After two relaxing weeks at home with his dad, Stiles should have known something would happen sooner or later. Maybe he did realize, at least subconsciously, but he certainly wasn't expecting anything to happen during his weekly trip to the grocery store.
In hindsight, maybe it wasn't the best idea to try to speed up his shopping by not looking up from his list. Maybe then he would have been a little more prepared for running into the one person he wanted to see the least.
He looked up from his list slowly, trying to keep his heartbeat calm and steady. "Heeey, Derek. Long time, no see. Not that I expected to. See, that is. What's up?"
Derek stared at him grimly, claws clinking against the wire of Stiles's cart. His eyes flashed red before he spoke. "Erica and Boyd."
"What about them?" Stiles asked through clenched teeth, turning away from Derek and his Alpha eyes under the pretense of checking the shelves. "I thought they left."
"They're back," Derek said shortly. "They want to see you."
Stiles tightened his fingers around the handle of the cart. He'd had nightmares about having to leave Erica and Boyd in that basement, the guilt and sadness weighing on him heavily. Some nights he would wake up still feeling the tingle of electricity in his hands from where he had attempted to help them down.
"The prodigal werewolves return and they want to see me?" Stiles asked quietly, suddenly having an idea of where Peter might have disappeared to these past two weeks. "Why?"
"I don't know," Derek answered harshly, his face twisting into a scowl of confusion and anger.
Stiles looked back down at Derek's claws and smirked. "But that wouldn't have anything to do with why you're so out of control, would it?"
Derek's jaw muscles went into overdrive, clenching and relaxing wildly. "Stiles. My Betas came back reeking of strange wolves and asked to see you before they decide to stay. I realize you don't know what it's like to have so much power and have to control it all the time, but it's a little difficult in situations like this."
"Send them to my house," Stiles said, ignoring Derek's dig at his abilities. It wouldn't be fair to get upset just because someone else was ignorant. "I'm not sure what they want with me, but I should tell you that my dad has a full stock of wolfsbane bullets. Just in case I should come up missing or injured, you understand."
Exhaling harshly, Derek let go of the cart and crossed his arms defensively. "I wasn't aware you told your dad about werewolves. Or that you were even thinking about it. You should have told me."
"Why?" Stiles asked, leaning forward against the cart as he lowered his voice. "Because you're the Alpha? Please, Derek, don't you think that line is getting a little overused? Especially since, at the moment, all you've got in your pack is two Betas, one of which can't be trusted to keep their bloodthirst in check."
"I'm taking care of Peter," Derek growled, his eyes flashing again.
Stiles raised an eyebrow, looking at Derek in amusement. "Who said anything about Peter? I was talking about Isaac."
"Isaac has control," Derek said, moving around the cart to come closer to Stiles.
Stiles watched the flexing claws warily, trying to keep his panic under wraps. It wouldn't do any good for Derek to be aware of the effect he had on Stiles, especially when he went all Alpha. He was just trying to come to terms with the inevitable end of his short life at the end of Derek's razor sharp claws when a voice called out.
"Stiles? Is that you?"
Spinning around, Stiles caught sight of Danny Mahealani at the other end of the aisle and sighed heavily as all the panic immediately drained out of him. Derek may have been a werewolf but Danny was the most bad ass person Stiles had ever met, excluding his dad. There was no way Derek would be able to do him any harm while Danny was around.
"Danny!" Stiles waved, smiling brightly. "I'm so glad to see you! Like, so glad. You will never know the level of ecstasy that I am feeling right now just from the sight of your lovely face."
Finally reaching Stiles, Danny gave him a slight grin before turning judgmental eyes on Derek. "Derek. Why don't you put the wolf away in public? We wouldn't want anyone to get hurt, would we? Especially not a small, defenseless puppy."
Growling lowly, Derek glared at Stiles one last time before turning to leave. As he walked away, the lingering tension slid away like it had never been there. Stiles rubbed his face roughly and turned back to Danny.
"You're a prince, Danny," he said honestly, his voice affectionate and grateful. "An absolute prince."
Danny swiveled his gaze from watching Derek's retreat to look at Stiles happily. "I don't like him. He's rude and has stupid hair."
Stiles laughed brightly. "Nobody likes him, but I'm trying. For reasons."
"Reasons being your supernaturally hot Alpha?" Danny asked slyly, loosening his stance now that Derek was completely out of sight. "I saw him in the city a few days ago. May I just say that he is looking fine?"
