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Satellite to Satellite

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Officially John Stilinski was on a mandatory twenty-four hour rest because he had been on shift since noon the day before, and it was approaching ten the next morning. He had only been scheduled to be on shift until midnight, which is when curfew was imposed for minors in light of the recent spate of murders. They had expected the night to have a few underage drinkers trying to prolong their fun after the dance, and each of the officers were going to take a drive by the known make-out points to catch anyone participating in public indecency. The night was not supposed to involve another animal attack and the disappearance of his son, which led to him embarking on a manhunt that lasted the entire night.

So he was on a mandatory rest, but this didn’t stop him from sitting outside in his car looking through the packet of papers Deputy Remy had handed him before he had left.

John liked Remy, and had since he had stopped Stiles from raising hell in the station by handing him a lock pick kit and telling him to go play. Not the most orthodox approach to be sure, but it had endeared Stiles to him and that was all that mattered in the end.

The packet contained the phone logs for Stiles and his little group: Scott, Allison, Lydia, Jackson, and Danny, hoping there would be something for them to find. But there was a problem. There was only one page for each phone, and most of those pages were empty of actual phone records. The only differences were Lydia’s, which showed she had called Allison at 4:30 pm yesterday, and Stiles', which had two calls to Danny (one at 1:00 pm and one at 6:45 pm) and one call from Scott (at 4:34 pm).

John rubbed the bridge of his nose, his tired mind trying to put everything together. The data made no sense – least of all in backing up Stiles’ story that Derek had called him – because... because there was no record of that. No record of much of anything, but even if they were all frantically deleting their phone records – Danny’s doing, no doubt – Stiles’ phone hadn’t been wiped in the last twenty four hours and yet still there was no trace of Derek which meant –

Well, if nothing else it meant that Stiles had lied to him. That didn’t sit well with John at all.

He folded up the papers and stuffed them in his jacket, not knowing how he was going to handle this. He climbed out of his car and headed to the door, letting out a huge breath as he threw open the front door, looking for signs that Stiles was home like he was supposed to be.

“Stiles, get your ass down here!” he called the moment he spotted Stiles’ shoes. His mind was racing, going over everything he needed to talk about. First: the lying. Second: the talk about Stiles not scaring the shit out of him. Third: Stiles’ need to call the cops when the situation called for it, which probably meant John would have to explain what situations counted as something the cops needed to be involved with.

Hint! If you feel the need to wipe your phone it’s probably something the cops should know about, John thought viciously.

It was going to be a long talk.

He went about putting on a pot of coffee, debating on making it Irish because he was exhausted and he was about to interrogate his son. It was too early for this.

The smell of coffee filled the kitchen and John took a deep breath. He wouldn’t add any alcohol to his coffee. Stiles probably had a completely reasonable excuse for his actions; after all, he was just a kid. A reckless kid who had a habit of making stupid decisions, but deep down he was good. He didn’t go out of his way to get in trouble, and there was probably a perfectly good explanation for what had happened last night. For why he did whatever it was he had done.

Now if only Stiles would come downstairs. John looked up the stairs, waiting for noise that indicated Stiles was coming, but there wasn’t any. He sighed. “Stiles! I am not in the mood for your dawdling!”

John heard laughing and then the door opening and closing. He didn’t know what was so funny and so he just grabbed a mug and filled it with some coffee, taking a large sip even though it burned.

“Hey, dad,” Stiles’ voice trailed off as he came down the stairs, stopping at the door of the kitchen.

John pointed to a chair at the table. “Take a seat.”

He watched as Stiles tensed and then forced himself to relax, face determined. “Okay.” John could feel Stiles watching him as he took a seat and John sat across from him. “What’s up?”

“I think we both know what’s up.” Stiles’ face stayed impassive, though John saw his fingers clench just a little. John took a deep breath and changed tactics. He wouldn’t start off with accusations. He would ease into the phone records, taking his time. “Stiles, do you remember the talk we had when you were eleven?”

Stiles looked taken back by the change in tune and that’s what John wanted. Stiles was smart, and he was hiding something. If John wanted to know what that something was he would have to play dirty to get to it. “We had a lot of talks, dad.”

“This one was specific. It was about civil responsibility, and what that meant.”

Stiles huffed. “Dad, I know I should have called you about Derek, but I was just so relieved to hear from him. I’d been driving myself mad—“

“You didn’t get a call from Derek,” he snapped.

He wanted to regret it, thinking he had shown his hand too soon, but Stiles just stared at him in shock, eyes looking frantically around, before John took pity on him and pulled out the phone logs.

“You pulled my phone records.”

“You were missing, Stiles. Of course I pulled your phone records. And Scott’s, and Danny’s, and Lydia’s, and Allison’s. Hell, I even pulled Jackson Whittemore’s phone records, just to try and find you. Great help that was, since every single one of you had your phone records wiped. And you want to know what’s funny about that?”

Stiles’ face was closed off and John hated it, he did, but this was too much. All his frustration was coming out in this moment and he couldn’t hold it back. His son had been missing for ten hours, and there hadn’t been a trace of him.

“What? When you pulled Derek’s phone it was the same.”

John resisted the urge to slam his fist on the table, trying to pull it back. “Exactly. Now tell me, Derek Hale didn’t call you last night, so how did you know where to find him?”

He was worried for a moment, now that it was out there, now that he had called Stiles on his lie, that he had pushed too far. There was always that possibility, and he definitely hadn’t played this the way he had wanted to initially. Whatever he was going to say to change tacks was stopped though by Derek Hale appearing in the doorway of the kitchen.

John almost knocked over his coffee as Stiles turned around slowly, face looking a mix of relieved and annoyed.

“What the hell is he doing here?” John asked.

Stiles winced. “I invited him over?”

John was sure his face didn’t look impressed. “Why?”

“Because he just got out of being kidnapped by a crazy lady and I figured he shouldn’t be alone? Because his apartment was ransacked by the police and I didn’t think he’d want to see that?” Stiles asked, but John wasn’t really paying attention to him. Not when Derek Hale, who had been missing for two weeks, was taking a step into the kitchen, and then sitting down at the table with them.

“Stiles is lying to protect me. I wanted to come and tell him it’s okay to tell you.” Derek gave Stiles a look, and John watched as Stiles returned it with one of disbelief.

John stared at them before Stiles finally let out a loud huff and shifted in his seat, returning his gaze to John. He didn’t speak for a moment, and John had to stop himself from making a go on gesture.

“I knew he was there,” Stiles said, posture changing suddenly, and it could only be Derek that gave him that confidence. “I’d known for a few days.”

John nodded, because that much had been obvious. “Why didn’t you go to the police?”

“Because the reason Kate Argent had me locked up wasn’t something the police could deal with,” Derek said. He looked uncomfortable, and John could only begin to imagine what Derek was involved with.

“You both are aware that the police exist specifically to deal with things that you don’t think they can deal with? The mob? We deal with that. Terrorists? We deal with that. Drug dealing? We deal with that. Am I going to have to make a flowchart for you? One of those ‘does it look like something is dangerous, yes or no’ type of things. Because I will. Trust me, I’ve thought about. And all the answers will lead to call me, because the police deal with it.”

Derek and Stiles both shifted in their seats and John watched them exchange looks again. He had known they hung out, but now he was wondering if their friendship ran deeper than he had imagined. These were the sort of looks that Stiles would exchange with Scott when they were younger. It was at that level of silent communication.

Stiles finally spoke. “You can’t tell anyone, dad.”

“I’ll make the decision on that,” John said.

Stiles sighed, but it was Derek who spoke. “Kate attacked me because,” he laughed, as if he couldn’t believe he was going to say this, “because I’m a werewolf and she’s a werewolf hunter.”

John blinked. Once. Twice, and then a third time, slowly, just for effect. “What?”

Derek huffed. “I’m a werewolf. Most of my family was. The Argents are werewolf hunters. All the attacks that have been happening in the past couple months, those were all werewolf related.” John raised an eyebrow and Derek continued quickly, probably guessing where his mind was going. “Not me. A different werewolf. Don’t worry, we took care of him.”

John looked at Stiles. “You knew this?”

Stiles fidgeted for a moment and then nodded. “And that’s not all. I’m also a werewolf.”

“You’re not a werewolf, Stiles,” John said.

Stiles looked personally offended. “I totally am! I am a vicious creature of the night!”

“Not dressed like that you aren’t,” John said, pointing at the pajamas Stiles was wearing. He then looked at Derek. “Now Derek, him I could believe. If werewolves were real.”

And just as he finished that statement Stiles’ face had twisted into something awful, reminiscent of something off of that supernatural show Stiles and his mother used to watch together. Except if memory served those things had been vampires, and Stiles had said he was a werewolf.

“You,” he started and then Derek’s face had shifted as well.

John’s chaired squeaked as it scraped against the floor when he pushed it back, getting up to add some Bailey's to his coffee. “This isn’t real,” he muttered.

When he turned back around he could almost believe it had all been a joke because Stiles and Derek’s faces were back to normal. But from the tense posture of both of them he knew it wasn’t that way.

John sat back down heavily, putting his coffee down. “This is real.” Stiles nodded slowly, sharing a look with Derek. “You two, werewolves are real?”

“We are, but we don't – a lot of the lore is wrong. Like I said, my family were werewolves, going back generations, but not everyone was actually a wolf. Instead of biting everyone, we can pass it on genetically, but it ends up being like brown eyes. Some people get the gene, and it’s the dominant gene, but not everyone gets it. Sometimes someone can be blue eyed or green eyed. That’s not in the lore,” Derek said.

“I’m going to be honest with you, Derek, I don’t know a lot about mythology. That was always...” he trailed off for a moment, before collecting himself. “That was always something I wasn’t interested in.”

Derek shrugged. “The point is, werewolves aren’t what movies make us out to be. We aren’t blood thirsty creatures, and we can blend in well. My family lived in Beacon Hills for years and no one ever knew.”

“Someone found out though,” John said, putting it together quickly. “The Argents?”

Derek paused, but then nodded. “Kate. It was just her. She didn’t light the fuse, but…” he trailed off.

John rubbed his chin. “No, it was two of the guys who died in the animal – the werewolf attacks. Another werewolf.”

“My uncle,” Derek said.

John looked at Stiles. “Explain it all to me, from the beginning.”

Stiles took a deep breath and then launched into his story. He and Derek told it together, filling in when the other one would drop off. It started before Christmas, and while Stiles didn’t give the exact day he had been bit John could suss it out. He remembered Melissa telling him about how Scott had gotten lost the night they had found Laura’s body, and he hadn’t thought anything of it at the time, but now - well, it was the only time that made sense. Stiles out in the woods, not by himself initially, but eventually getting separated, and then attacked.

The two of them didn’t mention all the murders that had happened - and they were all murders, not animal attacks - and John knew from Stiles’ shifty eyes that it was intentional, that there was more to the story than what they were saying. He wondered what else he was missing, what he hadn’t been able to put together yet.

He knew Derek’s history with the Argents was deeper than he mentioned, and John’s mind kept replaying the lie Derek had fed them at the hospital. Involved he had said, but it hadn’t been the same way he said that she had burned his house down. It was easy to connect the dots when he thought about it. Derek was only sixteen, Kate Argent in her early twenties. He was the logical target if you wanted to get an in.

The two of them didn’t need to say everything explicitly, and John knew they weren’t, because he could connect the dots. He had enough for now. More than enough. He was almost overwhelmed, especially when Stiles caught up to last night, and how “the Alpha took over, he just ravaged everything, killed Kate Argent, killed the other hunters, and if we hadn’t - if Derek hadn’t...,” Stiles trailed off, tucking in on himself.

John rubbed his face in frustration because that was something messy he didn’t want to think about. “So let me get this straight. The Cliffnotes version: Stiles was bit by your uncle, a werewolf, after he killed your sister for her alpha powers.” John made sure to air quote that part. “But he’s dead now, and so you have the-“ he made a hand gesture – “magic powers. And there are werewolf hunters who want you dead.”

“But we have an alliance with them now,” Stiles said helpfully.

“Of course,” John said, “an alliance. But before that you didn’t, and so one of these hunters kidnapped Derek with the intention of killing him. So Stiles joined up with your uncle to rescue you.”

“And when Stiles and my uncle rescued me, my uncle killed Kate,” Derek said, crossing his arms over his chest.

“Yeah, there’s also that. But even though that happened the other hunters still approved an alliance? Is this a thing that normally happens?”

“As long as we don’t go around turning everyone, or killing people,” Derek said.

“Are you going to turn anyone else?” John asked.

“We have to,” Stiles said. “At least two more if Lydia doesn’t heal. The pack needs three other werewolves besides Derek. Derek has me, but I’m not enough.”

“So, what? Your other friends?”

Derek shook his head. “Allison and Danny already rejected my offer.”

“What about Scott and Jackson?”

Stiles laughed. “Can you imagine either of them as a werewolf? We’re building our pack to be strong. We want it to last. Scott doesn’t want to be a werewolf; he likes his humanity. And Jackson’s not pack.”

“So you’ll just take someone new in?”

“We’re going to choose carefully,” Derek said.

“And the hunters, the Argents? They are okay with this?”

Derek shrugged. “It was part of our agreement. We need to build a pack. Chris understood, and accepted the terms.”

“Okay,” John said, finally taking a drink of his coffee. There was too much Bailey's in it, and he had to stop himself from coughing it back up.

They fell into a lull. John could see Stiles fidgeting across from him and that was always a sign that he wanted to say something. He had found it was better to let people come to you with their thoughts, and it was obvious Stiles was having some.

John was proven right when Stiles leaned forward, hands clasped in front of him. “So am I not grounded anymore?” John quirked an eyebrow, waiting for an explanation. “It’s just, I wanted to go see Lydia. Later today. I kinda told Allison and Scott I would take over for them at noon.”

“Take over?” John asked. “What, are you keeping watch on her? Stiles, we have a police detail on her, and her parents have been called in.”

Derek shook his head. “The pack needs to keep an eye on her. Just in case she heals, and just in case...” he trailed off but John heard the unspoken worry.

He heaved a sigh. “Don’t get in the officers' way, but I guess if it’s some pack thing.” Stiles lit up and John couldn’t believe this was his life now. His son was a werewolf. The guy who he had hoped was going to be a positive influence on his son was another werewolf.

Beyond all of that there was danger that he couldn’t protect his son from. Hunters, other werewolves, the options were endless at this point. If werewolves were real, anything could be. John looked at Stiles again, and gave him a faint smile. “I’m going out. I’m sure you’re both house broken enough not to mark your territory.”

“Ew, dad,” Stiles said even as Derek snorted.

John still needed time to process all of this, but it didn’t stop him from heading outside, getting into his car and driving to the Argent house. Mandatory rest was stupid anyway.

***

The doorbell rang just as Victoria was serving pancakes to the gathered hunters. Chris was working out how to explain that a new Alpha meant new rules, and welcomed the chance to get away from the oppressive feeling of the kitchen. The others didn’t know what had happened; they hadn’t even broken the news about Kate yet. They had agreed not to until her body was found.

He stood up and headed to the door, opening it with a cordial smile on his face, prepared for a range of people, from his neighbor who liked to trade recipes with Victoria, to Melissa McCall looking for her son. He was even prepared for the police, though it still surprised him when he came face to face with the sheriff, John Stilinski. Stiles’ father, his mind reminded him.

They had only met face to face once, the night after the kids were attacked at the school, and it hit him then that so much more must have gone on that night than he had been expecting. The Alpha had definitely been there, and Allison had probably seen him. It hit him like a punch in the gut to be reminded of it, and he tried to keep the smile on his face. “Yes?”

“Mr. Argent?” John smiled tiredly as he flipped his badge. “I’d like to ask you a few questions.”

“Anything for Beacon Hills' boys in blue,” Chris said, trying to seem relaxed.

John smiled briefly, looking down at himself. “Boys in tan seems to be more accurate.”

“You’re absolutely right,” Chris allowed. “But still, what can I do for you?”

John glanced over Chris’ shoulder. “Could you step outside? So we can speak in private?”

He looked at John, really looked at him. He was exhausted, that much was obvious. He had probably been up since yesterday, but it was more than that. John was here on a mission it seemed, and Chris had to wonder what it was. He nodded and stepped onto the porch, shutting the door behind him. He turned back to John, raising his eyebrows expectantly. He wasn’t going to repeat himself.

“Let me cut the crap,” John said simply, voice dropping. “Your life mission is hunting werewolves. My son is a werewolf. Now according to him, you and Derek and him have a deal, but I just want you to know that if you lay a finger on him – or Hale – or any of their pack, I will personally make sure that at minimum a hard drive worth of child pornography will be found on your computer. And-“

Chris glared, cutting John off. “Are you threatening me?” He was thrown off guard. Of all the things he was expecting, someone – the sheriff especially – coming out swinging about werewolves was not it. Obviously he had been told, and Chris almost had to admire Stiles for making that move.

“No, I’m just telling you the truth.”

“I honor my bargains, Sheriff,” Chris said, because he did. He was keeping his mouth shut about Stiles, hadn’t even told Victoria yet that there was another beta. “I can’t make promises for any other hunters though.”

“Well, you better figure out a way,” John said. “You hunt monsters, and that’s fine. I can even respect that, I guess, but my son and Hale aren’t that. They have done nothing but survive.”

Chris bit his tongue, because it would be so easy to ruin everything, to let it slip, your son is a murderer. He is one of those monsters. He and Hale killed people in cold blood last night, and they had human teenagers help. But he didn’t. He understood John and his motives, could see them plainly. John was a father – a fiercely protective father who was only looking out for his son. Even if he might think his own son was a monster as well, Chris could see that it didn’t matter. John had chosen Stiles’ side, as he should.

Chris nodded sharply. “I’ll see what I can do.”

John made a sound of agreement, and Chris started speaking again. “Kate is buried about 200 yards east of the Hale house.” John looked up in surprise. “It would be best you let her body rot for a while. Her death is going to cause – issues within the community.”

There, that was his olive branch.

“Derek says he was found out by route 32. So we have no reason to search by the Hale house. And I’ll tell them to keep their heads down.” John gave him a faint smile, accepting the olive branch.

Chris snorted. “They’re surprisingly good at that.”

John shrugged. “Derek did just escape from being a prisoner of one of your hunters. Obviously he wasn’t that good.”

Chris couldn’t stop himself from wincing. John said it so plainly, but Chris could still detect the anger. “Kate is an outlier. Not the norm at all.”

“But there will be backlash,” John said.

Chris couldn’t argue it. “Derek is a known werewolf to us now. Soon the others will figure out Stiles is as well, especially when they start building their pack. Packs are easy to spot, once you know werewolf dynamics.”

“We’ll just have to cross that bridge when we get to it. But as long as they don’t do anything you keep to yourselves. Are we clear?” John shifted as Chris reached for the door handle, adopting the serious stance he’d been in when Chris had opened the door.

“Crystal, Sheriff,” Chris said, giving him a strained smile.

“If we find anything else out about your sister, you’ll be the first to find out. Thank you for your time, and have a wonderful day,” John said, holding out his hand.

Chris took it, since that was all he could do. “Thank you. You, too.”

John walked away, back to his car, and Chris watched him go. He stepped back inside and immediately saw Victoria standing by the door leading to the kitchen, looking concerned.

“The police are looking for Kate.”

Victoria’s eyes went wide. “Already?”

“It seems like they got to Derek. She’s a suspect because they had a history or something.”

“What did you tell them?”

Chris shrugged. “Told them I hadn’t seen her since last night, when she left for the party.”

“This is bad,” Victoria said, face tense.

“It is, but we should wait it out. See when they find her body.” He grabbed her shoulder, trying to comfort her. “For now all we can do is wait.”

Victoria nodded. “Agreed. Once Gerard gets here, he’ll know what to do.”

Chris winced, knowing that wouldn’t be the best idea, but he didn’t know how to say it. So he kept his mouth shut. Already he was lying for the pack, but he had a reason. There were repercussions if he didn’t. He had to do what he could to keep his family safe.

***

The hospital was still bustling with activity when Stiles walked in at 11:30 He had taken time to shower and have a quickie with Derek after his dad had left. It was good to relax before his shift at the hospital. His plan had been to bring Derek along, but he understood Derek when he said it wouldn’t be a good idea. Lie low, that was the objective.

Scott was asleep on Allison’s shoulder, dead to the world even as the cops on duty gave their lunch orders to the rookie, Deputy Benson. Allison looked up when Stiles dropped into the seat next to her, handing her a cup of tea. She smiled in thanks, and rested her head against his shoulder.

“Any changes?” Stiles asked as he watched the officers disperse on a shift change.

Allison shook her head. Stiles had already guessed there weren’t, but it didn’t hurt asking. “Her parents got here about an hour ago. Took them a grand total of fifteen minutes to get into a fight,” Allison sighed. “Her mom left.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Stiles said. “We’re here.”

“Yeah, well, we can’t make medical decisions for her. So it does matter that her parents are fighting.”

Stiles wrapped his free arm around Allison. It was nice that she didn’t freeze, didn’t seem to be second guessing him, or the pack. “As long as they have her best interests in mind that’s all that matters. Now, I’m here to relieve you guys.”

Allison smiled faintly up at him. “Scott’s mom gets off at noon. She’s driving us home. I’ll probably be back after I sleep.”

“Danny and Jackson are coming back at 8.” Stiles pulled her closer, careful not to jostle Scott too much, so he could chew on his thumbnail.

Allison smacked his chest weakly. “That’s gross,” she muttered. “So what are we going to do about overnight shifts? Is Derek going to take those?”

Stiles shrugged. “Derek and me probably. And he’ll watch her during the day when he have to go back to school.”

Allison groaned. “Don’t remind me. But, uh, we should at least take turns on overnights, cause what are you gonna tell your dad?”

Stiles made a face, guilty. Derek and he had been so strict about the secret keeping, and of course they were the first ones to spill the beans. Allison’s dad didn’t count, since he already knew about werewolves. “Well, he already knows this is kinda pack business.”

Allison shot up, and Stiles winced as he heard Scott topple over. Allison grimaced, slowly turning to look at Scott, who was blinking sleepily on the floor, holding his head. Stiles touched his own forehead in sympathy.

“Sorry, babe,” Allison said.

Scott opened his eyes slowly. “No problem. You know me, I love being on the floor.” He stood up with the help of Stiles and Allison and settled back into his seat. “So do I get to find out why I was tossed on the ground or are you guys not gonna tell me about the kiss you just shared?” He smiled self-deprecatingly, and Stiles couldn’t keep the return smile off of his face.

“No worries on that front, buddy.”

Allison laughed. “Yeah, you’re a much better kisser.” She kissed him on the cheek, causing Scott to beam.

Stiles didn’t bother to argue, figuring it was pointless to try and distract them from what he had said, when he knew he couldn’t avoid the rest of the pack knowing about his dad. He cleared his throat, stopping Allison from cuddling up to Scott. Allison’s expression cleared and she went from smiling to frowning, waiting for him to confirm what she had inferred. Stiles coughed, looking around to make sure no one was paying attention to them, and then spoke quickly, ripping it off like a band-aid. “I told my dad I was a werewolf.”

Scott’s eyes went wide, and then he moved, switching seats so he was on the other side of Stiles. “Holy shit! Did he ground you?”

The worst part was he looked so earnest, like he truly believed that was the worst that could happen with that kind of confession, that Stiles couldn’t even make fun of it. A glance at Allison showed that she couldn’t either, and so instead Stiles let out a big breath and shook his head. “No. He uh, he didn’t believe me at first, but he does now, so that’s something? We have the police on our side at least.”

“You think it will give us leverage against the hunters?” Allison asked. “Cause if so I will rub it in my dad’s face the moment I get home.”

Stiles knew she would, too. He smiled, wrapping one arm around her shoulder, burying his face in her hair. This was pack and he could, after all. “I don’t know. I doubt he’ll defend us if we do anything first-“

Scott cut him off. “But you don’t plan on doing anything first! Do you?” He sounded unsure, and when Stiles looked at him he couldn’t help but wrap his other arm around Scott, so he had two members of his pack near him.

“No, we don’t, but it depends on how the law sees us. For now let’s not mention it to your dad, Allison. We’ll cross that bridge if he pushes it.”

“It’ll be our trump card,” Scott supplied helpfully.

Stiles grinned and switched from Allison to Scott, breathing in his scent as well. They were all starting to smell the same, and Stiles was looking forward to the time when they formed one cohesive pack scent.

“I’m glad your dad took it well,” Scott said, hugging Stiles back.

“Me, too,” Stiles said. He felt both of them relax against him, and he leaned back, letting the feeling of pack wash over him. He knew they would be expanding soon, and once he got back to school he would be on the hunt. The list he had made was only the start, and he was going to pick the best pack possible if he had his say.

They stayed like that, Scott and Allison drifting off to sleep curled up against him until Melissa McCall came up to them, putting on her coat. She looked fondly at the three of them as Stiles shook them both awake gently.

“I’ll be back,” Allison promised as she yawned, putting on her own jacket. Scott nodded in agreement, latching onto her hand as he followed his mom out of the hospital.

Stiles watched them go and then pulled out his DS; he needed something to entertain him, and there was something special about Japanese games telling him he sucked even when he perfected a level.

***

Allison woke up from drifting off again to Ms. McCall shaking her awake. “You’re home,” she said, pointing awkwardly to the house.

Allison untangled herself from where she was wrapped around Scott, half-embarrassed because wow, she hadn’t meant to fall asleep. It was only a ten minute ride from the hospital to her house, after all. Scott startled awake when she pulled away, but went back to sleep relatively quickly when she patted his head, whispering a quick, “bye Scott.”

Allison climbed out of the car and headed into her house, waving tiredly at Ms. McCall. She opened her front door, trying to be as quiet as possible. She didn’t know if her dad had already called other hunters over, and if he did she wanted to at least hear what they were saying, even if she was exhausted.

It didn’t matter how quiet she was though, because the front door still squeaked as she tried to shut it, and her mom and dad appeared, both looking frantic.

