Chapter 1: Wide Eyed Wonder
When Derek drives through town, it’s with extreme caution and a mild case of paranoia as he goes. He drives five miles an hour under the speed limit, constantly checking the roads for little vampires and sparkly pink fairies. Hot dogs on leashes and teens in clown masks. Tonight was Halloween and he was on high alert for kids who darted across the street out of nowhere and the high schoolers and their invincibility complex. It may be a bit early for most people, but you never knew.
It was Halloween and Derek was on his way home and he just didn’t want to hit anyone along the way, alright? He had a pretty close call with a German Shepherd in a banana costume being chased by a leash-toting gorilla seconds later. He had to pull over to bring his heart rate back to normal levels and to breathe past laughing so hard.
He parks about three houses away from Laura’s house because of the sheer number of cars required to get the entire Hale pack in one place. Tonight was as much a Halloween bash as it was a housewarming party for Laura and her new mate, Andrew. They dated their entire time at UC East Bay getting their master’s degrees and Andrew came from an allied pack up in Idaho. The wedding was just last month and now that they’ve had their time to settle in, the pack needed to celebrate the expansion to their family.
Derek ignored the pang in his chest as he turned his car off and unbuckled. He reminds himself that it isn’t a race to get married and settle down but that doesn’t stop his restless wolf from demanding they try. He is in his prime, with a degree and a stable job at the police station and a mother who just wants him to be happy. Shaking his head to clear it of the circling thoughts he climbs out of his car. He turns to lock the door when he hears the patter of small footsteps and then -
“Trick or treat!” He turns as finds three boys no older than ten. A pirate, a ninja and some strange mesh of a Jedi and a fireman like the child couldn’t decide.
He doesn’t say anything, just stares them down for a moment before slowly, without looking, grabbing for something in the car through the open window. He relishes the looks of excitement and trepidation on their faces before he finally brandishes the bag of candy. All three sets of little shoulders drop a bit as he puts a handful of sweets into each bag.
Halloween was always a favorite among wolves because it was the one night that no one would question a flash of eyes and fangs. They might wonder how you got the effect just right and the claws so sharp and real to appear out of thin air but never would they think you were a supernatural creature of the night. Derek resists smiling as he lets his eyes glow blue before he lets out a roar that echoes down the street.
He watches in satisfaction as two of them run off, shrieking as they go but is caught off guard by the one who stays behind. He’s the Jedi-Fireman and he’s still standing there in wide-eyed shock. Derek is about to kneel down and try to reassure him when the kid flashes beta-gold eyes at him. He lifts clawed fingers and growls at Derek through a fangy smile before darting off after his friends.
Derek is left there for a moment, now wide-eyed and stock still as he listens to the boy catch up with his friends and start discussing their bags of sugary bounty. That’s when he catches the sound of a deeper voice, definitely older than the others but Derek finds he can’t quite concentrate on the actual words he’s hearing
“Yeah Dad, we were good. I promise!” He listens as the young beta gets further away with who Derek assumes is his father. It prickles his wolf though, knowing there’s an unknown beta in their territory. He puts the candy back in his car before making his way down the street and to Laura’s house.
“Derek! I’m glad you made it, you anti-social nut.” Laura is grinning from her doorway, eyes bright with that weird mix of sisterly affection and mischief.
“Happy to come, bitch.”
“Jerk.” Her arm wraps around his shoulders as she leads him inside and to the living room where it is utter chaos.
The pups are a pile of squirming and growls while Aunt Sara tries to herd them outside. Uncle Peter, Aunt Diana and Mom are talking about the pod of mermaids asking to make a home in the rather large lake deep in the Preserve, the benefits and dangers of making such a treaty. His dad, Samuel, was humming along in the kitchen with Andrew teaching him a family recipe he wasn’t allowed to know until he was officially a Hale. Grandma Dotty is sitting in her wicker chair with Uncle Rob watching Aunt Sara and the pups in fond amusement. Jackson with his husband Danny and the newest adoption candidate, Jenny, is due to arrive soon enough and Cora is bringing her girlfriend later to meet the pack for the first time.
Derek takes a deep breath, ignoring the smells of new paint and freshly-bought furniture, to find the scent of Pack settling into the walls and floors. With time it will smell a lot like their parents’ house in the Preserve and Uncle Peter’s and Aunt Sara’s a few blocks away. It was something they all looked forward to.
“Derek, how are you, honey?” His mother comes to him and he meets her in a tight hug. He takes in the scent and feel of alpha and lets the tension fall from his shoulders.
“I’m doing good, Mom.” They pull back and Talia sets her hands over her only son’s cheeks.
“You aren’t eating enough,” She narrows her eyes, mushing his face a bit before he pulls away with a roll of his eyes.
“I’m eating plenty,” he tells her sternly, knowing it’s her instinct to provide but not willing to be babied to calm her worries.
“Yeah, just ‘cause he doesn’t have those fat baby cheeks anymore doesn’t mean he’s starving.” They turn their attention to where Cora has stepped inside with a redhead in tow. As much as he doesn’t appreciate the reminder of the days before the wonders of puberty, he’s more interested in the stranger amongst the Pack.
“And who is this, Cora?” Their mother steps forward, shoulders up and back, poised and as regal as any monarch. Everyone in the living room has gone quiet, even the pups have scented the newcomer.
“This is Lydia Martin, the one I told you about this summer.” Cora has pulled the girl, Lydia, in close to her side and has eyes only for her mother. Talia looks the two over in silence, eyes narrowed slightly in the way that felt like your soul was on display. It was an intense feeling to be the recipient of, but Derek watched as Lydia stood her ground without challenging the alpha.
“I’ll take it the reveal went well.” His mother smiles as the rest of the Pack seem to take a relieved breath all at once. Pack members’ relationships were their own business but you needed the approval of the alpha to reveal their secret. Derek had heard the mumblings of a girlfriend over the months but never pushed his little sister for information. She got enough of that from Laura.
“Better than expected, that’s for sure.” Cora eyes widen as if remembering something rather amazing.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Alpha Hale,” Lydia says as she bares her neck. Derek has to say he’s impressed, the girl obviously knows her stuff with werewolf formalities. His mother rumbles in approval and walks forward to bring both girls into a hug.
“I’m glad you are finally ready to meet us, dear.” Talia pulls away and strokes gentle knuckles over Lydia’s cheek, the formal approval of an alpha.
“I would like to tell you I am a Banshee, Alpha Hale. I hope that won’t be a problem.” Derek understands how that might have played a role in “revealing” the supernatural to her.
“Oh, not at all! We have a werecoyote in our family and are strong allies with a group of werefoxes and kitsune,” his mother waves at her as she leads them into the living room where everyone has politely waited despite hearing every word. “Everyone, I would like to introduce you to Lydia Martin, Cora’s girlfriend.”
“Well, why don’t you come sit by me,” Grandma Dotty pats the couch next to her chair decisively, “tell me about how the scream affects you. I knew a Banshee many years ago.” Lydia leads herself and Cora to the couch without hesitation and just like that the room settles back into its comfortable chaos.
Aunt Sara finally manages to convince her four children that playing outside would be a good idea and Derek watches as they tumble around outside. They would put on costumes after dinner and go trick-or-treating with Cora while the adults stayed home and talked about their lives as if they didn’t see each other at least once a week at Pack dinners at the Hale House. When the memory hits him he wants to smack himself for letting it slip from his mind.
“Hey, Mom, can I talk to you?” His alpha had started to make her way to the kitchen but stops when she hears him. She turns to look at him and notices the strain in his features; without a word she walks outside with Derek just a step behind. If they were home she would take him to her soundproofed office but without that option they walk into the Preserve that Laura’s house conveniently backs up to.
“Alright, what is it?” Her tone is neutral and steady, one of her alpha voices. This one is used when she wants to indicate that she’s ready for anything, however she can help, whatever she needs to do. Derek thinks it might also just be a mom voice.
“There’s a new omega in Beacon Hills. I was messing with some kids after giving them candy and this boy flashed eyes back at me, growled and shifted. He didn’t smell like he has a pack but he can control his shift almost perfectly.”
“Well, that’s certainly not what I was expecting.” Her voice is light with a laugh but before he can question her she’s continuing. “I haven’t sensed a new ‘wolf in the area since the Stanton pack came to visit.”
“I know what I saw, Mom.”
“I don’t doubt you, honey. It is possible that an omega could fly under the radar, you say he’s a child?”
“Not any older than Evan.” His mother hums. “But how can he just not be noticed? Unless he never left the house and even then shouldn’t Deaton’s wards warn us?”
“It’s possible but takes effort from whomever is taking care of him, someone who likely isn’t a ‘wolf.”
“So, what are we supposed to do?”
“For now, not a whole lot. Keep your eye out for the child but don’t approach, just observe. One werewolf child is not a danger to us, but if he has a pack looking for him? Now that would be an issue.” She takes a deep breath, taking his hand between both of hers. “We learn what we can and move from there.”
Derek can’t quite just continue on with life as normal, though, even as days and weeks pass by without another spotting. He finds that every patrol he takes he’s being extra diligent in scenting the air, eyes scanning for the little omega boy. But, he can’t remember what the boy smelt like, for the life of him. It’s like a grey area in his mind, like the scent was muddled and messed with and he can’t quite catch what it is.
A car speeding past him on the highway pulls him from his thoughts as he flips on his lights and follows. It’s a little red Honda with a spoiler, the owner must think it’s some kind of badass sports car. Thankfully the driver doesn’t put up much of a fight and pulls to the side of the road soon enough. Derek comes in close behind and sets his onboard computer to a routine traffic stop before getting out and going to the driver’s window.
“Good morning, Officer.” The man has bright eyes and wild hair and for a moment Derek just looks at him. He’s attractive and that’s not supposed to be something he thinks about while on the job but his brain is momentarily stuck on that one fact.
“Yes, good morning, sir. Do you know why I pulled you over?”
“Uh, probably because I’ve been a speed demon since I got my license? We all have our crosses to bear.” The man smiles up at Derek but his fingers are bouncing restlessly on the steering wheel and that’s when he hears a quiet sound from the backseat. The man mutters a curse as Derek’s gaze slides to the back where a familiar face can be found. Derek tries to get a subtle sniff, finding a mix of lemon and toffee.
“Hey, kiddo. You having a good day?”
“Yup, we’re going to get ice cream.” The boy smiles. There’s recognition there but even as the silence draws on for a few seconds longer than necessary nothing more is said.
“Is there anything you need to tell me, sir?”
“Nope, got nothin’ to hide.” He tries another smile but it’s strained around the edges. There’s nothing Derek can legally do without just cause so he nods and continues with the traffic stop.
“Alright, I’ll need your license and registration.” The man hands them over easily enough, having already had them in his lap. Derek walks away and as soon as he’s in his car he’s calling his mother, putting her on speaker phone on the dash.
“Why hello, Derek. I don’t often get calls this early from you, aren’t you on patrol?”
“Yeah, that’s why I’m calling. I found the omega.” Derek scans the paperwork in front of him while doing his regular filing and search on the police database. “I’m doing a traffic stop right now and he’s in the backseat. The man he’s with is Frank Martin.”
“Well, this is certainly exciting. You go ahead and finish the stop and we’ll talk to your Uncle Peter and your father about it tonight after the pack meeting.”
“You don’t want me to confront him?”
“No, honey, we don’t know why they’re hiding or how they’ll react to another pack looking into them. We’ll discuss all of this later.”
“Alright, Mom. I trust you.” After that, they exchange goodbyes and “I love you”s before hanging up. The car nor the driver ping on any databases so Derek processes the speeding ticket and gets out of his car.
“What’s the damage, Officer-” The man squints at his badge, his eyes going wide for a moment before he smiles again, “Hale.” Derek thinks that should be a concern of some kind but he can’t think on it now.
“You were only going nine miles an hour over the speed limit but you’re getting close to a school zone. The base fine is $40, but with all the fines included in getting rid of the ticket you’re looking at about $136.”
“Oh wow, alright. Well, I’ll definitely be keeping a closer eye on the speedometer from now on because that is way more expensive than when I was a teenager.” The man, Frank, snaps his gaze up to Derek with wide eyes before rushing out, “Not like it’s okay to speed just because it doesn’t cost as much. You know, it’s about safety. Especially with kids nearby, save the children, amiright?” The man seems to cringe at that but presses his lips together in an effort to not speak again.
“Well, make sure to be safer in the future, Mr. Martin.” Derek hands the ticket to the man and walks back to his car. The little red Jeep drives away at a sedated pace and Derek just rolls his eyes.
It doesn’t occur to Derek until much later in the day that when he first pulled over the car with the omega it was a different vehicle.
“I think the treaty could be beneficial,” Aunt Sara says as she starts to pick up dishes from the table. “Mermaids could help combat that Bohzo infestation we had over summer.” Derek shivers to remember the serpents that would terrorize them as they went fishing and swam in the lake on hot days. Getting rid of them had been a challenge and disgustingly slimy.
“That’s true, but we also have the natural fish population of the lake. That could be detrimental to the ecosystem,” Peter points out.
“We’ve already discussed that and wrote it into the treaty. They can take what they need but not kill beyond that. The pod’s alpha has agreed to the terms.” Talia is sitting at the head of the table, tugging her husband in by the forearm for a quick kiss and scenting as he passes her to take away more dinner dishes.
“Well, I think the benefits outweigh the costs if it’s been agreed on.” Laura pipes up. She’s working on putting away the few leftovers that survived pack dinner. She’s the one who will take up the mantle of Hale Alpha when their mother decides she can no longer be what’s the best for the Pack. The transition of power would be a slow, small shift until then as Laura worked her way into the position, which meant in depth knowledge of Pack activities and participation in all Pack business.
“But what if they don’t follow through with those rules? Are we able to get rid of them without significant losses?” As Laura was being groomed to become alpha, Derek was being trained as her second just as Uncle Peter is for their mother. It meant seeing things from alternate angles and ensuring the alpha knew everything they needed to know.
“I think our pack is strong enough to handle what would be necessary to drive them away, yeah.”
“But is it really worth risking the need to do it?”
“Now you’re just being difficult,” Laura says with a huff but Derek sees Mom smiling from where she’s sitting.
“You might want to get used to that, honey. It is his job.” Laura just rolls her eyes as she walks to the kitchen and Derek shares a smile with his alpha. “The pack will be in good hands.”
“I hope so.” Derek looks down at his hands, unwilling to make eye contact and show his mother all of his doubts. She’s always been able to read him like a book, her sensitive child.
“I know you will, without a doubt in my mind. You and your sister are like push and pull, opposites but working together.” He looks up at her finally and finds her calm eyes, smiling with the sense of relief that wraps around him. “It tempts me to retire early.” She laughs at the look of shock and mild fear likely showing on Derek’s face.
“Laura, Peter, when you’re ready meet us in the office.” With that they stand from the table and walk to his mother’s office. It’s strange going from the low buzz of the family moving around the house to the silence of this room but Derek never minded much. He used to love coming in here to read any one of the hundreds of books lining the walls, curled up in one of the plush armchairs.
“So, what chaos is brewing in our territory this time?” Peter only speaks once the door fully shuts behind Laura as they settle in chairs around his mother’s desk.
“Derek seems to have found an unidentified omega on Halloween.”
“Why didn’t you tell me!” Laura smacks his shoulder and he growls in response.
“Because there was no need at the time,” rolling her eyes at her children’s antics, “we only knew that the child was here but little else. Now, we know more.”
