Intangible, Untamed, and Wild – 1/3

Title: Intangible, Untamed, and Wild
Author: Sibyl Moon
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Genre: AU, Romance, Supernatural
Relationship: Stiles/Derek
Word Count: 50K
Beta: keldjinfae 
Warnings/Rating: NC17, Canon-Typical-Violence, Discussion-Torture, Torture, Murder, Explicit Sex
Summary: Stiles is a wild thing born of storms and lightning, he’s been the guardian of Beacon Hills since Talia Hale abandoned it with her pack a decade ago. Derek is a newly made alpha returning to Beacon Hills with only the few that chose to follow him and he’s determined to make a home for his small pack.
Author’s Note: Halestrom is a fantastic and lovely artist who created such a wonderful piece of art that inspired me so much. I just adore it.
Artist: Halestrom

Chapter One

Something was coming. Someone was coming. They were coming.

Stiles heard the whispers on the wind and had tasted anticipation in the rain earlier. Walking the paths in the preserve, trailing fingers over the trunks of trees that had long become his friends, he worried at his lip with sharp teeth.

“Have you heard, little Stormbringer?” Hisashi, more smoke and shadow than substance, danced across his path before spinning shadows into the air and settling across Stiles’ shoulders in his fox form. Shadows continuing to drift off him like vapor from a winter grave.

Stiles hummed, acknowledging the void kitsune without answering as he continued down the path. Hisashi would either tell him what was going on, or he wouldn’t. Stiles had learned very little that could make Hisashi talk when he didn’t want to.

“We’re about to have guests,” Hisashi said, slipping down Stiles’ arm and taking human form to walk beside him, the hems of his robe brushing the ground with a soft swishing sound. “Or rather, intruders.” Hisashi tilted his head into Stiles’ line of sight, grinning, full of sharp teeth with chaos swirling in his dark eyes.

“Those are two very different things, Hisashi,” Stiles said, glancing at him before continuing on. “One means we set out the welcome mat and open the door. The other means we set out traps, wards and bury them beneath the floor.”

Hisashi threw back his head and cackled, birds bursting from cover as his laughter echoed around them, touched with the chaos he fed upon. “Perhaps I had too large a hand in your upbringing.”

Stiles felt his lips curve, and he bumped his shoulder against Hisashi’s. “So, door or floor?” He didn’t want to talk about who had more of a hand in his raising now.

“Well,” Hisashi said contemplatively, running slender fingers through his dark hair before flicking it over his shoulders. “If the rumors flying about are true, we should be cautious but not hostile.”

“Who is coming?” Stiles leaned down and slipped off his shoes, setting them next to a tree outside the nemeton’s clearing.

“My informants tell me that the Hales are returning.” Hisashi tucked his hands in the sleeves of his robe. His sandals already next to Stiles’ shoes. “Or just the new alpha and his infant pack.”

“New alpha?” Stiles ducked under the branches and entered into the clearing. He crossed to the small fountain and washed his hands and feet before stepping aside for Hisashi.

“It seems that one of Talia’s children accidentally became an alpha and needs his own territory because he wasn’t the heir, and he still isn’t meant to take the family spark.”

“Huh,” Stiles said, raising a brow. He didn’t ask where Hisashi got his information. The fox was always well informed about most of what was going on in the supernatural world. “Why here, though? The Hales abandoned Beacon Hills ten years ago and none of them have looked back, as far as we’ve been able to tell.”

“That’s probably why.” Hisashi shrugged; shadows trailing him as he stood looking around the clearing. “They disappeared after you saved them from that fire.”

“I’m not sure they knew I saved them…”

“If they’d done more than wring their hands and run away…” Hisashi sniffed, his disgust clear on his face. “I’d only been out of the nemeton a week and I knew what was happening.”

“Only because I told you,” Stiles said, amused despite himself. Memories of that night when he was fourteen, and the forest had pulled at him, when the wind had begged him, and the storms had hummed under his skin until he couldn’t stop himself from going into the forest and following where it all led. “And then you followed me.”

“I couldn’t let you go find chaos without me,” Hisashi said, grinning with his hands tucked into the sleeves of his robe. “I was starving.”

“Of course, you were,” Stiles said, smiling back at his friend. “I’m glad I was able to release you from the nemeton,” He paused, smirking. “Even if it was an accident.”

“Not an accident,” Hisashi corrected, pointing a long finger at Stiles. “A minor chaotic event.”

“Well, whatever you want to call it,” Stiles laughed, “I’m still glad. You’re my best friend, Hisashi.”

“Friend, bah!” Hisashi made a face. “I’m a thousand-year-old kitsune, the closest thing to a god you’re ever likely to meet, and you call me friend?”

“Aren’t you?” Stiles hid a smile by turning to the nemeton. He’d had this discussion with Hisashi just as often as the argument about the Hales before it. He preferred this one.

“I suppose you could label it as such,” He replied after a few moments of silence. “I can’t call you a servant and you refused to be my priest,” There was the distinct sound of a pout in Hisashi’s voice, “so friend will have to do.”

“I think friend is better than any of those other options,” Stiles said dryly. He held up a hand before Hisashi could get started on the perks involved with being a priest of chaos. “Besides, we both know I have too many other responsibilities here in Beacon Hills.”

“Yes, that is a good point,” Hisashi agreed. “I wonder what the Hales are going to think of the changes around here.”

“I guess we’ll find out soon,” Stiles said, shrugging as he stepped under the branches of the nemeton, letting his feet settle in the earth over the roots. “It doesn’t matter what they think in the end though. What’s done is done.”

“It could get messy.”

“You’ll get fat.” Stiles leaned in and gently set his forehead against the broad trunk, his hands pressed flat on either side of him. “Now, shush, I need to concentrate.”

“I’ll just stand over here and look pretty then, why don’t I?” Hisashi huffed.

Stiles felt it again, the storms brewing beneath his skin. The wind swirled around him, whispering secrets of the territory; all the things he’d felt on that night a decade ago. Back then, he’d been mourning the death of not just his mom but the closest thing he’d had to a teacher as well. He’d gone into the preserve half-trained and, if he was being honest, half-mad, following the pull of his magic, unable to deny it and not wanting to. Hisashi had trailed after him. He’d been another one of Stiles’ impulsive decisions regarding his magic during that time. Stiles couldn’t regret it, but looking back, he knew how badly releasing the imprisoned kitsune could have gone.

“You’re sparking.” Hisashi’s hand pressed against Stiles’ back.

“Memories,” Stiles murmured without opening his eyes. “Everything is feeling a little too familiar.”

Beware. He comes. He returns.

Stiles coughed, tasting ash and poison in the back of his throat: the flavor of the Argents. He’d tasted it a few times over the years, never so strong as the night of the Hale fire, but it often skirted the edges of his territory. Stiles knew the hunter family had questions about the death of their princess. No one outside of the mundane world believed that she died of an opportune lightning strike before she could do more damage to the Hales that night.

It seemed that the Argents had grown tired of circling Beacon Hills. Stiles wasn’t sure if this was because they’d discovered something or if they were following this accidental Hale alpha. He decided it didn’t matter. The Hales and the Argents, both back in the territory again, would bring nothing but trouble. The Hales and the Argents had drawn their lines long before Stiles had ever stepped onto the field. Stiles wondered how it would play out here now that this was his territory.

“Oh, this is going to be lovely. I can tell,” Hisashi said, the weight of his hand disappearing only to be replaced by the feeling of him settling his fox form across Stiles’ shoulders once again. “I don’t know what you’re thinking, but from the look on your face? This will be a feast indeed.”

“I don’t know about that,” Stiles said, standing straight and opening his eyes. “This could devolve into war between the Argents and the rest of us.”

“Those assholes?” Hisashi twitched around Stiles’ shoulders, his face coming around until they were nose-to-nose. “I despise the Argents only slightly less than I do the kin-betrayer.”

“I’m aware,” Stiles replied, turning from the nemeton. He dusted his hands off against his jeans. “It seems as though they’ve come to town, though. I’m surprised that you didn’t notice them.” Reaching the edge of the clearing, Stiles bent and picked up his shoes.

Hisashi’s sandals dissolved into smoke before he could ask the fox if he wanted them. Shrugging, he let his shoes hang from his fingers as he began to walk home, ignoring the detritus on the forest floor. He’d walked about barefoot often enough that it didn’t bother him, and he preferred it when he could get away with it. If he hadn’t met with his dad earlier, he wouldn’t have bothered with them today.

“I’ll be having words with a few individuals if the Argents have managed to settle here beneath our noses without my being aware,” Hisashi said, teeth snapping in the air. “That is entirely unacceptable.”

“Try and keep the mayhem to a minimum,” Stiles said, brushing his free hand through Hisashi’s smoky fur. “If you’re right about the Hales coming back, and the Argents are already here we’ll have chaos enough without adding our own to it.”

“Actions have consequences, Stormbringer,” Hisashi grumbled, pushing into Stiles’ hand as he scratched at his ears. “And in this case, not informing us about the Argents could have had dire consequences.”

“Do what you have to Hisashi, just try and keep it down. That’s all I’m asking.”

“I suppose I can do that,” Hisashi said, nuzzling into Stiles’ neck. “Only because you’re my favorite almost-human.”

Stiles smiled, scritched Hisashi just under his chin, and kept his silence on the subject.

“I’ll be out tonight,” Hisashi said when they exited the forest into the backyard of the house, his nose still in Stiles’ neck.

“Are you leaving now?” Stiles tilted his head back, gazing at the overcast sky. “Or after dinner?”

“After dinner,” Hisashi said after a moment. “What I need to do will be better done in the dark anyway.”

“Try not to leave anything that we have to explain to Dad later,” Stiles replied, sighing. He tossed his shoes just inside the door to the mudroom and grabbed a towel to wipe his feet clean. “He’s done pretty well with all this over the years, but we don’t need to make things difficult for him with the department. Especially if the Argents and the Hales have returned.”

“He’ll always choose you,” Hisashi said, jumping off Stiles onto the washer. “He’s proven that many times over the years.” Cocking his head, he amended, “Once he managed to drag himself out of the depths of mourning and realized he still had something to live for.”

“That’s enough Hisashi.”

“I said he’s proven himself,” Hisashi defended.

“I’m aware, but he never needed to prove himself,” Stiles said, tossing the towel into the hamper and leaving the mudroom, Hisashi trailing behind. “He’s my dad. Mom died not long before I found you and she was-” Stiles trailed, his eyes losing focus. “She was sunlight and effervescence. To lose her made our world so dark and quiet in all the worst ways. She was the love of his life; I’ve always understood why it hit him as hard as it did, and he needed to deal with it in his own way.”

Hisashi hummed behind him but kept any comments he might have had to himself, so Stiles let it go.

“Anyway,” Stiles said before turning to stare down at the fox. “I was serious before, try not to do anything that he’s going to have to be creative about if there’s a report to write, okay? Please.”

