Hello all! This is my first story for this fandom and I'm still getting used to writing the characters so I really apologize if anyone is OOC; I'm trying my best to keep everyone pretty canon! This takes place between seasons 2 and 3 so no Alpha Pack yet, Erica and Boyd are still alive, and Jackson is still in Beacon Hills (although he doesn't really make an appearance in this story) Hope you all like it!
Disclaimer: I own nothing, I'm just playing with them =p
Stiles knows he should really re-evaluate his life choices when he realizes he's not even surprised to see Peter back from the dead. Confused, yes. Shocked, absolutely. But more than anything, more than the knee-jerk reaction of 'that's not possible' and 'oh my God, I watched you die how are you here right now?!', Stiles simply feels irritated.
He's slipped away from the group toward the back of the warehouse, leaning heavily against the wall to regain his composure. Jackson was a werewolf now, he could handle that (anything was better than the Kanima really; he'd take vampires and werewolves and any amount of paranormal fuckery any day of the week over the Kanima). Allison had changed from the innocent new girl to a pretty damn terrifying hunter, he could handle that too. He could even handle the sight of his former kidnapper, Gerard, coughing up black sludge and oozing the oily, dark substance from every orifice (he could definitely handle that because seriously, screw that guy). But what he couldn't handle was watching Lydia embrace Jackson, weep in his arms, cradles his face in her hands, press her lips against his, whisper 'I love you' over and over again.
It hurt deep, like a sucker punch to the ribs forcing all the air in his lungs out of his body. It takes a second to remind himself to breathe, to suck it up, to back away before anyone notices. He wants to disappear into the shadows, meld into the walls, fade into obscurity at least for a little bit while he gets his emotions back under control. He knows he could blame it on stress: a combination of being kidnapped, fighting for his life for days on end now, living in abject terror for weeks at a time. He could blame the sting of tears in his eyes on any of those things and no one would think twice about it. But he doesn't want to use that as an excuse right now because he really doesn't want to talk to anyone. He just wants to be alone for a minutes. Which is why it's so Goddamn irritating when Peter suddenly pops up beside him, grinning lazily like a hungry cat who had just found a stray mouse.
"Ahh, young love is such a fickle mistress," Peter teases, nudging Stiles with his elbow as he leans against the wall beside him. Stiles has to physically rope in the urge to rear back and punch him as hard as he can; he knows perfectly well that even at half his strength Peter could still easily rip his head off if he wanted to. For the briefest of seconds, Stiles considers testing that theory and just launching himself at him. But he doesn't; instead he just closes his eyes and rubs a hand over his face.
"God, what do you want?" Stiles mutters behind the palm of his hand, refusing to look over at the older man. "And what are you even doing here? Shouldn't you be busy, I don't know, decomposing or something? Isn't that what dead guys are supposed to do?"
Peter smirks and tilts his head up toward the ceiling. "Theoretically yes but then, I'm not exactly dead anymore, now am I?"
"Nope, not dead anymore," Stiles agrees with a long sigh. "Good party trick too, you should try doing it in front a bigger crowd next time. Like maybe a firing squad or a stampede of African elephants. They love surprises."
Peter chuckles but it sounds dry and humorless. "Still just as snarky as ever. It would have been so much fun to have you in my Pack."
Stiles rolls his eyes and shoots a sidelong glare at the former Alpha. "Yeah, well my answer still stands. I don't want to be like you and I certainly don't want to be part of your Pack."
Peter smirks again and shakes his head. "Like all good things, I'm afraid that offer has expired. You see, only an Alpha can give the Bite and after my last round with Derek, I'm not exactly Alpha status anymore, I've been demoted to Beta." He peeled himself off the wall and turns to face Stiles. "Although it appears you ultimately didn't need the Bite in the end. After all, you managed to work your way into the Pack without my help. I'm so proud I could almost weep."
Stiles glares at him. "I'm not a part of Derek's Pack. He never bit me, no claw marks, nothing. I'm still 100% human."
"True," Peter concedes with a slight shrug. "But you're a part of Scott's Pack and by extension, that make you a part of Derek's."
Stiles shakes his head in frustration. "That doesn't make any sense. I'm not a wolf, I'm not a Beta or whatever it is you guys call it. I'm a human. Enunciate that with me: hu-man. And as such, there is no way I can be part of a Wolf Pack if I'm still human; understand the discrepancy here?"
Peter just gives him another smug smirk and crosses his arms over his chest. "You're more a part of it than you may think," he tells him cryptically. "But you should know that being the one human in a pack of wolves is not a safe place to be. You think you're safe because these are your friends, because Scott is here and he's your best friend and he would never hurt you."
Peter takes a step closer and Stiles tries to back away only to realize that his back is still pressed up against the wall. The older man uses it to his advantage and steps forward again so that his face is just inches from the teenager's. Close enough that Stiles can clearly see the flicker of gold in the older man's eyes and hear the rumbling growl in his voice as he speaks. "But what you seem to forget is that even a friendly dog can turn vicious with the right incentive. After all, we're all wolves in the end."
"Stiles?" Scott's voice doesn't hold so much as a question as it does a warning directed toward the man cornering his best friend. He walks forward purposefully, his eyes locked on Peter the entire time. "Everything alright?" He asks, once again not directly toward Stiles but more as a clear hint that Peter should back away immediately.
The older wolf smiles at him and nods. "Everything's fine. Stiles and I were just having ourselves a little chat."
"Yeah, well I think that's about enough heart-to-heart discussions for one day, don't you think?" Scott mutters, taking another step forward and placing himself between Stiles and Peter.
Peter smirks and nods. "You couldn't be more right. It's getting a little too crowded in here for my taste anyway." He turns to walk away but stops, turning his attention back toward Stiles. "The Pack is a gift Stiles, but it can also be a curse. Try to remember that, hm?" He takes a second longer to wink at the younger boy before turning on his heel and walking away.
