclosing Stiles with him. "That magic I just performed… it's kinda powerful. The only way I'll be able to put the rocks back down is if I don't use any more magic for the rest of the night. You work best under pressure, Peter. So here it is. There are two lives in this circle with you. Figure out what you need to do to keep control or you kill us both. It's as simple as that." This was, of course, a complete lie. The magic he performed took hardly any effort at all and he could easily defend himself if he needed, but he didn't give away his bluff. Peter wouldn't learn that it was all a lie until after he mastered control over his wolf.

"Are you fucking crazy?" Peter demanded, tears began streaming down his cheeks. "Stiles don't do this… for fuck's sake. I get that you're trying to teach a lesson and help… but you're placing the wrong bet tonight. If I hurt you… or worse, killed you… that would be the end for me. I couldn't mentally come back from that."

"Then you know what you need to do. Focus on the thing that will keep you from hurting me," Stiles replied.

"I CAN'T!" Peter roared. "No matter what I do, it'll tear apart my family and I fucking hate you for putting me in this position!"

Stiles cocked his head. "You know what your anchor is… or rather what it needs to be, don't you?" Peter nodded silently. "Then why can't you use it?"

"Because if I do, it means I have to admit that once more, I've fucked over my family."

Stiles slowly, fearlessly approached the Werewolf. "Tell me. I'm not speaking as Derek's husband or a part of the pack. I'm speaking as the Emissary sworn to protect you. What is your anchor?"

Peter stared at him angrily. He was furious to be in this position. "It's you," Peter said. "I've known it since the night you got my powers back for me. It's you. But even saying those words out loud is enough to warrant Derek executing me. You're his Claimed Mate. His True Mate. Do you know what that means?"

"It means we're meant for each other."

Peter sighed. "It's so much deeper than that, Stiles. For two people to be True Mates, it means that there is no instance of reality in which you two do not end up falling in love. The gods could shuffle that deck a trillion times, but you would still be there… meant for one another. For me to think I have some kind of claim to you as my anchor… it's blasphemous. It's treasonous to my Alpha. You are Derek's. You've always been Derek's and you will always be Derek's in this realty and every single other one."

"That doesn't explain why I can't be your anchor," Stiles replied.

"Because for you to be my anchor… it means I have to admit to a degree of love that I should not have. You and I fooled around when you were younger… it was because it was fun and secretive and Derek hadn't discovered your bond yet and there weren't any real emotions. It was just sex. You wanted to get fucked and I wanted to fuck a virgin. When we fucked the night Weylyn attacked, I was being tortured and you were so heavily intoxicated it wouldn't have mattered anyway. But since the night you gave my powers back, I've had feelings that are wrong. And now that I'm trapped in here with you and your scent," Peter choked back a sob of frustration. "I don't honestly know that I won't be able to stop myself. I could end up raping you... murdering you, Stiles and it would kill me."

It, admittedly, threw Stiles off-guard to hear Peter's confession, but his resolve remained. "I don't care about the Werewolf politics of it. We can sort that out later. I care about you as a person and as a member of the Pack that I swore a sacred oath to protect. You need to regain your control and this is the only way you're going to be able to do it. Either we both walk out of here tomorrow morning, or it's just you."

Peter could feel the pull of the full moon on him. He was fighting with every ounce of strength he had. He hated Stiles for putting him in this position… for so casually playing with his own life. The pressure built up within him like a powder keg. He vainly fought to prevent the transformation, but couldn't. His fingernails extended into deadly sharp claws. His eyes burned brightly with the icy blue of a Beta who had killed. His normally perfectly-straight teeth extended into jagged fangs designed to shred and tear. His ears elongated to points.

He could see the slight pulse of blood in the veins of Stiles' neck. He could hear the steady heartbeat, smell the off-putting sweet scent of magic. His instincts told him to be cautious… but to still strike to kill. He let out a deafening roar that echoed back more profoundly in the small confines of the circular enclosure. He slowly approached the fragile human, a menacing growl issuing from deep within his chest. He was hungry. A cold sandwich was nothing to a creature designed by nature to be the apex predator. He wanted to taste the sweet metallic tang of blood… to feel the soft skin and muscle rip as he swallowed it all down. He wanted to hear the brutal crunch of the human's bones as his powerful jaw snapped them after picking them clean.

He sniffed the air again. His mouth watered. Adrenaline. The prey was afraid. The fear would only make the meat taste sweeter. Another idea struck him… the meal would be so much better if he ate as he fucked his powerful knot into the helpless human.

"I'm not going to fight you, Peter. You need to control this on your own," Stiles said. "Are you going to kill your Alpha's Mate? Is the mighty Peter Hale going to cower to his primal instincts?"

It was taunting him. He answered with another powerful roar and picked the human up by his neck. He could feel the blood pulsing beneath his fingers. It would be so fucking easy to snap the neck. That was too quick, though. The prey wouldn't experience the agony of being eaten alive… torn to shreds and consumed as he watched, helpless to fight back as his body went into shock. He decided he'd fuck the prey first… defile the human whose Mate had once killed him. It would be the ultimate revenge. He'd rape and eat Stiles before tracking down his bastard nephew and killing him too… but not before the Alpha heard every depraved detail of how his mate died.

Stiles refused to fight back just yet. He knew Peter was in there somewhere… beneath the murderous animal instincts. "You're better than this, Peter. You've made so much progress. You've finally gotten your family back. Don't throw it away," he managed. Talking was becoming increasingly difficult due to the pressure being exerted on his throat. "Fight for your humanity."

"I… can't…" Peter managed to say. His human part was fighting. It was fighting harder than it had ever fought for anything before.

"Yes you can."

The instinct was so strong. It was like fighting against a riptide… it was easier to just let it take him wherever it intended to. Stiles' shirt hiked up a bit as Peter pressed him against the strong walls of the enclosure. He caught a glimpse of the Emissary's navel, the body hair that trailed down. The instinct took back over.

The baby. If any harm came to Stiles, the baby would be harmed, too. He couldn't hurt the human. The unborn child was too important to him. He could feel its pull and its influence stronger than the moon. It was stronger than the wolf inside him. It made his wolf cower.

His werewolf features faded away, leaving behind his handsome human face. He slowly set Stiles back on his feet and released his neck, the influence still pushing him further. Tears welled in his eyes as he realized what he had been moments away from doing. He dropped to his knees, his face pressed against the Emissary's belly. "I'm so sorry," he sobbed, clutching tightly to Stiles' shirt. He wasn't apologizing to Stiles, though.

He had no idea why the clump of cells growing inside his nephew's Mate would have such a degree of control or influence over him. He was momentarily glad for it, though.

Stiles ran his fingers through Peter's hair in an attempt to calm him. "You did it," he said softly. "You stopped yourself before you did anything to hurt me." He cast out his arms to either side of him, twisting his hands and fingers as a deep green glow emitted from them. The rock enclosure disappeared back into the earth and an outward whoosh of air dispersed the mountain ash circle.

Peter pulled away from Stiles and looked around. "You had your magic the whole time," he said softly.

"Of course I did. I wasn't going to leave myself locked in a tight space with no way to protect myself. You should have known me better than that," Stiles replied with a smirk. "That trick was actually really easy. Most forms of Elemental Magic are simple to pull off if you're also a Druid. And in the heat of the moment, battle magic can go at the speed of thought. You were honestly in more danger from me than I was from you."

Rising to his feet, Peter wiped the tears from his face with both hands and gave a silent chuckle. "You're a fucking asshole, Stiles."

Derek's strong arms snaked around Stiles' waist as he kissed the side of his husband's neck. Stiles moving past a beer belly level of pregnant and was beginning to feel self-conscious about it. Having been incredibly thin his whole life, he felt as though he looked much larger than he actually was. "Is it too soon to cast the spell to know if it's a boy or a girl?"

"It's not so much a spell as a ritual, but I don't see why we can't try," Stiles replied. "Meet me up in the bedroom in a few minutes."

"Should I be clothed?" Derek asked, raising an eyebrow hopefully.

Stiles sighed. "Derek, right now, I'm as un-sexy as someone could possibly be and it's only going to get worse."

Derek kissed his husband's neck again. Stiles always felt this way during his pregnancies, but Derek could never find him unattractive… especially while he was carrying their child. "If you keep talking that way about my husband, I'm going to get very angry. I'm married to the sexiest man on the planet."

Chuckling, Stiles heaved another sigh. "Then clothes are optional. Looks like you're getting lucky tonight."

Derek pumped his fist in the air victoriously. "Score!" he said. He left one more kiss on Stiles' lips before bounding off to their bedroom. Stiles went to the study and grabbed a crystal pendulum he used for scrying before joining his husband, who was, indeed, naked on the bed. He looked so perfect. His beauty always struck Stiles. It was something he knew he'd never become accustomed to. He still didn't know how he deserved someone as amazing as Derek, but he knew better than to question it. He simply thanked his lucky stars.

Stiles pulled off his clothes, blushing immediately as Derek's gaze moved to his protruding belly. Stiles saw Derek's cock twitch and couldn't understand how the Alpha could possibly be attracted by this sight, but he climbed onto the bed anyway, passing the crystal to Derek.

"It's been a while since we've done this, so just as a refresher, hold the pendulum by the end of the chain over my belly. Keep your hand completely still and focus on the question 'Is it a boy or a girl?' If the pendulum moves back and forth, it's a boy, in a circle, it's a girl," Stiles reminded him.

Derek was giddy. He loved being a father. He loved everything about parenting. It was something he was born to do and he did it well. He stole a long, deep kiss from his husband. "Are you ready?" he asked, barely able to contain his excitement. Stiles smiled and nodded. Derek did as he was instructed and they both watched carefully. The pendulum remained still. "It's not working…"

"You've got to focus," Stiles said. "Remember, Werewolves aren't supposed to be able to perform any magic, so it's a lot harder for you to do it." He reached out and held Derek's free hand, hoping that the flow of his own magic could assist.

Derek closed his eyes and concentrated. He felt the electrical heat of Stiles' power flowing through him. He visualized it entering the hand Stiles was touching, flowing up through his arm, across his shoulders into his other arm, and finally into the chain between his fingers. Slowly the crystal began to move. The movement was so small, however that they couldn't make out what it meant. Derek focused harder, pouring everything he had into it. Suddenly it picked up speed and began to move back and forth as if in a grandfather clock.

Derek's face lit up and he looked over at his husband. Tears were forming in his eyes. He was going to have another son. "It's a boy," he said softly at first, then repeated it louder and louder. His excitement was uncontainable. He pulled Stiles' head close to his, pressing their lips together and pushing his tongue into his husband's mouth. He certainly would have been happy regardless of the result, but he was already planning to go to the storage unit and pull out Gabe's old clothes and baby supplies. He was thankful he hadn't decided to sell them.

Peter sat cross-legged on his bed. A pile of books surrounded him. Sweat was pouring down his body. He had control over his wolf now. He had an anchor. But he didn't know why and it gnawed at him. He'd spent the last few weeks since the full moon hunting down every book he could on Werewolf biology and physiology. He couldn't just come out and ask what he wanted to know because he didn't want to say the words out loud.

He tossed aside the 48th book that was completely useless to him. Peter hated not knowing things. He especially hated not knowing things that had to do with him.

He picked up the next book and thumbed through the index, pausing when he saw an entry: Chapter 12: Werewolf Reproduction and Mating Instinct

Immediately he flipped to the page and began scanning. His heart stopped about halfway through the chapter.

Typically, toward the middle of the first trimester, the father (regardless of Alpha/Beta/Omega dynamic) will begin a feeling of attachment to the child. This bond is especially strong for Alphas, as the growing child would naturally be a Beta in their pack. These feelings of attachment generally manifest as a keen protective urge and an almost crazed need to ensure that the mother is kept safe, as to also protect the fetus. These are also accompanied by a renewed possessive and sexual attraction to the mother as a way of bonding to both the mother and the child.

This bond may differ for other Were-creatures such as Were-coyotes, in which the course of the pregnancy and birth results in a significant loss of power for the mother as she gives it to the child. Coyotes are not pack-creatures and prefer to remain solitary. In Were-Jaguars, there is no loss of power for the mother, but they prefer to rear their young alone and have no need for the presence of a mate once copulation is complete.

"God, please no…" Peter whispered. At first he had tried to rationalize it as a desire to protect one's own gene pool. The only issue with that was he had unscrupulously murdered his niece to become an Alpha and if he had to be completely honest, wasn't entirely morally opposed to killing his nephew if the need truly arose. The only thing really preventing it was the fact that he was putting forth a concerted effort to change… and he knew that Stiles' retribution would be worse than any hell he had thus far endured.

He closed his eyes and breathed deeply. "Maybe it's all just one big coincidence. Perhaps there's a simpler explanation." He didn't understand how it was possible, though. It was almost a year since he and Stiles had sex. He was completely sure he'd been fucking the Omega the night Stiles and Derek conceived this child. Certainly, the Omega had been Weylyn in disguise and he didn't understand a whole lot about magic. He and Weylyn had been having sex almost around the clock for weeks. Had that been the purpose all along? He was more confused now than he had been before reading that passage. He collapsed back on the bed with his hands covering his face. He let out a loud and frustrated "Fuck!"

Chapter Text

Since learning he was going to have another son, Derek couldn't keep his hands off Stiles. He seized every opportunity he had to kiss, suck, or fuck his husband. Hearing it through the walls of the house turned Peter's stomach. He knew the truth of the boy's paternity. Peter couldn't help but imagine that every time Stiles and Derek had sex, Derek's cock was poking his baby in the face.

He still hadn't come to grips with how he truly felt about it. He certainly didn't know how to tell Stiles and Derek. He was torn between excitement that he was going to have another shot at being a parent and the dread that revealing this information would cost him his family. Derek wouldn't believe that he hadn't slept with Stiles. They would inevitably return to fighting one another, lobbing accusations of infidelity.

Then there was the child to think about. He would have a son. He would have someone who probably looked like him that he could help through his first shifts, teach him the secrets that accompanied being a Werewolf. Peter was, to be quite honest, terrified. He didn't know if he was capable of being a good father… of ensuring that he always taught his son right from wrong. He didn't know right from wrong, himself. Perhaps it would be better for his son if everyone thought Derek was the father?

Peter heaved a heavy sigh and rolled over on his bed, screaming into his pillow. He had never been so frustrated before in his life. Without giving any warning, he packed a bag and slipped out of the house just before dawn.

He left on foot, despite his shiny top-of-the-line car being parked in the driveway. He got a few miles away before he felt bad and decided to turn back to at least leave a note. Aria and Gabe had become accustomed to his presence and would likely be upset by his abrupt departure.

It was a Saturday, so everyone was still asleep, allowing him to get back into the house undetected. On notepad in the kitchen, he scrawled a message.

Derek and Stiles:

I needed to get away for a bit. There are some things I need to work through on my own. Please do not look for me. Please do not try to find me. I'll come back eventually, but not before I've figured out what I need to figure out. Please tell the kids how much their Uncle Peter cares about them.

I want to assure you that I haven't returned to my old ways and I hope that neither of you are disappointed in me for my sudden departure, but I need you to trust that this is something I must do for us all.

He struggled to figure out how he would sign it. He settled on just his name. He placed the letter conspicuously near the coffee maker, knowing they would find it a little quicker when they woke up. He left his cell phone beside the letter, a clear indicator that he fully intended to be unreachable.

He dared not look back as he set off the second time. Wanting the extra boost of speed, he shifted and ran as fast as his legs could carry him.

Gabe was the first to find the note. Neither he nor his sister were quite good enough at reading to fully comprehend what was said, so they brought it to their parents. They both knelt at the foot of their parents' bed as Stiles and Derek read the letter together. They shared a concerned look.

"What does it say?" Gabe asked.

"It says that Uncle Peter had to leave for a little while and that he loves you," Derek said, reaching down and pulling his kids up close to him.

"But is he coming back?" Aria asked.

"He says he'll be back eventually," Stiles responded. The answer didn't seem to satisfy the kids who both looked downtrodden.

"You sound like you don't believe it," Aria pointed out.

Stiles had to give it to his daughter. She was extraordinarily perceptive for being so young. In truth, he didn't believe it. Peter had been acting strange for the last few days, particularly around him and Derek. It felt as though Peter couldn't stand to look at Stiles. He didn't know why, but it hurt his feelings a bit.

Wanting to distract his children, Derek suggested they make pancakes as a family. Normally, they would have cheered at the chance to eat that much sugary syrup. It was a testament to how much they'd grown to love their great-uncle that they didn't seem to care one way or another what they had for breakfast that day. "Go wash up and we'll meet in the kitchen to start cooking," Derek said, hugging them both tightly, before releasing them.

Once they were alone in the bedroom, Stiles finally spoke candidly. "Do Werewolves have mid-life crises? I mean… you guys age so slowly that there's no way he's actually at the mid-life point yet, right?"

"He renounced his tie to the pack. I can't sense him anymore," Derek said softly.

"This doesn't make any sense," Stiles said. "I can use a locator spell on his phone, if you want."

"He asked us not to track him. I'm going to respect that request, Stiles," Derek said quietly. "I want you to do the same."

Stiles sighed. "Fine, I will."

Chris Argent was awake when he heard the knock on his door. Ever careful, he eyed the handgun on the table near the door as he approached, still in his boxers. Seeing Peter Hale through the peephole twisted his stomach in anger and sadness. They weren't exes, exactly… but it felt like they were. Peter had been the first person he allowed himself to love after his wife died. His feelings were returned with a callous dismissal and assertion that they were merely fuckbuddies. Chris knew Peter well enough to know that the dismissal was because he felt the same way, but couldn't bring himself to admit it.

He took a deep, steadying breath before unlocking and opening the door. "What do you want?" he demanded icily.

"I didn't know who else I could turn to," Peter replied softly.

Chris scoffed. "You came to me for emotional support? That's really fucking rich, Peter."

"Chris, I'm so sorry," Peter started, but Chris put his hand up to silence him.

"I don't want to hear it, Peter. Am I supposed to believe that you're suddenly, magically emotionally mature enough to feel remorse? You're a sociopath. You use and take advantage of the people around you and you prey on the people who love you," Chris said, moving to close the door on him.

Peter quickly put his foot in the small gap. "Please, Chris… I've changed… I'm trying to be a good person."

"A leopard doesn't change its spots," Chris said.

"Then it's a good thing that I'm a wolf," Peter replied.

Chris hated Peter for the fact that he was amused by this comment. He sighed deeply before stepping aside, opening the door to allow Peter through. As soon as the door was shut, Peter pushed Chris against it, his right hand moving along the human's neck and shoulder, his left moving around Chris' waist and pulling him close. He pressed their lips together. Chris melted into it, parting his lips ever so slightly. The sensation of their bodies in such close proximity was a comfort to them both. Peter continued kissing passionately. He missed the sweet taste of Chris' lips.

When the kiss finally broke, Chris said, "I take it you had more of a purpose to coming here than just kissing me."

"I did, but now that you're in my arms, it's all I want to do," Peter said with a smile, resting his forehead against the other man's.

"What's wrong, Peter?"

"I'm going to be a father," he said softly.

"You're already a father."

"My daughter wishes I were still dead. I don't blame her. But I'm going to have another child," Peter clarified. "A son."

"Congratulations, I guess," Chris said. It was a bittersweet response. "Who's the mother?"


That got Chris' attention. "I thought he and Derek had reconciled?"

"They did. We're facing an enemy that's unlike anything I've ever seen before. I don't understand how, but he somehow managed to make it so that Stiles got pregnant with my child," Peter explained.

"I bet Derek's pissed," Chris remarked.

"He doesn't know. Neither of them do. I'm not sure how to tell them," Peter said.

"Fuck," Chris exclaimed.


After a few moments of silence as they walked toward Chris' bedroom, he said, "You look like you haven't slept in days. Why don't you get some sleep and when you wake up, we can tackle this whole thing you've got going on."

"Will you come to bed with me?" Peter asked.

"What are we doing?" Gabe asked.

"We're going to make a game out of naming your new little brother," Derek explained. "We're going to all call out names that we like. Daddy and I will write them down. Then both of you will pull one name and that's what we'll call him."

"I want to pick his first name!" Aria said.

"No I do!"

"I'm the oldest! I should get to name him!" Aria insisted.

"But I'm a boy so he'll like me more!" Gabe shot back.

"Rock, paper, scissors," Derek said. "Best two out of three and the winner gets to choose the first name."

Gabe won the game of rock, paper, scissors and gloated, causing Aria to start crying. Stiles pulled her up into his lap and stroked her long, beautiful dark hair. "Sweetie, you're still going to get to help name him."

"But what if Gabe's right and the baby likes him more?"

"The baby will love both of his siblings equally," Stiles assured her.

"Alright so are we going to call out names?" Derek asked, trying to focus his kids on the task at hand.

"Aaron!" Gabe suggested.

"No!" Aria said. "There's a boy in my class named Aaron and he's a butt. I can't have a little brother who's named after a butt."

"So Aaron's out," Derek said.

"How about Diego?" Aria suggested and Derek wrote down the suggestion.

"We could name him after you, Daddy!" Gabe suggested, staring wide-eyed at Derek who added the name to the list.

They continued for about ten more minutes with Stiles and Derek vetoing some of the suggestions off-hand for one reason or another. When they were done, Derek cut up the list and folded up each of the slips of paper before putting them in a bowl and tossing them around. He placed the bowl in front of his son who fished around until he finally chose a name. He unfolded it and stared at it for a few minutes. He then thrust his arm out. "I can't read."

It was nighttime and Peter still hadn't slept. He and Chris had spent the entire day having sex in every position they could think of. Even now as he gazed into the arresting blue eyes, the human was thrusting into him. Peter had always loved Chris' eyes. Peter's own eyes were blue, but not like Chris'. The hunter's eyes were chilling like ice, betraying a lifetime of killing and difficult decisions… and loss. The sadness that these two beautiful orbs held was the most profound feature of them all.

No matter how much they twinkled as he smiled, his eyes betrayed the pain he felt. Part of that was pain that Peter had caused him. That realization twisted in his gut like a knife.

As Chris came again—both men had lost count of how many times, at this point—he pulled out and finally collapsed beside Peter, unable to continue. This was how it had been before… when they were "together."

Chris rested his head on Peter's chest, something he did when he wanted to hide what he was thinking. Peter decided to respect that privacy, but still ran his fingers through the soft, brown hair, peppered with the odd gray here and there. He craned his neck to kiss the top of Chris' head as the two finally fell asleep.

He awoke the next morning starving. He realized that he hadn't actually eaten anything the day before. As sweet as they were, the kisses he stole from Chris' lips didn't actually constitute sustenance. In their sleep, they'd changed positions and Chris was turned away from him, but their bodies were pressed close together with Peter's arm draped protectively across the human's chest, holding him tightly. Despite the overwhelming urge to raid the man's kitchen, Peter stayed still, waiting until Chris woke up on his own.

Peter had forgotten how nice it felt to wake up in this man's bed, or to have Chris wake up in his. If he hadn't been such an asshole, it was possible that they could have been married by now. Peter was starting to hate himself for how sentimental he'd become lately.

Ever the early riser, Chris woke up a few minutes later. He was quiet in his first few minutes of wakefulness, trying to figure out if he was truly awake or if this had all been a cruelly-realistic dream brought on by his years of loneliness and heartache. When Peter finally greeted him with, "Good morning!" he realized it had been real. He wasn't sure if he was relieved or not, though. Peter had an extraordinary ability to cause pain wherever he went.

Chris' stomach growled loudly, protesting the way it had been neglected, prompting Peter to chuckle. "Wanna go get breakfast?" Peter asked, kissing the side of the human's neck and moving across his powerful shoulder and down his arm.

"Yeah, I can't remember the last time I was this hungry," Chris admitted.

"Only thing is… we need to go to somewhere a few towns over. I don't want Stiles or Derek to know where I am," Peter said.

"We need to shower. We smell like a brothel," Chris said before yawning as he stretched, finally breaking free from Peter's grip. They both slowly moved out of the bed. Chris went into the bathroom and started the water. "If you need clothes, you still have a drawer full in that dresser over there," he pointed. Four years later and he still hadn't been able to bring himself to getting rid of them.

Chris hopped in the shower and began soaping himself up. He heard the glass door slide open and felt Peter's body pressed up against his almost immediately. It scared him how easy this was… how quickly it had returned to the way their pseudo-relationship worked. It was true that they when they were together before, they spent a lot of their time having sex. He blamed it on the fact that he was dating a Werewolf and that they had higher sex drives, but if he was being completely honest with himself, it wasn't just sex. It felt a lot more like making love. Up until Peter happened, Chris had always considered himself to be straight. Peter had thought the concept of straight and gay was silly. "What does it matter what's between the other person's legs as long as it feels good when you're between them, too?"

In general, though, Chris wasn't attracted to other men. Peter was the lone exception and one touch from the werewolf could ruin him. He turned around to face the werewolf, the water pouring down his body. "What exactly is this, Peter?" he asked, desperate to know, but fearful of the answer.

"What do you mean?"

"Yesterday… the kisses, the sex. Waking up in your arms this morning. Does it mean anything?" Chris asked. "Because if this was just sex for you, then I need to know now before I let myself get hurt again. I love you too much to just be content as your go-to lay."

Peter sighed. He didn't want to have this conversation. Not because he didn't feel the same… quite the opposite. He felt the exact same way, but was afraid he'd fuck it up by saying the wrong thing.

"Please answer me," Chris implored after an extended silence. "I never intended to fall in love with a god damned Werewolf. I'm a Hunter, for fuck's sake. And here I am, in love with Peter-fucking-Hale. So I'm going to ask you again… did yesterday mean anything to you? Because I've spent the last four years trying to hate you—to forget you and all it took was one fucking kiss."

Peter studied his face. The human's eyes were more tragic than usual. They were a little red, too. He wondered if Chris was crying. It was impossible to tell in the shower. The scent of the soap did a good job of covering any chemo-signals that would betray his lover's emotions. "It meant everything," he said finally. "I just can't promise that I won't hurt you. I'm not good at the whole loving-other-people thing. It's part of the reason I'm scared for my son. I don't want to hurt him but I know that somehow, I will."

Chris could accept that answer. He could accept the fact that Peter was at least trying right now.

"When is Uncle Peter coming back?" Aria asked. She was hanging upside down from a tree limb.

"We don't know," Stiles replied honestly. She didn't like that answer, making it abundantly clear with a huff.

She stared mutinously at her father. "Tell him to come home now!"

"Sweetie, I can't. He left his cell phone here. I have no way to get in touch with him," Stiles replied, reaching up to take grasp of her small body. Once she felt the safe grip of her father's strong hands, she allowed herself to tumble forward and into his awaiting arms.

"Use your magic. He needs to be here with his family," she insisted.

"I promised your dad that I wouldn't use my magic to locate him. Uncle Peter doesn't want to be found," Stiles replied.

She was now perched high on her father's shoulders. She loved it when he carried her like this. She felt as though she were at the top of the world, and being so far from the ground made it feel like she was flying. "Please, Daddy!" she begged. "There's something wrong. I can feel it. I can smell it on you both and he needs to be here! He's part of our family."

Stiles lifted his daughter from her perch and turned her so that she was facing him. He studied her small face with intense curiosity. "Why do you think something's wrong?"

"The baby told me," Aria said, placing her hand on Stiles' belly. "I can see him when I'm asleep." Her lip trembled. Aria was such a fiercely strong and independent girl that it was easy to sometimes forget that she was just a child and prone to the fears a child would have. "He knows that Uncle Peter is gone and he's afraid."

Stiles desperately wanted to dismiss this as childish fantasy, but didn't exactly know if he could.

"Sweetheart, I'm never going to let anything happen to you or Gabe or him," Stiles said softly, placing one hand over hers. With the other, he gently wiped away the tears brimming at her face.

"He's different, Dad," Aria said softly.

"Different, how?" Stiles asked.

Aria shook her head and furrowed her brow in a way that made her look strikingly similar to Derek. "I don't know… but he's not like us," she said. Stiles didn't understand exactly what she meant by that, but didn't want to press it.

"Different is okay," he told his daughter. "You're different from the people in your class because you're a Werewolf. That doesn't make you bad, does it?"

She considered what he said. "No," she replied.

"So if the baby is a little different, we'll love him just the same. He'll still be part of our family and he'll still be part of our Pack," Stiles told her.

She pressed herself against him, wrapping her arms tightly around his neck. Stiles returned the hug, clutching his daughter to him. "Just please tell Uncle Peter to come back… the baby is really worried about him."

"Is the baby worried about him or are you worried?" Stiles asked.


"So what do you know about magic?" Peter asked. They were fed and in the car. At first Chris had wanted to return home, but Peter asked him to keep driving north, to the Redwood Forest. It would be easier for them to discuss what they needed to discuss if they were alone and isolated, away from prying ears.

"Quite a bit, actually. The Hunter dictum, nous chassons ce qui nous chasse, originally meant that we would hunt out-of-control Werewolves, but grew to mean all manner of the supernatural that posed a threat to humans. From a young age, we're taught as much as we can possibly learn about as many possible supernatural threats. I tended toward the creatures… Weres, kitsunes, and the like. We always assumed that the Druids might return in a more prolific manner and their power would only help antagonistic Alphas," Chris explained. "But we know that Druid magic is usually more ritualistic, herb and plant-based. There wasn't a whole lot of threat from it unless the Druid followed the dark path… the Darach path."

"But what about real magic…"

"Like the kind Stiles has?"

"Yeah," Peter said.

"Its power depends on the way you get it… and from whom," Chris said. "Those who are born with it are much more powerful than those who aren't, unless that person uses a higher-level god to get it. Who did Stiles use?"

"Loki," Peter replied tersely.

"Shit!" Chris exclaimed, his eyes bulging a bit at the revelation. "That's… that's rather intense."

"What about the sons of Laocoön?"

Chris squinted, as though he were trying to focus on something at a distance. He searched his memory for anything he might have come across regarding that legend. "The youngest was said to have been powerfully magical when the curse was placed on him. After the Druids helped him learn to shift, he became a sort of living bridge between magic and Werewolves… a physical manifestation of the bond between the Druids and Werewolves."

"Did your sources say anything about how to take care of him if he ever became a problem?" Peter asked.

"The book I studied was written in Celtic. There were three words that I never knew how to translate… they didn't make sense, even in context," Chris replied. "y weithred tabŵ."

"Gesundheit," Peter replied dryly. Chris chuckled. "What does it mean?"

"The words themselves mean the taboo action," Chris said. "But I couldn't figure out what that referred to. Whatever it is, it's said to be a magical blind spot for youngest son. It's a form of magic he can't perform and he can't protect himself from. It was said that the taboo action was a way to trick him out of his immortality and make him as vulnerable as anyone else without having to find his name."

"At least it's something," Peter said.

As they hiked through the park, both men felt at home in the wilderness, though for vastly different reasons. "So one crisis down… now let's deal with the other," Chris said.

"What do I tell them?" Peter asked. "Should I even tell them?"

"Could you live with yourself if you didn't?" Chris asked thoughtfully. "Could you watch your nephew raise your son and be content to sit on the sidelines for his whole life?"

"I honestly don't know," Peter replied. "I want what's best for him… maybe that means he grows up thinking Derek fathered him."

They continued walking for a bit in silence. Chris slowly inched closer and closer until they were walking shoulder-to-shoulder. He interlaced his fingers with Peter's and pulled the Werewolf's hand up to his lips, kissing the back of it. He could see the veins that snaked up the powerfully muscular arm and glanced over at the handsome face that stared back at him. Peter's expressions were always so unreadable. Chris gasped as Peter quickly turned and picked him up with little effort. He felt the hard, rough surface of the tree against his back and then Peter's lips pressed against his… Peter's tongue in his mouth. Chris kissed back and relaxed his body, knowing Peter wouldn't hurt him.

When they opened their eyes again, Chris was staring into the glowing icy blue of Peter's Werewolf eyes. He knew they meant that Peter had killed an innocent person, but they were so damn beautiful.

"They were yellow once," Peter said softly, noticing the way Chris was studying his irises.

"All Werewolves start out with yellow eyes," Chris replied.

"But they were yellow recently," Peter said. "When Stiles turned me back into a Werewolf. For a few days, they were yellow. It felt like I was getting a fresh start of sorts."

"Weren't you?"

"Perhaps," Peter said. His mouth attacked the human's again, kissing him longingly, trying to commit the taste of him to memory—as if he could forget it. "We could make a fresh start, you know… raise the baby as our own. Build a cabin in the woods somewhere… maybe Maine." He lifted his left hand, as if to emphasize it. He flexed his fingers before extending them again. "We could build it with our own hands, live off the grid. It would be just you and me and him."

For a moment, Chris stared at Peter's lips, watching the way they moved as they painted the picture for him. He saw the way the lips moved against the perfect, white teeth. He saw the stubble pushing from the rugged face, the way the lines formed around the Werewolf's mouth as he spoke. He looked back up to the eyes, which were alive and bright with the possibility and for a moment, he could see it, too. It took him longer than he liked to return to reality. "Kidnapping your son isn't exactly how you start the journey towards becoming a good person, Peter."

Stiles and Derek were awake when they heard Peter come in. He wanted them to hear, they were sure, or else he would have done it in a way that ensured they didn't discover him until morning. They pulled on pajama bottoms to go out and greet him. "Welcome back," Derek said, his arms crossed over his chest. It was an intimidating gesture performed more out of habit than menace. "The kids were worried about you."

"I'm sorry," Peter replied. "I just needed some space to think and gain some perspective on our situations."