"Is he?" Stiles hummed, pushing his cart down the aisle. Maybe now he'd be able to finish his shopping and get back to the house before any other wayward werewolves decided to ambush him. "That's good. I haven't seen or heard from him lately, so it's good to know he's not dead."
A soft snort came at him from Danny. "I thought your magical soulmate bond would, like, sound an alarm or something if that happened."
"You're not funny," Stiles lied, ignoring his friend in favor of the large selection of peanut butter in front of him. "I liked you better when you didn't know anything."
"And I liked you better when you were too busy stalking Lydia to snatch up all the prime specimens of male," Danny sniped back, going through the other items Stiles had put into his cart before being surprise attacked by Derek. "But now we're friends and we're both disappointed."
"Are there refunds for friendships?" Stiles asked absently, finally caving and putting his favorite jar in the cart before moving on.
"God, I hope so," Danny answered as he followed. "Otherwise, I'd be stuck with you and I just discovered that you eat chunky peanut butter, you animal."
"You eat sugar," Stiles replied defensively. No one insulted his choice of peanut butter. Not even someone as perfectly wonderful as Danny. "With a spoon. Think about that before you decide to keep judging my culinary choices."
"It's like you're eating a perfectly good sandwich and then suddenly you're chewing on the bones of small children," Danny complained, picking up a box of Lucky Charms. He waited for Stiles's nod before dropping them in the cart and going on. "No one likes eating kiddie bones, Stiles. No one except Satan."
"No, you just like to rinse your digestive system with something that has the same texture as sand," Stiles said dryly, finally finding his way back to the front of the store so he could check out and leave. "Like an animal. Are you a chicken, Danny? Be honest."
Danny made a sad sound. "Chicken..."
"Oh, no," Stiles looked at him apologetically. "Is your mom still on that vegetarian kick?"
"She's thinking about going complete vegan," Danny cried out, his eyes wide and vulnerable. "Stiles, I will die. I haven't had bacon in a month. I don't even remember what it smells like."
"Well, I suppose since you did me a favor-"
"A favor? Try every favor ever," Danny interrupted.
Stiles glared at him for a moment before continuing. "Since you did me every favor ever, I suppose I can return the favor. Erica and Boyd are coming over for dinner. They've somehow gotten back here and want to see me. Why don't you come, too? I'll make some steaks."
"Steak?" Danny asked excitedly, staring at Stiles hopefully. "Really?"
"Sure," Stiles answered, giving the cashier lady his card. "My dad will thank you."
Danny dropped to his knees and grabbed Stiles's hands tightly. "Stiles My-First-Name-Is-More-Confidential-Than-Nuclear-Launch-Codes Stilinski, would you do me the great and pleasing honor of marrying me?"
A heavy flush bloomed over Stiles's cheeks and he tried futilely to tug his hands away. "Oh, my god. Get up you weirdo, you're causing a scene."
"Not until you agree to be my bride," Danny said stubbornly, ignoring the blatant stares they were getting. "And cook for me always."
"I'm not sure about the marriage thing. You'll have to talk to Peter about that," Stiles teased gleefully. "But if you let go in the next thirty seconds, I'll make cheesecake for dessert."
Danny let go immediately, dropping back on his heels and lifting his hands in surrender. "Done."
"Weirdo," Stiles repeated earnestly.
"I thought you said I can't eat steak," Stiles's dad said in confusion, as he watched Stiles put groceries away. Unsurprisingly, it was nearly all bland and boring. The only thing of interest to him was the steaks.
"You can tonight," Stiles answered, closing the fridge and turning to look at his dad. "We're having some important guests over."
"What kind of guests?" John asked suspiciously, crossing his arms. "The supernaturally inclined kind of guests?"
Stiles met his dad's eyes unflinchingly. "Yes and no."
"Peter? Derek?" John questioned. "Or just Scott?"
Snorting harshly, Stiles shook his head. "Scott is uninvited until I decide he's done being a manipulative asshole. I haven't even talked to Peter in weeks and Derek is the one who told me I was having guests."
John threw his hands in the air and turned toward the dining room. "I don't like it when you make me guess things."
"It's not guessing, it's investigating," Stiles replied, laughter in his voice. "But it's Erica and Boyd. Oh, and Danny."
"The two runaways and Danny Mahealani," John repeated, looking at Stiles sharply. "All the time you two have been spending together and you didn't think to tell me Danny was a werewolf."
"He's not and they're not runaways. Well, not really. They were leaving Derek's pack because he's a shit Alpha, but he says they're back now and might stay if they talk to me first," Stiles said as he shook his head. "I don't know what that's about."