“The omega is a child?” Peter asks, leaning in with elbows on his knees.
“Yeah. I scared a few trick-or-treaters by shifting and one of them didn’t run off, he shifted back and growled before following after them.”
“But how have you not sensed him when he crossed our border, Mom?” Laura looks especially confused as if she couldn’t fathom their mother missing something like this. It was a special kind of awe that every beta had for their alpha if they were worthy of that respect. It was also something they were trying to teach out of Laura and Derek in their trainings. It was best if the pack had that awe for their alpha, a respect and admiration that was earned through good leadership, but an alpha had to understand their own limitations.
“There are ways of going undetected in a territory, especially easy if you’re a child being helped by a more practiced magic-user which seems to be the case for this omega.”
“I couldn’t smell him when I met him and when I heard the boy talk to the guy he calls his Dad, I couldn’t make out a word the man said.” The information is mulled over by the group for a moment before Peter starts up again.
“So, what’s the new information? You said there wasn’t enough information before, so what have you found?”
“I pulled over a man this morning and the omega was sitting in the backseat.”
“What’s his name?” Laura jumps on the new clues like a starved man on meat.
“Frank Martin, but I’m not even sure if that’s real.” Derek’s eyebrows furrowed as he continued, “When I pulled him over he was in a trashy looking red Honda but when he left after I gave him the ticket he was in a red Jeep.”
“Sounds like we’ve found our magic-user.” Laura mutters, obviously just as disappointed by the crumbling state of their “evidence” as Derek was. “I guess there’s no point in asking what he looked like.”
“Not necessarily.” Their mother has her fingers laced together on the desk in front of her, eyes unfocused on a stack of books in concentration. “Magic takes a lot of effort, it can cause fatigue in the user. I would imagine masking their scent and making an illusion for their car takes a lot of effort. It could be possible he would be too tired or spread thin to mask how he looked.”
“Alright, then what did he look like, DerBear?” He doesn’t even bother responding to the insufferable nickname, just does his best to remember the details.
“He had kinda shaggy hair, it was dark blonde kinda like Aunt Sara but a bit lighter. And his eyes are bright blue, there’s a scar on his chin. It’s small but noticeable and he looked pretty muscular.”
“Wow, spare no detail, nephew.” Peter’s smirk and Laura’s obnoxious laugh make his cheeks flare red. He didn’t actually find the man all that attractive but he was never one who could take this kind of teasing graciously.
“Hush, you two. That’s good to know, Derek.”
“So, what are we going to do, oh powerful and wise niece o’ mine?” Laura studiously ignores her obnoxious uncle and thinks for a moment.
“I don’t believe we should announce this to the rest of the pack just yet. For now, we four will keep an eye and ear out for strange activity or behaviour. I’ll talk to Deaton to look into ways of allowing us to see through glamours and that kind of thing.”
“That’s a very good plan, honey. Now, off you go,” Talia waves her hands in a shooing motion as they all get up and start to leave. “Derek, one moment.”
“Yeah, sure.” Laura gives him a stink eye as she closes the door behind herself and their uncle. When they were little Laura used to always have to know about everything going on. It would make her a fantastic alpha but a complete terror as an older sister.
“When are you free next? I would like to take you to Deaton’s with me, I have a few theories of my own.”
“Hello, Talia, how will I be assisting today?” Deaton is a rather strange man, vague and mysterious at the best of times and downright annoying at the worst. But his mother seemed to navigate his cryptic speeches and riddles with ease so he never complained about the Hale pack emissary.
“I need you to track a magic-user, Alan.” Deaton raises his eyebrows but leads them to his office in the back of his clinic without another word.
“You have reason to believe one has wandered into your territory?”
“Yes, and I would like to know more about them before making a move.”
“Ah yes, always a thinker, Alpha Hale.” Talia shakes her head fondly. Derek was always fascinated when watching them work together, wondering if Laura’s emissary would be similar and hoping not. Even after all these years of working with Deaton, Derek could never understand him or have the patience to try.
“I was also curious to know if you had a way to help us see through glamours.” Derek follows his mother’s lead as she sits in one of the two chairs sitting in front of Deaton’s desk.
“There are some methods but not used in anything too complex. Are you hoping to reveal simple things like invisible objects or maybe scent?” Deaton is looking through the bookshelves behind his desk, pulling out two before sitting down. Derek had always wanted to read those books but was always denied access, Deaton always patiently telling him they were only of use to magic-users.
“Scent would be helpful, but is there any way to allow us to see someone or something’s true form?” Talia eyes the books Deaton is flipping through and Derek knows she’s just as curious about the volumes as he is. He got it from her of course.
“Mobile vision glamours?” Deaton’s eyes look up from his book, looking as surprised as Derek’s ever seen him.
“Is that special?” Derek asks.
“What were they concealing, do you think?” Deaton ignores the question, going so far as to lean in closer on his desk.
“Uh, a car. I thought I saw a red Honda but when I looked again it was a Jeep.”
“Remarkable.” Deaton sits back. “The kind of concentration and willpower to conceal something of that size and complexity is a feat. And you say the scent was masked as well?” Both he and his mother nod, apprehension growing with the rising levels of threat this magic-user seems to pose against them. “I have known very few people to achieve such things, all of them Sparks.”
“A type of magic-user. I’m a Druid, I’m connected to the earth and its resources. It’s that connection that makes us so valuable for werewolves. There’s also Sorcerers who use magical objects and potions to conduct their power. But then you have Sparks, they essentially do as they please if they have the will to sustain it. Their power relies solely on belief.”
“So, we’re looking for a stubborn asshole who thinks it’s okay to romp around our territory just because they’re good at hiding.” Derek huffs as he crosses his arms over his chest. He feels like a petulant child, even more so when his mother shoots him a look from the corner of her eye.
“As inefficient a description as that is, yes.” Deaton nods. “Now, what do you plan to do, Talia?”
“Magic-users have their own forms of communication, ways of working amongst yourselves. I would like you to reach out, however you can, so we can speak to this Spark and come to a formal agreement.”
“As much as I would love for that to be possible, I would have to know what they look like before attempting to connect with them.”
“Would a description work? I pulled him over this morning.”
“Unfortunately not. And if what you tell me is true, I highly doubt you saw the man’s real face. If he’s gone so far as to mask his entire vehicle and masking his and his son’s scent then there’s not a lot to sway me from the belief that every part of him is a glamour.”
“Then what are we supposed to do!” Derek’s voice has risen and he manages not to fly out of his chair and storm out of the room. The man was infinitely frustrating but Derek knew that wasn’t what was getting under skin.
“Go take a breath outside, Derek.” He turns to his mother with wide eyes. His wolf whined knowing he was being dismissed, essentially useless at best and a disgrace at worst. He nods his head, swallowing heavily before leaving the room.
The air outside is crisp and he focuses on the scents of the forest and small woodland creatures scampering through the underbrush. He tries willing himself into a state of calm by breathing and focusing on his anchor but can’t completely rid himself of the agitation. There was someone on his family’s land who didn’t belong. They were an intruder with an unknown wolf, hiding just under their noses like a sort of taunt and it made his blood boil.
On top of it all he felt utterly useless. Not even just that, he was a hindrance. His wolf was still pacing, whining at how he had disappointed his alpha, he couldn’t stand it. He knew it wasn’t his job to solve every problem in the pack but he was set to become second in command to Laura. He should be more pragmatic and beneficial than a pup trying to prove himself.
“Derek, come back inside. Deaton may have an idea.” He hears his mother’s voice from inside the clinic and takes a deep breath before heading back inside. He finds them outside the man’s office, now standing by the vet’s examination table.
“What’s the plan?” He asks, hands deep in his pockets.
“Well, I have a plausible method to reveal our magic-user,” Deaton gestures to a few items laid out on the table in front of him and Derek leans in to inspect them. A small antique mirror, some herbs, and a geode encased in string with two loose ends about six or so inches long.
“What are you going to do?”
“Well, Mr. Hale, that’s where I need you.” Derek looks to his mother, eyebrows drawn together in confusion and concern. She offers him a soft smile and nods back to Deaton and that’s all he needs to trust the man. At least for the time being. “I’ll going to put you in a trance-like state and use your subconscious to access your memories to project our magic-user onto this mirror.”
“But you’d only be seeing his glamour.” Deaton smiles and for once it doesn’t feel condescending but something along the lines of pride.
“Yes, that’s where I will use a bit of magic myself and strip the glamour from the image your mind supplies.”
“And what exactly is the danger involved in this, Alan?” His mother raises one elegant eyebrow at her emissary, likely very used to his penchant for not giving all the details.
“There is a chance you’ll end up in a coma that even werewolves can’t heal their way out of.” Derek blanches a bit at that, thrown by the casual way that statement is given. “It doesn’t have a large chance of happening, but the chance is there.”
“Is that all?” Derek asks sarcastically, rolling his eyes a bit. He looks down at his hands as he braces them against the exam table.
“You don’t have to do this, Derek,” his mother’s hand rest against his shoulder and he feels some of the tension there release. “We can find another way. I’m not exactly fond of this plan either.”
“No, it’s fine.” He nods a little before repeating, “It’s fine, I want to.”
The spell doesn’t take long to set up. While Derek is settling onto the exam table, Deaton ties one end of the string to the handle of the mirror and the other to Derek’s wrist. He’s handed a freshly brewed cup of tea with the strange smelling herbs from before. They may smell decent enough but the liquid is foul and he chokes on it a bit before he can get it all down.
His mother smiles sympathetically as he lowers himself back onto the exam table. He’s sending none too friendly looks Deaton’s way but he is studiously ignored as the vet finishes setting up things Derek doesn’t understand. He’s watching Deaton work when suddenly his mother is there, holding him up by the shoulders and looking over his face in concern.
“The tea is taking effect, go ahead and lay him down, Talia.” The vet’s voice sounds hollow and far away in his ears and it pokes at his wolf but even his wolf can’t be bothered in their drowsy state.
“How long will this take?”
“Not too long but I need to focus now. He will be fine.” Unless I’m not , Derek’s mind snipes, but even his inner voice sounds sluggish and slow. The next few moments are filled with some kind of Celtic mutterings and Derek trying and failing to keep his eyes open. He lets himself drift like that, in the dark, for a while before he feels it. It’s a strange sort of tugging sensation, like someone is pulling at a string in his mind. He has half a mind to resist it but eventually gives in, too pliant to really care.
“Go to sleep, Derek. We’ll be here when you wake up.” He lets himself slip away to the soft sound of his mother’s voice.
When he comes to he is still on the examination table, his mother’s cardigan rolled up beneath his head.
“Mom?” He’s groggy and his head aches mildly in a way he knows superhealing wouldn’t fix.
“Welcome back to the land of the conscious,” Deaton’s voice drifts to him first, making his wolf tense before he looks around and finds his mother walking towards him.
“Hey, honey. How are you feeling?”
He bites back the like shit he wants to say because he may be an adult but this is his mother. “My head hurts,” he rubs at his temple and tries not to sound like a petulant child.
“To be expected,” Deaton says from where he’s working on something at the counter. “I did essentially rip an image from your mind.”
“So you saw the magic user?” Derek asks momentarily forgetting the sharp pain in his skull.
“Yes, would you like to see him? I still have his image on the mirror.” Derek jumps down from the table and comes up behind the vet and peers over his shoulder.
The man is attractive, that’s the first thing that registers. The glamour hid almost beta bright eyes and hair that looked like he had been properly debauched. His cheekbones were sharp and his jaw was speckled with moles that only accentuated how pale he was. Derek’s wolf had perked up at the sight of a bow-lipped mouth but Derek squashed that thought with a vengeance because he refused to smell anything like a hormonal teenager in front of his mother.
“You can contact him now?” Derek turns away from the image with some reluctance but manages to step away.
“Yes. It doesn’t guarantee a response but he will receive a formal warning of being on Hale territory and that if he doesn’t comply we will be forced to use harsher and more invasive ways of finding him.”
“We hope it won’t go that way but if we have to, it will be done,” his mother adds, putting a hand on his shoulder. He hadn’t realized he had gone tense with Deaton’s words until that moment, making a conscious effort to relax.
“I will keep you both in the loop for if he responds, but that is all that can be done tonight.” His mother nods and Derek follows her quietly out of the clinic. It isn’t until they’re in the car, driving back to the Hale house that his mother speaks again.
“You know we won’t escalate unless we have to, Derek. We aren’t going to hurt them.” Derek startles a bit at that, not entirely sure where his mother is coming from.
“I know, Mom. We aren’t one of those kinds of packs.” The moon knows how many of those packs still operated, ruling their territories with iron fists and old traditions. Packs like that were the reason they had the treaty with the mermaids and the dwarf refugees, all looking for somewhere to live and coexist in peace.
“You just seemed worried, I wanted to make sure.”
“I just don’t like not knowing.” His heartbeat doesn’t deny him but the tugging in his gut and the look from the corner of his mother’s eye tell him he may not be telling the whole truth, not even to himself.
“Come on, kiddo. We need this to be a good day.” Stiles tried yet again to hand Connor his shoes, the light up Buzz Lightyear ones that he had gotten him for his sixth birthday last year.
“No! I don’t want to leave.” Stiles sighs, he had to hand it to the kid though, he certainly knows how to make this hard. He has shoved his barely sock-clad feet under the couch and clung to the piece of furniture to prevent any of Stiles’ attempts at dislodging him. He’s just grateful the claws haven’t sunken into the upholstery as well.
“We have to. I know you don’t like moving but we can’t be here anymore.” Stiles drops from his crouch to land on his ass, still holding the Buzz Lightyear sneakers in one hand. He rubs at his eye, feeling the migraine coming on, and just looks at Connor’s back.
This would be the fifth town they would be leaving behind them in only twice as many months and it had taken their toll on both of them. Stiles had hoped coming to his hometown would be a stopping point if not The Stopping Point. He had wondered if the Nemeton would make the hiding easier, maybe the Hales would have other things to work on and the power boost wouldn’t go to waste.
But he was wrong.
The message had come during movie night with his dad, Connor having chosen Big Hero 6 because he loved Baymax to no end. Stiles felt the ping in his wards that was neither friend nor foe and got up to go investigate from the front window. He had felt the drop of his stomach and the way his heart jumped to his throat like his was being torn apart from the inside. He accepted the message and felt that hope of settling down and being with his dad and letting Connor have at least a semi-normal life shrivel up and die while he listened to the Hale pack Emissary.
“But I want to stay with Grandpa,” Connor whines, the more puppy version of the sound bleeding through.
“I know, I’m sorry.” Stiles leans forward and rubs his baby’s back gently. He remembers the day he first held him, so small and fragile in his arms. He was a were but Stiles clung to him as he ran that night and it doesn’t seem like he’ll ever stop.
Connor lets go of the couch and in one quick move Stiles suddenly has a lapful of trembling pup to wrap his arms around. He holds tightly and lets the boy press his nose and cheek all over Stiles’ chest and all of the neck he could reach while he spreads his scent with his hands over Connor’s back. “I’m sorry, baby. I’m so sorry.”
“Hey, Hale!” Derek turns at the sound of his name to find Parrish jogging over to him.
“Yeah?” The deputy stops in front of him and smiles. It has a special sort of charm that Derek has only seen accomplished by this particular man, a bright thing that has never made him uncomfortable like too many others. At one point Derek had contemplated asking him out to coffee, maybe even dinner but brushed the thought aside. They worked together too closely and as nice as Jordan Parrish was, Derek couldn’t see himself with him.