"It's fine," Derek said softly. "And yes, you're welcome back into the Pack."

Peter smiled at his Alpha nephew, feeling the surge of power that pack membership brought with it. "Did I miss anything big?"

"We let the kids name the baby," Stiles answered. Peter replied with a raised eyebrow. "Kellen Peter Hale."

Peter's eyes became misty. His bottom lip trembled slightly as the fact that his son would be partially named after him sunk into his brain. "That's great," he said. It was the only thing he could bring himself to say.

"So did you gain the perspective you were hoping to?" Derek asked.

"Yeah, actually," Peter said. "Stiles, do the words the taboo action mean anything to you?"

"Not particularly, no," Stiles responded, cocking his head quizzically. "Why?"

"According to Chris, it's how we need to defeat Weylyn, but it's a sort of magic," Peter said. "That's all I was able to find out, unfortunately."

"We can figure out what it means," Stiles said. "Thank you." He let them sit in silence for a few minutes. "Aria will be glad you're back. She was worried about you. She said something weird to me yesterday."

"Really? What?" both Peter and Derek asked.

"She said that she was having dreams and that the baby was telling her that it wanted you back, Peter," Stiles said. "I think she didn't want to admit that she was worried about you. But then she said something about the baby being different from her and Gabe and I didn't understand what she meant by that."

Peter sighed. "I think I do."

Both Peter and Stiles looked at him imploringly. Derek uncrossed his arms and shifted his weight.

Peter swallowed hard. "Before I tell you… I need you both to understand that I don't know how and I don't know what his intentions were in doing this and I only figured it out because of what happened the night of the full moon."

"What happened the night of the full moon?" Derek demanded. His posture stiffened and a vein on his neck began to pulse.

"Before I was able to gain control, I was about to kill Stiles. I thought he might be my anchor," Peter began. A low, menacing growl issued from the Alpha's throat. "I explained to Stiles the impossibility of it and how I didn't know why I felt so drawn to him, but I was… ever since the night he gave me my powers back. I had him by the throat against a wall. My wolf was hungry… it wanted me to rip him apart and then suddenly, I saw his belly. He had told me he was pregnant before the moon rose and the sight of his belly forced me out of my shift. I couldn't hurt him because it would hurt the baby and my wolf wouldn't allow it."

"The baby is part of the Pack. Your wolf was responding to the instinct to protect your own blood," Derek said dismissively.

Peter shook his head. "You know I don't have any such instinct. Your older sister would still be alive if I did," he said flatly, staring intently at his nephew. He could see the wheels turning behind his nephew's intense green eyes. He watched as they flashed to the bright, glowing red of an Alpha. "The instinct for a Werewolf to protect his own child is absolute. It becomes his obsession. The only reason I didn't feel that with Malia was because your mother made me forget that she even existed and moved Corinne far away from me for the duration of her pregnancy."

"Shut. Up," Derek growled. "Don't you dare."

"How is that even possible?" Stiles asked. He felt nauseous. He suddenly needed to sit down.

"You conceived him while I was still under Weylyn's spell—back when he was posing as the Omega," Peter said, keeping a wary eye on Derek who was now shaking in rage. "I think he somehow used magic to somehow swap out Derek's seed for mine and ensure that you had my child. Again, I don't know why."

"He is my son!" Derek snarled.

"And he should grow up thinking that," Peter said softly. "You'll do a better job of raising him than I would."

Derek was visibly fighting the urge to shift. His fingernails extended into claws, scratching deep, brutal grooves into the dark wood of the table. Fangs protruded from his jaw and the menacing red of his eyes grew brighter still. Derek knew Peter was telling the truth and it didn't make it any easier to hear. He wanted to rip his uncle to shreds, starting with the throat that spewed such abhorrent truths. He was considering letting go of his control and executing his uncle for the treason of having slept with his Mate in the first place—a sentence that he suspended in the belief that he was above such petty laws of his kind. Now he was questioning the wisdom of that decision even if Peter had been forced to do it. Had he done what any other Alpha would have done, the child growing in his husband would be his.

The memory of the fact that it was Peter's insistence that led him to discover the truth and ultimately win Stiles back stayed his hand once again. He didn't know if he could look at this child day after day and accept it as his own. He didn't know if he could look at his uncle and suffer him to live.

Ultimately, though, he wondered what Stiles, Aria, and Gabe would think of him if he ordered Peter to take the child and never return.

Chapter Text

It was a habit all of the Hales had, when things were too rough to deal, they exerted that energy somewhere else. Derek couldn’t stand to be around Peter or Stiles, so he did something to keep his hands and his mind occupied. The workshop behind the house was largely unused, which ensured his privacy. Derek had begun the day at the lumber store, picking out wood that he would cut, sand, and paint himself. He ignored Peter when he came in, asking if they were alright. They certainly weren’t. He barely acknowledged Stiles—which he knew was unfair, and planned to make it up to him later. He just needed to do this one thing.

Cognitively, he knew that making the baby’s crib by hand was not going to make him the biological father. It was more the spirit of the action that seemed to drive Derek. He cut, sanded, and assembled the pieces himself, working with deft precision, making each aspect of it completely perfect. When it was done, he extended the claw of his right index finger and used it to carve the boy’s name. Kellen Peter Hale into the wood on either side. He considered leaving out the middle name. It had been chosen and allowed before he knew… but the cribs made for Aria and Gabe had their middle names on them, so Kellen’s would, too.

It was well past sundown when Stiles came out with a huge plate of food and a bottle of water. “It’s beautiful,” Stiles said softly, placing the food on a flat surface. Derek remained silent as he perfected the names. Stiles watched for a few minutes before Derek’s silence became too much for him. “Why am I being punished for this?” Stiles asked, his voice cracked with hurt and as Derek looked up, he could see the tears brimming in his husband’s eyes. “I understand that you’re upset… but this isn’t my fault and it isn’t Peter’s. I don’t understand why you’re shutting me out. Don’t you think that I’m upset, too? What Weylyn did was akin to rape. Neither Peter nor I consented to have a child together.”

“I know,” Derek said.

“Then talk to me, god damn it!” Stiles erupted, the air suddenly crackling with magical charge.

“What do you want me to say?” Derek demanded, his eyes flashing red, though he kept his back turned to Stiles. “Nothing I say and nothing I do will ever make that child not Peter’s.”

“Do you want me to get rid of him?” Stiles asked. He knew the precise cocktail of herbs needed to induce a miscarriage. Stiles would do it if Derek asked, but he would never forgive his husband for it.

His movements were rigid with the emotional pain of their discussion. “Why would you put that on me?”

“Because I don’t know what you want from me. I don’t know how to fix it in a way that will make you forgive me for this because it’s nothing that I did,” Stiles said. “I’m reeling, too. And I need to be strong for all of us, but I can’t do that without you. I need my husband.”

I need my husband, those words twisted in him. He was being selfish… he had planned to make it up to Stiles later without considering the fact that Stiles needed him now. He swallowed hard and wiped the tears that were falling down his face before turning to Stiles. “I’m sorry.” His voice was barely a whisper as he rung his hands a little, clearly unsure of what to do or where to go. “I’m so lost…”

Stiles closed the distance and wrapped his arms around Derek’s waist. “I am, too… but I can’t get through this without you.” He rested his head against Derek’s chest, feeling as his husband’s torso heave as he cried.

“I wanted him to be my son so bad.” Derek’s voice was thick.

Stiles took Derek’s hands and placed them on his belly. “Look at me,” Stiles said. “You and I are going to raise him no different from Aria and Gabriel. You will love him just like you loved them. Peter wants you to raise him, too. Our solution is right here. We can’t waste time fighting among ourselves because that’s exactly what Weylyn wants. He knows that apart, you and I are a lot easier to deal with.”

Derek kissed is husband’s head, neck, and shoulder. It felt good to just hold his husband in his arms for a few minutes and take in the silence that filled the night air. For his family and for his Pack, he needed to simply swallow this horridly bitter pill and accept the fact that Stiles was going to birth a child that was fathered by Peter. He was going to have to love it and accept it as his own because Stiles wouldn’t tolerate anything less.

A light breeze made the medley of aromas from the food dance through Derek’s nostrils. It was a sudden, stark reminder that he hadn’t eaten all day and was hungry. Picking up the plate, he brought a forkful of sautéed vegetables to his mouth and slowly chewed. He washed his first bite with a long gulp of water before finally deciding to change the subject. “Did you make any headway on that clue Peter got about Weylyn?”

“Yes and no,” Stiles said. “I’m certain it refers to one of the Forbidden Acts, but it’s not specific as to which one. Chris told Peter that it’s a blind spot for him and it’s a magic he can’t use and he can’t protect himself from, which makes sense. All of them require use of the language of Death, and he’s never died so he can’t speak it.  I need to find out exactly what it was that Chris said so that I can figure out which of the Forbidden Acts will take care of him once and for all.”

“I thought we agreed that we weren’t going to use any more of those?”

“That was before we knew they were the solution to killing the most dangerous enemy we’ve ever encountered,” Stiles replied. He stared into his husband’s luminous eyes. “I’m willing to sacrifice myself if it’ll save you all.”

“It won’t come to that,” Derek insisted.

Stiles ran his hand through Derek’s hair, tucking a stray lock behind the Alpha’s ear. “And if it does, I need you to promise to let me do what it takes.”

“Only if you promise to let me do whatever it takes to save you.”

“The kids need their Alpha a hell of a lot more than they need their Emissary,” Stiles said.

Peter made himself scarce around the house, not wanting to put undue stress on his nephew. He regretted telling them, despite the fact that they deserved to know. He sat in Chris’ apartment, pouring over texts with him, at Stiles’ request, trying to get a deeper grasp on which Forbidden Act was required.

“Magic users aren’t even supposed to perform them, that’s why they’re called The Forbidden Acts,” Chris said. “They’re hard to get information on because the few magic users who have cast them all, end up dead.”

“Stiles has cast two of them already,” Peter noted. On a legal pad, he had notes that he’d written, detailing what he’d discovered of the Acts in writings.

  1. Creating Life Where None Should Exist – time off lifespan
  2. The Torment of the Wicked – feel the torment in one’s sleep
  3. Return to Life Someone – Trade a life for the one you bring back

“Resurrecting someone isn’t going to help us because we can’t kill him to perform the resurrection,” Peter grumbled. “What’s the fourth one?”

“I can’t make out the name, but I can infer its effect,” Chris replied. “It allows the caster to take complete control over the target’s mind.”

“At what cost?”

“As best I can tell, the caster loses his magic for a time proportional to how long he keeps control of the target,” Chris said.

“How do we use this to save Stiles?” Peter said.

Chris narrowed his eyes as he studied the Werewolf’s face. “Please don’t get mad at me, but I have to ask you… Is it really Stiles you want to save, or is it the baby?”

“Both, if I can help it… but if I had to choose between the two, none of you would exactly like my answer,” Peter said honestly. “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”

Chris moved over on the couch and ran his hand up the inside of Peter’s thigh. “Enough work for one day or I’ll start thinking you’re using me for my knowledge.”

“And if I am?” Peter asked, kissing the human’s scruffy neck.

“I’ll have to punish you.” Chris smiled.

“That sounds like one hell of a way to spend the evening!”

Sitting across the table from Peter was difficult. Derek had to keep reminding himself that his uncle was as innocent in all this as the rest were. “Stiles, what exactly do you know about the Acts?” he asked.

“There are six of them. The order is actually based on the occult hexagram. Each point represents a specific planet, those planets, in turn, have different powers,” Stiles explained, drawing the symbol onto a piece of paper and labelling each of the corners. As he spoke, he used his pen to draw the path between the corners, representing the journey through the Acts. “You start with Venus, goddess of love and fertility. Creating life. Then, you move up to Saturn. Alchemically, speaking, Saturn is associated with lead and the burning of imperfections, that’s why this one is the unleashing of Hell’s torments on a living person. Third is Mercury… he was the only god capable of going back and forth between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead. This one is the resurrection of a person already deceased and it completes the upright triangle.”

“Why isn’t that the worst one? Literally nothing good happens when you resurrect the dead. Believe me, I should know,” Peter said, fully aware of the irony of his statement, considering his status as a formerly-dead individual.

“Because it doesn’t mess with the fabric of reality nearly as much as the last two.” Stiles’ face and voice were grave as he continued explaining. “The final three fall upon the inverted triangle because they are considered the most egregious uses of magic and they carry the steepest penalties. We start on the opposing corner from Venus, Mars. This one is the dominance of will… literally controlling another human being and using your magic to take away their free will. Next is the moon, which represents perpetual life, the ultimate ‘get out of death free’ card. Life everlasting. Last is Jupiter… or Zeus. He overthrew his father, Chronos who was the god of Time because he was a dictator and life under him was horrible for everyone. The last and most forbidden Act is to overthrow time… to rewrite history.”

“Which one is the key to defeating Weylyn?” Derek asked, trying to make sense of everything.

“Maybe casting everlasting life on someone who already has it does a sort of double-negative effect?” Peter offered.

“To the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever gotten to the fifth Act. They usually die before they can,” Stiles said. “Typically because other magic users sense what’s happening and dispatch that person before they can finish it. Casting these spells puts everyone in danger.”

“Then let’s not go that far? Let’s just stop at the fourth,” Peter said. Sometimes being an evil, conniving son of a bitch had its perks. “We use the free will one to force Weylyn to summon Loki and offer to pay the price of your magic. Loki’s a god right? Maybe he can lift the curse Zeus put on him since an immortal can’t exactly offer his soul as payment, right? If Loki decides to kill him right then and there, or if the effects of lifting the curse become retroactive, we don’t have to deal with him anymore. If he’s still able to live after, then we just square off against him and I rip him into a million pieces.”

Derek looked back and forth between his husband, his uncle, and the diagram on the table in front of him. “What are the costs for performing those two Acts?”

“To raise the dead, you must sacrifice a life,” Stiles said.

Peter strummed his fingers against the table. "So since we need to resurrect someone, who is dead that we actually want to see again?”

“My mom,” Derek replied.

“I miss my sister, too… but if she comes back, she’s going to murder me for what I did to your sister,” Peter said.

“Talia would be the easiest,” Stiles replied. “We still have her claws. That spell requires part of the person we’re trying to bring back. We don’t have anything of Laura and I don’t really think digging her corpse from the yard will be good for the kids.”

“She’s not in the yard anymore,” Derek said softy. “When I came back to Beacon Hills the second time, I had her buried properly.”

“Talia it is, then.” Peter sighed. “Now that we’ve decided that, who is still alive that we actually don’t want to see again?” Peter asked. “Personally, I vote Kate. I should have done a better job killing that hunter-bitch the first time.”

It was hard to argue against that logic. Kate Argent was the reason most of the Hales were dead, to begin with. “She hasn’t done anything to us recently,” Derek said, trying to be the voice of reason.

“She killed basically your entire family. I think trading her life to bring back your mom is a fair trade,” Stiles said.

“Fine.” Derek narrowed his eyes. None of it sat right with him. “The free will one… what’s the cost of that?”

“Temporary loss of my magic,” Stiles replied. “The exact duration is unclear. As best I can tell, it’s proportional to the amount of time you keep the other person under your control.”

Peter reclined in his chair, looking relieved. “Easy-peasy. We’ll protect you while your magic is out.”

“And that’s all fine and dandy,” Stiles remarked. “But the only way I’m pregnant is through magic. My body was never meant to create life in this manner and so the strain would kill me if it weren’t for my magic keeping me alive right now… and there’s no way I’d be able to survive childbirth without magic, assuming I somehow survived the pregnancy.”

Both Werewolves blanched. Peter looked especially ill at the revelation. “Then we wait for the pregnancy to end.”

“Are the protections you put up still in place?” Derek asked.

“They’re weakening, but yeah,” Stiles said. “But what if he forces us into it? He needs me to die by my own hand. As Derek pointed out, if I die as a result of the pregnancy, technically that’s by my own hand. He gets what he wants.”

“So let’s bring Talia back as soon as possible so we have the extra power in case we need it, and as soon as you’ve given birth to Kellen, we make our move on Weylyn,” Derek said.

“Speaking of Kellen,” Peter began. Derek stiffened. His nostrils flared and his eyes narrowed. “Have you decided how you’re going to handle the paternity issue?”

“He will grow up believing I’m his father,” said Derek, his flat voice left no room for argument.

“If something happens to me, though,” Stiles interjected, “I want him to know the truth. And maybe we can tell him when he’s older and he’s able to better understand.”

Peter’s throat went dry and a lump appeared in it. This was the outcome he wanted. Why did it hurt so much to hear? The reality of what he had given up was starting to sink in. He would have to be content to live his life watching his son grow up from a distance. He wouldn’t be able to rock his son to sleep, to soothe him when he was scared or sad. Peter was unsure he was able to withstand the heartbreak of hearing his son call him Uncle Peter, even if it was the best thing for him. Peter gave a slow, pained nod, every muscle in his body was tight from his strain to hold back the frustration he felt. Whoever said ignorance was bliss had no fucking idea just how right they were. “If there’s nothing else, then I’m going to go to bed,” he announced. He needed to have some time for himself. He couldn’t look at Stiles, glowing with his belly swollen.

He trudged up the stairs and as he passed Aria’s room, he noticed her door was slightly ajar. Something felt off. He took a moment to peer in. Aria moved fitfully beneath her sheets. Sweat collected around her brow and soft whimpers issued from her mouth.

“Aria?” Peter said softly, he placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Aria, wake up, sweetie. It’s just a bad dream.”

The little girl sat bolt-upright, her eyes glowing the bright yellow of a young Beta wolf. She trembled as she looked around, trying to catch her bearings. She let out a frightened yelp when she noticed Peter sitting on the side of her bed. Derek and Stiles rushed into the room, flicking on the light. In her terror, Aria had wet herself and was filled with the sudden shame of that realization.

Derek knelt down beside her. “Honey, it’s alright. You had a nightmare. We’ll get you cleaned up and you can sleep in our bed with us.” Stiles had already used his magic to begin drawing a bath for her in the bathroom down the hall.

“The baby,” she said softly. “The baby is upset because you three are mad at each other. Then the bad man came and said that he was going to steal something Daddy loves.”

Immediately Derek bolted into the other room to ensure Gabe was safe. He was asleep, his thumb in his mouth as he curled up next to his stuffed wolf toy. Derek gingerly picked his son up, careful not to wake him, and cradled the four-year-old in his arms. He wasn’t going to let either of his children out of his sight. “Stiles, you bring Gabe into our room. I’ll get Aria cleaned up. Peter, can you take care of the sheets and then call Cora and ask her to come back? We also need to figure out where Kate is immediately. I want to have the resurrection done by the end of the week.”

Each of them nodded and set to work. Stiles took his son from Derek’s arms and brought him into their bedroom as Derek picked up Aria and took her to the bathroom where the tub was already warm and filled with bubbles and the soothing scents of lavender and chamomile.

With one hand, Peter dialed his niece, with the other he stripped Aria’s bed. Luckily Stiles and Derek hadn’t yet removed the protective plastic from the mattress in case this very thing happened. Cora groggily picked up the phone as Peter shoved the sheets and blanket into the washer and turned it on. He relayed his Alpha’s orders and gave a brief overview of what had just happened. “I’ll be over soon,” she said before disconnecting.

Stiles thumbed through a book of protective magic, looking for something that could increase the security of their house. He threw up every manner of protective charm and enchantment, until he was so exhausted from his use of magic and lack of sleep that he collapsed onto the bed beside his son. He slowly stroked Gabe’s curly light-brown hair as he watched the child continue to slumber, entirely oblivious to the events that had just transpired.

Convincing Chris Argent that they needed to kill his sister was a tough sell. Stiles, Derek, and Cora watched as Peter took him aside to discuss the matter privately, their bodies too close… their mannerisms too intimate. They watched in equal shock as Peter planted his lips on the Hunters’ when he finally relented and agreed to help.

“It’ll be a few days,” Chris said to the group when the kiss broke and the two of them rejoined the other members of the Pack. “And I’m going to have to tell some lies I’m not proud of, but I think I can get her to come willingly. Be ready at a moment’s notice. I know her. The moment she senses something’s off, we’re going to have an army of Berserkers to contend with and she’ll disappear during the fray.

“We appreciate what you’re doing,” Derek told him. “I’ll never forget the debt my family will owe you.”

Chris shook his head. “It’s my family that owes yours. How about we consider the debt fully repaid after this?”

Derek shook on that and the next few days were spent in preparation of Chris’ phone call. Stiles’ dad offered to watch over Gabe and Aria when the call finally came. Stiles had once more redoubled the protections on the house, but went one step further by imbuing his father’s gun with powerful offensive magic and sealed the perimeter of the house with mountain ash for extra effect. Chris also gave him several cartridges of wolfsbane-laced bullets. “Shoot to kill,” the hunter had said.

Noah Stilinski looked nonplussed by the advice. “I’ve been a Sheriff for a long time, Argent,” he said. “If someone tries to attack my son or my grandkids, I’m going to make sure that there aren’t any pieces left big enough to bury.”

They met in a clearing near the Nemeton, that way Stiles’ magic would be at its strongest. Stiles set another barrier of mountain ash to ensure that Kate couldn’t escape.

She hurled impotent threats and curses into the night, shrieking at her brother for having betrayed her. “You’re choosing them over me? You’ve really changed, Chris, you know that?”

“And you haven’t changed at all,” Chris replied.

“I have duct tape, if you can’t manage to shut your trap,” Peter told her, his eyes glimmering just a little too much at the thought of seeing her finally die.

Derek and Cora stood close together and the Alpha eyed his husband. “Are you ready?”

Stiles nodded. He drew a triskele on the flattened stump of the Nemeton in dirt taken from a graveyard. In the center of the triskele, he placed Talia's claws. At the point where each spiral ended, he placed a pinch of ash consisting of wormwood, yew, thyme, and asphodel roots as well as a small piece of jade and a small piece of onyx. Peter gleefully held Kate in place, sad only that he wasn’t going to get to watch the lights fade from her eyes, since she was turned away from him.

Stiles held out a dagger that had various symbols etched into the blade. The way the symbols made the Werewolves' eyes hurt told them that they had to have some sort of arcane meanings.

“If I ever find a way to come back, I’ll murder you myself,” Kate hissed at him.

“You won’t be coming back this time,” Stiles said assuredly. He gave a subtle nod to Peter who forced her to lean forward so that her neck was directly over the Nemeton.

For the Werewolves present, the words of the spell hurt their ears. It made them queasy to listen to it and felt so wrong to the very core that Derek almost told Stiles to call it off before remembering why they were doing this. The sounds emitting from Stiles’ mouth spoke of fear and loss and the unnatural terror of what they were doing.

Si relgr de wer bekifi di wer thaczil di wer loex Talia Hale. Persvek jacioniv goawy, si majak svern Katherine Argent. Si tir nomeno persvek wer ominak di wer gewjic throdenilti naushindtor ekess nomenes svaust klae arcaniss. Spol jacioniv tenpiswo vur clax sia regipre. Si tor batobot jaciv morshin wer jennu daguam!” Stiles repeated the chant over and over as he drew the knife across Kate’s throat. Immediately his hand was covered in the rush of thick, warm blood. It sizzled as it made contact with the Nemeton. Flames burst from the center of the triskele. They had an otherworldly hue to them and danced in a way that fire shouldn’t dance. Stiles motioned for Peter to throw Kate onto the fire and he obeyed with delight. It was only fitting that this be how she died.

Kate tried to scream as the flames licked her skin. They weren’t hot, though. They were like ice, reaching into her and pulling out the spark of life within. Peter let go of her and she fell forward into the fire. She managed to look at her brother as they consumed her, pulling her down, further and further.

Stiles continued chanting as he watched Kate’s body disappear. The offering had been accepted, and he could feel Talia approaching. The flames shifted again, turning into a vortex of bright white. The claws rattled against the hard surface of the Nemeton before they were forced up into the air. Bit by bit, Talia began to regrow from them. It was grotesque to watch, but none of them dared look away.

He finally ended the chant when she stood flat on the Nemeton, fully formed. Her eyes were still the bright, powerful red of an Alpha. It annoyed Peter. Of course she would come back an Alpha.

Cora stepped forward with clothes, handing them to her mom, who pulled them on contentedly. Tears streamed down her face. Derek slowly approached, placing a hand on Stiles’ shoulder and one around his waist. “You did it,” he said softly, unable to take his eyes away. As Stiles looked at his mother-in-law, he saw where Derek got his looks, and he saw much of his own daughter in her features. The Hale genetics were strong.

“Cora! Derek!” Talia exclaimed, throwing open her arms. Her children rushed up to hug her. “I’m so proud of you,” she whispered in their ears and placed kisses on the tops of both of their heads. When their hug finally ended, she cast her gaze upon Stiles. “It’s good to see we have such a powerful Emissary.” She smiled and bowed her head deferentially.

It felt odd to be receiving such a compliment from Talia. Stiles didn’t consider himself worthy of such praise. “Thank you,” he managed.

She stepped off the Nemeton and embraced him. “Thank you for taking care of my son. I owe you a debt of gratitude I can never repay.”

“He’s the love of my life,” Stiles replied. “I’d do anything for him.”

“Clearly,” Talia chuckled knowingly. “You invoked The Forbidden Acts for him.” At last she moved on to her brother. Taking a deep breath, she studied him. He had changed so much. She hardly recognized him. Instead of a warm embrace, though, she slapped him powerfully across the face. The impact came so hard that Peter stumbled sideways, barely managing to stay on his feet. He felt his jaw dislocate and had to push it back into place. He spat out the blood that pooled in his mouth. His skin stung like fire. “That,” she said, “Was for Laura.”

Chapter Text

It felt bizarre to be the host to Talia Hale in the house that she had owned before, nevertheless, Stiles showed her to the room they had prepared for her. "Derek and I use the master bedroom now and have all of our stuff in it, otherwise we'd totally give it to you," Stiles said nervously.

Talia only smiled at him warmly. She placed a comforting hand on the side of his face. "It's fine, Stiles. Truly, it is. This is your home now."

"Can I ask you something?" he said as she turned around to pull back the comforter and fluff the pillows.

"Certainly," Talia replied.

"Did you know my mom?"

"Claudia," Talia said softly, smoothing a part of the blanket and sitting. She invited Stiles to sit next to her. "She was an amazing woman. It was so hard watching her go through what she went through. I often thought of offering to turn her, but I was afraid that the way the bite might mix with the disease would put you and your father in danger. She would be so very proud of you, though. I want you to know that."

"Really?" Stiles fought back the lump in his throat. He blamed himself so much. Certainly it had been the dementia talking, but there was a point where she blamed him. She thought he was trying to kill her. Stiles blinked back tears. That had been the day that his world shattered for the first time.

"Why wouldn't she be? Look at everything you've accomplished—everything you've overcome and achieved. Any parent would be proud to claim you. You've saved so many lives and made so many terrible decisions that nobody should ever have to make. You wear the mantle of leadership well. Not everyone can." Talia put an arm around her son-in-law's shoulder as he wiped away the tears that spilled down his cheeks.

"Thank you."

"That wasn't the only thing you wanted to ask me, was it?" Talia asked knowingly.

Stiles shook his head, biting the inside of his lip for a few moments before summoning the courage to say what he needed to say. He waved his hand toward the door and it shut and began to glow slightly as Stiles sound-proofed the room. "I don't think I'm going to survive this fight. A guy can only get so many close calls in life, ya know? I worry that if I die, Derek will simply give up on life. Our kids need him. They need him so more than they need me. I've known this since they were born. They're Werewolves. They have such a strong connection to him that I can't hope to replicate and I—" Stiles took a deep breath. "I need you to promise me that you'll make him go on… for them."

"I hope it doesn't come to that, Stiles," Talia said truthfully. "But if it does, I'll make sure Derek continues to be the Alpha that your kids need."

"Thank you," Stiles said softly. A yawn caught him off-guard and he tried to hide it behind his hand.

Talia smiled. "Go get some rest. You performed some powerful magic today. I'm surprised you're still even conscious after that."

"Sleep well," Stiles said softly before removing the soundproofing and leaving his mother-in-law alone to explore her new bedroom.

Talia moved across the room to a vanity table and sat down in front of it. Knowing they were going to be bringing her here, Derek had been sure to stock the room with furniture and clothes and any other supplies his mother might need. She picked up a brush and began to slowly pull it through her long, silky hair.

She smelled her brother's presence before she saw it in the mirror. "What do you want, Peter?" she asked stiffly.

"I want to talk," Peter said softly. The echo of her slap still stung his cheek.

"What could you possibly have to say to me?"

"That I'm sorry. I wasn't in my right mind when I killed Laura," Peter said. "I've done a lot of terrible things, but that's the one I truly regret."

"If I thought you actually had the capacity to feel remorse, I might be willing to consider accepting your empty apology," Talia replied coldly. She continued staring into the mirror and performing the nightly routine she had before she died.

"Talia, Please," Peter begged. "I really am sorry. She didn't deserve what happened to her and I shouldn't have killed her. But you don't know what it was like. I wish I had died alongside you that night. Instead, I spent years in complete agony, going slowly insane, trapped in my head… consumed by vengeance. I couldn't finish healing without the Alpha Spark. Meanwhile, the Argents were allowed to continue on with impunity. They needed to be taught a lesson but Laura wouldn't have sought revenge."

"Because I raised her to be a good person. She got her brother out of harm's way and kept him safe. If Cora hadn't disappeared, the three of them would have been fine," Talia said. "I can't forgive you for murdering my daughter, Peter. So please don't ask."

"I wouldn't," Peter said. "It's taken a lot for me to get to the place that I am, Tal. I wish she could be here… I wish she could see her niece and her nephew. I'm trying to atone by helping keep Stiles, Derek, and their kids safe."

"Nothing to be said of your kid?" Talia asked, raising one eyebrow. Skepticism rolled off of her in palpable ways.

"Malia doesn't want anything to do with me. You saw to that yourself," Peter's tone and gaze turned as steely-blue as his glowing eyes.

"I wasn't referring to Malia," Talia said. "Derek told me that the child Stiles is carrying currently is yours."

"That's different and you know it," Peter said hotly. He shifted his weight, trying not to look at his sister. Death had done nothing to cure her of her insanely infuriating nature. "Stiles and I did not intend to nor do we want to have a child together. The fact that it's mine is really just a genetic technicality. He's going to grow up thinking Derek is his father."

"I find it so hard to believe that you're okay with that," Talia replied.

"It's what's best for him." Peter ran his hands through his hair, clutching the locks tightly in his frustration. "Why is it that every time I try to do something good, I get demonized? How the fuck is it that you get to come back as an Alpha and presume to understand the shit that I endured after the fire? You don't fucking know, Talia. You don't know what kind of agony I was in for years. You weren't the only one who burned in the fire. You were just lucky enough to have died… and then you get brought back and somehow you're still the same sanctimonious cunt you were before. You never learn from your mistakes because you don't seem to think that you make any."

Talia's eyes flashed dangerously. It only spurred Peter on further.

"I have a very strong connection to that child, which is why I know that watching him grow up and calling Derek 'dad' is going to be agonizing each and every time it happens. But I care enough about him to make sure that he has the best possible chance at life. That means I can't be his dad. I'd expect my sister to have at least a modicum of decency and empathy for the difficult situation I'll be in for the rest of my life, but no… it was always me who was the bad seed of the Hale family. You were the Alpha. You could do no wrong. Well, guess what, Alpha," Peter spat the word as if it were a curse. "Your belief in your own superiority is why most of our family is dead… why you died," Peter said. He wanted every word to grind at his sister. "And now that you're alive again, it's a damn good thing we've got Derek, Stiles, and Scott, because under your leadership—if you can even call it that—we're all fucked."

"Get out," Talia said stiffly.

"Did the truth hurt too much, sis? You'll heal." Peter walked out and slammed the bedroom door behind him, the force shook the other doors in the hallway. He was trembling with rage as he descended the stairs. Chris was in the living room with Derek and Stiles.

Derek glared at his uncle. "Can you try not to wake up my kids?"

Peter's nostrils flared. A vein began bulging from his forehead as he fought back the urge to shift and slash Derek's throat. It had been a while since he had been so angry. Chris noticed this and immediately jumped to his feet, making his way to Peter. "Calm down, I'm here," he whispered as he stared into Peter's eyes. "Let's go back to my place and get some sleep. I think we're both tired."

"I'll meet you there," Peter said, turning on his heels and walking out the front door, which he also slammed behind him.

"I'm sorry for that," Chris said to Derek.

"It wasn't you who slammed the doors," Derek replied. He waited for a moment before asking, "How long have you two been a thing?"

"Not long," Chris answered. "We were together, sort-of, a few years ago, but it didn't work out. I think he's ready for something real now."

"Well I'm happy for you both," Stiles said. "You seem to keep him centered."

Chris nodded. "Thanks. I do have one request for you." Derek raised an eyebrow, signaling Chris to ask it. "When the baby is born… let Peter hold him as much or as little he wants. He's acting like he's completely okay with this, but he's not. It's eating him inside and I'm afraid that he might…"

"Go back to his old ways," Stiles finished. Chris nodded.

Derek pursed his lips and exhaled deeply. "He's the one who asked me to raise Kellen as if he were mine. Is he reneging on that?"

"Not at all," Chris replied. "But his moral compass still doesn't point even close to north. This kind of thing… nobody can prepare him for the emotions he's going to feel. I simply ask that you let him handle it in a way that can allow him some closure. This is the second child he's going to have to know from a distance. I buried my only child and even I can't imagine what he might be going through."

