Currently, there are two people in the world that Stiles Stilinski cares for, whom act as anchors to control some of his more destructive tendencies.

Because of Gerard Argent: one betrayed him and the other is near death.

There is only so much abuse he can take before he loses himself.

I don't own Teen Wolf.

Warnings: teenage (unplanned) pregnancy, parental neglect, mentions of knotting and suicide, implied (soul) mates, violence, implied killing off-scene

The door shuts behind Gerard; he and his presence slowly fade out from the basement of the Argent residence. Stiles counts backwards from sixteen (he's only sixteen years old) and strains his ears in case the old man decided that it's more fun to crush the hopes of teenagers. But no, the footsteps disappear up the stairs and back into the main foyer where normal people go, where Chris Argent is talking to his perfectly normal daughter, not werewolves, not those who have friends who are werewolves, not… Stiles turns his head to rest his cheek on the damp basement floor, damp from his own bodily fluids: sweat, tears, saliva, and blood. A few feet away, Erica and Boyd are hanging by their wrists from live wires, mouths covered by rolls of duct tape.

("The Argents' history of hunting goes back generations to the seventeenth century in France," Gerard had coolly informed them, "Since then, we have captured werewolves, gained experience in how to deal with them, namely, the exact voltage and current to keep a Beta awake and unable to turn. It might be uncomfortable, but, I can't say that you don't deserve it." [Erica and Boyd's eyes flashed blue – weren't they yellow before?] "The Code doesn't allow the practice anymore but our knowledge stays useful for… these circumstances.")

After a few sessions of regaining all his air that he had lost when Gerard repeatedly punched his stomach, he shuffles on his elbows and knees and curls into a corner by the wall, slowly pushing himself up into a sitting position. The electricity from the generators crackle; the chains attached to his handcuffs rattles across the ground. Stiles blinks heavily and fights against the urge to sleep, "I don't," he licks his split lip and plays with the taste of copper on his tongue, "I don't know when he's going to come back."

Gerard is aware of where Derek is because of Stiles. Torture does that to people: makes them talk, anything to stop the pain in a place where time moves like snails. Stiles tried his best; but everyone knows that of all the humanoid species, humans have the lowest glass ceiling. Gerard said that Stiles is to be a message: he didn't specify whether the message had to be intact or not. A light chill speeds down Stiles' spine as he stares aimlessly ahead, line of vision meeting the generator power switch sitting underneath the Betas. He thinks that Gerard will kill them all when he returns.

("You wouldn't know how your father is doing, would you?" Gerard had mildly asked. Stiles bit on the inside of his cheek till he tasted blood.)

"There is a limit to how much I can take," Stiles dully informs the two werewolves, uncaring if they are listening or not, "There is a limit before I break." He shifts into a more comfortable sitting position, gritting his teeth when his abused body protested and rubs his blood over his wrists where the metal rests, "Well, no, I'm already shattered, he shattered me before leaving. But he's gone now. I'm busting us all out of here because if I don't, we're going to die. I'm going to follow him and hunt him down because he deserves it. It'll be hunter to hunter. You can follow me: I don't give two shits as long as you don't get in my way." (Gerard had off-handedly called the werewolves Omegas which opens a new bag of problems that he's unwilling to poke at with a lacrosse stick.)

"I wonder," Stiles tilts his head back and muses, "who I was supposed to be a message for." He closes his eyes, one hand clenched around his manacles and the other bracing for pain. Then he methodically proceeds to dislocate his thumbs.

Lydia Martin didn't really know why she decided, out of everyone that she had ever known in her entire life, after her emotional failings to stay mentally stable, that she sought out Stiles Stilinski, the spastic Sheriff's kid, for comfort. She would guess that it's from her hunch, knowing that of all the recent shit and happenstances that has occurred in Beacon Hills, Stiles was one of the main players, and that out of all the people who seem to be involved, out of Jackson, Scott, Allison to name a few, that Stiles was the most approachable and hopefully the most easily manipulated. Maybe it was finally time to get something out of the long standing, epic crush that the boy seemed to stubbornly hold onto.

