Family Ties – 1/2 – penumbria

Title: Family Ties
Author: penumbria
Fandom: Teen Wolf, Charmed
Genre: Crossover, Drama, Family, Hurt/Comfort, Paranormal/Supernatural, Shifters
Relationship(s): Stiles Stilinski & Noah Stilinski, Stiles Stilinski & Cole Turner, Stiles Stilinski & Peter Hale, Stiles Stilinski & Hale Pack
Content Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Hate Crimes/Hate Speech, Major Character Death, Violence – Graphic, Violence – Domestic and/or Against Children, References to former canon rape(s), canon torture of werewolves/demons, canon level violence, character bashing, major and minor character canon and non-canon death(s)
Author Notes: Disclaimer: I do not own Teen Wolf or Charmed and make no money from this. Thank you to my awesome beta, KHowler. Also thanks to Kylia Toreel for help with bouncing ideas. And many thanks to the amazing Mizu Sage for the incredible art. Thank you to Keira, Jilly, and the mod team for their wonderful work in creating this Bang. Timeline: Teen Wolf – story begins at the end of Season 2; Charmed – post series (mostly ignores comics/epilogue other than children’s names) Many of the warnings are for canon attitudes and actions within Teen Wolf and Charmed.
Beta: KHowler
Word Count: 63,190
Summary: When Gerard Argent had Stiles kidnapped after the championship lacrosse game, things went a bit differently. A flailing stumble after being hit by a geriatric rather than a direct fall triggered dramatic changes in Stiles, leading to the discovery of a heritage he never could have guessed at. And family connections he wasn’t sure he wanted.
Artist: Mizu Sage



INTERLUDE

Phoebe sighed internally as she climbed the stairs to the attic of Halliwell Manor, following her sisters Piper and Paige. She was exhausted. It was so hard to find a comfortable position to sleep in. Still, Paige had an unknown demon attack her most recent charge, and they needed to check the Book of Shadows for any information.

As she entered through the attic door, something Phoebe had done hundreds or thousands of times over the past two decades, she uncharacteristically stumbled. Her large stomach changed her center of gravity in ways that still threw her off even during her third pregnancy. She froze as her power of premonition slammed her into a series of visions.

A young woman’s body lay on a forest bed, her eyes were open and staring blankly at the sky. Her body was in two pieces, and her internal organs were visible at both ends, and her blood soaked the surrounding ground.

A huge, furred thing with glowing red eyes leaped toward a prone figure on the ground. The darkness of the night time forest made it hard to make out any details about either figure.

Two boys, teenagers, walked through the woods, a flashlight in the taller one’s hand, laughing and joking.

Dogs pulled at leashes and kept their noses to the ground against fallen leaves while khaki legged people followed. Lights, red and blue, flashed in the distance, police cars.

A body, in the dark forest, tumbled down a hill. Flashlight beams hit trees and an empty forest floor.

Phoebe exhaled sharply and shook her head.

Paige laid a hand on her shoulder. “What did you see? Was it the demon?”

Phoebe shook her head. “I don’t think so. It was really fragmented. I haven’t had a vision that disconnected since the first year or so after we unbound our powers after Gram’s death.”

Piper tilted her head. “What did you see?”

Phoebe frowned. “Nothing to suggest a place or even a time, other than night. I’m not even sure if it was a vision of the past, the near present, or the future. I know it isn’t happening right this minute unless it was in Australia or Europe or something because it isn’t dark in the US, and won’t be for several hours. But it could be referencing tonight. Or it could have been showing last night or last week or last month or last year or next week, month, or year. I don’t know. I’m not even sure it was all happening at once. Some of it was, but I’m not sure about the rest. I’m not sure it was even shown to me chronologically.”

Phoebe blew out a breath. “I’m not even positive who the innocent is. There was a young woman dead, torn in half. Two teenage boys, and some police officers, though I only saw the lights from their cars and their legs, and some kind of demon with red eyes and fur.”

Piper nodded. “Well, let’s look in the Book for your furry demon and Paige’s lavender demon.”

Paige waved her hand at Phoebe. “You first. Your vision seemed urgent, and my charge is safe for now. What triggered it, anyway? What were you touching? Or thinking about?”

Phoebe walked toward the pedestal that held the Book of Shadows. She shrugged. “I was touching the doorframe of the attic door. And the floor of the attic with my feet. And I was thinking how tired I was and how awkward sleeping is when you’re this pregnant. I can’t imagine how any of those would trigger -“

As Phoebe’s hand touched the Book to open it, her powers activated again, and her sisters watched as she jerked and gazed into the distance, knowing she wasn’t seeing the attic wall but another vision.

Four minutes later, Phoebe slumped against the pedestal as the visions released her. “Okay, so these are definitely past events. Or definitely future events. Or some past events and some future events.”

Paige snorted, “That’s helpful.”

Phoebe pushed herself upright. “Well, it isn’t the near present. It is not happening now or just tonight. Because while the latest visions were just as disjointed, they were also obviously distant in time from the ones earlier. At least by a few days or weeks.”

Phoebe waved her hands around and gestured to describe the demon. “I saw the furry red-eyed demon again. It almost looked like an animal but twisted and deformed. And I saw those two teen boys, but they weren’t in the woods, they were in a school. There were lockers along the wall, but it was nighttime, there wasn’t much light.”

Phoebe ran her hand over her face. “And there was a man running from something and getting on a bus. And a man lying dead in some kind of store. I could see a cash register and shelves, but it was so quick. And a girl bleeding on a school field, a football field, I guess. She had gashes. I doubt she lived.”

Phoebe tugged at her hair in frustration. “Also, there was a quick shot of a woman, she had red hair, and her body was in the trunk of a car. I heard gunshots in the woods and growling. And then I saw someone on fire and screaming.”

Phoebe sat on the sofa and slumped forward. “In times like these, I really appreciate the idea of Harry Potter’s Pensieve. I couldn’t make out any details. No idea of a place. It is almost like something was trying to block my vision.”

Piper sat next to Phoebe. “The demon? Trying to keep us – or anyone with similar powers – away? But you’re too powerful and got something anyway.”

Phoebe snorted. “Not really anything useful.”

“We’ve saved innocents with less information before.”

Paige opened the Book and began paging through it. “But we don’t even know who the innocent or innocents are. And did this stuff already happen? All of it? Any of it? Are we supposed to stop it? Or kind of avenge it? Stop the demon who did it? And where was it? In San Francisco? In California? In the United States? Canada? Europe?”

Piper frowned. “It is really rare that we get called to deal with something that isn’t relatively close by unless it is literally world-changing.”

Phoebe shook her head. “But it has happened. And with Paige able to orb and me able to beam, thanks to Coop. It could easily be on the other side of the world. I don’t think it was in the city, though. The forest looked pretty large, the trees, I mean. And dense.”

Paige sighed. “One place down out of a million possibilities.”

Piper nodded. “Well, I can ask Leo if the furry demon sounds familiar. He’s human now, but he still recalls stuff.”

Her sisters nodded. Paige stopped paging through the Book and looked at her sisters. “I found my lavender demon, and it’s a pretty simple potion vanquish. But, I’m still stuck on why entering the attic and then touching the cover of the Book caused the visions. It isn’t like when you touched a page in the Book, and it referenced the demon. It was the cover. Your hands weren’t even close to the pages. So why?”

Phoebe shook her head, “I don’t know.”

 

Chapter One

Stiles Stilinski sat up after his tumble down the stairs and rubbed his arm where he had landed on it. He was fairly sure he hadn’t broken or fractured it. He had enough experience with that due to his general lack of coordination. Still, it would definitely heavily bruise, maybe even a bone bruise, which would suck.

Stiles rose to his feet and peered into the darkened basement room, not even able to make out shapes. He heard sounds, though, which made him highly wary. Just six months ago, he would have assumed that maybe the Argents had a dog, a pet, or maybe a rodent problem. But now that he knew about the supernatural, his imagination had expanded quite a bit. When dealing with a Hunter family like the Argents, he would never assume something would be innocuous and normal.

He ran his hand along the wall, hopeful, and after a minute, found a switch. Metaphorically crossing his fingers, he flipped it, hoping it didn’t release a creature worse than the Kanima on him to kill him. It didn’t, but what happened might have been worse. The lights lit the room and revealed Erica and Boyd hanging by their wrists from the ceiling. Their mouths were covered in duct tape, and as he watched, they struggled uselessly against the restraints, which Stiles assumed were coated in wolfsbane and/or mountain ash.

As he approached his two werewolf classmates, Erica whined in her throat, and Boyd thrashed and jerked his head frantically. Stiles found out why when he tried to undo the restraints on Erica’s wrists.

Stiles jerked back with a hiss of pain from the shock. Erica’s eyes widened as their eyes met, and she blinked frantically. Stiles heard a loathed voice behind him drawl, “They were trying to warn you it was electrified.”

Stiles spun around and glared at Gerard Argent, the patriarch of the clan, and currently also the high school principal, whose goons had kidnapped Stiles from his lacrosse game.

The old man smiled in such a way that reminded Stiles of a cartoon shark. The old man monologued like a Bond villain but without quite as much revealed as Stiles would like. Nonetheless, Stiles was a smartass, he took pride in it, and he felt compelled to snark at his kidnapper.

Gerard didn’t appreciate the attack on his age and manhood and backhanded the mouthy teen. The fist caught him right on the cheek, his teeth caught against his lip, and split it, and he flailed as he tried to keep his feet under him.

In another world, Stiles would have fallen to the floor, and the beat down would have continued for some time. But here, Stiles’ flailing actually worked, briefly, and he stumbled backward, still upright. Unfortunately for him.

Stiles was still very close to his two bound classmates, and as he stumbled away from Gerard, he fell against Erica. The shock had him scrambling away, his feet tangled in on themselves, as he fell to the floor, his torso landing against Boyd’s bound feet and legs. Stiles tried to push away, but his lacrosse jersey had gotten snagged and tangled with the chains.

The electricity coursing through Boyd and into Stiles weakened the boy’s muscles, and he jerked in spasms. The voltage needed to keep a werewolf from shifting, or healing was too high for a human to bear for long without major consequences or even death.

Gerard chuckled from across the room. “Not so mouthy now, are you, boy? I think this will work even better than my original plan. And it’s all your own doing. Maybe finding your body will give your Daddy a heart attack and keep him from meddling, too.”

Stiles shook in pain, but the threat to his father was enough to shake his mind loose. And he wanted to protect his dad, to stop Gerard, to make Gerard feel the pain he gave to others.

Stiles turned his head and faced Gerard, not even sure why he flung his hand out towards the old man. Gerard jerked back when his eyes met Stiles’ and then his mouth dropped open in shock as an energy ball left Stiles’ hand and struck Gerard right over the heart. It blasted through his body before it hit the generator against the wall behind the man, shorting it out, causing the basement lights to flicker madly for several seconds.

Gerard grabbed his chest and collapsed to his knees. His face spasmed, and he keeled over onto his side, eyes staring blankly at the three teenagers.

Stiles lay panting and shaking, still tangled in Boyd’s restraints as Erica growled and yanked herself free and landed on the floor in front of him. Her eyes were glowing gold, and she seemed to be caught partway between a partial transformation and a full-on beta shift. She reached out clawed hands for Stiles, who inadvertently whimpered.

Erica paused and moved slower, telegraphing her movements towards the lacrosse jersey and its connection to Boyd’s restraints.

Stiles panted and hissed out, “Just cut it, the shirt.”

Erica nodded and sliced through the material and caught Stiles before he tumbled the rest of the way to the floor.

Boyd, now not having to worry about injuring Stiles further, wolfed out and freed himself as Erica had. The two betas were kneeling on the floor to either side of the human boy.

Stiles was staring past them at Gerard’s corpse and trying his best to take deep breaths and not fall into his well-deserved panic attack. “We’ve got to get out of here. Can you hear how many people are upstairs? Did his goons leave?”

Erica ran her hands over Stiles’ head. “Stiles, what was that? How did you do that?”

Stiles shuddered, his muscles spasming involuntarily still. “I don’t know. I guess I somehow channeled the electricity out to him? Deaton said I had a spark. That was pretty sparky? Think that’s what he meant? It makes more sense than wishing I had more mountain ash and it appearing. But I need to focus. We need to focus. Really. We need to get out of here. Gerard is… was the head evil dude, but he had plenty of gun-toting goons, not to mention his son.”

“And granddaughter,” growled Erica. “She shot us full of arrows after she lured us to the woods.”

“Okay, yeah. The Argents are just bad news. And they have an army. How many are here? Can you hear their heartbeats? Or voices? Anything?”

Boyd grunted. “Room’s pretty soundproofed. But when the door opened when you fell down here, I heard about eight, I think. And the same when Gerard opened it.”

Erica nodded. “I was more focused on your heartbeat, Stiles, because I recognized it, but that sounds right.”

Stiles groaned. “But they could have left between then and now. Upside. Or more could have arrived. Downside. Help me up. I don’t think we can chance it. I could try going up the stairs and cracking the door and see what you can hear, but if someone is nearby and sees or hears the door open only a little, that would be bad. Like really majorly bad.”

Erica nodded. “One of us could try, but you’re right. That door isn’t really silent when it opens. It creaks. I think they liked it that way.”

Stiles snorted. “Atmospheric. The door to the torture chamber creaks. They probably watered the hinges. I mean, this isn’t exactly a dungeon in an old castle in Transylvania. It’s a nearly suburban house in Northern California. Damn Hunters. Damn Argents. So, yeah, not a good idea to try that. But this is a normal Beacon Hills house, if you discount the sadistic serial killers living in it. The basement wasn’t designed to be a dungeon. It has windows. Can either of you get any of them open? Without breaking the glass! Sound like that would be bad.”

Stiles trailed into silence as he suddenly understood firsthand what Erica and Boyd had meant. The door to the basement had let out a decidedly loud creak, and the stairs were noisy, too. Someone was coming.

Erica and Boyd pushed Stiles behind them and faced the stairs. A voice that was familiar and more welcome than some, but less so than many others, echoed down ahead of the feet.

“You’re going to blow the power grid for the entire house if you don’t start controlling the flow properly. The lights went out for several seconds after some flickering before that. Honestly, at your age, you should know the voltage -”

The voice trailed off as Chris Argent entered the room and glanced around. Under different circumstances, the double-take the typically stoic Hunter performed would have been immensely amusing to Stiles.

The man reached his hand to his side for a gun that wasn’t there, his eyes on the two wolfed out betas. He backed away towards the corpse of his father, hands out to the side as they growled lowly.

Stiles, unable to not be himself under any circumstances, spoke up. “So, you knew your father had people to torture down here. Torturees? You at least suspected a werewolf or two. Or did you know he had two innocent teenagers, both younger than your daughter, strung up in your makeshift dungeon?”

Stiles shook his head and huffed out a breath. “Man, I thought we talked about how you guys had a Code. Guess it really doesn’t mean much, huh? First, your sister, then your wife, now your father? Or, more likely, he started first, and Kate learned at his knee, so to speak. Don’t know where your wife learned her sociopathy. Sorry for your loss and all, but it was her own decision. From beginning to the bloody end. And evidently, your darling daughter is in on this now, too. Did you know that, Mister Argent? How much willful blindness do you live your life under?”

Chris Argent gaped, blinking. “Stiles? What are you doing here?”

Stiles nudged Erica and Boyd, and they spread out so that Stiles was visible but still behind them. His lip was split, his chin was bloody, his cheek was dark red, and bruising already beginning to appear. Chris could see the muscles spasming even from across the room, as Stiles stared at him.

“Your father had his goons grab me after the lacrosse game when the lights went out. They tossed me down here, and he followed. Decided to have a little fun, but well, I guess he got sloppy in his old age. He played with the electricity, and it backfired on him.”

Chris shook his head. “You’re human. You’re not – he wouldn’t have.”

Stiles raised an eyebrow. “Really? Why do you think he would have had a problem taking a human teenager? You can’t tell me he never hurt a human before, one who was in the way. I mean, how did he get his job at the high school? His predecessor was human. And he just disappeared only for Gerard to waltz in as the new principal. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you, Mister Argent?”

Chris closed his eyes, his jaw tight. “My father is stubborn. He was in charge a long time after my aunt, and my mother died before Kate was old enough to take her place.”

“Uh, huh. That would be a yes, then. And you have your tenses wrong. Gerard was a stubborn, murdering asshole. Now, he’s just a dead body.”

A gasp echoed down the stairs, and feet pounded down them, Allison appearing in the room.

Stiles looked on bemusedly. “Didn’t close the door, huh, Mister Argent. No creak to announce her opening it. Sorry, you had to hear about yet another dead Argent this way, Allison, but well, they all bring it on themselves, what with the statutory rapes, and the serial killing, and the torture and attempted murder.”

Allison’s face set in an ugly scowl, and she started over like she was going to hit Stiles. Chris grabbed her and held her still while Erica and Boyd slid back to minimize Stiles’ exposure to the Hunters.

Stiles hooked his fingers of each hand into the back belt loops of each werewolf and leaned his chin on the spot where their shoulders met. His legs were shaking and spasming, and he was having a hard time staying upright. Still, he didn’t want one of the wolves to have to hold him up with their hands, not in such a volatile environment with weapons lying around the room, just waiting for Hunters to use on their victims.

Allison struggled in her father’s restrictive embrace, but he was stronger than her and obviously wanted to keep her hot head away from the sharp claws across the room. After a couple of minutes, Allison stopped her struggles and stood still, caged by her father’s arms. Her teeth bared, she snarled at Stiles. “Derek Hale killed my mother! She didn’t attack him. He lured her and attacked her!”

Stiles coughed and looked at her incredulously. “And who told you that narrative of events? Dear departed Grandpa Gerard? Or did you lie like a rug to your grieving daughter, Mister Argent?”

Chris shook his head. “I didn’t say anything like that.”

Stiles nodded. “So, Gerard. Now, I wonder why he would have a motive to lie? Maybe because he lost his psychotic daughter? Wanted to train up a new one? And you took to your lessons well. How very Emperor Palpatine of him.”

Allison began to struggle again.

“Your mother was no saint in any of this, Allison. The night she got bitten, we were trying to trap the Kanima with mountain ash. But she decided it was the perfect time to make sure her precious daughter stopped sleeping with a werewolf. ‘Cause she knew you were still seeing each other. She hit Scott with her car and strung him up in a room with an aerosolized wolfsbane, likely hoping to kill him in what would appear to be an asthma attack. He howled for Derek, and we had to break the ash circle so he could rescue Scott from your murdering mom. The Kanima escaped, Derek was disoriented by the wolfsbane in the air, and during the fight, he bit your mother. And then, she decided to be a complete and utter coward who cared more about her prejudices than her husband or daughter and killed herself. So, no, Derek defended himself and Scott and your mother reaped what she sowed.”

“Liar! Scott would have told me.”

Stiles rolled his eyes. “Not likely. He’s been all about you since you met, and he wouldn’t want to hurt you. And he doesn’t care about Derek and wouldn’t care if you hated him, too. He doesn’t always think things through, Scottie. Didn’t think how hatred of Derek could generalize and become hatred of werewolves full stop. You really on the Dark Side, Allison? You crossed that line when you shot two innocent teens, but you can come back. You really want to be a murderer like so many in your family? Or you want to be more like your father, only with more spine?”

Stiles’ hands spasmed behind the werewolves, and he ignored it as much as he could. “What if you got bit going after Derek? Would you kill yourself, take away the last thing your father has? Your mom had a choice. She had lots of choices along the way, and every step she took led to her death at her own hands. Will you be the same?”

Stiles scowled. “Your aunt raped underage boys and then killed their families, humans included. I traced her path. She killed twelve families in the last seven years, over thirty percent of the dead are under the age of ten. Five of them under the age of one. You hunger to follow in her footsteps?”

Stiles raised an eyebrow. “Your mother tried to kill the boy you claimed to love just because he had the bad luck to get bitten by an insane alpha looking to make a pack. Scott never killed anyone, he wasn’t feral. But she was gonna murder him in cold blood and cover it up to look like natural causes so she wouldn’t get caught. That what you want in your future?”

Allison stopped struggling, and tears poured down her face.

