Becoming – 2/2

Title: Becoming
Author: Sibyl Moon
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Genre: Paranormal/Supernatural, Pre-Relationship, Shifters
Relationship(s): Gen, Pre-Derek/Stiles
Content Rating: R
Warnings: Hate Crimes/Hate Speech, Torture, Violence – Graphic, Discussion-Murder, Discussion-Rape, Discussion-Torture, Murder, Violence-Canon-Level, Kidnapping, Drug/Alcohol Use. Per Drug/Alcohol use: Sheriff drinks heavily in one scene. Discussion of Rape/Assault: Kate Argent & Bite as assault/rape. Hate Crimes & Hate Speech: As related to werewolves & hunters.
Beta: Twigen, Alpha Read by DarkJediQueen
Word Count: 57,600
Summary: A few days before Christmas, while out on his nightly run, Stiles is attacked by a monster in the preserve. When he begins to change, it doesn’t take him long to figure out what’s happening to him. Once he discovers Derek Hale is back in town, he finally has a few answers, even if they lead to more questions. Stiles isn’t sure he can trust the other man, but he believes that Derek is as invested in tracking down the feral alpha as Stiles is and that will have to do for now.
Artist: Penumbria ( Also on Ao3)


Chapter Ten

An hour later Stiles was riding the line between exhilarated and exhausted after his encounter with Kate and working on his anchor some more. He pushed the thoughts of Kate away to deal with later when he could get ahold of Derek again.

Settling in at his desk he began to look over his research, Stiles wouldn’t have noticed it if he hadn’t just been through the files on the Hale fire and the arson investigation report he’d finally found. Garrison Meyers used to be an insurance investigator. In fact, he was the insurance investigator for the Hale fire. His report had been one of the reasons that the fire had been marked accidental. Stiles tried to tell himself that it was a coincidence that Meyers had a connection to the fire. A link that was looking to be somewhat shady. He’d been in league with the hunters, or they’d paid him to write a false report.

Stiles began to dig into Meyer’s finances as much as he could. He noticed that Meyers had retired as an insurance investigator six months after the fire. Meyers had quit his job there to become a bus driver. That was also around the time he had started drinking to the point of being picked up. He didn’t have any DUIs or driving violations, but he had a few drunk and disorderly pickups. Most of them seemed to have been on weekends.

Reading between the lines, Stiles guessed that Meyers had falsified his report or just hurried to close the case. Something must have tipped him off that it had been a murder, or at least the guilt of it began to eat at him.

Stiles was sure the guy deserved to be arrested and charged with his role in the fire, but he didn’t think murder was what the guy had earned. Stiles did more research into the fire, compiling his file on it. He hoped to somehow pass it to his dad or Tara and get the case reopened. It deserved to be investigated correctly and to have those responsible brought to justice.

Stiles checked his phone; he had a response from his dad. Glancing at the time, he saw that he had about thirty minutes before his dad would be home. His dad had asked about dinner and Stiles shot him a text suggesting the diner.

He got an almost immediate affirmative answer. He looked to see if he’d missed any other texts or calls, but it looked like Derek hadn’t gotten back to him. Stiles felt a curl of worry in his chest, but he tried to ignore it. Maybe Derek was just checking out the Argents or something. Stiles hoped he hadn’t pushed too hard about Kate and the fire.

Shoving those thoughts aside, he shut down his research and hid the file he was compiling into the back of his desk drawer. He would have to take the time later to get everything transcribed online and secured. By the time he’d taken care of his research and changed his clothes, his dad was home.

“Ready to go, kid?” he asked, still in uniform. “We can grab dinner and talk, but then I need to catch some sleep.”

“Sure thing, Dad.” Stiles squashed down the disappointment of not being able to spend more time with his dad, telling himself to take what he could get.

They headed out of the house and to the diner. Stiles was talking about everything and nothing. Once they were seated in a booth and had ordered, Noah Stilinski looked at his son. Stiles swallowed. He recognized that look. Usually, he’d gotten it when he’d done something wrong and his dad wanted him to confess.

“So,” his dad began. “I got a call from the school to inform me that you had changed your school plan.”

Stiles carefully kept the relief that this was what his dad wanted to know out of his posture and face. “Yeah, I know you wanted me to have a normal school experience here, but I’m getting so bored. Yes, even in the advanced classes.” Stiles said the last before his dad could do more than open his mouth.

“Okay.” The sheriff pulled a hand down his face. “Okay. I still think you should have a normal high school experience. I wish you would have talked this over with me. We might have been able to find other alternatives. I don’t know how I feel about you graduating so early. You’re only sixteen.”

“Dad…” Stiles tried to it say very gently and ignored how his heart was being chipped away at again. He’d glue it back together later when he had time. “I’m going to be eighteen in April.”

“Are you?” The sheriff looked startled at that news; his brow furrowed as he thought. “Well, hell, I guess you will be.” He laughed, shaking his head. “Time flies, doesn’t it?”

Their food arrived shortly after that and they ate, the subject closed. Stiles moved on to regular conversations that revolved around his dad’s horrible eating habits and simple station calls. He was determined to ignore the fact that his dad had forgotten how old he was, even if it was just for a minute.

“You should have ordered the salad instead of those fries, dad,” Stiles told him around a bite of his burger. “The curly fries might taste great, but your arteries will not thank you for it.

“Maybe not, but my taste buds and stomach are thrilled right now.” The sheriff grinned at his son, eating a few fries as if to prove his point. “See, delicious.”

“I’m only looking out for you,” Stiles grumbled good-naturedly.

“I know you are, son,” he said, grinning at him, “but you don’t have to.”

“Obviously, I do if you keep ordering fries instead of salads,” Stiles rebuked, but he was smiling as he said it.

They finished their dinner, the sheriff getting a final cup of coffee while Stiles mangled the straw in his milkshake.

“About these men who accosted you at the gas station,” he began.

“I didn’t do anything,” Stiles protested, mostly because he knew his dad would expect it. “They tried to shoot me.”

“I’m aware.” His dad did not look happy about that fact. “All of them are up on weapons charges right now. Some have made bail, so I would prefer you not wander around town by yourself right now.”

“Okay,” Stiles agreed readily. “Have you heard anything about my Jeep, though?”

“You can pick it up from the station tomorrow,” he said with a grimace. “The bullets left mostly cosmetic damage to your door and side paneling. They didn’t hit anything further in.”

“That’s a relief.” Stiles had a good amount of money in the trust fund from his grandmother for after his birthday, but given a choice, he wanted to save most of it for his schooling and not buying a new vehicle.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t make it down that night,” his dad said, head bowed a little. “I’m glad that Derek was there and could watch out for you until I got back.”

“He’s a good guy. You’ve met him. He’s quiet but solid,” Stiles said with pride. Even if Derek wasn’t a friend the way that Stiles portrayed him, he was still someone that Stiles was coming to count on. Now, if he’d just text him back. “He’s dealing with a lot right now, with his sister’s death and his uncle still in the hospital. I think he’s going to be okay, but it’s a lot to deal with.”

“Yeah.” The sheriff nodded. “I’m sorry about the reason that he came back to town, but I’m glad that you got to meet him in person. It’s nice to see you have a friend again, Stiles.”

Stiles forced himself not to flinch. His dad had been worried about him after Scott died, especially when he hadn’t made any close friends after that or, really, any friends at all.

“Derek’s cool,” Stiles said instead of the thousand other things he wanted to say about how his dad shouldn’t worry about him. “You aren’t mad about the school thing, right?” Stiles asked, changing the subject from Derek and the hunters.

“Disappointed a little,” his dad said honestly. “I wish you would have talked about it with me, but I’m not mad at you, Stiles.”

“Okay then.” Stiles sucked up the last of his milkshake and watched his dad finish his coffee. He was about to ask about hitting the store before heading home when his dad’s radio went off.

They both listened and the sheriff answered the call with his eyes on his son but focused elsewhere.

“I don’t have time to run you home,” he said to Stiles. “You will stay in the car until I can get someone to do so.”

“I will,” Stiles said, getting up and following his dad out of the diner.

They drove quickly through town with the lights on, but the sirens themselves off.

“What happened?” Stiles asked, holding on to the door as they sped through town.

“There was an attack of some sort at the video store in town,” the sheriff answered.

“I don’t know all the details.” He glanced at Stiles with his eyebrow raised. “You heard as much as I did on the radio.”

Stiles gave his dad a sheepish smile. “Yeah, I guess I’m still a little stressed out by what happened the other night. Then the other morning when I saw Tara at the bus yard.”

The sheriff frowned. “There has been a lot of activity over the past few weeks.” He acknowledged. “I am serious about you staying in or at least not being out on your own until things begin to settle down.”

“I thought I heard that most of the problems have been due to animal attacks?” Stiles asked, wondering if his dad believed the story or was using the cover of animal attacks to investigate on his own.

“Most of them, yes,” his dad agreed. “Which is why I don’t want you in the woods at all. If a mountain lion or similar is coming into town and attacking residents, it’s either feral or ill. Tara calling me about you being in the wrong place is not something I need right now.”

“I know, dad,” Stiles said, ignoring the part of him that said that his dad didn’t show up half the time, even when Stiles called him.

“Okay, wait here.” The sheriff pulled up in front of the video store, two other vehicles already there with their lights on. “I mean it, Stiles, stay out of the crime scene.”

“I will, Dad,” Stiles said, offended. “I haven’t gone into a crime scene since you grounded me for it two years ago.”

“Right,” he said, already shutting the door, his attention on the scene and not his son.

Stiles watched his dad walk away before he rolled down his window. He caught the scent of blood, and then he heard Jackson and Lydia giving shaky statements to the deputies. He assumed they were the ones to call it in.

“…monster, it was huge,” Jackson was saying.

“You say it was an animal that you saw,” The deputy was asking, “Not a person?”

“It was a monster. iIt didn’t look like any animal I’ve ever seen,” Jackson said, his customary arrogance shaken but still evident in his voice.

“This is ridiculous,” Lydia’s voice cut in from nearby. “We’ve told you everything we know and I wasn’t even in there.”

The deputies took down their information and then sent Jackson and Lydia on their way.

Stiles got out of the car but didn’t go any further. He didn’t need to move to get the information he needed. The clerk was dead; Jackson had found the body and been attacked by some animal. The deputies were putting his claims of ‘monster’ down to Jackson’s trauma for now. Stiles wasn’t sure what Lydia might have seen, but it sounded like she’d been in the car and away from the alpha.

And it was the alpha. Stiles could smell the familiar scent of the werewolf that had bitten him now that he knew what to look for. The same smell that had been under the blood at the bus was here as well. He heard someone coming up beside him and turned to see Derek.

“He struck again,” Stiles murmured, not looking at Derek, just breathing in the comforting scent of the man, letting it calm the anxiety the alpha caused him.

“I see that,” Derek replied, leaning against the car next to him and letting their shoulders brush. “Any idea why?”

“Not yet,” Stiles said with a shrug. “I’ve got a name, but I’ll need to look it up when I get home.”

“Your dad looks like he’ll be a while. You need a ride?” Derek asked.

“Could use one.” Stiles shrugged again. “Let me get his attention.” He headed towards his dad.

“I’ll be here,” Derek replied.

“Dad,” Stiles called out as he made his way closer to the storefront.

“Stiles.” His dad came to the door sounding exasperated. “I told you to stay in the car.”

“I was,” Stiles defended with a frown. “Derek was driving by and saw me. He offered me a ride home if I need it. It looks like you’re going to be awhile.”

“Oh.” The sheriff looked over towards where Derek was standing. “That would be helpful. I don’t know when I’m going to make it home after this.”

“I figured,” Stiles said.

“Do you think he’d mind taking you to get your Jeep tomorrow?”he asked.

“Probably not, but I can ask him on the way home,” Stiles said.

“Okay, let me know.” He was already turning back to the store. “Text me when you get home, okay?”

“Sure thing, Dad,” Stiles agreed. “Love you.”

“Love you, too, kid.” Then he went back to work.

Stiles turned and headed back towards Derek, who had already grabbed his jacket from the car, waiting for him.

“I can take you to get your Jeep tomorrow after school,” Derek said, without preamble, as they walked towards his car.

“I’m not going to school tomorrow,” Stiles said, grinning at Derek’s incredulous look. “I’m done with everything but the tests. Of course, I’ll need to study, but I’ll be testing on the eighteenth and nineteenth. After that, so long as I pass, I’ll be completely done with high school. I know I told you most of this already.”

“Huh,” was all Derek said as they got into the Camaro and began the trip to Stiles’ house.

“I thought it would be best to be able to retreat if I need to for control or whatever and I can’t do that if I’m still in high school, so I decided to take advantage of the opportunity.” Stiles shrugged and then sat up with excitement. “Oh, I haven’t talked to you today. I found my anchor.”

“You did?” Derek asked.

“Your doubt in me is noted, but yes, I did,” Stiles replied. “It was after that run-in I had with Kate Argent. I made it home, but I had trouble after. I managed to find my anchor then.”

Derek’s hands creaked on the steering wheel as soon as Stiles mentioned Kate. “I got your text.”

“I figured,” Stiles said agreeably. “Good thing she doesn’t know I’m a werewolf. She was more interested in warning me off you and getting my dad to drop the charges against her brother. I think they are feeling out their ability to bribe him or me.”

