Title: Alpha Peter
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Characters/Pairings: Pre Derek/Stiles
Genre: AU Hale Fire, Angst, Fix-it Kinda, Magic!Stiles
Author Notes: AU, Hale Fire Changes, Death happens
The last word Stiles said was “Mom.”
The first word Stiles said was “Fire.”
Peter hated it when his sister made him play chauffeur for her kids like he hadn’t earned his place as her left hand. It was demeaning and things like this were happening more and more in the last few years.
The monumental clusterfuck that had happened with Derek’s girlfriend was a file best left closed, although why she thought that it had been his fault he didn’t know. He’d simply told the kid that she should be brought in on the secret and offered the bite, not to go offering her to the nearest strange alpha.
He sighed, “Let it go, Peter, let it go.” If this kept up, he was going to take his friend’s offer and travel overseas, to visit some distant relatives. Get away from whatever Talia was up to with her displays of dominance lately. He’d miss his family here, some of them anyway.
Despite their distance this last year, he had always been fairly close with Derek and young Cora was a firecracker that seemed to have been born to challenge Talia at every turn. He’d gotten along with Laura until the last few years when she’d entered into what Talia had labeled Alpha lessons.
Which Peter found secretly hilarious since he had no memory of their parent’s giving Talia any special alpha lessons, and with their emissary nonetheless.
It was why he was off to pick Derek up from practice and the other from the station. Talia had some last-minute Alpha things to discuss with Laura before the full moon tonight.
Everyone would be gathered in the basement so they could take to the tunnels for ease of access to the woods to run when the moon was high and for a more subtle return than a bunch of half-naked Hales tromping through the front yard. There were already enough rumors about them in town.
Peter sighed, at twenty-eight he thought that maybe, just maybe he’d be closer to Talia at this point.
Derek was sitting at the curb bouncing his basketball with his usually grumpy expression, Peter made a mental note to pull him aside and talk to him after the rest of their visiting family left. Talia had told him to leave the boy alone, but the last few months had been worrying. Derek had flitted between flights of happiness and misery so fast it made Peter’s head spin and his senses ache.
He’d scented the floral perfume of a girl on him more than once and made it point to let the kid know that he should try to let his girlfriend know that she didn’t need to bathe in the stuff. Derek had gotten a bit upset with him about that, but Peter just shrugged, teenagers.
“Get in, loser,” He called out through the window.
“If you tell me we’re going shopping I’m staying right here,” Peter swore he saw a little thundercloud take root over Derek’s fluffy little head.
“Ha, you’re hilarious, no,” Peter jerked a thumb toward the trunk, “Put your stuff in there, we have to pick up Nic and Landon at the bus station before we head home. Luckily we’ve all got enough control that being out isn’t a worry.”
“I thought they were driving up from Berkley together?” Derek stowed his gear and took the passenger seat.
“They were until they managed to somehow blow two tires on the way here.” Peter said with a smirk, “Now we are picking them up from the bus station and their car is at a repair shop waiting for the return trip.”
“I guess it explains why mom has you picking me up instead of Laura then,” Derek said staring out his window.
“What is that supposed to mean?” Peter feigned insult, “It’s an honor to be in my presence.”
“I’m sure,” but there was a small smile flirting with the corner of his mouth, “no really, we’ve all noticed. If it’s just going to be simple and quick errands mom will send Laura, make it look like she’s doing something I guess. Anything more elaborate than ‘pick Derek up from practice’ or ‘Grab a gallon of milk while you’re out’ and that’s you, Uncle Peter.”
“You are a lot more observant than I thought little bunny.” Peter grinned when he got a glare in response.
“Shut up,” He grumbled, going back to stare out the window, the perfect image of an affronted teenager.
“I didn’t say it was a bad thing,” Peter said, reaching over and adding insult to injury, he ruffled Derek’s hair, pulling his hand back before the kid could smack him. “I don’t know what is going on, but I plan to talk with your mother after the moon.”
“She knows I’m sorry about Paige, right?” Derek asked suddenly, as Peter navigated the car through town towards the bus station.
“She does Derek,” Peter said, “We all know that and you heard your mother then, you’re not to blame or not completely. Maybe you should have come to one of us about it, but I definitely should have been clearer about what I meant instead of teasing you the way I did.”
“I don’t want to talk about it anymore,” Derek’s shoulders hunched up towards his ears, his eyes flashed blue for a second in the reflection of the window and he flinched back.
“Then we won’t,” Peter felt his hands tighten on the steering wheel before he forced himself to relax. “When and if you do want to talk about it, there are plenty of us around who would be willing to listen if you don’t want to talk with your mother.”
They drove in silence for a few minutes before Peter heard Derek sigh and saw his shoulders slump out of the corner of his eye. “Thanks, Uncle Peter, things are better now.”
“Yes, your new secret girlfriend.” Peter teased, “I don’t know why you think nobody knows about her, her perfume hangs around you like a cloud whenever you’ve seen her.”
“She isn’t my girlfriend,” Derek mumbled, “She’s just really nice and we talk sometimes. She understands things is all.”
“Uh-huh,” Peter felt the first niggling of worry take root in the pit of his stomach. “You know her from school then?”
“Yeah,” Derek shrugged, still looking out the window. “She was working at the rental store in town for a bit, she’s working down at the library now. I usually see her there.”
“An older woman, you Casanova,” Peter said with a chuckle, carefully controlling the dread that was chilling his blood, he kept his chemo signals level by training alone.”Tell me about her, I imagine she is why you’re at the library so much lately.”
“Kinda,” Derek said, glancing at Peter as if he were checking to make sure that Peter wasn’t going to make fun of him. “She helped me when I was researching my history paper a couple months ago. I don’t know, she’s just nice and she helps when I need to find something for school and she lets me talk about anything.”
“Well,” Peter’s suave tongue deserted him for once as he searched for something to say. “You know that you can come talk to me anytime you need Derek.”
