AN: This story takes place a few years in the future of both shows-after Purgatory and during Stiles's and Scott's senior year. It also happens in a world where Scott eventually joins Derek's pack because I just want them to have nice things.


1

His hands trembled, partially from inebriation and partially from fear, but he held the little garden trowel with a desperate resolve. The rational part of his mind sat quietly laughing at his actions, but he ignored it—much easier to do while drunk.

This was a long shot, an impossible dream, but he was at the end of his rope. In less than a month the tumor in his brain would have him reduced to an empty shell of himself. He couldn't bear the thought of having to put his wife and kids through that torment. So when he remembered how his grandmother warned him of the danger of crossroads, of what lurked there, waiting to lure souls into an eternity of hellfire, he drank half a bottle of whiskey and put all the necessary items in a little box to bury.

Sharp pieces of gravel sent spikes of pain through his knees as he dug into the ground, breath rising in little puffs in the chilly night air. With each trowel full of dirt, he became more and more convinced he was wasting his time, but his body moved mechanically. He had to try everything, anything, even bargaining with the devil.

When the box was buried, he stood back up, wondering what he was supposed to do now. Go back home feeling like an idiot, most likely.

"Well, well, well. My first customer."

The man turned quickly and was surprised to see a kid standing a few feet away. Well, not a child, really, but a teenager, probably still in high school. "What—how—?" He had meant to ask him where he'd come from and what he was doing in the middle of nowhere on a school night, but the whiskey got in the way.

"You were expecting horns, cloven hooves, maybe a tail? Come on, that's fairy-tale stuff. You summoned a crossroads demon, you got one. So what can I do for you tonight?" The kid—demon—put his hands in the pockets of his jacket, not seeming impatient, but perhaps a little bored. Like this was routine.

"I have a tumor in my brain. Can you cure me?"

"Do you just want the brain cancer gone, or all of it?" The demon's large golden-brown eyes moved down the man's body, as if he were looking through him. "Cause you got it all over man."

"Yes, all of it. And I don't want it back." He licked his lips, feeling the cold air begin to chap them immediately. "I know what it costs. I'll pay the price."

"You get ten years of healthy livin'. After that, it's eternal damnation. Deal?"

"Y-yeah. So, I'm cured?"

"Almost." The demon's large eyes flashed red, and the smile that should have been endearing was almost predatory. He held out his hand.

The man took it, expecting a handshake. Instead, the demon pulled him close, grabbing his shirt collar and kissing him square on the lips.

As kisses went, it wasn't particularly interesting. No tongues involved, only lasted a second, the sort of kiss he gave his wife when they said goodbye in the morning. But something about it was deeply disturbing; he thought that kissing someone half his age was the problem, but it wasn't. He felt violated somehow, like something had been taken from him.

It was like his soul could feel what he'd done.

"That's how we make deals in hell." The demon took a few steps back. "Remember, ten years. Then the hounds will come for you."

Laughter filled the winter night, even after the demon was gone.


"So have you decided?"

Stiles jumped, realizing his mouth was slightly agape and closing it quickly. "Uh, what?" He'd been drifting off again, searching the dark corners of his mind for whatever it was that he felt like he was forgetting. Trying to remember was like scrambling for memories of a dream, but it kept nagging at him, so he kept searching.

"On which college you're going to? Have you picked?" He and Scott were sitting in the cafeteria, waiting for the rest of their group to arrive.

"No. You?" Stiles looked down at food that completely failed to be appetizing to him.

"Maybe. I don't have as many options as you, though." There wasn't any jealousy in his words or on his face, only pride and happiness for his best friend.

"You think I have options? You should see the list of colleges Lydia got into. She got into every single one she applied to, even Harvard."

"You could've gotten in there, too."

"Yeah, well, applications aren't free." Stiles's father had told him to apply to as many as he wanted, that the money wasn't a problem, but he couldn't bring himself to waste hundreds of dollars on applications that might come back with a big fat "no" anyway, and it wasn't like he could go to more than one college. So he'd picked five schools, just to be safe. He'd gotten into all of them.

In a few months they'd all be graduating, heading off to school in any number of distant locations. But the werewolves would always have a reason to stay in touch, to come back here, because Derek was here.

Lydia he'd probably never see again, until she was on TV for winning some international award for curing cancer.

"This sucks," Scott said, reading Stiles's mind perfectly. "I mean, high school sucks, but so does growing up."

"Come on," Stiles smiled, forcing himself to be cheerful for his friend's sake. "It won't be that bad. We might end up at the same college, and even if we don't, it's not like we'll stop being friends. You won't be rid of me so easily."

"Can you imagine when we're all older, married with kids and white picket fences. We'll only see the pack on birthdays and holidays."

"I can totally see Derek in a Santa hat, handing out presents."

They both broke into loud laughter at the image. They didn't stop until Jackson punched Stiles in the shoulder and demanded they calm down before they ruined his appetite.

For the rest of the day, Stiles filled the quiet lulls in lectures and conversations with the same fruitless attempt to remember what he'd forgotten.


"We need to talk."

Scott's smile faded into an uncertain frown. "Okay," his voice was hesitant. He probably thought he'd done something wrong and his alpha was about to lecture him.

Derek remained silent as they walked away from the Hale house. He didn't speak until they were far enough out of the earshot of even the nosiest werewolf.

"Heh, you didn't bring me out here to execute me, right?"

Rolling his eyes, Derek wondered when people were going to stop being so afraid of him. He'd known Scott for more than two years now, you'd think he'd lighten up. "No. This is about Stiles."

"What about him?" The smell of fear momentarily overwhelmed Derek's senses.

"Something's wrong with him. I was hoping you could tell me what." There was a time when Derek Hale could ask a favor without making it sound like a command, but those days were long gone. Occasionally the alpha would worry that perhaps his approach to leadership was too harsh, but then one of the idiot teens he'd given the bite to would go off and commit some act of unbelievable stupidity, and he'd remember why he took a hard line with them.

Eventually they'd be mature, and he could stop treating them like misbehaving children, but that day was not today.

"I don't know." The truth. Maybe Scott was growing up, after all. "He won't tell me, but he's been distant and more unfocused than usual. At first I thought maybe it was college and graduating, but now I'm not so sure." The teen hesitated. "And sometimes I smell—I smell sulfur on him." Scott sounded as confused as Derek felt, but he kept his face blank.

"I went to his house; the smell is all over his room." Running a hand through his hair, he sighed. "If he won't talk to you, I'll have to make him talk to me."

"Yeah, that's the best plan, just beat the truth out of him." Scott rolled his eyes. "You can't make him tell you what's up. I think a kinder approach—"

"I think whatever's going on could have implications to this pack, and I think it's my job to keep that from happening." Stepping closer to Scott, he let his eyes glow red for a moment. "I also think you should let me try to talk to him. I never said I'd beat it out of him."

"Okay, okay," Scott raised his hands up in a gesture of surrender. "Just be nice, you know he's terrified of you, so go easy." Derek opened his mouth to reply, but the younger werewolf cut him off. "No, I'm serious. You're harder on him than the rest of us, which is the opposite of logical because he's human. I mean, you don't throw him around and try to train him or anything, but…" His voice faded as he tried to form his thoughts into words. "You're just meaner to him. I don't know if it's because he's not a super special werewolf like us or what."

Derek was left standing in the darkening woods long after Scott left, and though his body was perfectly motionless, his mind was not idle.


"Jesus!" Stiles exclaimed, then promptly tipped his desk chair backwards and fell out of it, landing in an awkward heap on the floor of his room.

"I didn't mean to scare you. Sorry." The apology from Derek seemed more than forced. Stiles looked behind the alpha, wondering if someone was holding a gun to his head or something. "Uh, can I come in?" He was currently balanced on Stiles's window sill, making it look like the easiest thing in the world, the bastard.

"Yeah, fine, but you know, normal people call or text before climbing into my bedroom." That was only half a lie, but Scott was his best friend and could drop by any time he liked.

For a moment it looked like Derek was about to bite his head off, but then he just inhaled slowly. "I'll try to be more respectful of your boundaries. But I needed to talk about what's been going on with you."

Stiles knew his mouth was hanging open in shock, but he couldn't get his brain past the first part of what Derek had said. Respect his boundaries? Since when did Derek respect anyone's anything? Had he been watching marathons of Dr. Phil or something?

"Stiles. Are you going to talk to me, or just stare?"

"Uh. What—what was the question?" He cleared his throat and righted his desk chair. "Sorry I just think I might have had a stroke because I'd swear you were talking about respecting boundaries like a reasonable person—"

"Stiles." Derek spat the name like a threat, like a curse. His knuckles were white from clenching his fists so tightly, probably to keep them from involuntarily finding their way around Stiles's neck. "What's wrong with you? I need to know."

"Nothing's wrong." His voice didn't squeak, nope. His throat was just a little dry. "Things are great for once. No crazy werewolf shit going down, no hunters trying to kill all my friends. Haven't even seen a monster lately, other than present company." He stepped behind his chair, using it as a shield. "Just kidding!"

With one fluid motion, Derek pushed the chair aside and stepped closer to Stiles, keeping the teen from fleeing by holding the collar of his t-shirt.

"D-dude, I thought we were respecting boundaries now!" His heart was going wild in his chest, and he had the sudden irrelevant thought that this must be what deer feel like when they're running from predators.

But Derek was only sniffing him, which was weird and disturbing, but not necessarily life-threatening. Rolling his eyes and pushing Stiles away, he barked, "You reek of sulfur. This whole place does. What are you into? And don't tell me it's something for chemistry class."

"Sulfur?" Stiles sniffed his t-shirt. It smelled like his body-wash and deodorant and a little like his own skin.

"It's too faint for you to pick up on it." He turned and touched a hand to the window sill. Holding it up for Stiles to see the yellow powder, Derek continued. "So where'd it come from?"

"I don't know." He let some of his fear leak into his words, thinking of the hours that had gone missing from his memory, of the strange dreams and the feeling he was forgetting something important. "I don't, okay?"

Derek looking at him with an unreadable expression, but it was different from his usual one, which tended to generally be angry. This was like the alpha was seeing Stiles for the first time.

Not knowing what else to do, Stiles reverted to his default—he just kept talking. "There's nights when I can't remember what I've been doing for the past several hours and sometimes I wake up feeling like I didn't sleep at all and I don't know what's happening it's not like I'm on drugs or something just one minute I'm working on homework and then I'm in my bed and my alarm is going off." He paused to breathe. "I'm scared, okay? So just back off, and—and stop looking at me like you're about to eviscerate me. Please."

With what looked to Stiles like an amazing force of will, Derek softened his expression back to impassive. That was something, at least.

"So tell me, mister alpha, what the hell is happening?" He didn't mean to sound like he was begging, but once the words were out, he couldn't change them. Maybe Derek would respond to desperation and actually give him a straight answer for once.

Maybe pigs would fly.

"I don't know," Derek said after a long moment that had been filled only with an unbroken stare between the two men. "I've never heard of anything like this."

Stiles began to laugh, high-pitched and awkwardly. "You—you're telling me that you have no fucking idea what's going on? Maybe it's just run-of-the-mill insanity?"

"No. The sulfur is here, it's real. I'll read through the bestiary and get back to you."

And just like that, Mr. Sourwolf Grumpypants was out into the night.

"Thanks for nothing, asshole," Stiles muttered as he shut the window behind Derek. He hoped there werewolf heard him, too.


"So, I had a brilliant idea." Stiles was all cheerfulness and optimism that morning. Derek hadn't found anything useful in the bestiary, but the teen hadn't just been sitting around waiting for someone else to solve his problems.

"Yeah?" He'd told Scott what was going on, and his best friend had understood why he'd kept it from everyone for so long. Scott might think with his dick too often for his well-being, but he was a good friend, a good person. He realized how terrifying it had been for Stiles to be losing his grip on reality.

"I'm putting cameras up in my room." Alright, so he'd kinda stolen the idea from Jackson, from back when he was a scaly monster instead of the usual werewolf he was now, but who was keeping score? "That way if I lose time again, I'll see what happened. And," he continued, before Scott could interrupt, "I'm uploading the feed to the cloud, so no one can come by and tamper with it. I got it all set up with Danny."

"Just remember to turn them off if you're gonna—"

"Come on, already thought of that. I'm not really into exhibitionism."

"Now if only we can train you to stop running your mouth," Jackson quipped, walking in step with the other two seniors as they made their way to class.

"Haha, you're just comedy gold. You should consider a career in stand-up." This back-and-forth between them was almost routine; Jackson still wouldn't admit that the pack—including Stiles, for all his humanity, and Lydia, too—were his friends, all of them, so he said mean things, but he was just keeping up aloof appearances.