“No ‘hello’? Just a ‘yeah’?” Derek lifts a brow, lips setting into his “signature scowl”. “Alright, I guess I should just be happy we’ve moved past ‘what’.”
“What’s wrong, Parrish?” The man chuckles with a fond roll of his eyes.
“There he is. I needed to let you know the Sheriff wants you on a different route today. Said you should keep your eyes out for a vehicle in particular as well.” That captures Derek’s interest, his focus becoming sharper with the new information.
“Do you know why?”
“Said we got a tip on a blue Corolla and he wanted you on the case.”
“That’s all?” The deputy shrugs, offering a small smile.
“I guess so. You’re on route 24 through Fulton St.” Derek nods and leaves out the front doors. When he gets to his cruiser he takes a moment to just sit inside it. He rubs hands over his face. He reaches down and pats his right hand front pocket, feeling the lump that is the hex bag Deaton had given him. Derek isn’t too sure if he likes the idea of carrying around a burlap bag of bird bones, dirt, and who knew what else, but he was told it would help reveal glamours. Not quite strip them away, but tell him when they were being used in his presence.
After logging in to the on board computer Derek pulls out of the Sheriff’s station parking lot and gets to work.
He is having a mildly productive morning for the most part. Two speeding tickets and helping a man change a tire on the side of the road. All pretty general work but he can feel the itch in the back of his mind as the minutes tick away. He keeps a keen eye out for that blue Corolla, scanning his eyes over every parking lot and car that he passes.
It is at the edge of town, just yards from the “Welcome to Beacon Hills” sign that he finds it. The car isn’t necessarily doing anything wrong, driving rather normally, but with the Sheriff’s tip he has a decent enough reason to pull the car over. He ignores the computer prompt to start a routine traffic stop and gets out of his car. The bag in his pocket pulses.
He freezes momentarily, unsure of how to proceed for a moment longer before he moves again. He approaches at a sedated pace but can’t help the uptick in his heart rate.
“Hello, Of-” The man behind the wheel freezes when his eyes meet Derek’s, the recognition flashing there. The hex bag is practically rattling and Derek sees the man’s eyes flicker to his thigh like he knows it is there, can see it tattling on him. When he meets his eyes again Derek knows that the bright blue is hiding whiskey brown. With a deep breath Derek glances to the back seat where he knows he will find the little omega boy in his Cookie Monster car seat.
“I’m going to need you to get out of the car, sir.” He is proud of how level his voice is, authoritative and strong but that doesn’t seem to phase the Spark before him.
“On what grounds?” The question is sharp, eyes narrowed but the glamour held. They both know it was a sham, Derek can almost guarantee the man knows he is caught but he can also respect his dedication.
“Hale Pack governing,” Derek tells him, flashing blue eyes. The man turns back to his steering wheel, closing his eyes for a moment and taking a deep breath. Derek tenses, still not sure if this man is a threat but practically deflates when all that happens is the car door opening and the man stepping out.
It’s like he has walked through a curtain, the glamour shedding from him like thin fabric. When he is finally standing tall in front of him, Derek sees the man from the mirror, all Bambi eyes and impish cheekbones. He lifts his hands slowly, eyes averted and to the side.
“We didn’t come for a fight.”
“Then why are you here?” This isn’t exactly a conversation Derek should be leading, this is technically Laura’s job, but he can’t contain the curiosity. With another long, silent moment the man’s eyes reach his and Derek doesn’t even know where to begin to unravel the emotion there.
“We’re running from one.”
The plot thickens! Hope you're all enjoying it and thank you for all the lovely and supportive comments, it brightens my day to read and respond to every one of them :)
“And why should we help you?” Deucalion smiled slowly, leaning forward on his cane. He could scent three wolves in the room with himself and the Hughes pack alpha, not including Kali to his right and Ennis to his left. The tension in the room was a palpable thing, thick in the air and satisfying in his lungs. Within just two decades of being alpha of the alpha pack he had managed to bring them to a level of infamy no other before him had managed.
“That’s a fantastic question, Alpha Hughes, and I graciously won’t take offense to how dull you are being.” Growls pick up in front of him, a deep rumbling that his own second and third echo in response. “Silence,” he snarls, silencing the room entirely.
“I’m not sure how you mean,” Hughes replies, hesitant now but still snipped. Deucalion holds back his want to laugh in his face. The man was exactly where he wanted him and he was too prideful to notice.
“Do you no longer recognize tradition? Our pup was stolen from us, Alpha Hughes, that’s an offense punishable by death.” He sits back on the sofa, crossing his legs at the knee and carefully folding away his cane.
“We hold our traditions, Alpha Deucalion. I just don’t see how this is a matter for us to concern ourselves with.” He always loved conversations like these, delicate dances with words as steps. He enjoys listening to their hearts stumble and stutter as they craft responses, balancing over the delicate line of not offending him while simultaneously trying to get him to leave them alone.
“The criminal in question recently came through your land, we can scent him in the forest near here. He managed to hide here for over a month and you never knew.”
“Are you calling me a liar, Alpha Hughes?” He leans forward, head cocked to the side. A part of him wants the man before him to snap, wants him to do away with the faux-civilized conversation and go for his throat. He wants a reason to tear the man a part, it’s been so long since he and his pack have had some fun being so focused on this godforsaken Spark. He listens as the man breathes shallow and quick, heartbeat thundering in his ears. But he knows now is not the time, he needs to Hughes pack to comply.
The Hughes pack was not large, not by any means. They had three generations in their family but Alpha Hughes, Mark, didn’t have any siblings. His wife’s parents passed away before they could take the bite and her sister was a new wolf. Their children were grown and one was married to another ‘wolf. A family of eight, not a real threat to any other pack in the area who often had upwards of twenty or more.
Certainly, they weren’t a threat to the great and mighty Hales. With at least eight wolves within fighting ability, not to mention the banshee. Deucalion was not dense, he knew the Hales would have his Spark by now, their emissary far too smart for his own good and Talia too capable of keeping her territory in check. So, the Hughes were no threat to Alpha Hale and her family, but the Hughes and five alphas? Now there was a threat to be reckoned with.
“No, allow me to restate what I meant,” Deucalion holds up a hand to still the man. “Mieczysław Stilinski is a Spark of incredible power and has evaded us for quite a while. I am asking your help, because you are in the perfect position to end this once and for all.” Deucalion lets that hang in the air for a moment before continuing, “Let us bring our pup home.”
Alpha Hughes goes still where he sits on the sofa across from him and Deucalion waits. He sits and holds his cane, flexing his fingers and breathing softly. He keeps tension from stiffening his posture and focuses on the easy beat of his own heart. Mark adjusts in his seat but Deucalion knows, knows he has this man by the throat. Time to catch a Spark.
“And he just let you bring him here?” Laura whispers in shock, leaning in as if he wouldn’t be able to hear her perfectly from where she stood braced against the center island. They were in the kitchen, making tea and getting the requested snack for the omega who sat in their living room with Uncle Peter and Derek’s father. All parties involved were pretending the current conversation wasn’t happening. Talia was in a business meeting that would end soon, so until she arrived Laura was in charge.
After the Spark had told him he and his son were on the run, Derek told him to get in the back of the cruiser to be taken to the Hale House. The man had nodded and simply went about pulling the boy out of his car and transferring the car seat. Derek closed the door behind them and had climbed into the front seat while dialing his mother. He had been told to call Laura and have he and his sister meet his uncle and father at the house to discuss the next step.
“Didn’t say anything, just got in the backseat and didn’t say a word.” That wasn’t entirely true, the man had spent a moment hushing the boy and reassuring him that they would be fine. Not another word was said until they arrived at the Hale House and the kid’s stomach had rumbled and a snack had been asked for because the man had left the kid’s backpack in the car.
“You would think he’d put up more of a fight after trying so damn hard to hide,” Laura murmurs, slumping against the counter behind her. Derek moves around her and grabs some animal crackers that Jack liked for an after school snack, grabbing four tea mugs along the way.
“I guess we should count our blessings,” he says, dropping in tea bags and pouring the crackers into a bowl before taking the kettle off the stove.
Laura snorts, “Yeah, because it’s always been that easy. There’s something really wrong here. He said he was running from something?” Derek shrugs, not having any of the answers his sister is looking for.
“I guess we should go find out what,” he says with his best attempt at an encouraging smile. He hands Laura her and Uncle Peter’s mugs but stops in his tracks when his sister doesn’t move. He looks her in the eye and see the uncertainty there.
“I don’t know what I’m doing, Der.”
“Don’t you ever listen? What does Mom always tell you?” He asks her, leaning to block as much of the kitchen from her view as possible. It’s just them. “You never really know, you just have to pretend you do.” He watches his big sister pull back her shoulders and nod twice before turning and heading for the living room.
They take a moment to pass out mugs, all the adults but Derek having one, while he hands the crackers to the omega on his family’s loveseat. There’s a few seconds of silence where Derek just observes.
It’s the tense but strong set of the man’s shoulders and the ease of the boy’s that stands out first. He finds it odd that the omega seems so at peace in another pack’s territory while the man seems to know his dangers. But it’s also how still and quiet the boy is. Despite the little noise of munching and crackers scrapping around the bowl, the boy is well behaved and Derek wonders how the man managed to get that from a boy so young.
“It seems like there are some introductions that need to be made.” Laura leaves the because they haven’t been done properly to hang in the silence between them. “I’m Laura Hale, alpha apparent for the Hale Pack. This is my second and brother Derek, our uncle Peter, the current second, and my father, Samuel.” They all take their turns to nod as their names are said before all eyes return to the man and the omega.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” he dips his chin with the phrase. It’s not the sign of submission that Lydia gave to be welcomed into their pack but it is respect enough. “My name is Mieczyslaw Stilinski,” Derek startles a bit at that, Stiles’ gaze flashing to him momentarily, flickering to his deputy’s badge before continuing, “but most people call me Stiles. And this is my son, Connor.”
“Why did you come?” Laura leans forward in the armchair she’s chosen, in front of and just to the left of the man. “And why come without official notice and permission? What is so worth the risk of being found hiding on another pack’s territory?” Derek recognizes the voice, the mothering concern and that tone of disappointed disbelief that always wrangled confessions from him and his siblings growing up when their mother found them.
Stiles’ eyes dart to the boy next to him, jaw tensing before looking back to Laura. Derek has seen that look before, in the eyes of women who clutch their children when their abuser is led to the squad car. It’s the look of a parent shielding the worst of the world from their child. Derek’s father must see it too because he stands and holds out a hand to Connor who’s just finished his crackers.
“Hey, buddy. My nephew Jack has some pretty cool Hot Wheels in the playroom upstairs,” Derek’s eyes flick to the graphic tee of hot rods the child is wearing. “Would you like to go see them?”
Connor’s face lights up at the prospect but just as quickly he turns to his dad. Stiles nods with a small smile, watching as Connor takes Samuel’s hand and is led up the stairs. Stiles doesn’t turn back until they all hear the click of a bedroom door a few moments later.
“It’s a long story and I’m not sure if you’ll be as welcoming of us when I’m finished,” Stiles admits, sounding almost sheepish as he looks down at his mug of tea.
“I guess we can be glad we already made tea. Start from the top,” Laura says as lightly as the situation can warrant and leans back in her chair, settling in for the Spark’s tale.
“When I was eight, my mother died and my Spark manifested.” Derek swallows thickly around the scent of still-sharp pain and mourning. Sparks often need a catalyst to come into their power. Often times it is a celebration - it comes with victory or a wedding day, a time of joy. Stiles was one of the too many cases when sorrow was what broke open that piece of himself.
“My dad sent me to be trained by my grandmother in Poland like my mother had instructed before she passed. She had told him about the supernatural when they got married, when he started talking about kids because she knew Sparks were hereditary and she didn’t want to hide that from him anymore.” The scent still lingers but Stiles is smiling, looking down at his lap where he held his cooling tea.
“She told him everything?” Laura’s eyebrows come together and Derek knows she’s looking for damage control. Revealing the supernatural to a human can cause a multitude of problems, especially when that human is the sheriff.
“She only told him as much as she thought he needed, so she kept a lot of things like werewolves and other things out of the picture because he’s a human. She just told him about my babcia and what to do when my spark revealed itself.” Stiles looks up to the alpha apparent and waits while she mulls that over. Laura looks to Derek and he nods, conveying that he doesn’t think it’s a problem to handle right now. She turns back to the Spark and waves him on.
“When I was eighteen, I came back to the United States for good. I decided I wanted to honor Mom and do something to help others. I kind of became an Emissary for hire, going around the country helping the packs’ emissaries with things too big for just one person.”
“ Czerwona Iskra.” The room looks to Peter whose eyebrows are raised in questions. Stiles nods but Derek still doesn’t understand and his uncle is all too happy to be the one to explain. “Mr. Stilinski here is the Red Spark .”
Derek looks back to the man sitting on his parent’s loveseat, cradling a Space Invaders mug between slender hands. Stiles wasn’t just any Spark, he was the one that swooped in like a hero in some of the tales his parents told the pups at night. He was known to end civil wars in packs and defend territories from monsters. Derek hadn’t even realized he truly existed.
“Why is someone like you hiding? Why are you running?” Laura asks, eyebrows drawn together and Derek can feel her agitation. What is the Red Spark afraid of?
“Do you know of the Alpha pack?” Stiles asks quietly. Peter snorts humorlessly before getting up and walking to the kitchen.
“Yes, what about them?” Laura is doing her best to remain calm.
“Well, it could be said that I took something of importance from them.” Stiles’ eyes stay glued to his cup, his thumb running over a chip in the lip of the ceramic. Derek processes that for a moment before he feels his heart freeze in his chest.
“You kidnapped Connor?” Stiles winces a bit but seems to collect himself after a moment, squaring his shoulders.
“Yes, technically. I would call it rescuing.” Amber eyes meet Derek’s defiantly, staring him down and just asking for Derek to judge him. Derek is half a second from opening his mouth when Laura clears her throat.
“I will admit, I don’t think the Alpha Pack would be the poster people for Parents Weekly, but you can’t just steal a kid.” Stiles eyes flick to Laura at the sound of her voice and Derek has to tamp down his wolf’s disappointment at the loss of contact, as minimal and insignificant as it was.
“I was on my way to meet a pack, The McHaven pack in New Jersey,” Peter hums, the name obviously meaning something to him but Derek has yet to memorize the East Coast packs. “My Jeep broke down between states and I was walking to the nearest signpost to try and figure out where I was and what it would take to portal to the nearest town when I found an abandoned motel complex.”
“And you just thought it would be a fantastic idea to investigate,” Derek asks, incredulous and snarky. This man has no self preservation instinct it seemed and it was annoying the hell out of Derek as his story continued.
“Yes,” The man sniped, “because I heard a baby crying.”
“Because that doesn’t sound like a horror movie slaughter set up,” Peter scoffs, less concern and more amusement.
“Shut up,” Laura growls, “both of you.” She eyes both of them before leaning her elbows on her knees and gesturing for the Spark to continue.
“I thought maybe some misguided girl dropped off a baby in a panic or something and thought I should check it out. It has simultaneously been the best and worst decision of my life.” Stiles stares off to the side of Laura momentarily before seeming to shake himself out of a thought and continue. “I followed the noise into one of the rooms and found it unlocked. Obviously nobody was concerned about stuff being taken. When I went in, there was nothing but the old beds and stuff but then I saw the- the, I don’t know, nest?” His nose crinkles adorably and Derek mentally berates himself for getting off track yet again.”I found him there and- and he was crying and I didn’t know what to do so I just picked him up.”
