“So,” Stiles said flopping down on the sofa, John lifted a brow at him. “Tell me about my name.”
John put his paper down. “I don’t know much.”
Stiles flailed. “You do know something though, right?”
John shrugged. “I’ve already told you most of it. She gave you her grandfather’s name. Both of them.”
Stiles brow furrowed. “Both of them.”
“Your grandfathers were Mr Beynon and Mr Topezuvjw.”
“She gave me their surnames…” Stiles said rubbing at his face. “So I could find them?”
John shook his head. “She’d have given you something different if she wanted you to find them.”
Stiles lifted an eyebrow. “Really? She didn’t even want me to know all this. No,” Stiles shook his head. “That’s not why she did it.”
“You have a theory.”
Stiles shrugged. “To mark me? So if someone in the know came along… That doesn’t make sense either,” Stiles stopped. “It’s a warning. Everytime she said my name, she would be reminding herself - ”
“That she ran away from them.”
Stiles kicked at the floor. Debating.
“I found something. Someone.”
“What do you mean?” John asked frowning.
“I mean… Did mom have brothers?” Stiles asked. John nodded slowly.
“I’ve always thought that,” John answered. “She never said it though.”
“Did she speak welsh?”
“Welsh?” John asked.
“Yeah, Welsh, the people of Wales speak it, Wales being in the UK. Europe. Across the pond. London and Braveheart.”
“I…” John gave a quizzical look. “I’m not sure. She did have a strange accent sometimes, but only sometimes. She stopped sounding English after a while though.”
“Wait,” Stiles sat up straight. “Mom had an English accent?”
John chuckled. “She had trained herself out of it. Said she didn’t want to stick out. She sounded like she was born here after a month or so.”
“Trained…” Stiles said softly. “Wales is a possibility then.”
“What did you find?” John asked gently.
“A name,” Stiles said pulling the snapshot out his pocket. “A face. Fflewdwr Topezuvjw.”
“Bless you,” John said. Stiles didn’t smile.
“I stole it from someone. From their photo album,” Stiles said. “I want to show them a picture of mom. See if they know her.” Stiles glanced at his dad. “Do you think…” Stiles trailed off.
“Is this wise?” Stiles asked. “She ran away. She hid.”
“She could have called you John,” John replied. “Instead, she called you something stupid. I’d like to think that was a sign from her to do the stupid thing.”
“Hey, Argent?” Stiles asked hanging back. Chris paused and let Lydia and Allison overtake them.
“Yeah?” he asked, raising a brow.
“Just wanted to show you something, see if it rings a bell. Scott's waiting on me so we can - I mean if you - later we can talk - just – "
“Stiles,” Chris droned. “What is it?”
“Here,” Stiles said thrusting his phone forward. Chris glanced down then froze. His hand came out shakily and took the phone from him.
“So... Should we talk later? When Scott isn't waiting on me?”
“Yeah,” Chris rasped. “I'll make time for this. Come round for dinner?”
Stiles nodded. “Sure, I'll be round - “
“And bring more,” Chris' eyes flicked up as he passed the phone over. “If you can?”
“Defos. Yes. I've got a box of... Mysteries, I guess you'd call it,” Stiles said running his hand through his hair.
Chris stared hard at Stiles for a moment, a strange look on his face. He lifted a hand tilted Stiles’ chin to the side. Stiles held his breath.
“Sorry,” Chris said suddenly, stepping back and dropping his hand. “Later then.”
They stood for a moment more before Chris turned to leave. Stiles waited a moment before following after, just in time to see Chris usher the girls into his car and Scott give a goofy wave to Allison. Scott turned to him.
“Algebra then Arkham?”
Stiles shook his head.
“Not tonight man, I got plans.”
Stiles fidgeted all the way up the lift, cradling the cardboard box close to his chest. He still wasn't sure if he even wanted Chris to see it, if he could lay something this personal bare, could say it all out loud.
Argent opened the door up as the elevator pinged. He looked anxious.
“Allison went to Lydia's. We're alone.”
“Great,” Stiles muttered under his breath and stepping into the apartment. “Not creepy or ominous at all.”
“I could bring her back if you'd like?” Chris said closing the door behind him. “She'd need to know about... Eventually.”
Stiles licked his lips. “Know what?”
“I've got chicken pasta bake, should be about ready. If you're hungry?”
Stiles nodded. “Sure.”
They sat awkwardly across from each other at the breakfast bar, the cardboard box sitting like an elephant in the room. Stiles picked at the pasta - it was fine just...
“Fuck it, the food will keep,” Argent said suddenly, pushing his plate to the side. Stiles sighed in relief following suit and shoving his pasta away. “What's in the box?” he asked. Stiles breathed.
“The last few pieces of my mom.”
Argent's jaw clenched.
“No,” Stiles said reaching for the box. “First, I want you to explain these photos.”
Stiles pulled out the photo he had stolen all those months ago. The Argent wedding.
Chris' eyes scanned the picture. “Ah, I see him. That's Fflewdwr. Braw. We used to call him Braw. It's a nickname his sister gave him.”
“Brawd,” Stiles swallowed. “It's welsh for brother,” Stiles took a deep breath. “One of the last things she said before - “
Stiles exhaled. Chris eyed him cautiously.
“How - "
“Disease. Frontotemporal dementia. Her brain shriveled up and she died,” Stiles said quickly. Chris blinked.
“I... What... “ Stiles tried to grasp the words for the question he was trying to ask. “Who the fuck was my mom?”
Chris' hands rubbed over his face.
“She... She was a lore keeper, knew a lot. She had these... instincts for the supernatural, could do things. Her family was famous for it, they would hunt things like Darachs and magic abusers and so on,” Chris eyed Stiles. “Looks like she may have passed that down.”
