Disclaimer: not mine!
Title: Prepared, Not Paranoid
Chapter 2: Hex Bags
Summary: While the EWKs are awesome, wolfsbane is only one of the many things that can kill, injure, maim, or otherwise bother werewolves (and humans, too). Stiles isn't going to stand by and let anything hurt his Pack. If that means making hex bags and dabbling in magic… in the words of Ace Ventura, alllllrighty then!
A/N: Continued because it wouldn't leave me alone! But then it got stubborn and wouldn't talk to me anymore, so I had to creep after it like Derek and be really weird. Case in point.
After a few days of self-congratulation over the EWKs, Stiles drops right back into research mode. Not that he isn't thrilled about his amazing success, but there are always beasties and baddies to best (and alliterations to make, because who doesn't adore alliteration?).
The first thing he starts looking into are vampires, but he quickly gives that up as a bad idea. Not only does he have excessive difficulty finding anything that doesn't sparkle (god, what is wrong with the youth of America today? Don't they remember classic vampires? Like Dracula? Or Angel and Spike?), but Peter had legitimately cracked up and laughed himself almost-sick when Stiles asked about them. Apparently, vampires aren't real. Fine. Moving on.
His second point of interest is witches. Are witches? Bah, grammar. Anyway, witches.
Not witches like Deaton, to be totally specific. Deaton is… well, he's weird, and has weird magic mojo weirdness. That's Stiles' opinion, anyway, and he's sticking to it. But he's researching other magic. Things less based on faith, trust, and pixie dust. Or powdered mountain ash. Same thing. But while that's lovely, and Stiles is a ginormous fan of mountain ash (no, really. Mountain ash is his new best friend, sorry Scott), he wants something he can actually use with a fair amount of reliability. Magic powder you have to practically give yourself an aneurysm believing in? Not his idea of anything very useful.
So he's been digging around online and in some old books to find anything more concrete than what Deaton has to offer. The first few things he finds are mostly just nonsense about crystals and incense and cleansing your aura of negative juju, or something, but then he finds something good.
Apparently, the best way to ward off a witch's curse (or hex, or spell, or potion, or anything at all, really) is with a hex bag. If you've got a hex bag on you, and it's powerful enough, you can get whacked with a heavy-duty death-curse and walk away unscathed.
Stiles probably isn't quite good enough yet to pull of that level of hex bag, but hey, give him time to practice (of course, that practice also includes learning magic, which Stiles is really OK with, although Lydia has some genuine issues with it, thank you Peter. She won't talk about it though, and Stiles knows better than to poke his nose into that mess, because he's not an idiot, in spite of what Jackson used to insist. God, he does not miss that douchebag).
The recipe he settles on, after a fair bit of experimentation that leaves his and Lydia's eyebrows singed off for a good three days (and she beat his ass so hard for that, and wrung a promise to never ever ever ever talk about it, so that's where the story ends, thank you), is pretty interesting.
The base of each hex bag has to be specifically tailored to the wearer of the bag. Stiles practices with himself first, and, since the base has to be something that speaks to the wearer of safety and comfort and peace, he bases his on thyme. His mom had always smelled a bit like thyme, from all the cooking she'd done. So, for him, thyme smells like home. To the thyme, he adds eyebright for mental powers, chili pepper for curse breaking, burdock for protection and healing, clover for exorcism and success, and datura (also called moonflower, which cracks him up a bit) for hex breaking and more protection. Lydia's hex bag has most of the same things, except that it is based on roses. She flat out refuses to tell him why, but has that sad little wrinkle between her eyebrows that only ever pops up when Jackson rears his ugly head (even if it's just figuratively speaking). He bites his tongue, and doesn't ask. He also refrains from putting in any number of herbs that would repel snakes, but that's mostly just because he would be the only one to find it funny.
Of course, you can dump herbs in a bag and wave it around all you like, but it doesn't do anything unless you have the proper mental focus.
OK, so maybe Deaton isn't entirely full of crap with his faith-trust-mountain-ash-dust theories. But it's different, damn it! Stiles builds the base for the magic, and then… infuses it with mountain ash and his will. Oh god, that sounds ridiculous. But that isn't the point. The point is… hex bags. They work. And they work well.
At first, Stiles and Lydia do minor tests. 'Poking' each other with minor irritant spells. When those are still having no effect, after several hours of 'poking', they upgrade from minor nuisances to actual offensive spells, which were a bitch and a half to learn, let him tell you. There are some minor incidents, since it seems that neither of them has very good aim, and Stiles is going to have to buy himself a new desk out of his own savings, and he still doesn't know how to explain that to his dad.