“You have so little faith in me,” Hisashi said, grinning. His sharp little teeth glinting in the kitchen light. “What’s for dinner?” Hisashi changed the subject, leaping onto a counter.

“I mean it, Hisashi.” Pointing a finger at him, Stiles narrowed his eyes before turning, and opening the fridge to pull out ingredients for dinner. “I’m making lemon chicken.”

“With the pasta or the rice?”

“Mixed veg,” Stiles replied, moving about the kitchen. “Dad’s been to the diner three times this week. I plan to have him over for dinner.”

“Why does that mean I have to suffer?”

“We’re family. Feel free to lecture him at dinner,” Stiles said, laying the chicken in the dish.

“Will he be off on time?” Hisashi was lying down on the table, watching Stiles with his head on his paws, when Stiles glanced up.

“I think so. There isn’t anything ongoing that should keep him late,” Stiles said, shrugging. “If he misses dinner, you can lecture him later. Besides, a healthy meal won’t hurt either of us.” He’d pack up a plate and take it down the block to his dad’s house if that was the case.

“You’re twenty-four,” Hisashi said, the pout evident in his voice. “I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t be worried about healthy meals at this age.”

“There are a lot of things I shouldn’t be worried about at this age,” Stiles said, tossing the vegetables with some oil and herbs. “Doesn’t change the facts of my life.”

“We need to get you laid.”

“We?” Stiles shot an arch look at Hisashi.

“Well, it’s not like you’re making an effort,” Hisashi said, lifting his head to stare at Stiles.

Stiles curled his lips into a smirk, meeting Hisashi’s gaze. “I don’t need to make an effort. Just because I don’t bring my hook-ups around doesn’t mean I’m celibate.”

“Huh.” Hisashi stared, looking as flabbergasted as a fox could look.

Stiles slid the chicken and vegetables into the oven and set the timer. Hisashi wasn’t exactly wrong. Stiles didn’t have a problem finding someone when he wanted to get a leg over, but he’d yet to find anyone that he was able to maintain a committed relationship with. Stiles just had too many secrets – and too many trust issues. He’d like to find someone he could spend the night with, and not just the time it took to get off before going home to a cold bed.

“Your head is in the clouds, little Stormbringer,” Hisashi said, his hands on Stiles’ shoulders, startling him out of his thoughts.

“Just thinking,” Stiles said, shrugging it off. “Maybe when this latest business is over, I’ll take some time away.”

“The last time you said that, I had to extract you from a pod of selkies,” Hisashi said, staring down into Stiles’ eyes. “You can’t keep avoiding it forever.”

“I’m not,” Stiles huffed, stepping back. “I just don’t see why I should have to have some mystical bond with someone. Why can’t what we have be enough?”

“Mieczysław,” Hisashi reprimanded, and Stiles slumped, “my magic is too chaotic, even if you wanted to pursue an intimate relationship, which I don’t believe that you do,” He raised a brow at Stiles.

“No,” Stiles replied sulkily. They’d had similar discussions before. “You’re too much like family, Hisashi. The supernatural beings that I’ve come in contact with that would be appropriate, I just don’t feel the right connection to. You’ve done well enough grounding my magic when it’s been necessary.” He shrugged. “I don’t see why we can’t continue on that way.”

“We can,” Hisashi said, sighing. “But you’ll never be able to safely use your spark to its fullest potential without risking burnout – without risking your mind.”

“I’m aware of that.” Stiles sighed, falling forward, letting his head rest on Hisashi’s silk-covered chest. “I just don’t know how I’m supposed to find someone who can ground me, and that I can do more than tolerate, and that will be good for Beacon Hills. It’s a tall order.”

“There is nothing wrong with being discerning,” Hisashi said, his fingers brushing through Stiles’ hair, soothing him just as he’d done during those difficult first years after the Hales had abandoned the territory and Stiles’ magic had been wild without even a temporary ground with his mother gone and his dad – grieving.

Things had evened out when they’d discovered that Hisashi could ground the storms that brewed beneath Stiles’ skin, and channel the fires that burned in his blood. Hisashi couldn’t do a complete ground, his chaos magic made that impossible, but that very chaos is what made it possible for him to bleed off enough to ground Stiles when necessary. It was a delicate balance.

“But perhaps it’s time to stop ignoring the necessity of a bond altogether, hmm?” Hisashi rested his cheek against Stiles’.

“I feel like I’m planning my own arranged marriage,” Stiles grumbled.

“I think you need an actual spousal candidate for it to get that far.”

Stiles grumbled wordlessly a bit more before pulling away and beginning to clean up the kitchen.

“Come on,” Hisashi said when he’d finished loading the dishwasher. He dragged Stiles out of the kitchen and down the hall, practically throwing him through the doorway into the room they’d turned into a training space. “We’ll go through some forms and then meditate before dinner. Maybe that will calm your spark enough that you can sleep tonight.”

“Keep an ear out for the timer then,” Stiles said, already exchanging his jeans for clothes he kept in the chest by the door.

“Of course.”

As Stiles settled into his first form, he hoped that Hisashi was wrong about the Hales returning to Beacon Hills, or that he’d misinterpreted what he’d felt earlier about the Argents. Stiles hadn’t told Hisashi, but he’d been finding it more difficult lately to control his spark and the storms. The last thing he needed was the complications inherent in either of those families settling down in Beacon Hills, let alone both of them.

                                                                                       ************

Derek lifted his muzzle, mouth open, tasting the air as well as scenting. It had been over a decade since he’d last seen this place. It had been night then too, but the flames from the fire had lit the area until it was bright as day.

“Is this it, Alpha? I barely recognize this place,” Erica snapped her gum from where she was leaning against Boyd. “It’s going to take some time to rebuild, even with my firm giving you priority booking. I can tell that even in the dark.”

“We have a place in town,” Derek said once he’d shifted back. “I just wanted to see it and run the territory. No one has been here in the last few years, we needed to make sure that nothing needed to be taken care of before we settled in.”

“We didn’t leave anyone behind at all?” Isaac slid out of the shadows to stare at the house from next to Derek.

“No one,” Peter replied, coming behind him. “I tried to tell Talia it was a mistake, but-” Peter shrugged, slipping his hands into the pockets of his slacks.

“Where’s Cora?” Derek scented the air for his sister but couldn’t find her. “And Malia?”

“Cora isn’t ready to come out here if you don’t need her. Malia stayed back with her and Aunt Melody,” Peter replied, letting Derek know where the other members of their small pack were as well. “We’ll have to pick up groceries tomorrow, according to Aunt Mel: she’s already declared she isn’t going to survive off take out. I can’t say I disagree with her, the two of us are much too old to be playing our teenage selves and I’m too young to be playing at a midlife crisis.”

“Why did the two of you come with us anyway?” Erica had moved closer to the Hale house ruins and was poking at something in the dark. “I figured the two of you would want to stay with your sister – with the rest of your family – not come back here with us to this place out in the middle of nowhere. You’ve even technically left the Hale pack.”

“Derek is family,” Peter replied, his teeth a shock of white in the dark. Derek wasn’t sure if he should interfere, but he’d been wondering the same thing since his aunt and uncle had come to him after he’d accidentally become an alpha a few months ago. “Derek has a lot of potential, and this place is hardly the middle of nowhere. Talia and I have been grating along for years, and when Derek became an alpha, it was the perfect opportunity to get away from her without having to abandon the pack completely. Plus, all my favorite people are here.”

Derek knew there was more to it than that, but he couldn’t deny the benefit of having someone with Peter’s skills and knowledge in his pack and on his side. When his great aunt had stepped up beside him, Derek had felt the weight of his new responsibilities settle much easier. He also couldn’t deny the smug feeling he’d felt slide through him when Peter had been one of the first to step up to be in his pack after it had become evident that Derek was going to stay an alpha. The look on his mother’s face had only added to that feeling. Derek loved his mother, but he didn’t like her very much most of the time.

“It doesn’t look like another pack has settled in Beacon Hills,” Derek said, turning the conversation away from Peter and back to their reasons for being at the ruins.

“I doubt they’d take up residence here if they had,” Boyd said, finally breaking his silence. “But I didn’t notice anyone around town either. Nothing in our preliminary research has shown a pack presence in the area.”

“Which means we should be cautious,” Peter said, meeting Derek’s eyes. “I find it unlikely that someone or something hasn’t tried to settle a territory as ripe as Beacon Hills in the last decade. I doubt they’ve been kept away by just the Hale reputation, as much as my sister might like to think so.”

“I agree,” Derek said, nodding. “But I don’t think there is any immediate danger. We’ll head back to the townhouse and figure out our next steps tomorrow. Erica!”

“Yeah, yeah,” She said, dropping whatever she’d been poking at and walking back over to join them. “I’m not kidding Derek. I’ll give you priority, you know I will, but I’m not sure how much of this place is going to be salvageable, for one thing it smells like ash and wolfsbane, and for another, I don’t think the foundation is completely sound – though that’s hard to tell in the dark, even with my sight. It’s going to take me some time to get it livable once I figure out how to fix all of that.”

Derek looked back over the shadow of the ruins, lit only by moonlight, and thought of what might have happened in the house if it hadn’t been for some boy wandering around in the wrong place at the right time. Shaking away the memories of that night, he turned to Peter.

“It’s your decision, Derek,” Peter said. “I don’t have any great desire to live someplace that smells of rowan ash and wolfsbane though, if you want my vote on it.”

“We never spent much time in the house outside of official pack gatherings,” Isaac said quietly from the side. “So only you Hales would have any real connection to the house itself.”

“I’ll talk with Cora and Aunt Mel,” Derek said, turning back to Erica. “But let’s plan to demolish the place and start fresh. That’s what this whole thing is about right? Coming back here – separating from the main Hale pack – we’re starting fresh and we’re on our own now. So, let’s build something new, not try and revitalize the memory of the previous pack, especially a pack that all but forced us out. Family or not.”

“Sounds good to me,” Erica said, dusting her hands and grinning. “Race you back home.” She was shifting before she’d finished the sentence.

“Don’t look at me,” Boyd said, his teeth a flash in the moonlight.

“We’d better catch up with her,” Derek said, sighing but not otherwise bothering to hide his fondness for his betas. These were the people who had stood by him when everyone else had either turned away or remained quiet. Derek would do just about anything for them.

“She and Mel will have the whole house planned if we leave them alone too long,” Peter said, stalking towards the tree line.

“Our Aunt?” Derek called, laughing. “Cora will be in the thick of it too. Don’t worry Peter, you know they’ll want you for your opinions when they get to the interior.”

Peter lifted a hand over his head, giving Derek a visual of his opinion before he shifted and disappeared into the trees.

“I’m not sure whether I’m grateful he came with us or not,” Isaac said, slipping by Derek, all coiled grace and silent movement. He shifted mid-leap, taking off after the others.