"Well, if that's why we're having steak, why don't we have them over all the time?" John asked, his voice serious but his eyes playful.
Stiles snorted again. "Very funny, Dad. Why don't you go spazz over your one time only steak in the living room and leave me to cook in peace?"
"You're a tyrant," John shot over his shoulder as he went to do just that. "A tyrant, Stiles Stilinski! I don't know why I put up with you."
"Because filicide is illegal," Stiles shouted after him, moving to start on dinner. "And being the sheriff makes committing crimes a little difficult!"
"So you think!"
Right as Stiles finished setting the table, he heard the doorbell ring. Before he could call out to his dad, the door began to open.
"Stiles!" Danny called. "I'm here for the steak and I've brought puppies!"
Stiles turned to the doorway, catching sight of his dad who was shaking his head with an amused look on his face.
He shouted back to Danny. "Just bring them in here. Dinner's on the table!"
Heavy footsteps came closer and closer to the kitchen before Stiles finally caught sight of his guests. Danny had a bright grin stretching his mouth but one look at his eyes showed that he was worried. A quick glance at the two people behind him gave a good explanation why.
Erica seemed to have lost all the deadly confidence she had gotten with her transformation. She looked more like her old self; her hair was lank and dull, pulled back into a sloppy braid and her face carried the same tired paleness it had when she was still epileptic.
Boyd had changed more in the past two weeks than he had with becoming a werewolf. He looked smaller than Stiles had ever seen him, all quiet authority leeched away. Like Erica, he seemed to be shouldering a heavy burden and was giving out under its weight.
However, both of them had the same spark of hope in their eyes when they looked at Stiles.
"Hey, guys," he said, smiling at them gently and trying not to let on that his heart was breaking just from the sight of them. "Why don't we sit down and eat? You look like you could use a good meal."
Everyone settled in around the table, Stiles's dad sitting at the head while Stiles and Danny took one side and Erica and Boyd took the other. When everyone had a full plate and began eating, Stiles spoke up.
"Derek cornered me at the store earlier," he said lightly, watching as Erica and Boyd tensed. "He said you wouldn't stay without talking to me first?"
The two werewolves looked at each other for a long moment. A silent conversation went on between them, Boyd looking as tense as ever while Erica looked more and more pleading. Finally, after a few quiet minutes, Boyd sighed and turned to Stiles.
"Derek thinks we came back on our own," he said quietly, looking Stiles in the eye seriously. "We didn't. We didn't ever plan on coming back when we left. But things went bad. When we left, another pack of werewolves caught our scent. They were strange, bloodthirsty killers. We spent the past two weeks trying to keep away from them."
Erica put her hand over Boyd's and curled their fingers together. "We were two counties away deep in the woods when we caught a different scent. It didn't carry the same metallic smell of blood. Weird as it is, it kind of smelled like wolfsbane and some other familiar scent. We were confused at first. I mean, a werewolf that smelled like wolfsbane? That's weird."
Boyd took a deep breath and continued. "As it got closer, we realized that those two scents were just a top layer. Sort of how Danny's top layer is a mix of Armani and Hugo Boss. His aftershave is something he puts on, so it's not part of his natural scent."
"I don't wear Hugo Boss," Danny interrupted, his forehead crinkling in confusion.
A ghost of a smile fluttered across Erica's face. "No, but Jackson does. And you're around him so often that his natural scent becomes your top layer and vice versa."
"How do you know this?" Stiles asked, putting his fork down and resting his chin in his hands. It was all valid information that he had found in several books but it didn't seem like some instinct that Erica and Boyd had gotten through their turning. They had to have learned it somewhere. "I didn't think Derek's Werewolf 101 class was that comprehensive. I thought it just covered the uniform and having an awful attitude part."
Boyd snorted. "Derek's 'training' was intensive, but it mostly covered how not to get our asses handed to us in a fight."
Stiles tilted his head, frowning. "Derek loses fights all the time."
"Exactly," Erica said, a real smile coming up. "Just watch what he does and do the opposite. You'll win more that way."
A quiet laugh made it's way around the table before Boyd spoke again. "We learned it on the way back. Living in the wilderness is a sort of kick start for all sorts of werewolf powers."
Stiles nodded. "So this werewolf had a top note of a familiar scent and, what, you went looking for it?"
Erica shook her head. "He was looking for us. As he got closer to our hideaway, it started to smell a bit dark and wet. Kind of like the rain at night. It had a hint of something else though, like it had just changed recently for some reason."