After the… desk incident… they move their practice sessions to the yard outside the Hale house. The werewolves watch from a safe distance, avoiding flying projectiles and trying desperately not to laugh at the expressions on Stiles and Lydia's faces.
For their biggest, last test, Lydia preps a massive explosion to hurl at Stiles' head. Fire and wind and earthshaking geysers, the whole shebang.
Scott protests, naturally. So, surprisingly, does Derek.
"You could kill him!" Scott flails at Lydia. "Or, or, or seriously hurt him!"
"Stiles is human," Derek adds, scowling. "He won't heal if you screw up."
"Stiles is also standing right here!" said human waves his arms over his head. "And I am fully capable of making my own decisions! I know what I'm doing!"
"I'm with Stiles," Isaac pipes up. "The EWKs saved my ass. It'd be nice if hex bags worked, too. Then when witches inevitably show up and try to kill us, we'd have some defense."
Peter snorts a little, but then nods reluctantly. "They have a point, Derek. Witches are slippery bitches."
Isaac inches away from Peter, trying (and failing) to be unobtrusive about it.
"Can we stop arguing about what's, frankly, none of your business?" Stiles glares at all the werewolves, impartially, and, without waiting for an answer, turns back to Lydia. "Alright, genius. Do your worst!"
Lydia smirks at him, and then, with an air of intense concentration, holds her hands out, palms up, at waist height. The ground rumbles, the wind picks up. The temperature is rising, and the werewolves are nervous.
Without any further warning, Lydia flings her arms straight up in the air, hands clenching into fists, shrieking something in Latin that the werewolves can't decipher (maybe Peter can, but he's not telling). The earth splits apart with a roar, flame thunders down out of the sky on the wings of the wind, and a vast geyser of water explodes from the ground. All of it centered on Stiles.
The werewolves spring to their feet, even Peter (who still gives off an 'I-don't-really-care-about-any-of-you-I'm-just-using-you-for-my-own-nefarious-deeds-mwah-ha-ha-ha' kind of vibe) and vibrate with tension, waiting to see if they need to run Stiles to the hospital, or run themselves out of the state (the country? the hemisphere?) to avoid the wrath of Papa Stilinski. But then the dust begins to settle, and they see Stiles, precariously straddling the crack in the earth, grinning broadly, fists raised over his head in an unmistakable gesture of triumph.
From there it's a fairly simple process of making a hex bag for each Pack member. Their hex bags are somewhat different from his and Lydia's, lacking the datura (the 'moonflower' vibe makes him twitchy), but having anise and St. John's Wort for still more protection and power, and mulberry for strength. He's wary of adding the mountain ash, but the bags won't work without them. He runs some tests, forcing Isaac to be the guinea pig (because he has experience, after the EWKs, and because Scott's in detention at the time, Derek flat out refuses, and Stiles doesn't really want to ask Uncle Bad-Touch for any favors), and figures out that silk, of all things, will help negate the effects of the mountain ash, although not the beneficial influences of the rest of the herbs. It's incredibly fortuitous, and Stiles doesn't really understand why it works, but he doesn't question it (yet. He'll be back to poke at it later, when he's not busy hunting down difficult-to-find herbs in oddball shops and creepy farmer's markets).
Scott's hex bag is based off lavender, a scent that his mom and Allison both wear (Stiles oh so nobly refrains from making an Oedipal complex joke, mostly because he doesn't think Scott will really get it. Not that Scott's dumb, because he's not. He's just not all that great with the references to classics and things that he doesn't have as basics in his life every day. You know?) Isaac takes more poking and bothering to dig up a base, but eventually he confesses, with a furrowed brow and a fixed stare at his shoes, that his mom always smelled like vanilla, so Stiles hunts down some vanilla extract and douses the whole concoction with it.
But if Isaac is reluctant to talk, he's nothing compared to Derek and Peter. Stupid bastards.
Stiles bites the bullet and finally corners Creepy Peter.
"Would you just tell me?" Stiles rolls his eyes dramatically, still making sure to keep a good three feet between the two of them. Stiles is more confident in his ability to defend himself now than last time he spent one-on-one time with Uncle Creep, what with all the magic he's learned, and the hex bag hanging around his neck. If it comes down to it, there's about a fifty-fifty chance he'd avoid Peter if the werewolf attacked. Not that he worries about this kind of thing. Ever. Jeez, his life.
Peter shrugs, raising an eyebrow. "Does it matter? Are you really going to make a hex bag for me? One that would protect against your magic?" he smirks a bit, leaning back against the wall behind him. "Somehow I sincerely doubt you're not hedging your bets."