“Your grandfather had me, a human boy, with no supernatural nature or history as far as we know, kidnapped and beaten and was trying to kill me with electricity. For no other reason than that, I am Scott’s friend and am on friendly-ish terms with Derek’s pack. He hoped my death would literally kill my father via heart attack. He said so before the electricity backfired on him. He also had something to do with the disappearance of the former high school principal. That man didn’t even know about the supernatural. I don’t know if he killed him or just incapacitated and imprisoned him somewhere. My guess is the former, but you’d have to ask your father for the details. Is that really a man you want to emulate? The blood of thousands was on his hands, and some of them were truly innocent.”

Allison sagged in her father’s arms and turned her face into his chest, sobbing. Her whispers of, “No, no, no, no,” carried across the room easily.

Stiles sighed and allowed the betas to take more of his weight on their backs as they straightened from their alert postures. But he still wouldn’t let them carry him. He wanted their arms free, just in case. He was more than over trusting any Argents.

After a few minutes, Allison’s sobs dwindled, and she stood up straight and looked at Chris in the eye. “Is Stiles telling the truth? About Mom? About Aunt Kate? The other families?”

Chris lowered his eyes, and he released his daughter and rubbed a hand over his face. “I don’t know about Kate. I didn’t want to know, to see. But it wouldn’t surprise me. Especially after I found out about the Hales. I had suspected that a rogue hunter had done it, but didn’t think Kate… until Stiles confronted me with the truth on the night Kate died.”

Allison looked down and whispered, “And Mom?”

Chris hugged his daughter and nodded. “I didn’t know beforehand. She knew I wouldn’t approve. There were other ways to stop you from seeing him. Even the possibility of moving again. But she decided to kill him. In the aftermath, when I found out she was bitten by Derek, I – I thought I had convinced her to not – to see it through. But your grandfather got in her head and convinced her she had to be true to the family Code.”

Allison bit her lip. “She was going to not… to not?”

Chris nodded. “I thought so at one point. But then she changed and got militant about it, and I had heard him talking to her about the family legacy. And her duty. She wouldn’t listen to me after that.”

Allison nodded and turned to face the three teens. She looked at Erica and Boyd. “I don’t know what I think or feel anymore. I don’t know what to believe. I’m still so angry at Hale. But I think I’m angrier at my mom and grandfather. I didn’t grow up knowing about the supernatural. I only found out a few months ago, and things have been so – I don’t know why I got so – I – I don’t even know what to say. The girl I was before we moved here would probably hate me. I kind of hate me. I don’t want to hate. I’m so sorry for what I did. For what I let him do to you, and to me, to my thoughts, my emotions. I can’t make it, so it never happened. I can’t do anything except apologize. And I hope you can accept it someday.”

Stiles smiled a little, happy his plan had worked to break through Allison’s grief-fueled insanity and rage. “You can be better going forward. Think for yourself. Think of your Code and stick to it.”

Allison nodded. “I can try to do that. And maybe more. I need to talk to my dad about our family, but I have some ideas on how to fix things.”

“Good. Now, are Gerard’s Hunter goons still upstairs? We really need to get out of here, and we don’t want to fight our way out if we can avoid it.”

Chris shook his head. “It would be too suspicious to the neighbors to have them here for hours on end. They left just after Gerard got back.”

Stiles nodded. “So, we can go out the front door without any issues?”

Chris nodded. “I’ll do you one better. I’ll give you a lift home. Or to the hospital, if that would work better.”

Stiles shook his head. “You can take us to my place.”

Chris’ eyes flickered between the two betas at the word ‘us,’ but he nodded. “I have to figure out how to stage the body, as well. The problem you have is that the Hunters who brought you here know you were here, and might not buy the story I come up with.”

“Just tell the truth. He was going to use electricity on a human boy. When trying to get the right voltage for that instead of a werewolf, he misjudged something, and it killed him instead, and you let us go. Or we escaped, if you prefer. He’s getting old, I saw him popping pills at school a few times. Maybe it slowed him down, made him sloppy.”

Chris nodded slowly. “I can work with that, possibly. He has been odder than I remember him being.”

Stiles nodded, and Allison and Chris led them upstairs, Stiles allowing Boyd to basically carry him up the stairs and out to the SUV. Erica walked in front of them, behind the two Argents keeping watch.

 

INTERLUDE

Across town, a young man thought dead by most, came to a state of consciousness. He was confused. He couldn’t remember what happened to him. Again. He didn’t know where he was, but it was dark. He couldn’t move. As he tried to thrash to free himself, he found himself drifting away into a dream-like state once more.

Jackson Whittemore’s human mind drifted into a nightmarish dream state of lizards, snakes, and blood. But his more primal being, the lizard-shifter Kanima, took over the body as it felt the snapping of the bond with Gerard Argent. It was confused and afraid.

The creature inside Jackson’s mind and body reached out mentally to an empty echoing void. It was lonely, and it didn’t understand why it’s Master had abandoned it. It needed its Master to tell it what to do.

Master had ordered it to become an Alpha once it was in a state of preparedness. The weak one had been surrounded by unscaled ones, and it was dark. This one had used its claws to send it in to the proper hibernation state for the transition. But the transition wasn’t complete. The cocoon was partially formed, and Master had gone. The connection with Master, the orders, it was gone.

What was there to do? Who was he to be without Master’s orders? Master knew what it needed. Master told this one how to function. But when Master was gone, there were no orders. No orders meant this one had no purpose. This one was alone and didn’t understand.

The darkness around this one was brightening, and a harsh sound hurt this one’s ears. The covering over this one’s face was peeled back. There was another here? Was it Master?

The creature reached out, and it’s partially scaled, but unclawed hands made contact with the bare skin of another. Their minds connected, and the Kanima hissed in contentment.

Master was here, and this one had a purpose again.

The Kanima’s features receded, and Jackson Whittemore’s human form revealed itself in the body bag to the Kanima’s new Master. He was healed of his seemingly fatal wounds, and the venom which had coated his claws on the lacrosse field entered his system. The special formulation that made it so that he appeared dead, which triggered the cocoon to create an Alpha Kanima, was absorbed and negated by the wishes of the new Master.

 

Chapter Two

Stiles limped his way inside his house, half supported by Boyd. His muscles were still randomly jerking and moving on their own, which added to his typical clumsiness, it was a recipe for falls. So, even though he hated it and wanted to be strong, Stiles accepted the beta’s help.

When the door closed behind him, Stiles’ father ran into the hall. “Stiles! What happened?”

Stiles blinked at his dad and then touched his face, his split lip, and blooming black eye. “Oh. Got jumped by some guys who supported the other team. Didn’t like the loss. Cold cocked me, didn’t even see them coming. Just saw school colors on like a couple of jackets as they were walking away. Might have blacked out for a second or minute or several or maybe was just really dizzy. Next thing I know, Boyd and Erica found me, helped me home. Didn’t think I should drive.”

Noah Stilinski wrapped his arms around his son and hugged him tightly. “I’m so glad you’re okay! The jackets? Were they letterman jackets? Or just school colors?”

“I dunno, Dad. Both? Maybe? One of each? I’m not even sure the guys I saw walking away were the ones who hit me. If I blacked out, I might have seen them later. I think it was right after, but they weren’t moving fast like trying to get away, but I’m just not sure. I’m sorry, Dad.”

“But you’re sure it wasn’t players from the other team.”

“Can’t be positive. But I don’t think so. If the guys I saw walking away were them, definitely not lacrosse players. But if I blacked out and missed some time, I dunno. Could have been. But you’d think if it was players, they wouldn’t have been satisfied with just basically one big hit. Never know, but could have been, I guess. Not a very reliable witness, even less so than a normal eyewitness. Sorry, Dad.”

“I’m just glad you’re okay, kiddo.”

Stiles smiled, “Me, too.”

Noah turned to Boyd and Erica. “Thank you for convincing him not to drive home. He’s stubborn sometimes. And he could have easily crashed.”

Boyd and Erica nod. Erica put her hand on Stiles’ shoulder. “No problem, Sheriff. Glad to help Stiles.”

“Alright, well, I’ve got to get to work. Some crazy stuff went down after the game. I know you weren’t friends, Stiles, but Jackson Whittemore was stabbed and killed. And now his body is missing from the morgue. So, stay inside, the three of you, if you can.”

Stiles’ eyes were wide as he nodded. “Sure, Dad.”

Noah left, and Boyd helped Stiles into the living room. Erica whimpered. “There’s no way Jackson is dead, especially if his body’s missing.”

“Right. Do you have your phone? Probably not.” Erica and Boyd shook their heads, acknowledging his statement.

“Come to that, I don’t have my phone. It’s in my locker in the locker room. Along with my keys. And my Jeep’s still at the school. Damn it. Right, there’s no way I’m gonna be able to walk to the school. And I don’t have Derek’s number memorized. I know Scott’s by heart, but not Derek’s. Or Isaac’s.

“Damn, damn, damn! I need to figure out how we go here. I can’t tell my dad that Chris Argent dropped all three of us off. Why would he? He probably assumed one of the cars parked on the street belongs to one of you. Hopefully.

“We need phones. I need my phone, Jackson, the murder lizard, is out there killing who knows who, and I can’t contact Derek or Scott.”

Stiles flailed his arms around, his normal spastic behavior, something he’d done thousands of times just in the past year. But this time, when he flailed his right hand outward just as he said, “I want my phone!” it appeared in his hand in a shimmer.

Erica and Boyd jumped back and wolfed out while Stiles dropped the phone on the sofa and gaped at it, whimpering.

“What the hell, Stiles?” Erica growled.

“I don’t know. What – that’s – that’s my phone. I – it was in my locker. I didn’t have it. You saw that! I didn’t have it. It just appeared. Like magic!”

Boyd’s wolf receded so that only his eyes glowed beta gold. “More like Star Trek. It shimmered like a transporter beam. But not as bright.”

Erica nodded, her own wolf features mostly subsiding. “And not as blue, white, or green.”

Stiles huffed out a strong breath. “That seems worse, actually. Like who is bugging my house to hear, I need my phone and uses advanced and or alien tech to send it to me. Why? I’d rather it was magic. Magic connects to my life. Werewolves, Kanimas, Druids. Magic makes sense. To change up the genre out of nowhere? That’s just freaky. So, excuse me if I just assume that my spark or whatever magicked my phone here, rather than the men in black observing me all the time.”

Erica and Boyd exchanged glances before nodding. Erica grinned. “True. Magic is somehow less creepy in that scenario. Still doesn’t explain how the fuck you did it. But I vote for magic over creepy, shadowy governmental agencies or programs.”

Stiles sighed, “I’ve no idea what is going on. And we don’t have time to deal with it. We need to call Derek. And Scott. And maybe Isaac if you know his number. Gerard has been dealt with, now we need to figure out how to take care of Jackass.

“Just, I won’t ask you to lie to your Alpha about it, but unless he asks, don’t tell him the specifics about Gerard’s death? Or the phone. Not until I figure out something about what the hell is going on with me.”

Erica bit her lip. “We were leaving Derek. We ran away. We thought we heard other wolves in the woods, but it was the Hunters with sound machines to trap us. We wanted a better Alpha. I only just really started living, I didn’t sign up for murdering lizards or broken bones by the guy who was supposed to take care of me.”

Boyd nodded. “Wasn’t exactly as advertised.”

Stiles sighed. “Yeah. Derek’s a failwolf as an Alpha. He was never supposed to be one, and frankly, the power went to his head more than a little, and kind of warped his logic. Exhibit A, biting Jackson ‘Douchebag’ Whittemore. Exhibit B would be biting three more teens who had no idea what was really out there and not really spreading it out. No offense, but all three of you seriously went insane for a bit after you got the Bite.”

Erica looked down and blushed. “Sorry about your car. And the dumpster thing.”

Stiles grimaced. “One example among many. I get it. Scott didn’t handle his change in species any better. Asthmatic loser turns sudden lacrosse star? Anyway, we need to figure this stuff out, and I’ll deal with my weirdness later when I have less urgent things on my plate.”

Stiles nudged the phone on the sofa, and when it didn’t do anything odd, he picked it up. He turned it on, and it worked without a problem. “Well, the magic isn’t like Harry Potter. It didn’t fry electronics like Hogwarts supposedly does.”

Erica chuckled and Boyd smiled a little.

“Okay. So, before I call him, are you guys going back to Derek? I mean, there aren’t really any other packs nearby. Not really close. From what I was able to find out, the nearest is about fifty miles off. Still in California, though.”

Erica frowned. “Would he take us back? We were kind of harsh and left him.”

Stiles nodded. “Yeah. I’m pretty sure. You’ll need to be sincere, though. And all four of you, Isaac included, really need to work on your communication. A pack isn’t – it isn’t some gang, no matter how much leather you wear. It’s a found and created family. Pack is ohana.”

Stiles sighed. “At least, it should be. Derek is emotionally constipated and so closed off due to his past. Isaac’s got so many issues due to his own trauma that it’s amazing he can even get out of bed. The two of you just let power go to your heads. Boyd the least but still. So, if you mean it, Derek will take you back, but it needs to be real. And you all need to really try.”

Stiles ignored his twitching arm muscle as he flailed it. “If you’d rather still find another pack, well, I can see what I can find with the contacts I am making. But you need to stick around until it is all settled. Or you leave yourself open to Hunters like the Argents or just being assumed to be omegas. Which is essentially what you would be without a pack. And I’ve seen the Argent’s bestiary. There are worse things than even Kanimas out there in the world.”

Erica looked at Boyd, who lowered his eyebrows before he sighed and nodded. “We’ll go back to Derek. He isn’t evil. Just -“

Stiles nodded. “He sucks as an Alpha. He doesn’t want to be one, but it was going to either be him or Scott. Or Peter still if he got away because neither of them finished the job. And Scott would have been a nightmare. He can barely beta werewolf now, and he was lots worse then.”

Erica frowned. “Um, I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but okay.”

Stiles sighed and ran his still shaking hand over his head. “Right. Storytime at another time. The tale that started just before the Hale fire and ended with two dead bodies on the night of the Winter Formal. Hmm. Make that three dead bodies, but the third was in a different place. Sort of.”

Stiles shrugged. “Anyway, okay, calling Sourwolf. I’d call Scott, but Derek is the Alpha and hopefully knows more about what is going on with Jackson.”

Stiles brought up Derek’s number and hit the call button. Two rings later, and the werewolf answered with a barked, “What.”

Stiles rolled his eyes but still replied. “What is going on with Jackson? My dad just left, said he had died after the game, and now his body was missing from the morgue.”

Derek growled. “I thought you were missing? Scott thought you just ran off because of the attention, but Isaac wasn’t sure.”

“I was missing. Gerard had his goons kidnap me from the field and take me to his son’s torture dungeon. Found Erica and Boyd down there, too. Strung up and electrified.”

Derek snapped, “What.”

Stiles sighed. “You need to work on your sentence inflection. But relax. They’re here with me. Chris Argent brought us here. It’s a long story and not a priority right now. Jackson’s missing body is.”

Derek grumbled. “I hadn’t heard it was missing. Scott and Isaac were going to head over there later to bring it to me.”

Stiles nodded. “Okay, well, due to circumstances, Erica, Boyd, and I are here and without transport. We need a lift to the school to get my Jeep. Or to the depot to work on figuring out the murder lizard situation.”

“Fine.”

Stiles heard a dial tone as Derek hung up. “Okay. So, he’ll be here soon. Let me call Scott before Derek gets here.”

Stiles pressed 3 on his speed dial for his best friend, 1 was his dad’s cell, 2 was his dad’s office extension at the station. It rang twice before the voicemail came up, and Stiles pulled it away from his head and huffed. “He fucking denied the call. Again.”

Stiles hit 3 again, and this time Scott actually picked up. “Hey, Stiles, there you are. You know your dad thinks you’re like missing? I tried to explain you just got weirded out by the attention but -“

Stiles gritted his teeth before barking, “Scott!”

“Woah. What dude?”

“Scott, Jackson’s body, is missing from the morgue. We’re all meeting at the depot to figure out what to do now. Try to figure out what’s going down.”

“Isaac and I were on our way to the hospital, man. We’re going to take Jackson’s body and like put him in mountain ash or something.”

“Scott, did you even – are you even listening to me? There’s no point going to the hospital. Jackson isn’t there. We don’t know where he is.”

“He’s in the morgue. We need to get him before they like to try to cut him up for autopsy or whatever.”

“Damn it, Scott! Jackson. Is. Not. In. The. Morgue. My dad just left. He got a call that the ‘corpse’ was missing. And you and Isaac didn’t take it yet as you aren’t at the hospital. So, someone else has it. Or he woke up and is doing some murder lizard thing for his master.”

“Stiles, I know you ran off because you were panicking, but Jackson sliced himself open. They think he’s dead. I don’t think a Kanima can commit suicide, though.”

“Ugh. Scott! Jackson’s body is not at the hospital anymore. Just meet us at the depot, but put Isaac on first.”

“Whatever man, we need to do this. You don’t understand.”

There was a grunting sound, and then Isaac’s voice came over the line. “I heard you. I don’t know what is up with Scott, but we’ll be at the depot in twenty or so. Even if I have to drag him.”

“Thanks. By the way, Erica and Boyd are with me. They’re okay and are staying. Long story, but that’s the outcome.”

Isaac sighed. “Thanks. Hey guys. See you soon.”

Stiles hung up the phone and looked at the two werewolves. They were staring at him incredulously. Erica scoffed. “What the hell was that? Does McCall have some kind of brain damage? Wolfsbane poisoning or something?”

Stiles shook his head slowly. “No. Scott can be mono-focused and oblivious at times, but that was a new level, even for post-Bite him. Something’s up. I know him, and this, his level of willful ignorance just now, it means something. It means he’s got some kind of plan going on, and Scott hates when his plans don’t come together right. He wants or needs Jackson’s body for some reason and doesn’t want to try to change his plan. So, he just ignores new intel hoping things will still work because he wants them to.”

Stiles waved his hand around, his fingers twitching spasmodically. “Scott is horrible on the fly. He’s terrible at planning. He’s just – yeah. Not got a tactical mind. He’s good at carrying out orders if someone else tells him what to do. But to do it himself? No. Scott isn’t a leader. But he isn’t great at following either. Daddy issues, resentment of authority figures, especially male ones. With a very few exceptions.”

Stiles shrugged. “So, hopefully, he’ll spill when we meet up. I am terrified if he came up with something on his own. Let’s wait outside for Derek.”

Five minutes later, Derek pulled up in his Camaro and got out. Stiles hung back while Erica and Boyd apologized and showed their necks. After a tense moment, Derek accepted their submission and told them to get in the car. “Stiles has shotgun.”

Erica pouted but nodded her head in acceptance.

Stiles smiled at Derek. “Thanks for the lift, dude.”

Derek’s eyebrows lowered and raised in a sigh like motion. “Don’t call me, dude.”

“Right. Probably not going to stop, but hope springs eternal and all that. Talked to Scott. Sort of. But talked to Isaac. They’ll meet us at the depot.”

“Get in.”

Stiles slid into the front seat and buckled in. He trusted Derek’s wolfy reflexes, but you never knew with the stuff that went down in this town. Stiles was jittery but exhausted. He wanted to just crawl into bed but had to power on. He was also still in pain randomly from the electricity. It led to a quiet ride to the depot and several looks of concern from Derek as he drove.

Upon arrival, Stiles climbed out of the sports car, took exactly three steps, and his left leg spasmed uncontrollably. Stiles overbalanced and would have hit the ground hard, but Derek caught him.

“God fucking damn it! Fuck Hunters! Fuck Argents! Fucking fuckity fuck!”

Derek carried Stiles into the main area of the depot and laid him on a bench. His leg was still spasming, and Stiles was gritting his teeth and snarling. Erica knelt at his feet and whimpered, rubbing her hand over his right leg. Boyd stood silent but with narrowed eyes and a downturned mouth near Stiles’ head.

Derek frowned as he laid a hand on Stiles’ left leg and began to drain pain. “What happened?”

“Gerard fucking Argent, the geriatric asshole happened. I should’ve been getting drunk at a victory party, but no! His goons kidnapped me and threw me into their basement dungeon. And not some fun kind of suburban swingers dungeon but a real medieval-type thing with torture implements and all.”

“Stiles.”

“Right. They literally tossed me down the stairs. And when I found a light switch, I found Erica and Boyd hanging from the ceiling. They were chained and gagged. I tried to get them down but –”

A voice from the darkness in the corner crawled out, “Electricity. A favorite of the Hunters.”