“Hey,” she said, waving tiredly.

They were on her, both hugging her tightly and Allison was taken aback. Especially by her dad, who knew she was okay, had seen her. That didn’t seem to stop him from muttering along with her mom that they were glad she was okay, and she must have been so scared, and poor Lydia and that animal attack.

That made Allison pull out of their hug, looking at her mom, who had said that, and her dad, who was trying to look so earnest. “I’m fine,” she said, just to say something.

Her mother clucked, finally seeming to look at more than her face. “And your dress is ruined. You must have run out to the football field.” She was eyeing Allison’s dress, and now that Allison was finally aware, she had to admit she looked pretty beat up. Her dress had dirt on it, but it luckily hadn’t torn too much during the trek though the woods.

“Yeah,” Allison said slowly, glancing at her dad. He must not have told her, she realized. Mom doesn’t know I know about anything. “I was one of the first to find Lydia after, after the attack.” She put on a brave face, because if that was how they were playing it then she would play her role perfectly. She reached down, taking her mom’s hands and squeezing. “Hey, I’m so exhausted. I’ve been in the hospital all night, and I want to take a nap.”

Her mom nodded, smiling fondly at her as she cupped her cheek. “Of course, dear. We have a little company, but they’ll be gone soon.”

Allison returned the smile. “Sure.” She looked around, deciding to go all out with her role. “Uh, where is Aunt Kate?”

And like magic her mom’s face fell, obviously not prepared for that. “Well,” she finally said, “we don’t know. Looks like she didn't come home last night.”

Allison looked at her dad, whose face had darkened now that he realized what she was doing. He didn’t answer though, staying quiet. Allison spoke. “Well, I saw her talking to our Economics teacher last night, so who knows, right?” She tried to make her smile sunny, but she knew it didn’t come out like that.

It was too weird, having a conversation where everyone was trying to hide something. Allison squeezed her mother’s hands one last time, and then broke away from them, heading up to her room with a final goodbye. It didn’t surprise her though that her dad followed her upstairs, and Allison left her door open so he could follow her inside, shutting the door himself.

“You didn’t tell mom?” She asked.

“I didn’t tell your mother that you knew,” he acknowledged.

Allison sat down at the edge of her bed. She would need to change and shower, but not yet. “Why?”

Her dad took a deep breath, and she could see how tired he was. “It would have caused too many problems. Contrary to what you seem to think, I don’t want to eradicate all werewolves.”

Allison snorted. “Oh yeah? That’s why you shot Stiles?”

She waited for her dad to snap, to defend himself, but instead he just stayed quiet for a moment, obviously collecting his thoughts. “He had just killed my sister—“

“She’d kept Derek trapped in the basement for two weeks, torturing him,” Allison said, standing up. “Derek didn’t do anything! Derek is always trying to protect us. Both of them are!”

“Allison this stuff isn’t as black and white as you seem to think it is,” her dad tried, but Allison didn’t want to hear it.

“Kate was wrong,” Allison said.

“That didn’t mean she had to die!” Her dad was trying not to shout, she could see.

“And neither do werewolves. The pack isn’t bothering anyone. We were actually trying to protect people.”

“I know that!” He took a deep breath. “I’m on your side, Allison. That’s what I’m trying to tell you.” Allison waited. “I want you safe. Above everything, I want you and your mother safe. If lying and going against what I was taught will keep you safe, then I’ll do it. Every time.” Her father took a step closer, and Allison didn’t back up. She wasn’t afraid.

“You’ll leave our pack alone? You won’t interfere?” It was burning in the back of her mind that they had the police on their side. Stiles’ dad knew, and so that was something to use against the hunters.

“I can’t promise that, Allison. I can’t protect you from everyone.”

“We don’t need your protection, dad,” Allison said, allowing him to grab her by the wrist. “We are strong together.”

“That’s what scares me,” her dad admitted. “I’m supposed to protect you.”

“I protect me. And I protect the pack.”

She felt her dad squeeze her wrist. “I know.” He took a deep breath and dropped his hand. “I’m going to let you get out of that dress, and shower. You deserve the rest.”

Allison watched as her dad left her room, shutting the door as he went. He was trying, she couldn’t deny that, even if it went against his instincts. She grabbed her towel and a change of pajamas, and headed towards the bathroom. She could hear people leaving, and she knew her dad was kicking the other hunters out. She wanted to trust him, wanted to believe him, but she couldn’t. Not yet. Maybe not ever. But it was okay, she had made her choice and she was okay with that.

***

It was odd living in the Stilinski house now that Stiles’ dad was aware that he was there. Derek had helped John (because that is what Stiles’ dad insisted he called him) clean out the third bedroom, that had become a storage room over the years. By Monday he was supposed to be sleeping in that room, and Derek was seriously debating the merits on dropping hints that Stiles and he were more than friends. The cons were obviously winning in that battle, because from where Derek was standing there were no pros, but it was still something he thought about.

As it was Derek woke up every morning in the third bedroom after sneaking back in sometime in the middle of the night. He went downstairs with Stiles, who had to go back to school, and helped make coffee and breakfast. Now that Stiles didn’t have to hide the fact that he didn’t need as much sleep, he wasn’t. It had caused John to look at both of them oddly when he came downstairs Monday morning, but Stiles had just waved his hand saying, “werewolf side effect,” before serving up the whole wheat pancakes Derek had helped him cook.

At least cooking had endeared Derek minutely to John. He still could feel the weird looks John was sending him, no doubt trying to figure out if Derek had another angle he was working. Since Derek knew he didn’t there was no point in worrying what John thought.

John would leave for work, and out of politeness Derek would leave with him. Wouldn’t do to have John know he was used to being in the house alone. The first thing he did on Monday was at the suggestion of John, and that was find the “motel” he was held at and leave a paper trail.

The paper trail had taken the help of Danny to accomplish, and while Derek wasn’t a forensics expert, he was assured by John that it was completely plausible that after he escaped one of the accomplices went back and cleaned out the hotel so when the housekeepers went through they didn’t notice anything suspicious.

Once he had laid the paper trail, which didn’t take too long in the first shitty motel he found that accepted cash, Derek visited the hospital during the day, keeping an eye on Lydia’s vitals. He never went inside the hospital of course, not wanting to draw attention, especially when he spied a few of the lesser hunters creeping around, no doubt also checking in to see if the bite had taken yet.

Derek thought about going to visit Chris and telling him what was going on, but thought better of it. He did mention it to Allison, though, Tuesday afternoon, when he realized it might become a pattern.

“Well, that’s why we are taking shifts,” she said from where she was sitting on the couch. The Stilinski house had become the unofficial, official, pack meeting place. “So when Lydia does turn we will get to her first, not them.” She chewed on the end of her pen as she looked over her pen. “But I’ll mention it to my dad if it doesn’t stop. Maybe if we show good behaviour he will, too.”

Stiles snorted. “Train them like small children?”

“Well, that’s what they are right?” Allison asked sweetly, even as her eyes darkened in annoyance.

Derek thought it was good that the pack was getting along. They would need to, not only to ensure the development of the pack, but also because of the upcoming danger.

Derek didn’t know much about the Alpha Pack that was coming, just that they would come and judge him. He needed a functioning and steady pack by that point, or else there would be no point. So the mission was recruiting, which Stiles was going to be doing.

“It’ll look less suspicious if I’m approaching teens rather than you, Mr. Leather Jacket,” Stiles said from his computer chair later that afternoon, after Allison and Jackson had left for their shift at the hospital.

It would look less suspicious to the hunters if they weren’t seen in the same pairs. If the hunters noticed a pattern they would jump to conclusions too quickly, about who was and wasn’t pack.

“How are you gonna ask these people?” Scott asked from where he was sitting on the floor. “And what happens if they go running for the hills? Like ahhhh werewolves!” He waved his hands around like a lunatic, trying to show how people would overreact.

Derek snorted. “If Stiles doesn’t screw up we won’t get that.”

“I won’t screw up, don’t worry,” he said, smiling at Derek as he kicked his shin gently.

Derek ignored him. “And we won’t be throwing out the offer first thing. The plan is to integrate the new members of the pack, because we already have a pack. Don’t forget that.” He shot a look at Stiles, who nodded.

“Exactly. We just need betas. I figure you humans are gammas or whatever.”

“We don’t have a specific name for human members, Stiles,” Derek said, taking a seat on the bed. It smelled like Stiles and him, and he liked it.

“Well, we should,” Stiles said, as if it were that simple. “And I have decided on gamma.” He turned back to his computer where he had a spreadsheet of the various people he had picked out. He seemed to be cross referencing potential picks with how they reacted to the news of Lydia, because according to Stiles, caring about pack was in the top five most important things they needed in another beta.

Derek wasn’t so sure he agreed one hundred percent with that, but he understood where Stiles was coming from. Pack was important, and they had started their pack through hardship, so it might be difficult for new members to fit in. It would take a thirsty type of person, who wasn’t afraid to wade into a close-knit group.

Pack was for life.

Scott leaned over Derek, distracting him from his thoughts. “So are you gonna get a new apartment?” Derek arched an eyebrow. “Just, you know, not sure how Stiles’ dad will feel about pack meetings being held here. And you know, secrecy and all.”

Derek snorted. “We can always trudge out to the woods if you’re so concerned about secrecy.”

Scott’s nose scrunched up and he shook his head. Stiles had told Derek all about their treks through the woods when they were looking for him, and it seemed like those memories lingered with Scott. “Nope, I’m good.”

“As long as my dad is cool with it there’s no reason Derek should leave,” Stiles said, not looking up from his computer.

“But won’t hunters get suspicious?”

Derek shrugged. “Argent knows who is in the pack.”

“Yeah, but Allison says he’s not telling anyone,” Scott reminded them.

“Doesn’t matter. He already probably spread it around to his other hunter friends that I was a werewolf, and since Stiles rescued me everyone in town will know soon that we are friends. Humans may be able to think it’s just a case of a teen having good luck and a ridiculous crush on me, but hunters will see it differently.”

Scott frowned. “So Stiles isn’t really that safe?”

“I’ll be fine, Scott,” Stiles said, actually looking up from his computer. Derek glanced at him, and he could see that Stiles really wanted Scott to not worry. “We rode out my secret as long as we could. I’m head beta of the pack. If hunters want to mess with Derek they will have to deal with me. You gammas though, you guys can stay anonymous.”

Derek groaned. “Stiles, you are not going to make gamma stick.”

“Watch me, buddy,” Stiles shot back. “When Lydia wakes up she’ll help me.”

“I like it,” Scott offered, and Derek just groaned again.

“When Lydia wakes up she’s going to tear you apart for picking something that makes no sense,” Danny said as he came back in the room holding a plate of Hot Pockets.

It wasn’t the most healthy snack, but Scott and Stiles didn’t seem to care as they dove onto the plate, each grabbing two and happily munching on them.

Danny shared a look with Derek, who shook his head. He wasn’t in the mood for food, still running over plans in his head.

Find betas. Find a new meeting place. If he felt truly safe he would rebuild the house, but with the danger of the Alpha Pack, he didn’t want to risk it. He didn’t want something permanent like that to call his own just to have it taken away again.

“Are you at least going to get a new car?” Danny asked, obviously having guessed part of their conversation.

“John is working on the paper work to get my car out of impound, so I can start fixing it up,” Derek said, ignoring the look Stiles got on his face when he called his dad by his name. Stiles had issues apparently.

Danny grimaced. “Have you seen the car yet? It was pretty beat up from what I remember.”

Derek shrugged. “The car means a lot to me. My cousin from Jersey gave it to me when he moved. I want to at least fix it back up.”

“You know how to fix cars?” Scott asked, and like that the topic was changed.

Derek could feel Stiles watching them all from the computer chair, and he knew that he was feeling smug. They may not have the betas yet, but they were a pack, not just people who planned and fought together. They could have conversations away from that, and while Derek wouldn’t say they were friends, it was something.

***

The animal attack on Lydia Martin was all anyone could talk about for the next week. Isaac Lahey hadn’t been at the dance, because he hadn’t had anyone to go with, and he didn’t really talk with anyone at school, but he still heard all about it. He knew everyone at the school was going to visit Beacon Hills Hospital, but he waited until Wednesday. The news had already died down by then, something Isaac thought just showed how uncaring the masses were, and so there wasn’t anyone else there to see him when he came in holding a balloon and a fresh bouquet of pansies. He had been assured by the florist that these were a good choice for a “get well soon” message, and that they would stand out amidst a bunch of well-wishers.

Isaac didn’t think there would be a lot of flowers still remaining. Flowers didn’t stay fresh long, so unless Jackson, or Allison, were watering them constantly, they were likely wilting by now. Which was fine with Isaac, because he just wanted Lydia to have healthy flowers, no matter how long it took her to wake up.

The hallways were quiet, and when Isaac turned down towards Lydia’s room, he wasn’t surprised that there were only two people waiting, though who it was did surprise him.

Danny was seated right across from Lydia’s room, reading a textbook. Lounging over two chairs was Stiles, playing a Nintendo DS. He was leaning against Danny’s side, both of them looking comfortable with one another despite the fact that the rumor mill reported they had had a messy breakup.

Danny looked up when Isaac approached, slowing down. He wasn’t embarrassed to be delivering the flowers. Everyone else had already, so what if he was late. And at least it wasn’t Jackson.

“Hey Isaac,” Danny said, smiling. “What brings you here?”

Isaac looked down at his bouquet and balloon. He hadn’t expected Danny to know his name, but they were both on the lacrosse team, even if he was a bench warmer. “I, uh, wanted to leave these for Lydia.”

Danny’s smile didn’t fade as he looked at the door. “You can leave them outside her door. When her dad gets back he’ll take them in.”

Isaac nodded, careful as he walked over and placed his bouquet down, tying the balloon around it. “Has there been any change?” He asked as he stepped away, looking at the door. “No one at school seems to have any update.”

Danny shook his head, smile disappearing for the first time. “No. Same old, same old. She’s in a coma, and the longer she’s under the less of a chance the doctors give her. Not that we believe them!” He was quick to say, glancing down at Stiles who was still tapping away at his game. Isaac couldn’t tell if he was being rude on purpose, or honestly didn’t register his presence.

“I really hope she gets better,” Isaac said, because he had to get that off his chest. He knew he probably looked like every other person in school, stopping by and giving their well wishes, but he wasn’t. He may not have been friends with Lydia, and she definitely didn’t know he existed, but it didn’t stop him from knowing she didn’t deserve this.

Danny smiled again, settling back into the uncomfortable looking hospital seats. “You and us all.”

Isaac had so many questions he wanted to ask. He wanted to know if Danny spent all his time here, or if he traded off. Isaac had noticed that Lydia’s group – her true group – was small, just Jackson, Danny, Allison, Stiles, and Scott. He wanted to know if they all came by. He figured they would. If he had friends he knew he would. He would do anything for his friends. Even though it made him ache with longing it still felt good to know that some people had that.

“I’ll, uh, probably be back some time next week if she doesn’t wake up.”

“No offense, but I hope you don’t come back,” Stiles said, and it made Isaac jump because he had forgotten that he was even there. He watched as Danny smacked the back of Stiles’ head, frowning at him. Stiles made a face back. “What? I’m saying I want her to wake up.”

Isaac watched as Danny’s face softened, and he really wanted to know what the story behind this relationship was, because where he was standing it seemed like they were still together. Danny broke eye contact with Stiles to look at Isaac. “You don’t need to wait that long to come back if you want. We won’t mind if other people sit with us.”

Isaac didn’t want to ask who we were. He figured it must have been the rest of their group, because it didn’t look like anyone else was stopping by. They probably had better things to do on the weekend.

“Maybe,” he said, not wanting to commit. Not wanting to show much he wanted to just sit down next to them and feel like he was a part of something. “I work late, so you know. Maybe.”

Danny just continued to smile. “Well, don’t hesitate if you ever want to. Having someone to talk to would be better than having someone who is just obsessed with his video games.” That last part was directed straight at Stiles, and Isaac watched as he just snorted, tapping away at his DS.

“Maybe,” he said again, raising his hand to wave.

Danny waved in return, and Isaac felt him watch as he walked away. He tried not to think about it too much, but when he was halfway down the hall he looked back, and saw Danny leaning over Stiles whispering. It was just paranoia that made him think they were talking about him. They had no reason for them to be, after all. And Isaac didn’t really care if they were talking about him, because he had dropped off his gift for Lydia, and that was all that mattered.

He saw Allison and Scott coming up the walkway to the entrance as he left, and he held the door for them. Allison smiled at him, though he doubted she recognized him. Scott did however, grinning.

“Thanks, Isaac!”

“No problem.”

Scott lingered in the doorway. “Are you skipping practice too?”

Isaac gave him a look, because he thought it was pretty obvious that he was, since he was here and not at the school. “Yeah. I wanted to give Lydia some flowers.” It was embarrassing to say it out loud like that, but Scott didn’t seem to judge him.

“That’s good, really good. A lot of the flowers already started dying, so we’ve been throwing them out.” He looked sheepish as he said that, and glanced at Allison. Isaac risked looking at her as well, and saw her looking fondly exasperated, and when Scott followed his gaze his eyes suddenly went wide and he whipped back around to look at Isaac. “We aren’t going to throw out your flowers! I mean that would be super rude! We would never!”

Isaac couldn’t stop the laugh that bubbled up. “It’s fine. I actually came today because I figured a lot of the flowers would be thrown out by now, and she would need new ones. But if they start dying feel free to throw mine out, too.”

Scott’s face relaxed from the panicked state and he seemed to realize Isaac wasn’t offended by what he had said. “No problem.”

“But keep the balloon! It shouldn’t deflate for awhile.”

Scott’s eyes crinkled and he nodded. “Of course not. I wouldn’t even know how to throw out a balloon. I mean, except release it into the wild or something.”

At that Allison actually coughed around her own laugh. “Scott. We aren’t releasing balloons into the wild. I’m pretty sure that counts as pollution and is against county regulations.”

“Allison is probably right,” Isaac supplied helpfully, feeling awkward when he realized he was talking with people. That wasn’t supposed to happen. No one ever talked with him. No one laughed with him. Not even the other loner kids. He saw Scott open his mouth to say something else, and Isaac quickly raised his hands. “Sorry, I really have to get going home. I have work in a couple hours,” he hesitated, “and my dad likes me home before dinner.”

Scott turned back to him, that friendly smile still on his face. “Okay. I’ll see you in school tomorrow, maybe?”

Isaac nodded in agreement, knowing that was technically true, but he wouldn’t hold his breath. Once they got back in school Scott would probably have forgotten about this whole conversation. “Yeah. Sure.”

Allison waved to him as she pulled Scott into the hospital, and Isaac watched them walk away until an orderly pushed by him, reminding him he needed to head home.

***

Stiles had barely noticed Isaac walking away when Danny was leaning over him, getting in the way of Stiles’ view of his DS screen and the robots he had to fuel up.

“What?” Stiles asked, annoyed that he could no longer see. He was on a roll, and he was doing this blind, since he didn’t have headphones, and had the sound off. It was difficult!

“What about Isaac?” Danny asked, and it took Stiles a moment to register what he meant. When he did he sighed.

This had become normal over the past three days. Someone would come in, bringing flowers and well wishes, and not always, but sometimes, they would somehow do something to catch Danny’s eye and he would want to know if Stiles thought they would be a good member of the pack. Isaac was an option, checking off the box that Stiles had for the new member being disposable, but that was it.

Stiles didn’t know anything about him besides that.

“I don’t know, wasn’t really paying attention,” Stiles muttered, but he shut his DS because he knew Danny wasn’t going to let this go. He didn’t the last four times, and only one other of those people had even been on Stiles’ initial list. He knew he shouldn’t have shown Danny that.

“Bullshit,” Danny snapped, half-playful. “He seemed concerned about her, and he waited to come when he thought no one would see. He wasn’t doing it for status, like other people.”

“So he’s a nice person, Danny. A lot of people are nice.”

“Yeah, but not a lot of people were on your list. And so far the only people from your list who have stopped by were Isaac and Melanie. And you crossed Melanie off after you saw her flirting with Scott.”

Stiles shrugged. It had been more than that. Melanie had brought her little sister with her, and Stiles couldn’t do that to someone, risking breaking up a family. Their new betas would need to be only children, or at least estranged from their siblings.

“Isaac doesn’t have anyone. It’s just him and his dad. He works at the cemetery. He’s not the smartest kid in school, but that doesn’t seem to be so much because he’s dumb. I think there’s probably more going on with him. He can take a hit on the field, so I know he’s tough.”

“Oh my god, Danny, have you been stalking potential people?” Stiles asked.

Danny just gave him a look. “Of course I have. I may have said no, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want the pack to have the best. I vetted everyone on your list and I have arguments prepared for every single person I think we need.”

Stiles bit back the question that was rattling in his head, why didn’t you just take the bite? He knew why Allison didn’t, but not Danny. It would be so much easier if Danny was a werewolf with him, because then they could share the deeper understanding of pack, the thing that said in his gut Isaac wasn’t the best choice. Sure, he was a good choice. Stiles could easily see him smelling like pack, but he wouldn’t be perfect.

Stiles wanted perfection, and if Danny was planning on recruiting with him then it would help if he saw things the way Stiles did.

Before Stiles could continue talking, Scott flopped into the seat besides Stiles’ feet, looking excited. Stiles glanced at him, confused by his excited heart beat, and then looked at Danny. It clicked.

“You’ve been having Scott help you vet people?”

Danny just looked proud of himself as Scott beamed. “I like Isaac. He’s good people. A little shy, but I bet we can work him out of it.”

Allison gave all three of them a look. “Wait, are we recruiting new people already?”

Stiles heard his, “no,” get overpowered by Scott and Danny’s, “yes,” and he sighed.

“Maybe,” he admitted. “Isaac was on my initial list, and I guess he made it onto Danny’s list. But I don’t want to make any rash choices.”

“He should sit at lunch with us tomorrow!” Scott said excitedly. “To see if he fits, right?” He looked at Stiles earnestly. “That’s how we all became pack, isn’t it?”

Stiles gave Scott a weird look, because in the simplest of terms, yes, that was how it had happened. He had sat down at lunch with Danny, Jackson, and Lydia. At first there had been other people sitting with them, hanging around because of Jackson, or Lydia. But slowly those people had left. They had realized they didn’t fit and so it had become the six of them.

Applying that to a new person might work. Or they might scare someone away. Stiles wasn’t sure he wanted someone who would scare away though, so maybe this was the best course of action.

“Fine,” he said. “We’ll invite him to lunch tomorrow! Will that make everyone happy?”

Danny and Scott both beamed at him, and Allison gave her own faint smile. “I think that sounds like a good idea,” she said. “The first one will be the hardest to recruit. Once we do that, though, we should be fine for the second one right?”

Stiles sighed, feeling that he was defeated in this argument. He sat up straight, pulling his DS back out, intent on aggressively beating this level because he apparently couldn’t win a simple argument about werewolves against his human friends.

He listened as Scott, Allison, and Danny fell into a comfortable conversation. In an hour he and Danny would be off duty, but he would come back at ten, when Jackson was doing a short shift, and stay until the morning. Convincing his dad that being a werewolf meant he didn’t need as much sleep had been as simple as being up bright and bushy tailed at 5:00 am for the past three days.

Though he wasn’t sure if this was just his dad’s way of testing to see if he was full of shit, and waiting patiently for Stiles to crash. It wouldn’t happen, of course.

Derek was waiting at home when Stiles got back, and he didn’t look that uncomfortable, despite the fact that he was sitting at the dinner table with Stiles’ dad. Both of them looked up when Stiles came in, and it only took Stiles a moment to realize his dad was reading one of his favorite books from the Hale collection about werewolf mythology. It included detailed accounts from members of the Hale family dating back a few generations, both human members and werewolf.

“How was your shift?” His dad asked.

Stiles shrugged. “Same old. I noticed you’ve called off your own patrol. Not even the rookies were there today.”

His dad snorted. “They are combing the woods, looking for signs of Kate and her accomplices. Tomorrow we’re going to be expanding the search to just brush the edge of the old Hale property.”

Stiles sat down heavily. “So by Friday you guys will find the body?”

“We should, yes. And then we’ll be paying an official visit to the Argents, Mr. Argent has already assured me he’ll cooperate completely.”

Stiles looked up sharply, and he saw Derek doing the same from the corner of his eye. “When did you talk to Mr. Argent?”

His dad gave him a look, and Stiles knew it for what it was. He had managed to pull one over on Stiles, and he was pleased with himself. “Saturday morning. Unofficially, of course. Just to check out a few leads. I went back on Monday with Remy to take an official statement when he reported her officially missing.”

“You went and threatened the hunters?!” Stiles asked.

“I wouldn’t call it threatening. We just talked, and got on the same page.”

Stiles couldn’t believe it. His dad had approached the Argents without him asking. And it had to have gone well, if Stiles was guessing correctly. He had to have been, because Allison hadn’t reported anything suspicious at her house, and Stiles sure hadn’t seen anything. He had been checking too.

Derek looked from Stiles to his dad. “Will you need another statement from me when you find the body?”

“No, I don’t think so. You were locked up, after all. You don’t know anything.”

“Did you guys ever find that motel, by the way?” Stiles asked, because he knew that had been a worry. Derek had said on Monday that he had taken care of laying the groundwork for it, but Stiles hadn’t heard any more since then.

His dad nodded. “We had two of the boys go look into motels yesterday. They found the right one, but the room was clean. Such a shame.”

“And you don’t think that will come back to haunt anyone?” Stiles asked.

“The Argents would have to be the ones to bring it up, and they won’t,” Derek said, sounding confident.

Stiles could see that logic. His dad shut the book he was reading, and stood up. “I’m meeting a few of the guys for a brain storming session over take out.”

“Order healthy!” Stiles said, smiling as his dad just shook his head.

“Don’t burn the house down while you guys plan whatever it is you plan,” his dad said, waving at them as he grabbed his coat.

