Inspired by this tumblr post: hatfulofcrazy dot tumblr dot com/post/52726432192/i-want-a-fic-where

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Sheriff Stilinski had a heavy heart.

He'd worked so hard to not ever have this day come.

He'd been the Sheriff of Beacon County for even longer than he'd been a father, but the birth of his son—and, not too long thereafter, the death of his wife—gave the title new meaning for him.

The Sheriff was more than a cop, more than a lawmaker and a peacekeeper. They were a shepherd, a guardian of the innocent from the threats of the night. It was a role he took very seriously.

There were so many threats in the world. So many threats, so many dangers, even in their little slice of California heaven. If people knew, if they knew what was out there, so much more than the ordinary murderers and thieves the world had prepared them for…

It wasn't enough for his flock to be safe. They needed to feel safe, not lay awake at night listening for noises, not tremble at shadows and keep their children home. Living in fear would not make the residents of Beacon Hills any safer from the threats in the darkness.

So, yes. He broke the law, once or twice. Or several dozen times. Or more than he could remember. He fudged accident reports. He 'edited' the more inconvenient witness statements, the stubborn ones who wouldn't doubt themselves when he asked if they were sure. He…lost some of the coroner's results. It was all in public service; hiding the truth was the only way to protect people from what they really did not want to know.

Hell, he didn't want to know it. It wasn't fun, carrying a burden like that, especially all alone. Oh sure, that vet, Deaton, could be counted on to help out in a pinch; but he wasn't on the Sheriff's side, not really. He was too mixed up in all of it. And he sure as hell couldn't share what he knew with the rest of the force, not unless he wanted to get himself committed. Oh, he'd thought about it, when he first found out, but…who would believe something like this?! Nobody, that's who. Better to keep it in his own skull and just try to contain the damage.

…God dammit. This was the last thing he'd ever wanted to do. After the way they'd lost his mother, and Stiles had walked around like a ghost for weeks, weeping and clinging on his jacket and sleeping with the light on and he'd sworn then and there that he'd do anything, anything, to keep his son from ever feeling that afraid again. To keep that shadow off his face.

But there wasn't anything else he could do! Stiles was, he was—older, he was growing up, growing away from his father, things like curfews and lectures didn't have the effect they used to. He had to keep the stupid kid safe. Soon he'd be going off to college—and there's a heart attack by itself, Stiles leaving for college—and going out into the wide world and feeling safe had to take a backseat to being safe.

Without his father to protect him from behind the scenes, Stiles would have to know the truth. It was going to be hard; hard to make him believe, obviously, and harder still to make him understand and accept why his father had to lie to him. Perhaps hardest to make him agree to keep the secret.

He's gonna want to confront Scott; he counted mentally in his head; but it should be fine as long as it's not in public. And Scott's girlfriend, that hunter, Allison. And God only knows how it'll change things with that girl he's been stalking since he was a kid, the one who went crazy. Lydia. But can he keep it a secret? He's got a big mouth, that's for sure, but does he have other friends? I don't think he does. Danny, maybe. He sighed, then shook his head.

He'd just have to convince Stiles that the best way to keep his friends safe was to keep them in the dark. The less people knew about…that (and oh lord was he pathetic, wouldn't even say the word in his own head), the safer they'd be, Stiles had to understand that. He was…well, no, not smart exactly, but…clever. Sort of. In his own weird little way. He wouldn't want to inflict that knowledge on his friends, he couldn't.

The kid in question was in his room, messing around with his laptop. He slammed it closed when he saw his dad in the doorway, though, looking suspicious and vaguely guilty. Probably porn, the Sheriff thought wearily.

"Listen, son. You got a minute?"

"…Um, sure, dad, what's up?"

How does that kid always manage to sound like he's up to something, no matter what he does? "We need to talk."

"O…kay. That sounds…ominous. Is—is something wrong?"

"Not exactly. Why don't you come on down to the kitchen."

He headed for the stairs without looking back; Stiles' tromping, clumsy steps followed him. In the kitchen, he wordlessly poured each of them a root beer float, saw the sudden fear creep onto his son's face and hated himself.

Root beer floats had always been their family comfort food. He'd softened the blow of Stiles' mother's cancer diagnosis with them, and other bad news as well. The blind, naked panic in his son's eyes when he realized this was going to be one of those conversations broke his heart a little bit.

"Have a seat, son."

Stiles obeyed, but kept shifting, twitching in his seat. He wondered wearily if it was all nerves, or if he'd had too much Adderall again. Going to have to keep better tabs on that pill bottle.

"We need to talk about something. Well, really, I need to talk about something." He took a deep breath, bracing himself. "I haven't been completely honest with you, Stiles."

"W-what do you mean? Honest how? Because—" he cut the kid off before he could get any traction on his babble. Kid sure can babble, he thought with a twinge of pride, then winced when he remembered that's not something a father is usually proud of.

"Stiles, I gotta tell you something, okay? It's not going to be easy to say, so just…just gimme a minute."

The kid, to his credit, fell silent. Didn't stop twitching, though. After a moment, the Sheriff got his thoughts together.

"Son, you trust me, right?"

"Y-yeah, dad, of course."

The uncertainty and waver in that voice…he nearly cried then and there. "There's—there's something I've been hiding from you. Something big. About the world. I didn't like lying to you, I didn't want to do it, I only ever did it to make you feel safe, okay? You need to understand that," and he was pleading, he was man enough to admit that. Stiles' eyes were the size of saucers.

"And you are safe. I know these past couple of years have been…weird. Please believe me, I have always done everything in my power to protect you. But you're growin' up, and I won't be able to protect you for much longer, so I have to tell you some things so you can protect yourself. No, don't interrupt," he warned, holding a hand out. "Let me say this."