“That seems likely,” Derek agreed, his eyes glowing slightly.

“Put away the high beams, dude,” Stiles said. “You talk to me about control and you snap at just about every mention of her.”

“She’s responsible for the death of my entire pack, Stiles,” Derek said through gritted teeth.

“Then find your anchor, Derek,” Stiles replied without pity. “You aren’t going to do any good against this alpha if you can’t deal with this Argent bullshit.”

Derek swung into the driveway of Stiles’ house and they sat for a minute as Derek fought for control. “I’ll be by in the morning to take you to get your Jeep. We’ll talk about the alpha then.”

“And the Argents,” Stiles replied as he got out of the car. He shut the door before Derek could respond, heading into the house. He didn’t hear Derek drive away for another few minutes, but he figured he’d get his way.

He knew the both of them had things that needed dealing with, but Derek’s issues with the Argents seemed to be the most distressing for him right now. The alpha was a problem, especially with the murders going on, but if the Argents took down Derek, Stiles wasn’t confident in his ability to take down the alpha by himself. He wasn’t sure he wanted to, if it came down to it, not if he would end up with the alpha spark, as Derek had mentioned would happen.

Not that he thought Derek would be a much better alpha at this point, but at least he had more experience being a werewolf than the five minutes that Stiles had.

Plus, Stiles liked the other man and didn’t think Derek should still be dragging the Argents around with him, especially if he was going to be an alpha. Especially if he ended up being Stiles’ alpha.

Stiles listened to Derek finally drive away before he made his way upstairs to his room and laptop. He changed his clothes and got comfortable before he started to research the video store clerk. Stiles wished that he was surprised when he found that the guy had a record related to arson. Stiles couldn’t tie him directly to the Hale fire, but that didn’t mean much considering that the fire had been ruled accidental. He leaned back against the wall at the head of his bed and let everything circle his mind.

So far, all the victims, including Laura, had been related to the Hale fire. Stiles sat up and made his way into the case files for the bus murder with a few careful clicks.


He doubted even the crime scene techs knew what they’d been taking a picture of, but there was a spiral. A spiral like the one Stiles had seen in the photograph online. Derek reasoned that Laura had seen or heard of one and had come to Beacon Hills to investigate. Now, here was another one at the site of a murder victim.

He’d bet if he and Derek went looking, they’d find one at or near the site of the newest murder. Revenge was the answer, but revenge on who and for what? Revenge for the fire was obvious, but Stiles knew that Derek wasn’t responsible for the murders. Maybe Kate was tidying up loose ends from six years ago and using the alpha to cover her tracks?

He sat back again. His eyes were feeling gritty and he was tired. He set the laptop aside and got ready to get some sleep. He hoped they found the alpha soon; he didn’t think his dad would buy animal attacks for very much longer if this kept up.

Chapter Eleven

Derek showed up bright and early the following day, rousting him out of bed and taking him to get his Jeep from the station. Still half asleep, Stiles signed the paperwork and was once again in possession of his own transportation.

“You owe me breakfast,” Stiles said. “And coffee, so much coffee.”

“The diner?” Derek asked, steering Stiles toward the driver’s side of the Jeep and stepping back.

Stiles could see the slight uptick at the corner of his mouth that indicated that Derek was amused at Stiles’ morning grumpiness.

“Yes,” Stiles said, pointing a finger at Derek, “and stop laughing at me.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” Derek said, getting into the Camaro and heading out in the direction of the diner.

“Of course you don’t,” Stiles muttered. He got in his Jeep and followed Derek, desperate for coffee and blueberry pancakes smothered in syrup and butter.

Seated in a back booth with their breakfasts in front of them, Stiles told Derek what he’d discovered last night.

“You think he had something to do with the fire?” Derek asked, staring hard at the waffles on his plate as if they held all the answers.

“I think it’s likely,” Stiles said. “Look, if he’d been the first to die, I wouldn’t be so quick to assume the fire. Even taking Laura out of the equation, we know that Meyers was involved with the fire and we know that the alpha was involved with both murders. I saw the pictures that had the spiral at the bus murder scene and I bet when we go back to the video store, we’ll find another somewhere around there.”

“I smelled that same scent under the blood at the video store that I did at the bus, so, yeah,” Derek agreed. “They are connected. Just, the fire?”

“The fire is the common denominator here,” Stiles said, draining his coffee and waving over a refill, waiting until the waitress left before continuing. “Look, I have two theories. One is that someone is seeking revenge for the deaths of your family, though why they’ve waited so long to do it, I don’t know. Maybe they didn’t have enough evidence until now?” Stiles shrugged and took a drink of coffee, setting the mug down and taking a bite of his pancakes. “Two is that Kate, or someone involved in the actual murder of your family, is tying up loose ends and using the alpha to do it. How that works, I’m not sure. There are a lot of questions either way, but those are the two working theories.”

“We need to figure out who the alpha is. That would give us an idea of what theory holds more water,” Derek said, finishing his meal.

“If you have an idea of how to do that, lay it on me,” Stiles said. “I’m all ears.”

“I have some ideas,” Derek said evasively. “I need to look into a few things. I’ll get back to you later today.”

“Okay,” Stiles said, not at all reassured. “Nothing I can help with, I suppose.”

“Not right now,” Derek said, standing up and putting some money on the table. “I’ll let you know when I need you.” He leaned down and put a hand on Stiles’ shoulder, looking him in the eye. “I will. Just not yet.”

“All right,” Stiles said, nodding. Waiting for Derek to step back, he slid out of the booth and stood up, following Derek outside. “Call me when you have something. Try to avoid the Argents. They would be too happy to fill you full of holes and I’d like to avoid that for now.”

Derek gave a harsh laugh and then looked surprised that he’d done it. “Just for now?”

“Well, you’re growing on me. I might like to keep you around,” Stiles replied with a shrug and a smile. “I think we’re becoming pretty good friends right now, despite everything, and, you know, we’re pack.”

“Yeah,” Derek smiled the soft smile that Stiles had only seen once or twice before and it always made his stomach swoop. “We’re pack.”

Stiles made his way back home; he noticed the sheriff’s car in the drive and was glad to see that his dad made it home. He parked and headed inside.

His dad was seated at the kitchen table with files spread out. Unfortunately, instead of a cup of coffee, he’d poured himself a tumbler of whiskey. Stiles bit his tongue to refrain from pointing out that it wasn’t even noon yet.

“Hey, dad,” he said, coming into the kitchen, grabbing a glass, and filling it with water from the fridge. “Are you home for the day?”

“For now,” his dad said, eyes on the files sipping at his drink. “I might need to go back in tonight.”

“Any word on when I can run the preserve again?” Stiles knew better than to ask directly about his dad’s cases. He’d learned that lesson with a few harsh words shortly after they’d lost his mom and Scott.

“No, we have the park service out looking,” Noah said tiredly, looking up finally. “We aren’t sure what we’re looking for. Tests aren’t back yet. The best guess is a rabid mountain lion.”

“Rumor has it that it was a bear.” Stiles held up his hands at his dad’s glare. “Hey, Derek and I had breakfast at the diner. I overheard the gossipy geezers going on about Jackson’s description of a ‘monster’ and they said it had to be a bear.” He shrugged and took a drink.

The sheriff sighed in defeat at Stiles’ explanation. “You shouldn’t call them that, Stiles. They’re going to find out and then what are you going to do?”

“They already know,” Stiles said with a laugh. “I think they had shirts made.”

“Of course they did.” His dad shook his head. “I don’t think it was a bear. Someone would have noticed something that large coming into town. Jackson was understandably traumatized by the event.” He gave Stiles a look. “Don’t go using this in your war with him.”

“I’m not at war with him, dad,” Stiles said with some exasperation shaking his head at his dad before Noah could say anything else. “No, I’m not. I don’t know where you got that idea. Yeah, we don’t get along and we haven’t for some time, but I try to stay away from him. I’m more apathetic towards him than hostile, dad. He’s the one that can’t seem to see me and let the event pass without saying or doing something.”

“Really? That’s not the way I hear it from David Whittemore whenever we run into each other., he said with his eyebrows raised, taking a swallow of his drink, eyes darting back to his files.

“Well, you shouldn’t have to worry about it then since we’re not going to be in school together anymore,” Stiles said, deciding just to cut the conversation short. He never knew where his dad’s doubt and disbelief in him came from, but it didn’t make it hurt any less.

“True,” his dad laughed in such a way that Stiles knew that the tumbler he was drinking from wasn’t his first. “Well, one benefit then.”

“Yeah,” Stiles knew his smile was brittle, but his dad wouldn’t notice with his eyes on his paperwork once again. “Want me to make you something to eat?”

“No, I’m just going to finish this up and then catch some sleep in case I get called back in.”

“Okay.” Stiles nodded and finished his water. He rinsed the glass and set it in the drainer. “I’m going to head up and do some studying. Is there anything I need to know, other than staying out of the preserve and keeping an eye out when I’m in town?”

His dad looked up and Stiles saw the bleary-eyed look of a man who was probably into his fourth day of little sleep and his third tumbler of whiskey. “Try to stay in well-populated areas if you are going out alone or go out with Derek.” He paused, obviously thinking about something, so Stiles waited. “Derek is a good kid. I wasn’t sure when you started hanging out with him after he came back looking for his sister. But he’s a good kid. It’s a tough break what happened to his family and then to have this happen to his sister, too.”

“Do you know what happened to his sister?” Stiles asked, wondering if he’d get anything out of his dad. His attempt paid off.

“It looks like she was attacked by this same animal.” The sheriff’s brow wrinkled in a frown. “How she ended up cut in half is the puzzler, though, but I’ll figure it out.”

“Yeah,” Stiles agreed. “I’m going to study. You get some rest, dad; you’ve had a rough few days.”

“Just like your mom,” the sheriff mumbled, eyes going completely glassy, a look that Stiles recognized, and he sighed, moving towards his dad to nudge him to his feet. Stiles got him to set the glass on the table and walked his dad to the stairs.

“Derek is a good kid.”

“You said that dad. I agree.”

“Yeah, you aren’t bad, either.”

“Thanks, dad. Here are the stairs, careful.” Stiles eased his dad up the stairway, one step at a time.

His dad kept pausing to lean on the wall, gazing at him earnestly. “You are the best part of us, Stiles, the best part.”

“Thanks, Dad,” Stiles kept repeating. He was familiar with this routine; it didn’t happen as often in the last couple of years, and it was easier to get his dad up the stairs now than it had been six years ago when his mom had first died. He’d been a lot smaller then and his dad a lot angrier.

“I’m sorry Scott died too,” his dad reached out and patted his cheek. “Left you all alone. All alone. My poor boy. Now you’re leaving me.”

“I’m not leaving you, dad,” Stiles sighed, finally getting him to the top of the stairs. “I’m just getting you to bed. You need some sleep.” He’d learned over the years not to bring up his dad’s drinking, especially when he’d been drinking.

“You’re all grown up now. All done with school and going away.” His dad sighed.

Wonderful they’d reached the maudlin portion of their schedule. Stiles hated this so much.

“It’s just high school, dad. I’m not planning on leaving you.” Stiles had never been happier about this new werewolf strength than when his dad suddenly slumped. He managed to catch him before he hit the floor. “Easy there, dad.”

“So tired,” Noah muttered, hanging in his arms, head resting on Stiles’ shoulder.

“I bet.” Stiles agreed, shifting him enough to maneuver him up another step. They were almost to the landing.

“Miss you so much, Claudia.,” he whispered, breath hitching.

“I know you do. Come on, dad.” Stiles managed to half walk, half drag his dad down the hall to his room.

“You’re a good kid Stiles,” his dad said, patting Stiles on the face. “Such a good kid.”

“You’ve said,” Stiles replied. He hated days and nights like this. He was grateful they were few and far between. Only once every couple of months, instead of every other day the way it had been back in the beginning.

Stiles got his dad sitting on the end of the bed and knelt to take his boots off. The sheriff leaned forward suddenly and grasped his face in both hands.

“Your mom didn’t mean it.” His face was full of a drunk’s fervent belief. “She never thought you were a monster.”

Stiles sighed again, ignoring the throb of that old wound. “I know that, dad.” He reached up and removed his dad’s hands. “Here, let’s get your boots off so you can get some sleep, huh?”

“Okay.” His dad then proceeded to fall back on the bed.

Stiles rolled his eyes and got his dad’s boots off, setting them to the side. Then he got his dad undressed down to his undershirt and boxers. With some additional struggle, he even managed to get him under the blankets. That done, he headed towards the door, turning off the light.

“Love you, son,” Noah mumbled before the snoring started.

“Love you, dad.” Stiles shut the door, leaning his head against it for a minute, and just drew in a few deep breaths, refusing to let the sobs that were trying to gather in the back of his throat get out.

Once he had himself under control, he went back downstairs to clean up. He dumped the tumbler of whiskey and double-checked that his dad had secured his service weapon in the safe. Noah had forgotten that once; it had been the only time that Stiles lost his temper with his dad and his drinking. Ever since that incident, his dad had made sure to lock his weapon up before he poured his first tumbler, but Stiles still felt the need to check every time.

