Title: Your Heart in My Hands
Author: Audrey Trevors
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Genre: Drama, Family, Kid!fic, Shifters
Relationship(s): Noah Stilinski/Peter Hale
Content Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Hate Crimes/Hate Speech, Violence – Domestic and/or Against Children, Discussion-Sexual Abuse (Kate Argent & Derek Hale), Discussion-Murder, Explicit Sex, Hate Crimes & Hate Speech (Against Werewolves), Kidnapping, Violence-Canon-Level, Death-Minor Character
Author Notes: This is my first completed story of this length. A huge thank you to the mods who made this whole process easy and fun. An extra huge thank you to my artist, DarkJediQueen who made a wonderful banner and cast collage. She really captured the characterization I was going for.
Word Count: 54,025
Summary: Noah Stilinski moved back to Beacon Hills with his son when his wife died, hoping to find the support he’d had growing up. He had not expected to be drawn out to the home of his ex-boyfriend from high school or get embroiled in the same supernatural happenings that had made him leave all those years ago.
One Week Later
The investigation was moving along slowly, and everyone was on edge. Noah could practically see the egg shells everyone was trying to avoid. It didn’t help that Stiles’ magic continued to flare unexpectedly. Between bubbles, music, and things disappearing and reappearing unexpectedly Noah was on his very last nerve.
It had gotten bade enough he’d reached out to Oliver Bryant despite his role on the Council and in the investigation. The man knew more about magic that Noah did, and what’s more, Peter seemed to trust him, even though he seemed less sure of the others who were investigating the Hales.
“I’m flattered that you’re asking me for help,” Oliver said over the phone, “but that would be a conflict of interest. And I’m not going to cross that line.”
“Do you know someone who would be able to teach Stiles? Without crossing a line,” Noah asked.
“I’m surprised you’re asking,” Oliver said, and for a moment Noah wished he was a werewolf because he was sure Peter would have gotten more from Oliver than just confusion at his tone of voice.
“Why is that?”
“I would have assumed you would ask Alan Deaton. He is connected to your pack.”
“Yes, well. There were some concerns raised, and I thought a second opinion might be a good idea. Unless you’re recommending Deaton,” Noah tried to keep his voice steady. It almost felt like a test, although he wasn’t sure who was being tested. Oliver or him. Oliver had been the one to warn him off Deaton after all. He wasn’t sure why he was now surprised Noah was trying to take his advice.
“While Deaton certainly knows what he’s talking about, I have a feeling Stiles might be a bit…too much for him,” the amusement was heavy in Oliver’s voice. “Another teacher with more unconventional teaching methods might be better for Stiles.”
“Do you have someone in mind?”
“Alexandreina Stanasila. She’s a magic user from Romania, and she’s who I would recommend,” Oliver’s voice was firm and certain, even over the phone. “She’s young, and she has a background in education. Before she inherited her magic she wanted to be a teacher.”
“Then she’d probably be perfect,” Noah admitted, “do you have a way I could get a hold of her?”
“Let me call her. Magic users tend to be…high strung when it comes to people they don’t know,” Oliver paused. “The witch burnings weren’t all that long ago after all.”
“Great,” Noah wasn’t sure what else to say to that. “Let me know if I need to keep looking.”
As luck would have it, he didn’t. Alexandreina arrived within the week, and Noah couldn’t have imagined a more perfect fit to work with Stiles. She called from the airport in PLACE, and it was hard to miss her when he arrived to pick her up.
Alexandreina was a flurry of skirts, colors, and laughter as she greeted him. She brushed each of his cheeks with a kiss and held his hands tightly. She stared deep into his eyes, and he felt like he was being examined, his soul studied. Based on the cheerful smile that followed her release of his hands, he wasn’t found wanting.
The entire ride home she chattered, and Noah released the idea of ever getting a word into a conversation again. Between Stiles and Alexandreina, he had a feeling there wasn’t going to be much silence in the house. Most of her questions were about Stiles, and Noah tried to be circumspect in his answers. He didn’t want to scare her off before they even met.
Stiles was bouncing on the porch when Noah pulled the car into the driveway, and the moment the engine turned off he bounded down the stairs.
“Hi!” He said the moment Alexandreina opened her door, “I’m Stiles! And you’re my teacher!”
“That’s right!” Her voice was as excited and fast-paced as his son’s. “I’m so pleased to meet you!”
“And you know magic?” Stiles’ voice was filled with wonder, and his eyes were big.
Noah got out of the car and leaned against the closed door, watching their interactions.
“I do,” Alexandreina nodded, “and from what I hear, you know something yourself.”
Stiles nodded eagerly.
“Can you do this?” Alexandreina opened her hand and a small green flame unfurled in the middle of her palm. Noah watched Stiles’ eyes squint as he opened and closed his hand. Stiles stared at his palm, breaking his gaze only to glance over at Alexandreina’s flickering flame. Within a minute a tiny flame sprang to life in the middle of Stiles’ hand. Noah felt his palm itch, almost in imitation of the feeling Stiles and Alexandreina must have. Then Stiles’ flame grew bigger.
“Oh!” Alexandreina’s voice was surprised, but she recovered quickly, “Wonderful! That’s so impressive!”
“Really?” Stiles’ voice was hopeful as he continued to stare at the flame in his hand.
“Yes,” she knelt down and looked at the flame closer. “It took me a long time to be able to do this, and look at you! Your first time!” Her voice turned sly, and she leaned closer to him, “We’re going to have a lot of fun, you and I.” She winked at Noah.
Before he could say anything, such as warn her about promises, adventures, and Stiles, his phone rang. The flame in Stiles winked out and he frowned at it. Alexandreina glanced over at Noah, and he waved her toward the door as he answered his phone.
“Why don’t you show me where I’ll be staying,” she told Stiles, letting him lead her into the house.
“Noah, this is Oliver. I trust Alexandreina will work out?”
Noah looked around the yard, his eyes narrowed, “Yes…How did you know that?”
“Just a feeling,” Oliver’s voice was light, almost teasing. “I’m actually calling about the Hale’s petition.”
“And you couldn’t call Talia directly?”
“Sometimes we like to use an intermediary. Do let her know that we’re ready to convene.”
– – – –
“Does the Council always reach a decision so fast?” Noah asked. The adults in the Hale Pack were gathered in the clearing they’d first met the Council, waiting for the arrival of the Argents and the final verdict. The children were back at his house, being watched by Derek and Laura, although Laura had protested. She claimed that she was old enough, and the next alpha, and so she should be there too.
Talia had put her foot down rather quickly. No one wanted any of the children anywhere near the Argents until they knew for sure if they had the Council’s backing.
“They try,” Peter answered from his position against the tree closest to Noah. Since the phone call he’d hovered like a duckling, and Noah had let him. Everyone had been on edge, and it was impossible to find one member of the pack without another.
“The last time they didn’t investigate right away, and let the petition hang unanswered, it got out of hand,” the words were matter-of-fact, but Peter’s face was somber.
“How out of hand?”
“An entire clan of witches was killed, from the oldest crone to the youngest babe. The other party wasn’t interested in waiting for the Council to move and took it into their own hands. That was what started the witch hunts in Europe. Since then, they’ve gotten a little faster about responding.”
Before Peter could add anything else every werewolf head turned to the east, and a few moments later Noah heard the rumble of a vehicle. The Argents pulled up to the far edge of the clearing, and not much later, the Council arrived.
They gathered in a loose circle, keeping a healthy distance away from each other as they waited for the Council to deliver their final judgment.
“Thank you for your time,” Cyndaquil began, its voice oddly quiet despite its great size. “We appreciate your patience. We have weighed each side.”
“We have studied each story,” Shannon O’Leary continued. Her hands began to glow. As each additional Council member spoke, the glow spread.
“We looked for right,” the leaves around Foster began to dance in a wind that didn’t exist.
“And we looked for wrong,” a hum filled the air as Oliver spoke.
“We separated the truth speakers,” Gunilla sang.
“From the liars,” Kian Bennet shifted his nails into claws.
“And we have rendered our final judgment,” Linnet’s voice rang out. The air became oppressively heavy, and Noah had to lock his knees to keep from sinking to the ground. A flame encircled the group, beginning and ending with Cyndaquil. “The Argents have exceeded their mandate. They have pushed beyond the Code and broken the alliance. They have violated the balance. A price must be paid.”
The hum shifted into a ringing that seemed to echo beyond. “Katherine Argent acted not as a balance-keeper, but as an oath-breaker, and a debt must be paid. Both to the human world and to the world beyond,” Linnet’s words were no more than a whisper, but even from where Noah stood, he could easily hear her. “When she is released from police custody and the terms they settle upon her, she will be taken by the Council, and the final price will be exacted.
“As for the Argent Family, you have been found to have corrupted your purpose. Not entirely, not yet, but you cannot be allowed to continue on this path. You have been officially sanctioned by the Council, and your path is your own no longer. You cannot walk alone.”
Cyndaquil took over, “Your family will report the location of every hunter affiliated with you, and update the location with each move. No hunt will be conducted without letting the Council know, and there will be inspections.”
“So the Council decides, so mote it be,” Shannon’s hands glowed brightly for a beat as the fire flared wildly before snuffing out completely.
There was a beat of silence, then Gerard spoke up. His face was red with anger and spit flew at each word.
“This is preposterous! You cannot be serious! We are one of the oldest hunter families in the world! There is no reason to judge us so harshly!”
“Watch your words,” Gunilla warned, and suddenly the feathers that decorated her hair and skin didn’t seem soft. Instead they seemed to flicker in the light like metal, and Noah was sure if she wanted, the feathers would be more than just decoration. “Some argued for worse.”
“Be grateful with what you have,” Oliver Bryant added, “and know that ending the Argent Family was on the table. Don’t make us question the wisdom of our kindness.”
“Thank you, Council members,” Chris stepped forward and put a hand on his father’s arm. “We do appreciate your leniency toward our family, and will do our best to demonstrate your faith was not misplaced.” He tugged on his father’s arm, but Gerard didn’t move. Not until the tug turned into a yank and Chris almost pulled him off his feet.
They walked back to their car and drove away. The Hales watched in silence, and Noah couldn’t blame them. After everything that had happened, and despite knowing that they were in the right, it didn’t seem possible that it was over just like that. That they had won.
“Alpha Hale,” Linnet’s quiet voice drew Noah’s attention back to her. “On behalf of the Council, and as a hunter, I would like to apologize. If we had realized what was happening and the scope of Katherine Argent’s destruction, we would have acted sooner, and this would not have happened to your family.”
“I don’t think there’s anything you could have done,” Talia protested. “She covered her tracks and there was never anyone left alive to present a petition. It’s only because of Noah that we are even alive. No pack member was seriously injured, so there’s nothing to apologize for.”
“Still,” Linnet shifted a little, rocking from one foot to the other, “know that you have the Council’s ear. And a boon. One within reason.” Her final words were heavy, and despite the gift being offered, the warning was clear.
“Thank you,” Talia nodded respectfully, and the rest of the pack followed-Noah a beat behind the others. “We will use the gift wisely.”
“See that you do,” Cyndaquil said before it shimmered and disappeared. A rush of air blew Noah back a step, and his ears popped.
“Do let us know if there’s any further problems with the Argents,” Shannon said before walking back to their vehicle.
“And try to keep Stiles under control,” Oliver added cheerfully, the only one who still seemed even the least bit upbeat. “I know he’s going to be a handful.”
The rest of the Council climbed into the car and it drove away, leaving the Hale pack behind. Marcus Hale, Talia’s father, let out a whoop, a rather unexpected noise from him. The rest of the pack howled in answer, the noise rather joyful to Noah’s ears.
“Did that seem a little too easy to anyone else?” he looked from one smiling face to another.
“You’re just getting that sense of ill from Stiles,” Peter teased. “A handful is putting it lightly.”
– – – –
It seemed Alexandreina agreed with Peter, and Noah supposed he shouldn’t be so surprised that she requested a meeting one week later. From Stiles excited chattering, the lessons had been going well.
Of course, from Stiles’ perspective, lighting the couch on fire was things going well because, according to his son, magic!
No, Noah wasn’t surprised by this meeting at all.
To avoid any interruptions, and Stiles taking advantage of were-coyote hearing, Noah met with Alexandreina outside near the woods that bordered the property. When the Hales had first arrived, a set of benches had appeared at the tree line, and the two made use of them now, settling comfortably in the spring sun.
“So Stiles…” Alexandreina began before trailing off. She seemed unsure of where to go from there.
Noah smiled, “He’s a bit much isn’t he?” As much as he loved his son, he wasn’t blind to his affect on others.
“Yes,” Alexandreina emphasized. “I’ve worked with magical children before, but Stiles is a whole other level. He’s so eager, and excited. He wants to know everything.”
“He always has,” Noah agreed. “When he was five, he wanted to know why the sky was blue. Claudia tried to explain, but he didn’t like her basic explanation. The next thing we knew he’d taken some books from the library. I say taken, because he didn’t check them out, and he was doing his own reading. We only knew what he’d done because after telling us about visible light, and the scattering of the light waves, he informed us that the library had a terrible security system and that he was very unimpressed.”
“So he’s always been a handful.”
“Yes,” Noah laughed. “Of course there are some tricks that help keep him on topic.”
“I’d love some ideas,” Alexandreina leaned forward eagerly, and Noah smiled.
“Keep the topics specific is probably the best tip,” Noah told her as they settled into the benches. “It gives him room to research on his own and he doesn’t go off on too many tangents.”
“But if we’re learning about a larger concept? How would that work?”
“Don’t give him the applications, let him come up with those himself. His mind is all about making connections, and if you do it for him, then it goes farther off on its own. He works best with routine and structure. Knowing what to expect means there isn’t outside stimulus. He’s not guessing what you’re going to do next.”
“It makes sense,” Alexandreina agreed slowly. She appeared thoughtful, gazing off into the distance. “Maybe you should come to a class. We’re having one this afternoon…which of course you know,” she grinned ruefully.
“If you want me there, I can be there of course. Sometimes having an audience can be a distraction for Stiles.”
Alexandreina shook her head, “Not in this case. The magic is about learning how to do it right, and if you’re there he might actually focus on getting the spell, and not just making what he wants happen.”
“Isn’t that the same thing?”
“No,” her words were emphatic, “using magic to do what you want can over-extend you. A spell manages the cost, which is important for someone Stiles’ age. Pushing himself too hard could end up burning him out.”
“And we don’t want that.”
“And we don’t want that.”
Noah spent the rest of the morning on edge, both excited and nervous for the magic lesson. It was still strange to him, but being around the witch, learning what Stiles was learning, it all felt like an adventure. He wasn’t quite sure whether he wanted the adventure or not, but that was par for the course at the moment.
