Pairing: Stiles Stilinski / Derek Hale
Rating: T for canon-typical violence
Word Count: 42,528
Characters: Stiles Stilinski, Derek Hale, Sheriff John Stilinski, Laura Hale, Scott McCall, Erica Reyes, Vernon Boyd, Isaac Lahey, and Original Characters
Summary: Derek hadn't meant to involve Stiles in all this -Stiles who was warm and pliable in his sleep, whose warm, brown eyes reflected light they would never again see, who had a smile brighter than the sun, and who could see Derek when others never did.
heart pounding. drowning out all other sound.
paws hitting packed, moist dirt, disturbing old, fallen leaves.
bushes flung out of the way.
low branches snag at fur, smack against a sensitive muzzle, threaten to scratch golden eyes.
sides ache, chest heaving, life draining.
must keep running.
burst through the underbrush out into the moonlight.
mother moon shining down, illuminating everything in blue.
heart still pounding.
yellow lights in the distance. civilization.
must find somewhere safe. must hide. must heal.
leaves rustle and sticks snap behind.
still being chased.
leap forward. keep running.
just a little further.
just a little further.
so much blood loss.
so tired. so... so tired.
just a little further.
Stiles woke with a start. He sat up straight in bed, heart beating in his ears at such an abrupt awakening. He took a deep breath, and then simply listened. He strained his ears, trying to hear what had woken him. Silence.
After a few more moments of listening, Stiles shrugged to himself and reached over to his alarm clock. He pressed down the large button on the top.
"Three twenty seven AM," sounded a digital voice.
It was overloud in the stillness of the room and Stiles winced, hoping he didn't disturb his father who had to get up in an hour and a half for work. Stiles rubbed his eyes and then over his head. He yawned a big, jaw cracking yawn and laid back down, pulling his covers up to his chin. He sunk down into his pillow, yawning again and closing his eyes.
He was floating, nearly asleep again when he heard it.
A dull thump.
More scratching and some rustling.
Stiles could feel goosebumps prickling his flesh, but he sat back up, pulled off his covers, and got out of bed. He would investigate. Trying not to make a sound, Stiles left his bedroom and slowly crept down the stairs.
More rustling and scratching.
Was someone trying to break in? Stiles slunk across the kitchen toward the noise. It sounded a little like an animal scratching at something. Perhaps a small critter had gotten in the house and was trying to escape.
"Please don't be a rat," whispered Stiles to the darkness as he crossed the kitchen.
The noise was coming from the front door. So, nope, no animals stuck in the house. Was someone really stupid enough to try to break into the sheriff's house? Maybe it was just Scott. Perhaps he was out with his girlfriend really late, using Stiles as an alibi, and was coming to crash, but lost his keys. Stiles could hope.
Stiles contemplated waking his dad for all of two seconds before deciding against it. He could handle this on his own. If it was Scott, having dropped his keys through the boards of the front deck and trying to reach them, he would be in so much trouble if Stiles' dad found him. If it was just some cat or other small animal, Stiles would feel stupid for having woke his father. Yeah, no, he wasn't going to give his dad reason to fuss over him even more. He would handle this.
Stiles took a deep breath, grabbed his cane where it waited for him leaned against the wall next to the door, and opened the front door.
"What do you think you're doing?" he growled as menacingly as he could muster, hoping the surprise would scare off any ill-intentioned idiots that might be waiting for him on the other side.
Stiles stood ready, muscles tense, an intimidating (he hoped) frown on his face.
It didn't seem like anyone was there.
"You realize this is Sheriff Stillinski's house, right?" he asked the silence, hoping he sounded more menacing than frightened.
Stiles was about to slam the door shut and triple lock the shit out of it when he heard a low whine. I sounded weak and pitiful.
"Hello?" asked Stiles.
Rustling and another whine. Stiles stepped out of the safety of his house. He heard weak whimpers as he crossed the deck. They sounded like they were coming from beneath it.
Stiles stepped down the stairs and sat down on the last one.
"Here boy," he called out softly, figuring the soft whimpers sounded canine.
A soft whine replied. A few seconds later a wet nose pushed into his hand. Stiles nearly fell over in surprise, but did his best to remain still. He didn't want to frighten the animal.
"Are you hurt?" he asked, petting a hand over the dog's head.
The dog pressed into him, its entire body shaking.
"Aw, you poor guy," said Stiles, petting him in earnest, then, as the dog kept pressing closer and closer.
It winced when he pet over its left side. Stiles drew his hand back. It felt wet. He frowned, hoping it was just mud, but fairly certain he knew exactly what it was. He bit his lip. He couldn't just leave the poor thing out to die. He couldn't see to assess the dog's state, and he probably shouldn't bring the thing into the house. He should go get his dad.
What if the dog ran away when he went back inside? What if it ran to someone else's porch to die under? If he could just keep the dog safe and contained until the morning, he could take it to the vet where Scott worked.
"You're not rabid, right?" asked Stiles, as if the dog would tell him. "You're not going to destroy my house or kill us in our sleep, right?"
The dog set its head on his lap and let out a soft sigh. It broke Stiles' heart a little bit.
"Yeah, okay, you can come in with me, but you gotta promise not to do anything stupid, capice?"
He had been anticipating something a little more climactic when he had let the large dog into the house. So, it was a relief (and maybe a tadbit of a let down if he were honest with himself) when the dog simply followed him inside, quiet, calm and limping. It flinched when he softly shut the front door, but it stayed at his side. Wherever he went, it followed; its head bumping into his legs every so often.
Stiles filled a bowl with water in the kitchen and set it down for the dog. It greedily lapped the bowl dry, making a mess of water droplets on the floor all around the bowl. He filled the bowl with water a second time. While he waited for it to finish drinking, he considered what to do with it next. Should he try to bathe it? It was probably tracking mud and blood in the house. Where would he have it sleep?
The vet opened at 8:00 AM, but if Stiles were lucky, he might be able to get Scott to go in a little early. They could kennel the dog and leave a note about it for Deaton. Even so, that still left a handful of hours for Stiles to deal with the dog on his own. He could call Scott right away, but the guy was dead to the world when he slept, there would be no waking him until he had to get up for school.
The dog finished and Stiles put the bowl in the sink, rinsing it out and throwing the dish towel on the floor to mop up the spilled water. As he did so, he was hit with the thought that muddy dog prints on the floor would easily alter his father to their furry house guest when he got up for work later. Stiles tiptoed across the kitchen to the pantry closet and pulled out their Swiffer® mop. Starting at the front door, he quickly mopped over the entire expanse of floor before putting the mop away again. Hopefully, he got everything.
Stiles moved toward the stairs, hearing the dog padding irregularly behind him. It amazed him that the thing would simply follow him around the house, but obviously it wasn't as feral as its currently condition would suggestion. When he was halfway up the stairs, Stiles heard a soft whine and paused mid-step. The dog was no longer at his heels. Stiles went back down the stairs and found the dog sitting at the base of the staircase, one of his front paws resting on the first step.
"Too sore to go up?" asked Stiles in a whisper.
He considered carrying the dog up the stairs, but he could tell it was quite big and would definitely be heavy. Not to mention his self preservation instincts (and yeah, okay, Stiles could definitely apprehend the irony of him even thinking about self preservation instincts considering his life choices over the past fifteen minutes) told him it wasn't exactly a good idea to grab a large, sore, unfamiliar dog around the torso and attempt to pick it up.
"Okay, Dude," said Stiles in a low voice as he bent down to the dog's level (which was alarmingly not that far down) as if to give it a little pep talk, "I totally get that you're hurt and that sucks, but if you wanna stay here, you are gonna have to go up these stairs. I can't have you down on the main floor when Dad gets up for work. You gotta hide in my room... and my room is upstairs... hence... the... stairs. So, can you give it a try for me, big guy?"
Stiles petted a hand over the dog's neck and shoulder as he spoke. He winced as his hand came into contact with more moisture that could be either gooey mud or sludgy blood -neither seemed like that great an option. He straightened and walked up the first two steps before pausing to beckon the dog to follow. There was a soft groan and the sound of movement before Stiles could sense the warm body of the dog next to him. He grinned and walked up three more steps. The dog followed.
He really wanted to do a fist pump when he and the dog had made it to the top of the staircase, but some rustling from his father's room had Stiles freezing in place instead. He listened hard, his ears straining. After a few beats of silence, Stiles caught a few mumblings of his dad obviously talking in his sleep before more rustling like the man was rolling over in the bed. Stiles was relieved his father wasn't awake, but his heart did a painful squeeze in his chest when he recognized his and his mother's names in his father's mumbled dialogue. He hoped his father wasn't dreaming of the night of the accident and resolutely pushed that to the back of his mind, filling his head with thoughts of the dog, instead.
Even though the dog stunk and he could feel how dirty it was when he touched its filthy fur, Stiles decided against attempting to bathe the animal. Really, he would only be asking for trouble if he tried such a thing. Instead, he grabbed some old towels and a camping blanket out of the hall closet on his way to his room.
The dog followed closely, nearly tripping him a few times when it got underfoot. Stiles set the the raggy linens in a pile in the corner of his room near his bed.
"You can sleep here," he whispered to the dog.
It sat down next to him and let out a soft sigh.
"Hey, I will bet you my life savings that it is more comfortable than huddling in the dirt under my deck," said Stiles, feeling indignant that the dog wasn't more appreciative of the nest he had made him. Then he realized he was personifying the dog and felt like a moron. "Okay, whatever, I'm exhausted, so I'm going to bed," he said to the dog, before climbing into his bed.
The dog was quick to follow.
Stiles squawked when the dog climbed on top of him. The dog was a lot larger and heavier than he had anticipated, nearly knocking the wind out of him when one of its big, front paws landed on his belly.
"Oh my g... okay, seriously? You couldn't handle the stairs, but you can jump onto my bed? I did not invite you up here," wheezed Stiles. "You better not be getting it all dirty with your nasty dirtiness."
The large dog stepped around Stiles' limbs a few times, turning in circles and circles on the centre of Stiles' bed, before it finally laid down next to him. It took up a lot of room, even curled tightly in a ball, but there was no moving it. With a frustrated sigh, Stiles curled around the dog, trying to find as much square footage on the bed for himself as possible, and closed his eyes to allow sleep to take him. He was so tired.
Just as he was drifting to sleep, he had a distant thought of the large wolf/dog/Derek/canine that had led him through the woods months before. He didn't have the presence of mind to wonder at the similarities between the animals, but later he'll console himself by saying that at least he had thought it.
It felt like he had barely been asleep a few minutes when his consciousness began to drift back to him. Stiles refused to let his body move and kept his breaths as even as possible, willing sleep to overtake him again before he woke up completely. Of course, that was when he noticed the warm heat of another body and the pressure of strong arms wrapped around his middle and a heavy leg draped over his own. Stiles tensed, his breath catching in his throat. He did not remember falling asleep with a bedma... wait wait wait... wha... whoooaaa!
"Derek?" questioned Stiles softly even while his heart was attempting to pound through his chest.
His answer came in the form of a sleepy, ridiculously endearing grumble and the tightening of the arms around his middle. He was dragged back a few inches to be completely engulfed by the completely naked cuddle monster behind him.
"Derek," exclaimed Stiles in a strangled voice.
"You're kind of making it hard to breathe, dude," said Stiles, trying to go for nonchallant even though he knew the guy currently being the big spoon to his little could probably feel his pounding heart where they were pressed together.
The man holding him tensed before slowly letting him go.
"Uh, sorry," said Derek, his voice confirming it, sounding confused and embarrassed and completely sexy with his sleep worn voice.
"It's cool," said Stiles, trying to shrug even though he was still pressed pretty close to Derek and they were in a tangle of blankets. Awkward. "So, uh, would you mind explaining to me why you're naked and in my bed?" Stiles kind of figured that he already knew the answer, but he still couldn't quite wrap his brain around the idea of werewolves being real.
Sore but inexplicably safe, Derek was drifting. He was not fully awake or asleep; not completely aware of his surroundings, but not outright unconscious. All he knew was he was warm and comfortable, and he was holding his mate. His mate smelled like safety, like home. He didn't think he'd ever find a home again, not after losing his first, not after losing nearly everyone who made it one. Derek pulled his mate closer, a happy growl rumbling in his chest. Distantly, he heard someone who sounded distressed call his name.
Derek wanted to tense, wanted to sit up with a start, eyes blazing and teeth bared. The last time he had been awoken by someone calling his name hadn't ended well. He forced himself to remain relaxed, though, and took a deep breath through his nose, scenting the air. He smelled no danger, no fear, no panic, just his mate. They were safe, he could have this a little longer.
"Mmmrrff?" he breathed out in response.
"You're kind of making it hard to breathe, dude," squeaked out the person he was holding who was definitely male and definitely Stiles. So, not his mate. Derek tensed.
Was his mind playing tricks on him? Had he wished so hard to be elsewhere, to have a family, to have a home, that he had conjured up the scent? Even though his heart was pounding like a rabbit's, Stiles wasn't scrambling to be free of him, so Derek took a moment to lean in and subtly take a deep whiff for the boy. The smell remained the same, though now he could detect the sharp scent of surprise and confusion, along with a hint of arousal. Huh.
Derek slowly released Stiles.
"Uh, sorry," he murmured, wondering why he was in bed with Stiles now that sleep was clearing from his brain.
"It's cool," replied Stiles, though the squeak in his voice said otherwise. The kid attempted to shrug which was ridiculous because he was laying down. Derek rolled his eyes even while tamping down on his urge to cuddle closer, wrap his arms back around him. "So, uh, would you mind explaining to me why you're naked and in my bed?"
At Stiles' question, Derek's mind instantly began to piece together the events of the past forty eight hours. Panic seized at his throat and Derek let out a soft whimper. A hand touched his shoulder, but it didn't help, it only reminded him of his sister, red-eyed and panicking, shaking him awake in the middle of the night.
"Derek, Derek," she had hissed, nearly cried. "Derek, you need to wake up. The Kellstone pack. They're coming."
The room was permeated with the acrid scent of his Alpha's fear as Derek had watched Laura pace their little kitchen. At her prompting, Derek had called each of the newly turned wolves with instructions that they were to stay away. They were to stay indoors, not to go to school, to shower frequently to keep their wolf smell at bay, and make sure there was always one or two humans nearby. Isaac had sounded frightened at the instructions, Erica was put out, and Boyd had simply asked if his family was in danger and then solemnly agreed.
All they could do was wait.
The day was nearly over, he and Laura were both exhausted from spending it tense in anticipation. Laura had told Derek that other packs would want to claim the land, claim the unmated, young alpha.. He didn't truly understand the level of threat, though... not until now. They were eating supper when the bone-chilling howl of a rival alpha had cut through the air like lightning, raising the hairs on their arms and leaving them buzzing with electricity.
It wasn't long after that all hell broke loose.
Derek had tried to fight. He was no match for any of the wolves in the strong, long-established pack, but he continuously threw himself between the alpha and his sister, unwilling to lose another family member-his last family member. Alpha-inflicted wounds don't heal very easily, and soon Derek was weakened so substantially that he could do little more than take the blows the larger wolf threw at him.
Laura had sent him away, then. She told him to run, to hide, to heal. She told him the others needed someone to guide them. Then she was gone, fleeing North into the depths of the forest. The alpha gave chase, howling victoriously. Derek ran the opposite direction.
He ran harder than he had ever run, faster than he thought possible of him. When he heard movement behind him and realized a few of the wolves had given chase, he knew in no uncertain terms that he was a goner. Some of his wounds were healing, but everything the alpha had inflicted upon him was open and screaming. With wolves on his tail and Beacon Hills still far ahead, he had no hope. Yet, he still ran.
Then, he had caught the scent of something. It came to him on the breeze, as if it knew of his distress and purposely found him. Even in his blind terror, it caught his attention. He had fumbled, nearly fallen, but righted himself before losing his pace. The scent reminded him of safety, of home. He followed it.
...to wake up to Stiles.
Derek inhaled sharply, gulping down breaths of air, tears flooding his eyes. He was sitting, leaning forward, rocking back and forth with emotion. Stiles was sitting beside him, rubbing his back and looking lost and concerned.
"Derek?" questioned Stiles.
Derek let out a small sob.
"It's okay, man," said Stiles, softly, his voice and his touch both comforting and confounding. "You had a panic attack, but you're okay, everything's okay. Breathe."
Derek obeyed. He concentrated on his breathing and Stiles' hand still rubbing circles into his back. Once Derek was finally able to relax his tense muscles, Stiles stilled his hand. Derek took a deep breath and let it out through his nose very slowly.
"Good," whispered Stiles, "you did good."
New tears flooded Derek's eyes. He made sure to keep his back to Stiles, even though he knew the boy wouldn't see either way. They were silent for a few minutes, Derek spending his time concentrating on his breathing so he wouldn't think of anything else and panic all over again. Stiles patiently waited on him. Finally, though, Stiles must have decided he had given Derek long enough.
"So," started Stiles, "I guess that means you..." he trailed off and chuckled self-consciously to himself. It was enough to have Derek turning around to look at him. "Either crazy is contagious, or you actually are what you claim to be."
Derek frowned in confusion, unsure of what Stiles was referring to. Until, that is, Stiles tipped his head back and let out a soft 'Arooo.' Derek rolled his eyes.
"I told you what I was," he said, his voice sounding rough, but, thankfully, fairly even.
"Right, and I was just supposed to believe your claim that you were a mythical, lycanthropic creature," scoffed Stiles.
"Not mythical," argued Derek, solemnly. Why was Stiles so fucking endearing?
He looked at him, then, like really looked at him. The early morning sun was shining in through the window and lit up his eyes as if his irises were golden brown prisms. They were beautiful -warm and beautiful. Derek wished they could focus, could see him.
"Oh, shit," hissed Stiles, suddenly. Derek tensed. "Last night you were hurt. Like, you stank like death. I mean, you still stink, but not like you're dying. Are you... are you okay?"
He reached for Derek, as if wanting to see for himself that Derek was okay, that his wounds were healed. They weren't, but they had started the process. Derek shuddered when Stiles' fingertips brushed over his bare side.
"Shit," Stiles swore again, as if he only just realized Derek was naked and he was practically fondling him. Derek couldn't help the small grin that pulled at the corner of his mouth when he saw how pink Stiles turned. "Sorry," Stiles mumbled, putting some space between them.
Derek hated the space between them.
"Are you okay?" asked Stiles, nearly whispering. His head was bowed and his fingers were playing with the fabric of his quilt. Derek could hear his heart pounding, but there was no fear in it. He liked that. He didn't want Stiles to fear him.
"I'll live," answered Derek, eventually. "For now," he tacked on under his breath.
Stiles nodded, his jaw tightening as if he were silently giving himself some sort of pep talk. Then he crawled out of bed, walking stiff-legged across the room to his dresser.
"I need a shower, and you...you definitely need a shower," he said, his back turned to Derek as he rifled through his clothes. "Then I need to wash my bedding because I'm pretty sure it is covered in all sorts of nastiness that I don't even want to know about."
Derek looked down at the quilt laying partially over his legs, not really covering any key parts, but it wasn't like Stiles could see. The quilt was covered in dirt and blood. There were twigs and grass, leaves and crusty, broken cakes of mud all through the bedding.
"Sorry," muttered Derek.
"Don't worry about it, we'll Shout® it out," replied Stiles with a wry smile. Derek tensed in surprise, not having expected Stiles to actually hear him. The average human wouldn't have.
"Okay, I'm guessing you need some clothes," said Stiles a few awkward beats later. "I don't really know what size you are, but I'm thinking you're a bit bigger than... uhh.. I mean..."
Stiles was blushing again. If it were a better situation, Derek would be highly amused and definitely pleased by the mixture of embarrassment and arousal wafting toward him from Stiles' person. He wasn't able to really enjoy the sexual tension, though, not with the pain he was in... not with the fear for his sister that clenched at his chest.
He swung his feet over the side of the bed and hissed at the movement. There were both sharp and dull pains wracking his body. The sharp pains, he was accustomed to. The dull aches, though, they were a constant pain grating on his nerves and making him feel stiff and unsure of his own body. It was infuriating. He wasn't used to it, his wounds normally healing so fast that he didn't have to deal with it for more than a few seconds at a time.
Stiles was still babbling about showers and clothes. The boy was being great about not asking Derek the thousands of questions Derek knew had to be bouncing around his mind. It was probably the panic attack Derek had had earlier-which he would save until later to be monumentally mortified over-that had Stiles deciding to momentarily spare him. He was probably waiting to bombard him later, giving him some time to gather his wits. Derek didn't want to answer questions. Derek didn't want a shower, or to wait while Stiles raided his fathers room to find clothes that would better fit him. Derek needed to find his sister.
"Stay out of the woods," spoke Derek gruffly, cutting Stiles off mid-rant about water pressure in Beacon Hills. Stiles looked at him in confusion, his mouth hanging open.
"Um...okay?" he said a few beats later. "I mean, I really wasn't planning on going for a hike through them or anything, but now you kind have captured my curiosity. It's like Simba and everything the light touches, you know? Like, what about that shadowy place over there? You must never go there..."
Derek shook his head at Stiles who was doing poor impressions of cartoon characters for whatever reason. He lowered himself to the floor and turned back into his wolf. His bones creaking and snapping into place, painfully. His body didn't want to shift when it was still so sore.
Stiles paused in his dialogue, then.
"What...?" he questioned, as if unsure of what to even ask.
Derek took a few steps forward and bumped his nose into the boy's wide hand. His hands made him think of a wolf cub, too big for the rest of him, waiting to be grown into.
"Whoa," squeaked Stiles in surprised. Derek scented, expecting fear or repulsion to mix into Stiles' scent, but it didn't. Derek licked at Stiles' hand and Stiles breathed in sharply before letting out an awkward chuckle.
Then, Derek turned and jumped out the open window.
Stiles knew it wasn't really any of his business. Well, he could argue that Derek made it his business by showing up at his door at ass-o'clock in the morning all beat up and whimpering- but, okay, at the end of the argument, the fact would remain that whatever was going on in Derek's mythical world, it didn't really concern Stiles. Derek might have shown up needing help and sanctuary, but he was gone again and Stiles had no idea what was going on, how to contact him or why he should.
Guuh, how would a normal person react to the situation?
...they wouldn't because a normal person wouldn't be flung into said situation. No, Stiles was a special kind of awkward and unlucky that was reserved only for the truly damned by mother nature herself.
Maybe he could pretend like nothing out of the ordinary had happened and just go about his life as usual. He could just get ready for school and head out with Scott like normal, perhaps be on the lookout for Derek in the case they crossed paths, but not seek him out. Life as usual, whatever.
You don't show up at Stiles Stilinski's house smelling five minutes away from death (gross, just, gross) in the form of a wolf (seriously what the fuck!?) and then expect him to stay out of your business.
Stiles crossed the room and leaned out his bedroom window. He could hear the sounds of the town slowly coming to life. Cars were driving their owners to work, people greeted each other on their way, a dog or two barked. It was soft and peaceful, not loud and chaotic like a large city. And there was definitely no one shrieking over a wolf sighting. Yeah, Derek was long gone.
Stiles took a deep breath, letting his cheeks chipmunk out as he tried to think of his next move. Something was definitely going down. There must be some sort of 'big bad' in town. Maybe some sort of epic Twilight showdown between sparkly vampires and sexy werewolves was underway. Perhaps he should design 'Team Derek' t-shirts to sell. He would have to recruit Scott to help him; they could make a killing.
Stiles let out his breath in a long exhale.
If there seriously was something big going down, it would end up biting him in the ass, eventually, what with it being a small town and his dad being the Sheriff. It was best if he involved himself from the start (or whatever point this was, maybe it was near the end and he had been as blind as the rest of Beacon Hills to it the whole time). Yeah, and it probably didn't bode well for him that he knew Derek's secret identity.
He guessed it would really depend on if Derek was the hero or the supervillain in the scenario. If Derek was the villain, yeah, Stiles was completely screwed. Pitiful civilians never made it out alive once they were let in on the truth. If Derek was the hero, though... well, if he was the hero, he would probably be like an anti-hero since he didn't exude patriotism or a deep sense of moral obligation. Fuck, Derek was Batman... and he definitely wasn't the Adam West Batman. No, he was more the Christian Bale sort of Batman, which definitely didn't bode well for Stiles knowing his secret identity.
If it were a Tim Burton / Joel Schumacher Batman, all he would have to do to save his hide now that he knew the truth, was find himself an over-the-top costume and come up with some sort of freaky alias. If he chose to be a villain, he might even get some action of the romantic or delicious sexual tension kind. Yeah, okay, no... dying as some little pawn made more sense than actually having a chance with Derek Hale. Hmmm, but... but maybe... maybe he was destined to be a super villain. He had already woken up with a naked Derek twice. That was kind of a pretty good sign that there was a possibility...
Stiles froze as a thought struck him.
"Holy hell," gasped Stiles, laughing in amazement and horror, "Erica is batgirl!"