He glanced at the files he was straightening up and saw they were what he expected – the files on the ‘animal attacks’ and the analysis reports that were back. The reports included the one for Laura Hale and the conclusion of the animal attack for her cause of death. The local vet, Dr. Alan Deaton, had identified the animal hair as a mountain lion in origin.

“The vet? Really, dad?” Stiles muttered as he stacked up the files neatly. Reaching for the last few files, he froze. “Hale Fire,” he read the file name out loud before flipping it open.

Stiles groped behind him for a chair and sat down hard because this wasn’t just the official copy of the Hale fire. This was his dad’s personal copy, which meant that his dad was quietly investigating the fire on his own.

“You don’t believe it was an accident either,” Stiles said as he flipped through the handwritten notes page by page. All the computer-generated paperwork was the same as what he’d printed out, but everything else his dad had come across was either typed and printed out separately from a Word document or handwritten. Nothing was officially reported or noted. He looked at the dates on some of the notes. “Fuck, he’s been looking into this for years.”

He picked up all the files and headed into the office, dropping everything but the Hale file onto the desk. The Hale file went with him to their all-in-one printer. Carefully, he began to make his own copies of each of his dad’s notes before putting the file back together and leaving it on the desk with the others.

He took the copies upstairs with him and sat on his bed after closing his door and just stared at the wall. He knew that his dad was good at his job, excellent in fact. He wouldn’t have made Sheriff if he weren’t, especially not with his whiskey habit directly after Claudia Stilinski’s death.

His dad was an even better detective than Stiles had given him credit for. He’d been looking into the Hale Fire since shortly after he’d become sheriff. Stiles didn’t know what had tipped him off to it, but he had some comprehensive notes, and Stiles didn’t doubt that, if he’d had the connecting pieces about werewolves and hunters, he’d have already solved it.

Stiles decided right then that he couldn’t tell his dad about werewolves. His dad might be the best detective in the county and great at solving crimes, at finding justice for families, but Stiles just didn’t know if his dad could deal with the very grey world of the supernatural. Stiles didn’t agree with what the alpha was doing in any way, shape, or form, but what he and Derek were going to have to do to stop the alpha was necessary. It was also something that his dad would find unacceptable.

His dad had always been something of a black and white type of person. The fact that he had this file on the Hale Fire was surprising, but that he was going about it in a meticulous and above-board fashion in gathering evidence wasn’t. He wasn’t going around the procedure, at least according to his notes. He was just getting second opinions on reports and looking into cases in surrounding counties.

Stiles didn’t doubt that his dad would stick by him, that he would cover for him. He also knew that it would eat away at Noah Stilinski to do it. Stiles didn’t think that his dad could take having any more of himself eaten away these days. His job was all that he had, it was what he’d poured himself into since his mom’s death, and Stiles didn’t want to sully that for his dad.

That was going to mean keeping werewolves a secret from his dad. Stiles sighed and stood up to put his new papers into the file he had on the fire. This also meant that he’d have to look into moving out as soon as possible without it being suspicious. It looked like he’d be dipping into his little trust fund sooner than he’d thought. He wondered if Derek would like a roommate and then shook that thought away.

His grandmother on his mom’s side had left him some money that would be available to him when he turned eighteen. It should be enough to get him on his feet and he had some schools interested. He just needed a plan. Hopefully, this thing with the alpha and these hunters wouldn’t take any longer than that. Then, he could sit down with Derek and figure out a long-term plan regarding his training and being a werewolf for the rest of his life.

He spent the rest of the day studying for his tests and trying to ignore everything else. He grabbed something to eat for lunch and checked on his dad. Finding him still passed out, he left a glass of water and some aspirin next to the side of the bed before going back to study some more.

When Stiles finally came up from his study-induced stupor to a knock on the door of his room, he saw it was getting dark outside.

“I’m headed into work, son,” his dad said, showered and changed. Almost as if nothing had happened that morning at all.

The red-rimmed and slightly bloodshot eyes combined with the whiskey that Stiles could smell on him belied that, but he doubted anyone else would take note of anything more than an overtired man.

“Uh,” Stiles shook off the equations that were floating around in his brain at the moment. “Okay, um, I put your files on your desk when you went to bed.”

“Okay. You didn’t go through them, I hope,” his dad said, frowning.

“No.” Stiles shook his head. “I just moved them off the kitchen table to the office. I didn’t know if they were important or just paperwork, so I didn’t want to leave them sitting out.”

“Okay, thank you, son.” The sheriff smiled at him. “I’ll see you tomorrow night, hopefully.”

“Night, Dad,” Stiles replied with a wave. “Love you.”

“Love you, too, son.” The Sheriff headed down the stairs and Stiles heard the front door shut a short time later.

Stiles put his schoolwork away and pulled out his alpha research after checking his phone to see if Derek had texted yet. He hadn’t, but Stiles expected to hear from him soon. Derek had told him earlier that morning that he’d call once he’d check out a few things. Stiles was ignoring the worry that was starting to pool in the pit of his stomach, telling himself to give Derek time to figure out what he needed to and get back to him.

Pulling his files closer, he began to read over what he had put together. He pulled out his dad’s notes and added them into his own where they fit. It was like slipping pieces of the puzzle together and the more that came together, the more he felt his blood begin to chill.

He pulled up a blank document and began to add together the commonalities of everything that had happened in the last couple of weeks. What had brought Laura to Beacon Hills? Well, they didn’t know for sure since she hadn’t told Derek, but after seeing that post online, it was likely that the revenge spiral was the culprit. Okay, what did the two other murders have in common? The Hale Fire, or, at least, connections to the Hale Fire and a connection to arson.

The hunters had overplayed their hand with the cops here in Beacon Hills. Had they been that confident in their ability to buy their way out of trouble? That didn’t matter right now. It wasn’t going to happen with his dad and the deputies currently on staff around. Now, once they got in front of the judges, Stiles couldn’t say. Stiles didn’t think they would have shown up and pulled their guns on him and the cops like idiots if they were running around cleaning up loose ends from a fire that everyone claimed was accidental over six years ago.

That left someone directly affected by the fire. The only survivors had been Laura and Derek. Laura was now dead and Derek wasn’t an alpha, so he hadn’t killed her. Stiles was pretty sure that Derek wasn’t lying about that. Stiles was also reasonably confident that he wasn’t going around killing people for revenge either. Derek hadn’t mentioned any other family outside of his Uncle Peter and Stiles wasn’t stupid. He really wished that what he was thinking was wrong, but unless Derek returned with some extraordinary evidence, Stiles would have to tell Derek that his uncle was not only not in a coma but was a crazy murderer.

Stiles rechecked his phone, hoping to see a text from Derek. Finally, he sent out one of his own.

‘Derek come on, you said youd get in touch where are you dude’

He waited, staring intently at his phone before throwing it on his bed in disgust, he worry from before eating at his gut painfully now.

He changed into a pair of jeans, something more durable than sweats just in case he ended up facing the alpha while looking for Derek. Why he was going to look for the insufferable sourwolf, he didn’t know.

Well, yes, he did know. He thought of the smile this morning as he had told Derek that they were pack. They were friends at this point and even though Stiles was crazy attracted to Derek’s looks, because who wouldn’t be, he was also finding himself attracted to Derek’s shy smiles and arrogant smirks. Even his angry, grumpy, confused eyebrows when he didn’t quite get what Stiles was talking about.

Stiles could do with Derek’s martyr complex and his default-to anger switch, but he figured that Derek needed some pretty intensive therapy once this was all over. He made a mental note to find a therapist in the know, especially if Derek ended up having to kill his Uncle.

Stiles grabbed his laptop then sat down with his phone to try and find a location on Derek. He located Derek’s phone through some less than legal means at the Hale property and didn’t try to think why he might be there.

Pocketing his phone, Stiles picked up the paper files he’d just finished transcribing before hiding them electronically and he went downstairs. He stopped by his dad’s office to use the sheriff’s extra secure shredder. He needed to make sure none of the documents were recognizable. That done, Stiles went to the safe, spinning the dial to open it. Taking what he needed, he locked it up again, then switched the light off as he left the office.

He grabbed his keys, tossed on his jacket, and slipped the baton onto his wrist. Stiles took a deep breath as he locked the door on his way out. He knew that he needed to go to the hospital first and check out his theory. Then, he’d confront Derek and figure out what to do next. Stiles took another fortifying breath and started the Jeep. As he drove to the hospital, he went over various scenarios in his head and wondered how it would play out. If it went as he imagined, he wouldn’t even see Peter. He just needed into the records and another scent of the man. He eyed the night sky while stopped at a red light. The moon was up, just a sliver. Waxing crescent. The first step towards the full moon.

He didn’t know if that was good or bad. The hospital loomed in front of him. He pulled into the garage. He parked. He entered through the side door and headed towards the long-term ward. The check-in desk was empty. He pulled his phone out to check the time—8:00 pm. There should be someone here.

Stiles skirted around the desk with a hand in his jacket pocket. He had the phone in his other hand, pressing the speed dial for Derek’s number. It didn’t even ring but went straight to voicemail.

“Hey, Derek, thought I’d drop by and visit your uncle. There’s nobody here. You might want to check on the security of this place. Hey, I noticed you were out at your old place. Want to tell me about that? Call me. I mean it.” He ended the call and stuffed the phone into his jeans. Most of the resident doors were closed. Those that were open showed dark rooms and everyone tucked in asleep. Stiles made his way to Peter’s room. The door was closed. Taking a deep breath, he turned the knob and opened the door slowly.

No one was there. Stiles stepped through. He used his senses as best he could. No heartbeats. Peter’s scent was hours old. Peter’s scent was familiar. Familiar, as in what had been under the blood at the scenes.

Stiles smelled anger. He smelled hatred. Stiles didn’t know madness had a scent until now. He whirled around and headed back out. Peter wasn’t here anymore. It was time to find Derek.

Stiles headed back to the parking garage.

Chapter Twelve

A prick of claws brushed the back of his neck. His baton was crackling with energy and swinging before he registered the thought.

Peter was already out of range, standing a few feet away smirking.

Stiles tightened his grip on the baton and drew a deep breath in trying to settle himself.

“Now, now, darling,” Peter’s voice was just as smarmy in reality as it was in Stiles’ dreams. “Is that any way to greet your alpha?”

“You. Are. Not. My. Alpha.” Stiles’ voice came out like ice. He bit off each word as he moved until he had his Jeep at his back.

“Oh, but I am,” Peter said, even as he moved forward warily. “I bit you. That makes you mine.”

“That doesn’t work outside of elementary school cafeterias, dude, and even then, they make you sit in time out,” Stiles replied, studying the man with careful eyes. “Should I even ask how long you’ve been awake?”

Peter tilted his head. He paused his approach. “You’re a smart one, aren’t you. You make a lovely wolf, darling.”

“Maybe.” Stiles shrugged. “But I’m not your pack or your beta, so I don’t see why it matters to you.”

“Why do you fight me so hard, little wolf?”

“I don’t like insane rapey assholes.” Stiles shrugged again. He kept his grip on the baton loose and easy. “I’m funny about consent and things that way.”

“I didn’t rape anyone,” Peter roared at him, lunging forward.

Stiles twisted his body and swung the baton, clipping Peter’s shoulder and sending him into the car next to the Jeep. The beta shift slipped away.

“I sure as hell didn’t consent to being attacked and bitten by you,” Stiles responded harshly, breathing heavy. He felt his eyes flash and forced the shift away. He kept his eyes on Peter as he unlocked his Jeep one-handed. That attack had been too close for comfort.

“You were out there in the woods and look how you’ve taken to it.” Peter got back to his feet, obviously shaking off the charge from the baton. Stiles noticed that the scars from the fire were gone now that Peter was closer.

“That’s just straight-up victim-blaming, you mother fucking asshole,” Stiles said. Anger welled up in him, but he sought out his anchor and didn’t allow the change to overwhelm him. He couldn’t afford to lose control now. He could feel the draw to Peter and he didn’t like it.

“You need me, little wolf.” Peter seemed to switch to a different tactic. “I’ve seen you with my useless nephew. He’s merely a beta and can’t give you the help I can as your alpha. I can help you reach your full potential.”

“Yeah, how ‘bout you stop there, Voldemort,” Stiles snorted. “I’ll pass on joining the dark.”

“You need me.” Now, Peter smiled at Stiles like he had a secret.

“Why would I need you?” Stiles asked.

“Because Kate Argent has my nephew,” Peter said. Then he actually buffed his nails on his sweater and blew on them.

“You want to run that by me again,” Stiles said. His shock made him let go of the door to his Jeep, but not the electric baton, which he brought up when Peter took a step towards him.

Peter assessed him with a long look before smiling another of his sly smiles. “Kate Argent has procured Derek’s company for the evening. She picked him up this morning. I’m not sure where they are having their assignation, but I don’t doubt that they are together.”

“Dude, you talk like a romance novel. Stop it,” Stiles said, even as his mind whirred through the possibilities.

“I hardly think that romance is inappropriate here.” Peter’s eyes took on a gleam that had Stiles gripping the baton a little tighter. “It was Derek’s romance with her that burned our family the first time around, was it not?”

“No, it wasn’t,” Stiles said. He eyed Peter carefully. “You really are insane, aren’t you?”