“Today we’re talking about water summoning,” Alexandreina explained as she walked around Stiles. Over his head little gray clouds formed. “Water summoning pulls water from the surrounding air and causes it to physically manifest.”
Stiles jolted as the clouds gave a small thundering noise and pelted his head with small droplets of rain. He looked up to watch as the clouds lightened and then vanished, leaving the air above him clear.
“Why can’t you just make water?” Stiles asked.
“Everything has to come from somewhere,” Alexandreina explained. “If it’s not coming from already existing water, it has to come from you.”
“So it takes my water?”
“No,” she smiled, “it takes your energy. Sometimes we don’t realize how much we give, and that can have drastic consequences.”
“It could make you sick, or weak.”
Stiles didn’t look at all bothered by either consequence, and from the set of his chin, Noah knew that Stiles was prepared to protest the need to learn the control. At such a young age, Stiles was more focused on results.
“It could kill you, Stiles,” Noah cut in before Stiles could question Alexandreina more. “If it’s a big enough spell, a large amount of magic, it could drain you to your core. And you would die.”
“But that didn’t happen last time!”
“And you were very lucky,” Alexandreina took over. “Sometimes, when a very powerful magic user manifests, it costs them their life. They don’t have control, which is what these spells teach you. You learn the energy you expend, and you can watch for your limits.”
“Does that make sense Stiles?” Noah asked, watching his son’s face carefully. Stiles was still frowning, obviously not completely satisfied with the answer. But eventually he huffed out a breath of air and nodded.
“Then watch me, and do what I do,” Alexandreina held out her hand, palm up towards the sky. She slowly lowered it into a cupping motion as she said, “Congregate aquam pluat.”
In her hand, a tiny rain cloud gathered and sprinkled drops onto her palm. Stiles reached toward it, running his fingers through the cloud.
“Ouch!” He pulled back quickly and brought his fingers to his mouth. “It bit me!”
“Remember,” Alexandreina closed her hand and the cloud disappeared, “nature is not a toy. When you have a question, you should ask it.”
“But it was a cloud!”
“And it was only doing what I requested. Magic doesn’t change nature. We must treat it with respect. That’s why most spell work is done in questions.”
“But when you made it rain on me, you didn’t have to say anything!”
“That is correct,” Alexandreina agreed. “This is a spell I know well. I did not have to vocalize my wish, instead I let my magic make my request known. As you become more attuned with your magic, you’ll be able to cast silently as well.”
“I want to try!”
“Very well. Do you remember what I did?”
Stiles nodded eagerly and held out his hand. Before Noah or Alexandreina could stop him a riotous thunderstorm battled in his hand, churning the leaves on the ground, and making the air smell of ozone.
“Stiles!” Noah barked before he could stop himself. The thunderstorm cut out immediately and Stiles dropped his eyes to the ground.
“Sorry,” he whispered.
“You’re not in trouble,” Alexandreina reassured him. “This just isn’t how you were taught. You were using your energy, which is why the cloud reacted so violently. You didn’t ask, and that can cause nature to lose its balance. If there’s no balance the magic costs more. It is not a method anyone uses lightly.”
“I didn’t mean to.”
“I know, but sometimes we need to be patient. Are you tired?”
Until Alexandreina asked the question, Noah had just been thrown by the magnitude of what Stiles had done, but at her words he took a closer look at his son. Sweat beaded on Stiles’ forehead, and his face was pale.
“I guess, a little,” Stiles nodded.
“You pulled the rain out of nothing,” Alexandreina explained. “When you do that, it requires a cost of only you, rather than sharing it with nature.”
“Can I try again?”
“First let’s learn the words. Repeat after me, Congregate,” she said the word slowly, emphasizing each syllable, and Stiles eagerly repeated it. “Aquam. Pluat.” She had Stiles repeat it several more times, each time a little faster until he was able to make it through the words without stumbling. “All right, now hold out your hand and make sure to ask this time.”
Stiles nodded and raised his hand above his head. He frowned in concentration before saying the spell one more time, “Congregate aqua pluat.” As he brought his hand down in front of him a small rain cloud gathered, barely larger than his thumb. It sprinkled small drops down into his hand and Stiles’ face lit up with joy. He held his hand towards Noah, “Look! Look dad! I made it rain like Alexie taught me!”
Noah nodded and smiled back, “I can see that. It feels better this way, I’m sure?”
“It does!” Stiles’ gaze darted back and forth between his hand and his father before he thrust the slowly dissipating cloud up in Noah’s face. “You do it!”
“You make it rain!”
“I don’t think that’s how it works, Stiles,” Noah laughed. “You’re the one with magic, not me.”
“It doesn’t hurt to try,” Alexandreina said, her face blank and her voice giving nothing away. “You never know.”
“All right, fine,” Noah agreed, rolling his shoulders back. “But no one better make fun of me when nothing happens.”
“Yes!” Stiles’ fist shot up in the air and the cloud poofed out of existence. “You can do it dad! I know you can!”
“All right, how did the spell go again?” He listened closely as Alexandreina repeated the words. He said them slowly in his head, making sure he was pronouncing it correctly, at least to himself. No need to look sillier than he was already going to. “What does it mean, exactly?”
“Gather the water. Let it rain,” Alexandreina raised an eyebrow at him. “Now stop trying to distract us. Let’s see what you’ve got.”
Noah sighed and put his hand in the air. With as much emphasis and strength as he could muster he said the words, “Congregate aquam pluat.”
For a second, nothing happened, and as he dropped his hand down in front of him a small spark of regret filled his stomach. It was quickly squelched by the rumble of thunder in the sky above and the drops of rain that landed on his head. Noah tilted his face up to the sky, and the sprinkle became a downpour that turned the ground around them into mud within seconds.
“What happened?” He had to yell to be heard.
“You happened!” Alexandreina yelled back, she waved back towards the house, and the three of them ran as fast as they could to cover. They stood under the deck covering and watched the rain pelt to the ground around them.
“I did that?”
“Yes, you did.”
“That’s a lot of rain, dad,” Stiles looked up at Noah, a big grin on his face. “I thought it was only supposed to be a little.”
“Oh, be quiet you,” Noah pulled Stiles against his side and rubbed his hand roughly over his son’s head. Stiles giggled and tried to pull away. Another clap of thunder echoed across the yard as the sky continued to darken and the clouds spread.
“I think we might need to call it a night,” Alexandreina said as she stared up into the storm, “I don’t think this is going anywhere.”
Noah nodded sheepishly and pushed Stiles towards the house. His son eagerly ran into the building, yelling Derek and Malia’s names.
“I didn’t mean for this to happen.”
“And I didn’t expect for this to happen,” Alexandreina admitted. “I just wanted Stiles to see what might happen if he was patient and followed instructions. This is very much beyond my expectations.”
“I didn’t think anything would happen.”
“That was a possibility too. And it’s a good lesson for someone of Stiles’ age and ability. He’s used to getting what he wants, and sometimes he won’t. He needs to learn early what his limits are,” she paused and studied him. Noah resisted the urge to squirm under her heavy gaze, “I think you should continue coming to class.”
“I thought that was just for Stiles. He’s the one with magic.”
Alexandreina raised an eyebrow at him.
“Powerful magic,” Noah clarified. “This was a fluke.”
“Fluke or not, it should be trained. You wouldn’t want to be a bad example for your son, would you?” The challenge rang in her voice, and Noah frowned at her, recognizing the manipulation happening. Of course, the manipulation didn’t mean she was wrong.
“Fine,” he sighed, “I’ll go to your class.”
“I want to go too!” A loud voice rang out from behind them. Noah turned to look at Malia as she marched towards them, an obstinate frown on her face and determination evident in her posture. She stopped a foot away from them and put her hands on her hips, as if daring them to say she couldn’t.
“You do realize it’s a class for magic, right?” Noah asked.
“So?” Malia’s chin crept higher.
“You don’t have magic,” Alexandreina said softly, her words kind.
“I want to go to school with Stiles.” Her tone didn’t leave any room for argument, and Noah realized he didn’t feel like fighting this battle.
“Fine,” he sighed, “but you can’t distract Stiles. He needs to learn this too, and if you can’t stay on task, we’ll change our minds.”
“I’ll be good!” Malia’s face brightened immediately. She lunged forward and hugged Noah tightly around the waist. A little too tightly and he winced, but before it could become a true hurt she pulled back and scurried inside.
“This is going to go so well,” Noah sighed. Alexandreina laughed at him.
– – – –
That night, Noah found himself outside on the deck again, staring at the rain as it continued to fall. It hadn’t let up since that afternoon, and he wasn’t sure how he felt about that. A little uncomfortable? Alarmed? Freaked out? But also a little proud of himself…
“I hear I have you to thank for this unexpected storm.” Peter walked out of the house and settled into a chair next to Noah.
“Maybe,” Noah stayed facing forward, not wanting to see the grin he knew was creeping across Peter’s face.
“It has the weathermen baffled,” Peter said, “there hasn’t been a storm like this during May in years. It wasn’t on any radar or forecast.”
“Shut up,” Noah growled as Peter started laughing.
“They’re saying it’s a miracle, and that nature’s playing a big joke on them. It has people scratching their heads from here to Los Angeles! I haven’t heard so many bullshit explanations since the last conspiracy website I visited in college!” Peter bumped into Noah’s shoulder as he continued to laugh.
“It’s not a big deal.”
“Say what you want, but if you weren’t having council-sanctioned lessons, there would be some grumpy people here to question you,” Peter turned to look at Noah and snickered. “Maybe not as grumpy as you.”
Noah waited for Peter to get his laughter under control before filling him in on how the class had gone. He ended by mentioning Malia wanted to join the class as well, “I told her that was fine. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Of course it’s fine. It would be good for her, teach her some control,” Peter nodded. “She’s a little wild.”
“I wonder where she gets that from?” Noah asked sarcastically.
“As I remember, you liked a little bit of wild.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Noah kept his face expressionless as Peter turned and frowned at him. He raised his eyebrows innocently and widened his eyes.
“Sure you don’t,” Peter leaned in closer, his breath tickled Noah’s cheek. “I could always remind you.”
A thrum of arousal slipped through Noah headed straight for his cock, and he resisted the urge to shift. It wasn’t the first hint of arousal he’d felt around Peter. Peter’s lips tipped up in a smile.
“I think you like that idea,” the words were soft and smooth in Noah’s ear, and he pushed back a shiver.
“I think,” Noah leaned back, putting some space between them, “we need to talk about this before we go any further.”
“All right,” Peter sounded cautious, and Noah couldn’t blame him.
“I don’t want to hurt you,” Noah started. “After last time…I know I was the one who ended it, but it still took me a while to get over you.”
“How do you think I ended up with Malia?” Peter asked, obviously trying to lighten the mood, but there was no humor in his voice and his attempt fell flat.
“We have the kids, too.”
“Noah,” Peter’s voice was deadly serious. “Last time, what threw us off was secrets, mine. This time we don’t have them. There’s nothing between us, and you’re thinking about it, right?” He waited for Noah’s nod before continuing, “Then I don’t think we have anything to worry about. We take it slow, yes, but you know this time, and you’re not going to freak out again. You’ve seen the situation at its worst, and you’re still here this time.”
“So…we want to do this again?” Noah asked as Peter stood up and walked toward the end of the deck. The rain rattled the deck cover harder for a minute. Peter turned to face him.
“We’re doing this again,” he stepped closer, between Noah’s parted knees and leaned down. The press of his lips was warm and familiar, and Noah pressed back. For a moment it was like no time had passed, and his hands slipped up to hold onto Peter’s hips, clutching tight. Arousal curled in his stomach.
At the edge of his awareness, Noah registered the rain had finally stopped.
By mutual agreement, the first date was scheduled for that weekend. There were plenty of adults around to watch Malia and Stiles, and neither Peter nor Noah wanted to wait. Even just waiting the week made Noah’s skin crawl a little, like the nerves were bouncing through him and needed an outlet. Even the magic classes weren’t helping with the nerve release, and since the first rainstorm he’d caused, very little had actually happened.
Apparently, between Stiles and Noah, Alexandreina was getting frustrated, because she quickly introduced meditation to her lessons. “If you can’t settle and focus, you must need practice.” It had quickly become the most relaxing part of Noah’s day, even when he couldn’t completely settle. Stiles would stop moving for more than five seconds and Noah was able to center his mind, as Alexandreina put it.
The calm it injected didn’t last when faced with the reality of the upcoming date.
Getting ready for the date was an exercise in frustration, and Noah found himself staring into his closet with no idea what to grab. He hadn’t had to get ready for a date in years, since Claudia. And for some reason, making the right impression felt extremely important.
Okay, he knew the reason.
“Are you ready?”
The question came from the doorway, and Noah turned to look at his son. Stiles shifted from foot to foot, a nervous energy running through him, Stiles’ natural state wasn’t something even meditation could change.
“Not yet.” He waved Stiles into the room and Stiles bounced to the bed. He climbed up and sat facing Noah. Turning back to the closet, Noah ran through the date in his head. Going to the Italian restaurant in town meant dressing nicer than he normally would.
That meant jeans were probably out if he didn’t want to embarrass himself. Noah thought of Peter, and the style he’d insisted on even when he was just staying at home with the kids and reached into his closet for a pair of slacks. Black would probably be best. Noah pulled out a pair he’d had for a while and decided to ignore the fact that it was the pair that made his ass look good.
“So you’re going out with Peter?” Stiles asked. When Noah glanced over his fingers were creeping up to his mouth, and he started chewing on his thumb. Stiles had seemed a little confused about the whole dating thing when Noah had talked to him. Both Peter and Noah had agreed it was best to tell their kids. Living in the same house meant secrets didn’t stay secret for very long.
“I am,” Noah pulled a green button up from the closet and frowned at it before putting it back.
“We talked about this, remember?” Noah said, reaching in and grabbing a dark blue shirt. He stared at it for a few moments before sighing and tossing the shirt and the slacks on the bed. He turned to look at his son. Stiles frowned back at him.
“I know we did…I just, why are you going out to dinner? Couldn’t you just eat here?”
“We could,” Noah agreed, walking over to sit next to Stiles on the bed. He was careful not to sit on his shirt and pants. “But when you decide to go on a date with someone, you want to be alone with them. It’s hard to be alone in this house with so many people.”
“We could make them leave!”
“That wouldn’t be very nice.”
“Well, can I go with you?” Stiles’ voice was hopeful as he peered up at Noah. Noah resisted the urge to laugh.
“If you were there we wouldn’t be alone, now, would we?”
Stiles’ face dropped back into a frown and he shrugged. He looked at his hands, fiddling with them in his lap. Before Noah could say anything else, Stiles’ head shot up, “You’re not taking Malia, are you? Because if she gets to go, I should get to go!”