Stiles waved back, his grin fading as his dad left. He turned and looked at Derek. “Did you know Danny and Scott have their own list of betas picked out?”

It didn’t annoy him as much as he thought it would to see Derek shrug in response. “They should get a say. Why? Did they pick someone you don’t agree with?”

Stiles shook his head. “No, they picked someone I had already thought about. But, it’s just weird. Accepting more people in. Everyone else already had a connection. It was you and me, and with me came Scott. And then Danny, and Allison came along because of Scott, and Lydia and Jackson were because of Danny. But that’s as far as we extend. Lydia doesn’t have anyone else she is super close with, neither does Danny, or Scott. So this will be a completely new person, and that,” he took a deep breath. “What if we make the wrong choice?”

Derek stood up and walked up to Stiles, dropping down so he could press his forehead against Stiles'. “We aren’t going to make the wrong choice. You aren’t going to make the wrong choice. We are going to be fine.”

Stiles licked his lips, staring at Derek’s eyes. “How can you be sure?”

“Because we’re awesome, Stiles. Don’t you remember?”

Stiles closed his eyes and nodded, dropping his head so he was nuzzling into Derek’s neck. “Yeah. I remember. I just thought this would be easier. I would be able to smell the right person and it would click.”

“Like you and me?” Derek asked. Stiles nodded, and Derek laughed, pulling Stiles out of his hiding place and kissing him. They had done this every night since Derek had been back, and in every moment they could get alone, but it still felt new. Stiles loved the feeling of Derek cupping his cheek, teasing him with soft kisses before deepening the kiss.

He moaned as they broke the kiss, and Derek pressed his forehead back against his. “Upstairs?” Stiles asked, breath coming in short pants.

Derek nodded, standing up, holding Stiles’ hand as he did. Stiles followed him up the stairs and into his room. He made sure to shut the door as he did, because even if they could hear people coming the illusion of privacy was something he still liked.

His dad had been really good about accepting werewolves. It was too much to ask him to accept him being with Derek, and what that entailed.

Stiles moved in front of Derek, pulling him on top of him on the bed, and back into a kiss. Derek slid in between his legs, grinding his hips down and making Stiles whimper into his mouth.

It didn’t take them long to get rid of their clothes, because Stiles got impatient the longer he felt Derek’s cock rubbing against his own through their jeans.

“We should probably look into you getting your own place just so that way we’ll get more privacy,” Stiles said when Derek pulled away to grab the bottle of lube from his bed-side table.

Derek snorted. “Perfectly reasonable.” He nudged Stiles’ inner thigh to get him to spread wider, and Stiles happily obliged him.

The first finger Derek pressed into him had Stiles wriggling. He was getting used to the pressure, as well as the stretch. It didn’t hurt that much now, though he knew if they started to have sex less that would change. But for now, with regular sex, he was able to enjoy this from the beginning instead of having a few moments of discomfort.

Derek added a second finger, and Stiles moaned for more, rocking his hips happily back against the two fingers inside him. Derek was taking his time though, curling and scissoring his fingers like he enjoyed watching Stiles beg for more.

He probably does, Stiles thought.

Derek took his time, pausing every so often to lean down and kiss Stiles, even as he continued to work him up. Stiles whimpered in his mouth, trying to get him to go faster, to replace his fingers with his cock. Anything to get Stiles closer to the edge.

His cock was so hard he could feel it throbbing as it rubbed against Derek’s stomach. He needed to come, but with the way Derek was playing him it didn’t seem possible.

“I love seeing you like this,” Derek muttered, nipping at his shoulder where there were already bruises from yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that.

Derek liked biting him, but it was okay, because Stiles liked returning the bites. He gave Derek’s earlobe a sharp tug with his teeth. “Less talking, more fucking.”

Derek chuckled, and finally, finally removed his fingers. Stiles moaned when he felt the blunt head of Derek’s cock press against his opening, and he wrapped his thighs around Derek’s waist, trying to push him to go faster.

And then Derek was inside him, and Stiles was wrapping himself around Derek, arms and legs, so Derek’s face was pressed into the side of his neck. He loved this moment, when they first became connected and all of Derek’s warmth was being transferred to him.

Then Derek started to move, and it just got better from there. Stiles rode out the fucking Derek was giving him, clinging even as Derek tried to pull away to get a deeper angle.

It felt so good, and Stiles had to hold back from dropping his hand to his own cock. Not yet, not yet, he kept thinking to himself as Derek’s pace picked up.

He could feel the beginnings of Derek’s knot start to swell, and he finally wrapped his hand around his cock, pumping once, twice, three times until his come was splattering on his and Derek’s stomach. Derek came a few moments later, his hips stuttering as his knot filled and he tied himself with Stiles.

Stiles moaned in pleasure, not bothered by the weight of Derek just yet. He knew in a few minutes he would be, and it would make him regret allowing Derek to do missionary. Being on his hands and knees at least allowed him to breathe when Derek rested his weight on him. But for now this was alright.

Derek was kissing and licking up and down his neck, getting his scent all over him, and Stiles started returning the feeling soon enough, hands traveling up and down Derek’s back.

“Feel better?” Derek asked.

Stiles hummed in reply, mind pleasantly blank for the time being. He couldn’t even remember what he was supposed to be stressed about, and it didn’t come back to him until Derek was pulling out of him half an hour later.

“Oh god, we’re gonna have to tell any new guys about werewolf dicks,” Stiles said in horror.

Derek shoved the shirt he was giving Stiles to clean himself up with in his face. “Shut up, Stiles.”

 


Stiles shared two classes with Isaac: Chemistry followed by Home Economics. Luckily everyone else in the pack was in Chemistry as well, which made it the easier class to approach him in, instead of waiting until lunch to ambush him. It also allowed for him to have Scott for backup, instead of going into this alone.

Scott put pretty much everyone at ease.

So Stiles made a bee-line straight for the table he knew Isaac sat at everyday, and sat down right next to him. Scott pulled up a stool and took the seat on the other side of Isaac, even if they weren’t technically supposed to sit three to a side.

Isaac’s eyes went wide in surprise, even though he tried to hide it.

“Hey Isaac!” Scott said, taking out his notebook.

“Sup,” Stiles said, as he did the same.

Isaac looked between the two of them, and then even more in surprise as Allison, Danny, and Jackson sat at the table right in front of them. Allison and Danny both made a point to wave to him, but Jackson didn’t. Not that Stiles was surprised. That would have been a little too freaky for anyone to handle.

“What are you guys doing?” Isaac asked, voice low.

Scott was the one who took over, because he was better at this whole talking thing. “I told you we’d see you again today, didn’t I?”

Isaac looked between the two of them, and then shrugged. “I guess?”

Stiles could see Allison’s shoulder sag as she sighed, and then she turned around, smiling gently. “We wanted to know if you wanted to sit with us at lunch today.”

That got a reaction out of Isaac. His eyes went wide in shock and he really looked at all of them. “What?”

Jackson finally turned around, rolling his eyes. “God, it’s not like we’re asking for your virginity. I’m already outnumbered by freaks right now because Lydia’s in the hospital, so you aren’t going to change anything.” He grunted. “You’ve got a wicked throw when Coach actually gives you a chance, and you’re not bad at defense. Since I’m benched for the rest of season I want to know at least some people will be competent in my absence.” And with that Jackson turned back around, crossing his arms over her chest, and huffing.

Stiles couldn’t keep the smile off his face as Isaac continued to stare at Jackson. His smile got even bigger when Danny leaned over and whispered “thank you” to Jackson.

Chemistry class went along just fine, now that Isaac seemed to have passed their first test. He hadn’t gone running and screaming! That was a good thing. Stiles stuck close to him as they went to Home Ec together, even though he could tell how much it was unnerving Isaac. Stiles couldn’t blame him. The pack had never shown interest in expanding before, which meant they had never really spoken to anyone else before. Stiles wasn’t sure how it went in lacrosse practice, but when he had still been on the team he and Scott hadn’t paid attention to Isaac.

This was really weird, no doubt, but Isaac seemed to be taking to it like a champ.

Still, he was being extra careful around Stiles, in a way he hadn’t acted with Scott, or Danny, or Allison, or, hell, even Jackson. Stiles was beginning to worry that Isaac could sense his inherent-wolfiness, because he couldn’t begin to fathom why Isaac would be so weird around him.

But besides being wary, Isaac was looking to be a good choice for the Bite. He was smart, though he did get nervous when he thought he was going to mess up, but that was how a lot of people were. When he was left alone, he was able to get his sewing machine set up perfectly, a lot faster than Stiles did. He had hidden talents, Stiles could tell, and the pack could bring those out of him.

He cocked his head to the side, admiring Isaac working. Yeah. Danny had maybe been right about this one. If Isaac got through the next couple weeks with them, maybe Derek and he would offer the Bite.

Isaac looked at him nervously, probably not used to the attention, and Stiles turned away quickly. He didn’t want to make Isaac any more uncomfortable than he already was.

So he was surprised when Isaac took the initiative and leaned over into Stiles’ workspace. “I just want you to know that I’m not interested in you like that,” he said, before quickly pulling away.

Stiles blinked, and turned slowly to look at Isaac. “What?”

Isaac still looked nervous, like he was waiting for something bad to happen to him. “I heard you and Danny broke up, and I just want you to know, I’m not interested in you.”

Stiles’ mouth opened and closed over and over again, before he finally got the words to speak. “Listen, Isaac.” Stiles looked around to make sure no one else in class was paying attention to them, and was pleased to see they weren’t. “I’m sure you’re a great guy, but I’ve already got someone.” Stiles pulled down the collar of his shirt, hoping that the bites Derek had left on his shoulder had healed over enough not to make them look as bad as they had actually been. “And he’s kind of my life? So no. I’m not talking to you because of that. I promise. I just want to be friends.”

Isaac couldn’t take his eyes away from Stiles’ shoulder, even after he covered it back up. He just nodded dumbly. “As long as we’re clear, I guess?” He asked, voice weak.

Stiles grinned. “Exactly! Now help me figure out how to work this sewing machine, would you?”

***

Allison was the only one allowed to sit in Lydia’s hospital room. The boys had to always wait outside, and since Allison was rarely on shift by herself that meant she didn’t get to actually see Lydia that much. But tonight she was on shift by herself, at least until eleven when Stiles and Derek would come by to watch her.

Lydia looked pale, and she was already starting to lose weight after being on feeding tubes for nine days. The nurses wiped her down every other day, when they turned her to make sure she didn’t start getting bed sores, or so Ms. McCall told Allison when she came in to check on the two of them.

Allison knew Lydia would be annoyed to hear about what she was being fed, and how she was being treated. Sure, it was what needed to be done, but Allison felt like if Lydia knew she would wake up, just to make everyone stop. Especially her parents. Allison hadn’t seen Lydia’s mom since the morning Lydia had been brought in, though the nurses’ talked amongst themselves that she came by. Usually it was her dad though. He was the one to make the rule that only Allison could sit beside Lydia unsupervised.

Allison reached for Lydia’s hand, trying to ignore the fact that it was limp. She knew eventually it would grip her back. She just needed to heal from whatever had happened.

Things were getting rough, and they needed Lydia back. First, they had finally found Kate’s body, and her funeral was going to be in a few days. Allison wasn’t looking forward to it, but she would play along with what her dad wanted. Second, Isaac was looking like he would join the pack. Allison was happy with that, but she knew Stiles didn’t want to make the decision until they had everyone’s consent. He didn’t want anyone to feel like they were being replaced.

Lydia would be able to reassure everyone on both counts. As much as Allison loved the pack, and they supported her, Lydia was her best friend. She had a way with words that would make Allison feel so much better about how her family situation was going. And Lydia would make the pack feel more balanced. It would feel like Isaac was a replacement. Isaac would be the addition they needed.

She squeezed Lydia’s fingertips, intent on picking up the book she had brought with her to read, when she felt it. It was small, but Allison swore she felt Lydia squeeze back.

She dropped her book and leaned over Lydia.

“Lydia?” She whispered, gripping her arm.

Lydia shifted, she actually moved, and the monitors were going crazy as her vitals changed. Allison lit up, but she didn’t reach for her phone just yet. No doubt Stiles and Derek would hear her vitals change and they’d be on their way soon, but she just needed to see Lydia wake up.

“Lydia, come on. Wake up. Please. We’re so worried about you.” Allison felt silly for saying it like that, but she needed to do something up until Lydia’s eyes finally fluttered open.

Allison couldn’t stop herself from letting out a happy sob. She hadn’t give up yet, not on her best friend, of course not. But it still was such a relief for her to be alright.

She knew the moment Lydia’s eyes focused on her, because her lips parted and she tried to speak. No words came out, her mouth parched.

Allison reached for the jug of water on Lydia’s bedside table, pouring her a glass. She helped Lydia drink as much as she needed, not even worried if that was the right thing to do or not.

“Is the pack alright?”

Those were the first words she spoke, and Allison let out another sob as she nodded. “Just you, only you were hurt. All of us, we’re fine. Peter he—“

Lydia nodded, eyes dark. “I remember.”

Allison entwined their fingers and squeezed her hand, just to feel her squeeze back. “I’m going to get the nurses.”

Lydia looked down at her side, where it was still bandaged under her dressing gown. “Has it?”

Allison shook her head, but she reached over Lydia with shaking hands just to see. Maybe it had finally healed and that was why she had woken up. Allison lifted the bandage up, and winced as she saw it had healed, but only a small amount. Normal healing speed. When she looked at Lydia’s face she only saw disappointment.

“I’m going to get a nurse,” Allison repeated, putting the bandage back on. “Stiles and Derek will be here soon.

Lydia just nodded slowly, lying back. Allison knew what she was thinking. She’d somehow survived the Bite. But she hadn’t turned. Allison had no idea what that meant. For now she was just happy it had happened.

Chapter Text

The doctor spoke to her like she was stupid as he ran various tests on her to make sure that she hadn’t suffered any long lasting damage from being in a coma. He thought it would come as a shock that she had been out for nine days, and Lydia didn’t have the heart tell him that it was obvious, considering how she felt. She could tell from the moment she woke up that she had lost weight, could feel the exhaustion in her muscles from not being used that much. That was her only hint that she hadn’t been out too long. They hadn’t started working her muscles.

When the nurses finished removing all the tubes from her body, and god did that suck?, the doctor had allowed her father, and by extension Allison, to come back into the room while he continued to fill her in on what had happened to her. Lydia was sure the eye roll she sent Allison’s way conveyed how she felt about the entire situation.

The fact that Allison was the only member of the pack there had thrown her. She had been sure that the rest of them were waiting just outside, but they never came. She didn’t even see a glimpse of them when the doctor stepped outside with her father.

“We’ve been taking shifts,” Allison said as she slid back onto the bed, making sure not to snag any wires when she hugged Lydia. “If you had woken up an hour later it would have been Derek and Stiles who would have been here.”

Lydia returned the hug, even though she felt sticky in that way that comes from not showering for days. “You said they were coming.”

Allison didn’t let go of her, burying her face in Lydia’s shoulder. “Yeah, they probably heard your vitals change. Werewolf senses, you know?”

Lydia froze as she heard Allison start to sniff. She was not prepared for this kind of emotional display. Her dad she could see freaking out like this; she had been surprised he hadn’t burst into tears the moment he laid eyes on her, but Allison? Crying? Nope, not happening.

Lydia awkwardly patted her back, wondering if that was enough to calm her down. She was saved from anything else by her father coming back into the room, raising his eyebrow at her terrified expression, and Allison clinging to her, body shaking as she tried not to cry.

Her dad coughed lightly, grabbing Allison’s attention. She pulled away from Lydia carefully, wiping her eyes as she tried to pull herself back together. Lydia was glad to see she wasn’t the only one uncomfortable when faced with the emotions of others.

“The doctor says that you should get more rest, so even though I’m sure you and Allison want to catch up, it is almost eleven o’clock,” her dad said, walking up to the bed so he could touch Lydia.

She smiled and reached up, grabbing a hold of his hand. He had been holding back since she had woken up, especially because Allison had immediately monopolized the post beside her bed. Lydia could only imagine what it had been like during the day. Her father beamed at her, leaning over and kissing her forehead. Lydia tried not to wince because she was gross and needed a shower.

“I’m so happy you’re alright.”

She patted his back awkwardly, because seriously, feelings. She couldn’t glance at Allison to roll her eyes, but she felt like Allison probably knew because she felt Allison grab her free hand and give it a sympathetic squeeze.

“It’s okay, Daddy. I’m fine.”

The door to her room banged open, and Lydia jumped as her father pulled away, letting her see that it was the rest of the pack waiting in the doorway, Stiles and Derek up in front, with Danny, Jackson, and Scott poking their heads out to see her.

“Lydia!” Scott called, and suddenly all five of them came rushing forward.

It was obvious that her father had no idea what to say as the boys rushed her, only stopping at the edge of her bed because of the wires she was still hooked up to. Lydia had no doubt that if they could they would have found a way to climb onto the bed together. Even Derek, which was a hilarious prospect, especially because if their plan worked, he was now the Alpha.

Jackson reached for her first, even as her father started to protest.

“Guys! I know you’re all--” Whatever he was saying was drowned out as Jackson hugged her, whispering his own words.

“So worried about you. So fucking worried.”

Lydia hugged him back, burying her face in his shoulder, and holding on until he pulled back to give her a kiss on the forehead. Then Stiles was pushing him out of the way, and Jackson was letting him. Lydia only had a moment to process that before she felt Stiles’ face in her neck, sniffing her. Making sure she was alright.

She hugged each of them, letting them touch her and know she was alright. She understood because she needed the tactile sensation as well. She was just thankful that only Scott seemed to be tearing up.

When they all finally stepped back - but not too far - Lydia couldn’t stop herself from beaming at them, even as her dad tried to shoo them away. It was the pack. They were here.

“Let them stay,” she said. “Please, Daddy? Just for a few minutes?”

She saw her father’s resolve crumple, even as he side-eyed Derek, who was standing right by the headboard. “I don’t want you tiring yourself out.”

Lydia huffed. “Daddy, I did just spend nine days in a coma. I think I’ve gotten enough rest.”

He gave them all one last look, but he stepped backwards, heading out of the room. “Five minutes. And then I want all of you to go home. You have school tomorrow. And keep the door open.”

The moment he left, Danny jumped off the end of the bed and closed the door as much as he could to give them some privacy. He rejoined them quickly, and Lydia couldn’t help but feel so content. They had all survived. They were all together. Even if the Bite hadn’t taken her, they still were alright.

“What did I miss?” She demanded, before anyone else could talk. “Allison could only tell me so much.”

Stiles laughed outright. “We’ll fill you in when we have more time. But for now, just know Peter bit you--”

“I remember the attack, Stiles,” she said, hoping that her voice stayed steady. From the look Derek was giving her she wasn’t sure she succeeded entirely. “I meant other things. You did kill him right?”

“Yes,” Derek said, and she looked at him fully, squinting before she lashed out, grabbing his hand. He didn’t protest, or flinch, just let her run her fingers over his hand as she examined it.

“Hmm, your bone structure isn’t any different. I’d theorized that the Alpha power might change you physically, because I was pretty sure the Bite affected Stiles, but it seems I might have been wrong.” She looked up as she turned his hand over, blinking at everyone’s stare. “What?”

Danny smiled widely at her from the end of the bed. “Nothing. We just missed you.”

She dropped Derek’s hand, rearranging herself against the pillows. “So the Alpha is dead. But I haven’t turned.” She gave them all a look. “I can still feel the Bite on my side. Stiles’ disappeared the next day.”

She watched the nervous glances Derek and Stiles shared, and knew immediately this had been a point of conversation between the two of them especially. Derek at least had the courtesy to look her in the eye when he spoke; Stiles seemed determined not to. Probably guilt, Lydia thought.

“We don’t know that yet,” Derek said. “The Bite either kills you or turns you. There is no in between.”

Lydia snorted. “That’s based off of lore, Derek. Lore from the 1500s at that. The more likely thing is that the person either turned, or was killed for getting the bite. It’s probably perfectly possible to survive, but no one did because hunters put them down before they could find out.” She saw them all exchange looks and she frowned at them. “What? Myths are based in fact.”

Derek shook his head, and Lydia could tell she had surprised him again. Good, she thought. Remind them all that they need me.

“I still want you with Stiles and me on the full moon. Regardless if the bite has healed, or you feel werewolf-esque.”

Lydia snorted. “Duh? I already planned on that, and I’ve only been awake for maybe an hour and a half.” She sighed, eyes darting to Danny. “But no one else took the bite?”

Allison shook her head. “No. None of us did. We’re recruiting though, someone from outside the pack.”

“I’ll bring you the list tomorrow,” Danny said.

“Hey!” Stiles said, “that is my list. Thank you very much.”

Lydia rolled her eyes as Danny and Stiles devolved into a bickering match, which Jackson and Scott joined all too soon. She leaned back in her pillows, waiting for her dad to come back and try to break them up. She knew it would be soon, but for now she would just soak up the feeling of them all being together.

All too soon her dad was pushing open the door and ushering everyone out. Lydia hugged everyone one last time as they left, promising her that they would be back. She honestly didn’t expect them to leave. At the very least Derek would stick around to keep an eye on her, and if he did, Stiles would, and if Stiles did, then Scott would. The cycle would continue until she checked outside tomorrow and saw that all six of them had stayed the night in the hallway.

Her dad shut the door behind Allison, the last one out. “You, uh, have a good group of friends. Very passionate. Surprised they found out about you so quickly. I didn’t see Allison text anyone.”

Lydia rolled her eyes. The pack needed her simply because if they didn’t have her they would never stay incognito. “That’s Allison for you, quick with her fingers and all. I bet they had a shorthand: L.M.A. or something like that.”

Her dad looked at her. “I would ask what that meant, but I’m too afraid to ask.”

“Good call, Dad.”

He took a deep breath, and Lydia quickly tried to pull herself up because she could see where this was going. She didn’t want this conversation, not when Stiles and Derek were outside and perfectly capable of hearing. Not even when they weren’t, if she was perfectly honest with herself. She wanted a shower. “Your mother-”

“I really need a shower.”

He cut himself off, and reached for her as she tried to swing her legs over the edge of the bed. “Let me help you with that.”

“I’m fine. Dad. I’m fine.” She grabbed a hold of IV drip. “The doctor said I could shower. In the middle of all his other blathering.”

“He said you’ll need a nurse--”

She cut him off. “I can pull out my own IV.” She turned, hobbling into the bathroom and shutting the door. She leaned against it, taking a few deep breaths before she whispered. “If you two are listening, I’m fine. Don’t come rushing to my aid.”

She couldn’t hear their response, proof enough on it’s own that the Bite hadn’t turned her, but she liked to imagine that they both smiled, even a little. She didn’t think any of the others had fully grasped just how much they could hear, nor had tried utilizing it yet.

That taken care of, she stood up straight and pushed the IV drip into the corner, taking care to take the IV out of her arm, and put pressure on it quickly with a cotton pad so she didn’t get blood everywhere. Last summer’s science camp had taught her some things, especially with her roommate, who was looking to become pre-med. After she was sure that was handled she checked to make sure the bathroom had an actual towel, and carefully removed the bandage on her hip, before she climbed into the shower, turning on the water.

It felt so good to have the warm water on her skin, and she reached for the soap so she could get the feeling of the coma off of her. She was careful with the bite mark when she finally worked up the courage to look down at it. It was huge, taking over the span of her hip, and if she didn’t turn it would leave a nasty scar.

The wound was clean at least, and so she didn’t wince too much as she carefully tended to it. She frowned as she felt the water get cooler and she reached to turn the hot water up higher, even as she continued to care for the wound. Beacon Hills Hospital wasn’t the oldest building ever, but apparently it didn’t have the biggest hot water heater in the world. She frowned when the water stayed lukewarm.

She looked up, and let out a gasp at the black water coming out of the pipes.

Lydia stumbled and slipped, falling into the pool of water that had collected at the bottom of the tank. She hadn’t even noticed that the tub had backed up. She held in her scream, not wanting to alert anyone as she slammed her eyes shut.

This isn’t real, this isn’t real, she chanted to herself. She knew it. It couldn’t be real. When she opened her eyes again everything would be back to normal.

She only felt like she was still swimming in the water because the showerhead was still on and it was tricking her brain. She blindly stumbled to her knees and grabbed the edge of the tub. It grounded her and she reached for the other side.

Her knee grazed something.

Lydia froze, trying to remember how to breathe.

It was just her imagination.

She had to stay calm. She forced her heartbeat to normal. Having Derek and Stiles rushing in to find her freaking out when everything was fine was just stupid.

She moved her knee away from the something. It was textured, scarred, and there was a part that felt like hair, and Lydia intentionally did not think about it. She was just gonna climb out of the tub, sit on the toilet, and calm down.

It bumped against her again, and Lydia finally cracked an eye open.

Peter’s dead eyes stared back at her.

She fell back into the tub, screaming as she tried to get away from his burnt, severed head.

***

“There’s no sign of a struggle, no sign of anything, really.” Stiles looked at his dad, itching to go and look in the bathroom one more time.

But no, there were cops in there who seemed to think they could do a better job searching for signs of Lydia than Derek and he could. They didn’t have his awesome sense of smell! So instead he was stuck waiting in the hallway with the rest of the pack, as he gave his statement to his father - what little that did.

They had heard her scream, and after sharing a look with Derek, they had decided to say fuck it, and rushed into the bathroom to see if she was okay. Except when they opened the door she wasn’t there. The water was running in an empty shower, fogging up the room with how hot it was. Most of all, like his father had said, there was no sign of struggle.

The only way out of the bathroom was the window, or the door. And she had not come out of the door.

The police had already checked the surrounding area, looking for signs of her having jumped out the window, but they hadn’t found anything. Stiles wasn’t surprised. If she jumped, she was fine, even though they were on the third floor.