Stiles jerked his head around, and his eyes landed on Peter. “What fresh hell is this? You’re dead. You were dead.”

Peter stepped forward. “I got better, darling.”

Stiles scowled. “Whatever. But yeah, the chains had electricity running through them, and when I touched them, Gerard walked in. He monologued like a weak ass Bond villain wannabe and smacked me around when I mouthed off. But, well, I was really close to Erica and Boyd, and he hit pretty damn hard. I fell and got tangled up in Boyd’s chains. I couldn’t get away from it. Gerard loved it. Decided to let me die that way, but his playing with the electricity backfired on him, and he ended up fried. Gerard is dead.”

Monster! Killer! Stiles heard the voice from his childhood echo through his mind. Not for the first time in recent months. After Peter’s death, Stiles had nightmares for several nights about his mother and her ranting and Peter dying over and over at Stiles’ hands.

“What?!?” Scott’s voice echoed down the stairs into the depot. He hurried inside. “What do you mean, Gerard’s dead? Did he like just drop over, or was he like bleeding or like a heart attack? Did I kill him? I mean, his pills? Did they kill him?”

Stiles tilted his head and leaned on the bench to get closer to his best friend. “Pills, Scottie? Why do you think you might have killed Gerard?”

Scott shook his head. “No. His pills. I saw him take pills.”

“You asked first if you killed him.”

Scott shook his head. “No, I didn’t. You misheard. I asked if his pills had something to do with it.”

“Uh, huh. After you asked about yourself.”

“No, Stiles.”

“Yes, Scottie.”

Scott sighed, “You always do this. You hear me wrong and insist you didn’t.”

Stiles flicked a glance around the room. Derek scowled, the betas are shaking their heads, and Peter is rolling his eyes so hard Stiles is afraid he’ll give himself whiplash. “Gaslighting doesn’t work so well when you’re in a big group like this that all heard you, Scott. Especially when they’re all werewolves and probably heard your heart skip just now. I usually just let it go when you gaslight me. Usually, it isn’t important enough to press the matter. But I have a really bad feeling about this, Scott. Your reactions earlier on the phone, refusing to hear what you didn’t want to be true? And now this?

“I know you too well, Scott. You had a plan of some sort. And it involved Gerard. And his pills? Did you poison Gerard, Scott? That’s kind of overt for you.”

“I didn’t poison him! Mountain ash isn’t fatal to humans. And he hasn’t made Derek give him the Bite yet.”

Stiles stepped back. “There it is. You found out Gerard was sick. And you spiked his pills. With mountain ash. Because you thought Derek would Bite him? Why? He’d just kill himself like Victoria.”

“No. Gerard said he’d get the Bite to cure his cancer.”

“You were working with him. This isn’t just something you overheard and ran with. Gerard was good. He knew werewolves and humans and psychology. You were the weak link. You were working with him. What did he do? Threaten you? No, you would have gotten your back up. Gerard was an adult male authority figure, you’d have treated him like Rafe. No, Gerard threatened someone, though, didn’t he? Melissa? Allison, his own granddaughter?”

Scott flinched.

Stiles scowled. “That’s it, isn’t it? He threatened your mom and Allison. And he probably offered to let you have Allison, too, didn’t he, the psychotic bad touch misogynist? And you’ve always treated her like your possession, so that didn’t phase you.”

Scott looked away.

Stiles scoffed. “So, how was it going down? How was he planning to trick Derek? Wolfsbane in the air again like with Victoria? Was that a test run?”

Scott shook his head. “Gerard is the master of the Kanima. He killed Matt.”

“He was the master. Now Jackson is either masterless, or someone else claimed him. And we have no idea who. We could have gotten to him and done it ourselves, Scott, but now it’s too late. His body is missing, which means he’s up and about.”

Scott shrugged. “We’ll find out, eventually. But Gerard. Did the mountain ash kill him even though Derek never Bit him? Deaton said it was harmless to humans.”

“So it was Deaton’s plan?”

“Well, he mentioned something about it, but I planned out how to do it!”

Stiles nodded. “At the very least, you were hastening his natural death, Scott. Without his proper medication, the cancer would kill him quicker.”

Scott shook his head. “He had like Stage 4. He was nearly dead, and Deaton said the pills couldn’t be more than placebos.”

“You were going to help Gerard Argent become an Alpha werewolf.”

“No! After he made Derek Bite him, he’d reject it because of the mountain ash.”

“So, you were just going to help Gerard rape Derek. You have such a hard time with your own nonconsensual change due to Peter. But you were willing to force this with Derek.”

Scott nodded. “It isn’t rape. You’re dramatic. But Gerard wanted the Bite.”

“But Derek wouldn’t want to give it!”

Scott shrugged. “Big deal. Derek wanted to be Alpha and took my chance to be human away forever. He’s gone around Biting people ever since, what’s one more?”

Stiles sighed and shook his head. “You realize Gerard’s plan, right? What would he have done if he was alive and hadn’t had spiked pills? Which I’m not convinced would have worked, by the way. Mountain ash traps supernatural creatures like werewolves. It isn’t exactly poisonous to them. That’s wolfsbane.”

“But wolfsbane is poisonous to humans, too. If I put that in the pills like Deaton gave as an option, it would have killed him.”

Stiles closed his eyes. “Right. So the planned bite rejection, a slow and agonizing death, was okay. But not straight-up poisoning? Whatever, Scott. Your moral compass is like covered in mud, but whatever.”

Stiles opened his eyes. “If Gerard had lived and not taken the spiked pills but had his plan work perfectly, he would have used the Kanima to somehow force Derek to Bite him. Once it worked, he would have killed Derek, you realize that?”

Scott shrugged. “It isn’t like Derek’s a good guy. He wanted to kill Lydia, too, remember?”

“Scott! Gerard’s plan was to become a werewolf and immediately kill Derek. Derek. The Alpha who Bit him. Meaning it wouldn’t have made him human again! Because if he was human again, he’d be dying of cancer still. Meaning killing the Alpha who Bit you doesn’t. Make. You. Human. It was a myth and a stupid one perpetuated by old Hollywood films and actually more tied to vampires than werewolves. Like ‘The Lost Boys’ starring the two Coreys, that cult classic from the 1980s.”

Scott frowned. “Derek said -“

“Derek told you it was a myth, and frankly, dude, he was desperate for help. And you were gullible. I told you that it sounded wrong, and I didn’t think it was real. I bet he never heard that ‘myth’ from his family. Did you, dude?”

Derek glowered. “No.”

Scott frowned harder. “Then where did you hear it? Did you read about it in a book? Or after your family died? When you guys ran away?”

Stiles groaned and rolled his eyes, and Derek gritted his teeth before growling out in an embarrassed tone, “Red: Werewolf Hunter.”

Stiles broke into laughter, snorting and falling back onto the bench. “Hollywood mythology. I was right!”

Scott looked at Derek with betrayal in his eyes. “You lied to me.”

“I told you it was a myth. And that I didn’t think it was real. You wanted to believe it. And I needed help against Peter.”

Scott pouted, and Stiles got control of his laughter. “See, Scott, if you had killed Peter, and frankly dude, that is a big if, for someone who feels sorry for the fleas when he gives dogs a flea bath, you wouldn’t have been human. You’d have been an alpha. And you could barely beta then. Or now, really. You wouldn’t have been able to handle it and frankly would have been lucky not to get shot full of wolfsbane by Chris Argent that night. ‘Cause I’m pretty sure you would have turned on Allison and tried to bite her, to claim her, if you’d gotten that Alpha power that night. Your control is shaky at the best of times, and she’s still your anchor.”

Scott shook his head. “I’d never hurt Allison.”

“Whatever, Scott.” Stiles slid back to rest against the back of the bench. “Whatever.”

“But, did the pills kill Gerard? I mean, or did someone claw him?”

Stiles sighed. “He kidnapped me and already had Erica and Boyd strung up and electrified thanks to Allison. He decided to beat me a bit and then electrocute me. He was playing around with the electricity in a way he wasn’t used to, and it backfired on him, and he got fried by electricity, Scott. So, no, I doubt your pill switch did anything to cause his death. Unless they messed with his head and his decision-making process.”

“What do you mean, thanks to Allison.”

Erica growled at Scott. “Your little huntress lured us into the woods, shot arrows, and kidnapped us for her grandad.”

“Allison would never do that.”

“She did, Scott. Because someone lied to her about her mother’s death and no one who knew the truth and had access to her, cough, you, cough, told her Victoria was trying to kill you, and Derek rescued you. So, she wanted to hurt Derek and hurting his betas, and later killing them would hurt him.”

Scott shook his head. “No, she -“

Scott’s denials were interrupted by a hiss. The Kanima was in the doorway, and before any of the wolves could react, it had grabbed Scott and scratched him, paralyzing him. It threw him over its shoulder and bounded outside, Derek and the other wolves following, other than Peter.

Stiles slumped back on the bench and rubbed his left arm as it twitched. Peter strolled over and leaned against the bench. “Quite the tale. Are you sorry you turned me down, Stiles?”

Stiles looked at Peter from under half-lidded eyes. “No. Even if I wanted the Bite, and I’ve turned Derek down, too, so I’m not saying I do, you were insane. If you had actually kept to your claims that night, killed Kate, and let that be the end of it, only going after those responsible, then maybe I’d have regrets. But as it stands, nope.”

Stiles sighed and rubbed his head. “You’re smart, Peter. Clever. Back-up plans, and who knows what else. But you were way off the ball when you were the Alpha. Your plans and ideas were messy. Foolish. The bus driver on the bus? The clerk inside the video store? The whole mess at the high school, luring us there and trying to get Scott to kill us? And then wanting to kill Allison after you killed Kate? I hope you’re better now, dude. I will put you down again to protect my people if I need to. I’ll even use fire again if it’s the only way. I’d try to come up with something else, but if I couldn’t, well, so be it.”

Peter smirked. “Bloodthirsty little teenager, aren’t you?”

Stiles shook his head. “Protective. And morally grey.”

Peter sighed exaggeratedly. “You truly would make a magnificent wolf.”

“If you’d been on your game, really on your game in the garage, it might have played out differently. But you read me all wrong. And so it goes.”

“Did I? You’re claiming you weren’t lying when you said no?”

Stiles sighed and shook his head. “No. Maybe I was conflicted when I said no. But when I said you read me wrong, I meant earlier, for your sales pitch. All that stalking you did, definitely of Scott, presumably of Allison, possibly of me, and you made generalizations and assumptions about me based on Scott. I have never really cared about popularity. I worshipped Lydia from afar, other than some admittedly creepy behavior and comments at times since I was 9 years old. I didn’t expect to get anywhere. She only went to the dance with me because Allison guilted and blackmailed her because Lydia kissed Scott. And I knew it. Would it have been nice to have her want me? Sure, but it wouldn’t have been real.”

Stiles sat up slowly, his right leg occasionally jerking. “I’m not your typical teenager in most respects. And I mean that discounting the recent supernatural hijinks. Yes, I do stupid teenage shit sometimes, like going into the woods to look for half a dead body. Or stay up all night playing video games. Or bingeing the food of the gods that are curly fries. But I am not at all like Scott. And what you focused on was offering me a way to be like or better than Scott. And that missed the mark entirely. You threw that bowling ball down someone else’s lane.”

Peter raised an eyebrow. “Oh, really?”

Stiles nodded. “Yeah, really. I think if you had been more mentally present and focused, you would have known to make a different pitch to me. Maybe even found the key that would have unlocked a yes. But you weren’t. You had a target fixation. And you flew right into the mountain.”

“Perhaps you’re right. What should my pitch have been?”

Stiles huffed a bitter laugh. “Doesn’t matter now. It’s a moot point. You’re not an Alpha, and if you even think about trying to take Derek out to be one again, well, I will put you back in the ground and make sure you can’t come back. But maybe someday you’ll figure it out. Won’t mean anything, but it’ll give you a goal.”

Peter snorted. “You’re a handful, aren’t you?”

Stiles just closed his eyes and tried to ignore his aches and pains and the familiar voice in his head calling him a monster and a murderer. It was harder than usual because he actually felt like he was one, even though Gerard had needed killing. And it had been instinctive and self-defensive, whatever it had been.

Peter stayed silent but stood near Stiles’ position. After a few minutes, the older man spoke again. “Would you like me to take some of your pain?”

Stiles opened his eyes and looked at the former alpha. “As long as you are doing it out of the goodness of your heart, Zombiewolf.”

Peter nodded. “I told you before, Stiles. I like you.”

Stiles nodded, and Peter slid to a seat next to him, laying a hand, it’s movement blatantly telegraphed, onto his arm. Within seconds black lines were traveling up Peter’s arm, and Stiles exhaled in relief. “I appreciate this, dude. I didn’t even realize how bad the actual pain was. You know, the muscle spasms were kind of covering it up somehow.”

“Don’t call me, dude, and we will be even.”

“Probably never be even then. ‘S a habit. I call everybody dude. Even my dad sometimes. And even girls.”

“At least try to keep it in mind. I may live in California, but I hate the beach, and I don’t surf.”

Stiles snorted. “Got it, d – man.”

Peter shook his head, his eyes rolling and his entire head following, in the patented Hale Eye Roll that Stiles drew out of Derek constantly.

Peter’s head came up, and he removed his hand as Derek, Isaac, Erica, and Boyd came into the depot. Scott was nowhere in sight.

“What happened?” Asked Stiles.

Erica slid to a seat on the floor near Stiles’ feet. “We lost them in the woods, but when we decided to try tracking, or well, Derek was going to and teach us as he did, we went to Scott’s to start there and found him. The Kanima wasn’t there, but Scott was still paralyzed and lying on his bed with a blanket over him. It was the most bizarre thing.”

Isaac nodded. “Scott was wide awake but couldn’t move, his head was on a pillow, he was on his side, his shoes were off, and he was on top of his covers, but a big blanket was tucked in around him, like a burrito.”

Stiles snorted a laugh.

“Couldn’t talk yet, either,” Derek shared.

Erica smiled. “We told him we were glad he was safe and to call if he saw the Kanima again.”

Stiles giggled. “Jackson took Scott home and tucked him into bed?”

Boyd nodded, laughing. “Yep. Snug as a bug in a rug.”

“Okay,” said Stiles. “Well, I’ve got nothin’. Other than the idea that either Scott is the new master and was really tired. Or the new master isn’t aiming to kill us, or at least not Scott, but keep him safe. And Jackson interpreted it that way. I mean, he’s all messed up the way he is partly because of being adopted, right? So, maybe he’s got babies on the brain and swaddling Scott up to protect him?”

Derek shrugged. “No idea. And no clue where to find the Kanima now. We could stake out the McCall house, but there’s no guarantee the Kanima would go back there. I’m not sure how much subconscious desires control the Kanima.”

Stiles tilted his head. “You mean, Jackson’s subconscious or the master’s?”

“Either one. I was thinking more of the master, though, especially if it isn’t someone who knows what the Kanima is and is an inadvertent master somehow. Gerard knew what he was doing when he killed Matt and took Jackson’s ‘leash.’ But what if someone bonded him and didn’t know it. They wouldn’t have orders to give him. And if the connection can be mental -“

Peter interrupted. “It can and usually is, at least in part.”

Derek nodded. “Then Jackson could be getting orders or what he thinks are orders from his new master’s subconscious.”

Stiles smiled. “You really do have a brain under the murder brows, Derek. You’re kinda like Lydia. You both hide your intelligence. Different motivations but still.”

Derek glowered as Stiles began talking, but then his face turned red by the end.

Peter nodded. “Derek was always smart. With schoolwork and books. Not with people or politics. But his grades were very good.”

“Shut up, Peter,” Derek growled.

Stiles sighed. “Well, anyway, we have no idea how to find Jackson or what the hell is up with him. So, until we do, I should go home. My dad thinks I am at home recovering from a beat down by some fans of the other team. And that Erica and Boyd were gonna hang and help me out. So, if you can drop us at the school, Boyd can drive us back to my place in my Jeep.”

And that was the plan the pack followed.

 

Chapter Three

After a while, Stiles sent Boyd and Erica home and went to bed. There was nothing they could really help him with, and he was exhausted. He crawled into bed and tried to ignore the echo of his mother’s voice in his mind.

Stiles pushed away thoughts of Gerard’s face as the electricity ball sailed through him. The sight of his corpse lying on the basement floor was harder to push away. The thoughts of channeling that electricity in the first place, and how it formed into a ball rather than just like a bolt, which would have made more sense, bothered him more.

Stiles pushed that away and rolled over. But then he saw his phone sitting on the nightstand, plugged in and charging, and freaked out. He remembered it just appearing in his hand with a shimmer when he had left it in his locker before the lacrosse game.

Deaton said he had a spark. And he used the mountain ash to complete the circle at the club when there wasn’t enough. But what did that or his magically appearing phone have to do with a “spark.” The electricity ball, okay, that was sparky. But the other stuff, he didn’t get it. And Deaton never brought anything up again and never asked him about the ash. And he was always cryptic anyway.

Was spark just like a metaphor? Or was it more literal? Did he have some kind of spark of power inside him that made this stuff happen? He’d heard Derek and Peter both call it the ‘alpha spark.’ Was it like that? Or completely different?

Stiles’ mind raced over the implications and ideas as he fell asleep, his body’s exhaustion overcoming his mind’s hyperactivity.

Stiles dreamt. He felt like he was watching a trailer for a horror movie, one put together by an amateur. There were three women, and they were brunettes. But their hairstyles kept changing a lot in every clip, even the color sometimes. And then one of the women was in a coffin, and another one started being in the clips.

There were monsters, and the women were fighting them. Some of them looked like Buffy-style vampire heads, others like they were wearing masks for South American wrestling matches. Others were just creepy like Peter after the hospital, handsome but kind of insane and dark.

The women threw things at them, or blew them up by gesturing, or tossed them across the room with a hand or head gesture – the dead one – or in white sparkles – the newest one. One of them levitated sometimes and threw fire once.

Stiles felt dizzy and confused. He didn’t recognize any of the women, not even in the way you knew who people were when you were dreaming. He didn’t think he had ever seen any of them before. And none of the clips had sound, it was all sight, like a silent movie, but none of the clips lasted more than a few seconds before a new one appeared.

Stiles knew he was dreaming, and he wanted to wake up, to stop the transitions, to slow the dream down, but no matter what he tried, he couldn’t change it. The dream had control. Stiles couldn’t even make a sound.

Then abruptly, the dream slowed down, and Stiles somehow knew it was near its end. There was a cage in a cave or something, and the three women were inside it, and there were shadowy figures all around. There was a woman in a black robe, and a man in a red robe by an altar, and the woman began to float and glow.

Before Stiles could try to make sense of what he was seeing, the image shifted for a final time, and he saw a green book on a pedestal with a symbol on the front. And for the first time, he heard sounds in the dream.

It was the voice of a woman, young, hesitant and tentative, but gaining authority as it spoke.

Hear now the words of the witches,

The secrets we hid in the night.

The oldest of gods are invoked here,

The great work of magic is sought.

In this night and in this hour,

We call upon the ancient power.

Bring me the power. I want the power.

Stiles woke up with a gasp, his mouth started whispering the words before he slapped a hand over it when he realized what he was doing. “Don’t hear any words right now. Nope, no secrets hid, nobody invoked. Revoked, back to sleep. No calling power. Not here, not tonight. Nope, nope, nope.”

Stiles panted as the tightness and heat he had started to feel in his chest subsided. “Damn it. What was that?”

Stiles laid his head back on the pillow and, surprisingly, drifted easily back to sleep. He had dreams again of the women and the monsters, but they remained silent to him for the rest of the night.

The next morning, Stiles woke up and whimpered. His aches from the day before were worse, and he felt like most of his major muscle groups had suffered Charlie horses for hours, and he was dealing with the aftermath.

He shuffled out of bed and hobbled down the hall to the bathroom. He knew his dad was likely at the station again, or still, what with Jackson’s missing ‘body’ and potentially an investigation into Gerard’s death.

Killer!

The former was a high school student, the adopted son of the district attorney, somehow stabbed on the lacrosse field, and his body ‘stolen’ from the morgue. The latter was the mysterious death of the new high school principal, father of a major legal arms dealer. Unknown to most, a dead arsonist murderer, who was electrocuted or maybe not, depending on how Chris staged it before calling it in. He couldn’t have just left things as they were. The scene was highly evocative even without the live bodies in the electrified chains.