“I’m sure,” Boyd replied. “I’d much rather have Peter with us than against us.”

“You think the others are against us?”

“Maybe, maybe not,” Boyd said after a moment of silence. “But no one was happy when you killed that alpha and your eyes flashed red, and they were especially put out when the power transfer failed later on. So, while I don’t think that Talia’s pack is going to be coming for us, I’m also positive that they won’t have our backs should anything go wrong here.”

“That’s-” Derek heaved out a breath, nodding. “That’s an excellent read on the situation. Talia signed over all the properties in the Beacon Hills territory and basically washed her hands of us. We sink or swim on our own here. It’s part of what we’ll talk about tomorrow, now that I know we aren’t facing another pack on our doorstep.”

“We have your back, Alpha,” Boyd said, clapping a large hand onto Derek’s shoulder and squeezing before he headed into the woods at a lumbering walk.

Derek turned to give the ruins one last look; he’d buried a lot of himself here when they’d left ten years ago. It had taken the help of those close to him for him to learn to breathe again. He’d just been getting his life going in the direction he’d wanted when the most recent attack had come. He’d never understand his mother– what was he supposed to have done, let that crazy alpha kill Laura? She’d been heavily pregnant and protecting her toddler, for fuck’s sake.

“Fuck,” Derek sighed, running his hand down his face.

He knew that Laura didn’t blame him, and she was grateful. And yet, even she didn’t understand why he hadn’t been able to give the alpha power to Talia when the time came. Peter had his own theories, but Derek figured it came down to the fact that subconsciously he hadn’t trusted her as his mother or his alpha. He’d been unable to see his way to giving her more power than she already had.

Now here he was, back in Beacon Hills– back in the place where his innocence had been burned to ashes. He was determined to make something great of it for his fledgling pack, something his ancestors would be proud of. Something that he could be proud of.

“Are you going to stand there brooding all night or are you going to come home?”

“I thought you were avoiding this place?”

“I was,” Cora said, wrapping an arm around his waist and laying her head on his shoulder. “But your brooding drew me away from our cozy townhouse to this den of depression.”

“I’m not that bad,” Derek said, his lips tilting upward. “It’s just been a lot these last couple of months.”

“No shit.”

“I told Erica to demolish it,” Derek said, squeezing his arm around her. “I figured that we should make something new here, or as new as we can, as Hales in Beacon Hills.”

“Something new,” Cora said, leaning into him. “I’m here for that. I can still be pissed off about everything though, right?”

“You can be whatever you want to be, Cora Flora Dora,” Derek said, chuckling when Cora jabbed him in the ribs. “I’m angry when I let myself think about everything too much.”

“Lucky we got Uncle Peter and Auntie Mel, then,” Cora said as they turned towards the trees. “They always had the best booze recipes.”

“Because that’s why we’re lucky to have them,” Derek said, poking her in the ribs as he stepped back to shift.

“Well, watching them bicker is entertaining,” Cora said, rolling her shoulders. “You know that Aunt Mel has already signed Peter up for this meet and greet dating thing?”

“Are you serious?” Derek threw his head back, laughing. “She hasn’t given up getting him paired off, then?”

“A married wolf is a happy wolf,” Cora quoted. “Just you wait, she’ll be after the rest of us next. We’ll all be married off by next year if we’re not careful.”

“Maybe we should get her on one of those dating sites, then?”

“Right, one batshit crazy senior with attitude looking to boss around someone for life,” Cora replied.

“She isn’t that bad,” Derek said. “She came with us, didn’t she?”

“Yeah,” Cora said, sighing. “She did. I guess I can give her a couple of passes before I start hiding rainbow colors in her shampoo.”

“You know she’d just get you back, right?”

“That’s half the fun,” Cora said over her shoulder before shifting and darting into the woods towards the townhouse they were renting only a block away from the preserve.

“Fun?” Derek shook his head and shifted. His pack were all odd characters, and he was related to half of them–he purposely didn’t think about what that said about his own personality. He lifted his muzzle to the moon before all four of his paws were on the ground. Howling, he took off into the trees, listening to the returning calls of his pack.

Boyd fell out of the shadows on his right, Isaac not far behind him, and they ran. The calls of the rest of the pack had placed them closer to the townhouse, and tugging on their pack bonds affirmed that supposition. Derek hadn’t had an opportunity to run in a wooded area like the preserve since they’d left Beacon Hills.

His mother preferred to stick with more metropolitan areas, and cultivated parks and wooded areas these days – areas that could be controlled both during the moon and outside it. Derek had almost forgotten about how the wildness in places like the preserve seemed to bleed out over everything it touched.

The scent of pine tingled through his senses, even as the trail gave way under their paws. Derek didn’t know where he was going, giving himself over to his wolf. Just under the scent of pine, earth, and various wildlife scents, Derek picked up the sharp scent of cardamom and clove. It was tempered by honey and something floral he couldn’t quite put a name to.

Isaac whined, nudging Derek’s shoulder when they came to a sudden stop. Derek shook him off and lifted his muzzle up to taste the air before lowering his nose to the ground, trying to follow the scent trail of honey and spice. Derek took off after the scent trail ignoring the barks behind him. He didn’t know where the path would lead, but the scent was intriguing enough that he wanted to see what was at the end of it.

Derek flowed out of his shift, scenting the air as he entered a clearing that was saturated in the scent he’d been following. He froze when his gaze fell on the tree in the center of the area.

“What the hell?” Isaac growled, rolling out of his shift with an almost audible snap. “Derek!”

“I think this is the nemeton,” Derek said, ignoring Isaac’s anger for the moment. “Someone’s been coming out here regularly.”

“The nemeton?” Boyd fell in beside Derek, frowning. “The magic tree that your uncle was talking about on the trip out from Chicago?”

“Yeah.”

“I thought it was going to be impossible to find without some kind of voodoo,” Isaac said, crossing his arms and glaring at the tree when Derek glanced over at him.

“Something like that,” Derek agreed, “though I don’t think he mentioned voodoo.”

“Mystical magic man,” Isaac said, waving a hand around before crossing his arms again. “I wasn’t really listening after he started talking about a magic tree that could hide itself.”

“You said someone has been here?” Boyd interrupted, gripping Isaac’s shoulder and pulling him around, so they were now on either side of Derek. “How can you tell?”

“I followed a unique scent trail here,” Derek said, and he ignored the look that the other men shot his way by turning towards the tree.

“I’m pretty sure Peter said that Deaton had the nemeton cut down,” Boyd said quietly.

“No,” Derek replied, frowning at the tree in the middle of the clearing they’d discovered. “It was supposed to have been cut down a couple of years before we left, but they couldn’t find it. Deaton was supposed to take care of it before we left.”

“Trespassing is rude.”

A man stepped from behind the nemeton, wearing robes that spoke of not only another culture but another era. His hair, inky black in the moonlight, fell past his shoulders swinging as he walked closer to them. He was tall and lithe, he was power coiled and ready to strike, or Derek had lost his ability to read a threat. The man smelled of ice and snow – of things found in the dark and best left there. He smelled like a warning, and Derek’s instincts screamed caution.

“I think you’re the one who is trespassing,” Derek said, pulling his shoulders back; he felt more than saw Boyd and Isaac fall into place at his back. “This is Hale property and you’re no Hale.”

“Oh, little one,” The man tsked, smiling mockingly. “This hasn’t been Hale territory for the last ten years – the last eight years – if you want to get legal about it.”

“What are you talking about?” Derek stepped forward, chin lifting. “This has been Hale territory for over two hundred years.”

“The land was abandoned ten years ago, and a large portion of the area was bought out eight years ago from the Hale family.” A sly smile curved wide, thin lips.

“Who are you?” Isaac stepped up to Derek’s left shoulder.

“The polite thing to do is usually to introduce one’s self first,” He said, tucking his hands into the oversized sleeves of his robe. “But I suppose I can’t expect much from wolves.” He sniffed disdainfully. “You may address me as Hisashi.”

“Are you the owner of the territory now?” Isaac blurted out before Derek could introduce himself and try to get more information on his own.

“No, I’m not,” Hisashi sighed, shaking his head at them.

“Isaac enough,” Derek said, quelling the beta with a look. “I apologize, it’s been a rough few months and this is a shock. I’m Derek Hale, these are two of my Betas Vernon Boyd and Isaac Lahey. I plan to settle and rebuild here with my pack–do you think that I can meet with the one who holds ownership of the territory?”

“I’m sure you can.” Hisashi cocked his head to the side, studying Derek.

For the first time, Derek noticed how the shadows seemed to dance around the other man, moving unnaturally around the space he stood in. He might have been raised by a woman who believed in a certain kind of etiquette, but he’d also been left in the care of Peter more often than not.

“What are you?”

“Rude, so very rude,” Hisashi cackled, head thrown back. “But smart. You might just make it here in Beacon Hills.”

“You didn’t answer my question,” Derek said, rumbling in his chest, teeth aching in his gums.

“No, I didn’t,” Hisashi agreed, still grinning. “I was right, you’re going to make things very interesting around here.”

“We didn’t come here to make things interesting, we came here to settle our pack and make a home,” Derek said, the growl a steady rumble now.

“Maybe you did,” Hisashi said, shrugging and combing his fingers through the shadows near him. “But it doesn’t really matter what you came here for now does it? What will be, will be. I’ll let the guardian know that you want a meeting.” He turned to go. “I’d advise you to keep away from the nemeton until then though, he’s very protective of it after it was nearly destroyed by your pack.”

“Not my pack,” Derek said adamantly.

Hisashi turned back at the opposite edge of the clearing, “No?”

“We’ve separated from the mainline of the Hale pack. We’re now an offshoot that is not affiliated with them by anything other than the circumstance of accidental heritage,” Derek recited the words that had sundered him from his mother’s pack line, not showing the pain that they had inflicted at the time.

“Ahh.” Hisashi lifted his head, opening his mouth, almost as if he was tasting the air. “My friend would say that he was sorry, and I suppose I should say the same, but honestly you are better off without them. The territory will be more forgiving to you, if what you say is true. I’ll set up that meeting.” He turned to leave again.

“How will we know when the meeting is?” Isaac called after him.

“We’ll find you,” Hisashi’s voice floated out of the darkness.

“Let’s go home,” Boyd said quietly. “If you smell anything else, don’t follow it.”

“We’re not actual dogs,” Derek reminded his beta, bumping shoulders with him.

“I know that, but I didn’t need to see the impossible magic tree or the creepy shadow guy tonight.” Boyd shifted before Derek could reply.

Derek looked at Isaac, who shrugged, “I’m kind of with him–we got some decent information, but this was pretty creepy, and I’m still mad about you running off without warning.”

“Isaac,” Derek started, but Isaac shifted before he could continue. Sighing, Derek shifted, and they headed towards the townhouse. Derek glanced back at the nemeton one last time before they left the clearing, and wondered if he’d be able to find it again anytime soon.