"Guess who's going to Stanford in the fall?" Jackson bragged, shrugging off Stiles's insult like a champ.

"You got in, that's great!" Scott wasn't even being sarcastic. Despite the other werewolf's resistance to pack unity and friendship, Scott no longer rose to his bait for petty fights. "Lydia might go there, too. She's about to have a breakdown trying to decide which school to pick."

Stiles didn't mention that he'd gotten in there, too, and the thought of having to share a campus with Jackson made him want to pick another college to attend. But it wasn't like high school—he could go days without seeing the guy if he wanted. Or weeks. Or the rest of his life.

Glancing at Jackson, he reconsidered. There was no way that man was going to last four years without some sort of crisis, and Stiles would have to swoop in and save the day.

Now if only he could solve his own crisis.


A week passed before Stiles worked up the courage to ask Danny to see the footage. He'd missed time two days that week, and he was almost afraid to see what had happened. What if he was turning into some monster? What if he'd been killing people?

His dad hadn't investigated any weird deaths or disappearances, so that wasn't likely. But he was doing something in the hours he couldn't remember, and it probably wasn't volunteering at the local soup kitchen or helping old ladies across the street.

"Well?" Stiles asked, "Did you see the time spans I mentioned?"

Danny was giving him a weird look, one that clearly said no one was about to get any good news. "Two things are weird about them. The first, well, just watch." Danny swung the monitor around so that Stiles could see.

They watched quietly as the little image of Stiles slept, sheets haphazard, arms flung out at odd angles, mouth open. He'd never seen himself asleep before, of course, but somehow it didn't surprise him.

Just when he was about to impatiently ask what they were waiting for when it happened—the camera flickered out, filling with interference and static.

"What the hell was that? Network trouble?"

"No. The only thing that could cause this is major electromagnetic interference, and you don't live near any power lines. So unless your dad was playing around with electromagnets, I don't have a clue. It gets weirder."

The picture flickered back to normal, and then Stiles sat up. something about the movement made a chill run up his spine; it wasn't just that he didn't remember doing this, the way his body moved was wrong. Stiles might not have been the most elegant or graceful of teens, but he knew himself well enough to recognize that whoever was running the show in his body wasn't him.

"I look possessed," he breathed. "I mean—that doesn't look like me, right?"

"It's not over," Danny whispered back. The image of Stiles got out of bed and walked across the room, stopping to turn and wink at the camera.

"That thing knew about the hidden camera. What the hell is happening to me?"

"I have no fucking idea."

"I'm calling Scott. Do you mind if I invite the pack over here?" Danny had known about the werewolf thing for ages, ever since Jackson had dealt with his little bag of personal problems that involved shape-shifting into a snake-monster.

"Yeah, sure, but tell them to come through the window. It's a school night."

"Thanks." He needed more than just advice or knowledge that the pack could give him. He needed their help. If he was going to randomly lose control of his body there wasn't much he himself could do to stop it.

Finding Scott's name in his contacts was harder than it should have been; Stiles's hands were trembling. Before he could hit the call button, he dropped his phone, and fumbling for it only sent it bouncing across the room.

"Goddammit!" Stiles rubbed his face, then sat down on Danny's bed, cradling his head in his hands. "Fuck. Just. Fuck!"

On the other side of the room, Danny was quietly texting, probably telling Scott and the rest of the pack to get their asses over here to calm down their token human.

"Oh, I'm a fucking mess," Stiles groaned.

"Dude, I think you can cut yourself some slack. You weren't just sleepwalking in that video. Scott and Derek will be here soon."

"You told Derek?" He didn't want the alpha to see him like this—a nervous wreck. Being seen so vulnerable by him made Stiles think of Discovery channel shows of lions chasing down sick gazelles. Derek acted more wolf than human most of the time. He'd probably kick Stiles out of the Werewolf Club of Cool Kids if he found out Stiles was being possessed by something.

He'd faced down monsters and hunters and all kinds of bad shit, but something about it happening to him converted his normally quick-thinking, rational brain into a puddle of uselessness. I have no control over this one, no idea where to even start researching. There's nothing I can do and it's driving me crazy, maybe I should just calm down and let the pack handle this. I mean they aren't idiots, they can deal. Oh god what if they have to put me down like a rabid dog oh shit they're gonna kill me I've been compromised shitfuck maybe I should just get the hell out of here

"If you're about to rabbit, Stiles, you better just sit back down." Danny leaned back in his desk chair, crossing his arms. "I'm not explaining to Derek Hale why I let you leave."

He hadn't even realized he'd stood up. "I just uh. Had to pee?"

"You can hold it."

Stiles slowly sank back onto the bed, but he couldn't keep his restless limbs from fidgeting. Scott wouldn't let Derek kill him, Stiles reasoned. They were best friends, and friends don't let friends get murdered by werewolves.

Unfortunately, Derek arrived first. As he lithely climbed through the window, Danny stood up, saying, "I'm gonna go—somewhere else. Less I know about this the better."

"Gee, thanks, man," Stiles hissed as he was abandoned alone in a room with an angry alpha.

"You saw what happened?" His voice wasn't as harsh as Stiles was expecting, which made him doubly suspicious. How do you keep a frightened animal from spooking? Use a quiet voice.

"Sort of. See for yourself."

The room was eerily silent as Derek watched. When it was over, he turned to the teen, face obnoxiously blank. "I think I have an idea of what's going on here. It's bad news."

"Jesus, don't sugar coat it or anything," Stiles rolled his eyes. "Out with it, though. No mysterious sourwolf tactics."

"It looks like a demon."

"A what? A demon?" He was laughing, and it sounded suspiciously like the sound of something cracking and shattering to pieces inside his skull.

"They exist. It's rare to see a possession like this, though. Normally they take and they don't give the body back. Ever. That's what had me confused before. I should've known, the sulfur. But it's been a long time since I've even thought about demons. I'm sorry."

"You're sorry, as in, about not figuring it out sooner? Or you're sorry you're going to have to kill me?"

"The former, fuck. I'm not going to kill you. Ever. What do you think I am?" The strange thing was, at that moment, Derek seemed sincere, and more emotional than he'd ever been in front of Stiles.

A long, heavy moment crawled by before he answered. "I think you're someone who does what he thinks needs doing. You protect yourself and your pack no matter what."

"Slaughtering high school kids for no reason isn't part of that. I'm a werewolf, not a monster. There's a simple fix for this, the demon problem."

"Really?" Stiles felt freer, lighter than he had in a month, since the first morning he'd woken up without remembering the past 14 hours.

"Yeah, just pour pure salt in front of all your windows and doorways so it can't get into your house. But the demon is going to bring something a hell of a lot worse down on us than just one kid sleep-walking. No offence."

"I am actually very personally offended by that, you're trivializing my pain, do you even know what it's like to not know what the fuck you've been doing half the time?"

"Stiles, shut up. There'll be hunters coming."

"So? The Argents—"

"The Argents are small fries compared to the type demons attract."

"Oh. I'm—"

"Don't apologize. You didn't summon the demon, it just found you."

Stiles shut his mouth, wondering how Derek could have known what he was about to say.

"The pack will be fine if we lay low until the demon is long gone."

Such a simple plan, Stiles thought. And oh, how it went so terribly wrong.


2

"Nothing ever changes," Cas commented sadly as he watched Sam cut the head off a vampire.

"That's not true. Everything changes is closer to the truth." Dean cleaned his blade off; the vampires were dead, and this sleepy little town in Washington could rest without fear.

"You believe that only because you've only lived a few decades. When you watch it all happen, see everything for so long, it's just one big circle." Cas didn't seem sad about any of this, just matter-of-fact. Sometimes he sounded like his old self, even when he refused to lift a finger to hurt anything unless it was actively trying to kill a Winchester.

"I'm glad you're so interested in philosophy." The hunters began to move to where the Impala was waiting for them. Getting out of town was usually a good idea when you just decapitated a half dozen things that the local authorities would assume were people.

They drove for several hours then got a cheap motel for the night. Somewhere along the way, Cas had wondered off, probably to go watch spiders make webs or something very Zen like that. Dean knew he'd eventually find his way back to them; since Purgatory, the angel hadn't disappeared for more than a week.

The next morning the Winchesters woke to find they were still angel-less. Going about business as usual, Sam grabbed a few local papers and began to peruse them. Dean checked online news sources.

Not having to worry about the end of the world or some nefarious Leviathan plot was almost relaxing. For the past year or so, he and his brother, and sometimes a wayward angel, had just driven around the country following leads. Hunting monsters, helping people. Like the good old days.

"Huh," Sam said, in a tone that meant he thought he might be onto something. "Listen to this: Man miraculously cured of brain tumor, doctors baffled."

"Maybe Cas wondered by and decided to heal him?"

"Yeah, and good things happen to good people." Sam flipped through the paper, reading some of the smaller articles. Half an hour later, he closed it. "Look up a town called Beacon Hills, California. Something weird is happening there. Too many people getting just what they want."

Dean did; the top results were for the local newspaper, and a pathetically small Wikipedia page for the town, which gave little more than census information. He kept looking, and at the bottom of the page he saw an article about mysterious deaths that had been attributed to animal killings. The story was a few years old, but he clicked the link anyway.

The article had a link to another, newer one, that stated the killings had been done by a woman, now dead. But the details of the killings didn't jive with a serial killer. One of the victims had been torn in half. Not cut, but torn. Dean couldn't think of a single human murderer who'd done something like that. He wasn't sure a normal person had the strength. Originally the cops had thought it was animals doing it, there were bite marks and claw marks.

So if a normal psycho lady had done it, why go through the trouble? Why not just hide the bodies, get rid of them? Modern forensics was sophisticated enough to tell the difference between a real animal attack and a fake one.

"Well, guess we know where we're headed next."


Derek wasn't sure when exactly Scott had become his second-in-command, but the kid was the obvious choice. He was a capable leader when he wasn't distracted by Alison, and he had the best control of all the pack members, alpha excluded. Scott was the only one who hadn't wanted the bite; he was the only one who hadn't changed at all since becoming a werewolf, aside from obvious physical differences. Erica, Isaac, and Boyd had become more confident, surer of themselves, which wasn't a bad thing, but it meant that underneath their bravado they were still fighting the same personal demons they'd been dealing with their whole lives.

Jackson, well, he was just more of an asshole after becoming a proper werewolf, and that kid was a basket of problems.

Scott wasn't perfect, but he was an excellent beta. He stood up to Derek when he felt the need, he questioned him. The teen was stubborn enough to keep the alpha from walking all over people, but subordinate enough to know when to shut up and do as he was told when it mattered. Most of the time.

Their relationship hadn't exactly been peachy, especially in the early days, but he trusted Scott to have his back, and he hadn't been disappointed.

So Derek was glad that Scott was there with him as they left Danny's house with Stiles.

"I'll send someone over here to get your Jeep. For now, we're not letting you be alone." Derek didn't know what he'd do if a demon decided to take possession of Stiles, but he knew he couldn't just let him wonder off on his own.

"I call shotgun!" Apparently the knowledge that he'd been taken on a joy ride by a demon didn't bother Stiles enough to make him stop being his usual self.

"You should be taking this seriously. You could die. We could all be killed. This isn't a joke."

"Nothing is, to you," Stiles's smile was infuriating. "Look, I'm recovering from a mini-breakdown, okay? I was freaking out before, but now I feel like we have this situation under control. Stop raining on my parade."

"I'm not raining on your parade, I'm trying to keep you safe!" He could feel Scott's eyes on him, practically hear the beta telling him to stop being so irrationally angry with Stiles, that Stiles was just that way all the time, that he wasn't doing it purposefully to make Derek angry.

No one could piss him off quite like Stiles could. The kid never listened to anything, never did what he was told. If Derek told him to run, he'd stand around being a liability (never mind that sometimes he stuck around to save Derek's life). He always had to try to help, even though he was so human and killable and breakable and all the research in the world wouldn't save him from a bullet or a crossbow bolt to the head.

Stiles should have been the most obedient of them all, not the least.

"Alright, alright, I'm getting in the car like a good kid. No more jokes."

Of course that was a lie. They weren't half a mile down the road before Stiles asked, breaking the tense silence, "So why does salt keep demons away? Are they worried about high blood pressure or—?"

Derek just glanced away from the road long enough to give Stiles his best "keep it up and I'll cause you severe bodily harm" glare.

"Hey that was a serious question. If you don't know you can just admit it—"

"They can't cross it because it's pure and they aren't. At least that's the conventional lore. I don't remember much about them." So stop asking, stop talking, was the unspoken completion of that sentence.

"By morning I'll be an expert. Nothing motivates me to research a topic like my own body at stake."

In the back seat, Scott was silent. Derek met his eye in the rearview mirror; his expression was worried and serious. So, only one idiot in the car.

