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Red's Rebirth *Currently on Hold*

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Mój najdroższy Mieczysława,

    If you are reading this then I must beg your forgiveness because it means that I am not there to help you through what lies ahead. You see, I had a plan, and in this plan I was going to be able to take my time in passing on all my knowledge, to guide you through each moment, and cheer you on as you grew. Unfortunately, fate had a different plan that won out over mine.

    Your father and I fought long and hard over how you were going to be raised when you were a baby. I know he wanted to protect you because of what he saw me go through. I loved him even more because of that. Remember that he will always be there to help you the best that he can.

    Now that I have said that, let me begin.

    Do you remember my version of Little Red? Do you remember why I taught it to you? Well I must admit that I was not being entirely truthful. It wasn’t just to teach you about werewolves, though that was an important part. That version has been passed down generation to generation, through the women of our line, so that we may never forget the truth of our origins. You see, my darling girl, we are the descendants of Red and you are the last.

    Since our ancestor first befriended the wolf pack each generation has done the same, sometimes staying with the pack we were born into and sometimes being drawn away to find a new one of our own. We are drawn to them and they are drawn to us. Your pra babcia once told me it was because of the krew wilka in our veins.

    We serve a very important role for the pack, kochanie. We serve as guardians, advisors, and healers. We are the first line of defense against hunters and we help the lost find a home. Yes, the packs have an emissary and I respect them highly, but a druid’s job is to maintain balance. They can only do so much. Our limits are only our loyalty and our imagination.

    Inside the box I have left everything you need to begin your training so that you can take my place amongst the Hale pack. Knowing Talia she has already begun your training but under a different pretense. The book contains all of our family’s knowledge of herbs and how to harness your magic, your iskra. Deaton will be a great help and resource for that. The two keys will give you access to all of my supplies. Your father knows where to find them.

    I warn you, Mieczsława, the life of a Red is not easy or something to go into half heartedly. You will be put in harm's way. You will be hunted, just as your pack. The pack depends on us and must be able to count on us in a moment’s notice. The pack will also be there for you, to support you, protect you. They are your family as much as your father and I. Treat them as such.

    I love you kochanie and I hope that at the end you never forgot that. Remember: Ciemność nie trwa wiecznie.

Forever yours,

Mom

 

    Stiles was crying by the time she reached the end of the letter. She furiously wiped her face, trying to keep the tears from hitting the paper. Her mother was still taking care of her, still guiding her, still there. Yes, she was close to her father, but her relationship with her mother had been so much more. She got her in a way that no one else ever did.

    There was also a deeper sense of heartbreak with the letter as well. Talia Hale, Alpha of the Hale Pack, best friend of Claudia Stilinski, and should have been mentor to Stiles, had been killed six years ago in a fire that wiped out the majority of the Hale Pack. Stiles had spent the majority of the first eight years of her life out at the Hale house, being raised and spoiled by the pack and even called Talia her aunt. She still took flowers to their graves every year.

    Once she managed to get herself calmed down she finally opened the package. The box was beautiful carved with intricate designs, worn on some edges from years of use, and well taken care of. On the lid was a large tree whose branches stretched across the top and wrapped down onto the back and sides. The trunk took up the majority of the lid and it’s roots did the same at the front of the box as the branches did the back. The roots and branches actually met along the sides and seemed to twist together. The four moon phases were set into each corner and a wolf pack ran along the front side amongst the roots. She could also see where different flowers and vines seemed to twist and twine around the tree trunk. She let her fingers trail across the running pack and felt goosebumps raise on her arms. This had belonged to her mother, but not just her mother. This had been passed down through her family. That thought made her pause.

    Red had been real. She’d been told the story was true but she always thought it was just because of the werewolves, but no. Little Red was real and that was her ancestor. She was a descendant of Red and they were always with wolf packs. Stiles let the box rest in her lap as she thought back to interactions between her mom and Talia, between herself and the pack once she had known the truth.

    Talia always listened when Claudia spoke, never dismissed her opinion, unlike with Deaton, It was obvious Talia respected the man, but she never had issues ignoring his thoughts. Claudia always listened to Talia as well. She remembered they always sat opposite each other, with her between them. It kind of made sense in a way. It allowed for both to see what could be coming up behind them and kept her, a child, protected. Talia would always make sure to touch them both when they met up and when they parted. The term scent-marking stuck out in her mind and she wondered if her mother had told her that’s what it was.

    The Stilinski’s were always being invited to Hale family gatherings and she can’t ever recall seeing Deaton there. Claudia and Stiles would be greeted with open arms and every Hale always made sure to touch and hug them. Her father was welcome but he tended to be greeted with just a hug from Talia and her brood and a few handshakes from others. Her mom told her once that he just wasn’t as close, but they did like and respect him. After greeting everyone, her mother would always stay on the outskirts of the gathering, the better to watch she said. It all made sense.

    The hady been family, had helped her and her father when they lost Claudia. The Hale family had stood as a shield against the world for the funeral, each member mourning in their own way but standing as support for her husband and daughter. Many times Talia and had brought them food, had held Stiles as she cried. Laura would sometimes pick her up from school, always seeming to know when she couldn’t handle the crowded bus. Derek would help her climb trees out on the Preserve and listen as she chattered on and on when the silence got to be too much. He was also there for the first panic attack. Cora got in trouble for beating up another kid who said her mom left because Stiles was a bad kid. There was no pack, no family, anymore. Laura and Derek hadn’t been seen or heard from since the fire and she didn’t blame them. It made the sense of loss even greater now.