“And you’re positive you didn’t hear anything?” His father asked, stressing the last word as if Stiles didn’t know what he meant.

“Yes! Derek and I were monitoring her heart the entire time,” Stiles said. “It didn’t even spike.”

His dad sighed, looking around. They were alone for the most part. Even the other members of the pack were distanced from them, getting questioned on their own. When he spoke again he had dropped his voice. “And what do you want to tell my fellow officers, Stiles? That my werewolf son didn’t notice anything so obviously it’s even weirder than we think?”

“You need to tell them something. If you have a search party go searching for her,” Derek spoke up, “and if they find her before morning...” he trailed off with a significant raise of his eyebrows.

Stiles sighed at his dad’s oblivious look, and he took pity on him. “Dad, she survived a jump from the third floor. She was bitten by Derek’s uncle before he died.” He made a gesture with his hands.

His dad’s eyes went wide. “She’s a werewolf? I thought you said she hadn’t turned.”

Derek huffed. “The Bite is strange. It can react differently for different people. We can’t rule anything out. And all the signs point to this not being as easy as we would like.”

“Then why don’t you two go track her? You have her scent, right?” His dad was asking the questions in a fierce whisper, still trying not to draw attention from his other officers.

“We aren’t bloodhounds, dad!” Stiles was feeling agitated because hadn’t his dad realized that if he wasn’t doing that, there was a reason? “Her scent’s blocked. We can’t find it, or else we’d already be gone, and she’d be back.”

His dad’s eyes shifted between the two of them, and Derek nodded. “It’s happened to us before. That’s how Stiles didn’t find me for so long. It’s how my uncle hid from us.”

“But you said those reasons were, A: hunters, and B: your uncle had crazy powers from being an Alpha.”

Stiles could understand his father’s frustration, but the more they sat here arguing, the further away Lydia got. “Well, maybe there’s a C: werewolves are fucking weird.” He rubbed his hand over his face. “We’ll try to search for her, but without smell it’ll be slow going.”

“I’m coming with you,” Allison said, making Stiles jump when she approached them.

Stiles’ dad raised his hand. “Nope. Not allowing that. These two are idiots, but one of them is an adult, and therefore legally able to be an idiot, and the other is my idiot. So I’ve given him permission. But I can’t let anyone else go with them.”

Stiles was impressed with the way Allison leveled a serious look on his dad. “I can protect myself, and if Derek decides it’s too dangerous for me he’ll tell me.” She looked at Derek, who was nodding. “My bow is in my car. I’ll grab it and be right back. We’re wasting time arguing about this.”

“Wait!” Stiles’ dad said, holding up his hands to stop them. He looked between the three of them. “I’m coming with you. Because if you find her you’ll need an excuse for whatever shenanigans you end up in. Now let me just go tell my deputies that I’m going to give a preliminary sweep of the area and we can go searching.”

Stiles nodded, resisting the urge to high-five Allison when he caught her eye. As it was she beamed at him, and then bolted off to her car as his dad went up to Remy to update him. Derek stayed by his side, face tense now that no one was looking.

“You don’t really think she turned, do you?”

Derek shook his head. “I don’t know what else it could be, Stiles.” He looked so helpless and Stiles couldn’t stop himself from grabbing Derek’s hand, wrapping his fingers up in Derek’s. “She’s my responsibility.”

“I know,” Stiles said. “We’ll get her back.” With one final squeeze he let Derek’s hand drop before his father got back.

“Okay, we’re clear to get going,” his dad said as he came back, tucking a radio in his belt.

“Great!” Stiles said with false enthusiasm. “We just need to wait for Allison and then---” he cut himself off when he looked over to where Allison was and saw her father leading her, hand gripping her bicep.

A part of him was pleased that she was fighting her dad, obviously as displeased as Stiles felt, but another part of him let a growl loose because no one was allowed to harm pack.

“Oh, what the-,” His dad muttered, locking eyes with Mr. Argent. “Mr. Argent, what a pleasant surprise,” he said, voice dripping with sarcasm.

“I heard about the girl,” Mr. Argent said, as he got close enough to them, still holding Allison. Stiles didn’t let up on his growling, but Mr. Argent didn’t seem to care. “There are already hunters looking for her. One of them saw her jump and bolt off towards the woods.”

Derek joined Stiles’ growling. “You had hunters watching her?”

“I didn’t have anyone. But word travels fast and people do what they want. Now this bunch, they’ll shoot to kill. We need to travel fast.”

“We’d already be traveling fast if you hadn’t made a dramatic entrance,” Allison muttered, finally wrenching her arm free. “We got this, Dad.”

“Oh yeah?” He gave Derek and Stiles a look. “I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you can’t smell her. And if you can’t smell her, you can’t track her. I can.”

Derek cut off his growl to look at Stiles. “Fine. We’re wasting time debating this. You said she headed to the woods, we start there. If we catch her scent, Stiles and I will go ahead. If we find her and she’s shifted, we’ll handle her. Understood? You don’t do anything to hurt her.”

Mr. Argent nodded. “Let’s just find her before anyone else does.”

“Agreed. Allison, you’ll be with us.” Stiles’ dad said, turning and heading to his car, followed by Mr. Argent, and, after a moment, a confused Allison.

She looked back at Stiles and mouthed, “What the fuck?”

All Stiles could do was shrug in confusion, because exactly what the fuck, when did that even happen? before following Derek towards the woods. They had already lost more than enough time arguing.

***

“Did we just get ditched? Again.” Jackson asked, eyes following Stiles and Derek as they tried to stealthily disappear.

Danny personally thought they sucked at the whole stealth thing, but what did he know? He was just a lowly human. “It looks like we did,” he said, trying not to feel bitter. Logically he knew why they had been left behind: Stiles and Derek were werewolves, and therefore inherently stupid enough to think they needed to be in harm’s way. And Allison seemed to just have no fear at all. It didn’t hurt that she was also trained to be a hunter, whether she had been aware of it or not.

“They’re going after Lydia,” Scott said, holding up his cellphone, which Danny could see had a short text from Allison.

Jackson dropped his head. “Oh, great. We’ve been left behind, with McCall.”

Danny was impressed that Scott didn’t even look hurt by this, merely shrugged as he tucked his phone away. “You get used to it after awhile. It’s the downfall of being human in a werewolf pack.” He broke into a grin. “Hey! We are our own subsection! Team Useless!” He raised his hand for a high-five, which Danny made sure to roll his eyes at.

He liked Scott, and thought he was a great asset. Without him there had been a huge chance that Jackson would have bled out the night they first faced the Alpha, because Stiles had caused serious damage. But sometimes he just couldn’t understand how his mind worked.

Danny knew Jackson was just as unimpressed with being given the moniker useless, but at least he wasn’t snapping at Scott. Danny could see that he was really trying to embrace this whole pack idea. Hell, he had been the person who’d gotten Isaac to agree to sit with them at lunch! Danny wasn’t sure anyone else could tell what a huge step that was for Jackson.

The police were starting to clear out; apparently the Sheriff had given them some order before he had driven off with Allison and her dad. That left the three of them sitting in front of the hospital while the rest of the pack went looking for Lydia.

“Fuck this,” Danny said, standing up, pulling out his phone. “Jackson, give me your keys.”

His head shot up and he pinned Danny with a withering look. “No.”

“Jackson, I will fight you and take them from you. We’re going after them.”

That got both of their attention, and Jackson and Scott scrambled to stand.

“What, how?” Scott asked, as Danny managed to get Jackson’s keys away from him, and they headed towards Jackson’s car.

Danny didn’t say anything until they were safely locked in Jackson’s car, not wanting to draw attention to them. He, at least, knew the meaning of stealth. Once he was sure they weren’t being watched he pulled out his phone and set it up so he could pull up the GPS in Stiles’ phone.

Scott whistled. “That’s high-tech. What’s it do?”

“It’s a GPS tracker,” Jackson said, glaring at Danny. “I thought you said you didn’t do things like this anymore.”

Danny shrugged. “Microchipping Stiles and Derek seemed to be too much work. And I’m not sure I can find a vet that won’t charge me an arm and a leg for it.”

“Deaton would do it,” Scott said absently, eyes on Danny’s phone screen as it booted up.

Danny ignored him. “For now, tracking his phone is the best we got.” He smirked at their looks of surprise as he turned on Jackson’s car. “Guess that means I’m not part of Team Useless.”

“Fuck you,” Jackson growled as Danny pulled out of the hospital parking lot, following Stiles’ signal.

***

It was painfully slow going once they got into the woods. Derek knew that tracking wasn’t always easy; he’d spent three months being led around on a leash by his uncle, but this was ridiculous. Chris was efficient, but part of being efficient was being certain they were going the right way and not being led on a wild goose chase, which meant he would stop and observe tracks for minutes, when it was obvious which way they led.

There was an aching in Derek’s bones to break off and search for Lydia himself. He couldn’t smell her, though. It was like she was gone, and that made his senses go crazy. Pack didn’t just go missing. Especially after he had spent those moments in the hospital with her, memorizing her scent so this exact thing wouldn’t happen.

The only good thing was that they hadn’t run across any other hunters yet. Derek could hear them fumbling through the woods though, making way more noise than necessary as they searched for Lydia.

Their group was silent, which was impressive considering how many of them there were. Even John, who was taking up the rear, was quiet as they moved over leaves and branches, following the trail.

“Derek,” Stiles whispered as they stopped once again for Chris to examine some more footprints. “We’re headed to the house.”

He looked at his surroundings for the first time. They were in the woods, and it was right around the edge of the Hale property, but that didn’t mean they were headed towards his old house.

Chris shushed them as he moved forward. They followed, until finally they broke into the clearing at the edge of the Hale house.

“Fuck,” Stiles whispered, even as his dad hissed at him.

Derek agreed with that sentiment. Kate’s body had been discovered the day before, and while John had been able to keep the investigation from spilling into the land immediately surrounding the Hale house and allowing for Laura and Peter’s bodies to be found, the majority of the area was still taped off. Derek glanced at John, trying to judge what his thoughts would be on disrupting the crime scene.

“Budget cuts are such a blessing,” John muttered, pulling a grin from Chris.

“No one is on watch duty?” Chris asked.

“Nope. But if we could avoid making it look like we were here, that would be for the best.”

“What, Dad? You don’t want to add a little destruction of evidence to the night?” Stiles asked as they stopped right outside the front door to the Hale house.

John ignored him, and Derek didn’t blame him. “The footprints go inside?”

Derek looked at Chris, waiting for his nod. He couldn’t smell anyone inside, but he already knew hunters had a way to block scents. In the back of his mind he was still waiting for this to be a trap. Hunters were cutthroat, and some wouldn’t care if their daughter witnessed a slaughter. Derek took a deep breath, having to trust Chris when he said he loved his daughter above all else.

“They do,” Chris said, taking a step up the stairs.

There was movement in the woods, and Derek spun around, eyes narrowing as he scanned the edge of the trees. He heard John’s sharp intake of breath, and could only guess his eyes were red.

Danny, Scott, and Jackson cut through the trees and into the clearing, and Derek let out a growl. “What are you three doing here?”

Scott grinned triumphantly, pointing to his backpack. “Helping. I brought a first aid kit.”

Derek saw John wince in his peripheral. “How did you even find us?”

Danny waved his hand, and Derek saw that he was holding a phone. “Traced Stiles’ phone.”

John turned around, muttering about all the broken laws.

Chris seemed less impressed. “You three could have drawn the attention of other hunters in the woods, and brought them right here.”

Stiles and Derek shot him a look. “They didn’t,” Stiles said. “We’ve been keeping an ear out for them. They’re being loud and obnoxious about a mile that way,” he pointed east, where there was a car rumbling.

Chris looked frustrated, as he hissed out his next words. “They’ve been trained to distract you like that. They think Lydia is a rogue werewolf. They want to mess with her senses.”

“Then we better find her ASAP,” Danny said, reaching the steps to the Hale house. “Derek?” he asked, pointing to the door. “Are you going to go in first?”

Derek nodded, climbing the stairs and carefully opening the door. It creaked when he did, and while he winced, it didn’t stop him from hearing the quiet movement off to his left. He entered the house carefully, feeling Stiles already at his back.

The house was empty. He took a deep breath, but all he smelled was dust and rot. He looked around the room, going slowly so he didn’t miss anything. There was debris pushed to the side, but he couldn’t see Lydia anywhere.

He stepped inside, followed by Stiles, and then John. The others came after a moment, until they were all in the foyer of his old house.

Jackson turned on the flashlight he had pulled from Scott’s backpack, and Chris did the same with his own, now that they no longer had the light from the waxing moon.

Derek took the lead, moving left towards the sound he heard. As he crossed the threshold into the next room - what had been the sitting room next to the library, he scanned the room. He was thorough, even though he had everyone else looking with him.

Something moved in the corner, right by the entryway of the library.

Derek almost missed her, hidden behind the leg of a table. Lydia had her legs pulled up to her chest, and her face was buried in her knees.

She was naked, and covered in dirt from her run in the woods. There were twigs in her hair, but there didn’t seem to be anything more than superficial wounds on her.

He still couldn’t smell her, but he could see her, and from the gasp he heard from Allison, he wasn’t hallucinating.

Lydia’s head shot up at the sound. Her eyes were glassy, like she was in a trance, but in a moment they cleared, giving way to tears that started to run down her face.

“G-guys?” She whispered, and suddenly her scent was back.

Derek held out his hand, grabbing Stiles before he could rush forward. He knew what it was like; he felt it, too. He wanted nothing more than to run right to Lydia and hold her to make sure she was safe, but she didn’t need that. Not yet.

She was shaking, and it seemed to have everyone frozen in their steps. Except Allison. Of course not Allison, who approached her carefully, setting down her bow before reaching for Lydia.

“It’s us,” she whispered.

Lydia’s body racked with sobs. “Where? Where am I? Why? I’m- I’m naked?”

Allison made a noise before reaching for Lydia, pulling her into a hug, and holding her while she shook.

Scott pushed his way forward. “Let me look at her.”

Derek growled, holding him back with his other hand. Scott looked offended for a moment, until Derek nodded to Lydia. “I’m going to give her my shirt so she’s covered. Then you can look at her.”

That seemed to shock John into action. “I need to call the EMT.”

“And what are you going to tell them, Dad?” Stiles asked.

John gave him a look. “Give me some credit,” he said, before leaving the room, pulling out his radio. “Vincent? I need a favour.”

Derek drowned John out as he turned his attention back to Lydia and Allison. Allison was still blocking Lydia’s body from view, and Derek stepped forward, stripping his shirt off. He handed it to Allison, nodding for her to help Lydia into it, before he turned around. The rest of the pack was looking away already, as well as Chris.

Derek listened to the rustle of fabric as Allison helped Lydia put his shirt on, and then helped her to her feet. He didn’t turn back around until Allison coughed to get their attention.

His shirt did the trick, covering her up to mid-thigh. She was still crying, and she smelled terrified, but she was standing on her own.

Derek took two steps forward and swept Lydia up into his arms, holding her to his chest bridal-style. She flung her arms around his neck, bursting into fresh sobs as he made sure she stayed covered. As soon as he turned around the rest of the pack descended, all coming to make sure she was okay. Stiles and Danny played with her hair, pulling the branches and leaves out, while trying to hug her. Jackson went straight for her hand, grabbing it and kissing her fingers. Scott went straight for her feet, pulling the splinters out of her feet and beginning to treat the wounds.

Derek eventually shook them off as he started to walk, hearing the end of John’s conversation with his EMT contact. Chris stood awkwardly by the door, and there was a part of Derek that wanted to sneer at him, because this was pack. This was what being a werewolf was like, and it was good that Chris got to see that. None of these kids were even changed, and yet they instinctually fell into their roles of looking after a pack member.

John gave him a look as he emerged from the house holding Lydia, but he didn’t say anything except, “an ambulance will meet us at the road leading up to your house.”

Derek nodded, starting to walk down to the path that lead to the road. The rest of the pack followed, all huddled together: Stiles, Scott, and Allison with their arms wrapped around one another, while Danny held onto Jackson with one hand, his other in Stiles’.

Lydia dropped her arms from around Derek’s neck to curl up against his chest. “Thank you,” she whispered as she played with the collar of his shirt.

He kissed the top of her head, which was still wet from her shower hours ago. “I know what it’s like. When they found me I was completely naked. I even had to fight the Alpha naked.”

Lydia giggled, and it was a good sound even if she sniffled afterwards. “I bet Stiles appreciated that.”

Derek tried not to choke with his own laughter as he reached the street. He could hear the ambulance in the distance, sans sirens, which was good. The hunters in the woods wouldn’t know they had found her. He would have to thank John later.

It took about ten minutes before the ambulance got there, and as they waited different members kept coming up to see Lydia, making sure she was still okay. Derek noticed that after Jackson’s first visit he had drifted off, sitting down away from the rest of the pack. It was obvious he was thinking, and Derek wondered what it was about.

That’s why, after he transferred Lydia to Stiles and the EMT, he went to Jackson’s side, grabbing him by the shoulder and pulling him further away. No one noticed, except Stiles, who merely raised an eyebrow before Derek waved him off.

“What?” Derek asked.

Jackson was nervous. “Nothing. Just a stressful night.”

“Bullshit,” Derek said. “You’ve been sitting away from us since we found Lydia.”

“I already checked that she was fine,” Jackson said.

Derek rolled his eyes, and looked back towards the ambulance. John was climbing into the back with Stiles and Allison, while Chris seemed to be losing a battle to drag Scott and Danny away. He knew if he went over there he could help, but he had Jackson to deal with. When he looked at Jackson again he got a glimpse of how tense he was before he tried to hide it again.

“I can tell when you’re lying, Jackson, so just spit it out so I can get back to the hospital and spend the night watching Lydia.”

“I want the Bite,” Jackson said in a rush. That surprised Derek; he had not been expecting Jackson to want that. He had never met Jackson on good terms until after Lydia had been hospitalized, and while he hadn’t seemed too put off by the entire thing, he didn’t seem as open to it as Danny and Allison. It seemed like Derek was taking too long to answer because Jackson shuffled his feet. “But of course you wouldn’t want to give me the Bite. Not when Stiles hates me.”

“Tell me the truth, and maybe I’ll consider it,” Derek said, cutting him off before he could devolve into a “poor me” speech.

Jackson took a deep breath, and Derek could see how much it pained him to admit whatever he was about to say. “I have nothing to offer the pack as a human. Allison is an archer, a hunter. Danny used some magical technology to track you guys here. Hell, even McCall helped because he gave Lydia first aid. I’m good at lacrosse.” He looked Derek right in the eye, and then ducked his head. “I could be so much more.”

Derek observed him for a moment, running his option over in his head. There was no guarantee Lydia was a werewolf, even after tonight, and he wasn’t going to turn the new kid this full moon. He needed more betas, and he needed them soon. He nodded. “Fine. I’ll do it.”

***

Stiles didn’t see the bite. He was too busy getting Lydia into the ambulance, and then actually riding in the ambulance back to the hospital. He had noticed Derek lingering back with Jackson, but had thought little of it after Derek had waved him off. Stiles had bigger things to worry about besides Jackson, who had been distant all week. Jackson wasn’t a priority to Stiles. He never had been. He was baggage from Lydia and Danny at best, and Stiles had always figured he would break away from them sooner rather than later.

So it came it as a huge shock when he went into school the next day, laid eyes on Jackson at his locker, talking with Isaac, and immediately knew. He could smell the lingering blood from the Bite, even though Jackson had showered before coming into school. More than that, he could smell the difference in Jackson. The smell told him that Derek had turned him, and then come to the hospital and acted like nothing had happened, because he sure hadn’t told Stiles.

Instead of walking up and approaching Jackson, Stiles turned on his heel, heading towards the exit. It was only 7:45; he still had time to leave, and hopefully make it back in time for his second class. He didn’t drive off, opting to jog back towards the hospital, where Derek was standing guard.

He didn’t even make it halfway there before Derek showed up beside him right by one of the empty parking lots that downtown thought they would need for overspill parking.

“Don’t you have school?” He asked, raising an eyebrow.

Stiles clenched his fists, resisting the urge to punch Derek in the face. “You and me? We have to talk.”

Derek sighed. “Jackson came to school.”

“I can’t fucking believe you!” Stiles snapped. “You bit Jackson?! Why the fuck would you bite Jackson?! Without consulting me, even!”

“Stiles.” Derek kept his voice calm, and it rankled Stiles’ nerves so much that he didn’t let Derek try and speak.

“No! Being Alpha does not give you the right to run this pack the way you fucking want,” Stiles snarled.

“We needed a beta--”

“We have a beta lined up!” Stiles waved his hands around. “We have Isaac!”

“Who we aren’t going to turn for this full moon. And Jackson is already pack so he doesn’t need to be brought in--”

Stiles cut him off again, and Derek growled in frustration. “Okay, no, Jackson is not pack-”

“He is pack, Stiles! Whether you want him or not.” Derek snapped, not meaning for it to come out so harshly, but it needed to be said. “He’s pack because he’s pack to Lydia and Danny. And if a pack member asks for the Bite, I’m not gonna turn them down. Or pick them over some kid I haven’t even met yet.”

Both of them were huffing as if they had just run a marathon, standing there in the middle of the sidewalk. It was lucky they were in a less traveled part of town, Stiles thought, as he looked away from Derek first. He knew it was a sign of submission, but when Derek laid it out like that, what he said made sense. Jackson was baggage, but baggage meant he was pack. Even if Stiles didn’t want him.

“I guess,” he relented, body going limp as Derek placed a hand on his shoulder, accepting that he had given in. Stiles leaned into Derek, sighing. “But why couldn’t Danny, or Allison have changed their mind? Or hell, Scott? Why did it have to be Jackson?”

Derek tilted his head down, kissing Stiles. “It doesn’t matter. The bite took. He’s one of us, and it’s going to be fine.”

Stiles let out a sound that wasn’t really agreement, wrapping his arms around Derek’s mid-section. "I'm not sitting in when you tell him all about the knot. Just giving you that heads up now."

Derek rolled his eyes, hugging Stiles back. "Why are you so obsessed with this?"

"Uh? Because it was fucking traumatizing!? Maybe!?"

“You're so overdramatic," Derek said, looking up at the sky. "Now, don’t you have school?”

Stiles whined. “Yeah.”

“Come on, I don’t want your dad finding out you skipped because of werewolf-duty. That goes against our truce,” Derek said, guiding Stiles back in the direction of the school.

***

Kate’s funeral was Saturday. Allison didn’t really want to go, and had been trying since the police had found her body earlier that week to get out of going. The pack wasn’t going, and that was enough for Allison to feel nervous about it. The fact that in the last couple of days news of her aunt being found, and being posthumously charged with a slew of criminal charges, including the Hale fire and the attack on Lydia, just made it harder. If Allison didn’t have the pack to shield her at school she could only imagine that the looks she was getting would turn into questions.

The funeral was going to be high profile, and members of the community were planning on boycotting. Isaac had mentioned having to put up extra security with his dad, and Stiles passed on that the police would be there.

Allison didn’t want to go through this. Especially when a part of her viciously didn’t believe her aunt deserved a proper burial. She had good memories of Kate, she knew she did, but it was so hard to hold onto them. All she remembered was Kate holding Derek hostage, torturing him just because of what he was. How could Allison feel a connection with someone that cold? Someone who murdered an entire family, an innocent family, just because they were werewolves?

Playing the role of distraught niece was difficult, and Allison didn’t like it.

Her dad held her as they walked from their car to the burial site. They were going to have a small service in honor of Kate. People were already on the other side of the barriers, protesting quietly for the most part, though a few people shouted at random intervals.

Allison glanced at the crowd, spotting Scott standing with Danny, Isaac, and Lydia (who had been released from the hospital on Friday). Stiles and Derek had already said they weren’t coming, and they probably didn’t want to risk having Jackson around when there were other hunters. Allison didn’t blame them.

She kept her head down when her father sat her down in the first row between himself and her mother. She didn’t plan to look up at all throughout the service, hoping that would be enough suffering for masses. She only looked up when she heard her dad let out a soft curse and tighten his grip on Allison’s shoulder.

Another car had pulled up, and out of it stepped an older gentleman with a commanding presence. He was flanked by a couple other men, who easily slipped towards the back of the funeral, nodding to a few hunters that Allison had identified.

“I thought he wasn’t coming,” Chris whispered over her head to Allison’s mother.

“Who’s he?” Allison whispered, unable to stop her curiosity.

“That’s your grandfather,” her mother answered her, before turning her attention to Allison’s father. “And it hardly seems to matter since he’s here now.”

Allison froze in between her parents. Her grandfather? From her dad’s side? Allison had only really heard stories about him, having only met him when she was a baby.

Her grandfather stopped in front of them, and Allison’s dad stood, reaching out to take his father’s hand.

Allison watched her grandfather’s face, and while she saw grief, there was an underlying hatred that was unavoidable. She slunk into her seat, suddenly terrified about what was going to happen tomorrow on the full moon.

***

The funeral hadn’t ended in a riot, which was all John could ask for, really. He had watched the majority of it from the sidelines, keeping an eye out for his son, or Derek, but they had surprised him by being reasonable and staying away. The other members of their group had come though, minus Jackson for some reason. Even Lydia had made an appearance, despite the fact that she had only been discharged from the hospital the day before.

John sighed as he climbed into his police car, planning to wait there while everyone left the grounds. At least Mr. Lahey had cooperated with him when it came to security. Things could have gone so much worse.

Of course, that was when Chris Argent knocked twice on his car window. John closed his eyes in frustration, because Chris talking to him was never a good sign.

“What can I do for you, Mr. Argent?” He asked, glancing around to make sure none of his deputies were approaching them. Chris no doubt wanted to talk about werewolf things.

“I need to give you a warning,” Chris said.

“You always seem to want to give me a warning these days,” John sighed, glancing to Chris’ family. “Aren’t you going to be missed?”