“I know,” Derek mumbled, back to frowning at his reflection in the window. “But it’s kinda nice to have someone who isn’t family ya know?”
“Yes, I know,” Peter left it at that, though he was determined to check out this woman who was spending so much time with his nephew unsupervised. He pulled the car into the parking lot of the bus station, turning it off he got out and headed towards the terminal. He didn’t scent Nic or Landon, so he assumed the bus hadn’t come in yet.
“They aren’t here yet?” Derek sounded a little disgruntled from beside him as he looked around.
“You know how the bus is,” Peter sighed, shoving his hands into his pockets. The air was cool, but it wasn’t cold out. He decided he’d wait outside for the bus, they’d have a better chance of getting out of there quickly if he did.
“Yeah,” Derek agreed, following Peter out. They both leaned against the car while they waited. “Peter, how do you put up with mom and Laura all the time?”
Surprised at the question, after having the conversation in the car he thought they were done with the subject for now.
“Your mom is my alpha,” Peter said with a shrug. “I don’t necessarily like the way she behaves, especially in the last year or so, but she is my alpha. As for your sister, well,” He smiled at the boy. “I ignore Laura as much as possible right now, I’ll probably pay for that when she ascends if I’m still around, but I changed her diapers. It’s a little hard to take her posturing seriously after that.”
Derek was still chuckling at that when they heard the bus coming down the road. They both stood up from the car and headed to the side of the building where the bus would offload.
“Derry!” The name echoed around the bus terminal and sent Derek from a chuckling teen to a glowering sulking one. “Come give your big brother a hug.”
“No,” Derek scowled, his eyebrows furrowing as he refused to look at Nic.
“Come on baby brother, I’ve been gone for months. Haven’t you missed me at all?” Nic came over to them, his duffle slung over his shoulder. He was the same height as Peter, but as skinny as a blade of grass. Everything about him was long and thin.
His dark hair had grown long while he was away and would drive his mother insane, was Peter’s first thought after he got over laughing at his greeting.
“Hey Uncle Pete,” Nic greeted him, green eyes full of mirth at the disgruntled look that Peter could feel flash across his face.
“Hello Little Nicky,” Peter responded dryly, reaching out to take his nephew’s bag. He looked at the blond young man following him. “Hello Landon, I don’t know how you survived your trip up without smothering your cousin. Congratulations on making it through.”
Landon threw his head back and laughed, for such a handsome young man he had a laugh that reminded Peter of a chortling donkey. From what he’d heard though, it hadn’t hampered Landon’s ability to attract anyone to his bed. He was taller than the Hales, and he was built more like a football player than the swimmer’s builds that seemed to be the thing for Talia’s children.
“Are we ready to go?” Derek said, scowling at the lot of them.
“Yes Derek, we’re ready to go,” Peter said, smiling at the boy and fighting back a chuckle when Derek hurried to the car to get into the front seat again, so he wouldn’t be stuck next to Nic or Landon all the way home.
“How’re things, Uncle Peter?” Nic asked following Peter at a more leisurely pace, Landon fell in silently on Peter’s other side.
“About the same as they’ve been,” Peter said, not trying to hide the issue from the young men. “Your mother isn’t one to change in a few months kid.”
“Kid,” Nic laughed at Peter. “I’m not that much younger than you.”
“A decade is a decade baby wolf,” Peter smirked at the snort of laughter that got from Landon, who was a few years older than Nic.
“Come on,” Derek called from the car, obviously impatient to get home now.
“Coming your majesty,” Nic said as they got to the car. He and Landon threw their bags into the trunk before getting into the back seat, both complaining about the lack of legroom to rile Derek up.
“You’re not that much taller than me, so just shut up,” Derek snapped with another of his famous scowls.
“Baby cuz has his bite back,” Landon murmured from behind Peter, his voice too low to be heard over Derek and Nic’s sniping at each other.
“Some of it, we’ll need to talk after I drop you off,” Peter murmured right back. Nic was human and he had a touch of magic that he was training up, but Landon was a wolf and Peter’s successor at the moment.
“Yeah?” Landon’s voice was barely a whisper.
“Yes,” Peter replied before turning to the siblings who had taken their verbal sniping into a slap fight. “Really you two, I thought that the both of you were out of elementary school.”
“He started it,” They both said at the same time, Derek’s eyes flickered blue for a minute and then he hid his head.
“Don’t do that!” Landon said smacking Nic on the back of the head lightly. He reached an arm over the seat and tilted Derek’s head up. “You have nothing to be ashamed of with your eyes Derek.” Landon flashed his own blue eyes back at him. “Sometimes the best thing you can do is offer someone death. Peter nor I wanted you to ever have that burden, but how you came by your eyes is nothing to be ashamed of.”
“I like green better,” Nic said, pooling his magic until his eyes glowed bright green for a minute, “but blue isn’t so bad.” He smiled and ruffled Derek’s hair.
“Stop it,” Derek muttered, but the acrid scent of shame that had flooded the car began to dissipate.
“Now that we’re all filled with these fluffy bunny feelings,” Peter drawled, “We should be home in about ten minutes, do I need to stop by the store before we are in for the night?”
“You are such an ass Uncle,” Nic laughed, leaning back in his seat. “And no, I don’t need anything that can’t be picked up tomorrow during the day while you all recover from your full moon hangovers.”
“Stop calling it that,” Landon said, flicking Nic in the ear. “It’s exhausting dealing with the pull of the moon and helping the others to stay in control at the same time.”
“Wah wah wah,” Nic snarked back at him with a fond smile on his face. “It’s the same every month. ‘I’m a werewolf, hear me roar’ on the full moon, and then it’s ‘oh I’m so tired and life is hard because I’m a werewolf’ never happy are you?”
Peter content that nobody needed him to stop, turned the car towards the preserve and the house. He listened to the three of them snark back and forth, enjoying the atmosphere brought on by some of his favorite pack members.
