Stiles had felt proud when he'd graduated from high school. He figured he had a right to it since there weren't many people in the world who dealt with monsters and werewolves on a regular basis and still managed to finish high school, with honors. But his pride back then wasn't even a tiny fraction of what he felt when his children graduated. He figured he had a right to that too, since raising two werewolves and a stubborn brat and getting them through high school without too many major incidents was no small feat either. Not to mention any father would be proud that their daughter was the valedictorian. So what if he cheered so loud and obnoxiously when she stood to give her speech that Scott and Derek both had to yank him into his seat from embarrassment? Laura long distance fist bumped him and said proudly into the microphone,
"That's right Pops!" Erica and Andrew both laughed. Christine - more commonly known as Chris - Scott's daughter and Laura's girlfriend, wolf-whistled loudly. Laura gave everyone her fierce predatory grin and began to address her classmates.
"Right, so you guys all know I'm not the sappy or inspirational type, But Andrew is, so guess who helped with my speech." Andrew laughed again, embarrassed, and most of the class gave a loud cheer. "We all know I'm supposed to say some shit about how we worked hard, and we've got some bright, wonderful future coming. Or I could say how the future is all scary but we made it this far and that determination will get us through life. I'm not going to do that though because it's bullshit and it's cliché as hell.
"What I will say is this: this class, this school, this whole town is a family. We look out for each other, make each other better. Wherever I go, I'll carry you with me, and the same goes for each of you. So whatever happens out there in the world, you're not alone. Your success is our success, your failure our failure. Whenever you need someone to fall back on, Beacon Hills will catch you. And when you're strong enough to go forward, carry us proudly. As long as you can remember that, nothing else matters and nothing can ever truly hurt you. So give 'em hell." She looked over the graduates, catching the eye of a student here or there and sharing a knowing look with Andrew and Martin. Then she found the pack in the stands. Derek gave her a curt nod of approval and Stiles attempted to cheer wildly again but was cut off immediately by the others. But nothing could hold him back when their names were announced and they walked across the stage one by one. Afterwards there were pictures and parties and gifts. Stiles didn't stop smiling all week.
Monday nights were pack nights at the Hale house. They would all gather in the sitting room and talk, play games, or watch T.V. It was something Stiles had insisted on from the beginning and Derek had happily enforced. One particular Monday they had argued for half an hour over what movie to put on before reaching an agreement. Surprisingly it was Martin that moved to put the disc in while everyone else settled in more on the array of sofas. Boyd and Isaac sat at opposite ends of one couch and Erica spread out across them, Allison leaned back into Scott on the opposite couch with their son, Tyler, and Andrew sitting comfortably beside them. On the middle couch Laura and Chris were curling up snuggly on one end while Derek pulled Stiles just a little closer at the other. Martin had been occupying the space between the two couples. He paused after sliding the Blu-ray into the player and surveyed the pack uneasily. After a moment he took a steadying breath and fixed his eyes firmly on his parents.
"I'm leaving tomorrow," he announced firmly. Most of the pack looked shocked, Andrew, Laura and Chris were calm, Derek looked mildly puzzled, Stiles was horrified.
"What?" Stiles asked, his voice cracking wildly.
"I'm leaving tomorrow," Martin repeated.
"Where?" Derek asked calmly.
"Anywhere," Martin replied. "Everywhere."
"Why?" Stiles asked, pleading and desperate. He sat up rigidly, pulling away from Derek slightly. Martin sighed and took a seat beside him.
"Because I want to, maybe even need to. I love my pack but… I don't want to stay in Beacon Hills forever."
"I think it's a good idea," Andrew said. Stiles shot him a look that clearly said 'traitor'.
"What are you going to do when you're there?" Derek asked. There was an edge in his voice that implied he wouldn't accept the decision without a good answer.
"Find other wolves. Help them, learn from them, anything." Derek nodded. The pack had been isolated for a long time and he could see the wisdom in reaching out to others. Martin turned to Stiles. "I promise I'll keep in touch, and I'll visit sometimes. Tell me this is okay." Stiles groaned helplessly.