As he stood under hot water, easing his muscles, Stiles wondered what Chris had told the authorities. Had he put Gerard in bed and called it in as a heart attack this morning, or did he call it in the night before and put Gerard near the fuse box? Maybe he would just get Gerard’s doctor to report he died from cancer. Stiles knew he would hear the official story eventually. The unofficial one was what he had cooked up with Chris before escaping the house, so that was covered.

Stiles spent over half an hour in the shower, thankful for the extra-large water tank with a rain catcher and the solar panels on the house. It kept him from feeling guilty about his overuse of resources.

Every time Stiles’ thoughts began to veer towards either Gerard’s actual death – and Stiles’ hand in it – or towards his odd dreams the night before, Stiles would physically pinch himself and consciously redirect his thoughts forcefully in another direction. For instance, what was up with Jackson, the Supernanny Kanima the night before.

After he got dried off and dressed, his muscles feeling at least marginally better, Stiles checked his phone. There were messages from both Scott and Derek directing that they needed to figure out the Kanima situation and would meet at the depot at 10.

Stiles made himself breakfast and took several pain pills before he headed out to his Jeep to make his way to the depot. Stiles was about two blocks from the turn when he saw a scaled figure with another figure over its shoulder dart across the road and into the woods. It was gone before he could stop his car, so he hurried to the meeting spot.

All of the wolves except Scott were standing outside, staring down the road. When Stiles pulled up, Erica came over and leaned against his door. “So, McCall was here. But he got snatched up by Jackson the lizard again.”

Stiles nodded. “I saw. He ran across the road and into the woods two blocks from here. The way he was headed was the general direction of Scott’s house as the crow flies. Or as the lizard runs, I suppose.”

Derek walked over to the Jeep. “Alright, hopefully, he just took Scott home again. We’ll head there to figure things out. Peter found a possible cure to turn Jackson into a wolf, but it needs something we don’t have.”

Peter popped up on the other side of the Jeep. “I told you, it needs someone who can resolve his lack of identity. And that is dearest, Lydia.”

Derek grunted. “Fine. Stiles go pick up Lydia and meet us at Scott’s house. We’ll fill her in there.”

Peter grinned. “Make sure you tell her he isn’t dead, and he needs her. She’ll come.”

Stiles sighed but nodded his acceptance. “I’ll see you there in a bit then.”

Stiles drove his Jeep to Lydia’s house and rang the bell. After a few minutes, Lydia answered the door. She was a mess, her face blotchy and swollen from tears, her hair hanging around her face, her lips raw-looking, likely from being bitten by her teeth.

“Lydia, you know weird stuff has been happening.” Stiles began his pitch.

“The ghost. That I brought back to life. And Jack-Jackson. I – I didn’t get to give him – he asked for it and – I – and his b-b-body, it’s missing! J-Jackson -“

Stiles put his hands on her shoulders and held her firmly. “Jackson’s body is missing because he isn’t dead. But he’s in trouble, and you can help him. He needs you. You can save him. But you have to come with me. And someone who understands what you need to do will explain.”

Lydia gasped and turned around, ripping free of Stiles’ loosened hold. She grabbed a pair of shoes and shoved her feet into them and then a purse near the door and something on a table which she wrapped her fist around.

“What are we waiting for?”

Stiles led the way to his Jeep but felt he needed to warn her. “I don’t know what went down with you and the ghost or whatever. But considering that someone who I know was dead is not anymore, I can guess who he was. And he’s going to be there. And he’s the one that knows what you have to do. Peter. His name’s Peter Hale.”

Lydia shuddered but climbed into the Jeep and shut the door. “Jackson is more important than him. Besides, he owes me.”

Stiles nodded his acceptance and started the Jeep. “It’s only a few minutes’ drive. But just to get it out of the way, like I said, I don’t know what you know or have guessed. But the big thing is the supernatural is real. And the major thing in Beacon Hills that has been causing all the craziness in the past few months is that werewolves are real.”

Lydia blew out a breath and nodded.

“They aren’t really like in the movies, mostly. And a lot of backstories are necessary to understand stuff here, but we don’t have time. So, basically, one way to become a werewolf is to get bitten by an alpha werewolf. They have red eyes. And that is what attacked you on the field. But you didn’t turn, and I don’t know why.”

“Okay. We will talk about that later.”

Stiles nodded. “But a different Alpha bit Jackson. At his request. Or at his blackmailed demand. Whatever. And Jackson is so messed up in the head that he didn’t become a werewolf either. He kind of doesn’t know who he is, his sense of self is, like, fractured. ‘Cause of being adopted or ‘cause of Scott being so good at lacrosse suddenly, or both, I don’t know. And it made the Bite go wrong. Instead of a wolf, he became this lizard puppet thing that has been killing people all over town at the orders of his master. First, it was Matt Dahler. Then it was Gerard Argent. And now they are both dead, and we don’t know who his new master is. However, if you can do whatever it is you’re supposed to do, he won’t need a master anymore. He will be a normal werewolf instead.”

Lydia blinked, opened her mouth, closed it, licked her lips, opened it again, and shook her head. “Okay. I will need more information than that.”

Stiles nodded. “Like I said, there is a huge backstory to understand everything. It goes back to the Hale fire. But we are a block from where we are going, and hopefully, we can get Jackson to show up so you can do what you need to do.”

Stiles parked the Jeep, and they opened their doors when Peter Hale’s body came crashing through the house’s front window to land on the lawn. The Kanima leaped through after him, and the wolves came running out of the front door.

“Whoa! What happened to lullaby Jackson? Is Scott okay?”

Stiles hurried up to them, and at the sound of his voice, Jackson turned away from Peter and leaped at him instead. Stiles scrambled backward, and Derek shoved Jackson off course with a shoulder tackle. Stiles stumbled toward the house and saw Lydia kneeling near Peter on the ground.

Jackson tried to get past the wolves to reach Stiles, but they fought hard. Boyd went flying over Peter, and Lydia and Erica crashed into the flower garden near the remains of the front window. Isaac tackled Jackson around the waist and ended up rolling down the driveway when the lizard threw him off.

Derek clawed at Jackson and bounded back to avoid the venom on the claws. He darted in and under the swinging of Jackson’s arms. To Stiles, it appeared that the lizard was much less coordinated than before, less like he was seriously trying.

Derek leapt at Jackson and dragged his claws down the side of the lizard, drawing a loud hiss from him when Lydia pushed between them and held her hand up.

“Jackson! I know – I know you wanted this back. And I didn’t give it, but you can have it if you really want it. I don’t understand any of this, but I know you. And I know you don’t want all of this, but you can have the key.”

Jackson stopped and stared at Lydia and reached his hand out. As he touched her hand and the key grasped within it, the scales receded from his hand, and he folded her fingers over the key. The rest of his scales vanished, and Jackson stood there on Scott’s front lawn, naked and with a confused look on his face.

Derek yelled, “Now!”

And Peter, Derek, and Boyd rammed their claws into Jackson’s human back. He fell to the ground, and Lydia fell to her knees. “I love you, Jackson. Don’t leave me! Please stay with me!”

Jackson smiled as his eyes fell closed, and his chest stopped moving. Lydia fell onto him, screaming, “No! No! Please!”

And with a roar, Jackson sat upright, his eyes glowing blue, and his face shifted into a beta werewolf shift.

===

The next week passed fairly normally. Stiles avoided Scott as per Melissa’s request. He was still weirded out by the fact that she had inadvertently bonded to the Kanima when Jackson was in the morgue. Kanima Jackson had read her subconscious thoughts, her wanting Scott to be at home and safe, her anger at Peter over the failed date and biting Scott, and her near hatred of Stiles for “forcing” Scott into the woods that night and ruining his life.

Stiles had tried to be calm as he had talked to the woman he considered a second mother after Jackson’s rebirth while the wolves boarded up the window. Peter had agreed to pay for a new one.

Stiles had told her that going to look for the dead body was his idea, like something out of a coming of age movie, like “Stand By Me.” But he hadn’t forced Scott to go. And after Scott had been bitten, Stiles had helped him learn control. And nearly been killed several times by an out of control Scott. And that Scott’s life wasn’t ruined, changed, yes, but his asthma was gone, he was popular, he was able to have a more normal life without worrying that hurrying to class would land him in the hospital with a severe attack.

Melissa didn’t care. She blamed Stiles for everything. Not Peter, not really. She was angry with him for hurting Scott and manipulating her, but she sympathized with him. She was a nurse and understood what he had gone through for the six years after the fire. But to her, Stiles was just evil, and she didn’t want him around Scott for the foreseeable future.

And seeing as Stiles was still pissed at Scott for working with Gerard, and not caring that Stiles was nearly killed because of it, it was fine with him.

Stiles went to school, and Erica and Boyd sat with him and hung out with him. Sometimes Isaac joined them, sometimes he sat with Scott and the rest of the lacrosse team.

The rumors around the school weren’t even touching on Stiles or Scott. They swirled around Jackson’s drama. The story went that when someone stabbed him on the lacrosse field, it was with a poisoned knife. And the poison slowed his heart rate down a lot, like a Buddhist monk in deep meditation. That was why they thought he was dead. Upside, the poison had slowed his bleeding, too, so he didn’t bleed out from the stab wound. When Jackson woke up in a body bag, he freaked out, and the poison was making him hallucinate. He was found wandering naked on a residential street by Lydia. And they were back together because she saved his life by getting him back to the hospital before the wound could kill him.

Stiles thought it was a pretty good story. Not exactly believable, but his dad couldn’t find another explanation. And swabs of the skin taken in the morgue did show an odd toxin – the Kanima venom – so it just left them trying to figure out who had tried to kill Jackson after the lights went out. Another unsolved case.

And Scott and Allison were fully broken up. She hadn’t come back to school for the final week, but grades were already in, so it didn’t matter. The excuse was her grandfather’s death. She and Chris had held a small funeral and then left for France. According to Scott, they wouldn’t be back until fall, and maybe not then.

Scott had gotten into a screaming match with Stiles over it, blaming him because Gerard died while Stiles was there. Stiles pointing out that Gerard died while actively trying to kill Stiles made no impact on Scott. And Melissa’s wishes were keeping them from fighting further as Scott ignored him whenever possible.

Meanwhile, Stiles still had odd dreams of the magic women and the monsters every night. They were never terribly coherent, but they were somewhat informative even though they never again had sound. But Stiles recognized some of the powers he saw them use, like the youngest one who called things to her in white sparkles and glowing lights. It was like how he had called his cell phone, but the special effect was different.

Stiles had spent the week practicing trying to deliberately use this power, and it worked on and off. He also tried some of the other things he saw the women do and had gotten several of them to work at least once or twice.

And his use of the electricity ball was getting more reliable. At first, he had tried to channel it by holding his hand on or near a socket. But it hadn’t really worked. Finally, Stiles decided to try not to channeling electricity from a wire but from the air. And that worked better. But what worked best was just forming it without trying to pull from elsewhere. It really made Stiles wonder if he really had channeled the electricity Gerard had electrocuted him with, or if he had just killed him on his own.

Killer! Monster!

Stiles had several panic attacks when he started to come to terms with the idea that it hadn’t been exactly self-defensive pushing the electricity away but rather using a weapon to stop the torture. He supposed that in a court of law, assuming there was one where supernatural evidence was admissible and understood, it would be the same difference. But it didn’t help his mindset.

But as the week passed, Stiles felt more comfortable with his powers. Finally, on Friday night, while the betas and Derek were training and his dad was on shift, Stiles decided to try the spell.

Stiles sat on the floor of his bedroom and placed several candles around him in a circle. He didn’t know if they were necessary. Still, his dreams had shown the women using them in such a configuration several times. And the reading he had done on the internet had suggested that it was helpful and safer. Stiles figured that even if it didn’t help, it couldn’t hurt, so he had bought seven fat, white candles, and a circular area rug.

Stiles sat in the middle of the circle of lit candles and breathed deeply several times. He moved his hands onto his knees, palms upwards, and began to speak in a firm voice.

Hear now the words of the witches,

The secrets we hid in the night.

The oldest of gods are invoked here,

The great work of magic is sought.

In this night and in this hour,

I call upon the ancient power.

Bring me the power. I want the power.

Several seconds passed after the final word, and then the candles’ flames flared upward, and the closed window slammed open. Wind flowed through the room and around the circle, and the floor shook like a minor earthquake. As the wind died down and the shaking floor subsided, a glowing beam of light shone down from the overhead light, which was off and bathed Stiles in the glow.

When the glow faded, the candles were out, and the room was in darkness. The window was closed, and nothing in the room was disturbed in any way. Stiles rose to his feet and bit his lip.

“Was that real? Shit, that was intense. Okay, um, let’s see if it did anything.”

Stiles held out his hand and said, “Car keys.”

Within a second, the shimmering appeared on his palm, and his keys were there. Stiles grinned. It usually took at least three or four tries for it to work.

He pointed his fingers at the desk and said, “Red Bull.”

Five seconds later, the shimmering appeared, and when it vanished, a can of Red Bull, cold from the refrigerator, was sitting on his desk. That had never worked before. He had called things to his hands with some trouble but never elsewhere, though he had tried a lot.

Stiles picked up a bouncy ball from his desk and tried another previously failed experiment, the idea for which had been triggered by one of the scenes in his dreams. He tossed the ball at the wall of his room, and when it hit and bounced back towards him, he waved his hand at it and gestured at his closed closet door. The ball seemed to hit a shimmer in the air and changed course to hit the door instead of Stiles’ head. The ball ricocheted off the closet door and headed towards his bedside lamp.

Stiles through his hand up, hoping to redirect it again. But instead, the ball froze in midair. Stiles looked around, and nothing was moving in the room. He nudged a piece of paper on his desk, and it moved. He picked it up and let it go, and it stayed where it was, floating on nothing in midair.

Stiles nodded. This was like one of the powers he had seen one of the women using. Sometimes she sort of stopped time like this. Other times she blew things up, maybe accelerating time or molecules or something like that. The freezing slowed the molecules down, and when she sped molecules up, they exploded. The science made sense. Sort of, considering it was magic.

Stiles grabbed the bouncy ball out of the air and held it before time resumed its normal pace. After about thirty more seconds – for Stiles – it did, and the paper he had lifted floated down to land on the desk.

Stiles nodded again and sat in the desk chair. He decided to make a list of things he had seen the women do, powers he had seen them use. He didn’t know if he would be able to do them all, but given his track record, it seemed possible. Maybe likely. He had no idea how he was connected to these women or who they were, but something was causing all of this.

Stiles made his list, starting with the powers he had already used:

  • Telekinesis – line of site and from a distance, to self, and to another spot
  • Freezing/slowing time
  • Levitation
  • Blowing things up (opposite of freezing/slowing?)
  • Astral projection
  • Teleportation of self and others (outgrowth of telekinesis?)
  • Sex change
  • Age change
  • Spoken Spells?
  • Interacting with spirits/ghosts/demons?/monsters/angels?
  • Transformation into things?

The only thing he knew for sure was the name for what he was. From the spell to call the powers. A witch.

Stiles slid the list between two old Harry Potter books on his shelf and got ready for bed.

Stiles slipped easily into sleep, and the dreams began. However, as with the other powers he had tested after casting the spell, it had changed. The dreams were no longer as fragmented, nor were they silent.

Stiles watched as three sisters, Prudence – called Prue, Piper, and Phoebe gained powers after their grandmother died. He learned they were called the Charmed Ones, and they had been destined to fight demons. Stiles didn’t see their entire lives, it was still just short clips, but longer then they had been over the last week.

Stiles saw Prue die, killed by the Source of All Evil’s main assassin. He saw the fourth woman, Paige, learn she was a half-sister to the others, a product of their mother’s affair with her angel guardian, commonly called a whitelighter. Stiles saw the Power of Three reform as Paige accepted her place as a Charmed One.

Stiles saw the sister Phoebe fall in love with a half-demon. He saw the sisters vanquish his demon half, and the human, Cole, be tricked into taking in the powers of the Source, thus becoming the new, hidden Source of All Evil.

Stiles watched Cole marry Phoebe and get her pregnant. He saw the Charmed Ones discover Cole’s secret, and after a brief time when Phoebe chose her husband, Stiles saw the sisters work together to kill him, vanquishing the Source and killing Cole.

Stiles watched as Phoebe’s baby was targeted by the Seer, an evil demonic psychic who had manipulated them all for her own gain. He listened to Paige call the baby ‘it’ and ‘that thing inside Phoebe.’ Stiles watched the baby take control of its mother several times to hurt Paige for her disrespect of his father.

Stiles watched as Piper tried to bind the unborn child’s powers only to be foiled by the baby, taking over Phoebe for a moment to destroy the potion. Stiles watched as the unborn baby caused Paige to be kidnapped by a demon and saw Phoebe tap into the baby’s powers to destroy the previously unvanquishable demon.

Stiles witnessed Phoebe and the child within her as they were entranced by the Seer, who had fed them her own blood in a prenatal potion for weeks. He saw the Seer steal the unborn child from Phoebe’s womb and implant it within her own.

Stiles listened to Phoebe, now in a cage with Paige, talk about how horrible the child was and how he was never hers or Cole’s. He heard her call the baby ‘a black hole of evil’ and totally ‘soulless.’ And Paige agreed and said that she had been saying there was something wrong with it from the beginning.

Stiles witnessed the Seer being coronated as the new Source of All Evil due to her bearing the Source’s heir, the unborn baby of Phoebe and Cole. He bore witness to the sisters calling for Piper and then forcing the Seer to overload her own magic by tapping into the baby’s magic, trying to kill them.

Stiles felt the baby’s fear and desire to live. He felt his hatred of the Seer, who manipulated his parents and himself, causing his father’s death and kidnapped him from the mother who had loved him at one point. He felt the hatred the baby had for the Charmed Ones, especially Paige, who had never loved him and always wanted him gone. And the betrayal the baby felt by his mother’s rejection of him.

As the Seer overloaded herself and, in the process, killed the Council of Evil’s representatives, the baby wanted nothing more than to be safe and live. Stiles saw the instant before the Seer burned to ash, the baby abandoned his kidnapper and reached out for one who would love him and keep him safe.

Stiles somehow knew in his vision what the baby’s powers did to keep him as safe as possible. He was destined to be the most powerful child ever born, and his need was great. His soul, his being, his magic, his essence, his unborn body, however it was called, traversed the streams of time.

The baby feared the demons who had kidnapped and would want to control him and his powers, or destroy him and steal them. The baby feared the Charmed Ones, who had already rejected him and were happy to kill him. And he feared the Light Side, the Elders, and their whitelighter angels.

But if he was born in the past, they would never look for him, never suspect him. And the travel worked to de-age the unborn body to an earlier stage of development, a stage where the magic could integrate DNA from his new mother and her partner into his body, to hide the looks of Phoebe and Cole. And lastly, the baby bound his own powers to hide from any who could or would be sensing for them.

Stiles then dreamed again of the night in the garage as the Kanima attacked the mechanic. He was paralyzed by the venom on the doorknob. The interaction of such twisted magic and his own desperate wish to be able to move began the process of unlocking his powers, which Gerard’s murder attempt sped up. The powers of the son of Phoebe and Cole, a Charmed One, and the Source of All Evil. The powers of the Source’s Heir, Stiles Stilinski.

 

Chapter Four

Stiles was glad that the school year had ended as he had a major panic attack when he woke up and processed his dream vision. His powers came from the union of a Wiccan light witch and a half-human, half-former demon with the power and essence of the Source of All Evil during Stiles’ original conception.

Stiles, before he had been Stiles or even more than a fetus, had time traveled and implanted himself in Claudia Stilinski’s womb, taking on DNA from her and her husband, Noah, to become their child. While not even a fetus!

And now, his exposure to the supernatural, to werewolves, Kanimas, and Hunters had unlocked his own powers that he had bound as a fetus to protect himself and hide. It was a lot to take in. And Stiles was alone.

His dad – Noah – his dad, Stiles, spent quite a while contemplating whether Noah Stilinski was his father before finally settling on yes. Not only had the man raised him from the moment of his birth, but he had Noah’s DNA. Stiles had never had the need to take a DNA test, but he knew it would show Noah as his father. Though it would show Cole as his father, too. And both Claudia and Phoebe would test positive as his mother. He wasn’t sure how the doctors would interpret the results, but he had equal amounts of DNA from the four of them. So, maybe it would look like they were all his grandparents and their kids had him? But that wouldn’t shake out quite right, either, from what he understood of how the tests worked.