Once he's satisfied by the distance between the other wolf and the two of them, Scott turns his attention back to Stiles. "You alright?"
The other boy nods and sighs. "Yeah, just having a chat with good old uncle Peter."
Scott looks like he has more questions but he chooses not to ask them at the moment. Instead, he reaches out and claps Stiles on the shoulder and nods toward the front of the building. "Let's get out of here, huh?"
Stiles nods emphatically. "Yeah, I've had just about enough supernatural weirdness for one day. Let's go."
"'Post Modern Theories in Applied Ethnographic Anthropology? The Evolution of Philosophical Writing?'" Stiles shakes his head in disbelief. "God, who's even reading these?"
"Apparently someone with way too much time on their hands," Erica mutters next to him, snatching one of the heavy books out of his hand and shoving it onto the correct place on the shelf. She turns and grabs another armful of books and walks down the rows of shelves, pausing every once in a while to deposit another book onto the shelf before resuming her stride.
Stiles has no idea what she did to end up in detention with him, re-shelving the books in the library after school. He'd fallen asleep in the middle of a lecture in Harris's class (one too many late nights keeping up with the not-so-secretive creatures of myth and legend) and had landed himself with another afternoon's worth of detention because of it. Stiles had quickly learned not to question the things Erica did after her transformation; all he knew was there had been some kind of throw down in the girl's bathroom that ended with two girls in the nurse's office with black eyes and Erica sentenced to a week's worth of after school detention.
It's just the two of the them in the library at the moment, the normal bustle and flow of students long since gone with the final bell of the day. It was quiet and still in the library, a peaceful environment for re-shelving the books. Silence had always made Stiles fidgety and now was no exception.
"So how's the super awesome werewolf training going?" He asks through a slot in one of the shelves that Erica quickly fills with another book.
She sighs heavily at his question. "If by 'training' you mean getting our asses kicked every day and getting more or less tortured by an asshole Alpha who thinks his Betas are all just a bunch of immature teenagers then yeah, the training is going great. Thanks so much for asking," Erica snaps as she shoves the last of her books onto the shelf.
Stiles blinks in surprise at the response and holds his hands up in mock surrender when she approaches again. "Sorry, I just thought I'd-"
Erica sighs again and shakes her head. "No, it's fine. I shouldn't have snapped at you." She grabs another stack of books and walks toward the nearest shelf. "Apparently being a werewolf around that time of the month makes me extra bitchy and more willing to tear into the first person I see..." She lets the sentence trail off into nothing, shelving a few more books instead. She turns back to him after a second and tucks her hair behind her ear hastily. "So, sorry for snapping at you."
Stiles shrugs in response and pushes a few of his own books onto the shelves. "It's not a big deal. Lydia snaps at me all the time so I'm kind of used to it by now; skin like armor over here."
Erica smirks and punches him hard in the shoulder, which hurts, but Stiles manages to hide the wince that accompanies the blow. "Still feels pretty soft to me," Erica teases as she drops off the last of her books onto the shelf and walks over to the cart to grab another stack.
"Well, if you had given me some kind of warning I might have been able to flex and dazzle you with the awe-inspiring sight of my rippling biceps."
Erica just scoffs and steps past him. "I think you mean 'lack thereof'," she counters, scooping up another armful of books before pausing and making a face. "Ugh, what is that smell?"
Stiles frowns in confusion and looks around the room. No one else had entered the library and he hadn't noticed any unusual odors over the slightly musty smell of old books. "I don't smell anything."
Erica ignores him and begins going through the books in her arms, lifting each one up and smelling it tentatively like it might jump out of her hands if she made any sudden movements. "How can you not smell that?" She asks after a second, dropping the load of books back onto the cart and moving to grab a few more. "I noticed it when I first got here but it's just gotten worse the longer we've been in here." She lifts up the other books one by one and smelling them carefully.
Stiles has no problem admitting he's confused by the smell (or, as she said earlier, 'lack thereof') Erica is talking about. He can't smell anything, at least nothing out of the ordinary that would have him giving an olfactory interrogation to the piles of books sitting on their cart in the middle of the library. Curious, he picks up one of the books in his hands and gives it a tentative sniff. Nothing; just old paper and dried ink.
"Uh, listen," he starts, watching as Erica moves away from the cart and tilts her head up to sniff the air instead. "I know I may not have super enhanced wolf senses like you do but maybe if you tell me what it smells like I can help you locate the source."
Erica turns toward him slowly, eyes closed and still sniffing the air. "It's like this weird, stale and dirty smell. Like mildew almost; water damage or dry rot or something." She walks toward him, stopping about a foot away before her eyes snap open. She's looking directly at him and her eyes narrow almost accusingly. "It's you."
"Me? What?" Stiles blinks in confusion, having enough understanding of the problem to feel offended by the accusation. "It can't be me, I took a shower this morning before school and everything!"
Erica ignores him, taking a step forward and closing the distance between them in a matter of seconds. Stiles feels his shoulder bump into the shelf behind him and realizes this is the second time he's been cornered by a werewolf in a little under a week. Seriously, how is this his life?
Stiles stutters to find something to say in response to Erica's uncomfortably close proximity but she's not paying any attention to him. She's sniffing him instead, smelling his clothes, his hair, his skin, anything she can get close to. Her expression twists into one of barely disguised disgust and she shakes her head. "Ugh, you smell like them."
Once again, Stiles has no problem admitting he doesn't have the slightest clue who 'them' is. "Them? Who's-"
"Humans," Erica tells him like it's the most logical answer in the world. "Our classmates, the teachers, this school. You smell like them."
"Uh...well, I mean, yeah of course I smell like them; I didn't know I smelled any differently. I'm still human after all, shouldn't I smell like one?"