    Stiles shifted off her bed and set the box onto her desk. It was time to see what her mother left behind. Deaton and her father could train her. Then she could find out why this new alpha and the Argents were here. She bit her lip and her fingers shook as she went to open the box… and nothing happened. The box wouldn’t open. She looked all over just to make sure it didn’t need a key. Nope, nothing. She couldn’t even see the hinges to make sure they weren’t rusted. How was she supposed to learn anything if she couldn’t even open the box? She examined the box over and over but couldn’t figure it out.

    A knock on her door startles her, making her jump. She sighs as she turned from the box and opens the door. Her dad stands on the other side dressed on a worn Beacon Hills Sheriff’s Department tee and sleep pants.

    “You okay?”

    “Yeah, just feel a little like I’m on a rollercoaster right now.” She steps back and motions for him to come in.

    “Understandable.” His blue gaze lands on the box on her desk and a wave of heartache washes over him. It was the same one Claudia had kept under the bed, the one he had been looking for. “You open it yet?”

    “No…” the one word sounds so pitiful. “I think it’s broken.” John couldn’t stop the soft chuckle. “It’s not funny!”

    “No, sweetheart, it isn’t. It just sounds so much like your mother to give you a box you can;t open.” He chuckles again and this time so does Stiles. It was true. Claudia always said nothing worth it would be easy.

    “You’re right. Mom would say I gave up too easily.” She took a deep breath. “Would it be cheating if I asked you for help?” This time her dad full on laughs.

    “Kid, I’ve never been able to open that box and unfortunately I never saw how she opened it either.” He pats her shoulder affectionately at her grumpy face. “It’s been an emotional and eventful day. How about you get some rest tonight and try again tomorrow?” She nods and he turns to leave the room.

    “Hey, dad…” When he turns to her he finds that she had grabbed the letter and is folding it back into its envelope. “Mom… mom talks about you, and uhm, and says there are some things you can help me with.” She holds the letter out to him. “If you want to read it… that’s okay with me.” A tear rolls down his cheek and he pulls his daughter into a bone crushing hug and feels her fingers grip his shirt tightly.

    “Thank you.”

 

    That night dreams that she is running through the Preserve. Her feet are bare as she races with all her might, hearing the sound of howling woods in her wake. She’s being chased but she can out run them, she’s done it before. She laughs as the howling gets closer. She makes it across the creek without slipping, the cold water freezing her toes, and then heads towards the house. She’s younger in her dream, with long-pigtails flowing behind her. Her bare knees are skinned and her shorts are covered in her dirt. She just needs to make it to the house and then she wins the game. She’s almost to the porch when the world spins and shifts around her.

    She’s still running but the sky is dark above her. She’s followed closely by a twisting mix of red, blue, and golden eyes. There are fairies and sprites among the trees, whispering terror and fear on the wind, and in the distance is an ancient oak surrounded by flame. She can hear the clash of metal on metal, the sounds of gunfire, and howls of anger and pain. One pained howl is close behind her and she glimpses back to see who it is but a voice urges her onward. When she looks back there stands her mother before the burning oak, he hand outstretched towards her. Claudia’s voice carries to her just as something knocks her to the ground and the old oak comes crashing to the ground.

    “Find them…”

 

    Stiles sits bolt upright in her bed, her heart racing and gasping for breath. It takes her a moment for her to gain her bearings and she turns off her alarm. She stares over at her desk, the box still sitting where she left it, and then just shakes her head. She won’t have time to try and figure it out this morning. With a groan she pushes herself out of bed and gets ready. She’s woken up early enough that she takes her time.

    The dream plays over and over in her mind. Was it just the influence of the letter? Or had the letter woken something inside her? Her mother said she had magic, called it a spark. Was she talking about the little tricks her mother had taught her? They way she had located Scott and Jackson and how she could read people so well? It it was just that then what would Deaton need to help her with? But what if it was more? And what if her dream was real? Maybe a genetic memory passed down from her ancestors? Or something yet to happen, a warning? Then in that case who was the ‘them’ that she was supposed to find?

     She starts telling herself to just let it go, because she just can’t keep up or her brain will explode. After her shower and getting dressed she stands staring at the box. Curiosity has always been her weakness and she seriously wants to find out what is in that box but school waits.

    Down stairs she finds a note from her dad on the fridge along with the letter from her mom. He thanks her for letting him read it and tells her that as soon as she opens the box he will show her where those keys go. That just strengthens her resolve to open it that afternoon. He also says she needs to talk to Scott and soon, which makes her bang her head against the fridge. It’s not like she knows how to prove it. She places both the note and the letter in her bag and heads for school.

    An idea comes to her on her way to school and she texts her dad asking him to meet her and Scott on the Preserve near the old Hale house… and to bring a tranquilizer gun just in case. The house is abandoned and the Preserve will give them plenty of privacy. Maybe her dad being there will help convince Scott that this isn’t a joke. She’s really wishing she knows some other werewolves. She gets to school and is changing out books when Scott arrives at her locker.

    “Hey, dude, I need your help to-”

    “I have a date!” All she can think is that he still reminds her of an over excited puppy, maybe even more so now.

    “Ok, cool. Still need your he-”

    “With Allison! This Friday!” Stiles really wants to slam her own head into her locker. Full moon date with a hunter… just great. Instead she puts a smile on her face.

    “Congrats, Scott, that’s pretty awesome.”

    “Isn’t it? She’s so pretty and caring and sweet. It’s probably the best thing to ever happen to me…” He trails off with a dreamy look on his face.

    “Good for you man, now can I please finish asking you for your help?” She waits for a response but Scott just stands there day dreaming. In her irritation she hits him upside the head with a notebook.

    “Dude!” Scott rubs at the back of his head while glaring at Stiles but she is glaring right back.