It all suddenly made sense; the changes in Erica's demeanor, the reason those kids were hanging out with Derek lately, the whole doom and gloom thing. Derek had been gathering a pack! He was getting ready for some big supernatural showdown.
Stiles sat down heavily on his bed.
"Oh man, what kind of shitstorm is this?" he breathed.
Okay, yeah, this was definitely beginning to border the realm of actually being Stiles' business. There was a werewolf in town who was turning teenagers (why just teenagers?) to recruit them for his supernatural pack and, supposedly, there was something worse in town, too. There was something big and bad enough that it could beat up a freaking werewolf.
Stiles shivered. Yeah, so, he needed to be involved. He needed to... warn someone? No one would believe him. What could he do? He definitely was going to have to investigate this whole situation much more thoroughly. First, however, he really did need a shower.
The day passed slowly, Stiles' mind fraught with thoughts of Derek. Isaac wasn't in their shared English class that morning, and by lunch Stiles had learned that Isaac, Erica and Boyd were all missing from school that day.
"The plot thickens," muttered Stiles under his breath.
"What?" asked Scott from across the cafeteria table.
"Oh, I just..." stammered Stiles, startled by Scott bringing him out from his thoughts. He chewed on his bottom lip for a moment before leaning forward across the table and dropping his sandwich back down in its container. "Okay, so... hey, do you want to play Nancy Drew with me?"
"What?" asked Scott, sounding confused and a little apprehensive. Yeah, it did kind of sound weird now that it was said out loud, but still... Stiles rolled his eyes.
"I have a mystery to solve," explained Stiles, knowing it was a little vague.
"Cool," said Scott, drawing out the word like he thought Stiles had finally completely lost it.
"Yep," said Stiles, nodding. "So, do you wanna be my Bess Marvin?"
"Your what?" asked Scott.
Stiles let out a put-upon sigh.
"Scott, do you even read?" he asked.
"Yeah, but not books for preteen girls," replied Scott and Stiles couldn't help but laugh.
"Touché, man," he said, shaking his head and grinning. "Touché."
"So, what's the mystery?" asked Scott between bites of his french fries.
Stiles pursed his lips thoughtfully, his mind going over their options. Really, he only had one idea, though.
"We need to go to the Hale house," he said.
"What? Why?" asked Scott.
"There's something going on, Scott," said Stiles cryptically, unsure if anyone nearby was paying attention. "We gotta find Derek."
"Uh, okay," answered Scott. "I guess we can swing by there after school on the way home."
"No, we gotta go right away," said Stiles, shaking his head and reaching out to fiddle with his brown paper lunch bag. "I don't know what's going on, but I'm positive that it's time sensitive."
"So, what, yo want us to skip the rest of the day?" asked Scott. "There's no way that'll work with your aid waiting on you. They'll be calling your dad right away."
"I'll tell them I'm sick and you're taking me home," said Stiles, shrugging. It wasn't so hard to get out of school for the day, Scott was just being stubborn because he didn't want to get involved. Oh, if he only knew just what it was that Stiles was trying to get them involved in.
Scott let out a sigh.
"I don't think it's a good idea, Stiles," he said. "I think we should stay at school. Maybe after, if you still wanna go, we can swing by."
"No, nope," said Stiles, getting ready for a fight. "We're going."
"We really aren't," replied Scott, sounding angry.
"If you won't come, I'll go myself," said Stiles, grinding his teeth.
Scott scoffed which Stiles had kind of expected, but it still made his hackles rise.
Wordlessly, Stiles packed up the remains of his lunch and left the table. He angrily left the cafeteria. Scott found him just as he was closing his locker, his sweater already on and backpack slung over his shoulder.
"You're not really going there on your own," said Scott, though he sounded unsure.
Stiles glared angrily and turned away, sweeping his white cane in an arc in front of him. He could feel Scott's concerned judgement being frowned into his back as he hurried away.
"You'll get lost, again," warned Scott a few moments later, jogging up beside him once he was out the school's front doors and down the steps.
"And just like last time, they'll blame you for not being a good enough babysitter," snapped Stiles, angry at feeling so useless on his own. Scott's footsteps stopped and Stiles immediately felt guilty. He paused. "Scott," he said with a sigh, "I didn't mean-"
"I thought you... I... I said I was sorry..."
Stiles turned back to Scott.
"I'm sorry," said Stiles. He rubbed a hand over his face and groaned. "I just need to do this, Scott. I need to find Derek."
"Stiles," said Scott, his hand gently taking hold of Stiles' bicep. "What's going on?"
"It's Derek, okay?" answered Stiles, feeling frustrated. "It's always been Derek. He found me in the woods, he met-"
"Wait, I thought your dad did?" cut in Scott, sounding even more confused.
"Derek did first," explained Stiles. "He showed me to the road and... uh, waited with me until someone came."
"Someone being your dad," chipped in Scott, the gears in his head obviously turning as if he were trying to re-piece his understanding of the last few months together. Stiles nodded. "Why didn't you tell me before? That must have been why your dad had invited him over for dinner, right? To thank him?"
"No, Dad doesn't know about that," said Stiles.
"Um, Stiles, you're not making any sense."
Stiles groaned in frustration, raising his arms to flail them in show of just how exasperated he was. Scott had no choice by to let go his arm.
"The point, Scott, is that Derek's in trouble," he said before turning away to continue walking. "I need to find him."
"What..." said Scott, before jogging after Stiles again, "What do you mean 'he's in trouble'? Why not just call your dad? Call the police?"
"No," said Stiles, simply, but firmly, because no, just no. He kept walking at his brisk pace. Scott trotted after him.
"If you promise you'll actually explain what's going on, I'll drive you," he said, sounding resigned.
Stiles stopped, his face breaking out into a grin.
"I could kiss you!" he exclaimed.
"Please don't,?" said Scott weakly. "People already wonder about us."
"What?" exclaimed Stiles in surprise, "they think we have a Bert and Ernie kind of friendship? Is that what you mean, Scott?"
"Yeah," groaned Scott.
Stiles guffawed. Scott grumbled.
"Dude, don't even start," said Stiles, laughing and shaking his head. "You know you want a piece of this," he said as he gestured at himself with his free hand and gave his hips a little thrust.
"Yeah... no," said Scott after making a fake gagging sound.
"Rude," pouted Stiles before a thought struck him. "Wait, what does Allison think about that?"
"She thinks it's funny and... cute. She thinks we're cute," he said sounding miserable about it and horrified that he had admitted it outloud.
"Pfft, of course we are!" exclaimed Stiles, throwing an arm around Scott's shoulders. "We exuuuude cuteness. We're freaking adorable! If you looked up cute in the dictionary, there would be two photos beside it. One would be of a basket of fluffy little kittens and the other would be a picture of us hugging."
Scott was muttering curses under his breath, saying something about regretting his life choices. Stiles couldn't help but laugh. They walked together out to Scott's old beater of a car in the school parking lot, Stiles feeling a bit lighter knowing he had his best friend by his side.
They were halfway to the Hale property where it bordered the Beacon Hills Preserve when Scott pressed for more information.
"What makes you think something's wrong?" he asked.
Stiles paused in fiddling with the radio dial on the ancient factory stereo to tilt his head toward Scott.
"Well," he started, "Erica, Boyd and Isaac were all missing from school today."
Scott didn't answer right away. Stiles went back to flipping through radio stations. Not many of them came in very well in the dense forest.
"So?" asked Scott, finally.
"What do the three of them have in common?"
Scott was silent again. Stiles turned the dial some more and hummed a sound of victory when he found a station playing something better than classic oldies.
"Derek!" breathed Scott in surprise, suddenly. Stiles had the sudden urge to pat him on the head and give him a cookie. "Wait, why does that mean something's wrong? They could just be having one of their drug dealing gang meetings or whatever, right? Nothing has to be wrong."
"They aren't drug dealers," groaned Stiles, slapping a hand against his forehead and throwing himself back against his seat.
"Okay, but why does it mean something's wrong?" asked Scott.
"I guess it doesn't," said Stiles with a shrug. "Derek showing up at my house in the middle of the night last night all beaten nearly to death does, though."
"What?" exclaimed Scott and the car veered momentarily as if he had jerked the wheel from looking over so sharply at Stiles.
"Oh, yeah," said Stiles, his voice going slightly squeaky, "did I forget to mention that part?"
"What the hell, Stiles?" breathed Scott. Stiles suddenly felt the urge to say 'surprise' while doing jazz hands. "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck," muttered Scott, "what did you get us into?"
Stiles nearly drew blood, he bit his lip so hard. Scott barely ever dropped F-bombs. Four consecutive ones meant it was pretty bad.
"Why didn't you lead with that?" asked Scott.
"Sorry?" answered Stiles with a shrug and sheepish smile.
"Tell me everything!" growled Scott.
So, Stiles didn't actually tell Scott everything; he told him enough that Scott thought he had. He hadn't mentioned werewolves and Derek turning people in order to form a pack. He didn't tell Scott he thought some serious Supernatural shit was going down, either. He figured if he said anything about them being stand-ins for Sam and Dean, Scott would be out of there pretty quick.
They pulled up to the front of the old Hale house, neither moving from their seat as the car idled.
"No way he's living in there, still," breathed Scott, eventually. Stiles wanted to groan in frustration, he had no idea where Derek lived if it wasn't on his family's old property.
"Oh, wait a minute," started Scott a few moments later. He backed the car a few feet and then started forward in a different direction. Stiles held his breath, waiting for Scott to tell him what was going on. "There's a trailer over there," said Scott, "a new looking one. I bet he lives there."
Stiles exhaled in relief, having expected... well, he didn't really know, but Scott spotting Derek's residence wasn't one of them. He leaned forward in the passenger seat in nervous anticipation. The car crept slowly up the bumpy drive that might not have been a drive, maybe it was more a path in a field. It was fucking bumpy was all Stiles knew.
"Is he there?" asked Stiles, fidgeting in his seat. "Scott, what do you see?"
"His Camaro's there," answered Scott, sounding hopeful as if the presence of the car meant Derek was most definitely there. Considering how far into the woods Derek lived and that Scott didn't know he had the ability to turn into a big, magical wolf and bound around on four legs to his heart's content, it was actually a fair assumption.
Scott gasped, and Stiles' entire body tensed. The car jerked to a stop. Stiles braced himself by pushing his hands against the window and the seat, his heart hammering.
"There's someone out there," whispered Scott.
"Fuck," hissed Stiles.
"They're just... lying on the ground," Scott continued.
"What?" snapped Stiles, "what do you mean they're just-"
"Damnit, damnit, fucking shit," breathed out Scott, sounding panicky. "Stiles, fuck, it's some guy and he's naked and... fuck.. he's dead, he's fucking dead. He's all beat up and bloody and... there's a dead guy lying on the grass! Stiles!"
Stiles bolted from the car, running with his cane swinging across the grass ahead of him. His heart was beating in his ears, chanting 'Derek, Derek, Derek' with every footfall. He shouldn't have let Derek go, he shouldn't have left his window open. It was his fault, it was all his fault.
"Derek," he cried, anticipating his cane coming into contact with the body each time he stepped forward. "Shit, shit, shit."
Scott grabbed him around the middle and they crashed to the ground. Stiles threw his arms out, hitting Scott in the face with the palm of his right hand. Scott grunted in pain, but held him. Stiles kicked out, Scott only tightened his grip.
"It's not him," he yelled in Stiles' face which finally made Stiles still. "It's not Derek," panted Scott.
They laid on the ground for a few beats, trying to catch their breaths.
"You sure?" whispered Stiles, finally.
"Yeah," breathed Scott.
Stiles let his head fall back to the ground in relief.
Derek landed heavily on his bad leg. Pain shot up from paw to shoulder causing him to stumble and fall. Ignoring the pain, sharp as it was, he quickly rolled to his feet, the instinctual need to keep himself from appearing weak overwhelming in his current condition. Once standing, gingerly rocking his weight back onto his hind legs and off his hurt front one, he glanced back at the Stilinski house and the open window he had just leapt from.
He scented the air, crisp in the still-early morning, before stalking forward out the backyard. He slipped out through the back gate where it hung slightly ajar. The back alley between houses was devoid of movement. Derek turned and ran, favoring his front paw. He ducked under a hedge and ran along a fence. He stopped under the heavy branches of a spruce tree in the front yard of an older house. He waited there in the shadow, looking up and down the street ahead of him.
People were leaving their homes for the day, cars pulling out of driveways, people dressed for office jobs juggling their briefcases and travel coffee cups as they made their way out of their houses. A young lady jogged down the sidewalk dressed in yoga pants and a tank top, an ipod strapped to her hip and ear buds in her ears. The music was high pitched and tinny to Derek's canine ears and he winced as she ran past.
When he felt there were no eyes turned his way, Derek dashed out from under the tree and across the road. He ran along a white picket fence, jumping into a yard, dashing through it and then jumping back out when he reached a second back alley. The forest wasn't far from there, and he would be safe from human eyes. Unfortunately, there were far worse things awaiting him in the forest. Derek shivered.
A little brown and white dog began barking at him as he ran down the alley. It ran up and down the length of its backyard, yapping and barking hysterically. When it reached the corner of its property, it stuck its little muzzle through the chain link fence to snap its tiny little teeth at him as it continued to bark and howl. Derek bristled. He turned and stalked over to it. The dog went silent, waiting to see what he would do. He growled deeply, snapping his jaws at it.
The little dog yipped in surprise, somersaulting backwards and falling over itself in its haste to put more space between them. Derek felt a little smug and trotted away with his hackles still fluffed. The back alley dead-ended at the beginning of the forest. Derek ran on, the treeline finally within sight.
Derek only slowed his pace once he was far enough into the forest that he could no longer see any sign of the town. His sides burned from torn muscles being forced to work while they were still healing. His front leg ached from use. Every time his weight shifted to it, sharp pain would spike up it and through his body. He continued on, though, trying to keep his movement silent, constantly scenting the air as he went. He had to find Laura.
Derek ran a wide arc through the forest for a few miles, circling around the Hale property. His stomach was rumbling and his throat dry when he finally emerged from the forest into the large yard of his home. It stank of unwelcome wolves and ill-intent, but there was no sign of the pack. Derek walked on stiff legs into the clearing, his eyes constantly flicking across the tree line all around him as he went.
When he reached his front steps, he shifted back to human and walked up the stairs. He stepped into the trailer through the torn-open front door. The front entry of the little home was torn apart from when the pack had attacked. Blood was streaked against the wall and floor. Derek stepped around it and went into the kitchen. He grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl on the counter and took a large bite. He stood in the kitchen, leaning against the counter, chewing his apple and considered his next move.
Should he get dressed, get in the Camaro and just drive? Would he be able to track them from the road? Would it be best to stay in his wolf form and try to sniff them out through the forest? If they had stuck to the trees, it would be difficult to follow them in the car. What if they had arrived in vehicles and parked somewhere before ambushing them as wolves? If so, he would need his car.
Derek swallowed and took another large bite of the apple. He walked across the kitchen and opened the refrigerator door to peer inside. He needed protein. He needed to fill his stomach, get his energy up... to heal. There was leftover meatloaf in a tupperware container. He bit into his apple to hold it in his mouth so he could use his good hand to grab the container. Before he had grasped the container, though, he heard a second heartbeat enter the room. Derek froze.
"Laura?" he questioned after a few beats.
No answer, but the floor creaked behind him. Derek spun around to find an unfamiliar man standing behind him completely naked, blue eyes supernaturally bright. Derek could feel gooseflesh spark up his spine and down his arms, his body tensing for a fight. He ripped the apple out of his mouth, tossing it to the side.
"You were the one following me last night," he growled.
The man grinned. He took a step forward. Derek crouched, fingernails lengthening to claws.
"Have you been following me the entire time?" he asked.
The man's grin only grew. He cocked his head to the side, his long, blonde hair swishing over his shoulder softly as if he hadn't spent the night running on all fours through the forest. The feral grin and the smudges of mud and blood across his chest gave him away, though. Derek's heart stuttered in dismay. Had he led the enemy straight to Stiles' house? Had this wolf been there? Had he lingered there, watching from a distance, waiting for Derek to leave again? Had he done anything to Stiles once Derek had left?
Derek hadn't meant to involve Stiles in all this -Stiles who was warm and pliable in his sleep, whose warm, brown eyes reflected light they would never again see, who had a smile brighter than the sun and who could see Derek when others never did. If this wolf knew where Derek had run the night before, if he knew where Stiles lived, could now recognize the boy's scent... Derek's hands clenched at his sides. This man had to die.
"Why have you come?" Derek asked. "What does your alpha want from us? Where are the others? Where's Laura?"
The man didn't answer, just took another step toward Derek, his canines growing long and sharp, his features distorting as his wolf came out to play. Derek growled in warning. The blond man shook his head, smirking. Then, he leapt forward, arms outstretched and morphing into forelegs, a pelt rippling out across his body.
Dropping to all fours, Derek shifted back into wolf form, bracing himself for the other's impact. When the wolf slammed into him, Derek turned and sunk his teeth into the other's sandy-grey pelt. He held on with tight jaws even as they fell to the floor, shaking his head and tearing into flesh until his mouth was flooded with the metallic taste of blood.
The wolf snarled in anger and pain. His claws dug into Derek's shoulders and his sharp teeth bit down on Derek's sore front leg. Derek howled in agony before rolling out from under the wolf. He scrambled forward, claws scratching on slippery linoleum, and darted out through the open front door. The wolf bounded after him, snapping at his hocks.
Derek swung around and bit into the scruff of the other wolf's throat, twisting and pulling. The wolf jumped into him instead of away like he had expected. It threw him off balance and had him letting go of his throat. They pitched forward into the wooden rail of the deck. It cracked and splintered, but mostly stayed in place. Derek braced himself on it with his hind legs before kicking off and knocking the other wolf's legs out from under him. It scrambled to gain its footing, but Derek jumped into its side, holding it down with his weight before sinking his teeth into its throat again.
The wolf sputtered out an outraged howl before shifting back into a human. The change caused Derek to lose his hold and the man pushed him off and leaped over the railing, landing on the grass below. Derek ran after him, shifting back into a human as he went.
"Where's Laura!?" he screamed between pants before grabbing the man around the middle and pushing him sideways. The man fell, landing on his back. His head banging with a sickening thud on the ground. Derek sat down heavily on his chest, knocking the wind out of him even while he was still dazed from the fall. He pulled his fist back and then punched the man in the jaw with all his strength. The bone shattered beneath his knuckles and pain shot up his own arm.
"Where. is. LAURA!?" Derek growled.
The man gasped for breath, obviously unable to answer in his current state. Derek didn't care; adrenaline coursing through his veins, heart pumping in his throat, mind shut down and instincts the only thing driving him. He was in a rage. He could only feel this soul-crushing mixture of anger and fear, this need to protect. He had to destroy this man, this threat. Derek drew his fist back and threw another punch, this time fracturing the man's eye socket. The man let out a broken whine, sounding more wolf than man in that moment.
"If you don't tell me now," snarled Derek, "I will slit your throat!"
Gasping, the man sobbed out a stuttering sound that might have been words. Derek took some of his weight off the man's chest so he could inhale.
"Tell me," he whispered, putting his face near the man's and letting his canines lengthen menacingly.
"I don't...know...you...stupid cunt," ground out the man, finally, sounding more angry than afraid. It made Derek's blood boil. "I was sent after you."
Derek growled before flashing the man a feral grin that he liked to think was a lot more frightening than the man's own from earlier.
"Well, if you have no information for me," he said lowly, sitting back on his haunches, his weight still over the man, "I have no use for you."
With that, Derek raised a clawed hand and sliced his throat right down to the bone. The man gurgled and spasmed, drowning in his own blood, before finally going still.
Feeling somewhat relieved that the threat to Stiles had most likely just died with the wolf, Derek shakily got to his feet. He walked away from the dead werewolf, muscles tense and heart pounding. He went up the steps of his trailer, ignoring how the deck was now trashed. He could feel his new wounds attempting to stitch themselves back together with new flesh, but the alpha's wounds from the night before still felt raw and new.
He decided to wash up, get the stench of the other wolf's blood off his body, while he heated the meatloaf. After he ate, he would hunt down the rest of the pack. Yes, Laura had told him to run away and hide. He knew she wanted him safe even if she wasn't. He knew she was thinking of the newly turned wolves who would need someone to mentor them.
He. Didn't. Care.
He wasn't going to lose his last family member.
"Who is it? Do you know?" asked Stiles as he brushed grass from his shirt. He felt itchy all over from the grass working its way under the fabric.
"I've never seen him before," answered Scott. "Stiles, we gotta call your dad. This is serious, a naked dude is dead."
"I don't want to get him involved," said Stiles.
"What?" squawked Scott. "Stiles, he's the Sheriff!"
"I know, I just..." Stiles scrubbed a hand over his face and let out a frustrated groan. "What does he look like? Describe him to me."
"Uh, he's blond, longish hair, buff -like, really muscled, but thin," said Scott, sounding squeamish. Stiles wasn't sure if it was because he had asked him to inspect a dead guy or because it was a naked guy. "He looks like he's...I don't know, maybe thirty years old?"
"And you've never seen him before," questioned Stiles to be sure.
"Yeah," replied Scott, "he's definitely not from around here."
Stiles bit at his thumbnail as he thought. What if he hadn't been that far off when he was joking about Twilight and sparkly vampires.
"What do vampires do when they die?" asked Stiles, suddenly.
"Is that a joke?" asked Scott.
"Well, sometimes you tell random jokes to lighten the mood," replied Scott. "Are you telling me a joke? Is it like a 'I don't know, Stiles, what do vampires do when they die?' kind of joke?"
"No," said Stiles, shaking his head, "it is a legitimate question."
"Stiles..." spoke Scott slowly, "What's going on?"
"Just answer the question," sighed Stiles.
"Uh, well, sometimes they turn into ashes, or explode into goop, or they can disappear completely," stammered out Scott, sounding confused and in dire need of his inhaler. "They can just look like normal dead people, though, too. It depends on the universe you're-"
"Right," cut in Stiles, nodding. "Does this guy look like he could possibly be a..."
"A what? A vampire?" snapped Scott in disbelief. "Stiles, this isn't some make-believe game. I don't know what you think is going on, but there's some random dead guy laying in Derek Hale's yard and whoever killed him could still be around. We need to get the fuck out of here and call your dad!"
Stiles breathed in sharply. He hadn't even thought about the whoever or whatever it was still being around. And, as if just to prove that fate really was out to get Stiles, in that moment, he heard a branch snap in the distance.
"Shit," hissed Stiles.
"What was that?" whispered Scott, moving closer to Stiles - so close that Stiles could hear his stuttered breathing.
"How the hell should I know?" ground out Stiles.
Just ahead and to Stiles' right, he heard more rustling of bushes and snapping of twigs. The hairs on the back of his neck and his arms rose, his heart picking up in speed. He reached out and grabbed Scott's arm to ground him.
"Can you see it?" he asked.
He heard Scott audibly gulped.
"It's big and black," he croaked. Stiles' knees suddenly felt wobbly.
"Fuck," he breathed.
It was closer, by then. Stiles heard its heavy breathing -not that it was panting, but more that it was a big, scary monster that breathed loudly...angrily.
"Stiles," whispered Scott. "I'm going to count to three and we're going to run to the car."
"Scott," hissed Stiles. "What. Is. It?"
"It's a wolf," squeaked Scott. "A really big, really ugly wolf."
Stiles' breath caught in his throat. Derek.
"Stiles," whisper-exclaimed Scott when Stiles let go of him and took a few nervous steps forward. "What are you doing?"
"Derek?" called out Stiles, weakly.
Vicious growling answered him.
"I know you're scared, man," said Stiles. "We're all a little scared right now" -what a freaking understatement- "but it's just me, Stiles. You can put the claws and teeth away."
The growl only rumbled louder and grew more rabid. Stiles could imagine raised hackles and spittle flying. He swallowed heavily, but refused to back down. Derek had probably been attacked, had probably had to fight his way out of a corner. Stiles knew nothing of werewolves in reality, but he figured Derek was lost to his feral side at the moment. Stiles just needed to get through to him and then they could sort everything out.
"Derek," pleaded Stiles.
The creature ahead of him snarled and snapped its jaws so that its teeth clacked audibly.
"Stiles," hissed Scott.
A sinking feeling started in Stiles' gut, then.
He took a step backward.
"You're not Derek, are you," he said, realizing just how much trouble he was in. The animal bellowed at him-a sound indisputably non canine. "Oh, shit," Stiles cried before turning and falling over himself in his haste. He ran in the general direction of the car.
The wolf thundered forward behind him. Stiles dropped his cane, but paid it no mind, reaching out with both hands as he sprinted forward. He hoped with every cell in his body that his hands would come into contact with the car before the wolf's teeth came in contact with him. He could feel the animal's hot breath on the backs of his legs.
Scott yelled out in some sort of battle cry, leaping at the wolf from Stiles' side. It was just as Stiles hand made contact with the open drivers side door of the car. Stiles grabbed at the car and leaped in, slamming his shin on the edge of the door frame but the pain didn't register half as sharply as it should have.