“Derek you need…”
Peter’s mind blanked. The searing pain of pack bonds shattering ripped through him. Vaguely he heard Derek and Landon howling next to him.
He came aware slowly. The car was stopped at an angle on the side of the road. Nic was puking out the door.
“What happened?” Landon asked his eyes wide, he was shivering in what could only be shock.
Derek’s eyes were open. He stared out the windshield. He didn’t move, was barely breathing.
“We need to get to the house,” Peter ground out around the pain and shock. “Nic get in the car. We have to go.”
Landon reached over and jerked Nic back into the car. Peter was driving before the door was shut. He didn’t pay attention to the speed. They saw it before they turned into the drive.
Smoke billowed out. The wolves heard the screams of those trapped inside. Peter spun the car into the drive. He barely remembered to put it in park before he was out the door.
“Mom, Dad,” Derek and Landon were right beside him, Nic not far behind.
The wolves all came to a halt as they hit a barrier.
“Mountain Ash,” Landon hissed.
Peter growled and tried to push past it. No one saw the small figure come out of the woods. Peter felt a tug at his sleeve. He looked down and saw a young boy. He was gangly and hollowed eyed. He looked at Peter and at the house.
“Fire,” He said, walking forward towards the house. He was obviously ignoring the fact that they were halfway to beta form. He leaned down and looked at the line of ash. He looked back at them.
“I can’t break the line, they’ve added something to the ash,” Nic cried out, panic flooding his scent.
The boy reached out with a sneakered foot and scuffed out the ash line. He looked back up at Derek this time. He tugged at his arm and pointed.
“Fire,” His voice had that croaky quality of someone who hadn’t spoken in a long time. He headed towards the fire.
“Come on!” Peter yelled and rushed towards the front door. Flames licked out the shattered windows. He got three steps before he crashed to his knees. Power swept over him. It swept through him. He felt the change of status and fought for control.
He felt raw and ruined by the loss of the pack bonds. The alpha power rushed over him leaving him feeling abraded. He pulsed with power and pain.
He felt Landon and Derek go down next to him. Nic cried out for them. Then he ran past them towards the door.
Nic kicked at the door. Peter staggered to his feet to follow. He was stopped by the boy.
“I need to get in there and help,” He snarled at him.
The boy shook his head. He pointed to the side of the house. Peter tilted his head listening. He heard the whines of a pup in distress. Staring at the boy for a minute, he took off at a run towards the sounds.
When he rounded the house he saw little Cora curled up near the basement window.
“Cora,” Peter had her in his arms before he processed the movement. “Oh little pup, I’m here.”
He came back around the house. That boy was still there. He was trying to get Landon up on his feet. He looked at Peter and pointed at the woods this time. Peter stopped.
The scent of gunsmoke was in the air. The sound of the sirens were coming closer. Peter set Cora down. He positioned himself in front of the boy and Cora.
“Landon,” He called a thread of alpha power in his voice. “We have company.”
Landon was on his feet, dragging Derek up when three figures in dark clothing came out of the woods.
“Oh this is precious,” The woman’s voice was husky and cruel.
Derek whimpered, his head snapping up, “What… Katie?”
“Oh puppy, you are too pathetic,” She laughed, cold and cruel, “It’s Kate, Kate Argent.”
“Why did you do this?” Peter snarled, “We haven’t broken any of your silly codes.”
“I don’t need a reason to put down animals like you,” She hissed at them, raising her gun. “It’s a shame we missed a few of you, but we can take care of that now.”
“But, I don’t understand,” Derek’s voice was so bewildered and heartbroken that Peter wanted to rend the Argent woman apart one joint at a time.
“Oh honey,” Kate said in a syrupy drawl. “What is there to understand? It’s a shame I didn’t have more time though, I bet you’d be an animal to ride.”
“Don’t be disgusting Kate,” the man to her left snarled at her. “Not everyone wants to hear about your perversions.”
“Oh shut up Ben,” Kate shot back. “You’d have fucked the older girl given half a chance. Look at the boy, I bet he fucks like a machine.”
Peter growled, it came deep from his chest. It reverberated throughout the clearing around the still-burning house that had become the pyre of their pack. He felt a tugging at his hand and looked down to see the boy there looking up at him, with his buzzed hair and wide eyes, his mouth pinched.
“We need to finish this before the authorities get here,” The unnamed man said, glance toward the road where the sound of sirens came ever closer. “We never got an in with them here.”
“We’ll take care of that later, don’t you worry,” Kate said with a smile slashed across her face. She raised her gun taking aim.
A shot went off.
The unnamed hunter fell back with a shout of surprise.
It took Peter a minute to realize what he was seeing.
The boy was holding a gun in a two-handed grip now that he’d let go of Peter, the barrel pointed at the hunters. He glanced up at Peter and his eyes were solemn before going back to staring at the hunters.
“He shot him,” Ben shouted, he went to open fire but was too late. Landon was already on him tearing his throat out before he could make another sound. Peter approved, while they deserved a long drawn out death, it wouldn’t do to get caught or allow them to do any more damage to their vastly diminished pack.
“Fuck,” Kate wasn’t looking so smug now. “You can’t hurt me, my father and the council will come down on you if you do.”
“I think we’ll risk it,” Nic said while bringing a large chunk of wood down on her head. She crumpled to the ground and he kicked the gun away from her.
“Get him out of here Landon, we won’t be able to explain an animal attack right now,” Peter said. “Get back before we have to come up with a reason for your absence though.” Peter rubbed a hand over the center of his chest. He knew the ache from the loss of his pack bonds was psychic and not actually physical, but it was agonizing all the same.
He turned to the boy who was still holding the gun that he’d acquired seemingly out of thin air.
“You,” He pointed at the boy, who just blinked up at him before turning back to watching Kate’s still form and keeping the gun trained on her. “Well I can’t blame you for your diligence I suppose.”