“Do you know what it is like to be a wolf with the injuries I had?” Peter asked him, his eyes so wide that they bulged out even as the ridges of his forehead rippled with the change. Stiles glanced down and saw that Peter’s fingertips kept changing from human to wolf and back again.

“I can’t say that I do,” Stiles admitted.

“I wasn’t in a coma,” Peter said, voice hissing. “I was aware, from the moment my body began to burn. My body burned and healed, healed and burned. Constantly over the last six years. My pack bonds shattered. My alpha should have been here, but she abandoned me, leaving me to heal in this pit of piss and despair.”

“She was scared. She didn’t even know if you would survive,” Stiles objected. “Laura was also your niece who you tricked back here and murdered for power. I’m sorry about what happened to you, it sounds horrific, but that doesn’t excuse what you’ve done.”

“I told her.” Peter took a step forward. He ignored the baton that Stiles raised again. Stiles stepped back into the open door of his Jeep, boosting himself up a little. “I told her what I discovered. She was going to go to the sheriff and let them get away with it.”

“You mean she was going to have them arrested and put in jail for a crime instead of murdered.” Stiles felt his eyebrows raise in disbelief. He wondered if he’d be able to get his Jeep going before Peter could tear him out of it. He didn’t fancy his chances.

“They deserve to die for what they’ve done.” Spittle sprayed as the change rippled back over Peter’s features before it resettled on his human characteristics.

“Just like Laura did?” Stiles asked softly. He’d always sort of known the alpha was crazy. Peter was a whole other level of insane, though. He wondered what Peter had been like before the fire. Before broken bonds and tortured healing. Stiles had some compassion for the man, but he didn’t have enough empathy to let the man be his alpha or to let him continue on his murder spree unabated.

“Yes, yes.” Peter’s eyes glowed a sickly red. “She abandoned me. She took the boy who killed us.”

“Derek didn’t kill anyone,” Stiles said. How was he supposed to get out of the garage? Get away from crazy Peter and get to Derek to rescue him?

“Maybe not directly,” Peter said slyly, wickedly. “But if he hadn’t wanted to get his dick wet in Argent pussy then he wouldn’t have shared our secrets. If that bitch hadn’t had our secrets, then our family would still be alive, and I wouldn’t have burned!”

“That isn’t what happened at all,” Stiles said, even as he wondered why he was trying to argue with the crazy man. He could see that Peter healed physically, but he had to wonder if the fire damaged the mind irreparably or if there had been something wrong with Peter before the fire.

“How would you know, little beta wolf, little omega,” Peter taunted, leaning forward. “You weren’t there. You don’t know what a real pack bond feels like. You will, though. You will give in eventually and be my beta. Come with me. You’ll need my help to save Derek from that Argent bitch. We’ll hunt her together and end this tonight.”

“I thought that she was working with Derek?” Stiles asked. He thought, ‘Now we need to save Derek from her?’

It would have been amusing to see what had most likely been an extremely sharp man attempting to manipulate him into doing what he wanted if it wasn’t so devastatingly depressing.

“It doesn’t matter if he is,” Peter said, his voice taking on a cajoling tone. “Once we save him, he’ll become part of our pack. If he does that, then I’ll forgive him, of course.”

“Of course,” Stiles said faintly. He had to wonder if Peter even realized how much his moods were switching around. He had to think that Peter had managed to keep himself relatively under control until recently unless… “Peter, how long have you been awake, I mean, able to move around. Everything that you’ve been doing has been happening very quickly.”

“I discovered what was behind the fires when the sheriff-” Peter eyed him with a smile full of teeth, then, “your father, isn’t he? A few months ago, the Sheriff stopped by to visit my poor catatonic self and talked out his confusing case about the Hale Fire. He didn’t have all the pieces, but I did. The next night was the full moon and my anger was so bright that I could move for the first time in years. My window had been left open and I ran into the woods for the first time in so long. I returned to my room at dawn and nobody even noticed I was gone. That was the first of many forays I took.”

He’d been awake for a few months, then; this month could only be his fourth or fifth full moon, wholly awake and aware, if Stiles was calculating correctly, and his second as an alpha.

“You managed to get Laura here, then. How did you do it?” Stiles asked. That had been something that had bugged Stiles for a while.

“Well, that was a stroke of genius, if I do say so myself.” Peter leaned against the car beside him. He had managed to wrestle most of his wolf features away, but his claws were still out. Stiles didn’t know if that was on purpose or not, if Peter was trying to intimidate him even more than he already was.

He began to punctuate his words with a hypnotic tap, tap, tapping. It was distracting Stiles, so he tried to ignore it and figure out how he would get out of the garage.

“How so?” Stiles asked, hoping to get answers while at the same time distracting Peter enough to get away to rescue Derek. He didn’t think that Kate was going to kill Derek right away. She seemed the sort to play with her prey. That didn’t mean that he wanted to leave Derek in her hands any longer than he had to, though.

“I made sure to leave signs that no alpha could ignore,” Peter said, sounding smug.




“The spiral,” Stiles said, thinking hard about what he and Derek had theorized.

“Ahh.” Peter nodded with a smile. “I knew you were smart. Yes, the spiral. It was just a matter of sneaking my way into the office of my sister’s old emissary and getting the information about Laura’s whereabouts. I knew he would have it.”

“Emissary?” There was so much that he didn’t know. Stiles hated that.




“An emissary is someone who works with the alpha to act as an advisor to keep them connected to their humanity.” Peter sneered at this before shrugging and waving it off with one hand. “He did have Laura’s address in New York and it was a simple matter of sending her pictures of the deer with the spiral. Then I just waited for her to show up.”




“Then you killed her,” Stiles said. He slid out of the Jeep. There was no point getting into the seat when he’d never get it started before Peter caught him.




“I had to,” Peter said. “I didn’t want to. She was my niece, my alpha.”




“Then why?” Stiles wondered.




“She refused to help me,” Peter responded, smiling cruelly.




“That’s bad?” Stiles tilted his head. Was Peter getting closer? No, he was still near the car Stiles had knocked him into.




“I’d help you. You’ll help me, right, Stiles?” Peter lifted a hand, beckoning him.




“Help. Derek needs help,” Stiles insisted.




“We’ll help Derek, then. Together,” Peter agreed, still smiling.




“I don’t. Stay back.” Stiles shook his head, stepping back.




“Such a smart boy. A magnificent wolf. I knew you would be.” Peter chuckled. His tapping became louder, echoing in the garage.




“I’ll hit you. I did it before.” Stiles gripped the baton, fumbling for the button to make sure it was on.



“You did. You’re a vicious little thing,” Peter said proudly, practically preening.



“What are you doing?”



“Helping you. Isn’t that heavy?”





“I’ll take it. Then we can help Derek.”


“Help Derek. Have to help Derek.”


“Yes. Come along, little beta.”


“Not my alpha.”


Chapter Thirteen

Stiles woke up to an aching head and a tongue that felt two sizes too big for his mouth. It felt like that time when the anniversary of the deaths of his Mom and Scott had been too much and he’d raided his dad’s liquor cabinet to see if the remedy his dad used would do him any good.

At least he didn’t have the queasy stomach.

“Good, you’re awake, sweet boy,” Peter purred from next to him.

Oh, look, nausea, right on queue.

“What the fuck,” Stiles managed to get out while struggling to sit up. He realized he was in the passenger seat of his Jeep. Peter was driving.

“You make things so much more difficult than they need to be, little wolf,” Peter said in a mild complaint. “I had to work so much harder than I should have had to get control of you and get us on our way.”

“Take control of me?” Stiles felt his stomach swoop and swallowed back the bile that rose in his throat.

“Yes, of course,” Peter said. He flicked the blinker on and turned the Jeep down a side street. “You were taking too long just standing around at the hospital and we have things to do.”

“Things to do?” Stiles couldn’t wrap his mind around what was happening. He felt like he was going a little crazy himself currently and wondered if it was possible to get out of the Jeep right at that moment.

“We aren’t going to get very far if you keep repeating what I’m saying.” Peter glanced over at him. “I hope I didn’t damage your mind too much. I do value your intelligence, you know. You just need to learn to use it for your alpha and not against me.”

“You aren’t my alpha,” Stiles said instantly. He realized that, at least, was still accurate and relaxed a little internally.

“Not yet,” Peter conceded with a nod. “But you’ll soon see that you have no choice in the matter. As I said, you are a brilliant boy.”

“Where are we going?” Stiles asked. He’d managed to pull himself up fully and, even though his head felt like it was about to crack open and spill his brain out, he felt a little more in control of himself.

“We, dear boy, are going to rescue the fair maiden.” Peter grinned at him with far too many teeth. The crazed gleam was still shining in his eyes and Stiles felt fear settled firmly in the pit of his stomach. “Or rather, we are going to rescue our dear Derek and kill Kate Argent.”

“Oh boy,” Stiles said. Drawing a deep breath, he leaned back against the seat as Peter took a turn a little too sharply. He didn’t use the blinker this time, either. “Do you know where we’re going?”

“No, but you do.” Peter looked over at him before pulling into one of the parking areas for the walking trails in the preserve. He parked the Jeep and turned to Stiles. “Why don’t we get out? You can tell me how to find my nephew. I won’t even make you come with me to kill the Argent bitch.”

“I feel like there’s a catch in this somewhere,” Stiles said. He was already getting out of the Jeep, though he wasn’t sure what he could do against an alpha wolf that had already proven that he could exert some level of control over Stiles when he wanted to.

“Because you are a smart young man.” Peter came around the hood of the Jeep with Stiles’ laptop. “Now, I see you have this little program that will show me where Derek is at.”

“I want to know that catch to not going with you first,” Stiles said.

“Oh, it isn’t much of a catch.” Peter grinned at him. “If you’re not going to join my pack, I’m going to have to find other members. I think that the sheriff or any number of deputies of this fine town will be a good candidate .”

“You can’t,” Stiles objected, horrified at the thought of this man getting a hold on the men and women in the department.

“I can and I will.” Peter tilted his head. “Actually, now that I think of it, even if you do come with me, I will need more packmates and your police department is a ready-made pack for me to choose from.”

“I’ll see you dead one day,” Stiles swore.

“Not anytime soon, dear boy,” Peter replied dismissively. “Now find my nephew.”

Stiles pulled his phone out of his pocket. Internally, he was surprised that Peter hadn’t taken it away. He set it next to the laptop. Logging into the program, he brought up Derek’s location and saw that he hadn’t moved.

“He’s at the old Hale house,” Stiles said, turning to look at Peter. “He was there earlier when I checked. He hasn’t moved in the last…” Stiles looked at the time. “Three hours at the least.”

“Good,” Peter purred. “You’ve been a great help, dear boy.”

“Sure,” Stiles said. “You aren’t going to go bite the Sheriff’s department, are you? That doesn’t seem like a good way to keep under the radar at all.”

“Maybe, maybe not.” Peter shrugged. “If you aren’t willing to be my beta, then I do need to find others.”

“You are insane,” Stiles said. He knew this, but it was still baffling that Peter was this insane and still walking around looking completely normal.

“Well, I have things to do, places to go.” Stiles saw Peter reaching for him out of the corner of his eye and he tried to move back.


Waking up with a headache was getting very old. Stiles rolled over, gravel and dirt shifting under him. He lay on his back for a minute and stared up at the night sky. What had he done in a past life to deserve this?

It was a good thing he was a werewolf now, he thought. All these head injuries he’d been getting in the last few days would not have been good for his poor human brain. He wasn’t entirely convinced that they were any better for his new werewolf brain, either, but he was going to ignore that for now.

Groaning, he dragged himself to his feet. Werewolf healing was great and all, but he noticed that he stayed pretty sore when he got hurt. Derek swore up and down that it would stop happening after his first full moon. Stiles wasn’t sure if he believed that or if Derek, the born werewolf, was just talking out his ass. He guessed he’d find out in another week or so.

He saw his phone on the ground a few feet away and headed towards it. He crossed his fingers and pushed the power button. When it flashed on, he sighed with relief. It looked like he’d only been out about thirty minutes this time. He looked around the parking area and, to his shock, he saw that his Jeep was still there.

He paused and searched the area with his senses more thoroughly. He still wasn’t particularly good at it, but he should be able to detect Peter if he was still nearby. The only scent Stiles got, though, was a fading scent disappearing into the preserve in the direction that he thought went towards the Hale house.

Stiles knew that he would have to head that way as well. He didn’t care if Peter killed Kate, not really. He just didn’t trust that Peter wouldn’t kill Derek while he was at it. Stiles was also aware that there might be severe repercussions if Peter killed Kate on this murderous rampage. He also wasn’t interested in letting Peter loose on the Sheriff’s department with his infectious non-consensual biting.

Peter was going to have to die; he was too crazy to let live. If Stiles knew of someplace that could safely hold him, he’d be all for incarceration, but he was unaware of werewolf jail. So, execution it was.

He hoped that Derek was up for the task because Stiles didn’t want to be alpha. He didn’t know that Derek would be a better alpha, but at least he could vote right now.