A pained shout sounded from behind him as he fumbled over the centre console into the passenger seat. Scott jumped in milliseconds later, slamming the door shut and stepping on the gas. The car squealed, spinning its tires and sliding sideways for a few beats before it catapulted forward. Something heavy slammed into the back of the vehicle, making it stutter.
"Go, go, go!" screamed Stiles.
"I knooooow," Scott yelled back at him, his breathing erratic and pained sounding.
Stiles rocked back and forth in his seat, covering his face in his hands. Scott got the car under control and turned it around so they could thunder back down the driveway they had come up. They bounced hard in their seats over the bumps and Stiles finally scrambled to put his seatbelt on.
"Is it following?" Stiles asked once they turned onto the gravel road.
A few beats.
"I don't see it," breathed Scott.
"It could be following in the trees," whispered Stiles, instinctively leaning away from his window.
"I don't think it is," said Scott, but he didn't slow down from the insane speed Stiles knew he was pushing the car at.
They breathed heavily, both still reeling. After a few minutes, Stiles reached forward and turned off the radio, the dance music sounding completely inappropriate in the current situation.
"Why were you calling that wolf Derek?" asked Scott at the same time that Stiles said, "that didn't sound like a wolf."
"Yeah, it didn't really look like a wolf," admitted Scott.
Stiles' head popped up fast at that.
"DAMN IT, SCOTT!" exclaimed Stiles. "Why would you say it was a wolf if it wasn't?"
"I didn't know what else to call it," defended Scott, sounding guilty, but confused. "I'm sorry?"
"If I had known it wasn't actually a wolf, I wouldn't have TRIED TO APPROACH IT!" exclaimed Stiles angrily, his voice going up and embarrassingly high pitched at the end.
"How was I supposed to know you would think you were a wolf whisperer?" shouted Scott hoarsely.
"Nevermind," sighed Stiles, leaning back in his seat and smashing his head against the seat a few times in his anger. "Guh! Just, nevermind."
They drove along in silence for a while after that. Until, that is, Scott turned a corner and let out a long, loud hiss.
"What?" asked Stiles, jumping in his seat.
"My side," said Scott through what sounded like clenched teeth.
Stiles leaned over in his seat, reaching for Scott's side.
"What do you mean, your side?"
"No, the other side," said Scott when Stiles ran his hand over his ribs, unfazed by Stiles' sight being in his hands.
"What's wrong?" asked Stiles, sitting back in his seat.
"I...it bit me," whispered Scott.
"WHAT?" exclaimed Stiles. "Scott! How bad is it bleeding? Should you even be driving? How deep is it?
"I don't know, I don't want to look," replied Scott weakly. "Turning that corner made it hurt worse, though."
"To the hospital!" commanded Stiles, flailing in panic.
"My mom's working," argued Scott.
"She's going to find out either way," countered Stiles, "at least you'll be alive for it if she finds out now."
Scott groaned. Stiles bit his lip and went back to holding his head in his hands.
"I'm really sorry," he whispered once they were on pavement.
"Not your fault," answered Scott, but Stiles knew that they both knew it was untrue.
"What were you even doing on the Hale property in the middle of a school day?" asked Stiles' dad in the stern voice he saved for criminals and Stiles when he had epically messed up.
"I had a feeling Derek was in trouble," replied Stiles, knowing how stupid it sounded, but thinking sounding stupid would be better than the actual truth.
"You...you had a feeling," repeated Sheriff John Stilinski in disbelief.
"Yeah," laughed Stiles nervously, "didn't I tell you? I'm psychic now! I'm like one of those gypsy women in those covered wagon dohickeys. I have fortune telling cards and a crystal ball and everything. I'm thinking about growing my hair, maybe getting my ears pierced. How do you think I'd look with big golden hoops? I'd get the thicker ones, they're more manly."
"Stiles," sighed his father, and Stiles could imagine him pinching the bridge of his nose and looking weary, like he had back when Stiles and Scott were much younger and would get caught doing dangerous and idiotic things. Like the time the neighbour, Mr. Brown, had left his ladder standing against his garage and they had climbed up to see how far they could see from there, but accidently knocked the ladder down and were stuck up there for hours.
"Okay, so forget the why," said his father, shuffling through some papers in his binder. "Will you tell me the what?"
"Yeah...yup," said Stiles, nodding emphatically.
"Tell the truth," warned John.
Stiles put a hand against his chest dramatically.
"I am offended you would imply that I would ever-"
"Stiles," interrupted John, sternly, "this is an official witness statement. Scott will be giving one too, as soon as his mom is done with him. They had better match up."
Stiles let out a soft sigh, nodding.
"Yeah, okay," he said. "So, I was trying to find Derek."
"Because you had a feeling," helped his father.
Stiles threw up his hands, pointing at the Sheriff and making an annoyed sound in the back of his throat.
"Sorry, go on."
"Alright, okay, so we drove to the Hale property," continued Stiles, still giving his father a heavy frown of judgment, "and when we get there, we see...well, Scott sees...this dead guy just laying on the ground in front of Derek's trailer. Well, we're assuming it is Derek's trailer? It wasn't there before. We didn't find Derek."
"Okay, whoa, whoa, whoa," said his dad, "there was a body?"
"Yeah," said Stiles, nodding. "It was a guy Scott said he'd never seen before. Oh, and he was naked."
"Scott was naked?"
"No, the dead guy," groaned Stiles, smacking his head with both hands.
"Okay, and then what happened?" asked his father.
"Then, a wolf, or some kind of wild animal came out of the woods and attacked us," said Stiles. "It almost got me, but Scott came to the rescue like the big, macho, superman he is."
"And then the wolf bit him?"
Stiles nodded, "and then the wolf bit him."
He sat quietly in the hospital waiting room, listening to his father scratch out the details in pen while the familiar beeps, whirrs, and voices of the hospital filled in the background like white noise.
"Okay, I've got to call this in and then head out," said his dad once he was finished. "You gonna stay with Scott?"
"Yeah," said Stiles. "Aren't you going to take his statement first?"
"Someone else can," replied his dad. "If there's a body out there, we need to get a move on."
"Yeah," nodded Stiles, feeling a lump rising in this throat. "Of course, right. Just...be careful, alright?"
"I will be," answered his dad. "Stay with Scott; don't go anywhere but home-his or ours. We'll talk about your punishment for skipping school later."
"Right, of course, totally," answered Stiles.
"I'll see you later, son."
His father got up, picking up his things, and walked away. Stiles could hear him already radioing in about the body found in the woods, a possible murder, as he left.
He sat, leg jiggling anxiously, for what seemed like forever as he waited for Scott. Finally, he came out with his mother. He stood next to Stiles, not sitting down.
"So?" asked Stiles, leaning forward and giving him a hopeful smile.
"I think my ass hurts more than my side," he complained.
"Scott," admonished his mother.
"Sorry, my butt," he corrected.
"Why's that?" asked Stiles frowning.
"Rabies shot," said Mrs. McCall, sounding smug. "Deep intramuscular injection."
Stiles couldn't help but grin widely.
"Hey!" exclaimed Scott, punching him lightly in the shoulder. "I took a bullet for you today, man!"
"Yeah, you're right," said Stiles, nodding, still smiling. "You're my hero."
"Damn right," grumbled Scott.
"Scott!" hissed his mom.
"Sorry," muttered Scott. Stiles laughed.
"Come on, I'm taking you two bird brains home," said Mrs. McCall, patting Stiles on the shoulder before walking away, expecting to be followed.
"But really, Scott," said Stiles as they did just that, "thank you."
Scott didn't say anything in reply, just slung his arm over Stiles' shoulders. It said enough.
Derek picked up Laura's scent right where he remembered leaving her. It led north into the woods just as he recalled. He followed, running when the scent was strong enough that speed wouldn't cause him to lose the trail. Mostly, though he picked through the underbrush at a quickened walk.
The sun rose to its full height in the sky and began to descend. Derek had managed to pick out the scents of three different wolves aside from Laura and the alpha. It seemed they had followed at a distance, allowing their alpha to do the chasing by himself. It could only mean one thing; a mating chase. Derek growled angrily at the thought, but at least it meant Laura was likely alive and even thriving.
It was another hour of tracking before the three beta scents dropped away leaving only the alpha and Laura's to track. Derek didn't know what to make of it for a few moments. Until he came into a clearing, that was, and the alpha's scent intensified ten fold. He snarled at the thought of what it meant, lips curled back and hackles rising.
It was a small clearing that stood just outside of the Hale territory. It would have been the perfect place to claim...no, Derek didn't want to think of that. He didn't want to think of his sister, strong-willed, brave and stubborn to a fault, being taken against her will.
Oddly, Laura's scent ended abruptly in the middle of the clearing. Derek circled back three different times, but still couldn't find it again. It was as if she and the alpha had just vanished. He walked around the clearing trying to figure out what he was missing. He had just been able to make out the faintest of tire tracks in the earth beneath the new green grass when a snarl came from behind him.
He froze on the spot, his blood turning to ice. Slowly, he lifted his head and turned to face the source. A massive greying black werewolf stood at the forest edge, red eyes trained on him. It was monstrous in its power, its body no longer resembling a full-blood wolf. Unintentionally, Derek let out a soft whine.
The were snarled, hackles rising and stance lowering aggressively. Derek felt the urge to roll on his side and show his belly like a submissive pup. The wolf smelled of pack, but also of danger. It was confusing. Pack should smell like safety, like home. This wolf did not.
It growled menacingly at Derek, mouth curling open to show an impressive set of yellow-white teeth. Derek lowered his head and stepped aside, tail between his legs. He would not challenge an alpha who smelled of pack. There was absolutely no way he could win against such a powerful creature, anyway. The alpha allowed him to go, watching him with a stern expression.
Derek was careful to move slowly, not wanting to trigger a chase. Once he was back in the trees and no longer felt the alpha's cold stare on his back, he broke into a run. He ran until it felt like his heart would pound out of his ribcage. Then he jogged. It seemed like hours later when he finally emerged onto the wide clearing of the Hale homestead.
He stopped short when he saw the police cars.
Sheriff Stilinski was talking with another police officer while a team in blue windbreakers zipped the body of the blond haired were into a black bag. Derek cursed himself for not having disposed of the body before setting out. He hid in the underbrush at the edge of the forest and listened.
"My son and his friend discovered the body," the Sheriff was saying. "They said there was a large wolf of some sort stalking around, so be careful."
"Wolf?" asked the other man in disbelief, chuckling and shaking his head. "There aren't wolves in California."
"Well, whatever it was, it sent Scott to the hospital," said the Sheriff.
The other man frowned, dropping his arms from where they were crossed across his chest and nodding solemnly. "Alright, we'll keep a lookout while we're out here," he said.
Derek could feel his stomach drop. Stiles and Scott had come out to his house? They had found the body and a werewolf had found them? Was it the black monster he had encountered in the clearing? Were the boys alright? Had either been bit?
Derek turned and ran through the trees toward Beacon Hills. He had to find them.
The shadows were at their longest when Derek arrived in the Stilinski backyard. It had only been that morning when he had been there last, but it felt like eons. He stalked across the yard and up to the back door, listening intently for the heartbeats of anyone inside the house. He heard none. The house looked dark and empty from the outside. He scratched at the backdoor with a front paw, but didn't actually expect Stiles to come let him in. The boy was probably with Scott, perhaps in the hospital with him, or at his house.
Derek glanced around to make sure no one was around, but the backdoor of the house was mostly sheltered from prying eyes anyway. He shifted into human form and reached for the doorknob. It was locked. He glanced around. What were the odds that the sheriff was stupid enough to leave out a spare key? Or perhaps he was confident enough in his status in town that he didn't have to worry about break-ins and pranksters. Whatever it was, Derek found a spare key tucked against the siding just above the door. He unlocked the door and replaced the key before going inside.
His body ached with fatigue. Stiles would eventually come home, probably when his father was finished work for the night. Derek would wait. He followed the hall to the staircase and went upstairs to where he knew Stiles' bedroom was. The sheets were still a mess from the night before, Derek crawled into the bed and closed his eyes. Stiles' scent was familiar and comforting and he drifted to sleep easily.
Derek woke later to the sound of voices coming from the the main floor of the house.
"I brought your cane home, you left it out there," came Sheriff Stilinski's voice.
"Thanks," mumbled Stiles.
"So, do I even want to know why you and Scott skipped school to drive out to Derek Hale's house?" he asked.
"Uhh..." stuttered Stiles.
Derek tensed, listening intently.
"He's a murder suspect, now, Stiles," said the Sheriff sounding angry, but his erratic heartbeat told Derek he was more afraid for his son than anything. "You have to stay away from him. I mean it."
"What!?" burst out Stiles sounding surprised and angry.
"A dead body on his lawn, a sign of a struggle in his house," recounted the Sheriff, angrily. "Stiles, there was blood on the walls and floors, the door was hanging open and there deck was busted up! You have to stay away from him! This is serious!"
"Wouldn't it make more sense to treat him as a missing person?" countered Stiles, obviously trying to sound convincing but mostly just upset. "You should look for him as a possible second victim! He could be a person of interest at the worst...not a murder suspect!"
"Stiles..." sighed his father.
"His car was still there, Dad!" exclaimed Stiles. "His car was there and...and you said his front door was broken. A sign of forced entry, right? So, he's missing, his car is there, a strange man we don't recognize is dead and laying on his lawn, there's blood on his wall, and his front door is broken down. What does that look like? C'mon Dad!"
Derek could feel warmth bloom in his chest over how outraged Stiles was on his behalf and the worry he could hear in the boy's voice. In the end, though, Derek was the one who killed the man. He wondered, though, if it really could be traced back to him if he had killed the man wolfed out. What would forensics find? He wasn't sure if his DNA was the same human as it was in his were forms.
"If you see Derek, you stay away and you call me immediately. Immediately. You understand me?"
"Yes," ground out Stiles, obviously lying.
"Good," said the Sheriff.
Stiles came up the stairs only a few minutes later. Derek wasn't sure what to do, suddenly feeling nervous of facing the boy. He looked around in a panic, trying to think of a good position to be in when the boy stepped into the room, but ended up staying put as the door opened.
Derek bit his lower lip and waited for Stiles to notice him, unsure of what to say or how to greet him without startling him. He watched as Stiles shut his bedroom door, muttering angrily to himself. He threw his backpack to the floor and pulled his shirt up over his head before tossing it to the side. When he began to unzip his jeans, Derek decided he better make his presence known. Derek cleared his throat.
Stiles fell backwards in surprise, hitting his bedroom door with his shoulder blades, hands flying up in a weak mimic of a karate pose. His jeans fell to his ankles. Stiles squawked and quickly leaned down to pull them back up. He held them with one hand and made a chopping motion with his other.
"Who's there," he finally squeaked.
Derek couldn't help but grin.
"Derek," he rumbled lowly.
He liked how Stiles' entire body relaxed at the sound of his voice.
"Shit," breathed out Stiles, stepping away from the door. "You scared the crap out of me, dude."
"Sorry," whispered Derek.
"Not just now," said Stiles, shaking his head. "I meant earlier in the forest. When Scott said there was a naked dead guy on your lawn, I was sure it was you."
"I'm sorry," he said again.
He was surprised when Stiles launched himself across the room, pawing at the air trying to find him. Derek reached out and gently caught his wrist. Stiles turned toward him and grabbed him by the shoulders. He looked like he wanted to hug him, but then, something confusing passed across his face and he stepped back. Derek huffed.
"What are you doing here?" asked Stiles. "I mean, you're welcome here and everything. Uh, by me...not so much by Dad, but I won't tell him. Anyway, what's going on? What happened last night? And who is that guy? Yeah, why are you at my house?"
Derek growled in his throat.
"I can't go home," he said, simply. "For some reason, I'm being investigated for murder."
"Dude, I'm sorry," he said, plopping down on the bed beside Derek. "Scott was with me and we got attacked by this...thing, and he had to go to the hospital. Then there were questions, you know?"
"What bit him?" asked Derek.
"I dunno," said Stiles, shaking his head. "It sounded big. It was mean and nasty. Scott said it was a wolf, so at first I thought it was you; it wasn't. Afterward, Scott said it wasn't actually a wolf, but it was the only thing he could think of to call it."
Derek rubbed a hand over his forehead, groaning.
"It was the alpha," he said.
"I saw an alpha in the woods today," said Derek. "I don't know who it is, but you're lucky you escaped at all."
Stiles was silent for a few beats then, as if the weight of Derek's statement was taking some time to sink in. Derek wanted to reach out and touch him, he simply inched closer instead.
"Ugh, you really reek, man," said Stiles a few minutes later. Stiles paused and then a look of horror passed over his face. "Are you naked and bloody on my bed?"
"Maybe," said Derek around a grimace.
Stiles' face contorted like he had bit into something sour. He shook his head jerkily and flailed a hand out in front of him. Derek was unsure if the gesture was supposed to mean something or not.
"Gross, just...gross!" groaned Stiles.
"Stiles?" called his father from the other side of the door. Derek and Stiles both froze. Derek looked over at Stiles. Stiles' eyes were wide and his heart had picked up speed.
"Shit," breathed Stiles, motioning with his arms that Derek should do something. "Hide," he finally hissed at Derek. "C'mon, if Dad sees you-"
"Stiles," his father repeated, sounding impatient that time.
"Yeah, Dad?" Stiles squeaked out.
"I have to head back into the station," he said as he opened Stiles' bedroom door and stepped in. Derek quickly shifted. "Are you going to be alright on your own or should I drop you off at the McCall's on my w-what!? Stiles! What is that great, big, black-"
"It's Derek's dog!" exclaimed Stiles in his fast thinking.
"Dog?" questioned the Sheriff, "it's massive!"
"Yep," said Stiles, nodding emphatically. "It's a hybrid that he got from up in Canada."
"Okay...but why do you-"
"Uh...uh...Scott!" exclaimed Stiles. "Scott saw it running around the lacrosse field at lunch. I told him it was probably Derek's dog, so we caught it and decided to take it back to Derek...and then, well..."
"So, this is what actually bit Scott?" asked his dad.
"No! no, no no...no. It doesn't bite, it's a good dog!" burst out Stiles, waving his arms and shaking his head. "Such a good dog, Dad. Right, uh, Miguel? You're a good dog, aren't you? Such a good widdle puppy!"
Derek groaned internally, but wagged his tail for show. He even let his tongue hang out of his mouth as he tried to look friendly. The Sheriff simply raised an eyebrow; he didn't look convinced.
"In fact," said Stiles. "If Miguel hadn't been with us, we wouldn't have been so screwed. Yeah! He totally saved the day! He scared off the...well, whatever it was that bit Scott."
"Right," sighed the Sheriff, "and you didn't feel like telling me this when I took your statement because?"
The Sheriff pinched the bridge of his nose. He looked disappointed and tired. Stiles looked like his heart was breaking a little bit. He smelled of guilt. Derek pushed his muzzle into the boy's hand.
"Well, I was hoping I could keep him until Derek showed up," lied Stiles, sounding sheepish. "If it was in the report, I figured you'd have to do something with it."
"No, Stiles," said the Sheriff. "No dogs, no way. Especially not one the size of a horse!"
"Dad-" pleaded Stiles.
"Nope," answered the boy's father, shaking his head.
Derek let out a soft whimper.
"He has no one, Dad!" said Stiles. "He needs me!"
"Are you talking about the dog or Derek?" asked the Sheriff, narrowing his eyes and sounding contemplative.
"The dog," said Stiles, easily, which made Derek a little disappointed for reasons unknown to even him. "With Derek missing, who will take care of him?"
"We'll take him to the animal shelter," said the Sheriff.
Stiles made a panicky sound.
"Dad, c'mon, please!" he exclaimed, reaching to hug Derek around the neck. "Don't punish the dog. I mean, can't we just keep him until you find Derek? Then-depending on the situation-then Derek can decide what to do with the dog, right? Maybe he has someone who can look after the dog that he can contact if you have to hold him. Don't, just...let's not punish him by confiscating the dog. What if he's the victim here?"
The Sheriff groaned, sounding nearly defeated.
"Look at this guy, Dad," said Stiles, shaking Derek a little bit. "Isn't he handsome?"
The Sheriff rolled his eyes.
"He's such a good dog!" exclaimed Stiles. "He's so good. He can keep me safe from all the things that go bump in the night and all those people you think are out there waiting to take advantage of me and my blindness. Yeah! He can...he can be like my guide dog! C'mon, Dad!"
The Sheriff ran a hand through his thinning hair. Derek wagged his tail at him while attempting to give him "puppy eyes," though he had never attempted such a thing before. He licked Stiles' hand and bumped his head into the boy's side affectionately. Finally, the Sheriff let out a defeated sigh.
"Okay," he said, "but he needs a bath; he stinks! Or, actually, maybe hose him off in the back yard, instead."
"Thank you, Dad!" exclaimed Stiles, jumping up and down. "You will not regret this!"
"There you go lying again," said the Sheriff, but he was smiling. "I already do...and you're still grounded."
"Sooo..." said Stiles once his father had left. "Shall we head to the backyard for a little hose down?"
His question was met with a low growl. Stiles grinned nervously. He felt awkward -which, okay, wasn't that new a feeling for him, but this was different. It was strange knowing there was a wolf/dog/not-human in the room with him that was actually a person. He wondered how much Derek understood in wolf form. Was he just in a different body shape, or was his mind more cloudy and feral in that state?
"Do you have towels in the bathroom?" questioned Derek.
Stiles startled hard and he might have squeaked... maybe... a little bit... it was a manly squeak, though.
"Dude," stammered Stiles. "There needs to be some sort of warning system for when you change. Like... I don't know, we could come up with some sort of secret handshake or knock or something... or you could make some sort of bird call or something right before you do it..."
Stiles trailed off. He received no reply.
"Are... are you a wolf again right now?" he whispered.
"No," answered Derek.
Stiles nodded, wondering what Derek's impatient scowl looked like -there was no doubt Derek was wearing one at the moment.
"Uh," breathed Stiles before remembering what the question had been. He gestured at his door. "Towels are in the hall closet."
"Make sure to scrub behind your ears and get all those sticks out of your tail. And don't shake water all over the room when you're done," called Stiles after Derek when he heard the man step past him and push through his bedroom door.
He snickered to himself when he heard an annoyed huff from the hallway. He was just about to let his jeans, still undone, fall to his ankles in favor of sweatpants, when Derek was suddenly in his space.
"Don't worry," he whispered. "I'll be a good boy."
Stiles' breath caught in his throat. Derek moved away from him and, a millisecond later, Stiles heard the bathroom door shut. He slapped himself in the face making a high pitched squeal in the back of his throat.
So, Derek definitely had full cognitive functions when in wolf-form and had understood Stiles and his whole "can we keep him?" spiel. And what the fuck was up with his sudden appreciation for a little BDSM? Like, wow, Stiles had never thought he'd be the type, but Derek whispering that he'd be a good boy... just... fuck.
Stiles needed to get a hold of himself.
He threw himself onto his bed with a groan before remembering the state of his bedding and jumping back up with a shout.
"Stiles?" questioned Derek, the bathroom door doing its familiar creak as it swung open just a little.
"Yeah?" asked Stiles shrilly.
"Uh... yeah... right... that was just... that was my changing the sheets noise," said Stiles, gesturing at his bed frantically. "I do that before I strip the bed."
"Really," deadpanned Derek.
"Yep," said Stiles, nodding. "It's... tradition!"
Stiles could practically hear Derek's silent judgement as the guy slowly closed the bathroom door again. Stiles groaned and rubbed a hand over his head and across his face. He dropped his jeans when he heard the water turn on and went looking for a pair of sweatpants. He decided to put on a t-shirt, too, feeling kind of exposed with another person in the house.
Then, Stiles pulled all the bedding off his bed and gathered it in a pile. He went out to the hall closet to get new sheets and a clean blanket. As he redressed his bed, he had a moment of startled panic wondering what his dad had thought when he had come into his room earlier and undoubtedly saw the mess. After a few moments of being froze in place while his heart pounded up his throat, he consoled himself with the reminder that his dad wouldn't one to keep quiet on matters such as blood in his son's bed. So, he probably had either not seen it, or Derek hadn't actually bled out on the sheets. Perhaps he had just seen the mud and assumed from Derek's unkempt apperance as a dog, that he was the culprit -which, was completely true, so... uh... good.
Stiles had started a load of laundry in the basement and was back in his room by the time Derek emerged from the bathroom smelling civilized and tantalizing. Not tantalizing; Stiles didn't think Derek was tantalizing... he didn't even know what the guy looked like... no, definitely not tantalizing... it was just that Derek's scent was pleasant in the hot, humidity of having just showered... he smelled all clean and masculine and... oh.. yeah, okay... tantalizing.
Do you want something to eat?" asked Stiles, hurriedly. "Or clothes? Oh my g... you need clothes!"
"No," echoed Stiles in confusion.
"You told your father I'm Derek's dog," said Derek, sounding both bitter and amused. How is it even possible to sound bitter and amused at the same time? "I better keep up appearances. So, no, I don't need clothes."