“Uncle Peter,” Derek interrupted his conversation with the boy. “I don’t know what happened, but she…she was the girl from the library.” He sucked in a shuddering breath. “This is all my fault Uncle Peter, I told her everyone was home. I told her that’s why I couldn’t come to her house this weekend. Uncle Peter.” Derek said his name on something near a wail.
Peter suddenly had an arm full of a nearly grown teen werewolf, “Derek, I don’t know the whole story, but I am positive of one thing. This is not your fault in any way shape or form.”
“But, I told her Uncle Peter, I told her,” Derek sobbed.
“Did you tell her our secrets little wolf?” Peter asked softly, cupping Derek’s head and bringing him in to give him his new alpha’s scent to try and calm the boy before the authorities arrived.
“No, no I didn’t tell her about that. I told her about the family being here though and the party. I told her that we’d all be here all weekend.” Derek said, his voice quiet towards the end.
“She’s a hunter Derek,” Peter said softly. “You didn’t do anything wrong. We are going to have some very hard days ahead little wolf. I need you to try and be strong for me. Can you do that for the next little bit while the human authorities are here?”
“Yes Uncle Peter, I can do that,” Derek said, stepping back. He paused, “Uncle Peter?”
“Yes, Derek,” Peter replied.
“Who is the little kid? And why does he have a gun?” Derek’s head tilted as he looked at the boy standing next to them.
“Honestly Derek?” Peter said. “I have no idea, he got here when we did.”
“Is he some kind of creature?” Landon asked coming up beside them, his disposal task obviously taken care of. Right on time too as the first of the emergency vehicles were pulling into the drive as they spoke.
“I’ll take that,” Nic came up to the boy and plucked the gun right out of his hands. “It wouldn’t look very good if we let an infant hold a gun on the culprit now, would it. Derek, pick up Cora. She hasn’t moved since Kate showed up.”
Cora whimpered when they turned to where she was still hiding behind Peter for the most part. Derek picked her up, scenting her and allowing her to scent him back.
They all turned to stare at the house as it continued to burn. Emergency workers made their way over to them and they began the work of telling their tale.
Firefighters fought to put the fire out, those that braved entry told them what they already knew. There were no survivors that they could locate.
Cops came to take their statements once it was made aware that they had two individuals believed to be responsible for the fire on the property, once unconscious and another shot. Peter was a little surprised to find that the boy hadn’t killed him and told the boy so, he got a glare for the comment.
“Stiles!” A man in a deputy’s uniform came running over, scooping the boy up into his arms. “What in god’s name are you doing here.”
The boy, Stiles, shrugged. Pointed at the house. “Fire.”
“Oh,” The deputy set Stiles down gently. “You spoke. Can you tell me anything else son?”
Stiles pointed at Kate, who another deputy was securing with cuffs even while an EMT was assessing her. “Fire.” He looked like he wanted to say something else, then he just closed his eyes like he was in pain and let out a whoosh of breath.
“Okay, son, okay.” The deputy brushed a hand over the boy’s head and pulled him in for a hug. “It’s okay, one word at a time is fine.”
“Your son shot one of the perps Deputy Stilinski,” The deputy that had been interviewing Peter said coming up to the two of them. “I don’t want to ask, but you don’t have a backup weapon that isn’t registered with the department, do you?”
“No, of course not,” Stilinski said with a frown. He turned to look at Stiles. “Son, did you get a gun from someplace?”
Stiles pointed at Kate again, tilted his hand back and forth while rolling his eyes.
“What does that mean?” The other deputy asked, looking at Stilinski.
“I have no idea,” Stilinski replied. “Stiles, we really need to know where you got the gun you shot that man with.”
Stiles just blew out a breath and jabbed a finger at Kate again.
“I do believe he’s trying to tell you that he stole the gun from Kate Argent and her associates,” Peter interjected watching in fascination as Stiles grew more frustrated with his father and the deputy, but still didn’t speak.
Deputy Stilinski glanced at Peter and then turned back to his son, “Is Mr. Hale correct Stiles, did you steal a gun from Kate Argent?”
Stiles nodded, jutted his chin up, and pointed at the house. “Fire!”
“I for one am grateful for your assistance in protecting my family this evening Stiles,” Peter said, kneeling down in front of the boy. He ignored the hissed disapproval from the other two men.
Stiles gave a sad sigh and shook his head, waving a limp hand at the house that was no longer a blazing fire, but a smoking ruin.
“I know,” Peter nodded, understanding what the boy was trying to express. “I wish we could have gotten here earlier too.” He took the boy by the shoulders until he met his eyes. “I want you to understand something though, okay.”
Stiles stared at him and gave a short nod.
“This isn’t your fault. The deaths in that house, those that couldn’t be saved. None of that is your fault.” Peter tightened his grip when he felt Stiles try to pull away. “No, it isn’t your fault. You saved us, Stiles. You saved us. Thank you.” Stiles shook his head.
“Thank you for saving us.” Peter saw Stiles take each word as if it was a physical blow. Tears began to fall down the boy’s face. “I will never forget what you’ve done for us. You will always be an honorary Hale from here on out.” That was the closest he could get to calling the boy pack in front of his father and the other deputy.
“I don’t know if you should be grateful that an eleven-year-old boy had to shoot someone for you.” Deputy Stilinski said bitterly from behind him as Peter got to his feet.
“I would wish that Stiles had not had to make that decision,” Peter said smoothly, turning around to face the man. “But I can not be anything but grateful that he did shoot the man before that man could shoot my eight-year-old niece or your eleven-year-old son. I won’t be sorry about that, deputy. I didn’t put the gun in your son’s hand, given the option, I wouldn’t have. I will however be grateful that he did have it and knew when and how to use it.”