Stiles felt like his throat was clogged up.
“Her parents sent her and her brother over from Wales when she was fourteen. I was seventeen, spent a lot of time up at the homestead in Washington. That's where we kept her - “
“Kept her?” Stiles frowned.
Chris shifted. “I was young at the time, but... yeah. She was a prize, bartered for. There were things... expected of her.”
“What...” Stiles' mind raced with possibilities. “You need to be clearer.”
“Marriage. An Argent Topezuvjw alliance. Both old hunting families, hadn't mixed for a few generations... Arranged marriage. It... wasn't unusual. Mine was arranged, but your mother...”
“Didn't want to.”
“She may have, eventually. Just not... then. Or to whomever was chosen. She was young. Free spirited,” Chris shrugged. “She got involved with someone she wasn't supposed to.”
“Ah,” Stiles replied.
“It was me.”
Stiles stopped. He could hear the blood rushing in his ears.
“We were on again off again. I travelled a lot, she travelled too, but when we were together...” Chris paused. “I loved her. I think she loved me. But then, Victoria.”
“Who arranged that?” Stiles asked.
Chris snorted. “Gerard had two favourite candidates, and my mother hated them both. She put me and Victoria on a very dangerous mission together,” Chris smiled fondly. “We nearly didn't survive.”
Stiles frowned. “So your mother arranged it?”
“My mother wanted Victoria to succeed her. I understood why.”
“Allison said she had passed away.”
“Before the wedding. Gerard still tried to call it off. Somehow, Victoria convinced him.”
Stiles nodded. “I can see that.”
“Your mother was there. Sad. I thought it was because of the wedding but... She left a year later.” Chris frowned. “Gerard was furious.”
Stiles bit his lip, mind racing.
“Chris. I need something from you.”
“I'd like a dna test.”
Chris blinked. “What.”
“My mother was pregnant when she met my dad. And I just...” Stiles shrugged. “You're the only person I know who was even there. I wanted to rule people out.”
“Stiles...” Chris sighed. “Of course, but I was always faithful to Vicky after we married.”
Stiles closed his eyes as he finally admitted his thoughts out loud. “It's not your paternity I'm testing for.”
“Mischief! Where are you?” sang Claudia.
Stiles giggled from under the table, putting his hand over his mouth to smother them, watching his mom’s bare feet sink into the grass.
“Are you… in the bushes?” she called jumping into the bushes.
Stiles bit his lips to stop the giggling.
“Where oh where could you beeeeeeeeeeee?”
Stiles’ eyes widened as she got closer to the table, she crouched down.
“There you are! Found you!”
Stiles darted from out under the table. Hands wrapped around his waist and lifted him into the air.
“Now I have to kiss you a hundred times!”
“It’s hard, because of the uh, cancer thing,” Chris said gruffly, tapping the steering wheel.
Stiles nodded around his mouthful of burger. “Black goo, failed transformation thing,” Stiles frowned. “Failed?”
Chris tilted his head. “Yeah. Failed.”
It's dark outside already, but the dash lights of Chris’ car are on and the glow from the McDonalds’ parking lot lights are enough to see by. His dad was out on shift when he had gotten home from school and Stiles had been staring at the fridge trying to figure out his dinner plans when Chris texted. So, drive through.
“Peter told me you turn or you die,” Stiles commented raising his eyebrows. Chris’ face remained stoic.
“He’s a danger. Stay away from him.”
Stiles shrugged. “He likes me.”
Chris turned towards him. “And when he finds out your Gerard’s son?”
Stiles’ breath stilled. He took a slurp of his pepsi, chewing on the straw.
“Is that was the test said?” Stiles asked quietly. Chris nodded.
“You share the same genetic markers, not all of them though. The results were… corrupted,” Chris said. “We share around twenty-five percent DNA. Which is enough to confirm for half siblings.”
Stiles let a breath of air leave him. “I uh, I’m still waiting on my results. I imagine they’re the same.”
Chris nodded. “Yours may be having the same problems with Gerard’s sample. The facility is owned by ArgentArms so I had to - ”
“Which is why I’m double checking with my own samples,” Stiles interrupted kicking his feet up onto the dash. “Though I can’t figure why you’d lie about this,” he muttered.
“Feet off the dash.”
“Oh my god,” Stiles groaned putting his feet on the floor. “So… bro.”
Chris side eyed him. “Yeah?”
“Sorry, just getting used to it,” Stiles said letting it roll around in his mouth. “Bro.”
Chris shook his head lightly and stared out at the lot but there was a small smile tugging at his lips.
“Oh god,” Stiles said feeling a little sick. “I’m also Kate’s bro.”
Chris glanced at him. “She wasn’t always…” he shifted. “When I was about sixteen my mother took Kate on her first hunt. Something relatively simple. Or so we thought,” Chris said looking off into the distance. “Two men died, mother managed to bring her home but… it traumatised her.” Chris sighed. “She only ever went on hunts with Gerard after that. Couldn’t even look at my mother. I still have no idea what happened. She…”
Stiles shoved some more burger in his mouth.
“Everyone’s the hero of his own story,” Chris eventually said.
“Do you think that’s what the Darach thinks? Or the alphas?” Stiles asked, changing the subject. Chris shrugged.
Stiles snorted. “How long is that going to last? Considering they’re your neighbours?”
“I didn’t know about that. I’m looking to relocate.”
“Do you think… they heard us? The other night?” Stiles asked fidgeting.
“No. There’s more than walls protecting our apartment.”
Stiles raised an eyebrow. “Like?”
“Electrified windows. For one.”
“Huh,” he said chewing on his straw. “I was wondering…”
“Yeah?” Chris asked after Stiles trailed off.