    “Pay attention asshole! It’s rude to ignore your best friend.”

    “Sorry, I was just thinking about Allison…”

    “Oh, I’m gonna puke…” She pinches the bridge of her nose and prays for patience. “I think I dropped your spare inhaler in the Preserve last night. I need you to go out there with me and look for it.”

    “But isn’t that a crime scene now?”

    “Nah, they’ve cleared it, so we’re good. You in?”

    “Yeah, right after practice.”

    “Awesome, now let’s get to class.”

 

    By the end of the day, Stiles’s nerves are frayed beyond belief. With the exception of a brief conversation on how the bite has healed, it has been nothing but Allison. Allison this, Allison that, Allison, Allison, Allison! She swears she doesn’t know whose brain she wants to bash in more, his or her own. She does know she is going to strangle him if he doesn’t tone it down on the field after this afternoon. Come on, asthmatic to gymnast overnight? Not likely. She ends up having to remind Scott three times about the missing inhaler and threaten to make him pay to replace it before they finally head out to the Preserve.

    “So why is your dad okay with us going out to the Preserve after the attack the other night? I mean, didn’t they determine it was an animal attack? Aren’t they worried about more?” Scott sounds a little nervous about going back out there but she doesn’t blame him.

    “Easy, Scottie. One, animal attacks aren’t actually that common, especially from mountain lions, which is what they think it was. They normally attack only because they feel threatened or are very, very, hungry and they think they found easy prey. Two, mountain lions are nocturnal, meaning daylight is good for us and why we need to hurry and look. Three, there are two of us. A mountain lion is less likely to try and attack if there is more than one person.”

    “Oh… so why did we get attacked?”

    “I’m sorry to say that is probably because of you attack and wheezing. We would have sounded like wounded prey, which means easy prey.”

    “Oh.”

    “So yay us, daylight and no wheezing.” Stiles maneuvers the roads with ease and finds the area from the other night. It hadn’t been until earlier in the day that she had realized how close everything had taken place near the Hale house. Her over active mind is screaming at her that it is all signs, but she doesn’t know what to make of it. They climb out of the Jeep after she parks and start searching the area.

    “Practice was crazy dude.”

    “Uh-huh.”

     “I’m telling you Stiles it’s all really weird. The bite is completely healed and today at elimination… it was like I had all the time in the world to maneuver around him. And that’s not the only weird thing. I- I can- hear stuff I shouldn’t be able to hear. And I can smell things too.”

    “Like what?” She’s watching him and looking out into the Preserve. She’d been hoping to wait until her dad got there, but it looks like she’s going to have to try and get through to him now.

    “I can hear people whispering at the other end of the hall but it sounds like they are right next to me. And I can smell the mint-mojito gum in your pocket.” She looks at him funnily and starts reaching into her jacket pockets.

    “I don’t even have any mint-” She stops when her hand wraps around the pack and she pulls it out. “Don’t want to know how long that has been there…”

    “What if it’s like an infection, like my body’s flooding with adrenaline before I go into shock or something?” Stiles almost cries at how close Scott is to the truth. She has a thought and then decides to roll with it.

    “You know what? I actually think I’ve heard of this. It’s a specific kind of infection.” She keeps her face straight and her tone serious and that horrible part of her takes joy in Scott’s nervousness.

    “Are you serious?” His voice goes a little high at the end and Stiles almost loses character.

    “Yeah. Yeah, I think it’s called lycanthropy.”

    “What’s that? Is that bad?” Stiles is so tempted to facepalm and she starts questioning their friendship. How, in all their years of being friends, does he not know what lycanthropy is? It’s right up there with having never watched Star Wars, which he hasn’t and she knows it.

    “Oh yeah, it’s the worst, especially on the full moon.” She let’s out a howl, the first one she’s done in a long time, and does start laughing a little at Scott’s face.

    “Not funny, Stiles. There could be something seriously wrong with me.”

    “There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with you Scott. I promise.” She moves towards him and places a hand on his shoulder.

    “Find it yet?” Both of the teens jump at the sound of the Sheriff’s voice. He’s brought a tranquilizer gun and has it ready at his side and she feels her heart rate pick up slightly.

    “Uh, Sheriff, why do you have a rifle?” Scott is eyeing it with wide eyes and he moves a little closer to Stiles.

    “I figured I’d join you kids and thought better safe than sorry. I don’t think we are at risk of running into a mountain lion, but this is good insurance if we do. And don’t worry, it’s just tranquilizer. I picked it up from Deaton on my way here.” Neither Stilinski is happy about the idea of having to use it on Scott, but at least with Deaton helping Stiles knows that it will work and not kill him. A nod from her father lets her know that he is ready for whatever happens.

    “So, Scottie…” She takes a deep breath and turns so that she is looking at her best friend, “about those changes we were just talking about…”

    “Stiles!” Scott says her name in a very harsh whisper, the obvious meaning being to shut up in front of her dad.

    “Dad already knows about the bite, Scott.”

    “How?”

    “I told him.”

    “When? Why?” Scott is obviously upset.

    “When he found us, before he started talking to the paramedics.” Scott’s staring at her now, obviously trying to process it. “I had to tell him because of what bit you.”

    “Because of what bit me? Wasn’t it a mountain lion?” He’s swapping between looking at Stiles and looking at the Sheriff and Stiles can tell he’s getting a little nervous.

    “Scott, you are worried about the changes happening with you, right?” It’s the Sheriff’s turn to speak up and gain all of Scott’s attention who nods in response. “I bet your hearing and smell are better. Your eyesight is probably even better now too. I already know you’ve gotten better at lacrosse pretty much over night. Or am I off about all of that?”