“They think I’m just thanking the Beacon Hills Police for their excellent service.” John rolled his eyes, but waited for Chris to continue. “Do you see the older gentleman in the black coat?” John nodded, glancing quickly at the man Chris was talking about. He looked small, unassuming, even when he looked so grim. It wasn’t the right expression for a funeral, but John knew different people had different ways of grieving. “That’s my father. He is the hunter who trained me. He plans to stay here, it seems, under the guise of helping us cope with Kate’s loss.”

“He’s hunting,” John said.

Chris nodded, face set. “He knows Derek is the Alpha, and he knows Lydia was Bit, but nothing else. If you want your son safe, we need to try and keep it that way.”

“How do you know?”

“Because that’s what other hunters know,” Chris said, a hint of desperation in his voice. “I know you’re helping your son as much as you can by making your house pretty much their den, but Hale needs to move out of your house.”

John scoffed. “And put himself out there as a target? His apartment was ransacked when we searched it after he got kidnapped, and I highly doubt he was the one who did it.”

“He’s going to draw attention to the children.” John could tell that Chris was trying, really trying, to be helpful, but their priorities weren’t the same. John only cared about Stiles, because Stiles was all he had. Chris was trying to prioritize Allison’s safety over helping the pack as a whole. It was obvious he didn’t want to choose werewolves over his family just yet, despite his obvious estrangement from his father. John wondered if that would come back to bite him soon.

As it was, John took a deep breath, trying to find a solution. “Then tell your father I’m keeping an eye on him because - I don’t know, my wife and his mother knew each other. Went to school together. Something. Beacon Hills used to be a small town, everyone knew everyone.”

Chris was staring at him and John tried not to let his frustration show. “That’s possibly the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.”

“Okay, what about, ‘Derek had his entire family die in a fire at sixteen, and is forever stuck as a sixteen year old mentally, so I am looking after him.’?” John glared when he said it, hoping the sarcasm was obvious.

“Now you’re just being unhelpful,” Chris snapped back.

“You got anything better? I don’t lie well, Mr. Argent.”

Chris sighed, rubbing his chin in thought. “Nothing that doesn’t look suspicious.”

“Then you can-” John cut himself off as he heard footsteps, and watched Chris freeze, ever so much.

“Christopher, we are heading back to the house,” a voice said, and John knew this had to be Chris’ father.

Chris turned slowly, and it took John a moment to realize that he was being blocked, as if Chris thought he could shield him from his father. John rolled his eyes and looked straight ahead, not having time to deal with family drama.

“Just giving our local sheriff a thanks for doing his job.” Chris took a step forward, waving without looking at John.

The trick didn’t work out the way Chris was probably hoping it would, because in the next moment Chris’ father was standing next to John’s window, smiling. “Ah. May I extend my thanks as well, for finding my daughter’s body, and hopefully continuing an excellent investigation?” He held out his hand for John to shake.

John did, not looking over to Chris. “Just doing my job, Mr. Argent.”

“Gerard,” he said, still smiling, and still holding onto John’s hand.

John didn’t try to pull it away, aware that this was a sort of test. “Gerard. And hopefully we will find something. However, right now it looks like your daughter was unfortunately just another victim of the mountain lion attacks we’ve been having.”

Gerard dropped his hand. “Yes, I had heard about that. I hope you catch it soon.”

“We have some of our best men on the case. And of course, Chris has offered his own help.”

Gerard looked at Chris, and John was just glad to get his attention off of him. “Is that so?”

Chris shrugged, but it didn’t look like the right answer for Gerard. He didn’t push it, luckily, merely gave John one last look before walking off with a wave, and a, “I hope to see you again, Sheriff.”

“You should get going, Mr. Argent,” John said, nodding towards his family, who was waiting.

Chris glared at him, coming back to the window. “Why the hell would you volunteer me like that? What if he ends up suspecting that people know?”

“Kill me a mountain lion, and it will make the non-supernatural people in this town calm down, which will make my job easier,” John hissed. “That’s the angle the police are working.”

Chris gave him a tight smile as he pulled away, preparing to join his family. “Anything for you, Sheriff.”

John watched him go, and resisted the urge to slam his face into the steering wheel. He could only do so much for Stiles, and his group, but he hoped the little he did do was enough.

***

“Well, this isn’t creepy at all,” Jackson muttered, looking around the basement of the Hale house.

Stiles hadn’t wanted to wait out the full moon here, but his dad had made it clear that they had no choice in the matter. “Shut up,” he snapped as he finished the last of Lydia’s restraints. “If Allison’s crazy hunter grandpa wasn’t here we’d have taken you somewhere else, but instead,” he made a gesture with his hand to encompass the dank basement.

Derek had set up lanterns, and was working on barring the door to the cell. It was awful that they were doing this down here, where he had been kept, but there really was nowhere else to go.

“Why do we even need to be locked up? You weren’t even tied up, were you, Stilinski?” Jackson asked.

“This is how kids are tied up,” Derek said, as he came back into the cell, “before we know if you turn. Not all kids born to werewolves become werewolves. One of my,” he paused, jerking as he seemed to come back to himself. Stiles stared at him, wondering if he would continue, and after a moment he did. “My younger sister had just turned eleven, and my parents had started keeping her locked up just in case.” He approached Jackson, looking over his restraints. “The point is, regardless of there being hunters, you can turn, Jackson, but we also want to monitor Lydia. If we did this out in the woods there is a chance she won’t turn, and then we’ll have a human defenseless while we try and help you ride out the full moon.”

Stiles saw Jackson look at Lydia, but he didn’t say anything.

Lydia examined her own restraints. “Are these laced with wolfsbane? They don’t feel very strong.”

“Excellent observation,” Derek said. “They are. It’s a different strain than you’ve probably seen before. When forged with the metal like this it can sap the energy from a transformed wolf.”

Lydia hummed in interest. “I take it someone in your family had to make these.”

Derek laughed, and it still took Stiles by surprise that he was becoming so comfortable with the pack. He had moments where it was like he was riding high and mighty on his powers, and then he would come back down, and laugh with them, and indulge them in their curiosities. “My great-grandfather did. These restraints moved west with him, before he settled here in Beacon Hills.”

He stood up, realizing that Lydia was finished with her questions, and went to the other side of the cell, where he and Stiles had set up a table with water and food, just in case the impossible happened and neither of them shifted.

Stiles glanced back at the two of them before he continued unpacking everything. “Are you sure it’s a good thing they are so close together? They can touch.”

“They won’t try to harm one another,” Derek said.

“How are you so sure? Just because I never truly tried to harm you...”

Derek gave him a look. “Exactly.”

Stiles rolled his eyes. “So what do you think of the newest development?”

Derek didn’t answer right away, but Stiles had learned to wait it out. When Derek finally did speak he knew it would be a thought-out answer.

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?” Stiles snorted. “Brilliant.”

“I don’t know if I can trust a hunter’s intel. So far he hasn’t lead us wrong, but the best way to gain the trust of someone is give a few harmless truths, and then start feeding in lies.”

Stiles took a deep breath, letting it out in a huff. “Yeah. I know exactly what you mean. But what can we do?”

“Take everything with a grain of salt,” Derek said. “There may be truth to what Chris says, there may not. We be careful. We keep our pack in line. We survive.”

Stiles nodded, reaching over and grabbing Derek’s hand. He wasn’t going to kiss Derek here, not in front of Lydia and Jackson, but he could do this. As they lapsed into silence, both aware of how quickly the sun was setting, Lydia and Jackson’s conversation started to filter into Stiles’ attention.

“You didn’t have to ask for the Bite for my sake, you know,” Lydia said, and when Stiles turned around he could see her reaching over as far as her restraints let her to touch Jackson’s shoulder.

“I know. But you do what you have to do for pack, right?” Jackson asked, smiling faintly at her.

Stiles resisted the urge to roll his eyes at Derek’s grin, because even if Jackson was learning it didn’t mean that there wasn’t a chance that he could have fucked up. And then they would be screwed, with a beta who wanted nothing more than power.

Stiles reached into his backpack and pulled out the book he had brought along, intent on distracting them all before Lydia and Jackson got too disgustingly sweet, and he risked stabbing his eyes out from witnessing it. “I brought mad libs. Who wants to start?”

***

Gerard took Kate’s old room. It made Chris uncomfortable to see his father in general, but especially in there, because he knew his father was looking for clues. Gerard probably thought she had kept better records on the wolves of Beacon Hills than he had, and he wanted to make sure he wasn’t missing anything. If Chris was in any other position he would appreciate this act of dedication, but unfortunately he had a truce with the pack here.

His daughter was part of that pack, whether he wanted her to be or not. The past week had taught him that she had already picked her side in a way that her simply telling him hadn’t convinced him of. He was waiting for the day when she came home after accepting the Bite. Chris didn’t know what he would do if that happened. He had asked Hale not to, but if she asked, Hale wouldn’t say no.

He was put in the middle of this entire situation, and he would need to pick sides soon. It wasn’t a good feeling, knowing that he would be making an enemy out of everyone he knew if he sided with werewolves. Especially after Kate was killed.

“Christopher,” Gerard called him, walking into the kitchen and pulling Chris from his thoughts. “You’ll be joining us on patrol tonight, won’t you?”

Chris looked up from where he was scrubbing a pan. He couldn’t ask why they needed to go on patrol, because then Gerard would think he was getting weak. But he couldn’t risk them stumbling across the pack. No one knew Derek had a beta yet, and if they were discovered -- Chris didn’t want to think about it.

“I will, though I don’t know what help that will be. We’ve never run into Hale on a full moon.”

“Yes, I’ve been going over Kate’s journal. She spotted Hale and another beta once, but then killed the beta.”

“Wolfsbane bullet,” Chris said in agreement.

Gerard made a sound of agreement. “I didn’t want to say anything before, but now I have to wonder, are you getting soft?”

Chris stopped washing dishes. “What?”

“Your sister was murdered by an Alpha, and what did you do? You watched, and then let a werewolf take your kill.”

“It wasn’t like that,” Chris said, gripping the edge of the sink. “I was taken by surprise. I didn’t know she was holding Hale, and when she took me to go see him the Alpha ambushed us.”

“So you watched, and then you set up your sister for murder, before you ran.”

“I had other things to do,” Chris said.

“More important than family?”

“The Alpha had attacked the school. I had to go make sure that Allison was safe.” He wished he could bite back his words, but it was too late. He had shone a spotlight on her and now there was a chance Gerard would pounce.

“Ah yes, Ms. Martin. The new beta.”

Chris blinked. “What?”

“Alexis tells me he saw her jump from the third floor of a hospital. He thinks the bite changed her, and that Hale has recruited her. It will be a shame of course, that she has to die.”

“You can’t be--” Chris cut himself off, because of course Gerard was serious. He never spoke lightly about these things. “But what about the code.”

Gerard gave him a look of pity, and for a moment Chris was transported back to his childhood, his father’s disappointment the thing pushing him on through all of his training. He hated disappointing his father then, but now? Now he didn’t care. He had his own priorities.

“My daughter is dead. A werewolf killed her. It’s war now, don’t you see that? Now, we’ll take your car, correct?”

Chris could only stare as he watched his father walk away from him.

***

Isaac was doing his homework at the kitchen table when his dad came home from the cemetery. He didn’t pay him too much attention, mostly because he was focused on the math problems he was doing. It was still surreal that Lydia Martin, fresh from the hospital, had taken a few minutes to help him go over the problems they were doing in school. She wasn’t even in his class, but she had still pulled him aside after Allison’s aunt’s funeral and said she’d heard he was having difficulty.

Was this what it was like to know nice people? Isaac didn’t know, and he didn’t want to get used to it. People were fickle, and it was easy to forget about someone once they stopped being entertaining. He hoped he wouldn’t stop being entertaining, but then again, he didn’t know what he had done to warrant this attention in the first place.

Jackson Whittemore had spent the last week helping him with lacrosse, coaching him after practice, along with Scott and Danny. That wasn’t supposed to happen. It was all something that seemed to be out of a movie, and when he had mentioned it to Allison, she had only laughed and said she completely understood.

“Isaac!”

His head shot up, pulled from his math problem. His dad was looking at him, and for a moment Isaac flinched, but then he saw his dad smiling, and he relaxed a fraction.

“Off in dream world there?”

He nodded, unable to speak until he had swallowed. “Yeah. I uh, Lydia gave me pointers on my math homework yesterday, so I wanted to see if they worked.”

“Lydia, eh?” His dad said, sitting down. “That the girl you were at the funeral with?”

Isaac nodded hesitantly. He hadn’t been sure his dad had seen him there. He hadn’t been planning to go, but Scott had declared at lunch on Friday that he was going, and then had invited Isaac, as if that wasn’t a weird thing to do. Isaac hadn’t known how to say no.

“Surprised you went. Didn’t know you were into that town gossip,” his dad said ideally.

“I know the family,” Isaac said, wanting to go back to his homework, but too afraid to take his eyes off his father. He couldn’t quite get a read on his father's mood, and not knowing that was the worst part. It meant he didn't know how to react.

His dad nodded, as if that made sense. “Well, I’m glad that you’re doing your homework, at least. I know that was a problem for you earlier this semester.”

Isaac swallowed, unable to vocalize his thoughts, and how it was his dad’s fault that he had missed so much time. If his dad hadn’t broken his arm and then tried to force him to hide it, he wouldn’t have been so delirious with pain that he couldn’t get through school for a month.

His wrist still ached when the weather changed, and holding the lacrosse stick too long would cause his right hand to be useless for days.

“Just trying to finish on a high note,” Isaac said instead.

His dad leaned forward. “Just trying to finish on a high note. Perfectly acceptable. Except,” Isaac felt himself seize up, “in between your new friends, and homework, you can’t seem to remember that you need to make dinner?”

Isaac flinched, because that was the tone. That was the bad tone, and suddenly his chest felt tight. He was beginning to panic, and he didn’t know yet if fight or flight was better.

“I thought maybe yesterday was a one time thing, but two days in a row, Isaac?” His father moved right after he said that, and Isaac tried to run. He knew it was stupid, he never got far, and he could already hear his father.

You run for lacrosse right? Why can’t you run here? Is it cause you know you’ve been bad? Escape if you’re so tough.

And then fists. Too many hits, and Isaac tried to shield himself, dropping all of his weight so his dad had to work harder to get him down to the basement.

Isaac stumbled as his foot got trapped in a step, and it was enough for his dad’s grip to lessen just a bit. Just enough for Isaac to get out of his hold.

He tripped as he tried to turn around and get back up the stairs.

His dad grabbed his ankle and tugged him.

Isaac fell, his chin hitting the wooden plank of the stairs. He bit his tongue and blood filled his mouth. It disoriented him enough that he went pliant when his dad hauled him up, probably just to be sure he didn’t break his arm again. He wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle that followed. Isaac didn’t start fighting back until he heard the freezer lid opening.

“No!” He screamed, thrashing even as his dad hit him again.

He tried to fight, but his dad used any momentum he had against him, knocking him off balance and into the freezer.

Isaac screamed again. Not words. He couldn’t make words. The lid was closing. He heard the chains locking him in.

He couldn’t breathe.

He couldn’t think.

He needed help.

He needed his father dead.

He needed to breathe.

Isaac scratched at the freezer lid. He kicked at it, and punched at it, but it didn’t budge. It never budged.

He was alone.

No one was coming.

He didn’t have anyone.

Isaac screamed anyway.

***

It wasn’t that hard to convince Danny and Scott to come with her, once she told them the idea.

“We’re just going to monitor them,” Allison said as she hugged Scott goodbye as he was leaving her house after the funeral.

“Monitor them?” He asked, looking unsure. “Why would they need monitoring? I’m pretty sure Stiles and Derek have that whole ‘paying attention’ thing down.”

Allison rolled her eyes. “Because I worry,” she said, and that was enough for Scott. She didn’t need to go into detail about what she was worried about, and how it had rocketed up upon meeting her grandfather. She instantly disliked him, getting a bad feeling from him. Especially because she didn’t even have to ask to know he was a hunter, and he was probably here to avenge Kate.

Danny was just as easy to convince, with a simple text telling him that they were going to stand watch outside wherever they took Jackson and Lydia.

“Already planned on that,” Danny said over the phone. “Stiles told me they are going to be in the Hale house basement, and I have just the spot where we’ll have a good view of the house as well as people approaching it.”

“Perfect,” Allison said.

That’s how they got parked a couple hundred yards away from the house in Allison’s car. Danny had stripped her license plates, promising to put them back on after they were done. It probably should have been weird, but it seemed normal setting up the night vision binoculars she had swiped from her dad’s stash so she could see the house. Scott sat beside her, helping her set up, while Danny configured another phone he had bought just for this, so he was tracking everyone’s phone’s GPS.

“I didn’t even know you could do that,” Scott said in minor awe.

Danny grinned as he got seven flashing lights. “It’s nothing special. One of my exes taught me. We then found out he was a murderer, but at least I learned something from him.” He held up the other device he had brought. “Now this, this is a piece of art.”

“What is it?” Allison asked, not expecting him to have anything else with him except the GPS tracker.

“Well, you mentioned that there would be hunters, right? When I was over your house yesterday, I may have taken the liberty of finding their radios.” Allison felt her jaw drop. “This keeps track of their radio signal, and so if they get too close to us, we’ll pick them up, and be able to track them.”

Allison laughed, throwing her head back. “Could our lives be any weirder?”

Scott made a face. “I guess we could be the ones in there?”

“Point.” Allison admitted, giving him that. She looked through the binoculars. It wasn’t dark enough yet, but she could see that they did work.

They were all set up for a boring night on watch.

“Danny, can you hand me my bow?” She asked, wanting to make sure it was in reach if something happened and they needed to defend their pack.

She heard him shuffle in the backseat, and then she was handed her bow. Allison placed it in Scott’s lap, and now that she was armed, she allowed herself to relax just a bit. This night wouldn’t be that hard.

***

It did make Derek nervous when neither of them turned right away. The moon was up, and yet Lydia and Jackson were still human. He couldn’t believe it, because Jackson had healed. Jackson smelled like a something at the least. He should have turned.

But he hadn’t. They were both human, and it just kept getting later, and later.

Stiles had abandoned Mad Libs after the third round, and had moved on to a trivia game he had bought. Lydia was destroying him in it, it seemed, but at least they were distracting themselves. Derek couldn’t be distracted because they hadn’t changed. Jackson was still human.

This wasn’t right.

Derek could tell that Jackson didn’t feel right about this either. He looked pale, and he kept looking at his hands, as if waiting for something. Derek thought he might be able to feel the shift under his skin, and he was trying to think of words that would encourage him to push it out. He was coming up blank.

“Something’s wrong,” Jackson finally said, looking up. His eyes were glassy, and he was starting to sway.

Lydia and Stiles stopped their game and looked over at him. “What?” Lydia asked.

Jackson wasn’t looking at her though, he was looking towards the door. “Something feels wrong.”

“That’s just the change, Jackson,” Stiles said, trying to keep his voice calm.

Derek knew why though, because he could smell the change in Jackson. He was starting to change, and it wasn’t going right.

There wasn’t anything physical just yet, but then suddenly Derek could see spots growing up Jackson’s neck. He convulsed, neck snapping to the side, and his face changed.

Lydia shrieked, trying to move as far away from him as possible. She wasn’t scared though, and after a moment she tried to reach for Jackson again. Derek couldn’t help feeling pride at how courageous his pack members were.

Jackson’s head snapped forward and his face was wrong. His nose had flattened against his face, and he didn’t look canine at all. He was growing scales, and it wasn’t right.

Derek stood frozen at the front of the cell, mind racing. He didn’t know what was happening. He thought he had prepared for most everything, but that didn’t seem to be the case.

Derek couldn’t even anticipate what to do. Jackson was hissing, but he wasn’t trying to fight his way out yet.

As soon as Derek thought that, of course, Jackson pulled against his restraints, ripping out of them. That spurred Stiles into action, who immediately threw himself towards Lydia, shielding her with his body.

Jackson didn’t seem interested in her though, heading straight for the door. Derek lunged, roaring as he tried to cut him off, but a tail came flying towards him out of nowhere.

It hit him, full on muscle, and knocked Derek away.

Jackson scrambled towards the door, and managed to push his way through it with no effort.

Derek stood up, enraged at being pushed aside so easily and he gave chase. “Stiles!” He called, ordering his beta to follow him. He couldn’t let Jackson get out. There would be hunters tonight, and they would hurt Jackson.

Or Jackson would hurt someone else.

Either way, Derek could not allow that to happen.

“What the fuck was that, Derek?” Stiles demanded as he caught up to Derek, a few hundred yards away from the house.

“I have no idea,” he growled. “But we’re going to find out.”

***

“Anything on the radio, Danny?” Scott asked, hearing the radio crackle for the fourth time.

Allison had started blocking the static out, focusing instead on looking through the binoculars. Watch really was boring, even though Allison kept telling herself that boring was a good thing. Boring meant that everything was okay.

“Nothing significant. They drive in and out of range.” Danny leaned back in his seat, and Allison glanced at him through the rearview mirror. “You think Jackson and Lydia have turned yet?”

“The moon’s up,” Scott said. “So they should, if they’ve turned.”

“Jackson’s wound healed,” Danny said. “And Stiles has been pissy with him all week because he smells different. So he’ll be turning.”

“We still don’t know about Lydia?” Allison asked, finally turning around.

Danny shook his head. “No, we don’t.”

Scott sighed. “This sucks. I can’t wait until we’re able to be together on the full moon.”

Allison opened her mouth to reply, but then she heard a bang. She jolted forward, grabbing the binoculars and looking towards the sound.

She saw something move quickly, running out towards the road, away from them. After a beat, Derek was following it, and then Stiles.

“Shit,” she said, grabbing Danny’s GPS. Jackson and Lydia’s signals were staying stationary, so she couldn’t tell who had moved.

“What happened?” Danny and Scott said at the same time, and then they continued to talk.

“Who left?”

“Allison, give me my tracker.”

“Is everyone okay?”

“Jesus fuck, was it Jackson, Lydia?”

“Oh god, what do we do?”

“Shut up!” She said, and both boys quieted down. “Danny! Go inside and stay with whoever is still inside!” She pointed towards the door.

He balked. “What? Why?”

“Because Stiles and Derek both left, which means whoever is in there is human, and alone. Scott and I will follow Derek and Stiles.”

“Allison, I can help you!” Danny argued.

“No. Scott has the first aid kit. If someone gets hurt I’ll need him. You need to be with either Jackson, or Lydia. They are probably terrified.” He looked liked he was going to argue and so Allison tacked on one last, “Go!”

“Fine. But if I get abandoned in the woods I’m quitting,” Danny grumbled, as he climbed out of the car and jogged towards the house.

“We’ll be back for you!” Scott called as Allison pulled out of her spot, driving off in the direction of Derek and Stiles’ dots.

They were moving quickly, probably at break neck speed to catch up with whoever it was that they were chasing.

Allison cursed as she saw the dots enter town, and she realized she’d be forced to take the roads. “Scott! Give me directions!”

He was pretty awful at it, but she knew she couldn’t keep glancing at the GPS. She ignored the traffic lights she could, thankful that it was late. And if she got pulled over, she was prepared to use her connection to Stiles for all it was worth.

“They’ve stopped!” Scott called out.

“Great,” Allison snapped, trying to look at the tracker, while slamming on the gas to get through the next light. “Where?”

“Uh. 428 Mountain View Lane?” Scott looked up. “Isn’t that Jackson’s house?”

Allison took a sharp left, honking on her horn to warn the oncoming traffic. “Fuck. I think it is.”

She sped the rest of the way to Jackson’s house, pulling up to a full stop, and getting out the moment she had the key out of the ignition.

Scott was already running up to the door, holding her bow, but then he stopped. Allison shot past him, grabbing her bow out of his hands. “Come on, Scott!”

“Wait, Allison. That says 423.”

Allison stopped, and looked at the number on Jackson’s house. She whipped around. “That one!” She pointed, crossing the street to get to 428.

The front door was shut, and Allison tested it, finding it unlocked.

She didn’t know what she was expecting to find when she opened the door, but an empty house wasn’t it.

She raised her bow. “Scott,” she whispered. “Stay behind me.”

She walked carefully through the house, listening.

There was a growl. She pressed herself against the wall, and was glad when Scott followed her lead.

Something crashed, and there was a roar. Allison took a deep breath and glanced into the kitchen.

Blood. There was blood all over the kitchen.

Allison looked away, and took a deep breath. Scott was looking at her questioningly, and she shook her head. She hadn’t seen anything useful though.

She would need to look again.

There was another crash, and then there was a body being tossed through the door. Allison held back her scream, and threw her hand over Scott’s mouth to make sure he didn’t scream either.

Derek was slumped against the wall opposite her, not moving. Her eyes went wide as his head lolled to the side.

Scott rushed to his side, pressing his fingers to Derek’s pulse.

“Para-” Derek groaned.

Scott let out a huge sigh of relief. “He’s alive. I think he’s just paralyzed.” He pulled out a flashlight from his pocket, shining a light in Derek’s eyes.

Allison nodded and after taking a breath she looked back into the kitchen, bow raised.

She spotted a body, torn up beyond recognition, but she ignored it. She had to. Couldn’t think that it could possibly be Stiles.

There was a door open, leading down to the basement. She checked her corners as she went down the stairs.

The first thing she heard was talking.

“Hey buddy, I just want to help,” Stiles was whispering, as if he was talking to a scared puppy. “You just need to let me get to that freezer.”

If Jackson had lost control then it was no surprise he was trying to talk him down. And it had to be Jackson now, because Stiles wouldn’t talk to Lydia like that.

Allison spotted Stiles, his back to her. She took another step, and was impressed when it didn’t creak. Neither Stiles nor Jackson looked up at her.

She got a look at Jackson, and sucked in a breath when she registered what he looked like. He didn't look like any werewolf she had seen. He looked more like a lizard, spots covering his entire body. He was unrecognizable to her, and the only thing that reason Allison continued to believe that it was Jackson was because of how Stiles had spoken to him.