"I wonder what it took me to do. Like, I haven't been waking up in a pool of blood and body parts. So why bother?" Stiles paused only to inhale. "What do demons even do with their time?"

Derek was one more inane comment away from going full-on cliché and saying that he'd turn this car right around if Stiles didn't shut the fuck up and let him think.

Instead he just focused on driving and let the silly thought, I am never taking the pack to Disney Land wonder through his mind. He was afraid to open his mouth because he wasn't sure if hysterical laughter or a wordless scream of rage would come out.

Maybe I should take a fucking vacation on my own. These people are going to give me a heart attack at age thirty.

Not these people, a little voice in his mind chimed up, just Stiles.

He made it to the Stilinski house without bursting any blood vessels, and he wasted no time in climbing up to the window to Stiles's room.

As he climbed in, he could hear Scott and Stiles talking below; they'd come in through the front door, but Derek thought it best to avoid letting the sheriff know he was here so late at night.

"Do you think we need kosher salt, or will iodized salt work?"

"How should I know?" Scott answered, "Just grab them both."

Derek was locking the window when he heard the teens enter. "Use the kosher salt. Don't want to take chances."

"Do I just give the window a light dusting or—or you could just take it from me, sure."

Though he couldn't see it, Derek was fairly sure Stiles was sticking his tongue out at him. Ignoring him with ease that only came from two years of practice, he poured a generously thick line of salt on both windowsills, then moved to make a similar one in front of the door.

"That should be enough. The demon can't get into your room now."

"Wait, but it can get into the house?" Stiles had that look in his eyes, the one that was a harbinger of especially taxing moments of resistance from the teen.

"Your dad might notice if we line all the entrances with salt."

"Yeah, uh, he might also notice being possessed by a demon. I mean, if it really wants me, and I wasn't just convenient, it could just use his body to move the salt, right? And if it doesn't want me specifically, it'll just go after some other poor sap. Someone who doesn't have werewolf buddies who help him out with supernatural shit."

"The alternative is leaving you defenseless." Derek turned to Scott, hoping he would lend his support, or maybe just knock Stiles unconscious so he'd stop arguing.

"Think outside your little alpha box," Stiles insisted, gesturing in a way that only vaguely suggested a cube. "We could set a trap for the demon and kill it. Or whatever you do to demons. That way it won't hurt anyone else."

"Oh wow yeah, what a great idea, we'll just magically trap something we know almost nothing about and then, I don't know, throw a Bible at it and then it'll be dead. Great plan Stiles!" He didn't realize he'd been yelling until Scott put a hand on his arm and told him to be quiet before the sheriff heard.

He took a moment to calm himself down, then continued. "Just keep the salt here until we have a better idea of how to stop it permanently. Stay up all night googling things if you want, but just—be safe so I don't worry."

Stiles's entire body had been tensed, ready for a fight, his features defensive and childishly contrary in a way that only he could pull off, but as Derek spoke the last words, so quietly the teen probably only barely heard them, Stiles's expression flickered through confusion to realization to shock to uncertainty and finally settled on disbelief. His lips were slightly parted in a way that meant he was thinking very quickly about something, and his heart was doing what Derek could only describe as fluttering.

"Since when do you worry about me?" he asked softly.

Lying came so easily that he could do it without even hating himself anymore. "I'm worried that if the demon takes your body and uses it to commit mass murder hunters will be in this town, hunters with names that people only speak of in whispers because they're legends. Things they go up against don't escape."

That much was true, or at least, that was what he'd heard. The stories varied depending on which drunk werewolf you were talking to—sometimes it was a family of hunters, or just two brothers, or a whole group of them, with some kind of trashy bar as headquarters—but all the accounts had one thing in common: they were without mercy and they had a particularly strong dislike for demons.

Just like that, Stiles's warm expression cooled, soft eyes hardening, fists clenching. "I won't upset your happy little world."

"Scott, stay with him." It wasn't a request, and before either of the teens could respond, he left the room, carefully avoiding the salt, moving silently so as to sneak out of the house.


"He didn't mean it," Scott began after an awkward silence that had only been broken by the sound of Derek's car leaving. "He's worried about you. We all are."

The words didn't make Stiles feel any less hollow. For a moment he'd believed in the possibility that Derek didn't hate him, didn't just tolerate his presence for Scott's sake. He'd probably just been trying to manipulate him into obeying orders.

"How many times do you have to save a guy's life before he looks at you like you're actually a person?" Stiles collapsed into his desk chair. "Maybe if I became a werewolf, he'd actually—" Actually what? Notice him? Pay attention to him other than when he was barking orders or threats? Listen to his sagely advice? Actually like him, be his friend? Everything Stiles could have finished the sentence with made him sound like a five-year-old throwing a tantrum.

"It's not that you're human."

"Oh, good, then it's just me he hates. Thanks."

"No, I mean, look, Derek isn't exactly the type to share his feelings." Stiles glanced up to see that Scott was peering at him earnestly. "But I know he doesn't hate you. You just rub him the wrong way sometimes, probably because you take things so lightly and he's so serious. I don't know, I'm not a shrink. You should talk to him."

"Heh, yeah, talk. I'd get five words in and he'd just threaten me and leave."

"At least you won't have to deal with his shit for much longer. Once you're off to college you won't have to worry about him."

"And if I don't figure this demon thing out, I won't even have to stress about college!" Stiles turned his chair around so that he faced his laptop. "You don't have to babysit me, I'll be good."

"I want to stay. To make sure things are alright here." Scott rummaged through his bag until he pulled out his own computer. "And I'll help you research."

Even with Scott's help, by the time the sun began to rise, Stiles didn't feel like he was any closer to pinpointing the truth of demons from pure fantasy. There were simply too many variations on everything.

"If I see another drawing of a naked demon I might actually cut my eyes out. Who knew Renaissance art was so graphic?"

"I did, actually. By now I don't even notice the genitalia. Totally jaded, completely devoid of useful info." Stiles lowered his head until it rested on his desk. "I'm so fucked. Tell me you found out how to kill a demon?"

"Aside from the Second Coming of Christ? Nothing. Everything I read says they're just fallen angels. How the hell do you kill an angel?"

He groaned. "Guess I'll just hide in my room for the rest of my life."

"Oh, man, school starts in two hours. I better get home and change."

"Please murder me on your way out."

Scott patted his friend's shoulder sympathetically before wordlessly leaving. Stiles lifted his head to check to be sure the salt line was still intact.

He realized that it was pointless to hide. He had to go get something to eat, take a shower, and eventually go to class and be a normal fucking high school senior. If the demon took him, it took him. Best not to dwell on it.

Shoving those depressing thoughts away, his overactive mind seized on another unpleasant topic—Derek Hale. The douchebag who gave Stiles a hard time for no reason at all. When things were good, when no one was trying to kill anyone around the town, Derek was almost nice to the pack. Sometimes he'd even smile. But never for Stiles, not even when he was at the top of his game comedy-wise. Whenever he was around Derek he always said and did the wrong things. Having a bit of a thing for the alpha had only made it worse.

Stiles had known for a while that he found attractive people attractive, and that for him at least, gender had nothing to do with it. He'd spent so many years pining after Lydia that it took him until he was sixteen to realize that fact. But when, even after he'd been open and honest with her, she'd continued to keep him at a cool distance, his romantic interest in her faded. Stiles didn't take her rejection personally; she just wasn't into him.

Once his crush on Lydia was just a memory, he began to admit to himself that some guys were pretty fucking hot. Because he was still, well, himself, he'd gotten about as much sexual experience with men as he had with women—none. And since Lydia, he didn't have any real crushes on anyone.

Except he sorta maybe had a little crush on Derek. Derek, with his stupid pretty face and gorgeous eyes and ripped muscles. Derek, who was always prancing around without a shirt like a douche. Derek, who looked through Stiles instead of at him, like Lydia used to.

He probably had some fucked up mental issues, being attracted to people he had no chance of starting a relationship with. Or perhaps he was just afraid because he had no significant first-hand experience with dating, and he set himself up so that he wouldn't have to deal with it. Admiring someone hot from afar was safe, easy. Besides, he had more important things to worry about than relationships—like keeping Scott from getting axed by hunters and deciding which college to attend.

And, more recently, figuring out how to get rid of a demon.

Walking outside, trying not to look over his shoulder, Stiles found that Derek had indeed sent someone to retrieve his Jeep; it was sitting in the driveway, keys in the ignition.

Once in his car, he rested his head against the steering wheel, feeling the strain of having been awake all night with no chemical aid other than an unhealthy number of energy drinks.

"Just gotta get through this," he mumbled, "You can sleep when you're dead."


"What d'ya think, FBI?"

"Why would the FBI be investigating miracles? There's gotta be something better in here," Sam was rummaging through their box of fake IDs.

"Maybe we should just hang around, talk to the locals. See if the diners have good pie." Dean checked his phone: no new calls. Cas was the only person other than Sam who had his number. Because of the runes on their ribs, the angel had to call them to quickly find where they were.

Sam pretended not to notice what he was doing. Dean had grown almost protective of Cas since their time in Purgatory. He knew it was stupid—Cas was an angel—but still he worried when he was gone.

Deep down, he was terrified Cas would never come back, either because he was bored of hanging out with humans or because he'd been offed by something powerful enough to end an angel.

"One of these days we'll have to start eating healthy. We might actually make it to old age.'

Neither of them believed that, of course. One day something would get them, and Cas wouldn't be around to save their lives. Why would he bother, anyway? The angel could visit them in heaven as easily as he could on Earth. Until then, though, they kept hunting, kept fighting the darkness, because leaving the life was about as easy as quitting the mafia. Between Dean and an early death, though, there was pie and the open road and the satisfaction of saving lives.

In this town, things were too good to be true, which meant something bad was about to happen to those affected.

Eventually they settled on spending a day or two just mingling with the natives. No blood was being spilt that they could see, so they had the luxury of a little breathing room. According to the paper, 20 people had been given their heart's desire, and that was only what had been reported.

"Maybe some sort of good luck charm?"

They were sitting in a corner booth at a place that was actually called Mom's Diner, discussing possibilities, books and journals open before them.

"Or a crossroads demon. Some of these people were on death's door, easy to see selling your soul for that."

"How about for winning the lottery? Five people in this place have won in the past two weeks."

"Crossroads demons aren't usually that prolific." Drawing attention to themselves was a great way to get their demonic asses sent back to hell by a hunter. Of all the demons, crossroads ones were probably the least dangerous—they didn't go out and kill people for fun, generally—but the long-term damage to individuals was great. Dean knew the price well, and he didn't want anyone to pay it, not for ten measly years of happiness. Better to die and have the possibility of heaven.

"Easiest way to find out is to ask someone who's been affected. Lottery winners are out, doubt they'll want to talk to strangers."

"But you know who loves to talk about stuff with strangers? People who believe God has intervened in their lives. Didn't you say one family had a kid that suddenly didn't have leukemia?"

"Reporters?" Dean finished the last of his pie, "For some Christian magazine?"

"Sounds good to me." Sam motioned their waitress over, asking for the check with admirable charm.

As they were leaving, Dean felt his phone vibrate. He didn't notice he was smiling as he answered, "Hey Cas. Decided to get your feathered ass back down to earth? We're in a town called Beacon Hills, in California."

By the time they got into the Impala, Cas was there waiting for them, his expression serene. "I made blue roses grow, but no human will ever see them. Unless you'd like me to take you?"

"No thanks, we're on a job here."

Sam and Dean ran down the situation for him quickly, but the whole time he looked bored, unconcerned.

"I fail to see the problem," he said at last. "These people are happier now."

"But if whatever's causing it has backlash—like if it's some crossroads demon on steroids—"

"They've made their own decisions. Free will is all you humans have in the end. Who are we to keep them from exercising it?"

Cas's new outlook on the universe had never been so annoying to Dean. Somehow, this was worse than the time with the bees. "They probably aren't well informed."

"And if it's an angel who's responsible?"

"Is it?" That thought had never occurred to him, but with the disorder in heaven, it was possible that an angel had said "fuck it" to the standing orders and had decided to adopt a random town to save.

Because good things happen to good people. Right.

Cas's smile was heartbreakingly sad. "No. If you give me a moment, I'll find out what's happening."

The Winchesters sat in the Impala for a few moments, Dean tapping his thumbs against the steering wheel, Sam staring out the window at nothing. The silence between them wasn't awkward—it almost never was—so Dean let it persist until the angel came fluttering back.

"It's a crossroads demon," Cas said without preamble. "He's marked over fifty souls within the town limits."

"Fifty?! That's gotta be way above the average." Sam's eyes were wide with disbelief.

"Indeed."

"Well, finding it will be easy." Dean started the car. "Let's get back to the motel, rest up, then get this bitch tonight."