“Your bestiary. Could I have like an english copy?” Stiles asked.
“It’s in archaic latin,” Chris said dryly. “For a reason.”
“Oh,” Stiles said running his hand over his head.
“I can give you some archaic latin books though. If you wanted. Help you learn?”
Stiles nodded. “That’d be… nice.”
“Alright. I better drop you home,” Chris said leaning forwards and starting the car. Stiles fastened his seat belt.
“Can we do this again?” Stiles asked. “I mean... I don't want us to be like, strangers...life changing stuff, for me, at least.”
Chris nodded. “Sure thing… bro.”
Stiles smiled a little.
The woods were tall and green, Stiles stomped through in his little wellies, his mother never far. He stomped into a clearing where he saw a ring of mushrooms.
“What’s this?” Stiles asked.
“Oooo,” Claudia said crouching down and pulling Stiles closer. “Those are uh, cylch y Tylwyth Teg,” she whispered. “Uh… like, dancing fairy rings.”
“What’s that mean?”
“Well those mushrooms are called toadstools - ”
“Is that because toads sit on them?”
“I’m not sure, but that sounds right,” she said booping Stiles on the nose. “What happens in the dead of night – usually under a full moon, the fairies come out and dance, they dance all night, until the circle is formed around them. Then in the morning they go back to where they came from and all that is left behind of their party is the circle.”
Stiles giggled and ran forwards toward the circle, Claudia grabbed him tight.
“No. Mieczyslaw, you must never go into a fairy ring. They will steal you.”
“But - ”
“Do you love me? Do you love dad?”
Stiles pulled at his mother’s grip, she tightened it.
“Do you love us?”
“Yes, momma,” Stiles cried.
“Do you want the fairies to steal you away? Never see us again?” she asked harshly.
“No,” Stiles mumbled, shaking his head.
“Then you must promise never to go into a fairy ring.”
“Okay…” Stiles squirmed, upset.
“What’s a promise?”
“A thing that cannot be broken.”
“My good boy,” she said running a hand over Stiles’ hair. “My baby,” she said kissing him. “Tell me what you promise?”
“Notta go to the fairy rings.”
“So clever,” she said giving him another kiss. “Now shall we go look at the baby rabbits we found and see if their momma came back to them?”
Had she been ill in those moments? Or was that true? In the light of werewolves Stiles now questioned everything his mother had ever said to him.
It’s dark in the house.
Stiles has been sitting on his mom’s side of the bed. Dad threw out most of her stuff a while ago, but there was still her perfume bottle, a jewellery stand with a few necklaces dangling, a huge jumper in the closet.
He had tried to go to sleep. Had brushed his teeth, put on his pyjamas, curled up in bed, put his phone across the room, closed his eyes, felt the sting of Gerard’s punch as Erica pleaded in the background.
He’s far older than you… less dashing when he pulls a gun…
He’d lurched to his dad’s room without thinking. He’s not there. Not due back till six in the morning. Stiles is lying on his mom’s side of the bed, hands scrunched up into the old ratty jumper. Some part of it even still smells like her.
That man made him. That man raped his mom. Made him. Stiles was…
No wonder his mom thought he was a monster.
He can remember the first time his mom hit him.
He can’t remember why she did it, what he had said, what he had done – if he had done anything at all.
He remembers being curled up in a blanket afterwards and given hot chocolates with whipped cream and marshmallows and fresh brownies, his mom putting him on her lap and snuggling him until he was laughing and happy again.
He remembers the seconds between the hit and the pain, the blood rushing to his face, the tears and snorts, the change in his mom’s face when she realised –
He was six. He was six.
It still makes him angry sometimes.
He woke up under the blanket, the jumper folded up on the bedside cabinet. His dad sleeping next to him. Stiles can feel the tears prick at the side of his eyes. He turned over. His dad stirred.
“You okay?” he muttered.
“Yeah,” Stiles rasped.
“Hey, kiddo,” his dad said pulling at his shoulder. “What’s wrong?”
Stiles turned back round to face his dad.
“This about… about your mom?” he asked quietly, still sleepy.
Stiles nodded. He opened his mouth but couldn’t find words.
“I don’t care,” his dad said in the silence. “Not that I don’t care, but telling or not telling doesn’t change anything. You’re my baby, my son. I love you no matter what.”
Stiles could just about make out his dad’s relaxed sleep heavy face, open and honest and good.
“Did mom?” asked Stiles shakily.
“Did mom what?”
Stiles swallowed past the lump in his throat, tears threatning. “Love me?”
His dad surged forwards and grabbed him into a tight hug.
“More than anything,” he said fiercely.
“How?" Stiles asked in a sob. "How could she when -”
“You were hers. She loved you. Loved you so much, so much it consumed her, I promise. It didn’t matter to her, only you mattered.”
“But I - ”
“Was her baby. She used to, she used to stand over your cot and just stare at you. For hours. She would make up all these… possibilities for you. One day you’d look like an astronaut, next a struggling artist in Italy, then a manager at the Buy More, or the owner of a coffee shop, or a cop like me. She wanted you so badly, wanted you to hurry up and talk to her, hurry up and walk with her, hurry up and cook with her,” John whispered, voice thick. “She wanted you. She loved you. And a terrible illness warped her and she… you were… but… she did. She loved you.”
Stiles clung to his dad. He didn’t understand.
Did he need to?
“You love me?” Stiles asked quietly.
“I love you,” John replied easily, honestly, openly.
“I love you too,” Stiles said back into the dark.
“Try and get some sleep kiddo,” John said pulling back and kissing Stiles head. Stiles nodded and burrowed a bit deeper into the pillows.
He had been six. Six.
He knew it was her. Her illness. Not him.