"Sure, yeah, that... makes sense," answered Stiles, nodding and feeling moronic. He backed up a few steps, almost tripping over his own feet, when he heard Derek moving forward. He made a point of definitely not thinking about Derek's current nudity, except that he really was. "It's fine if you wanna lounge around my house naked all day.. I mean.. yeah, awesome... WAIT.. not, not awesome... but, yeah, whatever... it's a free country... maybe I'll go without clothes, too... we can be naked together... naked buddies... bros without clothes... holy shit, make me stop talking."
"I'm tired," spoke Derek, seemingly unfazed by Stiles' personal freak out, as he slipped past him. "I'm going to bed."
Stiles heard his bed shift under Derek's weight.
"Hey," squeaked Stiles before clearing his throat, "who says you can sleep in my bed?"
"I showered," replied Derek and it almost, sort of sounded like a question, like a request... if Stiles squinted. He'd take what he could get.
"Ugh, fine!" he said, putting as much annoyance into his voice as he could manage when he was really just thinking about another guy naked and, as it was painfully established just moments ago, smelling tantalizing, laying in his bed. "I'm going to do my homework."
"Have fun," murmured Derek already sounding half asleep. How can a person just instantly fall asleep like that? Stiles always had to lay there for an hour before he could shut his brain down enough to sleep, even when he was super tired.
Shaking his head as if it would help clear his thoughts, Stiles moved over to his desk and sat down in the computer chair. He pushed off the floor with a foot and spun it around a few times before catching a hand on his desk to stop himself.
Derek's breathing had completely evened out, already, and Stiles hummed softly to himself, leaning down to reach for his bag where it was still sprawled on the floor. He pulled out his laptop and set it up on his desk. Derek mumbled something to himself that Stiles couldn't make out before shifting around in the bed and sighing. Stiles shook his head to himself, smirking. He realized working on any of his assignments on his laptop would probably disturb Derek, even with his headphones. So, he, instead, pulled out his textbook that he had to read the next chapter in.
It almost felt too quiet in the room outside of the soft, unfamiliar, snore-like inhales and exhales coming from his bed. Stiles chewed his bottom lip as he ran his fingers over the raised dots, learning about the function and structure of enzymes. It was hard to concentrate, though, knowing Derek was right there. Finally, he closed up his book, placed everything back in his school bag, and took it downstairs. He'd work in the living room.
It was nearly midnight when Stiles finally decided to head to bed. It had been a long day and he really didn't think there was much point try to stay up any later to work on what he had the entire weekend to deal with. Well, maybe not the entire weekend to deal with. There might be more pressing matters, like werewolves and boogeymen and other such madness for him to deal with.
He left his books and laptop sprawled across the coffee table and stumbled his way upstairs, his fatigue making him more clumsy than usual. First, he headed into the bathroom to brush his teeth, then he shuffled across the carpeted hallway to his bedroom. He was met with the sound of Derek's deep breathing and paused in his bedroom doorway at that.
It wasn't that he had forgotten about the man sleeping in his bed, it was more that he just hadn't really been thinking about him and now... well, now he was and he really wasn't sure what to do about it. If he slept elsewhere, his dad would get suspicious when he got home, but... could Stiles just... could he really just... get into bed with the guy? Derek knew it was Stiles' bed when he crawled into it. He had to know Stiles had a habit of sleeping in said bed during the night hours. Did that mean Derek had wanted Stiles to sleep with him?
Stiles groaned at himself, scrubbing a hand over his forehead in frustration with himself. It was not that big of a deal; he was making it a bigger deal than it was. Or maybe Derek had expected him to wake him up when he was ready to go to bed? Send him elsewhere? Derek was a werewolf, he could probably rip Stiles apart with one swipe of his clawed hand. Did he really wanna chance pissing the guy off?
Whatever, it was his bed, if Derek didn't want Stiles crawling into bed with him, he shouldn't have gotten into Stiles' bed to begin with. Stiles nodded at that silent thought and, with a deep breath and fists clenched at his sides, he approached his bed. It may or may not have taking a few more deep breaths once he was at the side of the bed for Stiles to actually get into said bed, but no one had to know that.
After all that build-up, though, Stiles was almost disappointed when he accidently bumped a limb against Derek and found he was in wolf form. Almost was the key word in that sentence, because, if he were honest with himself, he was mostly just relieved -really, really relieved. It was best for all parties involved, really, especially in the case that his dad checked on him when he got home later that night.
The next morning, Stiles woke up to the heat of the sun shining warmly through his bedroom window and fluffy fur tickling his face. He was quick to smack a hand into his face and rub his nose as the fur continued to tickle.
"Ugh," he groaned, rubbing his hands over his eyes before letting out a long yawn and stretching his legs. The heavy, canine weight half on top of him shifted only minutely as he moved. "Dude, you gotta get off me, you weigh like a thousand pounds."
Derek let out a huff of breath, but moved off his chest to curl up beside him instead, pressing his wet nose into Stiles' armpit. Stiles let out a strangled exclamation of random sounds before pushing Derek's head away.
"Not cool," grumbled Stiles before rolling onto his side, his back to him.
Derek pressed into his back, a low rumble sounding in his chest. It sounded sleepy and a little indignant. Stiles couldn't help but smile to himself. It was kind of ridiculous just how much of a cuddler Derek was.
Eventually, Stiles pulled himself out of bed. Derek stayed on his bed, seemingly half asleep and completely lazy, while Stiles got dressed. When Stiles pushed open his bedroom door to head downstairs, though, Derek jumped off the bed and followed after him on heavy paws.
Derek scratched softly at the back door while Stiles got himself a bowl of cereal. The sound pulled Stiles out of his thoughts of what to feed Derek for breakfast. He tried to school his face into something neutral when he let Derek out to pee, but he couldn't help snickering knowing the guy was using his backyard as a bathroom just like a regular dog. He must not have had much of a poker face, or perhaps his snickering hadn't been very quiet, because when Derek came back inside, he nipped at his calves in retaliation as he followed Stiles back to the kitchen.
"Hey!" exclaimed Stiles, "I told Dad you were a good dog, don't make me a liar!"
He nearly smacked himself in the face when he heard what he had said, because, he was such a liar. A 'liar, liar, pants on fire', kind of liar. He was such a liar that if he was hooked up to a lie detector, the thing would likely explode. He muttered grumpily to himself as he poured some milk into his bowl of cereal and moved back into the living room to plop down on the couch.
Derek jumped up onto the couch beside him and set a paw on his arm just as he went to scoop a spoonful of cereal up to his mouth.
"What?" asked Stiles.
Derek huffed at him.
"I don't have any kibble for you," said Stiles. "If you'd transform or whatever back into... you, I could get you a bowl of cereal, too."
Derek let out a short, grumpy growl.
"You want some cereal anyway?" asked Stiles, setting his bowl down on the floor. He grinned when he heard the sound of Derek lapping at it. "Don't spill any milk on the carpet," he warned.
He went into the kitchen to get himself another bowl of cereal. When he got back to the couch, Derek had already finished his own and was sitting next to Stiles' spot.
"So, we need to come up with a plan," said Stiles between bites of cereal. "Obviously, something big is going down, but I am completely out of the loop here."
Derek growled softly -well, it wasn't so much a growl as just some sort of canine vocalization in response, but Stiles wasn't well-versed in all the dog sound lingo, if that was a thing.
"Is this going to be a huge mess, soon?" asked Stiles before shoving another spoonful of cereal into his mouth. "I mean, I'd like to know what we're up against."
Derek did growl that time.
"Like hell I'm not going to be involved," replied Stiles, assuming Derek's meaning behind his growl. "I'm already involved just having you in my house, c'mon."
The answering huff had Stiles quirking up the corners of his mouth in victory. He took another bite of cereal, chewed, swallowed, then set down his spoon.
"Okay, so, the thing that attacked us at your place yesterday, is that what beat you up the night before?" asked Stiles.
"Guh," groaned Stiles, "tap your paw once for yes and twice for no."
"This would be so much easier if you were in human form and could just talk to me," said Stiles.
"Uh, Stiles?" came his dad's voice, then, causing Stiles to startle.
Heart beating in his throat, Stiles turned toward the doorway where the hall met the living room and gave his dad a nervous smile.
"Morning, Dad," he said while mentally going over what he had just said to Derek and wondering how it would sound out of context.
"What are you doing?" asked his dad, sounding wary.
"Uhh... just asking Miguel where Derek is," replied Stiles, nervous grin. "You know, to help your case and all that."
"Right," said his dad, slowly. "You do realize he's a dog, right?"
"What?" breathed out Stiles, panic making his voice sound shrill.
"Right!" replied Stiles, relieved. He had thought his dad had meant Derek was a dog. "Yeah, totally... he's most definitely a dog... very dog-like, aren't you Miguel?"
Stiles patted Derek on the head, leaning over to put his face close to Derek's. The 'dog' growled lowly at him. Stiles was quick to straighten, laughing awkwardly.
"Okay, then," said his dad, drawing out the 'o' in okay. "I'm headed to work. Try to... get out for a bit today... okay? Talk with some actual people, get a milkshake at the ice cream parlour or something."
"Yeah, sure thing, Dad," answered Stiles, nodding. Normally, he would complain that his dad hadn't even been home long enough for what constituted a full night's sleep, but, guilty as it made him feel, he was kind of relieved the man was leaving.
"Alright, have a good day, and... keep out of trouble," said his dad before leaving the room. Stiles could imagine the meaningful look he used to give him when he said those four words to him as a kid.
Stiles waited until he heard his dad's cruiser pull away from their house before turning back to Derek. He had just opened his mouth to ask him another question when Derek let out a very human sounding groan.
"Of all the names in the world, you came up with Miguel," he complained.
Stiles startled, but tried to cover it. He grinned, though, and reached out to pat Derek on his very human, very bare shoulder. "What can I say, I'm a creative genius.
"Except that he's supposed to think that I came up with the name," said Derek.
"Now, don't sell yourself short, I'm sure you're at least half as creative as me. Maybe even three quarters."
Derek let out a huff that sounded very much like his canine self.
"Can I go back to being your 'guide dog', again, now?" he practically whined the question.
"No way, man!" replied Stiles, shaking his head. "And you know, your avoidance technique is not an acceptable coping mechanism!"
"I works great for coping with you," replied Derek in monotone, but Stiles was certain he could hear a little bit of pouting in it.
"What? RUDE!" exclaimed Stiles, pointing emphatically at Derek. "Anyway, I do actually need you to clear some stuff up for me, bud. I feel like you haven't told me anything. I mean, so the thing that attacked us was an alpha? What does that even mean? And who was the dead dude on your lawn? Why were you all bloody and nearly dead when you came to me?"
"That's just the tip of the iceberg of my questions, man. So, stay human a bit longer," said Stiles before grinning and adding "if you're good, I'll give you a belly rub."
"You're not half as funny as you think you are," spat Derek, petulantly.
"Just because half my jokes go over your head doesn't m..."
"Stiles," cut in Derek around an impatient sigh.
"Yeah... right, so..." said Stiles, cutting getting back on task. "I'm thinking our first action should be calling your pack members and having them come over for a little story time with Derek..."
"Oh, come off it, you're not fooling anyone with your little teenaged gang all dressed in leather. What are you, the T-birds?"
"Don't tell me you don't know who..."
"Grease," groaned Derek. "Now, can we finish?"
"Awesome! The wolf likes teen musicals. How do you feel about High School Musical, then? Oh! And how about Glee? I wonder which character you'd most relate to..."
"Yeah?" asked Stiles.
"Just give me your phone and I'll call the pups," he said in resignation.
Stiles bit his tongue so he wouldn't comment on the term 'pups'.
"Can do," he chirped before reaching for his school bag where he had left his cell the night before.
The pups were on their way to Stiles' house so that Derek, at Stiles' frustratingly wise prompting, could fill them in on the current situation. Because of this, Derek knew it would be necessary for him to return to his human form. With Laura missing, Derek felt vulnerable and restless, both because she was his last remaining family member and because she was his alpha. Things were just a little better when he was in wolf form, and he was silently bemoaning that he had returned to the clarity and mixed emotions of humanity as he looked through Sheriff Stilinski's closet for something to wear, Stiles at his side.
"He has some tshirts near the back," coached Stiles before leaving his side to open the dresser across the room. "Do you think his jeans will fit you?"
Derek hummed to let Stiles know he was thinking. He found a simple, grey shirt hanging haphazardly inside a long-sleeved button-up in the back and grabbed it from the hanger to pull on. It was a curious feeling to be naked in front of someone who couldn't see him; he felt exposed without fur or fabric, but not gawked at.
"They might work, if I had a belt," he answered Stiles after poking his head through the shirt's neck hole and pushing his arms through the short sleeves. The shirt was tight across his shoulders and hung loosely around his belly, but it worked.
He replaced the button-up on the hanger and put it back in the closet before shutting the bi-fold door. As he turned around, he was struck in the side of the head by a pair of light-coloured jeans. He made a disgruntled 'harumph' that had Stiles snickering before leaning down to grab the jeans and try them on.
The doorbell rang just as Stiles was handing Derek a belt. Derek laced it through the loops of the jeans as he trotted down the stairs to answer the door, Stiles on his heels. When he pulled open the door, it was to reveal Erica and Isaac standing on the stoop looking wary.
"Derek," said Erica, when her eyes landed on him. Her shoulders loosened as if seeing him put her slightly more at ease. Derek guessed it was because he was the eldest beta of the pack. The thought seemed foreign considering his age and lack of experience. The sudden weight of responsibility felt like a bar of lead in his gut.
She pushed past him into the house, her expression turning predatory when she saw Stiles.
"Why are we here?" she asked, spinning around to face Derek again as he shut the door behind Isaac. She rolled her eyes when she seemed to notice that his hackles had risen at the look she had given Stiles. Derek gave her a stern look. It wasn't that he didn't like her being interested in Stiles, it was just that there wasn't time for them to turn the meeting into some sort of teenaged soap opera... really.
"Pack meeting," replied Derek, simply.
Erica rolled her eyes again, before finding her way into the living room. Isaac pressed into Derek's side monetarily seeking comfort from a higher ranking pack member, before following Erica. Derek wondered how the kid had fared staying home for two days knowing that his pack members were in some sort of trouble.
"No shit," grumbled Erica, "but why here?"
She gestured around the living room as she plunked down on the plush sofa.
"Because this is the safest place right now," responded Derek.
His words caused an instant reaction in Isaac's face and Erica's posture -they both suddenly looked wary, again; nervous and tense. The doorbell rang, then, and it startled Isaac enough to have his face transforming, fur sprouting on his contorting features. Erica quickly thwacked him on the shoulder, though, causing him to blink back to human.
"Knock it off, dumbass," she hissed. "It's probably just Boyd."
Derek glanced over his shoulder when he heard the front door open followed by Boyd greeting Stiles. He was standing in the kitchen having followed Erica and Isaac a few paces.
"Derek," said Boyd in greeting, stepping past him to join the other two on the couch. He looked calmer than the other two who looked like bottles of shaken coke, waiting to fizz over the moment the caps twisted, but he was still tense.
Stiles stepped up next to Derek, a solemn look on his face. All eyes were on Derek. Part of him wanted to turn tail and run, but he knew he needed the rest of the pack if he was going to get Laura back. He took a deep breath and blew it slowly out his nose. Stiles touched his arm in support. It felt right and helped embolden him.
"On Thursday night, another pack came onto our territory," started Derek. He stepped more fully into the living room and took a seat in the armchair across from the couch. Leaning forward in his seat and keeping his eyes trained on the three wolves, he continued. "They are the Kellstone pack and their Alpha is strong. I believe they came to claim L- our Alpha and our territory. As far as I know, they do not know there are more pack members than just us two."
"Where is Laura?" asked Boyd, stiffly.
Derek swallowed a few times, forcing the whine building in the back of his throat to stay silent.
"We were separated when the other pack attacked," said Derek, "I followed her scent yesterday to try to find her, but came to a dead end."
"How does an Alpha claim another Alpha?" asked Stiles thoughtfully and Derek cringed.
"Mating," he replied, simply.
The air left the room at that, even though probably no one other than Derek actually knew the true gravity of that single word.
"You mean rape," said Erika in disgust after a few beats.
Derek nodded, swallowing the lump in his throat a few times.
"More than that," he finally managed, "once they are mated, she will be his and so will all of us and our territory… everything."
More silence. Derek wanted to look around the room, but he couldn't manage to bring his eyes up from his white knuckles in his lap.
"So, how… when… has this already happened?" asked Isaac, meekly.
"No," said Derek.
"How do you know?" asked Boyd.
"We'd feel the call of the other alpha," answered Derek.
"So, how do we stop this from happening?" asked Stiles, then, his voice hard with determination.
"What do you care?" asked Erika, sharply.
Derek didn't even have to look to know how Stiles felt in that moment. He could feel the room compact on itself with Stiles' rage. The lighting changed to be just a tad darker and he could feel anger that wasn't his spark up his spine.
He sucked in a deep breath and glanced around the room to see the others' reactions, but no one else seemed to have noticed the change. He looked over at Stiles to see the youth clenching his jaw as if trying to hold back his anger.
"Why is Stiles even a part of this?" she asked, uncaring. "He's not a wolf, and it isn't like he gives a shit about any of us."
The angry spark in Derek's spine turned into a crackle of lightning, nearly knocking the breath from his lungs.
"Excuse me, but I've known Derek was a werewolf long before any of you were turned," Stiles finally snapped.
Derek could hear Stiles' pulse speeding up exponentially. The room's light flickered darker and redder with every one of Stiles' seething breaths. The lamps and overhead light weren't flickering, just the overall lighting of the room. It didn't make any sense and Derek couldn't figure out why no one else was reacting to it.
The angry scent Stiles was giving off and the look on his face was broadcasting 'possessive' at Derek in bold print. He might have wanted to look more closely at that considering a person would have to want something to feel so possessive over it, but he was too busy panicking over the state of the room. How were Stiles' emotions doing this? Was he more than just a human?
"...just because you have a stupid crush doesn't mean that-" Erika was saying when Derek tuned back into their argument.
"That's enough," he cut in, using his sternest voice.
Though it had nowhere near the power of his sister's alpha voice, it still managed to cow the three betas in the room. Boyd look annoyed and Isaac looked nervous.
"Stiles is helping us," he said with finality, though he added "I trust him" in a voice that was a little softer.
He could see Stiles immediately relax at his words and the lighting in the room returned to normal. Still, there was a residual anger tickling uncomfortably at the base of his spine that Derek really didn't understand how he knew was Stiles'. He looked over at Stiles consideringly before blew out a breath and turned back to his packmates.
"I followed her trail through the forest, but it came to a dead end in the clearing not far from the turn off to Nachstadt. I think the scent trail ended because they took her from there in a vehicle."
"You think they took her back to their pack to claim her," said Boyd, not even making a question of it.
Derek nodded, even though he actually wasn't sure.
"I can't know for certain," he said regretfully, "but it seems likely."
"Is there some sort of ritual they perform? Is that why they'd take her home without claiming her first?" asked Stiles, frowning thoughtfully.
"Yes and no," said Derek with a sigh. "There is a mating ritual, but it is more like a wedding than whatever it is you're probably thinking. The alpha can claim her and receive her pack without it."
"So, what's he waiting for?" muttered Stiles more to himself than to the others.
"What are we waiting for?" asked Isaac. "You sound like you know where their den is, so why don't we just go look for her there?"
"It would be dangerous…" started Derek, hesitantly.
"That hardly matters," said Erika, her arms crossed over her chest and her face an angry mask to hide her true feelings. She couldn't mask the fear in her scent, though. "We're in danger either way."
Boyd and Isaac were both nodding in agreement. Derek took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
"Their den is north of Alturas," he said. "They are a large pack and their territory stretches up into Oregon. I have no idea how many members are in their pack anymore, but it was large even when I was young. We have no chance against them in a fight."
"So, we sneak in incognito," said Stiles.
Erika let out a derisive snort. Derek growled at her to keep her from saying anything to upset Stiles again. For a girl with a great, big crush on Stiles, she sure was being miserable to him. Perhaps her fear was causing her to lash out.
"The moment we step onto their territory, they'll sense it," explained Derek.
Stiles quieted at that, closing off. It was not in anger or hurt, though. He was thinking. Derek could practically see the gears in his head turning as he thought it over. Derek couldn't help but feel a warm thankfulness for Stiles in that moment.
"I'm not even certain they took her back to their territory," he continued. "It's a long trek up to Alturas for her not to be there. We'll lose a lot of time if we chance it and she's not there. I don't even know how much time we do have. It could be days, it could be seconds."
"This seems pretty hopeless," said Boyd causing an unintentional whine to escape Isaac's throat. Isaac instantly looked embarrassed.
Everyone sat in silence for a few long minutes, then. Derek didn't have the heart to contradict what Boyd had said, even if to soothe Isaac's fears.
Before the fire, he had been the most tactile of the family, offering physical touch to anyone who seemed even remotely in need of it. Now, though, it was hard for him to give it. He felt torn looking at Isaac curled in on himself on the couch. He wanted to hug the teen and tell him it was going to be okay, but there was an equal force pulling at him, wanting him to just get out of the room, get away from them. He couldn't be depended on, he couldn't have these three betas following him like lost puppies, needing him.
He was had nearly worked himself into panic attack with his internal struggles, when Stiles suddenly broke the silence.
"When you said they'd instantly know if we crossed into their territory," he started, "did you mean because they sense other werewolves, or because they'll sense anyone new?"
Derek narrowed his eyes at Stiles, not sure exactly what the kid was thinking, but knowing he wasn't going to like it.
"They'll sense other wolves," he said, slowly.
"So, what you're saying is that I, in theory, could wander into their territory without raising any alarms," said Stiles, the corner of his mouth twitching.
"In theory, yes," said Derek, his frown growing, though he knew Stiles couldn't see it.
"So, what," started Erika, "you're just going to take a bus up there and snoop around poking at things with your white cane? How the hell is this going to help?"
The annoyance that suddenly clenched Derek's chest was strong. He wasn't sure if it was only his, or if Stiles was magically projecting his feelings, again.
"Erika," growled Derek.
"She has a point," offered Isaac, quietly.
"Two words," said Stiles, not dissuaded by their responses, "spy cam."
The three pups perked at that, but Derek felt his stomach twist uncomfortably.
"I happen to know a guy, who knows a guy, who could set us up with a pretty high-class spy camera," said Stiles. "You guys send me in and I'll scope the place out while you can still be looking elsewhere. We split up, we cover more ground, we have better chances at finding Laura."
The pups began to murmur their thoughts on the subject, seemingly considering the idea. Derek looked over at Stiles, sitting on the edge of the sofa chair, and grinning excitedly, and his heart began to twist right along with his stomach.
"No," he said, interrupting Stiles' explanation to a curious Isaac of how the camera worked. Everyone had suddenly seemed a lot more hopeful after Stiles had shared his idea, but there was no way Derek was going to let Stiles go in alone.
"Excuse you?" asked Stiles, giving him an unimpressed look.
"I'm not sending you in there by yourself," said Derek, shaking his head. "It is too dangerous."
He couldn't lose Stiles, too.
"One of you will be watching everything through the camera," countered Stiles, almost gently. "It has wireless capabilities, so you'll be watching in real time, and it has both video and audio. It'll be like sending in a spybot!"
"Except you aren't a robot, Stiles," said Derek, "we can't just replace you if you get hurt."
Stiles opened his mouth to argue back, but Derek saw the moment his words sunk in and Stiles' face suddenly turned a shade or two pinker. Stiles closed his mouth, a small smile tugging at his mouth before disappearing altogether. He cleared his throat before actually saying anything.
"Okay, but you don't have to be all the way back here," said Stiles. "You could set up just outside of their territory, right? Watch the video feed and then, if there's any trouble, you call for backup and come get me."
Stiles paused, and turned even darker pink.
"I mean, it doesn't have to be you, per se," he quickly fumbled to say. "It could be any of you. I'm sure you'll want to keep tracking her around here, I just… meant… you as in the royal you, you know?"
"No, it'll be me," said Derek, not bothering to react to Stiles' sudden bumbling. "If you're going, I'm coming with you. The pups have been learning to follow their noses."
Stiles grinned, obviously pleased.
"You do realize that wolf babies are cubs, not puppies, right?" he asked.
Derek rolled his eyes.
Stiles clapped his hands together, his pulse picking up and his scent changing to something anticipatory.
"So, we're doing this," he said.
"I don't like it, but…" said Derek, letting out a frustrated sigh, "I don't know of a better option."
Stiles pulled out his cell phone. Derek suspected it was to contact "the guy who knows a guy".
"So, if you and Stiles are going up to Alturas, what are we doing?" asked Boyd, then.
"There's another place that they might have gone," said Derek before pulling out his own cell and opening his map app. "There's an old den near Eagle Lake-"
Suddenly, the front door burst open and Derek was instantly on his feet.