"Sure," Stiles said. "I can agree to that." Taking his cue from Stiles, Derek also nodded.

Stiles hadn't noticed that he couldn't remember his dreams anymore. As far as Derek was concerned, his husband slept peacefully throughout each night. In reality, every second Stiles spent asleep, was pure agony—the kind of agony that his brain couldn't just grow numb to. It morphed as his tolerance changed. But as horrible as the agony was, Stiles wouldn't remember it when he woke up. It was the cost for having cast the second Forbidden Act. The agony he felt wasn't just in that moment he cast the spell, it haunted him every night as he slept. It was a fresh new hell. Until he died, he would experience this, never remembering in his waking life, so as not to prompt him to try and circumvent his need for sleep.

Derek thought it was suspicious that Stiles stayed so still at night, but he blamed it on the baby. He watched his husband sleep for a while, losing track of just how long as the sun began creeping through the spaces between the blinds. Stiles was so beautiful when he slept. His belly was getting bigger and bigger. He knew it would be perhaps a month and a half or so until Kellen was born. Stiles' magic always made the pregnancies incredibly short and this one seemed to be moving faster than the previous two. Slowly his fingers danced across Stiles' belly. He laid the palm of his hand just above Stiles' protruding navel. He felt the kick as Kellen moved.

His face lit up with a smile as he sat up, placing his other hand on Stiles' belly, hoping that Kellen might grace him with more movement. When he did, Derek giggled in awe. He loved every aspect of being a father. He loved the sleepless nights, the dirty diapers (Gabe forced him to become particularly adept at holding his breath), the way his children looked when they smiled, figuring out the exact proportion of formula to water that each baby preferred. He was going to do all of those things for Kellen, just as he had for Aria and Gabe. It was those acts that would make Kellen truly feel like his son.

A fast exhale of breath from Stiles' nostrils drew Derek's attention back to his husband's face. "That tickles." Stiles' voice was thick from sleep.

"Good morning," Derek whispered, placing a deep kiss on his husband's lips.

"You were doing that thing again, weren't you?" Stiles asked when the kiss parted.

"What thing?"

"Bonding with the baby before I can," Stiles replied.

"Stiles, no," Derek replied. "I was just thinking about what it will be like when he's born."

"I just want to have one kid who will remember I existed once I'm gone," Stiles sighed.

"No one will ever forget you," Derek said. "I won't let them. And you're not dying. I forbid that, too."

"Casting these Acts is going to piss off a lot of people. When I cast the next one, my magic is gone… I don't know when it'll come back—if it comes back," Stiles said.

A high-pitched cry from Aria broke them away from their conversation. Stiles and Derek rushed into their daughter's room. Her blanket and pillows were shredded to pieces. Bits of fluff rained down like snow, some of it sticking in her daughter's wild hair. She was shifted and when her eyes opened, they glowed bright yellow. Derek put an arm up for Stiles to stay back, as he was unsure if she was in control.

"Aria, sweetheart," he said softly as he approached her. "Do you know where you are?"

Her response was a growl as she stared up at her Alpha. She was crouched low, as if ready to pounce.

Derek, in turn, shifted partially. "Aria, what are the three types of Werewolves?"

"Alpha, Beta, and Omega," she said.

"Good. I want you to keep repeating that," Derek said as he shifted back to human. "Remember that each and every one of us has the potential to rise to Alpha, but even the most powerful Alpha can fall to Omega."

Slowly the wolf-like features melted away and Aria was standing in front of her Alpha crying. Derek held his arms out and pulled her into his lap. She flung her arms around his neck and clutched him tightly as she sobbed. "I'm sorry for tearing stuff."

"It wasn't your fault. Those things can be replaced. You and I are going to work on controlling it so that you don't accidentally hurt yourself or someone else," Derek told her, stroking the back of her neck. It was the easiest way to soothe her and had been since she was an infant.

Stiles crossed the room. "What made you change, Aria?" Struggling to do so, Stiles managed to sit on the floor next to Derek and immediately Aria wanted to be in his lap instead. It helped soothe the lingering anger over Talia's connection to Gabe.

"The baby talked to me again," Aria said.

"What did the baby say?" Stiles asked.

"He's not like us," she replied.

Stiles exhaled deeply, furrowing his brow. This was the second time she'd made that claim and Stiles figured it had to do with the different parentage. "What do you mean by that?" he asked.

"He isn't a part of the Pack," she said.

Immediately Derek's brows furrowed angrily. "Aria, listen to me. He's your baby brother. He is a part of our family and therefore a part of our Pack. I don't want to hear you saying that again."

"But you said it's bad to lie except about the fact that we're Werewolves. If I say that he's part of the Pack, then that means I'm lying," Aria said. "If I lie, the bad man will get me."

Derek's eyes became instantly, angrily red. His nostrils flared and the bridge of his nose began to crinkle ever-so-slightly. This was already a sensitive-enough subject for Derek that Stiles couldn't necessarily blame him for his reaction, but he was the adult and Aria was a child. Stiles cut his husband a stark look that told him to back off. "Aria, do you know why the baby talks to you and nobody else?"

Not pulling away from Stiles' chest, she nodded. "He wants to talk to you, but he can't. He said it burns when he tries to. Gabe can't remember his dreams, so he comes to me. He says it's hard for him to talk to me because we aren't the same, but he wants me to know things."

"What's it like when he talks? Does he use words?" Derek asked.

Aria shook he head emphatically. "No. He doesn't know any words yet. He shows me pictures and I get feelings."

"So what is it that he wants you to know?" Stiles asked.

Immediately Aria began crying again and clutched her father tightly. "I don't wanna say," she sobbed.

Gently caressing the back of her head, allowing his fingers to comb through her long, silky dark hair, Stiles could feel his own heart breaking. He hated it when his children were sad. "You can tell us anything, Aria. We're your parents. There's nothing you can't tell us. Ever. And sometimes, when you have something on your mind that's really sad, it can help to talk to someone. That's why your daddy and I are here. We want you to talk to us."

Aria sniffled loudly and as she slowly pulled away to look up into her parents' eyes, her face was covered in tears and snot. Before becoming a parent, this would have grossed Stiles out to the point of vomiting. Now he was ridiculously accustomed to grossness. "Please don't get mad at me."

"We won't, sweetie," Stiles said. Derek made so no such promise, but once again, Stiles cut his husband a look that told him to go along with this or else.

Derek steeled himself. As an Alpha, he could completely disguise his scent if he needed to, so he did, just to ensure that Aria, who could now fully shift into her beta form, didn't pick up on his emotions through chemo-signals.

"The bad man is coming and if you stop him, you're gonna lose all your power and then you might die," Aria said.

Figuring she must have overheard them discussing the plan to get rid of Weylyn, Stiles decided to put her fear to rest. "My power will only be gone for a short amount of time. But I'll have my Pack to protect me."

"What if that's not enough?" Aria asked softly.

"It will be," he told her. "Don't worry."

"The bad man is going to come on the next full moon," Aria said.

At his desk in the study, Stiles crushed several herbs with his mortar and pestle. Another bowl sat beside it with something that looked like dough. A sickening feeling had taken hold of him and he couldn't shake it. He decided to direct the nervous energy into something productive, preparing the Fourth Act to be set in motion at a moment's notice. Scott knocked on the door. "You look like a beach ball on a stick."

Stiles laughed. "Trust me… it's much harder than carrying a beach ball. When you finally become a father, do whatever it is your wife wants. This shit is not easy. I think he's gotten the impression that my bladder is a punching bag."

Scott laughed heartily as he strode into the room. "Is Talia Hale really back?" he asked as he sat in the seat on the other side of the desk. Watching what Stiles was doing gave him a headache, so he had to avert his eyes.

"Yeah. We had to cast the Third Forbidden Act. We traded Kate Argent's life for Talia's," Stiles replied as he continued his work.

"Did Kate attack you or something?" Scott asked.

"No," Stiles said. "She didn't. Chris tracked her down and brought her here so we could kill her in exchange for bringing Talia back."

"She agreed not to harm us anymore," Scott said. "I gave her amnesty."

"It wasn't yours to give," Stiles replied pointedly. "You know the complicated relationship my husband has with the Argent family and her in particular."

"And you know the complicated relationship have with the Argent family," Scott snapped. "When we kill without remorse or provocation, we stop being the good guys."

"Scott, that philosophy might do well for the pack of the True Alpha, but mine is under attack from an enemy that is thousands of years old. He's one of the original Werewolves and he's also powerfully gifted with magic. I'm doing everything I can to keep my husband, my children, and my unborn son safe. I don't have the luxury of black and white morality," Stiles replied. "If I die, my Pack has no Emissary. My children lose their father. Derek loses his husband. And believe me, this man wants me dead… not just that, he wants me dead by suicide and he's willing to do anything it takes to get me to that point, so do not lecture me about good guys and bad guys." Admittedly, some of the edge in his voice was from the hormones surging through his bloodstream, but the rest was from the fact that he was in a fight for his own life and the reaches went too far.

Scott cocked his head to the side and studied his friend—his brother. "Why not ask me for help?"

"Because the solution we have is not one you'd ever condone and I would never ask you to. I've protected your pack as much as I can because you're my brother and I love you. I don't want my problem to put you or any of your Betas in harm's way, but the only way we'll all be safe is if I do some things that the True Alpha wouldn't even entertain," Stiles said.

Scott nodded. The study filled with silence. "If you were going to bring someone back, why not Allison?" Scott's voice cracked as he asked the question.

There it was. Why didn't he trade an Argent for an Argent? "I'm sorry, Scott. Truly, I am. But I needed to bring back a Hale. If I die, I don't know what Derek would do. I had to make a choice for my kids. If there were any other way, I would have," Stiles said softly. "I know how much she means to you."

Scott noted the tense he used. Stiles knew that he still grieved for her. "If you need help, you know I'm here for you, right?"

"Of course," Stiles said.

"Just be careful with the Forbidden Acts. The Alphas are getting nervous. They can sense all the magic and they see it as a threat," Scott said. "And Deaton says that nobody who has begun the Acts has ever lived to finish them."

"Hopefully this is the last one I'll ever have to cast," Stiles replied.

"Can you let Talia know I'd like to meet her when she's ready?" he asked as he stood.

"Of course," Stiles said. "Besides… you'll need to come meet your nephew soon."

"It's not too late to call him Scott," his best friend reminded him.

"Yeah it is," Stiles replied with a smile. "Aria and Gabe chose his name. They're somewhat attached to it."

Scott laughed as he left the room and Stiles returned to his task.

A crackling blue spark of magic danced at the tips of the fingers on his right hand as he touched them gently to the rim of the large bowl. It began to spin, slowly at first, but gained in speed, faster and faster as the dough-like substance warped. In actuality, it was clay that had been dug from spiritually sanctified land. Stiles had mixed into it holy water along with various oils of differing spiritual meanings. He hated this kind of magic. He much preferred battle magic. It was fast, performed at the speed of thought with only slight gestures needed to improve efficacy.

This was the more old-school arcane form of magic. This was the stuff that got people burned at the stake—well, this and rampant systemic sexism mixed with a twinge of communal ergot poisoning—but the overall effect was the same. These were the feats of magic that fucked with the fundamental laws of the universe. When he first received his magic and the knowledge that came with it, he never imagined having to use this sort of magic. He never thought it would be needed.

He initially studied the elemental controls, joking to a clueless Derek that he was the Avatar.

"The Avatar of what?" Derek had asked, completely puzzled. Stiles didn't have time to explain it right then. He did force Derek to sit down and watch the series with him. The entire time, he scoffed and pointed out how unrealistic it was. "If people can control the earth, then why allow tectonic movement? Earthquakes are incredibly dangerous and the only way mountains and volcanoes can form is by tectonic plates shifting. And what's to stop a corrupt leader from trying to raise a future Avatar to be their lackey? None of it makes sense."

"I might divorce you," Stiles had replied. "You're ruining the greatest cartoon that has ever aired."

"No I'm not. We're watching Avatar, not Thundercats," he said matter-of-factly. Stiles thought he was going to have an aneurism in that moment.

He smiled to himself as he remembered that. He hoped that Derek would, too. He hoped that, if this didn't work, Derek would remember all of the fun times, the stupid moments, and the little conversations that formed a relationship, a marriage, and a family. He hoped that Derek wouldn't dwell on the sleepless nights of fighting and name-calling. He hoped that Derek wouldn't replay every time he let Stiles down and want nothing more than to fix it. Stiles had done that when his mother died. Every time he acted out, he drove her closer and closer to the grave. She told him herself that he was the reason she died. Those words were etched into his brain. The sound of them echoed in the darkest parts of his mind. He didn't want Derek to suffer like that… not after having suffered so much already.

As he continued his work, Stiles could smell something delicious baking in the oven. Derek leaned against the doorframe. "Mom has decided to cook a full four-course meal for tonight," he said. After a few moments of watching the bowl, he asked what Stiles was doing.

"I'm getting the next Act prepared," Stiles said as he added the contents of the mortar to the spinning bowl. The clay began to glow and the bowl spun faster. "That way, as soon as I need to, I can say the invocation and do what needs to be done."

"What's up with the doll?" Derek asked when the bowl suddenly stopped and he saw the clay item inside.

"It's called a poppet. It's basically in the voodoo doll's European cousin. When I'm ready to cast the Fourth Act, I say the invocation and force him to do what I want. After that, my magic goes kaput," Stiles explained.

"It's creepy," Derek said.

"It's how we're going to save our family," Stiles said. They hadn't talked about the fact that the next full moon was in a few weeks. They hadn't discussed the fact that Stiles would need to cast the act before Kellen was born and suffer whatever consequences came of it.

Derek seemed to know the storm of thoughts whirling in his head. He pulled Stiles to his feet. "Whatever it is that I need to do to make sure that when the dust settles, I have my husband, my daughter, and my two sons, I'll do it."

"Promise me you won't risk your life," Stiles said. "Please… if it comes down to my life or yours—or my life or Kellen's, let me die. It's terrible to ask you, but I need you to just make that one vow."

Derek remained stone-faced and silent. His liquid green eyes stared intensely into Stiles'. If birthing this child killed Stiles, Derek didn't know how he could ever love it. He'd have to hand it over to Peter and tell him to get as far away from Beacon Hills as he could… and never come back. This was not a possibility he would allow himself to acknowledge. Stiles' death was not something he'd permit to happen. He didn't respond to Stiles, instead, he said, "Dinner's done. We should head downstairs." He left a sweet, soft kiss on Stiles' lips before leaving him alone in the room.

Chapter Text

"You have been blessed by Zeus," his father said. "You're going to help our family rise to greatness.

Diodotus was the youngest his father's many children, but widely known to be the favorite. He was spoiled as a child, taught separately by acolytes of Hecate, teaching him how to use his magic. It wasn't long until their family was the wealthiest in all of Arcadia. A little longer still, and Diodotus' father was named King Lycaon of Arcadia.

Arcadia prospered under his family's rule, thanks to Diodotus using his magic to ensure bountiful harvests and peace between their kingdom and the surrounding ones.

A feast was planned to celebrate the decade of peaceful rule. Diodotus was unaware, however of the various blasphemies and sacrilegious deeds his father and brothers were performing. He sat quietly in his chair at the end of the table opposite his father. He scanned the many faces of his brothers and sisters, noticing one was missing. He had no doubt the missing brother was defiling some peasant girl and would drunkenly make his way toward the feast after Apollo's chariot had descended past the horizon.

Speeches and toasts were made, praising Lycaon for his skillful rule. "You're more a god than man!" one man shouted.

"Zeus should follow your example!" yelled another.

Fits of raucous laughter filled the halls and, at last, Lycaon took the first bite, signaling that the feast could begin and everyone else could eat, too.

Diodotus was devoutly religious. How could he not be? His existence was proof that the gods existed and were generous. He made sacrifices to Zeus nearly daily, and most of his free time was spent in his temple.

The various blasphemous assertions being tossed around made him nervous—queasy, even.

He ate silently, nibbling at this or that, not really all that hungry. The air felt different and he didn't know why. A loud clap of thunder sent everyone clamoring for shelter. A bolt of lightning struck the center of the hall, leaving the air sizzling and vibrating with the power. The figure of a powerful man, wrapped with a toga trimmed in gold and a crown of golden laurel stood in the spot where the lightning had struck.

"Lycaon," the deity said. His voice was deep and penetrating. "I see you started without me."

Diodotus' father bowed deeply in the presence of Zeus. "My apologies, King of Gods," he said. "We are merely mortals and were hungry. Please, though, we saved the best for you." Lycaon waved his arm at the table where his family sat.

As Zeus approached, he kept his eyes fixed on Diodotus, who was enthralled at the honor of being able to see the deity he worshiped so fervently. Zeus picked up a piece of meat and brought it to his lips, but halted. His eyes grew enraged.

"You dare try and serve me the flesh of your son?" His head turned and rounded on the patriarch. "If you and your family want to act like wolves, far be it from me to stop you." He cast an arm out and a blinding flash of lightning struck the King of Arcadia. When the light dimmed down, in his place stood a wolf, cowering. Zeus cast his arm down the table. In rapid succession, lightning struck each of Lycaon's children, except Diodotus who stood frozen and terrified.

Taking slow, deliberate steps toward Diodotus, Zeus glared intently at the young boy. The weight of his gaze was enough to crush him. "After everything I've given you… you let him do this. You let them blaspheme against me."

Diodotus fell to his knees. "Please believe me. I had no idea he killed my brother to serve at the feast. I never would have allowed it!"

"Be that as it may, you remained silent when they spoke against me. You are as complicit in this as the rest of them," Zeus exclaimed. "You were named after me. Your name means 'Given by Zeus.' You worshiped in my temple since you were old enough to walk. Your betrayal is the least forgivable."

Tears streamed down Diodotus' face. "Please," he begged. "I'm so sorry."

"The rest of your family will live and die as the beasts they are, but you will walk this earth for eternity. I strip you of your name and your humanity," Zeus said. "I want you to go on forever, reflecting on just how gravely you have disappointed me."

The sensation of the lightning working through his body felt like he was burning from the inside out. He felt his bones pop and twist. Claws burst painfully from his fingers. His jaw elongated and fangs pushed his teeth out of his mouth. He tried to scream, but what came from his throat was a sharp howl.

Gabe sat on Talia's lap with his arms crossed, glowering at his sister from across the room. Derek was helping Aria practice her control over her shifting. "Why does Aria get to shift and I don't?"

"You will, soon," Talia assured him. "All of us come into it in our own time. And girls tend to learn to shift earlier than boys. Your Aunt Cora was only seven years old when she first shifted. Your dad didn't start turning for the first time until he was ten."

This news greatly disappointed Gabe. "But I'm only four!" he exclaimed. "That's gonna take forever!"

"It'll be here before you know it," Talia said. She was rather impressed with the way her son worked with his daughter. Her first full moon was going to be more of a challenge, though.

"What makes you feel human?" Derek asked his daughter.

She thought hard on the answer. "I don't know," she said honestly. "What about you?"

"My family," Derek replied without even a moment's hesitation. "My love for you guys keeps me feeling human."

"Does mine have to be family?" she asked.

Derek shook his head and smiled. "No. It just has to be something that's really important to you."

"Will it help me turn into a wolf like you can?"

Her father raised his eyebrows and shrugged thoughtfully. "Who knows? Maybe."

"You have to be completely in balance with your inner wolf," Talia interjected. It made her proud as a mother that two of her three children had achieved that feat.

"Alright one more go… on the count of three, we're gonna shift again," Derek said, raising a finger each time he counted. Claws extended from them as he made his way from one to three. Knowing how menacing his smile looked while in his beta form, Derek refrained from doing so, but he did congratulate his daughter on successfully shifting again. "Alright back to human… ready? One… two… three…"

The Werewolf features melted away from them both. Aria looked exhausted, but Derek knew she was too proud to admit it.

"Are you guys done now?" Gabe asked in an exasperated tone.

"Yeah, we're done for today. Why don't you two go play," Derek said, prompting his kids to scamper off, leaving Talia and Derek alone.

"You and Stiles have done such a fantastic job with them," Talia said. There was a hesitancy in her voice that unnerved Derek. He sensed the unspoken but and raised his eyebrow. Always adept at reading her son's facial expressions, Talia continued. "I'm worried about what their exposure to your uncle is going to do to them… not to mention being raised beside his son."

"My son, you mean," Derek replied stiffly. "Kellen will be—Kellen is—my son, not Peter's."

"You heard what Aria said about him. He's different. He's not like us. He's not a part of the pack," Talia said calmly.

Immediately Derek's heartbeat spiked and his eyes flashed red. He mentally repeated his mantra in an effort to reign his emotions back in. "He is a part of our pack and I expect you to treat him as such." His tone made it clear that he was willing to accept nothing less than total compliance with this demand.

"You know the kind of person Peter is," Talia replied. "Certainly there's a case for nature vs. nurture, but this child is not exactly starting out with the best of odds. After all, how many times have you ever heard of an unborn child being able to communicate with another member of the pack? We need to keep in mind the things that Aria is saying."

"Aria is also six years old and has an invisible friend she does tea parties with," Derek said. "She has a very active imagination and knows that we're worried about the situation at hand. This could be her way of processing it. And for all we know, this is Weylyn trying to fuck with us through her. It's not the first time he's tried to provoke Stiles by targeting our children. He almost abducted Gabe."

"I'm not trying to upset you, Talia said, backing down. "I'm worried, is all. I don't want anything to happen to you or them because of him."

"I appreciate your concern, but my children are fine. All three of them," Derek said before turning and walking out of the room.

Hunger gnawed at him as he paced at the outer edge of the pack. His father and brothers were allowed to eat, but by the time it was his turn, there was no food left. He whimpered before pawing at the ground. He was the Omega. That much was clear. Still, he had to trust that his father, the Alpha, had a plan.

They had been travelling for months, first north and now west. They travelled through dense forests. The tree limbs were so thick they sometimes went days without seeing the sky or stars. As the rest of the pack slept, he slipped away to try and find something—anything—he could eat.

He had grown accustomed to his new senses. He could see, hear, and smell things he never had before. He roamed silently before catching the scent of water nearby. He hoped he might be able to snag a fish or two. As he approached the water, a slow-moving river, he was able to see the bright ring of the full moon illuminating the night. His eyes scanned the water, hoping for a sign of life.

He bent his head down and lapped at it a bit. The water felt good on his throat. His ear twitched at the sound of a slight rustling. It was a mouse. Immediately his head darted in the direction of the noise and he stalked slowly towards its source. He paced himself, knowing he had only one chance.

The feeling of relief that accompanied the sensation of his jaw closing around its soft, breakable body was indescribable. The warm blood filled his mouth as he crunched down, making quick work of his prey.

He headed back toward his sleeping pack and found a spot where he could curl up for the night. Closing his eyes, he exhaled, finally sated.

There were several more weeks of travelling until the Alpha indicated they had arrived where they intended to go. They were in a dense grove of trees, some of which had strange markings. It smelled of humans and fear and blood. This place was no stranger to death and had experienced a large amount of it quite recently.

He pulled his ears back and tucked his tail. The stench of fear twisted his stomach. His father howled and his brothers and sisters followed suit. The chorus was deafening. He looked around, debating whether or not to join in. A sharp glare from his father's red eyes compelled him and he added his voice to the group.

Within minutes, a group of humans emerged from the surrounding woods. Their robes much different than any he'd ever seen. "You are not really wolves," one of them said in perfect Greek.

Lycaon gave a whimper and nodded his head. The humans asked a series of questions to ascertain what happened. At last, they announced they would need to discuss the matter privately before deciding whether or not they would help. They returned a while later and addressed the pack.

"What's been done to you cannot be undone. We don't have the power to counteract the curse of a god, especially one as powerful as Zeus. There may be, however, a way for you to be both human and wolf… changing back and forth, from one to the other," said the leader. "We are willing to teach you this skill."

Over the course of the next few weeks, each of them were taught to go from wolf, to human, and back again. No longer knowing his own identity, he found himself preferring to remain as a wolf more often than not.

As his father and each of his brothers mastered their ability, they split up into smaller groups. More and more of them developed the piercing red eyes that his father had. They became Alphas. They abandoned him. He was truly alone in the world. He had no family. He had no Pack. He had no name. All he had was the magic he was born with and the ability to transition between his human form and his wolf form.

They were going to strike first. It was better to make an offensive strike than to be caught off-guard and need to defend themselves. Derek pushed it off as long as he could, hoping it would better the odds of Stiles and the baby surviving without the aid of his magic.

"What's going to happen when you activate the spell?" Peter asked. The pack was gathered, along with Chris and Scott. Both Aria and Gabe slept soundly in their rooms. Stiles feared the magical protections he put up would be nullified the moment his magic was gone. Scott agreed to watch over them while the Hale family dealt with Weylyn.

Stiles shrugged in response to Peter's question. There was so much about this plan that they didn't know. The more he admitted he didn't know, the more uneasy he could see they became.

Cora exhaled deeply, clearly exasperated. "Do we need to prepare like we're facing off against the Darach? I mean come on, Stiles… you've got to give us more to go on."

"I don't know," Stiles said. "I honestly don't know. They don't make these spells easy to unravel. You're not supposed to cast them. That's why they're called The Forbidden Acts. We need to be prepared for anything."

Chris's face was unreadable as he said, "Stiles, I've been a Hunter my whole life, and even am wary about this. We risk having both Weylyn and Loki in the same place and odds are, they're not going to be all that happy with you. There's only so much we can do against magic like Weylyn's. That's not even touching the powers of a god like Loki."

"I know!" Stiles snapped. "Okay, I know this is risky. I know that a lot is going to have to rely on chance… but we've faced down slimmer odds before. And either we take the first shot, or we fight ten times harder when he does. I wish I had better news for you guys… unfortunately, this is it. If any of you want to back out, believe me, I don't blame you."

"We won't abandon you," Peter said, Stiles thought somewhat begrudgingly.

"Alright, then let's head to the Nemeton and get this over," Stiles said.

He didn't want to say goodbye to his children, because he didn't want to scare them. He did, however, hug them tight and tell them how much he loved them. "Be good for Uncle Scott," he said.

"You're coming back, right?" Gabe asked.

Stiles held his son's face in his hands. "Of course." The truth was, he had no idea. He kissed their foreheads before sending them off. Driving to the Preserve, Derek held his hand tightly. The drive was silent. Neither needed to say anything. As they exited the car and headed toward the grove where the Nemeton sat, Stiles pulled Derek's head toward him and kissed him.

"Whatever happens, I need you to make the promise that you'll let me die if it means you live," Stiles said as the kiss broke.

"Nothing's going to happen to you," Derek said, more for himself, than Stiles.

"Derek please," Stiles begged. "Promise me. Because we both know that it's likely that I won't walk out of this. I want you to know that being married to you has been the greatest time of my life—"

"Stiles, don't."

"I have to say this," Stiles insisted. "My only regret is the time we spent apart. I love you and I'm so proud of everything we've done together."

Derek gripped him tightly. "I love you, Stiles. If there's not another option, I'll keep the promise, but I'll fight as hard as I can to prevent having to do so."

They walked into the preserve with an arm around the other's waist. Peter, Chris, Talia, and Cora were there waiting for them. Stiles instructed them to stay back as he began the process of activating the fourth Act. This magic felt darker than any he'd ever cast. He opened his eyes and no longer saw his family surrounding him. He was seeing through Weylyn's eyes. Go to the Nemeton.

Within moments, he appeared in the grove. Summon Loki and offer to pay my price for my magic.

Weylyn chanted in a long-dead language. The wind picked up, howling through the trees surrounding the Hales. A raven swooped onto a branch and cawed loudly, regarding the group of them. It spread its wings and glided down toward the ground, transforming into a man as his feet gently touched down on the ground. His eyes were shrewd as they looked back and forth between Weylyn and Stiles.

"Is there a reason, in particular, that I've been called here?"

Stiles could feel Weylyn resisting. Tell him. Say the words.

Weylyn's mouth opened. "I've summoned you here to ask that I might pay the price of Stiles' magic."

The woman's fiery-red hair glistened in the sun. He watched, enthralled, as she dipped low to scoop water from the river. She noticed him watching and narrowed her eyes.

"What are you doing here?" she demanded.

He looked around at the lovely countryside. "Admiring the view, fair lady."

"Why didn't you leave with your family? We've taught you what you wanted to know," she questioned.

"They abandoned me," he said honestly.

"What's your name?"

"I can't remember," he replied. "Zeus took it from me."

She raised an eyebrow. "You're the one they were talking about… How do you expect to go through eternity without a name?"

"I don't know," he replied. "I can turn into a wolf. I can do incredible feats of magic. But I can't tell someone my name."

The woman shrugged. "Protects you from faeries, at least. Names have power… especially among the Fair Folk."

He looked down at the water, seeing his face reflected in it. "What would you name me?"

She studied him for a few minutes. "Alar," she replied.

"Alar?" he asked. "What does that mean?"

"Ruler of all," she said, fully aware of the irony.

He had to stop himself from laughing. "Well played. What's your name?"

"Diona," she replied, tucking a lock of hair that had come loose with the breeze. He perked up a little as he heard it.

"It's beautiful. It suits you," he said.

"What are you going to do?" she asked. "Now that you have a name, in addition to your many talents."

"I have, quite literally, all the time in the world," Alar replied. "I'm in little rush. But I don't plan to do much of anything."

"Then that means I'm going to lead a very boring life," Diona replied. "I'm your Emissary."

Alar hopped to his feet. "I'm a great many things… but boring isn't one of them." He circled around her. "I'm handsome, charming, powerful…" he began his list.

"And humble," Diona added. "Can't forget humble."

Alar laughed. He could smell the attraction on her. He felt it, too. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She was the tie to his humanity. Suddenly his curse seemed much more like a blessing.

"Since I'm cursed to live forever, you have much less time than me. Where have you always wanted to go? What have you wanted to see?" he asked.

"Everywhere," she replied, stepping closer to him. "Everything."

Alar slowly stopped moving, turning to face her. His hand found its way to her neck, his lips to hers. Her skin was so soft. Her mouth was sweet. One kiss led to another and another and before they knew it, they were making love on the forest floor.

"That's a steep price you're trying to pay." The hints of a smile curled his lips. "And you're doing this of your own accord?"

Say yes. "Yes."

Loki chuckled. "I see. And you brought these werewolves here as what? Spectators?"

"They're my family," Stiles spoke up. "They came to be with me."

"Right," Loki said. His eyes travelled from Stiles' face down to the doll in his hands. He had to give it to the Druid… this plan was quite clever. "Well then… let's get down to business." He waved his hand and a scroll of parchment. "All it needs is your blood."

Stiles forced Weylyn to extend one of his claws and tear open the flesh of his right thumb. He pressed the bloody digit to the paper and it disappeared. A bolt of lightning struck Weylyn. When the blinding flash faded, Loki cackled.

"And there goes your immortality," he said. "Welcome back to the land of mortals, Diodotus."

Stiles released his magical hold and felt his powers immediately disappear. He didn't realize how dependent he had become on his magic. It suddenly felt as though he was missing a limb… no it was worse than that. He felt as though parts of him had been carved out entirely. He could feel the ground beneath him and the air around him, but not the way he was used to. He didn't feel the power that emanated from them. Now, it was just ground and air. Before, it was a weapon he could summon to his aid with a mere thought.

They all watched as Weylyn turned to face him.

"Now… I wouldn't be doing my job as a trickster god if I didn't allow this trick to go unavenged," Loki said. He cast his hand out. A wide circle appeared in the ground around them with a shimmering blue light that rose from it.

Stiles tried to touch it. The agony travelled up every nerve in his arm, bringing him to his knees. "What the fuck?" he whispered.

Derek stepped forward in a panic, but Peter and Talia held him back.

"It's okay, little Alpha," Loki said. "Turnabout is fair play. The barrier will go down when one of them dies."

"One's a Werewolf with magical powers and the other is now a helpless human… and he's pregnant!" Peter shouted. "How the fuck is this fair play? At least let one of us fight in his place."

"But my way is so much more interesting," Loki said, turning to the two men in the circle.

Everlasting life. It never seemed like much of a curse when Zeus placed it on him. But now, as he sat at Diona's bedside, her face marked with decades of wrinkles, her once vibrant red hair, now gray and white, he realized what a monstrous curse this truly was. For his part, he looked the exact same way he did on the day they met.

"Alar," Diona whispered. "I'm cold."

"Can't have that, now can we?" Alar replied, forcing himself to smile. He knew she wasn't going to last the night. He pulled the covers back and climbed into the bed beside her, hoping to warm her a bit more as he held the woman he had loved for so very long. Their children, all Werewolves, were travelling. He tried to summon them back, but they were too far. They wouldn't be able to return in time to say goodbye to their mother.

And eventually, he'd repeat this same scene with them. Everlasting life was not a gift. It was the curse of watching everything and everyone he loved die, moment by moment, as he stayed exactly the same, only more heartbroken and more alone. What good were bonds of friendship and family when you knew you'd watch every one of them die?

"You'll need a new Emissary," Diona said. Her voice was getting increasingly hoarse and her breathing was more strained than ever. Alar had used magic to buy her as much time as he could. Magic couldn't fix this. There was no magical cure for this.

He fought back tears. He would be strong for his wife. "For me, there is no one but you," he replied. His voice was thick with grief.

He wrapped his arms around her, holding her body as close to his as he could. Her fingers grasped his hands. "We will be together again, Alar. I know we will."