Doesn’t stop him thinking it was his fault. That he deserved it.
Stiles jumped a little when his dad tapped on the door.
His dad pushed open the door. “Just turning in, you’re up late.”
“Yeah,” Stiles said surveying the mess of his room. “I just… Don’t have anything to wear to… Heather’s.”
“Ah,” his dad said, entering the room and sitting down next to Stiles. “You have grown a lot over the summer. A growth spurt I suppose. I could take you out shopping? Invest in a nice suit. You end up wearing them a lot. Weddings, sometimes interviews, and funerals too sadly.”
Stiles rubbed at his eyes.
“It’d be nice to, dress up for Heather,” Stiles said finally.
“Alright, I’ll clear my Saturday. We’ll go shopping. Maybe get you some other clothes too if you’d like.”
“Thanks dad,” Stiles said, leaning against his dad. His dad wrapped an arm around him.
They end up in Macy’s looking awkwardly at suits.
“So, um, black?” Stiles asked.
The Sheriff frowned. “Yes. Maybe we should get someone to - ”
“Hello, welcome, do you need any help?”
They turned to face a well dressed man with a friendly smile.
“Caramel!” Stiles blurted out.
The guy blinked for a second then relaxed.
“Stiles! Oh my goodness, beansprout I didn’t recognise you with your hair like that like, it looks luscious!”
Stiles blushed. “Yeah I started growing it out over the summer,” he said self-consciously running his hand through his hair.
“It makes you look so mature, very sexy look.”
“Stiles…?” The Sheriff gently interrupted.
“Oh, yeah, uh,” Stiles fumbled. “Dad this is Caramel, Caramel, my dad the Sheriff. ”
“It’s actually just Carl when I’m on the shop floor. Nice to meet you sir,” Caramel said. “Now what can I help you boys with today?”
“Suit shopping,” the Sheriff replied.
“Excellent, any ideas what you’re looking for or are you open to suggestions?”
“Suggestions please,” Stiles said.
“Alright then, budget?”
“I think we’ll need everything, shirt, trousers, blazer, tie, so I’m expecting over $100, but not over $300 preferably. He’ll still growing.”
“Indeed he is,” Caramel said flashing a grin. “Alright then, what kind of suit? We’ve got some navies or tans in if you’re thinking of a party suit?”
“It’ll be a black suit,” John said evenly.
“Alright then, let me show you what we’ve got.”
Caramel turned and led the way.
“So when did you meet a man called Caramel?”
Stiles blushed again but raised an eyebrow. “I met him at night, obviously.”
John chucked. “Alright, kiddo, keep your secrets.”
Shopping went much more smoothly with Caramel guiding them along, keeping Stiles laughing and boosting his confidence. Sitting outside of the changing rooms seeing Stiles step out in suits, the Sheriff was suddenly struck with how grown up his son suddenly was.
“You alright, you kinda spaced?” Stiles said fidgeting with collar of the blue shirt he was trying on.
“Yeah, no. Just thinking… you look like a young man suddenly,” John said tearing up.
“Very dashing,” Caramel added.
“Everyone can just shut up,” Stiles mumbled. “It’s just a suit.”
“The man makes the suit,” Caramel said gently. “How about I fetch some ties for you?” he said tactfully leaving the Stilinski men. John stood up and walked over to Stiles.
“I know it’s been a tough few months with…” John sighed. “Everything. But you have coped so well. I’m so proud of you. Your mom would be too.”
Stiles gave a teary smile. “Thanks dad.”
“Too cool to hug your dad in the mall?”
“Nope,” Stiles said opening his arms and hugging his dad. They broke apart soon after.
“So uh, Carl seems nice.”
“Carl acts like a Queen over all her subjects.”
“Seems like you may be developing a type.”
“Oh my god, dad, shut up.”
“I just wanted to say, if you brought a Caramel home it’s okay.”
“Yeah, yeah, okay,” Stiles said blushing again. “I’m pretty sure I’ll be bringing home a girl.”
John shrugged. “Well son, I brought home a girl, but there was a time in my life I didn’t think that would happen.”
Stiles frowned. “Are you… are you - ”
“No Stiles, I’m not gay.”
Stiles heaved out a sigh of relief. “God, dad, don’t scare me like that.”
“You know there’s more than just gay and not gay, right?”
“Sure, yeah, I mean… There’s Caramel.”
“I think maybe you should google some of this stuff.”
“Dad, there’s Caramel,” Stiles said pointing at Caramel making their way over.
“Gentlemen, I brought ties, and also hear me out, a cravat.”
“Oh, Stiles, thank you so much for coming, you too John,” said Heather’s mother.
“It’s nice to see you, Evelyn, Michael,” John said nodding to the Grahams. “Our heartfelt condolences.”
“Thank you. It’s…” she breathed. “Well, you know, waiting for the release, for the investigation - ”
“I’m working to find justice for Heather.”
“I know. My brother was always proud of you getting to be Sheriff. Said you were one of the smartest men he knew.”
“We miss Barry very dearly,” John replied. “It’s just not the same without him.”
“It’s such a tragedy, and now…” Evelyn grasped John’s arm. “I’m praying every day for you boys and girls protecting us.”
“I appreciate it Evey. If there’s anything we can do for you both, you let us know.”
John put a hand on Stiles’ shoulder and led him away. “Are you wanting to stay or - ”
“Can we go?” Stiles asked quietly. “It’s just… it’s weird. The basement is right there and -”
Stiles cut off, gritting his teeth.
“Yeah, we can go. You’ve been very brave today.”
“Yeah, fancy burgers.”
“Let’s see what we can do.”
“Hey,” Lydia said quietly. “Are you asleep?”