Erica makes another face and shakes her head. "Hell no." Without waiting for a response, she bounces up to her toes and buries her face in the side of his neck, nuzzling the juncture between his head and his collarbone. Stiles is too stunned to do much of anything other than freeze as Erica continues to burrow her face against his throat, her hands coming up to comb through his hair in long, messy streaks that are a little less than gentle. She moves away from his neck, caressing his cheek with her own while letting her hands continue to wander across the top of his head and down his arms.
Stiles can't really process a coherent thought at the moment, let alone utilize any of his vocal capabilities to string together a complete sentence. All he can think about is the smell of Erica's shampoo, the rough way her hands are roaming all over his upper body, and the fact that she's pressed very close to him and there are still cameras in this library. The absolute last thing he needs is to get caught on camera in very compromising position and have the entire school think that he and Erica were getting busy in the library after school.
Almost as suddenly as it started, Erica stops and pulls away. She looks him up and down appraisingly, taking in the scarlet flush in his cheeks and the completely stunned expression on his face. She give him a wolfish grin in response. "There, much better. You smell like us now."
Stiles manages to swallow the lump of what-the-hell-just-happened lodged in his throat and looks at her. "'Smell like us'? What? Who's 'us'? When did there become this big distinction between us and them? Is 'us' the North and 'them' the South? Was a new Mason-Dixon Line just drawn and I wasn't aware of it?"
Erica just rolls her eyes and grabs another stack of books. "'Us' meaning the Pack; you smell like one of us now."
Stiles wants to argue that he's not part of the Pack but he's still so dumbstruck by what just happened that all he can say is, "what?"
Erica just strolls past him like nothing happened, shelving a few of her books along the way. "Don't worry, it's a good thing. It helps keep the bigger, badder wolves away. And it takes away that gross human smell." She looks back at him over her shoulder and winks. "Trust me, you smell much better now."
Stiles watches as she disappears behind the shelves again and takes another second or two to shake himself out of his stupor. Grabbing the biggest armful of books he can manage, he begins pacing in and out of the aisles, shelving the books as quickly as possible so they can both finish and get the hell out of here. The week had been weird enough without possessive female werewolves leaving their scent all over him and now that that had happened, Stiles felt like his weird-o-meter had just hit an all time high. Time to get out the library and scrape up what little bit of sanity he could reclaim in the world.
Stiles was going to absolutely murder Scott the next time he saw him. Seriously, just straight up murder him. Chop him up into little bitty pieces, light them on fire, mix the ashes with Mountain Ash, and bury it all in a big patch of wolf's bane. Yep, that sounded like a good plan. Now if only he could survive the night in order to do all of that...
The footsteps had stopped a few minutes before and the forest was tossed into the still, eerie silence that is usually indicative of some kind of surprise attack. Stiles presses himself into the shadows a little deeper, hoping the darkness would provide a bit more cover and keep him concealed from his pursuers. He knows it's all a bit pointless though. They were wolves; they could smell him, hear his ragged breathing and rapid thump of his heart as it hammered away against his ribs. They could see in the dark too, he know that from hanging out with Scott too much. Darkness was not exactly his ally when the things chasing after him had built-in night vision.
He takes a deep breath and chances a peek beyond the rocky outcrop he's been hiding under. He can't see anything but that doesn't mean they can't see him. In fact, he's almost sure they can see him. They're waiting for him to move first, waiting to see which way he's going to go before making their attack. It's all about strategy and teamwork in these situations; timing is everything. He needs to make his escape count or else it's all over.
Stiles resists the urge to sigh; today had started off so well too. He'd finished all of his homework the night before and turned it in on time. Harris actually decided to have mercy on his class and waved a pop quiz in favor of a video over the reproductive cycle of honeybees. He'd even scored a goal during practice today. Overall, it had been a pretty good day. And then Boyd showed up.
At first Stiles didn't think anything of it; he saw Boyd all the time, why should today be any different? But the way the larger teen blocked his path in the hallway indicated there was another reason behind the encounter. "Come on, Stilinski," Boyd muttered, nodding toward the door at the end of the hall. "Pack meeting."
Stiles had frowned at the description because this had become somewhat of a regular occurrence by now. He didn't even try to explain that he wasn't technically part of the Pack anymore because no one really listened to him anyway. But he does put his foot down on this invitation and shake his head fervently. "Uh-uh, no way. No Pack meeting for me tonight. I have other plans. Lots of other plans, actually. Plans about plans. No time for a Pack meeting in my schedule today."
Boyd quirked an eyebrow and set him with a measured look. "It wasn't an invitation."
"Well then, glad that's settled," Stiles retorts with a half-assed grin. "I wasn't invited and Pack meetings seem like an invitation-only kind of event so case closed."
Boyd's eyes flashed gold for a second and he took a step forward. "Parking lot. Now."
Stiles would ignore to his dying day that he whined. "Oh, come on, Boyd! I'm so sick of being kidnapped after school by teenage werewolves. You guys are really cutting into my social life, you know that? You're ruining my social life, Boyd!"
"My heart bleeds for you, Stilinski, it really does," Boyd shot back, nodding back toward the doors. "Parking lot."
Stiles wasn't really sure what made him stand up straighter and look Boyd dead in the eye and tell him no. His self-preservation skills must have taken the afternoon off because that was quite literally a suicide move. He half-expected Boyd to tear him apart in the hallway right then and there but to his surprise the larger boy simply shrugged, stepped forward, and caught Stiles around the waist with one large arm, hoisting him up onto one shoulder like he weighed little more than a sack of flour. Stiles kicked and squirmed and cursed righteously while Boyd just turned and strolled casually toward the doors leading out to the parking lot. Yep, everything had been great until Boyd showed up.
As it turns out, 'Pack meeting' was code for 'Pack training session' which was also code for 'Stiles gets tracked and hunted through the woods by a pack of baby Betas who are learning how to hone their senses when it comes to tracking prey.' Scott had made the idiot mistake of promising to help Derek train the Betas and that usually translated to a lot of hands on exercises. And like all good hands on exercises, Stiles usually ended up being the prey because he was human and therefore easier to track. This particular exercise involved Stiles being used as bait for the new wolves. He really hates Scott at this moment...