What she didn't expect to see was Stiles sitting on the front step of his house, twirling a baseball bat idly between his fingers, staring at a small tube which she had initially guessed was lube but turned out to be Neosporin. "Stiles?" She called, walking past the lawn, "Stilinski!" He looked up, an unreadable expression shifts across his face, so quick that she wasn't able to identify the emotion. Nonchalantly raised a hand in greeting, he seemed increasingly puzzled as she ventured closer, stopping in front of him and bending down to examine his face. "What happened? Was this from the school?"

He offered her a rueful grin, "Yeah, you can say that." He spread more cream onto his fingers, rubbing them into the cuts on the back of his hands, all the while reassuring her with lies, "It's worse than it looks. I'm just finishing up the last of them."He clenched his hands as a test and slowly relaxed them, "Can I help you?" Waving a hand behind him at the door, he sheepishly admitted, "I would invite you in and all but it's messy and pretty empty and I have to leave pretty soon."

Lydia opened her mouth to tell him how she suspected that Peter Hale had raped her in the most non-physical sense possible, how that there's no way that she could miss the clandestine meetings between Scott and Derek Hale, that she had noticed the pattern of deaths that had suddenly erupted in this town where only so much can be explained away by animal attacks, how Jackson's death was connected to all of this and she wanted answers starting from when she was bitten by Hale, through the incident where Stiles had kidnapped Jackson and locked him in a police van, to now. But then she noticed that not once during their brief exchanged had he looked at her like an imprinted puppy, not like the longing stares from a distance across a classroom or the hallways, not like the jealousy that comes every time she hooks back up with Jackson. Jackson… Lydia suddenly did not want to talk about Jackson. Stiles was looking at her like a something that he could indulge in if he had time, a small, light hearted fancy that currently he has no patience for. Lydia swallowed. "Is your dad at work?" She managed to inquire with a light voice.

It was apparently the wrong thing to say by the way his eyes, amber in the setting sun, closed off all access, a barrier slowly constructing over his normally expressive face. "Yeah," he replied haltingly, fingers curling around the baseball bat, borrowed from Scott, she observed, judging by the McHall's signature scrawled in permanent marker at the side. The bat is old, Stiles probably has had it for years. "Work." He's lying.

They made quite a dynamic pair- two of them: the girl who once ruled and the boy who once loved her.

"Enough about me- I know that you're here because you want something, Lydia Martin. Let me guess, Whittemore? Don't try to hide it." Stiles cut through the silence with a grin that was distinctly wolf-like. "Talk to me."

If one were to ask Stiles what happened when he was ten, he would give the questioner a blank look, not because he didn't want to discuss it and confront it (after all, there were reasons why he never bothered fighting all the therapists that his dad had been throwing his way), but that he couldn't remember due to a complete suppression of bad memories. If one were to ask how the Sheriff about that year, he also wouldn't be able to say much because he also couldn't remember: whiskey tends to do that to people who drink in excess.

The death of Mrs. Stilinski wasn't fast; the onset diagnosis was a year prior when Stiles was nine, announced by a small, innocuous, unusual mark on the MRI. The next few months was a rush of treatment and chemo, bills coming in through the mail, the Sheriff worked overtime to compensate, Stiles visited his mother every day, sitting at her feet and trying to look up the words "abnormal growth" on the internet. Between the three of them, the family held onto a concept called "Hope" because there were such things in the world as "remission" and "cancer survivors".

One day, after a blood test, the doctors pulled the Sheriff into an adjoining room and spoke in low tones of "metastasis", "new aggressive regiments", and "projected time left".

On that day, "Hope" shattered. After that, Stiles willfully forgets.

Maybe he had shaved his head at one point and never looked back. Maybe he kept visiting the lonely figure curled under the hospital sheets. Maybe he remembered to bring a pack of pocket tissues for every time his mom cried. Maybe he had clenched onto a bone-white hand as the heart monitor slowed. Maybe he waited, playing with his mother's hand, even as the nurses came in to record the time of death. Maybe there was a funeral. He recalled holding hands with his dad when they lowered the casket. He couldn't remember seeing his dad anywhere after that. The house was empty. He talked to strangers; he was silent around friends. Most friends stopped being friends. Bad memories were best left alone, buried into a small mental box and crushed beyond recognition.