 

 

Chapter Two

“Heard I missed some excitement last night.”

Derek woke to the click-clacking of his aunt’s knitting needles and bit back a groan. Peter had insisted that they let her and Malia sleep when they’d returned last night. Derek should have known better.

“You didn’t miss much,” Derek said, his voice rough with sleep. He rolled over, slinging his arm over his eyes to keep the light out. “Just a lot of questions we don’t have any answers for yet.”

“Except the fact that we own a lot less of this area than we thought we did, and that Beacon Hills territory isn’t Hale territory anymore?” Aunt Melody’s voice was soft even as her needles picked up speed. “Your mother has a lot to answer for if this is true.”

“A lot she’ll never answer for,” Derek corrected, lifting his arm to squint at his aunt. “It would explain why she gave over Beacon Hills without an argument. She practically threw the territory at us, happily signing everything over, signing the treaties and everything in what amounts to record time, not a single protest about a territory that has been in the main line’s hands since the Hale pack’s origins.”

“She’s going to regret this one day,” Melody Hale replied sharply, the clack of her needles emphasizing her words. “I’ll make sure of that.”

“Will you?” Derek gave up on going back to sleep. He sat up and grabbed his phone, wincing at the time. It wasn’t even seven yet.

“I’ve been making a list,” Mel said, looking up, her ageless eyes sparkling behind her glasses as she smiled. “Your mother made the top of it after the way she behaved when you became an alpha.”

“Why?” Derek scratched his chest and stretched as he woke up some more.

Aunt Mel hadn’t talked much about what was behind her choice to side with Derek and join the pack. Derek had a feeling he was about to hear some of what was behind her choice now.

“Because up until then, Gerard Argent was at the top of my list. Now he shares the spot with your mother. She used to be in second place, beating out Deucalion and his little bully squad when she decided to not only leave this territory but to salt and burn it behind us.”

“That’s interesting to know,” Derek said, staring at his aunt, who hadn’t stopped knitting. “But it wasn’t what I meant. Why was how she treated me so bad? It was only what’s done when someone other than the heir ends up with alpha power from an outside source. My spark just wouldn’t transfer to Talia.” He shrugged off the memories of the multiple attempts they’d made him undergo. “Everyone had theories about why, but no one really knows.”

“Oh, honey.” She looked over the top of her glasses, tutting at him. “Some of us know why it wouldn’t transfer.” She nodded at him. “You never asked why I came with you.”

“I didn’t – it wasn’t-” Derek trailed off because saying it wasn’t his place would be false, but that’s precisely what he wanted to say. “I had no reason to ask you, you’re always welcome wherever I am, Aunt Mel.”

“You’re sweet,” She said, smirking at him, her expression eerily similar to one he’d seen on Peter’s face before. “We’ll have to keep that to the pack, though. I came with you because the spark didn’t go to Talia, which means there is much more to you than can be seen at first glance. Part of that is the strength to hold on to an alpha spark against that kind of attack, but part of it is the strength of character to recognize in the deepest part of you that your mother was not worthy of your spark.” She paused her knitting to bap him on the nose. “And it was your spark: you won it in combat protecting your sister and the alpha heir of your pack. That is a mighty thing, Derek. You didn’t go looking for power, you weren’t hungering for it, and you were willing to give it away. You just weren’t willing to give your mother more power because she was hungering for it, when push came to shove, and you can’t deny that.”

“She’s your niece.” Derek rubbed his nose, eyeing his aunt cautiously. “You were one of the pack’s elders. I know you saw more than the rest of us. I guess I wondered why you came with my pack, and the rest just turned their backs on us. No one spoke up for us in council during the final separation negotiations.”

“Because they’re all idiots and perhaps more set in their ways than they should be.” Mel shrugged, looking her age briefly before she shook herself and picked up her knitting again. “Fear is powerful, it can freeze you in place, and that’s what has happened to your mother’s pack. The attack here all those years ago, and the other events perpetuated by the Argents going on around that time drove your mother into action that was fueled more by fear than anything else, and now that she’s found herself some semblance of safety-” Mel shrugged. “Talia doesn’t like anything that upsets her applecart. She’s been riding the coattails of my brother’s reputation, and while in the beginning she did well enough… it’s been a long while since she’s lived up to what a Hale alpha is supposed to be.”

“And what is that?” Derek slid out of the blankets and grabbed a pair of jeans from the end of the bed. Glancing around at the boxes in his room, he made a note to unpack soon as he yanked the jeans up and buttoned them, listening while Mel continued talking.

“A Hale alpha puts the pack and the territory first,” Mel said, tucking her knitting away in its bag and standing. “Sometimes that means doing the obvious. A retreat ten years ago wasn’t wrong. Attempting to destroy the nemeton and cutting ties with the territory? That was against every oath your mother took when she rose to her role as our pack alpha. If we’d known at the time, we’d never have condoned it.”

“That seems easy enough, if simplistic,” Derek said, sitting on the edge of his bed and looking up at her.

“You would think so, but many alphas begin to think that a pack relies on an alpha instead of the other way round.”

“We learn that as cubs in the nursery, though.” Derek frowned, thinking of the tattoo on his back. “Alpha, beta, omega. A beta can rise to an alpha, an alpha can fall to beta and a beta can fall to omega-”

“And even an omega can become an alpha,” Mel finished, nodding. “Yes, we all learn these things, but it seems some of us have forgotten the lessons of the cradle.”

“Well,” Derek said, standing. “There isn’t anything I can do about Talia or the main line right now, and I don’t really want to tackle it in the future either. We have enough of a mess to clear up here, it seems.”

“You might be right.” She nodded.  “But I’m keeping my list and my plans; it’s always good to be prepared.”

“I wouldn’t dare stop you,” Derek said as she opened the door. “Aunt Mel, thanks for coming with me.”

“Of course, dear boy.” She smiled and left him alone in his room.

Derek closed his eyes and wondered how long it would take Hisashi to get the meeting with whoever held the territory so that they could get some things cleared up. He didn’t think it would be as easy as buying back the land, but he hoped he’d be able to establish exclusive pack rights to Beacon Hills. That would be a good start. He knew a few solitary shifters were in the area, but their research hadn’t shown any packs within the territory lines.

“Derek?”

“Hmm?” He looked over as his door opened, revealing the wild curls of his younger cousin.

Malia was Peter’s surprise baby, who’d appeared one day out of the blue about a couple of years after they’d settled in Chicago. Derek had still been dealing with his own issues from the fire, but he remembered that it had involved a knock-down, drag-out argument between Peter and Talia that had almost ended with Peter taking the then-infant and leaving the pack. It was one of the only times Derek had ever seen his mother back down.

“Dad wants to know if you’re going to come down for breakfast. He went out and got pastries.” She wrinkled her nose. “I saved you a raspberry danish, but they ate all the cheese already.”

“This is why you’re my favorite.” Derek grabbed a shirt out of his duffle and pulled it on.

“I got you a coconut one too,” She said, coming into his room, setting the pastries on the nightstand. “No one but you and me like those ones anyway.”

“That’s because the rest of them don’t know what a good thing they’re missing.”

“And we aren’t going to tell them either,” She grinned at him, her nose twitching as she giggled.

“Of course not,” Derek held up his pinky, waiting for her to do the same. He hooked his around hers and shook. “How are you holding up, kitten?”

“It’s okay,” She said, shrugging, all knees and elbows at eight years old. She flung herself at Derek. “I like it better than Chicago, but it’s different too. I’m glad you didn’t leave me.”

“I couldn’t,” Derek said, sitting on his bed once more, surprising himself with the truth of his words. “I don’t think Peter would have let me leave without him for one, and he wasn’t going to leave you. And you’re my best girl, you know that. There was always room in my pack for you.”

“I know, but what if Dad hadn’t come with you?” Malia sniffled, raising red-rimmed eyes to his.

“Then I would have had to break you out on my own,” Derek said. “Malia, if you had wanted to join my pack, there was always a place for you. You might have had to wait until you were sixteen to get here, but you just had to let me know and I’d have made sure that we had a place ready for you.” He grinned down at the girl. “Fortunately, we never had to make those plans because Peter knew what you both wanted and here you are, right?”

“Yeah.” She sniffled a few more times. “Dad’s pretty smart sometimes.” She glanced at Derek, glaring sternly. “Don’t tell him though or he’ll think he can get away with stuff.”

“I’ll be sure to keep it to myself,” Derek said, ruffling her hair. “Feel better?”

“I think so.” She dove back in, burrowing into Derek’s chest again.

“This has been bothering you for a while, huh?” Derek felt her nod against his chest and sighed. “I know I’m pretty new to this alpha stuff and I didn’t get training the way that Laura did. So, I’m probably going to make a mess of some of it while I’m figuring out the big things, but if you ever need to talk to me or if anything is bothering you-” He brushed a hand over her unruly curls, he leaned down to press a kiss to them. “You come and tell me. I’ll always make time for you. Not just as your alpha, but as your best big brother-cousin, remember?” He poked her when she giggled at the moniker she’d given him years ago, when she’d confused their relationship.

“Yeah, okay.”

“Come on, let’s eat these pastries before someone comes in and snatches them away from us.” He picked her up and set her beside him on the bed. Then he grabbed the chair Mel had been sitting in earlier, spinning it around to place directly in front of her. Sitting down, he grabbed the pastries and held one out to Malia with a flourish. “M’lady.”

Malia giggled again and took the coconut pastry when he handed it to her.

After breakfast, Derek sent Malia out with Mel and Isaac to check out the town. They planned to pick up groceries on the way back to supply the townhomes the pack was renting.

Derek sent Peter out to find out more about the sale of the Hale territory-based properties that they hadn’t been made aware of. Hopefully, Peter would find something out because Derek didn’t even know where to start. He’d never expected to be anything other than a beta. Derek had never expected to even sit on the council. Not even as the alpha’s son and brother of the heir.

“You think he’ll find anything?”

Derek glanced over at Erica. She’d spread out on the breakfast bar with her laptop and papers as she made arrangements to take care of the old Hale property and their rebuild.

“I hope so,” He said, shrugging into his leather jacket. “At least something that will give us a place to start unraveling whatever went wrong here.”

“You think it’s more than the fire and all that?”

“You mean Kate?” Derek raised his brow at her. He knew that his betas were dancing around the subject of Kate Argent and the fallout of the fire. He appreciated it but now wasn’t the time.

“She who will not be named.” Erica nodded before sticking her pen back in her mouth.

“She wasn’t Voldemort,” Derek said, pinching his nose.

“Evil enough,” Boyd’s voice rumbled beside him.

“Anyway,” Derek said, waving them both off. “Back on topic, I don’t know what was going on back then. That’s kind of the point of having Peter look into it. I was barely sixteen when the fire happened, you guys were, what, fourteen – fifteen? We aren’t exactly the best resources for the time period.”