“We’re not taking Malia,” Noah reassured him. Stiles nodded slowly, tension slipping out of his shoulders.
“Dad? What’s a date?”
Noah choked on air, “What do you mean?”
“Well, if you want to be alone, it must be something special. So what’s a date?”
“A date is when two people who like each other spend time together alone, so they can get to know each other better.”
“Oh…” Stiles looked thoughtful, “So are you going to take Talia on a date, too?”
Noah choked again. “Talia’s just a friend,” he explained after he stopped coughing. “A date is when you like someone as more than just a friend. Like a boyfriend or a girlfriend.”
“Oh,” Stiles’ words were soft and he stared down at his hands. “Does this mean you love Peter?”
“I…” Noah hesitated, not wanting to lie to his son, but also not quite sure of the answer. “I don’t know.”
“Does Peter love you?”
“I don’t know that either, Stiles,” Noah said. “That’s what dating is about. Finding out if you love each other.”
“Well, how do you know?”
“Sometimes you just know, and sometimes things happen that make you realize you love them.”
“You want to spend all your time with them, or they make you happy,” Noah said. “Little things remind you of them.”
“I want to spend a lot of time with Malia, and she makes me happy,” Stiles said. “Does that mean I love her?”
“I think right now she’s just your friend,” Noah smiled.
“Well, what’s the difference?”
Noah decided to go for blunt, “Do you want to kiss her?”
“Eww! Dad, that’s gross!” Stiles’ face screwed up and Noah wanted to laugh at the disgust that was so obvious.
“If you loved her, like we’re talking about, as more than a friend. It wouldn’t necessarily be gross,” Noah explained, deciding to keep it simple for his son. Later, when it seemed like Stiles was ready, they could get into more detail.
“Like in the movies?”
“Like in the movies,” Noah agreed.
“Dad…does that mean,” Stiles sighed and looked away from Noah. “Does that mean you don’t love mom?”
“Stiles, no,” Noah wrapped his arm around Stiles and pulled him close. “Of course I love mom. I’ll always love Claudia. You can love more than one person, and as much as I wish it wasn’t true, she’s gone. I’ll always think about her, but I think…I think I’m okay with maybe loving someone else, too. Are you okay with that?”
Noah held his breath as Stiles didn’t say anything. He didn’t push his son, although he felt stupid for not asking this earlier. Of course Stiles would think of his mother right now.
Eventually Stiles nodded and turned his head into Noah’s shoulder. Noah could barely make out Stiles’ mumbled, “I guess it’s okay…I like Peter.”
“Okay,” Noah squeezed Stiles, “I’m glad to hear that. I’m sorry I didn’t ask sooner. I like Peter, too. But, you know, if it ever changes, I want you to tell me, okay?”
“Now, what do you think I should wear for the date?”
“I don’t think that’s going to work,” Noah laughed.
“Then why even go on the date if you can’t wear Batman?” Stiles frowned.
“Because it’s going to be fun.”
“I don’t think so,” Stiles shook his head.
“It will be,” Noah assured him. He picked up the shirt and the pants off the bed, “I was thinking this.”
“I guess it’s okay,” Stiles sighed, “if you want to be boring.”
Noah dug his fingers into Stiles’ sides, making him squirm and laugh as he tried to get away.
“No!” He kicked out and scrambled off the bed.
“Fine,” Noah tousled his hair and pushed him gently towards the door. “Now get out of here so I can change.”
“Okay,” Stiles walked to the door but stopped before he walked out. “Hey, dad?”
“If you and Peter like each other, and decide you loved each other, would you get married?”
Noah jerked his head up and stared at Stiles, “Maybe,” he said slowly, “why?”
“‘Cause then me and Malia would be siblings, and that would be pretty cool!” Stiles skipped out the door and Noah slowly relaxed his shoulders.
His son…one surprise after another. It was enough to give him an early heart attack.
– – – –
Peter was waiting downstairs in the living room. Somehow he’d managed to keep the rest of the family from watching them like proud parents on prom night, but Noah wasn’t risking anything. He glanced around the living room as he walked up to Noah, making sure no one was hiding behind a couch or chair and waiting to jump out at them.
“They’re in the kitchen,” Peter said, amusement heavy in his voice.
“Then maybe we should make our escape before they change their mind.”
Peter nodded and they headed out the door. Noah was led to a car he didn’t recognize, but it was easy to imagine Peter owning the classic Camaro parked in his driveway. He ran his hand along the dark blue body before pulling open the passenger door. Peter hopped in on the driver’s side and with a quick rev of the engine they pulled onto the street.
Neither one of them spoke during the short drive to the restaurant, and Noah did his best to ignore Peter’s hand on the gear stick. Each smooth movement was like sending a jolt of lightning to his cock, and it was better to focus on something else, anything else. By the time they parked a low-level hum of arousal thrummed through him and from the twitch of Peter’s nose he was pretty sure Noah smelled like he felt.
They were quickly seated at a table along the edge of the restaurant, although not as private as Noah wished. The hostess smiled and promised their waiter would be along soon.
They looked through the menu for a few minutes as they waited for the waiter. The restaurant was buzzing with conversations from other couples and families who’d decided Saturday would be a nice time for a night out. Noah was able to quickly find something to eat. Of course, Stiles might not approve of Noah ordering chicken parmesan with all its cheesy goodness, but what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. Peter put down his menu shortly after Noah. The waiter was nowhere in sight.
They stared awkwardly at each other across the table before Noah finally laughed, “I don’t know why I feel so uncomfortable right now.”
“I know,” Peter smiled back. “It’s not like we haven’t done this before.”
“It has been a while though. The last date I went on with Claudia.”
“I’m not sure when the last date I went on was. I’m also not sure it qualified as a date.”
Noah raised an eyebrow and smirked, “Sometimes those can be fun dates.”
“Sometimes,” Peter agreed. He leaned back in his chair. Noah studied him for a moment, taking in all of the changes that had occurred over the years. Changes he hadn’t had time to take in as much as he had wanted to.
“So first date…”
“First date,” Peter agreed, “should we just pretend we don’t know each other?”
“Or catch up a little more than we have. There’s a lot we’ve missed.”
“All right,” Peter leaned in, “you start.”
“What do you want to know?”
“After graduation, you joined the army.”
“Yeah,” Noah nodded. “I went through boot camp and got stationed in Italy. That’s where I met Claudia.”
“How did you meet her?” Peter seemed genuinely curious, but his face was blank.
Noah continued slowly, cautiously, “It was on one of my days off. I was wandering around Vicenza and she ran into me. She almost knocked me down. It was a little memorable. She was just like Stiles, a bundle of energy as she tried to apologize and made things worse.” Noah stopped as his throat tightened.
“That sounds pretty special,” Peter smiled at him. Before Noah could add anything else the waiter showed up at their table with a bright smile and they quickly gave their order. When she left, the awkward silence from before returned until Peter spoke up.
“So, was that when you started dating?”
Noah laughed and shook his head, “No. I brushed myself off and went back to base. Not everyone makes a move the first time they see someone,” he added teasingly. Peter smiled back in response. “The funny thing was I just kept running into her, eventually it stuck. After we were married Claudia admitted she had a friend on base who kept an eye out for me. Her secret weapon, she said.”
“Very devious,” Peter’s voice was admiring.
“I seem to like that sort of person,” Noah admitted.
“Noah Stilinski!” A voice called from behind Noah, and when he turned and looked he saw one of his fellow deputies standing in the aisle next to their table.
“Paul,” he nodded.
“How have you been?” Paul asked. “I haven’t seen much of you since you did the wrap-up on the Hale case.”
“I’ve been good,” Noah said. “I’ve been taking advantage of some of the overtime and working at the house.”
“I need to do that. I swear, the sheriff keeps us so busy there’s no time to do anything else.”
Noah gave a polite smile. He noticed Peter’s public face slip on. It was a face he hadn’t seen in a while, and he wished he could make it go away. “Listen, Paul, I’ll see you at the office soon.”
Paul looked confused, but nodded, “Sure, I should get back to my wife. She insists on having a date night every month, and she probably wouldn’t like it if I skipped out.”
Noah said goodbye, and when Paul walked away, he apologized to Peter, “I’m sorry, I didn’t expect that to happen.”
“It’s not a big deal,” Peter shrugged. “You’ve always been a popular guy.” Even though his words were kind, his tone didn’t make the guilty feeling go away. It was obvious the interruption bothered him, as well as the brush off he’d received from Paul.
Even in high school, the Hales had a mysterious air to them, and it made people uncomfortable. Worse, it made them ignore the Hales, especially Peter who stood out in his own unique way. Just being in his presence could feel like a roller coaster.
Of course, Paul wasn’t the only one who saw them out and about, and despite the fact Noah felt it was pretty obvious they were on a date people interrupted them constantly. From drink orders to dessert person after person stopped by their table.
Some people were cheerfully checking in or asking about Stiles. Others had complaints that could have waited until the morning when Noah was actually on duty. Peter slowly grew quieter and quieter until the only noises he made was the clink of his fork against his plate and even that was muted.
Perhaps the only thing that saved the evening from being a complete and total waste was the slow stream of old ladies. All of them seemed to remember them from high school and were tickled to see them together again.
“Noah! Where’s that little boy of yours? I swear, whenever I see you out and about he’s following you like a duckling!” Lana Townsend was probably the oldest person in Beacon Hills, and she used that to her advantage whenever possible.
“He’s at home tonight,” Noah said, ignoring the tightening of Peter’s jaw across the table.
“At home? Well, why would he be at…” Mrs. Townsend’s voice trailed off as she looked across the table at Peter. Her eyes darted back and forth between the two of them. Peter tensed up even more. “Oh my goodness!”
“Peter Hale! And Noah Stilinski! The girls will never believe me!” A bright smile broke over her face. “Paula Drake was saying just yesterday she didn’t think Peter Hale would ever settle down, not even with that daughter of his. And do you know what I said?” She didn’t wait for either of them to answer, “I said he’s still hung up on Noah Stilinski. Just you wait, I said. Those two were meant to be! And now look at you! On a date! Oh, don’t let me interrupt! You two enjoy yourselves!”
With a wink she walked away, leaving Peter and Noah speechless at the table in the wake of her whirlwind of energy.
“What…what just happened?” Peter asked.
“I think…we might be the subject of quilting circle gossip,” Noah thought that was what had happened. He wasn’t quite sure.
And Lana Townsend wasn’t the last little old lady to stop at their table. Each one seemed tickled pink to see the two of them having dinner together. They all remarked on how happy they remember them being in high school. One of them even saying they were the cutest thing she ever remembered seeing.
It was hard to decide if Noah was flattered or a little insulted on behalf of his high school self.
At least it made Peter relax for the rest of the evening. With each additional little lady that stopped by he seemed to settle more and more, the earlier interruptions about business seemed far away.
As the dinner wound to a close and dessert was given one final bite, Noah said, “It’s hard to believe there were so many people watching us all those years ago. I feel like I should have noticed.”
“Really?” Peter raised an eyebrow, “I seem to recall you being pretty focused on other things when we were together.”
“And that’s another thing,” Noah felt his face heat up, “I can’t believe all those women were watching us together. I mean, obviously not…but still. Sometimes we barely managed to keep it public-appropriate.”
“Do you really want to be thinking about the kinks of women like Mrs. Townsend and Paula Drake?” Peter asked.
Noah shuddered, “I can’t believe you said that.”
“Hey, I was over here thinking about how we had a good thing going. You were the one who brought up voyeurism.”
“Please stop,” Noah begged.
“Just imagine it,” Peter’s voice took on a teasing tone, “you and me, in the back seat of your car, making out. Maybe a little below the belt action. Mrs. Walters, pressed up against her window with a pair of binoculars in one hand and a phone in the other.”
“Oh my god,” Noah laughed. “They didn’t.”
“I don’t know. Some of those old ladies seem kind of feisty. There’s no telling what they might be up to.”
“Just stop,” Noah reached across the table and grabbed Peter’s hand. He squeezed it warmly and didn’t let go. Peter squeezed back. “Either way, I just…didn’t expect that. It’s a little strange to think there are people who’ve been rooting for us since…”
“Yeah,” Noah agreed. “I’m not sure how I feel about that.”
“I know back then, I felt like we had a future for sure. I mean, I didn’t see us here, like this,” Peter waved his free hand between them, “but I thought we would make it. It’s nice to know I wasn’t the only one.”
“Hey, I thought we were going to make it, too. Everything was so…intense. It didn’t even seem possible to me that we wouldn’t make it.”
Every memory Noah had of Peter, from the moment they’d met to the moment they’d broken up, had been hot and passionate. It was hard to remember where one of them ended and the other began. They’d been each other’s world back then. And maybe…if he hadn’t found out about the supernatural the way he had…but then he wouldn’t have Stiles. He wouldn’t have had Claudia, and he wouldn’t trade those two things for anything.
Watching each expression drift across Peter’s face, Noah had a feeling Peter was thinking the same thing. They’d hurt each other, and been apart for so long, but during that time some wonderful things had happened. And now, they’d found their way back to each other. Now…it felt like they were really ready for each other this time.
Maybe those crazy little old ladies were right and there was a little bit of destiny at play.
He squeezed Peter’s hand, causing the man to look up at him. When their eyes met, Noah smiled softly. “I’m really glad we decided to do this tonight.”
Peter smiled back, “Me, too.”
– – – –
As much as Noah might have liked, the evening didn’t end with a kiss, or a hot and heavy make-out session in Peter’s car for old times’ sake. He decided to blame that on Peter’s family. When they’d come back into the house they’d pretended not to be spying, but the innocent whistling gave them away.
Stiles had been long ago tucked into bed, but Noah stopped by his room to check on him anyway. He carefully pushed the door open, smiling when he saw Stiles buried under a pile of blankets, his feet peeking out the side. A confused murmur slipped past his son’s lips as the light from the hallway hit his face, and Noah quickly and quietly pulled the door closed again and went to his bedroom. He changed out of his clothes and into a comfortable t-shirt and flannel pants before walking back to the living room.
By the time he made it down to the living room everyone had disappeared, most likely off to bed Noah realized as he noted the time on the clock with a wince. He sat down on the couch and stared at the television for a long minute, trying to decide if he wanted to watch some news or if he was ready to go to sleep right there.
His body decided that for him, and he didn’t realize he had fallen asleep until his phone was waking him up with a rather piercing ring. He groaned and reached for the landline, fumbling a little in his hurry to make sure no one else woke up.
He was pretty sure that was a pointless endeavor with werewolf ears in the house, but he gave himself some credit for at least trying.