Still, the haze in his head had to disappear eventually.

He comes to his senses standing in the frozen dinner section of Foodmaxx staring at the sodium count on one of the LeanCuisines (tuna casserole) thinking: When was the last time we made food? Didn't the doctor warn dad about the family history of stroke and heart disease? When did he say that? Yesterday? A few weeks ago? How much time has passed? And honestly, the only thing worse than having one parent dead is having two parents dead. At ten years old (his eleventh birthday was only a month away but nobody will be celebrating), Stiles Stilinski fell to the tile floors of Foodmaxx, clenching onto the wheels of his shopping cart and a small wad of money that his dad had left on the kitchen counter (he hasn't seen his dad in months, only catching glimpse of his back, more often than not, his police cruiser on the curb and his empty bottles of whiskey on the kitchen counter), and started bawling.

He later pulled himself together because there was no one else to do it for him.

Everybody says that growing up is hard: nobody says that it would be painful. He sliced himself trying to sharpen the kitchen knives, took off the tips of his fingers trying to chop vegetables, and broke dishes and glass tumblers trying to scrub them with the wrong side of the sponge. He still has a scar in the skin between his right thumb and forefinger where a gash had formed when he had tried to pick out the glass bits from the dispenser: minimal blood, though it stretched morbidly when he worried it. He learned that vinegar and his own spit works best with blood stains. He recognized the miracles of washing laundry loads with cold water, to separate lights from darks, to never put dress shirts in the drier. He learned that mixing bleach and chlorine does not make a good bathroom cleaner. He learned how to refill his Adderall prescription. He learned a lot.

The best hangover for dad was tomato juice and a full English breakfast. Dad goes to sleep in a drunken haze between one and two in the morning; the Sheriff goes to work at seven on the dot, earlier if its particularly bad day. It takes forty minutes to walk to school: fifteen if jogging.

Nobody asks because nobody cares. Half a year goes by.

But then it ends.

One night, as he was wrestling through a book report on Comparing and Contrasting the Meaning of Companionship and Love between A Wrinkle in Time and Lord of the Flies at eleven at night, both books and post-it notes scattered across the kitchen table, he heard his dad stumbling through the door with a wild-look in his eyes. Stiles glanced up, chewing on the eraser end of his pencil, wondering if he's looking at the Sheriff or dad. "Stiles?" His dad asked.

"Dad?" Stiles blankly replied, legs swinging and kicking underneath the table, "I thought your shift doesn't end till one."

His dad (not the Sheriff) walked over to his side, pulled up a chair, sat down, and hugged him. Stiles inhaled: he couldn't smell any alcohol. "It's doesn't." You're all alone. It's been too long. I'm back. You shouldn't have to balance the world on your shoulders.

"It's OK," Stiles attempted to sooth, awkwardly rubbing circles into his dad's shirt, social skills diminished since his own self-flagellation and exile, "I got used to it."

His dad started crying.

Eventually, both of them get better.

Somewhere in his soul, there's a mom-sized hole, gaping wide, creating a sort of whistling noise if he runs too fast. He can't remember much about his mom because every memory of his mom eventually goes back to the memory of his mom dying. Mom used to be the world; now there is only dad. They live in a sad mom-less world and in that world, there used to be just Stiles, now there is Stiles and dad.

Eventually, the world gets better.

Still, scars run deep: so deep that Stiles fundamentally changes what used to make up Stiles. He grows a bit crueler, his jokes have a sharper edge that on good days can make even Jackson back off. He becomes practical, really practical.

There are two types of people in the world: those he love and those that he gives zero fucks if they live or die. There is a small circle of people that Stiles cares about, that Stiles will fiercely protect with his life that continuously cycle through as some come and some leave and some die. At the top of that list, above all others, is his dad.

The taste of Argent was one so potent that mouthwash would never be able to destroy: it coated his fangs and his tongue where Gerard's blood dripped down his throat in small rivulets; he could feel the ghost hairs of the man's arms on his skin, he could taste the lingering remnants of mountain ash. Outwardly, Derek was retreating from the convulsing man, as a familiar blue jeep crashed into the side of the warehouse, barreling into the Kanima. Outwardly, Derek was coolly assessing the damage and pulling Stiles out of the wreckage as Lydia Martin leaped out from the passenger side and made her way over to Jackson. Inwardly, Derek was still reeling from Scott's betrayal.

