Actions

Work Header

Red's Rebirth *Currently on Hold*

Chapter Text

     You’ve heard the story of Little Red Riding Hood, right? I mean who hasn’t? Little Red gets sent to deliver a basket of goodies to her dear, sick Grandmother. Along the way she meets the Wolf, who tempts her off her path with flowers and then races to beat her to her destination. Red makes it to her Grandmother’s to find the Wolf instead and is eaten, just as her Grandmother had been. Then they are rescued by the heroic Woodsman, the Wolf is killed, and Grandmother and Little Red live happily ever after. It’s a familiar tale that we have been told since childhood.

     What if that version wasn’t the original story though? What if the truth had been twisted and tainted to scare us? What if the facts had been reworked to make the good guy seem bad and the bad guy seem good? What would you say if you heard the truth?

     You see, Little Red was a very real young woman. Over the centuries her real name has been lost and she has simply become known as Red due to the crimson cloak she always wore. All the characters that we are familiar with once lived, they just played a very different role than what we have been led to believe. Their story is very different than what you have been told.

     In the story we grew up with, we are made to believe that Red is easily distracted, forgetful, and, most of all, weak. She is always nothing more than a child. In truth Red was very strong, focused, and determined. She was extremely kind, unquestionably loyal, fiercely protective, and highly unique. She was the beloved youngest daughter in a family of sons, raised to be delicate but to never break. Her father went against the norm to teach her how to hunt and protect herself alongside her brothers. He taught her to be resourceful but to never be greedy.

     She spent her whole youth exploring the woods that surrounded their little village as much as she could. She knew the area better than any other human, even without their maps, markers, and forged trails.  If she could help it she never harmed an animal outside of hunting and she always followed the rules that her father had taught her.

     During her exploration she had found a giant oak in the heart of the woods that had drawn her to it with the feeling of peace and safety that it provided. Deep within her heart and soul, Red knew that this was where she needed to be. She reached out, placing her hand on the rough bark, and felt her blood sing in response. A feeling of pride, welcome, protection, and power enveloped her and she laughed with it instead of running. Red had never shied away from the spirits in the woods, unlike the villagers who jumped and crossed themselves at simply shadows.

     A kindly, elderly looking spirit appeared before her and smiled at the young woman. Red could hear it’s soft spoken voice in her mind. The spirit told Red that she was very pleased with how well the young girl respected the forest, animal and spirit alike. In return, the spirit was going to grant her many gifts to continue being the forest’s protector and to become the protector of the village. Red accepted without hesitation.

     After that Red would come to the clearing with the old oak daily and sit amongst its roots for the spirit to teach her. She learned which plants could heal and which could harm, how to identify the forest spirits and how to call on them. She also learned how to feel the flow of energy through the earth and how to interact with and use it when necessary. She taught Red all the secrets of nature and its magic. Red began to affectionately call her Grandmother because she reminded the young woman of her grandmother who had passed away.

     One day while sitting at Grandmother’s roots, a pack of wolves came stalking from the trees. They had been drawn by the energy that Grandmother gave off and the strong scent of magic in the air. Red had been expecting them, her skin tingling with the feeling of outsiders and new moving through the forest. Red brought herself to her feet, holding her hunting bow loosely in her hand, and faced the wolves with her head held high. Thanks to Grandmother’s lessons she knew that these were no ordinary wolves. She could see a shimmer of energy that was constantly shifting around them.

     The largest of the wolves stepped forward, eyes flashing red quickly as he took in a deep breath, taking in and analyzing the young woman’s scent as he watched her. He could distinguish the telltale scents that made up a human village such as soap, cloth, and metal but also noticed that she smelled much stronger of dirt, herbs, flowers, and magic. In fact she smelled more like an emissary than a villager, but she did not smell of wolf, at least not a wolf like him. Her soft voice made his ears perk as she spoke. He could hear a hidden strength within it.

     “Are you passing through or looking to settle?” There was no pretense of them being anything less than intelligent in her question. Her deep amber eyes watched as his head tilted in thought. “Either way, you may hunt these woods if your pack wishes, but I must ask that you not over hunt and that you stay away from the village. Many lives depend on this forest and my neighbors tend to be distrustful of those they do not know.”

     The lead wolf took another step forward as his flashed a brighter crimson briefly before his form began to shift and a man stood in his place. He smirked at the slight tinge of pink that crept up into the young woman’s cheeks and the miniscule change in her scent as his naked form was revealed. His frame was broad and tall with well defined muscles from the hard labor and fighting that it took to provide for and defend his pack mates.

     “Who are you, little one, to make such requests?” She was younger than him, but not by too much. He mainly used the term to see if he could rile her up. He was pleased to see the slight shift in her spine as she brought herself to full height, but did nothing more than that.

     “I am the guardian of these woods and all the dwell in them or near them.” Her voice was strong and steady as she spoke and, as the Wolf listened, so was her heart.

     “Then we shall respect your request guardian. We are simply traveling looking for a new home and hoping to catch some rest in the area.”

     “Then I hope you find peace and rest while you are here.” She watched wide eyed as he shifted back into his wolf form and lead the pack back into the trees. She had so many questions running through her mind.

 

     Months passed and Red came to know the pack better with each day. She learned that they had been driven from their former home by hunters and were searching for a new place to call their own. She brought clothes and shoes so that they could travel into the village without problems. She hunted with them and took part in their full moon runs. They taught her how to fight with bare hands, weapons, and anything she could reach. They made sure she could defend herself against human and nonhuman alike. The emissary taught her even more about what plants were helpful and harmful to the wolves. With each passing day she grew closer to them, but especially to their Alpha.

     The Wolf with the red eyes was drawn to Red, just like she was drawn to him. She confided that she found herself at odds with the place she had called home, with the people that lived there, and he confided that he wasn’t sure how to handle the loss of their home and former Alpha. In their time together they found an anchor in each other. Her gentleness balanced his wildness, her kindness balanced his ferocity. Their protective natures and loyalty to their charges were equally matched. Grandmother smirked at the Wolf and gave her blessing when he eventually asked to court the wild hearted maiden and the whole forest cheered, animals and spirits, when they held a bonding ceremony underneath her branches. They kept their courtship and bonding a secret from her family as the Wolf worked to earn their favor so they could also be married by human laws and customs. Due to this, Red still lived at home, stealing time with her Wolf during the day.

     Happiness, however, did not last forever. After two years of peace for Red and the pack strangers came to the village reeking of hate. They were all harsh and demanding of the people of the peaceful village, demanding to know of any strange events, strange people. They said they were hunting down some run away killers that had gone on a massacre in another small town. Though the pack had never caused any harm nor caused any altercations, they were still very new and very strange to the villagers. Instead of wanting to live close to people, they had built homes out in the woods. So the villagers talked about these new strangers living out in the woods that would trade meat and furs for supplies. Red did her best to turn the strangers away from the woods, but it did not work.

      One evening Red woke in a panic with her heart pounding and sweat dripping from her skin. Her dream had been nothing but evil laughs, debilitating pain and cold darkness, a sense of losing everything, but it had been enough to send her into terror. The sound of her pack’s howls broke her from the daze her sleep had left her in. She dressed hurriedly, realizing there was running and shouting going on outside her home. When she saw the forest she froze, her legs feeling as if they turned to stone, and realized that the pain and panic her dream had left her feeling were her pack and charges. The forest was burning as far as she could see. The dark sky was lit an eerie orange and smoke was blanketing the village.

     She paused only long enough to grab the wooden staff that she kept near the door into her family home, her mind blank of anything but reaching her pack. She ignored the cries of her family as she raced as swiftly as her feet would carry her, her crimson cloak flying out behind her. She did not stop until she heard the sound of laughter and then she hid amongst a rare hedge that wasn’t on fire. The strangers had her pack surrounded, her Wolf separated from them and wrapped in rope that caused his flesh to burn, on his knees with an axe held to his throat. The strangers were laughing, calling them monsters, saying they needed to be wiped out. Their emissary’s body lay cold and dead at another hunter’s feet.  Her Wolf’s eyes landed on her hidden in the bushes and he gave the barest shake of his head that went unnoticed by the gloating hunter. He was telling her to stay hidden, to stay safe. Red wanted to argue but there were too many for her to fight alone.

     Her gaze landed on the dark line of mountain ash surrounding the rest of the pack and she focused on the pulse of energy she could feel coming from it. She buried her fingers into the dirt at her feet and directed all her energy through the ground and towards the dark ring, willing it to break as she remembered the emissary telling her how it would trap a wolf, but her efforts were in vain. The Hunter pulled the axe back and swung just as she broke the line and the pack sprang free. Red felt her heart shatter but barely registered the scream that left her lips as strong arms wrapped around her slight frame and drug her away from the fight. One of the betas had grabbed her knowing their fallen Alpha would want his mate safe from danger.

     The beta went the opposite way of the village with several pack mates joining as they fled, including their new Alpha. The forest they had come to call home burned for days before rain finally snuffed out the flames. The old oak at the center was now silent, blackened, and dead with the bodies of the slain wolves turned half to ash at her roots. Red mourned the loss of her mate, her friends, and her home in silence for months, becoming a shell of the bright young woman she had been.

     The pack eventually found a new place to settle and to build themselves a home. The new Alpha, Red’s brother-in-law, took her into his home once they were settled, vowing to protect her and the cub he could scent on her. Even when he took his own mate he kept a place for her. Red stayed with what was left of her family and ended up giving birth to a human girl.

     Her daughter grew with the same love of the natural world around her that her mother had. Red and the pack trained her just as Red herself had been trained so that she would be just as strong as her mother. Eventually though, her daughter felt a strong pull to move on and with her family’s blessing did just that. She traveled with caution, taking in the story that spread of Little Red and her Grandmother being eaten by a Wolf. No matter how much she might want to contradict it, she kept her tongue so she could keep her family safe. She was always on the lookout for word of hunters looking for wolves, but she learned much more than what her mother had taught her. She felt the urge to return, the certainty that is was time to take her mother’s place and about that time she met up with a lone wolf and fell in love.

     This was the beginning of Red’s line, the truth when the stories continued to spread and help cultivate fear. Her line continued, spreading across the globe. Her descendants joined new packs and also walked the world alone, but each generation was just as strong as the first. Her bloodline became a legend itself amongst those that hunted wolves, a fierce and deadly protector that would do anything to protect the pack they bonded with. The Red was considered an even closer confidant than an Emissary and to have a Red was to be held in high regard. Eventually it came to be believed that Red’s bloodline was extinguished by Hunters in their quest to eradicate the wolves. That is until now…

Chapter Text

    A slender frame dances around a simple kitchen while music plays from the iPod docked on the counter. The teen is dressed in jeans and an Ironman t-shirt, bare feet making soft taps on the linoleum as she moves. A messy chestnut bob is pulled out of her face and into a half ponytail at her crown, a few wisps of hair working their way free to frame her slender features. Her amber gaze sparkles with happiness as she works her way around the well-known kitchen.

    Off key singing joins the music as she pulls out pots, pans, and utensils. As each piece is gathered and set on the counter it is accompanied by little shimmies and odd little skips, like there is so much energy trying to escape but her body is fighting which way to go but the girl is unfazed by her own sporadic movements. She then fills a pot with water and sets it to boil on the stove, a box of pasta placed nearby. The young woman does a spin before opening the fridge to pull out ingredients. Once they are safely on the counter she pauses in her dinner preparations to do a small uncoordinated dance, arms flailing and hips swinging, as her favorite part of the song plays. A laugh from the doorway causes her to truly flail and smack her hand on the counter, a yelp of pain leaving her lips. She turns with her gaze focused in a glare at the intruder.

    “How many times do I have to warn you about dancing while cooking?” John Stilinski stands leaning in the door frame, arms crossed loosely over his chest as he watches his only child shake her hand. The smile on his weathered face shines all the way to his bright blue eyes as he teases his daughter.

    “Har, har, very funny, dad. You know I’m normally fine until someone sneaks up on me.” She makes a face at him before turning back to the makings for their dinner.

    “I’m sorry, Stiles, but I couldn’t resist.” He pushes off the frame and walks fully into the kitchen, the smile never leaving his lips.

    “Laugh it up, old man. I was going to let you have bacon, but now I don’t think you deserve any.” She smiles as she hears him swear under his breath.

    “Most kids don’t control what their parents eat, ya know.”

    “And most kids don’t pay near as much attention to their parents’ checkups...it balances.” Stiles is busy chopping as she speaks, scrapping the vegetables into a large bowl as she finishes with them, her back to her father. Her dad has taken the night off and it gives them a chance for much needed family time. She doesn’t see as he childishly sticks his tongue out behind her.

    “Trying a new concoction?” Her father moves closer so he can peek over her shoulder as she speaks and she chuckles.

    “For the record, nosey, it’s not new.” She bumps him with her hip and shakes her head at his ‘oof’. “It’s that pasta salad that I made a couple weeks ago. Remember the one with the chicken?” She hears his hmm of acknowledgement and catches his nod out of the corner of her eye. “I’m just going to add a little bit of bacon to it.” She finishes with the vegetables, placing the dirty dishes in the sink, and then moves over to the stove. The water is at a rolling boil so she adds the pasta to the water and then adds bacon to the skillet. She’ll cook up the bacon first and then use the bacon fat to add a little extra flavor to the chicken.

    “So I still get bacon?” Her father’s obvious excitement makes her laugh and roll her eyes.

    “Yeah, I guess.” Her tone is exasperated but she is still smiling. “Could you set the table while I finish this up?” John does as asked and together they finish dinner with him following Stiles’s instructions. They don’t get many nights that they can sit down to a fresh cooked meal like a family, so they make the most of it when they do. Stiles dishes up their plates and they sit down once their meal is ready.

    Stiles talks about how her classes were going before the break and her plans to continue to get through them now that they are starting back up. This had been something implemented by her mom when she was first diagnosed with ADHD and it had been a lifesaver in managing it. The act of sitting down with her parents and just planning things out helped to organize everything in her brain. It always seemed to help her stay just a bit more focused when she could think back on what either parent had recommended. They had fallen out of the habit for a little while after her mother passed but her father had picked it back up when he had pulled himself back together.

    John talks about station gossip and recent tickets that he has had to issue. They’re laughing over a story about one of the deputies being chased by a dog when the phone rings. He sighs as he puts down his fork and heads to the living room. He knows it’s most likely the station and tries his best not to talk about true work around Stiles. He’d been hoping that no one would end up needing him, but when you are the Sheriff there is always the risk of your plans being interrupted.

    As soon as John is in the living room Stiles jumps up and grabs the receiver on the wall. Curiosity is her weakness, always has been. She listens intently to the conversation and her muscles go tense when she hears the deputy say that a hiker called in about finding half a body on the Preserve. When they explain that it looks like a possible animal attack her blood turns to ice. She hangs up the phone and sits back down, trying to calm her racing heart and act like she wasn’t just listening in. She knows for a fact that there haven’t been any animal attacks in years and there aren’t many animals that could rip a person in half, at least not without being in a group. She thinks back on what she grew up being told about the area as a child but can’t come up with anything that could be the cause.  Stiles zones enough that she almost doesn’t notice her father coming back into the dining room.

    “Judging by your face I’m guessing you were listening in.” He sighs and rubs a hand over his weathered face, debating on if he should waste time with a lecture on how illegal that is since it wouldn’t even be the first time. A soft spoke ‘dad’ has him dropping his hand and looking at his daughter.

    “Do you think the deputy is right? Do you think it was just an animal attack?” He knows the fact that she said ‘just’ should bother him but he knows her fears. There is worry clear in her amber eyes and the crease of her brow. He knows exactly where her mind is going because she is his kid and his is going in the exact same direction. It worries him because he isn’t sure they can handle things if his train of thought is correct.

    “Don’t know yet, kid. I’m afraid we won’t know until we find the rest of the victim and run forensics.” She nods silently at his response. “Can I trust you to stay here and not follow me out to the Preserve?”

    “I was going to sneak over and bug Scott later.” A sheepish look crosses her face and a soft smile tugs at John’s lips. He has been so grateful that Scott came into her life the past few years as he remembers a different house she used to sneak off to.

    “Just promise that you will stay away from the Preserve tonight. I’ll be home as soon as I can.” Stiles jumps up and hugs her dad, burying her face in his shoulder. She nuzzles into him, and old habit taught to her by old friends. John wraps his arms around her and holds her tightly, his own worry about her bleeding into his features.

    “Be safe, dad.” Her voice is muffled but he can still make out what she says.

    “You too, kid.”

 

      It hadn’t taken John long to get into his uniform and go. He debated on grabbing the one clip of special ammo that he kept on hand but decided to leave it behind. He had to be optimistic that this was nothing big, that is was just a freak animal attack. As he headed out the door he stopped to press a kiss to Stiles’s forehead and then he was gone.

       Stiles spent the time cleaning up from their dinner and telling herself that this was just a routine call and everything was going to turn out fine. There was a nagging feeling in the back of her mind and a churning in her gut that told her a lot of things were going to change after tonight. She listened to it briefly and then pushed the feeling down. She’d always been encouraged by both parents to trust her instincts but to not let them overpower her ability to think clearly. Once the kitchen was scrubbed spotless and the leftovers were put away she pulled on her favorite converse and hoodie and was out the door.

    Stiles’s plan had been to park a little ways down from the house, sneak in through Scott’s window, and hopefully scare the pants off her long time best friend. She cut the lights to her beloved Jeep when she knew she was close enough and rolled slowly to a stop. She then gathered her phone and had her hand on the door handle when she noticed another car doing the same thing but coming from the opposite direction as her. It came to a rolling stop directly in front of the McCall home while Stiles was two houses down on the opposite side of the street. The car was black, a nondescript model that everyone and their brother owned. Stiles made sure her phone was ready for her to dial 911 when out climbed the bane of her existence…Jackson Whittemore. It amazed her at times that the two of them used to be friends. She can still remember clearly their friendship shattered and now she hates him with a passion.

    He was with four guys, all of which she recognized from the lacrosse team, If she wasn’t alone, then she would have gone up to confront them and find out what they wanted. Unfortunately even with Scott by her side, five against two were not odds in their favor, especially with Scott’s asthma. Instead she pulled her camera up on her phone and began to record, hoping to get good video without any extra light. If Jackson was going to do something, then this time she’d finally have proof of how much of a bully he had become. It would be her chance to get revenge on every bruise and harsh word that she and Scott had had to endure.

     Jackson motioned to the driver of the car and Stiles watched as they popped the trunk and pulled something out of it. Then Jackson and two of the guys went to the right side of the porch while the other two went left. The two on the left started throwing rocks at the windows. It didn’t take long for Scott to come cautiously out the front door with a baseball bat in hand. Stiles had just enough time to wonder when he got a baseball bat when she saw Jackson and the others come up behind Scott and tackled him to the ground. Too late she realized they were wrapping him up in a sheet and then took his struggling form to the trunk of the car.

     “Nononononononono…” Stiled fumbled with her phone and then with the door handle, trying to get out and get to her friend. She managed to get the door open but her foot caught the edge of the car and she fell out, landing sprawled on the ground with a sharp pain in her chim and watching as Jackson  and his buddies jumped into their car and took off speeding past her. She scrambled to her feet, grabbing her phone and climbing back into the car. She cranked the Jeep, pulled a very illegal U-turn, and hurried to follow. She hit the speed dial on her phone once she was following and did her best to keep the other car in sight.

    “Beacon Hills Sheriff's Station.” Stiles was happy to immediately recognize the voice on the other end of the line.

    “Hey, Tara. This is Stiles. Is my dad there?” Stiles spoke quickly, trying not to sound too nervous, and then cursed when the car ahead of her sped up. She hoped they were too stupid to realize that they were being followed or maybe just too focused on laughing it up.

    “Hey, Stiles! I’m sorry, honey, but he’s on a case right now. Is everything ok?” Her heart sped up as a moment of clarity come over her and she realized which direction the car was headed. There was a fifty-fifty chance that she could be wrong, and she hoped she was, but she didn’t want to risk it.

    “Uh, yeah, everything’s good. Just needed to ask him a quick question. Thank, Tara. I’ll catch up soon. Bye!” She hung up before the deputy could respond and hit the second speed dial on her phone, praying that her father would answer. “Please, please, please…”

    “Sheriff-”

    “Dad! Oh thank god!”

    “Stiles, what’s-”

    “Please tell me you are still on the Preserve. It’s an emergency.” She let all the worry she felt bleed into her voice. She could hear the sounds of barking and people shouting back and forth from over the line.

    “I’m at the home base for the search party. We’re at the north end of the Preserve. You okay?” He heaves a sigh as he thinks of reasons that she would be asking. “Stiles please tell me you and Scott-”

    “I’m fine but I’m pretty sure Scott’s not.” She ignores her father’s attempt to interrupt her  and just barrels on through. The car ahead of her is slowing down and she knows exactly what turn it is about to take, where it is headed. She’s trying to focus on not getting too close and talking to her father at the same time. “I got there just as a group of guys from school did. They lured Scott out, tackled him, and shoved him in their trunk. I’d bet money he is having an asthma attack right now. I’m following them in the Jeep and we’re about to hit the south side of the Preserve.”