"Um…." Stiles says intelligently, fully aware of what Peter means but trying desperately to pretend he doesn't.
"If I go rogue again," Peter meets Stiles' eyes squarely. "If I snap, and revert back to the way I was. You want a surefire way of taking me down, in case Derek can't, or won't."
Stiles thinks of a number of snarky and/or witty retorts, but bites them all back, and decides on saying nothing at all.
"Mm, that's what I thought," Peter nods, lips twisting in a wry smile. "Not that I blame you. It's what I'd do. But it does negate the value of you making me a hex bag. So I think I'll pass."
Stiles contorts his face in frustration, and then puffs out a sigh. "Alright. Fine. But if you change your mind, or if we get proof that you're not going to flip…?"
"Oh, don't worry, if I think I can use a hex bag, I'll ask," Peter reassures him quickly, a look on his face that Stiles doesn't really have the time or energy to decipher.
Next on his list (before the Argents, because Allison is his friend, and he just knows she'd push and push and push until he made one for her dad, before Mrs. McCall, before his dad (and how he's going to explain that to his dad he hasn't figured out yet)) is Derek. King of avoiding, king of refusing to answer questions, king of obnoxious pain-in-the-butt-ery. Buttery? Whatever.
It takes him four days to pin Derek down. Lydia flat-out refuses to help him, because she maintains that he and Derek have a 'more profound bond', which makes him roll his eyes dramatically, because there's no way he didn't get the Supernatural reference, in spite of Lydia's claims that she's a bigger fan than he is. No. No way.
But back on topic. When he finally manages to track Derek down and forces him to answer his question.
"Oranges," Derek is very quiet when he answers, keeping his eyes on the floor. "My mom. And Laura. They had… orange shampoo. Use oranges."
Stiles nods, twisting his mouth around in a desperate effort not to pepper the Alpha with more irritating demands. "OK. Oranges. I'll, uh, get that together for you. Should have it by tomorrow. You know Peter doesn't want one? Said if we ever had to take him down, like if he went loony again, he shouldn't have protection from us."
Derek scowls, still not meeting Stiles' eyes. "He told me. But it's his choice."
Stiles puffs out a dramatic sigh, and leaves Derek to his moping. It's what the Alpha does. Not that Stiles approves of such silly brooding, but it is what Derek does. It isn't healthy, but who is Stiles to judge? He's not exactly well-adjusted and/or healthy when it comes to his mother, so why should Derek be? But it bothers him. He's never been good at leaving things be, and this is one of those things. Derek shouldn't be miserable all the time. But since he doesn't know how to fix it, Stiles shoves it to the back of his mind to think about later, along with the magical properties of silk. God, thinking was hard.
He makes hex bags for Allison and her dad, using cherry blossoms as the base for both of them (Allison's mom's perfume). Mrs. McCall, for a change, does not use something that reminds her of her mother (or wife, in Chris Argent's case), and instead chooses lilacs, which had grown outside her house as a small child. Stiles spends a few hours pondering the prolific appearance of mother-related scents as the bases for his hex bags, but then dismisses it as the Pack and affiliates all having deep-seated issues with abandonment and misery.
His dad is the last stumbling block. The Sheriff is still mostly unaware of the supernatural world, although he's figured out a long while ago that something weird is going on, and that Stiles and his friends (which, for some disturbing reason, includes Derek Hale and his creepy uncle who sets off all the parent-alarms in his head, specifically the ones about skeezy predators) are at the center of it more often than he's comfortable with. But he doesn't know. About the werewolves and the hunters and the magic. Oh, the magic.
Stiles thinks his dad will be OK with the werewolves and the hunters. Papa Stilinski is a pretty cool guy, who, having raised Stiles, knows how to roll with the punches. But the fact that his son has not only thrown himself into this highly dangerous world, but has embraced magic and become all… witchy (he hates that word, but he's not sure what to use instead. He's not a warlock, that just sounds evil. He doesn't have a magic wand, so wizard is out. He doesn't wear a pointy hat, so not a sorcerer. Plus, none of those feel right. And with magic, feelings are important. So he calls himself a dude-witch. It's not perfect, but it'll do until he figures out what, exactly, he is), is not something that the Sheriff will handle with any amount of aplomb.
But his dad has a tendency to get caught up in disasters and the magical madness of Beacon Hills, so he has to brace himself and tell his dad the truth.
Or he can come up with a clever lie to trick his dad into wearing the hex bag, all the time, no matter what happens. That lie will be the cleverest, most genius and brilliantly inspired lie ever in his long, uncomfortable career of lying to his dad. Mm. Yes.