It was a moot point. He didn’t intend to ever have a test done. Partly since he knew the truth but also because it could lead to exposure of the supernatural. And that was a bad idea all around. Humans feared what they didn’t understand and werewolves, magic, demons, it was not something readily understood. And fear easily led to hate. Hate even more easily led to violence. Just look at the Argents.

Stiles decided that Noah was his dad. Period.

And he accepted the fact that his soul or whatever just wasn’t meant to have female relatives who actually loved him and didn’t try to kill him or hurt him in some way. Paige, Piper, Phoebe, Claudia, Melissa, even the Seer didn’t care if she hurt him when she cast her spells.

Stiles did spend several minutes, okay, fine forty wasn’t exactly several, wondering if the eldest sister, his sort-of-Aunt Prue would have been the same as the rest or if she would have wanted him and tried to help, not hurt him. She died over a year before he was conceived by Phoebe and seven years after he was birthed by Claudia, so it really didn’t matter. As far as he knew, she wasn’t reincarnated as a whitelighter, so it wouldn’t come up. But he couldn’t help but wonder.

After he came out on the other side of his breakdown, Stiles realized he needed more information. His powers were fully unlocked, which he might not have done if he had understood the visions before the power spell was read. Catch-22.

But he had unlocked and called for his powers. And they were manifesting. A lot. And he needed to know about the world that those powers came from. His research and the Argent bestiary hadn’t said anything about demons, actual demonic demons and hell mouths or whatever, like San Francisco. He hadn’t come across anything about whitelighters or Wiccans having actual powers, just druids and witches who used amulets and sacrifices and stuff.

Stiles needed to know if the Charmed Ones or the Elders or the demons would be able to find him now. He needed to understand more about his powers, his current ones, and his potential future ones. He had seen in his vision how the powers of the sisters grew and changed and advanced. He needed to train and learn about spells and potions like he saw the sisters use.

And there were a limited number of people he knew who could be of any help. The internet was a bust with only fragmented mentions of the Charmed Ones and nothing connecting that to actual people.

Stiles knew who they were, their actual identities, and it was easy enough to find information about them as themselves online but not as witches. His visions had revealed their names, and so he knew Piper Halliwell had a club called P3. Phoebe Halliwell wrote a well-beloved advice column. And Paige Matthews was a teacher at a really, really, really exclusive private school.

But Stiles had no desire to reveal himself to his sort-of-once-mother and her sisters and possibly have them try to kill him. Again.

The betas were all worthless for help in this regard. None of them had known about the supernatural for longer than half a year, and that was Scott, who regardless of the fact that he was a werewolf and Stiles was regular vanilla human – or so they had thought – knew less about the supernatural than Stiles, even disregarding Stiles’ recent visions. Isaac, Erica, and Boyd barely knew how to werewolf, let alone anything else.

And Derek – Derek was a born werewolf and current Alpha, but he said it himself. He was never meant to be an Alpha. He wasn’t trained for it. And Stiles didn’t know what he had been up to in the six years after the fire until he came back to Beacon Hills, but it wasn’t likely he was learning supernatural lore if he and his sister were trying to hide from Hunters.

Laura may have been a source of help. But considering the only time Stiles really recalled seeing her, she had been dead, and he had dug up half of her corpse, it wasn’t really an option.

That left two people, both very problematic choices.

On the one hand, it was the failure of an emissary who didn’t protect the Hale Pack and didn’t help the comatose Pack member for six years, even though they lived in the same town for that time. The creepy, cryptic town vet Druid who had known Scott was a werewolf from probably the night he was Bitten but didn’t say anything for months. Who told Stiles he had a ‘spark’ but never elaborated or tried to help beyond that.

On the other hand was the formerly dead former Alpha who 1. killed his niece for power, 2. killed lots of other people – granted most of them were guilty of the murder of his family on some level, so that was more or less understandable, 3. savagely bit Lydia, then drove her kind of insane to bring himself back to life, 4. turned Scott into a werewolf by biting him without permission, and 5. tried to get Scott to kill Stiles, Allison, Lydia, and Jackson.

But he was a born werewolf, older than Derek, in a different generation than Derek. Maybe. Stiles wasn’t really clear on how old Peter actually was. Still, on a family tree, he would be on the level above Derek as he was Derek’s mother’s brother, so it counted. Even if he had been a surprise baby and more of an age with Derek than with Derek’s mom. But Peter might just have aged well and been more Stiles’ dad’s age. Or maybe werewolves age slower, the healing and all keeping them looking young?

It didn’t matter. Peter was the best choice. Stiles didn’t trust Deaton, and he had no desire to give the man that much power over him by revealing even some of his origins. Peter has been psycho, but for some reason, he had respected Stiles’ rejection of his offer of the Bite. Stiles sort of kind of on some level a little bit trusted the zombiewolf.

Damn it.

==

Stiles used his knowledge of his dad’s passwords to find Peter’s address. He knew the man wouldn’t stay at Derek’s hiding spot at the abandoned train depot for long. Peter had never been reported dead, just missing from the hospital. And after he returned from the grave, Peter had fake records from a hospital in Europe. The assumption became that he had been transferred and that his nurse Jennifer had messed up or destroyed the paperwork for some reason.

Her body had been found a few days after Peter’s confrontation with Kate Argent. And lots of nasty things had come to light during the investigation into her death, which was eventually blamed on Kate. Jennifer was very much an evil piece of work.

No connections to the Hunters, just a regular old sociopath and sadist. Munchausen by proxy was the least of her crimes. Stiles had read some of the reports and wished he hadn’t. It did make him more open to understanding Peter’s issues, though.

Stiles drove to Peter’s apartment, a nice one with decent security but no doorman in the “upscale downtown” area of Beacon Hills. He took the elevator up to the eighth floor, still disappointed that the man didn’t live in an underground lair in the middle of the Preserve.

Stiles knocked on Peter’s door, softly, knowing the werewolf likely knew he was there before he even got off the elevator. Normal werewolves wouldn’t be so observant of their surroundings, possibly what caught the Hales that night, but Stiles knew both Peter and Derek were hyper-vigilant due to their issues.

Peter swung open the door after a few moments. “To what do I owe the pleasure of your delightful company, Stiles? And all alone with the big, bad wolf? Should I be insulted or intrigued?”

“Feel however you feel, dude. Can I come in?”

Peter narrowed his eyes but stepped back. “By all means.”

Stiles entered and looked around and felt another jolt of disappointment. Peter just didn’t live up to the stereotype of the evil villain. The apartment was fairly well decorated but rather boring in its design elements like Peter bought whatever was already grouped together in a furniture showroom. There were no torture implements or torches or even a big leather chair and a long-haired white cat.

“Why does your apartment look like it belongs as a picture in a furniture catalog, man?”

Peter rolled his eyes as he closed the door. “I had other things to do than spend days shopping for furniture. This was easiest. When I have time, I’ll change things here and there.”

Stiles nodded, having assumed it was something along those lines. “Well, it’s better than Derek’s place. Either of them. No offense.”

Peter shook his head. “Yes, my apartment is better than a half-burned house with no utilities or an abandoned, almost condemned train depot. But you are a bit behind. Derek now has a place with actual running water and electricity. It still isn’t in the best shape, but it is an actual loft apartment. Just a few blocks from here on the edge of the industrial area.”

Stiles raised his eyebrows. “Did he buy it, rent it, or is he still squatting?”

Peter snorted. “He bought it. He’s planning to renovate the building and rent out other units. Eventually. Supposedly.”

Stiles laughed. “Yeah. Well, it is a step in the right direction. A small one, but anything counts. Considering his prior choices.”

“Hmm. And what does bring you to my lair, Stiles? Certainly not to critique my decorating choices.”

Stiles sighed and sat on the sofa. “No. But it was fun.”

Peter nodded and lounged in the armchair nearest Stiles. “Do elaborate.”

“I need information. I can’t really find it on my own. At least not without potentially opening myself up to more danger than would be practical. And you know things.”

“And you trust me.”

Stiles’ lips twisted in a cynical smile. “I trust you are the best of the choices I have available. Certainly more than the Argents, who left for France anyway, so even if I wanted to go to them, I couldn’t. Not that they even made my list of considerations. But between four fairly newly bitten werewolves who didn’t even know about the supernatural last year, an Alpha who was raised to never be an Alpha and never wanted it, and a cryptic, untrustworthy Druid vet, you win by a lot.”

“How – complimentary Stiles. I’m blushing, truly.”

“You should feel honored, dude. I’m coming to you for some real info. This isn’t just me being curious and needing information because of my hyperfocus. I need this information, and you’ll be getting info that no one else knows. This is real, Peter. And I’m trusting you more than you realize right now. Not just to not try to rip my throat out but with my life and maybe my soul.”

Peter sat up straighter. “What is it, Stiles? You can trust me. I know I was insane and tried to kill you, but I am better now. My mind is clearer.”

“Yeah. Death agreed with you.”

Peter sighed. “Stiles? What do you need?”

Stiles put his hands on his knees and blew out a breath. “Okay, what do you know about Wiccan witches?”

Peter raised his eyebrow. “The New Age idiots who dance around fires naked on solstices and have crystals hanging everywhere?”

Stiles shook his head. “No. Witches with actual born powers who recite spells and make potions and fight demons.”

Peter blinked. “I’ve read about such, but I always thought they were just myths or rumors.”

“So, if I asked you what you knew about the Charmed Ones? Or the Source?”

Peter swallowed. “I’ve heard the former from old contacts back in the day before – everything. Rumors about powerful witches, sisters, or perhaps cousins. But a family line who fought evil. To some, they were like a bogeyman. Watch out, or the Charmed Ones will vanquish you. But I never took it seriously.”

Stiles nodded. “Okay.”

“And the source of what? Magic?”

Stiles shook his head and bit his lip, looking down at his hands. “No. The Source of All Evil,” Stiles mumbled.

Peter blinked. “I must have misheard you.”

Stiles sighed. “The Source of All Evil. The leader of the demons of the underworld.”

“I – Stiles, what are you getting into? That – the books that even mention that in passing are – do not tell me you mean to try to contact -“

“No!” Stiles sprang up. “No. Definitely not. The opposite. For both of them. But I need intel on them. It’s important. Really important. And on demons from the underworld in general.”

“Stiles, why?”

Stiles sat back down, his leg bouncing. “It is a really kind of long and complicated story, and the short version will just make things worse. I know it is the truth, but even I can’t quite believe it sometimes. Look, the Charmed Ones are real. They are sisters from a long line of witches spanning back to before the Salem witch trials. They were like, prophesied to be the culmination of the line and the most powerful witches in existence as a triad. Their story is crazy, and I don’t know nearly all of it. But they came into their powers as adults, and that was in the early 1990s. And they fought all kinds of baddies and paid the price for it when one of them died. But then they found out they had a younger half-sister and they came together to fight even bigger big bads. Including the Source.”

Peter licked his lips and opened his mouth but closed it before he said anything.

Stiles continued. “Okay, so the short version after that is that I’m the son of one them and the Source. Sort of. Want the medium length version?”

Peter gaped at him, something Stiles would gloat over in another time and place and nodded.

“Okay, so one of the sisters fell in love with a half-demon and eventually vanquished the demon half. But it left him open to possession by the Source when they destroyed its prior vessel. And the sisters didn’t realize what had happened. And the Source tricked the one sister who was in love with him into marrying in a dark ceremony and messed with her birth control and got her pregnant. And lots of stuff happened, and they vanquished him again when they found out, and this time there wasn’t a body left for the human soul to come back to. So, the baby’s dad was dead. And a demon stole the fetus from the Charmed One and put it in herself. And then the Charmed Ones killed her and the unborn baby. They thought. I hope.”

“Okay. I – I’ve got nothing.”

“Moving along, the baby was like really powerful and didn’t want to die, and well, you understand the lengths magic can go to keep someone alive. The baby’s soul or essence or whatever time traveled and found a compatible womb and took in DNA of the new parents but still had the old DNA too. And it bound its powers to hide. Until I was exposed to the supernatural, to the Kanima venom, and to Gerard’s murder attempt. It unbound my powers, and I started having visions of all of this.”

Peter sighed. “Okay, I want the long version one day. But that will do for now. And you killed Gerard, didn’t you? With your powers?”

Stiles nodded and swallowed harshly. “It was instinct. I hit him with an electricity ball.”

“So it looked like he had electrocuted himself.”

Stiles nodded, pushing away the echoing voices of Claudia and Phoebe. Monster! Soulless. Evil.

“I couldn’t even hear the lie when you told the story.”

Stiles snorted. “That’s because I didn’t lie. I was tangled in Boyd’s restraints and dying. And Gerard decided it was a better idea than his original plan, and I flung the ball at him. I thought until much later that I had somehow used the spark Deaton had mentioned to channel the electricity at him. He was using the electricity in a new way, and it backfired on him. That’s what I said. And it was true.”

Peter nodded. “Fair enough. I don’t have any books on it here. They wouldn’t have been in the house either. They’re in the vault. Either the family vault or one of my personal stashes. Talia was a bit controlling of information sometimes, and I never have liked to share. But I will let you borrow them. And I’ll reach out to my contacts, find out what the rumors are about the Charmed Ones and their enemies. I’ll be careful. Do you know where they operated out of? When you were – conceived?”

Stiles nodded. “San Francisco. And they’re still there. I know their names and their mundane identities are easy to find online. Piper and Phoebe Halliwell and Paige Matthews. All three are married with kids, but none of them or the kids took the husbands’ names. Not even as a hyphenation.”

“San Francisco. So close.”

Stiles nodded. “Well, I don’t suppose a fetus, no matter how powerful, could travel far without being in a womb. And add in the time travel? I’m lucky I got as far as I did.”

==

Peter brought Stiles several books from the hidden Hale vault the next day. He came to the house and entered through Stiles’ bedroom window. Stiles began to wonder if werewolves even understood the concept of the front door when it came to him. But at least he knocked. On the window, granted, but Stiles didn’t just turn around and find a werewolf in his room.

It had happened a number of times with Derek since they met. And the betas had taken to following his lead and both Erica and Boyd, and once Isaac had visited him that way since Gerard’s death weeks before.

Even Scott had come in that way after turning into a werewolf. Before their fight. And Melissa’s banning.

Though Stiles believed that had more to do with him being so used to sneaking into and out of his own window – and Allison’s – than anything to do with Stiles. Stiles was sure if Scott knew that the other wolves, particularly Derek and Peter, visited Stiles that way, he would never do it again if he could help it.

The books Peter had brought were fascinating. They talked about legends and myths of witches with active powers from before the witch hunts. They said that the modern thought of a witch on a broomstick with a pointed hat was a true legend and had occurred and gradually become common lore.

The books talked about demons as well. Only three were actually named, and they weren’t described in a way that Stiles recognized from any of his visions. The books made no mention of whitelighters or angels or the Elders. And the Charmed Ones weren’t even a line in a single book.

Peter told him that he had two more books in one of his own caches that he recalled having more information, and he would get them for Stiles as soon as he had a chance. They were just more difficult to access than the Hale vault.

In the meantime, Stiles practiced more with his active powers and did his best to research this new branch of the supernatural world on the internet. Stiles had learned over the years how to access the deeper and darker parts of the web, and there he found more leads. But nothing overly concrete.

People didn’t trust newcomers unless introduced by a known entity, which Stiles totally understood. He certainly wasn’t going to share his origins with someone on the regular web who could be lying about their identity, location, or even their species. Let alone the dark web.

After a week of reading the books and discussing them with Peter, Stiles visited Derek’s loft for the first time.

Stiles was at least nominally in Derek’s pack, and with his new knowledge of what more was out there beyond shifters and Hunters, he felt he should let the Alpha know about his awakened powers. At least some of them. Though not where they came from.

The entire pack was present for the meeting, even Scott, who was even more nominally in the pack than Stiles. Derek began by welcoming Jackson and Lydia to the pack, and Peter gave a public apology to Lydia for not being able to find another way to save himself. Stiles knew he had already apologized privately and spoken with her about what she was – a banshee of all things.

After a few minutes of discussion about needing to start patrols of the area and training schedules, Stiles revealed his new circumstances.

“When Gerard tried to kill me, it unlocked something. I had no idea that I had this in my family line somehow. My dad isn’t magical, and as far as I know, Mom wasn’t either. I mean, Deaton told me I had a spark when he gave me the mountain ash to trap Jackson. But I still don’t know what that means.”

Scott narrowed his eyes. “Doc told you that?”

Stiles nodded. “Before that night at The Jungle. But after Gerard’s death, things started happening. I didn’t know if it was because of the electricity or the energy death experience, but that night, I summoned my phone from my gym locker to my hand when I was in my house.”

Erica nodded. “Boyd and I saw it. Stiles was ranting about wanting his phone and flailing around and suddenly it just shimmered into his hand like someone had activated a transporter beam or something.”

Stiles nodded. “And I can’t leave things alone, so I started practicing, and it is some kind of telekinesis, and I’ve gotten pretty good at it. And, well, there’s also this.”

Stiles materialized an energy ball – he had discovered in one of the books what it was generally called. It was a low power one, and he flicked it at Peter. The wolf knew it was coming and allowed it to hit. And he flinched.

“That hurt.”

Stiles shrugged. “Don’t know if there is a connection between that and nearly dying of electrocution or not. I thought so, but magic is weird. I can make them like that one, which is like a stinging, like a flick with a rubber band or touching a live light socket for a second with a wet finger. Or I can power them up, and they are pretty strong, like beyond defibrillator level strong. Maybe even powerline level or power substation level. I can’t really test it without really hurting someone.”

Scott gaped at him. “That’s evil, Stiles! You shouldn’t be messing about with powers like that. You already caused someone’s death because you got involved in this stuff. You’re human. You aren’t in the pack, you can and should just leave it alone. Before they make you kill someone else. Like Peter tried to do to me.”

Stiles shook his head. “I’m not a regular human, Scott. I have powers. I may not be a werewolf or a Kanima – thank God, no offense Jackson – or a banshee or a fucking Hunter, but I am magic. And you have no standing to kick me out of the pack. You’re barely in it and betrayed everyone who is by working in secret with Gerard.”

Scott rolled his eyes. “Derek may be an Alpha, though he isn’t a good one, and he got it by screwing me out of my chance to be human again, but he isn’t my Alpha. I wouldn’t accept Peter, and I don’t accept Derek. I don’t need an Alpha.”

Stiles gasped. “Scott, you moron, if you had been able to bring yourself to directly kill Peter, you wouldn’t have been human! You would have been the Alpha! And almost certainly you would have been killed that very night by Chris Argent because there is no fucking way you would have been able to handle the power influx and you would have tried to Bite Allison. Not to hurt her but to claim her, your anchor.”

“Whatever, Stiles. It would have made me human.”

“Derek told you the myth he told you about was from a movie! And Gerard, who damn well knew a lot more about werewolves than you do, even with being one yourself, was going to take the Bite and kill the Alpha who Bit him! And it would have made him the Alpha! He was counting on it! You knew this! We talked about this.”

Scott shook his head and turned away. Derek stood up and towered over the other wolf. “You reject me as your Alpha. I accept your rejection and cut all ties between us. I was willing to overlook your betrayal, but this was your decision to make. You have no Alpha and need to find one before you go feral. The Pack will be watching, McCall. And if they return, the Hunters will as well. Now get out of my home!”

The last was said in an Alpha roar, and after a moment of trying to fight it, Scott cowered and ran for the door.

Stiles sat back on the sofa with a sigh. “Well, that could have gone better. If Scott wasn’t such a potato.”

 

INTERLUDE

Noah Stilinski sat in his office in the sheriff’s station. He was working on paperwork, the bane of any police officer, but a necessary evil. Unfortunately, as often happened over the last several months, he found himself unable to give his full concentration to the tedious part of the job.

Noah’s thoughts kept drifting to his son, Stiles. Since just after New Year’s, the boy had been different. Stiles was sneaking out more, lying about his whereabouts, and showing up at crime scenes.

Stiles had always been a handful between the brilliant mind and the ADHD. But he’d never really gone off the rails. Kidnapping Jackson Whittemore and stealing a police van? Noah didn’t understand.

And just after the lacrosse final, he showed up with a busted face with two classmates he’d never interacted with before, as far as Noah knew. And the classmates were ones who had changed a lot in the last few months as well.