“Uncle Peter,” Landon came up, his eyes red-rimmed, which spoke more to the wolfsbane that was threading through the smoke than to the tears he was trying to hold back.
“Landon?” Peter asked his hand going out immediately to grasp his arm. “What happened?”
“Mom and dad,” Landon’s voice choked off.
“They weren’t supposed to be here until tomorrow,” Peter said a frown on his face even as he searched through his shredded pack bonds to find the very few that were still intact.
Cole and Lottie weren’t really part of the Hale pack, Cole being his mom’s brother. Cole had been another surprise birth, like Peter and he’d been closer in age to Talia than to their mother. Landon had been Cole and Lottie’s only son and he’d been coming to the Hale pack as Peter’s successor, which had brought Cole and Lottie to these occasional full pack gatherings a few times a year.
“I guess they got in early,” Landon looked towards the house.
“Fuck,” Peter whispered.
“How do you know they’re in the house?” The still-unnamed deputy asked.
“Their car,” Landon pointed to the white car parked in front of the house.
“Fuck,” Peter said again. He felt a small hand slip into his and looked down into the solemn face of little Stiles Stilinski.
“Stiles, come on,” Deputy Stilinski came forward and took Stiles away. “Let’s leave the Hales alone. They have enough to deal with right now and we need to go home.”
Peter fought not to snarl at the deputy. He realized that Stiles was, in fact, truly pack and he’d have to do something about that sooner rather than later. He watched the Stilinski’s leave, the boy watching him over his father’s shoulder with too old eyes.
The other deputy moved away when another of their number came up to ask a question, so Peter ignored them and turned to wrap an arm around Landon bringing him in close.
“You aren’t alone Landon. Do we know who else was in the house?” Peter asked. “My bonds are a mess, I’ll need to meditate on them before I can make sense of them. If we have an idea of who was in there it could help.”
“We know that Talia and Laura were in there,” Landon said. He looked at Peter with raised brows and Peter nodded in acknowledgment. He agreed, he wouldn’t have inherited the alpha spark if either one of them had survived.
“I have to think that Rick was in there as well,” Landon said, speaking of Talia’s husband. “He was never far from Talia when she was home.” He added.
“Aunt Shannon and Uncle Charlie were there with the baby and young Julian,” Peter felt pain lance through him again, he knew those bonds had been severed, no, not severed, ripped out instead leaving wounds still raw and bleeding.
“Nine dead,” Nic said from behind them. “If we hadn’t blown out that tire it would have been all of us.”
“If you’d been here…” Derek asked coming into the conversation, his whole attitude subdued.
“No,” Nic said. “There was something in the ash and in the smoke. I can feel it now, my ability to touch my magic is muted right now. It’s almost as if I’m a baseline human at the moment.”
“I didn’t tell her anything about your magic Nic, I swear,” Derek’s head shot up and his eyes were wide.
“I know you did Berry,” Nic said with a shadow of a smile. “Not to put a pin in your ego little brother, but I think you were probably meant to be a distraction if anyone started paying attention to the wrong thing, or the right thing as the case may be.”
“But we didn’t see anything,” Peter said, a growl in his voice. “We remain completely blind to everything. I don’t know how that is possible.”
“We’ll find out Uncle Peter,” Nic said. “We aren’t blind now.”
“Definitely not,” Landon agreed.
“I can see a lot Uncle Peter,” Cora said from where she lay curled against Derek’s chest. “My chest hurts though.”
“Oh sweet girl,” Peter said. He reached over and took the little girl from Derek and cuddled her into his arms, scenting her as thoroughly as he could in a public setting. “We’re here and we’re not going anywhere.” He turned to look over what was left of their home.
“I’ll go see if we can leave Uncle Peter,” Nic said. “They’re probably going to want to know where we are going to be at though.”
“I have an apartment in town,” Peter said absentmindedly. “It’s a three-bedroom, although there is only one bed right now since I converted the other rooms, we can make do.”
“That’ll work,” Nic said. “We can pick up some air mattresses or something tonight and figure out the rest tomorrow.”
Peter gave him the address and watched him walk over to the man he suspected was in charge of the scene. He turned to look around and saw that Kate was awake and in the back of a police cruiser glaring hatefully at them.
“Any idea what’s going on with that?” He murmured to Landon, nodding towards the cruiser.
“She tried to claim we attacked her, but when they started asking questions it came out that she has sort of a hate on for us Hales and was trying to take us all out during our family get together,” Landon said carefully. He seemed to be aware that they were being listened to by the deputies lingering in their area.
“Huh,” Peter said, just as aware of their audience as Landon seemed to be. “The Argents have always been difficult to deal with for our family. I never knew why, it went back pretty far if I remember my grandmother’s stories. It was a little too Montague and Capulet for me when I was younger, as I got older I didn’t think much of it. Maybe I should have.” He looked at the smoldering ruins that now housed the remains of the majority of his family.
“I’m sure they’ll figure it out Peter,” Landon said. Peter knew that he meant that they would figure it out and rain their own version of justice down on the guilty parties.
“I’m sure the truth will come out,” Peter turned towards Landon and raised an eyebrow at him. “You aren’t a Hale though.”
“I’m a Calhoun, apparently that’s close enough for them.” Landon shrugged.
“Hale or not, you’re family,” Nic said coming back. “We’re ready to go. They said we can take your car, we’ll need to go down to the station and give full statements tomorrow but we can go now.”
“Good,” Peter said, “Cora has already passed out.” He headed to where they’d left the car parked haphazardly.
Emergency vehicles were all around it, luckily it hadn’t been in the way of any of the fire engines. Someone had turned the engine off at some point, Peter looked at the older two boys.
“Any idea where the keys are?”
“I’ve got them,” Derek said, he pulled them from his pocket and handed them to Landon when he reached for them. “I turned off the car when you sent me away after the police got here.”
“I’ll drive,” Landon said. “I think the pup is going to need to stay close to you for a little while right now.”