    “What?!” John starts barking orders at deputies, telling them to split into two teams. He orders half to stay with the search party and half to head south, explaining that they have a kidnapping situation and a teen with asthma involved. “Stiles stay in the Jeep. I’m sending people to meet up with you guys. Hopefully they’ll catch you at the south entrance.”

    “Dad, we’re already on the south entry road, I can’t stay in the Jeep. They’ve gotten just enough ahead of me that I can barely see their lights and they are flying.  I can catch up with their car and follow them wherever they go from there.”

    “No, absolutely not! You wait for me and the deputies, do you hear me? We still don’t know what go our victim.” The idea of his daughter being out here with the unknown assailant makes him nervous. He heard her frustrated sigh and was reminded so much of her mother in that simple reaction.

    “Dad, I know these woods better than them and anyone on the search party. I also have the spare inhaler with me if he is having an attack.” She could already hear him gearing up to argue when she caught up with the car and found it empty. “Shit.”

    “Stiles?” John’s voice hitches slightly as he waits for her response.

    “I caught up with their car… it’s empty.” She’s already out of the car and looking every direction she can to see any sign of them. “Dad, I have to find him. You and I both know that I am his best chance right now. I’ll find him faster on my own and I’ve got my flare gun with me in the car. I can set one off as soon as I find him.” She pleads with her father over the phone as she gathers the mentioned inhaler and flare gun. She also grabs a flashlight she keeps for emergencies and two extra flares. She’s shoving everything into a simply drawstring bag and just about to close the door to her back seat when she spots some forgotten firecrackers and grabs them and a lighter as well, a plan forming in her head.

    “Alright, alright.” John knows that she will just go ahead and go after him, even if he continues to say no. “Keep your eyes open, pay attention to your surroundings and don’t do anything stupid. Send up that flare as soon as you can. I’m headed to you right now.” She can hear a door slam close and the sound of the car cranking.  She can also hear distant laughter but it’s hard for her to pinpoint which direction it is coming from.

    “Just please hurry.” She hangs up as she hears her father order for an ambulance and then she lets herself take a deep breath. It’s comforting to know that her father is on the way, but she knows he is going to have to follow the vehicle trails. She doesn’t want to risk using the flashlight yet but with the way sound travels in the woods she is having trouble telling what direction to take off in. She doesn’t let herself freak out and instead thinks back to all the times she’s been out here on the Preserve. She thinks back to everything her mother taught her about being out here and finding her way as she slips the bag over her shoulders so that she doesn’t drop it.

    Stiles then closes her eyes and drops to one knee and lets her fingers dig into the soil beneath her feet. With a deep, slow breath in she focuses on Scott and Jackson and on the exhale simply says the word ‘where’. She feels a tug that starts in her mind, pulses down her arms and out through her finger tips that pulls her forward and to the right and she takes off like an olympic sprinter, grateful for the full moon that lights her way. The normally clumsy teen is steady on her feet as she runs through the trees, dodging branches and missing roots with relative ease. She’s in tune with the Preserve even after not being out here as regularly as she used to. She still knows it like the back of her hand and that the direction she is heading leads to a fairly deep drop that could cause some damage if you aren’t careful. As she runs the sounds of laughter and yelling get louder and the tug gets more urgent.

    It doesn’t take long before she catches the sight of a flashlight and she slows down so she doesn’t alert them to her being there. She knows the best plan would be to run full tilt into them, make them drop Scott, but she knows she won’t have the time to take care of him if she does because Jackson and his goons will jump her. The closer she gets the more she can hear Scott’s muffled voice under their taunts. He sounds panicked right now and that’s not good for him. She slows down to a walk as she gets even closer and can now make them out.

    They are stumbling over their feet even with Jackson’s flashlight and she wonders if they are drunk. It’s taking four of them to hold onto Scott’s squirming form and Jackson is the loudest in his taunting as he leads them deeper into the forest. She’s silent as she follows, but she’s moving quickly as she tries to circle around ahead of them so she can chase them away from the drop point.

    Jackson deems that they are far enough away from the car that they won’t be seen and then tells the others to drop their burden. At least he had been smart enough to lead them in a fairly straight line path and it will be easier for them to get back. Stiles watches as Scott struggles with the sheet, his voice getting higher in pitch as he tries to get free. She maneuvers so that she is now facing the way that she just came from and staying out of the flashlight’s range. She can hear Scott’s frantic breathing and Jackson’s cruel taunts about him being a pathetic weakling and she has had enough.

    She crouches down digs through her bag so she can pull out the firecrackers and the lighter. She uses her body to hide the light from sight as she lights one and then chucks it at the group, aiming for a good spot between her and them. It lands just shy of the teens and starts shooting off sparks right after Stiles yells Jackson’s name and sends another flying towards them. She doesn’t wait for a reaction between each firecracker that she sets off, just launches two more to herd them back the way they came and hide her location. The firecrackers get the reaction that she wanted as the five teens start yelling and screaming and take off back towards the cars, leaving a scrambling Scott behind them. She throws a few more in rapid succession as she races towards Scott to continue herding them away.

    “Scottie! Scott, it’s me, it’s Stiles!” She runs forward through the chaos of the firecrackers, skidding to a halt on the ground beside her friend and grabbing him as he flails in attempts to hit his assailant. He lands one good hit on her jaw and Stiles swears as she sees stars but she does not let go. “Calm down, it’s me! I’ve got you.” She drags him over  after getting him untangled so she can sit propped up by a tree, wrapping her arms around his chest. She sits with his back against her chest and plants her left hand over his heart.

    “S-s-s-stiles...c-can’t b-b-breathe…” Scott clings to the arms that are now wrapped around his chest when he realizes that it belongs to his best friend. Stiles pulls one arm away so that she dig through the bag at her side for his inhaler. She lets out a crow of triumph as she wraps her fingers around it and hurriedly presses it to his lips.

    “I’ve got you buddy.” She lets her gaze watch the direction that the bullies ran, making sure that they don’t come back. She’s pretty sure she parked the Jeep in a good location to be overlooked. “Take a deep breath for me, Scott.” She presses down on the inhaler when he does as told, glad to hear the sound of it releasing the medicine. “Hold it...ok, out. Match my breathing. In for four, out for four, ok? Ok, breath in again. In, two, three, four…” She presses down on the inhaler one more time as he breathes in and then lets it fall to the ground next to them. She’ll pick it up when they get out of there. “Hold…and out, two, three, four. That’s good, Scott, keep up the count. In...hold...and out.” She uses the breathing pattern that she is used to for her panic attacks. It’s so different but she is grateful that she at least knows how to handle those. It seems to be helping him but she wants to be sure, remembering an acupressure point that she read about when researching asthma attacks one time. She brings her hand up, searching for a point just above his armpit and puts pressure using just two fingers. She ignores his slight grunt of pain, focusing on keeping the  pressure steady. She’s never been around Scott when he is this far into an attack and she makes a mental note to research more into what to do.

    “Just keep breathing, buddy.” Her eyes are scanning the woods, still mindful of Jackson’s possible return but knowing there is possibly an even bigger predator to worry about. She reaches into her bag to pull out the flare gun and comes out with the flashlight instead. She risks using it to get a better look around them and jumps, a scream leaving her mouth, when she sees a woman’s bloody face several feet away from them. She has to work at calming Scott back down after her scream.

    “What is it?!” He’s struggling in her grip again.

    “It’s ok, it’s ok. I thought I saw something but it’s just a dead squirrel. No big deal, just jumpy me.” She is so glad that he’s never been able to tell when she is lying as she gets him back into the breathing rhythm,

    “Th-thanks, Stiles...I don’t k-know how...you knew t-t-to...be here but...th-thanks.” She can tell he is worn out by the attack and is just grateful he seems ok.

    “Eh, don’t thank me yet. I only knew something was wrong because I was going to try and scare the pants off you myself...just, you know, not this bad.” She is relieved to hear his soft chuckle.

    “Well whatever...you saved me.”

    “Anything for my best bed. Now, I’ve got to signal where we are to my dad.”

    “Your dad?” Before she can do anything, the two teens are startled by a faint rumble that quickly gets louder and is followed by a stampede of deer sprinting past on either side of them. Instinct has her wrapping her body around Scott as a protective shield and pulling them into a tight of a ball as possible. The sound of the animals occasionally colliding into the side of the tree is deafening and has her nerves skyrocketing. “Holy shit! Don’t move, don’t move!” She scrunches her eyes close and prays until the sound stops and then she only cautiously opens one amber eye.

    “What...what the hell… was that?!” Scott’s shaking in her arms as he stares at the fleeing herd. It’s gone dark due to the flashlight being crushed during the stampede.

    “Deer.” She calculates the direction they were coming from and the direction they were going in her head. “I think...I think something must have spooked them...probably all the noise from earlier.” She doesn’t voice that the firecrackers from earlier would have had everything running away from their direction instead of toward them, which means  something scarier sent them back this way. “Okay, Scottie, let’s get us some help.” She finally gets her hand on the flare gun and fires it into the air, aiming for an opening between the tree branches. As the red light blankets their area she does another scan around them and she loads another flare. She sees nothing but the deep growl that comes from behind them has her heart hammering in her chest.

    “Stiles...what was that?” Scott’s voice has gone soft and she can now just make out the faint sound of sirens in the distance.

    “Hey, Scott… can you stand?” She can tell that Scott is confused by her ignoring her question. But she just starts gathering up their things.

    “Yeah, I think so…”

    “Okay, good, awesome even.” She tries to stay calm and help him to his feet. She’s glad to see that he’s in actual pants and not shorts even though he is barefoot and it’s cold out. “We are going to head back to the Jeep now and wait for my dad there, okay? I mean you have got to be cold and you getting a cold would not be good. This way we can have some heat.” She keeps him from looking in the direction of the body and throws his arm over her shoulders so he can lean on her.

    “How does your dad...know to come get us?”

    “I called him on my way here. Like I said, I was outside when Jackson and his goons showed up, so I followed them.”

    “Oh…”

    “After this much excitement, and Jackson being his normal raging douchebag self, are you going to rethink tryouts?” She’s trying her best to keep him from bringing the sound back up, but she can’t stop the crawling on her skin that says they are being watched. She lets him lean all of his weight on her as they walk as quickly as she can make them, doing her best to help him avoid tree roots, ivy, and limbs.

    “I know you think it’s stupid, Stiles, but I’m going to make the team.” Scott’s breathing a little easier, but she wants to get him to a hospital so badly. The faint sound of sirens is getting louder but they still aren’t close enough.

    “You know me, Scottie, stupid things are what I do. I just know you are going to get killed.” Scott opens his mouth to reply but another deep growl has Stiles shushing him before he can respond. She doesn’t move and ignores Scott’s questing look as she tries to listen to another hint of what direction it is coming from. A weight landing on them from behind knocks them to the ground and Stiles rolls to her back, flare gun in hand to scare away whatever is attacking them. She’s hoping it’s a mountain lion but she isn’t sure. A scream to her left has her turning and she sees the hulking form towering over Scott, blood dripping from sharp, gruesome teeth, and dark red eyes staring her down. She recognizes the creature immediately even if it is a twisted perversion of what she grew up with and she feels her heart come to a screeching halt in her chest.

    “NO!” She fires, knowing a flare gun will do nothing more than piss it off, wishing she had something more. Her brain starts racing, half hoping it actually works and half cursing herself for being so defenceless. She’s surprised when the flare seems brighter than what it normally would, as if the thing is more like a tiny fireball instead. The large beast actually flinches and flees, as if avoiding the fire itself and Stiles scrambles to her feet. She hurriedly pulls Scott to his and urges him to run, leading him in the direction of the Jeep. She is in such a state of panic that she doesn’t notice the lights or yells and runs smack into a deputy. The deputy yells for the Sheriff and tries to calm her down but he’s at a loss. Her father is then pulling her into a bear hug as another deputy is walking Scott to the waiting ambulance.

    “Jesus Christ, Stiles, are you alright?” John hasn’t seen his daughter in this state of panic since he walked into his wife’s hospital room and found nurses threatening to sedate her after her mother had passed. He doesn’t feel bad for the obvious worry and concern that he shows,

    “There was something in the woods we found the body and it chased us Scott is hurt…” Her rapid fire rambling comes to a halt at those last three words and then she is tearing herself away from her father and trying to get to her friend. John barely manages to get his hands back on her.

    “The paramedics have him-”

    “No, dad! He can’t go to the hospital!” Stiles is pulling harder, trying desperately to get to Scott.

    “He has to get checked out, Sti-”

    “He was bitten, dad!” The sentence comes out the strangled cross between a scream and a whisper and it takes John one second to actually make out what she just said. There is some much sadness, worry, and panic in her features and it breaks his heart in an instant. Her voice is more composed and a bit quieter but still no less urgent. “There was an Alpha in the woods and it bit Scott…”

    “Are you sure it was an Alpha?” Her nods makes his gut swoop like he’s on a boat and about to be seasick. All the dread he had been feeling settles in the pit of his stomach and he knows the night is only going to get worse. He lets loose a deep sigh before shifting his hands to place on both her shoulders.

    “Stay put. I’ll get Scott and then you can take him straight to Deaton.” Her eyes go wide at the mention of the vet’s name but she just nods. They both know the vet is the best person to help them right now. “I heard the word body…”

    “Yes, sir.” She points back in the direction that they ran from. “I found the other half, just a few feet away from us. Scott didn’t see it.”

    “Ok, just stay here.” Stiles watches as he walks off, interrupting the paramedic to ask questions. Scott looks so small sitting in the back, wrapped in a shock blanket, with an oxygen mask over his face. The blanket is currently doing a fantastic job of hiding the bloody spot on his shirt. She jumps when a hand lands on her shoulder and the other paramedic is wrapping on of the shock blankets around her as well.

    “You okay, Stiles?” She knows she knows the paramedic, but can’t place his name. A wonderful side effect of your best friend’s mom being a nurse at the hospital. She just nods and tries to go back to watching her father. “It looks like you are bleeding.”

    “Huh?” She flinches when the paramedic dabs at her chin and then is touching it herself. She pulls her hand back to find a bit of blood on her fingertips and ends up just staring at it like it is something from another planet for about a minute before her brain kicks back in. “Oh...I fell. I’m okay though.”

    “Come on, let me check you out and make sure.” She hesitates for just a moment but ends up walking back with him. Her father notices her as they walk up and the better lighting finally allows him to see her bloody chin as well.

    “You’re hurt.” His focus is now on his daughter as the paramedic helping Scott is checking his oxygen level.

    “I tripped getting out of the Jeep.”

    “I’m just going to look her over real quick, Sheriff. I want to make sure she doesn’t need any stitches.”

    “Yeah, go ahead.” The paramedic motions towards the back of the ambulance. The spot next to Scott on his bitten side is open, so she sits there in hopes of keeping them from noticing it. She does as she is asked, tilting her head back, letting out a hiss as disinfectant is used to wipe away the dried blood and allow a better look at the wound.

    “Looks like it’s just a nasty scrape. I’m going to get you bandaged up and you’ll be good to go.” She just nods and lets the man work.

    “What about Scott?” The Sheriff’s voice is calm and cool, what Stiles calls his ‘cop voice’.

    “His breathing sounds good and oxygen levels are stable. I’d recommend taking him to the hospital for a full check up though.” The paramedic working on Stiles was finished and she just looked at her father with wide eyes, barely restraining herself from verbally begging that be not be taken to the hospital.

    “How are you feeling, Scott?” John turns his focus to the young man, giving him a once over. He looks a bit pale and feverish, and John is hoping he hasn’t lost too much blood. He’s hoping for the best outcome for tonight. Scott gives him a thumbs up and a lopsided smile.

    “I’m okay, Sheriff, just tired. I’ve had worse attacks than this.” Stiles leans against his shoulder. John is torn. He knows Scott should go to the hospital and get completely checked out, but he can’t risk the bite healing or being rejected while there. Unfortunately he has seen the results of a bite being rejected, he just doesn’t know the signs of it leading up to that. He needs Deaton.

    “Alright, Scott, I’m trusting your judgement this time.” The paramedic nods and then finishes up with Scott. Stiles helps him to standing and starts heading towards the Jeep, letting Scott lean on her. The Sheriff follows behind after speaking a few moments with the paramedics. It’s moments like this that make Stiles very glad that her father and Scott’s mother pretty much made sure everyone knew that the other could make decisions about their kids. When she has Scott far enough away, then she starts asking him questions.

    “Are you sure that you are okay, Scott?” Stiles was petrified, but she didn’t want to show it to Scott.

    “Yeah, I’ll be good after some rest.”

    “You aren’t just saying that to keep from being withheld from tryouts?”

    “No, I’m not. Seriously I’ll be okay. I just don’t want mom to worry.” Stiles dropped it because they reached the Jeep and she was helping him into the passenger side. She watched the paramedics pack up and leave and her dad spoke with the deputies that were with them. He pointed out towards the body and they took off and she assumed it was to secure the scene. That was going to be a mess since that meant he was going to have to get statements from all of the kids. He then turned and made his way towards them. Stiles made sure Scott was buckled and shut the door, walking towards her dad to keep Scott from overhearing them.

    “Dad?” Her voice was soft and childlike in a way it hadn’t been in years.

    “Deputies are taking care of the scene but I’ll have to stay. They two of you will need to provide statements as to everything that happened but that can wait until tomorrow.” Stiles is nodding as he speaks, it all being everything she was expecting. She does pull her phone out of her pocket and hand it to him.

    “I got video of Jackson and the others showing up. That might help with that problem at least.” John is so proud of his daughter for her quick thinking as he takes the phone and pockets it.

    “Thanks, kiddo. I’ll call Deaton once you guys get going.”

    “Ok.”

    “You have to head straight to him and have him call me with whatever results he gets.” Stiles is just nodding and can’t bring herself to speak again. “He’ll be able to help him.”

    “Dad…”

    “He’ll be alright, Stiles. Remember, your mom always said stay positive until you have no other choice.” She nods again. “Now go so we can get him looked after.” He pulls her into a tight hug before pushing her towards the driver’s side of her car. Stiles climbs in and gets it cranked, pulling off and heading towards Deaton’s office. She glances in the rearview to see her father and true to his word he is on the phone. She’s quiet as they drive down the dirt road and remains quiet once they hit the main. She glances at Scott now and again to make sure he is doing ok, but he seems to just be dozing. After the tenth time of her doing so Scott finally speaks up.

    “I’m ok, Stiles, I swear. Stop freaking out.” His voice is scratchy and he sounds exhausted but nothing worse than that at the moment.

    “I can’t help it man. I mean you got kidnapped by the King of Narcissism and then we get chased! I’m allowed to freak out a little bit!” She’s been speeding to hurry up and get them to Deaton and she has to hit the brakes suddenly because she is about to miss the turn she needs.

    “Whoa, Stiles! Slow down!” Scott braces himself on the dashboard at the sudden deceleration.

    “Sorry.” She tries to focus a little more on the road but her brain is going in a thousand different directions. She hasn’t spoken to Deaton in years, has avoided going to Scott’s work on purpose, and now she is having to turn to him for help. The two teens remain quiet as they continue on their ride but Scott perks up when he realizes they aren’t anywhere near their houses.

    “Stiles?” Scott looks around as if he’s never been down that street before.

    “Hmm?” She can see the vet’s building just down the road and his car is sitting right outside the back door.

    “Why are we at Deaton’s?” He is sporting what Stiles calls his confused puppy face

    “Uh… well he needs to take a look at you.” She pulls her baby up next to Deaton’s car and Scott is just staring at her. She's racking her brain trying to come up with a decent excuse and she's so thankful when an idea does pop up.

    “Why?”

    “I know you got bit, Scott. I also know you didn't say anything because of tryouts. Well, I told dad and he said get Deaton to look at it to see if he could tell us what it was and make sure there isn't a risk of rabies.. I thought it was a mountain lion but dad wants to be sure.” She's looking him straight in the eye as she speaks and she is surprised by how steady her voice is.

    “Oh.” Scott is slightly wide eyed as he looks back at her. ‘But isn't he going to say something?” Stiles just shakes her head.

    “Dad said he was going to talk with him while we headed over. If it looks serious, he will send us straight to the hospital. If not, he will help clean it up and send us home.”

    “Ok, dude.” Scott seems satisfied and Stiles lets out a deep breath. She unbuckles and climbs out before Scott can say anything else.

    “I'm going to let Deaton know we are here. Stay put until I get back.” The driver side door shuts with a creaky squeal, leaving Scott unable to respond without yelling and he's just feeling too tired to do so. Instead he leans his head back against the seat and decides to just rest a moment. Stiles watches him briefly before turning sharply and heading to Deaton’s back door.

     She's nervous, hands shaking and steps unsteady, as she heads towards that plain black door. The last time she'd been here had been with her mom before she was hospitalized. There had been a fight between them, but she had never been able to figure out what it had been about. She’s hesitant as she raises her fist to knock on the back door, unsure of what type of welcome she will receive, but she steels herself and lets her knuckles rap on the heavy duty steel three times. The sound echos in the dark alley and Stiles lets out a shaky breath. She looks back  towards Scott still in the Jeep and she isn’t liking how his head is tilting slightly to the side. She’s so focused on him that the sound of the door coming open makes her jump.