There's a rustle of movement off to his right and Stiles knows that it's only a matter of time before they make their move. He's going to have to move now, and fast, if he wants to get away. Taking a deep breath, he pushes himself out of his hiding place with a burst of speed he didn't know he possessed and takes off running into the trees. Almost instantly he can hear them behind him, running and jumping and lunging to take him down. He just needs to make it back to his Jeep, once he gets there he's homefree...
His foot hits a root and he goes toppling into a pile of dead leaves and grass. He's up on his feet a second later but it's one second too long. Golden eyes are locked onto his just a few feet away, glowing like a lamp in the darkness. He can't see the rest of the body because of the shadows but he can see the eyes; he can always see the eyes. Another set joins the first, a few feet to his right, and he knows he can't break away from them fast enough to get away.
He's just about to turn on his heel and run back the way he came when there's a whoosh of air, a painful tackle from his left, and the world tilts upside down for a second. He lands on his back heavily, grunting as the air is knocked from his lungs. At the moment, he's not sure what hurts more: the fact that he just got tackled by a werewolf or the fact that he's about 90% sure he's laying on top of a root.
Isaac is sitting on top of him, grinning triumphantly with his golden eyes. His weight is settled right on top of Stiles's stomach, pinning him to the ground, and even though they're both pretty close to the same build, Isaac feels so much heavier on top of him. The teen is still grinning victoriously as both Boyd and Erica step out from the shadows. "Now that was a good chase."
"Easy for you to say," Stiles grumbles, shifting just a bit to get away from the root he was on top of. "Next time you guys decide to play werewolf hide-and-seek, I'm just going to stay in the car."
Isaac laughs and shifts off of him, offering his hand down in return. "Come on, man. It's all in good fun. This is what Packs do, it's how we train. You're one of us now."
Stiles winces and takes Isaac's hand, using the other boy's strength to leverage himself off the ground. He chooses to ignore the Pack comment because he's too tired and sore to come up with a decent enough argument to prove that he is not part of the Pack. Not that it would do much good; it was all in one ear and out the other with this bunch. Maybe he should just accept it and go on about his life.
"Come on, let's head back," Erica calls from the treeline further away. "I'm starving."
Boyd follows her without further encouragement with Isaac and Stiles tagging along behind. Stiles is limping slightly from the tackle and his back still hurts from the impact with root but Isaac doesn't seem to notice or care when he tosses an arm around his shoulders. "Don't worry, Stiles. Next time we'll give you a head start."
Stiles almost laughs at this but instead it just turns into a wince. God, he is going to kill Scott...
"You know you've inadvertently become part of their Pack, right?" Lydia mutters beside him, not looking up from the tree she's sketching in her notebook.
Stiles blinks in confusion and looks over at her. "What?"
"Their Pack," she repeats, still not looking up. "The group. The horde. The little werewolves-only club that a startling number of our classmates have joined in the past few months."
Stiles sighs and shakes his head. "I'm not part of their Pack; like you said it's a werewolf-only kind of membership."
"And yet you're still part of it."
"No, I'm not."
"Yes, you are."
"No," Stiles insists, putting as much emphasis into the word as he can. "I'm not."
"Yes," Lydia counters, looking up from her notebook since the first time she sat down and leveling her gaze with him. Stiles felt his heart stutter slightly as she locked eyes with him; she always had that effect on him. "You are. You just don't think you are."
"Oh my God, you guys are killing me here," Stiles sighs again and taps his pen against the table absently. When they'd gotten paired together for Chemistry, he could have danced for joy at the idea of spending the entire period with Lydia as his partner. The absolute last thing he wanted to talk about was his maybe/maybe not inclusion to the resident Beacon Hills wolf Pack. "Can we please just talk about something else? Anything else?"
Lydia shrugs one shoulder and snaps her notebook closed. "Fine." She grabs their instruction sheet from the edge of the table and pretends to read over it carefully even though Stiles is pretty sure she already knows exactly what they're doing. "Hand me that beaker over there."
Stiles grabs the desired container and manages to contain the question for a solid ten seconds before he breaks down and turns to her. "Okay, so what makes you think I'm part of their Pack?"
The corners of Lydia's glossy lips quirk just slightly in the barest hint of a smile. "I thought you wanted to talk about something else. Beaker?"
He hands her the beaker impatiently and turns back to her. "I do, anything else actually. I would rather voluntarily sign up for a root canal than talk about this. But literally everyone has been telling me I'm part of the Pack for the past few weeks and I don't get it. So if you have any theories or ideas to share, I'd be glad to hear them."
Even though she's mastered the casual and disinterested expression of someone who doesn't bother themselves with issues that don't concern them, Stiles knows full well that Lydia has been reading up on every book and article over wolf packs and pack mentality since Jackson was turned. She plays off the ditzy airhead persona for everyone else but she's probably one of the smartest girls Stiles has ever met and if she knows something he doesn't, now would be a really good time to find out.
Lydia takes the beaker from him and measures out the instructed chemicals. "Well, let's see. You hang out with Scott all the time and he's a werewolf. You're on the lacrosse team with Scott and Isaac and Jackson and they're all werewolves. You're constantly tagging along on all of their super secret werewolf missions."
Stiles rolls his eyes slightly. "Yeah, but that's because my dad is the Sheriff which means I find out about all the weird crap that happens in this town before anyone else."
Lydia waves her hand flippantly and continues. "You're one of the only ones in this town who's not a werewolf that knows where their den is. The alpha, Derek, knows you've been there and hasn't tried to shred you into confetti because of it."
"I'm sure he's thought about it..."
Lydia ignores him and continues adding chemicals to their beaker. "And you're the only one who can fluctuate between the Pack and the rest of the world with no repercussions."