Peter nodded and let Nic open the back door for him, he climbed in and settled himself against the opposite door. Derek practically dove in the door after him, attaching himself to his side. With Cora settled heavy on his chest, Derek crushed upon his side and the scents of Nic and Landon heavy in the air of the car the pain of shredded bonds were eased just a bit.
He felt the fledgling bond growing from the Stilinski boy, but when he followed it down he didn’t find the boy attached to anyone else, not even his father. It was something he made a note to look into later on.
“We should stop by the local strip mall and pick up what we need for the night and tomorrow morning. I doubt we’re going to want to do too much socializing once this gets out,” Nic said leaning his head back on the seat in front of Peter, his voice tired. He sounded much older than his 22 years.
“Do you and Landon want to take care of that?” Peter asked. “I can try and extract myself from Cora and Derek if you want to take over here instead.”
“I think Landon and I should stay with the kids, you’ll be footing the bill,” Nic said, turning a tired smile on Peter. “You should still have the pack card on you right?”
“Yes,” Peter acknowledged. “And yes it’s in my name so the two of you wouldn’t be able to use it.”
“Yeah,” Landon threw a weaker version of his smirk into the rearview mirror at Peter. “We’ll stay with the kiddos and send you out to shop for essentials.”
“I shall endeavor to hunt well for our pack,” Peter said with a smile, he heard Derek chuff a laugh at his side and felt accomplished.
Landon pulled up to the small strip mall nearest to Peter’s apartment. He parked and Nic came around the car to help Derek move Cora off of Peter.
“Can I come with you Uncle Peter,” Derek said. “Only, you might need help carrying stuff back to the car. Also, you shouldn’t be alone.” He finished with his jaw firm just like it did when he’d made up his mind about anything and wouldn’t be moved by anything less than an act of god.
“Of course Derek,” He shared a look with Nic, “and you are correct, we shouldn’t be moving around alone right now. That is very good thinking. We’ll leave Nic and Landon with Cora. You can help me keep watch while we get the essentials here.”
“Don’t take too long,” Landon said, he hadn’t moved from the driver’s seat or done more than turn the car off and put it in park. “I want to get undercover. My wolf is on edge.”
“We all are Landon,” Peter walked over and reached through the open window to grip Landon’s neck. “We’ll reconnect once we get to the apartment. It won’t be a perfect fix, but it should help.”
Peter felt Landon relax under his hand.
“Yeah Peter, that would help,” Landon agreed. “Washing this smoke and ash off will help even more.”
“We need to get this trip over with, wash up, and get some rest,” Nic said from where he was cuddling Cora in the back seat. “We’ll figure out the rest later.”
“Alright, let’s go,” Peter drew his hand back and turned to gather Derek up. “Landon keep watch. Protect the pack.”
“Yes Alpha,” Both Landon and Nic replied automatically.
It startled Peter and at the same time, it settled his wolf. He nodded at them and with a hand on Derek’s shoulder they headed towards the shops.
“I know you hate them Uncle Peter, but I kind of wish we had a supercenter of some sort right now,” Derek said. “It would make tonight’s trip easier and much quicker.”
Peter heard the unsaid ‘safer’ at the end of Derek’s sentence and wondered how long it would be until any of their greatly reduced pack felt safe again.
“You might be right Derek,” Peter said, giving the boy’s shoulder a squeeze. They headed towards the sporting goods store. If Peter was remembering correctly, they had camping gear. Hopefully, they would have something for them to sleep on tonight. He’d be able to arrange for beds tomorrow he was sure, but tonight they would need more than his hardwood floors.
They found air mattresses in the camping section, Peter bought four and they carried them out to the car, putting them into the trunk.
They headed to the next store, clothing. Landon and Nic had their bags in his trunk and Peter had clothes at his apartment, but Derek and Cora only had what they were wearing on their backs. Peter gathered clothing that looked like it would fit Cora by the armful. He remembered to grab underclothes at the last minute and had to allow a minute for the panic and grief about the fact that his niece was now the only female member of his pack to rush over him before he pulled himself back together.
“Get yourself a few changes of clothing Derek,” Peter told his nephew. “From the skin out. I don’t think much will have survived the fire and if it did, I don’t know when we’ll have a chance to get to it.”
“Yes, Uncle Peter,” Derek turned away to begin looking for clothing.
Peter noticed that Derek’s hands were shaking. He tossed the clothing he’d gather for Cora into the cart and set his hand on the back of Derek’s neck.
“We’re almost done pup,” He murmured so that Derek was the only one that could hear him. “We’ll send for take-out tonight, but we’ll need to gather some groceries after this, and then we’ll be done.”
“Okay,” Derek nodded. He picked out some clothes, throwing them in the cart with what Peter had picked out for Cora.
When they reached the register Peter saw what had to be the grumpiest looking stuffed bear wearing a wolf costume. Peter tilted his head at it and realized it was also wearing a bright rainbow-colored bow.
He tossed it on the counter and ignored the small smile that he received from Derek for it.
“She’ll like it,” Derek whispered as they carried the bags out to the car and added them to the trunk.
“Hmm,” Was all that he said to that.
“Groceries?” Derek asked pointing to the other side of the parking lot where the grocery store sat facing the strip mall. It shared a parking lot, while still not being a part of the mall itself.
“Yes,” Peter nodded towards the car,” He opened the door and ushered Derek into the back seat before taking the empty spot in front. “Landon is going to drive us that direction though. I refuse to cart groceries across the parking lot if I don’t have to.”
Landon rolled his head from where it had been resting on the back of the seat. “At your service Alpha,” He said with a snappy salute. He started up the car and they were across the lot and parked again in less than five minutes.
“We’ll be back shortly,” Peter looked over the seat at Nic and Cora. She was still asleep or at least doing a good job pretending to sleep. “If anyone has any requests for the immediate future get them in now.”