    “Holy shit!” Her hand comes to rest on her heart as she whirls back to the door and she gives a sheepish grin to the quiet vet who is now watching her.

    “Miss Stilinski.” His dark eyes regard her in a way that makes her feel like she is five and got caught with her hand in the cookie jar. Deaton, however, feels like he is looking at a ghost. He’s caught glimpses of her around town, how could he not, but he hadn’t actually realized how much she was becoming the spitting image of Claudia. He can see the nervousness and fear which are understandable based on the brief conversation with the Sheriff, but he can also see strength underneath.  “Where is Mr. McCall?”

    “Uh, he’s in the Jeep. I figured it would be best to talk to you first and then bring him in.” She runs a hand across the back of her neck, a nervous habit of hers that she’s never quite been able to stop.

    “Very wise choice. Your father said that you saw an Alpha on the Preserve tonight?” His voice is soft and steady and he’s speaking the way she imagines he would to an injured cat or dog.

    “Yeah, saw him kinda up close and personal. It bit Scott and neither of us know how to tell if it will take or not.” The if he will live goes unspoken.

    “I see. And you are sure it was an Alpha?” At that question, Stiles’s worried gaze turns almost murderous.

    “I know what an Alpha looks like. No, it didn’t look normal, but I know what I saw.” Her spine straightens as she speaks and Deaton raises his hands in a placating gesture.

    “I’m sorry, Miss Stilinski, but I had to be sure. Bring Scott in, I’ve got everything ready.” He turns at her nod and Stiles is left to calm her anger. How dare he ask if she was sure! No, she hasn’t seen a werewolf in ten years, but damn it she knows what she’s talking about! She makes it over to the passenger door and it looks like Scott is asleep. Through the window she can see that he has a sheen of sweat on his forehead, like he has a fever, and it makes her concern bump up a notch.

    “Hey, Scott!” She her voice is slightly raised to get his attention as she knocks on the window and on any other occasion she would laugh when he jumps. It takes him a moment to gain his bearings and Stiles makes a mental note about disorientation. “Doc’s ready for you.” She helps the half dazed teen out of her car and lets him lean on her as they walk in. Passing under the doorway she feels what she can only describe as a question touch pass over her skin. The combined protections of Deaton’s clinic seem to be testing her and she just smiles at the familiarity once it settles. Deaton is already standing next to the exam table, a couple odd jars on a nearby counter.

    “Good evening, Mr. McCall.” Scott just nods and gives off a half wave.

    “Hey, Deaton.” Stiles helps balance him as he takes a seat on the table, hating how fragile he is starting to seem.

    “I’m told you got into a bit of situation out on the Preserve.” He’s still speaking with that well controlled tone of voice and it’s starting to get on Stiles’s nerves.

    “Not our fault, at least not this time.” He gets his usual goofy grin as he speaks and the vet just shakes his head.

    “I was also informed about that. How about letting me take a look at this bite, hmm?” Stiles braces Scott as he leans a little too far to the left while lifting his shirt on the right side. The bite looks huge, like it takes up half his torso. The teeth marks are jagged as if the beast had planned on just ripping him open instead of biting him and then just changed its mind. Deaton is steadily wiping away dried blood and ignoring Scott’s indications of pain. “You’re lucky, Scott. This could have gone very differently.”

    “Uh huh.” His eyes are droopy as the vet continues to work.

    “No lasting damage, most likely a scar.” He’s using some cotton swabs to gather samples in and around the wound. “But overall I think you will be just fine.” Stiles’s eyes go wide at the vet’s words. He’s already starting to bandage everything up. “Keep it clean and dry, change the bandage a few times a day, starting in the morning, and let one of us know if anything seems odd about the wound.”

    “No stitches? What about rabies?” Scott sounds like a mixture of being relaxed and concerned.

    “Stitches wouldn’t do much with this right now. And I’ve taken some samples to check for rabies. I’ll get started on the bloodwork first thing.” He’s placed the final strip of medical tape and is now reaching for a small flashlight. “I know the paramedics most likely did a wonderful job checking you over, but I’d like to do so myself. He starts by checking each one of Scott’s eyes. Seemingly satisfied he continues, grabbing a tongue depressor. He takes a moment to look all inside Scott’s mouth before nodding. Then he set’s the instruments aside and pulls the stethoscope from around his neck. He listens closely Scott takes deep breaths in and out, followed by checking his pulse, reflexes, and temperature. “Everything is looking good for you, Scott. Rest in here a moment. I’m going to gather up some supplies to send with the two of you.”

     “Thanks, doc.” Stiles follows Deaton out of the room and into the stockroom.

    “Spill.” Stiles is standing with arms crossed and a stern look on her face.

    “He’s showing no signs of rejection, Stiles.” He’s watching the teen, bracing himself for the oncoming barrage of questions. Stiles just takes a deep breath and lets her arms fall to her sides.

    “How do you know?” Deaton stands silently waiting for her usual flood and only speaks when nothing else is forthcoming.

    “It’s been roughly an hour, correct? Including time you were bitten, time with the paramedics, and time here?” He waits for her nod and then continues. “We would see the starting signs of rejection by now. For the moment, he is injured, sore, and tired. I would not be surprised if the bite is gone by tomorrow.”

    “But how do you know?” Stiles throws her hands up in frustration. “What are the signs? No one ever told me what to check for!”

    “Stiles…” Deaton reaches forward, placing his hands on her shoulders much like he used to when she would get frustrated as a child at the lack of explanation. A person rejecting the bite, however, is not something that he wants to explain in vivid detail “You would know if Scott was rejecting the bite. Most times it starts happening a lot quicker, but an hour is the longest I’ve ever seen it take. Scott is currently showing an elevated temperature, like his body is fighting off an infection. It won’t stop it, and he will turn, but he will live. In rejection, his body starts to physically try to expel the infection, not just fight it, and as I said you will never doubt what’s going on when it happens. I will not spell out every detail and step because I pray that you never have to witness it. Just know that it is not pretty.” His dark eyes hold her lighter ones while he speaks, wishing for her to understand that he isn’t just withholding information. He is glad when Stiles simply nods.

    “Ok.” She takes a step back from Deaton and rubs at the goosebumps that have popped up on her arms.

    “Now…” He turns and grabs gauze, medical tape, and antibiotic ointment, placing them in a bag and handing them to her. “Take these for him to use in the morning. If my hunch is correct, the bite will shrink by morning and be gone by the afternoon. Take him home and get some rest.” Stiles takes the bag with a quiet thank you and then heads out to get Scott. Deaton watches her through the storeroom window as she steadies the boy and then leads him outside. Once they are out of sight his gaze shifts to an old package high up on a shelf. The old brown paper is covered in dust, but he knows that it is intact. He’s put off taking it to the Stilinski household but with the appearance of a new wolf in town, then maybe the time has come.

 

    By the time she makes it back to her house, Stiles is near the point of breaking. Scott had pretty much turned into dead weight and she had to support him all the way inside and up the stairs. She managed to get him to change and then crawl into bed before he fully passed out which had been an accomplishment. After using Scott’s phone to text her father that she was headed home she now is just sitting in the driveway, not ready to get out of the car. The house is empty and she doesn’t want to be alone. Every fiber of her being is screaming that this is just the beginning of something bigger and she isn’t sure she is ready for it.

    She does talk herself into heading inside but doesn’t bother with any lights. She walks straight to the fridge and is reaching for a cold bottle of water when she notices Scott’s blood on her hands. She can’t even remember how it got there. She spins from the fridge and moves to the sink where she turns the water on as hot as she can and then she starts to scrub. The shaking in her hands gets worse and she doesn’t even realize the wheezing sound is her own breathing. Her heart is racing faster than a jackrabbit as her legs turn to jelly underneath her. She’s barely able to keep herself from slamming her head into the counter as she crumbles to ground, but she manages and ends up in a tight little ball fighting to breathe. Tears flow freely as every fear and worry takes over completely for the first time since she arrived at Scott’s. Her vision has faded almost completely to black when she feels the world tilt once more.

    There is a feeling of comfort as arms wrap around her and her head is placed so that her ear rests over a solid heartbeat. It’s fast with concern but slow compared to hers. Her long fingers grip onto something cold and metal and they ache with the pain of holding onto it so tightly. A gentle noise works its way through the roar in her ears and she latches onto that sound. It slowly pulls her up from the depths of her panic, gives her a buoy against the waves.

    “It’s okay, kochanie, I’ve got you.” Her father’s strong voice finally breaks through the fog and hearing the simple Polish endearment makes her cry even harder. “Listen to my heart, focus on it, follow my breathing.” She does her best to do as he instructs, starting of with short, broken, strangled breaths. With his guidance though, it’s like her lungs finally release, allowing for deeper and more rewarding intakes of air. “That’s it, kochanie, that’s it. Just breathe, just breathe.” He sits with her floor, rocking her in his lap even though she is much too big for it anymore, and guiding her through her breathing exercises.

    “You back with me, kiddo?” He keeps his voice low and soft, careful not to trigger her right back into the attack. He sighs when she nods. “How about some water?” He holds the bottle to her lips after another nod and helps her drink in tiny sips.

    “Thanks…” Her throat is sore and her voice hoarse from crying and she is in no rush to move.

    “Want to tell me what triggered this?” He’s no longer rocking her but he’s still holding her tightly. That was one thing it had taken him a while to learn with her attacks, that she liked to be held closely by someone she trusted, but with the help of family friends he had and was better able to help her through them.

    “Scott’s blood… it was on my hands when I reached for water…” John just nods and lets his head fall back against the cabinet.

    “He going to be ok?” He doesn’t get a response for a few moments and does his best to squash the worry from building back up.

    “Deaton says he’s turning… that he isn’t rejecting it.”

    “Well that is the better of the two options.” He smiles when he hears his daughter snort and he hugs her tighter. He feels her peel her hand from the badge on his shirt and he’s hoping she hasn’t hurt herself. “So what do we do?”

    Stiles thinks about the question. What do they do? Scott is turning, so they will have to explain what he has become, but how? They don’t have anyone to help with that area. Deaton will back up that they aren't crazy, but it’s not proof. And what about the Alpha? This stranger in Beacon Hills? Stiles knows it has to be a stranger because no one from Beacon Hills would have attacked some random teen. The whole situation makes her heart ache with grief and longing. She takes a slow and steady deep breath before shifting herself from her father’s lap.

    “Deaton says we wait. The change should be finished by tomorrow sometime and then we’ll start to see his actual changes.” John’s nodding as his daughter speaks. “What about the Alpha?” It’s John’s turn to ponder on their plan.

    “For now we wait and see.” Stiles agrees with her father. They can't really do anything until they know if this was just a random occurrence or if the unfamiliar creature will stay and be a problem. “Come on, kiddo.” John helps Stiles to her feet and pulls her into a hug. He places a kiss to her forehead and then walks her towards the stairs.

    “Try not to worry too much right now. You've got school tomorrow and you've got a statement to make.” Stiles groans. She'd hoped to be able to skip, but she knew she'd have to keep an eye on Scott. She's not too upset about being able to make a statement against Jackson though. “Go, sleep.”

    She waves to her dad as she heads up the stairs, suddenly exhausted. She bounces off the wall a few times before finally making it to the top and into her room. She doesn't take time to change, just falls face first onto her bed. The moon is high in the sky outside her window and the light shines gently on her. Her sleep is plagued by the many tangents of thought that plague her brain, but she is blissfully unaware of the glowing red eyes that keep watch outside.

Chapter Text

    The sound of her alarm going off is jarring and startles the young woman so much that Stiles falls out of her bed with a thud. She lays there for a moment, just staring at her ceiling, contemplating on if she could possibly snooze right where she is for a few more minutes when she actually sees her clock and freaks out. She’s overslept and has to perform a mad dash to get ready.

    She takes the quickest shower on the face of the planet which includes brushing her teeth, followed by throwing on whatever smells clean from the pile of clothes on the floor next to her bed. She’s managed to get her hair to a point that it’s not dripping but doesn’t have the time to blow it dry, instead leaving it to dry in it’s normal unruly and wavy pattern. There is a brief debate in her head on if she wants to even attempt the disaster that is her and makeup but another quick look at the clock tells her that is a hopeless cause and she’s racing out her bedroom door. She trips on the last step of the stairs just as her father comes from the kitchen and he manages to keep her from face planting on the floor.

    “Whoa, slow down kiddo.” John looks his daughter over as he helps her set herself to rights and his brow creases when he notices the slight bruising in her jaw and he can see the ugly scrape on her chin in full morning light.

    “Sorry, dad, running late.” She continues her whirlwind path into the kitchen where she chugs some juice straight from the carton and then grabs a pop tart from the box in the cabinet.

    “Stiles, you’re early.” He’s watching her from the doorway. He knows she is worried about Scott, but even he won’t be there yet.

    “No, I’m late. Early for school, I know, but I late for me.” She pushes past her dad and drops down on the bottom step to slip on her Converse.  She nods to her bookbag which is sitting next to the front door. She’d packed it up earlier in the day yesterday and now she was even happier to have done so. “I’ve got some deliveries to make.” This catches her father’s attention.

    “Deliveries? Your mom’s old home remedies?” Not long after Claudia had passed he had come across an old journal of hers filled to the brim with home medicines and tonics. She had something for everything in there: burns, cuts, scrapes, bruises, sore throat, the sniffles, you name it she had it. He’d given it to Stiles because he knew there was no way he would make heads or tails of it, but she would love it. She’d dived head first into it once she realized they were almost out of the cream that Claudia always kept for the bruises their accident prone child could get and had just continued from there.  Stiles just nods to him as she continues fighting with her shoe. “For the person whose name you refuse to give me?” She pauses and looks up.

    “Dad, I told you, I can’t tell you who it is. I barely get them to let me do this for them.” She turns back to her shoes, jumping up once she has them on and laced tightly. “I can’t break their trust in me just to get the results I want.” She stands there facing him and  John sighs.

    “I know, kiddo. I get it, I do, I just know they are in trouble and I want to help.”

    “I know, but until they give me the go ahead to bring you in, I can’t. I gave my word.” John nodded and caved at that point. One thing he understood was once Stiles gave her word, that was it. Nothing could make her go against it unless it was life or death and even then it was tough to figure out what she would do. Her mother had been the same. Stiles smiles when she realizes that her dad really does get it and gently picks up her bag.

    “Oh, before you go…” He reaches into his back pocket and pulls out her phone handing it over to a very happy Stiles.

    “I wasn't sure I would get it back today. Did you get what you needed off it? Was it useful?”

    “Yeah, we got the video transferred off late last night. We are working on seeing if there is anything useable on it today. Expect a visit at the school at some point.” Her eyebrow raises as she looks at her father.

    “Ruling out suspects?”

    “That and questioning about the prank.”

    “Are you allowed to question me about that? Or will someone else?”

    “I’ll be asking some questions about what all you saw or may have touched involving the crime scene. Tara will be questioning you about the actual prank. I’ve got a feeling that most of the parents will want to rule their kids out as possible murder suspects that they may encourage them to talk.” Stiles just nods in agreement.

    “Understandable. So… does me getting this back so quickly mean I can call you if something furry happens?” She shakes the phone in the air as she speaks. Her plan had been to possibly avoid thinking about Scott until she had no other choice but she knew that was not her best idea to have,

    “Actually that is exactly why I wanted you to have it. I’m going to swing by Deaton’s with some evidence I need him to look over and also going to pick up some tranquilizers, just in case. You call me if anything goes wrong and I’ll come help out, got it?”

    “Yeah, got it. Well I better go.” She gives her dad and quick hug and a peck on the cheek and then she races out the door. John watches her leave, shaking his head when she trips right before getting into the Jeep. He’d promised his wife before her illness got too bad that he would take care of their little girl. Now he feels like that’s being taken out of his hands as a world he had hoped she would never be pulled into seems to be racing headlong towards them,

 

    Stiles pulls into the parking lot of the school to find it still mostly empty. She is relieved in a way because she needed to get there early but it also means there isn’t much to distract her from her own thoughts. She stares out at the school, bracing herself for the day. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath to calm her nerves and a quiet prayer for her mother’s guidance leaves her lips before she finally pushes open the door. She is careful with her book bag, making sure it is secure on her shoulder before heading inside. She sends Scott a quick text, letting him know she has her phone back and making sure he is going to be there, before she starts her plan for the day. She wasn’t lying when she said she had a delivery to make.

    She’s humming to herself as she walks the halls of Beacon Hills high school. Her amber gaze scans the locker numbers quickly, absent mindedly nodding to the occasional teen she passes, and she smiles at finding the one she is looking for. Her thin fingers are quick with the combination, having memorized the code as soon as it was provided for her. Once it’s open, she frowns slightly at the plainness of it. No pictures, no personalization, but she didn’t really expect anything different. It hadn’t ever changed. She shakes her head because it’s not up to her and then digs through her bag. She pulls out a simple black box wrapped in grey ribbon. There is a note attached that simply says to use as usual. She debates on adding that her usual offer stands but decides against it. She doesn’t want to push. She closes the door, making sure it's locked, and heads down another hall. She locates her own locker this time and makes sure she has the books she needs for the first couple classes. The halls are still fairly empty as she heads to the library.

    Her phone goes off just as she is about to walk through the library doors. She’s distracted by the text she has just received from Scott and ends up being knocked to the floor as the door swings open. She hits the floor, her phone sliding across the tiles, and she curses her ever present clumsiness. She’s looking for her phone when it gets held in front of her face. She stares at it blankly for a moment and then lets her gaze shift up, following the arm attached, until she is looking at the face of the person standing there. Her eyebrows raise when she sees who it is.

    “This yours?” The voice is soft, soothing even in those two words, though not quite as deep as she thought is was. The guy is hunched in on himself slightly, almost as if he is trying to make himself seem smaller than his broad shouldered frame really is.

    “Uh, yeah, thanks.” Stiles takes the phone and then manages to bring herself to standing. “Boyd, right?” She glances at him through the corner of her eye as she checks to make sure that she hasn’t dropped anything else. She can’t help but notice the slight surprise at her recognition of him, but acknowledges his now. “Sorry about my attempt of turning into a pancake using your body to do so… I really need to watch where I am going more often.” She gives a sheepish laugh and scratches at the back of her head. It’s always easy to make fun of herself to other.

    “No problem.” Boyd shoves his hands into his pockets and just looks at the smaller teen. He knows who she is, everyone does. She’s hard to miss or ignore with her loud outbursts, unending rambling, and continuous flailing and she is definitely not one of the popular kids because of it. He’s never really talked with her before. He feels awkward just standing there but feels like he shouldn’t just walk away.

    “Still…” She’s seen him sitting by himself, mostly at lunch but around campus as well, and briefly wonders if he has any friends. She feels sad at the thought of him being lonely. Maybe he’d want to sit with her and Scott, or maybe she should introduce him to some of her other friends. “Sorry to cut this short, but I need to get in there and meet up with a friend. You want to join us?”

    “Scott’s not in there.” He doesn’t think before he speaks and is already pointing over his shoulder towards the door he was walking out of. He’s slightly startled by her laugh.

    “Yeah, no. Scott’s not at school yet. I actually do have other friends besides him.” Her smile is bright as she thinks about her small circle of friends. “I haven’t really been able to catch up with anyone, so I made plans to meet up before classes start since we don’t share any this semester.”

    “I’ll pass.” Stiles shrugs at his response.

    “Alright then. Maybe you could join me and Scott for lunch some time. Catch ya later, Boyd.” She steps past him without giving him a chance to say no and hustles into the library.  She scans the room, her smile growing ever brighter as she spots who she was looking for. “Long time no see, Goldilocks!” Boyd stands there dumbstruck as he watches the door swing shut behind her and hears the librarian scold her for her noise. He feels like he was just caught in the center of a whirlwind and is left trying to get his bearings.

    Stiles takes time catching up with her friend, finding out how they did over the break and if she missed anything exciting. She’s happy by their reaction when she pulls out another simple box wrapped in grey ribbon. It’s a text from Scott saying that he’s there that has her finally standing and bidding farewell, along with a promise of more time together later in the week. She finds Scott in front of his locker and nearly knocks him into it as she barrels into him and hugs him.

    “Jesus, Stiles!” Scott does his best to sound upset but he’s smiling at his friend's antics. “I know you normally run into lockers all the time, but you don’t have to make me do it. I’m injured enough already.” He shoves at her until she lets him go.

    “Sorry, sorry. I was just worried about you after last night. I wasn’t even really sure you were going to be here.” She leans against the lockers as Scott finishes gathering his books.

    “Yeah, mom tried to get me to stay home but I didn’t want to miss ou-”

    “On tryouts, I know. You mentioned that last night too. Dud, how are you even going to make it through tryouts with a massive bite mark on your side?”  She does her best to keep her voice down, but Scott’s single mindedness  can sometimes drive her insane.

    “It’s not massive, Stiles, it must have just looked worse last night.”

    “Hey, I was there when Deaton was looking over it. I know how big that thing is.”

    “I’m telling you it’s not that bad. It’s sore, yeaah, but I’ll live.” He’s shouldering his pack and closing his locker so they can head to class.