3

When Stiles's phone went to voicemail for the third time in a row, the vague worry in Scott's stomach turned sharply to sick dread, so acute he thought he might actually vomit. His best friend hadn't shown up for first period; no one Scott talked to had seen him around school that morning.

"Oh, God, Stiles, where are you? Pick up the fucking phone," he pleaded, dialing the number again. Voicemail.

What have I done? he thought desperately. I left him alone and now he's missing.

The warning bell rang, but Scott ignored it, heading towards the parking lot instead. Some things were more important than grades, and Stiles was definitely one of them. He sent a text to Alison to know what was going on, but he was reluctant to tell the pack.

No, not the pack, Derek. Because Scott had fucked up and he wasn't exactly keen to get a lecture from the alpha. What mattered now was finding Stiles, not sitting around hating himself for letting it happen.

Besides, there was a good chance the teen was still in his room, asleep, so dead to the world that he didn't hear his cell. Scott had to be sure there was a situation before he called in the pack.

His hopes were dashed when he got to Stiles's house and saw no sign of the Jeep. He'd seen it when he left that morning, so at some point Stiles had left—headed for school—and then something prevented him from making it.

"Shit shit shit shit shit!" Scott pulled his phone out, calling Derek. Just like some things were more important than grades, some things were more important than his own pride.


"You left him alone." Derek wasn't shouting, very carefully he wasn't, and he very carefully kept himself from taking Scott by the shoulders and slamming him into a tree until reality changed to something more suitable.

"Yeah, I did, and I'm sorry—I know it was stupid but we had to get to school, and he said he was fine—"

"And now a demon has his body, and probably won't be giving it back. Not now that it knows we know how to keep it away."

"Dude, I know. Let's stop talking and fucking fix it. We have to find him." Scott's voice was so lost, so tiny and desperate, that it calmed Derek's anger; the beta was right. All the yelling in the world wouldn't solve the problem at hand.

Before either of them had time to begin to formulate a plan, Scott's phone rang. With an expression that was first shocked, then relieved almost to the point of euphoric, he answered. "Stiles! Where are you?!"

"At school, where are you?" Derek could hear the teen's voice easily; though his expression remained as impassive as ever, inwardly he was happy enough to laugh aloud.

"Looking for you. Why'd you miss first period?"

"I overslept, just got here. Must have barely missed me."

Derek was too distracted by relief to stay mad at Scott, and he was even feeling benevolent enough to offer him a ride back to school.

He regretted his kindness when, as soon as they were on the road, Scott began to speak. That wasn't bad in and of itself, but he started talking about feelings. As if that was appropriate small-talk.

"What is it about Stiles that bothers you so much?"

"He doesn't know how to appreciate silence," Derek answered immediately, stressing the last word, hoping Scott would get the hint.

"Come on, I'm serious. It really bothers him, the way you treat him. He's done so much for us, for you and the pack. All he wants is respect."

In lieu of answering, Derek focused more closely than necessary on driving. He didn't know how to respond. His knee-jerk reaction was to defend himself, to claim that he did respect Stiles, that he liked him even, but he knew Scott wouldn't believe him. Derek didn't act like he cared about Stiles. The kid drove him crazy half the time and was an expert at pissing him off, but every time Stiles's life was in danger, or even when he was only in danger of minor injury, Derek was compelled to try to prevent it from happening.

The thought of life without Stiles was just as alien to him as life without his pack. He could remember being alone, the dark stretch of years after his family had been killed when he and his sister had drifted further and further apart, and he'd sunk into darkness and apathy, but sometimes it seemed like a nightmare instead of reality. He still grieved for his family, but the wounds were old.

Stiles wasn't even the only human who hung out with the pack; Alison, Lydia, and Danny knew of its existence and spent time with them, helped them out when the pack needed them. But Stiles was different.

Stiles was the type of person to risk his life to save a man who hadn't been much other than antagonistic and distant, he was the type to hold onto a paralyzed werewolf for two hours in eight feet of water, keeping them both alive when it would have been so easy to save himself. He could turn unbelievable pain into a joke, brush it off, keep moving, keep living. The alpha didn't hate Stiles, he admired him.

When Derek was with him, it reminded him of everything he wasn't and wanted to be. He got angry with Stiles because he was a perfect foil for him, revealing all that Derek hated about himself.

He could have told all this to Scott, but before he was able to form even a shade of his feelings into words, they were at the school, and Scott was getting out of the car.

It was just as well, Derek reasoned. He would have sounded stupid.


As Dean put a picture of himself into a little box, his mind once again returned to the various articles he'd read about this town, ones that didn't concern the crossroads demon. "You couldn't pay me enough to live here," he commented. They were sitting around in their motel room, preparing for that night.

"Why?" Sam didn't mean the obvious why—that they travelled all the time anyway and settling down was too strange to get used to now.

"Weird shit's been happening here for years. Those serial killings supposedly disguised as animal attacks. Doesn't add up."

"Those were probably due to the werewolves living here," Cas commented, holding out the chain of flowers he'd been weaving to admire his work.

"Uh, werewolves?" Sam closed the box in his hands.

"Yes—well, that's what they call themselves. They aren't like the kind you two are fond of killing."

"And they've been murdering people?"

"I don't know." He shrugged, placing the flowers on Dean's head, who rolled his eyes but allowed the eccentricity, being used to it by now. "It's only supposition."

"But they're here? How many? How dangerous—"

"Six that I noticed, and as to the danger," he paused, "Hard to tell. They bear a different curse from the creatures your father taught you to hunt."

"Okay," Sam said slowly. "We'll take care of the demon and then look into it?"

Dean nodded his agreement. "What the hell is up with this town?"


Derek should have gone home after dropping Scott off, but he couldn't bear the thought of sitting there alone, waiting for the other shoe to fall. So he drove to a little park that was only a few miles from the school and sat on a bench; at least this way he was closer to them, his pack and Stiles.

No one else was around because it was a cold day. Derek was glad—he imagined he looked rather creepy sitting here alone, staring off into the distance without moving for hours. A paperback was in his coat pocket, but his restless mind couldn't focus on it, so he kept waiting.

The school day would end soon, and then—then what? He needed answers, needed to know how to get rid of the demon permanently. Scott had told him early that morning that they'd been unsuccessful in finding a solution. The only people who were sure to know were demon hunters, and it would be extremely dangerous to go looking for that type. Not to mention he had as little idea of how to find them as he did about getting rid of the demon on his own.

The sound of a bird taking flight drew his attention. He turned to look for it almost involuntarily—it sounded pretty big. But the only thing he saw was a man standing a few dozen yards away. Derek almost ignored him—who was he to judge some other guy who was handing out at the park alone on a weekday afternoon?—but the man's clothes were wrong.

Surreptitiously, he glanced at the man again; he was wearing some sort of uniform that made Derek think of a mental hospital, even down to the slippers. But he also had a trench coat on. Suddenly Derek found himself meeting the man's eye. Instead of looking away like most people would have, the stranger smiled and began to approach him.

"Isn't God's creation beautiful?"

Oh, great, a religious nutjob, the werewolf thought, Better get rid of him. "I don't believe in God."

"Your beliefs are irrelevant." The man sat on the opposite end of the bench. "Though I understand why you wouldn't believe."

"Did you escape from a mental hospital or something?" Derek was being rude, he knew, but if it made the whacko leave him the hell alone then it was worth the breach in etiquette.

"Not exactly, I was never technically admitted. That was years ago. They've no doubt stopped searching for me."

"Who are you?" Derek asked, uncharacteristically baffled by the man sitting near him.

"Castiel, an angel of the Lord. Though I'm not supposed to tell people that. Dean says it makes me sound crazy."

"Dean's right." Derek stood up. "Have a nice life, Castiel."

"You too, Derek Hale."

It wasn't until he was in his car and driving away that the alpha realized he'd never given the man his name.

School was over by the time he got there; Derek saw Scott and Stiles walking towards the latter's Jeep. No crisis here. Good. He texted his beta and told him he'd meet them at Stiles's place as soon as possible.

Don't leave him alone! he added at the end, pressing harder than necessary on the keys as if enforcing his will on the message would make Scott obey.

When he got to the house he parked a little ways down the street; Mr. Stilinski didn't hate him, exactly, but he certainly didn't trust him. Derek couldn't really blame the man, he'd been involved in so many dark things since his return to Beacon Hills, and though his name was clear, that sort of thing left an impression.

Derek was approaching the Stilinski house when the Jeep pulled up. Nodding a greeting to Scott, he waited impatiently for them to get out of the car and into the salt-lined room. He was all too aware of the fact that he probably couldn't fight a demon, but that didn't stop him from being on the alert. If it came to it, he could do something.

"No demons, Derek. You can stop glaring at me like that." Scott slung his bag onto his shoulders. "School was normal. Boring."

"Seconded." Stiles closed the Jeep door, smiling at the other two. "Any news about my little demon problem?"

"No. Scott tells me you two had no luck. We'll just keep digging." The now almost-familiar scent of sulfur drifted to him; he fought the urge to wrinkle his nose.

"Eventually the gods of google will deliver." Stiles began to walk towards his front door. Scott moved to follow, but Derek threw his arm out, preventing the beta from moving.

He could feel his blood run cold, numb—he'd always thought that was a stupid cliché, but it rang with truth now. "That's not Stiles," he growled. If asked how he knew, exactly, that the teen was gone and something else was occupying his body, he wouldn't have known how to respond. Something about the way the not-Stiles moved—it was too fluid, too comfortable in the body. Pretty ironic that the kid was more awkward than a demon in his own flesh. But it was also that the demon had stood perfectly still as he talked.

The Stiles Derek knew couldn't say half a sentence without gesturing or fidgeting or fiddling with something. He was a bundle of restless energy, but the thing moving away from them was calm and collected.

The demon stopped, turned around, grinning. "Oh, I see you noticed. Sorry, I'm kinda knew to this. I was hoping to keep masquerading as your little friend but—" his eyes turned red—all of them, not just the irises, "—gotta run. Business to attend to, and I can't have you two ruining things with your little werewolf drama. Ciao."

He was gone before Derek or Scott could move; he was gone, and the bottom dropped out of the world.


"I'm the worst friend ever," Scott muttered, burying his head in his hands. "How could I have not noticed?"

"Did you have a class with him? See him before you two left school?" Derek already knew the answer, but he wanted Scott to say it aloud.

"No, but—"

"But what? You expected Stiles to be Stiles. You were with him all of fifteen minutes, and most of that time you were probably texting Alison—"

"That's just it—I knew there was a demon out there, I should have—"

"No. This wasn't your fault. There was nothing we could have done." He hoped he didn't sound like he was trying to convince himself.

The entire pack was assembled, all serious-faced and silent, awaiting orders.

"We'll split up, search the whole town. Search for his scent and the smell of sulfur." Miracle of miracles, no one talked back to him, not even Jackson. They all agreed and got the hell on their way.

"What do we tell his dad?" Scott was still with him.

"That he's staying the night with you, for now."

"And if we don't get him back by tomorrow?" At least it was a Friday. "Derek—what if we never—"

"We'll find him." He could feel his eyes flash red, his fingers itch to become claws, but he didn't allow it. "Now get going."

Scott did, but Derek found himself immobilized by fear for a long moment. His pack may have been a collection of teenagers who had enough problems to fuel a soap opera for a decade, but they were capable. They would find Stiles. They would figure out how to exorcise the demon.

He got in his car and drove off, heedless of speed limits, heading towards the forest.


Digging holes in the middle of the night was nothing new for the Winchesters, and by now the act of burying things in the middle of a crossroads was almost normal, too.

"Sometimes I wonder about us, Sammy," Dean commented as he covered the little box up with gravel. "I wonder how many times you can sell your soul without them noticing?"

"I think your soul is technically off the hook now?"

"I've been to hell, heaven, and purgatory. I'm a regular Dante. I should write guidebooks."

Cas wasn't with them. The Winchesters wisely thought that the presence of an angel might deter a demon from showings its face. So it was just the two brothers in the cold night, waiting for the demon to arrive. Because they were rather well known to most demons, especially when they drove the Impala, Dean had decided to leave the car at the motel and walk the few miles to the crossroads. They'd even buried two boxes just to be sure it didn't get suspicious about two of them being there. A few devil's traps were waiting around the area, lacking only a flame to make them visible.

A sawed-off shotgun and various other weapons were stowed in Dean's coat. He took a moment to appreciate the time of year; in the summer this wouldn't have worked as easily.

"What can I do for you two fine gentlemen this evening?"

In unison the brothers turned; Dean was surprised to hear a man's voice, and even more surprised to see a kid standing there. Crossroads demons usually took the form of a smoking hot woman, probably because men were more likely to sell their souls or something. But this one was in the body of a teenager, one that looked deceptively innocent, with large golden-brown eyes and a friendly smile.