Didn't Scott say without even the slightest hitch in his heart beat that he wanted to be a part of Derek's pack, that pooling resources together was the only way to stop the Kanima's master? Why would Scott willfully choose hunters of his own kind over his kin?

Wolves don't turn on wolves.

"Derek?" Derek's eyes flickered to his two wayward Betas crawling out of the jeep's backseat and gave them both the slightest nod of acknowledgement which is far more than he should be giving them. In a normal situation, Betas never willingly leave their Alpha, Alphas never allow Betas to leave without some sort of shaming brand. In more extreme cases, the Betas forfeit their lives. In a normal situation, Omegas never return. Derek's eyes return back to the mess of a human he has in his arms, as he slowly lowered him to the floor, smelling of blood and medication… "Derek?"

He snaps his attention back to the wolves, clearly irritated, "What?"

Omega-status changes Erica and Boyd from confident Betas to one with hunched shoulders and down casted eyes: submission isn't a good look for either of them. It seemed like it was just yesterday that Derek took Erica on a trip to the local mall in an attempt to build her from the bottom up, dressing her in a cropped leather jacket because that's what Laura favored (the short skirts and the low cut shirts was all Erica), that Derek listened to Boyd detail the mechanical inner workings of his beloved Zamboni. It seemed like yesterday that Erica had brashly attempted to seduce her way into consolidating her status as head Beta or better yet, one half of an Alpha pair, only for Derek to hand Boyd the former position. Things have changed drastically since then. "Derek," Erica stood so close that even without lifting his head, he could see her boots at the edge of his peripheral vision, "We had to leave." Derek stiffens. Had to leave. Had. Erica's heartbeat did not change: the statement distressed him more than he would admit.

"Hey now," Stiles protested, trying to bat off Derek's roaming hands as the Alpha does inventory on the various injuries that he had somehow sustained and trying to make him smell less of Argent. They all reek of Argent. That's the crux of it isn't it? Everything boils down to Argent. Everything has been about Argent since Kate destroyed everything: since Gerard and Chris and Allison. The family had been following his shadow for way too long – it's a wonder that he's still alive. Derek gritted his teeth, staring ahead at nothing. "Don't get mad at them. I brought them here; they didn't want to leave me, yeah?" Stiles stopped Derek from lifting his shirt up all the way, "Hands off. Stop freaking out. I can walk."

"You're hurt," Derek said.

Stiles winced when Derek's hand skims over his bruised collarbone, "So I am. I'm fine. I'll get better." Using his jeep as leverage, Stiles heaved himself into a standing position, testing his legs and reaffirming their capabilities. Derek also straightened with him, hand never letting go of Stiles' arm.

Derek let out a heavy sigh full of frustration and anger, "You shouldn't be hurt. I should've protected you: you're pack." The unspoken part was: Erica and Boyd aren't pack.

There seemed to be some kind of communication issues between him and Stiles, if the surprised, open-mouth, fish-eyed look was to mean anything. For what it's worth, Stiles didn't even have time to compute that sentence before Erica gave her quick rebuttal. "It wasn't safe!" She yelled, voice bordering on hysterical and pained, as though the Alpha's rejection of her was like a knife to the gut. "I couldn't stay!"

"And now you're back because the danger is gone? That's not how pack works. I gave you the warnings!" Derek turned around, giving an accusing glare to both, feeling slight vindication when Boyd flinches back, "Hunters, supernatural creatures, the control, the responsibilities of guarding the Ley Line- everything."

"No you didn't! You didn't warn us what would happen when Boyd and I…" Erica fidgeted, drawing attention to the hand resting on her stomach. She wilted, "The condom broke because…" Then she made a complicated, obscene gesture with her fingers, face flushing in patches to match the shade of her lipstick. The comprehension smacked Derek across the face like an electric wave; Stiles' stiffened against the jeep, clarity in his eyes.

"Werewolves knot?" Stiles asked faintly. "Like on Animal Planet? This is a thing?"