“No,” Erica said, tapping the pen against red lips as she thought. “I remember going to bed at the main house because it was a pack gathering, so we all had to be there. We woke up to smoke and yelling. Next thing I knew we were in a van and moving to Chicago. We didn’t even go back to school and get our things.”

“We were gone before the week was out,” Boyd agreed. “Talia moved fast once the decision was made. Almost like they were ready to go if something happened.”

“That’s what we’re thinking,” Derek said, nodding. “We don’t think that anyone in the pack knew about the fire, but someone knew that something was coming for us, and they were ready to run, but no one was watching out for us – just waiting for the hit.”

“That’s messed up, man,” Boyd said.

“Yeah,” Derek said, scratching at his cheek as he thought. “We don’t know any of this for sure, but it makes sense. If it hadn’t been for that kid coming by when he did – the pack would have been destroyed. Kate would have gotten almost all of us and she’d have gotten away before the storm came up.”

“You really believe a freak lightning strike took her out?” Erica shot him a look, communicating her feelings on the subject.

“I’m not sure what else to believe,” Derek said, shaking his head. “Deaton always said that there wasn’t any magic involved, I know that much.”

“What ever happened to that guy?” Erica picked up her phone when it vibrated. She grimaced at the message before typing something quickly and tossing it back onto the counter. “He wasn’t around when we left, but I figured he’d be there to give us his whole ‘keep the balance’ speech one last time.”

“I don’t know.” Derek grabbed his keys, checking his pocket for his phone. “They didn’t exactly keep me up to date on what was going on before I became an alpha, and afterwards they shut me out completely.”

“True.” Erica nodded. “Where are you going?”

“I want to see if I can get a feel for where the territory boundaries shifted.” Derek grimaced at the thought. “We know that someone else has claimed them, but I’m hoping that there is something available to us here, especially since we weren’t blocked from the nemeton last night.”

“We were led right to it,” Boyd said, shrugging into his own jacket and leaning down to kiss Erica. “That Hisashi guy said we were trespassing though.”

“Exactly, we were led right to it,” Derek said, pointing at Boyd. “Hisashi might have accused us of trespassing, but if we had no claim to Beacon Hills, I don’t think we would have been able to be there at all. Not without some kind of effort on our part anyway. Peter agrees with me. He’s got some calls in to a few contacts while he’s out looking into the territory sale.”

“So, we’re just going to drive around and-” Boyd opened the door and gestured Derek ahead of him.

“Have fun storming the castle boys,” Erica called after them.

“There is no castle or storm,” Boyd replied, shutting the door. “You don’t even know where we’re going do you?”

“I want to take the road to the old place today and check a few things out,” Derek said, opening the gate out of the yard.

“You think that guy is going to come through with a meeting?”

“I hope so, but if not that’s part of what Peter is doing,” Derek said, unlocking the Camaro and sliding into the driver’s seat.

“What’s the plan if they want us to leave?” Boyd folded himself down into his seat, shutting the door and turning to look at Derek.

“We’ll climb that hill when we get to it,” Derek said, starting the car. “I don’t plan on leaving Beacon Hills, though.” He glanced over at the other man.

“Okay then.” Boyd nodded, facing forward as they pulled out of the drive. “Let’s go see what we can find then.”

************

Sipping coffee gone cold hours before, Stiles grimaced and set the cup aside on the porch railing.

“Just meet with them,” Hisashi said from where he lounged as a fox in the hammock. “You don’t have to commit to anything.”

“They’ll know who I am,” Stiles muttered, laying his head on his knees. They’d been treading the same ground since breakfast when Hisashi had finally told Stiles what he’d discovered last night. “I can’t believe they found the nemeton.” He lifted his head to glare at Hisashi.

“He’s a Hale.”

“The Hales tried to destroy it.”

“Talia Hale and her pet druid tried to destroy it,” Hisashi corrected. “Derek was a sixteen year old traumatized boy at the time and from what my contacts have been able to put together, he’s been completely cut off from the main Hale pack.”

“What exactly does that mean?”

Hisashi sat up, leaping out of the hammock, and switching forms mid-air to cross the yard and sit next to Stiles.

“He, and presumably all those with him, have been sundered from the main pack. They’re considered Hales only through accidental heritage. The little alpha told me himself last night. They’re considered an offshoot of the main Hale pack at best. I asked around after I ran into them at the nemeton, and so far, what the little alpha said is true. I didn’t read any falsehoods from him when I spoke to him either, just some pain and subdued anger.” Hisashi licked his lower lip, shooting Stiles a grin. “I didn’t even take a bite–you should be proud.”

“Oh, immensely.” Stiles rolled his eyes, bumping shoulders with the taller man. “You think they’ll be good for Beacon Hills?” He finally asked, running a hand over the bare skin on his arm.

“I think that having an official pack settled here wouldn’t be a bad thing,” Hisashi replied, wrapping a silk-covered arm around Stiles’ shoulders. “We’ve done well over the last few years with the territory, but having a pack we can trust settle here would help stabilize the area even more. It being led by a Hale, even if they’ve been sundered.” Hisashi rolled his eyes, to show what he thought of that. “Will still mean something. It means something to the magic of the nemeton, obviously.”

“Yeah,” Stiles murmured, looking at the sky, and watching as a few dark clouds rolled in to bring an afternoon rain. “I’ll meet with him, then. Set it up. He’ll need to be told how we do things around here, anyway.”

“Are you going to give him the ‘be nice to the sheriff’s department’ speech?” Hisashi’s grin was vulpine in his delight.

“I suppose you think that’s going to be useless,” Stiles said, shrugging off Hisashi’s arm and standing up, stretching his arms over his head.

“Actually.” Hisashi tilted his head, resting his cheek in his hand as he considered the question. “I think the little alpha might appreciate it, once he gets over your identity and the fact that you aren’t going to hand over the territory to his pack.”

“Are you going to keep calling him ‘little alpha’ when we meet with him?”

“Of course I am.” Hisashi grinned. “You’re all little children to me.”

“You’re just trying to get a reaction out of him,” Stiles said, poking Hisashi in the forehead before he turned back to the yard. “I’m going for a walk.”

“If you head into the preserve, you’re likely to run into one of them.”

“I’ll keep an ear out and avoid the occupied areas,” Stiles shrugged, walking towards the trees.

“Want company?”

“No, I need to think about things and you’re never a quiet companion.”

“Rude.”

“Honest,” Stiles said over his shoulder, slipping past the first trees, his toes digging into the dirt of the forest floor briefly before he picked a direction to walk. “I have my phone with me. Set up your meeting and let Dad know. Don’t think I haven’t noticed that you’ve avoided mentioning the Argents; we’ll talk about them when I get back.”

“Fuck,” Hisashi said, his voice carrying through the trees.

Stiles smiled briefly before tucking his hands into his pockets and beginning to wander as he thought over what would change in Beacon Hills if Derek Hale and his pack did stay. Hisashi wasn’t wrong in saying it would bring added stability to the territory. Stiles, the nemeton, and those that lived here did well enough maintaining everything, but there were reasons that supernatural communities sought out stable packs to settle within their borders.

Reaching down, Stiles plucked a branch off the ground, swishing it in the air a few times before pulling it back to peel some bark off. Having his hands busy with something helped him think, and he settled down on an overturned tree some distance from the house, pulling out his pocket knife. He dug his toes into the earth again to ground himself a bit more and began to carve as he let his mind drift.

“Are you sure that we should be out here? That creepy guy called us trespassers last night.”

Stiles didn’t recognize the voice carried to him by the wind, but he tilted his head in the direction of the voice as he listened.

“Chill,” A woman replied, laughter edging her words. “I doubt he’s hiding behind the trees, waiting to jump out at you.”

“I wouldn’t put it past him,” He replied. “You weren’t there, that guy was weird, and he wasn’t human, Cora. So maybe we shouldn’t be wandering around the preserve with your little cousin and aunt.”

“I can take care of myself!”

Stiles shook his head, smiling slightly. He folded up the knife and put it away, tossing the branch away with a sigh. It seemed that he was about to have company, and if he wasn’t mistaken, they were members of the newly arrived Hale pack. He wondered exactly who he was about to meet and if they’d recognize him.

“We’re simply taking a walk in the woods,” Another woman put in, older than the others. “I know you weren’t implying that I’m incapable simply because I’m a few years older than you, dear.”

“Fuck. Of course not Aunt Mel,” He said. “I wouldn’t dare.”

Stiles muffled his laughter, beyond amused. He hadn’t had much to do with the Hale pack when they’d been in Beacon Hills before. After everything back then, he’d made it a point to know who had originally been in the pack. Still, he was almost entirely in the dark about who had returned with Derek Hale. Stiles wasn’t sure if he had any preferences about who he wanted to be in this new Hale pack. He did know who he’d have to ban from Beacon Hills if they appeared, though.

“Who are you?”

Stiles looked up. The group had made their way to him while he’d been momentarily lost in thought.

“Malia!”

“Hello,” Stiles said, dusting his hands off as he stood. “Are you lost? This is private property.”

“Told you,” The man muttered to the brunette, who couldn’t be anything but a Hale with her coloring.

“Shut up, Isaac.”

“We’re just out for a walk. I lived here some years ago, and I don’t remember this belonging to someone else,” The older woman replied, smiling. “Oh, I’m Melody Hale. This is my niece Cora,” Melody said, gesturing to the brunette and then the man. “Isaac, and the firecracker there is Malia.”

“Oh,” Stiles said, nodding. “I’m Stiles. It’s been a while since there’s been a Hale in Beacon Hills. Are you back for a visit?”

“We’re going to live here now,” Malia piped up, frowning at him. “I like it here.”

“It’s a good place to live,” Stiles agreed. “I wouldn’t recommend wandering the woods though, we do still have the occasional animal attack. If you want to walk through, stick with the trails. The sheriff’s department and the park’s service work together to keep them marked pretty well.”

“You seem to know quite a bit about all of this,” Cora narrowed her eyes at him.

“My dad is the sheriff,” Stiles said, smiling at her. “Has been for over a decade now.”

“If this is private property,” Isaac said, staring at Stiles with his head tilted and eyes narrowed. “What are you doing out here?”

“I know the owner,” Stiles replied. “Do you know how to get back out?”

“We can manage,” Melody said, smiling, her eyes crinkling. “It was nice to meet you, Stiles. Please give our apologies for trespassing.”

“Oh, I’m sure they won’t mind,” Stiles said, running his hand through his hair. “But I’ll let them know.”

“You smell nice,” Malia said, stepping into Stiles’ space. “I like you.”

“Thank you?” Stiles smiled down at the girl, bemused. “You have butterflies in your hair.” He carefully reached his hand out, using a finger to lift one of them out of her hair to show her.

“I do?” Malia snapped her eyes to his hand. “I do!” She said in hushed awe.

“You must have seemed a confusing sort of flower to them,” Stiles laughed. He leaned down just a little and sniffed. “You do smell pretty, I suppose.”