Except he can't think of one. The one time he needs his magic lying skillz, and they fail him.
After all, how do you go about telling your dad: one, you frequently use magic; two, werewolves are real; three, most of your friends are werewolves; four, things and people try to kill werewolves; five, you often get caught in the crossfire because of the magic and the werewolf-friends; six, this magic silk bag of plants will protect you from the possible inimical magics that might be raining down on us all in the near future; seven, did you forget to mention that you're Part of the Werewolf Pack? Practically Pack Mom?
Oh yeah. That will go over so well.
In the end, it doesn't really matter, because the witches arrive before Stiles can actually figure out what to tell his dad.
Now, although he and Lydia have been learning magic, with the hex bags and the EWKs, they're not actually very good at it. Most of what they've got is some brute force 'GRR, SMASH!' type spells, and the ability to use mountain ash. In the face of a coven of witches that have been doing this kind of thing for years, they don't have much of a chance at all. Plus, these witches seem smart, and don't roll into town with spells flying and a big sign on their car saying 'HI WE'RE A COVEN OF WITCHES COME TO DESTROY THE WEREWOLVES OF BEACON HILLS, HOW YA DOIN'?' because nobody does that. Not in real life, anyway.
In fact, they only realize that the witches are there when Stiles' dad goes missing. And not the kind of missing like he went for a long drive and didn't come back; the kind where his car is found on the side of the road, hood and engine crushed into a tangled mess, the driver's door hanging open, and no sign of the Sheriff.
To a human observer, this is inexplicable. Maybe he hit a bear? Or two? Or a rock fell on his car and… then ripped open his door? Or it was a gang on PCP?
To a werewolf observer, there is an easier explanation. Just use your nose. Magic, like most things, has a particular smell to it. Lightning and earth and wide open skies (please don't ask how something can smell like wide open skies. You're not a werewolf. You won't get it.). And the Sheriff's car reeks of magic.
There's no question about it; the Pack is going after the witches, right the hell now. Even if some of them (Peter, we're looking at you) are reluctant to barrel in with no prior planning, Stiles is about to explode with rage, tension and suppressed panic. There's no waiting. No planning. They find out where the goddamn witches are, and they go. Now.
Lydia digs up a scrying spell, figures out how to use it (without blowing anything up or setting things on fire, so that's progress), and then pinpoints the Sheriff's location. Derek does make them wait for at least five minutes to arm up and call the Argents (he doesn't want to call them, but Scott flat-out insists, saying that the hunters are better equipped to ambush a dangerous coven like this, and they could use all the help they can get, but it's no dice in the end anyway, because all the get is the answering machine). Stiles is no help, practically frothing at the mouth to get after the witches and save his dad.
They charge the abandoned warehouse that the witches have holed up in (and god, that's so very predictable. Abandoned warehouses, jeez) with little to no real plans. They've got their hex bags on, the werewolves have their fangs and claws out, and Stiles and Lydia have a number of heavy-duty smash-and-crush spells prepped. Stiles braces himself, knowing that however this ends, whatever happens next, his dad is going to know about the magic and the werewolves and everything.
The doors blast open at a gesture from Lydia, and the whole group charges through the gaping hole, guns and claws gleaming. The four witches are facing the doors, as if they were expecting them, with the Sheriff sitting quietly on the floor in the corner, eyeing them warily.
The tallest of the witches, a brunette with unhealthily pale skin, leers creepily at them (the part of Stiles' brain that isn't raging at the witches for taking his father is a bit irritated by the creepiness in that stare; Derek is the only one allowed to be that creepy) and says coldly, "the mongrels and the fools, all in one place. How convenient."
"Now we don't have to chase them down to kill them," the shortest of her companions says cheerfully, blue eyes gleaming fanatically. "Our God is smiling on our mission, my dears."
"Shut up," Stiles snaps, unaffected by the madness in her eyes. "Let my dad go. Then get the hell out of town."
"Or what?" the first witch says with a wry twist to her mouth. "You'll kill us? You? A part-pack of half-breed curs, and two untrained dabblers? What could you possibly do?"
Stiles has noticed, in the past few months, that the members of this pack have a flair for the dramatic. Overblown entrances, impassioned speeches, histrionic fights. A full-fledged dramatic freakout takes preparation, takes work, takes… a cue.
And that, right there? That is the best cue Stiles has ever heard.
He and Lydia flick their wrists, engulfing their hands in flames. The werewolves bare their fangs and flash their claws, howls ringing through the room. The witches shriek, and fling their hands over their heads, lightning flickering around their arms.