“Hello?” Noah let his voice reflect the gruffness he felt as he looked at the clock one more time. The neon lights showed 1:30 in the morning, and he held back a wince.
“Noah? It’s Tara Graeme. I’m sorry for calling so late, or early I guess,” her voice over the phone was hesitant and apologetic, and Noah resisted the urge to snap at her. “Sheriff Kane wanted me to call. He wanted to let you know that Gerard Argent has been seen around town? I guess because you were so involved in his daughter’s case, the sheriff thought you should know.”
“And it couldn’t wait for morning?” Noah sighed.
“I don’t make the calls,” Tara paused. “There are a lot of rumors circling around right now, and he’s been pretty suspicious. He’s made some comments.”
“About the Hales. Not around them, but about them,” Tara’s voice went quiet. “Either way it doesn’t sound good. I heard he’s rented his room at the motel for a month.”
“So he’s not going anywhere.” It wasn’t a question, and it made Noah’s chest feel heavy. Just one more thing to worry about.
“He’s not going anywhere,” Tara agreed.
Noah felt on edge for the next two weeks, like someone was watching him. He knew he didn’t do a good job of hiding it either. The Hales had taken turns giving him looks when they were around. By this time the only people still at his house were Peter and Malia. Talia had found a house to rent that hadn’t been used in a while and moved her family out there. Pack meetings were taking place over there and Noah finally got his quiet life back.
Except living with two ten-year-olds meant the house was never quiet. Peter and Noah had to find time outside of the house to get reacquainted, and luckily it seemed the rest of the town was finally catching on.
That or the old ladies of Beacon Hills had made their feelings known and put a moratorium on interrupting Noah and Peter while they were out on dates. Either was possible really.
With Talia and her family gone it made it a lot easier for Noah and Peter to sneak kisses after a date, and sometimes a grope here or there. A lot of gropes here or there. From Malia’s scrunched up nose Noah could tell they were beginning to leave their mark on the living room. Not that it got much further than heavy petting. It was like being a teenager all over again.
But combine the stress with the close living quarters, two ten-year-olds, a nosy family, and magic classes that were sometimes more confusing than helpful, and Noah needed some time away from the house.
When the opportunity arrived to go grocery shopping, because they were, as Peter put it, “Out of everything and anything worth eating, and that includes the junk you’re hiding from Stiles,” Noah jumped on it.
And to give Peter at least somewhat of a break, he took Stiles with him. One child was much easier to manage than two after all.
Of course, Stiles did his best to prove him wrong in the grocery store, running from one end to the other and trying to slip his own items into the cart. Every so often Noah would remind him to calm down, that he was inside, and Stiles would agree. And for a few minutes he would behave, then he would be off snooping his way into something else.
It was during one of these snoop sessions that Noah was confronted with a face he’d been hoping to avoid for…well, forever.
His name was said slowly, drawn out, and made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on edge. He carefully turned, keeping an eye out for Stiles as he faced Gerard Argent.
“Mr. Argent,” he kept his voice calm and steady and ignored the thud of his heart. So far Gerard hadn’t done anything, and if he did, Noah was sure he could handle him. That was what he did, after all. “I heard you were sticking around.”
“Yes.” Gerard picked up a red apple and studied it, his eyes hard as he seemingly dissected it in his head. Noah didn’t want to imagine what he was seeing, and when Gerard placed the apple in the bag he held and refocused on Noah, he wished he knew how to make himself disappear. “I hear you’ve been spending a lot of time with the Hales.”
“I’m just wondering at the logic of a man with your responsibilities…spending his time with that kind of crowd.” The words were considering, and a little mocking, like Noah was being weighed by Gerard and found wanting.
It pushed Noah from on edge to defensive very easily.
“I don’t know what you mean,” he challenged. “What kind of people are you talking about? The kind that helps the people in their community? Donate their time and money to local causes? Lead charities and outreach programs? Is that the kind of people you’re talking about? Because I’m not seeing a problem here.”
“Yes…” Gerard agreed slowly, smiling and baring his teeth in a rather aggressive way. “I suppose some…people…might do something like that to keep up appearances. It doesn’t change what they are though, does it?”
“What do you mean?” Noah asked bluntly, fed up with misdirects and side-stepping. “What are you trying to say about the Hales?”
“I’d just be careful of the friends I make if I were you,” Gerard didn’t give into Noah’s bait. “Sometimes, people who spend their time with…animals…find themselves getting bit.”
Noah arched an eyebrow, “I’m not sure who you’re calling an animal. From what I’ve seen, the only person in this situation who’s biting anything would be your daughter. And she’s in jail right now. I don’t know why I’d need to worry about her.”
Gerard took a step forward, his face dropping into a frown and his voice falling into a harsh whisper, “Werewolves are dangerous Deputy Stilinski. I don’t know what they’ve told you, but humans have no business getting involved with them. For your own safety, and the safety of your son, I’d stay away from them if I were you.”
“It’s a good thing you’re not me then,” Noah said back, just as harshly. “And the only person I’m afraid of, in the palest sense of the word, would be the psychotic female serial killer who was running around town. And like I said,” Noah didn’t pull any punches, emphasizing each word without breaking eye contact, “She’s. Locked. Up.”
Gerard looked furious. His face turned red and his lips thinned as he pressed them together tightly. “Kate is not a serial killer.”
“I don’t know what else you would call a family annihilator with a body count over two hundred,” Noah stared at Gerard challengingly, unflinchingly. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Stiles coming down the aisle toward them.
“You better watch yourself,” Gerard warned, his voice low. “When you decide to step into it, when you get in the mix. Sometimes people might get confused about what side you’re on.”
“Are you threatening me, Mr. Argent?”
“Consider it a warning,” Gerard stepped back. “I’d hate for you to end up like one of those animals,” he looked over at Stiles who’d stopped a few feet away and was staring between them. “You have so much to live for, and someone relying on you. It would be terrible to get caught in the crosshairs.”
“Your family was warned to take a step back, and to stay away from the Hales,” Noah kept his voice quiet, hoping Stiles wouldn’t hear.
“I can’t help what other people might do. I just thought you might want to know how it might look.”
“Then maybe you should keep your opinions to yourself and your mouth shut,” Noah said. He waved Stiles over. Stiles brushed past Gerard quickly and huddled against Noah’s side, and he wrapped his arm around his son. “Now, Stiles and I need to finish shopping. We have some people at home who would like some dinner.”
He led Stiles away, ignoring the heated stare he could feel at his back. When they’d moved to another aisle and there was no one else around, Stiles asked, “Dad?”
“Why was he so angry?” Stiles’ voice was quiet and curious and when Noah looked down Stiles was staring at the ground. “Was he mad at you?”
“No…well, maybe he was mad a little. Sometimes, Stiles, people don’t like other people,” Noah paused, searching for a ten year-old friendly way to describe a xenophobic asshole that wouldn’t make Stiles even more confused. Or make him try to figure out the information on his own, which he would.
“You told me I didn’t have to like everyone,” Stiles looked up with wide eyes, “but I had to be nice to everybody.”
“Some people don’t have dads as awesome as me,” Noah chuckled when Stiles shoved him. “Sometimes it’s not that simple. Sometimes it’s not just a personality problem. There are people who look at people, and they don’t like something about them, not their personality, but something physical. Things they can’t change. Like the color of their skin. And that’s the only reason why they don’t like them, and they say mean things or do mean things because of that. Which is never a good reason to be mean, and only stupid people do that.”
“I thought we weren’t supposed to call people stupid.”
“When they act like that, there’s not much else we can call them.”
– – – –
Peter could feel eyes watching him as he worked in the kitchen, cutting romaine and adding it to spinach in a bowl for a salad to accompany dinner. It was still too early for Noah to be home, so he knew it wasn’t him. He slowly turned his head and stared back at Stiles. The boy was sitting at the kitchen table with his head resting on his crossed arms. His nose was scrunched as he studied Peter.
“Did you need something?” Peter asked as he listened for Malia. It sounded like she was upstairs in her room, playing with something loud based on the banging.
“You’re dating my dad.”
“I am,” Peter waited to see if the blunt statement was going anywhere. He and Noah had told Malia and Stiles they were dating, but they’d kept it simple, and so far that had worked out, neither one of the kids asking too many questions.
“Why am I dating your dad?”
“I care about him.”
“Do you love him?” The question made Peter put the knife down; he didn’t want to risk cutting himself with the knife. He had a feeling this conversation was going to be awkward enough without adding any blood to it.
“I care about him, yes.”
“But do you love him?”
“That’s really something your dad and I need to talk about.”
“If you hurt him, I’ll hurt you.” Stiles’ eyes sparked, and Peter bit back a laugh.
“I’m sure you would.”
“I can,” Stiles added confidently, “Alexie is teaching me all kinds of magic.”
“Well, I’ll be careful then,” Peter agreed. “I wouldn’t want to do anything to hurt Noah.”
“Good!” Stiles hopped out of his chair and walked over to the stairs, but before going up to join Malia he turned back to Peter and held two of his fingers up to his eyes. He pointed them at himself and then at Peter before bringing them back to his own eyes. Stiles nodded seriously and then turned and scrambled up the stairs.
It was all Peter could do to keep from falling to the ground and laughing as he went back to finishing dinner.
That night after dinner, Noah and Peter settled the kids in the living room and put a movie on. By now, both of the kids were comfortable with Peter and Noah showing affection, as long as it was reasonable according to them. The first time they’d kissed in front of the kids, Stiles had made lovely throwing up noises and pretended to die in the kitchen. Malia had just frowned at them both and told them that was gross.
Cuddling on the couch though, that was acceptable. Especially when the two were lying on the floor in front of them and didn’t have to see.
With the volume turned up and the kids focused on the movie, Noah filled Peter in on the encounter with Gerard. Peter listened quietly, staring straight ahead as Noah spoke.
When he wrapped up with, “I don’t know if Stiles really understood, but he definitely knows to stay away from Gerard. It was one of the more unnerving encounters I’ve had recently.”
“And you think he’ll do something?” Peter’s words were hushed, spoken low so the children wouldn’t hear anything.
“Maybe we should take this into the kitchen?” Noah stood and walked into the kitchen. He leaned his back against the counter as he waited for the door to close behind Peter. When they were alone, he said, “It’s not that I’m worried Gerard will hurt someone. I’m not sure he’s gutsy enough to do that, at least not to me. It just made me nervous. It almost seemed like they were planning someone.”
“What could they be planning?” Peter asked curiously.
“I don’t know,” Noah exhaled slowly . “Would they even do anything and risk the Council stepping in?”
“You never know with some of the hunters,” Peter said slowly, looking down. “Of course, I wouldn’t have thought one as prominent as the Argents would have a problem like Kate, either.”
“So should I be worried? About Stiles, or me, or, hell, you? Would Argent come after us?” Noah’s breath caught, and he realized he’d slowly begun breathing faster, and his chest felt tight.
Peter didn’t answer for a while, and Noah focused on smoothing out his breathing as he listened to the noise from the movie in the background.
“Right now?” Peter finally said, “No. I don’t think you need to be worried. It feels like he’s just trying to take some power back. This was a pretty big hit for them, and as it makes its way out into the hunter community, they aren’t going to look good. With Kate locked up, and the Council siding with us. I think you’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure?”
“No,” Peter stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Noah, pulling him firmly against him. “I can’t be sure of anything, but I also wouldn’t risk you or Stiles. So be careful, but don’t dwell. I know you like to get caught up on things.”
Noah sighed and nodded, before resting his forehead against Peter’s shoulder. They stood there silently, holding each other as their children laughed at the movie in the living room.
Noah did his best to take Peter’s advice, ignoring Gerard when he saw him out in public. As the weeks passed, and spring drifted toward summer, he was almost able to forget his worries. Almost, but not quite.
And then the school called the sheriff’s office in the middle of May.
While on patrol, Tara sent through a radio call to the school. “Noah, we have a call from Beacon Hills Elementary. They have the school on a soft-lockdown and the children are being kept inside because of an unidentified man lurking on the premises.”
Noah picked up the handheld and clicked through, “Acknowledging, I’m on my way. Is there any more information?”
“It’s an older man, in his late fifties, early sixties. He’s in the parking lot in a black vehicle. He hasn’t moved in the past twenty minutes, which is when the school called us.”
“I’ll check it out and call back with my report.”
He flicked on the lights of his sedan and headed towards the school. When he was a block away he flipped them back off and pulled into the parking lot. A quick scan revealed the black SUV sitting in the upper corner of the lot. The engine was off. Noah parked a row away, and grabbed his radio.
“I’m at the school, and approaching the vehicle. A single man inside, the vehicle is off and is a black Ford SUV.”
He waited for an acknowledgement before grabbing a notepad and writing down the license plate number of the SUV and exiting his vehicle. He checked his holster and his shoulder radio before walking up to the SUV. He knocked on the driver’s window.
“Sir, please lower the window.” After a moment, the engine turned over and the window rolled down. Gerard Argent stared back at him, an eyebrow raised in challenge. “Thank you, sir. Please turn off the vehicle now.”
“Is there a problem, Officer?” The last word was said sarcastically as Gerard continued to stare at Noah but he turned the vehicle off.
“We received a call from the school about a suspicious vehicle. What are you doing here?” Noah asked abruptly, trying to keep from veering into rude territory as he reminded himself he was on the job right now. As much as he wanted to, he couldn’t get in Gerard’s face about his over-step.
“My granddaughter is enrolled here. I’m just waiting for her,” Gerard’s voice was sickeningly sweet.
“It’s the middle of the day,” Noah said flatly. “You’ve been out here for thirty minutes. People might get the wrong impression from your loitering.”
“I didn’t realize there was anything wrong with being here to pick up my granddaughter a little early.”
“Then make a phone call and pick her up. You’re making people feel uncomfortable just sitting here.”
“People, or you?” Gerard asked, a disturbing smile on his face.
“The school,” Noah stated, refusing to be cowed by this obviously unstable man. “They’ve gone into lockdown, so you need to either pick up your granddaughter, or move on.”
Gerard looked over at his dash and then back at Noah, and his smile grew wider, “I guess it is a little early to pick Allison up. Education is important after all. Have a nice day, officer.” He started the SUV and rolled up the window. He slowly drove out of the parking lot and Noah watched as he turned onto the main road.
A slimy feeling slid down his spine as he clicked his radio on. “Tara,” he leaned into his shoulder radio, “we’re all clear here. He said he was a grandparent of one of the students. I’ve got his license plate and name, and I’m going to check out his story with the school now.”
Noah walked up the steps to the school, where a security officer let him in, and checked in at the office, “Darlene, I checked out the vehicle and it’s gone now. You can bring the school out of lockdown.”