    “No, you’re right. What’s going on Sheriff?” Stiles picks up the conversation.

    “Scott, have you used your inhaler since that night?” She can tell he’s thinking it over.

    “No… but I’ve been feeling great. I mean, people grow out of having asthma, right?

    “Yeah, though I’ll admit I’ve never heard of it happening so suddenly like that.” John is watching Scott for any signs that he is about to shift.

    “Why is this all a big deal to you guys? Wounds heal, people senses get stronger, and people get better at sports.” John can tell the Scott is getting agitated.

    “Scott, these things don’t normally happen overnight. I don’t think it’s anything to be scared of, but you need to pay attention to what’s going on with you. You are going to need someone to help you.”

    “Help me with what?” Scott gets a look like he’s just been slapped. “You guys think I’m on drugs! Just like Jackson!” Stiles groans and slaps her hand to her forehead.

    “We know you aren’t on dru-” Movement coming from the left stops the Sheriff before he can finish. He barely manages to keep from automatically aiming the rifle as the man walks up on them. John’s first observation is that he is tall, the leather jacket he is wearing gives him a bad boy edge, and he kind of looks like he would rather be tormenting small animals then walking up to them. There is something very familiar about him, though John is having trouble placing it.

    “This is private property and you are trespassing.” His voice isn’t as deep as any of them expected. Scott mumbles an apology but Stiles is just staring. It’s been six years and he has changed but she can still see the boy she remembers. His hair is still just as dark as his mother’s and he has his father’s multicolor eyes. It doesn’t help that those eyebrows are unforgettable.

    “Derek…” Stiles’s voice is soft, sure and unsure all out once and she catches his slight apprehension at being recognized. “Is it really you?”

    “Who?” Scott is directly beside her now, distracted from their previous conversation by the newcomer. His instincts are screaming at him that this stranger is not to be trusted but he doesn’t understand why. Scott watches as the man shifts his gaze back and forth between the Sheriff and Stiles for a moment. The wind shifts and Scott can see the man take a deep breath and his eyes seem to widen in recognition. Scott looks to the Sheriff and all he sees is surprise.

    “Small fry?” The nickname has Stiles launching herself at the man with a shout of ‘Der’ and wrapping her arms around his neck. He seems stunned for a moment before he’s wrapping his arms around her and returning the hug. She’s a lot taller than he remembers but time will do that. He closes his eyes and simply holds onto her, allowing himself to nuzzle into her neck and take a deep breath of her familiar scent. She smells like spices and cedar mixed with her adderall and something else, something sharp.

    John motions Scott closer, the poor boy confused by Stiles’s reaction. Now that Stiles has said his name, he knows exactly who it is and is surprised that he didn’t notice an almost spitting image of Nathaniel Hale. It’s been years since either he or Laura have stepped foot into Beacon Hills. He remembers the day they left and how he had tried to get them to stay. He understood their need to get out of town, but he hadn’t expected them to stay gone for so long. Then again, Peter still hadn’t come out of his catatonic state, and he isn’t even sure if they knew he had survived. John is wondering why he has come back now. And is Laura the Alpha that bit Scott? But Laura wouldn’t have just bit a random stranger. John snaps out of his thoughts and can’t help but laugh at the sight of his daughter punching Derek on the arm and then grimacing when it hurts her more.

    “Long time no see, Derek.”

    “Good to see you again, Deputy.”

    “Haven’t been a deputy in a while. It’s Sheriff now.” John notices Derek eyeing the rifle when he turns to face him more. “Had an animal attack the other night and the kids were out here looking for something they lost. Brought the tranquilizer just in case.” He watches Derek’s shoulders tense at the mention of the attack.

    “Congratulations.” Derek takes a deep breath as the wind shifts again and his eyes zero in on the other teen. He smells like a new wolf but doesn’t seem to know what Derek is. He knows Laura wouldn’t have turned anyone so young and leave them. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out the inhaler he found while searching the Preserve earlier. “Is this what you lost?”

    “Yes, thank god.” Stiles reaches out and takes the inhaler from him. “Not mine, but I keep it. It’s Scott’s rescue inhaler.” Derek just nods.

    “You know…” John waits until all eyes are on him. “I think the four of us should head back to the house. Derek can help us with a little problem and then he can fill us in on what’s brought him back. Sound like a plan Stiles?” He watches as her eyes go comically wide with relief when she realizes that Derek is their proof.

    “Yeah, that sounds perfect.”

    “Sheriff, I really need to be getting to work.”

    “It’s ok, Scott. Deaton told me to tell you he was closing up early today and wouldn’t need you. Come on over and have dinner with us. I know your mom is working tonight.” Scott seems a little iffy but relents. “Derek?”

    “Sounds good.”

    “Excellent. You can ride with me. We'll meet you there. I'll pick up pizza on the way.” He's surprised when Stiles doesn't argue and figures she must be nervous. He waits until the kids are the kids are far enough away before turning back to the young Hale. “I'm guessing whatever brought you back here isn't good.”

    “I'm not sure yet. I'm trying to find Laura; she left about a week ago to come back here. Never told me why and told me to stay behind.” John nodded and rest his hand on Derek’s shoulder.

    “I'll gladly help with that. Do you mind helping to prove that my daughter isn't crazy?” At the look he got, John backtracked. “Ok, just prove werewolves are real.”

    “I think I can do that.” John and Derek head towards the cars, Derek letting John lead the way. John hoped he would be able to help Derek. He knew the boy wouldn't be able to handle losing anyone else.