A tear escaped his eye and ran down his cheek, dripping onto her long hair. He didn't have the same faith, but he desperately hoped she was right. He heard a slight rattling sound as she breathed, then felt her go still. He could no longer hear her heart. He finally allowed himself to cry. He sobbed loudly, cursing Zeus' name as he held his beloved Emissary, his wife, in his arms.

He held her until the sun began to peek above the mountains. He finally crawled out of the bed and took a few of his belongings from their modest cottage. Once outside the door, he began weaving a complex network of spells. The air shimmered with the magic hanging in it. The cottage he built by hand after they were married—where they raised their children—began to shake and then morph. The stones fused together, becoming smooth, white granite. The thatch roof became granite, as well, sealing his wife inside. Where the door had once been, her name appeared in vibrant gold. Beneath it formed the words Sic Semper Amare.

When the granite monument was complete, he weaved another set of spells that would ensure that her grave site could never be disturbed and only ever found by him or their descendants.

When he first met her, he asked her where she wanted to go and she said everywhere. They did that. They travelled all over Europe, seeing every wonder, meeting anyone of note, before settling back in Gaul and raising their family. Alar decided he would honor her adventurous spirit and once again travel, only this time go farther than they ever had to places he knew she would love to see.

He slowly transformed into a wolf and set off, leaving behind the few items he took. He didn't need anything… not really. Everything that had ever meant something to him was locked inside that tomb, or travelling in distant lands. He hoped he might see his children before they, too, died. He hoped he might be able to tell them how much he loved them.

Alar went east, before resuming human form and taking passage to a land he'd never seen up to the North.

These people were fierce and proud. He had never heard of their gods, but was intrigued by them nonetheless. Taking the name Eric, he created a new life, learning about the thunder god with a mighty hammer and his brother, a trickster… who might have found something Zeus meant to destroy.

A flash of light sped past Stiles' head. Instinctively, he threw out his hand, doing the gesture to counter that magic. Nothing happened. Fuck, he thought. He was a master of Battle Magic. This could be easy. Derek taught him how to fight, so he figured he'd have to try as much of that as he could… until he was ultimately killed.

Stiles ducked and weaved with speeds that were only possible due to the massive amounts of adrenalin in his body, but each movement was made cumbersome by the fact that he was very pregnant. Every time he got close to Weylyn—or was it Diodotus now?—the bastard would move and send more spells at him. Most of which were intended to remove body parts.

A powerful stunning spell hit him square in the chest. He let out a powerful scream as the pain of it radiated outward towards his limbs. "I can't fight you," he panted, holding out his arms in surrender. "Just do it."

"STILES!" Derek shouted. "NO! You have to try!"

"I can't!" Stiles screamed back. "Why delay the inevitable? I love you. I really do. Peter, I'm so sorry for what's about to happen…"

Weylyn smirked as Stiles welcomed his end. "I'm a little disappointed," he admitted. "I really wanted to fight you at your peak."

"You aren't the only person I'm disappointing today, it seems," Stiles replied. "Just get it over with, please."

"As you wish," Weylyn replied. He reared his hands back, summoning a powerful ball of energy before thrusting it forth, straight toward Stiles.

He knew he was about to die. There was a peacefulness in that knowledge. He placed a hand on his belly, a final comfort to the baby he would never know. As the bolt of light traveled toward him, time seemed to slow down. Each moment was an eternity for him to contemplate what it had all meant. He hoped Aria and Gabe would forgive him for the lie he told them. He hoped Talia would keep her word and force Derek to move on. He hoped that Peter would find it in his heart to love Chris as much as he had loved his unborn son, and that he wouldn't blame Stiles for the fact that they'd never meet.

Stiles closed his eyes, ready to die. He felt the heat of the magic by his face and knew it was less than a moment away. There was a fluttering in his stomach and everything stopped.

It wasn't until he heard Cora whisper, "What the hell?" that he opened them, to find that he was generating a magical shield.

"That's impossible," he said, looking at his hands. This wasn't his magic. He couldn't feel his magic. It was gone. He felt it leave him the moment he released Weylyn.

"He's not like us," Derek whispered. His eyes were wide as he watched the magical shield rebound the spell meant to kill Stiles toward the caster. "He's not a part of the pack." Aria had been trying to tell them all along. Kellen wasn't like them. He wasn't a Werewolf. Kellen was a magic user like Stiles, and he had just saved his father's life.

Chapter Text

He still wasn't used to the feeling of the ring on his hand. He had actually married Derek Hale. Derek fucking Hale was his husband. He said it to himself over and over, but it still didn't feel real. It was like at any moment, he could wake up and have it all be a dream.

Their honeymoon was drawing to a close. It had been a month, but it still seemed like it was too short. Truth be told, he missed his dad and he missed Scott, but being alone in Europe with Derek was too many dreams come true all at once. Derek, it seemed, was fluent in every language and had no problem reading signs or maps or asking directions in any of the countries they'd been in, which had been many.

They were in Sweden, now. In a few days, they'd head back to France and catch a plane home. The trip wasn't just sight-seeing, food, and sex… although there was a lot of all three. Stiles was also learning about his new role as the Hale Pack's Emissary. Deaton had given them specific places to go where Stiles could study and learn the tricks of the trade.

It was working. Stiles had infinitely more knowledge about what to do if anyone in the pack were hurt… but it was all reactionary. His knowledge was only useful once damage had been inflicted, and that was the most infuriating aspect of it all. He had a husband, a sister-in-law, and an uncle-in-law now that he was responsible for helping.

He refused to remain on the sidelines. He refused to be useful only after things were bad. He needed more than the Druidic connection to nature and the knowledge that imbued.

"Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of caves," Derek admitted as they descended into Hoverberg Cave.

"Spelunking with Stiles. You could write a book. That'd be your title right there," Stiles replied.

"One instance of trespassing in a Swedish natural monument doesn't make you a spelunker, Stiles," Derek replied.

"Admit it… you're having fun," Stiles teased.

Derek pressed Stiles against the rough wall of the cave. The lust rolled off the Alpha in palpable waves. He pressed his lips against the human's, feeling Stiles' open as he pressed his tongue forward. His hard, muscle-toned body pressed firmly against his husband. "Now I'm having fun," Derek said when the kiss broke.

Stiles bit the bottom of his lip, his gaze moving from Derek's mouth, to his soulful green eyes and back. He grinned. "God, I love you." He burst into laughter. It lit his entire face. "Are we going to be this gross forever?"

"I hope so," Derek replied with a chuckle. There was fire in his blood and electricity in their touch. Their love was intense and deep because it grew over such a long time. He loved the feel of his husband in his arms. Truthfully, it was the only time he didn't feel sharp anxiety. "Can I admit something?"


"I've always wanted to have sex in a cave," Derek said somewhat sheepishly. He looked way from Stiles as he said it, almost as if he feared the judgement he'd receive for it.

Stiles smiled and placed his hand against Derek's scruffy cheek, turning his husband's head back so it was once more facing him. "I think that's a fantasy we can very easily fulfill."

Weylyn's nostrils flared and his eyes narrowed as ducked, narrowly escaping the rebounded spell. He trembled with an explosive rage. This man was not supposed to have magic. He was not supposed to be able to defend himself. That spell should have killed him.

He had spent the last several thousand years learning to master the wild beast that was magic. He could bend reality to his will in ways that Stiles would never even hope to achieve. So why, then, wouldn't this impertinent Druid die?

Stiles felt his stomach flutter again. He felt the magic building. Whatever it was, it was going to be powerful. He just needed to buy the time it took.

"Before we finish this, I want you to tell me why you interfered with my baby," Stiles demanded.

Weylyn smirked. "I wouldn't refer to it as a baby… such cute terms don't really apply to anything quite so evil."

"What do you mean?" Peter interjected.

Weylyn paid him no mind. Instead, he kept his eyes focused on Stiles. "That child growing inside you is going to have access to some of the most powerful magical abilities ever granted. I made sure of that. In that way, he's as much my son as he is yours or Peter's. I was born with powerful magic that others taught me to use for selfish gain. That is the path for those who come into this world with that sort of power. Evil will sing to him like sirens on the shoreline, pulling him closer and closer to destruction."

Stiles' hand found its way to his belly instinctively. He cast a glance over to Derek who was watching slack-jawed. Talia seemed to have a look that bordered somewhere between sorrow and arrogance at having been right. Weylyn continued. "You always wished for a child who had inherited the ability to do magic, Stiles. Any child you had with Derek would be a Werewolf. His Alpha genes were too dominant. I made sure that this one would be like you and me. And I made sure that he would inherit the corruption that comes with such a cursed gift."

"Why would you do that to a child?" Stiles demanded. "He's innocent in all of this."

Weylyn laughed. "Oh Stiles… it's really anything that I've done. The darkness that will grow in him like a malignant cancer, poisoning everything he touches… that all came from you. It came from that side of yourself that was ambitious enough to try and tackle the Forbidden Acts. It came from the long-simmering rage you've felt since you were a child. Not even Peter Hale is responsible for the evil that will become this child. Every bit of that blame resides on your shoulders."

Stiles didn't want to believe him. He would raise Kellen to be good. He would ensure that his family was always able to guide him away from the darkness. This was a trick… it had to be. This was Weylyn lashing out at him… Stiles needed to believe that.

Magic that had been building began firing from him indiscriminately. It was like several thousand bombs going off at one time. The earth shook and his ears rang from the deafening roar of it. The flow of it blasted out of his hand. It felt cold… dark. The feel of it as it ran through him was sickening. Every nerve in his body seemed to be alight with the painful sensations of ripping and tearing.

He felt disoriented and nauseous when the bombardment of magic finally abated. He fell to his hands and knees, retching. Blood and bile surged up into his throat and mouth, filling it with the putrid copper taste. He spat it out as best he could. He looked over and saw Weylyn standing there, a sad shock on his face. Stiles struggled to breathe through the flurry of dust and sand that had been kicked up by the display. The magical barrier came down

Derek, who had been watching with fists clenched so hard that blood dripped from them, listened closely for heartbeats. He heard his mother's, his sister's, his uncle's, Argent's. He heard the fast fluttering of Kellen's. But there was only one other heartbeat. Stiles slowly forced himself to his feet. His body felt completely drained of energy. Everything hurt. This was the most physically painful thing he had ever endured… well, second-most. Receiving his magic from Loki hadn't been a pleasant experience.

Still, Weylyn didn't move. The breeze passed through and Stiles saw little flecks of dust being blown from the ancient one's skin. It wasn't surprising, considering how much had been kicked up during the blasts. Stiles was having a hard time breathing because it was so thick in the air. Only after the man's features began to fade did Stiles realize that it wasn't dust he was watching blow away. It was Weylyn. Whatever magic Kellen had pushed through to him had been dangerous and powerful… but also dark.

It had been the darkest magic Stiles had ever encountered and it had come from his son. He watched as the wind took Weylyn bit by bit.

Loki's eyes shimmered as he watched Weylyn collapse into a pile of dust and clothing. He let out a high-pitched cackle and clapped his hands excitedly. "That was better than anything I could have ever imagined."

The Hales looked among one another. Nobody seemed to know quite how to react to what they just saw.

"If there's nothing else," Loki said, "I'm going to head off."

"Wait!" Stiles said quickly, still trying not to choke on the acrid mixture of blood and vomit that polluted his mouth. "What about my magic?"

"You cast the Fourth Act," Loki replied. "I can't restore it. It has to come back in its own time."

"But how long is that?" Derek asked.

"It really won't matter if he's dead. You should focus on making sure he survives giving birth to that abomination inside him." Loki gave another cackle and disappeared.

Stiles' shirtless back was pressed against the wall of the cave as Derek thrust up into him. His grunts and moans echoed back to him. It only served to the Alpha on all the more. Stiles' eyes were closed and he bit his bottom lip. "Fuck! Derek..." he moaned.

Derek didn't need to ask if Stiles was close. It was perfectly evident in his scent. He was, too. He held off as long as he could, giving himself permission only when Stiles had, too. The roar he let out surprised even himself. The walls of the cave shook. Rocks began to fall from the ceiling. Immediately Derek tried to shield Stiles with his own body. They waited for the debris to stop raining down on them before Derek finally moved from atop his husband. "Are you okay?" he asked.

In truth, Derek's quick motion had taken the wind from his lungs. "I think so," he replied, coughing a bit. The stood and pulled their clothes back onto their bodies. Derek stumbled a bit.

"Are you okay?" Stiles asked, watching him.

"There's wolfsbane," he said. "It's in the air… everywhere."

"Go outside and get away from it," Stiles said. "I'll check to see what happened and meet you out there in a second."

"I don't want to leave you alone," Derek said, his eyes fluttering slightly as he leaned against the wall for support.

"Don't worry about me. I'll be fine. You get outside." Derek nodded and stumbled his way out of the cave while Stiles ventured further into it.

It didn't take him long to find where the wolfsbane was coming from. A wall of the cave had collapsed. Behind it had been another wall made of clay and laced with wolfsbane. When it crumbled, the dust had poured into the air, affecting Derek. He pulled his shirt up to cover his mouth and nose as he continued further into the cave. Nobody had ever seen this part of the cave before, he was certain. A narrow path led down deeper into the earth. His ears popped painfully from the pressure.

He gazed for a moment at a waterfall that poured gracefully down into a lake below. It was gorgeous. Stiles wished Derek could see this with him.

When he was far enough away from the water, he began to hear the faint sounds of a person struggling. Cautiously, he ventured toward the noise.

The narrow path led to a large opening. On a rock was a man, shackled with chains that were bolted into the ground. "What the fuck?" he whispered to himself. Defying every instinct inside him that told him to run far and fast, he approached the imprisoned man.

A key hung on the wall, easily visible to the man. That had to be part of the torture… to see the item that could free him, but unable to ever get it.

"I'm going to get you out of here," Stiles said, unsure if this man even spoke English. He dashed across the room and grabbed the key, which was large and obviously very, very old. His hands trembled slightly as he worked the key into the rusty latch of the manacles that held the man's wrists and ankles. One by one, each unlocked and fell to the ground with a loud clanging sound that reverberated off the walls.

The newly-freed man rubbed at his wrists as he studied Stiles, his expression unreadable.

"You're welcome, by the way," Stiles said impertinently as he crossed his arms.

"I didn't say 'thank you,'" the man replied.

"Yeah, I know," Stiles quipped. "But generally, when someone frees you from whatever the hell kind of bondage scene that was, a display of gratitude is typically warranted."

The man was unfazed by Stiles' rebuke. "If you say so."

"Why were you chained up, in the first place?" Stiles asked, feeling as though he had the right to know, if the man wasn't going to at least thank him for his help.

"I might have helped to kill Frigga's favorite son. It's not my fault she forgot about mistletoe," he replied. "And he went to Valhalla… it's not like he got hurt… too badly."

Stiles' head snapped. He narrowed his eyes, blinking rapidly, gawking at the man in confusion. "That's the mythology of Loki, the trickster god."

"Mythology?" the man replied, rising to his feet. "You impertinent little bastard! That's not mythology. That's my legacy. I was supposed to stay here until Ragnarök. Now I'm going to have to try and occupy my time. I can't exactly go back to Asgard."

"Wait a minute… You're Loki?" Stiles asked. "As in the Loki?" One of the first things he had learned on his path to becoming Derek's Emissary was that there was truth to every legend and myth. Every god he'd ever heard about and even those he hadn't were real and some of them were here on Earth. He was standing in front of a member of the Aesir.

"What other Loki would there be?" he demanded, growing quickly tired of Stiles' presence.

"If you're a trickster god, that means you have the power to grant magic," Stiles said. "I want it. I freed you… it's the least you could do."

Loki laughed. "The least I could do is kill you where you stand. Granting magic isn't exactly an easy process. And it certainly doesn't come free."

"It's not free. I just removed your chains."

"But I didn't ask you to. You can't offer something in payment that was never requested in the first place. If you want magic, you must agree to give me your soul," Loki said.

"My soul?"

"Yes. It becomes mine upon your death. For my part, I won't do anything to hasten your death, but there's my price."

Stiles thought about it for a moment. It was a steep price, but how often did one come across a trickster god? He had been hoping to perhaps encounter a faerie or some other creature that could help him in some way… but this was far better. "Fine. I accept your price."

Loki smiled. "Seal it with blood." He handed Stiles a dagger.

Stiles hated the sight of blood. He hated sharp things near his skin. He closed his eyes and looked away as he used his right hand to drag the blade of the dagger across his left palm. He winced as the pain of it hit him. Loki took his bleeding hand and brought it to his mouth, licking the dripping blood from it.

It stained the god's teeth red, making his disconcerting smile even more fearsome. When he released Stiles' hand, the wound had closed.

"I don't feel any magic yet," Stiles said.

"I haven't given it to you yet," Loki replied. "Let's start with the basics shall we? The four elements. Water…"

The sensation of drowning overtook Stiles. He felt the water in his mouth and throat, soaking his clothes and skin.

When Stiles was finally able to draw breath, only moments before passing out, Loki said, "Earth." Sand and rocks billowed up from the ground, surrounding him in a whirlwind of that cut at his skin and burned his eyes. He felt the grit of it in his mouth. Most of his sopping clothes were torn and hung raggedly from his body.

"Fire." The shriek Stiles emitted was nothing in comparison to the feeling of the flames licking his skin, burning him, moving inside and burning out everything there, too. His clothing had been reduced to ash and he feared his skin would blacken and char with the heat of the inferno racing through his veins.

"Air." Hurricane force winds pushed Stiles into the far wall of the cave. The sharp rocks dug into his naked flesh as the torrent of air forced its way into the human's body. His lungs felt ready to burst as they were filled to capacity and then some. The rocks dug further into his skin as the force of the wind pushed him further and further into the wall.

"And now for the mens maleficarum," Loki said and Stiles' head felt like it was going to split open. The air was no longer pressing him into the wall. Unable to support himself, he fell to the ground, writhing in agony as he clutched his head. The knowledge of how to use the powers he'd been given etched themselves into his brain. It felt like Loki was carving the instructions into his head with a knife.

When the pain finally subsided, Stiles thought he might be dead.

"I've given you what you asked for," Loki said. "We'll see each other again when it's time for you to die."

Talia watched as Peter paced back and forth. Deaton would only allow one person in the room as Stiles gave birth. Being the husband, Derek was the natural choice. "Is it supposed to take this long?" he asked.

"Well, it depends on a multitude of factors," Talia said. "But you have got to calm down."

"What if Stiles dies? What if the baby dies?" Peter asked. "Derek should have come out to update us by now."

"Alan will make sure both are alright," Talia assured him.

Minutes later, the Hales' former Emissary appeared with a child bundled in his arms. He passed it to Peter who eagerly took the child in his arms. He was so small, but he slept peacefully.

"How is Stiles doing?" Talia asked.

"The last two times, he used his magic to heal himself… He's really weak and he lost a lot of blood," he replied. "If you want to come in, you can. I don't know how much longer he's going to last."

"Certainly," Talia said, leaving Peter alone with the baby.

As Peter gazed down at the sleeping face, he was completely enamored. He committed every tiny detail to memory. He had dark lashes and wisps of fine, dark hair on his head. He opened his mouth to yawn. Peter didn't realize he was crying until he saw the droplet of water fall onto Kellen's forehead.

Peter couldn't remember the last time he'd ever felt a more complicated swell of emotions. This was love at first sight. He didn't know that he'd be able to hand Kellen over if Derek decided to take the boy from his arms. He never wanted to let his son out of his sight… yet he knew he had to.

He heard what Weylyn said. He heard that Kellen would face a lifelong draw towards darkness. It became more imperative that Derek was the boy's father. It was his best chance.

Peter had been alone in the nursery for hours when Chris finally joined him. "He's beautiful," he remarked.

Peter chuckled. "He's going to have the Hale looks, that's for sure."

"As long as he didn't inherit your fondness for V-neck shirts. I don't think the world would be able to handle that," Chris joked. "How's Stiles?"

"I don't know," Peter admitted. "I've been in here with him."

When Stiles stumbled his way out of the cave, he wasn't naked anymore. He wasn't covered in burns or blood. His clothes weren't wet and no dirt clung to his skin.

"What took you so long?" Derek asked.

"Well," Stiles replied, taking a deep breath. "I now know why the other Druids wanted us to come to Sweden."

"Besides the great food and sight-seeing?" Derek joked. Stiles snapped his fingers and a flame appeared in his palm. Derek slowly backed away, his eyes fixed on the dancing flame. "Are you… are you using magic?"

Stiles nodded emphatically. An excited grin affixed itself to his face. "Can you believe it? This is so freaking cool! I don't have to use a baseball bat to protect my friends anymore!"

"Put that flame away… please," Derek said, averting his eyes and turning his back toward his husband.

After a simple gesture, the flame was gone. "Der, what's wrong? I thought you'd be more excited…"

"What's wrong is that magic is dangerous. Born werewolves are taught to avoid it at all costs because it's unpredictable and the people who wield it can't be trusted with it," Derek replied. "I know I can trust you but… bringing magic into Beacon Hills—like actual magic, not just the supernatural creatures and their abilities—that is going to have consequences and the little bit of peace we've had is gone."

Stiles closed the distance between him and his husband. He wrapped his arms around Derek's slender waist and leaned his head against the Alpha's muscular back. He was familiar enough with Derek's body to know that he was probably resting it on the Triskele tattoo. "We've been in danger from the moment we first met. We haven't had but maybe a few weeks of rest at a time. If I have magic that I can use to help keep our friends and family safe, then I want to use it. When we start our family, I want to know that I can protect our children as good as you can."

Derek turned around slowly, returning the tight embrace that Stiles still held on him. "You want to start a family?"

Stiles didn't answer right away. That had simply slipped out. "Uh," he stammered. "Eventually, I guess. And maybe magic can help us do that, too… I'm not sure. All I know is that—"

Derek's mouth clamped hard over Stiles', silencing him immediately. Derek had always wanted to become a parent. He wanted to raise children… to teach them how to control their shifts… to celebrate the Wolf Moon and the other Lunar holidays with them… to show them how to protect themselves during an eclipse… He didn't think any of that was possible for him. If Stiles' magic could give them a family, he'd be willing to set aside any of his preconceived notions about magic and those who wield it. After all… this was Stiles. This was the man he never meant to fall in love with… the guy who captured his heart one annoying snarky comeback at a time.

Talia couldn't remember the last time she had seen so much blood outside of a person's body. Derek held his husband's hand in his own. Stiles' hair was matted to his forehead in sweat. He looked pale—paler than normal—and was unconscious. Talia saw the black trail running up her son's veins as he did his best to siphon off the pain.

"Mom, I need to ask you something." Derek's voice was shaky and uneven.

"Sweetheart, what is it?" Talia asked, placing a comforting hand on her son's back.

"If I sacrifice my power as an Alpha to save him, will you take over as the leader of our Pack?" Derek asked. "I don't care about being an Alpha. I really don't. I sacrificed it once before to save Cora. I can do it again to save Stiles."

"Derek, the fact that it worked on Cora was a miracle. The odds of that working twice are monumentally stacked against you," Talia said.

"I don't care what the odds are," Derek replied.

"You promised that if it came to that, you would let him die," Talia reminded him.

"In the fight, not in birth," Derek said. "Stiles knew my kids need me… but they don't need me as an Alpha. So please, mom. Answer the question. Will you take over as the leader of our pack?"

Talia exhaled forcefully, studying her son's face. He could be stubborn when he wanted to be. It was a Hale trait. "Yes," she said at last. "I will."

Derek turned back toward Stiles and resumed the painful task of taking his husband's pain. There was so much of it. This was worse than when Cora was dying. He was forcing his power to heal into his husband.

He could feel the sudden drop in his power.

"Derek, let go," Talia urged. "Derek…. Stop… you'll kill yourself."

Derek forced himself to release Stiles' hand. He toppled over out of his chair and onto the ground. Darkness closed in on him.

He woke up to the sensation of cool water dripping down his face. His mother leaned over him, trying to cool him with a wet piece of cloth, running ice cubes across his dry lips to keep them from cracking. He forgot how much it hurt.

It felt like he had been run over by several trucks as he slowly tried to sit up. The room around him spun and he closed his eyes, willing himself not to vomit.

"Did it work?" he asked when he was finally able to catch his bearings enough to form words.

Talia nodded. "Stiles is in the nursery with Kellen."

Derek heaved a sigh of relief. At least it wasn't for nothing.

"You almost killed yourself, you know," Talia said by way of soft admonishment.

"But I didn't."

"You got lucky," replied Talia stiffly.

"Do you know what it would have done to me if you died in that process?" she asked. "You know what a parent's love is like… how would it feel if one of them died?" Derek couldn't bring himself to even consider that possibility. "Never ever do anything like that again."

Derek smiled. It felt good to be lectured by his mom again.

"Do you want to see the baby?" Talia asked.

Derek nodded and Talia rose to go get Stiles. They returned a few minutes later, the baby wrapped soundly in his blanket. He was awake and letting out occasional giggles as he took in the world around him. Carefully, Stiles passed him to Derek. He held the child gently as he had done to Aria and Gabe when they were newborn. He saw Kellen's wide eyes gazing up at him. He also saw his own eyes, glowing bright yellow—not blue—reflected back at him.

Chapter Text

Gabriel looked at Kellen over Peter's shoulder. "That's my brother," he said proudly.

"Yes, he is," Peter replied as he held the bottle up so that the baby could feed.

"Uncle Peter, can I ask a question?" Gabe asked.

"Already took some liberty on that one, didn't you?" Peter replied sourly.

"No really!" Gabe insisted.

"Go ahead."

"Why does he look like a hairy potato?"

Peter tensed. He knew Gabe meant it innocently, but the perceived slight on his son still drew out his strong protective urges. "You looked like this when you were a baby."

"I did?"

"Yeah. You looked so much like a potato I almost mashed you," Peter said. Gabe's eyes widened and he looked up to see his aunt in the doorway.

"Aunt Cora!" he said, running over to her. "Uncle Peter said he wanted to mash me like a potato!"

"I heard him," Cora replied, picking her nephew up. "But you were the cutest little potato I'd ever seen."

In a hushed voice, he whispered into Cora's ear, "We're not gonna eat my baby brother are we?"

"No!" she laughed in response. "We're not going to eat your baby brother."

The little boy seemed only marginally at-ease. "We still haven't decided about you, though." Peter chuckled at the way the boy's eyes bulged wide.

"DADDY!" Gabe screamed as he ran out of the room and down the hall to his parents' bedroom.

Derek was lying on the bed. He still hadn't regained his full strength, which worried both Stiles and Talia.

"Gabe? What's wrong?" he asked in a weak, hoarse voice.

"Uncle Peter's gonna eat me!"

"No he's not," Derek replied. Gabe climbed up onto the bed. Being around his children made him feel stronger, if only for the time they were there. "Come up here, I'll protect you from Uncle Peter."

Gabriel climbed up into the bed and nuzzled in against his dad. "You need to get better," Gabe told him.

"I'm trying, buddy," Derek said. "I really am."

"I want you to be our Alpha again," he asserted. "That's the way it's supposed to be. You're the Alpha, Daddy's the Emiss-iss-issary. And me, Aria, Aunt Cora, and Uncle Peter are your betas."

"Well, now Grandma is our Alpha," Derek told him. "Remember what I've always taught you." He traced the symbol of the triskele onto his son's chest with his finger. "Each of us has the power to rise to Alpha, no matter if we're Beta or Omega, but even the most powerful Alpha can fall to Beta or Omega."

"Why aren't you an Alpha anymore?"

Derek sighed. Generally, he and Stiles had a policy of being honest with their children. By necessity, their lives would involve enough lying as it was. He just didn't want to scare his little boy. He wrapped his arms around him, pulling him tight to his chest. "Sometimes, if someone is really sick and they're not healing the way they should, an Alpha can force them to get better if they sacrifice the extra bit of power that makes them an Alpha."

Gabe remained silent for a while as he absorbed this information. He looked up at his father's face with deeply concerned eyes. "Dad almost died when he gave birth to Kellen, didn't he?"

"Yeah," Derek replied. "He almost died. But I was able to give him the little bit of extra power I had as an Alpha and that helped him to live."

"It's Kellen's fault," Gabe said softly. His eyebrows furrowed as he tried to piece together the information he'd been given.

Derek shook his head. "No, it's not. It's the bad man's fault. He put your dad in a position where he had to sacrifice his magic to help save us all. So then your dad didn't have the magic to heal himself after he gave birth to Kellen."

Gabe sounded out the word sacrifice. "What does that mean?"

"It means giving up something that's really important to you to help something or someone who is even more important to you," Derek replied.

"You sacrificed for dad." It was a simple statement, but the tone conveyed depths of gratitude that Derek had never considered someone as young as his son capable of having.

Stiles wasted no time in researching what might be causing his husband's eyes to return to their prior yellow color. Talia walked in with a cup of coffee and some food on a plate. Apparently it was breakfast time. Stiles didn't realize that he had worked all night.

"Eventually you're going to need to sleep… and bond with your new son," she said as she sat the food down on his workspace.

"The last time his eyes did this, it was shortly after Kate did some sort of weird were-jaguar voodoo and de-aged him. He lost his powers and almost died," he said. "I didn't face off against Weylyn and Loki just to lose him like this."

"Nor did you face Weylyn and Loki and survive childbirth thanks to Derek's sacrifice just to drop dead of exhaustion. Stiles, you've got to take a break," Talia pleaded with him.

It was true and he knew it. He could pull all-nighters like this when he had magic because he could use his magic to give him energy to get through the day. He finally sat down and took a sip of the coffee she brought. Though it was the best coffee he'd drank in a while, it didn't so much as put a dent in the exhaustion he felt. She made cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Stiles could tell they were from scratch. Steam still rose from his as melting icing oozed down the side. The sharp bite of the cinnamon was tempered by the sweet dough and sugary icing as he slowly tore into it.

"I have no magic and Derek could be losing his powers entirely… I don't know what to do," he admitted. Though he tried to mask it, the fear he felt came through in his voice.

"I know," she said softly. "I know. But I have faith in you, Stiles. I have faith that you're going to figure this out and fix everything."

"You don't even know me that well. How could you have that much faith in me?" he asked.

"Because I've seen what you're willing to do and how far you're willing to go to protect the ones you love."

The sweat poured down Stiles' face, running into his eyes and stinging them. He'd been tinkering with his jeep, Roscoe, for hours. He was pretty sure that this time, Roscoe wasn't coming back.

His face and hands were covered in grease stains. He took his shirt off to avoid having to completely throw it away after.

"Why do you still bother with this old thing?" came a familiar voice.

"Because Roscoe has gotten me through a lot. I can't give up on him now," Stiles replied, turning around to see the tall, handsome werewolf walking up his driveway.

"It kind of looks like he's given up on you," Derek pointed out.

"Roscoe hasn't given up," Stiles said, slapping his hand against the metal paneling. "He's just… getting some beauty rest."

"Well, since Roscoe's resting, would you maybe want to come to the movies with me?" Derek asked.

Using a hose to wash off as much of the grease and sweat as he could before heading inside, he bought himself time to consider his answer. Were they going as friends? Were they going as more than friends? What exactly were they now?

"I'd have to shower first. You wouldn't have to be a werewolf to smell how much I reek right now."

Derek chuckled. "You said it, not me."

Stiles considered the distance between their bodies. Why was it so awkward for him now? Certainly, they'd had sex a few days ago. They had amazing, mind-blowing, earth-shattering sex that Stiles would remember until his dying day… but they hadn't discussed what that meant for them.

It wasn't until Derek closed the distance, pressing his body against Stiles. Stiles was pinned between the counter and Derek. The Werewolf teased him for several minutes before finally allowing their lips to touch. The kiss was just as sweet, just as electric as it had been the other day. This was definitely a date and Stiles couldn't believe how excited he was at that prospect. He was about to go on a date with Derek Hale… the broody, handsome Werewolf who had saved his life and whose life Stiles had saved on numerous occasions. This was a real thing that was actually happening in the world. He tried to contain his excitement, knowing that Derek would be able to smell it.

He had to escape as his stomach twisted with giddy excitement. "I'm going… uh… to take a shower now," Stiles said.

"A cold shower?" Derek asked knowingly. Stiles blushed a furious shade of crimson.

While the human washed up, Derek spent time in his bedroom. The room smelled distinctly like him, especially the bed. Derek had to fight down the urge to wallow on it to get the scent on himself. Sex with Stiles changed things for them. He was fairly certain that the pull he felt to Stiles that night was an indication that he might have found his mate. Simultaneously he was overjoyed and terrified of that prospect.

When it came to love, he had a ridiculously bad track record. He was afraid that such close proximity to him would bring Stiles harm. He didn't know that he could handle that guilt.

Then again, he was certain that he had never once felt like this. This was beyond chemical. This was instinct. Over the course of the past few months, Stiles had become his best friend, his confidante, and was even training to become his Emissary. Deaton had been assigned to be the Emissary to the Hale pack, but it was obvious that he was now Scott's Emissary. Stiles didn't even have to be asked. He volunteered. He wanted to do that.

Derek marveled at how this boy who had once annoyed the living shit out of him… this boy whom he had on multiple occasions considered killing simply for the convenience of it and yet now, he wanted to learn everything about him. He wanted to be near him. He wanted to hold him, to kiss him.

When Stiles entered the room, the towel wrapped around his waist, his hair still wet, and droplets of water dripping down his body, Derek swallowed hard. Immediately his eyes glowed red. Stiles paused, realizing what that meant. Derek closed his eyes in shame and turned his head away. "Stiles, I'm so sorry," he said.

The towel fell to the floor and Stiles wrapped his arms around Derek. "Don't be. It's not like we haven't seen each other naked."