“I’m not a flower.” Malia wrinkled her nose. “Derek says I’m a kitten now, but I’m going to be ferocious tiger when I get older.”

“I have no doubt,” Stiles said nodding, and he stepped back after gently transferring over the butterfly to one of Malia’s little fingers. “You should all hurry back home or to some cover though.”

“Why is that?” Isaac wrapped his arm around Malia and drew her gently back into their group.

“It’s going to storm soon,” Stiles looked up at the canopy of the woods. “If you hurry, you should have time to find cover before it hits, though.”

“Storm?” Cora frowned, pulling out her phone. “I don’t remember anything about that in the forecast.”

“It might not have been,” Stiles shrugged. “But it’s going to storm the rest of the afternoon into the evening. It should clear up by morning, though.”

“You are remarkably well informed.”

Stiles smiled at Melody, “Not really, I’ve just lived here my whole life. You learn to read the weather systems and the area after a while. If you stay around, you’ll learn them – or relearn them, I suppose.” He nodded at them all. “I didn’t bring my jacket with me, so I’m going to head back myself. I’ll see you around.”

“He doesn’t have any shoes on either,” Malia said to Cora.

“No, I don’t like shoes,” Stiles agreed. “I only wear them when I have to, or my dad makes me.”

Malia nodded seriously. “I don’t like shoes either, but everyone makes me wear them anyway. They keep saying that I’ll learn to like them.” She looked to the side at Cora and Isaac. “I didn’t believe them either.”

“Well, when you’re an adult and live in your own place, you can leave your shoes there all you want,” Stiles said grinning, and ignoring the glares he was getting from the other three adults. He thought that Malia Hale might possibly be his favorite person in the world right then. “You do have to realize though, that you’ll have to wear them if you want to go into certain stores and restaurants. It’s part of the rules of the world.”

“Yeah.” Malia heaved a breath, sounding very put upon. “I know I’ll still have to follow some stupid rules when I grow up, but-” She grinned mischievously up at Stiles. “At least now I know I can choose when to wear shoes and nobody can tell me that I have to because everyone else does. Not anymore.”

“Happy to help with your rebellion.” Stiles chuckled. “But now I really have to go and so should you guys, or we’re all going to be drenched before long.”

“It was nice to meet you,” Malia called over her shoulder as she bounced away with Cora and Isaac, who tossed a wave as he hurried after her.

“Yes, it was nice to meet you,” Melody said again. Her gaze assessing before she turned with the rest, and they disappeared back into the trees.

Stiles watched them go, huffing out a breath. It had been an interesting meeting, and he didn’t regret it, but he had lost his opportunity to just sit and think before the storm rolled in. Stiles eyed the bits of sky he could make out through the trees and considered staying out in the storm. There was nothing quite like dancing with lightning when the storm raged through you and around you. He decided not to, as there were too many unknowns running around his territory at the moment, and as much as it galled, he couldn’t afford to let his guard down.

Sticking his hands in his pockets, he hunched his shoulders as he turned for home. It was only the warning rush of the wind and the burn of the lightning under his skin that had him twist aside in time to miss being impaled by an arrow as it whipped by him, cutting a slice across his arm as it went.

“Don’t move!”

Stiles held his hands out, watching as a hunting party came out of the trees. Seeing that they were armed with guns as well as bows, he grimaced internally. The cut on his arm burned, blood dripped down his arm, and thunder cracked overhead.

“Who are you and what are you doing out here?” A man, older but fit with only a slight paunch, stepped forward. A hunter’s cap on his head and a gun in his hand pointed at Stiles.

“This is private property,” Stiles said, dragging the bottom of his shirt up. He wiped at the wound while keeping his eyes on the group in front of him. “There isn’t any hunting allowed in the preserve without a permit either, and I’m fairly sure that you don’t have one. You also shouldn’t be shooting at people in the woods, that’s going to get you in all kinds of trouble.”

“We must have gotten turned around,” He said, eyeing Stiles’ still bleeding arm and lowering his gun. He gestured to the others, and they lowered their weapons as well. “Oscar got a little twitchy. He apologizes for the stray arrow.” He gestured over at an unfortunate stocky blond with a face like bread dough and two round cherries plunked down for eyes.

“I’m so sorry,” He said blandly before stepping back behind the older man.

“Hmm.” Stiles let his eyes slide over the group, taking in the rest of them, five in total. So, these were the Argents come to his territory. He doubted they could be anyone else. Thunder rumbled above them again. “Like I said, this is private property, and you’ll have to leave. I don’t recommend hunting without a license either. The park service and the sheriff’s department are very strict about that.”

“We’ll take that under advisement Mr.-”

“Stiles, just Stiles,” Stiles replied, nodding at them. “You are?”

“Gerard Argent,” Gerard said. He didn’t bother to introduce anyone other than the unfortunate Oscar from earlier. “We just moved to the area and could use someone to show us around the preserve. You wouldn’t know anyone familiar with the area?” He smiled silkily. “The public areas, that is, we don’t want to get lost again.”

“I’m not sure there is anyone around that can help you Mr. Argent,” Stiles said. He could feel the storm building in the air and under his skin. “Your name isn’t very well liked around here.”

“No?” Gerard’s hand tightened on his weapon, and his eyes went ice cold.

“No.” Stiles met his gaze without flinching. “A Kate Argent tried to murder an entire family and some of their friends during a get together about ten years ago. She was also suspected of some less than savory activities with a minor, though that was never proven, and she died before it could go any further.”

“What does that have to do with us?” Gerard spoke between gritted teeth, obviously trying to sound congenial and failing.

“Like I said, Argent is a name that isn’t well liked around here for a variety of reasons,” Stiles said, shrugging. “Shooting at the sheriff’s son out in the preserve when you don’t have permit to do so isn’t going to help ingratiate you to the town.”

“Sheriff’s son?” another voice muttered behind Gerard, coming out of the tree line.

Stiles’ smiled and waved at the brunette who’d spoken. “That’s me.”

“Grandfather?”

“Allison,” Gerard turned to her. “It was an honest mistake, a slip of the finger. Oscar has apologized and we were about to go on our way.”

“I was just letting your grandfather know that this is private property,” Stiles said helpfully, watching the byplay between the two with interest. “I was also letting him know that there is no hunting in the preserve without a permit, which I’m fairly sure none of you have.”

Allison turned and smiled, dimples and all. “I’m really sorry. I’m sure my grandfather told you that we’re new here.”

“He mentioned something like that,” Stiles agreed, raising a brow at her. “I told him that Argents aren’t going to be very welcome here after what happened ten years ago.”

“Oh.” Allison frowned. “We’d hoped to settle in here and be a part of the community.”

Thunder rolled above them, and Stiles felt more than saw the lightning crack. He felt the rain leaving the sky moments before it hit the trees and then finally those underneath.

“Fuck.” The hunters cursed as a group before they began pulling up the hoods of their jackets or hoodies.

Stiles didn’t take his eyes off Allison or Gerard. She quickly lifted the hood of her jacket over her dark hair, but Gerard didn’t move beyond, tightening his grip on the weapon in his hand.

“Do you think we could meet someplace out of the rain?” Allison stepped closer to Stiles, ignoring her grandfather’s hushed admonishment. “Maybe you could tell me how to fit in here? Make people realize that we aren’t as bad as my Aunt Kate.”

Aunt Kate huh?” Stiles shook his head, rain flying. “I don’t think I’m your best option for that. If you decide to stay, then you should try sticking to the law and not trying to murder people. That should help.” He gave her a sharp grin when she stepped back. “I need to head home, this rain isn’t going to let up anytime soon. I wasn’t kidding about this being private property or those permits though.”

“We should head back to the rental anyway,” Allison said, glancing at Gerard. “This storm doesn’t seem safe to be traveling the preserve in, even with a permit.”

“Probably not,” Stiles agreed. “If you head back the way you came and turn west, you’ll hit the road, it shouldn’t be a long out. I’m assuming you came in that way?”

“Yes, thank you,” Allison said, dimpling at him again. “Come on.” She gathered up the hunters, and they made their way back the way they’d come.

“There’s more to you than meets the eye young man,” Gerard said, narrowing his eyes, raising the gun in his hand a little.

“That might be true Mr. Argent,” Stiles said. “But do you really want to risk shooting the sheriff’s son right now?” He smiled, showing his teeth, even while his gut tightened, and he gathered his spark for whatever defense he could manage.

“No.” Gerard lowered the weapon once again. “Not yet anyway.” He turned and went in the direction the others had.

Stiles let out-breath, releasing the hold on his spark slowly.

“Courting danger and chaos without me,” Hisashi said, coming out from behind a tree, twirling an arrow in his hand. “Now that is definitely rude and unkind.”

“It was supposed to be an uneventful walk,” Stiles said, grimacing when Hisashi slung a jacket over his shoulders. Hisashi pressed a brief hand to his uninjured right arm, bleeding off some of the overflow of magic and grounding Stiles enough to cause the buzz in his blood to even out. “I should’ve known better with both the Hales and the Argents taking up residence in town.”

“Looks like the new Argent Princess is taking tricks from her Aunt’s tool chest,” Hisashi said as they began the walk home. “That was a bit more subtle than Kate was known for, but it was still fairly heavy handed for a first meeting.”

“As long as she doesn’t start trawling the schools or murdering people, she can flirt with whoever she wants.”

“So, we’re keeping an eye on them.”

Stiles rolled his eyes before he could stop himself. He glanced at Hisashi incredulously. “Seriously?”

“I’ve already got the hags keeping an eye on them and I’ve informed a few of the others that they’re in town,” Hisashi shrugged when Stiles frowned. “It’s not like we can keep it a secret and it’s better to recruit them to keep a watch on them for us, than for them to watch and plan on their own.”

“We need to put word out.” Stiles sighed, running a hand over his face in a futile attempt to wipe the water away. “Most of the others won’t attack them unprovoked, but there are a few that might and then there are a few that might get some false courage.”

“You’re going to put an order of protection out on the Argents?”

“Fuck no.” Stiles laughed humorlessly. “But they’ll have to leave them to me unless it’s in direct self-defense.”

“That’ll work in the short term,” Hisashi conceded. “What about a permanent solution?”

“I don’t plan to have the Argents here long term,” Stiles said darkly.

Thunder rolled above them again, drowning out anything Hisashi might have said. Lightning followed almost immediately as they emerged from the trees at the edge of Stiles’ yard. They stopped at the tree line under the meagre protection of the trees.

Stiles leaned back against one of the trees and watched the sky. “How did you know to come find me?”

“When did you realize I was there?” Hisashi countered.

“The touch of chaos magic hitting the arrow,” Stiles said, rolling his head against the trunk of the tree to look at Hisashi. “I was already moving, but it still would have ended up in my arm if you hadn’t added that little push.”