Stiles blinked slowly at the ceiling of the bus, his heart still pounding a mile a minute, images of Scott bursting into flames running through his mind.
“No. What’s up?”
Lydia shifted sitting up and leaning over the top of her seat to look down at Stiles lying on his.
“Do you think Peter Hale could be behind this?” Lydia asked.
Stiles frowned. “He is on the list,” Stiles said quietly. Then he thought about it seriously. “No. He’s power hungry, and he must know about magic considering… what he did to you and the whole undead thing, but…” Stiles sighed. “It doesn’t seem like it’s his style.”
Lydia looked at him shrewdly. “I don’t think that made me feel better,” Lydia whispered.
“Sorry,” Stiles said shrugging. “Is this because of what I said earlier? You know none of us even remotely blame you for your birthday.”
Lydia nodded. “I know. It just feels like it’s happening again. I’m going places, losing time, hearing voices.”
Stiles reached up for her. “We’re here for you. We’ll help you. Last year it was like… you were a zombie. Lost. This time it’s more of a…”
Stiles snorted. “Yeah.”
“I hate this. I just want to be prom queen, valedictorian, and go to Oxford.”
Lydia shrugged. “Jackson’s there.”
Stiles felt his heart pang violently. “Ah.”
“He’s… he’s like my best friend,” Lydia said quietly.
Stiles let the silence settle for a moment before bringing his hand back down.
“Go to sleep Lydia, we can figure it all out tomorrow.”
“Such high hopes,” Lydia muttered, but she lay down all the same. Eventually Stiles heard her breath even out, falling into the same pattern as Scott, his brother, and Allison… his niece.
Eventually, Stiles fell asleep too.
Stiles grabbed Allison’s backpack from the back of the jeep as Chris checked her over.
“I should have came and got you all,” Chris said knuckles tightening. “Is Lydia alright?”
“You couldn’t have known,” Allison replied calmly, arm on her dad’s shoulder. “Lydia drove herself home when we got to the school parking lot. She was too tired to bring me home.”
Chris caught Stiles’ eye and gave him a nod, Stiles waved it off, understanding the thanks. Chris looked back at Allison.
“My uncle died in that hotel.”
Allison blinked. “What?”
“I went to speak with Gerard. I knew I recognised the hotel name. Deucalion bit him. So he shot himself at that hotel.”
Allison was pale. “Like mom.”
Chris pulled Allison into a hug. “I should have came for you,” he said quietly.
“Why? And how?” Stiles asked suddenly. The two separated, turning toward him.
“What?” Chris asked.
“Why did Deucalion bite him? And how does Gerard know it was Deucalion?” Stiles asked, frowning.
“I don’t know,” Chris said slowly. “I could look into it?”
“Nah,” Stiles said fiddling with his car keys, handing Allison’s stuff over. “Just… they’ve got to have history, right? An alpha pack? A hunter as old as him? Surely…” Stiles shrugged and jumped back into the jeep. “Just a feeling, sorry. I’d better get home. Later Allison,” Stiles said with a wave through the open window.
“Bye, and thanks.”
Stiles smiled. “No problem.”
Allison turned to go inside.
“Chris,” Stiles called gently. Chris stepped up to the jeep window, eyebrow raised. “It was supposed to be three werewolves, there have been three virgin, three warriors… What’s the criteria for the categories? Is the Darach just making it up? Will they try werewolves again? How many groups of three are there? Will they just keep going or is there a limit? I mean, what’s next, three chefs?”
Chris looked at him.
“What?” Stiles asked, paranoid. “Something on my face?”
“No, just…” Chris looked away. “You’re a lot like your mother sometimes.” Stiles’ heart pounded. “I’ll look into it. There are some old journals I could locate,” Chris’ eyes flickered. “Should probably pass on to you.”
Stiles looked down. “I… I think right now you’ll understand them best. We need to figure this out now, alright? Scott was…” Stiles sucked in a breath. “Covered in gasoline. He was -”
Chris reached through the window and put a hand on Stiles’ shoulder.
“Scott is fine.”
Stiles nodded his head. “Yeah, Scott’s fine. For now.”
Chris stepped away. “I’ll get on it.”
“Bye bro,” Stiles said quietly before pulling away. Everyone was fine. Scott was fine. Derek was fine. Even Ethan was fine.
He was six. He was seven. He was eight.
He understands what Deaton means about getting used to keeping secrets. Secrets like siblings.
Stiles' shoes are still wet from Derek’s loft, getting frozen in the night air. He has no clue how they’re going to drain that place, get the water out of the floor and the walls, it could even have caused structural damage, what’s the landlord going to think about that?
“You should have told us about the map,” Stiles croaked, voice dry. He coughed. “You should have said you were investigating.”
Eventually Derek had moved, pulling Miss Blake from the ground and saying he’d drive her home. Stiles waited two hours before he decided Derek probably wasn’t coming back, happy to leave Cora and, and the body, with Peter.
“I’m retired,” Chris said shrewdly, sitting down on the hood of the car next to Stiles.
Stiles snorted. “Sure thing, bro, I don’t get paid for this shit either.”
Chris glanced over Stiles, curling an arm around Stiles’ shoulders. “You’re okay.”
Stiles let out a shuddering breath. “Yeah, for now. But…” Stiles liked his lips. “Erica. Heather. Now Boyd, plus the other sacrifices?” Stiles counted. “And Danny’s in hospital too.”
Chris squeezed his shoulder. “It’s a lot. The best thing we can do is eliminate the threat.”
“We hunt those who hunt us,” Stiles whispered. “I…” Stiles sighed, scuffing his foot along the tarmac.
“What?” Chris prompted when Stiles stalled.