    “Let’s see it then.” She tries to stay her normally curious self but inside she just desperately wants to see if she sees any difference from last night.

    “Like right now?” Scott is looking at her like she’s crazy, but that isn’t so unusual. It’s the same look he gave her when he found out she wrote an essay on male circumcision for Econ.

    “Why not? We have time, and I can prove I’m not remembering it wrong.” She crosses her arms over her chest and just stares at him, daring him to tell her no. Scott shook his head knowing that if he doesn’t do it willingly then she will just try lifting his shirt herself. He looks around to make sure no one is paying attention, like anyone ever does to them, and lifts the fabric. She could be so stubborn at times. He then gently peels back the bandage so he’d be able to replace it.  It had been a pain getting it clean this morning. The bite is about half the size from the night before, two very small scabbed over indentions and some bruising on either side of his midsection.

    “See, I told you it wasn’t that bad.” Scott looks slightly smug but is confused by Stiles look of concern.

    “Whatever, dude. It looked a lot bigger last night.” The bite is healing rapidly, just like Deaton said. He seems fine, as healthy as he normally is. So it’s confirmed, no rejection.

    “Did Deaton say what he thinks bit me? I never got a look at it, just felt it pounce and then pain.” Stiles swallows nervously and scratched her head.

    “Uh, he said it might be a mountain lion, caught us when chasing those deer we saw. Won’t know until he has the chance to analyse the blood samples that he took and check for saliva.”

    “A mountain lion? Oh wow.” Stiles is just nodding along as her friend processes her lie, but Scott’s next words stop her cold. “I was beginning to think it might have been a wolf.”

    “A wolf?”

    “Yeah. I could have sworn I heard one as we were leaving the Preserve last night.” Stiles is racking her brain to try and remember, but no, she hadn’t heard a howl as they left. Had she been too focused on everything else? Or had Scott heard it from farther away than was possible for her to hear?

    “Not a chance, Scott.” She shoves at him lightly and then starts walking towards their first class.

    “Did you not hear it?” Scott falls in line next to his best friend, questioning her reaction.

    “Nope and I’m pretty sure if you did hear a wolf, then you were hallucinating.”

    “Why do you say that?”

    “Because California doesn’t have wolves.” At least not normal ones . “There haven’t been any wolves out here in like 60 years.”

    “Seriously?”

    “Seriously, dude. One of the many random facts I’ve learned thanks to insomnia, adhd, and too much adderall.” She pats him on the back, glad that he is so used to the random facts that float around in her head.

    “Dude, how do you keep up with all that stuff?” He watches her as she just shrugs but then both of their attention is caught by Jackson Whittemore. “Is your dad going to do anything about him and the others?”

    “Yep. Got some evidence off my phone to use against him. Don’t be surprised if you get called out of class to go talk to him.”

    “Wait, he’s coming up here to handle it?” Scott’s gaze shifts quickly to focus on the girl at his side. “Today?”

    “Yeah, dude. Dad’s got no choice.”

    “But tryouts!”

    “Dude, Jackson dumped you in the middle of a crime scene! He has to talk to us today to rule us out as suspects. It’s just a bonus that Jackass might finally get what he deserves.”

    “That’s really cool and all, but… wait… what?”

    “What, what?” Stiles stands there staring at him wide eyed, unsure of why he is confused.

    “Crime scene? What crime scene?”

    “Oh… that what… so, uh, yeah… Dad was investigating a body that was found on the Preserve. They brought in State Police and everything.”

    “A dead body?”

    “No, Scott, a body of water. Of course it was a dead body. That’s the only time they call it a body. If they were looking for a person it would have been a missing person/lost hiker search.” She resists the urge to smack him upside his head. She loves him dearly, but she questions if there is an actual brain up there sometimes.

    “You mean like murdered? Were they looking for the killer? Are you saying we could have died?”

    “I don’t know. All I know is dad got called out because two joggers reported find half a bod-”

    “Half?!”

    “-y and they were out searching for the other half.” Stiles continues on despite Scott’s outburst. “We just happened to find the other half while you were having an asthma attack.”

    “Wait… we found the body?”

    “Well, I did. You were kinda focused on breathing.” She can tell that Scott is trying to figure out when they found the body and she watches as the light bulb clicks.

    “You said it was a dead squirrel!” Scott’s outburst brings a few disgusted looks their way, but Stiles is so used to it, that she doesn’t even flinch.

    “Would you rather I have said ‘Oh it’s nothing, Scott, just a woman’s lifeless eyes staring back at me, it’s ok’ would that have been better?”

    “No… I’m gonna have nightmares for a month.” He shudders at the thought of being so close to a dead person.

    “At least you didn’t see her.” And Stiles is telling the truth. She hadn’t really been able to make out the young woman’s face but she remembers her eyes and the fact that they were so void. They’d haunted her in her dreams last night. “Anyway, so dad has to rule all of us out as suspects. It’s just a bonus that Jackson is going to get what’s coming in the process.”

    “This is not awesome Stiles. This is the opposite of awesome.” Scott is obviously worried about what this is going to mean for him and lacrosse tryouts and Stiles can’t help but roll her eyes at him.

    “Oh, come on, Scott. This is freakin’ awesome. I mean, this is seriously gonna be the best thing that’s ever happened to us, since forever.” Stiles’s attention gets caught by the figure that is walking towards them. “Oh, hey Lydia. You look- like you’re gonna ignore me… again.”

    “Why do you even keep trying, dude?” Scott throws his arm around her shoulders and starts herding her towards class. Stiles just shrugs as she falls in step once more.

    “One day she will speak to me.” She knows her friend and everyone in the school thinks she is in love with the Queen Bee that is Lydia Martin. The truth is, she isn’t, but it’s just easier to let everyone believe she is.

    Stiles and her used to be some of the closest of friends, almost as close as her and Scott. There had been many times that you could find the two of them huddled together over some book just for the sake of learning. Then Lydia had decided popularity was more important and Stiles came to no longer existed in the red head’s circle. This was about the same time that Jackson turned into the number one douche bag on the planet. She really misses her friend. The bell for class startles her out of her thoughts and she does her best to smile.     

    “Come on before we are late to class.” She motions for Scott to go ahead of her and focuses on her phone. Luckily they have the same first period so she can just keep him in her line of sight while she walks. Hopefully he will keep her from running into anyone or anything. She shoots off a few rapid fire texts to her dad explaining that she’s seen the bite and that it is healing. They make it to their English class and Stiles takes the seat right next to Scott. She’s watching him now as the rest of their classmates file in. She sees him flinching but can’t tell what causes it.

    “As you all know, there indeed was a body found in the woods last night.” Scott and Stiles turn towards each other and she swears Scott turns green. “And I am sure your eager little minds are coming up with various macabre scenarios as to what happened. But I am here to tell you that the police have a suspect in custody,” Stiles’s curiosity is peaked and her brow creases in thought. Why didn’t her dad tell her they had a suspect this morning? “Which means you can give your undivided attention to the syllabus which is on your desk outlining this semester.” She turns back to Scott but he is zoning out while staring out the window. She tries to see what has his attention but again nothing.

    The classroom door opens and Scott hones into it like a hunting dog. The vice principle is bringing in a new student. She looks to be about the same height as Stiles, with long dark hair and the cutest dimples when she smiles. One look at Scott tells her that he is smitten and Stiles can’t stop the eye roll because this girl is so out of his league. She’s probably going to be hanging with the popular kids by lunch.

    She’s not really paying attention to the new girl’s name until she hears the last name Argent. She knows that name very well; her mother had drilled it and others into her at a very young age. She watches as the new girl, she thinks her name is Alice, takes the seat behind Scott and he turns and offers her a pencil without any prompting. He gets a goofy smile on his face when she thanks him and Stiles almost literally smacks her head against her desk. She must have the shittiest luck in the world for an Argent to start school the day after Scott gets bitten by the first Alpha to be in the area in six years. Stiles just wants to crawl into a whole and hide away for the rest of her life. Unfortunately she’s not allowed to wallow in her self pity because the door opens again. It’s the vice principle again, but this time she can see her father, a couple deputies, and two boys from the lacrosse team, Travis and Boone.

    “Miss Stilinski, Mr. McCall… come with me please.” Scott looks at her nervously, but Stiles just gathers her books and follows the man out. The deputies greet her and Scott warmly and the two teens glare. They make another stop to pick up Jones from the team and then a second to pick up Jackson and Thomas. The look Jackson gives them is enough to kill. The seven teens are silent as they follow the vice-principal back to the office and into a conference room.

    Inside they are greeted by five sets of angry looking parents. Melissa McCall is in her scrubs, either going to or coming from work. The only other parent that she recognizes is Mr. Whittemore from the many times he has been in her dad’s office while she visited him. Each teen goes to their respective parent, with the exception of Stiles who goes to sit with Scott and his mom. Once everyone is seated, her dad steps forward and addresses the teens.

    “I apologize for the need to pull everyone out of class and am hoping to get you all back as quickly as possible. I’ve already spoken to each of your parents why you are here and have been given permission to speak with each one of you.” He’s interrupted by Whittemore senior.

    “And what about your own kid, Stilinski?” Every other parent nods, except Melissa who glares at the attorney.

    “I will be in there as her father. My deputies are actually going to be the ones conducting the interviews with all the teens. Now, may I please finish explaining why they are all here?” Whittemore says nothing and so her father continues. “As each of you has probably heard, there was a body located on the Preserve last night. We have reason to believe that each one of you was on the Preserve and may have inadvertently been at the crime scene.” It’s Travis’s turn to interrupt.

    “I wasn’t at the Preserve and I sure as hell didn’t see no body.” His parents scold him on his language and shush him, motioning for the Sheriff to continue.

    “No one is saying you have anything to do with the body that was found. In fact I wholeheartedly believe that you had absolutely nothing to do with our victim. Unfortunately, we have a very valid reason to believe you were there, within the vicinity of the crime scene, and we have to rule each one of you out as suspects. Afterword I would like all of us to have a nice chat together right back in here.” He watches the nervous fidgeting of each teen and the looks of disapproval from the parents. Melissa looks murderously at the other teens and young Whittemore is giving the same look to Stiles and Scott. He lets everything sink in for a moment and goes back to addressing the parents. “Are you all still in agreeance with this?”

    “Let’s get this over with, Sheriff.” Of course it’s Whittemore to speak up. He knows the man is trying to plot how to get around the video that was shown to them, but they have proof and each parent identified their child on the video. Boone’s parents even went as far as to identify their car, which they had lent to their son for him to go to the movies.

    “Alright. Mr. Whittemore, how about you and your son go first?” Jackson stands alongside his mother and father, a haughty smirk on his face thanks to his assurance that he will be let go without a mark against him. The trio follows the Sheriff out of the room and towards another conference room where another deputy is waiting. As soon as the others are out of the room, each teen starts questioning their parents, including Scott though his are a little different.

    “So, how mad are you?” He ducks his head trying not to see the look on his mother’s face.

    “Mad? No, I’m furious.” Both Stiles and Scott flinch at soft spoken but forceful tone. “I know it wasn’t your fault you were there, but you know you should have gone to the hospital. And John should have made sure you did.” Stiles wishes she could explain, but now is not the time. It doesn’t help that she would have no proof.

    “I honestly felt fine, mom.”

    “And you know feeling fine doesn’t always mean that you are fine.” Scott goes silent, staring at the hands in his lap, and Stiles is busy biting her lip to keep from just saying the first thing that comes to mind. “Do you realize what I would have done if something had gone seriously wrong after you were at home? Huh?”

    “I’m sorry, mom.” Melissa takes a deep breath and brushes a stray curl from her face.

    “I know, Scott and I’m more mad at the other kids… just don’t do this again ok? I can’t have anything happening to you.” She pulls Scott into a hug from the side and Scott hugs his mother tightly back. Stiles watches the two, understanding Melissa’s stance completely. Her dad would have been the same way with her.

    After a while, the Whittemore's come back and if Jackson hadn’t been ready to murder them then, it was plain on his face that he was now. Her father calls Travis’s family next. The cycle continues with Jones, followed by Thomas, then Boone, and Travis. Scott gets called back with Melissa and Stiles gulps as she is left alone in the room and suddenly she feels like a bleeding diver in a room full of sharks. Each teen keeps glaring at her. She’s the only one who technically wasn’t there so they all know she has something to do with them being caught. Throw in the fact that her father is the Sheriff and that’s just icing on the cake. She’s relieved when the McCalls come back in and she gets called out of the conference room to go with her father. She knows Scott didn’t say anything about the bite because his mother isn’t freaking out.

    She follows her father in silence as they step into another conference room. This one is a little smaller and has a television set up at the end of the table. Her father takes a seat opposite Tara Grimes and Stiles takes the open one to his right. Tara has a fingerprint kit, a note pad, and folder all on the table in front of her.

    “Hey, Stiles.” Tara is a welcome presence during this even though her father is right next to her.

    “Hey, Tara.” She taps at the table and her knee goes to bouncing. She’s nervous on if she can convincingly lie but not come across as lying about Jackson.

    “I’m going to treat this as I did with all the other kids, ok?” Stiles just nods and Tara continues. “Good. Now, can you tell me what happened last night, Stiles?”

    “Sure. Uh, should I start all the way from being at home?” She’s looking to her father and he just nods just as Tara says that is fine. “Ok. Well dad and I were having  dinner when the phone rang. He went into the living room to answer it.” Nope, not mentioning that she listened in. “He told me there was a situation that he needed to go take care of and asked me to stay away from the Preserve.”

    “Around what time?”

    “Maybe eight. I got a late start on dinner and then we were talking for a while.”

    “Then what happened, Stiles?” Tara is busy making notes as Stiles speaks.

    “I told my dad that I was going to go over to Scott’s. I wanted to hang out with him for a little bit before school started today.”

    “Did you actually go over to the McCall house?”

    “Yeah. I think I got there around nine or nine-thirty. I parked down from the house with my lights off because I planned to sneak up and scare Scott.” She shrugs when Tara gives her a questioning look. “He’s easy to scare and it’s funny.” Tara and her father share a look that says that it such a Stiles statement.

    “So did you actually do that?”

    “No. I was getting ready to get out of my Jeep when I noticed another car parking in front of Scott’s house. It was black, not sure what model or year.”

    “What happened then?”

    “I sat and watched it. I watched as a group of five guys got out of the car.”

    “Did you recognize any of them?”

    “Yes. They were all members of the lacrosse team.” Stiles starts picking at the hem of her shirt and her father reaches over and takes her hand tightly in his. She takes a deep breath and tries to calm her nerves.

    “And what did they do after they got out of the car?” Stiles starts describing everything for Tara in as much detail as she can. She even throws in the she fell trying to hurry and get out of the car. She tells about following the other car, calling her dad, and insisting that she look for Scott.

    “Why did you want to go after them so much, Stiles? Why not wait for your father and the ambulance?” Stiles chews on her lip as she thinks about question.

    “I grew up spending a lot of time on the Preserve. Mom, dad, and I would take walks out there all the time and then friends and I would play hide and seek, both during the day and night. They made sure I knew the entire layout and every landmark so that if somehow I ever got lost then I could find my way home. I also keep a rescue inhaler for Scott with me all the time.”

    “Why do you have an inhaler for him?”

    “He forgot his at home one time and he was at mine playing video games. We got into a pillow fight and it triggered an attack…” She thinks on the panic that had taken over when all of a sudden her friend couldn’t breathe and she couldn’t find his inhaler. “I called 911 and they were able to help him, but I swore I wouldn’t be around him without one again.”

    “That’s very smart thinking.”

    “Thanks.”

    “So what happened after you started after them? How did you follow them?” Tara brings them back on the discussion of the events of last night.

    “I could hear them laughing and could actually see a faint light that I thought might be a flashlight. I took a chance and ran after it. I knew I was going the right way when they light got brighter and the laughter got louder.” She feels her father squeeze her hand gently, letting her know that what she said was good. He knows she has other ways of finding people than that.

    “Then what happened?” Stiles goes into detail about catching up with them, using the firecrackers to scare them, and getting Scott his medicine. She even mentions lying to Scott about seeing a dead squirrel and the stampede. She manages to make it all the way through her dad finding them, getting checked out by the paramedics, and getting Scott home without breaking a sweat.

    “Thank  you, Stiles. Now I want to show you a video and I want you to tell me if you recognize it.” Stiles nods and Tara hits play on the remote next to her. The image pops up on the screen and it takes all of Stiles’s restraint not to crow in triumph. There it is in beautiful clarity, her recording of the events at Scott’s house.

    “Uh, yeah. That looks like the video I took on my phone. I mean, I never watched it, I just recorded and kinda hoped it was clear.”

    “What made you record the incident, Stiles?” Stiles looked at her father before answering.

    “I wanted proof of how much of a bully Jackson is if he did something to mess with Scott. I stopped recording as soon as I realized what exactly they were doing.” Tara nods as she finishes with her notes.

    “Just a few more things, Stiles.”

    “Sure.”

    “Since you were at the crime scene, then I need to get your fingerprints.” She’s pulling the fingerprinting kit forward and Stiles sits up straight, letting go of her father’s hand.

    “Yeah, sure.” She let’s Tara get a print from each finger on both hands. “We are also going to be getting tire impressions from your Jeep, which the Sheriff already authorized, and I need to know if you are wearing the shoes that you were last night.”

    “Yeah, they’re my favorite.” Tara directs Stiles to stand and lift up each foot so she can get a picture of the tread on the bottom of her shoes.

    “Ok, that’s everything. Thank you, Stiles.”

    “No prob. I definitely don’t want to be a suspect in this thing.” The Sheriff thanks Tara and they head back to the room with the other teens and their parents. Stiles immediately has a seat with Scott while her father seems to be gathering his thoughts.

    “Now that we have everything to clear each of your children from the actual crime, I think it’s important we discuss another matter entirely. I’ve shown each of you the video, you’ve identified your children, and we have two eye witness statements saying they saw Scott McCall being tackled, wrapped up, and put into the trunk of the car. We also have the paramedics report once Scott was located. Melissa has already informed me of a wish to press charges.” Jackson goes to open his mouth but his father shuts him up before he can speak a word. Another parent speaks up instead.

    “Sheriff, don’t you think pressing charges is taking it a little too far? I said this earlier to you when we spoke privately and I’ll say it again, this was obviously a harmless prank amongst lacrosse team members.” The Sheriff opens his mouth but Scott’s mom beats him to it.

    “Harmless?! What part of taking an asthmatic, wrapping his in a blanket, and sticking him in a trunk is harmless? And what were they going to do once they got him out on the Preserve, huh? Leave him there? No one would have known where he was, he wouldn’t have had his inhaler, and I most likely would be planning his funeral right now! So yes, pressing charges is perfectly acceptable!” Melissa’s chest is heaving by the time she is done with her rant and she looks ready to throttle someone. Scott puts his hand on her shoulder, trying to calm her down, whispering that he is okay.

    “Melissa, breathe…” Her father’s voice is calm but Stiles can hear that sharp edge that tells her he is close to beating someone himself.

    “What charges are we looking at, Sheriff?” Mr. Whittemore speaks up before anyone else can. His voice is even, but you can see that he is upset. Stiles isn’t sure if he’s pissed at her father or his own son.

    “Kidnapping and reckless endangerment. The reckless endangerment charge comes in because I know for a fact that it’s common knowledge that Scott has asthma because I’ve overheard the kids talking about other students making fun of him for it. It’s also common knowledge that asthma attacks can be deadly.” He sees another parent about to speak and keeps on talking, raising his voice to drown them out. “Now, I do understand they are minors and they most likely intended this as a prank but there could have been some serious consequences and they need to be held responsible for that. If we decide here to take it to court, they would be put through juvenile court unless the judge decided to try them as adults.” He stops there and lets his words sink in. He’s expecting questions, of course, be he knows at least Whittemore should understand the legal consequences.

    “Melissa,” Stiles watches as Jackson’s dad turns to Scott’s mom. He doesn’t have his normal self assured smirk on his face which is a bit of a shocker for the teen. “Is there anyway you would be willing to settle this out of court?”

    “Why should I?” She still looks ready to kill and her gaze narrows at the lawyer for daring to even ask.

    “I agree that what these boys did was very stupid.” He directs his gaze briefly to his son before turning back to the nurse, “but I still want to try and keep my son out of court.”

    “What do you have in mind, David?” The Sheriff steps forward to try and act as mediator between the two parents.

    “If it goes to Juvenile court, which is up to you and the Sheriff, then it’s either going to be a fine, community service, probation, or maybe a small amount of time in a detention center. However, I know due to them being sixteen there is a risk of the judge deciding to try them as adults. I’d like to avoid that if I can.” He looks around the room before he continues. “I’m sure the other parents would like to do the same. So I have a proposition for you, if you find it fitting.”

    “Go on.”

    “I say let each boy pay a fine that has to come out of their own pockets, but make them work it off with community service instead of just paying it. Keep track of their hour as you would an employee and their ‘wages’ go towards the fine.” He looks at his son, knowing that the next part that he is about to recommend is going to be a hard pill to swallow. “I also propose that each teen spends at least some time in jail.” As soon as the words leave his mouth, several voices speak up, teen and parent alike.

    “Hold on, hold on, let him finish.” Once everyone is quiet, the Sheriff gestures for him to continue.