Beacon Hills wasn’t exactly a small town, but it wasn’t exactly large either. And as sheriff, Noah knew more of the inhabitants than some who wouldn’t have as much access.

Vernon Boyd. Noah knew him a bit. It was more that he knew the family. He’d only been a deputy when 8-year-old Alicia Boyd had gone missing from the ice rink where her older brother Vernon was babysitting her. He was only 12. Noah didn’t think a boy that age should have been in that position, but his family had put him in it, and tragedy had struck.

12-year-old Vernon had left his little sister on the ice and told her to wait for him while he went to the bathroom. He was gone less than seven minutes, cameras confirmed it. But in that brief time, a man who kept his face turned from the cameras from the moment he entered the parking lot on foot, had convinced the young girl to go with him. They left the building and walked out to the road and out of camera range, and she was never seen again.

Mark Boyd, the children’s father, had left the family when Alicia was just a year old, ran off with a nineteen-year-old coed. Sheila Boyd, the mother, had moved in with her mother-in-law, Francine Boyd, and raised Vernon, Alicia, and their two siblings Janine and Paul. After Alicia’s disappearance, Sheila had fallen apart and was killed in a drunk driving accident within a year.

Every month on the 9th, the same day of the month, Alicia vanished, Francine Boyd called the station to ask if there had been any breaks in the case. The rest of her time was spent raising Vernon, Janine, and Paul on her pension and holding down a job as a cashier at the local chain grocery store.

Paul graduated high school two years before and left town. As far as Noah knew he hadn’t been back since.

Janine was in middle school and worked part-time, delivering papers for the local weekly newspaper. She was quiet, and Noah could barely recall what she looked like and only then because he took the paper, and she collected the subscription fees in person once a month.

Vernon had always been quiet. Noah was fairly sure he blamed himself and wouldn’t be surprised if others in the family told him they did the same. He worked a part-time job at the ice rink driving the Zamboni, which Noah thought was incredibly mentally unhealthy for the teen. Spending so much time, much of it alone, at the very place where his world fell apart.

But over the past several months, Vernon had changed. His wardrobe had gained a lot of leather. And he had been seen around town, often, with Derek Hale. Derek Hale, who had been suspected of murder. Twice. And cleared. Twice.

It was odd. And it niggled Noah’s cop senses.

But odder still was the case of Erica Reyes. Noah knew her more than Vernon because he had been present for several of her seizures. She had severe epilepsy and often had grand mal seizures, in class, on the street, in stores, in restaurants, at home, and even when in the hospital recovering from a previous seizure. No medication seemed to work for long, and the side effects were glaringly obvious from looking at the poor girl.

Noah had fully expected to hear that she died before she was in college. Or certainly, before she graduated college. If she even had the ability or will to go. Her condition was severe. Every seizure was potentially deadly.

But then a few months back, she had begun swanning around town, dressed in a leather jacket, short skirts, tight tops, and heels. Her skin was clear, and she plastered on makeup like it was required to live. And she was often seen in Derek Hale’s Camaro, being picked up from school, at the mall, just driving around.

Noah couldn’t count the number of people who had called in to report Derek Hale for being around Erica. She was well known due to her condition. Or seemingly former condition.

And Noah had wondered at first if Hale was sleeping with her, and that had caused the change. But seeing them several times from a distance and closer up, he didn’t think that was the case. Indeed, after the night they brought Stiles home after he was beaten, Noah thought it was more likely that she was dating Vernon.

But he knew something was going on with those kids, and his son at the very least knew what it was if he wasn’t in the middle of it himself. But Noah suspected Stiles was in the middle of it.

Noah didn’t think it was drugs. The idea of a gang made some sense; after all, Hale had been in New York since the fire, but it was also nonsense, too. Hale had no record other than the ones generated by Noah’s arrests of him.

And Noah was stumped, and it was hurting him that Stiles wouldn’t tell him what was going on, wouldn’t let him help. And he wasn’t sure if the tale of getting jumped from behind and possibly knocked out was true or not. It fit the facts that Noah had. But it was also highly suspicious. And Stiles was an excellent liar. Especially lately.

Noah tried to turn his attention back to his paperwork when his phone’s intercom beeped. “Yeah.”

“Sheriff, Scott McCall is here. He wants a few minutes if you’re free.”

Noah’s eyebrows rose. Scott had changed even more than Stiles had. The asthmatic kid who was practically a second son to Noah had disappeared and become an overnight lacrosse star. And he had been at several crime scenes, too.

“Send him in.”

 

Chapter Five

Stiles sat in his desk chair while Peter lounged on Stiles’ bed. He knew the werewolf liked to do it so he could spread his scent and mingle it with Stiles’. Stiles didn’t really mind the sneakiness. Peter was on the outskirts of the Pack and didn’t get much of the attention that a werewolf really needed. And if making Stiles’ room smell like him comforted the older man and kept him from slipping back into a semi-feral state, Stiles was all good with it.

No matter how much he flirted verbally or how suggestive his comments, Stiles understood that Peter wasn’t interested in Stiles in a sexual way. It was Peter’s way of pushing the boundaries and testing Stiles’ sincerity. Plus, Peter just liked to stir the pot. He was much more toned down when it was only the two of them after Peter realized that Stiles wasn’t playing him.

The two of them had spent a good bit of time together since Stiles had first gone to Peter a month before with his origin. They researched Stiles’ needs – like demons and witches – as well as Pack, needs – like pixies. But they also just talked.

Sometimes, the two would cuddle on Stiles’ bed, Peter wrapped around Stiles, playing the big spoon, and just they would talk about pop culture from before the fire. Or watch TV shows or movies that Peter had missed during his hospitalization. It was nice for Stiles to just relax sometimes, and it helped keep Peter centered.

Peter had spent the last two days in San Francisco, connecting to his old contacts from his days as Talia’s Left Hand. And being introduced to new ones. Stiles knew he had done it mostly for him. And he appreciated it.

Peter arched an eyebrow. “I spoke to a couple of druids and a werecheetah that I used to know. As I told you before, San Francisco doesn’t have a Pack within ten miles of the city limits. And as far I as I know, it never has. Knowing what I now know about the high rate of demonic activity and the portals to the underworld in the city, it makes sense.”

Stiles nodded. “Weres would feel the demonic energy but not understand it. They would just find the area uncomfortable and inhospitable.”

Peter nodded. “I never enjoyed going to the city and have never spent more than five nights there. Usually, when I had unavoidable business there, and it was long term, I would stay in a hotel that was half an hour or more from the city. And none of my non-human contacts live inside the city limits. Most of them work there. But not live. The druids and the witch – my kind, not yours – were the exception.”

“Okay. So, what did you find out?”

“Well, your first – uh – bio – um – magical – huh father’s name was Coleridge Turner, and he went by Cole. He was a lawyer as a cover. He worked in the District Attorney’s office for a time and then a large private law firm. From what I learned both from rumors in the supernatural community and from his mundane cover life after the Source was vanquished and Cole’s body destroyed, his human half soul or essence ended up in some kind of demonic way station where demons go when vanquished. And he somehow collected the powers from dead demons there and made himself a new body? Those are the rumors.”

Stiles sighed. “Of course he did. He already survived being vanquished once. Why, not again?”

Peter shrugged. “He slipped back into his life and claimed publicly to have been in a car accident and coma. His wife – your first -“

“Just use their names.”

Peter nodded. “Phoebe served him with divorce papers and began dating other men. And got a new job at a newspaper as an advice columnist. Cole didn’t like it and from all accounts tried to get back together with her. But supernatural rumors say his mind was fracturing under the stitched together powers. And at some point, he did something crazy. No one was clear on what exactly happened, not a single rumor agreed on anything other than some kind of ripple in the universe caught him and he was vanquished, for a third time. Several of the rumors claimed it was by the Charmed Ones. Again.”

Stiles ran his hand down his face. “So, my first set of parents were even more dysfunctional than I knew. And my father is dead. Definitely dead this time?”

Peter shrugged. “With magic and demonic powers in play, nothing can be certain. But he hasn’t been seen or even whispered about since 2002. Not in the supernatural underground and Cole Turner was reported missing and presumed dead in 2003 and declared dead after the requisite seven years had passed without a body in 2010.”

“Okay. So, did you find out anything about currently active demons?”

Peter nodded. “There aren’t many. Not any big-time ones anyway. Mostly lower level kinds. But I was able to get a book about the most well-known and active demons of the last century or two. It’s handwritten and hand-drawn but legible.”

“Cool. I need to know if anyone is around who might be able to sense me from a distance and come looking. I can’t -“

Peter stood up. “Your father’s cruiser is coming down the street. And it’s slowing down.”

Stiles frowned. “He’s not due home for another hour and a half.”

Peter strode to the window and waited. “I’ll be on the roof, keeping an ear on you. Just in case.”

Stiles opened his bedroom door a crack and heard the front door open. Peter climbed out the window, and Stiles heard him settle on the roof. Stiles closed his door and opened his laptop.

Stiles sat and waited as he heard his dad walk up the stairs and stop outside his closed door. After a few seconds, there was a knock. “Hey, kiddo.”

The door opened, and his dad entered.

“Hey, Daddio.” Stiles spun around to face the door. “You’re home early. Or did I get the schedule wrong?”

“No. I’m still technically on duty, but I wasn’t needed at the station. And I wanted to talk to you about something. And, frankly, I wasn’t sure you’d be home if I waited until the end of my shift. I thought you might have left before I got here if you thought I wouldn’t be here for another hour and a half.”

Stiles frowned. “I didn’t have any plans tonight, Dad. I was going to start dinner in forty minutes so it would be ready just after you got home, but that was it. Unless I’m forgetting something. It isn’t anywhere near our birthdays or,” Stiles looked away, “Mom’s or any holiday. Well, July 4th is next week, but you usually work it because people get drunk and then get crazy around fireworks.”

The older man shook his head. “No. I don’t know of anything you’re forgetting. But I don’t know much about what you’re up to these days, do I?”

Stiles laughed uneasily. “Well, I am a teenager, Dad. Isn’t that culturally normal? I mean, psychologically speaking as children get older they assert their independence more and more and during their adolescence and later stages of puberty they stretch that as they prepare to leave home and be on their own after their formal schooling, whether it is to attend college or get a job or even take a gap year.”

“No more bullshit, Stiles. No more obfuscation. I don’t know what happened to you over the winter holidays, but you’ve changed. And not in a good way. And Scott says you have some very bad influences in your life that are pushing you down a bad path. And he’s worried about you.”

Stiles gritted his teeth. “Scott says? When exactly did Scott say?”

Noah sat on Stiles’ bed and tugged him around to face him. “He came to see me this afternoon after a talk with his boss, evidently. I’m not sure why he talked to a veterinarian about you other than him seeing Deaton as a father figure, but Scott said they were worried that you were going to end up ruining your life and seriously hurting someone or worse.”

Stiles scoffed. “Well, Scott’s a lying liar who lies, and Deaton is a cryptic motherfucker who has some agenda that I don’t trust.”

“Scott is your best friend, and he’s just worried about you. And frankly, I’ve been worried lately, too. All of the crime scenes you’ve shown up at? And the people you’ve been seen spending time with? Derek Hale? Isaac Lahey? I arrested them both for suspicion of murder, Stiles.”

Stiles rolled his eyes and smiled grimly. “And you let them go because they didn’t do it. You don’t understand. And let me tell you something. Whatever Scott told you today, the fucking hypocritical bastard, he lied. And the way I know he lied? If he had told you the truth and proved it to you? This conversation would be a lot different. But you don’t believe me. You never do. You just assume I lie and that Scott butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-his-mouth McCall is a sweet, innocent guy.”

Noah opened his mouth to retort, but Stiles bulldozed over anything he was about to say. “Yeah, I lie. I shade the truth. Especially lately. To protect you and others, mostly. But Scott? He lies just as much and even more than I do. And usually for much baser motives, like getting laid. So, frankly, I really resent how you just assume I’m in the wrong, and Scott is pure and perfect.”

Noah laid his hand on Stiles’ knee. “Alright, son, tell me your side. The truth. And I’ll listen.”

“I’ve been trying to protect you. You don’t know what is out there, Dad. And I am terrified of losing you.”

“I’m the adult in this relationship, Stiles. Let me take care of you. Let me help you.”

Stiles sighed and nodded. “I guess after what happened at the station, it was kinda naive of me to think that ignorance on your part would protect you. But so much happened around then and after. I just got overwhelmed.”

“Okay, kiddo. Well, share the burden, huh?”

“Okay. Well, first off, I wasn’t the one who changed over winter break. It was partly my fault but only to a small degree. That’s something I’ve had to realize. I blamed myself for a while, but I didn’t force it or do something directly. I made a suggestion. A strong one. But he could have said no. He has in the past often enough. So, I wasn’t changed. Scott was.”

Stiles swallowed and met his dad’s eyes. “The night you caught me in the Preserve looking for what turned out to be Laura Hale’s top half? Scott was with me. But I was a good bro and covered for him. But there was something else in the woods that night, and Scott ran across it. And it bit him. It was an Alpha werewolf. And it made him one.”

Stiles’ father gasped, and his grip tightened on Stiles’ knee. “God. Okay, Stiles, I need you to be honest with me, okay? I am hoping it isn’t – Scott said that Deaton thinks you should be admitted to Eichen House, it’s a psychiatric facility, for your protection. But if it’s just drugs? I can get you better help. Is it drugs, Stiles? Or are you hallucinating? Like – like your mom?”

Stiles clenched his fists. “I’m not on drugs, Dad. And fucking Scott wants to commit me to the asylum? On fucking Deaton’s suggestion? Fuck that! And fuck him! After everything I’ve done for Scott, helping him learn control and find an anchor – granted it turned out to be a shitty one but still – and all the times he nearly killed me? And he wants to lock me up because I don’t think he’s perfect, and I think someone else has a better idea than he does?”

“Calm down, son. It’s – it is going to be okay. We’ll take you and get you some tests, and maybe it isn’t exactly -“

“I’m not hallucinating, Dad! Werewolves are real!”

“Stiles, werewolves are fictional. Movies, TV, books, those games of yours.”

Stiles took a deep breath and frowned. “I’m sorry about this. But I need us on the same page. I need you to believe me and trust me, not McCall. And definitely not cryptic Druid Deaton.”

Stiles raised his hands and shoved his chair back, breaking his father’s hold on his knee. He flicked his hands and then twisted with one of them, so it ended up facing the other way. “Don’t have a heart attack, okay, Dad? Just be calm. Not that you can actually have a heart attack right now because it isn’t technically beating but still. Stay calm. You aren’t hurt. You just can’t move your body, only your head. It’s magic. But it won’t hurt you. It’s weird, I know, but it isn’t harmful. Not to you. It could be harmful if I wanted it to. But that’s the point, I don’t so you’re okay.”

Noah sighed and frowned. “Stiles magic isn’t -“ He blinked several times and opened and closed his mouth.

Stiles smirked. “You’re trying to move your body, aren’t you? You can’t. It’s frozen in time. It won’t last too long, but I needed you to understand. The supernatural? It is real. Werewolves and magic and demons and witches and druids and shifters, it is all real. Scott was bitten by a feral Alpha werewolf and was turned into a werewolf.”

The window behind Stiles slid open, and Peter slipped into the room. He nodded at the frozen man on the bed. “Sheriff.”

“Just letting me flounder there, creeper wolf?”

Peter rolled his eyes. “You wouldn’t have appreciated me stealing your thunder, darling.”

Noah’s eyes widened and then narrowed at the man.

Stiles sighed. “Peter is a werewolf. He was born one.”

Peter shifted his eyes, hands, and face into a beta shift. Noah jerked his head, and his eyes blinked faster. He tilted his head. “Where did your eyebrows go?”

Stiles laughed. “I know, right? I said the same thing. You would think their eyebrows would be more, you know? Bushier, bigger. Instead, they pretty much vanish. It is so weird.”

Noah nodded.

“So, will you believe me now? Scott is angry and has been making really shitty decisions since he was Bitten. And because I called him out on it and tried to make him see reality and not his skewed vision of it, he decided to come to you. Now, I’m sure Deaton had a lot to do with it, but Scott still made the choice to lie through his teeth about me and try to get you to reject me.”

Noah nodded. “I’m sorry. I’ve just been so worried, and Scott, I’ve known him since he was barely more than a toddler. He’s never been a liar. Not a good one, anyway.”

Stiles laughed harshly. “Yeah. Right. Scott is and always has been a master manipulator, Dad. He’s just got the innocent puppy dog look that works on almost everyone. And the shield of myself, the loud, abrasive, sarcastic jerk who draws attention and censure, even when I haven’t done anything.”

Stiles sighed and bit his lip. “Scott could give a master class in gaslighting. He even gets me with it sometimes. I’m more immune because I’ve seen him do it to others so often, but sometimes, he just knows the exact buttons to push, and I believe him and his version of events.”

Stiles waved his hand at his father, and the other man slumped as the magic released him. “Okay, kid. You obviously know your best friend -“

“Former,” Stiles interrupted.

Former best friend better than I do. And I believe you about this supernatural stuff. You proved it pretty damn effectively. But I need to know what has been happening for the last six months.”

Peter leaned against the window, and Stiles swung his chair back and forth. They shared a look, and Peter gave a small nod. Stiles licked his lips. “Okay. But the full tale is really, really, really long and involved and requires a lot of backstory and knowledge of the supernatural world. And you’re gonna want to have a drink. And a nice meal with red meat. But no cheese! Or cream! But just limit it to one drink, alright? You’re gonna want more as we get into it, but you need to be able to remember what I tell you clearly. And with more than one drink, you won’t.”

Noah frowned but nodded. “Okay. I’ll take what I can get. Especially if it comes with a steak.”

Stiles narrowed his eyes. “Mashed potatoes with almond butter, not dairy. And steamed veggies.”

“Deal. So, can you tell me anything before you bribe me with food and alcohol? I can’t drink for another hour or so. I am technically still on duty and could get a call.”

Stiles tapped his fingers on the side of his chair as it spun back and forth. “Yeah. Okay. Quick rundown of current players first. Peter is a beta werewolf. Werewolves require a bond with an Alpha werewolf to be a beta and not an omega, which is feral, and an Alpha typically requires at least three betas to be stable and not go insane.”

Peter nodded. “A smaller pack can work to keep an Alpha stable in certain circumstances, but three or more is best.”

Stiles nodded. “Right. So, the Hales were born werewolves. And Derek is the current Alpha. It was Laura until she died. Which we will get into later. But Derek has kind of four betas: Isaac Lahey, Erica Reyes, and Vernon Boyd.”

“Ah. That explains some things. But that is only three. Not four.”

“Right, well, the fourth is part of the really long story and is kind of his beta, but it is in flux. It’s Jackson Whittemore.”

“And that ties into the ‘prank’ where you kidnapped him.”

Stiles nodded emphatically. “It wasn’t a prank. But I couldn’t explain it because it was totally for serious supernatural reasons. Which are seriously complicated and will be part of the tale later.”

“Okay, and Scott? Derek bit him, but he’s not Derek’s beta.”

Stiles shook his head. “Derek didn’t Bite Scott. That was someone else. Later. I promise. It is an important part of what happened, but if I start, I won’t stop. And, no, Scott is not Derek’s beta. He sort of was for a time or pretended to be, I’m still not sure how honest he was being with that and how much was just a smokescreen. But he firmly rejected Derek as his Alpha a few days ago. With finality.”

“Okay. I hope this all makes sense later.”

“It will.”

“And I suppose your getting jumped was a cover?”

“Yes. It didn’t go down the way I said.” Stiles spun his chair around to face his computer.

Noah stood up and walked over and knelt next to Stiles. “What really happened, kiddo?”

Stiles swallowed. “I – I -“ Stiles looked over at Peter, his eyes watering.

Peter stood up and walked to stand next to the desk, opposite the sheriff’s positioning. “Part of the tale you’ll hear later is about Hunters. There are families that Hunt werewolves and other supernatural creatures. They supposedly have a Code and only attack those who attack them or mundane humans. And there are those who follow it. But not all. And the Argents are a family of Hunters. And many of them in the current generations don’t follow the Code. Kate Argent didn’t. Victoria Argent didn’t. Allison Argent didn’t, though there are supposedly extenuating circumstances there. Chris Argent sometimes doesn’t, sometimes does. He’s the best of a very bad bunch, the worst of whom was Gerard Argent.”