Both Dean and Sam were standing in the middle of traps. "We're looking to jump up a few social classes. Tired of being dirt poor." The Winchesters certainly looked the part with their worn, practical clothing. Neither of them had any need for designer labels or ostentation.

"You know the price?"

Sam nodded. "Our souls."

"In ten years you have to pay the piper. Until then, it's all yacht parties and sex with celebrities." The demon was moving slowly towards him; Dean took a step back for every one the other took forward, doing a reasonable impression of someone who was afraid.

Once he was out of the circle, he dropped a newly-lit match, grinning. "You know what, I think me and Sammy here'll just live out our natural lives. We can always knock over a bank if it comes to it."

The demon tried to step forward again but couldn't. His expression changed instantly from vague amusement to livid rage, eyes turning red, all humanity gone from his voice. "What's the meaning of this?!"

"You must be new," Sam commented, joining Dean in standing near the devil's trap. "We're the Winchesters. Maybe you've heard of us?"

His already pale skin got paler. "Everyone's heard of you. I don't see why you're here bothering me. I'm an honest business man."

"Been a little overzealous with the soul-stealing though. You got our attention, pal." Dean pulled the rune-covered knife out of his jacket, toying with it idly. "That's a mistake. I know what those people are in for in ten years."

"Can't undo it now." The demon was attempting to seem casual, but there was a wildness in its eyes that was the look of a trapped animal.

"Your boss can. Maybe we'll call him up, tell him you've been a bit naughty." They had a fairly civil relationship with Crowley, a sort of truce.

"This is bigger than you, you meddling Winchesters. So why don't we just go our separate ways?"

Dean and Sam looked at each other briefly before bursting into laughter. "Pal," Dean eventually got out, "I don't know what you've been told, but nothing is bigger than us. This is our world, man. We protect it."

"But since you've started to go all Bond-villain on us, we're gonna need you to tell us the whole master-plan." Sam crossed his arms.

"I'd hate to have to use this," he waved the knife around, "Or this." He drew a flask of holy water from his pocket. "So we can do the old song-and-dance, or we can skip to the end where you tell us what's going on here and we call up Crowley and have a nice chat with him."

"Crowley?" the demon actually began to laugh. "You think he holds these contracts?"

Dean's eyes flickered to meet Sam's; his brother's eyes betrayed a hint of confusion, but they both kept their poker faces on. They had a reputation to maintain, after all. "Then who does?"

"Hello, boys. Been a while." Dean recognized the drawling female voice; he turned and saw Meg. "Where's your angelic boyfriend?"

"Around," Dean replied, not even annoyed at her insinuation. "What brings you to the middle of fucking nowhere?"

"You got my little underling trapped there. How 'bout you let him go, for old time's sake?"

"You mean the time you tried to kill us and our dad?" Sam's voice was hard. "Or some other old time?"

"Ouch, someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. I mean the old times when I helped you boys out. When I watched over your broken pet angel."

"Can't just walk away from this one, Meg."

"Look, sometimes members of my flock go astray. I'll set him to rights, scout's honor."

"How about you undo those contracts and we call it even?"

"Oh, I love it when you make irrational demands. But I'll pass."

"You really wanna do this?" Sam asked, raising his shotgun.

"I promise I'll call my boy off, we can all just walk away. I thought we were being civilized now."

"Uhm—" the crossroads demon began, but Meg cut him off.

"Shh, honey, the adults are talking."

"Just give the souls back, I'll take down my ad on Craigslist, anything, but we need to leave—"

"Wait, Craigslist? Seriously?" Sam was staring at the demon incredulously.

"You know, not that surprising," Dean commented with a shrug.

"Meg, get me out of here!"

Before Dean could wonder why the demon sounded so shrill and desperate, something crashed through the trees on the edge of the road, and it roared at them.

Holy shit, he thought, hands already moving to put away his knife and get out his gun, the one loaded with real bullets, not just rock salt, that's a motherfucking werewolf! It wasn't the type he was used to killing, just like Cas had said. This thing was straight out of an 80's B-movie.

"You idiot!" Meg shouted before kicking at the outer edge of the devil's trap, breaking its power. Half a second later, both demons were gone, leaving the Winchesters to face the creature alone.

He felt Sam's shoulder brush his; the younger Winchester was also had his gun trained at the monster. But whatever it was—werewolf was as good a name as any, for now—it stopped charging them the moment the demons vanished.

"Cas," Dean whispered, "a little help here?" The hunter had no idea how long it would take the monster to decide it was going to risk a few bullet holes for a meal.

For once Dean didn't mind how close Castiel stood to him, he was only appreciative of the angel's firm hand on his shoulder and on his brother's, and then they were back in their motel room.

He could have sworn he heard the mournful cry of a wolf in the distance, but he wrote it off as nerves.

"Well, that's a new one for the journal," Sam exhaled, sitting on his bed. "Thanks."

"Of course." The angel smiled.

"We gotta figure out how to kill that thing before we add it. Any ideas, Cas?"

"No." He had that look about him, the one that usually preceded a disappearing act. He seemed restless, nervous, flighty.

Times like this made Dean remember who Cas had been before, remember the angel who never backed down from a fight. There was an ache in his chest that had nothing to do with adrenaline.

"Okay." Dean began to empty his coat of the weapons. "What d'ya think, Sammy, was it there by coincidence?"

"The, er, werewolf? Why wouldn't it be?"

"Seemed to be gunning for the demons. Maybe it doesn't like another predator on its turf."

"Or it's pissed that the thing is taking souls. Maybe someone it knows made a deal?"

"Only one way to be sure. We gotta find it when it's human."

When Dean looked around from putting his guns away, he wasn't surprised to see that his brother was the only other one in the motel room.


By the time his pack joined him Derek was human again, and dressed, standing above the strange circle that was filled with what looked like vaguely satanic symbols.

"Stiles was here," he began, "But so was another demon, and two other men. They were hunters, the kind we don't want to tangle with." He decided telling them about the man who'd called himself and angel would just confuse things; Derek wasn't ready to admit what he'd seen was an angel, though it got the hunters out of here by obviously magical means. "The came on foot. We can track them, find out what we need to know about demons."

Erica was taking pictures of the circle with her phone. "This might have something to do with it."

"I think it trapped Stiles. The demon. He didn't leave until the other one broke it." He gestured to where to circle was smudged out.

"Useful to know." She put her phone away.

"What now?" Scott asked.

"We can't let the hunters know what we are, but we need information. Erica, find them." He didn't have to elaborate as to what she needed to do to earn their trust, or at least get them to let their guard down. She sniffed the air, then took off at a run down the road, towards town.

"And us?"

Derek looked at his pack; it was well after midnight and they were clearly exhausted. "Go home, get some sleep. I'll call if I need any of you."

"Should we just leave her alone?" Boyd cast a nervous glance in the direction she'd gone.

"I'll follow her and make sure she's safe. In the morning we'll keep looking for Stiles, but we're no good to him dead on our feet." Derek was looking at Scott when he said this. He knew the beta would be most likely to completely disregard his orders and search until he passed out from exhaustion. "I'll be in touch. Now go home."

They did, though Scott had hints of mutiny around his eyes and mouth. Derek couldn't force the teen to do anything, though, so he focused on following Erica.

It only took him a few minutes to catch up with her; she was standing in a motel parking lot.

"The scents are more confusing here," she admitted. "I can't pinpoint the room."

"Then we'll examine the cars. They had to drive here." Derek's instincts were to rush, to find the hunters, get the info, then find Stiles and save him as soon as possible, but he knew he needed to teach his pack when he could. He hadn't always been a patient teacher, and even now he found it difficult, but Scott inspired him to be kinder. "Their car will be in front of their room."

They split up and began to move quietly through the dark parking lot. Erica stopped in front of an old Impala, then waved him over. "This is it, definitely."

Somehow the car didn't surprise Derek; he could see the two men fitting in with it easily. Their scent was all over it, mingled with gunpowder and blood and salt—definitely demon hunters.

"How we gonna play this?" she whispered, too low for an human to hear. "Damsel in distress?"

Derek sighed. "I'm going to have to get naked, aren't I?"

"Hey, I'm eighteen." She shot him a flirtatious grin, but it was all bravado; they both knew neither parties were interested. "You wolf-out, pretend to chase me, I'll bang on their door shouting for help. What could go wrong?"

"Just don't get shot, okay?" He wanted her to know that he genuinely cared—not just as an alpha, but as a friend.

"Heh, you don't get shot."


Dean was taking his shirt off when he heard the screams. Unfortunately that meant he got tangled up in it in his haste to remove it, which changed to an attempt to put it back on. By the time he'd righted himself (shirtless, as the dice fell) his brother was already assessing the situation through the peep-hole.

He barely had the wherewithal to grab his gun before joining Sam. "What's happening out there?"

"A woman—she's being chased by that thing from the woods," he was opening the door as he spoke.

Following his brother out into the cold night, Dean regretted leaving his shirt behind.

"Seriously?" Sam asked snarkily, glancing at the other hunter's bare torso.

"Shut up, this is an emergency." They ducked behind the Impala, each brother scanning his side of the area. The woman was quickly approaching them on Dean's side.

"Oh my God!" she shrieked, coming close enough to reveal a shirt tattered and covered in blood, face smeared with mascara and tears. "Help! It's trying to kill me!" She barreled into him, skin hot and sticky with sweat, body trembling with fear.

Dean didn't blame her. Holding the woman with one arm and aiming his gun with the other, he fired a few shots at the creature. One clipped it, and one from Sammy's gun hit it square in the shoulder. With an enraged cry, it darted off; silence filled the night.

"We need to get out of here," Sam said. "Cops are gonna be here soon."

They gathered their things and threw them in the Impala, leaving the room key on the bed. The woman was a problem; she was in shock, staring at where the werewolf had been, her frame shaking. He could hear her whispering, "What was that? What was that?!" over and over.

"What's your name, sweetheart?" he asked, steering her towards the Impala; they couldn't leave her here.

"E-Erica." She finally looked at him. "Th-thanks."

Sam helped her into the car as Dean turned the ignition. The sooner they were on the other side of town, the better.

"What was that thing?" she asked a few minutes later.

"We're—uh—not sure," Sam hedged. "With any luck, we killed it."

"I'm guessing you guys don't have permits for those guns? Who are you? God, I got in a car with strange men, what the hell is wrong with me?"

"Erica, it's ok. We won't hurt you. We can drop you off wherever—"

"With that thing still out there? No way." She rubbed her arms, folding her body in on itself a little. "Don't want to go home anyway."

"Okay." Dean decided not to comment on that, really. She barely looked old enough to be out of high school, and considering she'd been out in the middle of the night… Maybe her parents weren't stand-up people. "We're going to get another motel room. You can crash there if you want. Or we can take you to a friend's place."

"No. I don't—I don't want them to see me like this." She was biting her bottom lip, looking down at her torn clothing and still-shaking arms. "I'm a mess. You know what they'd think—can I—I know you don't know me but—"

"Hey," Sam reached back to her, taking her hand. "It's fine."

"No," she let out a strangled laugh. "It's not fine. I was chased by some kinda monster. But thanks for the lie. Thanks for saving me."

The rest of the ride to the new motel was quiet, but it was almost a comfortable silence.


4

On his perch atop the mountain, he could see the sun rising long before the Winchesters would be able to. Cas smiled. So much beauty, it almost tore his heart to pieces.

And it was nothing compared to the beauty found in humanity. The angel thought of one member of the human race in particular.

"Still running away every chance you get, I see." Meg sat down beside him. "Makes me wonder why you follow them around like a lost puppy."

Her words were thorns on a rose, and he told her as much. She rolled her eyes.

"I mean it, Cas. You don't have to come to their every beck and call if you don't want to. Aren't you all about freewill now?"

"They're my friends, " he explained patiently, letting a grin spread across his face. "Why shouldn't I help them?"

"Because they don't ever help you. When you were comatose they just left you—"

"But they made sure you were there to look out for me."

"They left you with a demon they barely trusted." Her voice was not accusatory, only sad, tinged with pity. "They use you when it's convenient. I've seen how he treats you."

Neither had to say his name to know who they were talking about. "He's human and flawed. I don't have to defend my actions to you."

"I know you don't. I'm not asking you to." Meeting his eyes, she gently took his hand. "I just want you to be happy."

They sat and spoke for a while, until long after the sun had risen even for the Winchesters, but Cas never stopped listening and waiting for a prayer, a call.


"So these Winchester guys, you really think Erica is safe with them?" Isaac speared a piece of pancake but didn't eat it.