 

    Derek and the Sheriff arrived to the Stilinski residence with an armload of pizzas. Derek had insisted on paying since he knew first hand how much a werewolf could put away and there were now going to be two in the house with one being a teenager. Once he was out of the cruiser, he stood just staring at the house. The paint color had faded slightly and was chipping in some places due to wear over the years. The old rocking chair that used to sit on the front porch was now missing and the wind chime was missing pieces. Other than that it still looked just the same as he remembered.

    There had been many times that he and Cora had come over for the two girls to have a play date. He had normally been the one volunteered by his mother but he always ended up enjoying it before he left. Mrs. Stilinski had always made the best pies and she typically would sneak him and extra large piece while he was there as payment for him bring Cora over. She would also help him with his homework if he was having difficulty. He could still picture her bright smile when he would finally catch on to something that was making him struggle.

    “Derek?” The sound of the Sheriff’s voice brings him out of his memories and he’s slightly surprised to see the older man standing on the steps. He’d been so lost in memory that he hadn’t even really noticed him moving. Derek lets himself hone in on the inside of the house, easily finding the rapid hummingbird heartbeat that is Stiles. He can hear her and the other teen talking and it sounds very close to turning into an argument.

    “I just don’t get it, Stiles. You’ve literally never talked about anyone named Derek before and now you’re acting like he’s some long lost friend. He looks like a serial killer! And then he just happens to show up on the Preserve after a murder takes place out there? You can’t tell me that’s not creepy.” Scott’s voice gets louder and a little bit frantic the further into his tirade that he gets. The cadence of his steps tells Derek that the teen is pacing.

    “One, he’s not a serial killer.” Derek smirks as he can picture her holding up a finger as she speaks. “Two, I used to talk about him all the time, Scott, especially when you and I first became friends, you just don’t remember it. He’s an old family friend that hasn’t been in Beacon Hills in six years, so I haven’t even seen him since I was ten. I understand why him and his sister left. And three, he was probably out on the Preserve because that’s where his family lived.” He hears the scraping of a chair against the floor as it’s moved and the movement of someone sitting. He can also hear the sound of pacing stop.

    “Nobody lives out on the Preserve, Stiles.” There is a deep sigh and Derek tunes out of the conversation, but not before hears part of her response.

    “No one does, anymore.” The Sheriff opening the door interrupts the conversation before she can finish her explanation.

    “I have pizza and no complaints on what the toppings are!” The Sheriff shouts into the house instead of just calling hello and Derek chuckles at the whine that is the answer.

    “Da-ad!”

    “Nope, don’t want to hear it!” He turns to Derek with a smile. “I’m sure you remember where everything is, it hasn’t changed I promise. If you don’t, Stiles will point it out. I’m going to get comfortable.” With that he heads up the stairs, leaving Derek with the teens. Derek heads into the dining room, and just stares at the kid, Scott he reminds himself, who is giving him the stink eye. Stiles is currently glaring at the boxes in his hands.

    “Please tell me he at least got some sort of veggies on there…” Stiles’s voice is pitiful as she speaks. Scott looks like he is going to try and jump him if he so much as sneezes. Derek wonders briefly if they are dating and that’s the source of the unease, or if maybe his instincts are telling him to be wary.

    “Two supremes, no anchovies, and two meat lovers, extra bacon.” He sets the pizzas down just as Stiles’s head hits the table.

    “That is so not on his diet.”

    “He’ll survive one night of greasy pizza, small fry.” He freezes momentarily, not sure how she’ll take to being called that again. He knew earlier it was just the confirmation of who she was. When she says nothing about it, he lets himself relax. Even with the other teen there it was surprisingly easy to fall into old habits and let himself relax. This place had always been a safe haven for all the pups in the pack when they needed to get away from everyone.

    “See, Stiles, one night won’t kill me.” John returns in much more casual clothes but Derek can pick out the very faint bulge that could only be caused by an ankle holster on his right leg. He wonders if it’s another tranquilizer gun.

    “Except you try for every single night.” Stiles glares at her father as she sets plates out for all of them. John ignores her and turns to Derek.

    “Derek, let me introduce you to Stiles’s best friend, Scott McCall.” Stiles winces slightly when her dad says that, hoping it doesn’t upset Derek. Stiles used to introduce Cora that way. It does hurt him a little to hear but he understands. It’s been six years. Instead he just leans over and shakes the boy’s hand, smirking when he tries to squeeze too hard.

    “So it best friend code for boy-”

    “Finish that sentence and I will cut your heart out with a spoon.” She sets a can of Coke down with a  harsh thump, the glare she gives is utterly harmless though. It is almost a surprise for her how easy it is to fall back into their teasing ways. “Scott’s my brother from another mother.”

    “Eww.” Scott shuddered when he realized what Derek had been about to ask. John laughed so hard at the look on his face that he nearly fell out of his chair. Stiles just rolls her eyes at him.

    “Unfortunately that is not the first time we have been asked that question. Apparently I can’t be friends with a guy without it being anything but just that… friends.” And it’s the truth. Not many people know her well enough to ask anything directly, but there have been a few that simply ask about her boyfriend  when meaning Scott. “I think I’m going to throw up on the next person to ask.”

    “Really, Stiles?” John has managed to get himself under somewhat control and can’t believe she would say that right when they are about to eat. Scratch that, he can easily believe it.

    “What? It’s not like I went into gory detail.” She takes a her seat between Derek and Scott with her father directly opposite her. John just shakes his head and then decides to change the topic.

    “So, Derek...” The young man in question sits up a little straighter when the Sheriff’s gaze focuses in on him. “Seems to me like we’ve missed on a good bit when it comes to you and Laura. Tell us what’s been going on. What have we missed exactly? Where have you been?” Derek shrinks a little at the last question, feeling once again like the thirteen year old that got caught sneaking into the school at night on a dare by then Deputy Stilinski.