"Only for mates," Derek muttered, running a hand through his hair, telling himself that he was going to be the adult here and approach this topic maturely.

"Mates?!" Stiles parroted.

"It's a rare pairing between two people with a strong compatibility of scent and personality that inspires a soul-connection, an acceptance of both human and wolf. There are some," Derek grimaced, "physical side effects not limited to sexual-."

"Oh my god. This cannot be another sex talk. Say no more," Stiles groaned, face-palming, "Please."

Derek rolled his eyes before turning his attention back to the wolves, "Why didn't you tell me?" He demanded, "Did you think that I wouldn't protect you and your child?"

Erica used her arms to shield her body, "I was scared. There were so many hunters out there and there was Argent and Beacon Hills was starting to smell like wolfsbane, like it was going to settle and become permanent." Derek took a step forward and enclosed her into a hug, breathing in the scent of pack and pack mates; seconds later, Boyd joined the fold. "I couldn't stay. My pup wouldn't survive even for a day. If I'm vulnerable and if Gerard finds out and if he was still the principal…" She shuddered, "I didn't know. I'm sorry," she said miserably.

"I'm sorry too," Derek whispered back as the frail bond between Betas and their Alpha began to repair. "I should've…" He paused and swallowed. Given more time, I probably could've smelled it. I would've supported you. I would've given alternatives. Mates are a blessed pair.

"It's not your fault," Boyd said hoarsely, drawing his mate into a hug, a protective hand hovering above her abdomen, "It wasn't your fault. You said that it was rare." His eyes flashed blue.

"Nothing about this pack is normal. There are whole communities that might never meet their other half. The chances of having not one but two pairs in a newly formed pack shouldn't even exist, let alone three," Derek answered, giving his surroundings a cursory look, aiming a pointed glare at Jackson and Lydia's loving reunion, brushing shoulders with Stiles whose attention seems to be drawn elsewhere. Erica didn't miss the small exchange, raising a telling eyebrow as her own eyes flashed blue, looking at the space between him and Stiles. Derek bared his teeth but the threat wasn't made seriously; Erica huffed and buried her face into Boyd's neck.

Derek bumped Stiles' arm to get his attention, careful to avoid any surfacing bruises. Stiles still didn't notice: he was busy cataloging all that he saw and his reactions to them were telling and insightful. When he saw Lydia and Jackson wrapped around each other, his shoulders slumped inwardly as he allowed himself a great sigh. The sight of Peter caused him to involuntarily step back into Derek's personal space, one hand reaching up to brush the skin of his inner wrist. The edge of his jaw began to develop a tick when he saw Isaac laying at Peter's feet, still recovering from Allison's knife wounds coated in wolfs bane but his eyes softened back to their usual amber. Surprisingly, Scott warranted an unreadable look, nearly bordering on anger. The Argents received a quick vitriol of hate, to Derek's pleasure.

"It's being different and never too different from one another." Lydia's voice drowns out the sounds from the radio, already on its lowest volume setting: her voice pitches at a lower tone than her 'daily setting' which had a slight twang of authoritarianism aimed towards everyone in the school. "Jackson plays lacrosse but he has Danny as his best friend; he's not dumb but he has no leadership skills what-so-ever. I have talents and aspirations that don't match up with him: I don't play sports, I don't have close friends, I want to be recognized outside of this town." She giggles, "But we match, don't you see?"

Stiles wordlessly nods and his fingers tap restlessly on the wheel. This has got to be one of the most awkward car rides ever. Stiles couldn't help himself from checking on Boyd and Erica in the back seat, sleeping from exhaustion, the two of them mixed so well together that it was hard to see where one ended the other began. On his seventh glance in the review mirror, Lydia cranes her neck back.

"It's like those two," she whispers quietly, turning back around to once again stare out the passenger window, "Complementary colors like red and green, blue and orange, opposites and yet matching. There's a certain dichotomy between couples of the push and pull where you share some things and you revel in the differences. You don't see it at first, but they match so well together, like blue and orange. It's how love works." Lydia's hand tightens around the straps of her purse, high quality leather brand, matching her red nails and her lipstick, contrasting with the soft pink of her shirt. Her hand goes up to flick a curled strand of hair out of her eyes, "Erica and Boyd. Jackson and I. Allison and Scott."