The pack was at IHOP; the place was full of the morning crowd, giving them more lee-way with talking about awkward werewolf things. The background noise was enough to cover their words.

Derek had only ordered coffee. "They won't hurt her unless they find out what she is. These people have major savior complexes, all they do is help people." He'd been shocked to learn that the demon hunters had been the legendary Winchesters, but Erica's text had been very specific on that account. At least they were sure to know how to get Stiles back safely.

"That's just what you've heard. The truth could be different." Scott hadn't even bothered to order a cup of coffee. He just sat there, almost as fidgety as Stiles would have been, worrying about his best friend and his pack-mate. "Why don't we all go over there, ambush them, make them tell us what they know?"

Derek hoped his scathing glare was enough to convey to Scott how monumentally foolish that would be, but erring on the side of caution, he elaborated, "If you want to be hunted to the ends of the earth by two of the most dangerous men on the planet, be my guest. I'll have no part in it." He was being sarcastic about allowing Scott to do that, of course. He would tie the beta down if need be, not only for the pack's sake, but for Scott's, too.

If Erica failed, if it came to losing Stiles to a demon forever or showing himself to men who would certainly kill him, he would keep the rest of the pack out of it. Scott would assume alpha-hood, things would move on. Derek didn't have a death-wish, though, so he would exhaust all other possibilities first.

Across the restaurant, Lydia and Alison were walking through the doors. The former looked haughty as always, though this morning she seemed extra proud of herself.

They joined the pack at the table. "Good morning, my humanly-challenged friends," Jackson rolled his eyes as Lydia spoke, "I went to the place you told me about. For being werewolves, you sure are blind." She put two little boxes on the table.

"What's that?" Boyd asked, reaching forward to touch one.

"Ah, ah, ah, first, I found out what that symbol was. It's called a devil's trap."

"It catches demons," Alison elaborated, "If you get one into the circle, they can't leave until it's broken."

"Then what're the boxes for?"

Derek was tired of waiting for Lydia to get to the point; Stiles's life wasn't a toy to be played with. Opening the box, he saw an odd assortment of things, but most interesting was the picture of one of the brothers.

"You use it to summon a demon to sell your soul."

"Doesn't, like, the devil do that sort of thing?" Isaac asked, finally continuing to eat his pancakes.

Lydia rolled her eyes. "How should I know? That's just what the internet said about it. So we know what the demon who possessed Stiles is doing. The brothers must have tricked it into showing up, but then over-eager here chased them off," she gave Derek an exasperated look.

He became irrationally angry at her accusation, but part of the anger was at himself. "I didn't know. I saw Stiles, I saw men with guns. What would you have done?"

"Probably flirted with them until I got what I want," she rejoined airily. "Too late to change the past now. Let's just hope they fall for Erica's act."

"Yeah, let's just sit and eat fucking pancakes while Stiles—" Scott clenched his fists, turning away from the others, unable to finish the thought. Alison carefully touched his arm and he relaxed.

"Erica learned from the best." Jackson shot Derek an unkind look. "She'll find the info. Your obnoxious BFF will be back here bothering us in no time."

Picking up his coffee, Derek hoped Jackson's cavalier words would prove true. He stared out the window for a long moment, ignoring the cup in his hands, wondering where the missing human member of his pack was.


"You have matching tattoos. What do they mean?"

Erica was sitting in the uncomfortable desk chair provided by the motel, watching Sam pull his shirt off before heading to the shower. She hadn't slept at all that night, both because of her worry for Stiles and the lingering fear that she'd wake up with a knife in her throat. When she was sure the brothers were sound asleep, she'd searched their bags and found an alarming assortment of weaponry and a leather-bound journal that was full of entries about various mythical creatures and monsters.

When she couldn't find the info she wanted after a few minutes, she decided the risk was too high and went back to pretending to sleep. This morning she would have to figure something out. She'd decided to go with the little-sister approach; trying to get into their pants was an all-or-nothing thing, and they were kinda old so she wasn't sure they'd even be interested. They didn't seem the type to sleep with a barely-legal high school girl right after meeting her.

"Oh, yeah, uh," Sam was clearly trying to think of a plausible lie.

"Does it have something to do with the monster?" She very carefully didn't say the word demon. They had to broach that topic first. The symbol wasn't like the one they'd scorched into the road, but it had to be similar.

"No." At first Erica thought his brevity was an annoyed dismissal, but after a moment he elaborated. "It'll sound crazy, but then you've already seen crazy. It's an anti-possession sigil."

"Possession? Like, by demons and ghosts and stuff? There's more than just monsters—?"

"You don't wanna know. Trust me."

Erica did know a great deal about what went bump in the night; she'd read the entire Argent bestiary. But the fear in her eyes was not entirely feigned. If Stiles could be taken so easily, who else could be lost?

"H-how likely is a person to be possessed?" she ventured. Time was running out, she needed to push a little.

"For you? Next to zero. But in our line of work—well, it's been a problem." He smiled ruefully.

"What happens if you get possessed? Is it like The Exorcist? Do you stay possessed forever?"

Before Sam could answer, the door opened and Dean walked in; he was carrying three cups of coffee and a bag of donuts. Pausing just inside the room, he eyed Sam's lack of shirt then glanced at Erica.

"Sam was just telling me about your tattoos. So are you guys like Buffy or something?" Playing dumb was an art-form. You had to walk a razor's edge between too stupid to be trusted and too smart for your own good. She was a pro.

Dean laughed. "Not exactly. We should get you home after breakfast. That thing won't live to see another dawn, you don't have to worry."

"But what if there's more? Is there an anti-monster charm you can give me?"

"If there are more, we'll take care of them, too." His voice was hard in a way that clearly ended the discussion.

Erica smiled at them as if comforted, but her heart thudded away in her chest, and she feared for Derek and the rest of the pack for the first time since learning there might be new hunters in the neighborhood.


They're dropping me off at home. No luck finding a remedy. I'm so sorry :(

Derek read the text message with waning hope.

"What's wrong?" Scott was sometimes too observant when it came to the subtle changes in the alpha's facial expressions.

"They're cutting her loose. She failed." He wasn't angry with her; he knew she would have done everything short of tying them up and torturing them to get the information.

"What now?"

He and Scott were alone in his car, headed to the woods to try to track Stiles. "We keep looking."


Scott's plans didn't always work out perfectly, but he'd learned to listen to his instincts. And now they were telling him that trusting the Winchesters was the only way to save his best friend.

They'd tried summoning the demon to the crossroads but nothing happened. Either the demon had access to Stiles's memories and knew their faces or it was lying low entirely. Scott tried not to think of the possibility that it could have left town altogether.

Throughout the day Derek had grown more and more irritable, snapping at everyone for the slightest annoyances. Scott knew that he was going to do something stupid, and no one was going to stop him if the beta didn't himself.

That was why Scott was standing there in the parking lot of the motel, watching the Winchester's room. Their car was there, which meant they likely were as well. He crept forward carefully, until he was close enough to try to listen in on their conversation.

"Dean, stop worrying about him."

"What? Worrying about who?"

"Come on, you've been staring at the TV and frowning for the last hour. You're not even paying attention to what's on. Cas is fine, you know he wonders around. But he'll be back when we need him. Always is."

"I'm just watching TV—"

"You're watching a Lifetime movie." Scott heard the sound of an old television being turned off.

"Okay, fine, let's go kill some werewolves and find out what Meg is up to and maybe Cas will show up and maybe he won't. I don't care."

Scott didn't know these guys beyond what Erica had told everyone, but Dean seemed really hung up about whoever the hell Cas was; maybe a boyfriend or something. He was relieved to know that even hunters of their caliber had relationship problems.

Taking a deep breath, Scott walked up to their motel door, knocking politely. The brothers' conversation stopped; he heard them cock guns and move slowly towards the door. Around that time Scott began to question the wisdom of his plan.

"Who the hell are you?" Dean had answered the door. Scott couldn't see a gun, but he also couldn't see both the man's hands.

"I'm Scott McCall. Erica's friend. I need your help."

"Is she okay?" Sam came to the door, looking more concerned than his older brother.

"Yeah, she's fine, but our friend—his name's Stiles—we think he's been possessed by a demon. You have to help."

"What makes you think he's been possessed by a demon?" Dean leaned against the doorframe.

"There was sulfur around his room and he disappeared from in front of me. He's been taken and we have to get him back."

"What does he look like?" Sam asked.

Scott got out his phone and found a picture, then showed them.

"That's the demon at the crossroads."

Sam nudged his brother out of the doorway, then motioned for Scott to enter. "Come in. We're trying to find your friend, too. The demon that possessed him has been running amok."

The Winchesters were imposing, dangerous-looking, and Scott could smell the gunpowder and old dried blood on their possessions. He wasn't eager to get trapped in a motel room with them, but as long as he didn't tell them what he was no problems would arise. Giving the brothers what he hoped was a grateful smile, he walked into the room, letting the door close behind him.

"Can you find him tonight? His dad's beginning to worry." Mr. Stilinski was more than worried—he was suspicious. He'd called Scott earlier that afternoon to ask him where Stiles was and why he wasn't answering his phone. Scott had told the only plausible lie he could think of: he'd said Stiles was out on a date with Erica.

He made a mental note to tell her to lie if the sheriff asked. Stiles would forgive him for the deception. Scott knew Stiles had no interest in dating Erica; he was fairly certain who the teen was mooning after. When they rescued him from the demon, he'd have to ask Stiles why he was keeping his crush on Derek a secret from Scott—it wasn't like he'd judge him. The beta thought it mostly that Stiles wasn't hung up on the fact that Derek was a guy, more that Derek was, well, Derek. Liking Lydia had been humiliating enough over the years for Stiles. He was probably afraid of more rejection and wanted to weather it on his own.

"We'll try," Sam answered. "He's working with another demon that we know. We're going to try summoning her."

Scott felt his phone vibrate; he glanced at the caller: Derek. Ignoring it, he turned his full attention back to the hunters. "Can you summon Stiles? And then, like, exorcise him or whatever?" He felt his phone ring again, and with it came a wave of acute anger from his alpha. "Sorry—hold on, I have to take this."

Giving an apologetic smile to the brothers, he moved to the other side of the room and snapped, "Yeah, what is it? Kinda busy here."

"We captured Stiles. I need you here now to help figure this out—"

"I'm with the Winchesters, you know, those guys who saved Erica," Scott knew the hunters were listening in, so he continued to pretend he was a normal human. "I'll bring them to where the demon is. They'll know how to fix him." He glanced at the brothers for confirmation; they were already putting on their coats. "How did you manage to catch it?"

He heard the phone change hands, then Lydia was speaking, proud as a peacock. "I realized that we needed someone Stiles didn't know to summon the demon, so I paid some boy at school to do it. The demon's kind of stupid, fell for the same trap that was activated with a match."

Scott was smiling in admiration. "Thanks, wow, we'll be there as soon as we can. Where are you?"


Derek was having a bit of a bad day. He hadn't slept in thirty-six hours, had hardly eaten anything in that time, and had spent a good deal of it in alpha form. He'd berated himself when it took Lydia and Alison to come up with a viable plan, but he was beyond frazzled at the loss of Stiles. Derek tried not to wonder what that meant exactly, letting the reason that Stiles was a valuable asset be enough to explain away his near-panic.

But now the demon was standing in front of him, trapped, and soon Stiles would be free. It should be easy now, simply a matter of waiting.

The demon was speaking, though, and as one would imagine, it wasn't spreading words of joy and comfort.

"So you're Derek." The thing's voice was sly, simpering almost. Using Stiles's voice, his lips and tongue to form those words, was more enraging than Derek could have imagined. "I feel like I know you myself. I have access to all this meat-suit's memories, you understand." It put Stiles's hands in his pockets, posture casual, relaxed though it was trapped. "And oh, some of those memories. They'd make you blush."

The rest of the pack was there besides Scott, even Alison and Lydia had decided to stay to see it through. Everyone wanted Stiles back. Derek wished there were a way to shut the demon up, but he couldn't hurt it, only the body it was occupying. Doing the only thing he could, he stared the demon down, giving it his best angry glare.

"Some things would make everyone here blush. Oh! While we're waiting for your little friend to bring the Winchesters here, why don't we have story-time?"

Everyone else was following Derek's example, standing still, watching the demon, waiting.

Taking silence as permission, it began to speak again. "I assume you know, because you're a super-special werewolf or whatever, but man, this kid has it bad for you. I can kinda see it, going after the leather-jacket-wearing dangerous type, but really, it's almost masochistic. You hate him, but he wants to fuck you. He's a therapist's wet-dream. Getting over Lydia just to fall for you."

Derek's face didn't so much as twitch, and he kept his eyes cold, hard, distant, but he knew the pack could tell he was upset—his heart was racing. My kingdom for some duct-tape, he thought wildly, trying not to think of the implications of what he was hearing—that Stiles had a crush on him.