“The principal of the high school?”

Stiles nodded and sniffed. “And there just happened to be an opening for him when he came to town?” Stiles shook his head. “They killed him and disposed of his body to make room for Gerard.”

Blackhole of evil.

Peter nodded. “They aren’t supposed to attack humans. But most of the Argents consider them collateral damage if they don’t know about the supernatural and deserving of what they get if they do know and don’t Hunt.”

Stiles breathed out a long sigh. “Gerard’s goons kidnapped me when the lights went out. They took me to the Argent house, the one that belongs to Chris. They threw me down into the basement, literally. And they had Erica and Boyd strung up and chained with electricity running through them.”

“Electricity at a high enough voltage will keep us from transforming or will force us to stay in a transformed but weakened state. We are much stronger than normal humans.”

“They were torturing two teenagers.”

Peter nodded. “It didn’t surprise me when I learned of it. Being a werewolf has many benefits, but the downsides are bloody. Literally so.”

“Gerard came down into the basement, and after a bit of monologue, he hit me.”

“The split lip and black eye?”

Stiles inclined his head once. “I stumbled back and lost my balance and tripped over the chains. My lacrosse jersey got tangled up in Boyd’s chains on his legs, and I couldn’t get away from it.”

Noah grabbed Stiles’ shoulder. “The electricity?”

“Yeah. It hurt so much. I kind of faded in and out, and my heart was beating so fast. And Gerard just kept talking and decided beating me up – his original idea – wasn’t enough. He would just leave me there, trapped and frying until I died. He wondered if finding my body would make you have a heart attack and die. I was hurting, and I wanted to protect you, and I just had to stop him. I just flung out my hand and -“

Stiles demonstrated with a low-level energy ball.

“It killed him. I killed him. I am a monster, just like she said.”

Noah grabbed Stiles and turned him toward him, forcing him to look him in the eye. “What you did was self-defense of yourself and your friends. What you did was instinctual and not on purpose. But even if you had pulled out a gun and shot the bastard through the head, it wouldn’t make you a monster or a murderer. You did what law enforcement officers have to do all the time. Sometimes deadly force is necessary. Stiles, I’ve killed. Both in the Rangers and after I became a deputy. Am I a monster for it?”

Stiles shook his head, tears in his eyes that he refused to let fall. “No, Dad. No. You were a soldier and a cop. You did your duty.”

Noah put a hand on Stiles’ cheek. “So did you, kiddo. Maybe not your sworn duty, but we all have a duty to protect the innocent. And you did.”

“M-m-mom said -“

Noah hugged Stiles tight, the teen sliding out of the chair and onto the floor on his knees, the tears no longer denied or able to be held back.

“Kiddo, your mom was sick, her mind wasn’t – you know she didn’t know what she was saying. She loved you so much before the FTD stole her from us. You are not a monster.”

Peter moved the chair out of the way and knelt behind Stiles, one hand running through Stiles’ lengthening hair and the other on the back of his neck. His eyes met Noah’s, and Stiles could feel the energy between them as his dad nodded at the werewolf, accepting him and his platonic place in Stiles’ life.

==

Stiles sat on his bed with one of the handwritten books Peter had gotten him. It had been a week since his dad had found out about werewolves, magic, Hunters, demons, witches, and Stiles’ own recent discoveries about his heritage.

He had taken it pretty well. Stiles was grounded for another week yet for all of the lying and sneaking out he had done due to the supernatural. But he and his dad were closer than ever. His dad insisted he wasn’t a monster, that neither of his mothers was right about him. One because she was mentally ill and the other because she was prejudiced and grieving.

Stiles still didn’t really believe it. His first real use of his powers was to kill. And he had carried the voice of his mom calling him evil – Claudia, not Phoebe – in his head since before he was even close to double digits in age. And the added voice of Phoebe just made things worse.

For a while, Stiles had shied away from reading the book, and it’s entry on demons like his first father. He felt guilty and like he was cheating on his dad somehow. But several talks over the last week had convinced him that it was okay.

Stiles had decided to look at it like adoption, which it somewhat was, though unknowingly on the Stilinski’s part. And looking into your birth parents, or original conception parents in this weird case wasn’t denying your adoptive family.

Stiles opened the book and looked at the chapter entry entitled “Known Half-Demons”. It listed fifteen and said that most were born to full-demon mothers who tricked a human into impregnating them in order to have a child who could better blend into the mundane world. Three were the other way around with a male demon impregnating a female human. And one was a case of a man who was human but supposedly sold half of his soul for power.

The third listed was Balthazar. Stiles ran his finger over the name and had a vision flash of his father, Cole, standing in a house and smiling at Phoebe as she spun in a dance with another man.

Stiles lifted his finger. “Okay. Okay. So, that was Cole. And her. And some guy. And I am pretty sure that was the ‘manor’ the sisters live in. Or lived in. Only the eldest and her family live there now. And I still think calling your house a manor in the United States is pretentious as hell. But whatever, it isn’t like I like them anyway or will be visiting anytime. Ever. So, this can’t be the present, right? I mean, sure Phoebe could be there in the house visiting, but that guy she was dancing with was not her husband. I need to try to get a longer vision. I need to know what that was. It was so random. Why that vision, why not one showing his demonic half Balthazar? Or his days as a half-demon, which is what the book is talking about?”

Stiles turned the pages of the book until he had the entry about Cole’s demonic self open. He took a deep breath and reached inside himself. “I need more information and an explanation. Maybe a time frame?”

Stiles laid his entire hand flat on the page and pushed his power into it. He was immediately pulled into a vision series. It featured Cole and Piper primarily, in the house. But Piper’s body was lying on a sofa, and her soul or something wasn’t.

He listened as they bickered back and forth and saw Piper trying to get the attention of her sisters and the guy from the earlier vision. And he saw it not work. He couldn’t hear what the corporeal ones were saying, just Cole and Piper.

Piper asked Cole, “What are you exactly? Ghost, demon, poltergeist, nightmare?”

Cole smirked and replied, “None of the above. We’re caught in a cosmic void…between life and death.”

Piper was obviously upset. “I’m stuck with you?”

Cole sighed and shook his head. “No. If you play your cards right, you can get out of this nasty limbo. I’m the one who’s here for all eternity.”

Piper glared at him. “Paying penance for your evil past.”

Cole smiled lightly. “You always were the smart one.”

“Cut the crap.”

Cole frowned. “And direct. I miss that. Actually, no, I don’t.”

“Can you please just tell me what you’re doing here?”

“Simple. I’m here to help keep you and Leo together.”

The scene changed, and Stiles saw and heard Cole try to get through to Piper as she tried continuously to escape the house.

Finally, Cole said, “You’re my only hope. I’m cursed to live in eternity without love for what I’ve done, and I accept that. But I don’t want Phoebe to be cursed, too. She needs love.”

And Stiles fell out of the vision. He huffed and gritted his teeth. “Cursed for all eternity? Fuck that! I need to do some research and figure out what plane Cole is on. I’m this uber-powerful witch/demon hybrid thing, right? Prophesied to be so powerful and all? Fine then. I’m gonna get him outta there. And if I can’t give him life, I can help him move on to the next one. Not trapped forever for what life turned him into.”

Stiles bit his lip. “I’m pretty sure that was not recent. She has been happily married, according to all accounts, for years. So, this was Cole, dad, trying to make her happy even when he is cursed to limbo forever. Wow, he’s pretty great. And he really loved her. Loves her.”

Stiles pushed the book away and started to get up when his fingers grazed the page, and he fell into a short vision again. Cole was looking at Piper with a wistful look. He said, “Phoebe’ll make a great mom. Can you blame me for wanting to be the dad?”

Stiles blinked back tears as he closed the book, carefully not touching the relevant page. “He really loved me. Even when he was possessed by the essence of the Source. I saw that in my dreams. And even now. Maybe, maybe he will want me. Even considering -“

“Who will want you?”

Stiles spun around and flung out his hand, and Derek went flying towards the desk. Stiles gestured again, and Derek froze in midair. He took a deep breath and unfroze him but caught him with his telekinesis and lowered him to his feet.

“Um, sorry, dude, but maybe it isn’t so safe for you to do the werewolf sneaking up on Stiles thing anymore? I’m not really in total control of my startle response.”

Derek blinked, and his eyebrows raised. He nodded. “Yeah. Okay.”

Stiles smirked. “I don’t mind you using the window, dude, but do what Peter does and knock on it first. Okay?”

Derek nodded.

“So, what are you doing here, Sourwolf? I know you didn’t come just to get tossed around by yours truly.”

“There’s some info you need to know. I wasn’t going to tell you. I didn’t want you to get hurt. But Peter reminded me of your new – status. I don’t get how it happened, but you’ve demonstrated it pretty well.”

Stiles nodded. “Yeah. Gerard’s attack unlocked, or more to the point, finished unlocking my formerly bound powers. I was conceived as the child of a witch and a part demon. But another demon tried to steal me from the womb, and I ended up in my mom here. It’s really kinda complicated. And maybe I’ll tell you more someday. But we aren’t exactly friends, Derek. I don’t think you hate me anymore, and I never really hated you, not like Scott. But we’re more allies and working on being real Pack to one another. And my full backstory isn’t something I’m willing to share with just everybody, especially since I only just found out about it myself, you know?”

Derek nodded, his eyebrows lowered. “I get it. Private things are private. Even with friends. And I hope we can work towards that level.”

Stiles smiled. “Me, too.”

Derek leaned against the window. “So, there’s an Alpha Pack in town. They left their sign on the door of the house.”

“An Alpha Pack? Is that what it sounds like?”

Derek nodded.

“Okay. Not sure how the logistics of that would work, but okay. Why are they here?”

Derek looked down. “They test new packs and troubled packs. But they aren’t good guys. They kill if they don’t like a pack or want their power. There’s five of them. Currently. They all killed their packs and took their power for themselves.”

“Okay. Yeah, bad guys. Got it. And they showed up when?”

“The sign showed up at the beginning of July.”

“So, two weeks or so. Does Peter have more intel?”

Derek nodded.

“Okay, tell him to stop by with any books, and we’ll do research.”

Derek nodded and slid the window open. “Thanks. And Stiles?”

“Yeah?”

“I don’t know who you were mumbling about when I came in, but if he doesn’t want you, he’s a fool.”

 

Chapter Six

Stiles drove his Jeep down the street towards Erica’s house, he was picking up the three betas, and they were going grocery shopping for the pack ‘house’ that the loft was turning into. Most days, at least half of the Pack spent hours in the loft. Not counting Derek who owned it.

Derek had spent the day before getting more furniture and a big screen TV and game consoles and a huge sound system. He also bought a bed and bedroom set for the second bedroom. Isaac was going to be moving in. Stiles’ father had put a word in for Derek’s fostering of the beta.

At one point, it seemed like Isaac would get fostered with the McCalls, but it fell through after the events of the kanima attack at the house. Melissa wanted as little to do with the supernatural as possible when she had a son who was a werewolf. And with Scott decidedly out of the Pack, it wasn’t too difficult for her wishes to be met.

Stiles pulled around up at Erica’s, and she joined the other two betas in the Jeep. “Did Derek give you a limit? Or just give you cash? Or his card? Or what? He isn’t expecting you to pay, is he, Batman?”

Stiles shook his head as he pulled out into traffic. “No. He gave me his card. Derek knows there’s no way I could afford to feed five werewolves regularly without help. Plus me and increasingly Jackson and Lydia, too.”

Isaac sat forward. “Five? Without Jackson?”

Stiles shot a look across the Jeep. “Derek, you three, and Peter.”

Isaac nodded. “Oh, right. I forgot about Peter. He has been around a good bit.”

Stiles nodded in return. “Peter is in an odd position due to past events with Laura and Kate Argent and Scott. And Derek killing him and driving Lydia crazy to bring him back. But he’s also an essential part of the Pack. As the only real Pack elder, and Talia Hale’s Left Hand before the fire, his point of view is needed. Though he needs to have eyes kept on him, too. He isn’t evil, and he’s not feral any more. And keeping him in the Pack keeps him from going feral again. And trust me, we do not want Peter to go feral again!”

The betas all nodded, having heard lots of stories. Stiles pulled the Jeep into the parking lot of the grocery store. It was fairly empty, considering it was a weekday. But the day before had been the senior discount day, so all the senior citizens had done their shopping for the week then. And few teens grocery shopped, and the other adults were at work or asleep if on shift work.

Stiles liked doing his shopping at times like this. The lines were short, and the shelves usually pretty full. Shopping later meant fighting the working moms for the deals and proteins. Shopping earlier meant getting up earlier and often emptier shelves as the delivery guys haven’t arrived or the deliveries aren’t shelved yet.

Stiles locked up the Jeep as the betas started towards the store. Suddenly Stiles heard a choked off yell from Erica. He looked over the top of the Jeep and saw a towering bald man with bulging muscles holding Erica with his hand over her mouth. Two identical blonds who looked like teenagers had Boyd and Isaac on their knees.

Stiles’ eyes widened and realized this must be three of the Alpha Pack. There is no way three regular humans could be overpowering three werewolves. And they weren’t Hunters. Stiles couldn’t see any weapons or smell any odd odors like wolfsbane.

Stiles narrowed his eyes and gritted his teeth as the three presumed Alphas began moving away down the alley next to the store. Stiles wasn’t about to let any of his Pack get kidnapped by these assholes. And their information was obviously faulty as they were completely ignoring Stiles, who was arguably the most dangerous of the four of them, possibly of the entire Pack.

Stiles flicked his hands at the werewolves in the alley before they could start running. All six froze in place.

Stiles walked towards them and looked around and saw the security cameras. The Alphas had grabbed the betas in a blind spot, and the only camera in the alley was at the side door and seemed to only cover the door and the trash dumpster. The werewolves were beyond that point by several feet.

Stiles flicked his hands and froze the camera as he walked past and unfroze it seconds later when he was out of view. He approached the frozen weres and unfroze the betas who began to struggle.

“Calm down. They can’t move right now. I’m gonna get you loose. Then we’ll deal with them.”

Stiles focused his mind and pointed to the ground next to him. “Erica!”

He moved his finger to point a few feet over as Erica vanished from the Alpha’s grasp and shimmered into view at the first spot. “Isaac!”

As Isaac appeared, Stiles repeated his power use as he called, “Boyd!”

The third beta appeared next to Isaac and stumbled for a moment. Boyd looked at Stiles. “Thanks.”

Stiles smiled. “No problem. I wasn’t about to let them take you guys. Someone call Derek and ask what he wants us to do with these guys. I can’t keep them frozen too much longer. The likelihood of someone coming is pretty high. We’re lucky so far.”

Isaac pulled out his phone, and Derek answered while the others kept watch on each end of the alley. “Hey, Derek, uh, so we weren’t really paying attention. We’re fine, but when we got out of the car, three of the Alpha Pack attacked Erica, Boyd, and me and got the drop on us. They grabbed us and were taking us somewhere. Stiles stopped them and got us free.”

Isaac listened for a few seconds. “No, they can’t move right now, but Stiles says it won’t last. Either the magic or our luck. We’re in the alley, and if someone comes and sees these three guys just not moving, one of them actually has both feet off the ground like he had leaped to start running. The others have a foot up each and aren’t even swaying. Just, we don’t know what to do.”

Isaac nodded. “Okay. Just hurry up, okay.”

Isaac turned to Stiles as they all knew the other betas would have heard both sides of the conversation. “Derek, Peter, and Jackson are on their way. Lydia is going to wait in the loft.”

Stiles nodded. “I need to unfreeze them. Seriously, we can be interrupted at any time, and it’s better if I do it then if the magic runs out on its own. At least with me controlling it, we know the exact instant and can be ready. I’m gonna freeze the lens of the camera back there, just in case we end up in range. It’ll still record, but it’ll record the same image as right now.”

Stiles flicked his hand at the security camera and turned back to the frozen Alphas. “We have to stall them until the others get here. They can’t just run, it’s the middle of the day. Too bright and too many witnesses everywhere. And I don’t trust myself to blindly summon a living being that far. You guys were in my line of sight, and I just moved you like three feet. Maybe that’ll change in the future after more practice, but as of now, it’s just us. Keep them busy and try to keep them in this part of the alley, if you can. The driveway back there behind the store is barely used this time of day. It’s where the delivery trucks park. And 3, 2, 1, now!”

Stiles flicked his hands at the frozen werewolves, and they rejoined the normal timestream. The twins looked down at their empty arms and then at each other. The bald muscle guy gave a harsh growl and spun around. As soon as he saw them, he charged.

Stiles jerked his head, and the alpha werewolf skidded towards the wall, but Stiles frowned. He had meant to toss him into the wall. The guy was heavy with muscles and power. The twins began stalking toward Isaac and Boyd, and Stiles tossed a couple of medium level energy balls at them. They backed off a few paces, but in his distraction, the other Alpha had gotten close to Erica and swiped at her.

Erica had clawed the Alpha but got clawed in return, and she wasn’t healing as quickly as he was. Injuries inflicted by an Alpha were slower to heal.

Stiles tossed some stronger energy balls at the pair and hit the Alpha, as he had intended. The man roared and turned towards Stiles. Stiles flicked his hands, but the werewolf barely slowed, and Stiles jumped up, instinctually. And surprised the hell out of himself as he hovered in midair as the Alpha charged by under him.

Stiles decided he needed to freeze the guy again. And hope they stayed lucky with the lack of looky loos. As he hovered, Stiles flicked his hands back to where the Alpha was turning around and put extra power into it, considering how much the magic was not working on him.

The extra power inadvertently changed the nature of the power. Rather than slowing the molecules of the werewolf down, Stiles sped them up, and the man exploded into itty-bitty, bloody pieces, none larger than a quarter.

Stiles lost control of his levitation and landed on the ground on his ass in surprise. And a voice drawled from the alley entrance by the store, “You really pack a punch, darling.”

“Shut up, Peter.” Derek hurried down the alley and faced off with the twin Alphas, who put their hands out to the sides.

The twin on the right spoke. “We don’t want any trouble. We didn’t know you had a magic-user. Deucalion thinks he’s just a human.”

“You tried to kidnap my betas!” Derek’s eyebrows lowered, and his eyes glowed red.

The same twin spoke. “Listen, the Alpha Pack isn’t a democracy. We do what we’re told. My brother and I, we were omegas within our Pack. Our Alpha, our father’s brother, killed our grandfather for his spark just after we were born. He was going to retire and give it to our father. But our uncle’s second killed our father, and our uncle killed our grandfather and took the Alpha spark.”

The twin on the left looked away. “He made our mother his concubine. She killed herself when we were six. And he and his second, well, Aiden and I have scars. Even after becoming Alphas. And the rest of the Pack either looked the other way or tortured us as well.”

Aiden nodded. “Until Deucalion, Kali, and Ennis came. They had recently lost two of their fellow Alphas. We found out much later that they killed them for supposed betrayal. And to take their power. Deucalion and the others killed most of the pack and approached us. He said Ethan and I could be powerful and respected. We just had to kill our uncle.”

Ethan smiled a bitter smile. “And we did. We each sliced one side of his throat at the same time while Ennis held him still. We shared the spark between us, and then Deucalion told us to kill the only other Pack member left. It was our uncle’s second. He was even more sadistic than our uncle.”

Aiden sighed. “We didn’t make it fast. Totally the opposite. But we killed him. But that’s all we’ve killed. Deucalion has used us and our special ability as twins and twin-Alphas to hurt people and chase them down. But he won’t let us kill. Because of our circumstances, if we killed too many wolves and magic users, we could become more powerful than him, much more quickly than he did.”

Ethan shrugged. “We don’t mind much. The Alpha Pack isn’t great, I guess. But it is lots better than what we had until we met Deucalion. But he and Kali and Ennis are all really strong. They each killed their own Packs, and they’ve killed lots of wolves, Alphas, and betas both from other packs.”

Aiden and Ethan shared a look. Aiden spoke, “Your Pack is more powerful than Deucalion realizes. We don’t want to die. And after your magic-user killed Ennis, Deucalion would kill us for not stopping it or at least revenging him somehow. And completing our task. And if we attack you like he would want, we will die. Like Ennis. We would ask you to consider our request of sanctuary, Alpha Hale.”

The twins dropped to their knees and bared their throats. Derek looked at Peter, who bit his lip before shaking his head. He mouthed the word “target.” Derek inclined his head.