"What was the last smell?" Stiles asked, getting an idea of where this was going.
"That's what's really strange," Boyd said, shaking his head. "The last smell wasn't there. It was like the smell itself was an absence of smell. It was really creepy. It reminded me of my grandma's funeral."
Stiles exhaled softly, tightening his muscles to keep from shaking. "Rain is often a symbol of rebirth or transformation. A sort of metamorphosis into something completely opposite from what you once were."
His dad looked at him sharply. "Like a person going through a drastic experience and coming out of it different from the person they were before?"
"Exactly like that," Stiles replied quietly, knowing his dad knew how the story would end now also. "And this werewolf found you?"
Erica nodded, reaching a hand up to brush a lock of hair that had fallen from her braid away from her face. "It was Peter Hale. He asked if he could talk to us and, after we said yes, he told us everything that Derek's been through since the fire. Including the part about having to kill him. He said that if we came back, he could teach us what we needed to know if we were in Derek's pack."
"We asked him why we should come back in the first place," Boyd continued, his voice serious and sad as he looked up at Stiles. "He said we should come back for you. That you would help us and protect us."
Erica's eyes started to glow Beta gold. "He said that you would build our pack into what it's supposed to be. A family."
Stiles's breath caught in his throat as he watched Boyd's eyes start to glow as well. He sat up and stared at them seriously.
"I will," he promised, watching their eyes flash. "I will build your pack into a family. I will protect it from harm and discord. I will advise it to the best of my ability. But it's not my pack. It will never be my pack."
Erica's nose crinkled. "Why not?"
"I have an Alpha," Stiles answered. "I've had him since before Derek even knew what being an Alpha meant. He is mine and I am his and my priority is his pack. It will always be his pack. But because of certain circumstances, I can work with Derek's pack until the time comes."
"Peter," Boyd stated, shocked. "Your Alpha is Peter. That second smell was medicine. That's why I got so confused. Why would a werewolf smell like wolfsbane and medicine? Two things that are either dangerous or useless to a werewolf."
"Unless that werewolf was spending a lot of time with someone who had that as a natural scent," Erica continued, her jaw dropping. "And who do we know that has medicine as a natural scent?"
Boyd stared at him, wide eyed. "Stiles. Who has taken adderall almost his entire life. Long enough for it to go deep."
Stiles stared back at them seriously, feeling a strange mixture of pride and apprehension. On the one hand, two of his favorite people were learning how to use their powers to the best of their ability. On the other hand, two of his favorite people were werewolves and had a scary array of powers. He waited for them to say something. When they did, it wasn't what he was expecting.
"How did you get Peter to become your Alpha?" Erica asked sharply.
"I submitted to him," Stiles answered, staring at her in confusion.
Danny snorted loudly. "Yeah, you did."
Stiles blushed heavily. "I submitted to him just like any new pack member submits to their Alpha. He was still Alpha when it happened and I'm a special sort that only submits to one Alpha in a lifetime so when he came back from the dead he was still my Alpha despite being a Beta."
"So he can't be an Alpha for anyone else yet?" Boyd asked, his stance tense and solemn. "How would he be able to become an Alpha again?"
Stiles stared at the two werewolves across from him in disbelief. "You can't be saying what I think you're saying."
"Peter taught us more in two days than Derek taught us in two months!" Erica exclaimed, her voice loud and sincere. "It's obvious that he would be a way better Alpha in the first place. Why did you guys have to kill him?"
Stiles gaped at her, ignoring Danny's near hysterical giggles and his father's matching look of incredulity. "He was killing people! To death! A lot of people!"
"Bad people!" Erica almost shrieked. "If he hadn't have died, he'd still be an Alpha and then I wouldn't feel like I was signing a death warrant instead of joining a pack!"
"You want Peter to be your Alpha instead of Derek?" Stiles asked, feeling light-headed.
"Yes!" the two werewolves answered loudly.
Their voices were so loud, they seemed to reverberate inside of Stiles's head. Their submission bounced around his brain continuously, getting louder and louder, repeating more and more often. It was all getting crowded inside Stiles's brain as he felt like he was stretching across the room and compressing himself into a tiny box all at once. As his vision started to go dark and his body started to slide, he had one last thought.
'Oh, look at that, Betas can still be Alphas of their own pack. Fantastic.'
A/N: So Danny comes up again in this chapter and he may seem a little OOC but I've always kind of seen him as just like Stiles, just more popular so that's how that happened. Hope you enjoyed it anyway!