"I know this is gonna be hard for you to believe. But it's true, Stiles. Every word of it."

He took a deep breath.

And then another.

One more.

Dammit, this is harder than I thought it would be. Stiles got nervous and started fiddling with his float, and the sight of the ice cream mustache on his son's open face made his throat clench. He knew if he didn't just spit it out now, he'd never be able to say it at all.

"Stiles, werewolves are real."

Stiles choked on the mouthful of ice cream he'd just taken.

"Shit!" He jumped up from his chair, dancing around behind him and hovering anxiously for a moment before pounding on his back with one hand. Stiles coughed and spluttered, red-faced, before shoving him away and dragging in a hoarse breath.

After a moment's panting, he stared up at his father, eyes bulging. "What the hell?!"

"Son, I know you're confused and probably a little scared, but just try to stay calm, okay?"

"St—stay calm? Are you freaking kidding me? Dad, how long have you known?"

"I've had my suspicions for longer, but…about ten years, I guess. A few years before the Hale family house fire."

"Ten years? Ten years?" Stiles sputtered. "You gotta be freaking kidding me." He seemed to be muttering just to himself. "Un freaking believable. This whole time. This whole freaking time, I've been running around like an idiot when I could've just…"

"Stiles. Stiles." The kid shut up, finally, and he had his attention again. "Now, Stiles, the important thing is that you know that you are safe. No matter what, nothing bad is going to happen to you, okay? Even though what I'm about to tell you may shock you—"

"Oh, my god, Dad, just spit it out."

Deep breath. "Your friend Scott is a werewolf."

A brief moment of stunned silence. Then: "Are you freaking kidding me?!"

"Now, I know this has all come as a shock to you, but—Stiles, Stiles," oh god dammit. Great, the kid was back to talking to himself, ranting indecipherably.

"Stiles. Stiles." This was going to require some…extraordinary measures. Stiles had gotten up from the table, and was spinning in slow circles, yanking at his hair and babbling, ignoring his father completely. Well, it's not like I didn't see this coming, he sighed mentally; better than a panic attack.

He shook his head, took a deep breath and shouted as loud as he could. "Stiles!" Shockingly, it actually worked; the kid shut up and refocused. The Sheriff pinched the bridge of his nose, feeling about ten years older than he was. "Wouldja sit down?" He gestured to a chair, and Stiles sat, quiet.

He took a deep breath, and began to speak. He told Stiles everything—everything, from the beginning, from learning of the existence of the Hale pack to the Argents coming to town to Scott being bitten and all the insanity of the past few years. How terrified he'd been the night of that lacrosse game, when Stiles had been the hero; afraid that madman Gerard would make the Sheriff's son an example of what happened to those who opposed him, how relieved he'd been it was only a school prank gone wrong.

He explained how the Alpha pack coming to town was the last straw, things were just getting too dangerous for Stiles to be left in the dark any longer, especially since his best friend was wrapped up in all of it. Stiles sat in silence through the whole story, more subdued than he'd ever seen him. His face was doing this strange twitching thing and he was trembling; if he hadn't known better, he would have said it was suppressed laughter.

Well, the poor kid was probably hysterical. After all, he had to be terrified. Having something like this sprung on him out of nowhere…maybe this wasn't the best way to do this, maybe he should have eased him into it? Ah hell, but he'd tried that, had dropped all sorts of hints and the kid just thought he was making innuendos to try and restart the Sex Talk (which they were never having again, he'd learned his lesson).

He shifted uneasily in his chair, waiting for the explosion. After a brief and silent staring match, Stiles seemed to get his fear under control. His voice was strained and hoarse, though; probably from the anxiety. I mean, werewolves. Can't blame the kid for being freaked out.

"Well," Stiles squeaked out, as his face twitching again. "Well. Dad. My gosh. This has been…enlightening. I mean. So. Werewolves. My goodness. Definitely…definitely did not know about that."

"You doing okay, son?" he asked anxiously.

"N—yes. Yes. I am. Doing fine. And I think I'm going to. Go. And. Be fine. Somewhere else." Stiles' voice rose about an octave as he spoke, ending in a barely audible squeak. The Sheriff leaned forward, worried.

"Now Stiles, Stiles, calm down. I know you're scared and you're probably feeling pretty rough right now, but just—don't freak out, okay?"

"I'm not! I'm not." Stiles cleared his throat.

"I just, I know you get panic attacks, since your mom—since, for a while. And I want you to know I'm here for you, if you need to—to talk, or…"

Aaaaaaaand now the kid was doing that teenager thing where he looked at him like he was an idiot. "Nah, nah, I'm…I'm good." Stiles' face was twitching and jumping, his mouth contorted. He was trembling again, but harder; shaking, really. "I think…I should call Scott. Because we, we, we clearly have a lot. To…talk about." His voice had gone all squeaky again.

"So I'm gonna just…go. Upstairs. To my room. And call Scott. Because…he's a werewolf. And…and you knew that. This whole time. So. I'm gonna…yeah." He hovered awkwardly for a moment and then spun on his heel and stomped off towards his room.

The Sheriff slumped back in his chair. What a nightmare. Still, though, he thought, it could have gone worse. God, I need a drink.

Poor Stiles. The kid really was oblivious. Imagine having a whole pack of werewolves and more running around your town and not knowing a thing about it. He shook his head. No wonder Stiles had been so freaked out. Why, he was probably on the phone with Scott right now, hyperventilating and demanding explanations.

He cocked an ear at the muted sounds drifting from Stiles' room, loud enough to be heard all the way downstairs. Sounds like the poor kid finally cracked, he thought morosely. It was odd, though; from here, his sobs almost sounded like hysterical laughter.

Well, he'd always been a weird kid.