    “However many days that everyone can agree is fair. They can be transported straight from the school to the Sheriff’s station and vice versa. Would you find that agreeable?” Melissa seems to be thinking it over.

    “What about lacrosse practice? And the scrimmage of Friday?” Of course Jackson couldn’t stay quiet the whole time. Melissa is the one to answer.

    “If we include today and go through Thursday, that would be four days, right?” Mr. Whittemore nodded. “I think that would be enough time to learn their lesson.” The Sheriff spoke up next.

    “We could pick them up after practice, giving them time to get showered and changed here in the locker room. Each parent can deliver a bag of clothes for the next few days to the station and me and my deputies will make sure we get them here before school starts. Community service can be done on the weekends. That work for each of you?” Several parents look like they want to argue but with the advice coming from David Whittemore they don't seem like they really will. “Alright then. You seven head on back to your next classes. The principal said he would have passes ready for you. We will be back this afternoon, after practice, to pick you boys up. I’ll be discussing the details of community service with your parents this evening.”

    One by one the parents and their kids file out of the room, each teen getting an earful from their parents. It takes all of Stiles’s limited self control not to smile and wave as Jackson goes storming past. There is a brief exchange between Melissa and Mr. Whittemore, each thanking the other for being understanding, and then it’s just Scott, Stiles, Melissa, and John.

    “Thanks again, John.” Melissa hugs the Sheriff tightly and then hugs her son. “Unfortunately I am late for work and have to hurry.”

    “Don’t worry, Melissa. I’m glad we could get this settled civilly.” They wave to Melissa as she leaves. “You two need to get back to you classes.” Stiles nods and hugs her dad and then it’s just the two of them.

    “Dude…” Scott is standing there looking as if Stiles could knock him over just by breathing. She finally allows herself to be excited.

    “This is awesome! Jackson is finally getting what’s due for being such an asshole! I don’t think I can be any happier!” Her excitement draws a laugh out of Scott and she does a little jig.

    “He’s going to kill us today at practice.”

    “Yeah, but it’ll be worth it. Come on, let’s go.” They both snatch up the passes and head off to their next class, which even seeing it is Harris doesn’t wipe the smile from their faces.

    Harris of course targets Stiles all through class but she isn’t fazed today and spends the majority of it ignoring the glare from Jackson. The Argent girl, whose name is Allison she finds out thanks to Scott correcting her, gets absorbed into the popular group by the end of the day just like Stiles predicted. She’s a mixture of happy the first day is over and nervous about practice when she finally makes it to the girl’s locker room at the end of the day.

    She had tried out for the sport only because Scott had begged her. He wanted someone he could practice with. They didn't have a girls’ team so she went out for the boys’ and had been fairly surprised that she had made it. She never really got much field time, unless it was as someone’s target, but at least she wasn't as bad as Greenburg. It didn't help her much that she didn't try very hard because she wasn't a fan of some of her teammates and Scott was always on the bench with her thanks to his asthma.  She meets back up with Scott outside the locker rooms and they head out to the field.

“You know… if you make first line, I’m going to be forced to talk to Greenburg. Would you really do that to me? Your best friend?” She does her best to pout and give sad puppy eyes but she knows she just looks ridiculous.

“Sorry, Stiles, but I’m making first line. I’m tired of sitting on the sidelines.”

“Whatever, dude. Hold onto those dreams.” Stiles jumps when Coach Finstock calls Scott onto the field and she takes her place on the bench. She’s actually very nervous about how this is about to go down. Her amber gaze is set on Scott and she laughs when he jumps at the whistle and then cringes when it nails him in the head. When he stands back up, she feels like something has changed. She leans forward in her seat as the next ball is launched and everyone seems to freeze when Scott actually catches it.

“Lucky catch! Keep going!” Coach’s voice rings out and the next player launches another ball and Scott catches that one as well. One after another Scott catches each ball and Stiles can’t help but cheer on her friend, her worries momentarily forgotten. She catches the few other students in the stand doing the same, including Lydia and Allison. Stiles gets nervous again when she sees a furious Jackson pushing his way in front of the other players and grabbing a ball in his cross. He takes a running start and seems to put everything he has into the throw. When Scott catches it with ease she jumps up from where she is sitting, cheering like mad for Scott. Jackson stands there furious. Practice continues on along much the same lines, with Scott playing much better than he ever has and not once needing to stop due to an asthma attack.

    “Oh my god, that was amazing!” Scott is literally bouncing as they head towards Stiles’s Jeep, the excitement of having done so well at practice oozing off of him.

    “Dude, I think everyone gets it, you did awesome.” Stiles is happy for her friend, she really is, but she also knows why he did so well. She pulls her phone out of her bag along with her keys and checks for any messages. There is one from her father saying they are having a guest for dinner but doesn’t say who.

    “I can’t help it, Stiles! I caught Jackson’s throw!”

    “That was killer, dude.” She does smile at that, because nothing makes her happier than pissing him off. “Hey, wanna come over and play some Call of Duty?” Maybe her dad can help her break things to him.

    “Can’t. I’ve got to hurry up and get to work. How about this weekend?” Scott gives her puppy eyes and she laughs.

    “Yeah, sounds good. Catch ya tomorrow!”

 

    Stiles has chicken simmering in a pan on the stove, cauliflower in the steamer, and a variety of vegetables waiting to be chopped on the counter when her dad manages to make it home. Her text books are spread out on the table in the dining room, highlighters, and pens scattered amongst them. Her iPod is playing once again and she’s bobbing her head to the music. John takes off his belt and hangs it on the coat rack by the door, removing his firearm and carrying it with him up the stairs. He secures it in the safe in his closet, changed into jeans and a t-shirt, and heads back down. He watches as Stiles removes the chicken from the pan, setting it aside to let it rest, and starts chopping away. He doesn’t even realize she knows he is there until she speaks.

    “Got your message about company, so I’m making extra. Want to tell me who it is?” She doesn’t turn away from what she’s doing which makes him happy since he knows his kid’s clumsiness and knives don’t mix.

    “It’s Deaton.” He watches as she freezes and he understands. John hasn’t spoken with Deaton outside of a simple hello or needing information for the department since his wife passed.  Stiles goes back to work on their dinner before speaking again.

    “What brought this on?”

    “We found some hair samples on the victim and I wanted to confirm my suspicions, so I took them to him. While I was there he made it known that he wanted to have a sit down with us, so I invited him.” He moves further into the kitchen and looks at the jumbled mess that is her school work. “Need me to move your books?”

    “Nah, I’ll get them in a sec.” She finishes her chopping and adds the vegetables to the still hot pan. She adds a small amount of oil so that they will brown up nicely and not stick to the bottom of the pan, then proceeds to add herbs and spices. “Did he say what he wanted to talk about?”

    “No, just that he wanted to talk to both of us.” Stiles nods as she listens and John pulls out plates and silverware.

    “Mind stirring while I clear the table?”

    “I think I can stir without burning.” He smiles at the laugh that gets out of her. He hates that she has grown up so quickly since Claudia’s death and is terrified she is about to be forced to grow up even more. He knows there are things Claudia wanted her to learn, but she would have been able to spread it out over time. He shakes those thoughts from his head as he hands the wooden spoon back to her when she comes back to the stove and he returns to setting the table. They talk about the day, John scolding Stiles halfheartedly when she starts laughing about Jackson having to spend some time in jail. She is putting the final touches on their meal when the doorbell rings. He pats her shoulder when she goes stiff.

    “You finish up that and I’ll let him in. Relax, it’s going to be fine.” John heads to the door and has to take a moment and just take a deep breath before opening it. The man on the other side is about the same height as John, dark skinned, bald and has a neatly trimmed mustache and goatee. The soft smile he wears is a welcome one for the Sheriff.

    “Hello, Alan. Come on in.” He extends his hand and is glad when the man returns his handshake.

    “Good evening, John. Thank you for having me. I know it’s been quite some time since we’ve associated socially.” Alan hands John his coat when he offers to take it, careful to swap the package he is carrying from hand to hand as he needs to.

    “I’m sorry about that. It’s just after Claudia… it had always felt like you were more here to talk to her and not some stuff shirt cop.”

    “I understand, I just appreciate you inviting me over so we could talk.” Alan gives the man a soft smile. He knows it’s still hard for him to actually talk about his wife’s passing. He takes a seat on the couch when it is offered and waits as John seems to gather his words.

    “Well, to be honest, I was rather curious about what you wanted to talk with us about.” John’s bright blue gaze examines the man sitting across from him like a puzzle.

    “I wanted to speak with you both about Mr. McCall and I also wanted to bring over this.” He pats the package in his lap. It’s about the size of a t-shirt box but thicker and wrapped plainly in brown paper and tied with twine. There is an envelope taped to the outside of the box and he can see it has Stiles’s real name on it. He recognizes the handwriting instantly.

    “Where did you find that?” John is slightly upset that the veterinarian has it, believing it should have been left with himself.

    “I’ve had it since Claudia first started showing symptoms of her illness. She asked me to hold onto it until her training had reached a certain point, or she started asking certain questions, whichever came first. Since she came to me last night, I've been wondering if that time is now.”

    “And what if she didn’t start asking those questions?” He didn’t bother asking about the training because they both understood that option had been taken away.

    “Then it would go to you when she turned eighteen and it was to be up to you to decide if she would have it. It was the one thing she made me promise.” The while she could went left unsaid. John just nods, fighting back the tears. It was an old argument that had been the one thing they couldn’t agree on. Claudia always wanted to make sure their little girl knew her heritage. John always wanted to keep her safe. He already knows what his decision would have been. Both men turn when Stiles clears her throat and then stand. John watches her fidget with the hem of her shirt, her bottom lip vanishing between her teeth. She’s nervous and he doesn’t blame her. Tonight is about to be one hell of an interesting night.

    “Hello, Dr. Deaton.” Her voice is soft and shakes ever so slightly. It’s a combination of weird and comforting to see the man in their home after so many years.

    “Hello, Stiles. I hear that I am about to be in for a treat of some of your home cooking.”

    “It’s nothing special… but uhm, dinner’s ready if you guys are hungry.”

    “Sounds wonderful.” John watches as Stiles turns and walks back to the dining room and then let’s Deaton ahead of him. He notices that the vet has left the package sitting on the couch and guesses he must be planning on giving it to her after the meal. He makes a mental not to thank the man for that.

The three sit and Stiles helps dish each plate. They talk about unimportant things, school, the station, and the clinic. It's stilted at first, but soon flows into an easy rhythm. It almost feels like old times. Soon enough they are each finished with their meal and Deaton is complimenting Stiles' cooking while John cleans dishes off the table. He tells them to go ahead and go to the living room and that he will join them in a moment. Once they change rooms, the awkwardness returns slightly. Deaton takes a seat on the couch next to the package he brought and Stiles sits in her father's recliner.

    “How has Scott been today, Stiles?” Deaton’s voice is calm and collected as he speaks and Stiles slightly feels like he’s still trying to calm a wild animal.

    “He’s seemed good. The bite was smaller this morning. He kept flinching, he did awesome at lacrosse today.” Deaton nods as she speaks.

    “The transformation has begun. Has he had any questions about any of it yet?” Stiles flops back where she has taken a seat on the couch.

    “No, just become love struck by the new girl.” She cringes at the thought of the new girl and sits up again once her dad comes back into the room. “Which is actually something I need to talk to both of you about.” John and Deaton both look at her with concern. John is the first to speak.

    “You think this new girl has something to do with Scott being bitten?”

    “Maybe. It’s either she has something to do with, knows something about it, or one big coincidence. And I know what you say ‘One is an incident…”

    “Two is a coincidence and three's a pattern. What does that have to do with the new girl?” John is watching his daughter closely and he’s getting more concerned by the minute. Is the girl another wolf? Is it a pack coming into town.

    “Her last name is Argent.” Deaton’s eyes go wide and John’s heart stopped. Claudia had warned him about the last name Argent when she first introduced him to the world of werewolves.

    “So we have a rogue Alpha and the oldest Hunter family all in our town in two days… God help me.” He rubs his hands over his face, because he already knows what the pattern is and his daughter is a part of it. He’d been hoping that maybe he could keep her out of it, but now he knows for certain that that ship sailed the moment Scott got taken out to the Preserve and she followed.

    “I’m sorry, John, but I think it’s time I gave her the package.”  At John’s nod he reaches for it where it has been at his side and holds it out for the teen.

    “What does this have to do with a werewolf and a hunter?”

    “Well, Miss Stilinski, it looks like werewolves and hunters are returning to Beacon Hills and you might need this.” Stiles looks to her dad, and this time he nods to her, his blue eyes sad, and she takes the package. The name on the letter attached makes a tear slide down her cheek. “I don’t know what is in the box or in the letter, but I believe that it will give you better answers than I could. My door is open if you would like to talk.” He stands and goes for his coat. Stiles doesn’t look up.

    “Thank you for the wonderful dinner. I think it’s time I let the two of you talk though.” He extends his hand to the Sheriff and is glad when the man takes it. “The same goes for you, John. Any questions at all and I’ll answer them the best that I can.”

    “Thanks, Alan. I’m sure I’ll be in touch.” He lets the man out and then just leans against the door.

    Every cell of his being wanted to take that box and hide it away but he knows he has no right, especially not now. When Claudia had told him that werewolves were real, he had laughed in her face and told her to stop watching horror movies. She’d dropped it at the time but when she pushed the subject again he had been very close to questioning her sanity. It had taken a visit back to her hometown on the East Coast with her and one of her old friends showing him the truth for him to finally understand. It had taken a while to adjust and in that time he had listened to everything that Claudia said about her family and their ‘job’. She said that she could see them being together forever but he had to know the truth first. When they had Stiles, he had argued that she should be kept in the dark until she was 18, if she was ever told. He just wanted his little girl to have a normal life and be safe. He’d seen how many times Claudia had been hurt.

    When Claudia died, he debated on what he would eventually do. Some of the decisions had been taken from him. The chest and wardrobe she had kept in the attic had been locked up and he had never been able to find the key. The personal journals he’d given to Stiles years ago, but that was it, that was all he found. Now to know that Claudia had planned out what to do, it hurt but John was also grateful. John took a deep breath and headed back to Stiles.

    He’s slightly surprised to see she hasn’t moved, hasn’t tried opening the package or the letter. He moves so that he is standing in front of her and then squats down. He can see tear tracks running down her cheeks and a few water spots on the brown paper and his heart breaks a little more at the fact that his daughter has had to go without her mother. He reaches up and brushes a thumb across her cheek which seems to startle her out of wherever her mind has taken her.

    “You okay?” He barely makes out the nod she gives him, her mouth working to form words but no sound comes out. He wonders if she has gone into shock and if he should call Melissa. “You want me to help you with this?” She just shakes her head no. She takes a couple deep breaths, finally looking him in the face and then speaks.

    “Can I…” She wipes her face as another tear falls, “can I open this in my room?” Her voice cracks and shakes a little but he just offers her a small smile.

    “Of course. You just yell if you need me.” When they both stand, Stiles wraps an arm around her father’s shoulders and hold him close for a moment. She whispers that she loves him and then goes up the stairs. John takes a seat in his recliner and debates about opening up a bottle of whiskey, but he knows that is the last thing he needs to do.

    Up in her room Stiles sinks down onto her bed, crossing her legs underneath her, and stares at the box in her hands. It’s from her mother. Her mother left this purposefully for her. She takes a deep breath and with shaky fingers pulls the letter loose from the twine, opens it, and begins to read…

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

    Stiles barely wakes up when her alarm goes off the next morning. She’s grumpy and groggy from staying up so late trying to read the book she had found inside her mother’s box. Most of it seemed to be in latin, which prompted a mental note to find someone to teach her latin. She had been ecstatic to find later entries in Polish and to recognize some of the handwriting as her mother’s. From what she can tell each generation has added to it, marking ways they have improved spells and when they find new herbs or new ways to use old ones. She has a lot of learning to catch up on and that thought is slightly daunting. She manages to push herself out of bed and goes over to her desk.

    In her excitement last night, she hadn’t really taken the time to appreciate the book itself. It’s hard bound in a soft brown leather with metal accents on each corner that look like antique copper. It had been held closed by a thick strip of leather that was sealed shut in the center but a large metal latch that was the shape of a wolf’s paw print. It had frustrated her at first, thinking there was going to be another puzzle to solve, but then she noticed the smaller paw indention in the center of the pad.

    That had triggered a panicked search through her closer for her mother’s jewelry box. It had always hurt too much to keep out in the open so she had stored it away. Once she found it, she had searched through the contents until she found the small, copper pendant her mother had always worn. It was a wolf’s paw print, no larger than a dime, on a simple silver chain. The pendant had fit perfectly into place and with a slight turn the latch had opened.

    She finds herself playing with the pendant that is now around her neck as she debates about reading more of the entries. She decides against it because she knows she will get too engrossed and end up being late for school. Instead she looks over the two keys that she had ignored last night.

    They are two old skeleton keys with dings and scratches from use and age all over them. There is some beautiful etching on the shaft and just below the head of each is a intricate design. On one there looks to be some form of flower with ivy entwined around it and around the ring of the head. One the other is a dagger or sword with the blade actually being a part of the shaft and the hilt creating the ring of the head. She debates on taking them with her but doesn’t dare in case she loses them. Instead, she places them safely in the box and closes it.

    She hurries through her morning routine, briefly debating on if she wants to even attempt to dress cute and girly. For the most part she doesn’t really care, but she has these random moments. She settles on leggings and an oversized plaid shirt with a thick belt and some flats. She only applies a little bit of lip gloss and let’s her hair dry naturally. She makes a mental note to ask her dad about the keys that evening when she sees his cruiser is already gone.

    She makes it to the school and she’s a little early but not too bad. It doesn’t leave her with too much time on her hands. She goes ahead and gets her books sorted out for her first classes and decides to head to the library to use the time to do some research. She nods to the only other person at the computers and takes a seat, then immediately clicks on Google to get it running.

    Through all her younger years of hearing her mother tell the story of Little Red, she’s never really digged any deeper about its origin. She wonders now if she can maybe find something. The most credited author she finds is a Frenchman by the name of Charles Perrault. He published his book in 1697, but it seems that even then it was pretty much well known that he did not invent the story himself. The story itself seems to be traced back even further, popping up in Belgium in the 11th-century and being traced all the way to Asia. Even then, no one can truly give the full origin of the story. She gets so lost in research that the sound of books hitting the ground makes her jump.

    She shakes off the nerves and checks the time then decides to shut down researching right then to go look for Scott. Stiles finds him at his locker, leaning against the metal and looking like he’s been run through the wringer. She walks up as slowly and quietly as she can, trying to not add to what is probably the worst headache imaginable from all the sound. Scott manages to turn his head slightly and look at her.

    “Hey…”

    “Hey… do you think I could get away with ear plugs today?” She gives him slight shake of the head and he brings himself to standing. “Didn’t think so.”

    “Unfortunately I never really got to take part in any of the learning control lessons with the others, so I don’t have much useful advice. I do remember Laura saying that sometimes it helps finding something to focus on though.”

    “Yeah, I guess, but what?”

    “That I definitely can’t help with. It’s different for each person.” She watches him as he takes a deep breath and finally opens his locker. He’s jumpy, but she finds that understandable since he’s probably hearing every possible noise in existence at the moment. He also looks tired, like he didn’t get any sleep the night before. That gets her to thinking about his run through the woods and the alpha trying to bond with him.

    “You do realize how crazy this is, right? I mean, werewolves don’t exist, Stiles.”

    “And yet I’ve known a few in my lifetime, seen them shift, spent time with them, and called them family. You had dinner with one last night. They do exist, Scott, and you are just going to have accept it.”

    “Accept it? I didn’t even know they were more than a story until last night!” As his voice raises, Stiles attempts to calm him down.

    “Keep it down, dude. Attention is bad.” She takes a glance around to make sure people are still ignoring them as per usual. “I seriously do understand, Scott. It’s different for me because this was a part of my life.”

    “And yet you never talked about it. You, who can never keep her mouth shut when you learn something new.”

    “I was taught to keep this a secret, especially after my mother and father were called in by the school counselor because the man thought I was delusional. I did talk about my friends who changed into wolves once. My parents convinced the guy that I was talking about playing a game with my friends and they all pretended to be werewolves. There was a long discussion between me, mom, and Aunt Talia about why it had to be secret.” She shrugs as she looks at him. “It’s for their safety and the safety of the humans that are family to them.”

    “Was your mom a wolf?” Scott is slightly hesitant with the question because he knows Stiles still doesn’t really talk about her mom.

    “She was human. A good pack accepts humans as a part of it along with the wolves, because not every human can be turned and it’s ludicrous to exclude them.” Scott is just staring at her and she wonders if his brain is about to implode.

    “This is still so crazy, dude.” Stiles just shrugs again and Scott finishes with his locker so they can head to class. “Is there anyway it was Derek?”

    “Is there anyway what was Derek?” She’s glances at Scott with a confused expression.

    “Could Derek have been the one that bit me…” There was something he did not trust about the older man, but he just couldn’t place it.

    “No way. You saw Derek’s eyes, right?”

    “Yeah, but what does that have anything to do with it?”