Allison raised her bow, and fired an arrow into Jackson's shoulder.

He dropped and Stiles let out a cry of surprise, turning around and staring at her with wide eyes. Allison added a second arrow, just to be sure, even though hearing him cry out was painful.

Stiles turned back around and tackled Jackson to the ground, reaching around and finding something to hold him down.

“Allison! Get to the freezer.”

She blinked. “What?”

Stiles growled, fighting to keep a grip on Jackson. “The freezer. Isaac is in there.”

Allison didn’t remember how she managed to move so quickly, but suddenly she was down the stairs and reaching for the freezer lid. There was a chain, and a lock, but she was lucky because the key was in there already. She unlocked it, and bracing herself, opened the freezer lid.

She heard Jackson let out a cry, but she was too focused on Isaac flailing. He was bleeding, and crying, trying to claw his way out of the freezer.

Allison did the only thing she could think. She pulled him into a hug, and he hugged back, sobbing. “You’re okay, you’re okay,” she whispered, though she had no idea what had just happened.

She looked at Stiles, who was struggling with Jackson. “Is that Jackson?” She whispered, hoping not to draw Isaac’s attention.

Stiles nodded, and then he was thrown to the side, Jackson getting up, and letting out a hiss. Isaac’s head shot up from her shoulder, and his eyes locked with Jackson.

He pulled away from her, and even though Allison tried to pull him back, he moved towards Jackson, raising his hand up.

“What is it?” Isaac asked, voice filled with awe and wonder. Jackson mimicked his motions, placing their palms together, and Allison watched as Isaac let out a quiet sob. “Oh god, my dad,” he looked at Allison, and then Stiles. “He’s dead?”

Before Stiles or Allison could answer, Jackson swayed forward and passed out, into Isaac’s arms.

Chapter Text

Stiles had never been afraid of his father, which said a lot about his dad, considering how much Stiles had acted up as a kid. He trusted his dad to understand him, and in turn to trust him back. So far his dad had honored that, first by believing him about the Derek situation back at the school, and then for handling this whole werewolf situation with such ease. His dad had gone and threatened hunters on his behalf! That said a lot.

But still, that didn’t make calling him at this moment any easier, because seriously, how do you have this conversation?

Hey dad, so Jackson took the bite, transformed into some horrible monster - I know that’s not how it’s supposed to go, who knew! - but get this! He killed someone. I mean it’s no problem since it looks like the person he killed was a dick who locked his son in a freezer. So if you could just cover this up that would be great.

Yeah… that wasn’t going to go over so well.

Stiles looked around the basement, trying to figure out what to do. Allison was kneeling next to Isaac, who hadn’t moved since Jackson had collapsed in his arms. At least that was something; Jackson was morphing back from spotted hell demon to his normal self.

Stiles could hear Scott upstairs, and Stiles really didn’t want to go up there. The smell of blood and death was harrowing. If he was under the misconception that he was completely adjusted after everything with Peter and Kate those had been shattered. Obviously he still had issues to work out.

Derek was upstairs as well, not moving, but awake. Paralyzed, he thought.

Lydia had to still be out at the house, her heartbeat steady in a way that told Stiles she was intentionally not freaking out.

That left - “Where’s Danny?” Stiles asked, pinpointing that Danny was calm too, but he couldn’t tell where he was since he was too far out of range.

Allison looked up, keeping a hand on Isaac’s shoulder. “At the house with Lydia.”

Stiles nodded. “Right. Makes sense.”

“Is Lydia… fine?”

“She didn’t change. Or at least, she hadn’t when we left. And her heart rate is normal so if she did change she has amazing control and I’m probably going to hug her something fierce for being amazing.” He rubbed his face. “Fuck, I hope that’s the case though. Danny will kill me if he dies.”

Allison choked on her laugh, and Isaac finally looked up, blinking as if he had just woken up. Maybe he had, and his brain was finally processing everything.

“I need to see the body,” Isaac said, looking down at Jackson.

Allison and Stiles shared a look. “The body?” Allison asked.

“My father. He’s in the kitchen, right? That’s where Jackson killed him.”

“Isaac, I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” Allison said right as Stiles asked, “How do you know that?”

Isaac didn’t take his eyes off Jackson, carefully running his fingers through his hair. “He told me. We’re connected.”

“That’ll be a little awkward to explain to Lydia,” Stiles said.

Isaac shook his head. “No. Not like that. I mean, he killed my dad for me. I wanted him dead so badly. It’s all I could focus on.”

Allison rested her hand on his shoulder. “I know it feels that way, but that’s not what happened. This was just an accident. Jackson-” She looked at Stiles for confirmation. He nodded and she continued. “He was turned into a werewolf, and this was his first full moon. His change went wrong, and he escaped from where we were holding him. He was probably just trying to get to his house.”

“No! I can - when we touched hands,” Isaac shook his head. “He’s mine. He came here because I was in trouble. He might have become this for me.”

“It doesn’t work like that,” Stiles said, kneeling besides Isaac. He kept one eye on Jackson, who was still passed out. “You don’t need to blame yourself.”

Isaac made a frustrated noise. “I’m not! I’m telling you the truth. I saw inside his mind when we touched. That’s how I know my dad is--” he stuttered. It took him a moment to pull himself together. “He ripped his stomach open with a claw. And - and he has this toxin. It paralyzes - he struck your, your Derek when he got in the way. He was coming to free me.”

Stiles looked at Allison. The details were correct, though Stiles hadn’t been aware how Derek had gotten paralyzed. He had been afraid Jackson had managed to sever Derek’s spinal column. That probably would have taken a while to heal.

“Do you believe me now?”

Stiles squeezed Isaac’s shoulder, unsure of what to say. They needed to do some serious research. “Come on. We need to call Danny, and then my dad. Allison, where’s your dad?”

Allison looked at him, before helping Isaac stand. Jackson stayed unconscious and Stiles took the initiative to toss him over his shoulder. He wrinkled his nose as it finally registered that Jackson was naked, and therefore his bare balls were pressed against his shoulder.

“We seriously need to invest in spandex, so it sticks to our skin when we morph.”

Allison gave him a weird look, but Isaac snorted. “Does this happen often?”

“You’re the mind reader, you tell me.”

Isaac’s face went blank. “I’m not a mind reader. It’s just Jackson.”

Stiles heaved a sigh. “Of course it is, Ianto. Well come on.” He took the basement stairs two at a time, just wanting to get Jackson off him as quickly as possible. Allison followed, a hand on Isaac’s shoulder to help guide him.

Scott popped his head into the kitchen from the hallway when they all got there. He looked grim for a moment, but then his face shifted into a half smile. “Dude, his balls are touching you.”

“I’m aware, Scott,” Stiles said, dropping Jackson onto the kitchen table, one of the only places in the kitchen not covered in blood. “Allison, take Isaac outside and call Danny. Scott, can you follow them and look at Isaac’s hands to make sure they are--” he cut himself off. “Wait. We can’t clean him up.”

“Why not?” Scott asked, clutching his backpack.

“It wouldn’t fit with the story,” Allison said.

“What story?”

“The one where Isaac killed his dad in self defense that my dad will probably have to make up.” Stiles looked at Isaac, who was frozen at the top of the stairs, staring at his father.

Allison was trying to block his view, but she was failing, too small to be any real help. “Isaac,” she said, “let’s go outside.”

Isaac swallowed, and for a second it looked like he was going to follow Allison, but then he bent over and threw up on the kitchen floor. Stiles scrunched up his nose in sympathy as Allison and Scott went over to Isaac and rubbed his back.

Stiles left the two of them to it, moving towards the hallway where Derek was still paralyzed. His head was lolled forward, and Stiles could see him try and move his head to the side but the muscles weren’t working properly yet. He kneeled down next to Derek and lifted his head for him.

“We got Jackson.”

“Good,” Derek said. “Is the kid alright?”

“Isaac? I mean, his abusive dad was killed and he just saw the body so I figure he’s probably about a three on a scale of ten.”

“You need to call your dad,” Derek said, pointedly ignoring Stiles.

Stiles winced. “I will. Just wanted to see how you were doing.”

“I’m great. Minus the paralysis, this entire detour on a night that should have been fairly routine, and the fact that a member of our pack just killed someone.”

“He’s not really a member of our pack if he’s a lizard right?” Stiles could tell that Derek was trying to give him a look, but didn’t have full control of his facial muscles yet. “I’m going to call my dad, alright?” Stiles kissed Derek before standing up and taking his cellphone out. He looked around the hallway and the kitchen as he waited for his dad to pick up, mind racing with how they could do this. What he had told Allison was most likely going to be the angle his dad worked. It might have to go a little differently - Isaac was locked in the freezer and when he was let go that’s when he attacked - but the main facts were there.

“What happened?” His dad’s voice sounded wrecked with worry and Stiles’ stomach gave a guilty jolt.

“What makes you think anything happened?” Stiles asked, wincing when Derek snorted.

“Stiles,” his father said, and Stiles took a deep breath, hearing the unsaid threat.

“You know Isaac Lahey?” He waited for his dad’s grunt of acknowledgement. “I need you to come to his house. Something happened.”

“Something?”

“I don’t want to say it over the phone, dad. I just really need your help.”

He could hear his dad sigh. “I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”

“Thank you,” Stiles said before he heard the click of his dad’s line. He put his phone back in his pocket, taking a deep breath of stale blood soaked air before he turned back to Derek. “You still paralyzed?”

Derek gave him a look. “Move Jackson and the rest of them into the living room.”

Stiles did as he was told, ushering the three of them out of the kitchen as he picked up Jackson again, laying him out on the sofa.

“Someone should probably dress him,” Allison said, and she wasn’t quite blushing but Stiles could tell she was uncomfortable in a nervous laughter sort of way.

Scott put a hand on Isaac’s shoulder. “Can he borrow a pair of your sweatpants?”

Isaac twitched under Scott’s touch, and it seemed to take him a minute to register what was being asked of him, but then he nodded. He kept looking between his bloody hands and Jackson, eyes glazed over. “I have a pair of them in my room. I just - my hands.”

Scott gave him his most reassuring smile. “I’ll go get them. Your room is this way?” He pointed as he asked and Isaac nodded.

“All the way at the end of the hallway.”

Once Scott was headed in that direction Isaac went back to staring at his hands. “What’s going to happen? Are you guys going to kill me, or give me a mind wipe?”

Allison snorted, taking up Scott’s spot next to Isaac. “Stiles called his dad. He’ll figure this out. You don’t need to worry.”

Isaac tried to suppress a sob, and his breath hitched. “My dad, he’s dead cause I killed him. I think I should be allowed to worry.”

“Nothing’s going to happen to you.” Allison said with such conviction that even Stiles believed her. “You’re a kid, Isaac, we all are.”

“Kids still get put away for murder.”

“Self defense.” Stiles said. “That’s what this was. And besides that, this was a supernatural crime.”

“Still has real world consequences,” Isaac said. “Just ask the Winchesters.”

Stiles bit his tongue from any retort that might send Isaac back into a funk, but then he realized Isaac was almost smiling and he wasn’t going to waste that. “They had years, and years before they got caught. We’re only three months into this.”

Isaac let out a choked laugh. “Oh god, I’m the mid season change. I’m going to be dead before the finale.”

Allison was giving them both a weird look, and it was echoed by Scott as he came back holding a pair of grey lacrosse sweatpants. At least Stiles could hear Derek laughing quietly in the hallway.

He was about to respond, but the sound of his dad pulling up stopped him. The others tensed up after a moment, all of them hearing the slam of his car door. Stiles could track his dad’s hurried steps up the driveway and to the front door. And then he was there in the doorway, face grave with concern before his eyes fell on them.

“Why the hell is Jackson Whittemore naked on the couch?” Stiles winced, and was about to respond but his dad cut him off, eyes already moving onto the next detail. “And what the hell happened to your hands?” He was looking at Isaac, moving closer to them. He paused. “Where’s Derek?”

Derek made a thump in the hallway, and Stiles watched as his dad’s head jerked up. He began walking that way. He stopped in the hallway and Stiles could see him turn his head down. “What happened to you?”

“Paralyzed,” Derek said. Stiles couldn’t see his face.

He waited to move, to follow his dad and stop him from going into the kitchen, but he was frozen in his spot, just like the other three.

“How the hell did you get-” his dad stopped mid-sentence and it took Stiles a moment to realize it was because he smelled the blood. His dad’s head whipped towards the kitchen, and then he was moving. Stiles managed to unfreeze himself and he made a run for the kitchen but he was too late.

“Holy shit,” his dad whispered, staring at Mr. Lahey’s dead body, sprawled on the floor.

Stiles stopped right behind him. “Dad…”

“What the hell happened, Stiles?” His dad’s voice was restrained anger as he took a step forward but then paused, seeming to realize this was a crime scene and he needed to preserve it.

“Jackson-”

“Jackson did this? Why the fuck did Jackson do this? I thought you said you have everything under control.” His dad turned on him.

“We did! We do!”

“Then how did this happen, Stiles? I told Chris Argent I had you under control, that Derek had the pack under control and this happens the first full moon after that? Are you aware of how much trouble this is going to cause?”

“Dad! Dad!” Stiles said, shouted really, until he got his dad’s attention. “Something went wrong.”

“No shit.”

“And Jackson responded to Isaac’s distress. Isaac was locked in a freezer downstairs - his dad had locked him in there. Jackson was coming to rescue him. He was running on pure instinct and this had already happened by the time Derek and I caught up to him. We got Isaac out of the freezer but I can show it to you if you need.”

His dad had deflated in the middle of his speech. “Stiles. I’m not sure I can protect you from this.”

“Dad, it’s a simple crime clean up. I’m not saying ignore this, but if we shift the blame to Isaac - say it was self defense and he called you, confessed.”

“Stiles,” his dad was giving him such a pained look, almost like he couldn’t believe Stiles was saying this, mixed with resignation. “I’m not talking about the law. That, that I can handle. But the hunters. It was a full moon. Someone died.”

“Someone not related to the pack!”

“You’re telling me you won’t be seen with Isaac Lahey again? The hunters will be looking and if Isaac starts hanging out with you…”

“They don’t know I’m a werewolf!”

“For how much longer? You and Derek are known friends.”

“Point, but the whole town thinks I just have a giant boner for him.”

His dad gave him a look. “And how would the hunters see that? They’d think Derek was grooming you to be bitten. Get your allegiance or something. The point is this will come back to you, and Stiles, that terrifies me.”

“Dad, it’s okay. Derek and I can protect ourselves. I need you to help protect our pack from the real world, though.”

His dad took a deep breath and looked back at the kitchen. “I’m going to need Isaac in here,” his dad finally said, stepping up to look at the body.

Stiles watched him examine the body, putting on gloves before he looked. It made Stiles wonder if he had already prepared himself for this. He was looking at the cut Jackson had done to slice open the belly of Mr Lahey, ignoring the other slices for now. He turned to the knife block after a moment. He pulled a chef’s knife out, looking at the body and then back to the knife. Stiles was about to say something when his dad plunged the knife into the wound. His face was grimly determined as he pulled it out after swiping the blade along the cut.

“Call Isaac in here,” he said softly.

Sitles moved on autopilot, and he knew his face had to be pale, but no one made a comment. “Isaac,” Stiles said.

Isaac was still looking at his hands, but he nodded and stood, moving into the kitchen. He didn’t look at his father’s body, just stood awkwardly in the kitchen.

Stiles watched his father come up to Isaac, holding the knife.

“Isaac,” his father said. “Did Stiles explain anything?”

Isaac shrugged. “A little. I heard you two talking.” He took a deep breath. “It’s like how Stiles said. Jackson did this to save me.”

His dad shook his head. “That’s fine. But we can’t tell the cops that. So we’re going to tell a different story. And to make that story work I’m going to have to do some things that you may not like. You just tell me if you need to stop and we will. You don’t have to go through with this.”

Isaac nodded, finally looking at the knife held in Stiles’ dad’s hand. “You need me to get my fingerprints on that?”

“Yes, and I’ll need to put your dad’s blood on your hand. Is that okay?”

Isaac nodded again, holding out his hand. “I’m ready.”

Stiles watched his dad gently coax Isaac into holding the knife correctly so they matched with how Isaac would have had to hold the knife to kill his father. Isaac kept a stone face during the entire ordeal, even as he had to scrap his nails along his father’s facial wounds to get skin cells under the nails.

Once those two steps were done Stiles’ dad turned to him. “I’m going to need you, Derek, and the others to leave.”

“I know.”

“And then I’m going to call you - just you - and you need to come here and do the performance of your life.”

Stiles gave his dad a questioning look. “Why?”

“Because Isaac will be staying with us, and I’ll need you to take him home. Now get out of here so I can call this in and hope they don’t trace my calls before I figure out how to fake my history to show Isaac did call me.”

“Danny can help.”

Stiles saw his dad wince. “Of course, Danny could help. God help the world if you ever go dark side.”

Stiles couldn’t stop his smile from showing, and so he just said, “I won’t go dark side.” His dad rolled his eyes, moving around the kitchen to take in more details. “I’ll see you soon, Isaac. And thanks, Dad.”

His dad waved him off and Stiles went back into the living room. Derek was able to move his arms now, but he was having trouble with his legs, so Stiles lifted him up, and helped him to his feet. Derek’s feet dragged, still not able to move.

Allison and Scott were sitting on either side of Jackson, who now had Isaac’s pants on.

“Are they done?” Allison asked, standing up.

“Yeah,” Stiles said. “But we need to get out of here.”

“I called Danny,” Allison said. “He’s on his way to your house with Lydia.”

Stiles couldn’t deny the way his stomach dropped at the knowledge Lydia hadn’t turned. That would be the only reason Danny was willing to leave. “Alright, that’s good. Let me just get Jackson.” He knew his dad hadn’t called this in yet. He was probably waiting for them to leave. So he got Jackson thrown over his other shoulder, and started walking to the door, Allison and Scott trailing behind him.

***

Isaac was slowly going into shock. He tried to stop it, but it was coming the longer he stayed in the kitchen, the house. It wasn’t just the blood on his hands, or the smell of death he was positive he would never stop smelling. It was also the fact that Stiles’ dad had him going through the motions, showing him the freezer, all while Isaac slowly felt himself drifting towards that cold numb place he landed in after a few hours in the freezer.

By the time Stiles’ dad sat him down on the couch right before he said he would radio in the call, Isaac had no idea how he was even functioning.

“Isaac,” the sheriff said, “we’re going to go over the story and I’ll take a statement, but there’s a good chance you’ll have to do it again. Can you handle that?”

Isaac nodded numbly. “Yes, sir.”

The sheriff shifted and pulled out his notepad. “Alright, so around 7:30 PM your father and you got into a fight right?” Isaac nodded, agreeing with everything the sheriff said, and parroting back what he needed to. He was locked in the freezer, and when his dad let him out - about 8:30, he followed his father upstairs and attacked him. It surprised his father, so he didn’t fight back. Isaac got sick after realizing what he had done, and then he called the sheriff. It was now almost 10, and while the sheriff seemed a little concerned with the missing time he hadn’t said anything, so Isaac wasn’t going to mention it.

After they were done, the sheriff pulled out his phone and called the police. He sounded appropriately grim as he said, “yeah, the Lahey house. See you soon, Remy.”

“What’s going to happen to me?” Isaac asked after the sheriff had hung up.

He gave Isaac a measured look before speaking. “You’ll stay with me. This case will probably never go to trial. Boyd, the county’s attorney, won’t want to press charges more likely.”

“I won’t get put in a home or something?”

“No," he reassured. “Stiles will want to keep you close, no doubt.”

“Because of the werewolf stuff.”

“Probably.” The sheriff licked his lips. “What did you know about that?”

Isaac laughed, and it took him a moment to realize he was crying as he did. “Nothing. I didn’t know - I mean, looking back you can tell. Stiles changed after Christmas. He started dating Danny, and their group got very closed off. And then they suddenly started talking to me. I thought something was weird, but I haven’t had friends for a couple years. I just never thought werewolves.”

“Yeah, you never do expect that.”

Isaac was quiet, and he could hear sirens in the distance. “Do you know if they’ll turn me?” The sheriff looked at him, and Isaac continued before he got cut off. “I just wonder if they’ll still like me if I’m human.”

The sheriff’s face shifted to warm understanding. “I don’t think they would have become friends with you if they were just gonna ditch you.”

The sirens came closer, until they were right outside and Isaac could see the lights through the window.

The sheriff stood up, and opened the door, letting three officers and two EMTs in. Isaac recognized one of the officers from those Stranger Danger programs they had to sit through in middle school. The sheriff introduced them, but Isaac didn’t shake any hands, all too aware of the blood on them. The officers all took note of the blood too before the sheriff guided the five of them into the kitchen.

Isaac sat on the couch as they puttered around in the kitchen, before making their way downstairs. He didn’t know how long he sat there before an officer took a seat across from him. Deputy Remy Lyon, Isaac recalled.

“Hello, Isaac. I’m just going to ask you a few questions and take a couple pictures and then you’ll get to clean up, okay?

Isaac nodded, not looking up at the sheriff who he could feel standing in the doorway, watching everything. “I’m ready.”

Deputy Remy smiled at him, and though it didn’t quite reach his eyes it made Isaac feel a little better.

***

“I’m going to kill Jackson,” Danny growled as he drove Stiles’ shitty Jeep out of the woods. “And then I’m going to kill Stiles for having such a shitty car.”

“Shame Derek’s is totaled,” Lydia said from the passengers seat.

“Shame you two didn’t drive Jackson’s car up here.” Danny knew he was just wound tight from the events of the past night. The full moon was supposed to be easy, not involve Jackson turning into something and getting free.

Lydia was patting his knee, looking far too put together - which only meant she was freaking out worse than him, no doubt. “I’ll help you steal his car, how’s that?”

Danny took a deep calming breath as they made it on to the main street. “So you’re sure he wasn’t a wolf?”

“Positive. He didn’t look like anything I had seen before.”

“Great. Of course Jackson has to be a super special snowflake.”

They were both silent as Danny got into town and then he heard Lydia ask, “what do you think happened?”

“Something bad,” Danny said, because he couldn’t lie to her. Allison sounded awful on the phone, and though she’d said the pack was fine Danny didn’t know if he could believe her. He felt like it was one of those things he would have to see to believe.

He pulled into Stiles’ driveway, and he and Lydia both rushed out of the Jeep and into Stiles’ house.

Nobody was in the living room, but Danny had seen Allison’s car parked outside. The two of them traded looks before running upstairs to see the rest of the pack in Stiles’ bedroom. Jackson was dressed in too long sweatpants, apparently asleep on Stiles’ bed, while Derek sat in Stiles’ computer chair. Scott and Allison were on the floor. Stiles wasn’t there, but Danny could hear him in the spare bedroom so he focused on Jackson instead.

Lydia had already rushed to his side, checking him over, and Danny followed.

“What happened?” He asked, looking at Derek, noticing that he was stiff in the chair.

“Jackson. He reacted poorly to the bite, or something. But the point is he’s not a werewolf,” Derek said, still not really moving.

“And he killed someone, which my dad is covering up right now.”

Danny’s head snapped up. “What the fuck!” He looked back down at Jackson, to Jackson’s hands and then to Lydia, who was also looking blown away. “Why didn’t you two stop him?”

“We tried,” Derek said. “But he was too fast. By the time we got there it was too late.”

“Who did he kill? Some innocent bystander?” Lydia asked, fingers running through Jackson’s hair.

Stiles was shaking his head. “Isaac’s dad.”

“Why would he kill him?” Danny asked, trying to make sense of it. That didn’t fit the pattern he had read about out of control werewolves. They were more likely to hurt themselves or pack than a passerby, let alone a specific person.

“Isaac was locked up in a- in a freezer,” Allison said. “He says that he was begging for someone’s help, and Jackson responded.”

“You’re saying Jackson killed Isaac’s dad because he sensed Isaac wanted him to?” Danny asked.

“It’s not outside the realm of possibility. There are other creatures that have telepathic powers. While it’s not known in any werewolves, creatures like the fae, vampires, and djinn, just to name a few, do have those powers,” Lydia said.

“Oh, goodie,” Stiles said, drifting towards Derek, who was still not moving correctly. “I always wanted a telepathic pack member.”

“Maybe it’s Isaac who is,” Lydia said. “I mean either way he probably shouldn’t get the Bite until we figure this out.”

“My thoughts exactly,” Derek said.

“And what happened to you?” Lydia asked, looking at Derek.

“I got paralyzed. According to Isaac, the form Jackson had has some kind of toxin that paralyzes. I got hit with it.”

“That’s an impressive skill. How long have you been paralyzed now? Almost two hours?”

Derek gave Lydia a look that Danny was pretty sure would be accompanied by a finger if he could move that much.

“Anyway,” Stiles said, running his fingers through Derek’s hair, and Danny looked away from that. “My dad’s at Isaac’s house making it look like a self-defense killing and I’ll be going over there soon to get Isaac and bring him here.”

“Where will Derek supposedly sleep then?” Lydia asked, waggling an eyebrow, and Danny looked down at Jackson, because that wasn’t something he wanted to think about.

“I still have my apartment,” Derek reminded her. “I haven’t gotten around to cancelling the lease yet,” and Danny wasn’t going to be grateful for the end of that conversation, but he was so, so grateful.

Danny glanced at Derek who was finally moving his arm, and twitching his leg, and when he caught Derek’s eyes, he mouthed thank you. Derek rolled his eyes, and then tried to stand. The way he fell down almost immediately was enough to cut the tension.

Everyone was too busy laughing that they almost missed Jackson waking up, but Danny felt him stir, and he turned immediately to see Jackson’s eyes flutter open.

“Jackson!” he said, drawing everyone’s attention, and he shifted to Jackson’s other side so he and Lydia could both touch him.

He groaned and lifted a hand to rub his eye. “What happened? Why am I in Stilinski’s bed?”