Stiles walked over to his Jeep and realized the problem when he got there. His keys were laying on the ground, crumpled so badly that Stiles had no hope of straightening them out, even with his new strength, not without snapping them. Stiles looked in the open door of his Jeep and saw that at least the asshole hadn’t ransacked it. He reached into the back seat and pulled out his running duffle and beneath the sweaty shorts and t-shirts until he got to the bottom and the box with the carved flower on it. Flipping it open, he saw that it was still mostly full of those deadly bullets. He dug back into the bag and pulled out the gun he’d taken from his dad’s safe. Stiles loaded the gun, glad to see he’d been right about the caliber. If Derek didn’t kill Peter, Stiles would need all the advantages that he could get. If it came down to it, a bullet was a bullet and would kill a hunter just as well. Stiles made sure that the safety was on before slipping it into the pocket of his jacket.

He studied his Jeep again and then knelt and reached under the wheel well on the driver’s side, feeling around for a minute until he found the heavy-duty magnetic box. Pulling it out with a jerk, he shook it and heard the rattle of his spare key. With a grim smile, Stiles tossed his duffel into the back again and got the Jeep started up. He sighed in relief, grateful that Peter hadn’t done more than destroy his keys.

As he drove, Stiles considered how he wanted to approach this. He knew that Peter was probably already at the house and, while he didn’t know if Kate was there or not, he imagined that she was. She seemed the type to want to take advantage of not being noticed in the preserve late at night.

He couldn’t park close to the house, or somebody would hear him. What he’d do when he got there, he had no idea. Rescue Derek, that was priority one, and after that, he didn’t know. He supposed it depended on how Derek took it when he revealed Peter’s role in the current events. No matter what happened, Derek wasn’t going to stop Stiles from shooting Peter if Derek couldn’t step up and do what he’d promised to do with the alpha.

He was at the end of the long drive to the Hale property when he pulled into the trees. He hid his Jeep off the road in the dark cover of the trees and brush. Climbing out, he grabbed the spare baton that Peter hadn’t noticed from the back of the Jeep next to the spare tire and headed towards the house, looping the baton strap around his wrist as he went. Stiles kept his ears open, and he scented the air using his senses the best he was able to. He smelled Peter, but he couldn’t pinpoint where he was. He could smell Derek, though, and he knew that he was in the house. He could also smell Derek’s blood and more electricity than what his baton was giving off. That brought a frisson of fear to his gut.

Chapter Fourteen

Stiles crept up to the house as silently as possible, making his way up onto the porch. Stiles winced with each creak that the wood made under his feet. Redoubling his efforts at stealth, he entered the house, Immediately, his nose wrinkled with the stench of old ashes, sorrow, and death. He scented Derek underneath the miasma of death and followed where the scent trail led.

“Where else but the basement of the burned-out house,” Stiles muttered to himself, looking down the dark hole where a door used to stand. Sighing, he jumped down, skipping what were undoubtedly loudly creaking stairs.

Listening, he only heard one heartbeat. He also heard the snap and crack of electricity. He hoped that the heartbeat he heard was Derek’s and that no one was dead down here. At least, that no one was newly dead down here.

He made his way down a long hallway, past rooms set up like cells, with bars and chains visible through the open doors. Derek had said that they’d spent the full moons down here until everyone could control their shift. He imagined they kept those that had control issues separate to keep everyone safe. He also suspected that these cells had become their tombs on the night of the fire.

Light spilled out of a room at the end of the hall and he cautiously made his way to it. He poked his head around the doorway. Only by force of will did he keep himself from dashing into the room without checking. Derek hung suspended on a large section of chain link fencing. Shackled and stripped down to his jeans, like some modern-day porn version of the crucifixion. All that was missing was a busty Mary Magdalene showing up to offer him some comfort.

Stiles shook his head at those disturbingly nightmarish thoughts. A few seconds later, there was a buzz and a snap. Derek’s body arched as electricity traveled through the fence and into him.

“Motherfucker,” Stiles whispered. He moved into the room, eyes wide as he looked around. He spotted the generator that was feeding the shock fence and moved towards it. With a few quick jerks, he managed to unhook the wires.

He turned to Derek. “Hey.”

“Stiles,” Derek lifted his head and stared at him, his expression somewhat dazed and pained. “You need to get out of here. She’ll be back soon.”

“I’m sure she will,” Stiles agreed. “Which means we need to get you out of here.”

“You need to go,” Derek glared weakly. Sweat dripped from his hair, and his body shook with tremors.

“I met the alpha.” Stiles ignored Derek and looked around for something to get the shackles off him. “He’s an asshole, but we already knew that.”

“You saw the alpha?” Derek stared at him again, shocked enough to stop glaring.

“Yeah,” Stiles looked at Derek, debating. “He’s your uncle, Derek.”

“My uncle?” Derek looked even more dazed if possible. “I don’t have any uncles.”

“Your Uncle Peter,” Stiles clarified as he came across some wire snips. He didn’t want to think about what the hunters used them for in this makeshift torture dungeon. “The one that was in a coma but really wasn’t.”

“What,” Derek said, shock echoed quietly between them.

“Question marks, Derek. We’ve talked about this dude,” Stiles said, walking towards him. He eyed the shackles that were holding him up and decided to do one of his feet first. Stiles snipped at the shackle on his foot, and then he did one of his hands. He continued until Derek was free, dropping the snips to catch Derek as he fell forward when he made the last snip on his arm shackle.

“I got you,” Stiles said, easing him down. “We don’t have much time to linger here. Your uncle was on his way to kill Kate.”

“Uh, okay?” Derek seemed like he still didn’t know what to think.

“He’s either going to recruit you or kill you. I don’t think he’s decided yet. He’s insane, Derek. Like, full-on belongs in the looney bin insane,” Stiles said. “He purposely brought your sister here with the intent to kill her if she didn’t go along with his plan to kill everyone that had to do with the fire. I’m fairly sure he always planned to kill her.”

“He killed Laura?” Derek whispered.

Stiles began to lead Derek out of the basement. He kept his ears open for the sounds of returning hunters or Peter coming around. He needed to get Derek back to the loft and healed up. If he could get them just one more good day, maybe he could get Derek in a better place so he could kill Peter.

Who the hell was he kidding? Derek was never going to be in a good place to kill his last remaining relative, no matter how crazy cakes Peter was.

“Come on, Derek. Let’s get back to the loft and we can talk about it, okay?” He got Derek up the basement stairs and they were just as creaky as he thought they would be. Getting into the open area of the house made it easier to get Derek moving. They were to the front door quickly after that.

Stiles was about to breathe a sigh of relief when he made it onto the lawn when Peter melted out of the shadows.

“Look at you, little wolf,” Peter said, smiling with all of his teeth. “You’ve rescued our packmate.”

“We aren’t your pack,” Stiles said with finality. He ignored Derek’s soft whimper at the sight of Peter.

“Well, you’ve certainly made yourself clear,” Peter smirked. “Don’t you think that Derek should have a chance to speak for himself?”

“Why do you want him?” Stiles asked, keeping a tight grip on Derek.

“He’s my family. My last remaining family,” Peter said beseechingly. “Just because he played a part in the demise of most of our pack doesn’t mean I’d deny him a place in my pack.”

“He’s not responsible for any of that, Peter,” Stiles hissed out. “You killed Laura. Derek’s done nothing wrong.”

“Regardless, I want him as my packmate.” Peter turned his gaze to Derek and smiled. “What do you say, nephew? Come with me, we can create a new Hale pack.”

Derek wobbled on his feet next to Stiles. Stiles felt his heart crack when Derek glanced at him and part of him couldn’t even blame Derek. No matter what Peter had done, no matter what Peter was now, he was still all Derek had left that connected him to his family.

“I’ll be pack, Uncle. Of course, I will,” Derek whispered, he crossed the yard to Peter.

Stiles stayed where he was at watching them. He felt his eyes shutter when they both turned to look at him. “Good luck with that,” he said to Derek, ice coating his words.

“You don’t understand, Stiles,” Derek said. “He’s family, and I need an alpha. So do you, you should…”

“No, thank you, Derek,” Stiles snapped out. “You know I will never follow that raping asshole of an alpha.”

“We’ll leave you to become an omega then,” Peter said with another of his toothy grins. He turned away; Derek gazed sorrowfully, his eyes slightly glazed, at Stiles one last time before following his uncle, still limping.

Stiles slowly pulled the gun out of his pocket and carefully aimed. He was too late. Peter was already in the trees and Stiles wouldn’t risk hitting Derek. Stiles put the gun away. He made plans to keep it on him at all times. He wouldn’t lose his chance next time. He headed back to his Jeep.

He knew that things were going to come to a head sooner rather than later. Kate wasn’t going to be happy to find Derek gone when she returned. Peter would go after her soon and, despite what had just happened, Derek wasn’t going to be satisfied following a crazy Peter for very long. Crazy Peter could attack Derek anytime he decided that Derek was responsible for the fire, something that seemed to change from moment to moment.

Driving home, Stiles tiredly wondered what his next steps should be. He headed up to bed as soon as he got in. He didn’t even undress. He slipped the gun under his pillow. No matter how unsafe it might be, he wanted it there in case crazy cakes came in through his window while he slept.

Chapter Fifteen

Waking up late the next day, he lay in his bed for a long while just staring at his ceiling, wondering for the first time if he would survive this. It didn’t seem likely, but he was determined to take Peter Hale with him.

“Hey Scottie, hope you reserved a good spot up there for me. I might be needing it sooner than we thought,” he murmured to his ceiling. He hefted himself out of bed and grabbed some clean clothes before heading for a quick shower.

Once cleaned and dressed, he moved the gun from under his pillow to the pocket his leather jacket and headed downstairs. He picked his cell up from the table next to the door and saw a text from his dad telling Stiles that he was catching some sleep at the station before heading over to the neighboring city of Beacon Valley for a couple of days for court testimony. Stiles answered with an affirmative and told his dad that he loved him.

He ate a quick breakfast before he headed out, deciding to hit the loft first. He needed to talk to Derek and that was a good place to start looking for him. Joining up with his uncle had to be one of the stupidest things that guy had ever done and Stiles needed to tell him so. Loudly.

He drove through town, going over what he had to say in his head. He barely paid attention to the traffic lights and stop signs. He hit the empty stretch of road that had the preserve on the left side and the warehouse district on the right. A vehicle passed him, but Stiles didn’t pay much attention until it slammed on its breaks in front of him, causing him to swerve to avoid the car. Another SUV clipped him from behind as he swerved, spinning him halfway around. Yet another hit caught him in the driver’s side.

Stiles lay in the driver’s seat bleeding from his forehead, dizzy with pain. He glanced out the window and saw those familiar black SUVs surrounding him. It didn’t take a genius to guess that they were hunters. He managed to drag himself over to the passenger door, the only side that looked free of vehicles and people. He popped it open. He made it out by luck alone, grunting softly when he hit the ground and rolling under his Jeep. The SUV behind him was high enough off the ground that he could shimmy under that as well.

“Hey, where is he?”

“How the fuck should I know?”

“He should be here; that Jeep wasn’t driving itself.”

“The passenger’s side door is open.”

“Find him. Now!” Kate demanded.

The only voice that Stiles recognized was Kate’s. Kate was hunting for him. Whether she knew that he was a werewolf or not, he didn’t know, and honestly, he didn’t care at this point. He shimmied out from under the vehicle, keeping it between him and the hunters.

He had two choices. He could go into the preserve or he could go into town. Either way, Kate would hunt him. He knew that where Kate went, Peter was following. Considering his options, going into the preserve was his best bet.

He took a deep breath and slid from under the vehicle, rolled to his feet, and ran. He didn’t look back.

“There he is.”

“The woods.”

“Get him.”

The pop-pop of gunshots going off had him ducking his head and swerving to the side as he hit the tree line.

“Don’t shoot, you idiot. We want him alive.” Kate again, and she sounded pissed. “He’s our bait for Hale and Hale is our bait for the alpha.”

“Now what?”

“Now we hunt.”

“Get your gear. He’s one kid in the woods. This shouldn’t take long.” Kate ordered.

Maybe if they were chasing someone other than Stiles, but he’d spent a large portion of the last six years in this preserve. Running almost every day, learning the paths. The trees. He might not know every inch, but he knew enough.

Stiles ran. He hid and then he ran some more.

When Stiles hit the small creek that he’d found early on during one of his excursions, he knelt and drank a few sips of water. Careful not to overdo it.

He scanned the area with his hearing and heard the hunters moving far enough away that he wasn’t worried just yet. Stiles was quick to move on, though. Moving towards one of the groups, he listened in on their conversation. They didn’t suspect him of being a werewolf. They thought he was a sympathizer and there was some debate about whether he was a dupe being tricked by the evil werewolves or whether he was a willing accomplice to their treachery.

He pulled his phone out to see the time. It was late afternoon. At least his dad wasn’t home to worry about. He didn’t have any bars this far out in the preserve, so couldn’t call for help. Stiles shut the phone down to avoid the risk of it making noise if he suddenly moved out of the dead zone.

He kept them moving after him and it didn’t take a lot of work. He could stay ahead of them with no problem, but his attempts to cover his trail were hit or miss. They followed him around in circles. He’d caught a couple of them on sudden declines. Stiles was reasonably sure one of them broke his leg. Another, Stiles managed to lead right off a cliff. It was like being in his own action movie. Only terrifying. Stiles now had one of their rifles and two hunting knives.