    “They’re blue.” She ignores the thought that they didn’t used to be and continues. “He’s a beta. An alpha is the only one who can turn you and an alpha’s eyes glow red. He’s not an alpha, so he didn’t turn you.”

    “But how can you be sure? I mean can you hide your eye color or something?”

    “No, Scott, you can’t. At least not with that.” She rolls her eyes at his insistence. “The Hales were of the belief that no human is ever turned without a full breakdown of all the possible consequences, risks, and benefits. He wouldn’t do that even if he was an alpha.”

    “It’s possible he’s not the same, Stiles. You said yourself that you haven’t seen him in six years. He could have just chosen to do his own thing.”

    “Why are you so set on him being a bad guy, Scott?”

    “There is just something about him, Stiles. I can’t explain it.”

    “Well I trust him. Until he gives me reason otherwise then I’m not going to doubt him.” They make it to their first class and Stiles pushes past Scott to find a seat. Ok, she can admit that Scott has a minor point with the fact that she hasn’t seen Derek and Laura in years but she knows them. She knows who raised them. Laura would never go against their mother’s teaching and in turn she wouldn’t let Derek. There is just no way that Scott being bitten has anything to do with the Hale’s returning.

    In class she gets to thinking about the training session that will be taking place at her house that afternoon and reminds herself to remind Scott. She is feeling nervous and good about it all at once. She’s starts planning out some ideas to help work on Scott’s control and writing down questions she has for her dad about the box and its contents. It’s not until the bell rings that she realizes the coiled ball of worry in the pit of her stomach has been growing. Between classes she reminds Scott about training and receives a nod but not much more. During Biology she tries to ignore the ever present sense of dread but it just keeps getting worse. About halfway through it hits her full force.

    It’s like a cold hand running up her spine and suddenly she feels like she’s going to be sick. Her head is spinning and she grips the edge of the table to steady herself, faintly catching Scott’s concerned voice asking if she is ok. All she can manage is a minute shake of her head as all at once she feels like she wants to cry, scream, rage, and run away. It’s an awful mess of emotions all rolled into one and she fights the panic that is wanting to sweep her under. She can’t focus on the teacher or what’s being said and Scott is getting more concerned by the second. She almost makes it to end of class when grief starts filtering in and she’s fighting back tears. Right then a faculty member interrupts class.

    “I need to see Miss Stilinski.” Stiles looks up with confusion and catches a glimpse of a uniform over the staff member’s shoulder. Her anxiety kicks up a notch as she starts wondering if something has happened to her father. Instinct has her giving the keys to Scott so he can get her beloved Roscoe home and then she is rushing out the door with her books. On the other side of the door stands Tara and her heart plummets.

    “Tara?” The woman gives Stiles a sad smile as the door closes behind Stiles leaving the three figures in the hall.

    “Hey, hun. I’m sorry to pick you up from school like this-” Stiles interrupts her with a small broken voice.

    “What happened? Is he ok? Please tell me he is ok.” Suddenly she is wrapped up in Tara’s warm embrace and being hugged within an inch of her life.

    “Oh, sweetie, he’s fine. Your dad is fine. He’s ok, I promise.” Stiles takes a deep breath, grateful that Tara is there and not one of the other deputies. Her dad must have sent her just for this reason. “The Sheriff is the one who wanted you picked up from school. He said it was important we brought you to the station asap.” She let’s go of the young woman when she pulls away but leaves a steadying hand on her shoulder.

    “Sorry, didn’t mean to freak out… I just get worried.”

    “I understand, hun, I do. You ok to go with me now?” Stiles nods and they head towards the front office so Tara can sign her out for the day. Stiles doesn’t say anything else until they are out the main door to the school and headed towards the cruiser.

    “What’s going on?” Stiles is worried. That weird mix of emotions is still there, twisting her stomach into a knot.

    “Derek Hale showed up to the station to file a missing person report on his sister, Laura. It surprised all of us since no one knew they were back in town. Your dad seemed to be expecting him when I told him he was here though. He brought Derek back to his office for a few minutes and then they left. I don’t know where to. Your dad called back after a bit saying for me to get you and bring you to him back at the station, said that him and Derek would be there by the time you got there. He sounded upset about something, that’s all I know.” The sick feeling grows and she’s torn between asking Tara to either pull over or to drive faster.

    When they do arrive at the station Stiles doesn’t even wait for Tara to put the cruiser fully in park before she is opening the door and running into the station. She barely registers another deputy saying that her dad is in his office with someone and just barges on in. She spots her dad standing at his desk in a heartbeat and before she can ask a single question he nods towards the couch he keeps up against the wall. She turns to see Derek sitting there, arms propped on his knees and his head hanging low. His hands are clenched into tight fists and if she looks closely she can see the slow drip of blood to the floor from his nails digging into his palm. Suddenly she knows what she was feeling and her heart shatters.

    John watches the changes on Stiles’s face as she deduces what has happened without ever asking a word. She moves towards the couch and tugs at Derek’s arm until he looks at her, the rage crystal clear on his face. She pushes on his shoulder until he is leaning back against the couch and then she climbs into his lap, back to the door and feet propped on the edge of the couch across from her. Stiles then wraps her arms around his neck, buries her face there, and holds on for dear life.

    Derek sits still as stone at first, fighting his instincts to turn to pack, but John can see the cracks in his armor and then he just crumbles. His arms wrap around her ribcage and he buries his face in her shoulder. John can now see the red tipped claws and tracks the blood on the floor, but he’s not concerned those claws are any danger to his little girl. It’s just after that when John catches the young man’s shoulders start to shake and Stiles just grips onto him tighter.

    John’s heart breaks even further as he watches the two and his mind flashes back to a moment just like this. Stiles had woken him up from sleep for the fifth night in a row, except instead of screaming she was crying. He’d been trying to console her when the house phone had rung and he’d been informed about the fire on the Preserve. He’d bundled her up, placed her in his cruiser, and taken her up to the station where he was told two members of the Hale family would be waiting for him. He’d arrived with Stiles in tow to find Laura and Derek both wrapped in shock blankets and staring at the far wall. John had stood there unable to move as Laura turned towards him and her eyes flashed red. In that moment he had known everything he needed to know.

    Stiles hadn’t hesitated then either. She’d wormed her way into Derek’s lap and clung to him as if he was drowning and she could save him. The only difference was that then Laura had wrapped herself around them both, barely suppressing a growl when anyone came close to them. Now they are mourning her loss.

    Eventually Derek pulls back and Stiles shifts out of his lap so that she is sitting next to him, leaning on him, but her legs are still draped over one of his. Her eyes are puffy and red and he can clearly see the tear streaks on her face. She holds her hand out for the box of tissues that John has in his hand. She takes one for herself and hands Derek one. He wipes the tears from his face quickly and the rage returns. John moves over so that he can place a hand on his shoulder.

    “We’ll find out who did this, son.”

    “It’s the wolf who bit Scott.” Derek’s voice is icy as he speaks. “It’s why I can feel some connection to the alpha but couldn’t feel Laura.”

    “What about Scott?” Stiles poses a question that she had thought of earlier. “You said last night that the alpha is trying to establish a bond with him. Wouldn’t it automatically be stronger because of him being bitten by them? Couldn’t you teach him to follow it?”

    “Yes, but until they become established bonds Scott could be standing right next to them and he’d never know it.” Derek rests his head back on the couch.

    “We’d already started the investigation when we found her, but now knowing who it is will hopefully make things easier.” John moves around his desk and takes a seat. “Derek, I hate to have to say this but I need everything you can give me about where you have been, when you were there, and what you’ve done since you left New York. I have to rule you out as a suspect at this point just in case we find some way that we can prove this was not just an animal attack.” He holds up his hand when Stiles opens her mouth to argue with him. “It’s standard procedure, Stiles, and for his benefit. I can’t skip anything if we want to be able to get who did this.” She doesn’t look happy but Derek just nods.

    “Start off with when you left New York and why…” John is gentle with Derek as he questions him. He listens attentively as Derek explains her frantic departure and the unanswered phone calls the prompted him to come looking for her. He takes notes about getting cell records for both Hales and checking with the airport for flight records, as well as researching driving routes from New York to Beacon Hills. He writes video next to that as a reminder to check security cameras as well. He writes down dates and times for departure and arrival, the location and check in date for the motel Derek is staying in, and dates and times for everywhere he has been. He asks questions to make sure he has everything right and then makes sure that any references to the supernatural are not written down. Once they are done he adds his notes to the investigation file and just looks at the two.

    Stiles is leaning on Derek’s shoulder and she has hooked both of her arms around one of his. There is still some stiffness in Derek’s shoulders but John can see that he is slightly more relaxed than he was before Stiles got there. He’s glad that at least they can be there for him right now.

    “Thank you for that, Derek. I know it wasn’t easy. I’ll have one of my deputies verify everything, but I know it should be all we need.”

    “You know you won’t be able to take them alive, right?” The rage and Derek’s intent is clear on his face as he speaks. John just sighs.

    “I may not have been as clear on pack laws and all that as Claudia was, but I still have to follow the law.”

    “Dad, you and the deputies aren’t going to be able to take a werewolf into custody if they don’t want to go. This one especially will rip you guys to shreds. It’s massive, nothing like Aunt Talia.” A slight panic leaks into her voice at the thought of her father going up against a rogue wolf.

    “True, but I have to follow the law. I also still have the stockpile of special ammo thanks to your mother, plus I’m sure Deaton would be able to lead me to some.”

    “Wolfsbane won’t matter until we know who the alpha is anyway. For that I will need Scott’s help.” Derek’s multicolored gaze meets the Sheriff’s blue head on and John nods in agreement.

    “Why don’t you take Stiles back to the house and get some rest over there until Scott comes over this afternoon? I already have her out of school for the rest of the day anyway.”

    “We can work on a plan on how best to train Scott and get him to focus on pack bonds.” She drops her legs from his lap and untangles herself from around his arm before standing and tugging on his arm. “I warn you, small words and lots of treats… just like a puppy.” She smiles when she does get an eyeroll out of Derek. He lets himself be pulled to standing and moves away from the couch. The Sheriff has come around from his desk and so Derek holds his hand out to shake his. Instead he gets pulled into a hug from the older man.

    “We’ll find out who did this, son.” Derek lets his rage push back the tears and just nods when he is let go. Stiles steps up and gives her father a quick hug before he opens the door to let them out.

    As the door opens she watches the change in his posture and his eyes and she does have to agree with Scott about the serial killer look. She’ll bring it up later though. They walk out the office door and she takes Derek’s hand in hers. It’s her own way of reminding him that she is there for him. She just smiles when he quirks and eyebrow at her. She ignores the questioning looks they get from the deputies, and stops briefly at the front desk to pick up her book bag and thank Tara for bringing her stuff in. From the look Tara gives her she can already imagine the gossip and questions that are about to bombard her father. He’ll live though.

    She comes to a sudden stop once they're outside and Derek heads to a sleek black Camaro. She can’t stop the low whistle that escapes from her as she finally moves and walks around the car. It’s pristine and looks brand spanking new.

    “Dude-”

    “Don’t call me dude.”

    “-where did you get the ride?” She waits for his answer but only gets silence. When she looks up she immediately regrets that she even asked.

    “It was Laura’s…”

    “Huh….I never would have guessed. It’s just not flashy enough for her.” Her answer manages to get a soft chuckle from him and she’s glad. “Come on, let’s go.”

    They climb into the car and the ride is spent in silence with both of them in their own worlds for the time being. Stiles knows Derek is thinking back on his family right now and she understands. She spends the ride plotting on how best they could possibly track the alpha and her plans on training Scott.

    There is a quick pit stop at the motel Derek said he has been staying in for him to grab some clothes and Stiles stares at the place with barely veiled disgust. She had been hoping she misheard him when he had give the name of the motel but apparently she hadn’t. He had to pick the literal worst motel in their home town. When he makes it back to the car, she just stares at him.

    “What.”

    “One, it’s a question not a statement. Use some inflection. Two, why are you staying in that roach motel?” When all that happens is he raises an eyebrow at her she lets out a frustrated noise. “No, no. You don’t get to just go silent on me, that’s for people you don’t know. That place is disgusting for humans. I know it has to be worse for your wolfie senses.”

    “It’s cheap.”

    “For a reason! I’m talking with dad about you staying in our guest room.”

    “I’m fine, Stiles.”

    “Nope, mind’s made up. Deal with it.” She texts her father as they head back to the house about the motel and the guest room. Eventually she starts rambling about the plans she is coming up with. They reach the house pretty quickly and she wonders how much he was speeding. She fumbles through her bag for her house keys before remembering that she gave all her keys over to Scott. Derek gives her a questioning look at the groan and she just waves him off. At the bottom of the steps up to the porch she reaches down to pick up a small rock. Derek wonders for a brief moment if she’s about to chunk it through the window but instead she just flips it over to reveal a hidden compartment. She pulls it up and takes out the key hidden inside.

    “House key?”

    “Yep. I told dad this would come in handy.” She gets the door unlocked and returns the key to its home. She drops slips her flats off as soon as she is through the door and picks them up. “Ok, so you go shower and get comfy. I’m going to change and get some lunch going.”

    “Stiles, I don’t need a sho-”

    “Derek, I saw where you were staying. You probably have fleas. Go, you know where it is.” She chuckles at his growl and just heads up to her room to change herself. She waits just inside her door until she hears the bathroom door close and the water turn on. Giving herself a mental pat on the back she changes into her yoga workout clothes, pulls her hair into a half ponytail, grabs her IPod, then heads back down the stairs.

    She digs through the fridge for any leftovers and manages to come up with a pretty decent lunch for the two of them. She places her IPod on the dock and keeps the music fairly low. She’d dishing plates and reheating food when Derek comes back down the stairs. She isn’t looking but she can sense him, like a tingle at the base of her skull.

    “Was mom able to feel the pack bonds?” She knows the question comes out of nowhere, but he doesn’t seem surprised when she turns and sets the plates on the table. Derek’s standing in the doorway leaning against the frame with his arms crossed. He’s dressed in simple but comfy looking sweats and a soft looking grey tank. His hair is still wet from the shower and in her mind he looks a little bit more like what she remembers, not so harsh. “Sit. Eat.” He rolls his eyes but does sit.

    “From what I remember she could. Why?” He digs into his meal while she thinks before answering.

    “I knew you were standing there even though I know I didn’t hear you walk up.” She takes a bite and debates on saying more and then decides to just say it. “I also think I felt what you were feeling earlier… when you found out about Laura…” Derek is silent in response, picking slightly at his food. “I thought it would take a while for me to feel pack bonds if I even did… but it was really clear… is that normal?” She waits for his response as she eats.

    “I’m not surprised honestly. After your mom died, the pack automatically accepted that you would eventually take her position in it. That would have made the existing bonds a lot stronger. When the fire… when we left, we didn’t break our ties with you, we just left. You would have been too young to tap into them and didn’t have anyone to teach you.” Stiles interrupts him quickly.

    “Wait… so are you saying I could have felt them even while you were gone?” Her eyes are wide in surprise.

    “If you had known what to look for and as long as neither side had severed the bond, then yes.” She sits there stunned for a moment. She could have kept track of them all these years.

    “So when you came back and we ran into each other…”

    “It renewed them.”

    “Can any human feel the bonds?” Derek just shakes his head at that.

    “Not that I know of. You and your mom are special. From my understanding only a human from your bloodline could feel them.”

    “Because we have wolf’s blood.” Derek nodded. “That’s kinda cool that I can feel them. Means I’ll always know if you are ok. What about Scott and this new alpha? Will I feel them?”

    “No.”

    “Why? I mean, I was connected to Laura right? Wouldn’t it have just transfered…” She lets herself trail off before Derek responds.

    “It transferred after mom because you were already connected to Laura. If it had transferred to me, then yes we would be connected still. This is a stranger, so you have no connection to them. By proxy you don’t have a pack bond with Scott yet either and won’t get one unless you decided to join his pack.” She nods thoughtfully.

    “What about you? Are you connected to them because of the transfer?”

    “No. The moment I knew what happened I rejected the bond. No connection to Scott because of that same reason.”

    “So you’re an omega now?” Derek nods and Stiles shakes her head. “No, you aren’t.”

    “Stiles, I don’t have an alpha.”

    “So. You have me, which means you aren’t a lone wolf, therefor not an omega.” They both go quiet again and focus on eating. It takes a few minutes before Stiles realizes that she is being watched. She looks up at him, fork halfway to her mouth.

    “What? Something on my face?” She uses her free hand to wipe at the skin around her mouth but feels nothing.

    “You’re wearing her necklace. You weren’t yesterday.”

    “Oh.” Her hand comes up and her fingers rest on the tiny pendant. “Yeah, uhm, I pulled it out last night. It turns out that it is a key to this book that was in the box she left. It’s full of all sorts of really neat stuff but I need to find someone to teach me latin among some other languages it seems.”

    “I can help some.”

    “Really?” He nods and Stiles finishes her meal with with a little more enthusiasm. Derek helps her with the clean up even though Stiles argues that he doesn’t have to.

    Afterward, Stiles tells Derek to relax while she gets the guest room ready for him. She gathers cleans sheets and a blanket from the linen closet and then begins to air out the room. Over the years her father had debated on turning it into an office but he never got around to it. They don’t keep it ready for guests because Scott always just crashes in her room and they haven’t had anyone else over in years. Derek shows up while she is making the bed and lends her a hand even though she glares at him. Together they have it made up in no time.

    “Sorry the room is bit dusty. I don’t get in here and clean that often.”

    “I’ll live.” She nod.

    “I’ll leave you to get some rest or whatever. I know you probably need it after this morning. Scott should be here around four or so.” She moves to walk past him but he stops her with a hand on her arm. She turns to look at him, taking in the sadness in his eyes. She hates that look and wishes she could take it all away.

    “Stiles…” She gives him a moment but he just shakes his head.

    “You know, I’m pretty sure I’m never going to be a mind reader, so you need to use your words if you want to ask anything.”

    “It’s nothing.” She punches him lightly on the arm.

    “Oh come on. Now you just made me curious which is the equivalent to asking me to pester you. Spill.” She waits but he still stays silent. “Fine, just remember that I warned you. I won’t do it now, but I will bug you. I’ll be downstairs if you need anything. I’ll try and keep the noise level down.” She stands there a moment debating and then laughs at herself. She never would have had a second thought on interactions with him before. She leans into him, rubbing her cheek against his just like she used to and then heads out the door leaving Derek slightly stunned. He wasn’t honestly sure if she would remember scent marking much less actually do it.

 

    Stiles is racing through the Preserve, dodging branches and desperately trying not to trip. The moon is high and full, peeking through the branches as she runs. She’s terrified, probably one step away from a panic attack, but she can’t stop. She can feel heat at her back as if the flames that have been set are hunting her down and an evil laugh follows on the wind. She can make out bodies on the path but she doesn’t stop to check if they are alive.

    Their plan had been full proof. They tracked every clue, found the perfect location… and it all went to hell. The alpha had found them before they had their trap set. An ear piercing shriek echoes through the trees and Stiles hits her knees as a root snags her ankle and she feels her bones rattle as she tries to brace herself for the impact with the ground. She starts crawling, pulling herself forward through the bushes to escape what’s chasing her. The snarling growl that comes up behind her has her blood running cold and she scrambles back to her feet. She turns and there are the crimson red eyes of the alpha.

    He is huge. Bigger than when she saw him before. He throws his massive head back and howls, summoning his pack, and she feels it reverberate through her. She hears the answering howls and her fear grows. He howls again and it causes her to stagger. He’s trying to use his Alpha command on her but she won’t give into it. She won’t give in. Pain blossoms in her skull and she grips her head. He’s trying to tamper with her pack bonds.

    She knows she won’t make it to the others now. He won’t let her get away until she aligns with him and if she won’t he’ll kill her. Still she won’t go down without a fight, she won’t bow down to him. He isn’t her alpha. She will not be his Red. She pushes that thought back down the bond as she reaches for a broken branch that caught fire at the end. She plants her feet and prepares for his charge. The alpha lets loose a vicious growl and she responds with a yell of her own. She sees the bunch and coil of his muscles, knows he’s about to strike-

    “Stiles! Wake up!” The sound of her name breaks through the dream and Stiles sits up like she’s spring loaded, gasping for air and clawing at the hands that are holding onto her. Strong arms wrap around her, holding her arms down and pressing her back against something warm and solid. There is a gentle nuzzle to her ear accompanied by a low, comforting whimper.

    “Breathe, Stiles. It was just a dream.” Derek’s voice registers and she finally stops fighting,  her body going limp from exertion. Once her eyes gain focus she takes stock in her surroundings and realizes that she must have fallen asleep on the couch. Scott is standing at the end opposite her watching her with wide eyes. “That’s it, there we go. You okay?” She nods and the warmth she was feeling at her back shifts until Derek slides off the couch and comes to kneel at her side. He helps her to a full sitting position and then grabs her shaking hands gently in his.

    “Sorry about that…” Her voice croaks and she guess that she must have been screaming out loud.

    “What happened?” Scott moves so that he can sit next to her and place an arm around her shoulders.