Lydia put a hand on his chest, pushing him back down. “Why don’t you tell us what you happened.”

Jackson gave her look, and then glanced at everyone else. “I don't know. All I remember is sitting in the basement and then falling asleep. And now I’m awake, and here.”

“You don’t remember anything?” Stiles asked.

“It’s normal not to,” Derek said in response, but Stiles and Lydia were both looking skeptical.

“Derek, he spoke to us. He told us he thought something was going wrong.”

“What are you talking about, Stilinski? You and Lydia were playing that awful trivia game, and I got bored, so I fell asleep. Why? Did I change?”

Danny’s heart broke a little hearing how much hope Jackson’s voice had in it. He wanted this so badly.

“Yeah, you changed alright,” Stiles muttered, and Jackson’s face lit up. “But it was wrong.”

“Just cause you don’t like it doesn’t make it wrong,” Jackson said, smiling widely.

“No,” Danny said quietly, because apparently he had to be the one to say it. “We don’t think you changed into a werewolf.”

Jackson’s face fell, and he looked at Danny. “What do you mean?”

“We don’t have all the answers yet, but we think something reacted with the Bite. So you aren’t a werewolf.”

“But I’m still,” he paused, looking stricken. “I’m still pack, right?”

“Yes!” Danny and Derek said right as Stiles snorted and said, “no.” Danny shot him a hurt look, but luckily Jackson didn’t seem to hear Stiles’ comment.

He seemed to relax a little after that, but he still looked so disappointed. “I changed, though?”

“Yes,” Derek said. “We just don’t know into what.”

“Can you fix it?”

“We don’t know,” Lydia said. “If we can we will.”

Jackson was settling back into the bed, and Danny swallowed because again he would have to be the one to say this.

“One more thing,” he waited until he had Jackson’s attention before he took a deep breath. “You got out, and…” he paused, because how do you tell your best friend he’s a murderer?

“You went to Isaac’s house,” Stiles said.

“Why the hell would I go to Isaac’s house?”

“How the hell should I know?” Stiles snapped. “Isaac says he has some sort of mind meld with you and called for you, but either way it’s good you did. His dad had locked him in a freezer, and,” Stiles looked at Derek, who nodded. Danny’s mouth was dry in anticipation. “We don’t know the exact details, but Isaac stabbed his dad and so his dad was dying and you got Isaac out of the freezer.”

Danny stared at Stiles. That was a huge lie. But Jackson didn’t even notice.

“Isaac stabbed his dad? Holy shit.”

“Yeah. I’ll be getting him soon to come here. But he thinks you two have a connection now, so don’t be a dick to him.”

Jackson snorted. “Who was the one to bring Isaac into the pack in the first place? Me.”

Stiles rolled his eye just as his phone went off. He answered, leaving the room with a parting, “don’t be a dick.”

Danny scrambled after him, needing to at least say thanks. He waited until Stiles was off the phone before he did it.

“Why are you thanking me?” Stiles asked.

“You didn’t need to lie.”

Stiles shrugged. “He doesn’t remember. Why make him feel like a murderer when he can’t remember?”

Danny was hit with the memory that Stiles was also a murderer, so he knew what it was like, and it must be awful if he didn’t want Jackson to feel it. He almost wanted to ask Stiles if he regretted killing Kate, but Danny already knew the answer to that.

“I’ll see you when you get back.”

Stiles smiled. “Yeah. Make sure Derek doesn’t hurt himself while I’m gone.” Danny nodded, and Stiles laughed. “Yes, you will. Don’t get up until the tingling stops.” He waved to Danny as he left the house.

Danny shut the door after Stiles, locking up as well. He rested his head against the door. What the fuck had they gotten into? His mind was racing with all the worries that came from this. Jackson, Isaac, more murder, more hunters, it didn’t seem like life would ever get back to normal.

He took a couple deep breaths. He wasn’t sure he could handle this, but he had to be strong. Lydia was holding on, and she had been attacked by an Alpha. Scott was just fine, and he was McCall. Danny could be okay too. He thought of Jackson, smiling widely, ignorant about what really happened. Stiles doing that for him, even when he had no reason to. It was the pack, Danny realized. The pack made Stiles choose to lie, and if it could be strong enough to make Stiles do that, to try and make Jackson feel better, then Danny knew he could draw enough strength from the pack to be okay.

He stepped away from the door, and carefully walked back upstairs. He’d feel better wrapped up in Jackson and Lydia’s arms, maybe even with Allison and Scott on the bed as well. He had to believe that.

***

“Yes, mom. I remember I have a meeting with the school shrink,” Lydia rolled her eyes as she sat squished in the backseat of Stiles’ Jeep between Jackson and Danny. They had all spent the night at Stiles’ house, just like they had told their parents they would, but now they all had to go to school in Stiles’ Jeep, which would have been fine before Isaac joined them.

Not that Lydia blamed him. He had been suffering a pretty awful panic attack when Stiles came in with him, and he had looked vaguely terrified up until Danny had beckoned him over to the bed and offered him a seat. It had been almost cute the way it was obvious Isaac didn’t know how to react, and had physically needed a push to climb onto the bed with her, Danny, and Jackson. But once he was there he didn’t seem to want to leave, staring at Jackson with open admiration.

Lydia didn’t know what Stiles had said to Isaac, but when he thanked Jackson he didn’t mention that he was doing it for Jackson killing his abusive dad. So that was good. Lydia wasn’t sure how Jackson would have taken that news, and so she was glad Stiles had lied.

But that didn’t change the fact that now Stiles had to drive the four of them in his Jeep, and it had to be the four of them because her and Danny weren’t leaving Jackson’s side, and neither was Isaac, which would have been fine if Scott wasn’t insistent on staying with Allison in her car. And Stiles refused to let anyone drive his Jeep since they all kept stripping the gears. Which is how it ended up with her, Danny, and Jackson squished in the back of Stiles’ Jeep while Isaac sat in the front seat.

“Lydia!” Her mother snapped at her, and then she seemed to realize she was snapping and so she took a sweeter tone. “Lydia, we are both concerned for you. And since you insist on spending the nights with Allison the most you can do for us is visit the school counselor.”

“I know, mother. That’s why I’m going.”

“And you promise to actually try?”

Lydia sighed and leaned back into Jackson and Danny’s arms that were cradling her between the two of them. “Yes. 100% effort.” She didn’t mutter though there’s nothing to discuss.

That seemed to appease her mother though, and with a short “I love you” she hung up. Lydia tucked her phone into her purse and laid her head on Jackson’s shoulder. Isaac was glancing back at the three of them and Lydia gave him what she hoped was a sweet smile. She was forgetting how to give those the longer she stayed with the pack and let herself be more of her true self, none of the girl she used to pretend to be.

“The Sheriff said I have to meet with the counselor too,” Isaac said. “Part of not going to jail.” His eyes darted to Jackson, but Jackson wasn’t paying attention.

“Then you’ll take me. We’ll get it over with first thing and not have to go back.”

“I’m pretty sure I’ll be making multiple visits,” Isaac said. “While the investigation goes on.”

“We’ll get to tell them how we are a mix of teenage hormones and our brains are wired for self destruction and a lack of understanding consequences.” Lydia knew how these things were going to go. She may never have had to go to a counselor before, but it wasn’t that hard to figure it out. Isaac’s visits would be harder than hers, no doubt, since they were trying to make sure he wasn’t going to snap and kill anyone else.

Stiles pulled into a parking space, one that Allison parked next to after a moment. They all climbed out of the cars, and started to walk towards the school. The air felt different, almost oppressive, and it took Lydia a moment to realize that everyone was staring at them. At her. No one had probably heard about Isaac yet, that would come later this week no doubt, but today seemed to be her day.

Lydia squared her shoulders and grabbed hold of Isaac’s hand. The best thing about pack, her favourite thing, was that it made it impossible for her to care about what others were thinking. People could stare at them, but it didn’t matter because they weren’t pack.

Stiles and Allison were holding hands too, leading the line of them with Scott on the other side of Allison. Jackson and Danny took up the rear, arms thrown around each others’ shoulders. It gave Lydia strength, and when she and Isaac had to break away to go to the office while the others went to their first classes it wasn’t that hard.

It was a quick visit to the office, where the secretary stared at Isaac with wide eyes for a moment before stammering that they were both expected.

“Guess they heard,” Lydia muttered to Isaac as they waited for the secretary to gather her wits and the paperwork she probably had. Isaac didn’t say anything, but he squeezed her hand. “Stiles’ dad must have left earlier than I thought.”

“He came back,” Isaac said quietly. “But he left this morning, after checking in on us.”

Whatever Lydia planned on saying was interrupted by the secretary coming back and directing them to a side room where Ms. Morrell would meet them shortly.

“The French teacher is the counselor? Oh, great,” Lydia said as she sat down, still holding Isaac’s hand. Now that they were sitting she could see that he was blushing faintly, but he wasn’t pulling his hand away.

“How long before everyone knows, do you think?” he asked.

Lydia shrugged, squeezing his hand. “By the end of the week. But we’ll protect you from anything they say.”

“Just like we’re going to protect you,” Isaac said, his face earnest.

“Talk doesn’t matter to me,” Lydia said with a dismissive wave of her other hand.

Isaac looked at her with a faint smile. “Nothing they say will be true, so it’s okay in the end.”

“Exactly,” Lydia said, right as Ms. Morrell came into the office, eyes locking on her and then Isaac.

She gave them both a smile, one that didn’t quite reach her eyes. Lydia hadn’t taken French so she didn’t know Ms. Morrell that well, but something about her set her on edge. It must have done the same for Isaac because he was squeezing Lydia’s hand tighter. Ms. Morrell motioned for Isaac to follow her into the room off to the side, and Lydia let go of his hand finally, allowing him to leave. She kept her own smile on her face until the door shut and then she let it drop.

Now that she was alone she had no distraction from why she was here. She had tried to avoid thinking about the hospital and her freak out. She’d tried so hard to convince herself that it maybe it was just an unknown effect of the Bite, but she had known since she had woken up that the Bite didn’t take. Which meant that that night, the hallucination, it was all something else. She’d been through trauma, which is why she had hallucinated, no doubt. That’s why she had seen Peter even though she had only caught a glimpse of him before he had attacked her.

The eyes see more than the brain can process, she reminded herself. So it all made perfect sense to her. Everything could logically fit somewhere, but explaining it to anyone else would be tough. Which meant she had to come up with a good excuse.

Someone took a seat next to her, and while she gave a quick look around the room, noting other empty chairs further away, she elected to ignore the person. They obviously weren’t pack, since they didn’t wear any of the boy’s cologne, nor Allison’s perfume.

“Excuse me,” the boy sitting next to her said, and Lydia took a deep breath to steady herself before looking at him with a sickenly sweet smile.

He was maybe a year or two older than her, though Lydia didn’t recognize him. She supposed that was understandable; he wasn’t exceptionally attractive to her standards since she didn’t go for floppy haired and vacant eyes.

“Yes?”

“I was just wondering why you were here?”

“Oh, that’s polite,” Lydia said with a laugh. “Outside the guidance office, and you’re asking questions.”

“I thought my forwardness would be appreciated. Would you rather I make up answers? Like you’re here because you have delusions that people want to know everything about you when they’re just trying to be polite instead of sitting in an awkward silence.”

Lydia snorted, hoping it covered any sting she felt at being so presumptuous. But really, what was she supposed to think? It wasn’t delusional to think the entire school had heard about what happened at the hospital. “It’s better than being taken for a stalker, which is obviously what you’re here for. Need weekly reminders not to peek in girls’ bedrooms?”

She expected to see a flash of anger in the boy’s eyes, but all she got was faint amusement. “You think you’re so clever.”

“I know I am,” Lydia said, before pointedly turning to her purse and pulling out her makeup.

She didn’t feel or hear the kid leave, but when the door opened to let Isaac out she was alone again.

***

“This must be important if you’re buying me lunch the day after a full moon. In a graveyard.”

John didn’t dignify Chris’s comment with a response until after he had unwrapped his sandwich and taken a bite. They were in his squad car, parked on the side of one of the roads in the graveyard. John had to gather evidence from Lahey’s office after lunch. “I have a reason for the graveyard. Which I’ll get to.”

“Of course you will,” Chris said, taking out his own sandwich. “By the way, congratulations on controlling the pack yesterday. We didn’t hear a peep from them, and we were looking.”

John grimaced because he could hear the sincerity in Chris’ voice. “That’s what I want to talk to you about.”

Chris’ eyes darted to him. “Did something happen?”

“Roger Lahey was killed last night.” Chris’ sandwich dropped to his lap, but John continued on. “Officially his son, Isaac, killed him, but unofficially…”

“Derek let Lydia kill someone?”

“Not Lydia,” John said. “Jackson.”

Chris’ face was red with rage. “Jackson. If it’s found out that the pack was involved with this they are done.”

“It won’t be found out. Isaac was being abused, it wasn’t hard to shift the blame to him.”

“And how long will he keep up the lie? How water tight is this lie if you’re telling me about it?”

John put down his own sandwich, realizing that any hopes of finishing it were going to be lost. “Isaac is pack. Stiles was planning on him being Bitten. And I’m only telling you because I need your help.” He shifted around to pull out the paper he had found on his desk that morning. “Jackson only attacked because something went wrong with him; that’s what Stiles and Derek assure me. And what’s more, he only went to Isaac because he telepathically picked up on his distress.”

“Tell me why I should help you,” Chris said, but his eyes were glued on the paper in John’s hands.

“Chris, I just spent a night staging a murder scene. I am so far out of my fucking depth, the kids are out of their depth, someone needs to know what to do.” John unfolded the paper, showing Chris the drawing. “This is what Jackson looked like.”

Chris took the drawing out of his hands, spreading it out on the dashboard before he looked at it intently. “Who drew this?”

“Lydia, I’m guessing. I found it on my desk this morning. I doubt Stiles or Derek know I have it, but Lydia left it for me to give to you. I think she thought you might have some answers to this that they wouldn’t.”

Chris was tracing the outline of the lizard face staring back at him. “I might… Hunters keep records of the monsters they encounter in a book called a beastiary. They’r usually passed down through families. My father has the family one, dating back to the beginning.”

“You think there’s something in there?”

“Can’t hurt.” Chris folded the drawing back up and put it in his wallet. “You really think this Lahey murder is as open and shut as you think?”

“The only thing that might be suspicious to you hunters is that it happened on the full moon.”

“That and Isaac is pack. Talk is starting, about Stiles. No one thinks he’s Bitten yet. They do think Lydia is turned.”

“She’s not,” John said.

Chris opened his mouth, and then closed it. He took a deep breath and continued with his previous thought. “They are paying attention, though. They don’t know Derek lives with you, but if they find out he’s visiting Stiles it will cause problems. And if the Lahey boy gets involved it might come back to the murder.”

“Isaac is staying with me.” Before Chris could argue, and John could tell it was on the tip of his tongue to start, he continued. “I will do my best to make this case disappear. You just focus on getting me information about Jackson so I can give it to Derek and Stiles.”

“Fine.” Chris leaned back in his seat, and grabbed his sandwich. “Why can’t you ever just call me up for normal conversations?”

John snorted, but then he noticed that Chris seemed serious. He probably didn’t have anyone outside of the supernatural community that he spoke to with any regularity, just like John had no one outside of the police community. The closest he had was Melissa, who he saw sparingly. “Dodgers or Giants?”

“I don’t watch sports.”

John laughed. “Me neither.” He thought for a moment. “How’s Allison?”

“Don’t really know. She’s avoiding me.”

John winced, not realizing that could be a sore subject, but now that he thought about it, Allison spent a great deal of time at his house. With the pack. “She’s a lovely girl. Very polite.”

Chris snorted. “Wish I could say the same about Stiles.”

John shrugged. “He’s never been the easiest kid, but he’s mine. Werewolf and all.”

“You’re handling that really well. Most people wouldn’t know what to do.”

“My blood pressure is through the roof.” John laughed. “He’s my son, though. You do what you have to do for family.”

“Yes, you do.” They lapsed into an easier silence than John thought was possible as they finished their lunch.

***

Stiles waved goodbye to Lydia and Allison as they went down the hallway to watch lacrosse practice. He could have gone with them, since the rest of the pack was there, and the team was getting close to the playoffs, but since everyone else was at practice, it meant he could have alone time with Derek. And while he wouldn’t say they were lacking in that, if Isaac was going to live with him for the foreseeable future then that time might disappear.

Stiles had just sent a text to Derek telling him to get home so they could fuck (shame was not a thing he knew) as he came up to his Jeep when he smelled something off. His head shot up, and he looked around. It smelled like another wolf, which didn’t make any sense. He sniffed the air, stepping away from his Jeep and following the direction of the smell.

He scrunched up his nose as he got closer, spotting a homeless man hunched over the trash can near the school entrance. Stiles tilted his head, now confused, because something was off about the man, but he couldn’t tell what through the smell of woods, dirt, and grime on the man.

The homeless man looked up suddenly, and before Stiles could do anything the man had turned around and they had locked eyes. The man looked frightened, like he was about to bolt behind the garbage can, and Stiles took the last steps towards him, grabbing his arm before he could run.

Now that they were close Stiles could feel and smell it. This man was a werewolf. He extended his senses, trying to pinpoint any other werewolves, but he could only sense Derek, and that faint feeling of Jackson being close, but wrong.

When Stiles looked back at the homeless man he saw he was being stared at with wide eyes, like the man couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

“Come into my car,” Stiles said, trying not to think about what a bad idea this would be. Don’t talk to strangers had been beaten into his head as a child. But this was his and Derek’s territory, and before that it had been Hale land. He was safe.

The werewolf came with him, and Stiles was just glad that the parking lot was mostly empty or else he would be getting some weird looks, bundling a homeless man into his car and driving off. He pulled out his phone, where a text from Derek saying I’m ready when you are was waiting. Stiles winced, regretful at missing this opportunity, but some things were more important. He texted Derek back, Something came up, meet me at your place, ASAP.

“What’s your name?” Stiles asked, looking at the werewolf as he pulled onto the street.

“Richard. Richard Lutz.”

“I’m Stiles,” he said even though he wasn’t asked. “And where’s your pack, Richard Lutz?”

Richard was silent. “Gone,” he finally said.

Stiles didn’t know how to respond to that so he lapsed into silence until he was parked in the lot by Derek’s apartment. “Come on,” he said, climbing out of the Jeep.

Richard followed him, looking almost as scared as Stiles felt. Maybe he had gotten the Stranger Danger talk as well. Stiles used the spare key he had made to get into the apartment, glad that even though it smelled stale from weeks of non-use, that it was at least cleaned up.

“You can use the shower if you want,” Stiles said.

“Is your mate coming?” Stiles couldn’t stop the surprise from showing on his face, and Richard ducked his head. “You smell heavily of the Alpha. I actually thought you were the Alpha, until I got a look at you.”

“That’s why you were at the school?”

Richard nodded. “I was hoping the Alpha would accept me as a member of his pack. Since I don't have one.”

Stiles blinked, surprised. He hadn’t read anything about this sort of thing happening, but maybe it shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise. “We’ll talk about it when Derek gets here. The offer to shower is still there. There should be a towel in the linen closet.”

“Thanks,” Richard said, though he was looking at his clothes, still covered with grime.

“And I’ll grab you a change of clothes, and put them outside the bathroom.”

Richard smiled at that. “Thank you,” he paused.

“Don’t thank me; this is purely selfish. No offense, but you smell pretty awful.”

He wasn’t sure if he had offended Richard, who just shook his head and went into the bathroom after grabbing the towel out of the linen closet.

Once Richard was in the shower, Stiles looked at his phone. Derek hadn’t responded to his text, but he could sense him getting closer, more than likely running. Stiles spent the rest of the time waiting for Derek to show up going through the few pairs of clothes he had left at the apartment, leaving them by the bathroom.

Stiles was leaning against the kitchen counter when Derek finally showed up, banging open the door, and then slamming it shut.

“Stiles, what the fuck?” Derek was practically snarling, and it hit Stiles that he probably smelled the other werewolf, but didn’t know anything else.

“Derek, calm down,” he said, coming out to see Derek. “Let me explain.”

Derek’s eyes flashed red as he seemed to register the shower still going, but he looked back at Stiles. “Explain?”

“I found an Omega.”

“An Omega?”

“Yes. He was lurking around the school because he smelled me. He thought I was the Alpha, but when he saw me he realized I was just your mate. I brought him here because I thought we could add him to the pack.”

“Add him to the pack? What are you crazy?” Derek hissed, as if the other werewolf wouldn’t hear them. “Stiles, if he’s an Omega- werewolves go crazy if they don’t have a pack.”

“He didn’t seem crazy. But listen, he’s already a werewolf. We won’t have to worry about the whole Bite issue, and more potential fuck ups like with Jackson.”

Derek looked back at the bathroom door where the water had stopped running. He seemed to notice the pile of clothes sitting on the floor, and he turned back to Stiles. “Are those my clothes?”

“Your spares, since you moved everything you actually like to my house.” Stiles poked Derek’s chest. “He was homeless and smelled like ass, okay, I was doing you a favour letting him shower and change clothes.” Derek did not seem impressed. “Just talk to him? Please? He might be useful.”

That pleading seemed to get through to him, and Derek squared his shoulders as the bathroom door opened, revealing a clean werewolf with a towel wrapped around his waist. He looked up from where he was about to hunch over to get the clothes, sensing Derek no doubt. His eyes went wide, and he broke eye contact.

Stiles rolled his eyes. “Derek, this is Richard. Richard, Derek. Are you gonna let him change, Derek? Or are you going to make him talk naked?”

Derek suppressed a growl. “He can change.” Derek stalked over to the couch, sitting down.

The bathroom door shut again, and Stiles turned to Derek, crossing his arms over his chest. “What do you have against this?”

“Did you miss the day they did Stranger Danger at school?” Derek asked.

“Hey! With my dad every day was Stranger Danger, okay. And so yes, I did deal with that. And I assessed the situation and decided he wasn’t dangerous. He could be useful,” Stiles said, dropping down into the seat next to Derek.

It made him feel better that even though Derek was obviously annoyed he still wrapped an arm around Stiles’ shoulder, tucking Stiles’ head into the dip of his collarbone. The bathroom door opened and Richard stepped out, dressed in a pair of Derek’s jeans and one of his t-shirts. He wasn’t as tall as Derek, and he was thinner, so the pants didn’t fit quite right, but they worked for their purpose.

Stiles kept his head nestled against Derek’s neck as Richard came into the living room, looking around before finally settling on standing awkwardly by the kitchen.

Derek sighed, and stood up, gently pushing Stiles’ shoulder so he knew to stay on the couch. Derek went over to Richard, hand raised. “I’m Derek Hale, and you are?”

“Richard Lutz. I’ve heard of the Hale family. I didn’t realize there were any of you left.”

“Just me,” Derek said. “Why are you here?”

“Two weeks ago I got the sense of a new Alpha in the area. You, I’m guessing. I was up north in Washington, so it took me awhile to find you, but I finally made it.”

“You know there are hunters in the area, right?” Derek asked.

Richard looked down. “Yes. I spent most of yesterday chasing them off my tail.”

That surprised Stiles. He hadn’t known that, but it fed into why Richard would be useful. The hunters already knew there was another werewolf in the area. He stayed quiet though, letting Derek do his big Alpha shtick.

“And you still stuck around?”

“I want a pack.” Richard finally looked Derek in the eye. “And if you’ll have me as a beta I promise you won’t regret it.”

Derek looked back at Stiles, and while Stiles didn’t claim to have telepathic powers, he really wished he did because he was sending Derek a constant stream of do it do it do it.

Derek turned back around, leveling Richard with a look. “There are ground rules.” Stiles restrained himself from pumping his fist in the air. “Most importantly, the hunters don’t know about Stiles. They think I’m a lone Alpha. They can’t find out about Stiles, or else we will have issues starting from the fact that he’s my mate, and ending with the fact that he’s the town sheriff’s son.” Richard nodded, his eyes bright. Stiles could almost smell the change in his demeanor, and it made him smile as well. “Second, we stay unnoticed. I’m not sure what your pack was like, but ours is quiet, and unobtrusive. For the most part.”

“Understood,” Richard said. “Anything for the pack.” He seemed to hesitate, waiting to see if Derek had any other things to say.

“You can stay here. This is my apartment, though I don’t use it that much anymore. I’ll get you a spare key. Any questions?”

“Is it just us?” Richard asked, finally getting his question out.

Stiles looked at Derek, wondering what his answer would be.

“It’s just us. I’ve been trying to recruit, but it’s slow going.”

Richard nodded again, a smile breaking across his face. It lit his whole face up, changing it from crazed man to some sense of normalcy. “Anything I can do to help, just let me know.”

Stiles stood up, going to Derek’s side. They finally had a second beta, a true beta, not the mess that was Jackson. Their pack was coming together.

***

The hardest part was keeping Richard from finding out about the rest of the pack. It wasn’t that Derek didn’t trust him (though he didn’t), because he also didn’t tell the rest of the pack about Richard. But he didn’t want to expose that many humans to a new werewolf. The Hale pack had been a mix of humans and werewolves, but not all packs were, and he didn’t know where on the scale Richard’s pack fell.

Derek didn’t want to ask straight out because it was obvious that Richard’s pack had been slaughtered, and Derek knew how deeply that cut. It was a miracle that Richard wasn’t completely crazy. And he wasn’t, Derek knew that. He was sharp, reading through the books that Derek brought him, and adding his own input.

Derek was tempted to tap him for knowledge about what could be wrong with Jackson, but he could wait. He couldn’t reveal everything yet, not until he knew more about Richard, and how he could use him to further protect the pack. As of now all he knew was that he was thirty, was a born werewolf from a pack that had settled in Alaska, and his pack had been killed three years ago. He was educated up to high school level at least, and Derek had inferred that Richard’s pack had worked as mostly a commune, making their own rules away from civilization.