“I’ll take a wild guess and say that’s when the alpha pack made their theatrical appearance?” Peter sighs, but the snark is lost in the words. They all hear the softness, the fear in Stiles’ voice the longer he talks.
The Spark nods, “They growled and said they had the right to kill me for touching their cub, it’s one of the more archaic laws but some packs are still really touchy about it. But I knew who they were, and I realized it was a trap. They were using the baby like a lure to bring in people they could kill and by technicality they couldn’t be found guilty.”
“Stiles, what did you do?” Laura is still leaning forward, eyebrows furrowed but softer than before. The concern has all but eradicated the fear of threat to the pack. She was always a softie for kids.
“I bolted. I didn’t even think about it, I just ran and didn’t stop.” Stiles places his tea mug on the coffee table and reaches down to pull up his pant leg. Derek watches avidly as each inch of skin is revealed, that is until the first edge of the angry red scar appears. The slash is puckered and looks like it could be painful to the touch, wrapping up and mostly around the man’s calf.
“They didn’t let me get away easy, but I couldn’t- I just had to.” Stiles sounds like he’s pleading for them to understand. By werewolf tradition and inter-pack law, what Stiles had done would have him killed by any pack he comes across. To take another pack’s cub was a horrible offense, to threaten their future and lineage. But Derek saw where this was that untouched grey area. Stiles had taken Connor away from a terrible place, from the Alpha pack. “I ran and I- we haven’t-”
“You haven’t stopped running since.” Derek’s voice barely reaches a whisper but everyone in the room hears him. Stiles looks up from where he’s dropped his pant leg and something happens there between them. Derek feels something like a lock slide out of place, the door opening between their eyes. Stiles’ gaze bores into his own and for once Derek wants to keep the door open, he craves the connection.
“Stiles,” the Spark’s eyes are torn from Derek’s and he feels like he’s been left laid out and bare but shakes it off to look at his sister, “were you planning on leaving today?”
“Why?” Derek can’t stop the way the word blurts out or the anger and concern it brings.
“Because,” Stiles enunciates slowly, eyes now sharp and focused back on him. It’s what Derek had wanted but not at all what he meant. “You knew I was here. I was breaking multiple territory laws and my dad is here. If you knew our connection after I’ve hidden here for nearly two months -”
“Two months? We thought you came two weeks ago.” Laura’s shoulders tense and he can see where she’s resisting standing up to pace the living room.
“So, your father is Sheriff Stilinski, I presume?” Peter has a smile on his face that means nothing good but Derek is too curious to know if this is his boss’ mysterious son.
“Yeah. Though I’ve been trying to get him to retire for years now,” Stiles rolls his eyes but it’s not a very effective cover to how he turns his gaze to Derek, specifically his deputy’s badge. The tension in the room, while it has been steadily rising for some time now, has ratcheted up to a whole new degree as more information comes out only adding to the pile of questions that dwarfs the pile of answers they have accumulated.
“Will everyone please take a deep breath?” Everyone in the room turns to find Talia standing in the entryway of the house, purse still in hand and scarf around her neck. The Sheriff is standing right behind her.
“You said Mom told you about Sparks!” Stiles seethes in a low volume. It isn’t necessary, seeing as how Alpha Hale had set them up in her soundproofed office to talk. She had taken one look between the Sheriff’s guilty downturned eyes and Stiles’ face draining of color before ushering them away from the rest of her family.
“She did!” The sheriff argued sternly before continuing in a softer voice, “But she may have also had some things to say about werewolves and such.”
“And such?” Stiles can practically feel his blood pressure rise as his father talks. “I had to find out about this from Babcia! And then I had to be worried about you all this time and -”
“Hey now, stop right there. Let’s talk about how you thought you were hiding the supernatural from me .” Even at the age of 27, Stiles is still cowed by the fierce look aimed his way.
“Babcia said it wasn’t safe. It was better if you were ignorant like everyone else in town,” Stiles explains, digging the toe of his shoe into the carpet. “It kept you out of the nastier side of interpack politics.”
“And since when has it been your job to decide how to keep me safe?” His father asks, thumbs jammed into his utility belt. Stiles opens his mouth, ready to spout off how it was when he discovered he could do something. Since he learned there were ways he could divert the bullets’ paths and charm the air around him. Since he learned there were powers beyond his humanity that could keep his father safer than most, despite his affinity for putting himself in more danger than the average man. But he doesn’t say any of that, just looks his father in the eyes and kinda just collapses forward.
His father’s arms wrap around him and hold him tight. He has his own kid now, has wiped away snot and tears, held hands and a small body close after nightmares. But for the first time in a long time, Stiles lets himself sink into his dad’s arms and be a son again.
“It’s not your job to protect me, kid.”
“We protect each other.” The words are muffled into the khaki of his father’s uniform shirt.
The Sheriff huffs his response into Stiles’ hair. “Of course. Now, what do I need to know?”
“Well, it might have something to do with Connor . . . “ Stiles slowly pulls away from his dad and stubbornly avoids eye contact.
“He’s not from a magical adoption agency, is he?” His father rubs at the bridge of his nose when Stiles’ shoulders slowly rise. Stiles may want to offer carpet cleaning services to Talia with how he’s been grinding the toe of his shoe into the carpet in his need to fidget.
Stiles remembers telling his father about “St. Angie’s Home for Wayward Lights” that he had concocted as a secret foster and adoption program run for orphaned Sparks. Stiles had called after just finishing charming the paperwork to make Connor officially and legally his. It wasn’t like he could tell his dad, “Oh yeah, I stole a baby, he’s a werewolf, I should probably tell you about those.” Yeah, that would have gone over great .
“Um, so, you remember how I wanted a puppy, right?” Stiles smiles sheepishly, resisting the urge to laugh when his dad blanches.
“You will not refer to my grandson as a puppy ,” The sheriff states firmly, poking a finger in Stiles’ direction as if to send the point further home. Stiles just presses his lips together and tries to fight back a smile while raising his hands up in surrender.
“Hey, I’m not the one who started it, okay. Your grandson said it first.” It was true, Stiles remembers the first time Connor called himself Stiles’ pup and Stiles had melted. It was almost as good as the first time he had been called Dad.
“I can barely handle it when Talia calls her little ones pups,” The sheriff sighs, settling his hands back onto his utility belt.
“Speaking of,” Stiles rounds on his father, making the man before him the mirror image of Stiles while he was being questioned. A mirror that’s aged two decades. “Since when have you known Alpha Hale?”
“I’ve known Talia since before you were born, Stiles. She’s been a civil servant for almost as long as I have.” His dad is tapping his fingers against his belt, chin just a tad higher than normal and Stiles is having none of it.
“I said “alpha,” Dad. I know an avoidance when I hear it.”
“I’ve created a monster, haven’t I?”
“You’ve trained me well. Now, spill.”
“She approached me just a few weeks before your mother . . .” Stiles swallows thickly and nods, understanding what they have rarely ever been able to say out loud. “She told me what she was. Her family and the importance of protecting their own. I didn’t understand at first, because Claudia hadn’t told me about any of this or having any deeper relation with the Hales.”
His father looks just past Stiles’ shoulder, like he’s looking off into a memory. “Apparently Claudia trained to be the Hale emissary. But she went off to college to see the world before she settled into the pack and found some dumbass to bring home with her.”
Stiles smiles, remembering how his mother used to talk about meeting his dad. It wasn’t romantic in the least. Their college had taken to buying a cheaper more chemical based soap that not only could hurt sensitive skin but was making the water that drained into the nearby lake toxic. Claudia had taken a stand and by doing so she chained herself to the leg of a bathroom stall and sat there for days. She had friends bring her food and held a clipboard with a petition on it for students to sign.
John had been a fresh new officer, still wet behind the ears. He was sent to shut down the one-woman petition and file it away without incident. After just twenty minutes John had been smitten, and it was just another twenty minutes before he was in the men’s room with a sheet of paper to stand across the hall. She took him home that Christmas to meet her mother before she returned to Poland now that her work visa would no longer be renewed after retiring.
Just two years later they would move to Beacon Hills and buy a small fixer-upper, just down the street from the McCalls. Just a few short years later those boys would be become best friends and, through the flames of loss and sorrow, brothers.
“Mom knew the Hales?” Stiles chokes on that a bit, feeling almost ashamed of running from them.
“Better than knew. As far as I can tell, she practically was one.” Stiles presses the palms of his hands to his eyes and rubs, digging the bone in until he saw the flashes of light.
“And I have been actively running from them, great. That’s just awesome.” He drops his hands. “I wouldn’t even know any of this for years probably, who knows! If Derek hadn’t stopped me today by some weird twist of fate we could have passed each other by and I would be tiptoeing around this for ages! I probably wouldn’t have told you until Connor accidentally sprouted fangs in front of you or something!” Now his hands are flailing around his head, a dangerous weapon for anyone in his general vicinity.
Stiles almost misses it, too. That look on his father’s face. It’s a quick thing, here and gone in just a few seconds but Stiles was raised to noticed those things. It’s what made him so good at knowing when his father wiggled out of his diet.
“What did you do?”
“Now, Stiles -”
“I may have aided and abetted fate.”
“You what?” Stiles has lost all presence to keep his tone down, shouting the question as he collapses backwards into an overstuffed armchair.
“Son,” his father lowers himself much more gracefully into the chair across from him, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees and hands folded. “You’ve been moving so often and never slowing down. You were going to burn out. You told me you were going to stop eventually but it didn’t seem like it and then you decided to homeschool Connor for kindergarten and . . . I just didn’t see you stopping unless somebody stopped you.”
“So you sent Officer Sourwolf after me,” Stiles huffs, crossing his arms over his chest like a petulant child.
“I did. I just couldn’t see why you had to put that kind of stress on yourself. I still don’t understand your need to leave Beacon Hills. Don’t think I believed that “possible opportunity in Seattle” bullshit for one second.” His father gives him that look that always killed him as a kid and that Stiles still resents to this day.
“Well, Dad, there’s more to Connor’s history that you need to know.”
“Well, John, I’ve got to say I’m impressed,” Derek’s mother smiles, eyes bright and full of amusement. “Your shouts rendered that soundproofing near useless.”
Derek is still a bit shell-shocked from hearing the Sheriff curse so much, having barely ever heard the man raise his voice let alone practically scream profanities when faced with what Derek assumes is the truth of Connor’s past.
“Thank you, Talia,” The sheriff smiles gamely but it’s obvious that he’s still stricken by the information dump he’s undergone in the past thirty or so minutes.
“Well, now that everyone’s been caught up, why don’t we discuss how we proceed?” His mother glances around the room, waiting as everyone finishes settling into seats. Everyone in the pack is here now, their alpha having explained the situation that had been under wraps for the past couple of months. Cora has agreed to take the youngest pups to the park and to be updated later.
“Wait, are you saying you’ll help me?” Stiles is sitting next to his father on the loveseat, fingers previously tapping on his knee now frozen.
“Was that not clear?” Derek comes back from the kitchen, having cleared away the mugs from earlier to settle on the arm of the couch next to Stiles. If the Spark is surprised or concerned by it, he doesn’t show it. Talia is looking at Stiles with her head tilted slightly from the front of the room, standing regally in front of the large fireplace with Peter in an armchair to her right.
“I- It’s not that I don’t appreciate- I just- why?” Stiles’ shoulders sort of slump and Derek is torn between calling it defeat and relief. It makes him want to reach out and grasp the back of the man’s neck, just a firm grip to reassure him and bring him some sense of ease. Sitting so close may not have been the best of ideas.
“We are an old pack, Stiles, but we are not bound by tradition,” Talia starts. “We respect the ways of our ancestors and the ways they lived in their times but we know that times change.”
“What my sister means,” Peter pipes up from his chair, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees, “is that we respect the grey areas.” Stiles nods along to that, swallowing thickly and letting that sink in.
“Thank you. I don’t know what else I can say or offer, but thank you.” Derek looks up when he feels eyes on him and sees his mother staring at him. Her gaze flicks between them and she smiles, Derek doesn’t know what to do with that so he turns away.
“Your mother was to be my emissary,” Stiles’ father coughs awkwardly and Talia smiles, ducking her head before continuing, “Your family, through her, is my family. I knew her, was her friend, until her last days and she asked me for only one thing. One thing for all those years of friendship.” She looks Stiles in the eyes, both of them misty and growing more and more red-rimmed. “She wanted me to protect her family.”
Stiles seems to crumple in on himself a bit and the bitter tang of grief rises from him and his father next to him. The salty scent of tears is what presses Derek forward to lay a hand on Stiles’ shoulder, only feeling the discomfort of intrusion for a moment before the Sheriff’s hand joins his with a watery smile. The whole group sits in silence while the men gather the grief and pack it away again, wiping their faces and squaring their shoulders.
“So, now what?”
“We need to know what we’re up against. But first, how about dinner?”
“So, my dad sent you to stop me.” Derek won’t admit on pain of death that Stiles’ sudden appearance at his side makes him jump in surprise. He’s in the dining room, helping the returned pups set the table for a pack dinner. He’s watching to make sure no one breaks his mother’s dishes and that Lacy, Laura and Andrew’s only child, at the tender age of four puts a fork at every place setting.
“Not you specifically, he said there was an anonymous tip for your car description,” Derek admits. Connor rushes past them with a load of napkins in his arms with Peter and Diana’s youngest Alex, just a year older than his new friend, who’s carrying a set of cups. Stiles reaches for Connor’s shoulder as he passes, mouth parted as if to warn for something but the boys are already too far gone, absorbed in their own world.
“Not a whole lot better,” Stiles grumbles, crossing his arms over his chest. That is until Lacy comes up to his thigh and tugs on the Spark’s jeans.
“Well, hello there little miss,” Stiles drops down to a crouch so he’s eye level with the little girl. She has the bright Hale eyes but her father’s auburn hair that falls in waves over her slim shoulders.
“Momma says you’re magic,” Lacy says simply, popping her thumb into her mouth.
“Lacy!” Derek starts reaching down to scoop her up and ready to scold her for being impolite but Stiles smiles and stops him with a gently raised hand.
“Your Momma’s right. Want to see a magic trick?” Derek’s normally taciturn niece nods her head so vigorously her thumb nearly pops out of her mouth. Stiles‘ smile widens and Derek’s breath catches in his chest before the magic trick has even begun. Stiles cups his palms, keeping eye contact with Lacy as he puffs a few breaths between them. He mutters something in what Derek recognizes as an archaic form of Polish before opening his hands and letting out butterflies of light, sparkling in the evening sunshine flutter away. Lacy gasps and watches avidly before turning back to Stiles.
“Lacy, what do you say?”
Stiles chuckles, “And how could I say no to that?” They stand there for awhile, watching Stiles make various animals of light until all the pups have gathered around them, including Connor, sitting as Stiles’ feet to watch. Jenny, Danny and Jackson’s adopted daughter has decided in her rebellious preteen phase that the light show is worth her time.
“Dinner’s on!” Derek’s father calls as he enters the dining room with a still steaming roasting pan with a large turkey in it. All the pups groan as the climb to their feet and start to shuffle to their seats and Stiles smiles as he’s thanked for showing them his magic. Stiles looks up at Derek and smiles proudly, like he’s accomplished something by pleasing a group of kids but Derek won’t ruin the fun, just smiles back as he heads towards his seat next to Peter. Laura sits at Talia’s right, next to their father and everyone else takes a seat wherever they please.