"That's not true," Stiles counters as he picks up a test tube from the rack at the corner of the table and measures out the required amount of water. "You and Allison are just as accepted by them as I am."
Lydia give him a look that's part 'seriously?' and part 'bless your special little heart'. "When was the last time Allison was invited over to play video games with Isaac and Boyd after school?"
Stiles frowns and has to admit defeat at that. He'd been in the middle of a Call of Duty marathon for the past week and Isaac and Boyd were the only ones who would agree to play it with him. "Okay, fine, but that's not-"
"Do you think they trust Allison not to tell her father where their den is after they left the old Hale house?"
"Okay, I get it. The Argents aren't exactly on friendly terms with the werewolves. Point made. But that still doesn't-"
"Aside from Allison, who was the first person Scott went to after his first encounter with the Kanima?"
"The point is," Lydia says, cutting him off before he can argue. "They've accepted you into their Pack and you don't even realize it. They trust you. They've welcomed you in."
Stiles sighs and shrugs. "Yeah, but why? I mean, obviously they know I'm not one of them and from everything I've read about wolf behavior, they're super territorial when it comes to their Pack. So if I'm not one of them, why accept me in?"
Lydia shrugs slightly and adds the contents of a test tube into the beaker. "It seems like mutual exclusivity bias to me."
"Wait, mutually exclusive what?"
"Mutual exclusivity bias," Lydia repeats as she swishes the contents of their beaker carefully. Upon seeing Stiles's blank look, she continues with a sigh. "It's something that children do when they're learning how to speak; a kind of limited association I guess you could say. When kids are learning how to speak, they don't have the verbal skills to differential between two things of similar nature. They can see the difference between a soccer ball and a basketball but to them it's all the same thing, it's just a ball. Same thing with a dog and a wolf. A wolf looks like a dog but a child can't explain away the difference so therefore it becomes a dog. Understand?"
"Not a bit."
Lydia sighs again and turns to face him. "Look, the others know you're human and they recognize that you're different from them but on another level you're also they same as they are. You smell like them. You're around them all the time. You protect them. You are fundamentally different from them and yet they can't or won't differentiate you from their Pack. You may be human but you're also a Pack member to them."
"Great," Stiles sighs heavily and drums his fingers against the table. "So much for having a normal high school experience."
"I don't think you exactly fall under the definition of 'normal'," Lydia counters as she adds the last of the chemicals to their beaker.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Stiles mutters, waving his hand dismissively. "So what am I
supposed to do now? Just go on about my life and pretend everything is normal?"
"Dunno," Lydia mumbles, swishing the contents of their beaker until it turns a florescent orange. "You're on your own for that."
"Perfect," Stiles mutters to himself more than anything. "And I used to think nothing interesting ever happened in this town..."
Stiles slips his keys into his pocket as he pushes open the door to the clinic, stepping into the cool, sterile waiting room. The room still has its trademark smell of antiseptic and ammonia but it's surprisingly quiet this afternoon. Usually the combined sounds of dogs and cats would have accompanied anyone's entry into the clinic but today there were only a few muffled noises coming from the back rooms. Stiles looks around the waiting room briefly, quickly coming to the realization that he's the only one here. Scott had asked him to meet him here after school but it didn't look like the other boy had arrived yet.
"Scott?" Stiles calls, more out of formality than anything else. Maybe he was in the back room and hadn't heard him come in. Unlikely with super enhanced werewolf senses but still...
"Back here," a familiar voice that is distinctly not Scott's calls from the examination room. Shrugging, Stiles pushes past the front desk and walks down the hall to the room. He finds Deaton re-stocking one of the cabinets with supplies from a plastic crate on the floor. The older man looks up when Stiles enters. "Hello Stiles."
"Hey doc," Stiles greets, looking around the room and still seeing neither hide nor wolfy hair of his best friend. "Uh, Scott told me to meet him here after school so..." he fades off slightly, shifting a bit awkwardly from his position in the doorway.
"Scott will be along shortly," Deaton assures him, setting the crate aside and turning to face him. "I was hoping to have a few minutes to speak with you in private."
Stiles frowns slightly. "Well that's never a promising start to a conversation..."
Deaton just smiles and motions him toward an empty stool next to the examination table. Stiles obeys and walks forward, dropping his backpack next to the table and taking a seat on the stool. Once he's sitting, Deaton pulls up another chair and sits on the other side of the table across from him. "I wanted to talk to you about your involvement in Derek's Pack."
Stiles felt the groan come out of his mouth before he could stop it. "Oh God, not you too..."
Deaton just gives him another patient smile and chuckles softly. "I'm guessing you've already heard this conversation before?"
"Yeah, from just about everyone I know," Stiles says with a sigh. "Everyone seems to have jumped on this whole 'Stiles is part of the Pack' bandwagon and I feel like I missed to memo that included my membership."
"Well, usually the memo includes the Bite but you managed to avoid that part of the initiation."
"I'd like to keep it that way, too," Stiles quips, tapping his fingers anxiously against the tabletop. When the silence between them gets to be too much, he looks up at Deaton. "So is this the part where you tell me all about the secret lives of the wolf pack? Or give me some sagely advice like 'with great power come great responsibility'?"
Deaton smiles and shakes his head. "No, this is the part where I tell you that you need to be extremely careful from now on."
Stiles wasn't expecting that and felt any other comments he was about to utter die on his lips. "What?"
"I'm telling you to be careful, Stiles," Deaton says again, all trace of humor gone from his eyes and his expression completely serious. "You've found yourself in a very remarkable and yet extremely perilous situation, one you don't even fully understand yet. As a human, you hold a very unusual status among the other Pack members, one that could prove to be very dangerous for you."
Stiles blinks in confusion and shakes his head. "I don't think I understand what you mean."
Deaton just nods like he expected as much and continues on. "It is exceedingly rare for a wolf pack to accept a human into their group. Most of the time, a human member is either the mate or the offspring of one of the members of the pack and even then, there's about a 90% chance the human will be turned in order to be more accepted by the pack. Since you're neither of these, you were somehow able to become accepted into the Pack all on your own. This is a highly unusual situation and one that unfortunately does not always end well for the human participant."