“I will never want to be an action hero again,” he muttered to himself, tossing one of the knives.

Between the defense and martial arts classes taken, Stukes knew how to use knives in theory, but he’d never actually been in a fight outside of dealing with Jackson and that didn’t require weapons. He didn’t want to have to stab someone. The thought made him a little queasy. He was aware enough to know that he was more comfortable pulling the trigger of a gun at a distance than using a knife up close. Despite his discomfort, Stiles kept one of the knives in its sheath and hooked it to the waistband of his jeans. He wished he’d thought to wear a belt this morning.

Stiles had the advantage; Kate’s orders were to take him alive and the hunters he’d run into seemed to be following that order to the letter, though didn’t seem to have a problem with maiming him. Stiles was desperate to avoid being hurt. If he got hurt and they saw him heal, then the jig was up and he didn’t know if Kate’s no-kill order would last.

Eventually, Stiles made his way towards the Hale house. It was beginning to turn dark and he’d managed to put two more hunters out of commission with falling injuries and a hard knock to the head. Unfortunately, neither one was Kate, but you couldn’t have everything. He expected that one or two of the men that he’d taken out would rejoin the other hunters eventually. Stiles didn’t think Kate would allow a sprained ankle or minor fall to keep them out of the hunt. He found a small hiding spot where he could keep an eye out for anyone coming towards him close to the house and turned his phone back on. He made sure to keep the volume and vibration off, though. There was no sense announcing his presence after he’d tried so hard to hide it. He hoped that the hunters didn’t follow him too quickly to the house.

Stiles just wanted to go home.

Looking back to his phone, he saw that he had a text from Derek.

‘Stiles found your Jeep what happened.’

Stiles found himself rolling his eyes at that because if something had happened, it wasn’t like he could answer. It was a couple of hours old and he figured that Derek was probably even more worried by now. He hoped the guy hadn’t done anything too stupid. There were a few more texts in the same theme before they stopped altogether. Stiles bit his lip before deciding to risk it. ‘I’m fine for now, hunters hunting. Don’t be stupid.’

He hit send and held the phone tightly, waiting to see if a reply came through. Stiles wondered what he’d do if Derek didn’t respond. Then what he’d do if he did.

‘Where are you.’

Stiles stared at the text. He bit his lip until it bled. He let it heal while he thought of how to reply. ‘Doesn’t matter, not pack.’

He liked Derek all right, but they’d both made their positions clear last night. He still planned to scream and yell at Derek in person about his awful life choices. Derek had chosen to be in his Uncle’s pack and Stiles–Stiles just couldn’t. Stiles still planned to kill the bastard. He reached into the pocket of his jacket to touch the still unused gun. How he’d made it out of his Jeep and into the preserve without losing it, he had no idea, but he wasn’t going to question his luck.

“Fan out.” Kate’s voice startled him out of his thoughts. The hunters had arrived while he’d been distracted by Derek’s texts.

“He’s not here, Kate,” a man argued belligerently.

“Shut up, Dan, and do what you’re told,” Kate said, venom dripping from each word. “If the lot of you weren’t so incompetent, we’d already have both him and Hale.”

“Maybe if you’d secured Hale better, we’d have the alpha by now and be on our way out of this stupid town,” Dan muttered.

Stiles just barely made out what he said and winced.

“I think you need to be reminded of your place in our world, Dan,” Kate said, and Stiles was happy that he couldn’t see her right then. “You’re a soldier. Your job is to follow orders. If you can’t do that, what good are you to me?”

A shot rang out and there was a scream.

“Get him out of here,” Kate said. “It’s a shame he had a hunting accident. Lucky we are so close to town and the hospital.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Now, the rest of you. Fan out. I want the boy found. His luck can’t last forever.” Kate sounded like she headed up the steps and into the house.

Stiles had flinched back at the shot, holding himself still. Barely breathing, he listened to the men begin searching the yard and area around the house itself. He’d chosen his hiding place further back, so he felt secure for the moment. He decided that Kate Argent was just as insane as Peter Hale. They could start their own insanity club if they didn’t want to murder each other.

He looked down at the phone in his hand. Luckily, he hadn’t gripped it too tightly when the gunshot had startled him. He saw that Derek had texted back.

‘Stiles you are pack where are you’



He looked at the texts and wondered what went on in Derek Hale’s head.

‘You are Peters Im not I refuse’

Hopefully, that would remind Derek about what had happened the night before because it seemed the older wolf was having a bit of amnesia about it.

‘Peter is my uncle.’

‘Peter was Lauras uncle too.’ That might have been a low blow, but it was also true, Stiles thought, as he jabbed the keys with his response.

He kept an ear out to see if the hunters were moving any closer, but they seemed to be sticking to the house. Kate came out and ordered a few of them to head into town to get some food and the vehicles. She ordered some of the others to head to Stiles’house to see if he’d gone home.

He’d never been more grateful for his dad being out of town than he was right then.

‘He didn’t mean to said he wasn’t in his right mind.’

Stiles had to set the phone face down on his leg and close his eyes. He leaned his head back against the tree. The thing was, he knew that Derek wasn’t that stupid. He knew that Derek was just that desperate for the family connection.

“I knew that this was going to happen,” he muttered to himself before picking his phone back up.

‘Believe what you want I won’t follow a bite rapist and a murderer.’ He sent his response and felt his heart crack a little more. He knew that Peter and Derek couldn’t be the only werewolves in the world and that he could possibly find another pack somewhere, but he’d hoped–well, he’d just hoped.

‘Bite rapist what does that even mean.’

‘I didn’t consent Derek I was attacked’

Stiles controlled himself enough not to punch through the phone as he typed his answer out.

‘Your uncle took what he wanted, did what he wanted and didn’t care about anyones consent I won’t follow an alpha like that.’

His phone didn’t light up again. Stiles eventually turned it back off and put it away. He turned his attention back to the house that had been crawling hunters. It looked like Kate had sent the majority of them away, now. If Stiles’ admittedly amateurishly trained senses were correct, only three people were on the property. One of those was Kate. He didn’t even sense anyone in the woods surrounding the area. He wondered if he missed something big while he’d been arguing or whatever he’d been doing with Derek. The hunters were all in the house.

Stiles crept a little closer so he could try to see and hear what was going on. It wouldn’t be safe to go home until they were out of the county. Hopefully, he could come up with something for Tara or his dad to arrest them like they had with the other group of hunters and Kate’s brother.

Stiles had a brief moment to wonder what would have happened at the gas station if he’d been anyone else. If he hadn’t been the kid who’d been raised by the sheriff’s department the last six or seven years since his mom and best friend had died and he’d been left without any outside childcare.

In the hunter’s defense, he doubted that they’d had such a quick and thorough show of force in the past. He’d guess that’s why the hunters had reacted the way they had instead of in a more controlled manner.

Then again, Kate and her hunters seemed to think they could go rampaging around the town and preserve with no care about who might see them. Did they really not care about the law? Were they able to buy their way out so easily?

‘No,’ Stiles thought as he made his way forward cautiously. ‘They probably use a mix of bribery and intimidation. If that doesn’t work, well, people die or disappear every day.’ He felt a shiver run through him. As crazy as Peter was, Stiles thought that hunters were the more significant threat. They seemed to have a mission and that was what was scary. They probably thought they were doing it all for the greater good, but they weren’t just going after werewolves. That would be bad enough, but they were also taking out local law enforcement. They had to be, there was no other way that their organization could work, not with the way Chris Argent had rolled into town, armed to intimidate, and Kate was running teenagers off the road and kidnapping people.

Stiles had just made it to the porch when his jacket snagged on the rail and jerked him out of his thoughts. He shrugged it off and tucked it between the porch and the scraggly bush that had somehow survived the fire and made an attempt at regrowth.

He didn’t want to go up the stairs. The creaking would give him away immediately. Stiles heard movement and went around the side of the house towards the noise to look into one of the windows. Reaching up, he put his fingers on the window sill and held himself up. Looking in, he saw Kate and one of the men. They were bent over a half-broken table, looking at what Stiles assumed was a map. Stiles focused his sight to try and make out what was on it and tried to channel his hearing towards the two inside. He had a moment to wonder where the third man was. A gun cocked behind him, and he felt the barrel nudge at the middle of his back. Fuck! Stiles had been focusing his senses inside the house so much he’d neglected his immediate surroundings.

“Found you,” the voice sang behind him.

“Lucky me,” Stiles managed to choke out past the sudden flood of fear welling up his throat. He turned around, slowly facing the man and his gun.

“Ms. Argent wants to see you,” he said. “Has some things to discuss.”

“I really have to get home,” Stiles said, smiling. “Dinner time, you know.”

“I’m sure it won’t take long.” The man reached out and grabbed Stiles by the shoulder to shove him towards the front door.

Stiles would have taken the opportunity to get away if he hadn’t glanced at the window and seen the two figures watching them. Two armed figures. Kate gestured to the other man and he left the window, obviously to come out and help bring Stiles into the house.

Stiles was positive that he was not going to enjoy the next few hours. He was under no illusions that once Kate discovered that he was a werewolf, she would kill him. How quickly he would die would depend on how useful she thought he would be.

“Stiles.” Kate smiled at him when he came into the room in front of two guns. “You’ve led me on quite a chase. You naughty boy, playing hard to get.”

“Well,” Stiles said with a careless wave of his hand. “I wouldn’t want to seem easy, you know. Bad for the reputation.” He sent her a look. “You’d know something about that, though.”

He’d never really been good at not pissing people off. Also, he figured she would kill him anyway, so why not say what he wanted to at this point.

“You have a smart mouth, don’t you?” Kate said, her smile fading. Her eyes narrowed as she walked forwards. She leaned into his space. “You’re going to regret that.”

“Maybe,” Stiles said with a shrug. “I regret a lot of things. Not as much as you should regret your dye job there, but, you know, I’m young yet.” He left the ‘unlike you’ unsaid. He figured it had more punch that way.

Kate definitely had more punch and it knocked the breath out of him when it landed in his gut.

“Take him to the basement. He can use Hale’s cell until he turns up,” she said, turning away from him as the men dragged him down into the basement.

They weren’t careful about dragging him down the stairs and, if Stiles hadn’t been a werewolf, he would have been seriously damaged. He figured he had until Kate came down for her first visit before she discovered his new species.

Goon One and Goon Two shackled him up on the fencing where he’d taken Derek down–Jesus fuck, was it only the night before? Stiles was too exhausted for this bullshit.

“Does this accommodation come with dinner, by any chance?” he asked when they finished locking the restraints. “Watching you run around the woods this afternoon really worked up an appetite.”

“You tell us where Derek Hale is and we might be able to get you something,” Goon One said, though it looked like it was physically hurting him to play at being Good Cop for this part of the evening’s entertainment.

“He gets nothing. He’s a wolf’s whore,” Goon Two, or Bad Cop, spat at Good Cop. “He tells us where Derek Hale is and maybe he gets out of here alive.”

“Wow.” Stiles looked at them with wide eyes. “You’re both very bad at this. For one, I’m not a whore – a wolf’s whore or otherwise – just an FYI there. Two, I have no idea where Derek Hale is right now. Your attempt to audition for a Mad Max movie interrupted my attempt to find him this morning. Maybe if you chuckle-heads had waited, but nope.” He shrugged as best as he was able to and smiled with false cheer at them.

“You little shit.” Good Cop, who was about to lose his title, stepped forward and caught Stiles with a backhanded blow across his face. “You’ll tell us where Hale is at or you’ll tell Kate, but you will tell someone. You can’t protect that animal forever.”

“You should never have thrown your lot in with those beasts, boy,” Bad Cop said with a nod, spitting on the floor and glaring at Stiles. “Come on, Win, we’ll leave him to the princess.”

“You shouldn’t call her that,” Good Cop muttered as they turned to leave. “You know she hates it.”

“Well, she shouldn’t act like it then,” he replied, shrugging.

“She just shot Dan. You should watch out, Ken,” Win cautioned.

“Yeah, yeah,” Ken said. Their voices faded out as they went down the hall and Stiles heard them stomping back up the stairs out of the basement.

“Fuck,” he muttered, banging his head back against the metal fence a few times. He didn’t want to die. Stiles hoped he could get himself out of this, but it wasn’t looking so good at the moment. The cuffs were resistant to his attempts at breaking he didn’t know if the hunters made them special for werewolves or if there was something wrong with him, but he was stuck and had no way to get out.

At least he couldn’t give Derek up, since he didn’t actually know where Derek was . On the other hand, Peter wanted Kate, so he figured that Peter and Derek would be showing up soon. Peter didn’t strike Stiles as the type to put off his kill list.

Chapter Sixteen

Stiles didn’t know how long he hung there before Kate made her way down to him. He’d begun singing his way through the most annoying songs of the last year. He’d just finished a rousing edition of ‘Only Girl in the World’ and had started on ‘Peacock’ when Kate entered the room.

“Would you shut up?” Kate bit out before she even set her gun down on the table with what Stiles assumed were their torture tools. “You are more annoying than anyone I’ve ever met.”

“Considering that you creep around high schools so much, I don’t see how that’s possible,” Stiles said, “but okay.”

“You think you’re smart, don’t you, kid?” Kate peered at him like he was some sort of unknown specimen. “So very clever.”