"True," Derek said, still squeezing his eyes shut. "But now that we've… you know… done it, I don't want you to think that it's all I want from you."

"What do you want from me?" Stiles asked.

"For starters," Derek replied. "I want for you to put on at least some underwear if we're going to have this conversation."

He heard the opening of a drawer, some rustling fabric, and then Stiles' voice. "It's okay. I'm covered."

Derek cautiously opened his eyes. Stiles already had jeans on and was rifling through his shirts, settling on a blue one with the Captain America shield emblazoned on the front. Derek could concentrate, now.

"So what do you want from me?" Stiles asked again.

He couldn't just come out and say that he thought they might be Mates. Nervously, he balled one hand into a fist, and patted the flat of his other hand against it as he searched for words that might not completely scare Stiles off.

"Stiles, I never really imagined myself ever dating a guy," he started. Immediately he wanted to punch himself in the face. This was off to such an impressively awful start. "If truth be told, I fooled around with some guys a long time ago and I didn't like it."

"Oh," Stiles said, his face immediately sinking.

Suddenly the room smelled of sadness and heartache. Exactly the opposite of what he was going for. For fuck's sake, Derek! He scolded himself. "But with you, it's different. I…" He had faced down Hunters, his psychotic uncle, a kanima, a pack of homicidal super-Alphas, a vengeful evil Druid, a Nogitsune, Oni demons, a string of assassins who put a bounty on his head, a Were-Jaguar, and berzerkers, and yet he had never felt as afraid as he did in this very moment. "I…" he began. He wanted to say it. He wanted to make this honest declaration. It had been building in him for some time now. The sex had only cemented that idea in his brain.

"I love you, too," Stiles said.

Suddenly the anxiety and fear he felt was gone. Derek stared at Stiles. "You do?" Stiles nodded and Derek rushed forward, grabbing him and pulling him tight. "I was so afraid that I was going to scare you off."

"Haven't you learned by now that I'm going to stick by your side, Sourwolf?" Stiles replied.

"You don't know how much it means to me, Stiles," Derek said honestly. "I don't have many people in my life I can depend on. A history like mine isn't exactly one that teaches you to trust people."

"Does this mean that we're boyfriends?" Stiles asked.

"Do you want to be?"

Derek's strength slowly returned to him. The approaching full moon helped quite a bit. He kept a steady eye on his three kids as he made lunch for the two older ones. Stiles was out at an audition, Cora had returned to her home, Peter was with Chris, and Talia was tracking down every Alpha she knew in an attempt to figure out what was happening to Derek.

Aria and Gabe were taking turns holding Kellen. Of course, it quickly turned into an argument about how much time each of them got to hold the baby and the possible correlation between that time and how much Kellen might end up preferring one to the other.

Kellen's sharp cries pierced the air as Gabe snatched him from his sister's arms. He was a normally very quiet child… much quieter than Aria and Gabe had been. It became immediately clear, however, that there was something abnormal about the way Kellen cried. All glass items in the vicinity cracked or shattered. Gabe and Aria covered their ears and dove away. Derek had to fight the urge to do the same as he grabbed the infant and attempted to soothe him.

Silent tears rolled down his older children's faces. "Daddy, my ears…" Aria said. Thick, crimson blood was running down the sides of her face. Same with Gabriel, who was also sporting a nose-bleed. The continued cries so close to Derek's head were making him dizzy. He needed a pacifier… a bottle… anything to get Kellen to stop crying.

Luckily he saw the pacifier nearby and once it was placed into Kellen's mouth, the baby closed his eyes, contented with his distraction. Derek held one fist to his mouth, fighting back the urge to vomit. He was having a difficult time hearing, as he imagined his kids were, too. He could feel his ear drums slowly suturing themselves back together. Carefully, he placed Kellen in the bassinet as he worked to help his other kids.

This was how he knew they were really suffering. From them, loudly audible cries typically were an attempt to draw attention. When they cried silently, there was something truly wrong with them. Still working with shaky equilibrium, he managed to sit down on the floor and pull them into his arms. He softly stroked their backs with his hands, drawing off the pain little by little. He would suffer it for them.

After roughly 20 minutes, Gabe and Aria were completely healed and without being told, went upstairs to their bedrooms to lie down. Derek picked up his phone to text Stiles.

D: When are you going to be back?

S: The audition is almost over. 30 mins tops?

D: If there's any way you can hurry that, please do. I really need to talk to you.

S: Is everything ok?

S: You're worrying me…

D: This isn't a conversation for text messages. Just please get home ASAP.

Stiles didn't respond to the last text, but Derek could see from the indicator that he'd at least read it. One thing was absolutely certain about Kellen: he had access to his magic and he didn't know how to control it. That lack of control meant that all of them were in danger.

When Stiles came home, he looked panic-stricken. "Derek, what happened?" He looked around, surveying the aftermath of the sharp fragments of glass everywhere. "Was it hunters? Where are the kids?"

"They're fine now. They're in their rooms. This was all done by Kellen," Derek said. "Aria and Gabe were holding him and he started crying. Suddenly all of the glass was shattering and the three of us had our ear-drums burst. Gabe was bleeding so much…" He pressed his hands to the side of his head as he readied himself to say the next words. "When we decided that we would raise him as mine, I didn't realize that I'd be putting my actual children in danger."

"He was born with magic. That's incredibly rare and he probably has little to no control over it," Stiles said, unintentionally defensively. "It's not his fault."

"I'm not saying it is. I'm saying that I won't put Aria's and Gabe's wellbeing at risk," Derek said. "We need to find a way to keep him from using his magic until he's a bit older, maybe once you've got yours back, you can teach him and help him control it. Until then, it needs to be bound or something."

Stiles was horrified by the suggestion. "Binding magic is inherently dark stuff, Derek. It's a restriction of free will. If what Weylyn said is true and he's prone to dark magic, we could only be exacerbating the problem if we use something like that on him."

"Then what do you suggest we do?" Derek demanded hotly. "What our children experienced was basically the Werewolf equivalent of being right up against a sound cannon as it went off. I don't care if the binding magic exacerbates that problem. We'll deal with that later. But right now, I want to make sure that any time he's hungry or needs a diaper change or just plain upset, that Aria and Gabe aren't going to be hurt as a side-effect. This time it was sound. Next time it could be something worse."

"Can I at least talk it over with Peter?" Stiles asked.

"Why would he need to be brought in on this?" Derek snapped. "Kellen is not his son."

Stiles chewed the inside of his jaw as he gazed off. The ball of anxiety in his chest burned. Derek had a point, he reasoned. Aria and Gabe had just as much of a right to safety and security as Kellen did.

Several long minutes of silence passed between them. "I can do the binding ritual without my magic… but I can't impress upon you how dangerous this is."

"And I can't press upon you how terrified your son and daughter were when their ear drums ruptured and they couldn't even move to get to safety," Derek growled. "So to be quite frank, I don't give a fuck how dangerous it is."

With that, he shoved past Stiles and mounted the stairs to check on how the older two were doing.

Stiles lifted Kellen from the bassinette and cradled him. The boy's bright eyes stared up at him and he smiled. Stiles smiled back. Kellen let out a giggle. It was impossible to consider that it had been anything but an accident, but Derek's reasoning was solid. A newborn who couldn't even lift his head on his own had no business with the degree of power that ran through his veins.

As they sat down for dinner, Stiles' stomach was in knots. Certainly his dad already knew Derek. He'd even arrested him once or twice. His father also knew that they had been boyfriends for quite some time now, and, thanks to one incident a few months ago in which Stiles misread the calendar on the fridge and underestimated how much time they'd have the house to themselves, Noah Stilinski was keenly aware of the fact that Stiles and Derek were sexually active.

Stiles was an adult by now and Noah wasn't naïve enough to think that Stiles would never have sex. He was just naïve enough to think he'd never actually see it happening. On his couch.

The spread was standard fare: chicken, mashed potatoes, a few vegetables that Stiles insisted were heart-healthy, and some freshly-baked crescent rolls. "Everything smells so great, Stiles," Derek said.

"Really, it does," Noah echoed.

Dinner passed with no incident. Noah and Derek talked about sports and a few of the goings-on around the town. Derek assured him that it didn't seem like there was any supernatural element to it. When the meal was over, Noah stood. "Stiles, since you cooked, I'll clean up. You and Derek can go watch a movie or something."

"Thanks, Dad," Stiles replied. He helped to at least carry the dishes into the kitchen. He placed a peck on Derek's scruffy cheek before heading upstairs and bidding Derek to join him.

"I'll be right there," Derek said with a warm smile. He waited until Stiles was all the way up the stairs and out of earshot before taking a deep breath. "Mr. Stilinski," he began, but Noah cut him off.

"Please, Derek, call me Noah. I think we've moved past the whole 'Mr. Stilinski' thing by this point," replied the Sheriff as he rinsed off plates and placed them meticulously in the dishwasher.

"Well," Derek began again. "Noah… I am thinking about asking Stiles to marry me. But I was raised to be somewhat old-fashioned and thought it only appropriate to ask for your blessing first."

Noah didn't look up from his task. Instead, he allowed an uncomfortable silence to settle between them. "He's the only thing in the world that I have," he said. "His mother and I talked about having more kids, but Stiles was so much to handle and then Claudia got sick. There was no way we were going to be having any more children. He was it. The truth is, I always pictured myself having two sons. I had this idea of what it would be like to take them to baseball games… teach them how to fish… bring them camping. I never did any of that with Stiles, though."

Derek wasn't sure what to say. He could smell the complex mix of emotions emanating from the Sheriff, which only confused him further.

"Derek," Noah began again. "You are probably one of the most selfless people I have ever met in my life. I'd be proud to welcome you in as my other son." He turned and embraced Derek tightly. "Just treat him well and don't you ever hurt him."

"Thank you so much," Derek said as he returned the embrace. "I promise I'll treat him right."

When the two men pulled away, Noah asked, "So are you going to do it tonight?"

Derek shook his head.

"Well, if you need help setting up the surprise, just let me know," he offered.

Alan Deaton studied the text over Stiles' shoulder. He was silent. He was silent in the way that Druids are silent when they aren't happy about the conclusions they've come to. "You told Derek you could perform this ritual without your magic… why?"

"I needed to buy some time to find someone who could cast it for me," Stiles replied.

Deaton moved around the clinic office, taking from the shelves various jars of substances. "Do you remember when I had you draw the mountain ash line around the night club back when Jackson was a Kanima?"

"Yeah," Stiles replied.

"Do you remember what I told you about how it works?"

"You said that I have to believe it will work… that I have to give it that spark of life," Stiles replied.

"So something was able to happen because you believed that it could happen," Deaton said.

"What are you getting at?"

Deaton ignored him and instead continued. "When we were dealing with the Alpha Pack and Scott thought Derek was dead and he believed he couldn't heal. What happened to him?"

"His wounds never got better."

"Magic is strong, Stiles. It's all the forces of nature running through your veins at any given time. But at its deepest level, it is something that is woven into a person's DNA. You didn't gain the ability to do magic because you made a deal in a cave with Loki. The only thing Loki gave you was the knowledge of how to use your magic. He made you think he was giving you magic because that's the trickster nature within him. The contract between you two was merely an exchange of knowledge," Deaton explained.

"Whether that's true or not, I felt my magic leave me after that spell," Stiles said.

Deaton shook his head. "No spell, not even ones as powerful as the Forbidden Acts can take magic away from a natural-born user. It can, however, trick you into thinking that you can't use your magic as penance for doing something awful. There's a reason it doesn't give a set amount of time. Your magic is gone for as long as you believe it is… for as long as your guilt over having done something so awful as take away a person's free will can rule your mind."

"So you're saying that I've had my magic all along and Derek sacrificed his Alpha status for nothing?" Stiles demanded, growing angry. "Why is it that you always have so much information just in time to be completely useless?"

"I understand you're angry, Stiles. But you should understand above all that we are meant to keep the balance," Deaton replied. "And I assure you that Derek's sacrifice wasn't for nothing. I would never have let him do it if that were the case."

Stiles held the black candle over his child. With a snap of his fingers, the wick burst into a lively flame that danced with the subtle movements of the wind. Using his magic to keep the candle afloat, he took a length of twine and cut it into three even pieces. He tied one piece around the bottom of the candle, one around the middle, and one near the top. The candle represented his son's magic. The strings were the locks he'd place on the power. As the candle slowly burned over the course of the next 16 years, Kellen's magic would be incrementally returned to him.

The candle had to be kept safe, however. There was only one way he could ensure that it was never tampered with. He had to hide it within his son. Kellen would never know and that was for the best.

As he cast the net of complicated magic that went into a binding of this magnitude, Derek watched from the doorway. Slowly the net of magic began to shrink around Kellen and the candle disappeared inside the child. A faint symbol of the triskele appeared on Kellen's wrist. It was barely visible to anyone who wasn't specifically looking for it. As the boy's ability grew, the symbol would darken.

"That was hard to watch," Derek said softly when it was over. "I know you said that this is dark magic we've done, but it's for the best. You'll see that."

Chapter Text

"You've been up all night again," Derek said as he entered the nursery. "Get some sleep."

"No," Stiles replied, rocking Kellen in his arms. "I'll take care of him. But you can go see if your 'actual children' need you."

Derek winced as Stiles' words sliced through him. "I didn't mean that when I said it, Stiles. I was scared for Aria and Gabe. I shouldn't have said that. Kellen is and will always be my son."

"Are you sure?" Stiles asked bitterly. "Because if you're going to be his father, you need to be his father all the time and as equally as you are Aria's and Gabe's. He's different from them, I get it. But that doesn't mean that he needs you any less than they do. If anything, that means that he needs you more. He needs you to be there when shit hits the fan… when his heart is broken… when he doesn't know the correct choices to make… when he's human. If you're just going to be his dad during the time it's easy to do so, then he doesn't need you at all."

Though harsh, Stiles words were true. "It won't be like that, Stiles. I promise. I was speaking out of fear, not as a father. It won't happen again. You go get some sleep. I'll stay up with him, if you'd like."

Stiles was finding it damn near impossible to resist Derek's offer. He was a degree of exhausted that he'd never been before. Carefully, he stood and gently passed Kellen into Derek's waiting arms. Derek took the opportunity while they were still so close together to kiss him. "I love you," he said.

"I love you, too," Stiles replied before heading to bed. No sooner had his head touched the pillow was he out.

Alone in the room with Kellen, he cradled the child ever so carefully. He was just as in love with him as he had been with Aria and Gabe. But unlike when Aria and Gabe were newborn, he was also afraid of this child in his arms. He was so small but so powerful. Magic was still a force that, try as he might, Derek simply didn't understand. It made it harder to relate to his son. Both Aria and Gabe were Werewolves. Derek had been a Werewolf his entire life. He knew how to relate to them on that level and how to teach them when the time came.

Derek leaned his neck down and pressed his lips to his son's tiny forehead. Kellen didn't stir. He slowly and carefully placed the baby in his crib and returned to his bedroom. He kept the monitor low and near his head so that he could wake up and attend to Kellen if the need arose.

The doorbell's chime rang through the house. Derek couldn't remember the last time he'd heard it. They were so far removed from the town that even trick-or-treaters skipped their home… which was a tragedy, considering they always had the most realistic Werewolf costumes in town. As he approached the door, Derek heard two steady heartbeats. A glance through the peep-hole showed him that there was a man and a woman standing on his front porch carrying enough weaponry to arm a small militia. "Fuck!" he swore under his breath. He had confidence that he could easily take care of one of them. He doubted he could survive taking both by himself.

The doorbell chimed twice more in rapid succession and Stiles appeared at the top of the stairs, clearly annoyed that his studying had been interrupted. "Who is it?"

Derek shrugged and pantomimed the weaponry their uninvited guests were sporting. Stiles sped down the stairs and took a look for himself. He had been doing more research into what Deaton had told him. Talia still hadn't returned and they were no closer to solving the mystery of Derek's mysteriously changing eye color. But a chance to show off his magic and embarrass two hunters who chose the wrong house to approach was a welcome break from the monotony of archaic books.

"I can handle them both on my own. You go upstairs, gather the kids and hunker down in our bathroom," Stiles said.

He waited until Derek had ushered their confused children into their room and shut the door before he opened the front one.

"Typically when people don't answer a door bell it means they don't care for the company of the person ringing it," Stiles said plainly.

"You're the druid who defeated The Nameless One," the woman said. "That was quite an accomplishment."

"So are you hear to give me a medal or something?" Stiles demanded. "Because this family charges a $50 per second fee for solicitors and unwelcomed guests on our porch. You're racking up quite a bill."

They shared an uneasy look between one another. This time the man spoke. "We're Hunters," he said, confirming what Stiles already knew. "And we know that you recently gave birth to a child who is going to be a strong wielder of magic."

"And if I did, I don't understand how it's any of your business," Stiles said icily.

"We're here to take care of the child," the woman said.

Stiles' eyes flashed dangerously. "If you mean 'take care of' in the sense that you're going to provide babysitting service, I'm going to decline. We've got that covered." Stiles poised himself to begin firing battle magic at a moment's notice. "And if you mean 'take care of' in the sense that you intend to bring harm to even one of the hairs on his adorable, lavender-scented head, you and I are going to have a very big problem that I'll be forced to take care of."

"We know you had powerful magic of your own. You killed several of our group and cursed the one you let live," the man said. "But we also know you recently cast the Fourth Forbidden Act and your magic is useless right now."

Stiles grinned. "Oh really?" He cast his hands out, knocking both of them off the porch and onto their backs with powerful thuds. He quickly worked to separate them from their weapons. "It's a good thing my magic is useless… otherwise you'd be in a lot of danger." He walked slowly and purposefully off the porch, toward them. "Do you know how battle magic works?" he asked rhetorically. "It's instinctual. There aren't any spells required. I simply have to think about what I want to do to you and it happens. It's also strongest when I'm trying to protect my family."

It was clear from the looks on their faces that they greatly regretted the decision they made today.

"I made a mistake by letting one of you live the last time you threatened the people I love," he said. Vines sprang from the ground and snaked their way around the Hunters' limbs. They struggled hard against them, having been taught from a young age how to escape captivity if needed. They could struggle all they wanted. Stiles was still not going to let them live. "I don't tend to make the same mistake twice. I gave you a warning last time. This town is under my protection. Hunters are not welcome here and will be executed on sight. Your clan can keep coming and I will kill you all myself."

"Killing us will mean a declaration of war between the Hale Pack and the Nightborne Family," the man spat.

Stiles approached him and knelt down so that their faces were inches apart. "I don't think you heard me correctly. The Nightborne family isn't at war with the Hale Pack. You're at war with me. I've completed four of the six Forbidden Acts. I killed the unkillable Werewolf/Magician hybrid. So I want the last thought in your head to be about the gravity of just how much you fucked up by coming here and threatening my newborn son."

"Mors ascendet nobiscum!" The man said before he spat at Stiles.

The warm glob of saliva clung to his cheek. "Truer words have never been spoken," Stiles replied as he wiped away the spit. The vines forced themselves into the man's ears, nose, mouth, and eyes. As soon as he was dead, he was pulled into the ground, as if he'd never been there in the first place.

Stiles didn't need Werewolf hearing to know how rapidly the woman's heart was thundering. "Do you care to provide some more original last words?"

She repeated the same phrase in Latin. Stiles rolled his eyes and allowed the vines to take her in the exact same way they'd taken the man. He was going to have to strengthen the wards around his house once more. He thought he could relax a little now that Weylyn was dead. He chuckled at having been so stupid as to think that he of all people would have that luxury.

As Derek watched the incident from an upstairs window and listened to the way his husband's heart remained steady… the way it didn't so much as blip at the action of killing two people, he saw for the first time in years the darkness that Weylyn had spoken of. He saw the darkness of the Nogitsune… the darkness that was innately a part of the man he loved. That darkness was also, according to the enemy they just defeated, passed on to his son.

"Daddy, are we going to be okay?" Gabe asked timidly.

"Yes," Derek replied assuredly. "Your father and I won't let anything bad happen to you, I promise."

"You said that but then last time the man almost stole me," Gabe said softly.

It was Aria who spoke up this time. She wrapped her arms around her little brother and rested her head on his. "I can shift now. If someone tries to hurt you, I'll hurt them first."

Derek smiled inwardly at the gesture. He hoped his daughter would never need to make good on her promise, but he remembered years ago being in a similar situation.

It felt like he could finally breathe. They could stop running. In a city as big as New York, they could blend in. But not having to run meant that the gravity of what they had been running from could finally sink in. His mother, father, sister, aunts, cousins… all of them were dead. He couldn't get the scent of their burnt flesh out of his nose. He couldn't get the way their death and fear tasted in the air off his tongue. The first night in their Brooklyn apartment found Derek sitting on the floor—they would be having furniture delivered within the next few days—crying. "This is my fault," he sobbed. "Our family is dead because of me. Because I couldn't keep it in my pants and I had to show off to her."

"Kate Argent is a despicable piece of garbage," Laura replied as she pulled him toward her. She hadn't intended on inheriting the role of Alpha so early, but she would fulfil that role. She would protect her Beta—her brother by any means necessary. "Kate manipulated you, Derek. She preyed on the emotions of child and used that to commit a heinous act. She's the guilty one, not you."

"But I led her right to them! I told her that we'd be together, celebrating. I gave her the perfect chance to strike."

"Shhhh…" Her attempt at soothing him was also a command from his Alpha, so he remained silent. "I'm the Alpha now, Derek. If someone tries to hurt you, believe me… I'm going to kill them before they can finish the thought."

"What do you know about the Nightborne family?" Peter demanded of Chris as he hung up his phone.

"They're a Hunting family," Chris replied. "Their leader is a woman named Althea. They have family members quite literally all over the world. They're also the second-oldest Hunter family… second only to mine."

"Why are they trying to kill my son?" Peter asked.

The rage billowing off of him choked the air in the room. "Oh my god!" Chris exclaimed. "Is Kellen alright?"

"Kellen's fine. Stiles killed the two who came to attack him, but it was an act of war. Where can I find them because I'm going to rip every single one of them to shreds," Peter seethed.

Chris approached the angry Werewolf and placed his hands on Peter's shoulders, staring into the intensely angry eyes. "Peter, you're going to need to calm down. You don't become an old family because you're bad at what you do. Think it through. They sent two of their expendable ones to try and test whether or not Stiles had his power back. They had one of two plans: there might have been others waiting and observing or they had a set amount of time before those two were supposed to check in, either way, they know what they need to know."

When Peter was finally breathing normally, Chris moved away from him and toward the large book shelf, covered with impossibly old tomes. "The other thing about the Nightborne family is that it wasn't Werewolves they hunted, in fact they couldn't have cared less about Werewolves. They're the ones who propagated the whole silver kills werewolves thing because they knew my ancestors were handling the Werewolves well enough on their own. They had particular fun during the mid-1600s. Their specialty has always been hunting magic users. They see magic as a taint more abhorrent as lycanthropy. They particularly enjoy burning those who have it. They've left the Druid Emissaries alone, for the most part because they do a good job of ensuring the balance that exists naturally in the world continues… but between Stiles performing the Forbidden Acts and killing Weylyn… that requires incredibly powerful magic… powerful enough to put him on their radar as a threat to the balance."

"I've seen what magic can do… how are they able to kill magic users?"

"Hunters track and kill Werewolves by using the science of their kind against them. Magic is able to bend scientific rules to the point of breaking. The Nightbornes had to come up with more… magical means of doing their job," Chris said. He pulled two more books from his shelf and laid them out, flipping to the pages he needed. "Allium moly is a bulb plant related to the onion. It also, when mixed with the right quantities of mountain ash and certain strains of mistletoe, can grant powerful resistance to the effects of magic. The symbol they adopted for themselves was the Evil Eye. Anyone who is a member of the family by blood gets a tattoo of the Evil Eye made with ink that contains Allium moly, mountain ash, and mistletoe when they complete their training, kind of like how we forge our silver bullets."

"So they're combining magical resistance symbols. Those two things together are powerful. That means it…" Peter trailed off.

"It gives them resistance to magic," Chris finished. "Magic is mostly about intent and belief, though, so the protective spells Stiles casts should hold them off for now, because they believe in magic and therefore can't deny the power of the force acting on them."

"So if Stiles were to use battle magic on one of them… it would what? Bounce off?"

Chris shook his head. "Not really. It would be more like trying to dig a hole through the earth using just a plastic spork. The amount of energy needed to do any real harm would exhaust him and that's when they'd strike… when his magic is drained from overuse. The two he took out couldn't have had the Mark. It wouldn't have been so easy for him to take them out."

"So we need to tell Stiles not to use magic on them," Peter said. "Let us handle them… unless it somehow protects them from Werewolves, too."

"What we need to do is to tell Stiles to take his family and get as far away from Beacon Hills as he possibly can."

"I'd have to go with them," Peter said. "I need to be there to protect my son."

Chris sighed deeply. "I'm worried about you, Peter."

"You don't have to be."

"But I love you, so I am," came Chris' quick reply. "You keep calling him your son. The longer you do that, the harder it's going to be to hear Derek do the same thing… or to hear Kellen call you 'Uncle Peter.' I'm going to say something that's not going to be easy for you to hear and I hope you don't get mad at me for it… He's not your son. He's Derek's. You asked Derek to raise him and Derek agreed. You need to start thinking of him as your grand-nephew and not your son."

Peter's jaw set and he crossed his strong arms over his equally powerful chest. "As long as I adhere to the charade in public, no one will be any the wiser… but I actually feel a connection to him. I get this big ball of anxiety in my chest from being too far away from him. His scent is the only thing that gets rid of that anxiety. He's my son, Chris and I'm going to protect him."

Stiles rocked back and forth in the nursery, holding the bottle at the perfect angle for Kellen to be able to eat. Derek appeared in the doorway. "Aria and Gabe are doing a pillow fort. Gabe's afraid to go to sleep until he can shift and protect himself," he said. There was an obvious level of pain in his voice. Gabe was only four years old and he was thinking about needing to survive.

"We can't ever get a break," Stiles replied, audibly just as angry. "Next it's the Nightbornes. Assuming we're able to defeat them, what's next? Something else will come and try to hurt you or me or them." Stiles nudged his face toward Kellen for emphasis. Peter's been texting me all day. These guys are no joke… they basically just sent their Red Shirts today and we gave them all the info they needed."

"Red shirts?" Derek's face scrunched up in confusion. "Their clothes were black."

Stiles laughed. He forgot that there were still nerdy things that Derek didn't get. "In basically any episode of Star Trek, the people wearing the red colored shirts are going to be the ones to die if shit goes down."

"Do what you did to Weylyn," Derek said. "That display of power was pretty magnificent."

"That wasn't me, Der. That was Kellen," Stiles replied.

"He probably has enough fire power to deal with these people, but now it's bound and unless we can stall the Nightbornes for the next 16 years, or I have to tap into some dark magic that you really don't come back from," Stiles said. "We don't all walk away from this one, Derek."

"But we're sure as hell going to try." Derek's voice wavered at the thought of having to see any of his family members die.

Stiles hated this. He hated all of it. They had endured so much to get where they were. He couldn't accept that this was how it all was going to end. He didn't care about happily ever after. He cared about the daily monotony of life. He cared about packing school lunches and attending PTA meetings and staying up all night to help his children finish one science project or another. He cared about pillow forts in the living room and stealing away for a few moments to kiss his husband. He cared about birthdays and family meals. He cared about watching his dad teach them how to fish the human way. He cared about having a life that was unremarkable and exactly like every other life in suburbia. Stiles didn't notice that tears had even begun to well up in his eyes as he realized that he wasn't going to experience any of that with them.

Certainly they could win if he used his magic. They would win if he captured the darkness that Weylyn spoke of—the darkness that the Nogitsune fed from—and weaponized it against his enemies. They would win, but his humanity would be lost in the process. He might even be able to witness all of those little moments he imagined. But he'd be a shell. Hollow. Incapable of truly appreciating any of it. And that was only if he lived.

Chapter Text

Alistair Nightborne hated the cold and damp. The large manor house in Yorkshire was perpetually both. He begged his mother, Althea, to send him to California. He longed for the arid heat. He longed to have the sun bake down on him, driving the cold that had taken up a seemingly permanent residence in his bones. Instead, he watched from the top of the grand staircase as the two new American recruits were sent off with a third observer.

As they sat in the den watching the video of the two novices being strangled by vines and absorbed into the ground, Alistair was suddenly thankful for his mother's refusal to allow him on this mission. As their fallen comrades recited the clan motto, a Latin phrase meaning "Death rides with us," each member of the Nightborne family kissed the large ring on their right hand and whispered, "Mors ad finem faciam." It was a grim phrase… And death will carry you on. But it was the code by which they lived. The death of one… even one thousand witch hunters was encouraged if it would halt the blight of magic.

"Our family hasn't dealt with anyone that powerful in generations," Alistair pointed out. "How do we know if our so-called 'protections' still work?"

"Because the deal our ancestors made was binding and in perpetuity," Althea replied sternly.

"That old wives' tale?" Alistair rolled his eyes, crossing his arms over his chest. "Michael is a myth."

Althea's light green eyes narrowed as she looked at her son. "Are you saying our entire family history is a myth?"

"Not at all, mum. I'm saying that one of the Nightbornes had a big mouth and bit too much at the pub one night and suddenly our family has an ancient pact with the Archangel Michael to protect the purity of this world against witchcraft," Alistair snapped. "Bollocks, if you ask me."

"I didn't ask you," Althea reprimanded. "We have stood as a guard against the dangers of witchcraft for centuries because of the duty to our ancestral mission. We are protected by the mark that was given to us. We are the only Hunting family known to been sought out by the seraphim."

"You sound like a zealot. Can we not just agree that it's our job to burn powerful and dangerous magic users and keep it at that?" Alistair had no patience for the dogmatic ramblings of his mother. He heard this story a thousand times growing up. At 24, he was the youngest of all his siblings (all of whom were named after one angel or another… he was the only one who had been named for a demon) he was the only one who questioned the veracity of the lore. He much preferred an Occam's Razer approach. Certainly he had witnessed the supernatural. He'd killed plenty of Werewolves, wendigos, and even a Black Shuck or two. Faeries were particularly meddlesome in this part of the British moors, and instances of changelings were not uncommon.

He also knew of the Argent family and how their name and a certain English disdain for everything French eventually led to the myth about Werewolves being weak to silver. That was rubbish, too. Silver did nothing to kill Werewolves. The Argents did.

As his mother berated him for his lack of belief, Alistair drifted in and out of attention until it was clear he was dismissed. The bit that he managed to catch told him everything he needed. They were going to California to take out the Hale Emissary along with the mewling brat that had just been sired. Alistair smiled. At last he was going to escape the bloody dreadful sopping cold of Northern England.

As he packed suitcases full of clothing and witch-hunting gear, he heard a knock at his bedroom door. His oldest brother, Uriel, stood in the frame. He was powerfully built and an excellent marksman. He was also, in Alistair's opinion, unbelievably dense and struggled to form complete sentences, let alone independent thoughts. "You shouldn't challenge her. She's your mum, after all," he chastised.

Alistair heaved a deep sigh. "She's a bit touched in the head, is what she is."

"Don't talk about her like that!" Uriel growled.

Alistair rolled his eyes. "If you believe that an actual Archangel made a pact with our great-great-great-and-so-on grandfather, then you're touched in the head, too!"

"She was right to name you after a demon. You're as rebellious as Lucifer," Uriel snapped.

"If only," Alistair said under his breath. "At least Lucifer was able to get away from his overbearing and sycophantic brothers."

Blasphemy was an easy way to rile Uriel and he took the bait, just as Alistair knew he would. He smiled to himself as his brother slammed his bedroom door and lumbered down the hall. There were times when he wondered if he might be a changeling himself… or at the very least adopted. Certainly he was fine with the family mandate to remove supernatural threats to humans, but he could kill these monstrosities just as easily without the surrounding fairy tale his family held onto.

The wolf snapped playfully at the children as they chased him around the yard. The two children cackled gleefully. Allowing Gabe to catch him, Derek rolled over onto his back as both of his kids piled onto him. "I got you! I got you!" Gabe shouted proudly. He looked toward the porch to his other parent. "Did you see that?"

"Yes I did! You're getting fast!" Stiles replied. He was seated next to Cora, who was fawning over Kellen, making little faces and playing peek-a-boo. Kellen giggled melodically at the game and reached up, trying to grasp Cora's long hair as it dangled over him.

"He's quite cute," she said. "Let's just hope he didn't inherit Peter's philandering ways."

"He's settled down since getting back with Chris," Stiles replied. "To be honest, I'm kind of shocked. Who would have thought that Peter would fall in love… let alone with an Argent?"

"Stranger things have happened, I suppose," Cora replied before suddenly shuddering and wrinkling her nose. "Okay… one thing I don't handle is dirty diapers and he just made a hell of one." She quickly passed the baby over to Stiles, who stood and headed inside to change him. Cora followed, but at a distance.

"Any word yet on what's going on with Derek's eyes or powers?" she asked. Her brother-in-law simply shook his head.

As Stiles worked on changing the baby, he held his breath as his eyes watered. He hated diaper duty, but it seemed inhumane to ask any of the Werewolves to do it. Their senses were far better than his, and he had his magic to aid him. He shook his head in response. When he was done, he magicked away the dirty diaper.

"Where do you send them when you do that?" she asked, finally able to breathe again.

"Into a volcano where they can't do any harm to anyone," Stiles replied. "It's safer that way."