“Thanks for coming so fast. One of our teachers noticed on their lunch break,” Darlene said after she announced the all clear. “Did he tell you what he wanted?”
“He said he had a grandchild enrolled here. I wanted to double check that information with you,” he waited for Darlene to pull up the administration site. “Her name is Allison Argent.”
After a few clicks, Darlene was nodding, “Yep. She joined the school two weeks ago. In fact, she’s Stiles’ age. She’s not in the same class, though.”
“And are there any pick up authorizations on there?” Sometimes having a school-aged child came in handy, and this was an easy way to double check Gerard’s story.
“Let me see,” Darlene hummed, “her parents are listed…and, yes…there’s a grandfather authorized to pick her up…A Gerard Argent.”
“Looks like his story checks out.” Noah sighed internally, but the bad feeling didn’t go away. “Thanks for your help Darlene. Let us know if you need us again.”
“I’m just glad it was a false alarm.” Darlene smiled at him and then the lights flickered. Noah frowned and looked up. The lights steadied with a loud hum. He said good bye and when he made it back to his car he called the office to give his final report.
The check-in with Tara went quickly and smoothly, and when he hung up the phone with her Noah sat in his car quietly for a while. The confrontation with Gerard, routine as it was, had thrown him. It had happened way too close to his son, and felt way too pointed.
His fingers tingled, and in the distance he heard the low rumble of thunder. The previously clear blue skies darkened quickly as dark clouds formed.
“Fuck,” Noah breathed harshly. The day hadn’t called for any rain. He took some slow, deep breaths, and gradually his fingers stopped tingling, and the echo of thunder disappeared. The gray clouds lingered though.
Noah rubbed his forehead as he felt a headache begin to form. He let out one more breath before grabbing his cell phone. Frowning, he dialed Alexandreina’s number.
She picked up after the first ring, “Yes?”
“Ah,” she said, her amusement coming in loud and clear over the phone, “I’m guessing that was Noah, too.” It was easy to picture her waving out at the sky.
“Yes, it was.” He winced at how frustrated his words sounded, even to his own ears.
“And you didn’t mean to do that.”
“No. No, I didn’t.”
“All right, I’m not going to lie, Noah. That is…not good.”
“I didn’t think it was.”
“I think we might need to do some more one-on-one training,” the words were said softly as Alexandreina obviously tried to go for reassuring.
Noah sighed as he felt his fingers tingle again and the radio in the car sparked, “Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.”
– – – –
Noah wished he could say that his hold on his magic got better. It didn’t. It still sparked out of control, luckily in only small ways. There were no more surprise storms interrupting day to day life. He just couldn’t always use his phone…or the microwave.
“It could be worse,” Alexandreina told him after a particularly frustrating session. Stiles had been able to use the spell to make a light bulb light with no problem, while Noah had to sweep the kitchen after his lit brightly and then crumbled in hundreds of glass pieces.
“I don’t think that it could be,” Noah sighed. He pointed to the door when Stiles laughed at him. “Go outside and play, kid.” Stiles ran out the door, still laughing. “This time last year I was a normal deputy, just trying to avoid running into my ex. And now I have magic.”
“But you haven’t killed anyone…yet.”
Noah raised his head abruptly and glared at her. Alexandreina burst out laughing. “That’s not funny.”
“It kind of is,” she giggled, holding her sides, “you should see your face right now.” Noah continued to glare as she slowly got herself under control. After the last laugh escaped her, she added, “It’s really not as bad as you think. Luckily, you don’t have nearly as much magic Stiles, and he has more control. The damage you’d do if you really blew…I don’t think it would be that bad.”
“That really is not as reassuring as you seem to think it is.”
His level of frustration wasn’t helped by the reappearance of Gerard Argent in his life. It seemed everywhere he went now, Gerard was popping up. Sometimes, Noah could even feel eyes on him as he worked around town. And every time he looked up, there was Gerard.
Peter reported the same thing. “Everyone’s noticed the feeling of being watched. And we’ve caught the same scent lingering around the houses everyone is staying at. Chances are, it’s Gerard.”
Noah slumped on the couch next to him. It was a rare night when it was just the two of them—Malia and Stiles had been carted off to Talia’s home with the other pack children for the evening. “And there’s nothing the council can do about it?”
“He’s not doing anything wrong. Trust me, if I thought for a minute we could get them to handle it, I would have already made the call. The Argents are all staying here, and they do have some history in Beacon Hills.” Peter was obviously frustrated with the situation. Noah could feel his muscles tense and relax next to him.
“But if he does do anything?”
“I’ve got the Council number on speed dial, and a little police intervention wouldn’t go amiss.”
Noah nodded, and then they didn’t talk for a while, their mouths too busy doing other things.
– – – –
“Noah! I know you can do better than this!” Alexandreina’s frustration was evident as they stared at yet another spell gone wrong, courtesy of Noah’s magic acting up.
Stiles had already been released. His son had quickly grasped the spell, and then grown antsy, upping the potential for utter mayhem.
“I know,” Noah rubbed his forehead between his eyes where he felt the headache growing.
“It’s like you don’t even want to do this,” Alexandreina said, staring at him in confusion. “You don’t have problems controlling your magic around Peter, or the kids. And when you lose control, nothing goes wrong, exactly. It’s just unexpected. Do you want to be able to control your magic?”
Noah pushed down the guilt he felt at her question, “I don’t know. It just all felt easier before.”
“Noah, once you get the magic under control, it will be easy again. You can’t be afraid of it though.”
“I’m not afraid…I just…” Noah sighed. “I never had these problems before, and I don’t really understand why I can’t go back to that.”
“Once magic is released, and it gets its starting point, it doesn’t go away,” Alexandreina explained. “You have to learn to use it, or it could get more dangerous than a blown fuse or two.”
Noah sighed, but nodded. He focused on the spell, picturing the words in his mind and visualized the result he was hoping for. Breathing in slowly, he whispered the words and felt the responding tingle in his fingers. He opened his eyes, hoping to see a small flower in the pot in front of him. The only thing poking out of the dirt were a few leaves. He frowned at it.
“That’s a good start,” Alexandreina encouraged him. “You just need to put a little more behind it. Try again.”
Noah sighed, but tried again.
A flower the size of his head burst out of the pot. The garish pink petals flicked in the breeze.
Alexandreina stared at it for a moment before bursting out laughing.
Two Weeks Later
Noah felt like screaming. Or hitting something. Maybe eating an entire carton of bacon. Something drastic anyway. After all the meditation, all the practice, all the time, and effort, he couldn’t believe this had happened.
He couldn’t believe he had done this.
In a callout that ended in a car chase, Noah had managed to pop the tires on the suspect’s car, and flip it over on the side of the road. Luckily, the driver was uninjured, though extremely confused, and no one had been riding with Noah at the time. As he’d pulled the driver out of the car he’d mumbled something about a rock in the road before slapping the handcuffs on him.
And then the car caught on fire.
Noah didn’t think he’d ever lied so much on a form before in his life. All he wanted to do was go home and have a drink.
Of course, as he pulled up to his house, Alexandreina’s car was sitting in the driveway, and he had no doubt the story of his adventure had been told all over town. Tara had been too amused to keep it to herself. And he’d seen her on the phone as he’d walked out of the office.
He threw the car in park, and sat for a minute, staring at the wheel and preparing himself mentally for walking into the house, and all the questions he’d have to answer. Eventually, though, he forced himself up and out of the car, knowing he couldn’t put it off anymore.
Noah walked slowly to the front door, and quietly opened it. He eased the door open and slipped through. No one was waiting, but he could hear them in the distance: Stiles laughing as Alexandreina tried to explain something.
“A car exploded?” Peter’s amused voice came from behind him, and Noah resisted the urge to jump.
“It did not blow up. The fire department arrived before that could happen.”
“Ah, well I’m sorry I got that wrong.”
Noah turned and frowned at Peter who was finding the whole situation way too funny, “I didn’t mean to do it, so you can just keep your opinion to yourself.”
Peter laughed at him.
He shook his head and walked into the living room where whatever lesson Alexandreina was going over with Stiles was coming to an end. She looked up and held a finger up. Noah nodded at her silent request for him to wait.
“When we use magic and power it with intent, we need to be careful, otherwise we might face a consequence more than we expected, right?”
Stiles nodded frantically, “I don’t want to swell up bigger than an elephant!”
“That was only an example,” Alexandreina smiled, “but I’m glad to hear you understand how these things can go wrong.” She glanced out the window, and following her gaze Noah could see Malia in the backyard, “Why don’t you go out and play with Malia? I think we’re done for today.”
Stiles hopped off the couch and ran for the back door. Noah waited for the sound of his feet to fade before looking back at Alexandreina. She raised an eyebrow at him and he sighed.
“I’m guessing you heard?”
“Peter thought it was the funniest thing he’d heard in days.”
“I didn’t mean for it to happen.”
“There might be a reason for that,” Alexandreina said slowly.
“What could it be?” Noah asked, “I thought you said I barely have any magic. But these things keep happening, and if I don’t get control over it, I’m going to give away the game. Or kill someone.”
“This is a very big change. Normally when someone discovers they have magic, it happens when they’re younger. They learn to embrace the magic. You aren’t there yet, and you might never be. But because you aren’t embracing the magic, your emotions are controlling it.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means you need an anchor.” Her words were blunt, and Noah flinched a little.
“Like a werewolf has one to keep them from losing control of their wolf.”
“Stiles doesn’t need an anchor,” Noah argued. “Surely I just need to practice more.”
“Stiles embraced his magic,” Alexandreina explained. “He sees it as a part of him, an exciting part he wants to work with. You don’t.”
Noah wished he could argue with her words, but ever since he’d learned about the magic, and that he had it, he’d been angry, and wished it gone. “So an anchor. What is that?”
“For a wolf, it can be a feeling, or an idea. A person, or more than one thing.”
Noah relaxed a little at her words. He could work with that.
“Of course, that’s not going to work for you.”
“What do you think we’ve been trying to do?” She asked. Noah shrugged. “The exercises we’ve been doing are supposed to bind your magic to you, keep it from acting out on its perception of what you want. But you push it away instinctively, so we need to give it something to fuel it and keep it occupied.”
“What do you mean?”
“The best way, in your case, to bind your magic to you, is a bond. A mate bond. Your magic would focus on the bond and work to fuel it, which would keep it from fulfilling your wants and desires without you doing anything.”
“Where am I supposed to find a mate bond?” Noah asked tiredly, despite having a feeling he already knew the answer.
“Don’t act like you don’t understand. A mate bond with another person, a magical tie that links you. I know you’ve been offered one before. I have a feeling you might want to revisit the topic.”
– – – –
Approaching Peter over the mate bond was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of Noah’s life. Yes, they’d been closer and found their way back to each other. Yes, he knew they were mates. Yes, he wanted Peter. Wanted him more than he’d wanted anything in his life. But he hadn’t expected to be pushed into it. He’d thought he’d be able to drag his feet.
Of course, he’d never expected to have magic, either.
Noah asked Peter to meet him at the Hale House site. He’d driven himself out there, needing the time away from everyone to get his head on straight. But waiting for Peter, who had to know something was up, was a level of discomfort he could have done without.
Instead of the car he was expecting, he heard the pad of footsteps coming through the woods toward him.
“Well, this is a little strange,” Peter said as he walked closer, slowing until he came to a stop next to Noah. Noah took a deep breath.
“I wanted to avoid any prying ears. It seems like Malia and Stiles are always listening.”
“And this is something they can’t hear.”
“I…” Noah hesitated, “I know it seems like we’ve rushed into this. For our first date we were already living together, but I know, for something like this we—” he stopped and ran a hand through his hair. He turned his back on Peter and stepped away. “We need to do this without any input from them at all.”
“What’s going on, Noah?” Peter’s voice was concerned, and it made warmth bloom in Noah’s chest and spread.
“I…I’m going to tell you something, but…I need you to know that my feelings for you, they’re real.”
“Noah, I know this, I can tell. Just, what’s wrong?” Peter took a step toward him, but Noah held up a hand. Peter stopped.
“My magic isn’t going to settle on its own.” The silence between them stretched as Noah waited for a response. Any response.
“And?” Peter finally asked.
“Alexandreina said it’s not going to, not on its own. I’m not bonded to my magic, which means that it does what it wants, and I-I won’t be able to control it.” Noah took a deep breath. “She said the only thing that’s going to help is using my magic and creating a mate bond.”
“Oh,” Peter said softly. This time when he stepped closer, Noah didn’t do anything to stop him. “Is this what you want?”
“What I want?” Noah felt his voice slip higher and cleared his throat, pushing the hysteria he felt down. “Is it what you want? Are you ready for this?”
“Why wouldn’t I be ready?”
“I hurt you!” Noah yelled. “Hell, I hurt me too! What we had, and what we lost—You can’t just be over it.”
“Noah, we were teenagers, and we’ve changed. Was I pissed? Of course I was. Was I hurt? You better believe it, but what has happened since then. What you’ve done for my family, that’s stuff you didn’t have to do, and you did it.” Peter sighed and put his hand on Noah’s shoulder. He squeezed it and slid it down around Noah’s waist. He pulled Noah in close and Noah went. “I never blamed you for leaving. It happens, all the time. But you came back, and you saved us. I don’t even want to imagine what would have happened if you hadn’t been there.” He paused, “Why were you there?”
“I don’t even know…” Noah hadn’t thought back to that long ago night that had started all of this in a long time. “I woke up and just…I had to go, and then I was here.” He stared at the house that was slowly being put back together. The walls were up and the roof was on. Windows were slowly being placed. “Something was…calling me I guess. I knew I had to go.”
“Noah…” Peter whispered his name, “what makes you think that I don’t trust you after that? How can you think I ever really let you go? You’re a part of me, and you always will be.”
“Peter, a mate bond, though?”
“You’ve always had my heart, why do you think I wouldn’t want yours in return?”
Noah turned in Peter’s arm and pulled the man closer to him. When they were pressed as close as they could be, Noah leaned down and kissed Peter slowly. Peter hummed against his lips and pressed back. Noah smiled, and then the kiss took a decidedly filthier turn when Peter nipped his lip. Obligingly, Noah opened up and moaned at Peter’s swift intrusion. He gave back as good as he got, and after several breath-taking minutes they pulled apart.
Without letting go of Noah, Peter asked, “Will you mate with me, Noah? Trust your heart into my hands and take mine in return?”
Noah felt his heart skip a beat, “Are you sure?” He had to ask one more time.
“There’s very little I’ve ever been more sure of. Now, will you be mine?”
Noah nodded, “Forever, wherever it takes us.”
“Wherever it takes us.”