"Stiles!" called out a semi-familiar voice as another body came crashing into the house, its scent and heartbeat suddenly disrupted Derek's senses and causing his hackles to rise.
"Scott?" asked Stiles in confusion.
"What's going on, Scott?" asked Stiles, hurrying into the kitchen.
"It healed!" exclaimed Scott, panting.
"The bite," said Scott, "it's completely he- whoa, you have company."
"That I do," said Stiles, grinning anxiously. He reached out and caught Scott's arm to lead him back into the entry, away from the living room of wolves. "What do you mean your bite healed?" he asked in a hushed voice.
"Everything will be healing faster for you, now," cut in Derek's voice just over Stiles' shoulder.
Stiles winced in surprise. Normally, he could hear footsteps or rustling of clothes to let him know he was being approached, but he had no idea Derek had followed them. Damn werewolves and their stealth.
"Uh, excuse me… what?" asked Scott, his voice sounding suddenly angrily defensive. He stepped closer to Stiles. "Stiles, why are these guys in your house? Are they having some sort of gang meeting? Why are you letting them have it here? ...HEY, where were you? Did you kill that dude on your lawn?"
Stiles winced at the angry accusation in Scott's tone directed at Derek . He really didn't need a fight right then.
"Yes," replied Derek, simply.
Stiles had kind of figured that much, but it still made his stomach roll. He preferred not to think about the metaphoric blood on Derek's hands -and the literal blood that had probably been on his hands, urgh.
"Stiles!" exclaimed Scott, his hand grasping Stiles' elbow. "Why are you granting sanctuary to a murderer?"
"Scott-" started Stiles, but Scott was back to yelling at Derek.
"Because of you, I got bit by some sort of wolf-bear hybrid!" exclaimed Scott, his grip on Stiles' elbow tightening with his fury. "What do you have on Stiles that he keeps getting wrapped up in your shit?"
"The bite healed because you've been changed into a werewolf," said Derek in a quiet voice.
Everyone froze at his words. It was as though Derek's statement had both sucked the air out of the room and stopped time altogether. For a full five seconds, no one moved, no one breathed. Then, Scott suddenly let go of Stiles' arm and let out an angry growl.
"You fucking asshole," he exclaimed and moved forward in a quick lunge.
The dull sound of his fist connecting with Derek's face somehow managed to echo through the room. Instantly, the three other werewolves jumped in, growling rabidly.
"THE FUCK?" exclaimed Scott hoarsely, stepping back to block Stiles from the creatures in the room.
Stiles rolled his eyes; his hero.
"Werewolves," was all Derek said in explanation.
There was a beat of silence. Isaac, Erika and Boyd probably stopped their attack at some sort of look Derek threw them, or perhaps they just didn't think Scott was actually a threat when they saw him. Either way, Stiles was happy his best friend hadn't had his internal organs torn from his body.
"Stiles, can I talk to you in private?" asked Scott from, what sounded like, between grit teeth.
"Unless you go really far away, it won't matter," said Erika, sounding smug.
"What?" asked Scott sounding lost and still quite angry.
"We werewolves have excellent hearing," explained Isaac.
A few more beats of silence.
"Stiles," whined Scott.
Stiles let out a sigh.
"Look, Scott," he started, "they aren't messing with you. Werewolves are an actual thing."
Despite the stressful encounter, Stiles couldn't help but feel a little giddy at finally getting to tell Scott that piece of juicy news. He knew his face was doing some sort of stupid grin thing, but he couldn't really help it.
"YOU KNEW THERE WERE WEREWOLVES AND YOU DIDN'T TELL ME?" exploded Scott, causing Stiles to startle, and, by the sounds of it, other occupants of the room, too.
"The alpha bit you, which means, now that you're turned, you're a member of his pack," said Derek, gravely. "Which means you are our enemy."
Stiles' stomach dropped at that.
"Fuck you!" exclaimed Scott, "You're a fucking werewolf, you're the enemy!"
"You're a werewolf, too, dumbass," said Erica. "Or have you been paying attention?"
"I don't want to be!" cried out Scott, and Stiles was starting to worry Scott would hyperventilate. "Take it back!"
"I didn't give it to you," replied Derek in monotone, "and I can't take it back."
"This is one doodle that can't be undid, homeskilett," whispered Stiles under his breath causing Boyd to snort in amusement. He immediately felt bad for it, especially when Scott made a whining sound in the back of his throat.
"Can we deal with Scott's identity crisis later?" asked Erica, then. "We kind of have bigger issues at the moment and we're. wasting. time."
"Bigger issues than the fact that some monster is running around biting random people and turning them into… werewolves?" asked Scott, angrily.
"Yes, actually," said Stiles, patting Scott's arm sympathetically.
Scott made a weird, dying whale sound and brushed up against Stiles.
"C'mon," said Stiles, directing Scott toward the living room, "let's get back to the planning."
"I'm not comfortable with Scott being here for this," said Erica in a tone that made it obvious that she was just trying to be an asshole (and succeeding).
"Hey," said Stiles, "if I'm on your guys' team, then so is Scott. I don't care who bit him, he's with me."
"This isn't flag football, Stiles," snapped Erica.
Derek let out a frustrated sigh and Stiles imagined him pinching the bridge of his nose.
"I'll take Scott with me," Derek said. "If he feels the call of his Alpha while we're out, I'll deal with it. You three will go to Eagle Lake and sniff out Laura. Call me if you find anything."
"Good, we have a plan," said Stiles. He pulled out his cell and pushed the button to turn on the screen. "Call Danny," he instructed his phone.
"That's 'your guy who knows a guy'?" asked Erica with a derisive snort.
"Danny's a genius," said Stiles, defensively.
"Werewolves," ground out Scott, sounding resigned and angry at the same time -if that even could happen.
Stiles frowned. He went back to simply concentrating on chewing his gum. He had always gotten easily carsick and, when he lost his sight, it had made traveling for long periods in a vehicle even worse.
Scott was in the back of Derek's car, Stiles in the front passenger seat and Derek driving. They had only been twenty minutes into the drive when Derek had decided Stiles' taste in music was disgraceful and had banned him from changing stations. Stiles had also received a soft slap to his hand about an hour into the drive when he had started playing with the tiny, hidden video camera in the middle button of his shirt.
Erica had been incredibly offended when they had asked her if she could sew the video button on. It had come as something of a surprise when Derek had let out an annoyed huff, grabbed the needle and thread from Stiles, and began to deftly sew the button onto his shirt where the real button had been.
It was excruciating riding with silent Derek and pouting Scott with nothing but Derek's soft jazz collection to listen to for the five hours. Stiles was thrumming with fearful excitement when they reached the outskirts of Alturas.
They pulled off at the Modoc National Wildlife Refuge parking lot just before the town, Derek taking his sweet time choosing the perfect parking spot in the tiny parking lot. Stiles figured he was nervous about letting Stiles go off alone, too. Finally, though, the vehicle came to a stop and Derek cut the engine. Stiles took a deep breath and slowly let it out through his nose before he unbuckled.
"Are you sure about this, Stiles?" asked Derek, his voice fakely cool.
"Little late to turn back now, don't you think?" returned Stiles, his voice coming out wobbly and foreign to his own ears. He laughed nervously in an attempt to cover it up, but it just made it worse.
No one said anything in response for a few beats, but then Stiles heard Derek's seat belt unclick followed by rustling. Then Derek's hand was on Stiles' shoulder.
"Stiles…" said Derek, but he didn't say anything else, just let it trail off.
Stiles chewed his bottom lip and nodded. He got it, he did. Derek didn't have a lot of allies and here he wasn't only sending a piddly human off to the literal wolves, but a blind one at that. The guy was feeling all sorts of guilty and nervous about it. Not to mention his sister's safety was depending on a stupid little teenaged invalid.
"I won't let you down, Derek," whispered Stiles, deciding to be brave and place his hand over Derek's on his shoulder for a second. He squeezed Derek's hand before letting go.
"Be safe," was all Derek said in response and Stiles was going to chalk it up to surprise that his stomach did that weird fluttery feeling thing.
Stiles nodded and reached for the door handle to get out of the car.
"Stiles," said Scott, suddenly.
"Yeah?" asked Stiles, pausing in his movement.
"I love you, man," whisper-spoke Scott as if the emotion behind those four little words was too intense to be spoken at a regular volume.
"I love you, too, Scott," said Stiles, smiling with wobbly lips, "take care of my dad."
He hated himself a little bit for giving in to acting as if he wasn't going to return, but he couldn't help it now that he was there. He grabbed the door handle and pushed out of the car, grabbing his backpack off the car floor before letting the door fall shut behind him. The slam of the door had a severe finality that had Stiles' stomach turning over queasily.
He extended his white cane and made his way toward the highway. Thankfully, it was equipped with rumble strips on the shoulder that he could use to guide him and keep him from wandering into the middle of the road. They had dropped him off as close as they could, but it was still a fair hike to get into town and he didn't' really have any idea how or where he would even begin to look for the Kellstone pack or Laura.
"You'll call my cell if I'm about to walk into a wolf's den, right?" asked Stiles, trying to sound light, but the hitch in his voice gave him away. He hoped Scott and Derek would assume it was just him being out of breath from his power walking.
It took him over a half hour to get into the town. The air was heavy with late morning heat and the unfamiliar stink of what Stiles was guessing was cow manure -the area was known for its ranches, after all. It had his stomach feeling hollow by the time he reached sidewalk.
He tripped a few times, the sidewalk uneven and completely missing in a few places in the aged, residential area. He continued forward, feeling conspicuous as such a memorable new person in such a small, hick town, assuming everyone he passed or who drove past were staring. Finally, he crossed a bridge and came to a few businesses.
The sidewalk was shallower and broken every few feet by an unfortunate tree and then a thin lamp post. Stiles ran his hand along the buildings, feeling their cinderblock-like walls. The smell of spicy food filled his nostrils. He knew the town was too small to be expected to incorporate braille or any other helpful things into their street signs and lights or store fronts, so he followed his nose, instead.
Besides banging on every door in the small city, he figured the best way to find the Kellstone pack was to find a local hang-out. A restaurant seemed like a good choice, especially since he couldn't go all Supernatural and find a bar, not with his being underage. He heard the whirr of tired air conditioner when he came to the front door of a building that seemed to be the source of the smell. Stiles took a deep breath and pushed the door open.
The smell of various spices grew tenfold and practically kicked him in the throat when he opened the door. Stiles was glad for the sandwich in his backpack because he doubted he could choke down whatever the hell it was they were cooking in the back if it was a saturated in seasoning as the air he was currently trying not to breathe.
"Welcome to Estrella del Desierto," spoke a young woman's voice, causing Stiles to turn his head to the left where it was coming from. "How-ow-ow maanny… hi, you're... new."
"¡Hola!" said Stiles with a grin. "Yeah, I'm just passing through. I'm told you're the best place to eat in town."
The hostess snorted, but recovered quickly.
"Can I show you to a table?" she asked, instead.
Stiles nodded and there was a few moments of silence that seemed awkward even to Stiles before the hostess finally touched his shoulder. Stiles smiled at her general direction and held out his elbow for her to take.
"Are you meeting anyone else?" she asked as they walked.
"Just me," replied Stiles.
She came to a stop and he reached out to feel for the table, when his hand found it, he reached with the other for the chair and then took his seat.
"I'm going to assume our menus will be no use to you," she said, sounding nervous of bringing it up as if her acknowledging Stiles' reality would, in some way, offend or embarrass him.
"Naw," said Stiles giving her another smile in hopes of calming her nerves. "What's your most popular dish?"
"Our Jalapeno Enchiladas with refried beans and nopalito salad is by far our best seller," she said, sounding a little relieved.
"Whew, sounds like something that'll have me running to the bathroom every ten minutes," said Stiles before his filtre could warn him not to. He really need to get a replacement, it was damn laggy and always getting him into embarrassing situations. He felt his cheeks warm and cleared his throat before asking "can I just get a coffee and a glass of water?"
"Sure," said the hostess, sounding amused, "I have some Pan dulce left from breakfast, I'll bring you a plate of those, too."
"Uh.. yeah, sure," said Stiles, not even certain what that was, but he'd go with it.
She left him, then, and Stiles relaxed back in the chair, tired from walking out in the sun. He listened carefully for the voices of other patrons in the small restaurant. There were a few elderly men to his right discussing the weather and something to do with growing seasons and cattle pastures. Stiles quickly discounted them. Behind him, a few ladies were talking, one stopping every so often in the middle of the conversation to get after her child. They probably weren't what he was looking for, either. He could hear the scrape of cutlery against ceramic to this left, but there were no voices.
"It's a muggy one, today, yeah?" said Stiles in a voice slightly louder than his normal speaking voice. He hoped whomever was to his left would answer.
He heard the scrape of utensil against plate, again. Then there was a pause in the movement.
"They're calling for even hotter tomorrow," came a deep-voiced reply.
"Figures," said Stiles with a sardonic smile directed toward the guy.
The man hummed and went back to eating, or trying to make slow, boring music with his fork and plate, whichever. Stiles grumbled inwardly. The shelf of mystery novels in his bedroom had seriously done him a disservice by making it seem so easy. According to the laws of young adult fiction, he should have already found out all the information he needed. He had followed the rules; had entered a locally owned restaurant and talked to the locals -that's all it should take. Right?
"Hey, do you know any Kellstones?" asked Stiles, hoping he was making the correct assumption that the name of the pack was taken from the alpha's family name. "I'm supposed to be meeting my cousin… Sean, Sean Kellstone, but...uh… I'm a day early and… it's been more than a few years."
Stiles really hoped he wasn't talking to a werewolf right then because his heart was pounding in his chest and he was certain one would hear it.
"I'm not so great with… navigating," he added with a quick gesture toward his eyes.
It was kind of a low move, but he figured a little bit of uncomfortable sympathy might get him a better response than general suspicion.
"Never heard-a no Sean Kellstone," said the man after a few beats of silence, "but there's a Terry Kellstone with a little ranch North-a here."
"That'd be the family," he said, nodding. "Good, ol' Uncle Terry," he ventured, hoping beyond hope he had the person's gender right. Damn unisex names!
The hostess returned with Stiles' coffee and a plate of that pan douche, or whatever, stuff, then, stopping the other man from responding. The alpha was a single male, though, so Stiles hoped he had been right to use "uncle" and that whomever he was talking to hadn't been made suspicious of him.
"No one's been here in a long time," came Erica's voice the moment Derek answered the call.
Derek closed his eyes and ground his jaw, his nostrils flaring as he let out a heavy breath. He looked back down at the laptop screen he and Scott had been pouring over since Stiles had walked out of view.
"Give it another once over and head back to Beacon Hills," he instructed before ending the call.
"Do you know Terry Kellstone?" asked Scott after hearing Stiles claim the guy as his uncle over the laptop's speakers.
Derek shook his head in answer, though Scott was looking at the screen so wouldn't have seen the movement anyway.
"No," said Derek, "my mom was in contact with them once or twice when I was little, but our packs mostly tried to stay out of each other's ways. The name Terry isn't familiar, though. I don't think he was the alpha when my parents were alive."
"I don't like how that guy keeps looking over at Stiles," said Scott after a long pause. "What do you think?"
"I don't know," said Derek, frowning at the screen.
The man Stiles had spoken to was sitting just to his side at another table. His plate was clean and his coffee cup nearly empty, and yet, he continued to sit, looking over at Stiles every so often. Derek narrowed his eyes when the man pulled out a cell and began typing a text.
"It could be nothing," said Derek, hoping he was right.
"Or he could be alerting the rest of the pack," hissed Scott, sounding panicky. "We should go get Stiles."
"We don't know that," argued Derek, still watching the man in the corner of the screen while the Mexican pastries on Stiles' plate disappeared at an alarming rate. "If we set one foot into Kellstone territory, the pack will definitely be on the alert."
"I still can't believe you're doing this," complained Scott, shooting Derek an accusatory glare. "The way Stiles talks about you, I thought maybe you actually cared about his well-being."
"I do care!" growled Derek, his hand tightening on the car's stick shift as his claws threatened to spring free. Derek forced himself to relax, but he was already so on edge that the topic was pretty much the final straw. "I do care about his well-being," said Derek a little calmer. "He was the one who came up with this plan.. and I wouldn't have let him go through with it if I had any other option."
Scott was looking at him with a measuring look when Derek dared glance over at him. He didn't like the look, it was as if Scott had discovered something very interesting about Derek.
"I should have known this was all Stiles," said Scott, instead of bringing up whatever it was that had the gears in his head turning a moment earlier, "it has his trademarked 'flying by the seat of our pants' theme to it. How is he supposed to find the pack without being obvious about it when he can't even…" Scott didn't finish the sentence, instead just letting his shoulders drop with a heavy sigh.
"How long have you two-" asked Derek.
"Since forever," cut in Scott almost vehemently before softening his voice to continue. "Our dads used to work together. Then my dad fucked off and, soon after, Stiles' mom died and… we needed each other."
Derek took in a slow, long breath. He had been sure that Scott was dating that hunter's daughter, but the way the boys had exchanged "I love you"s before Stiles had left the car had changed his mind. He had thought that perhaps this thing between them was new. It could have been a long time coming, but was brand new and Scott had just recently dropped Allison because of it. But Scott was saying that they'd been together for...ever.
He wasn't sure why he cared, though. It wasn't like he was jealous or anything. He didn't want Stiles like that, he was just… he… he didn't know.
"It's good he has someone who cares so much about him," Derek finally managed to croak after realizing he hadn't responded.
Scott hummed in response, eyes never leaving the laptop screen.
Derek turned his attention back to the laptop, too. If they were lucky, they were in for a long day of sitting in the sweltering car watching Stiles' meanderings from the vantage point of his shirt button. Of course, they weren't so lucky.
After Stiles finished and had paid for his coffee, he had made his way back through the restaurant to find the front door. The hostess must have forgotten that she had been his guide to his table, because she was nowhere in sight to help him back to the front. Derek was impressed to witness how well Stiles had remembered the route, though. It panged in his chest to realize that it was a skill that Stiles had probably picked up quite quickly from necessity.
When Stiles pushed open the front door, though, there were two police officers standing outside next to their car. They looked up when Stiles stepped out, and, to Derek's horror, advanced on him.
"Excuse me," said the first officer, rather politely, making her presence known to Stiles.
Stiles stopped. Derek knew he couldn't know that they were police, but the authority in the woman's tone had to have Stiles at least on edge.
"Yes?" asked Stiles, his voice sounding tight through the laptop speakers.
"I'm Officer Davies of the Alturas Police Department," she said. "If you wouldn't mind coming with us, we have a few questions for you."
"Oh shit," exhaled Scott.
Derek agreed with the sentiment, entirely. His mind was reeling with possibilities and he didn't like any of them.
"Can I ask what this is in relation to?" asked Stiles, voice calm but there was an edge to it that Derek had never heard before. It wasn't fear, it was like an annoyed confidence -which, if Derek thought about it, made sense considering Stiles' father was a sheriff. Perhaps they weren't quite as fucked as he had initially thought.
"We think you may have information pertaining to a recently filed missing person's report," she replied, easily. The way she narrowed her eyes, though, made Derek think she was suspicious of Stiles' strangely well-practiced answer.
"And if I refuse?" asked Stiles as the second officer stepped up onto the sidewalk from the street.
"Your cooperation would be greatly appreciated in our investigation, however, you are free to leave," she replied.
Scott and Derek both relaxed.
"You aren't under arrest, Hale," said the male officer in a low, cocky voice that had Derek's hair standing on end and his proverbial hackles rising. "but, I strongly suggest you come with us."
"Is he...?" asked Scott, letting the question trail off because they both knew what he was asking.
"I don't know," said Derek, "but he obviously knows about us."
Scott balked at 'us', obviously still against the concept of being a werewolf himself.
Derek glared at the laptop screen trying to memorize the face of the male police officer and, perhaps, recall any familiariarities in it. When the Kellstone pack had attacked, they were in their wolf and beta forms, so it would be unlikely he would recognize the man's human face, anyway.
"Will you show me your badge?" asked Stiles, but it was more of a demand.
The female police officer pulled out her badge and held it out for Stiles to touch. Derek watched Stiles' familiar hand run fingertips over the metal badge.
"Okay," said Stiles, the fight mostly gone out of his voice.
The male police officer grinned in triumph, stepping forward to take Stiles by the elbow and lead him to the squad car. Derek couldn't help the soft growl he emitted when the possible wolf got so close to his m… to Stiles. The female officer left them to it, going to the driver's side to get in and use the radio.
"Don't bump your head," warned the male officer as Stiles got into the car, though it somehow sounded more like a threat than anything.
"What do we do, now?" asked Scott when all they could see was the divider and bottom half of the metal grate between the backseat and the front of the police car.
Derek didn't respond to Scott, instead grabbing his phone and calling Erica.
"Erica," he said when she answered. "We need some backup."
"Sean Kellstone," repeated Stiles in disbelief.
Derek couldn't believe their luck. The man at the restaurant had been texting the police, had sent them a tip. Stiles had pulled a random name out of his ass and somehow managed to find one that actually fit a local.
"So, you can see why we'd be concerned," said the woman police officer.
"Only Stiles," muttered Scott, shaking his head.
"I had no idea he was missing," said Stiles, finally.
"Now, see, that's hard to believe," said the possible-wolf officer. "You sounded very much like you didn't expect him home when you were asking around for him."
Derek couldn't help the low growl he emitted when the smirky officer leaned over the table and nearly into Stiles' personal space. He couldn't see Stiles' face, but from what he could see and hear of him, the boy didn't seem intimidated. Derek was a little impressed.
"It seems a little counterintuitive to start raising questions about a missing person if I were involved in the first place," countered Stiles, evenly, though there was an extra bite to his tone that let Derek know he was seething on the inside.
The possible-wolf frowned at Stiles' excellent logic, retreating back to his side of the table. He opened the folder in front of him and Derek got an upside-down view of a photograph of the so-called Sean Kellstone. A young man with pale skin, long blond hair, and startlingly blue eyes. He was the were that had attacked Derek in his home. He was the one Derek had killed.
….He was the one the police in Beacon Hills were investigating the death of.
"We have to get Stiles out of there," Derek spoke, panic in his voice.
"What?" exclaimed Scott, tensing and looking at Derek with wide-eyes.
"The police might not already know," said Derek, feeling antsy and itchy like a thousand spiders were crawling under his skin, "but that one officer sure as hell does. Stiles is going to be held in custody if he doesn't get out of there right away."
Derek's heart was thundering. He needed to get out of the small, over-heated confines of the car. He needed to shift; needed to run. All it would take was one phone call between the Beacon Hills PD and the Alturas PD and Stiles would go from being a person of interest in the investigation of a missing person, to being a suspect in a murder.
"What are you doing in Alturas?" asked the female police officer, still all business with a polite face and tone.
Derek winced. Stiles knew better than to lie to the police, but what could he say?
"Considering you knew I was asking around for Sean, you probably already know the answer to that," said Stiles, evasively.
The woman officer frowned.
"How did you travel here?" she asked.
"You mean because I'm blind and alone?" snapped Stiles in false offense. "How could the pathetic blind boy find his way?"
Derek watched as a few emotions passed over the woman police officer's face. She didn't respond right away as if trying to decide what to say next. It was obvious that she could tell Stiles was purposely evading her questions. Fortunately, she didn't seem to have any inkling as to why.
"I need to make a phone call," said the possible-wolf, his smarmy grin gone and an angry frown in its place. "I'll be right back, you okay with him?"
His partner nodded, a confused frown on her face.
"So, what do we do?" asked Scott.
Derek had no idea. They couldn't just drive into town and kidnap Stiles out of the police department. As tempting as it was, they really didn't need the police department and the local werewolf pack coming down on them. They still had no idea where Laura was. Stiles was, be it minutes or hours, on the cusp of being found out. If they called Beacon Hills for any reason, if they found out Stiles was from there; If someone back at the Beacon Hills PD found out the body in their morgue was that of Sean Kellstone, matching the missing person report to the body -well, it wouldn't be good. Stiles' father would be involved, Stiles would be held as a suspect, and someone from the Kellstone pack would have to come to identify the body. They would smell Derek on Stiles.
Stiles was in the thick of everything
...and it was Derek's fault.
"We wait for the rest of our pack to arrive," said Derek, lowly.
"Then…" he started, but let it trail off and, instead, let out a deep sigh because he didn't know.
He didn't know.
Stiles felt nauseated.
He had absolutely no idea how he would talk his way out of this were his father to get involved. He shouldn't have gone with the police. He should have just continued on. He would have, even though he knew they'd be back after him if they were truly set on getting information from him. They'd go back to the precinct and find something to hold him on. Still, it would be enough time for him to get back to Scott and Derek.
The problem was… the thing that had him going with them was that one simple little word. Just like many other four-lettered words before it, it had power when spoken the right way -power over Stiles, at least. The officer had called him Hale.
The officer knew.
Was he a werewolf? Had he smelled Derek on Stiles with his werewolf sense of smell? Was Stiles wearing a bright red tshirt with "I 3 Derek Hale" printed on it in bold? Had someone back at the restaurant smelled Derek on him or recognized him as being from Beacon Hills?