("Scott hates being a werewolf," Gerard had told him, digging a heel into Stiles' sternum until he gasped. "He told me that the Bite kept him from everything that he needs." Stiles's hands weakly wrapped themselves around the man's ankles, fruitlessly trying to pull them off. It takes seven pounds to break the collarbone; he doesn't want to know how much it takes to break all of his ribs with a clean stomp.)

"Make him see everything that you told me then," Stiles advises, turning smoothly onto another street, "I don't think he can sense that connection if he feels this alone." Erica shifts in her sleep: her wounds have just about to disappear.

"But he's not alone," Lydia insists, "He has me. He'll always have me."

("Allison still loves Scott; Allison just wants to kill Derek Hale. It's not the best situation because Derek Hale isn't the only werewolf out there: but I can work with baby steps," Gerard had said, giving one last hard kick to the ribs. "Scott thinks that he'll always have Allison. Hope is a wondrous thing, Mr. Stilinski. Because of hope, Scott talks to me. Does he talk to you?")

"Then tell him that."

"No Stiles," Allison said as calmly as she could, with her crossbow raised halfway up, not aiming at Stiles' heart but not really in its resting position.

Stiles, whose gaze has been fixated on the mess of her grandpa crawling along the floor leaving a trail of black sludge in a trail behind him, dripping from his chin to wherever he touched, looked up with a hint of mocking condensation, as though she has no right to be demanding things from him, and she doesn't for a variety of reasons but that doesn't mean that he should revert to… Stiles was swinging a baseball bat in long sweeping motions along the floor like a pendulum, looking every part of a predator stalking its prey. Stiles frowned, "Put down your weapon, dude. It would suck to take an arrow to the knee." Behind him and off to the right stood Derek Hale, the werewolf she had sworn to kill, with his eyes fixated on Allison as if daring her to release the spring mechanism, eyes flickering between his usual green to his Alpha red.

"Not until you put down yours," She raised her crossbow up as if aiming, careful to keep clear of the trigger. Derek growled low enough that she could feel it in her ribs. An Alpha's warning is something that even non-pack members should heed and think over with extreme caution. Stiles made an aborted gesture to look back but ended up popping joints in his shoulder. "What are you planning to do?"

"Nothing much," Stiles shrugged, "an eye for an eye. You should know how much he owes me, Erica and Boyd, you saw." He closed one eye, touched the edge of his mouth at his split lip and pulled down the collar of his shirt to reveal a myriad of bruises, botches and patchworks, some that look like fingers wrapped around his throat. "You saw everything and did nothing." A lazy smile crawled its way across his face, "I think you even enjoyed it, saw it like an opening number."

"But that means that you wouldn't kill him," Allison said, not affirming nor denying his accusation, feeling the gaze of her father on her back, seeing Scott's horrified stare, Peter Hale's amusement, Isaac's whimper, Jackson and Lydia's unreadable expressions, the Betas' hackles rising and Derek's eyes slowing bleeding red. She's read the stories from the Argent libraries, heard first-hand accounts from Gerard about the consequences of inviting the wrath of an Alpha werewolf, especially when it concerns his or her mate. "The Code." She doesn't know why she's doing this, why she has this urge to explain herself to someone that she had passed off as her boyfriend's best friend. But she needs someone to understand: the itch was desperate, she needed someone to see her side.

"You didn't follow the Code," Stiles impatiently tapped the end of his bat on the floor, walking over to the half-formed Kanima. He used a foot to gingerly roll Gerard onto his back and surveyed him.

"I did. I'm only here for Derek," Allison breathed out, "He killed my mother. I want to avenge her death; I'm not here for anyone else but anyone else who tries to stop me will be put down," she gestured at the werewolves, "with extreme prejudice."

To her surprise, Stiles laughed. If he wasn't injured, he would've been reduced to full out hysterics but instead he was reduced to grins and the silent shaking of his shoulders. Before she could demand a reason, he managed to contain himself, "So the benefits of being in between packs," he began, balancing a careful foot on the kanima's thigh, away from claw's reach, "is that I hear every side of the story. You aren't that lucky. Did your grandpa tell you that Derek killed your mom?" He peered down at the old Argent and added more weight to his foot, "Mr. Argent? Did you tell your gullible granddaughter that Derek killed Mrs. Argent? Is that what all the Argents want to believe?"