"It's okay. You're an adult, you can do what you want. It's probably a good idea anyway. I'll just miss you," Stiles said. Martin hugged him tightly before settling in on the couch more. The pack spent the rest of the evening together and drifted off later than they normally did.
The next morning Martin dropped Derek's old duffle bag, once again packed full, beside the doorway. Stiles eyed the luggage hatefully, it was his enemy.
"Come have breakfast, you're dad cooked," Stiles said, ushering Martin into the dining room. His siblings were seated around the table, Laura looking surly and half asleep with Chris running a placating hand over her back, and Andrew sitting calm as ever if slightly less alert than normal. It was unusual, most mornings Martin was up so early that it was just him and Stiles eating breakfast before his morning shift. Martin loved the pack, but part of him felt a little regretful that they wouldn't have that time together on his last morning home. After a little while Derek came in with heaping platters of bacon, eggs, pancakes, and sausage. Everyone dug in and they ate in relative silence.
Eventually, by silent agreement, Derek, Stiles, and Martin rose and moved to the front door. Derek pulled Martin into a tight embrace. When he pulled away he gripped the back of his son's neck firmly, locking their gazes.
"If you ever need help with anything, call. We've handled our fair share of trouble, we can help," he said firmly. Martin swallowed hard and nodded slightly; Derek nodded back and released him. He hefted up the duffle and handed it to the young man. "I love you martin, take care of yourself out there."
"Love you too Dad," Martin replied, meeting his eyes again for the barest of seconds before turning to Stiles. Stiles threw his arm around Martin's shoulders and led him outside to Martin's jeep; it wasn't unlike Stiles' had been, but darker.
"Be safe, call for anything at any time, be happy, don't forget us," Stiles said, opening the trunk. Martin slid his bag inside.
"Come on Pops, you're pack; where I go you go, always." Stiles nodded slowly. He watched Martin close the trunk, followed him around the vehicle to check the tires and oil. When Martin turned to him for a final farewell he sighed.
"Look, while you're out there, if you run into the Argents…"
"Pops, I'm not a wolf, they won't…"
"Just listen, Martin. If you see them, tell them Allison's okay and whatever they want to know about her. Don't tell them her kids are werewolves and don't tell them anything about the rest of the pack. Make it clear that you're human. And don't trust any of them. I mean, that goes for all hunters but… You might want to trust the Argent's because of Allison, don't." Martin nodded firmly.
"This is the sort of thing you're good at, so learn everything you can out there. Learn how to recognize monsters, learn to track them, learn to help them, learn to hunt them. Write the world's most comprehensive bestiary and guard it closely."
"You know me," Martin smiled.
"Yeah, I know you," Stiles replied, pulling him into a hug. "Love you, Son. I'll miss you."
"You too, Pops," Martin replied with a rasp to his voice. Stiles released him and trudged off to the police cruiser without another word or backward glance. Martin took a deep breath and got in the jeep.
Martin didn't come home for two years, though he kept in constant contact. When he did come home he was rugged and confident and more at home in his own skin than he ever could have been if he'd stayed in Beacon Hills. Everyone knew he wouldn't stay long; he'd only come back for the ceremony. Derek was stepping down, Andrew would be the alpha.
"Are you ready?" Derek asked calmly. Andrew looked panicked as he shook his head.
"No, not… not ready. I'm not ready. You should… We should wait a few more years. You're a great alpha, there's no need to do this now. We should just wait. Maybe forever," Andrew rambled.
"I'm getting old, Andrew, it's time."
"But what if I'm no good? What if I lead the pack to disaster?"
"You can't be any worse than I was when I started out," Derek answered affectionately. Andrew pulled him into a tight hold and Derek could feel how his son was shaking.
"I can't do this," Andrew said, broken and panicky. Derek sighed and returned the frantic embrace with a warm hug.
"I'll be here to give you advice when you need it, but you won't; you're already an alpha in your heart Andrew, you'll be fine." Andrew took a deep shuddering breath, stepped back, and nodded.