“I think I’m gonna tell my dad. He’s ended up close to this and, he’d be able to protect himself better if he knew what he was shooting. When it was just us, running around the woods… trying to make first line…” Stiles pushed an escaped tear off his face. “Shit, I just want him safe.”
Chris nodded. “Well if you’re going to tell him, I’ll have to tell Allison.”
“Everything?” Stiles asked, licking his lips, worried.
“I think we’ve gotten to grips with it. Now our family deserves to know they’re family too.”
Stiles started laughing a little hysterically. “My dad is both Allison’s step dad and adoptive grandfather.”
Chris gave him a side eye. “I won’t say anything until you’re ready.”
“Nah, I’m ready. It’s just…” Stiles breathed. “It’s going to be a lot for my dad to take in. And I can’t half assed this truth. He needs to know about the supernatural. He needs to know about Mom.”
“Alright. I’ll tell Allison soon then.”
“Alright,” Stiles sighed, shivering slightly. “McDonalds?”
“Sure, jump in,” Chris said dropping his arm. “I’m getting a McFlurry.”
Stiles rubbed his eyes and blearily scrambled in the dark, jarred from sleep and not sure what was happening.
“Yeah? What, hello?” he croaked into his phone.
Allison. Stiles was awake.
“Allison, what’s wrong? Where are you?” he said standing up and flipping on his light, already grabbing the jeans off his floor.
“I’m fine, at home, it’s just…”
Stiles paused, sitting down and taking a breath.
“My dad is… really drunk, and well, he’s the one that phoned you? He said he needed you here. He didn’t say why. He just keeps… I don’t want to say crying but -”
“That blubber thing he does with his lip before he clenches his jaw?” Stiles sighed, Allison snorted. “I’ll be right over okay.”
Stiles easily sneaked out past his dad, letting his jeep roll out the driveway before starting the engine. He arrived at the apartment building in record time, Allison buzzed him up. He rubbed his eyes and stepped out of the elevator, Allison opened the door before he has time to knock.
“Hey,” she greeted in an oversized sweater and flannel trousers. She looked different without her makeup. More… spotty, and her eyes were tiny…
“Hey,” he said back. “You alright?” he asked stepping into the hall, toeing off his shoes as Allison shut and locked the door.
“Yeah, it’s just…” Allison crossed her arms and shrugged. “I’ve not seen him like this before. Usually he’s a quiet drunk. Tends to go to a buddy’s house, a bar maybe, or makes sure I’m at Lydia’s.”
Stiles ruffled his hair. “I think he wanted to talk to you, just didn’t know where to start.”
Allison frowned. “What do you mean talk?”
“Stiles?” yelled Chris’ voice from the other room. Stiles raised an eyebrow and Allison gestured toward the living room. Stiles headed through. “Stiles,” he repeated nodding as he came into view. “Drink? I’m hm, vodka, but theresh some whiskey in the, the,” Chris pointed behind him at the drinks cabinet. “There.”
“Maybe later, bro,” he said gently, sitting on the coffee table in front of Chris. “You’re in fine form.”
“Sorry,” Chris said lurching forward, grabbing onto Stiles’ arm tight. “I’m sorry.”
“You don’t have to be sorry,” Stiles said frowning, putting his hand over Chris’.
“Ally, where - ” Chris stood suddenly, Stiles stood with him, hand going out. “Ally?”
“I’m here,” Allison said gently appearing in the doorway. “Just putting the coffee on.”
“No, Ally,” Chris reached out a hand for her. Allison came over. “I have to, have to tell. Both. Both of you,” he said putting a hand of each of their shoulders. He swayed and sat down, pulling them both too. Allison landed gracefully beside her dad on the sofa, Stiles landed back on the table. “I’ve been lying.”
“Chris it - ”
“To both of you,” Chris said sternly. “For so long. I almost forgot.”
Stiles licked his lips. “Alright then, tell us now.”
“Ally, can you get the, the, the, photo album? Stiles, y’know, picture,” Chris said rubbing at his eyes.
Allison and Stiles shared a look. Stiles shrugged. Allison fetched the book and dumped it down on the table. Stiles slipped onto the floor, Allison joined him. Stiles flipped the book open to the wedding photos.
“Here we are,” Chris slurred, stabbing his finger to the wedding party through the pair of them. “Right in plain view, sweetie.”
Allison frowned and glanced down. “What is?”
“Do you see, Stiles?”
Stiles glanced down. Chris' finger tapping.
“See - oh,” Stiles felt his stomach lurch.
“See what?” Allison hissed. Stiles paused as he thought it through.
“You're a year older than all of us Allison,” Stiles said quietly.
“I know, I – ” Allison frowned. “Mom... Mom’s not pregnant,” she said hollowly. “How can she... why isn't...” Allison's voice trailed off as a look of horror overcame her. “She. Mom. Mom wasn't – ”
“There's one person who was at the wedding, but not in the photo,” Chris said quietly looking at Stiles.
“Who?” Allison demanded. “Who! Where do I come from? Who... Are you – ”
“I'm your dad,” Chris said, kissing her head from his vantage point on the couch. Allison blinked, stilled for a moment.
“And I'm your brother,” Stiles found himself saying. Allison reared back.
Stiles rubbed his hand over the back of his head.
“I’m going to get myself that whiskey now.” Stiles said standing up.
“Glasses there too,” Chris mumbled.
“Great. There's no way we're doing this sober,” he muttered as he raided the cabinet. He found the whiskey and brought it and two glasses back to the table. He poured one for Allison.
“Well, Chris, sounds like story time.”
Allison downed her drink. “I don’t understand what’s going on.”
“Ally, before, your mom and I, I had a… a girlfriend,” Chris said. “I got her pregnant, I didn’t know. Then uh, later, your mom and I were arranged.”