"Now granted," Deaton allows with a shrug. "Derek's Pack is not the most conventional and his adherence to the rules seem a little more lax than some others but that doesn't make it any less dangerous for you."
Stiles is silent for a moment, drumming his fingers along the table quietly. "So are you telling me I should cut ties with Scott and the others?"
Deaton smiles and shakes his head. "Not at all. I'm simply telling you that you need to be well aware of the possible danger you've put yourself in and made sure you're prepared to face that should it come up. I know you've already experienced the risks that are involved in being part of this Pack."
"Well, let's see," Stiles starts, ticking off the instances on his fingers. "Getting kidnapped and nearly ripped apart by a psycho Alpha, getting kidnapped and nearly ripped apart by a psycho werewolf hunter, getting paralyzed and nearly ripped apart by a psycho lizard thing that then turned into a werewolf." Stiles shrugs, wondering when exactly this became his regular life. "Yeah, I think I'm pretty well versed on the dangers of being part of the Pack."
Deaton nods and looks almost apologetic when he speaks. "Unfortunately, there's a very good chance that it will get worse."
"Worse?" Stiles feels his stomach drop a little bit at this. "How could it get worse? Dealing with the Kanima and the Argents together wasn't worse? It gets worse than that?"
Deaton gazes down at the table for a second before answering. "Stiles, how much do you know about the politics of a wolf pack?"
"Good God, this is a conversation I never thought I'd be having," Stiles mutters with a long sigh before he speaks again. "Not much, only that there's a pretty distinct hierarchy among the pack members. Alpha, Beta, Omega, that kind of thing."
Deaton nods in agreement. "Exactly. But the difference between a typical wolf pack and the one you've found yourself in is that there is an almost constant struggle for power, for a place on top. I'm sure you remember the conflict between Peter and Derek?"
"Yep, can't get rid of those memories," Stiles says with a frown because it's been almost a year and he still wakes up in a cold sweat some night remembering that fight.
"Well, the threat doesn't always come from within the pack," Deaton continues, leveling Stiles with a cool gaze. "Sometimes it comes from outside sources; like your experience with the Kanima and with Gerard Argent. There are a variety of ways to upset the balance in a pack and most of them are used to directly affect the Alpha. A way to take power away from the lead member, you could say."
"However, sometimes the easiest way to hurt the Alpha is to hurt its pack members. Alphas are extremely protective of their pack, often to the point of suicide if it means keeping them safe. Often, the easiest way to draw out an Alpha is to attack its pack."
"So you think someone would try to get to Derek through me?" Stiles asks, but even as he says it he knows it's not a question; it's an undeniable fact.
"I know someone would try to get to Derek through you," Deaton clarifies gently. "The others have the wolf on their side; the part of them that makes them faster, stronger, more resistant to damage and injury. You don't. Someone who wants to get to Derek will likely go through you first. They'll see you as weaker, more vulnerable because you're human. It would be easier to break you than it would any of the other members."
"Well, that's an encouraging thought..." Stiles mutters, raking his fingers through his hair nervously.
Deaton smiles sympathetically. "I'm not telling you this to scare you, I'm telling you this to help you." When Stiles nods hesitantly, he continues. "You're a smart kid, Stiles, and I have no doubt that you would make the right decision in the end but it helps to know the enemy you may be facing. You should be particularly cautious when it comes to strangers, especially any who begin asking questions about Derek or Scott or any other members of the Pack. Use your head and trust your instincts; if something feels off or you feel that someone is dangerous, keep your distance from them."
"Smart plan," Stiles agrees with another emphatic nod. "Did you give Scott the same pep talk after he turned?"
Deaton just smiles. "Something like it. It's my responsibility to look out for Derek and all of his Pack members, humans included. Just remember to be a bit more careful from now on; it could save your life."
Before Stiles can say anything else, the front door of the clinic swings open and he hears Scott call his name. Deaton calls him back and stands up, moving away from the table. Stiles does the same, picking up his backpack from the floor and swinging it over his shoulder.
"Time to get back to work," Deaton says with a half-smile, turning his attention back to re-stocking the cabinet like their conversation never happened.
It seems almost ironic that three days after Deaton's warning, Stiles gets kidnapped again. He figures he should just start keeping a running tally on these kinds of things; they seem to be a rather common occurrence.
Stiles opens his eyes slowly with a wince, groaning softly as he blinks up at the canopy of trees overhead. He doesn't know how he got here; he doesn't even remember much of what happened before he got here. He remembered walking out to his Jeep after school, hearing someone call his name from behind, and then a sharp blast of pain across the back of his skull. Everything was kind of a blur after that...
Stiles blinks again, trying to concentrate on the nearest branch to at least give himself something to focus on. His first realization is that he's in the woods. Fair enough, he'd been in and out of the woods more times than he could count in the past few months.
Second realization is that he more than likely has some kind of concussion from the way his vision is blurring in and out around the edges. He can feel something damp and tacky along his hairline behind his ear and there's a coppery tinge to the air that's indicative of drying blood. The thought makes him nauseous and he swallows thickly around the lump forming in the back of his throat.
The third and most distressing realization is that he can't move. There's a tangle of ropes lashed across his arms, legs, and torso, all of which are very effective at pinning him to whatever surface he was on. Whatever it is, it's flat and smooth, almost like a table but not quite as level. His brain latches onto the word "altar" for some reason and he immediately wishes it hadn't; altars were usually only used for one thing...
There's a flutter of movement off to his right and a soft, feminine giggle. "Ah, look who decided to join the party."