“I can’t offer you sanctuary at this time. It would do nothing but increase the size of the target on my Pack. To Deucalion and Kali and to others, you have harmed and left alive.”

Derek looked at Stiles with a raised eyebrow and jerked his head towards the twin Alphas. Stiles tilted his head and nodded.

“I can cast a spell to allow your twin bond to protect you from going feral without a pack bond. Even as twisted as it was, the bond you had within the Alpha Pack kept you more or less stable. I suggest you run. If the spell begins to fail, you will have plenty of time to find a pack.”

Derek took another step forward. “If the spell begins to fail and you do not have an option near you, I will allow your return to Beacon Hills. And potentially entrance into my Pack at that time. But only if you do not kill unless in self-defense. Find a new path that is not the one Deucalion walks.”

Ethan nodded and looked down, biting his lip. “Deucalion found another Hale. She was headed here, and we intercepted her. Someone told him she was coming. He is holding her in an abandoned bank, in the vault. His pet Druid keeps her confined with mountain ash.”

Peter and Derek looked on the verge of panic attacks. Stiles stepped forward.

“Which Hale?”

Aiden mumbled, “She said her name was Cora.”

Derek gasped, and Peter blinked hard. Stiles inclined his head. “Thank you for the freely given information. We will remember your words and deeds for our Pack.”

Stiles took a deep breath and wished he was better at poetry as he chanted over the twins:

Strength of the wolf, Human control,

Blood by murder unspilled is the goal.

Two hearts in brotherhood bound,

Strong in mind until Pack is found.

A white glow surrounded the pair and centered over their heads before it sank into them. They stood as one and nodded. “We thank you, Alpha Hale. Emissary.”

Aiden shivered. “We will keep in touch. Good luck, and I hope you are victorious.”

Ethan smiled. “Deucalion is powerful and tricky. Be careful.”

The twins turned and began running down the street out of sight, away from the downtown area.

The Pack walked out to the parking lot, and Stiles waved his hand at the camera once they were beyond its range. “We still need to buy food for the loft.”

Derek nodded. “Okay, you and I will shop while the rest take care of the mess.” He looked over his shoulder at the betas, young and old. “Go around the store and through the driveway, so Stiles doesn’t have to mess with the camera again.”

Jackson looked incredulous. “I wasn’t even here until after Stilinski blew him up. Why do I have to pick up the pieces?”

Derek raised his eyebrows. “Pack bonding.”

Stiles chuckled. “Get some heavy-duty trash bags, and I’ll levitate the pieces into them. You all carry and dispose of them. Not in a dumpster. Either take it to the dump or out into the woods.”

Peter nodded. “I have some in my trunk.”

Erica snorted. “You just have murder clean-up supplies in your car trunk?”

Derek growled lowly. “First, it wasn’t murder. It looked accidental from what I saw at the end. And he did it to save your life. Second, Peter knows what he’s doing. You should learn from him. All of you.”

Peter smiled and turned to his car. “Come on, puppies. Do and learn. Be glad we won’t need the shovel. This time.”

==

It was just over 48 hours since Ennis had died, and Stiles, Peter, and Lydia had convinced Derek that they needed to have more of a plan than break the bank wall down and fight.

Jackson had asked his best friend Danny for help after bringing him in on the supernatural, and the other teen had hacked the bank’s internal security cameras. The Alpha Pack had spliced into the power grid to get electricity in the abandoned bank.

And when they shut the bank down after a horrifically bloody and monetarily huge robbery, they just closed the doors and left it as is. The employees took their personal effects, and the remaining money was taken off-site. The safety deposit boxes were also emptied by their renters. Other than that, the furniture, from desks to computers to the water coolers were still in place. And so were the security cameras.

With the electricity flowing in the bank, the cameras worked, and Stiles, Peter, Lydia, and Danny were able to watch the remaining two Alphas. They confirmed that Ethan and Aiden simply ran out of town, not returning to Deucalion and Kali.

And they watched over Cora. Luckily, while Kali seemed more than a bit unhinged, her lack of shoes and constant foot claws being a big hint, Deucalion was more outwardly stable and logical.

Cora wasn’t being actively tortured. She was locked in the bank vault, which had a mountain ash barrier as a door rather than the vault door. She was being fed, she had water, and a bucket for her bodily needs.

And watching the camera feed revealed the mysterious magic user when they lowered the ash barrier to feed Cora. It was Marin Morrell, the new school therapist/counselor who started working at the school in early March. Lydia was especially pissed off because she had trusted the woman and opened up to her about her attack at the winter formal.

Stiles had also been forced to see her after the events at the police station when Matt attacked and killed so many. He was angry, but at least now he understood where the Alpha Pack had gotten their information on the Pack members from. And it made sense that she didn’t know he was more than human. The last time he had seen her for a therapy session had been a week before Gerard kidnapped him when his powers were still mostly bound and only read as a weak spark.

So, with the knowledge that Cora was safe from harm, other than being confined, and that Deucalion and Kali were two of the most dangerous of the Alpha Pack, to begin with, Derek agreed to wait.

He and the betas were in the Preserve, working on learning to work together during combat, as a Pack should. Lydia and Danny were watching the security camera feed in the loft, and Lydia was working on mediation to get more in control of her newly awakened powers. Stiles and Peter were at Peter’s apartment, going over the newly acquired blueprints of the bank and its immediate surroundings, sewer lines, pipes, wires, courtesy of Noah. Noah was at work but was ready to lend a hand when called.

Stiles was mapping the route through the sewer system, hopeful that it could block their scents from Deucalion and Kali. Peter was looking over the construction notes of the bank building itself.

Stiles traced a line and leaned back. “So, I didn’t have a chance to tell you. I was reading that book, the one with info about Balthazar? And it triggered a few visions.”

Peter’s head jerked up. “Are you alright?”

Stiles nodded. “Yeah. Kind of. Maybe. They were visions of the past. But not when he, Cole, was the Source.”

Peter nodded. “When he was still Balthazar?”

Stiles shook his head. “No. It was after the last vanquishing you heard of. After whatever happened, the Elders, or whoever, punished Cole for eternity and locked him into some kind of in-between place. A cosmic soul void zone. Or something like that. He is trapped for all eternity, doomed to watch but never interact unless someone is in a near-death situation of a particular kind.”

Peter pursed his lips. “What are you planning?”

Stiles chuckled. “You really know me well, Zombiewolf. I won’t leave him there. I’m gonna contact him, figure out a spell and a ritual and reach out, talk to him and see what I find. If he’s redeemable, I’ll find a way to free him, re-embody him. If he’s insane, which I don’t think he is, or he wasn’t in the visions, but that could have changed considering the torture he is under, I’ll find a way to release his soul or whatever to the next journey. And stop the Elders from interfering.”

Peter tilted his head. “Dangerous. What if he plays you?”

Stiles shrugged. “I’m more powerful than he is. If it comes down to it and he tricks me, and I was wrong, and he is essentially feral or full-blown evil? I’ll put him down. And he won’t get back up. I’ll send him on to his next great adventure.”

“Alright, Dumbledore. Just be careful. Something like this, hiding it from the ‘people’ who trapped him? Won’t be easy.”

Stiles nodded as he finished tracing a route through the sewers to the bank’s basement wall. “I already cast a spell weeks ago to hide me from those who would harm me. And I included the Elders and demons specifically.”

Peter turned back to his papers. “Good, just don’t underestimate them.”

“I won’t.”

“Shit!”

“What?”

Peter stabbed his finger at the blueprint. “The bank vault is made with a lining of hecatolite. It scatters moonlight. Cora won’t be able to feel the moon’s effects, or not much of it, while trapped inside. It will accumulate, and if we wait too long?”

Stiles huffed. “She’ll be feral?”

Peter nodded. “If it’s near the full moon or on it.”

Stiles smiled. “Lucky we’re nearly ready with our plan, and there are over three weeks until the next full moon, huh? If we hadn’t had the info from the twins, if we had to find her the long way? Deucalion and Kali haven’t left the bank since we found them there. Morrell brings them food and supplies. And we wouldn’t have known to track her. And if we didn’t have access to the cameras?”

Peter snorted. “Derek would have attacked right away without any real plan. And it likely would have been on the full moon. Because Deucalion would have set it up so we would find them then.”

Stiles nodded. “And it would probably have been not just Cora we were rescuing but at least one of the betas, if not all of them.”

Peter rolled his eyes. “And Deucalion would set it up so Derek would have no choice but to kill one of them. Thus giving him their power and starting him on the road to wanting more of it. Corrupting him and his Alpha spark.”

Stiles flicked his head. “Well, too bad, so sad, Deucalion. He’s playing by our time table now.”

Peter smiled and pulled out his phone to call Derek while Stiles texted Lydia and Danny that they were on their way back to the loft with a plan and intel.

==

The werewolves and Stiles made their way through the sewers using the route that started several blocks away found by Stiles to the basement of the bank. They had to carefully break through the wall of the building, but they luckily found it was actually already compromised.

Stiles guessed it had been partly damaged in a somewhat minor earthquake that happened not long after the robbery. He made a note to mention it to his dad. There were a rather large number of abandoned buildings, commercial, residential, and industrial in Beacon County. And they might not know there is structural damage if it isn’t obvious. And that could endanger nearby occupied buildings.

Stiles used a spell to muffle sound, and Derek and Boyd broke through the rest of the wall, making a hole large enough for them to fit through. They really wanted the element of surprise if they could get it.

They made their way up the stairs to the main floor, Derek in the lead until they reached the doorway and found that Deucalion planned for unseen variables. Pun not intended but welcome, Stiles chuckled mentally.

There was a mountain ash barrier across the doorway. It could be meant as a deterrent to Derek and his Pack arriving when Deucalion wasn’t expecting them. Or in case Cora was able to overpower Morrell and try to escape. Or most likely, both scenarios and more had crossed the ‘Alpha of Alphas’ mind.

Stiles eased around Derek on the staircase and slid a finger through the ash, breaking the barrier. Derek grinned down at him and flicked his chin. Stiles eased around the door, close to the floor, and saw an empty hallway. He held up a closed fist.

Derek leaned his head out of the muffling spell area, keeping his torso and thus his heart and its beat within it. He tilted his head and held up three fingers on his left hand and one on his right.

Stiles tapped Derek’s thigh, and they eased back into the staircase and faced the Pack. Stiles made a letter C with his hand and gestures to the right. Derek’s eyes glowed red, and he pointed to the left with two fingers. Stiles lit a small energy ball in his left palm and held it towards the left.

The Pack nodded and shifted into their strongest forms as they entered the hallway. Stiles took a deep breath and nodded. As they reached the entranceway to the main lobby of the bank, Derek grinned, his mouth full of fangs and his clawed hand counted down from five. As he clenched his fist with zero, Stiles dropped the muffling barrier, and the Pack entered the lobby, howling and roaring.

Derek, Boyd, and Isaac jumped on Deucalion. The older Alpha was obviously shocked but recovered quickly enough to send the two betas flying into the teller windows. Derek rolled to the side and got up to face the man who had imprisoned his sister.

Jackson and Erica both got good hits on Kali before she was even aware she was in danger. Erica clawed her upper thigh, and Jackson scored a deep cut in her back. She roared in pain and faced them, swiping out with her hands, catching Jackson along his arm. Erica darted in and under the other arm and dug her claws into Kali’s back.

Stiles slid in front of his school counselor and grinned a bitter grin, knocking the mountain ash she had grabbed from a pocket out of her hand. “No, no, no, Ms. Morrell. No helping your murderous Pack. You get to deal with me. Too bad for you.”

The woman shook her head. “You underestimate me, Mister Stilinski. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I take my oaths seriously.”

Stiles huffed a bitter sounding laugh. “You’re the one with the assumptions. Your first impressions are long wrong.”

Stiles tossed a low powered energy ball at her, and she dodged. Stiles grinned. “Surprised? How about this?”

Stiles flicked his hands out and froze the Druid. He twisted one hand and unfroze just her head, as he had done to his dad so many weeks before. “My Pack is strong and united. We aren’t fodder for insane megalomaniacs. We killed Ennis when he tried to kidnap members of the Pack. And the twins left town rather than share his fate. You chose poorly.”

Stiles kept an eye on the disabled Druid and a watch on the other fights as much as he could.

Isaac and Boyd had gotten back up after a minute and joined Derek again in his attack on Deucalion. They were getting hits in on the older man but were taking damage as well.

When Kali faced Erica and Jackson head-on, with them keeping her attention in front of her, Peter joined the fray from behind and nearly killed her, his claws nicking her spinal cord.

When Deucalion heard her roar and saw her sinking to the ground, alive but unable to move, he threw his opponents across the lobby into the walls. He took on Kail’s opponents and knocked them into some desks and sent Peter flying down the hallway they had entered from.

Deucalion reached Kali and frowned. He knelt beside her as the others scrambled to get up, and he placed a hand on her forehead. “I am sorry, my friend. But I need your power.”

Deucalion’s other hand ripped through Kali’s throat, and he threw his head back and roared as she died, and her twisted, powerful spark joined with his own. His eyes glowed red, but it was a sickly red of blood dried and left rotting. He faced Stiles and began to leap at him when his head snapped back, and two echoes rang through the bank lobby.

Stiles looked up at the high windows over the lobby and nodded at his dad, their backup plan. He had borrowed a sniper rifle from an old Ranger buddy, and Stiles had helped him make wolfsbane rounds for it. He looked at the so-called demon wolf, the scars around his eyes from Gerard Argent’s betrayal so many years before. And the bloody holes where his blinded eyes were until two rifle shots took them out.

The Alpha Pack was no more, and their twisted sparks were being purified by the earth rather than absorbed by one or more of the betas. Or worse, by Derek.

The Pack surrounded Marin Morrell, and Stiles unfroze her body. He stared at her in contempt. “Your oath holder is no more. The Alpha Pack is dead. Hopefully, Deucalion’s twisted ideals die with him. How many did you assist him in killing? How twisted is your own spark of magic?”

“I keep the balance, and Deucalion was a necessary evil within that.”

“An evil that evil is no balance. And how much less death and destruction would he have caused without your help and your magic? You feel you are pure and correct? Let us let the universe make the judgment. Karma. It exists:

Let cruelty, pain and evil ways,

Follow this Druid through all her days.

Reverse the torment she creates,

To turn on her a crueler fate.

An it harm none she may do what she will

Bound by blood to this rede

Per months of those she helped to kill

If true of intentions

And truly pure of heart

She leaves this place unharmed

To have a new start.”

Magic rose with each word, colored swirls, in red and black and whitish blue. They swirled around Stiles and the Druid he had cursed and sank into her skin with his last word. She fell to her knees, weeping.

Stiles frowned. “Not so pure of intention or heart after all? How long will you be bound?”

Without seeming to be conscious of it, the weeping woman opened her mouth and said, “Twenty years and three months.”

Stiles closed his eyes and turned away, his mouth clenched shut. Jackson frowned at him. “What’s that mean, Stilinski? That’s a long time.”

Peter scoffed at him. “Stiles bound her to the curse for one month for every person she helped the Alpha Pack kill that wasn’t in self-defense or with true pure intentions. Twenty years plus three months means she assisted in murdering 240 people. She can’t use her magic or anything to harm for over twenty years to make up for the evil she has done. And she will feel the pain she inflicted on others for four hours, a minute per person. Possibly more if she has others, she harmed before the Alpha Pack.”

Jackson blanched.

Stiles sighed. “A curse like that wouldn’t take the deaths caused when you were the Kanima as needing retribution in you, Jackson. You had no control. It would have rebounded on Matt and Gerard, though, if it was cast on you. And her curse would have rebounded on Deucalion at least, if not Kali and Ennis, if they were alive. It probably won’t impact the twins, but if they lied about their actions, it might. And anyone else responsible will get at least the edge of it. It’s a karma curse. What goes around, comes around. Threefold.”

 

INTERLUDE

Phoebe gave her daughter P.J. a hug as she was ready to walk out the door, headed to a morning of summer day camp. As Phoebe’s arms closed around P.J., she shivered as she fell into a vision. It only lasted a couple of seconds in real-time, and she released her without the little girl realizing anything had happened.

Phoebe waved as P.J. boarded the little bus that the camp provided for its campers and smiled until it was out of sight. She closed the door and rubbed her head. “Great. Just great.”

Phoebe phoned Billie and asked her to come to watch her two-year-old daughter, Parker, and the six-month-old baby, Peyton. She needed to go to the manor and check the book and talk to her sisters about her vision.

An hour later, Phoebe, Paige, Piper, and Leo were in the attic of the mansion. Phoebe was paging through the Book of Shadows impatiently.

Piper sighed. “What was in this vision, Phoebe?”

Phoebe turned another page. “You remember that choppy vision I had just before Peyton was born? The one with the unidentified creature and the two boys?”

Paige blinked. “The one with no real identifiers? Even for time?”

Phoebe nodded.

Piper sighed. “That was the one we couldn’t figure out the triggers for.”

Phoebe nodded again. “And in the end, we decided we couldn’t do anything about it. We weren’t sure who the innocent was, who or what the creature was, where or when this stuff was happening. Plus, I was pretty heavily pregnant, couldn’t exactly go wandering around trying to recognize woods somewhere in the world. We all decided to wait and see if I got another vision with more clarity or if we stumbled across someone or something from the vision elsewhere.”

Leo put his hand on Phoebe’s shoulder as she turned several more pages in the book. “It was the only thing you could do, Phoebe.”

“Yeah, maybe, but I just had another vision of one of the boys from the first one. It was just as choppy, though. It’s like something is blocking my powers but can’t do it fully for some reason.”

“Okay, so remind us about the creature. It was big and had,” Paige big her lip, “was it red eyes?”

Phoebe nodded. “The creature in the old vision, yes. But there was a new creature in this one. It was hard to make out, but it had scales and yellow, slitted eyes like a lizard. And a tail, I think. And the boy, the one with the buzz cut, was lying on the ground and shaking and trying to move his finger, but it was like he couldn’t. I only saw for like a split second. Then he was in a pool and treading water and holding up a man with dark hair and stubble. They were inside, the pool wasn’t outdoors. And the boy, he had on long sleeves, in the first flash and this one. That was all I saw.”

Piper nodded. “Okay, so still no identifiers? But the same boy. So, it is very likely he is either your innocent or your demon.”

Paige shook her head. “It has to be the former, he’s the innocent. And he’s maybe drawing demons to him. Remember, the first one was hairy and had red eyes. This one is scaly with yellow eyes. The kid may be a witch or something but doesn’t know it.”

Leo nodded. “That’s possible. Or he could be a part-demon, drawing them in to claim him, to raise him, or take his power.”

Paige shrugged. “That would still make him the innocent.”

Phoebe flipped through several pages of the book, her teeth gritted. “That’s great and all, but I still have no idea where he is. He could be a few miles away, or he could be halfway around the world.”

Piper pursed her lips. “Well, we can narrow it some. He was wearing long sleeves and in an indoor pool. These could be visions of the future, but I suspect they are more likely of the past. Probably this winter or early spring just passed.”

Paige grimaced. “Unless he’s in the Southern Hemisphere. Then the seasons are switched around, and it would be winter and cold now.”

Piper inclined her head. “Okay. But it was an indoor pool. If it was outdoors, it would be more open for locales, but indoor pools aren’t nearly as common.”

“Common enough,” snarked Phoebe. “This boy is our innocent, and I have no idea how to help him. And I really need to. I – I just need to find him.”

Leo closed the book when Phoebe tried to begin paging through it for the third time. “You don’t have any clues for how, Phoebe. All we know is he’s a teenager, and he’s white with a buzz cut hairstyle. And he lives near a large forest and has access to an indoor pool.”

Phoebe sank onto the sofa. “I just feel so helpless. There’s this place inside me that is just almost yearning to find him. And I can’t.”


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penumbria

I write and make art for multiple fandoms.

2 Comments:

  1. I’m really enjoying this a whole lot. I’m glad that the Sheriff is so supportive of Stiles once he learns the truth. Stiles needed to hear at least one of his parents tell him that he is not a monster and that his actions were self-defense. And I love how you are building the pack here, and how much more cohesive they are. <3 <3 <3

  2. Great crossover. I love that the Sheriff was on board after having definitive proof. I haven’t actually watched the series, just a few episodes. So, I just read some of the fanfics.
    But love this one. 🙂

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