“You aren’t the first person to say that to me., Not even the first one this week.” Stiles gave her a smirk and a nod. “I suppose it must be true, then.”

“Not smart enough to stay away from Derek Hale, though,” she said, turning back around to pick up various instruments on the table, holding them up to the light, and setting them back down before moving on to the next one.

“He’s a friend,” Stiles said with a nonchalant shrug that rattles the fence and his shackles. His shoulders were beginning to ache, and he couldn’t imagine the pain he might be in if he were still human. He knew what she was doing, but that didn’t make her technique any less intimidating or terrifying. “I don’t have so many of those that I’m going to kick one to the curb because he’s a little different.”

“A little different?” Kate turned and stared at him. “Oh, honey. He’s not a little different. He’s a beast. He’d as soon tear you apart as look at you.”

“Well,” Stiles rolled his eyes. “I haven’t had a problem with that, maybe because I’m not trying to kill him. Most people are funny that way, though.”

“They are beasts and they need to be put down. They are dangerous to all of us.” Kate’s eyes had the fanatical light that Stiles recognized from documentary footage he’d seen of world war two and the civil rights movement. He figured that was about right. The hunters would fit right in with the white supremacists around the world.

“Yeah, I haven’t seen Derek be a danger to anyone,” Stiles said dismissively.

“What about these murders,” Kate said. “We know an alpha is killing. Our men saw a beast with red eyes near the site of the second murder. We also saw Derek Hale give you a ride home.”

“Then you know that Derek isn’t this alpha,” Stiles said, making sure to convey how much he wasn’t impressed with her arguments.

“Well, if you aren’t going to help me out of the goodness of your heart,” she said, coming forward with what looked to be a very sharp knife. “If you won’t just do what is right, what I’ve asked you so nicely to do,then I guess I’ll have to persuade you.”

“You are a very creepy old lady,” Stiles said. He kept the fear out of his voice by the skin of his teeth. He refused to let her know how terrified he was. One cut with that dagger and she would know what he was. He gave a brief thought to his chances of survival after that.

“You are an annoying kid,” Kate said, then she proceeded to cut the shirt off of him.

He was suddenly extremely glad he left his jacket outside. He liked that thing; it was leather and Tara had gotten it for him for Christmas just last year. He supposed if he died here, it wouldn’t matter, but he was still glad it wasn’t getting diced up by Edwina Scissorhands.

“You know, you’re a little old for me,” Stiles said, trying to bite back the terror as Kate leaned forward, pressing the edge of the blade to his bare skin. “Also, I’m not really into this kind of thing, especially without discussion and establishing proper safe words. Safe, sane, and consensual, you know. You’re uh, failing on all points here.”

“Shut up,” Kate said. “Tell me where Derek Hale is and how to get in touch with him.” She pressed the blade hard enough that Stiles felt it separate the skin, and blood began to trickle down. The knife must have been razor-sharp because the sting of the cut didn’t come until a few seconds later.

“You just told me to shut up,” Stiles said, grinning through the pain. “Might want to make up your mind.”

Kate pulled the knife away and went to slice again. She paused, and Stiles closed his eyes.

“Well, well, well.” Kate was smiling when Stiles opened his eyes to look at her. “This is interesting, isn’t it.” She paced in front of him, eyeing him like he was the grand prize at a carnival, and she’d just won.

Stiles just looked at her. “I’ve always been interesting.”

“You’re a werewolf. Oh, this is fantastic. It answers so many of my questions,” she murmured. She looked dazed and terrifyingly delighted. “We should have known. No one normal would willingly hang out with Derek. You’re a monster just like he is.” She stared at him, obviously in thought.

“I wouldn’t call myself a monster.” Stiles sniffed disdainfully before he drawled, “I haven’t killed anyone. More than any of you can say, I’d bet.”

“The question is, have you always been a werewolf?” Kate was quite obviously ignoring Stiles’ words, even while she squinted at him. “I don’t think so. Which means the alpha bit you.” She turned her very creepy smile on him. “And that means the alpha will be coming for you since you’re his very special beta.”

“Nope.” Stiles popped the word and continued without remorse, “I rejected him. Sorry to burst your bubble, but I try not to associate with crazy people. Kinda why I’m trying to get away from you. Well, that and you want to kill me, now.”

“He’s your alpha.” Kate waved away Stiles’ denial. “He’ll come for you and, when he does, we’ll be ready.”

She turned to the generator and flipped it on. “We’ll need to use this, though, to keep you nice and docile until he shows up.”

Stiles gritted his teeth as the first wave of electricity surged through him. He still didn’t regret using the baton on Peter, but he thought he might start looking for an alternative weapon if he made it out of this alive.

“Now, just relax for me,” Kate smiled. “Tell me how to find your alpha and I can stop all this.”

“I don’t have an alpha,” Stiles ground out through another wave of pain. “I already told you that. Do I need to use smaller words or speak slower?”

“You have such a smart mouth. Think you’re so smart,” she hissed at him. “You’re just a little baby beast. You don’t have any idea, do you? Your alpha will have to come. We’ll just make sure that you’re in enough pain that you howl for him. He won’t be able to help himself.”

“I’ve never howled in my life,” Stiles said as deadpan as possible while his nervous system stuttered with pain. “Unless you mean laughter? I thought we were supposed to be wolves, not hyenas. But, hey, you’re supposed to be the expert.” He paused while she hit a button that sent an extra jolt through him. “How does that work? How do you get to be an expert on them when what you really are is just a mass-murdering rapist?”


Stiles tasted blood almost before he felt the pain of Kate’s fist. He spat a mouthful of blood on the floor. He’d bitten his tongue. “Can’t take the truth there, Katie cat?” He smiled, sure the blood on his teeth made for a ghoulish image.

“You are a beast,” she snapped at him. “I should have seen it.” She picked the knife up from where she’d laid it on the generator and moved towards him. “I should just end you now.”

“Probably,” Stiles agreed, spitting out some more blood, less this time. He felt his tongue healing, slower than usual, but healing. “Does it make you feel strong? All big and powerful to kill others while they’re tied down? Chained up? To burn them in their homes that you’ve locked them in. It seems pretty cowardly to me, but then again, you were the one that brought three vehicles to take out my Jeep when you thought I was one measly human teen. So, I guess courage and bravery aren’t really among your attributes.”

Kate’s eyes were blazing with what Stiles could only classify as some high-level crazy and burning hate. She raised the knife.

“Kate!” Panicked shouts poured down the hall and into the cell where the two of them were.

“Kate! You better get up here!” There were a couple of loud thuds and a crack before it was silent again

Kate had paused, her head turned towards the doorway. Her hand didn’t shake from where she held it in the air while she waited. When the voices didn’t call again, she turned back to him, her eyes wide and wild.

The house shook with a roar. An Alpha roar. Peter.

“I told you he’d come,” Kate’s smile reminded Stiles a little too much of Harley Quinn’s in those comics where she was about to run after her Mr. J.

She plunged the knife into his shoulder. He let out a garbled shout, bucking against the pain in his shoulder and the electricity still running in the fence. The wound wouldn’t heal with the knife still in his shoulder and the electricity was slowing his healing down in more. It wasn’t stopping his abilities from trying, though.

“Hold on to that for me, sweetie,” she said, turning away to grab a couple of guns from the table in the back. “I’ll be right back after I take care of your alpha.”

Stiles watched her storm out of the room through blurred vision. He heard her make her way down the hall and up the stairs. He didn’t hear anything else in the rest of the house and he wasn’t sure if that was the electricity numbing his senses or if Peter had killed the other hunters and was lying in wait for Kate.

He didn’t think she’d be that easy to take out, but he did believe that they were both overconfident about their ability to take out the other. Peter would have the advantage right now since Kate still didn’t know who the alpha was.

He lifted his head when he heard footsteps rushing down the hall towards his cell.

“Stiles.” Derek burst into the room. “Fuck.” He made his way to the generator first and turned it off before turning to Stiles and looking at him hanging in the shackles.

“So, you and your Uncle came to get your revenge,” Stiles said, his voice quiet. He had little energy to deal with Derek right now. He didn’t have the strength to give Derek the reproachful shouting match he felt was deserved and he was still feeling betrayed from the night before. “Why are you down here, Derek? I’m not going to join Peter. One of us will be dead before that happens.”

Derek just looked at him. He reached up and jerked the knife out of his shoulder. Stiles let out a hiss of pain, too tired to even cry out again. Derek glanced around and grabbed a set of snips off a table and snapped the shackles quickly with steady hands. Stiles watched him and thought back to when he’d rescued Derek, feeling something almost like déjà vu.

“You’re right, Stiles,” Derek said softly, helping Stiles off the fence. He tilted his head suddenly. “Hurry. We have to get up there.”

“Wait, what do you mean I’m right?” Stiles said, wobbling on his feet and leaning on Derek grateful for his sturdy presence. He’d be mad at him again in a minute.

“My uncle is completely insane,” Derek looked pained as if someone had reached in, torn his heart out, stomped on it, and shoved it back in. “I thought I could just…I don’t even know, but I can’t.”

“I don’t know what to tell you, Derek,” Stiles said after a moment of silence. “I think your uncle is completely crazy and I have little sympathy for him.”

“I know,” Derek said with a nod.

“I do have some sympathy for you, though,” Stiles said. “I know this has to be tearing you into pieces and I am sorry for that. I wish I knew what to tell you to do. You’re still a jackass for going with him.”

“I don’t think there is anything that you can say to make this any better or any easier,” Derek said with a shrug and a nod to acknowledge Stiles’ words. “I left Peter this evening shortly after texting you. I don’t even know why I was trying to convince you to join. I already knew that it was wrong when I walked away with him. It just felt like I didn’t have a choice.”

Stiles tilted his head at that and thought about it, going over what he’d learned about werewolves in the short time he’d known about them. Between Derek and his online pal, Art, he was still woefully under-informed, but he’d managed to pick out a few pieces of information that might be applicable here. “Your uncle had the Hale spark, right?”

“He killed…” Derek trailed off, swallowing harshly, looking away, and then back. “Yeah, he’s got the Hale spark.”

“You’ve always been a Hale beta, right?” Stiles asked, testing out his theory.

“Yes.” Derek nodded. “Mom and then Laura. I’m still a beta now, but if I don’t find an alpha soon, I’ll become an omega.”

“Don’t you think that since you’ve always been–let’s say–attuned to the Hale spark, you’d respond to it automatically, especially if a family member wields it. Given time to think, you can’t be held to it if you don’t trust the individual holding the spark, but initially?” Stiles asked. He shrugged and then winced when it pulled at his nearly healed shoulder. “Your uncle would probably know that. He managed some kind of mind control hypnosis thing with me the other night. Any ability to mindfuck someone seems to be something he’d be interested in.”

“It’s possible,” Derek said, frowning in thought. “It would make a certain amount of sense, I guess. I don’t know much about it; I wasn’t supposed to be anything but a beta. I was never interested in learning about anything more either.”

“Yeah,” Stiles nodded. “What do you want to do now?”

Derek sighed and looked out the door, he gestured. They started to head out.

“Uncle Peter is probably going to kill Kate. I don’t know how we’ll be able to stop him,” Derek said with a sigh. “No matter what we do about him, that’s going to cause trouble later.”

“I’m not worried about later at the moment, so let’s stick a pin in that,” Stiles said. “If we can stop him, it isn’t going to be any better.” Stiles shrugged at Derek’s look. “Hey, if we stop him, she’s just going to turn around and kill us. What are we going to do about him?”

“We have to put him down,” Derek said, his shoulders sagging as they made their way up the stairs.

Stiles heard shouting and gunshots coming from outside. He saw the savaged body of the hunter, Win, near the front door and grimaced.

“Ideally, Peter and Kate will take each other out,” Stiles muttered as he peered out the crack in the door. He saw that Peter and Kate were holding each other off at the end of the yard. He eased his way out the door.

“I don’t think we’ll have that good of luck,” Derek muttered from behind him.

“Me, either,” Stiles said. “Derek, is there a way to slow down my healing?”

“Yeah, but it takes some practice,” Derek said. “Or wounds from an alpha take longer. Why?”

“Because I think we’re going to need a reason why we’ve got our DNA all over the scene of multiple murders, especially with a torture chamber in the basement and no wounds on us.” Stiles shrugged at the look Derek gave him.

“Your mind is a strange place. Is this something you need to be thinking about right now?” Derek asked. “We might not even make it out of this alive.”

“I like to try and plan when I can,” Stiles said. “You get injured anymore, try not to heal too much. We might need to document them.”

“Sure,” Derek said, obviously baffled by Stiles. “I’ll do that. I’m going to draw the line at near-fatal injuries, though.”

“Sure, I’ll give those a pass,” Stiles said, still eyeing the combatants in the yard. “They’re coming this way.”


Derek stepped up beside Stiles and they watched as the other two moved. Almost like dancers. Kate would aim and shoot at Peter; he’d manage to evade most of them and then he’d take a swipe with his claws while in his beta shift. He’d obviously gotten at least one swipe in since she was bleeding, but not severely.

Stiles figured she was using regular bullets right now since Peter had a couple of grazes on him that were healing, blood showing on his dirty button-up shirt and slacks, but the wounds weren’t slowing him down at all.