Stiles turns his head to the side slowly, wincing as that movement makes his head throb in time with his heartbeat. Yep, definitely a concussion. There's a girl standing a few feet away from him, petite and pretty with long blond hair and large, doe-like brown eyes. She smiles sweetly at him and it would have been adorable if she wasn't twirling a hunting knife between her fingers. "Although it's too bad you didn't stay unconscious," the girl laments, frowning slightly and looking only slightly apologetic. "It would have been a lot less painful if you weren't awake."
Stiles can't even find it in him to be scared at the moment. "God...it figures that the first gorgeous girl who shows any amount of interest in me just wants to murder me in the woods. I hate my life..."
The girl smiles again and approaches him, running her fingers up and down his arm lightly. "If it makes you feel any better, I really don't want to kill you."
"What a coincidence," Stiles mumbles, ignoring the slur in his voice as he speaks. "Because I really don't want to die."
"But I'm afraid you have to," the girl says, her voice soft and sweet like a lullaby. "I wish it didn't have to be like this but it's the only way, really."
"Only way for what?"
"To be like them," the girl tells him with a smile that's just a tiny bit manic.
"Them?" Stiles asks, even though he already has a pretty good idea of who "them" is referring to. "Who's them?"
"Why, the wolves, silly," the girl clarifies with the same Mad Hatter smile.
Stiles blinks a few times, trying to clear the hazy spots out of his vision. "You're going to kill me because you think you'll become a werewolf?"
The girl laughs and it's a sharp, tittering sound like hail pinging against stained-glass windows. "No, don't be ridiculous!" She cries as if she's not the one holding the hunting knife. "I'm going to kill you to take your place."
"My place? What?"
"Poor thing, you really don't understand, do you?" The girl crouches down beside him, frowning like she speaking to a simple child. "I guess I hit you a little harder than I thought." Her fingers comb through his hair, brushing over the lump behind his ear, and Stiles has to bite back the gasp of pain that leaps to his lips.
The girl steps back, tossing her knife lightly back and forth between one hand and the other. "I know all about the wolf pack in Beacon Hills and I also know that you're involved with it. Most wolf packs don't accept humans but they accepted you for some reason." She turns suddenly, the frenzied look coming back into her eyes. "So all I have to do is get rid of you and then I can take your place in the pack! They'll lose one human but gain another; it's a win-win situation."
"Except for my imminent and horribly violent death," Stiles mutters, struggling uselessly against his bonds. They were tight and constricting and the lack of coordination from his head injury certainly wasn't helping matters either. "Not only that," he continues, hoping to buy himself a bit more time to come up with a plan of escape. "But the Pack isn't just going to welcome you with open arms if you kill me. It doesn't exactly work like that. Packs are pretty territorial when it comes to their members and killing me probably wouldn't go over too well. In fact, they'd probably kill you because you killed me. They take that whole revenge thing pretty seriously."
He stops talking long enough to swallow the rush of bile that tries to build in the back of his throat. The struggling combined with the rising panic were making him feel even more nauseous than before. "Look, you seem reasonable enough," Stiles starts breathlessly, figuring talking to the delusional girl with the hunting knife was a better alternative to fighting her. "If you let me go then I can put in a good word for you. Serve as a character witness. You could start as a mascot and work your way up to secretary in no time-"
In a flash the girl is suddenly on top of him, her slight weight pinning him into the altar even more. The knife is gleaming and sharp in her hand and Stiles feels his mouth go dry. "You know," she says with wicked little smile, raising the knife high above her head. "You should really learn when to close your mouth."
Stiles has just enough time to tense and close his eyes, waiting for the inevitable pain of the blade plunging into his chest. There's a whoosh of air above him, a startled yelp, and a deep, feral growl that makes the hair on the back of his neck stand up. Stiles opens his eyes slowly, risking a peek at his savior, and is met with the sight of a very terrifying, very pissed off Derek Hale crouching above him.
The Alpha's eyes are glowing crimson, narrowed and glaring in the direction of the girl. She's sprawled several feet away, too stunned and too surprised to stand. Derek takes the temporary reprieve to turn his attention to the younger boy. "Are you alright?"
Stiles can't suppress the relieved giggle that escapes his lips. "Oh my God, dude," he gasps, hating the way his voice cracks slightly as he speaks but unable to control it either. "You have mastered the art of daring rescue. You deserve a medal. A big, shiny gold one with your face on it. I'm going to commission one-"
"Stiles," Derek cuts him off mid-ramble, looking at him intensely. "Are you alright?"
Stiles swallows another rush of nausea and nods. "Peachy. I'd be a lot better if I wasn't still strapped to the surface of a sacrificial altar but hey, who can complain, right?"
Derek doesn't answer and instead just sets to work slicing through the the ropes pinning Stiles to the altar. He's just finishing with the ones strapped across his waist when he stops, straightening slowly and turning around. Stiles notices the cessation of action and frowns in confusion. "Hey Derek, still a little tied up here..."
"Shh," Derek hisses, keeping his back to him and staring straight ahead.
Stiles turns his head slowly, his gaze landing on the girl standing just a few feet away now. She'd regained her composure following Derek's intervention and was now standing in wide-eyed wonder just a few feet away from the altar, hunting knife still in hand. "It's you," she whispers in a mixture of awe and glee. "It's really you..."
The glint from her knife is still enough to make Stiles's stomach flip nervously but Derek is standing in front of him, blocking him as much as he can with his own body. Alphas are extremely protective of their pack, Stiles remembers Deaton's words absently and the concept would be adorable if he wasn't still at risk of being stabbed multiple times.
Derek keeps his back to him, his gaze leveled at the girl and a low growl building in the back of his throat. "You get once chance to convince me not to rip your throat out," he growls as the girl continues to stare at him like she'd stumbled across Bigfoot having a tea party in the woods.
"I-I just wanted to be like you," the girl stammers after a second, having the decency to look slightly ashamed. "I thought that if I-"
"You thought that killing a member of my Pack was going to put you on my good side? Is that it?" Derek snarls, the rumble in his voice dangerous and threatening enough to make any sane person run for the hills.