    “It was a really vivid dream. Like really, really vivid. I mean, I’ve had nightmares before… but this was… I was there…”

    “What was it about?” Derek keeps his voice low and soft, just like he remembered being told when Stiles had her first panic attack.

    “I don’t even know how to explain it… it just… it was so much. I knew every detail that was going on and what led up to it… but now it’s just this jumbled mess in my brain. It felt like a warning though…” She shudders as the feeling of the alpha trying to force her to accept the bond shakes through her and all she wants is to curl up and hide. “Ok, not going to dwell on that right now. How long have you been here, Scott?”

    “I just got here. I could hear you yelling and Derek trying to wake you up so I just let myself in.

    “What was I yelling?” She looks between the two but Scott just shakes his head and holds up his hands.

    “It sounded like gibberish to me.”

    “Trzeba uruchomić ... trzeba iść dalej ... Nie pozwól mu wygrać.” Derek’s perfect pronunciation startles her for a moment and it takes her brain a little bit to catch up. He knew a few words growing up thanks to her mother, but this was different.

    “Yeah, sounded like that.”

    “Mówisz po polsku?”

    “Tak.” Scott is bouncing between looking at them like they are nuts.

    “Since when?”

    “For a couple years. I know several languages, Stiles.”

    “Uhm, can we pretend that I have no idea what is being said?”

    “Sorry, Scott. Apparently I was telling someone to run.” She gives the most basic translation but even then it doesn’t feel right but she has no explanation for it. Stiles finally feels calm enough that she attempts to stand and Derek stands with her. He keeps ahold of her hands so that he can steady her if need be. She gives him a soft smile and is happy when her legs seem steady enough and she doesn’t collapse right back onto the couch. “Who’s up for training?”

    “Should we maybe put this training thing off for today?” Scott sounds worried when he asks but she just waves it off.

    “Nope.” She fixes a smile on her face and turns to look at him, so glad he doesn’t know how to read people yet.” The sooner we start, the safer you’ll be.”

    “She’’s right. You need to start learning control as soon as you can. You have your first full moon coming up and it’s going to be hard.” Stiles is immensely relieved when Derek backs her up. Scott doesn’t look completely convinced but he follows her towards the back door when she moves towards it.

    “Go ahead and head out there. I’m gonna grab some stuff and be out in a sec.” Scott seems leary but he does as Stiles asks. Derek on the other hand does not move. He just watches her and Stiles sighs.

    “I’m fine, Der.” He just gives her what she is going to start calling ‘The Look’ and she rolls her eyes. “Seriously, I’m ok. Just a nightmare.”

    “Nie moja paczka, nie moja alfa.” The phrase makes her freeze and she can see those red eyes staring her down. Her heart rate must start to spike again because Derek places his hand on the back of her neck and suddenly she feels her head spin as black veins appear on his arm and he draws the panic out. She’s very grateful for his steadying hand when it happens.

    “That’s the part you kept screaming.” Of course Scott wouldn’t have recognized that he had left something off. “What did you dream, Stiles?”

    “Fire…” The word is a whisper because she knows how much significance it has. “Running… screaming… then the alpha. It’s all jumbled now, Der, but it scares me. I don’t remember having any dreams this vivid before.”

    “I’ve got you, Stiles, I promise.” He has such conviction when he says it and Stiles already knows he means it.

    “I know. Come on, let’s go before he thinks you attempted to murder me” She ignores the glowering, confused look and pulls him out the back door. Scott is sitting on the back porch railing playing on his phone when they come outside. The goofy grin tells Stiles all she needs to know about who he is talking to. Stiles lets go of Derek moves towards Scott, shoving him lightly and catching him off guard and causing him to have to catch the railing before he falls to the ground below him.

    “What was that for?”

    “Seriously? Super hearing and I sneak up on you without even trying?”

    “I was talking with Allison.” He hops off the railing, looking disgruntled at having been interrupted.

    “You can talk and be aware of what’s going on around you, Scott.” She steps off the back porch and just enjoys the feeling of the grass under her bare feet. Their house is positioned so that the back faces directly out onto the edge of the Preserve and it’s one of the things she has always loved about it. There is no fence to block her in from it, no dividing line. It was nothing for them to come outside and just keep walking or to catch one of the Hales coming to the back door when coming for a visit.

    “I’m aware of my surroundings, Stiles.”

    “Pfft.” Stiles takes a deep breath and closes her eyes, just centering herself and trying to shake the last of the dream from her head. She focuses just like her mother taught her on the feel of her lungs expanding and contracting with each deep breath. She feels the shift in the air as the wind changes and hears the rustle of it in the trees. It’s cool outside but she doesn’t mind.

    Derek is focused on her as he watches her just standing in the sunlight that filters through the trees. Her heartbeat slows with each breath and it is almost unnerving. He remembered that her mother would do this from time to time. She said it would help her de-stress and be able to better focus on things that were more important.

    “Why is she just standing there?”

    “You’ve never seen her do this?” Derek is slightly surprised at Scott’s shaking head. It was not uncommon for the two to step outside or to a more secluded spot during gatherings or when just spending time at the house. He begins to wonder what all she has hidden away over the past few years.

    “What is she doing?” Scott has come to stand next to Derek on the steps, not quite on the last step so it puts him at eye level with the older wolf.

    “She’s clearing her head.”

    Stiles can hear Scott and Derek talking behind her but she doesn’t let herself focus on it. She feels the gentle tug of energy running through the ground at her feet, a questioning tap, and she smiles. She gives her own mental request back and the natural energy responds, swirling up her bare skin and absorbing into her body leaving her feeling energized and joyful. Once she feels that she is settled she opens her eyes and turns to face them feeling a little bit lighter and clearer.

    “So, what’s the plan?” Scott is looking at her like he’s never seen her before but she ignores it.

    “Get him to acknowledge the wolf and start learning control.”

    “But I’m not shifting or whatever…” Stiles just looks at him and rolls her eyes.

    “You just haven’t shifted yet. It’s going to happen.” Derek steps off the steps and moves to stand next to Stiles. He can see the minor differences in the way she is holding herself that her recharge is helping. “You haven’t been provoked enough yet.”

    “Provoked enough? What do you mean?”

    “Stiles said yesterday that your eyes shifted at practice.” He shifts his focus to her. “Did it happen again?”

    “Yep, it did.”

    “Did you get angry during practice?”

    “Well yeah, Jackson is a dick.”

    “Anger and pain are triggers. Get angry enough or get hurt badly enough and you will shift.”

    “Ok, I vote no injuries please.” Scott raises his hand in the air as he speaks and Stiles just chuckles.

    “You’d heal. So what’s your plan, Yoda?” He doesn’t respond to Stiles and instead motions Scott to come forward. The teen does, walking across the yard until he is standing directly in front of the older wolf. Derek holds his right hand out as if to shake hands and Scott smiles slightly thinking Derek is wanting to start their introduction over. It takes everything in Stiles to keep her mouth shut because she knows exactly what he is about to do. She watched Peter pull this trick on a visiting wolf that acted to big for his britches.

    The moment Scott’s hand is in his, Derek shifts his weight, bringing his left hand forward and up to grab the teens shirt. He continues the motion, lifting him off his feet and flipping him up and over so that he lands on his back in the grass with a gasp and groan. Stiles flinches at the thud, very glad that it’s not her in his position. Scott manages to roll over and push himself up to kneeling and catches his breath. When he looks up at Derek there is a brief flash of gold.

    “What the hell, man?” Derek just shrugs and waits for him to stand. The indifference seems to just piss Scott off more and Stiles almost wants to laugh. With the exception of Scott being a little less colorful with his language it’s almost an exact reenactment of Peter.

    “Don’t like it, then do something about it.” There is no smile on Derek’s face, just determination.

    Scott charges at him, determined to tackle him to the ground but Derek evades him easily at the last second and manages to shove him off balance. Scott stumbles but manages to keep himself from hitting the ground. He spins and charges again but is again evaded, this time with Derek tripping him in the process. It becomes a repeating pattern, charge, dodge, make him stumble, repeat. It’s about the sixth time through that Stiles notices Scott’s eyes have changed gold and stayed. She glances down at his hands and sure enough he has claws.

    Derek notices this as well and on the next charge, he manages to grab around of Scott’s wrist and twist his arm around his back. Scott swings his free arm back attempting to connect with his elbow but Derek manages to stop him, grabbing hold of that arm as well. He brings the pinned arm forward and holds the teens hand in front of his face.

    “Still don’t believe me, Scott.” Scott stops when he catches sight of his own hand and stands there wide eyed.

    “Claws…” Scott’s voice sounds so small with that one word.

    “Yeah, dude. Still only a partial shift but it’s a shift.”

    “That’s my hand…” As he watches the claws recede and he just stares at his hand though what Stiles said finally seems to register. “Partial… you said partial shift.”

    “Yeah, what Derek showed you yesterday was the full shift.”

    “And I’m going to be able to do that?”

    “You will do that Friday.” Derek cuts in bringing up the full moon that’s coming up, but Scott just looks confused.

    “Why would I shift on Friday?”

    “Full moon, Scottie my man.” She waits and watches as it clicks what Friday is for him.

    “But that’s my date with Allison!” He almost looks like he’s about to have a panic attack and Stiles feel slightly sorry for him. Derek however does not and doesn’t hold back.

    “The full moon is going to be your first full shift and you won’t be able to stop it.”

    “But I have to! I can’t miss that date.” Scott starts pacing and Stiles literally face palms at the focus of his concern but then jumps in before Derek can say anything about it.

    “Scott, I get that you are super stoked about getting this date with Allison, but you have got to think about this rationally. If she is half the amazing person that you think she is then she will understand if you explain that you forgot about a prior made plan.”

    “Stiles, you know that’s not going to be how it works out. She’ll think I’m ditching her. This is my one and only chance.” He’s flailing as he rants and Derek can barely contain the groan at the teen’s words.

    “She’ll understand if you do it properly and not just end up ditching her the day of.” Stiles keeps her voice soft and calm as Scott seems to be working himself towards an all out meltdown.

    “Have you seen her, Stiles? She hangs out with Lydia’s crowd! She won’t look at me twice if I cancel.”

    “If she does do that then she isn’t worth it.” Scott spins to face Stiles as he comes to a halt at her words.

    “What do you know, Stiles? It’s not like you have the girl, guy, whatever of your dreams asking you out.” Stiles tries to ignore the sting she feels at his words. “I’m not screwing this up and I’m not going to listen to you about canceling, so just give it up.” He turns and heads towards the porch, snatching up his things and shoving past the Sheriff as he opens the back door to let them know he is home. He watches the angry teen as he leaves and then turns to the two left standing in his backyard.

    “I take it that went as good as you expected?” Derek just glowers and Stiles throws up her hands. “Well come on in and clean up. I’ve got dinner on the table.” Stiles just nods and heads into the house with Derek falling in behind her at a look from John. The smell of food makes Stiles’ stomach growl and for a brief moment she forgets her hurt from Scott as she looks at her father. John holds his hand up to stop Stiles' tirade before it can begin.

    "It's that roast chicken from the deli on main that you like with their Greek salad, and roasted red potatoes. Though I did get some of their garlic bread but it's wheat." Stiles stops and stares at her father in surprise and Scott barely surprises a snicker.

    "That's actually... not that bad a meal."

    "See, I know how to take care of myself." He's setting out plates and silverware. "You two go clean up and then we can eat and talk." They do as they are told and it's only a matter of minutes before they are eating. Surprisingly, Derek is the first to speak.

    "Any news?"

    "Not yet. It's most likely going to be ruled an animal attack, but I have deputies tracking down where all Laura went after arriving.  I'm hoping they may find something that will lead to her killer. What about with you guys?"

    "Scott shifted. He gets to keep his eyebrows though." Derek glares at Stiles' shit eating grin. John has to clear his throat a few times before he can speak.

    "Stiles, I'm sure that not something important."

    "What? It just seems odd. I would think eyebrows vanishing would be a consistent thing." John just rolls his eyes.

    "So anything other than vanishing eyebrows?"

    "Scott has the very basics of control, but with us getting closer to the full moon Friday, it's going to be harder." Derek is calm as he speaks, but he is concerned. He has nowhere safe to keep Scott if it comes down to it. He hasn't had the chance to investigate any of his family's hideouts in the area.

    "And what about him storming from the house?” Stiles picks at her food before she speaks.

    “He’s pissed because he has a date for Friday and I keep insisting he cancel for his own sake as well as everyone else’s.”

    “Got it.” He watches his daughter as he thinks about it and can tell that something about the fight bothered her. "Let him cool down and think about this. He's a teenager still, but he'll make the right choice." Suddenly no one seems hungry anymore and they all start cleaning up. John is putting up leftovers as Derek washes dishes and Stiles dries when Derek speaks again.

    "I think Stiles should take part in the training."

    "Oh?" John isn't exactly eager to put his daughter up against a newly turned wolf, even if that wolf is her best friend.

    "We had humans in our pack. They trained right beside the wolves. Self defence, martial arts, how to outsmart the wolves. It would be a benefit to her."

    "You know the 'her' you are talking about is right here." Stiles is staring at the two men, but it's a thought she had been toying with. "Though I am a klutz, so not sure how much good that would do."

    "Your mother was a klutz, too." There is a sad smile on John's face as he talks about Claudia.

    "Obviously not so much, dad."

    "Oh, she was just as bad as you." He turns and leans against the counter. "She would bump into everything and trip over nothing, but I saw her fight once." Stiles perks up at this news, never knowing her father had seen her mother in action before.

    "We were visiting your grandparents, before they passed, and a rival pack showed up while we were out for a hike. They believed that your mother should be their Red, and decided the best course of action was to take her captive and force her to be a part of their pack." He shrugs as Derek scoffs. "Well she pulls this blade out of who knows where and then just jumped right on into the fight, and it was the most beautiful and terrifying thing I'd ever seen. There were only two of them, but they were massive brutes, and she wiped the floor with them. They ran with their tails tucked after she was finished."

    "Really?"

    "Yeah. Her family's pack showed up just a few minutes after that to make sure we were alright, and then one of the alpha's sons pretty much had to carry me back to the house."

    "Wait, what? Why? Did you get hurt?"

    "No, they were scared I was going to pass out due to lack of air." Derek seemed intrigued by this.

    "Why?"

    "Because," John is chuckling at this point, "after watching that amazingly graceful woman take down two werewolves single handedly, she took two steps and tripped over air after the pack arrived. For some reason I thought it was the funniest thing on the planet and couldn't breathe for laughing. Now I blame it partially on shock." Derek stares at John and John laughs at his daughter's face.

    "That so sounds like mom."

    "Yeah, kiddo. So I believe you can do it to. I will be honest, there is a huge part of me that wants you to turn away from it all." He stops both of them before they interrupt him. "However, I understand that this is something beyond me. I'm guessing you got the box open?"

    "How'd you know?"

    "You are wearing her necklace. I remember her using it to open this really old book one time." Stiles nods and John continues. "My point is, the choice isn't mine to make, and it's not right for me to try and influence you. In truth, you'll probably be safer learning all you can, but the choice is yours if you follow in her footsteps."

    Stiles sits there looking between Derek and her dad. She hadn't really considered not following through as an option until now, but she does remember her mother's warning from the letter. She takes a deep breath and closes her eyes for a moment, letting herself think. Can she do this? Can she take such an important role to what is left of the Hale pack, to Derek? Could she really turn her back on him right now? She knows the answer all too easily. When she opens her eyes she knows her father knows her decision by the look on his face.

    "You were always so much like your mother. Do you have the keys?"

    "They're up in my room."

    "Let's go get them, and I'll show you where they go. Want to join us, Derek?"

    "I'm not sure I sho-"

    "Don't be stupid, Derek. Come on, we're pack." She grabs his hand and pulls him after her, only letting go once she heads up the stairs. John follows the two, waiting under the hatch that leads up into the attic. Stiles comes out of her room holding both keys in hand and John nods before reaching up and pulling the hatch open with a sharp metallic groan.

    Neither one of them have ever gone into the attic much since Claudia's passing. Stiles was never allowed to go up there when she was younger, and has never tried to since. She looks confused at being led to the attic but shrugs and follows her father up the ladder.

    The room is full of boxes and covered in dust, and luckily they have enough room to stand. Stiles chuckles as Derek has a sneezing fit. John picks a path over to a dark corner and pulls two sheets off of the hidden objects. He reveals a beautifully carved wooden wardrobe and cede chest. Stiles stares at them in awe.

    "These were your mother's and her mother's before her. As far as I know these have been passed down for a few generations. They aren't as old as the family, but they are decent in age."

    "They're beautiful." She moves forward, examining the wardrobe first. She notices where the lock should be and sees a metal plate with a beautiful crafted sword going down the center but no lock. She looks to her father for a hint. Instead he just reaches forward and twists it on a hinge, revealing the lock behind it.

    Stiles uses the key with the blade on it and is immensely satisfied when the lock clicks open. She grabs the handles and pulls, grunting slightly when it takes a little more oomph for them to budge and creak open. Her eyes go wide as an arsenal is revealed, and she can hear a low whistle from Derek.

    There is a very eclectic range of weapons inside the wardrobe, from older bows and crossbows, to more modern handguns and rifles. She sees several different types of blades from small enough to hide to a full sword and sword belt. She runs her fingers over a staff near the front, letting her fingers trace the carved ridges.

    "That was your mother's favorite." Stiles smiles at her father's words.

    "Well it looks like my time at the range with you will come in handy."

    "True, though I think we need to invest in a better gun cabinet. We are also going to have to sit down and inspect those before you ever even try them at the range." He's happy when she nods.

    "I have no idea how to use most of this..." Derek clears his throat.

    "I can help you learn to use the staff. I remember watching your mom train with it, and she taught us older kids how to use it too. The bows and such, you are on your own."

    "I would think the crossbows wouldn't be too hard, much like aiming with a rifle, just more factors to keep in mind."

    "Step number one: research how to use everything in here and find out which techniques work best for me." Stiles is excited at the prospect of learning about everything in there and the suggestions from her father and Derek. She shuts the doors with a lingering glance at the staff and then turns the key to lock it back. She then turns her attention to the large cedar chest. It's lock is similar except it's hidden behind a crafted metal ivy branch. Inside she finds half used candles, jars and jars of plants, and a few more old tomes.

    "I think I'm going to need Deaton for this." She's holding up a jar full of black powder, turning it over and over in her hands.

    "I think I agree, kiddo." He glances down at his watch. "Alright, hate to say this but your exploration can be complete for the night. You have school."

    "But dad-"

    "Nope. You can pester Deaton tomorrow and we can figure out a training schedule for you also." He pulls Stiles to her feet after she has the chest locked back. "Derek you are welcome to our guest room, but don't let her keep you up all night with questions. I'm headed to bed." He kisses her on the forehead and heads down the ladder. Derek motions for her to go first and she does with minor complaints. She stops at the guest room and looks at him.

    "Do you think I'll be as good as my mom?" The insecurity is clear in her voice and her demeanor. Derek understands it well.

    "Of course. There was never a question on that."

    "Thanks, Der" She hugs him and heads to her room. She wants to sneak back up there, but she knows her dad is right. And if her feelings are right, things are about to get intense.

Chapter Text

    Friday morning comes way too quickly and way too early for Stiles' liking. She groans as the alarm sounds and Stiles pushes herself out of the bed. It's earlier than she normally would be up, and it's so tempting to crawl back into bed. She'd thought long and hard after being shown her mother's things and there were some important changes she needed to make. She needed to be stronger, faster, and tougher if she was going to end up keeping up with a pack of wolves.

    Her father had let her stay home from school the day before and the two of them had come up with a plan for her with the help of Deaton and Derek. She'd go for a run in the mornings with Derek, followed by yoga at home, before school. For right now she would keep up with lacrosse to help with agility and speed, though she didn't really do anything but warm the bench. Three days out of the week she would train with Derek and Scott after school and three days she would study with Deaton, leaving a full day to rest.

    She dresses in workout clothes and heads down stairs. Derek is already waiting at the kitchen table. Her father had agreed with having him stay at their home, but he had insisted on staying at the motel. Instead he had been given a key so he could come over whenever he needed. Stiles actually stops when she spots him. His back is to her and he is shirtless. There is a lot more muscle than she remembers him having and a tattoo she definitely knows he didn't have. She'd recognize the triskelion with ease, and a weird part of her brain can't help but think it looks hot. She shakes her head to clear that thought and clears her throat.

    "Morning." She grabs a bottle of water from the fridge. "So what's the plan?"

    "Figured a run through the neighborhood to start. We'll work up to running through the Preserve."

    "Sounds good." She tosses a water bottle to him and they head out the door. It's dark out still, and she's glad she won't be running alone.

    Derek lets her set the pace, planning on just using today to see what her fitness level is. He can smell the chemical scent of her Adderall and wonders if maybe their workouts might help her focus better in other areas. He keeps his eyes and ears open for any trouble, glad that her father had suggested him as her running partner. He'd have done it anyway just to keep her safe. Beacon Hills maybe a sleepy little town but there is always someone looking for trouble.

    They don't try talking, Stiles just being focused on breathing and not tripping. She can tell she's not as bad as she could be but she could be so much better. They hit the two mile mark and her side is hurting and she's beginning to pant. Derek taps her on the shoulder, motioning towards the house and she nods, changing course to head back. Once inside, she is leaning against the counter, trying to calm her racing heart.