Cora chuckled, but then turned serious. "I know you're worried, Stiles," she said. "And don't try to say you aren't. You know I can smell it on you."

"If these new Hunters are as dangerous as Chris says, I don't know how we're meant to stop them. They're resistant to magic and can heal from wounds inflicted by Werewolves. How do we fight something like that?" Stiles replied.

"If anyone can find a way, it's you," she said. "And I'm not saying that because you're my brother-in-law. I'm saying it because I genuinely trust you to find a way. All of us do."

"I just hope that when Talia comes back tomorrow, she'll have some sort of good news," he said. Changing the subject, he asked, "Is it weird having her as the Alpha again?"

Cora pursed her lips to the side as she considered the question before shaking her head. "Not really. Peter being the Alpha would be weird. But it's like when I was a kid. Even Derek is back to the way I remember him from before Paige or Kate, or any of that happened."

"What do you mean?"

"That goofball that's out there in wolf form, playing tag with his children… that's the Derek I grew up with, not the sad, hopeless, angry person you met and I came home to," Cora said. "You bring out the best parts of him and I think that not having the pressure of being Alpha is allowing him to unwind a bit."

Stiles didn't know how to respond, so he remained silent.

"We'll get through this, Stiles. And we'll be a stronger family—a stronger Pack—because of it."

Peter's eyes glowed brightly and he let out a roar as Chris yanked a fistful of his hair and bit into his shoulder. He knew that Chris was still worried about him and his reaction to Kellen being born and was therefore trying to distract him with sex. Admittedly, he liked the distraction and Permitted Chris to wear himself out as often as he wanted. This was their third time that day and the sun hadn't even started to set.

When he finally came, he pulled out of his boyfriend and collapsed onto the bed, satisfied with his effort. Chris laid on top of him, their sweaty, naked bodies pressed close together.

"Eventually Talia is going to want us to help prepare for the upcoming fight," he said. "I'm surprised she hasn't tried calling you or even summoning you through the Pack link."

"When we have news that's of use to us, I'll be there to help. Until then, It's just going to be a bunch of Hales around a table sniping at one another. Some things never change," Peter replied with a chuckle. The scent of the air became suddenly overwrought with anxiety. Peter's shrewd eyes studied the human lying on top of him. "What's wrong?"

"This is hardly the moment for this," Chris replied. "But… there's something that I've been meaning to talk to you about."

Peter moved so he could sit up slightly. "Is something wrong?"

Chris shook his head as he reached over to his nightstand, stretching his long, lean body as he fished something from the drawer. "It's something I've been thinking about for a bit. And now that we're in the position we're in, it seemed more important to do it."

Peter saw a small box appear and suddenly his anxiety matched Chris'. "What is that?"

"It's a ring," Chris replied, opening the box and showing the jet black ring.

"Yes… but why do you have one?" Peter stammered. "And why are you trying to give it to me?"

"Because I want to have that little cabin in the middle of nowhere that you spoke of," Chris replied. "I want to have that life with you."

"Chris, I'm not the sort of marrying kind. I'll only end up hurting you."

"Stiles hurt Derek and vice versa. Sometimes Victoria and I hurt each other. Being married isn't about never hurting one another. It's about working together to get through the pain," Chris replied. "And you've had enough pain, Peter. Let me help you with it."

Peter's eyes flicked back and forth between the ring and Chris' face. He took several long, deep breaths to try and clear his mind and prepare his thoughts. He finally leaned forward and kissed Chris. "Can't it just be enough that I love you?" He saw the way Chris' face fell. "Help me through the pain… help me continue to regain my humanity… but let's do it in a way that's entirely our own… that doesn't have all of these rules and requirements. When all of this ends, we live a life that's just about us… and making one another feel happy and loved."

"I'm afraid that it won't be enough for you," Chris admitted. "You leaving me the first time was bad enough. I don't know how I could endure it again. What happens when you realize that I'm not enough?"

"I won't leave you again," Peter promised. "Never worry about that."

Stiles cast a side-eye at Deaton as he approached the table with Talia. Derek sat to Stiles' left, Talia on his right. Cora, Peter, Chris, and Scott took seats around the table as well. Noah gently rocked Kellen in his arms in the next room, but still able to hear the conversation and give his input.

"Since Deaton finally disclosed that everything we've assumed about how someone gains magic is a lie, it sort of turns this situation on its head," Stiles began, still glowering accusatorily at the other Emissary. "The Trickster Gods aren't granting magic. They're granting knowledge of how to use innate magic abilities. Their trickster natures are what has fueled the misconception for so long."

"Stiles, some things you're supposed to figure out for yourself," Deaton replied softly, but defensively.

"And some things you were supposed to help teach me, since I'm part of the next generation of Druid Emissaries. Having this information a while ago would have been pretty fucking helpful, even before Weylyn came along," Stiles snapped.

"We can't change what happened in the past," Talia said with finality. "The important thing is that we now know the truth. So how do we use this information to protect ourselves—and most importantly, you and Kellen—against the Nightborne family?"

"Is there any additional lore about their family that we should know? Like the Argent/Silver thing?" Stiles asked, directing his question at Chris.

"They're honestly a bit mysterious even among Hunting families," Chris replied. "There's some sort of legend about them having made a pact with an angel and in return, receiving the knowledge of how to protect themselves using their family insignia… but nobody believes that for a bit… except for them."

"Unfortunately," Stiles said, "the two I already killed didn't have the mark on them… which is why using my magic on them was easy. It also means that we don't have a way to study its effects."

"Chris, didn't you say something about the insignia ink being derived from specific things that were thought to protect people from magic?" Peter asked.


"Why don't we try to replicate it?" Scott asked. "We use the same ingredients and place the mark on someone human… and see if it works and how best to handle it."

"You can put the mark on me," Chris volunteered.

Peter's nostrils flared. "No." Everyone's brows furrowed in curiosity at his outburst. Noticing this, Peter set his jaw. "If it doesn't work, he could get hurt."

"Then let me try," Deaton replied. "I already have somewhat of an understanding of magic—"

"Which you kept from us for years and therefore are partially responsible for the shit we've endured… but go on," Stiles interjected.

Deaton sighed. "Stiles, this is my way of trying to make up for that."

"And it's too little, too late," Stiles replied. "But it's all we have, so let's get it done with."

The Nightborne estate in America was more of a drafty shithole than the one in England. Alistair looked around in disgust. Every surface was covered in a layer of dust and grime at least an inch thick. "I thought we paid someone to keep this place live-able," he complained.

"Must you complain about everything, Alistair?" his mother replied. "Give it a day or two and this place will be positively radiant."

"I still say we sack the housekeeper," he grumbled.

"Oh come on, Al," Uriel smirked. "It'll only be a problem for you if you breathe. Try holding your breath and I'll tell you when you can stop."

"My name isn't Al. It's Alistair," the younger brother seethed. His nostrils flared and his eyes sparkled with a dangerous glint.

"Hush now," his mother chastised, noticing the glint in her son's eye. "Uriel, stop teasing your brother. Alistair, take your medicine."

Alistair pursed his lips before trodding up the rickety stairs to the room he'd be occupying. The bed coughed a cloud of swirling dust as he tossed his duffel bag onto it. He turned his head, coughing, as he rummaged for the bottle of small, blue capsules. He had been taking them so long he no longer needed water to try and swallow it down. It always made him feel funny after, but his mother assured him that it was better than the consequence of not taking it.

Tying a shirt around his face to cover his mouth and nose, he set to work cleaning the room he'd be calling home for the next little while until their mission was over. He put quite a dent in the filth, making the room somewhat fit for habitation. He wanted to get a good night's sleep in preparation for the recon he and Uriel would be doing the next day.

"Can we get frosted flakes?" Gabe asked.

"No! We should get Crunch Berries!" Aria replied.

"No!" Gabe growled. "Frosted Flakes!"

"Both of them are loaded with sugar," Derek replied. "You'll get neither."

Both children pouted, but Derek returned their pouts with an imperious glare of his own. He put his arm around Stiles' waist as they made their way down the aisle, filling the cart with various odds and ends. "I think that's everything on the list," Stiles said as they rounded the last aisle. In truth, Stiles wanted Crunch Berries, too, but knew he had to set a good example... and he didn't want to undermine Derek. Instead he looked down at Kellen, who was strapped into the carrier resting atop the cart.

"He's adorable!" a stranger said as he passed them in the aisle. His accent betrayed his northern English origins. "He has your eyes."

"Thank you," Stiles replied politely before continuing on his way.

"That man had Crunch Berries," Aria observed.

"That man is also an adult and can make his own decisions," Stiles replied. "You're not getting Crunch Berries."

"But yogurt is gross. Even the word sounds gross," Gabe pouted. Stiles had to agree with him on that point.

"It's good for you," Derek replied. "When you're grown, you can have all the Crunch Berries you want."

"But I don't want Crunch Berries," Gabe said. "I want Frosted Flakes! Aria wants Crunch Berries."

"I suddenly remember why we don't bring them shopping with us," Derek whispered, causing Stiles to grin. It was true that they had been incorrigible throughout this entire outing. An approaching full moon always evoked behavior issues from them.

They cashed out, loaded up the car, and headed home with little more fuss from the children.

The road that left the city of Beacon Hills, headed toward the Hale mansion was an isolated one. Only the Hales lived out there, which meant that seeing another car in the vicinity was incredibly odd.

That same car following them from town was odder still. Stiles tapped out a message on his phone and showed it to Derek.

Don't go home. Don't stop the car. Keep driving.

Derek furrowed his brow, confused by the request. Stiles erased the message and tapped out a new one.

There's a car that's been following us since we left the store.

Derek gave a subtle nod that he understood and continued down the desolate highway.

"Daddy, you passed the road to our house," Gabe announced a few minutes later.

"I know," Derek replied. "We're just going to drive around a bit and see the changing leaves."

"But we can see the changing leaves from our house. We live in the woods," Aria replied.

"Exactly!" Stiles piped in. "We see those changing leaves all the time. We want to see other changing leaves."

"But aren't they the same?" Gabe asked, looking to his sister for confirmation. She simply shrugged.

Stiles continued looking at the side mirror. On the one hand, he wanted to fire off some magic and ensure that the car couldn't follow them anymore. But on the off chance that they really were just ordinary humans out for a drive, such an attack would be seriously problematic.

They continued to drive for another hour, the car behind them keeping a steady pace, turning when they turned. Derek had even tried to catch another road back into the city in hopes to lose them through the crowded streets. None of it had worked. All they had succeeded in doing was getting the gas gauge to hover on E.

"Stiles, we've got to stop for gas. We're going to run out," Derek said calmly. Stiles heaved a sigh. It was clear, at this point, that these people were following. That meant that suddenly, all options were on the table.

"Head north of the city," Stiles told him, trying to ensure that they went in the opposite direction of their house. Certainly, if this was the Nighbornes, they knew where the Hales lived. That didn't mean they had to lead these ones right back home. When they were a significant distance from the town line, Stiles braced himself. "Do not slow down, no matter what. Keep driving until you get to a gas station and don't go back home until you get a text from me," Stiles replied.

"What do you mean?" Derek asked. "Where are you going to be?"

"Not in the car," Stiles said before rapidly unbuckling his seat belt, opening the door, and rolling out of the moving car. He used his magic to cushion himself before turning it onto the chasing car.

He fired off a powerful concussive blast that shattered the headlights and windows. Stiles saw the driver shield himself from the onslaught of glass fragments as he struggled to maintain control of the vehicle, but was ultimately unsuccessful. The car swerved off the road and into the ditch. The airbags were already deployed as the wrenching metal finally stuttered to a halt with a terrible groan. Steam or smoke, stiles wasn't sure which, poured from beneath the crumpled hood. The men inside, one of which, Stiles recognized as the man who had complimented Kellen in the grocery store, managed to pull themselves out of the wrecked vehicle. Both were dazed and sore, bleeding from the tiny cuts they'd received when the glass blew out. Stiles began firing off battle magic in an attempt to incapacitate them. He fully intended on torturing them for information, so he was doing his best to be non-lethal.

His magic seemed to have no more effect on them than an annoying insect. It seemed to just bounce right off of them. He tried to imprison them with vines or earth. They simply stepped out of the impediments.

"Haven't you figured it out?" the man from the grocery store said with a laugh. "Your magic doesn't work on us."

"It worked enough to destroy your car," Stiles said. "If I wanted you to be dead, you would be. My magic may not be able to directly affect you, but I can still use it to hurt you. I could easily make that glass over there shred you to pieces."

"Then why don't you?" the man demanded.

"Alistair! Just deal with him so we can track down the brat and kill it, too," the other man growled.

"The fuck you will," Stiles swore. With a sweep of his hand, some of the shattered glass that littered the road and the grass beside it rose into the air and shot toward them.

"Uriel, get down!" Alistair shouted. He instinctively braced himself by raising his arm to protect his face and eyes. The glass hit an invisible barrier, dissolving into sand and dropping straight down.

"What the bloody hell was that?" Uriel demanded.

Stiles' eyes narrowed for a second, then widened as the realization dawned on him. "You're a magic user… you just performed magic."

Suddenly Uriel looked at Alistair as though he were a monster and slowly backed away. He reached for the gun in his belt and aimed it at his brother.

"Uriel!" Alistair pleaded. "This is a trick he's playing… I'm not a bloody magic user!"

Stiles watched as Uriel's finger squeezed around the trigger. He tried to use his power to push Alistair out of the way, but it did nothing. Instead, Alistair instinctively summoned a shield. The bullet crumpled in on itself and fell to the ground.

Alistair Nightborne stared at his hands, disgusted with what he had just done. He looked up at his older brother, pleadingly. "Uriel… I'm sorry… I didn't know."

"That's the thing about a Nemeton," Stiles said, approaching the two brothers. "It draws supernatural beings to it, but it amplifies magic. If you hadn't come here, you might never have known what you are. I can teach you to use your magic. I can show you that having it doesn't make you evil."

"I don't want your help," Alistair seethed.

"You don't have a choice," Stiles said. "Your brother just aimed a gun at your head and pulled the trigger. You're not one of them anymore. You're one of us." Stiles swiped his hand through the air, his fingers curled into claws. The remaining shattered glass flew up from the ground and lodged itself in Uriel's head and neck. Blood immediately began to trickle down. Uriel blinked twice and collapsed. Alistair let out a gasp and reached out toward his brother.

"You didn't have to kill him…"

"If I hadn't, he would have killed you," Stiles said. "Having magic is about making difficult decisions… when you can bend reality and nature to your will, you have to make decisions about where, when, and how much to intervene and on whose behalf. It isn't easy. I chose to save your life by ending his. I could have chosen to kill you both, but I didn't. I chose the option that could potentially save the most lives. I will have to live with the fact that I killed him and that's on me, but I'm not sorry for it."

Alistair wiped tears from his reddening face as the truth of Stiles' words sunk in. The big brother who he had grown up with—who was, while not very bright, incredibly and fiercely loyal to his family and on more than one occasion had come to blows with would-be bullies, in order to protect him—had attempted to kill him upon learning the truth of what he was. That hurt more than the pain of losing him, because with it, it meant that he'd lost his entire family. None of them would react any differently.

"What happens now?" Alistair asked.

"You tell me."

Chapter Text

Tangible relief painted Peter's face upon seeing that Kellen was unharmed. Derek's call from the car had sent him into a panic, but Derek's instructions were clear: go to the house and make sure that the property is safe from Hunters, but keep any he found alive. There had been two people staked out on the outskirts of the property, far enough from the house that they could easily avoid detection… but not far enough that Peter couldn't find them.

Chris had been teaching him ways to subdue a human for questioning without actually killing them. The dangers these Hunters posed to his son made restraining himself from ripping them apart quite a difficult task. Chris helped Peter remove any weapons they might have on them and tie them securely in the basement.

When Derek pulled into the driveway, skidding to a stop, Peter rushed to his car, his eyes scanning the three children to ensure they were alright, but his eyes remained locked on Kellen. As Derek worked on getting Gabe and Aria out of the car and into a safe room in the house, Peter picked Kellen up out of the car seat. Kellen always smiled when he saw Peter. It was something that twisted the Werewolf's chest. He had never loved anything as much as he loved this child… not even Chris… not even himself, and for someone with ego issues that would rival even Narcissus, Peter felt that was saying something.

"He's hungry," Peter observed as he brought the child into the kitchen. He seemed to always innately know what Kellen needed.

"There's some prepped formula in the fridge, and there's a bottle warmer in that cabinet," he said, pointing. Derek was frantically trying to get Stiles on the phone. He'd been given the all-clear to go home, but he expected Stiles to meet him here. Now that Stiles wasn't answering, he was beginning to panic.

Peter worked quietly to heat Kellen's bottle, then, once it was at the perfect temperature, worked on feeding his son. "Derek, I need to ask you something," he said quietly.

"Can it wait until we know that Stiles is alright and the Hunters have been interrogated and dealt with?" Derek asked.

In Peter's mind, it couldn't, but he didn't want to anger his nephew. Talia and Cora came bursting through the door. They had gone to meet with Scott to tell him about what had just happened.

An hour passed before Stiles finally made his way through the door and into the house. By that point, Derek had paced back and forth so much that it had made Peter dizzy to watch him. He was certain a rut had been etched into the floor where his path was repeated over and over. On several occasions, Talia tried to offer unwelcomed tips to Peter for how best to feed, burp, and hold the baby. They were met with a glare that told the Alpha she needed to back off, for now.

Seeing his husband, brought a cascade of relief to Derek, who nearly tackled him in his attempt to hug him, then showered him with kisses. "Don't you ever scare me like that again," he said. "I was so worried about you."

"I'm fine," Stiles replied, leaning into the kisses and returning them with equal vigor.

"Who's the spare?" Peter demanded, noticing the young man standing out on the front porch, peering cautiously through the open door.

Stiles motioned for the stranger to come inside, and he did, albeit reluctantly. Peter slowly passed the now sound-asleep Kellen to his niece, who brought him up to the nursery.

"Everyone," Stiles said. "This is Alistair Nightborne."

Peter couldn't control it. His wolf rose to the surface. Before he even understood what was happening, he pinned the Hunter to the ground, his bright blue eyes glowing menacingly as his sharp fangs glinted in the light. The razor-sharp claws that extended from his fingers pricked into the sides of the Hunter's neck, causing small beads of blood to trickle out along the edges of it.

"Peter, please!" he finally heard someone begging. With more effort than he imagined it could take, he shifted back and stood up.

"If you ever do something to endanger my child again, them telling me to stop will not save you," Peter growled. Nobody in the room missed the fact that he said my child instead of that child but they all chose to ignore it for now. Peter shifted back before disappearing upstairs to rock Kellen as he slept.

"Why did you bring a member of the family trying to kill you and our son into our house?" Derek asked.

"Because he's a magic user. I kept his brother from murdering him when he found out," Stiles replied.

"A magic user who is part of a family who hunts magic users… that seems poetic," Talia noted. "But his presence here puts our Pack in danger."

"He has nowhere else to go," Stiles said.

Derek watched the interaction, his arms folded across his chest and his eyes moving back and forth between the stranger in his foyer, his mother, and his husband. "It's not our job to take in strays. That's Scott's thing. I have to say that I agree with mom. We can't be certain of his allegiance. He could be acting as a Trojan horse."

Stiles sighed. "As the Emissary for this Pack, don't you think that I'd have considered that before bringing him here? Please give me a little credit…"

Derek shared an uneasy glance with his mother, but ultimately relented. Stiles helped Alistair settle in while Derek sought out Peter, who was leaning over the baby's crib, watching him sleep.

"You said you wanted to talk to me," Derek said softly as he entered the nursery room.

"Yeah," Peter replied, not looking up. He struggled for several minutes to say what he wanted to say. After making quite a few false starts, he finally forced out the words. "Chris proposed to me."

"Congratulations!" Derek replied sincerely.

"I didn't say yes," Peter added.

Derek's features dropped somewhat. "Oh."

"I didn't exactly say 'no,' either."

"So what did you say?" Derek asked.

"I said that I didn't see why we needed the kind of pomp and circumstance that comes with marriage when we both know what we feel for one another and I'm still learning what it is to be human," Peter said.

"That sounds like a long way of saying 'no,' to me," Derek shrugged. "How did Chris take it?"

"Surprisingly well, to be honest," Peter said. "I'm just so scared of hurting him… but I think that he might be my Mate. How did you know with Stiles?"

Derek smiled as the memory came to him. "It was completely by instinct. After we had sex the first time, my wolf needed to be near him… to smell him. I had this need to ensure he was safe at all times. That was a little difficult, because Stiles is a magnet for danger and he didn't know of his magic abilities at the time. Once it happened, though, there was nothing I wanted more than to be near him… to see his face… to make him laugh."

Peter furrowed his brow and shook his head. "But doesn't it bother you at least a little?"

"What do you mean?"

"To lose so much of yourself to another person… to give up that much of your soul…" Peter clarified.

"No," Derek said honestly. "Because it's not like that at all. When you've found your Mate, you get so much more from your relationship with that person. You're stronger and better for it. And it doesn't mean you're not going to go through rough patches… I mean look at my marriage. We had the divorce papers signed and ready… Kellen's paternity also put a bit of a strain on us, but we love each other. I'm certain I disappoint him all the time and it hurts to consider that… but the thought of life without him hurts so much more."

Peter watched, entranced, as his nephew described his relationship with Stiles, feeling a twinge of guilt about how he contributed to the strain in that relationship, even though he had no choice in the matter.

"Your fear of hurting Chris is valid and it's something you should remember, but it's also a part of being in a relationship. It's a part of embracing your humanity," Derek continued. "Chris knew who you were when he went into this. He loves you in spite of your past. The least you could do is work to ensure that his faith in you is warranted. After all, he chose you after losing his wife and his daughter in rapid succession. When we killed Kate, we made him the last of his family. When he proposed to you, he wanted to make you his family. That could not have been easy for him."

"So you're saying I should accept his proposal?"

Derek shrugged. "I'm saying that the only times you've ever been happy since the fire are when you're with him, or with Kellen. I get it. You don't love a whole lot of people. But you love Chris. You don't have to adhere to all the weird rituals of marriage. Create something that's uniquely your own… But don't break his heart."

Peter placed a hand on Derek's shoulder. "Thank you, Derek."

"You're welcome," Derek replied.

Peter cast one last look at Kellen before returning swiftly to the living room, where Chris and Talia were talking, both keeping a steady eye on the new Hunter in their midst. Stiles was working to try and help Alistair perform some basic magic at will. Alistair was struggling. Peter grasped Chris' arm and pulled him to his feet. His other hand made its way to the small of the human's back, pressing their bodies tightly together. He brought their lips crashing together with a desperate, feverish kiss. "I love you," he said when the kiss broke.

Chris looked somewhat dazed by the sudden nature of this display, but he smiled nonetheless. "I know."

Peter searched his lover's eyes. "I've decided to change my answer. Yes… I want to marry you."

Talia gasped upon hearing it. Stiles froze in place, his attention snapping instantly to Peter and Chris. A smile crept across his face as he noticed Derek coming down the stairs, smiling as well.

Talia's arms crossed over her chest. Derek, Cora, and Peter flanked her. They were in the basement, where Stiles and Chris had worked to build a makeshift prison that could contain the captured members of the Nightborne. Since magic wouldn't work on them, they used the time-tested tactic of listening to the Hunters' heartbeats.

Unfortunately, the captured Hunters refused to speak, leading Peter to suggest that snapping bones one-by-one might loosen their tongues. "Or we could start peeling the skin from their muscles," he added, extending his claws.

"You people are monsters," the oldest of the two spat.

Derek rolled his eyes. "You flew all the way to America to murder my husband and my infant child and you say that we're monsters? You have to be fucking kidding me."

Despite the defiant look on his face, the older one started to speak as Peter moved closer, not wanting to repeat the earlier encounter with him. "Never before in our recorded history has so much magic been concentrated in one family. Every time you use magic, it puts us all in danger because magic bends the very laws of nature."

"Cassiel, shut it!" the younger one snapped.

"They deserve to at least understand why we need to do this!" Cassiel shot back.

"I know how magic works," Stiles said. "And I understand how dangerous it can be in someone untrained. I bound my son's power until he's old enough to control it and I can teach him to use it safely."

Cassiel shook his head. "There is no safe usage of magic. You have to understand this. You're an Emissary, right?" Stiles nodded, unsure where the Hunter was going with his commentary. "Then please listen to what I have to say. What reason do I have to lie? I know you're going to kill me regardless and you're all listening to my heartbeat. It'd be stupid to even try. Emissaries were supposed to keep the balance. That's why the types of magic the druids used required an immense amount of sacrifice. The cost of using it had to be high enough to dissuade its use altogether. I know the good you've done. You're the Boy Who Runs with Wolves. You're the brother of a True Alpha and an Emissary to the Hale pack. You defeated the Nameless one. That said, the amount of damage you cause by using magic to do it… by invoking the Forbidden Acts… it outweighs any good you've managed to accomplish. Please listen to reason."

"It's not reasonable to expect us to be okay with you murdering a child," Cora interjected. Talia nodded in agreement. "Whether we believed you or not, your actions are inexcusable. He's an innocent bystander in all of this. Your views on magic aside, he has committed no crime."

"His existence is the crime," the other Hunter grumbled.

"Nathaniel, shut your bloody mouth!" Cassiel growled. He turned back to Stiles. "Just as the Argent family has hunted dangerous supernatural creatures who pose a threat to humanity, the Nightbornes do the same for people with magic. Like the Emissaries, we help keep the balance."

"But the Argent family betrayed their oath," Chris said as he descended the steps. Stiles wondered how long he had been listening in. "Nous chassons ceux qui nous chassent," he said in perfect French. "That was our ideology. Hunt those who were guilty. My insane father grew to believe that all Supernaturals were guilty simply because they existed. He went so far as to murder his own men to start a war. He blinded a man who came peacefully to negotiate. My sister, following his example, seduced a young man and then used the information she got from him to murder an entire family… werewolves and Humans alike." Derek and Talia shifted uncomfortably as Chris said this. "Yet this family has accepted me as a friend." Chris glanced over to Peter. "And one of them even found it within himself to love me. Would you say that this group of people are monsters, knowing this?"

"No," Cassiel conceded. "But—"

Chris cut him off. "Our families need to change the way they operate or it'll destroy us. I'm the last one of my family left because of the actions taken by my father and my sister. I lost my wife and my daughter. If you don't stop, your family is going to suffer the same way mine did. If we let you live, do you promise to return to Althea and relay what I told you? Do you promise to have her call off her hunt of the people I care about?"

"Nobody said anything about letting them live," Peter growled. "We can use them to figure out how the mark works and how to ensure that we don't have a problem with them when they go back on their word."

Chris shook his head as he turned towards his boyfriend. "If Stiles experiments on them with his magic, he becomes the monster they already believe him to be. We have to show them that we're not like that."

"He's right," Talia asserted after several minutes of silence passed. "Let them go. Give them the opportunity to do the right thing."

"But Talia!" Peter protested. "They pose a danger to Stiles, which means they pose a danger to us all. There's a finite number of them. We should kill them and whoever else gets sent here until there aren't any more people to kill."

"We should at least remove their protection from magic. We need to do something to make them want to keep their word," Cora said.

"How do you suggest we do that, Cora?" Derek demanded. "Flay the skin off of them? It once again proves that they were right and we're monsters."

Cora rolled her eyes and extended her claws. She motioned for her brother to approach with her. "You be ready to take their pain. I'm just going to fuck up the image of the Evil Eye and see if that removes or weakens their protection against Stiles' magic. He can then heal them from whatever injury is caused."

Derek had to admit, this was a humane way of getting the answers they needed. He looked back at his husband. "If this works, could you use a binding spell to force them to cooperate or to at least keep them from harming us?"

Stiles shrugged. "Conceivably. But I told you before, binding magic is dark."

"It's not as dark as just killing them," Talia said. "Chris, what do you think?"

Stiles could tell from the look on Chris' face that he wasn't a fan of the idea, but the Hunter could tell he was outvoted. "It could work," he said.

Stiles giggled at the way Derek's beard tickled his stomach as he kissed down his husband's stomach. They hadn't made love since before Kellen was born and Stiles didn't realize just how starved he was for his husband's touch. His long, thin fingers worked through Derek's thick hair as the kisses trailed down to his cock, which Derek enveloped in his warm, wet mouth.

"Oh god, yes!" he moaned as his hips involuntarily bucked up into Derek's mouth. Derek teased him, bringing him repeatedly to the precipice of pleasure before stopping and allowing Stiles to descend without orgasming. Stiles had been married to Derek long enough to know that this simply meant that Derek intended for him to come much harder later. He gave himself over, allowing Derek to take the reins and decide what to do next. A smile crept to his lips when he saw how happy Derek was to be with him in this way.

It was the best sex he could remember for such a very long time. For a little while, he could clear his mind of the thousands of things that had been pulling at his attention and just focus on Derek.

When they were done, they remained in bed with Derek's powerful arms wrapped around him and his head buried in the Werewolf's chest. It was the beauty of their relationship that nothing needed to be said. They could just exist in one another's presence and be contented with it.

"So I've been thinking… We should move to Los Angeles once we've dealt with the Nightbornes… or maybe even New York," Derek said after a long while.

Stiles was startled by his statement, especially the timing of it. "Why?"

"Because you stayed in Beacon Hills for me, to be my Emissary. But I'm not an Alpha anymore. Deaton can help mom and Scott. Peter and Chris will be here, too. Beacon Hills doesn't need us anymore. We can move somewhere that would be better for your career," Derek replied.

"Can we think on it?" Stiles asked, not wanting to have to deal with the potential stress of a big move like that. "Wait until after the dust settles?"

"Of course," Derek replied.

They drifted off to sleep after a while, until noise coming from the baby monitor woke them up. Both of them moved to get out of bed and see to Kellen's needs. "Go back to sleep, Der," Stiles said through a yawn. "I've got it."

Stiles trudged through the hallway to the nursery and flipped the light on. The pungent smell told him that it was time for a changing. At the first sight of his father, Kellen stopped crying. Stiles went through the actions of changing and cleaning his son, vanishing the diaper into the same volcano that he'd sent all the others, before settling into the rocking chair to soothe him back to sleep. Kellen reached up and grabbed at Stiles' face, giggling as Stiles pretended to bite at his fingers.

Slowly but surely, Kellen's eyelids eventually began to droop. Stiles could tell that he was fighting it, but soon, he was sleeping soundly once more. On his way back to his bedroom, he popped his head in to check on his other two children. Aria was sleeping soundly and at first, he thought Gabe was, too, as he clutched his stuffed wolf. "Daddy?" his tiny voice came.

"Yeah," Stiles said, going to his bed. "What are you doing awake so late, bud?"

Gabriel waited a few moments to respond. "I had a bad dream about the man."

"What man?" Stiles asked.

"The one with magic that you brought. I had a dream that he hurt you and Kellen," Gabe confessed. "I don't like him. He should go away."

Stiles pulled Gabe into a sitting position and hugged him, rubbing his back soothingly. "I'm not going to let anything happen to any of you, Gabe. You shouldn't worry yourself about this."

"But what if he's bad like the other guy who tried to take me?" Gabe asked. "What if he does the same thing to Kellen? He's not a Werewolf, but Kellen is still my brother and he's still Pack."

"Sweetie, nothing's going to happen to Kellen."

Gabe pushed his stuffed wolf into Stiles' lap. "Uncle Peter said that you put a spell on this to keep me safe. Can you give it to Kellen?"

"Will it make you feel better about Alistair being here?" Stiles asked. He could feel Gabe nodding against his skin. "Okay, then I'll give it to Kellen."

"Thank you." Gabe yawned and Stiles kissed his forehead before getting up. True to his promise, Stiles placed the wolf in Kellen's crib, this time actually imbuing it with a bit of magic.

Derek was awake and waiting for him when he finally returned to bed. Stiles knew he heard the entire exchange with Gabriel.

"Do you think I'm being stupid or blind when it comes to Alistair?" Stiles asked.

Derek considered his words carefully. "I think your heart is in the right place, but trusting him—especially knowing what his reason for even coming to America was—is a huge risk. Magic or no, he's a Nightborne and he's sworn to kill magic users."

Stiles nodded. He hadn't expected Derek's answer to change. He stole one more kiss from his husband before finally settling in for the night.

The smell of breakfast cooking woke Stiles up. Talia always seemed to pull out all the stops when it came to every meal she prepared. After pulling on his bathrobe and tying it around his waist, he headed downstairs, where Derek was already setting out plates for everyone while keeping an eye on Kellen, who was seated in his high chair, amusing himself with his new wolf toy.

Derek knew not to even try to greet him with a kiss until his first cup of coffee was at least halfway gone, so ever the dutiful husband, he instead greeted Stiles with a hot cup of coffee from the French press, fixed to Stiles' exact preference. Stiles smiled at the gesture. "Is there anything I can do to help?" he asked.

"I think we've got everything pretty much under control," Derek said.

Gabe and Aria came down next. Gabe smiled when he saw his brother's new companion and glanced back to Stiles, who nodded, causing the boy to beam. Talia greeted her grandchildren with kisses on the tops of their heads as she put the finishing touches on the breakfast spread, which included freshly-baked scones. Stiles suspected they were an attempt to at least try to be welcoming to Alistair, who was the last to venture his way downstairs.

"Everything smells bloody fantastic," he commented.

Derek gave him a cold glare and taking their cue from him, both Aria and Gabe remained distant and withdrawn from their guest. Talia offered a tense "Good morning."

Alistair sighed. "Look, let's address the elephant in the room, shall we?"