“Can’t have my friend getting impaled by a hunter’s arrow,” Hisashi growled, glaring back the way they’d come. “It’s bad form. I figured you didn’t want me to destroy them though.” He frowned at Stiles.

“Don’t say friend like it’s a bad word,” Stiles said, huffing, closing his eyes, and pressing his head back against the tree. “I appreciate you holding back though, anything more would have been messy, and we don’t need to look like the bad guys to the town at large.”

“I’m sure we could have come up with something,” Hisashi shrugged when Stiles glanced at him, shoving wet hair over his shoulder with a look of distaste. He didn’t move to go into the house, though. “Animal attack maybe?”

“Against a party that size? With all those weapons?” Stiles shook his head. “You have a tremendous amount of faith either in my ability to pull something like that off. Or the stupidity of the humans in the area.”

“Six of one half a dozen of another,” Hisashi replied.

“Why were you out there?” Stiles decided to change the subject back to his original question.

“I found your little alpha and set up a meeting for this evening,” Hisashi answered. “Just good timing that I was there to keep you from imitating a kebab.”

“That could of waited until I got back.” Stiles braced his foot on the trunk and folded his arms over his chest, leveling a look at Hisashi. “Come on man, what’s going on?”

“You shouldn’t be wandering out there on your own,” Hisashi threaded his fingers from scalp to root, his magic crackling as it dried his hair. A barrier snapped up. He’d obviously tired of the rain. His robes shifted into shadow briefly before reforming into dry garments of the same black silk he tended to favor for every day. “Especially with the turmoil settling over the area. It’s affecting your magic – No!” He slashed a hand through the air when Stiles opened his mouth to speak. “No,” He repeated softly. “I’m not so blind to your troubles as you seem to think little Stormbringer. You’re becoming less of a controlled storm, but more of a wild thing.”

“A wild thing?” Stiles mused, gaze drawn away from Hisashi and back to the lightning dancing across the sky.

“You can’t afford to write the Argents off as a normal threat,” Hisashi added heatedly. “These Hales might not be so bad, for all that I find them delicious, their pain and chaos is mostly in echoes and future possibilities. The Argents bring not only all of that, but they bring death and destruction. What they bring is not echoes, it’s an absolute.”

“You know I can take care of myself Hisashi,” Stiles pushed off the tree to lay a hand on his friend’s arm. “I won’t deny that you’ve had my back in some bad situations, but I’ve handled myself in each one of those and others without you.”

“I know that.” Frustration edged Hisashi’s words. Shadows like vapor sprung up around him, dancing in a rhythm all their own. “What you fail to understand is that you pulled me weak and wounded from my prison. Vulnerable all the way to my very essence and instead of fearing me, instead of looking for ways to destroy me you wrapped me in your clothes – opened your home to me – fed me from your table and gave me your bed. Mieczysław, as capable as you are, I will forever be at your side.”

“You owe no debt to me Hisashi,” Stiles replied, his voice hushed, the words mixing in among the fall of the rain. “You never did.”

Hisashi bowed his head to acknowledge Stiles’ words, even as the set of his mouth denied them.

“I’m serious.” Stiles gripped Hisashi’s biceps through the silk cloth, his rain-soaked hands leaving dark prints on the dried fabric. Hisashi had protected himself from the elements but not from Stiles. Typical.

“Not in your eyes,” Hisashi turned his face from Stiles glare. “And you are perhaps correct that after all this time any debt that was owed has been mitigated, but my little Stormbringer, curse breaker, spark of mischief – you are the only being I would willing lay my life aside for, even now.”

Stiles caught his breath to argue, wanting to shake this man who had become his best friend – his brother, over the years.

“Give me a bit of credit, little one. I know better than to throw myself away.” Hisashi grinned slightly, shaking off Stiles’ grip and patting him on the head. “Besides, I can’t very well keep you save if I’m not here.”

“As long as you do know I can take care of myself.” Stiles sighed, pushing his hair off his forehead and finally heading towards the house. He peeled his shirt off before he was halfway across the yard and sat on the covered steps to wipe the worst of the mud off his feet before attempting to go inside.

“I have no doubt about your capabilities,” Hisashi acknowledged, gliding across the yard and up the steps without getting another drop of water on him, barring the dark splotches where Stiles had gripped his robes. “Just your inability to be omniscient.”

“Well,” Stiles conceded, heaving himself off the steps and turning to head into the house. He swiped his coffee mug on the way, dumping the contents off the porch first. “That’ll have to do I suppose.”

“You should get cleaned up and something to eat. I’ll fill you in on what I know about the Hales for your meeting later.” Hisashi tossed Stiles a towel.

“I met some of the pack in the woods. At least I assume they were from the pack, and we don’t have multiple Hale family branches returning. I can’t deal with that kind of a headache right now.” He dumped the shirt in the washer, followed by the towel after a cursory wipe down. “I’ll grab a shower, but I need information on the Argents more than the Hales right now.”

“Perhaps.” Hisashi nodded briefly, pulling at his lips with his fingers. “I’ll make a few phone calls while you’re in the shower, see what I can find out to add to last night’s information.”

“Where am I meeting Alpha Hale? And does he know who he’s meeting?” Stiles stripped his jeans off, tossing them in the washer with his shirt, and headed out of the mudroom in only his boxer briefs. He headed straight through the kitchen and up the backstairs to the upstairs bathroom.

“He knows he’s meeting with the Guardian of the territory.”

“So, he knows I’m not a shifter, but he doesn’t know who I am?” Stiles turned the shower on, waiting for the water to heat.

“You’ve changed in the last ten years, and he may not even recognize your name, why confuse matters.” The mischievous tilt to his mouth belied the casual tone.

“I’m sure,” Stiles replied, rolling his eyes. “Go make your phone calls, I don’t need you to scrub my back.”

“I’ll order lunch as well,” Hisashi said, heading for the door as the shower began to billow steam. “Take your time. It’ll be at least an hour before it gets here.” He shut the door behind him, leaving Stiles alone.

 

 

Chapter Three

“So, want to start with the Hales or the Argents?” Hisashi lounged in the armchair

Stiles gave the mangled straw of his drink one last pull before he set the cup on the coffee table and sat back on the sofa. “I should probably be concentrating on the Argents, but I can tell you’re just dying to tell me about the Hales. Why? I thought you disliked them?”

“You know how I feel about kin slayers,” Hisashi began tilting his head in acknowledgment when Stiles nodded and waved him on. “Perhaps Talia Hale didn’t attempt to kill her kin in the most direct way, but she broke faith with their ancestral territory for newer pastures and tried to destroy the heart of the magic here. All out of some combination of fear and thirst for power. This sundering of Alpha Derek Hale and his pack from the main line of the Hale’s is as akin it kin slaying as she could have done without putting her claws into his neck or his heart.”

“Ahh.” Stiles felt his lips curve into a smile as realization flooded him. “He reminds you of yourself a little bit.”

“He’s nowhere near as powerful as I am,” Hisashi sniffed, plucking at the sleeves of his robe. “But perhaps the thought had crossed my mind. At least he isn’t alone in his banishment.”

“Neither are you,” Stiles reminded him gently, kicking Hisashi’s calf.

“Not anymore, no.”

“He might now see it as banishment either,” Stiles mused, laying his head on the back of the couch to look at the ceiling. “If his mother really is a power hungry as we’re thinking-”

“My sources say that she’s been making some questionable choices. She’s refused to allow pure humans to stay in her pack, to the point that everyone is asked at sixteen, eighteen and twenty-one if they turn it down the final time, they have their memories wiped and are sent from the pack.”

“What!” Stiles shot up straight. “Why haven’t we heard anything about this.”

“Because they only had to do it to a couple of individuals, most pack members took the bit when they first moved away from here because it was put as a protection method.” Hisashi spread his hands, but his face displayed his anger and disgust.

“Still.” Stiles pressed his lips together for a moment as he thought of the horror the venerated Hale pack had become. “I would have thought something like that would have been more well known.”

“It’s known enough,” Hisashi replied, shrugging. “She isn’t aware of it, but she’s under watch by the packs around her. No one wants her deciding to encroach on their territory. She hasn’t noticed because she’s become so insular in the past decade.”

“What happened to those that refused the bite?”

“It’s rumored that Peter Hale got them out.” Hisashi smile, sharp teeth glinting in the light. “Now there’s a man I wouldn’t mind getting to know, he carries such lovely chaos in his blood.” He drew his finger over his teeth, eyes almost glazing over.

“Okay,” Stiles drew the word out, grimacing. “That was a bit more than I needed to know about the Hale pack. Back on topic, do I need to worry about Talia’s pack showing up here?”

“No, not right now.” Hisashi focused back on him. “And Peter Hale is on topic, he’s joined your little alpha’s pack, brought his daughter along. She’s the only child among the small group.”

“Malia.” Stiles nodded. He’d assumed the girl was a Hale. He hadn’t realized that she was the infamous left-hand’s daughter. “Having a cub with them will make them more sensitive to the territory issues. Especially with this sundering, I imagine.”

“Yes,” Hisashi said simply. “Melody Hale is among those that returned, so she’ll count as an elder. That gives them a fair balance for a pack their size, all things considered.”

“I recognized Isaac and Cora in the woods, who else came back or was there anyone new?”

“All of them our returnees, except perhaps the child – Malia?” He glanced at Stiles before continuing at his nod. “Her origin is a true mystery, there is no mother of record. Only Peter Hale is listed on her birth certificate, mother is listed as unknown.” He nodded when Stiles hummed in interest. “The other two that returned are Erica Reyes and Vernon Boyd. The two of them own a renovation firm and I imagine they’ll be the ones in charge of rehabbing the old house if they go in that direction. At least Talia left the house and the land immediately surrounded it in the family, so that is still theirs.”

“Yes.” Stiles sat back. He rubbed his hand over his mouth, contemplating the coming meeting. “They’re all wolves then.” He nodded to himself, not really asking. “Hopefully they don’t follow Talia’s path in that regard when they decide to add to their pack.”

“You think they’ll expand soon?” Hisashi reached forward to pluck the last eggroll out of the carton, dipping it into the pink sweet and sour sauce before biting into it with sharp white teeth.

“I don’t know,” He said, shaking his head. “I won’t know until I meet and can get a feel for him. The wind likes to gossip about everything, but it’s pretty vague about things and as good as I’ve gotten at interpreting the warnings, other things are still better dealt with in person.”

Hisashi finished chewing. “Your father is probably already aware of our new inhabitants, but you should call him.”

“I called him right after my shower while you were talking with your informants. He’s uneasy with all this, but grateful to be informed.” Stiles shrugged at Hisashi’s look. His dad did his best with the supernatural world. Still, he had difficulty with the grey area that Stiles existed in because mundane law couldn’t encompass the intricacies of the supernatural world and let them remain in the dark.