They stayed there in the woods exchanging slow kisses that quickly turned into heated clashes until Noah felt his phone buzz in his pocket. “Fuck,” he pulled back from the wet slide of Peter’s mouth on his neck and looked at the phone screen. “It’s Laura.”
“What does she want?” Peter growled, his eyes a bright gold in the night.
“Probably wants us to come home.” Noah opened the phone and was greeted by Laura’s grumpy voice.
“Where are you?”
“Good evening Laura. How are you?”
“I’m tired of your hellion.” Her voice was quieter as she must have moved away from the phone and yelled, “Yes! I’m talking about you Stiles! I don’t care that you didn’t mean to! I had dinner handled!”
“Laura,” Noah tried to draw his babysitter’s attention back to him as Peter buried his laughing face in Noah’s shoulder. “Laura, is everything okay?”
“Everything is fine,” Laura snarled. “I have homework to do, and you need to come home and take care of your spawn.” A crash sounded through the phone and Noah winced.
“We’ll be right there.” The phone hung up with a click and Noah turned to Peter. “Ready to go home?”
Peter smiled, “Ready.”
It was a relief to return home and find that everyone and everything was still in one piece, even if Laura looked five seconds away from shifting and chasing Malia and Stiles around the house until she caught one of them. Noah handed her some cash and hurried her out of the house as he thanked her for everything she’d done.
Turning and looking at Malia and Stiles as the door closed, Noah was greeted with beaming faces that glowed with innocence. The little liars. Peter shook his head and ushered the children upstairs.
“I’ll take care of baths, you should pour yourself something to drink.” Noah nodded and watched his family head upstairs before turning and pouring a glass of whiskey for him and for Peter. He settled onto the couch and waited.
The baths went quickly, courtesy of having two bathrooms the kids could use, and Peter was downstairs and sipping whiskey within half an hour.
“They went down okay?”
Peter nodded, “They might not be asleep yet, but they brushed their teeth and were both in pjs before I came down. I’ll hear if they try to get up.”
Peter hummed, “Is it supposed to be anything different than a normal bond?”
“I don’t know,” Noah shook his head and took another sip from his glass. “I wanted to know where you were at with everything before I asked Alexandreina for more information.”
“Then we should ask her.”
“You’re sure?” Noah tried his best to keep the hesitance and hopefulness out of his voice. By the look Peter shot him, he hadn’t done the best job.
“I’m sure,” Peter shifted so he was looking fully at Noah. “This isn’t just about your magic for me.”
“It’s not for me either,” Noah reached out and ran his hand up Peter’s arm. “I want this, magic or no magic, and I’m pretty sure we were headed here either way.”
“Yeah, we were.”
Peter leaned in and passed his lips against Noah’s, adding more pressure until Noah slid back against the arm of the couch and pulled Peter after him.
They left their glasses to sweat on the coffee table.
– – – –
Alexandreina was able to meet with Noah and Peter the next day while both of the kids were at school. She seemed rather amused as she sat across from them at the kitchen table. Noah resisted the urge to feel offended at her smirk.
“So what do we need to know?” Peter broke the silence, squeezing Noah’s hand.
“About the mate bond,” Alexandreina drew out the words, reminding Noah why she got along with Stiles so well. “It’s rather straightforward. When Peter gives you the mating bite, you need to reach out with your magic. It will tie you two together, and it replicates a pack bond.”
“It’s that simple?” Noah asked, a little surprised.
“It requires free will and open acceptance on both parts, but I have a feeling that’s not going to be a problem. It also requires a true bond, but again, I don’t see that being an issue.”
Noah nodded, and felt the small part of him that had been expecting bad news and bathing naked in blood in the light of the full moon relax. He couldn’t help asking though, “I’m not going to be a werewolf though, am I?”
The looks both Alexandreina and Peter gave him were probably the most amusing things he’d seen in his life, including a yellow Derek that coughed green bubbles.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Noah,” Peter said, dropping his hand. Alexandreina nodded.
“I just had to check.”
“If that’s all?” Alexandreina pushed back her chair and stood up. She gathered her belongings and put them in her bag. She walked to the door and paused. “I do have one recommendation?” She waited until they nodded. “If I were you, I might make sure I had the house to myself. You couldn’t want any prying ears. I hear these bonds get a little noisy.”
The sparkle in her eye made Noah laugh even as he flushed red. “Go.”
Alexandreina laughed and left, the door swinging closed behind her.
Peter looked at Noah and raised an eyebrow, “I believe that Talia owes me a favor or three.”
Noah’s cheeks grew warmer, but he nodded. “I’m off on Friday.”
“I’ll make the call.”
– – – –
Amusingly enough, for Noah at least, Friday was the night of the full moon. When he’d tried to suggest a different night, his worry about turning into a werewolf perhaps not completely erased, Peter had huffed and shook his head. He’d reassured Noah that the full moon would make no difference to the bond, and that some would even look upon them as blessed.
It had been hard to say no after that. Noah had made sure to get the kids all packed up early in the afternoon, making it easy to send the bags to Talia and arrange for her to pick up the kids. He’d taken the afternoon to get the supplies he was pretty sure they’d need, and then realized he’d made the worst decision ever when he ran out of things to do and Noah was forced to sit around with nothing to do.
Peter came through the door, and stopped. He looked around the room and then smiled at Noah, “The kids are gone already?”
“I had Talia pick them up from school. She said she’d have them back sometime tomorrow, not any earlier than lunch.”
“So we have plenty of time.” Peter stepped all the way into the house and the door shut loudly behind him. He took two steps and Noah met him in the middle of the living room. The kiss was hot and aggressive, a meeting of lips and teeth, and Noah felt Peter’s hands on his hips, fingers clenching in a way that promised bruises and a visual reminder of the night.
He pulled back, “Bedroom?” He panted against Peter’s lips.
Noah led Peter up the stairs to his room. Fresh sheets were on the bed and a newly opened bottle of lube on a nightstand. Peter raised an eyebrow and smirked in a way that sent a rush of heat through Noah’s stomach. “Someone’s hoping to get a little bit lucky.”
“As if you didn’t know that coming into this,” Noah pushed Peter back onto the bed and knelt over him. He was only able to initiate a kiss for a moment before Peter had reversed their positions and he was on top. He grinned down at Noah.
Noah sighed and rolled his eyes before pressing up into Peter’s mouth. This time the kiss was softer as Peter pulled back a little, stopping Noah from taking what he wanted. Noah let the kiss soften, and smiled when Peter deepened the kiss, a long slow slide of tongues and heat as Peter’s hands trailed up from his hips to his sides.
“Are you ready for this?” Peter asked, pulling back from the kiss. Noah could feel Peter’s fingers tighten in his shirt, and he nodded.
“I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t.” Noah pulled Peter down for another kiss, keeping his fingers tight on the back of his neck even as Peter pulled Noah’s shirt up out of his jeans.
“Fuck, Noah. Come on,” Peter panted. Obligingly, Noah sat up a little, and with a teasing nip, helped Peter pull off his shirt. Peter’s hit the ground moments later and Noah swept his eyes up the tight muscles of Peter’s chest. His fingers followed. Peter inhaled sharply when Noah’s fingers hit his nipples, and Noah grinned, giving them an extra tweak in response. Peter grabbed Noah’s hands and pinned them to the bed, “That’s enough of that.”
Noah’s smirk turned into a moan as Peter leaned down and licked his way up from Noah’s chest to his neck, ending with a sharp bite where his throat met his shoulder. “Peter.”
“Are you ready Noah?” Peter whispered as his hand unbuttoned Noah’s jeans, shoving them down his hips. Noah arched up against Peter, trying to shove them down with his hands before turning his attention to Peter’s own jeans. “Are you ready to be mine?”
“Yes.” Noah moaned as Peter pushed his hips against him, bare skin meeting bare skin. He could feel Peter’s cock, hard against his thigh. His hips jerked when Peter’s hand palmed his cock, sliding up the shaft and thumbing over the head. “Oh my god.”
Peter kissed Noah as he slowly jerked Noah’s cock in his hand, squeezing and twisting slightly as his palm brushed the head. The scrape of skin made Noah twitch his hips up. Peter chuckled and released Noah’s cock, making him groan until he heard the snap of the lube being opened. Noah turned his head and watched Peter squeeze lube out into his palm, carefully coating his fingers before he turned back to Noah. The gleam in Peter’s eye made Noah’s heart stutter.
Slowly, Peter slipped a hand under Noah’s thigh, bringing it up to rest on his hip. His lube-coated fingers trailed down to gently trace over Noah’s hole. The press in made Noah hiss even as he pushed down on the finger that slipped in. Peter kissed Noah as he thrust one finger, then two in, and gradually Noah could feel himself loosen. Three fingers. Noah pushed his head back against the pillow and moaned. He could feel Peter grin as he trailed his lips down Noah’s chin to his neck. The words came tumbling out his neck, and there was nothing he could do to stop them. “God, I love you.”
Peter paused at his neck and pulled back, his fingers still inside Noah. “Wha—”
Noah groaned and reached down for Peter’s hand, forcing his fingers to move, to go deeper. “Don’t act so surprised. It’s not like you didn’t know.” He felt Peter’s fingers nudge his prostate, sending pleasure humming through him and he threw his head back with a moan.
Peter didn’t move for one more moment, and then his fingers were stretching Noah, every other move brushing against his prostate. When nothing else moved, Noah opened his eyes and looked up at Peter who stared back at him.
Peter’s fingers slid forcefully into Noah, making him gasp and Peter smile, “I love you too.” He leaned down and kissed Noah deeply, claiming him in a way that felt more permanent than anything else had.
After a few breath-stealing minutes Peter moved back to his neck. He slowly nibbled there, running his tongue along the arch of his throat. Noah tilted his head further back, and then the fingers left him. He turned his head to frown at Peter, and then he felt a larger pressure resting just against his hole.
“One more time, and then no turning back,” Peter whispered. “Are you sure this is what you want?”
“Stop asking me,” Noah palmed Peter’s hips and pulled him closer, “and fuck me.” He smiled as Peter moaned against his neck, and then he was lost in the sudden feeling of fullness, completeness, as Peter pressed his cock into him.
There was a pause, allowing Noah to adjust, before Peter started thrusting. His cock dragging to the edge of Noah’s hole before pushing back in. A shift of Peter’s hips, and Noah moaned louder, relishing the feeling of Peter’s cock pressed against his prostate. The pleasure grew sharper.
“Peter!” Noah moaned. Peter kissed him in response, his hips moving faster, and the pleasure burned through Noah, trailing sparks through every nerve. “God! Peter!” The pleasure coiled to a point, and Noah could feel it grow tighter. He gripped Peter hard and felt his nails bite into Peter’s shoulders a little.
And as he felt the tip, felt himself going over the edge, Peter’s teeth were at his neck, biting harder than before, breaking the skin. An awareness rushed over him, an openness he hadn’t known in his life, and as his orgasm hit, Noah pushed back, forcing his magic along the path that Peter had created, tying them together as tightly as he could.
Peter’s teeth bit harder, and through the last shakes of his own orgasm, Noah could feel Peter follow him over. His hips stuttered, and Peter’s breath was hot against Noah’s neck as he came with a moan. They laid there panting, adjusting to the hum of a new presence sitting in the back of their mind, an awareness of a connection to someone else. And for the first time in months, Noah didn’t feel his magic fighting him, pushing to get out, sizzling along his nerves. It was like he was finally at peace in his own skin.
Waking up the next morning was a new take on an old familiar. The arm across his chest. The warm presence at his back. It was everything that told Noah he was home, and everything he had missed in the year he’d been alone after Claudia. In the years since he’d last had Peter this close to him.
He sighed and turned to face the man lying next to him. Peter’s eyes were still closed, although from the creases at the corner, Noah could tell he was awake and just fighting the sun. He smiled at the sight, reminded of the boy he used to know, and leaned in to kiss him softly. His kiss was swiftly returned, proving Peter was awake.
Noah pulled back before Peter could take it any further, “It’s morning, and by that I mean it’s almost noon. If we want a peaceful minute conscious before the kids get back we need to get a move on now.”
“Fine,” Peter blinked his eyes open as he stretched his arms above his head. Noah watched his abs twitch with appreciation. His cock also appreciated it. Peter’s nose crinkled as he inhaled, and he smiled. “Are you sure you want us to get up? I can think of so many other pleasant things we could be doing.”
Noah kissed him once more, quickly, because he couldn’t help himself, and then tapped on Peter’s stomach with a laugh. “There are some things kids don’t need to see,” he said as Peter curled in on himself with a disgruntled groan. “Now, it’s time to get up.”
“All right,” Peter sat up and pushed the comforter away. “I’m calling first dibs on the shower.”
“It’s all yours.” Noah watched his ass flex as he walked to the master bathroom.
“You know,” Peter stopped at the door and turned with a smirk, “I’m pretty sure there’s room for two in here.”
Noah scrambled to his feet and followed a laughing Peter into the bathroom.
– – – –
After the bond it was easy to move Peter into Noah’s room. He’d expected it to be hard—almost a little like an intrusion into his sacred, personal space—but the humming presence that felt like Peter was comforting. It felt like it had always been there. As it settled more and more, Noah barely noticed it beyond the extra closeness he felt from Peter.
The kids adjusted quickly too. In fact, they didn’t react at all. Noah was almost afraid of how easily Malia and Stiles adjusted, but Peter was quick to reassure him.
“We’ve been living together for months, Noah,” he said one night as they were out shopping for a few things Peter had insisted they needed for dinner. “We’ve gone on quite a few dates, and they’ve seen us together. This is the next logical step.” He reached for a bag of rice and tossed it into the cart.
“I know you’re right,” Noah sighed, “but it still feels fast. I expected some questions from Stiles.”
Peter smiled and reached up, thumbing over the lingering bite mark on Noah’s neck. “Sometimes the bond is felt by more than just the mates. He might be able to sense a pack bond, and realized that we’re family now. Plus, just because he didn’t ask you questions doesn’t mean he didn’t ask anyone questions.”
Noah shivered at his touch and nodded, accepting that Peter was probably right. He was definitely right about Stiles. Since the mating, Stiles had seemed to see it as his permission to ask anyone related to Peter anything. It had made for some awkward conversations when one of the Hales wasn’t sure what to say in response to some of Stiles’ more impertinent questions. Noah wasn’t helpful when that happened, he just shrugged and left whichever Hale it was to an inquisitive Stiles. It was usually Derek.
He turned to push the cart down the aisle, the last thing on their list was in the produce section, when his eyes met an angry Gerard Argent.
Gerard looked between Noah and Peter, his frown deepening. Noah’s hands tightened on the shopping cart as Gerard’s gaze darted toward the mate bite. “Really, Stilinski?” His words were biting, and Noah resisted the urge to bite back, as part of a werewolf pack officially now, he was pretty sure it was a law of nature that he could make it hurt.