"I don't see any elephants," Aria remarked. She turned to Derek and whispered. "Daddy, are Were-elephants real?"

Stiles smirked and Derek chuckled. "It's an expression, Aria. It means that he wants to talk about an uncomfortable subject that everyone knows, but refuses to speak about."

"Like the fact that he wants to hurt Dad and Kellen?" Aria asked.

"Exactly," Derek replied, grinning proudly at his daughter.

"About that," Alistair said. "I want you all to know that I'm very much grateful to Stiles for having saved my life. None of you are in any danger from me. I promise."

As Talia sat at the head of the table, she gestured for Alistair to take a seat, as well. "I appreciate you clearing that up. But if truth be told, given my family's history with Hunters, you can understand why we'd be at least a bit skeptical, right?"

"Certainly," Alistair replied, helping himself to a scone and some sausages. "Trust isn't something won easily, but I'll do my best to earn it nonetheless."

Breakfast remained silent after that. Stiles and Derek both offered to help Talia clean up, but she waved them off. "You've got to get the kids ready for school. I've got it."

"Are you sure?" Stiles asked. "You've already spent so much time in the kitchen cooking."

"It's fine, Stiles," she assured him. "Really."

"Thank you!" he said as he ushered Gabe upstairs to get dressed and brush his teeth.

The chaos of the children's morning routine made Talia smile. She remembered it being exactly the same when her children were growing up in this house. She made it a point to hug her grandchildren before they were ushered into the car. Derek kissed Stiles before driving off, leaving Stiles alone with Talia, Alistair, and the baby.

"So I was thinking," Stiles said, turning toward Alistair, "That we could start with some magical theory today."

"Alright," Alistair replied as they headed to the study, which had become Stiles' personal sanctum sanctorum. The Hales had the largest collection of books about supernatural creatures and Stiles had the largest collection of books about magic. Stiles surmised that between the two collections, they had the largest depository of supernatural knowledge that had ever before existed in one place.

He skimmed his fingers across the bindings of several books, tapping the ones he intended to use. They flew into the air and landed with a thud on the desk. When he had finished selecting the books, he returned to the desk and sat in his comfortable chair.

"So the first thing you should know is that the theory behind magic is different, depending on the type of magic you're trying to perform. Battle magic works differently than elemental magic, and that's entirely different from ritualistic magic or herbal magic. The fact that you have the magical spark means that you're capable of performing any of the types of magic that exist… but it's possible that the one that comes easiest to you might be the one that's most in line with your personality or previous experiences," Stiles explained. "For instance, because I started out as a Druid Emissary, the elemental and herbal magics were quite easy for me to master… but battle magic was where I really shined."

"What about dark magic?" Alistair inquired.

"Dark magic should never be something that comes easily," Stiles replied grimly. "Dark magic is the most harmful to the fabric of reality. You shouldn't cast it unless you truly have a reason to."

"Such as the Forbidden Acts?"

Stiles took a sharp intake of breath. "Yes. The Forbidden Acts are some of the darkest magic you can perform."

"And yet you've completed two thirds of them," Alistair pointed out. "Is this one of those 'Do as I say, not as I do' types of things?"

"How you choose to use your magic is up to you. I'm not going to be a hypocrite and tell you never to cast the Forbidden Acts. Just know that you need to be ready to pay the steep prices they demand," Stiles replied.

"Let's start with battle magic," Alistair suggested, wanting to change the subject.

Stiles motioned for him to stand and follow him to the back yard. "The key to this is intent. Your reason for wanting to fight determines how powerful your spells are. Your intention needs to be powerful if you want your spells to truly pack a punch."

"What do you use?" Alistair asked.

"I fight to protect my family… my husband and my children. When I cast battle magic, I cast to kill," Stiles replied firmly. "Today, however, we'll just learn some of the basic sparring. If you get hurt, I can heal you."

"And what if you get hurt?"

Stiles smiled and shook his head. "Trust me. I'm not gonna get hurt." He put a bit of distance between him and his student. "Defensive magic is more important than offensive magic when sparring. You created a shield on your own before, but you didn't do it with conscious effort. The intention behind your shield must be that you refuse to die." He and Alistair practiced summoning shields. First, he used his power to chuck pine cones at the man. When Alistair had mastered that, Stiles switched to spells intended to stun him. With great effort, Alistair was able to deflect the first three, but the fourth one hit him in the chest. His muscles tensed and he collapsed, twitching, as the spell's effect rippled through his body.

"What the bloody hell was that about?" he spat as he worked to regain his bearings when the effect finally faded.

"That was a fine example of why your intent needs to be stronger. That last one shouldn't have gotten you. Let's try again. This time, I'm going to be hurling a larger variety of spells at you. Deflect them, or you'll feel their effects. None of them are going to be lethal, but all of them will hurt if they hit."

Stiles started off with easily deflected spells before working his way toward more difficult ones. His body moved in instinctual paths as bursts of color erupted from his hand. Alistair was doing a great job of fending them off, but it was becoming increasingly clear that he wasn't enjoying this lesson. He began firing back magic of his own. A smile crept on Stiles face as he reflected it back onto its caster, sending him sprawling to the ground. A small cut on his forehead trickled blood.

Alistair pushed himself back to his feet before sending a flurry of spells at Stiles. It impressed Stiles that he was catching on so quickly and suddenly, the sparring became a lot more fun. Both men worked up a sweat as they continued their fight. Each of them got in a few good spells that the other was unable to deflect or repel. They became engrossed in their task. Without having been taught it, Alistair was incorporating elemental magic into his fighting technique.

As a bolt of lightning shot from Alistair's palm, Stiles was able to catch it in one of his hands and expel it into the ground with the other. In the time it took to do that, however, Alistair saw his opening. He sent a pillar of fire in the direction of his tutor. Stiles tried to block it, but was slightly too late. He cried out in pain as his hands bore the brunt of the burns.

A black wolf pounced onto Alistair, his ears pulled back. Cold, blue, wild eyes stared at the man as fangs snapped at the man's neck. Alistair was using all of his strength to hold the wolf off.

"Derek!" Stiles yelled. "It's fine. We were sparring."

Derek shifted back to his human form, not caring that he was now naked in front of this stranger. His Werewolf features didn't entirely fade away. "He burned you. I can smell the signed flesh."

"I can heal myself, Der. It was innocent. I swear," Stiles assured him.

"Really, mate!" Alistair added. "I don't know my own strength. It wasn't meant to be that powerful. Honest mistake."

"If another honest mistake results in my Mate being injured, it'll be the last honest mistake you ever make. Do you understand?" Derek said in a low growl.

Alistair nodded. "It was an accident. It won't happen again."

Derek turned back toward Stiles. He could tell that his husband was attempting to heal himself, but he could also tell that the pain was draining too much of his concentration. He gently laid his palm on Stiles' cheek, draining the pain away. He saw the instant relief in his husband's eyes, then looked down to see the wounds slowly shrinking before disappearing altogether. "Come on, let's go," Derek urged.

"Does this mean that our lesson is over?" Alistair asked.

"I think you've caused enough havoc for one day, don't you?" came Derek's cold reply.

Stiles had to admit that he was annoyed at the way Derek had taken the reins on this one, but healing himself required too much magic. He was drained and would be for a while. "I need to recharge a bit. Healing others is somewhat easy. Healing myself becomes very exhausting very quickly. You did great today, though. Maybe later we can practice the Elemental Magics… or tomorrow if we don't get around to it today."

"Thank you, Stiles," Alistair said. "And again… I'm very sorry."

"It's fine," Stiles replied. The look on Derek's face said that it was not at all fine, but Derek remained silent. He waited until the two of them were alone before addressing Derek. "I understand why you might have thought that I was in danger… really, I do. But when you realized I wasn't, you should have backed off. You can't expect him to earn your trust when you aren't even willing to give him the opportunity to do it. The harder you and Talia are on him and the more unwelcome you make him feel, the harder it will be for him to want to be on our side when all is said and done."

Derek listened to his husband, nodding as he spoke. "It's my wolf, Stiles. It sees Alistair as a danger to us… to you… to the kids. It just sort of takes over when he's nearby. I'll work harder to keep it under control."

"Thank you," Stiles replied. "Can I trust you to pass that message along to the Alpha?"

"Yes." Derek nodded. He grabbed his husband's hand and pulled him toward the woods. "Do you care to go on a walk with me? I have something I wanted to talk to you about."

Stiles wore a quizzical expression, but ultimately agreed to come along. They passed a hollowed out tree and Derek was able to pull some clothes out. He'd gotten accustomed to hiding outfits, since his transformation always left him nude. He pulled on pants and a shirt, remaining barefoot.

"Have you noticed how Peter is with Kellen?" Derek asked.

"Yeah," Stiles replied. Peter was attentive. It was clear that he loved the boy. He took every opportunity he had to hold him, to play with him, to make him smile. Stiles was quite impressed with Peter's interactions with Kellen, but didn't know where Derek was heading with this conversation, so kept it to himself.

"With Peter being engaged to Chris and starting to truly embrace the side of him that makes him human… I think it would mean a lot to him if we asked them to be Kellen's godparents," Derek said.

Stiles beamed at the idea. "I think he'd love it."

Peter eyed his nephew suspiciously. "Why do you two smell nervous?" he asked. The four of them, Stiles, Derek, Peter, and Chris, were seated in the living room. Stiles was amusing Kellen by bouncing him up and down on his knee. The baby's giggles chimed through the air.

"Should I say it or should you?" Derek asked Stiles.

"For the love of God! One of you fucking say it." Peter's nostrils flared impatiently. "You're driving me insane."

Derek chuckled. Stiles had indicated that he wanted Derek to be the one, so Derek looked back and forth between his uncle and Chris. "Stiles and I have thought it over and after a bit of discussion, we've decided that we would like for you two to be Kellen's godparents."

Peter froze. He knew the implication this had… if something happened to both of them, he and Chris would end up raising Kellen themselves. Peter felt a tightness in his chest and a lump form in his throat. He hated that embracing his human side meant dealing with emotions. He'd gone so long without them that every one of them seemed more intense now. He could feel tears threatening to spill from his eyes and had to take several deep breaths. He wouldn't allow Derek to see him cry.

Chris watched Peter. Of course, he was honored by them even considering it. But he knew that it might be difficult for the man he was soon to marry and didn't want to agree to anything without knowing unequivocally that Peter was on board.

"We want you to be a big part of his life, Peter," Stiles said. "We can see how much you love him and we trust you to take care of him. In our absence, you would be the only one who would be able to protect him as well as we could. But if it would be too hard on you, emotionally speaking, we understand."

Peter shook his head. "It isn't that," he said, his voice straining past the lump in his throat. "I'd love to."

"And if you want him to know the truth," Derek added, "I'm okay with that. At first I was being a bit of an ass when it came to his paternity… but I see you with him and the way you look at him. It's clear to me that you love him just as much as I do. Instead of having two dads, he'll have three."

Peter was at a loss for words as he processed what Derek said. He was going to have a chance to be a father to his son… the son he never asked for but loved more than anything in the world.

"It might be better if we still wait until he's older to fully explain it to him, that way he can understand the circumstances that led to you being his biological father," Stiles said. "And by that point, both Aria and Gabe will be old enough to understand, too."

"What? That Kellen is simultaneously their brother and their first cousin once removed?" Peter said, forcing humor into his voice to break up the emotional tension. He stared at his hands, which were folded in his lap. Focusing on them made controlling the emotions he was feeling just a little bit easier.

Derek smiled. "Yeah, something like that."

A beat of silence passed between them before Peter raised his eyes to look at his nephew once more. "Thank you, Derek," he said finally. His voice was low and sincere. "I know how hard this was for you and you'll never understand how grateful I am for this."

Chapter Text

"We're not practicing outside?" Alistair asked as they made their way to the study.

"No," Stiles replied. "We'll have more privacy in here and my husband will be less-likely to misinterpret your actions. Besides… we're going to do ritualistic magic today, which is easier to do indoors, for the most part."

"Pity," Alistair lamented. "It was such a lovely day."

"So," Stiles began. "Ritual magic, more than any other type of magic you will practice requires the most concentration. The ritual itself requires balance. It must be carried out in a specific manner, with each of the more volatile aspects of the ritual counterbalanced by something else. Often, to use this magic, you must be in perfect harmony with yourself, and you'll often have to sacrifice something for the ritual to work. The more powerful the spell, the greater the requisite sacrifice. You with me?"

Alistair watched silently as Stiles drew arcane symbols and circles onto the ground. The more he looked at them, the more his brain wanted to absorb the information and understand it. "This seems so archaic and outdated… I'd expect that magic would have advanced a little more in the intervening time."

Stiles smiled. "Magic, when it reaches its most advanced form, is indistinguishable from technology. Those of us who can do magic are able to bend the world around us to make life a bit easier. Isn't that exactly what every bit of technology that's ever been created was for?"

"Sure," Alistair granted. "Except for medieval torture devices. Those were just for fun."

"As gruesome as it was, didn't it make life easier for those whose task it was to torture people?" Stiles asked. "Not all technology made life better. Not all magic does, either. Some of it actually makes life quite a bit worse. The trick is knowing when using magic will cause more harm than it will good." Stiles chuckled for a moment. "I once tricked a Hunter into believing I put a curse on him that would kill him instantly if he stepped into Beacon Hills again. All I did was make his skin glow for a moment, which leads us to the most important lesson: sometimes no magic is a far more effective magical response."

Alistair furrowed his brow. "I remember hearing about that. It's the reason you first came onto our radar."

"Well isn't that ironic," Stiles muttered.

"If we're not careful, Alanis Morissette will appear. When too much irony exists in one place, she manifests," Alistair joked. "It's a law of physics."

Stiles choked back a laugh. "My physics teacher must have missed that one."

The remainder of the lesson moved into herbal magic, which, Stiles explained, was often required for ritual magic to work.

"Can I ask you a question?" Alistair asked when their lesson was over.

"Sure," Stiles replied as he put away the large tomes and shoved various herbs back into jars, magically sealing them and organizing them in a cabinet built into the wall.

"How is it that two of your kids are Werewolves and one of them is magic?" he asked. "If you conceived them with an Alpha, he should have had only Werewolf children."

Stiles paused what he was doing, not turning around to face Alistair. He swallowed hard. He wasn't sure that Derek would want this stranger knowing this… this secret that had almost destroyed them once again. Hiding it, however, lying in this moment, seemed just as bad. It seemed to say that he was ashamed of having given birth to Kellen and nothing could have been further from the truth.

"Not all magic is used for good and my family was forced to learn that lesson in a very, very hard way," Stiles said. "When Weylyn… Diodotus… The Nameless One… whatever you want to call him…"

"I'd call him a right bloody wanker," Alistair replied under his breath.

Stiles finally turned around. "Before I continue, there's a bit you need to know about Peter."

"He's the older bloke, right?" Alistair clarified. "The one who's constantly threatening to kill me? The Alpha's brother?"

"That would be him," Stiles confirmed. "When the Argent family massacred the Hales, Peter was locked in a coma. Fire is one of the few things that Werewolves take a long time to heal from. It's honestly one of the few things that scares Derek, even to this day. He was in a coma for years and years, slowly going insane. He lured Laura, Derek's older sister and murdered her in order to become an Alpha and worked hard to avenge his family's death… but he was dangerous. He wasn't sane and he was more a feral animal than a human. He had already left a string of bodies behind and we had no other choice. We had to kill him. But somehow, he found a way to trick my high school girlfriend into resurrecting him… she's a banshee, so you know, the whole communicate with the dead thing."

"Hold on," Alistair said. "You know a real Banshee?"

Stiles laughed. "Yeah. She actually won the Field Medal, you know. She's incredibly brilliant. Anyway, when he came back we rightfully did not trust him… for quite some time. But being around Derek and Cora seemed to center him. There were brief moments when he'd shine through, but other than that he was a sarcastic asshole. We used to call him 'Satan in a V-Neck.'"

"I had noticed his fondness for them," Alistair admitted.

"It's a family trait." Stiles laughed. "Back to Peter, though. The Nameless One… or Diodotus or Weylyn… whatever… he found a way to remove Peter's power as a Werewolf. He was completely human. During that time, he also magically swapped Peter's baby makers for my husband's, so I ended up pregnant with Peter's child."

"But he's a Werewolf now. What happened? Did the Alpha bite him again?"

"No," Stiles replied. "We weren't sure if it would work. I actually transformed him in the same way the old Druids did. Since then, he's been doing his best to try and be a good person. He fucks up from time to time, but he has us—he has his family—to help guide him when the path seems a little muddied. But he knew that if he was still learning this whole 'be a good person' thing, there was no way he could teach it to his child, too. He asked Derek to be Kellen's father and Derek accepted."

"That's rather selfless…" Alistair remarked. "So Kellen has magic because he wasn't fathered by your husband back when he was an Alpha… he was fathered by a beta."

"Yeah," Stiles replied. "And this story is a perfect example of the consequences of using magic without fear or consideration of the consequences. Weylyn's use of magic was the kind that your family should eradicate. Sure, I've used my magic for self-serving reasons once or twice, but on the whole, my magic is for the people I love. I use it to protect my family and ensure that they're safe from those who would harm them simply for existing."

"We're taught that all magic is evil, you know," Alistair said softly. "That it's somehow demonic and that our family is protected from the taint of magic by our deal with the Archangel Michael. It's a load of tosh. My mother knew that I had magic. She made me take these pills that must have been suppressing my powers. I'm the only one of my siblings… my entire family, even, that's named for a demon and not an angel."

"Ouch," Stiles replied.

"It just doesn't make sense… why would she try to keep me alive? Keep my powers hidden?" he asked.

"Because there is no limit to a mother's love," Talia said from the doorway, startling them both.

"Talia!" Stiles exclaimed. "How long have you been standing there?"

"Just a few moments," Talia replied. "I was wondering if I might have a word with you alone, Stiles?" After a beat in which Stiles cocked his head, clearly confused as to why she'd be requesting it, she added, "Alpha to Emissary…"

"Oh!" Stiles replied. "Sure." He turned to his pupil. "Alistair, would you mind giving us a few minutes? You can practice your shield magic while you're waiting."

When they were alone, Talia sighed. "I still don't trust him, you know. But Derek told me I needed to be nice so… well, I'll try."

"That's all I ask. What did you need to talk to me about?" Stiles asked.

"There's a meeting of the Alphas. All of them along the western half of the country want to come together. We've been asked to bring our Emissaries. Alan is attending with Scott, so obviously I would need you to attend with me," she said.

"Any idea what the meeting is about?"

"The influx of hunters into the area," Talia replied pointedly. "And particularly the fact that one of them has magic."

"Why is it that I feel like I'll be put in front of a firing squad?" Stiles asked.

"I'd be lying if I said they didn't have a lot of questions for you," she admitted. "But they want us all to bring our Packs, as well. I took the liberty of asking your father if he'd watch over Kellen."

Immediately Stiles bristled. "If they want us to bring the Pack, then Kellen goes with us. He's a part of the Pack."

"He's not a Werewolf, Stiles," she replied. "And his presence there would make our meeting place an obvious target. From what I've gathered, you've got your dad's house so magically well-protected that not even Loki himself would be able to walk onto the property."

Stiles took several deep breaths. "I'm going to say this one time and it's the last time I intend to discuss it. Kellen is a part of the Hale pack. He was part of it before you were resurrected and he was before Derek sacrificed his Alpha power to save my life. If you're going to decide as Alpha that you don't want him to be part of your pack, then I need to know now, because I'll need to look for a new Emissary to assist you."

"Stiles, I didn't intend to upset you," Talia said quickly.

"But you succeeded," Stiles replied before walking away. He could feel his anger rising inside of himself, the air around him crackling as it always did when his emotions ran high. He felt the sudden, desperate need to be outdoors. He took off the moment he was outside, running fast and hard toward the place where he seemed to be able to find the most comfort and peace.

When he finally reached the Nemeton, he was already feeling better, but the words replayed in his head, and with it, so did the emotions he felt in reaction to them. He let out a yell of frustration and unleashed some of the pent-up energy in the form of a lightning bolt that blasted out of his hand and toward a nearby tree. So much power was put into the bolt that the tree exploded apart, rather than catching fire. Pieces of wood flew in all directions like shrapnel, avoiding Stiles only by intervention of his power.

When he turned around to face the stump of the Nemeton, he saw a large, fluffy black wolf sitting on it, his eyes glowing bright blue and his head cocked to the side.

"I didn't hear you approach," he said, sitting down next to Derek, who shifted back into his human form.

"I came to find you and see if you were alright," he replied, putting his arm around his husband. "I think the smoking remnants of that tree answers that."

"Kellen's acceptance into the pack is non-negotiable for me," Stiles said. "If she can't see him as her grandson, then she should at least see him as her nephew. I'm not going to keep having this argument, Der. Eventually, Kellen is going to be old enough to understand what's happening and if he's being rejected by his own family, then we have no chance of avoiding the fate that Weylyn predicted."

"He isn't rejected by his family, Stiles. He has his brother and sister, Peter, Cora, and most importantly, us. I told mom she was wrong for what she did, even if I do agree that he would be safer with Noah that night," Derek said.

"Her logic isn't what pissed me off. It was her reasoning. He's not a Werewolf, therefore he shouldn't go. I agree that he's safer with Dad, than in a room filled with hundreds of Alphas, but I'm tired of having to defend his position in our family," Stiles said.

"I know, Stiles," he said. "I'm getting tired of it, too. He's my son and I love him. I won't accept him being treated as a second-class citizen within our Pack and I told mom that."

Silence passed between them. "I miss being married to the Alpha. Things were easier. Even when you and I were at our worst, we could at least agree about what was good for the Pack. I don't have that kind of relationship with Talia. She's been an Alpha for longer than I've been alive, even if you consider the interim time when she was dead. I don't feel like my input even matters anymore." Stiles sighed. "I know I became an Emissary to advise the Hale Alpha… but if I'm being honest, I did it for you… to advise you… to be with you."

"If I were still an Alpha, you'd be dead, Stiles… so I can't say that I regret that decision," Derek replied.

"I know," Stiles muttered. "I just… I miss the time our lives were quieter, is all."

"I miss it, too."

Stiles had never seen so many Werewolves and Emissaries in one place before. Each Pack huddled together, chatting amongst themselves while Alphas and Emissaries greeted one another. All of them stopped, however, when the Hales entered. Talia was first. Despite them being Werewolves and part of the Pack, Stiles and Derek had decided that Aria and Gabe were too young to attend, especially since the topic of conversation was their parents. Derek's hands interlaced with Stiles, who confidently and purposefully walked forward, pretending he didn't notice all of the eyes staring at him. Cora and Peter were last. Cora's face was steadfast and unreadable, like her mother's and brother's. Peter's held a half smirk as his shrewd eyes scanned the crowd.

Scott, Deucalion, and several Alphas Stiles couldn't recognize stood at the front of the room. Scott seemed to be avoiding eye contact and Deucalion kept his eyes trained on Talia.

"Now that they're here, we can begin," said a slender female Alpha. She had been leaning against a table, but immediately sprang upright as she spoke. The clack of her stilettos echoed through the room as everyone's attention focused on her. "As you all know, I am Alexa Welch, head of the North American Council of Alphas. For centuries, our kind has eschewed magic and those who wield it. Part of this is because our kind has a natural aversion to magic… the other reason is that those who use magic draw attention to themselves and put the rest of us in danger."

"You have got to be kidding me with this!" Stiles exclaimed. "I use my magic to help protect the Supernatural community." He glanced over to Scott and Deucalion. "Tell them!"

Scott nervously scratched the back of his head. "Stiles, I'm so sorry."

"They held a vote, Stiles," Deucalion added. "We voted in your favor… but we were the only ones who did."

"A vote?" Talia interjected. "What vote? And why wasn't I made aware of this?"

"Because the fact that you're even here is part of the problem," Alexa replied. "You're living proof that Stiles has used necromancy. Besides, he's your son-in-law. There was no way you could be objective."

"But Stiles and Scott grew up as best friends, almost like brothers," Derek asserted.

"Scott McCall is a True Alpha and his input was greatly needed," Alexa said.

"Scott McCall is also standing right here and doesn't need you to speak for him," Scott snarled, his eyes glowing bright red.

Stiles stepped forward. "What exactly did you vote on?" he demanded.

"We voted to expel you from the continent," Alexa replied matter-of-factly. "Your Pack can remain here, but you need to leave."

Stiles' nostrils flared angrily as he stepped forward again. His fingertips crackled with the blue sparks of magic. "And what if I decide that I don't give a fuck that you don't want me here?"

This time, Alexa stepped forward, shifting into her Beta form. "Then you will be dealt with like the threat you are."

Derek moved to place himself between his husband and the Alpha who had just very openly threatened him. "Is this how we handle business now? Doesn't Stiles at least have the right to a fair trial? We're still in America, after all. You can't presume to be his judge and his jury. You voted against a man who loves his family and his Pack… who has fought tirelessly to help innocent people since he first learned that his best friend had been bitten. He has put himself in the way of danger more times than anyone can count… but based on propaganda and fearmongering you decide to have him removed without at least letting him defend himself?"

Not letting her eyes move from Derek, Alexa growled, "Talia, control your Beta."

"Derek," Talia said softly.

"No!" Derek snapped. "They need to understand that they voted to expel the person who has done more to protect them than this so-called leader ever has."

"Emissaries," Stiles said, addressing his counterparts. "Where do you stand on this?"

Deaton, who was present with Scott spoke up. "We've advised our Alphas against it, for the most part," he said. "But in the end, it's not our decision. Our job is to help the Alpha make their decision, not to make it for them."

"You can't break up our family like this," Derek insisted.

"You're welcome to go with him," Alexa said, callously.

After several minutes of silence, Derek took another step forward. "I challenge you to the Rite of Blood," he said. A collective gasp fell across the room.

"Derek no!" Talia exclaimed. Even Peter looked uneasy.

Alexa smirked. "I'm an Alpha of a Pack with nearly 30 members. You're just a beta. Are you sure you want to do this?"

"I might be just a beta, but you've threatened my husband. You've threatened my family. So either you're Wolf enough to accept my challenge or you can show what a coward you are in front of everyone here." Derek's deadly gaze remained trained on the woman. "And if I win, Stiles gets to stay."

"Fine," Alexa snarled. "But I don't want any magical interference from him. If I accept your challenge, he needs to wear these for the duration of the fight." She lazily picked up a set of metal cuffs that had runes etched into them. The cuffs were rusty… they were old, but Stiles recognized them immediately.

They were the same cuffs that had been used to imprison Loki for several millennia. It impressed Stiles that they saw him as a threat so dire that this magical artifact had been sought to ensure his compliance. As long as Stiles wore them, his magic would be rendered useless. Two Alphas grabbed at Stiles, who ducked from their grasp and sent a concussive wall of air to knock them back. Immediately Cora and Peter shifted and growled menacingly at several betas who were advancing to avenge the slight on their leaders. Not wanting them to be hurt, Stiles told them to let him deal with it and began firing off battle magic at anyone who approached him. There were simply too many and he was eventually overwhelmed. It took six Alphas to wrestle him into the metal cuffs, but as soon as they had locked around his wrists, Stiles felt the suffocating lack of his power.

Alexa, who had been watching the scene with the same look of annoyance she'd held since they first arrived, sneered at Stiles, who had been forced to his knees. An Alpha's claws dug into his neck, forcing him to watch as an Emissary cast a ring of Mountain Ash around Derek and Alexa.

"Traditional rules of the Rite apply," Alexa asserted. "Nobody is to break the ring until one of us is dead." Cockily, Alexa added, "Oh… and when I win, Stiles will be put to death, too."

"Let's be civilized," Deucalion pleaded. "We don't need to resort to bloodshed to come to an agreement about this."

"I don't think you have a leg to stand on with that, Deucalion," Alexa replied. "You've probably killed more people than everyone in this room combined." She turned to Derek. "Are you ready, little Beta?"

Derek cast a glance over to Stiles. "I love you," he said. His eyes turned blue and as he glanced back over to Alexa he shifted into his full-wolf form.

It made Stiles hopeful that he was fighting as a wolf. He was much more agile in that form, but he was going against an experienced Alpha of a giant pack. Alexa lunged toward Derek, who darted out of her way. She hit the mountain ash barrier and grunted as the room filled with blue light and she was knocked back. The contact with the barrier stunned her for a moment and Derek took that opportunity to rake his claws into her back in his attempt to get at her neck, but she managed to throw him off.

Derek managed to find his purchase on the hard ground in time to prevent himself from touching the barrier and shifted to his Beta form, which was now naked.

Alexa licked her lips. "Oh it's a pity that you're going to die… it's such a waste of an exquisite body. We could have made very beautiful babies…" She sounded almost exactly like Kate as she spoke, which made Stiles' stomach turn.

"You're not my type," Derek replied, lunging at her with his claws extended. Stiles swelled with pride. Alexa seemed to catch him mid-leap by the neck and swung him around so that he was facing Stiles. One of her arms wrapped around his neck as she drove her knee into his back.

Stiles' eyes widened as he watched. He kept muttering spells under his breath, but none of them had any effect. He had resolved to ensure that one way or another, Alexa Welch was going to die tonight, even if he had to cast the Third Forbidden Act again, to do it.

She tugged upward on Derek's head, trying to detach it from his neck as she cut off oxygen. Stiles could see the life draining from his husband's eyes. Derek mustered every bit of strength he had to force himself up and back his assailant into the barrier, attempting to stun her again. Her mistake had been forcing him to look at Stiles… reminding him exactly what he was fighting for. He capitalized on the moment. This time, instead of clawing her back, he managed to push her against the force field again, face first. She screamed as it burned her face. Derek's eyes flickered red for the briefest of moments. She bucked and tried to push Derek off of her.

Derek slashed across her face as he was forced back. It was clear he had been aiming for her throat. The realization that he'd gotten so close to doing just that seemed to enrage Alexa. She began slashing her claws wildly at Derek, tearing deep wounds across his chest and abdomen. He roared in pain. Blood covered the front of his body as he returned her violence in kind, blocking the next swipe that was aimed at his face. He heard his Uncle's voice in his head from when he was younger.

Pain and anger give you strength. Use it.

This woman had threatened his husband's life. Worse, she had threatened his Mate's life. He lunged toward her, shifting back into his wolf-form in mid-air. His powerful jaws closed around her neck as they tumbled backwards. Alexa hit the ground hard and the sudden jolt was all Derek needed. He swung his head to the right and blood sprayed up in a fountain. When he shifted back to his human form, the crimson blood dripped from his mouth and stained his teeth. The gashes along his abdomen were already sealing themselves up, but even brighter than the blood that covered the two werewolves and the floor inside the circle of mountain ash was the fiery red glow of Derek's eyes.

He had won.

As soon as Deaton saw the color of Derek's eyes, he broke the line of mountain ash and Derek stepped over it toward the Alpha who was holding Stiles. "Let him go," he ordered. "Unless you want to join Ms. Welch."

The Alpha removed his claws from Stiles' neck and a Beta handed over the key to the manacles. Derek released them and they fell to the ground with a loud clang. Immediately Stiles felt his power surge back. "Are you alright?" Derek asked in a low voice. Stiles nodded as he immediately worked on healing the puncture wounds from the Alpha's claws. He also magicked away the blood that covered his husband and a conjured clothes back onto his Derek's body. Derek addressed the crowd. "I have won the Rite of Blood. I want every Alpha, every Beta, and every Emissary here to walk away from this understanding one thing: threatening my family… threatening my Mate is a very stupid thing to do if you value your life." Derek dismissed the other packs before turning to Alexa's… which was now technically his.

Alexa's own Mate stood silently in front of the rest of her pack. Tears fell silently down her face. The rules of the Rite of Blood forbade her seeking vengeance on Derek for having killed Alexa. "I'm sorry it had to be this way," Derek said softly. "Truly, I am." He addressed the rest of the Pack. "I won't ask for loyalty from any of you. I won't ask that any of you stay on as my Betas. You can join the Hale pack if you'd like, or you can search for another Alpha. If you do choose to follow me, though, I will protect you and I will fight for you. But I can understand if you'd rather not follow my lead. Just know that if you try to bring harm to me or my family, my threat was not empty."

Unsurprisingly to Derek, none of the Betas elected to stay with him. All of them broke their bond to him as they crowded around the dead body of their former Alpha. Derek thought it for the best, anyway. A group that large could allow for one of them to ascend to Alpha on their own. They knew and understood one another and they needed to grieve. Derek returned to where his family stood. They each embraced him, telling him how happy they were that he survived, but chastising him for having scared them so badly.

"Don't you ever do something like that again!" Talia scolded, hugging him tightly once more.

"I don't think he'll need to," Scott said as he approached them. "I'm pretty sure his message was understood by everyone… even if I disagree with how it was broadcast, I'm glad of the outcome."

"Let's go home," Stiles said, wrapping his arm around his husband and pulling him close. "I've worked up an appetite."

"We can get dinner on the way back," Derek suggested.

Stiles pressed his lips to Derek's. They kissed each other deeply. When the kiss broke, Stiles leaned to put his lips next to Derek's ear. "I didn't say the appetite was for food…"

Chapter Text


Chris and Peter stood facing one another. Both looked remarkably handsome in their suits. Aria had spread rose petals down the walkway and Gabriel had carried the rings. They timed it so that the moment it struck midnight, ringing in the new year, Derek would proclaim them married and they could be one another's new year's kiss.

In Stiles' arms, Kellen giggled cheerfully, watching his older siblings clap at the sight of their great-uncle's kiss.