"Speaking of wet-dreams—"

"Shut up!" Alison screamed, fists clenching around her useless crossbow. "Sh-shut up or I'll shoot you!"

"Be my guest. Nothing can hurt me, sweetheart, but a whole lot can hurt your friend. Now where was I—oh yeah, this loser's crush on the alpha werewolf. He thinks he loves you, but he's just a kid. He's not even legal yet." It began to laugh cruelly, sounding so unlike Stiles that Derek couldn't stop goosebumps from rising on his arms. "Wow, so this isn't how he wanted you to find out—you should hear him screaming inside his head. Begging me not to tell you about the things he dreams of doing to you, what he dreams you'll do to him—"

A rock bounced off Stiles's head; Derek turned to see that Lydia had thrown it. "Dear god, you demons talk more than I do. Instead of making up stories about Stiles, why don't you make peace with Satan or whoever you answer to, because soon the Winchesters will be here." She said all that with a sharp, quick air of superiority and arrogance that seemed enough to shut the demon up, at least temporarily.

"And what happens when I tell them what you freaks are?" it said after a long moment.

"Because demons are known for their trustworthiness? I don't think you'll get much talking done anyway, they have quite a reputation." She crossed her arms and flipped her red hair behind her shoulders with a regal toss of her head.

Derek heard the unmistakable sound of a classic car approaching—the low rumble of the engine had to belong to the hunters' Impala. The rest of the pack heard it too; they turned with hopeful faces to watch for the approaching vehicle.

"The ginger bitch talks a big talk, but we'll see what they think of you werewolves."

No one bothered to respond or even acknowledge that it had spoken. Half a minute later, the car came into view. Derek told himself that he wasn't nervous, terrified even, but his body was betraying him. His instincts were telling him to run, but that wasn't an option. Whatever it took to save Stiles.

The Impala stopped and Scott got out of the back, his expression so openly hopeful that Derek almost believed this situation could end well for everyone but the demon. The alpha's pessimistic nature took over again, though, and when his beta was next to him, he hissed, "We can't trust them."

"Yes, we can. We have to." Scott wasn't looking at Stiles so poignantly that he might as well have been staring openly at the possessed teen. "I won't lose my best friend."

"When this goes south, you get them out of here. Ah," he cut Scott off before he could start arguing, "That's an order."

While they'd been speaking, the Winchesters had been gathering things from their trunk. The younger brother spoke. "Been a while since we've done an exorcism. Brings me back."

"Well, does being surrounded by werewolves bring you—" The demon was dramatically cut off as the older Winchester splashed liquid on Stiles's face. It began to scream, doubling over in pain. Derek felt a hand on his arm before he realized he'd moved. Scott was holding him back

"What the hell are you doing?!" the alpha shouted, trying to get out of Scott's grasp.

"Relax, it's just holy water. It only hurts the demon."

Derek believed the hunter, but he didn't care for the nonchalant way he was treating the situation. They both seemed jaded and a little callous. "Okay, just—please. Get it over with."

"Yeah." Sam opened up a book and began to read what sounded like Latin. Several yards away, Lydia was quietly translating to Alison, probably doing it more to calm her nerves than to be informative.

The demon was taking it just about as well as it took the holy water. Though he knew that it wasn't really Stiles suffering, Derek still found it hard to watch.

A fluttering sound that made Derek think of cold days at the park interrupted the exorcism. The demon was kneeling on the ground panting, with such a murderous expression on its face that Derek was glad it was trapped in a circle. When he turned from that sight, though, he nearly forgot all about it.

The man who looked like a mental patient was standing in front of Sam, pushing the book closed slowly.

"Cas—what are you doing?" Dean demanded.

"He's helping me." Derek turned to see a woman—the same one who'd been there the previous night. "You see, the demon is working for me, so I don't want you to exorcise him just yet."

"That's not your call, lady," Derek informed her, his voice quiet, restrained. "That demon is possessing my friend, so it's leaving his body tonight."

"Sorry, handsome, but this isn't your call. Run on home and you might see your friend again one day. But this is way outta your small-town scope of things."

"Since when do you take orders from Meg, Cas?" Dean looked as angry as Derek felt; whoever or whatever this Cas guy was, he must have meant a lot to the hunter for his betrayal to hurt that badly.

"Meg is my friend, I'm helping her—"

"Helping her what? Hoard souls using crossroads demons? Do you realize what's going to happen to this town in ten years?"

"They made their deals fairly. Their sacrifice is necessary to stop Crowley."

Beside him, Scott suddenly stepped forward, shouting, "I don't care! I don't care about this Meg woman or whoever the fuck Crowley is or what happens in ten years—all I care about is that my best friend is gone and I want him back! You people are supposed to help with stuff like this!"

Silence filled the space between them; the hunters actually looked a little abashed, but Meg and Cas wore poker faces. Eventually Dean spoke up. "Cas, come on, don't help her. You can't trust a demon."

"She's proven herself—"

"No, she hasn't. She tired to kill us, tried to help Lucifer get out of the cage. Then she tried to suck up to us so we'd keep her alive—she's one of those fish that attach themselves to sharks—"

"Remora," Lydia corrected, "they're called remoras."

"Uh, yeah." Dean suddenly seemed to remember that their little tiff had an audience mostly comprised of strangers. "Cas, she's just trying to use you to get her own way."

"And you've never used me?" The man's face wasn't so blank after all; Derek saw pain in his eyes.

"No, Cas, because I—because we're friends. Or did you forget that? Since when do you see people as expendable objects. What happened to loving God's creation?"

Uncertainty flashed through Cas's eyes, but then Meg took his hand and said, "If we don't stop Crowley, all these people will be in danger. He's planning an apocalypse of his own."

"Yeah? And what are you planning?" Sam asked sharply. "A coup?"

"In so many words, yes. Cas here is helping me, and you should be, too."

"Help you set up rogue crossroads demons to collect human souls to gain power? Lady, you're bat-shit insane if you think we're on board for that." Dean pulled a knife from his coat. "I suggest you leave and stop trying to con Cas into helping you set yourself up as the new king of hell."

"See, Cas, I told you. They pretend to care so much about freewill but won't let you make your own choices."

"Freewill and plain stupidity are different things, Meg. You're trying to manipulate him." Sam sounded a great deal calmer than his brother.

"No," Cas said, "She told me about Crowley and I offered to help. We can trust her, and we need to work together. Please." His plea was clearly directed more towards Dean than Sam, and for a long moment Derek felt uncomfortable, as if he was spying on a private moment.

Cas and Dean seemed to have forgotten everyone else; they simply held each other's gaze.

"Alright," Dean conceded, "But we're not doing it her way. We do it our way, and we get rid of that demon. We promised these kids we'd help their friend."

Meg sighed. "Is that non-negotiable?"

"Hey—what are you doing?!" the demon screamed, stepping to the edge of the circle.

"Yes." Sam and Dean spoke in unison, and the woman shrugged.

"Okay, I'll have him pick a new body."

Stiles's form relaxed. "Yeah, fine, I mean I'll miss this one, such an interesting soul in it. But leaving is better than going back to hell."

Meg moved to break the circle, but Dean stopped her with his next words. "And you're undoing the contracts he made. All of them."

"No way, I need their power. I can't dethrone Crowley with one angel and a handful of crossroads demons. We have to have the souls."

"Wow, gee Meg, I have a great idea—you should crack open Purgatory and—oh wait! That's right, these sorts of plans always go awry. We stopped one apocalypse on our own terms. We can stop another."

"She's lying," Derek interrupted, growing tired of waiting for these people to stop talking about insane shit like the end of the world and do what he really wanted them to—save Stiles. "I can tell she's lying to you."

"How?" The hunters were giving him their full attention.

"Because he's a werewolf! Did I not mention that earlier?" The demon's smug smile made Derek want to do violent things, but he couldn't direct his rage at Stiles's body.

Scott began to laugh. "Werewolf? That's the best thing you can come up with? Hey, newsflash, it's the full moon tonight. I don't see anyone howling and turning into a wolf."

That was the truth; Derek had long since trained his pack to be able to resist the call of the full moon. He'd completely forgotten what day of the month it was he'd been so worried about Stiles.

"Cas, is the demon telling the truth?" Dean whispered.

Then man's eyes met Derek's. "No," his heartbeat increased—he was lying for them. The alpha wondered how Cas knew about the werewolves; he was obviously not entirely human, but he wasn't a demon either. "These people are human."

"I can just tell when people lie," Derek insisted, "And you can't trust her. Just exorcise her—that's what you do, right? You're demon hunters."

"Honey, this is more complicated than you can understand," Meg said, raking her eyes up and down Derek's body. He shuddered as if her gaze were a touch, thinking of Kate and feeling unclean, naked. "And I'm not lying."

She was, but he didn't know her angle. Too much of what had passed between the hunters and the demon had been beyond his comprehension, but he knew her intentions weren't what she was pretending. "You are—and I don't care what your little game is, but you aren't involving my—" he faltered for half a second because he'd been about to say my Stiles and he didn't know why the fuck those words wanted to come out of his mouth, "—my friend."

"I won't. We'll give your little human back." She turned to the Winchesters. "But I'm not giving the souls back."

Sam and Dean met each other's eye, words passing silently between them. After a while of this, they both nodded. "Okay, but you call off your crossroads demons and we do this our way."

"Deal."

"Wait—what?" the demon in the trap asked, a little frantic, "Just like that, I'm demoted back to a normal demon?! That wasn't part of our deal!"

"Adaptability is the key to survival," Meg said flippantly, turning away from him. If she'd been paying more attention she would have noticed the flash of rage that stole over Stile's young face. In that instant Derek knew that the demon was turning on Meg. She kinda deserved it; even though he hadn't known her more than five minutes he already knew the type of person she was—a manipulative bitch.

As much as he wanted to see her unknown plans ruined out of spite, Derek realized that if the demon who had Stiles rebelled, it could very well take its human host away with it.

Before he could begin to think of a plan to stop the demon from leaving, Meg was already kicking the devil's trap open. Adrenaline flooded his body and time seemed to slow; Derek was sure, so sure, that Stiles would disappear to a distant corner of the world and never be seen again.

In the space of a breath he saw the future without Stiles in it—he saw Scott missing his best friend, the pack missing a valuable honorary member, Sheriff Stilinski completely alone—but beyond that he saw a gaping hole in his own life.

Derek was not so melodramatic as to make grand statements like he couldn't live without someone. He'd lost enough to know that life moved on, he could move on, but losing Stiles would be almost unbearable for a long time. The alpha realized, as he faced that prospect, Stiles meant more to him than he had been willing to admit to himself.

But the demon didn't vanish into the night; he walked calmly out of the circle, thanking Meg for releasing him.

Feeling his body relax, Derek sighed. Maybe the demon wasn't going to betray anyone yet.

"Alright, get a move on, leave the body." Dean's voice was still almost light-hearted.

"And find a host that doesn't have a soul," Sam added.

"Fine, I'm going," the demon waved Stiles's hand flippantly, but Derek heard his heart rate increase. By their reactions, so did the rest of his pack, but even their fast reactions weren't quick enough.

Instead of vacating the body, the demon suddenly appeared right next to Dean, hitting him hard enough to send the man flying several yards back. His brother moved to stop it, but the demon had the knife that the hunter had been holding, and he drove the man back with a quick slash of the blade.

Cas was suddenly by Dean's side, checking his vitals from what Derek could see, though he only spared them a short glance. His attention was almost entirely given over to Stiles's body and the monster controlling it. His pack also moved in on the demon, eyes flashing but otherwise keeping their humanity despite the pull of the moon.

They were too slow, which Derek could forgive them for—but what he couldn't forgive was that he was too slow, that even with all his prowess and skill as an alpha he wasn't nearly fast enough to stop what happened. For years he would wake up in the night gasping, having failed again in dreams, always just a little less than what he needed to be.

He watched a living nightmare unfold in front of him. The demon whirled to face Meg, who was only a foot from him. He aimed a stab at her torso but she dodged, avoiding even the tip of the knife though it threw off her balance a little. With a deftness that revealed her as far more experienced in combat than the other demon, she used the momentum of her dodge to pull Stiles's body off balance with her, and they both tumbled to the ground.

All this happened before the werewolves could close the gap of several dozen yards between them and the demons. Meg swiftly wrestled the knife from Stiles's hands and wasted no time raising it to aim a stab at him. Her eyes were solid black, her mouth turned up in an expression of determination that had more than a dash of pleasure in it. The knife came down and the blade disappeared in Stiles's chest.

Orange light crackled from the teen's eyes, mouth, ears, and then his body went limp. By that time Derek was kneeling beside him; Meg was gone, a fact he barely registered.