Dinner is a loud affair, as always and even more so tonight with the addition of the Stilinskis. Well, not so much the Sheriff but Stiles is vibrant and animated, hands out and swung around almost carelessly. Cora, on the Spark’s right, tries catching a majority of the things that start to topple as Stiles recounts various tales but at one point Stiles has to catch an entire basket of bread rolls with a stretch of magic, smiling sheepishly as he gingerly places it back on the table. Derek loves watching him, how avid he is and invested in every sentence he utters. He feels like a livewire in Derek’s mind that tickles down his spine. He doesn’t think he will ever get enough.
“Alright, birthdays in April, August and December are doing dishes tonight,” Talia announces from the head of the table, containing a small laugh when she sees her youngest grandchild excitedly jump down from her chair to help. Derek stands and takes away the bigger dishes and dodges the younger ones taking away small stacks of dinner plates on his way to the kitchen. As he places the dirty dishes on the counter and starts the hot water for a rinse before putting them in the dishwasher, Stiles manages to sneak up on him once more.
“April 8th, you?” Stiles settles next to him, taking one look at the steam rising from the sink and instead choosing to take rinsed plates and put them in the dishwasher.
“A Christmas baby?” Stiles says in an awed voice, “You were born in the height of holiday cheer!” Derek turns to look at him, pausing in his scrubbing to lift an unimpressed eyebrow. Stiles just continues to smile, looking to him expectantly.
“I sure was,” Derek says, tone bland shooting Stiles a forced grin. The man cracks up next to him, practically doubling over as he laughs and clutches his stomach. Derek lets himself really smile, enjoying the warmth in his chest at having made Stiles laugh.
“So there is a sense of humor under the Sourwolf exterior.”
“Welcome to being a friend of Stiles Stilinski, awesome nickname required.” Derek can’t quite smother his grin as he rolls his eyes and continues to rinse dishes.
Thank you for the continued support of this fic, I'm always so happy to respond to all your comments and to hear about your excitement. The fic might have one or two more chapters than originally planned as the ending seems to be stretching before my eyes so oops. Check in next week for another update!
Chapter 4: Seafoam Green Crayons & Rooks
Okay, so as you may or may not have noticed I've changed the chapter range. I doubt I will finish this in two more chapters but I don't know how to guestimate so bear with me while I figure that out. Otherwise, enjoy the chapter!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“No, you won’t pull out your brain!” Stiles huffs for the fifth time, trying to calm down his son who currently has a crayon up his nose and won’t let Stiles take it out.
“But Dad!” Connor’s nose is runny with snot and his cheeks are damp with distressed tears, a whine building high in his throat and Stiles has always hated seeing his kid like this. It never gets easier to see Connor upset but he’s also having a hard time trying not to laugh at how ridiculous the whole situation is.
“Just let me take it out, it won’t even hurt,” Stiles tells him, a gentle hand rubbing his pup’s head. There’s a knock at the door as Connor shakes his head no, tears slowing but not stopped. “You stay right here, okay? I’ll be back in a second.” Stiles backs away from his crouch in front of Connor at the dining room table jogs to the front door. He finds Derek Hale in a comfy looking green henley and light wash jeans on the other side.
“Is Connor hurt?” His eyebrows of doom are furrowed in worry as he tries to look over Stiles shoulder before meeting his eyes. Stiles tries not to get too caught up in how much he appreciates the man’s worry for his pup, how it warms something deep in his chest, and instead focuses on hurrying this up and hopefully not being rude while trying to get back to his kid.
“Oh, uh, kinda? We have a small situation but I have it handled.” Stiles tells him, blocking the entrance and hoping Derek won’t discover what a dumbass parent Stils truly is.
“One second, bud!”
“I think I got it more stuck!” Stiles drops his chin to his chest with a quiet sigh when Derek responds to that with a lifted, judgemental eyebrow.
“My son has a seafoam green crayon stuck up his nose,” he admits, wiping a hand down his face. He peaks up through his lashes and sees Derek pressing his lips together but his eyes are sparkling with mirth. “Not a word!” Stiles hisses, hopefully too low for his son’s undeveloped werewolf hearing to pick up. When Derek nods the affirmative, Stiles leads him inside and to the dining room where Connor is still seated, morosely poking at the crayon.
“What seems to be the problem here, buddy?” Derek asks, pulling up a chair in front of Connor and smiling pleasantly. Connor attempts to sniffle around the crayon and just points to it, eyebrows furrowed and looking judgmentally confused as to why that wasn’t obvious to the man. Stiles snickers just over Derek’s shoulder but covers it with a palm over his mouth when Derek turns a glare on him.
“It’s gonna pull my brain out,” Connor whines, the distress picking up again.
“No, I don’t think it will. I think you’re gonna be just fine,” Derek assures him, “Mind if I look?” Connor shakes his head and waits as Derek reaches out and gently tilts back Connor’s head, humming as he “inspects” the crayon and the boy’s nose. “Just as I suspected.”
“What?” Connor asks, practically bouncing in his seat.
“Not far enough in.” Derek’s voice is matter of fact and a bit somber, like a doctor delivering a verdict. “You’d need a pencil to reach you brain.”
“Not that you’re going to stick one of those up your nose, mister,” Stiles tells him, point his finger with narrowed eyes. His son shrinks in his chair a bit at the scolding but is giggling as Derek pokes and prods his face, even pinching a still chubby cheek.
“I can take it out for you, if you’d like,” Connor hesitates but seems to look Derek in the eye and decides he trusts him because he eventually nods. “Alright, ready?” With another nod and a quick but careful tug the crayon is being placed on a napkin on the table and Connor has launched forward to hug Derek.
“What do you say?”
“Thank you, Derek!” Not even a second later, Connor has grabbed the crayon off the table, making both men wince, and runs off presumably to go finish coloring.
“Well, we’ll be having another germs talk soon,” Stiles sighs before turning back to look at Derek. “You want some coffee? I was just about to make some before the crisis.” Stiles starts to walk to the kitchen because he intends to have coffee even if Derek doesn’t.
“I was actually wondering if you would want to go out and get coffee.”
“What?” Stiles turns on his heel to face Derek and finds the man tugging at his knuckles nervously. He finds his heart lodged in his throat with how sweet the gesture is but tries to keep his heart rate in check. Being on the run hasn’t made his dating life very easy . . . or existant.
“Yeah, there’s a place near the station with a park right next to it and I thought you and Connor might want to get out of the house for a bit. Mom said you guys have probably been cooped up for a while now.”
Stiles tries to keep his face neutral as his heart sinks back to it’s designated spot in his chest, to ache in peace. Of course this wasn’t a date, you idiot. He’s just being a good guy, a good beta for his alpha . Stiles swallows back his disappointment and smiles.
“That would be great. Let me go get Connor ready really quick.” Derek smiles back and nods, settling back a bit in his chair while Stiles goes to the livingroom and gets Connor to out on his shoes. He pushes aside the little dark cloud in his mind that’s been following him for years, nagging at him whenever opportunities like this came up. One particularly bad night the thought of this being the price of parenthood flitted through his mind.
It was a momentary blip but Stiles still felt guilty from time to time. Connor wasn’t baggage or a burden on him, he was the light of his life and was often on the of the few things he could take joy in. But that dark cloud reminded him he hadn’t had a serious relationship since high school and sometimes that felt more like a failure than most things. Once Connor has his shoes on, Stiles grabs his backpack with the extra socks, snacks and the Spiderman figurine that Connor can’t seem to live without recently.
“You okay taking my car?”
“Did you bring your cruiser?” Connor asks excitedly as they leave the house and close the door behind them. “‘Cause you’re a deputy.”
“Nope, that’s for when I work. But I think I have something just as cool,” Derek leads the way to where he has a Camaro parked at the curb in front of Stiles’ house.
“A Camaro?” Stiles asks, unable to cover the awe in his voice. Derek blushes at the tips of ears but smiles.
“A gift from the pack for graduating top of my class from the academy.”
“Some gift,” Stiles says, running his hand over the sleek curves of the vehicle. Connor is practically vibrating out of his shoes while he goes off about horsepower and torque, asking for ratios for different performance parts and other statistics that Derek obligingly gives him. He was definitely a kid raised by Stiles, he asks all the questions. The ‘why’ phase was a nightmare.
Stiles tries to contain himself as he slides into the passenger seat, rubbing his hands over the leather interior and the stippled leather of the dash. This car was pure sex and that was definitely not the kind of thoughts he needed while his six year old son was in the car.
“So, top of class and you chose Beacon Hills? Did they not try to send you somewhere like San Francisco or Redding?” Stiles asks.
“They did, actually, they wanted me in Los Angeles or even San Diego but I just couldn’t be that far from my pack.” Stiles nods along. Packs were important to a wolf, it was their forever home and being so far apart for so long would be harsh to say the least. Stiles glances out of the corner of his eye to where Connor is staring out his window and tries not to feel like a failure yet again. It’s not like Connor would be better off with his pack, but Stiles knew having just him wouldn’t be enough as Connor grew older and needed to learn proper control of his wolf.
“Did you buy a car seat?” Stiles asks, just noticing that that wasn’t Connor’s usual Cookie Monster one having been returned to Stiles’ Jeep after the pack dinner.
“Uh, no, I-uh, well, Jack just grew out of his and I was hoping you would both join me so I took it with me.” Derek’s ears are pink again and Stiles can’t help but find it sickeningly cute. Stiles is saved from having to either change the topic or explain how he forgot to grab his own car seat before they left by Derek pulling into a parking spot in front of the coffee shop.
As they walk inside Connor sticks close to Stiles’ side, a habit he had worked to train into him since he was small to keep him from wandering off. It was a necessity of their lifestyle and another one of the things that kept Stiles awake at night, beating himself up over how he was ruining Connor’s life.
“Hey, do you know what you want?” Stiles startles a bit, attention snapping to Derek who looks concerned but doesn’t want to make a scene. Stiles looks between Derek and the menu, just now realizing they have made it to the front of the line while Stiles was lost in thought.
“Oh, uh, yeah. I’ll have the hazelnut cappuccino and a small kid’s temp hot chocolate for the kiddo, please,” Stiles addresses the barista and starts to pull out his wallet put Derek pushes his hand aside with a smile and orders and full roast americano and pays with a cash and a punch card, stuffing the change in the tip jar.
“You didn’t have to,” Stiles tells the man as he’s led to the pick up counter.
“I wanted to,” Derek shrugs, smiling. Before Stiles can decide between protesting further and just thanking him. Derek is crouching down in front of Connor.
“Hey buddy, wanna go to the park? There’s a really cool twisty slide that Jack likes.” Connor nods and Derek stands and nods to the side door behind Stiles. “You can go and get him out there, I’ll bring out the drinks when they’re ready.”
They spend a few hours there once they get settled. Connor loves the twisty slide and the different things he can climb on and jump off of. Stiles has to keep himself from freaking out too much as he does various things, because even though he’s a parent of a werewolf child, he’s a parent and parents’ jobs are to worry. Derek points out there’s a stone chess table at the edge of the park and pulls out a bag of marble pieces when Stiles points out the missing necessity. When asked Derek simply shrugs and says,
“You looked like someone who would enjoy a good game of chess.”
And, well, he’s not wrong. Stiles hasn’t played a good game of honest to god chess in ages. He used to play often with his dad and even got his grandmother to play on occasion remembering a specific time when he was learning kinetic magic and was only allowed to move pieces with it. He wants to teach Connor one day, but knows it will be some time before he’s ready. He is a bright kid, picking up on so much already but Stiles was humble enough to admit his kid was not a child prodigy.
“Why did you decide to come to Beacon Hills?” Derek asks, knocking out Stiles’ knight with a vicious swipe of his bishop.
“What do you mean?” Stiles asks, observing the board, having to now recalculate his next move without the knight he had needed.
“It’s just, you’ve had Connor for years and you’re just now deciding to come back to your hometown and I guess I just want to why now?” Stiles looks up at the man before him and doesn’t find judgement or pity, maybe just a touch of concern and curiosity. He lifts his queen and wrecks the bishop Derek had used. He looks up and finds Derek looking pleasantly put out by the move and his inability to immediately retaliate.
“I don’t know, I guess part of it was my dad. I didn’t tell him Connor was a were because I thought he only knew about Sparks, but I’ve found that’s definitely not the case.” Stiles lifts an eyebrow Derek’s way.
“Deputy Parrish is a hellhound and Laura works as the DA. Your dad has arrested werefoxes, wendigo and even managed to charge a succubus with rape.” Derek sounds fond and even proud and Stiles gets this new view on his father’s life in Beacon Hills. Stiles had spent a lot of his life worrying about his dad, never guaranteed with his safety and always conscious of just how far away he was.
Stiles sees now that his father was always protected, cared for, even when Stiles was away, even if he wasn’t aware. It settles something jagged and raw in his chest and lets it find a place to rest, not idle but calmer than before.
“Well, I just didn’t want to burden him, I guess. And he always puts himself into so much danger, I couldn’t be the one adding another target to his back.” Stiles shrugs, waiting for Derek’s move that never comes. He looks up and finds the werewolf staring at him, eyes narrowed in contemplation like Stiles is a puzzle he knows he doesn’t have all the pieces to.
“You’re not a burden, Stiles,” He opens his mouth to protest but Derek raises a hand and for probably the first time in his life Stiles obeys it without feeling offended, “You’re not a burden. You just got wrapped up in a situation out of your control and did the best you could and by the looks of it,” Derek looks over to where Connor is in a sandbox with a girl his age, sharing the Hot Wheels cars from his backpack happily, “you’ve done good.”
Stiles ducks his head and lets the warmth bloom in his chest without restriction, just enjoys it. “Thanks.” When he looks up again Derek has moved his rook that Stiles inadvertently cleared the path for with his last move.
“Check, by the way.”
“Any word on our Spark, Ms. Belham?” The witch in the corner of the room shrinks down further. The shackles around her wrists clank and rattle against the floor but the noise has long since faded into the background for her.
She had been wondering when this would come. It hadn’t been more than a few hours since they had brought her the map and the silver knife, the herbs to burn and her chain hung geode to dangle over it all. She knew they took her for a reason, and now she knows they need to find someone.
Her chest aches because if this is how they treat their tool , she would hate to be whoever they were hunting down.
The man who spoke stands at the top of the stairs and waits there for a moment, his back to the near blinding light of the world beyond the witch’s basement captivity. Deucalion makes his way down the stairs with an unnerving accuracy for someone who is blind. He doesn’t even use his cane, just descends like a bird of prey, but Sarah is all too aware of the wolf’s claws and teeth.
“N-no.” She shakes her head to emphasize her point, the stringy quality of her hair even more evident as it sways around her face with the motion. Deucalion smiles as he descends the last step and makes his way across the room.
“You may not know this, my dear Sarah. The witch before you didn’t either, wolves don’t often cohabitate with your kinds of magic,” Deucalion smiles, perfect white teeth gleaming in the low light. Sarah feels the grime on her own teeth having accumulated after been kept here for the week. Well, what she thinks is a week, she hasn’t seen sunlight or a clock since coming down here. “But we wolves know when you lie .”
The word is drug out, slow and scraping through the air and Sarah feels it shiver down her spine. She knew wolves had their tricks but no one warned her of this. Hell, she barely knew werewolves existed a couple years ago, her mother hadn’t told her about magic, just waited until her daughter spontaneously combusted a flower pot while angry and then decided it was time to tell her. She had only been instructed for these two years and it was really taught by necessity.