Shortly after, they put Gabe and Aria to bed. Kellen was still a little too hyper to lie down, so instead he bounced on Peter's knee, one finger in his mouth. "Dadadadadada," he babbled. Peter's eyes danced back and forth between his son's bright eyes and the bright ring that now sat on his finger. He looked up to see the bright blue eyes of his husband staring back at him. For the first time in his life, everything was bright.

"It's a pity you never let me throw you a stag party, mate," Alistair said over his stein of beer. "We Brits know how to throw an awesome stag party."

"Werewolves throw our own kind of stag party," Peter informed him. "We go off with our male Packmates and we actually hunt a stag."

"You havin' a go at me?" Alistair asked, clearly drunk by this point.

Derek chuckled. "No. It's actually our tradition… the term you use might have originated from us."

"That's bloody brilliant!" Alistair exclaimed, enthralled by that idea.. "Congrats, mate!"

"Did you do that before our wedding?" Stiles asked.

In answer, Derek blushed a bright shade of red.

They laughed and drank until the sun began to rise. Kellen had fallen asleep and Derek put him in his crib upstairs before returning to his seat at Stiles' side.

"So what's next for you two?" Stiles asked.

Chris and Peter gazed into each other's eyes. "We're going to help you take care of your hunter menace and then off to some island in the South Pacific where we can spend a lot of money for a private beach, but stay inside fucking each other's brains out the entire time."

Chris giggled at Peter's declaration in a boyish way that seemed to contrast so wholly with the man they all knew him to be. Talia laughed, too. She had never seen Peter so happy before. She barely recognized her brother.

When the party finally died out and everyone else had gone to bed, Peter took Chris' hand and led him to an area of the lawn not covered by trees, where the light of the rising sun could illuminate the patch of grass. Peter placed his hands on Chris' hips and rested his forehead against the human's. Slowly he rocked their bodies side-to-side to the beat of music that was only playing in his head.

"I can't believe we got married," Chris admitted after several minutes of just enjoying being alone with his new husband.

"Actually, I can believe that you got married," Peter replied. "I think it's really shocking that I got married."

Chris chuckled. "You're right." Chris leaned forward and kissed Peter. When the kiss broke, he let out a sigh.

"What's wrong?" Peter asked softly, sensing the change in his groom's emotions.

"I fluently speak several languages, but I can't figure out how to say what I'm feeling right now," Chris replied.

"Then don't say it with words," Peter said.

Chris smiled and kissed Peter again. He couldn't argue with the advice because there simply weren't words in any language he knew that could adequately describe just how much he loved the man in his arms.

"Why haven't we made a move?" Raphael paced back and forth in his mother's study. "They killed Uriel and we're letting them continue on with no repercussions? What will the other Hunters say about us?"

"They will say that we were wise and we waited long enough," Althea replied to her son.

"Long enough for what?"

"Long enough for them to think that Alistair is one of them," Althea said. "For now, they've accepted Alistair among their ranks. The longer he remains with them, the more likely they are to consider him part of their group. When the time comes for us to destroy them, they will look to Alistair for help, only watch him give the killing blow."

Raphael didn't like it. "I still don't understand what reason they had to take Alistair in."

Althea smiled knowingly. "You didn't expect Stiles to turn away another like him, did you?"

Being one of the cleverer Nightbornes, it took only a few moments for Raphael to understand what his mother was telling him. "How long have you known?"

"Since he was born. Why do you think I gave him that name?" She shook her head and chuckled. "I was always so dismayed with how eagerly you and your siblings ate up the old myth of our family. The protection we have from magic is because of magic. One member of each generation of Nightbornes receives the power. We suppress it from birth because as long as we don't use it, it backs up, in a way, and instead, fuels the symbol that grants us our immunity. Unfortunately, Alistair has been using his magic… and often. I can feel the protection that our sigil grants wane by the day."

"If Alistair has magic, we must destroy him, too," Raphael asserted.

Without warning, Althea slapped him hard across the face, sending her son reeling. "If we destroy Alistair, then we destroy his magic and any hope of our protections ever working again! I'm disappointed in how daft you have proven yourself to be." Althea collected herself after a moment and returned to the overstuffed chair that she loved so much. "I'm disappointed in all of you… Uriel for getting himself killed, Cassiel and Michael for allowing their protection to be stripped and then for allowing Stiles to put that binding spell on them."

"That was Alistair's idea, for all we know. How are you so certain that when the moment comes, he'll choose us over them?"

Althea's lips remained tightly pressed together. To be honest, she wasn't sure. He hoped that she had raised him with enough understanding and hatred of magic that he would choose the correct thing when the time came… but Alistair had always been the most rebellious of her children and the most unpredictable. "Because blood calls to blood and magic brings only misery and pain. He'll see the error of his ways, and when he does, he'll return to our side."

Returning to the dynamic of a pack with two Alphas proved simple for Aria and Gabe. They had been used to Derek being their Alpha for their entire life. The fact that he once more had red eyes as a Werewolf was more of a return to normalcy for them. The winter break from school had provided them with ample time to adjust to the new pack structure, as well as play with their baby brother.

Stiles had spent the time continuing Alistair's training. It felt good to be able to impart all of the knowledge he held to someone else.

Alistair struggled with the elemental magic. He also had a difficult time with other feats such as telekinesis.

"So you know how every time you have me try and make an earthquake, I pass out for a few hours?" Alistair said.

"Yeah," Stiles replied.

"What happens to people who overuse their magic?"

"How do you mean?"

"What if I cast a spell that is more powerful than my abilities permit?" Alistair asked.

"Well, a few different things can happen. For starters, the spell could simply not work because there wasn't enough power behind it. If your intention is strong and your reason is noble, you might be able to cast the spell, but you pass out for a little bit so that your body can recharge from what you just did. Maybe it would kill you. But there's something worse that can happen." Stiles answered.

"Worse than being killed?" Alistair asked incredulously.

Stiles didn't answer immediately. Instead, he crossed the study and pulled a book from the shelf, flipping through the pages before setting it in front of his pupil. One page showed a hideous demonic-looking creature. The other page put a name to the monstrosity. "If your intent is to cause harm or chaos and you're using magic too powerful for your body to contain it, it'll turn you into a wraith. You will become a demon of chaos, death, and corruption. It destroys every good part of you, replacing it with evil and hatred. When casting powerful magic, intent and reason matter."

"You can't fix it?"

"If you stop the spell soon enough, you can halt the transformation, but the darker sides of magic will forever call more loudly to you. If the transformation completes, it's irreversible. The humane thing, at that point, is to trap the wraith inside a pyxis and burn it, destroying the wraith forever," Stiles replied darkly.

"What if this happens to one of us while we're fighting my family?" Alistair asked softly. "I can handle it happening to me. It's a shit way to go, but you have three children, a husband, and a Pack who all need you. What if you lose control while fighting them?"

Stiles shrugged as he returned the books to their proper places on the shelves. "To be honest, I was hoping that this silence was a sign that our peace offerings were taken and it wouldn't come to a fight."

Alistair shook his head. "I know my family, mate. They've never let a magician go free once they've set their eyes on him. They're buying time, but for what reason, I can't be sure. We need to have a plan of attack. When they come for you and Kellen, they will not give quarter to anyone who tries to stop them. That means that Aria and Gabriel, Cora, Talia, Derek, Peter, and Chris are all fair game to them."

Stiles was silent for a few moments, his eyes gliding across the spines of dusty old tomes. "I can't help but to notice that your name wasn't on that list."

"I've considered myself a dead man from the moment I walked away from them. I'm a magic user. I was guilty of it the moment I was born and my mother tried to hide it from me… but now she can't ignore the fact that I am what I am. When they come to murder you and Kellen, they'll be coming to murder me. It's simply a matter of time." Alistair's voice dropped as he said it. Stiles couldn't help but to be taken aback by how matter-of-factly he discussed the idea that his mother or siblings would try and kill him. Then again, he'd already faced down the barrel of his eldest brother's gun, which had been turned on him the moment he first used his magic.

"I'm sorry," Stiles replied quietly. "I didn't think about that. I didn't mean to imply…"

"It's fine, mate," Alistair said. "I understand. Like I said before… you have a family and a Pack to watch out for. You'd be daft if you didn't hold at least a little suspicion yourself."

"It was unfair, Alistair," Stiles countered. "I really am sorry."

Their conversation was interrupted as Derek appeared in the doorway. He yawned widely. Neither of them had gotten much sleep, due to their celebrations. "I think I might be getting old," Derek joked as the yawn ended.

Stiles smirked. "Personally, I'm looking forward to your salt-and-pepper phase. The kids will be older and we'll be able to steal a lot more time for ourselves and I plan for us to fuck like bunnies."

Feeling slightly awkward at hearing such a conversation, Alistair excused himself, leaving the two married men alone.

After several false starts, Derek finally managed a coherent sentence. "Seeing Peter and Chris get married got me thinking," he began. "After everything we've gone through and overcome… maybe it's time for us to renew our vows. We aren't the same couple we were before. We're different… we're better."

"Derek!" Stiles exclaimed, caught off-guard. "I—"

"Wait a sec," Derek interjected, "I want to do this right." He kept his eyes locked with Stiles while getting down on one knee. "Mieczyslaw Stilinski-Hale, will you marry me again?"

Stiles grimaced at hearing is legal first name. Derek never called him that, though he had to be impressed by his husband's perfect pronunciation. "Of course, you idiot," Stiles replied with a chuckle. Derek rose back to his feet and kissed Stiles.

The household spent the rest of the day lazing about. The kids played in their rooms, the adults read books, surfed the internet, or napped. Feeling too tired to cook, Talia decided they should order pizza for dinner—a decision wholeheartedly supported by Aria and Gabriel.

When dinner arrived, Peter alternated between taking large bites of his own pizza and feeding Kellen from the jar of baby food. The baby was more interested in the pizza, however, and kept trying to grab at it every time Peter brought a piece of it to his mouth, which only amused Peter more. He tore off a small piece and let it cool down before trying to give it to Kellen, whose eyes brightened somewhat as it hit his tongue.

"He likes pizza!" Gabe exclaimed.

"He gets that from me," Aria proclaimed proudly.

Stiles tucked his children in one-by-one after dinner. It was obvious they were tired, even if they were fighting it. He and Derek went to bed soon after. It took mere moments from when his head hit the pillow for him to fall asleep, wrapped tightly in Derek's arms. He felt Derek's hairy chest against his back before turning his body so that he was instead facing his husband and nuzzling his head in the crook of Derek's neck.

The sound of Stiles' magical alarms woke everyone. Immediately Derek sniffed the air. "Someone's in the house," he growled, his eyes turning red as he shifted.

The two of them, clad only in boxers, rushed out into the hallway where they were met by the rest of the Pack. Cora immediately scooped Aria and Gabe into her arms. "I'll protect them," she said, ushering them into the nursery where Kellen was crying after having been startled by the alarm.

Stiles readied a fireball and following his lead, Alistair did the same. "We'll communicate through low-volume speech the Werewolves can hear," Derek said. Everyone nodded.

They spread out through the house in an attempt to find the intruder. Stiles went with Derek, Alistair with Talia, and Chris with Peter. Chris was also cocking a gun and had it aimed, ready to shoot if necessary.

Stiles and Derek scoped out the second floor and Stiles enchanted the nursery door so that only a Hale would be able to open it. He hoped the enchantment would be enough to keep Cora and the kids safe. Cora was an adept fighter in her own right, though, and he trusted her to do everything she could to keep her niece and nephews safe.

"The scent is getting stronger," Derek whispered as they approached the library.

In response, Stiles reared back his hand, ready to throw the fireball. Counting to three on his hands, Derek signaled for them to enter. Immedately a hailstorm of bullets began to fly. Stiles was able to put up a shield just as one flew dangerously close to Derek's head.

The bullets crumpled in on themselves and clattered to the floor. It was enough to bring the others running into where they were. Alistair drew up a shield of his own to help reinforce Stiles'. When the bullets finally stopped, they were able to see a tall man with rust-colored hair. He bore a striking resemblance to Alistair.

"Raphael?" Alistair said. "What are you doing?"

"Who is this?" Peter growled.

"He's my brother."

Peter extended his claws and cracked his neck. "He's interfering with my beauty sleep." He moved as if to lunge forward, but Chris stopped him.

"What are you doing here?" Alistair demanded.

"I'm doing what you should have done the moment he killed Uriel," Raphael replied.

"Please don't harm them," Alistair pleaded. "Magic isn't bad… it's not like what we were taught. It can be used to help. Stiles uses his magic to help. He can teach his son to do the same thing. Killing Stiles will do far more harm in this world than it would do good."

Rafael sneered at his brother in disbelief. "So it's true… you really are a freak like him?" He spat in disgust. The glob of spit landed on the rug in the center of the room.

Talia rolled her eyes. "That rug is an antique."

"You're choosing them over your family? A bunch of mongrels and magic users?" Raphael demanded.

"Stiles and his Pack are my family," Alistair replied.

Rafael raised his gun and pointed it square at Stiles, intent to make his brother watch his friend and mentor die. He pulled the trigger and the loud explosion of the gun filled the air. Alistair drew his hand up tried to use his magic to block the bullet from hitting Stiles. The adrenaline pumping through his body was enough to cut into his concentration and instead of blocking it altogether, his magic curved the bullet, sending it into Peter's chest.

Peter stumbled backward for a moment as he processed the fact that he had been hit. It wasn't the first time he had been shot before, but unlike the previous time, it didn't hurt. Time seemed to slow down for him. He looked to his left as Chris saw the blood starting to seep down his front. Peter's strength failed him and he could no longer support his own weight. As he collapsed, Chris caught him.

Stiles pushed Alistair into the wall hard enough to knock him out before rushing to Peter's side. He placed his hand over the wound as the warm blood seeped between his fingers.

"Stiles, save him," Chris begged.

Stiles summoned a flow of magic, trying his best to heal Peter, but nothing seemed to be happening.

The bullet seemed to be repelling his magic. Alistair confirmed his fear. "When the bullet hits something, it releases the same stuff in the tattoo that repels magic. He can't be healed."

"He can't die!" Chris's voice broke. Tears streamed down his cheeks, falling onto Peter. "Please, Peter… stay with me. I can't lose you. It's barely been a day since I married you."

"Best day of my life," Peter managed to say. He mustered the remaining strength he had to reach up and pull Chris' face to him, feeling the soft caress of his husband's lips against his own. As consciousness faded, the piercing blue of Chris' sad eyes were the last thing his mind registered.

Chapter Text

As Peter went slack in Chris' arms, Stiles became consumed with rage. He mourned for Peter, a person with whom he'd shared a complicated relationship since they first met. Peter was the first person ever had sex with. Peter had been there to help fight the Nogitsune, to help him return from the Wild Hunt. Peter had fathered his youngest child, though unwittingly, and had turned out to be an amazing father to the boy.

Stiles mourned for the relationship that Kellen would never share with the man whose limp body hung before him. He felt the surge of magic coursing through him, tensing every muscle. He didn't care what immunity this intruder had. Stiles would make sure the man understood what it meant to hurt someone he loved.

He conjured a knife into his hand and sent it flying into the part of Raphael's side where the mark of immunity was. Instantly, he could feel the way his magic was able to touch the man. He lifted him into the air and forced him back to consciousness.

A cracking, popping noise filled the air. Derek attributed it to the display of magic that was happening, as the air sometimes crackled when Stiles' temper was up, however, it wasn't until Raphael began to scream that the Alpha realized that Stiles was using magic to splinter every bone in the man's body.

It wasn't enough to kill him, in Stiles' mind. He needed to suffer. He needed to suffer even more pain than they would at having lost someone they loved. He needed to suffer for robbing Kellen of the opportunity to grow up and know Peter as the kind, protective man he had become since the boy's conception. More magic surged through Stiles. Items in the room began to shake and slowly lift into the air as Stiles reset and healed every bone he broke, just to splinter them again. Then he remembered the dark rush of the magic that had been used to stop Weylyn.

At the time, he thought it was just Kellen who had done it. He knew better now. He knew that it was summoned from his desire to save the people he loved. He had wiped a man out of existence for threatening his unborn child. He would do the same to Raphael Nightborne for firing the bullet that killed Peter.

As he channeled the magic, it felt cold and slimy as it ran through his body before ejecting out of his hands in a dark burst of energy. Raphael screamed louder as his body began to dissolve into dust.

At last, one more Nightborne was dead… but that wasn't enough. Raphael had fired the shot, but it had been Alistair who guided it into Peter's heart. He turned his gaze onto his student.

"Derek," Talia gasped. "His eyes…"

Derek looked up to see that Stiles' eyes were completely black, like two empty voids. They were unforgiving as they bored into Alistair, who slowly backed up until he was flat against a bookshelf.

"Mate, please… I never meant to—" Alistair began, but his words were cut off by a loud scream as Stiles began torturing him with his magic, just has he had with the other Nightborne.

"You never meant to what?" Stiles asked darkly. "Kill a member of my family? Take someone important from my son's life?"

Chris, who was still trembling, forced himself to his feet. "Stiles, it was an accident," he said.

It was a distraction just long enough for the torture to stop.

Alistair shouted to Derek. "He taught me about this. When someone like us uses a lot of magic without an ability to focus the intent, it can consume and destroy them… you have to get him to stop."

Derek nodded and moved to his husband. "Stiles, Peter is dead. You and him shared a complicated, but important bond and I know you're grieving. We all are. But we can't lose you both. Please… concentrate on my voice and come back to us. Like you said, Kellen lost Peter today… don't make him lose you, too."

The trembling in the room slowed and then stopped. Slowly, Stiles' eyes faded from black to gray to white and brown—the way they should be. His gaze travelled across his family members before resting on Peter's lifeless body. He could use his magic to resurrect Peter… to violate the laws of nature and pull him back from the other side. He'd done it before. Why not do it again? For Kellen?

"Please don't," a familiar voice said, as if responding to his thoughts. He looked up to see Peter's handsome face smiling back at him. "You're the only one who can see and hear me… But I'd like a moment with you and Kellen…"

Stiles subtly nodded and excused himself from the room. He went to the nursery. When he opened the door, Peter was already in there, unnoticed by everyone except Kellen, who was staring directly at him.

"Who was it?" Cora asked softly.

"Peter," Stiles barely managed to say past the lump in his throat. "Can I have a moment in here with Kellen?"

Cora nodded and ushered the other two children into another room, wanting to keep them out of the way of the others who would be dealing with Peter's body. Stiles scooped Kellen into his arms, but the baby never tore his eyes away from Peter.

"Back there… in the other room, you were thinking about ways to bring me back. Promise me you won't do it," Peter said softly. "I love Chris, I love Kellen, and I even love you… but I don't think I deserve a third or fourth shot at life. There comes a point where death should be permanent."

Tears were streaming down Stiles' face. "But what about Kellen? Doesn't he deserve to grow up knowing who you are and how much you love him?"

"He will," Peter replied, kneeling in front of Stiles and the baby. "I trust you and Derek and Chris to tell him how much I love him and that I loved him from the moment I knew he existed. Just promise me that when you tell him about me, that you'll not romanticize it or put me on a pedestal. He deserves to know that I wasn't the kind of person I became… he deserves to know that people can come back from darkness. No matter what Weylyn said, his path is entirely his to forge."

"Can I at least summon you for big events?" Stiles asked.

Peter shook his head. "I don't want Kellen to spend so much time looking toward the next big event that he doesn't take the time to live every day."

"What do you want me to say to Chris?" Stiles asked.

This time, it was Peter's ghostly figure that seemed to swallow down a lump in his throat. "Tell him that he was the best thing that ever happened to me and that I want him to move on from this and to let himself love someone else if the opportunity arises."

"Peter… don't go," Stiles begged. "Let me save you this one last time… please. You deserve to live your happily-ever-after with him and with Kellen… with your family. Let me do this for you. You worked hard for it." He broke down again. "It isn't fair."

Peter placed his hand on Stiles' shoulder, and using his other hand, tried to wipe away the man's tears. It didn't work. "Stiles… every great thing I became was because of you. Our history is rocky and complicated, but you managed to cement yourself into the heart of every Hale you encountered. You brought our family back together, you made us whole and you made us more than what we were. I'm okay with dying, Stiles. I really am. All of us have to go through it someday. Some of us have the unique pleasure of going through it multiple times… but you taught me how to love… and you led me to people who I loved more than anything in this world."

Peter then spoke directly to Kellen. Both he and Stiles wondered if Kellen would ever remember this, but Stiles made a silent promise that he'd remind his youngest son of whatever words Peter was about to say. "Be good, little guy. Eat your vegetables. When you get to that age, wear a condom. I love you so much, Kellen." Peter's voice broke again. "You're the reason I even understood the meaning of that word, little guy. I hope your life is filled with love and magic and fun and that you never once forget how much I love you."

Leaning forward to place a kiss on his son's cheek, Peter began to fade away. Kellen reached out for him. "Dada no go," the little boy whimpered. As Peter faded away, the Kellen began crying in earnest. "Dada no go! Dada no go!" He pounded his tiny fists against Stiles' chest. It broke Stiles' heart that his son's first sentence was one of anguish and sorrow.

Stiles used his magic to make Peter's tomb one that was worthy of its occupant. The funeral was small, but heartbreaking. Stiles and Derek had to explain to Aria and Gabe why they would never see their Uncle Peter again.

When it was over, Stiles went upstairs to his study to find Alistair alone with his bags.

"Where are you going?" Stiles asked.

"I can't stay here, mate," he said. "Every time I see how sad you or Chris or the children are, it breaks me just a little bit more. He'd be alive if it weren't for me."

"It wasn't your fault," Stiles replied softly.

"Maybe after some time and distance, I might come to feel that way, too. But for now, I need to leave," Alistair said. "You won't have to worry about my family ever again, though. I found a spell that used blood magic and it turns out that the more I use my magic, the more I weaken their protection against it. Nobody who shares my blood or vows any sort of allegiance to it will be able to harm a member of the Hale family."

"You combined blood magic with a binding spell," Stiles noted. "That's complicated magic. It's also dark."

Alistair nodded. "But sometimes, it takes a dark act to do a good deed."

Stiles decided not to admit to his student that he had considered using the Forbidden Acts to resurrect Peter, even after the plea to the contrary.

Derek had even caught him preparing the spell and trying to choose a mark to kill as the needed sacrifice. He had dissolved into tears as his husband wrapped him in his strong arms and slowly soothed him. Derek's words forever etched themselves into his memory: "You loved him. You had a history and it's complex and some of it predates us being together and I get it. He fathered one of your children and that bonds you to him as well. You're allowed to be sad. You're allowed to mourn. But you're not allowed to undo the good that he tried to do in the end."

Slowly, life returned to some semblance of normalcy. There were moments when something would be said and everyone would wait for Peter's snarky retort, only to hear the crushing silence that reminded them he'd never crack a joke for them again.

The mounting sadness was finally so much that Derek decided to act. "I called a realtor," he announced as they were getting ready for bed. "I asked him to scout places near Los Angeles and New York. He has already sent me a couple. There are good schools in the area and I think the kids would love either place. I just need you to choose which one. Personally, I'm leaning toward New York since Cora already lives there."

Stiles shook his head, caught off-guard. "Derek, we can't move… Beacon Hills needs us both."

"No," Derek corrected. "Beacon Hills needs Scott McCall, my mother, and Deaton. They don't need us anymore and since we don't need to fear the Nightbornes any longer, I think a change of scenery will help you and the kids."

"But what about my dad?" Stiles asked.

"I've already talked to him, too. He agrees. You haven't been the same since Peter died," Derek replied. "Come on, Stiles. You were never so happy as when you had steady work as an actor or were touring with your comedy. You sacrificed so much for me and our family. Now it's time to do something for you."

9 Years Later

"Is he going to come downstairs or not?" Aria asked impatiently as she didn't look up from her phone." Stiles smirked at how much of a typical high schooler she often proved herself to be.

Gabe sighed. "She's right, you know. We're going to be late now that you've put a stop on us using our werewolf powers to get to school."

"Kellen, get down here!" Derek called.

"I'm trying!" he yelled back.

"Trying?" all of them asked at the same time.

"Let me go see what's happening," Stiles said as he headed upstairs to his son's room. He knocked twice on the door before letting himself in. Kellen was, it seemed, stuck to the ceiling.

"Please tell me you're going to get me down from here," Kellen begged.

The binding magic that Stiles had performed so long ago was starting to fade for the first time, releasing some of Kellen's powers to him. "It was your magic that got you there, Kel," Stiles said. "You're going to have to use your magic to get you down."

"This is magic?" Kellen grumbled. "Then it fucking sucks!"

"Watch your language!" Stiles chided, while noting that it was a very Peter-esque outburst. As the boy grew, he looked almost identical to his biological father. He could see the daggers his son was glaring at him, so he began talking Kellen through controlling the levitation to allow himself back down onto his bed. Stiles had tried to get him to slowly float down, but Kellen's impatience had affected the magic he was unconsciously casting and suddenly he zoomed face-first onto the bed with a thud and a loud "Oof!"

As Kellen sat up, he was even more annoyed to see Stiles struggling to hold in laughter. "It's not funny! I already feel like enough of a freak. You don't have to make it worse."

"I wasn't laughing at you, Kel," Stiles assured him. I was just thinking about how much you reminded me of him in that moment.

Kellen cocked his head to the side as if to ask "Who?" before the realization dawned on him. "My dad… I mean my other dad?" Stiles nodded. "I've been having dreams about him. It was like I could see him off in the distance and each night I was able to get a little closer to him. But then last night, I was finally able to touch him. I tapped him on the shoulder and he turned around and faced me, but he was confused. He said I shouldn't have been there and then I woke up and I was stuck to the ceiling." Stiles listened to his son with an expression of curiosity on his face. It wasn't until he felt the shoulders of his youngest son shake that he realized Kellen was crying.

"Sweetheart, what's wrong?"

Kellen sniffled loudly before answering. "I thought he might be happy to see me. Instead, it was like he was angry at me and I don't know why. Why is my dad mad at me?" Silence filled the air as Stiles struggled to come up with an answer. "Am I the reason he died?"

"No," Stiles answered quickly. "You're not. And he loved you so much, Kel. When he was holding you was when he was his happiest. The last words he ever spoke were to you, telling you how important you were to him. Please never ever even entertain the thought that Peter Hale didn't love you because he did." Stiles then had an idea. "You're not going to school today. You and I are going to do something together."

"Are you going to start giving me magic lessons? Because I think I'd rather just go to school," Kellen replied honestly.

"Well, I am going to start giving you magic lessons, but not today. We're going to do something else, but I think you'll like it," Stiles assured him. "Get showered, dressed, and come downstairs." Stiles mussed his son's hair before exiting his room and descending the stairs.

Stiles whispered into Derek's ear what his plans were, using magic to keep his older children from listening, too. Derek nodded and agreed that it might be a good idea. "Alright you two," he said addressing them. "Get in the car. I'll drive you to school." He then leaned over and kissed Stiles deeply. "Be safe," he added.

"Get a room!" Aria complained, causing her parents to chuckle.

Derek left to bring the kids to school and Stiles went into his study to gather the spellbook and ingredients he'd need. He packed them and a couple clean changes of clothes into a suitcase before packing a second suitcase for Kellen. He finished booking the plane tickets right as Kellen walked downstairs. He handed his son his cellphone. "I'm trusting you to choose the Spotify playlist. Don't make me regret that decision."

"Sweet!" Kellen said as he grabbed the phone, immediately turning it to an Alt Rock playlist.

They drove to the airport in silence, and even the flight contained few words exchanged between the two. After landing, they rented a car and once again, Kellen was the DJ as they drove the beautiful paths to get to the Hale mansion in Beacon Hills. "Why are we going to Grandma's house?"

"You'll see," Stiles assured him once they pulled to a stop. Talia was there to greet them both with hugs.

"Where are the others?" she asked.

"It's just us. I think it's time that two people get a chance to meet one another," Stiles replied.

Talia immediately knew what he meant. "I'll give you your privacy. Let me know if you need anything."

Stiles guided Kellen toward the large marble building on the edge of the property. It was sealed magically, capable of being opened only by a member of the Hale family. Stiles allowed Kellen to open the doors and they walked in. The air inside was stale and dusty, causing the two of them to cough a bit. At the end of the long hall was a statue with the exact likeness of Peter Hale. Immediately, Stiles laid out the herbs needed to perform the ritual.

"I really do look like him," Kellen whispered, trying to hid the lump in his throat.

"For this to work, I'm going to need a little bit of your blood," Stiles said.

Kellen nodded and held out his hand. Stiles used a small knife to slice open his son's index finger. He squeezed his son's blood into a jar before healing the wound. Kellen watched as his father performed the ritual, reciting a language that Kellen was almost certain had to be made up. However, a wind blew up around them and Stiles slowly approached the statue, dipping his finger in the blood and drawing a line across the forehead, the chest, and then painting the lips red with the blood. He then stood back and sucked as much air into his lungs as he could before blowing it out in the direction of the statute.

The marble seemed to chip away, revealing a handsome man in a deep v-neck t-shirt, jeans, and shoes. He blinked slightly as he tried to take in exactly what had happened. "Stiles?" Stiles nodded. "I thought I told you not to summon me."

"I know you did," Stiles said. "But this was important. I think you and your son need to have a talk. He's accidentally been travelling to the Astral Plane and he found you, but he got the wrong message from your reaction and I think you should set it right."

Kellen peeked out from behind Stiles and Peter's eyes widened at seeing him. "Kellen?"

Kel nodded. The two of them rushed toward each other and embraced tightly. "Hi, dad."

"The spell won't last long," Stiles warned. "Maybe 15 minutes at the most." Stiles left the room to give them their privacy. When he returned roughly ten minutes later, he saw them hugging tightly again, with Kellen crying into Peter's shoulder.

"You don't have to be dead," Kellen said. "We can use magic to bring you back to life. You can be with us… you can be with Uncle Chris."

"I've been dead for almost ten years. It's best that I stay dead now. Your father brought you here to get the closure you needed, not to reopen the wound. I'm dead now, Kellen. Even if you tried to bring me back, the way I was killed would likely prevent any magic from actually working," Peter told him. "I love you, kiddo. Be good… listen to your fathers—both of them!—and take care of your brother and sister, okay?"

"Yeah," Kellen said gloomily as he pulled away.

"Do you mind giving me a moment to talk with him?" Stiles asked Kellen softly.

"Sure," Kellen replied, just as gloomily as he left the crypt and headed toward the house where his grandmother was there to greet him with a hug.

When they were alone, Peter turned angry. "You shouldn't have done this, Stiles."

"Peter, he was so broken by the idea that you might be angry at him. He was even starting to blame himself for your death. I had no other choice but to bring him here and let him hear it from you. He wouldn't have believed me or Derek. For nine years, I respected your choice, but I don't think that you would have done anything differently had you been in my shoes," Stiles said. "You only see him from a distance. I have to watch it all up close."

"Don't you think that distance hurts me as much as the proximity hurts you? Don't you think I want to be there for him?" Peter snapped. "I'm the one who died, remember?"

"Remember? Of course I remember, Peter! It's not something I can forget! He looks like you. He acts like you and it breaks my heart to see it because it reminds me of you and the fact that I wasn't able to do anything to save you and now I have to watch my son grow up feeling like a piece of him is missing because failed," Stiles shouted.

Peter's features immediately softened. "Have you been holding onto that this entire time?"

Stiles nodded slowly.

"Don't. You and I both know that if you could have saved me or resurrected me that day, there isn't a force on this earth that would have stopped you… not even my requests that you refrain from doing just that. Your magic can't fix this one, Stiles. Stop punishing yourself for a crime you didn't commit," Peter whispered.

Slowly the marble was beginning to return and Peter felt drawn back to the position where the Statue had originally been.

"One more thing, Peter…"


"If he sees you on the Astral Plane again, please just spend time with him and talk to him. Don't tell him to leave you. He feels things so personally… especially when they're about you. Don't put him through that kind of rejection."

"I promise," came Peter's response as the marble consumed him, turning him back into a statue.

They stayed overnight at Talia's and Noah came to visit for a little while, knowing they'd only be in town for the one night. It wasn't until they were in the car headed back toward the airport that Kellen finally spoke to Stiles about what had happened.

"Thank you, dad," he said.

"You're welcome," Stiles replied.

"It was nice to get to talk to him… and Grandma told me some stuff that made sense," Kellen added.

"Oh really? What did she say?"

"She told me about how when she was dead, before you brought her back, that she was able to watch over dad and Aunt Cora whenever she wanted and that he can do the same thing. She said that's probably why I was able to see him when I was dreaming. She said that I used to be able to communicate with Aria when you were carrying me and that if my magic has started to come back and I can still do stuff in my dreams, I'll always be able to visit him at night," Kellen said excitedly.

"Everyone has certain kinds of magic that just comes more easily to them. For me, it's battle magic and elemental magic. For you, it seems to be astral projection," Stiles told his son. "I'll teach you how to control it so that you can visit him when you want to… just please promise me that you won't do it too often."

"Why not?"

"Peter was always afraid that if you had a way to regularly see him, you'd miss out on life just to spend time with him in his death," Stiles told him.

"I won't, I promise," Kellen said. "But I think it's time you finally told me the story about that bad guy. You said you'd tell me when my magic came… and it's here. Did I really have magic when you were carrying me?"

Stiles chuckled. "Let's not rush to that part. There's a flow to that story… I've got to give you some background. It's a story of intrigue, romance, and peril." Kellen rolled his eyes at hearing his father frame it this way. "It's a story about gods and monsters."