There wasn't any blood on Stiles's shirt, not a drop. Derek knew what that meant, what the vacancy in his warm golden eyes meant. Numbly he pulled Stiles into his lap, feeling for a pulse that was stilled forever. He parted his lips to inform Scott—now kneeling beside him—of the news, but all that came out was, "No no no no no," a rapid exhalation filled with too many words to be comprehensible.

He was shaking Stiles's shoulders as if he were just asleep and not dead; the knife was still in his chest but Derek didn't want to take it out because of an irrational fear that the man in his arms would bleed to death if the wound was opened, never mind the fact that the blade had killed him instantly, stabbed him through the heart. There would be no bleeding.

Stiles wasn't Stiles anymore; he was just a body, and empty shell. Derek blinked and felt tears gather in his eyes—tears of sorrow and rage. He could feel his hands become claws, his teeth change to fangs. Above him the impartial moon continued its constant whisper of Come and play come and play and he was finding it harder to ignore. The prospect of running wild through the woods killing everything that moved was more and more tempting by the second as he stared into the lifeless eyes of the corpse that had once been Stiles Stilinski.

Scott's hand on his shoulder brought him back to reality. "Derek—don't—not now—the hunters—" his voice was raspy and broken, but somehow he managed to keep it together enough to prevent Derek from making a monumental mistake. With difficulty he used the searing pain of loss to anchor himself to humanity; he made himself feel it despite the numbness that wanted to take over.

"Give me the knife, Derek," Boyd said gently, making the alpha tear his eyes away from Stiles's to look at him.

"Why?"

"We're going to get that demon bitch," Erica hissed, "And that knife is special. You saw what it did."

Scott moved a trembling hand to take the knife, but Derek stopped him. "No, I'll do it." The blade was serrated so it didn't come out easily; he had to work it, trying not to listen to the wet sound of flesh parting before the knife.

After an eternity it was out and Derek handed it to Boyd without comment. He would let them run through the woods chasing a demon if they wanted. They wouldn't catch her—she could be anywhere—but they needed to try. He understood.

A few minutes later the rest of the werewolves other than Scott were gone. The beta was still sitting quietly by Stiles's body, Alison in his arms, Lydia beside him; all of them were just trying to come to grips with what had happened.

"How are we going to tell the sheriff?" Lydia asked through tears. "What are we going to tell him?"

She was speaking to Derek because he was the alpha, the one with the answers and the orders. But he didn't know. He was having trouble caring. "Tell him the truth if you want. Tell him a lie. Doesn't matter now."

"Where did the hunters go?" Scott was glancing around, not even bothering to wipe the tears from his face; more would replace them either way.

Derek didn't bother looking up. Where the hunters were didn't matter to him. He could feel himself slipping away, sinking beneath the trauma and the pain and becoming numb at last. A current of anger was all that was keeping him sane.

He would see Meg dead if it took him a lifetime, but for the moment he could only gaze into Stiles's clouding eyes.


When the demon hit him in the chest it knocked the wind out of him, something Dean was almost used to by this point in his violent life. But one never really got used to the feeling, so as the world was shattering around Derek Hale, he was lying on his back in the dirt, gasping for breath and thinking that maybe he was getting a little old for hunting.

Cas was beside him after a moment, restoring his breath with a light touch and taking away the pain in his ribs. A few of them had probably been broken.

"Thanks," he managed, sitting up.

A scream interrupted his thoughts; several dozen yards away Meg was straddling the crossroads demon, then Dean saw her disappear. With a sinking feeling he recognized the signs that meant the kid was as dead as the demon who'd possessed him. He didn't have to see the teen's friends gather around his body to be sure of it.

"Shitfuck," he spat, "We need to find Meg. Got any idea where she is?"

Sam ran up to them as Cas answered, "No, but I can find her." Without asking he took the brothers with him as he disappeared.

They landed in the middle of the woods. From the types of trees and amount of underbrush they weren't too far from the crossroads, but it was much darker. The sky lacked the faint orange glow that meant they were near the town. Only the full moon provided light for them, but Dean trusted Cas to warn them if anything unsavory was approaching.

"If you're going to chastise me for killing that little punk, don't bother. It was self-defense." Meg was leaning against a tree not far from them. "Sorry that I had to kill the kid to do it."

"You don't seem too sorry." Dean thought of Scott McCall, his honest youthfulness, they way he'd said him and the dead kid were practically brothers, best friends for life. He remembered the fear in the teen's voice as he asked for help in saving him.

Dean knew what it was to lose a brother—hell, he'd lost just about everyone in his life. It never got any easier, but Scott probably hadn't buried anyone before except maybe grandparents. The first death was like first love; it had a way of haunting you.

"Sacrifices have to be made. Now, let's talk business."

"Yeah, like about why Crowley would want to end the world. What's in it for him?" Sam's arms were crossed in a very serious manner; to other people he probably looked imposing and intimidating, but to Dean he just looked comical.

"I won't pretend to fathom what he really wants. All I know is what I've learned from his little minions. If you want more answers, we'll have to ask him ourselves."

Dean turned to watch Cas; the angel seemed conflicted, as if he were questioning his decision to help Meg.

"How's he even going to bring about the apocalypse?"

"He's going to try to break open the cage—"

"Bullshit. He can't. Not without another Lilith, and last I checked we're fresh out." Sammy sure was sassy this evening, Dean thought wryly. His brother was right.

"If Cas got Sam out, don't you think another angel strong enough could free Lucifer?"

"But why?" Dean countered, "Crowley helped bring him down. He's right where he wants to be, king of hell, has a truce with us. If it ain't broke he won't fix it."

"Do you have solid proof, Meg?" Cas asked her. The night was too dark for Dean to see the demon's reaction, but he could hear the change in her voice—grasping for straws.

"No, but if we capture one of his people we can—Don't you trust me? What about earlier today?"

The tone of her voice made Dean's figurative hackles rise. He didn't like the implication of something sexual having gone on between them. Something that couldn't possibly have been jealousy made him resolve not to help Meg in her little plot to overthrow Crowley. He didn't trust her, even after all these years of her helping them. She'd only been doing it to save herself, and now she was trying to con them into something. He was sure of it. She was toying with Cas to do it, and that crossed the line so far that it was just a dot in the distance.

No one manipulated his angel. "We're through here, Meg. I don't want to see you again." His voice was hard, and the demon seemed to understand the danger she was in.

But before she could answer, a howl sounded from the nearby woods, and then another, closer to them.

"The werewolves are angry I imagine," Cas commented, "You killed one of their own."

Before Dean had a chance to ask the angel what he was talking about, the three of them were back at the crossroads, standing by the Impala. The howls were almost too far away to hear.

The kids were still kneeling around the body of the one Meg had killed; Dean could hardly look at them. None of them seemed to notice their arrival.

"This sucks," Sam whispered. "We promised we'd help him."

"Can't win 'em all. Cas, what did you mean about the were—" He turned to speak to the angel but found him gone.


Derek heard the sound that meant the weird mental-patient guy was back again, bur he failed to care about that fact. Stiles was still dead, and the hunters were whispering about it with little empathy. Just another day at the office for them.

Exhaustion and apathy were all he had left, so he didn't even flinch when Cas touched his shoulder, though he did resist being pulled away from the corpse he was still holding. Stiles had only been dead a few minutes, and even though it seemed like so much longer than that to the alpha, he wasn't ready to let go.

"I'm sorry this happened, Derek," the man murmured sincerely. "I can help if you let me."

His laugh was eerie and hollow. "You got a bottle of whiskey on you?"

"I don't." Cas leaned over Derek and lightly touched Stiles's forehead. "But I am an angel of the Lord and can call back souls from heaven."

Fucking nutjob, the alpha thought, then jumped with the body in his arms moved, took a gasping breath, struggled to escape his admittedly overly tight grip.

Lydia and Alison screamed and Scott exclaimed some pretty interesting curses. Stiles himself seemed confused about what was happening; his heart was aflutter and he was having trouble forming a sentence.

"Derek—I—why'm I—what's going on—Alison you've got mascara all over—have you guys been crying?—what happened?—who's dead?" Stiles managed to say all that in record time as Derek let him sit up.

Everyone was silent; Cas had left again if the fluttering sound was any indication, but Derek couldn't look away from Stiles. He touched the teen's face, his short hair, his shoulders, eyes wide with wonder, mouth agape.

"You're alive," he breathed.

"Duh, why wouldn't I be?"

Touching the hole in Stiles's shirt, which was only lightly stained with blood, Derek felt the soft skin underneath, marveling at its wholeness. The other looked down at it, too, then began to panic.

"What the hell happened to me?! I remember that demon woman coming after me and then—then I was here."

Derek was having trouble deciding if this was real or if he'd gone off the deep end and was hallucinating. Stiles's skin felt real, his voice sounded real, the way his lips moved and the way his face betrayed his thoughts seemed real. The way he was fidgeting also seemed real.

"Did I die?!" he asked incredulously, then paused, cheeks reddening. "Oh god, the things the demon said—he was lying. I mean seriously, like I have a crush on you I mean no way—"

"Stiles," Derek interrupted, "I can tell when you're lying."

He became an even brighter shade of pink. "Oh well you know," he said offhand, moving to get away from the alpha, "I'll just go find a cliff to jump off of because this isn't happening."

"No." Placing his hand gently on the side of Stiles's face, he turned his head to meet his eye. "It's okay."

Derek didn't care that he was surrounded by people; his face was close enough to Stiles's that it was all he could focus on. Their lips were only half a foot apart and the alpha wanted to remove the distance, but that felt too much like taking advantage. Stiles had just been through an unimaginable trauma—

Cutting off his line of thought, Stiles suddenly leaned forward and kissed Derek. There was a surprising amount of passion in it, and an edge of caution that disappeared quickly, as if the teen had decided that if he was going to do a thing, he'd do it right.

"Finally," Scott muttered, and that was all that Derek bothered to pay attention to.


They were two states over from California when Dean finally asked Cas the question that had been on his mind the most since the incident with Meg. There'd been a lot of questions, none of them spoken aloud, not by him or Sammy, but one in particular danced on his tongue and tried to escape every time he opened his mouth to talk to the angel.

After driving all day they stopped for the night in between tiny towns. Because the brothers were running low on cash and the weather was mild they decided to sleep under the stars in a lonely field. Sam was stretched out on blankets, sound asleep, but Dean felt restless.

Cas hadn't left them. That should have been a good thing—but it made the older Winchester feel like he was just waiting for something bad to happen, for the angel to disappear again, maybe forever this time.

Sitting on the hood of the Impala, watching the stars move slowly across the sky, Dean worried and fretted and fought with himself. Cas was there beside him, equally silent, thinking his own unknowable thoughts.

"So I've been meaning to ask you," Dean began in a whisper so as to avoid waking his brother, "Back in Beacon Hills, with the kid, you brought him back to life. Why'd you do it?" Since his brush with insanity, Cas had often been detached from the parts of humanity that didn't directly involve the Winchesters. He didn't usually go out of his way to play God. Dean almost winced at that phrasing, and almost smiled.

Cas looked shocked by his friend's ignorance. "If I'd just walked away, everything we do would have been meaningless. You know, saving people, hunting things. The family business."

Dean knew he probably looked like an idiot with his mouth open and his eyes as wide as they could go but he was powerless to stop it. Cas's words hadn't been idle; with them he meant to tell Dean that he was part of the family, he was with them forever, or at least until the brothers' untimely deaths.

I am so in love with him, Dean thought, not even trying to lie to himself about it anymore. He stood up and turned to face Cas, standing between the angel's knees.

He wanted to say something that portrayed even a little of what he was feeling, but he couldn't, and by Cas's expression, his silence was worrying.

So he did the only thing he could think of; he pulled the angel into a kiss. It was gentle, tentative, because Dean didn't want to force himself on anyone, especially not the particular someone in front of him.

When Cas returned the kiss Dean's fear melted away, and then things began to head in a direction that definitely wasn't PG. He felt the slight shift that meant the angel had transported them somewhere else, and after a long moment he pulled away from Cas and glanced around. It was still dark but they were in an entirely different field than the one were Sam and the Impala were.

"Why—?" Dean began, but Cas cut him off.

"I didn't want to disturb Sam."

For half a second he wondered how kissing would disturb anyone, then he gathered Cas's meaning—and feeling the angel's erection pressing against his leg didn't hurt that thought process. "Oh," he breathed, then stopped talking altogether.


Sam woke up in the middle of the night, propelled from sleep by a nightmare he couldn't really remember. He wasn't surprised or disturbed to find himself alone with the Impala. In fact, he smiled to himself and whispered, "Finally," before rolling over and readjusting his blankets.