    “Well, we went to Washington first where we had some family friends willing to take us in and to help Laura and I adjust. Laura took a leave of absence from school and found a job as a waitress and I was homeschooled. We pretty much kept to ourselves. After about a year there, we headed for New York. The place up there was too similar to home and we wanted to be as far away from here as possible.” He gives the Sheriff and Stiles an apologetic look but Stiles just gives him a soft smile. Of course they both understood.

    “Laura managed to find a pretty good job in a lawyer’s office that worked with her going to school and I threw myself into my studies.. Graduated with decent grades and started college.”

    “What did you major in?” Stiles interrupts eagerly. She’d always talked with him about what he wanted to do growing up and sometimes sounded more excited than he was. He’d always said he’d wanted go into wildlife preservation or some form of forestry service, but he just couldn’t after the loss of his family. Though the last couple months he and Laura had been talking about making a trip back here and maybe doing something with the land that had been left to them.

    “I actually went for architecture. I’ll be finishing up my degree in the next few months.”

    “That’s great to hear, Derek.” John is beaming at him, the pride obvious even though Derek is not his own.  “What are your plans for it?”

    “Maybe start my own business. Laura and I have been talking about maybe rebuilding the house.”

    “Wait a minute.” Stiles is almost bouncing in her seat. “The two of you are coming back? For real?” Her eyes are wide and bright and he is reminded of her being five and getting her first bike for Christmas.

    “Maybe. We hadn’t officially decided.” Derek almost started laughing as Scott raised his hand to interrupt as if he were in class.

    “I’m sorry if this is rude but whose Laura? And what happened that made you guys leave? I feel a little lost here.”

    “Laura is my older sister…” Derek could not talk about what happened to his family. His throat still felt tight every time he thought about it. He was grateful when John took over from there.

    “You may not remember all the news reports and stories, Scott, in fact with the exception of Stiles I think not a lot of kids your age would. Derek’s family lived out on the Preserve. In fact I think your family owns most of the land out there, right, Derek?” Derek simply nodded and was staring at his clenched fists. He almost jumped when Stiles’s hand settled on top of one of his and he looked over to give her a wane smile.

    “Six years ago there was a fire. There was a… party going on that night at the Hale house. Unfortunately out of everyone there, only three survived.” Derek focuses on the Sheriff at that moment.

    “Peter?” His voice is soft, almost fragile as he asks about the third survivor.

    “No change. Still in the long term care ward at Beacon Memorial.” Derek’s shoulders seem to slump at the words, and Stiles squeezes his hand.

    “Who's Peter?” Scott’s voice is softer, a little nicer, as he voices his question. It’s Stiles that responds.

    “Peter is their Uncle. He got burned pretty badly.”

    “Oh… I’m sorry, dude.” An awkward silence descends on the group, everyone unsure of where to take the conversation. Stiles stands and starts to clean everything up as it seems everyone has lost their appetite. Derek joins her, much to Stiles’s protest. He’s standing at the sink with their dirty dishes when he hears the scrape of a chair on linoleum followed by Scott’s voice.

    “Thanks for dinner, Sheriff, but I should-”

    “Sit down, Scott.” Derek caught the thud of Scott sitting suddenly and Stiles’s snicker. He turns to her, question clear on his face, and she just mutters ‘dog joke’ under her breath. Derek rolls his eyes and turns around so he can watch Scott and the Sheriff.

    “Sheriff?” The increased speed of Scott’s heart causes Derek to focus on him.

    “We need to have a talk.” John motions for Stiles and Derek to sit back down and Derek realizes that Scott’s heart isn’t the only one increasing. He reaches over and places his hand on the back of Stiles’s neck, hoping to calm her nerves, before taking his seat again.

    “I swear, I’m not on drugs, Sheriff. If Jackson has said something to make you think I am it’s just because he’s-”

    “This isn’t about drugs, Scott.” John interrupts Scott’s rant before he can really get it rolling.

    “Then what is this about?”

    “I need to talk to you about the other night.”

    “What about it?”

    “Bites don’t magically heal, Scott.” Stiles speaks up, her voice hinting at how frustrated with him she is. Derek is surprised to learn that Scott was only bitten such a short time ago and with only a few days until the full moon to prepare. Where is this kid’s Alpha? And what is a new Alpha doing in Beacon Hills? This is still technically claimed land. Derek shakes his head and focuses back in on the conversation. “You don’t grow out of asthma over night, or become a gymnast. Your hearing and smell don’t dial up to ten. It doesn’t happen .”

    “I don’t know what’s going on, okay? I don’t know how to explain it.” Stiles opens her mouth to say something and Derek beats her to it.

    “What do you know about werewolves, Scott?” His voice is even, no hint of laughter or sarcasm as he speaks. All three heads turn to him in some form of surprise or shock. John looks almost grateful that Derek is taking over but also like he’s planning some way to do damage control. Stiles looks like she wants to argue with his method but then just seems to deflate. Scott is obviously questioning his sanity.

    “Werewolves?” He looks to the Sheriff and Stiles, waiting for the laughter to start. “This is a joke, right?” Derek can hear Scott’s heart hit double time just as Stiles sighs.

    “Scott, meet Derek Hale, beta wolf of the Hale werewolf pack. Derek, meet Scott McCall, newly turned, absolutely clueless werewolf of an unknown pack and unknown Alpha.” The fact that Stiles and the Sheriff do not know who the Alpha is that bit the teen bothers him. Stiles on the other hand just feels like she is watching a really bad ping pong match with the way Scott’s gaze keeps shifting between the three of them.