“I don’t know what you have in your apartment,” Nic said. “I had Landon write up a list while you were in the stores though.”
Landon handed over an envelope that had been repurposed to make a grocery list. Peter glanced down at it, when he saw the length of the list he looked back at Nic with a raised brow.
“You’re going to have all of us and our youthful appetites in your apartment,” Nic said in response. “That doesn’t even account for the wolf metabolism side of things. Cora is going to eat a good portion of that on her own. Derek will plow through the rest. Landon and I are pretty good at taking care of ourselves, but those two need to be able to get at the quick and easy protein and carb foods at their ages.”
Peter sighed, “Thanks Nic, I wouldn’t have thought about that until they came to me hungry later tonight.”
“No problem Uncle Peter, part of what I was learning from Mage Moira in my magic and pack classes,” Nic said tiredly, referring to the lessons he’s been taking to learn how to use his abilities to help the pack later on. That is until Deaton had told Talia that they weren’t good for him.
“We’ll talk about that later,” Peter told him. “You still want to come in with me Derek?”
“Yes Uncle Peter,” Derek said, already getting out of the car before Peter had finished the sentence.
“Okay, Nic gave us this list,” Peter handed it over to Derek. “If there is anything that you want that isn’t on this list just let me know. If there is anything that you think Cora will want that isn’t on the list, let me know. I want to get this done quickly, but I want to make sure we get it done correctly.”
“Yes Uncle Peter,” Derek said looking at the list. “Uncle Peter?”
“Yes, Derek?” Peter grabbed a buggy and headed into the store.
“How much space do you have in your fridge and freezer?”
“I think I have a tray of ice cubes in the freezer right now and some eggs in the fridge.” Peter smiled at Derek’s look. “I knew that I would be spending most of this week and the last few at the big house, so I cleaned everything out and haven’t stocked back up yet.”
“So we’re going to need everything then?” Derek said, tapping the list with a finger.
“Yes Derek,” Peter said with a quick smile at the serious expression on the boy’s face. “We don’t need to get everything now, just enough to get through the next few days. I can order groceries delivered tomorrow if needed.”
“Okay.” Derek agreed and they began to shop.
Derek led the charge and Peter pushed the buggy behind his nephew somewhat bemused. It wasn’t that he didn’t know how to shop. He did it for himself and he’d shopped for the pack often enough, but Derek took it to a whole new level.
Even with so little time to prepare and a haphazard list, Derek attacked it like it was a military campaign, and the success or failure of it depended on the best apples or the right crackers. He made Peter get his phone out and sign up for the store’s frequent shoppers program so they could get discounts when they checked out.
Peter was a little dazzled by the time they were pushing the cart out the door.
“Look at this Uncle Peter,” Derek said waving the receipt at him. “We saved twenty-seven percent of our order with all these discounts, I bet we could save more if we downloaded some of their online coupons next time.”
“I had no idea that you liked shopping this much Derek,” Peter was careful to keep his tone mild, but he saw that Derek still flinched. “There isn’t anything wrong with it Derek. I was just unaware that you were this good at it. I admit that I don’t pay as much attention to where I could be saving as I should. This will be very helpful in the future.”
“Yeah?” Derek’s voice was soft, almost shy. “Mom said I didn’t need to worry about it so much, but if you can save this much money why wouldn’t you?” He turned those wide hazel eyes on Peter.
“I don’t know Derek,” Peter said, arriving at the car he knocked on the trunk until it popped open for them. “Your mother has always been something of a mystery to me.”
They loaded the groceries into the trunk before heading back around the car. Settling into their seats, Peter nodded to Landon and they began the final leg of their journey home. Peter took his phone out and called in an order for pizza to be delivered in the next half hour or so.
He directed Landon into the parking garage and they were lucky to find a spot near the elevators.
Nic took Cora, while the rest of them loaded themselves down with their packages and headed up to Peter’s apartment. They’d need to make a couple more trips, but much less than any baseline human would.
Peter unlocked the door and stepped in to turn on the light.
“Go ahead and lay her down in my room, it’s the only one with a bed. We can wake her up all the way when dinner gets here, no sense in forcing her awake right now.” Peter said, gesturing Nic down the hall. “Groceries this way.” He led the other two into his kitchen and dumped his bags on the island in there.
He looked at Derek and saw that there dark shadows beginning to form under his eyes. He caught Landon’s eye, jerked his chin towards Derek. Landon nodded.
“Derek, can you put away these groceries while Landon and bring up the rest of the bags?” Peter asked.
“Uh,” Derek looked around Peter’s kitchen a little dazedly. “I guess, you just have to tell me where it all goes.”
“I don’t have any specific place for anything,” Peter said with a smile he hoped came across as reassuring rather than exhausted. “You can organize it however you want to right now.”
“Oh,” Derek looked back at him. “If you’re sure.”
“Completely,” Peter said. “It would help if you could do this. Once you get the groceries taken care of. Go ahead and grab a shower, grab a set of my sweats to put on after. I’ll start washing these new clothes as soon as we get everything up here.”
“Okay Uncle Peter,” Derek said as he turned to work.
Landon and Peter slipped out of the apartment and headed back down to the car.
They grabbed the last of the bags in near silence. Peter glanced at Landon while they waited for the elevator.
“I’m not going to ask if you’re okay,” Peter finally said, “Mostly because none of us are okay and I don’t think we’ll be okay for quite some time.”
“No,” Landon agreed. He turned until his body was oriented towards Peter. “Talia hadn’t fully brought me into the pack yet, my alpha could conceivably call me home.”
“We aren’t feudal lords,” Peter said wryly, but he knew what Landon meant. “Do you want to stay Landon? I won’t hold you to promises made to a different pack.”
“You’re still the Hale Pack,” Landon said. He stepped into the elevator as soon as it opened.
Peter followed much more sedately, glad to note that they were alone. “Yes, we are the Hale Pack. We are also very diminished, you’ve been around long enough to know what this will mean in the long term.”