“What do you want Mr. Argent?” He kept his voice steady and words quiet, and a hand on Peter’s arm as his mate bristled next to him.
“Nothing you can give me.” He looked scornfully at them both, “Is this how you managed to get such a favorable outcome? Manipulating the system and blinding the Council?”
“Don’t be a fool and a sore loser, Argent,” Peter countered. “You know there’s magic involved that prevents outside influence. The judgment was fair. Your daughter just happened to be a monster who deserved what was coming to her.”
“Peter,” Noah murmured, tightening his grip, “don’t let him get to you. There’s nothing he can do.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure of that,” Gerard disagreed, leaning in. “People who betray their kind, their species, always get what’s coming to them.”
“Watch your mouth!” Peter growled.
“So quick to step in and defend your whore,” Gerard smirked, “better watch yourself, mutt, or you could find yourself revealing your secret to the public at large. From what I remember, that’s grounds for hunter intervention.”
“You’ve been warned to leave the Hale Pack alone.” Noah stepped between Peter and Gerard before the anger he could feel humming along the bond could snap. He felt Peter take a step closer, his heat warming his back.
“There are other hunters out there. Hunters who want to make sure werewolves don’t step out of their place. I wouldn’t even have to lift a finger.”
Peter growled, but Noah took a step back, forcing his mate backwards as well and away from Gerard. For a moment they were pressed together from thigh to shoulder before Peter followed Noah’s lead and took a step back.
“Mr. Argent, this is a public space. We’re just trying to do our shopping so we can go home and make dinner for our kids,” Noah raised his voice a notch so anyone nearby could hear them. “I’m sorry you’re upset about your daughter, and what she’s done, but there’s nothing I can do. I would appreciate it if you let us return to our shopping so we could go home.”
Gerard’s jaw stiffened, but he took a step back. “Of course, Deputy, my apologies for keeping you from your family.” His voice dropped as he added, “I would hate for anything to happen to them while you were away.” He pushed his cart, stepped past them, and was gone before Noah could do anything more than blink.
“What was that?” He asked quietly, turning to look at Peter. His mate was frowning at the path Gerard had taken, his nostrils flared as he took a deep breath.
“I don’t know,” Peter said slowly, “but I don’t like it.”
They finished the shopping quickly without speaking, although Noah was tempted to leave the cart right there. When they got home, Malia and Stiles greeted them with cheers and complaints of unbearable, torturous hunger. Noah felt the anxiety in the pit of his stomach lessen as he smiled at them and reassured them dinner would be ready in half an hour.
Their cheers followed him into the kitchen.
Noah tried to relax as more days drifted without any word from Gerard or any movement on the part of hunters known or unknown. But every time the phone rang he jumped a little and his heart beat a little faster. He knew it was driving Peter a little mad, but he couldn’t help it.
It felt like his job was the only place where he felt any sense of relief. Here, phones were supposed to ring, and most of the time it was simple and easy to fix complaints from the community.
“Beacon Hills Sheriff Department, what can I do for you?”
“Yes, this is Principal Stacy Kim from Beacon Hills Elementary. Our fourth grade class is on a field trip to the zoo, and we have a student who can’t be accounted for. The zoo has closed their exits and entrances and we’ve already completed one search, but we haven’t located the student. We think it’s time to issue an alert.” The voice on the other end was obviously a little stressed, but each word was spoken evenly as they informed him of the situation.
“Of course,” Noah waved his hand at the other deputy on duty and tucked the phone between his ear and his shoulder. He wrote “missing kid” on the notepad in front of him and held it up so Tara could see it. She nodded and got on the phone, calling in reinforcements to start a search. “Can you give me the student’s name and description?”
“His name is…” she paused and Noah heard papers shuffling through the phone. When she came back on her voice was hesitant as she sounded out the name. “…Mieczyslaw Stilinski, but he goes by Stiles. He’s nine years old, four feet eight inches tall, and has dark hair.”
Noah dropped the phone. The bang of it hitting the floor startled him and he grabbed the cord, pulling it back up.
“Deputy? Deputy, is everything okay?” Principal Kim’s voice was tinny before he was able to bring the phone back to his ear.
“Yes, everything’s fine,” his breathing sounded harsh to his ears and he tried to push his fear down. “Why haven’t you contacted his parents?”
“How did you-” Principal Kim was obviously startled, her voice louder before she caught herself and her voice steadied. “They’re our next phone call. We wanted to get law enforcement on this before we contacted his parents. Every minute counts in a child abduction, and we know that.”
“You don’t need to call Stiles’ parents,” he gritted out, reluctant to admit that was probably the right choice, “this is Noah Stilinski. Now tell me everything you know about when he went missing.”
Noah ignored the principal’s protests as he put the phone on speaker phone before placing it back in the cradle. “I really don’t think—”
“I’m the only officer available to take this call,” Noah interrupted her, “give me the information so we can find my son faster.”
Perhaps he’d been a little too aggressive because her voice stuttered to a stop before continuing quietly, “He was last seen when they were at the Bengal tiger exhibit in the Asian Continent section. The tigers were just added, and he was very excited to see them, according to his teacher.”
“Who was watching him?” Noah resisted the urge to bark the demand at her.
“We had parent volunteers mixed in with the teaching staff. A letter was sent home asking for volunteers.” Kim’s voice was quiet and just this side of accusing, and Noah resisted the urge to reach through the phone and strangle her judgmental ass. The desk rocked under his hands.
“I did read the permission slip,” he clenched his fists before relaxing them. His desk stilled. “Who was with Stiles?”
“Melissa McCall, she’s a nurse and the parent of one of Stiles’ classmates. She said he was with them when they left, but when she was taking attendance at the next exhibit he was gone.”
“How long has he been missing?”
“Less than thirty minutes. The moment Melissa realized something was wrong she called it in. The zoo shut within five minutes.”
“Okay,” a hand tapped Noah’s shoulder, and he looked up to see Kane standing behind him. “The sheriff’s here, and he’s going to take over the call.”
He didn’t wait for the principal’s acknowledgement before he was shoving back his seat and stepping away. Kane squeezed his shoulder before sitting down and asking Kim more questions.
Noah walked away running his hands over his head. In his peripheral he registered more officers arriving as he walked out the front of the station. Around the corner and out of sight he dropped down to rest on his heels, clutched his head in his hands and resisted the urge to scream through his teeth. Instead, he breathed deeply, trying to catch his breath and quiet the panic.
In his pocket his phone rang.
“Noah? What’s wrong?” Peter’s voice was sharp, and Noah let the familiar tone wash over him as he sagged against the wall of the station.
“It’s Stiles, he’s missing.”
“He was at the zoo with his class, on a field trip, and he’s gone. They can’t find him.” On the other end of the call, Peter was swearing up and down, and Noah smiled, despite everything, glad to have someone on his side.
“The zoo. Okay, I’m on my way there.”
“What?” Noah sat up, startled. “Peter, let the department handle this.”
“Noah, I’m worth ten of your officers, no offense. If I get there before them, I might be able to figure out what happened, and who took him.” Through the phone Noah could hear the loud roar of an engine. “Ten minutes.”
“All right,” Noah took a deep breath. “You call me, when you get there. If you find something, I want to know.”
“Of course.” Peter’s voice was warm, “He belongs to both of us now, Noah. We’re going to get him back.”
“You’re right,” Noah breathed. “Okay. I love you. Find him.”
“I love you, too. I’ll call when I get there.”
The click was loud in Noah’s ear, and he dropped his phone to the ground next to him. Feeling helpless, he sat there, listening to the officers moving around, the noise of a search getting underway, and counted every minute that passed.
Before he reached nine, the phone was ringing again, and a fury was burning through his veins that didn’t belong to him. Noah answered the phone, and Peter’s voice was biting and furious in his ear, “It was Argent. I got there, and all I could smell was Gerard Argent.”
– – – –
A few quick phone calls mobilized the Hales, and after Kane kicked a frantic Noah out of the station, everyone met at his house. Jamie Hale, a fellow deputy from the department and a Hale cousin, was their source inside the office, and was running the investigation. It was her quick thinking that led them to looping in the department to the Argent connection. Gerard Argent was on record threatening the Hales, and over the past months it had become clear to the whole town that Noah was as much a Hale as one could get without a ring.
The alarming visit to the school a month and a half ago also hadn’t helped.
“The department is looking into all possible Argents in town at the moment, although it looks like it’s just Gerard, Chris, Chris’s wife Victoria, and their daughter Allison,” Jamie told them over the phone. “I have my partner looking into all properties the Argents have their name on, he’ll get them straight to us. Sheriff Kane knows we’re running this in the background. As long as there’s an officer on sight, and we run it as clean as we can, we’ll be in the clear.”
“I’ve informed the Council,” Talia replied. “Needless to say, they are not pleased, and I’m sure the Argents are going to find themselves running into a wall of bricks with their movements for the rest of the century.”
A thrill of satisfaction hummed through Noah, as well as a twinge of fear. People with nothing left to lose were rarely rational, and he hated to think of his son in the hands of a man so desperate.
“Have we actually spoken to any of the Argents?” Noah asked. The majority of the Hales looked at him, confusion evident on his face. “What? There has to be a reasonable member of the family somewhere. They can’t all be batshit crazy.”
“I wouldn’t put it past them,” Peter said drily.
“Well, I’m not risking it.” Noah stood up and walked over to the landline. He picked up the phone, grabbed a phone book and flipped through until he found Chris Argent’s number. From their few interactions, he’d seemed the most stable, and he had a child Stiles’ age. Surely he’d be willing to help them. Stiles was human after all, not that it should really matter. After he dialed the number he waited, the phone ringing, and every moment felt like a year. He stared at the Hales, all of whom sat in their chairs tensely. Fifteen adults, and none of them moved an inch.
“Hello?” The voice that answered was hesitant, and male, but it didn’t sound like Gerard.
“Chris Argent?” He waited for an agreement before continuing, “This is Noah Stilinski. I need to ask you a few questions about your family, and your father in particular.”
“I don’t think you’re the best person in the department to ask any questions.” Chris’s voice was blunt, and slightly angry. “My family has instructions to avoid your’s; it would be great if you did the same.”
“I’m not calling on behalf of the department, and I have reason to believe that your family isn’t keeping their distance as much as they should.” Noah did his best not to respond to the anger he heard, but it was stretching his patience.
“If you have a problem with my family, perhaps you should reach out through the Council,” Chris’s voice turned silky smooth, and Noah could almost imagine the smirk that spread across his face. “I would hate to be accused of breaking the rules the Council set up for us.”
“There isn’t time for that!” Noah yelled, and he watched a few of the Hales shift a little, a short step from jumping. “My son is missing! He was last seen on a school field trip, and a reliable source says your father was there! What do you know?” The other end of the line buzzed with silence. “Damn it Argent! You have a child, don’t be a jackass. Where could your father have taken him?”
Chris Argent sighed, “One moment.” Through the phone Noah could hear papers rustling and objects being moved. There were a few clicks, like from a keyboard, and the slight rattle of a safe’s lock being turned. Then Chris was back, his voice clear through the phone, “You’re sure he was the person who took your son?”
“Absolutely. There is no doubt whatsoever.”
From the living room, Peter waving a hand caught Noah’s attention, and his mate mouthed “Video recording” at him.
Noah redirected his attention back to the phone call, “We have him on tape with Stiles, leaving the zoo.”
Chris sighed, “It looks like my father was in the process of buying a warehouse by the train tracks…” he paused, hesitating before continuing, “I know he has your son, and that you’re going to do what it takes to bring him home safely…But he’s my father. Please—”
“Be careful?” Noah asked sarcastically, rolling his eyes. “If Gerard comes peacefully, he’ll be brought in, but if he puts up a fight. If he threatens the people who are just trying to save a child, he will be handled like a dangerous subject, and they will defend themselves.”
“I understand,” Chris’s voice was soft, and Noah frowned, not liking the tone of the hunter’s voice.
“Do not let your father know we are coming for him,” he ordered. “If you in any way alert him to our arrival, you will be seen as an accomplice, and you will be facing the same charges as your father.”
“Now give me the address of the warehouse.” After Chris rattled off the address and Noah wrote it down, the phone hung up with a click, and Noah dropped his back into the cradle.
“Are we ready?” A series of fierce smiles met his words, and Noah smiled back, a thrill of bloodthirstiness that he was mostly sure didn’t belong to just him sung through his veins. “Then let’s go.”
It didn’t take them long to reach the warehouse, which was luckily in a quiet, out-of-the-way part of the train hub. Noah had driven his car and the Hales had followed closely behind in their own vehicles, not wanting to risk drawing any unwanted attention by shifting.
They came to a stop a few blocks away from the warehouse and got out, ready to go over the plan one more time.
“Noah and the rest of the humans are going to stay out here, and if anyone tries to run, you’re going to make sure they don’t escape. The rest of us will go in and try to flush them out and we will find Stiles.” Talia’s voice was firm and everyone nodded, agreeing with the plan they’d come up with before getting in the cars and heading out. “All right, let’s go.”
As silently as possible, they all moved closer, covering the remaining blocks to the warehouse in a few minutes. When they arrived they stayed behind a building as Talia sent her youngest brother, Connor, out to get a better idea of what was going on.
“There are thirteen heartbeats,” Peter whispered as they waited. “It sounds like some of them are outside, but Connor will make sure, the rest are inside…One of them is definitely Stiles.”
Noah felt a rush of relief at knowing where his son was, that he was alive, followed by a heady amount of anger. His fingers tingled. Connor slipped back next to them.
“There’s three people outside, the rest are inside. It looks like they’re all armed. Based on the files we’ve received from the Council, some of them are definitely Argent hunters.” Connor’s words were met with growls and murmurs of frustration. They’d gotten numerous updates on Argent movements, and none of them had been toward Beacon Hills. Somewhere along the way, someone had definitely dropped the ball, and it looked like Stiles was the one paying for it.
“Are we ready?” Talia paused until they all nodded, and Noah’s fingers went from tingling to burning. “Let’s go.”
The werewolves shifted, and slunk out, keeping to the shadows. Noah waved Sarah, Joel, and Tanner, three of the remaining Hales one way, while he, Paul, and Cassandra spread out the other way. Each of them was armed, ready to intercede if necessary. Although Noah doubted it would be. As much as he wanted to exercise some of his anger at the hunters himself, he had a feeling the werewolves were going to have everything in hand.
It was one of the parts of the plan he had argued against, and been shot down on. He’d wanted to head in, and find his son, while Peter and Talia had insisted he stay behind, Peter promising he’d find Stiles and bring him out safely.
He settled where he could see one of the men left standing guard outside and waited.