    "I'm so not going to be able to do this." She leans forward to rest her head on the cool counter, focusing on slowing her breathing.

"You could have been worse." Derek is watching her from the other side of the kitchen, listening to her heart rate.

"Says the werewolf who didn't even break a sweat." She pushes off the counter and turns to face him, her face flushed from exertion, and starts stretching out her muscles to keep from getting cramps.

"I thought you said you play lacrosse."

"Yeah, uhm, play isn't really the term I would use. I'm on the team, yes, but more as a permanent bench warmer and moving target during practice."

"So why be on the team?"

"Scott. He wanted to try out but didn't want to do it alone. We have no girl's team so they couldn't keep me from doing so. I was decent enough that I beat out some of the other worse off players and made the team. I'm not the worst, but no where near the best." She shrugs it off as she bends and touches her toes, grabbing her ankles and pulling herself into the stretch. "I stayed because it was something to do after school and looks good on applications. They only pay attention to my actual skill if I want a scholarship based off of it, which I don't."

"I guess that makes sense." He watches her through a few stretches and then clears his throat. "I'll leave you to finish getting ready. You said practice lets out at when?"

"Should be home by five-thirty ish. Everyone should be headed to the party at Lydia's around seven." She stands up straight, stretching her arms up over her head and causing her spine to pop.

"And Scott?"

"I'll try to talk to him again, see if he's coming by. He wouldn't answer any of my texts yesterday."

"Good luck. I'll be by this afternoon for training." Derek heads out the front door and starts working on his own plan in case Stiles can't make Scott see any sense.

    Stiles waves at his retreating back and then heads up to her room. She manages to go through a quick yoga workout before jumping in the shower and getting ready for school. Once she is downstairs again, she makes a quick breakfast, leaving some for her dad to have when he gets up, and then heads out the door.

    She thinks about how to get Scott to skip the party, but nothing short of putting him in the hospital seems like it will work. She's still really nervous about the fact that Allison is an Argent and kicks herself because she hasn't told her dad about them being back yet, and she needs to warn Derek to be careful.

    The school day goes somewhat smoothly, with the exception of Scott ignoring her every time she brings up the party. It's towards the end of the day and the hall is blessedly empty when Stiles tries again.

    "Scottie, we have to talk man."

    "If it's about the party, I don't want to hear it Stiles."

    "Dude, think about it with a clear head. Missing one party is not going to kill your chances."

    "I've told you no, Stiles. I'm going. Why can't you be happy for me that things are going so great?" Stiles is glaring at him when she notices his phone in his jacket pocket and she grabs it.

    "Fine." She pulls up his text messages.

    "What are you doing?"

    "Canceling your date." She barely has time to blink before she's being slammed into the lockers behind her, air rushing out of her lungs, and she's staring at Scott as he's poised to hit her. His eyes are wolf gold and she can feel his claws where he has her shoulder pinned. Her heart is racing and she goes blank on her self defence classes. She hears the start of a growl when something else drowns it out and startles Scott back under control.

    "McCall!" Stiles looks over his shoulder to see the broad shoulder form of Boyd headed towards them, looking ready to kill. Scott hurriedly lets her go, grabs his stuff, and goes racing towards the locker rooms while Stiles just ends up sliding to the floor.

    "Stiles, you ok?" Boyd is kneeling in front of her, voice calm but worried.

    "Yeah, just a bit of a sibling spat, nothing big." She holds her hand out to him, gesturing for him to help her up. He ends up pulling her up so quickly her head spins and she has to steady herself.

    "That seemed more like he was ready to beat the crap out of you."

    "Nah, he wouldn't have." She hopes. "I gotta go get ready for lacrosse."

    "You sure you don't need to sit out?" He has worry lines clear on his face and she's kinda touched that he's concerned.

    "Yeah, I'm good. Thanks for the hand though." She waves off his final try to talk her out of going to the practice and heads for the locker room. She collapses on the bench, so glad that that is where she is going to be spending her time in lacrosse. She peels off her many layers and grimaces when she sees the blood on her shoulder. There are a couple puncture wounds, but nothing looked like it would need stitches. She uses the first aid kit to bandage up and then changes into her uniform, sending a silent prayer that no one notices her favoring her shoulder later. She is headed out to the field when a hand reaches out and grabs her wrist, startling her. It's Boyd.

    "Jesus, Boyd, don't do that!"

    "Sorry. I just wanted to make sure you were ok." He seems to curl in on himself and has his hands stuffed in his pockets.

    "Yeah, I'm good. Thanks for checking on me." She rubs the back of her neck and smiles. "Gonna watch practice?"

    "Might as well, I'm here."

    "Awesome." She smiles brightly at that. "I better get out there. May be a benchwarmer but Coach will still blow a gasket." She takes two steps before Boyd speaks again.

    "Hey, Stiles..." She turns and looks at him, question clear. "Let me know if he ever acts like that again, ok?"

    "Sure Boyd, only if you promise to eat lunch with me sometime." He seems surprised by her response but nods.

    "Deal." She nods and runs out to the benches.

    Scott is preoccupied with being on the field, so he doesn't try talking to Stiles. She watches everything, shaking her head when he seems too good. Stiles spends the whole time on the bench. Afterwards she waves to Boyd as she heads for her jeep, not even bothering to wait for Scott. She's almost to her beloved vehicle when his voice stops her.

    "Stiles, wait up! Stiles!"

    "What, Scott?" She turns around with a put off sigh, crosse in hand and ready to use if need be as a makeshift baton.

    "Are you okay?"

    "Why wouldn't I be?" Her gaze is narrowed at him and her voice is harsh. "I wasn't the one making a scene on the field."

    "Making a scene? What are you talking about?"

    "You know what I'm talking about." She takes a deep breath before she continues. "You've been given a gift, one you didn't ask for but you got it anyway. You need to be smart about it now. Do you even care that you were ready to hit me? Me of all people?"

    "You were going to cancel my date!"

    "For a reason, Scott! You know what, no. Nevermind." She gets her keys out of her bag while she talks. "You have a choice to make Scott, an important one. Either go to that party with the risk of seriously hurting someone, or cancel and come back to my house and learn how to control it. Until then, I don't want to talk to you." She turns and heads for her jeep, leaving a stunned Scott and a pair of curious blue eyes behind her.

    The whole drive home, Stiles rants to herself about Scott and his one track mind. She loves him, she does, but he isn't the smartest. She manages to calm herself down by the time she pulls up to her house and is somewhat relieved to see the Camaro and the cruiser.  She gathers her stuff and heads in.

    Her father and Derek are sitting in the living room, a game on the tv. John's in his uniform already and Derek is in jeans and a comfortable looking henley. She drops her lacrosse bag at the door, removes her shoes, and walks up behind her father's chair, leaning over it and wrapping her arms around him.

    "Hey, kiddo."

    "Hey, dad."

    "No Scott?" She just shakes her head. "He'll come around. How was school."

    "School sucks. Why do I have to go again?" She pulls back and flops on the couch next to Derek, throwing her feet into his lap and ignoring his glare.

    "Because it's the law, and as Sheriff, it's my job to uphold it."

    "Oh yeah." She shifts in her seat which causes a slight pinch of the bandage on her arm and Derek's nostrils to flare. "So what do we have planned for this afternoon, oh broody one?" He watches her for a moment before answering.

    "Basic self defense, see where you stand. We might do some staff work."

    "And on that note, I only ask that you train out back and Stiles, please be careful not to break anything."

    "Hey, I'm not that bad."

    "I raised you, I know exactly how bad you are." He smiles as he stands. "I'm off to the station. Derek, you have my number if needed?" The young man nods and John heads for the door.

    "Be safe, dad."

    "You too." Stiles pushes herself to standing as her dad walks out the door.

    "Alright, let's get started."  She leads the way out the back door, slipping her shoes on as they go. She stays in her lacrosse clothes, not seeing the point in changing.

    "Have you ever been taught any self defense?"

    "Yeah. Dad's taught me some and I've taken a couple self defense classes that have been offered through the station."

    "That's a good starting point. Let's see what you can do." He reaches out and grabs her wrist without warning and is proud when she doesn't automatically just try to yank her hand back. She watches him for a moment and then twists her wrist, positioning her hand just right before pulling harshly. He nods when she able to break the simple hold, but he knows it would be a harder task with if he was using his full strength.

    He goes through several other scenarios,  glad when for the most part her reaction is instinctual and he only has to coach her slightly. He's also grateful he's a werewolf when she almost gouges his eye. The move is good, so he waves off her apology and takes a few steps away. He decides on one final test and rushes her. He can tell he has caught her off guard, but she catches on quickly. His arms are extended, hands reaching for her throat. She shifts so she's facing him full on and when he is close enough she grabs his hands with her own, and next thing he realizes she's falling back. He feels her foot plant into his stomach and his momentum has him flying over her head. He allows himself to hit the ground with a roll and when he's on his feet he sees that she is already ready to run.

    "Good. Though that move is a bit more than basic." He brushes grass and dirt off his clothes with a small smile.

    "Yeah. Dad taught me that one." She brushes her hair out of her face where it's fallen from the ponytail. "Had me practice it over and over until I could do it and run without stumbling."

    "That's good. We should be able to expand on what you know without any problems."

    "Cool." She stretches and Derek can hear the pop of her spine. "I'm going to go clean up and start some food. You're welcome to stay if you want."

    "Thanks." They head inside and Stiles runs upstairs. She cleans up a bit, checking her shoulder while she is at it, and changes into clean clothes. The small punctures have only bled slightly, and she's sure they'll be healed in just a matter of days. She checks her phone, not surprised when there are no messages from Scott. It's almost time for the party anyway.  

    When she gets downstairs, Derek is seated at the dining room table again and she smiles. It feels like old times to have him there again. She can't help herself as she ruffles his hair, earning a growl, as she walks past him. Derek watches as she moves around the kitchen with ease and he can see so much of her mother in her movements. He waits to make sure she isn't holding anything sharp or breakable before he speaks.

    "Want to tell me what happened to your shoulder?" He watches as her shoulders go stiff and the spoon in her hand clatters to the floor.

"Say what?"

"Your shoulder. You flinched a few times and I'm smelling blood." He watches as she turns. He can tell she is debating on telling him the truth.

"I may have had a slight confrontation with Scott today..." She flinches slightly when his eyes turn blue and he growls. He's standing in front of her before she can even process his movement.

"What happened?" His voice is a rough growl as he reaches for her but stops, hands hovering over her shoulders. He is going to rip into Scott the next time he sees him.

"It was nothing." When she gets nothing but another growl, she sighs and takes Derek's hands in her own. "We had a little bit of a fight about the party. He scratched my shoulder, that's it."

"You mean he lost control."

"No..." At Derek's incredulous look she nods. "Okay, maybe a little." She grips tightly onto his hands when he goes to turn, presumably to hunt down the other teen. "I'm fine, Der, don't even need stitches, I swear." He finally relents and nods, though the anger is still clear on his face. "Besides if I can't handle a little scratch, what good am I going to be as a Red?"

"You shouldn't get hurt by your pack and he needs to learn control." Derek's eyes finally fade back to their normal color as he speaks, though he wants nothing more to go hunting now.

"I'm fine, and Scott will learn control." Stiles lets go of Derek's hands and turns back to their meal. "I'm actually thinking about going to the party to keep an eye on him after we eat."

"That actually sounds like a good plan." Derek moves back to the table and sits, going back to watching her. "Want me to go with you?"

"I think you'd draw more attention than necessary to be honest, Der." She chuckles as she works on putting the final touches to their meal.

"How so?"

"Have you looked in a mirror lately? You are going to have high school girls all over you." She turns over her shoulder and chuckles at his grimace. "So, though I appreciate the offer, I think it's best I go alone."

"You have my number, right?" She nods. "Use it if you need it."

"I will."

*     * *

Stiles is regretting her decision completely. The music is loud, at least one person has spilled beer on her, and she surrounded by people that don’t even know she exists. After they had eaten, Derek offered to take her father his dinner for the night and she had showered and changed. Her hair was still slightly damp, but wavy and just that side of messy that she liked. She dressed in a pair of skinny jeans and her favorite Wonder Woman shirt, and actually put on some makeup. She totally didn't fit in. She takes a deep breath as she scans the room again before moving onto the next. She almost shouts and jumps for joy when she spots Scott and Allison. The two are dancing and so far he seems to be doing ok.

Stiles grabs a drink for herself and gets the sudden feeling of being watched. She turns but doesn't see anything out of the ordinary and so she goes back to keeping an eye on Scott just in time to see him take off out of the room and Allison follow. She stops on her way out due to receiving a text from Derek that simply says to follow Scott and that he will take Allison home. Looking up, she sees Derek talking to Allison and she groans but heads for her jeep. What is Derek doing?

She speeds towards Scott's house, praying she doesn't get pulled over, and is glad to find the car parked in their yard. She uses the key she has and goes searching for Scott. Hearing a crash, she is up the stairs and can hear the water running in the bathroom.

"Scott?" She finds his door closed and locked.

"Go away, Stiles... it's not safe to be here."

"Hey, buddy, it's ok. I can help."

"You need to check on Allison, make sure she's safe."

"She's fine, Scott, got a ride home safe and everything."

"It's Derek..."

"What's Derek, Scott?" She's confused as to how Scott knows Derek took Allison home.

"I know you said it wasn't him... but I know he's the one who did it... "

"Did what?"

"He turned me, I know he did." She can hear a pained growl coming from the other side of the door.

"Derek couldn't turn you, he doesn't have the ability." Scott sounds frantic, and Stiles knows she won't be able to convince him otherwise right now. She wonders what makes him think it's Derek.

"Please, Stiles, you have to make sure Allison is safe, make sure Derek doesn't find her."

    "Dude," She bites her lip, nerves getting to her. "Derek is the one who took her home." She hears a loud growl,  a crash, and then silence. "Scott... Scott... shit..."

    She has her phone out and she's texting her father like mad, explaining that she thinks Scott has shifted and is on the loose. She then texts Derek, asking him where he is and what he's doing. She runs for her Jeep, while looking up the listing for Argent in town. Her heart is racing as she pulls up, gets out, and knocks.

    The door is answered by , Stiles assumes, Allison's mom. She has sharp features, gorgeous red hair, and an air of 'don't fuck with me'. Stiles is terrified and not just because she's sure they are hunters.

    "May I help you?"

    "Hi, Mrs. Argent? I'm Stiles, Scott's friend. He kinda got sick at the party and I was just wanting to make sure Allison got home alright." The Argent woman looks Stiles up and down before turning and revealing Allison on the landing behind her. "Oh, hi. Good, you got home ok."

    "Stiles?"

    "He-ey. Uhm, could I talk to you for sec? While I'm here?" Stiles has no idea why she just asked that, or why she's about to do what she is. This is crazy.

    "Sure, we can go up to my room." Stiles slides pass Mrs. Argent and follows Allison up the stairs. Once in the other girl's room, Stiles takes in the multiple boxes still unpacked. "Sorry for the mess."

    "Nah, it's cool. You guys haven't been in town long right?"

    "No, not long. So, you're here about Scott?" Allison took a seat on her bed, grabbing a pillow and hugging it to her chest.

    "Uhm, yeah. Just wanted to talk is all." Stiles is staring at her feet, trying to figure out if she's lost her mind.

    "How long have you guys been broken up?" Allison's question throws Stiles for a loop.

    "Excuse me?"

    "You and Scott... I just assumed you were his-"

    "Oh god no, please don't finish that sentence." Stiles plops down into the chair at the desk. "Eww. Scott's like a brother, nothing more, I swear."

    "I'm so sorry, I just..." Allison hides behind her pillow for a moment and then faces Stiles again., her cheeks red with embarrassment.  "I saw the fight you guys had earlier and I thought it was a jealousy thing..."

    "No, no, nope, never." She's shaking her head hard enough her hair is whipping her in the face. When she finally stops she has to brush it back. "No, we were arguing about him... well his asthma." Great save.

    "I didn't realize he had asthma. He's a really good athlete for it."

    "Yeah, uh, well... you see..." Stiles takes a breath and an idea forms in her mind. "He just started this experimental medicine and treatment for it, and there is a wide range of side effects. We still don't know how he is going to react to it, so I was trying to convince him to reschedule until he knew how his body was going to handle it."

    "Was that why he left suddenly? " there is obvious concern on her face and Stiles suddenly wonders if she really is a hunter.

    "Yeah. I went to check on him but it hit him kinda hard. He's probably going to be out of commission until Monday."

    "I would have rescheduled if he told me." Allison pouted slightly.

    "Yeah, I tried to tell him that but you're kinda the first girl to ever give him the time of day." Stiles slaps her hand over her mouth as soon as the words are out, and Allison is laughing. "Don't tell him I said that."

    "I promise. Oh, and can you tell his friend Derek thanks again for the ride? Though he seemed a bit old to be hanging with high schoolers."

    "Yeah," Stiles scratches the back of her neck sheepishly. "He's actually an old friend of my family. Just got back in town and my dad has him watching out for me. I grew up with him."

    "He's hot." It's Allison's turn to cover her mouth and Stiles laughs, her own cheeks turning kinda pink.

    "Uhm, I won't tell Scott you said that, and I guess... I mean I've known him since I was a kid."

    "Please don't." Allison's laughter softens and she smiles at Stiles.

    "I should get going." Stiles stands, straightening her shirt, and heads for the door.

    "Thanks for coming by, Stiles."

    "Welcome. I'll see you at school Monday." Stiles lets herself out of the room but is shown to the door by Mrs. Agent, who says she glad to meet a friend of Scott's. As she is driving home, she finds Scott walking along the side of the road and pulls over to let him in.

    "You ok, dude?" Scott looks beat.

    "No. I found Derek in the woods and the  we got chased by hunters, as in werewolf hunters!"

     "Are you okay? Was Derek hurt?" Stiles can feel panic rising in her throat.

    "Yeah, I'm fine, and Derek helped me get away. Stiles, I don't trust him."

    "We'll I do." She's glad to hear Derek was okay but she was going to be sure to call him. "I grew up with his pack, Scott."

    "How do you know he isn't the one who bit me? And you said yourself he's been gone for years." Scott's voice sounds frustrated and panicked.

    "His eyes tell me he didn't turn you." She focuses on the road, calming her own frustration. "Alphas are the only ones who can turn anyone and they have red eyes when they shift." She's quiet until the make it to Scott's house so she can drop him off.

    "Do you trust me, Scott?"

    "Yeah." He looks at her as if that's a stupid question.

    "Then trust me about Derek, please?" Scott just nods before opening the car door.

    "Allison is going to hate me, isn't she?"

    "Don't worry about that right now, okay? Get some rest, focus on control, and talk to her Monday." Scott looks heartbroken as he nods again but he heads inside, and Stiles heads home. She worries the whole way there on if Derek really is ok, but is slightly relieved to see the Camaro parked in the drive. She runs into the house and finds Derek on the couch. She nearly knocks him over as she hugs him, but who can blame her.

    "Scott said there were hunters." Her voice is muffled in his jacket.

    "A few. Scott got hit by one," He stops her as she pulls back in shock, "no wolf's bane and he healed. I got him out of there."

    "Ok." She leans back into him and finally noticed the stiffness to his frame. "What's wrong?"

    "His girlfriend is an Argent..."

    "Yeah, I recognized the name from mom's stories." Derek looks at her in surprise.

    "You knew? And you let him go tonight?"

    "I'm beginning to learn something about Scott," She pulls away from him and begins to pace around the living room, "if you tell him not to, then he's going to push to do so. All we can do is teach him about hunters, teach him control, and pray he doesn't fuck up."

    "He can't trust her, Stiles." Derek stands, pulling her to stand in front of him so she stops her pacing.

    "I know this okay?" She throws her hands up in frustration. "To be honest, I don't even know if she knows anything. At least when I went over there she seemed clueless. Her mom on the other hand terrifies me."

    "You went over there?" Derek's eyes flash bright blue and he looks like he wants to check her for injuries.

    "Down boy." When she receives and angry growl, she sighs. "Scott found out you took her home and freaked. He's convinced you turned him. I went over there to make sure Scott didn't show up."

    "Did they hurt you?"

    "No, I'm fine." Stiles stares into Derek's eyes, willing him to believe her and is surprised when he pulls her into a bone crushing hug.

    "You're all the pack I have left, Stiles. I can't lose you too."

    "You won't, I promise."

Chapter Text

Hey guys!

I am so sorry for the delay in continuing this story. Unfortunately work and life have had me to busy to actually post anything and last month I received a major delay.

I write my stories using pen and paper. That's followed by lots of colorful markers and highlighters for editing. Then I finally type it all up and post when I have the time.

I live in South Georgia, and our house got hit pretty hard by Hurricane Michael last month. In fact a hole got punched through our roof right about where I kept all my notebooks for my writing. I lost everything I had written on all of my stories and am now having to start the remaining chapters from scratch.

I don't know how long it will take me, but I'm not abandoning any of my writing. So, please hang in there with me and I will have these continued as soon as possible

Sincerely,
Valeris Shade