There was only one way Stiles would find out the answers to his questions. So, he went with them. Officer Davies would keep him safe from Officer Wolf, right? He hoped so. She seemed sane enough.
Now, though, he was sitting alone in some interrogation room like an actual suspect and he had time to think. Well, more like time to worry and get dizzily close to a panic attack. He wasn't so much worried about being in a confined space with an evil werewolf masquerading as a police officer. No, he was much more worried about having his identity found out and his father alerted. The very last thing he wanted was for his dad to get mixed up in this.
Davies had asked him a number of questions, nearly all of which he fairly easily deflected, while Officer Wolf had left to "make a phone call". Stiles hadn't liked the sound of that. Was the guy alerting his pack?
While deflecting the officer's questions and sensing her growing frustration, Stiles had managed to ask his own questions. She had been just as successful in deflecting his as he had hers. It was like they were in some sort of epic Olympic ping pong showdown; "How do you know the Kellstone family?" "I really don't know them all that well. What's your partner's deal?" "I don't know what you mean. Why were you asking for Sean Kellstone?" "Because I didn't know where he was. Doesn't it make you nervous how shady your partner acts?" "Speaking of my partner, why did he call you Hale?" "You should ask him that. While you're at it, you should ask him if he knows what happened to this Sean Kellstone character. He seems to know a lot."
She seemed to get tired of not getting anywhere with Stiles and had left, offering him a glass of water before going. Stiles knew never to take the glass of water. He would have known that even if he hadn't practically grown up in a police station. TV fails at a lot of things, but it does seem to give good advice on that front; don't give the police your DNA.
It felt like forever, but it was highly likely that it had only been a couple minutes, before someone reentered the room. Stiles attempted a small smile; Davies had been nothing but pleasant and professional, and Stiles almost felt bad for making things so hard on her. He knew she was just trying to do her job.
The smile fell off his face real quick, though, when he realized it wasn't cop numero uno, but cop numero dos -more like cop numero douche!
"Alright, sir ," said probably-has-a-small-dick cop, emphasizing the 'sir' because Stiles never did give them his name. "You're free to go."
Stiles frowned. The guy sounded smug.
"If you'll come with me," continued the werewolf cop ( damn, but that'd make a cool movie ), "I'm happy to drive you back to where we picked you up, or elsewhere if you prefer."
"How very courteous of you, Officer ," replied Stiles through grit teeth.
He got to his feet and tried his best not to shudder when the man laid a hand on his shoulder to help direct him out of the room.
"It is no trouble at all," said WolfCop ( seriously, best. movie. ever. ...Stiles needed to get on this ). "We really appreciate your cooperation in this case."
Stiles wanted to stab the guy with his cane. He needed to get one of those canes with sharpened ends that are actually swords in disguise, pronto.
"I'm happy to help," said Stiles faux-sweetly, instead, as the were-officer led him through the department.
They walked through a set of doors, stepped down off the curb, and then the officer was opening the passenger side door of the police car for Stiles and helping him get inside.
"Where's Officer Davies?" asked Stiles, but he wasn't all that surprised they were leaving alone. It would definitely be a lot harder for Douchy-Wolf-with-a-Badge to kidnap Stiles with an actual police officer in the car. Stiles had no doubts in mind that this was exactly that -a kidnapping.
Stiles buckled his seatbelt as he waited for the cop to get in the driver's side. The door fell shut and then the asshole wolf was in Stiles' face, his breath hot on the bridge of Stiles' nose.
"Whah… Bad Touch," squeaked out Stiles just as the wolf cop growled "Where's your alpha?"
Instead of correcting him, Stiles glared angrily and spat out, "that's what I'd like to know, Fleabag."
"Not the Hale Bitch, you moron ," growled the guy, his hand coming down on Stiles' shoulder and squeezing angrily. Stiles couldn't help but wince that time. " Your alpha. I can smell him all over you."
"I don't have a clue what you're talking about," Stiles growled back, his fear causing an angry bubble of defiance to form in his chest. "Laura is the only alpha in my hometown."
"Then why do I smell submission all over you like some sort of stench ?" spat the wolf cop.
Stiles furrowed his brow in confusion, but quickly attempted to school his face into something neutral. He had no idea what the guy was talking about, but it was probably best for the guy to not realize that. Instead, Stiles set his jaw and gave him a determined glare.
"Fine," groaned the idiotic fake-cop wolf wannabe after a few moments. He started the engine and pulled away from the police department. "If you won't tell me where he is, I'll just lure him out."
"Oh yeah?" asked Stiles, knowing it was the lamest come back ever, but what can a newly kidnapped guy do? There's only so much wit that can come out of a person's mouth when he's experiencing a traumatic event.
"I have you," said the officer. "You reek of all sorts of emotions. I bet you're your alpha's favorite what with that terrible submission stink wafting out of every single last one of your pores. You're like an open cesspool of pack-bitch pheromones. Your alpha will come for you."
Stiles was indignant while, at the same time, being completely confused/intrigued. He had no idea what the guy was talking about. At least the whole scent thing confirmed the guy was, indeed, a werewolf. Although, Stiles wasn't feeling any better about his current status as a kidnapping victim knowing that his kidnapper was a werewolf and was undoubtedly taking him to a pack of them.
He knew Scott and Derek were listening in, but it didn't actually serve to make him feel any better. If anything, it worried him. He didn't want Derek rushing in to try to save the day. Douchey WolfCop wanted just that. Well, he wanted to lure Stiles' alpha out, but since Stiles didn't even have an alpha, nor was he part of any werewolf pack, Derek would be the one lured.
"Are you taking me to Laura?" asked Stiles after a few minutes of silence.
"She's none of your concern," the werecop practically growled.
Stiles couldn't help but roll his eyes.
"Cliched super-villain much?" he asked.
"Shut up," the cop spat. "She's ours, now, so she's no concern of yours. I'd be more concerned for yourself right now, were I you."
"Again with the cheesy lines," said Stiles with an exasperated sigh. "I'm disappointed in you."
"I will fucking bash your head into the dashboard if you don't shut up."
Stiles smirked cockily at him, but went quiet just the same. He needed his wits about him for whatever was coming next and a mild concussion wouldn't be ideal.
They continued along in silence. Stiles gave up easily on trying to memorise the turns they took and the times in between. He wasn't certain what Derek and Scott were able to see of the journey via his button camera, but he knew they'd find him.
"What do you want with Laura, anyway?" asked Stiles when he couldn't stand the silence any longer. It pushed his mind into overdrive.
"I don't want anything with her," growled the wolf in response.
The police radio snicked on, then, with a bit of white noise. Stiles listened as one officer asked where the young male brought in for questioning had gone. A few seconds later, another officer said that Officer Kellstone was taking him home.
"Home," said Stiles in deadpan. "How nice of you, Officer Kellstone ."
He had already known the guy was a werewolf. He had assumed it since the guy had referred to him as Hale. He hadn't actually thought the guy was a Kellstone, though, or at least that he wasn't going by it openly.
"Why are they letting you work a case that has to do with your family member?" asked Stiles.
"It's a small town," replied Officer Kellstone ( McDouche ) as if that made any sense as an answer.
"Yep," answered Stiles seriously, nodding his head. "Also, the sky is blue."
"How would you know?" snarled McDouche ( definitely McDouche, forget that Officer Kellstone shit ).
"Oh, hah, hah, mock the blind kid for being blind," laughed Stiles angrily. "How absolutely witty of you!"
"We're almost there," said McDouche, lowly. "Think you can stay quiet that long? Or should I knock you unconscious?"
"How did you even get on the force?" asked Stiles in exaggerated bewilderment.
"Charming," he said under his breath after McDouche growled him into silence.
"We have to go!" exclaimed Scott sounding panicked.
Derek glanced sideways at him and saw his teeth elongating. Shit. Having his boyfriend kidnapped by a werewolf posing as a police officer was just the kind of stressor Scott needed to instigate his first shift.
"Calm down," said Derek, gruffly.
"Calm down?" exclaimed Scott. "They have Stiles!"
"I know," said Derek. "I know, Scott, but you need to calm down."
"Fuck you," growled Scott and it actually sounded more like a growl than anything human. "This is all your fault. I told Stiles to stay away from you. I told him you were bad news. He didn't listen, you had your claws in him and he wouldn't listen. Now he's been kidnapped and I'm supposedly going to turn in a werewolf and it is all. your. fault."
"I'm sorry," said Derek, because he was.
"I don't want an apology," exclaimed Scott, his voice doing a strange shaky, pitchy thing in his distress, "I want you to fix it ."
"I will," said Derek.
"Okay, so... let's go !"
"We have no idea where they are," said Derek, speaking slowly and gently. Scott was obviously in no shape to be rational. "We can't see out the window through Stiles' camera. All we can see is the dashboard. We need to wait until they get out of the car and we can see their surroundings, or until the guy says something revealing."
Scott sat back heavily in his seat and crossed his arms over his chest managing to look both resigned and petulant at the same time. His heartbeat had slowed enough that Derek was no longer worried about an immediate shift. Derek turned his attention back to the laptop.
"...reek of all sorts of emotions. I bet you're your alpha's favorite what with that terrible submission stink wafting out of every single last one of your pores. You're like an open cesspool of pack-bitch pheromones. Your alpha will come for you."
Derek's heart stuttered in his chest. He looked over at Scott who was staring out the window with his jaw set and his teeth grinding. Turned wolves couldn't be alphas without killing an alpha for it. Derek narrowed his eyes at Scott and attempted to subtly scent the air between them. Scott couldn't be an alpha, could he? Derek would have sensed that already, right? Except that he probably couldn't, not with Scott having never shifted.
He turned back to the laptop. He could feel a prickle at the back of his neck, suddenly unnerved at the idea of sharing such a small space with a brand new wolf who was also very likely an alpha -an alpha not his own -an alpha because he murdered the big, black one that had bit him. Had Scott really gone after the wolf that had bitten him? Had he really killed him? Derek couldn't imagine it, but…
He looked back over at Scott, again. Scott had perked and was staring out the window in interest.
"What?" asked Derek.
"I'm pretty sure that sedan drove by ten minutes ago," said Scott.
Derek looked past him to see a dark blue sedan driving below the speed limit down the highway. He narrowed his eyes, trying to catch a look at driver's face, but the windows were tinted. The vehicle sped up once it was past.
"Do you think that-" started Scott, giving Derek a nervous look.
"Keep an eye out," directed Derek, swallowing down his own nerves. "We'll leave, soon."
"This was such a bad plan," whined Scott, shifting in his seat and swallowing audibly.
Derek took in a deep breath and let it slowly out through his nose. Erica and the others would be arriving soon. He'd have back-up soon enough and everything would work itself out once they knew where the Kellstone pack was situated. He just needed to calm down and believe it.
"Are you taking me to Laura?" Derek heard Stiles ask, but the guy didn't confirm or deny. Derek let out a frustrated huff of breath.
"Okay, now there's a police car driving by really slow," said Scott, sounding near panicked as he slouched in his seat in a pathetic attempt at hiding. "We should go."
"Go where?" asked Derek, "We don't know where they're headed."
Scott just shook his head because, obviously, he didn't know. Derek watched as the teen wiped sweat from his brow with his hand and then rubbed his undoubtedly clammy hands on his jeans. He turned back to the laptop in time to see the face of the angry police officer in the corner of the screen like Stiles had turned in his seat to see him. The guy looked murderous.
"Don't egg him on, you idiot," whispered Derek at the screen, though he knew Stiles couldn't hear him.
Derek and Scott spent the next quarter of an hour just watching the dashboard of the police car as it vibrated with the car's movement, listening for any tells as to where the werewolf was headed with Stiles.
The heat in the camaro was getting to be unbearable by then and Derek was just about to turn the car back on for a short air conditioned reprieve when the blue sedan from earlier pulled into the parking lot.
"Oh shit," hissed Scott, seeing it as well. "Shit, shit, shit!"
He reached for his seat belt and flapped at hand at Derek. Derek assumed he was motioning for him to drive, but it seemed pointless to run. Instead, he opened the driver's side door and stepped out. Two people got out of the back seat of the sedan and made their way toward him. They smelled like wolves. Derek let his eyes flash at them, his teeth elongating.
"What are you doing here, omega?" asked the woman, her teeth also sharp and her eyes flashing blue.
"None of your business," growled Derek, taking a few steps toward them to show he wasn't afraid.
"We're the only pack around here," said the man, tall and slim and built like an athlete. " Of course this is our business."
"This isn't your territory," said Derek straightening and shrugging. He gave them a smile and tilted his head to the side to regard them curiously.
It accomplished what he had intended it to do and they were both growling angrily at him. So, Stiles wasn't the only one who acted cocky in a bad situation. Derek cursed internally, knowing he was about to enter a world of pain, but that it would be the fastest way to gather information.
Two more people got out of the front of the vehicle, then. They didn't smell like wolves. Derek furrowed his brow and scented the air. It smelled of wolfsbane.
"What-" was all he managed before the two wolves lunged at him and a wolfsbane laced bag was brought down over his head to blind him.
He let out a loud, angry bellow as he was wrestled to the ground before choking on the wolfsbane-polluted oxygen filling his lungs. He thrashed wildly but was quickly subdued, rope that must have also been laced with wolfsbane was tied around his wrists holding them in place and searing his skin. He howled in pain and kicked out his legs. He managed to knock someone down but was simply awarded with a hit across the face with something hard.
He distantly heard Scott crying out before he was picked up by two people and thrown into the trunk of the car.
Fuck his life.
Another body, probably Scott, was dropped on top of him and he let out a grunt of pain. Scott was whimpering and squirming around on top of him. Then the trunk closed and they were pressed even harder together. Derek let out a puff of air like it had been steamrolled out of him and then struggled to take another breath. It felt like his lungs were bleeding from having to drink their air through the wolfsbane filter covering his head.
"Why do my lungs hurt?" gasped Scott before accidently kneeing Derek in the balls.
Derek grunted. The car lurched forward, then, and Derek rolled an inch, bending his left leg at a weird angle and pressing Scott's knee even harder into Derek's balls.
Fuck his life.
Ava Davies had only been on the force for just under a year. In that time, she had been treated to nicknames such as "newbie", "kiddo", "greenhorn", and "greenie". It only moderately irritated her, though, considering it was pretty par for the course for anyone straight out of the academy.
Mostly, she enjoyed Alturas. It was in a small town where the people were friendly and nothing too terrible ever happened. Being stationed at the department there was definitely a nice way to start her career as a police officer. She did hope that she could move on to a different precinct in the next five years, though. She worried that she might grow complacent and stagnant in a small community.
She'd been working mostly alongside Officer Kellstone; dealing with the shenanigans of bored local teenagers, checking out the odd domestic disturbance, and handing out speeding tickets on the highway just outside of town. You know, just the usual stuff. So, perhaps it was merely a desire for something more interesting, but over the past few months, she had been noticing things. There was never anything concrete that she could point to and say 'hey', but there were things that just felt off.
Mostly, it was Officer Kellstone. His name was Terry, and though everyone else on the small force seemed to hold him in high regard, he seemed a little shady. It was as if he had hung the moon, the way people looked up to him, so there was no one for Ava to go to about her suspicions. Plus, she never actually saw him do anything illegal.
Often, she would doubt her instincts, push thoughts aside and just tell herself she was bored and projecting her dislike of the guy. Still, she couldn't help but narrow her eyes every time he took a random civilian aside to talk quietly with them out of her earshot. She was a fellow police officer, what was he saying to these people that she couldn't hear? He was always making random phone calls when they got back to the department, too, and Ava couldn't rid herself of that niggling suspicion every time.
Then Sean went missing.
It was strange, she thought, that when the guy's own son went AWOL, he was practically the one leading the investigation. Shouldn't he have been taken off the case being so emotionally invested? Wasn't that policy? And Ava didn't understand why he wasn't being treated as a witness or suspect or something, considering, again, that the missing person was his own son.
When the blind kid (she meant no disrespect, but the kid hadn't given them his name) had turned up in town that morning and they received an anonymous tip (by someone not quite so anonymous to Kellstone -they had texted Kellstone's own personal cell phone with the tip!) that he had been asking around for Sean, Ava's suspicions began to come to a head. Supposedly, the kid had been claiming Terry was his uncle. Yet, when they had shown up, the kid seemed to have no idea that the other police officer was he.
The kid had grown wary of Terry right from the moment Terry had said 'hail'. There was no doubt in Ava's mind that Officer Terry Kellstone had known who the blind kid was. From the way the kid responded to that simple word -growing rigid and tense, a frown pulling at his mouth- it was obvious that it meant something. Ava wanted to feel indignant that Terry thought her so clueless, but she was mostly just grateful he was so stupidly confident to drop the clue in front of her.
When Terry had left with the kid in tow (after making another of his mysterious phone calls), Ava decided to do some digging. First, she had looked up who had even filed the missing person's report. Surprisingly, Terry had not been the one to do it. Why hadn't he been worried about Sean going missing? Had he even known beforehand that his own son (adult, though he was) had been unaccounted for?
It had been Sean's boss who had called the department after Sean had missed two days in a row of work without a single word.
Terry hadn't been officially questioned.
Terry was allowed to field most of the phone calls and lead the investigation into his son's disappearance.
Ava spent a long time trying to figure out the random word Terry had said to the kid. "Hail"; was it a code word? No, after some digging, she suspected it was a name. She found information about a possible arson nearly eight years prior in a small city south of them named Beacon Hills. It was a house fire that had killed nearly an entire family. The family name was Hale.
Suddenly, it seemed as though whatever was going on was a lot bigger and ran a lot deeper than she could have guessed. If this kid was a Hale, if there was some sort of feud going on between the Kellstones and the Hales, if arson, murder, and kidnapping was involved… well, the police needed to be involved.
It was then that the call had come in.
"Hello, Alturas Police Department, Officer Davies speaking," answered Ava.
"Hello, this is Sheriff Stilinski of the Beacon Hills department," spoke the voice on the other end of the call. "I'm calling about an open missing person's case, a Sean Kellstone. We've recently recovered a body that matches his description."
Ava's eyes widened.
"Thank you, Sheriff," she said after a short pause, her heart hammering in excitement. She cleared her throat nervously before speaking again. "What... uh, what would you like us to do?"
The moment she had said it, she wanted to smack the phone against her forehead. There was a long pause on the other end as if the man was completely baffled by her insolence. Ava wanted to smack herself, again. She almost did.
"Uh…" she exhaled squeakily, wanting to fix it, but unsure of how.
"I was hoping you could get into contact with Sean Kellstone's next of kin," spoke the Sheriff quite slowly, as if he thought she was a little slow, herself. "We'd like someone to come identify the body."
"Right, right," said Ava, nodding and rolling her eyes at herself. She was so busy internally freaking out over the fact that Sean Kellstone's body had possibly been found in Beacon Hills, that she had just… well, it wasn't like she dealt with this sort of thing daily. "I can make some calls and send someone down there as soon as possible."
"Great, thanks," said the sheriff, still sounding a bit off-put by her earlier freeze-up. "Give us a shout when you-"
"Uh, Sheriff?" she stammered, knowing he was about to end the call.
"Yes?" answered the sheriff.
"I was just looking through some old reports and I came across this one that...," she started, but trailed off. "Sheriff, did you work the Hale fire case?"
There was a pause where all she could hear was the hum and bustle of the Beacon Hills department beyond the sheriff. It was obviously a busier place than Alturas PD.
"Yes," said the sheriff, his voice suddenly sounding different -a little perplexed and a lot wary.
"I… saw that it was labeled as a possible arson, but that was never confirmed either way," she said.
Why did it feel so dangerous a subject to bring up?
"There were suspicions, yes," said the sheriff, "but never anything concrete."
"Are there any Hales still in town?" she asked, then.
"There's one guy," said the sheriff.
"A young guy?" she couldn't help but quickly ask.
"Yeah, Derek Hale," said the sheriff.
"He just ca- wait, blind?" snapped the sheriff. "What's this about?"
"We brought a young man in for questioning today," she explained. "He wouldn't tell us his name, but one of our officers recognized him as a Hale -well, they didn't so much as say he was a Hale, as associated him with them," she back-pedalled, realizing that she was practically fashioning facts. "If that… if that makes any sense."
"And this young man, he was blind?" asked the sheriff, sounding nearly livid.
Oh, hell, what did she just step in?
"Uh, yes, sir, he was," she said.
"This blind young man didn't happen to have a light build, pale complexion, a sort of upturned nose, and a real smart-assed mouth, did he?" asked the sheriff.
"That… that definitely sounds like a possible description of him, yes," she said.
Despite the sheriff's strange shifts in mood throughout the awkward conversation, Ava was suddenly feeling really excited. She was on the verge of something big -she could feel it- and there's nothing in the world better than the feeling a person gets after solving a mystery.
"That's not Derek Hale," said the sheriff with a huff. "Is the kid still around? I'll send someone down to pick him up."
"Uh," said Ava, glancing around the large, open office at the desks. "Actually, one of our officers offered to drive him home a while ago."
"That's a bit of a trip. How long ago did they leave?" asked the sheriff. "Can you radio them? I can have someone meet them partway. We'll be needing him for our own questioning."
The threat in the man's voice sounded almost fond and Ava couldn't help but wonder if the sheriff knew the kid personally.
"This is actually pretty serendipitous," said Ava. "Officer Kellstone is the one bringing him your way, so why don't you let him come all the way and he can identify that body for you."
"Kellstone," repeated the sheriff in surprise.
"Officer Terry Kellstone," confirmed Ava, nodding with the phone pressed to her ear.
"He a relative of Sean Kellstone's," asked the sheriff.
"Yeah, uh…" Ava paused to chew on her bottom lip. This was where things got awkward because she knew, she just knew something was really wrong. "He's Sean's father, actually."
"That…" said the sheriff, trailing off for a moment. "You might want to give him a heads up about it, then. This might be a bit difficult for him."
"Right, yes, definitely, thank you, sheriff," said Ava, quickly, though she couldn't help but feel a little disappointed that the Beacon Hills sheriff didn't have anything more informative to give her.
"Is there anything else, Officer Davies?" asked the sheriff.
"No, uh… I don't think so," she said before letting out a deep breath as quietly as she could. She wanted to badly to just spill all her suspicions out to this man. He seemed trustworthy and she was just dying to figure this out, but what would she even say? "Thank you for your time, sheriff," she said, her shoulders dropping with defeat.
"Not a problem," said the sheriff. He paused for a moment and then finished with, "give me a call if there's anything else."
Maybe Ava had a friend in this, afterall.
After hanging up, Ava quickly radioed Officer Kellstone's car. There was no response. Brow furrowed, Ava radioed him again. Still, no response.
"Hey, Don," Ava called across the room, "can you get any response from Terry?"
The police officer she was addressing frowned.
"You can't get through?" he asked.
Ava shook her head.
"Unit 53, come in unit 53," Don said into his microphone.
Still, they received nothing but radio silence.
"Do we have GPS on the car?" asked Ava, pushing up from her office chair and moving toward Don's desk.
"Let me pull it up," said Don, looking grim.
Ava leaned over his shoulder, feeling the beginnings of adrenaline starting to bubble and fizz in her veins, as Don clicked open a new window on his computer screen.
"Looks like he's… at home?" said Don, confused. "Is he taking a late, extended lunchbreak, today?"
"He's supposed to be driving a kid back to Beacon Hills," muttered Ava, leaning further over Don's shoulder and stealing the mouse from him to click and zoom in on the map.
Ava ignored Don's protests and zoomed in a few more times, turning on the satellite images, too.
"That's not his house, that's… does he have a cabin on his property?" she asked turning to look at Don and almost cracking him in the face with hers. "Augh, sorry," she said, smiling sheepishly and straightening to give Don his personal space back.
"Yeah," said Don, narrowing his eyes thoughtfully. "He has a hunting cabin just on the edge of his forest section. Why would he be there right now?"
"Oh, Hell," breathed out Ava, her eyes widening. "He's taken that kid there."
She sprinted across the make-shift aisle between their rows of desks and grabbed her things. Don was up and following her, alarmed confusion written across his face.
"I knew it was a bad move to let him be involved with his son's case," she exclaimed in a rush. "He never planned on taking that kid home. He knows that kid's involved somehow and he wants revenge… he… Sheriff St- what was his last name? I should.. I should call him."
Ava spun around and nearly ran into Don.
"Don," she gasped. "Don, I need you to call the Sheriff down at Beacon Hills and tell him what's up."
She stepped past him, then, and he was quick to jump out of her way before following on her heels.
"I would if I knew what that was," said Don, but Ava was barely listening.
Why had she let Terry just take the kid? He had seemed off the entire exchange -no, everything had been off about all of it. The kid had acted off, Terry had acted off; the whole thing had been all wrong. And yet, stupid Ava had just accepted it and let Terry run off with the kid without even letting her finish talking with the kid. It was such a mess.