“You see, I can hear your heartbeat, dear. Can hear the way it speeds up in fear and anxiety, it really adds a new dimension to the thick scent of it in this basement,” the man laughs harshly, grating on Sarah’s nerves. “But I’m like a lie detector, see, I can hear the uptick in your heart rate when you lie to me, so tell me again, Sarah. What do we know about our Spark?”
Deucalion has made his way right in front of her, standing, looming, over her where she’s hunched in her corner. He reaches down and Sarah can’t resist flinching back but he simply snatches the chains holding her wrists in magic dampening iron and yanks her forward.
“Tell me, dear, what will we find?”
Sarah feels something in her snap. Like her spine has been ramrod straight, unbending and resistant but now this was all it took to crush her. She sends up a silent apology and plea to Mieczyslaw Stilinski when she closes her eyes and lets out a shaky breath.
“Beacon Hills. He’s in Beacon Hills.”
Stiles gasps awake, rolling over and waiting for the nauseous feeling to pass. He takes in his surroundings. He’s taken over his old bedroom again, hardly changed from when he left at sixteen. The posters had been taken down and the bedding changed but the furniture stayed where he had left it and there was still that dent in the wall behind his door where to door handle lands when he flails into the room.
He sits up and swings his legs out, ignoring the way his arms shake with the last tremors of the nightmare. He can’t remember the details but he’s left with a feeling that can mean nothing good. Stiles stands from his bed and pads lightly over to the blow up mattress that Connor is set up on while they’re here, tangled up in Stiles’ old blankets. He makes sure he hasn’t woken him before taking his phone off his charger and walking downstairs.
He makes his way outside, sliding the glass door to the patio behind him as quietly as possible. He dials the number without really thinking, still caught in this dark cloud that the nightmare left him in.
“Hello?” Derek’s voice is rough with sleep but concerned all the same. It would warm Stiles’ heart, if it hadn’t stopped just moments ago. “Stiles, are you alright?”
“They’re coming for us.”
Thank you all for checking out another chapter and I love love love hearing all your amazing comments, they really fuel the writing process :) You guys are the best
Chapter 5: Weed Pulling & Promises
Favorite Comment Thread goes to
@sumcp : No no no no
Me : *clinks teacups with Satan*
It only gets worse from here, babes. I promise a good ending that involve more smiles than tears but there will definitely be tears. So, feel free to scream at me in the comments.
“You can stay in here, we brought in the mat Jake uses for sleepovers for Connor and the bathroom is just across the hall. Cora is on breakfast duty this week so slightly burnt pancakes and well done scrambled eggs are on the menu in a few hours.” Talia pushes open the door to the bedroom and smiles kindly as Stiles and Connor take stock of their surroundings.
Stiles doesn’t know how to quite explain the feeling he got from his nightmare or how it had translated into such an intense belief that the alpha pack were on their way, but when Derek managed to get a hold of Deaton, the emissary had told them it wasn’t something to be ignored. It had been a hectic few hours of waking everyone up and explaining the situation but now it was four in the morning and it was agreed that Connor and Stiles should stay at the Hale house.
“Connor, go ahead and lay down for a bit. Try to sleep okay, bud?” Stiles rubs his pups head as the kid nods sleepily and goes for the cot filled with a mound of blankets. Stiles knows without a doubt it will be a nest by the time he gets back. Stiles closes the door once he sees Connor climb into the blankets and turns to Talia.
“Stiles, is something wrong?” She closes her eyes, scrunching her nose a bit. Of course something is wrong, this is Stiles’ life they’re talking about but Stiles ignores that thought when she smiles apologetically.
“I won’t be able to sleep. I’ll just be keeping him awake,” he tells her, as he starts to walk back down the hallway. “Is there anything I can help with, Mrs. Hale?”
“Talia,” she tells him with a wry grin, waiting for him to smile back and nod before continuing, “No, dear, I really think you need your rest. But if you must busy yourself, I think Derek has a project in the backyard you could help with. The hour is perfect for it.” They part ways when the alpha takes a seat in the livingroom, lifting a large book into her lap. Stiles makes his way through the quiet house, through the kitchen and opens the sliding glass door to the backyard as carefully as he can.
“I’m fine, Mom, seri- Stiles.” Derek is on his hands and knees, wrist deep on the planter box at the edge of the back patio. It looks like he’s weeding, tugging up the roots and placing them to the side in a bucket without breaking a sweat in the brisk early morning air.
“Uh, hey.” Stiles lifts his hand to wave and quickly drops it, ducking his head in embarrassment. He chances a look back up and finds Derek smiling, sitting back on his heels. “Need any help?”
“I wouldn’t mind the company.” Stiles walks forward and settles on his knees next to the werewolf. He’s handed a bucket and Derek takes some time to show him how to properly dig up the roots around the patch of daisies without damaging the flowers themselves. Derek speaks softly, hands sure as he guides Stiles’.
“So, do you all live here? I didn’t think there was a enough room for that, unless your house is the T.A.R.D.I.S.” Stiles asks once they have worked out a system between them, slowly and methodically working as the sun slowly rises.
“No, but we all come for the weekends when we can. Laura, Cora and I still have our old rooms and we have the spare rooms. One each for the sets of parents and the pups like to sleep in a pile in the parlor.”
“That sounds really nice,” Stiles smiles, grunting a bit with a particular vicious tug. The weed uproots more suddenly then he expects and he finds himself tipped backwards on his ass, glaring at the plant in his hand. Derek chuckles and shakes his head a bit but moves along, leaving Stiles to blush in peace.
“It’s the best we could come up with. Moon knows we would kill each other if we all tried to live here full time,” Derek chuckles with the thought, taking his bucket and standing up in one smooth motion. He reaches down and offers a hand to Stiles to tug him up which Stiles can’t find he minds the way he fumbles when Derek’s hand lingers with his own.
“I like being an only child, but I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a big family.”
“It’s just your dad and Connor?” Derek asks, leading him around the side of the house to where there’s a handbuilt compost bin that they dump their weeds into.
“Yeah, my mom died when I was young, frontotemporal dementia . . . and my grandmother in Poland died a few years after I left after training. I wanted to go see her, help her because we knew she was on her way, but there were too many complications with getting Connor a passport.”
“I’m sorry,” Derek turns to look at him, really look. It was real eye contact, meaningful and deep. Stiles feels a shiver run down his spine, reminded of his lack of genuine connection over the years. But this time, it isn’t a longing ache but like that time in the livingroom when something felt like it was starting. It was like those first few soft chords of a song that lead into something bigger. Stiles knew that something big was beginning here, if only he let it.
“Nothing to be sorry for, it’s just how life goes sometimes,” Stiles shrugs, aware of how they’re still standing here with the fruit flies and the muted scent of compost in the crisp morning air.
“Doesn’t mean you deserved it,” Derek presses, a crease forming betweens his eyebrows.
“I don’t think life is about what we deserve,” Stiles says, continuing when Derek tilts his head in confusion. “I think life is about how we handle the cards we’re dealt, what we do with the things we can’t control.”
“That’s- that’s a really nice way to look at it.” Stiles smiles, ducking his head like a shy school boy in front of his first crush. Stiles lets himself enjoy it, the flutter in his stomach and the whirring in his mind as he enjoys the simplicity of Derek’s presence near him as the sun rises.
“Derek, we don’t have anymore garlic for the primavera.” Derek’s father pops his head out the doorway between the kitchen and the livingroom. His father chuckles when he spots his son covered in pups, wrestling with them and throwing them this way and that while growling and whimpering in pain dramatically as needed.
“I can go to the store, Mr. Hale,” Stiles offers, standing from where he had been reclining on the couch and watching Derek play with the kids. Connor and Alex are pouncing and have discovered Derek can’t toss them both off simultaneously therefore planning to jump at the same time works best. Derek liked the soft mix of contentment and childlike joy surrounding them in the livingroom, the fireplace turned on for the first time this autumn as the leaves started to change and a chill dropped over the city.
“No, I can-” Derek is cut off by Connor leaping from the couch and onto his stomach, bony everything hitting him causing a not so faked “oof”.
“I got it jungle wolf,” Stiles says, smiling over him while Derek tossing around a laughing Connor. He likes the look on the Spark, eyes bright and shoulders relaxed like he hasn’t seen before. Derek holds Connor to his chest while the kid wriggles to return the smile. At least until Lacy tumbles over to them, toppling bodily onto Derek’s face. He listens to Stiles’ laugh as he leaves, shutting the front door gently behind him as he goes.
“That one’s special, isn’t he, Der?” Derek hears his father in the kitchen, quiet enough that the pups would pay it any mind. Derek feels his ears heat up and ignores his father’s chuckling as he chops something.
“Hey, do you wanna go see my treehouse?” Alex asks Connor, both of them flopped over Derek’s midsection while he plays airplane with Lacy.
“Yeah,” Connor nods enthusiastically and Derek cringes as bony elbows and knees bounce off him as they get up and rush out to the backyard. He stands, lifting his niece onto his hip and following after the boys when Cora comes downstairs.
“Hey Derek, can you do me a favor?” She takes Lacy from his grip, rubbing their noses together and making the child giggle. He rolls his eyes knowing that she’s taking away his excuses to say ‘no’.
“Sure, what do you need?”
“Lydia took my car to visit her parents in Sacramento for the day but I needed to get almond flour for the macaroons.” Derek resists the urge to perk up at that. Cora was a closeted baking prodigy and there had been actual physical fights over her macaroons in the past, they were heavenly.
“Yeah, Stiles just left for garlic. I’ll just catch up to him.” His little sister raises her eyebrows at that in a move he distinctly remembers teaching her when they were younger. “Not a word,” he growls, pointing at her menacingly making her cackle. “The boys are in the backyard.”
Derek pushes past her and grabs his cardigan and car keys as he heads for the door. The fall weather wasn’t quite chilled enough to affect werewolves but his mother was always reminding them to keep up appearances. He takes the Camaro Laura passed down to him when Lacy was born, having bought a newer and more family friendly car as the largest testament to how motherhood and marriage had softened her in the best ways.
He easily follows the scent of the Jeep’s leaking oil line and the burning of a loose belt all the way to the Albertson’s in town. He takes his time fixing his hair in the mirror and adjusting his cardigan over his shoulders after he parks in a stall two cars down from the baby blue Jeep. When he deems it nice enough he climbs out of the car and heads inside. He can’t scent Stiles’ distress until he steps inside the building.
He picks up his pace and follows his nose until he reaches the wine aisle. He finds an employee mopping up a broken bottle and a large splash of sharp smelling wine all across the aisle. But that becomes distant when Derek’s vision focuses in on a small splatter of blood on the tile.
He could be fine. Maybe he hurt himself trying to clean up a spill, he’s always calling himself a spaz. He could be fine. He’s a strong Spark. He could be fine .
But as much as he tells himself he knows nothing is okay here.
He feels the wolf clawing at his chest, pounding against the inside of his ribcage and snarling viciously for him to chase after Stiles. Stiles is hurt and he should be protecting him. But he backs out of the aisle quickly, stumbling a bit but not caring as he works to slow his breathing and keep his shift in check. He feels the bite of his claws digging into the sensitive palms of his hands.
He leaves the store and opens his phone, hitting the first speed dial as he climbs into his car. He listens to it ring as he peels out of the parking lot and lets go of a breath he didn’t know he was holding when his mother picks up.
“They took Stiles.”
“Good morning, sleepy head. Time to face the music,” Stiles starts awake, jerking his hands to find them shackled in iron and aching with the runes etched into the metal around them. He blinks his eyes open and takes in his surroundings.
It’s terribly cliche how dark and damp the cellar is, lit by a naked lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling, sending strange shadows to rise and fall against the walls. The only furniture seems to be the counters across the far wall and some boxes of who knows what in the corner to his right. There’s a woman in front of him whose glowing eyes have haunted him for nearly a decade now.
“Oh, don’t be like that, Stiles. We’re co-parents and all.” She smiles, fangs showing menacingly. Stiles scoffs, ignoring the visual threat and dismissing it with a roll of his eyes. It makes his head throb. Stiles doesn’t know who Connor’s father is and if he’s being honest he doesn’t give a damn but he knows Kali is his mother. It’s in the olive of his skin and the dark eyes that are infinitely deeper than his own.
“You’re nothing more than a DNA donor for all the parenting you did,” he seethes. Thinking of Connor and letting a small part of him relax knowing he’s with the Hales. Kali snarls.
“He’s my son and you stole him,” she sneers. Stiles chooses not to respond to that, biting his tongue to hold back the tirade he’s been holding on to for eight years. “Cat got your tongue, little Spark? Have nothing to say for your crimes?”
He keeps his silence but doesn’t turn away, just stares her down as she grins and paces the room, clacking the claws on her toes against the concrete floor.
“How’s the leg by the way? I’ve heard the great Czerwona Iskra has a limp on occasion.”
“Why haven’t you killed me yet?” Stiles asks plainly. His hands are bound and there’s another cuff around his left ankle with the same runes as his wrist that had a chain staked into the ground. The floor beneath him was like ice and had barely warmed even with his body heat having been here for who knows how long. It was a basement of some sort and without his magic he was essentially useless so now he needed to know as much as he could.
“Oh trust me, I wanted to. I wanted to kill you the second you woke up so I could watch you struggle with it . . . but Duke has bigger plans,” She tells him with a shrug, like murder had no real effect on her day to day life.
“Really? I assumed you just ran around baring your teeth and killing whoever didn’t cower,” Stiles snarks. He doesn’t let himself flinch when she lunges forward, only proving his point further. The stories of the alpha pack whispered about how they teeter on the edge of feral and how that made them so fierce and cruel, gave them an animalistic drive that left nothing to mercy.
“You aren’t going to survive this, Stiles. I don’t care what Deucalion wants, you aren’t going to run away from me again,” Kali growls before storming out, slamming the door at the top of the stairs as she goes.
“Neither will you,” he says, unflinching under her glare and snarl. “I promise you.”
“Think your little purse dog of a boyfriend is going to save you?” She laughs cruelly and Stiles doesn’t even have to guess who she means. “He isn’t going to save you, Stiles. None of them can, they are going to get here and find quite the surprise waiting for them.”
“What do you mean?” Stiles doesn’t try to cover up his utter confusion, hoping amping up the clueless angle will get her to spout off. She had a superiority complex a mile wide and Stiles wasn’t above exploiting it.
“Well, we have a few more than I think the Hales are counting on,” she places her hands over her hips and leans over him menacingly.
“Who would help you? No one would willingly-” Stiles stops and thinks for a moment. The Alpha pack were resourceful, he would give them that. Clever in ways that made them so dangerous, bending pack law. It’s what got him into this whole ordeal to begin with. “You coersived some unfortunate pack into helping you.”
“What can I say, Duke can be convincing.” Stiles wants to slap the smug smile off her face but as if knowing his intent his magic pulses pitifully under his skin, as if reminding him how powerless he truly is right now. Kali turns to leave but stops at the door and looks back.
“The Hales are going to come marching over to save you and they won’t succeed. I hope you know that that’s on you.” The door slams and Stiles lets his shoulders fall from where he had lifted them, trying to look strong and sure despite the chains and his prone position on the floor having to look up to stare Kali down. He doesn’t cry, can’t trust that no one can hear him.
“Where’s my dad?” Connor finds Derek in the library just an hour after Derek returns from the store. His chest aches and his fingers feel restless so he’s been clenching and releasing them while he tells his alpha about what he knows from the store.