“Your father is much better acclimated to us now than he was in the beginning,” Hisashi said, wiping his fingers fastidiously with a napkin. “I thought I was going to have to find someone to wipe his memories eventually.”

“He’d always known I was different. It was a little hard to hide the lightning that sparked when I was an infant or the way I tended to glow, among other things.” Stiles didn’t think about his childhood much, colored as it was with his mom’s laughter. “It helped that my mom was around to temper his fear of it. She didn’t has a drop of active magic, as you know, but she was aware of it. She couldn’t train me much, but mom knew enough to teach me how to hide when I was old enough to listen.”

“And anything your mother declared for, your father would accept.” Hisashi nodded. They’d been through this conversation before. Stiles knew that Hisashi liked to retread the ground though, he seemed to find his parent’s relationship dynamics fascinating and revolting in turns. “I find your father a good man, but I don’t exactly like him sometimes.”

“I know that,” Stiles said bemusedly. “I don’t know why you have such an issue with him, but as long as you keep on as you are I don’t really have a problem with it. You’re entitled to your feelings about him.” Stiles shrugged at Hisashi’s grimace. “You don’t have to like him just because he’s my dad.”

“Well, I suppose that’s a good thing.”

“So now that I know who is here in this Hale pack,” Stiles said, turning the conversation back to the matter at hand. “What else can you tell me.”

Hisashi explained what he knew about how Derek came into his power and the failure of the ritual to pass the alpha spark to his mother. Stiles raised an eyebrow at that but waved Hisashi off when he’d finished talking.

Stiles began to clean up from lunch. Keeping his hands busy while he thought over what Hisashi had told him. It did explain one reason why Talia had sent Derek back to Beacon Hills and sundered him completely from the mainline of the Hales. Stiles dumped the trash into the bin before moving to the sink. He washed his hands absently, staring out the window blindly. He shook himself out of his thoughts before drying his hands and returning to the living room.

“You have a plan then?” Hisashi lounged across the sofa now, an unlit cigarette in his fingers.

“I plan to kick your ass if you light that thing in here,” Stiles replied, plucking it out of his fingers and waving it in front of Hisashi’s face. “We had a deal.”

“I’m not lighting it,” He protested, taking it back. “It isn’t even real.” Hisashi frowned sadly as he snapped his fingers, and the cigarette disappeared in a wisp of dark shadow.

“No smoking anything in here.” Stiles pressed his lips together, narrowing his eyes at Hisashi. “There’s the porch if you must do it.”

“I wasn’t going to light it,” Hisashi repeated, rolling his eyes. “I promised not to smoke in the house, and I haven’t, you know that.”

Stiles fell back into the recliner with a huff, “I know. I know!” He scrubbed his hands through his hair before looking at Hisashi again. “I guess I’m just more on edge about the next topic of conversation that I thought I was.”

“Hmph.” Hisashi rolled on his back but turned his head to look at Stiles. “The Argents aren’t going to go away with a smile and a bit of misdirection. Not this time.”

“No.” Stiles slumped forward, his elbows on his knees as he put his head in his hands, staring at the floor. “No, they aren’t. No matter how well things go with the Hales, things with the Argents are going to be messy. This could – no-” Stiles lifted his head and met Hisashi’s gaze. “This will spill over into the town, it’s just a matter of how much of it we can contain.”

“Pretty much. We already know they were out in the preserve hunting. Whether they were actually on the trail of the Hales or were out there looking for someone else.” Hisashi shrugged. Gathering a thick lock of hair, he brushed the ends over his lips, humming.

“What are you thinking?” Stiles smiled darkly when Hisashi raised a brow at him and stopped humming. “Don’t give me that, I recognize that expression.” Stiles gestured at Hisashi.

“I think you’re right,” Hisashi said, adjusting his body until he was lying half reclined against the arm of the sofa. “This is going to be messy. I’m going to feed well, but I don’t think I’m going to like it much if it doesn’t end with you hale and hearty.”

Stiles sat back, he lifted his foot to balance his ankle across his knee, and just stared at Hisashi. “No pun intended?”

Hisashi grinned, “Perhaps, perhaps not.”

“When I talked with dad, we agreed that this fell into my jurisdiction. He’s going to stay out of it as much as he can. We’ll keep him as up to date as we can, but-” Stiles spread his hands, feeling the corner of his mouth kicking up as he shrugged.

“Plausible deniability.” Hisashi nodded, chewing on the ends of his hair again. “The faster we get the Argent’s dealt with, the less paperwork and other issues, he’ll have to worry about.”

“That’s my thought as well,” Stiles agreed. He clasped his fingers together and draped them over his knee. “I know you wanted to take them earlier in the preserve, but we couldn’t be sure that we’d have been able to get them all or that we wouldn’t have taken out someone innocent with that approach. We weren’t prepared for them.” He shook his head when Hisashi sat up, eyes blazing. “Defending myself was something I was prepared to do, but I wasn’t in a position to attack even with you at my back and a storm overhead. I might be powerful, but as you’ve reminded me, I’m not invincible.”

“I don’t like that they’re out there in our town,” Hisashi grumbled, flipping the sleeves of his robe out his way as he let black foxfire dance along his fingertips. “The Hale’s are going to like it about as much as I do.”

“I’m not exactly ecstatic myself,” Stiles said blandly. “Now are you going to stop complaining about it and help me neutralize them?”

“Of course, I am,” Hisashi said, closing his hand around the foxfire to extinguish it. “Knowing you, there is more to it than simply leading them into the woods and having them never come out.” He frowned, obviously disappointed by that.

“If we want to keep them out of Beacon Hills and send a warning to any future hunter clans that decide we might be a territory to settle in, then we have to crush them. We need to take away their funding as well as their ability to function in the mundane world so easily. That’s how they’ve been able to get away with what they do, and it stops here in Beacon Hills. That’s the message we want to send. We stopped Kate Argent and brought the eyes of the mundane law onto what she was doing-”

“Even if it made everyone uneasy and it wasn’t entirely by design,” Hisashi said, but he was leaning forward now, his eyes shining, and mouth curved in a smirk. “You’re correct that the best way to destroy them will be to cut them off from their ability to hide what they’re doing in the mundane world so easily.” He frowned. “You know that this isn’t going to be as bloodless as that though.”

“I can hope.” Stiles smiled sardonically. “But I’m not naive. I figure that at the least Gerard is going to have to go, I’m not sure about Allison, but she is the matriarch for this branch, and they’re supposed to be following her orders.” He shrugged, sighing and letting his footfall to the floor with a thud before standing. “I need to update the program and start it running, but the Argent’s should find themselves insolvent before the week is out.”

“My, my, my, little Stormbringer,” Hisashi stood as well and looked down as Stiles, a delighted smile lighting up his face. “You’ve been keeping things from me.”

“I keep a lot of things from you Hisashi,” Stiles said seriously. “You know I make this territory my first priority below dad and you. Sometimes I need to make plans to keep in reserve. You know I don’t share everything with you.”

“I’m aware, but usually, I can guess at some of what you’re working on.” Hisashi smiled, reaching over and ruffling Stiles’ hair. “I didn’t realize that you’d already taken steps against the hunters, and I should have. You have grown into your role more than I knew, little Stormbringer.”

“There are more ways to unleash storms than what is happening outside,” Stiles acknowledged what Hisashi didn’t say. “You did teach me that much, and so did dad.”

“Sometimes the quiet storms do the most damage?” Hisashi’s skepticism was written across his features.

“This one will,” Stiles replied, turning away. “It’ll crumble the foundation of the family if they move against anyone in our territory.”

“Not a preemptive strike then?”

“I can’t risk making it look like we’re the aggressors here,” Stiles spoke over his shoulder as he headed to the door at the end of the hall. Stiles kept his office next to the meditation and training room, not so much out of convenience, but it was better for him to keep it on another floor from his bedroom, or his sleep would be more interrupted than it already was by the ease of access. “You know that.”

“I’ll send the warnings around, hopefully we’ll be able to keep their attack minimal before we can act.” Hisashi followed him through the door, standing in the doorway as Stiles threw himself into a chair near his desk and woke his computer up.

“After what we saw in the woods, I don’t think it will take long for us to have a reason.” Stiles made eye contact with his friend. “I’ll let the Hales know unless they turn out to be completely anathema to the territory. I’m betting the Argent’s will make their move that way. They’ve managed to stay under the radar, but the Argent’s are not subtle. When they choose their target, we’ll know as long as we’re paying attention.”

“You have a bug in their system already.” Hisashi smiled his lupine grin that had caused more than one of his acquaintances to make a quick retreat but only made Stiles meet it with one of his own.

“You should go do what you need to do if you’re going to make this meeting with me. Especially since you haven’t told me exactly where it is yet.” He quirked his brows at Hisashi to let him know that he hadn’t gotten away with that omission of details.

“I’ll be back in time,” Hisashi deflected. “Make sure you’re ready in-” He glanced at the ornate grandfather clock that Stiles kept in the corner of the office. “four hours. The meeting is at six, that’ll give us time to get into place before they get there. Make sure no one else is lurking around.”

“Of course.” Stiles grimaced at the thought of this meeting being interrupted by the Argents. As much as they needed them to make a move, this meeting would not be the place for it. “Derek Hale may regret choosing Beacon Hills to settle in, despite the rudimentary claim he has here.”

“Perhaps,” Hisashi said without inflection. “Make sure you’re dressed appropriately and for the sake of my dignity, where some shoes.”

“I hate shoes.” Stiles glared at him, huffing a breath. He just resisted crossing his arms. Because he wasn’t a child.

“Pay attention to the time.” Hisashi said over his shoulder as he glided out of the door, disappearing half into his shadows.

Stiles sighed and turned back to his computer to get to work updating his protocols against an Argent incursion so that he could start the implementation of everything with a few clicks here at his keyboard or the correct sequence from his phone. He had no intention of letting them get away with running roughshod over his territory again, not now that it was his to protect. It had been Talia Hale’s right and duty to take measures last time, and she’d failed. Stiles wasn’t going fail, come flood and lightning. He’d take them all down.

 

Intangible, Untamed, and Wild – 2/3

 

Intangible, Untamed, and Wild – 3/3

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5 Comments

  1. Pingback: Intangible, Untamed, and Wild – 2/3 – Sibyl Moon

  2. Pingback: Intangible, Untamed, and Wild – Sibyl Moon

  3. Pingback: Intangible, Untamed, and Wild – 3/3 – Sibyl Moon

  4. That was a very interesting start! I like your Stiles and Hisashi and what you are starting to tell us about them and the Hales.
    I’m looking forward to the next part!

  5. A fascinating start and I love the way we learn about Stiles and past events gradually but enough to make sense of things that are happening.
    Gerard Argent is full of himself if he starts shooting unknown people practically as soon as he returns to the territory. Such over confidence and blatant disrespect for others and for the law definitely puts him first in line for crushing! Although it sounds like Talia has a similar disrespect and over inflated sense of her own value.

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