While they were watching, two SUVs came careening into the yard. Derek stepped forward as if to protect Stiles from whoever was in the vehicles. Stiles thought it was kind of sweet but unnecessary.

The doors opened and Christopher Argent stepped out, his daughter, Allison, and his wife, Victoria, emerged from the other vehicle with two more hunters that hadn’t been at the gas station.

“Well, well,” Peter said. “The family is all here.” He took advantage of Kate’s momentary distraction and had her in his arms; his claws were at her throat mere seconds later.

“Aunt Kate!” Allison stepped forward, raising her bow.

“Ah, ah, ah,” Peter said. Kate let out a cry. “I wouldn’t want to kill Katie too quickly, now, would I?”

“Let her go, Hale,” Chris said. “This won’t end well for you. Not for any of you.” His gaze flicked over to Derek and Stiles on the porch.

“This isn’t my end, Chris,” Peter said. “This is hers. Isn’t it appropriate that her end comes where she ended so many other lives? So many innocent lives.” His eyes were glowing red; his mouth snarling the last words.

“The fire was an accident, Hale,” Victoria said. She looked bored standing there in her business suit and heels. “The investigation proved that. We all saw the report.”

Chapter Seventeen

“You know,” Stiles said, drawing everyone’s attention to him. He made his way down the porch, stepping to the side as Derek came down behind him. “Peter is crazy – and I mean seriously insane.” He twirled his finger around his ear. “Absolutely cuckoo for cocoa puffs. That being said, he’s not wrong. Kate Argent is responsible for the fire. The one that killed those in this house all those years ago. She’s also responsible for four other fires around the country in the last six years that I could link her to. That was just in the research I had time to do in the last week. If the pattern holds, there are probably more.”

“Kate.” Chris turned his disbelieving eyes from Stiles toward his sister, sounding shocked. “The Hales hadn’t broken the code.”

“They were animals,” she hissed. “Just look at them now.”

“Well, Peter is crazy,” Stiles acknowledged. He leaned down and picked up his jacket, glad to see that it hadn’t been discovered and trashed. He dusted it off and shrugged it on. He shoved his hands into his pockets, ignoring the look that Derek was giving him.

“What do you want, Hale?” Victoria asked, leveling her gun at him. She seemed to be ignoring Stiles and Derek altogether.

“I want my pack back,” Peter snarled. “Since that’s not possible, I want her to apologize. I want some justice. I want my vengeance!”

He jerked Kate around. “Apologize!” he roared into her face.

Stiles saw spittle fly and heard Kate whimper; her pretty face was terror-stricken.

“I’m sorry,” she managed to stutter out, all her easy confidence from before disappearing in the face of Peter’s rage.

“Not to me,” he said. “To her.” He turned her around by her neck and thrust her in front of him towards Allison. “Tell her how sorry you are that you destroyed an innocent family and broke the Argent’s precious code. Tell her how sorry you are that her Aunt whored herself out to get the secrets to do so.”

“Allison,” Kate whimpered and choked. “I’m sorry, so sorry.”

“Peter,” Derek said suddenly. “Peter, that’s enough.”

“No,” Peter said, looking at Derek and Stiles, his eyes haunted and mad. “It’ll never be enough.”

He turned back to Allison, Kate still in his grip. “Your apology is not good enough.”

With a wrenching movement of his arm and a sucking pop, he tore Kate’s throat out, spraying blood out onto Allison. She stared at Kate, then at Peter, and then she began to scream.

Distracted by Kate’s body as it fell, no one saw Peter change. He charged at Allison, but Victoria was there, her gun up and firing. She missed. He didn’t. His jaw clamped down as he bit hard on her shoulder. She fell back with a guttural cry. She kicked out, taking Peter in the stomach, knocking him back.

The other two hunters that had come in with them entered the fight to get to Victoria and Allison. Peter swatted them away like annoying little flies.

Derek looked at Stiles and nodded before heading into the fray. Stiles made his way over. He jerked Chris back and managed to thrust Allison at him while Derek got Peter’s attention on him.

“Get your daughter and your wife out of here. This is pack business now,” he said with a glare.

“If you think…” Chris began to say, even as his daughter sobbed in his arms.

“I think the Argents have done enough to the Hales,” Stiles said. “If you stay, I can’t promise that Peter won’t take out the rest of you. Derek will do his best, but he’s only a beta. Even with me helping, there are no guarantees.”

Christ stared at him and then nodded. He bundled Allison into the vehicle and then went back for his wife, but he didn’t drive away. He watched the fight between the two wolves.

Stiles stood at the edge of the yard, watching the fight. He wrapped his hand around the gun in his pocket, letting the weight of it comfort him. Derek was fighting hard, but Peter was an Alpha and his Uncle.

Stiles pulled the gun from his jacket, not taking his eyes off the two wolves fighting in beta shift.

Chris drew a sharp breath somewhere behind him, but Stiles didn’t have time to deal with him. If an Argent got in his way, there was a bullet in the gun for him, too.

Stiles slid into a shooting stance and aimed.

Peter tossed Derek to the ground, roaring into his face.

Derek lay flat on his back and he wasn’t getting back up.

Stiles flipped off the safety. Peter leaned over Derek, smirk evident even through his fangs and elongating muzzle.

Stiles pulled the trigger and took the shot.

Peter stiffened, his shoulder jerking forward.

Stiles fired again.

Peter turned, body jerking again as another bullet hit.

Stiles fired, steady. He breathed in and out, making each shot count.

Derek rolled over behind Peter and crawled to his feet.

Peter stalked towards Stiles, furious. His eyes were flaring red, his shift rippling over his skin.

“You dare. I am your Alpha!” His roar shook the clearing. He moved slowly towards Stiles, quicker with each step.

“Not my alpha,” Stiles replied, refusing to back down. He kept the gun level, but he’d allow Derek his chance.

Derek leaped at his uncle. He took Peter down and rolled him. Stunning Peter, he leaned over him. “Please don’t make me do this, Uncle Peter.”

“Finish it, nephew.” He grinned through bloody teeth, Stiles saw as he came closer. “If you don’t, I will make sure you regret it.”

Derek thrust his hand through Peter’s throat, tearing it out. Derek threw his head back, roaring. Coming back to himself, he flung the contents of his hand away. He shuddered.

Both Stiles and Derek watched the red glow fade from Peter’s eyes. Stiles looked at Derek and watched the blue bleed to red.

“I’m the Alpha now,” Derek whispered, sounding heartbroken, looking heartbroken.

Footsteps made Stiles turn and bring up the gun, aiming it at Christopher Argent. “I told you to take your family and go, Mr. Argent. You and your family have done enough damage. You aren’t wanted here.”

“How are you going to explain this? I can help with clean-up,” he said, his gaze sweeping the yard and the carnage around them.

Stiles doubted he was offering out of the goodness of his heart, though, and Derek didn’t need that. Neither did he.

“I’ve already got that covered,” Stiles said cuttingly. “We need nothing from you.”

It took Stiles another ten minutes to get the Argents to leave. Once they did, he turned back to Derek.

Derek was sitting on the ground, smoothing Peter’s hair; tears were falling silently. The red eyes had faded away.

“Derek,” Stiles said softly, coming up to him. “I think we need to talk about how we’re going to explain this.” He gestured to the clearing around them.

Derek looked up. “You have some idea or you wouldn’t have sent Argent away.”

“I think we should tell a couple of people on the force,” Stiles blurted out. He waved off Derek’s frown. “Not my dad. I don’t think he’d be a good candidate. But there are a couple of people who I think would be good allies and are high enough in the chain of command that having them know about this, about you and me, would be worthwhile.”

“You think that it will work?” Derek asked, looking around at Kate’s body, towards the house where there was at least one more body, probably two. “How do you know it won’t end as badly as this did?”

“I think it’s necessary right now,” he said. “Hopefully, we won’t need them for this kind of thing ever again, but they could come in handy if hunters decide to visit the town again. That is, if you’re staying?”

Derek looked around and then back at Stiles. “I think I want to stay here. I already have pack here, don’t I?”

“If you still want it now that you’re all big and fancy with your red eyes,” Stiles grinned at him as relief swamped him.

“You don’t have a problem with me being an alpha?” Derek asked with a tilt of his head.

“No, I think that you can be a good alpha if you’re willing to learn to be one now,” Stiles said, looking at him. “We’ll have to figure it out together. You’ll learn how to be an alpha, I’ll learn how to be a werewolf, and both of us how to be pack together. It’ll be interesting.”

“It’ll be something,” Derek agreed, moving to get up finally.

Stiles leaned over and gave him his hand, helping him up. “What do you say?”

“Go ahead and make your calls,” Derek said. “Hopefully, you’ll be right, and we can get this cleaned up without either of us in jail or dead at the end of it.”

“Your optimistic attitude could use some work, man,” Stiles grumbled at him.

Stiles made his calls. Tara Graeme came within an inch of either arresting them or committing them before finally believing them and agreeing to help. She suggested a couple of other deputies that she’d bring in, but she had Jordan Parrish at her side immediately. He seemed to take the reveal without more than a couple of extra blinks. He was new to the force and to Beacon Hills. It said a lot that Tara trusted him at her back so soon.

“We are having a long talk about all this later, Stiles,” Tara said, pulling him into a crushing hug. “I didn’t know I should have been worrying about you twice as much these last few weeks.”

“I’m fine,” he said and, at her look, he laughed a little. “I’ll be fine. Derek is looking out for me.”

“He’s had a harder time than we thought, huh?” she asked rhetorically, looking across the yard where Derek was giving his statement to Parrish. “Poor kid,” she murmured.

Tara had Parrish take statements from Stiles and Derek. She signed off on Stiles’ statement and let the other man take the lead on the scene. By the time they were done, the other men Tara had called in had arrived and were processing the scene.

“Go on home, Derek,” Tara said to the figure slumped against her cruiser. “And if you don’t mind, take Stiles with you, the sheriff is out of town tonight, and he’s exhausted.”

“Yeah, I can do that.” Derek straightened up, moving away from the door so that Stiles could unfold himself from the front seat where he’d been hidden behind the man’s bulk. “Come on.”

“Sure,” Stiles muttered, swaying on his feet before he found his balance. He nodded to Tara and followed Derek. “Where did you park anyway?”

Before Stiles knew it, he was walking into Derek’s loft, asleep on his feet, with dawn breaking in the sky through the wall of windows

Derek slid the door closed behind him and tossed the keys in the bowl on the table, his jacket going over a chair halfway between the living area and the kitchen.

“Now what?” Stiles asked, stifling a yawn, his eyes burning as he blinked himself awake.

“Take a shower and then go to sleep,” Derek ordered, making his way towards the kitchen and beginning to bang around in there.

“Sounds good,” Stiles agreed, stumbling his way into the bathroom. He slapped at the shower controls until they turned on and then he stepped under the spray.

Exhaustion sunk heavily into his bones and he realized that the last couple of weeks were finally beginning to catch up with him.

He shoved shampoo through his hair, thoughts turning sluggishly over in his mind. He’d been running nonstop since Peter’s attack. Now, he’d be able to sit back and breathe, figure out what came next for a typical soon-to-be high school graduate instead of a newly bitten werewolf. He rinsed quickly, turning off the water and stepping out to dry off.

It took him a full minute of staring before he realized that Derek had left clean clothes on the sink. Having missed Derek coming into the bathroom, his exhaustion had to be dulling his senses to a dangerous degree, and he could only be grateful that Derek was there to watch his back. He returned to the open area of the loft and didn’t see the newly minted alpha, but he heard Derek on the roof.

“Derek,” he called, shuffling his feet on the cold floorboards. “You need anything?”

“I’ll be down later,” Derek said. “Go to sleep. I’ll keep watch for a while.”

Stiles knew that there wasn’t anything to keep watch from, but he also knew that Derek had just killed his last remaining family member, and no matter how insane Peter was, Derek was going to need to process that. Stiles would give him some time before he stepped in.

“Don’t stay up all day,” he admonished, “You need your sleep too. Nobody wants you any bitchier than normal.”

“Go to sleep, Stiles,” Derek huffed, but it sounded like he was covering a laugh.

Stiles smiled and moved toward the bed. That would do for now. He fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. When he woke to the sunlight warming his face, he was being aggressively cuddled by Derek.

“Whu?” Stiles mumbled, rolling over to blink muzzily at the other man.

“You move too much in your sleep.” Derek yawned, cracking his neck. “It was either hold you like this or end up with a concussion.” He let go of Stiles and rolled away, getting out of bed.

Stiles blinked dazedly and followed after him. With more flailing and less grace, he made his way out of the bed, walked into the kitchen, and watched Derek flip on the coffee maker through bleary eyes. Derek must have set it up before they went to sleep that morning.

“At least the worst of it is over,” Stiles said, looking out the wall of windows as evening began to creep over the sky. He took the cup of coffee Derek handed him and wandered closer to the windows to look out over the preserve. “We just have to figure out what comes next.”

“I’ll get a job and you’ll graduate, go to college, and train.” Derek shrugged at Stiles’ look. “We’ll build our pack and live.”

“That sounds good, Alpha Hale,” Stiles agreed, turning his gaze back to the darkening sky. “I’m in.”

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