And the Sheriff flinches back, bracing himself against the wall. His eyes are wide and panicked, fixed on his son, who is flinging fire at the women who took him captive.
Something is rotten in the state of Beacon Hills.
Before the man can do more than blink and stagger to his feet, jaw hanging slack and numb, the… creatures (werewolves? What?) have subdued (er, killed, in one case; that older man, the uncomfortable creeper, is licking the blood off his claws with evident enjoyment, ew) three of the four witches. The first one has been backed into a corner by Stiles and Lydia, each slinging fire at her shields, battering them down. She screeches something in a language the Sheriff doesn't understand, but that grates on his ears like sandpaper, like nails on a chalkboard, like something wrong and dark and evil. And she's targeting his son. Stiles.
God, no. No, no, no.
He makes it maybe two steps before she crooks her fingers at his boy, snarling something awful, and makes a throwing motion with her hand. A globe of sickly yellow light appears and speeds towards Stiles, who throws his arms up in an attempt to stop it. The Sheriff's legs are still shaky from the recent revelation, and he only manages one more step before the light-globe makes contact. But not with Stiles.
Derek Hale, of all people. The man (werewolf, judging by the fact that he's got fangs and that his eyebrows seem to have moved to his sideburns, or something, God what is with this town?!) has flung himself bodily onto Stiles, getting in the way of the blast and going limp, seemingly stunned.
The rest of the pack (jeez, is that Scott? Scott, Stiles' partner-in-crime, the asthmatic kid whose voice kept cracking at the most awkward moments? He's a werewolf too?) howls in rage and lunge for the witch, whose protections fall under a renewed onslaught from Lydia. Peter gives the killing blow (a fact that the Sheriff stores away for further pondering later), but the majority of the Sheriff's attention is on his son and the man sprawled on top of him. Wow, awkward phrasing.
"Stiles?!" he shoves Derek out of the way fairly brusquely, but he'll worry about him if Stiles is OK.
"Ow," the boy says shakily, rubbing a hand over his chest. "Oh my God, Derek, you weigh like, eight billion pounds, man. Seriously. What the hell."
Derek grunts, lurching to a sitting positions and resting his head on his knees. "See if I help you next time."
"I had it under control! Hex bags, remember?" Stiles squawks, hauling himself halfway upright. He opens his mouth to continue berating Derek, but then freezes when he catches sight of his dad. "Um. Hi, dad. You OK?"
The Sheriff nods slowly, eyeing the now-silent werewolves standing behind Derek. One of them, Isaac (he thinks), offers a hand to Derek, who takes it and drags himself to his feet. "Yep. I'm fine. You?"
"Um. Yeah. I'm good," Stiles bites his lip nervously.
"So… anything you want to tell me?"
"Uh…. Werewolves are real?"
He says nothing, merely raises an eyebrow at his son in a classic parenting-demand for more information or you're grounded, buster.
"And, um, they're all werewolves," Stiles waves vaguely at everyone behind him. "Except Lydia. She's… a witch? And, uh, I am, too. Well, I mean, witch is such a loaded term, I really don't like it, but I can't think of anything better, y'know, except, like, dude-witch, but that just sounds stupid. So. Um. Yeah. I do magic. Is the… short version. Of that."
The Sheriff nods, still saying nothing.
"Um. So. Are you… do you… come on, dad, say something!" Stiles flings his hands in the air in exasperation.
He shakes his head. "Nope. I'm not saying anything until tomorrow. Because if you're all still witches and werewolves and whatever tomorrow, then I'll start dealing with this. And believe me, I'll have some questions for all of you," he fixes Derek and Peter in particular with a very Sheriff-y glare. "But for now…" he raises his hands in an 'I-surrender-to-your-collective-madness-please-don't-eat-me' gesture. "For now, I'm not saying anything. I'm going home. I'm going to sleep. And I'll deal with this tomorrow."
He stands up, pats Stiles on the shoulder (snickering internally at the dumbfounded look on Stiles face, which is mirrored eerily well on every other face in the building (except the witches, who are either dead or unconscious)) and heads for the door.
"Nine a.m. tomorrow, you're all at the house for questioning and breakfast," he calls over his shoulder as he leaves. "All of you."
The door closes with a bump, and he heaves an exhausted sigh, before walking towards his car.
'Deal with it in the morning,' he thinks through a haze of confusion. 'Just… deal with it in the morning.'
A/N: I will most definitely be getting back to that silk-bag thing, because it is relevant in the future. And more about what's going on with Peter. Because I'm planning things for this! Woo! And Erica and Boyd will be coming back. They're just spending some quality time with the Alphas. Which sucks for them.