    “Beta? Alpha? Is this a new version of that Dragons and Dungeons game you tried to get me to play? If so, you are way to into it.” Scott gives a nervous chuckle as Stiles mutters Dungeons and Dragons under her breath. When his gaze settles on her, however, she just gestures towards Derek and Scott just gives him a puzzled look.

    Scott watches as Derek takes a deep breath and closes his eyes. When they open again they are a bright, electric blue and Scott falls backwards in his chair as he watches Derek’s features shift and change. He’s pressed against the wall as he stares at the pointy ears, sharp teeth, and fur. Derek places his hands on the table from where they had been resting in his pockets and now Scott can see the deadly looking claws at the end of each finger. He manages to look away from Derek to see that his friend is entirely too calm to be sitting next to a monster.

    “Now do you believe me, Scott?” Her voice is soft as she speaks, as if she is now the one trying to calm a spooked animal. The look in her eyes is so gentle and understanding. She’d had both her mother and Talia both introducing her into the supernatural world. There had been no random Alphas, no unknowing victims. Just a child’s curiosity and the calming demeanor of both women. Scott stutters out a no when she reaches out to tap Derek on the arm, but she just shakes her head and continues. Derek looks at her briefly before shifting back.

    “I’m not… I would know… there’s no way…” Scott’s panicked voice trails off as he just stares at the three.

    “Have a seat, son.” John’s voice is just as calm as Stiles’s and he is glad when Scott manages to take his seat again. He notices the boy’s shaking hands and wonders if they need to keep an eye out for a panic attack. Or do wolves even get those?

    “You are.” Derek’s voice breaks the silence that follows. “Your scent has already changed so that you smell like wolf instead of human. Also if the bite has fully healed then that means that your body has accepted it.”

    “Accepted it? What do you mean accepted it?” the grim look on their faces does not comfort the teen. “My body could have rejected it? What would have happened then? Would I have still been human?”

    “You would have died.”

    “Derek!” “The hell?!” Stiles and Scott both shout out at the same time.

    “You know it’s true, Stiles, and he needs to know that.” He ignores the glare he receives. “A human bitten by an Alpha only has two outcomes. Their body accepts the bite and they turn or they reject it and they die.”

    “So what, you guys go around just biting random people and hoping they survive?” Scott’s voice has gone squeaky with panic.

    “No.” “No way.” This time it’s Derek and Stiles that speak at once. Stiles gestures for Derek to continue. “A good alpha wouldn’t have just bitten you and then left you to chance. The bite is supposed to be a gift.”

    “Well I didn’t ask for this! And you two…” He directs his attention to Stiles and her father. “I could have died and you two knew! Why didn’t you tell me to go to the hospital?” He seems to be turning from confusion towards anger and John speaks up to bring the focus to himself.

    “That’s true, Scott, we did know. Stiles recognized the alpha for what it was immediately. Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done once you are bitten.” John rubs his hands over his face with a tired sigh. “We couldn’t take you to the hospital because they would’ve asked too many questions no matter what happened. Humans don’t handle knowing about werewolves very well.” He watches as Scott seems to think it over, his shoulders slumping.

    “I haven’t shifted or anything, so how do you know? You say I smell like one but that’s it.”

    “Your eyes changed at practice today, Scott.”

    “What?”

    “Your eyes. They turned gold just like his turned blue right before he shifted.” Stiles is speaking to him like she is speaking to a child. “You’re a werewolf, Scott, and you’re going to have to learn more about it and how to control it.” She watches as he deflates even more.

    “So… are you two werewolves? Is that how you know all this?”

    “No,” John smiles, “We are one hundred percent human.”

    “Well, he is, I’m something…” when Scott’s eyes go wide she holds up her hands, “...but that is for another time.”

    “What about you?” He directs his question to Derek. “Did you know the risks when you were turned?” Scott jumps when Derek’s eyes flash blue and a growl leaves his lips. “What?”

    “He wasn’t turned dummy.” Stiles barely keeps herself from reaching over and smacking him on the head.

    “Then how?”

    “I’m a born wolf. My mother was my alpha. When she… died… it passed to Laura.”

    “Oh.” John clears his throat to gain the attention of all three.

    “How about we call it a night? I know this is a lot to absorb. Scott, you head straight here tomorrow after practice with Stiles. I’ll inform Deaton of the schedule change.”

    “Wait, Deaton knows too?” When the Stilinskis nod, all Scott can do is groan.

    “As I was saying, Derek would you mind meeting the kids here and helping Scott with learning how to shift and control it?” He receives a nod and continues. “You can also come by the station in the morning and file a missing person report on, Laura, bring a picture if you have one.” Stiles perks up at the news that Laura is actually missing. John stands, trigger the other three to do the same. Stiles walks Derek and Scott to the door as her father bids them a good night. Scott promises to come over the next day and declines offers for a ride. Derek and Stiles watch him go until he is out of sight.

    “Mind elaborating about Laura going missing?” Derek lets out a sigh. He had been expecting the question from the moment that John had mentioned it.

    “That’s actually what brought me here. She left New York about a week ago in a hurry. Said something came up that she wanted to check out. She was checking in every night until a couple nights ago. So I caught the first flight I could back.” Stiles remains quiet until she is sure he is finished.

    “Do you think she is okay?”

    “I’m not sure. I can’t feel the pack bonds to her, but I feel a thin connection to the alpha… I’m worried about her.”

    “Dad will find her.” She leans against his shoulder, hoping to offer him some form of comfort and ends up smiling when his arm wraps around her.

    “Be careful, Stiles.” With that he pulls away and heads towards the road.