“Arranged,” Allison repeated.
“Like an arranged marriage, Chris’ mom – your gran – set it up,” Stiles said quickly. Allison’s eyebrows furrowed, staring at Stiles’ contribution.
“When I came back to the homestead and saw…” Chris swallowed. “We said we’d take you. Vicky was happy to be your mom. Rhona gave birth to you soon after our wedding.”
Stiles inhaled sharply.
“Rhona?” he repeated shakily. Chris blinked.
“Shit, yeah, Rhona,” he said. “Braw called her something different though.”
Allison shook her head. “So my mom is this, this Rhona woman? And not - ”
Stiles reached over and grabbed Allison’s hand. “You have two moms. Not one. One who gave birth to you, and another who raised you. Two.”
Allison looked at him and swallowed. “Who… who’s Rhona? Is she…”
Stiles nodded. “My mom went by the name Claudia. But yeah. Same person.”
Allison put her hand over her mouth. Processing. Shocked.
“We’re…” Allison started. “You’re my - ”
“Mm sorry,” Chris wheezed head tipping back and eyes closing. Stiles and Allison watched him fall asleep. Stiles sighed.
“Another shot?” he asked. Allison nodded.
Eventually they pulled Chris horizontal onto the sofa, taking the booze to Allison’s double bed and spreading out on that. Stiles star-fished, staring at the ceiling as Allison switched off the lights and got her little side lamp on.
“I can’t get my head round it.”
“Neither can I.”
“But I,” said Allison lunging forward on the bed. “Am dealing with double to get round. You - ” she said poking at his chest. “Cheater, got a head start.”
Stiles hummed and stared up at Allison now. He lifted a hand up and grazed a hand along her cheek.
“What?” Allison asked, reaching over and stealing the booze from his other hand.
“I suppose… I’m looking for her,” Stiles said softly. Allison swallowed.
Stiles let his arm flump before pulling himself up and sitting against the headrest.
“I uh,” Stiles stoles the booze back and took a swig, wincing. “When I was little, I remember she used to go to the hairdressers,” he said. “But when she got sick, she uh, couldn’t, or didn’t remember, or - ” Stiles waved his hand, Allison ‘rescued’ the bottle. “Whatever. It grew back dark. Like ours. And like,” Stiles sighed, Allison crawled closer, landing and smooshing her face onto Stiles’ shoulder. “Our eyes, I suppose. Yours are closer though I think. Oh, and like, that thing you do with uh, one eyebrow smile thing,” Stiles said. “That reminds me of her.”
Allison breathed, Stiles had somehow got an arm around her shoulders.
“Tell me about her,” she demanded.
“I…” Stiles felt tears prick at the corners of his eyes. “Ally, what I remember is… wrong. Distorted. She started to get sick when I was… still a baby really. A little kid.”
“Okay,” Allison said quietly. “Tell me… what you like to remember.”
Stiles snorted. “I like… we used to play. We played all the time. It was like… like I was her favourite toy. She was always talking to me, we were always chatting…” Stiles licked his lips. “She used to scream near the end. Scream they had taken her baby, and I used to cry, cry back that I was right here.”
Allison’s squeezed round his waist.
“She missed you,” Stiles said eventually. “She didn’t forget you, us. She held onto us as long as she could.”
Allison sipped her whiskey, screwing the cap back on before shuffling down the bed and tugging up one of her blankets.
“You're a sad drunk, uncle Stiles. Now, switch off the light,” Allison said. “It’s time for sleeping." Allison frowned. "Can you sleep in jeans?”
“Go steal something from dad,” she mumbled. “He won’t mind.”
Stiles edged out of the bed.
Stiles turned so sharply he lost his balance a little bit and ended up kneeling next to the bed.
“Come back quick,” she said, cradling the bottle. Stiles grinned.
“Yup,” he said trotting off, finding Chris’ bedroom and raiding the drawers where there were more guns than strictly necessary. He changed into something soft that fitted and let his clothes lying on the ground for later. He grabbed a spare blanket as well, dragging it through into the living room and draping it over his brother.
“You made a right mess of this one,” Stiles told his. Chris remained unmoved and drooling. “Gross.”
Stiles stumbled back to Allison and wiggled in next to her. She hummed but didn’t open her eyes.
“Always… hm, always wanted a brother,” she breathed out nestling closer.
“I always wanted a brother too,” Stiles whispered back. Allison smiled and elbowed him in the ribs. “Ow, fine, a sister, I want a sister.”
“You better,” she murmured. “You’ve got both now.”
The door opened slowly and morning light from the hallway flooded in. Stiles squinted into it. He hadn't realised how dark it had been with Allison's black out blinds. When his eyes adjusted he could see Chris leaning in the doorway staring at them. His eyes flickered to Stiles darkly, a little sluggish. Still a little tipsy then.
Stiles took one long last look at Allison before untangling himself and getting out the bed. Allison rolled into the empty warm space and snuggled down. Stiles sighed and made his way past Chris into the hallway, Chris followed gently closing the bedroom door behind him. He turned to Stiles.
“Hey,” he murmured.
“Hey,” Stiles croaked back. Chris wavered.
“Sure,” Stiles sighed.
Stiles meandered into the kitchen and sat heavily on the breakfast bar. Chris switched on his fancy cappuccino maker, making two.
“Why didn't you say?”
Chris sighed and leaned back.
“Same reason as always. To protect her,” he sighed. “How many times is her world going to be ripped apart? Werewolves? Kate? Vicky? And now...”
Stiles watched Chris grit his teeth and shake his head.
“I may never have... If you...” Chris swallowed. “You deserve to have more of her. As much of her as you can get. You’re my brother. You’re… her brother.”