He got edgy being in the city all the time, and even a town like Beacon Hills made him feel caged in. He went running in the woods in the morning, and Derek took to going with him by the middle of the week, while Stiles was at school.

Derek was pretty sure that these morning runs were where he would be able to glean most of his information from Richard, which is why it only took him by minor surprise when Richard slowed down in the middle of their run on Friday and asked, “Can I ask a question?”

“Sure,” Derek said.

“Are the three of us really the only werewolves in this area? Cause when I was at the school earlier I saw a boy, a jock type, with brownish-blond hair, and he felt like us.”

Derek stopped entirely. “Why were you at the school?”

Richard stopped as well, looking surprised. “For Stiles, of course. He’s your mate. I want to make sure he’s okay. I stayed downwind from Stiles, so he probably can’t tell I’m there.”

Derek was a mix of emotions, but the warmth from knowing that Richard cared enough to watch out for Stiles won out. “Alright, so you saw someone?”

“Yeah. He hangs out with Stiles. And he’s not human, that much is obvious.” Richard gave him a look. “I know Stiles has a group of humans he runs with. I was just wondering if there was another beta. You said the hunters don’t know about Stiles, and you don’t want them to, and I understand. He’s underage, a kid, really, even though he’s your mate. But if the rest of your betas were teenagers as well, I could see why you would be so protective.”

Derek weighed the various ways he could handle this, before he simply went for hesitant honesty. “I am protective, because my pack is young, and naïve. Stiles is the most mature, and that’s not just by virtue of being a werewolf. So I’m careful about who I introduce to my pack.”

“You don’t trust me,” Richard said.

“No. I don’t. One day I might, and I want to. I didn’t say you could be a beta just to take that away, but our pack is young, and we’ve been through a lot. I need to protect them.”

“They’re human,” Richard said. Derek let his silence answer for him. “You weren’t sure what I thought about humans.” The silence stretched out between them. Richard took a deep breath. “My pack was entirely werewolves. We turned anyone if they wanted to join, and any kids who weren’t Born were Bitten when they came of age. But that was just us. It wasn’t that we hated humans, it just... didn’t suit us. We knew packs that had humans, and I can cohabit with humans.”

“What happened to your pack?”

Richard’s face filled with pain, and it took him a few minutes before he finally answered. “The Alpha Pack.”

That got Derek’s attention. He hadn’t been able to think much about the Alpha Pack, not with Lydia, and Jackson and the hunters. “I thought the Alpha Pack just judged your pack, the strength of it. Made sure you were a good Alpha.”

Richard shook his head. “They do, but it’s not for your pack. They judge you to see if you belong in their pack. And if they decide you do, they have you kill your own pack. And that’s not all.” Derek looked up, because so far it didn’t sound so bad. He wasn’t going to join their pack. He wasn’t going to kill Stiles, or any of their betas. Richard included. “If they think a beta might make a good alpha - they have them fight you.”

“Is that what happened to your pack?”

“Lexy, she. She was my cousin. We were a small pack, just a family you know. But we had a huge territory. They came a few years ago, after my aunt inherited the powers from my grandmother. My aunt was a good Alpha. Strong. No-nonsense. She laughed at the Alphas, and they were going to leave us alone, but one of them saw something in Lexy. I don’t know what they told her, but the next night she was killing everyone in their sleep. Poisoned us.”

“You escaped.”

“I had a stomachache so I didn’t eat much that night. And it might not look it, but I used to be strong. Strongest in the pack. So I survived.”

“And your cousin? She became the Alpha?”

“She did. But I guess - I ran when I realized what was happening, and she left me. When I came back to bury everyone she was dead, too. I guess the Alphas realized she’d let me go, so they killed her.” Richard looked at him. “Derek, pack is everything to me.”

Derek looked at him. He could feel the truth resonating from Richard, how much pack really did mean to him, how much this pack meant to him, and that gave him an idea. “Alright.” He took a breath. “The other kid, the other beta. I gave him the bite but it went wrong. Have you heard of anything like that?”

Richard shook his head. “I mean, sometimes with the kids it wouldn’t take and they would succumb to fever, and that was wrong. But this boy smells like pack.”

“I know. I’m trying to research what’s wrong with him. Would you be willing to help?”

“Of course, Derek.”

Derek nodded towards the path that led into town. “I need to grab a few books from Stiles’ house, but I’ll meet you back at my place.” He took off towards Stiles’ house before Richard could say anything.

***

“Allison, can you get your grandfather for dinner?” Allison’s mom asked from where she was finishing up dinner.

Allison looked up from homework, working on it in the kitchen because her dad had said she couldn’t hide away in her room all the time. Not when she wasn’t home that much anyway. Allison couldn’t stay at the house though, not with Gerard there.

Gerard creeped her out. It wasn’t just the knowledge that he was a hunter either, because Allison had been able to tolerate Kate even after she knew about hunters and had watched her torture Derek. But Gerard was darker. He was twisted, and it set all of her instincts on edge. She knew that if he sensed even a moment of weakness from her he would pounce, and she had too much to lose to let that happen.

The pack couldn’t go through much more trauma. They needed stability, and quickly. Allison was almost tempted to offer herself up as a beta if they couldn’t agree on someone soon, just so they could buy themselves time. The entire mess with Jackson and Isaac was so unexpected and it had set them back. If it had worked they would have their three betas and they could go about rebuilding.

“Allison,” her mom said, this time her voice sharper.

Allison snapped her head to the side to look at her. “Sorry. Big test coming up.” She smiled, standing up. “You wanted grandpa?” She hoped she hadn’t tripped too much over calling him that.

“Yes. Dinner’s almost ready.”

Allison nodded, and headed down to Gerard’s room - Kate’s old room. She trod carefully, mostly out of habit, but she couldn’t lie to herself. She was hoping she could gain an advantage over Gerard, hear some sort of plan that she could pass on to Derek and Stiles.

She wasn’t disappointed when she heard Gerard’s voice coming from behind the closed door. Allison froze and focused, cupping her hand around her ear to try and catch as much as she could.

“The beta. Yes, of course. We knew this would happen.”

Allison clenched her fist. Stiles. He’d been found out.

“Tonight? I suppose we could go hunting. They won’t be expecting it, since it’s not the full moon.” He sounded so blasé about it, like he wasn’t making plans to kill a teenager. “That will make it easier to kill him, don’t you think?”

Allison took her steps backwards carefully, not wanting to alert Gerard that she had been outside. She ran up to her room the moment she was in the clear, shutting the door as she went to her closet, unearthing her kit. She wasn’t dressed for a jaunt in the woods but she didn’t have time. She looked at her phone, and sent a quick text to Stiles, the emergency phrase they had chosen for Gerard-related issues.

“I broke up with Scott.”

Allison was just slinging her bag over her shoulder when her door opened. She whipped around, breathing heavy.

“Where are you headed to?” Her dad asked.

Allison stood firm. “Group meeting.”

He narrowed his eyes, shutting the door behind him as he came into the room. “Allison, it’s Friday.”

She didn’t know if she could trust him and that was truthfully the worst feeling ever. She wanted to tell him, to ask him to make Gerard stop. Leave her and her pack alone, but he wouldn’t do that. So she couldn’t ask that of him. “Stiles found something, and he’s dying to show it to me. The rest of them, they’re already there.”

“Allison. Don’t lie to me.”

She pursed her lips. “It’s pack business.”

“Does it have to deal with Jackson?”

“How do you know about-” Allison cut herself off. “Stiles’ dad.”

“The Sheriff, yes. He’s keeping me informed about everything that he feels I need to know. To keep you safe.”

This Allison could work with. She nodded her head. “Yes. Stiles got a lead on what could be wrong with Jackson.” They actually had no lead. All the books they had access to were useless. They were going to need a new avenue soon.

Her dad nodded, and he patted her shoulder, awkward. “Can it wait until after dinner?”

“No. I’ll - I told mom I have a big test coming up. Tell her I went over to Lydia’s.”

Her dad shook his head, but then stopped himself. “Scott’s house. He’s safer.”

“Okay.” Allison gave him a faint smile and then headed to the window, waving before she climbed out, flipping down to the grass. She heard her dad shut the window behind her.

 

The Sheriff opened the door to the Stilinski house, and a look of confusion crossed his face at seeing Allison. “Can I help you?”

“I need to talk to Stiles and Derek,” she said, realizing how it must look with her bow strapped to her back.

“Neither of them are home,” Stiles’ dad said, crossing his arms over his chest. Behind him, she could see Isaac getting up from the couch, giving her a faint smile when he saw her.

Allison’s smile dropped and she went for her phone. Stiles hadn’t responded yet, which was terrifying. Was he running around? Derek and him didn’t get to do that much anymore, and they must have thought it would be safe.

“Do you know where they are?”

Stiles’ dad suddenly looked concerned. “Has something happened?”

“No! Well, not yet.” She shifted. “I just have news to tell him about,” she paused. “Gerard. Wanted to warn them.”

Stiles’ dad’s face went carefully blank as he nodded. “I think they’re at Derek’s apartment. Researching.”

That made Allison relax minutely. They weren’t running through the woods. They were safe, and somewhere she could easily reach. She was just about to say goodbye when Isaac came to the door, jacket in his hand. “I’m coming with you.”

Stiles’ dad didn’t look impressed. “Don’t you have homework to finish?”

Isaac shrugged sheepishly, with only a hint of a flinch. “I’ll finish it when I get back?”

Stiles’ dad sighed. “Get Stiles or Lydia to help you. DCF is going to want to look at your grades and if they’re slipping I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep you out of the system.”

“Yes, sir,” Isaac said, ducking his head.

“And take Stiles’ car.” Allison paused when he said that. “You obviously didn’t drive here, and Derek’s apartment is on the other side of town.” He rattled off the address as he handed Allison a set of keys to Stiles’ Jeep from the hook by the door.

“I know how to get there,” Isaac said as he followed Allison out to the Jeep.

She really hated that she was getting so used to driving Stiles’ shitty Jeep that she didn’t even flinch when she shifted it into drive.

“So what’s wrong?” Isaac asked once they were on the road.

“My grandfather knows about Stiles.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah. Send the emergency text to the rest of the pack, but tell them to hang back.”

Isaac nodded, pulling out his phone. “That’s uh, ‘Allison broke up with Scott,’ and ‘Stiles is handling it,’ right?”

“Exactly.”

“And what do I send to Scott?” Isaac asked. “Since it would be weird to send him that text.”

“You just text him to tell him we are through and I’m dating Stiles now,” Allison said, turning onto the main road that connected over to Derek’s street.

Isaac was laughing as he sent the texts. “Are you sure that Scott will understand?”

Allison shot him a look. “Scott’s the one who came up with the codes, remember?”

“Yeah, but still. Instinct when you get a text like that.” Isaac’s phone beeped and he let out a laugh. “Or not,” he shook his head. “Scott says okay, keep him posted.”

Allison laughed as another beep went off, and Isaac starting reciting what he was receiving.

“He says ‘shit. I mean that’s awful and I’m going to go cry into a pint of ice cream.’”

Allison laughed the rest of the way to Derek’s apartment, and even after she parked she needed a moment to get the laughter out of her system. It was a good thing too, because as she looked up she spotted Jackson’s jaguar pulling up alongside her, Danny looking at her from the passenger’s seat.

Allison threw open the door to the Jeep. “What the hell are you two doing here?”

“We were coming back from dinner when we got your text and decided to give you back up,” Danny said, not sounding the least bit guilty as he climbed out of the car.

“We didn’t need back up!”

“Emergency text means emergency,” Jackson said, moving at a much more sedate pace than the rest of them.

Allison gave him a glance over, because something was off. They were both dressed in lacrosse gear, not something they would be wearing if they were going out to dinner. But she didn’t have the time to focus on that. Not when she had to tell Stiles and Derek about Gerard.

“Okay, fine. Nothing exciting is going to happen though.” Allison led the way towards Derek’s apartment. She had never been here before, so it took her a moment to get her bearings.

She didn’t have to look too hard, because once she got to a hallway a door opened, and Stiles stuck his head out. At least they weren't banging.

“What the hell are you guys doing here?” Stiles asked, body blocking the door as the four of them jogged up to him.

“Check your texts and you would know,” Allison snapped, trying to push her way inside. “Scott and I broke up, now let me in.”

Stiles face contorted. “Why the hell did you two break up? Do I need to punch him in the face?”

Danny sighed beside Allison and pushed at the door. “Let us in. There’s an emergency with the hunters so we don’t care if you’re mid-coitus or not. We’ve already seen Derek naked anyway.”

Stiles was suddenly full attention, stepping back, but then blocking the door. “Guys, I’ll meet you outside.”

“Not safe,” Allison said firmly. “They’re looking for you.”

Derek was at the door instantly, pulling Stiles away. “Let them in,” he said. “This is important.”

Allison’s thanks died at her lips as she stepped into the apartment and her eyes fell on the older man sitting in the middle of a mess of books. “What the hell?”

The man, no, werewolf, had to be a werewolf, raised his hand in a tentative wave, eyes darting to Derek as if asking permission. “Hi?”

“Derek?” Allison asked, turning to glare at him. “Did you guys find another beta and not tell us? I can’t believe you, Derek.”

“If it makes you feel better he didn’t tell me about you guys until yesterday,” the werewolf said quietly. It did not make Allison feel better, and she focused her glare fully on Derek.

“This is Richard. Richard, this is part of the pack. Who are here on important business so I’d like to get on that.”

Allison nodded jerkily, trying to get her mind focused. She could deal with Derek having a new beta later. There was probably a good reason for it. Danny had moved into the room, picking up one of the books alongside Jackson while Isaac stood by Stiles and the door.

“Right. I heard Gerard say they knew about the other beta, and they were going hunting. I thought they meant Stiles, since I didn’t know you had a new beta, so fuck if I know now. They could have meant you,” Allison said, pointing at Richard.

Richard and Derek shared a look, and then Richard was standing up. “I’ll get ready.” He moved towards the bedroom as Derek looked at the four of them.

“You guys need to leave. We’ll handle this. We have a plan.”

“We do?” Stiles asked. “I wasn’t aware of anything.”

Allison saw the way Derek’s face pinched for a moment before relaxing. “You’re leaving with them.” Stiles balked and Derek stopped any protests with a kiss. “Don’t argue. We are doing what we have to to protect the pack.”

Stiles let out a sigh, and then his head shot up, both Derek and him looking towards the bedroom. Allison hadn’t heard anything but she reached for bow, putting herself between the bedroom and Danny and Jackson. She checked to make sure Isaac was safely behind Derek and Stiles.

Something went off and smoke started to creep out of the bedroom.

Derek’s eyes flashed red and he quickly moved to herd the five of them together. It moved so quickly Allison barely registered Richard coming out of the bedroom coughing.

“Hunters. Outside,” Richard said, grabbing three books and shoving them in a bag. He shoved it into Jackson’s hands. “We are going to have a nice long chat when this is over,” he said, looking Jackson in the eye, who just blinked.

Allison didn’t understand what was going on either, but then she heard the window in the front room open.

“Take the rest of the pack and get out of here,” Derek whispered, urging them to the door.

Another smoke bomb came sailing in through the opened window, soundless until it opened up. Allison gagged as she tried to breathe. She couldn’t see anything through the burn of the smoke.

“What about you?” Stiles was whispering.

“Go!” Derek shouted

Allison felt arms wrap around her, and it took her a moment to realize she was being wrapped up in Stiles’ arms, and then bundled up with Jackson, Danny, and Isaac and led towards the door, a jacket thrown over their heads. No one was in the hallway; the hunters probably didn’t want to draw too much attention to themselves just yet, but Stiles led them down the opposite way.

“The woods,” Danny said once they were outside.

“Stick together,” Jackson said, arm around Isaac’s shoulder, “or do we break up?”

“Together,” Stiles said, grabbing the jacket from Allison. “Be quiet though.”

Allison pulled out her bow after trading a look with Stiles, and she took up the rear of their group as they headed away from the apartment.

***

This was bad. So bad. Stiles could hear the hunters in the woods, and he could sense Derek and Richard running right around them. They apparently had a plan, but it felt like a stupid plan, and Stiles was itching to run towards them. That was his place. Richard should have been the one protecting the humans. Stiles should have been beside Derek. But no, the two of them had decided that wasn’t how it was anymore.

Stiles knew logically that there was a reason for this. His safety first and foremost. If there was even a chance of the hunters not knowing about him yet Derek would take it. The pack’s safety was second, and Derek may like Richard, but he couldn’t trust him with the rest of the pack yet. But it still stung, and Stiles still really, really wanted to run to them and be beside the two of them while they were facing hunters.

The only thing keeping him focused was the knowledge that Derek wouldn’t engage. He wouldn’t intentionally put himself in harm’s way. He was just trying to give the hunters something to focus on, to make them think they understood the pack.

The group of them traveled through the woods, Stiles’ sense of direction having them head towards his house where he knew they would be safe. Jackson, Danny, and Isaac were between him and Allison. Stiles was vaguely aware that Isaac and Jackson had their arms thrown over each others shoulders, and he wondered if that had to do with what Jackson was.

They hadn’t gotten far in their research; that was what this weekend was supposed to be about. Research, research, research until they had something concrete they could work with.

A howl cut through the woods, and Stiles froze. He didn’t recognize the howl; it wasn’t Derek. Could it be Richard? They hadn’t gone running together yet.

Another howl came, from a different direction, and Stiles’ head whipped towards it.

“Shit,” Allison whispered, spinning around, arrow ready.

“Stiles,” Danny said, coming up, touching him on the shoulder. “Stiles, we need to get out of the woods.”

“But-?”

There was another howl; it was like there was a whole pack of werewolves in the woods. Was that possible?

“It’s hunters, Stiles,” Allison said sharply. “I think they use the howls to disorient werewolves.” Her eyes were darting around the woods. “Jackson! Do you sense anything?”

Stiles narrowed his eyes. Jackson wouldn’t know anything.

“I- I can’t tell. I don’t work like that.”

“Well, you’re all we have right now. Stiles’ senses are going to be thrown off by it. Can you try? Hear anything?”

“It’s just like we’ve been working on,” Danny said quietly. “Close your eyes and focus, Jackson. Listen for engines, shouting, something to help us.”

Another chorus of howls came, and it felt like a punch to the gut. A pack was here. Stiles wanted to cover his ears but he knew it wouldn’t do any good. He shut his eyes anyway.

“I- it sounds. There’s talking,” Jackson finally whispered. Stiles opened his eye a crack to see Jackson standing next to Isaac, holding his hand with his eyes shut. His face was beginning to gain a faint pattern but Stiles kept silent. “They’ve spotted Derek and the other beta. They’re chasing them on bikes. The other beta is starting to fall for the howls. He’s slowing down.”

“Where are they?” Stiles snapped.

Jackson didn’t answer, but then slowly he pointed to his left. “That way.” His eyes opened, but the pattern stayed on his face. His eyes were reptilian, and it took a few blinks for it to disappear.

“Okay.” Stiles turned, intent on running that way.

“No!” Danny said, grabbing him by the shoulder. He wasn’t strong enough to hold Stiles in place, but that didn’t stop him from trying. “Derek doesn’t want you to go.”

“If Richard goes down Derek will have no one,” Stiles said, pulling away. “And he definitely won’t have a plan for that.”

Danny reached for him again just as Jackson’s head snapped up.

“They’re headed this way.”

Stiles let out a snarl, and he felt himself shift. “Good.”

“Fucking hell,” Danny muttered before he took a swing at Stiles.

It connected. It didn’t hurt, but it was enough to make Stiles pause.

“What?” He heard bike engines, and he quickly realized they were in the woods unguarded, and if he gave himself away he put the four of them in danger. “Shit. Hide.”

Danny threw his hands up in the air. “Finally, sense!” He ushered them towards a big tree, one with notches in the base where they could hide.

Allison situated herself in a sniper’s pose, waiting for danger so she could take it out. Isaac was seated next to Stiles and he was shaking. Stiles reached over, patted his knee, and he was only partially surprised when Isaac gripped his hand in a death grip.

They stayed still as the sound of engines came closer and the howls had died down so Stiles could actually focus. Derek wasn’t nearby, but he could smell Richard. Richard was who the hunters had in their sights.

Richard was the one who burst through the trees to end up directly on the other side of the tree they were hiding in, just as the crack of a gunshot echoed in the night.

Blood tinged the air and suddenly Stiles couldn’t breathe.

He didn’t even know he had made a sound until suddenly Danny and Isaac’s hands were on his mouth, and all three boys were leaning on him, trying to hold him still.

“Don’t. Move.” Danny whispered.

Richard could still move. Stiles could hear that much. He didn’t dare look though.

Not when he heard the engines come right up to them. Not when Richard snarled.

There were hunters on all sides, Stiles realized, and they were so lucky to not be seen.

Another gun shot sounded. There was more blood, and Richard let out a cry.

“What do we have here?” A voice cut through the air, and Stiles was only able to place it because Allison tensed up, but she didn’t move. She was still ready to fire her arrow if they were discovered.

Richard snarled.

“He’s feral,” Gerard said, sounding amused. “It’ll be a pleasure to put him out of his misery.”

Stiles tried to fight against Danny, Isaac, and Jackson, but Jackson was strong. Werewolf strong almost, and he was doing a good job of keeping Stiles pinned.

Gerard monologued, and Stiles didn’t pay attention. He couldn’t, not until he heard Richard finally talk.

“Alpha! Derek, please!”

That got a laugh out of the hunters, right as Derek dropped down next to them, his body trying to cover all five of them.

Stiles locked eyes with Derek, begging him to do something, but Derek just shook his head.

“Derek! Derek, please! You promised! You promised you fucking coward-

Blood tainted the air as Richard was cut off. Stiles heard the knife? the sword? he didn’t know. He heard it, though. He heard Richard get sliced open and it took all of his willpower not to lean over and not vomit. As it was he was crying. He was sobbing, and it was only the fact that Danny and Isaac hadn’t taken their hands off of his mouth that was able to not draw attention to them.

“One more of your Betas dead, Derek!” Gerard called. “Keep turning them, and they’ll keep dying. Best if you just turn yourself in to us, so we can take of you.”

Stiles shut his eyes, because he couldn’t look at Derek. He couldn’t look at anyone. Not with how half of his insides felt ripped out.

 

They made it out of the woods, somehow, and ended up at Lydia’s house. Her parents were home, but it was a huge house, and they didn’t notice the six of them coming in. Scott was already there, and he took one look at Stiles and immediately hugged him, before looking everyone else over.

Stiles sat numbly in Lydia’s computer chair. He felt so empty. He wondered if this was how Derek had felt after Laura had been killed. No, it had to have been worse, because Derek was completely alone after that. Until him, that is.

“You had another beta stashed away?” Lydia asked after she had handed out mugs of tea and hot chocolate to the group.

Derek grunted. “He was an Omega.”

“He was pack,” Stiles said, looking at his fingers. “We should have done something.”

“There was nothing to be done,” Lydia said with a wave of her hand, but she hadn’t known Richard. She hadn’t been there.

“We could have saved him,” Stiles said.

Derek shifted next to him, and Stiles didn’t want him that close. But at the same time he did because Derek was the Alpha, and Derek was pack and he needed his pack right now after they had lost one of their own.

“No,” Derek said. “Not without endangering everything.”

Stiles looked at him shrewdly. “What do you mean?”

Derek shrugged. “The hunters think they’ve killed my only beta. They think they’ve weakened me. That I’m a coward of an alpha who can’t protect my pack when that’s the last thing that’s true.”

“So what,” Stiles said, pieces slowly falling into place, and those pieces made him sick. “So you just sacrificed someone?”

“One for the many,” Lydia said, crossing her arms. Of course she was the one to speak up. Stiles looked at her. “It’s not a new concept. And if the alternative was you, and then us, I don’t blame Derek.” She looked Derek in the eye. “The other beta knew this, didn’t he?”

Stiles’ head snapped back to Derek, who nodded. “He was aware of his position in the pack, once he knew about the rest of you.”

“Wait, wait,” Stiles said, leaning forward. His stomach was rolling. “You all actually agree with Derek’s decision?” He looked at the pack, and yeah - they all looked haunted, even Scott who hadn’t even been there when Richard had been killed, but he could see it in the way they sat. Better an unknown than one of them.

“I don’t understand why it’s bothering you so much, Stiles,” Lydia said with a wave of her hand. “Wasn’t one of the requirements that the betas be disposable?”

“For accidents. Not to be… pawns. We are supposed to protect the pack, Derek!”

“And we did,” he said, voice steady. He kneeled in front of Stiles, cupping his cheek. “I know what you’re going through. You feel empty, right? The others, they don’t feel the pack bond like you and I do. But you need to fight past that. You need to look at what we achieved from this.”

Stiles shook his head. “He was pack.”

“Yes. But he knew what he was doing. What he screamed before they killed him. We had practiced those words. It was part of our plan.”

How can I trust you? flashed in Stiles mind, but he squashed it. He still felt wrung out, empty, and almost abandoned. He tilted his head towards Derek’s palm, inhaling his scent. “I feel so alone.”

“You’re not alone, though,” Scott said, standing up and coming over to Stiles. “We’re not werewolves, but we’re your pack.” He hesitated for a moment before he reached for Stiles, pulling him into a hug.

Stiles accepted the hug. He breathed in Scott’s scent, and quickly felt the others come over to him, dragging him to Lydia’s bed. Danny, and then Allison, Lydia, Isaac, even Jackson. He couldn’t stop himself from crying, even as he felt himself surrounded by the feeling of pack.

His mind went over everything again, but it didn’t make it better. It didn’t make losing someone easier. He thought he could handle this. He hadn’t been too affected by killing Kate. He hadn’t been affected by Peter’s death. He thought he had this under control.

He guessed he still had work to do.

“Don’t worry,” Lydia said as she ran her fingers through his hair. “First thing Monday we’ll get a new beta, and we’ll get the pack set straight.”

Stiles nodded, still sniffling.

He fell asleep like that.