"If he's hurt that poor boy…" she started, as she searched through the key chart for a free car since she usually rode along in Kellstone's. "If he's taking out his frustrations over his son on this kid, it'll be all my fault."
"Wait, Ava," exclaimed Don, grabbing her by the shoulders to stop her frenzied movements. He looked her in the eyes. "What's going on?"
"Terry's lost it," she gasped. "I think he's taken some kid captive."
"We brought in that blind kid earlier because we thought he might know something about Sean?" she explained quickly, really just wanting to get on the road. "Terry said he'd take the kid home and now he's-"
"Not answering his radio and the car's parked out at his old hunting cabin," said Don, his eyes suddenly hard and his mouth turned down in a grim line. "You better take back-up."
Ava almost melted in relief of finally, finally having someone else back her up on her suspicions. Don released her, though, so she shifted her weight while he called a few people to head out to the Kellstone farm. He was kind of like the department's dispatcher, if one could call anyone that.
"Okay," he said, giving Ava a determined look, "be safe."
"Thanks, Don," she said, happy to finally be on her way. "Don't forget to-"
"Yeah, yeah," said Don, waving her off. "I'll get on the phone with Beacon Hills right away. Go save that kid... and Terry from himself."
"I know there's another alpha in Beacon Hills," sounded the angry voice of Terry Kellstone. "You aren't helping yourself by keeping your mouth shut, and you're not helping your shit of an alpha, either."
Stiles grit his teeth and gave the man his best frown. The car had stopped probably five minutes earlier. Terry had turned it off, but they had remained sitting. Stiles wished he knew where he was.
"Not much of an alpha if they need their little bitch to do their work for them," Terry sneered. Stiles wouldn't rise to the bait, even if he had any idea what the asshole was talking about. "Maybe it isn't even loyalty that has you keeping quiet," mused Terry, cruelly, then. "Maybe you're just embarrassed of the guy."
Stiles smirked a little before turning in his seat to face out his window. Body language; such a powerful tool to use against those with sight. He had no idea what the guy was talking about, but he'd rather infuriate him than grovel for his freedom. Plus, he was hoping his button-camera was high enough that Derek and Scott were getting footage out the window.
A frustrated sound came from Terry's throat and, in a few swift movements, the wolf was out of the car, slamming the door behind him, before ripping Stiles' door open. Stiles startled away from the open door, and winced when his arm was grabbed roughly.
He was jerked out of the car and he barely managed to keep his feet under him as he was pushed across the rough mixture of packed dirt, gravel and valiantly-growing grass. He was only guessing at it from the texture under his sneakers, but he had a pretty good track record for knowing his shit. He tried his hardest to take in clues from his surroundings, but most of his attention was being placed on not falling over.
He was being pushed forward and slightly-lifted by the sharp grip on his bicep and a ridiculous amount of strength. He felt like his legs were flailing beneath him in an almost cartoon-like fashion as Terry walked him up the slight incline.
It was only seconds before his toes met something solid and he found himself stumbling up a set of creaky wooden steps, his footsteps making hollow sounds on them. A door scraped open and Stiles was met with stale air. Terry pushed him inside before following, the door shutting heavily behind. Stiles took a deep breath and attempted to right himself, feeling disoriented.
The air was heavy and smelled of dust and old wood. Whatever the place was, it had been standing there a long time. A sharp, nearly flowery smell also met his senses when Stiles took a few steps to the side, reaching out with his hands to try to find an anchor. He stumbled when he backed into what was probably a table or desk of some sort. The smell was stronger there. It smelled like flowers, but also like poison -it wasn't a pleasant scent. It turned Stiles' stomach.
Hearing Terry rustling around, but not able to pinpoint his location, Stiles turned his head and strained his ears before asking, "what are you do-"
"Shh," cut in Terry, sharply, and then he was very still.
Stiles remained silent, listening hard for whatever it was that had caught Terry's attention. Of course, the werewolf probably had better hearing than Stiles and could be hearing something far out of his range. That seemed to be the case, because after a few minutes of listening to nothing but his pounding heart, the slight breeze outside, and the constant hum of daytime bugs, Stiles had no idea what had the guy's attention.
"Okay," said Terry, a few moments after that, even. "Let's go."
"Uhh…" Stiles hummed in confusion before unkind hands were grabbing his biceps again and pushing him to the opposite side of the room.
Terry let go of him and Stiles stood, tense, while he listened to the rustling and creaking noises that Terry's movements were stirring. Then, Terry's hand was back on his arm, leading him forward.
"There's a ladder leading down," Terry said.
How nice of him to finally give some verbal direction.
Stiles reached out, gingerly, until his hand met the top of the ladder.
"Go," Terry practically barked.
Carefully, Stiles moved around the ladder, testing its stability with a little of his weight before stepping down. His heart was hammering and his hands were starting to get damp with anxious sweat, but he monitored his breathing to keep from panicking and concentrated on safely climbing down the wooden ladder.
After the last rung, he felt the earth beneath his foot and stepped down on solid ground. It was a relief, but it was short-lived as he realized he had climbed down into a root cellar of sorts. He could tell he was in a very small space, the floor was nothing but dirt, and the air smelled of earth and decomposure. He just hoped this wouldn't be his grave.
That was when he heard a whimper to his left.
"Hello?" he whispered.
"That's just Laura," said Terry from behind Stiles, causing Stiles to startle forward. Damn werewolves and their soundless movements; he hadn't even heard him come down the ladder.
Stiles was pushed roughly by a hand that had closed over the collar of his shirt. He choked when he started to fall forward from the impact, Terry's grip on the fabric drawing tighter against his throat but keeping Stiles from falling completely. He directed him forward with more rough pressure, and Stiles reached out with his hands to keep from walking into anything.
"Just get down," growled Terry, giving him another rough push before letting go of his shirt. "How do you even survive on your own?" he muttered angrily before turning away.
Stiles stumbled to his knees and crawled a few feet forward to get further away from the wolf. His fingertips scraped against the dirt floor and he felt along it until it turned into wall instead. He scrambled to sit with his back against the cold, dirt wall. He sat with his knees drawn up encircled by his arms and his forehead resting against them while he took a few moments to steady his breathing. It was more difficult in the heavy, musty underground air, but he did his best to push back his ever growing panic. He needed to calm down, needed to be aware. He silently told himself Derek was coming for him.
"Laura?" he asked in a quiet, gravelly voice.
"Don't talk to her," snapped Terry, before stepping closer to Stiles. "She's resting," he said in a suddenly faux-sweet tone. "She's had a long day."
"What have you been doing to her?" asked Stiles in an angry hiss even though he was nearly certain he didn't actually want to know. He hadn't met Laura, but she was Derek's sister -Derek's only remaining family member.
"Nothing that you need concern yourself with," said Terry. "I am not harming her. I need her strong."
Those words, said in that tone, were quite possibly the most disquieting Stiles had ever heard in his life. He shuddered and ground his teeth, feeling at once both angry and frightened.
"For what?" he dared ask.
Terry just hummed to himself and shuffled around the small space doing who-knew-what. Stiles probably didn't want to know that, either. He heard a few metal items get set down and moved around. It gave him chills, his imagination going wild with possibilities.
"You never did tell me your name," said Terry.
"Why should I?" spat Stiles angrily, before he could think better of it.
"Yeah, I guess it won't be important in the end," sighed Terry.
His tone made it sound like he was the good guy forced to put up with the antics of a complete asshole, but his words… well, they didn't put Stiles at ease.
"You know," he said, then, "I have met a number of folks in my day who didn't like to share valuable information. In the end, though," he continued as he stepped closer to Stiles with some sort of tool or utensil in his hand, clicking it together to create an ominous, metallic sound, "I made gossips out of each and every one of them."
Stiles swallowed heavily, leaning back harder against the wall.
"So, this is how it's going to go," whispered Terry, leaning right into Stiles so that his breath was hot and foul against his face. "I'm going to ask you a few questions, and you…" he paused to press a cold, metal instrument against Stiles' cheek. It was searing in its threat. Stiles twitched hard, his body so completely undecided in how to respond to the danger that it remained mostly still. "You," continued Terry, "are going to answer them as thoroughly as you possibly can."
The metal pressed against Stiles' cheek was drawn lightly up the side of his face until it was against his temple. Terry twisted it and pressed it there with just enough pressure that Stiles could feel how sharp it was.
"Are we clear?" asked Terry, then.
Stiles could feel his adam's apple bob in his throat a few times before he finally found his voice.
"Crystal," he croaked.
He was slightly proud of himself for managing to sound angry. He was just going to ignore the fact that he also sounded two seconds away from pissing himself.
A weak growl sounded from the opposite side of the small space. Terry went silent like he had when they were on the main floor. Stiles strained to listen. Suddenly, he could hear the distant rumble of a vehicle's engine. Was it Derek's car? Were Derek and Scott coming to his aid?
"Stay," commanded Terry before stepping away from him, removing the metal instrument from where it had still been pressing threateningly against his temple.
Stiles let out a deep breath and sunk down further against the wall. He rubbed a hand over the side of his throbbing head. It came away sticky. Fuck.
Laura hadn't spoken, but she was obviously awake considering the weak whimpers and growls she had emitted. In that moment, Stiles truly wished (and, honestly, it was the first time in quite some time) that he could see. Was she gagged? Why wouldn't she speak? Was she hurt incredibly bad? Officer Fuckhead had said he hadn't harmed her, that he needed her strong, but it didn't seem that way.
Stiles was about to risk calling softly to her when the sound of the vehicle grew much louder. It was muffled to Stiles' ears because of the earth between him and it, but he could tell it had pulled up near the building. Them it was promptly turned off. So, it was someone who was supposed to be there. Stiles' heart sunk, if it had been his getaway, they wouldn't have just pulled up. It was probably more members of the Kellstone pack. That's just what he needed, more spastic werewolves bent on making his life (or death) miserable.
Stiles could hear voices, but they were dull and distorted, coming to him through the overhead beams and floorboards, and the dirt walls. The wooden steps outside creaked as more people came into the building. Stiles counted five more people from the footsteps. The voices sounded angry. Stiles strained to make anything out, closing his eyes tight and concentrating hard on his hearing.
Suddenly, the trap door opened.
"Throw 'em down there," growled out someone who wasn't Terry.
Milliseconds after, there was a heavy, dull thud. Stiles felt bile rise in his throat, imagining a dead body being thrown down. He scuttled along the wall until he felt he was further from the ladder leading out -he didn't need any dead guys landing on him. Then, another thud sounded. Stiles gagged and twitched. Great, more dead bodies. This time, though, it was followed with a groan.
"Shit," hissed Stiles, realizing they weren't dead.
"Stiles?" choked out Scott's voice.
"Scott?" gasped Stiles, suddenly scrambling forward. "Scott? Fuck, are you okay?"
"Are you?" he asked, his voice sounding tight and weak.
"Better than you sound," offered Stiles, continuing to shuffle forward with his hands outstretched until they came into contact with a head of hair.
"Stiles," groaned a second voice, then. It was coming from the head of hair Stiles' hands were pushing through. It sounded like Derek.
"Derek?" asked Stiles, his heart dropping. If both Derek and Scott had been captured, they were all screwed. "Damnit, this was not what I meant when I told myself you were coming for me."
"Sorry," mumbled Derek, pushing his face into Stiles' lap almost like a puppy searching for more pets.
"What is wrong with you guys? -aside from the ten foot drop, I mean. You sound stoned or, or, or... something," asked Stiles, pressing his fingers against Derek's head as soothingly as he could, while reaching out with the other to try to find Scott.
"Wolfsbane," explained Derek, but it didn't actually explain anything at all. Scott just whimpered.
"Get out of the way," called down Terry from above. "This isn't a fucking puppy-pile."
Stiles scooted back. Derek and Scott followed him, crawling through the dirt like little creatures after being hit by a vehicle. Stiles was getting even more worried. There was something really wrong with them.
Terry dropped down, landing almost soundlessly. He kicked Derek as he stepped past. Derek grunted and moved even further into Stiles' lap.
"Are you dying?" asked Stiles in a low whisper, leaning down to press his face against Derek's.
"They'll be fine," said Terry, "well, as long as you start talking."
Then he was back in Stiles' space, pushing Derek and Scott away from him. Derek let out a half-hearted growl, but neither he nor Scott seemed to be in any shape to do much else. The metal instrument was back at Stiles' cranium and Stiles was so not pleased about that.
Derek's chest felt like it had been torn open, filled with razor blades, and then messily stitched back shut. It hurt to breathe, it hurt to talk, it hurt to move. He didn't feel like he was in his right mind, either. Things were happening around him, but it seemed like a Skype call where there was a delay between actions and reactions. Stiles was there, though. He smelled sickly with fear and sharp with unused adrenaline, but he seemed whole and mostly unhurt. Derek just wanted to be as close to him as he could, wanted to crawl into his lap and press his face into the boy's chest.
Then the Kellstone Alpha flashed his eyes red and pushed Derek away from Stiles. He growled, reaching out with claws to swipe at the alpha, but by the time he had done that, he was already on his ass out of arm's reach. Fucking Skype. Derek let out another growl, letting his eyes flash in his fury, but the Kellstone alpha paid him no mind. He was busy with what looked like an ice pick pressed against Stiles' temple.
"No," Derek exploded in a roar that nearly rocked the entire room.
The alpha turned to him, a stunned look on his face for a millisecond before his eyes flashed red again and he grinned darkly.
"You're no alpha, young pup," he said, moving away from Stiles toward Derek. Derek heard Stiles mutter something about how ridiculous it was that no one knew what baby wolves were called. "Yet, you're the one he reeks of," continued Terry. "He reeks of Hale and submission. I thought you must have another surviving relative hanging around, but now I see what's really going on."
The alpha stepped closer to Derek, brandishing the ice pick at him as if that would scare him.
"Do you really think you deserve a mate, Beta?" asked the alpha in a wretched hiss, so confident and snake-like. "You with your broken pack and your damning blue eyes."
"Shut up," ground out Derek.
It still hurt to breathe. The wolfsbane sack had done a number on him and, surprisingly, Scott. He hadn't shifted, yet, so Derek had thought he'd be immune to, or at least less affected by the poison. What he didn't understand was why he wasn't healing, yet.
The Kellstone alpha turned back to Stiles, then. He moved in on the boy, brandishing the ice pick as if Stiles could see it and would be afraid. Stiles didn't look afraid in the slightest -he looked angry. Unfortunately, he stunk of fear, it was wafting off him in consistent waves and only spiked when the alpha pressed the sharp point against his temple, again.
Derek wanted to roar, again. Everything inside him was on fire with rage. He was angry at the alpha for going anywhere near Stiles and fumingly frustrated with his own body for now allowing him to shift and attack. He growled weakly, crawling forward with his fingernails lengthened and scratching up dirt from the floor. The alpha paid him no mind, not concerned in the least by him. It made Derek all the madder. He had no idea how he had roared the first time, but something in his chest felt like it was building up another one.
"If that beta over there is the only thing making you smell like submission," said Kellstone to Stiles, "then I guess we can move on to a different question."
Derek pulled himself along the packed earth, but it was slow going. That something that had been building in his chest felt nearly explosive by then.
"What do you want to know?" spat out Stiles, his anxiety so high that it seemed to be making him impatient for whatever was to come.
Derek wished the boy knew to and could hold out just a little longer to give him enough time to heal. He didn't care if Kellstone was an alpha, he didn't care that he, himself, was mostly an untested fighter, he would rip the man limb to limb once he lungs could start expanding properly, again.
Kellstone's teeth were elongated, Derek could see them in the darkness, long and sharp and part of a terrible grin. The alpha pressed even closer to Stiles, causing a shudder of disgust to run through the boy. Derek tried to crawl faster.
"My only other question is," he began, "how does this feel?"
And with that, he began to press the ice pick into Stiles' head. Stiles let out a panicked whimper that sounded watery with pain. Derek exploded.
His vision turned red, his body came together in a burst of adrenaline, his lungs finally expanded, and he lunged forward, grabbing the alpha by the throat and dropping him onto his back on the floor. Another terrible roar left Derek's chest by tearing a passageway through his throat. The alpha went still for a second, as if that were all it might take to make him submit, but then his eyes flashed red and his body shifted into beta-form beneath Derek. He let out his own angry growl and pushed Derek off him.
"What are you?" exclaimed Kellstone, his voice heavy with the wolf.
He didn't stop for an answer, though. Instead, he attacked Derek, sinking fangs into his chest and collar bone and sharp claws into his sides. Derek howled in pain, feeling the wounds deep in his flesh. He kicked out, but couldn't dislodge the alpha. His hands scrambled for purchase on the Kellstone alpha, looking for a soft place to sink his claws. His chest was tightening, the adrenaline wearing thin and the wolfsbane poisoning coming back with a vengeance.
Suddenly, another angry, alpha-roar sounded in the dirt cellar causing both Derek and the Kellstone alpha to go momentarily still. Neither had time enough to question it, though, before a third body was smashing into them and flinging Derek across the room. Derek laid on his back, trying to gain control of his breathing, but his chest was heaving in short, laboured breaths and his lungs were burning.
"Ah, My Love," said Kellstone, happily, reaching out for the other alpha. "Thank you."
Derek's eyes flew open and he looked over in horror to see the alpha-form of his sister cuddling up to the Kellstone alpha. She looked happy for his praise -completely blissed out on it, actually. She quickly shifted back to her human form, confirming completely for Derek that she was, indeed, Laura.
"Laura?" he croaked in surprise and confusion.
"Oh, pup," said Kellstone, clucking his tongue at Derek, his eyes still shining red in the dark, "this is not your sister, this is my mate."
Derek growled. He looked Laura over. In the dim light, she looked okay. Her hair was a mess of tangles, and her clothes were dirty and torn, but she, herself, seemed perfectly healthy. There was no pain in her face or stance, or even in her scent. Her scent, though, it was all wrong. She was… she was all wrong.
"Laura," he said, again, pleading.
She didn't respond to her name in the slightest. What had he done to her?
"Go back to your corner, My Love," spoke Kellstone in a sickeningly soothing voice against Laura's cheek before placing a kiss against her temple. It turned Derek's stomach, but it also reminded him of his original source of protective rage.
He looked over at Stiles who was now huddled up with Scott and sitting against the wall. Derek could smell blood, but not a lot of it. Stiles looked okay, even if there was a patch of soaked red hair just above his left ear. He turned his attention back to Kellstone to see Laura leaving his side, slinking back over to the far corner of the cellar to sit in the shadows. Derek hadn't even known she was there before she had made herself known. Her scent no longer familiar with family, alpha, and security. She was nearly completely hidden in the shadows when she sat back down on the floor, only her red eyes gave away any hint of her form.
"What did you do to-" he stopped short when he suddenly heard a series of growls, exclamations, and gunshots upstairs.
Kellstone's eyes were wide and his head tilted up like he could see through the floor above their heads. After a few beats, he lowered his eyes back down to Derek and gave him an angry growl.
"I thought there were only two of you," he growled in angry surprise, before turning to run across the room and practically leap up the ladder.
Once the trap door shut behind him, Derek bounded across the room to his sister. She was sitting slumped against the wall, now, her eyes shut and her head bent forward. It was like she was some sort of computerized android in sleep mode. It was unnerving.
"Laura," whisper-cried Derek, tentatively reaching out to touch her arm.
A low growl rumbled out from her chest and Derek quickly pulled his hand back.
"They've brainwashed her," whispered Stiles, suddenly at Derek's side.
"Are you okay?" asked Derek, resisting the urge to pull Stiles against his side and nose his way over his throat and up to his ear. His heart did a little double-thump when he felt Stiles' body brush lightly against his.
"I'm okay, besides the horrible headache," he said, motioning to the area red and brown with sticky blood. "How bad does it look?"
Laura wasn't moving, just sitting slumped over and acting like she had no idea Derek and Stiles were only a few feet away. So, Derek reached for Stiles, allowing himself to touch this time. He moved a little closer to him and lightly brushed his fingertips across the side of Stiles' head, assessing the damage. Stiles winced, but still leaned into his touch, welcoming it, wanting it. Something in Derek's chest settled ever so slightly.
"You'll be fine," he spoke, his voice sounding huskier than usual. He coughed, awkwardly. "Uh, how's Scott?"
"Still stoned outta his tree," said Stiles, capturing Derek's hand in his when Derek made to pull it away. With shaking hands, he pressed it against the side of his face and let out a long, shuddering breath. "What are we going to do about your sister?"
"I don't know," said Derek, swallowing heavily.
There was a loud crash upstairs and more shouting. Suddenly, the trap door was torn open. Derek jerked back from Laura and glared up at the opening, his eyes flashing and his body tensing for a fight. Isaac's face appeared.
"Hi," said Isaac before jumping down and landing near expertly on the dirt floor.
It was the most inane thing to say in that moment, and the most welcome.
"Isaac," breathed Derek with relief.
"C'mon, we gotta get out of here," said Isaac while glancing around the room, taking in their surroundings. "Erica and Boyd aren't going to hold them off long, especially not with that crazy-ass alpha up there."
Derek stood, taking Stiles by the elbow and helping him to his feet, too. Scott was dozing against the other wall, a weird smile on his lips even while his brow was wrinkled with discomfort.
"Where's the car?" he asked, motioning over to Scott. "You might have to carry him."
Isaac moved swiftly over to Scott and, in one swift motion, threw him over his shoulder. From that and Isaac's excellent landing, Derek could tell the training sessions had been working.
"Is that Laura?" asked Isaac, then. "She doesn't smell like Laura."
"It is, but…" said Derek, trailing off because he had no idea what to say.
"What do we do with her?" asked Isaac.
Derek didn't know. He couldn't just leave her, but he very much doubted she'd go along with them willingly. He needed to get Scott and Stiles out. The sounds of fighting above did not seem to be relenting in any way, which could be both a good and a bad sign. It meant Erica and Boyd were still holding their own, but it also meant there were still enemies to fight. He looked back at Laura, still sitting slumped over as if she weren't even mentally present.
He opened his mouth to speak, but then Stiles was pushing past him to fall to his knees at Laura's side.
"Stiles," spoke Derek, confused and worried.
Stiles just shook his head, shushing him, before turning his attention on Laura.
"Laura," spoke Stiles, his voice a little shaky, but otherwise commanding. "Laura," he said, again, when she didn't respond. "Laura, look at me."
She didn't move, didn't acknowledge him in the least. Stiles didn't seem deterred, though. He scooted closer to her, his face level with hers, only a foot of space between them. If she decided to lunge, he would be dead before Derek could stop her. Derek's heart was beating in his throat.
"Laura," said Stiles, again, "I know you can hear me. You are Laura. You are not Kellstone's mate, you're Laura Hale. You're Derek's big sister and the alpha of Beacon Hills. You are strong, Laura. You are good. You took care of Derek after you lost your family. You finished raising Derek on your own, you kept him safe and sane. You are his alpha and his sister."
Derek couldn't believe the words coming out of Stiles' mouth. They were true. They were all true and yet… how did Stiles know them? He hadn't told Stiles most of those things. Yes, he had told him a few things and Stiles seemed to already know others, but… but it was… the way it made Derek feel to hear those words spoke from Stiles' lips. Stiles hadn't even officially met Laura before!
"He loves you, Laura," continued Stiles. "He needs you. You're his alpha. You're Isaac, Boyd and Erica's alpha, too. They all need you. Your little pack needs you. You need to come back to us, Laura." Derek watched in surprise as Laura began to straighten at Stiles' words. She lifted her head and opened her eyes, blinking a few times like she was coming out of a deep sleep. "You are a strong alpha," continued Stiles, his voice gaining volume and his words gaining enthusiasm when he realized she was finally responding. "Show us how strong you are, come back to us. That douchebag, Terry Kellstone, doesn't love you, he's a big, fuzzy asshole out for more power. He's a liar and whatever he told you is a lie. Laura, you are a Hale and you need to come back."
She looked around the dim cellar room groggily, blinking a few times and looking lost. Then her eyes landed on Derek. Derek held his breath, moving hesitantly toward her. Was she back? Was she actually Laura?
"Derek?" she asked in confusion.
"Laura," he breathed, moving to her side that Stiles wasn't on. "Laura, are you okay?"
"I… I don't know," she said, softly.
"Derek," spoke Isaac, still holding Scott over his shoulder and looking antsy standing at the ladder leading up through the trapdoor in the floorboards.
Derek nodded at him before turning back to Laura.
"Laura, we have to go," said Derek.
"Okay, okay," she said, sounding still half-asleep. "Let me just-" she started as she tried to stand up, but then she sat back down heavily.
"Laura," hissed Derek with concern, reaching for her arm.
"I'm okay, I'm just a little light-headed," she said.
"We'll help you," said Stiles, getting to his feet and reaching toward Laura.
She sent him a smile of gratitude that went unseen, but grabbed onto his shoulder for support with one hand while using Derek's arm for leverage with the other. Together, Derek and Stiles got Laura up and walked her toward Isaac.
"How did you do that?" asked Derek, looking past Laura to Stiles on her other side.
"Brainwashing and hypnosis are interesting topics," said Stiles with a little shrug. "I like to google things."