Five minutes after the Hales headed in, the sound of gunshots echoed from the warehouse, and Noah’s shoulders tensed. The man he’d been watching turned to look at the warehouse door, and when another round of gunshots rang out he headed inside. From the corner of his eye, he could see Paul, the Hale closest to him, also tense. He raised his gun, waiting.
The first person to emerge from the warehouse was alone, fully human, and not one of the Hales. Noah stood up from his spot and yelled, “Beacon Hills Sheriff Department! Drop your weapon and put your hands up!” The woman looked at him, and then turned to run in the opposite direction, Noah tightened his grip on his gun before relaxing it. She was headed in the direction of Joel, one of the more fit Hale adults who regularly trained with the werewolves.
He kept an eye on the door to the warehouse and the other on the woman. Sure enough, Joel was able to bring her down easily, without firing a shot. He kicked the gun out of her hand and zip-tied her hands together behind her back before pushing her toward Sarah who was waiting farther back. Sarah grabbed her and settled her down out of sight.
“He—” The shout was cut off as something muffled the noises the woman was making. Probably a dish cloth of some sort. They all had them, wanting to keep the hunters inside as unaware as possible.
The echo of gunshots faded, and Noah moved closer to the building, wanting to be as close as possible when his son came out.
But when his son came out, he wasn’t alone. Gerard Argent dragged Stiles out of the warehouse, holding a gun to his head. Stiles wasn’t moving, but as Noah moved closer he could make out the slow rise and fall of his son’s chest.
“Stop where you are!” He yelled when he was fifteen feet away from Gerard. Argent stopped, but his grip on Stiles noticeably tightened, forcing a groan from him.
“I will shoot him!” Gerard moved so Stiles’ body was covering him, blocking any shot Noah could have tried to take.
“Why are you doing this?” Noah asked, trying to distract Gerard. “He’s a human child!”
“And his father is involved with a monster!” His next words are drowned out by a fresh round of gunshots, and no one else comes out of the warehouse. Noah pushed down the slight worry he was feeling when Peter didn’t follow his son out.
“The only monster I see here is you. You and your daughter have killed hundreds of people!”
“They aren’t people, they’re animals!” Spit flew out of Gerard’s mouth, and as Noah stepped closer he could see the angry red of his face. “Anyone who would side with them gives up the right to be called human!”
“Even your own family?” Noah asked, waiting for an opening. “How do you think we found you here? Your son gave you up!”
“My son is weak! He gets that from his spineless mother. Now stop moving or I shoot him!” Gerard’s grip tightened again, and Stiles head bobbed against the man’s shoulder. Noah looked for a moment at Gerard’s head. Any other day, any other situation, and he would take the shot, trust all of his training and believe that he could save the hostage. But right now, with the adrenaline rushing through his veins and the magic that seemed to be beating through his head, he couldn’t risk it. He lowered his gun and stopped moving.
“Just let him go, Gerard.”
“And let one of your animals take me,” Gerard laughed, a harsh noise that echoed. More gunshots rang in the background. Not as many as before.
“No one needs to die today.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” Gerard stepped away from the warehouse and toward the alley that ran next to it. Noah’s veins ran cold and he followed Gerard’s progress, keeping the same distance. He knew he couldn’t let Gerard get too far, not with his son. What may have been some attempt to draw out the Hales had turned into a fight for survival, and if he let his son out of his sight he knew he wouldn’t see him alive again.
“Gerard, just stop. Let Stiles go.” Noah felt his hands begin to burn, and in the distance he heard the rumble of thunder.
“What can you do? Your monster is occupied. How are you going to stop me?” Gerard sneered at him, and Noah watched his fingers tighten on the trigger.
He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and looked deep inside himself for the source of the thunder. It waited, in a way it never had before. He pulled a thread gently, and infused it with his will, wishing and believing his son would be safe.
And then he called for a storm.
The hair on his arms rose as the air practically crawled with lightning. The thunder rumbled and roared above them, and the sky turned black as clouds blocked out the sun.
Gerard looked frantically between the sky and Noah, and he smiled at him, a fierce smile that he hoped looked as threatening and angry as he felt.
“Stay back! I’m warning you!” Gerard yelled as he dragged Stiles closer to the alley.
“I don’t think you’re in any place to warn anyone.” The storm hit its pinnacle as Noah’s anger spiked, and around them, lightning crashed to the ground. Noah focused on the inner light he felt inside him, the magic that echoed the storm, and willed the lightning to go where he wished it, and only where he wished it.
A single bolt of lightning split the sky and landed where Gerard was holding Stiles. As the hunter’s body lit with the blinding white light Noah reached out and willed the gun to drop. A moment later it clattered to the ground, and Gerard and Stiles both dropped with it.
The storm lightened and Noah hurled himself towards his son, pulling him away from the charred body of Gerard Argent. He ran his hands over Stiles, checking him for any injuries, but he was completely unharmed. Breathing a sigh of relief, Noah pulled Stiles into his lap, rubbing his son’s head.
The sound of the fighting in the warehouse came back to him, a sound he hadn’t registered from the moment he’d seen Gerard with his son, and he waited, trusting the Hales to cover him as he protected his son.
After ten minutes everything was silent, and Peter exited the warehouse. He walked directly to Noah and Stiles, dropping to his knees beside them.
“We got them all,” he said as the rest of the Hale werewolves came out of the warehouse. Most of them headed for the cars at a jog, but Talia remained behind, a cell phone in her hand. “Talia’s calling Jamie, she’s going to report that we found Stiles. We got a phone call from Gerard, and he told us where he’d left Stiles.”
“Covering all our bases?”
“No one wants to get you in trouble,” Peter reassured him, “and while Kane might know, we don’t want anyone poking their nose into this. It’s a mess already.”
“And the bodies?”
Noah shook his head at Peter’s words, “Like anyone would believe that.”
“It’s not like we have much of a choice. There’s not really anything else that could explain what happened in there.”
“Sarah has one of the hunters tied up.” Noah waved his hand in her general direction, too tired to do anything else. All the adrenaline he’d been relying on since Stiles had been taken was leaving fast, and he could feel a crash coming. In the distance he could hear the approaching sirens. “Stiles needs to go to the hospital and get checked out.”
“I’ll go with you,” Peter promised, reaching out to grab one of Stiles’ hands. His son shifted at the pressure, rolling a little in Noah’s arms.
“Thanks.” Noah watched the police vehicles pull up, followed by an ambulance. The emergency workers climbed out, and Noah waved them over. As they lifted Stiles onto the carrying board, Noah felt his heart clench a little and he followed them into the ambulance, Peter close behind. The doors closed after them, blocking his view of the warehouse lit up with the reds and blues of the police lights.
Peter shifted uncomfortably in his seat in Talia’s office, annoyed that he was even there. Peter had gone with Noah to the hospital, but after they’d been reassured Stiles was okay, no serious damage done, Noah had insisted he go with Talia. His sister had been calling practically non-stop beginning an hour after they’d arrived at the hospital. The Council had responded to their notification about the Argent’s infraction, and were eager to handle the situation.
They’d arranged for Gunilla and Oliver Bryant to fly out immediately to handle the situation, and everyone had met in Talia’s work office. It was private enough they wouldn’t be disturbed, and she was busy enough as a lawyer no one would find it strange to see faces they didn’t know entering.
Across from Peter, Chris Argent sat, his face drawn and visibly weary. From what Peter understood, he’d spent the past few hours being questioned by the sheriff as they attempted to find out if he had anything to do with Gerard’s apparent mental break.
“This has gotten out of hand,” Gunilla began, her feathers rested violently, and seemed to get sharper in front of Peter’s eyes. He wondered if it was a purposeful reaction, or if the valkyrie couldn’t help but let her irritation show.
“We agree,” Talia said firmly. She sat behind her desk, a position of power, and she wielded it effectively as she stood. “The Hale Pack has done everything they could to return to the status quo after Katherine Argent attempted to murder us all in our sleep. We accepted the Council’s ruling, but it is clear the Argent hunters have not.”
“No, they haven’t,” Oliver said slowly, studying Chris Argent as he shifted in his seat.
“The Hale Pack shouldn’t be punished for protecting our own, especially against a hunter family with a known grudge and history of brutal action against us,” Talia continued. “We gave them every opportunity to peacefully end the situation. They refused.”
“And you still left some of them alive,” Oliver mused, his fingers tucked thoughtfully under his chin as he tapped his lip softly. “That’s more than I would have done.” The smile he gave to Talia was rather bloodthirsty, and despite himself, Peter felt a flicker of attraction for the man. He wasn’t dead after all.
“The Council has agreed that the Hale Pack will not be punished for this action,” Gunilla stated. She looked at Talia challengingly, “As long as it is the only time we see such actions taken. Anything else would be a pattern, and such a pattern is good for no supernatural.”
“And the Argents?” Peter asked, leaning forward. “They have continually ignored their own code and now they have attempted to kill a member of our pack. A child.” He hissed the last words, looking for a reaction in Chris Argent. He wasn’t disappointed as the man flinched.
“Based on the police interviews, and our own methods,” Oliver answered, his voice silky smooth and vaguely threatening, “we can say Chris Argent had nothing to do with his father’s actions. However, he is under review, and official probation. We will have him retrained under a trusted hunter family. One of our choosing. As to the rest of the Argent hunters, they will be disbanded. They will be spread among the remaining hunter families. It is clear that they cannot be trusted, and so they shall not hunt alone.”
“A magical geas will be placed on the Argent family, preventing them and their hunters from ever forming a clan of their own again.” Gunilla’s feathers took a distinctly metallic sheen. “The Argent hunter line has ended. Be grateful your lives were not as well.”
Chris Argent flinched but nodded. Under the weight of so many stares he didn’t say anything.
“The Argents will remove themselves from the Hale territory and report to the Council chambers as soon as the police allow them freedom to leave. Don’t worry,” the words Oliver spoke were directed towards Talia, who had started a rumble in her chest. A growl that threatened to escape. “I will remain here until they are given permission to leave, and I will escort them directly to Council land. The Hale Pack has nothing to fear.”
“Thank you,” Talia said, sitting back into her seat. “Is there anything else you have for us?”
“No.” Oliver Bryant stood, followed quickly by Gunilla and more slowly by Christ Argent. “We will take our leave. Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we handle these matters.”
“Of course,” Talia smiled, although to Peter’s eyes it was more of a grimace than a smile. “The Hale Pack is always happy to cooperate with the Council in any way we can.”
“I’m sure.” The Council members and Argent quickly left, the door closing shut behind them and Talia slumped in her chair with a huff.
“So hopefully that’s that.”
“Perhaps. Of course sentry rotations-”
“Will be increased and everyone will be on guard.” Talia waved her hand wearily at Peter. “Go. I have this handled.” When Peter tried to argue she glared at him. “I am the alpha, Peter. I believe you have a daughter who might want some comfort and reassurance.”
Peter sighed, but nodded. They’d called Malia on the way to the hospital to let her know they’d found Stiles, but they’d left her with the rest of the pack, not wanting to risk her agitation causing her to shift in the hospital. “I do, and Noah should be bringing Stiles home soon as well.”
“Then I don’t know what you’re waiting for.”
Peter smirked and shrugged, leaving the office quickly to get his daughter and go home, where the rest of the family would be waiting for them.
– – – –
No one was in the house when Noah and Stiles pulled up. The lights were dark, and Peter’s car wasn’t in the driveway. Noah sighed and put the car in park. Next to him, Stiles was snoring lightly in the passenger seat, his arm wrapped in a cast, and a bandage over a cut on his forehead; other than that, Stiles was injury-free.
He climbed out to the car and walked around it, quietly opening the passenger door. He reached in and pulled Stiles into his arms, careful not to jostle his arm or wake him. Stiles’ only response was to grumble a little and snuffle into Noah’s shoulder. He carried his son up the front steps to the house and into the living room. He paused, looking between the stairs and the couch before turning and settling himself into the comfort of the cushions that smelled faintly like Stiles, Malia, and a pack of chips. Family.
He sat there, holding Stiles in his lap and listening to him breathe, relishing the solid feeling of his alive son in his arms. Perhaps half an hour after they’d arrived, the front door opened again and he heard scrambling feet heading toward them. Noah turned his head to the sound without moving his arms or waking Stiles. He smiled at Malia as she climbed up onto the couch and burrowed into his side, Peter close behind.
“Everything okay?” Malia asked quietly, peering over at Stiles.
“He’s fine,” Noah told her, looking up at Peter. “Just a broken arm and a minor concussion. He’ll be running around like normal in a couple of weeks.”
“Good.” Malia reached over and grabbed Stiles’ uninjured hand and rested her head against Noah’s shoulder. The slight touch made Stiles stir, and he slowly blinked open his eyes, looking blearily between Noah, Malia, and Peter who’d come to sit down next to them.
“Are we home?” His words were slightly slurred, and he tried to rub his eyes with his cast, only to end up frowning at it. Noah bit back a laugh.
“We’re home,” Noah reassured him.
“And Peter and Malia are here?”
Noah nodded, “They’re both here.”
Noah hesitated, looking at Peter over Malia’s head. Peter raised an eyebrow at him, and Noah shrugged and nodded.
“For good,” Peter answered. He reached out and wrapped an arm around Malia, his hand ending up on Noah’s shoulder where he ran his fingers through Stiles hair.
“I’m glad,” Stiles yawned. He burrowed more firmly into Noah. “I’m glad they’re gonna be Stilinskis now.”
Noah froze, but before he could say anything Peter chuckled, “Actually, I’m pretty sure you and your dad are going to be Hales now.”
Stiles shook his head, “Nuh-uh. You’re gonna be Stilinskis. Me and Malia talked about it.”
“Really?” Noah asked, amused, as Malia nodded.
“Yeah,” Malia said, looking up at Peter and Noah. “Stiles can’t be a Stiles if he’s not a Stilinski, it wouldn’t make sense. So we’ve got to be Stilinskis too.”
“It doesn’t quite work like that,” Peter tried to argue, but Malia and Stiles shook their heads at him.
“I think you might have to give in on this one,” Noah told him, smiling, “they seem pretty sure about this.”
“We’ll see,” Peter frowned. Unable to resist, Noah leaned over Malia and kissed his mate, gently and quickly, ignoring the grumbles Malia and Stiles both made.
“Dad!” Stiles moaned, pushing against Noah’s arm. “Come on, we’re right here.”
“You’re the one who wanted us to move in,” Peter said, “you’re just going to have to get used to it.”
“Maybe I didn’t think this through,” Stiles grumbled, crossing his arms against his chest.
Noah laughed and squeezed his son tight, happy to have his family with him, safe and sound. From the smile Peter sent his way, he knew his mate felt exactly the same.