    “I’m glad your back, Derek.” She means every word and smiles at him when he turns back to her. He just nods before continuing down the road.

 

    Stiles is sitting in her room, typing furiously away on her phone. It’s been a few hours since the big reveal and she can’t sleep because she is even more pissed at Scott. He’d sent her a text when he got home explaining about waking up in the woods that morning and she can’t believe he left off something so important. She’s trying to search for any numbers for Derek and Laura, because the big dummy didn’t leave one for her before he left earlier, and is really tempted to interrupt a friends date so he can find it for her. When nothing works she tosses her phone over her shoulder with a groan. The only light she has on is her desk lamp and it is shining directly on the box from her mother. She’s debating on whether or not trying to open it again would be worth it when a knock on her window makes her jump. She thinks on what day it is and it’s not her normal night for a visitor.

    “Stiles?” Hearing the voice she gets up, pulls up the blind, and opens the window.

    “What the hell dude?” It’s after midnight. My dad will still probably shoot you.” She steps aside to allow room for him to climb into her room.

    “Don’t call me dude.” Derek takes a seat at her desk while he eyes the box. “You felt anxious.”

    “Felt?” She takes a seat on her bed again as she watches him, taking in the differences from what she remembers. She can tell he doesn’t smile as much as he used to, but then he quit smiling so much before the fire. She knows his eyes are now blue, but she doesn’t know why. The difference in eye color was never explained past red eyes equals alpha. He’s taller, broader, and the goatee looks good and odd at the same time. She’s wondering how different is his personality when a hand gets waved in her face.

    “Huh?” Her eyes come back to focus on his and he just shakes his head.

    “You spaced.” She grins sheepishly and shrugs.

    “You were saying?”

    “I was explaining about the pack bonds.”

    “What about them?” She tucks her chin ontop her knees and wraps her arms loosely around her legs and she focuses on what he is saying so she doesn’t zone out again.

    “I was explaining why I said felt.” He watches her for a moment and continues when she doesn’t say anything. “Our pack bonds with you never broke, just got weaker because of the distance.”

    “I see… and now that you are here?”

    “They’ll get stronger the more we are around each other. You’ll be able to feel them too. If you’d like I can teach you how to focus on them while training Scott.” Derek turns his attention back to the box on her desk and reaches a hand out to it. He reaches like he is going to touch it but something is stopping his hand.

    “Sounds like a plan.”

    “So what’s wrong? Is it the box?”

    “What? No. I mean I’m kinda frustrated but that wasn’t my focus right now.” She takes a deep breath and explains the conversation she just had with Scott through text.

    “The alpha is calling him, trying to establish pack bonds.”

    “But why? I mean he, or she, just randomly bit him.”

    “An alpha gains strength through the pack. The larger the pack, and the stronger the bonds, the stronger the alpha. That’s part of why mom was so respected. She had a decent sized pack with very strong bonds.” Stiles flops back with a groan.

    “Great… couldn’t get any better, could it?” She gets no response, but didn’t really expect one. In fact when he does speak, she is startled.

    “What’s in the box?”

    “Hmm?”

    “I didn’t expect you to have anything made with mountain ash.” That has he leaning up to look at him.

    “Mountain what?” She pushes herself to sitting as she watches him try and touch the box again. If she pays attention she can just see a faint blue glow like his hand is pressed against a force field.

    “Mountain ash, otherwise known as rowan. A lot of supernatural creatures can’t touch it or cross a line made from it.” He drops his hand and turns back to her.

    “It was mom’s. She left it with Deaton until it came time for me to have it. I just can’t open it to see what’s in it.

    “She wouldn't have left you something impossible to open. She always loved puzzles. That’s why her and…” He trails off and Stiles understands. It’s hard for her to talk about her own mother most of the time.

    “They did love them, didn’t they. I remember that one puzzle box that had candy in it. Whoever got the box open got the candy, remember?” She freezes as soon as the words are out of her mouth and Derek looks at her in concern.

    “Stiles?”

    “That’s it.” She flails as she jumps off the bed, cursing when she stubbed her toe, and hopping over to her desk. “It’s a puzzle box, that’s why there is no key!”

    Derek barely gets moved out of the way before she's pulling the box closer to the edge of the desk and examining every inch again. She's muttering the story under her breath, knowing it has to hold some clue. Derek sits there watching, swearing he can see the gears as they turn in her mind. He watches as she pauses over the trunk of the tree and over each moon phase. She scrutinize each wolf and branch. When her finger runs along the tree again she pauses, running her finger back and forth over one section.

    "Grandmother oak made Red take an oath to protect the woods and all those that lived in it and near it..." She puts pressure and Derek can hear a soft click of something releasing.

    "You're onto something. Something happened inside the box, keep going." She gives a distracted nod as she turns her attention back to the wolves. One catches her eye. It's eyes look like they're darker, like someone tried to change the color.

    "The alpha challenged Red, and respected her when she didn't back down..." She presses down on the wolf's head and Derek hears another click. She doesn't wait for Derek's encouragement this time. She looks the box over and over, getting frustrated with her inability to find the next trigger. Her finger skims the full moon and a section of the story sticks in her mind.

    "Red and the Wolf were bound together under the light of the full moon..." She holds her breath as she presses down. Derek hears a soft click followed by a louder and Stiles jumps when the lid pops open an inch. "I did it." She barely keeps herself from jumping up and down and Derek can tell.

    "Congratulations. I'll leave you to your discovery." He gets up and is surprised when he gets a hug from her.

    "Thanks, Derek."

    "For what?"

    "Coming to check on me."

    "Anytime." They separate and he heads out the window. Stiles shuts and locks it behind him and then turns to the box. Time to explore.