Lydia returns from her parents in a rush and she and Cora had just left to go wait for the tow truck that will take Stiles’ Jeep back to his father’s house. Peter, Laura, Andrew and Derek’s dad had been sent out to try and find a scent trail while Aunt Diana is sent to check on the Sheriff at work and bring him to the Hale House.
The house was buzzing with the pups’ confused distress and Derek was in charge of keeping them in check while his mother called Deaton.
Derek looks up to find Connor standing in front of him, eyebrows furrowed but gaze determined. His shoulders pulled back almost comically and feet planted in front of where Derek sat in the armchair, elbows on his knees. Derek takes a deep breath but can’t quite find it in him to sit up all the way yet, the sharp feeling of being utterly gutted still fresh especially in the face of Stiles’ kid.
“I don’t know, kiddo.” Connor kind of deflates, eyes widening like he had truly believed Derek would have all the answers. “I’m so sorry.” Derek reaches forward, arms open and Connor rushes forward to hug him. He presses him close and lets him scent into his shirt, Stiles’ scent likely lingering from the work they did that morning in the garden, sitting so close.
“They got him, didn’t they? The bad alphas?” Derek holds on just that much tighter. He should have known Stiles wouldn’t hide something like that from Connor. He never asked, never wanting to offend Stiles or make him think he was questioning his parenting but he should have known that Stiles wasn’t going to hide the situation from Connor.
“Yeah, they did,” Derek sighs. He had hoped letting go of the breath he had held onto would make him feel a least a bit better, not relieved but better. It just made his chest feel more hollow. “But I’m going to get him back.”
Connor pulls back and looks him in the eye. He’s never see eyes quite this dark, fathomless and deep, looking far too old for a seven year old. “You promise?”
Talia sits behind her grand oak desk and folds her hands in her lap. She has never truly enjoyed the silence that comes with being in her office with the door firmly shut. She had a habit of keeping the door cracked to listen to Samuel putter around the house, or her children bicker and the grandchildren play. She liked being reminded of the life that the home held and the comfort that came with hearing her pack all around her. But there were times where the silence was necessary.
She would not subject those she loved to the painful truths of being Alpha. It still made her ache every time Laura got that sad and lost look in her eye as the full reality of her future position was revealed. Hell, it was hard enough burdening her brother with the weight of the decisions that had to be made, let alone her children. Leadership and power came with a heavy toll, and few could remain as steady as she for so long.
She looked around the room, stopping when her gaze landed on the territory map she had framed from where Deaton had last scryed for the borders, after Lacy was born. The lines were heavy and solid, strong and near impenetrable to a direct attack on any one of her pack but the magic had yet to adhere to the wishes of Talia’s heart and protecting Stiles. The alpha pack would not have been able to even enter the land with their plans to take him if only pack magic had accepted him sooner. Now, with him lost beyond her borders, she could feel him like a tugging string in her chest, yearning for her to protect him.
I’m so sorry, Claudia. She, closed her eyes and felt her lip tremble but held back the tears burning in her eyes. It looks as though I’ve failed you .
Knock, knock, knock.
Talia stands from her desk and heads for the door, swallowing down the lump in her throat and rolling out the tension in her shoulders as best she can. She opens the door and finds the familiar face of John but he looks so lost, so pained that Talia feels herself yanked into the past when Claudia was sick and he begged her for something, anything she could do to save his wife.
“Talia, where’s my son?” He asks her, voice steady but she feels the fear in his trembling string in her chest.
“Come in, Janusz.” She leads him inside, ignoring her desk chair in favor of the armchair next to John’s when he shuts the door behind him and sits. There’s a moment of silence between them before Talia speaks again - “I’m sorry, but the bond had not yet been solidified and the wards did not protect him. He was pack to me but there were things we could have done to speed along the process but I didn’t think -”
“Talia.” He places a warm hand on her forearm and she looks up to meet his eyes. “This isn’t your fault, I don’t blame you,” he swallows thickly, “Claudia- she- she wouldn’t blame you either.”
“But I could have done more ,” she presses, leaning forward with wide eyes, the tears threatening to fall once more.
“So could I. So could anyone of the pack. There are a million things we could have done differently but that isn’t the point. Now, we just have to focus on getting him back.” And as if summoned like the demons they are known to be, the phone on her desk rings and Talia knows without a doubt it’s Deucalion.
She stands from her seat and feels John’s hand squeeze hers before letting her go as she walks towards it, taking a deep breath before picking up the receiver.
“Good evening, Alpha Hale.”
“I believe you have something of ours,” the voice is just as she remembers from so many years ago. It was nearly two decades now, before Cora was born, at a conference for the alphas of the Pacific Coast and surrounding regions.
Deucalion had been new then, having abruptly come to power after the death of his father. Few people were happy to see the man rise up in rank, even fewer ready to acknowledge his ascension as purely natural but none were willing to question him. There were whispers when he was announced the previous Alpha Adamos’ successor, whispers of black magic and blood work and shadowy deeds. Deucalion was known for his curiosity with the alpha power and the limits to which it could be taken. No one knew at the time his plans to test those limits.
It was just a few years after that conference that word came about of Deucalion's crimes. The slaughtering of his pack fresh and painful for all those that knew them. Talia had been outraged, still considered a rather young alpha and often questioned but no one dared stop her on her warpath to end a man willing to commit such atrocities.
One of her greatest regrets in life was sparing him. She had had the perfect opportunity to slay the monster before it could truly rear its head but she took mercy on him and it haunted her frequently. She left him blinded and snivelling, left to her righteously furious face to remember her by as she turned and let him bleed. Now, here he was, as if to metaphorically stand over her and try to crush her like she had nearly done over a decade ago.
“I could say the same for you,” she spoke, voice steady and calm. Her heart beating painfully but at the easy pace she had trained herself to keep in times of crisis.
“The Spark? Now, now, Talia. You know the little magic user is ours by right. All we ask is that you hand over our pup as well and we can forgive you for harbouring our fugitive.” And this is where the lines would be drawn.
It was technically true that Stiles would lawfully belong to the Alpha Pack to serve justice to for stealing their pup, and Talia is currently in the wrong by allowing him to hide in her territory. Not to mention still keeping their pup from them. If she refused to return Connor or demand they give Stiles back it was a declaration of war.
“We both know that won’t happen,” Talia tells him firmly. If she was to go to war, she would do it with her spine intact. “Is Stiles still alive?” She hears John’s heart rate spike behind her but dares not look.
“I would say so, he’s certainly still mouthy for a captive.” Talia hears shuffling over the line and listens as a new heart beat, thready and thin, makes it over the line to her ear before she hears-
“Fuck off, I’m a perfectly pleasant captive-” the sentence brought to a halt by a solid thump and a small groan in response.
“Well, be a good boy and talk to Alpha Hale.”
“Mrs. Hal- Talia? Hey so, just- take care of them okay? Please, I just, I need them to be okay, that’s all and tell them I-” another, harder, thump and Stiles goes quiet with a wheeze.
“He’s alive, Talia, but is the safety of your pack worth one little Spark? Are you willing to go to war where I am the rightful victor?” Talia closes her eyes, knows what’s to be done even as her instincts tug her in different directions.
“Where are you, Deucalion?”
“If you cross over your border, it will be war.”
“Then I hope you are prepared when I arrive.”
Stiles’ spine aches from where the nubs of bone are pressed against the stone wall behind him. His right leg feels static in that way that means he should probably shake it out but it feels like too much effort right now. His eye is swollen and there are various bruises blooming across his body and the copper taste has fade to the back of his conscious after the fifth time he forgot and liked over it, opening the cut all over again.
This isn’t as bad as it could be. Surely, he could be dead right now, that had been what kali told him she wanted and yet here he is still breathing. The bruises aren’t too deep and so far all his bones are all intact, other than a few ribs that feel tender to gentle prodding. But his mind is racing with too many thoughts, too many outcomes and not enough ways for him to change any of the bad ones which far outweigh the good.
The Hale pack is coming.
The Hale pack - Derek - is coming and Stiles couldn’t imagine anything worse. They would be walking into a trap and Stiles was at the center of it, bait that they couldn’t ignore because wolves were loyal if nothing else.
He had to do something, something, something. He rocked forward and back and a snarky voice told him he looked crazy but he couldn’t care right now he needed to move, to think . He was trapped here, shackled to the ground in magic dampening cuffs, in a basement. Likely far from the safety of the Hale borders. He could feel the lines in the land calling him back, wanting to bring him back to the comfort of territory he belongs in. He isn’t there, he’s trapped here and isolated and injured and weak and-
He bites his lip hard, tugging at his hair to forcibly yank himself from that line of thought. He can’t afford to panic, not here, not now.
He breathes through the dark swirling cloud in his mind and tries to think again.
The shackles have now warmed against his skin, and if not for the weight he may not have remembered them constantly. His magic still hums under his skin but no matter how hard he tries, he can’t even manage to light the tip of his finger on fire. If anything he just exhausts himself further. He tries other things - levitating objects around the room, turning off the lightbulb above his head, even just swirling the dust in the corner of the room.
He falls back against the wall behind him gasping after having tried lifting his shoe lace for over ten minutes. He wanted to cry. He was exhausted and frustrated and it was starting to feel hopeless. There was nothing he could do, he was stuck here and all he was capable of was waiting for disaster and hoping for a miracle to get him out of here.
He drags his hand across the ground, mindless and tired but snatches it back when he feel the skin catch and tear against something sharp. He looks down and see the blood well up in the shallow scrape and frowned, cataloguing it as just another injury. He thought of his babcia and all the time they spent together and how often she used to scoff with how frequently Stiles managed to injure himself.
“Głupi chłopcze, jak przeżyłeś tak długo?” (Silly boy. How have you survived this long?)
He remembers her tsking and motherhening when he would wave her off and pretend various injuries didn’t hurt. Like a cartoon, the lightbulb flicks on over his head. He focuses on this one cut on his hand, thinks of the skin and the pain and seeing it knit back together. He opens his eyes and watches with bated breath as the skin pulls back together so the only evidence of the cut is the blood it left behind.
Maybe there was more than just waiting he can do.
“Derek,” he looks up from the maps he has laid out across the dining room table and sees his mother in the doorway from the livingroom. “It’s late.” Derek resists the urge to roll his eyes like he did with Laura just an hour ago.
“I realize that, Mom.” He looks back down at the map and continues to scour the lands surrounding the dot Deaton scyred into the paper earlier that evening. The alpha pack was in a dense area of woods just beyond the Hale borders, with a mountain ridge behind them. It made an attack from behind nearly impossible but it also meant they could close them off at the sides if necessary.
“You need to rest,” his mother continues, stepping further into the room. She comes and stands by his side, placing a gentle hand on his hunched shoulder. His eyes had dried at one point when he had found himself spacing out. He had cursed himself for wasting time and rubbed his eyes viciously. That’s how Laura had found him, all concerned Hale eyebrows and sisterly pushiness.
“We need to get Stiles back,” Derek huffed, pushing the maps around and grabbing for an old tome with the tactics used by his ancestors. Wolves weren’t known for it, but the were tactical in their fights with formations and rudimentary plans. Werewolves had history and war. Territory wars and battles of honor and retaliation, Derek’s job was to know these things and assist Laura if she ever found herself in that kind of situation.
“The time will come, but now you need to rest and be prepared for when we go get him. You are no good to him if you’re dead on your feet,” She closes the book he has open and he catches himself before the growl can build in his throat. That’s when he accepts she may be right. “If you don’t sleep, I will deman you stay here.”
“Exactly. I am your mother. Go to bed.” She lifts one well manicured eyebrow and he finds himself deflating just like that. He nods and closes the rest of the books he pulled from the library and clicks off the lamp his brought into the dining room when the pups in the parlor room complained about the overhead light being on.
“He’s important to you, that’s plain to see,” she says as he turns back to face her. “Now, it’s time you think on exactly what that means to you, for both of you.”
“Of course, honey.” He moves forward, wrapping his mother in a hug and burying his face into the comforting scent. When they part, Derek heads upstairs and to his childhood bedroom. He falls into his bed and shucks off his jeans but doesn’t care to bother with the rest. Now, with his head on the pillow and the quarter moon’s light spilling through his window he feels sleep call to him.
He’s pulling weeds up, using his claws to dig into the dirt and uncover the roots as he goes. The gerber daisies are lovely this time of year and his mother had been worried they would die before the season was even half over. He takes his time and no matter how long he sits here, the shadows cast by the sun never move.
“Holy shit, I did it.”
Derek looks up and finds a figure next to him, standing tall and staring down at their own hands. He has six fingers, twelve in total and that itches at something in Derek’s mind but he doesn’t know why.
“Derek?” The figure’s face is shadowed with the soft, warm light casting a halo around his wild hair. He recognizes the voice but everything is slow and he can’t place the name.
“Yes? Who are you?” The figure drops to his knees next to Derek in the dirt and his face is revealed. Derek smiles when he finds Stiles staring back at him. His eyes are all wrong though, crinkled in worry, mouth tilted down and a crease forming between his eyebrows. Derek always thought the arch of his eyebrows is what gave him that impish look, like he knew more secret than you and he knew it, too.
“It’s me, big guy. Do you normally dream about gardening?” Stiles asks in a failed attempt at a joke with how tense his voice is. He flickers for a moment like an unsteady image and Derek frowns.
“You look upset. What’s wrong?” He drops the clump of weeds he had previously been holding and brings up his hand to cup Stiles’ worried face. Stiles’ eyes widen, softening with the gesture and Derek’s smile returns. He strokes his thumb over the sharp cheekbone and he knows, somewhere deep in his mind there should be a smear of dirt there no but he doesn’t bother himself for very long with the thought. Stiles shakes his head, flickering again and cursing under his breath.
“Focus, Derek. I can’t keep this up too much longer, I’m surprised our connection is even strong enough to do this.” Stiles’ voice is shaky, and he licks his lips nervously.
“What do you mean?”
“Now’s not the time, I need to tell you something, okay?” Stiles’ hand comes up and presses against the one Derek still has on the younger man’s cheek.
“Of course, I’m listening.”
“The alphas aren’t alone,” Derek jerks back, affronted with the words. They feel harsh and grating and Stiles flickers dangerously in front of him. “Derek, no! Focus on me.” Stiles other hand comes up and clutches at his forearm. Derek does as he’s told, looking over Stiles’ face and doing his best to focus on him. He takes in the constellation moles and the warm skin under his palm. He doesn’t notice the trees and backyard of him fading as his focus narrows to the man in front of him.
“This isn’t going to be fun to hear, but you have to listen to me, okay? Listen to me and remember .” Derek nods but Stiles is still staring at him expectantly.
“I promise, I’ll remember.” Stiles smiles softly, looking relieved if not still tense.
“The alphas, they aren’t alone, okay? They have another pack with them. I don’t know who but you can’t go in thinking it’s just the five of them.” Derek nods along and does his best not to flinch away. “You have to be smart about this, you can’t just over power them. I know you can do this, Derek. I believe in you.” Stiles starts to flicker again, here and gone been blinks and Derek starts to panic.
“Wait, what’s happening, where are you going?”
“I can’t keep the link going forever, it’s a temporary thing for people who aren’t bonded, it- well, it doesn’t matter right now. Just remember what I told you.” Stiles flickers once, gone longer than the last two times before he returns. When he blinks back into existence in front of him again, Derek doesn’t waste a second.
He darts forward and presses his lips to Stiles’. It’s gentle and chaste, just a dry brush of desperate lips before he pulls back. Stiles’ wide eyed gaze and rosy blush is the last Derek sees before Stiles is gone and Derek knows he won’t be coming back.