It was a feeling of ice cold water down her back; it was a dreaded knowledge and realization that she had been wrong all along in the face of her convictions and Stiles' easy confidence. "My mom's suicide was because of Derek. What do you think it is?" She asked coldly, boldly, brushing a bit of hair out of her face.

"Easy," Stiles said gaily, making a sweeping gesture to encompass this mess's be-alls and end-alls, "You mom didn't like that you were dating a werewolf and locked that werewolf in a room with wolfs bane gassed in: it'll look like an asthma attack – you would've never known." Allison stole a glance at Scott who in turned flushed and resolutely stared at the ground, chuffing it with the heel of his sneakers. Her heart broke. "But Scott howled and Derek heard and tried to rescue him. Your mom tried to fight back using wolfs bane as a drug and in the confusion Derek bit your mom. So, your mom killed herself… No, no, no, I'm sorry," Stiles rubbed his forehead and ran a flat hand through his buzz cut, "Your mom begged your dad to kill her."

Allison stepped back; the words hurt; she didn't even need proof to believe him because every discrepancy from Gerard's explanation and her mom's suicide letter suddenly made sense, every little inconsistency that she had blindly ignored for the sake of satisfying her 'righteous' fury was explained. She was betrayed by everyone she knew and in turn had betrayed. "Allison," her dad started, reaching towards her shoulder to ground her. She shrugged off his hand and stared at her crossbow.

"Your mom killed herself for purely selfish reasons. At least my mom died trying to fight against her death because she loved her family more so than anything." Stiles leaned over and prodded Gerard's stomach, "Or did you have a hand in that?" He mumbled.

"Clever boy, aren't you?" Gerard replied in a voice that was guttural and deep. Stiles slowly smeared the vomited mountain ash sludge onto the edge of his bat, "You wouldn't dare," the old man hissed.

"I'm just thinking about how you should get your just deserts," Stiles hummed with a hint of gleeful malice.

"Wait, you can't kill him!" Scott protested, jogging over, stopping when Stiles swung the mountain ash tipped bat his way. Scott's eyes widened in shock, "Dude, what gives? I…" He paused seeing the controlled fury in his friend's movements.

"You," Stiles stated with a flat voice, "You don't think that you're going to get away with it do you?" Allison raises her head at the sudden influx of new information, observing Scott's hesitancy with no amount of confusion, "You told Gerard Argent where the police records were in the Sheriff's office. You allowed them to storm my dad's workplace without telling me, without allowing me to warn some people. Five deputies died at the Sheriff Station. You told them that I would be there and that I would know where Derek was." Scott stepped back, wincing at his alacrity, "It's your fault that I was chained up like some prisoner in someone's basement and tortured for information. It's your fault that my dad is in a fucking coma in the fucking hospital!" He was flat out yelling the last words, "The doctors don't know if he's going to wake up! To me, that is as good as dead!"

"Stiles," Scott pleaded, "You don't understand, he was threatening my mom and-"

"And you should have told me," Stiles icily interrupted, "because I could've helped you like I always have. The Sheriff could have helped you build a case. Derek could have helped you. But you didn't choose any of those solutions; you chose to help the one psychotic, bloodthirsty geriatric from here to the other side of Washington! … Scott, you can't do that. Do you know where you leave me?" He rubbed his eyes with his knuckles, exhaustion finally pressing down on his body; the wolves behind Scott began to edge forward. Allison opened her mouth to shout out a warning before she realized that the prey wasn't Stiles but Gerard. "There is no one." Stiles choked out, "I have no one."

It was at this moment that the revelation hits Allison. Of the duo, it was always Scott with the heroic tendencies, the steadfast morals. Stiles is his perfect contrast: sharp, cutting, smart, the mastermind and the one with the ideas to counter their problems. But if Scott cuts ties, if Scott does something so completely unforgiveable, then the ties of friendship are cut. And while Scott has Allison as an anchor, Stiles has Scott. So when Scott is gone... So when Stiles' dad is gone…

Allison doesn't want Stiles to kill. Not because his victim is her grandfather, but that once he has blood on his hands, whatever paradigm shift has occurred- there's no rewind button, and everyone has crossed the Rubicon. But she can't do anything.