"No," the girl corrects him quickly, shaking her head adamantly. "It's just...I..." Seeing her mistake, she tries a different tactic. "Look, I'm sorry. I just wanted to be one of you so bad. Please. I'll do anything. Anything at all. Just tell me what you want from me and I'll do it."
Derek's eyes are still narrowed but he seems to realize he's dealing with a mentally unstable girl rather than a cold blooded killer. "Sorry," he says after a minute, not budging from his position in front of Stiles. "I don't accept humans in my Pack."
The girl's eyes widen slightly and then narrow a second later. "But he's human," she snaps, indicating Stiles with a nod of her head.
"Because I said so," Derek answers cooly, baring his teeth just slightly as he speaks. He can smell Stiles's blood, thick and pungent in the air, and it's setting his nerves on edge. "This is your one and only warning: come near him again and I will rip you apart with my bare hands. Understand?"
For a moment the girl doesn't move, she just continues to stare at him blankly. The knife is still gripped tightly in one hand, the silver blade shimmering as it trembles between her fingers. Her shoulders slump, head bowing, and for a moment it looks like she's accepting defeat. And then the blade comes up and she flies into a frenzy.
With a burst of speed that didn't seem possible from someone so small, the girl launches herself at Derek, knife flashing dangerously through the air. Stiles's eyes widen at the sudden attack, Derek's name ripping from his lips before he can stop it.
The Alpha, however, barely seems phased by the attack. In one smooth motion, he grabs the girl by the wrist, twists deftly, and flips her into the air. She topples through the air and crashes into the trunk of a tree, landing hard on the ground in a crumpled heap. Both Stiles and Derek stare at her motionless form for a few seconds before either one speaks.
"Oh my God," Stiles mumbles after a second, another wave of bile rising into the back of his throat. "Is she dead?"
Derek shakes his head slowly. "No, just unconscious. I'll get one of the others to pick her up later." He turns his attention back to slicing through the ropes, severing each cord with his claws.
"How did you find me?" Stiles asks after a second because even after all this time he still can't figure out some of the super senses the wolves possess.
"You can thank Scott for that," Derek tells him, cutting through the last rope easily. "He told us you were missing and we formed a search party. I just happened to pick up on your scent first."
Stiles makes some kind of face that he doesn't really have a name for. "You tracked my scent? That's weird..."
Derek just shrugs. "Well, part of being an Alpha means my senses are more acute than the Betas; it helps me identify and track down my Pack members more easily."
Stiles sits up slowly, swaying drunkenly with the shift in position. "Didn't know I was part of your Pack," he slurs before gravity catches up with him and causes him to pitch forward.
Derek moves forward a split second before and catches him by the shoulders before he can fall over completely. Stiles's hands latch onto him biceps for support, breathing heavily as he attempts to quell the nausea that threatens to take over. With a small noise that he refuses to admit is a whimper, he feels his head tip forward only to land on the solid plane of muscle that is Derek's chest.
"Idiot," the Alpha mutters quietly, standing motionless while the younger boy uses him as an anchor. "Of course you're part of the Pack." When Stiles lets out another pathetic little moan, his eyes narrow. "But if you throw up on my shoes I'm going to abandon you out in the woods."
"Rude..." Stiles mumbles back, managing to raise his head just slightly after a few seconds once the trees stop spinning around him. He squints at the fading sunlight and feels it slam into his retinas like a freight train; it's not a happy feeling.
Derek ducks into his line of sight, looking into his eyes carefully. The fingers of one hand card though Stiles's hair, brushing over the painful lump behind his ear. When Stiles tenses beneath his touch, he offers a soft apology and moves his fingers down just below the lump, pressing his fingertips into the skin lightly. Gradually, the pain begins to fade from a sharp, stabbing throb to a dull ache. Stiles almost sags against the Alpha's chest again in relief.
"Well, I don't think you're broken but a trip to the hospital probably wouldn't hurt either," Derek concurs after a minute, moving his hand away to grip the younger boy's arms again. "Think you can walk?"
Stiles is still slightly euphoric from the weird werewolf healing touch but he shrugs slightly. "Only one way to find out." It takes some effort and a bit more coordination than he thought necessary but Stiles manages to swing his legs around to the side of the altar and ease into a standing position. Standing proves to be a bit more challenging and his knees buckle almost the minute he's upright.
Derek is there in an instant, catching him by one arm before he can topple to the ground. "I'll take that as a no." He loops one of Stiles's arm around his shoulders and wraps the other around his waist, supporting the majority of his weight on one side. He waits patiently until Stiles finds his footing, the arm across his shoulder tightening just slightly, Stiles's hand curling spasmodically against his arm.
After a few seconds, the boy nods slowly. "Lead the way, big guy," he slurs quietly, gripping Derek's arm for purchase when the Alpha begins taking careful yet quick steps forward. He hangs on tight, trying to walk as best he can even though it's a pretty wasted effort considering their height difference and the fact that Derek is half-dragging, mostly-carrying him at this point. It doesn't matter though; he's still alive, having escaped certain death once again. He wonders vaguely if he should add in a space for near-death experiences in conjunction with his kidnapping tally but decides that's too damn depressing to think about and leave it at that.
His foot snags a root and he stumbles slightly, only to have Derek catch and correct him with barely any effort. "You good?" The older man asks, glancing at Stiles from the corner of his eye.
"Fantastic," Stiles answers back, wondering when his voice started to sound like it was being filtered through cellophane. If Derek thinks anything of it, he doesn't say anything; just keeps up the steady pace with Stiles's clinging to his shoulder.
Stiles finds himself leaning into him unconsciously, clinging to the warmth and solidity of Derek beside him. He's safe, Derek had made sure of that. He'd protected him, searched for him, accepted him as one of his own. He blames it all on the head injury but for the first time since all of this started, Stiles feels like being part of Derek's pack isn't so bad.
Thanks for reading! :D