“Thanks,” he rasped, then cleared his throat. “What about you? Do I get more of the Argents too?”
Chris chuckled. “Which bit? My father was a maniac and - “ Chris cut himself off, looking away, passing over Stiles’ coffee. “How about our Grandma?”
Stiles grabbed at the coffee and wrapped his fingers around it. “Story time, bro,” he replied. "Tell me how badass Grandma was."
Stiles picked Scott up from his house and drove him to McDonalds. They sat eating greasy food in the lamplight.
“So what we’ve learned is that most people are unreliable narrators,” Stiles humphed as he chowed down on fries.
“You don’t believe Peter?” Scott asked around his burger.
Stiles rolled his eyes. “Massive gaps dude. Like, why did Ennis even agree to it all without running it by Talia? Why did Peter even want Paige to be a werewolf? How old is Derek?”
Scott raised an eyebrow. “How old is Derek?”
Stiles flailed. “Not the point – but also, I would like to know if you’re going to start aging weirdly,” Stiles said. “The point is, massive holes. I assume the same of…” Stiles shoved some fries in his mouth, avoiding saying his name.
“Yeah, his heartbeat was steady the whole time though. I mean, I’m not sure I believe him but I don’t know if there’s a reason for him to lie.”
“Especially if it ends with us killing Deucalion,” Stiles muttered.
“What do you mean?” Scott asked.
“Well, uh, Deucalion bit his brother, and he shot his brains out,” Stiles shrugged, remembering how Chris talked about his uncle.
“So this is like a revenge thing?”
“No Scott,” Stiles sighed. “This is exactly like a revenge thing. A revenge spiral to be more precise.”
“Mom, there’s a warlock, and he’s riding a cement truck, and the bank is getting robbed!”
His mom crouched down with a serious look on her face. “What do we do?”
It was unreasonably sunny.
Stiles squinted up at the sun, pulling at the sleeves of his suit. It still felt new. People were filing away, following Boyd’s mother down the small hill. Stiles stayed put, not wanting to go to a wake of a guy he barely knew – not when people were truly grieving. Not that he wasn’t, just… not like them.
Stiles jerked slightly. Everyone had left now bar him, he turned to voice beside him.
Derek was in jeans and a black leather jacket. Did Derek own a suit? Did Derek’s dad ever take him to a store and buy him a suit – did Derek go to prom?
They stood in silence for a few moments before Stiles reached out to squeeze Derek’s shoulder again. Derek took a deep breath in.
“You been back yet?” Stiles asked. Derek nodded.
“This morning. I wanted to ask Cora or Isaac if they…” Derek shook his head. “Couldn’t find them.”
“I texted Cora yesterday. She didn’t want to come. Isaac was here. I think he went to the wake….” Stiles shrugged shoving his hands into his pockets. “Not sure why I came.”
“You were friends.”
Stiles scoffed. “I was reliable informed by Boyd himself that we were not.”
“Alright then,” Derek said squaring his shoulders. “You were more important than a friend,” he turned to Stiles. “You were allies.”
Stiles blinked, thinking it over. Then nodded. “Yeah,” he rasped out. “Yeah. Allies.”
Stiles turned to leave before stopping.
“You do realise, that none of this is your fault – right?” Stiles asked bizarrely, whirring around.
“I knew what I was doing,” Derek said quietly.
“The twins killed Boyd,” Stiles stated.
“For being a werewolf,” Derek replied evenly. “For being my pack. I pushed Isaac away,” Derek clenched his jaw. “I just couldn’t do it to Boyd after…” Derek breathed. “Erica.”
Stiles stepped up to Derek. “It’s not your fault,” Stiles repeated again. “It’s never been your fault. You might… you might take some responsibility but,” Stiles licked his lips. “But try not to weigh yourself down in blame, alright? You’re not at fault here. It’s fucking them, fucking things up, and killing kids.”
Stiles didn’t realise he was crying until Derek’s hand had clasped his neck.
“We’re gonna get through this,” Stiles whispered. “Say we’re gonna get through this.”
“We’re going to get through this, Stiles. We’ll get through it.”
It’s not Chris. But he can’t convince Allison of that with Cora riding alongside him in the jeep listening. Allison can take care of herself – especially if she’s got a werewolf at her back. It’s his dad he has to focus on now.
“Mom would have believed me.”
Mom would believe anything. It was no excuse. It was an illness.
It can’t be the last thing he said to his dad. It can’t.
They go to Derek.
Derek is a fucking idiot.
Scott is a fucking idiot.
Scott’s dad is a fucking idiot.
Why is he surrounded by idiots.
He’s sent to fetch Lydia and he gets it, alright. He doesn’t have the shiny gun training, or the werewolf claws, or the ability to hit a target at a gazillion paces but he’s clever. He’s determined. It’s his dad. Stiles will find him. He will stop the Darach.
It’s in his blood.
The Darach has Chris and suddenly his world narrows, blackens around the edges, he can’t breathe, he can’t breathe because that’s his whole family –
When Lydia kisses him it’s like he suddenly has a future again. A small swirl of childish adoration swells up and his old optimism rears his head. She was still smart; still pretty; still the girl who put super glue on the third grade teacher’s seat because she was mean; still the girl he told his mom he was going to marry.
His family is what he makes it, and Lydia - Lydia’s family.
He's going to fight for his fucking family.
Stepping into the icebath has been the easiest thing in the world, because John Stilinski is his family, his father, his guardian, his protector: more than he had ever known.
It’s embarrassing to be the only injured one with concussion, but having his dad back safe is worth all the embarrassment in the world.
It's a cold and dark thing that circles his heart. Deaton warned them of that.
He doesn't know his darkness is a little bit more alive than Scott's or Allison's.