Erica edges around Gerard's legs while Boyd inspects his torso, both smiling with a hungry look, baring fangs. Gerard's arm twitches, his claws began to bleed out more venom, but he is still paralyzed. His expression is one of stoic fear like those belonging to prisoners of war waiting for at the executioner's block. Jackson prowls around towards the Argents and bares his teeth, warning them of the consequences should they come to interfere. Allison's dad sighs heavily; Allison refuses to glance back to gauge his reaction. Lydia retreats back to Stiles' jeep. Peter Hale watches from a distance, leaning against one of the warehouse's many support beams, pulling Isaac stumbling to his feet. Allison meets Scott's eyes and silently pleads; Scott curls in on himself and steps back again in a telling gesture that conveys everything that he wants to apologize for. Derek places a hand on Stiles' nape and gently squeezes until more tension seeps out of him, until he's standing like a limp doll looking relaxed and calm (the calm before the storm).

Allison belatedly remembers a lesson that Gerard had given to her on wolf pack dynamics.

The Alpha and the Alpha's mate will take the first round of spoils in any given aftermath of a battle won.

Stiles taps his bat on Gerard's forehead twice and smiles. Derek's features begin to morph.

The wolves howl.

It began with a burst of fear when the hunters storm into the Beacon Hills Sheriff Office. Windows exploded, desks were smashed, file cabinets were thrown to the ground, bullets were aimed high and low and sometimes straight across. Stiles had hit the ground first, of all the victims, due to honed reaction times. His dad fell to the floor from a hit by the end of Gerard's rifle, clutching his head as though in pain, bleeding from a stomach full of fast-round bullets.

Stiles needed to reach his phone to call 911. But as he scrambled to push the talk button, a hunter viciously kicked the phone away, out of reach, and started grinding his fingers with the heel of his boot as punishment. He was taken away by two pairs of hands dragging him roughly away and out the doors as he kicked and struggled, screaming and screaming. Because his dad was unconscious from brain trauma and blood loss and hemorrhaging and… And then…

It began when he saw the pools of blood spreading out from the underside of his dad's unmoving body, from his slow breathing, shallow, and the patterned rise and fall of his chest. It began when Stiles heard about the betrayal that his best friend had initiated to get close to a girl that he claimed to love, having met her for only a few scant months. It began when Stiles got punched by Gerard clean across the face, the first bruise of many and the soft click of manacles circling his wrists and thinks there is no Code. It began when he saw the shadowed figures of his fellow prison-mates. It began when he saw Allison standing by the stairs observing some of the proceedings with absolutely no emotions on her face save for the slight flicker of satisfaction.

Or maybe it started before that. Before Stiles was pulled violently out of the Sheriff Station, his dad managed with his one final burst of strength to turn his head and to reach out. Stiles held onto his bloody hands with trembling fingers, trying to find words to say, assurances that they'll find a way to make it work, an explanation for the shit-fest that's going on. The word "werewolf" was on the tip of his tongue. Instead, his dad squeezed his fingers and whispered before he closed his eyes, "I'm proud of you son, I love you."

Or maybe it started even before that. When his dad walked through the front door and, after months and months of silence, finally saw Stiles, a ten year old boy (nearly eleven) sitting alone in a house, curled up on a chair, doing his homework on the table (a book report on Comparing and Contrasting the Meaning of Companionship and Love between A Wrinkle in Time and Lord of the Flies). His dad saw the dishes in the dishwasher, the stocked refrigerator, the replaced light-bulbs, the spice rack meticulously arranged, the mop leaning against the wall and the clothes in the hamper. And his dad swept Stiles up in a hug, tight and heart-breaking, sobbing into his shirt, saying over and over again, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

And Stiles had patted his dad on the shoulder and said, "anything for you, dad. Anything."

"What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust."
~~ The Waste Land ~~ T.S. Eliot