Derek couldn't help the small smile tugging at the corner of his mouth in response to that, despite their situation. He shook his head and turned his attention to Isaac who was attempting to climb the ladder with Scott over his shoulder. It was awkward in the small space, but he was getting by. When he was near the top, Isaac stopped and threw Scott up onto the floor through the still-open trapdoor. Then, he disappeared up, too.
"Okay, how are we going to do this?" asked Stiles when Isaac shouted that they were clear to come up.
Derek was about to respond, but then paused when he heard sirens blaring in the distance. It sounded like multiple police cars were flying down the gravel road toward them. Shit.
"Quickly," answered Derek.
"Take her!" yelled Derek and, suddenly, Laura was torn from Stiles' side. "Get out of here before you're seen!"
Stiles leaned heavily against Derek feeling disoriented in the commotion. People were shouting, sirens were blaring, and the air was heavy with a palpable stress. He wasn't sure what was happening around him and he doubted half of those who could see felt any more sure of the situation. He couldn't count the number of people in the area based on voices, not when his head suddenly felt like it was swimming. Was this what shock felt like?
"Derek," whispered Stiles, clinging to Derek's arm.
Even though he knew he'd be embarrassed about it later, he needed Derek's proximity in that moment. Derek was a solid anchor, a calming presence, a known variable in a sea of confusion.
"Your dad's here," spoke Derek, directing Stiles forward.
Stiles' stomach dropped, but he followed along with scene was quickly calming down around them. Whatever police were there must have gotten things under control. Only moments after Stiles and Derek had made their way down the front steps of the small building, they were accosted by Stiles' dad.
"Stiles," exclaimed John.
Somehow, the sound of his dad's voice had Stiles regressing to the early years of his childhood. His eyes pricked with tears and the corners of his mouth started to pull dramatically down of their own accord. Damnit, what happened to being all brave and badass? He felt like an idiot as he let go of Derek in order to throw himself in his dad's direction, confident the man would catch him. He really couldn't be bothered to care about his pride in that moment, though. The situation was finally starting to sink in, and although he hadn't really been harmed and he hadn't even felt all that scared at the time, the enormity and severity of his kidnapping was finally crashing down on him. A broken sob tore its way out from his throat as his dad wrapped him in a tight hug.
He pressed his face against his dad's collarbone, some of the buttons of the police uniform feeling uncomfortable against his face. His dad shushed him with a slightly trembling voice. After a few beats of holding each other, though, Stiles' dad let him go, pushing him out at arm's length. Most likely, he was giving him a fatherly once over; checking for wounds and bruises. Stiles let him -not even begrudgingly, this time .
"Your head," said John.
"Probably looks worse than it is," said Stiles, smiling pathetically. "You know how head wounds are."
"Right," replied John, but he didn't sound convinced. It wasn't bad, but it could have been so bad. Stiles was beginning to feel sick to his stomach as that realization really took root. "What the hell even happened?"
"Um…" started Stiles, for once at a loss for a BS explanation.
"Your son is a stubborn idiot, sir," cut in Derek and Stiles felt momentarily guilty for having forgotten the guy.
"I hope that's leading into an explanation, young man," said John, the threat in his voice very believable, despite the continued tremor of emotion. Stiles hated that he had caused his dad more stress and worry. "As much as I agree with the sentiment," continued John. "I can't think of one reason why you feel you're in the position to say it."
"He came out looking for me," explained Derek. "He figured out about the missing person and-"
"Sheriff," spoke a female voice, cutting Derek off. She sounded familiar.
"Officer Davies," replied John. Oh, right, Stiles remembered her. "I'd like you to officially meet my son, Stiles Stilinski."
Stiles winced and gave her a sheepish smile that probably looked twice as ridiculous in his state.
"Ma'am," he said with a small that meant his dad knew about him being picked up by the Alturas police and his time being questioned. What else did he know? Stiles hoped whatever excuses and story he and Derek managed to come up with would check out.
"Good to meet you, Stiles ," she said, her voice filled with good humour.
Stiles knew he had been right in his original assessment of her; she was a good one. If only her partner had been, too, then they wouldn't be in this mess. And what a mess it was. How were they going to get everyone home undetected by the police? Was Scott okay? Where was their little pack hiding?
"Sheriff," she said, then, "we've got Kellstone and a few of his associates in custody. We're going to take them back to the precinct. We'll need these two boys' statements."
"Of course," said John. "I'll escort them there, myself."
"Great," she answered. "The medics are just arriving; I'll send them over to check on your boy."
"Appreciate it," called John as Officer Davies left them. Stiles could actually feel his dad's piercing gaze shift back to him and Derek once she was gone. "Explain," he demanded.
Stiles stammered out a few random sounds, instantly trying to obey his dad's command, but he had no idea what to say.
"Stiles came looking for me when he figured out that the dead body he stumbled across at my house was the same guy who was missing here in Alturas," explained Derek in a neutral voice -maybe too neutral.
Stiles bit his lip as he waited nervously for his dad's reaction.
"You're saying that somehow , my blind son managed to look through a bunch of missing person reports and match them up to Scott's description of the John Doe they found on your front yard, and, instead of telling me about it like a responsible, proper Sheriff's son would, he somehow found a way to get to Alturas all by himself and, then , he somehow found where you were being held -without any knowledge that you'd been kidnapped in the first place - and save you ?" asked John, growing more disbelieving and judgmental with every word.
"Uhh.." started Derek, but he let it trail off. Stiles didn't blame him, there really wasn't a response to a question like that. Be it rhetorical or genuine, it was still a dad's snare.
"Yeah," said John around a sigh after an intensely pregnant pause, "that sounds like my son."
Stiles couldn't help but grin, relieved and, somehow, proud -even if he hadn't actually done all that, at least not in that fashion. Okay, maybe it wasn't pride. He wasn't sure what it was, but it was swelling in his chest.
"Well, he had a little help," sounded Scott's sheepish voice, suddenly.
"Ah, yes," sighed John, "The other half of the dynamic duo."
Stiles tried not to react to Scott's sudden appearance, not wanting to make his dad any more suspicious than he knew the guy already was. Still, he found it hard to believe that Scott was well again. It had only been maybe ten minutes before that he was so out of it that Isaac had to carry him out of the cabin's cellar. It must have been that werewolf mojo.
Scott stepped up next to Stiles and gave him a quick side-hug. It reassured Stiles that he was okay. Stiles could imagine his dad shaking his head and giving them both that long-suffering look that he had perfected way too early in Stiles' life. Perhaps if Stiles and Scott hadn't given him so many opportunities to use it…
"Yeah, our own Bonnie and Clyde," Derek muttered, surprising Stiles.
"Uhhhh… More like the Kray Brothers, thank you very much ," said Stiles, turning to give Derek a view of his incredulous face. He wasn't sure which he was more offended about, being considered Scott's unfortunate lover, or the lack of creativity in Derek's choice of comparisons.
"How about you don't aspire to being any infamous criminals," said John with a groan.
"Sir," came a new voice, then. "Officer Davies said there were a few people needing medical attention."
"They say they're fine, but give them a thorough check over," answered John, turning back into the Sheriff, yet again. Stiles would never tire of witnessing how his dad could do that. He grimaced, though, when he realized it was he who was about to get a 'thorough check over'. "Once they've been cleared, I'll be taking them down to the station to get their official statements."
Stiles sighed. He may have been free from that asshole Kellstone, but he definitely wasn't free just yet.
"Don't you want to ride with Scott?" asked Derek as Stiles opened the passenger's door of his car.
He had been so glad when he had first gotten into it and found that Boyd (who had driven it to the cabin after the three had come across it) had had the good sense to turn off the laptop and put it away in the backseat before leaving the car. It had been hard enough to explain the reasons behind it being parked near the cabin when he had supposedly been kidnapped. He didn't want to have to explain why there was a laptop in the front seat streaming live footage of wherever Stiles went.
"He'll be okay with my dad," said Stiles, shrugging one shoulder as he clambered into the passenger seat without an ounce of finesse.
Derek winced when Stiles came dangerously close to smacking the bandaged side of his head against the flipped-down visor. He reached across the car and flipped it back up even though Stiles was leaning back properly in his seat by then and out of danger.
"I thought you'd want to be together after all the stress from the day," said Derek, softly.
"Yeah, I'm surprised he didn't argue when I said I wanted to ride with you," agreed Stiles, "but, I'll see dad when we get home."
"I meant Scott," said Derek, feeling a little embarrassed when his voice sounded gravelly on the word Scott.
"Oh, uh, I guess? I mean, we still have to figure out what to do about him being a new recruit to team fluffy, but…" Stiles trailed off, shrugging.
Derek was confused, but his silence must have spoken clearer than anything he could have said, because moments after he turned the ignition and began to drive, Stiles suddenly jolted in his seat. He turned to Derek, his eyebrows high on his face and his eyes comically wide. Derek didn't think he'd ever witness such a wide array of expressions on a blind person's face -on anyone's face, really.
"Do you think Scott and I are together ?" Stiles asked, nearly in a gasp.
Derek could feel his cheeks heat in embarrassment. The incredulity in Stiles voice gave him hope and felt humiliating all at the same time. He had resigned himself to the fact that they were together and he would just be left to pine away at a distance, but now… oh, but it hurt so much to hope. How had this happened?
"You said you loved each other before you left," said Derek, trying to keep his voice low and neutral so as to not give anything away, "and you're always together and, Scott, he's-"
"Stupidly protective of me," finished Stiles, nodding.
"Yeah," said Derek from behind an exhale.
Stiles didn't say anything more. Derek could feel his heart beating strangely rapid in his chest, but he forced himself to focus on the road and didn't allow himself to steal quick glances at Stiles. His fingers were too tight on the steering wheel, but he couldn't seem to loosen them.
Stiles hadn't confirmed nor denied the relationship, though he had sounded quite surprised that Derek would even think it. What did that mean? Was it supposed to be a secret? Were they having some sort of secret love affair?
The drive through the dusty little town of Alturas was excruciatingly long. When they finally pulled out onto the highway and passed over the border of the Kellstone pack, Derek was finally able to relax his taught shoulders and loosen his grip on the steering wheel, even though it was only minutely. The stress of the day was beginning to get to him and he was starting to feel the exhaustion leaking into his limbs. Unfortunately, there was still a long drive ahead of them.
At least the questioning was over with. He had been so scared that one of them would slip up and say something that confounded the others' stories. They didn't have time or privacy to come up with an agreed upon story, but at least the Sheriff had given them an opportunity by asking him for the story earlier. And, fortunately, Scott had werewolf hearing, now, and had heard the whole explanation Derek had given in front of the cabin before he had come strolling up to the three like they weren't standing in the midst of a damn crime zone.
"We're not together," said Stiles after a while, breaking Derek from his thoughts.
A rush of fluttering filled Derek's chest and he had to swallow back a relieved whine a few times before he was safe to open his mouth to reply.
"Okay," was all he managed to say.
He glanced over out of the corner of his eye at Stiles, then. The corner of Stiles' mouth was twitching with good humour. Obviously, he was trying not to laugh at Derek's supposedly inane assumption.
"Yeah," was all Stiles managed for a reply.
They sat in another prolonged silence for a number more miles. The land around them was a strange mix of plain and foothills that one could only expect to find in the western parts of North America.
"You didn't seem to like the notion of he and I being together," Stiles mused, nearly sounding nervous.
"Didn't I?" asked Derek, feeling his heartbeat tick up in his chest yet again. There was that damn hope, again.
"Nope," said Stiles, letting the p make a popping sound from his lips. "It was almost as if you were jealous."
It was difficult, suddenly, to swallow, but Derek managed a small gulp.
"I… might have been a little put out."
Derek glanced sideways at Stiles from the road. There was a growing half-smirk pulling at Stiles' face. He looked… really happy. It made Derek's chest ache in the most painful and best of ways.
"You like me," Stiles said. It sounded like it had been meant to be teasing, but had come out more astonished.
"How do you know I wasn't jealous of you?" asked Derek teasingly, feeling giddy. "Scott is a handsome guy."
His cheeks were beginning to ache and that was when he realized he was smiling wide like an absolute fool. It was actually kind of an amazing feeling.
"Oh, shut up! ," exclaimed Stiles, throwing out a clenched fist, undoubtedly in hopes of it connecting with part of Derek.
Derek ducked, grinning even wider.
"I do like you," he said, feeling heat fill his face.
"I like you, too," said Stiles, turning to Derek, a huge smile stretching across his face.
Stiles let his head fall back against the seat, then, and a happy laugh bubbled out of him. Derek wished he wasn't driving; he wanted to press his lips to that smile and see what that laugh tasted like. There would be time for that… soon , he hoped. First, there were a lot of loose ends to tie.
Erica, Boyd, Isaac, and Laura were all crammed in Erica's shitty little car. They were waiting for him at the gas station closest to the Hale property, when Derek pulled up after dropping Stiles home. They couldn't very well return Laura home when the trailer was still a crime scene and she wasn't even supposed to still be alive. Erica had called him on the long drive home and they had decided on a meeting spot. Derek would take Laura, and the three kids would return to their homes and whatever punishments awaited them for having disappeared and skipped school for the day.
Only one day. But fuck had it been a long day. Derek felt emotionally and physically drained in a way he hadn't in many years. He put the camaro in park and left it idling, walking over to Erica's car. The windows were down and a song was playing on the radio. Erica and Isaac were having a debate on the merits of a certain band he hadn't heard of. Boyd was in the back seat with Laura, happily munching on some Redvines he must have bought in the gas station. Laura was dozing. She looked unwell.
"Derek," greeted Isaac, turning away from Erica's red face and giving him a curt nod.
"Isaac," Derek returned. He looked them four of them over in a sweeping glance, they all looked mostly healed from any wounds they received during the fight. Erica looked to worst, which would be expected, she would have the gall to try to take on an alpha when she was a newly turned beta. Derek nearly rolled his eyes. Still, she was well enough to have driven the long drive and to still be bickering with Isaac over something as inane as music. She would be fine.
Derek was scared for her. Stiles had managed to get her to come out of her strange trance when they were all in the cellar, but that couldn't be the end of it. There was undoubtedly damage done that would take much longer to heal. It was the worst kind of damage, too, the kind you couldn't see or bandage. It made Derek so angry. His sister didn't deserve more trauma, she had enough of that for ten lifetimes. No one should have to watch their family burn alive in a house fire… no one.
"We will meet soon," said Derek while reaching to open Laura's door and help her out of the car. "I'll call you when I have a room," he continued, directing the statement to Erica. She nodded.
"Whuh?" Laura stammered as Derek pulled her out of the car, placing her arm over his shoulders and pulling her tight against his side.
"You all did good today," Derek said to the car as a whole before walking Laura to his own. It wasn't much of a thank you, but that could wait. He walked Laura to the passenger side of the camaro and got her settled in, buckling her up and carefully shutting the door.
He drove to the nearest motel and got them a room. It was late, the stars already out in the inky sky above them, but hard to make out in the orange glow of Beacon Hills' light pollution. He had worried the office would be closed, but there was a bored young man sitting at the desk when he had walked in. He had barely looked at Derek during the entire transaction, bored, tired and uncaring. Derek preferred that to someone paying attention. Sheriff Stilinski hadn't taken him into custody, oddly enough, but that didn't mean he was in the clear. There was still Sean Kellstone's death to investigate, after all.
He helped Laura into their motel room, thankful that it was on the ground floor. She was getting more and more lethargic by the minute. Her mind and body was undoubtedly exhausted from the entire ordeal and needed time to recharge and regenerate. He laid her down on one of the pair of queen-sized beds taking up the majority of the simplistic room and pulled off her boots. She was dirty and her clothes were torn in places, but she was physically whole and would be fine to sleep in that state. Derek pulled the blankets over her, kissed her forehead, and left her to sleep.
He watched her from across the room for a few moments, frozen to the spot in inactivity, unsure of what to do next. He was drained and weary from the day, but much too anxious to simply settle into his own bed for sleep. His sister was back with him, safe. Their pack was back in their territory, safe. Stiles was at home with his father, safe. Nothing else mattered in comparison. If the police came to take him to jail in the morning, so be it, the ones who mattered were safe.
Still, Derek was unsettled. Kellstone had wanted the power of being mated to another alpha. He had stolen Laura for the purpose. He had brainwashed her into wanting to please him so that she would willingly be his mate. Kellstone had partnered up with local hunters to get what he wanted. Hunters. It still baffled Derek that any wolf would do such a thing. It baffled him that the hunters would agree. Perhaps they had planned on double crossing Kellstone when the time came. What could they stand to gain from a local wolf growing in power?
Terry Kellstone was safely behind bars, though. The evidence against him was irrefutable considering how everything went down. There was no way he would be out of jail any time soon and definitely no way he would ever be allowed back on the force. Derek could rest easy in that. The few hunters and wolves that had also been at the cabin were being held as well.
Derek's eyelids were growing steadily heavier, his limbs were dead-weight where he stood. He needed sleep. With a heavy sigh, he finally let his arms fall to his sides, cracked his neck, and went into the bathroom to wash up. He tripled-checked the lock on the window and the door before climbing into the second bed and closing his eyes. Sleep found him quickly, despite his worries.
The next morning Derek woke to Laura's stirring. He laid for a few minutes with his eyes shut, mentally preparing himself for a long day.
Derek peered in through Stiles' bedroom window, mentally trying to silence the voice in the back of his mind that sounded strangely like Stiles saying he was being a "creeper". He hadn't seen Stiles since dropping him home the day before and he was nervous and excited to see him now that they had both admitted to having feelings for each other. He had spent the day with Laura, helping her however he could in recovering from the trauma of Terry Kellstone's mess. It had been exhausting in its own right, and as happy as he was to be reunited with his sister, there had been the niggling want at the back of his mind all day. The desire to see Stiles. He wanted to make sure Stiles was okay, needed to see him and be grounded by his presence.
He wasn't certain what would happen next or what sort of pace it would happen at, but his entire being was thrumming with anticipation. With his feelings for Stiles reciprocated (at least to some degree), he could finally allow himself to admit to that heavy word. Only four letters, only one syllable, and yet, it was the heaviest of words. He still wasn't near ready to say it outloud, to tell Stiles or anyone else about it, but at least, now, he could say it to himself.
Stiles was laying in bed. Derek contemplated knocking on the window, but he didn't want to wake him. He looked somehow frail laying in his bed with his head bandaged and an unusual frown pulling at his mouth and distorting the alluring shape of his lips. Derek didn't feel right about just entering unannounced and unexpected, without proper invitation, either, though. For whatever reason, it seemed a little less intrusive if he were to enter in wolf form. He opened the window silently. The Sheriff was probably wondering where Miguel had gotten off to, anyway. He shifted.
He dropped down silently on four paws from Stiles' windowsill and took a moment to scent the air. Nothing was amiss. He padded softly across the room, head lowered meekly at entering without permission, and sat on his haunches, quietly watching Stiles' face. This was his mate. He didn't have permission for that either, but he was content, for now, to only call him it in his mind. He'd been calling him it in his heart for some time, now, even if he hadn't realized it right away.
This was mate. This was home. This was partner, confidant, friend. Stiles. Stiles with his ridiculous sense of humour and sarcastic remarks. Stiles with his big heart and perceptive mind. Stiles, still young and selfish, but with so much to offer the world, so much potential. He was beautiful. His heart, his mind, his gangly limbs and awkward movements; everything about him was beautiful. Derek longed to turn back to his human form so he could sit and trace the lines and contours of his face with a fingertip. He wished to kiss the slight upturn of his nose and the soft skin just beneath where his dark eyelashes feathered out in sleep. He wished most of all to press his lips to Stiles', to feel his lush, beautifully-shaped lips against his own, to put taste to the scent he so deeply knew to be Stiles.
Derek swallowed down a small whine. It felt too bold to climb into bed with Stiles now that all these feelings were surfaced. He didn't expect he would be turned away, but it felt so much more important that he had a proper invitation, now. So, he laid down on the floor, lowering his head to his front paws. He watched Stiles sleep for a few minutes more before finally falling asleep himself.
Stiles woke with the unnerving feeling that he wasn't alone in his room. He went rigidly still, not opening his eyes incase whomever was there was watching. He didn't want to alert them to his wakefulness. He felt a cold sweat begin to bead at his forehead, the throbbing at his temple starting up again with fervor.
"Stiles," sounded a familiar voice, smooth and calming. Stiles relaxed.
"Derek," he responded, his voice cracking with disuse. "What are you doing here?"
"I…" started Derek, sounding unsure, "is it okay that I'm here?"
Stiles berated himself for sounding so unwelcoming because, of course it was okay that Derek was there. He sat up and lifted his blankets in invitation. It was only a few moments before Derek climbed into bed next to him. Stiles unashamedly cuddled close to him, pressing into his warmth and allowing his heartbeat to slow down to an acceptable speed.
"I'm glad you are," said Stiles, lowly, smiling.
Derek's arms slowly, questioningly came up and around his back, holding him where he was already pressed close. Stiles let out a soft sigh. They laid in silence for quite some time, enjoying each other's presence. Stiles drifted a little bit, but was too distracted by the delicious way Derek's thumb was rhythmically stroking over the back of his neck. Damn, he should have admitted to his feelings sooner if this was his reward for doing so.
"How's your sister," he asked in a whisper.
"She is physically well," said Derek with a sigh.
Stiles nodded minutely, frowning to himself. It would probably take a long time for her to completely recuperate from what had happened. She seemed to be strong, though. Well, she'd have to be if she were an alpha, but also, she was a strong person. Stiles may not have had the chance to get to know her like he had Derek, but from what he knew about her, he knew that she would be the type to be able to keep going. She was strong; she took care of Derek when the rest of their family died. She managed to keep good humour, to be outgoing, to raise Derek through the last few years of his childhood, to make things as okay as they could be for them. She would get through this, too.
Stiles may not know her that well, but he admired her.
He and Derek cuddled a bit longer. Stiles reveled in it. He hadn't been held the way Derek was holding him in.. well, ever. His dad gave great hugs, Scott was also pretty good for a bro-hug or two when needed, and his mom -oh, how he missed her- had been the queen of motherly cuddles. The way Derek held him close like he needed it just as much as Stiles, well, it was something altogether different. It was amazing.
It came to an end rather abruptly, when Derek suddenly let go of him and scooted backward a few feet. Stiles was about to voice his displeasure when he heard the knock on his bedroom door.
"Stiles?" asked his dad's voice, "you awake, son?"
"Yeah," replied Stiles.
The door opened and he heard his dad shuffle a few steps into the room.
"How are you this morning?" he asked, sounding worried.
"Alright," answered Stiles, honestly. "My head is throbbing a bit, but nothing bad."
"I'll get you some Advil," offered his dad, and Stiles gave him a small smile in thanks. "Oh," said his dad, suddenly, and Stiles tensed guiltily. "I had wondered where that dog had gone off to. Do you need me to let him out for you?"
Stiles nearly sputtered out a lame "huh", when he felt the bed shift next to him. Right… Miguel. Which reminded him…
"Dad," said Stiles, suddenly, "what's going to happen about Sean Kellstone?"
There was a small pause.
"You mean, is Derek going to be prosecuted," replied his dad knowingly.
"I couldn't help but notice how you didn't arrest him yesterday," said Stiles with a shrug.
"Even if it was decided he was to blame for Sean Kellstone's death, there's some pretty hard evidence to support your theory that it was in self-defence, now," said John, his voice tinged with a bit of good humour.
Stiles nodded. For fuck's sakes, there better be!
"However, the coroner's report came in the day before last," continued John and Stiles perked at his dad's words, "and all his wounds looked to be animal in nature."
"You think he was attacked by that weird bear-wolf thing that Scott saw?" asked Stiles, relief flooding his system.
"It was definitely suspicious considering where his body was found and the state of Derek's house," said John, "but, yeah, it looks like he died of an animal attack."
"So, Derek's off the hook," said Stiles, smiling broadly, now.
"He might be brought in for further questioning, but… for the most part, yeah, he's off the hook," said Stiles' dad.
"Which means…" said Stiles, letting it trail off.
"Yes, you can see him, not that you were going to let me stop you, anyway," answered John with a sigh. Stiles did a fist pump, belatedly remembering that Derek was, in fact, in the room. He felt a little stupid after that, but he couldn't be bothered to do anything about it. "I'm going to get you that Advil now," said John, his trademarked long suffering sigh apparent in his voice.
"Thanks, dad!" Stiles called after him.
Derek licked his face when the bedroom door closed.
"Seriously?" laughed Stiles, "my first kiss from you is in doggy-form?"
He laughed harder when he heard a playful growl rise from Derek.
THANK YOU for reading this fic!
YES, another fic is "scheduled" for this series... this is not the end! There are loose ends to tie and adventures to be had and smutty scenes to be written! And don't forget to follow me on TUMBLR! idareu2bme is my tumblr username. I'm having a giveaway right now that ends April 30th, so make sure you enter to win lots of cool fan gear!
A super big thank you to Mondlilie and Bononoh for their help with this fic.