Derek gasps awake, sitting upright and clutching at his chest where he feels a foreign tug. He needs to get Stiles back.
Well friends, I'll let you sit on that for a week. Hope you liked it! Check me out on Tumblr!!
Chapter 7: Howls in the Air
So I am sooooo sorry this update is so late but I suck at battle sequences and I felt really stuck on how I wanted to handle it but here we are. I'm still not totally satisfied with how it happened but I'm tired of delaying it. I hope you enjoy it and thank you thank you thank you for sticking around!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I’ve been looking it over and I think if we use a pincer maneuver, we can overwhelm them.” Derek explains, pointing to the maps spread across the tabletop as the adult pack members lean in and listen. “They’re currently backed up against a ridge that I assume they’re using as a defense to keep them protected in the rear.”
“There’s a decent size outcropping along that ridge. They might position someone there to jump as an attack from above if we get in range,” Peter adds, pointing to a particular spot on a topographic map. Talia hums along as she listens, Laura standing back to her right.
“But that’s a one time assault tactic,” Samuel adds, frowning down at the maps as well, arm around Talia’s waist. “Would they risk the waste of manpower on something that might not work?”
“It’s possible if they take out someone like Talia by doing it. It would cut out our strongest player and runs the possibility of the rest of us scattering in distress of our alpha.” Peter looks grim as he explains.
“There are these small mounds that some of us can hide behind while the rest of us take on the frontal assault,” Derek points to small indications of incline near the dot that is the alphas hideout. Where Stiles is. “That first group’s job is just to hold out until the alphas start to tire and hopefully get a little over confident then the group in hiding will come out and close in behind them.”
“I knew that Nordic tactic and strategy book was a good gift idea,” Aunt Sara smiles at him. He smiles sheepishly at her. He did take this idea directly from that book about the Vikings and how they destroyed the English with this very concept.
“But surely there aren’t enough of us to split up,” Uncle Robert says with an apologetic but concerned look on his face. “There’s fourteen of us if we decide to bring Lydia and Sheriff Stilinski and we have to assume the Alpha pack knows that. They aren’t going to fall for something like this.” Derek dips his head, having already thought of that but hadn’t been able to find any solutions or viable alternatives.
“I have that covered,” Talia speaks up. “It came to light earlier this morning that we are not facing just the alpha pack.” The room burst into a small cacophony of noise before Talia brings them back. “This has come from a trusted resource and I responded to it. I called in the help of the Argents. Victoria has agreed that the alpha pack is an evil to us both and she, her husband and their daughter Allison are going to join us later this evening to finalize our plans.”
“The Argents, sister, really?” Peter scoffs, crossing his arm over his chest. Derek scented not only anger and discomfort but just the slightest tinge of betrayal that got Derek’s mind whirring with what history Uncle Peter might have with the Argents.
“A necessary evil, I assure you,” Talia consoles, gently placing a hand on her brother’s arm. Derek watches them for a moment longer before continuing, saving the story there for another time.
“So we have some reinforcements, so do they. What are the numbers?” Aunt Diana leans forward, leaning her elbows on the table in front of her. She was a strong woman, and wicked smart, a perfect mate for Peter who needed an intelligent counter balance and someone to bounce ideas off of in his position of second to Talia.
“There are five alphas that we know of - Deucalion, Kali, Ennis, and the twins Ethan and Aiden. We also know they have recruited the help of the Hughes pack. There’s eight of them in fighting condition. That gives us the number advantage but they have the upper hand in power.” Derek nods, looking over his maps when Laura clears her throat.
“I, uh, I need to make an announcement.” She’s fidgeting with her hands, tugging at the hem of her sweater before laying a soft hand over her stomach.
“Laura.” Andrew’s eyes are wide as he steps in close and reaches out to touch. Laura smiles with misty eyes and nods.
“Congratulation, niece.” Peter looks over to her and smiles, starting the rounds of the rest of the pack expressing their joy. But just as he started it Peter brings them back to where they need to focus. “Unfortunately that takes our number down to 13 and we are now even with the alpha pack.”
Silence descends over the room. Even the minor advantage of having one extra pack member made the battle before them look better, but now that chance and light ahead is dimming.
“We’ll have to make freeing Stiles a priority,” Derek says, voice firm but inner confidence wavering. He’s never had to take command like this, do the actual planning and make these decisions. He’s always been a second pair of eyes for Peter, looking over his plans and analyzing for flaws but now he’s been tasked with this battle and he worries that his emotions may be getting in the way.
“We know you favor the Spark, Derek-”
“No,” Talia raises her hand to silence her brother, “Let him explain, then we’ll discuss.” She looks to Derek with soft, mothering eyes and gestures for him to continue.
“If we complete the maneuver, or at least make sure that it keeps them busy, someone can go get Stiles, release him and he can give us the edge we need.” He nearly shrugs like the punctuation of the sentence but holds back, knowing he needs to stand firm in his stance. “He’s the Czerwona Iskra. He’s powerful and, and he wants this to be over, I know it.” Derek thinks back to his time talking with Stiles for the few days he had spent at the Hale House.
“He would do it for Connor,” Peter acquiesced with a nod but Derek shakes his head.
“He would do it for all of us.” Peter looks up to meet his eyes and smiles, nodding but the weight in his shoulders seems like less.
“You really think he can finish this? He can stop the alpha pack?” Cora looks up at her big brother, arms crossed over her chest, forehead creased with stress and worry.
“I do,” Derek assures her.
“Then we better starting planning the specifics,” Aunt Sara says, leaning over the table with grim determination.
At first he thinks the howls are some kind of strange hallucination.
He lost track of how many days he had been in the chains, the ache of his trapped magic gnawing deeper and deeper in to his bones. Kali comes and goes, sometimes with granola bars and water but more often with that cruel glint in her eyes. He’s grown so terribly tired and his hands have stopped shaking and his head feels too heavy as it pounds with dehydration. He hadn’t realized how deep in a fog he had been until the howls light up through the air.
For a moment, Stiles is sure that he has finally cracked. That his mind has finally given up and is trying to comfort him with dreams of wolves and rescue. The hope flickers in his chest and he thinks to stamp it out, to not let himself give in to the delusions. But then he hears the return of the battle cry, the howls of the Alphas and the Hughes pack cutting jaggedly through the night and that spark in his chest fans to a flame.
“Derek!” The name rips through him without a thought. It ends in a hacking cough but he doesn’t let it stop him for long, “Derek!” The coughs over take him again and the jolts of his beaten and weak body tip him over. He can’t manage to push himself back up so he lies there with his cheek pressed to the cold, grimey ground, eyes falling closed for longer and longer without his permission. There’s a small window on the far wall, cracked open after Kali complained about his “stench” a few beatings ago. He listens to the thrashing of bodies and snarls of a fight.
He’s not sure how long he lays there, coughs slowly dying as his vision swims before him. It could be two minutes or twenty years before the deafening crash turns Stiles’ gaze to the door at the top of the stairs. Well, where there used to be a door. Now, there’s just theatrical beams of light and swirling dust motes around a huffing and furry figure in the doorway.
“Stiles!” The figure rushes down the steps and Stiles makes a noise of protest, worried that possibly Derek would fall. As the figure approaches more and more of him comes into focus. First it’s the eyebrows and the wild mane of dark hair, but soon Stiles can make out the sharp line of his jaw and the color of his eyes.
“You have really pretty eyes, ya know,” Stiles slurs, mouth not quite working right with the split lip and the bruising across his right cheek. Derek laughs but the crease between his brows doesn’t let up and Stiles reaches up to smooth it out. But before he gets very far a strike of pain flashes up his arm causing him to cry out.
“Stiles!” Stiles thinks maybe he would like the sound of his name coming across Derek’s lips, so full of concern and heavy with meaning if he weren’t so concerned with the way his wrist feels like it’s on fire. Derek carefully makes a grab for Stiles’ arm and suddenly the pain is infinitely less and leaking away bit by bit.
“Woah, I forgot about that,” Stiles sighs as the tension in his body slips away like water off of wax paper. He feels so relaxed that his muscles sort of just, give out and Derek is the only thing keeping him from toppling over once more. Stiles lets his head lull against Derek’s solid chest, his steady heartbeat under his ear, feeling safe even as the sounds of battle continue outside. But he can’t concentrate on that when he sees one of Kali’s rather brutal scratches on his forearm close before his eyes.
He looks up at Derek with wide eyes, the werewolf who is still draining pain as evident by the lines of black snaking up his arms but Stiles doesn’t feel anything anymore. The man holding him up looks just as surprised.
“Oh we are so talking about this later,” Stiles breathes as he feels other hurts mend themselves across his body. Derek nods but a vicious roar that even Stiles can hear cuts through the moment and Derek starts to help Stiles stand.
“We have to get you out of these cuffs,” Derek says once he’s finally on his feet.
“Kali kept the key over there,” Stiles says, pointing to the row of counters just out of reach of the chains that held him. Derek looks down to his bindings and seems to understand the alpha’s cruel joke of leaving Stiles’ freedom just a few feet from where he lay trapped. Stiles directs him to the right drawer and holds his breath as Derek inserts the key. Derek wastes no time turning it and with an absurdly loud SNAP the cuffs fall from his wrists.
His magic surges through him like a tidal wave and for the first time in a long time he feels out of control. The power pulses under his skin and his eyes glow white behind his eyelids scrunched shut. He hunches over and takes in shallow, shuddering breaths as the air around him crackles with energy.
“Stiles,” Derek’s voice drifts to him through the chaos of his mind. “Stiles, you have to breathe, okay? Just try and breathe.” Stiles wants to smack him upside the head with one of his cuffs but his body isn’t in his control. He’s trying , really he is but his lungs won’t inflate and his mind is buzzing with so much power he feels like a nuclear power plant in melt down.
“Okay, just, don’t hurt me for this,” Derek says and then Stiles feels hands on his face, cupping his jaw so gently before there’s kaleidoscope eyes before he can’t see much of anything. There’s soft, soft lips against his and his eyes fall shut and his mind goes blissfully blank. Derek pulls away first, eyes a bit glazed but smiling and Stiles smiles back feeling the power under his skin hum, pleasantly controlled.
“We are talking about that , too.” Derek nods but before he can say anything else a howl from outside catches their attention.
“You have to help us. We’re too evenly matched and I don’t think we can keep this up much longer,” Derek tells him, eyebrows creased as he looks out towards the tiny window above them.
“Of course, Derek,” Stiles assures, reaching out and taking the werewolf’s hand in his own. “Are you ready?” Derek nods and Stiles squares his shoulders. When they leave this room, they leave for battle and there may be no coming back.
They take the stairs two at a time and Derek leads him through the the house above and out into the front yard. Stiles halts on the front porch and takes in the war before him. Everywhere he looks he sees wolves locked in fights that have no clear winner. Andrew takes on one of the Hughes betas, Cora coming to his aid as she puts down another. He sees Peter roar at Ennis, lunging forward with claws extended. Derek’s aunt Sara and uncle Robert take on the twins and Jackson tackles one of the Hughes before he can take them by surprise.
In the farthest corner of the clearing he watches Talia Hale take on Deucalion, eyes blazing as they fight toe to toe. Stiles watches as Derek takes off to protect Allison Argent while she fires arrow after arrow into the fray counterpoint to her father and Stiles’ dad on the other side of the field shooting where they can.
It’s all so much and there’s too much, too many fights going on and there’s nothing Stiles can do. He feels his mind swim with useless ideas because none of them can save them all, there’s nothing he can do to help everyone he loves and sees on the field. His heart pounds and his fingers spark in agitation as his lungs start to struggle with bringing in air. He watches, frozen as the battles continue and flounders for an answer.
The great Czerwona Iskra, scared and utterly helpless .
He is Czerwona Iskra. The Red Spark. He is one of the most powerful magic users in the Americas and he has helped thousands of people, hundreds of packs, and there is an endless list of people alive today because he had the knowledge and power and courage to save them. He was here to continue that list.
He flicks his wrist, lifting a tree by the roots from the ground and with another swipe of his hand two of the Hughes betas are swept away. They fly through the forest with a crack as they hit trees and slide to the ground. He looks around and sees that he’s caught some attention, the alphas switching their objective mark to him all around the clearing leaving the Hales to battle the Hughes. He lets his eyes glow their eerie white and lets them approach for a few more moments.
He waits until Ennis is within his desired range, closing the few dozen yards between them into just few feet before smiling. The man growls and pushes forward into a lunge, arms outstretched. Stiles raises a hand and whispers in a harsh tongue the ancient Celtic he was taught and a large ball of light bursts from his palm. The ball hits Ennis square in the chest, knocking him back as blue spiraling tendrils wrap around him and squeeze as the man struggles. He’s sure the enhanced ears can hear the way his ribs snap even over his howls of pain.
Stiles doesn’t let himself get too comfortable with that first victory but looks forward to the twins who, having paused to watch Ennis fail, have decided to charge forward even as Ennis convulses on the ground. Stiles turns to them, watching as they try to form into the mega wolf but doesn’t wait for them to finish. As they morph together, Stiles weaves a spell with his fingers through the air and watch as the magic materializes in strands of light. The last of the transformation completes and Stiles doesn’t let them move a single step forward before firing the spell.
The twins are forcefully ripped apart, landing gasping on the ground and clutching at the large rips in their abdomens. Stiles waves his hands and tosses the teen alphas into the distance. He will deal with them later.
He watches as the twin fall in the far east side of the clearing and nearly misses how Kali approaches from the side, slowly and just out of his range of vision. His magic buzzes angrily under his skin and he turns to his left just in time to dodge as Kali launches herself forward, claws out and eyes fiery red. She rolls as she lands and spin to face him, growling low in her throat. He hears his father shout and sees Derek stepping forward from where the Hales have gathered to watch Stiles, the Hughes all scattered across the the clearing.
“No!” He shouts, holding up a hand and sending up a barrier between himself and Kali and the rest of the pack. “This is my fight.” He keeps his eyes on Kali, “For my son.” She snarls and lunges again.
He throws out a hand and a ball of light flies out, scraping past Kali’s arm. She swipes forward with her other hand and nicks the sleeve of Stiles’ shirt. He steps back and shoots out a bolt of blue that hits her in the knee before she can roll away causing her to cry out. From down low she lunges forward again but Stiles leaps out of the way but she uses the movement to twist in the air and slash across his shoulder blades. The pain flashes through him and in the distance he hears Derek call for him.
He darts away, narrowly avoiding another attack from behind before twisting around and throwing out both of his hands. The energy is a steady beam that blasts Kali off her feet and throws her against the invisible barrier. She sags as he drops her dead weight. He moves towards her, wary and in pain but ready to be done.
He gets close and leans forward, hands ready to restrain her when everything moves all at once. Kali’s eyes open. Stiles flinches back, off balance. Kali swipes out, dropping Stiles to his back next to her. Stiles loses his breath as Kali swings up and over him, clawed hand poised above him. The Hale pack cry out. Stiles lifts the hand Kali hadn’t managed to pin.
There’s a flash of darkness, as if for just a moment the world loses all its light and when it returns, Kali is ten feet away. She’s sprawled out like a broken doll, blood dripping from her nose as her eyes stare sightlessly up at the sky.
“Sios,” Stiles breathes out, letting the barrier drop. He’s not surprised that Derek is the first one to get to him, dropping to his knees at his side. He has a moment to appreciate the concern and awe in the werewolf’s eyes before promptly passing out.
Find me on Tumblr! :)