The pack stood in the open area in front of the house, bathed in the light of the full moon; January, the wolf moon. The younger werewolves all felt a low hum of excitement, the older ones a tense trepidation. None of them had ever experienced the change from one alpha to another. They were all milling about, casually trying to ignore their nerves, and chatting quietly. When Andrew and Derek stepped out of the house they all fell silent and watched the pair.
Everyone knew what to expect, they'd been planning this night for quite some time. Derek didn't say anything to them, merely locked eyes with each individually; he looked to Stiles last. After a long pause in which they both reflected on Derek and the pack and how he had led them, Stiles gave a small nod and Derek turned to face their eldest son. A small tremor went though Andrew but his gaze and resolve held steady; here, before his pack, he would be strong.
"I submit to you, both my power and my pack," Derek said firmly. "You are my alpha." Andrew nodded once, stepped forward, and sank his fangs into the flesh of Derek's shoulder. Derek's eyes flashed brilliant red and slowly bled to their old neon blue. He stumbled unsteadily when Andrew retreated a step, and fell into a crouch. He looked up at his son but Andrew was focused intently on Martin.
Andrew could feel his control slipping. He had never felt the pull of the moon so strongly and the newfound power was intoxicating. It frightened him and he tried to hold tightly to his anchor. Whether he'd been expecting this or he just sensed it, Martin stepped closer. He put both hands on Andrew's shoulders and stared into his deep red eyes.
"Just breathe, keep breathing. You're stronger than you've ever been Andrew, you can beat the moon," Martin said calmly. Andrew took several steadying breaths and shifted back to normal, only his eyes left to indicate the change. Martin nodded approvingly. "That's the Andrew I know; my alpha." Andrew gave him a grateful look and began walking before each member of the pack. It was just a formality, they were his pack now, his betas; but each of them dipped their head as he passed and mumbled 'my alpha', promising to follow him like they'd followed Derek.
"I will protect this pack," Andrew promised them in return. He shrugged his head toward the house and they all began wandering back in. Andrew hesitated a moment before falling into step with his siblings. Laura immediately threw an arm over his shoulders and pulled him into a sideways hug.
"Relax; it's not that big a deal. Hell, Martin's changed more than you," she teased. Andrew smiled and wrapped his arms around both of them.
Stiles helped Derek to his feet and Derek leaned on his shoulder to steady himself. They watched the pack file into the house in silence. When they were alone outside Stiles rested his head on Derek's shoulder and breathed him in.
"You okay?" Stiles asked quietly.
"Yeah," Derek replied. "It's just been a long time since I was a beta; I wasn't expecting to feel so weak."
"Are we strictly talking about your physical well being or…" Stiles let the question hang.
"I'm fine, Stiles. Andrew will take care of the pack; he'll be a good alpha."
"You're sure you're okay? No angst about not being the alpha? No regrets? No sudden need to cry big werewolf tears out of those pretty blue eyes I've missed so much?" Derek laughed lightly.
"I'm fine, really. I promise."
"I'm not," Stiles sighed. Derek tilted his head and gave Stiles a questioning look. "Our babies are all grown up," Stiles explained. "Andrew's the alpha, Martin's a badass, and Laura's gonna propose to Chris any day now; if they don't just elope first. I feel old and… I don't know, like they don't need me anymore." Derek shifted to face Stiles, reading his expression for a moment before kissing him tenderly.
"Kids always need their parents Stiles," he said softly. "They'll always need you, and so will I." Stiles gave him a broken smile, tears threatening at the corners of his eyes.
"I love you Derek," he said.
"I love you too Stiles."
1) A huge thanks to NinjaPandaIzzy for being my beta, letting me bounce ideas off of her, and not letting me half-ass some of the character interactions.
2) Thanks to all of you who read/reviewed/favorited/and enjoyed this fic, you're all awesome.
3) I'm done! Seriously, there will be no more to this, don't ask. However, if you enjoyed my style and characterization keep a look out for my next project Under the Influence, which will hopefully be written and posted in its entirety within a few weeks.