“You’ll be given a year to solidify your claim,” Landon adjusted the bags in his hands and closed his eyes in thought, leaning back against the wall of the elevator. “After that you can be challenged for the territory.”
“Yep,” Peter said with a nod, meeting Landon’s gaze with a sober one of his own. “Nic’s already realized this, I felt him leaving what protections he could around the house despite how diminished he was from whatever the hunters did. It’s why he hasn’t left Cora’s side and probably won’t go too far from the rest of us until he’s satisfied with our magical protections.”
“So when you say you aren’t the same pack,” Landon said.
“I mean we can’t be the same pack,” Peter said. “I’m the Alpha now, not the left hand. I have no enforcers. I have one beta who is barely eight years old and another who just turned sixteen. Nic might be able to be my emissary if he wants, but that’s the extent that I have right now Landon.” Peter sighed, feeling suddenly very tired.
“You have an enforcer if you’ll take me, Peter,” Landon said. “I want to stay.”
“I can’t promise anything here,” Peter said looking at his cousin. “I plan to do everything I can. To use every trick, every resource at my disposal to survive the next few years and come out on top, for Derek and Cora at least, but I can’t promise anything.”
“I wouldn’t believe you if you did,” Landon said. “This whole situation is a clusterfuck. I still want to stay. You were training me to take over for you, even if the others didn’t like it. The position suited me, if you’ll have me I still want it.”
“Okay,” Peter nodded, “I’m much too selfish and desperate to try and talk you out of it little cousin. So come on.”
They exited the elevator on Peter’s floor and headed into the apartment. Peter dropped the remaining bags off in the kitchen and led Landon into the bedroom he’d turned into an office.
“Landon Calhoun,” Peter let his eyes bleed red. “Swear your oaths.”
Landon bowed his head and kneeled, for all that Peter had said that they weren’t feudal lords, many of their ceremonial rituals would not have been out of place in that time period.
Peter let his claws out, reaching over and setting them to the back of Landon’s neck. He let just the tips slip past the skin. Not enough to cause damage, but enough for the magic to take root.
“By the Moon who we hold sacred, I give you my oath. I will in all endeavors strive to be faithful to Peter Hale as my Alpha, never to cause him harm and to remain as true to him as the Moon is true to us her children.”
“By the Moon who we hold sacred, I give you my oath. I will honor your pledge and give you shelter beneath my roof, the food at my table, a bed in my home for as long as you are my beta. I will offer my protection against claims made against you for you are pack. I will hold this to be true and just as witnessed by the Moon who calls us her children.”
Carefully Peter removed his claws from Landon and helped him to his feet. Landon tilted his neck and Peter leaned forward, shifting his face to bring his forward, he bit into Landon’s neck to set the magic.
Stepping back, Peter held onto Landon’s arm to steady the other man as he wobbled. Peter eventually got him into one of the office chairs.
“Wow,” Landon said. “I didn’t realize how bad my bonds were.”
Peter frowned, “What do you mean?” Peter couldn’t imagine that they were very good right now, what with the fire and the forceful severing of so many. Even if Landon hadn’t been an official Hale Pack member, he would still have had some familial bonds with the rest of them. His parents were part of his pack though and that would have been a double wrenching of both the parental bond and pack bond being destroyed.
“I knew the bonds I was trying to form here were being hampered by Talia’s resistance to me and Deaton’s…” Landon waved a hand to encompass Deaton’s apparent everything Peter guessed.
“Yes Deaton,” Peter said, he wondered where the emissary was. He’d have to look the man up and see if he’d been in the house.
If he hadn’t been there then where was he after the fire? Where was he now, when the remains of the pack should be gathering together?
Peter shook those thoughts away after making the note to look into it.
“Well I didn’t realize how weak they were until you just brought me in,” Landon looked up at him with a shattered expression on his face. “I didn’t realize that my bonds with my parents were as weak as they were. I felt them break, I feel the shredded edges of them even now. The strength of the bonds I now have with the members in this apartment though, that far outstrips any bonds I’ve had in the last few years at least. The only bond that comes close is the one I have with Nic.”
“That is concerning,” Peter said, feeling his brow furrow and forcing himself to smooth it out. “Let’s go shower and then we’ll eat. After that we’ll all meditate, hopefully, that will help ease some of what we’re all feeling.” Peter headed towards the door. “Landon?”
“Yeah?” Landon looked up from where he’d been staring at his hands.
“Don’t mention the weak bonds to anyone until we know more,” Peter said. “I have a feeling that there is more there than just you not connecting with us.”
“Yeah,” Landon stood. “Peter, why do I feel like we’re more fucked than it looks like on the surface?”
“Because we probably are dear cousin, we probably are.” Peter held the door open for Landon, who he’d let go ahead of him. “We’ll just have to make sure that we keep the pups safe.”
“We will Alpha,” Landon’s voice went cold. “Nothing will touch them unless they want to bleed.”
“Very good,” Peter nodded with approval. “As long as you wish to take on the mantle, I think you’ll make an excellent left hand.”
“I want it, Peter,” Landon said. “I’ve never understood why your pack looked down on the role. The protection it gives to the pack and to the alpha has always resonated with me.”
“Then welcome to the Hale Pack, Left Hand Landon Calhoun,” Peter said with a smile, turning and drawing Landon into a quick hug. “Now let’s go get some showers.”
Peter directed Landon towards the bathroom in the hall, he stopped in the living area and made sure that Nic had enough cash to tip for the pizza delivery when it arrived. He’d already paid the rest with the pack card. Nic was freshly showered and so was Cora, she was awake and leaning against her brother watching some cartoon on one of the streaming services that he subscribed to.
“I’m going to go shower, then we’ll all do a meditation session,” Peter said, “We need to try and smooth out the bonds as best we can tonight before they start to scar over or fester.”